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Diggers' Forum report on away work and travel is out
#11
Thanks for the feedback Unit, I think you have everything round the wrong way... The survey wasn't about tax returns, although it did touch on the subject. The survey was to find out what was going on, and how the Diggers and Employers felt about it; only now can we develop responses from a position of knowledge - and that may well include investigating the tax situation further.

The survey defined away work in the way it did as that is the way that most archaeologists define it, and they were the ones we were asking to fill out the survey, not the tax man! If we only asked about those sites which are away from the office, we would have missed out on the experiences of those who do not live near the office in the first place and are working away from home even when they are washing finds in the office! We covered all aspects and permutations of working away from home and from office and that came through in the results. I don't think that it was a big mistake, I think it was a benefit. I think one 'big mistake' I made was to advertise the survey as about 'away-work' first and foremost, as I feel that it may have put off some who travel and commute to work, but who don't see themselves as working away. Luckily we did have responses from many non-away workers, but there is a chance the sample is skewed to those living out of rucksacks. But I still think the survey and the report is balanced and valid.

We did ask the employers if they had any problems/issues with the HMRC around these issues, and apart from an employer who was having to justify an increase in subs, and annother who paid the tax bill for some accommodation, none expressed any significant problems and where there are tax issues these are flagged in the text. Given that many subs have not been increased for over ten years, I find it hard to see how this would be a problem if the case for increase is intelligently put...

The recommendations shouldn't generally create any extra tax problems -none of the advertising ones should as they are merely about transparency, and neither should any of the travel and away work recommendations. They merely call for a levelling-up of the current varied and byzantine terms and conditions which occur across the industry. Many of those T&C do have tax implications, but they already have those implications now. When we have more feedback on all the recommendations we will certainly do more to highlight tax and other issues so Diggers can make more informed decisions, for example we've already highlighted the need for business-class car insurance when driving to different sites. Anyone who would like to assist with our work in doing this would be very welcome.

Any more feedback would be great.

The principle recommendations on transparent advertising are:
  • Details of the starting salary available to a new starter, avoiding use of incremental pay ranges that may make salaries appear greater than they could be for a new starter.
  • State what level of experience is required for the post.
  • Any probationary period.
  • Details of sick pay, holiday entitlement and pension provision including any qualification periods.
  • The length of the working week and whether any compulsory overtime may be required.
  • Where the job will be based and whether away work is envisaged.
  • Whether a driving licence or specific skills card is required.
  • Indicate whether accommodation will be provided if the contract is a short term appointment and whether there is any charge for this.
  • Indicate whether there are any subsistence allowances for away work and how much these are and when they are paid.
  • Give details of pay for travelling time for both drivers and passengers, clearly stating that travel time is not paid if that is the case.
The principal recommendations for travel and away work include:
  • All travel time outside of core hours should be paid to all staff, or the equivalent TOIL accrued: this should be paid to all drivers and passengers. Staff should be paid for their hours.
  • All driving and passenger time on Saturdays should be paid in full at time and a half, or the equivalent TOIL accrued; all driving and passenger time on Sundays should be paid in full at double time or the equivalent TOIL accrued.
  • Mileage should be paid to all employees who use their own vehicles for work‐related travel. Where company fuel cards are used a payment should be made to cover running costs, wear and tear and depreciation on a pro‐rata monthly rate.
  • Mileage rate of at least 40p per mile, reviewed annually and increased in line with the RAC Cost of Motoring Index or a similar index.
  • Away work to be triggered after a drive of a maximum of 1.5 hours unless it is for a short duration (1‐2 nights maximum), and all staff are happy to travel.
  • National minimum sub of ?15 a night for stays in B&B, rising to ?20 a night in April 2013 to reflect inflation.
  • Minimum notice period for away work of two weeks except when absolutely unavoidable, possibility of ‘on‐call’ and ‘off‐call’ system for last minute away jobs.
  • Rotation of staff on away jobs in a transparent manner.
  • Rotation of drivers to prevent fatigue and ensure driving pay is spread around the team.
  • National register of terms and conditions relating to travel and away work allowing employees to compare different employers.
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#12
They all seem pretty admirable and sensible suggestions, Chiz. I think the one about a minimum notice period would be good, but unfortunately i've never had experience of a developer being that reasonable - i think virtually every case is unavoidable as most units seem to have little choice in the matter!

As for paying travel time that should obvoiously be as standard now, none of this free commuting nonsense. However, will there be some form of sub clause to this as i'd imagine most drivers (and it always seems the same few) might get pretty cheezed off getting paid the same as passengers who can grab a kip in the back!

Other than that seems great. Thanks for all of your hard work!
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#13
Chiz As you say in your response

Quote:If we only asked about those sites which are away from the office, we would have missed out on the experiences of those who do not live near the office in the first place and are working away from home even when they are washing finds in the office!


These are just some of the variables which I am suggesting that you needed to separate out. Your survey starts with the “inequalities” that the two groups first get upset about- The group that have their homes close to the office and those who don’t. I think that it might be fair to imagine that those who live close probably occupy the more senior, longer associated positions in your survey and those whose “home” are furthest away are probably the most recent employees on the shortest contracts. You have then conflagrated these issues with those who are employed on a site based away from the “office”. We can imagine that this also creates other groups, possibly another two- those who happen to have a “home” close to the site and those that dont.

We now have four potential groups. (Lets not start thinking about those who were employed for the away job but happened to live close to the office but I suspect they are a signicant group) Obviously given the random nature of all things these four (five) groups don’t necessarily inhabit the site in equal numbers/ genders / age groups and assorted disabilities. Throw in a bit of whos doing the driving, b&b, rented, camper van and whos turn it is to do the tea, rumour’s of lack of a next job and basically you can write the results of your survey.

Now tax is cruel but has common law scenarios for any of these groups and all these scenarios will be based on where the “normal place of work” is defined and no mention of home or hearths except that the employee will be expected to pay for travel, ordinary clothes and food to enjoy this “employment” at this defined normal place of work for tax purposes .

And what I would like you to have found from your survey is that self employment pays in as much that these four (+) groups of employment are all dissatisfied mostly because they feel they have been taken advantage of -be it through standard management divide and conquer techniques (which they have learnt from dealing with unions) and so naturally these "workers" feel that they inhabit an even more temporary and tenuous position than if they were closer to the office base. Well the self employed have already faced up to the tenuous position of archaeological site based life but have the advantage that they can claim legitimate business expenses such as using the mobile to find the next job that probably includes phoning home to see if any mail has arrived because there is a good chance that their "home" is defined for tax purposes as their office (of sorts).

But then the ifa/bajr are still struggling to accept that anybody who calls themselves an archaeologist needs to be self-employed to overcome all the problems and more that your survey alluded to, let alone try and help the average self employed negotiate more permanat understanding with the tax authorities than the twittering of unitof1 or bajr.

How many self-employed answered the survey? Is it cause they felt that it wasn’t for archaeologists.
Reason: your past is my past
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#14
Hi, thanks for the comments and apreciation Dirty Boy.

I totally agree that the issue of notice is hard, but wherever you can give notice you should, and the option of having 'on-call' and 'off-call' periods can work. Some employers expect staff to be able to work away at a days notice, routinely. That means you cannot plan any activity between Monday first thing and 9pm Friday when you may get back from an away job. That has huge knock-ons for personal lives and opportunities to train and learn new skills as the survey results show. A job is a job, and with it will come a certain amount of commuting and disruption, the survey shows Diggers are happy with this, as are the rest of the working population. We aren't and shouldn't be a 'special case', but when it is unreasonable that is different.

Unfortunately many units do NOT pay any work-related travel time, or only pay it for supervisors. The old chestnut of people sleeping in the back whilst you drive is a problem, but if driving is rotated is less so. Of course that depends on people all being able to drive...it shouldn't mean that you don't have to pay travel time though, should it?

Out of interest, do you think a 'compare the units.com' site would be good? The aim being to allow Diggers to compare what is on offer and make a more informed choice.
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#15
Hi Unit, thanks for the reply. I do see what you are saying (which makes a pleasant change) but I still think you have it round the wrong way. You seem to be starting from wanting to see certain results from the survey to confirm your beliefs that self-employment is a better way; we started with as few preconceptions as possible and have let the results speak for themselves. We haven't produced a polemical diatribe, but I hope a reasoned and balanced report that really adds to the debate. Some may be dissapointed that we aren't ranting, but I think our attitude is a better one.

We did have some self-employed archaeologists reply to the survey, they certainly did see it as being for archaeologists. I personally feel the whole area of SE needs more attention and it would be an intriguing area to investigate. I also agree (as a former freelancer) that it is a viable and satisfying way to be an archaeologist, but it is not (under the present system) the only way, nor is it suitable for most archaeologists at the start of their career. But yes, tax-deductable costs do change ones attitude to certain 'problems', but being able to charge a decent day rate would help more.

Being freelance is certainly a way to mitigate the 'problems' of archaeological employment, but unfortunately many archaeological freelancers just don't charge enough and don't understand enough about being self-employed (and many are being just as manipulated and underpaid by archaeological companies that sub out to them).

Should the IfA/BAJR etc do more to explain how SE works or try and perhaps negotiate with the HMRC? Quite possibly, and its something the Diggers' Forum addresses every now and then with articles and input into guidance (well there had to be guidance didn't there!), but we do have a lot of issues to cover and we try and concentrate on where we can make most impact for most Diggers. Writing a 'how to be a freelance archaeologist' would be useful, but to my mind until the 'self-employed' market in archaeological field staff sorts itself out, I'm not going to be encouraging anyone to join it that can't work out how to do it on their own.
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#16
Sorry about the rant affect. I just throw I am self employed at the survey and decided that it had been engineered by sheep. I obviously came at your survey with a biased opinion from my experiences of being a self employed digger on sites which had away teams into my “home” patch.

I would describe the experience as cat amongst the pigeons. On matters of negotiating a rate some of it was about trying to work out what the various assortment of archaeological jetsom were being paid by their often smug inept management so that I could cut some form of “fair” deal. Often along side having to confront the problem of management not knowing how to contract a self employed archaeologist which often involved obscure account department procedures( councils, trusts, universities) not understood or controlled by the so called management-and all of the ifa. There is also problems the field staff trying to work out what you were being paid to add to their list of inadequacies. I would say that that no matter what contract you eventually agreed that if the field staff found out a figure they would immediately take the sum to be a vast fortune compared to what they were being paid when in fact what I was undercutting was the accumulated costs of travel expenses, living expenses, accommodation, pensions (although never really worked out what this totalled over a lifetime) , employer NI contributions, union subs, ifa membership(just kidding,) holiday pay and sick leave (which was often at biblical plague proportions) and if I was making anything it was from nicking permatrace although I would say in my defence that their normal use of thesheets was often criminal.

I think your statement about

Quote: [SIZE=3]I not going to be[/SIZE]
[SIZE=3] encouraging anyone to join it that can't work out how to do it on their own.[/SIZE]
should be extended to
Quote:[SIZE=3]anyone who cant work out how to do it on their own really shouldn’t be encouraged to call themselves an archaeologist
[/SIZE]
which is really my whole issue with most of the archaeological world (including curators). Basically there are a lot of people in archaeology who cant workout how to be an archaeologist. They act exactly like voliiurtetyers and are treated as such by the establishments that have evolved over the years or made it up yesterday.

Now whats all this digadventure all about hay, no doubt boundless enthusiasm for my rates or yours hay or are they looking further back into the crowd. Looking forward to the bonfire in the archive -good for roasting potatoes but will all the newbies know this, doubtful.
Reason: your past is my past
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#17
Unitof1 Wrote:Sorry about the rant affect. I just throw I am self employed at the survey and decided that it had been engineered by sheep.

Baaa!

Good points Unit, and I hope people actually read what you say in these last few posts. Yes there is a lack of awareness in many archaeologists, someone once said to me that many Diggers don't ever really grow up and take responsibility for themselves -which I guess is partly what you are saying. I do kind of agree, but what I and the DF are trying to do (and of course what David tries to do) is give Diggers the tools and information to take responsibility.

I did look into developing a new model of archaeology -'spaghetti co-operatives' of skilled freelancers (Diggers and specialists) working for proper wages, travelling -yes, and working as real subbies for companies or consultants who would be spared the risks of full time employees. Only problem is that we'd be competing against the sheep, and the units need the sheep to make money on larger jobs from the day rates they charge. The kind of set up I imagined is being done, but generally not on an even playing field and there is still the sheep problem in how it is all run, its still Master-Servant -I just don't see it as being that different in freelance site work than employee site work, but maybe its changed in the last 3 years.
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#18
Quote:[SIZE=3]travelling -yes, and working as real subbies for companies or consultants who would be spared the risks of full time employees. Only problem is that we'd be competing against the sheep, and the [/SIZE][SIZE=3]units need the sheep to make money on larger jobs from the day rates they charge[/SIZE]

signs you might be a sheep dog.

Where I don’t like the efforts of your rejected pasta model is that you see the archaeologist as the outsider coming into someone elses field of sheep. I specialise in my area, my home field. In my model the consultants and units eh cba and their sheep are coming into my patch. What going on in your home patch. Is it that the other local archaeologists and the consultants actually don’t want to have you about because they are too happy to fleece the sheep. Me thinks that they have got you in their paradiam. Dont play their game. Arnt you the fore most expert in your area?
Reason: your past is my past
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#19
Travel isn't the prime function, I'm just accepting that there isn't enough work in one area (with some exceptions) to keep everyone busy all the time. Hence a need for people to move around. I agree that local knowledge is a great benefit, I hadn't realised you were such a believer in Local (Authority) Units.

Unitof1 Wrote:Dont play their game. Arnt you the fore most expert in your area?[/FONT][/SIZE]

I'm not really the person to comment, I'd need some DigVentures marketing spin to be able to claim that....
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#20
how big an area do you want? (to raise a family, write the book, drink the beer, play rugby, shag the naybour) digspin scotland is about sheep.

believe me- local authoriy unit has very little to do with local archaeologist makes quick buck.
Reason: your past is my past
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