COMPANIES are using the pandemic as an excuse to cut jobs and impose contract changes that have a detrimental effect on work-life balance, experts say.

Dr Rona Beattie, who is Professor of Human Resource Development at Glasgow Caledonian University, believes there is “absolutely no doubt” that firms are breaching employment regulations.She says there is evidence that companies are re-negotiating contracts affecting pay, shifts and conditions or simply imposing changes while staff are facing increasing pressure to continue working after shifts end.

Campaign group Better Than Zero says other issues which have come to light include forced use of holidays and said they were also seeing an increase in health and safety breaches.

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Dr Beattie believes there will be an “explosion” of research looking at the impact of home-working on health and wellbeing, saying while many have reaped the benefits, for some it has intensified the working day while staff are facing increases in utility and broadband costs.


She said: “There is little doubt that airlines, aviation, hospitality, tourism and retail (was already suffering due to online shopping) has been especially hard hit.  "However, the danger is, if they pare their workforce so much in short term will they be able to respond effectively to any economic upturn.

Glasgow Times:

"Whilst difficult to prove I think some organisations are using [the pandemic] to cut jobs and/or restructure and/or propose change in future contracts, including pay and how many hours are worked, for new staff and even returning staff. 

“The other thing I’m seeing is employers saying if a job comes in – say it’s a repair – and it takes you past your normal finishing time, some of them are saying, you have to work on that extra half an hour to get that finished for the client.

“I’m hearing of people – and I won’t name the companies – moving from a working-on period of 45 minutes to two hours.

“So how do people manage work-life balance and caring responsibilities, and why should you be giving your employers two hours of your free time?"

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She also expressed some reservations about the extension of a government scheme, applicable in Scotland, which will see employers given grants to take on trainees.

She said: “My concern is that some companies may use it for cheap labour and job substitution, as I observed in some companies with the YTS (Youth Training Scheme). 

“In contrast, other employers genuinely used it to train young people with a good chance of employment at the end, and could be a better option than a dead-end low-paid job. Local authorities were an example of good practice then.”