LETTER:Solution sought for wardens' woes

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The Independent Online
From Mr Paul Thurston

Sir: May I comment on your article "Probation hostel wardens offered `zero-hours' deal" (6 November)? As an agency properly concerned with public protection, we ensure that our hostels always have at least two members of staff on duty at all times. Relief staff are used to cover the absence of permanent staff. Some of these absences are predictable (eg leave), and others are not (eg sickness).

This element of uncertainty means that relief staff have to be employed on a casual basis and we cannot guarantee a minimum number of hours. They are not expected to be on standby just in case. They can have other jobs and they can refuse offers of work from us without detriment. Both men and women work in this capacity and most are quite clear about their employment status. There is no proposal to offer all relief staff a zero-hours contract.

The issue you raise is in connection with just two relief staff, both of whom feel disadvantaged financially by the requirement to alter the rotas. We are in negotiation with them to try and resolve this matter satisfactorily.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Thurston

Assistant Chief Probation Officer

West Yorkshire Probation Service

Wakefield

6 November

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