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Relief chefs are treated unfairly

03 August 2006
Relief chefs are treated unfairly

I'm a freelance chef and nearly every job I take means entering a difficult situation: short-staffed, with poor working conditions, poor wages and poor organisation - the list goes on.

But time and again we as a group are treated badly. We're often called money-grabbing, mercenary, and so on. Yes, I'm in it for the money, but I and others like me also provide a service and without us many kitchens would shut because there aren't enough permanent chefs.

It has also made me question what has happened to the idea of a day's wage for a day's work. Because I'm paid hourly my clients often then realise how many hours I work. But I work all these hours without lieu time, holiday pay or sick pay. As I'm self-employed I also save the employer on national insurance contributions, but in recent times I've lost more than £1,000 in non-payment.

I've therefore had to introduce terms and conditions because of the industry's attitude - wanting something for nothing. I now pass all non-payers over to a debt-recovery agency, who if need be go to court on my behalf. You pay your own staff, so why not pay a freelance chef?

These terms and conditions have cost me working relationships with agencies, because they only look out for themselves. Let's cut through the guff with agencies. Researching staff, ideal candidates, vetting - all buzz words in the industry, but remember it's only about money. I supply a professional service, so I won't work where clients abuse my services. You wouldn't abuse a plumber or electrician - so why do it to a chef?

I work 70 hours and expect to get paid for 70 hours, not 40 hours as the industry currently is.

norfolkinchefs-inkitchens@yahoo.co.uk

By e-mail

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