Little wellbeing in being a temp 1

December 16, 2005

So David Guest believes that, in terms of "wellbeing", those who are on temporary contracts are certainly not "worse off" than those on permanent contracts ("End the 'jobs for life' culture", December 9).

I would be extremely interested to be privy to Guest's operationalisation of the term "wellbeing". As a competent and hardworking member of academic staff who has had to make do on a succession of temporary contracts, I suspect my conception of wellbeing is radically different from that used by Guest in his research.

I would suggest it is difficult for permanent staff (and I am perhaps making an error in assuming Guest is on a permanent contract) to have lost that real sense of stomach-churning, motivation-sapping anxiety and uncertainty accompanying employment on a succession of such contracts. My latest contract, for example, is for four months. I am not looking for a mortgage at this stage of my life but I can well anticipate that I would be refused by lenders. I'm sure homelessness would be a significant factor in any sensible definition of wellbeing.

I hope that those in the permanent gang respect and appreciate the contribution of their temporary colleagues doing the same job and delivering the same quality to students while wondering where their next income will come from.

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