Locums take over as CCT destroys permanent posts

Helen Sage reports

A sharp increase in the use of locums in local authority legal departments has led to the demise of the public sector image of short hours and a job for life, it has been claimed.

Specialist local government legal recruitment agency Badenoch & Clark has recorded a 30 per cent increase in the number of locums employed in local government since 1993.

According to the agency, the change, affecting a whole range of jobs including acting heads of legal sections, can be put down to the revolution caused by the introduction of CCT.

Alison Smith, manager of the temporary and contract legal team at the agency, said: "We have seen something of a revolution in local government legal departments over the last four years. The onslaught of CCT causes unrest, and for many legal departments the future remains uncertain. You cannot offer a permanent job when you're not sure there will be one in a year's time."

Neil McArthur, legal practice manager at the London Borough of Hillingdon started using locums when CCT was first introduced.

He said: "We didn't want to get into a situation where we would be recruiting for a position which we didn't know would be available after reorganisation."

Law Society recruitment consultant Elaine Lynch said: "From talking to local government employees it seems that there is no longer any long-term job security. With services contracted out every four or five years councils can no longer look to the long term."

Kevin Breslin a solicitor at the London Borough of Newham has had several temporary contracts in local government.

He said: "I prefer the flexibility and the fact that I have no obligation to view my job as permanent. There are no hard feelings if I decide to leave or if the council decides to get rid of me. Most contracts end up lasting for about a year."