Charging some of the city’s lowest paid workers £59 for the privilege of carrying on doing their jobs is simply unfair.
Everyone agrees with the need for tighter checks on people working with children and vulnerable adults following the tragedies at Soham and elsewhere. Of course, carrying out these checks costs a lot of money – more than £1 million in the case of the city council – at a time when public services are short of funds.
But spending that money is still the right thing to do – and passing on the cost to staff is still wrong. Many of those having to pay have been doing the same job for years before this was sprung on them.
Anomalies in the way the change is being handled at different public bodies only adds to the injustice. In Edinburgh, a surgeon earning more than £100,000 a year won’t have to pay, but a school dinner lady or classroom assistant earning little more than the minimum wage will.
Part of the blame for the mess lies with the Scottish Government, which could have issued guidance on handling the new regime. But it is not too late to put things right.
At the very least the council could waive the charge for staff earning less than, say, £25,000 a year.
Supermarkets often get a hard time of it. Whether it is being accused of destroying the high street or peddling horsemeat, they haven’t had their PR problems to seek.
Sainsbury’s, however, should expect nothing but kudos for its commitment to hire local teenagers for a new city store.
While only a lucky few may actually end up getting jobs at the new Longstone store, the experience of the interview process will still be invaluable for many others as they take on the challenge of finding work. Let’s hope many more employers follow the example and try something similar.