Sheffield barbers cutting back despite high demand

As lockdown measures eased this week, barbers in Sheffield are still finding themselves counting the costs of Covid despite their services being in very high demand.

As people scramble to book in for a cut following four months of closures, many from the profession are still struggling from the repercussions of having to get by only on freelance government grants.

Dom Stables, 41, of Abbeydale Road says: “You are technically employed but without the protection of employment rights, like a pension or holiday pay. They can fire you on the spot without warning. In lockdown they didn’t have to give you any support or furlough, but now want you to work 12 hours a day, six days a week.

“You are technically employed but without the protection of employment rights, like a pension or holiday pay. They can fire you on the spot without warning. In lockdown they didn’t have to give you any support or furlough, but now want you to work 12 hours a day, six days a week.”

The precarious work situation in the industry, where it is most common for the barber to be self-employed and rent a chair at a shop for a 50/50 share of the profit of each cut, sees many experiencing the instability of insecure earnings with very little support from their employer.

The effects of lockdown have only exaggerated the impact of these issues. The hours often exceed the UK’s legal working hours of 48-hours a week, with emotional pressure or the threat of job loss, used to persuade employees to consent. The boom-and-bust experience of multiple lockdowns has highlighted the unsustainable nature of this working model across the industry, leaving many to work excessive hours to try and make up for months of lost earnings.

 

Written by Scarlett Pimlott-Brown

Journalist & Documentary Photographer. Focus on development / humanitarian / migration.

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