Author of " Every Way of Earning a Living," " Our Sons and Daughters," etc.
Posts in the various Government and municipal offices possess a peculiar fascination for many workers, and there is no gainsaying the fact that such positions have many attractive advantages. By the adventurous and ambitious they may be termed "slow" and uninteresting, but even admitting that one's progress in the office of a governing authority is not meteoric, and the work routine work, the regular and moderate hours, a "living wage," and the stability of one's appointment must be given the fullest consideration.
A New Departure
Amongst prominent bodies who have recently decided to employ women clerks is the Metropolitan Water Board. Arising out of the consolidation of the work in connection with the assessment of water charges, authority was given for the preparation of a standard water rental, and it has been decided by the Appeal and Assessment Committee, who will be responsible for the work, that the standard rental should be kept on what is known as the "card" system. The Board recently had under consideration the question as to the staff to be engaged on this work - a new departure as far as the Board was concerned - and having consulted the Appeal and Assessment
Committee on the subject, they decided to appoint women clerks for the purpose.
This step, however, was not taken before very careful and exhaustive inquiries had been made on the subject. They were informed that the women clerks employed by the Bank of England and other banks, by insurance companies, railway companies, and other large trading concerns, had proved to be " efficient in every way."
Though the Board have decided, for the present, that one superintendent, one senior clerk, and ten junior clerks will be sufficient, vacancies no doubt will occur from time to time, whilst it is not improbable that, should the experiment prove successful, women clerks will be employed in other directions by the Board. The age limit for candidates for the office of superintendent has been fixed at 25 to 35 years of age, and those for the other clerks 18 to 25.
Applications for Vacancies
Vacancies are advertised in the leading daily papers, and should a girl desire to apply for a position with the Board, her first course is to procure from the Metropolitan Water Board, at Savoy Court, London, W.c., particulars of the appointment and forms of application. From these forms the prospective applicant must decide immediately whether she is sufficiently qualified to undertake the duties if she were appointed, for should she decide to become a candidate, she must hasten to forward her application before the advertised date - usually a week after the vacancy has been announced.
For the post of superintendent, the selected candidate is responsible for the proper conduct and control of the staff of women clerks. The commencing salary is £90 a year, rising to £120 by annual increments of £10, conditional on a certificate by the head of the department that the conduct of the officer has been satisfactory in all respects during the preceding twelve months.
A superannuation and provident fund has been established by the Board. Deductions of from 3 to 5 per cent., according to age of entry, are made from the salaries of officers participating in the benefits provided by the fund. The rates of contributions are as follows:
Age of Entry
Under 25 years
25 years and upwards, but under 30 years
30 years and upwards, but under 35 years
35 years and upwards, but under 40 years
40 years and over
The main benefits provided by the funds are, briefly, as follows:
A superannuation allowance of one-sixtieth of the average amount upon which the contribution has been levied during the last five years of service for each year up to a maximum of forty-sixtieths. No contributor retiring from ili-health after ten years' service will receive an allowance of less than one-fourth of such average amount.
2. On abolition of office:
A special superannuation allowance, calculated as above on years of service, with an addition of one-fourth thereof, up to a maximum of forty-sixtieths.
3. In case of retirement from ill-health before completing ten years' service:
The officer's contributions, with interest at 3 per cent, per annum, to be refunded with a gratuity of like amount.
4. Refund of the officer's contributions is also provided in the following circumstances, with or without interest, as the case may be:
(b) In the event of death while in the service (with interest).
(c) In the event of death after retirement, the difference between the officer's contributions, with interest, and any payments made by way of superannuation allowance, will be refunded. 5. In case of retirement of women clerks on marriage:
The officer's contribution, with interest at 3 per cent, per annum, to be refunded. This superannuation scheme is not compulsory, but the Board have decided that no person shall be appointed on the permanent staff unless she has given an undertaking in writing that she will become a contributor to the fund. A copy of the scheme will be supplied free to every person entering the employment of the Board.
The attention of candidates is directed by the Board to the fact that applicants for employment under the Board must not in any case, or under any circumstances, canvass members or officers of the Board, or ask from them letters of introduction or recommendation.
In the case of all appointments made on a rising scale, the first increment takes effect from April 1 following the completion of one year's service.
In applying for the post of superintendent, the applicant must, among other particulars, state where she was educated, whether she has sat for any public examination, and, if so, with what result. She is required to say whether she possesses any knowledge of card indexing work, and she is also asked whether she has any experience in the management of a staff. Particulars of previous employment, together with copies of not more than three recent testimonials, must be forwarded with the application.
Similar conditions to those governing applications for the post of superintendent exist in the case of senior and junior clerks. For these posts, however, the Board emphasise the fact that neat handwriting is an essential qualification. Applicants must not be less than 18, nor more than 25 years of age, and must be unmarried or widows.
Any candidate may apply for either a senior or junior clerkship, or for both. Successful candidates will be chosen on the result of written and oral examinations. The written examination will be in handwriting, spelling, English composition, precis, and preparation of tabular statements, and arithmetic.
The final selection will be made from amongst those candidates who, in the opinion of the examiners, have displayed to the best advantage the necessary qualifications.
The commencing salary for senior clerks is £78, rising by annual increments of £6 10s. to a maximum of £91 a year. The commencing salary for junior clerks is £52, rising by annual increments of £6 103. to a maximum of £72 a year. The annual increments will be conditional, as in the case of the superintendent, upon a certificate by the head of the department that the conduct of the officer has in all repects been satisfactory during the preceding twelve months.
Candidates must state, for the information of the Board, whether, if appointed, they will reside with relatives, friends, or otherwise. The female clerks enjoy the benefits of a superannuation and provident fund upon the same conditions as those instanced in the case of the superintendents.
Though in the particulars of the appointments which have been issued by the Metropolitan Water Board, that body does not refer to typewriting and shorthand, efficiency in these important features of office work will, no doubt, not only prove a recommendation, but will enhance the utility, and consequently the reputation, of appointed candidates in the estimation of their superior officers.
To those girls who care for office work, an appointment to the staff of the Metropolitan Water Board should appeal strongly. Both in respect to the hours of employment, salary, and general surroundings, a clerical position with this authority bears favourable comparison with most of those to be obtained elsewhere in the world of commerce.