Author Topic: Working practices  (Read 4493 times)

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lady_disdain

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #30 on: December 22, 2013, 12:22:18 PM »
I am always amazed at how little protection the American worker has.

Here, some of the workers' protection is good (and makes sense) and some of it is, in my opinion, rather over the top and over protective.

The good: 30 running days of vacation/year after the first year (most employers allow people to schedule 20 working days at the employee's discretion), you get the sick days you need according to a doctor (the first 30 are covered by the employer, the rest by Social Security), if you are "unjustly" fired (there are reasons to justly fire an employee: attendance, insubordination, dereliction of duty, etc), your employee pays a fine based on your salary and time of service, 6 months maternity leave including for adoption, transport subsidy for low pay workers, etc.

The bad: justifying firing someone can be hard (even if the employee hasn't been meeting goals, low productivity, etc), 1/12 of your salary is deposited in a government account for emergencies (you can access the money if you are fired, get seriously ill, buy a house but you guys have no idea how much this irks me! I can handle my own money, thank you very much), flex time is not really common (lots of liabilities).

perpetua

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #31 on: December 23, 2013, 04:29:31 AM »
In this folder, the mods often get reports of concerns regarding political content.  From the forum rules:
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Discussions on politics and religion are not typically germane to this forum. The caveat to this rule is when discussions of politics or religious beliefs or practices can illuminate other people's understanding of different religions and cultures so that tolerance is promoted.

So that's your guiding light.  See the full post on forum rules here: http://www.etiquettehell.com/smf/index.php?topic=2.0

Edited for HTML issues.

This actually wasn't meant to be a political thread in any way, Wordgeek, so I hope people don't take it as such. I started this thread so we could have a better idea of our respective backgrounds and working cultures when discussing things that arise at work, so I think that fits nicely with the caveat quoted above. A situation arose on a thread recently where some non-UK posters seemed to be having real trouble understanding that expectations were different here, and were only using their own country's work-related rules and experiences to judge the subject of the post as rude or not. So I thought it would be helpful for future discussions. I hope people take it in that spirit :)

perpetua

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #32 on: December 23, 2013, 04:40:28 AM »
I am always amazed at how little protection the American worker has.

So am I. It shocks me, honestly.

I've always got the impression, from what little I know about US culture (and I'm learning a lot more being here on the forum) that 'hard work' is a very prized notion in America, something to aspire to (as it should be, of course). As such, given that it *is* seen as such a thing to aspire to, I'm always surprised that perhaps it isn't rewarded a little better with nicer working conditions/reasonable amounts of time off/not having the threat of being fired at the drop of a hat.


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1/12 of your salary is deposited in a government account for emergencies (you can access the money if you are fired, get seriously ill, buy a house but you guys have no idea how much this irks me! I can handle my own money, thank you very much),

Where are you based, lady_disdain? That sounds like an interesting scheme, although I can see why it would bug you.

Here we pay something called National Insurance, on top of our income tax, and it's deducted before you receive your pay. It's about 10%, I think (although it's one of those things like the price of a pint of milk: I never know exactly how much it costs because you have to buy it anyway, if you know what I mean). That goes towards things like healthcare and state benefits. If you find yourself out of work and need to claim unemployment benefit, you've already 'paid into the pot', and are entitled to it (and if you haven't, you get 'income related' benefits instead of 'contribution related' ones - I'm not sure exactly what the difference is though).

That's another thing. Employers don't pay 'unemployment'. It comes from a central pot.

Margo

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #33 on: December 23, 2013, 07:57:18 AM »
As Perpetua said, we don't have 'at will' contracts here (UK)  - you do have less protection from some types of dismissal etc in the early stages of your employment.

So, for the first 2  years (used to be one) you are protected against being dismissed (or suffering constructive dismissal) on the basis of racial, gender or age discrimination, but you can be dismissed for other reasons.

Once you've been employed for 2 years or more there are very strict rules about sacking people, and failing to follow them can result in a tribunal case which can award compensation or order someone to be reinstated.

Where there are lay offs because the job is no longer available (redundancy) there are again strict requirements to have a fair  selection criteria and to give workers the chance to be heard on the issue. If you are selected for redundancy you are entitled to a redundancy payment which is based on your earnings and length of service, although there are caps.

Because of the cost and complexity of sacking someone without risking being taken to a tribunal, its not uncommon to agree a compromise arrangement whereby someone will agree to leave voluntarily rather than going through disciplinary proceedures and being sacked, in return for a lump sum payment (it benefits the employee as they also are able to say they resigned from their last job, rather than having to say they were dismissed. For instance, we had an instance last year with an employee who had been performing really, really badly - it wasn't bad enough to qualify as gross misconduct or to allow us to dismiss him immediately, we had to go through the disciplinary procedure, giving him formal targets for improvement,  support and monitoring etc,. We came to an agreement that we paid him the equivalent of 2 months wages and he left. From a business point of view this was better than leaving him in place while we went through all the procedures to get rid, not least because we could not have started recruitinmg to replace him until he was gone (as doing so while the disciplinary process was going on would have risked us being accused of not conducting the process fairly, as it assumes he'll fail.


In relation to carers / parents, there are provisions that say (from memory) that parents/carers are entitled to unpaid time off to deal with family emergencies, but it'[s not absolute - I think the requirement is that employers facilitate this where reasonably practical.

Most employers will have either formal or informal provisions for compassionate leave but there is no statutory requirement (e.g one of our employees lost their spouse unexpectedly - they were given 2 weeks paid compassionate leave)

Maternity leave here applies on adoption as well as following the birth of a child. The employer must keep the job available for the parent during their maternity/adoption leave (although they can still be made redundant, provided that the selection criteria for redundancy are fair)

Employees are entitled to ask for flexible work arrangemetns (for instance, coming back part time after maternity leave) and employers are required to consider the request and to try to accommodate it where practical. The bigger the company is, the more likely it is that it would be unreasonable to turn down a request for flexible / part time work.

Yvaine

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #34 on: December 23, 2013, 08:39:02 AM »
I am always amazed at how little protection the American worker has.

So am I. It shocks me, honestly.

I've always got the impression, from what little I know about US culture (and I'm learning a lot more being here on the forum) that 'hard work' is a very prized notion in America, something to aspire to (as it should be, of course). As such, given that it *is* seen as such a thing to aspire to, I'm always surprised that perhaps it isn't rewarded a little better with nicer working conditions/reasonable amounts of time off/not having the threat of being fired at the drop of a hat.

I think for a lot of people in the US, there's sort of a subconscious thing that hard work is so awesome that people should be willing to do it for nothing. I don't mean this as a political statement but as a subconscious mindset that I think a lot of people have, all over the political spectrum, without really examining it. I've heard of cases where a company was going under, the paychecks started bouncing, and the employer was shocked that people stopped coming to work when they weren't getting paid anymore! Ask a Manager emphasizes all the time that "I work, you pay" is the actual deal and nobody should let themselves get guilted into working for free.

Likewise, I think some in the US think it's lazy and indulgent to have too much vacation. Again, because work is just so awesome that we should want to do it constantly.   ;)

camlan

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #35 on: December 23, 2013, 10:52:48 AM »
I'm treading a fine line here with the legal stuff, so this is intentionally vague.

There are some federal and state protections for workers. There are "protected" classes of employees. This means that you cannot fire someone for race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age (40 and over), sexual orientation, being disabled, veteran status, gender. There are federal and state categories and individual employers can have their own polices--they can add categories but they can't remove them.

Most large companies have policies/regulations about firing employees, in order to avoid wrongful dismissal law suits. A typical policy designed for an employee who's work is not up to standard might be an oral warning, a written warning, a one or two month probation period during which certain goals must be met, and finally, firing.

It's expensive to find, hire and train a new employee, so most employers do try to work with people before firing them.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2013, 10:57:17 AM by camlan »
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lady_disdain

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #36 on: December 23, 2013, 11:17:46 AM »
Quote
1/12 of your salary is deposited in a government account for emergencies (you can access the money if you are fired, get seriously ill, buy a house but you guys have no idea how much this irks me! I can handle my own money, thank you very much),

Where are you based, lady_disdain? That sounds like an interesting scheme, although I can see why it would bug you.

Here we pay something called National Insurance, on top of our income tax, and it's deducted before you receive your pay. It's about 10%, I think (although it's one of those things like the price of a pint of milk: I never know exactly how much it costs because you have to buy it anyway, if you know what I mean). That goes towards things like healthcare and state benefits. If you find yourself out of work and need to claim unemployment benefit, you've already 'paid into the pot', and are entitled to it (and if you haven't, you get 'income related' benefits instead of 'contribution related' ones - I'm not sure exactly what the difference is though).

That's another thing. Employers don't pay 'unemployment'. It comes from a central pot.

I am in Brazil. If I got fired, I would get 6 months unemployment (quite a low ammount, actually) from Social Security plus I would be able to withdraw that money (FGTS: Time Served Guarantee Fund).

Katana_Geldar

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #37 on: December 23, 2013, 02:34:59 PM »
I am always amazed at how little protection the American worker has.

So am I. It shocks me, honestly.

I've always got the impression, from what little I know about US culture (and I'm learning a lot more being here on the forum) that 'hard work' is a very prized notion in America, something to aspire to (as it should be, of course). As such, given that it *is* seen as such a thing to aspire to, I'm always surprised that perhaps it isn't rewarded a little better with nicer working conditions/reasonable amounts of time off/not having the threat of being fired at the drop of a hat.

I think for a lot of people in the US, there's sort of a subconscious thing that hard work is so awesome that people should be willing to do it for nothing. I don't mean this as a political statement but as a subconscious mindset that I think a lot of people have, all over the political spectrum, without really examining it. I've heard of cases where a company was going under, the paychecks started bouncing, and the employer was shocked that people stopped coming to work when they weren't getting paid anymore! Ask a Manager emphasizes all the time that "I work, you pay" is the actual deal and nobody should let themselves get guilted into working for free.

Likewise, I think some in the US think it's lazy and indulgent to have too much vacation. Again, because work is just so awesome that we should want to do it constantly.   ;)
DH was telling me about this construction company that was going bad and expected it's workers to work over Christmas without pay. They downed tools.

magicdomino

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #38 on: December 23, 2013, 05:21:22 PM »
U.S. Federal Government workers start with 4 hours Annual (Vacation/Personal) time and 4 hours sick leave every two weeks, for a total of 13 days of each per year.  Between 5 years service and 15 years service, you earn 6 hours of Annual leave per pay period; after 15 years, you earn 8 hours (26 days per year).  You can keep a maximum of 240 hours of annual leave.  Any annual leave over that will be lost on the first pay period of January.  For instance, right at the moment, I have 16 hours of "use or lose" that needs to be used before January 11th. 

We also get all federal holidays.  If a holiday happens to fall on a weekend, we get either Friday or Monday off, whichever is closer.

By contrast, when I worked for a small defense subcontractor, we earned 40 hours (5 days) each of vacation and sick leave.  We couldn't carry leave over to the next calendar year, but we did get paid for any unused leave. After two years, the vacation was increased to 8 days; at either 3 or 4 years, you got the maximum of 10 days worth.  Sick leave remained the same -- which is why I took leave without pay for doctor appointments. 

We got most of the federal holidays.  We were given a choice between Columbus and Veterans days, and usually voted for Columbus Day, since it was in October, and November already had Thanksgiving.  By the way, neither place gave the day after Thanksgiving off, although many private companies do.  On the other hand, the president usually grants us Feds Christmas Eve off if Christmas falls on a Tuesday.  Not like there's going to be a whole lot of work getting done anyway.    ;)

Hmmmmm

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #39 on: December 23, 2013, 06:03:24 PM »
As others have said, the difference vary enormously be company and type of work in the US.

When I had my 2 kids (early 90s), my company (Fortune 100 Oil company) provided me full pay for 8 weeks (it was called short term dissability) and I could take another 8 weeks at half pay if I chose to or use vacation days to extend my time off. I could also take a leave of absence at no pay for up to 6 months. For my second child I requested and they allowed me to extend my full pay to 16 weeks but I worked from home half time from week 2 on and they paid me full pay for the entire 16 weeks.

I've never worked a fulltime job where I didn't receive at a minimum of 2 weeks off for vacation, 5 sick/personal days and 8 holidays. I currently accrue what is referred to as Time Off With Pay. I accrue hours of time I can use as I want (personal, holidays, vacations) and the accrural rate increases as your years of service increases. I currently accrue about 500 hours a year or 12.5 weeks of vacation. I can rollover and keep in my time off bank a maximum of 2000 hours, so about a years worth of hours.

If I were laid off fired for anything other than for "cause" (stealing, law violation, mismanagement of my position) then I could apply for unemployment benefits through the State. But the maximum rate is only around $450 per week.

And after 20 plus years in corporate America, I can tell you it is very hard to fire someone. Being layed off because of downsizing or economy is much more common.

nuit93

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #40 on: December 24, 2013, 02:00:44 PM »
I'm treading a fine line here with the legal stuff, so this is intentionally vague.



Most large companies have policies/regulations about firing employees, in order to avoid wrongful dismissal law suits. A typical policy designed for an employee who's work is not up to standard might be an oral warning, a written warning, a one or two month probation period during which certain goals must be met, and finally, firing. There are some federal and state protections for workers. There are "protected" classes of employees. This means that you cannot fire someone for race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age (40 and over), sexual orientation, being disabled, veteran status, gender. There are federal and state categories and individual employers can have their own polices--they can add categories but they can't remove them.

It's expensive to find, hire and train a new employee, so most employers do try to work with people before firing them.

In many U.S. states it is still legal to fire someone for being LGBT.  I don't think that's the case in a lot of other countries?

cwm

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #41 on: December 24, 2013, 02:35:07 PM »
Growing up, dad was an auto worker. They had great benefits from the union, he could call in sick at a moment's notice if he needed to (meaning he was always the parent to stay home with the sick kids). I'm not sure about all the logistics behind it, but I know he got a decent amount of vacation pay.

He was also laid off every year when the plant re-tooled. They had to rebuild the machines that built the cars to make the new model year, and it took about a month. Dad was off work. Healthcare benefits kept up, somehow, but he had to call every week to get unemployment until the plant started up again. That was near the end of summer, and it was always stressful having dad home all day. It changed the routine for us kids, we weren't used to it because we'd had all summer to ourselves and then the week before we were back in school, BAM, dad was there all the time. It wasn't so bad the years they'd saved enough money to take us all on vacation, and mom always had enough days to come with us most of the time, but when we were at home it wasn't fun.

At my job, I work for a company that works for financial institutions. Last year we got all the standard bank holidays off work, but this year the only ones we're actually getting paid for is New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The others are floating holidays. If you worked one of the other bank holidays, you'd get 8 hours PTO for something else, or you could take off that holiday. We also accrue 4.92 hours per pay period (every two weeks), starting from day 1. If there's a big event coming up and you'll be gone for a week and you only have 4 days, usually the managers will OK it because you're going to earn that last day within a month.

After 5 years here, you earn more hours off per pay period, but I'm not sure how much. And you use your PTO for everything. My first manager gave everyone her cell phone number and told us we were free to text her if we weren't going to be in, there was no need to call. And we didn't need to give any reason, just "Not going to be in today." That was it. Nobody asks questions. If I want to take a day to go shopping for someone, or just have a nice day in the park, I can do that.

If at the end of the year you have more than 80 PTO hours still accrued, anything over 80 will either be put in an Extended Disability Leave bank (EDL) for if you get really sick and need more time saved up (usually for cancer or taking care of someone with a terminal illness) or you can get a buyback of it. 80 hours will carry over to the next year, so you can possibly start day 1 of the new year with 80 hours leave.

Our company recommends that we take off at least one continuous week, but they don't require it. The only stipulation they have over the holidays is that you have a "buddy" who can cover for you while you're gone. With me and the other sales assistant, it's fairly easy. I took Christmas last year, she had just been hired on, so this year she's taking this week to go back home (few hours' drive away) and I'm taking New Year's off. With some of the other people, it's a bit more of a problem because everyone wants off, but it's a matter of who asks first.

perpetua

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #42 on: December 25, 2013, 02:47:06 AM »
In many U.S. states it is still legal to fire someone for being LGBT



Quote
I don't think that's the case in a lot of other countries?

Certainly not here, no.

iridaceae

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #43 on: December 25, 2013, 06:18:39 AM »
In theory at will States can fire whenever however (there are some exceptions). Unless you get an EvilBoss from Ehell though the reality most places just don't do that. Why? Well for one thing finding hiring and replacing is expensive. Another is most bosses aren't EvilBosses.

Here in the US overtime is mandatory after 40 hours in one week for hourly employees . The company has to pay a minimum of time and a half but is free to pay more if they want (and sometimes some do).

Snooks

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #44 on: December 25, 2013, 05:49:10 PM »
A couple of things to add from a UK perspective:

Leave - you don't always need to have accrued leave to take it.  For example, I started my job in February, technically I "accrue" my leave at a rate of 0.5 days per week, I could have taken a week's leave at the beginning of April without any issue.  The only issue would have been if I'd left my final pay cheque would have had however many days pay deducted (similarly when I left my last job I had about ten days leave "owed" to me which was paid out in my final pay cheque).

School's are the exception to the rule when it comes to leave - my mum worked term time only for years which meant she couldn't take leave during term time but she got all the school holidays off.  Other posters may be able to correct me but I've got a feeling the six week summer holiday is often "unpaid" for people who work term time only.

Pay - it's unusual to work an office job and not be paid monthly.  DH used to get paid weekly but that company had only just stopped paying cash wage packets before he started (mid 2000s) and was pretty much operating somewhere in the 1970s.  I've only ever been paid by direct deposit into my bank account (including my Saturday job in a shop when I was a teenager).

Sick pay - my last job you got six months on full salary which then went down to half pay for the next six months.  It was remarkable how many people recovered right around that six month mark.  Having said that if I'd known that before I handed my notice in I would have gone to my doctor to get signed off with stress while I job hunted because that job darn near pushed me over a cliff.

Firing - you can be let go at the end of your probation but other than that, as most people have said it's really unusual to be fired.

Redundancy - under two years service and you're entitled to nothing under the regulations but often companies will offer you a better than statutory package (personal experience with that one twice over).  If you're made redundant you're entitled to job seeker's allowance (was about £70/week a few years ago not sure what it is now).

Parental leave - the UK is in the process of a new system which allows parents to divide up leave but no matter how much I read about it I do not understand it.  I know maternity at my last place allowed you to have a over year off (because your five weeks of leave plus all bank holidays were added to your maternity leave) but if you left within three months of coming back you had to pay back some of the money you received from the company (above statutory) when you left.