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Re: Working practices
« Reply #45 on: December 25, 2013, 05:49:09 PM »
In the US it can be difficult to get the protection that employees are legally entitled to. A summer employer during grad school decided two weeks after I was hired to cut my pay by 40% and make it retroactive to my start date (time already worked) which is not legal. I called the local labor board and found they were quite disinterested in listening to me and kept repeating that my pay could be cut at any time, and I could not make them understand they were trying to backdate the cut. Short of legal action, which I had to threaten, I didn't have any other options. If I was a low wage employee with a family who desperately needed my job I might not want to risk getting fired for rocking the boat and getting a reputation for being a legal pain in the rear.

As for differences, I live in the southeast and work for a very small business. My assistants do not receive any vacation time despite working up to 50 hours a week, no health benefits and no paid sick leave. Overtime is something to be avoided. I work on a partial commission basis and have been called variants of lazy and greedy for wanting to get paid for the favors my boss asks me to do for his friends or for taking a day off every other week. I'm on call 50% of the time, work a 40-70 hour week over 4-7 days and have no predictability in my line of work. I have two weeks of vacation and no official sick time. I missed a week of work this year for a severe back injury and was paid my normal salary, but my overall paycheck was affected as I don't make commission if I'm not working. Same goes for my two weeks of vacation.

The American mindset of needing to put your nose to the grindstone is quite tiring and the people who work many of the hardest, lowest paid jobs get the least in return.


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #46 on: December 26, 2013, 02:22:00 AM »

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.

I've been looking into this.  I think (though it is complicated) that basically how it works is:

Both mothers and fathers get 2 weeks off immediately following the birth, which are non-transferable to the other - i.e if the father doesn't take it, the mother can't add this to her leave.  The mother has to take it and cannot go back to work any earlier than 2 weeks after the birth (or 4 weeks if she works in a factory) to protect her health.

Other than that, there is 12 months of leave, of which 39 weeks is paid at statutory maternity rates (unless your employer tops this up which some do).  Of this, the father can take between 2 and 26 weeks of this but only if the mother has returned to work (i.e. they cannot take time off together) from 20 weeks after the birth.

Worth noting is that both of you continue to accrue annual leave while on maternity/paternity leave.  So, where I work, most women are actually off for 13 months because they use up 4 or so weeks of annual leave at the end of their maternity leave (and then keep the remaining 2 weeks of their leave allowance for other use)
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 02:23:51 AM by saki »


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #47 on: December 26, 2013, 07:00:36 AM »
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.

In Texas (every state is potentially different) as a teacher I'm paid for 180 days. I have to get 8 hours off contract training a year. The Training year goes from March - Febuary, because we get 8 hours comp time* as payment for the off contract time.

In my district Exempt employees (saleried) are paid for 180 days, but our payments are spread out over 12 months (24 pay checks).

Non-exempt employees (by the hour) are paid every 2 weeks for the hours they work. If they don't work - they don't get paid that week.  All employees get year around Medical Insurance. I know a couple of women who work as aides and almost 100% of their pay goes towards the premiums to cover them and their families. Their husband's pay check pays for living expenses. Their combind take home pay and the fact many speak Spanish at home means they qualify for Preschool Class, meaning once their kids are 4 they don't need day care.

*The comp day used to be Easter Monday. With Good Friday being a staff/student holiday but doubling as a bad weather/act of God day make up day.
They flipped it to the comp day is Good Friday and the Bad weather make up day is Easter Monday after they actually had to use the make up day a few years ago and from the hue and cry you would have thought the School Board was burning down churches and making blood sacrefices to Old Nick on the ashes. (Most of the people wailing and pounding their chest were are hypocrats who by their own admissions never attend church services and honestly would have pitched a fit no matter when the make up day was. )
Don't Teach Them For Your Past. Teach Them For Their Future


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #48 on: December 26, 2013, 09:55:28 AM »
I think one reason for the lack of concern with the reason for the sick day is because it is tied in with holiday/vacation time.  Every year, I get 2 weeks for vacation, 1 week of PTO/sick days, and we get off the minimal holidays.  For example, New Year's Day is a holiday, but Columbus Day isn't.  But, in truth, vacation, sick, PTO, holiday time is just put into one field.  So, any day I don't work, 8 hours is taken out of that bank, regardless of the reason (and I get paid). 

Every employer I've worked for either has you lose all unused leave at the end of the calendar year.  Or, there is a bank that just keeps accumulating.  With my last employer I got a check when I quit equal to one month's salary because I'd had that accumulated.  With my current, I have about 150 hours saved.  I've traveled extensively before, but right now I just want to be a homebody. 

Before my father retired, he had 4 weeks of vacation plus holidays plus unlimited sick days.  He really didn't know what to do with more than two weeks.  In fact, he started to work 4 day weeks in the fall just to use the extra two weeks. 

My personal belief for the difference is that in America the focus is more on the home.  Money is more likely to be spent on an upgrade for the home, than a nice vacation.  So, more than what is needed to rest every now and then isn't missed. 


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #49 on: January 02, 2014, 05:16:09 PM »
I am in Manitoba and have similar leave/vacation situations as others have mentioned.  However, I will mention that for maternity/parental leave we do not receive a top of our pay with my employer.  I would receive on Mat/parental leave the maximum from the Employment Insurance program, which now I think is $450 per week.  This amount is 55% of a set maximum of $42,000ish (sorry I didn't look up exact #s).  Anyway, the amount is much less than I make so Mat leave doesn't really pay everyone all that well.  When I had DD I came back after 8 months not really for money but because at my career taking the full 12 and missing the tax season can really affect your career.

We do also have other leave options that employment insurance will pay for including a compassionate care leave to help assist with an ill family member care (6 weeks) and sick leave to help with an illness/surgery (15 weeks).  During both leaves your position is held for you.

You have to work a certain number of hours between types of leave to qualify for the both the pay and your position being held.  Therefore, you wouldn't be able to take a year mat/parental leave and come back 9 months pregnant and take another one, be paid and keep your position I mean, no one will force you to work :).  There are formulas of hours worked, pay made, etc. that I won't get in to.

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #50 on: January 02, 2014, 05:20:21 PM »
One of my coworkers had to cut her maternity leave short because she got pregnant again and she needed to work for a specified number of weeks in order to be eligible for benefits again.  She just made it, with only a couple of days to spare.  Her oldest was the local New Year's Baby, I think, and her second was born in March.
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #51 on: January 04, 2014, 09:31:10 PM »
My prior employer was the worst. No benefits, and a reduced pay rate for the week if you had to call off for any reason.

I started at my current employer, a state university, as a temporary employee. That meant that although I worked 40 hours per week, I did not have any benefits other than a pay check. If the university closed for a holiday, I went unpaid. Now, the temporary employees have to be offered the ability to have health insurance.

I was able to get a different position 6 months after starting the first, and became a member of the protected hourly class. I worked 40 hours a week and earned 8 hours of medical leave and personal leave per month. I got one extra personal day a year and was paid for holidays. I was eligible for health insurance.

After 5 years, I went to yet another position, still hourly, but exempt from completing time sheets. I lost the personal day, but my personal leave is now earned at 13 hours per month.

Non-temporary employees: We get 7 paid holidays per year and pay when the university closes. We closed for 12 days over holiday break, and were paid for that time.
ďAll that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
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Re: Working practices
« Reply #52 on: January 05, 2014, 08:10:15 AM »
I don't think anyone has mentioned the Long Service Leave that we get in Australia? I don't think anywhere else has it except perhaps New Zealand. It stems from back in ye olde colonial days when it took four (?) weeks to sail back to the mother country. So after a good length of work, workers were entitled to 3 months long service leave to enable them to sail to England to see family and then sail back to Australia.

So most companies you need to work for 10 years and then you can get your three months paid LSL. Yes, at full wage. After another number of years (7 I think) you can get your next lot of LSL. You can save them both up and take six months paid leave, or you can take it at half pay and have a year off. My work is very generous and we can take our first set of LSL after 8 years and the next after five years.

In terms of sick leave I get 12 days a year and they roll over into the next year. I think I now have about 90-100 days sick leave stocked up as I don't take much. I couldn't just suddenly take it all at once (need a doctors certificate for more than 2 days sick leave) but it's there if I needed it. That includes 'family leave', which is up to five days a year, for looking after family members or going to funerals etc.


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #53 on: January 05, 2014, 08:13:08 AM »
I don't think anyone has mentioned it already.  But, my fellow Americans are usually shocked at the idea of a country taking vacation all at the same time. 


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #54 on: January 05, 2014, 10:12:44 PM »
I think that the PTO (paid time off) system is a pretty good one.  I've worked other jobs where there were x-vacation days and y-sick days.  The vacation days had to be taken in a block (no single day off), so if you wanted/needed to take just one day off for some reason, you'd have to fake sick and call in.

PTO--I earn 7.93 hrs every two weeks (when I hit the 5 year mark, it will go up) and half that for sick time (you have to be long-term sick to use it--like over a week out of work).  PTO covers the official holidays (ours are New Year's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, and Christmas) and any other time off that you want during the course of the year.  It does roll over if you don't use it, but if you hit the max, you are strongly encouraged to take time off to burn it off.  In total, it works out to around 25 days per year that I get to take off (18 days of my choice).  I also have the option of putting in for partial days off (like if you have an afternoon doctor appointment, or an early morning dentist appointment that'll still run past your start time).  Generally speaking, you don't have to put down why you want the time off.  This same bank of time is used for vacations and for days off due to short illnesses.  For the most part, you don't need to put in much advance notice, though they ask that you put in for your vacation (a whole week off) a month before the time off.


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #55 on: January 05, 2014, 10:33:42 PM »
I am also in the US, on a PTO (paid time off) system, and I really like it. Any week I have less than 40 hours clock time and/or official holiday time, the deficit is taken out of my PTO in 15 minute increments.  So if we have a slow week and I leave early, or take a long lunch, I still get paid my weekly wage.  If I know I will need time off for a doctor's appointment, or something, I have the option to make up those hours by skipping lunch or coming early/staying late - as long as the extra hours worked are within the same week.

If I work 40+ hours in a week, I get paid overtime.

I get 168 hours of PTO per year, plus 8-10 official holidays (we do not get an "extra" day if the holiday falls on the weekend).  At the end of the year, I can carry over those hours but if I have not used them up by a certain date (January 31, maybe?) I get paid for the time at a slightly reduced rate.

However, for the first six months you work, you are on probation and get zero PTO (but do get paid official holidays). Second six months, you get 5 days (40 hours) PTO. Then, for the remainder of that calendar year you get 128 hours.  I started in March, so basically I was stretching my first 168 hours of PTO over 18 months instead of 12.  I think they do this because some departments have extremely high turnover.


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #56 on: January 06, 2014, 03:59:00 PM »
I get no paid sick leave and no paid vacation, as I am paid by production.  Also, since I work at home, I've worked when I was a lot sicker or contagious than most people because I don't have a choice. 

However, there are pluses to this job.  For one thing, I start at noon so I don't have to wake up early.  There's a lot more flexibility in my job than in most; for instance, if I have to go to the bank or the drug store, I can just tell the people I work with that I'll be gone for awhile and go take care of business.   


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #57 on: January 06, 2014, 04:04:56 PM »
I get no paid sick leave and no paid vacation, as I am paid by production.  Also, since I work at home, I've worked when I was a lot sicker or contagious than most people because I don't have a choice. 

However, there are pluses to this job.  For one thing, I start at noon so I don't have to wake up early.  There's a lot more flexibility in my job than in most; for instance, if I have to go to the bank or the drug store, I can just tell the people I work with that I'll be gone for awhile and go take care of business.

What do you do, if you don't mind my asking?


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Re: Working practices
« Reply #58 on: January 06, 2014, 04:15:18 PM »
If you're out for an extended period you'll generally be fully paid for several months before you get bumped down to Statutory Sick Pay,

Just to comment this varies A LOT from one company to another and one industry to another! Its certainly true that some people have very generous sick leave provisions (this tends to be true for people in public sector jobs, in particular ) In private companies there is a huge range -

. . .

I was horrified when I first spoke to American friends about their jobs and learned how few rights employees in there US seem to have, compared to here

Things vary a great deal in the U.S. as well--industry to industry, status to status (i.e., non-exempt vs exempt; part-time or hourly; etc.), with union and government jobs having different benefits as well.

And state to state.

I know people who work for a government agency who roll over their sick days; the private companies I've worked for would never allow that. For the first time, I work at a company that will not let you roll over vacation days (others have allowed rolling over 1 week, or 2 weeks, or all of it).

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Re: Working practices
« Reply #59 on: January 06, 2014, 04:41:42 PM »
DH used to contract his anesthesia services.  He had not PTO in any form, so he always saved money for vacation.  The major plus for him was that as a contractor he determined when he took vacation and holidays.  That meant when he needed to take 2 weeks to go somewhere he could.  Technically it didn't matter if 5 other people were off.  He was always considerate of the over all schedule.  Of course the anesthesia group always had the option of not renewing his contract, but they always renewed.  They even raised his contracted rate of pay without being asked. 

It wasn't until the hospital told the anesthesia group that they didn't want independent contractors (he was one of 4) that they become employees and cogs in the machine.  Most of them have since left the group. 

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