Monday, October 15, 2012

Baby, It's Cold Out There

Be glad if you're not out there having to look for a job right now. Things are brutal.

I still can't believe that the first thing I was told in a recent interview was: "This year, all those hired for this position will not be getting time away from work for lunch. You will still get to eat a lunch, but you will be working when you do so."

Wow, that came out of left field! I had about ten questions as a result of hearing this, but of course, this is a job interview, and if I wanted the job no questions were welcome. This was a lump it or leave it statement if ever I've heard one.

Nevertheless, anything else was drowned out by the questions racing through my mind: "What? Isn't that illegal? Does everyone working here have this requirement this year? Why are they doing this--to save money? Do you (the many people sitting around the table of high rank) follow this as well? If not, why not?

A little Internet searching gave me some basic answers; I'll never get the specific ones I'm still wondering about. Making someone work during their lunch hour is illegal in the state where I lived most of my life. Apparently, it's not illegal in the new state I call home, though it is beyond the pale enough to mention first and foremost in an interview.

However, just because I'm in a different locale doesn't mean my view on this practice is any different than it was before. It stinks, and if it isn't illegal, it should be. It should always be illegal.

Now before you go telling me you have to work through your lunch, too, think about if that isn't a choice you make. This question will help you answer that: When you were hired, did they inform you specifically that you would never, ever get a lunch free from duty?

I've worked many jobs where the work essentially required that I work through lunch or skip lunch entirely to meet deadlines. But that was never an all the time thing (though at times it might have felt it) nor was it a condition of my employment. There were also days I left the building to go home for lunch or to meet others out for lunch. And if I wanted to, I could negotiate leaving early, etc. in exchange for the time I worked over lunch.

So absolutely 100% different. That those lowest on the totem pole are being required to accept these conditions to employment scares me. It should scare all of us.

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