Needs A Break From Your Illegal Activities

, , , , , , , | Working | November 3, 2017

When working for an employment agency, I was asked to work in a certain bar one evening. When arriving there, all seemed right and, to be honest, the work was okay. However, after a few hours work, I asked how everything worked with breaks. The other workers reacted a bit surprised. Break? Oh, well, in fact they didn’t do those, because there was no time… despite the law making it very clear that the employer is obliged to allow it and the employee is obliged to take it. “We don’t do that. The employment agency should have told you. I’ll talk to them about this, because this is really important.”

A bit later they had the chef de cuisine make me a croquette sandwich. Since I was quite hungry, I was very happy about this and thanked the cook, despite the fact that he shouted at me and bullied a coworker earlier in the night. I ate it quickly and went back to work immediately.

After an evening of hard work in a very busy bar, I had to leave at midnight. One of the floor managers took me to the office to find the form for temporary workers. The office turned out to be a mess and she was unable to find the form, although she was clearly as annoyed by the mess as I was. In the end, the lady improvised and made me write down my name, employment agency, and hours on a blank note. I worked for seven hours, so that’s what I wrote down.

The next day, I commented to my contact at the employment agency about the break problem, stating clearly that I wanted to be fully informed, and that I thought it was weird that the place didn’t do breaks, despite this being illegal. My contact reacted somewhat defensively, although they called the incomplete briefing “a learning point for us.”

Despite this, I was assured that it was very common in hospitality work that you’re supposed to have eaten before 5:00 pm, and I was asked to have “some flexibility.” I didn’t answer, since I was clearly not winning this, although some Internet research and a phone call to the union made it clear to me that I was totally right.

Later, when I downloaded my payslip, it turned out that the place only paid me for six-and-a-half hours, anyway, while eating the sandwich took me about five minutes. I emailed my contact, asking exactly what the bar’s general manager submitted, pointing out that I didn’t take half-an-hour break and, therefore, worked for much longer.

No response ever came. Much later, I asked the financial person of the employment agency what was submitted. According to her, [Bar] indeed claimed I worked six-and-a-half hours with a half-an-hour break. Once again, the employment agency didn’t take any action, but since then, the bar was on my personal blacklist, which I made very clear to my contact.

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