Zero-Hour Contracts Are Not Worth The Hours They Grant

, , , | Working | April 25, 2018

(The pool I work at hires a new aquatic supervisor, who hasn’t managed a pool before. We are optimistic at first, but it soon becomes apparent that she doesn’t take ethics into consideration when it comes to scheduling. She starts shortening shifts and not giving people a lot of hours. Quite a few people have quit as a result. She also somehow went over with the aquatics budget, even though we have no idea what she spent it on. To help out during our staff shortage, I’m working every closing shift, since I’m in school during the day, but it’s becoming very tiring. My boss knows this and promises to help me out once she hires more people, while still giving me 15 to 20 hours a week. One day, she comes to me with a question.)

Boss: “Hey, [My Name], I’m about to interview some people and I just looked at the starting wage for new hires. Is this right?”

(I look at the sheet of paper and confirm that it is correct.)

Boss: *stunned* “Seriously? But you and the other lifeguards make way more than that.”

Me: “Yes, but we’ve been working here a couple of years, and we get a raise with each successful performance review. That’s why we make more.”

Boss: “Hm…”

(She stands there for an awkward moment, deep in thought.)

Me: “Uh… Do you have a lot of people scheduled for interviews?”

Boss: “Oh, yeah. It’s going to be so much better from here on out.”

Me: “Great.”

(The next few weeks go on without a hitch, and we hear about the new hires coming in. We are about to start lessons one day when my boss comes to talk to me.)

Boss: “[My Name], we have a new guard coming in after lessons to shadow you on closing procedures. Afterwards, he’ll be taking over.”

Me: “Oh, nice! Sure, that will be no problem.”

Boss: “Yep, and I’m going to put out the new schedule soon. You’ll see it’ll be a lot easier for you next month.”

(Suddenly, I have a bad feeling about that last comment, a sinking feeling in my stomach. Maybe it’s how she emphasizes that it will be a lot easier that gets me to question further.)

Me: “Uh, how many hours did I get?”

Boss: *looks at me, puzzled* “You wanted some closings taken off, right?”

Me: “Uh, yeah. But I still get 15 to 20 hours, right?”

Boss: “Oh, you can see on the schedule; it goes out later.”

(That did little to calm my nerves, and I spent the rest of lessons dreading it. Sure enough, the boss dropped off the new schedule while I was busy and promptly left the building so I couldn’t talk to her. I looked at the schedule and discovered that I’d been cut down to two hours a week, and so had every senior lifeguard there. All of the shifts were taken up by new guards, and it was obvious that she did this to save money. Her bright idea was to hire new guards and give them all the hours at a lower wage, then cut our hours to save money. It made a lot of people mad and, guess what? It didn’t work! When you give new people a lot of responsibility with little training and no probation period, you get pools that aren’t opened or closed properly, staff that don’t show up for shifts, and many customer complaints for poor programming. I quickly gave my notice and found another job, not caring about the mess she had to clean up.)

Pay Out, Or You’ll Pay In No Staff

, , , , | Working | April 23, 2018

(I work at a well-known non-profit organization as a camp counsellor and lifeguard. When I had just gotten my lifeguarding qualifications, I wanted a job that was flexible and gave me good hours. This place is perfect in that regard, BUT they only pay minimum wage. Lifeguards usually make more because of the training we receive and the responsibility. However, our wage is, at its highest, $11 an hour — and that is only this year. The way it balances out is that we are able to work more hours, and we get our recertifications paid for. Unfortunately, the way lifeguards are treated at this place has gone downhill over the past couple of years. It all starts when we have staff training and we are told we will have a new policy. This is the tail end of the presentation.)

Upper Management: “…so, in conclusion, we have to keep you as part-time employees because if you are full-time, we have to pay more money than what we have in the budget. As a result, nobody can work over 29.5 hours a week.”

(Since a lot of us are still in high school and don’t want that many hours, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. I realize how limiting it is when another pool with the same organization desperately needs lifeguards. I decide to try and help out, thinking I can get more hours. They are grateful for the help, until we all learn I can’t work over 29.5 hours between both pools. This means that I can’t help them, even though they really need the help. It also gets worse when I try to work my usual job at a summer camp, and maintain weekend hours at the pool.)

Boss: “I just got word from human resources. You can’t work at the summer camp and get hours for the pool. They are worried you’ll go over and they will have to pay you overtime.”

Me: “What? But the summer camp job is a separate department. Plus, I’m only working 35 hours, and then I have my five-hour shift on Saturday.”

Boss: “They said it doesn’t matter. It’s the same company, so you can’t work for both. Even when I told them I desperately need you on that Saturday shift, they said you would work two extra hours and that’s it.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but that’s not worth it for me to come in for two hours.”

Boss: “I figured as much.”

(Things get worse further along when we have another meeting.)

Upper Management: “…due to this change, we can no longer cover your recertification courses 100%. You will have to pay first, and then we will reimburse four hours pay for the course.”

Me: “So, are you increasing our pay?”

Upper Management: “No, pay is fixed at the current rate.”

Me: “How is that fair? Our rate is the way is it because you pay for our recertifications. Now you’re taking that away and not adjusting that?”

Upper Management: “No, you are still getting covered; we are just doing it differently. You pay first and you write in the hours for your course. Then, when it all works out, you’ll still be covered for almost the full amount.”

Me: “It actually doesn’t work out that way. You don’t want us working over 29 hours, nor will you pay us more than four hours. Now a typical lifeguarding recert is $50 to $60. I am making $11 an hour, so I will get paid only $44 for that time served.”

Upper Management: “Well, we did say not 100%, but it’s close—”

Me: “That is not including my standard first-aid I have to recertify, which requires me to run a full course every other year. That can cost almost $200. Or my instructor’s recertification. Furthermore, will you pay us to take more advance lifeguarding courses?”

Upper Management: “We will only do the four hours’ pay for recertifications.”

(Long story short, it didn’t balance out and they never increased our pay. I quit soon after and learned that the organization is having trouble maintaining lifeguards. Gee, I wonder why?)

Your Commentary Doesn’t Float Well

, , , | Working | April 23, 2018

(We are undergoing staff training at our pool and have some new lifeguards. Before we get in the water, I am showing a new girl around and answering all her questions. She is tall with an athletic build and I am short with some extra pounds on my frame. For stations, we are divided into groups, and she and I are grouped together with four other boys. Everything is fine until we get to spirals. We are practicing from deep to shallow water. When the instructor leading the station asked us to get into partners, all the boys partner up, so I approach her about being partners. I immediately get the vibe that she doesn’t seem happy with this, but try to chalk it up to paranoia.)

Instructor: *noticing the gendered partnering* “I kind of sensed this would happen. Listen. It’s okay for now, but you all have to realize that we don’t get a choice in who you rescue. I’ve had to rescue men, women, seniors, children, etc. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to try to partner up with somebody different every time. That way, you’re prepared for it all.”

(This is when the new girl I’m partnered with pipes up for commentary.)

New Girl: “I guess I’m already doing that, because if I had a choice, I would’ve picked someone smaller and skinnier to rescue.”

(For some reason, my reaction is to assume she’s making a joke, so I turn to her, expecting her to take her comment back. Instead, I see her shrug and remain firm in what she said.)

Instructor: “You.” *points to new hire* “Sit out. You’re not in the rest of the session.”

(She eventually got fired for the amount of shifts she missed. Also, the joke was on her, because in swimming it is the ones with a little more fat on their bodies that can float better. So, SUCK IT, new girl!)

It Should Be Charlie American-Indian

, , , | Right | April 7, 2018

(I work at the city pool. My coworker today is my mother-in-law. I’ve been there about a month longer than she has, and have gotten to know the regulars pretty well. There’s one difficult customer who comes in and instantly starts ranting on politics or religion. He also mumbles, making it extremely difficult to understand him. Today, he focuses on my mother-in-law.)

Customer: *mumble-mumble-mumble* “—penis.”

Coworker: *stares*

Customer: *mumble-mumble* “—penis.” *mumble* “—racist.”

Coworker: *slow nod*

Customer: *finally leaves*

Coworker: *turns to me with a wide-eyed stare* “What?”

Me: “He was complaining about how the new Peanuts movie was racist.”

Unless One Of These Hot Tubs Is The Fountain Of Youth…

, , | Working | March 30, 2018

(I work at a pool, and like most pools, we have an age requirement for the hot tubs. Anyone under the age requirement must have an adult with them. Our hot tubs are not near the pool, and are off-deck. As a result, people will ask us where they are and, if they look young, we have to ask their age. On this day, it is a busy public swim, and I am scanning, when a short girl comes up to me.)

Girl: “Hi, are there any hot tubs in this building?”

Me: *still scanning* “Yep, but how old are you?”

Girl: “Twenty-seven?”

(I immediately turn my head to look at her and realize she is actually a lot older than I thought she was.)

Me: “Oh, sorry. Yes, we absolutely do.”

(I proceeded to give her directions, but she still looked at me funny until she left to find the hot tub. It was only later that I realized I was so flustered, I forgot to mention why I was asking for her age in the first place.)

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