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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Read before you sign

This is a long question, so I'm going to break it into parts and answer each part separately. Oh, and Class Factotum, this is for you, since you asked for more posts. I've been busy learning German. I conducted an entire transaction in German yesterday--granted it was just dry cleaning, and I mainly said, "Ja, ja!" but importantly, I knew what she said. At least, I think I did. Maybe when I go to pick up the pants, they'll be dyed purple or something. Anyway, back to our regular topic.

My husband gave his 2 week notice on Tuesday because we have decided to move back to the UK. He found out today, Friday, that they are planning to send him home on Monday. They said they are not firing him that they accept his resignation and are moving the last day up!! This was all unofficial as the nice HR lady told him in confidence, his boss does not plan on telling him until monday a.m.!!!! That means he loses a weeks pay - can they do that?? The said he is an exempt employee so they are not obligated to pay him the remaining days if they don't want to!

I don't have any idea what being an exempt employee has to do with this. But, in the USA almost everyone is an at will employee, which means you can be terminated at any point. No severance is owed. No notice required. No cause needed. Should they pay him out his notice period? Of course. It's the right thing to do. Do they have to? Perhaps in your state, but (in my thoroughly non-lawyerly way) not in all.

The boss is a jerk with a capital J. Technically, he can probably file for unemployment, but that may be a bigger pain than it's worth.

Also, the tuition reimbursement. my husband says that they are going to try to get him to rollover his 401k to guarantee the tuition reimbursement that he owes. I don't mind paying it but in my own time please. What are his obligations to pay it on the spot!

I haven't seen the paperwork he signed for the tuition reimbursement, but I doubt it said anything about taking money from his 401k. I understand why they want him to do that--it's very difficult to get money from someone once they've quit. Please understand, he owes the money and he should pay it. But, they know that it will be nearly impossible to get it from him if he doesn't wish to pay up--especially since you are moving to a different country. The cost of legal proceedings would be too high to bother with.

Repay the amount owed according to the contract he signed. Don't let them take the 401k money. Penalties are way too high for that kind of thing.

Lastly, he works for a credit union and we have a car financed through them. The car loan is in both of our names but as an employee they gave him 2% off the regular rate. He has heard that they will increase the rate to whatever the standard rate is now. Is that legal?? I have read over the contract and no where does it state that the rate given is an employee rate!

Speaking as a non lawyer, of course that is legal--as long as it was in the loan documents signed. If it wasn't in the loan documents, then it's not legal. Easy-peasy. Pull out your documents and look.

Don't sign things you don't understand. Ask questions before signing. If your boss is a jerk while you work for him, he's likely to be a jerk when you resign. And have fun in the UK!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Strength Lies in Our...


I know you thought I was going to say "our strength lies in our diversity." That (and similar messages) are prevalent. We have diversity committees, VPs of Diversity, affirmative action plans and call minority candidates "diverse candidates." (Which drives me absolutely insane, but that's another topic.)

When we moved to Switzerland we enrolled our daughter in one of the most "diverse" schools on the planet. If you were to wander down the halls you would see children with skin colors in all possible shades and colors. A map outside my daughter's classroom identifies the home country for each child in the class. Several of the children in her class spoke little to no English at the beginning of the school year.

To add to the mix, many of the children are from mixed culture marriages--mom is from one country, dad is from another, and they are living in a third country.

The school is highly successful. It has an outstanding reputation. High schoolers go on to great universities. They have less of a problem with bullying than other schools. It's all that diversity, right? Children are exposed to different cultures and therefore learn to respect others, right?

Well, sure. I love that aspect. But, in terms of true diversity (or differences), I have never been involved in a less diverse organization.

Here is how the children are the same:
  • Same socio-economic class. (True, some kids have more money than others, but there is a definite floor.)
  • Educated parents.
  • All have been the "new kid" and know what that feels like.
  • They have all lived outside their home country.
  • Stable home life. (Definite exceptions, but a look through the school directory yields only one single parent household. My guess is that single parents don't do the international career thing as often because of custody and other issues.)
  • A majority have a stay-at-home parent.
  • Education is seen as a priority by the parents.
Yes, their native languages vary. Their skin and hair colors cover the entire range of possibilities. Religions run the gamut. There is definite diversity. But there is definite unity as well.

So is it the diversity or the unity that makes the school so successful? I'd say both. The students learn a lot from each other. Different ideas are brought out in almost all activities. But, the things that unify them are strong as well.

If you grabbed a bunch of random kids from different countries and threw them together, would you get the great results this school gets? I doubt it. You'd run into many problems that the unify factors tend to nullify.

So, what does this mean for companies and hiring? I think it means that as you are looking towards diversity as the savior of your company, you also need to look towards unity. What things make your employees unified? Is there a shared company culture? Are there goals that everyone works towards?

Sometimes we get so focused on our diversity that we forget that we need unity in order to make things work. Without that, you have an interesting dinner party, but no road map for success. With both the unifying factors and the rich diversity of experience, you can achieve greater things.

Want to know my thoughts on Brad Pitt?

Of course you do. Check out why this might help your career. Plus, make sure you read comment 2. It will inform you that I lack character and depth. But, you already knew that.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Quit or Fired?

I live in CA. I worked for a small business owner for two plus years. Just recently I gave him two weeks notice in writing. He asked me to stay and stay and stay longer and I said “okay”. That meant that I would be working for him for at least three or four more weeks, maybe more. The next work day, he told me that I did not need to come back and after the close of business I did not come back to work. I have not received my last paycheck, for that single day and do not expect that I will be paid for more than the hours worked in that one day. I have been told by others that I have been let go, fired, terminated you know all of words better than me.

If indeed I do not get paid for any more hours than the ones worked, can I legally receive CA unemployment?

He definitely owes you for for hours worked and he should have paid you already, as California law requires that.

Can you legally receive unemployment? I have no idea, but the folks at the unemployment office do. Go ask them.

But, I think that since you resigned you should just drop it and move on with life. Why did you resign only to continue working anyway? Did you not have another job lined up? Were you planning to enter a life of leisure where you eat chocolate, listen to Volkmusic and only blog occasionally? (Ahh, my life is so difficult.)

Reprogram your brain to pretend that your boss just accepted your two week's notice and that you didn't do extra work and that you left on good terms. As a small business owner he probably did a small freak out when you presented your resignation letter. When you only have a few employees you don't have a large group of cross trained individuals to help you out when someone leaves. A missing employee means you have more work poured on your head.

Your boss probably initially thought he couldn't handle it without you, but then upon reflection realized he could. And so, he let you go. He didn't do it in a professional manner (no notice and no final paycheck), but he did. (Now, if I read this wrong and you didn't work extra, he terminated you before the two week notice was up, then what you should do is the same, but my analysis of your boss changes. That's extra jerky behavior and what happens when people take business relationships personally, but that's another story.)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Missing my posts?

I don't think I've ever posted an actual link to where I write at US News, so here it is! The other bloggers over there are fantastic as well.

Just a little light reading.

Monday, June 01, 2009

And You Think You Have Problems

Since we moved to Switzerland, my husband keeps making us listen to this: