Thursday, March 04, 2010

Half-life Update

So I've been sick lately and undergoing various medical treatments and missing work as a result. I'm mostly caught up on all my duties (just a few low-priority requests to conquer), but my supervisor from the contracting company asked for an update on my health. I wasn't too thrilled at the prospect since, in person, I try to downplay my condition rather than talk it up and as a result many people are unaware of how sick I really am, but I hoped something positive might come from the meeting. He usually works from home and I don't like discussing my condition in my cubicle in front of others, so I called him from home during lunch. As expected, he was very understanding and sympathetic, probably due in some part to the fact that his wife is critically ill and he's had to endure a lot of the same things I have, at least secondarily. (full disclosure - it sounds like his wife has had a rougher time than I have) Anyway, he told me the reason for all the questions was that my primary boss from the company we support thinks my work is great, but wondered if I'm sick enough that they should consider replacing me. That's right - basically it boils down to "I don't feel well." "Okay - you're fired."

We discussed options, such as being allowed to work from home (I can do 100% of my job from any computer with an internet connection), or working nights and weekends as a last resort to make up the time missed due to illness and doctor appointments. My contractor supervisor talked with my employment company supervisor, who said he didn't see enough justification for allowing me to work from home but was okay with me working nights and weekends as long as I could provide advance warning. So, I'm allowed to be ill, but I have to do a better job of planning it in advance if I want to keep my job.

I was unthrilled with the decision and also not too happy that the guy who denied my request to work from home announced he was taking Friday off to work from home, but I don't consider him to be a bad guy. It's just the culture of this workplace. I'm a contractor, which means I'm treated more like equipment than a member of the team. The rules are different for contractors vs. regulars. If you're a regular, being ill (even terminal) means you get put on leave and, sick or otherwise, you're allowed to work remotely and to flex your hours as you see fit. If you're a contractor, you're expected to work 40 hours a week in the office, no variation on your schedule, and if you break down then you are to be replaced with a newer model. I'm sure the regular supervisor would have granted the request to work from home if the situation was better, but the regulars haven't been able to prevent their own from being laid off, so there's no way they would spend extra money to assist a contractor. I would be more than willing to use my own PC to work remotely, but work rules state they must issue me a laptop and and a userid for their remote access system, both of which cost money not in their budget. (don't even get me started on how hiring professionals to decorate for the holidays IS still in the budget)

Between the lousy contractor company gouging their employees and the regular company treating us with a double standard, I think I'll be ready to look for another job (again) if I can get well enough to the point that I actually can commute, stand to be out of bed for more than four hours at a time, and work at least 40 hours a week in the office. Hopefully by then Obama will have repatriated some of our jobs.

13 comments:

SJ said...

So if it can be done over the internet I demand to know why have you not been outsourced yet? We have a job crunch here you know!

Avitable said...

Is the job market there bad enough that you'd have to commute that far?

Captain Dumbass said...

Would your work place operate like a Klingon ship if you killed some of your co-workers? Not that I'm endorsing that course of action, just wondering out loud.

Grant said...

SJ - our management said we would be outsourced to India if they felt our jobs could be done by people limited to reading a script instead of taking ownership of the problems, so as long as that stereotype is in effect then the department (but not necessarily me) will be safe.

Avitable - I haven't looked recently because I haven't been well enough since 2008 to consistently to commute and work 40 hours a week. Atlanta commutes are bad, but the main issue for me is that I'm fully capable of working 40+ hours if I don't have to do all prep work currently needed (about an hour) before I can leave home and if I can work my hours around my symptoms, which is now becoming a problem.

Captain Dumbass - I've often thought that Klingons were too unforgiving to allow a warrior to call in sick, so that's out. What race is it that has all the great healthcare?

Kira said...

I think you need to start looking for jobs in Charlotte, not Atlanta.

Jay said...

It never ceases to amaze me the level of opposition to allowing people to work from home among supervisors. I realize that they live in fear of their jobs an feel they need total control over everyone they are in charge of, but it's ridiculous.

GreenJello said...

I have the same problems trying to work from home, too... somehow, they figure if they can't keep an eye on you, you'll spend all day napping and eating bonbons.

Idiots.

April said...

GreenJello: I couldn't work from home because I don't trust myself not to nap and eat bonbon's all day. =) But seriously, I've tried working from home, and I'm just not disciplined enough to do it. Probably because I'm a big procrastinator. I suck.

Grant: I really hope you get well soon. I'm sorry that you're dealing with all of this. Then problems with work to boot? Damn! I will talk to the Gods and ask that they heal you with their magic powers!

Robin said...

I really feel if people had more of an option to work from home, if needed, it would make people a lot happier. I know I would be.

Grant said...

Kira - Atlanta's bunny paucity is bad enough. I should look at Seattle.

Jay - all of my supervisors work (at least partially) from home, so that's not the issue. I think it's because a) the rules say contractors work in the office, so to violate that would be to potentially have our department audited, and b) the rules say they have to pay for outside access, and I'm not here to cost them money.

GreenJello - they don't normally see me, so that's not the issue. My work is very easy to measure since I provide them with data via e-mail. No data = no work.

April - I have no discipline problems. In fact, it bugs me to be at home unable to work when I haven't fully resolved an issue. I have Satan, Zeus, and Buddha covered, so you can work the less cool gods.

Robin - true, but it's just not the way things are done.

Whitemist said...

The jerk that was the upper level super in my job has left and my direct boss may be out the door. Since the ship works just fine without them, things should be fine. Working from home would be a fun prospect, I'd get to use the lab in my basement and create at least a Frankenstein or 2.

Ricardo said...

Careful. Job market is awful right now but the whole "planning" of your illness is typical. You can tell them how bad your health is but they will have a story of how someone just gout out of chemotherapy and did a powerpoint presentation.

Grant said...

Whitemist - with that lab setup, you could reanimate dead squirrels and make them serve as your house staff.

Ricardo - actually the guy who wanted me gone often works from home and has a doctor's appointment of his own tomorrow. Fortunately my workplace is all about the double standards.