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When Going To Work Costs You Money

Updated on June 12, 2011


I have a friend who I've known for a few months now. I had the pleasure of working with her for a short while over east, while I was there. Her role is an Office Manager. She's young, attractive and very good at what she does. I was only in that office for a short while, but we got to know each other really well and become close friends in a very short amount of time, so much so that we talk on the phone regularly. To protect her identity, let's call her Simone.

Simone was hired on contract and was going to be taking over from someone else who was going to be mobilizing to site in Papua New Guinea soon. To put things in perspective, this person she was taking over from (let's call her Sue) was always fighting fires at work - that's just the way she worked. Simone, however, puts things on a list and works through it methodically in order to get everything done. She's very efficient that way. Consequently, Sue got jealous (or whatever) that Simone came on board and within days was better at the job. See, Sue had been with this company for over 10 years. Something happened, I can't remember what exactly, where Sue was basically trying to undermine Simone's work and making life very difficult for her. Simone is fairly assertive when it comes to getting her job done, espiecially if people are in the way, and she was ready to walk.

She approached the HR manager about it. Needing someone to go over to another project office he was about to move to anyway, he arranged to have Simone transferred. Seeing that it was a project that will last 3 to 4 years, he also arranged for Simone to come on board as a salaried staff member. He knew Sue's side of the story and seemed prepared to give Simone the benefit of the doubt. He seemed nice.

Passing the Medical

One of the requirements of people coming onto any project is that they have to pass a medical. Simone had previously told me she takes anxiety medication and since the breakdown of her last long term relationship, she had also developed OCD. To be honest, if she hadn't confided in me about this (one day when we were sharing secrets) I probably wouldn't have known. I'm not privy to the details, but I am aware she didn't pass the first medical because of a complication due to this. But it's not something she hid, even though she felt the questions asked were a little intrusive.

She was told that she needed to get a letter from her medical professional. The problem was that her doctor was out of town for a month and she couldn't get this letter for a few weeks yet. The HR Manager caught her in the lift one day around the time she was told she didn't pass the medical and said "Girly, you better sort this out by tomorrow", knowing too damn well that she wasn't able to. Not that I give a crap about protecting his identity, but for the purpose of the story, let's call this HR Manager "Bill".

See, Bill was probably getting pressure from the human resource team to fix this problem. It was his problem initially, because he put Simone on the books before the medical was even completed. Unfortunately, the company policy is the company policy, there is no leniency even for honest people. But Bill was making this her problem.

A bit of back and forth ensued and unfortunately, she had to be terminated from staff due to the issue (they couldn't wait for her doctor to return). Fortunately though, because she is so good at what she does, she was placed back on contract. As I explained to her one day when she was fearing the worst while awaiting their decision, the best thing she had done is impress them at work, so it would be painful for them to let her go.

How To Lose Money By Working Hard

Medical issues aside, Simone had still not been paid almost two months at work, while she was on salary. There was supposed to be a pay run before Christmas, but Simone was missed out for some reason. Now it got to the point where she was starting to suffer financially. She approached Bill about it at the start of the year and he said he would follow it up. He also told her not to contact payroll directly on the other side of the country.

A few days had passed and it still hadn't been resolved. She phoned someone else from HR in the other office, and they didn't even seem to know about it. They said they would look into it for her. Simone pointed out that she was seriously struggling, but she told me she felt like an idiot saying that. She's 32 years old and she felt that she should be able to look after herself better. I reminded her that none of this is her fault, so she shouldn't be blaming herself for it.

A couple of days after that she heard nothing from this other HR person and when she rang them up again they seemed clueless. Clearly nothing was done about it. Simone was fuming. I finally convinced her to just play dumb and contact payroll anyway, against Bill's wishes. When she did, Simone discovered that the paperwork for her joining the company was filled out late and there was a lot of back and forth between payroll and HR because it had not been filled out correctly. This delayed payroll being able to process the payment. It seems Bill didn't want Simone to know this fact.

Also, by the time this paperwork was finalised, payroll had received her termination paperwork, so it was all going to be paid together. She had been work TWO MONTHS by now. Working long days. Always on the go. Taking on multiple roles as there were no systems in place. Not having time for lunch. Managing one office. Fitting out another. Being a PA to like 5 or 6 managers who usually had one. Dealing with conflict. No one being appreciative. This was the thanks she got.

A very relevant video...

Happy Ending? Don't Bank On It

By the time she eventually got paid, a few days after she went back on contract, her mobile phone had been cut off. At one stage the yellow light on the petrol gauge was on in her car and she didn't even know whether she could get home. Her mother wasn't much help, because that was the way she was (not because she didn't have any money). She charges Simone board for living under the house (she moved back home because she was out of work for a couple of months). So she also owed her mother some board money. If it wasn't for a couple of her gorgeous friends who made sure she ate properly and gave her some pocket money in the mean time, I don't know what she would have done.

Her mobile phone was cut off, a day before she got paid. She had a mortgage for a property as well. Now, not getting paid for two months hurts. It hurts a lot financially. Her home loan manager rang her up a few days before she got paid and she explained the situation to her. It seemed as though they were giving her another week. The day after she got paid, the bank rang her up. They spent a bit of time going to and fro on the phone, the lady at the other end checking with her manager constantly.

The bank wasn't playing nice. They wanted her to sell her house so they could recover their funds. It got to the point where the lady was questioning Simone about individual payments she made the night before (the bills she paid on the same day she finally got paid). They said "Foxtel, now that's more of a luxury isn't it?" Now while it may be legal for them to do that, that was the last straw. Simone told them a few choice words and hung up. The house was to go on sale. She was over it. And really, it was the company's fault. Bill dawdled and stuffed her around to try and "get her back" for "stuffing him around" on her medical. A completely inconsiderate bastard.

While this conversation took place, she was sitting in the office so a few people heard what was going on. When Simone went down stairs (she was talking to me on the phone) the procurement manager (let's call him John) went over to Bill and told him that this is bull and should not have happened. One of Simone's staff members went downstairs to let her know this and that Bill was looking for her. I told her we'll talk later because maybe he has a solution and the company can help her out.

I found out later, she went upstairs and sat back down to her desk. About 15 minutes had passed then John went over to her and said something. Bill, seeing this from a distance, may have assumed that John told her he'd spoken to him and he was going to do something about it. After John left the building, Bill went over to Simone and said "Do you want to talk to me about something?"

"What do you want me to say?" she said "I just lost my house because I wasn't paid. That's it."

"Fine then, don't worry about it". That was Bill's response before he walked off. Sure Simone may have been a bit pissed off at that point, but that's all he could offer. No "I'm sorry", no words of comfort, nothing. No ounce of tact or a drop of decency.

Surely There Must Be Something?

Surely the company is liable in SOME way? Or is this one of those "consequential losses" clauses in contracts where companies are so good at weasling their way out of any liability? Are there no corporate ethics?

How does one prick at work do this kind of stuff and get away with it? (Actually he was just one prick. There were more making her life hell.) To me it's basically bullying in the workplace. For someone who works in Human Resources and is actually the manager of it, he has zero people skills!

Aren't actions like that grounds for workplace harrassment? What happened to equal opportunity?

What happened to common decency and manners in the workplace?

Your thoughts?

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    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia

      Oh thank you! That was a really nice comment :)

    • profile image

      Am I dead, yet? 

      8 years ago

      Marco--fantastic read! I have to sympathize with your friend--this qualifies for workplace harassment! I cannot believe that the financial institution for her home did not work with her as far as her employment situation. I mean...can an employer go that long without paying their employees? Bull!

      Just so you know--I enjoy reading your hubs--I enjoy also your tweets! They have brighten my gloomy days more than once.

    • marcofratelli profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Australia

      I totally agree, emievil. It's a bit difficult because our company is the smaller partner in a JV, but they're using our systems at the moment, which means the HR manager is person who supposedly understands the systems and is the go to guy. He's the highest guy in the region, unfortunately. But you're right. HR in my side of the country admitted they're noticing a spike in resignations! Gee, wonder why!

      Spot on, drbj. She did mention one day that if he said "girly" one more time she was gonna let rip right then and there. I spoke to her the other day and she just wants to get on with the job and put it behind her. But the HR manager has made a mortal enemy. She'll fight it her own way. One day when he needs a document to go out urgently or something, she'll "forget" to do it :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      I believe that Simone has grounds to complain about harassment. Sexual harassment for the "Girly" remark and probably others, and for having to work in an hostile work environment which is also harassment.

    • emievil profile image


      8 years ago from Philippines

      He's a prick and I hope your friend is doing okay. Don't know about your laws there but I think she should go to somebody higher than him and complain. With his attitude, the company is going to lose more employees than your friend.


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