Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Job Descriptions - Not Always What They Seem.

God, talk about cock-ups. It turns out that Marie-Louise hasn't actually booked The Boss into a hotel for conference. Apparently she thought I was doing it - as if I haven't had enough to do all summer, while she and Carlotta have been taking holidays, and swanning around Westminster as if they owned the place.

"Well, why didn't you tell me you hadn't booked Andrew's room?" she says.

"Because you are his Diary Secretary," I say. "And I have been otherwise occupied, minding him."

I'm not sure, but I think she says something abusive in French in reply. I try to recall the phrase my Dad once learned from a Breton fisherman, and which he used to shout at motorists when they drove too slowly, but it's hopeless. I can't remember it. My brain's still in a post-Recess fug.

I suppose I could phone and ask him, but he's probably busy learning the Thai for bring me my slippers* now, anyway, and will have abandoned any interest in French. There must be another way to deal with Marie-Louise, if I put my mind to it.

When I have found a copy of her contract and faxed it through to her, we finally reach agreement on whose job it is to make The Boss' hotel arrangements. Hers, of course. I think I manage to hide my satisfaction fairly well.

At lunchtime, Max phones to tell me that he's just spoken to David, and has mentioned that he's on leave next week. Apparently David says Max and I can have his holiday cottage for the whole time, if I can take some holiday too, so I check with Greg and then book the time off. Yeeha! Now Carlotta and Marie-Louise will have no option but to do their bloody jobs for a change.

Shortly afterwards, there's employment news of a different kind. Josh phones to say he has got the job at the cinema. I'm thrilled, but he doesn't sound very pleased.

'What's the matter?" I say. "You don't sound as chuffed as I thought you'd be."

"Well, I'm a bit pissed off, Mum," he says. "You know how they said it was a full-time job?"

"Yes. I thought that's what you wanted?" It's certainly what he needs if he's to stand any chance of succeeding in the important business of keeping me in luxury in my old age.

"Well, it sounds as if that was a bit of a con. They only give you a four hour contract."

"What?" I can't believe it. "And you're supposed to sign off Jobseeker's Allowance for that?"

"I suppose so," says Josh. "They say we'll all probably get more hours than that in practice, but they aren't guaranteeing any more."

Bloody hell. Is nothing ever as it appears? And what were the Jobcentre thinking, advertising these jobs as full-time? Josh is lucky he still lives at home. Though it's less certain that Max and I share his good fortune. It seems we may have to wait a bit longer for the freedom to have rampant sex all over the house. Josh isn't going to be able to rent anywhere on the salary from four hours' paid work a week, is he?

I am almost tempted to ring Marie-Louise back and ask her if she realises how lucky she is to have a full-time bloody job. Maybe then she'd start actually doing some work. Talking of which, I suppose I'd better get on with mine. Looks like it may take a bit longer before I can tell The Boss to shove his job where the sun don't shine.

*The Thai for "bring me my slippers" is, according to Google translate, "นำรองเท้าแตะของฉันฉัน" or, read phonetically: "Nả rxngthêā tæa k̄hxng c̄hạn c̄hạn." 


  1. I used to be a cashier at Safeway and they did exactly the same thing. All 'part-timers' had a contract for 9.25 hours a week although I and most others regularly did between 28 and 35. I guess it meant they minimised any potential sick/holiday pay liabilities. Mind you it was worse at another supermarket (I won't name it) where my sister worked where they effectively outlawed sick leave. Again contracts were for 9 hours and staff relied on overtime to make a decent wage. But they had a rule whereby if you were sick for more than a certain percentage (1/5th I think) of your weekly contracted hours you forfeited any overtime for a month. Given how few hours most staff were contracted this effectively meant if you missed a single shift ill you got no overtime and effectively had lost your job, at least for a month. My sister had to quit following a brief bit of sickness as she was put onto contracted hours only and couldn't afford to stay. Try telling that to the Jobcentre....

  2. If he is only working 4 hours a week he needs to tell the Jobcentre that - not just sign off.

  3. I think it's the complexity for the Jobcentre that is the main problem as, if your hours are variable, that presumably means signing on for some weeks when your hours fall below 16 and signing off again when they don't? If Josh knew for sure he'd be working only 4 hours then, yes, this would be relatively simple - but I get the impression that one week he might get 30 hours, another 4, and another 7 etc etc. Would be terrible to be trying to make sure you could cover your housing costs etc from something so uncertain and unpredictable.

  4. He can look for something more consistent - but if he's working at least he'll have something to pad out his CV.

    He should also volunteer at your local charity shop/soup kitchen/animal shelter. Then in a few months he'll have a much more interesting CV and he can move on.