On the right track
One of the traditional features of the Christmas period is that it offers seasonal employment opportunities. Many unemployed persons are beneficiaries of short-term employment, and because of the heightened commercial activity, some are required to work long hours.
On the one hand, employees are often placed under severe pressure by their employer/management, whose primary interest is that of maximising sales, while on the other, they are subjected to the pressure of customers who are demanding fast and efficient service.
Those who are unaccustomed to the pressure of the work environment are often challenged to cope. The level of frustration can lead to several conflict situations. This could make the work experience for some an unpleasant one.
Although management employs most individuals on a short-term or temporary basis, this does not remove their basic expectation that good customer service is to be offered. Employers/management might overlook, and unintentionally so, that many of whom they employ are either not trained, or may be first-time employees.
This being the case, it is certainly a level of risk that employers and management have to acknowledge, and so must be prepared to deal with any fallout that may result. It is therefore uncharitable, to say the least, where employers/management are harsh in their dealings with inexperienced workers who are subject to make mistakes, and may not act or react in a manner that a trained or experienced employee would. It is important that these temporary workers are handled sensibly, particularly those who are known not to have any work experience.
Temporary and part-time workers are best advised that their engagement should be by way of a written contract. There should be no doubt of the job position in which the individual functions or of their duties and responsibilities. The contract should state the start and terminal date of employment, the hours of work, the wage or salary to be paid and the pay date. Employees should be aware of their entitlement of a one hour luncheon break, which they should insist is reflected in the contract.
Those temporary or part-time employees within the private sector, should be aware that unlike permanent employees, they are not entitled to be paid for the day(s) that they do not report for duty. Should they be paid by an hourly rate, employees should also be aware that they stand to have deductions made from their pay package for any time they are away from the job.
It is customary to hear employers in the retail and wholesale business sector, boasting of the good financial returns they enjoy during the period of Christmas. It is hoped that they recognised the value of their employees, as it is as a result of their efforts the targets set are reached and even surpassed. It is likely that they are those who incentivise their employees through an enhanced payment, while others don’t care to give it a thought.
Employees should value their own efforts and therefore should insist on overtime payment where the work exceeds the legal forty hour work week. For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar, over time is calculated at time and a half for any overtime work done during the work week. Double time is paid for work done on public holidays, and on Saturdays and Sundays which are the worker’s off days.
Employers are encouraged to let their actions reflect the true spirit of Christmas, and in so doing, to be fair and just to their employees. Those who are fortunate to get employment at this time of the year should make good use of the opportunity.
The good work ethic you exhibit and the quality customer service you provide may result in you receiving the Christmas gift of full time employment.
* Dennis De Peize is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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