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December 12, 2011


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On number 8, you don't have to go, but see 5. This list is surprising in that people seem to have forgotten what employee at will means.

HR is useless. Most are grossly overpaid, underperforming morons that simply serve as gatekeepers to the real decision makers, whether that be hiring managers or corporate lawyers.

#3: I was once required to take management classes from our HR. The one lesson she inadvertently taught me was the function of HR was to protect the company from the employees, and not vice versa. I was very careful about what I said around her after that.

#6: I knew of a fellow employee who had a big blowout with his supervisor, became enraged and had to be escorted off the property. He was fired, filed for unemployment and the company didn't contest it, I guess because they feared retaliation. Others who were fired simply for poor performance couldn't get it. Sometimes it pays to act like a jerk.

#8: I don't believe this is true and if it is, too bad. If it's not part of my job description and I'm not being compensated for it in some way, I'm not going.

#10: I will not discuss my previous salary with potential employers for exactly this reason. Pay me based on what I'm worth, not compared to what I was previously earning.

#9 If you receive a performance review that you do not agree with there is nothing you can do about it? I don't think it's a smart idea to simply sign it and hand it over putting your reputation on the line. If you believe you truly did a better job then what is conveyed on the review,shouldn't you try and talk to someone about why your reviewer may be hostile toward you and not necessarily focused on the job you did?

6. Technically, you can't receive unemployment benefits if you're fired "with cause", although this may vary from state to state. Ultimately, it's the company's choice whether or not to contest your unemployment claim.

9. I disagree with FMF on this one though I appreciate his sentiment that you might want to reassess your situation upon receiving a bad review. I think that your review should contain an accurate representation of your work, and I’ve had a couple times in my career where that wasn’t the case. Having said that, you really need to support your case with solid evidence in order to have a chance at turning an unfavorable rating to an acceptable one. The fact of the matter is that these reviews affect your career and compensation. In large companies there’s usually a direct link between your review and your raise and/or bonus. Large companies also tend to grade you “on a curve”. Ultimately they want to have 10% in this box, 20% in the next box and 50% in the next. If you’re near the A/B boundary, then why wouldn’t you contest it?

#2 - Its surprising how many people think the constitution gives them the right to say whatever they want wherever they want. But then we're all taught that we have the right to freedom of speech. I don't remember any teacher explaining all the ways and places that the rights don't apply.

#4 - In most places this is true. I know someone who once ran into this one. She complained about something and HR went straight to her manager and told them about the complaint. Then management considered her a troublemaker. But in my current company our HR is required by company policy to keep things confidential and I know they do so.

#8 - They can require you to go outside normal hours... but do they have to PAY you? If you're salary then they can probably require this without compensation. If you are hourly then I don't see how they can require you to go to work things out side of normal work hours without compensation.

#9 - Depends. Usually its not worth challenging a review. And you don't want to wage a battle just cause you didn't get the raise you wanted. But I've seen an employee beat their manager on a review. The remarks in the review were totally unwarranted and basically a clear sign the manager was not competent to manage IMHO. It wasn't something the employee in question would have wanted to let stand in their record. Sometimes its time for the manager to move on and thats what happened ultimately in this case. However its the exception to the norm.

#8 - If you're salaried, they can make you do all sorts of things outside "normal" hours since, in the employer's mind, normal hours are 24/7. This is especially true if you work for a global corporation. If you have to work with your Chinese or Indian counterparts, for example, 10:00 pm conference calls are part of normal hours.

#5 is true in most cases and in 49 states, but with the recent mass layoffs, office shut downs, etc. a lot more people have fallen under the WARN act, see:

Great list for FLSA-exempt salaried at-will professionals in the private sector. As others have said, #8 isn't a myth for the FLSA-nonexempt. #1 and #5 may not be myths if you're unionized. I'd guess that several aren't myths for government employees, but I don't really know.

@FMF I think the issue with #10 is that Bill will figure out the jig, and leave for a competitor that will pay his worth. You won't know this is happening until he's giving you notice, but you could have prevented it by getting your salaries right in the first place. Now you have to go to the expense of hiring and ramping up someone new, who probably won't be the star Bill was anyway.

08graduate --

Bill rarely figures out the jig in my experience. ;-)

@FMF Interesting. I think it's not so in my industry - people are generally aware of how they would be compensated elsewhere, and high demand for the best software engineers makes employers pay for performance. As you say, though, only HR and executives know the truth of that for certain.

The Steve Jobs biography is an interesting read for many reasons, not least his views on compensation. He was ruthless about pruning the B and C players from Apple, but rewarded the A players lavishly. He understood that he needed to keep his best people for the long run, and that top-tier engineers don't want to be burdened with mediocre coworkers. Can't argue with the results. :)

The rules for unemployment have probably changed since I had to file (25 years ago). My boss came to me (a salaried employee) and gave me a letter saying that if I wanted to keep my job, I had to meet certain guidelines in the next month. The guidelines were that I meet my annual goals in the next month. He and I both knew this was impossible. So - he said if I left the following Monday that he would give me 6 weeks severance. Our company did not have that kind of policy. I said I would think about it and he went back to the home office.

I called the unemployment bureau to ask about it. (This was in MO). They asked if I got a letter. I said yes. They said if I left on Monday, I would be unable to collect any unemployment. I would be quitting. So I told my boss I would try to meet my goals and left at the end of the month he gave me. I was able to collect unemployment for 6 months. That's all we got then. I was out of work for one year.

I've often felt a tiny bit guilty. When I received my final paycheck it showed me being paid for 2 weeks vacation in each of the 3 previous years. This was the boss's way of doing the severance pay, but apparently he forgot to tell the comptroller. I knew this because we got 2 weeks vacation each year and if you didn't use it, you lost it. And I had definitely used all of that vacation. I probably should have mentioned it, but I was still upset for the reason he let me go.

#7 "It was standard practice to give someone a good reference if they were a good employee (hard to get into trouble that way) and cite the policy if they were a bad employee."

This is interesting because it puts people from large corporations where they just give dates at a disadvantage. The person who is hiring and who isn't for some reason familiar that a particular corporation's policy to only give dates may think that someone is a bad employee. My corporation - a large Fortune 500 company - has a dates only policy.

#8 - "If you're salaried, they can make you do all sorts of things outside "normal" hours since, in the employer's mind, normal hours are 24/7. This is especially true if you work for a global corporation. If you have to work with your Chinese or Indian counterparts, for example, 10:00 pm conference calls are part of normal hours."

Yes, but sometimes they do try to find time convenient for everyone - 8am, 9am, 9pm, etc. You usually call from home in these cases. Occasionally you may say "I cannot make it this day" but you cannot do it all the time. I often mark off time on my calendar when I have personal plans for some evenings to make sure no meetings are scheduled at these times.

The flip side of this is in many cases you can also take time off for personal business if you want to - we used to have to tell the manager about it e.g. "I have personal business on such and such time", but nowadays we just switch instant messaging to "Away" and leave the office for a couple hours or so, also reserve the time on the Notes calendar so that meeting aren't scheduled.

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