Christmas humbuggery

A friend of mine happened to mention her Christmas bonus,and that happened to remind me of a few things that happened several years ago.

I used to work for a fairly big company (as opposed to my current employer being a VERY BIG company), and it was privately held. They were a pretty good company, for the most part, but their Christmas practices left a bit to be desired.

One year, we received a memo that as a Christmas bonus, there would be no health insurance deductions for December. I was quite impressed and pleased with this, until a colleague pointed out how it really wasn’t that generous. They had taken our annual insurance costs and divided them into twelve, for each month, then divided it it in half again, to reflect our bi-weekly pay period — meaning that the annual cost was divided into 24. However, there are 26 pay periods in a year, meaning we’d already paid our full dues for the year. But that didn’t keep Corporate from trying to make themselves look good.

A year or two later, they tried another little stunt. I came home from work and found a big envelope in my mail from Corporate, with “OPEN IMMEDIATELY!” in big, red letters. And what was inside? In Advent calendar, with various products and services we could sell to customers — and, especially, friends and family.

I was extremely put out by this. I immediately composed an irate letter and a list of 25 other things that might have been more appropriate — including sending all marketing materials to us at the branch instead of individual mailings to hour homes, using the marketers as pinatas, and firing them all, then replacing them with kids from a pre-school, with a corresponding reduction in costs and increase in productivity.

I also pointed out that, under New Hampshire labor laws (and, likely, those of most other states), any employer that schedules or requires an employee to work is responsible to pay them for at least two hours’ time, whether or not they actually do work. I said it was arguable that sending a letter to an employee’s home, marked in big red letters that say “OPEN IMMEDIATELY,” could be considered a directive to work, and they could be on the hook for two hours’ pay to every single employee who received it — at that point, I think it was about 10,000 people.

I never heard back from them after sending in that fax, but my boss later took me aside and told me he’d heard from his boss (the head of the region) about it, who’d heard from the folks at marketing, who hadn’t appreciated it one bit. That was fine with me; the feeling was more than mutual. There was never any official action taken, though, and I never got any more notices at home from Marketing.

So,that’s my tale of working for Scrooge. Anyone wanna try and top those examples? Bring it on.

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