The Slavery of “Salaried”

My husband turns in his resignation on Monday.  A loss for all.

We cheered in tandem when he accepted a job offer with a company less interested in working their people to death.  He chose very carefully and took his time.  I am less patient than he.  I have been lobbying for him to leave his current job for the last year.  He has held off hoping that the promises given to him will be filled.  They haven’t.  And so he goes.  And with him goes a whole lotta BI (Business Intelligence).

It takes a village to raise a child.  In some ways, companies are children too.  They have their infancy, growing pains and maturity.  They have a personality and a culture.  And they will both wither and die without capable caregivers.

Workers are the caregivers of any company.  The company cannot successfully grow without workers able to do their job.  And a worker must have four elements to be effective: training, support, tools and a healthy home-work balance.

OSHA protects the hourly wage earner, which historically has been shafted by terrible conditions.  Now the “exempt” or “salaried” positions need help.  My husband’s job is one of many examples of the ‘white collar’ victimization that the term “exempt” now entails.  Supposedly, “exempt” means that you set your own schedule and as long as you get the agreed on work completed, you set your hours.  The total number of hours worked each week waxes and wanes with each project, but the sum total is around the same number of hours over a year’s time.  So say the “experts”.  My husband’s “exempt” has been 8-6 pm plus 7-1 am most nights.  Then several hours up to 18 hours a day on the weekend.

Last year my husband worked some or all of the 52 weekends along with his 10-12 hour 5 day a week job.   He frequently comes home, says a quick “Hi”, then goes up to our computer room, where he eats dinner and works until the wee hours of the morning only to get up and do it all over again.  In the last 40 days he has had one day off, which he ended up working for 6 hours.  He pulls “call”, which entails hundreds of alerts a night.  He has to wake up and respond to all of them.  Some he can ignore, but many require intervention.  These call periods, essentially a full 12 hour night of work, last for 7 days at a time.  And he still has to work all day.  By the time he is “off call” he is grey with fatigue.  And unlike hourly workers, HE DOESNT GET PAID A DIME FOR CALL.

How can this be “ok” EVER for ANYONE?  My husband has held on for a year with promise after promise that they are ‘trying to hire’ and ‘creating a night position’.  Really? One year and nothing to show for it? In a recession?

Now his company will lose him.  But, being a decent guy, he has decided to hold off giving his notice until a critical project–requiring all hands on deck for 12 hour on/12 hour off shifts– is completed.  A gift to a company who has given him nothing but a paycheck, and (I feel) has taken years off of him in stress.  But the gift isn’t to the company, it is to his fellow co-workers, who will now have to pick up what he does.  Part of his personal ethic.

I will be glad to have a husband again. My kids will have a dad again. I will be glad to see the stress level reduce.  And another “caregiver” will eventually be found to re-fill Brent’s role.  In the meantime, the company will not operate nearly as efficiently.  Perhaps fail 5th grade.   Metaphorically a small setback over a 70 year lifespan. But a scar never-the-less.

It doesn’t matter whether a person’s money is hourly or salaried, there should be a maximum amount of hours worked.  Period.  Do you want my husband on the road with you after 7 days of no sleep from call?  Victimization hurts us all.


5 comments on “The Slavery of “Salaried”

  1. I hope the new job brings joy and rest and more time with family.

    • M-e-e T-o-o….today one of his co-workers had a heart attack. They have been holed up in the office since Friday with only short breaks. Telling…. He cant leave soon enough!

  2. I have been in and observed the exact situation you describe regarding your husband…I know that the companies of today are building their future/profits on the backs of those who care and have a work ethic that will not allow them to cut corners or perform their work just any way to get it done. I see the stock market soaring, yet we have so many out of work…I believe companies are doing more while using less workers, which means those who are employed have to work ungodly hours to get the job done.

    As my wife Susie and I have been working on launching our new business this past year we have developed a business model that is simple and straight-forward: DO IT RIGHT – NO MATTER WHAT.

    Yet we have been amazed at the number one question we get when we share our business motto with others: “What does that mean?”

    We in the business community, even with all the think outside the box, business 2.0 mentality, still look at only one metric to determine success…is the company making money…and not just some money…but is it is making as much money as we can possibly wring out of it.

    Ironically when I talk with those in the business community I always hear the same thing, “You know Stephen, it doesn’t have to be this way.”

    I know my wife and I have the answer to make business more humane, less stressful, and better for everyone…but absolutely know one is listening.

    I always sign off with two words, which after this long rant may seem incongruous with what I’ve written, but I believe they are more important now than ever…be encouraged!

    • Well, yesterday was hard. Brent hit me with a change in plan. He was staying. The company was so upset about his resignation that there was an all day meeting with the executives and CEO for what needed to change in order for him to stay. I have little faith in promises and plans without action, but he is giving them 3 months to put his requests in place. The other position was much better, but Brent’s skill set is very high, and he would only have been using a small part for a large salary. Not his style. That’s the problem with brilliant IT guys, they get bored without a challenge!

      • …my skill set is so low I get bored without money…hahaha…but seriously I understand his thinking…my only prayer is he will not regret this choice and stick by the 3 month time limitation…honestly, I doubt if the corporate leopard will change its spots…also if the C-suite was so interested in the welfare of your husband wouldn’t they have noticed all the hours he was putting in and stepped forward before it became a critical issue…all those hours worked with kids and a wife at home…hmmm, I’m not sure everything adds up.

        as tough as it is…be encouraged!

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