The girl works several nights a week at a local restaurant, mostly ordering takeouts. He gets the local minimum wage and tips, although the tips are usually not high when taking out.
(PSA: If you have a way, please suggest a takeout. I never thought of doing this until TG was mentioned; now I do it regularly.)
It’s a decent gig, since the teenager goes to work. He reports that it is not too stressful most of the time, except when older men decide to flirt and / or be polite. As feminist as she was before she started there, she is much more so now. Happily, he is adept at maintaining his decency and drawing boundaries without causing any scenes, which is a useful life skill. According to his account, managers vary in quality, but none are toxic, and the extra fry are known to look the other way when employees find their way. That’s fine with teenage jobs. *
Over the past few weeks though, he has repeatedly been struck by a troubling fact that I have remembered from my hour-wage year: many employers do not think there is anything strange or inappropriate about sending workers home early – that is, reducing pay time – when the place is Is slow. Several of his recent five-hour shifts, including loss of proportional income, have been three hours or less.
If this is a problem with only one employer, then the obvious response is to find a new one. But it is local. Many community college students face this on a regular basis.
Fluctuating hours like this are not just an income problem. They can wreak havoc with the transportation system and make it more difficult for them to find other jobs. As your days and times in The Feed Bag vary from week to week, how do you know what days and hours you can do at Velmar Vitals? Theoretically, less hours in one task may allow more work in another, but it is much harder to do when the clock is ticking. In reality, lost hours are a form of transfer of risk from the employer to the employee.
The girl is luckier than many. TW and I sometimes work from home, we were usually able to provide a car for him when he had a shift, so it was no problem to get home after a short shift. And he doesn’t survive on what he does there. In his case, it’s more annoying than disaster. But not everyone is in that position. For students who are trying to support themselves and / or their families while going to school, a sudden cut in hours can be a tipping point where something has to be paid.
Community colleges are known for working closely with local employers to help meet their needs for trained staff. Asking for some level of reciprocity seems reasonable. Employees should be able to count a certain number of hours per week as a baseline, and the hours should be relatively approximate. (Yes, there are holidays and special occasions. I’m referring to “normal” weeks here.) This way an employee who is in college can set up a routine to complete classwork, or an employee who has a second job to do. The last mite will know what day and time they can do. Spontaneous cuts of 40 percent are not reasonable.
Such a change is probably more necessary than an informal agreement; Otherwise, employers who take the high road will face financial hardship compared to those who transfer risk to employees without a second thought. But it may take decades for those rules to be made to wait for adequate change in our politics. In the meantime, working with employers who employ many of our students and graduates seems to be a reasonable place to start. I don’t know many people who can tolerate a 40 percent salary reduction repeatedly and spontaneously and those I know don’t work for hourly wages.
Wise and worldly reader, has anyone really tried this? I did
* Admittedly, they first tried to get him his salary through a prepaid debit card, which is quite shady. We push back and arrange for the actual check. So far, they have respected it.