Thursday, February 09, 2006

Use it or loose it.

I believe that our Corporate Overlords regularly use the technique of "bait and switch" when it comes time to announce unpleasant things. I particularly recall a meeting where the Site Manager brought us in to talk about where The Company was going and where they stood compared to the rest of the industry. The picture looked pretty good. Then we lost our 401k matching funds.

Well, as I said, there has been an Auditor in the area. When I spoke with him he talked about getting our ideas, asked if there were any tools we needed to do our jobs better and was generally upbeat. Well, today my skepticism was validated when the announcement came down concerning major changes to how vacation time is managed.

Previously, you accrued PTO based on the number of hours you worked. I recall it was something on the order of 1.6 hours of PTO earned for 40 hours of work. These hours were stockpiled indefinitely.

Now, vacation hours will be awarded based on seniority and status. Be employed for 1 year, earn 80 hours of vacation time for the year. Be employed for 3 years, earn 96 hours. If your a part-time employee, whether you work 20 hours a week or 35 hours a week, you only get half as much.

For myself, there is good and bad, and neither to the extreme. My 6+ years of service earns me 120 hours of vacation time for the year. I looked at my past usage of PTO and it's ranged from the mid 80s to the mid 90s so I am, in a sense, getting more.

But, here's the trick; if that time isn't used by the end of the calendar year, it evaporates.

The Corporation provides this benefit plan to provide a healthy work-life balance. The Corporate Overlords expect each employee to take the full allotment of vacation provided each year.

This isn't "work-life balance" if I'm forced to spend it at the rate they define.

But wait. There's more.

The PTO time I have right now, 55 hours, must be used by April 1st or it will disappear as well. In the next month and a half I need to spend over a week of PTO or loose out.

Damn right, I'm going to spend it now. I'm going to look over my calendar and start spending it left and right. Perhaps I'll avoid the nasty queue and take each Monday off for the next six weeks. Maybe I'll take six Fridays off and have some nice long weekends for a change. Maybe I'll just take a whole week.

But what about some of my other coworkers who I know have accrued more PTO than I have. I know of at least three with over 100 hours. Are they going to get a chance to spend their time or are they going to get ripped off? Am I going to be cheated out of my time while Management tries to accommodate everyone?

And, of course, I see this as another symptom of problems at the Corporate level. Switching from an hourly-based PTO accumulation to one that has a set amount a year allows them to budget more efficiently. No nasty surprises when an employee who's never taken a vacation collects all of it at once. And, for every employee that doesn't spend all his vacation time by the end of the year, well it's like free money in the pockets of the Corporate Overlords.

So, another shoe has dropped.

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