I have a problem with how people with manual labor jobs are viewed! As usual these are my opinions and since they affect me directly this time I honestly do not care if you take offense! People who work manual labor jobs are the back bone of our society. I have done it but it’s just not my line of work, but my husband does it and loves it! He enjoys it like no other. So when I see him getting taken advantage of or something is weighing heavily on people in his line of work I feel I need to voice my opinion on it.
Though his job offers more than most, I still feel that across the board manual labor jobs need to step up on what they offer people. I understand that they are jobs that many people do not WANT. They are deemed as they jobs that only low income, under-educated, past-criminals, and/ or immigrants can get. I find that to be so harshly stereotypical yet that’s how many view this predominantly male population. I find it so wrong. There are many respectable men in this group who genuinely love manual labor (work they do), the environment, the people they meet, and the frequency of the checks (generally every Friday). I mean they will do work that most of us would not do from animal waste management to landscaping and construction. However, when we think of architecture and even construction we do not think of lowly jobs like landscaping and such but these men do this too. They just do not have the title. Many of them have the ingenuity and brilliance but not the degree or polish/ pedigree one would prefer. They can map out your entire land with koi ponds and zen gardens, waterfalls, rock wall dividers, and stone paths, and ivy covered archways and so on but you do not see them as architects because they did not build a house. Yet they have to know the ratio to their chemicals to spray for your pests, the psi for the pump to build your koi pond, and the correct measurements, and how to get the correct filters installed for fish waste and such so that the fish can thrive. They must also make sure this coincides with your property and spacial quality for everything else you have asked for and is up to code. But I digress.
So the topic today, paid-time off. I have a problem with not paying employees who you were ‘prepared’ or have budgeted to pay just because it snowed or some other act of nature. Moreover, if they have family emergency or need to take a day off for something they have to do it with the knowledge that they will not be paid. This is not fair. I understand it if was like my job where if you used all your PTO or it has not accumulated and you had to take a day (even though now you can ‘borrow’ up to 2 weeks before you accumulate it) but to straight tell them they never get PTO and never will and you basically never expect them to take a day off is ridiculous. I could almost…almost understand if it were a part-time job as PTO is considered a benefit and most jobs do not offer benefits to those who are not full-time, but a full-time job where one is working and not receiving PTO of any sort seems absurd to me. I mean I have heard of a job not giving them healthcare because that can be pricey and the company has to pay for that, FINE. I cannot say I completely agree but I get it. But when you have already budgeted and were going to pay the employee for being there anyway but then ‘weather’ happened…why not give them that money anyway. Or if they need off for a medical appointment, this money should go into that. I mean an employee should still only get up to a certain amount off like 2 weeks a year that way the rest of the time still goes back into the company and the company still profits/ stays in the green but making money off nature while your employees struggle is wrong. Especially when you still sit like a fat cat paying yourself and getting all you need even on the bad weather days or your medical days and you are not ‘full-time’ either. Yet because you are the boss you can do that. That’s not right!
My solution is that when there is an act of Nature, allow them to make-up the day if they choose or come in and do labor in another way (if it is not too dangerous to drive). For example, come in and clean/ maintain the equipment they use everyday. You have trucks and gear that probably are rarely done/ cleaned on a regular, use that day to do that, get them maintained or take them to a specialist to get them inspected. Have them come in and do paper work, clean, or refresh/ paint the facility. This is something else that has probably also been neglected. Most employees would probably prefer to get in some hours even if only a half day than nothing. If you can do a conference call from home do that; where you can do a training.
I mean, you would be surprised at the morale and initiative your team would take if you showed interest in what they would like to do to keep income coming when there would usually be none. I mean, yes there will be times when after working for months or weeks on end for 10-15 hrs a day that yes they will take the option to have that day off and not care if it it unpaid. However, when it goes on for days on end and 1-3 days a week because of rain, snow, or other reasons out of their control, having options would be nice. These men are human and have responsibilities. They need to be looked at as men and able to do what they need to as men which is to provide and feel pride in their ability to contribute to their household. It is not proud moment when a man has to say my check was short this week because it rained or because I had to get a physical. Doing things to stay healthy should not cost them ‘twice’. They already have to pay for it out of pocket or through insurance, then you make them pay by not giving them PTO or the chance to make up the hours in any way for trying to stay healthy to do their job.
That’s a shame, especially when in most cases they aren’t even the ones that provide healthcare…but that’s a whole other topic for another time! Just look out for your employees because one day they may build a rival company and take all your employees and give them just what you would not! And as a organizational psychologist I will be willing to help them make the solutions I just suggested!