it’s your Friday good news

It’s your Friday good news!

1. I have a good news story. It’s not about me, but actually about my 15-year-old daughter. She has been talking for about a year about getting a job when she’s 15. She was volunteering last winter for a few months, and then the plague hit, so that ended. Other than that, she’s got no job experience at all. But she saw a local place was looking to hire. It’s a takeout food place (think salads, wraps, smoothies, that kind of thing) and since the pandemic began, she had started getting involved at home with dinner. Over the last year or so, she’s been the one working with me to meal plan, she grocery shops with me, and then 99% of the time she cooks dinner. So, even though she had no experience, I encouraged her to apply anyway.

Her resume was pretty light as you can imagine, but I talk a lot about your site and your advice. I told her about the importance of cover letters, and how to use them to show your skills and why you would be the best person for the job. So she did! She talked all about how her skills at home have prepared her for this job and her excitement about working with food and with the public. She went to her interview this afternoon and they offered her the job on the spot! The woman she interviewed with said she doesn’t tend to hire people with no experience, but my daughter’s cover letter was so impressive, and her interview confirmed her personality and enthusiasm, that she hired her right then and there. The woman said that she’s been hiring for these types of positions for years, and that my daughter’s cover letter was the best she’s ever seen. She never would have done this without my advice from your site, and now at 15, she is also a big Alison fan! Thank you so much for all that you do, and all the invaluable advice you provide. I’m a very proud mom today!

2. I have been a longtime reader of your website and I recently had some good news that I wanted to share with your readers. For the last 2 years, my work life has not been the greatest – bad managers, lots of bouncing from one short term assignment to another, mental health issues, feeling unhappy and stuck, not much career progression, etc. I made the decision to finally take my long service leave and use the time to finish my degree and focus on my mental health. I have now returned to work and have been placed in a role that so far I’m really enjoying and there is a good chance of getting a promotion in the near future. I am feeling much happier and more fulfilled at work then I have been in a long time.

But the best news is that upon my return to work I was tidying up some outstanding HR issues and it lead me to query why I had never been moved up to the top pay point for my classification level. According to our contract we are entitled to one performance based pay rise every year provided we haven’t already been promoted within the last 12 months and we don’t get any bad performance ratings. But even though I’ve always been rated as “meets required work standards” or above, I haven’t received a pay rise since August 2016. So I contacted HR and asked them to look into it.

Yesterday HR told me that an error had occurred in the system due to a previous manager failing to finalize the proper paperwork for my 2017 performance review (which is when I should have been bumped up to the top pay point). This error was then compounded by me being moved around to a bunch of different short term project teams. Nobody – not HR or any of my managers – picked up on the fact that I didn’t have an annual performance agreement logged in the HR system and therefore wasn’t able to formally record/ get sign-off on my any of performance reviews. I had performance discussions with my managers – there was just never any evidence of them. And the way our HR system works if there’s no paper trail then there’s no pay rise. I feel silly that I didn’t pick up on the issue sooner but in my defense that last 2 years have been a roller-coaster both personally and professionally.

Anyway, the end result is I’m immediately being moved up to the correct pay point AND getting back pay for 3.5 years of missing pay raises. I’m not sure exactly how much money I’ll get as I’m still waiting for payroll to confirm the final figure but money is tight right now so any extra cash is a huge help.

3. I wanted to offer this story for your Friday Good News even though technically, it’s not news — nothing has changed about my job except how much I appreciate it!

A few months ago, I started job-searching because of concerns that my employer might either get acquired by a bigger company or go out of business. I didn’t really want to leave, but I did find a few exciting opportunities that got me thinking about all the (pretty small) downsides to my current job. I got a couple of offers, but none of them were for the exciting things or, in fact, tempting in any way.

At the same time, I was trying to get pregnant, and I was much more successful at that than I was at finding a new job! My state has a paid family leave program, and if I changed jobs, I would lose my eligibility for that until I’d completed six months at the new job. Fortunately, with my due date getting closer, the looming crisis that was threatening my company seems to have either passed or receded further into the future, so I decided to stay put.

I was afraid of feeling a little trapped in my job after having thought so much about what else is out there, but I’m actually feeling rosier than ever! Working from home has been a great fit for us and, even if they called the staff back to the office, I’m confident I could get permission to stay at home through my pregnancy. If/whenever we do go back, my commute is only a mile, which I imagine will be a big advantage as a new parent. My boss has always trusted her staff to manage our time, and I can’t remember a single instance where I asked to adjust my schedule or take time off and she said no. She has supported me in taking on additional responsibilities at a reasonable pace over my 2.5 years in this job, so I’m often learning something new but without ever feeling overwhelmed or struggling to get things done within a reasonable number of hours.

Then, after I decided it was too close to my due date for a new job but before I announced my pregnancy, I made a pretty big ask for time off around the winter holidays. I said I knew it would be tough to accommodate and I was willing to compromise, but my boss INSISTED I take exactly the days I wanted and they’d make it work! Finally, last Friday afternoon, I told my boss I was pregnant. She was thrilled and her only questions were about how I was feeling. Less than 24 hours later, flowers showed up at my house with a card signed with the company name (she clarified on Monday that she only told her boss, who’s a co-owner of the company and asked her to send me the flowers — other than that it’s still my news to share). I feel so supported and so optimistic about balancing this job with parenting (after returning from my 12 weeks of paid leave!). This is my first job that is “just a job” (previously, I’d always worked in fields that people choose because they love them, which is wonderful in its way but sets you up to be treated by employers like you’re lucky to be there and shouldn’t expect a living wage/reasonable hours/decent management), so it’s still a bit of a novelty to leave work at work every day and to be able to prioritize my health and my personal life. This feels like exactly where I need to be with such a big change coming up!

{ 35 comments… read them below }

  1. PollyQ*

    #2 — I sure hope HR asked LW’s previous managers about how exactly they failed to correctly update the system and what they’re going to do to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. Or possibly follows up with IT, if it turns out they tried to update but it didn’t go through.

  2. Momma Bear*

    I love the Friday good news. Glad especially for OP2 since it sounds like they really need the raise.

  3. Observer*

    #2 is some roller coaster. It sounds like a pretty bad system – it shouldn’t have been possible to go 4 years without a single signed performance eval if they are the basis for essentially automated compensation decisions. On the other hand, it sounds like there are some good policies in place and decent HR folks. A lot of companies would not even consider the back pay. I am SO glad for you that they are doing the right thing here.

  4. knitcrazybooknut*

    Letter #1 made me tear up! OP#1, never underestimate the impact you’re having on your daughter’s life. I cannot imagine how much easier things would have been for me with that type of support, advice, and willingness to help throughout my life. The world needs more mothers like you. All the best to you and your daughter!

    1. TG*

      Agreed that’s awesome she’s learning wonderful things at a young age! She sounds thoughtful, smart and you’re teaching her the value in being passionate about what she does!

  5. Former Retail Lifer*

    OP#1, great job to your teenager! I was a retail manager for years and hired many, many high school kids. Truthfully, all of their applications looked the same and most attempts at resumes were valiant efforts but not well done. It was really hard for any kid to stand out from the stack of applications we always had. I don’t think I EVER saw a cover letter from a high school applicant, so I would have been impressed as well…especially since it was apparently a great one. I didn’t know how to write a decent cover letter until I was over 30, so she’s got a great head start!

  6. Ocho*

    I had to Google “long service leave” and wow! Speaking as an American, this is blowing my mind! “In Australia and New Zealand, long service leave (LSL) is an employee entitlement to an additional vacation on full pay after an extended period of service with an employer. In Australia, employees are generally entitled to long service leave over and above their annual leave if they work for a particular employer for a certain length of time. A common entitlement in Australia is that employees who remain with the one employer for ten years are entitled to three calendar months’ (ninety days) paid LSL, less on a pro rata basis, the longer they stay with that employer. When a worker ceases work with an employer, he or she is usually entitled to be paid the amount of LSL entitlement not taken on termination on a pro rata basis, though usually after a minimum period of service.”

    1. Artemesia*

      I have a Canadian friend who was able to get a year’s leave to spend in Paris; she works for govt I think. It was kind of like a sabbatical.

    2. Gumby*

      I worked for a company in the US that had one month off at 2/3 pay after every 5 years you worked there. I worked there 9 years and dearly wish that circumstances had allowed me to stay another year!

      I also once interviewed someplace that offered 6 months off fully paid (IIRC) after 10 years or maybe 15 (it’s been a while since I interviewed). So it isn’t unheard of here, though it is rare.

    3. Harbor Porpoise*

      As an American living in Australia, long service leave is incredible and also indicative of the general attitude towards work. Other benefits of working in Australia:
      1. Abundant annual and personal leave. And when you take annual leave you get an extra loading. When I queried this the first time it turned up on my payslip, the response was “People need more money while they’re on holiday.”
      2. Some jobs have the ability to give you 4/5ths of your pay for 4 years, but then you get your 5th year of work off paid at the same rate.
      3. LSL can also be taken over time, so people may decide “I’m not going to work Fridays this year” rather than taking the three months off at once.
      4. The time off options open up lots of temporary contract positions, which make it much easier to get your foot in the door or gain experience.

      1. Dreamlikecheese*

        Love long service leave. Mine accrued just as we entered the pandemic so I’m still saving it in hopes of taking a longer overseas holiday once travel has opened back up. But some of the perks in your comment are sadly not universal in Australia and might be specific to your company. There’s no additional leave loading anywhere I’ve worked. I do have option to “purchase” additional leave each year, with my weekly salary paid at a reduced rate over 12 months to account for the extra time off, though I’ve never taken this up.

        1. Rebeck*

          Whereas I’ve worked in borh the public and private sectors and have never had a job without leave loading. It’s an anachronism (the idea is if you were working you’d have the opportunity to do overtime and thus leave loading makes up for that, but I have never worked anywhere where overtime was a thing) but it’s not something I’m about to complain about.

          Most of my jobs have given you the leave loading when you take your leave, but I’ve had two jobs where it comes in bulk in the first December pay, which is great in the lead up to Christmas.

      2. Jonquil*

        Long service leave where I work has to be taken in blocks of one week or more, so you can’t do the “every Friday for a year” thing. I used mine, along with my annual leave, to pad out my maternity leave to 8 months at full pay.

        I’ve also never had leave loading (though it must be common enough that I recognise the phrase). I do have the ability to purchase leave, though. They take 4 weeks out of your pay spread out over a year and you get an extra four weeks leave.

        1. Freya*

          Also the thing with taking LSL varies by state – in NSW where I live and work it can be split up but only into a maximum of four batches, and that only if you’ve got more than 19.5 weeks to take. You become eligible at 10 years service, at which point you have 8.67 weeks worth.

          In Canberra, where a number of my clients live and work, you can’t split it up, and employers MUST organise for you to take it as soon as practicable after you’ve accrued 4 weeks worth – and you become eligible at 7 years service, at which point you have just over 6 weeks worth. SO you’ve got to take 6 weeks then and another 4 weeks every 4.6 years after that.

    4. Excessive Tea Consumer*

      Can confirm, it’s awesome. I didn’t get around to taking my long service leave so ended up being paid out when I switched jobs after 12 years. We ended up using the money for an overseas family trip, travelling after my first year at the new job. Most people at my work do seem to take their leave so there’s always at least one person covering on a short term contract, which gives people invaluable experience and adds something extra to our workplace. Win win!

    5. Colonial Australia*

      It has a fascinating history as well. It dates back to Auatralia’s colonial history, and was originally to enable colonial civil servants to go Home (always capitalised) to England and return.

  7. Bookworm*

    So happy to get the weekly dose of good news (appreciate this being uploaded even though you’re in vacation, Alison! Hope you’re enjoying it!).

    Yay and thanks to everyone, and special props to LW1’s daughter. That’s so awesome!

  8. Felis alwayshungryis*

    “I’d always worked in fields that people choose because they love them, which is wonderful in its way but sets you up to be treated by employers like you’re lucky to be there”

    That’s a really great insight, and one that people should give more consideration to.

    1. Jonquil*

      Having tried a couple, my motto is now “dream jobs are never a dream to do”. Some of my most boring-sounding jobs have been amazing to work at, because the employers understand that they need to work a bit harder to attract and retain people.

  9. Squirrel Nutkin*

    So happy for all of you, and especially OP#3!

    I believe it was recently on this site that I read a commenter saying, “People don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses.” This situation is the flip side of that — Having a great boss can make you enjoy staying. Kudos to your boss for being such a good egg, and congratulations on the forthcoming bundle of joy!

  10. Coywolf*

    I can’t believe the manager from OP1’s letter admitted they usually don’t hire people with no experience for an entry level, (likely) minimum wage job even during the current labor shortage.

    1. Stitching Away*

      You’re making a lot of assumptions here. The biggest is that the manager doesn’t have the option to hire people with experience for an entry level job in the current market. While the OP’s daughter is 15, plenty of teens looking for jobs like this are a year or two older, and will have that year of experience. The manager can likely easily get someone who has food prep experience, for yes, a minimum wage job.

      The other massive assumption you’re making is that there’s a labor shortage going on in this exact location for this specific job.

  11. Cat Lady*

    I think it’s fair to have concerns that a job that a 15-year old qualifies for would require prior experience though. As has been said many times, how can kids get prior experience? And in some locations, 15 is the youngest age at which you can legally work.

    Love OP’s advice and how this was such a win for her daughter! Just broader concerns about putting teenagers at the mercy of bad managers / illegal hiring practices so they can have a tiny bit of experience (and impacting their future work norms).

Comments are closed.