Total Pageviews

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A long hard look in the mirror

When the Doctor agreed to sign me off work, just over a week ago, it seemed like forever, but I am painfully aware that those 2 weeks will soon be drawing to a close. With this in mind, I thought it was a good idea to try and talk to someone at the CAB to get advice as to exactly what my rights at work are.

I was relieved to hear that I was and am quite correct in thinking that almost everyone is entitled to a minimum 20 minute break if they work for 6 hours or more. There are certain exceptions to this, mostly those who work in the transport industry and emergency services, but none of these apply to retail workers. Furthermore, those 20 minutes have to be uninterrupted and away from the work station. The Manager's office, with one eye on the security camera does not constitute being away from the work station!

If the company fails to provide this then you can lodge a grievance, or if everything else fails, take them to an industrial tribunal. This is of course a last resort. It is also worth knowing that the company cannot sack you or make your life difficult for taking steps to ensure that you get what you are entitled to - to do so constitutes unfair dismissal. If you do decide to go down the tribunal road then you have to do so within three months of the problem or breach of contract taking place. This afternoon then I have to sit down and read exactly what it does say in both my contract and the employee handbook, which forms part of my contract anyway. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.

The last week seems to have to passed in a bit of a blur, and I am feeling more relaxed than I have in a long, long while. Usually it takes a week on Lundy to get me feeling like this, and I feel a lot better knowing that it is only 6 weeks on Friday until I return to my beloved island again.

The weather in that first week off was glorious, and my partner and I (he works from home) took full advantage by going for long walks and picnics on the Heath. Winter after all will soon be with us, and having missed most of the summer through being shut in the store, I felt the need to make the most of all the sunshine and fresh air that I had missed. Yesterday we drove down to Portsmouth for the day, and it was so refreshing to dip my feet in the sea and walk for 2 miles down the beach and back to where we had parked the car. I could feel the waves washing through me, cleansing the mind of the accumulated junk and clutter. It was just the tonic that I needed.

The last week has been about some finding some much needed me time, to do all those things that have been neglected for months. Things like sorting out my wardrobe, having a real deep massage, trying out some different classes at the local sports centre, meeting friends for a girlie chat and a cup of tea, and just lazing around in the sun with a book. Some serious changes will need to be made when I go back next week, and the first of these will be a return to the four day week. It is time to start putting myself first, as no one else will do it for me. The pay rise that I have recently had (with more to come in October) will compensate in part, and there are more important things than money anyway.

The key is learning to control my situation rather than the situation controlling me, and that has always been my problem. All of my life I seem to have had problems with work and various bosses dumping on me, taking advantage of my good nature and the inherent work ethic that I seem to have inherited from both parents. I have been dumped on more times than I care to mention, and some of the stories I could tell you would not believe. One company closed the showroom that I managed without even bothering to inform me, while another went bankrupt while I was holiday, having failed to pay my tax and national insurance for six years - thankfully I had the pay slips to prove otherwise. Then there was the time that I was left sitting on the check out for over an hour requesting relief so that I could go to the toilet. That gave a whole new meaning to the term pissed off, I can tell you, and the day they did that was the day I made up my mind to resign.

All of this has done me no favours at all. It seems to be a repeating pattern, where everything is fine for a while, and then it starts to go wrong. The resentment builds up and builds up, with me too afraid to speak out, until I quite literally explode and end up creating further problems for not just myself, but for everyone else as well. They are left wondering what it is about, and why I didn't say anything, and so am I. I end up writing angry letters which get just get people's backs up, and ultimately feeling forced to walk away. Of course this gives me the perfect excuse not to look at what lies behind all these problems - a lack of self worth and self esteem, and feeling that I do not deserve to be treated any better. I must feel this way, or why else would I put up with it? The truth is that I have been all these years, too afraid to speak up, and ask for what I need. This needs to stop and it will stop starting on Monday. I am no longer afraid, but am actually looking forward to the challenge and opening up an honest dialogue with my Manager and if necessary his own bosses, to see what can be done to work out some solutions and find some common ground. It is not about doing this for others, but about doing this for myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment