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Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Taking the rise part two

After everything that has happened at work these past six months, I didn't think there was much that would surprise me, but how wrong I was. Just as I thought things were beginning to settle down - wham, the universe has dealt me another blow.

This time it is concerning my wages and changes to the amount of hours I am paid that I was not informed about. At my old store I worked four full days a week from 9am to 5.30pm with up until the last month, an hours unpaid lunch break. This equated to a 7 1/2 hour day or a 30 hour week. Since I was paid for 32 hours and we were asked to be in for 8.45am each morning for a team briefing, I always believed that the extra 2 hours (1/2 hour per day) were for 15 minutes before and after closing.

During the last month at that store, when things got really bad with our staffing problems and we were forced to close for lunch, my Manager informed me that he had been over paying me for months, and that from now on I would get just half an hour for lunch. He insisted that I was wrong in believing that we were paid for those extra 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day. Like the fool I was, and being thoroughly worn down by everything that happened, I rolled over and accepted this situation and now it looks like it was returned to bite me on the bum.

When I transferred to the new store, I understood that my hours and the way in which I was paid would not change. When I was paid at the end of last week, I noticed that they had paid me for just 30 hours a week from the date of my transfer. I had to wait for almost a week to query this, since I had the weekend off and my Manager was not in yesterday.

She informed me that my old Manager had told her that at his store we were paid until 6pm, whereas at the new store we are only paid until 5.30 and that she had asked him to make sure I was aware of this. He did not. To add to my confusion, when I commented to my new Assistant Manager the other day about being out late, he informed me that we are paid until 5.45, technically 6pm! I am being told different things by different people, and to be quite honest, don't know what to think.

These missing 2 hours are not the only issue concerning my pay, since I was also told, or led to believe, that I would get a second pay rise, once the minimum wage increased on 1st October. This has not been forthcoming. When I queried this I was told the reason I did not get it was because I had not had another review. The reason I didn't have that was because the store I worked in was closing. At the time none of us knew what our future would be, and whether we would be staying with the company or not, so there seemed little point. Because of this I have lost out yet again, and basically been conned out of an extra 17 pence an hour and the 3 percent pay rise I was awarded.

My wages did go up by 3 percent in August, but this increase turned out to be pretty meaningless, since the minimum wage increased to the same level just 2 months later, meaning that I would have got that rise anyway regardless of all my hard work. You can see then why I feel so cheated and conned.

I spoke to my Manager again about this today and she assured me that she would find the time for us to sit down and have a proper talk, but it did not happen, so I have gone home with nothing having been resolved. What I should do is ring our Area Manager and have it out with him, since I don't see why I should be penalised for things beyond my control. It is not my fault if a) my store shuts and b) someone can't be bothered to inform me about changes to the way in which I am paid. I am not talking about a few pence here, but over £70 a month, which would make a considerable difference to my finances.

I know very little about employment law, but enough to know that before changes like this can be implemented you have to be consulted and agree to these changes. If I do nothing about this, then they can turn around and say that the fact I have done nothing means that I have accepted these changes, when I do not. I will not though ring the Area Manager until after I have spoken to the HR Department at Head Office, as it hinges on exactly what hours we are paid for, and whether I am right in thinking we are paid for those extra 15 minutes before and after the doors close. If we are then they have to start paying me for those hours, and owe me 12 hours wages which were wrongly deducted.

If I am right then I have a good mind to also press for the 10 hours I consider I am owed for those shortened lunch breaks during the last 5 weeks at my old store.

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