back to article HR botches redundancy so chap scores year-long paid holiday

What's that it says on the calendar? It's Friday! Yoinks! That means it must be time for On-Call, our end-of-week stroll through readers' memories of odd office occurrences. This week, meet “Anj”, a reader whose Christmas was once ruined when, on December 1st, he and his colleagues were told their department at a broadcasting …

Re: January 1st?

The real question is: when has anyone in HR ever worked <snip> ?

The fixed it for ya ;)

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Re: January 1st?

When I was a student in the 80s I had a holiday job taking surveys in sports clubs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, "hangover cure" was frequent reason for using the facilities in the morning.

Lovely friendly people as I recall.

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IT Angle

Re: January 1st?

Around 2004 I was paid triple-time for working on the first of January to help clear a huge backlog. There's no IT angle to that tale though.

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Silver badge

Two questions

Is he still there?

If so, are there any other jobs there?

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The Real Ale Defence

I'm not sure this method is replicable, but...

I once worked for a part of a large company UK that was "restructuring". A goodly number of us IT bods were facing the chop. For various reasons our head of IT worked in the New York branch and she was flown over to select the victims. We were asked who wanted to see her first - cue deadly hush - so I volunteered.

On arrival she was whisked away into a meeting, which overran, so she sent me a message saying we could postpone, have our chat in the office after the meeting, or meet in the pub afterwards. Well, duh. My boss happens to be a fan of real ale, so after a couple of pints, my job was saved. Those who hesitated meeting her had to face the music next day when jetlag and a mild hangover had set in. My line manager was one of those chopped, thereby leaving a vacancy, which I was promoted to fill. I've been fond of Old Speckled Hen* ever since ;-)

* a decent real ale for those of you who haven't heard of it.

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Re: The Real Ale Defence

That is depressing on so many levels.

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Happy

Re: The Real Ale Defence

I've been fond of Old Speckled Hen* ever since

When I read your "*" I was rather disappointed to find that this wasn't your fond nickname for your New York based head of IT, however good it might be as an ale.

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Re: The Real Ale Defence

"* a decent real ale for those of you who haven't heard of it."

Better than any american pish, but 'decent' shows rather low standards.

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Re: The Real Ale Defence

I like fosters...

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Pint

Re: The Real Ale Defence

I also like Fosters, but can't get it draught here in Alberta (I have seen it in Medicine Hat once apparently on draught but the hotel bar had done last call so I was bang out of luck).

Over a period of one year & two trips back to Blighty I found that every draught lager had severely lost it's head & tasted flat\watery compared to my earlier visit. It had improved a little on my last trip in 2014.

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Re: The Real Ale Defence

Don't disparage American beers until you had some. I'm not talking the cheap crap like Bud or Coors. Real beer from the PNW. Nortwest IPA's, Stouts, Ales, etc.

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Re: The Real Ale Defence

Real beer from the PNW...IPA's, Stouts, Ales etc

You mean fairly straightforward copies of our Old World stuff that we've done properly for more time than you've been a country? I'm sure it's very nice, but I'm equally sure there's proper local craft brewing that Blighty doesn't do - interesting things with Tatnung hops, for example?

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Re: The Real Ale Defence

US ales all taste very bitter and metallic to me. Unfinished.

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Pint

Re: The Real Ale Defence

Had a spruce ale at a micro brewery in Alaska once upon a time. Quite nice. The spruce provided the bittering and aromatics instead of hops.

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Lost in the system

Friend of mine used to work for a company that did civil engineering type stuff supporting British Rail (as was). One day while he was out on a job, quite by chance he noticed an old signal box on a long abandoned stretch of track had smoke coming from the chimney. Out of curiosity he parked up and walked down the where the railways lines used to run (tracks had long since been removed).

He was staggered to come across a beautifully maintained signal box, immaculately painted, hanging baskets festooned with flowers. It was like something out of an 1950s movie.

He soon found a somewhat mature guy, perfectly turned out in full BR uniform. The conversation went along the lines of:

Engineer: Who are you?

Bloke in uniform: I'm the signalman. This is my signalbox.

Engineer: Eh? There hasn't been a train down here for about 15 years. Christ, there hasn't even been any track for the last 10!

Block in uniform: Yes...10 years would be about right. I remember when they started dismantling was around the time of my silver wedding anniversary, and that was 10 years ago.

Engineer: But!?!? How the hell can you be working as a signalman when there's no trains and no track?!?

Block in uniform: Yes, I did think it was a bit odd when they started dismantling, but who am I to argue with what the railway management choose to do?

Some people, it seems, can just get lost in the system. And some of them just seem to drift on regardless.

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Re: Lost in the system

I think it may be the reason for Earth's continued existence.

One day some God/super intelligent aliens are going to turn up and say "Didn't we turn this one off when it got infested with those giant lizards?" "How the hell is it still running?"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lost in the system

Leslie Thomas's novel "Orange Wednesday" is about a soldier who was the nominal occupation force representative in a small German town after the war. It turns into a cushy number for several years as his superiors forget all about him - but the system keeps him paid and supplied.

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Pint

Re: Lost in the system

In the recent reprints it was renamed "Meerkat Movies" and the price doubled.

Beer o clock. Time to go home!

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Coat

Re: Lost in the system

"Some people, it seems, can just get lost in the system. And some of them just seem to drift on regardless."

Might be a small probability of another Oliver Heaviside or perhaps a skunk works operating system emerging from such organisational tomfoolery given the access to information we have these days. One hopes.

Coat: its a nice evening.

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I had about a year "off" once. My company at the time was considering merging various IT Departments and the chances were that my support team was to be swallowed up by a larger IT function. Whilst they worked it all out they cancelled all projects and implemented a change freeze (barring regulatory or critical changes). As a result myself and my colleagues in server support had nowt to do for almost a year. Our systems were good and stable and when you are not making changes things tend to stay that way.

That year our days consisted of long breakfasts, long lunches and several long breaks during each day to play various multiplayer PSP games - Worms was the game of choice IIRC. We rota'd someone to make sure the team looked like it was in full flight - handling shared mailboxes and incident queues etc. It was a lovely year.

Once we were swallowed up by the larger organisation I took the opportunity to immediately jump ship to a new team and a new office closer to home. Perfect.

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Re: Year Off

Same with me. I was contracting for an oil company which shall remain nameless (but they sold Petroleum which was British) who outsourced their Downstream IT teams to Oracle ('downstream' refers to anything to do with the oil once it leaves the wellhead).

I was originally slated to go to Oracle until someone in a meeting asked "So who will support our legacy tools?", and I had my transfer revoked.

As it happened, nobody ever needed support for the legacy tools, many of which were quickly replaced with new apps from Oracle, and I spent the next year in a fully equipped IT centre (120 desks each with a PC and a telephone), on my own, doing support work and small projects for outside companies and continuing to be paid by, well, lets call them BP. Halfway through the year, the guy who was nominally my manager took me to the pub for lunch so we could negotiate my contract rate, and I spent the next 6 months doing very little at rate + 30%.

Eventually I was incorporated into the COE team, which was made up primarily of DOS and UNIX coders with a smattering of server engineers, where I continued with my side projects for the very good reason that my colleagues had no idea what I did or who I did it for.

Ah, happy days.

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Silver badge

I got paid double time for an hour that didn't exist.

We had to get a machine out to Hanover Fair, so we came in to the factory on Saturday morning to finish it. (I was coding the EPROMS that actually drove it). Sunday morning we'd finished all we could in that time, and it was packed and shipped.

To thank us, they paid us all double time for the hours worked, specifically including the hour skipped when the clocks went forward.

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HR works its own brand of magic again

"To thank us, they paid us all double time for the hours worked, specifically including the hour skipped when the clocks went forward."

HR managed to do the reverse of that once.

I was a subcontractor on this one:

The project was a server upgrade for a customer during an Easter weekend plant shut down, and the agreed pay was x per day for 7 days straight, to include customer training after the upgrade.

HR somehow got involved and insisted that we'd want Good Friday through to Easter Monday as an unpaid holiday.

I politely said "No thanks".

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Anonymous Coward

Accessing confidential data ...

Back in 2000-2003 I was with a smallish software house which went from 10 employees to 150 in a year (you can guess where it is now).

As 2001 hit, and income dried up, the "management" used to have monthly rounds of redundancies (great for morale). I always knew when they were coming, since I would notice a cabal of directors noting "offsite meeting" in Outlook (they hadn't worked out to set it to private).

They also stored documents on public shared drives. One of the more interesting ones was a briefing to very senior staff that the police would no longer attend when the alarm went of, as they were fed up of false alarms. There was also a fascinating discussion about fitting covert CCTV to the door entry system, as there had been a spate of insider thefts (wasn't me).

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Facepalm

Wrong retirement

I worked in HR with someone who processed an Age Retirement as a Voluntary Retirement. Probably overpaid by $100k. Retiree bought a house and was never persued - colleague was promoted.

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Re: Wrong retirement

I worked in HR ....

No you didn't. You may have been employed in HR, but that's different.

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I had the summer off once

They put about 20 of us "at risk" in the early noughties. That meant we were supposed to come to the office, but didn't have to do any work and were allowed time out for interviews etc. Due to a clause in my contract my place of employment was listed as my home, so I showed up in my lounge every day for 6 weeks.

Then I went in for my exit interview/form-signing/here's-your-payoff-meeting to be told that someone had resigned last night and they could keep one person and they wanted to keep me and move me to a proper software development role to fill the role that was now vacant. I said that all the jobs I'd been looking at were paying more than I was on. They said to give them a week and they'd get me an offer.

At the end of the week they came back with a £5k pay increase and told me to report back in in another week. All told I had about 2 months off on full pay, and then went back to a higher salary and a more interesting job.

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It wasn't me, unfortunately

In the early '90s I was included in a group who were getting the brown envelopes. Redundant on December 31st.

The generous financial package varied depending on years served with a big jump at the 10 year mark. Which at the time was probably giving a total of more than a years salary tax free.

One colleague was asked "Could you come back in February to give the training course scheduled then?". "Only if you defer redundancy until after the course." was the reply, and agreed to.

Total service went from 9 years 11 months to 10 years 1 month.

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Pint

Re: It wasn't me, unfortunately

Would be nice to think this was done due to them being close to the 10 year cut off and HR was playing fair.

HR1: Poor Bob only 1 month short of 10 years.

HR2: Well we need someone to give that training course in 2 months, lets give that to Bob and make him reduntant after

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Re: It wasn't me, unfortunately

An HR department that can do such complicated higher mathematics?

Not in my experience

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It wasn't me, unfortunately

Sounds like someone did him a solid; i suspect the requestor knew who to ask and when to schedule the training.

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Forgotten Employee

I was working in Minneapolis for a MLS (real estate listings) vendor in the mid-90s while my wife went to graduate school there. Upon her graduation, she got a job in Chicago. Our largest client was in Chicago and we had a 6-person office there to service them, so I asked around and got assigned there for what was supposed to be 90 days to oversee the beta test of our very first client-server application. I was planning on using that time to look for a new job and resigning once the test was done.

But here's the fun part. While I was given an office in Chicago, I still nominally reported to my existing boss for HR purposes, and actually reported to the lead software developer (also in Minnesota) for the duration of the test. While the test was underway, the head of the Chicago office left. The new Chicago lead was told I was reporting to Minneapolis and, since I wasn't on his budget, I became effectively invisible to him. Then my nominal supervisor quit and since there was a temporary hiring freeze, they didn't immediately replace her and HR apparently forgot to assign me to anyone else. So once I wrapped things up on the beta test, I had an office in Chicago and a paycheck, but no job duties and no one to report to.

Meanwhile, I had decided to go to graduate school that autumn which was 6 months away. There wasn't much point in looking for a new job for that short of a time period, so I decided to keep my mouth shut and see how long it would take them to sack me.

They never did. For 6 months, the only actual work I did was helping out the local support desk guy a couple of times a week with questions he couldn't answer. Other than that it was drive in, surf the internet for a few hours, have a long lunch, surf some more and go home. I did a lot of posting on usenet and listservs so I at least sounded busy. To be honest, it got a bit tedious. But I was afraid that if I volunteered to help out the local staff, someone would start asking why I had so much free time.

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Fenton

A consulting gig. There on behalf of the software vendor as an insurance policy 3 months before go-live.

The entire project was staffed by contractors, with two different consulting organizations "Managing" the project.

I sat on my arse of 3 months (having been sold in at a principle rate even though I was only a senior consultant). Only got asked 4 questions in the whole period. The questions where remedial and answered within seconds.

Spent my whole time day trading, came out £30K up (just before the bubble burst in 1999), got paid over time for the weekends when as they still wanted me there.

Paid for the deposit on my house.

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Anonymous Coward

I was working for a company who made me redundant, they however continued paying me. After contacting them continuously for three months and still it kept happening, I took a life of leisure and took the money while enjoying my life.

Eventually after about 9 months, I got really bored and got myself a new job. Funnily enough, once I started getting paid in my new job, my old job stopped paying me...

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Silver badge

Myself and three mates were forgotten about....

...for a whole year almost. We sat in our office just eating, reading newspapers, long lunches and browsing the web.

We'd been in a re-organisation and given over to a new manager. They never bothered to come in and see us.

Thing is that manager was just in the office next door, 6 feet away. We just waited for the next re-org...

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Re: Myself and three mates were forgotten about....

I think I worked there too!

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Silver badge

I spent nearly three months playing croquet on the grass outside or sailing RC boats in the ornamental pond due to lack of work and impending end of the company. They didn't forget to stop paying us at the end though, but I think the few who were kept on to finish a few things got pretty good retention bonuses.

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Anonymous Coward

This friend of mine......

Went on sick leave full pay, they forgot about him. He was off almost 3 months, full pay. He came back and slipped back into his job. They never detected the leave. I took loads of single days off without debit from leave. HR are a piece of piss.

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Anonymous Coward

If you think that's bad...

Back in the day, Motorola (remember them?) had a sliding scale on severance packages - the longer one was with the company, the more weeks of pay one got per year of service.

I had it from several very reliable sources that the following happened.

An engineer for a certain push-to-talk tech division was told their services were no longer needed. As the engineer had been on the job forever and a day, they received slightly more than a year of severance.

The engineer spent a good portion of the year taking it easy - kind of treating it all like a long vacation.

Right around the time the severance was due to run out, and the engineer was starting to put together a resume to find a new job, there was a need in the division they'd left for someone with the skills the engineer had.

So they hired the engineer back, having just paid for them to sit out a year.

Needless to say, but it was very shortly after this that the sliding scale for severance was removed, and severance packages were capped at a certain number of weeks.

(anon, as I still have some dotted line connections into what's left of that place)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you think that's bad...

"Needless to say, but it was very shortly after this that the sliding scale for severance was removed, and severance packages were capped at a certain number of weeks."

The voluntary redundancy I stuck my hand up for in the 1980s paid 1 month per full year's service. It was quite a young company so anyone except directors and senior management were there for less than 7-10 years, and no need for a cap.

What they had forgotten about was a couple of companies they had taken over. A couple of ladies had 20+ years of service and that was protected by the UK form of TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment)

Yes, the offer in the next round of redundancies was definitely capped.

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Anonymous Coward

Voluntary Redundancy

A friend of mine had a senior poition after a long career at a bank.

His boss had delegated everything to my friend while the boss was away.

Then the voluntary redundancy requests came.. my friend decided to take it and authorized it as himself with the delegated power.

I think the package covered him til retirement.

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Many retards believe that.

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Anonymous Coward

I left a job in 2000 and had accrued about 20 days holidays, for which I was to be paid.

I realised that if the 20 days were all paid in a single pay packet I'd pay astronomical tax, so I asked for the holiday pay to be spread equally over the next 3 months.

HR agreed, but they also accidentally continued to pay me a salary for those 3 months.

I left it in a savings avccount for about a year before spending it, certain the mistake would be discovered, but it wasn't.

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