back to article Laid-off IT workers: You want free on-demand service for what now?

Some HR person at Atlanta's SunTrust Banks has come up with what they genuinely believe is a clever idea – after dumping 100 of its IT staff, the billion-dollar financial institution is requiring them to remain available to help out for free for two years. You can see how this makes sense; we’ve all had co-workers leave and …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    You've missed one out: the bank's customer data going walkabout.

    If you had the choice of being a customer or an ex-customer which would you choose?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Facepalm

      Now that one everyone would blame on the Indian outsourcers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The bigger question is how is this legal?

      The bigger question is how is this legal? No employer should be able to make this request.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: bank's customer data going walkabout.

      They bought out one of my credit card holders one. Happily I have been an ex-customer for about 10 years now. Very, very happily.

  2. Ye Gads

    You can just see how this will go

    Anyone who is any good (lets call them "Bob") will tell them to get stuffed and get another job pretty quickly.

    The remainder of people will fall back on one or more of the following:

    1) I didn't work on that part of the system

    2) Bob wrote that, I'm not sure how it works

    3) That code was written after I left

    4) That's not my code

    5) I wrote that but it's since been updated by the outsourcers.

    6) That's a feature.

    7) Yes, I can look at the problem. I can give you a day in three weeks time

    1. Lysenko

      Re: You can just see how this will go

      If you read the full text of the clause it entirely hinges on the definition of the word "assist". You can make a pretty strong argument that responses like: "Yes, I agree, that IS a pretty nasty problem." constitute assistance. You are using expert knowledge to validate a proposition.

      HR ... once you use the word "resource", then "exploit" is never far behind. Just change the name to "Livestock Management" and have done with it!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You can just see how this will go

        HR ... once you use the word "resource", then "exploit" is never far behind. Just change the name to "Livestock Management" and have done with it!

        -I believe they explored this option in Dilbert once.. the problem was that workers could then demand hay...

    2. We're with Steve

      Re: You can just see how this will go

      Never ever trust an IT professional who you have previously shafted.

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/11/22/hp_porn_row/

      1. Tom 13

        @We're with Steve

        I think this pretty much covers it all:

        http://www.ovff.org/pegasus/songs/threes-rev-11.html

        Roomie has a copy of this on tape and I laugh and shake my head every time we play it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lets call them "Bob"

      Years ago I was called in to run a weeks training class for a team of programmers about a language they'd not used much. Over lunch I got talking to them about why. Well "Bob" wrote this program and now we need to support it. Now I happened to know this particular "Bob" and so I was surprised that there wasn't excellent documentation to go with excellent code ("Bob" was in the sub category of programmers who if they'd written the flight control SW you'd be happy to fly on the plane) so I asked about the documentation, "Well yes" said the customer, "there is documentation and yes we can see that it is very good" well you know "Bob" even given the documentation we still don't understand it and how he just made everything work.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: lets call them "Bob"

        I know how this one works. Management quite often confuses programming with writing code because lines of source code are the only tangible product. Unfortunately, as we all know, the real skill is in knowing what to do and how to go about doing it. This knowledge is often a lifetime's worth of experience and quite apart from it being valuable intellectual property -- you're paid to write code, after all -- its rather difficult to transfer it to someone overnight even if you wanted to.

        (BTW -- I work with embedded code so you not only need to know how the software systems work but how they interact with the physical and logical environment that drives the code.)

  3. DrXym Silver badge

    "I've forgotten how to do that"

    That's what I'd say. Once I'm off a project for a while I don't bother hanging onto most of that information any more. And if it were my previous employers (those dicks who just replaced me with offshore workers) then I wouldn't exactly tax myself to remember either.

    1. Philip Storry

      Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

      Before you leave, send an email to ask if you can take copies of all the {documentation|source code} with you, to help fulfil this requirement.

      We all have a good idea what the answer will be.

      If they call, then remind them that you asked for the resources you'd need to assist - and they declined to provide them. As such, you're working somewhat blind and feel it would be unprofessional to take such a significant risk with a live system. You're happy to help, but feel they need to be reminded - in writing - of the significant risk that this represents.

      Of course, if they want to send over the latest {documentation|source code}, you'll happily read it to get yourself back up to speed, and then assist.

      Oh, and when you've got that {documentation|source code}, don't forget that all of this is at your current employer's agreement. I'm sure they'll schedule time appropriately - you'll probably get through it all in a month or so, maybe two - that's OK with SunTrust, right?

      Cue a few questions occasionally over the coming weeks to show that you're reading the {documentation|source code}... Some people might accuse you of delaying things by asking questions, but you're actually just ensuring you have a full understanding of the system. Very professional of you, and good mitigation of that risk.

      I reckon you could easily spend a full three or four calendar months doing that. The word "risk" is a magnificent motivator in a paper trail...

      Now, naturally, they'll probably decline this request for {documentation|source code} anyway when they call. But now you have a paper trail, established from before you left. You can remind them that any changes you make are naturally more of a risk than ones done by those done by the new owners of the system. Keep reminding them of this, in writing, before you make any change.

      Congratulations. You're now highly unlikely to be called more than once, and there's no way they can say you were unprofessional or unhelpful. After all, the paper trail shows that they were the ones being unhelpful...

      1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

        Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

        You're right that a paper trail is a great ally in this sort of mess

        Dominic (the bloke wot wrote the article)

      2. Fatman Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

        @Phillip Story,

        I like YOUR way of thinking!!!!!

        So have one on me.-------------------------------------------------------------->

      3. Elf
        Pint

        Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

        @Phillip Storry

        You are, of course, a genius. (Paper trail has saved my arse so many times in the past.) Another one for you. Figuring you can kick back and collect these for the rest of the day ----->

      4. 404 Silver badge

        Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

        I have email going back to 1996 - I believe in documentation and I'm not afraid to shove it right up your ass.

        Have a great day!

        ;)

    2. CP/M-80

      Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

      Been there, done that. After my plum project was moved to a golf-playing buddy of the manager, and I grumbled and he said (on Monday) "if you don't like it, there are plenty of jobs out there". Thursday I put in my notice having got one of said jobs. That was sweet. But we had a 2-year release cycle (imagine that!) and we'd just done one so he was thoroughly unpleasant through my notice period. A month after I left they found so many errors in the data that the software was processing he had to 'phone me up to ask me to contract to help them out. "Sorry, I've forgotten it all already".

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

        Some number of years ago a former boss rang me up asking for advise on some problems on their systems. Now, my departure had been less than friendly from this particular job. So I gave some non-commital, IT-sales-speak answer, then sent him a bill for 2-hours consultation time. Never heard back from him ever again. Didn't get paid either, but the point was made (and I got a chance to practice being an IT Consulting Sales Droid).

    3. hititzombisi

      Re: "I've forgotten how to do that"

      "Such assistance may include, but is not limited to, telephone or in-person meetings with SunTrust employees, attorneys and/or accountants, or the provision of truthful testimony by way of deposition, hearing, trial, interview, subpoena response or affidavit. SunTrust will be responsible for any reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by me and approved by SunTrust in connection with such services."

      Actual severance clause.

      The bastards are actually asking you to come over, sit in front of a computer, fix the problem, for free. They will pay for the expense, but not time.

      1. david 12 Bronze badge

        Expenses=wages

        "SunTrust employees, attorneys and/or accountants, or the provision of truthful testimony by way of deposition, hearing, trial, interview, subpoena response or affidavit. SunTrust will be responsible for any reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by me"

        "expenses for the provision of truthful testimony" normally includes payment for time.

        Which is what most of "costs" go to when a court awards you "costs". The "costs" include the reasonable and necessary expense of paying the empolyees, attorneys and/or accountants to mount your case.

        Of course you can't compel people to help you with your court cases, so it's a resonable kind of thing to put in your severance agreement.

  4. Wommit
    WTF?

    BUT!!! WTF!!!!!!!!! How can...

    Words fail me. Its not April fools day is it?

    Surely this cannot be legal? If I was their IT manager I wouldn't dare ask any one of them to come back in, not ever.

    Seriously whose fucking idiot idea was this. Fire the twat as soon as possible. You DO NOT WANT those people to come back in after treating them this badly.

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
      FAIL

      You know, this seems too idiotic to be accidental. Even if the clause is never acted upon, it demonstrates a level of anti-clue so profoundly horrifying that I for one would view that bank as a terrible organisation to be looking after my money. I would therefore start looking to see if some of the HR of SunTrust have been bribed by SunTrust's competition to put this clause in as a form of economic sabotage.

      1. HmmmYes Silver badge

        Too idiotic to be accidental. True.

        Too idiotic to come from the HR/legal depts? Nah.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > ...I would therefore start looking to see if some of the HR of SunTrust have been bribed by SunTrust's competition to put this clause in as a form of economic sabotage.

        I have often suggested that this is the precise scenario to explain the vast majority of executive decisions at IBM. I mean really, I know MBAs are chronically stupid, but they go beyond even the stupidity level of our modern-day MBAs.

        AC because, well, obviously.

    2. Keith Langmead

      Especially idiotic when you consider how common garden leave seems to be within IT these days, especially for people like SysAdmins, regardless of whether it's an acrimonious split or not.

      1. Raoul Miller

        Garden leave is not an option in the US - I have only heard of it in the UK.

        Yes, companies here expect sysadmins, developers, etc. to continue to work on stuff until 5:55pm on their last day. You can imagine the high quality of such work.

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      It's one thing to insist on "assistance"... it's quite another to force one to do it for "free". I can't believe that this didn't get waved at the lawyers. Sorry, unless your severance includes a check for assistance for the next 10 years... fuck off.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Don't skip over the basics..

      You DO NOT WANT those people to come back in after treating them this badly.

      You do not want to end up in a situation where you have to treat people this badly in the first place. This whole idea of training the people who are about to take your job can only have come from someone who is so far removed from human beings that an hour's worth of education with a 4 by 4 should be mandatory.

    5. Tom 13

      Re Surely this cannot be legal?

      As part of the termination, it's not.

      As part of the deal to get your severance package... Yeah, you can get seriously fucked over with regard to your legal rights in the US. When I was RIFed from my last job they offered a weeks pay per year worked with the company. At twelve years and as it was right after the economic collapse on this side of the pond, I had to take it. As part of the deal I agreed that they were harmless for any discrimination or fair pay suits I might otherwise have been able to lodge against them. I could have refused those terms and gotten the standard two weeks severance pay.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paging William Wilberforce...

  6. Tony S

    I saw the article on this a couple of days ago and also some fairly angry responses from people (that might or not might not have actually worked there). It seems likely that that there's a lot of disaffected staff and if I were anyone in the C-Level at SunTrust, I'd be getting very worried indeed.

    But I suspect that the whole affair really shows what a clueless bunch they actually are; I'm betting that they think that they have been exceptionally clever and are already thinking about how they will be spending their next bonuses. If I were a shareholder, I'd be dumping their stock pronto; when it goes titsup, it will be messy.

    1. Tom 13

      @Tony S

      Sadly Sun Trust is one of those megabanks that have been deemed Too Big To Fail by the US government. So they won't ever actually go titsup. But still solid advice for the pro-active investor. You might be guaranteed some level of return, but you can probably do better elsewhere.

  7. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Coat

    I'm not one to speculate on NYSE

    ... because that's too much trouble for tax and compliance reasons.

    However, no responsible financial would let go IT staff with such a bad deal, if they were not desperate to cut costs now. Which I implies that either 1) some bad news are on the way or 2) they are irresponsible kind of financial institution. The latter implies that there might, or might not, be some some skeletons hidden in the closet. Either way their share price is about to be dented.

  8. 45RPM Silver badge

    Yeah. Thing is that Programmers are way worse than operators. You know the Iron Maiden cover with Eddie controlling Satan controlling Man? Well the BOFH is Satan. The Programmers are Eddie. BOFH can make your life miserable for a period of time. A programmer with a grudge can make you wish you’d never been born.

    Don’t piss off the programmers. ’t’ain’t worth it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That would be Crazy Eddie.

      1. David Lewis 2

        +1 for the MIGE reference!

      2. Midnight

        "Say there's a city that's gotten so big that all efforts of everyone have to be directed towards importing food and sanitation. There are no resources left for anything else, and all man hours are required to keep the city alive. Crazy Eddie chooses this moment to lead a strike of garbage workers, demanding better working conditions.

        "Now say that there's a company which has lost so much money that it can no longer pay its IT staff..."

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Severance - I sense a ploy

    Presumably, if these programmers don't take the severance benefits and, in effect, resign, this would save the bank a lot of money?

    Anon, because it's a sodding work issue.

    1. jonathan keith

      Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

      I don't know what the law in the US is, but surely there's some protection against constructive dismissal (as it's known here in the UK)

      1. PatientOne

        Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

        Would be contract law: Pretty sure you can't impose conditions when *you* terminate a contract. It's your decision to do so, and it is the other party who can invoke conditions that were in place at the time they signed the contract (or were agreed to as an amendment). Conditions for terminating a contract outside of an agreed process might be levied but that's about it as far as I can recall - but I'm not a lawyer etc.

        Telling someone they either agree to new terms or they are resigning is very much constructive dismissal (I know companies that have done this and it was declared illegal at tribunal and appeals court - the company had to pay redundancy rates as per contracts as a result. Once company never did pay, though - Finance director did a runner with the money, leaving a lot of very unhappy former staff).

        1. NotBob

          Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

          In essence, the bank is saying

          "Your job will end no matter what on or about this date. We will pay you $XX in severence, but only if you agree to bleat when we want you to..."

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

            bleat

            More like "Squeal, piggy! Squeal!"

        2. Tom 13

          Re: Pretty sure you can't impose conditions

          See my reply above.

          The conditions are nominally voluntary. The minimal offer meets the contractual terms from when they were hired. But, they'll give you more if you accept these additional terms. And the minimal offer from when you were hired are so bad you pretty much HAVE to agree to the terms. And as another poster noted above, if you take the minimal offer, they win by not paying out more money.

      2. pollyanna

        Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

        > I don't know what the law in the US is, but surely there's some protection against constructive dismissal (as it's known here in the UK)

        Alas, in the US there are 'at will' States; employment contracts are at the will of the employer. If they want rid of you, they don't have the will to employ you and you're gone. There is no such thing as constructive dismissal.

        The only recourse is if a Federal discrimination law has been broken; e.g. fired because you're black, disabled etc.

        A few States are with cause (similar to the UK, a reason is required but they can be pretty trivial and you have no recourse).

        1. Number6

          Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

          On the other side of that, as an at-will employee, you're quite at liberty to walk into HR and hand them a letter saying "I quit" and pretty much walk out. No notice works both ways and your average US tech business suffers for it with the knowledge that walks out the door without a proper handover period.

          1. Tom 13

            @Number6

            Yes and no.

            IIRC law usually says two weeks notice. Employers normally translate that to: don't let the door hit you on the way out, here's two weeks pay. When you give notice if you don't permit them to keep you you forfeit that pay and get a black mark on your record vis-a-vie references (in the sense that all new employers ask about your former employer and will call them).

            As for proper handover periods, they mostly don't exist in the US. The standard management training classes tell you that regardless of whether you are firing or they are quitting, you walk them out the door the day notice is given and give them a check for two weeks. It is regarded as simply too much risk to the company for them to continue as an employee. Too much data to be pilfered, to many chances to sow the seeds of trouble down the road. Short-sighted or no thinking, but there it sits.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @Number6

              Interesting - I have lived and worked in the US for over 25 years and have changed jobs multiple times and been made redundant a couple of times. In one case I was paid severance, in the other the company was bankrupt and not only did we not get severance, our last pay check bounced, and we were not paid for accrued holiday or sick days.

              Every time I have given notice I have worked the complete period and never been walked out - and that includes working fro major, brand name tech companies. I've been happy in my consulting job for the past 5 years, so maybe things have changed since 2010?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Severance - I sense a ploy

        Nope - "at will employment".

        You can leave or be sacked for any reason at any time. Severance is usually only given as a favor (with strings like this), although there are some state and federal laws that require severance in the case where large numbers of people are getting "downsized" or sacked at once.

        Capitalism, bitches.

  10. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Quite a daft idea. In fact, it ranks first before Waterloo and Germany's invasion of Russia, and the experiment at Chernobyl (prior to meltdown).

    Whose idea was it anyway? Epic rolleyes.

    Now that the cat is out of the bag/horse has bolted/beans have been spilt, all they can do now is to acquire a new IT team, but that will be next to impossible since nobody will touch them with a barge pole.

    Any investors or people having their savings invested in this bank must take note and withdraw it all lest their savings goes walkabouts, because walkabouts it will go.

    The road forward will be very interesting.

    1. nichomach
      Pirate

      Altho never thtarting a land war in Athia or going in aagainst a Thithilian when death ith on the line? (Icon for Dread Pirate, obvs.)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Train up their replacements

    I would also teach them that they will be shafted in their turn.

    If malicious I might also omit to tell them some crucial detail of something that happens occasionally - like what happens on leap days, or a cold start after power failure.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Train up their replacements

      I would train up my replacement.

      In 12 or 13 years, not before.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Train up their replacements

      I once created and recruited a team in India, and although they weren't going to be replacing me, I had already decided to to leave the company for other reasons.

      They were a really nice group of guys and I spent several enjoyable weeks in India training them up on all the systems, and giving them the benefit of my experience and expertise. On my last day with the company they sent me a card, thanking me for all the training.

      3 months later I went out with some of my former collegue, and was told the news that about 2 weeks after I left, the team in India had walked into their bosses office, and demanded $10000 year increase in salary or they would leave because "they had been trained up by an expert", My thought was good on you guys stick it back to the company.

      1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

        Re: Train up their replacements

        Sweet

        (Dominic who wrote the article)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Train up their replacements

      "If malicious I might also omit to tell them some crucial detail of something that happens occasionally - like what happens on leap days, or a cold start after power failure."

      Exactly. In fact, departing wronged programmers may "accidentally" even introduce bugs for such events.

      But so much more lucrative to walk off with as much of the bank's data as you can - such as customer info you can sell to russian/korean hackers.

    4. Sooty

      Re: Train up their replacements

      I was speaking to someone the other day about this, as I know a team who was made redundant but had to train up their Indian replacements before hand.

      They just trained their replacements to do it all wrong before laughing their way out the door.

  12. Thoguht Silver badge

    They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

    Read the original Computerworld article, then read SunTrust's response. It's a standard "continuing cooperation" clause designed to ensure that former employees can be called on primarily in relation to legal issues that they were involved in during their employment. There's no suggestion that you could call people back for weeks to work unpaid on something, which would be flat-out illegal from all sorts of perspectives.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

      Go one step further & read Computerworld's linked article analysing it. They compare it with an earlier severance clause used by the bank and there are some differences. The earlier clause is much more restrictive on the circumstances in which it can be invoked. The intention may have been similar and the differences due to some casual editing by HR. However it's the agreement as it actually exists that matters and everyone in tech should have learned to pay attention to what a document doesn't say.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

        "FAVORITE redtop with no page 3 .... please!"

        1. LucreLout Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

          "FAVORITE redtop with no page 3 .... please!"

          Seriously AC, how could you not have noticed that this place is full of tits!

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

          favoUrite

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

      That doesn't change the fact that if you have any sort of risk management at all you do not "rightsize" people out of a job (particularly via offshoring) and expect anything other than malicious obstruction at any and every opportunity. That's why some organisations have security escort rightsizees directly to the door. The only sane clause would be one that either:

      a) Requests agreement in principle to consider future contracted work at 200% of market rate (rather than 1000%)

      ...or:

      b) Demands that the ex refrain from offering any "helpful" advice, assistance, guidance or opinions whatsoever.

      Without proper bribery, toxic BOFH'ery is as predictable as the sunrise. I've worked on Bank code. The things I could do via a "memory lapse" are VERY expensive. It wouldn't get past code review of course, but if you think you need to call in people you've fired it is self evident you don't have people competent to code review either.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing...

      "They don't call El Reg a redtop for nothing..."

      I prefer the term 'Red-headed Stepchild' myself...

  13. joeldillon

    Surely it all depends on the financial terms of the severance deal, which we don't know. If the deal involved paying me $100,000 or something I'd be fine with something like this.

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      It could be a really generous severance, but I'm going to guess it's the bare minimum they think they can get away with.

    2. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      No, I't's still a bad move.

      In my article I pointed out that when I lost a few people they'd get paid *after* they got called in to do

      work.

      In other words its an incentive to actually turn up and do the job properly.

      If you look at any sort of business where they get the money up front, the level of service you get is rather less good than when we pay after we get it. Same with ITPros,

      1. keithpeter
        Coat

        Re: No, I't's still a bad move.

        "If you look at any sort of business where they get the money up front, the level of service you get is rather less good than when we pay after we get it. Same with ITPros,"

        @Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

        In my (non IT) business it is half before, half after depending on agreed criteria.

        When you are building houses, it is 'retention' type scenario: regular [weekly|monthly] payments based on sign-off by clerk of works.

        Both strategies depend on the capacity in the org to *evaluate* the quality of work. That is why I pay a Clerk of Works a percentage of the contract value when I let contracts. The point made by other (IT relevant posters) is that the necessity for this clause sort of suggests that the competence may not be available in the org.

        Coat: I find this fascinating but I'm not an IT professional so I'm out of here.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd probably be on holiday after being sacked

    They fire me, so I go on a long holiday. To places with no mobile phone coverage.

    Ohh bugger, did you try to ring me? Must've been in a dead spot.

    1. annodomini2

      Re: I'd probably be on holiday after being sacked

      And leave your phone there...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Reply

    I transferred that knowledge to the outsourcer and deleted my internal copy for reasons of confidentiality.

  16. Gideon 1

    Non story

    You can't make anyone work for free.

    1. Your alien overlord - fear me

      Re: Non story

      Severance package might include a retainer payment.

      1. Dixey

        Re: Non story

        The package might indeed contain a retainer fee. However, I think SunTrust's PR spokesman who commented on the original ComputerWorld article would have alluded to that, if it were the case. That is assuming that he is clever enough to think of doing that. However, when I consider the wording of the original severance package, I doubt that that is the case.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: might include a retainer

        Well sort of. If you don't sign the agreement you don't get the more generous severance proffer.

    2. Ben Liddicott

      Re: Non story

      You can't make anybody work, full stop. The court won't order specific performance except under very restricted circumstances, which don't include employment.

      However if you have *contracted* to work, you may have to pay actual damages if you then refuse to do so. This will certainly include repaying any additional element of severance pay you received, and may well be more.

    3. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Non story

      Work makes Free

      1. G.Y.

        Re: Non story

        sounds better in German

  17. PassiveSmoking

    How to save money in IT

    There's no secret to it.

    * Hire good people

    * Treat them like good people

    Do that and you'll have a happy department who operates well, is productive and will be prepared to go the extra mile for you when necessary (provided you don't abuse that trust, of course).

    A happy team that feels respected is a team that will be productive.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      What about HR?

      They seems to have cocked up big time

      Sack/Fire/K**l all those in HR who had even the most minor involvement with this!

      Sadly, they will just get promoted or move to higher paying jobs without a thought.

      HR == Highly Retarded , Hardly Relevant , Human Retards. etc etc etc

    2. keithpeter
      Coat

      Re: How to save money in IT

      "A happy team that feels respected is a team that will be productive."

      @Passive

      I have the honour to belong to such a team. It is a pleasure to work with our students to the extent that a recently retired colleague has come back as a volunteer to keep his brain active. But teaching is a recurring task - Eternal September &c, praxis makes perfect (in-joke in the profession, possibly UK specific).

      D. Connor himself up the screen mentions what appears from the outside to be a movie project staffed by freelancers. Do the gig, write the code, have the wrap party, leave the script with the PostIt notes in, and move onto the next project. That seems a viable way of working provided the compensation is commensurate.

      The OA is on about people hired to do a recurrent job being shafted to save costs. Not so good. Bad karma.

      1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

        Re: How to save money in IT

        As it happens, a couple of the guys went off to start a film FX biz, so the retainer was rather usefulto them.

        We all have to save costs, but the trick is to reduce the total spend, whereas what happened at SunTrust looks like moving it from one pocket to another.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: How to save money in IT

          "what happened at SunTrust looks like moving it from one pocket to another"

          And possibly the other has a hole in it.

  18. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Sounds like my severance deal a few years ago. I was the only one who knew a major system but was allowed to take VR so I did.

    Said brown stuff hit said rotational wind mover when the IT manager found out the HR manager let me go because 'I was just another IT guy'. Too late suckers, I'd signed the termination contract.

    Asked if I could go back and help, maybe freelance? They never called but I found out 2 guys were brought in to replace me and build a new system from scratch.

    Great cost saving there :-)

    1. Sporkinum

      Similar with me. Laid off as I was "just an IT guy". They found out what I really did and 2 months later called me back. Didn't even offer a raise. My new job is better in every way, and I also got a 10% raise. Took them 10 months to hire a replacement that I hear is having a rough time.

      1. websey

        same

        Come up to my 12 month probation period (upped from 6 as they fired the IT manager that hired me and they wanted to restart it) I was let go of as a cost saving effort.

        I had rebuilt the whole internal tool chain for the accounting department had about 2 weeks left before going live.

        All backend work was done. They let me go and put me on gardening leave. For 4 weeks which was nice chucked me 7k as a golden handshake. I turned to the then IT manager and said look I would be happy to come back in a few days a week when the system goes live. The manager thanked me but HR fella said no that won't be necessary. Less than 48 hours later asked if I could come back as a freelance I agreed for £700 a day + travel. They refused. But the IT manager said you offered to come back for £200 a day. I said I did but HR shot that one down

  19. James 51 Silver badge

    Treating the people with the keys to the kingdom as a doormat. Yes, this will end well.

  20. Mage Silver badge

    So ...

    Which other companies to Sun Trust run?

    So I can avoid any transaction that involves any of them. This is going to make RBS outsourcing (which ensued their system became more rubbish) look good.

    When are these sorts of companies (all financial, insurance, stock etc) going to realise that IT is their core and crown jewels, that none of it should ever be outsourced and the programmers treated better than executives and traders?

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: So ...

      @Mage

      When are these sorts of companies (all financial, insurance, stock etc) going to realise that IT is their core and crown jewels, that none of it should ever be outsourced and the programmers treated better than executives and traders?

      That day will never come.

      What will happen instead si that some new start up or a tech giant branching out into their market will one day eat their lunch, because they understand what they're doing.

      There is very little about banking that Apple, Google etc couldn't do and gain advantage from. Their payment systems are just the start - retail banking will be dead in 10 years. After that there's nothing to stop them issuing bonds direct to customers who choose to buy in, or selling equities directly through an integrated platform on their devices.

      Literally the only two areas of banking I can see withstanding that type of onslaught are the tax and M&A teams. And lest any bankers get upset by this, I work in banking, but what is coming is coming, so we may as well all deal with it.

      1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

        Re: So ...

        The day *has* come, as you'll see elsewhere on the Reg I chari our CTO round tables and in *most* firms it is seen either as the centre or at least at the centre.

        Some aren't and sadly our NDA with them prevents me sharing the names, but you can work it out by reading the financial pages for firems issuing profit warnings...

        However the big firms are finding it very very hard to innovate.

        Innovation doesn't just require tech clevernes (though you won't actually deliver without it), but a deep insight into how the firm works. That's business processes, knowing the limits of the existing core tech infrastrucutre and the jewels buried in its piles of data. *and what the customer will pay you for*

        You don't get that in your first week or first year, maybe you never get it.at all, but if you treat IT like mushrooms (in the dark, fed on ship and with a short life expectancy) you'll get Java front ends to Oracle and nothing else at all.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A contract is a contract.

    An contract is exactly that : an agreement between two (or more) parties agreeing to something under a given set of circumstances.

    If one of the parties terminates said contract for whatever reason in accordance to the provisions set forth in the agreement, the agreement is nullified. For nullification to occur, ALL provisions need to be adhered to.

    You CAN NOT void part of the contract (i.e. you come work here and we will pay you) but CONTINUE another part of the contract (clause x : after termination of this labour agreement you will continue to provide labour). In this case you would have to agree to a NEW contract.

    I consistently have customers trying to pull a fast one by adding all sorts of silly conditions to contracts requiring me to continue service after the contract has expired. I Always try to explain to them that this is impossible. They never believe me, but I suggest they contact their lawyers which usually leads to said silliness being dropped from the agreement.

    Case in point : your contract may state you have to sign a confidentiality agreement. Even after termination, the CA stays in place. Good luck to any employer trying to enforce a confidentiality clause as a paragraph in an employment contract that has been terminated.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A contract is a contract.

      Actually, contracts can be partially terminated.

      This is why nominated clauses can survive termination (under a so-called 'survival' clause).

      Nominated clauses typically include confidentiality clauses.

      However, not all confidentiality clauses are enforceable because they sometimes fail to meet other requirements (e.g. in some jurisdictions, might be so broadly drafted as to be invalid for restraint of trade).

      Bottom line: get legal advice and don't assume you can walk away.

    2. Number6

      Re: A contract is a contract.

      Confidentiality clauses are usually well-written and it is clear that they continue to apply for some definite period after termination of the rest of the contract. There's also the point that even if they tried and failed to sue you successfully for breaching the confidentiality clause, it would make all future employers very wary about trusting you. I've worked for employers with a reverse clause in there, requiring you not to bring confidential information from a previous employer with you.

  22. knarf

    It happened to me

    I got made redundant a few years ago from an Fin services company,I was told "We don't need a Developer anymore". I saw it coming for a long time and was the last of the 10 programmers since we got bought over. I was nice they were nice (mostly) I went through the wrung and was in a new job with 10% uplift within two weeks.

    I was fairly friendly with the IT support bod who was doing basic maintenance on my code after I left.

    I answered his first couple of queries and then figured out I was not an unpaid consultant.

    So from that moment on the only answer I ever gave was : "You don't need a Developer anymore, remember "

    1. Dixey

      Re: It happened to me

      I hope you suggested that what they now needed was a highly paid consultant!

  23. Joe Cooper

    I once had a client offer a _loan_ so that I could afford to work for free on the product after it was released.

    I blocked him.

  24. yoganmahew

    Great article...

    +1s etc. if I had social media thingy anyway.

    Oh and REXX is still great... I think they call it python now ;0)

  25. PatientOne

    Some (long) years back my contract as a developer was not renewed - not a surprise as new manager had decided not to renew any contracts.

    I left documentation of everything I'd done. All code was in the code repository. Everything was there for whoever wanted to look at the projects to see what had been done, how and why. And I made sure to do a proper handover of all this before I left.

    I got a call a few months later asking for me to go in and fix a problem. For free. I told them that everything they needed was in the documentation as I had already provided a 'fix' for the problem having surmised it would occur. They then told me they'd deleted the documentation and the code repository when I'd left. Oh, and they'd 'lost' the CD backups I'd done for them, too.

    Needless to say my answer, in short, was 'no'.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Needless to say my answer, in short, was 'no'."

      Bad answer. The correct answer is to name a price that will require authorisation well above the manager's limit so what he's done, and its consequences, will be visible further up the ladder. Only then, unless you're actually available for the gig, do you say 'no'.

      1. PatientOne

        @Doctor Syntax

        Think you missed some bits:

        a) They asked me to work for free - they were not prepared to pay me to do the work.

        b) the short answer was 'no' - that wasn't how I phrased it, of cause, but that's what I said in essence, in part because of a) and because of the time I estimated it would take.

        Basically, if they'd had the documentation and code there, I could have fixed it for them in under an hour (including travel), but was also prepared to talk them through it over the phone as what they wanted was essentially there - they just needed to follow the instructions I'd left them (basically a bit of cut and pasting was needed to update the code). Destorying that documentation meant it would have taken me quite a bit longer as I'd have to write the 'fix' from scratch and that ment relying on memory as to which bits needed changing meaning more testing and debugging meaning more time required.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          I didn't miss that. But in the circumstances I'd have told them that MyCo wouldn't work for free but they appear to qualify for one of MyCo's special rates, the Over-A-Barrel rate. And the length of time taken would be the length of time to make it worth while.

  26. Dixey

    IT guys are just too nice for the financial world!

    I wonder how much a bank would have to pay a financial consultant, accountant or lawyer for "advice" once they had left their employment?

    The kind of scenario that SunTrust refer to (i.e. "we may need to reach out to former employees to ensure we accurately understand situations in which they were involved while employed by the company") falls under consultation. Now, how much do you think it costs to consult a lawyer about an action they took for the company in the past?

    IT guys are just too nice for the financial world. IT is vital to the survival of pretty much every business. We wouldn't have highly paid CIOs if that were not the case. So we need to become just a little bit more demanding of our employers.

  27. wolfetone Silver badge

    Dell shafted the Irish like this, got them to train up the Polish and then sacked the Irish lot.

    If you put your faith in these big companies then you're going to have a bad time. There will always be someone who will do your job for less. Might not do it better than you, or as good, but when you're making more money then who the hell cares?

  28. Chris King Silver badge

    Did they say what kind of assistance people were supposed to provide ?

    If not, I would wish them a good day and hang up. Moral support counts as assistance, right ?

  29. aurizon

    We need to clear ths dust from the server room

    Yes, I can see what is wrong here, just a little dust is all, we need to blow it out.

    (puts down 25 kilos of gunpowder in the server room lights 1 hour fuse..).

    Now let us look at the cable entry in the cellar, it looks dusty as well, but not as dusty as the server room.

    (puts down 10 kilos of gunpowder, lights i hour fuse)

    That should clean out those areas very well.

    If you have any further problems, here is my name and number

    G Fawkes, 555-1212

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: We need to clear ths dust from the server room

      I was thinking diesel and ammonia nitrate. a few barrels. Not that hard to get in the US.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: We need to clear ths dust from the server room

        Pretty sure ammonium nitrate will now warrant an entry in the DHS database.

        These ain't those olden times anymore.

        1. Number6
          Coat

          Re: We need to clear ths dust from the server room

          It will no doubt also result a bit of police overtime visiting you just before dawn, paid at the copper nightrate.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We need to clear ths dust from the server room

            I've ordered food preservatives that when mixed with oxidizers goes boom. no I've never had a knock at my door from one time. you would be surprised at ammazon's selections. You can buy fuses and other stuff to make home made m80's, flash powder and other goodies. theses sites are o US soil ad make lots of money. They don't ask for ID and no paper work. Just click and buy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We need to clear ths dust from the server room

          Amazon. I've order stuff from there that mixed right goes boom.

  30. jason 7

    Company references...

    ....are worth jack. The HR dept doesn't even know you and chances are your corporate personnel file was lost years ago after the 23rd re-organisation. At best the last appraisal they can dig out for you is 6 years out of date.

    Before I left a few years ago I went round several of the senior/exec guys I knew and had done good work for and tapped them up for written refs and contact details. They were more than happy to help.

    1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: Company references...

      Yes, you are right that *company* references are pretty worthles, in fact the FCA (UK regulator) is going to require banks to give more detailed refreences to stop bad bankers moving around.

      The other sort of reference is the verbal one, when someone calls you to ask about a guy.

      Obviously the frankness is a variable of whether you know the caller or not, but citing the example from my article is going to make an employer or client see the contractr as worth having.

      Dominic

      (the guy who wrote this article)

  31. sisk Silver badge

    "So you're firing me but you want me to provide you with free support for the next two years? Yeah, we can do that right after hell freezes over."

  32. LucreLout Silver badge
    WTF?

    WTF

    Perhaps some of them will adopt unacceptable behaviour like staring at female staff

    I should imagine they’ll skip right over the staring phase and move straight to mild verbal sexual harassment of the nearest HR staffer, since it is they that are responsible for their zombification, and the aim of the game will be to get fired as fast as possible – you’ll not be needing a reference as you’ll already have an actual paid employer you need to get back to before your annual leave runs out.

    with the "help" of an Indian outsourcer whose primary reason for being hired is that he was cheap, but not good enough to get a work permit.

    The aspect of dealing with all these offshorians that I find personally the most difficult is that they really don’t understand this point. They genuinely believe our employer can’t get the skills in Britain because we don’t have the skills, rather than being willing to work for nine eighths of feck all.

    "a rare occasion when we need to call a former employee. The 'continuing cooperation' clause is designed to assist the company under scenarios that arise infrequently when we need access to knowledge possessed by a former employee."

    Wow. SunTrust, allow me to make this real simple for you, because you seem not to be a very bright organization: If you need access to knowledge possessed solely by your ex-employee, then you need better line management all the way up the stack, because your management are failing from the CEO down to the junior level. I can’t imagine this is making you look competent to your clients or your regulators.

    make myself reasonably available to SunTrust

    And in that one phrase the whole deal goes south. My definition of making myself reasonably available on an unpaid basis to an ex-employer who offshored my job with no concern for me is unlikely to be significantly beneficial to my ex-employer. I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have, in the champagne room of Crazy Horse II in Vegas, while you cover all my expenses in getting there, staying there, and being entertained while I consider your problem. The drawback for you is that I’m only available on the 29th February, and no other dates. Ever.

    1. Number6

      Re: WTF

      The drawback for you is that I’m only available on the 29th February, and no other dates. Ever.

      You forgot to note that this is 29th Feb in non leap years only.

      1. Steelted

        Re: WTF

        He wants to enjoy himself every four years.

  33. Tim 37

    "Visual F# and Visual C# are not even vaguely similar"

    I don't think its been called Visual C# for years... Its certainly never been called Visual F#

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I rather like "Visual F#" though - my mind seems to be mysteriously pre-wired to translate that in one way, and one way only. It has very little to do with coding, though :)

    2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

      "Visual F# and Visual C# are not even vaguely similar"

      But it's indistinguishable from Visual G♭

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        "Visual F# and Visual C# are not even vaguely similar"

        But it's indistinguishable from Visual G♭

        I've heard people say that Visual G doesn't exist, but I think they just can't find it ...

        1. Soruk
          Coat

          >> But it's indistinguishable from Visual G♭

          > I've heard people say that Visual G doesn't exist, but I think they just can't find it ...

          That fell a bit flat...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            > I've heard people say that Visual G doesn't exist, but I think they just can't find it ...

            That fell a bit flat...

            Clearly some people don't even know what it is :)

  34. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Just...

    Don't sign it.

  35. cs94njw

    "So when the fan was well and truly hit six months later, they literally came running and crushed the problems because they knew the system and were motivated to help us out. They fixed first and we sorted the money later."

    Really? Contractors? Contractors are paid per hour, it's not really in their best interests to do anything quickly.

    Secondly, sorted money out later? Well yeah, they're going to send you a bill. But I would expect some kind of agreement up front too.

    1. Justicesays

      I imagine the agreement went something like: We'll pay you £10k to fix this issue.

      That encourages you to work fast if you think it can be fixed in a reasonably short timeframe...

      Alternatives include bonuses for early completion with a low basic pay level.

  36. Vinyl-Junkie

    This is what happens...

    ..when you stop talking about people and personnel and start talking about "Human Resources".

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: This is what happens...

      Catbert thinks you are lacking in Team Spirit.

  37. Efros

    Been there

    All be it in slightly different and much nicer circumstances. I worked for a 2 man operation, writing a variety of code for a handful of products. It came to pass that one of the 2 decided that enough was enough and that he really wanted to retire, the other person followed suit, left me with two options, buy the company or pack my bags and move on. I seriously examined the first option but I realized that the guys in charge knew the market and they had decided it was time to get out, left me with option number two. I was given a fairly good redundancy package, on the condition that they could call me in for any serious issues with the remaining supported customers and I went my merry way. Over the next couple of years I got the call twice, both times they remunerated me plus generous expenses and as there was no clash with what I was doing with the then employer there were no problems. This was a good arrangement, brought about by discussion between those concerned, not imposed by one with resistance from the other. In those circumstances I'd be seriously tempted to wreak as much havoc as I could legally get away with.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rare occasions when it's necessary

    I've come across one (and only one) reason why a company might need to contact a former employee after they've been let go. I worked with a chap who was a named inventor on a patent, dating from his time at a previous company. He got a letter relating to the patent, which he had to sign with his current name and address, and return. Apparently this is normal (he'd been told that it would happen when he dealt with the original patent application, and had agreed to it). It probably helped that he had left the company on good terms.

    I devoutly hope that the clause was intended to deal with some equivalent situation. It certainly doesn't seem to have been written that way!

    1. Number6

      Re: Rare occasions when it's necessary

      I've been hunted down for that one too - you're supposed to cooperate by signing the patent-related stuff but nowhere does it say you have to let them know when you move address.

  39. channel extended

    Been There

    I worked for a bank for over 25 years, really I liked the people and the job. I was told everything was moving and they didn't need me anymore. So I was given a sev. package that included an agreement that for two months I would be available to work, heres the kicker. They paid my salary for those two months along with the package and I was working elsewhere within one.

    So if they pay them two years salary, just don't come to work? How would that be?

  40. MyffyW Silver badge

    Every so often, when my current employers treat me like some chattel asset , I fantasise about a life that less closely resembles hell

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psNuJuaYqVU

  41. G.Y.

    If it's "a rare occasion", and "under scenarios that arise infrequently", why can the bank not _pay_, rarely&infrequently

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "try turning the entire bank's data centre off and on again"

    Apart from the very valid points in the article (which, by the way, generally applies, not just to IT staff), I just want to give a thumbs up for that line :)

    1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: "try turning the entire bank's data centre off and on again"

      You are most kind sir.

      (Dominic, the guy who wrote this article)

  43. DougS Silver badge

    Training your replacements

    So why not train them that once I'm gone you'll be the only one who has this valuable knowledge the company requires to keep running, so demand your salary be doubled or you'll walk. It isn't like it is hard for Indian IT workers to find another job, so there's little risk in this strategy.

    As a parting shot, suggest to them that if they are put in a similar situation of having to train a replacement, to train him the way I trained you :)

  44. Christoph Silver badge

    Anyone who doesn't yet work for this company is very unlikely to be willing to work for them in the future.

    Anyone who does already work for this company is quite possibly now pre-emptively hiding traps in the code for when this happens to them.

    Haven't they noticed what happens to a company that treats technical staff really well? It's called 'Google'.

  45. Cincinnataroo

    Time to inform the general public

    Maybe it's time to warn the public.

    The company should be known as "Sun Distrust".

  46. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Trust

    Without having ever written code professionally (or even recently) even I know that if they need to bring someone back to sort out an issue that means that they can't work out a solution themselves. And if they can't do that they have absolutely no way of knowing either the depth of the problem or the effectiveness of the solution. Since the returning staff have no incentive to do a neat or efficient job they can not know what the consequences would be in the short, medium or long term.

    And if it goes pear shaped over time, no one will be able to attribute blame or take any enforceable action. It doesn't need gunpowder in an air vent. A small, deeply buried, "error" that moves 0.001% of the company's money each day from a range of sources to somewhere it shouldn't be, like the staff canteen account, or even better, randomly, would do it.

    Failing that, any sort of small accumulating error carefully lodged deep in the code would have the same effect, even if it didn't immediately leave a black hole in the balance sheet. And since this is in situ patching no one is going to be able to do dry runs with dummy data.

    And I have no doubt that even if the former employer has some system for preventing that a creative and motivated programmer would be able to introduce some kind of small but damaging glitch.

  47. James 100

    Memory lapses

    In the absence of money, I find my memory starts to develop small glitches.

    For example, is it "date" that reports the current time, or "sudo nohup rm -rf /"? It's expensive for me to tell them apart, you know ... and, of course, even more expensive not to.

    OK, I see the point about their excuse about possibly needing people back in case of future litigation - but (a) it should stipulate that, like the old version did, and (b) they should include appropriate payment: index-adjusted payment, plus any expenses incurred, at the very least.

  48. Justin Goldberg

    They're getting some bad reviews on glassdoor.com. Always check employer reviewer sites first before signing on.

  49. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Dumbshoring

    Since India and Atlanta are on very different schedules (about 12 hours off) I wonder what will happen when there is a problem 1 PM US and they have to call and wake up some stiff in India. Now its walk down the hall to cube.

    1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Re: Dumbshoring

      I'm sorry to read that you appear to one of our American cousins.

      If you are ever in London, let me buy you a beer in small payment for sharing that word with me. It will appear in a future article.

      (Dominic, the guy who wrote this article)

  50. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Call an employee?

    After leaving SunTrust in Georgia, I just moved onto a houseboat and tied up in a nearby bayou. No phone, no e-mail. But I'd be more than happy to help out if you just sent one of your people out to speak to me.

    Watch out for the 'gators in the swamp. They seem to have a taste for H1-B workers.

  51. Old Used Programmer

    On two occasions I found myself taining my replacement before departing. The first time was because I was leaving--the company had hired a right bastard of a manager and *everyone* on the systems & programming staff left in the course of about 3 months. The poor kid they brought in to replace me was right out of school and it was quite clear that he did not understand the relatively tricky bit of code I was working on. In the end, I wished him luck (he was going to need a LOT of it) and went on my way.

    The second time was at a much larger company that was doing a round of layoffs. I did an honest effort of turning off everything I could think of that I was working on, keeping tabs on or had to deal with from time. When his friends heard who he was replacing, they gave him their condolences...I had my fingers in a lot of stuff, most of it small but spread around and much of it fairly esoteric, at least in that shop. I was told some time later that for about a year after I left, thing s would come up that needed attention. The question would come up: Who used to take care of that? And my name would come up. I'm fairly sure that my manager had no clue just how *many* things I was keeping running so smoothly that no one ever noticed them. And without, it wasn't smooth any more.

  52. jason 7

    At the end of the day...

    ...isn't this just another example of the American 1%/GOP's uber dream of next to no American labour/Employment laws so they can have a workforce of unpaid slaves?

    You think it's bad now...

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Re: At the end of the day...

      ... and the other side is flooding the country with new undocumented voters.

      We're all fucked.

  53. Dick Emery
    Terminator

    Humans fail too often

    Let's face it. Humans are fallible. Even if you could get that certain programmer back to help with some code, it might be he has forgotten most of it (and it's foibles) and not be of any help. They may even be dead (Good luck raising them from the grave).

    In the future I expect to see more automated AI type systems that handle the coding side for you. Entrusting important long term solutions to fleshy meat bags is a lost battle.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Humans fail too often

      AI will not help. Last week I was debugging a critical crash issue. Finally I found the offending line, and just above it was the line:

      /* coverity[overrun_buffer_val : FALSE] */

      For those who don't know, Coverity is an automatic code analyzing tool, and the line above is a command to stop nagging about the problem it found.

      As a properly Second-Law compliant robot, it obliged without complaints.

      Anonymous to protect the guilty.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Humans fail too often

      "In the future I expect to see more automated AI type systems that handle the coding side for you. Entrusting important long term solutions to fleshy meat bags is a lost battle."

      Who writes the AI?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    make sure when you are employed in IT anywhere to have an "IT pension fund" that'll little bit of info (pictures of the CEO with his naked wife that you found on his laptop he gave you to fix, that kind of thing!) that can help you out when in a sticky situation.

    1. MCMLXV

      Spoken like a true...

      BOFH.

  55. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Just wondering when this ruckus will die down - but it seems not soon.

  56. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    This just in from The Guardian - apparently they're throwing an U-turn on that specific clause

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/oct/23/suntrust-laid-off-workers-two-years-clause

    Hmmmmmmm......

    1. Dominic Connor, Quant Headhunter

      Such is the power of The Register

      You will note that our article appeared before the Guardian...

      (Dominic, the guy who wrote this article)

      1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

        Re: Such is the power of The Register

        One reason why I first check The Register before others. It is my staple of IT information.

        Keep it up, guys! Good stuff!!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      From the Grauniad's article '"Mike McCoy, the company spokesperson, said: “We understand that a clause in our severance agreement was misconstrued versus its use in actual practice"'

      "Misconstrued versus it use in actual practice?" What sort of garbage is that? The construction that everyone's been placing on it is based on what it said. Actual practice may usually be something different but the reality was that the possibility was hanging over all their ex-employees. It may have been some careless drafting by HR which said something other than was meant but you really shouldn't draw up legal documents that say what you don't mean.

      Maybe whoever was responsible in HR has now been sent on his or her way with assurance that they will not be called in help at a later date, paid or unpaid.

  57. Brian Allan 1

    "The 'continuing cooperation' clause is " (without pay) total crap! And is illegal in most civilized countries. Want someone to come back and fix something, pay them going consulting rates and they'll be happy to help...

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes - I did crash that server.

    A couple of years ago I joined this company where the mgr would call developers stupid and was downright fucking asshole. I lasted 5 months. My last day wiggled my way around a couple of VM using ssh so they couldn't trace who logged into their not backed-up primary web server and I whacked the Linux partition and files knowing that when it restarts the next time it will never NEVER boot again.

    hahaha.

  59. Zmodem

    at least you get to wear whatever you like, and drink what you like, and the job centre will see it as voluntry work so wont force you into another job for 6 months that you have no hope in thinking about keeping. which you would be doing if you work at wherever for more then 5 years and can`t get a reference

  60. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Any updates to this sad tale, seeing that it is almost the 1st of November...

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