I was five weeks into a new job and was finally invited to attend the HR induction program.
Those five weeks up until that point had been quite busy. I began with working remotely from home because of the COVID-19 lockdown and within a day dived straight into work. Working close to ten or eleven hours a day felt a bit unsettling especially when I need to cook three meals, walk and feed my dog, spend some time keeping in touch with my parents and my sister who need my emotional support given these circumstances. I’m not even going attempt buying time for some much-needed self-care, often overlooked. All this and a demanding job made my days hectic.
So it was me, another woman in her 30s and a middle-aged man who joined this induction call. We spent zero to five minutes browsing through the HR policies and moved on to the employee handbook.
And then we reached a section in the HR handbook called Attendance and Late Coming.
“Everyone please note that the log in time is strictly 9:30 AM, employees coming later than 60 minutes are liable to be kept out of the office and the management shall be entitled to deduct salary for the period of late coming. For example, an employee attending to work late between 5 and 30 minutes is liable for half-an-hour’s deduction from his salary and an employee attending late between 30 and 60 minutes is liable for one hour’s deduction from his salary” said the HR lady, tactlessly.
Err, that’s sounds unnecessarily military, I thought to myself.
“So PLEASE don’t be late, because the HR Director sits right next to the front door and keeps a strict watch on who’s walking in at what time, so not even a five minute delay is acceptable” she went on to add.
I felt my eyebrows furrowing. Are we seriously spending more time on this part than the time we spent on the PoSH Policy and Whistleblower policy put together?
“I’ve a question” I interjected politely. “I’d like to know what the log off time is — I ask this because I have been working overtime and given no option to take some compensatory time off. So could you explain to me how overtime hours can be compensated”
The HR lady chuckled and said, “Oh, nobody can force you to work over time — (wrong, I was indeed forced to work extra hours) — We all work overtime here when needed and we do it for the cause. I think once you see everyone working, you will also understand and happily work extra”
I was shocked at her cursory response. What should have otherwise been recognised as a glaring problem in the work culture of the organisation, was dismissed with an offhand remark.
Thankfully, the other female joiner chimed in. She raised a similar issue and underlined this strange gap in their HR ‘rule book’.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not a slacker. I believe in working efficiently during your working hours and I’d also take on extra work beyond working hours if required. My only question is, if the organisation can so blatantly demand extra hours from you, shouldn’t it also allow some flexibility for the employee to take some hours off in return? If you have such strict log-in rules, how can you be so casual about the log off time?
ANYWAY. After a little back and forth, all in vain, with the HR manager, we arrived at absolutely no helpful outcome. And all this while, the man hadn’t spoken at all. Quiet as a stone.
It was then that the HR folk turned to him, and asked him, “Sudip (name changed), do you have any concerns on this?”
And comes his unceremonious response — “It hardly matters, baba”.
He said it without a care in the world, with this placid smile plastered across his face. He was ‘oh so above and beyond’ this petty convo we had with the HR.
It didn’t matter to him. Of course, why would it?
He wouldn’t mind working 9 hours, 10 hours or whenever-you-need-him-to-work hours because he may really not have much else to worry about. These inconsequential details don’t affect his life much or at all. Most of the men I know who are working from home currently don’t have a lot changed in their life besides being home-bound. They have a wife or a mother or a sister who’s cooking and cleaning for them, even watching the kids for them. So yeah, he’s right, it👏hardly👏matters👏.
Without having any perspective into the life of a woman, specifically a working woman, he managed to make our queries sound unintelligent and wearisome. What’s more infuriating was the man and the HR lady sharing a cute little ‘tee-hee’ moment.
She then asked me if I am satisfied with her response and I reluctantly agreed.
On an unrelated note, I no longer work there.