Daily Archives: October 15, 2009

Panties in a Twist.

OK, maybe I’m taking this the wrong way, having been recently terminated by a company where I *loved* my job and the company for whom I worked. Especially when I’m fairly certain that they reallocated my duties to 2 or 3 people, who they are paying less, who aren’t getting medical benefits, and who are working longer hours as a result.

I know I shouldn’t let it get to me, the program isn’t even available in my state (at least, I don’t think so), but in last Sunday’s Parade Magazine, I came across this article: Link

And here’s a link to the horse’s mouth, so to speak: Link

In a nutshell, in case you don’t feel like reading the stuff at those links, in response to the incredible amount of unemployment filings, Georgia has created a program that enables employers to get free labor for up to 6 weeks, the state of Georgia even picks up the tab for worker’s compensation insurance. At the end of those 6 weeks, it’s at the employer’s discretion if they want to hire the person who has basically, for all intents and purposes, been an “intern.” (My word, not theirs.)

The intern receives a stipend of up to $300 (total over that 6 week period) to defray expenses (in addition to unemployment benefits), a “foot in the door”, and on-the-job training.

The state benefits, because they claim 58% of the interns (program participants) are landing jobs at the companies at which they are interning, thereby reducing the amount of unemployment payments the state is doling out.

According to the article, other states are interested in replicating the program, and there is a concern that the unemployed working for free could become a mandatory stipulation of receiving unemployment benefits. Which I find somewhat ironic – the state and former employer financially carrying their former employee while they retrain at a new company? (Unemployment is a program funded by employers who pay taxes on wages paid to employees.)

Furthermore, I’m not seeing how it would benefit someone in my shoes. Someone who’s not trying to change careers, someone who has years of experience doing what they do, and someone who has advanced skills that are suitable for the position they’re seeking. Someone whose bills are based on the position at which they’ve honed their skills over the years. UI doesn’t pay my bills, not even close. Add a measly $300 stipend for a 6 week period? Nope, still not even close.

Back in August of 1999 (the irony of it being 10 years ago, exactly, is not lost on me), I lost my job due to company closure. My boss at the time made the grandiose offer of, “If you continue working here, if we get our funding, we’ll pay you then.” My response to that was, “Thanks, appreciate the offer, but I don’t work for free.” The company never received its funding, it closed its doors… so, if I had stayed, I would have been working for free. Basically the same risk the people who participate in this program take… at the end, you either get “funded” or you don’t.

At that time, there just wasn’t anything out there for my skill set. After a few months went by, you know what I did? I went back to college. Shocking, right? Here’s something else, I continued to receive UI and when the benefits ran out, I went to court, stood in front of a judge and made my case for my UI to be continued. The judge agreed with me and extended my benefits. Ironically, shortly after that, I landed a position as an executive assistant… my trusty old standby.

I don’t recall that I registered with any temp agencies at that time. If I didn’t, I don’t know why. But I think temp agencies are much more beneficial to a candidate than Georgia’s work program. If a temp employee maintains a certain number of hours per week for a period of time, they’re eligible for health benefits through the temp agency. In addition, the employer pays a fee to the temp agency, so the employer has an investment beyond “training”… in other words, they are truly looking to hire someone. In Georgia’s work program, it appears as if there’s a huge loophole for employers to abuse the system — to enroll, get free labor for 6 weeks and then just wave their hand and say, “Meah, not a good fit.”

Maybe I’ve totally misinterpreted this and I feel like there’s a couple points I forgot to make (it’s late, I’ve vented my spleen and I hereby forgive myself), but that’s how it appears to me and I’ve read the stuff, like, 6 times now.

What are your thoughts? If you don’t have any thoughts, just wave and say “Hi”. No offense will be taken. Well, maybe a little offense, but I’ll get over it.

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