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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18 Comments

Filed under I feel Irritated, Money Hump Building

18 responses to “Panties in a Twist.

  1. charmed

    Work for free? I dont think so…. huh that sounds more like slavery than employment

    • Right now it’s by choice, but I’ve often seen things that are “optional” become “mandatory”. Precedent setting is always something I think about when I see stuff like this.

  2. grrrace

    While I can see that there *might* be some benefits to this program, I wouldn’t want it to be replicated in other states. I just think that there are too many companies who will take advantage of the program. In a perfect world, it might be a good thing, but there is just too much corruption for it to work very well… IMO, anyway.

    • There might, indeed, be some benefits, if one were trying to find another industry. But, yeah, I see way too big of a loophole for companies and not enough benefits for employees. I mean, sheez, they’re paying you $10/day (stipend)… that’s what you make for jury duty, right?

  3. noonie

    nope you’ve not misinterpreted it… I recognise this… there have been many forms of this in the UK over the years.

    YTS scheme… kids paid £5 a week by the government to work for company. This was in the 80s, it was disgusting, companies used them as slaves.

    There have been less obvious versions since. At least here we have the NHS so you always have health care and if you’re unemployed you get free dental too.

    • I think the US could look to other nations to learn how things already tried turned out, instead of trying things and thinking we’ll be different. We could learn a lot.

  4. I agree with you about not working for free. I know there are valid intern programs out there, but people do that by choice. And many of those internships are at least paid. $50 a week for the priviledge of working for someone that “might” hire you? I could use those kinds of cheap resources with my team.

  5. Redfred

    Um, I live in Ga and I haven’t heard of it! lol, I don’t think it is compulsory ( I know a lot of unemployed people here and they are not doing it) Perhaps though it is targeted at unskilled people for semi- skilled positions in which case it would have some merit and obviously there would need to be some oversight to make sure there really was a job at the end of it, the cost of that oversight might well end up costing more than the savings… anyway people have had to start getting inventive, I can remember last time I was between jobs, and was thinking that perhaps I could offer to work for a month for free to prove myself.. but then I got a job 😉

    • When you get down the wire of your finances, things can get scary. It’s also scary when employers have the upper hand because they have the power to abuse it. Not only do they then control your paycheck, but they can control your “real life” time. I’m very protective of my real life time.

  6. My thoughts are these: I AGREE WITH YOU! This program sure doesn’t work at all, and ESPECIALLY for people at your level…..! So, I’m with you!

  7. According to my SIL in NC, businesses also make use of (abuse?) temps to avoid benefits. She would always get “trial jobs” of “possible hire” and be let go after the six month period. The old, “Not working out” thing so they keep hiring temps for 6 months and never hire anyone and never have to pay benefits. When I temped for Art Squad, I never came close to getting the hours needed to get benefits. Don’t get me wrong, I loved temping and actually had no desire to be hired full-time by anyone. I was lucky medically and only broke my foot once and the total cost of that was about $150 I think. A hospitilization would have been really bad, though. Anyway, I wish you luck in finding your place in the business world. You’ll get there.

    • You’re right, there is a bit of risk with that, too. I had it happen in one of my former temp jobs… ours was a 90 day period. It was irritating, I’d just learned the position and then they “let me go.” But for me, I made more $$ temping than I did on unemployment, so the pay check was worth it.

      Just how many times have you broken your foot or toe over the years?

  8. Broke my foot in the same place twice – the right fifth metatarsal, 5 years apart. Broke my left pinkie in 9th grade, my right second toe in April (I think) and my right pinkie in May. The problem is I am severely pigeon-toed, and goofy, and drink a lot of beer. Except in 9th grade, that was not my fault (and I didn’t drink beer).

  9. just getting caught up with you!!!
    and hmmmm … re jobs and such …
    i know of a young couple from california that actually moved to our COLD manitoba – for work … i feel sorry for them re the weather – they have yet to experience a real manitoba winter, they just experienced the mosquitoes … so work? or cold? toss up …

    sending (hugs) your way!!!!

    • Wow — maybe they will like the snow and cold? I know Tony does. 🙂 I’m not sure I would unless I could stay home all day and read by a fireplace.