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I got to thinking about overtime yesterday, as I spent a 14 hour day at work. It occured to me that the employeer-employee relationship is a bit skewed towards favoring large companies. See, the standard employment agreement goes something along the these lines:

You work 40 hours a week, and we'll pay you for your trouble. If we happen to need you more than 40 hours in any given week, then we'll pay you even more for your trouble. Unless, of course, we happen to classify you as an 'exempt' emplopyee, in which case, it's important that you work the extra time, but not so important to us that we pay you for it. Oh, and we require that you at least be here for the normal 40 hours per week. We can't afford to pay you the normal 40 hour salary for a 35 hour week. If you can't deal with that, move on, and we'll find someone else who can.

The whole 'exempt' classification thing is where I start to get a bit itchy. Now, I'm only speaking from my experience, and I've only had one job out of college (having only graduated less than a year ago), but at least this is the feeling that I get of corporate America: For an exempt employee, overtime is your duty to the company. The company owes you squat, just be grateful you have a job.

Why is it, that a company can demand that I work more time for the same pay during one week, and yet refuse to pay me that same amount the next week if I happen to need to take a couple hours off? It's because of the nature of the employeer-employee relationship, which is a perfect example of Econ 101. They have a job, along with all it's attendent benefits (salary, medical, etc which is in demand. You have your time (the currency) which you trade to your employeer in exchange for that job. The more people that want that job (high demand), the less they have to give in exchange for the position, and the more others will be willing to pay (in their time) for the commodity. See, basic economics. And companies are very good at basic economics. Large, publicly held companies anyway.

And that's another thing. Officers of publicly held companies have two large groups they answer to. The employees and the stockholders. Only, and here's the kicker, they don't really have to answer to the employees. The pay structure for executives is based entirely on the stock price. So the largest factor in an executive's decision-making process, is "how will this action affect our shareholders." That shouldn't be big problem should it? Except for one minor thing… the interests of the shareholders and the interests of the employees are diametrically opposed.

Generally speaking, making employees happier is going to cost the company money, which eats into the profits. Lower profits = lower stock price = angrier stockholders. And when the executive's pay is based off of stockholder happiness, well you get the picture.

Large companies…. bleh. I've got to find a smaller place to work.

I've got to start working for myself.


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