‘Leaving’ the job

By : Bikram Vohra

It is basically a Gulf expat problem but it is a sad one. I met this young man who has just returned from a three month leave home to find that the hierarchy in his office has changed its pattern and with the new supervisor and the new section head this guy was now sidetracked, his job had been taken and he was told to report to another department for his new post.

Already depressed at leaving his wife and kids for the next two plus anything years the shock of the loss of his job merely because of office politics and the in-house games that people play he is now devastated.

Three months is a long enough time for people to invade your preserve and chew up your job security. To a great extent the flaw lies in the system that encourages leave after such inordinate lengths of time. To send people away for three months is to break the continuity beyond normal levels. The gap is too wide and is engineered only because there is no fiat to take annual leaves. This is a tradition predicated to the fact that there is only an accumulation of that legal leave. In turn, the practice has been encouraged because managements save on annual air tickets and give them once in two years. That some don’t even do that further compounds the problem.

What happens is that there are no winners. The company has a homesick person on its hands when he returns, the stretch ahead forbidding in its span. The disconnection between individual and his work has been so long that it takes days for the rust to disappear, the process made even slower by the low mood. Into this situation the loss of the post he had when he took off creates further inefficiency and despondency. A good man down.

So, the belief that the saving on the annual ticket is worth it is largely erroneous. On the contrary it is actually a morale buster but old habits do not keel over swiftly and the “saving” still gets reflected in the bottom line.

It would be lot less expensive if the individual was given an annual 30-day vacation, brought back refreshed and ready to do his best, knowing that within the year he would be on his way back home again. Since the large majority of expats are from the subcontinent the cost of that ticket is not very high.

It does not matter what level the worker is at, to have him absent for three months does make him vulnerable to office intrigue and also leaves him redundant because the system accommodates his absence and manages without.

One would be surprised how common the problem is and it ranges from the laborer to the office executive whose long leave often results in his discovering that he hasn’t got a job at all.

This is one of the negative spin offs of the long leave system. And it has to be said that if the loss of a post is bad enough the loss of a job brought about by a person enjoying his earned leave is about the worst exploitation one can come up with.

There should be some sort of “time” freeze on dismissal once a person has left on earned leave. It should not be permitted for a company to axe him when he is away or upon his arrival. There should be at least a 3-month period so that advantage has not been taken of his absence and his subsequent inability to defend himself.

What can be more hurtful than to arrive after a good holiday and reach the office to find a white envelope on your desk telling you how sorry everyone is that they have to let you go but they have figured out that you are now not needed…all this realization pouring in when you were on earned leave…that being a right not a courtesy.





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