Archive for September, 2008

A cut above the rest??!!

Apologies for the hairdressing puns, but today’s HR problem relates to a Hairdressing Salon I work with.

Cindy is around 40, and a junior member of the hairdressing hierarchy, but a valuable one, nonetheless.

Cindy is contracted to work 4 evenings a week, Monday to Thursday because they don’t open late on Friday. Her hours are between 4.30 and 9pm. Because Linsi was seconded to a sister-salon, Cindy was asked if she would mind doing two evenings and two mornings for a while, until Linsi came back. Cindy was happy to, so the Salon Manager got in a temporary person called Jan to cover the other two evenings.  

Sadly the sister-salon closed, and Linsi had to come back after about 9 months, putting Jan out of a job, and Cindy back to her 4 evenings a week. Jan was sad, but knew this was on the cards at some point, and went to find another job. Linsi went back to her job during the day, and Cindy was therefore required to revert to her old work pattern.

Except, in the 9 months, Cindy’s husband had changed jobs, leaving Cindy with a child-care problem on a Thursday evening. So what did Cindy do?

Did she find a babysitter? No

Did she start looking for another job? No

She came to her manager and demanded her work pattern remain at 2 evenings and 2 mornings a week.

Well, her manager told her she could not accomodate her in this work pattern any longer – as all the day work was covered, and Cindy’s contract was for 4 evenings a week, so that’s what she’d have to do.

So Cindy sulked and cried and stamped her feet because she said the hairdressing salon should be accomodating her personal needs because she’s got children………………………………………………….

So what do you make of that, aspiring HR managers???

What do you think my advice was?


A glimpse into the fog….

At a country fair on Sunday, I bumped into a man who smiled at me a familiar smile. Older, greyer, but still the same shape of a face I’d once known. I approached him, and spoke.

Spaniel, so it is you! How are you?

Oh, you know. I’m doing well, Ted.

Ted: Oh good. Settled down again now? Its been a while. Still working at the government building? 

Me: Oh yes, all is well. No, not working there any more, had a change now, working in London.

Ted: Oh good.

Me: Yes, and getting married again.

Ted: Oh, that’s such good news! 

Ted beams at me – he genuinely means it. He’s pleased for me.

Ted: Well, you’re both settling down again, then.

I glimpse into the fog, hoping to make out the shape of something that isn’t really there….

Me: How is BastardChris* these days? Still see him?

Ted: Oh yes – he’s me mate, you know that. I like him, he’s a friend. But I warned you, didn’t I? I asked you if you were sure….

I smile now and say ‘yes, yes you did. ‘ We both pause, thinking of memories. A time past.

Me: Where is he now?

Ted: In OldTown. He’s OK. Moving from business to business, here and there. (Ted chuckles). You know what he’s like. He’ll never change.

I smile again, a joyless smile, by way of reply. I want to know a little more, maybe, but looking out at the shapes in the mist, I’m not sure I want to see so clearly after all.  

Me: Its been about 5 years since I last saw him, you know. October ’03. A long time.   

Ted: Yes, I suppose it must be. I saw your mother a while ago, She seemed as concerned about him doing OK as you seem to be.

I can do no more than smile. Wondering whether I am concerned about him or not. 

Ted: You know he’s an odd bloke. He’s just so daft, he needs someone equally daft to put up with him – and you weren’t daft enough.  

Me: Yes.

Ted: Well its been lovely to bump into you, Spaniel. Take care of yourself, and I’m so glad things are working out for you. I knew you just weren’t silly enough to put up with him. Congratulations on getting married again.

Me: Thanks Ted. You take care now.

Ted: Bye (he waves).

Me: Bye, then.

I stood, squinting slightly to see if I could make out anything more than I had already seen, and realised I could not. But then I don’t think I’m really that interested, after all.

When the fog lifted, there was nothing there. Nothing at all.

  *see Cast List.


Today I found myself completley unable to express my true feelings, which is very unusual for me. I was so appalled and horrified, I just ran out of words to adequately express it.

See what you make of it.

Bianca works as a teaching assistant in a college. She is part of a team of people who work one to one with students in need of additional support because they have disabilities or particular special needs. Bianca is an ex-nurse, an asthmatic and suffers from some allergies already. Probably as a result of her work with patients over the years, Bianca had a severe allergic reaction a week or so ago while blowing up a party balloon, and was rushed into hospital, having difficulty in breathing. She had suffered an anaphylactic reaction to natural rubber (latex), and has been warned that she must carry her epi-pen (an auto-injector containing synthetic adrenaline) with her at all times. If she comes into contact with a latex or rubber item again, her body will dramatically react to the rubber and start to shut down within minutes as it goes into anaphylactic shock. She has been left in no doubt that the next reaction will kill her if she doesn’t receive the adrenaline in her epi-pen quickly – well before any ambulance is likely to arrive.    

When she returned to work, she explained to her colleagues what had happened, and that if this were to happen to her at work, she might need one of her colleagues to administer her epi-pen to her, if she was unable to do it for herself. Bianca’s colleagues, because of the students they work with, have all been trained to administer an epi-pen in an emergency. Bianca felt safe because of the sheer volume of people trained to respond in an emergency all around her……


Except her colleagues told her they would not be prepared to administer it to her because she was not a student.


 I am truly speechless.