To wonder if this is even legal?

(52 Posts)
SherbetVodka Mon 28-Jan-13 10:21:39

Sorry, this is a dull one about work.

Last week I started a new part time job in a big supermarket (transferred from another store so new to the store but not the company).

They have strict rules about workers not being allowed to carry anything on them during their shift (even a bottle of water is forbidden in case you've added alcohol to it) so you have to put everything in a locker.

Well, when I started last week I was told that they were short of lockers so I didn't have one yet and would have to leave my handbag behind someone's desk in the HR office. I wasn't too happy about that but obviously complied and went to work my shift. Then my manager noticed that I still had my engagement ring on (I never got told to remove it at my old store so forgot to this time). She held out her hand to take it but I said I'd keep it in my pocket.

Anyway, when my shift finished, I went to the HR office to get my bag. When I asked for it, they didn't know what I was talking about and insisted that it must be in the managers office, not theirs. I kept saying no, it's in here and they finally had a look for it and found it. They also said that my manager had left for the day, so I was very glad I hadn't given her my engagement ring to look after as god knows where it would have ended up if they've got such a casual attitude to looking after people's stuff.

So the day before my next shift, I phoned the store and asked if I'd have a locker arranged for when I came in to work. Was told to come in ten mins early and go to HR. When I did, I was told that there were no lockers and that I'd have to leave my bag and coat in the HR office for my entire 9 hour shift as there would be nobody around and the door would be locked.

So I put my lunch in the canteen fridge ( hoping it would still be there when I went for my break) and went to the shop floor then got told by my manager that she'd moved my things to the managers office which is unlocked all day (and unattended much of the time). I asked if I could, in that case, keep my valuables - money, cards, phone, keys - on me as I felt uncomfortable with them being in an office that anyone could access at any time and she said no, that would be a disciplinary offence.

I asked her if she had any idea when more lockers would be available as while I can leave most things at home, I'd really rather not come out without any money or any means of contacting DH or my mum who's looking after my child. She told me that she had no idea, it may not be for some time and that "lots of people are in the same boat".

Well, I understand that lots of other people are in this situation too but that doesn't make it ok, surely?? I feel really uncomfortable about this and am wondering if its even legal for an employer to force its' employees to leave their personal possessions somewhere unsecured and out of (their) view for their entire shift.

I also really, really dislike the implication from my manager that I'm being precious and demanding for minding about it. I was very polite about it, by the way. Probably too passive, if anything. It makes no difference to the situation, I know, but if she'd shown some sympathy or said something like "yeah I know it's shit, I'm sorry, we're trying to get it sorted as soon as we can" then I might not be feeling quite as narked about it as I am. If I was a manager, I'd feel awful if a new employee was left either without access to her things all day or was forced to leave them in an unlocked and unattended room.

It's not just the inconvenience and worry, it feels like a contemptuous way to treat staff. And isn't there a potential issue with something being nicked and then the store being liable for it? That's why I'm wondering if they're acting legally by doing this confused

SherbetVodka Mon 28-Jan-13 10:33:44

Anyone?

HanneHolm Mon 28-Jan-13 10:34:44

too long too long

I guess the company has a loss prevention team/officer. Is it something you could raise with them?

BigGiantCowWithAKnockKnockTail Mon 28-Jan-13 10:36:55

To be perfectly honest I think you might be making a teensy bit of a big deal about it.
Do you have to take a whole bag? Couldn't you ask a colleague to just put some keys and a phone in their locker? Are there any lockable drawers in any of the offices?

BubblegumPie Mon 28-Jan-13 10:36:58

doesn't sound legal to me. Are you part of a union?

Can you just take a wallet and phone and ask someone else on same shift to pop in their locker?

BarredfromhavingStella Mon 28-Jan-13 10:39:01

Not sure on the legals of it but it's very poor & I would be more forceful in insisting that they do something about it.

They are not liable for your possessions, at the moment there are no lockers, yes it is an inconvenience. Don't take anything valuable to work until you get a locker.

SherbetVodka Mon 28-Jan-13 10:40:00

Thanks for that. Really helpful smile

You don't have to take all your things to work so I can't imagine they have a legal obligation to provide somewhere to store your things. Just leave your stuff at home and hang your jacket in the staff room.

DontmindifIdo Mon 28-Jan-13 10:40:11

Any pockets in your uniform you can stick a tenner and card in and your phone?

If not, I would ask your boss again what's the policy if things go missing when your bag was left unsecured against your request otherwise? Would the company automatically replace everything without question?

Also ask if there's anyone who works different shifts you can 'buddy' with for lockers.

GilmoursPillow Mon 28-Jan-13 10:40:41

I can't help with the legalities (so therefore have nothing of any use to offer you) but I can understand why you're not happy with the situation. What if something went missing from your bag? How would you prove it, and would anyone take responsibility?

Rosa Mon 28-Jan-13 10:42:30

If they expect you to leave your posessions they should provide you with a secure place to leave them IMO . Even if it is just your keys and a phone. Or you stick them in your pocket ( phone off obviously) until they sort it out.

I don't think you are being unreasonable and your working environment sounds delightful! Do you have an employees handbook that states anything about them providing lockers for personal items?

Not sure about the legality's (sp?) but sounds like they are being extremely difficult. in my experience, (from years ago working at supermarkets) supermarket managers are @ssholes who treat their staff like $hit. Most of it is insecurities as the workers are generally smarter than them, and they like to throw their power around in a pathetic manner. Sorry thats not much help ! I used to keep my valuables (keys, cashcard etc) in my pocket, rings on my bra strap. I'm sorry I can't offer any advice, try posting in employment ?
(If anyone is a supermarket manager - not meaning to offend you BTW! sure there are some lovely supermarket managers around)

Surely if they insist you can't keep your things on you, then yes, they need to provide you somewhere secure to store them!
Is this normal? I had no idea

I would stick a tenner and my card in my bra, I could even fit my front door key in there too, maybe a mobile if it was fairly compact wink

myroomisatip Mon 28-Jan-13 10:48:31

I do not think you are being unreasonable at all. Do you drive to work? Could you leave your valuables in the boot of your car?

Second the suggestion about an employees handbook or is there anything in your contract?

What I used to do was ignore store policy and keep a tenner and my phone (on silent) tucked in my bra. They would check pockets sometimes, even shoes occasionally! Never underwear though... We had lockers, but they were still quite easy to break in to, so I preferred to only leave my change of shoes and coat in them. No idea of legalities though I'm afraid.

SanityClause Mon 28-Jan-13 10:50:37

What about getting one of those around the neck money purse things people use for traveling?

I agree it's pretty crap that you can't take your bag into work, though.

RuleBritannia Mon 28-Jan-13 10:51:27

I would not be satisfied wth the OP's situation. I had a what became temporary job at Tesco and was allocated a different locker every day. I wasn't very keen on it because sometimes there was muck left in it from the day before 'occupant'. I took just a lunch box and purse because there was no room in it for anything else - certainly no room for a handbag so it was obviously felt that staff should take nothing to work with them. The lockers were about the size of a box that you buy children's shoes in (if that). If I shopped there at lunchtime, those bags just had to be left in the locker room for all and sundry to see.

My husband used to take me by car so I didn't have a car in the car park to leave anything in (in the boot).

I did disobey one rule. We were not supposed to take anything to the till with us but I had a small upright box in which I kept a pair of spectacles and a pen. I was allowed to have a tissue in my pocket though.

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 28-Jan-13 10:57:51

I like the suggestions of tucking your key, a tenner, and your ring into your bra. Could you maybe wear one of those wallets for tourists that lie next to the skin (either a belt or one that hangs around your neck.)

DO NOT stick a tenner in your pocket. If you get randomly searched (and it is policy in supermarkets I worked in for staff to be picked at random to empty their pockets) you will be accused of theft. Do you drive to work at all? If yes, could you leave your stuff locked in the boot of your car? YANBU though. They should be providing a safe place for you to leave your things, although I'm not sure on legalities.

KatyTheCleaningLady Mon 28-Jan-13 10:59:54

By the way, they sell such wallets to fit around the leg or ankle.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now