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Put in a difficult position and no support given

(11 Posts)
lololizzy Thu 13-Oct-11 13:42:20

I am an assistant manager for a well known charity shop. The manager left and has not been replaced as yet (probably given that the salary advertised is so appallingly low- basically an unliveable wage).
I am meant to be working part time (three days a week) but readily agreed to do more days while they look for her replacement. However, by that I meant doing 5 or 6 days a week...recently it's turned into 7 days (ie whole of last month) and I am exhausted and rundown.
The bigger issue however, is the way I am being treated.
Perhaps I am wrong here (and would welcome all opinions on this) and not being responsible enough (having said that, going from 3 to 7 days a week doesn't exactly show irresponsibility..more that I DO care about my shop trading and not having to shut due to staff shortage) but I feel unhappy that in order to get a day off each week, this is something I have to arrange myself..
Neither HR nor my Area Manager will arrange cover for me to have a day off. This is something I have to do myself, or it simply doesn't happen. This involves every week ringing round several other shops (none of which are local...we don't have another one locally) and basically..grovelling. To someone whom I have never met, to persuade them to come and cover for me. And, it's like getting blood out of a stone. I go through this humiliating ritual every week.
I don't blame them...they don't know me from Adam and have to go and work in a strange shop which involves quite a bit of travel to get too. (they do get expenses paid).
I feel resentful at having been put in this position where I never know till last minute what day off I am getting (if any) so I can't plan my life (no life/work balance). I hate having to beg someone to help me out and then feel in their debt. I didn't choose to be left without a manager but i do take my role seriously and care about the shop. But why should i feel guilty or overly grateful for someone giving me a day off when i was forced into this position?
Yesterday I had to go to a manager's meeting (although i am not a manager). This caused huge disruption/problems getting cover and my shop nearly did not open. I've just heard someone had to be found from another store that are not meant to ever provide cover for me.
I am now in big trouble over this and have had someone screaming down the phone at me at the problems this caused yesterday (i was not aware this had happened until later, as away at meeting in a different part of the country). Without wishing to pass the buck, i feel this is so unjust. I did not have a choice over this meeting. It is not my fault they are so slow to recruit a new manager who wouldve been at the meeting instead of me.
Today I did manage to get a day off (luckily) but feel sick at the thought of going back tomorrow and having to face the music. I am so tired and full of anxiety.
The Area Manager is not supportive. But i know if i go above her head (to HR) she hates this (ie people that do this) and will make my life hell. I cannot win.

hairylights Thu 13-Oct-11 16:19:23

Firstly, I would go tot he doctor and be signed off sick for two weeks.

Then, at the end of the second week, I would write and tell them that you are unable to work 6-7 days per week, and that you are therefore not going to be opening on XXX and YYY days each week.

I would speak to someone more senior than the person that shouted down the phone at you and put in a grievance about their behaviour and about the unreasonable expectations which were put upon you in terms of working 7 days per week. Any employer that expects you to work 7 days per week, four weeks running, is frankly off their rocker.

purplewerepidj Thu 13-Oct-11 16:30:13

I don't know any charity shops open on a Sunday, so I suggest you shut down then. That gives you one day a week off.

It must be a nightmare finding volunteers for 7 days per week, do you have a particular person or group of people who are trustworthy and experienced? Would you be able to open up, leave them to it for the day, then go back to cash up and lock the doors? it wouldn't give you a proper day off but would at least be some kind of a break.

Alternatively, start looking for another job. Assistant Manager of any shop is good experience for a CV...

amistillsexy Thu 13-Oct-11 16:47:01

Are you a paid worker, OP? Does the shop have any volunteers? If not, is there a reason for this (ie The atmoshphere has put them off)?

If you are a volunteer, then you simply don't open the shop unless you are scheduled to or you feel like giving the time.

If you are a paid worker, then you need to get in touch with your union (Unison?). If you aren't a member of a union, then you need to be. The way you are beingtreated is despicable, and, I suspect, not legal.

I know it's hard, but you need to deal assertively with the AM. Tell her calmly that you could see no other option than to ask this person to cover for the meeting, and if she has another option, then she should have made it known to you. Let her know that you are prepared to work (X) hours a week, and that you are not able to find alternative cover, as the other staff are unwilling to do it. Frankly, I should have thought it was the AM's job to liasse with other shops and organise cover for the shop manager.

Please don't let this all fall on your shoulders. You have been dumped on, and you now have to sit down and think about what YOU want out of your working life!

lololizzy Thu 13-Oct-11 18:34:55

I do get paid, minimum wage, as I have a management role and do a huge amount of paperwork as well as all the heavy dirty lifting/sorting and the running of shop and volunteers etc.
It is in my contract to cover when manager is absent. She went sick for her month's notice hence i did 7 days a week, I couldn't get out of that and was fully prepared to do that, which i did. Now she's worked her notice period, i can't really be covering for a person that (in the eyes of the company) no longer exists!
They have only just stopped trading Sundays, so at least will get that day off.
But I am so massively behind everything on account of working so much in Sept.
I have fertility problems (and childless) and much to think about/decisions to make on that score,the way things are right now I can't get to see doctor again, nor spend much time with my fiance. As I said, no life /work balance.
Work is thin on the ground and it took me ages to get this job.
Purple', only a key volunteer is allowed to do that, but she is on bereavement leave and ill as well. So I wouldn't dream of contacting her,or even expecting her back.
Area Managers used to organise cover but conveniently for them, no longer have to. It's the same with holidays. If we can't organise cover (again,more grovelling to other shops) we lose the holiday, we don't get paid for it, and can't carry it over either.
It would be a sackable offence for me to not open the shop unless I had called in sick. I don't want to do that and just wish for more support.
I think will have to contact HR but i know the last time an assistant manager did that..he got sacked as she (AM) says she should be the first port of call and not going above her head. I recently sent her a letter saying I could no longer work 7 days and asking for more support. She rang me up to have a go at me for wasting her time with a letter and that everything should be done by phone. However, she is always impatient on phone and talks people out of things. I guess that's why she didn't like a letter,she couldn't immediately answer back.

lololizzy Thu 13-Oct-11 18:36:15

I am not in a Union, I have no experience of one in all my working history. Worth looking into.
I know that HR is there to support workers, but i also know what happened to others that went to HR above their AM's.

lololizzy Thu 13-Oct-11 18:37:14

If worst scenario and I do get signed off sick (not by choice but I am nearly at breaking point) do i get paid?

TeamDamon Thu 13-Oct-11 18:53:52

As others have said, you need to deal with this more assertively. The immediate necessity is to join a union, as you will then have access to legal advice. For a start, if you are working seven days a week, unless you are working under seven hours a day, your employers are breaching your right to work no more than 48 hours a week. You also have the legal right to 24 hrs clear of work per week. A union will be able to take this up with your Area Manager.

TeamDamon Thu 13-Oct-11 18:56:17

You need to go to this site which is full of useful information. It will help you feel more prepared to take this up with your AM.

GreenBlueRed Thu 13-Oct-11 19:18:28

Send HR a copy of the letter you sent and the reply you received, with a covering letter to say you are no longer prepared to do x, y and z as you have been doing as gesture of goodwill and could they advise what steps they will be taking to ensure that you are supported in your return to your contracted duties and hours. Make it polite and concise, and very clear that youmhave done the company a favour until now but it is not sustainable for you. Request a formal response within a timeframe (say two weeks?), and say you look forward to hearing from them within this time.

You sound like an excellent employee, by the way, so have confidence when applying for other work!

purplewerepidj Thu 13-Oct-11 20:29:59

Lodge a formal grievance against the AM for her stinking attitude (I'm sure someone legally minded can help you phrase that better!)

Did you sign to opt out of the Working Time Directive thingy? If not, they can't make you do more than 48 hours pw. How many are you averaging at the moment?

Your AM is in the wrong here, I'm sure. She is your line manager and is treating you appallingly, totally taking advantage. You are well within your rights to take it higher!

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