Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sounds like a union job to me!

It seems the German police will now have to accommodate their officers in new ways. The Daily Mail reports:

A policeman in Germany has won an extra week's holiday a year because of the time it takes him to get dressed for duty each day.

Officer Martin Schauder, 44, calculated that it took him 15 minutes to put on his regulation undershirt, trousers, belt holding truncheon, handcuffs, weapon and gas canister, overshirt, tunic, boots, protective kneepads (when on riot control) and gloves - and a further 15 minutes to take it off.

The officer with the police in the university city of Muenster in north-west Germany had argued with his superiors for months about either getting a pay rise or time off in lieu.

They refused on both counts saying it was all part of his duties as a policeman.

So he took the force to the city's administrative court - and won.

Now he has an extra seven days annual leave to look forward to - and left the legal profession wondering whether or not his victory will open the floodgates to a whole raft of similar lawsuits.

'We could, in theory, have judges arguing for extra time off because of the amount of time it takes them to robe up, or receptionists claiming overtime for lipstick application as they have to look good for clients,' said legal expert Joachim Wulfmeyer.

. . .

Officer Schauder's case was a test complaint representing over 120 other officers. Granting them all the extra paid week's leave that he is entitled to would seriously challenge the city's police budget at a time of rigid cutbacks.

There's more at the link.

I'm baffled at the requirement to give officers more time to prepare for their shifts and stow their gear afterwards. When working as a prison chaplain, I had to arrive 15-20 minutes early each day, to draw my keys, radio, battery and other security equipment, and make my way through several sets of security gates to my duty station. At the end of my shift, I'd have to do the same in reverse, negotiating the security gates to the front desk, where I'd take off and hand in all my equipment. Sure, it added more than half an hour to my work day, but there was never any question of being compensated for that time - it went with the job. If I wanted to be without that burden, I could always resign and work somewhere else!

I'm afraid I don't have much sympathy for Officer Schauder and his comrades.



WallMouse said...

That's a commendable feeling about something that is a profession or a calling such as being a priest or minister. It's another thing for a job as a wage slave.

Look at you last sentence again: "It added more than half an hour to my work day, but there was never any question of being compensated for that time - it went with the job."

If I just pull that out on it's own, it quite reasonably looks like your point is "of course I get paid for it, it is part of the job".

Another company had a similar case. Employees had to power up their pc's and log in before they could click "start" on their days automated time cards. When they clicked "stop" at the end of the day they then had to log off and power down the machines.

They sued taking the position that once an employee starts doing the things that are part of the job on the job site, at a time specified by the employer then they are on the clock. A judge took one look at their argument and agreed basically saying "uh, duh, that's how we define work."

In most of the United State's a company has two choices. Hourly or Salaried. Salaried means you pay based on performance, not on how many hours are clocked in each day/month/year. Hourly means something else, which is kind of indicated by the name "Hourly". It means for each and every separate hour of my life where I let a company/manager/boss tell me what to do, I get paid an agreed upon amount of money.

I can't see why this is different. If you have to wear a specific uniform, with specific attachments, often provided by the company you get paid.

I don't know this first hand, but my understanding is that when a tech at a nuclear reactor shows up in street cloths and has to change into the station uniform, put on a radiation badge, hard hat, inventory his tools and go through security to get into a plant, he/she is absolutely on the clock. Anything else would make no sense.

Am I missing something? Employment is where an agreement agreement exists exchange my time for a company's money.
If they are taking my time, I am taking their money.

Zdogk9 said...

My view is; If I'm being told what to do, I'm being paid.

DaveG said...

BS on stilts. Put all that stuff on once you get to the office/precinct/cop shop. There, you're on the clock and getting paid while you get dressed. Those of us in the private sector are no longer on the hook to pay for you to get dressed in the morning, something we do every single day for free.

Lupinus said...

So what's next? Expecting to get paid for your transit time to and from work? How about jobs which require a grooming standard, should they compensate for time shaving or a hair cut? Maybe the time it takes to brush my teeth too. Better yet, how about the time it takes me to wipe my backside? I'm sure most company have something on file regarding not smelling like you defecated in your pants.

On the clock is when your are doing your job. Certain things have ALWAYS been considered something done on your own time. Getting dressed is one of these things, and in some professions that means a uniform.

Crucis said...

Off on an tangent...

Way back when I was a field tech covering a territory of seven states, my start time varied. If I went to the office and from there to a site, my date started at my arrival at the office. If, on the other hand, I was prepared and had an immediate assignment, I could leave from home going directly to the site and my pay started when I left home.

It's all a matter of perspective. You can bet a lot of us, me included, prepared for the following day before we left the office.

Was it fair compared to our compatriots in NY and other cities who didn't drive and had to go to the office to pickup parts, tool kits, etc.? I dunno, but it worked for us. We got mileage too starting under the same rules as when pay started.