Q: My daughter worked as a visual display manager for a department store for seven years. Her store closed, and she was transferred to another store 61 miles away to do the same job. This location requires her to drive 1 1/2 hours each way. Her husband is unemployed, so she needs this job. She also cannot sell her house, as the housing market is at a standstill, and the job market is tight.
She worked late Friday, which brought her home after 11 p.m. She then had to start work the following morning at 8:30, which meant she had to get up at 5 a.m. She confided that she had dozed for a few seconds while driving, which frightened her and me. She rarely has two days off in a row, so it's difficult for her to be able to rest. Could she have prevented the employer from transferring her this distance?
A: The conditions for a severance or a transfer depend on the company's "reduction in workforce" policy, according to Dr. Valeria J. Stokes, an expert in human resources. Because the store closed and the company offered a comparable position about 50 miles away, Stokes suspects the relocation policy did not apply for someone at your daughter's level. Had your daughter not accepted the offer for a comparable position, she would not have qualified for a severance, and her refusal of such an offer would have been the same as resigning.
Your daughter has several options. The transfer offer shows that the company values her work. Stokes suggests she request "supportive assistance. In lieu of moving, she could ask for a housing allowance of two days a week; flexible work hours, such as telecommuting or working from home on Fridays or Mondays; or travel expenses for commuting to the store."
Her driving while exhausted endangers not only her life but also those of others on the road. If the company offers to reimburse her for travel expenses, it also might approve reimbursement for motel stays when she must work late and arrive early the next morning. Even without a reimbursement benefit, your daughter should compare the amount of money spent on gas with the amount needed for a night at a motel. She even might consider finding a room to rent part time in the new area for when she has no time to travel between work and home.
Despite the tight housing market in her area, it would be a good idea to list her house, because one never knows when the right buyer might come along. Her husband should consider looking for a job in the town where she now works so they could possibly travel together and stay together overnight.
Owner Fooled by Two-Faced Manager
Q: When I interviewed for a job, I met with both the owner and the manager at the same time. When the owner excused himself, the manager said things to me that were totally inappropriate. She said she was only there temporarily and was working toward owning her own store and stealing his clients. When he entered the room, she turned into a different person. I could tell he knew nothing about her two-faced personality. I also know I could do her job far better than she can. Can I say something to him without looking cutthroat?
A: It sounds as if you want to warn him about her unprofessionalism. It is not wrong of her to want her own store; it is wrong — and, in fact, stupid — of her to tell you about her plans while interviewing you. It's likely he will discover her intentions eventually without your saying a word. If you get the job, you will have a chance to show him that you are a great employee — and loyal, at that. When he gets to know you, your words will have greater value than they do now, seeing as you are a stranger to him. Hold off on the warning and you will come out ahead.