Monday, March 7, 2011

"Illegal Music - Part 2"

Yes, I am still without my precious tunes at the office, I miss them so much!

I spoke to the VP of Operations today. I told her that I understood her point of view that she feels
headphones are unprofessional looking and wondered if headphones could be allowed if we were not having any special visitors, i.e. it is not a dress up day (we wear casual business attire there, suit up for special occasions and visitors).

Unknown to me, this was an issue covered in February's monthly staff meeting which was held on a day I was not working. Someone put the idea of banning headphones into the suggestion box! Off with their head I say! The VP also told me they were written up in the minutes... minutes? Someone is keeping minutes at these things? Seems the woman who takes the minutes does not use the group set up in the mail system to send the minutes to all employees; I am now a part of that list.

I wish I would not have missed that meeting because I would have had a few constructive things to say!

Can you believe someone put the "no headphone rule" in the suggestion box, WTF? It seems certain people thought others using headphones were using them on their phones or other devices for "illegal" during business hour purposes. The people in my area record the minutes of the Board meetings and use the headphones so they can type out the minutes. Listening to the minutes and transferring them to paper is a difficult process that I am lucky enough not to have to do. Most the meetings the Board members all call in, mostly on cell phones, so that makes it more difficult to hear what was said, and to type out the minutes. I am sure when someone is transcribing minutes, they are concentrating so hard they do not hear a phone ring, do not hear someone call out their name.

Due to this "suggestion" a new rule was added to the employee handbook: headphone use is not permitted during business hours however, you can listen to a radio low.

My "neighborhood" at the office needs silence (at least one person does). I am sure a radio, regardless of tastes in music, will go over real well. If the wifi was working, I could play music on my iPod without my headphones like I do when I am there late and by myself, but I know that won't work; I can not win!

I get super bored with how slow my computer is, the silence is deafening and whispering distracts me more than normal conversation. I keep my music on low enough so that I can hear everyone around me. I answer to my name as I am taking off the headphones and answer the phone the same way. I was talking enthusiastically to a client on the phone one day and I ended up with my silence needing neighbor knocking on my desk, asking me to cut the call short. She was a tad rude but she was trying to transcribe board minutes and apologized for her approach later; it was a business call after all.

A group at the other end of the office play an iPod through speakers but no one in that area seems to mind and unfortunately, I have to stay at the desk I am at.

I don't want others who are lucky enough to have neighbors that appreciate a little background music to lose their privileges but I feel I am losing out because of one person, I believe it is only the one person, who needs absolute silence. She has been on vacation this week and I have noticed more talking going on, the volume on the talking a tad louder than usual.

I need my music, I don't know how to get it. What do I need to go on music breaks instead of smoking breaks? That won't cut it for me. Doesn't seem right for me to be penalized when I do my job, do it well and frankly, when I am enjoying my tunes I feel I get more done. The music keeps me awake, alert and happy.

Though I know the rule won't be changed, I have a meeting with my supervisor and am going to mention, in a business like way, how I can not have access to music without headphones. I am sure nothing will change, but at least I will have said my peace. Like with one of their other unbelievably stupid office policies that will someday bite them in the butt for sure. They'll be bitten not from or by me, but by their policy that breaks a cardinal rule and why does it break a rule? For convenience. Hmmm, I seem to remember a question on one of their applications that convenience is not a reason to break a different rule: interesting!

Well, I am an IT person and health care provider. I learned to keep business secrets long, long ago whatever they may involve to myself, but damn, I can't listen to music: that is sacrilegious!


Peace, love, health, hugs and hopefully access to music for you, meryl xoxoxo

Friday, March 4, 2011

"Illegal Music"

I want to be able to listen to music while I work at the office and found out yesterday my headphones (actually they are ear pods) are illegal as well! I have been working at this office two years in June.

I do my work, I answer my phone, I can hear others call my name without them shouting or disrupting others and take them off when someone is talking to me or I am on the phone, what is the problem? People with private offices play music over their computer speakers. I am in a sea of cubicles!

I got scolded for talking with a customer a decibel too loud, I’d be shot if I tried to listen to music through my PC THOUGH the “scolder” (a manager) plays CDs on her PC with and without headphones and that is ok… and through her iPhone as well; I have an iPod.

Wonder if I can get in paid music breaks like the smokers do? I personally cannot live without music; it relaxes me, helps me to focus and entertains me. For me, this is a much bigger more important issue since the office prefers silence and whispering, which drives me mad! (I am not the only one who feels this way.) I find whispering much more distracting than a little background noise or conversation. If I need a little quiet, I put on my music or take an unpaid break to clear my head.

I have come up with a compromise I am going to bring up to the VP of Operations; she is the one who disapproves of headphones. And no, it will not be I use ear pods and others use headphones OR I have an iPod and others are using iPhones and maybe texting illegally as well… It’s a viable solution, just don’t know if she will allow it or not.

If you don’t try you can’t fail… or succeed either!

I was also recently told all cell phones are supposed to be inside the desk. I have mine out, on silent, not even on vibrate, God forbid my father has an emergency and also I used to have another part time job. I treated each one equally as far as cell phone and email receipt, reading and response. I am a professional after all! Oh yes and an adult too!

Peace, love, hugs, health, music... meryl xoxo

"Breast Feeding Laws: Federal and State"

Check Federal and if there is a specific law for your state. It is posted on the National Conference of State Legislatures Website (blogger not cooperating with links). Search for breastfeeding laws.

I should have known NYS puts in an unpaid break clause… I read the Federal, no other state. The only legislation I could find regarding smoking is that smokers must smoke in designated areas only. OK equality that both need designated areas to occur: that’s it!

I am sure the laws were put into affect so a woman is guaranteed the choice to continue breastfeeding. This particular company is mostly women. Every company I have worked at that is mostly women is low on the pay scale but high on the intangibles: we are allowed to eat at our desks, flexible schedules, holidays, monthly bagel breakfast, etc. Many people go out for their hour lunch break to do errands THEN eat lunch at their desk. Maybe this is a solution that would work? Lunch is unpaid time off? Somehow I don’t think mom can eat her lunch and pump milk simultaneously.

If a woman wants to pump and store breast milk for her child she should be given the facilities and privacy to do this: I agree. Smokers should be allowed to smoke in the designated areas (at our building that is 50 feet from entrances): I agree. (Though where I work, I always choke because they smoke 10 feet from the doors as I walk into work but different issue.)

I still do not comprehend how NYS can regulate one type of paid break and not regulate all paid breaks? The issue is not male/female, mom/not mom, nursing/non-nursing, or smoker/non-smoker. The issue is discrimination, plain and simple, over the type of break and how the Law is not treating breaks equally.

Whatever the number of breaks/total time a company allows employees to take (our lunch is unpaid time off, of course) I think that is when all texting, smoking, breast pumping, non-work tasks should take place. Allowing one group of people a paid break whenever they want for one reason while penalizing another group for their reason is discrimination. I guess the mom’s who receive phone calls from a sick child should punch out as well? I am guess this is what the Company policy may come to: punching out for all breaks.

I would love to be a mom BUT I am so glad I do not have to deal with this issue. No matter how you look at it, it is not an easy decision to make. Babies are healthier being breast fed their first year of life but this law makes mom have to stay at work longer to nourish her child properly? To breast feed or to not breast feed becomes a harder decision to decide and keep when you need two incomes… as the smokers say goodnight the nursing mom’s are putting in extra time to make up for milking time: does not compute!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Smoke Breaks and Nursing Mom Breaks Not Treated the Same?!"

This issue actually has me appalled!

Let me start off with I am a former smoker (it reeks havoc on my sinuses, allergies and migraines) and I have no children.

This is not a bash on smokers; this is not a bash on moms (I wish I had kids). We have at least four pregnant women at the office now and at least three smokers. Our company had its monthly meeting and mentioned some additions to the employee handbook.

Women who want to nurse their babies for the first year, which means the whole breast pump thing, storing the milk, etc., have to be provided with accommodations to do so. Fine, I think that is the right thing to do, arrange a private place where they can do this end of subject, right? The moms have to make arrangements to take unpaid time to do this. I am told this can be done during a "normal" 15 minute break. (At a previous job my supervisor would do this two times a day, 30 minutes per session. I do not remember if she was using her lunch hour for this or not, it was ten years ago.)

I was led to believe the smokers in the office were punching in and out when they went out for a smoking break but this is not the case. I do not know if anyone abuses the paid smoking breaks or not.

To me, as long as if does not keep me from doing my job, or overly delaying getting my job done, I could care less what others are doing. I take care of myself.

We get an hour lunch break and are allowed to take a reasonable "coffee break" or two to go downstairs to get food, a little fresh air or just stretch our legs. Our office is very warm most days so the extra trips to the restroom are very welcome to get fresh air and to stretch a bit.

When I used to smoke (in high school and college) during a "work/school" day I would smoke at least 6-8 cigarettes let's say 5 minutes each break making 30-40 minutes per day.

According to this law (they say it is law, I have to look it up) if a woman wants to pump breast milk, she has to take unpaid time. Is it just me or does anyone else see a discrepancy? There is a law about time for being a mom but none over smoking breaks? Male dominated government? Tobacco industry lobbying? Other reason(s)? I am no politician but it does not compute for me. (I have to look into the specifics of this law...)

To me, if you are taking extra breaks whatever the reason, they should all be treated equally as unpaid time, should be considered part of your lunch break, or you should put in extra time to make up for the extra break(s).

My posts tend to stir up some controversy, which is great actually. I am interested in what others feel about this issue and to reiterate, I am not picking on the smokers or the moms who want to nurse. I am picking on how the law/company is treating extra break time. I know life is not fair but…

I got it! This is how unemployment gets “solved”, all the mom’s who want to nurse their children quit their jobs!

Peace, love, hugs, meryl xoxoxo