the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur (plonq) wrote,
the Sweet Smell of Burning Fur
plonq

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All I want for Christmas is a job that doesn't suck

My co-developer on this project of failure quit while I was away at MFF this year, mostly because of this project and the way it has been handled. He and his wife decided that he was better off giving up after 20 years with the company rather than continuing to live with stress that was slowly killing him. They have 3-4 developers trying to wrap up and fix his work in their insane push to get this ill-advised product into production whether it is finished or not.

I have been left entirely on my own to deal with the same volume of work - more, actually, because he was still working through defects for a few days while I was away on vacation.

Speaking of vacation, I am still not sure if I am going to get any time off for Christmas or the New Year.

I had been putting in vacation requests over the course of the year this year, adding requests for things that I knew were coming up, or just taking long weekends when I needed some time to regain my sanity. Toward the end of summer, they started getting on my case to allocate the last ten days I had not booked yet. I put in for a few long weekends, but I had to juggle around the needs of projects I was on, and I had to take my on call weeks into consideration.

For the last six days, I tacked three of them onto the end of our MFF vacation to give me a little extra time to get some Christmas shopping done and do some stuff around the house. I tacked on the other three days after Christmas, so that I could have a nice little block of time coming up to the new year. The problem around Christmas and the New Year was that I was scheduled for "secondary" on-call duties over Christmas (basically tasked with handling service issues, and being a back-up in case the primary on-call person was unavailable), and I was scheduled for 24/7 "primary" on-call duties over the new year (first responder when issues came up).

Since they do not allow one vacation when he is on call, I couldn't take Christmas. On the other hand, my boss gave me tentative permission to take the New Year vacation on the condition that I found somebody to cover the support rotation in my stead. Since one of my co-workers owed me a week, I approached him and he agreed to cover it. He had been planning to offer to cover that week if I had not approached him first, so it was all good. I let my boss know, and assumed that's where it would end.

Obviously that is not where it ended, or I would not be writing about it here. We had a department re-org happen shortly after this all went down, and my boss was suddenly no longer my boss. Unfortunately, I did not know that he had not officially approved my vacation request by this point, so it was still in limbo.

In the meantime, in all the stress, missed deadlines and general confusion surrounding this failing project, both I and the PM forgot that I had extended my vacation time earlier in the year. My Outlook calendar, and the resource sheet all showed me coming back last Thursday, so that's when I returned to work. It was this past weekend when I went in to double-check my days off so that I could book a flight for the New Year that I discovered the problem. I sent my new manager a note about it, explaining how I had accidentally worked through some of my vacation time. She was understanding, though not entirely pleased. She said that she would speak with the managing director to let me defer the vacation time until next week. Under that plan, this Friday would be my last day and I would be off until January.

This would have conflicted with my stint on secondary support, but the company eliminated that role a couple of weeks back because they did not want to have to keep paying out the small stipend that went with it. That was the first good news I have got from this place in months. Naturally it couldn't last.

Later on Monday, I got an email from one of the other directors, noting that I had no approved vacation time through the end of the year, so he was putting me on support for the rest of the year because of all the vacancies. When I explained the vacation situation to him, he immediately went crying to the managing director. Yesterday morning my manager advised me that my vacation was "up in the air" again, and that she would have to get back to me later with a revised plan.

I have not heard back from her yet, but the clock is ticking. As of Friday, they either have to give me all of my vacation time through to the end of the year, or they they will have to defer it until next year. They have a strict policy against carrying over vacation from year to year, and it can only be done in exceptional circumstances, and only with approval from a vice president.

But, of course, there is an additional complication.

There is a potential work stoppage next year, and in preparation for lining up managers as possible deployment to the field, they have put an embargo on all vacation time until May.

There are a couple of possible scenarios.

Best case: they give me my vacation time as my manager had agreed, starting on Monday and running to the new year.

Worst case: they decide not to give me the time off and pay them out as cash. I need some time away from this place. What I don't need is a lump cash payout that will be taxed to insignificance.

Second worst case: the VP decides that they will just carry my vacation time over to next year.

This last case is very awkward because it will make for a logistical nightmare. As we all knew would happen, the new management regime has brought in all manner of arbitrary and mean-spirited rules like they did when they were running our competitors, and some of those rules make vacation time a bit tricky to take. First, I would have over seven weeks of vacation to try and allocate next year. I know, many people wish they had that problem. But...

- I would have to try and fit those into a half-year slot because of the current embargo.
- They do not allow more than two consecutive weeks without VP approval.
- Vacation time must be approved by, and coordinated with any project one is on (and my current role is 100% project work going forward).
- There is a limit to how many people from a given department may be away at any given time.
Tags: work
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