It’s been a big week for me at Ralph’s Mega-Mart. Starting Sunday, I am now a full-time employee.

Since everyone starts as a part-time employee, I wasn’t sure how one moved to full-time. Since there are so few of them, I thought maybe someone had to die, and the interested person with the most seniority would move up. Or you had to be there a certain amount of time (if you survived 10 years, they figured you weren’t going anywhere and they might as well offer you benefits.)  Turns out it is not quite that difficult. The requirement is that you average 36 hours/week for 2 consecutive quarters. Of course, it is management’s responsibility to ensure that (virtually) no one averages 36 hours/week.

Luckily, I work in the deli, the graveyard of hopes and dreams in the store. It seems that no matter how many people they hire, they never have enough stay to staff the place. So I have been working full-time hours as a part-time employee for awhile.

Not so luckily, it has taken a couple of tries to get the status change. They really don’t like full-time employees because of the benefit costs (heaven knows the hourly rate isn’t going to to break them). I could have switched in January except I was sick for a week in October (they also really hate it when their employees get sick or injured – destroys productivity). Because we don’t get sick-time (surprise!), it was considered an unpaid leave. A week with no hours messes with the average of a part-time employee (guessing it’s all part of the low pay/high expectations charm of the big-box culture). So I had to start over again in January.

By July 1, I had the numbers. However, you have to ask to be made full-time. And apparently you have to ask right away.  I asked the Admin Asst (of course we don’t have anyone who does HR) on the 9th and was told that I had to talk to management immediately. I only knew I had to ask because one of the other employees had told me during my first month of the job. (At the time I thought she was crazy – why would anyone want to be there full-time. Of course that was before I realized that I would never make enough money there to go to the doctor for the rest of my life.)

So I went to my Team Leader to tell her that I wanted to go full-time. It was her first day as TL (both of the previous two people in the position left as broken women), and she wanted to know why I was telling her. She called her boss (they have weird titles there, and I can’t remember his).

He met with me and told me that I would need to be fully available. We went over my attendance. I cannot get used to using a time-clock and being required to take breaks. If you are a minute late in the morning, at break, or on lunch, the clock forgives you. Otherwise you get “written up”. I’m not sure why we did the review, the rules don’t say anything about needing to be point-free to change status (although by this point I’m wondering if the whole thing might be pointless.)

So I was eligible and the change was made (to their credit, it was the beginning of the following week). I now have more vacation days, a better 401(k) match, better health care, and some change to my pension that I don’t remember. When I hired in they told me that I was not eligible for the hourly pension; the benefit system says I have been since my hire date (they really need HR people).

So am I a happy clam now? Relatively speaking, yes. Total availability means that I have to work whenever they schedule me. I am not overly worried about being put on midnights – it requires a $0.25/hr premium. The manager-guy told me my hours wouldn’t change – of course, I couldn’t see the asterisk saying it was subject to change at any time. I am no longer allowed to take unpaid time off. So I guess if some kind of crisis arises, I need to call in. That gives me a “point” on my record (which I guess is their idea of a deterrent). If I know I need a day off, I have to work on one of my regularly scheduled off days. So basically, I am at their mercy as to when I need to be there (I’m not really sure how that differs significantly from part-time). Like everything else there, I’m sure

So I guess I officially have a “real” job. My professors would be so proud of me.

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