In a perfect world, companies work together with their employees to achieve success. The employees work hard on the company's behalf and in return, the company helps them reach their goals both financially and professionally. Both parties treat each other with dignity and respect, knowing that without each other, they wouldn't be where they are.
In reality, this is rarely true.
Just as there are plenty of people who work for companies they don't like and aren't always invested in the company's long term success, there are many companies who treat their employees in a way that is not so fair. Especially when the economy is bad, employers know that they have the upper hand and can get away with all sorts of bad behavior. Not all companies work like this, but I'm sure that you have probably seen or worked with a few.
These companies take advantage of their employees and job seekers, without much thought of the consequences. If you are thinking of working for a business that treats applicants poorly, it's a huge red flag that they are even worse to the people they actually hire.
Here are some of the most common ways that employers take advantage of employees and job seekers:
- They interview people they don't intend to hire - This has happened to me on a couple of occasions. I submit a resume and get a call back inviting me to interview. Once I arrive at the office for my interview, it becomes clear that they are hiring for a different position entirely or they don't actually have a job opening. Sometimes, companies like to have a ready pool of qualified applicants just in case a job opens up. Other times, they are simply interviewing people even though they already know who they are going to hire. They don't want to just promote someone into the position without at least going through the motions of looking for employees. It saves time for them, but for the applicant, they have to spend money on gas, dry cleaning and get their hopes up for no good reason.
- Unpaid Internships - This is becoming more common over the past few years. It used to be that internships were only for college students, as a way to get real world job experience along with college credit. These days, companies offer full time internships that offer no pay as a way for unemployed workers to get job experience or avoid gaps in their resume. Often, they promise that after the internship is completed, there will be a chance of paid employment. Often, these jobs will be few and only given to the very best of the interns. In the meantime, the company benefits from the free labor of desperate people.
- Cutting back hours - For hourly workers, this one happens all the time. These companies hire more people than they need for part time work. Then they make sure that none of their employees work more than say 10-20 hours a week. This way, they are always hungry for more hours and are willing to take odd shifts and cover for other employees at the last minute. This is convenient for the company, but makes it difficult for the employee to keep another part time job. What's more, if they don't like a certain employee, all they have to do is cut their hours down to less than 5 a week and wait for the person to quit. If the employee quits, then they won't be eligible for any unemployment benefit. As an added benefit, having only part time employees keeps the company from having to offer the same benefits and protections that they would have to give a full time employee.
- Discriminate against older workers, or those that have an illness or children - Even though it is illegal for a company to fire someone because of a disability or because of family status, it happens all the time. They key is that they don't have to say why they are firing you and they can make up any reason they'd like. When an employee has a medical condition, it causes the company to have to pay a much larger health insurance premium. This makes it much more tempting to find a reason to fire the person instead of being saddled with the extra expense. Also, some businesses hire salaried workers and try to make sure that they only hire those who could be able to work long hours without complaint, therefore, they pass over those who are older or who have children.
- Harassment and safety violations - When the job market is as tough as it is now, employers know that they can get away with more wrongdoing. Many employees are hesitant to report harassment or safety violations because they don't want to lose their jobs.
- Forcing workers to be independent contractors - There are many situations where it is beneficial to be an independent contractor. However, some companies hire people and require them to work as a contractor. This means that the company doesn't have to extend any sort of benefits or protections to the employee. Then, the employee has to take all of the risk, carry business insurance, pay their own taxes and still is required to behave like an employee.
Some of these things are almost abusive, and luckily, the majority of companies don't do this sort of thing. It's still important to know that this type of conduct happens so you can be sure to avoid working for these types of businesses.
Have you ever had these things happen to you? Are there other things that employers do that aren't fair? Let me know in the comments.
By Melissa Kennedy- Melissa is a 9 year blog veteran and a freelance writer for FinancialJobBank. Along with helping others find the job of their dreams, she enjoys computer geekery, raising a teenager, supporting her local library, writing about herself in the third person and working on her next novel.