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Alls well that ends well

I found out Monday morning that topup benefits are no longer provided by my company. So instead of getting 75% of my salary while I’m off for 12 weeks on paternity leave I’ll only get the government benefits.

That came as a pretty big shock.

My direct manager didn’t tell me. The head of HR didn’t tell me. The HR Rep who I met with last week to sign off on the pat leave papers didn’t tell me. I only found out because the payroll supervisor thought to ask me in an email thread if I was aware of this.

Uhhhh no.

My first thought was anger. At everyone above. For not having the decency to let me know a hell of a lot earlier about this change of company policy. My second thought was about the legality of this. It had been well known among management that I was going to be taking this time last year when Aline began her maternity leave. How could they possibly have the right to make this change effective as of July 1st this year and have that overide the entitlements that had already been put into place with the birth of our son last December?

I stewed about it for an hour.

Yes, times are tough right now. The economy is in shambles and our parent company based in the US has obviously seen this as a rich benefits package that can be slashed and so they’ve gone ahead and done so. Maybe our Canadian management had no choice. Maybe they sacrificed it willingly. Who knows.

I thought about the time I’d put into this company. Almost 12 years now. And this is how a longtime employee was being treated. My anger disipated into disappointment. I’ve been seeing the shift from a smaller company and family atmosphere disappear bit by bit as we’ve grown larger and obviously more so since we were bought out by our American parents.

Fuck them I thought. I’m still taking the time. And I almost hope they do run into some issue where they need my help while I’m off. Good luck trying to track me down and getting me to respond. Sadly, this is all I’ve got to fight back with.

You get what you give. If this is how I was going to be treated then they could certainly expect the same treatment back. No more overtime. No more cheerful: Sure, I can get that for you today. What kind of culture were they creating with this kind of miscommunication? A sad one.

Still, I shouldn’t just take this sitting down without making a small fuss about it. Maybe it is a legitimate mistake and I just need to speak up. I called the Employee Standards Act and an old HR manager friend of mine. Then I went to go see my manager and made the following argument: I found out this morning for the first time that company benefits no longer include topups for paternity leave and there appear to be some confusion with HR as to whether or not I should be receiving these benefits.

When Aline filled out her plan last year it was under the terms that she was going to take nine months of maternity leave and I would take the final three with both of us topped up to the 75 percent of our salaries during our time off.

The change in policy became effective with the new fiscal year so it’s my contention that the topup should still be in effect for me because the change came well after our mat/pat leave agreement. I’ve always had a good relationship with my manager. I think he’s a smart guy who does want to do the right thing by his staff. He has kids of his own and understands family values.

He gave the me the company line about revenues being down the toilet and how he’s lost a lot of control in the merger. As I suspected, NYC saw the benefits package as something easy to slash and did so. He didn’t think he had the power to override the decision on my behalf. I asked if there were any other creative options he thought could be negotiated. I was perfectly content to maybe take a bonus when times were better in lieu. He looked me in the eye and said he didn’t have power over that either anymore. He did say however, he would look into it and see if there was anything that could be done.

Yesterday afternoon we met up again and he said he had talked it over with his partner and they had decided to press ahead with my argument and grandfather me into the old benefit plan and hope they wouldn’t get called on it.

I thanked him and shook his hand.

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