This Groom’s Employer Wouldn’t Let Him Attend His Own Wedding, Until THIS Happened. Pure Genius.
A person’s wedding day is supposed to be one of the best of their life. Surrounded by friends and family, committing to the one you love, and promising to support them no matter what.
But what happens when the company you work for tries to take all of that away?
Many thanks to Reddit user Bytewave for sharing this story.
The company I work for has a strong labor union, with a solid work contract. There is however a hostile relationship between management and the union on a lot of issues, and partially because of that and to slash costs the company has a policy of giving employees exactly what they need to to stay in minimal legal compliance with our work contract, and never more. This year we learned HR is willing to ruin your wedding if need be to enforce their policy, which they call “Contractual Obligations Only”.
A few months ago, a union member working at tech support fell in love with a girl from Sales CSR. After a very brief courtship, they decided to do something I would generally not recommend, getting married ASAP. They were happy and in love and wanted to be on honeymoon within a few weeks top. They both had a very short list of people to invite to their wedding so they were okay with arranging it at a few weeks’ notice.
This called for them to take vacations on short notice, which the work contract mandates given a notice of 10 business days. Usually, people think of it as ‘two weeks notice’, but it’s not always that simple. They both gave notice for 2 weeks of vacations they’d need 2 weeks later to get married and go on honeymoon. They bought plane tickets, notified their small circle of friends and family, arranged for the ceremony and all that. Because the company is slow to process short-notice vacations claims, it was just 3 days before they were supposed to go when the bad news came down from Logistics: her vacations claim was approved, while his was denied. If he did not show up to work the next week without medical reasons, he could now lose his union job.
The company technically within their rights. The two claimed on the same day, with exactly two weeks of notice, but failed to account for a holiday occurring in the next two weeks (which is not a business day). Her claim went through because her non-standard schedule (Tuesday to Saturday) gave the company an extra day to consider her claim, giving them the required 10 days – whereas his Monday-Friday schedule made him one short.
Non-refundable plane and vacation tickets, friends and family all planning around this event in a short timeframe, it was a perfect storm to make this a horrible experience for the two lovebirds…
I won’t deny these two planned poorly and on too short notice, but it caused some outrage anyway when the story reached the floor and the break rooms that day. Even after being informed it was for a wedding, the company would not budge on refusing him his vacations, citing the ‘Contractual Obligations Only’ policy.
The guy I work with, Henry, was crushed by this whole mess ruining his dream wedding. Since I had been a union steward years before, Henry asked me if there was any way to bypass the ‘ten business days thing’.
Maybe, sort of. Beyond normal vacations, holidays and sick days, there are extensive work contract provisions for ‘special days off’. Things like the death of a close relative, for instance. Still, there is another provision in the work contract that says if you have a paid ‘special day off’, you can – without prior notification – demand your leave be extended by up to ten unpaid work days that they must grant without question. That’s typically to give you extra time to grieve if your relatives died but it applies to all special days off.
Since the kid had no dying relative, seemed to me like the only way he’d get this done is by being sued and claiming his right to extend his leave by 10 unpaid days, which he’d have been thrilled to do under the circumstances.
Because it was so ridiculous, people actually called the union office to ask union executives to plead with the company so he could attend his wedding. I was one of those calling, and I spoke briefly with the Union VP for Call Centres (old friend) except I knew it would be impossible to get a letter of agreement (only way to bypass the company’s COO policy) in such a short time frame and I specifically asked him about ‘special days off’ clauses and the provision on 10 days extensions.
He later told me privately that my questions gave him the idea how to force the issue.
The next day, Henry got a perfectly legitimate legal summons to appear in front of an arbitration board over a civil suit in 48 hours, on Friday, the last day he was supposed to work before his previously planned vacations. Henry, flanked by the floor’s union stewards, bought the paper to his manager. After lengthily confirming with HR, said manager confirmed he now had Friday day off to deal with his legal summon – a day entirely paid, to boot – and that it was indeed his right to extend this by up to 10 unpaid days off without notice.
To comply with their own policy, because Henry was being sued, they had to respect work contract minimums. Henry demanded his 10 extra days, and the matter was settled; he could attend his wedding and go on honeymoon without risking his job. He now had it written on paper.
The news spread like wildfire that Henry had his vacations after all, but nobody really knew how or why. Most never will. It’s probably for the best that way.
The Union Vice-President for Call Centres made it happen after getting several calls about this situation from angry members. In this country, your union dues are deducted from your paycheque automatically according to the Rand formula so disputes between unions and their members over dues are virtually unheard of. One exception: unions who believe a member is getting income from their employment that is not accurately reported on their pay slips may sue for back dues and damages.
This can be done in arbitration rather than small claims court if the employer is named as a defendant. And our union executives have an easy time calling for immediate arbitration if they deem an issue worth it. This was it; the VP had been so moved by the story of the guy not allowed to go to his own wedding that the union filed for immediate arbitration of a thoroughly bogus civil damages claim, triggering legal summons to both Henry and the corporation’s lawyers.
Friday that week, Henry showed up downtown to answer in a small closed session before a labor arbitrator – paid on the clock as per the work contract – to an allegation he had received work-related revenue from the company on which no union dues were paid. In the opening seconds of the session, the union ‘apologized for making a mistake’ and withdrew the suit.
Two pissed off evil corporate lawyers were in attendance. I’m told one of them said if we ‘tried this again’ there would be a suit for wrongful proceedings. Apparently the arbitrator understood what was going on well ahead of the session but still refused to acknowledge anything had been done in bad faith. You don’t make many friends when your company policies are this stupid.
This did not change the fact Henry was now authorized to go away on unpaid leave for 10 days for his wedding and honeymoon. Henry and his sweetheart are happily married.
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