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Senior Contributor

cell phones and low wage workers

I've been kind of hesitating about putting this up here, because I think it is a touchy subject in many ways.

We are not a huge employer.  We have 9 employees that all make above minimum wage.  Not a lot above but more than say Walmart pays.  They all can have 40 hour weeks or more if they want.  Some put in more than 40 on a regular basis and are very dependable and always available when something comes up.

That being said we do want (insist) that they have working vehicles and a phone they can be reached on at all times.

Vehicles can be problematic for these young and inexperienced people.   Not all of them have very good support systems, nor families that have done much in teaching them responsibility.  But for the most part they keep a vehicle running or get here some how.  Sometimes they help each other out.

Now the phones are another thing.  Today is turning into a problem because 1 employee showed up yesterday 4 hours before her shift and said she wasn't coming in because she was quitting.  Well that isn't the proper way to quit a job, but we knew she was probably going to be leaving some time soon.  She's a story of her own.  Young single mom, really terrible no help baby daddy and parents that are useless.  She's been living with her dad who is a part time DJ on disability and his girlfriend and the girlfriend has been a headache for her.   I didn't get the details of whether she's going to another job, or following a new boyfriend to South Dakato.  Hope things work out for her, because despite her problems she is a very nice person.

But back to the phone issue.  So her leaving initiates some shuffling with who works when.  Which had already been shuffled because another employee asked for time to go to the Farm Bureaus meeting in Kansas City, after schedules had been made and posted.

I think we are very obliging to the employees and let them ask for any time they need off during a month, before that month's schedule is put together.  She didn't do that but son still agreed to shuffle things and get her the 3 days so she could go to Kansas City.

So now this other girl quits and we're trying to get a hold of workers at the last minute with schedule changes and 2 of them have phones that don't work.  They have so many problems keeping their phones working.  They all have "smart phones" and apparently things get expensive, so they don't pay and then they don't have phones that work.  Neither hubby nor I have "smart phones" yet but our package covers the data usage of the 3 phones on the plan that do. We made sure of that and we can afford it.  These low wage employees need to understand how much their "data" usage is costing them that they can't afford and the phone companies need to provide more basic phones so these people can be able to have phones service all the time.

Actually I am sure there are basic phones with basic service that they could get.  It's just one of those things that this society makes every body think they have to have these "smart phones" and all the cool things they can do when so many people really can't afford them, or maybe more accurately can't manage to afford them.

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Honored Advisor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

I don't know the answer.  I used to provide landline to the employee residence, but stopped, because they all have cell phones now, so why spend that every month for nothing?

 

I have observed that they can be reached when they are at work, but often have "trouble" when they are away being reached by us.  Notice if they are using it while on duty....

 

The employee house is here,  so transportation isn't an issue.  Done that way by design.

 

That said, the current guy bought a used Explorer from our daughter, and has wrecked it in the storm last Monday, after having had 8000 miles put on it in the first six weeks they had it.  With that totalled, they are now dependent upon his family and their friends to get them places again, and I am not making any point of hauling them.  Again, people manage to get to where they want to go. 

 

To be honest, I really like this kid, but the "wife" is a real case.  Cannot write it all here, as it's a family website.  Let's just say worse than a soap opera.  I cannot get inolved, because it is inappropriate to do so.  Daughter has given her an earful, though. 

 

There are cheap cell phones out now, intended for children to contact their parents and vice versa...just saw something about them the other day.  I think they can only call a couple of numbers, and maybe 9-1-1.   

 

Don't know if that would be an option, for the farm to fund.  Hold final pay uintil the phone is returned, deduct its value if it's not? Might be worth checking into. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

We have a neighbor that used to provide phones to all of his workers.   When the day started, they would get a work phone and leave their smart phones in the office.    He did this because he had more problems with too much texting and face book and whatever else while they were trying to get work done.      I realize that won't solve your problem but just another idea.   

Honored Advisor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

How did that work for him?  We are talking about doing that here.

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Senior Contributor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

I think it must have worked ok for him.  I think they did this for several years, maybe they still are.   I know they hire a lot of day labor, so we aren't talking about anyone who makes management decisions.     We have considered this as well. I think there would be some obvious problems in finding a plan that works - maybe straight talk?   Also some number programing.. but I kind of like the idea.  I think safety would be a big push to do this.    A couple summers ago, we were building an implement shed and the hired help ( nephews) were on the peak of the roof one day.. texting.   I drove by and saw this..   I came completely undone over that.

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Advisor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

This is just my opinion, but if you want the employees to have a phone "they can be reached on at all times", you need to and should provide that phone. Certainly, you should be able to call their personal phone to contact them, but to be available to be reached by you 24 hours aday is alot to ask.   this is not to say that they should not be responsible for their shift or even showing up for work on time and regularly.

 

If , by agreeing to work for you and  them being at your "beck and call" , is acceptable to them as part of their employment agreement , that is fine. I still say that being required to be available "at all times" should require some responsibiltiy from you.

Honored Advisor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

I agree. Since we provide a residence, here on the farm, we do not require any phone at all. My situation is people using phones while at work. Too much of a distraction, as SLC noted below.

I am thinking a phone like the emergency one parents give their kids, that only call a couple of numbers and 9-1-1.

I know it is really a management matter, and we should be sble to get it done another way. These devices can be addictive, eslecially to people who are OCD.
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Senior Contributor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

I see both sides here.  I do agree that if you want to be able to get ahold of them anytime then you need to somehow compensate them for this.  Todd uses his personal phone for work but gets compensated $50 a month from his company.  I'm not saying you need to go that route but it's something to think about....most companies it's between $40 and $50 a month.  That being said I do agree that some people just don't think about all the data they are using and what not and go way over their plans.  I also look at the phones they are using.  Smartphones are great for some things but you do not need the latest and greatest all the time and they are darn expensive to purchase. 

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Senior Contributor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

ida;  I agree with you.  I keep telling my son that he can't be mad about an employee screening calls from him.  This kid knows extra hours are available and if he chooses not to take them that is his business.  A text more than covers when it is about shift coverage because another employee had a problem.  And yet again I tend to think it's their business if they still want to turn the extra hours down.  Things are still in transition here as we expand but I suspect the employee and employee situations will always be in a fluid state.

We have a great group of employees and not a single one of them would ever not show up when needed to get the cows milked.  I continue to think the in between shift stuff son needs to keep his cool about.

He just has a hard time when they screen calls sometimes because they don't want to extra hours and then another time you can't get through to them because their service has been turned off or they've run out of minutes.  Son just can't understand things like that happening when he is offering more income to them that they turn down.

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Honored Advisor

Re: cell phones and low wage workers

This can be a touchy subject. Our daughter is glued to her phone. Mike shares a plan that she pays for, but I more than fairly compensate her for that.

Two months ago, she told him that he was evodently leaving hisapos open, because her bill had gone up by $40 for two months in a row. I showed him that he can open the usage app on his phone, because he is not on it the way she is. He did, saw he uses only a fraction of his allowance, and told her husband to check his phone, which is on that plan, too.

Turned out she uses way more than even their hige plan, even after free in-network minutes. Hinestly, we both want to confront the phone usage while on duty here. Going to be difficult, since she is VERY touchy about this subject.

I want to say, while you are at work, calls should on,y be work -or Winn -related. It is easy enough to say, but I fear it will be impossible to do. Have thought to say, " Take Daddy's old flipphone, activate it under your plan, and onky carry that at work." It will not keep her from calling or taking calls fromher bunch of girlfriends.

I know this is a lot about social isolation, when you are a young person working at home with animals. Iwas a young mom at home with three small kids, pre-cell and - computer years. Still, I feel your attention needs to be on your work while you are there.

We have sevetal things to work on this spring. The action plan about farm repairs and routine records is a system I can follow up on. I know I could say " no outside callsat work", and tell from her history in the phine. If it gets to the point I think I need to do that, then bigger fish need cleaning and frying.

All of this folds into whether you have your head and heart in this or not. Underneath it all, I feel she spends way too much time distracted by this device. I do not know how exactly to move forward on this one.
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