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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Sunday, May 07, 2006

Some kinda idiot?

As my regular readers know, I have been spending most of my spare time (of which there is less and less these days) looking for a new job.

A few hours before shabbos I was called with a job offer.
My first and second interview with company X had gone very well and I had expected (ok hoped) that they would call.
Although the job and the company seemed really good I had some worries particularly about the length of the commute (an easy hour, no public transportation) and the "Shabbos factor" which would be compounded by the distance.
To put it into fake mathematical terms:

D(distance from the office to my home) * SF (the shabbos factor) - S (the current season) = P (the amount of problems I will face being an orthodox Jew while job hunting.)

Since it's spring going into summer this is an ideal time for a an orthodox Jew to look for work. But it still worried me, as did the length of the commute over all.

So in my head I devised a list of conditions which I would haggle over if I was offered the job:
Better pay, decent hours, 3 weeks vacation, etc...

And wouldn't you know it?! They offered me all that without my even opening my mouth!
A 37.5 hour work week?! I didn't even know that existed!

So when the HR lady asked me if I had any concerns before they went ahead with the background check I had nothing to say... so like a moron I mentioned Shabbos.
I was pretty blase about it really, like just to let you know blah, blah blah, no problem... but now of course I'm worried that it will be the deal breaker.

So now I'm nervous and feeling a little stupid too.
Think good thoughts for me, this could be the start of something good, if I haven't killed it before it started. I've had about a 50% sucess rate in being open about shabbos before accepting a job. I'm interested to hear how any of you have handled the Shabbos factor when job hunting. Please share!

I've missed you all. Hopefully once this job search is through I'll have more time to crank up the old Ask Shifra advice machine again!


At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't worry. I know that "uh oh, I blew it!" feeling. I think it's mostly nerves. Everyone starting a new job has something that requires flexibility in scheduling - child care, religious obligations, a vacation that is already planned and paid for -- and it's perfectly appropriate to mention it in advance. If they like you, they like you.

I worked a 37.5 workweek before. It's quite humane.

I have a good feeling about this.... Let us know!

At 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that allowed? I mean, they can't refuse to hire you because you keep Shabbos can they? Wouldn't you have a lawsuit?

Good luck!!

At 2:12 AM, Blogger Jerusalemcop said...

good luck Shifra. Be optimistic. Things will work out in the end


At 6:35 AM, Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Ah, the Shabbat problem.

I remember my first job, where I was asked if I had a problem coming in on shabbat to work.

I was slightly shocked, since this was...in Israel.

I said, "If there's anything pikuach nefesh related, I guess I could go in....but that's it."

The guy interviewing me said..."you never know"...and though I never had to go in (B'H), I did find myself working on projects would could have required me to go in on shabbat...for mega pikuach nefesh reasons.

Good Luck!

Thinking good thoughts...

Muqata & Co.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure if you said you would make up the hours, it will be OK. Unless Friday afternoon is a very busy time for them...

Here in France it can be a nightmare getting shabbat off, especially as working on Saturdays is often required in education, services, retail etc. Fanatics of secularism (laicité) will not understand that it is crucial for us to keep shabbat. In any case, I now consider it a basic human right: the wish to keep one of the Ten Commandments should be self-evident!

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just (voluntarily) left my 1st job out of college, I had been there for 6 years. I mentioned the Shabbat factor on the 2nd interview, IIRC, I had already been offered the job. My boss was so nice about it and let me work 8.5 hours M-Th so that I could leave early on Fridays. I am now looking for a new job, have no had any offers yet, but I am optmistic that Shabbat should not be a problem. I have a lot of experience and anyone at my previous job can vouch for me that I am a VERY hard worker. Be calm, you'll be fine. Everything is from G-d!

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Air Time said...

I never mention it beforehand and have never had a problem with leaving early on Friday. I have made sure to develop good relationships with people who would need to cover me on Friday nights, and as long as they see I am consistent about it, and not just taking advantage of them, I have never had a problem.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Jewish Thinker said...

I always like to mention it. I wouldn't wnat to work at a place that A: Wouldn't hire me because of it: Telling them up front helps weed them out.
B: Where I couldn't say "You knew I would leave early on some Fridays whne I cam in to the job."
C: Where they could in any way feel I was deceitful in representing myself.

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At 1:01 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

Hatzlacha rabba! I hope everything works out!

At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One summer long ago I asked at a kosher bakery about a job. I told the person that I was fourteen and that I couldn't work Saturdays. I was hired. I worked a Sunday, two weekdays, and then the next Sunday. At the end of that second Sunday, I was fired. Why? I was fired because I was only fourteen and because I couldn't work Saturdays.

Some 40-hour work weeks include an hour for lunch, while some 37.5-hour work weeks do not count the time taken for lunch.

I hope it all comes together for you.

At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Naive in Israel-

They can't not hire you because of your religion. But they CAN not hire you because you cannot perform the job. If working a full day on Friday, or sometimes coming in on Saturday, is part of the job, then they can legitimately not hire you, because you can't do the job.

It doesn't matter whether the reason you have to leave early on Fridays is for a religious holiday, or for any other reason. From their perspective, it's all the same thing: you have some limitation in your life that makes you unable to perform the duties.

You'd have a lawsuit if someone else in a comparable position in the company was leaving early on Fridays to, say, pick up his kids from school, and then they didn't hire you because you have to leave early for Shabbat. Or if they said "We don't hire religious Jews" rather than "we don't hire people who can't work a full day on Friday." The fact that to you and me, a "religious Jew" and "someone who needs to leave early" is the same thing, doesn't make it the same thing from a legal perspective.

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At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck. I used to be at my desk for 6:30 (commute is a breeze that early :) )- so that I could leave at 2:30. But this was pre-kids....

At 12:45 PM, Blogger Elie said...

I think you definitely did the right thing. This way, if you do get the job you can feel confident that Shabbos isn't an issue for them and feel good about yourself that you went into it with full honesty. And if you don't get the job because of Shabbos, it's not the kind of place you'd want to work anyway!

Good luck!

At 2:12 PM, Blogger StepIma said...

ooh - I hope you get it!

You definitely did the right thing, though. It's always an awkward conversation to have. And if (when! when! when!) you do get in the door, it's a lot easier to be able to say to the person you're actually working for, "you know, I can't work..." as if it's already a done deal, since you've cleared it through HR.

I hope you get the call soon!

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Sarah is absolutely right.

A temporary employment client once had my assignment terminated because I insisted on leaving early on Friday as sunset became earlier. She was quite adamant that one of the requirements of the job was that someone be there until 5 PM to answer her phone.

Shifra, I wish you the best of luck. Please keep us posted--and we hope it's good news!

At 5:53 AM, Blogger rockofgalilee said...

At the 2 companies I worked for in the US (before aliyah), I made a deal when they hired me that I would put in the time during the week and leave early on Fridays.
I basically left between 12 and 2 every Friday during the year, so there was no surprise when the winter kicked in.

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At 2:35 PM, Blogger chuck said...

I think I remember hearing about a company that specifically deceided to hire a shomer shabbos, 'cause they liked the fact, that this potential hiree had morals.

Don't worry you'll do fine!

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Debra said...

I always go into my shabbos requirements in the first interview. If they can't handle it, I don't want the job. Over the years, the responses have varied, but because the business relationship always started very honestly, regarding Fridays and chags, I've never encountered a problem. When I interviewed for my current position, the agency said "they have half-day Fridays 3 months of the year" - you can guess which 3 months I ASSUMED they would be, and they ended up being Memorial Day to Labor Day - but they hired me to work 4 1/2 days year round anyway.

Stand up for what you believe in - don't hide it. If they don't want you fine - but in the end you have to maintain your self respect.

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