I have been working for a family for 7 months, ever since their first child was born. It's an unusual situation, and while I had some idea about what I was getting into, I didn't know all of the specifics. Now I need some serious help renegotiating my contract. First let me explain what the job entails.
I work 6 days a week, 50 hour work week. I specified that I would like specific hours, though I can be flexible as long as I have notice. Anything over 50 hours would be overtime. MB shows horses, and that involves a LOT of travel. We spend 4 months of the year in the south at a house, and throughout the other months we are based further north but travel often to shows, typically a week or two at a time. I wasn't really aware of how long/often we would be at shows; I grew up in the equestrian world but didn't do the type of showing that she participates in.
DB expressed concern that during the winter (while we are at the secondary house) I would be making tons of overtime because the days are long. I don't have any issues with long days, but I suggested an OT bank, in which I would record my OT hours and we could decide together whether they would be paid out, or whether I could use them for future PTO at a time that would work for both of us. They liked the idea and I was happy with it because I knew with all of the traveling I would need some time off to decompress.
I'm finishing up my first winter at the other location, and I didn't bring up the issues with them because it was my own fault for not being more thorough initially. But I do need to sit down with them and explain that unless things change, there is no way I'm going to be able to do another winter. I just don't know exactly what to suggest that would work for both parties.
MB has a crazy schedule. I have Mondays off because that is the one day that the show doesn't run. Basically she doesn't even know the rough times she needs to ride until Tuesday night of that particular week, and often she doesn't have exact times until the day before. So every week she writes down what she *thinks* the schedule will be. The schedule always changes. DB is only here on the weekends so it's just her and me, and though I did ask her to find someone else to use in case I can't work, the baby cried when the other woman was with him so now she only uses her for date nights when the baby is sleeping. So it's either I watch him, or she can't "work".
I don't have a life here. I don't really have any drive to make a life considering I'm here for such a short time, but because of that I'm always in the house, and she knows that I have no plans. I could of course say that I'm not available when she asks me last minute, but I would just end up sitting in my room, or getting in my car and driving around just to not be in the house. I also can't really make plans such as taking a class or signing up for an activity, because my hours are so random.
Like I said before, I don't have an issue with the long hours. I'm here to work; the only reason I relocated to this area with them is to work. The problem has become the fact that MB doesn't want me to accumulate a lot of OT hours. To keep me from having a bunch of OT she will shorten my hours on various days by a few hours to make up for the 10-14 hour days that I sometimes have. And because the schedule is different every week, and constantly changes DURING the week, I never know exactly when I'm going to be working. Like yesterday for example she changed the time I got off 3 times, and I ended up having an early day. I hate having my start time change every day, and I don't like my days cut short to make up for extra long days later in the week. All that it does is make me feel like I'm working all of the time without getting reimbursed adequately. All of that talk about the huge amounts of OT I would be making during the winter hasn't translated into reality, because whenever MB gets done early she lets me off, which just leaves me sitting in my room with nothing to do, and not making money either. The only times I feel like I can say "no" to the schedule she sets out is date nights, and often I work them anyway because I want OT. Otherwise she just tells me what time we'll be starting in the morning, and what time we'll be ending in the evening. It is literally different every single day.
I've brought up the fact that I would like to have a set schedule, and both MB and DB like to mention that they said in our interview that they needed someone who could be "flexible". This is very true, and I have been MORE than flexible. I literally am available any time they need me. All of the time. I've worked some intense jobs before. I know that there are jobs where flexibility is key, and this is one of them. However, you need to be PAID for those jobs. Like, paid so much that it doesn't matter that you need to be available whenever. I make a decent salary, which DB never fails to bring up, in front of large groups of people. But I know that what I am giving up is worth way more than what I'm making.
The situation is particularly bad in this winter location because there is nobody else to watch the baby besides me. I know that the primary location will be better; I have my own apartment there and my own friends and life, but we'll also be traveling to shows a lot (one and half to two weeks every month) and the situation will be the same. Two weeks of working my tail off, whenever she needs me, having nothing to do in my time off, and getting very little overtime for it because she will cut me loose an hour early here or there to make up for the long days. It just feels like the traveling and giving up my life for long periods of time is completely not worth it, because I'm not even making more money.
I like this job. I love the baby and I love where we live most of the year. I'm allowed to have my dog live with me and MB lets me ride her horses. They really are nice people and I like them. I need to figure out a way to present this to them to let them know that I need to be making more money when we're traveling otherwise it isn't worth it to me to have such an unpredictable schedule and give up long chunks of my life like this.
There are three options that I've thought of. #1- Ask for a raise to my weekly salary, year round. And then during the hard times just remember that the raised salary also applies to the easier times. #2- Ask for a higher weekly salary during travel times. Just explain that travel is harder and requires a complete time commitment and it should be paid accordingly. If that's the case, how much should I be asking for? What is complete availability worth? #3- During travel weeks, ask to maintain a specific minimum schedule, with anything additional being overtime. For example, my weekly schedule would always be 7:00-4:00. If MB doesn't need me until 7:45, it doesn't matter, I still start work, and start getting paid at 7:00. She can choose to use me or not. And then if 3 nights that week she needs me to work until 6:00, I do it, but those hours are OT. That way I would be making more money according to how much I was working and I would have a start time I could count on.
Maybe I'm being too demanding. If I am please let me know. Would any of you think that this was acceptable? All I know is that when a job starts feeling like it's not worth the money, something needs to change. Please give me any and all advice, I really need it.
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