If things were not bad enough, the Obama Administration is considering proposing legislature that will allow employers in southern states to hire folks for two months without paying them in an effort to test them out and encourage a potential offer of employment. Now I’m all for creative problem solving, but hiring someone below the minimum wage level or worse, for FREE even for two months I think is pushing things a bit off the cliff! In some countries that practice is known as exploitation and here in the US we might actually be considering this as legislation!
In an effort to bring about change, we are all struggling for ways to be creative about finding work for those who have been unemployed for a long period of time. We use to count unemployment as a maximum of 6 months in most states, now we are counting unemployment in terms of YEARS. Something is wrong with a system that encourages companies and out of work job seekers to work for free. I’m not suggesting the government should continue to support long periods of unemployment as a work around, but I am suggesting they provide an “incentive” as in money to employers who are willing to “create” jobs even on an interim basis to stimulate both the economy and the hiring of unemployed and skilled talent. Or crazier still, how about an incentive for people who try to go into business for themselves, after all aren’t they creating a job if no one will give them one?
It’s not enough to encourage people to get out of the house and “work for free” just so they have some place to go every day. It’s a nice sentiment but not very realistic or practical and it does not serve to do the one thing that most people I know go to work for, and that is to make money to support themselves and their families. Offering a modest stipend, or a $10 an hour wage, or something that would promote the ability to earn while you learn in a new job gives the unemployed a bit of dignity and income while they are sorting out their next career move.
The concept of “working for free” has always bothered me. Because let’s face it, working for free really means volunteering and the last time I checked volunteering is something you do in your spare time and does not offer the means to pay the rent, mortgage or college tuition. Now if you could somehow “barter” your services the next time your phone, cable or electric bill shows up in exchange for paying the bill, then we might be on the brink of a whole new economic system!
The creation of what amounts to a “Free Jobs Act” is like babysitting while you are waiting for your real life to show up. While you might be kept busy, flinging diapers, and wiping up drool, no one would ever consider making that a full-time job for the rest of your life. Even stay at home parents look forward to the day their kids are out of diapers. So for those slightly tempted by the notion, “I’ll call up my former employer and ask them if they need my help to work for free,” do yourself a favor and put your spare time to better use, like actually looking for a job from someone who is willing to hire you and PAY you! Before you start volunteering for a living, try reaching out and asking if someone would hire you on a contract or temporary basis first. Believe it or not, some companies are actually willing to pay you for your work, which these days could be sounding more like a novel concept!
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