Just because someone is generous doesn't mean you can take advantage of them.
Background: both my parents are ophthalmologists (eye surgeon) and they practice at a private clinic together. To comply with rule #6 I won’t mention in which country this takes place but keep in mind this isn’t in the states or Canada.
Five years ago my parents took over a private clinic. The doctor that was practicing there previously had treated his nurses horribly (e.g., yelling and throwing things at the nurses when they make a mistake, calling them all sorts of awful names even in front of patients). However, my parents are not the kind of people who can do that.
So when my parents took over the clinic, they gave the nurses a raise, were flexible with their schedule, and treated them humanely. Not to generalize an entire country but for an employer to treat their employees with kindness is not very common here.
Here’s where the problem started. The nurses, instead of appreciating my parents’ generosity, they thought it would be okay to try and take advantage of this situation. They would show up late, come up with excuses to skip their shift and complain when my parents don’t pay them for their personal days, and they would talk down to my parents.
My parents never tolerated this kind of behaviour in the first place. Whenever the nurses behaved like this, they would sit them down and remind them that they should be treating my parents with respect not only because my parents are their superior but because they’re all adults. They would behave well for a few months and then the same thing would happen again. My parents have already replaced two of them so it’s not like they’re under the illusion that they have job security.
*Soapbox alert*: What bothers me most is that these nurses behaved perfectly well when they were being treated like animals by the previous doctor. And I would be more understanding if they were young but these nurses are in their mid-forties to mid-fifties.
Anyway, August is when most businesses take their summer vacation which basically means employees get a three or four day weekend but very rarely more than four. And surprise surprise, one of the nurses last week were complaining about not receiving a six-day-long paid vacation. She’s claiming that’s how much nurses receive at other clinics (which they don’t) and that it’s illegal for my parents to not allow them to do so (it’s not). And it’s not like we’re prohibiting her from using up her personal days to extend her long weekend.
I think that was the last straw for my mother. She spoke to our lawyer to double check what we’re allowed to do. Here’s a rough translation of what my mom said to that nurse yesterday in front of all the other nurses:
“We pay you above average for a private clinic nurse and we’ve been more than reasonable to your complaints and requests. There’s nothing else I can do to make the work environment here any safer and more peaceful. Despite never having done anything illegal nor violating any part of our contract, you think it’s appropriate to act like we’re taking advantage of you? Fine, let’s play by the ‘law’.”
- Her contract needs to be renewed at the end of September. Her pay will be decreased to the legally required minimum wage.
- The premium healthcare we provide for our employees that we’re not legally obligated to pay for? Her’s will be reduced to the basic plan.
- Nurses are paid by the hour and there’s no minimum number of hours legally required in the contract so we already cut her shifts by half.
The workforce in this country is incredibly competitive so given her age, it is very unlikely she’ll be able to find another job as a nurse. Even if she did, she would have to leave my parents on good terms; as in she can’t badmouth us or cause chaos right before quitting otherwise her license could easily be taken away and all it takes is for my parents to blacklist her in the doctors’ association and no doctor in this country will ever hire her.
Her husband owns a construction firm that does pretty well so it’s not like the contract revisions will put her family out in the streets or anything. Still, I know this kind of makes us look like monsters but my parents rarely take such drastic measures. As their child, it was super satisfying to see them finally defend themselves.
(There are multiple updates from the author)