Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Sabbath and Job-hunting

I've been faced with the job hunt a few times in the last several years and as this society moves more and more towards a 24/7 availability of most services, the difficulty in finding a job where you can still keep the Sabbath is increasing with each year.  In my line of work, most companies expect you to be on-call 24/7.  This conflicts with the Sabbath very much.

A fellow believer once told me that he withholds the fact that he can't work on the Sabbath until after they give him the job.  Once he starts is when he informs his supervisor that the Sabbath is off-limits and by their HR policy, they have to allow him to have the time off.

I personally feel that this is misleading and not being a light to the world.  It's like buying a used car and then finding out after the fact that the car's brakes need to be replaced a week later.  It's a very poor attitude and already starts you off on the wrong foot with your employer.  Guaranteed that when it comes time to lay off employees, you're at the top of his list.

I've found that honesty really is the best policy.  I sat in an interview once and it truly sounded great and I was really getting excited until I was told that they would give me a cell phone and that I would be on-call 24/7 because the servers I would maintain are for their website so there was no tolerance of downtime.  If a problem came up on the Sabbath, I would be expected to resolve it.  It was at this point I informed them of my beliefs and that I would NOT be available 24/7.  Naturally, I never heard back from that employer.

I still found a job.  In my life, I've had 8 jobs.  In EVERY case, they knew before I started about the Sabbath and the Holy Days that I observed.  I've been blessed that it has rarely been an issue.  Most of all, there was no coming back later and demanding me to work on the Sabbath as their policies prohibited forcing me to turn my back on my religious beliefs.

I once started a job just months before the Feast of Tabernacles and they knew this hiring me in.  I offered to take the time off without pay.  In the end, my director refused to report it to HR and insisted I get paid for that time off.  Later on, that same person would call me on a Saturday and I didn't answer my cell phone (very thankful for caller id).  When asked about it the next Monday, I made it very clear that the Sabbath was off-limits and he made other arrangements for that day to be covered in the future (I was not told I would be on-call when I was hired so it was not a stipulation of my employment).

My current employer faced a crisis on a Friday afternoon and fully expected me to stay until it was resolved.  I told her I would be leaving at sunset.  After working some through the problem, we found a solution that resolved the issue and still let me leave before sunset.  After that incident, when something comes up late on a Friday, the first thing she does is look out the window to see how close to sunset we are.  In one case, it was put off.  In another case, she assigned it to another team member.

Overall, it is quite possible to find a job where the Sabbath and Holy Days can be observed.  However, I feel it is very important that you are upfront and honest about it to your employer BEFORE they make the decision to hire you.  It can make the difference in a long term career or a short-term position.

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