Plugging Along

While Lynn has been lumping boxes — she and one co-worker sorted 1,400 packages Saturday morning — I have been hard at work myself, watching videos.

Now, this is not the standard video-watching that takes place at Pat’s, where some large percentage of the workforce just assumes that part of their job description includes propping up their phone, plugging their ears with antennae and mainlining their chosen form of entertainment. Makes fighting over which radio station to listen to seem like a quaint throwback to yesteryear — not to mention putting everyone in his or her own silo, with far less communal interaction than yesteryear.

As you may have gathered, I might be more of the yesteryear crowd — I don’t even understand the term “bluetooth,” even though I’m sure I have devices that utilize it and I do have a blue star tattooed on one of my teeth. (It’s true! And a rocket ship, an alien head and a silver Saturn, because any other planet would just look like a circle.)

So I don’t know or understand anything about those ubiquitous white antennae that stick out of people ears other than they cause workers at Pat’s, as I’m talking to them, to pause and pull one out of an ear to say, “What?” and I get to repeat myself.

(It is equally true that they get to repeat themselves when I say “What?” but that’s because my years and ears are advancing and I haven’t been to an audiologist to see if I need my own sort of ear gadget.)

I don’t generally have any means of turning on and tuning out other than my work laptop, which has such crappy sound that I would likely benefit mightily from the white antennae. But here’s the thing: I’m not really enjoying the videos I’ve been watching at work because, well, they’re work.

Maybe not the video I went looking for the other day to show Kara, which was a CBS News clip that highlighted a machine a woman built to simulate menstrual cramps. The inventor took it to Frontier Days in Cheyenne, Wyoming, of all places, and brought any number of macho cowboys literally to their knees simply by subjecting them to the pain many women go through monthly.

The rest of my video watching, though, is work-related, much of it because the Colorado voters and our Democrat trifecta of senate, house and governor (even if the governor rarely seems to champion the little people) are making our state a very employee-oriented state.

I believe it was the voters, although it might have been the legislature, that mandated that as of this past January most employees were to receive one hour of paid time off for every 30 hours worked. This time is intended for medical and family leave issues, along with domestic violence issues, and employers may ask very limited questions. We can’t even request a medical note until the fourth consecutive business day is missed (which turns out to not be very helpful when the employee is routinely sick one day a week).

I kind of doubt that most employees know this is a benefit their employers are supposed to provide, and I’m guessing a lot of businesses are oblivious as well. It starts the day the employee is hired (so a full-time worker accrues one hour before the end of her first week). These hours can be taken in 15-minute increments, which is an accounting nightmare and I must confess I haven’t mentioned this option to my employees, most of whom seem unaware of this benefit even after it is handed to them in writing. Perhaps if I had someone sing it into their earbuds . . .

I have that requirement more or less taken care of, although I took a fellow business owner’s advice from her accountant and just called it “paid time off,” rolling it in with vacation time and any of it can be used for any reason. Now we are building up toward next January, when employees across the state are going to have to pony up an additional 0.45% of their income before it becomes take-home pay.

This is another medical- and family-leave program, called FAMLI, and I’m not sure how on top of it the state is. I know this one was passed by the voters, and it sounds good, but we’ll see how implementation goes. I’m not holding my breath.

And I’ll guess the same number of employees and business owners don’t know this one is coming, but while enforcement of the paid time off probably only happens if an employee files a complaint with the state department of labor, this coming program is going to be run like state unemployment — and the state is much more likely to notice if one is not in compliance.

Compliance comes with a couple of levels, and Pat’s is right on the bubble. All employees, unless their business already has an approved benefit program that provides up to 12 weeks of paid leave for medical, family and domestic violence issues, are going to be required to contribute to this fund. Businesses with 10 or more employees need to match that amount, while businesses like Pat’s, with its nine bodies, do not.

Everyone contributes to this for a year without getting anything back. Starting in January ’24, in some manner that has yet to be explained to me, employees will receive some portion of their pay if they need to take time off for a new baby or adoption, or to care for any other family member, or for medical reasons, or to get out of an abusive situation. If, say, one of your employees has been mostly out since May with a bad knee that maybe will finally get replaced next month, she could have had up to 12 weeks off with at least some portion of her pay.

So it’s not a bad thing, but it is more money coming out of the worker’s pocket — and then it turns out there’s another whole program looming that I had heard nothing about until the chamber director mentioned it last week.

[This is the same chamber director who directed the local newspaper to me as a business owner to discuss the FAMLI program just yesterday. The reporter wanted to know if I was familiar with it, and when I said I was, she quizzed me to see if I really knew. I gather I passed her test.]

Now I will need to watch videos about the Colorado Secure Savings program, mandated by the legislature and which also begins next year. This intends to set up individual retirement accounts for workers whose employers don’t offer retirement benefits, and that’s about all I know without some videos.

Between state-mandated programs and the quest to find a new software that meant a 52-minute video (on software!), I feel, these days, like I’m watching nearly as many videos as the people I work with — but I think they’re enjoying theirs more. I’m sure it’s all due to their plug-in antennae.

One thought on “Plugging Along

  1. Loved your familiarity with all these new fangled ear devices. However fondness for yesteryear is listed under those who struggle in the golden years.


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