The curious case of PQR

I had applied for the position of a journalist. The ad had been posted on Media Jobs daily, a group on Facebook that posts jobs related to media. I sent my resume, they called me back saying they were in need of computer programmer. Now, I had quit my previous job at a major IT firm to switch over to media. I did not want a job at a startup as a programmer. They called me again saying they would like to interview me.

I was interviewed, but the owner, lets call him Mr. A, informed me that since I did not have any previous editorial experience, they would expect me to work on the programming side as well. It was a win-win situation for both, where they could hire a programmer and an editor for one, and I could get experience for the transition.

I was offered a package for 20,000 per month. The salary would be revised after 3-6 months based on my performance. And my role on paper would be programmer. However, I would be provided a business card with role as editor. I joined on 18th July.

PQR turned out to be a start-up, family run business. There was only one other employee. Another joined with me, but she “absconded” within 3 days.

Later, the sole other employee, lets call her Ms. X,  told tales about the organization. The owner was a weird guy who liked to blame him employees for his and the organizations shortcomings. Apparently, another girl, a receptionist was fired and later the X told me that she was asked to call up the receptionist as a friend. And while probing what happened, record the entire conversation and hand it over to Mr A who would put it on loudspeaker for the entire office to hear. This never happened though, Ms. X refused. Oh, by entire office, it did not mean PQR of-course! That was only a 2 ppl company then. PQR did not have its own office, and had been utilizing the space of a construction company owned by Mr A’s father-in-law.

When I questioned Ms. X if it was OK to discuss it in office, of course in Mr A’s absence(Mr A would be absent for half of the working days and would require us to come dot on time or salary would be cut, he said), she said all the staff disliked him. He would boss over in an office he did not even pay the rentals for!

Ms X had several complains herself, deduction of salary when extra days/hours were not accounted for, coming to work at the filthy area of Sakinaka when work from home had been clearly promised right at the start, and others.

One weekend, when I was working on Saturday, and Ms X on Sunday(we had a 6 days work week which was not informed when joined even though I had asked), Ms X told me about not being well. She would probably take a leave on Sunday. When Mr A called me later telling me Ms X’s status, I told him I knew. This thing strangely angered him. He became furious on an employee telling another about not being well, it was something to be told only to the boss, apparently. He asked me to call at 11:30 at the night, and talked about Ms X’s “unprofessional-ism”. He also told, that Ms. X had very “rudely” responded on his message saying that her salary would be deducted. He asked me to keep it all confidential.

The following Monday, when Mr A was late as usual, I told Ms X the similarity in the nature of the conversation on Saturday night with Mr A to the one about the receptionist. This was the final hit on the nail, Ms X decided to quit.

When Mr A came, he called upon another employee, who had been hitherto listening to all our conversations. He immediately called Ms X and Ms X told her about her decision to quit. He told her OK, and that she could leave immediately without serving the notice period of 2 months that she had signed in the joining agreement. She said that she would decide and inform.

I was called, and among other discussions, rebuked for having leaked out the “confidential” discussion. I asked him that if telling about interactions with employees to another employee wasn’t the same – both were supposed to be confidential in nature. He quickly said that was a “grey area” and he preferred leaving it so.

Ms. X quit in the next two days. However, before quitting, Mr A went back on forgoing the notice period. He asked her to serve her notice-period. Ms. X wrote him that the month’s pay could be deducted in turn.

I had not yet signed the joining agreement. In fact, I had not been given the joining agreement till the 9th evening,  the previous day before the salary day. 10th was a work from home. The “other” office was closed down for holiday and that was the best bet for PQR to work that day. The holiday calendar was not yet provided. Earlier, before 2nd – Rakshabandhan, holiday was not given on the day because 10th – Janmashtami would be a holiday we were informed. On 9th, I was told 10th was not a holiday, because 15th was a national holiday.

I had worked so far with only one full day and a half day’s leave. On Monday, 13th Mr A chose not to come. I worked alone for PQR. On 14th, he did come, but he conveniently forgot his cheque; I had not yet signed the agreement. The agreement required a 2 months notice which I was never informed about. Plus, the salary was fixed to 2.4 lpa of which 24 thousand would be given at the completion of a year. In the meantime, I was urged by my family to quit stating the safety in working alone for such an “unprofessional” guy.

15th was a holiday. On 16th, I told him about the disapproval from family. He told that we would have the discussion after I had finished my work for the day. After I did, he called me asking me my take on it. I told him I would like to discontinue, except if I could work from home on the editorial. He told me the main aim at hiring me was to have a programmer; something that would not be so feasible from home. Salary, he said, he would have to reconsider: I had not signed the document, so I would be counted as a freelancer. Plus, the salary offered, he said, was way too high for the editorial. Since I had not yet worked on programming, I would be given a smaller one for the editorial. He told he would have to talk to his lawyer. He would call me the following week to come and collect my cheque.

It has been two weeks since, he never called me. I dropped him a mail saying that I had not heard from him since. He never replied.

Ms X told me recently, Mr A has put up yet another ad on Facebook – Media Jobs daily. But nobody has replied.

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