This is desperately sad but…..

What actually is the solution?

Amandeep Kaur, 29, a Hermes courier from Leicester, was in the back of an ambulance rushing her seriously ill son to hospital when she first felt the pressure to get back to work. It was two weeks before Christmas, one of the busiest periods for Britain’s booming parcel delivery industry, but Kaur’s six-year-old, Sukhmanjeet, had collapsed at home and she could not make her deliveries. A few hours later, with her son about to undergo surgery, she rang her manager.

“I said my son had had a cardiac arrest and I can’t come in,” she recalled. “I don’t know how long for, but he is my priority right now. [The manager’s] response was ‘Oh, it has come at a very busy time’.”

Even as her son’s condition worsened, she felt pressured to get back to work as soon as she could or risk losing her round.

Over the coming days, Kaur said she called her manager with updates about her son, but as a self-employed courier with no employment contract, she felt her job was under threat.

One one occasion, she said, after Sukhmanjeet had a leg amputated, “the response was ‘OK, I can try and help you for the next few days, but I can’t make any promises [going] forward’.

“[The manager] was saying ‘Come back in two days or there’s nothing we can do. We need to give your round up because it is a busy period’.”

Her son died on 19 December 2015.

They, the employer, need someone to do the round. She’s self employed and cannot do it.

Kaur said she went back to work 10 days after her son’s funeral, which she said was far too early.

“I was told there were conversations happening at the depot that they couldn’t keep my round for too long,” she said. “I was under pressure. I wasn’t ready.”

So, umm, actually, they did keep her job open then?

24 comments on “This is desperately sad but…..

  1. The solution is for mothers to stay at home and not work. This much is obvious.

    But what sort of six year old has a fatal heart attack? What the hell has she been feeding him?

    Ultimately this is a story about a decent work place with a decent boss. I bet that is not the way it was spun. Male? White perhaps? Not a chance.

  2. Casual self-employment is not a good career choice for the mothers of poorly young children. Who’d have thought it?

  3. Hallowed Be – “please don’t be like that.”

    OK. I accept that was a little insensitive. But this is still really surprising. Six year old Sikh boys don’t often die from heart attacks.

    The rest is the standard hatchet job on the poor employer. Who does seem to have been about as decent as you could expect. She is really one of their employees but they seem to have been sympathetic, supportive and more than decency could demand.

    The Guardian is still complaining.

  4. The whole story doesn’t cut it as a tale of some sort of abuse from her bosses.

    At one point she complains they never got in touch with her. So they can hardly be harassing her. Had they rung her up every day asking when she was coming back–well that would count as harassment in my book. But they didn’t and they kept the job open for her. The “busy time of year” remark sounds insensitive in the case of someone with a dying child but that is hardly worth a newspaper article. Far worse than that has happened to far more people.

  5. I worked for Hermes not long ago as I had nothing better to do. They’re always desperate for people so she would always have had her job back especially if she was reliable to start with. Whilst she was away, what were they supposed to do?

  6. I read your excerpt, waiting for the shoe to drop; it never did. I too can’t see what the problem is here, other than the lady being in a crappy situation.

    I went to the article’s webpage and entered “father” and “dad” in my browser’s word search. No matches found.

    [The manager’s] response was ‘Oh, it has come at a very busy time’.

    Honest statement. Simple statement of fact.

    she felt her job was under threat.

    “felt”.

    ‘OK, I can try and help you for the next few days

    Decent of him/her to try to help.

    but I can’t make any promises [going] forward’.

    Honest statement. Simple statement of fact.

    “[The manager] was saying ‘Come back in two days or there’s nothing we can do. We need to give your round up because it is a busy period’.”

    Honest statement. Simple statement of fact.

  7. SMFS- Yes, surprising anyone under the age of 40 has their heart give out on them but yet it still happens. Perhaps the journo could have eked out a few more details, but unless they smell something suspicious I don’t think we can expect the nth degree.
    I agree that this is not high quality journalism for the reason Tim gave. It’s campaigning journalism. They have the human story but they don’t really have any big bad guys on the hook for doing bad things bigly.

  8. So the Guardian wanted her job keeping open indefinitely, until she “felt ready” to go back to work.

    Meanwhile someone’s got to do her work, with no contractual security because he’s got to be booted out in her favour whenever she comes back.

    How’s that more fair than the one who can’t come in to work losing their job?

  9. Hallowed Be – “Perhaps the journo could have eked out a few more details, but unless they smell something suspicious I don’t think we can expect the nth degree.”

    I don’t think that there is any question of something suspicious. But if eating Boondi or Jalebi is going to give me diabetes by the sounds of it followed by a heart attack, I really want to know.

  10. Why does something ‘have to be done’ about every unfortunate thing in the world. Shit happens, people suffer, water is wet.

  11. Candidly

    You are a selection of some of the most heartless neoliberal trolls in the country

    There is no lack of resource to prevent this tragedy. Only a lack of political will.

    If the Ideas expounded in the Joy of Tax and the Courageous State had been adopted, there would be ample resources for everyone.

    The state could run a courier company just as well as a private entity.

    They could have used some of the £150 trillion tax gap I gave calculated in my garden shed using an abacus.

    They could have implemented country by country reporting exposing Hermes as a tax avoider, shunting its profits into secrecy jurisdictions like Norway, New Zealand and Germany, which would have yielded enough tax to allow all
    Employees in all sectors inflation – linked final salary schemes and up to fifteen years sivknleave on full pay.

    They could have implemented the Green New Deal and paid for the child’s treatment via People’s QE – which is ultimately cost less as the UK is a sovereign nation which could easily issue £800 trillion of debt with no impact on inflation, as Colin Hines and I have ably demonstrated

    Yet the Current government did nothing. This is the neofeudalism which will be caused by Brexit.

    Those who wish to disagree with me may do so but not here.

  12. The work needs doing. While she is not available to work then someone else must do that work.
    By what the article says she was treated far better than many companies would have with self employed people.

    Ok her son in an ambulance – every company is going to say that is the important thing. He dies 10 days or so later – ok, again the company kept in touch. Back to work 10 days after the funeral? Is that her choice or the choice of the company? As self employed she won’t have been making any money in that time, and how soon after the funeral is too soon?

    This article sounds pretty normal. Nothing bad, nothing particularly good, pretty much as you would expect really. If anything the company appears to have kept her round for her which they would not be required to do.

    Is this an example of ‘dog bites man’ news?

  13. SMFS “I don’t think that there is any question of something suspicious.” – agreed.
    “But if eating Boondi or Jalebi is going to give me diabetes by the sounds of it followed by a heart attack, I really want to know.”
    In this case the journo was pursuing the guardian’s campaigning agenda, for dietary causes of death agenda sounds like you need to broaden your reading to include the DM.

  14. I was going to point out that if The Guardian is such a source of wisdom on employment practises then how come so many Guardian staff are so unhappy with the Guardian management? But Rob has beaten me to it with his link.

  15. What Martin said.
    She had gone for *more than* three weeks without earning a penny and – being self-employed – was ineligible for benefits. [Note she went back 10 days after the funeral, not ten days after his death].
    One might ask whether she could have worked in the hours between “visiting hours” while her son was in hospital and a brutal employer would have asked that.

  16. “What the hell has she been feeding him?” SMFS please don’t be like that.

    What SMFS said was fair comment.

  17. Theophrastus – “What SMFS said was fair comment.”

    In fairness I should not be flip about the death of a child.

    However in their effort to frame what looks like a perfectly good employer – and can anyone seriously suggest anything else they could have done here? – they seem to have missed the real story. What on earth could damage a six year old’s health so badly they have to remove limbs and then he dies from heart failure?

    What can anyone do? Here is another despatch from the meltdown of American Higher Education:

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/anti-suicidality-bigots-at-stanford/

    Stanford is to blame because …. they took her suicide attempt seriously and got her medical treatment?

    W. T. F.?

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