Q: I am a digital marketer for a local company. On most days, I am expected to work early morning shift starting at 4 AM. Those working early morning shifts are supposed to be picked up by the company vehicles but in my case, I am not – based on the argument that I live very far. I am forced to take a cab every morning. Should I request the company to refund me the money I use on cabs?
Note: When I first joined the company one year ago, I was only expected to work on the normal 8 to 5 time frame. I cannot relocate because I live at home.
You have a few options you could explore. First, your employer has changed the terms of your engagement without your consent. This change has impacted you negatively since you now need to get to work at a time when public transport is not available. You are therefore entitled to be picked as other employees albeit at reasonable distance. It is not fair for the employer to deny you this service on basis of where you live, nor is it fair for you to live out of town and expect to be picked.
A reasonable compromise would be for your employer to define what distance is considered ‘very far’, and for them to make arrangements to pick you from that point. Your responsibility will be to get yourself to the pick-up point at the appointed time, at your cost.
Alternatively, you could ask for a travel allowance on grounds that your colleagues are provided with transport benefit and you are not. The allowance may be used to compensate any other employees denied company transport on basis that they live out of town. Your employer will determine what is a fair allowance to offer and although this may not be sufficient to cover all your expenses, some will obviously be offset.
You clearly say, “I cannot relocate because I live at home” meaning you are saving some money by not paying for rental accommodation in town and that is good. But weighed against the time you spend on the road commuting to and from work, the strain this is likely to put on your health in addition to key relationships with family not forgetting your social life, the option to pay rent may be attractive.
You need to do the math and see what will cost you more in the long run.
All said, your employer is not being fair and have only considered an option that suits them. Get them to look at all options and if that fails consider looking for a job that has favourable working hours.
It is a labour contract after all, don’t be afraid to take your service where you are rewarded appropriately.