Sex and the Sea: Summer Tales From the HR World

Aug 16, 2011
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

In the spirit of these August dog days, here’s a little collection of HR snacklets to entertain you and, maybe, even inform you. I swear, though, that it is the former, not the latter, that I intend.

An HR case from Oz.

A government worker was dispatched on a business trip to rural New South Wales, where she was instructed to spend the night. To while away the time, the 40-year-old woman took up with a male acquaintance. During what must have been a particularly frisky rollick, a wall lamp over the bed fell, injuring the woman. She filed for worker’s comp.

When it was denied, she sued, her attorney arguing in court last month that having sex is “normal behavior.” “Having sex,” he said, ” is just one of those things. It’s not the 1920s, after all.”

The court is currently considering a decision. Want more? Go here. There’s even a video. (I know what you’re thinking and it is NOT of that.)

Now let’s turn to vacations.

How do you know when you’re on vacation?

Before the devil foisted the Internet and cell phones upon us, that was easy. You got up after the sun, dressed however you wanted, didn’t go into the office, and did pretty much whatever you wanted.

Nowadays, we need a court and lawyers to tell us. Conveniently, they have.

A vacation, explained a California Court of Appeals a couple weeks ago, is “paid time off that accrues in proportion to the length of the employee’s service, is not conditioned upon the occurrence of any event or condition, and usually does not impose conditions upon the employee’s use of the time away from work.”

What prompted the definition (which, I must point out, doesn’t explain what all those people at beach resorts are doing answering work emails), what got the matter into court, was a disagreement over a sabbatical.

Advanced Micro Devices offered a paid, two-month sabbatical (oh, those good old days) to workers with seven or more years of time in. When Eric Paton quit before taking his sabbatical, AMD claimed he forfeited it. Not so, said Paton. It was accrued over my seven years and, just like vacation time, you owe me, Paton said.

The lower court ruled against him, but the appeals court reversed, sending the matter back to have someone else, maybe a jury, decide when a sabbatical is a vacation and when it’s not.

It did offer some guidance in deciding the “thornier problem” of unconditional sabbaticals. Besides adopting the California Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement guidelines, it added one:  An expectation that the employee will return to work after the sabbatical.

Still with me? Good, because now here’s a suggestion about what to do with all that sabbatical time you have.

Find a job at sea.

There are hundreds, hundreds! of boats looking for crews. They’re on If there’s a more romantic, adventurous job board for the wanderer in us, I don’t know it.

The paying jobs want you to have experience. Others don’t care and will take you along for whatever help you can provide.

There’s a Polish sailboat down in Brazil planning a leisurely cruise around South America looking for people willing to share the work for a ride. How about sailing the Aegean aboard a 51′ American ketch?

Play your cards right, and you might end up sailing away just in time to skip the EEO-1.

Help catch pirates.

Crewing a boat around the world not enough? Then I leave you with his opportunity: The European Union is looking for a Pirate Cultural Advisor. It’s not enough that you know how to talk like a pirate. The EU really wants ex-military with a security clearance. Points, presumably, if you sailed the Somali coast and made it through.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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