Recruitment and Marital Status

Yesterday I came across this Tweet:

To which I replied:

Marital status is important: some roles will seriously strain a marriage.

This appeared to cause some confusion. The original poster – who appears to work in recruitment – couldn’t work out if I was serious or not, and some other pompous twit from Brooklyn (where else?) jumped in to say that what I was doing was illegal, the laws exist for a reason, and I am “not helping” by not understanding this.

For the record: I am not a manager and I am not involved in recruitment or hiring in any capacity. But I used to be, a long time ago.

It’s interesting that anyone should consider what I said as contentious. Perhaps I’m wrong, though. Maybe the partner working long hours in the office, being too involved with work, or spending weeks away from home is something that rarely gets mentioned in divorce proceedings? Somehow I doubt it.

But I looked at it from another angle. You probably don’t want to be sending a middle-aged family man on a lengthy overseas assignment to places like Russia, Venezuela, or Vietnam on single status. This is often a recipe for disaster as he gets bored and ends up having an affair with one of the many young local beauties who hunt expat men for sport. Yes, the responsibility for the affair lies squarely on the shoulders of the man, but I have heard enough wives complain bitterly that his employer should not have sent him there in the first place: had he not gone, the family would still be intact. I am not convinced the employer, knowing full well what is likely to happen, doesn’t have some duty of care here. But the law says that they must not attempt to exercise it.

I understand why the laws came in: enough people were convinced that married or unmarried men or women were being discriminated against when it came to recruitment, and they believed marital status should not make any difference. Which is odd, because I am forever hearing about the importance of a work-life balance, but for that balance to occur one must surely consider what sort of life we’re talking about. Apparently that is illegal.

For the sake of this post, let’s say I might agree that companies should not be allowed to reject a candidate based on their marital status, but I think it imperative that an employer explains the nature of the job to candidates and attempts to fully inform them as to any possible impact on their personal life. How else is the candidate supposed to make an informed decision? Supposing the job involves working nights, or spending weeks away from home? Should the company not ask the candidate to consider the effect this may have on his personal life? The candidate might not even be aware the job would have such an effect, as I’ve heard a lot of men lament as they lie amid the ruins of their lives, shacked up with a Chinese hooker and the divorce papers on the way. As things stand, the employee is on his own to figure out how a job might affect his family, and the employer is compelled by law to pretend it is irrelevant.

It’s not even clear to me which direction the discrimination is supposed to run in. I can think of several roles that would suit single people, but I often hear that very small, dull, or restrictive places are “good for families”; single people will go crazy with boredom. At the very least, I think a company should try to ensure that each person’s personal goals, expectations, and family situation are as compatible with the location and demands of the position as possible. An unhappy employee with domestic troubles is the last thing a company needs.

National governments have attempted to legislate away the effects a demanding job has on family life, as if by passing a law they simply disappear. They don’t: all they’re doing is creating more work for divorce lawyers, brewers, and the manufacturers of anti-depressants. The idea that an employer – who has such a massive impact on your life, controlling around a third of your waking hours – should take no account of your personal and family situation seems insane to me. But here we are: obviously most people like it this way.

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24 thoughts on “Recruitment and Marital Status

  1. Affairs happen in offices too, quite frequently. Including between married people who are otherwise leading a normal life with spouses, kids and so on. I’ve no idea where people get the cojones [sic] to do it, “Hi, fancy sleeping with me?”. “No”. “Oh. Well, forget I mentioned it!!!!” “Yeah, right.”.

    But either I’ve worked in a lot of dens of iniquity or it really does happen quite a lot (and I’m going only on the ones I know of).

  2. BiG,

    Indeed, that was something I was going to mention but forgot: married people working long hours together in one another’s company, away from their families, is how a lot of affairs start.

    It doesn’t happen as you imply: it’s simply that intimacy builds as the familiarity does, and all it takes is a few late nights and/or weeks away for that intimacy to build into a relationship in the same way it would between any two couples.

  3. Well, I’m guessing that Stevie Buckley is a one man band recruiter/HR consultant, who has extremely limited experience, since he’s only ever worked in the tech startup sector, so he has simply never come across any role likely to cause marital grief. He might not even be able to think of one.

    Odd that most of the profile pictures on that thread seem to involve beards.

    Office affairs : your number of a third of waking hours a week is fair enough, but, in terms of close contact/interaction, it’s almost twice that. Hardly surprising that they happen really, since for five days a week you might only have a couple of hours of meaningful contact with nearest and dearest, which is a quarter of the hours spent in the office. And that occurs when you’re tired after the day.

  4. Knew a guy years ago who, while holding down a dull as ditchwater everyday office job, was suddenly told he could go an a week-long jaunt with other staff. One of his colleagues told him ‘fun things happen’ on these trips and recommended he get some contraceptives. You know, wink wink, nudge nudge, etc.

    Well nothing happened. Flirting, sure, but he was out of the loop in that regard and went home still unsullied. Trouble was, he forgot to get rid of the two unused condoms he had salted away in his wallet. His wife, hearing such ‘fun’ happened on these trips went through his pockets and yes, found the condoms. She exploded, accused him of thinking of having extra-marital sex, and that was the end of their twenty year marriage.

    Of course he shouldn’t have listened to promises about ‘fun’ and if he was stupid enough to leave the so-called evidence in his wallet and hadn’t realised he was married to a woman who went through his things then, well, he only had himself to blame. At least in theory. In practice, it is hard to avoid temptation and even the promise of temptation when it seems an open and no consequences playing field.

    Mind you the opposite side of this was a very good journalist (but shit human being) I worked with who was sent to cover the LA olympics. The man loved to phone his story in each night from California while in the middle (technical phrase) of humping a local good-time girl. Everyone at the paper knew about it (yes, he bragged about doing it) and one wonders if his wife ever got to hear. But, some marriages are stronger than others. or not much caring.

  5. Good post. I agree with all you say.

    I heard, a while back now, that the Australian (I think) diplomatic service had a policy of only sending single (non-married at least) people to the Philippines. The men would virtually always be whisked away by a local beauty. The fact that they speak English there, as well as being hot and servile (which you can also get elsewhere in Asia), added to the risk.

    It is dumb to ask fellow colleagues out for a date. The wise way to do it is just to act as normal until such point it is bloody obvious that you are ‘meant to be’ (to the point where other colleagues are uncomfortable being the same room as the two of you – for fear of some kind of accidental explosion of sweat, spit and cum).

    I have a friend in a similar situation. Wife is a bit boring and a severe workaholic (also a rampant lefty – the weather comes up a lot when I meet her; he’s a rampant centrist), girlfriend is ten years younger and pretty hot it has to be said (he’s average as is his wife). From what I’ve heard she sounds like the kind of girl that gets bored easily so I am afraid that if he dumps his wife for her, he might find himself with nothing (including access to his 2 year old daughter.)

  6. “obviously most people like it this way”: you sarcastic fellow, you. Probably they don’t, but if we had a referendum on it the political/media class would try hard to ignore the result.

    Years ago in our Works the limiting resource for plant mods wasn’t money but Instrument Artificers. The plant managers would tremble if they heard that a tiffie’s marriage was in trouble, because experience said that they’d be off to Saudi in a jiffy.
    There was no sign that happily married tiffies had any interest in working in Saudi.

  7. Well, I’m guessing that Stevie Buckley is a one man band recruiter/HR consultant, who has extremely limited experience, since he’s only ever worked in the tech startup sector, so he has simply never come across any role likely to cause marital grief. He might not even be able to think of one.

    Yes, that was my first thought too.

    Odd that most of the profile pictures on that thread seem to involve beards.

    Heh!

  8. One of his colleagues told him ‘fun things happen’ on these trips and recommended he get some contraceptives.

    That’s a blog post in itself. Married guys go whoring in oil towns only when a bunch of their colleagues or so-called mates are at it as well, and egging them on. Seen this a million times.

  9. I heard, a while back now, that the Australian (I think) diplomatic service had a policy of only sending single (non-married at least) people to the Philippines.

    Uh-huh.

  10. you sarcastic fellow, you.

    Moi?

    Probably they don’t, but if we had a referendum on it the political/media class would try hard to ignore the result.

    If it bothered them that much they’d have thrown this shit out along with the HR departments that dreamed it up. Look at what’s happening with Uber, not that I care.

  11. I’ll agree with the “page 1 of 7” – The main points can go on one page. I often have to scroll to the 2nd page – if nothing has excited me by then, it’s usually all over.

    I discriminate brutally on marital status. For management roles. If the applicant is aged under 40, and is not married (i.e. “churched”) then they’re pretty much out of the running, even if they’ve been living with their “partner” for many years.

    Older than 40, marital status is not so important, provided there’s domestic stability.

    For Stability is what I’m looking for. Being married is an indicator of commitment. I don’t hire fly-by-nighters for management roles.

    For lesser roles – marital status is important only coz I have to house most staff, and housing & feeding a spouse is a “twofer” + a “family” takes up about 4 times the housing footprint of a single person.

    The other big discrimination is I must see a photo. No photo – no start. (reality is I keep to this about half the time).

    Moronic SJW jobwebsite administrators are always blocking me, or taking my job ads down, coz it is “illegal” to ask for a photo (it is not), or that their “terms of service” prohibit asking for photos (they usually don’t – I know coz I’ve learned to read ’em before I post a job ad).

    The best some dumbarse has ever come up with is a photo will allow me to discriminate, by knowing if an applicant is Male or Female. (FMD).

    But yes, I discriminate brutally for marital status.

  12. “dumbarse”: what a heartening example of transatlantic cooperation.

    But how does it differ from dimwit?

  13. …. and, yeah. That “HR expert” above is a real plonker.

    They usually are.

  14. Depends
    Single bloke for job which might involve rush travel.
    Married bloke for loyalty.
    They are signifiers, in the anthropology jargon.

  15. Worked somewhere once where person C reported to person B who reported to person A. C and A are married, but not to each other.

    Person C starts affair with person A. Person C turns up at B’s house asking for support as marriage is breaking down. B doesn’t know about C+A.

    FIrm MD, to whom A reports, finds out as C and A become a couple (with two broken marriages behind them). Does he (1) tell them ‘no’ as it involves a direct reporting line and a very difficult time for B or (2) say it’s all OK as A is the ‘golden boy’ of the moment.

    C is not well liked at senior level except she was very effective at sucking up to directors, if you see what I mean.

  16. it’s simply that intimacy builds as the familiarity does, and all it takes is a few late nights and/or weeks away for that intimacy to build into a relationship in the same way it would between any two couples.

    Or, if that does not work, just add alcohol

  17. Work in mining FIFO ex-Aust, young single guys are easier to recruit but after they formed friendships then if one or two left the others were likely to go as well as the group dynamics had changed. Young married guys with babies or very young children at home are highest maintenance, something always goes wrong.
    Always tried to get as diverse a group as possible, married with mortgage is best.

  18. Single bloke for job which might involve rush travel.
    Married bloke for loyalty.

    Yup.

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