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Job-related costs eat a chunk of your salary

WORK LIFE
By JOHN KARIUKI | August 20th 2014

Gideon Lang’at, a teacher, has been losing his hard-earned cash to mobile phone money transfer services. Lang’at is a senior manager in his school and parents normally send money to their children through his mobile account.

The system was working well until some parents began sending money without including the withdrawal charges. These parents would called the school and tell their children to expect the face value of the money they had sent. Rather than argue with his pupils, Lang’at incurred the withdrawal charges.

“In the last two years, I have been footing the withdrawal charges until the day I added up the numbers,” he says.

Lang’at reasoned that he received about ten money transfers a week, each costing Sh27 to withdraw. Cumulatively, this came to a shocking Sh10,530 for the 39 weeks of the school calendar.

“I called a meeting with all parents and told them the grim cost of this essentially personal favour. We resolved that henceforth, the withdrawal fees would be deducted from all the money sent this way, with the pupils getting the balance,” says Lang’at.

No longer enthusiastic

Alphonse Kanyi is a sales executive at a modest bookshop in Nakuru. His brief entails a lot of travelling and making phone calls. Recently, he added up the shillings and is no longer very enthusiastic about his job.

“I spend at least Sh100 daily on phone calls and Sh300 on matatu fare. This is more than Sh8,000 a month, which nobody reimburses,” he says.

Welcome to the hidden costs of jobs which, regardless of their size, eat into one’s actual take-home salary. Besides the “statutory costs” like house rent, medical and commuter expenses that people meet directly from their salaries, some hidden costs are big enough to eat into one’s savings and put a hold on one’s investment. Indeed, some people have been prompted to change jobs when the stark truth of such costs dawned on them.

Daniel Munene, a personal finance banker, warns that the small hidden costs of a job can accumulate to a huge deficit in people’s personal finances and lead to workplace resentment. He advises people to anticipate such expenses and factor them in their expected pay regime before they sign up for any job.

“Alternatively, they must keep track of such seemingly small monies and learn to negotiate with their employers for reimbursement,” he says.

Jotham Ngacha, a shop steward of one hospitality union, says the hidden costs of one’s job can be contentious, especially where there are no clear structures of reimbursement.

“While it is generally assumed that the management employees’ fringe benefits far outweigh the small inconveniences of using their personal cash on official expenses, it is a different matter for lower cadre employees,” says Ngacha.

The unionist acknowledges that labour laws often stop at the work contract and do not anticipate the nitty gritty details of the daily work environment. He advises employees to keep receipts of all the little things they buy with their money at work and present these to their bosses.

“It often pays dividends to attach a memo detailing why the expenditure was necessary to such claims,” he advises.

last resort

Spending your money in the workplace should be a last resort and authority should be sought first from your boss or supervisor and preferably in writing or via SMS text that is retrievable, adds Ngacha.

In the event that business is to be transacted after work in cafes and other social places, Ngacha advises employees to state the estimated cost of this and discreetly ask if it will be compensated.

Many jobs have a hidden cost in the inconveniences caused by separating family members. This translates as extra cost through frequent visits to their families. Some people working away from their families are often idle in the evenings and engage in drinking, adding to the cost of their jobs.

Maintaining a professional image as one’s job demands can also be a big cost. Contrary to popular stereotypes, there are no jobs that demand the trendiest suits and latest models of cars.

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