Days off for Tests

Discussion in 'Railway Jobs & Careers' started by Cornish Cannon, 14 Apr 2019.

  1. Cornish Cannon

    Cornish Cannon Member

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    For internal applicants I guess it's easy, but how are some of you outsiders getting days off for all the tests?

    I'm struggling to come up with reasons to take time off, I don't have any holiday left and each job application takes a rather long time with multiple visits at random days for different tests then interviews. The standard is high and I can't seem to get past the last interview stage, I apply for another position and go through the process again each time costing me around 2/3 days off work.

    I have 2 in progress and passed the online tests. I am hopeful but again this could be another 6 days off my current job. I guess if I get one of the jobs it all pays off but I Just wondered how others were managing? I want to work on the railway and don't want to give up, but not at the cost of getting the sack at my current job for a job I may never get on the railway.
     
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  3. Gooner18

    Gooner18 Member

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    It is hard , especially as I find they don’t give you a lot of notice , usually 1 odd week which makes it’s really , really difficult to book holiday.
     
  4. Teddyward

    Teddyward Member

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    I was lucky to have a sympathetic line manager who wanted to leave himself.
     
  5. Trainguy90

    Trainguy90 Member

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    Ive always worked shifts so managed it through a mix of holidays, shift swapping and just being lucky enough for it to fall on a day off.
    Guessing it’s difficult if you work a mon-fri 9-5, but short of pulling a sicky which I’d advise against, I guess it depends on your companies policies in regards to taking time off
     
  6. OneLowban

    OneLowban Member

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    I worked shifts so either got the day mutually swapped or managed to be able to pick an interview day etc on a day I was already off.
     
  7. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I’ve been in this position myself. Although I currently work shifts so in theory should have got lucky if we are using averages, it never happened like that lol. It seemed that whenever I was offered a date for interview or assesment I was rostered to work! GWR were quite good in that when I was invited to my interview they gave me two dates, with two time slots for each. At the time I was covering a management position so it was easy enough to attend as I just blanked my calendar out.

    When I applied for Freightliner and was subsequently invited to assessments it was the opposite. I had some leave I could take, but that only took one date in to account, when I had to do my stage two assesssment Centre I had to stay in Crewe overnight because of where I live and it was a bit of a nightmare. I managed to blag it as leave in the end as I have always had good managers. I’m still in this scenario for me Medical on Thursday for GWR. Technically I shouldn’t be allowed to take annual leave (because others are already off), but I spoke to my manager and explained how important to me this was and he understood.

    You’ll find that usually TOCs and FOCs aren’t great with their flexibility (to be expected since they have hundreds if not thousands of candidates who would no doubt be able to attend if you can’t). I won’t condone people being naughty of course, but you have to ask yourself what length you’ll go to to attend these things I guess? ;)
     
  8. amateur

    amateur On Moderation

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    Do you think your current employer might get curious?
     
  9. AG1994

    AG1994 Member

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    I've let go several opportunities because of this.

    They insist on coming from a safety critical background, and then give you 4 days notice to attend an assessment as if safety critical roles allow their staff to just neglect their duties at short notice! I first believed the system was unintentionally rigged in favour of those coming from lower level backgrounds where time off didn't matter. Hopefully any future opportunities for me will fall on my off days.
     
  10. Cornish Cannon

    Cornish Cannon Member

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    20 years ago it was so much easier, interview at the Jobcentre for about an hour then started 6 weeks later. no online tests and all these different stages.

    As much as I want it and look forward to receiving an email inviting me to such and such I also dread the thought of going through the whole process again!
     
  11. Highlandspring

    Highlandspring Established Member

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    A large Scottish/Dutch TOC gave me one day’s notice (less than 24 hours in actual fact) for an interview and when I told them I couldn’t make it I was infomed I was effectively withdrawing my application, thanks and don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out.
    Taking days off as sick leave is a high risk strategy - the further through the process you get the more single days off you accrue and if you’re unsuccessful in your application then you’re left with a very unhappy employer, probably on attendance management and potentially getting sacked the next time you genuinely require time off sick or start the driver application process again...
     
  12. Bucephalus

    Bucephalus Member

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    I've had the exact same problem. I decided on all three occasions to be honest about what the time off was for. The last time (new boss, new company) I was told 'No' so missed out on an assessment for a FOC. Five days notice.
     
  13. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I agree it’s highly risky, and would never advise this approach, but given how difficult the process is, I can see that this method would appeal. Depending on your attendance to date, the odd few days here and there could of course have a negative impact. Then there’s the fact that if you’re successful, in addition to whatever time off sick you’ve already had with your current employer, these extra few days might not look too great when asked how many days off sick you’ve had over the last couple of years.
     
  14. Tony43

    Tony43 Member

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    Been really lucky so far as iwork shifts if you offer to work someones sat or sun shift they will normally cover the day off you need
     
  15. kadmus

    kadmus New Member

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    I was invited for an assessment day with GWR but it fell on a mandatory safety critical training day with my current employer, so no chance of changing the shift. Haven't heard anything about a reschedule so I'm hoping I haven't just missed out completely.
     
  16. Bucephalus

    Bucephalus Member

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    I'm starting to think that the onus should be on the prospective employer to be more accommodating with assessment times / days. In a sense, it's another way to bring the numbers of applicants down but might they be filtering out quality, reliable candidates?
     
  17. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    There will be hundreds of quality applications no doubt, so I don’t think there will ever be an onus on a prospective employer to be more flexible. If you were in their shoes, and basically had a captive audience, would you be that bothered if some couldn’t make the assessment dates? It’ll certainly never be forced up on any company to adopt this approach as it would be impossible to regulate. Some companies are more accommodating throughout the process than others admittedly. I found GWR to be more accommodating than Freightliner as a whole (although I didn’t need to take any assessments for with GWR).

    Freightliner although I can’t fault the process, expect a lot when inviting people to Crewe, from the south of the country, potentially meaning an overnight stay. It costs money for the applicants with no guarantee how they will do on the day, plus potentially have to take two days off work. When I attended my stage one with freightliner they gave me an afternoon slot so I could come up the same day, but my MMI (I didn’t have to do the computer tests) was at 9am, requiring a hotel stay.

    The train travel wasn’t an issue, as I used PRIVS, but I can see how it can all mount up.
     
  18. GH 12 34

    GH 12 34 Member

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    If you pass Day 1 tests then you won't have to do Day 1 again for three years, if ever (because it is valid for all your applications).

    If you pass Day 2 and the MMI, then you won't have to do that again for three years, if ever (because it is valid for all your applications).

    Me, I took the day off for Day 1, and passed.

    I swapped my morning shift for an afternoon shift, then did Day 2 and hurried through the MMI to get to my shift, and passed.

    Then for the Managers' Interview, I booked an afternoon slot. So I worked my morning shift, raced Lunch, got changed and did the interview fully not expecting to get the job so I relaxed, was totally honest and treated it seriously but as practice for the next one.

    Now I'm a Train Driver.

    Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance: so little bits of study & practice, often.
     
  19. Dynamonic

    Dynamonic Member

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    I was lucky enough to arrange shift swaps for my assessments, until I got to the final stage, where no one was able to swap with me. I felt genuinely gutted and in my desperation, I took the honest approach, opening up to my manager about exactly what was happening. It was one of the greatest decisions I made. She totally understood, appreciated my honesty and gave me the day off. From that point on, I kept her updated about how I got on, and when I made it into my TOC’s Talent Pool, kept her informed on any potential start date developments. Up until the day I left, I worked on transitioning all my roles and responsibilities to my colleagues over the few months I had in the Talent Pool too.
    The whole process was much smoother than I ever thought it would be. :)
     
  20. Stigy

    Stigy Established Member

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    I took this approach with my manager for my medical. It was the final hurdle and I technically couldn’t take annual leave (as two colleagues were already off). I explained how much this means to me and how I would frankly have been silly to tell GWR I couldn’t make this medical as they made it clear there wasn’t another one (although I’m sure if I pushed them I probably would have been able get another date, it wasn’t a risk I was prepared to take).

    My manager understood completely (he knew I was in the pool anyway) and authorised the annual leave. Sometimes it’s best to be honest from the outset, but I appreciate this is often a risk as if you tell your manager and they aren’t supportive, what can you do? I’m lucky in that I’ve always had this support. If it was internal (I was technically, but not for GWR as a TOC), I my TOC will always honour any assessments etc regardless of the logistics of having staff released from their duties.
     
  21. AG1994

    AG1994 Member

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    I remember having a phone interview with an HR manager from Scotrail a few years ago. He took an hour of my time asking all the questions I’d already answered on the written application: the “describe your reaction to a previous dangerous situation” stuff. He was well aware from my application that I was an officer serving my time at sea, he was also very aware from minute 1 in the conversation that I was at sea on that day, a few weeks away from returning. He sounded genuinely excited at the possibility of me attending an assessment centre, and proceeded to tell me the only available day for me was the next day and asked if I could get from the middle of the Irish Sea to Glasgow to attend. It was at that moment I realised why HR are globally hated, and that the system generally didn’t work for many people in higher level, responsible roles that can’t swap shifts with Gerry from t’other shift.
     

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