How to Find a Shabbos Friendly Employer?

Thanks for all the good advice on moving to Philadelphia. I have another related question.

I’ll be looking for a new job. I could use advice about finding a “Shabbat friendly” employer. When in the interview process do I bring up the topic of not working during Shabbat? Are there any other tips thats would be helpful. Up until now I’ve been working at jobs where this wasn’t an issue.

25 comments on “How to Find a Shabbos Friendly Employer?

  1. As far as the legal stuff, that’s certainly more your realm then mine, but I’d figure Ron is pretty up on this stuff. And also because a cousin of my husband’s has worked for COLPA for many years representing people in exactly those situations.

    Well, considering that I’m not an attorney…yet, I’ll defer to Ron too. But I don’t see how what I said was in conflict with what Ron said. It is not necessarily discrimination if an employer refuses to hire someone because they can’t work on Friday nights or Saturdays. I don’t want to waste my time in an extensive interview process if the employer has a valid reason for hiring only people able to work on Friday nights or Saturdays.

  2. I would have liked to live in KGH at one time but I didn’t have a million dollars to buy a 4 bedroom house……..OOOOFAH!

  3. This is completely off topic but I just thought it was interesting. (moderate if you please) My friend flew in from Baltimore last night and brought a delicious sandwich from a Kosher sub shop in a specifically purchased cooler bag with him for me (I made the airport pickup) He had all kinds of trouble in security because of this sandwich (having the cool gel pack examined closely and some of the condiments confiscated) All this was certainly worth it to me because it is hard to find such a sandwich in Albany. Now I can’t wait for lunchtime! Isn’t it amazing what we do to keep Kosher?!

  4. I’ve worked for “secular” Jewish bosses and had no problem with them at all. Maybe engineering is different?

  5. David,

    Just try to keep your nose clean and they won’t have to. Just a friendly reminder (knock, knock):)

  6. AJ,

    I don’t want you to think that I missed an opportunity to take a swipe at you. I was on vacation.

    Anyway, I don’t have a problem with government workers in general it’s just specific ones in Albany who like to knock their badges on windows to flex their muscles.

  7. Fern, excellent idea to network within the frum community.

    Just wanted to second Steve’s comment about working for goyim. The absolutely worst experience I ever had in the workplace was when I was working for a major Jewish (secular) organization. Although they were closed for all the Yom Tovim, they were not Shomer Shabbos, and my immedite supervisor used to give me a very hard time. Over the past few years I’ve had a supervisor from Trinidad and now one from the Dominican Republic. I’ve never had one iota of difficulty with either one of them with regard to my observance.

    As far as the legal stuff, that’s certainly more your realm then mine, but I’d figure Ron is pretty up on this stuff. And also because a cousin of my husband’s has worked for COLPA for many years representing people in exactly those situations.

  8. Fern,

    As you suggested, your shul/community contacts may know of Orthodox lawyers you could talk to, to get the scoop on local opportunities.

    Also, many Orthodox communities (such as Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Lakewood, Baltimore…) have local directories with listings of and ads for Jewish professionals and businesses. Possibly the Philly area has one, too, that you could borrow or buy.

  9. I think that many of the posters on this list would agree that it is far easier to work for a Gentile than a secular Jew in any profession. In many instances, Gentiles are simply far more respectful of Torah observant Jews than their fellow Jews who view us as relics from the intellectual and cultural stone age. Unfortunately, it is an all too common fact of Jewish life.

  10. Bob–That seems like a good idea (finding a firm with Orthodox Jews working there). Do you think networking within the Philadelphia Jewish community is the best way to find those sorts of firms, or is there another way to discover them that I haven’t thought of?

  11. Charnie–While an employer may have increased their chances of being sued if they offer someone a job and then take back the offer after finding out the person won’t work on Friday nights or Saturdays, they’re not necessarily doing something illegal. Discrimination is not hiring someone because they’re Jewish. It’s perfectly legal to not hire someone because–for whatever reason–that person is not available to work on days/times the employer needs his employees to work. Which is why this is a sticky situation (I think).

    I don’t want to waste a potential employer’s time or mine if they need someone who is ready and willing to pull an all-nighter on Fridays or come in for Saturday morning meetings. But at the same time, I know that there are employers who are willing to be flexible for the right employee. Thus my dilemma.

    It seems sensible to wait until after an offer is made, or at least until the employer seems very interested, to discuss work hours. It seems to be the best balance of time invested in the interviewing process vs. the risk of looking like a trouble maker/lazy.

    I will definitely give government jobs a good hard look, although if government jobs in Philly are anything like they are out here, they are hard to come by. In the California legal world, it seems that lots of people have figured out that government work is a good way to get a lot of experience for decent pay/benefits without having to sell your soul or abandon any thought of having a personal life.

  12. LC

    Annual leave is the same as vacation time. And your options are the same as mine, I just think that when you work for the government you will generally not be penalized further (other than taking leave time) for observance. When I was working in the private sector, “mandatory weekend work” (which happened often) would have been a big problem for me if I was observant at the time.

  13. Ditto to AJ about working for the government- that’s one of it’s real benefits. By agreement with my supervisors, I’ve been using 2 hours or so of Annual Leave each week for Fridays in the winter, or, if work merits it, doing overtime on other days and accruing it as comp time. Yom Tovim are not a problem – because it’s religious observance, the govt has to advance me the time if I don’t have enough AL on the books (and I never seem to).

    Apparently “your mileage may vary” applies *everywhere* :)

    There is state govt, city, federal – and each state and local govt can, to some degree, set its own policies (although they all need to honor ‘religious observance’ in some reasonable fashion). I also have a ‘govt job’, working for a state agency in MA, and I have never heard of “Annual Leave” – is this a ‘local’ term for sick & vacation time? And at least here, there are no ‘advances’ of time. Time off without pay, using time on the books (accrued vacation or personal days), or making a deal with your direct supervisor about making up the time for early Shabbos and Yom Tovim may all be options – for me they have been. Good luck.

  14. Ditto to AJ about working for the government- that’s one of it’s real benefits. By agreement with my supervisors, I’ve been using 2 hours or so of Annual Leave each week for Fridays in the winter, or, if work merits it, doing overtime on other days and accruing it as comp time. Yom Tovim are not a problem – because it’s religious observance, the govt has to advance me the time if I don’t have enough AL on the books (and I never seem to).

    But going back to my days in the private sector, I’d concur that you should wait till you have an offer before mentioning that you’re Shomer Shabbos. As an attorney, I’m sure you’re aware that the Supreme Court has said that an employer cannot discrimate because of religious observance – so if you’ve been made an offer and then they try to renege upon learning you’re Shomer Shabbos – they’ve just walked into a landmine. However, that said, be constructive about how you plan to make up for the time you need to take off – that you’re not looking to work less hours then your peers.

    And hatzlacha!

  15. Then look first for a firm or department where at least one Orthodox attorney is already working there happily.

  16. Thanks for the advice/info!

    Bob–If everything goes as planned, I’ll be looking for an attorney position.

  17. If at all feasible, a government job is a good way not to worry about Shabbos restrictions. You will get some teasing though about “government workers” (I know you’re out there, David Linn)

  18. I work for one of the Big 3 Car Companies. I will tell you, Shomer shabbas/ Yom Tov is a luxury that a simple management reorganization can make a nightmare.

    I have been very fortunate that my management (even Palestinian managers) have let me leave early for Shabbas and Yom Tov. Although, I do know of areas in my company that mandate 6 or 7 day work schedules including mandatory Saturdays. I am lucky that it has never come up for me as I could not find a job locally that would pay the same.

    My only downside is I have no real vacations. All of my vacation days go towards Yom Tov. A colleague of mine is lucky… His supervisor says he can take off Yom Tov without using vacation. Again, every department is different and every management change adds new angles.

    Dave

  19. I don’t have the answer as to when to bring Shabbat up. I think it is absolutely necessary to bring it up before signing an employment contract. If you are lucky, the workplace will have core hours that you can work around flexibly, deeming Shabbat somewhat of a non-issue. I think it would be a mistake to bring Shabbat up too soon, for fear of coming off as being demanding. I think when you do bring it up, you must demonstrate the willingness to go the extra mile when you are available.

    I’m looking forward to other commentors experiences because this is always a useful discussion.

  20. I think that this post is an excellent intro as to when one should bring up the subject of Shabbos observance on an interview. IMO, and I recognize that others may differ, the best time is immediately before you are being offered the position and the interviewer asks you if there is anything else that you would like to mention or discuss, etc. To start a job without informing a potential supervisor of Shabbos observance could lead to Chillul HaShem, as opposed to Kiddush HaShem.

  21. Fern, its hard to be specific not knowing what field you’re in. These days, most office jobs and many lab and factory jobs are on a 5-day week. If you need to confirm their normal work schedule, assuming they don’t just tell you, that can be done after they make you an offer, or even before that.

    Regarding “early Fridays”, you can often work extra hours on other days so as to be able to leave early on Friday to be home in time for Shabbos. Even in companies that have no formal flex-time policy covering this, you can often make a deal ahead of time with a sympathetic supervisor.

    In years that have Yomim Tovim largely on weekdays, most people starting a job lack enough vacation time to cover them all. If they won’t give you some amount of personal time off for the holidays not covered by vacation, they will often allow you to take these days off without pay. This past year, I was five days short of the vacation days needed for the fall holidays, so my boss let me take three days off without pay and come in to work twice on Sundays.

Comments are closed.