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BOFH: Knitting bobble hats on the steps of the guillotine

While the Boss happily skips up the steps and puts his neck on the block

Episode 10

"Good news!" the Boss blurts, rocketing into Mission Control in a frenzy, “I’m going to be heading a new working party to improve website usability."

"You poor bastard!" I gasp, "I didn't even see it coming!”

"See what coming?" the PFY says, lugging a box of recently replaced hard drives out of the server room.

"The boss is heading a 'working party' to investigate something about the website."

"Usability," the Boss chips in.

"Ah well," the PFY sighs.

"Ah well what?" the Boss chips in, defensively.

"When you've got someone on your staff that you want to stick it to, but you're afraid of the rather liberal employment laws, you create some fictitious role and then flush that – and them – down the crapper at the first opportunity," I say.

"I don't think that's the case," he chips back.

"Annoyed the Director recently? Perhaps mentioned the similarity between his wife's voice and the whine of a belt sander?"

"What?! No! He and I are getting on well. In fact, he owes me one for helping him out at a recent budget meeting. I managed to find a way to shave about 100 grand off the capital budget!"

"And how could that be a bad thing?" I say. "Telling Finance they can slash your Boss' budget by £100K. He’d never hold that against you!"

"It’s still a promotion!" the Boss snaps.

"So you're going to be taking on a bunch of additional responsibility?"

"No, it's more of a fixed-term secondment. Obviously, there will need to be some backfill of my position while the working party is under way."

"You know that scene in Goodfellas, when Joe Pesci's character walks out of the garage into the empty basement – then *Bang!* That's their version of a fixed-term secondment."

"What do you mean?"

"If you can't get rid of someone, you 'promote' them into oblivion."

"It's a lot more money!" he says, still in defence mode.

"If they only pay you for half a year it sort of cancels itself out,” the PFY counters.

"It's a 2-year contract."

"Which they'll void for 'failure to achieve performance objectives', once someone says the website's unusable."

"I can still go back to my old..."

“No, because 'technology's changed so much in the time you’ve been away' – regardless of how short a time it was. Your role's disestablished and there's a new role, like ‘Technical Functional Support Co-ordinator’ or some crap like that, which they've shoehorned your replacement into, avoiding any legal entanglements.”

“But that’s constructive dismissal!”

“Only if THEY create the role. But YOU created the role didn’t you?”

“No?” the Boss replies, uncertainly.

“But you did, didn’t you?” the PFY wheedles, noting the tinge of doubt in the Boss’ voice. “They said something like ‘Oh, I don’t know what we could possibly to about the web-blah-blah-blah’, and you said something vague about the place needing a good shake-up. They came back with something like ‘No – we really don’t know what we need in there, we really should just investigate the whole area, I suppose. But the review is such a senior position and so important that we’d have to earmark a significant amount of money just to pay the contractor – it’s a shame we don’t have any in-house resource that we could just second this role to, till we have it sorted’. AND YOU WERE IN THERE LIKE A ROBBER’S DOG!”

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