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Diwali bonus time …

In Being Ma'am on November 9, 2010 at 4:18 pm

… hmmm … what’s Hindi for bar humbug?

Diwali in India looks a lot like Christmas in the UK; everyone has time off work, you give gifts and there are pretty lights everywhere. It doesn’t seem quite so commercialised as Christmas which is good but as India develops I expect it will become increasingly so. There is one aspect that I just don’t like; there is huge pressure to give EVERYONE gifts and money.

I am led to believe that one month’s salary is a standard Diwali bonus – think about it – that’s a whooping 8% – not bad for just doing your job. I have had advice to the contrary via my expat network where someone told me that sweets were the norm not money. Am I being taken for a ride just because I’m European?

For our household staff we started at a month’s salary as a maximum: Our housekeeper got a month’s salary (because she negotiated it as part of her contract) and a box of chocolates, as did our gardener, our new maid only got sweets because she’d only been in post for 3 days, our security guards only got sweets because I don’t pay them I pay a company so I reckon they should get any financial bonus from their company, I forgot about the dustbin men so I gave them a month’s salary when prompted (they asked for it).

Today the postman came to ask for his Diwali bonus. I said words to the effect of, “forget it”. I did explain that as I have no financial relationship with him I do not consider a financial bonus appropriate and I don’t have any sweets left. I expect that will get lost in translation.  He may have asked because he thinks it’s reasonable to do so or he may have asked because I’m a westerner and therefore a soft touch (or a combination of the two) – I don’t know. The postal service is pretty erratic anyway, I wonder if I’ve just made a mistake. We’ll see.

Dean’s staff all got a month’s salary, again just for doing their job, and a box of chocolates each at £4 a pop. I can’t help thinking that there is something not quite right about Diwali bonuses.

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