Stealth office shots for the insatiably curious

So, started the new temp job on Friday.  A huge improvement on the last first day.  These people were normal for a start and actually had a reception desk at the front door!

The job is all straightforward PA-type stuff so I won’t bore you with the details but I couldn’t resist taking some stealth shots of the office.  I’ve been in London office blocks for so long, I forgot what some Queensland offices can offer.

In my old London office, we had floor-to-ceiling glass windows, open-plan desks in rows (sort of like a cafeteria I guess) and, if I craned my neck, I could just see the London Eye.

Behold, my temporary Brisbane office:

The outside, open-air deck, framed with lovely leafiness.  Perfect for sandwich lunching.  

The massive staff kitchen, complete with tropical fish tank (which is dangerously distracting)

The office ‘bridge’, complete with bistro tables (the office is straddled across two buildings with an open-air – but under cover – bridge linking the two)

Street view from the bridge

In London, the closest thing I got to fresh air was the 5 minute walk between the Tube and the office.  By contrast, sitting on a Friday afternoon, eating your lunch while a soft tropical breeze floats past you and the birds twitter is… a very nice change.

Also, while we’re drawing comparisons, I’m curious as to how London and Australia compare with each and with the world.  For instance:

London:

  • 35,000 pounds is a good, average wage for someone in office admin.
  • Rent varies but you wouldn’t see much change out of 1200 pounds a month for a 1 bedroom flat that’s within a couple of zones of the City (unless you’re living in a dodgy area).
  • I could do a weekly shop for two people for 50 pounds but this didn’t include meat as my Guy is pescetarian and I figured I could definitely cut down on the red meat so I followed a similar diet.
  • Your wage is paid directly into your nominated bank account once a month.
  • 5 weeks holiday is standard with all permanent jobs.
  •  The hours for all my jobs has been 9am-5pm with a 1 hour lunch break – some people work 9-5.30, or 8.30-5.
  • All current pension plans are an 8% (roughly) contribution of your annual wage made by your employer (over and above your wage) into an investment account with a pension provider.  The pension provider invests these funds – there is no guaranteed income/amount of money at your retirement (you’re at the mercy of the markets, like with any stockmarket share).  In addition to the funds you’ll receive at your retirement from your work “pension”, the state also pays a pension to all people of retirement age.
  • All healthcare is free (all citizens pay a tax throughout their working life – deducted from their monthly wage – that contributes to the National Health Service).
  • All medicines issued by your doctor are paid at a flat rate – no matter what the real cost of the medicine you only pay the set rate (which is about 10 pounds I think?).  Unless the medicine you need is not on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS), in which case you pay the market rate (this would be fairly rare though).
  • Maternity-leave must be provided by all businesses (unless they’re a small business owner, I think).  Most businesses offer 3 months paid maternity leave full-pay and then an additional 3-6 months maternity leave at reduced pay.  Businesses are obliged to give your old job to you once you return (however, depending on the length of your maternity leave, your employers can give you an equivalent job at the same rate of pay rather than the exact same job).  Women have the right to demand flexible working hours upon their return.
  • Base income tax rate is 20% for wages up to 34,000 pounds, 40% from 34,000-150,000 pounds and 50% for income above 150,000

Brisbane:

  • 65,000 dollars is a good, average wage for someone in office admin.
  • Rent varies but I’m currently looking at flats in inner-city Brisbane that are 400 dollars per week (1 and 2 bedroom flats with very large balconies that are intended to be outdoor living space. If you go out into the suburbs, you can get a 3 bedroom house for the same amount).
  • 4 years ago, I used to be able to do a weekly shop for one person for 100 dollars – with meat.  I suspect this will have increased somewhat.
  • Your wage is paid directly into your nominated bank account once a fortnight (2 weeks).
  • 4 weeks holiday is standard with all permanent jobs.
  • Standard hours for office admin are 9am-5.30pm, with a 1 hour lunch break.  However, some people start at 8/8.30am and finish 4.30/5/5.30pm.
  • All current pension plans (called superannuation in Australia) are a 9% contribution of your annual wage made by your employer (over and above your wage) into an investment account with a superannuation provider.  The pension provider invests these funds – there is no guaranteed income/amount of money at your retirement (you’re at the mercy of the markets, like with any stockmarket share).  In addition to the funds you’ll receive at your retirement from your work “pension”, the state also pays a pension to all people of retirement age.
  • Healthcare is mostly free, however you have to pay a hefty penalty when you do your taxes if you do not have private health insurance.  Not all GPs ‘bulk bill’ (where they charge the government 100% of your bill and you pay nothing) – some make you pay up front and you get a portion of it back later when you claim it from the government (via Medicare).  If you need emergency care and go to hospital, it will be ALWAYS be free to you, even if you don’t have private health insurance.
  • Medicines vary in price – they are subsidised but not to the same degree in the UK.  You will pay different prices for your antibiotics, etc, depending on what you’re buying.
  • Maternity-leave was only recently introduced (in the last year or so) and businesses are not obliged to offer it.    If they don’t, the government offers paid maternity-leave in their stead.  Government paid maternity-leave is at the national minimum wage of 570 dollars per week.  Businesses tend not to offer paid maternity leave much beyond 6 weeks (I believe), however women can be on unpaid maternity leave for some months and have the right to demand flexible working hours upon their return (as well as their old job) so long as they’re back within 1 year.
  • Base income tax rate is 15% up to 37,000 dollars, 30% between 37,000 and 80,000 dollars, 37% between 80,000 and 180,000 dollars and 45% for income over 180,000 dollars.

How does this compare to where you are?

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2 thoughts on “Stealth office shots for the insatiably curious

  1. I’m so jealous of your workplace! We’re located in the small town ghetto, or so I call it. If I look out my windows I can watch people drink beer on couches on their lawns and count the number of rusted vehicles they have in their driveway. It’s beautiful…but on the plus side we have the only open window in the entire building!

    It’s interesting to compare different countries. I studied international relations and studied abroad in college so I love to here how efficiently the government and such things work. Usually I’m just trying to keep up with our own here. Rent where I live ranges from low (800/month) for a 1 bedroom to insane (2000/month for 2 bedrooms). That’s just for condo/apts. Houses range from 300K – 1m depending on location. The mountains are a prime real estate area and the closer you get to them the grander and more expensive the homes.

    Our most recent healthcare bill passed by Obama is interesting………… the premise is it provides health care to everyone, private insurance or not. But it involves paying a tax if you choose not to have it and a lot of it is based on income, etc. The premise behind it is wonderful because there are so many people who need insurance who can not pay for things they need. But it raises policy rates, taxes and basically gives the government control. I’m not a huge fan. I like that ER visits are free to you regardless of insurance. Even with insurance I have to pay a co-payment at time of service. I know that there is federal funding to pay for visits if you’re without insurance but I don’t know how that works.

    Maternity leave here falls under FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) that guarantees 12 weeks of leave within the first 12 months and you’re guaranteed your same job/pay when you return. In Colorado you can take it anytime during that first year, I’m not sure if that’s the same in all the states. FMLA also includes any serious health problem or care for family members in the service who have a serious injury. I am learning so much about it because I’m entitled to it for my upcoming foot surgery and I am required to exhaust all sick/vacation/comp before I can go on unpaid leave. So even if I wanted to I couldn’t take unpaid leave. We also have supplemental insurance through Aflac that pays a set amount for 3 months if you have to take unpaid leave. Though I may sound completely idiotic by saying this but I just assumed most countries had that in place. What made Australia decide to implement maternity leave?

    Wow…so that was a lot. 🙂

    • That’s interesting! I kinda wanna see your bogans drinking on their couches (‘bogans’ is what Australians call work-shy no-hopers, on benefits with 5 children to 5 different partners, yet still have plenty of money for high-end TVs. ‘Chavs’ is what we call them in England).

      Sounds like real estate where you are is pretty comparable to here. I have to admit Australians and British alike are fairly bemused by the uproar ‘Obamacare’ seems to have caused with Americans. I guess we’re coming at it from a totally different angle – my whole life, medical care has been completely free. It’s only in the last 10 years or so in Australia that they started encouraging private health insurance and that doctors wouldn’t totally bulk-bill. We’re also used to the extra tax that’s taken out of our income to cover these sorts of benefits – I imagine if a tax is introduced for it, like in America, it wouldn’t feel as “free” – or as welcome.

      Re maternity leave – now that HAS caused a complete kerfuffle in Australia. Prior to the legislation, many/most corporate companies would offer some kind of maternity leave in order to retain good employees. It’s just that it wasn’t mandated by law. Now that it has, there is a lot of complaints from small-to-medium businesses that the cost of offering maternity leave is prohibitive, particularly when the global economy isn’t great and the Australian dollar is so strong, making us less competitive. I can understand that. There also seems to be a bit of a cultural ‘thing’ against it – many Australian employers have been very open about the fact that they will no longer hire a woman of ‘breeding’ age because they hire them only to lose them 6-12 months later on maternity leave and, if the woman has more than one kid, might only see her in the office for a few months every year. However, the government has persisted with legislation because, in this day and age, not offering maternity leave is sort of seen as third world.

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