It seems reality shows have become the near equivalent to jury duty when it comes to taking leave of a job to become a part of pop culture. Even if it’s not a part of civic duty, a reality show may seem that way to some who think they’re helping shape entertainment on TV. No matter your philosophy on that almost 15 years into reality shows dominating television, you have to convince an employer of the same thing. While an employer has no choice except to give paid leave when someone gets called in to jury duty, would they do the same if someone goes on a reality show for an extended run?
This might still be untested territory considering how little is written about the matter. It’s going to depend on individual circumstance, with some lessons already in the media about what can go right and terribly wrong.
Asking for Leave
Some reality show contestants have successfully received leave from their jobs in order to appear on such shows as “The Bachelor.” E! reported several years ago how some contestants on the aforementioned show managed to get several weeks leave from their jobs in order to be compete on the show. Perhaps this was due to how powerful reality shows have become in pop culture and the potential publicity it could bring to the person involved. Even if there’s a slight mention of the company or business they work for, it could potentially mean a huge uptick in business.
Whether this was any factor in getting a friendly paid leave is unknown. But the above E! report makes it clear that you have to clear a leave with everyone. A schoolteacher on “The Bachelor” received paid leave, though the principal who gave the ok was fired for not going to a superior first. It’s a lesson in how you need to be cleared at the high end before running off to compete for possible stardom.
It may also be a subtle sign that not every company is going to be open to letting their employees go off to compete.
Should You Just Quit Your Job?
One thing about reality shows that contestants have long figured out: The publicity you receive is worth more than anything you might gain by winning. Many losing contestants on shows like “Survivor” on through to “American Idol” go on to do better things than the winners do. In that regard, reality shows might be worth the risk in just quitting your job with the assumption you’ll gain other employment in the world of showbiz based strictly off publicity.
It may sound like a risky move, though some reality shows pay contestants, regardless if they win. “Survivor”, for instance, pays all their contestants fairly well just for participating. It could be enough to live on while other employment opportunities brew on the horizon.
Working Out a Guarantee to Return to Your Job Later
Perhaps you can’t get a paid leave, but you can work out a contract where you return to your job later. Maybe you’ll be demoted or be behind in advancing, though you’ll at least have your old job back if you have no other options. Even this might be too much of a risk for some people who get scared playing a guessing game on when their next paycheck will come in.
Eventually, as reality shows perhaps wane, most people will want to hang onto their jobs rather than leave one to take on a reality show. With far too many reality show stars exploited and left to embarrass themselves trying to maintain a career in show business, keeping one’s own reality intact may be the new and smarter frame of mind.