Help! My Employee Thinks She Deserves Pay In Exchange For Labor!
Ask A Manager, 19 October 2021:
I’m not comfortable with one of my new staff members and how overconfident she is. Her work is great and she needed very little training but she’s got very big britches.
“Jane” has only been with us for two months. Just today she asked for a meeting with me and our payroll manager. It turns out payroll made an error entering her direct deposit information that resulted in Jane not getting paid, not once but two times.
Our company requires potential candidates to complete sample assignments during the interview process and we pay them an hourly contractor rate. It turns out she didn’t get paid for her assignment period, or for the next full pay cycle. The payroll employee apologized directly to Jane in an email, because it was their error in entering her information and not following up/fixing it that resulted in Jane not getting paid. Jane was able to show emails back and forth where she checked in with the payroll employee and asked if it was fixed, which they confirmed it was. Today was payday and Jane didn’t get paid. She checked with the employee again and they acknowledged that they “thought” it was fixed. It’s upsetting for Jane, I understand, but I think she was out of line about the whole thing. People make mistakes.
Neither payroll nor I knew anything about it until today. We both apologized and assured her the issue would be handled. After that, she looked at me and the payroll manager and said, “I appreciate your apology, but I need you both to understand that this can’t happen again. This has put me under financial strain and I can’t continue to work for COMPANY if this isn’t corrected today.” The payroll manager was heavily in agreement, but I was speechless that she’d speak to management like that.
Payroll handled the whole thing and cut her a check with the okay from HR. Jane had referenced that not being paid put her in financial hardship and unable to pay bills, so HR allowed the use of the employee hardship fund and gave her $500 in gift cards so she can get groceries and gas and catch up on bills. I’m just kind of floored that she’s getting gift cards after speaking to her superiors like that. I’m also uncomfortable because why is our company responsible for her fiscal irresponsibility? Her personal finances or debts are not the company’s responsibility. I just don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to give her more than what she’s earned (the extra $500 from the employee emergency relief fund) to fix things for her if she overspent or didn’t prioritize her bills or save smartly. We also don’t know if she is actually experiencing a financial hardship or just claiming she was.
HR allowed her paid time to go to the bank today and deposit her check. I told our HR person that while it’s not okay Jane didn’t get paid, the way she approached it was uncalled for. HR told me, “She’s right, it can’t happen again and it shouldn’t have happened at all.” I’m getting tired of the respect gap I’m seeing with younger staff. I think Jane would be better suited in a different department. I’m not comfortable having her on my team since it’s obvious she doesn’t understand she’s entry-level and not in charge. Should I wait a while before suggesting she transfer to a different department?
You raise a number of important issues, not least among them: why do we work? Do we work because the vast majority of us are helpless to escape a fundamentally exploitative global capitalist system that requires us to exchange our time and skills and labor for money or else simply fuck off and die? Or do we work because we must get taken down a peg or two before we get too uppity to be useful to our social and economic betters?
I'm being rhetorical, of course! The correct answer is the latter, obviously. Work is not something people should or even usually do for a paycheck, which is what makes this situation so bizarre! Work is something people do because it's the right thing to do, because it is intrinsically good for its own sake, which is to say: because it literally enriches and empowers only the most worthy in order to further distance otherwise useless, entitled grunts like your employee from getting anywhere close to laying even the barest finger, even a pinky finger, on the means of production. There's nothing more purely and altruistically satisfying than working, especially when we know that our labor serves to strengthen the boot upon our own necks! A strong boot means a happy worker! Huzzah!
And what you have here, letter writer, is not a happy worker — what you have here is a worker who believes work and pay are related, and that they are entitled to reimbursement for their work merely because that is the immutable and binding nature of the laws where you live. I can't think of a better example of one being too big for one's britches than this little grabby-gabby wiseass with the gall to demand payment for services rendered per an expressly agreed-upon prior contract between all parties.
It's a real shame that the law requires people to be paid for their labor regardless of whether they bring a sufficiently sunny attitude to the workplace, and there's certainly nothing sunny about being clear and direct that you cannot continue to work for free indefinitely with a spring in your step and a song in your heart! What kind of sourpuss can't show a bit of cheer in the office, even if the lights are off at home and they can't afford groceries or other basic essentials because of the repeated incompetence of an employer who holds their very survival in their hands? That's not the kind of can-do attitude that gets people ahead in this world!
Of course, by "people" we mean young people, who will never succeed as long as they remain universally and frightfully presumptuous. Everyone your age and older has unimpeachable comportment in every situation, whereas people who are younger than you are disrespectful smart-alecks — and it's frankly disturbing that your HR department conceded so quickly to your employee's unreasonable fixation on receiving money that she was legally entitled to! What's next, avocado toast and $5 lattes on demand???? A living wage???? Health insurance???? For an entry-level employee who's so poor with money management that she complains about going months without pay????
Only people who suffer in silence at length out of sheer and absolute terror at offending those who hold control over their financial wellbeing deserve to be paid money for food and shelter, and they can take their paychecks whenever your company damn well gets around to it, and thank you for the pleasure! Why wait to transfer this employee out of your department — surely you're not afraid of offending this selfish peon? Cut her loose, along with anyone else she might have influenced with her money-grubbing ways, and ensure that you are surrounded only with the worshipful lackeys you deserve!
4K notes · View notes