Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => All In A Day's Work => Topic started by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 03:25:11 PM

Title: Asking an employee to do personal work, Update pg 3
Post by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 03:25:11 PM
BG: I am the manager at a small business owned by a married couple. I know them very well outside work, and they are longtime family friends. We see each other frequently. Mrs. Boss in particular can be really crazy and paranoid sometimes, but she has always treated me exceptionally well overall.

DH and I have a retaining wall in our front yard that is poorly built and about to collapse. We are going to rebuild it ourselves. Mr. Boss has volunteered to come help us, as well as a few family members. We are doing the work on Tuesday, during the workday.

We have an employee, Tom, who has some experience with construction and retaining walls. Both Mr. and Mrs. Boss agree that Tom should come help us with our wall. They will pay him his usual salary while he is there, as well as gas to/from our house. Tom has helped on construction projects at Mr. and Mrs. Boss's home before. Tom has agreed to come work at our house.

I just...feel a little hinky about this. I don't want to take advantage of anyone and I don't really feel it's an appropriate use of company resources.

What do you think? Is this an ok thing to ask of an employee, or would you tell the Bosses no?
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: DottyG on April 10, 2011, 03:30:11 PM
I think that they can choose to run their company any way they want. If they want to pay him to help, it's their money.

Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Larrabee on April 10, 2011, 03:33:17 PM
The only thing that concerns me is that you say he has 'some' experience.

If you didn't have this connection to Tom would you hire him for the job?

I'd be concerned that if something went wrong with the work it could get very awkward very fast.

Its nice of your bosses and Tom to offer, but I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 03:36:11 PM
The only thing that concerns me is that you say he has 'some' experience.

If you didn't have this connection to Tom would you hire him for the job?

We already have the plan for what we are doing, and it's pretty straightforward. Tom will mostly be there to help with manual labor. Everyone else working on the project has enough experience that no one person will be responsible for decision-making. I like Tom a lot and wouldn't be opposed to hiring him without the work connection.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Larrabee on April 10, 2011, 03:41:26 PM
The only thing that concerns me is that you say he has 'some' experience.

If you didn't have this connection to Tom would you hire him for the job?

We already have the plan for what we are doing, and it's pretty straightforward. Tom will mostly be there to help with manual labor. Everyone else working on the project has enough experience that no one person will be responsible for decision-making. I like Tom a lot and wouldn't be opposed to hiring him without the work connection.

Fair enough, then I suppose it makes sense, I wouldn't worry at all.  

Your boss might want to check up on any legal responsibilities that paying Tom for this kind of work might bring with it, just to be covered.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: PaintingPastelPrincess on April 10, 2011, 03:44:20 PM
The only thing that concerns me is that you say he has 'some' experience.

If you didn't have this connection to Tom would you hire him for the job?

We already have the plan for what we are doing, and it's pretty straightforward. Tom will mostly be there to help with manual labor. Everyone else working on the project has enough experience that no one person will be responsible for decision-making. I like Tom a lot and wouldn't be opposed to hiring him without the work connection.

Can you take Tom aside and say something like "Hey, I appreciate the offer of help on the yard project; but, I just wanted to make sure it's something you volunteered for rather than the bosses voluntolding you.  If you didn't want to, or if you had other plans, that's totally fine."

It could be that he'd like the extra money for something, too, and doesn't mind doing this type of work on the side.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 03:45:50 PM
The only thing that concerns me is that you say he has 'some' experience.

If you didn't have this connection to Tom would you hire him for the job?

We already have the plan for what we are doing, and it's pretty straightforward. Tom will mostly be there to help with manual labor. Everyone else working on the project has enough experience that no one person will be responsible for decision-making. I like Tom a lot and wouldn't be opposed to hiring him without the work connection.

Can you take Tom aside and say something like "Hey, I appreciate the offer of help on the yard project; but, I just wanted to make sure it's something you volunteered for rather than the bosses voluntolding you.  If you didn't want to, or if you had other plans, that's totally fine."

It could be that he'd like the extra money for something, too, and doesn't mind doing this type of work on the side.

It's during Tom's normal workday, so he would just be working at our house rather than working at the shop. He wouldn't get any extra money, just his usual salary.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: PaintingPastelPrincess on April 10, 2011, 03:51:16 PM
The only thing that concerns me is that you say he has 'some' experience.

If you didn't have this connection to Tom would you hire him for the job?

We already have the plan for what we are doing, and it's pretty straightforward. Tom will mostly be there to help with manual labor. Everyone else working on the project has enough experience that no one person will be responsible for decision-making. I like Tom a lot and wouldn't be opposed to hiring him without the work connection.

Can you take Tom aside and say something like "Hey, I appreciate the offer of help on the yard project; but, I just wanted to make sure it's something you volunteered for rather than the bosses voluntolding you.  If you didn't want to, or if you had other plans, that's totally fine."

It could be that he'd like the extra money for something, too, and doesn't mind doing this type of work on the side.

It's during Tom's normal workday, so he would just be working at our house rather than working at the shop. He wouldn't get any extra money, just his usual salary.

Does he do manual labor typically?  If so, I wouldn't be too bothered about it.  If not, I'd still pull him aside and make sure he knew that it was fine if he'd rather stick to the duties outlined in his job description.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 03:52:11 PM
Does he do manual labor typically?  If so, I wouldn't be too bothered about it.  If not, I'd still pull him aside and make sure he knew that it was fine if he'd rather stick to the duties outlined in his job description.

He does manual labor frequently, but not every day.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 03:53:10 PM
Thank you all for your opinions. I feel better about having Tom help out now; I was afraid that it would be abusing my position or his employment to have him help.

Thanks!

Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Cutenoob on April 10, 2011, 04:16:08 PM
Make sure to provide refreshments and ask if they want a pizza break or sammich break.  Any time someone does manual labor around me (movers, painters, friends helping spring clean) I always offer food and drinks.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 10, 2011, 04:39:47 PM
Make sure to provide refreshments and ask if they want a pizza break or sammich break.  Any time someone does manual labor around me (movers, painters, friends helping spring clean) I always offer food and drinks.

We will have plenty of refreshments, and pizza and beer at the end of the day.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: rose red on April 10, 2011, 04:47:08 PM
I don't think it's a problem if Tom doesn't mind.  He may welcome a change and refreshments sound like a good deal on top of that.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Dorrie78 on April 10, 2011, 05:26:55 PM
Just for the other perspective, I once had a job where I was asked to do personal things for the CEO during the day (going to his house to walk his dogs, things like that). I never said it was a problem, but I quit that job very happily and never looked back. I thought it was amazingly inappropriate and was furious most of the time, even though these requests happened during the work day, so I was being paid my normal salary. I felt like that CEO completely abused his position and tried to make me into a personal assistant.

Just wanted to pass along another opinion....
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Raintree on April 11, 2011, 12:50:20 AM
Just for the other perspective, I once had a job where I was asked to do personal things for the CEO during the day (going to his house to walk his dogs, things like that). I never said it was a problem, but I quit that job very happily and never looked back. I thought it was amazingly inappropriate and was furious most of the time, even though these requests happened during the work day, so I was being paid my normal salary. I felt like that CEO completely abused his position and tried to make me into a personal assistant.

Just wanted to pass along another opinion....

I agree that it's important to find out if Tom REALLY doesn't mind, or does he just feel uncomfortable saying no? Maybe he welcomes the excuse to get out of his normal duties, in which case it's fine. Or, maybe he resents it because by taking THIS job (with whatever school/training was needed for it, if any) he was trying to get OUT of construction/manual labour.

I've also been asked to do things that weren't in my job description when it was discovered I had some other skill. However, the "some other skill" was something I had never wanted to be stuck doing ever again; I'd taken the time to train for this new skill, and I really wanted them to forget I ever knew how to do that other thing. It can be awkward to refuse, especially when it's a mom and pop operation rather than a large company with a HR department.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: LadyClaire on April 11, 2011, 07:50:25 AM
Just for the other perspective, I once had a job where I was asked to do personal things for the CEO during the day (going to his house to walk his dogs, things like that). I never said it was a problem, but I quit that job very happily and never looked back. I thought it was amazingly inappropriate and was furious most of the time, even though these requests happened during the work day, so I was being paid my normal salary. I felt like that CEO completely abused his position and tried to make me into a personal assistant.

Just wanted to pass along another opinion....

I had a similar job for a while. I also hated it and felt very uncomfortable with it..especially when CEO reamed me out because I couldn't get a new power cord for his laptop because he wanted me to get it from IT and they said "no way", as it wasn't a company laptop but CEO's personal one.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: MommyPenguin on April 11, 2011, 08:21:45 AM
I think if it isn't a government job, and the bosses asking Tom to do the work actually own the business (in other words, nobody is being taken advantage of by having their profits/money go towards the work at your house instead of the business except the bosses, whose idea it was), then it's not a moral issue.  Assuming, of course, that Tom is okay with it.  If this isn't so different from his regular work, he may actually enjoy the change of venue for the day.  So I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Peggy Gus on April 11, 2011, 08:50:42 AM
My Boss is also the owner of the company, there are times when employees have done personal tasks for him during working hours. The difference is that he actually is the person who signs my check opposed to say a CEO who may run the company, but isn't the owner.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: O'Dell on April 11, 2011, 08:53:12 AM
I would feel a little weird about this too. I think it's better to keep work life and personal life as separate as possible. The arrangement your boss is suggesting mixes work and personal up a lot. I can see all sorts of messy scenarios resulting. If boss is such a great employer, I'd talk to him about it. Let him know that I'm uncomfortable with it and take it from there.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: jibby on April 11, 2011, 08:59:26 AM
I think if it isn't a government job, and the bosses asking Tom to do the work actually own the business (in other words, nobody is being taken advantage of by having their profits/money go towards the work at your house instead of the business except the bosses, whose idea it was), then it's not a moral issue.  Assuming, of course, that Tom is okay with it.  If this isn't so different from his regular work, he may actually enjoy the change of venue for the day.  So I wouldn't have a problem with it.
This was my thought, too.  It sounds as though there are no stockholders/government involvement; jus the married couple.  And with shatzie's additional info along the way, I agree that this is fine, as long as Tom agrees.

I used to work for attorneys who would ask me to run their personal errands (not in my job description), but they gave me gas money, or let me use their cars (which were WAY nicer than mine, lol) and they insisted that I run one or two of *my* personal errands at the time as well.  I prefer getting out and about to sitting still any day, so this was a fantastic arrangement for me.  Perhaps Tom would welcome the change of scenery as well.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: DaDancingPsych on April 11, 2011, 09:11:04 AM
I currently work for a small business and my boss asks me to do personal things for him. While nothing has been terribly inconvenient and it has always been during the work day (so I am being paid), I don’t feel like I can decline to do the favor. I feel like saying no would cause bigger problems and hopefully if I am kind to my boss, then he will be kind to me when it comes to my requests (usually time off or needing to come in late). So, I do agree that you should take Tom aside and ensure that he is truly comfortable with this. You may be his only “out”, as you can express to boss, “You know, we have several friends coming by to help and I fear that we have too many people helping. Tom should do his normal work.”

That said, I do enjoy a change of pace sometimes. When I do favors for my boss, it is often nice to do something different than sit at a computer (and read e-Hell) all day. My favorite favor was putting together donor signs for the parent group at his son’s school. Yes, you may pay me to play with scissors and glue! So, it is very possible that Tom is looking forward to assisting, too!
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Dorrie78 on April 11, 2011, 09:34:19 AM
I'm not sure where government jobs, boards and stockholders came into the discussion, but please consider that Tom is probably in a position where he won't feel comfortable saying no. His boss is asking him to do some work that is not in his job description and that isn't in support of the business' core mission. Just because he can do it during work hours and will still be paid and will be offered pizza still doesn't make this right. I know there are some places of work that this may be perfectly fine and maybe the OP's place is like that. But this isn't asking a friend over to help with a project. This is asking a subordinate in the office to do personal work at someone's house.

In my previously mentioned experience, I was pretty sure that if I refused to do this extra personal work, I would have been fired on the spot. There is no way that I would have said no, even if someone had given me an "out" and told me I didn't have to do it. The fact that the CEO asked me to do it was ultimately what made me do it.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: The703 on April 11, 2011, 09:56:50 AM
The only thing that might be problematic is if he were to get hurt. He's working a normal work day, but at your house.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: magicdomino on April 11, 2011, 10:10:47 AM
Are things slow at the shop?  Is Tom an hourly employee?  If there isn't much work at the moment, the business owners may figure paying Tom to help with the wall is better than paying Tom to do very little, or not paying Tom at all.  Tom may well agree with that last point.

On the whole, it is between Tom and the business owners.  As long as both sides are fine with it, it's okay.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: sparksals on April 11, 2011, 10:13:57 AM
The only thing that might be problematic is if he were to get hurt. He's working a normal work day, but at your house.

I was about to post this myself.  It could get into a huge mess if he is injured on your property.  Since this is personal, he probably wouldn't be covered for WC if he gets hurt.  I think you need to seriously think about this and decline his help.  It could cost you more than you realize.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: amylouky on April 11, 2011, 12:03:07 PM
I would feel weird about this, too, for many reasons. As pp's have pointed out, Tom would most likely feel uncomfortable saying no to the owners, even if he didn't really want to. Plus there are issues if he is doing this as part of his job and got hurt.
Also, is his salary at current job comparable or more to what someone would earn doing this kind of work? I would definitely not be okay with him doing construction work that would normally make, say, $30 an hour, if his salary at your company is only $15.
I think if he freely volunteered to help, that's one thing.. but it doesn't sound like he did, since the owners decided that he should help, and are paying him for it.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Ceiling Fan on April 11, 2011, 12:07:23 PM
Just for the other perspective, I once had a job where I was asked to do personal things for the CEO during the day (going to his house to walk his dogs, things like that). I never said it was a problem, but I quit that job very happily and never looked back. I thought it was amazingly inappropriate and was furious most of the time, even though these requests happened during the work day, so I was being paid my normal salary. I felt like that CEO completely abused his position and tried to make me into a personal assistant.

Just wanted to pass along another opinion....

I guess I'm weird, I always loved it when asked to run an errand for a boss. Get out of the office or shop for an hour and still get paid? Sounds good to me :D
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: jibby on April 11, 2011, 01:33:59 PM
I guess I'm weird, I always loved it when asked to run an errand for a boss. Get out of the office or shop for an hour and still get paid? Sounds good to me :D
I'm with you.  Let's pick up dry cleaning and stop off for ice cream!  :P ;D
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Sharnita on April 11, 2011, 01:37:39 PM
Dorrie, I agree completely.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Virg on April 11, 2011, 04:09:18 PM
The injury issue is the big point for me.  But given that the boss is the owner, and assuming that you can be sure Tom is happy to do it rather than being pushed into it, it's my only sticking point.  Consult legal help about the ramifications and get signatures to protect yourself.

Virg
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: humbleonion on April 11, 2011, 09:22:48 PM
Shatzie, you've mentioned on numerous occasions that your boss takes a lot of liberties with your personal boundaries. This, to me, would be way out of bounds. Why is she offering to pay someone to work on your house? Do you feel comfortable saying no to her? This situation seems really inappropriate to me.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 11, 2011, 09:26:33 PM
Shatzie, you've mentioned on numerous occasions that your boss takes a lot of liberties with your personal boundaries. This, to me, would be way out of bounds. Why is she offering to pay someone to work on your house? Do you feel comfortable saying no to her? This situation seems really inappropriate to me.

For one thing, she is a close family friend and we've done favors for each other in the past. For another thing she practices a religion that promotes doing what you can to help others. She sees her business as an extension of this and so offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: fffirefly on April 11, 2011, 09:40:05 PM
Shatzie, you've mentioned on numerous occasions that your boss takes a lot of liberties with your personal boundaries. This, to me, would be way out of bounds. Why is she offering to pay someone to work on your house? Do you feel comfortable saying no to her? This situation seems really inappropriate to me.

For one thing, she is a close family friend and we've done favors for each other in the past. For another thing she practices a religion that promotes doing what you can to help others. She sees her business as an extension of this and so offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed.

I guess that's what seems off to me - "offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed". It's one thing to volunteer yourself, its another thing to volunteer someone else. If its the same type of work and she is just comping the work to you, I would be fine with it, but since it's not then I don't think it's appropriate. Just because someone is the boss doesn't mean they have free reign over what telling someone what to do under the guise that they are paying them.  Whether he's being paid or not, she is volunteering him to do something. I personally would not accept it.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 11, 2011, 09:49:17 PM
Shatzie, you've mentioned on numerous occasions that your boss takes a lot of liberties with your personal boundaries. This, to me, would be way out of bounds. Why is she offering to pay someone to work on your house? Do you feel comfortable saying no to her? This situation seems really inappropriate to me.

For one thing, she is a close family friend and we've done favors for each other in the past. For another thing she practices a religion that promotes doing what you can to help others. She sees her business as an extension of this and so offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed.

I guess that's what seems off to me - "offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed". It's one thing to volunteer yourself, its another thing to volunteer someone else. If its the same type of work and she is just comping the work to you, I would be fine with it, but since it's not then I don't think it's appropriate. Just because someone is the boss doesn't mean they have free reign over what telling someone what to do under the guise that they are paying them.  Whether he's being paid or not, she is volunteering him to do something. I personally would not accept it.

That's why it felt off to me too. I don't know what to do now...I may just tell Boss that we have enough people without Tom. I don't know.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Peggy Gus on April 11, 2011, 10:12:09 PM
The only thing that might be problematic is if he were to get hurt. He's working a normal work day, but at your house.

I was about to post this myself.  It could get into a huge mess if he is injured on your property.  Since this is personal, he probably wouldn't be covered for WC if he gets hurt.  I think you need to seriously think about this and decline his help.  It could cost you more than you realize.

If he is "on the clock" then WC would cover him, he would be working off site but under his employer. We have dealt with something similar at my work.
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: sparksals on April 11, 2011, 10:32:55 PM
Shatzie, you've mentioned on numerous occasions that your boss takes a lot of liberties with your personal boundaries. This, to me, would be way out of bounds. Why is she offering to pay someone to work on your house? Do you feel comfortable saying no to her? This situation seems really inappropriate to me.

For one thing, she is a close family friend and we've done favors for each other in the past. For another thing she practices a religion that promotes doing what you can to help others. She sees her business as an extension of this and so offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed.

How is it a good deed if she is offering someone who may feel coerced into doing it?   She may be doing you a favour, but offering someone else without knowing it is ok with them isn't a good deed in my book.  It is putting the employee in an awkward position. 
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: Sharnita on April 13, 2011, 05:23:15 AM
Shatzie, you've mentioned on numerous occasions that your boss takes a lot of liberties with your personal boundaries. This, to me, would be way out of bounds. Why is she offering to pay someone to work on your house? Do you feel comfortable saying no to her? This situation seems really inappropriate to me.

For one thing, she is a close family friend and we've done favors for each other in the past. For another thing she practices a religion that promotes doing what you can to help others. She sees her business as an extension of this and so offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed.

I guess that's what seems off to me - "offering her employee to help with our wall is her way of doing a good deed". It's one thing to volunteer yourself, its another thing to volunteer someone else. If its the same type of work and she is just comping the work to you, I would be fine with it, but since it's not then I don't think it's appropriate. Just because someone is the boss doesn't mean they have free reign over what telling someone what to do under the guise that they are paying them.  Whether he's being paid or not, she is volunteering him to do something. I personally would not accept it.

it feels a bit too  "indentured servant" to me
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work
Post by: CakeBeret on April 13, 2011, 11:03:56 PM
Update!

Things have been very busy at work, so (thankfully) Tom was quite busy. The Bosses had offered the use of their mini excavator to help with the digging, and so Mrs. Boss sent Tom to run the mini ex for a couple hours. Running the mini ex is well within Tom's job description, which made me feel more comfortable with the situation. Then things got busy and she called Tom back to work, and that was the last we saw of him.

Our wall is nearly done, thank goodness!
Title: Re: Asking an employee to do personal work, Update pg 3
Post by: barefoot_girl on April 14, 2011, 05:36:08 AM
About twelve years ago, i was working in international planning for a major telecoms company in central London. i spent a lot of time cross-checking international call rates, negotiating least cost routing, etc. It was a very interesting, and technical role. Once, i was chatting with my manager and mentioned that my first job out of uni had been as a theatrical costumier...so I could sew. Four months later, she asked me (very nicely) if i wouldn't mind passing my work off to a colleague as she wanted me to sew her son's Nativity costume for his school play! It was a very very easy costume, so I was quite happy to dump my work and spend the morning happily sewing!