the office temp is making more than me, I made a mess of asking for a raise, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. The office temp is making more than me

I’m a recent college graduate and just started working for a small company about four months ago. The pay is not that great (a few dollars over minimum wage) but I don’t have issue with it because I know I don’t have much work experience and my boss has been great at training me in everything I need to learn for my job. With all the experience I’m receiving, I can deal with the pay. We recently hired a temp two months ago, who I supervise, to help with the sorting of some documents. I’ve spoken candidly with the temp regarding staffing agencies and the temp has mentioned that the agency takes 10% from their paycheck.

I open and sort the mail at my job and today I happen to see the bill from the temps staffing agency. I was a little shocked to see how much the temp has been getting paid by the hour and with the agency’s cut it’s still more than what I earn, almost $10 more. I stared at the paper for sometime just to make sure I was reading it correctly.

I’m in no way going to complain to my boss or anything like that. I was just shocked and I can’t help but to feel a little hurt that someone who is here temporary is making more an hour than I do. Is it common for a temp to earn more an hour than the employees who already work there? Could there be another reason why the pay for the temp is higher than mine if all they are doing is just sorting documents?

Yes, sometimes — because they’re being paid to be temporary, to be cut loose at any time without warning or feedback. Temps also don’t get benefits, so they often cost your company less overall once you factor in benefits and other overhead.

2. I made a mess of asking for a raise

Can I salvage my raise negotiation? A couple of months ago, I went to my department head to ask for a raise because my supervisor had left and his responsibilities became mine. My supervisor left a year and a half ago, and since then I have assumed some major responsibilities that used to be part of his supervisory job. I have done a good job in my new role and implemented some new programs, as well as completed lots of unfinished projects from the previous supervisor. The problem is when I met with the department head, I turned the meeting into a manual on “How NOT to ask for a raise”! I used every wrong technique and phrase in the book. All the stuff you warn people not to do. I focused on my years of experience and not on my ability to do the job, I whined about much money my supervisor used to make compared to my salary, I threatened to leave, I threatened to do less work, etc. etc. Oh, it was bad! Then last week I got mad because the department head had not done anything so I called him in to HR for a meeting. Again I did a pretty bad job of asking for a raise at that meeting.

Now, I am wondering if there is anything I can do to salvage the situation? I don’t feel that my employer is completely resistant to giving raises but I am fairly sure that they are not interested in giving ME a raise because of the way I handled the negotiations. Help!

Oooooh. Yeah, this isn’t good. If I were your manager, I would be pretty damn hesitant to give you a raise at this point because I’d be concerned it would signal that your approach paid off (thus potentially reinforcing it). If I were in your shoes, I’d go back to your manager, say you mishandled it, apologize, and say something like, “I hope you’ll let me make a more business-based case for a raise down the road” … but I do think it needs to be down the road (like six months or more), and you need to establish an impeccable track record of professionalism between now and then to mitigate some of this.

Read an update to this letter here.

3. One of my drivers is accepting gift cards from a customer

We are a small company, and employ delivery drivers to bring our product to our customers. They are paid a fair hourly rate, full benefits, etc., and are non-exempt. They do not receive tips, but I recently found out that one of our drivers has accepted gift cards in small amounts (less than $20) from a particular customer as a tip. For some reason, this is not sitting right with me, but I can’t put my finger on why. What are your thoughts on this? Are we missing some big issue that could be caused by this?

Well, your drivers don’t typically accept tips, so this driver isn’t acting in alignment with that policy. If you intend to offer free delivery to your customers, he’s undermining that by taking tips (even in the form of something other than cash). Your customer is being kind in offering the gift cards, but your driver should handle it the way you’d want him to handle the offer of a cash tip — which presumably would be to politely refuse it and say something like, “No tip necessary.”

4. Can I be fired for not coming to work during a state of emergency?

Can I get fired for calling off of work when my state has been declared to be in a state of emergency and I can’t even get my car out to go to work? One of my coworkers went in and it took him 3 hours as opposed to his normal 30-minute commute. Most businesses are closed and people aren’t even supposed to be driving unless its an emergency.

Legally? Yes. In practice, that would be pretty unusual, unless you already had a serious absenteeism issue. But employers can legally require employees to come to work, even in extreme weather conditions.

Generally a state of emergency doesn’t forbid businesses from being open or require residents to take any particular action; rather, it simply empowers the state to more quickly reassign resources to to provide immediate assistance to areas affected by the storm. As one example that’s pretty typical, see the North Carolina labor department on this issue: “It does not matter if state officials have declared a state of emergency and are advising people to stay off of the roads. The decision to stay open or to close, for its employees to remain at work or leave early, or for its employees to report to work or not during adverse weather conditions, is entirely up to each individual employer to make on its own.”

5. What’s the difference between a manager and a supervisor?

Is there a difference between the job title of supervisor vs manager, or is more semantics? I have been in my position with the title of supervisor a little over 2 years. As the company has grown and my position along with it, I feel that I have more responsibilities than a typical supervisor. My thinking is that a supervisor does just that, supervises employees in accordance with set policies and procedures and monitors their performance but doesn’t set the policies/procedures and must get that from their manager. On the other hand, I think of a manager as someone who sets those policies and has the authority to make necessary changes and basically has full responsibility for the activities and outcomes of their employees.

I report directly to my director, who in turn reports to administration; there is no one in between. For the most part, I have the capability to make any changes that I feel need to be made in order for my department to maintain productivity. The main reason I am wanting to clarify is that I am considering asking for my position to be reevaluated; the position has grown and developed as the company has grown, and I no longer feel I am doing the job I was initially hired to do (along with of course asking for compensation to match). Am I being too picky with the title or is this relevant to the overall issue of wanting to have a title that matches what my responsibilites are?

People sometimes use “manager” and “supervisor” interchangeably, but generally “manager” connotes more responsibility than “supervisor”; supervisors are often more concerned with process and day-to-day activities, while managers often have more involvement in things like setting goals and strategy, assessing performance, and giving feedback and are more likely to be responsible for the overall success of their team. Neither, though, has a set scope of authority that’s universally applied. In particular, some managers and supervisors have hiring and firing authority, and some don’t. It really comes down to the particular role and how the terms are used at your company.

Regardless, though, if you feel that your position is substantially different than it used to be, it’s reasonable to propose that your title (and pay) reflect that.

{ 215 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    OP 4: this sort of crap happens when you have blowhards running the workplace or franchises that run off of inflexible rules whatever the case is, the employer in question is putting you at risk and increasing the strain on emergency services. I suggest you send a tip to Gawker, The Consumerist and your local media outlets if this is affecting you. Places like that will be more than happy to keep your name private.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it depends on the specifics. I’m in the DC/MD/VA area, and MD and VA both declared states of emergency yesterday because of the snow — but plenty of people went to work and the major roads were perfectly passable for much of the day, at least in my area. Some businesses and services do operate during bad weather — some of them ones that aren’t necessarily ones you’d consider frivolous — and it’s not necessarily scandalous that they might expect employees to come in if it was reasonably safe to do it. It depends on specifics like how bad the roads were.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Right. The purpose of declaring a state of emergency is to allow the government to take out of the ordinary action to resolve an emerging issue, to be eligible for potential disaster funding, and so on. The word “emergency” is a bit of a red herring – a snowstorm only rarely constitutes what a reasonable person would consider an “emergency.”

        1. Victoria Nonprofit*

          Also, as a lifelong Minnesotan, one of the things I’ve learned on this blog is how much the rest of the country freaks out about snow. I don’t mean to pass any judgment, and I recognize that places to don’t deal with snow on the regular suffer more with less accumulation than we do. I just hadn’t realized that there is a sizable group of people who won’t drive/call out sick/are really afraid whenever it snows.

          1. Kerry*

            (Sorry if this point has been made before) – I think it’s that recently in the US it’s been snowing heavily in places that genuinely don’t have the infrastructure to cope with it, and where people aren’t used to driving in it and don’t have the equipment for it. I don’t think it’s particularly odd for people to be uncomfortable in that situation.

            1. Zillah*

              Agreed. There have also been major problems with ice, and especially when you tend not to deal with ice, that’s definitely something that would understandably make a person uncomfortable.

              I also know that, at least for us (in NYC), the snow has been a huge problem in part because it’s disrupted public transportation so much, and many people use public transportation to get to work. The outer boroughs in particular often have to rely on buses as well as subways, and if the bus doesn’t come… that’s a problem.

              (I do take Victoria’s point, though.)

            2. FiveNine*

              Yes, when I lived in Nashville and we got a rare heavy snow, the streets could take forever to be plowed — the radio djs joked that there is only one plow in the city and Floyd has the keys.

            3. fposte*

              True. But neither “state of emergency” nor “disaster area” have any particular automatic meaning as far as whether somebody can make it in to work.

          2. KayDay*

            Seconding Kerry. I grew up up North where we got a lot of snow, but I lived in DC as an adult. While I laughed at the way people in DC reacted to the snow, the truth is that DC just doesn’t have the same number of plows and salt trucks because they only have to plow a few days a year…back home we had plows/salt trucks running the majority of days from November to March.

            When I went back home for Christmas and needed to run some errands one day when it had been snowing rather heavily, I asked my mom if she thought the roads would be clear yet. She laughed and said of course they would, why wouldn’t they?

            It’s not just that people in the South aren’t used to driving in snow (although that’s a part of it). It’s that the roads farther South are genuinely harder to navigate and it takes longer for them to be cleared. Also, southern areas are a lot more likely to get major ice (from thawing and re-freezing) than we are farther up north.

          3. Mike C.*

            It’s not just accumulation, but the local conditions. Here in the Seattle area we’ll have really wet snow that freezes in layers of ice at night and melts in the day. The Pacific Ocean does interesting things here.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit*

              Responding to everyone here: Yes, I get all of what you’re saying. What I was thinking of is the multiple letters from people who think it’s reasonable to call out) “whenever it snows.”

              1. Joe*

                People die on roads in south in icey wether. Die. I recently drove. From. Minn to Orlando_ the south is understandably unprepared. I know. I drove it. Pls. Do not. Judge based on where you live.

              2. Ruffingit*

                I understand what you meant and it’s definitely a case-by-case thing. There are some people who will use a light dusting of snow as an excuse when, in fact, they could easily drive on it with no problem. Sure, there are places where even small amounts of snow cause massive problems due to lack of infrastructure to deal with it, but I think what you’re saying Victoria is that people sometimes use it as an excuse when it really isn’t one.

              3. Anon2*

                In some cases, these are the same people who would use any excuse to call out. Snow just seems like a really good reason so they feel justified (and can’t understand why it’s not in every single case).

              4. EAA*

                Secretary at job years ago would either not come in or would have one of the partners (owner) of the company pick her up.

              5. Windchime*

                One or two inches is enough to bring the city of Seattle to its knees. So “whenever it snows” is kind of true here. I think that’s what Mike is saying. It literally only takes an inch or two, in Seattle (a city built on hills right against a big body of water) , to make it nearly impossible to drive.

                I used to live 150 miles to the east of here in a town of < 3000 people, where snowfalls of over a foot (or more) were routine in the winter. My tiny town had 4 or 5 snowplows, and the roads would be completely clear and safe by 7 AM. It was very unusual for anyone to miss work because of snow. But it is just different here in the Seattle area.

                1. Anon2*

                  If everybody, or most everybody has to stay home that’s one thing. But if a couple of people are *always* calling out because of snow, regardless of conditions/responsibilities…that’s another.

                2. Anony-Cougar*

                  The terrain isn’t necessarily important either, and I do think a lot relies on how used the citizens are to whatever is thrown at them. I live in Duluth, Minnesota, which is a city built 0n a very steep incline hill right against Lake Superior (going from 600′ above sea level where people live on the Lake to about 1500 at our main airport very quickly, which is why we’re called the San Francisco of the Midwest), so we get random and weird weather patterns all the time. Just Friday, the snow was that wet, greasy snow that doesn’t allow any traction at all. Nothing closed, and the plows hadn’t been out all night for some reason. I think we were only geared to get 1-3, but we ended up with six where I live, at the top of the hill, so maybe the city wasn’t paying attention to what was actually happening versus what the forecast amount had been. That said, nothing closed and some people who lived down the hill took two hours or more to get to work that day. Roads were closed completely due to cars that had started up the hill but couldn’t gain traction and either stuck or started sliding back down, essentially blocking off major roads for hours (including the interstate when there was a 30-car pile-up in one of the tunnels, which took a long time to clear up, because emergency workers couldn’t gain good traction when they were walking around to get to people in the cars).

                  The biggest difference is that we’re used to it, so we move along our day the best we can. One coworker called every 15 minutes for two hours to keep me updated on her search to get up the hill to our place of business, because her regular routes and alternate routes were too slick still to make it up the hill and she had already slid down all of them. To people that aren’t used to this kind of weather and steep terrain (and perhaps lack of response from the city), this sounds like too much hassle and they probably don’t want anything to do with it. This winter particularly (with the snow/ice, then temps below zero degrees F for weeks, then more snow/ice, then more temps below zero pattern we’ve had) has been bad for getting to work, and most businesses are understanding: nothing has a chance to melt and salt doesn’t work effectively on roads when the temperature is 10-15 degrees (F) or below, so most people are just more cautious and take their time getting to work every morning.

                  tl;dr: It just depends on what people in a particular area are used to and what infrastructure is already around to take care of the situation. I’ll drive in much worse conditions that I would have when I lived in a more southerly Midwestern state, and I’m more tenacious about trying to get to work, because I’m used to sliding down the steep hills and starting over to find a different one to get up where I need to be. I don’t claim to like it, but it’s just the way it is.

          4. TheSnarkyB*

            Victoria Nonprofit, I’ve also found that interesting. I’m in NYC now but I lived in MN a few years ago and WI as a kid. I’ve noticed that the blessing of a Minnesota winter is that it doesn’t get warm enough for huge slush & rain, and damnit if that state doesn’t have some beautiful infrastructure. (I felt it was a generally efficient and progressive place to live while in the Cities, and I’ve also noticed that the plows are efficiently dispatched and the streets are generally well-paved so that drainage isn’t much of an issue. If I could, I’d attach a picture here from my window: there’s a cross-walk with a 1ft deep slush stealth-puddle with ice around the edges.)

            The biggest problem I’ve had is that our temps are hovering around 30, so while it’s much easier to be outside for long stretches of time, it’s much harder to walk- and in a very walk-reliable city, that needs those safe and clear sidewalks.
            Regardless, it’s all pretty interesting comparing state-to-state.

            1. RG*

              Out of curiosity, in NYC who has the responsibility for clearing sidewalks? In MN, homeowners are responsible for sidewalks that run on/in front of their property, and I imagine it’s much the same for businesses. I do know that the downtown area had a portion of the snow removed (loaded into a dumptruck by a bobcat), since you can only pile the the snow so high.

              MN does have a pretty impressive system – but you’ll still get residents b!tching about how their street hasn’t been cleared curb to curb (usually because some didn’t move their car for the snow emergency – which just means plowing rules here). The other challenge this winter has been that the snow falls have been rapidly followed by a deep freeze, so if the plow or shovels don’t get to the snow in time, it freezes hard and no salt or chemicals are going to do any good.

              1. Natalie*

                That, or their neighbors dumped sidewalk snow into the street after it was plowed.

                The last few years in Minneapolis have really reinforced the adage “you can’t please everyone”. People complain about getting towed, they complain about cars not getting towed, they complain about snow emergencies being declared on Christmas because out-of-towners will towed, they complain about snow emergencies not being declared on Christmas because now the streets are terrible, etc, etc, etc.

              2. holly*

                building owners are responsible in NYC. you can tell because some sections won’t be cleared. i think it’s fine-able, but in the outer boroughs, it doesn’t seem like anyone pays attention.

              3. Hunny*

                I wish we had snow emergency based plowing/parking rules in urban New Jersey. They’re pretty good about getting a plow through a neighborhood, but they basically make a single lane path. It’s especially ironic because during the s mmer there are rules about when you can park on which side of the street, but those rules are not in effect during winter… When it would help with snow…

                1. Anony-Cougar*

                  We don’t even have snow emergency routes in Duluth, Minnesota, so I understand. I was a bit shocked at that when I moved up here, but they’re willing to wait for people to have to move their cars from one side to the other (alternate side parking on most streets from week to week). They clean one side as soon as it snows and wait for the next Sunday for the switch to happen and clear the other side. (It’s not curb-to-curb clearing here either, but that just makes for a more relaxed spring when you can finally see the whole road again and realize how wide the turns and curves actually are. ;) It’s like an additional late-spring gift to have full use of road width again.)

      2. Jessa*

        However, in a lot of states you can get ticketed for being on the roads if law enforcement and emergency management say “only essential persons on the roads,” and you can’t show your job is essential. In many jurisdictions, when they say stay home, it’s not a suggestion.

        When I answered phones for the city electric company in Florida, we had letters that proved we were essential, I got stopped by a cop and could have been ticketed/towed/car impounded, if I hadn’t been able to prove up my job was critical.

        There’s a difference between a state of emergency and a “stay off the roads” order. One doesn’t always follow the other, and while an emergency might have the company open, I don’t think anyone should be penalised for an official “stay off,” order.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          Yes to this. In my area, there’s a difference between “state of emergency” and “travel ban.” Travel may be discouraged in the first, and outright banned in the second. If you violate the ban and are not considered “essential personnel,” you can get ticketed and heavily fined. I doubt it’s legal for an employer to require their employees to violate a travel ban, because doing so would require the employees to literally break the law.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          In my city (Midwest), they don’t outright ban travel, but they have been known to strongly discourage it. What does happen is that the city police department goes on emergency status, which means they will NOT respond to non-injury accidents. They’re short-handed on the best of days. That’s enough to keep me off the roads because I don’t even want to deal with it.

        3. Miss Betty*

          Yes – my county had a travel ban last Wednesday though the county I work in only had a travel advisory. Two of us missed work because of that. The fines for driving during that travel ban were $500. I don’t bring that much home each week – there’s no way I’m going to work when it’s not legal to drive. Fortunately, our partners are very reasonable about not requiring people to come in to work when it would be illegal for them to do so. (The county where I live is rural, with lots of farm roads and small towns. The two-line highway I take to work has several S-curves in a row and the straight parts drift really quickly. At one point on the road, there were only one and a half lanes open. It’s better this week.)

      3. AnonHR*

        I’d say it also depends on the job. I know a manager of direct care workers at a group home. They have had a terrible time this winter because people have been calling off due to weather left and right (I should note that while it’s been a terrible winter, we are in a location that has the infrastructure to deal with it much better than other places). Someone HAS to be there to care for residents. Period. When they call off, someone else is stuck there indefinitely, and yet another person is likely being called in to drive on the roads they don’t want to get on. It sucks, but someone has to do it, and I think there are a lot more jobs than people realize that actually are completely necessary to go to (aside from road crews and emergency/medical personnel)

        1. Jessa*

          Yes that would be considered critical because you’re responsible for people. It’s just that in the case of an answering service the cops didn’t think it through. We answered for hundreds of doctors, the city electric co, the cable company, a company that specialised in boarding up broken windows, and two towing companies, amongst other places of importance.

          During the triple hurricane season a bunch of us were there for 3 days straight, I napped in my chair. One of the managers brought an air mattress, the boss brought in food, I had a large van with gas cans, so one of the staff took my van to go get other employees in. It was wild. We had power due to our generators/giant UPS boxes. And we made a fortune in OT, the boss pretty much paid us straight through without deducting sleeping and food breaks.

          My sister the nurse was at hospital when a tornado took the side of the building off. Yeh a lot of people are more essential than people think. In Ohio the cable techs are essential because the cable provides emergency warnings/information to the public. So if you work for the cable co even on the phones, they want you in there.

          On the other hand when you take that kind of job you know you’re essential. The boss at the answering service looked at me funny when I said they should issue letters explaining who we worked for. But it came in very helpful.

      4. Dan*

        I live west of the city, where we got close to a foot of snow. I work for a rather large non profit in NoVA (my division alone has about 700 people, and we’re the smallest of seven divisions). In my division, our work can easily be done from home most days, so when the weather man even hints at snow, everybody works from home. It’s kind of funny. I actually don’t bother going into the office because nobody else is going to be there.

        But back to the topic at hand, the main campus was closed yesterday. However, I ventured out for lunch around noon, and at that point, the main roads were bare asphalt.

      5. Beth*

        Chiming in to point out that, in places that get snow all winter, people also generally chose cars that can handle the weather and they generally put snow tires on those cars during snow season. I live in a place that hasn’t seen snow for decades, but my neighbor’s adorable little 1960’s mini (still in british racing livery — a true rattletrap!) would be a hazard if a snowstorm came down on us. It’s not just that the infrastructure isn’t there to deal with snow/ice, it’s that the people don’t have vehicles that can handle it or the driving skills.

        1. Anony-Cougar*

          It’s important to note that people who are in lower-wage jobs often buy whatever car they can afford and don’t switch tires, even in high-snow areas, and they are often the ones expected to come into work. I know we can’t afford a separate set of tires, even living in Duluth, Minnesota (which is not a walking city, unfortunately, although I wish they would do something to make it a little easier to live without a car up here), so we and our little Toyota slip around until we get to work. Luckily for my husband, the buses tend to run unless the roads are too bad for anyone to be on them, so he can usually take that to work. Unfortunately, I’m not on a bus line at work and there are no sidewalks or even roadsides (with all the piled snow and the narrowed roads due to those piles) to walk on safely even from the nearest one about a half-mile away, so I am stuck taking our little car.

  2. CAA*

    #1 – the temp does not get to keep 90% of the money your company pays the staffing agency. I don’t know where she got the 10% number she gave you, but unless there’s some very unusual accounting going on, they would be losing money at that rate.

    The agency has to pay the employer’s share of social security and medicare, which is equal to 7.65% of her wages; plus they have to pay for unemployment insurance and whatever your state’s employer taxes are. They also have their own operating expenses and they want to make some profit on the deal. The usual amount that goes to the temp agency is more like 40% to 50% of the fee. For a low wage position, it might even be higher.

    1. CAA*

      Ah, rereading the question, I wonder if they’re withholding 10% from her paycheck for some reason and you made the assumption that the amount billed to your company is equal to her paycheck. It could be that she earns half the billed amount and they withhold 10% of that for her taxes, health insurance, 401K or whatever.

    2. periwinkle*

      Exactly. I’ve worked as a temp, in both clerical short-term and technical long-term positions, and in an agency that handled nursing temps. The agency’s cut was always around 40%.

      Just a “for instance”… I got into a long-term temp position through a major agency, making $10/hour. When the client hired me permanently, they paid me the same hourly rate that they had paid the agency for my services. This boosted my wages to $17/hour (more, really, because I had benefits).

      And as noted, when you’re a temp you have no job security, no benefits, no stretch assignments, no mentoring, no career building with the help of a great boss… just that small paycheck. As soon as the bulk of that document sorting has been done, the temp in your office will be back at the agency looking for an assignment. Still envious?

      1. Jessa*

        Not to mention, you can drive a couple of hours in bad weather to work, and be told, “sorry your assignment is over, go home, have a nice day.” Now most companies are reasonable and they call the agency and give the employee notice (unless it’s a very short term fill in, where you know “when Susie gets back, you’re gone.) But unless the temp company cares to put notice or pay in the contract, they can have you work an hour and just say “bye.”

        1. Jamie*

          The agency I temped through and every agency with which I’ve contracted over the years – probably about ten – have a min four hour rule. You get called out and sent home, or sent home any time within the first four hours you’re paid those four hours.

          It’s not like you showed up, didn’t work, and ended up with nothing.

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            This is what happened at the temp agency where I used to work as well. If you were called in and went, the contracting company had to pay for a minimum of four hours, so they were billed that amount and I was paid that amount even if they sent me home after two or three hours. (I think that only happened once, when they closed for unforeseen issues. Normally, they want what they’re paid for.)

      2. Ruffingit*

        Not only that, but it can really suck socially to be the temp. A lot of people in offices don’t bother trying to cultivate any kind of relationship since the person is just a temp. So they’re often left out of co-worker lunches, company celebrations, etc. That is a definite downside to the situation too. And yes, I’ve been there. It sucked.

        1. Lia*

          I temped at a place where temps were originally not allowed to eat in the lunchroom. This was relaxed right before I got there to allow them to eat in there, but not use the microwaves. Before that, temps either ate in their cars or standing outside.

          1. Positivity Boy*

            Uh…these were human temps, right? And as such should probably still be treated as…you know, humans? That’s horrible.

          2. Lena*

            I got in trouble years ago when I was working as a temp and HR put out gingersnaps and apple cider for the workers to eat around Halloween. I had a glass of cider and a few cookies and was reprimanded because those were “for the permanent employees”

            1. Judy*

              I’ve had that happen as a permanent employee. An email went out to the all-site list about a celebration. But it was actually for the “real” site employees, not the “corporate” employees collocated there. If it were just for the site employees, they should have sent it to the organization list.

            2. Yarn Barf*

              On the flip side, I was temping at a health insurance company that had a huge backlog of claims and they brought in lots of temps. They had an Employee Appreciation Week with different events–I don’t even remember now, but stuff like donuts, little gifts, a raffle, and a lunch party where they gave away gift cards in a raffle.

              I won one of the biggest prizes: a $200 gift card to Best Buy. Bought my first DVD player and an MP3 disc player that I loved, and a Dilbert DVD set (ironically enough.)

              Some people grumbled that temps won about half the prizes, and I felt guilty for winning, but I feel guilty about everything.

              I don’t know how I would have handled it as a manager – given out raffle tickets to the temps? Not given them out? Sneaked extra tickets to the permanent employees and urged them not to tell the temps?

          3. ETF*

            OMG! What a way to make somebody feel isolated. Being a temp is depressing enough, I know from personal experience. Why can’t they use the microwaves now?

          4. Jamie*

            There is a very real reason to make clear and obvious distinctions between temps and company employees and I believe the misinterpretation of this is what causes companies to segregate in these ridiculous ways.

            You can’t allow the lines to blur where temps are treated so similarly to company employees that there is no real difference. But that doesn’t mean they can’t eat lunch together, use a microwave, or have a cookie.

            1. Ruffingit*

              I get that, but in my own case a few years back and from other people I’ve known who temped, the things that would happen are more social oriented and have nothing to do with the company. For example, co-workers won’t even bother stopping by to chat for a minute or two because the attitude was “why get to know the temp, they won’t be here that long…”

              It’s very isolating and demoralizing sometimes to sort of be treated as a small island surrounded by a huge metropolis.

    3. Anne*

      This is exactly what I came here to say. Chances are the temp doesn’t go home with 90% of the number you saw. Agencies usually take a bigger chunk than that, and as a result they can be quite expensive to the company. But that doesn’t mean the temp is making a bundle. (When my husband was temping, everyone else in the office got overtime for a couple weeks – his manager said he’d love to put hubby on overtime too, but couldn’t afford it.)

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the 10% she mentioned is something that’s being held from the pay she actually does take home, for one reason or another. Maybe to cover sick pay, or times in between assignments? No idea how common or legal that would be.

      1. Jessa*

        Or she could, because of another job, or other income, have extra withholding. When I did freelance work, and had a regular job, I had extra taken out, so I wouldn’t owe on taxes, it was easier to take it from the regular cheque. Or she could owe a garnishment, or have child support.

      2. some1*

        Ditto. Your temp is mistaken with the quote they gave you or you misunderstood. There’s no way the temp is getting 90% of what her agency is getting.

        1. Smilingswan*

          I made $24.10/hour at my last temp assignment (summer 2012) as an administrative assistant to the credentialing department in a hospital (part of one of the largest hospital groups in the country) in the greater Los Angeles area. I had no benefits, and was on a 30 day cycle which was renewed twice (at the last minute). So, 90 days of employment. I believe the permanent staff in the position I was supporting made about $15/hour plus full benefits. I’m sure it would have still been cheaper to pay me that amount as a “temp” permanently than it would have been to bring me on as a “permanent” employee. I would have preferred the latter.

          1. Smilingswan*

            Just wanted to add, I have no idea what the agency received for supplying me, the $24.10/hour was my take-home rate.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I think we pay $20 to $21 for a temp that makes $14, but we do a volume so our deal is a bit better than rack rate. 40% sounds right for a normal rate.

    5. Jamie*

      I was shocked at the 10% as well. In mfg where you’re using hundreds of temps a week and millions of dollars a year you can negotiate down to a 30-32 % mark-up…but 10% is unheard of.

      It doesn’t cover the agency’s overhead. So the temp is either mistaken, or yes, very unusual accounting going on.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Also, it’s hard to imagine a temp taking home more than $19/hour (“a few dollars over the minimum wage” + $10) for a filing gig. At least in my part of the world!

        1. Jamie*

          There were a couple times, years ago, I made between $18-$20 per hour for receptionist gigs – totally light work – but that was always for very short term, need someone right now holy crap we’ll pay anything get someone in within the hour deals.

          Filing – I can’t imagine being able to take home that much even now from a temp job.

      2. Joey*

        Yeah, I think the lowest I ever charged for any temp was around 30% and that was because we had a few hundred, wc insurance was relatively low, and the assignment would last around a year before they would go perm. Office temps were always around 50%

        1. Jamie*

          Yes – when I was an office temp back when dinosaurs roamed the earth it was a 53% mark up. It was hard to process my own invoices and know how little I took home.

          I get it, of course, but it’s human nature to want a bigger cut.

    6. Adam V*

      Yeah, honestly I’d be surprised if the temp really knew what the agency was being paid – she probably just knows “we agreed to $X, but [agency] keeps 10% for [tax purposes / other reason]”.

    7. Ed*

      Yeah, the cut is usually more like 40-50%. I’ve seen a few of my past contracts and was floored the first time when I was making $70K and the company was billing $150K. I was the first candidate they interviewed, I got the job right away and was there for two years. So for probably less than a day of work, the company made $160K. On a closer example to OP’s pay rate, a friend of mine just negotiated a contract for security guards and they are making $10/hr but he is billed $15 by their company.

    8. Melissa*

      This is absolutely true. I managed a project where we brought on many temps to handle filing, one who happened to be someone I knew. I reviewed the temp agency invoices, the time logs, etc. and my friend told me how much he was being paid on the project.

      What we paid the temp agency per person was a great deal more than what what my friend was paid from the agency. Thankfully, he didn’t care too much as he was just temping between going on tours with his band to keep his yearly cash flow even.

  3. PEBCAK*

    1) I don’t think it’s reliable to take the staffing agency’s hourly rate – 10% to arrive at the temp’s hourly wage. It’s possible that the temp does not know the exact details of the agreement. For example, it may be that your company pays temp’s hourly wage + 10% temp agency profit* + the employer’s half of the payroll taxes.

    *yes, I know that taking a 10% cut is not equal to adding 10% onto the hourly wage, but close enough, and I’m just illustrating a point.

    1. Chinook*

      With OP#1, she is a good example of why most companies give temp invoices directly to the manager with the budget – all you see is a number that includes the actual wage, payroll expenses, overhead and room for profit. I was just talking about this with my manager and they will convert me from a temp agency to an independent contractor. My cheque will go from $36,000 to $80,000 a year but then I have to pay all my payroll taxes, healthcare and I would have no sick or vacation days and I will have to pay into CPP (government pension plan).

      1. GL*

        Temp agencies generally charge _double_ the hourly rate of the temp’s wage. I’ve worked a number of temp jobs in accounts payable, so I’ve gotten to see the bill for my work many times.

        Though Allison is right in saying if a temp makes more than you, forgeddabboutit because they do not have benefits–but honestly, it’s a rare thing to make less per hour once going on perm from a temp position.

  4. en pointe*


    It might just be me, but I find the idea of using gift cards, rather than cash, as a regular tip, a little unusual in and of itself.

    OP, you say that your driver “has accepted” these in the past – I’d love if you could clarify how regular this was and if you have talked to the driver about it? Is it possible these weren’t intended as tips, so much as small, very occasional gifts, given around the holiday period?

    For example, my brother is a bus driver and, around Easter, he usually ends up with chocolate given to him by little schoolkids. Come Christmas-time, he might be given a small gift card or six-pack or something from one or two regulars. Of course, bus drivers aren’t tipped, but they are encouraged to take these.

    If the gift cards in question do turn out to have been holiday tokens of appreciation, I think that requiring your driver to refuse them could potentially make the customer feel uncomfortable and the company appear overly rigid. The best course of action might be simply allowing him to smile and say thank you.

    1. Anne*

      The gift card as a tip thing isn’t that unusual for some types of jobs that are ongoing and kind of… “domestic”? When I was a summer camp counselor, at the end of every week I would usually get one or two cards from the parents of kids who had said I was their favorite. Now I get my groceries delivered, and if it was the same guy every time, I’d probably give him a little giftie on special occasions (or when I’d placed a huge, heavy order) too. I’m pretty sure my mom does the same for her mailman sometimes.

      That’s a bit a separate from whether the employer is comfortable with it, though. :)

    2. Jessa*

      Also, has it been made explicitly clear that company policy is to take nothing that has value? If you say no tips to someone, they may think if it’s not cash, it’s not a tip per se.

    3. Chriama*

      I’m thinking of something like a furniture store, where the social etiquette on whether to tip the driver varies by location, income level, etc. “Delivery guy” tipping rules are somewhere between pizza guy and FedEx guy, and some customers may feel socially obligated to tip.

      As a company, you may not want to have the image of hiring minimum wage drivers (which is the general social consensus behind tipping a driver). In that case not letting your drivers receive tips implies they’re full-time staff rather than minimum-wage “contractors”.

      Granted, the giftcard is more personalized than a few dollars in change, which makes it seem like the customer was giving their regular delivery guy a tip (which people do with mail carriers, etc). In that case I would suggest making a rule that people can only accept gifts from regular customers around the holidays, or they can only accept 1 gift from a customer in a year and it must be under a certain $ amount.

      1. Anon*

        Wait – tipping your FedEx guy & mail carrier is a thing? I think mine would look at me like I was looney if I tried to tip them. The pizza guy, movers, yes. Mattress delivery, UPS, repairman, no.

        I do leave fresh-from-my-garden tomatoes by the mailbox for the mailman in the summertime, or a plate of cookies at Christmas, but I can’t imagine tipping him. Is that a regional/cultural thing?

        1. Jamie*

          Tip mail carriers and trash collectors at Christmas (also trash collectors a $10 if leaving stuff for bulk pickup – couches, appliances, etc.)

          I have never tipped a fed-ex, UPS ect. I don’t know anyone who does that.

          I’ve also never tipped for furniture – now I feel bad. I always think I should tip the flower delivery guy, but I never do because I rarely have cash on me…so I just say thanks and feel guilty about it. But I’m not going to carry cash just in case someone sends me flowers, because it doesn’t happen often enough and the money will be a reminder of that.

          Probably won’t happen today either, because it’s Friday and he doesn’t send flowers on Friday’s because I just have to carry them home. My practical Valentine…I hate that about him.

          Never tipped a repairman – also never had one who charged less than $100 per hour just to take a look, so they can negotiate their cut with their own boss.

          All food delivery – and we over tip because we only order from a few places and I like to pretend it puts us to the top of the list and we get our stuff faster.

          1. Anon*

            I don’t tip for floral delivery, either. It seems weird…I mean, I didn’t order the flowers myself, so why would I tip for them? I would also find it highly presumptuous if they expected me to tip for flowers I didn’t order.

            Yeah, I wouldn’t tip the trashman, either. They charge $40 to $50 for a bulk pickup, so I’m not tagging a tip on to that. I do leave them a plate of Christmas cookies (well-wrapped, on top of the can, which seems a gross-ish place to me but I always see them snarfing ’em down before they pull away so it doesn’t seem to bother them at all).

            Maybe I am just cheap.

            1. Jamie*

              I wouldn’t tip if we paid for bulk pickup – but we don’t. We just call to let them know there is a bulk item and they take care of it.

          2. Anon*

            My office tips our regular FedEx and UPS delivery guys at Christmas. Then again, they deliver to us every day, multiple times a day, and have worked in our building for years. They’re also super nice and always help us out.

          3. Goofy Posture*

            Not sure how I could leave a tip for trash, mail, package delivery! I never see or interact with those workers. Tape a tip to the trash bin for my building? That would get stolen in a heart beat. Do you leave the postal tip in your mailbox? Are they allowed to take it? I thought it’s technically illegal to put non-mail in there…

        2. QualityControlFreak*

          Hmm. Aside from waitstaff, I tip … my barista, and the guy who does my nails. At Christmas I slipped them each a 20. Spouse gave the mail carrier a 10 around the same time – they are crazy busy during the holidays, we live in the sticks, and he actually delivers packages to our door (this is a big deal for us – we’re really not that easy to find).

          I guess I tip people who perform personal services for me. And do a good job. I just want them to know I appreciate them and what they do.

        3. Lindsay J*

          I haven’t seen people tip the UPS guy, but they do get gifts around the holidays. When I was a driver’s helper my driver got several cash tips, a couple bottles of wine, a cigar, a big bucket of chocolate covered pretzels, and some ferro rochers.

          I enjoyed it because he split some of the cash tips with me, and gave me the chocolates and other similar goodies.

          Some of these were from businesses we serviced daily, and some were from normal customers.

        4. Jessica (tc)*

          For postal workers, it depends on how closely you want to follow the law (or how closely your postal worker does): . They aren’t supposed to take cash or cash equivalents at all, but can accept gifts of items worth up to $20, but may not accept items totaling over $50 in a calendar year from any one person. The past three mail carriers I’ve had refuse any gifts left for them, no matter what the cost of the item, so it probably depends on the worker.

          1. Jessica (tc)*

            (I should have added that my uncle works for the PO, but is not a mail carrier, but the restrictions apply to all employees.)

      2. Artemesia*

        I live in a doorman building now and the tips at Christmas are enormous — we have over a dozen people in the garage and building who need tipping. It costs a couple thousand and is just part of the cost of this kind of lifestyle. (it sort of evens out since the building engineer does minor electrical and plumbing repairs, the manager receives and delivers packages and collects mail when we are away, the doorman gets cabs and brings groceries in from the car etc etc.)

        And of course we tip the pizza guy. But I think government employees should NEVER be tipped and that includes the milkman. I would hate to live in a country where you have to bribe public servants to do their job or end up at the end of the line. Post office employees are well paid and have great benefits not calculated to require tips (unlike, say waiters)

        A plate of cookies or a six pack? Well maybe. But giving money to government employees doing their job — bad idea. I feel the same way about teachers (and I was one for a number of years decades ago) For teachers, I think the appropriate ‘tips’ are to provide classroom supplies which many teachers have to buy out of their pocket and a letter of appreciation for their work at the end of the year. At our kids’ elementary school the parents organized a fund that teachers could access for enrichment supplies and such.

        1. Rachel*

          “Post office employees are well paid and have great benefits…”

          My boyfriend, who’s worked for the post office for six years, will be quite interested to learn he’s had ANY benefits all these years, much less “great” ones! You’d be surprised what you don’t know about the post office. I know I was. So here’s some surprising facts: no benefits until YEARS of service/promotions, a stipend for uniforms that pays for about three per YEAR — THREE. PER YEAR. (And that’s only when they finally get around to getting him the order form),– six-day work weeks (even more years of service/promotions until you get a five-day week), and 360-day contracts (meaning there’s a week every year that he loses pay). Not to mention lots of “little” things. Christmastime? He’s not home for dinner and works some Sundays. Or walking through 20+ inches of snow some able-bodied adult didn’t bother to clear. Or guess who had to work yesterday, President’s Day, a federal holiday? Hint: it WASN’T me. And while he makes a decent hourly wage, he doesn’t make so much as to afford an apartment in a building with a doorman. Just sayin’…

          I’m not saying you have to tip them, just pointing out that the job is far from what most people perceive it to be.

    4. L McD*

      Yes, people are a bit weird with gift cards – a lot of people don’t think of them as really being “money” and therefore treat them differently. (True story – had a colleague once who did a collaborative project with a revenue share aspect to it, and thought he could avoid tax reporting obligations for both sides if he paid people their share in gift cards. Hmm, no.)

      With that in mind, are these tips, or are they small occasional gifts? I worked in retail for a long while, which tends to be very strict about employee conduct and interactions with customers, and since it had once been customary at a former grocery chain in the area to tip the courtesy clerks, especially if they brought your groceries out and packed your car for you, we had to set a very clear “no tips” policy. All the same, there was one regular customer whose phobias caused her to need all kinds of special accommodations in order to feel comfortable shopping in our store, but she was extremely courteous about it, so we went out of our way, no problem. Around holidays, she’d give out gift cards to the employees who helped her most frequently. Now, this sounds like it’s happening more frequently than that, but it might be tough to draw the line here unless there is a blanket “do not accept anything with a cash value” policy.

      1. en pointe*

        See, your last sentence is interesting to me because, conversely, I thought the letter sounded like this might not be happening that frequently at all.

        To me, “has accepted” implies mere awareness of the driver taking gift cards in the past, and leaves room for the possibility that these were small occasional gifts rather than tips.

        Maybe (okay, likely) this is just a symptom of my precise language hang-up but I would have expected to see “has been accepting” or “is accepting” or something similar, if the OP is, indeed, aware that this is a regular thing.

        OP, if you read this, please consider chiming in – I feel a little silly speculating :)

        1. teclatwig*

          Just wanted to make a shout-out to a fellow “precise language” person. I was in my 30s before I fully understood that not everybody uses & understands language in this way. (Apparently it’s a right-frontal lobe thing? Part of concrete thinking?)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am not real sure what the big attraction is to gift cards myself. Especially with all the hidden charges on some of them. However, it could be that the driver felt because the cards were $20 or less then it was not covered under company practice. Lots of places look the other way if it is $20 or less. Perhaps that has been his experience so far.

      Which brings me to my question. Is this practice or policy? I mean policy as in written policy. I have worked at companies for a year or longer before I became aware of a practice. (Work at 90 mph- no training- it takes awhile to become aware of every single thing.) Policies were different- because they were in writing and could be posted, everyone seemed more aware and would pass the word on to others.

      The only other thing I would consider are supervisors/managers acting in alignment with this practice. All that needs to happen is the driver sees or hears of one supervisor/manager pocketing gifts and the driver could think it is okay. I had this happening in one work place. We, the peons, could not accept gifts but the supervisor did accept gifts. Sometimes he kept group gifts for himself. Yeah, it made a joke out of that policy.

        1. Jessa*

          In a lot of jobs that’s illegal. Some very big chefs got into a lot of trouble that way, because their restaurant managers were doing that.

    6. OP#3*

      This is something I heard second hand…we have not asked the driver about it as of yet. And no, we don’t have a written “no accepting tips” policy. The driver in question makes about $18 an hour, plus OT, and full benefits. I believe we will most likely go the route of putting together a policy and explaining it to everyone. I believe it’s happened twice so far, and I don’t think it was around the holidays. I still need to get some more detail from the driver. Thanks Alison for taking my question, and for the comments from the readers!

      1. en pointe*

        I think this is a great way to go.

        It’s certainly your and your company’s prerogative to decide that your drivers won’t accept tips, but having a written policy and explaining it to them so that they understand the basis is probably going to be both sensible for you and more palatable for them.

        Also, perhaps consider arming your drivers (or at least any that express concern) with a couple of appropriate responses / ways to refuse attempts at tip or gift giving? (e.g. Alison’s suggestion of a polite refusal and a “no tip necessary.”) Because this is going to come a lot easier to some personalities than others.

      2. Colette*

        At places I’ve worked (which are very different environments), we’ve had a “no gifts” policy – but with an exception for what to do if you’re in a situation where you have to accept a gift. (E.g. accept on behalf of the company, then turn it in when you get back to the office.)

        When you draft the policy, I’d suggest considering how a driver should handle a customer who insists. (Can they accept and turn it in to be used to buy coffee/treats for the entire group?)

        1. Jamie*

          One of my sons worked at a grocery store and they had an absolutely policy of no tips when helping customers to their cars. And some people got very pissy and insistent… but any money was given to the front desk – who watched the cameras so they saw the tips deal – and it wasn’t pooled for a treat for the baggers or anything – just vanished.

          It was mostly older people who insisted on tipping even after the kids said they couldn’t keep it…and I always felt bad because they are out the tip and the person to whom they intended to give it saw no benefit whatsoever.

          So – those of you in the Chicagoland area – do not tip the baggers helping you to your car at the biggest local chain in the area now that the other one is closing. Corporate policy forbids them to keep it.

      3. Anon*

        OP#3 – if it is just one client that does this, it might be worth a short & sweet call from you explaining that, while your drivers appreciate the gift cards, it is unnecessary and puts the driver in an uncomfortable position due to your company’s no-tipping policy. Perhaps you could suggest the client make a donation to a local charity in lieu of giving gift cards to your drivers.

    7. TheSnarkyB*

      Huh. Cash gifts are also pretty common (in some circles) for selling weed. Maybe that’s why it makes you uncomfortable.
      OP, I’d be interested to know how you got this info and how much you’ve asked the driver about it from his side? We see a lot of managers on here trying to “be decisive” (or something) by deciding how they feel about an action or behavior before they talk to anyone about it, and that’s often wrong-headed.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        Whoops, hadn’t refreshed to see OP’s post above.
        Yeah, I’d say ask the driver about it – especially because you heard it second-hand.

      2. OP#3*

        Yes, I see your point. I believe it was gift card to a local coffee shop, it definitely wasn’t cash. I should also mention that he is in no way “in trouble” for this. He didn’t hide it at all, and probably has no idea that this shouldn’t be done. Certainly no fault of his since it’s never been brought up. He’s a great employee, and the customers love him, which is great for a driver, since they’re often the only one from our company that the customer sees on a regular basis, other than the occasional visit from their sales person. It wasn’t really a big deal per se.

    8. ETF*

      I remember reading something online once about how mailmen and delivery drivers can accept small gifts (for USPS, under $20), and that non-cash gifts are preferable. Gift cards would, of course, be a good choice in that situation. I grew up in a household where my family tipped the mailman at Christmas. I personally don’t tip my mailman and delivery guys- it is far too confusing to figure out what would actually be appropriate. I always feel a tinge of guilt about this, though.

      1. RG*

        Mailmen (and other federal employees) have statutory (?, maybe regulatory) restrictions that forbid anything more than a de minimus cash tip, so that’s where that prohibition comes from.

  5. JLo*

    OP#3- My Mom is an old lady that likes to tip everybody, doesn’t matter what the job is, the hair/nail salon owner, mail carrier, school bus driver, waiters; she thinks about the person’s job, what they do or have to put up with, not the money they make. That is why she likes to tip, and she gets upset when she cannot do it. So if some of the costumers do tip a reasonable amount and make them happy I don’t see a problem. Just ask my Mom!!

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      This is what I was going to point out. Some people (and they generally are older people) get offended if you refuse their tip, even if it’s “against company policy.”

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Overseas it can be hugely offensive. Which puts USA employees in an interesting spot. You are expected to accept gifts, by their norms.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Before this is over we will have 100 inches of snow. sigh.
        Supposed to get worse here around 9 am. I can’t wait.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Yep! And I understand that regular readers of AAM do ask questions, but I suspect a large number of questions (possibly more than 50%) come from someone with a problem who googles and finds AAM and then sends an email without looking in the archive.

      I think Alison may be to the point where she needs to add a category called “Snow and Other Weather Disasters.”

      1. en pointe*

        Wow, that statistic would be interesting – what proportion of letters are from regular readers, in comparison to random one-offs? Probably no way to tell for sure though.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          My guess is that my mail is probably 60/40 new readers/regular readers. I’m basing that on the fact that regular readers will often mention it up-front, and new readers sometimes ask questions that make it clear they haven’t even glanced at older posts.

          Now, what the proportion is of those printed is a different question, and one I haven’t thought about the answer to!

          1. Jamie*

            I would guess the regular readers are the ones with the more unusual or out of the box requests – as a rule.

            Because I know I’ve internalized so much I don’t wonder if a cover letter is important (it is), or if I should be direct but professional while giving feedback (I should), or if I need to pay OT to non-exempt people (I do.)

            So I’m thinking regular readers know the basics so it’s the weird stuff we send to Alison and not stuff already covered.

            Otoh – even though it’s already been covered if I ever find out a co-worker is moonlighting as a prostitute in my office bathroom I’m totally sending it in anyway.

            You know, my office is so scandal free it’s kind of boring. Would it kill someone to open up a brothel in the men’s room to give me something to speculate about?

            1. en pointe*

              Mmm, and that possibly skews the ratio of what’s actually printed, if regular readers are more often the ones with topics not previously covered.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yes, and I admittedly am more likely to print something that’s far outside the norm of the usual, too — so anything weird/outrageous/amusing/creepy always draws me.

          2. en pointe*

            Fascinating. If you don’t mind the behind-the-scenes questions, has that ratio changed as the blog’s grown in popularity?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I love the behind the scenes questions! The ratio has definitely grown — there are far more people identifying as regular readers in the last 1-2 years than before. It’s actually a pretty significant change, now that I think about it.

              1. en pointe*

                Right. Well, the other thing I always wonder about (wow, I am really a nerd) is the geographical composition of readers.

                Reading the archives, there seems to have always been commenters identifying from different parts of the world, but it seems only logical that the international portion of your readership would have grown substantially as you got more popular / more content to pop up in Google searches. Do you track that?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Google Analytics tracks it — here’s a breakdown of the counties of visitors in the last month:

                  Total: 1,188,136

                  1. United States 805,880
                  2. United Kingdom 97,148
                  3. Canada 89,262
                  4. Australia 32,346
                  5. India 31,070
                  6. Philippines 11,569
                  7. Singapore 7,961
                  8. South Africa 6,811
                  9. Germany 5,920
                  10. Ireland 5,691

              2. ArtsNerd*

                Oh, I have behind-the-scenes questions!

                -What kind of traffic bump did you see from the Gawker OS coverage?
                -Was any of it sustained?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Not an enormous bump, to my surprise. About 1,000 extra visits that day. With that small a number, it’s hard to say if any of it was sustained, especially since the site has had higher numbers than usual this whole January and February. (Went from about 40,000 visits a day last year to about 47,000 visits a day this year.)

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Whoa. I just looked at the numbers again. The rise started right after the Gawker story. I am totally wrong — it may very well have caused a sustained bump.

                  But my analytics say that only 3,400 visitors have come here through the Gawker link in that whole time, so I’m not sure.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I know we’ve had a lot of questions about snow, but I’ve tried to pick ones that address different aspects of the issue. (In this case, we hadn’t gone so explicitly into states of emergency before.) Same thing happens with questions about office gift-giving around the holidays — a lot of questions with slightly different angles on the same topic.

  6. Chris Hogg*

    About #1 –

    A long time ago, at my second job after receiving my masters degree, I was surprised to find out that the man who emptied our wastebaskets during the day and did other janitorial duties was making more than me.

    Later I found out that he was a master machinist, the company did not have any work for him to do right then, couldn’t afford to lay him off because when work did come in he would be impossible to replace if he was working elsewhere, and so the company was letting him do janitorial work at his normal pay rate.

    Things are not always what they seem at first glance.

    1. Suz*

      My previous employer used to do that too. It was a seasonal business and they didn’t want to lose their best people if they laid them off for the winter. So they’d be kept on painting the offices, etc. in the off-season.

  7. BCW*

    I used to work for a big theme park in Orlando. Our policy was that, in my position, we didn’t accept tips. However we also had a 3 time refusal rule. So basically if you refused 3 times and they still insisted, we accepted it as to not be rude. So maybe he did refuse a couple of times, but they insisted. It sounds like there is no “rule” against it, so I don’t really get why you are so upset.

    I’m actually more annoyed by places that have tip jars just for doing their jobs, like doughnut places.

    1. Anonymous*

      They’re getting paid minimum wage to make coffee and donuts for people who are jerks probably 75% of the time. They deserve a lot more than what they’re being paid plus more.

      1. BCW*

        To be clear, when I’m at a restaraunt, I’m a very good tipper. However, I have also worked minimum wage jobs, and didn’t get tips. The reason you tip servers and bartenders is because they make below minimum wage, so tips are an expected part of their income. The sub place and doughnut shop aren’t quite the same. If their service is somehow above and beyond, fine. But just for doing your job, I’m not going to tip you. I think American culture has become too tip heavy.

        1. fposte*

          I agree, and I think it’s really weird how people try to rationalize it. “It’s personal service!” Okay, then do you tip your pharmacy tech?

          1. Prickly Pear*

            Hey, if you wanna start a trend… (j/k)
            Forever ago, my first job that I got a check from was a grocery store. I’d carry out bags, and even though we weren’t supposed to accept tips we’d clean up. (it didn’t hurt that we were located in a trendy, upscale neighborhood.)
            Now that I’m a ‘grownup’ and in a position to tip, I do so. Not because I like to get teenagers in trouble, but because I still remember those crumpled dollars making the choice of eating that evening.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          We had a tip jar at Deli-Job, but it was totally optional. We got paid by the hour (minimum wage, which at the time was $5.15–in California, no less!) but it didn’t go very far. Tips were most definitely appreciated.

          One poor guy kept getting register duty because he was so likeable that customers would fill the jar. On a good day with him at the reg, we could all count on a $10 or $15 share at the end of the shift.

        3. Natalie*

          Just FYI, not all states have a “tipped wage”. Mine doesn’t – servers make the same minimum wage as donut shop employees.

          I’m curious if you would change your practice in that case at all.

          1. BCW*

            Not to get on a high horse, but I have a a problem with how we tip in general. I do it, but I don’t like it. Here is why (and its just a hypothetical, so don’t blast me for gender stereotypes): Its lunch at a restaurant. A table of 2 guys comes in and gets one server, followed by a table of 2 ladies who come in and get a different server. The guys each order a steak and 2 whiskeys. The ladies each order a salad and 2 cokes. The bill at the guys table will be a lot more, and therefore the tip will be more. However, did the server do any more work than the server at the ladies table? Not at all. So why should that server get a much bigger tip? Its illogical.

            1. Anon*

              Why are the men eating steak + alcohol, but the women eating salad with soft drinks? I know plenty of guys who go for the salad and plenty of women who like to drink at lunch.

              I get that your point wasn’t about customers’ genders, but about time/effort of the servers. That being said, you have a habit of unnecessarily stereotyping “male” or “female” behaviors in a way that some find rather grating.

              You can make the same point by removing “ladies” and “guys” and replacing them with “customers” and thus avoid unnecessary stereotyping.

              1. Anon Today*

                If you know that my point was completely not about gender, why did you feel the need to bring it up? In fact, I even prefaced it with the fact that I was using stereotypes, but that wasn’t the point at all. You just apparently feel the need to attack something completely unrelated to my general point.

                1. Elsajeni*

                  You could just as well ask: If your point was completely not about gender, why did you feel the need to use gender stereotypes to make it? Just acknowledging that you’re using stereotypes doesn’t actually prevent that use of stereotypes from annoying or offending people. If you’re aware that you’re stereotyping, to the extent that you feel like you need to include a disclaimer, why not just edit so that you’re not using stereotypes and you don’t have to worry about people “blasting” you instead of focusing on your main point?

                2. BCW*

                  Because in everyday conversation I could use this exact same analogy and NONE of my friends would have an issue with it. But I know that on this board, people look for a sexist undertone in anything that I say.

                  Aside from that though, lets be real. If you were to ask a server at a restaurant who orders more steaks, I’d bet money the answer would be men. If you asked who orders more whiskey, I bet the answer would be men. If you ask who orders more salads, I bet the answer would be women. So if those trends are true, which I’m fairly certain they are, why is using that example so wrong? Its wrong because I as a man made a statement that mentioned a woman and so many people have the idea that i’m a misogynistic jerk. There was nothing disrespectful about it at all, it was just an example. I have plenty of guy friends who are vegetarians. I bet they wouldn’t have been offended by my example.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Okay, BCW gets blasted enough elsewhere on this site. It doesn’t need to happen here too. He thinks differently than some commenters here. That’s fine. It doesn’t need to be called out every single time.

                4. Jamie*

                  I’m really not seeing the issue with this – it’s not like the stereotypes he used were disparaging.

                  It’s not like referenced women ordering salads, like we’re supposed to. There was zero value judgement in this.

                  I think this is one of those instances where if we amplify everything we hear nothing. Every reference to gender isn’t a sexist remark. BCW’s remark could not have been more neutral.

                5. Zelos*

                  Eh. There was no judgement in BCW’s comment, just a statement. And yes, aggregating all the restaurant patrons out there, I can believe women order more salad then men. So if he immediately thought of women as the salad-eaters, I don’t see a problem with it.

                  Could he have rewarded it to “Customers A, B, C, and D?” Sure. But the mere mentioning of gender isn’t automatically an insult. I’m just as likely to say “a woman and a man” vs. “random person A and random person B” in my real life examples.

            2. Suz*

              I’d go even further with this. When I was a server, the cooks didn’t make the salads. We had to make them ourselves. So we it was more work for a lower tip when people ordered salads vs steaks.

              1. BCW*

                Wow. I didn’t know that. But that speaks to my point on how tipping based on the price of your meal is pretty stupid.

            3. KellyK*

              I think the tip as a percentage is kind of a vague shorthand for how much work the server does. If I order just an entree, while you order an app, an entree, dessert and coffee, your bill will be higher, and the server will have done correspondingly more work. Both in bringing multiple courses out and, since you’re there longer, more drink refills, etc.

              You’re right that it falls apart with items that have wildly different prices.

              I think it has a lot to do with giving servers an incentive to upsell. If they know their tip is likely to be better if they recommend an expensive dish or drink, they’re more likely to do that.

          2. Jessica (tc)*

            Natalie, I moved from a state that has a tipped wage (the really low wage) to one that states workers must be paid at least regular state minimum wage (higher than federal). It hasn’t changed my tipping practice, and I’ve started tipping more over the years as I’ve financially been able to do so. That said, it did get me thinking more about tipping practices in the United States, and I really hate how it puts the burden of paying a living wage on the customer. I’d gladly pay higher prices for my meal just to know that my final bill will be the total price that I’m paying, mainly because I know some people aren’t subsidizing the employer’s pay rate while others (like you and me) regularly are. I tend to eat out a lot less because of this practice. I’m already paying tax on the menu price, and now I’m being taxed a service fee (basically) because the culture in the United States is for employers to ignore that as a cost of business.

        4. Joey*

          Well not really. I tip people who make far above min wage- I’m thinking of hotel people, the garbage man, drivers, my haircut guy,etc

        5. ChristineSW*

          Just now seeing this thread…

          What about bellhops at hotels or valet service at some restaurants/country clubs? They seem to expect tips, but I don’t know that they’re making below minimum wage.

      2. Jamie*

        Just because a job is crappy doesn’t mean it deserves to pay more money. Wages are based on the market for the job – an unskilled job in a market with a plentiful supply of applicants isn’t worth more to the business just because it’s not fun or fulfilling.

        When labor costs (as part of cogs) outside of the max percentage determined by that particular business for their profit margin the business will have to either get rid of some employees or raise prices.

        Give them all $20 an hour and see how much your donuts will cost. Many people will stop buying donuts > business suffers > people lose jobs.

        It’s oversimplified – but you can’t just throw money at a position to be nice. It has to work from a business standpoint.

        1. Anonymous*

          “It’s oversimplified ”

          Yes, vastly so. Possibly even backwards. The US had a roaring economy with business doing great when the minimum wage was the equivalent of about $15/hour today.

      3. TL*

        I agree with BCW. I don’t tip at those places (unless I’m with someone who’s extraordinarily difficult to serve, which has happened, or someone really goes the extra mile to do something for me.)

        I do go out of my way to make sure I’m pleasant and an easy-going customer, but generally I only tip for servers/bartenders, delivery people, and people who wax my eyebrows.

        1. Jamie*

          I tip very well at restaurants where servers rely on tips, but I agree with BCW – I don’t at fast food/donut places where they make min wage.

          Unless it’s an exceptional order, like for an office with a lot of complicated sub requests. Then I tipped just to make it up to them – and so they wouldn’t hate me so much next time.

          But I overtip servers, and my hair/nail/eyebrow people because I want them to like me best.

          1. VintageLydia*

            I over tip the take out people at my favorite Thai restaurant. As a result they know us when we come in and our orders are ready very fast. Ordinarily I don’t tip for take out at all unless the person giving me the order is only processing take out orders at a full service restaurant. I know they often still only make a tipped wage instead of minimum wage.

          2. TL*

            My philosophy is that if you’re putting hot wax on me, I’m tipping. Because if I want to come back, I really want to be that person that makes you feel better on a bad day, not worse.

            I generally tip 20% if the service is good and 15% if it’s below average. But I have one friend who’s just awful to eat out with (and tips 15% exactly – calculates it out on her phone) and with her, my tip starts at 30%.

        2. Aunt Vixen*

          Last time we went for ice cream at one of those chilled-marble-slab places, the line wasn’t especially long but everyone in the place, including us, was picky and fairly high maintenance – apologetically so, but still. And the kid behind the counter was all on his own; his co-worker arrived while we were waiting. We tipped the daylights out of him on the condition that he not, as they usually do in that place, sing a song when our money hit the jar.

    2. esra*

      Yea, if there is no rule or policy forbidding it, then I think it’s just human nature to be polite and take the tip. It’s nice to appreciate and be appreciated.

    3. RG*

      Hey! That’s the Minnesota Rule! A Minnesotan has to refuse an offer 3 times before we’re allowed to accept (I’m mostly kidding). The offer can be anything from a ride home (oh, that’s okay, I’ll just walk), invitation over for dinner (oh, I wouldn’t want to impose), taking home leftovers (Are you sure?).

      1. Chinook*

        I like the “3 refusals rule” because it means you someone is topping the back and forth and accepting the intent. if you didn’t do something like that, you could end up spending 5 minutes ata door going “after you,” “no, insist, after you.”.

        On a side note, this is also why I stopped balking at having doors opened for ne at work or being allowed to usew the coffee machine first. In the beginning,the”ladies first” behaviour was disconcerting but once I realized that they weren’t treating me as lessor but just doing what they had been taught was polite (often subconciusly) and that it meant no harm, I learned to roll with it because it saved time.

    4. chewbecca*

      We went to an order-at-the-counter pizza place last weekend, and after taking our order the cashier nudged the tip jar toward us. I didn’t even notice it sitting there, which is probably why he did it, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

      Normally I don’t mind if places have tip jars on the counters, because you can choose to ignore them if it’s not your thing, but by him bringing it to our attention, it felt like he was essentially asking for a tip.

  8. Amy*

    #1 – I do W2 contract work and make roughly 20% more than full-time staff if you were to break full time staff down to an hourly rate. I have no 401k, no health ins, no vacation days.

    1. Judy*

      I was going to say in engineering “job shop” jobs, it’s usually possible (and likely) to get paid more than the employees. But the benefits are not there, even though some job shops offer insurance, it comes all out of your pay rather than supplemented at all by the company. And _if_ there is a 401k, there is no match. Some job shops pay a little less than others, but then give some benefits like vacation/holiday/sick pay, and some just don’t pay when you’re not there.

      But there is no pension, no education reimbursement, no EAP, etc.

  9. Jamie*

    Manager vs supervisor thing – in my industry managers manage departments and supervisors are between the managers and line workers. Iow, supervisors handle issues which come up on the floor, communicate with managers about shift problems, do admin stuff as needed regarding policy issues…but they don’t hire, no formal discipline, no voice in raises/promotions – but they have the ear of management and can assign daily work.

    For us supervisor is distinctly separate from management and if you have true managerial responsibilities that should be reflected in your title so it’s clear on your resume.

    This may be different in other industries, but in SMB manufacturing it’s rare to see supervisors for office staff. Supervisors are on the floor and office positions report to managers or above.

    1. JM in England*

      My understanding of the manager/supervisor distinction has always been:-

      – You have direct reports=supervisor.

      – You have direct reports AND are in charge of a budget= manager

      Just my $0.02………….

    2. #5 OP*

      Thanks for the input, I’m the OP aka supervisor and I’ve been going back and forth on this one for a while. On the one hand it almost seems like a petty thing to dwell on but on the other hand in my company alot of things rely on strictly the job title/job description (compensation being one of course). I’ve worked in some places where it’s no big deal to change a job title (a pain to order new business cards though :-), not so much the case here where it takes an act of congress to make a change like that.

  10. Brett*

    State of Emergency is an official declaration required for a governor to utilize certain resources, particularly the national guard. Every state gives the governor this power. I agree that a State of Emergency should have zero effect on a private employer.

    But most states also give the governor the power to make an executive order accompanying the state of emergency. This executive order can affect private business, e.g. businesses may be ordered to close, they may be under curfew and travel restrictions, they may be ordered to evacuate. Those orders generally have the full force of law, and have penalties for employers who violate them. Every disaster declaration is unique, and not all states give governors this level of power. Certain businesses are often exempted (if you are a nurse, you are almost certainly exempted from the order).

    Your employer can (maybe, see below) still fire you for not showing up, even with such an order in place. But, in turn, they are risking civil and even criminal prosecution for violating executive orders. The most severe of these is normally staying open while under an order to evacuate. This is a good way to get arrested (the employee and the employer), and probably most commonly happens with the wildfires in California.

    The reason I say maybe, is that the EEOC did sue Dillard’s for firing an employee who did not show up while the business was under mandatory evacuation. But, that case was more complicated because the suit also alleged it was a pretextual firing in retaliation for a workplace discrimination claim.

    1. Brett*

      Also thought I should cover “driving in a state of emergency” tickets, since the latest issue is snow.

      It is very rare to have executive orders that give authority to ticket just for driving. Instead, the order is normally phrased that you can be ticketed for creating a travel hazard. If you drive and you get in an accident, your car gets stuck, you block an emergency vehicle, etc. you can be ticketed. But just driving alone will not get you a ticket, so you cannot argue with your employer that it is “illegal to drive”. It’s not illegal to drive, it is illegal to get stuck in the snow!

      1. anon-2*

        Here in Massachusetts – a driving and travel ban was imposed for an impending blizzard last year. This was done by Gov. Patrick to prevent against @@#$%^^ managers demanding people travel to work, in spite of his order.

        An employee can refuse a request to commit a crime.

        Here in Massachusetts, the authorities didn’t want anyone getting killed – and they DO put such bans on travel here, so that first responders aren’t engaged in pulling Grandpa out of a snowbank because he went to get his lottery tickets, and also to prevent idiots from demanding their people risk their lives, and general public safety, by coming to work.

      2. Miss Betty*

        It can indeed be illegal to drive. When the county (both where I live and where I work) puts a travel ban in place, it’s illegal for anyone except essential personnel – basically health care workers and first responders/dispatchers, etc. – to drive. The fine for breaking the law is $500. Not worth it. (And this is in the midwest, not in the south.)

        1. Brett*

          @Miss Betty
          That may be how the law is presented in the media, but such driving bans almost always specify that they can only be secondarily enforced if you have committed another driving violation. Police officers have better things to do at that time than pull over people who are safely driving from one location to another who may or may not be essential. And, stopping in those conditions is often the most dangerous thing a driver can do, so it is not worth stopping people just to make sure they are essential personnel.

          1. Miss Betty*

            That’s how our state DOT website represents it and how our partners (I work at a law firm) interpret it, but I’m sure you know best.

            1. Brett*

              I don’t know what jurisdiction you are in, so it is possible that your jurisdiction really does make it illegal to drive and uses it as primary enforcement. Massachusetts imposed a real travel ban, by executive order rather than law, during a winter storm this year; violating it was a $500 fine for violating an executive order.

              I know that in my jurisdiction, where I am part of the emergency management community and part of the law enforcement agency tasked with enforcing travel bans in our county (which have never been used), it works the way I mentioned. This despite the fact that our county counselor thinks it really is a travel ban.

              Another example is Indiana, who does maintain a county by county travel warnings that are referred to as travel bans. Instead, they are travel warnings accompanied by executive orders not to impede traffic and to comply with lawful instructions of law enforcement officers. Violating the executive order is a $500 fine, though technically driving itself is not banned (at least not until a law enforcement officer orders you to return to your home).
              Though, I know of at least one Indiana county with a countywide ordinance allowing for a blanket travel ban outside of state law.

              1. Miss Betty*

                That might be mine! (I’m in Indiana.) To be honest, I’m surprised how many counties still have a travel advisory going because the roads just aren’t that bad this week. Alas, no reason to stay home….

          2. anon-2*

            Uh, no, Brett, not exactly.

            And to think “it’s ok, you can get away with it” because police officers have better things to do at that time…

            Think again…

      3. Brett*

        From what I remember, Massachusetts’ governor may have the broadest set of powers of any governor for implementing these executive orders too. I know I see them frequently used as an example for these types of powers.

    2. anon-2*

      I would love to be in the unemployment office

      “I was fired”

      advisor = “OK, for what?”

      “I refused to travel when last week’s ban was put in place by the Governor.”

      advisor = “OK, we’ll check this out – WHO is your employer and WHO is your boss?”

      Civil penalties? Yup. Get your job back? If it’s a big company, you either may be offered your job back, or a settlement, especially if the company wants to keep this out of the papers….

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Just to be pedantic, the unemployment office would either award unemployment or not — but they wouldn’t have anything to do with reinstatement or civil penalties.

        1. HR “Gumption”*

          Thank you Alison,
          The UI office are not cops nor lawyers. I had an ex employee claim that since he was awarded UI then he was clearly “wrongfully terminated.” and would be suing if we didn’t pay him unearned wages. I provided clarification on employment law but after a few email exchanges our Corp Lawyer stepped in & educated him.

        2. anon-2*

          I didn’t say they did, AAM.

          But they may just pass the info along to OTHER state agencies, who may be interested in an employer who encourages people to commit criminal acts.

      2. Brett*

        It is also really hard to enforce those penalties retroactively. We generally have to catch the violator red handed, not use hearsay testimony from a fired worker.

        Plus, just having your employees drive to work would not be the issue. Having your business location open and doing business would be, if there is an evacuation order or forced closure in place.

        Being open during travel restrictions will probably not be an issue. Some businesses have their employees come into work before the ban goes into effect and leave after it is lifted. (Or, as I have experienced, have their employees call up emergency management and ask for transportation back home, which is not going to happen.)

        1. anon-2*

          True, Brett – but if you are ordered NOT to drive by local authorities and you defy the ban — well, you might be one of those people who is willing to go to jail to protect his boss.

          I’m not.

  11. Vitriolic Vixen*

    My sister was fired from her job once because she called to say she couldn’t make it to an off – hours – mandatory (but somehow unpaid) meeting during a monsoon. Most of the roads in and out of the subdivision she was living in were (perhaps unwisely) built across gulches that were known to flood, carry away cars, and kill people during storms.

    There had been severe thunderstorm, and flash-flood, warnings all afternoon, along with reports of downed power lines, debris, and sightings of funnel clouds city-wide. Buses were stopped. Motorists were urged to stay off the roads. The company did not reschedule.

    When my sister tried to phone in that night, her boss informed her that missing meetings was unacceptable regardless of time and weather, declared that excuses were excuses (d’uh?), and went on to say she was personally glad my sister had shown just how undependable and immature she was before the company invested another dime.

    Don’t bother coming in, we will mail you your check.

    This was my sister’s first job out of high school after a year and a half of being unable to find anyone willing to give her a chance. Despite the fact she was barely being paid minimum wage, and that the meeting was unpaid, had there been a way, she would have been there. She was devasted.

    I might add, that in addition to risking her life, it was unlikely my sister would not have been able to get to work without violating the state’s “Stupid Motorist Law” driving through a inundated flood zone. Not only would she have been cited and fined, had she gotten stuck, she’d’ve been billed by law enforcement and emergency services for her rescue. (Upwards of $35k last I knew).

    Lord knows a company doesn’t have to pay you for having discretion, or even keep you on the books for exercising it; however, I am thankful to this day that my sister decided against doing something stupid and illegal.

    Staying home during bad weather does not always requisite a defective work ethic or lack of common decency.

    Chalk it up to a personal failing, I just can’t be onboard with the: “People die on the roads every day, in all conditions..” program, nor side with companies who have such little concern for employee safety.

    1. ArtsNerd*

      It’s so context-dependent. Sounds like your sister did the right thing. Some employers are unreasonable; some employees are unreasonable. I don’t think AAM or others are trying to paint all bad-weather scenarios with a “suck it up” answer.

      There are also jobs and situations in which it’s entirely appropriate to anticipate bad weather, and make arrangements to stay in a hotel near the office (or at the office itself!) in advance. Not every job, and not every storm, of course. But I definitely had a talk with my coworker about it in a meeting today. (“Just because YOU are happy to hike 7 miles in 16″ in of snow on foot, doesn’t mean we can’t expense a few hotel rooms for your staff!”)

  12. anon-2*

    #4 – first of all, do not construe ANYTHING you read in here as valid legal advice. I am in Massachusetts, I am not an attorney – so do not construe this as legal advice.

    But anyway – if a state of emergency exists, and a travel ban is declared (THAT IS THE CRITICAL PART, KIDS)

    Is your boss asking you to commit a crime? Yeah, you can be fired. But yeah, he can get in serious trouble. If a travel ban is put on, and you go to work because your boss wants his financial reports — what if you get caught?

    “It’s OK, I was just following orders.” Your boss will deny that he coerced you to break the law, obviously — in such a situation, it’s every man for himself after it hits the fan. And “just following orders”, historically, has never been a defense.

    So – you have to assess — is your manager asking you to take a criminal action? Going to work when there’s an official travel/driving ban on (unless you work in health or safety) might be a crime. In my opinion, agreeing to obey such a request falls into the same category as juggling the books, lying to authorities, falsifying invoices, stealing, doing payroll with rubber checks, etc.

    If you are caught violating a travel ban, do you expect your boss to defend you?


    Don’t count on it.

    1. aebhel*

      At that point, I wonder if it would be worth seeing if you can get the order in writing.

      “So we are required to come in regardless of weather conditions or travel bans? I’m not sure I understand. Can you email me that information, please?”

        1. anon-2*

          Wait a minute… maybe some are. In my day, I saw managers commit egregious acts against employees — WORSE than this, won’t go into details.

          And they were stupid enough to try to contest the employee’s unemployment claim….

  13. Hooptie*

    #5 – if it helps, in our company the qualifier is that a manager has at least one supervisor under them.

  14. Smilingswan*

    Regarding question #1, I have an add-on question if I may (although I am not the OP).

    I have been with several temp agencies throughout the country (once as temp-to-perm, once as a transfer of payroll when I began telecommuting for my company by special arrangement, and once as a temporary assignment) and I am about to (hopefully) start a contract-to-perm arrangement through a fourth agency. My question is: do agencies actually have strict percentages that they take as payment for services, or can they low-ball me to get a higher rate?

    For example, the agency asks me what my minimum is and I say I can’t go below $12/hour. Can they then go to a company willing to pay them $30/hour, pay me my $12/hour and keep the difference? Or, if their usual take is 50%, do they then have to give me $15/hour?

    None of the agencies I have ever worked with have disclosed their financial arrangements to me, and I had never thought to ask. Is that something I should be addressing when I interview with any new agencies?

    1. CAA*

      Your agreement with the agency is independent of the agency’s agreement with their customer. The agency wants to maximize its profit, so of course they’ll sell your services for as much as they can get for them. They are under no obligation to tell you how much their client pays for your work, or to pay you more if they are able to place you at a higher rate than they expected.

Comments are closed.