I’m trying to resign but it’s not working, client is deducting fees for quick payment, and more

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

1. I’m trying to resign but it’s not working

I started an internship at a start-up company in November, and now that Ive graduated college I’m ready to move on. The thing is, my boss is making it literally impossible for me to leave! She mentioned maybe offering me a full-time position, but no details were involved, so I stuck around until I got an offer. I was made an offer and I came back after the weekend and said I couldn’t afford it and that I had to decline the offer.

This week: Boss comes in to my office and tells me: “I talked to (other boss) and that offer is the best we could do. You’ll earn that until you find another job or we hire someone to replace you. Then you can put your 2 weeks in, okay?” Walks out.

I ALREADY declined this offer the previous week! What should I do now? Is a straightforward email with a two weeks notice acceptable in this circumstance? Am I in the wrong?

They aren’t making it impossible for you to leave — you just need to be clearer that you’re putting in your notice. It doesn’t sound like you’ve done that; you turned down their offer, yes, but you didn’t tell them that you’d be leaving.

Go meet with your boss and give her two weeks notice in person. Don’t do this over email; it’s a face-to-face conversation.

If she pushes you to stay until they hire a replacement, it’s fine to simply say, “I actually do need my last day to be in two weeks; I’ve made other commitments for after that that I need to keep.” (Or if the reason you’re leaving is the pay, you can also say, “I’m not able to keep working at this rate, so I do need to wrap up in two weeks.”)

2. My client is deducting fees if we want to get paid quickly

Part of your answer to this question (“can we delay payroll if someone isn’t turning in their hours on time?”) made me have a question of my own. Earlier this year, a company I freelance for moved their payroll department to India. It was inconvenient for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is it started taking about 3 months for them to pay me for a project, and that was usually at much persistence.

The communication hasn’t been great, but I finally “get” their new policy. We submit invoices through an online system and the default timeline to get paid is 60 days. I felt really hesitant when I saw that because I don’t trust them to pay me on time anymore, so I’d really rather not wait 60 days. So I saw that actually you can get your payment quicker if you deduct a fee (I’m serious). For instance, for a certain percentage rate off your base pay, you can get paid in 30 days or 10 days instead.

I changed my last invoice to 10 days, taking the fine because I wanted to test the system and make sure it works. They did pay me, but they took 20 days, not 10. (And this is by direct deposit, by the way, so there shouldn’t be much variation.) I think that’s really unfair, needless to say. But is this even legal? I looked at the laws in the original state that they were paying us from and it sounds like deducting wages like that was strictly forbidden, but I’m guessing it’s not now that they’re paying us from another country? I’m just curious on your opinion and what you would do if you were me (particularly about this thing where they took twice as long to pay me as I requested). Do I have any grounds to put my foot down?

I know some people will be like “drop this client” and maybe that’s fair, but to put it in perspective they give me a steady, ongoing amount of work, which is important as a freelancer and pay at or above the industry standard. I’m reluctant to sever the relationship, but this is making it difficult to live (since I can’t trust them to pay on time anymore). It’s enough of a burden that I’ve started interviewing for work as my freelance lifestyle has become unsustainable. But in the interim, I have to take this work, so I want to do whatever I can to relieve these problems.

The relevant laws on wages are the ones for the state in which you’re working, so it doesn’t matter that this company’s payroll is being handled in India. However, wage laws — including how quickly people need to be paid — refer to employees, not to contractors. Since you’re a contractor, it’s a whole different set-up for you. There are no laws requiring that contractors be paid within a certain amount of time; it’s governed only by what’s in your contract. Ideally you’d have a contract with clear payment deadlines and late fees. (The enforcement mechanism for this is taking the client to court if they don’t abide by the contract, so it’s not quite as easy in that regard as it is for employees either; employees have state labor departments who they can go to if they’re not getting paid.)

3. An upcoming lease renewal is complicating my job search timeline

I recently went through two rounds of interviews at a small company for a job that I very much want. At the last interview, I was told that I was one of the top candidates. We did not discuss their timeline for following up.

This new job is in a different city. My lease ends in a month, and I need to know soon whether to renew. My landlord will not allow me to do a month-to-month. (I live in a city with a very renter-unfriendly market). It has been a week since the last interview, and I have not heard anything. Would it be appropriate to follow up to explain my housing situation, and if so, when?

It’s fine to send them an email saying something like, “Thanks so much for meeting with me last week. I remain really interested in the position and wondered if you could give me a sense of your timeline from here. I’m excited by the prospect of moving to Dallas for the job, but am about to have to decide whether or not to renew a lease here in Boston; while I of course don’t expect you to alter your timeline to accommodate that, I’d be grateful to get a sense of when I might hear from you about next steps.”

That said, absent an actual offer from them, I’d proceed however you’d proceed if you knew you weren’t getting an offer. You don’t want to mess up your housing situation and end up with no job from them.

4. How do I tell my boss I want to apply for a promotion?

I have been working on my (small) team for 4 years, and though I like the work, I’ve been eager to look for a stretch position in management (not my current job). My team opened one, and I’d really like to apply for it because I like my work and my team very much, and I’d love to grow with them (rather than need to go elsewhere for growth).

I’m currently in the position of teapot manager, and the position open is a new position that would supervise me and report to my boss. In looking at the job description, it’s a reach position for me in terms of years of experience and some types of skills. I do think I’d bring great strengths to the role, but I wouldn’t be heartbroken if I didn’t get it. I’d be happy to keep working in my current role if the person who came in as teapot deputy is someone who really brought unique strengths to the position.

How do I tell my boss I’d like to apply? I don’t want to ask her permission, because I’d regret not applying at all, but I respect her and value her opinion, so I’d like to apply with her blessing without sounding cheesy. Also, is this going to make my boss nervous that I’m trying to leave? I’m not really urgently trying to leave, but in the next year or so certainly I will be looking for growth opportunities my current role can’t give me.

It’s not really about asking permission, but it’s about asking for her advice. Tell her your goals for your next steps professionally and that you think this job could be the right next move for you, and ask what she thinks. For example: “I’m really interested in moving into a ___ role, and I’m thinking about the deputy role that has opened up on our team. I know I don’t have all the qualifications on paper, but I think I could be great at it because of XYZ. I wanted to get your thoughts before I formally apply.”

That said, don’t apply for this just because it’s the management role right in front of you if it’s not actually the right fit. Being somewhat of a stretch is good; being a true reach probably isn’t, because you want a role that you’ll excel in. (That’s especially true when you’ll be managing others, since having the wrong person in a management can have a really negative impact on other people’s own jobs and quality of life.) Be honest with yourself about how strong a match you really are and how quickly you’d grow into the pieces that you’re not currently strong in.

As for whether it will make your boss nervous that you want to leave: It’ll certainly let her know that you have aspirations beyond what you’re doing currently, but that’s not unusual or particularly problematic. A good boss will want to know that and will want to help you get experience that will help you move in that direction, if it’s at all feasible in your current role.

5. Do I have to be paid if I’m sent home right after coming to work?

If an employer schedules an employee to work but when the employee arrives the manager tells them they aren’t really needed, does the employer have to pay them for a certain number of hours?

It depends on your state. Some states do have a minimum number of hours you must be paid for if you show up, called “reporting time pay.” To find out if your state does, google the name of your state and “reporting time pay.”

There’s also a state by state listing here, but I can’t vouch for how accurate or up-to-date it is.

{ 76 comments… read them below }

  1. EmilyG

    Re: OP3, I wonder if they’d be willing to share more about their lease/landlord situation. I don’t want to undermine Allison’s advice, which seems great on the employer front, but I’ve lived for years in several of the crappiest rental markets in the country and have often managed to finagle things the way I want, and I bet other commenters here have too. Maybe there’s more to negotiate on that front.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        I don’t think the op had much bargaining power but, maybe they are a really good tenant and might be able to talk their landlord into a month to month rentlal, or tell their landlord they are waiting on a job offer and ask to rent the place for one month and then either move out or sign a longer contract if they don’t get the job.

        1. MK

          I was going by the OP’s assertion that the won’t do a month-to-month (frankly, I don’t see why any landlord would want agree to that, other than doing you a favor, unless there are no other perspective renters), but a onetime one month extension might fly.

          1. sam

            My lease was up in May but since I am moving for graduate school in September I was able to negotiate a 3 month extension. Worth a try.

          2. FiveNine

            Really? I thought it strange for the opposite reason — I’ve never heard of an apartment complex that doesn’t offer month to month options after you complete your first lease. (They tend to put the price per month at the top market rate.)

            1. AvonLady Barksdale

              It’s very possible the OP doesn’t live in a complex, though. I’ve been in two situations where I’ve had to work out rent extensions. The first time, I lived in a complex that was professionally managed. Lease was up in April, grad school started in June. They let me go month-to-month at, yes, top market rate.

              In the second situation, my boyfriend and I were renting a condo for just about market rate. No management– we dealt directly with our landlord. We had a great relationship with him. Lease up in May, grad school started in August, so I asked him if we could do a 3-month or a 6-month extension (the latter was for his benefit– I didn’t want to do that, but I would have). He very graciously agreed to the 3-month and charged us no more than the yearly renewal rate. We were lucky for a bunch of reasons; in addition to the excellent relationship we had with our landlord and the building, our neighborhood got really hot/trendy right after we moved in, plus we were near Columbia University and a bunch of teaching hospitals. Moving out at the end of July meant that the landlord could get super top dollar for the place with a glut of potential applicants.

              tl;dr– OP, I would recommend going back to your landlord and working out an extension for less than a year. Sometimes the month-to-month thing makes private landlords balk because it’s so uncertain, but 3 or 6 months can be much more palatable.

              1. the_scientist

                I’m taking the OP at their word that they’ve researched this fully, but I do advise them to really read the renting laws for their state. In Ontario, it’s actually required that renting rolls over to month-to-month once the one-year lease is up,assuming the tenant opts to stay. The provincial government dictates the maximum rental increase for the year (0.8% in 2014; ~2% in 2015) but no additional charges for month-to-month are allowed. The main exception to this is student housing, and this needs to be approved by the government. In any case, a halfway decent landlord would maybe be willing to sign a lease for a set amount of time (i.e. 3 months) instead of doing a month to month rental if the OP is a good tenant and has been there for a while!

                Also, OP, if you do end up having to break your lease, maybe you can negotiate with your new job to cover any fees associated with that as part of a relocation bonus?

                1. MK

                  Renting may role to month-to-month, but surely the landlord is not obligated to renew the lease each month, are they?

                2. MK

                  Cat, are you saying that once you sign a lease once the landlord cannot get rid of you for ever and ever? (I assume, unless you break some condition of the contract)

                3. snuck

                  Here in Western Australia we have the same thing… if the lease expires it goes to month to month… but the landlord can decline to continue that and formally end the lease… in which case you are out. The month to month rule is for when both parties just let it lapse and don’t do anything about it… so the landlord can’t turn around and give a days notice or whatever silliness. Most landlords (via their real estate agents usually) make an effort to get a signature, otherwise the rent and all the other conditions remain the same until there’s new paperwork filed… it can get messy.

                  OP I’d ask the landlord for a one month extension to decide… have the rent for that month ready to go immediately, and explain you are waiting to hear on a promotion that might make a difference to your living circumstances. Most landlords won’t mind a one month extension so long as you are communicating clearly with them… and you’ll be glad of a few extra weeks to pack and move anyway… this is assuming the propsective employer doesn’t come back to you within the week of course.

            2. MK

              I have no experience with professionally-managed flats, so I was going with what a private individual is likely to agree to. And they generally want a long-term lease, not the hassle and uncertainty of a month-to-month.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale

                But there are options in between, like mine. We were excellent tenants in a hot market with a very risk-averse landlord. We agreed on a 3-month lease, which gave all of us peace of mind.

            3. SystemsLady

              Same here. If you’ve already stayed for a year and paid your rent consistently, most of the reasons to avoid renting month to month disappear.

              Though the place where I stayed that long happened to usually have at least a short waiting list, so the landlord knows that place won’t go empty for too long once you leaves. You also were required to give 2 months of notice before moving out, so in practice it was a little tighter than normal.

            4. Jennifer

              Hah. I live in a college town. Lease all run September-September, you need to sign your renewal sometime between February and April for next year, and month to month just doesn’t exist. The vacancy rate is usually 0.something.

              I don’t know how the hell I’ll ever move away and time a job offer at the same time, given the total lack of flexibility.

          3. Mike C.

            I’m willing to bet that the landlord is a large property management firm from out of state that simply refuses to negotiate in general.

            1. Ellie H

              Where I live in the college-y part of the Boston area, the vast, vast majority of apartments aren’t in “apartment buildings” but are in houses, so there are 2 or three apartments per house and you rent directly from the owner (who is just a regular person who is a landlord, not a property manager or company). It’s a landlords’ market and I have literally never heard of anyone doing month-to-month around here, though I guess it’s possible some people do it and I am just not aware, but I’m pretty familiar with the renting situation here because I used to advise graduate students about housing. I am not sure if it would be impossible (I never thought to ask) but it would be extremely anomalous. Most people instead work out all kinds of byzantine subletting situations (i.e. as a renter, you agree to turn over your lease to someone on the condition they let you sublet for 2 months, etc.)
              When I lived in an apartment complex in Austin extending month to month was no problem, though so it may be the difference between apartment complex and private owner.

              1. stellanor

                I don’t think our apartment would let us go month to month because they could toss us out and find someone else to sign a 12-month lease in about 25 seconds. The vacancy rate in my area is ridiculously low.

                My last apartment complex let me rent month to month for an additional fee, but only because I’d lived there a ridiculously long time without causing any trouble and the building manager really liked me.

              2. bad at online naming

                I’m in the Boston area and month-to-month! But I recognize that is strange and bizarre (and could potentially change).

                It’s not like I plan on moving anywhere else anytime soon, though – the same landlord hasn’t raised the rent even though they could, let the cost of fixing the shower be deducted from a month’s rent (even though the breakage was my roommate’s fault), and allows my two cats.

      2. EmilyG

        Yeah, I don’t mean to second-guess the OP but it wasn’t clear to me from the letter whether OP had talked to the landlord or maybe was going off the lease or hearsay. I’ve lived in a small building where the landlord used a boilerplate rental agreement and didn’t really intend to enforce parts of it (I signed a two-lease with him while I was finishing grad school and left after 19.5 months when I graduated, with his blessing). Or I’ve heard things from other tenants, like they had their rent raised a lot and I expected I would too, but then I didn’t, and then I found out that they were terrible tenants (I’m not). I think the three-month lease someone else suggested could take some pressure off OP and be acceptable to many landlords. That said, I agree with Allison’s bottom line to proceed as if you aren’t getting the offer until you do.

        Anyway, I guess this is very city-dependent. In NYC, the laws are very very pro-tenant and landlords don’t have as much power; so if they have a non-troublesome tenant they’re likely to work with you so that you stay. I never had more than about a 3.5% rent increase despite living there in the wildest-West parts of the ’00s. In Seattle, they are required to let you go month-to-month for an upcharge included in the original lease, but they don’t treat existing tenants with kid gloves and will do 25% increases out of the blue.

        Good luck, OP… hope it all works out to your satisfaction.

    1. Lynn Whitehat

      I live in Austin, which is one of the tightest rental markets in the country, and my husband fixes up and rents houses for a living. He will often agree to month to month rent for a good tenant. He would rather postpone having it sit empty, and the next tenant might be late with the rent or high maintenance. So it is worth asking.

      1. the gold digger

        I used to live in Austin and am now in the frozen north, in a city that does not have a tight rental market. I could not believe it when I learned my husband would have to give two months’ notice to move out of his apartment with the upstairs neighbors who did laundry twice. a. day. every. single. day. and that there was no month-to-month. I have never hated a landlord so much – we had two months to find, buy, and close on a house.

        RE: LW3’s situation. If the employer is going to move LW to the new city, paying lease breakage fees is usually covered in a move package. If there is not a move package, this is certainly something LW can ask for.

        1. Alston

          If the writer really is in Boston though its going to be complicated by the fact that almost all apartments turn over September 1st because we have hoards of students. Pushing a lease off the September cycle can lower the rent/make it hard to rent, so landlords here almost NEVER do that, and I don’t know anyone who has a month to month lease in Boston. It just doesn’t happen.

  2. AGirlCalledFriday

    Alison, for #5 I assume you mean “It *depends* on your state. :)

    For #1, it’s pretty difficult to find full-time work as a new graduate. If you have no other options currently, you might want to consider continuing at the startup for the following reasons:
    1. You’ll get to put it on your resume for a longer stretch of time, and bonus points for the company liking you enough to want to keep you;
    2. Many startups promote quickly from within, and employees have to handle multiple tasks. You might get to dip your hands in a lot more things when you stop being an intern, which means you could learn a lot more than if you started at the bottom somewhere else AND you could also be looking at moving up the chain sooner than you might elsewhere;
    3. You’ll be making some kind of money and continuing to gain a good reputation, which will only help you during your job search.

    If it’s a decent place, startups can be amazing for new grads. Please consider it.

    1. MK

      Yes, I don’t actually understand why the OP doesn’t take the offered job till they find a new one. The company seems to be fine with that arrangement. Maybe there are other reasons they want to leave as soon as possible.

      1. Lanya

        The OP#1 said she couldn’t afford to stay. Maybe he or she is looking ahead to when student loan payments will kick in.

        1. MK

          But it’s not as if the OP is certain of finding a job immediately or before the company hire a replacement. They are not asking to put the job search on hold, just to keep working till she finds one.

          1. OhNo

            Especially is student loans are involved, it’s much more complicated than a simple income v. no income. If the OP is doing or considering income-based repayment, then this job may have high enough income to disqualify them, resulting in huge loan payments that arent sustainable on that salary. Or there may be a rule where they are required to stick to a payment plan for a set period of time, meaning that if they set payments now, with this salary, it severely restricts their ability to move jobs because they HAVE to have this minimum salary. Being unemployed, on the other hand, often leaves you with options for deferment or incredibly low loan payments that make more sense for the OP at this point.

            Besides, the OP said that they didn’t want to be in this job at that salary, so it seems counterproductive to answer a letter asking “How do I quit?” by repeatedly saying “Don’t!”. Just throwing that out there.

            1. AGirlCalledFriday

              Most student loans take 6 months to kick in, and the OP said they had just graduated. Being unemployed does not really help with loans – you can get deferments if you qualify for economic hardship, i.e. not paid enough – and even if you do qualify for such things, the interest can double your loan amount in a few short years. In any case, the OP has not mentioned student loans so I’m taking the stance that it’s not the issue here.

              Based on what the OP actually wrote, I’m getting the idea that she is newly graduated and wants to find ‘better’ work. She wants to be done with school. If that’s the case, I can’t blame her for the desire to want to move on, but it should be noted that it’s very, VERY difficult for new grads or even anyone to find jobs at this time. Staying at her internship – now employment – could very much mean the difference between being unemployed or underemployed for a few years or being able to learn new things and gain more experience which will translate to better job offers in the future. Even though there may be very valid reasons for this new grad to not want to retain this particular job, I think it’s counterproductive to not mention this at all, when this is a blog that often mentions how difficult it is to find jobs, especially for new grads.

              While I know that employers can definitely lowball on offers, I’m wondering if it’s really that much of a difference from entry level pay in the OP’s area. I’m career changing now, and I’m realizing that even though this particular type of job could have me at 6 figures eventually, starting out I’m likely to have to survive on a very low salary until I build up my network and learn more skills.

              1. Bea W

                That was my impression. The OP is fresh out of school, new to the working world, and (understandably) naive. She’s probably calculated how much she thinks she needs to live on, and assuming it will be easy to just get a job that will pay her enough. What a lot of people just getting out there don’t always know is that starting out is usually tougher than they imagine. It can be hard to find a job in one’s desired field, let alone a job that will pay an entry level worker enough to comfortably cover living expenses at the lifestyle they have been accustomed to at home, student loans, etc, especially in a region with high cost of living.

                Even if this offer is below what she could make at another company, it may still be a good idea to take the offer, if only to stay employed until she finds something better. It’s easier to get a job when you already have one, and she’d be gaining valuable experience for her resume.

                OP – if the *only* reason you don’t want to accept the offer is because the pay is not as much as you’d like, you might want to reconsider. You’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage leaving without a job lined up and being unemployed. It depends on the job market for what you do, but a lot of new grads spend months or even years working in low paying jobs not in their field of study because they can’t get better paying work or work in their field. You aren’t married to your job ’til death do you part. Look at it as a stepping stone to something better.

        2. INTP

          But unless OP needs to move back in with parents in another city or something (in which case OP needs to articulate this to the employer), I don’t see how they can afford no job but they can’t afford this paid offer. Sounds like the company is fine with the temporary arrangement and would let OP take time for interviews and such.

      2. Zillah

        My immediate thought was actually that they were planning to relocate unless this job would pay them enough to live on in their current situation. It’s possible that they were planning to move somewhere with a lower cost of living, or even just move in with friends/relatives who are too far away for commuting to be an option.

        1. AGirlCalledFriday

          That could be the case, there could be a lot of reasons why the OP would not want to continue working for the startup, but unless the OP comes back to give more info it doesn’t make sense to give advice based on things that could be the case. Alison gave the advice that was asked, but I’m surprised that there wasn’t a caveat of “if you possibly can, continuing work there will potentially help you a lot more than hurt you, even if you aren’t making enough”. Barring relocation/abusive environment, it doesn’t make sense to refuse a job at this time IF there aren’t any other options currently.

          I think some of this hits home for me because I’ve had to deal with looooonnng stretches of being unemployed and underemployed because of this recession. There just weren’t any jobs in my field for me, and it was very difficult to career change. I’ve known a lot of new grads to be completely unrealistic about the job market and they were unemployed and underemployed for looooonnng stretches as well. Most new grads just can’t afford to turn down jobs – that’s why so many are still living at home and working jobs not in their area of expertise.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Well, because it’s a short answer and I’m taking the OP at her word that she can’t afford the offer, something that no one else appears to be doing :)

            But it’s a fair point.

            1. AGirlCalledFriday

              Well, that’s why the commenters are here – to belabor every possible point to death so you don’t have to. :)

    2. neverjaunty

      Pretty sure any work environment where your boss tries to tell you that you’re not quitting, you’ll accept the offer they gave whether you like it or not, and that you’ll give your notice when they say you will, is the exact opposite of “amazing”.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday

        But that’s not what was said. The boss offered the OP a job, the OP determined that the salary was too low and declined. The boss then said, ok – but your position is secure until either you find a job and you want to give your 2 weeks, or we find a replacement for you. That doesn’t sound like the opposite of ‘amazing’; it sounds like a mutually beneficial situation in most cases. If it’s not beneficial for the OP, all she has to do is actually give her 2 weeks notice.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes — I think the problem here is just that the OP, being a new grad, didn’t realize that she needed to give a clearer statement that she plans to leave, if in fact that’s what she wants.

    3. RG

      Stop it! All of you in this thread, stop it! Stop assuming that just because someone is a recent graduate that they’re incapable of understanding how hard it can be to get a job! Stop assuming that “OMG, OP is obviously a special snowflake who doesn’t understand how the real working world works!” Just stop it!

        1. AGirlCalledFriday

          I don’t think anyone is assuming that recent graduates are incapable of understanding how to get a job; only that it can be hard in this market, and many people – no matter their age or experience – have been surprised to find themselves under- or unemployed for long stretches of time.

          The commenters work hard to be kind to each other, even when they disagree. Please contribute to making this a respectful place.

          1. Bea W

            They are totally capable of understanding it, but people to tend to think “that won’t happen to me” until it does or they just haven’t had the life experience or background to make it seem real yet. The school may even be giving students the impression that they’ll be able to go out and get good jobs right away.

  3. Artemesia

    Startups can also be places that abuse workers and it doesn’t sound like they have any intention of actually offering the OP anything better than more low paid internship. My view has been shaped by knowing 3 people who have been cheated of their labor by startups including one person who created a key part of the business in exchange for equity, only to be fired the day before the equity vested. i.e. they just stole his labor.

    1. MK

      That doesn’t seem to be this case, though. The manager seems to understand that the OP rejected the offer perfectly well; essentially they asked the OP to take it on a temporary basis, till either the company hires a replacement or the OP finds a job, at which point they can give notice. It sounds like a mutually beneficial arrangement, unless the OP has other reasons to want to stop working there as soon as possible.

      I makes sense to respond to a rejection with “We are sorry you won’t take the job, but we can’t up the offer. How about continuing to work here at the salary we offered till you get a new job or we hire a replacement?”. I think what confused the OP was the manager’s cavalier attitude; she didn’t propose this new temp arrangement to the OP, they simply announced it, taking ti for granted the OP would agree.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday

        I agree with MK; I haven’t seen anything that suggests that the startup is abusing the OP in any way.

        I also agree that startups can be tricky and people can be abused. I’ve worked at a few, and my experience was that there were always things to be figured out and navigated, but personally I have also found that if the environment is good and an employee does good work, they get to be involved in much more than they would at a different company. For example, when I was teaching in an international school startup, I got to design the behavior management plans for the entire school, the grading system for the school, I mentored other teachers, I was able to orchestrate different events in the school and community, assess students for entrance into the school, hold staff and parent meetings, interview and hire people, and many other things aside from my regular teaching job. Because I was so respected by the staff, students, and parents I was offered the Vice Principal role and later the Principal role, which I turned down. If I had been in America, or even in an international school that wasn’t starting out, I would never have been able to take on those roles, never been promoted, and now that I am career changing I can use the non-teaching experience I have to prove how I would be good in different roles.

        1. AGirlCalledFriday

          I should also mention, my friend was at the ground floor at the startup Groupon, which became successful. He was able to do so much more than he would at another company, and based on his experience there he was able to almost double his salary at other places, and gets offered much better jobs.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I recently interviewed someone who got in at the ground floor at Living Social and it sounded like she had an amazing experience there, even accounting for the potential interview sheen she may have put on it. Not every start-up or every nonprofit or every small business sucks! And some things that would fall in the “this sucks” category for some people fall in the “I love this” category for others.

          2. Connie-Lynne

            I’m dying with curiosity to know who your friend is, since I know most of the people who were at Groupon during the early years! (I understand if you can’t say though).

            1. AGirlCalledFriday

              Connie-Lynne, I checked with my friend and he says that he doesn’t recall meeting you, but he left around Sept-Nov 2011 after working there a couple years. Were you there around that time? I’m sure you both know a lot of the same people!

              1. Connie-Lynne

                Wow, that was definitely early days if he was there a couple years in 2011!

                I started there pretty much exactly when your friend left, and if he was there that early we’d have been in different offices, so he probably wouldn’t remember me.

    2. the gold digger

      fired the day before the equity vested

      Speaking of complete jerks, I watched “Jobs” last night. Man, I would not have wanted to work for that guy. Yes, he was passionate and had a vision, but he was not very nice to people.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Yeah, bosses like that don’t seem to get that good staff are their biggest asset. Treat them well and good staff will pay you back big time.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          In fairness, though, he seems to be have been an exception to that, no? He was a jerk to people and did quite well regardless.

          (I know saying that sounds snotty, but I feel like intellectual honesty demands that we consider that that narrative actually isn’t always correct, even though I wish that it were.)

          1. the gold digger

            My organizational behavior professor said that there was no research to prove that happy employees are more productive than unhappy employees.

            “You could spend all day talking at the water cooler,” she said, “which would make you happy but you wouldn’t be getting anything done. Slaves are unhappy but are very productive.”

            1. I called her Estella

              Very true. Maybe the commenter’s point was about good staff feeling valued. I currently have an awesome boss who lets me grow and I feel happy and motivated in my work. I put in more and we both gain from it. If I spent hours at the water cooler that would make me a lazy employee not a good one. A slave works so hard because he has no choice, happy or not. But a good and motivated employee works harder because she wants to.

      2. techandwine

        To be fair, that documentary also really focused on some of the negative stuff. Yes, Jobs had a reputation, but he also did an incredible job building his company. And I say this after having worked there for 5 years (while he was still alive). I had the pleasure of meeting him once when I was in Cupertino and while all he did was shake my hand, he also asked thoughtful questions and listened carefully to the other people at my lunch table.

        The man didn’t suffer fools, and as a result his company succeeded in ways that many others have tried to copy (without much success).

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      ” My view has been shaped by knowing 3 people who have been cheated of their labor by startups including one person who created a key part of the business in exchange for equity, only to be fired the day before the equity vested. i.e. they just stole his labor.”

      Grounds for a lawsuit…

  4. Graciosa

    Regarding #2, you do have another option.

    The client is stating that its payment terms are net 60, and “early” payment is possible with an adjustment for the loss in the time value of money. If you want to keep the client, you can adjust your rates accordingly. Your rate is $X for payment net 30, and $Y for payment net 60.

    You can charge late fees separately, or just include those numbers in your rate if you’re dealing with a client who is late often enough to want to make sure you recover them. Late fees are notoriously hard to collect from companies who behave like this, and suing for them is more of a hassle than building them in.

    As a professional, you should be setting your rate to take these – and other factors – into account. The other factors can include how hard the client is to deal with. I know someone who called this an A**h*** tax – when a client was going to be difficult (and experienced freelancers can tell pretty quickly) he quoted double his normal rate.

    The amount you bill needs to cover *all* the time you work with this client whether or not its separately billable. If the O&A is going to be excessive for one A**h*** client (because you’re spending extra time on anything from collection calls to handholding difficult customers), you make sure you’re compensated by building it into the rate.

    1. CAA

      Yes, this is what I was going to say also. This kind of Accounts Payable policy is common for larger companies. They require all vendors to agree to the same terms to make it easier for them to pay their bills. However, they can’t just unilaterally decide to modify a previously signed contract where you both agreed to payment terms. If you didn’t include payment terms with due dates and late fees in your contract, then you are pretty much out of luck on this one because if you try to negotiate a different schedule, they can just decide they no longer need your services.

      It sounds like the terms they expect are something like “1/10 net 60 EOM” (1% discount if paid within 10 days after the end of the month in which your invoice is submitted), so if you submit an invoice on the May 20th, they get a 1% discount for paying it by June 10th (which is 21 days later, as in your example, but in accordance with their terms). If you submit an invoice on the 1st, the payment is not actually due to you until 3 months later — 60 days after the end of the month in which you submitted it. If you will post their actual wording, we can try to interpret it for you and help you understand it. You are thinking in terms of a “fine”, but they are taking a “discount”, and you will have much better customer relations if you get a clear understanding of the system and use the same terminology.

      You can also work this system to your advantage by choosing the dates on which you submit invoices and setting prices so you’ll still get paid what you expect to. If you’re billing them monthly, always submit your invoice on the last day of month instead of waiting until the first of the next month. A one-day change on your side cuts your wait down by a full month. Also, as Graciosa said, if you want quick payment, raise your rates to cover the discount they’re taking.

    2. OP

      Thanks for this. This is why this blog is valuable. None of us (or at least I wasn’t) trained in how to protect yourself as a freelancer. I have been learning as I go along. I am always intimidated to raise the rate but thus far have not received any pushback when I have, so maybe that fear is irrational.

      And as to your latter paragraphs, yes, sometimes I feel like I’m taking just as long trying to fill the invoice as it takes to do the actual job (a bit of an exaggeration, but you get my point).

      Do you (or anyone) understand why bigger companies prefer a 60-day base payment policy, though? I’m really curious. Formerly they paid us two weeks after they got the invoice, so it has been a bit of an adjustment.

      1. Graciosa

        Improved cash flow – and you should be thankful they only went to 60. I’ve seen 120.

        1. hnl123

          My clients pay 120 all the time. Drives me bonkers, especially trying to explain this to vendors.

      2. Hlyssande

        It lets the company keep the money on the books for longer. A lot of A/P personnel in large companies are likely told to delay payment as long as they can.

        I’m not a collector, but I work in a department with many of them and I’ve heard so many horror stories about trying to collect from customers on a Net 30 basis when we buy from that same customer and don’t pay within the same terms, so the collector gets understandable pushback.

  5. Samantha

    Re #3:

    Have you thought of leasing your apartment again and subletting if you get the other job? If your city is unfriendly to renters, there’s probably a lot of people trying to find an apartment.

  6. Picky Commenter

    #1, finding jobs in this market is not that easy. If you already have something lined up, fair enough, but if you don’t, I think it’s in your best interests to stay put while continuing your job search. Obviously, if you’re so unhappy or being mistreated, you might decide leaving is better for the sake of your sanity. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. You’ll have better luck finding a position while in a position, and the more work experience you have on your resume, the better off you are.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t think your manager spoke to you in the best way possible, but I do think they are giving you a fair chance, especially as you’ve indicated that you aren’t looking to stay on for much longer.

  7. Charity

    To OP3: It’s funny that Allison used Boston in her result because that’s definitely our rental market. Anyway, people break their leases all the time. If it’s a renter unfriendly market like Boston, there will be enough demand that your apartment won’t stay unrented for long. Usually, the rental company will charge for the months the apartment stays empty. And as others have mentioned, subletting is an option.

    If the company doesn’t get back to you in time, it’s probably easier to renew and then break your lease. Then negotiate your relocation bonus to include your penalties. In my experience, it’s far easier to negotiate with your employer than a landlord in a renter unfriendly market.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      That’s assuming the job offers relocation. If it does, then the OP is in a great situation, because many companies will pay to break a lease as part of the relocation package. But if she has to relocate herself, the outlay can be exorbitant. Best to try work it out as much as she can before signing a new lease.

    2. Xarcady

      OP3 needs to find out about breaking a lease in her state. There may be a clause in the lease about penalties, but there may also be state regulations. A few state allow breaking a lease if the tenant is moving over a certain number of miles away, usually out of state. There may be other protections for a tenant. And in cases where the lease and the law differ, usually the law takes precedence over the lease.

      The OP should also find out if sub-letting is allowed, and what that entails.

      She needs all the facts before she makes decisions.

  8. Dynamic Beige

    OP#2 — at FirstJob they trained me to enter things into their books, including doing their invoices. Everything was reviewed after I did it so I couldn’t screw it up too badly. One of the things I remember being taught by that boss was when they pointed out the payment terms at the bottom of the invoice. They said that it was important to have that on all invoices in case you needed to take them to court, if you didn’t have payment terms on there the client could claim that they were going to pay it, they just hadn’t gotten around to it yet/there were no terms so they had a cash crunch and shelved it. I have told this information to several freelancers I know and they didn’t have it on their invoices. As for actually getting paid… well… as AAM points out, contractors fall behind employees. Your client isn’t legally obligated to follow your payment terms (think about your credit cards, do you pay off your balance every month, all the time?) and if they have some other system in place, they will use that and often not tell you. I had one major advertising firm tell me point blank that their policy is paying at 60 days, my invoice terms are 30. There’s no point railing against a client like that, but I have known freelancers who will start calling and asking for payment — and do it every day — until they are such a pest that the client pays just to get rid of them.

    So, I don’t know if this will work or not, but you might try upping your rate a little then offering a discount in percentage of the same amount. Because I’m bad at math, if your hourly rate is $50, if you up it to $55 then have a 10% discount on your invoice, your hourly rate will still be $50 and maybe your invoices will move through the system faster. FWIW, I had a client who moved their accounting to India 10 years ago and it wasn’t fun, loads of problems. It may make financial sense to a company’s bottom line to take such a measure but this kind of thing only hurts in the long run.

    1. OP

      Thanks for this.

      I think the main hurdle with the India move is that … OK, how do I explain this. The company I work for is a subsidiary of a larger company based in another state. So by contacting my direct contact, she already had to go up the chain of command to someone in another state to get an answer on anything payroll related because the finance department isn’t located at her office. Now we have to go State 1 -> State 2 -> India and back again whenever I have a question. It’s not efficient at all (from my end), but I understand that they’re cutting jobs left and right at the moment, so I guess this is a result of that.

      I think your answer is similar to another, and instead of discounting, I’m first going to try raising my rate to make up the difference. It’s a matter of fairness to me. If I have more experience than when I started, I shouldn’t be making less because they have changed their system. I’ll try to get used to the 60 days situation. It was just a little difficult at first because I was given no notification that it was changing (I only found out when I was inquiring about why a payment was a month late already). Now that I understand, I can equip myself to handle it better.

  9. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    #1 – OP — a little career advice, you can accept it (from an old geezer) or reject it BUT..

    a) getting a job while you have a job is much easier than being on the street and looking for one; especially if you have no experience.

    b) working at an internship – and quitting an offered job without another one in hand isn’t going to impress other prospective employers. Unless you’re independently wealthy – you could go from lower-income to no-income status. How does this sound to a boss = “I quit that job. They didn’t pay me enough.” ????

    c) if you don’t like the job offer and its salary – and this is a first job – the proper route would have been to accept it, express regrets that the pay is lower than you expected , but , you’ll go forward, hoping that salary situation improves in the future – and ask if a review in a short time frame – say four-six months, is in order.

    d) if you’re in an area where your skills and experience become very marketable, you’ll get the money. Someday. One way or another.

    Now – I do not know if there is a crazy loan situation here, or if earning x dollars knocks you out of some benefits. Those could be extenuating circumstances. BUT – you’re better off employed than unemployed.

    There are some exceptions to that – that would apply to higher-end, experienced people – but not if you’re right out of undergrad.

  10. TootsNYC

    Given how pushy this boss is, and that the OP has actually had an in-person conversation on the topic, I would absolutely say, “send an email that states what your plans are, clearly.”
    This is a pushy person, and it’s time to get out of the crosshairs.

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