update: can we delay payroll if someone isn’t turning in their hours on time?

Remember the letter-writer working as an office manager for a small company and wondering how to handle payroll if someone didn’t submit their hours on time (#5 at the link)? Here’s the update.

The payroll issue was just one of a larger string of issues that made the entire job pretty intolerable. I should have know to run when at the interview the boss basically told me that if I didn’t accept the offer then and there that he would have to move on to another candidate because he needed someone to start ASAP, but the hours and pay were really great for our local area and my personal situation (just back to work after having a baby), so I thought I would give it a shot.

Overall, the whole thing was a disaster. On my first day, the boss spent all of five minutes with me, barely showing me anything and then just assumed I could basically run his business for him with no real training. He was never in the office and would tell me to call him if I needed help or had questions, but then yelled every time I called and told me I was annoying him too often. Then he would call demanding to know the status of each job being worked that day, how much money we had made each day, etc. The other employees were just as bad, refusing to answer calls with status of the jobs they were working on, if they showed up at all, so I could never give the boss the info he wanted and then I would get yelled at for not being able to control them. In the short time I was there,  five people were hired and either quit or were let go.

On top of his constant shouting, cursing, and overall horrible communication and unethical business practices, he also made general racist statements about employees using derogatory language, but then making statements like, “but I grew up with black friends so I’m not racist but they all…. ” that just made me crazy.

So long story short, I was only there for a month when I had had enough and just quit. Not the most professional thing to do, but I just could not deal with being shouted at and held accountable for a revolving group of handymen who had no respect for me. Not with a new baby at home, it was not worth the money and good schedule.

I have now been working from home for a great online company that actually values employees and provides a professional work environment. And I get to do it in my slippers while my kid is home with me. So everything worked out and I now have a pretty crazy story, which sadly is not the worst work environment I have been in.

{ 35 comments… read them below }

    1. Clever Name*

      Yeah, I’m wondering that too. We’ve gone through that at my small company too. People weren’t turning in their time sheets on time, causing huge problems. I’m not sure how we resolved it. We actually have managers now, so hopefully people not turning in their stuff will get resolved more directly.

    2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

      She was only there a month, the payroll issue was probably never resolved before she left.

      1. Calimama*

        OP here. You are correct. I didn’t stick around long enough to really figure things out. I gave them my hours and got my final check in time and that was that.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It’s an update about what happened to the letter-writer, which is what I asked people to submit.

        Honestly, y’all, where is the incentive for people to send in updates if they’re going to get told it’s not good enough? (Not picking on you here, Analyst329, but I’ve seen a bunch of comments like this recently.)

  1. Biff*

    You know…. sometimes I feel the vast majority of the letters here could be solved by telling the OP “Be a boss and make some rules” or “Be mature and lighten up the rules.” That balance seems kind of obvious to me, but it is so often off kilter!

    1. F.*

      A lot of the time, it’s a matter of the rules already existing, but the managers don’t have the cajones of a flea and don’t enforce them. Been there, doing that, have the grey hair to prove it.

    2. GeekChic*

      Well, for this one, it sounds like this OP didn’t enough information to figure out which rules were necessary, and didn’t have much reason stick around and figure it out in an abusive environment:

      “On my first day, the boss spent all of five minutes with me, barely showing me anything and then just assumed I could basically run his business for him with no real training. He was never in the office and would tell me to call him if I needed help or had questions, but then yelled every time I called and told me I was annoying him too often.”

      With a new baby and boss who swore me and spouted racist stuff at work, I don’t think I’d have stayed either!

    3. pope suburban*

      The problem is that a lot of OPs don’t have the clout to make the changes they need. Often, the real question is finding a way to approach a dysfunctional manager, coworker, or HR team in a way that is more likely to get results. I suspect that a lot of people who write in *did* try speaking up, and it failed. Now they’re here for some more advanced strategies, from someone who has a broader and deeper background in workplace issues.

    4. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      Except, none of these people have bosses who would react well to that.

      Even a good boss would be taken a back by an employee saying, “be a boss, make some rules.”

      1. AnonForThis*

        Right! Sometimes I wonder what people think the letter writers can actually do to make change outside of the advice that Alison gives. Updates come in where they actually did what AAM suggested and nothing changed and so they had to leave. I mean, how much can I do at my job to change things for the better? What can any of us do?

      2. pope suburban*

        Right? Something about how you phrased this made me mentally picture myself going to my boss and telling him, “Be a boss! Put on your big-kid pants!” And then I had a really therapeutic chuckle, because his reaction would be hilarious…up until the point he fired me. I’ve talked to him a lot about issues (Big issues; my company runs a lot like this OP’s, and many people have tried to address this with the boss and/or with the guilty parties) and tried to implement what small changes I could, but the problem is his lack of management. There’s nothing more I can do about that. So, yes, “be a boss” is the solution, but until he learns to see that he has a problem (or two…or fifty), it’s beside the point.

  2. Jake*

    If you have to start a sentence saying, “I’m not racist, but…” then you are about to saying something racist.

    Also, as an aside, Alison, the Watch4 videos in the side panel are making my browser super laggy. Chrome Windows 10. I assume it is them because the problem didn’t start until I scrolled to the point they are on the screen.

    1. Bob*

      So true. As long as the pay is at least acceptable, employees will often stay put primarily for the work environment. I could make a little more elsewhere but I’m not willing to roll the dice with losing my current environment. For example, I told my manager this morning I’m leaving at 3:30 to go the dentist. I didn’t ask him; I told him and knew he would be cool with it. I don’t need to give him advance notice or even burn any PTO hours as long as the appointment is near the end of the day. In his opinion, this is part of being salaried and balances out with the times I occasionally work at night and on weekends. It is things like this that cost the company nothing and make employees happy.

  3. Calimama*

    OP here. Thanks for the well wishes. New job is going well, and sorry, not hiring at the moment.

    This was a really small company. Less than 5 employees today a it was hard to push the owner to do much and not feel the shouty heat. I really think his expectations were just off kilter. You can’t hire someone and expect them to basically run your business for you if you don’t want to invest the time to actually tell them what you want and h

    1. The Expendable Redshirt*

      Oh boy. I wouldn’t have stuck around either! Congratulations on finding a much better job.

  4. AnonForThis*

    Yeah, it sounds like the hiring process was everything Alison always notes as a red flag:

    1. Push to hire someone quickly.
    2. Push to get a candidate to commit quickly “Say yes now, or this offer is gone in an hour!”
    3. Few details on pay, benefits and other key attributes for the position, but pushing a candidate to accept the offer anyway.

    I know people need to work to eat and keep a roof over their heads…But AAM is trying to save people from miserable situations. The OP did not want to quit a job after one month. I’m glad she found something better. This company and the racist manager sounds like a mess.

  5. Bob*

    For an owner, a solid right-hand person is worth their weight in gold. I can’t believe any owner would basically turn their company over to a brand new person with no knowledge of the business. I would want to spend at least a few months working side by side with anyone I would let manage my business.

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