attending an employee’s wedding, interns and gift-giving, and more

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

1. Attending an employee’s wedding

I see a lot of conversation on your site about whether or not you should invite your boss to your wedding, but I find myself in the opposite situation. My employee invited me to her wedding, which is coming up in a few months. What are the expectations around my attendance?

I manage her and one other employee, and she invited us both (plus guests). Our team has a really good dynamic — great communication, very productive. We get along great, but don’t socialize outside of the office. I try to respect their boundaries as much as possible in that respect. Am I expected to go? To not go? What’s your advice on how to handle?

I don’t think there are hard and fast rules here; rather, I’d decide based on the relationship and your best guess about what she’s hoping for. If your knowledge of her and the relationship says that it’s a genuine invitation that she’s hoping you’ll accept, and if you’d genuinely like to go, you can accept! On the other hand, if you think there’s a decent chance that she felt obligated to invite you (possible on a small team where she’s inviting the other person) and/or if you’d rather not attend, you can graciously bow out due to a conflict with the date (and get her a nice wedding gift).

2. Client is demanding that I work from his office

I’m a marketing consultant and I currently have a client who is demanding I work ONLY from his office. This was never discussed before he brought me in. I’m a 1099 contractor, and I was clear that I would work remotely (from home) and attend meetings as needed with advance notice. After one month, he is now asking me to only do work from his office, which is very unproductive. He is a huge distraction. He takes two hours to say what could have been explained in five minutes. He repeats himself a lot. Plus, I have a team that helps on certain tasks for me (e.g., coding and programing) and I can’t bring them with me!

I don’t know how to tell him I will not cater to his request without being harsh or incurring the wrath of the client.

“Xavier, you’ve asked me to work from your office a few times recently, so I wanted to make sure that you realize that I don’t do that. It’s like I explained when we started working together — as a consultant, I can attend occasional meetings, but the majority of the time, I work from my own workspace.”

Be direct and don’t sound annoyed, just pleasantly matter-of-fact. If he continues to push after this, you should hold firm in response, and at some point may need to say, “It sounds like you’re looking for more of an on-site employee than a contractor. Knowing that I work remotely, does it make sense to continue to work together?” (Of course, if you say this, you’d need to be prepared for the answer to be no!)

3. Should we ask our intern to be part of a gift to our boss?

I am in a small group of close-knit people, and our boss is moving on to a different position in another country. We have all decided on a gift for him, but a debate has started as to whether or not to include the intern in the gift giving process. Our intern has been with us for about six months, and we are split down the middle as to if we should approach him on this. He was included in our Christmas gift giving if that needs to be taken into consideration.

The principle here is to avoid making people feel pressured to spend money on a gift for a manager, especially when they make less money than you or the gift recipient. And it doesn’t matter how much you stress that he’s under no obligation to contribute; lots of people will feel obligated to contribute anyway.

So — don’t ask him for money toward the gift, but do ask him if he’d like to sign the card (assuming there’s an accompanying gift) and don’t do anything to distinguish between the gift-givers and the card-signers. (In other words, present the gift as from all of you, rather than the gift being from one group and the card being from another.) You could say it to him this way: “Hey, we’re giving Fergus this amazing rice sculpture that we found on Etsy. We’ve got the price of the gift covered, but would you like to sign the card and be part of the presentation when we unveil it for him?”

4. Should I lie to my boss about my commitment level?

I’m currently in a leadership position within a small, growing company where I report directly to the CEO/founder. Lately my boss has been talking to me a lot about elevating my role to a more executive level, and about my taking on some new and interesting initiatives which, frankly, are very much in line with my career history and vision for my own growth. It all sounds great, right? There’s one problem though. In these discussions about my future role, which are occurring almost daily at this point, my boss asks me where my heart is in terms of committing to the company and seeing his vision through into the next phase of our growth and beyond. While this is flattering, the reality is that I’m not happy at this company and have begun a job search. My experience with my company and my boss is that he makes lots of promises about change, but in reality he delivers on very little of what he promises.

I legitimately like my boss as a person and don’t want to lie to him, but what choice do I have? When he basically asks me point-blank if I’m committed to staying, am I wrong to tell him that I absolutely am, even though I know it’s not true? I have a family to support and am not in a position to lose this job or to walk away before I have something else lined up. So is lying really my best option here? I don’t feel great about it, but I can’t think of any viable alternatives.

This depends totally on what you know of your manager and how he’d handle hearing the truth. How has he handled other employees who resign or are job searching? Are people shown the door immediately? Pushed out earlier than they would have otherwise planned to leave? Or have people talked openly with him when they’re ready to leave and he’s been supportive of that? If he has a track record of being reasonable in this area, and you have a strong relationship with him, you might be able to tell him that you don’t think you’ll be there long-term. But if he doesn’t — or if you’re just not sure or have any doubts — it’s reasonable to act accordingly.

One possible middle ground, though, would be to say, “I want to pause our discussions about this for a while, to give myself some time to think over what you’ve suggested. If I commit, I want you to really be able to count on my word, and I want to ensure I have enough time to be thoughtful about making sure it’s the right path for me.” This may or may not work, depending on what he’s like, but it’s a reasonable thing to say.

5. Applying for two pretty different jobs at the same organization

I’m out of work, and my unemployment may be expiring in two weeks. So I’m desperate. Finding roles that I come close to qualifying for is a rare thing. (Quick background if it helps – was let go after a year and half in an accounting/admin position, and have been doing admin or customer service since I graduated with my BA in English.)

Through, I found a position that would be a long reach for me that I would love to get, writer for their online content/social media stuffs. Idealist lets you go back to the employer page and see their other positions. There I found an opening for a secretary that I my experience would make me look much better for, that I would be comfortable in and glad to have – again the desperation.

In situations like this, is it okay to apply to both positions and just go with whichever they call me in for, or would seeing that I am applying to the lesser position make me seem like I am not confident/qualified enough to do the more complicated/higher paying one?

Ideally you wouldn’t apply for two very different positions, because it can make you look scattered and like you’re just applying for anything you might be qualified for (which is sometimes the case, but employers generally don’t love that). In your case, because you’re feeling desperate, I’d apply for the one you’re a better match for over the long shot. They’re likely to have a lot of candidates for the content/social media job, so I’d focus on making yourself the absolute strongest candidate you can for the one where your professional experience is a better match.

{ 190 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    #3: I’m chafing a little at you giving the boss a gift…but that seems like an established thing already, especially since you guys are close-knit. Do you know if the intern is paid? If he’s unpaid, definitely not. He’s already paying to work there in some capacity, so I feel like it would be in poor taste to ask him to pay extra for the boss’ gift. If he’s paid, maybe? Just offer to the card for him to sign and he might throw in a few bucks for the gift if he’s comfortable.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, I’m opposed to gifts flowing upwards, as I’ve ranted about here before, but I also want to be realistic about the fact that some groups are just going to do it anyway, and as long as they’re not pressuring people to contribute, so be it … but I definitely want them not to hit up the intern for cash.

      1. BananaPants*

        I have no problem with gifts flowing upward for special occasions like retirement, going-away, wedding, and baby gifts as long as no one is pressured to contribute. I’m happy to chip in for those for coworkers regardless of their position relative to me!

        I would object strenuously to upward-flowing gifts for birthdays, Christmas, “Boss’ Day”, etc.

      2. Caroline*

        I understand where you are going with this. I had a manager who was invited to certain (paid for) events and not bring a gift. This person then denied one of the employees a promotion so that this person would be able to move between work sites more readily. Later, this same manager stated to an employee, “Don’t leave,” after the manager failed to follow through with getting this person a replacement whilst this person wanted leave and had given three months notice.

    2. MK*

      While I generally agree, reallistically there will be some workplaces and coworkers that it makes sense and people actually want to do it. In my field, it’s a sort of tradition for a person in my supervisor’s position to pick up the coffee tab for our bi-monthly meetings; they don’t really have to, but might be perceived as “cheap” by their peers if they don’t. So I don’t think it’s inappropriate for the team to get them a yearly gift; again it’s not obligatory, but considered a nice gesture. On the other hand, we are all well-paid (the supervisor more so, but not by some huge sum) and I generally have liked my supervisors; I would probably feel differently in the same
      situation with a supervisor I didn’t respect.

      Also, I think gifts in the workplace are a lot less objectionable if it’s a one-time occasion (weddings, retirement, etc) rather than something like birthdays or Christmas, when it can become a tradition and be difficult to get rid of.

      1. Knitting Cat Lady*


        Chipping in for a retirement gift, wedding gift, etc. is fine no matter who it goes to. In my opinion.

        As long as there is no requirement, of course.

        1. Granite*

          Exactly this. I try very hard to keep gift exchanges from developing, even with my peers, for annual events. But I am an enthusiastic contributor to wedding, baby, and going away gifts.

          Especially when the individual with the wedding or baby is on the low end of the salary structure. One of the things I love about the culture of my company is how the generosity towards coworkers on these occasions is inverse to the salary of the recipient. The baby shower for one of our admins was building wide and included furniture, hundreds of diapers, etc. The shower for a professional employee likely paid twice as much was limited to the wing and the gifts were much more modest. Events for anyone in management are strongly discouraged and limited to their immediate coworkers at most.

        2. Ann Hoogenhout*

          Whatever in the world is “This” supposed to mean, anyway. Here is my “This” experience. I worked as a legal secretary in a law office where one of the court calendar schedulers was engaged to be married to one of the attorneys in the office. One of her bridal showers was to be held in the office. It was “suggested” that we all contribute $50 EACH to her gift. To not do so would be looked upon as not being part of the team. The court calendar scheduler was having my boss, the senior partner, give her away at her wedding, to give you an idea of the office dynamics. But I was a single mother at the time and I truly did not have the extra $50. So, now it comes time for the party. We were all required to come to the library in our office, where the bride to be opened all of the very expensive gifts from the staff. While she was opening the gifts, the bookkeeper stood and read a list of names of the few people that did not contribute money towards the gifts. We were not even allowed to sign the card. To add insult to injury, none of the support staff was invited to the wedding. For those of us that did not contribute, within three months every one of us ended up getting fired. Just coincidence, surely.

      2. Murphy*

        Yeah, I’ve tried very hard to make sure my team don’t give me things (telling them that I was not having a work baby shower for example, because… ew). But when I got married, they all chipped in (including my boss and colleagues in different units within our branch) and got me a great bottle of wine. It was simple and not extravagant (maybe $40 all in, split between 20 people) and I really appreciated the gesture. At Christmas, one of my staff left a box with some homemade chocolates on my desk. Again, I don’t love the idea of her getting me anything, but… chocolate. I’m not turning down chocolates.

        1. Anna*

          And if she made the chocolate, I’m not sure it falls in to the same category as buying something. But generally I think you’re right. It’s okay in very specific and limited ways.

          1. Lucky*

            Yes, homemade food gifts do not count in the no-gifts-flowing-upward rule, in my mind, especially if it’s something you make for your whole team. Because I want people to share homemade food gifts with me.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Totally agree with your last sentence. And since this is a going away present, it’s similar to a retirement, plus he’s soon to be Not the boss.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          Yeah, I think that wasn’t a gift for the boss, but some other kind of celebration – because if that had been a gift for the boss and the intern had participated, I don’t think the OP would have written in about this situation.

  2. Jo*

    #4 – one way to look at this might be to consider whether you would accept and stay at your company *IF* your boss did come through with the career developments he is offering. If the answer is yes you would, you can with a clear conscience express your commitment and enthusiasm for the role he is talking about you developing into. If he does not deliver, you have not lied about your commitment – because you have not expressed deep commitment for your current situation.
    So something like “I would be extremely keen to stay with the organisation in X capacity. This is exactly what I would want for my career development, and I am passionate about working with you as *executive role* to make this happen” …or whatever suits your style/circumstances.

    1. Deb*

      Seconding this language! It’s a perfect way to be honest while not tipping off your boss to the possibility that you might leave. It sounds like OP really IS interested in sticking around, but only IF the career development comes through. So if you use this language, then you’re being completely honest – and if the career development doesn’t come through, you end up leaving, and your boss asks why you said you were committed before if you were planning on leaving, you can clearly point back to the language you used about wanting to stay in THAT capacity, the one that didn’t pan out.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes, ideally Op wouldn’t want to tip off the boss that they’re actively looking, but it’d be nice to sort of imply between the lines that he needs to make the promotion happen or he may lose him/her.

    2. OP #4*

      Thanks so much for your input. I would LOVE to be able to do something like this, but I can’t see it working in this environment and with this CEO. He’s very much a black-and-white guy with not much tolerance for gray. The conversations are literally us sitting in his office (it’s become an almost daily occurrence) talking about something else, then him telling me how excited he is for the future and then saying something to me like “I just want to make sure we’re aligned on this. Are you in this for the long haul or not?” I’m not sure that my hemming and hawing about “well, if” and “as long as” goes over well. Maybe I need to think of some other creative ways to say it though. It’s a very small team and an environment where anything other than “hell yes!” gets a side-eye. Thanks again for the advice – I have a lot to think about!

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        “Hell yes! I am excited for X to happen.”
        Would that work? If just for your own peace of mind – it’s not a lie, but the boss might not hear the “grey” in the enthusiasm.

      2. nofelix*

        “I just want to make sure we’re aligned on this. Are you in this for the long haul or not?”

        “Yes, this is exactly what I would want for my career development, and I am passionate about working with you as *executive role* to make this happen.”

        That should be clear enough. The important part to get across is “I am committed to making these changes with you”. He is presenting a plan which includes a part for you. Naturally if that part changes your commitment to the plan may change too. There’s really no need to get super explicit on how you’re not going to write him a blank cheque wrt your commitment. What you need to focus on is believing that if he does change the deal then moving on is okay professionally. You can prepare for that conversation.

        “Omg I counted on you! You said you’d stay here and now you’re betraying me wah wah! I can’t believe this.”

        “We developed a plan where I committed to acting as the CTO, and now that position doesn’t seem to be part of the plan any more. If the CTO position is available then of course I’d honour my commitment.”

        Once you’re happy with a version of this conversation then you’ll probably be less nervous about the intermediate steps.

        1. OP #4*

          Thanks nofelix. This is definitely helpful. And frankly I’m hoping to have this exact conversation soon about my leaving.

  3. Lou*

    #4 I never told my previous manager considering how she talked about people when they resigned and how she said they betrayed her by leaving and not giving her indication. I personally felt pressure to NOT tell her knowing this, so she created her own prophecies lol. It did not go over well and there’s still bad blood there, but I am glad I am out. As Allison says trust your instincts but only let him know if you know they will not make it difficult for you. My previous manager made it difficult either way. I just couldn’t handle the drama.

    1. OP #4*

      Drama is exactly what I’m worried about. The good news is that he keeps telling me he’s going to announce my promotion “soon” but it never happens, and I still haven’t seen anything in writing about the offer he verbally presented. In the meantime I’m hopefully a day or so away from hearing about another role that I’m really excited about. As long as nothing official happens with my current job before I get another offer and can resign, I’ll feel much less guilty about it. If I get the official changes here though, I’ll feel a lot worse about giving notice right after. I keep telling my CEO that it’s fine that he hasn’t gotten to making anything official yet – the longer it takes, the less guilty I’ll feel if I leave. And the difference from a real perspective isn’t going to be life-changing – pay-wise or otherwise. Thanks for the advice and for sharing your experience – it’s always good to know that others have been in this boat.

      1. Random Citizen*

        Are you planning/wanting to leave even if your boss’s proposed promotion goes through? Because if that’s the case, you can probably get by with less enthusiasm over future plans since you don’t actually want to be there for the long haul.

  4. nofelix*

    #1 – As someone organising a wedding now, any opportunity to lighten the guest list is a great help! Obviously I can’t say for sure how important it is for her boss to be at her wedding, but as you’ve said – you’ve kept professional boundaries until now – so presumably it’s something else. She may feel socially obligated because she sees you every day, she may want to show off what a success she is, it might just be out of respect.

    With most weddings the budgets are tight, venues have set capacity and you can never invite everyone you want. It’s possible if she’s having it outdoors or in a huge venue and serving a buffet so that numbers aren’t too much of an issue. Maybe you’ve heard what she’s planning and can get an idea of that.

    1. Devil's Avocado*

      While I do understand your perspective as someone who is in the trenches, it seems a bit cynical to ask OP to make the decision based on how it will cost the bride, or whether her attendance is going to prevent the groom’s second cousin Hermione from attending. I don’t think those things should be considered in the decision. I think it is more about the kind of relationship she has with her employee and whether she feels comfortable attending the event within that context.

      1. Kate M*

        Exactly. Plus, whether the boss comes or not wouldn’t really have an impact on who else the couple is inviting, because if invitations have gone out, that’s it. You aren’t supposed to have a second-string of invitees anyway to fill spots if someone bows out, so I would assume that if she invited you, she would be happy to have you there, and she probably prioritized you over other people.

        1. Kate M*

          And just saw below someone mentioned that the idea of a second-string/B list is a hot topic of debate on other sites apparently, so not trying to start a debate here; feel free to ignore that part.

          But I stick with the idea that someone probably isn’t going to invite you if they would rather not have you there. If it’s an intimate ceremony, they probably aren’t going to have space to invite their boss anyway (if you’re not close). If it’s big enough to invite bosses and coworkers, your presence probably won’t make a big impact either way on that day – she’ll probably be able to talk to everyone for a couple of minutes, and it will be a blur to her. So I say just decide what you want to do, RSVP within a considerate timeframe, and go from there.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, while most people have a tight budget, you never know, her parents or inlaws may be filthy rich and throwing them an extravagant affair.

      3. Anna*

        Yeah, those are the kinds of decisions that need to be made when you’re actually making the list of who to invite in the first place.

    2. Karowen*

      I would’ve taken it from the other POV – I couldn’t invite everyone I wanted to my wedding. So the fact that I invited my boss means I genuinely wanted him there. (I also explicitly gave him an out, though, so he wouldn’t feel obligated.)

      1. hermit crab*

        Yeah, that was my perspective! I commented below about inviting my manager to my wedding — this was not a large event, and my husband and I specifically made the decision to invite my manager, just like we decided about everyone else on the guest list.

        Regardless, an invitation is an invitation! It’s the guest’s responsibility to determine whether or not they will attend, not to second-guess the reasons why they were invited.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Precisely. I would not invite anyone whom I truly did not want to come, because they might come! Conversely, with most events there are going to be people who have last-minute issues and can’t attend. You can only plan so much for that.

    3. Meg Murry*

      While I agree with the theory that having , in some circumstances (like my sister’s recent wedding) there was a minimum number of guests that they had committed to paying for when they booked the room. Basically they said “we will be paying for at least 150 guests, and the room can hold no more than 250. The rate is $X per guest, with a minimum cost of $Y ($X * 150)” So if too many of her guests declined, thinking they were being polite in helping her trim the guest list, she would either have to invite people from a B list (which is debated endlessly as to whether it is rude or practical on other wedding sites, so that’s not go there) or pay for an unused seat.

      I would take any invitation at it’s face value – it’s an invitation but not a summons. If you would like to attend, attend. If you don’t want to or can’t, politely RSVP quickly and move on. Just don’t lie about it – don’t say you can’t because you have other plans, but then tell others that you aren’t actually doing anything that weekend, etc.

      That said, I don’t think you need to feel obligated to give up a whole Saturday for a coworker if you don’t want to. When one of my coworkers recently got married in a situation where there was a noon wedding and a 6 pm reception in an area more than an hour away from where most of us lived. Most of us that were invited went to either the ceremony or the reception, but not both (and were clear with that on the RSVP).

      Last, whatever you decide to do, let your other employee know what you have decided, but let her know that your decision should not influence her decision as to whether or not she will attend.

    4. government librarian*

      I don’t understand this argument – it’s your duty as an invitee to turn down a freely-given invitation to save the couple money? Where does this obligation end – immediate family? Wouldn’t you be hurt if a college friend said, “Oh, I haven’t seen you in two years, I’m going to save you the $120 plate.”

      I also have to say that I have little sympathy for someone who feels compelled to “show off their success” yet is not actually financially successful enough to pay for the guests they invited.

      1. LQ*

        It does seem very strange. If you want to save the money then don’t invite me or elope. I’m totally pro-eloping if that is what you want. Or even just don’t throw a wedding. I’m totally ok with that. But inviting me and then expecting me to decline to save you money or space is way to complex of a social interaction for me to handle. Just tell me what you want!

    5. Oryx*

      If the couple over invited per their budget and/or venue, that’s on them. Telling an invited person not to attend simply because it will “lighten the guest list” isn’t really the right attitude to take.

      1. Allison*

        I agree that that’s not a great attitude, but I’d look at it this way: weddings are expensive, and even if the couple didn’t over-invite, they’d rather spend their money on people who truly want to be there. If someone doesn’t really want to go and there’s no reason why they’d be obligated to attend, that’s one less person for the couple to worry about.

        1. LQ*

          Is this a “just send gifts we won’t have time to talk to you” thing? I really feel confused. I get that an invitation isn’t an obligation. But this feels like it is something else I can’t suss out.

        2. Oryx*

          Okay, but there’s no way to know that a person doesn’t want to go or can’t or whatever. So you plan your budget, your plan your guest list, you find a venue that fits both your budget and your guest list and send out invites and let the guests decide for themselves.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Totally, you said it. I can’t believe all this other crap/ social roulette that people get into regarding weddings these days. My god, it’s stressful enough without playing games about inviting x number of people, but secretly hoping only x number actually shows up. Makes it really gross to me and makes me think weddings are even more stupid than I already do (nothing against marriage, but weddings are a big waste of money IMO). Sorry, rant over.

    6. Erin*

      That’s a good point with the outdoors/serving a buffet thing. That might shed a bit of a different light.

      That being said, the single most expensive cost at a wedding is the food, and that cost comes directly from the number of people there. The best way to reduce costs on a wedding is in fact reducing the number of guests. (I was one of those brides who read 87 books on the topic and did not go into wedding planning blindly. :))

      OP, based on your letter, it sounds like it may be an obligation, which I’m only saying because of the small team there; you really can’t invite one and not the other. I 100% agree with Alison’s advice on gauging your relationship and instincts about her, and let that guide you, but from what I’m seeing at face value here I would lean towards declining and sending a lovely gift.

      1. Skippy*

        The food at my wedding was not the most expensive thing. I think it tied with the venue and the photographer. But then again, we had a bargain-basement wedding, so…

        1. Anna*

          The food at my wedding was the most expensive thing and that was intentional. The whole thing was incredibly inexpensive to the point of our table decorations being vases from my MIL’s church and the hydrangeas cut from neighbors’ bushes (it was really lovely and sweet). But no matter what I wanted my guests to have a really good meal. :)

      2. Artemesia*

        FWIW The cost of a buffet was significantly higher per person when we were planning a wedding a few years ago; the served sit down meal was significantly cheaper than the buffet options.

        1. Sunflower*

          Venues that have on-site catering like hotels that’s usually the way it is. Venues where you have to bring your own food/outside caterer it’s usually cheaper.

        2. Erin*

          True, sometimes it works out that way because you end up needing MORE food with a buffet, being unsure how much people will eat of certain items.

      3. blackcat*

        At my wedding, booze costs easily outstripped food for costs, but I think my friends just drank a lot…

        An invitation is an invitation–it means you are wanted, but it’s not a summons. Go if you want to go. Don’t if you don’t. I don’t think it’s worth reading into situations like this.

      4. Amy G. Golly*

        Here’s something I’m not understanding: if it wasn’t a sincere invitation (such that the polite thing to do would be to decline and save the bride money) why should the OP have to send a gift?

        1. 42*

          Same question here. I never ever understood that. Is this a societal expectation? Just because someone is tagged on a guest list and declines–particularly if there’s no close connection–that creates an expectation of a gift? Go for it if you want to, by all means…but is it expected?

        2. alice*

          This is such a fascinating thread. Weddings are the farthest thing from my mind, but I wondered this as well. Shouldn’t getting married be more about enjoying the party than a gift fest?

        3. BananaPants*

          I’ve received wedding and baby shower invites from cousins I’ve literally never even met – because we’re the “rich” cousins who live in New England, and they think there’s some sort of social obligation to send a gift anyways when declining an RSVP.

          Note: these invitations were literally photocopied, and were for potluck or BYO events held at parks and in backyards. Given that we live hundreds of miles away and we’ve never met these people, they were very clear gift grabs.

          1. Michelenyc*

            This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I grew up on the West Coast and now live in NYC. I get shower invites from cousins and friends that I have not seen in years. It drives me crazy. I have asked my mom not to give my address to anyone that asks specifically for this reason. I am sick of getting invited from people that clearly just want a gift. Rant over!

            1. Amy G. Golly*

              I think in that case, it depends on the “culture” of your family. I come from a huge family – with many aunts, uncles, and cousins, not to mention people who married/dated in – and the expectation is that if you’re having a major life event, you invite everyone. Period. Down to your first cousin once removed’s girlfriend! I could move to Antarctica, and my aunties would strap an invitation on to the nearest penguin.

              Thing is, I would never consider these invitations to not be “genuine”, even if I knew my family understood there was no way I could attend. They want me to know I wasn’t forgotten in the planning. And when planning my own events, no, I may not be super close to my cousin Fred’s boyfriend Ernest, but Fred’s mom used to be my mother’s favorite cousin, and making them all happy is part of being a part of my family! I need to budget accordingly.

              That said, not every family is the same, and I can certainly imagine a situation where an invite from a not-close cousin would seem strange. (And gift-grabby!) If I were invited to the wedding of a cousin I wasn’t particularly close to and I had a conflict or couldn’t afford to make it, I’d have no trouble declining. Nor would I expect that I should send a gift! (I often declined wedding invitations in my early 20s for the very reason that I just could not afford a gift plus whatever other expenses the wedding would incur.)

              OP: assume you were invited because your presence is desired. Also assume that your employee will understand if you can’t make it (or won’t feel comfortable attending) and decide to decline. Send her a gift if and only if that’s what you would like to do.

    7. Meredith*

      Another person planning a wedding, here (early days, though). I’m of the opinion that my invitations shouldn’t be viewed as obligations! I’ll invite people that I genuinely want to see that day, and it’s folly to invite people you secretly hope will decline. If you only have $X and Y space, those are your constraints, and you shouldn’t be sending out more invitations than that anyway.

      One thing that I HAVE learned very quickly is to not talk too much about the wedding planning stuff at work. It’s hard because it’s something that’s dominating my conversations at home, but I’m not going to invite most of my co-workers and it’s rude to talk a lot about a big party that nobody is invited to.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        …I’m not going to invite most of my co-workers and it’s rude to talk a lot about a big party that nobody is invited to.

        True, and also I think many brides who blather on about their weddings at work vastly underestimate how interested their coworkers are. Unless you’re BFFs with them, most people probably don’t really care that much. They might ask how things are going just to be polite, but they don’t want to know that the groomsmen’s cravats clash with the flowers and she is sooooo mad, or how many varieties of cake the couple tasted.

        1. Meredith*

          It’s so boring! I’m planning it and I think it’s boring! A bunch of folks regaled me with amusing anecdotes about their weddings or weddings they attended, which was a fun lunch conversation. But once I started hearing myself talk about hotel room blocks I had to tell myself to shut up already.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            LOL, watching TV shows with weddings made me decide that WHEN NOT IF I get married, I will have the tiniest, simplest thing I can manage. I don’t care about all that insane matchy-matchy stuff. All I want is a pretty dress, some flowers, and a nice yummy cake. That’s it. And of course, a fabulous groom. Kind of hard to do it without him!

      2. Ife*

        I completely agree. My future in-laws are insisting that it’s ok to rent a space with a capacity of X people, even though we have more than X + 20% on our guest list now. Yes, it’s *highly likely* that we’ll be under X people attending, but I refuse to base our budget or venue on that assumption. I do not want to put someone in the position of telling dear Aunt Bethany that actually, the fire code says you cannot enter the building, and we didn’t pay for your meal.

        You invite someone, you plan for them to come.

    8. Sunflower*

      I know people who have been on the flip side of this and invite everyone they can because they need to hit a minimum.

      ANYWAY none of this is really OP’s problem. As someone who also helped plan a wedding where the guest list was tight, I would take the invite at face value and don’t read too much into it. I think if it was an obligatory invitation, you might have picked up vibes from it- like the employee complaining about price, space issues, etc. Don’t think that’s happening here. At my sisters wedding, there were brawls over the list- at the end of the day some people got invited, some didn’t. Regardless the couple had a wonderful day. so you being there is not going to make or break her wedding day. Go if you want, don’t if you don’t.

    9. Wow....Just Wow*

      I’m in the middle of wedding planning now (getting married in a few months) and I’m not inviting any of my coworkers. For one, I’m having a very small wedding and my budget is very limited – I definitely cannot invite everyone I would like to, or it would be very expensive. Second, I’m full-time work at home, so it’s not like I interact with my coworkers on a daily and/or social basis anyway.

      For me personally, the venue and food have been the biggest expenses. The venue (we’re having both our ceremony and reception there) is fairly small, so that helps to keep the guest list from getting out of control. I’m having appetizers and cake (having an afternoon wedding, in between lunch and dinner) and it’s still very expensive. (Basically, we are hiring a caterer to slice our cake and clean up the mess.) We even got to pick our own caterer, and it’s still pricey, no matter how you slice it.

      I do disagree about the boss having to send a gift, even if she’s not attending. I believe she should only send a gift if she wants to, not out of obligation for receiving an invitation.

      1. Wow....Just Wow*

        I should also add that I never talk about my wedding during work, unless someone specifically asks about it. Even then, I keep my responses pretty short. I have mentioned a few times that we are having a very small wedding and that we couldn’t possibly invite everyone we would like to. And honestly, I would be shocked if my co-workers or manager did anything for me and I’m totally cool with them not acknowledging it with a gift.

    10. De*

      “any opportunity to lighten the guest list is a great help!”

      I don’t think this is universally true – I could invite everyone I wanted to my wedding. Lots of people didn’t come and it made me sad.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Same here. While we did have some budget constraints, we had some people that we inviting knowing it was highly unlikely they’d make the cross-country trip even though we would have loved to have them there. We would have loved to have 99% of our guest list there (every family has that one relative…). It made me sad that most of our friends declined (and in the moment it felt harsh to just get an email “Bob has declined” without any comment from our wedding website), but the only people I really do wish had declined were the ones who RSVP’d yes and then just didn’t show up or send any kind of explanation. Long story short, it’s generally a safe assumption that if you get an invitation you’re actually welcome to attend.

      2. Megs*

        I was happy with the size our wedding ended up at, but yeah, more people declined than I’d expected (including all but one of 14 maternal cousins and all 4 of my maternal aunts) and that was a bit of a bummer in the lead up. I would have loved to invite some of my bosses/coworkers but we’d decided not to because my partner didn’t want to invite his and we were initially worried about keeping numbers down.

    11. Mr Boss*

      As a boss, you’ve been invited, so you need to attend. But weddings come in two parts: the ceremony (the part in the church) and the reception (the expensive part in a hall where everyone eats and drinks). So accept, but only for the ceremony, as you’ve got some boring for some boring charity Mrs Boss supports that evening.

      At the ceremony I make sure to give the bride and groom best wishes; make sure to meet both sets of the parents and any grandparents, remembering to tell each of them how lucky Widget Corp is to have their daughter’s efforts, without them the whole place would sink under the waves. I usually don’t buy a present (too many staff , and WTF do 20yos want these days anyway, it’s certainly not a box of Splades) but discretely hand over to the bride an envelope with cash (typically $1000 of my own hard-earned, I appreciate other bosses might give less, but hey, they are getting married).

      If the bride is in a family way then I’ll mention to one of the bride’s parents our maternity/paternity leave and childcare arrangements and how very keen I am to have those used rather than ‘wasted’ — “a year goes quickly, except in the first year of a child’s life, so I’d rather they took a year to focus on the child”. A lot of opposition to using our benefits comes from the couple’s parents, so I make aware in person that Mr Boss doesn’t keep a list or apply penalties and that it’s my late daughter’s name above the gate of the childcare centre (next to a fucking cartoon monkey, but you can’t have everything, and she’d enjoy the ridiculousness of it).

      The best part of this arrangement is that there are no next-day photos from the reception with Mr Boss dancing with that nice girl from Floor 3 — all very innocent, as she asked — but which may look less than innocent when seen by Mrs Boss in her Facebook feed.

      The second-best part is that drunk people don’t corner you and tell you how to run your company.

      1. Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks*

        Personally, I don’t believe in “Partying with the boss/manger”. I’m not planning a wedding (but I am planning a birthday bash to celebrate my big 5-0.). I’ve decided to invite a couple of co-workers, but not my manager. I feel (and this is just my opinion) that when you party with the boss/manager, it somehow changes the dynamic of the boss/employee relationship.

  5. hbc*

    OP4: “My experience with my company and my boss is that he makes lots of promises about change, but in reality he delivers on very little of what he promises. I legitimately like my boss as a person and don’t want to lie to him….”

    I feel your pain so, so much. It’s really difficult to have an enthusiastic, likable person in front of you who fully believes he’s planning and doing all the right things, and you basically don’t trust him. I have managed to avoid lying by being very careful and turning the questions around. “I’ve generally enjoyed my work here and I like the kind of direction you’re talking about, but I’ll be honest–I’m worried about whether that will actually happen. Remember how X was supposed to happen? Y has supposedly been in the works for 3 years. So if we can really get to A, B, and C that you’re talking about now, I can see myself happy here for a long time.”

    I get a lot of defensiveness*, but at least we’ve turned the conversation around and I’ve made clear that my commitment has conditions. Lots and lots of “if”s and “generally”s and “best case”s.

    *My favorites so far have been “It’s been a rough three years” (how many years can you give yourself a pass on doing what you say?), and “Those examples are all in the past” (to which I responded, “Well, one of them is from last month, and I can’t exactly give examples from the future.”)

    1. Doriana Gray*

      I like your wording here. This is probably something I would say. You’re not lying and you’re expressing interest in the role, but with a caveat because other promises have not been kept. Depending on how this is said (tone matters, so make it non-hostile/accusatory, OP, just pleasantly factual), this could be a nice way to keep the dialogue open.

    2. F.*

      I am in a very similar situation. I have (privately) put it: I have had so much smoke blown up my skirts that I look like Marilyn Monroe on the steam grate!

    3. AnxiouslyAnon*

      +1 to feeling the pain

      My boss brought me in with lots of hope, and has spent the last two years “hoping” things will turn out better. Unfortunately, the hope for better directly impacts me, and much less him. So I’m sure his hope doesn’t cost him too much, while it’s left me hanging for 2 years and given me anxiety.

      1. OP #4*

        This! It’s been a constant talk about changing and evolving the business, and my role with it. But for the past 2 years that’s all it’s been – talk. We’ve made progress in some areas, but the fact is that the fundamental business model we have and probably won’t change (despite all talk to the contrary) doesn’t support the role I was brought in to fulfill and the one I want to evolve into.

        Thanks all for your comments and insight.

        1. AnxiouslyAnon*

          Wish I could offer more!

          At least my boss knows that with how management is, things aren’t going to change. And yet he still insists on trying to get me to hope.

          I hope (HA) things work out for you, OP!

    4. OP #4*

      Thanks hbc. This is exactly my life. I love your statement that “my commitment has conditions.” I’m going to put some thought into how to potentially raise that without adding too much drama or putting myself in a conversation where the temptation to “flip a table” will be a real struggle.

  6. hermit crab*

    #1 – When I got married last year, I invited my manager and our other team member (who’s on my manager’s level but doesn’t manage me). We all work very closely together and know a lot about each other’s lives, but we don’t spend time together outside of work or work-related events — so this sounds similar to OP #1’s situation. Anyway, my husband and I genuinely wanted them to come, because they are people who mean a lot to me! I was really glad that they were there to celebrate with us. So that’s my anec-data contribution. :)

  7. Megan*

    “Hey, we’re giving Fergus this amazing rice sculpture that we found on Etsy”

    Where do you come up with this stuff? I read this and did some looking just to see if this was even a thing, because it sounds like something I’d be really amused with and interested in.

    1. OfficePrincess*

      Alison used it recently thinking rice sculptures weren’t a thing and then people pointed out they really do exist. I have a hunch they’ll be the hot gift item for teapot makers everywhere!

      1. Meg Murry*

        yes, I imagine someone at Etsy is looking over their analytics and saying “Why have searches on rice scultpures gone through the roof in the past month? Is this a new trend?”

        I will admit, my first thought upon reading was “nooooo, don’t get anyone who is moving to another country a delicate present that could be broken in the move!” But then I remembered that it was just one of Alison’s go-to examples and my brain calmed down.

          1. Windchime*

            I actually saw some little plastic rice molds that are shaped like a panda. You put cooked rice in them and then you have a panda rice sculpture. That you can eat. Win-win.

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            Oh, I thought they were uncooked rice, glued with a rice glue, and made into large and fancy items, like a rice Taj Mahal that is 12 inches high.

          3. JessaB*

            Or like rice krispy treat things, a lot of bakers use those to make animals and things on cakes, then cover them with frosting or fondant.

        1. LSCO*

          See, I thought they were the teeny-tiny sculptures made from a single grain of rice carved into something else..

          1. Lily in NYC*

            Oh dear, I just google-imaged it and the first image that came up is a dildo made out of rice (I doubt it works, don’t try it at home you pervs!). But there are also some amazingly artistic (and family friendly) examples.

            1. Tara R.*

              I saw that and I was wondering if I was just dirty-minded and there was some kind of innocent solution! Glad it’s not just me lol.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            That’s what I thought because I’ve seen those before. I was thinking you’d have to have a special case for it, because if you gave it to someone without one and they opened the window, it might disappear!

    2. AFT123*

      Hey don’t google image search “rice sculptures” because there is a NSFW image of a rather phallic nature, LOL!

    3. justcourt*

      I did the exact same thing. I googled “rice sculpture,” and saw that they are a thing. Then I looked on Etsy, but I didn’t see any actual sculptures made of rice. A terrifying baby sculpture does come up if you search for “rice sculpture.” If you want to traumatize yourself and you have $150, here’s the link:

    4. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes, it’s Alison’s new thing and it makes me want rice pudding every time she brings it up.

  8. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    #4 You could say “I’m committed if you are.”

    I wonder how you might actually know how others are treated when/if they tell the boss they are job searching. Here people leave and give two weeks notice, but some also leave and we get an email “Sam Anderson is no longer with the company.” Did they get fired? Did they walk out? Did they tell their manager they were looking and were shown the door? No one knows, management isn’t going to say and anything that we do know is just rumor unless you keep in contact with him outside of work.

    1. Windchime*

      Around here, that email definitely means that they got fired. When a person gives notice, we usually get an email telling us how awesome they are, how they have contributed to the company, and how we wish them well and there will be cake in the break room.

      1. The Expendable Redshirt*

        Same here, or they had to leave the job during their probation period. We’ve had a lot of Office Staff leave recently during their probation period due to family situations. The email generally said ” Cyclops is no longer with the X-Men. Please direct any art class concerns to Wolverine.” If a long term employee is moving on to another role, the email is different. “Storm has been with us for many years, and the X-Men wish her the best. A going away party will be held in the conference room.”

    2. OP #4*

      It’s kind of the opposite – people don’t get walked out or let go when they give notice or hint at resigning – in fact they get insanely pressured to stay, and generally offered all kinds of incentives and unrealistic work situations if they’ll just not leave (yes, we do have a bit of a turnover issue.) So the pressure mounts, and in the end people leave anyway – mostly because of their relationships with our CEO who, as I said is a great guy. But he’s a terrible boss.

      I’m sure that if I tell him I’m thinking of leaving he’ll try to do whatever he can to retain me, but at the end of the day if I don’t have something else lined up it’s not going to work out forever. I don’t want to be in a position where I’m half-assing it because my mind isn’t here or I have 1 foot out the door, because that’s not fair to anyone. If I could, I’d just make a clean break and quit – I’m generally a pretty employable person. However with a new house, mortgage, and family to support I’d just as soon not start depleting my savings if I don’t have to.

      1. Chriama*

        Knowing that about your boss, you might want to consider saying “I really like this company and working with you. However, my career goals are A, B, and C. If you can implement X and Y to make this possible for me, I’m definitely committed to growing here long term.” And then give yourself a mental deadline by which point you’ll start looking for a new job. You’ve already noted that he doesn’t follow through on his promises and that the nature of the business is such that he might not ever be able to expand in the way you want. You let him know that these are your long-term goals and you’re willing to stay with this company *if* he makes it happen. The assumption is that if he doesn’t make it happen, you will leave. Give him a fair chance to make it happen, definitely talk timelines and what you can do to help things along, then if it’s been a while and no movement has occurred you can start job searching with a clear conscience.

  9. Barbara in Swampeast*

    #2 – I would mention that you also work for other people and need to work from your own place. I hope your work allows you to work for more than one client at a time so you are relying on this one client.

      1. #2 OP*

        Thanks Barbara!

        I do have other clients (Thank god!) because I’m seriously considering firing this client. My suspicion is the he wants to micromanage me or something along those lines. I recently found out he gets automatically BCC’ed on ALL emails from his employees!

        1. College Career Counselor*

          Control Freak! What work would this guy be able to do, other than read various emails all day along?

          1. Elle*

            Back in the 90s when faxes were being used extensively, the CEO of the company I was working for at the time, had the receptionist make copies of every single fax that came in.

                1. Sadsack*

                  I remember when we received our first “Nigerian prince” fax, we didn’t know what to do. Called IT and asked if we should call the authorities. They said no and then probably made fun of us forever since.

                2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

                  My uncle is an attorney who set up a consulting business to do legal research (his favorite part of practicing law). I don’t know if he still does it, but for a while there he created quite a revenue stream by suing the senders of unsolicited faxes (it’s illegal, you know). The companies would settle with him to avoid paying the higher fine, and he’d get 3-4 figure checks often. It was hilarious.

            1. Merry and Bright*

              We had to do that too because the fax ink faded quite quickly so the photocopies were put away in the paper files.

              The worst job was feeding through a new roll (before “modern” sheet paper fax machines came in!) of fax paper. Sigh.

              1. Lyric*

                HA, I had actually forgotten about those old fax paper rolls…I think my brain had repressed the memory of dealing with those like a traumatic event. -_-

          2. #2 OP*

            I thought the same thing! Then I wonder why he doesn’t respond to my emails.. EVER! I guess they are buried.

        2. madge*

          OP, depending on your state (I’m in Missouri), your client can’t have control over where you do your work and he can’t micromanage you. That changes your status as independent contractor to employee. He could be looking at fines plus back pay to the state for unemployment taxes. Check your local labor laws and maybe that’ll make him back off.

          1. Liana*

            That’s actually federal law, not state law, so it should apply to wherever the OP is working. The IRS website lays out the difference between contractors and employees, and you’re right: one of the criteria is whether the client controls where you work. If a requirement of the job is that the OP works out of the client’s office, that’s a sign that her client wants to treat her as an employee, not a contractor.

          2. Isben Takes Tea*

            I came here to say this. It’s one of the main factors used to determine employment status, so you could use one of Alison’s scripts about how you’re concerned out would be bad for *his company* if you were to do this.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Seconded. That was the first thing I thought of when I read the letter–if the client requires OP to be physically on the premises to do the work, she’s no longer a contractor.

              1. #2 OP*

                He tried to offer me a job but i said no, that i like the flexibility of being a consultant. I think he is confusing contracted construction workers with contracting a consultant.

        3. Artemesia*

          I’d be calm and firm about where you work as it is good practice at boundary tending; if you are entertaining firing him then that makes being relaxed and firm about this easier. If it were your key client and you will have to eat the rice sculptures if he fires you it is harder, but then your plan would be to pursue other clients until that is not the case. I liked Alison’s wording here. No excuses just ‘I don’t do that’ yadda yadda.

        4. Mephyle*

          Yes, it sounds like he genuinely doesn’t understand the difference between an employee and a provider in terms of how he can or can’t dictate your working conditions. And educating him on that point isn’t one of the things you’re being paid for. I mean, you can tell him, but you aren’t obliged to keep at it until he says, “Yes, I see that I was wrong,” if that is next to impossible.

        5. Chriama*

          Here’s the thing: you have the power to fire this client. This means you shouldn’t be worried about incurring his wrath. If he wants to throw a temper tantrum you don’t need to engage. Just let him know: “I’m a contractor, this is the working arrangement we agreed to. If you’d like someone who works from your office maybe you should look at hiring an employee. Let me know if you’d like to continue this contract or not.” These days I’m trying to reclaim that authority for myself too. It’s a tricky lesson to learn, and much easier if you’re not financially dependent on a single client, but it’s definitely worth it for your own sanity and also because once you say no to lousy clients and attract better ones it helps you keep attracting better ones.

        6. Miles*

          I hope your contract requires this client to pay up for work completed if the relationship has to end early. It always sucks to find out work you’ve done for pay suddenly “doesn’t count.”

          1. #2 OP*

            The terms are pay up-front for the contracted time and then any excess at the end of the billing month. However, I’m making a point of not going over the hours this month cause I’m now trying to write a letter for “firing” him as Plan B if things don’t change by EOM.

    1. Graciosa*

      I think this client does not understand the difference between an employee and a contractor or consultant. The latter manage their own work and deliver a product. The former may be required to show up and sit in the office doing whatever they are told in exactly the way they are told to do it.

      OP, if he wants you to show up and sit there so he can supervise your work, he is definitely treating you like an employee. I would be tempted to point out that turning the relationship into an employment one would have significant costs (benefits!), but I wouldn’t want to risk that someone managing this badly might not think it was totally worth it to be able to *control* your every move. If there are ways you can make the point without making it sound like you’re open to employment offers, that might work.

      Maybe, “I’m not sure if you realize that this would change the nature of our relationship and make it much more like an employment relationship than that of a company engaging a consultant. Doing that would have some very significant costs and tax implications which you may not realize, although frankly it’s not something I am open to doing. I am very happy as a management consultant working with multiple clients, and that is the work I would like to continue doing.”

      I’m really glad to hear that you’re in a position to fire him. The bcc thing is a terrible sign.

      1. Mephyle*

        Anyway, aside from the cost and tax implications, OP wouldn’t want to limit their availability to other clients. Mentioning that might or might not help, depending on how attached the client is to the idea that OP works for him and how able he is to let go of it if that is pointed out to him.

    2. JessaB*

      I’d also be worried that forcing the OP to work on site and taking up all that time could blur the lines between contractor and employee, opening up that boss to a lot of expenses – taxes, unemployment tax, overtime, etc. If that boss is significantly trying to define how and where the work is done (and the job doesn’t require that – contractor that consults on an assembly line or something,) that’s kind of right there turning a contractor into an employee. A 1099 contractor is supposed to mostly govern their own work.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      +10 I am making vegetable risotto for my meal tonight. The sculpture thing will make me smile…

  10. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-If you want to attend because you want to celebrate this event with your direct report then go. If your schedule means you can’t go or you don’t like weddings or you don’t want to start a “thing”, don’t go. I will tell you that I invited my boss(es) to my wedding because I liked them as people. They had helped me to grow professionally. We didn’t socialize outside of work because they were significantly older than me but we still cared about each other. I got a college wide (it was a small-ish college) bridal shower. Even the dean showed up! He was so awkwardly funny about it. I wouldn’t over think this.

  11. Not Karen*

    #2 My guess is that he’s insisting you work from his office BECAUSE “he takes two hours to say what could have been explained in five minutes.” In my experience it is the people who cannot communicate concisely via e-mail or phone who insist on meeting in person. If they could communicate concisely, they would just send an e-mail.

    1. #2 OP*

      I think it’s more of he wants to make sure that the hours I say I’m spending on his work are actually true.

      1. LQ*

        I think you have a case to make of making sure that your taxes and business set ups are correct. If he is treating you like an employee you may be obliged to a different set of taxes and such and you can push back with some of those things. This is the law, I need to follow the law. You making me work from your office would force me to break the law. Not ok.

        1. OwnedByTheCat*

          I work with a consultant who comes into our office two days a week – regularly. We think of her as staff but she’s clear that she’s a consultant and those are her hours. I think a consultant *can* come into the office. The odd thing here is that the client is making unrealistic demands by trying to dictate where and how the OP works.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes — there aren’t hard and fast rules on this, which makes it tricky. It’s about the overall picture, not just whether they do or don’t meet one requirement. The IRS says:

            “Facts that provide evidence of the degree of control and independence fall into three categories:
            Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
            Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
            Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (i.e. pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

            Businesses must weigh all these factors when determining whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor. Some factors may indicate that the worker is an employee, while other factors indicate that the worker is an independent contractor. There is no “magic” or set number of factors that “makes” the worker an employee or an independent contractor, and no one factor stands alone in making this determination. Also, factors which are relevant in one situation may not be relevant in another.

            The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination.”

            More here:

      2. OwnedByTheCat*

        I think it’s more of he wants to make sure that the hours I say I’m spending on his work are actually true.

        his problem, not yours!

          1. #2 OP*

            Agreed! He should’ve hired an employee but i’m sure he doesn’t want to pay for the experience because he is a cheap **blip**.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Yes, I suspect this is because he can’t communicate well that he wants the consultant in his office. Would you be willing to compromise by setting a standing meeting with him every so often (once a week, every other week – etc, whatever works for you) understanding that it wouldn’t necessarily be a very productive time in terms of getting things done, but rather just seeing it as a communications meeting and a way of keeping the customer happy in his preferred communication style?

      Is is silly that you would be charging the customer an extra X hours to listen to him ramble? Yes. But if he wants to pay you for Z hours of work per month that you can do from home plus X hours where you go in and talk about what he wants (and I would say you are legit in charging him for X hours plus the time it takes you to travel to his office if it isn’t nearby since that is time you could otherwise be working for him or someone else) to keep him happy as a customer, that might be what it takes. Or maybe he wants you at his office at set times so other employees can schedule times to talk to you about their parts in the project as well.

      But yes, you are totally in the right to put your foot down and say “no, I am not doing all my work for your account only in your office, that is not part of the deal and not going to work for this arrangement.” Is he afraid you will be inflating your billing if he doesn’t see you working? Or is he just a micromanager? Neither of those are going to work for a 1099 contractor situation. Standing regular meetings might be a fair compromise, or maybe even some kind of “I’ll work from your office every Tuesday morning” if you are willing to do that, but otherwise put your foot down. Or if you can’t afford to put your foot down now, keep your eye out for more clients and then fire this one as soon as you can afford to.

      1. Graciosa*

        I’m in the No, No, NO camp on ANY offers to work in his office under his supervision. Every Tuesday morning will turn into more – if the OP gives on this one, she will never be able to rein him back in.

        There needs to be a hard line distinguishing coming into the office for necessary meetings from performing work in the office under his supervision. The former is fine, but the latter is a problem.

        It’s not just that there really are tax distinctions at issue here (although there really are), the problem is that if you agree to do this “a little” you give up the opportunity to make a principled black and white argument about the issue. From that point on, you have to try to explain why working in the office four hours a week is okay but six or eight hours is not. This client is *never* going to understand or accept that.

        If the OP agrees to work in the office, she will find herself working *only* in the office if she wants to get paid for the time. This is not a path she can start down if she ever wants to turn back.

        1. Hermione*

          …the problem is that if you agree to do this “a little” you give up the opportunity to make a principled black and white argument about the issue.

          This this this this this.

          I would be very firm with him that this is a non-negotiable no, using Alison’s wording, and making sure to reference that this is (hopefully?) all spelled out in the contract you signed.

          I’m not a lawyer, but isn’t one significant part of the determinations of whether a person is a contractor or employee is the behavioral control – does the company control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job? Perhaps a brief statement about “us” (emphasizing the collective) not wanting to run afoul of employment classification laws could strengthen your “hell to the no” case with him.

    3. alice*

      #2 is so close to my situation, except I actually work for another company. A client I have is insistent I work out of his office, and I think a huge reason is because he is a terrible communicator. He no-shows to phone meetings, takes days to respond to emails, etc. My being directly in his office would allow him to continue his crappy communication style.

      OP, you just need to be firm. When my client first asked me to move to his office, I actually laughed because the request was so ridiculous. I’m not suggesting to laugh in his face, but letting him know how out of touch his request is might snap some sense into him. Several curt emails later, he’s finally stopped bringing up the subject.

  12. Bwmn*

    #5 – I work for an organization that uses Idealist a lot, and the reality is that whenever we post Communications/Social Media type jobs – there are loads of applicants. Maybe it’s more common in the nonprofit world, maybe not – but there were just lots of resumes that relied on “I’ve had to write in previous positions”. Regardless of what that writing was.

    To be perfectly honest, during the last round there were so many that those who didn’t actually meet the year of experience listed – they were quickly discarded without much review. This isn’t to say that our (or another) HR office wouldn’t notice someone applying to two positions but the reality is that the competition for those jobs appears to be incredibly high. .

    As AAM said, the risk of applying to both and being noticed is enough of a risk that if you’re desperate – I would caution against applying to both or the one you don’t think you’re as qualified for.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes, my concern with you applying to both is that you are sending the message “I really want the writing position and I’ll settle for the secretary position.” Which may be true, in your case, but since unless you have a portfolio of work to show for the writing position would probably torpedo your chances. Because most companies don’t want to hire a person for an admin position (or any position, really) that doesn’t want to be there and already has one foot out the door.

      The fact that you have admin experience makes you more qualified for the secretary position, so I would apply for that one, personally. Also, are both positions full time employee positions? It seems like more and more companies are hiring writing positions as freelance/contractor positions rather than as full time employee positions.

      If you want a writing position as a goal, have you pursued any kind of freelance writing during this period of unemployment to build up your portfolio? Or even just done some writing for a personal blog?

      1. Bwmn*

        The fear of the secretary post coming off as second choice I think would be a huge concern for Idealist jobs. Most (though not all) are with nonprofits, and it’s understandable that young people who want nonprofit experience are looking for in’s to start their careers and move up. However, as totally understandable and common as it is – a lot of nonprofits also need great admin people and there can be frustrations with young, bright applicants who plan on keeping the job for a year or less before looking to leap somewhere else in the organization.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      So true that A LOT of people are going for the social media positions these days. At our company wide meeting last year, they mentioned the most resumes they ever received was for when we finally posted for a social media specialist. (And sadly, we went through three that didn’t last, but that’s because the whole concept escaped our aging President, and we now don’t have one at all, but I digress,)

    1. Meg Murry*

      Rice sculptures of chocolate teapots and caramel kettles! Or ones that say “nooooooo, don’t do that!” or “your manager sucks and isn’t going to change”. Or maybe just a figurine of the megaphone holding Alison from the banner. You have a built in customer base right here :-)

        1. Meg Murry*

          Ooh, does Alison have any kind of “10 Rules for XYZ” that would be appropriate to make artwork out of to display in my office? Needlepoint, screen print or otherwise?

          There’s your next spin-off into merchandise Alison – some kind of work appropriate posters that are better than the motivational posters?

          Which reminds me, I’ve had it on my mind to get a Chocolate Teapots, Ltd mug for a while – I should get on that :-)

    2. Macedon*

      Rice krispies sculptures were at one point trending as the “foundation” for elaborate cake confections.

      So, I think you might be a little past the market’s prime, I’m afraid !

  13. Erin*

    #5 – Definitely go for the gold and apply for the one you really want.

    I have a friend who applied for a job she knew was a reach for her, but went for it anyway. They called her and basically said, “Yeah, so we definitely can’t hire you for that position…but we have another one we think would be perfect for you.” And she was hired, for the other, more suitable position.

    That could happen, OR you might actually get the one you’d prefer.

    I do think it would seem strange to apply to both, and would sort of highlight the fact that you are actually desperate and will take anything.

    Also! In your cover letter, play up how much you’d like to work for this specific company. That might make them think, “Oh, she really has a lot of enthusiasm for our organization, so maybe she’d be willing to interview for the secretarial job if she really wants to work for us…”

    1. Deb*

      I also struggled with the answer to OP #5 because generally my advice to people is to apply for the reach position. As I’ve read on this blog before, the list of job qualifications is often a reach itself, with hiring managers willing to be flexible on some of the items if candidates balance out those “deficiencies” with other skills or qualifications.

      I think it’s hard to make a call on which job to apply for without some more information. Two main questions on my end:

      – Just HOW desperate are you for a job? As in, I’m having trouble paying my bills and if I don’t find a reliable source of income quickly, I risk being homeless or going into debt? Or is it more like, unemployment is driving me crazy and I want to get back to work? If it’s the former, then definitely apply for the job you feel you have a better shot at (if you’re going to choose one or the other).

      – Do you have any contacts at this organization? Networking helps in every job search, especially when you’re going for a reach position because it gives you a chance to make your case to an actual person (instead of an application system) for why you would succeed in what appears to be a reach position for you.

      1. Erin*

        I agree with you. After reading your and Alison’s and MK’s comments I’ll tone down my “go for the gold!” enthusiasm.

        Upon reflection, OP: As they mentioned, if you have a contact at the organization, or are specially qualified in a unique way, and additionally you’re not in so bad of a position where you’re worried about paying bills THEN I think it would be worth taking the risk.

        Although it worked out for my friend in being offered the secondary position instead, it was not a writing-related industry, so I can see how things might work differently here.

        In any case, pick ONE of them and apply. :) Good luck!

      2. Ken*

        Hey all
        Thank you for the input. I sent in #5

        Both positions are full-time and I would say by April (if my unemployment stops) paying my bills would be a problem. I don’t know anyone at this place so it would just be me blindly shooting off my application with hope.

        I’ll apply to the one more in my field and do the same for all companies with multiple postings on the site

      3. INFJ*

        Yes, I was also conflicted. My gut reaction is, “go for the one you really want!” But when you need to pay the bills, it’s best to apply what you’re most qualified for. Also, as a fellow English BA holder, I can relate to the difficulty of trying to find positions that you want and are also qualified for (on paper).

        1. Erin*

          Also a fellow English major. :P

          Ken, I picked up some freelance writing while wirking an admin job by making a connection to a local blogger, commenting frequently on her blog. She saw I was a writer and took a shot on me. Just throwing that out there. :)

    2. MK*

      “That could happen, OR you might actually get the one you’d prefer.”

      OR you will just be rejected for the job that is a reach and that will be the end of that. Which really is much more likely. Yes, there is a possibility the OP will get the better job, but she says it’s a “long reach”, so it’s not terribly likely. And I don’t think many companies would bother to pitch an admin position (for which they probably have many qualified candidates) to somone applying to be a writer. To begin with, the person handling the applications for one job might well not be even aware that there another opening; then, it’s doubtful that they will think of mentioning the other position, or they might hesitate to do so, because some would find it insulting.

      The OP should consider carefully a) how much of a reach the job she wants is and b) if she is willing to risk the opportunity to be employed at all by going after it. Tough decision.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, that’s where I come down on it. Writing positions get a lot of applications. I once got something like 600 applications for a single writing position. If it’s a stretch, it’s probably already a no, unfortunately (unless there’s something that makes you unusually qualified in non-traditional ways, like a background in the esoteric topic the job will be writing about).

  14. Mena*

    1. It depends on your relationship with the employee. Do you socialize outside of the office? This is what I used as a decision point when inviting people to my wedding – I invited those with whom I socialized privately (drinks after work, social activities outside of office time, visiting each others’ homes, acquainted with their SO). I did not invite my then boss of 10 months (who I now consider a good friend).

    Similarly, one of my direct reports got married and did not invite me to the wedding – which was fine by me. She’s been working for me for 6 months and our relationship is confined to the office. We are friendly, but not friends. Had she invited me, I would have declined and sent a gift.

    1. MK*

      I don’t think that’s a safe marker in this case, because the person getting married already decided to invite the OP, which should indicate that she considers them close enough to merit an invitation. I think people tend to speak judging by their own feelings, but you don’t know this particular couple’s situation (my cousin, for example, had a huge wedding with 800 guests; he said that since he was glad to welcome second cousins that he hadn’t seen in years, he would like the people he worked with every day there).

  15. Employment Lawyer*

    2. Client is demanding that I work from his office
    If you don’t want to do it because you hate it, use AAM’s advice.

    If you don’t want to do it because you make less money, then you may as well be blunt and give the client the opportunity: “When I bid on your contract, I assumed I would be working from my office, at my normal rate of efficiency. Although it may help you out, I am less efficient at your office due to the lengthy commute, lack of support staff, and ___. As a result I am losing money. I’ll need to return to my normal working space, or will need to raise your rate to ______.”

    After all: If it’s worth $XX to the client to have you on site and if you’d agree to do it for less than $XX, you will both benefit from a change..

  16. Msquared*

    #2 reminds me of a situation at my last workplace: he had a Director of PR and Marketing who left for another job, and our executive director decided to fill the position with a PR and Marketing firm, made up of two people. These people were asked to work out of our offices (although they were free to come and go as they pleased, as long as work was getting done) and attend staff meetings, were given organizational email addresses and phone lines that connected to our building, and the team lead was given the title of Director of PR and Marketing. Plus, they were asked to take on some non-PR and marketing items that the rest of us staff were required to do, like covering lunch breaks for hourly staff.

    That whole situation made me really nervous, because if they or someone else caught on to the fact that we were treating them like employees we would suddenly be on the hook for a bunch of taxes and benefits.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If he hired the firm, not the individual people (i.e., they weren’t 1099 contractors), that might have been perfectly legal — similar to hiring temps, where you pay the temp firm. The issue would be if they were getting paid as 1099s.

  17. Just me*

    Ugh, #4. At my last job I gave (more than) 2 weeks notice, started to plan to cover my tasks – my boss got mad I was leaving, ignored me for 2 days, then told me to get out. Logged me out of my computer and changed the locks. When I had resigned voluntarily. Thank God I had the new job lined up. Don’t tell him anything! Pretend all is fine. You don’t owe him anything.

  18. Vicki*

    #3. Should we ask our intern to be part of a gift to our boss?

    Did anyone else get a giggle from the phrasing here?

    Fergus – we found this amazing rice sculpture on etsy and we’ve included Asok as part of the gift!

  19. VX34*

    RE: #4

    “Hell yeah, boss! I love the idea being outlined for me to take on X Y Z in a more executive style role. I would be happy to commit to working on those goals and growing into a role that sounds like it will not only fit with your vision, but help me grow my career too”.

    If you feel they don’t end up delivering on that, and/or another company offers you a better chance to do X Y Z in a more executive role…well, I mean, if your company felt that you weren’t fitting their role(s) or needs any more, they wouldn’t let their “commitment” to you stop them from moving on if they felt it was right for business, would they?

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