my boss constantly complains about how much he pays me

A reader writes:

I work for a very small company with three full-time employees and my boss, who is the owner. My coworkers and I (who are all in our first professional jobs out of college) make reasonable salaries for the area, but receive no other benefits. One of my coworkers and I started around the same time and recently received raises at our two year anniversaries. These raises are standard and were outlined to us when we first started. Because the company rarely has had employees stay this long, the overhead of our salaries is higher than my boss has experienced before.

Here’s the problem: He complains CONSTANTLY about how much we cost him. He’ll remind us in emails or in person at least a few times a week how high overhead is. My coworker recently used several of her PTO days and he basically yelled at her that she should have used them before she received the raise. He recently emailed us both letting us know if we wanted to take any unpaid days off, that would be fine with him.

I might understand this behavior if the company was really struggling. However, I handle all the finances for the company and can see that the past two years have been the most profitable the company has ever been. In fact, much of this profitability can be directly tied back to mine and my coworker’s efforts.

To me this seems unprofessional and I find it completely demoralizing. It seems like he doesn’t appreciate our work but instead just looks at us as dollar signs. Most of the time he is a good person, but this has really started to bug me and I don’t want to continue to be reminded what I burden I am. However, I want to stay in this job for the next year as I need to be close to family members who are ill. Additionally, I recently have taken on more responsibilities that if I stay and continue to learn could open up a lot of doors professionally for me in the future. So what do I do in the meantime? Should my coworker and I tell him how these comments make us feel? Or should I grin and bear it for a year until I can move on?

It might be interesting to act as if you’re taking his comments very, very seriously. You could ask to meet with him and say something like, “You’ve been mentioning a lot lately how much my and Jane’s salaries cost the business. I’ve done some market research and know that we’re being paid well in line with the market for this kind of work — maybe even a bit under market since we don’t get benefits. Since we’re not overpaid, I’m concerned if there’s some other message here — is the business in trouble? Is everything okay?”

(And yes, you see the finances and know that things are fine — but it’s plausible that you’re concerned that he knows something you don’t, since otherwise his comments are inexplicable.)

I suspect you’ll get a cranky answer that doesn’t admit things are fine but instead grumbles about the strain of, you know, paying employees for their work.

At that point, you can say, “Assuming you agree that we’re being paid a fair market rate for our work, it’s really demoralizing to be told so frequently that we cost too much. I believe I’m being paid fairly so I don’t know how to respond when you talk about my salary. What are you looking for from me when you say those things?”

It’s possible that just calling out the behavior like this will get it to stop, or at least significantly lessen.

But if it doesn’t, then I would try to just look at him as an amusing caricature of a miserly industrialist, like a Mr. Burns or an Ebenezer Scrooge.

Also though … I am highly skeptical of any company that rarely has anyone stay even two years, and oh also happens to hire mainly people right out of college (who conveniently are the ones least likely to recognize and balk at terrible management practices), and doesn’t provide benefits (although it does sound like you get paid time off, so I assume that means no insurance — which is not good). Combine it with your boss’s absurd behavior, and I would seriously question how much you’re getting out of staying, and how many doors it’s really going to open in the future. I hear you that you want to stay in the area because of ill family members, but it’s worth thinking about whether there are other, healthier workplaces that would let you do that too.

{ 268 comments… read them below }

  1. Guava*

    OMG, are you working for my old boss? Kidding because he no longer owns a business, but boy does this ring familiar. My former Scrooge once tried to deny me my holiday bonus on the basis that I took all two weeks of the paid vacation time I was entitled to, as per my salary and benefits package. He kept making passive-aggressive comments about how it demonstrated my lack of commitment to my work. So I tracked the amount of hours I worked beyond the standard 40/week in an Excel spreadsheet. In one month, I had more than 80 hours of “overtime”. I presented this to him and reminded him that, given that 60 hour weeks were a pretty common practice for me, he was getting quite the discount on my labor by having me on salary vs. hiring me by the hour.

    He never complained about my bonus or vacations again.

    1. Snark*

      Lack of commitment to your work? Those leave hours are part of your compensation package. My guess is he’d never dream of chastising you about spending your pay how you see fit – though hell, these morons always suprise me – so what standing does he imagine he has to criticize you taking all your PTO?

      1. BenH*

        Lol. I have certainly had employers that thought they could tell me how I could spend my paycheck.

    2. Tallulah in the Sky*

      I’d just like to say that even if you were working 40 hours a week and not more, it’s not a sign of lack of commitment or that you are paid too much. It still wouldn’t be OK for your boss to treat you this way. Doing your job to the best of your abilities is all that is necessary to get your salary without complaints from your boss.

      1. Jadelyn*

        THIS. We’re sunk so deep in this toxic “above and beyond!!!!” culture that even well-meaning people wind up treating those who work a normal 40-hour week, don’t stay late, etc. as not “fully committed” to their job. Employment is a business transaction. I you 40 hours of my life each week give, you me paycheck provide. I shouldn’t be obligated to provide you, my employer, with free bonuses on top of that in order to be considered “committed” to my job. Gods know the employer side isn’t offering free extra money in turn.

      2. Guava*

        The backstory is, he was resentful because I spent those two weeks of vacation planning my wedding. The moment a woman in his company got engaged, he’d start grumbling behind her back about all the maternity leave he’d be “stuck” paying for as soon as she got pregnant. So I’m sure he saw a trail of invisible dollar bills every time I came into work. I spared him that expense by quitting right after my wedding.

        1. Shoes On My Cat*

          Lol! My brother lives in CA where there is family leave mandated for both primary caregivers. His boss grumbled about another employee getting pregnant same as your boss right around the time the laws changed in California. Brother was already planning to take leave after his wife’s leave was finished but he really, really enjoyed informing his boss about his paternal leave dates more than he would have otherwise. Apparently the idea that boss now has to ‘worry’ about all his employees taking pregnancy leave was a complete mindf%#$. (My brother is a fantastic dad and is really close to both his kids since you know, bottle feeding, etc because of the laws backing paternal rights to have bonding time. Sometimes the government gets it right!)

  2. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

    This reminds me so much of the boss who complained about how “unfair” it was that the LW could take vacations he couldn’t afford and the flurry of (spot-on) comments saying that he’s free to do the work if he wants to save on his employees’ salaries. Still my favorite letter to date and same brand of lunacy here. It’s the cost of having someone else do the work for you. Not a difficult concept to understand.

        1. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Wow, the OP of that one was even doing her boss’ personal bill-paying as part of her work! Not cool.

      1. Ms. Taylor Sailor*

        I and a few others posted the link a couple comments up! It was sometime in 2016, shortly before I discovered the site. Something about it bizarrely cracks me up more than even the craziest letters.

  3. Except in CA*

    I think LW has run into the reason no one has stayed at this company for as long as they and their coworker have.

    1. Antilles*

      He ‘rarely has employees stay two years’. That’s definitely far from the norm; even legitimately toxic workplaces often keep employees for at least a couple years.
      He isn’t providing benefits/insurance, when that’s the standard. He only provides raises after two years, when a common expectation is every year…and it could be argued that the only reason he did is because it’s outlined when you start. He’s suggesting you take unpaid PTO instead of paid PTO, which is effectively asking you to take a pay cut.
      There’s no mystery here as to why everybody bails out quickly. Frankly, the only question is how the guy manages to stay in business when he has to replace his entire staff every 18 months.

      1. pope suburban*

        Signed and seconded. Or thirded, as it were. I worked for a toxic small business for three years, and the only people who stayed were people who had been hired right out of school, with no experience whatsoever, who’d been duped into thinking that low pay and no benefits were normal. Or people who didn’t actually have the professional and safety credentials to get hired on at a legitimate operation, in the case of the shop employees. I hope OP really takes it to heart that this is not okay, inevitable, or normal, and starts looking for a better job.

        1. whingedrinking*

          A friend and I were recently talking about how both of us have a background in education but not the specific qualification required to teach in public schools. Both of us have been turned down by tutoring centres or other extracurricular programmes who insist they *only* hire people who have this qualification, despite the fact that that their pay and benefits wouldn’t remotely compare to the compensation of a full-time teacher – and those are in fairly high demand in our province. You might find a handful of people who got all the way through their certification and practicum, decided they didn’t want to work in the classroom after all, and have enough support from another source that they can work there part-time without benefits. Otherwise you’d be relying on retirees and people who’d been fired from actual teaching jobs.

          1. pope suburban*

            That’s very similar to how my former employer operated. They hired unlicensed technicians and people who didn’t have proper equipment certifications because they were, obviously, cheaper, and also because they were more or less trapped there by their inability to apply to better jobs that required certs. It was a terribly scummy place for so many reasons.

          2. TardyTardis*

            There was a school district in Arkansas that was a trap if you stayed longer than one year–they would give you terrible evaluations and try to make sure you were never, ever able to move on from there to some place that paid you know, like real money. (the other school districts knew about it, so if you did leave after your first year and weren’t dragged away by the cops, it didn’t penalize you–but anyone who stayed later than that were thought to be too stupid or have other, more real problems).

    2. Archaeopteryx*

      After reading AAM for a while, sometimes I imagine a small red flag and buzzer noise when a letter mentions something about their workplace that’s suspicious/worrisome. The first paragraph of this letter had four, and that’s even before getting to the main problem!

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Yeah, super-small company, no benefits. Constantly being told they can’t afford you or they pay you too much and you should be there 12+ hours a day to “justify” how much you get paid.

      Look, I get that it’s often tough for really small businesses like this. But if you can’t afford to hire people, you shouldn’t! Don’t beat up the workers over it.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Maybe. However he possibly just stinks at hiring.

      I’ve seen high turnover be an issue for small businesses who need people who are extraordinarily comfortable doing a million things with little formal training.

  4. Dust Bunny*

    Ugh, I had one of these. It was awful. It was especially awful because it was a $9/hour, no-overtime, no-benefits, job.

    1. JediSquirrel*

      This is one of the reasons that people steal from their employers. I’m not saying that’s right, but this is what happens, especially when the boss drives a car worth several years of your salary.

      1. TardyTardis*

        There was an episode of The Simpsons where Homer got sucked into working at Big Box Store, was locked in overnight with the rest of the crew, who explained how they ‘went shopping’. Homer, being Homer, overdid it with the backhoe…

  5. Lady J*

    I was thinking the same thing. Constantly being told you cost the company too much is not great way to retain workers.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Wayyyy back int eh day when minimum wage was like 3.00/hour, and I was making a whopping 3.75/hour because I “had skills”… I had a boss who would constantly bitch about paying her employees. Like OP I was familiar with the finances and she was doing way better than “fine.” Probably because she was paying poverty wages.

      1. Wintermute*

        Fun fact, thanks to inflation the “real earning power” of that 3.75 was probably more like 14 an hour today. I absolutely stunned my mom when she was on a typical rant about “kids these days” when I pointed out the actual buying power of her first job earning 1.50 an hour in the late 70s would have the earning power of a young professional today, the calculator said her retail buying power was about 17 an hour.

    2. idi01*

      Anytime my old boss complained about employee costs, I would start talking about how much the cost of living had gone up in that area.

  6. Beth*

    I work for just such a company. They don’t remind me of how much I am costing them, but they treat me horribly in other ways. Unlike the OP I get no paid days off, no benefits of any kind, much less insurance. That is why I am leaving for a better job with benefits come April 1st . I am the second such person in the span of a month Roman’s such as an exodus. OP and her comrads should follow suit.

  7. Canonical23*

    Alison’s advice is great. And look – start job searching now. That’s not a healthy workplace to be in and if you’re only making fair market value of the position, there are other places that will pay the same, offer STANDARD benefits and probably give you more learning opportunities, in addition to having a reasonable view on how basic business practices work, i.e. pay and treat your staff decently and your business will do okay.

    I was in a similar position two years ago – I worked in a non-profit that had the mindset of “you should love the work you do so much that you’ll take about 40% less the market value of this position you work.” Upper management was constantly having conversations within earshot of employees and lower management about how awful it was that the minimum wage was going up a dollar, that all people cared about was money (no PASSION for the mission!), that it was ridiculous they had to give employees health care……it made us all feel highly unappreciated. Since I was making enough to get by, pay off loans and support my partner who was still in school, I was trying my hardest to stick it out but I started spending an hour or two every week exploring job postings in the nearby area. I started interviewing around and it took about nine months (because I was only applying to very specific jobs at a very low frequency) but I did find and accept a position with the exact same responsibilities and double the salary and a much more relaxed environment.

    You’ve been at this place for two years and you’re fresh out of college – most grads start hunting around this time even if they have a good work environment. Early in your career it’s a lot more acceptable to try a few different jobs in a shorter time-frame than it is when you’re 10 or 20 years into your career field.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      WRT standard benefits: If they’re a recent college grad in the US, they’re young enough to still be on their parents’ health insurance. But if they were getting it through work, they’d have to be paying the monthly premium. So getting market rate without insurance might give them more take home pay than market rate with insurance.

      1. Canonical23*

        That’s assuming a lot, such as –

        1) Their parents having insurance to begin with
        2) Their parents’ insurance having an affordable cost to putting dependents on the plan
        3) I’ve never worked at a place where I’ve had to pay my monthly premium – many employers pay for insurance outright, and that honestly should be the standard
        4) They are under 26 – many people take time to get a degree

        I really don’t want this thread to become a debate about the variety of options that 20-somethings can get insurance. While the age increase from Obamacare was helpful, many lower middle class and low income families still can’t afford to put their young adult children on their insurance. Besides, even if they ARE on their parents insurance, no one needs to be told that their salary and paid time off are a burden on the company.

        1. Dragoning*

          Honestly, as someone who is turning 26 next week in the US and currently dealing with this mess:

          1) My parent’s premium is more expensive because I am on it. Once I get kicked off, it gets lowered to a couple plan instead of a family plan, which is cheaper. My dad has every right to charge me that extra burden, and I’m lucky he never has. Plenty of parents would.

          2) Staying on my parents’ insurance implies I live with them. Moving out also removes me from their insurance plan because I am not a “dependent” anymore.

          3) I am an adult and would like to be receiving adult benefits from my company, or at least have them properly offered to me and I can choose whether or not to be insured with them.

          1. Canonical23*

            Amen to 3! There’s nothing wrong with being on your parents insurance, but companies shouldn’t rely on that as a way to get out of paying younger grads pretty standard benefits.

            1. Half-Caf Latte*

              IDK. On the one hand, it’s pretty crappy, because healthcare is a basic human right, and as long as we have a system tying healthcare to employment, it seems the right thing to do.

              OTOH, from the owner’s perspective, if he’s able to find enough adequate employees without offering an expensive perk, why offer it. Putting aside the right to healthcare argument, if the owner could find employees without being dog-friendly, or providing drinks/snacks, why would they offer those benefits?

              As I commented below, my anecdata with this was that there were a lot of new grads who didn’t take employer health insurance and remained on their parent’s insurance.

              1. Dragoning*

                Well, consider that if you want to keep someone past 26, to build some kind of stable employee base instead of having constant turnover like the above–you need to offer it, because once they can’t stay on their parents’ insurance, they will abandon you for someplace that gives it to them.

                1. Half-Caf Latte*

                  fully agree! This sounds like a place that targets new grads, and maybe doesn’t have room for advancement, so that’s not really a concern of the owners.

                  I think everyone should have health insurance, this scenario to me though is just another example of why tying it to employment doesn’t work.

                2. Pomona Sprout*

                  @Half-Caf Latte wrote: “I think everyone should have health insurance, this scenario to me though is just another example of why tying it to employment doesn’t work.”

                  I could not agree more. As you ssid in an earlier post, it’s a basic human right. The sooner that is recognized in the US (as it is in other developed nations), the better off we Americans will all be!

              2. Forrest*

                From society’s perspective, if businesses are purely there to generate profit for their owners, and have no responsibility to their employees or wider society, they can STFU with all this “I’m a job creator!” nonsense. If legal enforcement is the only thing that’ll get employers to treat their workers like people, we need a hell of a lot more of it.

          2. Observer*

            Just and FYI on #2 for anyone else who is reading. You don’t have to be living with your parents or even be considered a “dependent” to be eligible to stay on your parent’s insurance.

                1. Dragoning*

                  I just got my COBRA letter and it literally says the reason I’m losing my insurance is “Child Losing Dependent Status.” I’m staring at it right now.

                2. blaise zamboni*

                  Dragoning – that’s because you’re turning 26, not because you live separately from them or because they don’t claim you as a dependent. The age is what matters for most, if not all, insurance companies. That’s how kids can stay on their parents’ insurance even if they move for school. That’s all they’re saying here.

                3. Enough*

                  My daughter is 23 and lives many, many miles, states, hours and a time zone away and is still on our insurance. While she is still in school when her sister was 25 she moved to another state and had a job and my insurance allowed her to stay till 26 even though she was getting insurance through her employer.

                4. SimonTheGreyWarden*

                  This. That went into effect when I was (I think) 24 and had aged off my dad’s insurance (at the time I think law was 22 or graduate college, his company actually extended it to turning 24) and then suddenly was back on it. The thing was, none of us lived with my dad; his job was in a different part of the state and because of the nature of the work and the schools in the area, he had moved there while my mother and younger sister lived in the family home, and I lived near where I was doing my MA.

          3. Liz*

            This is on point, but I don’t think #2 is actually true. I was on my parents’ insurance for years while living in another state.

            1. Environmental Compliance*

              Same here. Actually, the only reason that I technically was no longer eligible was because I got married.

          4. Tigger*

            I ran into the same issue last year because of #2. I moved cross country and the job didn’t provide insurance. I was unable to be without (I need a monthly medician that has been at the center of many news stories because of the ridiculous price hike in the past 5 years) so I had to delay registering my car and getting my license in my new state to have access to medication. Thankfully I got a new job with full benefits a month before I turned 26 and my HR signed me on early so I wouldn’t be kicked off. It was a stressful time and I would have no idea what would have happened.

          5. Kimmybear*

            A few clarifications:
            1) Not all employers offer couple plans. My employer offers employee and family so my child doesn’t cost any more than my spouse and I.
            2) According to, you do not necessarily need to live with your parents
            3) Unfortunately less than 50% of private-sector employers in the U.S. offer health insurance. It’s a much bigger issue than being over/under 26.

          6. GradStudent*

            I don’t think 2 is true. I currently live half way across the country from my parents. I have a license from this state, my name is on a lease and renters insurance, I even changed my school status from “out-of-state” to “in-state” during the whole “tuition waivers being considered income” debacle. I am still on my parents’ plan and I won’t be kicked off until I turn 26.

          7. Shoes On My Cat*

            BRAVO!!! Yes to all!!! If my small business actually had an opening, this mature and responsible comment would almost guaranty you getting a job with us (outside of skills). This is the kind of perspective that will serve you well in life. Cheers!

        2. Junior Dev*

          4) they have a healthy relationship with their parents. Young people escaping abuse, homophobia, etc. may have parents who could theoretically keep them on their insurance but deny it to them as a punishment for leaving.

      2. neverjaunty*

        Let’s please put the rest the idea that young workers’ families have an obligation to subsidize their employers.

        This is exactly what it means to say that it’s OK for a fast-food place to pay below a living wage because ‘those should be part time jobs for teenagers’ or ‘well they can go on their parents’ insurance’.

    2. Havarti*

      Passion, like exposure, doesn’t pay the bills. Run, OP, before he seriously starts taking away what few perks you have. He probably has a separate spreadsheet where he’s tallied how much money he could have had if only you all didn’t take PTO or *gasp* receive a paycheck, while completely ignoring the fact what money he happens to actually have is courtesy of your hard work.

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        Exactly. That’s like when people want to pay people in “exposure.” “Would you create me a website/logo/app/alternate reality? I’ll totally give you giant praise and think of all the exposure you’ll get!”Umm…

        Kinda related anecdote: Last job was at an especially toxic tax firm that had us working 60 to 100 (yes!) hours a week for 6 months of the year. We ordered food for everyone most nights, as it kept us in the building, so we built up a huge backstock of condiment packets. At the end of the season, the Dragon Lady (one of 3 owners) sent an email to all of the grunts (admins, but a little different) that we had a ton of extra condiment packets and she wanted to offer them up to us before anyone else because we’d worked so hard. Most of them were expired. When she asked me why I didn’t take any, I told her “My landlord stopped accepting mustard packets as my rent in January.” …Needless to say, I hightailed it out of there real soon after. (The firm was bought soon after and the new owners forced her out within months. I guess she didn’t have enough ketchup on hand.)

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          There’s a great image I’ve seen floating around, a callback to the old Oregon Trail game, with the text reading ‘you have died of exposure’.

      2. Wintermute*

        whenever anyone talks about “exposure” I tell them exposure is something you die from not are paid in.

    3. Hold My Cosmo*

      Amen to your first paragraph. Making average money with no additional perks is really, really to outdo, OP. You seem a bit mentally stuck in that you anticipate desirable job options to be limited, but finding something that meets your criteria (close to home, expanded responsibilities/upward mobility) isn’t that unusual of a request. Even just casually job searching will give you more-than-zero options.

    4. Exhausted Trope*

      Canonical23, do we work for the same non-profit?! Exact same thing occurred to me a bit ago. One director was pontificating to the entire department that people ought to expect below market wages because it’s the mission that matters!

        1. Kj*

          But you can DIE for the CAUSE! Isn’t that enough for you, you ingrate? /S

          But seriously, I have worked in nonprofits where that was the attitude.

    5. sammy_two*

      I was a fundraiser for a youth based non-profit that provided after school care. All of the after-school staff were paid minimum wage and the Executive Director threw a hissy fit when it went up 15 cents an hour. She sure took her 3% raise though. That was just one of many, many things.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Oh I’d be job-hunting for certain. Even if you know the finances are good, *HIS* view of the finances is what matters. I had one “cool job” where there had been high enough turnover that the owner hired two people at one time to catch up on a backlog. From things he said when he laid me off, he’d honestly expected one of us to quit like our predecessors. We didn’t, so he had to let one of us go. He would have been able to keep covering payroll, but it would have cut into his percentage. (Joke was on him…a month or two after he let me go, the OTHER woman quit because it really did take two people to handle the tasks and his attitude.)

    7. Jadelyn*

      “all people cared about was money (no PASSION for the mission!)”

      I would personally love to vomit in the shoes of every single person who’s ever said something like this. I work at a nonprofit and some of our higher-ups have this mentality as well, which is all well and good when you make $100k and your “sacrifice” for the sake of the mission is that you’re not somewhere else making $200k, but for people making $15/hr the extra $3/hr they can get at a for-profit doing the same job is the difference between making rent and not making rent around here.

      I actually snapped at one of our executives about this at one point – I’m our HR data person and was working with her on a review of our exit surveys, and predictably the #1 reason for leaving was money. She said “Well, that suggests to me that a lot of people just don’t understand the full value of their benefits and total compensation.”

      I…very politely lost my shit. “On the contrary, I doubt they lack understanding – I give our employees the benefit of the doubt that they’re intelligent enough to understand things like the total comp statements we give them each year that outlines that sort of thing. The problem isn’t that they lack understanding, it’s that they lack money, and unfortunately you can’t pay your rent with the value of your benefits. Our line staff who leave for better-paying jobs are making a choice to do what’s best for them and their families by taking a job that pays them enough to live on. I don’t think it’s at all fair to blame them for doing that. Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to take the lower salary to work here, and we choose to do that because we love the mission and the organization here – but not everyone has the luxury of making that choice.”

      What I *wanted* to say was “Look, how about you and I swap salaries for six months. Let’s see what you think of our “total compensation” package and how valuable your benefits are when you’re not making six figures anymore.”

  8. Kelly L.*

    There’s a part of me that wonders if he just thinks he’s so very funny, a la Mr. Spacely, and that grousing about paying people is Just What Bosses Do. And that he probably goes home and makes ball and chain jokes to his wife, who probably doesn’t enjoy it any more than you and Jane do.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I had one who used to go around singing “Take This Job and Shove It”. One, I hate that song. Two, HE OWNED THE PLACE. If working there sucked, what was he going to do about it?

      We literally used to call and tell him we were slow and he didn’t need to come in, even if we were slammed. Overworking ourselves was easier than babysitting him.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        My boss forced me to attend our “administrative professional’s day” party, where they had a karaoke machine. I was complaining to our CFO about how I find secretary’s day demeaning (we are buddies and it was a very lighthearted convo) and he dared me to sing that song. I did it! Thankfully, it got a laugh. However, when I saw the CFO later, I proudly told him that I sang the song and it turns out he was just joking around and didn’t really think I would actually sing it. Oops!
        Now that I think about it more, the song I sang was “I Don’t Wanna Work, I Just Wanna Bang on The Drums All Day”, not Take This Job and Shove It.

  9. stitchinthyme*

    Ugh, this reminds me a lot of my old boss, at a company with fewer than 20 people and the owner. He didn’t directly complain about paying our salaries and we did have health insurance, but he did do a lot of things that were pretty big giveaways for how he felt about benefits, raises, and paying people fairly:

    * He didn’t give annual raises, and the employee handbook stated that the policy was basically that raises were given at the sole discretion of the company owner. More than one person, including me, left primarily because of this. I got one raise in nearly five years there. (Note: annual salary increases are standard in the software-development industry, and this is the only job I’ve ever had in 25+ years that did not have them.)

    * He’d “promote” people by giving them a managerial title and more responsibilities, but no salary increase to go with it.

    * He really hated it when people called in sick. He didn’t mind vacation time because it was scheduled in advance, but he expected people not to use their sick time (even though he did grudgingly provide it in order to stay competitive). He once yelled at a coworker for calling in sick when the guy had actually been in the hospital, and had returned to work before his doctor advised that it was okay.

    * When a coworker needed to have gall bladder surgery, the company owner spent the several weeks before the surgery doing everything he could to talk the employee out of having it, due to the extra expense to the company health insurance. He kept sending the guy articles about how gall bladder problems could be controlled with diet and medication. (Coworker ignored him and had the surgery anyway.)

    I could go on, but you get the idea.

    1. Life is good*

      Like comments to other stories about shitty bosses/owners here, how the hell do these companies stay in business?

      Sorry your boss was such a jerk.

    2. Busy*

      “When a coworker needed to have gall bladder surgery, the company owner spent the several weeks before the surgery doing everything he could to talk the employee out of having it, due to the extra expense to the company health insurance. He kept sending the guy articles about how gall bladder problems could be controlled with diet and medication.”

      That’s next level. If your coworker wrote in, your old boss would be in the AAM Hall of Shame.

    3. Observer*

      Some days, reading this site is depressing. Like the idea that there are MULTIPLE bosses who would try to keep someone from having surgery to keep costs down.

      I remember at least one letter to Alison about a boss like that.

    4. Random Obsessions*

      “He kept sending the guy articles about how gall bladder problems could be controlled with diet and medication.”
      – unless he had polyps which could turn cancerous
      – unless it explodes and costs the company even more as a fully open surgery with 1-2 month recovery time instead of laparoscopic/keyhole surgery with a recovery time of 2-3 weeks

      but of course, no spending is soooo much better /s

    5. Bears Beets Battlestar*

      My husband worked for this guy! Now he had a better job making more money with better benefits and we are all much happier.

    6. Burned Out Supervisor*

      “When a coworker needed to have gall bladder surgery, the company owner spent the several weeks before the surgery doing everything he could to talk the employee out of having it, due to the extra expense to the company health insurance. He kept sending the guy articles about how gall bladder problems could be controlled with diet and medication.”

      Leads me to believe that he was self-insured and expenses like hospitalizations were eating at his bottom line (not that I agree with his statement, mind you).

    7. stitchinthyme*

      Oh, and after the surgery, he never lost an opportunity to complain about how much the surgery cost and how much the company’s insurance premiums were going to go up because of it…so kind of like this LW’s boss. He also believed that we should all consider ourselves lucky to be employed, like he was doing us a favor by “giving” us jobs — as if we didn’t actually work and he was just giving us charity. It’s why he didn’t consider raises to be a necessity.

  10. Half-Caf Latte*

    So yes, this is garbage behavior, but FWIW- I used to manage a lot of new grads in entry level jobs, and once young adults were allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26, very very few of my hires took health insurance from us, because their parents were still covering them. Some had parents who felt this was just a way to support their transition to adulthood, some had younger siblings and the “family” rate was the same for the parents with or without my employee, and some reimbursed their parents a pro-rata share, which was still less than individual insurance with us.

    The boss may have rationally found that he’s able to attract sufficient new grads to work for him, and that the cost-benefit ratio of offering healthcare coverage wasn’t worth it.

    He may also be a miserly dingus. They’re not mutually exclusive.

    1. nonymous*

      Looking at the insurance issue from a different industry, it’s pretty common for some church denominations to expect their priests to bring their own health insurance. Usually what happens is that the parish will pay to cover premium for whatever insurance their spouse gets. I’ve even seen ads for full-time clergy positions that will specify they need to bring their own insurance.

  11. sunny-dee*

    Not to defend the boss because he has a lot wrong, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with a small business (4 employees total) not offering health insurance. My brother works for a very small business, about that size. They do a 401(k), PTO, and they used to do health insurance, but Obamacare got rid of individual and small group policies, and the cost for his insurance would have been over $30k a year per employee for a comparable plan, and they just couldn’t afford that. They gave him a stipend, I believe, to try to cover the costs but it was nowhere near the actual cost on the exchanges.

    There may be a lot of things wrong with the way he operates, but it’s unfair to jump to the conclusion that he is a terrible manager or a struggling business because he can’t afford health insurance. It’s insanely expensive.

      1. Essess*

        Agreed. According to this, it actually kept you from being charged higher premiums for a lot of conditions that you used to get charged for.

      2. Cucumberzucchini*

        Obamacare did make it much more expensive for individual and small group policies. It didn’t get rid of “junk” policies either (responding to a commentor below). Prior to Obamacare I had a catastrophic plan when I was a self-employed Freelancer that I loved that I paid $70/month for that covered hospitalizations, cancer, etc… just majorly expensive things and I paid out of pocket to see the doctor. It was less expensive for me than what most people were paying for health insurance because I didn’t have go to the doctor often. I tried to get that policy again after going back to Freelancing and those policies were made illegal and you couldn’t get them anymore.

        I looked into getting health insurance for staff prior to Trump being elected and it was astronomically expensive and it required a certain percentage of my staff to sign up to be even be able to offer it. Several of my employees of a small staff were not interested in signing up because they were still on their parents plans and I wasn’t able to get enough people to sign up to offer it to anyone.

        Then something must have changed after Trump was elected because now I am able to offer health insurance even if just one employee signs up and it’s MUCH more affordable. It costs me $380/month per employee for a really good plan. Before it was way more. It’s nice to finally be able to offer my staff Health Insurance, but before it would have been impossible at what it cost. My company has 7 full time employees.

        1. JKP*

          Yes, I had the same catastrophic plan before Obamacare, because I was a solo practitioner and didn’t qualify for group policies. It worked great and was affordable, and I loved it.

          Once Obamacare went into effect, I lost that coverage and didn’t have any insurance anymore. My income was too high to qualify for subsidies or medicaid. But the quotes I got on the market for my area were more than my total income, so I obviously couldn’t afford any insurance.

          I haven’t looked again in a while, so maybe if rates have come down to closer to $380/mo, I could actually afford to get covered again.

        2. Jules the 3rd*

          It’s independent of Trump.

          The costs went up a lot for several years with a lot of insurance providers leaving markets because they were not profitable. By 2017, the rate hikes had overshot costs enough that many of those places were profitable. 2018 was pretty flat but various providers noticed the profitability and entered those markets. 2019, rates dropped, through they are still above 2014 rates.

          So what you’re probably seeing is a new provider has entered your area and has different rules (can sign up with only 1 employee) and is competing with the old provider on cost. Regulated (eg, good plan) capitalism for the win.

          A decent source for examining this is NPR, “Many Who Buy ACA Health Plans For 2019 Find Lower Prices And More Choice”

          1. Yikes*

            It might also be the result of changes in state laws. The state I lived in elected a new governor partway through, who altered the way the state was interacting with Obamacare and it resulted in significant changes to the marketplace.

      3. Tammy*

        Not applicable to sunny-dee’s example, but one thing I think Obamacare did (or maybe insurers just used that as an excuse) was to increase the lower bound for number of employees needed to get a small group policy from 2 to 3. My ex and I ran a consulting business together when I was married, and our insurance broker was telling us that our insurer wouldn’t keep giving us a small-group plan for only 2 employees.

      4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        There are still many small group policies out there. Unfortunately, some are expensive and there are many locations where the choices are limited. I am fortunate that I live in a large metropolitan area that has many options.

        FWIW, every startup I have established has offered a benefits package. It’s not just the moral thing to do, it’s actually good business. It’s one of the ways to attract top-level employees.

    1. J*

      I believe it is the multiple other things mentioned in the letter that make this guy a terrible manager. Most places that don’t offer insurance don’t sit there and whine to their employees “Look how much you are costing me. How dare you only work for money.” Your brother’s company sounds like they are open and honest about what they can and cannot afford, and make up for it the best they can. This manager does not.

      All Alison mentioned is that no health insurance being offered is outside the norm. No one said an employer who doesn’t offer health insurance is some cartoon villain.

      1. Arctic*

        Except the brother’s boss was completely lying to them so he’s not exactly open and honest.

    2. Bee*

      That must be a function of region, because my company is 3 people, and for a while I was the only one here getting insurance, and the premium is <$9k a year. (In NYC.)

    3. Antilles*

      1.) There are actually health insurance agents and companies who specialize in providing coverage to small businesses – either by making policies specifically tailored to their needs OR by banding a bunch of those sized companies together for negotiating power (sometimes this is handled through an industry trade association group).
      2.) His actions don’t stand alone. If it was just the health care, maybe you could make that argument. But the boss also only giving raises after two years, complains regularly about employees’ salary, and asks employees to basically take unpaid leave instead of their PTO.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        To point 1), there are companies that supply outsourced HR services. Several of them offer benefits plans for very small companies. They bundle them into one group so these companies can access group discounts on health & other insurance.

        1. TheRedCoat*

          I work in insurance- I can confirm that I’ve run across several such of these groups, usually listed as something like “Llama Benefits Services” , with a dozen or so separated out billing groups.

      2. TardyTardis*

        I had a friend who was told in 2010 by his boss that it was because of Obama that their company health insurance had to be canceled and that they were on their own, but the marketplace really didn’t get going till 2013. But of course his boss would *never* lie!

    4. blink14*

      I second this on the insurance for a small company. My relative who owns a small business pays an absolutely insane amount for health insurance. In the end, its actually cheaper for him to have a high deductible plan for employees and pay out that deductible, then to have a more reasonable deductible plan.

      Small businesses really can struggle with overhead, especially with health insurance. At my old job, a company of about 30, the premiums went so high that we seriously considered state sponsored health insurance (the home office was in a different state with less stringent insurance laws). The insurance market is very unfair to smaller businesses.

      1. blackcat*

        “In the end, its actually cheaper for him to have a high deductible plan for employees and pay out that deductible, then to have a more reasonable deductible plan.”
        The place I used to work at did this, too. We had like a 4k deductible and were self-insured to that amount. Basically, you brought EOBs to the HR person, and they direct-deposited $$ into the account to cover anything below the deductible. Sorta an odd approach, but it worked very well.

    5. Jessie the First (or second)*

      “Obamacare got rid of individual and small group policies”
      Yeah, no it didn’t. It got rid of junk policies (such as the kind that would drop people when they got sick, or that refused to cover pre-existing conditions, or had caps on benefits). Small group policies exist still, and individual policies exist. There are ways for small businesses to get policies for their employees on the exchanges, and contribute something to the policies (called SHOP policies).

      So not offering insurance is still a problem, even for a business that size. It is possible, without costing $30k a year per employee for the employer.

      This boss is a jerk in many ways – not offering insurance or benefits other than PTO is one of the reasons, but it’s not the only reason.

    6. Anon for this*

      I work for a 2-person nonprofit that doesn’t offer insurance. Our other employee is eligible for (age) and on medicare. I get a (taxable) stipend that’s theoretically for healthcare costs. If my husband’s job didn’t have good insurance I’d never have taken this one. We also live in a state with a robust health care marketplace that pre-dates Obamacare.

  12. Crivens!*

    I agree with others that it’s time to get out of there.

    Also, even if he was struggling, if a business cannot afford to pay it’s employees fairly, provide generous PAID vacation and sick time, and provide decent insurance, it can’t afford to stay in business. I have a hard time feeling any sympathy for that or complaints about it: if you can’t afford to be a good employer, you don’t deserve to have a business.

      1. Crivens!*

        We just disagree on this. I don’t think it’s moral for people to be employed without some way to have health insurance. Obviously a lot of that is on the terrible system we have here in the US, but “it’s expensive” isn’t an excuse to me.

        1. caryatis*

          But there is a way. Employees can pay for it themselves. I opted out of insurance at my old job, because it was cheaper for me to buy an individual plan.

          1. Crivens!*

            The market for buying your own insurance is terrible. It is not cheaper for most people to buy an individual plan.

          2. Name Required*

            For an individual plan to be cheaper than a group plan is almost unheard of. So unheard of that group insurance plans are the standard for competitive benefits, and a company that cannot offer competitive benefits and attract good talent may find themselves in a pickle when they need that talent to competently perform work for the business.

          3. mark132*

            If you are talking “Obama care” for the plan, it really isn’t an individual plan. It’s just a group plan that isn’t through your employer.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              It would be nice if we could stop calling it “Obamacare.” It’s the Affordable Care Act. Obama didn’t create it. It is basically a copy of what Romney did in Massachusetts. Which for some reason…seems to work. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          4. Sacred Ground*

            Employees can buy their own insurance IF their employer pays them enough to afford it. Since they would also have to pay SS/Medicare/UI/withholding taxes on that higher income, it’s probably cheaper to just get a group plan. Unless you’re arguing for paying people less.

          5. TardyTardis*

            Yay for you. I’m older with a pre-existing condition in a rural area, I’m paying over $900 a month out of pocket with a $6500 deductible. Can’t wait to get on to Medicare. If I worked for someone with insurance, it’d be a six month wait for me by which time….I should be on Medicare.

        2. ThatGirl*

          My FIL owns a small business – fewer than 10 employees (I’m not sure of the exact number). His health insurance costs as an owner are high. But he understands how important it is – he’s had his own health problems and been essentially self-insured! – so he does the best he can to provide them subsidies and affordable insurance.

      2. Canonical23*

        I agree with Crivens. If we’re going to operate in a system where health insurance is covered by private businesses rather than the government, the private businesses need to step up and actually offer it.

        I really don’t like when small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurial people seem to think that the personnel costs are the best place to start when cutting budgets. If you can’t afford to treat your employees at the base minimum of what’s expected from a decent job, then you need to cut down the scope of your business.

        1. sunny-dee*

          The only reason health insurance exists is because FDR instituted wage caps and high taxes on high earners, and vacation days and health insurance became a way (outside of direct wages) to attract and reward high value employees.

          The reason labor costs are the first place to cut costs are because labor costs are the single biggest line-item for almost every business.

          1. Batgirl*

            I did not know this! As an ignorant Brit I’ve been reading along wondering why health costs were ever given to employers in the first place if it’s too expensive for them. Conversely I couldn’t understand why other employers seem to be very ‘it’s no big deal’. It makes a lot more sense now in the context of quality-employee bait.

        2. Jerry*

          It’s pretty intellectually disingenuous to just “assume” away the trade offs involved in this system. Presumably the employees are better off where insurance isn’t provided for than the proximally available alternative or else they wouldn’t be there. Budgeting is zero sum. Money that is spent on providing health insurance is not spent on other things including salaries. It’s fantasy to pretend that increasing the cost of employment doesn’t reduce the rate of employment. There are myriad case studies of businesses doing exactly what you’ve described, either cutting headcount or ceasing to exist to the detriment of the employees and employers. I wish that we could sustainably fund employment and health care, but it is precisely that, a wish. When wishes are turned into policy there are tradeoffs, which mean there are losers, and it’s disingenuous to pretend there aren’t.

      3. Storie*

        Crivens, are you in America? It’s insanely expensive to provide benefits as a small business. Bigger issue is that we all have a basic human right to healthcare…but I will stay off my soapbox.

        1. Crivens!*

          I am, and definitely know it’s expensive to provide benefits as a small business. And I know that’s because of our awful system. I just don’t think small businesses should get an exception. There’s no right to own a small business, but there is a basic human right to healthcare, as you say.

          1. nonymous*

            Our business landscape currently allows Fortune 500 companies to skip paying healthcare benefits by keeping staff at part time hours. When I worked briefly at a Lowes’ store only 4 out of ~60 staff were benefits-eligible. Are you suggesting that small businesses follow suit by refusing to hire full time staff in the same ratios?

            1. whingedrinking*

              Wouldn’t it be more reasonable not to let big businesses get away with skinning their employees by not providing health insurance?

              1. nonymous*

                yes. From my reading Crivens! and Canonical23 are both saying that small businesses should be required to meet that higher standard (or not exist).

                The unfortunate reality is that a majority of Fortune 500 companies experience the profits they do – while offering prices that Americans demand – on the balance sheet of their ground-level workers. Do we say that those large behemoths shouldn’t exist? Why not?

                Frankly, idk why the commentators picked on small businesses in this thread – maybe because at the end of the day it’s easier to see small business owners as people who are inflicting this crap on other human beings?? But the executives at BigBusiness are people too – they shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind a fancy logo and abdicate moral accountability.

                1. Gazebo Slayer*

                  I actually think that no business, regardless of size, should be profiting by exploiting its ground-level workers. If that means lower profits and higher prices, tough.

                  Though a large part of the problem is that healthcare should not be, and never should have been, tied to employment in the first place.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Riiiiiight…let’s keep crapping on small businesses and what they can afford to offer for compensation because that’s so easy.

      Disregard the vile practices of major players like Amazon who eat low paying positions for snack time and destroy their employees health. But hey…they’ve got benefits.

      These giant mega corps will lay you off after 25 years dedicated to them. But Boeing is sooooooooo great and man those benefits…until they cut your job and you’re out on the streets needing to take a cashier job when you are an engineer. Yeah…those small businesses are so greedy and gross…let’s all stomp them into the ground and wait for that Bazos money instead!!

      1. Crivens!*

        I can think both small businesses and big corporations are wrong for the same practice. It’s a mental feat, I know, but I manage.

  13. Daniel*

    Agh, this would be so obnoxious.

    OP, please look to see what’s available nearby. Unless you’re in a particularly isolated area, or some highly specialized role, I think finding new work that’s both better for you and still close to your family will be easier than you think.

  14. SL*

    Oooh boy, this is my old boss, 1000%. She was notoriously cheap with everything, cut costs at every turn, provided no real benefits, complained about employee payroll, and drove her salaried managers (including myself) to work to the point of exhaustion. Meanwhile, the business was increasingly profitable and she and her husband would frequently take overseas trips. There was no way to justify staying, in the end. This was really a reflection of the company’s values at every level. Small businesses can have growing pains, for sure, but at some point it’s just dysfunction. OP, grin and bear it for a while if the situation is benefiting you somehow, but realize you can probably do much better elsewhere down the line.

    1. hbc*

      Oh, yeah, it’s never the owners who are eating ramen and driving their 130K mile car into work who whine like this. It’s the ones who are using the company as a bottomless ATM, expensing “business lunches” every single day even if they’re alone and do no work, and thinking they work super hard because they take a few work calls while they’re driving to their vacation house at 11am on Friday.

  15. Legal Rugby*

    OP, I would point out that if you arent getting insurance or benefits, you ARENT being paid in line with most positions fresh out of college. When you say that, are you just comparing what you would make aat a similar position…with benefits? Or are you being paid the $ cost of someone else’s salary, and missing out on the benefits, meaning you are receiving only 2/3 of what that salary listed on glassdoor is getting?

    1. sunny-dee*

      I worked for several small business for a few year out of college and never got insurance or retirement. That only happened when I worked for a large company.

    2. ThatGirl*

      Agreed. My first job out of college (circa 2003) I got paid diddly squat – barely cleared $20k a year. But I did have pretty good, fairly inexpensive health insurance, a 401k, 2 weeks vacation + paid holidays and a few other benefits.

      1. Autumnheart*

        Same. My first job out of college paid $12/hr with full company-paid benefits and 10 PTO days. In 1996. Of course, this was also during a time when gas was $1.20 a gallon, rent on a 1BR apartment was $500/mo, and the private college I’d attended cost about $11,000/year. A coworker of mine was talking about sending her kid there this coming fall–tuition is now $56K. That’s more than f-ing Harvard costs.

        1. ThatGirl*

          $20k/yr worked out to about $10/hr, so in 2003 it wasn’t great – but – it was a low COL area, my rent was $419 a month for a largeish 1-bedroom, and I had no student loans. So I managed.

        2. parent of TWO college students*

          Actually not true. Most Ivy League colleges are now $75K/year and up. Ask me how I secretly rejoiced when my kid did NOT get into Columbia (NYC).

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      This. I worked as a contractor for a company about 15 years ago and was told it was a temp to perm position. I was doing great and they were dragging their feet to hire me as an FTE. I was told that it cost the company about $12K to provide benefits, yet they were paying the recruiting company double what I was getting, so to hire me and add and extra $12K on top of my salary was WAY better for them money-wise.

      So while OP may be getting market rate for her position and experience, without benefits, she’s actually getting less. I 100% agree with Alison and think OP needs to confront her boss about the comments, and seriously start job searching.

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      Came here to say this!

      I review invoices/contracts for small companies, and “fringe” (that is, benefits) range from 20% of salary (stingy) to 40%+ (good). If you’re not making ~30% more than comparable jobs in the local area WITH benefits, then your whole package (salary and benefits) is just not competitive.

    5. Cobol*

      But OP likely can still be on their parents’ insurance. Depending on that insurance, it could be cheaper.

      1. Three Dogs in a Trenchcoat*

        Just want to point out, not so much at you but in general, that a lot of people might not be able to go on their parents’ insurance. This could happen because the parents can’t afford the family plan, because parents themselves don’t have insurance, or because (as happened to someone in my family) the parent decides for whatever reason that they don’t want the kid on their insurance anymore.

  16. Bee*

    Ugh, my boss used to do this – when she was paying me my commission, and every dollar she paid me represented two that I BROUGHT IN AND SHE GOT TO KEEP. It was infuriating, that she seemed to see my commission as some grand extra expense rather than my cut of free money. Luckily she’s stopped that, and my benefits are good, but god, what a horrible and devaluing thing to say to employees who are good enough to keep employing. (Though this kiiiind of sounds like the boss is trying to drive you out so he can pay someone else less.)

    1. The New Wanderer*

      That occurred to me too, that the ramping up of comments, digs, and ‘requests’ not to use any of your meager benefits is about driving you out. Maybe that’s a big part of the reason people don’t stay past 2 years, not because they realize they can do better but because the boss wants the now-higher-paid people out.

  17. nnn*

    If you want to make the effort to convince your boss that the employees are worth the salary, a more compelling argument than the fact that it’s market salary might be to point to how much revenue they generate.

    Of course, I’m not sure whether it’s worth the effort of convincing him.

  18. Noah*

    Assuming you can be on your parents’ insurance and this is the only major problem with the job and you’re planning on leaving in a year, I’d just suck it up.

    1. Cobol*

      I agree. It for sure is not a great job, but there are a lot of places that don’t have options.

      OP sounds like they have a few clear reasons to stay on, and a definitive time frame to leave.

      OP, my only advice is to make sure one more year is truly only one more year.

  19. Alfonzo Mango*

    You deserve better, OP! This sounds like a toxic relationship. If you’re willing to put up with it (or you have to put up with it), I wish you the best of luck.

  20. Sleepytime Tea*

    Ugh, I had a boss who complained about how much I “cost.” What was stupid was that he was the one who made the offer, I accepted it as is with no negotiation (there’s a story behind that, but anyways), and then he started bitching that I made too much. In the meantime I was busting my butt and getting results, bringing more skills to the position than anyone had in the past and saving them money in other areas where I could do things that previously they would hire outside contractors for.

    It eventually turned in to him demanding a weekly list detailing literally every single thing I did that week. I had to spend hours putting together all this minutiae instead of doing actual work. Once an employer starts looking at you this way, where they basically are asking you to justify your existence, it only goes further down hill.

    I would seriously consider looking for another job. You’ve been there 2 years, it’s not going to look like job hopping. Try to find something in the same area (and with insurance!). You can take your time since you’re not dying to get out this very second, but I think Alison is on point that this place is probably going to just turn into a toxic hell.

    1. Fergus*

      I was at a job once and after 11 days I was told I was being over paid. I was being paid the current rate in my area and roughly the same rate the last 7 years. I knew I had to go. I wasn’t burning a bridge, there was never one there to begin with.

    2. Face of Boe*

      Did you include “compile information for weekly activity report” in your weekly activity reports?

  21. M2*

    Hey Allison on a bit of a tangent here but want to get some info if you or commenters are able. My in laws own a successful but small business in the Midwest. They don’t give their employees insurance (my husband and I have tried in vain to get them to do so) although they give paid time off. Anyway, my in-laws want us to move in the coming years and take over the business. If we decided to do it my spouse probably run the business while I got another job. If we did it we would want to offer benefits but my in laws keep saying the business can not afford it. I know we will have to look over the books (my FIL is in charge and his level of book keeping is awful). We haven’t decided if we will go this route but if we do or even if we don’t what is the best way to get small business health insurance and how much does it usually cost the company?

    Many of his employees are on assistance (which is another issue for us) but because the state didn’t expand Medicade under Obamacare many of his workers do not have health insurance unless their spouse has it. Before Obamacaremany were on state Medicade.

    My in-laws aren’t bad people one of their employees almost went into foreclosure and my FIL paid it off so they could keep their house, they have always helped their employees out that is why I question why benefits and raises cannot be added.

    1. blink14*

      Commented above, but I have a family member who owns a small business in the Northeast, and the insurance premiums are astronomical. He manages it by choosing a “cheaper” (big laugh there) plan with very high deductibles, and then pays out those deductibles for his employees (we’re talking $5k-$6k deductible, per employee). It’s a gamble every year, but if a certain percentage of the employees stay relatively low on the deductible, it actually works out to be less expensive. This is in a very expensive state but in a economically depressed area, and mostly employees unskilled labor (there are a handful of skilled office employees).

      One of the things that is highly helpful is having an outside CPA you can trust – I know he’s saved a lot in taxes over the years by having a very diligent, innovative CPA who looks at every tax break possible for a small business in that state.

      Not providing health insurance doesn’t make a business owner a bad person, it can literally mean the business lives or dies by the health insurance costs these days.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        The employees might literally live or die based on whether they have health insurance or not.

    2. Jessie the First (or second)*

      You should address this on an open thread, not here.

      But really, this is actually not a great place (on a comment thread to a question or on an open thread) to ask about benefits pricing and structure and law. That’s highly complicated and varies by region, depends on whether you’d be looking to develop an ERISA tax-qualified plan (and would it be fully insured or self-insured) or whether you would merely help people by setting up SHOP policies, etc.

      Far too complex an issue for a comment board. You have to talk to a live person because they can be structured so many different ways, at so many different price points.

    3. Armchair Analyst*

      There are many ways small businesses can offer health insurance. The small business that I work for has banded together with many in the same industry (ok, engineering/construction) and they offer health insurance options through their industry association, for example.

      The state insurance commission office or state department of commerce or heck even state secretary of state office may have options available that are worth looking into.

    4. TootsNYC*

      I thought that it was possible with the ACA to have your employees buy their own on the marketplace, and you give them a subsidy to do so. But who knows what the insurance world will look like in a few years.

  22. AdAgencyChick*

    It sounds like in some ways he wants what he deserves, which is a workforce that turns over once a year and therefore stays cheap.

    OP, I hope you get out of there and find a business that thinks of your salary in terms of how much value you provide to the company.

  23. Mike C.*

    I love these b-school dropouts who don’t understand that you can’t just look at costs in a vacuum. If I have to pay out a dollar but get two in return, I’m going to take that deal every time, not whine about my costs.

    1. whingedrinking*

      Exactly! If your employees are a net drain on your business, you’re doing something wrong. If they’re *not* a net drain on your business, then they are, in fact, earning you money, not costing it. Aaaaargh.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*


      Thankfully I’ve always had business owners throw money at me because they know darn well that I’m also saving them more than they would be if they didn’t have me around. I don’t have the patience for working for the “poor well-to-do lil’ ol’ me.” nonsense.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I have an uncle who was a CFO at major retail companies. He once was saying that many people in finance don’t understand that you have to spend money to make money. His company had shoe stores, and he said, “If you don’t have sales clerks in the store to bring people shoes to try on, you will never sell any. If people walk in and the one clerk is busy with other customers, they will walk right out.”

      (I had been complaining that I’d gone into Macy’s at Xmas time, picked up a couple of pieces of jewelry off one of the display, and gone to find a line to pay. The closest line was–not kidding, I counted–20 people long. I put the stuff back and left. And I wondered how many sales they lost because they didn’t have a speed checkout somewhere to go along with their “impulse buy” displays.)

  24. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    If you find your boss demoralizing, please stop. This has nothing to do with your work, your character or you at all. Jackasses are gonna jackass. “You people cost me so much money!” PWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Yes, that’s how business works. Jackass. It would be best if you could think of this as a verbal tic, in line with laughing after every statement, or finishing with “you know what I mean?” Or “K? That’d be great.”
    Try Alison’s script if you think you can control your emotions. If you can stop talking and let him wind himself down by making more and more ridiculous statements until he fizzles out. Don’t turn it into a debate.
    And start looking around now.
    When you leave, I suggest tell him to join an MLM, the more people working for him, the more money he’ll make! TIFIFY.

  25. LD'S Mom*

    I really like AAM’s advice. Using a puzzled tone and say “I don’t really know how to respond to that. What do you want me to say?” And then wait in expectant silence for an answer. It would be great if you could get your coworker to do the same thing.

    1. EmKay*

      Yes, but don’t say “what do you want me to do about it?” because this jerk is likely to say “take a pay cut”…

  26. it's me*

    I mean, you might as well leave. The grousing is one thing but yeah, along with no benefits and no employees staying that long and employees being young, plenty of red flags. When you’re asked why you’re leaving, you could be like “You kept telling me I was costing you too much money, so….”

    1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      “I’m leaving! You’re welcome! I’m not even stealing anything on my way out, so you’re double-welcome.”

      1. NapkinThief*

        Haha haha I would pay money to see this exchange – without complaining! OP please consider this edit speech (joking but not really)

      2. TootsNYC*

        I would so love it if you could have a job lined up with a flexible start date and give notice only after he complains about how much he pays you.
        He gripes, you say, “Oh, well, then I guess I’ll just quit. I’ll put through the timecard info effective end of today, so you don’t get in trouble with the Labor Department, but I’ll leave today. That should save you a ton of money!”

  27. Lily in NYC*

    Sadly, I don’t think anything will get better – someone who is this cheap will never pay you what you are worth. I used to work for a magazine (one of the ones Alison freelances for) and our owner introduced a coworker and I to someone as “the overhead”. He didn’t even bother to mention our names. Just “the overheard”. The person he introduced us to looked mortified on our behalf. It was so embarrassing and made me realize I would never be paid fairly. A competitor had been trying to recruit me for three years and I called them a few days afterwards to see if they still wanted me. They did, so I quit.

    1. pope suburban*

      Aah, my evil old boss did that! He thought that anyone who worked inside (As opposed to being an installer or a technician) was just irritating dead weight. Never mind that the inside staff were consistently better producers and more professional, and that we did all the contracts, designs, and financial stuff that kept the business running- nope, we were just overhead! We were all also women, a fact that was not incidental to this view, based on the way the guy treated his wife (She once told us a “funny story” about how he’d told her to “fuck off” several times on the drive to our holiday party; this was every bit as mortifying and painful as you’d think).

    2. twig*

      My boss did something like this to me once. I worked at a housing development and was reliable enough to be able to float (I helped out the accountant at the country club, I was the office manager at the development office, and I would fill in as reception at the welcome center when people didn’t show up)

      A resident who was used to seeing me at the development office saw me at the welcome center and said something along the lines of “what are you doing here too?” and I was about to say something along the lines of “Oh, I’m everywhere” (as opposed to — well, the economy is tanking and not many people want to buy luxury homes, so I’m filling in where needed so that we don’t have to hire a temp — which was the situation)

      My Boss said “Oh, Twig was an English major, so she has to do whatever we tell her.”

  28. Adminx2*

    Ex job alert!! He loved to hire part time moms and kids right out of college to pay the minimum, then the moment he couldn’t avoid paying more he found some reason to squeeze them out (mine was after a year of fine to work in different states suddenly he NEEDED me to be in the same office in his state).

    There’s a reason places with high turnover have high turnover. Use the script but have the plan to move out, you deserve better.

  29. Armchair Analyst*

    My dad used to complain about how expensive 4 kids were and how he should’ve just had 2 kids. My mom would go, WHICH TWO?

    A few months later, he’d complain again.

    1. hbc*

      My mother-in-law was looking for sympathy at a group dinner for my husband’s birthday, and she made some comment about how hard it was to have a child at 40. He looked her dead in the eye and said, “It’s not my fault you two had unprotected sex.” Never heard another word on the topic.

    2. mark132*

      I’ve actually explained all this to my kids, and had lots of discussions of finances. In particular I like doing simulations of how much money they would have investing in retirement at 20 vs 30 vs 40 etc. And yes my wife and I had a large opportunity cost etc having children and they have been worth every bit of it. My wife and I want our children to be financially literate.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        I feel like it’s pretty different to educate kids about the realities of finances versus saying, “I wish 2 of you weren’t ever born.”

      2. Observer*

        You’ve actually educated them by telling them that you “should only have had 2”?!

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s just being responsible and teaching a life skill.

        My dad taught me math at 5 by teaching me how to play blackjack and made jokes about me being able to “win big” and allow him to retire early. Never did he say “you’re so expensive, I wish you didn’t exist.”

  30. Name Required*

    OP, you could also try saying this the next time he makes one of these comments, at the time he’s making them: “Boss, what do you mean by that?” or “I don’t understand what that means.” or “What do you need from me when you say that?” Politely, curiously.

  31. The Tin Man*

    Hires new grads…doesn’t offer benefits…

    It sounds like someone is profiting from the rule that people can stay on their parents’ health insurance until 26 years old. Hint: It’s not the LW.

    I like the idea of asking, “What do you want me to say when you complain about this?” Does the boss think they are going to say “Oh my gosh I am so sorry please take away my raise’/

    1. Half-Caf Latte*

      To be fair, there was the LW who gave up his retirement match and health insurance, and wrote in asking about giving up part of his salary…

    2. Serin*

      No, the boss wants to preemptively discourage the employees for asking for raises, bonuses, or market-normal benefits.

      1. The Tin Man*

        You’re right; if there is any thought behind this aside from just inappropriate complaining (debatable) it is probably to try to guilt them into never asking for more.

  32. LaDeeDa*

    WOW! That is nuts, I had a boss who complained that I took 2 PTO days to put my dog down… he thought it was a ridiculous use of my paid time and horrible timing for a project.

  33. JJ Bittenbinder*

    So…you work for Mr. Krabs?

    That sounds dreadful. You might not believe it right now, but there are other, better workplaces you can join. I promise.

  34. Bend & Snap*

    One of my first jobs was with a 5-person company owned by a husband and wife, and it was horrible. I made a $300 mistake one time and the wife turned purple and screamed in my face that I was taking food out of her kids’ mouths. They underpaid, the health insurance and PTO were horrible and the culture was absolutely toxic.

    Never never never again. NEVER EVER. Big, stable companies for me all the way. The abuse and shortchanging is not worth it.

    1. Cobol*

      I’ve worked for a couple that were the opposite (one to a fault). My guidance has always been to look for somebody who came from a big company. They tend to have a more realistic view on norms.

      1. Not all small biz are dysfunctional*

        You may be onto something there. I described my experience below but the husband and wife both worked for very big large company prior to starting their own company. The people I currently work for have had previous roles at other very big large companies and even the federal gov.

    2. Not all small biz are dysfunctional*

      I wouldn’t lump all small businesses into the “they’re all horrible and mistreat their employees” category given the one horrible husband and wife company you worked for. Yes, they sound awful and I’m glad you don’t work there anymore.

      However, I interned for one start up (which later became a very big success) and learned so much that summer. It was a husband and wife team as well. My field wasn’t known for well-paying (read: paying at all) internships but this one offered a generous stipend at the end of the summer. The husband took us out to lunch from time to time during our internship and even said that we didn’t have to come in on Fridays, because which college kid wants to work Fridays during the summer?

      I currently work for another very functional small biz and while yes, $ is something that is a big factor into a lot of things, we’ve never been told “this is how much you cost” etc. There’s also been bonuses given and yearly raises.

  35. Serin*

    I worked for a company that a few times sent out a letter to each employee calculating Your Cost of Employment — your salary, the company’s share of your Social Security and health insurance, what it cost to hire you and train you, how much they were paying for your software licenses, your percentage of office overhead!

    I was always so tempted to send back a calculation of Your Cost of Labor — overtime hours that I didn’t get paid for because I was salaried, commute time at what my hourly rate would have been, wear and tear on the car at the state’s official mileage rate, physical therapy for bad ergonomics, healthcare for when my co-workers came in sick because of inadequate sick leave, their percentage of my home ‘overhead’ when I worked from home, dry cleaning. Not to mention a mental health charge for the psychological toll of working for someone who never should have been promoted into management.

    1. Cobol*

      These are pretty common now. My current (horrible) company does this. I’d love to send back mileage/depreciation on my commute, daycare, etc.. costs

    2. The Tin Man*

      If someone actually does what you (and many more, I am sure) were tempted to do I hope against hope that they write about it here. They would be remembered among the AAM greats.

    3. sammy_two*

      Lol. We got one of these at the non-profit I referenced above. Just so we’d know exactly what we cost the organization. I’m really not sure what the point was. How many people sit and think about what their insurance costs their employers when they’re just trying to pay all of their bills with their lower than average salary because, “certainly you must believe in the mission!”. One time they decided to shift the bi-weekly pay days to different days in the month which made one of the first/adjusted pay periods three weeks long instead of two weeks. When it was pointed out to the Executive Director that most employees couldn’t go an extra week until they were paid again, her response was that they just need to learn how to budget their money. Um…

    4. Jennifer Juniper*

      And what were you supposed to do with that? Send back an e-mail expressing your heartfelt gratitude and apologizing for being so expensive? #sarcasm

    5. Chriama*

      Some companies will give a “total compensation” statement so you can see things like the value of your health insurance and their contributions to your retirement account. I honestly think it’s helpful as an employer and would love if job offers were presented like that. But, percentage of office overhead?! Your employer was definitely acting in bad faith.

  36. Observer*

    OP, please start looking for a new job immediately. Alison often notes that one danger of a really poor job is that it warps your sense of what is normal and acceptable. In this case, that’s already happening. Yes, you know that your boss is being unprofessional. But you don’t seem to really get HOW WILDLY out of line he’s being.

    Unless you are in a very isolated area or have a VERY niche type of position, there is not really good reason to not look locally for a better job. Even a lateral move to a better company would be a good step for you.

  37. CoffeeLover*

    I remember when I started my first job after graduating where people also tended to leave after about two years… I thought (and was told) it’s because they couldn’t handle the pressure or they left for amazing opportunities that they only got because of the experience they had working there. Didn’t take long for me to realize that people actually left (for modest opportunities or no opportunities) because the expectations were unreasonable and management was poor. People leave en masse for good reasons.

    1. Batgirl*

      “They left for amazing opportunities”
      Ah yes, the good old “pay your dues with us and in a few years a decent workplace will hire you”.
      Somehow this speech is delivered without blushes.

  38. Jennifer Juniper*

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the boss is using all this guilt-tripping to soften the OP up for a planned pay cut.

  39. The Original Stellaaaaa*

    OP, I’d caution you against staying at a very small business with a crappy boss because you’ve convinced yourself that it’s good experience. It’s a hard thing to pinpoint, but I’ve worked for similar businesses before, with very few employees and much more turnover than you’d expect for only about 5 roles to fill. It’s your first professional job…you might not be benefiting as much as you’d hope, but you’re not going to have any context for just how abnormal your company is.

    I recently left a job where my remaining teammate said that management was cruel and the work was mindless, but at least she was able to wear a lot of hats and get a lot of experience that she wouldn’t be able to get in a more defined role. I gently tried to tell her that I’d been in that industry for ten years and that the “experience” she was getting wouldn’t be useful to her in a more functional company with management who actually had a clue.

    I have no way of knowing if the work you’re doing is applicable across your whole industry, but my personal experience is that “well, at least I’m getting good experience” is one of the final steps toward realizing your current company is going nowhere fast and it’s time to jump ship.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It sounds like she’s doing the accounting if she knows the finances so well. She’ll be fine in a small business with a cruddy boss for awhile if she’s doing something transferable like accounting.

      Now if you’re doing marketing or something creative for a small time place like that, I am totally on board with your comment but if it’s basic business shenanigans, there’s a lot of places to go that will appreciate the experience. My proof is that I’m constantly being headhunted and thrown offers at every time I’m looking around.

  40. Ra94*

    My current boss does this all the time, which is fun. All the other warning signs match up, too- she only hires people straight of college (or high school, or high school juniors looking for summer experience), no one stays more than 3-4 months, and she pays minimum wage, no overtime, no benefits.

    1. Snark*

      Does she also complain about things like, “It’s so hard to find reliable, dedicated employees! I have all these positions open and nobody to fill them!”

  41. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    Years ago I had a boss who would dead-straight claim he and his wife (co-owners of the small business) weren’t taking a paycheck in the last year and blah blah blah about how many sacrifices they made for the business and we employees were never appreciative enough. He drove a Mercedes and his wife a Lexus; they had just gotten back from a 2-month European vacation with their two kids, and while they were out they had a huge kitchen renovation on their house…by one of the employees (I have no idea if he was a licensed contractor or not but he WAS paid for this work as an employee of the business and not separately). All this while not getting a paycheck? really? I have a feeling they had some funny bookkeeping habits and this was their way of trying to convince us we were not seeing what they were doing…this is all an illusion……really, it’s not what it looks like at all. MAYBE, they could have other sources of income, but really I think they were claiming a lot of bull in order to avoid taxes — using business money to pay for personal things and then claiming them as business expenses. We watched our paychecks carefully and I know I was shorted on my last paycheck of earned vacation time that I should have been paid for (California) — but it wasn’t worth pursuing and I was just glad to get away.

    Which is to say to the OP — the books you see while you are handling the finances, may not be the real picture. Watch everything closely, and really…get out as quickly as you can.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah. I want to caution anyone from trusting an owner to ever tell you their finances and their “struggle”. I’ve seen too many over exaggerate and fudge their books. I’m imagining your boss having that construction done and those cars, somehow using the business to pay them off as expenses…not that I’ve ever seen someone do that or anything, argh blah.

      Only one of my bosses did stop taking a paycheck to keep the doors open. I did payroll and the books, he very much did stop. His wife made a good amount of money and that’s what kept them afloat.

      Whereas the last one who pulled that nonsense was a liar and a fool, he told everyone he took a cut and as the accountant I knew he sure the heck did not take any cut what so ever. He once gave the place a small personal loan and then quickly snatched it back so afraid he’d never see it again because of how bad the bottom line was getting. Thankfully that person no longer owns a business because he stunk so bad at it.

  42. pentamom*

    Worst place I ever worked at, owner/boss and I were leaving at the same time and so walked out the doors into the parking lot together. Boss looks over the parking lot and says, “Look at all these cars I bought.”

    There were a few old-timers who were in near the ground floor of the business (meaning they’d been there over half a decade, some for just over a decade) but most people came and went within about three years. My own brother has spent most of his career there, and he’s nearly ready to retire, but he’s a valued upper level employee and just doesn’t let the boss’s attitude bother him.

    1. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I had to read that a few times before I got it (I think). You’re indicating the boss is taking credit for buying all of the employee’s cars (like it was HIS work that earned the money and he just…donated them to the undeserving employees or something), not that he literally owns a parking lot full of cars…yes?

      1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        I read it as ‘These people could only buy these cars because of the money I so generously paid them, therefore I really was the one who bought all the cars.’

        1. pentamom*

          Yes, this. Which isn’t really different from what Pay no attention said. He just gave away all that money to us, in return for the privilege of us being able to work, or something.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I wish a boss would try me. I drive beater cars. Thanks so much for my 275k car I bought used at 80k, bro! Whatta dude you are. Rolling my eyes so hard.

  43. Batgirl*

    “Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner!”

  44. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Ick. I’m glad you’re planning on leaving at some point, he’s obnoxious to say the least.

    Complaining about paying wages is never a good look. He’s not a good person, he’s selfish and fails to understand the very basics of spending money to make money.

  45. The Imperfect Hellebore*

    I’m probably being a scaredy-cat, but I’d start with Alison’s second piece of suggested phrasing, rather than the first. That is, I’d ask to meet with him, and use Alison’s wording here (or similar):
    Assuming you agree that we’re being paid a fair market rate for our work, it’s really demoralizing to be told so frequently that we cost too much. I believe I’m being paid fairly so I don’t know how to respond when you talk about my salary. What are you looking for from me when you say those things?

    Depending on how much it bothered me to begin with and how long I was planning on staying there. OP, you say that the type of work you’re doing, along with increasing responsibilities and learning opportunities, may help you in the future. You also mention it’s a convenient job to stay in due to beng close to relatives who are ill. I’d say there are three factors in play here:

    1) How much do you need this particular job, and would you stay in your current area if it weren’t for your relatives? (It might make a difference if you wanted to eventually move out of the area).

    2) How much does your boss’s ridiculous behaviour impact your peace of mind? (If it’s an annoyance, you might be prepared to put up with it for the time being. If it’s damaging your happiness, and/or you find yourself constantly worring about it, that’s another thing.)

    3) How much of a stink is your boss likely to raise if you approach him about his behaviour? If you think he’s likely to respect you for being honest, direct and tactful, that’s one thing. If you think he’s likely to throw a hissy-fit, that’s quite another, and you’d have to carefully consider your options.

    Best of luck, OP!

  46. Llellayena*

    Boss: I’m so annoyed that your salary is so expensive!
    You: Have you heard the saying ‘you need to spend money to make money’? Based on the accounts, I’d say your spending is doing a rather good job at making.

    And then let him think about that…

  47. pcake*

    OP – two things.

    First, I’d show the owner that the company is making more profits than ever, and I’d also show him how you and the coworker are responsible.

    Second, while you say you’re paid at market, do most of those other jobs include medical?

  48. musical chairs*

    You don’t “cost” the company your salary. You are part of the company. Your labor and expertise contribute to the achievement the goals of the organizations and you should be fairly compensated for the value you provide, full stop. And it’s arguable that you’re not even getting that, if you don’t get benefits.

  49. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

    “Because the company rarely has had employees stay this long (two years).”
    Well, now we know why: terrible management.
    You want to stay another year, but I would start a quiet job search now. Update your resume and only actively persue jobs in the area where you want to stay. Keep tabs on other opportunities in areas where you might want to relocate. You deserve better than this and there’s no harm in starting to look now.

  50. Bilateralrope*

    I’ve only ever had one person complain about how much I’m costing them. Though their complaints were mainly due to the people on day shift not doing the job they were hired for. So I had to take a bit of shouting from the client just to learn what I was supposed to do during my shift. When the client arrived in the morning he was happy and apologised for being upset with me.

    Which makes it the only time I’ve ever heard how much my employer charges for my work. Less of a markup/overhead than I expected.

  51. All Outrage, All The Time*

    Earlier in my career I worked in small, privately owned companies. It was a nightmare. I have been much happier in larger organisations such as banks, insurance companies, telecommunications companies. I much prefer to work with thousands of employees rather than a few.

  52. idi01*

    Just as your employer starts to talk about how much you cost him, start to talk about how high the cost of living is getting so much higher in your city. Rent is up, basic cable or telephone fees, groceries, gym membership … be as detailed as possible.

  53. aebhel*

    Ugh, this reminds me of my spouse’s boss (and a couple of former ones of mine). I think it’s really common for a certain type of small business owner; they treat the company like their own personal bank account and their employees like feudal serfs. My spouse’s boss once–kind of jokingly, but kind of not–told my spouse that our house wasn’t really ours because after all, he was the one who paid for it via my spouse’s well-below-market salary.

    He’s being a jerk. If it’s otherwise a tolerable work environment, I’d just ignore it and put your time in and look for something better as soon as you’re able.

    1. Medieval Manuscripts*

      Wow. Your husband should have told the boss that his business wasn’t really his because after all, the employees were the ones who did all the work!

  54. boop the first*

    Oh geez, I am in a very similar situation! One owner plus 3 employees (and 1 part time cleaning employee). Our boss doesn’t complain about wages at all despite being just above minimum, but he does complain about the cost of a wasted staple.

    The last time I had a boss that complained about a wasted office supply, the business closed down within the year. I don’t feel particularly bad about it though.

  55. Penny*

    Every small business owner I’ve ever worked for has panicked about money in front of people making (it would seem) far less money than the owner. It’s tacky and it’s rude. The paranoia of being ripped off, closed down, or stolen from is pervasive and ultimately winds up costing the employer quality employees or at the very least, happy ones. If this is whole this owner IS and nothing will change that, I’d probably look elsewhere. Somewhere with benefits.

  56. TootsNYC*

    I don’t understand how someone taking paid time off can cost the company more money after a raise.

    If you’re salaried, your time off doesn’t actually cost them cash–it just costs them productivity, but employees usually make up for that by working harder before and after their own PTO, and during their colleagues’ PTO.

    And if the company has to hire someone to fill in for you, they don’t pay that person more just because you got a raise!

    That’s just completely illogical.

    I still remember the boss who said, “Vacation days are the cheapest possible benefit you can give someone.”

  57. Galahad*

    Telling an employee that they are underpaid is also disheartening. DH was told “I should hire more older techs with working spouses”… because he (with 12 years of experience) is paid, at best, like diploma grad with <5 years of experience, if you only look up his official job title, but he is actually a senior developer / programs for their R&D team, is the sole support for 1/3 of their products, and gets NO additional benefits beyond the state requirement, so is actually quite underpaid.

    DH loves the company, likes the creative work, has no required overtime, and it is only 6 miles from home. He is staying even if his pay is 50% lower than it should be.

    He does not like to be reminded of the low pay as he drives his 14 year old, rusting, car to work.

  58. mimco*

    I recommend to run very fast and very far, now. Don’t wait. My husband worked for a small firm where most people didn’t stay more than two years. He stayed for 8 years. In that time he only took two vacations and worked most holidays because his boss complained about how much it cost him for people to get paid and not work. He also reminded him constantly that he could get someone for less money. My husband got two small raises, at two years and five years. At the beginning of year #8 his boss was told, by the parent company, that he had to put my husband on a bonus plan if he wasn’t going to give him any more raises. I told him to start looking for a job because “Joe” would fire him before ever giving him a bonus “out of his own pocket.” The structure “Joe” came up with was next to impossible to achieve, but my husband did. My husband was given his walking papers the day after Christmas because “Joe” found someone who would work for less money. No bonus was paid because my husband was no longer employed as of December 31st. Being fired was the best thing that ever happened to him. Once he recovered, he was much happier that he was no longer working for a toxic boss. And a BTW, the person who replaced him was incompetent, insulting to clients and never at work due to illness or injury. You get what you pay for.

  59. Rumbakalao*

    A lot of people are pointing out that it’s exploitative for the boss to be seemingly targeting people who are eligible to stay on their parents’ insurance, which yes it is. But the fact is that there’s definitely a market to do so and a business like that will continue to hire employees who are fine with it so long as they’re getting insurance elsewhere.

  60. Jack Balfour*

    The real question we should all be asking is why the boss even owns this business.

    Oh, right. Because he has a piece of paper that says he does.

  61. elchinero*

    Apropos of nothing, I guess, this forum is most adult & sensible I have ever visited. AND I don’t even want or have a job!

Comments are closed.