update: I’m dating my boss — can I fix his conflict with another employee?

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

Remember the letter-writer who was dating her boss and wanted to fix his conflict with another employee? (Her boss, Sam, was feuding with an employee, Doug, after an issue with Doug’s paycheck.) Here’s the update.

Firstly, I think after reading the comments on my letter I definitely made an error in how I characterized the check that was sent to Doug. When I said “bounced” I was trying to convey that Sam had sent it, it was never cashed, and it was mailed back to us. It didn’t fail to clear on our end. Doug moved (he was living with his parents) and did not update his address with us because he said it was fine if checks still went to his family’s house. It was obviously not fine, and the check boomeranged back to us.

So, that being cleared up: Sam and Doug obviously didn’t want to talk to each other. Doug said he was done discussing the issue but I appealed to him to at least meet with me. I spoke to both of them separately and then we had a meeting together.

Everyone got a chance to say their piece and everyone apologized for their part. Sam acknowledged that our personal relationship caused him to react unprofessionally when he read Doug’s rude email to me. Doug agreed that his own email was completely out of line. He explained that he had been awake for 3 days and nights (unrelated to this issue) and so had written a more scathing response to my request than was warranted. When asked why he never brought the missing check up, Doug says he would always forget about it when we were all in person, and only remember it later. Sam said the same, and acknowledged that he needs a better system for handling Doug’s checks (more on that later) and both of them stopped accusing the other person of manipulation. Everything personally is resolved, the three of us still work together, and it’s going really well. EXCEPT!

The only thing that still isn’t going well is the payment process for … just Doug. See, everyone else in the group now has electronic payments set up. The day of any gig, Sam just pays them all using an app on his phone. People also get paid for rehearsals, which is done in a lump sum at the end of every month. Doug doesn’t want to be on Zelle (or any other electronic system) so that’s why he gets a check. He says he doesn’t mind that he has to wait for Sam to cut a check and for it to be mailed out. Honestly, Sam hates it and I understand why. It’s harder to remember to do this for just one person, but it’s Doug’s preference and Sam actually does like Doug a lot and wants to accommodate him so he just sets reminders for himself to do it. I think a better system needs to be set in place before another horrible mix-up occurs, but no one involved can think of one. But hopefully everyone will check themselves before they send nasty messages about it.

{ 172 comments… read them below }

  1. Temperance*

    What if Sam sets Doug up as a biller in the org bank account, so he can cut a check electronically? Better for Sam to be able to easily track payments for tax purposes, too.

    1. DrSalty*

      This is a good idea. They should set up a way for Sam to directly transfer money to Doug’s bank account (assuming he has one).

      1. Observer*

        They don’t even have to transfer it electronically. If Sam can just set the payment to go it doesn’t matter if it gets transferred electronically or the bank actually sends a check. It’s done, there is a record in the bank account and Sam doesn’t need to keep track of this added task.

        1. I am Emily's failing memory*

          Yep, back in the day I had my rent money sent to my landlord (a woman whose basement I was renting while she lived upstairs; not a company) this way. Just entered her name and our address as a custom payee, set up a recurring payment in the amount of my monthly rent to be delivered on the 1st of each month, and every month they cut a paper check and mailed it to her, and it withdrew from my account when she cashed it the same way it would if it had been a personal check I wrote. Except I didn’t have to worry about keeping checks on hand or remembering to send it on time each month.

          1. Pugetkayak*

            I’m wondering though if its difficult because the amount is always different based on how many gigs they do and how much actually do.

            1. Kelsi*

              Even if he had to enter the amount manually every time, this would allow him to do it electronically at the same time he does everyone else’s payments, so I think it would still work out!

        2. Katrinka*

          This is how customers pay us all the time.We get several hundred “online checks” a week. The actual transaction is more like an EFT/ACH, but we are sent a paper check that we scan along with regular checks. And I can tell that a lot of the customers set these up to go automatically, because the amounts don’t always mesh (they skipped a month of service, but the check came anyway, so now they have a credit that keeps rolling forward OR they put the wrong amount in initially, so now EVERY month the payment is wrong).

      2. Heidi*

        Yeah, I’m starting to wonder if the problem is that Doug doesn’t have a bank account (like he’s living off the grid). If that were the case, he could cash checks, but there’s no place to direct deposit the money. Would it be possible to just let Doug know that his check is at the office and make it his responsibility to pick it up? This is how we did it when I worked at the mall back in the day.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          It actually doesn’t matter if he has a bank account – this feature is a physical check that’s mailed by your bank to the recipient.

        2. Hannah Lee*

          The problem is that Sam doesn’t have a system for ensuring he pays everyone.

          He should be able to set up a reminder on his phone, at the same time he’s Venmo-ing everyone else, that says “Pay Doug tomorrow” And then he can send the check via online bill pay with his bank, or by physically writing out a check, etc.

    2. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s a good idea! I used to do this when I had a landlord who only accepted checks and their office was inconvenient to get to. I set it up as a bill in my bank account and the bank would send a physical check to their office’s location, made it a lot easier on me.

      1. Sally*

        I do this with my monthly condo fee. There are two units in the condo association, & the check literally just needs to go downstairs in the neighbor’s mail slot, but I kept forgetting to do it! So my bank sends a check every month, and I don’t have to worry about it.

      2. SpaceySteph*

        Yes came to suggest this as well. I used to pay my water bill this way because their online bill pay was from the stone age. The bank printed and mailed a check for me.

        1. Random Bystander*

          Same here, as far as water bill/city’s system for on-line involves extra fees, while my bank will print and mail a check for me with no extra charges. The only thing might be (for the LW situation) if the payee has a change of address, that would have to be updated.

          1. Dawn*

            That’s crazy, who charges an additional fee to make it more convenient for your customers to pay their bills?

            1. DisgruntledPelican*

              Lots of places charge fees if you pay with credit card in order to cover the cost of the fee the company has to pay to run a credit card.

              1. Hound Dog (Nothing But)*

                A lot of places are also adding a convenience fee even if you pay straight from a checking account – something lkke 1.5% instead of 3% for a credit card.

                I’ve been taking liberal advantage of my bank’s billpay feature to avoid that nonesense.

    3. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Just came in here to suggest this. I use this to make charitable donations to a local place that does not have an electronic pay portal. With my bank it’s on the same portal as my Zelle payment system too so it’s not even a vastly different system. Chase mails them a paper check, and I’ve never had it take longer than about 5 business days.

    4. Dust Bunny*


      Sam can hate it all he wants but it’s still on him to figure out a system to make it work, and this seems like a good idea.

      1. Danish*

        Hm. Yes and no. It is Sam’s responsibility to pay Doug, but I actually think Sam is being really flexible, letting Doug dictate how he gets paid when he is the only one doing so. I mean, I’ve never had a job that let me do that, outside of direct deposit vs physical check. If I had been like “actually I’d like you to use a third way that no one else in the company uses” I’d expect to be told “that’s too bad”

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          “outside of direct deposit vs physical check”

          But that’s what this is? He is saying he wants a physical check.

          1. Danish*

            True – the point I was making was that I have never been given the option to choose a method of payment that isn’t already being offered. In this case, the check is abnormal. I didn’t want to say I hadn’t been given a choice AT ALL and was trying to express that.

            1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

              Since you need to pay your employees and there are people in the US who are incapable of getting a bank account, employers need to be able to offer a check or cash option. The only employers I’ve ever encountered who will not do this are those who put your pay on a debit card, which is even more shady.

              Aside from the method used in this letter (a third-party peer-to-peer payment app) and maybe PayPal (if that is considered different), in addition to cash, check, or deposit, I don’t even know what other kind of monetary method of payment someone could demand.

              1. Hannah Lee*


                And it’s not a super hardship to have to write a check, or enter payment information in a bank’s online bill pay system. I could see if it was something odd like Doug insisting he will only accept pay in cashier’s checks. But just a regular check? Doug’s fine.

        2. lyngend (canada)*

          I’ve never even been given an option. It’s always been up to the owner/manager/etc. And only 1 thing. Usually Direct Deposit. (2 places were check but the rest were Direct Deposit)

    5. JonBob*

      Some banks will send paper checks made out to people/businesses for you. I think at my bank it’s called Bill Pay, but your bank is likely to have something similar. And if they’re big enough there’s likely an app as well.

    6. Observer*

      Add me to the chorus. You may need to set it up on the main site, but it your Bank has an App, it’s pretty sure that once the billing information is set up, you can send checks on from the app.

    7. tlmic*

      setting up a system where the bank writes and mails the check is really a win-win for everyone. I have all my bill payments set up this way.

    8. LadyVet*

      I was going to suggest the same thing; the bank whose app I primarily use to send money via Zelle also lets me set up billers, and I can either send a check or pay electronically (which was helpful before most billers had their own online payment systems).

      If Sam’s using Zelle to pay the other members of the group, he’d only have to switch to a different tab in his bank’s app to have the bank send a check to Doug.

    9. Hamburke*

      Bookkeeper here, coming to say exactly this! Set Doug up as a payee in bill pay and send the check when sam’s paying everybody else!

  2. Mittens, Destroyer of Worlds*

    I hope y’all aren’t using zelle friends & family for your payroll. If something happens you have no protections and your accountant will go insane trying to submit your taxes. Why can’t you guys do a proper direct deposit setup?

    1. Cookie*

      The original post said the workers are 1099, which would mean the org is not withholding for them. That said, I wouldn’t want to be paid by Zelle!

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        I haven’t explored the business side of Zelle much, but at least for my bank the electronic bill pay runs out of the same portal as Zelle & they’re bank secured payments. Direct deposit would probably be better but Zelle is slightly more secure than Venmo and some of the sister cash sharing sites.

        I’m not recommending it, mind you, but given that it sounds like there’s a tiny admin team this is not the worst solution I’ve ever seen.

      2. Ashloo*

        I was 1099 for years and only had payments with direct deposit into a bank account.

        I don’t understand why someone would want a paper check going to their parents’ house. That seems so inconvenient.

        1. Lady_Lessa*

          Some folks tend to be wary of electronic banking because of their (their church’s) interpretation of the Revelations.

          1. Amy Farrah Fowler*

            Or many instances of bank fraud… My spouse and I had to change banks due to numerous bank fraud issues. I refuse to use zelle, cashapp, venmo, paypal, anything except the billpay through my bank account.

            Using the billpay through your bank is also more secure than a check. If you send someone a paper check, you literally have given them enough information to steal your identity – your name, address, a copy of your signature, your bank account number and routing number. When you do billpay and they send a paper check it doesn’t have your account number, address, etc, it has a dummy account number that is provided by the bank.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Zelle is integrated with most banks. Your call, of course, but it’s definitely more secure than venmo/cashapp/whatever.

              1. Anon Non- Third Party Banker*

                Key words here – “Zelle is integrated with most banks.”

                My originally military personnel only credit union won’t allow access to any third party cash transfer platforms. However they have very, very good options using their own platform and security to send electronic or physical checks for you instead. If I was in Doug’s shoes I’d be asking if setting up a payment via direct deposit would be possible, and if not asking for the check. I don’t want to have to get a new account for a side job payment.

              2. David*

                Huh, in what way is Zelle more secure than Venmo? I’ve usually heard it the other way around, i.e. Venmo provides slightly better fraud protection because it has some ability to hold or reverse payments whereas with Zelle the money is gone the moment you send it. (Of course there’s a lot more to security than fraud protection but I don’t know how they compare in other aspects.)

                1. JustSomeone*

                  I am virtually certain Zelle is less secure than PayPal or Venmo, just based on the number of internet scammers who try to convince me to accept Zelle payments for some items I’ve been selling on Facebook marketplace and Craigslist. I deliberately avoid getting Zelle for this exact reason; I figure it scammers want me to use it, I probably shouldn’t.

            2. lyonite*

              I don’t use Zelle because you have to install the app, and I refuse to have my bank account attached to anything on my phone, for security reasons.

              1. ThatGirl*

                Do you do any electronic banking? Of course, your life, your call, but I love my mobile banking app and my phone is about as secure as any device gets.

                1. Aurion*

                  Different person (and circumstances), but in my case I use my phone for about 4-5 years until it’s truly unusable, and I stop getting security updates by about year 2. Electronic banking on my personal computer feels safer to me because of that; at least I still regularly get windows updates!

                  Maybe bank apps are really tightly sandboxed from the rest of the phone OS despite any updates or lack thereof, I dunno.

                2. AcademiaNut*

                  I don’t do banking on my phone, or have my bank account attached to anything on my phone. Part of it is security, and part of it is that I have to do banking in a language I’m not fluent in, and using a laptop (or preferably in person) makes it much easier to figure out what I’m doing.

                3. Hannah Lee*

                  I’m with lyonite. No banking activity, links on my phone.
                  And I do plenty of online banking from a desktop computer, using the banks’ online portals.

                  I was reminded of a couple of reasons why that’s so when my mobile provider messed up my account last month and I had zero access to my number, texts or data for a couple of weeks. At one point they were claiming they’d never be able to get my number working again, and it would have created an incredible hassle to get the 2Fa and other access links updated to a new number if I no longer had access to the old number, and make sure whoever got assigned my old number as a “new” number didn’t somehow get linked to my financial life. (not just the old number on that phone, but any on any device … it’s like they’ just *poofed* the number I’d had for 15 years).

                  And also while I was at the mobile “store” for hours on multiple days trying to get it fixed, there were several different people who came in with issues around fraudulent financial activity being processed by the mobile carrier which had sucked their checking accounts dry and created massive problems in their financial lives.

                  Sure those are things that happen rarely. And some folks may think it’s silly to consider them. But when they do happen? It’s a mess. And it’s easy enough for me to avoid even having to think of them, by just making that a flat policy: no financial or banking data on my mobile phone.

          2. Anon Supervisor*

            Some people do not have a bank account unrelated to their faith. I knew people who were so bad with their money that their bank shut down their account because it was seriously overdrawn. Other people I’ve know were shitty deadbeat dads who only worked for cash in order to avoid paying child support.

          3. Ally McBeal*

            Good grief. I escaped fundamentalist evangelicalism around 18 years ago and completely forgot about the weird implications for banking. My family’s church wasn’t that radical but I was fully aware that others were. (Thanks, Left Behind series!)

        2. Jojo*

          My brother still insists on getting a paper check mailed to him instead of direct deposit. He also refuses to send texts, and brags about still having a flip phone. He says it’s because he doesn’t trust technology and doesn’t want anyone to be able to get a record of his texts. He’s not a conspiracy theorist, just a quirky guy who HATES change. If his company ever forces him to go with direct deposit I don’t even want to think about how long that phone call will be. (Which could be wrapped up over text in 30 seconds, but OMG texts!)

          Sometimes you just have to accept people with all of their weirdness included. (But my heart goes out to the tellers at my brother’s bank. He chats with them for like half an hour every time he goes in to deposit a check.)

            1. metadata minion*

              The flip phone I had before I got my first smartphone (I was a relatively late adopter, so this wasn’t a particularly ancient flip phone) *could* send texts, but it was incredibly fiddly to do and I only ever used it for emergencies.

          1. Lirael*

            I’m astonished that it’s possible to get paid like this in the US tbh. It’s a long time since I heard of anyone with a legit job getting paid any way other than directly into their bank account.

            1. lyngend (canada)*

              had a job 2014 that paid by checks because they claimed it was cheaper to do that then direct deposit. They are still issuing checks (not taking enough taxes, and only paying their employees once a month, though the law requires employers to pay at least 2x a month)

              1. Hamburke*

                It is by about a quarter per check vs direct deposit on the payroll invoice. I just did the math for a new client – if you have to mail a paper check, that’s 60c postage plus you need check stock (35c per check) plus 10c for the check front envelope, plus my time entering checks into QuickBooks, printing, stuffing envelopes and getting them into the mail, so really, you aren’t actually saving anything and it’s costing you about $1 more per check.

            2. zinzarin*

              IANAL, but I don’t think it would be legal to refuse to pay an employee just because they didn’t want to use the payment method the employer prefers. If an employee doesn’t have a bank account, or doesn’t want to supply it for direct deposit, the employer still needs to find a way to pay the employee.

              Yes, direct deposit is by far the most common way to pay people these days, but I don’t think you can mandate it.

                1. No Thanks in Advance*

                  I’m a state employee, and when we accept our jobs, we accept that using direct deposit is a condition of employment.

                2. RagingADHD*

                  Even in states where it is legal to require DD, it is not legal to have the employee do work, and then refuse to pay them.

                  If Sam doesn’t want to pay by check, he needs to quit hiring Doug altogether. Not accept his work and then act like it’s just too hard to give him the money.

            3. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Not everyone has a bank account. It’s not as common but you need to pay people.

              You can legally require people to get direct deposit but it’s not always worth the fight.

            4. BasketcaseNZ*

              In New Zealand, NONE of the banks will accept a physical cheque anymore. Everything has to be done in either actual cash or electronically.

              1. allathian*

                Yes, same thing applies in Finland. Except for traveler’s checks, I don’t think checks are even legal tender here. Heck, many vendors refuse to accept cash. They stopped accepting cash during the pandemic and haven’t gone back to it. Only essential services, like grocery stores and pharmacies, are obligated by law to accept cash. Small vendors can choose which payment methods they accept, and many refuse to accept cash because it’s a robbery risk, and they’re unlikely to want to attract people who don’t have a bank account, mainly illegal immigrants and people without a fixed abode.

                Banks aren’t allowed to close the accounts of people who become homeless just for lacking a fixed address, it’s just that without a fixed address, you can’t open a bank account. It’s also perfectly legal for employers to require a bank account as a condition of employment. Most do, because if they don’t, they’ll get checked regularly to ensure that they aren’t employing illegal immigrants.

                Thankfully there are some workarounds for legal immigrants on a work visa, because it can take up to 6 months to open a bank account, the bureaucracy is horrible.

            5. Maestra*

              My husband only recently started getting direct deposit because he never had his own bank account- which is a story for another day-and didn’t realize he could use our joint account.

              So this is the say that for 15 years of our relationship he was manually depositing checks into our joint account. Although in the past few years he was at least doing it via phone.

            6. What's a check?*

              My company (finally!) went to direct deposit this year. Prior to this, we got paid weekly and every checked was signed by hand. During our peak season, we could have close to 500 employees, so basically signing checks was only thing one of the owner’s did once a week. They did have a signature stamp, but he didn’t like to use it.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                Man, if I had a signature stamp, I’d use it ALL THE TIME. Checks. Credit card receipts. Birthday cards. Hall passes.

            7. Hannah Lee*

              In the years I’ve done payroll it’s always been a requirement that the employer makes “live checks” be an option the company has to provide if an employee requests it. The employer also has to provide hard copy pay statements if requested and can’t just say “log into the payroll portal and look it up”

              Some states allow employers to require employees get paid by direct deposit, but others do not:


          2. Harried HR*

            We are in a State that allows us to use Direct Deposit or Pay Cards instead of Paper Checks. The switch over was hilarious the 3 people who were die hard Paper Check proponents lost their ever loving minds !!!! 6 months later they have each stopped me in the hall to tell me how great having a Pay Card is ! {Facepalm}

          3. Lydia*

            It’s so interesting where people draw the line on what is “technology.” The Amish eschew technology…except what do they think a horse and carriage are? Even buttons are a form of technology.

              1. Spooky All Year*

                It depends on the sect. Some allow plain buttons, and some only allow pins or hook-and-eye closure as buttons are too close to ornamentation.

          1. zinzarin*

            That could have been the post office, too. If they were notified that Doug didn’t live there anymore, but weren’t given a forwarding address, Return to Sender is exactly what would happen to any mail addressed to Doug. (This also happens if the forwarding from a change of address has expired.)

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I’m also betting the parents had notified the post office that Doug had moved because they were tired of getting all his junk mail – without realizing it would also return all of his payments and bills as well.

        3. Hamburke*

          The company paying doesn’t have to send 1099s when paying with zelle/cash app/Venmo/PayPal (or if you pay a vendor with a credit card). The processor is now required to do that (new for ’22!) So it’s more popular for small biz. As a bookkeeper, I hate it! It’s tied to a person, not a business, so transfers sometimes go to their personal accounts or vice versa and there’s not an accountant login so I’m always asking my clients to tell me who paid them so I can clear invoices.

      3. Violinrunner*

        Freelance musician and violin teacher here, I was resistant to electronic payment until 2020, when I suddenly never saw my students in person to collect payment from them. I accept Payment by Zelle, cash, or check only. Also a number of contractors in the wedding music industry will only use online payment. I find Zelle to be professional, with easy records keeping, and generally trustworthy.

        I will not even download Venmo onto my phone however, which made it really fun when a contractor did indeed pay me by Venmo in spite of me saying I don’t use it…

      4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I get a band/small acting troupe vibe from the letter (gigs and rehearsals). So I’m wondering if Sam is the leader and as such gets the lump payment from the person who hired them and then he splits off everyone’s share.

        And I think there is something to be said for a comment up above that Doug doesn’t have an actual bank account, hence needing the paper check – because anywhere that does money orders will cash a check for you (for a fee).
        But you may be able to set up an electronic bill with your bank to cut him a check.

        And since OP seems slightly more organized, or could just have one less task and has extra bandwidth to pick something up – maybe they could be the person in charge of creating the bill for Doug.

      5. Mittens, Destroyer of Worlds*

        My concern isn’t so much the physical check vs electronic but that zelle and PayPal etc you choose a payment category. If they’re paying employees under the friends and family category that money is gone the second you hit send and there’s really no way to get it back should it have been an over payment or to the wrong account.

        Yes there are higher fees if you choose business or goods and services but that makes it easier to track and there are some rudimentary protections on those transactions.

        I’m hoping that the company isn’t trying to save on fees by paying people with the friends and family category. The employees’ accountants will have to suss out what was paycheck and what was paying a friend for a takeout order.

    2. Warrior Princess Xena*

      speaking as an accountant this is actually less terrible than some of the solutions I’ve seen clients come up with. It’s not a good solution, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the worst.

    3. DyneinWalking*

      Seriously. Direct deposit is how most employees in countries that aren’t the US are getting payed! No need to use an app for something that can be done with the bank directly.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        it’s how a lot of employees who are in the US are getting paid. I haven’t gotten a paper paycheck in at least twenty years, even from small-business jobs.

        1. PlainJane*

          Same. I wouldn’t go back for anything! My money just shows up, I don’t have to go to the bank, it’s beautiful. I think it was the early 2000s when I switched.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        I’m betting the majority of employees in the US are getting paid by direct deposit too. I don’t have proof, but I haven’t gotten a check since graduating from college. (I can’t recall how my college paid me as a student worker.)

        Although these folks are not employees; they’re contractors.

        1. Robin*

          Last time I got checks might have been high school? I was working at a mountain resort, and best I remember we had to go pick up our checks every other week. But that was long, long ago and they were not a particularly tech savvy place to begin with.

        2. Lizzo*

          I am a contractor and vendors are more than willing to set up direct deposit for me if it’s available. It has saved me many headaches trying to track down paper checks.

        3. Bee*

          I got paid by check at my last job, which I left in 2019 (I’m fairly certain the owner would’ve set up direct deposit in 2020). But that was a three-person outfit.

        4. Anon Supervisor*

          My company even encourages us to opt out of paper pay stubs (which I did immediately) because it was cheaper and saved paper. Plus, with direct deposit, I get paid a day earlier than when I was getting paper checks (not such a big deal for me now, but when I started at my company, it was stressful because sometimes I wouldn’t get my check until Saturday).

      3. Le Sigh*

        Can’t speak for other countries, but there are still a number of people in the US who don’t have a bank account at all, for any number of reasons. It’s possible Doug is one of them.

        1. Working with Professionals*

          Agreed. My company pays those folks with a no fee electronic card. No paper payroll checks anymore. The cards are recharged each pay day.

        2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Count me part of team “Doug doesn’t have a bank account” as well. Which means he may not be able to be part of those cash transfer apps.

        3. RishaBree*

          Some banks apparently do a credit check before giving you one. Which has always seemed nonsensical to me, because cash, but I just double checked and apparently it’s not your credit score they’re looking at, it’s your banking history (looking for a history of frequent overdrafts and bounced checks, etc).

          1. Le Sigh*

            Yeah, you can struggle to get an account if you have that history. There are also people who don’t trust banks or people who can’t afford the fees or don’t meet the minimum requirements (i.e., keeping a daily balance of at least $50, etc.).

          2. Anon Supervisor*

            I’ve known several people who cannot get a bank account because of their account history with overdrafts. I mean, it’s technically illegal to write checks that you know are bad, so I get why banks run history checks for prospective customers.

      4. KateM*

        When my kid was 13 and had a two-week job in summer, having a bank account for salary was a requirement…

    4. Emma*

      I’m curious, since there are lots of people in this thread with experience of both Zelle and direct deposit, and I’m from the UK so I’ve never used either: what’s the difference? Why would someone choose one over the other?

      For reference, here in the UK most people use “faster payment” bank transfers for everything. You open your bank’s app or website, enter the payee’s name and bank details and the amount you want to send, and money is transferred electronically and arrives in the recipient’s bank within 2 hours. I use this to send money to friends, it’s how I receive my wages, and it’s how I used to pay my rent. I thought this was basically the same as direct deposit, but maybe not?

      1. Danish*

        If Sam is more or less just a defacto leader of a group of independents/contractors, I don’t know if DD is actually available. Since they’re not actually a company, there’s no “payroll office” from which to make direct deposits, no company owner so much as Sam who books gigs and everyone who shows up and gets paid by him.

        I don’t know if a normal, uh, citizen can do direct deposits, actually. When I send money from my bank account to my roommate for rent, for example, I use Zelle, because it’s the only option my bank has for person-to-person transfers (at least online. Maybe if I went in person they’d do it another way.)

        1. Danish*

          That is to say – I think the only difference is that DD is for Actual Businesses and it sounds like Sam &co are just a group of people who get together to perform sometimes. Still “coworkers”, especially if Sam is defacto leader who is in charge of getting them work (and presumably accepts payment).

          The Faster Payment you describe does sound like DD, though I think here they take at least a business day. Zelle can take up to 3.

        2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

          I think you just need to set up direct deposit with a bank or with, like, Quickbooks to be able to direct deposit to people. You may need to have a business account or be a registered business or something. It’s not hugely inaccessible for small business owners. If you’re able to set up people as 1099 contractors, you can get direct deposit. It does cost money to do, though, which might be prohibitive to Sam.

      2. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        I don’t know for 100% why, but when I started watching kdramas I looked around for why we don’t have convenient peer to peer bank transfers in the US. The answer is due to regulations (I don’t remember if they are legal regulations or banking industry ones), transfers are not instant and can take days for fear of fraud, and also for that reason they have never wanted to make it an easy everyday thing.

        Zelle (which I do not use) is a recent attempt to do that, in response to the popularity of peer-to-peer payment apps. My bank also now allows me to set up basically a friends list that I can send money to in their own app. But no instant transfers to previously unknown accounts using just account numbers like I see in kdramas.

      3. Fran*

        I was told it is because banks in the US are less regulated. I’m in Canada and just e-transfer through my bank, just need their name and email (and they set it up on their end- they can do autodeposit or have a password). I believe some accounts charge for etransfers (you open diff type of accounts). We don’t have Venemo or Zelle either

  3. Danish*

    Well, I’m glad things worked out more or less okay! Looking at Alison’s original update and this response, I do think it sounds like you’re still taking on a lot of responsibility for these two adult men when it comes to communication, BUT I do recognize that this was all complicated by you all being friends as well as coworkers and hurt feelings matter a lot in those scenarios. You were almost the ‘neutral party’ to broker peace and all’s well that ends well.

    1. MigraineMonth*

      Yeah, this reminds me of when I was trying way too hard to be the family “glue”. It made me feel important (“I’m keeping everyone happy and the family together!”), but it was also frustrating and exhausting. It was really liberating to say, “You know what, you can work on the relationships you want to keep. Leave me out of the arguments.”

    2. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      So much this. LW, you are carrying some real emotional and social weight for the men in your life. You don’t have to.

  4. Dust Bunny*

    When I said “bounced” I was trying to convey that Sam had sent it, it was never cashed, and it was mailed back to us.

    That is not at all what “bounced” means when it comes to checks so it’s no wonder we were all confused?

    1. Sara*

      I can understand OP using the word though, I sometime refer to mail thats been sent back as being bounced back. Unfortunately it has a much different meaning when talking specifically about checks.

    2. zinzarin*

      I wonder if she’s conflating email with paper mail. Email definitely gets bounced back to sender.

      1. Sorrischian*

        And if, like me, LW rarely or never uses checks (I have paid or been paid with a check exactly three times in my entire life), the associated terminology might not be as obvious as it is to folks who actually use/used them on a regular basis.

        1. Danish*

          That’s an interesting point I hadn’t really considered. I personally haven’t used a physical check in over five years, and even past that it was mostly one-offs to people who were “behind the times”, so to speak, for at least ten. This obviously doesn’t apply to the LW (having been with Sam for 10 years prior to all of this means she’s at least my age, I imagine), but now I’m curious if the concept of a ‘bounced check’ is something that, say, a 22 year old born in 2000 would really have much perception of.

  5. Lilo*

    I think my advice remains the same: Sam needs to talk to an accountant and get his payment systems set up better.

    1. Lydia*

      Sam seems to be doing all right with the payment methods for everyone else. It’s Doug that’s the issue.

      1. Anon Non- Third Party Banker*

        And it seems like Doug is the issue because he’s the only one not accepting an electronic payment method.

        Though to be fair – my bank doesn’t accept linkages to third party cash transfer platforms, so I’d probably be exploring with Sam an alternate way to get my payments as well.

  6. arim*

    re: paying Doug: you can still do this on your phone! Your bank probably has bill pay and you can do it on the app. So just go into bill pay, tell it to send Doug a one-off check for the money, and it’ll go within a day or so.

    1. Manders*

      I manage my small condo association, and I was astonished at how many people did not know that they could set up bill pay through their bank account. Many of the people still write a check and mail it for their monthly fee (and we aren’t a bunch of elderly people, either!).

  7. Meghan*

    I mean, is it possible to carry a checkbook? Then just literally write the check for Doug right then and there?

      1. DisgruntledPelican*

        One of the ways to solve this is to say direct deposit is required. At least they seem to want to be accommodating to Doug.

    1. Pants*

      My friend works at a staffing agency. You can get direct deposit or a refillable cash card. That’s it. This is definitely a workplace issue.

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      These are musicians doing gigs; it’s doubtful that Sam is present at every one. He also pays for rehearsals at the end of the month, so he’s definitely not in the same physical location as the artists.

    3. Eulerian*

      I was a treasurer for an orchestra – our cheques (because of the bank we were using) had to be signed by two signatories, not one. When we had to pay people by cheque (which did happen time to time) it could make it challenging. Or at least less simple.

    4. Nodramalama*

      Maybe this is because cheques still seem to be used way more in the U.S than Australia because we have very easy and free bank-to-bank transfers, but I wouldn’t even know how to get a cheque book, let alone how to write one.

  8. LovelyTresses*

    Could Sam cut the check to Doug BEFORE the events and bring it to the events and give it to Doug as he’s sending the electronic payments to everyone else?

    1. gigs and paychecks*

      Yes. This is how most musicians are paid in my area. We get paid by paper check at the gig. A lot of these gigs are for institutions/orgs that have double signatories for checks.

      I work for a state school (higher ed) and they require direct deposit, no exceptions. But then there was the time that I picked up a new class and they paid me for that by paper check and told me I needed to set up direct deposit. I had already worked for them for a couple of years and they had all my info!

  9. Anomie*

    It’s not hard to remember to pay someone working for you. Reminders can also be set on a phone or email. Some people don’t want to use electronic cash transfers.

    1. Danish*

      “It’s not hard to–”

      For you.

      It’s 2022, we know there are all sorts of reasons why a person might forget to do something important.

      1. Gerry Keay*

        This comment… is a joke right??? We’re going to start excusing employers NOT PAYING their employees because they… what, might be neurodivergent or going through a hard time?? I’m sorry but no. Paying employees is not just “something important” — it is an employers most essential ethical and legal duty.

        1. Zorak*

          I agree. Don’t be that person. It does more harm to genuine efforts at raising awareness about these issues to turn it into this kind of reflexive “make everything about my pet issue” comment. It makes things a slog.

          Paying your employees should be so critical to an employer that it’s not hard to remember. That’s the point of the original post. This is not a great opportunity to try to haul us into ADHD discourse.

          1. AMT*

            Yep. I have ADHD. I pay my contractors promptly. It’s not easy for me to remember these things, but…that’s what alarms are for. That’s what auto-payments are for. That’s what putting my checkbook into my bag before I go out is for. That’s what my calendar is for. It’s not my fault my memory is full of holes, but that doesn’t make it any less of my responsibility to figure out—and if I truly *couldn’t* do it reliably, I should NOT be hiring contractors!

            Neurodivergent people are not babies. The rules of being a decent person still apply.

        2. Kella*

          I think the objection here is specifically to the phrase “It’s not hard to…..” I think a more helpful framework to apply here is “Paying your employees consistently and on time should be seen as both ethically and legally important enough that it is obviously worthwhile to invest the energy to find a system where it consistently happens successfully.”

          It can both be true that it *is* hard for a specific employer to do this, and that doesn’t in any way negate the fact that they are legally required to figure out that challenge for themselves.

          1. Danish*

            Yes, thank you. All I meant with my comment was that I think in 2022 its well past time people stop blithely saying “its easy for [people not me] to do [things i find easy]”.

            1. Eirene*

              That argument (which I happen to agree with in other contexts) would work a lot better if we weren’t talking about putting someone’s ability to pay their rent and buy food on the line, not to mention the actual legal ramifications of not receiving their paycheck. Would you be this gracious if you were Doug, and someone told you that it was “hard” to remember to consistently pay you on time? I’d be willing to bet that you’d be having quite a different reaction. You don’t mess with other people’s money, period. That is one of those few things in life that is genuinely not at all hard to keep in mind when you are in charge of other people’s money.

              1. Roland*

                No one is asking for grace or making excuses. They literally just said “it can be hard” and then clarified that it can be hard and ALSO important. It feels like you’ve gone beyond a bad-faith reading and into implying people said things they didn’t say.

              2. Danish*

                Hello! I am in no way commenting on anything happening in the letter! I agree it is fully Sam’s responsibility to do whatever is necessary to remember. I was specifically addressing usage of the phrase “It’s not hard to–“, which I wish people would stop using for actions taken by other people.

              3. Danish*

                Let me be more clear: I am not asking for grace for Sam. I am asking the commentariat to be more thoughtful with the words and phrases they use.

                You could absolutely apply your argument without change to “heavy profanity”. Heavy profanity is, if not a reasonable, then an understandable response (from doug, anyway) to a missed paycheck! Asking *commenters* to not use heaby profanity is also reasonable.

              4. Kella*

                There’s a big difference between using “But it’s hard” as an excuse, vs. just describing something as hard for you, in a factual way. “It is hard but worthwhile” is an approach that people have for lots of things. That can also apply to tasks that many people find easy. No one is saying that you need to be more forgiving if someone finds it hard. We’re only saying it’s untrue that any given task is universally “not hard.”

    2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      You mean like this –“Sam actually does like Doug a lot and wants to accommodate him so he just sets reminders for himself to do it.”

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      And if it’s just one person who wants to use a completely different payment method from anybody else….when was the last time most of us carried a physical check book with them everywhere we went?

    4. nodramalama*

      1) Sam WAS paying him, the cheque was returned, and 2) OP said Sam is setting reminders on his phone, but is annoyed that he has to have a separate system just for Dave. Which personally i think is fair.

  10. AR*

    So basically what you’re saying is you didn’t take any of Alison’s advice and nothing has been resolved.

    1. zinzarin*

      Well, given the miscommunication in the letter (the check getting “bounced”), much of Alison’s advice didn’t apply. Alison was basing her advice on an employee that hadn’t gotten paid, but they really had been paid.

      It also sounds like most of the issues have been resolved (“Everything personally is resolved, the three of us still work together, and it’s going really well.”), outside of finding a failure-proof way to pay Doug.

        1. zinzarin*

          I’d been led to understand that Ask a Manager takes questioners at face value. So, if she says it’s resolved, we believe her. Resolved for her doesn’t need to match what resolved for you would be. She says it’s resolved except for finding a better way to pay Doug. Good enough for me!

          1. Curmudgeon*

            Not good enough for Doug as he isn’t getting paid regularly so no, I wouldn’t call this one resolved ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Alison’s advice is still applicable if they haven’t found a failure-proof way to pay Doug. That’s still a very real problem.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          It’s not completely resolved, true. But at least some of this I’m going to put on Doug for wanting paper checks and not keeping his employer updated on his mailing address.

    2. Delphine*

      It’s an update, not a perfect resolution. Not every person who is generous enough to send updates is going to have followed all of Alison’s advice and some of them will not have resolved the core issues of their problem. Instead of being snippy, move on.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      People don’t owe it to me or to readers to take my advice! It’s her life and her choices, not ours. I still want people to send in updates, and I want them to be treated kindly when they do.

    4. Kella*

      This is untrue and unfair. In the original letter, there were several main issues:

      1. Doug hadn’t been paid
      2. There was a personal conflict between Doug, Sam, and OP
      3. There wasn’t a good system in place for making sure that Doug got paid in a timely manner
      4. OP was taking too much responsibility for all these problems.

      1 and 2 have definitely been resolved at this point. It sounds like #3 has not, but in order for #4 to be resolved, it’s not OP’s responsibility to get Sam and Doug to create a system that works for both of them. OP cannot solve #3.

      This whole issue was never OP’s responsibility to solve in the first place, which *was* Alison’s advice.

  11. Just Your Everyday Crone*

    People are grumpy today! The problem with the payments is NOT that Doug isn’t getting paid. Sam is paying Doug, he just doesn’t like to have to do a separate system (and I’m with him, it would annoy me). But he IS paying him by check: “Sam hates it and I understand why. It’s harder to remember to do this for just one person, but it’s Doug’s preference and Sam actually does like Doug a lot and wants to accommodate him so he just sets reminders for himself to do it.”

    1. Paris Geller*

      Kinda glad to see someone expressively saying that people seem to be grumpy today (and lately!) I feel like so many of the updates this season have quite a few commenters (not the majority, but a noticeable uptick from an avid reader) who seem determined to read every update & post in the worst possible way lately. What’s with people?

      1. Anon Non- Third Party Banker*

        I’ve noticed as well.

        And honestly, sometimes the process of writing for advice and then getting that advice helps us notice different things we can try in order to solve the issue. So asking for advice still helps, even if not in the way we thought.

    2. RagingADHD*

      The problem was that when the original check wasn’t delivered, Sam took exactly zero responsibility for making sure Doug got paid, despite ample opportunities and means to do so. And then he threw a tantrum when Doug rightfully became frustrated at having to chase the payment due to him.

      And then it somehow became LWs problem to mediate a situation that should not have been a conflict to begin with. The correct and ethical response to Doug’s frustration – or really, to the original return of the check – would be apologies from Sam and a great deal of urgent effort to get Doug paid.

      The fact that Sam hasn’t actually taken constructive measures to put a robust system in place means this will continue to happen, when it should not. If an employer has such bad executive dysfunction that they can’t remember pay their workers, a phone reminder isn’t going to work for very long.

      As soon as Sam gets into an unusual or particularly chaotic situation, that reminder will become background noise, and Doug will be back to chasing his payment and being painted as the bad guy for wanting the money he was promised.

  12. Olive*

    This all still seems incredibly exhausting. I hope that Sam will look into a better payment system. Checks are still very common and most banking systems have a mailing option.

  13. Foley*

    I’m not a fan of this…we can only pay you via PayPal/Venmo/Zelle trend.

    I’ve been told this for money I’m owed, and I always push back. I understand how all of these work, but they’re a hassle for me as a recipient – transferring money to my bank, keeping track of the sender because it’s no longer obvious.

    Small businesses really need to figure out wire/direct deposit/electronic cheks. It’s super simple (easier than setting up these auxiliary accounts). And to the point someone else raised, I’ve seen many small businesses get in trouble mixing friends/family with payments for goods/services. It’s a mess to clean up.

    1. Roland*

      Zelle goes directly into your bank account, it doesn’t require any extra work for the recipient and it says the sender’s name so there’s no trouble knowing who it’s from.

  14. ferrina*

    LW, I’m really glad that this situation was resolved, but I’m still a bit worried for you. I don’t love that you had to step in and mediate this- why didn’t Sam apologize and walk back his words?

    Sam’s behavior still has me worried. He didn’t resolve the issue- you did. And he indirectly blamed you for his behavior (“I was offended on how you treated LW!”), rather than letting you manage your own relationship with Doug or taking responsibility for his own actions. There seems to be a pattern of Sam not acknowledging his own actions and you fixing things for him. I didn’t see an apology in what you described- he just said that he was standing up for you (casting himself as the good guy standing up for the damsel, rather than someone that improperly escalated a work conversation). Maybe this is an isolated incident, but I expect not. This type of behavior is childish and not okay, no matter what the reason. Good luck, LW.

  15. HufferWare*

    This entire scenario is like 80% of every arts space/organization everywhere lol! It seems like this organization could benefit from an actual board where none of the members are romantically involved with each other to address issues without bias and also hold key organizers accountable.

  16. UBG*

    Sam needs to set up a real payroll system and stop using Zelle. This is just asking for trouble. Something like Gusto or any of the nanny payroll systems will handle all the paperwork, tax filings, and record keeping needed for businesses with employees or contractors. If everyone is 1099, Bill.com and similar tools will work and can cut Doug a check if he insists.

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