should we hire a candidate who’s unhappy with the salary?

A reader writes:

We’re looking for a temp to come in and cover one of my colleagues, Melissa, who is going on extended medical leave for six months. The staffing agency has sent us lots of candidates, but only one of them had the skills we were looking for.

Anne has a few years of experience with a similar role. We loved her until we started talking about salary. Melissa makes around $25 an hour, which is average for our area and her role. Because of the cost of covering Melisandre’s paid leave and the cut the staffing agency takes, Anne would be earning about half that.

When we offered her the position, Anne indicated that she thought she’d do a great job, but that the salary wasn’t fair considering her experience and education and asked if it was negotiable. I told her flat-out that this was the budget we had and she could take it or leave it. She asked to get back to us a few days later after she had time to talk with her husband, but that it would be a stretch for them. I thought that was very unprofessional. We’re a large local employer, and we told her that after six months it was possible to move into a full-time role with benefits if she performed well. It’s hard to get a position here at all, and this is a great opportunity to make connections. It’s not like she has a job right now either.

She called to accept the position, but now I don’t want to hire her knowing she’s so unhappy with the pay we’re offering. Should I withdraw my offer or take her on anyway?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Are in-person rejections unkind?
  • Should I send anything to an employee who’s out sick for several weeks?
  • My employee plans time off at the last minute

{ 219 comments… read them below }

    1. Sloanicota*

      Yeah it’s not Anne’s problem why you can’t pay (by your own admission) the going rate for the role! And then to hold her feelings against her when she accepts anyway …

        1. OhNoYouDidn't*

          I can’t imagine working for this person. She seems to think it’s a privilege to work at her organization for half of what the job is worth. Unless I was desperate for a job, I’d run for the hills rather than work for someone with an attitude like that.

          1. pope suburban*

            I can, because I had to, and it was miserable. I started with a temp agency and was hired on for half what the agency had been paid. Which was, though not half the rate for the position and my experience level, not a whole lot better. The boss absolutely did think he was doing me a favor by allowing me to get verbally abused by staff and clients alike, with no benefits and no hope of advancement, all so I could try to live on $13/hour in Southern California. I’ve since been especially wary of employers who think of it as a one-sided, benevolent relationship and not a contract between two parties. That kind of thinking creeps into every part of the job, and tends to be especially harmful on the subject of pay.

            1. D*

              Being a perma-temp for garbage pay that they’ll never increase (because they’re already paying you more than what they want to!) while pretending they’ll maybe hire you and make you eligible for the “Real” pay is the worst, and is straight up abusive.

              Also one of them called my temp agency my “supplier” like I was an ink cartridge.

              1. pope suburban*

                Unfortunately, this place did hire me and I was desperate enough that I had to accept their insulting offer, which was only a dollar more than the temp agency had been paying me. But I did the “perma-temp” thing at another company that I actually really liked, and that had booked with the agency as a temp to hire. Their notoriously dysfunctional controller decided she’d rather string me along for a year and a half before ending the contract with the temp agency after I’d left one Friday. No one told me and I’d put in a morning’s work, confused that I couldn’t log in to my email, before the temp agency called me to let me know. The people I worked with were all livid, and the controller’s behavior ended up getting her blacklisted with the temp agency. It wasn’t the agency’s fault in that case, but it still absolutely sucked and yes, it was abusive behavior.

          2. Violet*

            “This is a great opportunity to make connections” gives the same vibe as people who fully expect artists to work only for ‘exposure’

            1. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

              “Great! How do I get my bank to accept ‘connections’ for my mortgage payment?”

            2. Pdweasel*

              All together now…

              *sings* You need to pay for my skills
              ‘Cause exposure doesn’t pay the bills
              It costs that much ‘cause it takes me
              F*cking hours!

          3. Worldwalker*

            The local McDonald’s is advertising jobs for more than Anne was offered. Seriously … she could make more saying “Do you want fries with that?” (well, now anyway; I didn’t check when the letter ran the first time) And the LW thinks it’s unprofessional for Anne to take some time to work out the numbers instead of, apparently, jumping at the half-salary job like a starving wolf? It’s not often that a LW grinds my gears; most are at least somewhat clueful. This one, the one who wouldn’t let her best employee go to her own college graduation, and of course the one complaining about cheapass rolls, are among the few. But now I’m getting gear dust all over my desk.

            1. Reluctant Mezzo*

              For one place, I must study 30 or more hours and pass a four-hour test. For another place, I can make the same amount of money and learn all about fried chicken!

              Ok, I get to sit down and sometimes eat free pizza at the first job, but you see what I’m getting at.

          4. birb*

            I can’t even fathom feeling entitled to SIX MONTHS of someone’s time at half pay to make up your mind on hiring them for full pay and benefits. Sounds like the hiring manager needs training on some core job skills.

        2. Clisby*

          Yes! I can see there’s no guarantee a temp will get pay equal to the person they’re filling in for, but half the pay is ridiculous..

          1. Princess Sparklepony*

            But they should get the full pay because they aren’t getting benefits. Or at least get what the going rate is for that job (the person they are filling in for might have seniority that got them pay raises above the industry standard.)

          2. Ace in the Hole*

            When I temped, I usually got more per hour than a permanent full-time employee doing the same work… because they got benefits, PTO, etc. and I got nothing except my hourly wage.

        3. I Have RBF*

          Yeah, I’m kind of looking askance at Anne for taking it and not laughing it the LWs face. I know some people have to take what they can get, but $12.50/hr is not even a living wage anywhere in the country nowadays.

          1. Observer*

            Whoa. That’s really unfair. Sure, the wage is a joke and the OP honestly sounds like a jerk. But Anne clearly knows that the pay is a joke. Why would you blame *her* for taking what she can get? She was looking for a job in a difficult situation and it’s just not right to blame HER for the attitude of a prospective employer or for thinking hwr situation through and coming to a conclusion that works for her. Even if it’s different that the conclusion you *think* you would draw.

          2. AcademiaNut*

            It’s possible she really needs a job and is having trouble finding one in a tight market. In which case, she’ll probably take the 12.50 an hour, keep looking, quit if she finds something that pays market rate before she (maybe) gets a full pay offer.

            Keeping looking after you accept a job is generally not playing fair, but if you’re offering half a fair market wage, which is half other employees doing the same job at the same company get paid, with no benefits, the employer is not playing fair in the first place and I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for them. They need to expect that their employee pool will consist mostly of people who are desperate for work and will leave the moment they get something better.

            Also – if this is a large local employer, they should be budgeting for covering the occasional short term leave due to illness or pregnancy and not expecting to take the cost out of the replacement’s salary.

            1. Bast*

              My local Taco Bell pays $17.50/hr. I’d rather work there than somewhere with an attitude that I should be “thankful” and that they are being “generous” by offering me a close to minimum wage job (below where I live).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            That’s what I was making at OldExjob before the layoffs. Shockingly, I had a mortgage too, with a very low payment, but still. And that was with a dollar raise because BossWife was afraid I’d leave. There is NO WAY IN HELL I could survive on that salary where I am now.

            It was never enough to make payments on student loans, either. No wonder people get so far behind.

        4. Jellyfish Catcher*

          BUT they could afford to pay Melissa twice as much.
          AND they are rude to Anne.
          AND they want her to work for half a year at half pay.

          I hope that Anne immediately looked for other jobs and got the pay,
          respect, and courtesy that she deserved.

          1. Beth*

            It sounded to me like the reason they’re offering Anne less isn’t that they’re actually paying half of what they were paying Melissa–it’s that what they were paying Melissa is their entire budget, and staffing agency fees and other costs associated with Melissa’s leave are cutting into that.

            But the logical conclusion of that isn’t that Anne should accept half pay. The actual logical conclusion is that OP can’t afford to hire a temp like Anne, who has Melissa’s skills and will be able to fill the role entirely–given their budget, OP should be looking for a temp who’s way less experienced and can help keep the bare-minimum tasks going until Melissa returns. It’s weird and greedy to expect that they can get a full replacement for Melissa, with all the desired experience and skills, while paying half the going rate.

            1. Observer*

              But the logical conclusion of that isn’t that Anne should accept half pay. The actual logical conclusion is that OP can’t afford to hire a temp like Anne, who has Melissa’s skills and will be able to fill the role entirely

              Exactly! It’s just jaw dropping that the OP doesn’t see this.

            2. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

              Except they want to outsource the overhead of hiring and payroll to a third party. But they don’t want to pay for that outsourcing out of their own pocket, god forbid!

              I also wonder about payroll taxes. Some part of the temp agency’s cut goes towards those. Who was paying those taxes for Melissa?

              1. RickCruz*

                just wanted to say I was skimming through the comments and jumped out of my chair when I saw “cheap ass roll(ed)” because I thought this was somehow related to that story

            3. fhqwhgads*

              Yeah, OP’s mistake here is in thinking getting a temp to cover a role should cost exactly what the employee does and no more. That’s not how it worked. Yes, the agency takes some off the top. Hence the budget has to be more for a temp. Normal cost of doing business. If the budget is out of OP’s control, then OP’s beef is with the unreasonable person who won’t budge on that budget, not on the potential employee who points out the truth of the matter.
              If you have 10 year old beat up Ford money and you want to lease a brand new Lexus, you don’t get to be like “well this is my budget, take it or leave it”. You should expect the answer to be “leave it”. OP should think of it in those terms.

                1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

                  Or similarly, if your car is in the shop and you have to rent one it is likely to cost MORE per day than your prorated lease payments–even if the car isn’t as nice as the one in the shop.

                  Short term housing, car rental, temps-> Things that cost MORE than you usually pay having the resource full-time.

            4. TootsNYC*

              the logical conclusion would be that they should have done their own recruiting, so that they didn’t need to pay for the services of a temp agency.

              I mean…

              1. TootsNYC*

                My company always hired freelancers through a temp agency, but all the temp agency provided ME was bookkeeping. I did the recruiting, I did the scheduling.

                I don’t know how those payroll services were worth what we paid for them, especially when we had a department that could have folded them in with only a small increase in manpower

        5. Chicken Situation*

          Not even half; there are no benefits either, and those typically make up a large chunk of compensation. It is appalling.

      1. Observer*

        Yeah it’s not Anne’s problem why you can’t pay (by your own admission) the going rate for the role!

        What’s more, it’s not just not the “going rate”. It’s *well below* the going rate. In fact, it’s barely above the federal minimum wage, for a fairly high skill position – one that they don’t have *any* other good candidates for.

        To be honest the whole thing sounds a lot like the bosses who tell people how GRATEFUL they should be for the honor of working for their company. I hope this this is just the OP, not the whole company, because this is a toxic attitude. And it’s bad enough that it’s part and parcel of one department. But if this is a company wide attitude, that’s really bad.

        1. Sam*

          As mentally well above US Federal Minimum Wage. But probably not above many State’s Minimum Wage. Arizona is $13.85 an hour.

          1. Observer*

            Here is where I got the $10 per hour number (which is above the Federal minimum wage, but not “well” above it).

            In the original letter the op writes “ Because of the cost of covering Melisandre’s paid leave and the cut the staffing agency takes, Arya would be earning around $10 an hour.

    2. Boris*

      Omg right? I don’t have anything constructive to say, beyond the fact that Anne’s conduct could not be farther from “unprofessional.”

        1. HonorBox*

          To be honest, if someone actually told me “take it or leave it” I probably wouldn’t look back to see if the door actually closed behind me when I walked out.

        2. MK*

          OP is exploitative and unreasonable, but there is nothing unprofessional about “take it or leave it”. Not every salary is negotiable.

          1. raktajino*

            If the writer’s attitude really was as brusque as it sounds, it’s possible OP *was* unprofessional. There’s a way to have that conversation without coming across as “don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.”

          2. BubbleTea*

            There’s nothing unprofessional about saying so if there’s no room for negotiation, but the specific phrasing does seem unprofessional to me.

            1. Matilda Jefferies*

              Yeah, the phrase “I told her flat out” is a little…extra. Hopefully OP was a bit kinder in their actual wording at the time, but given the rest of the letter it seems unlikely.

          3. Nea*

            There is a lot unprofessional about “it’s not like you have a paying job right now anyway.” While we don’t know that LW said that to Anne’s face, the fact that LW thought it pertinent to bring up in the letter suggests to me that LW did.

          4. FrivYeti*

            If I’m in salary negotiations, there is a world of difference to me whether the person I’m talking to says “I’m sorry, we can’t negotiate the salary because our budget is already stretched thin” versus “this is the salary, take it or leave it.”

            The former acknowledges that the salary isn’t what they would like to be able to offer, due to the unique situation. The latter makes it sound as though I’m in the wrong for wanting market rates – and frankly, given the rest of the letter, I think that the latter is, in fact, OP1’s belief.

    3. Adds*

      Right? How dare someone take time to discuss with their partner if it makes sense for their situation to take a job that’s paying half of the market rate? (please imagine all of the eye-rolling emojis here).

      1. Stipes*

        Can’t find any comments by the LW either, though it’s hard to be 100% sure without reading every comment. No luck searching for “1*” to get usernames of LW1 or OP#1 or etc, and I tried a bit searching for “1 here” and stuff like that.

        (I’m mostly making this post as an excuse to mention the asterisk trick for anyone who doesn’t know: AAM comments put an invisible asterisk after every username, so find-in-page searching for “LW1*” will get every post made by someone called LW1 without also getting every time someone mentioned them.)

        1. Elves Have Left the Building*

          Helpful! I did NOT know that when I use that it just deletes all of the text in between the less than/greater than symbols (they may be deleted in this post although I put a bunch of spaces in there so who knows until I hit submit?)

          1. Elves Have Left the Building*

            …and yeah. You cannot use the little left/right arrows above the comma and period. So, multiple times my comments have probably sounded insane because words were just.. gone. I guess it’s *maybe* an HTML thing or something similar?

            1. Hlao-roo*

              Yeah, the html on this website uses the greater than/less than symbols. A side effect of that is that any text in between doesn’t get displayed in the comment, even if it’s not the html command for italics (or bold, etc.). There’s a link to the commenting rules above the commenting box, and at the end of the rules is a little explainer for how to use html in comments.

      2. Ms. Murchison*

        2019? I hope the LW took Alison & the commentariat’s feedback to heart, because I can only imagine how much worse that “you’re lucky we’re offering you anything” attitude could have gotten during the pandemic.

    4. Snarl Trolley*

      Same. The ego and obliviousness on display is such a turn-off/bordering on red flag, especially considering they couldn’t find a single other candidate with the needed qualifications…. Can’t lie, I’m hoping Anne got a last-minute offer elsewhere and dodged this bullet.

    5. Antilles*

      Also just going to note that half of Melissa’s $25 per hour wage would be $12.50 an hour. That would have been fairly low when this letter was written in 2019 and would be so low as to not even satisfy minimum wage laws in many places here in 2024.

      1. Cyndi*

        I just went and found the original post (“should I hire someone who’s unhappy with the salary,” 10/21/2019) and it said Anne would be making about $10/hr, which a lot of commenters even then pointed out was well below minimum wage where they lived.

        1. Ex-prof*

          I was thrilled to get that as a grad student in 1993. It made paying my $167/month rent very doable.

          1. GottaPayRent*

            $167 rent in 1993? Wow. I want to have lived where you lived.


            She who paid a mere $800/month in rent in 1993 and was pleased to find something so cheap.

        2. Moonstone*

          That is so low as to be insulting. This LW really riled me up! From the ridiculous attitude that Anne should be thrilled to make poverty wages just to get a foot in the door at this exclusive workplace to the throwaway line at the end – LW is so arrogant it makes my teeth hurt. I hope Anne found a fantastic position somewhere else and LW has completely changed their attitude but I won’t hold my breath about the latter part.

      2. gsa*

        The bigger issue is whether or not she was W-2 at $25/hr and 1099 $12.50/hr.

        There are a reason people that contract in freelance charge three times with a W-2 employee would be paid to do the same job.

        Ask me how I know!

      3. GreenDoor*

        Yea the OP is looking at it as that the temp service “shares” the salary of the employee. That’s not the right way to look at it. They should be paying the employee the market rate and looking at what the temp service charges as an additional fee on top of that. No different than paying any other outside vendor to help your organization. That’s the convenience fee of having a staffing service do your recruiting for you.

    6. Magenta Sky*

      Personally, I’d be pretty embarrassed if my employees qualified for food stamps – and I didn’t. (And $12.50/hour does, in some parts of the US, especially if you have kids.)

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Not even minimum wage where I am. I don’t think it was when the letter was published either. Just barely, if so.

    7. Orora*

      The whole point of using an agency for temporary positions is that they do the work of finding, vetting and supporting that temporary employee. How much time would the OP (and hiring manager) have spent going through resumes and doing phone screens and interviews and reference checks. Then, if the person doesn’t work out, the company could be on the hook for unemployment, maybe even benefits. All of that costs money, and the agency needs to make some profit in order to be able to continue doing all those things while paying their own people. That’s why you pay a premium for temp workers. If you don’t like spending that money, feel free to do it all yourself, but don’t punish the worker for knowing their worth (and the going rate) and asking for it.

      Trying to lowball someone into a 50% pay cut so they can work at your oh-so-exclusive business is what I call “unprofessional”.

      1. Observer*

        Trying to lowball someone into a 50% pay cut so they can work at your oh-so-exclusive business is what I call “unprofessional”.

        Your whole comment is spot on. But this is ESPECIALLY on the mark.

    8. TG*

      Me too – how inflated are you about your company? She is getting paid peanuts and no benefits but she should be thrilled and how dare she take time to think about it? This guys really made me mad.

    9. Pizza Rat*

      It’s hard to get a position here at all, and this is a great opportunity to make connections. It’s not like she has a job right now either.

      Wow. Just wow. This attitude infuriates me. If the work is valued at $25/hour, then the person doing it should be paid $25 an hour. Not to mention someone coming in through a staffing agency may not have benefits (some do, some don’t, I’ve worked for both kinds), and that usually means a higher hourly wage to offset.

      “You’re lucky to have a job,” is about a dozen red flags. Scarlet. Maroon. All the reds.

      1. Worldwalker*

        “a great opportunity to make connections” is like paying in exposure. And people die of exposure.

      2. TootsNYC*

        if the salary is low enough, you can lose money by taking the job!
        Commuting costs, daycare perhaps. And time lost.

    10. tamarack etc.*

      Yeah, OP1’s employer needs a budget pot for medical leave and additional overhead (staffing agency fees). I’m sure their HR/payroll department has all the data on how many people can be expected to be out and need coverage in a given year.

      Half the fair market rate and no benefits is a tough sell, and thinking of retracting an offer when a candidate tries to negotiate and points out the obvious doesn’t sound like a good outfit.

    11. Ex-prof*

      $12.50 an hour and Anne’s not dancing for joy, whatever could be the matter?

      I don’t know when that letter’s from but minimum wage in my state is going up to $15/hour on New Year’s Day… and was de facto $15 already.

    12. Twix*

      Oh man, same. There are a bunch of different problems with LW’s approach, but the idea that it’s unprofessional to try to negotiate up from half the market rate for your labor is so absurdly absurd that it eclipses everything else. Also, whether or not she currently has a job might be a relevant factor in salary negotiations, but it doesn’t mean the time she’s offering to sell you only has value if she does. People who have valuable job skills who are currently unemployed are not generally sitting around asking “Who will do me the favor of underpaying me to take all this free time off my hands?”

  1. Shoes*

    The tone of the question seems to harken back to when it felt like employees had fewer options.

    (Yes, I know job searches are quick for everyone.)

    1. Sloanicota*

      I feel like there was one shining my moment in the entire course of my career (during the “great resignation” that immediately followed the pandemic upheaval) when jobs seemed plentiful and workers actually had the upper hand in hiring. It was maybe six months and at that time, there was a ton of grumbling blogs about workers just “not wanting to work anymore” and how there would soon be “a big reckoning” with all these faithless employees who were so ungrateful as to be leaving jobs or negotiating hard. I feel like the people in power pretty much made that happen, bringing us to our current economy. My current employer would absolutely think the way OP does here again now. Sigh.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I honestly felt the Fed was disappointed their rate raises didn’t crash the economy so we would have to go begging hat in hand again.

  2. ecnaseener*

    I’m guessing Melisandre is the same person as Melissa, but I’m enjoying imagining otherwise — “not only do we have to cover Melissa’s leave, but Melisandre’s still on *her* paid leave doing Rhllor-knows-what!” (Insert joke about her mat leave being very quick at least.)

    1. Sssssssssssssss*

      I work at a place where it’s quite often like that – multiple leaves – creating multiple domino effects for hiring and in the reverse when ppl come back.

      JJ was on an unpaid leave for two years. KK was backfilling but then took her own leave for a year and then NN backfilled JJ’s job while someone else was backfilliing KK’s job. It was quite messy until both JJ and KK quit (for very different reasons).

  3. Antiqueight*

    I would love to have been able to respond that the employer is the one who sounds unprofessional. The job may be temporary but it sounds full-time so the pay should match the role, not the budget the company has for it. If the budget is half the pay the role should be part time only but for the full hourly rate. As Rebecca says above that one grinds my gears.

    1. The Terrible Tom*

      “it sounds full-time so the pay should match the role, not the budget the company has for it. If the budget is half the pay the role should be part time only but for the full hourly rate.”

      Exactly. Especially when they say that’s it’s partially due because of the cost of paid leave — so they’re giving Anne a lower wage because of the cost of the paid leave — that sounds to me like they’re basically expecting Anne to partially pay for M’s paid leave (by the mechanism of accepting a lower salary than she would receive if not for the cost of M’s paid leave). But money is fungible, so that makes no more sense than if they paid Anne the full amount and had her send part of it to M.

    2. learnedthehardway*

      Not only that, but the employer should expect to pay something of a PREMIUM for a temporary role, if they want the person to stay in it for the duration. I mean seriously – you’re asking someone to cease their job search for a few months and stick with you, even if they get a good offer halfway through, and you haven’t guaranteed them employment at the end of the temporary contract.

      The manager’s attitude is just ridiculous and so out of touch!!!

    3. allathian*

      Yeah, this. I’m glad I’m in an area where it’d be illegal, or at least in contravention with our collective agreement, to pay less for a temporary subsitute than the minimum salary of the position’s pay band.

      The candidate doesn’t care about the employer effectively having to pay twice to get the job done, and good for her.

  4. BellyButton*

    Ugggg letter one is in the camp of “you should be grateful you are getting any job offer at all.” Yeah, no.

  5. FG*

    Emphasizing Alison’s last point:

    You pay a staffing agency a fair rate for the position, PLUS the agency’s fees, etc. – not MINUS the agency’s cost. You’re paying the agency to identify & screen viable candidates, and some offer staffers some benefits. You do not deduct that cost from what the staffer is paid. If that’s your calculation, then you’re basically telling the staffer that they have to pay you to work there.

    1. FrivYeti*

      I have to admit that my experience, as someone who worked for a long-term temp agency for several years, was that almost nobody paid a fair rate for the position. OP1 is a fairly egregious example, but typically what happened to me was that, say, a position would be paying its full-time staff $22/hr plus benefits, the company would pay the agency $24/hr to hire me, and the agency would pay me $16/hr with no medical benefits, vacation time, or sick leave.

      The company always seemed to feel that since they were paying slightly above the hourly rates for their full-time staff, this was totally fine. Often, they seemed totally unaware that I wasn’t making $20-23/hr off this calculation; one employer was actually shocked to learn that the agency took more than 10% of the fee.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I worked as a temp and for temp agencies. Definitely 40% goes to the agency. It was a big deal one time when the company I was placed in wanted to give me a $1.00/hr raise. (shout out to the 90s). It was not dollar for dollar increase to the temp agency. They negotiated from a $5 per hour to a $3 /hr increase in my rate. A couple months later, I hit the mark where I’d been there long enough to get hired without a finders’ fee. I think everyone settled because they knew it was coming.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          In my experience bringing on temp workers through agencies, I’ve always paid around the going rate for the position, skill level PLUS the agency fees. I’d never budget to pay the same pay rate to an agency that I would to a hourly employee I’d hire directly.

          In the case of a FT or even PT direct employee, the hiring company is directly paying payroll taxes, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, any paid time off (holiday, sick leave, vacation, etc) plus the cost of any benefits the employee is eligible for.

          For a worker doing the same work as a temp through an agency, the hiring company pays none of that directly. Plus the hiring company has the flexibility to say “it’s not working out, this isn’t a good fit” or “we only need you for a month after all, instead of on an ongoing basis” without going through a termination process, paying separation, offering COBRA, being responsible for unemployment charges. And the temp agency does all the sourcing, screening, payroll processing, etc. The agency fee is to cover all that – the services provided, and the staffing flexibility.

          That LW is being delusional and unprofessional. They may get away with underpaying temps, but not for long, and not frequently and certainly not as a way to get and keep good workers. Pretty quickly they are going to find the temp agency stops offering candidates because it makes sourcing candidates harder and the only candidates who are willing to take those jobs will either be unskilled or desperate (worth more and quick to jump when an opportunity presents itself) or not very motivated.

          1. pope suburban*

            I was a temp for several agencies, for a long time, and I was always lowballed. Sometimes, the money was still decent for me, but it was never what the actual employees made. My best assignment was maternity leave coverage for an employer who did things more like you do. I was paid a fair wage, and I was included in the holiday celebrations they had while I was there- I received the same gift card for Thanksgiving as everyone else, I was invited to the holiday luncheon, and I got a poinsettia at Christmas. I was shocked because the norm was to be excluded from things like that, even on longer-term assignments. It was nice and I have a positive impression of that company to this day, because they were thoughtful and they budgeted well.

          2. pally*

            I’m confused about something: How would the OP have control over what the temp would be paid?
            See, I thought clients paid the agency directly. Then the agency pays the temp.
            And the amount the client paid would be a combined temp salary + agency fee. This amount would be agreed to by contract.

            So in this case, the cost would be: a going rate of $25 + agency fee. Before the contract is signed, if the OP said, “I want to pay $12+ agency fee” the agency would reject this, and no temp would be provided. At least no one of Anne’s caliber.

            So unless the client is stiffing the agency, how is the temp going to end up underpaid? (and even then, I would think the agency would pay Anne properly and then remove her from the job)

            1. Butterfly Counter*

              The agency didn’t reject the pay of $12 + agency fee. The agency provided Anne the information that if she accepted the job, she would be making $12 an hour. From their perspective, they probably hope she takes it, but if not, they lose nothing by letting her know.

      2. Red*

        I’ve only worked as a temp in some less common jobs (front of house over the holidays, census, etc) and I’ve consistently been paid more than the permanent employees. I’m in the UK, which may be a factor, but that seasonal FOH role had me paid £14p/h when everyone else was making minimum wage (£5-8.70 at the time).

        1. Shanshan310*

          Australia is the same. Temps/casual workers are compensated because they don’t get benefits or the stability, which seems like the fair way to do it. LW is just greedy.

      3. Zee*

        Yeah, same. I got hired through a temp agency once, back in 2011. What happened for me is the non-profit could afford to pay their regular employee $14/hour. They didn’t have money on top of that for agency fees, so in order to pay the fee they had to lower the amount I actually got to $10/hour. The agency claimed they don’t deduct fees from the workers but it came out of the org’s budgeted amount for that role so it was effectively the same, I just didn’t literally see the fee on my paystub.

        1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That’s exactly what OP’s place is doing. And OP is mad that the candidate isn’t fine with it.

    2. Matilda Jefferies*

      Yes to all of this. And the cost of covering Melissa’s mat leave does not come out of Anne’s salary either. That’s a company cost, not an employee cost.

      It’s understandable if you can’t afford to pay the backup the same salary as the person on leave. But the way to fix that is to adjust the position to match the pay, not the other way around! If Melissa is a Senior Llama Groomer, maybe you hire a Junior Llama Groomer to replace her while she’s out. Or you hire a Senior but with part time hours instead of full time. Either way, it’s the company that makes the adjustments, not the employee.

    1. Orora*

      As a part-time performer, I like to respond with, “Sure, as soon as my mortgage company accepts Exposure Bucks.” Just because it’s not my main job doesn’t mean I shouldn’t get paid for it.

    2. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I’m surprised that a fully qualified temp from an agency would earn less than the full-time staff. Maybe field-dependent?

      e.g. agency nurses earn quite a bit more than regular staff, at least the countries I know.
      Also, in my field (R&D eng) when we took on temps to boost projects or cover mat leave, we had to budget more for each than for an employee of similar level, because decent engineers would need similar pay & benefits to our guys, plus the agency needed its profit to stay in business

      1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

        and bloody hell, the reek of entitlement by the OP
        I’d expect that if a manager was forced by a bad business decision made higher up the chain to offer such abysmally below-market pay that she’d be mortally embarassed, not indignant that the peon didn’t leap at being exploited.

        1. I forgot my user name again*

          I was thinking the same thing. When I worked in retail the pay we offered our seasonal employees was minimum wage and the hours we offered were less than other retailers. I was mortified at what I had to offer. I used to tell people upfront what the offer was and hope they still came for the interview. After Covid in 2020. NO ONE showed for their interview.

    1. Shanshan310*

      I hope Anne finds an amazing job that pays what she’s worth and leaves LW in the lurch, but I think LW would take the wrong lesson away from that…

  6. Fluffy Fish*


    Im gobsmacked by OP’s attitude.

    In general when you are hiring a temp you will be beyond lucky to have someone with all the skills you need. You usually have to settle a bit.

    To cop an attitude because the temp asked to be paid what she is worth when you are drastically underpaying? And then to think it’s unprofessional (!!!!) that she needed to discuss an important financial decision with her spouse? And then second guess hiring her because, again, she had asked to be paid what she’s worth?

    She would essentially be doing you a favor in covering this position and you’re mad because she’s not prostrating herself before you to take drastically below market pay to work for your super special company? And she should be grateful because she’s not working?

    I deeply hope Anne found something better than working for the OP. And I really hope OP was having a temporary lapse in judgement because they sound horrid to work for.

  7. Jesshereforthecomments*

    Oh my gosh, the absolute gall of LW 1 to not only offer someone HALF pay but to be upset that they need to think about it. People need to be able to pay for their lives and they’re not going to bow down and kiss your feet when you offer them a pittance.

      1. Cyndi*

        In fall 2019 when this letter was written, I was making $14/hr in my full time office job and $15/hr at my side retail job. I hated the office job and was desperate to get out, and I still would have laughed in someone’s face if they suggested paying me $10/hr for absolutely anything.

        1. I Have RBF*


          Why in the hell would OP think that a qualified person should be happy to make half of the going rate for the job, when they could make more working retail?

          If it was me, I’d have laughed in their face and told them “Good luck with that.”

          I have taken badly under market for a job when I was desperate for any income. I regretted it, because the job was so nasty and draining that I couldn’t even job hunt. One of the few times I ever quite without another job lined up.

          1. pope suburban*

            Same. I took a job for a boss that was like this because I had no other choice, and it ruined my life. The environment was toxic, I struggled all the time to make ends meet, I was expected to take on every task that other people didn’t want to do, I wasn’t given PPE/help with these tasks (I was hired as a bookkeeper, then told I had to move shipments of wine, that could weigh as much as 50 pounds, into our storage facility, with no help or gear), and by the time I finally left I was brought to the verge of tears every time someone was polite to me because it was so unexpected in my life. If there had been any other choice I would have gone for it and I would never expect anyone else to take that kind of a hit without similar dire need.

      2. Magenta Sky*

        Nearly one in three states have minimum wage higher than $12.50/hour these days. (Though I’m sure it was less four years ago.)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      We’re a large local employer, and we told her that after six months it was possible to move into a full-time role with benefits if she performed well.

      Yeah, and? If you’re such a big deal you should be able to do better. Whoever set up this budget is a bonehead, or, if it’s really all you can afford, maybe don’t be so cocky.

      For the record, my employer is decidedly not a local big shot but they hired me for more than that 18 years ago, with no direct job experience, and I got benefits immediately.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        And I guarantee you *if* Anne stuck around for the full six months (because if she’s smart she’s still looking despite accepting that insulting, TEMP offer), OP’s company would lowball the full time offer, too, because of the *optics* of doubling someone’s salary when they go from temp to perm. (And the icing on the cake would be if they tried to justify it due to the fee they have to pay to the temp agency for making her a permanent hire.)

      2. Antilles*

        The “possible to move into a full time role” part of that quote made me laugh when it first came out and still makes me laugh re-reading it now.
        The budget can barely afford to pay half the market rate for her today, but in six months you’re going to be able to effectively add an extra full-time employee with benefits. Really? How’s that math work?

        1. Matilda Jefferies*

          in six months you’re going to be able to effectively add an extra full-time employee with benefits

          In addition to Melissa’s full salary, assuming she’s back by then. Suuuure. As my daughter says, the math ain’t mathing.

      3. Lilo*

        Yeah, I’ve seen that game before and it’s a trap. “MAYBE we’ll give you full time” turns into never. Never, ever take an underpaid job or allow mistreatment off a vague future promise.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      I had the same thought. I’ve had to fill leave-related positions using staffing companies in the past, and I thought everyone knew that the actual, per-hour rate would not be the same as your full-time employee BECAUSE you are not the one covering taxes, benefits, etc. It just blows my mind that a manager at a “large local employer” doesn’t know the difference between total employee costs (pay rate, taxes, benefits/PTO, overhead, training) versus hourly pay rates.

      If Anne is the *only* qualified candidate they’ve gotten, it sounds like the market is sending OP1 a message.

  8. Smurfette*

    OP1 reminds me so much of the manager who was offended by her new employee’s “disrespectful” attitude when said employee was not paid due to a payroll error.

    Very much the same “they’re lucky we’re paying them at all!” kinda vibe.

      1. Seahorse*

        Watching the Muppet’s Christmas Carol the other day, I commented to my partner that Scrooge would be lauded as a savvy businessman in 2020s America.

        That “you should be grateful for the opportunity to make me money” attitude is all too prevalent.

        1. Pita Chips*

          My favorite version of that tale. Michael Caine was brilliant.

          There was an article in Business Insider last week where the CEO of Panera had the audacity to point out that employees are not motivated by making shareholders money. I imagine he’s going to get a lot of pushback about that.

          1. I Have RBF*

            But he’s right. I applaud him for stating the obvious to other business leaders who have their heads up their egos.

            1. Pita Chips*

              I said audacity to be a wiseass. I should have been more clear I was doing so. I’m glad he did it, but I really doubt it will bring about a culture change in the board room.

    1. Tammy 2*

      I know I’m venturing into fanfic territory, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Melissa hears about the “cost of covering her leave” the next time she’s eligible for a raise.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      That one really pissed me off. I would be horrified if we messed up any of my folks’ pay for a month – this is a fee for service arrangement, and that employee did such a good job of advocating for themselves while remaining professional in the face of a truly awful manager.

    3. Worldwalker*

      Oh, I’d forgotten about that one! She was the one who went on about how it was all the employee’s fault for bad financial planning, not, um, not getting three paychecks in a row. The commentariat with one voice tore the OP apart.

  9. Lainey L. L-C*

    And this is why job postings should have the offered salary in them. It sounds like LW1 wants to grossly underpay for the skills/experience they require, and candidates should know that in advance so no one’s time is wasted.

    1. Sammmmmmmmmmmmmm*

      The staffing agency should be talking salary at their initial screening call. I’m not even acknowledging the fact that temp workers typically get paid more not half, but the staffing agency dropped the ball.

    2. remote*

      I imagine like most employers who play these games the staffing agency doesn’t want to be open about the pay until the final stages because they know (consciously or unconsciously) that if they were upfront about it nobody who was actually qualified for the position would be interested.

  10. HonorBox*

    Letter 1 frankly pisses me off. If an employer is covering paid leave for someone and still needs to bring in someone to cover that role, that’s on the employer to figure out. And if they’re deducting the staffing agency’s cost from what they’re willing to offer the temp employee, that sucks. None of that should be put on the back of the temp. If what Melissa makes is fair and average for someone in that area filling a similar role, a temp should be paid something close, if not the same. Especially because they’re not getting the benefits of being a full time employee, too. Paying someone half of what is paid to the full time employee because you’re deducting the full time employee’s benefit and the temp agency’s cut isn’t fair. Anne was right.

    The fact that Anne wanted to chat with her husband and still accepted the role means she’s both very professional and willing to do the job. Don’t question someone’s motives. If a candidate for a full-time role tried to negotiate for a higher salary and accepted something lower than what they’d asked for, would you pull the offer then? I’d hope not.

  11. Sunflower*

    #1 Anne was the only candidate with all the skills you’re looking for and you pay her half the average? I hope she finds another job where they respect her and she never look back.

    The OP’s attitude is why “quiet quitting” exist now. You act like your employees should be grateful to have a job, but it goes both ways. Employers should be grateful for good hardworking employees, especially if they’re the only one with the skills you’re looking for.

    Half the average. I’m shaking my head (that’s the kindest way of phrasing what I’m really thinking).

    1. Paris Geller*

      This is what I (still) don’t get about the letter: Anne was only person they found who was qualified. So if you take back her offer because she’s unhappy with the salary. . . what then? They’re not exactly drowning in qualified applicants.

      1. Enai*

        Then you type a whiny screed about how you have to reduce your service hours because “nobody wants to work anymore”, laminate the print out, and tape it to your front door. Bonus points for additionally posting it on Facebook.

    2. Observer*

      Anne was the only candidate with all the skills you’re looking for and you pay her half the average

      Yeah, this is part of what’s so wild to me. Even if they had a lot of qualified applicants, this would be out of line. But when only *one* of the many applicants you have are of the caliber you need, that should be a sign that your qualifications + wage offer are not aligned. The fact that the OP cannot see this is just incredibly poor management.

  12. DivergentStitches*

    Yeah #1 needs to be paying the agency for the amount going to the person AND the amount for the agency on top of that. Paying someone $12-13 for a role that typically pays $25 plus benefits is weaksauce. Of COURSE she would need to think about it and discuss it with her partner.

    If they’re a “large local employer” they should have a bigger budget for temp workers IMO

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Pretty sure that means they’re in an area with little job choice and basically have their applicants held captive but, yes, they should have a much better budget for temps. Not least of which because they need them. If they can’t pay them, they should figure out how else to get the work done.

    2. AngryOctopus*

      Yep. In 2008 I was hired as a temp at $25/hr. That’s what I made. No idea what they paid the agency, but that’s not my business! They paid me a fair rate for my work, and I got some benefits from the agency, and everyone was up front about things and happy. If they told me I’d only get $15/hr because they had to cover the temp agency fees, I’d have dropped that job!

  13. Double A*

    In case anyone is wondering what it looks like when women get punished for negotiating, this right here is it.

    1. ArmyBarbie*

      Meant to reply here… Right!? Why does it seem like all the AAM letters about money are also about women?

    2. Willow Pillow*

      This is also why the term “professional” (or its counterpart “unprofessional”) gets my hackles up. I’ve lost count how many times the term has meant “doormat” in context.

  14. Jane*

    OP1. No. Just no. You are admittedly paying her half of the fair market rate and when she (rightly) called you out on it, you chafed. The fact she still accepted the job is a miracle I think you should celebrate. AND your attitude about her current work status is why there is an uprising against the corporate word.

    PTO Poster: Quit changing your vacations and let her know that PTO is taken on first ask, first serve. After a few times of that, she will request it sooner if she needs it.

      1. CorgiDoc*

        I think ArmyBarbie was being sarcastic and trying to make your point – that women are systematically underpaid and judged/treated poorly for negotiating or attempting to.

  15. e271828*

    OP#1–A temp always costs at least double your permanent staffer they’re covering for—isn’t that the rule of thumb?

    Hope this temp found a more reasonable workplace elsewhere.

  16. Lilo*

    The idea that the place you “save” money is on employee pay is just so, so backwards.

    In two weeks “Hey, why did Anne quit with no notice”.

    1. Delta Delta*

      I worked for such a place. Somewhere that was so on the borderline with money that all sorts of shenanigans were tried to save money, and in lots of instances it was with staffing. Then there was a lot of surprise when it neither worked nor saved money.

  17. gone anon*

    LW1 sounds like my old job which paid significantly below market rate and had a general attitude of “you should be paying US for deigning to allow you to work here.” Needless to say, top talent turned over quickly. I almost doubled my salary when I left.

  18. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    There was a post on another site where a woman said that coworker 1 was out for maternity leave. Boss said they couldn’t afford to hire someone to help as well as pay her, so they’d split her critical work. Team got together and decided OP, not married, no kids, would do her work. OP said, I can’t add another 15 hours every week but I’ll split it with the other three people.
    The team lost their minds. Refused to help. The manager refused to consider it. Instead said they’d have to fire pregnant coworker to afford to hire another employee – and that will put the company in legal hot water. Like the company is coworker who is getting shafted.
    If this weren’t an old post, I’d wonder if this was not the same place.
    OP, if you can’t afford to pay people, you can’t afford to be in business.
    If your business model is:
    -find the most qualified candidate with whom you have no professional connection
    -say you are not willing to pay them market value, because they are an unknown quantity
    -be indignant that unknown quantity isn’t grateful sacrificing for your bottom line
    -ponder if you should take insulting job offer away from highly qualified unknown candidate who is clearly desperate enough to take this offer because you feel insulted;
    I don’t think you are a very good manager.
    Pay quality people. Get quality work.
    Don’t want to pay? Bring in someone to do the less quality work and keep things moving.

  19. Elsewise*

    LW 2: It really depends on the person, but I think those in-person meetings can be good! I’ve had two in my career, and both times it felt like they really respected me. However, I was once in the running for a promotion along with a coworker, and everyone in the office knew we were the two finalists. I got called into a meeting with the big boss, came back, and sat down at my desk. My coworker got called into a meeting, left the meeting slamming the door behind him, grabbed his stuff off his desk so hard that he knocked over his chair, and stormed out of the office. Another coworker watched that happened and then private messaged me congratulations.

  20. Zach*

    #1- Sorry in advance for being blunt, but it’s the best way to get the point across-

    That’s called “negotiating”. If you punish a candidate for negotiating (in good faith, anyway- which this person was), you are being awful and petty.

    1. Zach*

      Also, I somehow missed the part about only paying half. Like Alison said, that is absolutely not how temp pay works. You pay double the rate so that the temp worker takes home the full rate. That’s the price you pay for allowing someone to work with you while they have less employee protections. The “saving money” aspect of hiring temp workers is in the long term, not the short term.

  21. Heart&Vine*

    I’m here to comment on LW4 but I can’t just let LW1 slide. LW1: As people have already stated, you need a serious reality check and attitude adjustment.

    LW4: “That’s just how I roll!” may work in some scenarios, but not professional ones. How she “rolls” means you have to keep adjusting your own time off which is unfair to you. It would be one thing if you were taking off all major holidays and prime vacation time starting Jan 1 every year, ensuring no one could ever use that time for themselves, but when it comes to big trips planning ahead is assumed. If your employee is in the habit of only requesting time off at the last minute she either needs to start planning (at least a little further) ahead or miss out. As far as not being able to use all her time off… if you only decide to take time off at the last minute, that’s the risk you take.

    You should absolutely take Alison’s advice and start cluing her in when you plan to take time off but, if she still doesn’t use that as a means to let you know when she wants time off, I suggest you start telling her you can’t accommodate her due to the shortage of notice and suggest she start getting back to you 1. as early as she can or 2. as soon as you inform her of your vacation plans.

    1. Cmdrshprd*

      Eh I think unless the employee is actually asking OP to change their vacation time to accommodate them I don’t think
      ““That’s just how I roll!” may work in some scenarios, but not professional ones.”
      Is unprofessional or not workable.

      It seems the OP may have changed their own vacation without being asked. I agree that if OP is already scheduled they can deny the PTO, but OP should not deny PTO just because it is not planned in advance if it can be easily accommodated.

      Like the employee decided on Monday they want to take a long weekend trip and take PTO that Thur/Fri., they have no meetings, no deadlines, no one else if off, it should be approved without a problem.

      1. Heart&Vine*

        Oh I 100% agree. I just mean “that’s how I roll” shouldn’t negatively affect anyone else. OP mentions having to change her vacation plans because her employee announced her intent to take time off at the same time at the last minute (because she was unaware of OP’s plans it sounds like). I don’t think OP should feel obligated to change her vacation plans to accommodate her employee even if her employee isn’t using enough of her time off. Nor should she feel bad for planning time off well in advance since many vacations require that.

  22. Ess Ess*

    It is very inappropriate to force the substitute to use part of their salary to pay for someone else’s leave. The salary for the position should only be based on the temp’s qualifications and the expected amount of work for the role. The cost of the leave should be covered by the company’s separate employee benefits budget. Normally, you would be paying a higher rate for a temp service position so that the employee would be getting a reasonable wage after the agency takes their percentage. Instead, you are shorting them twice… by paying less to the agency, and then that results in even less to the employee. This sounds like a very toxic role/department.

  23. Yup!*

    #1 – Oh my goodness, pay the worker what she’s worth! How does someone justify paying half the price of the previous worker, 0 benefits, and then complaining when they point it out PLUS admitting they can’t even find a qualified candidate? This is capitalism with an extra cherry on top.

  24. Sneaky Squirrel*

    LW1 – I’m alarmed that the candidate is being considered “unprofessional” by purely stating the fact that she would like to be paid a fair market rate for the work and I wonder if LW would have the same sentiment about a male negotiating his salary. Anne sounds like a diamond in the rough for even considering a role that pays 1/2 as much as the market, likely with limited/no benefits, and with no formal guarantee that she could move into a full-time role with a fair salary and benefits after six months. If LW doesn’t have the budget to pay a fair rate through a temp agency, then LW should consider that they need to source candidates directly and/or risk that the work won’t be done.

    1. Dulcinea47*

      Being willing to get taken advantage of doesn’t indicate a diamond in the rough, it indicates someone who’s financially desperate.

      1. Sneaky Squirrel*

        I agree, Anne may be someone who is financially desperate and doesn’t deserve to to be taken advantage of at all. I hope Anne “noped” out of the situation and found an employer shortly after who would treat her better. What I was leaning towards with “Diamond in the Rough” was that LW was NOT going to find another candidate like Anne and should think twice about calling Anne out as unprofessional.

  25. Addison DeWitt*

    I get inquiries about freelancing. I tell them what I expect, they tell me that it’s too much and they can get some kid to do it for half that, I tell them that when they don’t get what they want after a week with the kid, I will come in at that same daily rate and solve it for them in a day or two.

    Sounds arrogant, but it works a surprising amount of the time– because they’ve already hired some kid and gotten nowhere.

    1. KateM*

      You should tell them that once they have had that kid mucking everything up, your rate to fix it is double.

  26. Dulcinea47*

    This letter reeks of privilege on the part of the employer. Imagine thinking that someone should take a job where they won’t be able to make ends meet, while at the same time knowing you’re paying less than they’re worth, and then writing a letter about how *you’re* the one being wronged. Red flags all over the place.

  27. kiki*

    My most charitable read of LW 1 is that they are deeply confused about what the standards are for hiring somebody to fill in while an employee is on leave. You need to budget whatever you were paying Melissa PLUS additional costs. Hiring a temporary replacement comes at a premium. Anne was right to push back about her pay and LW was woefully misguided.

  28. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    I’m surprised that a fully qualified temp from an agency would earn less than the full-time staff. Maybe field-dependent?

    e.g. agency nurses earn quite a bit more than regular staff, at least the countries I know.
    Also, in my field (R&D eng) when we took on temps to boost projects or cover mat leave, we had to budget more for each than for an employee of similar level, because decent engineers would need similar pay & benefits to our guys, plus the agency needed its profit to stay in business

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      and bloody hell, the reek of entitlement by the OP
      I’d expect that if a manager was forced by a bad business decision made higher up the chain to offer such abysmally below-market pay that she’d be posting to say she was mortally embarassed, not indignant that the peon didn’t leap at being exploited.

  29. WellRed*

    Boy Anne can’t win here. You want to lowball her on salary because you don’t understand how this works, she agrees to take the job anyway and now you don’t want to hire her anyway. Good luck with all that.

  30. Eldritch Office Worker*

    I was in the comments of this one (under a different name) and was way more generous with the OP than I was reading it today. I’ve either become more jaded or more realistic.

  31. Heather*

    The company has another problem. They don’t currently set aside budget line items for those taking leave, FMLA, etc. It doesn’t benefit a potential worker to come in at half the rate of her abilities and education to help a company out when that person gets no real benefit. This company and manager needs to do better.

  32. Pink Candyfloss*

    oh no, how unprofessional to want to be paid what your time is worth and need time to consider whether or not you can afford to work for less on the off chance you MIGHT “have the opportunity” to come on full time at some nebulous future date. quelle horror

  33. Thomas*

    #4 I think is being far too soft to the point of being a doormat. Be frank to the employee that if she gives the bare minimum notice for leave requests (and hopefully your company policies or local laws set a required notice) then she’s more likely to have the request denied. At the same time be open about your own scheduled leave unless you have a special reason not to, and don’t cancel your leave to accommodate somebody else’s non-emergency request.

  34. Junior Assistant Peon*

    I’ve been in the position of hiring with a cheapskate manager giving me a lousy budget. The solution is that you have to consider nontraditional candidates – people with no degrees, long-term unemployment, criminal records, etc. I was able to hire in spite of not being budgeted enough money because I interviewed people a big corporation wouldn’t have. I hate companies that whine and cry about how “no one wants to work” and leave a position open for months rather than hiring the best person they can at the budget given.

  35. Llama Llama*

    It’s insane how they think this is an acceptable pay. 18 years ago, I turned down a role out of college for that much (because I thought it was crap) and I live (lived?) in a low cost area. AND my role really required no real skills.

    So don’t spite yourself to spite her because you probably are not going to find too many people willing and qualified.

  36. JaneDough(not)*

    LW, you are waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of line and completely wrong.

    I’ve been an office temp and an editorial temp, and THIS is how it works: The temp gets an hourly wage that is AT LEAST the same as the position pays a FT-with-benefits employee, or MORE (because the temp isn’t getting any benefits).

    Yes, this means that you’re paying the agency a fortune — usually 2.5 times what the temp employee gets. There are two reasons for this:
    . . . . . The temp agency has spared you the hassle of advertising for the position and sifting through hundreds of resumes.
    . . . . . In addition, good cos. understand that this is just the cost of doing business: On occasion an employee will need a long leave, and the co. needs someone qualified to fill in; the freelancer/temp the co. brings in has an hourly rate that is at least twice the absnet employee’s hourly rate because the freelancer/temp receives no benefits.

    This is a well-known cost of doing business. Don’t skimp on a qualified applicant — and don’t be the kind of jerk-boss that raises everyone’s hackles.

  37. Ash*

    All these years later and this is still one of the most outlandish letters I’ve ever read. It really lives rent-free in my head. This person found a UNICORN and was gonna throw it all away over absolute pettiness.

  38. Kt*

    OP1 is a nightmare who thinks people should kiss their feet for the opportunity of working for them. BARF.

  39. Alessia*

    What I read sounds very unprofessional. Not from Anne, but from the writer. You need specific skills, which are hard to find, yet you do not want to pay what they are worth. I understand you have costs related to paid leave and staffing agency, but why is the new hire responsible for them? Moreover, you said she matches your expectations, she has the experience and the skills, but since she does not bow and thank you she is not good anymore. It is not a matter of matching the company culture, you want to get rid of her because she is not humble enough. This is a red flag for me.
    I believe that when you hire for a not-permanent position:
    – if there is no chance to get hired later, the salary should compensate the fact you are asking someone to job-hop and invest time in your position while missing better opportunities (which here could pay Anne what she is worth);
    – if there is chance to get hired later, I can be ok with a reasonable reduction for the “trial” period, but the salary could not be half of what the permanent position pays. She will perform for the 100% of what you need, why on earth should she accept a 50% pay?

    1. Observer*

      It’s worth noting that in the original, the OP mentions the actual pay and it’s LESS than half. In fact they say that “ Because of the cost of covering Melisandre’s paid leave and the cut the staffing agency takes, Arya would be earning around $10 an hour.

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