... to not be expected to work for free?

(81 Posts)
flyingwidow Thu 05-Sep-13 14:52:43

Genuine AIBU here.

Finished work last November as decided to be a SAHM. All good, left on good terms with my boss and my department. Since then I have done some occasional consulting at the same organisation but for different departments.

Stopped working there completely a few weeks ago, as my son starts at a local preschool shortly, and I can't offer the same sort of consultancy hours that I managed to when he attended a 'daycare' provider (even then it was only 1 day a week max!!).

Had an email from someone in my 'old/original' department yesterday. Not someone that I was particularly friendly with. Could I come in next week for an hour or so to help out with some figures for something that I worked on back in 2009. No mention of pay, and quite blunt, worded in such a way that it kind of insinuated that I should go in, as a favour!

I replied, no- sorry, not working anymore, very busy with my son, sorry I can't be of anymore help. However, I pointed her in the direction of the spreadsheets, but pointed out that top boss took over the project when I was on maternity leave. So he should have more knowledge. I thought that was the end of it...

but no, another email pinged in this morning basically laying it on thick again- that she can't make head or tails of things.

So, I ring up the boss in charge of the department today (male). Firstly, I wanted to know if she'd discussed this with him- yes, she had. Basically he said it'd only be to drop in and help 'for a bit'. So I said, that I couldn't be of much help- the project completed 4 years ago (I have a shocking memory), and that I had detailed all the figures in a spreadsheet, but if they did want me to come in, that I would charge them. Stony silence on the end of the phone, followed by a "you mean like taking you out to lunch?" response from my former boss! I said no, that if I came in I would charge a half day at my daily rate.

My boss sounded really pissed off, and the phone call ended frostily! AIBU, should I have just 'helped out'?

I am miffed, a) that they contacted me in the first place- I have never contacted ex-colleagues (except to congratulate them on birth of children etc!). b) that when i said no, that she continued to email me. c) that my boss thought I'd just pop in as a favour....


mumofweeboys Thu 05-Sep-13 14:57:39

Depends if you ever want to work for them again?

CoffeeTea103 Thu 05-Sep-13 14:58:15

You are right to be upset. What do they take you for? This favor will turn into a series of favors.
And besides that you are no longer employed by them so legally can they ask an outsider to work with company documents. You have pointed them in the right direction with regards to worksheets so that's enough.

TwoAndTwoEqualsChaos Thu 05-Sep-13 14:59:37

I don't think so: you pointed them in the right direction several times out of courtesy but, if they want you to work on a project, why shouldn't they pay you?

flyingwidow Thu 05-Sep-13 15:02:35

mumofweeboys, I doubt I'd ever work in that team again (and due to start retraining in a few months for my career change), and worried about potential references as a result now of not "helping out" (for free)!

JRmumma Thu 05-Sep-13 15:05:34

Very unprofessional of them to ask you to come in and help out in the first place IMO. When someone leaves, they leave and you have to just get on without them. I would expect to have to pay for your services which amount to anything over the initial email you send telling them where to find the info they need.

sandiy Thu 05-Sep-13 15:05:40

I think you did the right thing.Where would it end an hour here two there.It sounds like they were trying their luck if they get back in touch I should mail back clearly stating your freelance rate which should be more than your previous rate.Also if you aren't employed surely you are not covered by insurance etc.

DreadLock Thu 05-Sep-13 15:06:01

They are taking the piss. End of and good for you to stand your ground. Otherwise there would be a next time....and a next time...

flyingwidow Thu 05-Sep-13 15:14:21

I get the guilts, this is one of my failings! I feel guilty for saying no to people- but know you're all right, and am kind of proud of myself for standing my ground!

I'll take pre-schoolers over work any day... no hidden agendas!!!!

MortifiedAdams Thu 05-Sep-13 15:17:05

Gosh they are luck you even responded to emails!

Totally UR of them and good on you for stabdibg up for yourself. What are they going to do, sack you? grin

OnIlkelyMoorBahtat Fri 06-Sep-13 13:46:16

They are crackers flyingwidow, and you were perfectly within your rights to tell them to do one.


DoJo Fri 06-Sep-13 15:13:14

It depends - I would do it, because I'm a freelancer so do the occasional favour for my best clients if I can, to keep them sweet, but if you don't want to work with them again then don't worry about it.

Mintyy Fri 06-Sep-13 15:15:30

Yanbu! That has actually made me laugh, tbh. Cheek of some people!

cushtie335 Fri 06-Sep-13 15:17:17

YANBU. Unfortunately employers often exploit conscientious, hard working people. They are taking the piss. Don't feel guilty about it. They are the ones who have been unprofessional, rude and entitled.

RenterNomad Fri 06-Sep-13 17:09:04

Doing the work for free would only get you more of the same kind of "work"!

BrokenSunglasses Fri 06-Sep-13 17:14:16

In think if they have been flexible with you about days you work or any time off you needed for your ds or whatever, then it would have been nice of you to do them a favour, but you weren't under any obligation, so it's entirely your choice.

Retroformica Fri 06-Sep-13 17:25:49

I think it's quite reasonable to charge half a days pay.

ivykaty44 Fri 06-Sep-13 17:37:13

I very much doubt that if the boot was on the other foot you boss would be doing any work for free.

RenterNomad is right, it would go like this - you go in for a couple of hours and look at the spread sheets and help them out.

Then the next thing is another email pops in your inbox oh can you pop by for a couple of hours and help out with this and you would think - well I popped by last moth but I suppose it wouldn't hurt and then it would happen again.

the stone silence was because he is not used to people standing their ground...

then your post in AIBU would be well I have done this several times fro free but now I want to charge? Which would be much harder.

You did the right thing - they will not contact you again

expatinscotland Fri 06-Sep-13 17:42:10

YANBU. I wouldn't have bothered to ring them up, however. I would have just gone with answering every email with a polite 'Sorry, no longer available.'

ModeratelyObvious Fri 06-Sep-13 17:43:12

YANBU. A quick call to ask you a specific question, maybe - but an email asking you to come in? Nope.

sameoldIggi Fri 06-Sep-13 18:01:27

They have asked you because they know you are now SAHM. If you had left to go to another job, I can't see them asking you that.

MarshaBrady Fri 06-Sep-13 18:04:33

Yanbu at all. Good for you.

Can't believe they thought you would go in.

primroseyellow Fri 06-Sep-13 18:04:44

YANBU! They are trying it on.

motherinferior Fri 06-Sep-13 18:07:15

I'm a freelancer and I charge, baby, I charge grin I have in fact just offered to 'look over' a few things for a client, but that's after I got an extra day's money out of them...

I'd bet the farm they wouldn't do this to a man, btw.

southeastdweller Fri 06-Sep-13 18:08:10

My goodness, this is appalling they expected you to work for free.

YADNBU, absolutely not.

Tee2072 Fri 06-Sep-13 18:09:34

You absolutely did the right thing.

missinglalaland Fri 06-Sep-13 18:11:33

YANBU! Cheeky devils.

Portofino Fri 06-Sep-13 18:12:12

I would reply mentioning my hourly/daily Rate.

tiggerpigger Fri 06-Sep-13 18:14:52

Why not to a man? Im a man and have been asked for a short time to come back to a previous contract to help with something I previously worked on. They paid me me the hourly rate they paid me when I worked there.

OP, they should pay you if they want you to work. Imagine it the other way round - would you email them to ask them to transfer some money into your account without offering to do any more work for them??

RevoltingPeasant Fri 06-Sep-13 18:16:21

YANBU althoooooough..........

I do notice that you twice refer to this guy as 'my boss'. You aren't working for him anymore, right? So he isn't your boss. He's manager of XX dept at YY company.

I just wonder if somehow you still see yourself as an employee there and that is coming across to him, so he thought he'd try to take advantage iyswim?

Your response was quite right btw.

motherinferior Fri 06-Sep-13 18:16:39

I don't think a man would be asked to come in unpaid. That was my point.

RevoltingPeasant Fri 06-Sep-13 18:17:12

tigger i think the point is, the company may be assuming as she is 'just a SAHM, home all day, nothing to do' she won't mind working for free.

The crucial difference is that you went back and were paid.

MarshaBrady Fri 06-Sep-13 18:18:17

Tigger they paid you.

This kind of stuff is very irritating. All those calls and emails are already your time.

MarshaBrady Fri 06-Sep-13 18:19:26

It's the same as when people expect you to do free child care. Forget it.

expatinscotland Fri 06-Sep-13 18:20:38

YY, Marsha, and a time when boundaries need to be set out from the get go: reciprocal or paid. Or nada.

MarshaBrady Fri 06-Sep-13 18:23:07

Yep Expat. I've got my no way radar pretty finely tuned by now.

BerylStreep Fri 06-Sep-13 18:23:27

Most definitely not being unreasonable.

I assume it is public sector?

tiggerpigger Fri 06-Sep-13 18:26:57

I know they paid me, I didnt mean to imply that that was due to me being a man. I just said it to agree with the op that she should have been paid if she went back.

I was querying why someone thought that a woman might be expected to work for free but a man wouldn't.

Mintyy Fri 06-Sep-13 18:26:59

Something like this did happen to dh recently, actually.

He wrote a tv script for an event (broadcast) last year.

When the same event came around this year, a minion from the company got in touch with dh and asked if he still had the script and could he email it to him as they were just going to tweak it a bit and use it as the basis of their script this year ...

Dh (who has saved every last voice over that he has ever scripted and that runs into the thousands by now) said sorry he couldn't help as he had not kept it ...

Lilacroses Fri 06-Sep-13 18:27:56

Seriously?! My god what a bloody cheek! It would be odd enough if they'd asked sweetly but to expect you just to do it, for nothing?! Unreal! Well done for standing up to them.

luxemburgerli Fri 06-Sep-13 18:29:56

YANBU, I think.

I have some ex-bosses that I would happily do this for, because they did so much to help me move up in my career while they were my boss. But if this was the case for you, I assume you'd feel differently. So your gut reaction is going to be right on this one!

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Sep-13 18:34:32

After having DCs I went back and helped out a couple of former employers.
Having registered as self employed and agreed a pay rate.

Same reason as I never ever post tax and accounts advice online under my real name.
You want the benefit of my personal advice, cough up the money.

Talkinpeace Fri 06-Sep-13 18:38:16

Some organisations are cheeky though (yes BBC, I mean you)
Years ago I had an article about me in a national paper. I then did an interview with Radio 4. I then filmed a slot for a current affairs programme. A few months later they called again saying as the story was good they would like to film more for another programme. Certainly I said, how much will you pay me to fill your airwaves? I never heard back.

They did something similar wanting DH to work for them for free, because its the BBC. Yeah right.

Saffyz Fri 06-Sep-13 18:55:56

YANBU. Of course you shouldn't work for free! Would they do something free for you? I don't think so.

Saffyz Fri 06-Sep-13 18:56:57

> They did something similar wanting DH to work for them for free, because its the BBC.

Agree. They will do everything on the cheap and undercut paid workers by getting a freebie if they can.

lottiegarbanzo Fri 06-Sep-13 19:03:18

I suspect someone things that being a SAHM is a doss, you have time on your hands and would be happy to pop in for a couple of hours mental stimulation, for a chat and a couple of biscuits.

RenterNomad Fri 06-Sep-13 19:09:18

It doesn't matter if the OP is s SAHM now, she spent November 2012 to this summer as a freelance consultant, being paid for whatever she did. These people had absolutely no business not being used to paying for her time and attention.

Tabby1963 Fri 06-Sep-13 19:18:17

FlyingWidow,* you were right to ask for proper remuneration for your skills and experience. They wanted the benefit of your experience but did not appear to respect you enough to offer proper payment.

You put them right nicely. They did not like it but will certainly respect you more now.

You may even get another email agreeing to pay you your usual fee for your help with the spreadsheet. Plus expenses of course ;).

RenterNomad Fri 06-Sep-13 19:20:14

Oooh, lottiegarbanzo, I think you really have something with that comment about "mental stimulation"!

Oh, a SAHM will do anything for mental stimulation amongst adults.

They have evidently not heard of MN

Phineyj Fri 06-Sep-13 19:23:59

I wouldn't have even returned the email. Muppets. YANBU!

UseHerName Fri 06-Sep-13 19:55:04

betchca they wouldn't have asked a man to work for free!! yadnbu

Chelvis Fri 06-Sep-13 20:13:46

They are so rude and yes, I doubt they'd expect a man to work for free - I mean, men have mortgages and families to support, whereas us women are just spending our wages on shoes and nail polish ..... My boss called me asking for help on a project - unpaid! - after they had made me REDUNDANT. It was a great pleasure to tell her that I wouldn't. She was genuinely amazed that I didn't want to spend hours working for free after they'd left me with no income. Prats.

BerylStreep Fri 06-Sep-13 22:29:01

Talkinpeace does that make you a sleb then?

Darkesteyes Fri 06-Sep-13 23:13:05

Seems alright to expect someone on JSA to work and not get paid by the employer though in the form of workfare.
I suspect a lot of the responses on here would have been very different had this been in the OP.

Darkesteyes Fri 06-Sep-13 23:14:45

Chelvis there have been cases where people have been made redundant and had to sign on and then been made to do workfare in their old job for their JSA.

BerylStreep Sat 07-Sep-13 11:54:08

But presumably the OP is not claiming jobseekers allowance.

Hogwash Sat 07-Sep-13 12:17:59

Going against the grain, but I don't think you should have burnt your bridges like that. You may appreciate a bit of consultancy work once you have been a SAHM for a while and whilst their tone may have been off, I think you should have kept your options open.

ModeratelyObvious Sat 07-Sep-13 12:20:19

She didn't burn her bridges - she offered to come in on a day rate, which is the way she's been working with the company for nearly a year.

Hogwash Sat 07-Sep-13 12:25:39

I know Moderately - but an hour's free work for the sake of building goodwill may have been worth it. It's not easy to restart a career after being a SAHM.

expatinscotland Sat 07-Sep-13 12:33:40

They didn't want an hour, they wanted 'a bit'. For free.

specialsubject Sat 07-Sep-13 12:45:20

take no prisoners. They would have managed if you had moved away or died, they can manage now.

Catsize Sat 07-Sep-13 13:47:09

Sounds like they are suggesting error or lack of clarity on your part, in which case yabu.

lottiegarbanzo Sat 07-Sep-13 14:15:50

Rubbish, they should have checked the hand-over material and talked it through with her, or asked for it to be amended if necessary, before she left.

She could have moved to Australia! No employer can expect to keep past employees on call, without a contract.

AnneElliott Sat 07-Sep-13 14:29:49

I agree they are taking the piss. DHs old company tried that with him. He handed in his notice on a Monday, and because he had so much leave, his last day was going to be Thursday. They were up shit creek then (but could have paid an agency to replace his skills but were too tight to go that).
DH made them pay him a consultancy rate for him coming in while on leave. They also continued to pay him his usual wage. His old boss was so surprised that he wasn't going to do it for free! They also suggested that they might call his new employers to renegotiate his starting date so he could work for them a but longer. Again they were surprised to be told that he'd given notice as required in his contract and that was that. Cheeky feckers!

ModeratelyObvious Sat 07-Sep-13 14:49:33

This is work from when she was an employee in 2009 though. If it was an error made in her consultancy work. That would be different.

MinesAPintOfTea Sat 07-Sep-13 14:58:52

I offered hourly rates the day after my employment ended. Admittedly I was made redundant rather than giving notice, but if you don't work for them they need to pay you on a temporary basis.

If they come back offering to pay then yes, be as helpful as possible, but you don't want to do endless work for them for free.

And Darkest I also disagree with workfare and think the participants should be paid minimum wage. But that's a whole different debate.

AndAnother Sun 08-Sep-13 12:28:37

Yes, but she wants a reference from this guy - and she's ended up on frosty terms with him. Bit of an own goal imo.

AndAnother Sun 08-Sep-13 12:29:09

PS: Not suggesting she should have even done the work, but using some other excuse would have been better.

ModeratelyObvious Sun 08-Sep-13 12:57:44

Eh? She didn't use an excuse, she said she'd do it if she was paid for it.

How could that lead to a bad reference?

TheRobberBride Sun 08-Sep-13 13:00:20

No YANBU OP. I think you handled it very well. It is very cheeky to ask someone to do something for nothing. And employers that can get away with it often do exploit hard-working people who are concerned that if they don't do a 'favour', their references may suffer or they may not be asked to freelance again.

It happened to me recently. Before DCs, I was a lecturer at a RG university. I decided not to go back after maternity leave, but a while later was offered the option of teaching a couple of courses on an hourly-paid fxed-term basis. I agreed, taught the courses and my contract ended at the end of the university term in March. In May, I was contacted by my boss, asking me to collect exams to mark. I questioned what I would be paid and was told that no, I would not be paid at all. Apparently, it was 'standard practice' for temporary lecturing staff to mark exams for no extra payment and outside of their original fixed-term contract. It was strongly hinted that if I refused then I would not be invited to teach on any of their courses again. A nasty piece of blackmail in my opinion. I told them that they either payed me my hourly rate or I would not do the marking. They refused to cough up so I didn't do it.

RenterNomad Sun 08-Sep-13 16:51:10

AndAnother, I don't get that the OP needs a reference, especially having done work for more than one department in the company (and the other department(s) more recently), and retraining in a different field.

TheRobberBride's position was far more vulnerable. TRB, that showed great integrity! thanks

AndAnother Sun 08-Sep-13 17:57:47

Renter she said herself 'and worried about potential references as a result now of not "helping out"'

RenterNomad Sun 08-Sep-13 20:30:03

Oops, you're right: I had forgotten reading that.

Though the team which commissioned the consulting work (and paid for it properly!) would surely represent a better reference anyway, being more recent and probably appreciating her more!

ModeratelyObvious Sun 08-Sep-13 22:39:17

It's pretty serious to give a bad reference without a good reason, and being pissed off that someone won't come and work for free isn't a good reason.

flyingwidow Sun 08-Sep-13 22:55:29

Sorry... Didn't see the flurry of response come in on this. Just to go back to everyone- I haven't heard anything further from them, so presume they're sorting it.

I'm not on income support so not sure i can liken it to any unpaid work for benefits type situation.

I hate to feel that I may have 'burnt bridges'- but feel that they shouldn't have put me in that position. If they wanted my time they should have offered to have paid for it. If they had from the outset, I would have felt better. The presumption that it should be me doing them a favour was what riled me.

Agree with whoever said that they do see sahm as being a doss. One of the opening lines on the email was to the tune of 'hope you're enjoying your leisurely time off'. The initial colleague is childless and always intimated that she thought child rearing was easy! Her opening line may have been tongue in cheek...

I was very popular as a consultant- and on saying goodbye to my last bit
of work the woman I reported to intimated "any time" I needed work just to ring. So hopefully if I do need future work there would be doors open. I am retraining shortly so hopefully I won't need it! I shouldn't have to work for free to have to secure a good reference...

Still put out tbh.
Trying not to stew!!! I worked there for 8 years so hard not to take things personally!

ModeratelyObvious Sun 08-Sep-13 23:01:53

Flying, I'm sure you haven't burned bridges, that other woman sounds mighty reasonable!

RenterNomad Mon 09-Sep-13 09:29:03

So get your last "boss" to do your reference and flick Vs at the phone when any other twat tries to make out they have a hold over you. If you refuse to do the free work, they won't be entitled to write you a reference!

<imagines self-appointed "bosses" demanding favours of random passers-by, then, when refused, stalking them to their work to write bad "references" about them. In green ink>

Trills Mon 09-Sep-13 09:35:27

Freelance might begin with the word "free" but it doesn't mean that you'll work for free.

sophiedaal Mon 09-Sep-13 11:04:50

If this was something you did four years ago, it wouldn't just be a case of casting your eye over the spreadsheet - you'd presumably have to spend a few hours getting back up to speed with the details, so you could offer the right guidance.

Colleague is uncomfortable because she can't understand the details; exBoss is uncomfortable because he was supposed to have covered it, but can't understand it either. The frosty silence was the sound of his brain ticking and coming to the conclusion that they were both going to have to knuckle down and work it out for themselves, instead of getting you to 'pop in' and do it for them.

LessMissAbs Mon 09-Sep-13 11:10:50

I bet they can't be bothered with the paperwork needed to process it as work for payment. I also bet they wouldn't do it to a man.

I'd continue this OP, by sending them your terms and conditions, and a note of your hourly rate. Or asking whom to send your invoice to, and your terms for payment.

Expecting someone to work for free is utterly ridiculous.

To the poster who posted about marking uni exam scripts on a course she had been teaching, unpaid. I encountered this once at a local FE college. The hourly rate was already pretty dire, I marked the papers out of professionalism, then never worked there again. I can't think think who they would get to work for them only people who have been struck off from the profession

My current uni employer is very correct and issues new contracts for all sorts of additional work, including marking. Its damned hard work, but both my hours and hourly rate are generous, and I do a good job of it.

we have a client who not only "has no money" to pay our fees for work we've done, but also thinks that we should be continuing to work for them for free in order to help them build their business. No thought that actually this is our business which we're building and pisstakers don't really help that. Can't believe the brass neck of people.

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