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... 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....


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!

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