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home : columns : dear harriette October 20, 2020

7/17/2020 8:16:00 AM
Employee doing extra tasks without being paid

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am doing things at work that are not part of my job description, and I'm not getting paid for them. I'm well respected at my job, which is why people trust me with these tasks, and while I don't mind doing favors once in a while, I'm not getting paid for these favors. It's becoming a pattern. I work for a small business, and I'm very close to everyone. There's a sense of loyalty among all of the co-workers. How should I approach this situation without burning bridges or causing conflict? Should I ask to get paid, or should I just stop doing the tasks entirely? -- Drawing the Line

DEAR DRAWING THE LINE: On one hand, especially in small offices, people tend to pitch in and handle functions that need to be addressed simply because there is a need. On the other hand, these duties should either be shared by office mates or assigned to a particular person as a job responsibility.

This is a tricky situation. I recommend that you observe and evaluate it carefully. Make sure you are not being too sensitive. Are these extra duties so far beyond your scope of work that they should be handled by another? Or should your job responsibilities expand to include these tasks? Do you believe you deserve additional compensation to do them? Or are they distracting you from completing your job? Does anyone else have random additional job functions to fulfill?

After your evaluation, speak to your supervisor. Explain that you are a team player, but you feel uncomfortable having to take on these functions that are outside your scope of work. Point out that only you are being asked to do these things -- if that is true. What seems fair is for extra tasks to be evenly divided if there is no set person to handle them. Just know that pitching in is considered an asset at a job, as long as it isn't abused by your employer.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a 38-year-old woman, and I think one of my friends may be in an abusive marriage. I noticed these patterns in the last couple of months when I would sometimes see bruises on her after they had big conflicts. He has always been controlling of what she does and where she goes, but it has started to get even worse. She always seemed to put up with his controlling behavior, though I occasionally pointed out that it was a bit much. I am particularly worried now that they are in quarantine together and I am not able to see her as often. I try to call her, but it's hard to communicate with her while he's in the house. How can I help my friend? -- Friend in Need

DEAR FRIEND IN NEED: Next time you talk to your friend, suggest that if she is ever in need of rescue, she can use a keyword that sounds natural as an indicator to you that she is asking for help. She can call you, text you or otherwise reach out to you and say that word -- like "pineapple" or "dance class," anything that would not be a natural trigger for her husband but that would indicate to you that you should come pick her up or call the police to rescue her.

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