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What would you do?

July 17th, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Iím in this weird, uncomfortable situation with my job.

As you may remember, the recruiter agency that told me about this job arbitrarily lowered the rate of pay, from the $35/hr that it initially told me about to $34/hr when I got the offer from the employer. After a few weeks on the job, they tried to lower it AGAIN, to $33/hr. and when I balked, the recruiter (a friend I worked with on a previous job) told me heíd pay me the difference of $1/hr out of his own pocket every week. His hope is that the relatively small upfront outlay will pay off down the road if they get more business from the employer who hired me.
So Iíve been there about 7 weeks now and each week heís cut me a check for usually about $25. (Iím only working 3 days a week.)

Iíve been unhappy with the weird arrangement, but what am I going to do? I need the job. Iíve also been concerned because Iíve worried that if this job goes long term without a perm offer, the recruiter is not going to want to keep paying me that extra $$ forever.
Last week, my boss at the job told me not to come in on Monday because it so happened that neither she nor 2nd in command would be in. Wasnít happy that my 3 days was shrinking to 2, but again, I donít have much say in the matter. She said work has been a little slow.

So as has been my habit, I told my recruiter friend the total number of hours worked, so he could mail me a check.

I got an email from him yesterday saying given my abbreviated week last week, he thought it was safe to say weíre ďall setĒwith the money he pays me. In other words, he wants to skip the check for last week and heís hoping I wonít mind. Umm, given my abbreviated work week, I need it even more! Iím pissed that heís using a shorter work week as some kind of excuse to not pay me, perhaps because it would amount to $15 for that week. Iíd like to tell him he can just add that on to this weekís check.
I mean, his company/recruiting company already ripped me off from the $35/hr.

Not only that, but I was told by him the job was full time, and it wasnít until 10 minutes into my very first day on the job that I learned from my manager that they decided to start me at 3 days a weekÖ.ĒDidnít anyone tell you?Ē she said.

Umm, no, no one did. Who dropped the ball? Was it the employer who didnít tell the recruiter or was it the recruiter who didnít tell me? In hindsight, I could have kept my other p/t proofreading job AND this one and I could have been working full time all this time. (Truth be told, I was happy to leave the other job, so boring and low paying.) But it would have been nice to have a backup plan, just in case.

So how would you deal with the email? I was going to just let it go, itís just $15. Every dollar counts with me, believe me. Iím not working full-time and I have a lot of deferred expenses from almost 4 years of under-employment. Yet Iím reluctant to pressure my recruiter friend becus he sincerely is a very nice guy. I guess this is one example of how mixing business with personal friendships is not always a good idea.

18 Responses to “What would you do?”

  1. Jenn Says:

    Your recruiter doesn't sound trustworthy. I wouldn't be surprised if the additional checks from him stop completely.

  2. creditcardfree Says:

    I'd call him out on it. He's trying to get away with it AGAIN...and he should not.

  3. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    oy, this pay:workhour set up is primarily on verbal terms, which is so unadvisable. I just briefly read over the post, but all does not look good from an outsider. Economy seems to be stronger, better job out there?

  4. ceejay74 Says:

    I guess to not make a federal case of the $15 but let him know he's on probation, I'd email something like "I don't understand why you think we're 'all set' in this case. I'll let it go this week, but please know that if our arrangement falls by the wayside, I'll be forced to tell the agency and the employer what's happened and demand the $34 rate I was promised."

  5. Miz Pat Says:

    I agree that a verbal agreement like this isn't going to last and could also damage your friendship.

  6. creditcardfree Says:

    An attorney, department of labor? Who would be a good resource to go to for advice on how to rectify the problem? And I don't mean just the $15, but the entire agreement. Clearly, at some point you would need to tell the agency, then the employer the problem. If your friend is the problem, saying anything to get you to take the job, then he is in the wrong and should take the consequences. The real problem is you don't know what the true agreements are between the other parties.

    Good luck, PS. You deserve to have the job AND pay you were promised.

  7. SecretarySaving Says:

    Losing trust in him with not following through on the money arrangement and not getting the hours that you need. I doubt the job will go perm. I'd utilize the time there contacting recruiters and finding a better opportunity.

  8. Analise Says:

    This is a sticky situation. It sounds like the recruiter was trying to help you (by paying you extra $ out of his own pocket to honor the pay rate you were promised) and help himself by not losing the commission from your employer. It's too bad the recruiter has now reneged, but with a verbal agreement, I don't see a lot of options.

    I'm playing devil's advocate... How long do you think he can reasonably be expected to subsidize your pay out of his own pocket? It can't continue indefinitely because at some point, he will have paid you more than he earned in commission. I agree you need the extra money more than ever because of reduced work days and you have counted on this payment as part of your budget. If he is someone whose friendship you value, I'd talk to him in person and try to reach an understanding.

  9. baselle Says:

    As someone who got caught in perma temp land in the 90s, I have to agree with SecretarySaving. Assume all verbals are worth the paper they're printed on, and plan for the next leap with another recruiter.

    There has to be somebody on the east coast whose not a scumbag that's hiring.

  10. PNW Mom Says:

    I don't see this situation working long term, as far as him paying you out of has sounded a bit suspicious from the beginning...that being said, I really hope it works out for you.

  11. snafu Says:

    I seem to have a different recollection of the hiring process for this employment...At your job interview it was made clear you would be required to work on-site, 5 days ea. week. 'J' felt certain you would become permanent staff fairly quickly so his 'subsidy' would be short term. I don't recall how a full time job became 3 day PT on day one, what a gigantic change in terms and conditions! I'd suggest listing with J and any suitable agency for any other job; the employer pays applicable fees .
    Good on you for mastering the art of using a battery op drill/screw driver. It totally advances so many small household tasks to totally do-able DIY. [I find a video on YouTube to feel more confident] Bamboo roll up blinds need practice to tightly roll as you manage string mechanism. I thought the pictured strips might be an optional valence. I have the 2" venetian type blinds which function well hung from the top, outside edges of the window frame. I attached the cleats about two fingers past the window frame on the drywall about 4 fingers from the bottom of the window frame as it seems neater and more cohesive. You may need to use wall anchors depending on your wall's composition.

  12. PatientSaver Says:

    Well, I got an interesting range of opinion. Thank you.

    I knew the out of pocket payments from John could not last forever, and I said as much to him when we started this. He agreed, but neither of us put any kind of timeline on it. I was hoping at least for a few months, and here it is about 7 weeks into it already. I hope it doesn't dry up too soon, because I really have no leverage to do anything about it except possibly complain to both my employer and the Dept of Labor. Which I would have done except that I can't do that because I know John on a personal level. I just don't think I could do that to John.

    Here's what I did do. I started out writing an email reply to John in my characteristic straight-forward way by saying I get that you don't want to pay me. Here's my situation though, and then explain why I really need the money. But I realized that while he would probably end up giving me the money out of sheer guilt (he went through the same out of work struggles I did, for several years), it would make our ongoing relationship kind of uncomfortable, I think, becus I would have basically put some emotional pressure on him, which I don't like doing. (We don't have any doings with each other outside of this job he got me, but we were at one time very friendly on the job as we worked closely together.)

    Instead of doing that, I responded back to some other points in his email and casually referenced the money by saying that if he wanted to just combine the money he owed me from last week into this week's check, that would be fine. I just touched on it briefly. In other words, I sort of played dumb as to understanding his true intent, which was trying to avoid paying me the money from last week. Whether it works or not, who knows. I'm more concerned with the long-range aspects of this job, so the difference between $33 and $34/hr isn't going to kill me, I guess, although GOD, it seems like every time I turn around, someone's trying to squeeze me for soe money.

    To answer snafu's question, I only learned it was no longer a full time job on my very first day on the job, 10 minutes into it, in fact, when my new manager was showing me around, She said oh, we decided we'd start you at 3 days a week....didn't anyone tell you??

    That still rankles me. I didn't want to make a fuss right then, 10 minutes into my first day with my new boss. Truth be told, there's no way I could commute to this job 5 days a week. I would probably do 4 days a week, though, and am more or less content to do 3, although I think I should be making more money than I am on an hourly basis. However, I am a patient person (hence my name) whereas John seems very impatient to move things along with me and this job, either to get a perm position there or to increase my hours. He may be getting prodded by his boss to do so, I don't know. At the time I learned this, I relayed the details to John, but I never really pressed him to tell me where the communication breakdown occurred, or why I didn't learn about this before I started. In a way it didn't matter, given the stupid commute.

    John has made it known that he makes money on this deal either way, whether I continue temping (some kind of ongoing stream of revenue) or if they hire me as a perm (a lump sum payoff). Still, he keeps pushing me to ask about more work, and asking me to let him know if I hear anything about their hiring plans (for other people), etc.

    SecretarySavings, I still think the job COULD go perm, because there are some huge projects coming up that I know they want me to help them with. The timing on when that's going to happen is a little uncertain, though. I spoke to my 2nd manager there and he said hopefully ASAP, but he didn't really know. Basically, they're getting a new proprietary content management system there and there will be a ton of work for me in inputting all their hundreds of products into the new system. It's possible they wanted me primarily for that project, but when they finally "found" me and liked me, they maybe were afraid if they didn't start me right away I'd go elsewhere, so they're trying to keep me busy with the abbreviated work schedule. Just thinking out loud.

    I am most certainly looking for other jobs, due to the tenuous nature of this gig as well as the lengthy commute, but the job market is as dried up as it ever was. I'm basically stuck there until something better comes along, but that could be 6 months from now.

    All told, this whole job thing has been handled pretty poorly. I think it's a combination of this really crappy and unethical agency that John works for as well as possibly some sloppy stuff by John. Oh well.

  13. Kiki Says:

    I ised to work with a temp/recruiter agency years ago. I started as a temp through them someplace else and then they hired me to work with and manage the accounts of the recruiters.

    Often i was fixing problems on the client side of the contract or clarifying their needs and rates prior to the contracts being signed but also working with the temp employees.

    My experience: you are probably getting about 65% of what the company is paying the recruiters company to hire you, if that much.

    A negotiation tactic for you when you are negotiating the perm company is to find out what the company is currently paying J's company. If it is closer to $60 an hour, and it probably is, you know you have a stronger negotiating line wih the perm company. You can get paid for per hour but they still save some money in salary costs by being under what J's company is being paid.

    What ever you do, do not let J's company negotiate the hiring of you with the perm company. They will short your pay wih the company to make more money. You negotiate the final offers and they can have their "finders fee"

    How many months do you have to work temp before the contract begins reducing the "final finders fee" your perm company has to pay? The longer the contract with recruiter companies/temp companies the less they get as a final payment which is probaby why J wants to know what you are hearing.

    In my day admin staff were 90 contracts with a choice to hire perm with asmallfinder fee paid or hire directly before 90 days and pay a higher fee. Professionals were usually 5-7 months with the average being 6 months but if theytKe you earlier then they pay a higher rate to J.

    I thought you did have it is writing that he would subsidize the rate, not verbal? But if not once he replies to your email then it is in writing that he is subsidizing the rate and you have him then.

    Good luck with your decision and i think your "misunderstanding" email was the way to go.

  14. PatientSaver Says:

    Thank you, Kiki, for that very valuable information. (See, this is what's so great about SA....I get so much helpful info I just wouldn't have access to in my small sphere of friends/colleagues/etc.

    Thank you for warning me not to let John negotiate my perm salary if that opportunity arises. Becus he's been talking all along about when "we" make our next move, and "I think I can get you $80K," etc.(The $80K was based on f/t.) He's kept in close touch with me, asking me to tell him details about the work I'm doing, if I hear of other job openings at the company, etc. I have been very forthcoming with this info becus I wanted to return the favor of his paying me out of pocket and all, but I haven't told him I've been looking for other jobs at the same time. (He had asked me to give him a heads up if I got another job elsewhere, so i guess he knows that's a possibility, but honestly, there are so few jobs in my area.)

    Where exactly do I stand when it comes to saying, I want to negotiate my pay myself? Is this an optional thing, or not?

    I don't have John's original offer to subsidize my pay in writing; it was done verbally when he met me outside my office one day after work. I'm sure I have numerous emails since then where he references sending me that week's check, or asking me how many hours I worked so he can write that check. I don't think his employer knows he's doing this; i think it's just something john thought up to basically keep me from squawking too much, and partly becus we do have a friendly history together. I doubt he'd do that for every employee he works with or he'd soon be broke. So I'm doing my best to make it worth his while by helping him out with tips about other openings in the company. I just forwarded him an email I got about a job fair, and not only does it say my employer will be attending, but it lists 3 specific jobs my company is seeking to fill.

  15. PatientSaver Says:

    About that $80K....if he said he thought he could get me $80K, then i guess that job is really worth so much more. See, the flip side of working with a recruiter who was a friend is that he also has knowledge of my situation that a recruiter normally wouldn't have.

    Meaning, when we worked together at the same time, we were both disgruntled. I knew I was getting vastly underpaid; he hated his manager. At my suggestion (I was preparing to ask for more money and wanted to know how much John made, since we had identical jobs), we agreed to share our salaries with each other. Turned out he was making $80K and I was making $70K.

    So he knows that $80K would probably sound pretty good to me since 4 years ago i was making $10K less, and he knows that since my layoff i probably haven't made anything close to that.

    Maybe I should assume the going rate on this job would be $90K if John suggests $80K. The city where the job is located IS in the epicenter of the Fairfield County jobs market; it's where a disproportionate share of the jobs are, and it's where the jobs pay the highest.

  16. Kiki Says:

    In my experience the company will talk to you about your future and if they want to have you perm with them. Depending how your relationship is with them they may just offer you a salary but knowing what they are already paying for you is the importnat piece of the puzzle. It was rare that the recruiter would actuallydo the perm negotiations beyond the finder fee payment because it usually meant they were losing a good worker. Those that didnt get asked to be perm usually weren't tops.

    They may start nego with J but ask him not speak on your behalf when it comes time to negotiate. Not before that but sometimes the contracts are written such that if they negotiate laas with you the finder fee is more. Would J tell you how much they are paying him? If you begin nego just ask so what are they currently paying for me and see if he will divulge. Sometimes recruiters do.

    Please excuse typos. Typing on phone while housesitting.

  17. fe2o3ez Says:

    As an independent reader of your blog, I have the luxury of commenting on this without an emotional influence. After all, that is the benefit of the SA community. It will come across as cold, but please know that I am not trying to be rude so much as I am trying to bring you to the reality of your situation, based on some facts that have been stated (either explicitly or implicitly). Here's what I see:

    1. Do you have a budget that you review each month? Does it include a $200 payment to your employer each month, or at a rate of $50/week? That's what you have given your employer. Somehow, the $35 rate you were promised became $33, and regardless of what the recruiter is giving you (and I will come to this later), you are letting the employer off the hook for the extra $50/wk. That's already $350 out of your pocket in the past 7 weeks. Are you comfortable with the arrangement?

    2. Now for the checks from the recruiter. Let's term these as Charity, or Goodwill donations from him to you. Term term as anything related to employment and you have unreported income. Dont want that. So it is charity contributions from him to you. Problem is, charity is a personal decision and can be rescinded at any point with no written agreement. Yes, I believe he is looking for an opportunity to get out of paying you the $25 each week, and was hoping this would open the door to that. Your email response was a good first step, but I think you need to have a strong conversation with him that 'encourages' him to revisit the pay with your employer. Get the employer to fork over the original rate and he doesnt need to supplement it anymore. Until then, keep him on the hook for it. It is your only leverage on him.

    3. As far as the FT job possibilities. I dont know what kind of job this is, but I would think if you are getting $33/hr part time, that means that the recruiting agency is getting maybe $36-40 (10-20% margin). That means an $80k FT position would break even for the employer, not counting any agency fees or burden. I would expect that $80-90k is reasonable, not a stretch, and you should have no issue obtaining that with your own negotiating skills. If you have proved to be reliable and the job is stable, the employer should want to keep you around.

    4. Your relationship. The end of your OP read: "I guess this is one example of how mixing business with personal friendships is not always a good idea." Enough said. Quietly go about working with another agency and finding a position that pays you what you are worth. Conduct yourself professionally and have a straightforward conversation with your current friend/recruiter when the time is right. He should understand.

    Networking is a powerful thing. Take advantage of the support group on this site and elsewhere in your life. We know people who know people who know people... We can get you in touch with recruiters that can help you out. There is no reason to stay in a bad situation and dormantly accept it. I know I personally have over 200 recruiters in my LinkedIn network and would be more than happy to put you in touch with some. Let us help you help yourself.

    Good luck.

  18. PatientSaver Says:

    Fe2, I don't take offense at your comments; I appreciate your objectivity.

    Of course I'm not happy with the situation. It's highly unusual. But it was foisted on me; I wasn't in a position to refuse the job at the time the first pay rate cut was announced, and I had already started working when they did that to me again. I did tell John that if he wasn't the one I was dealing with, I would have reported the agency's behavior to the employer, and probably also gone to Dept of Labor about it. Don't know if I personally would have benefitted from doing so, but my hunch is this would not put the agency in a very good light.

    Yes, I'm aware of the tenuous nature of the situation with the voluntary payments from John and I am quite sure he wishes to stop the payments. I don't want to let him off the hook for those payments, but truth be told, I have very little if any leverage should he finally get the gumption to tell me he's had enough. If he does, I'm not sure I have it in me to be sufficiently nasty because of our prior personal friendship. That's probably my Achilles heel in this matter.

    Of course I am looking for other positions because a) the commute sucks b) these payments on the side won't last forever and c) I need to work more than 23 hours a week.

    Thanks again for your comments.

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