Working 2 jobs with one paycheck
August 14, 2011 10:11 AM   Subscribe

My boss has me doing work for another organization that he is the head of and refuses to provide me compensation. How should I proceed?

I am a salaried employee of a non-profit in Massachusetts. I am employed by non-profit "A". The executive director(aka "boss") of A is also the head of the board for non-profit "B". During my first 90 days with A, the boss had me do work for B. Because it was during my evaluation period with the company, I did the work without question.

The work for B often interferes with my projects for A. It also tends to add an extra 15-20 hours on top of the 50-60 hours I'm already working. After my eval period was up, and a shining performance review was given, I approached the boss about compensation for the work I've been doing for B. He stated that there's no reason for me to receive extra compensation as I work for -him-, therefore I need to do any work he tells me to do, regardless of which company it's for. I responded with a "no, I am employed by A and not by -you-. "Same difference" was his response.

This doesn't feel right, much less legal. How should I proceed? To maintain the workload, I'm in the office 7 days a week for most weeks. I'm quickly getting burnt out.

Oh, looking for a new job right now is not an option; I need to get a solid year on my resume at this place before I move on.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts to Work & Money (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
First of all, you need to document, document, document. Start logging your hours as if you were a lawyer -- making it extremely clear how much work you're doing for A and how much for B.

Next, who is above your boss? Is there an HR person? Is there a board? You need to start communicating this to someone other than your boss. 50-60 hours a week doesn't sound too bad, but if you're working 80 hours a week, 7 days a week, you've got to put a stop to it.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:15 AM on August 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

I would direct an inquiry to the board of non-profit A. I'm on the board of a non-profit, and if we found out our ED was using an employee that we were paying for to work for another non-profit, the fur would fly in a major way. I would do that before approaching board B, but I'd gather contact information for that as well. (We'd have a pretty big problem in either direction, as a board, were we to encounter this scenario.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:18 AM on August 14, 2011 [5 favorites]

Define your complaint. I don't really think your complaint is that you are doing work for another company. That, in itself, is not uncommon (think contract work), probably isn't illegal (although IANAL), and has no bearing on your real complaint. Your real complaint is that you are working 65-80 hours/week regularly. You are doing yourself a disservice by talking about employer "B" as a proxy for your real complaint. If your boss really does expect you to work 65-80 hours/week, then he has a point - it doesn't matter where that 65-80 hours/week is spent to him, because that's your job. However, if you phrase it as "I am being undercompensated for working 65-80 hours/week", than that gives him a specific harm, and a specific method for redress, for him to work on. That said, he still may do nothing. If so, you can consult a lawyer, but I don't think you have any legal redress available.
posted by saeculorum at 10:21 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

document all the hours you've worked for both non-profits A & B. go to HR and/or the board of non-profit A.
posted by violetk at 10:22 AM on August 14, 2011

Are you being paid out of a grant or at least through overhead of a grant?

If so, this is probably in violation.
posted by k8t at 10:25 AM on August 14, 2011

I think you are more likely to gain traction by showing how many hours you are working rather than saying "I don't want to do work for B." How are you employed--hourly or salary?
posted by LarryC at 10:25 AM on August 14, 2011

saecolorum um…no. if non-profit A is paying your salary, the work you do should be for non-profit A. unless otherwise specified, which seems not to be the case if the OP is questioning it, why would non-profit A be paying someone to do work for another non-profit?

…it doesn't matter where that 65-80 hours/week is spent to him, because that's your job.

um, again no. again unless the OP's contract stated otherwise, the OP's job is to perform duties for non-profit A.

substitute this with the boss having the OP spend time performing personal errands for him. he can make the same argument that it doesn't matter what the OP is doing, as the OP works for the boss, not the company. completely not true.

OP, check your contract for your job description. however, saecolorum is right in that the number of hours you are working is also a problem.
posted by violetk at 10:30 AM on August 14, 2011 [8 favorites]

What would happen if you scaled back the hours and then asked him to help prioritize your work? "I'd love to get all of this done this week, but clearly that's not possible. Would you rather I focus on CompanyAWork or CompanyBWork?" Document his choice, then do as much of that as possible within reasonable hours.

I've found that some people will work you just as hard as you will let them. They make it sound as if you are seriously putting out literal fires, and that if you stop all hell will rain down (maybe because then they seem important, that they manage such a critical part of the enterprise)... but that in fact, if you state that you will only be working reasonable hours then it turns out that nobody's dying and nobody's getting fired. Wonder if that's true with your boss? Surely not everyone is working 80 hours a week? Including your boss?
posted by Houstonian at 10:39 AM on August 14, 2011 [10 favorites]

I'm not saying it's a "good thing" that OP is working for another non-profit, I'm saying that the fact is irrelevant to his compensation. Employers purchase your time and exchange money for that time. If they aren't giving you enough money for the time, that is the problem. If you don't like the work done, you ask for more money. By conflating the compensation issue with what work is being done, OP puts himself at a disadvantage because the boss gets the wrong impression. If I were the boss, based on OP's post, I could see OP as complaining more about the *type* of work done even though they are well-compensated for. If the boss perceive's OP's complaint as that way, the boss will (legitimately) point out that the OP is being compensated for their time and that the OP has no position to complain about the type of work done.

Also, non-profit A could be helping non-profit B if OP's skillset is limited or exclusive to non-profit A. If it is the case that non-profit A is not funded by restrictive grants, I really don't see any problem with it. Organizations work for each other all the time. As a (for-profit) employee, I work for other companies about 90% of the time.
posted by saeculorum at 10:40 AM on August 14, 2011

Saeculorum, you might be right that doing work for B is expected and above-board, but if "The work for B often interferes with my projects for A" I tend to doubt it, and I'd be really, really curious what the board for A thinks about it.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:43 AM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]

Saeculorum, doing work for non-profit B is most likely not OK. If the OP's boss is on the board of the non-profit B, and is making the OP do work for non-profit B but having non-profit A pay for that work, something fishy is definitely going on. Plus, it is not simply the OP's totaly work hours that are the problem. OP says he has 50-60 actual hours of work, plus 15-20 hours of extra work for non-profit B. Anyone else would expect to be paid for that work by non-profit B. Why would non-profit A increase his salary to pay for that work? It would be like me going to my boss and asking for a raise because of all the work I do at another job. It's even worse, actually, because I'm doing all the work on company time.
posted by Nightman at 10:53 AM on August 14, 2011 [4 favorites]

I'm pretty sure the IRS frowns upon this sort of thing.
posted by rhizome at 11:00 AM on August 14, 2011

also, saeculorum, i'd put money on the boss being compensated by both non-profits.
posted by violetk at 11:04 AM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Going to the board is all fine and dandy, but you may end up getting fired.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:22 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't think you "need" to put one year in either. If you explain this situation to another employer no rational person is going to hold it against you. And if they do, that's a good thing too because you do not want to work for that person anyway.
posted by COD at 11:27 AM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm going to suggest that you not get into a legal or semantic fight with your boss over this. Absolutely document your hours and which projects they go for. Make a spreadsheet or, easier, get a notebook and keep a running tally as you go and transfer it weekly to your spreadsheet. Stop working insane uncompensated overtime! That's the heart of the issue. Don't try to catch him in a misdeed to get your way. That's likely to backfire. But be prepared if you need to escalate. Start with honey before you resort to vinegar.
posted by amanda at 11:39 AM on August 14, 2011

I'm the director of an NPO. What your boss is doing is wrong (unless, of course, this is a Board approved effort to assist organization B).

My advice would be to document this work for a few weeks (as an example) and then ask for a meeting with the president of the Board of organization A.

Be aware, however, that many NPO Boards are rubber stamp bodies, they approve anything that the ED puts before them. If the Board of organization A is not truly providing effective oversight, be prepared to lose your job.
posted by tomswift at 12:15 PM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

As an ED of one non-profit who sits on the board of another, I can tell you that this is definitely wrong, unless non-profit A and B have some sort of partnership agreement that allows for the sharing of resources.

It's going to depend on the Board of A as to your best way to proceed. If they are a 'puppet board' or all the cronies of your boss, there's not a lot you can do except for following the suggestions above to negotiate the amount of hours you're actually working and ask your boss to help you prioritize those activities he would like you to undertake in the hours you are actually have. Having said that, he sounds like a bit of a jerk, and I would suggest you're better off looking for another position.

If, however, the board of A is a reasonably well-functioning board who are actually interested in the well-being of organization A, I would either got to the Board members most invested in HR (perhaps the board has an HR committee?), or someone who you feel you can trust to be tactful and discreet, and express your concerns. It will give you a chance to feel out whether the board is aware of how the ED is running the organization, and whether they think that it is okay. Ultimately the board is responsible for the oversight of organization A, and if they are a half-decent board, they should take that responsibility seriously enough to look into it. Yes, there are boards that wouldn't act in such circumstances, but there are also many that would be appalled, and who would want to correct the problem.

As to how big a problem this actually is, it depends on how similar the missions of the two organizations are. Legally, if org. B is similar to org. A in it's work, your boss can legally justify this work-sharing arrangement as a way for A to further it's mission by supporting other similar, like-minded organizations, and it's simply up to the board to decide if they're okay sharing resources. However, if org. B is something completely different than org. A - for example, a foodbank and a sports organization, than this resources sharing is not only unethical, it is likely illegal.

Good luck sorting it out - it's a pretty horrible position to be in.
posted by scrute at 12:38 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Currently, I would describe your situation this way: "You are working 50 hours a week for Org A and "volunteering" for Org B 15-20 hours per week." This wording makes you look like a super hero.

But no matter how you word the situation, it is clearly miserable for you, and you want to know how to make it stop.

In addition to the great suggestions above, perhaps discuss with bossperson and/or the board of org A the need to document your volunteer hours for Org B so that you can, I don't know, use that experience to your advantage when it comes time to apply for grad school. Or to help Org A and/or B get additional grants in the future. Because, you see, the more documented man hours that B receives, the better chances of grants being awarded? Right? Right?

As others have said above, if the board of A is full of puppets or otherwise crappy, you stand a good chance of losing your job. Proceed with caution.
posted by bilabial at 12:45 PM on August 14, 2011

I'm not saying it's a "good thing" that OP is working for another non-profit, I'm saying that the fact is irrelevant to his compensation. Employers purchase your time and exchange money for that time.

In this case, however, the employer is not using the employer's money to compensate. The employer is using the money of donors who gave to a specific cause and grants made for a specific purpose. It is highly unethical to use money given to "Friends of Puppies" for work for "East Bumblescum Historical Society". The NPO could lose grants and sever relationships with donors.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:17 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

It sounds like your biggest problem is the workload. I would start to set limits there, then ask for help prioritizing the work. That's your first step in getting back to sanity if you want to hang in there for a year.

We don't know from the information you provided whether or not these requests are ethical or legal. Is the other nonprofit's work related to the goals of your nonprofit? Nonprofits are mission-driven, and sometimes accomplishing that mission requires working in close partnership with other nonprofits. Nonprofits frequently work in coalitions. Sometimes they even memorialize staff sharing agreements with a Memorandum of Understanding. For instance, I work at a non-profit and serve on an advisory committee for another. My boss is fully aware of this. If my committee duties included having to set up a meeting, and if I had an assistant, I very well might ask them to do this -- because my boss and I have made the decision that this committee work is the fastest route to accomplishing our organization's goals. So, take munchingzombie's example. Using "Friends of Puppies" donations to do work for the "East Bumblescum Historical Society" might NOT be wrong if Friends of Puppies works in East Bumblescum, has long had difficulty getting approval for its puppy protection plans due to historical preservation zoning requirements, and has made historical preservation compliance one of its priorities. If the boss wants help running the "East BumbleScum Animal Shelter Planning Committee," this could all be on the up-and-up.

But suppose it's not. Analyze the power dynamics here: if the Board and the ED got in a fight, would they fire him, or would he work the politics to have the complaining board members ousted? If the Board is clueless and has no spine (to be crass), then wait until you're ready to quit to say anything (and try to do this as quickly as possible if he's corrupt and poorly managing the organization). On the other hand, if the board has leaders committed to the cause, I'd find two board members who seem like level-headed and diplomatic leaders, and ask to meet with them separately. Emphasize your devotion to puppies and to the success of Friends of Puppies, bring work samples or be prepared to articulate your accomplishments, and note your respect for their leadership. Then let them know what your concerns are and talk about why they hurt the organization (not how they annoy you). Let them know that you're talking to the other person. Be humble and say that you defer to their decision, but that you just wanted to make sure the board was aware of and involved in this decision.
posted by salvia at 3:02 PM on August 14, 2011

If you've documented your hours with both organizations, do you actually need a full year (as in Jan to Jan) or can you state on your resume that you have X amount of hours working with Y and Z organizations to equate to a year? (50 weeks @ 40 hrs./week = 2000)

Doesn't matter who you work for, if you're working 30 hours you get paid for 30; if you work 55, you get paid for 55. If he's not going to pay overtime, or at least your hourly wage, then show the boss that you've put in your 40 and go home.

And take it to the board.
posted by BlueHorse at 3:51 PM on August 14, 2011

He stated that there's no reason for me to receive extra compensation as I work for -him-, therefore I need to do any work he tells me to do, regardless of which company it's for. I responded with a "no, I am employed by A and not by -you-. "Same difference" was his response.

Nthing that this is not "same difference" whatsoever. The Executive Director does not own the nonprofit.

He reports to the Board, who may not be too keen on him misrepresenting the administrative overhead of both nonprofits. But yeah, echoing that it has much to do with the temperament of your BOD.
posted by desuetude at 4:53 PM on August 14, 2011

(unless, of course, this is a Board approved effort to assist organization B).

Check this out before deciding on your course of action.
posted by smoke at 5:23 PM on August 14, 2011

Try to work it out with your manager first by doing a start stop continue exercise. Be sure to present to your manager your eagerness to help the organization and your need to sift through the priorities he has given you. Set some boundaries about your need for work life balance. Be sure to document the projects be has assigned you for at non-profit b.
posted by humanfont at 9:17 PM on August 14, 2011

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