I am in a dilemma. Should I ask her to pay up?

Hi ozbargainers

We own a hair salon. Long story short, we do people's hair for weddings. Recently,one of my employee's daughter got married. So we did bride's hair , bridesmaids' hair, groom's hair , best men's hair all in one day. We tried to help out. My employee said she will foot the entire bill which total about $900 but will only be able to do so after Xmas when she is expecting to run into some money. I agreed.
Now comes the twist, 2 days ago I heard the tragic news that the bride and groom got into car accident and passed away while honeymooning overseas.

Now I am facing the dilemma, morally I think I should just write off the debt but on the other hand a debt is a debt, I delivered the service , my employee should pay up . Should I wait a little longer in new year till everything settles down , then bring up the debt issue?
I am also facing the fact that I will have to pay her some compassionate leaves which will total about $300. And her Xmas bonus this year is another $250.

What would you do?

Comments

  • +25 votes

    Sad news. Personally I would wait until the new year, unless you are struggling for cash. Your employee may even raise it up before had.

    • +5 votes

      @Iamgenerous im writing to you Iamgenerous

      I read all of the comments and All I can say according to your responses is that you are an asshole.

      I see its 900$ job but the money you really spent on makeups and staffs would never go over 100-200$ max so you wont lose any thing more than that for sure. every single human can understand her situation. its like 2-4times full bucket of fuel.

      I dont know if you have a pet like a dog or a car but im pretty sure if you have/had one you would have spent much more than that on that pet than a human. I dont know whats going on with us !

    • +7 votes

      All that comes to mind is scrooge removing the pennies from the eyes of his dead partner. OP, you sir are not a good person.

  • +113 votes

    That is terrible, really is. The last thing your employee needs right now is to be reminded of a debt when she has just lost her daughter. Give her a month before reminding her, or absorb the loss as a gesture of good will ($900 might have been the total price charged, but what was the actual real cost to you?) and you may reap that back in employee morale.

    • +40 votes

      This is what i would absorb the loss as a gesture of good will. i feel in long run you be better off with employee morale. you find you get it back 10 fold happy staff make for happy life.

    • +19 votes

      I agree with the morale bit. Gossip spreads around the workplace, so you have to consider what your trusted employees will think of you, the boss, if you make such a decision.

    •  

      Coincided with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens in 1843.

    • +3 votes

      This is a site dedicated to saving money, we are all tightarses here; yet (it may be the holiday season generosity speaking) i think that if most oz-bargainers were in your shoes they would want to give your employee some space and show some compassion. She will likely remember it down the track and will probably raise the issue herself. so my suggestion would be to be patient and wait it out, its not like your employee is going to suddenly disappear.

  • +171 votes

    Consider it a donation and write it off. You just might have a grateful employee for life.

  • +125 votes

    I think it would be a particularly heartless employer to bring this up, ever. If the employee offers to pay, tell her to keep the money.

    And you should forget about it.

    •  

      I would bring it up.
      I would remind her about the money and then I would tell her to forget about it.
      Don't sweep it under the carpet, turn it around into a tangible and well identified gesture of goodwill.

  • +25 votes

    That's a tough one.

    I'd consider how I'd feel in that situation, then realise I didn't have the faintest idea of the actual devastation that she must feel, ask myself why the compassionate leave is only $300 and work out another way to help her.

    You have a business to run. We get that. Many of us here also have our own businesses or manage businesses or work in businesses as people managers. We know that there are challenges like this every day, but the one thing I have come to realise is that without good staff, you're f-cked. Think about it for a moment; if you replaced all of your current staff with mediocre staff who did the job for 10% less, would your business survive? How many of your customers would return?

    I am going to assume this particular employee has been with you for a while and you would under normal circumstances consider her an asset who has clients who come back to see her. At this point, the asset may not be offering the same returns as she has in the past, given that one of her kids has been tragically killed. I don't sell a warehouse just because I have a tenant move out and have to wait 2-3 months for a new one to move in and start paying the lease again. I have to ride it out. I hate it, I want my returns sooner and am bitter that I'm out of pocket during that time, but I'm always happy when the lease payments kick off again. As a hair dresser,if she's worth her salt, her clients will come looking for her - let them know she's off due to the loss of a close family member and perhaps consider having a small condolence book or cards that they could writer her a personal message in. Imagine feeling that not only did you employer value you enough to want to do something more, but that your regulars had taken a moment too to write a few kind words.

    If you handle this well, your regulars will see another hairdresser in the interim and your hairdresser will be back to work at some stage. She's not going to be 100% in the beginning. She'll be fine one day and then someone will say something that triggers a memory and she'll break down in tears, and that's OK. If you've never lost a child then I think it's unreasonable to judge what she's going through.

    Per the above comment, the bill might have been $900, but what was your actual cost (hourly rate of those hairdressers who worked on the bridal party multiplied by the number of hours)? That's what you are really out of pocket. Yes, you have an opportunity cost too for the other potential appointments that you missed, but I'm asking the genuine cash out of your pocket. Is that number so unreasonable?

    She she pays you without prompting, good for you. Personally, I'd write it off and consider it an investment in loyalty.

    Now I'll be blunt and offer my first thought when I read your post:
    If she's lost a child and the compassionate leave is $300, she's either struggling for cash and desperate to get back to work to keep a roof over her head, or you're an unreasonable manager. Neither is particularly positive and both are things you can influence directly. It's Christmas. Do what you'd hope someone did for you.

    • -25 votes

      Employee has been with us 2 years. Not one I will consider an asset. Always last one to arrive, first one to leave. Takes sick leave all the time. Had a few warning letters to her name already for bunch of reasons. You get the picture, hardly worth keeping. I would say probably only a handful of customers will know her name and no one ever specifically asks her for haircut.
      Probably costs me about at most $200 cost my best estimate but like you mention, lost opportunity to serve other customers.
      Compassionate leave is by law. At $150 (what she is being paid per day )approximately, she is entitled to 2 days of compassionate leave for death in family.

      • +20 votes

        I would personally leave it - consider it some good karma. Not all of us in life are good in employment and when we fall on our feet it's nice when someone can have our back.

        I feel sorry for the lady, what a tragedy

        • +44 votes

          Firstly, karma doesn't exist so forget about that.

          Secondly, let this be a lesson to everyone that you should never give an unsecured loan to anyone unless you're prepared to write it off.

          Thirdly, you should quantify the total cost of each option to you (this is difficult) and take the cheapest option.

          Quantify and consider the costs of individual factors such as:

          • Guilt on your conscience
          • Damaged reputation with other employees
          • Revenge from the employee
          • Lost productivity while you find a replacement employee
          • The outstanding debt ($900)
          • The Xmas bonus ($250)
          • Continued and possibly amplified lost productivity from the employee
          • etc

          It sounds like you should've sacked her already and you're now either in a very unfortunate predicament or the victim of a con.

        • +17 votes

          @Scrooge McDuck:

          By name, by reputation.

        • -16 votes

          @Scrooge McDuck: "Firstly, karma doesn't exist so forget about that."
          It definitely does…

        •  

          @Gaggy:

          You're too smart, sober and nowhere near arrogant enough to be a Gaggy. Which one did you marry? :p

        • +4 votes

          @Scrooge McDuck:

          Victim of a con? $900 vs life of daughter?

          I myself would find it difficult to discuss this topic with your employee. However, one thing about marketing that I have learnt, if someone receives good service they will tell one person. When they receive bad service they will tell 10.

          Is there a chance that by asking for the money that your employee would tell many people the story? How would those people think?

          Write it (900) off as a tax loss. Let the employee grieve.

        •  

          @Scrooge McDuck:

          What the Duck said. End of the day you are running a business not a charity.

        • +1 vote

          @jzx100:

          Sure he is, but how often do you come across these situations? Be a human being now and deal with the other matters later.

        • +1 vote

          LOL
          The sad truth is that the universe doesn't give a rats arse if you're good or bad but the people you know will.

      • +1 vote

        "Employee has been with us 2 years. Not one I will consider an asset. Always last one to arrive, first one to leave. Takes sick leave all the time. Had a few warning letters to her name already for bunch of reasons. You get the picture, hardly worth keeping."

        Well, that might change if you leave it.

        •  

          Looks like the employee is not a good performer, but I think we should consider the sad things happened to her.

          Please do not authorize unsecured loans unless you can afford writing it off.

      • +3 votes

        Hopefully neither she, nor any of her relatives/friends are members of ozbargain…… It would be pretty simple to identify her and point her to this thread.

        •  

          How many members read the forums?

        • +16 votes

          @manic: This is exactly the sort of story our major online tabloid blogs newspapers love to create outrage over with a twisted headline: "Heartless Hairdresser: Grinch Screws Battling Musicians and Makes Mourning Mum's Christmas Misery".
          I better not give them ideas.

        • -6 votes

          @Thrift:
          Or should sound like:
          Greedy musicians and employee's broken promise left struggling business a bleak Christmas.

        • +1 vote

          @Iamgenerous: You'd need to cut a lot of CEO/chairman hair, or make significant donations to their aligned political party, to get a headline like that.

      • +21 votes

        I'm going to play devil's advocate; have you considered that the accident could be a lie to get time off work and avoid paying $900? I say this purely based on the picture you have painted of her work ethic.

        • +1 vote

          I really don't think someone would lie about a death of a family member just to get out of work… I mean wouldn't that be too much effort and if they forget that they said "My daughter and her husband is died" and showed some pictures of them in the near future, they would be toast…

        • +11 votes

          @ProjectZero: You and I wouldn't, but people in this world do all kind of immoral things, as recent events in the news have proven. Consider this, perhaps she doesn't actually socialise with the other staff outside of work and what if she doesn't intend to return to work? Easy money!

        •  

          @moola:

          Consider this, perhaps she doesn't actually socialise with the other staff outside of work and what if she doesn't intend to return to work? Easy money!

          That is a valid point… but I believe benefit of doubt should be enforced here… If she did indeed lied to get out of the expense then there are ways to get it back… albeit a long way around via law, but still possible.

        • +1 vote

          @ProjectZero: you are either fortunate to have never come across someone so petty, or you've lived a sheltered life…

        • +3 votes

          @ProjectZero:

          I knew a guy who wanted a day off work and told his employer a parent died. Another teen in final year highschool would say a grandparent died whenever they wanted to skip exams.. we thought it was real at first but they went through way too many grand parents than rationally/normally possible and only during exam times.

        •  

          @Tal_Shiar:

          I think it would be former… my life is as far away from sheltered as I can describe

        •  

          @Myrtacaea:

          lol wtf… was it really necessary for him to lie just to get a day of work…

        • +6 votes

          find her on facebook, people would leave messages if it was real.

        •  

          Seriously? Such an easy thing to get caught out on.

        • +1 vote

          @ProjectZero:

          U can always ask when the funeral is and ask to send flowers to service or actually attend

        •  

          @ZzRice007:
          Probably wouldn't be appropriate to attend if they said they only wanted a small gathering of family members so it wouldn't be too hard to get out of I suppose.

        •  

          @ProjectZero:
          From what I recall he wanted to go to the beach with some mates and gave the heads up to his family that they might be receiving some flowers delivered to their address.

          I personally wouldn't but from what I've seen/heard it's quite common because its too sensitive to follow up or dig out enough information to confirm.

      • +9 votes

        Even though I agree with being compassionate, I believe strongly in Karma, and this employee sounds lazy. Does that mean she deserves what happened? Hell no - no-one deserves that. And I absolutely would not be impressed if you pressed her for $900 at any time after what has transpired. I simply mean that if this employee was a glowing first rate asset to you, you should absolutely waive the $900 to "pay it forward" all the good will over the last two years.

        I understand you have a business to run. So do I so I know the trials and tribulations.

        My opinion?

        If the business is doing well and you are comfortable financially, waive the money altogether. This is Christmas and a tragedy and kindness and generosity is something we need to see a hell of a lot more of. HOWEVER, I will absolutely understand you ask her if $200 to cover your costs for the day if you or the business does need the money.

        For example the position I'm left in after trusting a friend in 2010 has left me so in debt at this stage I would ask for the $200 and not feel guilty about it based on your description of the employee. After all the tragedy has nothing to do with your back pocket. Harsh but true.

      • -2 votes

        As a business owner, I know being a soft person is a great weakness to have. People CAN take advantage of you for it and have experienced it in the past. I probably will get negged for it, but I am only sharing past experience, but I really get results by being an asshole and if it were me in your shoes now, I'd go for it and ask for the money.

        I've never known a successful business owner that acts like a pushover. I know alot of failures and all hold the same traits as pushovers.

        Take my advice as a grain of salt of experience because I know many people will dis-agree with me and I'm sure there exist some successful business runs by people that are easily to control.

        • +2 votes

          Dont be soft but there is a line, something wrong about demanding money from parents whose child just died… I'd consider this one a write off regardless

        • -1 vote

          @Serapis:

          Based on my experience, someones mum died twice. The first time I gave her all the time she needed to recover.. PAID..

          This is what happens when you are just being nice, people take advantage of you. And the sick leaves, the good old sick leaves on the Melbourne Cup weekend. I almost know its certain that it comes up and oh no the "I am sick" abuse. Its so much easier to hire foreigners to work for you. No fuss, no hassle and actually knowing their place.

          My advice again, be an asshole and make them fear you else you may be taken advantage of like I did once.

        •  

          @spn:'Based on my experience, someones mum died twice'.. This is actually possible under the award that i am employed under.In fact a bloke that i work with claimed bereavement leave for 3 grandmothers legitimately.

        •  

          @spn:

          Should've said you can take all the time off in the world on unpaid leave… but bring in proof if you want to be paid

          Just stick with their legal entitlements and that's it, you went over and above your obligations, which is nice of you but only have yourself to blame if you get burned. You don't have to be an a-hole to run a business, you just need to be smart.

        •  

          @Serapis:
          As I said before, it is so much easier to be an asshole/jerk when managing a business. I've already changed since then and I rather my attitude employees hate my guts then getting to know them. The results… shit actually gets done faster and more efficiently.

          Ever watched that Simpsons episode where one of the co-workers get promoted and suddenly their friends do what ever they feel like? It's almost like that..

        • +2 votes

          @spn:

          Its more counterproductive from experience, everyone becomes so afraid about losing their job so much that they can't pay enough attention to what they're doing, meaning more work done but also more errors…

          And it's worse when winter hits, people don't want to take time off when they're actually sick, instead come in and infect everyone there with the flu. Even had a guy come into work once with a broken hand, was too afraid to take the day off in case he gets replaced.

          You need to factor in all the other hidden things like stress and OHS associated costs to do with tired and stressed out workers, and at the end of the day i don't think it's worth it. Not only that but treating other people like shit also makes me feel like shit at the end of the day, not worth it tbh…

        •  

          Damn. No more negs left for the day :(

        • -1 vote

          @version2:

          There ya go

  • +15 votes

    I think your username gives you your answer.

  • +5 votes

    what is ur user profile name… enough said!

    personally, if it wasn't something that would send me broke or something I would just wave it off. Its a pretty terrible event and chasing something that ultimate cost you 300 bucks I reckon is not worth it in the grand scheme of things!

  • +7 votes

    I would say leave it . don't mention anything about it, think of its as you are doing a good deed for your own karma. she might raise it later and pay you. but I don't believe you should ask her for the money considering the devastating situation. try to think and put your feet on her position and what you want to expect your employer did to you?

    • +3 votes

      I think the consensus is write it off . But if she insists to pay in full or even say she wants to take it out of her pay, should I accept?
      I mean if she has been a star employee, I won't even think twice about it. But this employee has given me nothing but headaches, I don't see my good gesture will change anything in return.

      • +14 votes

        You should also consider what actions you choose might not just affect her morale, but everyone in the shop including your star employees.

      • +6 votes

        does your business need the money so much? if yes then accept it. if the money does not make any huge impact on your business then personally I will not bother to accept it. Have a one on one conversation with her. says that you love to help her but the business need money as well. if she has difficulty in paying, offer her to pay in installment. make sure you do this conversation with heart though.. she is a human being and she will be able to feel your care towards her wellbeing and I believe she will do the right thing when you treat her right.

        you should also remember, doing a good karma is not about calculating whether it is worth to give this good deed to that particular person but more into thinking between yourself. its your own action and you are doing yourself a good deed. even tough that employee is not "worth the business", your action of being a good employer will shine through and people around you will see it. it might not be her who will repay your good deed ,but it could be someone else down the track. in life, we will need someone else help at some point. and when that point comes, you will realize how much it matter. You should never "give" with calculating the profit. if you are not ready to do this, then you better not "give" at all.

  • +2 votes

    Recently,one of my employee's daughter got married

    This happened recently and you're already worried about receiving payment? Seriously, it is Christmas Eve today, in the circumstances it shouldn't matter if you don't even raise this issue for six months.

    Perhaps the correct answer is in your OzB username?

    • +27 votes

      think he needs to change his user name to
      "Ithinkiamgenerous"

    • +1 vote

      This happened recently and you're already worried about receiving payment? Seriously, it is Christmas Eve today, in the circumstances it shouldn't matter if you don't even raise this issue for six months.

      I think these things are usually payment in advance….. The OP gave the employee an option to pay it later because he knew of the employee's circumstances with money… so your point is pretty much invalid… I should make that clear, your point about raising this in six months is invalid…

      • -1 vote

        your point about raising this in six months is invalid…

        I never said to raise the issue in six months. My point is that there is not even any remote reason to worry about it now, or for six months, or perhaps ever.

        • +6 votes

          What I wanted to say was, the OP was already kind enough to delay the payment so that the employee could enjoy their daughters wedding. It was never a free job in the first place… Maybe I'm just a monster, but as per a previous poster, I do believe OP would be entitled to at least ask for the "out of pocket" expense to the company. When the OP should ask for it is up to him.

          By "out of pocket" I mean the wages to the other employees who helped on the day as well as the materials used on the day. Also, the other employees might be kind enough to not ask for the wage back so you can reduce the amount further.

  • +8 votes

    Just look at this through her eyes and see how sad she will be at such a time. Even if she wasn't your star employee, she is still a human being and I think the only thing you can do here is never ask her for this money back. Even is she offers to pay, decline it. Money is not greater than death my friend. I understand your situation as well, but think of this as a good karma.

  • +14 votes

    Money comes and goes but Friends and good people are hard to find.

    Cop the Bill and move on.

    What goes around, comes around. Good Karma always rewards you in ways you never realize.

  • +8 votes

    Do what you would want them to do if it happened to you. Swallow the costs, don't ever bring it up. Move on, life is too short…

  • +38 votes

    Someone lost their child in what was supposed to be the happiest time of their lives and you're thinking about $900?

  • +2 votes

    First, check the information provided to you is valid, if it is then I wouldn't hassle her about the money but if she gives it to you, then do what you wish.

    You should live up to your username (Iamgenerous) or maybe think about changing it.

  • +3 votes

    If they've got ethics, they would pay promptly.

    Seems like they might weasel out of it and play the sympathy card. They should at least pay half ASAP and other half in a fortnight or month.

    Get it in writing but that is easier said than done. Just type out an invoice kind of thing and just have them sign and date it.

      • +23 votes

        You moron why don't you just get rid of her instead of coming into a forum and gossiping to complete strangers

        • +2 votes

          They're not really gossiping but seeking help on what action to take if any. And is it really gossip when it's amongst strangers and the partners are anonymous?

          What's so bad about some juicy gossip anyways? ;-p Especially theifs, and others have raised the possibility that this employee is lying about the horrible death, a sob story perhaps, and I'm not sure exactly when and where it happened but I'd imagine it'd have made TV or at least print news. Especially being that it's a wedding. And those that died.

        • +1 vote

          @adamren:
          It is gossip. Assuming the story is true (and it shouldn't be too hard to check facts given 2 people died) does it matter whether or not she is a good employee? After all, it's on the OP to find enough generosity to waive the fee, not whether he can rationalise it by calling her a bad employee in front of strangers. If you're thinking about waiving it only based on how mcuh you like her, then you might as well not waive it at all.

        •  

          @cheng2008:

          I'd see your point if I knew it was true. If you're a bad employee that's not gossip, that's just the facts.

          OP didn't bring up personal info that they have other issues and rumours.

          If they work hard and go above and beyond their pay scale then most people would just automatically be inclined to waive it for being such a great employee etc.

          But they're not, and they could be slack and or lying to get out of paying. If you can't pay then you shouldn't buy on credit.

          OP knows now, lessons learned. And don't employee slack dodgy people. Good people are hard to find.

        • +1 vote

          @adamren:

          If you're a bad employee that's not gossip, that's just the facts.

          IMO the OP is gossiping because it sounds like after everyone told him to waive the fee he's trying to justify making her pay up by saying she's a bad employee.

          But they're not, and they could be slack and or lying to get out of paying. If you can't pay then you shouldn't buy on credit.

          Like I said, it should be easy to check up on this. Also I don't think borrowing money is the problem, people do it all the time. But OP shouldn't have lent the money if something like this happens and he can't let it go.

        •  

          @cheng2008:

          So easy is it? Go find the bad employee using your magical googlefu and PM me the name. If it checks out, I'll say you're right.

          But you won't so that's why I'm right. You either don't know the definition of gossip or are just siding with bad character of not paying debts you owe.

          $20 gift card for you if you find the person using just google. Bet you can't.

          Up for it Cheng?

        •  

          @adamren: I gave it a red hot crack, the closest I could find was a QLD pair that was killed while in Uganda in a bike crash.

          Link http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/breaking-news/aussie-couple-...)

          I was sure that a newly wed couple dying while on their honeymoon would make more waves but I didn't find anything. I have failed!!! I'm really sad to hear about this event, I don't own a business and I can't bring myself to understand how the $900 can be foremost in the business owners mind right now

        • +1 vote

          @tassietigermaniac: Wrong location.

          Suspecting they're in Bali, but that's just an educated guess. I don't really care about finding who this debtor is. But proved my point didn't I? OP didn't really gossip or reveal much personal info, if any at all, just circumstantial stuff that can be linked to anybody. I wouldn't be surprised if the debtor faked the sob story as their own. OP doubted the story it seems.

          So I guess Cheng is wrong and owes me the bet! ;-p or just still googling furiously.

        •  

          There's no need to call anyone a moron, easy to do when you're anonymous on the internet…

        •  

          @gokhanh:
          Thats true

  • +9 votes

    Quite risky to ask a question like this on a popular forum. The story is unique and your employee easily identifiable by someone who knows her. That could backfire badly… I would let it go for now and reconsider bringing it up in a couple months (maybe)…

    • -1 vote

      Wow really? They're in the wrong here and they should just get off the $900 scot free. So what if they're found out. It's on the onus of those that know not to reveal it.

      OP hasn't really revealed that much. It's unique enough to be found out but only to those that already know. You can't just google 'hairdress $900 debt' and get the name etc.

      I suspect as other have that it's a made up sob story to get out of paying.

    • -1 vote

      Did you google it? Someone else did and failed.

      Twenty bucks says you're wrong. Hmm what shall I spend my $40 on?

      What exactly is 'easily identifiable'? We don't know age or gender. Do you have a name?

      Nope. I rest my case.

      OzB is pretty funny.

      If this was on any other Internet forum it'd have been so different. The 'attack the (supposedly wealthy) messenger' attitude is pretty unique.

  • +7 votes

    Could you offer to waive the $900 in lieu of a bonus?

  • +1 vote

    Do nothing let it all fade away over time

  • +110 votes

    You were recently bragging on Ozbargain that you are worth $1.5 mil. Now you are in a moral dilemma because of $900.
    https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/169831

    • +37 votes

      good detective work, holmes. i can't believe this is the same guy.

    • +4 votes

      haha classic, this the fella who said he adds flybuys deal even tho he's not eligible because it minuses 1 cent !

    • +4 votes

      Net worth and cashflow are two different things. It doesn't matter if it's $9 or $90, it's the principle. When someone says they'll do something they must keep their word.

    • -1 vote

      Haha OzBargainer failing to understand difference between business cashflow and owner's networth.

      Lots of Australians owning a home or two are worth $1.5mn. So?

      • +7 votes

        so?… and their net worth may well be less than zero, not 1.5mil as the op brags about.
        And they would not be buying 5 business class seats for overseas trips.

        •  

          I know a few families with a net worth less than zero and still act like this. A mate of mine and his partner took out a personal loan to go on a Japan holiday and neither knows the meaning of the word save.

          OP can afford to do this by being tight with money in other areas.

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