The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am wondering how professional it is to demand a (change in the existing) work contract that will either limit your exposure to a certain domain of duties that match your professional background or eliminate some duties rather than leaving it open to be asked to do whatever.


  • If you brought an electrician to your house and asked him to patch your drywall, even at his regular hourly rate, the chances are he would refuse to do the work.

  • If you were a doctor, your employer would simply find it too expensive to have you do nurse work, but what if your employer/client is less concerned with a proper allocation of resources?

How can I maintain a certain level of professional involvement while avoiding certain types of work?

share|improve this question

closed as not a real question by jcmeloni, bytebuster, gnat, pdr, CincinnatiProgrammer Jan 29 '13 at 11:47

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Obviously if you don't want to do the work because it is not in your job-description/contract, you don't "have to" do it. You can refuse. What is the question here? Are you really asking for compelling arguments that you can use when refusing to do a particular job? Also, the context of whether this is in a contract or an employee-employer situation is important. – Angelo Jan 29 '13 at 2:34
I think you would be better served by explaining your situation and asking how to best communicate that the change is unacceptable. – Chad Jan 29 '13 at 14:27
"what happens when you want to maintain a certain level of professional involvement and preserve it from lesser type of work if your employer/client is less concerned with a proper allocation of resources?" -- how is this not a real question? – amphibient Jan 29 '13 at 17:15
Are you saying you have an existing contract that doesn't restrict your work, and you would like it to? Or are you negotiating a new contract? Your first sentence doesn't quite make that clear. – yoozer8 Jan 30 '13 at 20:42
I do not have any restricting clause. I am thinking to start including one for my next gig as a response to lessons learned – amphibient Jan 30 '13 at 20:47
up vote 4 down vote accepted

It depends on the nature of the relationship with the person you are working for. If you are working as a consultant or independent contractor, the nature of the work that you are doing for them should be described rather specifically in the contract the two of you entered into. If you are an employee, however, your ability to negotiate the scope of the duties you perform should be somewhat flexible, depending on your relationship with your supervisor.

That being said, in the United States, most employee/employer contracts are "at will", which means that either party has the right to terminate the relationship without cause at any time. Using your example of a doctor doing nursing tasks, as an employee, you should factor in the associated costs of staffing a position created for the purpose of completing those tasks. Even if there isn't enough work to justify hiring another employee, the work still has to get done. However, you seem to imply a level of mismanagement on the part of the employer/client, rather than a lack of available resources to handle the smaller, lesser tasks. In either case, if you feel the work is truly "not part of your job description", then it would probably be in your best interest to engage your employer/client in discussion or to find work you deem more suitable.

As to the professionalism associated with making such a request, the act of asking doesn't necessarily challenge your professionalism, especially if you are an employee who is consistently being expected to perform these tasks at a lower rate of pay compared to the current market rate. At that point, a reassessment of your salary would not be out of the question. Without knowing the details of the working relationship, if you can't engage in a reasonable discussion with your employer/client, as previously mentioned, you may need to consider finding work with a firm which is more structured and aligned with the current job market regarding the assignment of duties and allocation of resources.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.