We have a dedicated resource for CSS styling since we are working on a web application and are under tight deadlines. Me and 2 others are the main drivers behind this enterprise application. We simply ask that she complete the styling portions. Here's where I get flustered. She is constantly out of office (OOO), literally OOO 2 times a week and her list of reasons vary but most often revolve around spending time with her kids and/or volunteering. I can understand the first one, but volunteer work is usually taken up if you have no other responsibilities to prioritize.

The rest of the team literally just laughs every time she mentions she's going to be OOO, it's become that comical. I am not her boss but leadership is so far removed from this that she can and has flown under the radar for over 2 years. She is an actual employee Full-Time, meanwhile I am working weekends as a contractor to pick up her slack. She will sometimes call someone else a blocker because she doesn't understand programming logic and doesn't know how to style a particular portion because of a console error and we haven't fixed it for her yet.

The company just recently let go over 20 work visa developers because of incompetence, they were all contractors so it wasn't a complicated process. Letting go of a salaried employee I imagine is a harder process. If it were up to me she would have been gone a long time ago but its not my decision. What's the best course of action here? Personally it kills me inside seeing someone so incompetent getting paid close to or above 6 figures. I care about the company and I care about our project getting finished. Should I talk to her directly? Should I talk to her boss? I feel like something needs to be brought to light because she's been really good at doing the bare minimum for so long without any questions being raised.

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    Also, "What's the best course of action here?" - with what goal in mind? There are many possible courses of action one could take. Please clarify – DarkCygnus Nov 9 at 16:20
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    @Jason it's also her team and your manager. If your team cannot show who's behind on what because you are doing their work why should anybody cares? You? You are paid in gratification of your team not looking stupid. – SZCZERZO KŁY Nov 9 at 16:36
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    I'm not defending her actions but "haven't fixed it for her yet" is literally the definition of a blocker. I'm not saying she shouldn't give you some slack on it, as in that work might be blocked but perhaps SHE isn't fully blocked and can do other work, but if you can fix something and haven't yet, you are a blocker and she should be saying something. And administration should be taking that as information, not as judgement. – corsiKa Nov 9 at 16:41
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    When there's a console error that you haven't gotten around to fixing yet, she is blocked by you. That calls into question the entire post. Presumably her direct boss knows her hours and is ok with it. You should focus on getting your own code working instead of worrying about her hours. – DaveG Nov 9 at 16:50
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    @Jason disagree. If I was hired to do CSS, and someone wanted me to start tinkering with the rest of the app, I'd be pretty upset. In fact, I have been hired to do one thing and then told I had to do a bunch of other things and guess what - my code was garbage because it wasn't what I was hired to do. The fact that her counterpart did that might seem good but it's actually not because it hides a deficiency in your team. – corsiKa Nov 9 at 22:11
up vote 57 down vote accepted

You're looking at it as a problem instead of a good thing.

As a contractor she directly benefits you. If the staff were able to do everything, you'd be unemployed.

Log your hours, account for your time, cover your back, collect your money. The rest is none of your business.

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    @Dan why not?.... I can't see the bit where the OP said 'For free' – Kilisi Nov 9 at 19:43
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    I disagree, a contractor is all about rep, you nurture it like a baby. You don't go to a manager and say 'Are you blind? You're not managing properly and have no idea what is going on'. Because any disciplinary action is likely to escalate and then the manager is in it.' Stuff like that gets you promoted from contractor to job seeker with a tarnished rep however blameless you are. – Kilisi Nov 9 at 19:59
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    @MonkeyZeus, ok you've promoted him to team lead, and want to put it in writing? I'll leave you to it. – Kilisi Nov 9 at 20:27
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    @MonkeyZeus And the response to "I'm waiting for Karen" will be Karen saying "I can't get my work done because every time I try to display the web page I get a console error". – DaveG Nov 9 at 20:52
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    @MonkeyZeus did you miss the bit where the employer had just fired 20 contractors? This is not the time for the OP to be creating drama against a staff member who can just say 'I can't do anything, these contractors gadget is broken and I don't think they know how to fix it'. – Kilisi Nov 12 at 8:35

If I may offer my perspective as a contractor:

"I'm not going to let my team look stupid because of pride." "I don't even charge the overtime to be honest."

Jason, you need to log all your hours. This is not only so you get paid the money you deserve. You are actively doing a disservice to your coworkers and their managers by picking up the slack with unpaid overtime.

Why? Because managers tend to look at past performance to determine how much time and budget they are going to allow for certain tasks. If Task A takes you 10 hours to complete, but you only bill 5 hours, then management will think that Task A takes 5 hours to complete. Next time, when they give a coworker a similar task, they will demand that he finishes it in 5 hours. It might hurt his performance review if the coworker takes 10 hours to finish.

To come back to the topic of unpaid overtime, this is unacceptable in the contracting business. If you are the employee of a contractor business, you are robbing them of money. If you are a freelancer, you are hurting yourself. You are selling a product, and that product is your skill and time. Don't give it away for free.

It's great that you feel part of a team. I do too. But I know I am not an employee of the company. The employees might do unpaid overtime, but they get other benefits to make up for it, like healthcare, subsidized meals and a more secure workplace. You can be let go easily, and that's why you are paid the rate you are, and that's why you need to log your time honestly.

And the best thing is, by stopping to cover for her, her low performance will become visible. Because that's how low performers get by. Other employees, out of a misguided sense of responsibility, do their work. Don't do it.

What's the best course of action here?

The best course of action is to mind your own job and tasks.

You are not her manager as you mentioned, so it's not your role to play nor to take actions on her.

As long as this doesn't affect you tasks or productivity you should not escalate. If it does, consider politely addressing this to her, and if that doesn't work consider taking it to your (and her) manager.

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    It does affect him, he's had to work on weekends to make up for her incompetence. – Barmar Nov 9 at 20:15
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    @Barmar "had to" or "choose to". Sounds like the later to me. – Josef Nov 9 at 21:33
  • If the work needs to be done for the project to succeed, someone has to do it. Since she's not doing her part, someone has to step in or they'll all fail. – Barmar Nov 9 at 22:13

Most of your post seems to revolve around things that don't really affect you. I would not focus on these points in the slightest and bringing them up will simply make you look petty.

The bit that IS relevant to you:

meanwhile I am working weekends as a contractor to pick up her slack

Surely as a contractor, you get to pick whether you work weekends or not? If you are worried about the project not meeting deadlines, talk to a supervisor. If nothing else, they probably don't want to be paying a contractor OT for work their own FT employees should be doing. Contractors are generally expensive compared to FT employees.

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    if OP does talk to their supervisor, they make sure to only speak about the project. Don't say "George isn't pulling is weight and the project is falling behind" say "I can't do X until Y is complete" – SaggingRufus Nov 9 at 16:25
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    How doesn't this affect me, I would love to just take the day off. If everyone had the same attitude about the project as her we would all get fired. It would simply never get done. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. – Jason Nov 9 at 16:26
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    @Jason Her being out of office doesn't affect you. Her being paid 6-figures doesn't affect you. Her doing volunteering doesn't affect you. Her being a FT employee doesn't affect you. Her not meeting her deadlines with regards to your project IS affecting you, so that's all I will focus on, and that's all you should focus on too. – 520 Nov 9 at 16:29
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    For off-hours or weekends, bill 'em double or time-and-a-half. – Mike Robinson Nov 12 at 15:58

She is constantly out of office(OOO), literally OOO 2 times a week and her list of reasons vary but most often revolve around spending time with her kids and/or volunteering. I can understand the first one, but volunteer work is usually taken up if you have no other responsibilities to prioritize.

None of that is any of your business, nor do you have to understand it. Only she and her boss need to be in agreement as to when she must be in the office and when she can be out.

What's the best course of action here? Personally it kills me inside seeing someone so incompetent getting paid close to or above 6 figures. I care about the company and I care about our project getting finished. Should I talk to her directly? Should I talk to her boss?

You are focusing on the wrong problem.

Her being out of the office is not your problem. That is solely up to her boss to deal with. If you try to get in the middle of it, you'll likely just get yourself in trouble. Trust me when I say that foolish contractors who complain about full time employees tend to find their contracts ended abruptly. As you have seen, it's not a complicated process.

Instead, focus on your project getting finished. If something needs to be done by her on a day when she is not around, ask your boss how to get it done. He may tell you to wait until she returns, or send you to someone else. Either way, you'll have your answer.

It may kill you inside to see someone not up to your standards, but unless she is working for you, you'll simply need to learn to live with it or find a new contract where everyone measures up to the level you expect.

How do you know she isn't sleeping with someone at top and they are funding this and you end up taking it up with that individual? Unfortunately, it's actually fairly common, that is the business world after all.

Chances are there are probably a lot worse things going on, which you are not aware of. You can try to set this straight but it will never end. Eventually there will be another and another similar issue coming to light.

There are people making 3X's the amount of money than people in our department do and some of them are NOT working half as hard (cognitive strain, effort, hours, learning, etc).

On top of that, those jobs may be more available to some based on race, looks, and/or who likes you.

It's life, it's not fair.

What is your daily "why". Is it seeking justice, making a more fair work culture, ensure you do good work and get a paycheck, or maybe just to feel good and happy no matter the cost?

Rack and stack your whys, responsibilities in life, risks - and you will have your answer.

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I see why of all this hatred towards her... but you really shouldn't feel like this.

If you are doing too many hours overtime, tell management enough is enough but don't bring up her, let them figure out by themselves. If they want to fire you they'll quickly understand (if they're not clueless, but if it so then probably you don't want to work for them) that having a full time employee instead of a flex time employee will be less costly and better from a human resource point of view.

But again, the problem is not your collegue, it's you having to put in too much overtime, and this topic has been treat countless times in this SE.

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    I don't even charge the overtime to be honest. – Jason Nov 9 at 16:36
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    Yeah, this is plainly, terribly wrong. I try to see this as an external observer, and probably you're angry at management, not at your collegue... but you feel (unconsciously, of course) like she is the problem. I tell you... she is not. Someday you will have enough and A. you will leave or B. you will explode and be fired lawfully. – Cris Nov 9 at 16:38
  • @Jason and this is the problem, nothing else – Josef Nov 9 at 21:39

If you feel that you must "pick up the slack" in order to properly fulfill your assignments, "bill time-and-a-half" and mention it in your status report. Do not "name names." Factually discuss what decision you made and why you made that decision – that is all.

If management then informs you that they object to your billing, don't put in the extra time. Instead, in your status report state factually why this-or-that task could not be completed.

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