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I work part time for a company that does special events. The other day someone wasn't able to make it to their shift. I replied to management's last minute request and volunteered to take the shift. Shifts are normally 5 hours long. Typically if someone arrives late (either because it was a last minute staffing or for other reasons) they stay late to makeup for the missed time. Due to the nature of this event, staying late wasn't possible. I still invoiced for the full 5 hours even though I wasn't there at the scheduled start time (because when I got the request to come in, it was already after the scheduled start time).

To complicate matters, the app we use on our smartphone to check in to for shifts was being buggy for me. Mine was missing the check in button. I texted my manager once I had arrived on site.

To complicate matters even further, the address management gave me was really vague. They basically gave me the building name but didn't say which room/suite to go to. I think I was supposed to have been given more directions but the app being glitchy didn't relay it to me. I called my manager and she said she didn't have further directions but gave me the contact number of someone on site. I contacted this person and he gave extremely unclear directions, but eventually I found where to go. I texted my manager again once I got to the specific area where my on-site contact was.

The app was buggy for a week and I was unable to submit my invoice the normal way. I emailed them one I wrote manually. Finally the company owner fixed the app and manually added an invoice for me to their system. The invoice she made for me was wrong. I contacted her and she fixed the pay rate. But we couldn't agree on the length of the shift.

  1. Since I got called in last minute it wasn't exactly my fault I was late and I would've liked to be paid for the full 5 hours. I know this isn't really fair so I'm willing to let this point go.
  2. I would like to be paid for when I arrived at the address they gave me. It took a while to figure out specifically where to go in the building but I think that time should still be payable.
  3. The time the owner wants to invoice me for is about 10 minutes after when I finally got to the final location where I was supposed to be working.

Also when I say "we couldn't agree on the length of the shift" we had exchanged a few emails and I had repeatedly tried calling my manager and the owner. The owner got mad and said she felt like I was trying to "hustle" her and cancelled my assigned shifts in the future and basically fired me. She still isn't paying me the full amount I think I'm owed.

I think this is a huge over reaction. I would be disposed to at least work my scheduled shifts. I have had a good relationship with the company this far and have worked for them about 6 months. I'm not sure if what they did is legal.

Is there anyway I can salvage the situation? At least I would like to work my scheduled shift?

With the disagreement with the invoice, we were only $20 apart. I didn't feel comfortable not addressing it but I certainly don't think this is something to lose the business relationship over.

If I'm ever in such a situation again I will make sure to get much clear understanding and in writing. Am I being unreasonable for wanting to be paid starting at the time I showed up to the address I was given? Basically the instructions were "find the person inside the building and he'll show you what your supposed to be doing". Also though I texted when I arrived and again when I found the person, there was a slight delay as I didn't consider texting an immediate priority. If the app was working I would have been able to check in right when I had arrived at the building.

According to here there's a good chance I was actually an employee and not a contract. Also normally I interact with my manager, NOT the owner. She got involved because the app was buggy. This is a relatively small company and doesn't have an HR department.

TL;DR

Got called in to cover last minute shift. I wanted to invoice from when shift was supposed to start, but would be ok if I get paid from time I actually arrived. Owner doesn't want to pay me from arrival time but wants to pay me from when I found the person who was supposed to show me what to do. App was buggy and the check in feature didn't work and I didn't prioritize sending text messages to let management know where I was at. We were $20 apart on what we thought my invoice should say, but owner fired me for being difficult. I want to at least work my scheduled shifts.

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    There are a lot of words here, but I don't see a question. Right now it looks more like a rant. If you think you were unfairly dismissed, you should talk to a lawyer. I'm also not sure that it's reasonable to argue that you should be paid for time you did not work. – user1666620 Dec 1 '19 at 15:24
  • It was definitely an over-reaction on the part of your boss/client and utterly unfair, given you showed up a little late for a last-minute engagement. I don't think there's much you can do here especially since the issue is literally $20. On this site, people are quick to advise "getting a lawyer" but that is usually ridiculous if you consider the enormous effort and stress involved. I don't think you're ranting, and you were treated unfairly, but that's common with part-time work in service industries where the bosses can get away with being petty tyrants because everyone is a contractor. – teego1967 Dec 1 '19 at 15:45
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    "Since I got called in last minute it wasn't exactly my fault I was late" I assume you're saying this because the business forces you to quantify your hours by increments of 15 minutes or more? Am I correct? – Stephan Branczyk Dec 1 '19 at 17:05
  • @StephanBranczyk in the sense that the shift was supposed to start at e.g. 10:00, the person scheduled didn't arrive so I got asked at 10:10 to come in. Then it took me until 10:30 to arrive at location they gave me. Having arrived at the location it took me another 10 minutes to find the person I was supposed to work with (10:40). My boss made an invoice for me starting at 10:50 and I countered with an invoice starting at 10:00. I realize I should have done 10:30 but thought everyone else was invoicing starting from 10:00. – Geitonogamy Dec 2 '19 at 2:07
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I understand why you are upset. It's because the situation is unfair. It is unfair to schedule your shift so late that you cannot actually make it on time. It is unfair that they did not provide detailed enough directions so that you could find the location. It is unfair to waste your time using an invoicing app that doesn't work. And after wasting your time in this manner, it seems particularly unfair that they are unwilling to compromise on even $20 and fire you instead.

But the world is not fair. Your grievances may be morally justified, but that does not change the reality of the situation: you need the job more than they need you. The issue could perhaps have been avoided if you had "shown flexibility" and "communicated better" (to borrow two popular phrases in job advertisements). That is, if you had been more subservient and aware of the power imbalance. But it is too late now, and it is better to invest your time in finding a new job. Welcome to the world of work.

  • The situation is not unfair, at all. OP was offered a shift and took it, didn't make it on time, and then tried to bill for time that OP didn't work. When confronted about it, rather than giving up his position, dug his heels and still demanded the money. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 2 '19 at 9:36
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    You seem to deliberately leave out some important details in that (decidedly unfair) summary. Do you genuinely not see OP's situation can be regarded as unfair? – perenniallydisappointed Dec 2 '19 at 9:48
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    Unfortunately for the OP this is the best answer. People who are criticising the OP for being late apparently didn't read the part where they were only informed about the job 10 minutes after the start time. – Eric Nolan Dec 2 '19 at 11:56
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    @EricNolan I did, and as a contractor, if you cannot do the job, you don't accept it. Or negotiate different terms under which you can actually do the job. What you don't do is accept to be there at say 5, when you well know you won't make it there until 5:30, and then demand to be paid for the half an hour difference. – Tymoteusz Paul Dec 2 '19 at 12:44
  • @TymoteuszPaul so you're saying if it's already past 5 when they ask you to come you would think it's not implied that you can't be there at a time that has already passed?? I guess some people are that rigid you need to cover your ass by spelling it out. – Geitonogamy Dec 3 '19 at 1:43
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I'm not sure if what they did is legal.

Forget this part, completely as the dispute is over 20$ and your only recourse is to prove that you were not a contractor, but an employee which is not simple, or cheap, and just not worth the hassle. If you feel differently, engage a local lawyer, not random people on the internets. So for sake of this post, I will treat you as a contractor, not an employee, as that is your current status.

Is there anyway I can salvage the situation? At least I would like to work my scheduled shift?

Now? Probably not, as the employer doesn't trust you, and it's probably relatively straightforward to replace you. Likely cause for the loss of trust can't be summed in a few points:

  • You arrived late, despite agreeing to take the shift. Should've made it clear before accepting that you can only do so, but will arrive at the time XYZ (put the time you can really make). Then they can either agree that you will arrive this late, or not. But instead, you agreed to take the shift.
  • Despite arriving late, you still demanded to get paid for the time that you weren't there. What you should've done instead is produce a bill for the time worked only, and then, in the future, make sure to have better clarity of what needs doing before accepting the job. Like that the address is right. Especially as a contractor, it's on you to deliver the service and to make sure that you have all the necessary details to do so before agreeing.
  • Only now that they've very much decided to terminate the relationship it seems to dawn on you that the decision making wasn't greatest on your part. But alas it is too late now, they've moved on.
  • As I imagine the work is mostly done unsupervised (IE, there are no physical punchcards on IN/OUT) the employer must trust you that you are providing fair and accurate billing. In this instance, you've admitted yourself that you've done the very opposite.

And as a result, the trust is lost, likely for good. Rebuilding it will not be easy if at all possible, that depends on how hard is it to replace you. But given how easily they've cut that relationship, it cannot be much of a problem, which also means you have no leverage, and it's time to move on.

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Is there anyway I can salvage the situation? At least I would like to work my scheduled shift?

With the disagreement with the invoice, we were only $20 apart. I didn't feel comfortable not addressing it but I certainly don't think this is something to lose the business relationship over.

You could try explaining that you don't think this is something to lose the business relationship over.

You could explain that you are only $20 apart.

You could offer to split the difference, or even offer to ignore the $20 you feel you are owed.

Any or all of those might suffice to salvage the relationship, or they might not. It depends on how strongly the owner feels that you were trying to "hustle" her. Your task is to convince her that it wasn't your intent to do so.

I'm not sure if what they did is legal.

The legality of the situation depends on your employee versus independent contractor status, and the specifics of Canadian law. If it concerns you, you would be better off exploring that part of the question on the StackExchange Law forum.

  • Also depends if you can find a better opportunity - they don’t sound very pleasant to work for, see “only get paid from once you talk to the person you are taking over from” - I would expect to be paid from being on site and ready to go, people can be difficult to find on large sites... – Solar Mike Dec 1 '19 at 15:46
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    @JoeStrazzere If I was called in on the last minute as a contractor, in a situation where I had no obligation to turn up and the company would be completely stuck without me, I'd expect my reasonable bill to be paid. – gnasher729 Dec 1 '19 at 17:47
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    @JoeStrazzere, it's common for contractors to "start the clock" when they show up and many contracting firms will even include a commute-time rate ahead of that. None of those seems to have been agreed in advance, but it would have been reasonable for the boss to acknowledge the OP's short-notice availability by "erroring" on the generous side for the $20 disagreement. – teego1967 Dec 1 '19 at 19:05

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