I am a graphic designer that was, until recently, working full time at an agency. Over the summer, while employed and earning an income, I started working on a portfolio of work with future plans to try freelancing while continuing my full time employment. I hired a programmer to help with the web site and some interactive graphics. His payment amounted to many thousands of dollars, which was fine for me at the time. Strangely, the programmer seemed nonchalant about payment. His attitude could almost be described as reluctant.
I asked him once what motivated him to do such good work, if not immediate payment. He replied that his hours at work had been reduced under a German short-time work scheme and he was using the opportunity to try freelancing, something he had always wondered if he would like. During the short-time work period, he had a lot of free time while still getting enough compensation. For him, earning money while freelancing was not the main objective, but a nice side effect. Regarding the payment, he said, it is an extraordinary situation right now and he felt privileged to live in a country where the government tried to shield its citizens from the economic effects (and he is aware that mine is not). For these reasons, he found it only fair to partly extend his privilege to me by "accommodating whatever payment terms work for you."
Unfortunately, I was recently laid off. I have a family. We are now in a financial crisis. Still, I have been reminding the programmer that he needs to send me an invoice, because that is the fair thing to do. His work was excellent. He was consistently accessible and showed good judgment throughout the process. He's actually one of the best people I've ever worked with and he has helped me so much.
But I have started wondering if I'm causing myself undue hardship. Am I causing myself and my family trouble when I don't need to be? Am I the one insisting that I pay him?
I would like to approach this subject with him, but I don't want to risk putting him in an unfairly uncomfortable or weird-feeling position. He doesn't deserve that. For these reasons, I am having trouble finding the words to speak with him about it.
Does anyone have a take on this situation? Or suggestions about how to approach the subject? I am feeling conflicted...on one hand paying him is the right thing to do, on the other hand...is it?