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This is a project involving a lot of companies and teams. As a contractor working for company A, I finished my part, so I am not going to get more money from A. However, Bob from company B failed to produce desirable results on time and Bob asks for my help during weekends. This request is not made by Company B as the supervisor in Company B trusts Bob - they don't think Bob is doing anything wrong and project delay is due to other reasons.

I am not sure that he knows that I won't be getting paid for working on weekends.

If I refuse to help, Bob and company B won't appreciate me and the project will take longer to be finished, and delayed salary is possible for anyone.

If I agree to help, then I am basically sacrificing my precious time helping Bob to earn his salary, which sounds not very beneficial to me and not very ethical. Bob does not intend to report his delay to either Company B or Company A. Bob's supervisor trusts Bob and Bob is the only one in Company B who knows this part of the project.

What shall I do?


Update Jun 19: I reported the situation to Company A. Both Bob and his manager also indirectly asks Company A for my help. However, Company A say that they cannot afford to hire me for further works due to budget constraint.

I also told Bob that I won't be getting paid. Bob understands this; he still asks me for a favor; and he offers to introduce me to some other projects later as a favor back. When I asks him for the details on how he will do the favor back, he says he is too busy these two days and will let me know later.

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  • 10
    Aren't you studying or otherwise occupied during weekends? Jun 19 at 1:39
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    What is the relationship between company A and B ? Jun 19 at 1:58
  • 5
    If company B knew about this they would have a strongly worded discussion with B, and either B works the weekends. Or they offer you to work this time, for good pay, and if you say "No" it doesn't affect your reputation at all, but if you say "yes" you will be forever in their good books as "this is High GPA, who really helped us getting out of some mess that Bob got us into". While Bob may expect you to work for free, a company wouldn't.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 19 at 11:47
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    From your other comments "Bob thinks it is my duty...". That 'duty' word is a red flag that Bob is trying to manipulate you.
    – jcm
    Jun 19 at 11:58
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    "I'm too busy now, I'll let you know later" is a classic manipulation move – he has no intention whatsoever to neither let you know later nor repay the favor. He's stalling for time.
    – Moyli
    Jun 20 at 10:29
120

You don’t do unpaid work.

If Bob legitimately needs your help he’ll have to escalate it through his boss who will talk to A and maybe give you extra hours. Beyond that, none of this is your problem. If Bob is asking you directly for things, redirect him to his management chain telling him “I completed my contracted work for this project” and, if you want, mention these requests to your manager at A (they may be willing to fund more work, if that’s what you want to do).

You’re new to the work world - there is no professional reason to do this. Do work you are contracted to do and are supposed to do until you run your own company and get to say yourself what needs doing and by who. Doing his work for him for sure is against A’s interests and probably against B’s at least indirectly as well. Just to be blunt, it’s colluding with a lazy manipulator against both of your employers. Your bosses at A would be enraged to find this out because they could be making money off fulfilling this need and you are ripping them off. Don’t do it.

After your update, the companies involved have decided it’s not worth paying you for. So don’t do it. Tell Bob “No.” These are basic workplace boundaries. If he’s not your best friend or isn’t offering you something of clear and direct benefit in trade - and “maybe I’ll help you incompetently in the future, maybe” isn’t a worthwhile trade - you just say no and move on with your life. It’s a lot more simple than you are making it.

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    @HighGPA 'The problem is that, Bob thinks that my duty is to help the project until the entire project is finished' --> 'If Bob legitimately needs your help he’ll have to escalate it through his boss who will talk to A and maybe give you extra hours. Beyond that, none of this is your problem.' very much applies..
    – iLuvLogix
    Jun 19 at 11:03
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    @HighGPA If Bob thinks you're getting paid for this, than you need to remove his misconception of the situation. Also, even if you're getting paid, why would you be working weekends? Weekends are for leisure and relaxing. Jun 19 at 11:11
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    @MarkRotteveel You work on weekends if you get paid enough to make it worth your while. Since Bob is paying nothing, and A isn't going to pay anything, I guess that's not enough to make it worth your while :-) Or let's say you have a contract that runs to the end of June, and your manager says "I can't pay you after the end of the June because my budget will be closed, but if you work the last two weekends in June, I can pay you an extra five days for that, as long as it is in June".
    – gnasher729
    Jun 19 at 11:42
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    @gnasher729 True, but in general, working in weekends (assuming you also work Monday - Friday) is simply not good for your mental and physical well-being (not to mention probably illegal under that assumption, e.g. under the European Working Time Directive) Jun 19 at 11:54
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    @AndreasBlass Whether Bob thinks, or says, or thinks and says is irrelevant. Bob is wrong. It is not OP's duty and that's what matters. Jun 19 at 13:03
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Bob may not be aware that you are a contractor and don't get paid for the work. So the obvious answer is "Bob, you are aware that I'm a contractor, and I get paid by A for doing my job, and if I help you, company A isn't going to pay me? So if you go to your company B, and they want to hire and pay me for say five days, that's absolutely fine, but I can't afford to do unpaid work. "

Reading that Bob really tries to take advantage of you, you might go directly to Bob's manager at company B and offer to help out if they need help. They will not even think about you doing this for free. They will either do without your help, but appreciate that you offered it, or come back and ask "what would be your daily rate if we need you for two weekends?". In which case you tell them your normal daily rate, plus some extra for the weekend work.

Bob will not appreciate you. That's Bob's problem, not yours. Bob might get told off for not finishing the work and more importantly, for not telling anyone. That's Bob's problem, not yours. I can tell you that Bob and the Bob's of this world will not hesitate to throw you under the bus if they think it is to their advantage, so preemptively contacting B might be a good idea.

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  • Hi Gnasher truly appreciate your help and your points do make sense. However, Bob's manager trusts Bob 100%. The manager does not really know me or trusts me. If I ignore Bob and directly talk to the manager, I am not sure good things on me will happen.
    – High GPA
    Jun 20 at 3:11
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    Just deal with your manager, including forwarding the msgs from Bob to him for him to deal with - Bob's not in your management chain so don't let him influence your actions.
    – Gwyn Evans
    Jun 20 at 11:29
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    @HighGPA - Since you are a contractor (not an employee), you are basically your own separate business, having a project contract with company A. You have nothing to do with company B. Whatever is happening there is ultimately Bob's problem, and whether you want to sacrifice your time is up to you. Gnasher is not saying to ignore Bob and go over his head, he's saying to tell Bob that, if he wants your help, he should try and convince his company to hire you as a contractor. If he and/or his company can't make that happen, you all go your separate ways. It literally costs you money otherwise. Jun 20 at 13:52
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    @HighGPA - Sure, if you're love the project and you can tell it's not going to take too much work, or if doing the work aligns with your own interests in a tangible way, you can decide to give them a discount - but make sure everyone is clear on that. Saying "no" is an important skill in business (and life). What you aren't thinking about is how you'll be perceived if you accept to do unpaid work - especially if it turns out it's way more work than you anticipated. As someone who doesn't value their own time, and who people can take advantage of? You don't want that either. Jun 20 at 13:52
  • @HighGPA - And if Bob / Company B can't understand that, well don't ever work with them. You need to be selective about your clients - not all clients/companies are equal (e.g. some will not respect your boundaries/terms, some are going to try and micromanage you, some will not be able to afford you, and some will be great to work with). You don't need to nurture relationships with everyone. If you sense a bad client, politely say that the two of you are not a good fit and don't work with them. Perfectly normal in business. Jun 20 at 14:02
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I agree with mxyzplk, stop doing unpaid work.

It doesn't matter what Bob thinks. What are the terms of your contract, and what are you being paid for?

If you've met the terms of your contract, then stop doing any more work. Here are some possible ways you could respond:

Sorry Bob, I'm unable to offer any support at the moment. Please contact [manager of company A] directly, and they should be able to help.

If Bob is aware that you are a contractor, then you could respond with:

Sorry Bob, my contract is up and I have other projects to work on. Please contact [manager of company A] directly, and they should be able to help.

Alternatively you could forward Bob's message to your manager at company A. Depending on the exact situation this may drop Bob in it, but at least company A is aware you are not the problem.

See below. I'm receiving the below requests from Bob at company B however, I've fulfilled all the terms of my contract and can't offer further unpaid support. How do you want to handle this?

In that message, you could also offer to sell them some of your time to support Bob, or you could say that you have other commitments and aren't available to offer any support etc...


Update:

Company A say that they cannot afford to hire me for further works due to budget constraint.

Bob understands this; he still asks me for a favour; and he offers to introduce me to some other projects later as a favour back. When I asks him for the details on how he will do the favour back, he says he is too busy these two days and will let me know later.

It's time to move on. You do not work for free, and this request is completely unethical.

The incentive of other projects is a common lie contractors and freelancers hear all the time. Those projects either don't exist, or they're also really low paying. - Don't build yourself a reputation as someone who gives away a load of unpaid work.

Please, just stop talking to Bob.

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  • 1
    this part is excess and I have other projects to work on, i'd omit it.
    – hanshenrik
    Jun 21 at 11:03
  • It's just an example, people can re-word as needed for their situation. I personally would include it, it reaffirms to Bob that you have other commitments and paying clients. -- If a client thinks they're your only client, that's when they start thinking they can treat you however they like.
    – flexi
    Jun 21 at 12:28
  • @flexi OP is inexperienced, better not to give them formulations which can be counterproductive. Jun 21 at 12:59
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    Your comment makes no sense. The OP should be capable of applying this to their own situation, regardless of their experience in business.
    – flexi
    Jun 21 at 13:51
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Bob will give you more and more work.

You don’t have the time to do that. He has to sort his own work and the managers on both sides need to be aware.

Otherwise you will suffer.

Edit based on OP's update: Bob still wants you to work more for free, and this is shown by two things:

  1. he wants a favor,
  2. he "promises" future work but won't commit to being detailed or clear.

Bob is not to be relied upon and you should look elsewhere.

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  • By saying "the managers on both sides need to be aware", do you mean that I need to report Bob's mistakes to managers from both sides?
    – High GPA
    Jun 19 at 10:00
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    That’s what « managers on both sides » means. If you don’t wish to go there then keep doing his work.
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 19 at 10:02
  • +1 OP does not have to do anything beyond telling Bob to request either their own manager or your manager to check whether they are willing to pay extra for weekend work (assuming OP are willing to do it). OP does not have to initiate anything except for telling Bob this. The ball is in Bob's court now. Jun 19 at 20:34
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    @HighGPA - If I were in your shoes I would just let Bob fail. You have already requested additional hours to help Bob and they have not been approved.
    – Donald
    Jun 21 at 16:37
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    Since Bob is now promissing to refer future work, your answer sho say more and more unpaid work 😄
    – coagmano
    Jun 22 at 0:24
7

Are you and Bob best friends ?

If you two are best friends, maybe, best friends should help each other over the weekends because if you help him now, he will help you in the future.

However, if you two are only regular friends or normal coworkers, then perhaps, you should politely ask Bob to see his company B can pay you overtime because you don't know exactly how much extra effort is required over how many weekends. Business is business, right ?

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    Of course we are not friends. Many thanks for your answer. Bob thinks that my duty is to help the project until the entire project is finished. Bob thinks that I am getting paid by Company A for helping with the entire project rather than just helping in a given time period.
    – High GPA
    Jun 19 at 9:59
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    Well, Bob is wrong then, so Bob needs to be told.
    – gnasher729
    Jun 19 at 11:37
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    If you get emails from Bob, delete them, or, simply forward them to your boss. if your boss finds out that, totally bizarrely, you are making project planning decisions and spending money with no authorization whatsoever, you will likely be fired. If you get emails from Bob, delete them, or, simply forward them to your boss.
    – Fattie
    Jun 19 at 14:33
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    @HighGPA, You wrote that "I am not sure if Bob knows that I won't be getting paid for working on weekends." So, that is another reason you should politely, professionally, and clearly tell Bob that you won't get paid for working on the weekends, and ask Bob if his company is willing to pay for your work on the weekends. (But, if you would rather not working on the weekends even when Bob's company agrees to pay you, then you don't have to work for them...) Jun 19 at 17:38
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If I refuse to help [...] delayed salary is possible for anyone

Who said that? Bob? He's trying to manipulate you. Don't believe him. Delays caused by other teams/companies are no reason to reduce or delay your salary. And in general, if you made an honest effort to get your work done, you get your full salary, on time, even if the missed goals or deadlines are your fault. Sure, if it's your fault there may be consequences (no bonus, no promotion, in the long run even being fired), but your salary is still due. That is, again, if you are to blame. If others are to blame, even more so.

Don't believe Bob!

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  • I guessed this out: if the project is delayed, Company A will get the payment later, and all contractors for Company A will receive their salary later.
    – High GPA
    Jun 21 at 21:37
  • "if the project is delayed, Company A will get the payment later": no! There's a contract between company A and the company that is paying for the project (let's call them company Z). If A fulfills its contract, Z must pay them, fully and on time. And there's also a contract between you and A: if you did what you had to, again, your salary is due, even if Z hasn't paid A yet. And company A must have the money to compensate for these "hiccups". If it turns out they don't, it means it's a very brittle company, and you should really find another one. Jun 21 at 23:59
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Another point not mentioned above - which company is liable if you get hurt during this activity? Does Company A pay? Not likely, as you are not working for them. Likewise, you are not even on the payroll for company B. So, even if you would like to help out Bob, if you are injured, then this can be extremely expensive for you.

4

This answer is mostly in regards to your recent updates to your question.

You state:

If I refuse to help, Bob and company B won't appreciate me and the project will take longer to be finished, and delayed salary is possible for anyone.

How important is it for Bob and company B to "appreciate" you? If it requires that they abuse your good nature, is their appreciation really desired? Also, with regard to a delayed salary, how is your contract constructed? Are you in fact penalized if another company does not come through?


Update Jun 19: I reported the situation to Company A. Both Bob and his manager also indirectly asks Company A for my help. However, Company A say that they cannot afford to hire me for further works due to budget constraint.

They know your requirements, and what they must do, and these requirements are eminently reasonable -- if they want or need your help, they pay for it.

I also told Bob that I won't be getting paid. Bob understands this; he still asks me for a favor; and he offers to introduce me to some other projects later as a favor back. When I asks him for the details on how he will do the favor back, he says he is too busy these two days and will let me know later.

This is not the request of a friend or even a collegial request but rather, as others have stated, is still asking for free work, and is verging on an abusive request. If you let him get away with this, then you will be setting a precedent and will be setting yourself up for future abuse and this will not benefit you or your career one jot. If he has no concrete way to pay you now for work done now, and in an amount commensurate with your efforts, then end this discussion and move on. Bob's problem is just that, Bob's problem, not yours.

Also, this:

When I asks him for the details on how he will do the favor back, he says he is too busy these two days and will let me know later.

Shows you exactly how important you and your concerns are to Bob

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    First, you don't owe him a favor. If he's asking for one, and you want to give him the chance to prove he's on the up and up (he's not), then you have every right to say, "well, Bob, since I'm not going to get paid and you're going to do me a favor, I'm sure you wouldn't mind putting exactly what favor you're proposing to do for me in writing so I can decide if it's a fair trade." He is asking you for something; it's up to him to make it worthwhile, and for you to judge whether he'll actually carry through. My bet is that he'll promise the moon and do squat in any case. Jun 21 at 2:45

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