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I was laid off from my regular job and have been working part time contracts for a staffing agency. The other day I was asked to hand out flyers for a new businesses. Overall the work went well but there was a strong sense of disorganization and confusion. I was told to meet at businesses office, where I picked up assets including a branded t-shirt and the flyers. I assumed at the end of the shift I would return the assets where I got them from. About an hour before the shift was over I went back to the office to get something. I was informed by someone who was working there that they would be locking the office doors in 15 minutes. Since I couldn't get back into the office, I took all the undistributed flyers with me home at the end of the shift. We had been working in pairs and my partner knew I was doing this and he did the same (though he was also working the next day and I wasn't). Looking back, maybe I should have messaged the manager of the staffing agency, but he had largely been unresponsive and is in a different time zone. Today I got a bunch of messages from someone else who had worked there asking me to return the flyers. Awhile later the manager of the staffing agency also started messaging me asking me to return them. Someone had told the manager that the office was unlocked by the time I left and tried to make it sound like I was somehow being negligent. I told the manager that he can call the office to check for himself and he said he doesn't want to play he said / she said. I asked the manager what time there will be someone at the office for me to drop off the flyers, and he hasn't gotten back to me.

How much effort should I put into all this? Should I look up the company's phone number and arrange what time to drop the flyers off? I was planning on using the manager as a reference for another job. How urgent is all this? Should I change other plans to make this a priority, or can it wait until the next time I'm in the area? I was uncomfortable talking with the first person who wasn't my manager. Should I have ignored her messages, asked the manager if there's something I should do, or something else? The general tone is like I've done something wrong. Should I ask the manager to investigate because I'm not comfortable with a malicious accusation going unaddressed or something like that? I feel like I often get myself into these weird, complicated situations. Any advice in general on how to avoid this sort of thing in the future?

3 Answers 3

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At this point you just switch to "formal" communication. Write an email to whoever needs to be involved and make sure that your manager and the staffing agency are copied.

State that

  1. You could not return the flyers on the day you worked because the office closed 45 minutes before the shift ended (add exact date and time)
  2. You would like to return the flyers as soon as possible, in order to do that they need to
  3. provide you with the opening times of the office,
  4. give you instructions on what to do if the office is closed (leaving at the door, reception, etc), or
  5. Send someone to your place to pick them up.

Finish this with "how would you like to proceed?", and see what happens.

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    Probably "you were told the office would close 45 minutes before the shift ended" because "Someone had told the manager that the office was unlocked by the time I left" which may or may not be true. One can only relate what one knows to be true. Commented May 19 at 17:16
  • I'm not planning on asking but would it be fair to be paid for the time to make the trip to the office? Commented May 19 at 23:49
  • @AndrewLeach I had taken over for someone who had to leave half way through her shift. It was her who initially started messaging me I wasn't supposed to take the supplies home with me. She said I was lying that the doors had been locked before the end of the shift. In situations like this I have trouble deciding to ignore crap, or act defensively. Sometimes I feel society has gone to far with "stay neutral" (aka don't get into blame game). If someone's making a fake accusation they should be noted as such. This is a philosophical point but curious what others think. Commented May 19 at 23:58
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The person in charge of this task should have made clear what the end of the day tasks would be. They needed a plan for gathering equipment, and supplies. They needed to make sure that everybody knew their part. Somebody was responsible. It could have been a person in the company, or a person at the staffing agency.

Contact via email the relevant people and explain your actions at the end of the day. Ask them what they want to do. You can give them a few options, but don't suggest any that will cost you money.

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I'm not sure what country you're in, but if you're in the US here's what you could do:

  1. First and foremost, avoid more phone calls. Communicate by email and establish a paper trail.
  2. Make sure you get paid correctly. Regardless of this mess on your hands, an employer is not allowed to dock your pay. Be prepared to contact your state's department of labor if you need to.
  3. If you need to drive to return the items, then they need to pay you for your time and fuel. Otherwise, they can send you a prepaid shipping label and a few bucks for a box.

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