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I know someone who recently asked her boss to work remotely because she's relocating. She also asked for a raise that she had been promised a long time ago that never materialized.

Her employer said he would allow her to work remotely for a 3 month trial period. She then asked about the raise again and he said "he'd have to think about it".

He just emailed her back saying he actually rescinds his original offer for a 3 month trial. Is it unethical for the boss to rescind the offer?

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    Was this person fired, or was she just prevented from working remotely? – panoptical Apr 10 '14 at 18:51
  • She was just prevented from working remotely... but that means terminating employment (of her own free will) when she moves. – ForOhFor Apr 10 '14 at 18:52
  • What do you get from this answer? Your friend is stuck working for someone who doesn't keep his word. – user8365 Apr 10 '14 at 20:08
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    Unethical? Certainly if he gave his word and then went back on it (on either the raise, or the telecommuting, or both), that would be unethical. But within his power? Yes. And does your colleague have any recourse? No, not really. – aroth Apr 11 '14 at 4:43
  • @aroth Well put. I think that sums up the situation pretty well. – ForOhFor Apr 11 '14 at 7:43
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Is it unethical for the boss to rescind the offer?

For my personal ethics, it would depend on why the offer was rescinded.

For example, if the boss was just messing with your friend, that wouldn't match my personal ethics. If the boss was trying to punish your friend for asking about a raise, that wouldn't match my personal ethics.

But "ethical" or not, this sort of thing happens - budgets change, projects change, situations change, bosses change their mind after thinking it over, bosses are forced to convey bad news when their boss says "No", etc.

It's also possible that your friend was sending signals that she was planning to leave. Many bosses would immediately start planning for the departure - perhaps this reaction was part of the planning.

Unless he/she was contractually bound (perhaps by union rules), a boss is within her/his rights/scope of responsibility to rescind such an offer.

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  • Well, the company she works for is extremely small and she's dealing with the CEO/owner directly. She is their entire finance department and actually knows that he just gave a different coworker a raise because she does payroll. – ForOhFor Apr 10 '14 at 19:00
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    @ForOhFor - Does it suck for your friend... yes absolutely. But the CEO made a business decision. It was not terribly professional but then again she was given a 3 month trail period to work remotely, then asked for a raise go along with that perk. That was not a terribly professional move either. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 10 '14 at 20:53
  • @Chad - The raise was in relation to a previous promise that the company had failed to follow through on, according to the OP. I don't think asking about it was unprofessional in this case. – aroth Apr 11 '14 at 5:03
  • @JoeStrazzere My first comment was just in response to part of your answer. (It wasnt a boss passing along a new message from a superior, because she's talking directly to the decision maker. She's also pretty sure that they are financially in a place to give her a raise. It must have just been a change of mind.) But as you said, its his decision where to spend his money so its within his rights. I guess its just frustrating for her to see everything that's going on financially and watch him make decisions like that (ie. to give a coworker raise instead of her). – ForOhFor Apr 11 '14 at 7:48
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    @aroth - I am not saying it was unprofessional but on the but it was not the wisest move if the most important thing to you is that you be able to work remotely, asking for a raise along side it is not a good move. Now if the only way the OP is willing to keep the job is with both criteria met no harm in asking. If the OP had ask for the most professional way to get both, its get the remote work established, wait 5 or 6 months then ask for the raise once the working remotely has been accepted and made permanent(instead of probationary) – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 11 '14 at 13:41
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Ethics aside, I think your friend should ask her boss if he has specific concerns she might be able to address about her ability to do the job effectively from a remote location. It's possible she can still salvage the offer if she does this and is able to address all concerns.

I also think your friend made a tactical error pushing for a raise at the same time she asked about remote work. She should have either secured the raise before raising the issue of remote work, or let it drop at least until after a successful 3-month trial. Being allowed to work remotely and not have to give up a good job due to a move is a big deal. Asking for a raise at the same time was too much. So... if she does go back and ask him about any concerns he might have that she can address, she should definitely drop any talk of a raise for right now. She might even want to say something along the lines of "never mind about the raise for now" if she (or someone else here) can think of a way of saying that diplomatically.

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  • Great suggestion. She went ahead and asked him, and his response was "Nope, just money". – ForOhFor Apr 11 '14 at 7:52
  • That's a shame, because it's probably something she can't fix, especially having made the tactical error of pushing for a raise at the same time. – PurpleVermont Apr 11 '14 at 16:56

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