I work at a company that has been on its last leg since it was born. But the boss somehow always pulls off a half-court shot at the buzzer and has kept us going for way longer than it seemed possible.
Recently things have gotten much more grim. He cut pay; there was a payroll issued late; he took out a loan and blasted through it; and now he is informing us that he only has enough money to pay us till the end of this week. That all seems very cut and dry, but he is the kind of guy who must go till the bitter end. So to this end, he is encouraging his 5 employees to continue working with the hope that he will scrape something together.
Some of the employees seem to be willing to go along with it, but I'm annoyed by the whole situation. I do not want to quit and be left unable to get unemployment while I job search. I also do not want to work for free for as long as he drags this thing out. One thing I considered was asking him to lay me off and turn me into a contractor so that I could collect unemployment while continuing to work without pay from him, but I suppose that would be illegal if I ever received the backpay for that period later. I would be willing to pay back the unemployment in that event, but I really doubt there is accommodation for such an arrangement.
What is the right course of action for an employee asked to gamble with the company and work for free while the payroll is dry?
[Edit: for everyone who was wondering about jurisdiction, I live in California, US]