I work for a contracting company, developing an application for a client. The company is always late in paying my salary. I always have to ask them to send me the check, sometimes after a delay of a couple of weeks.

I now put my work on hold until I get my salary, but my client regularly asks me about my work progress. So far my company has been deflecting my client's questions.

Should I tell my client about my situation, or just be silent and let my company deal with it? I don't want to ruin my reputation but I don't want to work for free either.

Edit: Thanks Kate Gregory offer a really good solution but I think it still my decision/fault to hold my work, so I'm going with akton in this case.

  • I reworded your question details based on what I think your main issue is. If I have got it wrong, please edit or comment.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 5:49
  • @Happy thanks for the edit :), I also realize I put wrong information they usually late a week or two but now it has been a three week. not a month yet
    – kirie
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 6:14
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    Did you let your company know that you've put your work on hold until your salary is resolved? BTW do you have a contract with the company that specifies e.g. when salary is to be paid. Maybe a month delay is contractual?
    – Brandin
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 6:53
  • 13
    Please tell me that you spend the time when your work is "on hold" looking for another job, at a company that is actually solvent enough to make payroll? Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 11:08
  • 1
    @kirie In addition to other comments that you may ought to look for a better place to work, if you want to remain working for them it would be best to have something in writing especially as to when you get paid, but a written agreement is also to their benefit. At the beginning you may have both agreed that "its a pretty standard thing" but then when trouble like this comes, you really want it in writing.
    – Brandin
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 14:58

5 Answers 5


Should I tell my client about my situation, or just be silent and let my company deal with it?

Request the client talk to your company for updates instead of you. Politely decline to comment further. Anything negative said about your contracting company will impact poorly on them. While you think they may deserve it, it is more professional to leave discussions such as that to others.

Regarding your position, you have not given any details about the situation so it is hard to comment. There may be legitimate reasons why you are not being paid but I understand your sentiment - you are not a charity. Hopefully this is cleared up soon.


This is unlikely to end up with you being paid and resuming work at the client. However, one of the few things that might produce such an outcome is pressure from the client. You can't reveal that you're not being paid. I suggest:

I'm sorry, but some recent decisions at [Company] mean I can't work on your project right now. I would really like to get back to making progress for you. Perhaps if you tell [Client Contact Manager at Company] that you want me to be free to work on your project again, things can go back to normal.

This presumes that you've told [Client Contact Manager at Company] that you're not working any more until you're paid. Somebody needs to know that or else they will just continue bumbling along paying you later and later.

I sure hope you're looking for another job with the time you have since you're not doing anything for your client. Even if your employer recovers and is able to pay you, they won't pay you for the time you weren't working and they may fire you for not working. You're also reducing the chances they will be able to recover since they can't get money from this client if you're not giving the client anything.

  • 5
    +1 for the business finance ripple effect, and for the notion that OP should be looking for a better place to work.
    – Kent A.
    Commented Apr 19, 2015 at 13:24

Radio silence is not an option because you don't want/need the client to view you as uncooperative. Advise the client to contact the management of your company.

Having said that, if you haven't yet notified your company that you are suspending all work until you are being paid or the company is making significant progress in paying you what they owe you, then you are being remiss in your responsibilities. It's OK to tell the company that you are doing no further work until you are paid, it's not OK to suspend work and not say anything to the company.

  • The client complains and I'm sure the time-sheets reflect work is getting delayed. How much more does the company need?
    – user8365
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 15:05
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    @JeffO Time-sheets reflect what happened. They don't reflect what's going to happen - in particular, that I am about to suspend work. Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 21:40

If your company doesn't pay you, then you have no future there. You have no moral or ethical obligations towards them, so look for a job elsewhere.

As far as your client is concerned, you could blatantly assume that your company isn't paying you because the client is not paying them. That's a very natural assumption, because the alternative is that your company is a bunch of scumbags (I know of a company that didn't pay its employees because the bosses wife needed a new Ferrari).

So when you tell the client that unfortunately you can't work until they pay your company, things should get interesting. Most likely the client has paid and will be quite annoyed with your company. There will be a contract between client and the company, and if you don't work because you are not being paid, then the company is likely in breach of their contract with the client. This might make it quite possible to work for the client directly in the future.


Definitely not - doing so is going to destroy the contracting company's relationship with the client, and you don't want to get into that sort of escalation.

How I'd handle this: send an email to your contact at the contracting company, informing them you will not being doing any further work for the client until you have been paid. Then start stonewalling all communication from the client: no matter what they ask, just say "Please refer all communication on this matter to (named person at contracting company)" - and if it's an email, ensure that person is copied in.

The only situation in which I'd be more direct is of you think the contracting company is likely to throw you under the bus and blame you for the issues - you don't want your professional reputation to be damaged by this. In that case, you might want to change the email to the client to include something like "Unfortunately, I am in contractual dispute with (company)." But be very careful doing this, as it could well end up with lawyers involved.

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