I have worked for my current employer for nearly 10 years.

My employer, since I joined the company 10 years ago, has always operated four separate limited companies.

I joined the Company A Limited, any letters to me from my employer are addressed from Company A Limited, and I've always been paid by Company A Limited.

My employer also operates four separate limited companies, Company B, Company C, and Company D Limited. At the start it wasn't made clear that I would also be supporting these separate companies but over time I've learned to manage and, even though it sometimes gets to me that I am practically working for free for those companies, as my employer isn't paying an IT person to support them, I've generally always let it pass.

My employer is now opening an additional 3 separate limited companies and I have been involved in the process from the start. At no point has my employer mentioned that I would be getting a substantial pay review, or, if I wouldn't be supporting them long term, a one of bonus for the extensive project management work that I'm doing. I've raised this with them and they've said that it'll be reviewed once the new companies are operational, but that doesn't stand with me as I'm clearly already severely underpaid for the 4 companies that I technically already work for, without the additional 3.

I did mention this off the cuff to our HR person and he basically said that once you've done certain things for a certain time period, even though it's not the job that you joined to do and it's not in your contract, it would legally stand for them and basically becomes your contract (is that even correct?).

What should I do here? Am I able to put my foot down and say "next Monday I am coming in to work, to work for the company that pays me, Company A Limited, and I will only be working for that company, not the other 3 that I've covered for nearly 10 years, and definitely not your 3 new companies"?

What's the most professional way to handle this? Should I deal with the fact that I'm technically not paid for the 3 existing additional companies that I cover, or just deal with the new 3 that I will be expected to cover in the future?

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    Are you getting paid by company A for the time that you are working for company B? If so - you are not working for free – Ed Heal Feb 2 '17 at 11:09
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    A subcontract means your employer has a deal of some sort, and ideally gets compensated by the other companies, but that doesn't have any bearing on your contract. – tripleee Feb 2 '17 at 11:25
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    @user63894 sure you are able to that. You'll probably be fired though... – Erik Feb 2 '17 at 11:29
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    You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding. Being an employee of A and supporting B, C, D are orthogonal. Such arrangements happen all the time. You can tell your boss you don't want to do the job anymore, but the logical next step is losing that job. However, if your actual issue is that you are underpaid or overworked, it can be addressed. But you need to frame it in a totally different way. – Roland Feb 2 '17 at 11:29
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    I would have expected a person with 10 years of experience to have a slightly better understanding of how employment works. Long story short, you are working for employer A. It is just that on certain occasions, employer A asks you to work for B, C, D, but you are still working for employer A. You wouldn't be working there if you weren't employed with A. – Masked Man Feb 2 '17 at 11:39

What's the most professional way to handle this?

The professional way to handle this is to do the tasks your manager asks you to do. If you manager says "please support Company B", then the professional thing is to support Company B (or C. or D. or Z. or whichever one they asks you to support).

It doesn't matter that you're nominally on the payroll of Company A, and doing work for another company - it's a decision for the owner(s) of the companies involved how they allocate their resources, and they've chosen to allocate some of your time to support other companies in their group. Which company you're nominally paid by is almost entirely irrelevant here - and you're not working for them "for free": you're being paid.

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    That's not how it works. Your employer pays you a salary and you perform the work they ask you to perform. If that is a service to another company, that's settled between your employer and that company, and has no direct impact on your personal salary. Also, if Company A voluntarily pays an external IT support company to perform services for Company B, why is that a problem for any of the involved parties? – tripleee Feb 2 '17 at 11:26
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    Seems fine to me. If she doesn't want to do the work you want her to do, she can find a different job. If you don't want to do support for all these companies, find a different job. You don't get to pick and choose what you do at work unless you own the company. – Philip Kendall Feb 2 '17 at 11:30
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    @user63894 are you having a problem with working for multiple companies, or do you just feel your workload is too high because you're expected to do work for multiple companies? They are two VERY different things. The latter you can actually have a constructive discussion about with your boss; the former not so much. – Erik Feb 2 '17 at 11:31
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    They misunderstood because you asked the wrong question. You should ask a new question about having to work too many hours and how to deal with that - the multiple companies aren't the problem here, your workload is. – Erik Feb 2 '17 at 11:34
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    Then the workload, not the number of clients, is the problem here. I'm not sure how to proceed - if you edit your question, much of the old discussion here will not make much sense; if you post a new question with a better explanation of what the problem is, there will be duplication between that question and this one. – tripleee Feb 2 '17 at 11:34

It's actually a very similar situation to the one I'm in.

My employer has numerous companies, but 2 of them are somewhat big. We have only one IT department, who supports and develops for all of the owner's companies.

The way it works is we're here 8 hours a day, and how we spend these hours is something for the owner to decide. Now if he decides that we support all of his companies in this time, that's fine, that doesn't make it more work though.

There's a reasonable expectation that you can do only so much during any given work day, and it seems to me that your problem harkens more from that your expectation of what that is is very different from your employer's.

So adress that.

Whether you spend 8 hours on one company solving 20 support tickets (drastically simplified but you get the point) or 8 hours supporting 4 companies solving 5 tickets each is irrelevant.


Your employer is Company A. If they tell you to do X work for Company B, as long as that work is relevant to your role (i.e. IT related work), then there isn't a valid reason why you could refuse to do this. Company A may receive a fee from the other companies for IT services.

Companies purchase other companies all the time and share services (acocunts, payroll, HR etc). These staff members do not get paid any more to provide these services to subsidiary companies.

Your issue seems that you feel you are being overworked and underpaid. The structure of the companies is irrelevant for your situation, although it's clearly compaunding the situation. I would suggest trying to tackle the lack of resource in your department generally rather than the fact you are doing work for x companies.


Yes you can put your foot down, but what happens next will depend on your exact situation.

If the work you are doing for Company A will take less than 40 hours per week, then demanding to only work for company A will drop you to part time. This puts your job at risk.

If the work that needs to be done for company A will take up 40 hours, then telling them that they need to hire additional people to handle the other companies will keep you at full time.

Approach the owner with a way to get better IT support. Tell him that an extensive period of time at more than 40 hours per week is bad for performance. Tell them that jumping around between the different "customers" is inefficient. Adding one or two more people will allow for better quality of support, and improved response time. If the companies aren't co-located, having more people in IT will cut down on travel time, and not leave IT uncovered while traveling.

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