I have a small CPA office with only 3 employees and 6 during tax time. One staff also a CPA is a Mom with husband and 3 kids ages 4 – 10 and now 4 kids as she took in an exchange student age 12 for more money. I have given her what she wants part time from 9 – 2 to drop off and pickup kids from school. School and home is only a 10 minute drive. A year ago she only worked 3 days a week but last fall needed another 10 hours only to support a rental property they bought. She gets laid off for the summer so she can be with the kids. Last September I called her back to work and said that she put her resume into a large “Family Friendly” CPA firm and could not commit herself to me until she heard from them by October 31st. So I gave her the extra 10 hours even though I did not have the extra work and waited patiently for her to tell me whether or not she was staying. The firm she applied to did not give her an interview and in her cover letter she told them her expectations and hours of work.
I know she wants to work for this firm and did not even apply anywhere else and I am just a stopgap. I pay her well but cannot afford benefits. I have paid for her to take professional development courses and pay her wages at the same time. Her 10 years’ experience is audits but my firm provides corporate business and individual services. So while she is working for me she is getting experience she does not have. She does not do any professional reading at home as she said she has no time as she is a “Mommy”. So I give professional updates at the office. I don’t think she appreciates what I am doing for her. Even though she wants to start at 9 she sometimes is not in as she is running late dropping the kids off at school. Then later she is in an extreme hurry to pick up the kids and runs out the office.
I told her that her hours are 9 – 2 as she wanted. So if she arrives late she still leaves at 2. But she wants to work after 2 when she can so she can make up for lost wages. She will text me at the last minute or late the night before if she will be in late in the morning and why. It’s not occasional and is getting more frequent.
The problem is: She thinks she can shift her start and end times at her whim. According to her this is “Family Friendly”. Her excuses are that her other employer let her arrive late but she made up her time. But that employer was over an hour’s drive and she was working full-time in a much larger office. She never knows when her husband will be called to work as a cable guy and he takes priority . So if he is at home to look after the kids she thinks she can stay later and work beyond 2 pm. Is it unfair of me to not want to allow her to make up her time after 2 pm? (I can if I want to but not during tax time when she works 9 – 5). Also how should I handle things during tax time if she juggles her time?
She was not just late due to dropping off kids at school. The following are other reasons for her being late or not being able to come in at all:
1. They got a new dog so she had to go home during her working hours to feed and walk the dog numerous times
2. She had to take her Mother-in-law to the Doctors because everyone else was “working”
3. She forgot she volunteered to drive school kids to a field trip
4. She took time off to watch her daughter play volleyball
5. She took time off so she could go skating with the boys at school
6. She came in late after a number of Chiropractor appointments which I would think could have been scheduled better
7. She had to take the kids to either the Doctor or Dentist (this I totally understand)
8. And of course with 4 kids sick time to take care of them (this I totally understand)
I am going to speak to her tomorrow and tell her that we are “Family Friendly” and that she can take time off from 9 to 2 with my approval (I hardly disagree as you can see in the emails) but she will not be able to make up her time after 2 pm. During Tax Time she will have to work 9 -5 and if needing time off will require my approval.
But I would still like to have your opinion if I can.
Family friendly does not mean do whatever you want whenever you want. If she wants that she can darn well open her own firm. I mean, I’m self employed, so I can work whenever I want, and I can accept or turn down work based entirely on what I want on a particular day. Of course, that also means that I accept the consequences. For instance, if I tell a client, “No, I can’t do three articles for you this month, I can only do two because my precious snowflake has started violin lessons and between battling the teacher, who wants her to have a $4000 violin* to begin with, and listening to the practicing, I can’t handle the stress of an extra article!” then the client might just say, “Thanks, but no thanks, I’ll find someone else.” Additionally, if the client agrees to two articles, she certainly won’t pay me for three.
Personally, your set up sounds amazing and almost makes me want to be a CPA so I can work for you. (Okay, that’s a lie, as I would be the world’s worst accountant.) But, talk about a family friendly set up: She can be home to pick up and drop off her kids from school. She has summers off. (And you even lay her off so I presume she’s eligible for unemployment.) That IS family friendly.
When she’s working 9:00-2:00 she should be able to schedule most appointments outside of that time frame. I do say most because sometimes you simply take what you can get. But, for a dental cleaning or a pediatric check up or your regular chiropractor appointment you can schedule those so far out you can pick your times. (For the most part–I know there are exceptions, but realistically, if you call your dentist today and say, “I’d like to schedule a check up in June,” the response will be “what day and what time would you like?”)
Sick kids happen, and I’m thrilled that you accept that as part of life.
But the thing that actually concerns me the most about this woman is number 2. She had to take her Mother-in-law to the Doctors because everyone else was “working.” This totally demonstrates that she doesn’t see her job for you as “work” but rather an an income generator, which she seems quite fond of. (And note, this also demonstrates some family dynamics that need fixing–why is her job not considered “work” when other family members’ jobs are?) After all, she’s now got rental property and an exchange student in order to generate money. (Really? An exchange student as a profit center? I feel totally sorry for that kid! And isn’t 12 a bit young to be an exchange student?) The rental property isn’t working out to0 well if she needs to work more hours to afford it.
So, I wholeheartedly support your plan to be straightforward and set hard boundaries. I’d also add to it that if she can’t meet those restrictions, you’ll have to terminate her. For Mother-in-law appointments, MIL either needs to hit up one of her kids or schedule after 2:00 and not during tax season. Your employee needs to learn that the job is a priority. A top priority. Yes, if MIL falls and breaks her hip or the exchange student has a break down because she’s skimping money on his support in order to make a profit off him (I seriously can’t believe this part. Someone who has done exchange student hosting, help me out here. Is it possible to make a profit on this?), then that’s an emergency. But, other things need to be scheduled around work.
Now, I’m even going to be a little harsh here. If she was working full time, it would be totally realistic for her to have to take time off during the day for various things–and that would be family friendly. But, since her schedule is family friendly, she’s got to do her part to be business friendly. Sometimes, having a job means you have to miss the class party (sometimes this is a blessing, just saying).
The hardest part is going to be for you–to stand up to her. When she demands more hours, or comes in whenever or schedules things without prior approval, you’ll have to stand up to her. You may end up needing to terminate her. And, I bet there other CPA moms out there who would love the schedule you have. And who won’t take advantage of you.
*Seriously. Does my daughter’s violin teacher get a commission from the the music store? Because I’m not shelling out big bucks for a better violin. Twinkle Twinkle performed by a beginner would sound awful on the Vieuxtemps Guarneri, so let’s stick with the cheap violin until she proves herself to be dedicated.