Hiring Promises Broken!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about promises made at hiring broken:

I will be graduating this summer (a busy season for my company) and before I was hired, I advised my boss of this and he said there wasn’t going to be a problem. The other day, I told him which dates I need off and now he says “I don’t know about that.” I made it clear before I was hired that I need this time off because I have to travel to my graduation (5 states away) and back.

Also, he told me before I was hired that he would give me a 45 day review and he would also get me up to the same salary I was making before (I am making 8k less). When they offered the salary, I was ready to walk out the door, because it was so low, but I accepted it without hesitation because I was desperate for work (same kind of job as my last job). What should I do? How can he renege on his promises now? I will quit my job over this when graduation time comes if he won’t let me get the time off of work now. I am a great employee, always early and always taking more responsibilities on. Please help!

Signed, Lied to & Cheated

Dear Lied to & Cheated:

Dear Lied To: It seems that some very clear communication is needed! But, first, a thought about that communication.Without a legal contract, no promises made at hiring are binding. That seems unfair, but it is the case. The argument could be made that circumstances have changed, the promise was only a “we’ll see” kind of thing or that the promise was never made at all. As for the salary and review, the same issue applies, unfortunately. However, all is not lost. Have you considered either writing or talking to your boss and telling him how frustrated you are right now? Without accusing him of lying, tell him that you think you are a good employee and you had planned to stay, but the situation of no review and now the graduation issue has you feeling really frustrated and upset. Ask for his help to make it all happen as you had talked about. Or ask if there is something you could do to facilitate it. For example, if there is some way to prepare ahead of time for the time you will be gone. Ask him if you can set a date for a review time, or if there is something you could do to get the process started.

The decision about how to approach it will be based on your relationship with your boss and others in the company. If you have an immediate supervisor, you should talk to that person first. If there is an HR section you may want to talk to them. You might want to keep the graduation and the money issue separate, but it seems to me, they are part of the same situation; you had expectations based on what you were told and those things aren’t happening. If there is someone over your boss, you may eventually need to talk to that person. I would also think it wise to let him know how important the graduation is to you and that you feel you can’t miss it for a number of reasons. Let him draw his own conclusion about what you’ll do if he continues to say no. He likely has a very good reason for being worried about it, if that’s a busy time. But if you can find a way to make it somewhat easier he might see that it is possible. Emphasize that you enjoy the work and want to stay. At some point you may have to let him know that you’re close to quitting. But if you can get things changed without that threat, it would be far better. Even if someone wants a person to stay, they tend to get stubborn when the person threatens to leave. You say you need the job, so apparently it won’t be easy to leave and find other work. He may know that. But, if you’ve been a good employee, he may want to ensure you stay and continue to do good work. In the meantime, be the same good employee as always, even while he’s still thinking about whether to let you go. Let him see that he would be clearly in the wrong to deny you what he promised.

I hope those are things that might help you deal with this successfully; or at least start your thoughts about a good way to handle it. The main thing is to keep your composure, and, until you know otherwise, make the assumption that he does, in fact, want to help you but is concerned about business. If you show your concern too, you will more likely be viewed as someone who is part of the team and deserves this time away. If you have the opportunity and want to do so, let us know the results on this.

Tina Lewis Rowe