Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Creating Exceptional Workplaces and Extraordinary Results
Roberta Matuson's Blog

Are You Working for Free?

Lately, I've been running into a lot of people who don't seem to mind working for free. I'm sure having a difficult time figuring out what is so attractive about this "opportunity."

Case in point…young people, who work in retail (Lane Bryant) who stay at work for several hours after the store closes, straightening up when they are no longer on the clock. Is this legal? No. Then why do they do it? I have my suspicions. Some people might say they do it because they are committed to the job. However, I believe the real reason they do it is because they believe (and in some cases they are right) that if they don't do it, they won't have a job.

It becomes this cult thing where everyone is afraid to say something to the powers that be (who usually know this is going on) for fear they will soon be on the unemployment lines. Shameful. There is a reason there are wage and hour laws. It's because for years, people worked countless hours without receiving compensation. You would think in 2010 we would no longer see this type of abuse. But as Oprah would say, the only way you can be taken advantage of is if you let people take advantage of you. Wake up people!

Then there are the situations where people are "volunteering" with the hopes they will eventually be offered a full-time position. I'm all for volunteering when you set very clear boundaries or when you are getting an opportunity to learn some valuable skills that will make you more marketable. You limit your time to one or two days a week and you do so for a set period of time. None of this working for free stuff unless, it's really in your best interest.

Maybe if less people were willing to work for free, we would have fewer people on unemployment and less employee abuse in the workplace.

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