This post continues the discussion from November 24. I’m grateful for Diana Schneideman’s comment, which provoked this follow-up. I suggest reading that post first and then returning to this one.
First: The situation is disguised. I can’t say if Frank and Norma are both females, both males or gender reversed. But typically I find men are more likely to take risks. They’re also more likely to take action rather than to “talk things out” or ask permission.
One example: When I made my futile attempts at corporate life, I once had a boss who kept getting requests for reports. He filed all those requests in the wastebasket. Nobody ever noticed. I don’t know if it’s gender-based or region-based (he was a New Yorker with a tough upbringing) but it was more effective than negotiating the value of those reports. He kept his job.
Second, Norma’s company uses many independent contractors. Norma is one of ten. They work on annual contracts. The contracts are open-ended; they are more like “x number of course to develop per year.” So if they keep adding more requirements for EACH course, technically they’re in compliance. Obviously a lawyer would question this contract (it’s like giving the employer a blank check). Fighting the issue in court is most likely unrealistic and legalistic responses destroy most job relationships anyway.
Norma probably does not have enough bargaining power to negotiate a rate increase. She doesn’t know the other contractors and has no idea if they’re barely competent and/or desperate. So they may be willing to work tons of extra hours with no complaint, leave her the odd woman out.
As to Frank, he could have an inheritance, other irons in the fire, or a working spouse. He might be old enough to get social security!
Or he just might be one of those people who believes he will always land on his feet.
I see that Norma has three choices.
(1) She can knuckle under and do a lot more work for the same pay. Meanwhile she can continue to look for other work, although the extra work demanded here will make it difficult. Her resentment can interfere with her productivity.
(2) She can politely negotiate with the company’s management. She can simply point out the increase in number of hours required for course development. It’s barely possible that they don’t realize how much the workload has increased.
However, often there are often a few management layers between policymakers and contractors like Norma. Norma’s own boss may not be able to do much officially. ”
As Diana pointed out in her comment on the November 24 post, they’re a bad client if they fire you just for raising the issue. But the dollar income may take awhile to replace. Anyway,we already know they’re a lousy client: they’re making changes in workload without offering to compensate their contract workers. Once Norma raises the question, when she signs her next contract, she will be agreeing implicitly to this increased workload.
(3) Norma can simply not do the work: she can continue to develop courses the way she’s always done it. It’s hard to explain just how this works because I’ve had to disguise the details. But let’s say the new requirements are more about form than content and the courses are still deliverable: it’s more about style than substance.
Meanwhile she continues to look for a new replacement contract. If others are doing this (and/or if anyone’s risked challenging management), she may find the company alters its requirements or its rate structure. That way it’s their idea.
She also forces them to make the decision to fire her, which sometimes delays action a long, long time. Companies often tolerate low performance. Presumably she will have references from other places for her next job and anyway companies are pretty careful about what they say.
Most likely she’ll get some kind of warning if the company seriously intends to take action. Then she can choose options (1) or (2).