There are lots of reasons why employees would pool their money together. They may want to donate to a colleague in need, contribute a joint gift to a charity, or fund a get-together for everyone.
These contributions should always be voluntary, and everyone should respect the choices of people who choose not to participate.
However, sometimes managers ask for money from low-wage staff for ridiculous reasons, and sometimes, it’s more of a demand than a request.
Buying the Boss a Gift
Some companies have traditions where the staff pools money to buy their bosses a nice Christmas gift. Although they say it’s voluntary, there’s an unspoken rule that if you don’t contribute, you’re not a “team player.”
The worst part of these traditions is that the owners are typically much wealthier than the lowly employees forced to contribute, as one person’s story online shows.
Profit vs Wages
The Original Poster (OP) shared that they work at a boutique hotel that generates approximately six million dollars annually in profits. OP makes $17 per hour and needs a second job to make ends meet.
Their general manager owns a home and takes overseas vacations. OP has never met the hotel owners but assumes they are even more well-off than the GM.
Manager Asks for Money
Despite the glaring income disparity, OP’s manager asked OP to contribute money for a holiday gift for the GM and the two owners.
OP was shocked at the idea. “I’m offended my manager would have the gall to ask me and my coworkers for $ to buy these comparatively well-off folks holiday gifts,” they shared.
However, they’re unsure if the practice is standard or if they should say something.
Breach of Etiquette
Internet users claimed the manager’s ask breached appropriate business etiquette. Some businesses may do it, but it’s considered rude in many circles.
“Etiquette says that gifts at work should flow downward, not upward,” shared a user. The power dynamics make it bad form to gift up.
“I would feel extremely uncomfortable if my direct reports gave me a present that they paid for themselves,” said another user.
It Might Be the Manager
Many users said the manager might be the brains behind the brilliant plan. Some folks have a compulsion to suck up to their bosses. A manager eyeing a promotion may think giving an expensive gift will put them in their leader’s good graces.
Don’t Do It
The consensus is that employees should never give their managers gifts, and it’s especially true if the employee can barely afford to live.
You don’t owe your employer anything except what you agreed to do for money; that’s it. Giving gifts above and beyond is inappropriate; any good leader would refuse it.
OP should politely decline but keep an eye on their manager for any form of retaliation, which would be illegal.