A Salary Advance: Bad Precedent?

April 11, 2011

When a staff member needs a little extra cash immediately, does giving her a salary advance set a bad example for the rest of the office?

We’re a small office. There are only five of us, and except when the physicians are in exam rooms with patients, we are usually all within earshot of each other. We talked about our families, our significant others, our plans for the weekend, even our health and various bodily functions. And even when one of us is not actually part of a particular conversation, we are all aware of what is going on.

So it was today, when I picked up on the tail end of a conversation between two of my staff members. One had been saying something about not having enough money for this weekend trip she has been talking about for days. Since I missed the beginning of the conversation, I asked her what the problem was. She said she deposited her paycheck yesterday (which came two days later than it normally does) and it’s not going to clear until Monday. Benevolent boss that I am, I offered her a salary advance. She quickly declined and said she would be okay. I told her the offer stood, and she could let me know by the end of the day. When the end of the day came around, she came to me and said that if it was still okay, she would appreciate the loan, and promised to pay me back on Monday.

I feel good about helping her out. She’s been an outstanding employee and has a good work ethic. I also know that she doesn’t have to pay me back; I can take the money out of her next check, so I’m not worried about that. But, in retrospect, I hope I have created a good precedent. I’m the source of their income, not their ATM. I think had our checks not come late, I would not have offered. Maybe I would have, I don’t know. I think I know my staff well enough to believe that they will not take advantage of my lapse into generosity.

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