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Advice needed on job situation.(Long post, sorry!)

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Hi All,
I wonder if anyone can give me some good advice on what to do here as I'm in a bit of a quandry. I work as a self-employed cleaner for private houses. Some of my work is through an agency and some from my own advertising. I have one couple (from the agency) I work for who I have been with for nearly four years and they are lovely. I do get lots of perks from them such as really nice Christmas presents, occasional meals etc. I work for them for 12 hours a week. They are currently having a lot of work done on their house. In exchange for helping to take out their kitchen, they gave me the kitchen units to install in our flat and also the washing machine and tumble dryer which they had decided to replace. Since then however I have received several text messages asking me not to come to work as the house is in too much of a mess. I am losing a lot of money which I can't afford to do (see signature). This time off was not planned in any way, and what upsets/annoys me is that the texts are quite blunt and also that if I take a day off at all they get quite annoyed and say they need someone for that amount of time to keep up with all the work. I haven't had a pay rise in the four years I've been with them and do quite a lot of extras like running them to the train station (no reimbursement for diesel) and collecting/delivering dry-cleaning, recycling and shopping. I'm at a loss what to do. I went in on Friday and there was no animosity at all but no mention of them not wanting me today, then at 9.30pm Sunday I receive a text saying "Don't come tomorrow. Too much in progress!". I'm reluctant to involve the agency. I'm reluctant to send an email or telephone to say I'm annoyed as I feel this would damage relationship. Should I cut my losses and start looking for other work? Another factor is that they are in the process of adopting two children and I'm not sure if I will still be happy working there once they arrive. I don't know what to do for the best. Any ideas?

Comments

  • SunderlandBlackCat
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    It might be worth asking the agency if you can have a informal chat just to gauge their opinion.

    They've probably had similar situations before & might be able to make some suggestions such as maybe if the couple contact them instead of you to say youre not needed on a particular day the agency might be able to offer you a bit of work where someone else has gone on holiday but needs cover
  • tyllwyd
    tyllwyd Posts: 5,496 Forumite
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    I agree that you could start by talking to the agency. How are the agency involved - did they just get commission when you began working, or do they get a cut of the money you earn? If they get a percentage of your money, are they happy that it is going up and down at the moment? Is there any contract between the client and the agency - it might state that they have to give a certain amount of notice if they don't want you to come.

    To be honest, my gut feeling is that when these things start going wrong it is usually a downhill path and if it was me I'd be looking for a new client sooner rather than later. There may be something else behind this - perhaps the work is costing more than they planned, and they need to start saving money.

    If you have more work lined up, you could always try saying to the original clients that you'd like to cut your hours down rather than leave completely. You never know, they might go for that that and you could keep on good terms. And once you have some alternative work lined up, I think with no pay increase for 4 years you'd have a good case for asking for some more money.
  • GeorgeUK
    GeorgeUK Posts: 7,737 Forumite
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    I would get other work lined up - short term or long term. Once you have things organised, tell them your days and ask if they require you on the days you are available. If they query you about it, be up front with them - you were not getting enough work so had to make alternate arrangements until things were back in order. If you get more money then great. If you get a better long term job then there's no problem. It's business at the end of the day. If they want you to return when the house is organised then you may be able to do so if you are only getting short term work.
    After falling off the gambling wagon (twice): £33,600 (24,000+ 9,600) - Original CC Debt: £7,885.91

    Dad Gift 6k ¦ Savings & Inv Tst: £2,500
    Loan 10k: £0 ¦ Dad 5.5k: £2,270 ¦ LTSB: £0 ¦ RBS: £0 ¦ Virgin £0 ¦ Egg £0

    Total Owed: £2,270 (+6k) 11/08/2011
  • PJ1
    PJ1 Posts: 154 Forumite
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    tyllwyd wrote: »
    I agree that you could start by talking to the agency. How are the agency involved - did they just get commission when you began working, or do they get a cut of the money you earn? If they get a percentage of your money, are they happy that it is going up and down at the moment? Is there any contract between the client and the agency - it might state that they have to give a certain amount of notice if they don't want you to come.

    To be honest, my gut feeling is that when these things start going wrong it is usually a downhill path and if it was me I'd be looking for a new client sooner rather than later. There may be something else behind this - perhaps the work is costing more than they planned, and they need to start saving money.

    If you have more work lined up, you could always try saying to the original clients that you'd like to cut your hours down rather than leave completely. You never know, they might go for that that and you could keep on good terms. And once you have some alternative work lined up, I think with no pay increase for 4 years you'd have a good case for asking for some more money.
    The agency introduce the cleaner to the client then take an hourly rate from the client thereafter. They are supposed to supply sickness/holiday cover but rarely do. I don't get on with the woman who runs the agency very well and we have very little contact. The client pays my fee directly to me, then pays the agency fees every quarter. The agency however sets my rate to client when they first join so I am unable to put my prices up until the agency asks the client to do so. Strange set-up isn't it?
    I do get well-paid by these people but also get the same rate from my private clients and in one case get more from a private client than from these people. Other agency work I have is set at a lower rate anyway.
    I'm a bit reluctant to put the actual figures down here but for instance, I'm paid an hourly rate by my clients, one private client pays £2 per hour more than all the rest, and all other agency work barring the couple in question pay £1.50 per hour less. The only problem I have is that most of the agency work is for 5, 6 or 12 hours whereas most private is 1, 2 or 3 hours. If I left the agency completely I would have to find a total of 26 hours work to make up the shortfall. Thank you for all the replies so far. I need to keep thinking!!
  • SunderlandBlackCat
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    Might be worth asking the client that pays more if they know anyone who might be looking for a cleaner.

    Most people would rather go with someone recommended by people they know than an faceless agency & you'd most likely end up getting paid the same rate as the person who recommended you is getting.
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