Real life MMD: Should I cough up?

Former_MSE_Penelope Former MSE Posts: 536 Forumite
edited 12 April 2011 at 7:09PM in MoneySaving polls
Should I cough up?

A contractor I work with had a birthday last week. A junior colleague had a small celebration, bought a cake and a gift. I wasn't in the office on the day this took place. I'm now being asked for a £5 contribution.
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  • ironlady2022
    ironlady2022 Forumite Posts: 1,544
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
    edited 12 April 2011 at 8:15PM
    Did he ask for your permission beforehand? If not then there are 2 things you can do
    a) Do not contribute based on moral grounds.
    b) You can pay to keep the peace in the office! As you are Senior and may be deemed as 'tight'

    When you say junior colleague, junior as in to you or is he new (ish)?
  • boots_babe
    boots_babe Forumite Posts: 3,208
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts
    If you weren't there I don't see how your contribution could be either expected or assumed :eek:
  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Forumite Posts: 2,175
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    Hell no. I'd have told him that I would have done if I'd been asked beforehand.
  • tryfive
    tryfive Forumite Posts: 82 Forumite
    edited 12 April 2011 at 11:08PM
    A whip-round for a leaving present when a permanent member of staff is leaving (i.e. NOT a contractor, who would typically be expected to be leaving after their contract ran out anyway) isn't uncommon, but for a birthday?!!

    I'd quietly take the junior staff member to one side, and point this out to him/her - though I'd certainly try to be tactful about it.

    As for asking for a contribution post-event from someone who didn't know about it, wasn't there, was only a contractor, and for just a birthday, etc: NO, you should NOT stump up the fiver asked for - and I don't think there's any doubt that it's just plain not appropriate for them to have asked. Again, it would be better if this was put tactfully - it's a junior member of staff, so it sounds like they're probably not be up to speed with "company culture", and there's no reason to put their nose out of joint!

    What they did may have been nice, but was certainly in no way expected (buying a cake?!!), and is really the sort of thing that someone more senior would have organised if it was. Presumably this is a very small company - a medium to large enterprise, and they'd be eating birthday cake practically every working day of the week!

    From my experience, these things are normally handled the other way around (if at all), with the birthday boy bringing in a bunch of small cakes, doughnuts, or similar for the office to enjoy - or buying a round of drinks down the pub at lunchtime!
  • sashadesade
    sashadesade Forumite Posts: 319 Forumite
    I haven't heard of birthday whiprounds in offices before, so don't know if this would be normal for the OP's workplace. But either way, getting a present for a contractor is surely a bit strange. I would probably explain to the junior member of staff how these things normally work so it didn't become a regular thing. If you had to contribute for everybody's birthday it could end up being quite expensive, after all.
  • Aldahbra
    Aldahbra Forumite Posts: 317
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    edited 13 April 2011 at 12:10AM
    Yes I think you should cough up. A junior colleague paid money up front. It was nieve of them, they should at very lease had a whip round first to see how much money would be available and as a senior member of staff it is your duty really to tactfuly point this out.

    If you are senior and you don't pay out for this I think it will reflect very badly on you.

    One thing that worries me though, how many staff are paying £5 for a bit of cake and a small gift? What was the small gift - diamond earings?

    I think the fact that the contractor is not staff, in a modern working environment, is probably not to relevent (other than the fact that they probably earn a lot more than you). Unless they were only on site for a very short period.

    Actually, on reflection you might want to nip this in the bud, paying out £5 every time anyone has a birthday will get a bit much. Maybe 18, 21, 30, 40, 50 and 65 birthdays only.
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  • *Louise*
    *Louise* Forumite Posts: 9,197 Forumite
    I would pay it this time, since dippy junior colleague is out of pocket, but would make sure company policy is known from now on to juniors. ie. whether gifts are bought for permanent staff only / special birthdays / money is collected up front etc.

    I also would wonder at the cost of the gift - I could understand if there were only around 4 staff members but £5 a head for more people than that is working out an expensive gift!
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  • ailuro2
    ailuro2 Forumite Posts: 7,535
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    If it's normal to celebrate people's birthdays then yes, I'd pay up but suggest next time it would be fairer to only include people who will get a share of the cake on the day.

    If it's not usual then I'd make it clear that it wasn't normal practice to celebrate birthdays and definitely not normal practice to assume someone wants to contribute, but I'd also thank them for being nice and give them the fiver.

    Going to work can get costly when there's a bunch of retirements going on- somehow over the years the price jumped from ONE pound to £5, then up to £10! Wouldn't like to calculate the inflation rate on that. The people who retire are taking a large lump sum with them, so my tenner doesn't really make much of a dent in that, all it means is there's a nicer picture/golf club to present to them when they go.

    The only time I don't mind putting my hand in my pocket for a work colleague is when someone is off long term sick with something serious. I know that might sound mean, but some people start collections for soon to be ex colleagues who are leaving work to go to another job! I just DON'T get that one at all!:o
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  • scotsbob
    scotsbob Forumite Posts: 4,632 Forumite
    You don't want to pay for a gift because you weren't physically present. If you apply that standard to family and friends then I guess it is OK.
    If you don't, then why be mean spirited?
  • gaily
    gaily Forumite Posts: 190
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    We have office collections, there's about 15 of us, and each stick £3 in a pot (or £5 for a special birthday 40, 50, wedding, baby etc - we're finished with the 30's now!!). The lucky birthdayee then gets an envelope of cash, and an order list of cakes that everyone wants - usually from the Sayer's down the road (other shops are available). They usually have enough for a small round at the local with the other half later. Sorted.

    We have one person who does the collection, usually on pay day each month, and yes, it can get expensive - in additon to the lotto syndicate etc.

    HOWEVER - I work in an office where we have all worked together for the past 5 years or so, we all know the score, and all go by the same 'rules'. Newcomers are not expected to join in, until they want to. Graduates, summer people etc who have a celebration during their time with us usually get a 'token' gesture - ie chocs/wine etc, but are encouraged not to get cakes for us lot.

    As for a collection after the even, dodgy ground there. I'd like to hope that they saved you a bit of cake to go with the request. If someone's put thier hand inn their pocket for you, you can't not really, but as a lot of people are saying - how big is the gift??
    Always on the hunt for a bargain. :rolleyes:

    Always grateful for any hints, tips or guidance as to where the best deals are:smileyhea
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