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CEO complaints : employee not motivated after being fired (linkedin.com)
238 points by waps on Apr 24, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 324 comments

I just got a voicemail from my boss. Well, soon to be former boss. Not because I couldn't hack it at the job, but the business I was involved with had eroded over the years to the point where there was simply nothing left for me to do. I had finally given up. It wasn't really up to me. I talked with her about it a few times, but she wasn't interested in pursuing the sort of clients I used to work so hard to satisfy. So now my full-time job is finding a new job. I was in an interview when she called. I think this other firm is pretty lame but if I don't find something better soon I'll have to take it, so I'm hustling. Tonight I'm going to polish my CV and email some old contacts. I can call the old boss back tomorrow morning. What is she going to do, fire me again?

Please do a writeup for the following article:


And I quote:

"A while later (hopefully a few years), you tell me it is time to talk. You are not happy anymore and feel it is time to change things. Of course I’ll try to convince you. See if we can change something in your job description to make you happier, see if I can get you motivated in different ways. But if we can’t work things out together, if it is simply time to end the relationship, let’s talk about it like adults. Don’t come into the office one day telling me out of the blue that you haven’t been happy for a while, found someone else and will leave me as soon as possible. And now that you brought it up, why should I pay your full wage if you are only working at half force since you aren’t motivated anymore?"

Consistency doesn't appear to be Inge's strong suit.

> And now that you brought it up, why should I pay your full wage if you are only working at half force since you aren’t motivated anymore?

I think this is the reason why "openness" is tough to achieve. Most of the time, the stakes are much higher for the employee than the company-- the business can probably continue operating after separation, but the employee might not be able to pay rent without a paycheck. All information is power in the relationship, so I don't think an employee should ever feel obligated to share more than what is necessary. I wouldn't expect to be informed that my department's budget for salaries is $X or that I'm going to be let go, effective three months from now.

> Don’t come into the office one day telling me out of the blue that you haven’t been happy for a while, found someone else and will leave me as soon as possible.

Some people just prefer voting with their feet.

"Don’t come into the office one day telling me out of the blue that you haven’t been happy for a while"

The fact that she finds such "out of the blue" IS the problem.

As for "why should I pay your full wage if you are only working at half force since you aren’t motivated anymore?": you pay full wage because he's doing full required work, demonstrated by the fact that she didn't notice anything was wrong and was content to pay him for it. Maybe he's unhappy because he wants to do more but she's not making it worth his time/effort to.

And obviously the disclosure is "out of the blue" precisely because her first reaction is to cut his pay.

Nice writing. Somewhat amazed the other comment-folk didn't get what you did here.

Most likely because they didn't read the original text that the article references. Fairly typical for internet comments these days.

I consider it unsafe to click linkedin links anymore. I clicked through to the comments here because that's the closest I'm willing to get to content posted there.

What makes LinkedIn links unsafe?

I have read that LinkedIn will actively solicit your information to people that are near you once they find out where you are, and they will actively take steps to continue knowing who you are, even when you actively took steps to prevent them from finding out (like not logging in, and not accepting their cookies.)

Also they have been accused of dark patterns before, like that would result in people getting e-mail that purports to be from you, when you think you already unchecked the box and asked not to share your contact list.

The original didn't come up no the click-through, but I get it completely.

Be careful she might write a post on LinkedIn complaining how not motivated you are

Question: if you didn't get paid for the time between the agreement to leave and the moment you leave, you wouldn't complain because "now my full-time job is finding a new job"?

So you letting him pay you for hunting jobs? Nice...

Re-read (or perhaps, judging by your comment, actually read) the linked article. Then reread the comment. Hopefully it will click at that point.

Most of the reactions both here and on LinkedIn seem to miss a crucial fact: this story happened in Belgium.

In Belgium, employees must be notified in advance before they are let go: you send them a letter stating "your contract will end in 12 weeks", they keep working for you for 12 weeks, and then they leave.

Employees are usually expected to pass on their knowledge to other team members and wrap up their current projects before they leave. And they are getting paid for it.

This is not the story of a CEO who fired out an employee on the spot, then tried to get back in touch later because they found out they still needed him.

This is the story of a CEO who told an employee that they would be let go three months from now, then asked them to help after hours---something that they had done previously---only to find that they were not motivated enough to do it anymore.

And this is what makes the story interesting: it's not a ridiculous caricature that you can point and laugh at ; it has all the real-life ingredients that you can easily find in the average company.

- Employers and employees who assume that "professionalism" means volunteering to work beyond the scope of a work contract.

- Employers who forget that loyalty is an essential factor in the motivation of many employees.

- A CEO who made the tradeoff of not having a dedicated 24/7 support team, and whines when the inevitable outage happens and there is no one to handle it.

I believe the original author herself said it best: "So your best bet is to hire people who share your passion, willing to 'volunteer' on such occasions."

No one is passionate about staying long hours to fix a production server. But they might be passionate about building a product that can make them proud. Their product. And once they feel it's not their product anymore, the passion is gone, and they'll be home by 7pm with their cell phone turned off.

I think most people from countries other than USA realized it was a 3-months notice.

I believe the story remains a caricature, for the following reasons:

1/ she terminated him because she determined there was no more need for his skills. Expecting overtime after that is admission that she was at best too early, and probably just wrong. Planning is one of the key competences expected from a CEO.

2/ she's surprised that he won't work more than he's paid for. That's a caricatural misunderstanding of how people relate to their job; from a farmer or a plumber it might pass, but coming from a CEO of HR-oriented companies, that's nothing short of crass incompetence.

3/ basic fairness: during employment, she kept paying him money because it was the only way to get some work done; she should expect the flip side: that he only works when it's the only way to keep making money. And he's not even slacking at work, is just doing no more than what he's paid for. This gives the whole story an "entitled brat" vibe IMO.

> "So your best bet is to hire people who share your passion, willing to 'volunteer' on such occasions."

That line kills me. Seriously, who's passionate about yet another online CV sharing app? Which probably has to be unbearably pushy with its users, since LinkedIn has long eaten everyone's lunch on this market? She's no Elon Musk, and the only things that could foster passion for her business are stock options.

That argument is always used by people in boring businesses, rarely by those who'd be legitimately entitled to use it--I guess those don't need to.

I got the sense that the employee was being paid for the 3 months, and spending time mostly to look for a new job -- not to do actual work for the company.

As a result, the CEO probably thought it was reasonable to ask him to help out with an emergency. Although it was after hours, it was hardly "overtime" in the sense of being hour 41+ of work he did for the company. Probably more like hour 2+, in her mind.

I'm not saying her expectation was realistic, I just don't think it was a "caricature". I suppose I think you're not understanding her point of view, much as she didn't understand the employee's point of view.

> I suppose I think you're not understanding her point of view, much as she didn't understand the employee's point of view.

I think I understand what a workaholic's feelings might be in such a situation, although displays of empathy with her seemed out of my comment's topic.

But there's an asymmetry here: it's not my job to understand how workaholics react, whereas it's doubly hers to understand how employees react, as a boss and as an HR professional.

Thanks for clearing this up. It's funny how in the US, people rarely ever (only in high up enough roles) get any kind of a notification. Getting a 3 month notice is pretty awesome, at least you're not left out on the curb because of some layoff.

Outside of that, you hit the point right on and I think a lot of comments echo your sentiments:

- Any kind of "volunteering" for free, outside of working hours is preposterous as it is. Expecting an employee to continue doing so after given a notice is even worse. You're basically expecting favors after you told the employee they won't be able to cash out on those favors.

- And so, when the CEO has a 24/7 support of volunteers and used to it, and then cuts the volunteers, there won't be anyone there to handle it. I understand that Belgium sucks in terms of overtime (high taxes, finicky contracts) but if it's mission critical, you may want to have at least one person on your payroll that can do this. It's a necessary cost.

This is not specific to Belgium. Most countries beside USA have a notice period of 2 to 3 months.

In fact, it is actually much worse for an employee to have such long notice periods. The most obvious one is already mentioned - boredom and low morale. But it has an interesting side-effect: Most companies have immediate requirements and cannot wait for months before it is filled. So they hire from a pool that is limited to people who have already been laid off. And obviously the employees are in poor position to negotiate any salary increase.

"Most countries beside USA have a notice period of 2 to 3 months."

Really? In most countries? I'm not so sure, even if we exclude "most countries" to mean "most First World Countries".

Do you have a source?

Change "most First World countries" to "most Western countries"; Japan, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan are first world countries (at least in the sense 'first world' means economically developed).

And what happens in those countries in terms of notice period? I'm actually wondering specifically about those countries too. Otherwise, all we have left is the US + Europe, more or less, I believe.

In Singapore it's 1 day to 4 weeks, depending on how long they were employed[1]. Taiwan is 10 to 30 days, depending on length of employment[2]. Korea is 30 days[3]. Japan is also 30 days[4].

I'm Australian, and it's also one to four weeks notice here, depending on how long the employee's been employed at the company[5].

1. http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/employment-rights...

2. http://www.chinalawandpractice.com/Article/3142351/Issue/850...

3. http://us.practicallaw.com/6-508-2342?q=&qp=&qo=&qe=#a612243

4. http://www.jetro.go.jp/en/invest/setting_up/laws/section4/pa...

5. http://www.mondaq.com/australia/x/183150/Contract+of+Employm...

I have worked in several countries. It was based on my experience. Also, I have seen that notice period has gradually gone up in service based companies.

I know that HN core audience hasn't really seen that side of outsourcing, so the experiences might be different.

> In fact, it is actually much worse for an employee to have such long notice periods. The most obvious one is already mentioned - boredom and low morale.

Unless the law prohibits terminal paid leave, this is easily avoided.

> Most companies have immediate requirements and cannot wait for months before it is filled.

So? Hire someone immediately. Having notice requirements for termination doesn't prohibit you from doing that. Internal policies regarding positions might, but that's a problem of internal policies, not externally-imposed terminal notice requirements.

That is what I am saying. If you want someone to work from tomorrow, then you look for people whose notice period is ending tomorrow or has already ended. You can no longer poach employees.

Did you want to say something else? Could you please explain further?

> In fact, it is actually much worse for an employee to have such long notice periods.

You'd really prefer "Clean out your things and exit the premises by 11AM" over 2 to 3 months notice?

2-3 months of the employee having been completely demotivated, festering resentment, and likely not doing anywhere close to expected productivity (much less overtime as the author was surprised about not getting).

"Out by 11AM" sucks, but it's _done_, minimizes suffering, and you can move on with life. Trust me.

The social (not legal) convention in the USA is 2 weeks (with 2 weeks pay in lieu of work if the "out by 11AM" happens). That's about enough to, if on good terms, wrap things up for all parties involved and transition accordingly.

Giving someone 2-3 months notice, and expecting performance as though it's going to proceed and end as if it were "out by 11AM" (to wit: work full enthusiastic hours for weeks on end with no distractions, then pack up and leave one morning) is absurdly unrealistic.

What about the suffering of the employee? They have bills to pay, rent or mortgage to pay, and food to buy. 2 weeks paid notice when you're fired means you have to scramble to get a job. The company have months of time to play for when to fire you, but you only get 2 weeks before you stop getting money? No way.

Of course not. I would prefer it to be around 2 weeks to 1 month.

But really, it depends on the job market. As an employee, let us say, a specialized laborer, I would prefer the notice period to be as long as possible because there aren't going to be any other jobs for me out there.

Yes. Pulling off a Band-Aid is never fun, but if it has to be done, the total unpleasantness is minimized by getting it over with quickly.

> Most countries beside USA have a notice period of 2 to 3 months.

That much? In Netherland it's just one month.

Those three months are an upper bound, not a requirement. If you are fired, then it can usually be assumed the employer would rather see you go sooner than later. You can usually negotiate a shorter term.

You got the last part right. It's pretty unreasonable to expect anyone to have passion for a project that is no longer their's.

Hard to get people to go above and beyond the call of duty after you tell them they aren't needed.

In most develeped countries (except the USA), you can't just fire someone on the spot (unless they are stealing from you / beating up co-workers etc.). So the employee always has a notice period to work.

It seems like someone believed her own bs. Article uses a lot of words to make situation sound as something entirely different then what it was.

"I know I fired this person, but I considered that merely a technical matter. I thought we agreed it was the best option for all involved, allowing him to grow professionally elsewhere."

Agreed as in employee did not put fight when he was informed of the decision? Good for both of them, but it is still firing. Feel good talk about "professional grow elsewhere" is just that. Might be even insulting to employee. Did she really expected the employee to buy it?

"It never crossed my mind that he had been FIRED. We just reached the end of our partnership, for now. Time to move on for both of us."

I mean, yes, they reached end of partnership by firing employee. He was not needed anymore. Nothing wrong with that, companies can not afford to pay people without giving them work. It is still firing.

"I have always valued being open, honest and correct. Even if I wanted to, there's not much you can hide in a small business. So I embrace transparency to the full extent."

No she does not. She tries to put spin around things to paint them rosier then they are. Then she acts all shocked when it turns out that employees are able read through euphemisms.

EDIT: changed he to she since CEO in question is a women.

but I considered that merely a technical matter

She failed to consider that he considered that seriously a survival matter. Mortgage/rent has to be paid. Food has to be put on the table. High-quality healthcare is expensive. Dependents can't be put on 'pause'. He's working for her because he needs to, and she proved herself an unreliable source of vital means of survival. No word about a generous severance package, no word of a retainer, no word of can't-resist consulting fees.

Sure, nothing wrong with parting ways when need ends. But just because she didn't need work from him doesn't mean he didn't need salary from her. Yeah, maybe he'd banked enough to get by, maybe he'd been smart and planned ahead, maybe he didn't really worry about short-term survival ... or maybe he had no idea where money for the next mortgage/rent bill would come from and the pantry was sparse. She didn't consider why he worked for her; rare is the employee who doesn't need to work.

> High-quality healthcare

That's mostly just the US, this is in Belgium. But yes, your point still stands.

> I considered that merely a technical matter

Well, when people are mere "resources", then firing someone is a simple "technical matter". Akin to shutting down servers. Right?


There are alien, monstrous beings amongst us, and they look just like us.

I look forward to the day when any candidate for a managerial job is tested for sociopathic tendencies. And then, to be clear, they aren't given the job.

That's a great idea. We should screen developers for Asperger's too, and make sure we don't hire any of those folks. Oh, and ADHD too. And you know what, people with bipolar disorder are a right pain in the ass to deal with, so we'll pass on them. Depressed people sometimes kill themselves, so hey, no hire, sorry.

There's an important difference. If you give somebody power over people and they are unable to empathize, then they can't be trusted to act responsibly. Many sociopaths seek power precisely because they like exploiting people. If you're interested further in the topic, try reading Snakes in Suits or The Psychopath Test.

Similarly, we shouldn't give people with peophillic issues power over small children.

Broken people deserve our support, and we should work to heal them. But in doing so, we can't let them break other people.

"If you give somebody power over people and they are unable to empathize, then they can't be trusted to act responsibly."

Sorry - are we talking about sociopathy or Aspergers here?

It feels like your exception is really a way of saying "well, no, don't discriminate against any of those people, only these people who I think really deserve it."

Another good book is "Office Politics" by Oliver James.

There are alien, monstrous beings amongst us, and they look just like us.

I feel the same way anytime I hear C-level types give buzzword speeches with a blank stare.

Sadly, such wordsmiths are far from rare in the world of business. Very often they will go through linguistic gymnastics to make every action of theirs sound good, and justify things they shouldn't have done as okay. In my personal experience, salespeople are the worst about this, as their entire job is really to bullshit people into buying a product.

I see it as a kind of sociopathy, an inability to empathize with others and a tendency to see them not as human but as resources for you to use. I have a high sensitivity to it and no tolerance for it. And I agree that sales people are the #1 bullshitters.

Her. The article was written by a lady.

No. The article was written by a woman.

You beat me to it, by a minute >_<

It's quite nitpicky, but she.

This is why I stopped writing my fictional start-up CEO Brad Bradstone (http://blog.jgc.org/2013/01/archived-posts-from-double-steal...). There was no need to write parody, when the parodies existed in the real world.

Apparently that happened with Dilbert. The author made stuff up and people kept writing to him saying "That story-line is just like $COMPANY, that's where you got the idea, right?"

Sounds like what happened with _This is Spinaltap_. Really good satire cuts pretty close to reality.

Armando Ianucci has said that one of the reasons he stopped writing the political satire "The Thick of It" was politicians were now doing things that they'd written off as too implausible for the show.

Also I suspect Veep pays a lot better for basically the same idea.

I really enjoyed those! Seems like you've real talent:

"After my speech tonight one little boy came up to me and said simply, "I'm hungry".

I wanted to take him in my arms and tell him: "I feel it too, champ. I feel it too. I feel the hunger to succeed, to create a product that Johnny Ive would truly appreciate, I know precisely what you're going through."

You missed the final bitter line!

"But C says that at iTouch we have a no touch policy in case we get sued. Pity, that kid looked like he could really use a hug."

> However, Belgian law makes it very difficult to put such a flexible schedule in a contract.

Oh really? I'm not an expert on Belgian law here, but are they really claiming they offered to pay people extra and/or give time off in lieu for optional overtime, but they didn't agree to it? Or is it just mandatory free overtime that is banned?

Belgian law probably makes it hard to require employees to work more than reasonable hours for no extra reward or choice. Which is a good thing. If you want 24x7 support, you need to pay for 24x7 employees. This person is wishing they had the right to specify in a contract that your working hours are "whenever I call."

Since they don't get that, I'm not surprised they didn't realise firing someone^W^W, sorry, "agree[ing] to terminate your collaboration" might make them stop responding beyond the call of duty.

Also, I was reading something the other day that pointed out that, whilst seeing things in black and white reduces you to only two perspectives (moral and immoral), the attitude that everything is a shade of grey (and the implied attitude that this makes moral comparisons impossible) reduces you to a single perspective (amoral). If you think two perspectives is too few, how is going down to one perspective supposed to help?

Exactly, it's perfectly possible in any country, it's just that in most EU countries you have to pay for it.

"hire people who share your passion, willing to 'volunteer'"

In other words: this douche wants people to work for free.

An unfortunate view most companies in Eastern European countries share.

It is not uncommon to get fired for not voluntarily giving up your time or even weekend sometime although they won't tell you why you get fired it's pretty obvious.

Happend to me a few times when i was young.

The exact reason I ran away from games based companies in UK.

I had heard rumours that they were bad to work for (yet they still get lots of smart nerdy kids applying). You heard the same, or actually worked for them?

I had internship in a gaming company as a Software Engineer (internal systems, not games directly). Eventhough I did not do games, I was literally working in the same environment.

In addition I have a small business in games industry, and am having plenty of stories of game developers.

If you ask me, why such an abuse of staff? I believe it is the games - great opportunity of having endless pool of motivated and experienced youngsters. Just like a fashion journal for women.

You have no idea how Belgium is.

Inflexible , huge employer costs (highest costs in the world for employment),...

Because of the taxes, employers don't want you to work extra hours and as an employee, you don't have much benefit of it (governement taxes that A LOT if you do overtime).

Some things that are forbidden (or pay extra taxes)

- Only normal hours (5 days a week, ...)

- Don't employ people outside of their working schedule

- forbidden to work on Sundays

- forbidden to work on Holidays

- Don't work at night

But there are exceptions (but it's complicated)

But those things should be forbidden and in the hands of the employee.

That said, I have signed the "I will work more than 48 hours if required" waiver at my current employer; mostly because I know it will hardly happen and if it does it will be extra-ordinary and I will be willing to pull with the team.

There's nothing wrong with a world where :

"We need you to work this weekend"

"No thanks, see you Monday"

Is perfectly reasonable.

I'm an employee, it should also be my right to work more without the governement always taxing me extra.

I want to work more, but i see no financial benefit from it for working a day in a weekend (eg. when i have a deadline), nor does my employer.

PS. Overhours in Belgum don't get payed a lot or aren't encouraged because of the extra cost. Employees don't mind because their happy to have jobs here... But i shouldn't say that out loud, because it's illegal. But a lot of people work an hour / day for free (from my personal experience here in Belgium)

>it should also be my right to work more without the governement always taxing me extra //

I don't agree. Partly the government has to be concerned with the entire workforce. Some people doing more work means that other people may not be employed, or may be under-employed. Preventing overtime, or at least providing financial pressure against it, means that those who don't want to work all hours can avoid it more easily and also helps to make sure companies employ enough workers rather than simply squeezing dry fewer than they really need.

Lower taxes and companies would hire employees easier. Now we have a very dificult system. Everyone is on probation for 6 months and the governement pays this (interns and a system called IBO).

Having 1 full-time employee or doing it all by yourselve is mostly the difference between loss and profit in Belgium (for an SMB).

Also, the taxes are so high, every company with > 1000 workmen is subsidized by the governement (most recent example: 7,5 Million € goo.gl/HluVNB for keeping a company here).

There is not a single car manufactorer, that makes profits here in Belgium without subsidisement. (a lot of them moved away from Belgium the last years)

> There is not a single car manufactorer, that makes profits here in Belgium without subsidisement. (a lot of them moved away from Belgium the last years)

It's the same in Germany though: http://europe.autonews.com/article/20130226/ANE/302269903/vo...

It's not the same, in Belgium they got subsidised and they still leave (Ford Genk, ...) :)

That's not the same, they stay in Germany...

PS. That also costed € 144,000 per employee for firing them :)

I'm an employee, it should also be my right to work more without the governement always taxing me extra. I want to work more, but i see no financial benefit from it for working a day in a weekend (eg. when i have a deadline), nor does my employer.

I'm not sure I understand here. Surely if you're making more money, then you should expect to pay a portion of that in tax? And you'll see a financial benefit as a result?

Let's say that a normal hour is taxed 50 %, extra hours are taxed under a different tax tabel, so more % goes to the governement. Also, if you work something more, there is a chance, you get in a higher tax zone.

So even if you work more and get more the current month. You are going to get taxed more on the end of the year.

As a result, you have earned less on the end of the year (because you get in the higher income zone, so you are taxed more).

Edit: below.

I didn't fully explained it, but it's complicated then that. If you get in a different tax bracket (didn't knew the term in English), you lose certain financial benefits.

I'd wish some Belgian accountant was here to explain it better, although i'm aware of tax brackets. They don't include some financial benefits when you have a lower income.

I'm not aware of any common tax regime that results in a marginal tax rate of over 100%, which is what you're describing there.

Even if your additional income pushes you into another tax bracket, you will only be paying additional tax on the amount made over the lower threshold. In the UK, for example, the top rate of income tax is 45%, and this is charged only on earning over ~£150,000 annually. If you earned £150,100, you would be £55 cash-in-hand better off than if you'd earned £150,000.

Unfortunately a lot of people don't understand the basic math you described. I know several people who think they lose money after getting bonuses and such.

It's not a matter of losing money; it's a matter of losing certain tax benefits that exceed the value of the bonus. It's a very real issue for people who straddle various thresholds for credits, deductions, and other benefits.

For example, in the US once you make over $75,000 (before most deductions), you no longer qualify for student loan interest payment deductions. For someone making $74,000 before who receives a $2000 bonus, they lose out on the deduction--potentially worth significantly more in tax-adjusted terms than the gross amount of the bonus before taxes.

> For example, in the US once you make over $75,000 (before most deductions), you no longer qualify for student loan interest payment deductions. For someone making $74,000 before who receives a $2000 bonus, they lose out on the deduction--potentially worth significantly more in tax-adjusted terms than the gross amount of the bonus before taxes.

The student loan interest deduction (and this is true of most -- AFAIK, actually all -- deductions with an income cap) doesn't have a sharp cutoff, it has a phaseout -- you get the full deduction up to $60,000, and it is reduced continuously with income down to zero at $75,000.

At $74,000, the maximum student loan interest deduction is a $167 deduction (which, at that income, is worth $42 in reduced tax liability.) Even with a $1,000 bonus that takes you just to the cutoff, its not possible for the loss of the deduction to be "worth significantly more in tax-adjusted terms than the gross amount of the bonus before taxes". [1]

[1] http://www.irs.gov/publications/p970/ch04.html#en_US_2013_pu...

Thank you for debunking the previous comment. Just goes to show how many people don't understand the way deductions and taxes work.

It's unfortunate that the system for paying taxes has become so complicated. It's no wonder that people complain about rich people exploiting tax-law. Whereas they simply have the inclination/money to hire accountants that do the books properly, and give them the advice they need to keep their affairs in perfect-tax working order.

This is not how Belgian income tax works. Your pay gets divided up into tax brackets, and you pay a certain tax rate per tax bracket. You will pay a low rate for the first ~8.5k you earn, a higher rate for the next ~5k, higher still for the next ~10k and so on.

The result is that while you can be taxed more on additional income if it bumps your total income up to a certain tax bracket, you will only ever pay more money on the part that's actually above the lower limit for that bracket. This will never ever cause you to pay more taxes on the money you've already earned.

I don't think you understand how tax brackets/tax zones work.

For example, say there is no tax up to $50000, and a 50% bracket starts at $50000. If you make $50001, you only pay a 50% tax on that one dollar over 50k, the first 50k remains untaxed. This is how pretty much any tax regime in the world works.

So while you may have to pay a higher tax rate on extra overtime money earned, it would be just on that money, not on your base pay. It's impossible for you to make less money at the end of the year because you worked overtime.

I get it. You're explaining the point of a "flat tax": increased tax rates just because you're more productive (and fairly compensated for it) isn't fair. Likewise, getting unusual lump payments (overtime, bonuses) often have tax deducted at the highest rate to ensure you pay at least enough, getting the over-deducted fraction back later only when you've proven that you're not in the higher tax bracket after all (you may be in a 30% bracket, but get a bonus deducted as if you're in the 50%, getting back the over-paid 20% only after the end of the tax year, which could be upwards of a year).

Working harder, under most "progressive" tax systems, provides diminishing returns because of higher tax rates - right at the point when the personal cost of extra work grow exponentially.

This is also a problem in the US if you manage to just cross a tax bracket.

> This is also a problem in the US if you manage to just cross a tax bracket.

Well, it would be, if the US adopted a tax bracket with a > 100% marginal rate. But it hasn't, so it doesn't. Though its a persistent myth, because people don't understand marginal tax rates and confuse them with total tax rates. (Or, for a similar problem, as illustrated in another subthread, don't understand the related concept of how deductions phase out before you reach the point where they are no longer available.)

No it isnt. See other comments in this thread.

"I'm an employee, it should also be my right to work more without the governement always taxing me extra." Working extra means you earn more. You live in a society that taxes a percentage of your earnings. What part of those two concepts don't you understand?

Stop trying to get an ought from an is.

I'm not using the deriving ought from is logical fallacy. I'm simply pointing out the facts, and the logical conclusions from that. But if you want to be all formal with your argumentation, here it is for you in all its simplistic and formal glory:

P1. Taxes are based on percentage of earnings.

P2. More work implies higher pay

P3. You work more

Conclusion1: Your pay is higher

Conclusion2: You will pay higher taxes.

The comment you replied to said that it "should" be possible to work more without being taxed more, not that it "is". So what's your point?

I think you're just trying to be argumentative/pedantic for no reason that I can think of or immediately see. Besides, you took one interpretation of "should", and I took another; nothing wrong with both. So you can either choose to be pedantic and continue nitpicking, or you can admit you were wrong in accusing me of a logical fallacy, or bask in the glory that you just watched me make an actual fallacy (before my edit).

I mostly agree - it depresses me that people have managed to be so brainwashed that if you dare to suggest that you only want to do the job that you're being paid for, you are seen as a radical troublemaker (of course, employers insisting that you do at least what you are paid for are seen as entirely reasonable).

The one bit I would partly question would be the response to "We need you to work this weekend". Every relationship needs a bit of give and take, and every now and then an emergency, or an unexpected big piece of work might mean that the company really needs you in the office, and (assuming that it's not a huge inconvenience for you) it would be reasonable to expect you to try to help out - in the same way that a "Boss, I need to shoot off early today to pick my kid up because he's had an accident" shouldn't be met with a "'fraid not, you're staying until you've done your hours" response.

The important thing, in both cases, is that it's an exception. An employer demanding that you come in every weekend for the next 3 months would be as unreasonable as an employee doing short hours every day because they continually need to run some errand or other.

Of course employers would suggest that if you were hired on salary, they're paying you to work any time they need you to work. I've gotten that line before: "your job is to be on call 24x7". Every employment contract, at least in the US, will say "other duties as assigned".

> There's nothing wrong with a world where :

> "We need you to work this weekend"

> "No thanks, see you Monday"

> Is perfectly reasonable.

This is likely to lead to another conversation later in the year:

"Why did John get the promotion I was up for?"

"He provided more value to the company by working those two weekends when we were delivering to our most valuable customer."

Do you consider that reasonable as well?

> Do you consider that reasonable as well?

Yes, assuming the employer considering actual output when they talk about "value" and not "seat time". Otherwise the next conversation is:

"Good for him, I'm starting at B co. in two weeks."

Also one of the most reliable ways to get better positions & pay appears to change jobs, suggesting your scenario is just a carrot on a stick that rarely happens in practice.

I have never seen a single one of my co-workers promoted into a better position, ever, after more than 12 years in the industry.

No one. Ever. And that group numbers in the hundreds. The hypothetical scenario is completely bogus.

That sounds pretty awful!

I've never worked anywhere that promotions were just not given. And I'm including retail/fast food jobs from high school!

I would have expected that career paths in software development would emerge as the industry matures. Instead I have seen promotion paths vanishing, even in older lines of work.

The companies where you can work your way up from entry level to executive are disappearing. The only one I am actually aware of that still promotes from within, even up to the top levels, is Publix.

Belgium and most other EU countries have pretty strict labor code. This prevents both the overeager Johns and their employers from setting up the race to the bottom where everybody has to work on weekends just not to fall behind.

So this conversation of yours would probably end in an investigation from the labor office to check whether John didn't cross the limits and was compensated fairly for the overtime.

If all that discriminates you from another employee is the weekend's work then you don't deserve promotion anyway.

"We need you to work this weekend"


"We want you to work this weekend"

But if they said "need" they might actually need you, so you could bargain back with I will need 3 extra holiday days.

Personally if i knew it was "need" then I would be saying "Ok".

I have also heard the sentence "I need a new dress"

Plenty wrong.

I've been in a country where:

"You need me to work this weekend, and I'm happy to do so with no financial gain. I won't be on this continent for long, so I want to work what time I can to do the best job I can because I take pride in my work."

"Don't you dare work this weekend. If you do, as your manager I risk criminal prosecution and jail time."

That is absolutely unreasonable.

There's a huge gap between things that are forbidden and things that are simply discouraged through extra taxation. The result is that employers have to think long and hard before they have people come in on weekends or do tons of overwork, thereby protecting employees while being flexible enough to allow for weird work schedules when they're absolutely needed. How is that not a good compromise?

- non-disgruntled Belgian

> (governement taxes that A LOT if you do overtime).

Let's say the tax rate on overtime is 60%. And that you would be motivated/consider the overtime pay fair if you got € X an hour.

Well then the employer needs to offer € X * 1/(1-0.6) gross pay to get the employee the right amount of net pay. It's not difficult, merely expensive, but since overtime like this is rare, I doubt it's impossible.

>(highest costs in the world for employment)

I was curious about that, but apparently it's not, both Norway and Switzerland are more expensive than Belgium (at least in manufacturing):


They're apparently the highest taxed OECD country when you add together income tax, VAT and both employee and employee social security contributions. Perhaps that's what he was thinking of.


But not only that, countries like Norway give you more "bang for the buck", meaning free education, ...

Not only that, but Norway and Switzerland have one of the highest per capita income in the world, Switzerland even has a minimal income of 2800$ / month!

Per comparison, Belgium is on #17, Norway on #2 and Switzerland on #4.

Living in Belgium, i only notice an enormous inefficiency and a complex accounting system, both are hurting SMB's.

Switzerland is as "low income tax/we want you to work" as it gets in Europe. The closest to a red EU country as it gets (but still much more responsible than any us state).

It's amazing what the government can do when they have all those corrupt bank accounts.

Switzerland is not part of the EU.

Rats, of course its not. Not sure why I said it was.

Indeed, that's what Chart 3 is implying, but housing in Switzerland is also a big problem IIRC.

Yep. I still have nightmares about dealing with the gerance in Lausanne.

Oh dear god yes. Norway and Switzerland are mostly funded by oil and banks. I've paid €90 a night for a youth hostel in Switzerland, and a friend paid €11 a beer in Norway.

Like most European countries, they probably require to have a day team and a night team. Google has datacenter in Belgium[1], so it would be surprising it was "impossible".

[1] http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2012/05/15/googl...

Google's company culture is a lot like Japanese work culture. Lie about your hours because its more honorable to claim you did more work in less time.

I've seen a lot of googlers put in 60-70 hour weeks and claim it was 40.

For hourly and contract employees that work in operations? You sure about that?

They don't. It is not a requirement. But if you want your employees to do overtime, you have to pay them either 50% more or 100% more, depending on whether it's "just" overtime or overtime during a time when they wouldn't have to work at all (weekends, official holidays, ...).

The very short, very inaccurate summary is, you get 50% for outside of hours (after 19h, weekends). You get another 50% for working on weekends. And you get 50% for working on official holidays.

Meaning you get 3x your normal hourly wage for working after 19h on Easter or Christmas for example.

Needless to say, companies don't want to pay this, and will lie and cheat to get out from under this. Problem is, if they get sued, the maximum penalty is 2 years' wage, paid out on the spot, and it's up to the employee to decide whether to continue working there or not (if you fire an employee, and put down as reason that you've lost a court case against them, that's likely to result in another 2 years pay for the employee).

European Working Time Directive forbids more than a 48 hour working week. The UK has an opt out to that maximum. Sounds like this employer wants someone who can work 24x7, which y'know is illegal.

I am Belgian, and why IANAL, your intuitions w.r.t. the law are seem to correspond to what I have heard.

I cannot access it:

>Sorry, we couldn't find that page. Here are some others for you to explore.

Here's the version from Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3Awww.l...

Indeed appears this self proclaimed CV/recruitment specilist has deleted the offending post highlighting how bad she is with regards to staff relations.

Short version , she fired somebody so she could save money and then had a problem and was unable to get the extra mile suport out of hours and outside the contract hours from that employee she had fired. Then took to social media to wonder how could this happen and trying to blame everything upto and including the old employee for her clear and blatant greedy oversight.

I was able to access it just a moment ago. I don't think it's been deleted.

I could see it too, but here's the text in case anyone else is having trouble:


A while later (hopefully a few years), you tell me it is time to talk. You are not happy anymore and feel it is time to change things. Of course I'll try to convince you. See if we can change something in your job description to make you happier, see if I can get you motivated in different ways. But if we can’t work things out together, if it is simply time to end the relationship, let’s talk about it like adults. Don't come into the office one day telling me out of the blue that you haven't been happy for a while, found someone else and will leave me as soon as possible. And now that you brought it up, why should I pay your full wage if you are only working at half force since you aren't motivated anymore?*

This is really a special kind of deluded. I'm not even sure what else I can say. She's just pretty spectacularly unqualified to deal with people. She seems to think she's buying friends and that because she pays (has paid) them, she owns them.

I fully agree.

One thing I cannot understand is the fact that she's got 85,124 followers on LinkedIn - how came?

If you can, can you save it with all comments from LinkedIn please? The Google webcache misses some comments, and they were the worthwhile bit of the post

Sure, I screenshotted the entire page, but removed the sidebar and topbars.. and it was 13MB, is there anywhere to upload it that takes files that large? imgur.com wouldn't work.

What did you use to take the screenshot, which handled that size? All my screenshot tools fail around the 5MB limit, which is a PITA when trying to screenshot long pages :(

You could use Dropbox to share?

If you're on a Mac, you might try Paparazzi[1] (no affiliation).

I don't specifically know if it has any trouble with a 5Mb limit as I don't generally pay any attention to file sizes, but it's never given me any troubles with pretty long pages, so I'm assuming it would work well in this scenario.

[1] - http://derailer.org/paparazzi/

Thanks. My go-to test page is http://www.teehanlax.com/story/teehan-lax - trying to screenshot that page in any program I've tried has failed.

No problem.

Here's an imgur from that page which, on casual inspection, seems to have worked just fine.


me.ga or mediafire would work.

I guess Inge Geerdens, author of the text, and LinkedIn "Influencer" (sic!) removed the page; LinkedIn users were quite harsh with their comments. The logical development, IMHO, would be that:

1) relevant Belgian authorities launch investigation into employees' treatment in her company. Apparently they are forced to work after hours and, unlawfully, not being appropriately paid for the overtime work.

2) Inge gets fired for bringing disgrace to the company she works for as a CEO.

Ummmm.... When you fire someone, they take it personally and look for a new job. You can't expect overtime passion from them. What a dingbat!

I read many comments and would not call them harsh, realistic yes. If anything rather constructive and tame to what could be worded as a reply to her post.

I would say the comments (most of them) were "relatively harsh", because usually comments under LinkedIn "Influencers"' blogs are limited to "thank you!", "great!", congratulations, etc. I thought they were pretty honest and not too diplomatic.

Agreed - and with a more reasonable tone than the HN comments :o)

3) She is immediately hired by an American company or multinational, with her disrepect for European labor protections as her most outstanding qualification.

But she would have to learn to not talk directly to the people that she is firing. The best way to break up with an employee is by mass e-mail, text message, or simply by deactivating their access card and leaving the crap from their office in a box by the curb.


Been let go once by getting a call late at night on my personal cell, telling me to not try to go in in the morning, and my agency staff will pick up my personal items as soon as possible....


Hmm, it's still accessible for me at the original url.

Please try to tone down the amount of speculation and blame you are adding to the story. AFAIK, none of the things you are saying is actually true or have come to pass.

Remember, the surest way to spot these types of comments is the lead-in with an ad hominem argument...

I don't see your point. It is clear to me that she admitted breaking Belgian employment law saying things like: "Belgian law makes it very difficult to put such a flexible schedule in a contract. So your best bet is to hire people who share your passion, willing to 'volunteer' on such occasions." Notice the 'volunteer' in quotes... When you put 'volunteer' in quotes it doesn't mean the same, it's just a cynical way of saying that she expects people to be happy working overtime for free.

In other comments in this thread by Belgian HN users you'll see that "Belgian law makes it very difficult" is an euphemism for "it's possible, but costly", so she is basically admitting to break the law to reduce cost. How much this kind of approach to law is tolerated in Belgium, I don't know, so a future investigation is a pure speculation, I admit, but hey, am I not free to speculate about the future???

As far as 2) is concerned, I'm not witch-hunting here, calling for her head, or anything like that. I just think that the bad PR she's made will not make the company's board/owners/shareholders etc. happy. She just hasn't done any good with this blog post. I'm sure you agree with that, regardless of whether you agree with her views on employment law or not.

So, yes, it's all speculations, and I'm sorry, but I don't feel guilty about it. Should I, really?

> I'm sure you agree with that, regardless of whether you agree with her views on employment law or not.

My original point was don't speak for me or others by way of blaming statements. You have no right to state whether I agree with it or not.

Aww come on bro. Half the fun in these gossip threads is speculation anyway.

This one is a gem.

I can be very flexible and friendly, but I always put the company|religion|family first and I value the [company|religion|family]'s well being over an individual employee|Human.

Yes, she does sound like a nice person. Unfortunately when I worked for an investment bank, they seemed to encourage arsehole behaviour and promote it.

If there wasn't really any work for him, why did she need him after hours? Why not simply call an employee that hadn't just been fired?

>However, Belgian law makes it very difficult to put such a flexible schedule in a contract. So your best bet is to hire people who share your passion, willing to 'volunteer' on such occasions.

Threw up in my mouth a little bit. My 'passion' is making money by providing services you need. You pay me, I do sh*t. That simple. Let's not kid ourselves.

I love the mental gymnastics she goes through to paint herself as having done no wrong in her mind.

To be fair, having grown up in Belgium, they take their red tape and bureaucracy to a whole new level.

I considered moving back there and freelancing after university, but the hoops you have to jump through (and tax you have to pay) scared me off that idea pretty quickly.

Hoops to jump through: set up a business bank account, fill out some forms, about 30 minutes tops. Pay taxes once a year for federal, provincial and city and VAT four times a year through a free online system. Sounds like a lot but it takes hardly any time. As a freelancer you can keep simplified accounts, double bookkeeping is optional. Pay an accountant if that's too much to deal with.

Admittedly it's more of a hassle in Belgium than it is in the UK (they treat sole traders really well) but it's still a walk in the park.

Level of taxation: sure, it's a lot, but always less than what an employee would pay. And you get health insurance and are saving for retirement as a part of that bargain – even as a freelancer!

What exactly has she "done" that's so wrong? I mean, sure, her expectations are perhaps a bit [insert whatever you want here], but her actions?

Or are you saying it's morally wrong to terminate an employment contract when the business no-longer needs the employee?

She lets an employee go because they don't need him, then needs him and complains that he's not readily available.

Humans aren't inanimate objects to be used and discarded and retrieved as your personal needs change, and this CEO is getting some faint glimmers of that if not fully realizing the entire scope of this implication.

She did wrong by letting him go _and_ asking him for overtime. You just don't do that. I'd expect more class from someone.

It's not a lack of class, it's a lack of intelligence.

Amicable separations aren't quite as rare as unicorns but they make California condors look ordinary. No matter what people claim, it's remarkably uncommon, one party always gets the bad end of the deal. If what I've heard about work in Belgium is true, unless this guy was an elite contractor, short of finding another position there is no way this was going to be amicable.

I was in a similar situation. Due to circumstance, I was the only guy who knew about a particular thing that was fairly critical to the business who could do any work on it.

My old boss gave me a call and said "Hey, Spooky23, we're in a bit of a jam with <system z>, would you be willing to do some consulting for a few weeks?". So I did. Worked about 30-40 hours fixing stuff, and spent a few hours training the guy they hired.

This happens all of the time. Some CEOs/VPs/etc have class. Others don't.

I think this is covered by the general mantra "FUCK YOU, PAY ME."

Why don't you tell her directly?


With posts like this: https://twitter.com/ingegeerdens/status/456228757569695744

Then how does anybody take her seriously? Is it the lack of women in IT and business that make people more tollerant of such clear shortcommings, like that twitter post and her major snafu in people managment skills this article outlays. Especialy for somebody who proclaims to be some kind of staff recruitment expert.

I fail to see how believing conspiracy theories would interfere with her ability to recruit good people.

While the post was certainly beyond ridiculous, let's not get ahead of ourselves and most definitely don't start any pointless and damaging witchhunt here.

Oh her post reagrding the topic was indicative of her recruitment ability for me. This conspiracy which is clear to most interlectuals would easily be dismissed due to source alone and to panda towards such poor information is to me and many a sign of weakness, again non conducive towards stable manager.

Anybody who is easily lead by such a clear conspiracy is also the type to be in denial of the facts as indicated by this post about not understanding why a sacked employee did not jump thru hoops out of hours later on. We see it, anybody reading it see's it and she did not until after it went viral and enough comments enabled reality to set in that she eventualy realised her mistake and instead of admitting it, she just deleted it and pretended it never happened.

That is the relevance, and indicative that for some this person is not very credible. Employers go thru social media all the time and way it against you, it works both ways.

No witch hunt, rememebr this is instigated by her, everybody is just stating the obvious that she failed too see and then when she did, delete/denaial mode. no witch hunt, just trying to understand the type of person who would make such a post in the first place and if it was out of character or indicative of there mindset.

But any debate can be deemed a witchhunt, just does not distract from the facts. So more a facthunt.

The source is "Daily Mail". Pretty much sums it all: if she believes that conspiracy and its source she could easily believe that her own lack of continuity makes perfect sense.

At this point, conspiracies have just as much evidence as Occam's Razor regarding that plane's disappearance. The theory is pretty well out there, yet still fits what is known and not completely absurd.

What amuses/occupies people outside of work should be largely ignored insofar as it has nothing to do with work. Most people who are interesting/talented hold views others find ... weird.

Ha. I bet she is having plenty of people tell her. Plus, I'm not on Twitter.

'It never crossed my mind that he had been FIRED.'

Yes, by the end of most modern firings, which are conducted with an astonishing degree of cowardice, the goal is to make the employee somehow leave feeling like they've voluntarily quit. This is how we avoid recognizing the uncomfortable fact that a firing is actually a confrontation, and that it is super uncomfortable. And we don't want to experience that, right?

Apparently the CEO has somehow convinced themselves that firings are mutual and that they aren't super uncomfortable.

Stop couching something in euphemisms and recognize things for what they actually are. If you are letting someone go chances are 1) it's a one-sided decision 2) they won't appreciate it very much. Only in the flavor-less world of detached corporate speak are firings mutual.

The most important line in this one is:

> I am the boss with all the perks and the quirks.

I think this is yet another example of what another HN commenter recently called "ignoring the considerable power you wield over other people and expecting them to ignore it too."

Guess what, power matters in relationships.

> It wasn't a decision I made overnight. It wasn't even my decision. We talked about it on several occasions.

Is she really saying it wasn't her decision because they talked about it on several occasions, it was somehow a mutual decision? Bullshit.

You don't get to keep all the power, but then expect that in your interactions with people it won't matter, it'll be just like relationships between peers or equals.

> I am the boss with all the perks and the quirks.

As an ex colleague used to say to his 'boss': You are not my boss, you are my employer. My boss is at home.

spot on re:

> I am the boss with all the perks and the quirks.

these kinds of comments are dangerous.

what your boss thinks they have a right to treat you how they wish as if they own you then that is a problem... if they feel it is fine to say it openly and unashamedly then you are so far from sanity you shouldn't feel safe.

LOL What a parody! With this article she effectively destroyed her business... Unbelievable! Nobody with a brain would like to work for her after a simple search for references and her customers must be already scratching their heads if they can trust that a business with her as a head would stay afloat... Unless she is linked to EU funds that can keep her business funded regardless of performance due to political connections, I don't think many people would be willing to bet on her. This is not about making tough calls when they are necessary, it's about exhibiting inability to comprehend basic business and operational issues and inability to at least conceal that fact by issuing meaningless statements.

> I can be very flexible and friendly, but I always put the company first and I value the group's wellbeing over an individual employee.

And her employees do the same: They value the wellbeing of what's most important to them over her wellbeing .. what a surprise.

I was laid off along with 25% of our department back in 2005 and I stopped all work and started looking for a new job as soon as I got the news. I was halfway though a project, but My number one priority was keeping Myself employed. Thankfully the company was sympathetic to our needs, but there were some employees that had worked at the company for 18 years and now needed to find new jobs. I still came into the office for the following three weeks, unlike some of my other colleagues. Ironically, I was trying to get out of that company anyways so for me, the layoff was an amazing opportunity.

One of the saddest scenarios was one of my colleges that had been out of school for merely 8 months. He had a 2 hour commute to work one way: car/bus -> light rail -> Metro -> office. He was chipper and gung ho about coming into work and working on his projects. The day he got laid off (which was about 1 hour before I got my news) he comes in super excited (as always) and runs up to have a meeting with his Project Manager. Then 15 minutes later, I see him leaving with his back pack and I ask where he's going. He looks dead in my eyes eerily and says "You'll find out soon enough." While he was only out of school 8 months, I think he's now realized that companies aren't all way they are cracked up to be, but now he works at Goldman Sachs so who knows.

American here, I once left a job (quit) because of deep dissatisfaction with the management's general incompetence and constantly pushing critical maintenance off. I had been telling them for more than a year that there needs to be some changes or something bad was going to happen.

Got a call from them a couple months later, something bad finally happened.

"My consultation rate is <some ridiculously huge number per hour>."


"You obviously want to hire me as an independent contractor to fix the issue I had been telling you about. Fair warning, I'm at another job now, so I'll be doing the work on nights and weekends."

"Your rate is ridiculous. It wasn't going to cost that much for you to fix it when you worked here."

"I warned you about it for a year and you had your chance to fix it back then when it wasn't a crisis. You ignored me and deferred the issue and now it's this is your emergency, not mine anymore. Frankly, I can charge whatever rate I think is appropriate."

To my surprise, they agreed (at a mildly reduced rate), I came back, spent a couple weeks fixing the issue and then we parted ways. They never asked me back again but I got my 1099 from them a while later.

Everybody always says, upon leaving a job, "call me if you need anything" because we all have friends at work we want to see succeed. But sometimes you have to stop volunteering our time (our lives) to cover up other people's failings. I keep hearing about people who leave a job, then come back in on the weekends to "fix a few things" at their old job. Stop doing that. If it's worth money to the company, it's worth some of that money to you.

Not fired in the American sense (you can't let someone go in any short term in most European countries). She let him know that he should look for another job, meanwhile he's still employed but unmotivated.

But the point here is that he is not "unmotivated" to do his regular job (she makes no mention of that), he just doesn't want to do the free extra time on night and week end for which he was never paid with to begin with, but used to do out of "volunteering" (her own words).

You can't fire a guy and then expect him to be 100% motivated, but you can even less expect him to keep doing the little extra on the side just for you ...

Notice period could be anything from 3 weeks to 2 months. He could be also hired as a contractor and not to have his contract extended.

I would expect such an employee to be paid over €35k. This would place the minimum notice period at 3 months.

Entirely depends on which country within Europe, France for example has employment laws which are incredibly favorable to employees rather than employers.

The story happened in Belgium, and the specific duration in this case would be three months, unless there are some specific details that we are not aware of. I agree that it would have been different in another country.

Sorry, I thought you were writing in the context of the great-grandfather comment which was just about Europe vs. USA, my bad

That depends. New hires go through a probation period up to 4 months renewable (almost always renewed in practice) were you can be fired in a couple days without justification.

I find that pretty favorable to the employers.

"It wasn't a decision I made overnight." - "It wasn't even my decision."


"I know I fired this person" - "It never crossed my mind that he had been FIRED"


fuckedcompany.com is dead, linkedin.com lives!

From another of her posts:

"Don’t come into the office one day telling me out of the blue that you haven’t been happy for a while, found someone else and will leave me as soon as possible. And now that you brought it up, why should I pay your full wage if you are only working at half force since you aren’t motivated anymore?"


Oh my god.

And the comments... All these sociopathic-type managers living in the comfortable fantasy that employer/employee relationship is equal to equal. Crazy.

Yes this really baffles me.

This is just one of the many examples of the utter douchiness of hiring people as employees, but treating them as "fellow entrepreneurs" whenever it suits the employer.

It seems to be a standard pattern in most start-ups, simply not taking the responsibility for being an employer.

What this CEO did isn't just a misunderstanding, it's very, very bad employer-ship, and detrimental to the well being of the employee. Every day that employee is sitting there, being utterly demotivated and wondering what they're going to do next with their career and life that person is edging closer to a burn-out.

Under Dutch law, if that happens, the company is 100% liable and will have to keep paying the employees salary (for up to two years), and get actively involved in the employees recovery.

In this case, it is very black and white: this CEO is an incompetent employer who on top of it has a serious, near sociopathic empathy deficit.

This is not about "leadership style", this is about simple management competence.

tl;dr - clueless CEO fires employee because she didn't know his work was still needed (and thought she'd fatten the margins), later finds out and regrets it.

Happens all the time.

I don't think they even realise this employee is still needed or that they haven't figured out how to deal with this when the employee is gone. As for expecting an employee to make themselves available to a level they're not legally able to contract them to out of some shared passion... naive to say the very least.

And now they need to hire a communications person to review their social media posts as well as figure out who's going to be mercilessly on call in place of the employee in question.

I wish this were extraordinary. President of our company showed up in the hospital room of the Sr. Developer he fired who had terminal cancer in order to ask him for documentation on various projects. Showed up multiple times in fact.

I actually really do wish that maybe this is extraordinary and that next time around I'll wind up under more human leadership.


I'm kinda surprised that no relative of the sr dev made the company president glad to be in a hospital...

That's what finally happened, thankfully. His fiance stepped in and acted as a silent wall to the president's ongoing requests. Thankfully he finally got the message and relented.

EDIT: Hah! Just parsed your message correctly =P no violence ensued haha

too bad

'I'm just being honest' is not an excuse for being an asshole, yet the vast majority of the time that is exactly what it's about. It's the most popular justification given by sociopaths.

And when called on it: "oh it's not just you, I'm an asshole to everyone!"

This situation is a good reminder that just because people get themselves in leadership positions (and especially when they talk as advisors or authorities on leadership) doesn't mean they're actually any good at it. They may just be good at generating content that (usually) sounds smart.

She's pulled her post, most likely out of shame. But take a look at all the other sage advice that remains! https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/44558

Like this one: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140328120354-44...

"And now that you brought it up, why should I pay your full wage if you are only working at half force since you aren’t motivated anymore?"

I'm starting to see a pattern...

I actually understand many of the reasons why companies need to let people go. Sometimes it really does make sense to stop having someone as a full time employee. But if that person did anything significant during their employment, chances are the company might need a little of their time again in the future. That extra, on-demand time should be compensated well; and the possibility of such a need should be discussed before the exit.

For me the most important sentences are these:

"I had to let go of an employee"

"we need the assistance of our colleague urgently"

Same guy. So there is a bus-factor of 1 and you fired that person. Since said firing was "a few weeks" ago, all critical stuff should have been out of his hands.

This struck me too. I can't fathom why the CEO didn't simply cut a severance check and wish him well.

> We have to keep our tools running 24/7, even if that means working the occasional nights and weekends.

Does this apply to CEO as well? As JWZ wrote nobody of higher management had to sleep under their desks.

Ok, but to be fair, a CEO can't really help unless they have technical skills. You don't want people to suffer needlessly.

What if technician needs CEO to make quick management decision?

It cuts both ways, several times I worked over weekend, just to see deployment postponed by couple of days for some paper work.

If I'm the CEO and I'm going to ask some people to work 80 hour weeks for a few days/weeks/months, I'd be around and find something productive to do just to show solidarity.

I've been the engineer in that scenario a number of times in my life. Almost every time there were management people who stayed who just couldn't contribute. Honestly, I didn't particularly need them to suffer. I'd rather they go home, recognize the situation and reflect on whether something should change if this is a semi-regular situation..and then act. That action is within their capacity and it would have been impactful to me.

As it was, they just didn't act, treated the suffering as a badge and pretended they were in the foxhole with us. If they could handle it, why couldn't we? Why were we bitching so much? They were right there next to us! Needless to say, I don't work in those kinds of places anymore.

It is not about just suffering for the badge of it. I guarantee you that there is actually something productive and useful to do. At the very least, as you say, you can reflect on the current situation and write-up the plan to avoid it in the future.

The only time I pulled a free week end at a company I worked for out of niceness, my boss was sitting in our office evidently having nothing to do beside support me and bring me a coffee every couple of hours.

At the time I thought that's not needed go home, but with retrospect I respect him a lot more for that.

That might sound dumb, but that's one of those things that stick with you when evaluating how you are treated by someone

I think it really depends on the boss. An less competent boss is not welcome when you have work to do.

Ah, absolutely. Even if that's making coffee, ordering food, or doing the mindless repetitive tasks.

Yup. If you're asking your team to dive on a grenade, the least you can do is make sure they're stocked with refreshments and feeling like you have some skin in the game.

"a CEO can't really help unless they have technical skills"

Sure they can. They can fetch pizza and drinks, they can test the product from an end-user perspective, etc., etc.

This reminds me of an encounter with our department's director recently at an "all hands" meeting at my current gig. My company has been under financial pressure for the past few years, and there have been reorgs, layoffs, fewer promotions, and weaker merit raises. To answer complaints about all of this, particularly in the case of those who didn't get promotions they felt they deserved, he said, bluntly:

"You are responsible for your own careers."

To paraphrase Lone Watie from The Outlaw Josey Wales, I thought about his words. "You are responsible." And when I had thought about them enough, I decided to find a new job.

Sounds like a great case of charging $500/hr, with a 4 hour minimum, of course.

How bad do you need his information?

Right, so she's cool by letting him keep his job for some period of time while he looks for new work with minimal expectations from her - but then when she could use his help just once in exchange for paying him thousands and thousands of euros for doing nothing, she should have the hammer brought down on her?

It's amazing how little empathy this thread has for people that create companies and struggle through the employer's side of trying to be decent to people while trying to run a thriving business.

It's amazing how little empathy this thread has for people that create companies and struggle through the employer's side of trying to be decent to people while trying to run a thriving business.

No. This is Hacker News. You'll find that the majority of posters here are apologists for entrepreneurs and employers. When you can't even hold this crowd, that's a pretty good sign the employer's thoughts are so tangled up in their skewed perspective on labor that they can't even be badly rationalized into something approaching reasonable.

apologists for entrepreneurs and employers

Notice how you didn't even qualify which entrepreneurs and employers.

"Letting him" keep his job? I think you'll find that in Belgium, like in most of Europe, there are mandatory notice periods that range up to around 3 months (even more in some countries in special circumstances, such as plant closures). Outside of exceptional circumstances, he had a legal right to keep his job for some period of time after being given notice. There's nothing in her post that indicates that she out of the goodness of her heart had given him more time than his statutory notice period.

There's also no indication he was doing nothing during his notice period - surely if he'd been doing nothing, she'd have known already, and not expected to be able to reach him even outside of his contracted hours.

An answer of "No" would be very detrimental to the business owner as well.

This yes, of $2000 would surely be beneficial to everyone.

And empathy has little to do in business. Where was the empathy in firing someone? Answer: "It was business".

If it was just business, she could have fired him outright rather than giving him the extra time of not officially firing him.

No she couldn't. In countries like Belgium or France when you fire someone you must give them notice. They then get 3 more months until the point they no longer work for you.

This gives employees time to find something else, and is also beneficial to public finances : the employer effectively bears the cost of the first 3 months of unemployment of this person, after which the state will cover.

But, to be fair, it also discourages hiring employees unless you know you can keep them, so there is more unemployment than there would have been otherwise.

Not in Europe. He'll have to have been given weeks/months of notices, so that he can look for a new job in his spare time and not be completely fucked up.

    >Right, so she's cool by letting him keep his job for some period of time while he looks for new work with minimal expectations from her
I suspect she is only "cool" with letting him keep his job while looking for something else as by product of Belgian law.

It's too bad you're getting downvoted. Even though the business owner's expectations of continued work out-of-hours are unreasonable, her method of letting this guy go actually seems pretty empathetic to me too.

Honestly, I would much rather be treated this way than walked to the door and told to wait for security to come by with a box of my stuff.

Nobody is (or few are, I'm not gonna count) criticizing the termination process, as it's about as empathetic as can be realistically expected.

The heat is coming from how she disavows that decision (and process), and is somehow surprised that he's not enthusiastic to not just put in the contracted paid-for time but won't go above-and-beyond to provide free services for her sole benefit. That's not "trying to be decent to people while trying to run a thriving business", that's expecting people to consent to be taken advantage of.

BTW: being shown the door with a check for 2-3 month's pay (not unusual in the USA) is quite palatable. Shows due appreciation without expecting someone to labor under a dark cloud when they should be out looking for work.

Getting a months-long notice period is required by law though. She hasn't mentioned doing anything more than just what she's legally required to do (oh except expecting a terminated employee to be on-call 24/7 and work unpaid overtime on request)

Sounds like someone really wanted to set up a UK style '0 hours contract' where you get to avoid paying an 'employee' unless you ask them to do something and then only need to pay for the actual time they spend doing it but you have the advantage of stopping them getting another real job since they are already reserved by your 'employment'.

UK companies do it all the time - sounds like this Belgian needs to move to the UK to get the desired outcome of slaves on standby.

Or that the employer really wanted a 24x7 contract. "You must be available to work at any time". Which is the other end of the scale.

I think this was recently touched on by the big four supermarkets coming under criticism.

No real full time customer service assistants. Staff are placed on 16 hour contracts with single, double or quad hours randomly placed throughout the week.

If you don't come in, you get fired.


>UK companies do it all the time

Thankfully I've yet to see this in IT.

Nice and funny example of Poe's law [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe's_law]. Failing to realize when you ought to STFU is part of what being a sociopathic boss is about. That her companies seem to revolve around HR and hiring is just the icing on the cake.

But from what I understand, LinkedIn somehow featured this article; I'd love to have them explain why and how they picked it...

Probably something to do with being an "influencer" and "thought leader."

Gag me.

Actually, when I'm feeling masochistic, I read articles on LinkedIn's Pulse section. They're so, so, SO bad. It's either "work harder, and you might become like me!" or "it turns out your employees are people too!" Strangely enough, never anything about workaholism.

Article seems offline now. Google cache: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:rLPq67G...

Edit: Summary, by me: a CEO complains that someone who has been fired is not motivated, i.e. does not provide "urgent assistance" outside office hours.

The post might not be as shocking as it appears. In most of the EU you seldom can fire an employee without weeks of notice. The way she tells the story, it seems as if the employee was told his contract would terminate, but he was still working for the company when he was needed.

Still, I don't find strange that an employee who knows his days at a company are counted is not willing to respond to an after-hours phone call.

Looking for a job is also time consuming and in most of the EU the employee that got the firing notice is legally allowed according to the employment law to work shorter hours, say 6 per day instead of 8, in order to search for another job.

From the story it also seems that after-hours work is based on "volunteering" and thus not paid extra compared to regular hours, so it's not a surprise that an employee that got fired is not motivated to volunteer for doing work after-hours.

Apparently it's a big shock for some people that employees have needs and obligations, like a family to take care of. Receiving a notice that you've been fired can be very stressful, even if your skills are very in-demand.

Note that (1) the employee was let because his role was not necessary anymore, then suddenly he is needed (2) outside office hours.

  In most of the EU you seldom can fire an employee without weeks of notice
This is true. What you can do, though, is let an employee go immediately and pay his salary for the notice period.

Banks do this quite often on employees, who could create huge damage for the bank. For example traders.

A friend of mine was a trader of some long term with a particular bank and, because of his length of service with the bank, had to receive a few month's notice of termination.

They terminated him and made him come in to work to sit in a featureless room with only a table and chair -- no computer, nothing. He'd rather stay at home and garden or whatever, even it meant finishing up early, but they wouldn't let him. He always said that he must have seriously pissed someone off in HR.

From the way the last paragraph is worded, I would suggest that this lady take some time off. It's all over the place, she has a lot going on in her head. Perhaps she should see someone professionally to talk through things.

>It never crossed my mind that he had been FIRED.

What would you call terminating someone? You can be fired and still be on good terms and have a healthy relationship but you still let that person go or fired them. Please dont be so naive next time you let someone go. We dont get a job to make friends we do it to make a living.

If my company fired me and gave me x amount of time till I had to leave, I would probably not being going above and beyond any longer. My body may be at work but my mind is focus on the new job or job search.

I speak British English, and I see a distinction. "Fired" (or "sacked") to me is getting told to leave. Now. Usually because your work is crap, or you have done something wrong.

Letting someone go like this (when the work is fine, but not needed) is usually referred to as "making the person redundant".

I guess there would probably be that distinction in American English as well. In casual conversation I may say I was fired because they didnt have anymore work left when in fact I was more likely laid off.

Either way I wouldnt me motivated no matter how I was let go. I am still losing my job.

Yes, "laid off" is another term I would put in the same category as "made redundant". I work in Spain now and I am used to non native speakers using sacked or fired when I would have used "laid off" or "lost his job". Like I say, I still have the connotations of incompetence or poor work when I hear "fired".

This CEO is actually an even worse person than her post implies. This was just a way of avoiding severance pay. They wanted to squeeze every hour they paid for out of a fired employee.

I am a 2 year old.My brain thinks everyone in the world wants what I want.When I grab some other childs toy I dont understand why the child cries instead of being motivated and jumping with joy at having done what I want.

Apparently this startup ceo has not outgrown the terrible twos

Can't wait 'til she discovers the wonders of forced casualisation and then gets super upset when employees choose not to come in for 3 hours at 20-minutes notice. "How dare they treat my business so flippantly?" I wonder.


"I don't think we'll be able to get a hold of him," says the colleague. Why's that? "Well, he got the sack. He's finding it hard to stay motivated." Right. I didn't see that one coming.......I know I fired this person, but I considered that merely a technical matter."

Comedy ensues.

"It wasn't even my decision" vs "I may be the bitch and the witch, but trust me: people want me to take decisions, even harsh ones."

The latter was in the context of explaining their general leadership style.

Looks like this is not the first time she got noticed through her LinkedIn ramblings, here is something from 2012 http://www.cmswire.com/cms/social-business/earth-to-inge-you...

I love reading articles on linkedin, you couldn't parody them.

>> I value the group's wellbeing over an individual employee

There's the problem. Yes, you should not value an individual employee over the group's well-being, and yes, if he agreed to work until he found another job he should work until he found the job (although I don't know when he's expected to find that job in any hurry outside of work hours). But it's like she has no idea what that conversation would sound like to an employee. Your CEO brings up the fact that things aren't working out. You hear a prelude to being fired. In some situations, maybe you just agree rather than argue. If you've actually been under the impression you've been working hard, it looks like you can't win and you would be better off else where. Now that's a motivating thought isn't it?


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