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Colleague taking advantage

(34 Posts)
AliceS Wed 06-Jul-22 18:18:33

I am the only member of my team who manages a building. However I work with a man from a security company so there are two of us. We have to get on as there's no manager on site. We've had no rows. However, just recently I feel he has been taking advantage. Whilst I am not his manager, he goes on several breaks at a time. I get in before him and take only an hour for an 8 hour day. He is praying behind the frontline counter (there's a partition there but he does this as I'm about to leave and get access to things in the same area). I do not want to have a chat with my line manager but I have a lot of work to process from my manager whilst he either goes to Tesco, takes his lunch, makes a phone call etc, disappears in the toilet for 20 minutes. Then his second friend from the security company turns up at 3pm and they are muttering to themselves. I am temping so feel in a vulnerable situation, and I realise if I say anything to my manager then it will get into a 'he said, she said.' I felt grumpy at the end of my shift today as the two guys were muttering to themselves. Didn't confront colleague but he is always off doing his own thing. Any advice?

CanadianGran Wed 06-Jul-22 18:31:39

I guess it depends on if it affecting your ability to do your job, or if you are picking up some of his duties because he is not present. Otherwise I would keep out of it.

AliceS Wed 06-Jul-22 18:35:51

Best technique I can use is to leave him to it as well. If there's no consideration, rather than a confrontation, I'll move around on other tasks. It just irritates me how selfish he is when there's only two of us and he takes more breaks than he's entitled to.

Oopsadaisy1 Wed 06-Jul-22 18:36:32

I would just do your own work and ignore what he is doing.

It doesn’t seem to be impacting on your workload.

eazybee Wed 06-Jul-22 18:41:04

Is he a colleague working for your employers or is he employed by a separate company and you just work in the same building at the same time?
If his activities impede your ability to do your job then you have to discuss it with him and achieve a compromise, but if they don't impact on your work then ignore them.

AliceS Wed 06-Jul-22 18:46:10

He's working for a security company but my company hires security from that company. Should stress that I've always said nice things about him/security firm to my managers. I've said to him that it's chill, if you need to get a break do because you have a longer day than me. I will be polite but now focus on 'moving about the floor' so I get a bit of a break as well whilst focusing on other duties. I just get fed up when his other colleague mutters in another language to him which I think is rude in mixed company.

welbeck Wed 06-Jul-22 19:02:00

so what exactly is he doing that is wrong, in terms of affecting you and your work.
being annoyed by people talking in another language is not a valid complaint.
do 2 of you have to be on duty at the front desk ?
if not, just ignore his activities and do your own work.
i can't see how he is taking advantage of you.
maybe i have not understood the situation, but frankly, you have not explained it clearly.
if he is short-changing his employer, that is for them to notice and action, not you. ignore him.

AliceS Wed 06-Jul-22 19:08:25

The two of us do have to be on desk together because we offer specialist expertise in our roles.
I disagree about talking in another language is not a valid complaint. That is rude, racist and disrespectful to one who doesn't know the shared language in a work environment. I take on board the points and will do my own thing. (ie. take the same amount of breaks so everyone knows how to treat people...)

welbeck Wed 06-Jul-22 19:28:42

you could render yourself liable to a grievance procedure if you object to colleagues speaking to each other in their first language.
surely you have come across this in other workplaces.
to complain could be seen as racial discrimination, unless there was an a very good reason to object.
your thinking it rude is not a good reason.
they are talking between themselves; they are not conducting a work-related meeting from which you have been excluded by not having the language.

AliceS Wed 06-Jul-22 22:16:09

If it was a one to one for a business meeting I'd say fair enough, or if it was for a conference okay too, but if it was social chat excluding the third person in a conversation in a public facing role (making it non-exclusive in the workplace) I would have a form to put in a grievance due to racial discrimination. I think that is totally rude and disrespectful - it's essential to communicate as a group regarding business operations. So, someone can run you down and you wouldn't understand? I don't think that's okay. It's okay if the colleague had to communicate with a visitor from overseas. I don't think someone should be praying in a shared workstation on a front desk when I need the same shared space to close up before the end of my shift and need to get to key cabinets ! He knows I finish earlier than him. My colleague has a lot of space in the back office to himself and I've totally respected his right to have extra time to pray outside the building. Sometimes he's had 45 minutes to pray plus 1 hour lunch plus another 20 minutes for shopping. I probably wouldn't mind so much if there were more team members. As mentioned before I will continue with my work but I will also take longer breaks as the rules just don't apply to one person in a team of two.

FarNorth Wed 06-Jul-22 22:45:38

Taking longer breaks could get you in trouble. It'll be no excuse to say you're copying your colleague.

The chatting is none of your business.

You could ask him, when he's not actually praying, to leave the front space clear at X time, when you are leaving.

Other than that, take no notice of what he does if it doesn't affect you.

GagaJo Wed 06-Jul-22 23:17:05

I think you need to have your own standard of work. Wherever you work, regardless of your colleagues. You do your personal best at work. Not for acclaim or reward, but just because it's your standard.

There will also always be times at work where you don't agree with what others do, or even where you don't like your colleagues/boss. Remain polite at all times. Avoid being with them too much (not possible here I can see). Don't let others get you to deviate from you doing your best.

You can't really go wrong with this. If you ensure you're good at your job, even those that actively dislike you can do too much about it. Cover your back to keep your job.

Teacheranne Wed 06-Jul-22 23:36:37

I agree with GagaJo, you need to set your own standards and ignore what other people are doing. Be proud that you are hard working, meeting deadlines and being appropriate without worrying about what someone else is or is not doing.

As I understand, you are not employed by the same company so the breaks he takes is nothing to do with you, I assume you have your own contract which stipulates working hours, breaks etc so just keep to those and try not to get annoyed by his attitude. It’s quite possible that eventually his supervisor will find out that he is slacking and get involved.

It’s not unreasonable though to have a chat with him about his behaviour when you are trying to pack up ready to leave. Could you ask him to vacate the area to give you uninterrupted access to the files etc if it’s important for you? I find it difficult to think that he would want to pray in a public area ie at the front desk where he could be interrupted by members of the public or other employees, devotion is a private matter and it sounds like he has a dedicated prayer area or at least a more private space. I think I would just get on with the end tasks whatever he is doing, politely asking him to move to allow access and then leave promptly.

The language being spoken with his friend is more difficult, it’s not unreasonable for friends to talk to each other in their first language even though you find it rude. I think you could be accused of discrimination if you complained so you need to reflect on any possible consequences. Is there someone you could talk to about the issue like your manager or the HR team?

VioletSky Wed 06-Jul-22 23:40:13

I know you aren't liking the advice you are getting but it could save you from getting yourself in a bad situation.

His praying does not need mentioning. His religion obviously calls for prayer at certain times. That is why it is happening when you want to leave.

Talking in his own language doesn't need mentioning. Whatever language they spoke in may not include you anyway.

Of you mention either you will be pulled up as discriminating.

If his scheduled breaks are in fact longer than they should be, which you would need to be absolutely sure of because his hours are longer and you dont know how much unpaid break he gets, then you are entitled to complain...

But ask yourself, is his job being done and do you feel safe? If he is security then that is what matters and that would be your valid reason.

As for taking longer breaks yourself... as others have said, your job is your responsibility and you should not be lowering your standards. Imagine if everyone thought that way! Nightmare scenario.

AliceS Thu 07-Jul-22 00:13:55

Thanks everyone. I actually think he's a nice guy. We have good chats, and there's been no altercations. I've also spoken well to managers about him and his security company. I'd like it to stay that way. I will treat tomorrow as a fresh day. Today I had been given six months worth of statistics to type up by my managers whilst my colleague was praying behind the desk so felt grumpy towards the end when you are closely working together and someone keeps disappearing! Perhaps I can politely come to a compromise tomorrow saying that he can have private space in the back office and can put a sign at the back office to prevent anyone from cutting through that way I can also get professional access to material behind the desk without bumping into each other. I do not want to take this to a higher level. I do appreciate all the comments and understand that this is only said to prevent further issues occurring. Many thanks,

Summerlove Thu 07-Jul-22 01:25:04

Surely you didn’t expect your security colleague to do your job though?

You work two different jobs.

I’m genuinely struggling to understand your issue.

The only issue I could understand is if their chatting were distracting you. But even that doesn’t matter which language they use

Why are you talking him up so much if you dislike the job he’s doing?

AmberSpyglass Thu 07-Jul-22 08:58:01

Legally he’ll be allowed to pray - you do realise he isn’t skiving, it’s just that there are certain times of day that this needs to happen?

And as for your complaint that two people “muttering” in their native language is racist… Feel free to complain to your boss, I suspect I know what the outcome will be and it won’t be one you like.

Grandmabatty Thu 07-Jul-22 09:27:13

I suspect that you expected this forum to agree with your tacit racism and are backtracking furiously. It's not a good look.

biglouis Thu 07-Jul-22 11:57:31

I disagree that its "tacit racism" on the part of OP. She needs to get to certain files/workspace while the other person is praying then she has to have a frank conversation with him. In the situation I would be open and tell him that while I appreciate his need to follow his religion it would be more appropriate for him to pray in the private back room, where his activities are not impeding her work. I would also stress that he is less likely to be disturbed there by either her or members of the public/other workers arriving. Praying is usually a private activity.

welbeck Thu 07-Jul-22 12:24:58

it's not the files/praying issue that most clearly suggests racism.
it's the attitude of describing people muttering in another language and objecting to it.

Jess20 Thu 07-Jul-22 13:22:25

I think it's OK to feel discomfort and then process that feeling, it's how we learn. OP just expressed her thoughts and better to do so than build resentment and act without conscious self awareness. Personally I don't think anti racism is about pretending there's never any discomfort, it's about getting to understand the self and the other person.

TwinLolly Thu 07-Jul-22 13:39:00

I must admit (on a ship that my DH works) my husband talks in his native language to colleagues as it is quicker to communicate things. But if there other non-Dutch colleagues are around, they will speak in English.

Indonesian and Phillipino crew will sometimes talk among themselves in their own language too - because it is quicker to convey information to each other.

But that is only an observation.

At home, DH's family will speak Dutch and apologise - saying that it is quicker and easier to communicate important information (more so about DH's mum's heath situation, etc.) and then DH will give me a brief rundown later.

I hope you can work around things and come to some sort of compromise that will make you feel a bit better about the situation. Good luck!

Honeysuckleberries Thu 07-Jul-22 13:39:38

What a lot of nasty and judgemental people you are. Sorry Alice for having such harsh responses.

Imagine, if you can, that you are a single older female in a close working environment with two men who are talking in another language that you don’t understand. I would think that she is feeling physically and emotionally vulnerable. She doesn’t know one of the men at all and the other only a little. They could be saying all kinds of things and she wouldn’t know. She cannot form a better relationship with them because they are not talking to her or including her.

How would you feel if you went to a meeting or a party and they all spoke together in their own language whatever it was, and you stood there like a lemon? Isn’t it just rude and bad manners not to talk in a language everyone can understand. That’s not racist to wish to understand what is being said.

As for the praying, why do it somewhere that you know it interferes with the running of the business? Wouldn’t you find somewhere quiet for your devotions?

If this was happening in amongst a workforce of fifty people for example then it wouldn’t matter so much, but when there’s only three of you it’s important.

FarNorth Thu 07-Jul-22 13:46:05

Personally I don't think anti racism is about pretending there's never any discomfort, it's about getting to understand the self and the other person.

I agree Jess20.

Jens Thu 07-Jul-22 13:52:35

If you feel so strongly he's spying, set him up, leave do etching out that is totally bogus but appears genuine, see where that leads,. Confrontation won't get you anywhere I suspect, so houst him with his own petard.