Dear Aunty B,
I have just launched a small fashion boutique, which I share with another designer. Last week, I asked the designer’s intern to work behind the counter because I had to go to a meeting across town. I emailed her in the afternoon to see if everything was going OK and she said it was. I paid her cash the following day for the eight hours (a full day – 10am to 6pm). I know paying cash isn’t right, but as a once-off, I thought it was the best solution.
I later found out from someone else in the building that she only worked until 4pm and shut the shop early. When I asked the designer (her boss), she said she’d told her she’d felt unwell and had gone home early. But she took the money for the full day! Do I confront her and ask her to give the money back or just ignore it?
It’s best you learn this lesson now and not five years down the track: you’re a business owner now and you have to protect your best interests.
Your Aunty has never been one to beat around the bush, so I say call a meeting with the intern and call her out – while giving her a fair chance to explain herself of course. She may own up to and volunteer to give the cash back.
While I don’t think you should necessarily ask for the money back, I think you should let her know you are aware the store was closed early on that particularly day and would like to know why. While you can’t fire someone else’s intern, you can make her know good and well she has made a bad name for herself. I’m sure the Melbourne fashion industry is quite small after all.
Also, I know you said you are already aware, but it really never is a good idea to pay cash.
Your Aunty B