Dollars From Sense

– Save Money, Live Your Ultimate Life

Avoid Being Exploited by Your Employer



Work is hardly the most fun thing on the planet even if your boss is the best boss in the world. Regardless of how little we may hate our jobs (which is certainly a more apt way of putting it for most people), the fact is that we perform our duties primarily for one thing: money. The statistics have shown that very few people have any real passion for their jobs, even those who happen to be very good at their job.


So the last thing any of us really need in our professional lives, with all of this in mind, is a boss who is willing to exploit us. Unfortunately, exploitation of both official employees and contractors is more common in the business world than many people may think.


A lot of business owners – and, indeed, many of their employees – seem to forget that employers have several obligations to their employees. Many people seem to think that it’s just a one-way street; that employees need to shut up and do whatever work employers send them. But respect needs to go both ways – and it’s essential that more employees are made aware of the precise obligations of their employers to them. (Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if more employers were to read articles like this, either – sometimes, they’re simply unaware of just how much is expected of them!)


So it’s important that you take a look through this quick guide. It highlights the common areas of employee exploitation and what you can do about it.




Defining exploitation


Not all instances of employee exploitation are illegal or even defined as such by the law. But there are many instances – and most people who have ever worked will have experienced it at some point – in which an employer may try to engage in “light” exploitation. They’ll ask you to do a couple of tasks that are above your paygrade, for example – not massive things, but things that you aren’t contracted to do nonetheless. The most common is overtime, which you can read more about at; depending on the state you live in, it’s possible you can’t be compelled to do it. It’s usually best to politely decline to do those things if you’re able.


Of course, you do need to take care with this approach. Remember that tasks beyond your official responsibility, in a reasonable amount, can be good for your career prospects – and your employer may simply be placing trust in you, or testing your abilities for future considerations. Just take care not to let things go too far or go on for too long.




Vagueness of contract


You need to go through your contract carefully before you sign it – don’t just sign it blindly because you’re eager to start a new job! You need to ensure that you truly understand everything in the contract. You should read more about this at The contract may not be perfect – and we don’t exactly encourage you to reject the offer just because of this – but sometimes a contract that leaves you vulnerable to hard work can be better than a contract that is vague and, thus, leaves you open to exploitation. If you have any problems – even well into your employment – just ask your employer for a bit more clarity. An updated contract may be offered.


Health and safety


Health and safety obligations are one of the first things most people think of in this area, and these are very well documented on websites such as A lot of people think this only applies to construction workers, but these obligations are universal; they apply to office work, too. Stress is considered a health and safety risk, so remember that there’s only so far your boss can push you!




Dealing with medical leave


Different states across the U.S. – and, of course, different countries altogether – will have different laws governing an employer’s obligations when it comes to medical leave. Thankfully, it seems that most employers really are very understanding when it comes to illness and family emergencies – after all, they’ve no doubt dealt with it personally plenty of times across their career. That, plus they tend to know that an ill employee may very well end up causing other employees to be ill, thus leaving them with productivity reduced even further!


It’s essential that employees read up on their rights when it comes to leave for medical purposes and family emergencies. You are protected in many cases by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which you can read more about at Unfortunately, some employers can be extremely awkward when it comes to granting leave for illness or family emergencies; they may seem to be looking for any excuse not to grant it. Even those who are usually lenient may seem uncharacteristically unforgiving in this area if there are looming deadlines or existing employee shortages. But it’s essential that you know that such excuses can really only go so far if you are ill or need to tend to a member of your family.




Thankfully, freelancing isn’t quite the unprotected method of work it was for a long time. New laws are starting to appear across states that protect freelancers from exploitation. In New York, for example, the Freelance Isn’t Free Act was passed on May 15, 2017, which you can read more about at You should never allow yourself to be pressured into doing free work, but, sadly, many freelancers find themselves in this position – laws such as the ones passed in New York should help prevent such scenarios in the future. A more pressing concern may be whether you’re actually a freelancer or, in fact, an employee.


Make sure you understand the common law rules set up by the Inland Revenue Service that establishes whether a worker is an employee or not; make sure you check them out at There are behavioral and financial aspects to consider, as well as the type or relationship that one party has with the other.


The curse of the doormat


Sadly, a lot of people find themselves exploited simply because they find it difficult to really stand up for themselves. Websites like have helpful advice for those who want to strengthen their metaphorical backbone. This is key to avoiding the sort of exploitation we’ve detailed in this article.