Before You Pass The Hat…

Taking up a collection in the office may be costly

It may just be a simple school candy drive or a collection for a sick employee, but company soliciting is no child’s play.

If done incorrectly, it can result in hard feelings from co-workers who find it an imposition. And, in a few but not so rare cases, you could also be violating company policy and risk being reprimanded or even terminated, warns Ivan Smith, a partner with the New York law firm of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Englehard.

In some businesses, solicitation is strictly prohibited. For one thing, it “opens the door for labor unions and other organizations to request to come in and organize,” says Darrell S. Gay, partner at the law firm of Gay, Maher & Brown in NewYork. As he explains: if the company says no to a union but allows other forms of soliciting, it can be found to be engaging in unfair labor practices.

Here are some steps to take before passing the hat:

  • Get permission. Find out your firm’s solicitation policy. Then send a written memo of your agreement to comply.
  • Don’t be too pushy. If a co-worker says no, don’t assume the person is cheap or inconsiderate hank them and move on.
  • Don’t embarrass co-workers by broadcasting who did and did not contribute–you never know a person’s financial circumstances.
  • Make certain your project does not interfere with employee productivity. If you’re holding court around your desk, then obviously work has been put on hold. Wait until break time or before and after working hours.
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