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Aussie workers told to fork out $500 for boss' Christmas gift: 'Exploitive'

A Melbourne worker has slammed a request to staff to collectively contribute $500 for a Christmas present for their boss as “completely unethical.”

The staff member says all 10 people in his office received an email from his boss’ assistant on Thursday morning stating that “the budget would be $50 per person” to put towards a gift.

“I was a bit shocked and thought I had misread it completely,” the employee told Yahoo News Australia. “Then I reread it a few times and got annoyed.”

For the 23-year-old, who’s only been with the company for a year, he doesn’t feel that he can request a smaller amount.

“I feel uncomfortable because we are a smaller team,” he said. “But I’ve made up my mind and don’t think I will pay regardless. I think it’s inappropriate. I feel that it’s expected if the majority agree but I think that it’s completely unethical.”

A mockup of the email sent to employees. Source: Yahoo News Australia
A mockup of the email sent to employees. Source: Yahoo News Australia

An abuse of the ‘power dynamic’

The shell-shocked worker took to Reddit to voice his fury, saying he couldn’t justify why his boss, who he referred to as a “pretty well off person,” should receive a $500 gift from his staff.

“A card or something small would have been enough,” he wrote online. “I also feel weird about this as it’s my first full-time job and I’m the youngest (definitely the least paid) in the office and feel that a boss getting such an expensive gift from their employees is exploitive considering the power dynamic.“

He added that he’d already agreed to take part in a Secret Santa which involves a much smaller amount and includes the whole office.

The Melbourne worker says the request to contribute $50 for his boss'Christmas present is 'unethical.' Source: AAP
The Melbourne worker says the request to contribute $50 for his boss'Christmas present is 'unethical.' Source: AAP

The post has since gone viral on the platform with hundreds of users appalled at the demand, with many calling it a “power move.”

“I pay $50 per person for my family members, no way would I pay that for a workmate,” one person said. “$50 is way over the top whichever way you look at it,” added another.

“The balance of power means this is a borderline shakedown,” someone else wrote. “It could be implied that the boss is asking for a bribe for favourable treatment in the new year.”

While others insisted that “you gift down, not up” in the workplace.

“F**k that, your boss/company gives you a present, not the other way around,” one person said. “You are not obligated to your colleagues in any way outside of your work duties,” another commented.

While others urged the employee to speak to the HR department, many said that the boss’ assistant was to blame.

“It’s wildly inappropriate for the assistant to be asking this of all of you and honestly if it was me I would bring it to my boss’s attention immediately,” someone else said. “As a boss, I would feel s**t house if my staff put that much into a gift for me,” another added.

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