The Real Reasons You Can’t Force Your Employees to Buy Donuts

by Evil HR Lady on October 19, 2020

I want to be clear that I love donuts. This post has nothing against donuts. I believe that every office that I visit should have donuts available. I think this is a good idea.

However, I ran across a Reddit post about an office tradition involving $100 worth of donuts. The tl;dr summary: The Original Poster (OP) works for a company where once a month an employee buys $100 worth of donuts for everyone to share. This tradition has been going on forever. The employee who pays for these donuts does so out of pocket. OP is a part time employee, earns $10 an hour, and only works 12 or so hours a week. If he bought the donuts, his real pay (after taxes) would have been around $11. OP refuses. The office hates him and the boss makes cryptic comments about taking it out of his pay.

So, what’s wrong with this scenario, besides everything?

Major FLSA violation

If the boss requires this, then it takes the OP way below minimum wage for the week. You can’t require any deduction that brings someone below minimum wage.

OP isn’t the only one who can’t afford this

$100 is not a lot for some people. For others, it’s their entire grocery budget for the week. Or it’s the difference between paying their rent and not paying their rent. $100 is a significant amount of money. Even, though you’d only have to purchase the donuts every once in a while, it’s not something that any business should ask of their employees. It’s putting people in a huge financial burden.

The OP points out that everyone else makes more money than he does, so it’s not a big deal for them. We never know anyone else’s finances. Someone may be supporting an ex-spouse, six kids, two elderly parents, and paying off student loans. Or, has gambling debt. It doesn’t matter. Your paycheck is your paycheck and (outside of taxes), you get to decide how to spend your money.

This can be morale destroying

The OP’s assumption is that everyone loves this but him. It may be true, but it’s probably not. Traditions like these come with pressure to conform. And seeing how the boss reacted when someone objected, you can be sure that other people didn’t object because they predicted such a reaction.

Fun things need to be fun. This has stopped being fun.

The OP is now looking for a new job. I suspect he’s not the only one.

Not everyone loves donuts

I realize the above statement is shocking, but it is true. I love the idea of a monthly donut day–because I love donuts. But, you are excluding people without realizing it. Change up your monthly offerings.

The business buys the treats

If an employee loves to bake and wants to bring in cupcakes, yay! Cupcakes for all! But, otherwise, any treats are business expenses. If the boss wishes to treat the employees, fine. But it comes out of the boss’s paycheck, not not the employee’s. Period.

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