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Careers

Am I My Boss's Personal Servant?

Knight Kiplinger weighs in on employers who use employees to run their errands and photocopying copyrighted material.

The woman who heads my division has started asking me to run personal errands for her, although I am not her executive assistant. Is this okay?

No, she shouldn't ask this of you. It is okay for executives to ask their assistants for occasional help with personal matters because it enables them to focus more intently on their managerial duties. But it shouldn't be a heavy, everyday demand, and it shouldn't extend to others in the office, like you. I suggest that you share your concerns with a senior person in the HR department, who should speak to the division head without revealing your identity.

My company subscribes to a high-priced newsletter that is valuable to our work. To avoid paying for multiple subscriptions, my boss told me to photocopy each issue and circulate the copies to several dozen managers. Should I feel uneasy about this?

Yes, indeed. He's directing you to violate federal copyright law, putting the company at risk. Point out to him the prohibition against copying (printed on the newsletter) and suggest that you ask the publisher about a site license for your whole office. It's typically sold at a discount.