Family Finance

Determining business priorities and ethics

Overtime pay rarely compensates for employee burnout

Good business planning must involve setting priorities and working on the most important ones first.

Setting ethical financial priorities

Pay suppliers. Without a doubt, those who provide materials on credit have the first right to any available income from a business, because in ordering, the business has made an implied promise to pay.

Pay employees. Once creditors are paid, the next priority is to pay employees what is due them, because this is what they are due legally and ethically.

Pay owner or self. Once creditors have been paid and employees have received their compensation, owners can draw their compensation. It is not unusual for people who start businesses to feel that they sacrificed to build the companies, so they have the right to any and all proceeds.

Priorities for use of time

Many employees feel that anything beyond 40 hours should be overtime paid at time and a half, and many owners think that anything less than 80 hours per week is laziness.

Both sides are extremes. Owners who allow work slothfulness from their employees are just as wrong as those who demand extraordinarily long work weeks, with or without adequate compensation for the extra work.

Very seldom does more money compensate for employee occupational burnout.

Other ethical priorities

Taxes. No one likes to pay taxes, but to cheat on income taxes or any other tax is stealing.

Fraud. Common forms of business fraud (not including tax fraud) include insurance, over-billing or double billing, overcharging, warranty fraud, reverse shipping charges, and selling outdated or inferior products.

Misuse of company time and property. Most owners cannot be held accountable for the misuse of company time. This is related more to employees who do not give their employers a complete day's work or perform personal tasks on company time, which is stealing from the employer. Nevertheless, many times owners are guilty of using company materials for personal use.

Each year Australian businesses lose $1.5 billion to employee theft according to the Australian Federal Police. A portion of this is owner theft. Although owners tend to believe they can treat company assets as their own personal property, until current law agrees with that perspective, asset misuse by owners is still unacceptable.

Some of the most common areas of misuse are personal use of a company vehicle; long distance calls on company telephone; company stamps for personal use; and the use of company computers, copy machines, fax machines, pens, pencils, and paper for personal use.

Courtesy Crown Financial Ministries,

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