One of my co-workers (“Lulu”) was injured in an auto accident two months ago. She will be returning to work in a few days. Our boss warned us that Lulu will be in a wheelchair and have limited mobility for several weeks. He asked us all to pitch in and help our co-worker with copying or projects that normally would require her to get up and move around. He also asked us to make sure she has coffee and water. Basically, he wants us to wait on her. Normally, I would not mind helping a team-mate but Lulu never lifted a finger to help anyone else in the past. I don’t think it’s fair for our boss to ask us to interrupt our work to help her when we all know she will never return the favor. Can he force us to help her even though it is not part of our job descriptions? Shouldn’t he tell her not to return to work until she is fully recovered? What can I do to defend myself from the extra work?
Why don’t you just wheel Lulu somewhere with a gentle slope and let her roll away? No Lulu, no “extra work” for you.
— Evil Skippy
P.S. Gaze into the nearest mirror. That’s what a jerk looks like. Slap the jerk.
Your boss can issue any safe and otherwise reasonable workplace orders, limited only by applicable collective bargaining agreements or other contracts. This includes tasks that might not specifically be recorded in your job description. (However, I’d be surprised if your job description does not include a phrase such as “other tasks as assigned”). This is one of those “other tasks”.
You really are being a jerk about this. Whether or not your co-worker “deserves” assistance, she needs it. You should be glad that you work for the type of place where management will find a way to help employees who are having a rough time. You might be that person in the future – do you really want everyone saying, “I remember how she acted when Lulu couldn’t walk. Let’s let this dolt fend for herself”?
That being said, you are not Lulu’s nurse or attendant. If the extra tasks truly interfere with your ability to do your job duties – and by “truly interfere” I do not mean minor interruptions – explain the situation to your boss so he or she can make sure the extra load does not prevent you from meeting your regular job expectations.