What is an unreasonable request to make of an employee? There are typically no hard-and-fast rules on these things short of anything that’s illegal or could be deemed discriminatory.
Some employees may be more agreeable to doing whatever is asked of them than others. However, just because an employee is willing to do something, that doesn’t mean you should expect them to. What you perceive as a request, they might view as a demand or at least fear that if they don’t agree, their job will be in jeopardy.
If in doubt about whether it’s appropriate to ask an employee to do something, it’s probably best not to. Here are some examples of what not to ask an employee to do:
Cancel their vacation: It’s one thing to ask an employee to reschedule a day off if they had no plans besides catching up on laundry. It’s another to ask them to cancel a vacation or even a day off if they have plans.
Work extended hours if they’re salaried: Yes, many jobs require putting in more than 40 hours sometimes, like during busy seasons or when there’s a deadline approaching. However, it shouldn’t be a regular expectation.
Work when they’re sick: No matter how inconvenient it is to have an employee out sick, you should never expect them to work when they really aren’t up to it.
Falsify records: This includes asking an hourly employee to “clock out” at 5:00 and expecting them to work an extra hour. It also includes any falsification of dates, dollar amounts or any information.
Deal with an abusive customer or client: No matter how valuable they are, no customer should be allowed to mistreat or harass an employee. Allowing this harassment is no better than allowing harassment by another employee — which they also should never be asked to put up with.
Donate to charity: Many companies get very competitive about raising money. No matter how much you want to meet a goal, no employee should ever feel compelled to donate. This goes for your own causes. Sure, you want your child to sell more candy bars than everyone else on the soccer team. That doesn’t mean your employees have to buy them.
None of these things is good for morale. Some could land you on the wrong side of a lawsuit. If that happens, it’s wise to seek experienced legal guidance.