As a woman and a freelancer — two groups notoriously expected to work for free — I’m extremely wary of anyone who seems to be asking for free labor from me. I make sure my (male) partner does at least half our chores, I charge to give out career advice, and if a client starts requesting more time from me, you bet I’ll start requesting more money from them. But I also pride myself on crushing every job I’m assigned — on going above and beyond at work. And sometimes, I really struggle to draw the line between going above and beyond and doing plain old free labor.
“If you are asked or forced to take on additional responsibility when others are not or with no additional incentive, then you are working for free,” career counselor and executive coach Roy Cohen tells Bustle. “It is an abusive environment. There are no exceptions. Even companies in distress will recognize hard work and find some way to reward an individual who may be critical to achieving success once the situation has been stabilized.”
If you’re not sure if you’re working for free or just being a star employee, here are some things to consider.