I work for a small company that is customer facing, there are only 2 of us in the office, myself and the manager, the company owner is an alcoholic and until recently he has only been in the office twice since I have worked there (6 months). The owner and the manager have known each other for 40 years and were romantically involved until 3 years ago. The manager has had enough of the owners behaviour and is fed up of sorting out problems he has created; Legal proceedings against us for unpaid bills, unpaid tax bill so the tax man wanted to auction off our possessions, and his alcoholism. A few weeks ago the manager said she is taking a step back, and that the owner has to step up and take responsibility. This means he will be in the office with me while the manager works from home. This week however, I have just returned to work after being ill for 2 weeks and the manager and owner have been in the office together, the manager was taken ill and the owner actually went in for three days alone (this is unheard of) to 'work' - all he could do was answer the phone because he cant even turn on a computer. The manager told me the day before I was due to return that she walked out the previous day, the owner had turned up drunk but had to be present to sign paperwork brought in by a client. After the meeting the manager handed over her keys and said she would not work until (or unless) he sorts himself out and makes things rights with the company. Of course this saga of the owner drinking and causing friction has been ongoing for many many years. He has sober months but always returns to the bottle.
I asked my manager what she wanted me to do with regards to returning to work, she said she would not tell me to go in or not to go in, I had to decide. My instant reaction was to quit there and then, the thought of me having to work with the owner makes me very anxious. He cannot get into the office unless he is brought - he lost his license due to driving under the influence of alcohol so I am relatively safe. I took a few hours to think about it and told my manager that I would go in. She is a lovely lady and I don't want to let her down. She said (as usual if she is off) to call her if I needed to and that if she heard anything from the owner about going in to the office, she would warn me.
The owner was drunk yesterday, I spoke to him twice on the phone, not intentionally - we don't have caller ID! He was pleasant, which made a change normally he is not nice and has me in tears, (unless he is asking me to go to the bookies form him). He was obviously drunk, but he could still string sentences together. He was trying to be helpful and give me info about things that had happened work wise while I had been away, but it didn't make total sense. As usual when they have had a tiff like this, he started bad mouthing the manager saying she should F off and would I like 20k to shoot her for him (obviously he was joking). He called back at 2pm and could barely speak. The manager called me several times to check on me, he had been calling her non stop so she knew he was bad and was worried about me. She popped in to help me with a couple of things and apologised for putting me in this position but she had to take a stand. I fully understand and agree that she has to do what is best for her, but I don't know where it leaves me?! I have spoken to a former colleague, who left about 2 months ago after working there for several years. She has told me things unofficially which worry me, money which we hold but is not ours, has been spent by the owner amounting to 85K, the company is broke, we do not have money to pay our bills, or for goods/services, our income does not cover them and apparently we are "robbing Peter to pay Paul".
The manager does not know that I have been told this, and I don't want to break confidence, or in truth admit I know, I wish I hadn't been told! What I do know officially, because I was in the office with the manager when it happened, is that our tax bill had not been paid, the tax man came round to value our possessions for auction. We were given 5 days to pay the sum owed, or goods would be removed. The bill got paid, I was told that our earnings that month had covered it, but my ex-colleague told me that could not be true because our monthly income would not have totalled that amount - client money had just come in and that would be where the funds came from.
I am battling with myself regarding what to do, with it all on paper it sounds like leaving is the bivouac solution, but I feel so guilty when I think about it, and don't want to abandon the manager when she needs somebody else there the most while she is putting her foot down. Despite this I have hardly slept and have been awake since 3 am worrying about working today. Will the boss be drunk (probably), what will he be like when he calls - his mood can flip like a switch and he continually reminds me that he pays my wages - yeah minimum wage!! I actually have to call him to get an update for a client, I asked the manager if she knew what the latest was and she said no, I would have to ask the owner. I really, really don't want to. If I do get the nerve to talk to my manager, (my ex-colleague said she would understand), I'd prefer to leave sooner rather than later, as I don't have a contract of employment in place, do I have to give notice, or can I just leave on the spot? There are going to be endless phone calls from suppliers wanting to be paid, from customers who have not received their goods (because we haven't been able to buy them). I'm fed up of lying to people and making excuses. Yet me conscience is screaming at me not to leave the manager to deal with this alone. If I go there will be nobody else to do the work, the company will be even worse off.