From the desk of Penelope Alice, Britain’s most fabulous PA – PA Life Club

From the desk of Penelope Alice, Britain’s most fabulous PA

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Normally when your boss asks you to do something, you’ll unquestioningly fall into line and carry out their request. After all, they’re the ones paying your salary, carrying out your appraisal and the person you need to keep on the right side of – plus, they’d never do anything untoward, surely.

Alas, this blind faith in our employers doesn’t always pay dividends. Unless you’ve been living in another galaxy for the last few months, you’ll be familiar with the continuing sorry saga of former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks. In the latest turn of events, it transpires that the flame-haired Ms Brooks asked her then PA to dispose of some business documents that could perhaps have been considered detrimental to her personal interests.

This poses an interesting point. Where exactly do you stand when a direct order from your line manager contravenes the laws of the land? What do you choose to comply with – your company policy or the ruling of the courts? We hear of PAs being asked to do outrageous and outlandish things every day – from covering up their boss’s extramarital affairs to taking their elderly parents to the seaside for a day out – but most of these, while they may be a serious imposition and well outside the confines of your job description, are unlikely to land you in jail.

How best to respond then when a seemingly innocuous request such as being asked to remove some boxes of files from the company archive can land you in very hot water indeed? It’s a tricky dilemma, that’s for sure. You could of course hide behind that old chestnut: “I was only following orders”, but then we all know who famously used that excuse, don’t we…