I would hire someone else and let him go. Employees talking about what they think I make is out of line no way in hell I would forgive that. My profit if any isn't his concern and all equipment purchases are made with what is considered profit so if I do not have one I will soon be out of business because my equipment can not be kept indefinitely.
Now I do things a bit differently then most here, I do let the employees know some of my expenses. They come in and say they need a raise I'll toss them a 2-5k AMX bill for last month's fuel and supplies and say sure just pay that for me first would ya. I do not think we do the potential next generation of landscaping business owners any favors by shielding them from the realities of this trade. When I was younger I looked around and saw the money and ignored many of the costs. I wasn't as bad as the rest of the guys that worked with me some of those clowns actually thought the boss had hundreds of thousands of dollars hidden under his mattress and his checks only bounced because he thought it was funny.
If the kid is too stupid to realize your paying him for all the hours he produces and all the hours he does nothing then he has 0 future in anything other than a job for someone else. Your paying for lunch your paying for drive time your paying when the job goes south and your working longer than you can bill for. Your paying for mower maintenance your paying for sharpening blades your paying for greasing the mower and working on your 2 cycle equipment. Your paying for setting up your trucks and trailers for cleaning them out for washing them for fixing tires for welding broken parts back on. Your paying for his bathroom brakes his snacks his smoking habits your paying for his cell phone addictions your paying for him to talk to his co workers and joke around. The truth is if your billing him out for 75% of the time you pay him for your actually doing pretty good.
Say your billing him out at 40-60 an hours a guy at 12.50 an hour costs me 20% more with all the extras. Taxes fees WC you name it. So he is already at 15 an hour not including over time which blows that to over 22 an hour total costs. Then you have the hours you cannot bill for which conservatively will be 10 hours a week and you quickly can see there is very little margin in there anyways. And we haven't even touched on the fact you got to cover all the insurance the repairs the rent the phones the postage the advertizing the you name it it eats a massive amount of your total sales.
I love dealing with businesses in this trade because they are the only ones that have a freaking clue what we do and what we face. The kid sounds like a punk let him go to collage broke.