will my work be tarred by a co-author’s bad reputation, having a reference proactively call an employer, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Will my work be tarred by a co-author’s bad reputation?

I’m an attorney looking to change jobs in the next year or so and am updating my resume. When I was an undergrad (more than 10 years ago), I worked closely with a professor in a field tangentially related to law and wrote a few articles and a book chapter with him. I’m pleased with that work and have listed it in a publications section on my resume up until this point.

After I finished college, I didn’t have much contact with this professor except for an email exchange my first semester of law school where he said two of our co-authors on one of the articles were upset about the manuscript being submitted to a less prestigious publication. Ultimately, the two other co-authors alleged that my former professor had forged their signatures prior to submitting the manuscript and demanded to have their names removed from the article. (This resulted in some press and the ultimate removal of their names.)

This began a downward spiral for my former professor, who had been a high profile figure in his field. He was denied tenure, moved to a much less prestigious school, left there unceremoniously after a dispute about the accuracy of his CV, had a well-publicized affair with a grad student, and got some really bad press within his professional circles, among other misdeeds.

The last time I was job hunting, my former professor wasn’t in disgrace. Now, I’m thinking long and hard about whether I want to list these publications. A quick Google search of my name and my former professor’s will turn up his issues, especially the article where he and I are now the only two authors owing to the aforementioned dispute.)

I’m proud of the work I did and the publications are a point of distinction in my area of practice. (I also published an article wholly independently of my former professor several years after I worked with him.) I’m just not sure about including them on my resume going forward. Thoughts?

I’ll be interested to hear from people in law to see if they have a different take, but as long as your professor’s bad reputation isn’t based on the quality of his work, I wouldn’t worry too much about this. If he’s known to do terrible work, then you wouldn’t want to be associated with him — but if his bad rep is more about his behavior, then I don’t think your work is going to get too tarred by association.

2. Having a reference proactively call an employer

I’m currently one of two people being considered for a job. The prospective employer has already called my references. A friend told me that it could be helpful to have an additional reference call the employer to offer a reference on my behalf. He said that this could help sway their decision, but I’m worried that it would seem pushy. What do you think?

It entirely depends  on how effusively enthusiastic that reference is going to be about you. If that person is going to rave about you — like the “move heaven and earth to hire this person” kind of rave — then it can be helpful. Or, if the reference actually knows the hiring manager, that can be super helpful too. But if it’s a stranger who seems reasonably but not incredibly positive about you, then it risks coming across as unhelpful.

3. Am I being a doormat?

I’ve been in my job for about 2 years now and I really do love it. I finally have found a fulfilling job with great managers and an excellent work environment. There’s only one problem: my compensation. I am paid a salary way below market value for my work. Worse, I’ve taken on a few extra projects over the years (all with a good attitude and effort– whether I am excited to do them or not) and expanded my workload well beyond what I’ve started with. And I haven’t seen a raise yet, just vague promises of “some day.”

My boss is aware of that I’d like one and I’ve had a conversation with him at every quarterly meeting. He says he’d like to give me one, but it’s not in the budget. Meanwhile, other members of the company have indeed received plenty of raises and rewards. The company also has grown by leaps and bounds over the years I’ve been here.

At this point, I can’t tell if I’m being a doormat or patient. I know my work is valued and I’m praised pretty often. I’m also treated pretty well (and I deeply appreciate that– bad bosses are too common!). However, my compensation is just very low and I’m concerned that “some day” may never come. Should I start searching for new jobs? Or try having a candid conversation with my boss? I think they want me to be happy and I would really rather stay here than leave.

There’s certainly no harm in having one more raise conversation with your boss (framing it as, “We’ve discussed this many times before and at this point I’d like a firm timeline for getting my salary up to market rates”), but I wouldn’t count on any promises of “some day.” At this point, your boss is only credible about giving you a raise when you actually see a raise in your paycheck.

Until/unless you actually see that money, assume that you’re never getting a raise no matter what promises you hear — because that’s what all the evidence says — and proceed accordingly.

4. What should I say when introducing a job seeker to another contact by email?

I make email introductions for job seekers from time to time. As an example, let’s say that someone I worked with in the past is job searching, and they ask me to introduce them to someone I know who works at a company where they are applying. What is the etiquette in these situations? Who goes in the to: line, or cc: line, and who should you write the email to? How should the email be structured?

I don’t think it really matters that much; there are a number of different ways to do these. Personally, I tend to address it to both people, with both of them in to the “to” line, and then I write something like, “Persephone and Apollo, I’ve told you each a little about the other and I’m now I’m connecting you. I think you’ll enjoy talking to each other, and I’ll let you take it from here.”

Of course, note that that indicates that I’m not connecting them cold — I’ve already explained to the contact what the context is (and sometimes asked permission to connect them). If I hadn’t done that, I might address it to the contact and say something like, “I hoped you might be willing to talk to Apollo Montblanc, cc’d here, about his search for work in the teapot industry.”

5. Should I get extra pay for working on a day others had off?

I am a non-exempt employee and we recently had a snow day. The entire company was paid for that day. However, I handle payroll and so I was given a laptop and told to ensure that payroll was submitted on time. I had no problem doing this, but when I came back to work and asked my employer if I would be compensated for the time I worked, she laughed at me. I think its unfair that everyone got paid for the snow day but I was still expected to work. No one else (to my knowledge) was expected to work. Am I entitled to compensation for working on a day that everyone had off and worked?

You were paid for the time that you spent working, so you were compensated. I think what you’re asking is whether you’re entitled to anything extra, since everyone else got paid that day for doing nothing. Legally, no, there’s no requirement for that; the law only cares that you’re paid for the time you worked, which you were.

Beyond that, I get why this is frustrating, but sometimes it’s the nature of a job — that you’ll end up being needed on a day that other people aren’t. Some employers will recognize that by giving you additional pay or holiday time to use on a different day, and others don’t; there’s no “best practice” here that would dictate that you get paid extra for that time.

{ 237 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte

    On #1–I think this might be more a question for lawyers, since it sounds like the OP is hunting in law rather than academics. That being said, from an academic viewpoint I’d say if it’s a scandal that would require Googling for them to find out about and it’s not about the actual data or findings, I don’t think it would hurt you.

    On #2–I think I’d wonder why, if this person loves you so much, they weren’t already one of your references. Unless I already know the person, I think this is likelier to feel like a contrivance than it is to give you an advantage.

    1. Artemesia

      Unless this were someone I knew very well, it would really turn me off. If a good friend or professional acquaintance called about an applicant that would interest me, but not a great reference whom I don’t personally know well. I would feel gamed by that and wonder about the applicants integrity.

      1. Graciosa

        Ditto.

        I disagreed with Alison’s answer – if a total stranger called me up to give a reference, I would be very suspicious (and effusive enthusiasm would increase that suspicion). When we reference check, we usually make an effort to ensure that we know who we’re calling – unsolicited calls look like an attempt to bypass this process and fool us with a fake reference.

        To be fair about it, I work in an industry that does handle defense work, and both classified and export-controlled data. All of us in the company are trained to be really suspicious of unsolicited calls generally (I have made calls to other employees who don’t know me from my cell phone and had to wait while they confirmed that my cell phone number matched the one in the directory before continuing the conversation) so this may not be everyone’s response.

      2. Sarah

        OP#2 here. I was asking on behalf of a friend. He ended up deciding NOT to ask an additional reference to call, and he was offered the job. After reading responses, I know he made the right choice! The person who originally recommended this move had once been a hiring manager who received a phone call from a well known expert in the field recommending a particular applicant. I think that is a rare and specific circumstance, though!

    2. Jalinth

      For #1, the biggest question is type of position are they after. Academia typically uses a CV, so publications matter. For most non-academic positions, my attitude would probably be – why do I care about a 10 year old article written for academia. A current article, presentation, etc… Would be much more relevant. So I’d focus on why is the publication even worth mentioning.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I think this might be more a question for lawyers, since it sounds like the OP is hunting in law rather than academics.

      You’re right! I got distracted by the professor and went straight to academia. I’ve correct the post to ask lawyers, rather than academics (although I welcome academics’ opinions too!).

      1. fposte

        And it turns out I was wrong and the OP is looking in academics. So I stand by the “people aren’t going to care” opinion.

        1. Cath in Canada

          Hmmmmm, not sure I agree 100% (I’m in academia but not in law, so it may be different). As someone said upthread, publications matter a LOT to academic careers, and any whiff of using fraud to build a publication record would be a big deal, at least to the professor’s reputation. And if the allegation about forging co-authors’ signatures is true, it is indeed fraud. I think this is especially true if the dispute has been documented through a formal journal correction or retraction – see the excellent Retraction Watch blog for an indication of what a big deal this can be.

          Note though that I say it would be a big deal when it comes to the professor’s reputation. For the OP, I think the majority of people would have sympathy for a more junior co-author who made a real contribution to the work and probably wasn’t involved with the submission. So my advice would be to leave the publications on the CV, but be prepared to talk about your role on those papers at interview. It probably won’t come up, but if it does, you’ll want to have an answer ready.

          1. fposte

            I think we’re just seeing it different ways. This really isn’t something we’d hold against the OP, even if we found out, which it’s quite likely we wouldn’t. It didn’t affect her work, and it wouldn’t be the first time somebody’s associate did something shady on their own, and it’s not recent enough for it to even make us want to dig down to be sure.

      2. M-C

        Whether a lawyer or an academic, the OP should list the article if he still thinks it’s a good one. But it seems to me that his explanation is what’s needed for step #2. Basically, if someone at the interview asks a question about that shady character, it means they’ve probably googled them, or knew about the incidents otherwise. I’d think it’d reflect favorably on the OP to 1) know what happened 2) express disapproval of that person’s behavior (and even just awareness of what’s wrong) 3) stand by his work. Slip in a little “you can imagine why I haven’t worked with him since grad school, alas”. Just show you understand ethics :-). And good luck in your search!

    4. MK

      I agree about #2. There is just no way I am going to believe that this person decided to call me all on their own to offer a reference out of the goodness of their hearts; it’s going to be obvious that the OP prompted or pushed this person to do it.

      1. Cranberry

        Once, one of the top people in my field — a famous name — who happened to know my work from an internship, of all things, placed just such a call after hearing I was a finalist for a certain position. She didn’t hear of my candidacy from me, and it had never even crossed my mind that this person might ever be a reference or that I should even ask.

        1. MK

          Oh, I am not saying this could never happen. Just that it is so unusual, it will be viewed with suspicion.

        2. cuppa

          Actually, I think that is pretty cool, and perhaps the name gives more clout to the reference? Also, if it’s unsolicited, I think that carries much more weight than a candidate asking a reference to make the contact. If I ever did that (which I’ve never done and I’m not famous), I would emphasize that it was unsolicited.

    5. INTP

      My concern is this: “A quick Google search of my name and my former professor’s will turn up his issues, especially the article where he and I are now the only two authors owing to the aforementioned dispute.”

      If I read this, I would question whether (not assume that, but question whether), the OP was also involved in the fraud/dispute, since the OP’s name is still on the paper. It wouldn’t be too unusual for someone to google the name of an article that a candidate has written out of curiosity, and any publicity about the article would come up. It really sucks for the OP that this professor has possibly tarnished the credibility of her work, though.

      1. Ann without an e

        Reputation matters, and I learned the hard way how easy it is to get a bad one. I naively thought that my reputation would stand on its own, that I would be recognized for my quality of work and throughput, that if I just kept being me I would have a great personal and professional reputation. Unfortunately I had the ‘joy’ of working with a man of ill repute, I was unaware of his reputation, and ended up with a guilt by association reputation. Which was entirely based upon the fact that we work together extensively (part of job description), ate together at departmental lunches (as members of the same department), and an unfortunate joke he told (border line EEO complaint worthy). Do not risk your reputation by being associated with all of his personal and professional issues, assume that people will jump the shark with their assumptions, burn the bridge, pick a hill and run.

        1. Mephyle

          Your situation was quite different from the OP’s, though. OP is no longer associated with the person, so no running needs to be done. On the other hand, the paper is on the record for anyone who searches to find.
          How can a co-author disassociate themself? The most extreme move in academia, contacting the journal to ask to be taken off a paper published ten years ago, wouldn’t rewrite history or nullify the searches that would turn up the original version.
          Proactively mentioning it before one’s asked would sound like the proverbial “protesting too much”.

      2. LW #1

        I had no role in any of it. In the press coverage of the incident, I was mentioned once by name in a parenthetical to acknowledge that I was also a co-author.

    6. Cath in Canada

      On #2: I got my last job in part because of a former supervisor proactively talking to the hiring manager, without me asking her to. (They’re part of the same organisation, but it’s a massive place where different departments operate essentially independently from each other, and she didn’t know the hiring manager – he was very new at that time). I’d told her I was applying for the job, and asked her to be a reference; she enthusiastically agreed, and asked me to let her know when I’d submitted my application. I found out at my subsequent interview that she’d shown up in the hiring manager’s office about 20 minutes after he received my application email, telling him that he’d be an idiot not to hire me. (His words, I don’t know what hers were). I did also have experience that no other applicants shared, so I can’t give her all the credit, but I certainly give her some of it!

  2. Artemesia

    #3. When all about you are getting raises and you are doing good work, more work and being praised for your work and not being properly compensated, you are getting a very strong message that they don’t have respect for you and think they can take advantage of you indefinitely. They also probably underestimate your value and see you as someone easily replaced. You are not necessarily a doormat but they are treating you like one; you have tried to assert yourself on this and have been rebuffed.

    Before even asking again, I’d put some serious effort into identifying possible opportunities to move on. Just knowing what your chances are will change the way you look at your situation.

    1. TOC

      I thought OP’s company might really not have the budget to give her a raise… until I got to the part about everyone else getting raises. OP, that’s a pretty clear sign that your boss just isn’t making your compensation a priority for whatever reason. It’s time to read the signs and decide whether or not you’re willing to leave for more pay.

    2. LizNYC

      I stayed at my Old Job too long for other reasons, but the MAIN reason I left was because I’d been working hard for years, taking on additional duties and greatly expanding my original job description–and didn’t get a raise for 4 years. I was told the “budget” was really tight, yet I knew other people were getting them. I, too, was constantly praised by my manager, her manager and colleagues. In the end, it took me handing in my two weeks’ notice before someone said “If it’s about money, we can find more for you.” Um, no thanks, it shows you didn’t value me to begin with.

    3. Mike B.

      +1

      These aren’t great bosses, they’re great at laying on the charm. Great bosses see that their strong employees are paid what they deserve.

    4. M-C

      I totally agree you’ll get into the next round of negotiation on a much better footing if you have an accurate idea of what you’re really doing is worth, OP. But can I make an additional suggestion? If you get the “some other time” runaround, I’d answer something like “oh, I understand budget can be a problem. But in that case, why not give me the FREE upgrade to my title that my taking on so much more justifies?”. And then lay out your case for what your expanded duties should really be called, so you at least get into the possible job search on a much better footing.

  3. Student

    I am paid a salary way below market value for my work.

    I know my work is valued and I’m praised pretty often.

    So, your work is valued… at a rate you think is insufficient. You’re accepting partial payment in complements. What needs to be fed more, your bank account or your ego?

    1. Sandy

      I don’t think the ego comment is entirely fair. A bad boss can affect way more than just your ego, including your career prospects afterwards, your mental and physical health, your confidence, etc.

      Obviously, this particular case isn’t a straight-up trade-off between good boss-bad pay and crappy boss-good pay, but to put it down to ego only seems simplistic at best.

      1. Artemesia

        I agree Sandy — it is more complicated than that although being patronizing is pretty common in situations like this where bosses are happy to pay people who accept that as little as possible. She may have constraints on her life like inability to move which make it easier to exploit her, or the other virtues of the workplace are worth it to take a low salary. I am not among those who think you are fairly compensated just because you can’t do better.

      2. OP#3

        you hit it on the nose. I have been verbally and physically abused by past bosses and I’m still recovering a bit. It makes me pretty risk-averse. Thanks for everyone’s advice and for yours, Allison. I can see trying one more time to have a candid conversation where I’m less passive about things.

        1. The IT Manager

          The only thing I would add to Alison’s advice is before the next conversation about compensation prepare a response/question to your boss’s explanation that it’s not in the budget related to asking why your raise is not in the budget but others received plenty of raises and rewards. It doesn’t have to be adversarial, but point out that that’s why his someday answer is not entirely believable.

          1. Cheesehead

            And if he brings out the “it’s not in the budget” excuse, I would ask him why it was never PUT in the budget, since you’ve asked about it many times before?

            You’ve never received a raise even though you’ve been there for a while, and you’ve also taken on more responsibility. It’s common workplace practice to give people raises for things like that (length of time in a job, increased responsibility). And you’ve asked about it! He knows you’re concerned about it! With all of that, the ‘not in the budget’ excuse just doesn’t hold water; it should have been put in the budget long ago. Something isn’t right there.

            Think about it…with time passing and your increased responsibilities, you’re actually being paid LESS now than when you started. Praise is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills. And face it…that IS the main reason why people work. So expecting regular increases in compensation to go along with your good work ethic, tenure with the company and increased responsibilities is NOT out of line at all.

            At this point, I would really try to get a timeline out of him. Keep stating your points; your good reviews, your shining moments, your successful projects, your good work ethic, your increased responsibility. Tell him that with all of that, the empty promises of ‘someday’ to even get you to a fair market rate for your compensation are really making you feel devalued and taken advantage of. You have to gauge if you want to bring other people and their raises into it, because that could be a can of worms or it could be a point in your favor.

            And see what’s out there. You never know….you found this company once. You could find another good one again….one that would actually pay you what you’re worth.

            1. Burlington

              Actually, beyond a certain minimum level (which I can’t attest to whether OP makes or not, but is generally, on average, around $50K) studies indicate that money becomes much less important to job satisfaction than things like challenge, autonomy, work environment, and being praised for one’s work. If OP is having trouble paying the bills, that’s one thing, but if they’re only dissatisfied with their wage because they know others are getting raises (which is totally understandable), it could be that OP is much better off staying put.

              OP should definitely take steps (candid convo with boss, see what else might be out there, etc), but given OP’s past experience, he/she should definitely try not to be swayed by other people’s experience, and really focus on what they want to get out of their workplace.

              1. Koko

                But those studies are about whether there’s a correlation between salary and job satisfaction, and found that beyond a certain salary (I thought it was $75K) workers aren’t significantly more satisfied by increases in salary. That’s looking across industries and job levels–it doesn’t address the demoralizing effect of knowing one is underpaid for their work. It’s one thing to make $75,000 in a field/career level where most people make $75,000-$80,000. At that point, getting to $80K or $85K probably won’t affect job satisfaction. But it’s a different thing to make $75K in a field/career level where most people make $100K. At that point the money itself isn’t the issue causing the dissatisfaction, but the compensation level is a proxy for how appreciated and respected the employee feels, so job satisfaction could be increased by a raise by resolving those feelings of being unappreciated and disrespected.

              2. Mike B.

                I think that finding is certainly applicable to some people–particularly married middle-class people with families whose circumstances aren’t going to change dramatically if their combined income goes up 10K, but who would find it a huge relief to have WFH privileges and extra PTO.

                As a single guy in early middle age, it’s MONEY for me. I would be content to take a considerable downgrade in my quality of life at work if it meant shaving years off my debt repayment schedule, beefing up my 401K, or enabling me to go see more Broadway shows.

          2. Anon Accountant

            IT Manager will you please suggest wording as to “why is your raise not in the budget but others received raises and rewards”? It may be helpful to the OP to have some suggested wording to use. Thank you in advance.

            1. The IT Manager

              I am not the most political or verbal person so I would not necessarily recommend taking my advice here, but here goes.

              You’ve said that before, but collegues have recieved raises since we’ve begun discussing my concerns. Why are their raises in the budget but mine is not?

              That’s still rough. Maybe you can use it as a starting point. And hopefully someone else can offer an even better way to say it.

              Point of practice is to make it smooth and not be overly accusing when asking.

              1. Burlington

                It could help to phrase it as a constructive question: “I know that a lot of my colleagues have gotten raises in the time I’ve been here , and I know that the organization has been doing really well. Can you tell me what I need to do to get a raise into the budget soon?”

          3. Seattle writer girl

            I tried that approach (why them & not me?). Only explanation I was given: “well, that’s a different situation.”

            I’d sure love to know why!

        2. Barbara in Swampeast

          And make sure you do not even imply a threat of “I want a raise or else I’m leaving!” That would diminish your position and make things more adversarial. Keep the conversation all about why you deserve a raise.

        3. Anon Accountant

          I’d ask for a timeline as to when a raise would be effective. “We discussed this and when do you envision a raise being effective?” or put your own wording on it. If your boss hems and gives you a dazzle story about “Well…. You are a good employee but it’s not in the budget etc.” then there’s you answer unfortunately. I’d email a summary of what was discussed “Bob as we talked today about a raise based upon the results we obtained from the teapot restructuring project, new teapot design, etc. I’d like to summarize what we discussed” and summarize what was talked about and ask if s/he needs to add anything to the discussion notes.

          If/when you accept a position for more money and IF your boss says “Sarah if I’d have known you felt underpaid I’d have addressed that before” then that email is great documentation. “Well we had talked about it but it wasn’t in the budget…”. If you are comfortable doing that but that last part is up to you.

          1. Burlington

            I think keeping personal notes on stuff like this could be useful, but at the point you’re leaving, if your boss says that, you don’t gain anything by “proving” them wrong. You can just say “I did bring it up, multiple times, and you stated it wasn’t in the budget. It became clear it would never be in the budget, so I left.” But, like, even if you convince them that they are in the wrong, it’s not like that will convince them to counter-offer you (though I suppose in OP’s case, since money is truly the make-or-break issue, this could be one of the rare times that taking a counter-offer is good!)

            But even still, I’d say that keeping documentation is a bit adversarial. It doesn’t give OP any more leverage, and it comes off a bit weird to bring it up when giving notice. Keep notes for yourself so you don’t forget/have an idea of timing, but don’t try to prove your boss wrong on your last day. :)

            1. Camellia

              Documentation is useful because OP can go back and review it as a reality check. Sometimes our memory can blur about how many times something was discussed, exactly what was said, etc. Maybe we can convince ourselves that it’s not as bad as it seems or the boss really did promise such-and-such. Then we look at the documentation and say, “Good grief, I really did bring this up seven times, maybe it really is time to leave!”

            2. Anon Accountant

              I’ll admit to being biased and basing that off a former boss that would lie so much he must’ve used a database to keep his lies straight. He’d get to the point where he’d put things in writing and accuse you of lying to “make him look bad”. It was great when you were able to call him out on some things with “well yes we did talk about chocolate teapots”. Admittedly a raise discussion when leaving may not be the best time to produce documentation of that nature. Chalk it up to a workplace fantasy of mine with a former boss. :)

              1. Burlington

                Oh, yeah, and I totally get that. There’d be a deep satisfaction with being able to produce the emails and say “look! You totally DID know, and you chose not to!” But it just probably wouldn’t help much. :)

        4. John

          At one point in my career, I had to push really hard to get the money I deserved. My boss’s inaction pushed me over the edge and you could say I was, ahem, exceedingly direct, tersely recounting to him what he’d told me in the past and how that hadn’t come to pass and I didn’t understand why given my strong performance. I made it clear that I expected a concrete plan with amounts and dates.

          The following Monday he called me into his office and said it was a good thing I’d had that talk with him because HR wasn’t planning to give me a very big raise at all in the next cycle. Say, what??? He’s admitting he let HR completely control my compensation??? Anyway, thanks to me taking a stand, they gave me the raise I deserved almost immediately.

        5. PurpleMonkeyDishwasher

          What about bringing in hard numbers as backup for a raise to market rate? (I’m thinking reports on salaries in the industry/your area, identical job postings at other companies with salary listed, etc.). My spouse, when he took over his department, had a number of really great team members making way below market, mainly because they failed to negotiate a market-rate salary upfront when getting hired* and the standard raise per year absent serious manager intervention was limited to a certain percent. The way he got them brought up to market (after initially being told it “wasn’t in the budget”) was with hard numbers. It’s funny how all those raises were suddenly “in the budget” when he laid out for the decision-makers how much it would cost to hire a comparable replacement if any of these team members left.

          I’m definitely not suggesting that you phrase the conversation as “pay me market or I’m leaving,” but, assuming your boss alone doesn’t have final decision-making authority regarding raises, it may help to give your boss some objective measures to bring to conversations about your salary (and if your boss does have final authority on raises, it may still help your boss justify a big salary bump for you to him/herself).

          *Fun fact, all of these team members were women and half were non-white. Gotta love how “they didn’t negotiate hard enough when we hired them” became justification for institutional racism and sexism. Because there are no historical, societal, or cultural reasons why women/minorities wouldn’t “negotiate hard.” Nope, none at all. So it’s totally cool not to pay people market rates, because hey, they didn’t make us give it to them, amiright? ::Eyeroll:: Very pleased my spouse intervened to fix this particular farce.

          1. ThursdaysGeek

            Add to that the fact that salary negotiation is not a basic part of most jobs. You can be great at your job, but you’re penalized for being poor at something you almost never have to do.

    2. Merry and Bright

      So long as your employers can afford it, they should always pay you a fair/market salary for your work. There is no good reason not to. Always noting that fair and market might not always be the same thing.

  4. Jeanne

    #3, I think you are only a doormat if you agree to be one. If you are satisfied with your life the way it is right now, this job and this salary, then keep it. If you are not satisfied, then push back on the salary or look for a job or both. If you are making a conscious choice, you are not a doormat.

    My suspicion is you have been too passive in these conversations. May I have a raise? I’ll look into it. Ok thanks. That kind of thing. It may be time to be honest. Tell your boss why you believe you are underpaid. Tell him, politely, that you are very unsatisfied with the situation and would like to know what he can do for real. This is if he really is a decent manager and will listen. If not, tell him when you give notice why you are leaving.

    1. ScottySmalls

      Plus 1

      Try asking for a raise again. Make sure to follow Allison’s advice on how to ask for a raise. Good luck!

  5. Apollo Warbucks

    #3 I spent 12 months telling my old boss I was massively underpaid and he did nothing about it, I handed in my notice and all of a sudden he finds the money for a raise and a training course I asked about going on. I told my old boss it was to little to late and he should’ve been more bothered retaining me before I was so pissed off I was looking to leave.

    I bet your manager knows you are underpaid but doesn’t see a reason to address the issue, put your skills to market and see what salary you cam command.

    1. Anon Accountant

      +1

      This made me smile at how it worked out for you. Amazing how that money for a raise suddenly appeared when you were resigning. I’m thinking the same may happen for OP3 but hope a raise shows up in her paycheck before that.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        They froze the salaries across the department the year before and I was very vocal about my displeasure.
        I had taken on a lot more responsibility so didn’t agree with not get a raise as I’d been promoted rather than wanting a general increase.

      2. Cautionary tail

        I’ve been in the middle of this. I had an extraordinary employee who was paid way below market. He regularly put in 80 hours a week and when his pay was divided by hours worked he was making below minimum wage. As his boss I went to bat for him earnestly pushing for a raise but the family who owned the business just laughed at raises. I was candid with the employee throughout the process, many months.

        Eventually the employee found another job and as soon as he did so the family “found” another $20k. He asked me if he should stay or go and I directed him to Google (I didn’t know about AAM then) to see what experts had to say. I already knew the answer and later that week when he turned in his two week notice I wished him well in his new job.

    2. BRR

      At that point a raise is insulting. Why stay at a place where you weren’t valued until you were ready to leave? Either there really isn’t money in the budget and a good manager would try and make it up in other ways or there is money for it and they were being cheap.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        I wouldn’t have stayed by that point anyway I was fed up of being insulted my salary was a joke. The market rate for my job was 20% – 30% more than I was on and my co-worker who did a very similar job was on $15,000 more than me.(They absolutely deserved to be paid more than me, but the such a massive difference in salary was not reasonable)

        I’ve always had a lot of time and respect for my old boss. Without doubt the best person I have ever worked for, but I spent 12 month trying to have a conversation about my salary that was ignored and avoided constantly.

    3. Felicia

      That happened to my sister too. They offered her a 20% raise when before she said she was leaving , they said there was no money for any raise for like 3 years.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        They must have realised what it would cost to replace her, the salary for her replacement would probably be higher then by the time you add on recruitment costs and account for they lost productivity it costs a lot more than the raise being asked for in the first place.

    4. Michele

      I magically got a promotion that wasn’t in the budget once because I applied for a position in another department.

      1. Windchime

        Alison, *why* do employers do this? Several people have shared tales of employers refusing to give raises/promotions until someone is ready to walk out the door, and then they essentially make a counter-offer. Maybe there isn’t a way to generalize the answer but I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

        1. down by the river

          Part of it has to be that employers don’t think about the cost to replace someone. Like a few people have pointed out already cost of recruiting, lost productivity for someone not being in the job and having to pay a new person market rate can add up. I don’t think many employers break down the cost like this when they are thinking about it or think of each cost separately rather than the total cost. It can just be habit thinking that the person wont leave or that they can get away with it because they have so far. This is the cousin of not paying people market because they did not negotiate in the first place.

        2. AGirlCalledFriday

          I’m thinking that it has to do with upper management being more distant from their employees. We tend to see our own financial worth and maybe the worth of our coworkers, our direct managers see our worth but also the worth of the department. Upper management sees everything as a whole – usually not nearly enough money for everything they want to do. So you want a raise, your direct manager might go to bat for you for it – but upper management sees that while a raise would be nice, that money could also be used for X,Y, and Z. Upper management that really prioritizes their employees or who are down in the trenches often and know their employees personally are more likely to respond, but those who are distant might just see this as something else that needs money thrown at it.

        3. Mike B.

          In the more cynical instances, employers realize that productivity would suffer in the time it would take to hire and fully train a replacement, and conclude that it would be better to pay the departing employee a higher salary for the few weeks or months it would take to do so, then fire the person to rid themselves of an employee who had one foot out the door anyway.

          I’d steer clear of counteroffers unless you have an exceptionally good relationship with your employer. There’s a decent chance you’ll be left high and dry–no job, no offer, and not even a good reference.

      2. Dynamic Beige

        That didn’t happen to me, but it did to a coworker.

        One year, I was told flat out in my review that there was no money for raises, I knew the company wasn’t doing so well at that time and hadn’t been expecting any. I then found out that certain people were given bumps of 10%. When I went to leave, no one offered me anything to stay. Partly I think because it was pretty obvious that I was unhappy and partly because they didn’t value my contribution (a contribution I was sick of making and was never going to change or expand — by their design). Like you, OP, it was kind of an abusive environment and it took some time to get over… although I’m not sure I could ever be an employee again like that because of that experience.

        Your company is counting on your passivity. They don’t want to pay you any more than they absolutely have to and so long as you just “take it”, they are perfectly fine with that. You don’t owe them your loyalty. As has been suggested, start working on your resumé, sum up your accomplishments and start searching for a new job, you have the luxury that you know the one you have is safe right now, so you have plenty of time to search. Your company may change their tune when you tell them you’re leaving and all of a sudden there’s money and promotions, which you may or may not opt to take. There may also be nothing but a “we wish you well” at the end of it. Either way, IMO, you’re better off getting out as they have repeatedly shown you that they do not perceive you to be as valuable as other employees and nothing is going to change that. No one can take advantage of you without your permission — so stop giving it.

  6. Tabby

    Re #5 – I would simply inform my supervisor that I would be taking my ‘snow day’ off on a different day when Idon’t have much going on (ie not another payroll day.) Arguing that you don’t deserve it would look absurd.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I wouldn’t do that — I would look askance at someone who tried that. There’s no entitlement to snow days, unfortunately. Sometimes your job requires that you work on a day most of your office is shut down for weather, and it’s rare that you get to make that day up later. (In D.C., this is highlighted all the time when the federal government closes for snow “except for essential workers.” Those essential workers don’t get to make up the snow day later.)

      1. Tabby

        Legally, sure. I hear you. I believe you. However, if employees aren’t willing to stand up for themsleves against ridiculous and unfair stuff like this, then bs gets to continue. It might ruffle a feather or two, but I would still do it.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          But I’m not talking about legally — I’m talking about what’s considered normal practice and reasonable to expect. Most managers aren’t going to think that insisting on a make-up day is reasonable. Sometimes you get stuck working on a day others are off; that’s just the nature of some jobs.

          1. Tabby

            Sure it is. But it sounds incredibly unfair that the employee being asked to work while everyone else gets a free, unexpected day off doesn’t get an extra day off at another time. As an employer I would feel like a giant heel if I pulled that. And if employees are afraid for thei jobs over things like expecting to be treated fairly, then there’s a bigger problem there.

            1. Jen RO

              As a manager, I would not *fire* something over this kind of attitude, but it would definitely make me watch out for other signs of problems. You can’t just go out and tell your manager that you have decided to take a day off because the other kids stayed home.

              1. Arbynka

                Yes. Also, if OP did get for example time and a half in pay, there might be letter “I had to take snow day, I was paid, by co-worker had laptop provided and was paid time and a half. I think that is not fair. Why wasn’t I given the option ? I would have worked for time and a half. ” ‘Fair” is often colored by perception and conclusion tends to be subjective.

                1. Apollo Warbucks

                  ”‘Fair” is often coloured by perception and conclusion tends to be subjective.

                  Too true

            2. Dan

              I learned that life isn’t “fair” when I was in Kindergarten. And I don’t think this is BS at all. What would be BS is if the other employees didn’t get paid on time because the payroll clerk wouldn’t take a laptop home and do payroll ontime like they’re supposed to. *That* would be wrong.

              Snow days aren’t about giving people an extra vacation day. In the strictest sense, they’re for offices that 1) Physically can’t be open because the roads/parking lot/sidewalks can’t get plowed, or 2) The roads are so hazardous that employees would take an undue risk coming into the office when it wasn’t completely necessary. In distant third place, I suppose they also make sense for someone who would be so grossly inefficient, and charging time to a client, that the ethical thing to do is for the company to eat the cost instead of charging a client for work that really wasn’t performed well.

              Should teleworkers get the day off when the main office is closed for snow? Sure, I guess it makes sense when there are only two teleworkers on your payroll. But what happens when teleworkers make up 20% of your staff? Should the 20 guys who can get work done get paid not to do so because 100 people can’t get to the office? What happens when your company has two offices with an equivalent amount of staff? You can’t draw a “fair” line here.

              The idiot here is the boss who gave the day off carte blanche to the whole office. I take that back if the boss runs a factory that requires people to be in the office to work.

              In my line of work, we can easily work from home. DC doesn’t get offices closed for snow much more than once a year, and we can go a couple of years even without a closing. A few years back, the company closed the office and gave everybody a snow day… and the next year, the company wised up and said the office is closed, but you were expected to 1) Work from home, 2) Flex time, or if all else fails, go talk to your manager, explain why you can’t do 1 or 2, and only then would you get the paid day off.

              *Side note: Work from home isn’t just an “employee” benefit. It benefits employers too, in exactly these kinds of scenarios. Would they rather pay overhead money and have people not work, or would they rather give people a little flexibility so that closing the office in these scenarios doesn’t crater productivity?

              1. Emily

                DC doesn’t get offices closed for snow much more than once a year, and we can go a couple of years even without a closing.

                Really? We follow OPM and last year our office was closed so many days for such trivial amounts of snow that at our annual staff retreat in June, during the talent/sketch show portion of the event, the New York, Boston, and Colorado offices cracked multiple jokes about how many snow days the DC office took last year!

                1. Dan

                  Both of my employers over the last several years have worked on behalf of the federal government, and no, we don’t follow OPM.

                  But since both employers have been telework friendly, I’m not sure that “closed for snow” and “taking snow days” are the same thing. Several years back, employer #1 gave out an admin leave code for the snow day, and quickly wised up.

                2. Emily

                  At our office, a snow day means the office is closed. Different departments and managers handle that differently – some teams get the day off, others telecommute on snow days. Though, for teams that telecommute, the productivity standards are loosened to something like, “Be responsive to email and don’t miss any deadlines,” in recognition of things like parents having to care for children home from school, people having to go out and shovel their walks/driveways, that inclement weather is sometimes accompanied by power outages, that many vendors and partners might be closed for the day, and that folks who don’t regularly telework aren’t as fully equipped for productivity at home. (Routine teleworkers are required to have dedicated work area in their home with a reliable dedicated high-speed connections and a dedicated landline and are either encouraged or required to have a printer/scanner and second monitor, depending on the nature of their job. Occasional teleworkers just have their laptops and might be sharing a slow WiFi connection from the couch of their studio apartment.)

              2. AGirlCalledFriday

                I think it’s actually better for morale to give the entire office a snow day, rather than requiring some work while others don’t. However, I think it goes with the following disclaimers: that if you have a time-sensitive task to complete you must do so, and that people are welcome to telework by their own choice. I find a lot of people will choose to work – which begs the question, how does the OP know that no one besides her worked that day?

            3. MK

              I think you are missing two major points:

              1) You say “Arguing that you don’t deserve it would look absurd”, but the manager doesn’t have to make arguments about it. They could simply say no and have the day you took as compensation for the snow day taken out of you PTO or not pay you for it (if they can do that). That you would feel it is unfair and like a heel is irrelevant, since the OP’s manager obviously doesn’t think so.

              2) To decide unilateraly that you will take an extra day off is something that would rub any employer the wrong way, even if they agree that the employee deserves it. The nature of being an employee is such that you are not in charge, your boss is; having an employee behave as if they can do as they like is a bigger issue than one day off. No boss is going to agree to that, because it would make managing impossible.

              Also, about fairness: this is not the employee being treated unfairly, this is just luck of the draw. The snow day happened to fall not on payroll day, but on, say, the date they order supplies, it would have been another employee working. By your logic, if in employee A’s shift the work was crazy and in employee B’s only two customers showed up, there would have to be additional compensation. That’s not how it works, because things tend to even out over time.

              That being said, there are a few other considerations: The OP mentions they handle payroll. Is that a different position than their coworkers (with perhaps a higher salary)? If so, I can understand the manager feeling that it is part of their duties to have to always complete their work, for which they are already compensated or at least aggreed to. Second, the OP doesn’t mention how long this took them; if it was the whole working day, I can understand the OP’s frustration, but if it was only an hour or so, I can understand the manager laughing. And, lastly, the OP doesn’t make clear if they asked for more money or an extra day off; I think the latter is reasonable, but demanding additional wages for something like that would strike me as odd.

              I was given a laptop and told to ensure that payroll was submitted on time

              1. LMN

                “Also, about fairness: this is not the employee being treated unfairly, this is just luck of the draw.”

                Except that in this case, the manager can mitigate the imbalance in time off. The luck can be explicitly compensated for by giving someone a day off.

                1. fposte

                  But then it’s unfair to the other people, who didn’t get that option. It’s not leveling the playing field.

                2. MK

                  Actually, no. As others have suggested, if the OP gets additional time off, they will have gained something more than their coworkers: they will have this time to use whenever and however they want, while their coworkers were told “don’t come tomorrow”, on a day they were planning to work anyway and on which they probably could do little because of the weather.

            4. Allison

              I get what you’re saying, but the important distinction is that the people not getting a snow day are essential staff. Typically, essential staff know they’re essential, and ideally they’d be told up front “you’ll be expected to come into work even when the weather’s bad,” so it’s not as though most people in this position are blindsided when they have to work.

              Giving these people an extra personal day or vacation day would be awesome, as would be paying these people time and a half, and it would also be great if a little extra pay and a couple extra vacation days were already built into the compensation package of essential staff, but ultimately, essential employees know what they’re in for when they accept these jobs.

              1. MK

                Sure, but something similar could be said for the OP who handles payroll; they know this part of their work will have to be done no matter what.

                1. Burlington

                  For real. When I ran payroll, even though the whole process only took a couple hours, it needed to be IN by a certain time on a certain day. If that day were a snow day, I’d still be expected to get it in. That’s the job. It’s like saying it’s unfair for a receptionist (who is expected to be at the front desk from 9 to 5) to not be able to leave early when everyone else does. Different jobs, different perks, different responsibilities.

                  And it would be just as unfair if OP got to take a random extra comp day while everyone else had to take snow day off (aka, a day they didn’t know in advance they’d have off, where lots of stuff is closed.)

                2. Allison

                  That’s what I mean, someone who works payroll should know that their job is essential, their work is time sensitive, and they should anticipate needing to work even on snow days. Complaining about it seems silly.

                3. Chinook

                  “Sure, but something similar could be said for the OP who handles payroll; they know this part of their work will have to be done no matter what.”

                  I would have thoguht that OP knows their job is essential on specific days of the month. Heck, I once had a family member have to leave the side of her dying father so she could handle phone calls about getting payroll out. Not only did she not mind doing it, neither did her father or any other family member because we all knew it was payroll and that is an important thing.

            5. JB

              No employee is treated exactly the same as every other employee. Jobs are different, and so people can’t be treated exactly the same. Some people have jobs that involve very hard deadlines (like payroll, for example), and others have tasks for which the deadlines are more flexible. Some jobs can be done from home, some can’t. Some jobs need you to be at work at very specific times, others don’t. If I didn’t get paid on time because an employee decided she didn’t want to work from home if I didn’t have to? That’s not ok.

              As a manager, I might be willing to give an extra personal day to an outstanding employee who worked a snow day, but if someone came in and told me they were taking a day whether I liked it or not because they didn’t understand that not everyone can always be treated exactly the same, that is someone I’d keep my eye on in the future for other issues, because that is someone who doesn’t get normal procedures in work places.

              And this may not be fair, but as a non-exempt employee who always works from home on snow days because I am always overworked, I don’t feel a ton of sympathy. A little bit, sure, but not much. Now if the employee had to cancel vacation plans because of a work emergency, that’s different. But requiring you to work on a day you otherwise would have worked anyway? Not so much.

            6. Colette

              If you argued that it’s not fair that you have to work and others don’t even though everyone gets paid, the easiest solution would be not to pay anyone who is not working (or does not legally have to be paid). Is that what you want to happen?

              1. Allison

                Or make everyone who wasn’t working take it out of their PTO, vacation days, or personal days if they want to get paid, which people complain about here too. The argument is that they didn’t choose to take that day off, so they shouldn’t be penalized.

                1. Colette

                  Exactly. When you complain because someone does something nice that they didn’t have to do, you just encourage them to be less nice next time.

            7. Matt

              I am just amazed by people and what they feel they are entitled to. You got paid for your work, what else do you want? In the adult world, not everything is “fair”. You are actually coming across as selfish in this regard. Should payroll have waited so you could enjoy the snow day, causing everyone to not get paid on time? I bet everyone else would be pretty pissed off that a job that could be done remotely didn’t get completed because the person responsible didn’t think it was “fair”.

              Whem it comes to payroll, you should know the expectation is that payroll is completed, regardless of weather or any other circumstances. Maybe you shouldn’t be working in payroll?

              I’m also confident you didn’t spend the whole day running payroll… are you cutting your company a check for the hours you’re getting paid but didn’t work? Of course not. Enough said.

              1. LMN

                You got paid for your work, what else do you want? In the adult world, not everything is “fair”. You are actually coming across as selfish in this regard. Should payroll have waited so you could enjoy the snow day, causing everyone to not get paid on time? I bet everyone else would be pretty pissed off that a job that could be done remotely didn’t get completed because the person responsible didn’t think it was “fair”.

                How about getting what everyone else got, i.e., getting paid for not working? If payroll is so important, maybe compensating someone “extra” for it (i.e., giving the same day off everyone else got) isn’t so unreasonable. What the current policy does is create a disincentive to step up in tough circumstances to do something for everyone else, and the manager here is perfectly capable of injecting fairness into an unfair situation.

                1. Burlington

                  There’s no way for the manager to be 100% fair. If OP gets a comp day, they get a random vacation day that they can plan for, take a long weekend with, take during nice weather, etc. Everyone else got a vacation day on a day that they probably didn’t know they were getting until that morning, where presumably a lot of stuff is closed, and which happened to fall on whichever day it fell. There’s nothing that is obviously fair here.

                  OP has a job which requires them to work at times when others might get to take off. That’s part of the job. It’s part of a lot of jobs.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  That’s just not how jobs work. Everyone doesn’t get treated precisely the same in every situation, nor is there an expectation that they should be.

                  Rightly or wrongly, the standard convention in most offices is that if you have to do some work on a snow day, you don’t get an extra day off later. You can argue that the convention should be different, but the convention is what it is. That is how this works, for better or for worse. And when something is an established convention and deeply ingrained into how offices work, it tends to go over really badly when you act entitled to the opposite.

                  I think the issue here is that Tabby just doesn’t realize that this is the convention.

                3. Ask a Manager Post author

                  I’ll also add to that: The reason this is the convention is that snow days aren’t rewards. They are practical responses to safety or logistical issues with people getting into work. When your company is doing the right thing to keep people safe but a few people have essential work that must go on, you don’t respond to that by demanding a bonus for doing your job.

                4. MK

                  ” If payroll is so important, maybe compensating someone “extra” for it (i.e., giving the same day off everyone else got) isn’t so unreasonable. ”

                  You are taking for granted that payroll is something extra that the OP does among other employees without additional compensation, which is a huge assumption to make. Unless told otherwise, there is no reason to assume the OP’s salary does not reflect that they have this important and time-sensitive respoinsibility.

            8. The IT Manager

              Life isn’t fair. Now I understand that that sucks when you are on the recieving end of the unfairness, but that’s just a fact. A job isn’t about everyone getting the same number of cupcakes for snack. If you expect life and your job to be fair, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You also look super-unreasonable if you try to tell your boss you’re making up your snow day.

              I live in Florida. Sometimes it doesn’t seem fair that all these people up north keep getting snow days. It especially feels that way when the people I work with are off for a snow day (and miss meetings), ut i’m working. It does not mean I should get a snow day too.

              Of course the company could have been fairer and only paid the LW and not paid everyone else because they didn’t work, but that leads to lots of complaints too.

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                Yeah, this is a great way of looking at it. If your company has employees all over the office, employees in Florida aren’t going to expect to get extra days off just because the Boston office closes for snow.

            9. Malissa

              Payroll is one of those unique positions that will require you to work some days, no matter what else is going on. People like to get paid for their work.
              The only time I’ve ever worked on my birthday is because it also happened to be payroll processing day that year.
              Demanding extra time off because you missed a “free” day off is showing that you have no concept of the job and are not a team player. Asking nicely about having some flex time off when payroll isn’t due, because you put in the extra effort is totally reasonable.

              1. LBK

                +1 to this. There are certain positions that you should be aware will be required to work outside normal 9-5, M-F, office is open hours. This kind of contingency should be built into your consideration for accepting the job, including whether your salary is commensurate with the idea that your hours might be extended. If you don’t feel you’re already being paid enough for the added responsibility of having to work when others aren’t, that’s a whole separate issue than feeling you’re owed extra PTO or money for doing the job you signed up for.

            10. Koko

              The difference here is the snow day wasn’t given for the purpose of being a benefit or perk. The office was closed due to weather making it unsafe to travel in–a business reason. That some employees got the day off was a tertiary side benefit. It’s not like they were awarded an extra day off for merit or morale-boosting or compensation and the OP was denied that perk. They simply weren’t able to work that day due to the office closure, but OP was able to work remotely. This is very routine for IT workers and maintenance workers, among other professions.

      2. Student

        The essential workers thing is actually not what you think, at least in my federal contractor job.

        We get occasional orders to not report in to work, except for designated essential personnel, due to weather conditions. Our weather usually consists of tumbleweeds instead of snow, but it’s the same basic problem.

        When that happens, the non-exempt employees get to bill a special charge code for the hours they miss. The exempt employees, like me, have to either figure out a way to do work from home or we don’t get to charge those hours at all. So nearly everyone except the “essential personnel” has unpaid time off – no snow days on the government’s payroll.

        1. Cat

          I don’t think that applies to full time government employees though, who do get paid snow days. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong though.

          1. De Minimis

            Yeah I don’t know how it works for contractors but we are given “administrative leave” any time we are closed for weather, so it is essentially a free paid vacation day. So yes, the federal government does pay for snow days…

            For us the “essential worker” thing comes into play when there’s a government shutdown, it basically means we don’t get to stay home when the government is shut down and we have to report for work as normal.

            1. HeyNonnyNonny

              Contractors also get administrative leave…depending on the contracting company. Yes, some companies actually do not pay workers for days the government is closed.

              1. Burlington

                And, like, that’s not inherently unfair either. It’s often easy to make the argument, as an employer, that you shouldn’t have to pay someone when they’re not working. Of course, there are lots of laws in play, but as a basic concept, that’s pretty sound.

                1. Aunt Vixen

                  Two jobs ago, I worked for an entity that had federal contracts – but the majority of its employees were not on those projects. When the place closed for weather, it closed, and we were not allowed to come to work. We could have worked from home but were not expected to, because the place was closed. We got administrative leave on such occasions (when we were prevented from coming in).

                  My in-between job was with a large contracting company where most people were indeed on federal contracts. If the place had closed and we had been prevented from coming in, we might have been granted admin leave (the company had offices in Colorado where people were affected by the flooding a couple of years ago, for example; I think they treated people okay and didn’t make them take PTO when they’d just lost their homes), but everyone I knew said in their many years of experience they had never known our particular building to close. “Snowmageddon” 2010, three feet of snow in one day? You’re entirely free to call out if you can’t get in, but you’re going to be taking leave for it. There was no teleworking for security reasons.

                  At my present job, once again on a federal contract, we are encouraged to ship ourselves work by e-mail if it looks like weather is coming, because if the building closes and the feds get admin leave, we get nothing. The explanation is that our company can’t pay us for time it can’t bill to the customer. (Our vacation and sick leave is built into the budget. Paying us for other “free” time is not.) Sucks, but completely adds up. The difference between this contract and the one two jobs ago where we got all that admin leave is that the old one was a deliverables contract and this one is time & materials. As my manager put it, we are basically very expensive temps. If we don’t work, they don’t get paid, and if they don’t get paid, neither do we. Simple as that.

          2. Former Fed

            Many feds still get to take administrative leave when the government closes for snow, but this is slowly changing. Some feds who are telework-eligible are required to telework when the government is closed for snow; right now, this varies by agency and is not government-wide. My fed husband, for example, gets administrative leave the first day the govt closes for snow, but has to telework if possible on subsequent consecutive snow days.

            And this “if possible” policy means that some people will have to work, and others with children at home/no power/etc don’t have to. We don’t have kids who would be home to care for on a snow day, but he (and I) find the policy totally reasonable. He also missed 2010’s snowmageddon days off because he was traveling for work that week and managed to get on a plane during the first snow day. Again, totally reasonable.

            1. De Minimis

              The good news for us is that telework is not really possible for most employees here…I was permitted to do it once, I’m probably one of the few here whose work is compatible with telework, but only because it was a rare circumstance.

          1. Student

            We are exempt, but have to charge our time in a time-card system. Missing a day doesn’t decrease my monthly paycheck. However, at the end of the year, I owe my employer XYZ charged hours, and if I don’t meet that goal, I can be disciplined/denied raises/fired. If my current total annual hours vary by more than X% amount off my target hours for any given week, I can also face discipline up to firing.

            So on snow days, I have to make them up later, or telecommute, or burn a vacation day, or similar.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      I totally agree that it’s something the op could ask for, and I’d be happy to agree to the request if I was their manager.

      That siad there’s no way the op should inform their supervisory theyll be taking the day off another time, additional PTO is a benefit and an employee can not unilaterally increase that benefit. To do so would make the op look foolish and like they don’t understand normal business conventions.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger

      The other employees weren’t given the snow day as a reward or because they deserved it, though – they got a snow day because presumably it was dangerous to get to the office and the work couldn’t be done remotely. No one “deserved” the snow day. It would be nice of the employer to offer time off to the OP, but it would definitely be a bonus, not something earned.

      It may help the OP feel better to remember that a snow day isn’t like a regular vacation day. You do get to sleep in or catch up on household chores or Netflix, but you probably can’t go out of the house much because of the weather – and you can’t use it to make a trip longer or anything like that.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        Agreeing with all the points made here re: snow days not being “earned” or “deserved”. Also, it sounds as if the OP was accommodated for the snow day by being given a company laptop instead of being required to be physically present at work. Her physical safety was considered, and that is the point of a snow day. And payroll is a “show-must-go-on” type of job duty; better to work from home on that than be forever remembered as the person who made everyone’s paycheck late through some misguided sense of “unfairness”.

      2. Koko

        And for parents, a snow day often means the kids are home for the day, too. Depending on how old/self-sufficient the kids are, the parent may not even be able to get much extra sleep or chores done if they’re busy caring for a kid or two.

        1. AGirlCalledFriday

          Just what I was coming to say. We don’t know what added responsibilities people have – kids, elderly relatives, anyone with a disability. If it’s a snow day, it’s more than likely that any arrangement previously made are cancelled. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to sit on the couch watching Harry Potter movies all day with a mug of cocoa. Though that does sound pretty grand – perhaps my upcoming weekend plans? ;)

      3. Merry and Bright

        Yes, and at least OP#5 doesn’t work for an employer that insists on its staff making an hours long, dangerous journey on icy roads. Much rather work from home on a day like that whatever coworkers are doing.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Arguing that you don’t deserve it would look absurd.

      I wouldn’t think of arguing it. If someone approached me as you suggest, what I’d think is that they are a poor match for our company going forward.

      We pay people, even hourly non-exempt people, for a full day during a snow day or even for an entire week during Hurricane Sandy. We don’t charge the day. Even though a closed day loses us a lot of money (those sales never come back so think in six figures), we still pay people for the day of work because “we’re all in this together” is part of our culture.

      Someone complaining that they have to work on a day they are paid to work can find a job elsewhere, and I don’t care who they are or what they do in the company.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Amen. I think of snow days as a “gift”. If I get a paid snow day that is the company’s way of encouraging me to stay with them. If I could do something from home I would be happy to do that knowing my company’s generous attitude toward me and those around me. (If you have ever worked with employees that are forced to go to work you know how crabby everyone gets. It can turn nice workplaces into hell.)
        This Monday my boss told me in no uncertain terms- STAY HOME. When I went to work, I did not wait for her to say anything, I let her know that I am coming in an extra day this week to make up for lost time. She smiled.
        Relationships are a back and a forth. Sometimes you get the benefit and other times the boss gets the benefit. If one party in the relationship stops giving, then the relationship becomes lopsided and unfair. In OPs setting, I would have taken the lap top, completed the work and said nothing. Simply because I would figure my turn will come. Something will come up that I will desperately need accommodation for (ex: car suddenly breaks down) and my boss will remember “Oh yeah, NSNR worked from home on a snow day when no one else worked. Therefore, I am going to allow her time to deal with Current Problem and I am not going to worry about it.” I have had this happen a lot over the years and I really appreciated the flexibility on my boss’ part.

        Any relationship in life can look lopsided from time to time. It is important to keep the long term perspective in view.

      2. Merry and Bright

        Yes. Also, depending on the organization, not everyone’s job can be done from home anyway. In any case not all staff get issued with company laptops etc.

    5. BRR

      Informing your supervisor you’re taking time off is a bad idea unless you have established they are ok with it. In this particular instance you could ask for flex time. While it does suck the OP may have not been the only person who had to do work at home. A snow day is about when it’s dangerous to travel to the office. There is a sense of entitlement about them that they’re an extra vacation day but it’s about safety.

    6. AmyNYC

      I wouldn’t state it that way, but what’s the harm in *asking*?
      “Since I had to cover payroll last week while everyone else got a snowday, could I take a comp day this week?” Worst case, they say no, but you can start a conversation about it at least.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        The harm in asking for a comp day for working on a day that you were paid to work? The idea that someone would think themselves entitled to a comp day for working on a work day is bizarre.

        Fortunately, this has never happened in my world, never once has anyone ever asked that.

        What does happen is that when there’s an emergency day, everybody who can help solve problems gets to doing that however they can. We’re thinking about employee safety (stay home) and taking care of customer’s needs (keep in touch, let them know status of emergency issues/orders).

  7. Gwydion

    #1 – I think a few questions can help clarify whether this Professor’s behavior will display negatively: 1) Are the topics of the articles you’ve written related to the area of law you plan to practice in, 2) has the work been discredited as factually incorrect or a gross misinterpretation of the law, and 3) are you applying for positions that are more academic in nature, or are you applying to law firms with the intention of litigating?

    My first instinct is that if your publications don’t have anything to do with the area of law you practice in, legal employers aren’t going to take the time to look them up. (For example, your undergraduate writings on injustice in the prison system might imply writing skill, but I’m likely not to care all that much about its contents if I’m hiring you to be an Employment Litigator.) Assuming the work’s contents haven’t been discredited, I think the only place you’ll have a problem is if you’re applying to work somewhere that deals with the same subject matter or in the same Academic circles as your former Professor. And even then, I think your response would be, “I’m proud of the work I did as an undergraduate and can’t really speak to the Professor’s conduct after I graduated and left the University for Law School.” And then shift the conversation to the tangible legal experience you’ve had in the past ten years.

    1. LW #1

      LW here. The articles are in the general area I intend to practice in and I’m not aware of any of the work being discredited, just my former professor. (Some of it has been prominently cited.)

      I’m looking at jobs at a range of places, but I’d like to be at an academic or research related institution if I can find a good fit.

      It’s also been a few years now since the height of former professor’s scandal. The most significant bad press was in 2008/2009 and it ended in 2012. Former professor has moved into another sub field at yet another university and appears to be largely under the radar these days.

      1. jillociraptor

        If the research is sound, and if there’s nothing that would meaningfully tie you to the professor’s bad behavior, if I were looking at your resume and noticed you were an undergrad RA for a slightly shady professor, I’d completely disregard it. It would be a different thing if you could be implicated in the behavior. You should have an answer ready in case you’re asked, but I wouldn’t assume that his behavior reflects at all on you.

        1. Michele

          Agreed. Plus, students are at the mercy of their professors, and professors engage in all sorts of unsavory behavior. The behavior doesn’t reflect on you unless you were someone implicated, for example helping students cheat.

      2. Elysian

        If this was a law school professor you co-wrote a note with and you were applying in BigLaw or someplace else where prestige was very important, I would say drop it from the resume. But since it sounds like you’re looking to to go into academics, and this work was in undergrad, so I think others’ advice makes sense – if the work itself hasn’t been discredited and you’re proud of it, leave it on. No one should cut you from an interview for it, though they may ask and you can give them the solid explanation you’ve already given us.

      3. Corporate Attorney

        TBH, I’m not sure what field you’re in, but unless your undergrad work was on par with the law student article that gave rise to the theory of liability apportionment adopted by the New York courts in the DES daughters litigation (i.e., arguably the most important legal student publication in US history) or has been very significantly cited, I wouldn’t have it on my resume at this point anyway. After ten years of practice, your undergraduate research really shouldn’t be a resume-worthy accomplishment. I don’t think it hurts you, but I think that the odds are that there’s a better use for that resume real estate.

        1. bridget

          But, for applying for academic jobs (at least if you are applying to legal academic positions) a publication history (even if awhile ago) is MUCH more relevant than experience in practice (unless, I suppose, the academic position was focused on clinical/practicum teaching, and not publication and writing). Whatever shows you can and will publish is the most relevant information, so unless I have a lot of other publications under my belt and can afford to drop this one, I’m not sure I would.

          Anybody who knows about the scandal (or would google it) will probably also notice that 1) the article and chapter were written pre-scandal at 2) the prestigious institution where the professor no longer works.

      4. AcademiaNut

        Yeah, if the work had been discredited it could be a blot on your record, depending on how heavily you were involved. I’d be inclined to ignore it in that case if it had occurred to someone very junior (grad student, first postdoc), or peripherally involved, and they had a record afterwards that was reasonable. For someone more senior and strongly involved, I’d be wary of hiring them – were they complicit, or did they not notice major problems in the process?

        The person being discredited but the work being sound, I would likely ignore it, unless you were a vocal supporter of their bad behaviour.

        Mind you, in my field the only thing that really counts is first author papers, or first author papers by someone you were supervising (student, postdoc). In general, co-author papers won’t be looked at as anything but an overview of topics you’ve been involved with and evidence that you’re active in collaborations.

  8. BadChoicesInc

    #1 not a lawyer but this is among the few times I disagree with Alison. While it may add value to your resume, the association has potential to derail and divert attention of the reader. Why go there when I assume you have other interesting things to say about yourself…

    1. Raine

      I can see both sides. The OP is proud of the work itself. It would be a shame if any personal scandal involving lawyers forever tainted the substantive work they and their colleagues produced — and the fact is, in politics anyway, it often doesn’t. Think about the New York Speaker who has just stepped down from his post as the FBI and AG investigate — he’s been there for decades; many, many people have built their legal and political careers helping draft key and major laws that he either proposed or pushed through. So I guess it all just depends. It sure would be interesting to hear from the perspective of a private law firm and from the perspective of something like an AG’s office about a potential candidate with the OP’s dilemma.

  9. A Kate

    #2 I cannot express how much I hope this doesn’t become a common practice, though I see how such a call could be useful from an employer’s perspective (assuming it’s a rare occurrence and glowing recommendation). I’d hate to be asked to do this for someone, and I’d hate to have to rely on someone doing it for me. I’m sure employers wouldn’t love getting more than a handful of these calls a year either.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian

      If it even became a handful of such calls a year, that would be unusual enough tho indicate a potential, annoying new trend. I’d hate to see it become a thing. However, my boss is the principal of a design firm who has also maintained a simultaneous career in academia, and it isn’t unusual at all for him to receive emails through his network (professors and/or other firm principals) endorsing a job applicant, and he does take the candidate more seriously if one of his professional colleagues can vouch for the work product and/or talent of the individual.

      1. plain_jane

        Personal references through my network is one thing, it’s a completely different thing to have a person I don’t know calling up to proactively provide a reference.

        Actually, I found out after the fact that a person who I had talked to about this job role gave a proactive personal reference to one of the people making the hiring decision. I would never have asked it of them, and that wasn’t the purpose of their discussion, it was just a happy coincidence that they were talking. I’m guessing it didn’t hurt.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Yes, this is the difference, I think. If it is someone from the boss’s own network calling to provide a personal reference, that is likely to be welcomed. If the person is not in the boss’s network and just randomly calls up to provide a proactive personal reference, that’s a little more odd.

    2. cuppa

      I had this happen to me recently, and although it wasn’t a red flag for me, it did not sway me on my decision (and that decision was already to not hire this candidate).
      I call references after I make a hiring decision and before I make an offer. I use them to basically confirm my impressions and thoughts from the interview and to make sure that I haven’t missed anything. I have had a bad reference change my hiring decision (“yeah, she was great, when she actually showed up.”), but unless I had two really strong candidates that I really just couldn’t decide between, I usually only check for my finalist.
      I see strong unsolicited references from people I know as being a totally different ballgame, but an unsolicited reference from a stranger really isn’t going to have a ton of weight for me.

  10. Chuchundra

    An issue similar to #5’s has come up at work this week and I’m considering how to handle it.

    Generally, when we have snow days, non-exempt employees get paid for the time we’re closed and exempt employees have to either work from home or otherwise make up the hours or take PTO.

    If you’re essential or emergency personnel and you have to come in and work when we’re closed, you get double time for the hours you work during the excused period. That’s generally been me, although this year not so much because we’re in transition and there’s reason to keep the place running during the storm.

    So I was home for the storm. Boss asked us to monitor vital systems and utilities from home during our scheduled shifts. Does that count as working? How do I put that on my time card?

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Generally I would say it depends on how much monitoring you did. If you just had to glance at a screen every hour or less, or keep the window open and listen for a siren, then I’d probably say an hour. (Unless you were planning on going hiking in the storm, but my guess is you were going to be at home anyway.) If you had to read some part of the display and do some figuring every 10 or even 20 minutes, I’d just put down however long you did that.

      But then, since that directive came from your boss, why not ask her/him what they want you to do? They may have given you something to do so that you didn’t have to take leave without pay.

  11. Not So NewReader

    #1. Disclaimer: I am not in your field. But it would seem to me that this was 10 whole years ago, that you wrote this piece. I would focus on my more current stuff. And I guess I would be deliberate about doing resume boosting activities, depending on how heavy my concern is about my old work. If you feel your current stuff needs a boost from the work 10 years ago, look around see if you can do something that you can write about on your resume that would trump what you did 10 years ago. You could use New Current Activity to add weight to your resume and remove the 10 year old work.

    1. Helen

      This was my thought as well. I understand that contributing to a book is prestigious, but it seems odd to me to be including achievements from college years after you’ve already entered the professional world. I could definitely see wanting to include it if the author were a star in his field, but since he has an unsavory reputation, I would skip it.

    2. LW #1

      At the moment, they’re in a section at the end of my resume titled publications. (There are four total: 3 articles plus a book chapter.). I don’t have major heartburn about leaving them off, but it’s been my thought that publications age less badly than other types of experience. Certainly open to differing POVs here.

      It’s also the kind of work that I’ve not really done much of in the past 8 years and as I look to get back into this area of practice helps establish why I’m moving in this direction.

      1. BW

        It’s worth keeping them on your resume because legal hiring is its own different world–not quite academia, not quite the-rest-of-the-world.

        But quite frankly, no one’s going to bother actually looking up your journal article… I know I’m not and my boss doesn’t either.

        It’s an “oh that’s nice” not an “OMG must see what this is about”, unless you co-authored it with a Supreme Court justice or something.

      2. Corporate Attorney

        For what it’s worth, I no longer list any of my publications or my contribution to a professor’s book (all from law school, and the professor is leading authority in the field) on my legal resume.

        That said, if you’re trying to get back into the field, I actually think this might be good cover letter material. Not with citations, necessarily, but you’d actually have more room in a cover letter to describe the work (keeping the focus on its substance, not on the professor) and how it contributed to your current desire to get back into that area.

  12. mt

    Op 5. How much time was spent on payroll? On the rare occasion I’ve had to do payroll, it didn’t take me 3 hours to finish payroll for 100 employees. Also you would ask for extra time off if you were asked to stay late during a normal day to do payroll. This is just part of the job when you are exempt.

  13. Cool Beans

    Sorry this is off topic! I’ve noticed the past few days that when I go to the site on my iPhone, it redirects me sometimes to the App Store. I think this may be from the ads on the site. Anyone else had this?

    1. LBK

      Yes, that was happening to me this week as well. It’s been happening on a bunch of sites, though, so I wasn’t sure if it was something on AAM or some kind of nasty mobile adware on my phone.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I changed ad networks on Saturday, so let me talk to them. (Although LBK, your comment that it’s happening on multiple sites makes me wonder if it’s something unrelated. Hmmm.)

      1. Cool Beans

        I’ve had this on multiple sites too but would be worth seeing if it is just the ads. Thanks for looking into this!

      2. Chuchundra

        This is a problem with a lot of third-party ad networks. Bad guys buy unsold ad inventory for cheap and then inject ads with redirects or malware.

        I get complaints about this a lot on my football forum.

  14. Anonanom

    I think I am reading #5 differently, but maybe its because payroll is my world.

    The employee is clear to say they are non-exempt and that they were laughed at for asking if they would be paid “for the time they spent working.” To me it sounds like the employee was not paid AT ALL for the snow day, despite the fact they have a laptop and were expected to work from home. The employee needs to be paid for all hours they spent working from home, and it sounds like the letter writer is saying they weren’t. If that’s the case this is highly illegal. They don’t have to be paid for the non-productive time, but they certainly need to be paid for the time spent working.

    This is a big reason my company won’t give laptops to non-exempt workers and discourages them having email access outside of work- if you work, we need to pay you whether at work or off site.

      1. The IT Manager

        Yes. It sounds like LW was asking for double pay, holiday pay, or similar. LW may feel like she worked on holiday, but snow days are not equal to holidays in this regard.

    1. Oryx

      No, the OP asked if they would be COMPENSATED for the time they spent working. That, to me, doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t paid but that they were paid and now want some kind of bonus for earned time for working when nobody else was.

  15. LBK

    #3 – This is one time the dating analogy works really well. If you keep asking someone out and they keep saying “Yeah, we should totally get together some time” and suddenly it’s been 6 months and you’ve never even been out for coffee…take the hint.

    1. LQ

      I think this is more of a you’re currently dating and the other person is eh about getting married but you really want it. You have to decide if you like the person enough to be with them even if you don’t get married (never get a raise) or if getting married (paid well) is more important and you pack up and try again.

      This job might have enough positive things to keep doing for a while still before looking or the money might be a serious issue. I could get paid more if I went to another place but all the other things add up to more important to me than a raise right now. This might not be true forever but for now it is. I think that’s the key to this. Money isn’t the only factor in job happiness.

  16. RVA Cat

    #5 – I think the real problem is that your manager laughed at you. Regardless of the merits of your request, that was unprofessional and disrespectful.

    1. JMegan

      I agree. I wouldn’t point to this as the “real” problem in this situation, but certainly *I* would have a bit of a problem if my manager laughed at me like that.

    2. LBK

      Maybe I’m wrong but I didn’t read that literally. In this context I usually assume a manager laughing at something means being dismissive but not actually vocally laughing at it. Maybe still not the most professional response, but not as egregious.

  17. Allison

    #5, we’ve seen a different scenario on this site, I think multiple times by now, where people were told to stay home due to weather emergencies and were told they needed to take it out of their PTO/vacation time if they wanted to get paid. It’s starting to make sense now – if the employer doesn’t give an unpaid day, it’s seen as unfair because no one chose to take the day off, but if an office does give a paid day off to people who can’t work due to snow or a hurricane, or whatever it is, then it’s not fair to people who do have to work that day. There just doesn’t seem to be a solution that seems fair to everyone.

    1. The Strand

      My coworker had a great comment the other day; one of his mentors in school explained that if you want to know if what you’re doing is fair, you’ll know when every one leaves the table, but no one is completely happy. In other words, they didn’t get everything they wanted, but they got enough to want to move onto other things.

  18. CAinUK

    Alison – the comments re: #5 have so far addressed how to/how not to approach this, but my question is: if the employee is non-exempt, and they worked from home that day (an hour, a whole day, whatever) shouldn’t they be paid anyhow? You can’t have a non-exempt employee run payroll and not pay them for that time, I thought.

    Unless I’m misunderstanding and the OP was paid for the one hour to run payroll, but not for a whole day’s work (assuming they didn’t do anything else that day).

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      The OP was unclear, but I believe the consensus is that the OP was paid for a full day the same as everyone else, but they were one of the few who actually had to work that day, and so they are upset that others got a “free” day off, instead of feeling grateful that the company was considerate enough to pay everyone, even those that couldn’t work from home.

      What the OP missed is that if there ever was a day when the company closed but the OP could not work from home, they would be very lucky that this employer would probably pay them anyway (based on how the employer handled this instance).

      1. Elizabeth West

        This has only happened to me once. Exjob paid everyone for the day we were closed due to the ice storm. No one had a choice–you literally could not go anywhere. It was nice of them to do that, I thought, but it was an extreme situation. The entire city had lost power at one point.

        Then the later manager closed us during a blizzard, but he didn’t give us a snow day. We had to use our PTO. I was fine with it because it snowed ten inches that day and I had to shovel twice and I was NOT going to work that day.

        With ThisJob, I can work from home as long as I have power and Internet. We almost always have prior warning of winter weather and can take our laptops home. A lot of people do that every night anyway (I don’t). I’d much rather do that and get my work done.

    2. Helka

      I think you may be misreading. The LW was paid for the time, but so were the people who weren’t working, so the LW feels they should get extra compensation because other people got money for nothing.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      The OP wrote that the whole company was paid for the day, which presumably includes her. So she was paid, but she want something extra on top of that since she worked and others didn’t have to.

  19. BW

    #1 – I’m a lawyer. Not much experience in hiring but have read some resumes lately when boss decided to hire some people to help me with a big case. So make of this what you will:

    When I look at a legal resume and I see a journal article authorship, I just go “Oh, OK that’s nice” and move on. I’m not going to spend the time to Google the article. Just like I’m not going to look up your law school on US News & World Report to see if it’s rankes #50 or #45.

    I don’t know any lawyers who have hired or not hired, or even decided to interview versus not interview, based on law review/law journal work (The fact that you’re ON law review, yes. What you wrote while on law review, no.).

    To put it quite frankly: Journals that aren’t law review…sorry, nobody cares about that at all outside of law school.

  20. SouthernBelle

    #3 – Speaking from experience, you are doing yourself a disservice if you do not speak up (and be firm) about seeing an increase in your salary. I can relate to your situation – I worked in a company in a senior leadership position, helped increase revenue from less than 100K to over 1M in a year and a half, worked early mornings, late nights and weekends and was looking at compensation that was at least half of what I should have been making. I received lots of promises of “someday” and the bonuses and random perks were nice, but a salary increase would have been better for me in the long run, especially in those instances where salary history comes into play (even though we know salary history shouldn’t matter).

  21. Oryx

    For #5, this is just the luck of the draw depending on your position and the day. For the OP, this day happened to fall on a day when payroll needed to be entered. If it was earlier or later in the week it would have been someone else who was made to work and the OP acknowledges they don’t know if anyone else was made to work but it’s entirely possible someone else did. It’s also not like the OP had to get themselves into the office which I know one of my friends had to do a few weeks ago because their payroll needed to be entered and she wasn’t given the option of doing it from home.

    I only work Mondays – Thursdays. Looking ahead I know that July 4th will be observed on a Friday, which I’ll have off anyway. Am I going to get all upset and say it’s not “fair” that my co-workers get a bonus day off when I don’t and I should be given an extra holiday? Of course not, because life and work aren’t always fair.

  22. C Average

    From time to time I see a letter here like #5, where someone has what seems to me an incredibly nitpicky and petty complaint or question about time off.

    When I think further about it, though, I wonder what kind of workplace it is that an employee would be SO worked up over time off. Is time off that rare, precious, and hard to get, that the idea that someone else gets ONE paid day off and you don’t would prompt you to write to an advice column?

    I wind up suspecting that either a) the question really is petty, or b) the OP really needs some time off and isn’t getting it, either by choice or due to company policy. (Or c) it’s one of many ways the OP is treated differently than his/her colleagues, and thus it’s a symptom of a bigger problem.)

    I guess my takeaway is, if you run a business where you see people complaining about stuff like this on a regular basis, you might want to look at whether your business has a reasonable PTO policy and whether people have the ability to actually use the time off to which they’re entitled.

    I’ve worked at places with stingy time-off policies and a culture of people not taking time off, and the kind of whining you see here was a regular feature. I’m now at a place where nearly everyone has more PTO banked than they could possibly use and where people actually do use it when they want or need to, and you absolutely do not hear questions like this.

    1. Michele

      I work at a place that has fairly generous time off policies. In a situation where someone can’t make it to work because of weather, the non-exempt employees are supposed to take a personal day, which is separate from a vacation day. For example, vacation days can be rolled over, and personal days can’t. I have seen employees whine about it because they see their personal days as vacation days, and they regard it as losing a vacation day.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      I’ve seen some ridicules complaints from people where there is plenty of PTO given, (like 25 days a year + 8 public holidays)

      Like when my office had a champaign reception after a big client win, starting at 16:30 (the normal finish for the day was 17:00) one person who had changed their hours to finish at 16:30 complained bitterly that they were missing out on the 30 min we all got extra.

      I couldn’t take it seriously, they wanted to change their hours to start earlier and were able to, but soon forgot about that when they felt they were missing out.

      1. doreen

        Sometimes the complaints are because the employer is stingy with time off etc- and sometimes it’s because certain employees complain about everything. We get lots of time off at my job (25 personal/vacation days per year, 12 holidays, 13 sick days and additional time off for breast and prostate cancer screening) and the only reason requests are denied is if too many people are already off the requested days. State offices in my area closed last Tuesday due to weather. One employee had arranged her schedule so that she had worked Sunday and was not scheduled to work Tuesday. She called Wednesday morning wanting her free day off. It’s no coincidence that this is the same employee who routinely complains about everything that isn’t going her way right this minute, even though the issues work out over time. (I was scheduled for three days in the office this month while other people only had two – yes, but last month you had two and they had three. I have three more cases than other coworker – yes, this month but last month you had ten fewer)

    3. C Average

      Hmmm, OK, I guess people really ARE that petty.

      I’m glad I don’t work with such people! That kind of nitpicking would drive me nuts.

      Life’s not fair. Sometimes it’s not fair in your favor; sometimes it’s not fair in other people’s favor. If you have generally humane time-off policies, stay in your lane and don’t worry about getting treated exactly like Wakeen and Apollo.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I hear a question like that and I wonder if it is the tip of the iceberg. Sometimes we get OPs with miserable work places that are grasping for something/anything to get a handle on the misery. Then Event happens and OPs think, “Oh maybe I can get a handle on things this way.” I have done it myself- it’s easy to do. But it’s a lot like emptying a bucket of water with a teaspoon.

    4. HeyNonnyNonny

      I think this is a good point. I have very low time off, and I dip into the same bucket for sick leave and vacation days. I don’t agree with the OP in this specific instance, but I know I have my own bitch-eating-crackers complaints about how PTO is handled for different workers. Sadly, I don’t think the company is inclined to notice the larger problem any time soon!

    5. The Strand

      You have some really good points here, and I know many people also disagreed with the OP’s expectations here, and I like that you’re making the point that those expectations are relative to other problems. (The upthread comment about the supervisor laughing at her really made me think about that, too…)

      Describing these types of comments as whining and petty is an unfortunate choice of words; if I were the OP, certain loaded words would probably make me feel piled on, and not allow me to see the good faith you’re actually trying to convey. Especially if he or she is in a crappy workplace that is stingy about time off or shows other inequities… and where a supervisor apparently laughed in her or his face.

  23. Michele

    #1, I am not a lawyer, and I am not in academia, but I am in a field that hires a lot of people with advanced degrees. Unless a research advisor or co-author is someone that I know, I don’t pay attention to the name. I will google publications to make sure that they exist and people aren’t padding their resumes, but that is it. Plus, grad students are completely at the mercy of their advisors, so if your advisor is a nightmare, I wouldn’t consider the student to be at fault.

    #2 I have had references contact me for people that I interview. It isn’t a big deal. Like Alison said, if the reference is genuinely enthusiastic and is a good, solid reference, it definitely helps. However, I interviewed someone whose references were horrible. He didn’t have any recent employers or coworkers, and he didn’t have his graduate advisor listed as a reference. They were all people that he took classes with as an undergraduate. When they called me, I knew I wouldn’t be hiring him.

  24. Mike C.

    To OP3:

    I really think it’s time for you to get your resume in order for two reasons:

    1. If you want to ask for a raise, you need to document your professional growth and accomplishments.
    2. More than likely, you’ll find that you want to look for work elsewhere.

    Look, I’ve been in your situation before and it sucks. You’re not a doormat simply because your employer doesn’t properly value your contributions. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and the value you bring in, and don’t be afraid to look for other employers who will.

    1. J.B.

      I think this is great advice. Having also noticed OP 3’s comments above where (s)he discussed abusive treatment at a former workplace: I wonder if the current workplace is not all that wonderful, just not as horrible. All workplaces are not horrible, but you do have the luxury of having a job and can take time to assess carefully. Do you have friends in the industry who can give you an outside perspective?

      Also when you prepare a case for a raise, use numbers. I did x, y and z with the following benefits. Increased responsibility would normally result in a% increase. I was passed over the following times raises were handed out. Someone got a raise for b accomplishment but see what I’ve done that’s better that didn’t get me a raise.

      Then take all the info and work it into an I’m so awesome resume. Minus the salary increases, but heavy on the accomplishments.

    2. AVP

      Also, sometimes getting your resume in order and starting to look at new jobs gives you a much better idea of your current situation, what you might want to preserve about it, what the rest of the market looks like, and how you should be valuing yourself in terms of compensation. OP, I would strongly recommend you do this even if you don’t really plan to leave – it will get your head in a much clearer place for a conversation with your current boss.

      1. Mike C.

        It does! The other thing it does is usefully channel some of that energy/anxiety about being somewhere that isn’t treating you well.

    3. Sunflower

      This is all great info and I want to emphasis the part about you not being a doormat because your employer doesn’t value you. I work at a small company where there are replaceable and irreplaceable jobs, not people. It doesn’t matter what your contribute as a person, it’s about the job you hold. I work in a replaceable position and no amount of good work I do will ever get me the salary I deserve- my boss laughed when I tried to negotiate my original salary to the market rate. It might not even be your boss- it might be his higher-ups that are refusing it.

      I would have another talk with your boss but if you are paid *way* below market rate, is there even a chance at your salary getting up to market rate? This is also just my PO but a company that chooses to pay way below market rate doesn’t really care about their employees. Unless they are a start-up without the funds, they know what they are doing. They didn’t just create your salary number out of thin air. I may have some bias since I work for a small company where I can see very clearly where the extra money we “don’t have” goes but it’s worth considering how much more you’d even get if a raise is agreed to.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Your not a door mat just because your boss makes you beg for a raise. That’s on the boss, not you.

      This brings me to a question for Alison, I am not even sure if there is an answer. How many times would you go in ask for a raise and get a mash potato answer before you would decide it’s time to leave?
      I guess there would not be a set number of times that fits all situations. So maybe frame it as when does it get to an unreasonable number of times?

  25. Cupcake

    #5 – I can see the escalation now. OP gets a day off because she worked on the snow day. However, she gets to pick her day off, so she chooses a bright sunny, warm day while the circus is in town. Co-workers are upset that they didn’t get to pick their day off and had to take it during a snow-storm. They want a day off while the circus is in town, too, because that’s just fair. OP now wants her circus day, and another day, because everyone else got the day off to see the circus, too. OP chooses opening day for baseball…
    Honestly, OP, you didn’t LOSE anything just because you had to put some hours in while the others were stuffing their kids into snowsuits. The business owner was thinking of the safety of her workers over her profit. Good on her. If you make an issue of it this time, then next time she may have to advise to everyone that snow days mean no pay, or use PTO. If that isn’t a payroll day, you may end up losing out yourself. Don’t do this to your co-workers.

    1. Creag an Tuire

      Alternately, the manager can be “fair” by giving the OP a comp day and mandating that she spend it shoveling her colleagues’ sidewalks. (Since that’s how most of them spent their “free” day.)

  26. Interviewer

    For #5 – I used to own the payroll function for 10 years of my early career, as a non-exempt staff worker for most of it, and it would not occur to me to consider a paid snow day as an opportunity for extra pay. I would instead view myself as the HERO, that I got stuff done while everyone else was unable to come into the office, that I didn’t let a snow day shutting down the city stop me from getting my coworkers those checks. I owned that function and took pride in getting it done, no matter what.

    Also, I never assume other people aren’t working from home on snow days, too. That may have been the actual source of your manager’s laughter, cruel as it seemed in the moment.

    1. Rita

      I agree about not assuming that people weren’t working from home as well. Depending on their roles, they might not even need a laptop or email access to do work. In my position, there’s lots of work I can do without any of my work resources, not everything but definitely a lot of the side projects I had building up. Which was great while working from home earlier this week because our VPN is annoyingly slow, so I was able to do a lot of work outside of it.

  27. neverjaunty

    OP #1, I am a lawyer who has done hiring, and if it were me, I wouldn’t be that interested in undergraduate publications tangentially related to law ten years ago, forget the professor issues. Your professional accomplishments now are what’s important; if you wrote those articles for law review or as part of your law school career, that *might* be different, but undergrad? Honestly, it would feel like resume-padding to me; why aren’t you instead highlighting that article you wrote for the state lawyer magazine or the presentation you gave at a bar association CLE event?

    The exceptions might be if your writing actually had something to do with the field of law you are trying to get into (say you are applying at a firm that practices Teapot Liability Law and your writing was on the subject of teapot engineering practices), or if you have regularly been publishing material about teapot engineering and the undergrad papers are simply the start of a long list of things you’ve written.

    I personally wouldn’t worry too much about Professor Oopsie unless he is notorious in your area and you practice somewhere that everybody knows everybody. Sure, somebody might Google him, but unless you give him as a reference your name is attached to the scandal, you’re just another student. The exception might be if you’re applying to some fancy white-shoe firm, and if you are, then maybe just mention “student co-author of….” or “contributed research to….”

    1. LW #1

      I find this fascinating because I’ve always considered law reviews to be low on the publication totem pole. Peer reviewed science journals seem to have a lot more prestige in my mind.

      Having said that, my work has been cited reasonably prominently, to include in the textbooks used at my law school. (I worked in regulatory-related areas.)

      1. fposte

        My guess is that the prioritization varies depending on whether you’re in practice or in academics.

    2. LW #1

      Sorry, that comment belonged up thread.

      Trying to be vague about a sub field when asking questions of an advice columnist is a bit trickier than I expected. My field is regulatory-related. The research I did is applicable in a couple of different areas of practice.

  28. Sans

    Question: If you’re getting a measly 2% raise a year (combined with very good reviews), your company’s average is 2.5% (I suspect they need to give more money to others in the dept and I am the one screwed. Although whether I got 2 or 3% wouldn’t matter much.) how do you ask for more money?

    I’m getting a raise each year, although a pathetic one. I am underpaid for my position, although there are other advantages to this job, such as an excellent 401K, good co-workers, little to no drama, and a decent commute.

    I would just like to keep up with inflation and get a little on top of that. How would I approach that?

    1. Student

      If you aren’t keeping up with inflation, you aren’t getting a raise. You’re getting a slightly smaller pay decrease.

      1. fposte

        Though inflation has stayed below 2% (and well below it this past year), so 2% would be ahead of inflation–for the moment.

        1. Sans

          Yes, I know 2% is barely ahead of inflation. That’s my point. How would I bring up a conversation that this standard yearly increase isn’t enough?

    2. Sans

      Yes, I know 2% is barely ahead of inflation. That’s my point. How would I bring up a conversation that this standard yearly increase isn’t enough?

  29. Maureen P.

    I remember a situation when a new, exempt employee, who was also a recent immigrant, came in to work on July 4. She wondered where everyone was, but worked a full day.

    The next day, her manager realized what had happened, and informed her about the July 4 holiday. The employee asked if she could have a different day off, and the answer was “no”. Clearly, this employee should have been given a list of observed holidays, or maybe her coworkers could have spoken to her enough to figure out that she had no idea about Independence Day.

    So that was a weird situation – but it taught me to make sure that new folks who were new to the U.S. were aware of U.S. holidays like July 4 and Thanksgiving. (Casually – like, asking about their plans for the holiday)

    1. Schmitt

      The opposite of that happened to me. Here in Germany, Dec. 26th is a holiday. My first year working, I showed up at work on the 27th at 10 AM as usual and nobody was there. Doors locked, windows dark. I waited about ten minutes and then figured it was also a holiday and went home again (I didn’t have a cell phone at the time). Oops.

    2. Cath in Canada

      Yeah, I almost did this kind of thing a couple of times when I moved to Canada from the UK – no-one thought to warn me that there was a long weekend coming up and it hadn’t occurred to me to look, because it wasn’t a date that’s celebrated for any reason* back home. Luckily I found out about it (by accident) on the Friday afternoon and was able to verify that we had Monday off. After that I’ve always made a point of making sure any recent immigrants have copies of the stat holiday calendar!

      *Funnily enough it was Victoria Day. When someone mentioned the name I assumed that it referred to the city of Victoria (BC’s provincial capital) and that every province celebrated their own capital city – so there’d be a “Winnipeg Day” in Manitoba and an “Edmonton Day” in Alberta. But no, it’s Queen Victoria’s birthday. “But Cath, don’t you celebrate that in England?!” – no. No, we do not.

      1. Felicia

        You should give copies of that to immigrants from other provinces as well! A former coworker had come from Alberta, and she didn’t show up on November 11 because it was a holiday there and she assumed we had it too. She also didn’t realize boxing day was a stat holiday, because it’s not there,, so she thought we had to work. Another coworker from Nova Scotia, last year, didn’t know about Family Day…it’s only a few years old here and it’s relatively meaningless, but no one thought to tell her :P

        1. Cath in Canada

          I think BC’s brand shiny new Family Day is on a different date to other provinces’, for added confusion. We have a new hire joining us next week from Ontario and she assumed she’d be starting on Monday 9th (BC’s Family Day) because Ontario and other provinces have their stat on the 16th. Luckily, HR noticed before she showed up on her first day to find no-one here!

          1. Felicia

            I think Nova Scotia has a brand shiny new family day too (they call it someone else), but theirs in on the 16th. I love Random February Holiday no matter what you call it.

            I think Remembrance Day not being a holiday is a big one that new to Ontario people don’t know about. I think it’s a holiday in 6/10 provinces, and most of the new to province people I know come from one of the 6 and don’t realize it’s not a holiday here.

      2. Onymouse

        I always thought it originated from, I forget the name, but something along the lines of the “Queen’s Birthday”* in the UK, but I guess that must not be a day off like Victoria Day

        * not her actual birthday, of course

  30. Big Tom

    #1 – this is a stupid question and not related to the post at all, really, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard/seen anyone use the word “tarred” outside the context of patching holes in a road, or without the intention of adding feathers later. It seems like Alison is using it to be synonymous with “tarnished,” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it used that way. Is it common and I’m just having a little stroke over here?

    1. fposte

      It’s not uncommon. The longer idiom is “tarred with the same brush.” I’ll attach a URL in a separate post.

  31. Mabel

    #4 – A friend of mine made this introduction for me that I really appreciated (of course the names and company names have been changed):

    Hi Linda!

    I’d like you to meet Jane Doe. Jane and I worked together at Chocolate Teapots International on the Training team, and I can speak very highly of both her training skills and her awesomeness as a human. She learned tons of software packages at Teapots and was able to really effectively communicate it to the non-technical users there. :) I know she’s starting to look at new opportunities (she has recently relocated to the Springfield area – she is my neighbor!) and thought that you’d be a good person for her to talk with.

    Here is Jane’s LinkedIn profile: URL here

    Hi Jane!

    I’d like you to meet Linda Roe. Linda and I had coffee last week, and she’s a training dynamo! She is currently doing Robot training, but has a background in Office, Siebel, and lots of other software packages. Linda runs her own training company called Wakeen Enterprises, URL here.

    Here is Linda’s LinkedIn profile: URL here

    Hope this is a good connection for you both!

    Apollo

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