It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…
1. My employer won’t give me free parking to help with my sprained ankle
I sprained my ankle last week outside of work, and while it seems to be healing quickly, it’s difficult and painful (not to mention slow) for me to walk long distances. I live about a mile from my work and normally walk or bike to work. Not having to pay for parking or a bus pass is the main reason I live where I do and definitely something I consider a perk of the job.
I asked HR if they’d be able to accommodate me by issuing a temporary free parking pass (it’s normally around $40/month to park in the company garage) and they said they can’t – I’d have to pay for it. There’s no way to pay per day if you don’t end up needing a full month of parking; it’s one lump sum deduction.
HR suggested I get a temporary disabled parking permit from the state so I can street park for free, but I don’t have a primary care doctor and the urgent care clinic I went to doesn’t provide documentation for those permits as a rule. A bus pass would also get me to work, but that costs about $25.
It’s not impossible for me to bike or walk with this injury, but it’s slow and is going to make the healing process longer. I’m a news reporter and my actual job can involve a fair bit of walking when I’m out in the field, so I don’t want to prolong the injury and further delay me being able to do my job well. I get that $40 a month for parking isn’t a ton of money, but it’s not in my budget and money is a bit tight with me supporting a partner who’s a full-time student. Am I off-base in thinking my company should accommodate my injury by temporarily providing free parking? Do you have any suggestions for other steps I could take, or do I just need to suck this up?
Yeah, I think they should give you a temporary parking pass, because smart employers (a) try to make their employees’ lives easier in situations like this, especially when there’s such a cheap, easy way to do it, and (b) don’t want to demoralize employees over 40 bucks. That said, it’s possible that they know that if they do it for you, they’ll have to field a bunch of requests from other people too, and maybe they don’t want to have to be in the position of explaining why your sprained ankle qualifies but Fergus’s gout and Lucinda’s bad back don’t. Or maybe they’ve denied some of those requests in the past, and so can’t do it for you without pissing off people they haven’t done it for in the past.
Anyway, I don’t think there’s much more you could or should do here. You’ve asked, they’ve said no, and that’s probably the answer you have to live with. Injuries do cost money sometimes, and I’d try to just look at this as one of those costs, although I know it sucks when it feels like your employer could make it a non-issue for you.
2. Client wants me to submit time sheets even though I’m a consultant
About six months ago, I started working full-time as a consultant for a tiny organization (as an independent contractor, not an employee.) I work remotely, with significant travel, and make my own hours. I get paid a yearly fee, spilt evenly over 12 months, based on 40 hours a week. For the first two months of my job, no mention was ever made about submitting time sheets.
After a couple of 80-hour weeks, the ED suggested that I keep a time sheet so that I could take time off later in the year. I said I’d keep an eye on my hours and but that it’d probably balance out in the end, as my work load fluctuates a fair bit. I never heard anything more about time sheets and I have continued to be paid on time each month (I don’t invoice, they just pay me.)
Today I received an email from the admin person asking me to submit time sheets for the last five months. I’m not sure how to respond to this. I have a rough idea of the hours I’ve put in but I haven’t been keeping detailed records and this request includes a period of time before time sheets were ever mentioned at all.
I’m frustrated by this request, so many months in, when time sheets were presented as something optional up until now. I was already feeling a bit strained about my relationship with the ED – there have been a couple of situations where he approved things that were incorrect, or followed directions and then expectations changed, and I felt blamed for the error. So I’m not thrilled about bringing this up, when I think there’s a possibility that he will say I was told to start submitting time sheets months ago.
I can start tracking my time from here on, though it’s a bit of a pain as I work when I feel productive or am needed rather than sitting down to put in clearly delineated blocks of time, plus lots of time spent thinking before I can actually produce deliverables. I might be able to make up five months of time sheets but it would be extremely time consuming and probably far from accurate. How do you suggest I approach this?
Tell them you’re concerned about running afoul of the regulations on independent contractors, since the IRS says that requiring regular time reporting by a worker can infer employee status. If the IRS were to determine that you were in factor an employee, that would be a very big deal for your client since they’d owe back taxes and penalties.
I’d say this to the admin: “I don’t want us to get in trouble with the IRS for violating their regulations on independent contractors or have them determine I’ve been misclassified and should have been treated and paid as an employee, which requiring time sheets can do. (They have a bunch of rules governing ways that contractors can’t be treated as employees.) I can include a total number of hours worked on my invoices if that would be useful, but we should avoid the kind of detailed time logging that employees might do.”
3. Will background checkers see every company I’ve worked for?
If/when a company does a background check, will they see any and all companies that I worked for? Or do they only look for companies that are listed on my resume? I recently left a company after working there only a few months and I want to know if potential employers will be able to see that (since I do not have it on my resume).
It depends. In most cases, they’re likely to only know about the jobs you tell them about. However, a thorough background check can turn up others. For example, a background checker might ask Former Job A why you left and might hear in response that you left to go work for Job B, which you happen to have left off your resume, or a reference might refer to it some other way (“I know she was working at Teapots Inc at one point but I’m not sure if she’s still there”), or it could come out in some other way.
Also, there’s a service called the Work Number, which is a online database for employment verifications, which may list every job you’ve ever held, if those employers use the service themselves (but many employers don’t, especially small employers, so it’s by no means comprehensive).
But if it’s a standard reference check (as opposed to a more thorough background check), it’s probably not going to come up. And if it does, well, there’s no requirement that you list all jobs you’ve ever had on your resume, and most people don’t — so that in and of itself isn’t a big deal.
Do keep in mind, though, that if you’re doing a background check for a government job or security clearance, you’ll be required to list every job you’ve ever held and sign attesting to its truth.
4. Applying for a job with someone who interviewed me three years ago
Approximately three years ago, I applied for a job at an up and coming company. They had just moved into a new space and called me in for an interview. I didn’t get the job. I have more experience now, and they’ve obviously grown and I have grown and they just advertised for a job that I am more suited for. I am going to apply, but the materials are sent to the same woman I interviewed with. Do I mention in the cover letter that I have gained experience since we last met and have grown as a professional? Or do I not say anything and assume she has interviewed so many people that she won’t recognize she met me before?
Assume she’ll remember you at some point — maybe not at the application stage but definitely at the interview stage if it gets that far. (I’ve interviewed a lot of people, but I think I’d recognize any of them if they showed up for another interview.)
So that means you should mention it in your cover letter. Otherwise you risk appearing like you don’t remember it, and that won’t reflect well on you. You can just say something like, “We talked in 2012 about your X position, and I was really impressed with Y and Z from our interview.”
5. Hearing the other side of the story
I was wondering if you have ever heard from someone an OP has written about. I often wonder what people are thinking that would prompt so many of the scenarios I see on your site. It would be so fantastic to hear both sides of a story from the first person perspective!
It’s happened a couple of times, actually! Twice people have written me and credibly argued that the facts in a situation were actually very different than what was presented by the letter-writer, and this post generated some really weird and confusing emails from someone who claimed to the person being talked about.
It would be awesome to be able to print both sides of a situation, but of course the nature of what most people write about means that they usually don’t want the person being discussed to know about their letter. (But if anyone ever has a situation where they’d be willing to let the other party write to me, by all means make this happen!)
Update: In the comment section, people are remembering and linking to other times this has happened. If you’re not usually a comments reader, you may enjoy it today.