I overheard higher-ups complaining about my friend, posting on a company’s Facebook page after applying, and more

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

1. I overheard higher-ups complaining about my work friend

I have a coworker who I’m pretty friendly with. We eat lunch together regularly and we’ve also spent some time together outside of work (dinners with our spouses, etc.). I’m at a slightly higher level, but we don’t work in the same department.

The other day, I overheard two of the higher-ups discussing my coworker/friend in a negative way. One of the higher-ups was advocating talking to my coworker about it to see if it can be improved, but the other manager said it might just be a personality/fit issue that ultimately can’t be resolved.

I don’t feel comfortable saying anything to my coworker/friend because it’s just something I overheard, but I also feel guilty not saying anything, especially if it might mean they are let go. I shouldn’t say anything, right? Even though I’d want to know if someone heard that I was coming off this way to higher-ups?

I wouldn’t say anything. You don’t have the full context for what they were talking about, and you could inadvertently end up causing much more drama than is warranted.

“It might just be a personality/fit issue that ultimately can’t be resolved” sounds alarming, but it’s also the kind of thing people sometimes say about stuff that’s not a huge deal and definitely isn’t getting anyone fired. For example: “She’s really uptight about how she formats the llama reports, but I think it’s just her personality and not something we’re going to resolve.” Or, “I wish she were a faster writer, but I don’t think it’s something coaching will help with” (where the subtext is that she doesn’t have to write faster; it would just be nice if she did). Or all sorts of other things.

On the other hand, maybe you know from what you heard that it was definitely more serious than those examples. Maybe they were talking about it in a way that made it clear that letting her go was a possible response. In that case, I still wouldn’t say anything — this was an overheard conversation that isn’t yours to share. But if you feel like friendship obligates you to say something, I’d just be very, very careful about how you relay what was said. The risk here is still that you throw a grenade into your friend’s professional life over overheard musings that turn out to be nothing.

2. Posting on a company’s Facebook page after applying

I have already applied to a company, and have not interviewed yet. I am wondering if it is a good idea/ethical/weird to send a simple Facebook message on the company’s Facebook page. Something to the effect of “Hi! I have already applied via the proper application, and am following up. I would love to hear from someone in HR. I would be a great asset. Thank you.”

Nope, definitely do not do that. It doesn’t make any sense to follow up on an application via Facebook. The person who manages the Facebook page is almost certainly not the person who manages the hiring, so this would be a very odd attempt at following up. At best they will just ignore it and at worst they will alert the hiring person by saying “look at this bizarre Facebook message we received.” (Moreover, there’s no need to follow up. You already applied, so they know you’re interested. Now the ball is in their court. But even if you want to ignore me on that and follow up anyway, you would do it via email, not via social media.)

3. How do I decline this offer from my manager?

I work as an office manager for a graduate program at a college. My fellow coworker has mentioned attending a class that the program offers, in order to get insight into the the courses. I would possibly be interested in sitting in one time, but not actually enrolling in a class.

Our manager emailed us the courses and said with no pressure or requirement, we could take the course for free using our tuition benefits and he would work around our schedules.

I’m in no way interested in taking the class. My coworker is the office overachiever, so I’m sure she will take him up on the offer. How do I politely decline?

“Thanks for offering this! Realistically, my schedule outside work right now wouldn’t allow me to enroll, but would it be possible to sit in on a single class to get more insight into the program? I understand if that’s not feasible, of course.”

4. Flexing hours and overtime pay

I recently hired a couple of top-notch professionals for two separate positions at a nonprofit organization in North Carolina; one is the interim operations and volunteer coordinator for 30-40 hours a week, and the other is the interim program coordinator.

Both individuals have been instructed to limit their hours up to or at 40 hours a week and track so they won’t trigger the overtime rule. Both receive healthcare insurance benefits. They do not get vacation benefits, which will be part of their benefits if they are re-hired for the positions in August.

So here’s my question: One person asked if she could work 45 hours next week and then 35 hours the following week to attend a family trip. Her goal is to work and get paid for 80 hours over a two-week period. But I said she couldn’t work beyond 40 hours because it will trigger the overtime rule. So this means she’ll have to take five hours off next week without pay. Am I accurate in thinking she cannot adjust her hours each week or could we offer her this flexibility to adjust her schedule?

Nope, you’re correct that it would trigger overtime. You’d have to pay her overtime for the five extra hours she worked the first week, because overtime has to be calculated based on a single work week; the calculation can’t be spread over two weeks.

That’s annoying because the law is designed to prevent employees from exploitation but in cases like this has ended up preventing them from having the flexibility they’d like to have. (Your timing for this question is good, though, because I have a post coming later today about legislation that’s been introduced that would change this.)

5. When’s the right time to update your LinkedIn?

My current job has a six-month probation period. I have been there a little over three months and feel comfortable that I will pass the probation time. On my Linkedin profile, I have added the end date to my previous job, but have not added my current job. While silly, I feels as if I would be jinxing myself if I add my current employer prior to me making it through my probationary period.

Superstitions aside, when is it appropriate to add a new Job title on Linkedin? My husband says it looks like I am currently unemployed and that it will negativity effect my future job searches, I feel that once I update my profile it will make no difference how long I waited to add the position.

You can add it as soon as you start working there, on day one! No need to wait.

But there’s also nothing wrong with waiting if you want to. Lots of people don’t think to update LinkedIn immediately, so it’s no big deal if you take your time. I agree with you that once you update it, it’s going to have the correct dates and the next time you’re job searching, no one will even know or care that it took you a while to list that job there.

{ 279 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#4, is there any way it would make sense to reclassify the position as exempt/salaried? Of course, reclassifying can be extremely difficult, and there are lots of sensible reasons to keep a position non-exempt and hourly (e.g., you want flexibility to change the hours requirement, or you don’t want to commit to the minimum salary requirement for exemption). But if it’s a position you’re going to need in perpetuity and the job responsibilities map onto the criteria for FLSA exemption, it might allow your interim coordinators greater flexibility?

    Reply
    1. sstabeler

      it actually sounds like this is one situation where that would actually be premature- the employees are getting vacation benefits if they are re-hired in August, which- if they get a reasonable amount of vacation time- would resolve these issues without the need for messing about with making them exempt over this one thing. (personally, I would allow comp time- which is the official word for this arrangement- with two restrictions. (1. you get comp time such that if you get time-and-a-half overtime, you get 1.5 hours per hour of overtime worked. If you get double time, you get 2 hours comp time for every hour of overtime. Instead, comp time is paid as straight time (that is, if you get $10 per hour normally, instead of doing overtime at $15 per hour, you get 1.5 hours extra time off per hour of overtime worked paid at $10 per hour) 2. comp time is either exempt from use-it-or-lose it, or MUST be paid out. I already dislike use-it-or-lose-it policies where the vacation is not paid out (my view is that unused vacation represents you having done more work than agreed- hence you are entitled to extra pay for the extra time) but comp time is explicitly supposed to be instead of pay for said overtime.

      Reply
      1. Viktoria

        I’m not sure what you mean by “personally, I would allow comp time,” but the situation as you are describing it does not comply with the overtime law as it currently stands. (With some limited exceptions- government employees I think?)

        If you mean that you think that kind of comp time should be allowed under the law then that makes sense. But if you’re saying that’s what you would do as a manager in this situation, that would not be in compliance with the law. :)

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        1. Anon for this post

          I’m a non-exempt employee and what sstabeler described above has happened to me. My boss requested I do a task that ran me into overtime by 2 hours (I told him it would). Instead of paying me overtime, I was given 3 hours of “comp” time and they had the manager who does my time remove the extra time. My employee handbook states overtime must be scheduled and approved in advance, so my supervisor told me that was how they were going to handle it. That was 3 years ago. I have learned since, mostly from reading this site, that it was illegal.

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          1. Lurker

            The way that could work is if someone worked, say, 44 hours one week then only 34 the next. My wife used to do this during audits at a non-profit (although they caused other potential labor law issues by claiming they didn’t owe overtime if a bi-monthly pay period occurred in the middle of a week where more than 40 hours were worked…)

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            1. Anon for this post

              I also work for a non-profit with bi-monthly pay periods, although the time in question did not have a pay period ending in the middle of the week.

              I’ve noticed a few other things regarding exempt/non-exempt employees that are skirting the edge of legality but, I know if there was ever an issue it would be “taken care” of before it came to legal proceedings. Mostly, it’s a good place to work but they are so strange about overtime & overtime pay.

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            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              It’s illegal though.

              It makes a lot of sense, but it’s illegal.

              The bill in Congress that I references in the post would change that (more on that coming at 12:30 p.m. EDT today).

              Reply
              1. Anon for this post

                I learned a lot from reading your site and if they wanted to do something like this again I would definitely push back.

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              2. Lurker

                Alison, just to clarify, are you saying it would be illegal to work 44 hours one week (with four paid at time-and-a-half), followed by 34 the following week (paid as normal)? It’s the same total cost to the business, and if four hours one week are worth more than six the next why is this not simply a business decision to adjust hours? If the employee is non-exempt, can’t the employer changes his/her hours as long as all overtime is paid correctly?

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          2. livingthedreaminmydreams

            Private employers cannot offer comp time to non-exempt employees. Period. There is an exemption for public sector employees.

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          3. paul

            very, very illegal.

            The way we do it (if an employee wants) is that if you work OT one week, you’re paid that OT for the week, but you can take 1.5 times that time off the following week (helps keep payroll from going too far out of whack).

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        2. Koko

          I’ve worked under various types of comp time systems as an exempt employee. I am very curious to hear about this new legislation Alison mentions, because it really does seem like such a benefit that more people would appreciate!

          One place I worked at just had straight 1:1 comp time – you work an extra hour Monday, you get an extra hour of PTO. If you did an extra hour every Monday-Thursday you could take every other Friday off with the 8 extra hours. I loved this policy because I would build up tons of vacation during our busy season, so even though on paper I only got 2 weeks’ vacation a year, in practice I ended up with another week-ish in comp time every year.

          Another place where I was salaried and exempt award comp time in half-day increments in exchange for working required evenings and weekends. So if I had to stay until 7 to finish my work that generally would’t trigger comp time, but attending a work event in the evening got me an extra half-day of PTO (even if the event was less than 4 hours) and working on a Saturday or Sunday earned a full day (even if I worked for less than 8 hours).

          That policy I really loved because all of my travel for that org was concentrated in a 6-week period in the fall and an 8-week period in the spring where I would be gone more weekends than I was home. My house would get really messy because I was never home long enough to fully unpack and clean up, I missed my pets, I missed all kinds of social events. But I was willing to put up with it because the fact that these trips each usually resulted in 1.5+ days of comp time meant I usually emerged from each crazy travel period with an extra week of vacation. So again, even though I nominally got 2 weeks’ vacation each year, in practice I had more like 4.

          Reply
    2. Antilles

      By OP’s description of “30-40 hours per week”, it seems more likely that they’re usually under 40. If so, then this is probably not the way to go – you don’t want to commit to paying 40 hours per week when it’s often less than that.
      That said, if she was planning on working 35 hours instead of 40 next week, it seems like there should be a way to make this work – If you’re planning on 35 hours, that’s presumably something like “normal hours Monday-Thursday, then a half day on Friday”, so maybe she could work late early in the week or come in at like 6 am on Friday or something to cram in a few extra hours.

      Reply
      1. Nolan

        Yeah I also came here to suggest she just come in early/leave late the rest of the week to hit her 40 in the same week as her mini vacation.

        Reply
        1. Koko

          Yes, it’s a bit more grueling on the employee but ultimately the best approach to the desired outcome. And extra 75 minutes for four days isn’t too bad. Company isn’t paying time-and-a-half, employee’s pay isn’t reduced, employee still gets to go on trip, and neither company nor party is violating any law.

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          1. Newby

            It’s not that much more grueling. They can even decide to just work the one extra hour a day and then only be one hour short of their desired 40 hours. It seems reasonable to me, especially since the employer is trying to be as flexible as legally allowed.

            Reply
  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#5, totally don’t worry about how long it takes you to update your position. I’m not sure where your husband’s concern is coming from—it’s not like LinkedIn reveals to to other users that it took you several months to update your position. And because you’re not actively job searching right now, there’s no harm in leaving your profile as is or updating it whenever you want.

    Anecdote: I had a job where I wasn’t allowed to disclose on social media where I worked until after I left the position. That meant that I didn’t update my LinkedIn profile with the “new” position until two years later, when I moved on to my next job. It had literally zero impact on my subsequent job searches (especially because it’s on my resume and easily verifiable).

    Reply
    1. Artemesia

      I think if I were job searching and employed by such a weird place, I’d just close down the linked in site until I had found something. What an odd rule.

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      1. Audiophile

        That is a very strange rule.

        I tend to wait a few months before updating my profile, usually because I forget with all the stress of starting a new job and getting acclimated.

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        1. Ramona Flowers

          I forget that people forget this as I like to update all the things as soon as. I feel antsy if my LinkedIn is out of date.

          I still wouldn’t notice it if I was hiring.

          Reply
          1. Artemesia

            If someone had been working at this place for years and I was doing a screen of resumes and she was in the maybe pile and I checked linked in and found no mention of the position, it might tip me away from her. It would never occur to me that someone would have a linked in presence and not have updated their position many many months in.

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      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It was the federal government, and it was part of enhanced ethics rules. The rule doesn’t apply to 99% of government jobs, but there’s a small sliver that require that your social media presence not refer to or reflect your federal employment.

        But honestly, my LinkedIn page has never (as far as I know) had an impact on my job search or on getting called in for interviews.

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        1. FiveWheels

          Where I work, if social media in any way connects to my job then all my posts are held to the same standards as official work communication. As a result my job isn’t mentioned anywhere.

          Once I get my professional certification then everything I say or do in public will theoretically be under scrutiny – I’ll be updating profiles with a pseudonym soon to make life easier.

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      3. AdAgencyChick

        PCBH has already explained her own situation, but I also know a few people who work in game shows and refuse to talk about it (on social media or anywhere else). This allows their friends and acquaintances to truthfully answer no when applying to be on a game show and are asked, “Do you know any employees of XYZ Network, Teapot Productions, or Blahblahblah Distribution Network?”

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        1. pondering

          Wouldn’t that still be against the rules? The show still wouldn’t want them, because they could just be lying.

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          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            Well there’s always the possibility of lying, but I think those rules are supposed to prevent cheating using insider knowledge, and if you don’t know that that lady in your book club is the stylist on Jeopardy, you can’t very well try and get insider tips from them. It’s probably easier to trust people (and legally cover butts with a release form) than investigate everyone your employees have ever met.

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            1. AdAgencyChick

              Exactly. The quiz types I know are very scrupulous not only not to say what show they work for, but also not to give ANY more details about what they do beyond “I’m a fact checker.”

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              1. fposte

                Now I’m thinking of the Bletchley Circle, where all the ex-codebreakers would say they had just been “general clerical”; “Weren’t we all, dear?” says a canny respondent who knows what that means.

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    2. Casuan

      PCBH, was this rule because of the nature of the work [or otherwise sensible] or was it more from was it some bizarre whim?
      If the latter, have you any idea of the thought process for this rule?

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth the Ginger

        The only way this rule makes sense to me is if it were a job with the CIA or something… somewhere where the employee’s ability to do the job could be compromised by it being public that they did that job. I guess a less Hollywood version is something like restaurant critic, where if restaurants can recognize your face you may get special treatment and thus not write accurate reviews.

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        1. Ramona Flowers

          There are lots of other reasons why you might not put your job title on social media. Some I can think of include:

          You work in politics and there are rules about how and when you can be seen to be campaigning or lobbying.

          You work in a refuge and people could follow you to work and find the location of partners who are in hiding from them.

          You are a child protection social worker.

          You work in mental health or social care and have complex, vulnerable users who will search for your profile and use it to contact you, perhaps repeatedly, which isn’t easy for either side and has to be handled very carefully. Or you simply work for a counselling centre with a blanket policy about social media.

          You test medicines on animals and it’s not safe to reveal your identity.

          I’m sure there are lots more!

          Reply
        2. Anon for this

          We had this rule working in a branch of government dealing with specific kinds of assistance. The decisions ‘we’ (more accurately computers algorithms and a better paid dept, we just informed people of the decision) made could have a profound effect on people’s lives, both good and sadly bad. Although it was rare some cases did result in threats of violence and/or suicide. Management wanted to reduce the risk of staff being traced to their homes/families. Some higher level staff also had randomised routes home planned for them by security, which I believe is also standard for betting shops and some banks.

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        3. BananaPants

          I discovered at a conference last year that CIA employees giving keynotes or participating in panels can’t have their full names published or have their last names on their credentials – so Jane Smith would have to be listed as “Jane S.”

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      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        It was a federal government job! I wasn’t a spook or law enforcement, but there are certain divisions that do not allow you to reference your federal employment through any social media outlet for fear that someone will try to contact you to influence your decision-making or to try to get to your boss.

        But there are lots of jobs where it makes sense to be somewhat circumspect about your place of employment or your employer. For example, I have a colleague who’s a DV attorney, and she does not post any information on social media (or elsewhere on the net) that would allow someone to identify where she works because of the risk to her clients. This is also true for my friend who is a child protection social worker, and it was true for a friend’s brother, who’s an active FBI agent who sometimes does undercover work.

        Which is all to say that, even in those outlier jobs, the speed with which you update LinkedIn seems to have a negligible or nonexistent impact on hiring.

        Reply
    3. Buu

      I tend to wait until I passed my probation leaving my linkedin in my old job, you can edit dates for previous jobs so it’s not as if by waiting you create a gap. My only worry about updating as soon as I got a new job is in case it didn’t work out!

      Reply
      1. Audiophile

        I had one position where I didn’t make it through the probation period and quickly regretted updating my LinkedIn so quickly.

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    4. The Final Pam

      I had a job where I wasn’t allowed to disclose it on social media either. The company just really didn’t want anyone to put that on their profiles.

      Reply
  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    OP#2, please don’t do this. I’ve worked at organizations where hiring managers disqualified applicants who asked questions about their application status (or tried to push for an interview) via social media.

    It sounds harsh, but we had borderline candidates who kept sending social media messages that required a lot of extra work for our comms staff. Hiring managers felt it showed a lack of understanding of proper business communication norms (caveat: my field is stodgy), and they felt that those applicants were harassing staff who had no role in hiring and refused to follow directions regarding how/if it was ok to follow up.

    I’m sure there are some outlier fields where this might be an ok approach, but I think it would likely fall flat with the majority of employers.

    Reply
    1. Charisma

      Also, a lot of the time the people who are in charge of social media for organizations (not all but A LOT of them) are lower level employees and/or interns in the marketing department (if they even have one). They are about as far away as you can get from the people hiring as you can get. And believe me, they aren’t interested in fielding your special requests.

      Reply
      1. Antilles

        They are about as far away as you can get from the people hiring as you can get.
        This is really the most important point. There is no way inquiring via Facebook is going to help you because the person who handles social media is almost always one of the following people:
        1.) A random low-level employee or intern who does it as a minor, side part of their responsibilities.
        2.) A marketing person who just sort of generically “keeps an eye on it”.
        3.) A dedicated social media manager/team focused heavily on social media (usually reserved for tech companies or Fortune-1000 level huge firms).
        4.) An outside subcontractor because the company doesn’t want to hassle with it.
        The problem is that (a) most of these people have no hiring authority whatsoever and (b) even if they do have hiring authority, it will be only within their own department.

        Reply
        1. HisGirlFriday

          At OldJob, I was number 3. I worked in TV news, and I ONLY did social media/web content (taking reporters’ scripts and turning them into coherent news stories that people would want to read.)

          I had less than nothing to do with hiring, for ANY department — sales, marketing, reporting, sports, production, etc. — but we were basically kind of constantly hiring, so people would submit applications and then send us FB messages that said, “Hey, I applied, I really want to work for you, I’m awesome, hire me!”

          Corporate had a ridiculous rule that every.single.message had to be answered, so the rest of the SM team and I spent a lot of time copying and pasting, ‘Thank you for your interest. This Facebook account is not linked to hiring.’

          Most people let it go after that, but a few people did argue with me/us and said, ‘Well, can you please tell them I’m interested? I’m really good!’ Those people we took screen-grabs of and passed on to HR (who did the initial screening) with a note of ‘FYI.’

          Those people did not get called in, no matter how good their resumes were, because they clearly had boundary issues and we had enough crazy without adding to it.

          Reply
          1. Is it Friday Yet?

            I’ve been on the receiving end of these Facebook messages, and my favorite was when one came in from an applicant’s mother.

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          2. babblemouth

            Taking screenshots is pretty big dedication. I used to manage a Facebook page, and I never did anything with these, mostly because unless it’s in an email, there’s not really any convenient way for us to forward anything to HR.

            Reply
      2. k

        Yep. Unless the company is big enough to have a dedicated social media/marketing person, the social media pages often get left to the hands of the intern or entry level person just because they’re young and know how to use it. I’ve been that person more than once and I’ve never been even close to the hiring process.

        Reply
      3. Stranger than fiction

        True anecdote: I once was wanting to apply to a job through monster (was a while back) and there was neither a post button nor contact info, so no way to apply. I naively contacted the “info@” email from their website bringing that to their attention and asking if someone could please assist. Well unbeknownst to me, that email was monitored by all of the Sales staff and some in upper management. A couple salespeople piled on me, but HR fixed it, contacted me to let me know, and I later got that job. The salespeople that had said rude things to me sure did have sheepish looks on their faces when I was introduced to them. But I realize I got lucky and that was a different and weird circumstance compared to the Op

        Reply
        1. Charisma

          When I worked in non-profit we had to rely on our very small office to do the proof reading of all our print/web materials before they launched and/or went to print. I was the last person to trust because I WAS the marketing/design department of 1. So my eyes didn’t see ANYTHING (never edit your own work). However, because everyone else had their own very busy jobs and departments to run, it wasn’t a perfect system and things like your example slipped through the cracks from time to time. And you better believe that within first 24 hours of the release of any materials SOMEONE was letting me know that there was a typo SOMEWHERE. (I write no copy and copy paste everything thank you very much!!!) We had a parade of regular patrons who “liked to help out” with this sort of thing. Sometimes it was legitimately Whoops stuff like your example. But most of the time it was more knit-picky stuff along the lines of usage of the oxford comma.

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    2. snuck

      I’d say that following up on FB/other Social Media is akin to shouting out at a crowded industry event “Hey someone from Target! Did you get my application?”

      Someone might be listening… but it doesn’t matter – you’ll draw a lot of attention to yourself that the company may not be happy about.

      Facebook and social media is for promoting (products and services, not possible employees) and pictures of you drinking/dogs/children/social stuff.

      If someone did this to me I’d immediately discount them. The *only* time I might consider it is if I was hiring for a particularly inexperienced person into a role where they were being asked to apply via social media (like McDonalds has done in Australia with Snapchat), and then, only on the platform suggested.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        But some people may feel that putting the company on the spot will make them pay attention to them, and maybe even more likely to give them a favorable outcome. A lot of companies are very responsive to customer service complaints on social media, because they’re so visible, and a lot of companies use social media as a recruiting tool, so it’s not crazy to think they might be responsive to public inquiries about applications.

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        1. fposte

          I don’t think it’s crazy to have the idea, but I think it’s important for the OP to understand that the idea can be not crazy but still bad. Yes, I understand why she thought of this. No, she shouldn’t do it.

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    3. Ramona Flowers

      Also, social media is for customers or campaigners or end users or whoever it is the company or organisation serves. And when you are a job applicant, that kind of isn’t you any more. You’re doing something that goes on behind the curtain, not in front of it.

      My org has a policy that staff cannot comment on our social media. You can like and share, but not comment, because we might seem like we’re trying to influence the conversation or otherwise look insincere. It would look very tone-deaf if someone went public with job application queries – and it would look like the applicant was trying to shame someone publicly.

      Lastly remember the old adage of show not tell. There is zero point telling someone you would be a great asset. Anyone can say that. This wouldn’t actually add anything to your application. Good luck, be patient, and stay off their social media.

      Reply
      1. Mookie

        Hearty +1 to your second para, in particular. Clogging up a commercial Facebook, which is designed to connect companies to consumers and make that company look like shiny happy people, (1) is off-topic and distracting, (2) forces adept social media staff to moderate or delete your comment and any derail you may have caused in the interim, and (3) potentially reads as some kind of chastisement that HR is not responding swiftly enough to your application. Nobody visiting or involved in managing that Facebook cares about or has any control over your application (and you can be sure no social media staff worth their salt is going to carry your water to HR because then they’d look like a pest). They want their free samples or on-line coupon codes or to complain about shoddy product. Complaints from paying customers sometimes results in placating those customers, but nagging a potential employer will never make that employer more inclined to hire you.

        Best of luck to you, LW. It’s good that you asked this because now you know and you can save yourself the frustration of missing out on opportunities by publicly flouting mostly unspoken rules of decorum regarding the hiring process and how an applicant is expected to manage their eagerness / anxiety. It’s tough, but you need to mentally move on and let the hiring manager make a decision based on your best qualities and skills (and not your Facebook manners).

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    4. Falling Diphthong

      It doesn’t sound stodgy so much as a screen for common sense. If someone applies through the proper channels to be a spout hydraulics analyst, then keeps physically wandering into the marketing department because it has a first floor office, where they proceed to roam around and try to get random assistants to tell the hydraulics department that they’re interested in a job–it makes sense to strike them from consideration.

      The implication is that if hired, they would deal with any questions by wandering through the company–or maybe the offices of clients and contractors–and launching demands for answers at completely random people.

      Reply
    5. FiveWheels

      Also in some jobs any mind of canvassing will automatically remove you from the running, at least “officially”.

      Reply
    6. Jay

      I’m that rare person who manages hiring AND (partially) manages our Facebook page. And it’s still a bad idea.

      Reply
    7. Anna

      I know a guy who was passed over for interview in a very non-stodgy field because he thought he was being funny and cute in his social media interactions due to having a relationship with the business and the person doing the hiring was annoyed by it.

      It’s just not a good look to bug people on social media about the position you applied to.

      Reply
    8. Bar Manager

      Exactly. I immediately disqualify applicants that do such things – it indicates a misunderstanding of social & work norms as well as boundaries and etiquette.

      Reply
  4. Casuan

    OP4: Is it feasible for your employee to work those hours remotely?

    …because overtime has to be calculated based on a single work week

    In the US, fiscal years vary for different companies. Does the definition of “work week” ever vary or is a “single work week” limited to Monday to Sunday [or Sunday to Saturday]?

    I doubt that companies could change this at whim because it would easily circumvent the spirit of the law, however I’ve wondered about this before.

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Nope, companies can pick any work week they want (Tuesday to Monday, or whatever) but it has to be consistent and they can’t change it around to skirt overtime pay.

      Reply
        1. Casuan

          :::wondering if thank you comments are usually assumed here or if they just clutter up the comments page:::
          When particularly grateful or in doubt as to clutter, I err on the side of conveying my thanks.

          Reply
            1. Casuan

              :::failing to resist thanking you for the reply to my thank-you query:::

              Seriously, thanks Alison. The high comments are why I asked. I’ll do my best not to thank anyone here again!!
              :-D

              Reply
      1. Anna Pigeon

        What do you think of this situation I heard about? The employees wanted their company to offer an alternate schedule: 9 hours Monday – Thursday with every other Friday off. Management was fine with the idea in general, as it wouldn’t impact workflow, but didn’t want to pay 4 hours overtime every other week. Their solution was to permanently change the official workweek to start at noon on Friday, so half of the hours for the Friday worked went into each week.

        While the workweek cutoff was clearly designed to avoid paying overtime, there was no impact on workflow either way, so the only benefit to the employer was happier employees. (The alternate schedule was optional.) I thought that would pass legal muster, but I wondered if anyone had challenged this concept?

        Reply
        1. MissMaple

          My old work place used to do that. Most of us were salaried, but it allowed everyone to have the 9-80 schedule regardless of classification.

          Reply
          1. skunklet

            they did that when I was stationed in California back in the early 90s, not just active duty, but all of our Civilians did that schedule to (CA mandated that employers do things to reduce emission – and this was a Compressed Work Schedule that they chose to do).

            Reply
        2. Natalie

          It’s completely fine, as long as it’s consistent and 168 hours long:

          A workweek is a period of 168 hours during 7 consecutive 24-hour periods. It may begin on any day of the week and at any hour of the day established by the employer. Generally, for purposes of minimum wage and overtime payment, each workweek stands alone; there can be no averaging of 2 or more workweeks.

          https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/hrg.htm

          Reply
        3. CAA

          Starting the work week at noon on Friday is the accepted legal way to allow 9/80 schedules for non-exempt employees in most of the country.

          In California, you can only do it if the employees vote for it because they get overtime by day instead of by week and they are choosing to give up 8 hrs of OT pay by working 9/80 in exchange for every other Friday off.

          Reply
      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

        I worked for a movie theater chain in HR, and our work week was Thursday-Wednesday so we could stack hours on the busy weekends without having to pay overtime (only at straight time, though, as movie theaters are exempt from having to pay time and a half). I taught new employee orientation starting at 5:00 on Monday nights and therefore usually only worked a half day Wednesday to make up for the extra hours.

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          Seems so odd that they would worry about overtime, specifically, if they only have to pay it at straight time, rather than focusing on their overall labor-hours.

          Reply
        2. Whats In A Name

          Yes, almost every restaurant/bar/retail I worked at had a similar Tuesday – Monday or Wednesday – Tuesday schedule for the same reasons.

          Reply
    2. Gaia

      I’ve had to explain this to a few folks there were new to work.

      Our work week is Saturday – Friday. Occasionally, we offer overtime on Saturdays and whenever this comes up we inevitably have someone ask if they can “change their work week” to be Sunday – Saturday so that the OT falls on week X instead of Week Y because they have PTO on Week Y so having OT on Week Y means it won’t be paid at time & a half…..

      Every. Single. Time.

      Reply
      1. Casuan

        Sometimes I’m amazed at the machinations that hourly employees devise in order to get the hours they need without going into overtime yet to still get their holiday pay or PTO… Often it seems they implement advanced calculus & the theory of relativity to make it happen!

        Reply
        1. Zombii

          And here I was seeing it the other way.

          I worked for a company that would, without fail, offer unlimited “overtime” during any week that had a federal holiday the building was closed on (emails had pictures of all the pointless crap people could spend the extra money on—they were pretty desperate for the bodies). Then people would get their checks and ask why they hadn’t gotten time and half for the “overtime” they worked. Every. Single. Time.

          Company could have avoided the whole mess by offering “extra hours” instead of “overtime.” Much easier than explaining the idea of overtime without overtime pay (which comes off like a bait and switch because if you tell me “overtime” I’m expecting overtime pay).

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq.

            Ug, that is lame. I don’t get PTO but I do appreciate that my employer is very straightforward with OT – our work week is Monday – Sunday, so if we are authorized for OT we are also authorized to work the weekend and it’s generally pretty easy to manage. Of course, we don’t hit OT until 48 hours (we are only subject to state OT rules) but still.

            Reply
          2. That Would Be a Good Band Name

            Ugh – I used to hate explaining this to employees. Also, at OldJob, people would sign up for “OT” but then just not work another day (take it off w/o pay) and complain that they didn’t get their overtime. I can’t count the number of times I had to say you must *work* 40 hours for it to be OT. And no, I didn’t have any authority over how they posted the extra hours or I would have changed it.

            My CurrentJob pays OT for hours over 8 in a day and/or over 40 in a week. So much nicer. There’s never a question of whether or not something will be OT. And if they work a couple hours over on Monday, but take PTO on Friday, they still get the OT. It’s really nice for our hourly employees.

            Reply
            1. Allison

              I’ve often run into people who thought that as long as you worked more than 8 hours in a single day, you’d get overtime pay, and they’d either tell me that a long shift meant overtime or they’d complain about not getting OT for 14 hour shifts. Maybe that is the case in some places, but I’ve often had to explain to people that it didn’t matter how long a single shift or workday was, “overtime” doesn’t kick in unless you work 40 hours that week.

              Reply
              1. CAA

                In California, the law is that over 8 hours in a day is OT (unless your workplace has an approved alternate schedule), so some could be expecting that to be the rule in other states as well.

                Reply
                1. MegaMoose, Esq

                  I’m sure some people are used to the CA rule, but I suspect for plenty of people it’s just thinking that “overtime” means anything outside of their usual schedule.

                2. Natalie

                  @ MegaMoose – given that I’ve known many people to be confused that they don’t automatically receive OT for holidays or their usual days off, I’m inclined to think you are correct.

          3. Gaia

            Yea, our overtime is almost never offered anywhere near a holiday because 1. no one wants to work those weeks and 2. our business is very slow then.

            In the end, it doesn’t matter what I want or what they want, it matters what the law says and the law is very clear that we cannot change their work week. On the plus side, when this happens, they just get to save some PTO hours if they sign up for the OT (which is, always, voluntary)

            Reply
      2. Ramona Flowers

        Why does having PTO mean they don’t get the time and a half? Does the time on PTO not get counted in their hours?

        Reply
        1. Rogue

          Some companies only pay time and a half on hours actually worked over 40 hours, others pay time and a half for any combination equaling over 40 hours. I’ve worked for both, but the first is far more common.

          Reply
      3. Viktoria

        Well, I understand that’s a silly request, but surely you understand that your company’s policy on PTO and overtime removes a large part of the incentive for employees to work overtime during a week they are taking PTO?

        As Alison points out below, the law doesn’t require employers to count PTO days towards overtime but some companies do so anyway. It’s fine that yours doesn’t, but don’t be surprised if people are reluctant to volunteer for PTO in that circumstance! You can’t blame them for asking.

        Reply
        1. Gaia

          We have no shortage of volunteers for OT, thankfully, because we don’t do it a lot of we are flexible with how it is done and when.

          I can, however, blame them for asking the same question every time they sign up when the law is explicitly explained repeatedly. Even if we were to pay OT on top of PTO we still cannot change their work week.

          Reply
        2. Jessica

          Re incentive, absolutely. Consider this: Some critical work thing needs to be done on a weekend, so we ask Hourly Person to work OT and cover it. She agrees to sacrifice her weekend, motivated in large part by the time-and-a-half pay. This is planned well in advance, and she can’t back out because she has committed to covering Critical Thing. (Our workweek is Mon.-Sun.). Then, unanticipatedly and through no fault of her own, Hourly Person is sick and takes a sick day or two that week. Now here she is, recovering from being sick, still has to do this weekend work like she promised, but she won’t get the extra level of pay that was her reason for agreeing to it in the first place, because she won’t have worked over 40 hours.
          I know that’s how it legally works, but it’s a shame in this sort of situation, and I admire the companies that choose to include PTO in the first 40 hours. In a situation like this, I at least wish I had the discrotion to commit to the weekend shift being at higher pay regardless, but unfortunately I don’t.

          Reply
          1. Koko

            This makes me wonder how states that require paid sick leave handle meeting the OT threshold. We always hear about how employers can handle PTO essentially however they want because it’s a completely optional benefit. But if the sick leave is a mandatory benefit, then does that also mean it would have to be counted towards the 40?

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              I doubt it. The reason PTO doesn’t have to be paid at time and a half is because overtime only applies to hours actually worked. Even if PTO is mandated, it wouldn’t change the fact that the employee wasn’t working.

              Reply
          2. Chinook

            Question – don’t you get overtime for working so many days in a row without a break? So, if Hourly Person ended up working Wednesday to the following Friday (so both weekend days plus their regular 5 days), that would end up being 10 days in a row without a break.

            Then again, I remember doing that in retail and it not only paying nothing extra but sucking big time because it could easily end up with only two days off every 10 days for months on end but it all being completely legal..

            Reply
  5. Casuan

    OP1: Please don’t tell your friend & colleague. As Alison said, you don’t have context & it could easily cause more harm than good.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      Also, it’s possible colleague may not be professional about it (things can get heated if someone is worried about their job) and drop you in it. “I know you said X because Letter Writer heard you.” Which could cause problems.

      That sounds a bit mercenary I realise but it seemed worth mentioning.

      Reply
      1. LaterKate

        This was my concern. If coworker doesn’t handle this very diplomatically, OP could have some blowback professionally as well. If coworker talks to her boss and says “I heard these things” her boss will almost certainly ask who she heard them from and OP will be named (or assumed). The ideal way for coworker to use this information would be to approach her boss and ask how she is doing overall, and address the area of concern proactively, like “I wanted to see how you feel my overall performance is, and if there are any areas you’d like to see improvement in. I know that it has taken me a little longer to get up to speed on project X (whatever was mentioned in overheard conversation), and here is what I am doing/plan to do to improve.” Or, if is something like “coworker is late every day”, it’s possible that coworked could just change that to arrive on time. I would only inform coworker if you are very very sure that she will handle this appropriately. In my experience, more people than not will end up bungling the conversation and mentioning OP, so it’s a risk to be aware of.

        Reply
      2. Mike C.

        I don’t know about you, but I don’t make friends at work like that. I mean sure, if you get the impression that someone is going to react that way then sure, don’t say anything. But that’s a really odd thing to be worried about. I don’t go around revealing my sources of privileged (socially or otherwise) information and I would be rather shocked if someone I considered a friend threw me under the bus for trying to seriously help them out.

        That’s the sort of thing that completely burns a friendship, a working relationship and so on.

        Reply
    2. Celeste

      Agree. Also, what’s done is done. There is nothing your friend can head off with the knowledge you would share. If they even do address it with her, then your only role is to be a listening ear if your friend even wants that. I think it’s completely between your friend and her management. I believe that you mean well, but inserting yourself here is not going to be helpful for her work situation or for your friendship.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        There is nothing that can be done? I dont believe this is ever the case. Even having a heads up to get searching for a new job or polish up the resume or not buy that house could be useful here.

        Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        I guess I could see it causing someone to panic unnecessarily, but I’m kind of leaning towards wanting to drop them a word, personally. I’d want to be careful what I said, but (assuming that I know my friend well enough to know they’ve got a level head) I’d want to at least let them know that they might want to check in with the manager and make sure everything’s okay.

        Reply
      2. Jesmlet

        Also what Ramona Flowers said – if the coworker brings it up and tells them how she heard, it’s going to make OP look bad. I think there’s probably a more subtle way of going about this than just running up to her and saying, “guess what I just heard” but since OP really doesn’t know any specifics, it’s hard to give the coworker any actionable advice.

        Reply
      3. Lissa

        I can think of a few ways! All possibilities I thought of: OP misinterpreted what they heard and says something that isn’t actually true/useful, and friend panics and overcompensates, or just is unnecessarily anxious. It’s figured out that OP overheard a conversation and then talked about it. Friend blames OP in some way (I have sadly seen this happen). What OP says is vague enough that Friend can’t do anything except worry and get upset.

        I assume from your comment that you think talking to the friend/coworker would be the appropriate thing to do?

        I’m coming from this from the perspective that a coworker once told me that they’d heard a manager say I was on “thin ice”, and nothing good came of that at all. I was just intensely freaked out for weeks.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          I feel like the risk of unneeded anxiousness is a much smaller harm than being completely sideswiped by an issue that the coworker could try to fix or at least prepare for the worst or something along those lines.

          Reply
      4. Celeste

        It doesn’t seem like helping. It seems like butting in. There is what they said, vs what the OP heard. Then there will be what the OP says, and what her friend hears. A lot can get lost in translation with hearsay. I also feel like her management should have the opportunity to handle it the way they want to–which may be anything from a PIP, to a warning, to nothing. Bottom line is I think she should stay out of it. When I had said what’s done is done, I meant that whatever the friend did that displeased them has already been done. OP isn’t going to be able to turn back the clock on that. Now it’s really on the manager to take the next step, if any. As far as what could happen? Maybe if OP’s name comes up, it would come back on her, and how is that helpful?

        Reply
      5. Casuan

        Mike C, basically what the OP heard is hearsay & possibly just gossip [although gossip doesn’t seem to be the case here].
        Without proper context, the OP could cause her friend unnecessary panic; Alison & commenters are giving several reasons as to why.
        I appreciate the urge to tell or warn OP’s friend, although from what the OP wrote I don’t think she should.
        The OP could ask her friend a leading question based on what she heard, although this can be tricky to pull off without giving infos to her friend & the friend might not pick up on the subtext.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          Or the coworker could be pointed towards a serious problem that they had no idea about. Those commenters aren’t factoring that in at all and from a game theory perspective the decision to say nothing doesn’t make sense outside of a few very specific situations.

          Reply
        2. OP#1

          Thanks for the input, guys! The information isn’t as vague as it appears in my letter. I purposely left out the details but the issues were laid out really clearly (it’s an attitude issue, more than anything) and they definitely said they would let her go if it couldn’t be resolved.

          I know it isn’t my place to share this information and it could stir up a lot of bad feelings and also put me in a bad place at work if I’m named as the person who shared the information. I’m also not sure how easy it would be for someone to change this type of behavior (which I guess is the entire point of the discussion I overheard).

          I wrote in because even though I think work-wise I have no place sharing the info I’m feeling really guilty about not sharing it.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            So given what you’re read here, how would you feel if the places were switched? Would you want to be told?

            Reply
            1. OP#1

              I would want to be told, of course! I actually said that in the letter, and it’s why I feel so terrible about this. The issue is that telling puts me in a really awkward position at work and I can’t be absolutely sure that my coworker/friend will handle it appropriately, which could land me in a really bad place. She is great but definitely not discreet and part of what has landed her in hot water is that she can fly off the handle a bit. I’m in a higher position and need to be trusted to handle confidential info appropriately. This particular situation is awkward because we are friendly and it is something I overheard (but part of the reason the higher ups weren’t worried about talking in front of me is probably because they would expect me to maintain confidentiality even though I’m not involved in this situation at all).

              Reply
              1. Jaguar

                Because I’ve been arguing pretty hard on telling your friend, I’d like to offer a solution given what you’ve said here, which I think changes things:

                How about approaching management and letting them know that you’re friends with the coworker but overheard something about her position being in trouble. Let them know that you feel obligated, as a friend, to let the coworker know since you can’t un-know it at this point, but you wanted to give them time to deliver the message first. You could also offer to talk to your friend on their behalf before any formally happens, since it might sound better coming from you and might have a better result.

                Reply
                1. Ask a Manager Post author

                  She can’t really do the “I feel obligated as a friend to let her know” in this context. She’s in a senior role and she’s required to be trusted with confidential information; that would blow up her credibility and the perception of her professionalism.

                  If they were peers, I think it would still be kind of a bomb to throw, but as someone senior to the person being discussed, it would likely really damage the OP’s standing.

                2. Jaguar

                  Well, I’m not entirely sure I agree on the professionalism part – I’ve been in similar situations in terms of confidentiality and while I’ve never had a conflict like this, I’ve brought up that what I’m keeping is putting me in an uncomfortable position for less severe issues and urged management to take proper action, which has always been met well.

                  What would you think about changing the language to just, “I’m in an uncomfortable position because of this and would appreciate it if we could work towards a resolution”?

                3. OP#1

                  Thank you for the suggestion! Unfortunately, this would really be seen as a huge overstep in my company, because it would make it look like I don’t trust her managers to handle it appropriately. And since we’re not in the same department I don’t have any standing to talk to her about it officially, with or without permission. My office is big on professionalism (luckily!), so anything that hints at stirring up drama is really frowned upon and would probably hinder my career here.

                  And honestly, I do think that her managers will handle it appropriately. We have a great office and people are reasonable and not out to get anyone. I think I’m just feeling guilty and it’s making me anxious. If we were really close friends I’d probably make a different call, but I don’t feel comfortable getting myself tangled up in this.

                4. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Jaguar, I’d still worry with that language, because she needs to sit in on confidential meetings about personnel stuff, and I need to know that she’ll be able to set aside personal relationships in doing that.

                  OP, I think you’re landing in the right place on this.

    3. Jaguar

      Boy do I ever disagree with the advice given here.

      OP, if your friend overheard something concerning about you, would you want them to tell you? If you found out you were getting fired and your friend knew something was up and didn’t say anything to you, would you be angry? If you overheard the same information about yourself, would you ignore it and/or not act on it because it’s “incomplete information” or you “don’t have context”?

      Don’t withhold information from people, least of all friends.

      Reply
      1. Jesmlet

        What if OP misunderstood the seriousness of it, told her friend and the friend subsequently freaked out and made it worse? Obviously we’d all probably know, but you just have to know how your friend would react and make a judgment call from there.

        Reply
        1. Jaguar

          You can play the “what if?” game to justify doing nothing in every situation imaginable. It’s not a good framework for keeping something from a friend (or, I would argue, anything).

          Reply
          1. Lissa

            Sure, but you can also play the what-if game to justify getting involved in every situation imaginable. Doesn’t mean there’s a one size fits all for when to get involved, in either direction. I think Jesmlet’s scenario is pretty plausible, personally.

            Reply
            1. Jaguar

              Agreed. I’m arguing against what ifs, regardless of what position you’re justifying them with. My argument rests on the law of reciprocity: treat people the way you want them to treat you.

              Reply
              1. Jesmlet

                I believe in the golden rule too but there should also be a minimize harm clause in there somewhere which is why I said you should know your audience. If the coworker is likely to freak out at the vagueness of the information, it may be better to just check in with her to see if she’s having a hard time with anything and if OP can help. Or maybe just a friendly ‘step up your game since I heard their evaluating everyone’s performance in your department’ would suffice.

                Reply
                1. Jaguar

                  Sure, but that’s not the advice here. What you’re describing is, “if your friend is prone to freaking out, maybe don’t tell him/her.” The advice Alison, Casuan, and many other people are giving is a flat don’t say anything. That’s what I’m responding to.

                  That said, while I agree with “minimize harm,” I think that’s really sketchy when it comes to information, even partial information. That’s getting into the territory of censorship. I think the bar for withholding information from people for their own good should be set extremely high. I know very few people who actively tell people that they don’t want to know about things that pertain to them and I would never proactively assume that to be the case for anyone.

                2. Mike C.

                  There is harm in not acting. In lots of situations grey area, uncomfortable situations like these, too many people believe that doing nothing is the “neutral, unbiased” thing to do. Doing nothing is a choice, not getting involved is an action.

                3. Jesmlet

                  Gotcha Jaguar, I agree that something should be said… what? Idk, depends on how the coworker is most likely going to take it. At minimum, OP should definitely check in and see if there are any problems that she is aware of. If you include specifics of what was overheard though then I just think you’re inserting yourself too much where you don’t belong, especially given the lack of context.

                4. Jaguar

                  I would just make sure I heavily qualify it. “Listen, I don’t know how much you should make of this because I just overheard it and I might have really misheard and blah blah blah but I wanted to let you know that…”

                  Again, this is a friend we’re talking about. I think one of the best measures of a friend is how well you can take criticism from them or how much you trust them to have your best interests at heart. If someone I didn’t know complained to me that I’m being too loud, let’s say, there’s lots of different reasons I would suspect they did that. If a friend of mine said that to me, I would assume, oops, I was being way too loud. Likewise, if a coworker I didn’t know told me they overheard something about me being on thin ice, I would be at least a little suspicious of it. If a friend told me, I wouldn’t.

      2. Mike C.

        I’m with Jaguar here. I would tell my friends if I heard something, and every time I have, I have been heartily thanked. I would want them to do the same for me.

        Reply
    4. Casuan

      from Jaguar:

      That said, while I agree with “minimize harm,” I think that’s really sketchy when it comes to information, even partial information. That’s getting into the territory of censorship.

      Jaguar, I do think that information is power & that one should have as much infos as needed to make an informed decision. However, without proper context partial information can cause more harm than good.

      The OP heard “…it might just be a personality/fit issue that ultimately can’t be resolved.” If the OP hadn’t heard the rest of the conversation then she only has partial information. This conversation could have been to talk things through & the manager who commented on fit might have reassessed after talking things through with his colleague. Or it could have been venting, or many other scenarios. Personally, there are times when I talk things through with a colleague because it gives me a different perspective. Sometimes I’ll realise that an earlier thought was wrong & I’d hate for someone to base opinions or spread hearsay on my original comment.

      If the OP does tell her colleague & friend, based on partial information she could be causing conflict where none exists. I don’t think any of us mean to imply that the friend will freak out or otherwise over-react upon hearing this exchange.

      If the OP knows that the context really is as it seems, she already realises that it isn’t her place to convey what she heard. The OP herself gave the context of their relationship*, which describes the relationship as colleagues first. Given that OP is at a higher level she needs to be careful with boundaries, which she seems to be doing.

      if the OP doesn’t tell her colleague & friend: The OP is not censoring anything because nothing exists for to be censored. She is simply not relaying part of a conversation that she overheard.

      *from OP1: “I have a coworker who I’m pretty friendly with… I’m at a slightly higher level, but we don’t work in the same department…I don’t feel comfortable saying anything to my coworker/friend because it’s just something I overheard…”

      Reply
      1. Jaguar

        You’re saying “could be” which is just another way of saying “what if?” Everything someone does or doesn’t do could be worse than the alternative. As I said, I don’t think that’s an effective way of making decisions. You’re rarely, if ever, going to be faced with choices where one option is better than all the others in 100% of all situations, and if you are faced with those situations, you probably aren’t going to e-mail an advice blog looking for guidance on how to handle it.

        The golden rule has been around for millennia and every human culture has struggled to come up with a better way of acting with one another to this day. It’s not a magic bullet for every situation and it’s wide open to interpretation, but it fits pretty well with this situation, especially since the letter writer and the person in question are friends: if the roles were reversed and a friend of yours overheard that your job might be in trouble, would you want them to tell you? For me, the answer is flat-out obvious: yes.

        Reply
        1. J Bird

          I’m a huge fan of the golden rule, but I actually prefer the iteration “treat others as *they* want to be treated.” Obviously there are constraints on this; no one expects you to indulge everything a person would like. But the takeaway from it is that if we simply treat others as *we* want to be treated, we can miss out on considering that different people want different things. I would probably fall into the camp of *not* wanting to be told — because of the possibility of worrying needlessly and/or making things worse — so it’s possible OP’s colleague wouldn’t want to be told, either. OP has more context on that than we do.

          So even if we leave aside the question of whether or not this is OP’s info to share, we can’t say for sure that bringing this up to the colleague is the kindest thing.

          This is also unfortunately one of those scenarios where outcome will do a lot to dictate the way actions are assessed later– ie, whether or not the overheard comments come to anything for OP’s colleague will change whether we view action or inaction on the OP’s part as the “right” decision.

          Reply
      2. OP#1

        Just one more clarification – I feel like “friend” is a pretty vague category. We are definitely friendly, as I said, and we have hung out outside of work. But we don’t talk on the phone or share a lot of feelings or anything. If this was one of my good friends, I would probably ignore the workplace imperative and share the info, but with my good friends I have a trust level that I don’t have here. I could trust a close friend to protect me even if she gets upset, and make sure that I’m not put in a bad position. I guess the bottom line is that I don’t have that trust level here, and I’m not willing to risk blowing up my own position in the office to share information that may or may not help prevent someone I like from blowing up themselves.

        Yes, I realize that is selfish and yes, I still feel bad about it. But talking it through made me realize why I’ve been feeling this way and I think it’s fair to prioritize my own career here. As I mentioned in a thread below, our office is great and no one is looking to push someone out unnecessarily, so I think I just need to trust that the higher ups will manage it appropriately. Thanks everyone for the input!

        Reply
        1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

          It sounds like you already made your decision, but I’ll add my personal anecdote anyway — this happened to me a few jobs ago, except I was the one being let go. A friend from another department overheard talk that they were eliminating everyone in my role (3 people). She told me and one other person. The other person took advantage of the heads up to take another job that she’d been offered but hadn’t been seriously considering. I waited and got the severance package, but I had all my ducks in a row and was SO grateful not to be blindsided by the layoff. The third person had no clue and he was reeling when he got laid off, he had no idea whatsoever and he took it really hard.

          I am very grateful that our friend tipped us off — for about two weeks we didn’t know if it was fact or fiction, so there was some stress involved, but it was way better being prepared for the worst.

          Reply
        2. Casuan

          OP, ultimately you answered your own question. :-)
          You’re right to not put your career in jeopardy & as you said you might think differently if the relationship was more friend than colleague.

          If you have the opportunity to personally witness any of the complaints you overheard & if you think it’s appropriate & appreciated, you could mention the behaviour itself to your colleague/friend. Although depending on the office culture this can be a bit tricky.

          For what it’s worth, if the relationship was more-friends-than-colleagues, my advice would still be on the don’t-tell spectrum although you’d have a bit more wiggle room to somehow convey what you heard.

          It’s been interesting to read different perspectives on this & I hope the best for you & your colleague!

          Reply
        3. Casuan

          ps: OP, you’re not being selfish!!
          In fact, I’d argue the opposite. If you were selfish you wouldn’t have cared enough to ask Alison or to read & contribute to the comments. You truly cared about doing the right thing. If the situation were so black & white then there wouldn’t be so many dissenting opinions as to what you should do.

          Your question & the comments represent the best of AAM. After some of the posts these last few weeks, it’s quite refreshing!
          [uncertain if that’s phrased well…]

          Reply
  6. Ramona Flowers

    #5 You could have a look at what other people who work there do. I added my current job right away because I was excited. But you’ve just cleared up for me why a couple of ex-colleagues who’ve moved job haven’t updated theirs yet. I only noticed because I added them after they left, not because I’m hiring anyone.

    You’re totally right – it won’t matter when you added it. Though if you prefer you can set it so the update isn’t broadcast to your contacts/added to your feed.

    Reply
    1. RunLRun

      Hi there original OP on #5 I did now just look at the other 2 new hires we (we all came within 3 week of eachother) and they have updated there’s. I think I’m going to continue to wait at least for another month when my current and larger task is due, then I will have a better sense of how my higher ups feel about my performance. Again I’m comfortable with them and I think they feel the same way but at least it will now be based on a larger task outcome.

      Reply
      1. Lablizard

        I usually wait a couple of months (or years) to update linked in because I forget about it and it has never mattered for future job searches. I have noticed that 6+ months tend to give me a more extensive picture of what I am going to be working on than I had it the beginning, so it can be easier to wait. I have had jobs where new projects cropped up and became my primary duties, so anything I wrote is my first couple of months would have to have been revised.

        Reply
        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Wow, see, to me I can’t stand to have out-of-date information on my profiles. I don’t check LinkedIn or Twitter nearly as often as, say, Facebook (or AAM, for that matter), but I try to update all my profiles right away with any changes, even small ones.

          But as I said below, I’ve seen people who don’t update for months, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I just like having accurate information, and so I’m a little obsessive about keeping the information that I do control current and applicable.

          Reply
    2. Risha

      Or, they could just be like me and intensely hate LinkedIn, and avoid it at all costs unless actively job hunting. I doubt I’ll add my current job on there until I’m ready to leave it.

      Reply
      1. Lily Rowan

        In that case, may I recommend making sure you have the setting that doesn’t alert your network to updates on y our page? No better way for current colleagues to realize you are looking than having a suddenly up-to-date LinkedIn page!

        Reply
  7. New Window

    Re: OP #4

    Am I missing something? If she has to keep her hours to under 40 a week, why not allow her to come in a bit early and stay a bit late the week she wants to do the family gathering?

    For example, 9 hours Monday, 10 hours Tuesday, 9 hours each Wednesday and Thursday, and bam, all she has to do is work 3 hours Friday before heading out and she keeps her 40 hours.

    I hope something like this is possible. Having people work for that long without being able to earn any official leave can handling life obligations responsibilities difficult. :-/

    Reply
    1. Rogue

      This is what my most flexible employer would do. In fact, as long as you worked your 40 hours (or used pto) they really didn’t care when you were in the office.

      Reply
      1. Liane

        This could work. It may or may not be doable, however, depending on the job duties and other factors like what else is going on that week or even office politics. Perhaps the job requires set hours, or it would only work when classes aren’t in session. Maybe it doesn’t matter when the work is done, but Grandboss is Team Butts-in-seats.

        Reply
      1. Mookie

        Is California the only state in the union that regulates mandatory overtime (barring alternative workweeks) that way? I’m in California, but I’ve never thought about it (which speaks to my mellow, beach-y, parochial incuriosity, I guess). Luckily, the LW and her employees are in North Carolina where an arrangement such as New Window describes is possible.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          I believe California requires paying out OT on a daily basis, not weekly. So if an employee works over 8 hours in a single day they are due overtime.

          Reply
          1. Jessesgirl72

            Yes. California requires OT payout for anything over 8 hours a day. The law went into effect a couple years ago, and I know of at least two companies that moved to Nevada because of it- there are industries where it makes more sense to work 4 10 hour days.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              Though you can still do 4 10s legally in California; it just has to be a “validly adopted alternative workweek schedule.”

              Reply
              1. Jessesgirl72

                It wasn’t my company, but that of a friend, so I don’t know all the details, but doesn’t it require approval from the State, which would sometimes rather lose tax money than approve pretty reasonable things?

                Reply
                1. Natalie

                  I’m not seeing anything that says it has to be approved by the state, but it does seem to have to be approved by the employees themselves in a secret ballot.

                2. fposte

                  @Natalie–yes, I thought that was interesting. I was trying to find info about workplaces that adopted the rule (I’m thinking healthcare has a lot of 4-10 schedules) because I’d like to know how meetable that condition really is, but I didn’t find anything on a cursory search.

                3. CAA

                  There are many companies here (in CA) that offer 4 tens or 9/80 schedules; it’s just not that hard to file the piece of paper with the state. It’s only a problem if you need non-exempt people to work more than 10 hrs per day on a regular basis and don’t want to pay OT. That may have been your friends’ situation.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              The 8 hours+ has been law for almost 15 years! But yes, you can request an exemption to do 4 days at 10 hours/day for hourly employees, which is fairly easy to request as long as it doesn’t look like you’re trying to game the exempt/non-exempt distinction and the overtime laws.

              Otherwise, if you’re hourly (and not employed in agriculture), overtime is assessed by hours/day and total hours/week.

              Reply
            3. Jennifer's Labor-Relations Thneed

              Daily OT has been law in California for as long as I can remember. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’m in my 50’s.*

              In addition to 8/day and 40/week, anything over 12/day is double-time, and any hours at all on a 7th day are OT, with DT after 8 hours. (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Overtime.htm)

              And the view from my kitchen table is that is only reasonable because it reflects what it feels like to work those kinds of hours. And it’s not like we have guaranteed sick pay or vacation pay, or laws against managers being jerks about things.

              * and I’ve just done my research. This WAS true for most of the 20th century. Pete Wilson rescinded daily OT in 1998; Grey Davis reinstated it in 2000, and I do wonder how that interacted with the tech boom we were having at the time. (You know, where everyone and their dog was getting stock options in lieu of pay.)

              Reply
    2. Doodle

      I’m assuming that could be an option legally but that the employee would prefer to do it the other way because it makes such long days the week she wants to be out. It’s a lot easier to get to 35 hours over four days than 40 — if the family event is a full day and/or takes a lot of energy, she might not want to do 4 10 hour shifts before or after it.

      Reply
  8. Ramona Flowers

    #2 This feels a bit like it’s on the borderline of what you asked (as it’s about the content of your message and not the medium) but it seemed worth picking up on in more detail.

    Can you see that this sort of message doesn’t really show the employer anything? They know you would like to hear from them, because you applied. But if you just tell someone you’re a great asset, that alone isn’t going to convince them that you are. Which means that all your message would really say is: I applied and I want to hear back. It’s not going to help sell you to the employer and it might feel a bit like you’re trying to publicly pressurise them.

    So if you do ignore Alison’s advice and follow up (though I really wouldn’t), it’s worth thinking about what more concrete things you might say. A helpful way to think of this in general can be that anything you do send e.g. a cover letter, a thank you note if you’re in a country where they’re a thing (they’re not in mine) should be something that couldn’t just be used by anyone applying for any job, but has specifics about you and about this job in particular. If it could be about absolutely anyone applying anywhere, it’s not going to do the job you want it to do.

    Good luck with your job hunt. It can be very hard waiting to hear back. I’d also have a read of this: http://www.askamanager.org/2012/07/how-long-should-you-wait-to-move-on-when-you-havent-heard-back-from-an-employer.html

    Reply
    1. Tuckerman

      Agreed. Also, we apply for jobs where we believe we may be a great asset, but we don’t usually have enough information about the department’s current situation to make that determination.

      Reply
    2. ZVA

      This is what I came here to say! OP, by applying, you already stated your interest. Your cover letter & resume were your chance to make the case that you’re a great asset. So your followup wouldn’t say anything that your application didn’t.

      And, as Tuckerman pointed out… you don’t actually know that you’d be a great asset to this company! You think you would, but ultimately that’s their call to make. So that kind of statement might do you more harm than good.

      Reply
  9. CoffeeLover

    Re #4: I’m kind of surprised that employers are this strict for an office-type job. (Are they really this strict?) While I understand the law is the law and liability is involved, I’ve always worked for managers that used a little more… nuance in the application of the law. That’s a nice way of saying I’ve always worked for managers that are willing to do things off the books if it ultimately makes more sense (as it clearly does in this case). I’m sure all my previous managers would have told me to do the work this week, but record the hours next week. This is of course after I had built some rapport and they could trust that I wouldn’t report/sue them over something that ultimately benefits me (and really who in their right mind would… the law can’t even protect whistleblowers that have real grievances). I’m guessing the OP is in HR where you’re more obligated to do things by the book… because that’s the only way I can make sense of this question given my past experience.

    Reply
      1. CoffeeLover

        True… but I’ve never worked for a manager that was good at his/her job that wasn’t willing to bend the rules when the rules made no sense. Within reason of course… I’m saying in situations where bending the rules is more ethical than sticking to them. Ethical in the sense of judgement/morality not written law (which I don’t think are the same thing, but that’s a completely different topic and probably a little too philosophical).

        Again it’s just my personal experience. It’s something I took for granted, which is why I’m asking if this heavy-handed application of rules is really the norm and my experience was abnormal.

        Reply
        1. MK

          But these are not rules, they are laws. What your managers did was break the law and hope they didn’t get caught (or perhaps calculate that the consequences of getting caught are not that dire); now, that is something a lot of people do daily, and in many cases they get away with it, but it doesn’t work it any less illegal and it could land the company in a lot of trouble. The Department of Labour (or whatever org deals with these matters in your country) won’t care about your good intentions, they will find you anyway.

          Also, I am very dubious that it is the sign of a good boss to create a culture that considers labor laws friendly suggestions. It can very easily lead to the exploitation of employees; and frankly gaining some occasional flexibility isn’t worth it.

          Reply
          1. Falling Diphthong

            It seems precisely the sort of behavior that can get everyone fired when a new broom higher manager comes in.

            Reply
          2. LBK

            It may also be worth considering that it doesn’t have to be you that reports it, nor does it have to be for this specific incident; if one of your coworkers makes a report about overtime violations that they aren’t partaking in willingly, that could open the whole company up to being audited. I just don’t think it’s worth it – if you really can’t afford to pay someone extra but they want to do a borrowing thing like this, just cut their hours far enough the next week that it evens out in their paycheck.

            Reply
          3. Jessie the First (or second)

            “Also, I am very dubious that it is the sign of a good boss to create a culture that considers labor laws friendly suggestions.”

            A thousand times this. Yes.

            And ugh, the legal exposure for the company. It makes zero sense to do this. There are ways around the problem of OT without resorting to breaking the law. There are other ways to be flexible (allow people to come in late/leave early! Or have her work 45 hours and get the overtime pay, and the next week work the amount under her normal hours to balance out the OT pay, so that the net effect after 2 weeks is the same as if she had worked 80 hours)

            Reply
        2. Ramona Flowers

          There are rules that can or should be bent.

          I am not in the US but I don’t think the exempt/overtime rules are among them.

          Reply
        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I don’t mean to be alarmist, but what you’re describing is wage theft. These are federal laws, not suggestions that the DOL allows employers to “bend” when it’s convenient to the employer or employee. Usually the solution would be to pay overtime during the 45-hours week and to knock down to 32.5 hours the second week, or to change the hours/day and the number of days that the employee comes in (assuming there are not state OT laws re: hours worked/day).

          We want employers to apply the laws consistently, and expecting them to do so isn’t “heavy handed.” Although it’s true that many employers “bend” labor laws, courts and plaintiff-side employment advocates generally consider “bending” to be a sign of worker exploitation, not a “reasonable/ethical deviation.”

          I’m also completely puzzled by the idea that following the FLSA is somehow “less ethical” than flouting it. It’s certainly rigid, and that’s not great and could probably be addressed through amendment. But ignoring it is an invitation for predatory employers to exploit their workers.

          Reply
          1. Zombii

            Thank you. I was too effing appalled to be articulate here. There are far too many employers not following the FLSA correctly and it’s difficult enough to pursue as it is—especially since so many of the victims are gaslit into thinking it’s for their benefit to be paid less (or not at all) in exchange for flexibility, or keeping a job, etc.

            I’m pro-labor. This pisses me off. O_o

            Reply
            1. hbc

              I’m very much pro-labor, but this sounds to me like the rule-bending is being done in a pro-labor way. I mean, I guess it would be *more* pro-labor to usually pay someone $15/hour and be willing to pay them $22.50 for five hours because it was more convenient for them to stack their hours differently. But very few of us would take that option personally. The employer would actually prefer 40/40 or 40/35.

              I know why the rule is in place–it’s too hard to tell the good employers from the bad ones who would exploit flexibility and claim it was employee choice. But if you’ve got an employee who really wants to take time off and doesn’t have PTO (for whatever reason) and not take a hit in the paycheck, they might be literally begging you to let them do this, and it’s difficult to believe that you’re actually hurting them by making a narrow exception.

              Reply
              1. Mookie

                But the existence of desperate people who need income is never a productive or healthy benchmark for whether or not one complies with hard-fought-for fair labor standards (which, in the US, are not actually that friendly to labor to begin with). That way Right to Work lies.

                Reply
                1. Zombii

                  Yeah, this is why it pisses me off. I understand how it could be beneficial to the employee to negotiate some of these things individually, but the times that it could lead to exploitation far outnumbers that. I’m good with laws being a bit more restrictive than necessary to protect people who don’t have the power/knowledge/humane corporate overlords to negotiate better working conditions than the law mandates.

                  Storytime. Back in high school some friends of mine worked at a Burger King. That Burger King had a “policy” that closing shifts could only last 30 minutes past closing—employees were not allowed to remain clocked in beyond that 30 minutes but management did require them to finish cleaning and closing the store: whether it took 30 minutes or 3 hours, they were getting paid for 30 minutes.

                  Management relied on unpaid time to incentivize them to do the work quickly, but didn’t give them training beyond that. Since no one taught them proper closing procedures, just a list of expectations and no best practices, they never started cleaning or prepping until the doors were locked, and then it usually took at least a couple hours. (To answer the question I know at least one person is asking: their manager was a 20 year old salary exempt employee who had no understanding that the rules are different for hourly workers, he quickly gave one of them a key and instructions on how to set the alarm and didn’t stay to close like he was supposed to beyond the first week.)

                  Anyway. I told them this was illegal and they were supposed to be getting paid for whatever hours they worked. One of them added up the time they had been working, realized they weren’t getting paid for like 15 hours—yes, a lot of that was screwing around, but I still blame management for letting them work 6 hours past closing more then I blame them for not understanding how to work efficiently when they were 16/17 years old—and they decided to stop clocking out at the mandated 30 minutes after close.

                  After 2 more closing shifts, the store manager called them into the office to ask why they had been “forgetting” to clock out every night. They explained how the law says you have to be paid for all hours worked. The store manager fired them on the spot for “unapproved overtime,” and their final checks were missing the hours they’d worked on those 2 shifts past the 30 minutes after closing. They didn’t know how to report this never got paid for any of it.

                  Tl;dr: Think beyond yourselves, think of all the not-great jobs that have managers who are under pressure from their corporate overlords to keep labor costs down by any means necessary, and think of how their employees could be taken advantage of if labor laws are seen as even more of a “guideline” than they already are.

              2. sstabeler

                Basically, it’s because it’s Congress that should make exceptions- by modifying the law- not individual employers.

                Reply
                1. Jessesgirl72

                  And if you think the labor laws are detrimental to both the employees they are supposed to protect, and the employers, the answer is not to just flout them and hope you don’t get caught. The answer is to put time, money, and effort into getting he laws changed.

                  Too many times, bad laws get accepted by not being enforced. And then someone new is elected and starts enforcing the laws, and people are shocked and really harmed by that. Or enforcement of the laws are only applied in discriminatory ways.

                  The only way to fix the system is to change the laws.

              3. Mookie

                Describing “narrow exceptions” for individuals as “pro-labor” doesn’t make much sense to me, unfortunately. Labor is a collective entity.

                Reply
              4. hbc

                I want to clarify, I’m not arguing whether it’s right or wrong to make these exceptions. I personally haven’t. But I definitely don’t believe that all law violations are immoral, and in cases where the benefit is clearly to the employee, it’s not so black and white.

                Reply
                1. FiveWheels

                  +1.

                  I’m not in the USA and I’m not subject to such strict overtime laws, but *in this individual case* breaking the law *in this specific manner* does not seem like it would hurt *this individual employee*.

                2. MegaMoose, Esq.

                  But Mookie’s point above about desperate people stands. We’ve seen letters here from people “desperate” to get a project done, so they work off the clock or fudge their time sheet to get around OT restrictions. An employer should never turn a blind eye to this just because the employee truely wants to get that project done. Moving five hours from one week to another sounds like a little thing, but these little things are probably not isolated. Any time you have a bright line law there will be unfair areas, but sometimes it’s better to stick to that bright line than start letting little things slide.

                3. FiveWheels

                  Yes I agree it’s open to abuse, and a blanket ban reduces the chance of that abuse.

                  I’ve also worked where there was a mandatory lunch break, but also mandatory overtime during rush periods.

                  It was more valuable to me to work through lunch and leave at 6pm than take a break and leave at 7pm.

                  Depending on specifics sometimes I got paid for every hour, sometimes not – but my time was worth more than a slight wage bump anyway. (There’s no exempt vs non exempt distinction here.)

                  It can be mutually beneficial to ignore certain rules. I’m not advocating for it to be legally okay to do so, just that in some circumstances it can be a good thing.

                4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

                  The problem is that employers don’t have the authority to be this “flexible,” for all the reasons others have noted regarding predatory v. non-predatory employers. We don’t have enough enforcement capacity to try to figure out which manager is a “good, pro-labor” manager and which is exploiting workers.

                  I do not want employers out there deciding whether to break labor laws based on whether they think breaking the law “benefits” the employee—that’s the rhetoric employers always use when they’re breaking the law, and oftentimes the supposed “benefit” is choice, as if employees have equal economic power in the marketplace of jobs. When the power differential is so vast between employers and employees, “bending” these rules invites the exact kind of exploitation that the FLSA intends to prevent.

                  I’m honestly still so baffled by the idea that we should not follow laws if breaking them is not “immoral.” That’s not the right framework for evaluating the policy reasons for a law existing or compliance with that law. I have a healthy dose of skepticism about laws in general and how we follow them, but we’re not talking about an oppressive or unjust law—we’re talking about a law that people literally died to create in order to protect workers.

                  And if that’s not a good enough reason to comply with the FLSA, then at least consider your legal liability. You can be sure that the DOL is not going to settle for you simply paying back-overtime, and the costs for coming back into compliance are steep (unless you’re such a large employer that these costs are meaningless, *coughcoughWalmartcoughcough*). It’s also not limited to the DOL—managers who do this open the company up to massive legal liability regarding employer taxes.

                5. Natalie

                  @ Princess

                  oftentimes the supposed “benefit” is choice, as if employees have equal economic power in the marketplace of jobs.

                  I’d almost say you’re being too generous here! Maybe I’m too cynical, but it seems like the primary benefit these lawbreaking employers tout is the fabulous luxury of having a job in the first place. As though they are operating a job-giving charity rather than a business that needs workers to function.

                6. MegaMoose, Esq

                  @PCBH: I think it’s hard for people to understand that laws like the FSLA aren’t about fairness for them personally, they’re about fairness for all workers. I’m subject to a mandatory unpaid lunch break myself, and I know lots of people who would rather eat at their desk and go home 45 minutes or an hour earlier. But these laws aren’t just about us and our comfortable climate-controlled desk jobs – they’re a specific response to widespread abusive practices. And yes, people died to end (or at least curb) those practices.

              5. LizB

                This person knew when they took the job that there were no vacation benefits until August (at least I hope they knew). It sucks, but when you take a job where vacation is unpaid, you accept that sometimes you won’t be able to juggle your hours to avoid a hit to your paycheck. It’s always worth asking, but it won’t always work out.

                Reply
        4. LizB

          Your experience was abnormal. I’m totally willing to find wiggle room in my company’s policies within the bounds of the law when my employees need flexibility, but under no circumstances will I do something illegal. It’s not unreasonably heavy-handed to follow the law, and it’s not particularly ethical to do something that can get your organization in legal trouble and deny your employee the money they’re owed for the work they do.

          Reply
          1. Koko

            Yes, managers who are flouting labor laws because, “it’s not hurting anyone, what’s the harm?” are exposing their company to tremendous legal liability. Maybe nothing will come of it, or maybe that flexibility will end the day a labor complaint is filed. It’s poor business to make decisions that rely on, “Nobody will report this illegal thing I’m doing,” however unlikely the report seems like it would be.

            It isn’t about being rigid and unfriendly to the employee. If you want to bend policies to be more flexible, you can give the employee some “off the books” PTO, or let them work 43 hours in week 1 so they get 4.5 hours’ worth of overtime pay to make up for the 5 hours’ missed pay in week 2. What you shouldn’t do is ask them to commit time card fraud. The company can’t just break the law to avoid paying the time and a half or exercising any discretion on PTO.

            Reply
            1. Koko

              And meant to add this is one of those things you typically only see in small businesses who are small and inexperienced enough to think a lawsuit/labor complaint will never happen to them.

              By the time you’re a large corporation you know better and you don’t take the risk. There are two factors in a risk assessment: severity and likelihood. The likelihood of a complain is low, but the severity of the consequences is high enough to render the likelihood fairly irrelevant.

              Reply
    1. doreen

      Lots of people would report/sue over something that benefited them at the time – if they later felt they were treated unfairly in some other way. Especially if they had proof of working the extra hours – I’ve told the story before of someone I supervised who was working unauthorized overtime, which I found out about during a conversation that included the information that she sent herself an email when she got in and right before she left which functioned as a time clock. ( she could only access email from her desk, not remotely) No reason to do that unless she though she might have to use it someday

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        This is an excellent point. If the person with less power in the relationship agrees to ignore the rules designed to protect them, it’s quite possible for the law to view that as manipulation from the party with more power. Rather than allowing “See, she said it was totally fine to not pay her. I didn’t even explicitly threaten her job, that you can prove.”

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          Or more generically: “See, she said it was totally fine. I didn’t even explicitly threaten her, that you can prove.”

          Reply
      2. LQ

        It also doesn’t have to be the person who is benefiting/being harmed who brings it up. You might be being “flexible” (breaking the law) for one person because they are a great employee and you want to give them flexibility the law doesn’t allow, but you have another person who is unhappy/not a great person/not someone you are willing to bend the law for and they report the violation.

        Reply
        1. Zombii

          How does reporting a violation that isn’t happening to you work out usually?

          I worked for a call center once that did their training (systems training, company policies, everything) unpaid and then paid the 2 weeks(!) of training time as a “bonus” once you’d been there for 6 months (this “bonus” wasn’t a bonus because it was the exact amount of hours worked at that wage and it was reduced if you missed a day of training, plus the training was job-specific, not voluntary, scheduled and during regular working hours). I contacted two different employment lawyers about it and they both said it was a violation, so I contacted the DOL. Whoever I spoke to there said I could report the hours I wasn’t being paid for once payday passed with no check but I couldn’t report on behalf of anyone else and I should tell the other people to contact the DOL to make their own complaints.

          The situation resolved itself when I told the call center I had contacted the DOL and was quitting that job due to their unethical practices and I expected to be paid for the hours I’d worked despite not hitting the 6 month mark and I would be back tomorrow (payday) to collect my check. The person I resigned to said “good luck with that.” Later that night I got a panicked phone call from the company’s CFO letting me know they were FedExing my check, I’d have it first thing the next morning, of course I was going to get paid and so was everyone else on that client contract (I asked about the other client contracts and it was clear they hadn’t expected to answer that—“We’ll, um, we’ll look into that. Definitely”).

          I contacted the DOL one more time, but the person I spoke to said they couldn’t do anything because I didn’t have a violation to report anymore since the call center had paid me. They said they weren’t going to check whether anyone else had been paid unless they got more complaints. Anyone have better luck than this? (This was in 2011 I think.)

          Reply
          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            Ugh, that’s frustrating and frankly ridiculous. Do you know what line or what service you were calling at DOL?

            If things had worked functionally, DOL would have considered your report as a whistleblower complaint re: other employers, and they would have let you file a claim/report regarding violations you experienced because the fact that you’d quit has nothing to do with whether you had a “live claim” as long as it was within the relevant statute of limitations period. And if what was happening was indeed illegal, it would have made for a great class action lawsuit.

            Reply
        1. Doreen

          I suppose it’s possible that she just wanted to know how many hours she was working each day/week for no real reason – but she could have done that with a handwritten log (the way she chooses to keep other records) of the hours worked. Two daily emails is clearly to enable her to prove how many hours she worked , for whatever reason she might want to prove it.

          Reply
    2. Liane

      It doesn’t matter if you wouldn’t sue, employees in the US aren’t allowed to waive their legal right to overtime, pay for all hours worked, etc.
      Besides, someone else could report your company for not paying you properly (an auditor, a disgruntled coworker), so your complicity won’t protect the company.

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq.

        Exactly. I don’t believe our labor laws are perfect in any way, but it’s actually key to overall enforcement that individuals not be allowed to waive their rights, even when they see those rights as burdens. Our economic system is set up such that the employer/employee relationship is intrinsically exploitative, and you need strict lines to allow any kind of real protections. Which is why I inherently distrust proposals framed as employee “choice,” but it sounds like Alison will be getting to that later today.

        Reply
    3. CoffeeLover

      Wow I must say this has been eye opening. Call it my rebellious nature, but I can’t say I agree with you all. Maybe it’s my location (Canada) or my profession/industry that makes this kind of behaviour normal. Another thing could be the fact that we practice a mixed system of civil and common law in Canada. This makes the spirit of the law more important than the law it self. Something that I firmly believe in. Basically while the written law may benefit the many, there are a few sitatuations/circumstances where it does not apply. That’s legitimately how law is applied in Canada.

      Reply
      1. CoffeeLover

        It could also be that Canada has much better employee protection laws than the US in general. I think employers are a lot less likely to try and exploit employees here (because it’s harder to do). Not that it doesn’t happen… but I’m trying to make sense of the working culture I’ve encountered and why it’s so different from what others have said here.

        Reply
        1. Zombii

          >>It could also be that Canada has much better employee protection laws than the US in general.

          This is it exactly. Other industrialized nations that have employee protections, standardized benefits guaranteed by law, employment contracts, etc don’t understand a lot of US employment law. These very basic protections (“you will be paid for all hours worked”) are necessary here because we don’t have any of the other protections other industrialized nations consider standard.

          If we had more protections from getting fired for any reason with no notice, we wouldn’t be as concerned with simply getting paid—but corporations have convinced us that this is an equal thing: them firing us or us walking away is somehow supposed to have the same relative detrimental impact to both parties.

          Reply
        2. Chinook

          “It could also be that Canada has much better employee protection laws than the US in general.”

          This is definitely the case. DH works for the one government agency that is exempt from every labour code in the country (which is why they were only allowed to start unionizing a couple of months ago). There are both good and bad reasons why, but this lack of labour protection is eye opening when I see what his employer can get away with that would never happen literally anywhere else in the country. While he is always paid his overtime, the lack of basic safety equipment and training for equipment, the lack of proper direction by supervisors, and even a predictable schedule (and I don’t mean being on call, I mean being told getting of shift at 6 pm that his next shift is no longer starting at 6 pm the next night but now at noon) are all normal parts of the job. The investigation after the deaths in Alberta a decade ago called for the exact same changes being called for today in the commission on the deaths out East.

          When I see what he puts up with, I truly appreciate how much protection our average labour laws give us because, without them, the only thing stopping someone from either ignoring or taking advantage of their reports is their supervisors, who often have their hands tied by budgets they can’t control.

          Reply
    4. Dankar

      This has been my experience, as well. And I would argue (though I haven’t seen Alison’s update) that the aforementioned change to the law that would legalize or allow some of this flexibility (if I’m understanding her correctly) indicates that it’s a common enough workaround for others.

      Reply
  10. xyz

    #2 – I had my first ever experience of this last week! I moved from an entirely internal-facing position to one which has some contact with the outside world, and unbeknownst to me, turns out my direct line is out there on the internet. A prospective intern rang asking for the postal address and contact details of the hiring manager. I told him I had nothing to do with internships but I would take a look on the website. I did, and told him the process was to apply using an electronic form, so he should do that.

    In the meantime, he was telling me about his qualifications and how he would also like to set up an “informational interview” with “one of my colleagues” to see whether this was the “right environment for him”. I told him he could ask HR about that when they got back to him and he literally said “no, I disagree” and then proceeded to mansplain the difference between HR and informational interviews to me.

    I was torn between wanting to give him the advice that he was coming across as arrogant/clueless and irritating and not wanting to be rude, so I just said “that’s nice. I encourage you to apply via the website, goodbye”. The last thing I heard before putting the phone down was him going “NO, don’t…” and then HE CALLED BACK! (I didn’t pick up.)

    Anyway, all that is only tangentially related, but just to say you really do realize how annoying and inappropriate it is when you’re on the receiving end. He’s lucky I have nothing to do with hiring, or he would have left a really bad impression.

    Reply
        1. xyz

          I only caught his first name. Plus I wouldn’t want to proactively destroy his chances, even if he came across like a jerk. I had to laugh at the idea that he wanted an informational interview so that we could persuade *him* an internship was worth his time. I mean, I’m pretty sure it was another backdoor way to try to “stand out”, but the way he phrased it… it’s the kind of place people are dying to intern at, and apparently he thinks giving off the impression he’s too good to work here is a good move, let alone the rest of the baloney.

          Reply
          1. sstabeler

            he might well have meant that, but that’s not what an informational interview is about. From what I understand, an informational interview is basically a formal word for chatting about the job, to get an idea of what the job is like- NOT about pitching a particular job to somebody. (Indeed, particularly when the informational interview is with someone experienced in the field and you are starting out, it’s often more about getting an idea of what your career might look like, not about how the specific job is.)

            Reply
          2. Cambridge Comma

            If you do pass it on, it is still him destroying his own chances. Probably your colleagues won’t make their hiring decisions entirely on your input, but you would be giving them an additional data point.

            Reply
          3. Temperance

            FWIW, I have no problem with letting HR know that X candidate is a huge blowhard. At my last job, a man showed up for an interview with one of the companies who rented meeting rooms from us on the wrong day. The company wasn’t there to interview him. He came up to us, demanded to be seen anyway, since he had driven 30 miles, and started shouting at our other clients, yelling the name of the company at anyone who came through reception.

            I asked him to leave, he refused until the company met with him, to which I replied that he needed to leave or I would call security to have him removed for harassing tenants. I called the company after he left, and they blacklisted him. I felt no remorse, mostly because I would have to see that abusive wacko every day if they did hire him.

            Reply
          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

            I don’t think you’re tanking his chances. He tanked his chances by behaving like a complete boor. And frankly, if I were a manager I would want to know.

            I once had to go to the mattress to ensure my boss didn’t hire someone who had been insanely abusive to our support staff and to all women employees during hiring but was obsequious with my (male) boss (the candidate didn’t realize there was a hiring panel that included my boss’s boss, who thankfully agreed with me). I don’t feel like I needed to wait for my boss—who had his own obliviousness issues—to finally notice this guy would be toxic to the organization. I’ve had to fire someone for terrorizing our support staff before. It’s better to prevent the problem from happening than to have to try to fix it, later.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              I’ll add that not only does the manager want to know, but a lot of managers would be pretty pissed off if they found out that you didn’t tell them. I would be!

              Reply
    1. Mookie

      “No, I disagree” is like “I would prefer not to” in this context. Dude, that’s not how any of this works. Slow down with the Gumption and Sense of Urgency and Eau de la Rockstar right this second.

      Reply
  11. AnonThisTime

    OP #1: This is a hard situation to be in, and I understand the conflicting imperatives. I was put in a very similar situation in my last job, in that a conversation that unambiguously named a coworker who was to be performance-managed, as well as some who were to be made redundant, took place in my office’s open doorway while I was sitting at my computer, in full view of my manager and the HR rep, with no headphones on. (I even got up to close the door and my manager brushed me off – I was literally trapped in there with no way to NOT hear it).

    Much as I did feel a strong sense of duty to my coworkers, all of whom I liked immensely and still do even now I am no longer at the job, I did not say anything to anyone. I decided that it would be not just inappropriate, but also inflammatory, to do so – and I also knew how rapidly that manager could change her views, and so I thought there was a better than even chance that some of it would never happen anyway. (I was right in that – I heard five individuals named, and while two of them were indeed made redundant, nothing whatsoever happened to the other three).

    It still feels awful to think you know that someone you like and value is about to have a bomb dropped on them :-( But it really serves no purpose to speak.

    Reply
    1. Old Admin

      I need to disagree here.
      I once was in the position that a manager was talking about my shortcomings at work, researching my work, collecting data on me.
      I already was worried about my standing there, and a colleague (who knew that) gave me a heads up. That way, I was able to approach the manager, discuss certain performance issues/possible solutions, and partly defuse the situation *before* I was simply slapped with it in the upcoming annual review.

      However, yes, giving such a heads up must be done very delicately. Protect youself when doing that.

      Reply
      1. Graciosa

        I’m not sure that changes my opinion – you were already worried about your standing, so you could have made the decision to have the conversation with your manager without anyone else having to speak to you.

        A third party trying to have a performance discussion with an employee they don’t manage based on incomplete information is incredibly non-productive. What is productive is having the conversation directly with the manager.

        My takeaway here would be that if you’re concerned – as you were – you should have the discussion with your manager without waiting.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          And what if you have no reason to be concerned because your management didn’t bother to tell you about any issues they had?

          Reply
          1. Allypopx

            That’s a management issue that should be handled separately, either by asking for consistent feedback or some other avenue, depending on the specific management team and their specific problems. I strongly agree that sharing information learned second hand is likely to cause more problems than it solves. That information is likely to be incomplete or lack context or, as AnonThisTime says, may change, and then you’ve drastically and unnecessarily stirred a pot.

            Reply
      1. Undine

        Speaking creates stress, gossip, and a slight increase in toxic atmosphere at the company.

        Think of it as “on average, this will not be helpful”

        For example, let’s make up some numbers:
        case 1: this is important, genuinely reflects point of view of boss, and has potential long term consequences for friend. Probability say, 25% (I actually think it’s more like 10%, but never mind)
        subcase 1: (Good outcome) friend takes comment well, finds a way to disambiguate/discover more/take good action sub-probability 25% (again, I think this is an over-estimate).
        Total probability of good outcome 6.25% (a quarter of the original 25%)
        subcase 2: (Bad outcome 1) friend handles case badly, freaks out, or misinterprets, or talks to boss and it backfires, or bad luck bites etc. etc. 25% of subcase = 6.25 % so far
        subcase 3: (No impact from telling) 50% of subcase 2 (an over-estimate) = 12.5 so far
        Main case 2: There was nothing to worry about in the first place. 75%
        subcase 1: (Bad outcome) Creates problems that weren’t there before, let’s say 50% of 75% = 37.5%
        subcase 2: (Good outcome) has no impact, same 37.5%

        Then add up the subcases to get:
        good/helpful outcome: 6.25%
        bad outcome (includes unnecessary stress, looking for new job when one is not required, etc.): 43.75%
        neutral outcome: 50%

        Now I’ve made up the numbers, but given the minor-ness of what was heard and the complete unactionability of the information, I think these are high in terms of how useful it is likely to be. Since it’s minor, I don’t think we need to try and weight the relative importance of outcomes (like, if the friend were going to be fed to the volcano god at dawn, the calculus changes a lot even if the probabilities don’t, because not being eaten by a volcano is pretty important.) But in this less flammable situation, the probability of a bad outcome seems higher than the probability of a good outcome.

        If on the other hand, you believe that the probability that this random comment translates into “X is going to be volcanoed in a month” is 90%, and the probability X needs to know and will handle it well is 90%, then you will be looking at a very different calculation. That doesn’t match my experience, but it may match yours.

        Reply
        1. OP#1

          Thanks, guys! The conversation wasn’t vague and I overheard the whole thing. I left out the details for the letter on the off chance including them would make it too identifiable. Basically, they are concerned about her attitude (which I’m honestly not sure she can change, so it might be accurate to call it a fit issue that can’t be resolved). I can’t really give more details here.
          I’m worried about saying anything because:
          a) I feel pretty sure it would be considered inappropriate by my office standards. As I mentioned, I’m in a slightly higher position and I don’t want the higher ups to think I can’t be trusted with information, even if it’s just something I overheard. I do get to sit in on staffing meetings, so I need to be trustworthy and keep things confidential.
          b) I’m not sure that my coworker/friend would handle it well, which means I could get dragged into a big office drama, which is the last thing I want to happen.
          On the other hand, I feel bad about not saying anything because we see each other socially and I would want someone to tell me. But I just don’t think it’s really my place here. Our higher ups aren’t malicious or trying to push people out, so I probably just need to try to forget I heard it and trust that they’ll manage it appropriately.

          Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Nonprofits are covered by the law if they have $500,000+/year in business revenue. However, even if a nonprofit organization isn’t covered under that provision, individual employees at nonprofits are covered under the law if they engage in interstate commerce in the course of their work (including making out-of-state phone calls; receiving or sending interstate mail or email; ordering or receiving goods from an out-of-state supplier; and handling credit card transactions or performing the accounting or bookkeeping for such activities — which tends to be most of them). Because of that, it’s very rare for the FLSA not to apply. (And in the case of #4, I’m assuming the OP knows that it does apply, and that’s why she’s asking the question.)

      Reply
  12. PB

    OP #3, I wouldn’t sweat this too much. To me, it sounds as if your manager was reminding you of a benefit, and saying that you can take advantage of it if you want to, and she’ll support you. I’ve been in higher ed my whole career. People forget about their tuition benefit pretty frequently. In addition, a lot of managers won’t support employees using it, making scheduling around classes difficult and stressful. I think your manager is just letting you know that this won’t be the case, if you decide to take advantage of it.

    I still think you should politely decline, and Alison’s script is perfect. I just wouldn’t sweat it too much. I could be wrong, but to me, it doesn’t sound like your manager is too heavily invested in you taking the class.

    Reply
  13. NotoriousMCG

    OP4, could your employee come in an hour early/stay late on the days she is in next week in order to get to 40 without going into overtime?

    Reply
  14. Roscoe

    #1 My answer for this would depend on how much of a friend you consider this person. I have a couple of actual friends I work with, and a bunch of people that Im friendly with at work, may grab a post work drink with, but we aren’t friends. If it was someone in the first group, I’d definitely say something, especially if you think that your job is one where people get let go kind of out of nowhere. If it was the people I’m just friendly with, I’d have to be really sure about what I heard before saying anything. Now unlike a lot of people on this board, I seem to think my loyalty (as far as I have any) is to people over organizations, so that is where I’m coming from in this. But, be aware that if it does get traced back to you, you could face some blowback as well. So this is something I’d be willing to risk for a friend, but not necessarily for someone i’m friendly with.

    #4 This is a bad situation. Is there anything you can do to help her out? I mean, no vacation time and no ability to flex hours seems pretty bad for important jobs at your organization. This is the type of thing that would not make me want to stay on somewhere as permanant

    Reply
  15. The Cosmic Avenger

    What surprised me about OP#5 is not that she hasn’t added her new position, but that she bothered to put an end date for her last position when she didn’t want to add her new position yet.

    What I mean is, if I wasn’t going to update LinkedIn with my new position, I wouldn’t put an end date on my old position yet, so basically it would look like I just hadn’t gotten around to updating it at all yet. Once you’ve made the effort to put the end date for your old position, I’d wonder why there was no new position on there.

    Although I wouldn’t find it that weird to not add a new position right away, it just never occurred to me. Even during a probationary period, I would expect the job to be long-term, so I would add it on my start date, which triggers those announcements to people who follow you on LinkedIn. If I had any reason to wonder if I’d stay, I suppose I might just wait to update it. I’ve seen plenty of coworkers not update their LinkedIn profiles until they had been working with me for weeks or even months.

    Reply
  16. CM

    For OP#3, I don’t think it’s the manager’s call whether the OP gets to sit in on a class, so I wouldn’t ask if this would be possible. I would just say, “Thanks for the offer. I’m not planning to take the entire course, but I’m going to try to sit in on one class,” and then would contact the instructor and ask about whether sitting in is possible.

    Reply
    1. (different) Rebecca

      As a prof, I appreciate that you mentioned that. I wouldn’t care, but then my classes are pretty informal. I know others who would hit the roof over a person joining their class for a session, particularly if it’s lab-based, or something that’s not easily understood on a one-and-done basis (math or stats comes to mind.)

      Reply
  17. Natalie

    #4, are you not allowed to approve any overtime? Because it seems like you could approve exactly what the employee asked for and just pay them time & a half for the 5 hours the first week. It’s a 3% increase over the two week period, so really not that much. And you absolutely need to keep your salary levels flat, they can work 2.5 hours OT the first week.

    Reply
    1. MegaMoose, Esq.

      That would seem to make sense, but some jobs do have pretty strict rules for approving OT. One of the only ways to get fired from my job is to work unapproved OT because everything has to be approved by the client and they only hire us to save money.

      Reply
  18. Karen

    OP#3 I read the letter a little differently than Allison did. I don’t know if the LW is even that determined to sit in on one class. I think she’s saying that’s the *most* she’d be interested in doing. I think the manager’s email does not require a response at all. He’s just making the office staff aware of a benefit they already have. I doubt any pressure was intended, and it’s not even something he is personally doing for them. It’s just an FYI.

    Reply
  19. Alex

    Just as a follow-up to #4, what are the consequences for a company that DOES grant a request like this? Say, just telling the employee to put on her time sheet that she worked 40 hours both weeks, but the boss looking the other way when she is present an extra 5 hours one week and absent 5 hours the next.

    Just asking, because my company definitely does this even though it is against the rules. But if the employer doesn’t care and the employee requests it, who is going to report it/get in trouble/know the difference?

    Reply
    1. Temperance

      The issue is that a disgruntled employee could easily report it in the future, and ask for backpay. So even if you both agree at the time not to follow the law, it’s still the law.

      Reply
      1. Alex

        I suppose, although if the employee submitted time cards that each said 40 hours worked, that would be the official record, so proving the actual hours worked were different I think would be pretty difficult.

        At a different place I worked, the company DID screw over its employees in this way by requiring no one submit time cards over 40 hours but requiring people to work over 40 hours, with “comp time” being only marginally offered, when convenient, and not tracked. Employees would have had a hard time proving they worked those extra hours if they decided to sue, even if they really were owed the money. (Thankfully, that situation did not affect my work, but I was outraged on others’ behalf.)

        Reply
        1. Natalie

          A time card is far less compelling than you might think – literally every place that allows unpaid OT keeps it off the time card.

          Reply
          1. Alex

            Right, exactly. The time card reflects what is going to be in your paycheck, but IME, the time card doesn’t always reflect the exact hours worked, for better or worse, and I’ve never seen one that shows comp time. But there’s no record of those exact hours, and a time card is evidence that the employer and employee “agreed” that these were the hours worked. If someone wanted to challenge that, it seems like gathering evidence for such a complaint would be tricky. So I was just wondering what the real-life risk of breaking these rules is.

            Reply
            1. Natalie

              I mean, it’s no trickier than gathering evidence for any other legal violation. It’s probably easier to prove wage & hour violations these days because so much of people’s work leaves a digital foot print – server logs, email time stamps, door records, etc can all be used to establish actual hours worked. And a bunch of complainants and witnesses would be evidence as well.

              The bigger barrier to enforcement is probably the comparatively low funding for state DOL’s (that do the actual enforcement) and constantly shifting enforcement priorities depending on which party is in power.

              Reply
              1. Turtle Candle

                Yep. I think we most of us leave a bigger digital footprint than we think. One or two emails sent or documents updated during ostensible ‘off’ hours could be waved away with a ‘oh, I guess it autosaved again after I’d stopped working’ or ‘oh, I scheduled that email to send later,’ but a consistent pattern is something that an audit could easily turn up.

                Reply
            2. MegaMoose, Esq

              My understanding is that wage and hour violations are difficult to prove, but that the time card isn’t really considered evidence of anything, because, as Natalie said, no company engaging in wage theft is going to document it. I could see time cards being used as evidence if they’re abnormally uniform, maybe? These cases are often structured as class actions involving lots of past employees who aren’t in a position to be loyal to a former employer who screwed them out of their paychecks. If the behavior is systemic (which realistically are the only cases that would go to trial) you’ll probably be relying on lots and lots of direct testimony.

              Reply
              1. MegaMoose, Esq

                Also, as came up elsewhere in the comments, you can’t agree to waive your FLSA rights, so I wouldn’t think that evidence that an employee agreed to an illegal arrangement would be worth much.

                Reply
                1. Zombii

                  >> I wouldn’t think that evidence that an employee agreed to an illegal arrangement would be worth much.

                  Counterpoint. That evidence, especially if documented by way of an official agreement drafted by the company, would be worth everything. Although not at all beneficial to the company. ;D

      2. Doodle

        Adding to this — it’s not only about the employee involved in the “deal”: another employee could report this to the state labor board, and the company would have to pay back pay/fines even if both the manager and the employee who requested it are happy with the arrangement.

        Reply
    2. AMPG

      I worked for a company where one team that used a lot of interns (pretty much the only hourly employees except for a couple of admin staff) allowed this quietly, and it was very much for their benefit – overtime was absolutely forbidden, and so it was the only way we could give them any flexibility without causing them to lose money. The expectation was that you couldn’t make up time for a day where you didn’t come in at all, but if you wanted to take some time off on a certain day, you could make up that time at any point during the 2-week pay period and just report 40 hours/week on your time card. I don’t think it would have been reported because it was always for the employees’ benefit – overtime would never have been approved, so the alternative would have been to lose paid hours.

      Reply
      1. Zombii

        Except once the overtime was worked (even secretly, off the books, not-really-overtime-because-reasons) it puts the employer at risk of paying backpay and fines to any employee who decides they don’t really agree with the arrangement after the fact.

        I understand it worked out for the interns in this scenario, and it’s too bad this couldn’t be done while following the law (like making up hours within the same one-week period), but it’s still a huge potential liability.

        Reply
    3. Jessie the First (or second)

      The Department of Labor can investigate on its own, even without receiving a complaint. The investigation is more than looking at whatever the employer insists is the official time card/record. So it is possible for an employer to get investigated EVEN IF no employee ever makes a complaint. (Unlikely in most industries, but not impossible.)

      Also, complaints can be made to the DOL very easily. A company assuming that no one will ever complain is making a really stupid decision.

      Reply
    4. Anonymity

      In a sort of similar situation, one of the managers at my employer has offered a kind of situational comp time, I suppose? According to a coworker this was offered to, if he worked 46 hours one week, he was fully paid for that. 40 regular + 6 OT hours. The incentive to work that OT was that later on, he could schedule with his supervisor to match the OT hours and take those hours off with pay. However, it couldn’t simply be added to his PTO bank; he would arrange to leave a couple of hours early and his boss would simply clock him out when his shift usually ended.

      So far as I can tell, upper management wouldn’t like it because they’re very strict about PTO, but nobody was denied pay. I know it’s not totally above board, but I don’t know if it quite reaches ‘illegal’ status?

      Reply
  20. Is it Friday Yet?

    OP2 Listen to Allison. As someone who has been on the receiving end of these messages, I can tell you that they’re really annoying and come off as extremely out of touch with professional norms.

    Reply
  21. David

    I am the writer of letter #2. (The Facebook Message)

    Thank you for answering my question! It was not the answer I was expecting or hoping, but it makes sense. I am currently employed, and am exploring other options. I should have noted that this would have been a private message, not on the public wall. I assume the answer is the same given your answer.

    I have little patience for HR departments/ Hiring Managers that post jobs and tell you to apply, but can’t take the 60 seconds to send a generic “Thank you for your application. We are not interested, good luck” kind of email, even after 2 weeks. HR should respond to every application. Even if there are many. It’s their job, afterall.

    I will just wait. Bummer!

    -David

    Reply
    1. Allypopx

      You’re in good company with that frustration, but I highly suggest you try to put it aside. It’s just going to make your job hunt harder on you if you get worked up every time you run into non-response, because you will run into it often. Every time you send in an application, just hope for the best, but move onto the next thing and don’t dwell. Good luck!

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Yeah – I’ve been actively job searching for seven years now (UGGGGGG) and if it were ever standard to acknowledge applications, it certainly isn’t now.

        Reply
    2. AMPG

      As someone who’s been on the hiring side, that’s not realistic unless you’re using application software that does it automatically (which is a great thing to have, and I’ve always appreciated getting one of those rejection letters). If they’re being processed manually, there are generally too many applications for each position to be able to do something like that. Most places I’ve worked have specifically noted in their listings, “only finalists for the position will be contacted.” I agree that anyone applying for a position should get a confirmation that their app was received, and anyone interviewed should get a follow-up of some kind, but more than that is too much to ask of whoever’s the main point of contact (which is not always HR) for applications.

      Reply
      1. David

        By the time you wrote that response, I could have sent four “We’re not interested” emails. Copy and Paste!
        Imagine what I could do in an hour or two! :)

        Reply
        1. Amber Rose

          Maybe a few hundred. But a few thousand? A few hundred thousand? On top of other duties, because HR is responsible for a whole hell of a lot more than just hiring related stuff? Lord knows if I asked our HR person to take two hours out of her other work she’d probably slap me in frustration.

          Reply
        2. cookie monster

          I get what you are saying, but generally speaking, if someone is involved in hiring, they probably
          1. don’t have an hour or 2 to just copy and paste email responses
          2. the cost for them to do this at their current rate of pay would be ridiculous considering the low level work involved
          3. what actual work is being put aside to instead copy and paste email responses?

          Reply
        3. AMPG

          I’ve never worked in HR, but I’ve run several job searches within my team, so everything I’ve done related to those searches is on top of my regular 40+-hour/week job. One extra hour on that process is one hour too many. Like I said, I appreciate companies that have an auto-response that goes out once a position is filled, but it’s just unreasonable to expect something like that to be done manually.

          Reply
    3. Amber Rose

      Social Media and FB in particular is like the Microsoft Excel of communication methods: it barely accomplishes what it intends to do, and is frequently used for things it is outright terrible for. Business communications is one of those things.

      I would say, smaller companies (like my own) dump the social media accounts on someone low level (like myself, sigh), and larger companies (like Denny’s) hire a completely separate company to manage them. So at best, your message would be read and ignored by an actual employee, and at worst, it would be read and mocked by someone from a company you don’t even know.

      Email is still your best bet for checking in on things.

      Reply
      1. 2 Cents

        +1 speaking as one of the cogs at a larger companies contracted out to monitor FB accounts, I can fully +1 all of this.

        Reply
    4. Jesmlet

      We have our own ATS that sends emails upon rejection, and in a perfect world the applicant would see this response, accept it and move on. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen and some of them end up harassing me and this usually leads to a week or two of regret for enabling this feature. This is probably part of why rejection letters aren’t as common as they should be – it’s not just the extra work of sending them, it’s the extra work dealing with the responses as well. Unless you have an automated rejection email in place or a dedicated person who just processes applications, it’s not realistic or efficient to send emails to everyone even if it’s just boilerplate.

      Reply
    5. LQ

      I totally get the frustration, but it is really in your best interest to do what you can to set that aside. There are so many employers who don’t do it you’ll just drown yourself in frustration. If it is a deal breaker for you then just make a note of it. If it isn’t (because HR and Hiring Managers are usually different people and often it would be an automated email from HR for that very first round) then just do your best to set aside that in your mind entirely once you’ve submitted your application.

      Reply
  22. NW Mossy

    OP #1, the only shot I think you have at influencing your work friend is if the conversation you heard pointed to something specifically actionable and your friend gives you a natural opening in conversation that would allow you to offer appropriate advice without attributing the source.

    For example, if you heard “Lucinda is always last-minute with her TPS reports and it’s a real problem,” followed by a conversation where Lucinda says “Man, I really hate always being down to the wire on stuff,” you could then say “Yeah, midnight-oil work is crummy, here’s some things that helped me with that….”

    That’s probably about as direct as you can get away with being, though. You absolutely cannot name names or even obliquely hint that this is “from above.” It has to appear that your advice stems solely from you wanting your friend to succeed. This is an exceptionally hard needle to thread, so I wouldn’t suggest it unless you have a hard-core poker face and a gift for nuanced conversation.

    Reply
  23. Sarah

    I ran #4 by Ask a Manager, and am very open to “taking care of people first” options. Here’s my situation: I work as an interim executive director and fill in for other executive directors when they need a sabbatical, resign or have been let go. I prefer to defer the hiring of permanent staff to the permanent executive director so h/she can put together his/her own team. So I hire staff members on a temporary basis. If I can offer vacation benefits to these temporary employees, then I’d prefer this option. This is a policy I’d have to prepare for approval by the board to go into effect the day it is approved. For the time being, though, it sounds the one employee can work her five hours early/late if this is legally allowed or not get paid for her five hours, right?

    Reply
      1. fposte

        I think she’s essentially restating her question from the original post. And yes, if I understand your question correctly, you can have her work more than 8 hours per day in the week she wants to take a day off to get her hours up to 40 for that week, since she can’t work over 40 the previous week; otherwise if she’s taking 5 hours off in week two, she’ll have to go without pay for those five hours.

        Reply
  24. nonegiven

    Where DH works they started working 9 hours M-Th and working 8 hours every other Friday. About half of the employees on each Friday. He loves having a Friday off regularly. I mean he really enjoys it, but they are working 36 hours one week and 44 the next.

    If there was an emergency and he had to work on his Friday off it would be time and a half. If he had to work on the weekend, it wouldn’t matter which week it was, it would be time and a half. But, it is apparently illegal and if someone complained they’d have to stop. I’m pretty sure if someone wanted to switch to 8 hour days week after week they’d let them do it, it’s not like they are closed on some Fridays. DH decided pretty soon after it started to switch Fridays to cover something that nobody else there on that Friday could do and his supervisor just said “oh, good idea.”

    Reply

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