how long should a raise take to go through, asking your boss to do your work, and more

It’s terse answer Thursday — seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. How long should it take for a raise to go through?

How long does it generally take for a raise to be implemented? I mustered up the courage to ask for a raise during a performance meeting with my manager this week. He was very enthusiastic and happily agreed (hooray!). He said he’d have to get approval for it but that he thinks it should be just fine. Then he made an offhand remark about it going through at the start of 2014. This took me by surprise and I think I just nodded in response. A delayed raise is still better than no raise, and I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but six and a half months seems like a very long time to implement it.

Yes, that’s ridiculous. That’s less of a yes to your raise request and more of a “I can’t give you a raise now, but we’ll do one for next year.”

I’d go back to him and say, “I realized after our conversation that you’d mentioned the start of 2014. I’d actually like to get an increase now, for the reasons we talked about.”

2. Do salary negotiations usually happen with your manager or with HR?

I’m currently working as a W2 Contractor for a large company. My contract expires in a few months, and there is the chance of the company converting me to full-time.

When I was initially hired as a contractor, my rate negotiation was with HR, but with my boss’ input and approval. I did not know that my boss was involved at the time, but found out later because I have access to the department’s budget and my rate was factored into the budget spend. (I’m a program manager). I also figured my boss was involved because she can give input as to what end of the pay scale i’d fall.

Do salary negotiations typically happen solely with the Hiring Manager, HR, or both? I’m trying to prep myself a bit because my job pays below the industry average and my boss is very VERY stingy. I kinda feel like I will have a better chance at a better salary if I were to deal with just HR. I feel that HR is focused on being fair and equal, and my boss is focused on her budget. How does it typically work?

Typically salary negotiations (particularly for existing employees) are with the manager, not HR. HR might have input on overall salary ranges and budgets, but existing employees should be talking to their manager, not HR. (And at companies where HR does handle this, it’s a bad set-up; this is part of a manager’s job.) I suppose it’s possible that in your case, they’ll treat the negotiations as you being a new employee rather than an existing one (since you’re currently a contractor) and potentially have HR more involved, but they really shouldn’t.

3. Can I agree to train for a new job but back out if I get a more stable offer?

I’ve been temping at my company making X/hr for a little over a year now. Two months ago, I applied to two jobs. One was a permanent position at my company that pays 1.5X/hr, and the other is a government agency that pays 2X/hr. Next week, I have a phone interview with the government agency, while I will hear by the end of the week if I’ve been accepted at my company. If I get accepted, I would have to go through 4 months of paid training. However, I will be tested during the training process, and I could be dismissed at any time if I don’t pass one of the tests. It’s also possible that only the top candidates will get permanent jobs at the end, so there isn’t necessarily a guarantee I will get a permanent job out of it.

In this situation, would it be ethical to accept an invitation to the training, only to withdraw partway through if the government agency ended up giving me an offer?

I tend to think that if they’re explicitly telling you that they’re not making a commitment to you and you could be let go at the end of the training, then you have no obligation to make a commitment to them. Which means it would be fine to withdraw partway through if you get an offer you like better.

4. Does my employer have to give me a raise?

I’ve been working for a well-known furniture store and I have been with them for a little over a year now. When I asked about my raise, I was told that it isnt in there policy to give raises at a year or at anytime unless the employee asks for it. Is this even legal?

Are you asking whether there’s a law that requires employers to give raises at set times, or ever? No, there is not. (And really, why would there be?)

5. Can I bring notes into a job interview?

A managerial position has opened up at the university that I work at, and I have an interview coming up soon. I have worked at the university for a little over 3 years, and this will be my first managerial position.

I have been doing a lot of brainstorming and research, and have a lot of great ideas about improvements I would like to make to policies, procedures and marketing for the department. I want to make sure that I remember to bring them up in the interview, given the opportunity. Also, I want to remember some important questions about the position that I have developed. Do you think it would be strange to bring in notes that I could quickly refer to? Or is it better that I just speak off-the-cuff, even if I forget some important points/questions?

Coming with notes is absolutely fine. You don’t want to read straight from them, but it’s fine to bring in notes to jog your memory and make sure you cover the points you want to cover. (It IS weird if you consult notes on some basic element of your job history that they’d expect you to remember on your own, like what type of work a particular job entailed overall, but that’s not what you’re talking about.)

6. Is it appropriate to ask your boss to do some of your work for you?

My employee is working on a data entry project and has to enter 5 more records, which might take an hour’s time. However, when I asked him the status on this project, he asked if I can help complete it. He says he is busy on an important deadline (which I am aware of) and since it’s only 5 records, if I can complete it. I am also busy with several projects but I can chip in if needed. But more than that, I am wondering is it appropriate to ask your boss to complete your work. I have never done that with my boss.

It depends on all sorts of factors, like the relationship with the boss, the person’s history, how urgent the work is, who else is available to help, and a bunch of other factors I’m probably not thinking of here. I mean, if he should have gotten it done by now himself or it’s reasonable for him to get it done himself by the deadline, or if the deadline isn’t looming or inflexible, then sure, it’s probably ridiculous for him to ask you to help him finish. On the other hand, there are lots of times where it would be reasonable for someone with a good work ethic and a history of not dropping balls to say, “I’m slammed with getting our quarterly report in on time, but Accounting says they have to have X from us by tomorrow. Realistically, I won’t be able to do both. Any chance you’d have time to send them those numbers?”

(But I admittedly can’t imagine asking one’s boss to do a data entry project, unless one’s boss also did data entry as a major part of her job.)

7. Company is post-dating paychecks

My husband works for a large international company and is paid bi-weekly. When he receives his check, it is always post-dated for several days later. I wondered if this is common practice in some companies? To me it seems an odd thing to do for such a large company, as though the funds aren’t yet available and they aren’t sure if they will be. Any insight you could give would be great.

Most states have laws that say that you must be paid within X days after work is performed. As long as the check isn’t post-dated for a date after that state-imposed deadline, this is legal. Which I know wasn’t your question, but I’m answering that anyway.

As for whether it’s common, one thing that isn’t uncommon is assigning payday as, say, every every Friday, but issuing the checks on Wednesday for all sorts of logistical reasons. And in that case, it wouldn’t be odd for them to be post-dated to the actual payday.

{ 166 comments… read them below }

  1. AG*

    I’m very curious as to if the checks would go through early. I have heard that not all banks look at or care about the date on checks.

    I’m also surprised that the company is issuing paper checks if they are that large. Doesn’t everyone do direct deposit now?

    1. KarenT*

      I was surprised a large company would be issuing checks also.

      I remember reading that post dating checks isn’t a legal thing, and banks aren’t obligated to check or honor it. The post dating is an agreement between check issuer and receiver. Once you sign a check, the bank can cash it. I can’t remember where I read that though!

      Also, post dated checks do slip through due to human error even if your bank is verifying dates. The company would be dealing with some financial issues if everyone cashed their checks early.

      1. Loose Seal*

        When I worked as a teller, we were not obligated to honor the post-date. If the funds were there, we cashed the check. However, checks do expire after six months — it’s called stale-dated — even if it does not explicitly say so on the check. So, if any of you are in the habit of holding on to checks after six months, you may find that even if it slips by the teller and you get it cashed, it can still be returned back to your account by the check writer.

    2. Noah*

      We give people the option of either a paper check or direct deposit. In my department only one person receives a paper check but the envelopes looks the same and no one would know.

      Our checks are also post dated until the next day. Checks and direct deposit slips are distributed to managers on Wednesday and payday is Thursday. I guess someone could run to the bank and deposit the checks early but the real goal is to allow us to catch any payroll errors and issue a paper check on Thursday or Friday if necessary. That way no one has to go a weekend with a smaller paycheck or no paycheck when the company screws up.

    3. FiveNine*

      My company mails what looks like a check — my parents in the past have mistaken it for an uncashed check — but it’s not, it’s actually basically my direct deposit “check”/pay stub/tax/vacation time info etc. But the top part of it really does look like a check. It arrives every other Friday, but our direct deposits are deposited on Tuesday. Paydays are Tuesdays; these are not the real checks. I’ve never looked at what the post date is on these “checks” but I’m guessing it’s for the Tuesday direct deposit and not the Friday we receive the paper trail in the mail.

      1. FiveNine*

        (I was in the hospital and my parents came into town to help with arrangements; when they brought me my bills they were alarmed at the pile of paychecks I hadn’t cashed, heh.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s what I used to get at OldJob. The previous boss lady would hand them out on Friday (payday). But your money would be in your account at midnight Thursday night. Shortly before I left, they went to online stubs, which is what NewJob has.

        1. Chinook*

          I have discovered that, with direct deposit, banks differ on when the money actually hits your account. My bank is awesome at my having access to the funds on the date it is deposited when it is in at 12:01 am but DH’s bank usually takes 1 to 2 days before it accessible.

    4. Natalie*

      Indeed, as far as I know banks aren’t required to honor post-dating. When I processed checks we left it up to the client, and only a few of them wanted us to reject post-dated checks.

    5. Risa*

      Our company offers a choice of receiving Direct Deposit or a check. We have a lot of employees who, for one reason or another, don’t have bank accounts. My MIL doesn’t have a bank account – she lives paycheck to paycheck, basically, so there’s not a lot of point. If she needs to pay a bill, she gets a money order. When she gets her tax refund, she has it deposited in our bank account and I give her the cash. Not everyone can afford a bank account, and companies should be flexible enough to accommodate paper checks.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The manager should be the one making decisions about things like salary. HR should be advising managers, and they should be looking out for things that could be legally problematic for the company, but their role should be an advisory one only. The manager should be the one in direct conversation with the employee. because … well, because they’re the manager. That’s not HR’s role.

      1. Anon-Mouse*

        Argh, I JUST got dinged by this exact scenario. A huge company I was excited to work for had their HR person negotiating the offer, rather than my would-be-manager. It was ridiculous–rather than being able to discuss flexible work arrangements and departmental culture with my MANAGER (who may well have been fine with my requests), I had this brick-wall of an HR supervisor talking HR policy and refusing to discuss anything but numbers (ironically, they kept wanting to pay me more, instead of considering my requests for flexible work arrangements or paid time off). I ended up declining the offer because it was just impossible to make the position work with my family obligations (based on the ‘by the numbers’ HR rules I kept hearing, anyway).

        Alison, if I ever come across this situation again, would it be reasonable to say something like (on the offer call with HR): “That’s great news! I’m excited to get to work. I’d love to talk to __manager__ to get an idea of how the terms of this offer translates to the role I’ll be taking on. Could you connect me with her to discuss?”

        Or do I need to just suck it up and deal with HR?

          1. HR NavalGaze*

            I defer anything beyond med benefits/policy manual/hire paperwork etc to the hiring manager. I might mediate if necessary but that’s as far as HR should go.

    2. Joey*

      Because HR really doesn’t understand what the employee is worth. The manager is the one closest to the work that needs to be performed and can/should be able to identify which skills are most valuable while also being able to best evaluate those skills in the candidate. I will admit though most managers tend to negotiate on salary and tend to forget about other very valuable factors of total compensation like health premiums, perks, retirement contributions, etc.

  2. KarenT*


    I feel that HR is focused on being fair and equal, and my boss is focused on her budget. How does it typically work?

    Sorry, but I promise you HR is protecting your manager’s budget also. HR works for and represents the employer, not the employees.

    1. Vee*

      I’m in HR (actually the only HR person in my organization) and I work for everyone. If an employee comes to me with a complaint against management, I deal with it appropriately, even if it means a decision “against” management. In that regard, I suppose I am protecting them against lawsuits. There have been several times I’ve looked at budgets and suggested reworks to salary schedules to resolve equitable pay disputes. I protect the organization.

      (Now I feel like Varys from Game of Thrones: Who do I really serve? I serve the realm.)

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Careful or you’ll end up being paraded through the streets with a direwolf head attached to your neck… =)

        1. FreeThinkerTX*

          WHAT?? This isn’t a spoiler, right? I’ve read all the books that have been published to date and watched all but the last episode of this season.

          Please tell me you’re joking. Pretty please?

    2. Chinook*

      “I feel that HR is focused on being fair and equal, and my boss is focused on her budget. How does it typically work? ”

      Keep in mind too that, as a contractor, you a line item expense (similair to office supplies – andm yes, I have no problem comparing myself to a very good box of pens) but when you are an employee your expense transfers to a completely different account (you are probably even paid out of a different cheque run). As a result, your manager would have negotiatied your contractor contract with an eye on his operating budget but, once you change to being a payroll expense, your are coming out of a different pile of money and he may feel less stingy because he knows it won’t affect him the same way.

  3. KarenT*


    I would never go to my boss to ask him for data entry help unless he was a data enterer also. Seeing as the OP thought the request was unusual enough to write in for advice, I’m guessing this is not the case would, however, absolutely go to my boss and say “I’m swamped with important deadline on important project. I still have the data entry project due. Can we bring in a temp/ get help from another department/have the intern do it/leave until next month…”
    The fact that you estimate it would take an hour makes your emoter seem a little petty.

  4. Ali*

    The “Is this legal?” questions are seriously reaching a new level of ridiculous here. Are people really this stupid?

    1. Josh S*

      No. Not stupid. They just imagine that “It’s not fair!” equates to “It must be against some law, somewhere.” Which is naive and shortsighted, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it (or them) stupid.

      1. Anonymous*

        Well, there is the limited case of “underage” minimum wage vs. regular minimum wage.

      1. Liz*

        I was thinking about how people complain when big business people get massive bonuses – “But its the law, we need to give these people raises!”

        … I agree with the naive coments

        1. IndieGir*

          Slight distinction here — it’s usually “We have a contract with them that says we owe them a bonus so legally we must comply” vs. by law we need to give a bonus. No law mandates that a company offer big bonuses any more than a law mandates raises.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            They could give them a bonus of $1.00 and still be legal.
            Boy, I’d pay a dollar to see that.

        2. Chinook*

          “I was thinking about how people complain when big business people get massive bonuses – “But its the law, we need to give these people raises!””

          There are a bunch of former health executives in Alberta that yesterday learned that not only are they not required to pay out bonuses but that doing so, after being asked by the government to reconsider, cost them their job (because said execs are employed by the government).

      2. Anonymous*

        Some union contracts guarantee it. OP for that question might have previously worked within a “lockstep” pay system. That normally works as follows:
        *If you gain a year of seniority, you get a permanent raise. Raise percentages are known and often renegotiated every few years.
        * If you get an extra qualification/certification, you either get a permanent pay bump (onto a higher “track”) or a one-time bonus.
        *Some very senior employees have maxed out raises for skills and seniority, so they don’t get raises unless all the employees get a cost of living adjustment.

        My dad works at a unionized organization; it’s a funny place sometimes.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      it’s possible the question asked had “raise” confused with “cost of living adjustment.”

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Oh, I totally agree. But maybe she thought a COLA increase was standard (we used to in the federal government until a few years ago. Oy).

    3. College Career Counselor*

      For #4, I think the OP is really asking “does the employer have to do a COL increase” and/or the OP may have worked at a place where they did annual increases like that and assumed it was common practice (which came out as “is this legal?”).

      But, Alison is correct. The wage at which you’re hired could be the exact same as the one at which you’re retired, unless you ask or change employers. Bottom line, nobody cares as much about your career (including your paycheck) as you do, so you’ve got to be your own advocate.

      1. Meg*

        Not necessarily true. If you were hired at minimum wage, and minimum wage went up, you’d also get the bump, regardless if you were still at minimum wage.

        I worked for a big box retailer that rhymes with Malwart, and although I wasn’t hired at minimum wage, there were a lot of people there who were. The one I really remember was this guy who started out as a cart pusher at 17. He had been there almost 3 years, got his annual raise of 40 cents/hr for his evaluation, got bumped up to customer service associate, and into a new pay scale. He was making like, $9/hr, which was more than me.

        I only worked there in 2008 when he he had almost been there 3 years, and when the minimum wage went up to $6.55 from $6.15 (the state’s minimum wage), he got another 40 cent raise. And I was confused because I’m like, “You don’t make minimum wage. How are you getting the increase?” And he explained it was because he was hired at minimum wage.

        I asked around, and I found that this was across the board, that it wasn’t just Malwart doing this. A professor at my college told me why.

          1. Meg*

            I was referring to the “The wage at which you’re hired could be the exact same as the one at which you’re retired, unless you ask or change employers” comment though, not raises.

          2. Anonny*

            I think a regular “Is This Legal?” post might be better, if it’s not too much trouble and that’s something you’d consider.

            1. Anonny*

              Oops, that was meant to be a reply to your post down below about posting “is this legal?” questions.

            2. Chinook*

              I think that would it would be a great idea for AAM to have a post entitled “The answer is yes (but that doesn’t mean it is ethical or fair)” with a list of is it legal questions.

              1. Chinook*

                Or do a “AAM Magic 8-ball” post that allows you to give a bunch of one-line answers.

          3. doreen*

            If you make minimum wage and the minimum wage goes up , the law requires that you be raised to a new minimum wage. But I don’t think that’s what Meg is talking about – she seems to be talking about someone who was hired at the then- minimum wage of S6.15 and got a .40 raise when minimum went up to $6.55 even though he was already making $9 an hour, which was above the new minimum. That’s probably a very common (maybe universal)policy among minimum wage employers- but I don’t think it’s the law .

        1. Sourire*

          That’s actually kind of nice. When I was in high school working as a cashier in a grocery store, I was hired at 10 cents above minimum and received (as everyone did) small raises every six months. A few years later, a state minimum wage increase hit, and suddenly I was making the exact same wage as the people they just hired. I was highly unamused by this, I have to say.

          1. twentymilehike*

            . A few years later, a state minimum wage increase hit, and suddenly I was making the exact same wage as the people they just hired.

            Ugh. This … ugh. I worked my butt off in a retail store in college, doing everything I could to get every possible raise I could. I started when min wage was around $6/hour (in the state of CA), and it took me almost four years to make about $2.50 more an hour than that. In the end I was training new hires who were making 25 cents less than I was because the min wage had been raised so much …

            1. Greg*

              You do realize this is the same attitude that perpetuates fraternity hazing, don’t you? ;-)

              1. Sourire*

                I see where you are getting that, but no, it’s not the same thing (at least for me, I can’t speak for twentymilehike). In the case of hazing it’s an attitude of “I was treated unfairly/badly and so you should have to be too”. Person A wants person B to suffer because Person A had to at one point. I did not want new hires to suffer. I simply wanted my compensation bumped up at the same rate. There is no direct* negative effect on person B, only a positive effect on person A (and possibly person B when the same thing happens to them in the future).

                *there could indeed be larger macro effects on them as a minimum wage employee, but I am talking in micro terms.

                1. twentymilehike*

                  Hmmm… hazing? Never even crossed my mind. (I did see the winky face though LOL)

                  In my case though, it was a retail store, pretty much all college students doing short stints and lots of 18-20 year olds complaining about having to work, being broke and learning about the real world. It’s not really a super serious situation, and in fact, thinking back on the antics that ensued back then and reading Greg’s comment, I absolutely had to laugh my ass off for a minute.

                  Don’t even get me going about the time my coworker and I were up to no good … the store had to end up replacing the toilet for a “mystery reason.” Ten years later we still laugh about it with the store manager. We thought we were So Underpaid.

    4. TheSnarkyB*

      I agree that the questions are getting silly/maybe ridiculous. But as someone pointed out below, a lot of things are prescribed by company policy and not by law. Not everyone knows the difference between those in practice. Many of us are lucky/privileged/educated/experienced enough to understand the distinction, but perhaps we can recognize that that knowledge is t universal and maybe we can try to be a little more patient about it. (I’m including myself in this. My eye rolls have gotten a little out of control.)
      Another part of this is that often, these questions are coming from minimum wage jobs, where people are often overworked and treated poorly. Can’t blame ’em for hoping that they have some legal protections that they don’t actually have.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m curious about people’s take on my inclusion of these overall. It’s just as easy (and probably faster) for me to just send them a quick response to their email to let them know the answer rather than publishing them here. I often do that, actually, but some end up here because I assume that if one person has the question, others probably do too. But I’d be interested to hear if there are too many of them, or it’s getting tedious, or whatever.

          1. Joey*

            Frankly, to me the questions are entertaining and a little bit of a reality check that reminds me how little people know about employment law.

            1. Chinook*

              As a non-American, I also enjoy reading them as it makes me appreciate some of our laws and better understand some of the American based employer’s policies and any employees who come from abroad to work here. They also can be plain old amusing to read.

          2. Josh S*

            Like the “Your boss sucks. Find a new job.” post from a while ago? That would be somewhat hilarious.

            Someone needs to make a GIF of a magic 8 ball coming up “Yes it’s legal” so that Alison can post it…

        1. Sourire*

          I think they are very helpful and should be kept in. I’m guessing a lot of the “naive” or new to working people that they help may not be represented quite as much in the comments, but they are definitely out there reading. You even got a question below about COLA raises and if they are mandatory, so obviously people do not know these things and your posting the answers helps more than just the question-asker.

          As to the suggestion of an “Is this legal” post, just my own preference, but I prefer the shorter answer type posts to cover varying topics. It keeps it interesting and makes it more likely that at least one or two of the questions piques my interest or is relevant to me. And for someone in a totally different sector, one or two of the other short answers may be relevant to them.

        2. some1*

          For your regular readers, it might seem redundant. However (and I believe I have mentioned this before), I have been baffled by the misconceptions people have about what is legal and what is not in the workplace. I have worked with people who had advanced degrees and 10+ years in the workforce who think it’s illegal for employers to give references or a bad reference, who think you can trash your employer on social media and it’s protected by Free Speech, or who think having bully boss automatically = “hostile work environment”.

        3. Natalie*

          I’ve found them very helpful as references for folks elsewhere on the internet (primarily reddit) that don’t read this blog and continue to repeat employment law urban legends.

        4. Yup*

          I think a lot of them serve a good purpose in correcting misinformation and urban legend. When I was new to the work world, I *definitely* had coworkers who ranted about things that they claimed were illegal: bad references, changed work hours, no raises, poor reviews, exempt workers asked to work weekends. I know better now, but I certainly operated under misapprehensions for years.

          So I’m sure there are people reading some of these questions for the first time, thinking “I didn’t know that!” But I totally get that these legality questions get stale for you and regular readers.

        5. Brooke*

          While I do like the “Short Answer” posts, I honestly get tired of the “Is it legal” questions. Maybe once in a while is fine so that the newer readers learn and understand, but after about a month of keeping up with your site, I know the answer just about every time (sometimes, I admit, I’m surprised to learn that something may be illegal, but those are few and far between). It seems like there has been a large amount of the “is it legal” questions lately… maybe not post those type of questions quite as often? Maybe only post the ones that are quite unique? Just some of my thoughts..

          1. Jamie*

            You make a good point about being a regular reader and knowing most of the time…this is one of the truly great benefits Alison provides. Read regularly and you begin to internalize the laws and logic involved in workplace situations. Correct information can’t help but make people better managers and employees.

            I think the repeat questions are a great reminder that information we just know and take for granted isn’t commonplace and that many people with whom we work are operating under erroneous assumptions.

            1. A teacher*

              Agree! I teacher the career classes so its fun to put up a scenario and quiz my kids at school and then compare their answer to Alison’s.

                1. A teacher*

                  Yep, I tried it in a few classes last year. We cover interpersonal dynamics in my first semester course quite extensively. I used a few “quirky” co-worker columns/posts you put up and let the class debate and then showed your answer. Its interesting to see what high school kids come up with. Some of them had actually dealt with similar situations in various high school jobs (working in a sub shop, lifeguarding, covering the fast food window, working retail, babysitting etc…)

                  I will probably expand on this for next year and can send you what we discuss at that time…

        6. Kate*

          I’d guess that the commenters tend to be more informed about workplace issues than the average casual reader. So there’s push back from some commenters, but there could be plenty of casual readers who find it helpful.

          Like some1, I’m often surprised by the assumptions people I know have about what’s legal. Just recently my brother (new to the work world, well educated, good common sense) was shocked to find out there’s no law that says private businesses have to let employees have federal holidays off.

          I like the idea of a big “Is It Legal” post lumping all the questions together, maybe once a month or biweekly.

        7. Katie the Fed*

          I LOVE these questions! Keep them!

          It also makes me thing that most career centers should hold a seminar called “Is This Legal? When to Be Outraged.”

        8. Elizabeth West*

          I’m all for keeping them, Alison, if they aren’t too much trouble. It’s helpful to be reminded that yes, something is legal, even though it may be stupid. And I guess you get ones that we all may be wondering about from time to time.

          I like the idea of a semi-regular “is this legal?” post.

        9. Wubbie*

          Maybe a weekly “Is It Legal?” post similar to the short answer sections? That way those who aren’t interested can easily skip the whole section.

        10. Runon*

          I think it is also valuable in a search engine kind of way. Next time someone goes out to search for it is legal for my employer to not give me a raise then this will come up. Having the answers out there is valuable, maybe not for people who read your blog all the time, but to refer people and for searchers.
          Keep them in.

        11. Joey*

          I’m curious do you have stats on how many people find you with an Is it legal search?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I just checked. In the last month, the word “legal” was in 1,332 searches that brought people to the site (out of 433,306 searches that brought people to the site in that time, so not a significant percentage, but still a lot of searches for it).

        12. Kou*

          I actually think I’d like to see a more elaborate answer for some of them– the “can they do this” questions, I think, are frequently not really asking about the legality. I get the impression they’re actually asking if the practices are considered good business ethics, or are common, etc. and how the writer should deal with them/if that’s something unreasonable enough that the LW should be pushing back or looking for a new job. I think they’re really asking “should I put up with this, and what can I do to stand up for myself.”

          So rather than “yes, they can, it’s legal, why would you even ask that” I’d kind of like to see some more guidance as to how the LW should actually deal with it, since they are frequently crummy policies or situations.

    5. Citizen of Metropolis*

      We are taught that the law is the ultimate protection when someone wrongs us. The sad fact is that today’s laws protect corporations, and not individuals. We know this, as frequent readers of this blog, because Alison points it out on an almost daily basis. Casual readers or people new this blog aren’t stupid for not knowing this as well as we do.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Lots of laws protect individuals too, for what it’s worth. It’s just that not everything is legislated (nor would people generally want it to be), and it’s reasonable to give employers room for their own judgment in most ways (like raises, etc.).

    6. class factotum*

      Considering how many things are illegal – no yard waste in the trash here, for example, I don’t think it’s so dumb to ask.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        True, and here you can’t change out a hot water heater without a building permit, so what is legal or not is certainly not obvious in many cases.


    You are a temp and owe no loyalty to the company. Put yourself FIRST and go where the best fit and $ is for you.

  6. jesicka309*

    #6 Do you have a history of dumping a heap of work on your employee at the last minute that needs to be done NOW? Your employee might be trying to set boundaries.
    On the flip side, this is what your employee could have written in here:
    “I’ve been flat out working on a huge project for some time. The deadline is tomorrow. My boss has known about this deadline, but today, she came and dropped a whole bunch of data entry stuff on me! I reminded her of the urgent deadline, and asked if she could do the data entry instead (as there’s no way I could even look at it before tomorrow afternoon, and it needed to be entered by 5pm today!). I know the big project is priority 1, (as does boss!) so how do I push back and get her to actually acknowledge that?”

    It might help to remember that sometimes, when the department is swamped, managers need to roll up their sleeves and help, or at least rethink how they are prioritising workload vs. job function. In a tight deadline, my manager offer to help where they can. There’s nothing worse than a stressed out department and a boss lounging in his chair unwilling to help because he “only does important manager stuff”.

    1. Kerry*

      I agree – my current department is very collaborative and my manager has no problem picking up work at all levels when it’s needed.

      My feeling on this question depends on the timeline of “has to enter 5 more records“, as I can’t tell when the employee learned about this – was it last Wednesday, or this morning?

    2. Amy B.*

      Agree, I can see this from both perspectives. I would rather my employee tell me he needed help and ask me for mine than I would he feel overwhelmed and stressed and miss a deadline. A lot of my managerial tasks can be put off in order to keep the workflow moving.

      Now, if it happened frequently…then we would need to evaluate what the problem was.

  7. ElinBlue*

    RE: Question 1
    I would double check that your manager didn’t mean Fiscal Year 2014, which might (depending on your company) start July 1 2013

    1. Evan (now graduated)*

      Speaking of which, where did the practice of having Fiscal Year 2014 start in mid-2013 come from? And why date it the following year instead of calling it “Fiscal Year 13-14”?

      1. Laufey*

        If your fiscal year isn’t a calendar year, you usually call it the year that it ends. It’s a way of making sure that everyone calls similar years the same thing. It helps if you think of years as “Year Ended,” so that a normal calendar year become the year ended December 2013, while the fiscal year is the year ended July 2013

        Some companies choose different fiscal years due to the timing of business. For example, jewelry stores do something along the lines of 80% of their business between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Having the year end at Christmas means that they have to do all their year-end financial stuff during their busiest season. It can also add a lot of variability into individual years, depending on whether people bought late in the season or early in the season. By having their year end on June 30 and begin on July 31, they get the full busy season in one year, which smooths out their earnings and makes it easier to budget (and still end on a quarter in a calendar year, which makes things easier for CPA/taxes, etc). An ice cream company, which has its busy season from June through August, is more likely to have a September or December year end.

        1. Cassie*

          If your fiscal year isn’t a calendar year, you usually call it the year that it ends.

          Thank you for posting this! A couple of years ago, I had the hardest time trying to figure out if FY14 meant ending in 2014 or starting in 2014 (I eventually figured it meant “ending in” but at the time, I couldn’t find anything definitive on the internet). I usually just use FY13-14 to avoid any confusion. Working at a university, we have our fiscal year (July-June), gov’t fiscal year (Oct-Sept) and academic year (I think it’s Oct-Sept, unless you are talking about faculty appointments, which is then July-June).

          1. Eric*

            At the university I worked at, FY 2014 would mean June 2013-May 2014, but FY13-14 would mean June 2012-May2014 (A two year period).
            On the other hand, Academic Year 2013-2014(AY 13-14) was a 1 year period from July 2013-May 2014. So confusing

        2. Layla*

          That’s not true for us ( I’m not in the US)
          FY 13 starts apr 2013 and ends march 2014

          I think it makes more sense to call it FY 13 as most of it is in 2013

      2. PEBCAK*

        It’s a choice for each organization, but it makes sense for organizations that have anything to do with education, because a typical school year runs August-June (give or take). Also, I know some large B2B-type businesses do it because their customers (on a calendar year schedule) do a lot of huge purchases in December, and they don’t want to be under their sales targets for the entire year and make them up at the last minute. I’m sure there are other good examples I’m not thinking of right now, too.

      3. Kate*

        I work for a university so the fiscal year runs Sept. 1 – Aug. 31. Like Laufey said, it’s because of the timing of business. It’s more logical to track finances (esp. tuition income) alongside the academic year. It wouldn’t be helpful to say, “Ok, so our income was down a little in calendar year 2012 because enrollment was down for the academic year starting in September, but income was down a lot in calendar year 2013 because of those same enrollment issues.” Saying, “Income was down FY13 because enrollment was down that year” is actually useful in assessing the financial state of the university.

        1. Poe*

          I work at a university as well, and ours runs April 1 – March 31. It’s maddening for project expenses in my area, as most programs/projects run along side our Sept.-Dec. and Jan.-Apr. terms, so a month is cut off the end of the Winter term. But we are a public institution, so we have to stick with the government’s fiscal year.

        2. Anonymous*

          At my uni, probably because of grants, our fiscal years are the same as the federal government’s.

      4. AgilePhalanges*

        What’s really fun is when the companny colloquially calls it by the year it ends, but the ERP system uses the year it begins, and you work in accounting and constantly have to clarify which you’re using.

      5. Al Lo*

        Many arts organizations run their fiscal year July 1 – June 30 because of the timing of their programming — a theatre season, for instance, tends to run on an academic year schedule. On the other hand, my theatre company runs Jan 1 – Dec 31 because we tend to tour shows over the summer, so having our fiscal year break in the middle of a tour would be awkward and counter-productive. On the other other hand, there are organizations that run, say, a film festival in September, and their FY ends October 31, so a majority of the expenses and income for each year’s festival are contained within the same fiscal year as the festival itself.

    2. OP*

      This is a very good point! But I am fairly certain that our fiscal year follows the calendar year.

      I think I’m going to wait ’til the end of next week and see what my manager says about the start date of the raise when he follows up re: approval. I find these kind of conversations so difficult!

  8. Gigi*


    It would’ve been helpful for the employee to first identify that they were going to be behind, before the supervisor asked about the status. In this case it seemed like the employee wasn’t able to catch that they were going to be behind, and when asked about it their only offered solution was to ask the supervisor to do it for them.

  9. Katie the Fed*

    #6 –

    I’m kind of torn on this. On the one hand, I think it can be good for the team to see you jump in and get your hands dirty once in a while, plus it keeps you in touch with how the work gets done. On the other, I’m not sure it’s appropriate for the employee to ask the boss to do it. But yeah I’d probably jump in and help if I had time.

  10. TBoT*

    With #2, I wonder: By saying “I’m a W2 Contractor,” is the OP really a temp worker employed by an agency? (I’ve heard plenty of people who were effectively temps call themselves contractors, but I don’t think I’ve heard the label “W2 contractor before.)

    If so, that’s probably why all the salary stuff went through HR, not the manager. At my company, HR talks to the manager about temp workers’ salaries, but all the actual offer-making and any negotiation happen between the candidate and HR, with HR going back to the manager if needed. This is because the company is hyper-vigilant about not blurring the lines between W2 people and 1099 people, because of all the potential legal and tax problems that can incur if done badly.

    From my experience, even though HR was doing all the offers when the person was in a temporary position on an agency’s payroll, the manager is way more involved if that person is converted into a full-time employee.

    1. Meg*

      It’s possible that they are federal contractors or similar. I would consider myself a W2 contractor… but I’m a federal contractor.

      It’s a little different than a temp agency. I’m a full-time salary employee of my contracting company, and an indefinite contractor for my client (meaning I have no termination date). When I was going through salary negotations, I went through my contractor, who sent it to the client because effectively, the client was paying my wages to the contractor, and I’ll get a check from my contractor.

      I get W2’s from my contractor, not my client, instead of 1099s.

      It’s possible the OP works in a similar fashion.

    2. RubyJackson*

      Where I work, we have “limited term employees” and they are on the payroll, receive health benefits, retirement benefits, accrue vacation and sick days, etc., but have an end-date to their employment. Sometimes the term is extended. Their earnings are reported on W2 forms at the end of the year, as being paid by the company.

    3. OP to #2*

      Hello! I’m the OP to #2. I say I’m a W2 contractor because my company also hires independent contractors, so there’s this big differentiation between the two there, both in terms of how we are paid and how we are treated (the laws between the 2 types of contracting). About 15% of the company is on a W2 contract or is an independent contractor.

    4. Risa*

      I took this to mean they are employed directly by the company they work for, but with a limited term. We do that here in the call center I run to cover our busy season. Hire direct with a set end date, including the possibility of regular employment at the end of the term. It is less expensive for us to hire direct and manage the employees ourselves. That and our COO hates using temp agencies.

  11. IndieGir*

    #6 — I sort of sympathize with the employee asking for help, but really dislike the tone. I would never ask my boss to pitch in when I am overwhelmed. Instead, I’d go to her and say “You’ve asked me to do A, B, C, and D, and have it done by X. If you also want me to do E, I’d be happy to do it, but how would you like me to reprioritize my other tasks, as it is not possible to get them all done by X.” This puts the ball back in the boss’s court, b/c after all, it’s her job to help manage my workload. If this results in the boss pitching in and doing it herself, that’s fine, but then it is her choice. Likewise, I often take work from my reports and do it myself when I’ve given them something more urgent to handle. But I’d be irritated if my report just baldly asked me to help do their job.

    1. Brooke*

      Love the way you worded the request! I think the perspective is great – still asking your boss for help, but not asking them to do your work for you.

      1. IndieGir*

        With that boss in particular, I had to manage up a lot. She was generally a good boss, but would forget how much work she had given you and then want you to drop everything and work on a last minute crises instead. Everyone on the team always wondered why she never did that to me — and it was simply because when she tried to, I reminded her of all the other stuff she had given me, and she’d always choose to give the crises to someone else instead!

  12. Coffee Bean*

    For #3, Alison is right, but the company might necessarily not see it that way. It would be good to find out if you can whether leaving mid-training would burn the bridge or not.

    Are there colleagues you could ask informally how the training period usually works? Because there’s a big difference in “They only keep the top 10% of trainees” and “they usually keep everyone, but they wrote that language in the offer because this one guy one time was a terrible hire and put us through bureaucracy hell to fire him.”

    1. Coffee Bean*

      oops, that first sentence should say “not necessarily see it that way” – a small but important difference!

  13. Lisa*

    #6) Your employee trusts you, and thinks of you as a team player in a true sense not the BS way that managers tend to use the phrase to deny raises, promotions, and give generic feedback without actually answering a persons’ questions. (sorry mini rant).

    Anyway, your employee believes that you are there for the company as well as them, and I hope that you take this as a compliment. That person believes that you don’t have an ego, that they can be honest with you about not being able to finish it because of focusing on the deadline (assuming its more important), so they asked if you can do the data entry thing. I hope they asked, and didn’t just dictate that he expects you to do it.

    He knows you want the data thing wrapped up, and mentally checked off so his request seems like a win win. Only you can decide if you are going to do it, assign it to another person, or have it put on the backburner until the other deadline is over.

    But, honestly take it as a huge compliment that your employee believes that you will step in and do grunt work if needed and not just have internal meetings about making deadlines and how you can ‘help’ him prioritize and manage his time better. (ok more mini rant).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That’s one interpretation, but there are a lot of others that could be correct. One is that the guy doesn’t understand roles in the office and what would and wouldn’t be a good use of a particular person’s time, how resources are allocated, and what to do when workload is too high.

      A manager pitching in to get work done isn’t always inherently a good thing. In many cases, it would be a poor decision that wastes resources. For instance, if that time could be better spent pitching something to the media, solving a product problem, or doing other higher-level work that only she can do, it would be poor judgment to spend it on data entry.

      1. some1*

        I agree with this. I think the LW’s employee should have gone to the LW for guidance about the data entry project, and the LW could have assigned the rest of the project to someone else. Just because something needs to get done doesn’t mean the boss has to do it.

        1. V*

          It’s possible that the boss is one of the only people familiar with the software in the office, and that’s why the employee asked the boss as opposed to having the boss delegate the task to someone else. It’s also very possible that the employee is clueless of how things work in a business… There could be a lot of factors at play here that we don’t know.

          I definitely agree with Alison that there are times when you should use a manager’s resources on something else, but I think we are overlooking the OP’s original question, “…is it appropriate to ask your boss to complete your work?”

          As long as the employee wasn’t rude or demanding, I think it’s fine for an employee to ask for direct help from the boss. Whether the manager has to agree to it, is up to her own discretion.

      2. Lily*

        There really are people who don’t understand roles and priorities in the office. I had someone tell me she didn’t have time to get a short task I had assigned her done and then turn around and do a co-worker’s work (taking several hours) without even consulting the co-worker.

        As an aside, I really understand now why managers have to explicitly warn employees that their job is in danger and spell out the consequences.

    1. Evan (now graduated)*

      For fairness? You could make that argument.
      By law? No.
      A salary can even be cut for no reason whatsoever, as long as it’s not done retroactively. So why in the world would any raise ever be required?

      1. AP*

        I think that is the necessary distinction here – some contracts, unions, organizations do require them as policy – but this is an internal policy, not law.

        1. Josh S*

          Well, sort of. Union Contracts are covered by a TON of laws, including FLSA and well, general contract law. It’s FAR beyond internal policy. The employer is often legally required to uphold their contract.

          So while the contract is negotiated between the two parties and isn’t legislation passed by an elected body, it does in some sense carry the force of law in a way that an internal policy does not.

          (Standard disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am certainly not *your* lawyer. This is not legal advice. You should assume that I learned all I know about the law from the guy I sat next to in lockup during a misspent youth.)

  14. TheSnarkyB*

    #4, I’m a little disturbed by your phrasing, “When I asked about my raise.” What made you think it was your raise?
    Did they say something about giving you a raise? If not, it sounds like you were pretty presumptuous about it and you might want to watch out for that attitude bc it could work against you actually getting a (deserved, not presumed) raise.

    1. Sourire*

      It sounds like the letter-writer may be operating under the assumption that raises (or COLA) are legal, yearly things (perhaps due to a company police where he or she worked previously).

      It would be a bit like coming from a state that has mandatory break laws to one that does not, not realizing this, and wondering what exactly happened to “your” break. Something he or she needs to clarify and rectify going forward, but I don’t believe it’s any type or entitlement attitude.

  15. Anonymous*

    #6. My boss is “big time.” She has tons of meetings, deadlines, and other projects we all have no idea about, but last week she was with us stuffing stupid envelopes because she knew 1. it sucked 2. it was wasting everyone’s time 3. more people = faster finish.
    having a boss who understands sometimes the work can get overwhelming is invaluable.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you look at it from the perspective of the company, that’s rarely a good use of their resources. It might have felt good, but if her time is truly valuable and she has important work to do that no one else can do, I doubt it was a wise use of her time.

      1. KayDay*

        Actually, though, with some things like stuffing envelopes (which goes by exponentially faster with more people) getting it done so the junior employee can also move on to other things isn’t necessarily a waste of time. My boss has actually helped with this (although I didn’t ask, she just volunteered) because it needed to be done quickly, because I had other things I needed to do. If she hadn’t helped, I would have been stuffing folders all night while she was eating dinner. Point being, it really depends on the situation, there are plenty of times when the higher-level person might not have anything super urgent while the junior level person has an unmanageable work load.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, if it’s 20 minutes of her time, maybe. But more than that and it’s hard to justify. You can bring in temps for $10/hour to get it done, rather than having her spending her time on it.

          1. books*

            You can bring in temps, sure – but you can’t bring in a temp at the last minute to get a major deliverable printed and copied the night before it’s due when guess what – we’re all exempt and it’s free for us to be in the office until o’dark thirty.

      2. Anonymous*

        True, but there’s nothing to indicate she sacrificed a more significant opportunity in order to stuff envelopes. I think the original comment was more appreciate of having a boss who was willing to pitch in, empathized with her employees, and didn’t position herself as above doing menial work that needs to be done. This is a legitimate act of leadership.

        I would not underestimate the value of creating this sense of appreciation in the employees. Inspiring your team is usually a worthwhile investment of time. This boss contributed something other than just getting the envelopes stuffed.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I know that’s a popular ethos, but I disagree with it. Yes, in very rare cases, pitching in like this can send a nice symbolic message that you’re all in the work together, but it shouldn’t happen more than very infrequently. Managers should focus intensely on the areas where they bring the most value and not spend time in areas where they don’t. (And I would argue that if she didn’t have a better way to be spending her time, there’s a problem there. And also that she can find plenty of other ways to create a sense of teamwork.)

          I feel particularly strongly about this because I come from a background in nonprofits, where you have a moral obligation to deliver on your mission — your budget will go further if you hire temps to stuff envelopes while you stay focused on the higher-level work that only you can do. It’s not about pulling rank but about responsible use of limited resources.

          1. Anonymous*

            It seemed to be rare in this case, and the original comment does not reflect a sense that the “big time” boss is not taking care of the higher priorities. While it is certainly possible to create a sense of teamwork in other ways, I am in favor of taking advantage of opportunities that arise.

            I will admit that I can imagine a different scenario where I would agree with you. “My boss just doesn’t seem to want to be a manager. Whenever there’s a task she doesn’t like about her job – reviewing our financial statements, filling out our performance reviews, generating our monthly report, etc. – she comes down to the shop floor to hang around and stuff envelopes! Our CFO is furious, we never get raises, and no one else in the company knows we saved our biggest account last month. How do I get my boss to do her work? I can take care of the envelopes, which is my job, but I just can’t do hers.”

            I think then I would be focusing on what you are, but I’m just not there from what was actually contained in the comment. A lot of management is having the judgment to know the best way to respond in a specific situation – with an employee who is late, for example, the right answer can range from sympathy to termination depending upon the circumstances. I admit my perspective may be colored by my own assumptions.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I won’t belabor this, but I do want to say that it’s not just about whether the manager is taking care of her higher priorities. At least where I come from (nonprofits where the work never ends and the stakes are high), there’s generally always something else you could be doing to drive the big-impact items on your plate forward, and not spending your time on those when you have the choice would be the wrong call.

              1. JuliB*

                From a different perspective, maybe it was helpful to big boss to do some brainless work for awhile in addition to the positive feelings she generated in her staff.

                I’m a consultant, and have to frequently be ‘on’. I have a lot to produce, but there are times when I have to scan in documents and perform other ‘housekeeping’ tasks. It really helps keep me sane. While this doesn’t take long, it is a low value task and at times I look forward to it.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think that’s totally legitimate. My beef is with the ethos that managers have an obligation to “pitch in” on this kind of stuff.

                2. -X-*

                  The boss pitching in stuffing envelopes as a mental break, or for an opportunity to hang out with other people as a change is fine. If it’s done briefly and consciously (recognizing any opportunity costs) and rarely.

          2. KellyK*

            I think it might depend on whether the manager is actually going to get less work done if she helps with the low-level task or not (which depends on what else she has going on and how involved the low-level task is). Assuming an exempt manager, her spending an extra half hour or hour on something is technically no extra cost (though obviously it’s going to either affect higher priorities or burn her out if it’s done more than rarely).

            Also, can you get temps for partial days, particularly on short notice? Because it doesn’t sound like we’re talking about a full day’s worth of tasks. (I’ve never been responsible for arranging for temps, so I’m curious more than anything.)

          3. Bagworm*

            What if the manager is working unpaid overtime they otherwise wouldn’t work though? My last job (also at a nonprofit) was always making the case that it was cheaper to have me (an exempt employee) do something like stuffing envelopes than to hire a temp because they didn’t have to pay me. In the end I don’t think they really saved though because I wasn’t interested in working 50+ hours so I could stuff envelopes.

              1. FreeThinkerTX*

                Exactly. If they thought it was so cost-effective to have *you* stuffing envelopes, then they should have been stuffing them right alongside you. *Their* pay wouldn’t change if they did, right? >;-)

          4. Runon*

            Yes but if you really focus on things like making your budget go as far as you can then some of the best things you can do are invest in significant marketing campaigns with flashy, high end design. Because they work and would bring in significantly more money. There is however a general feeling that people don’t want to do that because they want to keep overhead as low as possible and don’t recognize that sometimes spending 1mil on marketing can bring in 25 mil in funds. Instead they get super excited about the “overhead free” bake sale that brings in $50.

            This is because people are highly irrational creatures. In a highly irrational world sometimes the best thing a boss can do is create a work environment where all staff feel like their jobs are important by stopping to stuff envelopes, because that will help keep top performers and make everyone work harder.

            Bringing rationality to human endeavors is always difficult.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, you have to make sure that you’re spending your resources — both money and time — where they will have the biggest impact. We’re in full agreement there.

              But I’ve yet to see a top performer who needs to be motivated by seeing her manager stuff envelopes, assuming the manager is otherwise good at her job.

    2. Lisa*

      I have to agree that doing it faster can be the best use of the company’s resources. We had gift lists that we sent to all past holiday customers, that need to be crossed checked and then printed, sorted, stuff. I made a plan that we could get it done in a week using 8 people. I wanted it done, and designated 1 person to handle all calls and traditional work, while the rest of us (including the owners) jumped in and took one for the team. The goal of finishing was in the best interest of the company as it was 3000+ envelopes that would be messed up if done over several weeks due to the amount of paperwork and how we had every set in bins to keep it in order of state recipient. If you knocked over a bin, you saw my face fall to the floor knowing that the awful system would require me to reprint all 3000 lists. no page numbers, no consistent client ID per page.

      I also knew that creating an atmosphere of let’s come together and do it, made the work go by sooo much faster than if i assigned it to only my subordinates while doing their regular work. So yeah I get that most managers have more important things to do, but sometimes it can be a great thing knowing that your manager will roll up their sleeves no matter what – whether its a big deadline, or a small thing that the manager wants wrapped up now to cross off their list.

  16. Ali*

    I think they are getting a little too tedious, but if you were to do one post about it, it could be along the lines of the “Your boss sucks and isn’t going to change” post.

  17. SEBarbara*

    #5 – be careful on how you bring up your ” great ideas about improvements I would like to make to policies, procedures and marketing for the department.”

    You didn’t mention if you are working in this department already, so I don’t know how much you know about the people and how decisions are made in that department. But tread carefully in the interview and if you get the job. People can be very attached to the status quo and there may be things you don’t understand about why things are the way they are.

    If you really want to mention your ideas, only mention the least aggressive of your ideas of changing policies and procedures. The marketing ideas might be OK, IF that is part of the position. If you just have all these ideas for the department but don’t know who is the actual decision maker on things or why things are the way they are, don’t mention your ideas in the interview without them asking.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yeah, that is what I was thinking. You want to sound like a go-getter who has already thought about the job and what you can bring to the table. You don’t want to sound like someone who doesn’t understand the nuances of why some things are done the way they are and are only interested in getting your fingerprints all over and making your mark.

    2. Cassie*

      That struck me as well. If the dept was in dire straits (like if it’s Circuit City or Mervyn’s), then it makes sense to go into the interview with plans on improving. They probably wanted to bring in someone who can turn things around.

      If there’s an opening only because the previous person left, it’s probably not a good idea to show up and proceed to tell them that everything in their dept is wrong and you have the perfect plan to fix it.

      Even if the OP has been working in the dept, it’s only been 3 years – that’s pretty short, especially since this would be the first managerial position.

  18. Wubbie*

    #1 – I remember a time I was supposed to get a promotion and 8 months later all I ever heard was “Everything has been approved. The paperwork just has to clear. Be patient. Soon! Soon!”

    So I finally went into my boss’ office and told him I really needed it to happen or I’d have to start to investigate other opportunities. Just like magic, the paperwork just happened to finally clear the following day.

  19. MJR*

    #3 – Read the fine print – if it says that you are under the obligation for repayment for whatever the circumstances are then you decide whether to bail or proceed with training. If you don’t want to lose money, then find somewhere else.

  20. Greg*

    #1. I’ve found it’s always worth it to ask if a raise can be made retroactive to the day it was verbally approved. Certainly can’t hurt to ask.

    #2. At my old company, they had HR negotiate all salaries because (I suspect) they feared managers would make too many concessions in order to get the employees they wanted. And they were probably right. As a manager, I would always err on the side of having a new employee come in and feel like they were being paid fairly. If they feel like they got screwed, that’s a bad way to start the relationship.

    1. books*

      #2 – I’ve only ever negotiated with HR. At my current place of employment, HR does offers and negotiates, but they confer with managers to make sure they are in the right place. HR knows what are typical salaries/concessions to be made, I don’t think my manager even knows what the range for positions looks like.
      (Granted, who knows what I could have gotten if negotiating with my manager instead! Maybe a puppy?)

  21. AllisonD*

    It amazes me how frequently OPs ask if something is legal. If it some sense of entitlement? This question comes up all the time.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s entitlement–it’s just not knowing. There’s a lot of belief about legal stuff that has nothing to do with actual law, and we also get it drummed into us in school that Things Are to Be Done Fairly. It takes a while to learn just how little law there is dealing with a U.S. workplace.

  22. kf*

    7. My company has union workers. We are required by contract to have their paychecks in the employees’ hands by their payday. We are also not allowed to make anyone use direct deposit. In order to ensure all paychecks are received by the pay date, they are mailed earlier in the week. The payday is Friday and the paychecks are all dated Friday but the checks may be received by Wednesday or Thursday. The pay check is not supposed to be cashed until the actual pay date of Friday.
    The bank account is funded for the checks on Thursday nights and the bank does not receive the check information from our company until Thursday nights. When an employee cashes their paycheck early, it does kick out of the bank for the company accounting department to review if it is a valid check. It is a lot of extra work for my department.
    I don’t believe the company is post dating the checks, they are just ensured they are received before the actual employee pay dates of Friday. If the check was a direct deposited check, it would go into the bank account Thursday night / Friday morning.

  23. Kat M*

    I have a question about the whole “must be paid within a certain amount of time” answer to #7. I’m assuming that this is just for employees, and not 1099 folks? Because I don’t get paid for services rendered until Medicaid pays the clinic, and that’s typically 6-8 weeks out, sometimes more. I’m lucky to be in a financial position where this doesn’t bother me, but it’d be good to know for sure anyhow.

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