disclosing a side business, how much of a salary hit to take when changing jobs, and more

It’s seven short answers to seven short questions. Here we go…

1. Recruiter suggested paying for a pre-employment test study guide

My partner is looking for a job and was recently contacted by a recruiter. She was given an official application to complete as well as a link to an assessment. The recruiter highly suggested that she download and use the study guide prior to taking the assessment. The catch: the study guide is $18. While that is not a lot of money, I’ve never heard of having to pay for a study guide for a pre-employment test and never had to do so. In fact, I just began a new job that required a test but no study guide was offered (you either know it or your don’t) and the test was free of charge to me.

Is paying for the study guide for a pre-employment test standard now? I have googled both the recruiter’s company and his name but have found very little. I suggested that she get the name of the organziation that he is recruiting for and confirm that his company is working on their behalf. Did I give her good advice?

Paying for a study guide for something like this is absolutely not normal. In fact, it’s the sign of a scam. Under no circumstances should she pay for the study guide — and she should be prepared for there to be no real job either.

2. Asking about your chances as a candidate before going on a different interview

My husband is looking for a new job and had 2 interviews last week! The first interview was over Skype with a job that would take us to a completely different state. The second was at a place where he has previously worked that is a few hours away from where we are currently living.

The first job called today to ask him to be one of 4 candidates to come for an in-person interview. This would mean flying and we would be covering the cost of the plane ticket. The second job told him they were doing background checks and would let all the candidates know yes or no in 2 weeks. The two people who conducted the interview for the second job are my husband’s former colleagues with whom we have always been very friendly. He does not want to seem unprofessional but also, I think, would prefer the second job over the first.

Would it be inappropriate for him to send an email asking about his chances as a candidate or at least making them aware of the situation with the other job? Or is it best to just wait out the two weeks without saying anything and send him out of state for this interview to keep all options open?

I wouldn’t send that email, because (a) it will put them in an awkward position by implying he’s hoping to use his insider status to get insider information and (b) it probably won’t give him useful information anyway. They’re not ready to give a definitive yes, and so the best they could tell you is that he’s a maybe or a no — either of which would point toward your husband flying out for the interview with the other job. So he might as well just move forward with that interview without bugging his former coworkers for an answer that they’re not ready to supply.

3. Manager mentioned that I’ve called out sick a lot this year

I called out sick this week for 1 day. When I called in, one of my managers told me that I have been doing that a lot lately. That caught me off guard, but I answered politely and we ended the conversation. As I sat there, I tried to remember all of the times I have called out and why. I could only recall only 3 times this year, all due to illness; this time, I had a significant fever. Granted, it was always that manager who answered when I called, but is that a lot in one year? Not only that, I work for an ambulance service. If I came into work ill, is that not the definition of negligence?

Three times in seven months isn’t hugely excessive, although it’s more frequent than a lot of people do. Your manager handled it badly, though — if she’s concerned, she should address it directly with you, not make an off-hand remark like she did. If you’re concerned, go talk to her about it when you’re back in. Say something like, “I’ve taken three sick days this year, all when I was legitimately ill, and I didn’t think that was excessive. But do you have concerns about my attendance?”

4. Do I still have a job offer?

I am an international student in Europe who just received a job offer. The procedure was as follows. The HR manager interviewed me (first phone and then Skype the same day), and that went well, and she told me I’d have a Skype interview with the head manager which took place very quick, a day after interviewing with the HR manager. Minutes after the Skype interview, the HR manager calls me and says I have a job offer and that she will email me the details the next day.

However, the next day rolls around and instead, I receive an e-mail asking for a motivation letter of exactly why I want the job and how committed I am (she stated it was because hiring internationals is very expensive so they want to make sure I’m dedicated). That was Wednesday. I sent my letter Thursday. Now, it’s four days later. I haven’t heard anything from them, and I’m getting increasingly nervous. What do you think happened? Is the offer still there? I sent an additional email after the motivation letter, but still no response!

It’s something of a contradiction that they want to make sure you’re dedicated, but their hiring process is so haphazard that they’ll make a job offer to you seconds after interviewing you. And then put it on hold a day later when they decide they have more questions. I’d actually be questioning whether you want to work for them at all, given how sloppy, cavalier, and disorganized they seem, especially if an international move is involved.

I’d wait a week from your last contact to follow up, and then if you still don’t hear anything, I’d move on.

5. How much of a salary hit should I take when moving from a start-up to an established nonprofit?

I have been interviewing for a role at a very established nonprofit organization that is technically a step down from my current position at a start-up nonprofit. I went into the interview process knowing that I would be taking a hit on the salary side as well as on the title, but decided to move forward anyway because I thought a slight decrease in pay a) should be expected and b) was something I could handle. The HR rep I spoke to before I started interviewing ask me about my willingness to take a pay cut and I responded that I would be willing to take about $10K less than what I am currently making.

The interview process went really well and I was offered the job, but the salary offer came in about $20K lower than my current salary. I was told (after trying to negotiate up to my original number) that their starting salaries are non-negotiable (this was confirmed by HR).

The job feels like a really great fit and I would be really sad to turn it down, but I don’t think that is a realistic size of a pay cut to take, even for the stability of an established organization. I would love to hear your thoughts on if I am being too picky or if this is a completely standard size pay cut to take when making a move like this.

It’s really hard to say — nonprofit salaries vary widely. Some are competitive with for-profit salaries, others are a bit below, and others are far below. So unfortunately, there’s not an overall standard that you can use. Ultimately, you really just need to decide if you’re willing to take that large of a pay cut in exchange for whatever you’ll be getting in it.

(If it helps, you can look at the organization’s 990s on Guidestar to get a better sense of their finances and what their highest-paid people make.)

6. What information to list for references

Whenever I have to give a list of professional references, I’m always confused as to what to put for my reference’s relationship to myself. If these are former colleagues, do I list the position that person held when we worked together (and the company we were employed at) or their current position and company? Does it matter?

Yes, you want to explain what their relationship was to you when you worked together. List their title from when you worked together and the company where that happened. If they’ve since moved on to another job, you can add a parenthetical note explaining that, as well as any other context that will be helpful. For instance:

Jane Smith, Director of Special Projects, Teapots Inc. (Jane was my manager when I worked at Teapots Inc. but moved on to Saucers Ltd. last year)

7. Do I need to disclose my side business before accepting a job offer?

I am expecting a job offer for an administrative assistant position at a company that teaches English as a second language. I am also planning to do some tutoring on my own outside of work — both ESL and a foreign language I speak. Am I obligated to disclose my tutoring business before accepting this type of job? (I wouldn’t mention anything before receiving an offer.)

I don’t see it as a conflict because I would be tutoring people already in the area on a one-on-one basis. The (very large) company brings people from overseas and organizes formal classes. I also would be sure not to mention my business to any clients of the company. I feel I am within my rights to keep my business to myself, but it’s possible the company could eventually find out and I don’t want to be seen as sneaky, or as a competitor and risk losing my job. If I disclose it up front, I am afraid they may rescind the offer. It might be worth mentioning that my business is very small at the moment — I have less than 5 students.

Yes, you should mention it. If there’s any chance that they could rescind the offer over that, you want to know that NOW — not get fired for it later on after you’ve already started. Many companies have a conflict of interest policy that arrangements like this could violate; on the other hand, their policy might simply require that you disclose the work. Either way, you’re better off being up-front and finding out their stance on side work.

{ 172 comments… read them below }

  1. Confused*

    OP #1
    Keep the $$ to yourself (and ssn too, while you’re at it)…something’s fishy…proceed with caution.

    1. Elise*

      I agree. It sounds just like a new version of the pay-for-a-background-check scam that’s been around a while. Once one becomes well known, they adjust it a bit.

      1. Jessa*

        Yeh it sounds like they make a fortune on that very small amount of money for a book. Which sounds like a reasonable amount for a test book to most people who do not know better.

    2. Felicia*

      I would never pay for anything related to a job search, and if I was asked to would probably run the other way.

      1. Chinook*

        The only exception to never paying for anything job search related that I have made is for my criminal background check. But, since I am paying the money directly to the police agency doing the check and not a third party, I know it is not a scam (and the charge is so minimal you can tell it is paying for the labour to do the work).

      1. Chris*

        The question doesn’t make clear if the hiring company runs the test and sells the book themselves, or if a pass might be more widely relevant than this one job. Paying something to get a standardized credential valued by many employers isn’t a scam.

  2. jesicka309*

    OP#7 You definitely need to disclose your side business. It is very different to running a Etsy jewellery store on weekends. You essentially would be a competitor to your company. How could they trust you not to siphon off clients? That you wouldn’t be using class time to gain new clients? It’s very easy to say “but I wouldn’t!”, but the fact is, they don’t know that, and won’t want to have to worry about it.
    At my current job (a TV station) a coordinator was strongly enocuraged to leave. Why? She was running a small freelance advertising agency with her fiance. This wouldn’t be a problem in any other job, except she scheduled commercials. How are they to know if she wasn’t giving priority to her own clients? That she wasn’t using her role as a coordinator at the station to gain clients on false pretexts?
    Always, always transparency.

    1. Jen in RO*

      My company forbids any kind of side business, even when it’s in an unrelated industry. A potential new hire on my team got her offer rescinded when she disclosed she had a side business.

      1. Mike C.*

        See, this is simply ridiculous. I understand and fully agree with policies that cover real conflicts of interest, but this screams of a boss that doesn’t like employees that aren’t “team players” or “fully dedicated to the cause”.

        1. Lora*

          Not only that, if it’s such a problem they should probably consider whether they are paying a reasonable living wage that their employees feel the need to take a second job. I’ve also known folks who took a second job simply because it was clear that merit raises for a LOT of over-and-above work were so paltry, their efforts would be better spent elsewhere, even if elsewhere was selling tupperware.

          1. Jessa*

            Yeh but also, someone who makes tchotchkes on Etsy or something is not a threat unless their things are conflicting with the business (you make drink cozies and your company makes logo give away products for instance.) Seriously a small side crafty biz or selling some small thing on Ebay should not be a bar to employment. Even Avon or something should not be an issue UNLESS and until it becomes obvious that your work is suffering or you’re doing it on company time or property. Which is a DIFFERENT issue.

            It’s silly.

            1. Newly Hired*

              A former company I worked for actively supported their employees’ creative endeavors — they held a big holiday craft fair every year and all the vendors worked for the company. So I bought gorgeous earrings every year from a woman who worked in marketing, and another woman who worked in finance sold stunning handbags (that I couldn’t afford), and there were always five or ten different kinds of bakers… it was fantastic. Great way to get to know employees I’d otherwise never encounter, put the holiday season spirit into everyone, and made employees who did something like an Etsy jewelry business on their own time feel like they didn’t have to hide it.

            2. Chinook*

              I realize now that I have never disclosed my side business (tutoring) to any employer unless it comes up in discussion (i.e. why I can only work an hour OT tonight but tomorrow I can do more in a job where OT was not expected). But, as an AA, there is absolutely no conflict of interest and I do it to keep my fingers in education (in the hope that one day all the boomers will retire like I was once told they would and there will be more jobs in field once again).

          2. doreen*

            Not always true- for some reason the people at my employer who are most likely to have second jobs are those who are the highest paid ( some over 6 figures) and to have the positions which require flexible hours. Which brings up the conflict- the hours are flexible becaus the job requires some degree of flexibility . Some of the jobs require overtime on short notice, or working from 4 am to noon on one day and 4 pm to midnight another, and others additionally require 24/7 on call. You would think that since these expectations are made crystal clear and permission is required for a second job , people would self-select out. But they don’t. Instead, they say they can’t work weekends, at night etc due to their second job.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              I see what you’re saying, but I also think it’s important to distinguish here between second job and side business. For instance, a tutoring session can be rescheduled more easily than a shift. And a jewelry-making session can be reschedule more easily than.. almost anything, if you’re not customizing items on demand. I think the Etsy example is a good one because it’s basically like saying somebody can’t have a hobby that they happen to make a little money off of. Sure, some Etsy vendors are super serious about it, but if I happened to screen subway maps onto a canvas once a month and put them online to see if I get any hits, that’s far from anything that should be my main company’s business. (Assuming I am not a competitor of any sort.)

              Agree 100% with AAM’s advice to disclose. There’s a real conflict of interest issue here. (Or the appearance of one)

              1. doreen*

                Sometimes it’s a fine line- sure, working at a retail store is a second job, being an Etsy vendor is a side business.The problem would be how you classify a private practice as a lawyer or social worker or both owning and working at a security guard agency , the most common second job/side businesses among my coworkers.

        2. KellyK*

          Absolutely. Granted, there are some high-level or high-responsibility jobs where any side business would conflict. *But* the way to deal with that is to pay enough that people don’t need a side gig to support themselves.

          That, and be really clear about expectations. If it’s the sort of job where you’re going to need to drop everything and work a double shift on zero notice or the sort of job where you’re on call 24/7, people who want to hang onto their side job (or have other family or social commitments that would conflict) can self-select out.

          1. the gold digger*

            People don’t necessarily have a side business because they aren’t making enough money at their job. In Newly Hired’s comment, there were people who liked to do creative things and get paid for it.

            1. KellyK*

              Sure, it’s not the only reason. But if you want people to give up their side business to work for you, then you need to pay well enough to make it worth it to them.

              For that matter, the people who are doing it more as a way to get paid for their hobby than to support themselves are probably less likely to have their side business conflict with work, unless it’s an incredibly demanding job.

            2. KarenT*

              True, but people making enough money don’t need to make money off their crafts. If you have an executive selling stuff on Etsy, and you want her to stop, she can afford to make tea cozies or whatever as a hobby. Her assistant would likely not have the same luxury and her tea cozies may very well be a way to supplement her income.

              1. Jamie*

                Not saying that people shouldn’t make money with hobbies…but just an alternative that works for some people.

                My sister does absolutely gorgeous intricate cross stitch work. Just exquisite.

                So not only are those of us who love her blessed to have a lot of her beautiful work she also has a lot framed and she donates them to auctions at various animal shelters.

                She can’t stop stitching – she does it all the time – and so she gets them professionally framed at her expense and donates them where they raise hundreds of dollars for the animals.

                So that’s an option if people have hobbies and don’t need the extra money themselves.

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Nope, if I’m doing all that work on a tea cozy and I can sell it, there’s NO WAY I’m doing it for free.

                1. Jamie*

                  Okay, now I’m off to google “tea cozy.”

                  The only thing I know about them is that Dobby wore one as a hat in Harry Potter.

                2. Loose Seal*

                  Tea Cozy – the newest department at Alison’s company. It’s for all the knitter readers out there.

                3. Chinook*

                  Would the tea cozies for the chocolate teapots be knitted out of caramel or fudge? Would there be pom-poms on them or are those optional?

          2. Jamie*

            The job you described sounds so familiar…

            Seriously though, even if I wanted to I can’t possibly imagine working a second job and not having it seriously compromise my performance at my main job. It so depends on the position. If you work regular hours and aren’t on call for emergencies then it could work…but if you average 60+ and are always on call how can you possibly commit to another employer? Besides the time constraints, the burn out would be swift and fierce I would imagine. I don’t need anything else cutting into my precious sleep and tv time, I don’t have enough as it is.

        3. Vicki*

          I once turned down a job offer because, when I was interviewed, the management made it clear that every waking thought I had would belong to the company. That’s pretty close to their words, actually. No writing for journals. No consulting on subjects unrelated to the company. No “side business” of any shape or kind.

          I took a job, instead, with a company that said “tell us what it is. If it’s not in conflict with what we do, and you do it after 5pm on your own equipment, we don’t care.”

      2. Meg*

        What?? Even if it’s selling old books on Amazon or handcrafted stuff on Etsy? What if you have a second job on the weekends (i.e. waiting tables, etc)?

    2. Jessa*

      Always disclose any side business that may be a conflict of interest. I know someone who works for a cable company that also has a comic business, who writes comic books. Even though they are two separate companies they disclosed the comic writing, they were fine with it. But it COULD have been an issue.

  3. Anonymous*

    Three times in seven months isn’t hugely excessive, although it’s more frequent than a lot of people do.

    I don’t know if it’s just the places I’ve worked, but I see most people call out more frequently. I’ve only had to stay home sick twice in three years, so sometimes it seems like others are calling out way too often.

    However, I did work for an after-school program last school year where the rule was that you had to call out if you had even a slight fever (because you’re working with kids), so I had a handful of callouts that winter even though I felt okay to work and went to my main job. I don’t know if that’s the standard where OP works, but I would think it should be.

    1. Liz in a library*

      I think it does vary a great deal, but I would say it is much less often on average at my current workplace, but people called out far more often in my last workplace. When working directly with the public, particularly more at-risk groups like children and the elderly, you have to be careful.

      1. OliviaNOPE*

        Three sick days in seven months is nothing. I have two kids, one in daycare, and I am out way more frequently than that. Our state regulations make it so you have to pick up a child who has a fever, so even if your kid is happy and playing, if they go over 100, they have to be picked up. I wouldn’t last in a place that side-eyed 3 days in seven months.

        1. Jen*

          I was gonna say – I had 3 days in 5 months because of my kids. And that was just me. My husband also had 3 days in five months. Thank goodness for family in town or we’d have more.

          At the job before – no one called in sick but that was because we could work from hoe whenever we wanted. So people would do their job but at home if they were sick.

          I’d rather have someone take 3 days in 7 months than show up sick to work and infect everyone.

          1. OliviaNOPE*

            Yes, my husband also takes his turn being out with the kids and sometimes we have to call in our moms as well if we have important meetings or projects at work that we absolutely can’t miss. Like you, if I didn’t have family, I’d quickly run through all of my sick days.

    2. Cat*

      I think 3 days within seven months is well within what you’d expect to see from random variation. (Unless, as noted, they’re all the Friday before a three-day weekend or something.) It’s easy to imagine someone getting a bad cold in January; food poisoning in April; and having some kind of minor medical procedure in June (for instance); the same person may not take another sick day for a year and a half after that. It’s just not enough days in a long enough time period to give you any useful data.

      1. Chinook*

        I think the fact that the OP is an ambulance tech also should factor into the number of callouts – she is exposed to more germs than the average person and coming in with somethign conatgious could adversely affect the people she is paid to help if they are immunodeficient.. With those 2 factors, I woudl say 3 days in 7 months is perfectly fine and she should ask her supervisor what is going on.

        1. Del*

          Not to mention that that’s the sort of job where you really want everyone to be firing on all cylinders while they’re on the job.

          There’s some jobs where you can skate by if you’re woozy, distracted, or just anywhere near 100% on a certain day, but there are some where you definitely want to be sharp, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with playing it safe if your job’s in the latter category.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I get migraines. I have chronic and severe insomnia, and if you so much as sniffle in my direction, I tend to come down with a raging cold. I’ve been trying to improve my health so my sick days are being used more infrequently, but if a migraine hits, I am not coming in.

    3. Jane Doe*

      Yeah, three days in seven months is not that much, especially when you consider that a couple of those months are during cold and flu season.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one that doesn’t think it’s that much. I think I’ve been out more than that in the same time period. Injury, post-travel sinus infection, flu, food poisoning. Yep.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit*

        Agreed! I’m a person who gets a lot of colds (as do most folks – 2 to 4 a year, for adults), so even just for that I could easily go over three days in seven months. That’s setting aside taking time for doctor’s appointments that have to happen during the day, food poisoning I had in April, etc.

        As it happens, I don’t think I’ve taken a sick day yet this year – but that’s because I work from home. My food poisoning happened on a Friday, and actually did cause me to miss a conference, but I didn’t have to take a sick day for that.

    5. Anonymous*

      I don’t get paid a lot, I do however get a lot of sick leave, so if I’m feeling sick, I’m going to take it because it is part of my pay. I want all my pay and I don’t want to get shorted on it because someone thinks it is too much. They aren’t a charity. They are a business, I’m not going to pay them to work there.

      (And if the company wants me to let them know ahead of time as much as possible then they should make it all PTO so I can schedule it.)

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But doesn’t that last sentence contradict the statement that you’re only doing it when you truly feel sick?

        (Your call, if so. I’m just trying to understand the comment.)

        1. Anonymous*

          Things like I know I’ll get a migraine after the dentist and I’d really like to just let them know ahead of time that chances are extremely good I won’t be able to come in (the smell nearly always gives me a migraine, plus the vibration and bright lights, ish!) but instead I have to call in that morning.

          1. Jamie*

            And the migraine inducing invisible ray dentists aim at you while you’re held captive in the chair.

            I’ve never had an appointment which didn’t result in a migraine, except one. I assume his ray was broken that day.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Ha ha, I totally love going to the dentist. I always fall asleep and they have to wake me up when they are finished because I’m so relaxed. I think it’s the chair. :-)
              When I went through orthodontic treatment a few years ago, that was heaven on Earth for me. I always looked forward to those appointments.

              1. Jamie*

                I need some kind of sedative even for a cleaning and my husband has to go with me, because I’m a flight risk.

                I can’t imagine being relaxed enough to unclench my fists in the dentist chair, much less sleep. I’ve envious and in total amazement that you can do that.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  LOL flight risk.

                  I don’t like the dentist either; I had a bad experience last time. Now I need to find a new one (and now that I have coverage again).

    6. BCW*

      I feel like a “standard” amount (while not mandatory) is 5 sick days per year. That comes to about one every 2.5 months. By that standard you are right around the amount most places think is acceptable.

    7. Liz in the City*

      There could be a few things at play here. OP, it could be that your manager is conflating your time off with another worker, so is thinking you’ve taken more days than you have because in her mind, you have (even though she’s mistaking your time for Jane’s time). Or, all of your legitimate sick days happened on Mondays or Fridays, so she thinks you’re trying to get long weekends or something. Or this manager has a heightened expectation for you.

      At OldJob, my coworker barely took any sick days, but every time she did, she was given the runaround from our shared manager. Whenever I did, I heard barely a peep. When she asked her if there was an issue with using her sick days, our manager said no, but continued acting that way. Unequal treatment with no discernible explanation.

  4. Anne*

    #7 – Depending where you are, it also might be worth mentioning so that they can make sure they’re keeping everything legal. I’m in the UK, and I need to let my employer know if I start freelancing so they can deal with any effect on my pay-as-you-earn income tax, and make sure that I’m not going over the legal limit on weekly working hours.

    1. The gold digger*

      Your employer is responsible for taxes on your self-employed income?

      Also – you are not allowed to work extra hours at a freelance job even if you want to?

      1. Brightwanderer*

        No, the employer is responsible for the taxes on the income she earns from them (it will come out of her pay automatically every month). But the amount of tax she pays depends on her overall income, including the freelance work. If she is earning enough from both combined to push her into a different tax bracket, the tax she pays on her salary will need to be adjusted.

        1. the gold digger*

          Oh right. But the onus is not on the employer, then, right? It’s that she needs to tell them so they are withholding the proper amount. I mean, the employer is not held responsible if she underpays.

          1. Chinook*

            You are right – it is up to the employee to cover the an difference if she underpays but there should be a way to increase your withholding tax to reflect outside income or living in a jurisdiction other than the one you ware working in (I just had a flashback to living in a cross border circumstances and that tax nightmare).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Also – you are not allowed to work extra hours at a freelance job even if you want to?

        I want to know this too, because holy paternalism if so.

        1. Dionde*

          Correct: it’s an EU directive (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_Time_Directive). With some exceptions, employees are restricted to a 48 hour working week.

          To be honest, choosing between being an employee in Europe or the US I’d pick Europe any day, as the same possibly paternalistic approach gives employees many more rights, i.e. paid vacation…

            1. Chinook*

              I have to agree – I wouldn’t like not having the option to work extra hours to pick up a few extra bucks or even to get paid for a hobby that would in no way cover my living expenses if I did it alone.

              That being said, I wonder if the real reason for this legislation is to ensure as many people as possible are working atleast some hours? I mean, is it fair for Wakeen to have 2 jobs with one that has 35 hours and and a second with 20 hours when Shavon has no job and is qualified for either of them? This type of law would require employers to hire more people overall (which definitely has a socialist feel to it).

            2. LauraUK*

              No, it’s not illegal to work more than 48 hours! It’s illegal for an employer to make you do so. It’s just that you have to opt out – it’s to prevent an employer taking advantage by asking for excessive time from you. The issue is that you as an employee have to choose to opt out (sign a declaration). You can do this in cases where you WANT to work for more than 48 hours a week with one employer or where you have more than one job where you wish to work over 48 hours. At least that’s my understanding.

              1. Carlotta*

                Yes and I’ve not seen a full time job where you don’t opt out of the European directive. My contract says 37.5 hours a week with exceptions like vents etc: whereas my US colleagues have at least 40 hours on theirs. And we have more PTO. And no ‘sick days’ like 5 a year – more like, if you can’t come in you are sick and paid anyway. There are limits and ways of managing that but essentially if you are sick you will be paid,in general.
                I still keep pretty busy ;-)

          1. Victoria Nonprofit*

            I see Alison’s point about paternalism, but dear lord I would love to have this rule. My (one-job) weeks would shorten significantly.

            1. Chinook*

              I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I lived in France with their forced 35 hour work weeks and 20 PTO days a year. Then again, maybe I would actually visit family more often?

              1. Victoria Nonprofit*

                Oh, man. I totally know what to do with myself with that schedule:

                – Reaaaaaaad. A lot.
                – Actually cook real food.
                – Have a substantially cleaner/more organized house.
                – Exercise much more regularly.
                – etc.

                1. The gold digger*

                  I lived the good life for a few years when my husband had the job and I did not. I was a lady of leisure.

                  I did have a cleaner house and cooked a little bit more, but I did not exercise any more when I was unemployed than I do now. :)

              2. Elizabeth West*

                I know what I would do.
                –Write more.
                –Finish some damn craft projects that are sitting around in my back room, getting the stinkeye from me on weekends because I’m tired.
                –Read more.
                –Maybe get off my butt more.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            And lots MORE vacation. But their taxes are pretty high, aren’t they? And petrol?

            But look at all the pretty places to live….so I guess it’s kind of a tradeoff.

            1. Cat*

              And if you have decent, accessible public transportation, it doesn’t really matter if gas is a luxury good.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yes, that’s true. Lots of places in the US don’t–unless you want to live in a metropolitan area, which isn’t feasible for many.

              2. Chinook*

                Europe has a huge advantage when it comes to public transportation though – places are usually closer together. I still can’t get over the fact that you could bicycle between towns in the Netherlands and it not take days.

            2. Chinook*

              The thing with higher taxes is that usually means more government services. When I lived in Quebec (with the highest income taxes in Canada), there were tons more services available versus here in Alberta where the taxes are lower but we have a lot more service fees and less government subsidized items.

  5. SCW*

    To OP #3: One thing to consider is not the frequency of the calling out sick, but if there is a pattern. I’ve seen staff members who don’t call out sick a lot, but almost always will call out on a Monday. That way they get the long weekend, and we usually have two folks working that night. I have actually had to talk to someone who called in sick three times, because each time it was to extend a vacation where she had previously been turned down for additional time off.

    1. Liz in a library*

      Ooh…I used to work with someone who did this often. It is absolutely infuriating, and rather obvious.

    2. Jessa*

      Yes, but you probably didn’t just go blithely something like “oh you take off a lot don’t you?” you probably sat them down and said, “okay you took off, a b and c, and this is an issue because X.”

    3. Tina*

      Do the people who do that (call out after being denied the time) think they are fooling anyone, or just think they’ll get away with it? It baffles me.

      1. Chinook*

        I had one coworker who did this and honestly thought she could get away with it (to the point that she was bragging about it to a coworker). Luckily, she was quickly shown the error of that assumption and disciplined accordingly.

    4. Katie the Fed*

      I actually seem to get sick every time I get on an airplane, so I’ve just started building in a recovery day into my leave requests. If I’m not sick, I come in a day earlier.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t get sick, but it makes me really tired. I think it’s just being folded up into that tiny seat, and then practically running through a huge airport to make a connection every time. So I try to do that too. Since my LDR ended, I won’t be going anywhere now, though. :'(

    5. tcookson*

      My husband’s company has a policy that anyone who does not work their assigned shift on the workday immediately preceding or following a paid holiday, forfeits holiday pay. He works in manufacturing, and there had been a problem in the past with people extending their holidays by calling in sick on those days.

      They’re way too heavy-handed in the enforcement of it, though. For instance, if someone can prove that they were in an ambulance en route to the emergency room on the day that they called out sick, they should still receive their holiday pay, but the rule is absolute.

      1. VintageLydia*

        I was screwed over by a rule like this, too. I had a TERRIBLE sinus infection that day I was scheduled after Christmas, I went to the doctor and got a note. Still didn’t matter.

  6. Brett*

    #5 Around here, making $20k less than a startup salary would put you at minimum wage :) Made the title very confusing to me… normally going from a startup to a non-profit is a step up in salary (step down in equity of course).

    #7 As an additional reason to disclose your side business, if the potential new company contracts with private entities then their employees may be legally barred from having secondary employment without the permission of the contracting entity. (Public employees are often legally barred from secondary employment, particularly teachers and police officers, and those same laws can place contractors under the same restriction to avoid evading the restrictions with contractors.)

    1. LV*

      From what I’ve heard from a friend who knows a lot of public school teachers, they’d be in very dire situations if they couldn’t work summer jobs to bump up their income a bit. Maybe it’s specific to her part of the country.

      Police officers are one thing, but what is the rationale behind barring a group from secondary employment when its members have significant chunks of time (ie, Christmas vacation, spring break, summer) when they’re not required at their primary jobs?

      1. Brett*

        School districts don’t want teachers working at alcohol related businesses, sexually oriented businesses, etc. Partial bans on specific types of employment are often overturned, so they ban all secondary employment. There are also circumstances under which a public entity can be responsible for workers’ compensation benefits when the employee is injured at a secondary job with a related function.

        1. TL*

          In my state (or at least in several areas in my state; I don’t know if that’s a state or district mandate) teachers are definitely allowed a second job, especially in the summer. That must be specific to your part of the country.

          1. Chinook*

            When I was a school teacher, the only secondary employment I was baned from doing was outside tutoring or other type of academic help. The rationale is that I am paid to help the students of my school academically and, since I am salaried and not hourly, there is not time when I am technically “of the clock” from helping these students.

            Other work, on the other hand, was fine as long as you didn’t solicit on school grounds. Even working in an alcoholic establishment would be considered fine but we would then be held both legally and professionally responsible (i.e. could have our teaching license pulled )if we sold alcohol to a minor.

            1. Naomi*

              Where you banned from all tutoring or just your regular students? It seems weird that you would be barred from teaching GRE prep classes for example.

              1. Chinook*

                You were banned from charging for your tutoring time. So, I could run a GRE prep class but I couldn’t charge students for it. On the plus side, I probably could have made a case for using my actual classroom space for doing it, so there should be no extra cost to me either.

                I can’t remember if this was a school board policy or a professional standard enforced by the licensing body, though.

            2. TL*

              Oh, interesting. One of my friends definitely takes tutoring jobs over the summer without any problems – though I don’t know about the school year. She normally works a 9+ hr day, though, so I don’t know when she would have the time during the school year.

              1. Felicia*

                My friend just finished her first year of teaching, and this summer she’s doing tutoring and working at a summer camp. She wouldn’t be able to get by without a summer job. She tutors occasionally during the year too…mostly on Sundays.

          2. Del*

            Agreed; at my first job, one of my coworkers was a teacher who needed the extra money. (I felt terrible for her; she was at school at 6 or 6:30 am, taught a full day, then came and did minimum-wage retail work until 10pm 5 nights a week.)

        2. A Teacher*

          Maybe a private school but not in public schools in a multitude of states where my friends teach. A public school would have a hard time barring this. Many of my friends work second jobs, see below for kind but some tutor, some bartender, some waitress, some lifeguard or teach swim lessons, etc…

    2. A Teacher*

      Not in Illinois. I teach and coach at a public high school, work as an athletic trainer PRN (as needed) for a private physical therapy company, teach adjunct at a junior college–meaning I have two state managed pensions–and I teach once a week at a fitness place (free membership and paid to workout). I work all of this because I need the money and because I enjoy all of my jobs. They actually all work around each other and I’ve never had time conflicts.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      #5 Around here, making $20k less than a startup salary would put you at minimum wage :) Made the title very confusing to me… normally going from a startup to a non-profit is a step up in salary (step down in equity of course).

      They’re both nonprofits — one a startup nonprofit and one more established. In either circumstance, though, I’d think you could easily see that kind of cut — going from 80K to 60K, for instance. It assumes you’re starting at a mid-level salary, though, not at something like $30K.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Don’t (or didn’t) a lot of cops work loss prevention and security as a second job, though? I would think it would be pretty easy to schedule around your shifts, unless something bad happened and you got called in.

      1. Brett*

        Most jurisdictions ban secondary work and then allow explicit exceptions.

        For our department, the police chief and board have to approve all secondary assignments annually, and then permission has to be approved by each officer’s immediate supervisor on a biweekly basis. Anyone in their chain of command has the option to revoke biweekly permission or permission for any individual assignment. At the end of each pay period, officers have to submit a list of all hours of secondary worked and the locations the work was performed at.

        For many of the teacher situations above… I wonder in how many of those situations the teachers either have an approved exception to a ban, or simply are (knowingly or unknowingly) working secondary work in violation of an existing ban.

        1. TL*

          Eh, I would have heard about it if there was a ban where my friend worked. It doesn’t seem like the ban is common – certainly nothing comes up on a google search but lots of articles pop up with (named) teachers working a second job.

        2. TL*

          Oh, I found something online for Massachusetts – there’s stuff about conflict of interest with taking another city job but nothing prohibiting a second job.

        3. Chinook*

          I knwo that DH’s job doesn’t allow for secondary security work unless they are doing it through the municipality (i.e. they are working as security in uniform, for a local air show or a hockey game but they aren’t on patrol). The reason is that, technically, they are always on duty (they are also paid very well for their time after they have been on the job for 2 years).

  7. LV*

    One of my former jobs was a one-year contract. I had an evaluation with my manager six months in and another one right before I left. The evals consisted mainly of a list of statements like “The employee is punctual” “The employee can communicate well orally/in writing” etc, and they were rated Exceptional, Very Good, Good, Fair and Unsatisfactory.

    My first eval, I got Exceptional for attendance. I hadn’t missed a day.

    My second eval, because I had (legitimately!) called in sick *one day*, I got Unsatisfactory.

    I tried to talk to my manager about it, but conveniently enough, she called in sick herself for the 3 days I had left with the company.

    1. OliviaNOPE*

      I had a job once where you got written up for using more than 5 sick days in a year, even if it was all legitimate. If you worked full-time, you accrued 15 sick days per year, but after 5 you had to get a write-up that went in your HR file. This started because some people were abusing the sick leave policy (you know, calling out on Mondays and Fridays only to extend their weekends) yet they punished the entire company.

      1. Jessa*

        I cannot STAND this. I could go on in all caps for days about this kind of garbage. And it’s not just attendance. ANY time companies do this. Why they cannot act like adults and deal with disciplining the problem people and all. I do NOT know.

        1. Jane Doe*

          Exactly. It’s not like they don’t know who’s abusing sick time and who isn’t, and I think it’s likely that the sick time abusers are also not the best employees. This seems like something individual managers should deal with.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Me either. It’s like the old crap about punishing the whole class because one kid threw an eraser. All that does is make everybody pissed off at the teacher.

      2. Brett*

        My wife’s former school district terminated any untenured teacher who took more than 3 sick days in a year; despite the fact that the collective bargaining agreement gave them up to 10 days. (No unions in our state.)

        Conveniently this tended to result in the termination of nearly every pregnant teacher. No one ever sued because the starting teacher compensation from a wrongful termination claim was not worth effectively ending your career.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit*

          This is an aside, but I’m genuinely confused. How can there be no unions but a collective bargaining agreement?

          1. Chinook*

            Could it be that the state bargains with a professional association so that all teachers are paid the same at every school? I believe that is how doctor charge rates are negotiated in Canada – the province works with the provincial medical association to come up with agreed upon service rates. Technically, there is no union (which implies the right to strike) but there is a group the represents the profession’s interests when interacting with the government.

          2. Brett*

            Chinook has it right, except the bargaining is done district by district. The teachers form a collective bargaining unit, normally via a local professional association chapter, just for contract negotiation. The bargaining unit represents the teachers, but cannot collect dues, represent teachers in disputes, or any other functions outside collective bargaining.
            At the end of negotiation, the bargaining unit is dissolved. Striking and walk outs are strictly illegal.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit*

              Interesting! Do you mind sharing what state you’re in? I work in state-level education policy, and the two states I work in have different situations (in one, teachers’ unions can negotiate on everything under the sun, including district-level policy like classroom size, block scheduling, etc.; in the other, the unions can only negotiate on wages and benefits) and it creates wildly different power maps. Interesting.

              1. Brett*

                Missouri. Collective bargaining was illegal for public employees from 1947 to 2007 in Missouri, so it is a relatively recent thing for teachers to have collective bargaining at all.

                Even weirder is that administration can join the professional association that acts as the bargaining unit. The districts definitely hold the balance of power in negotiations here.

          1. Chinook*

            I know this isn’t your point, but I am a big proponent of standardized testing when done right (i.e. the test is based on curricular outcomes and not vice versa) and is not used as the only judge of a school or teacher’s success. What it does do is test to see if a particular student meets a particular standard of knowledge and ability. I am quite happy to know that my doctor or nurse has to pass a nationally recognized test to prove their minimum knowledge and I know that doesn’t mean they have a great bedside manner or are perfect. What I do know is that I would not want someone working on me who couldn’t meet the minimum standard.

        2. Elaine*

          Horrific. I think some *should* group together and sue. It wouldn’t ruin their careers if they’re willing to locate to a better district or state. Yikes.

          1. Chinook*

            The problem is that teachers are in a grey area because we are technically “professionals” like doctors or nurses but we cannot hang out a shingle and work on our own (nurses could be private nurses but a teacher could never be private teachers to a family). Atleast in Canada, we have a professional standard we have to adhere to or we can have our licence pulled and we would no longer be allowed to teach in publicly funded institutions (which can include private schools that are partially funded). So, sticking your neck out if the profession as a whole doesn’t back you could mean the end of your career. This was recently shown when an experienced teacher, near retirement, went against a school board’s “no zero” policy . He was fired and reprimanded professionally for insubordination towards the school board and principal. He knew his career was over but said that other agreed with him but were honestly worried about never working again, especially in a tight job market.

      3. BCW*

        Even that “Monday’s and Fridays” thing angers me. Earlier this year, I went on a weekend ski trip, which I talked about so people knew I was out of town. I got food poisoning on the way home (stopped at some little place) and couldn’t even get out of bed the next day. Luckily my company is cool. But its not really fair to just assume because someone takes off a Monday or Friday that they are just trying to extend their weekend. Even if it happens multiple times, the chances of me getting sick on 2 different Fridays are no less than the chance of me getting sick on 2 different Wednesdays.

        1. Cat*

          Right; you’d expect 40% of sick days to occur on Mondays or Fridays, which is not insignificant.

        2. TheSnarkyB*

          Actually, this doesn’t make sense. I’m not doubting that you were legitimately sick, but by sheer numbers alone (assuming randomness), you’re more likely to get sick on a mid-week day than a weekend-adjacent one, since it’s 2 vs. 3. Also, if I feel sick on a Friday, I’m more likely to tough it out knowing I can rest up the next day, versus a Wednesday. I think it makes sense that people tend to assume that the Monday/Friday call in is a misuse of sick time, especially if it’s always a Mon/Fri or Thur before a holiday weekend, etc.
          It’s unfortunate for people like you that really are sick, but it makes sense.

          1. Cat*

            2 vs. 3 isn’t that high a ratio when you’re talking about an individual who might take 3-5 sick days a year. I’m not going to attempt to come up with a mathematically correct ratio, because if I could do math I wouldn’t have had to go to law school, but would you be that shocked if someone flipped a coin 3 times and it came up heads each time? Or if someone had 3 children and they were all boys? I mean, it’s not the most likely outcome, but when you’re looking at 20 individuals, it’s not at all surprising that it would happen to at least one of them, and possibly a lot more. Getting sick on the odd couple of Mondays or Fridays is the same thing; you can’t assume abuse based on a couple of incidences (well, you can, but you shouldn’t).

            And I think the “toughing it out” thing goes both ways. The inverse can also happen, where you’ve been not feeling great and toughing it out all week, and then can’t really take it any more by Friday.

            1. the gold digger*

              You cited examples of independent odds, but there might be an argument that getting sick is actually dependent odds – that is, you are more likely to get sick in the future if you have been sick in the past. :)

              1. Cat*

                That isn’t likely to affect the days on which you’re sick, though, unless you’re always getting sick from something you’re exposed to on a given day (and even then, incubation periods might well still vary).

          2. BCW*

            Ok, we are kind of arguing 2 different things. Yes, there is a 60% chance I could get sick on a Tues, Wed, or Thurs and a 40% chance that I could get sick on a Monday or Friday. My point though is if you take any 1 day separately, there is still a 20% chance. My point is, there isn’t necessarily a lower percentage chance that the 2 times in 3 moths you are sick that it will be a Friday both times as opposed to a Tuesday or Wednesday both times.

            Now as to your argument about being willing to tough it out. I guess my answer to that is why should I have to tough it out because I feel like crap on a Friday? If I have sick days, then I should be able to use them and not be expected to tough it out based on the day the sickness occurs on, without being judged.

            1. TheSnarkyB*

              I’m not saying anything about having to tough it out, I’m just saying that that happens/some people choose to do that. Besides, my main point was that it’s so common to take off a day that will extend your weekend, that the stigma isn’t going to go away despite any mathematical arguments one way or another.

          3. Mike C.*

            You’re forgetting variance, and you’re forgetting the fact that a weekend allows for travel a weekday does not, and that could easily lead to exposure to things that will make you take a sick day. As BCW explained.

      4. JoAnna*

        My husband’s company does this (he does work-from-home tech support for a large computer company – rhymes with Mapple). Employees get written up if they call in sick more than three times in a six-month period (and it doesn’t matter if you’re calling in sick for you or if you’re calling in because one of your kids is sick – it’s treated the same). I work full-time as well and we always to play the “who is going to call in this time?” game when one of our four kids is sick, as we don’t have any family nearby who can reliably help out.

        So, he has scads of sick time but will get penalized for taking it. It’s ridiculous.

        1. TL*

          Oh, that’s where my friend works! It’s the worst! And what really makes me roll my eyes is that they really push the whole “we care and we’re cool” thing – and my friend’s completely bought into it – while they have policies like this.

    2. Anonymous*

      At my old job, they had a policy of counting “instances” of sick leave, rather than total days. If you had more than three instances in one year, you’d get a verbal warning. This led to the situation where I’d had 4 separate, legitimate sick days and was called into account for it. Yet my coworker had taken off 4 days sick just before her holiday (conveniently), and seeing as it was the only instance she got away scot-free. Incredibly frustrating.

      1. Chinook*

        “Yet my coworker had taken off 4 days sick just before her holiday (conveniently), and seeing as it was the only instance she got away scot-free. ”

        While I understand your frustration and agree you should not have been written up, but it is also possible that your coworker was sick before their holiday, just like it is possible to be sick while on holidays. The fact that she never did this before or since means she should be given the benefit of the doubt and is an example of why AAM says an employer should be delaing with work related patterns when it comes to discipline. One time is anamoly and coincidences can happen.

      2. Chinook*

        I say this as a former retail worker who went home sick on Boxing Day (the Canadian equivalent of Black Friday). My coworkers and supervisor were not happy but I think they would have been equally unhappy with me passing out at the till.

    3. TL*

      One of my friends got written up at work because of 2 sick days and 1 late day in a 6 month period – you’re not allowed to have more then 3 tardies or 3 sick days or any combination in a 6 month period.

      I get the tardies but the sick days seem unreasonable.

  8. Anonymous*

    #3. It’s less than once every 2 months. If the OP has the time and isn’t taking off every Friday/Monday and has the PTO to cover it, I don’t think she needs to address it with the boss. The boss has already shown they are pettty and can’t handle direct coversation. Confronting (for lack of a better term) the boss probably isn’t the best idea. This makes me so annoyed.

  9. LMW*

    #5 What’s really questionable to me about this situation is that you’ve told them what you were willing to take — a $10K cut. They knew that. They should have told you what the max was at that time to avoid wasting your time and theirs. Offering you a $20K cut when they knew your range… I realize that nonprofits have slimmer margins to work in, but that seems like a lack of respect for both your experience and for you as a candidate. Do you really want to step back that far?
    I was recently in a similar situation where I was offered a step back job at a significant pay cut. I was in a tenuous employment situation, so I panicked and seconded-guessed myself a lot after turning it down. But now, having landing a job that was a promotion and significant pay bump at a company I admire, I’m so glad I didn’t sell myself short.

    1. the gold digger*

      That’s the part that bugs me, too. If they knew from the outset that there was no way they could pay what the LW wanted, then why did they waste LW’s time? LW might have had to take vacation time for the interviews, pay for parking, etc, etc. It’s really inconsiderate to do this to someone.

    2. ChristineSW*

      I picked up on that too. Maybe they didn’t know right then and there, but they should’ve been up front to her that they may not be able to meet her requirement.

    3. Anonymous*

      That stood out to me, too. However, it is possible that “I would be willing to take about $10K less than what I am currently making” was not attached to a specific number…

  10. John Quincy Adding Machine*

    FWIW, I work at an ESL school and a good half of the teachers do tutoring on the side. Some have signs and business cards in their classrooms. It’s not a big deal to the school, because students generally get tutoring lessons in addition to classes, not instead of. And OP #7 isn’t even a teacher — she’s an admin, so they don’t have to worry about her wasting class time trying to drum up business.

  11. Eric*

    Re #3, how often do you work? Most people who work full-time on ambulances that I know only work 2-3 (really long) shifts per week. So 3 days could be the equivalent of a week and a half of work.

    1. Chinook*

      The length of shift shouldn’t matter as you are usually sick all day anyway. In fact, a longer shift may make you more likely to call in sick because it is hard to “tough it out” for 12 hours than to know you can go home after 8. It really comes down to the fact that ambulance techs are exposed to all sorts of nasty things and also potentially work with people with immunodeficiency issues. You don’t even have to be chronically ill to not want someone coughing into your open wound or being slightly foggy when trying to decide if they should scoop and run or treat on the scene.

  12. L. Renee*

    I’m the OP for #1 and as it turns out, this was absolutely a SCAM! Once I advised my partner to ask the recruiter for the name of the company, she never heard back from him. We figured out the name of the company and contacted them directly and were advised that while they are indeed hiring for the position, they have never heard of that particular recruiter and to their knowledge, they are not working with a recruiting firm. I’m so appreciate of all the information that I’ve gained from askamanager.com that led us not to be fooled by this scam.

  13. happy cat*

    Three times in seven months isn’t hugely excessive, although it’s more frequent than a lot of people do..

    Where I work we have 12 days per year. We are allowed to use them for appointments. This really helps with a work life balance. Yet, two years into my job, I was told that taking all of them, or close to all of them, was frowned upon, in my department. The standard, I was told, was 3. They would be okay with up to 6. Yet, other departments, and other managers were fine with one taking all 12, every year. I would find out what the standard is for your department, as well as the entire work place, to gain prespective.

    1. Del*

      It’s still absolutely insane that they give you the time but frown upon you using them. Paid time off, whether it’s sick or vacation, is a part of what your employer pays you to work there. It’s like them expecting you to not accept all of your paycheck.

      1. Jamie*

        Vacation time, absolutely, and I’m not saying it’s right to penalize people in the way some commenters have noted…but I don’t see sick time in the same way. I see sick days as an insurance policy, in the event of illness.

        If I have 12 sick days a year but I’m only sick for 3 of them I wouldn’t consider the remaining 9 PTO…otherwise they’d be in the PTO bucket. If someone is always maxed out on sick days all the time (in the absence of an FMLA qualifying event) it’s like the policyholder who is constantly putting in claims all the time. Their insurance company will drop them at some point.

        Or if you live in an area where you have so many points before losing your drivers license and you’re always skirting that line. If you’re always on the verge of losing your license, even though your points are technically in the legal range, you’re still a lousy driver and people should be concerned.

        Other people do see sick time as something owed, but many others don’t and if your employer breaks up sick time and PTO or vacation it’s clear they don’t see them in the same bucket either.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I agree. It does make a difference if your sick times carries over or not, but mine does so I save up my sick time in case of illness in the future. By save up, I mean I don’t use them unless I’m sick or have a medical appointment. I don’t use them as I earn them just because I’m “owed” those days off. The benefits is if I get the flu, break my leg, etc and have to stay home for a week or more, I can take time off with no worries.

          1. happy cat*

            ah, yes, we don’t get to carry them over. And normally I would not have used them all in one year, I did have a family crisis, and I did tell my supervisor. It was upsetting that she did not mention at any point that year to not use them all. I actually only used 11 in one year, normally 6-9 is my average. The only problem is that during orientation we were told of these awesome sick days, and how we could use them for appointments, and what a great benefit it was… only for some departments, not all, to be told to NOT use them. I guess my point is, you have to be really careful to ensure you abide by what your manager / supervisor wants, and get that clear up front. As soon as they show concern, it is time to find out what they expect from you.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree, and this is a major difference in how employers generally see sick time and how (some) employees see it. It should be better communicated.

        3. KellyK*

          Yeah, I definitely agree that if your company separates out sick time from vacation, then it’s meant to be used only when you’re sick.

        4. Forrest*

          Yea, but if someone’s legitimately sick, no one should be giving them shit for taking off.

          You can’t offer 12 hours and then tell them the real sick leave is 6 hours. Its false advertising and then introduces the environment of people who are actually sick and should be at home are coming in because, while they have 12 days, they can really only take 6 without facing consequences and even though they feel sick now, they won’t take off because what if something worse happens?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yes, and then you have them showing up at work sick and infecting everyone. :P

            1. Forrest*

              And then you have people complaining about those sick people who just won’t stay home. Its a circle.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I’d be one of them! At Oldjob, people would come in sick and I almost always caught it. I’m convinced my immunity was down because of all the stress.

                At Newjob, we are told not to come in if we have a fever. I bought a thermometer–I can usually tell, but just to be sure.

        5. BCW*

          An argument had before, but even calling them sick days is a problem. I mean if my car breaks down, I’m not sick, but in your opinion is that an ok use? What about people who use it for other sick people? I’ve said before, I don’t think you should abuse sick days, but I think if you want/need an unscheduled day off, you shouldn’t feel bad about taking one either. Unless your company pays you out on them at year end.

          1. Jamie*

            There should be clear communication between management and employees about how they are expected to be used.

            Some companies are okay if you use them for personal emergencies (car won’t start, water heater pooped the bed) and some aren’t. Some are okay with using them for ill family members and some are not.

            IMO employees should follow company policy, and the company policy should be clearly communicated.

            I personally like how my place handles it. We don’t have “sick days” at all. If we’re sick we’re expected to call in and keep our germs home. If you’re up to working from home, fine, just communicate clearly your availability.

            Personal emergencies come out of PTO. We’re on the honor system here, and what I’ve noticed is there is far less abuse and absentee issues than in places I’ve worked with clearly structured sick time. If it were to be abused the one person would be dealt with – the system wouldn’t be changed.

            I went 5 years without taking a sick day. Most years I’d take one or two – this year I’ve restructured my schedule to accommodate medical issues. When you treat people like adults they tend to act like adults and not spend time trying to get one over on tptb.

            But to your point about want/need an unscheduled day off…needing one is one thing, happens to everyone at some point. Wanting one should be scheduled. I don’t approve of taking off on a whim because you don’t feel like going in that day and calling it a mental health day (distinct from people taking the day to deal with an actual mental health issue).

          2. doreen*

            Calling them sick days is not a problem- at every job I’ve had with sick days , it was very clearly communicated that they were for my illnesses/injuries/medical appointments or those of someone in my household. They were not to be used for a car breakdown, or the water heater blowing up – there were other sorts of leave that could be used for that sort of emergency.

            I disagree with Jamie below on just one thing- sometimes the abuse is so widespread that you can’t deal with just those people. For example, I am permitted to use sick leave for routine medical appointments. The actual policy has always been that you are allowed enough time for the appointment and travel time and that some documentation was required . When everyone was on the honor system, people made early morning doctor appointments and brought in a note saying they were seen that day. Eventually, the documentation policy changed so that if I want more than 4 hours for a medical appointment I need documentation that states when I arrived at the office, what time my appointment was and when the appointment was completed.You can try to deal with it in an individual basis to a point, but when at least 50% (probably more) are abusing the honor system dealing with individuals won’t work.

            And I say at least 50% because in 19 years, I literally never saw anyone take less than an entire day for a medical appointment. Most took a whole day of sick leave, some took a whole day of vacation leave but no one came in a couple of hours late or left a couple of hours early for an appointment.

  14. OP4*

    As OP#4, I appreciate your posting for #4 regarding the job and the days-long uncertainty regarding the written offer. It’s exactly one week since the verbal offer, and I haven’t heard back anything at all. I’ll likely hang in there for one more day then call them directly, get definite answers, and move on once and for all. Has anyone else been in such an odd situation? I’m torn between applying for more jobs or waiting (for what seems an indeterminate amount of time). Thanks!

    1. some1*

      I would email vs. call. If they are still making a decision, it’s easier to respond accordingly in an email then on the fly after picking up a ringing phone.

  15. OP4*

    @some1: I did email a response on Thursday, and forwarded additional details Friday. I never heard anything back at all. It’s rather odd. I do know they removed their job ad for the role, though–so they aren’t actively seeking new people. No clue what’s happening.

  16. Elizabeth West*

    #1–pay for study guide

    Run, OP’s friend, run like the wind!

    #7–side business

    I would disclose if it’s related to the company’s business. John Quincy Adding Machine said above that the OP being an admin instead of a teacher might not hurt it, but still, if you hide it, they might wonder what else you’re hiding.

    If I were selling kettle corn (YUM!) at events on weekends like a former coworker, it wouldn’t have much bearing on my primary job, which is an hourly position. I can easily do things after my workday is over.

  17. totochi*

    #7 – Always disclose, even if you think it’s no big deal. I was helping a friend with his company on weekends for no compensation. Because my name and bio was included as “management” in company materials, I got a waiver from my real job. Someone else bought a vineyard as an investment, didn’t disclose, and got fired for “moonlighting.” Stupid, but avoidable. If it doesn’t matter, company (probably legal) will let you know; if it does matter, better to find out now then be terminated later.

  18. OP4*

    second update: I phoned the HR manager, who stated that they still had ‘questions’ and believed I was overqualified for the role. Complete waffling. At this point, I firmly asked if I still had the position because she verbally offered me the role. Livid does not even begin to describe how I feel right now. Thankfully, I’ve been shortlisted for other positions. I really hope I never have to be strung along like this again, and I really, sincerely hope karma comes to haunt her for putting me through what I’ve endured.

  19. Bea W*

    #1 i wouldn’t assume this is not a big change. It reall depends in the locations. Going from a 15 min commute to 40 min or more is relatively crappy. It’s more than double the time, and likely double the gas. That’s not an insignificant expense, especially if you are low paid (unsure if this applies to the OP).

    I doubt the OP can renegotiate pay but it may be possible to negotiate hours that minimize the impact of the new commute or negotiate working from home a day or 2 per week.

    If i had accepted a job that i would have not even considered at the new locatin i’d be pretty pissed. They should have disclosed this in the interview process.

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