my manager wants me to lie, I overheard a new coworker being rude, and more

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

1. How can we implement a fair PTO system?

My work is not competitive at all when it comes to sick, vacation, or personal days off. They have acknowledged this is something they need to improve and change. Currently, employees do not receive any days until they have been here for 2 years, then the employee receives one week. Employees do accrue time off with hours worked, but it is extremely minimal.

However, now it is a question of how we will implement additional sick, vacation, personal days for brand new employees and be fair to employees whom have been here for a length of time. Any suggestions?

Sure. Decide how many days people will earn per year (you can increase it with years of service or have it remain the same for everyone; just make it competitive with what other employers provide), and have it accrue per pay period. And since you’re correcting a serious company shortcoming, implement it retroactively. So if you get X days per year, and someone has been there three years, put 3X in their PTO accounts right now. If someone is new and has been there for three months (a quarter of the year), put 1/4 of X in their PTO account right now. Then keep it accruing moving forward.

And start this immediately. Giving people no time off until two years is horrible.

2. My manager wants me to lie to the state unemployment agency

I am an HR rep and I have a ridiculous situation I must deal with. My manager is asking me to lie about the reason a previous employee was fired, in order to ensure they get unemployment benefits. Long story short, a coworker was fired for repeated poor job performance. This is as legit of a firing as I can imagine and this employee was absolutely horrible at their job. I will not lie and really need advice on how to handle this discussion with my manager. This employee would get unemployment after a penalty period and has already received plenty by way of severance (company was not required but did because of longevity) and vacation payout. I’m actually pretty furious that this has even been brought to me. I really wanted to paint a whole picture.

It’s pretty reasonable to say to your manager, “I’m not comfortable lying on a government form. All we can do is present the truth and let the state unemployment agency make their own determination.” (And actually, you might point out that this person is likely to receive unemployment benefits anyway; people usually do, unless they were fired for misconduct — as opposed to incompetence, as sounds like the case here.) If your manager pushes you to lie anyway, then I’d suggest telling her that you don’t think you can ethically do that and if she requires the form to be filled out that way, you need to recuse yourself from being involved in it. Keep using the words “lying on a government form,” because that’s what she’s asking you to do, and you might need to make sure she realizes it.

3. Should I mention the nastiness I overheard from a new coworker?

Earlier this morning, I heard one coworker talking to another. The second coworker’s desk is right next to mine, and I’m pretty sure others could hear this conversation as well. She referenced an interview she had for an internal promotion, and at first I was happy for her. She’s always very nice and while she hasn’t been here very long (three months), she seems to fit in well with the culture. I have no idea if she’s qualified for this promotion. We work in very separate departments, so I only see her in passing. Anyway, she went on to say that she really didn’t care about the work she was doing currently, which is concerning because she works directly with our customers. I think this may be explained by the fact that she said she wasn’t feeling well and therefore maybe she just didn’t care today, which I understand. However, she then went on to say something nasty about another coworker with whom she works closely. It wasn’t terribly offensive, but definitely inappropriate.

Should I say something to someone, considering her promotion consideration? My first thought was that it’s Not My Business, and I should stay out of it. I thought I’d ask anyway.

I would, particularly if you have a good relationship with her manager or the hiring manager for the new position, but then I have made a career of nosiness. But if I were either of those managers, I’d genuinely appreciate hearing a discreet “Hey, I was taken aback when I overheard this and since she mentioned she’s being considered for Promotion X, I thought I’d mention it to you. Now that I’ve done that, I’m going to wipe it from my mind.” But I suspect 99% of people out there will tell you not to say anything, on the grounds that it’s not your business or that you might have just caught her in a bad but uncharacteristic moment. (Which is possible, but in my experience, someone making comments like that after only three months on the job is nearly always capital-T Trouble.)

4. Was this role really put on hold?

I applied for a senior administrator/office manager role recently and happily the recruiters contacted me to say that I have a very strong CV and they would like to call me to discuss the role further. I spoke to a really nice lady from the recruitment company who asked me some very detailed questions to establish that I had the relevant experience and to explain the role fully. Following our conversation, she emailed me the same list of questions that she had asked me in our telephone conversation. I replied to the questions as requested – she then asked me to tailor my CV more specifically to the role and asked if she could send it on to her client. I sent the revised CV to the recruiter, and she emailed me to say it was perfect and that she had sent it on to her client and was hoping to hear back within a couple of days regarding interviews.

A week later, I still hadn’t heard anything back so I emailed the recruiter and received a reply a few hours later apologising for the delay in getting back to me – she had apparently been trying to contact her client and had only received a response by email to say that the role is on hold and that they wouldn’t be proceeding with any of her candidates. The recruiter thinks that they probably went with an internal candidate – but that doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would they bother using an agency and wasting their time if they had a great internal candidate? I would really appreciate your take on this .

I don’t know why your recruiter is assuming that “the role is on hold” is a lie; if they went with an internal candidate, the employer would have likely just said so. But in answer to your question, people often use recruiters when they have a strong internal candidate, for the same reason they do job postings in that case too: because they want to see the full pool of candidates before making a decision (or because they have internal policies that require them to).

(Also, I suspect that recruiter is … not the cream of the crop. Asking you questions over the phone and then emailing you those exact same questions for you to answer again? No.)

5. Can an employer make you fill in for a higher-paid position without raising your pay rate?

A few coworkers and i would like to know if and employer can make you fill in for someone in a position that has a higher pay yet reman at your current pay? If so how long? A year? A month? A day? Or even an hour?

Yes — an hour, a day, a month, a year, or even a decade! There is no law requiring employers to increase your pay, ever (aside from minimum wage laws). If you would like more pay, however, you can certainly try to negotiate that, by making a case based on the value of your work.

6. Should I mention that I know the CEO personally?

I applied for a position that requires a little bit more experience than I have (I’m a recent college grad) but using your tips on cover letters, I was able to score an interview. I am confident that I can excel in this job but I am still afraid that I will lose out to someone with more experience.

This particular company interested me because I know the CEO personally. It is a large institution and I think it’s virtually impossible that my interviewers will be aware that I know him. Is it completely out of bounds to bring up my connection to him if I am asked why I applied to the job? I’m not sure how an interviewer would react to this and I don’t want to come off as thinking that I can use him to get the job. However, I want to give myself the best possible chance of getting the position.

If you’re directly asked why you applied and a part of that reason is that you know the CEO, it’s absolutely fine to say that — but be careful not to sound like you think that connection will help you. (It’s certainly possible that it will, but it might not, and either way if you sound like you expect it to, you will turn off your interviewer.) But something like this would be fine: “I’ve known Fitzwilliam Darcy for a while and always thought the way he talked about the work here was fascinating, so I was excited when I saw this opening.”

7. Should I have two separate LinkedIn profiles?

I have two careers, so to speak. My day job is finance and professional. My LinkedIn profile reflects that.

Evenings and weekends (and early mornings!), I am a fitness instructor/personal trainer. I would like to start connecting with more people in the fitness industry. Do you think I should have a separate Linkedin profile to reflect my fitness career? Or should I use one profile for both?

You should have one profile for both. First, LinkedIn’s rules prohibit multiple profiles for one person. Second, the profile isn’t for your job; it’s for you. You do two things. They’re both part of who you are. Include them both. (And to many people in both fields, it will make you more interesting.)

{ 232 comments… read them below }

    1. Editor

      Dear Mr. Collins:

      I regret to inform you that the position of His Lordship’s Custom Chocolate Teapot Tester has been filled with another candidate. Mr. Darcy was fortunate to have many qualified and experienced applicants. Please accept our best wishes for your future endeavors.

      Mr. Wakeen, secretary to Mr. F. Darcy

      (With apologies to the applicant in #6, who would never have written to Alison if he was actually a Mr. Collins type.)

      (And in another parenthetical note, for no particular reason I’m now wishing for a Pride and Prejudice and Kittens novel — which would also include teapots. Lots of teapots and chocolate teapots, along with the kittens. We just need a good first line…)

        1. Anonymous

          Let’s try that again…

          It is a truth universally acknowledged that an AAM commenter in possession of a kitten avatar must be in want of an opportunity to reference chocolate teapots.

    2. diana

      I smiled at the reference as well! Also, if anybody is interested, there is a youtube series called The Lizzie Bennet diaries, which reimagines Pride and Prejudice through a contemporary lens. Also it concluded a few months ago so you’ll be able to marathon all of the videos instead of having to wait for Darcy to be introduced! The series gets extra awesome points for actually having a pretty diverse cast.

      They also just premiered their new Emma series. I think only one episode has come out, and I think it’s called Emma Approved.

    1. Iain Clarke

      There are 10 kinds of people…

      Those who understand binary, and those who don’t.

      (Badum Tish)

    2. Pandora Amora

      Alison – your nbers don’t jive in your answer to #1. Poster writes vacation accrues at 2 years; you say 10 is horrible.

      You point out 3 months is 1/4 of a year, then suggest putting in 1/3 a years’ worth of PTO.

    1. Lydia

      I was thinking this too but maybe I will wait until after the interview. Then, if they like me, they will have a stronger reason to hire me instead of feeling the pressure to hire me just because I know him. If I get this job, I would rather there not be negative thoughts toward me right off the bat if people think that I got the job just because of my connection and not because I’m the best candidate.

    2. diana

      I got the job i’m going to start next week because my old boss was friends with the owner of the business and I got in touch with her when I moved to the city. She offered to see if any of her locations needed to hire some more people and forwarded my resume to her managers. It’s definitely a different situation but at least maybe you could mention to Fitzwilliam (ha!) that you’re thinking about applying to their company and they can decide whether or not they want to get involved with the process? I guess that would depend on the type of relationship you have with them!

  1. Anonymous

    #4 It could be that the internal candidate just appeared on the scene in the last few days.

    I’ve had a position open since August, am in the midst of interviewing external candidates but had an internal candidate contact me to express interest just last week. My boss and I are also talking about whether we really need to fill this role or not so it is also possible that the postion could be put on hold.

    Things change all the time. I would not jump to the conclusion that someone is lying.

  2. Fitzwilliam Darcy

    #5 I’ve been filling for my boss who’s on maternity leave with not much extra money, but it’s good experieance to have on my CV and I know it’s worth while doing short term but I won’t put up with it long term.

    1. Jen in RO

      I would also advise against telling a manager. I have no idea what you heard, but just being rude, once, doesn’t sound to me like a reason to lose a promotion.

      1. Jen

        I would absolutely NOT say anything to the manager. That is a dick move. I’d totally say something to the staffer though “Hey, I overheard you say ___ about ___ and I just wanted to let you know that some people might be really offended by that and since you’re up for a promotion, you wouldn’t want the wrong person to hear that and then you can’t get the job you want. This is a very open area so don’t forget that people can hear everything.”

        No need to screw her over with her manager.

    2. Former retail worker

      OP mentions the person’s current role is working directly with the customers. I don’t know what that involves for this particular job, but I don’t know anyone who works directly with customers and doesn’t have days that make them mutter “I hate people sometimes”. I know OP said the employee said it about another coworker, but anyone can have a day like that. As long as it’s not a direct reflection of how they will perform in their current or possibly new role, I don’t see how a nasty remark could be a problem. I say this assuming the comment wasn’t racist/discriminatory in any way.

      1. huh

        Sometimes nosiness is interpreted as brown nosiness which ,dependent on the manager’s ego ,may or may not bode well for the informer. Many people do not like the idea of someone reporting on words uttered by a co-worker. They may like new employee and
        suspect the nosy one of being a ass kisser. The co-worker may be a jerk, time will tell, but ratting on a comment seems, well, petty.
        I have spent over 25 years listening to co-workers gossip, complain and vent….I can’t think of one time I needed to let someone in management know.

        1. tcookson

          I thinks the problem with the coworker being rude is that she has been there for only three months, so she is still an unknown quantity of sorts.

          Just about all of my co-workers gossip, complain, and/or vent at one time or another, but for the ones who have been here for awhile, we know whose grumblings are benign (i.e. they would never show that side of themselves to our students, faculty, or other campus constituency — just to their peers) and who needs a word from their manager because they are out of line.

          A new person starting to grumble and complain and display rudeness after only three months is worrying, because one doesn’t know whether she is going to keep it internal (between peers) or if there is going to come a point where she acts that out inappropriately. It is something to keep an eye on.

      2. VintageLydia

        +1

        I actually enjoyed my time working in retail (when the store was fully staffed, at least) and the customers were the best part. But sometimes, when I had a few unreasonable customers in a row, plus pressure from TPTB to get other work done “or else” that I didn’t have time for because they neglected to account for those customers and how much time it takes to provide good customer service, I wished they’d all go away.

    3. A Teacher

      and did you actually overhear the whole conversation? I’m not saying its right that she said that but there are times when other co-workers tick us off and maybe the person she made the comment she made reflected that. I’ve had co-workers that run to management (both in the teaching world and in the private sector) all it makes me think is “well now I just say ‘hi” to Jane and if I see her or think she’s around I need to keep my mouth shut.” Even if Jane didn’t run to administration on me. Do you really want the reputation as the tattle tail, because that is ultimately what you will end up with, fair or not.

      1. Jen

        This is true too! A friend of mine was married to a man who had the same first name as our director. She was complaining about “Jim” (her husband) to a friend – nothing major just light complaining after a bad morning one of those “I tell Jim these things all the time and he never listens! And then the whole day is hectic” and someone overheard and told our director that Mary was complaining about him. Big drama and it never needed to happen if that person had just walked up to Mary and said “Hey, you might not want to complain about the director where people can hear you” and Mary could have said “I was complaining about Jim my husband” and it would have been over with.

    4. John

      I think AAM’s instincts that the fact that she is making these comments so soon show she’s trouble are sound.

      For the sake of fairness, I would wait to see if it was just an isolated incident. I think we’ve all blown off steam with some ill-advised comments (though the fact that she said them loud enough for others to hear is a red flag).

      Just for my own conscience, I’d want to have more evidence before speaking up.

    5. #3 OP

      Sadly, yesterday I had quite the verbal altercation with the coworker in question, unrelated to the rather small one mentioned in my question.

      She came over to my desk and started almost yelling at me (complete with putting her finger in my face) that I gave her the wrong information regarding a promo and she passed it along to a customer, which then got her in trouble with her boss. While I admit my original email to her was a little vague in language, the following day we had a company-wide training session (that I facilitated) on the exact topic she was discussing, which she attended, and in which the language was not at all vague. My boss was there and when she heard about the altercation, she was confused because she knew I had explained it to her. My coworker’s reaction was definitely uncalled for (even if I had given her the wrong info) and now I’m really considering saying something. I don’t want to cause problems, as I am new too (only here 4 months) and this is my first out of college job.

      Thanks for the advice! Does her new behavior change anything?

      1. Judy

        With the information you gave above, I’d be less likely to communicate about the thing I heard.

        A 4 month employee who was confronted by a 3 month employee and then they come to me with a story of something they overheard? I already know that the 4 month employee gave the right information to the 3 month employee. Let it be. You might be perceived as being very invested in getting that person in trouble.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Ooooh, you only being there four months changes things (for me). At that point it’s unlikely that you have the kind of credibility built up with your manager that you’d want to have before involving yourself with something like this. Because of that, I’d let it go.

        1. fposte

          Seconded. If what she had said was offensive and obviously unacceptable, I might go to the manager despite my short tenure, but even then I wouldn’t mention this exchange because it becomes a laundry list rather than a problem report. And since it wasn’t offensive but merely inappropriate, this isn’t a situation where your institutional radar is tuned finely enough yet to make it useful to report on.

          1. Jessa

            Exactly, but mostly if it could be heard by customers. If it was in an employees only space, not so much. Because well everyone gets to gripe. But never where customers can hear them.

        2. A Teacher

          Agree. Too much like “Now I’m going to tattle on you” even though I get that’s not your intention. Just continue to do really good work, build up your credibility and do what you can to mitigate things with you co-worker–me being me, I’d just keep a mental note to watch what I say around her and I’d probably document odd stuff, even if its only so I know the pattern she’s setting up–not to run to your manager with.

        3. Bea W

          You did say your manager saw the whole thing. If you have a good manager and your co-worker was totally out of line, she may very well talk to this person’s current manager about what she saw, and that will carry much more weight. Let it go. If she’s trouble, it really will work itself out.

          Also, after only 3 months on the job, she may not even be a strong candidate for an internal promotion. Some businesses won’t even let you apply for another internal position that early. I think my employer makes people wait a year in most circumstances.

      3. Yup

        Your coworker seems to be busily building a lousy reputation all on her own, so I don’t think you need to point it out. The boss will be able to observe for his/herself how the coworker is behaving around the office.

        You don’t need to go to the boss with this stuff unless it prevents work getting done or is directly impacting the clients. (As in, Coworker told a client that she works with a bunch of idiots, or Coworker screams at you every time you ask for a file.) Otherwise, concentrate on your work and let her make her own bed to lie in.

    6. Unsan

      Yes, me as well. This is why I typically dislike working with woman. They are vindictive back-stabbing evil things. The lower on the payscale the more evil they are.

      I’m a woman.

      1. anonymous woman

        And I bet you are the only woman in the world who is not a vindictive back-stabbing evil thing…. Sadly, I think I may work with you.

      2. Jessa

        Excuse me? What? It’s bad enough when men say this kind of thing, but when women support it? Oh no you din’t.

  3. llamathatducks

    #7 – I’ve actually been wanting to ask this exact same thing, and I have a follow-up question.

    I currently also have activity in two unrelated fields on my LinkedIn profile, and my dad (who’s in an industry that I’m sort of looking for work in) says that the result is a weird mix that’s going to turn off recruiters because it looks like I’m not fully committed to either one. (This could be a problem because I’m a recent college grad and unemployed and seriously jobsearching, and without a long job history I could definitely look uncommitted – but I do have skills in two fields and don’t want to close off either route.)

    He suggested that I make two different LinkedIn accounts (apparently he knows people who do this). But if, as you say, that’s not the best idea, do you have any tips on how to organize my one profile so it looks unified and serious? (Part of the problem is that LinkedIn forces you to list all your experience strictly chronologically; otherwise I might’ve split it up and put all my field X work first, then all the field Y work…)

  4. Helen

    #5 – if you are in a union, yes, like a teacher aide filling in for a teacher, you get more $. If not in a union, no

    1. doreen

      Not always- when I was in a union I could fill in for a day or even a couple of weeks while someone was on vacaton without a pay increase.

    2. A Teacher

      Unless a teacher’s aide is registered as a sub and at least in Illinois, has a bachelor’s degree the TA can’t fill in for me when I’m out. When I sub for a different teacher on my prep it is a set rate of pay–which is the same for any “union” people that fill in.

    3. Chinook

      The teacher’s union up here would have a hairy fit if a TA filled in for a teacher as they have 2 distinct educational qualification. In the rare case when there are no certified teachers available to sub, a TA or a parent could fill in in a “babysitting” role but would not be allowed to teach. On the flip side, if I, as a certified teacher, applied for our be a TA, I would also he causing union issues.

      1. LCL

        Our labor agreement is quite detailed, but basically, yes, the employee temporarily assigned the higher position would get more pay. But they could only work at the higher position if they were qualified.

  5. KireinaHito

    I like AAM very much, it’s really fun and full of good, useful advises. Yet I must admit, it’s probably because I’m in Europe and I’m very biased, but sometimes when I read things like people with no time off until 10 years, employers having a say on whether someone gets unemployment benefits or not, no legal obligation of employers to increase your salary ever, link health insurance with work situation and stuff like that… sounds like the US is like the worst place in the planet to work. Is it really that bad, or is just that the legal framework leaves everything to negotiation, but in the real life people do take vacation, get their salaries increased often, good health insurance and stuff?

    1. llamathatducks

      Well, it’s both – it’s certainly possible to get good health insurance and decent vacation through your employer, but it’s also very possible not to, at all. I’m not sure which is more prevalent, but I agree with you that the system is really problematic.

      1. Bea W

        That pretty much sums it up. Labor laws also differ by state. Iwas shocked when my friend in Virginia worked 8 hours with no break. They were allowed to grab take out at the cafe if they needed to buy lunch, but there was no break to eat and you ate at your desk while working. My state mandates a 30 min break. It doesn’t have to be paid, but your employer must offer you at least 30 minutes of lunch/break time. There is no such federal law and no such state law in VA. Luckily she had a sedentary desk job that was sometimes slow. I had never heard of not being given a break during a work shift. Of xoyrse smart employers allow workers breaks, but the idea that at any time they could say no breaks and it would be legal is awful to me.

        Offering some vacation and sick time off to full time employees is common for many businesses in my area. If you work only part time jobs you probably won’t qualify for these benefits. Low wage jobs also tend to have little or no benefits like this, and yes that is as awful as it sounds. Depending on all of these factors, location, type of job, local and state laws, the experience can range from sucktacular to totally awesome.

        1. VintageLydia

          Actually in Virginia if you work 6+ hours, you need a 20 minute unpaid break. But I have a friend in Ohio who couldn’t get a break even for her 12 hour shifts (retail manager and often only employee in the store.) She checked and it was legal.

          1. Bea W

            Really? For the life of me I could not find iany law in VA that mandated any break be given, and I looked really hard too, because I thought for sure that can’t be. Friend verified it too. Now I will have to look again. She just switched divisions, and has her break back if she wants it…although she claims she’ll work mostly the 9 hours she says she will put in because that seems fair for a 6 figure salary. *facepalm* No no! That’s not how it works LOL! You come in for 9 hours and 30-60 minutes of that is for lunch you silly!

          2. Bea W

            Alas, looks like VA still has no mandatory break laws, not for anyone 16 or older.

            “3. Does an employer have to provide employees breaks or a meal period?
            No, unless the employee is under the age of 16. ”
            http://www.doli.virginia.gov/laborlaw/laborlaw_faqs.html

            “Virginia does not require employers to provide breaks, including lunch breaks, for workers sixteen (16) years old or older. VA Dept. of Labor: Labor Law FAQs. An employer who chooses to provide a break in excess of twenty (20) minutes does not have to pay wages for lunch periods or other breaks if the employee is free to leave the worksite, in fact takes their lunch or break, and the employee does not actually perform work. According to federal law, breaks twenty (20) minutes or shorter typically must be paid.” – http://www.employmentlawhandbook.com/wage-and-hour-laws/state-wage-and-hour-laws/virginia/#3

            My friend works for a huge telecom *cough*canyouheremenow*cough* who are otherwise good to their employees in terms of pay and benefits, but somehow some divisions don’t always feel the need to allow employees working 8 or 10 hour shifts a lousy 30 minute lunch break…except that one time all non-union employees were required to work 12 hour shifts 6 days a week during a strike. *Then* they got 30 minute breaks, and not only that, but meal vouchers too. I don’t get it. It’s not like it costs anything to let people take an unpaid breather.

            I’m making way more of it than it matters to her and obviously her co-workers. For some reason it just totally offends my lefty pro-labor sensibilities. Of all the things employers can do, it seems like offering breaks is one of the simplest and most cost effective, why would anyone elect not to do it?

            Note to self – Do not take a job in Ohio OR Virginia.

            1. VintageLydia

              Huh, I’m not sure where I was looking when I had an issue with my manager. You are probably right, though.

    2. Jen in RO

      I wanted to leave a longer comment, but I know that some people view these types of discussions as US-bashing, so I’ll just say that I agree, some things definitely look dismal when viewed from Europe… then again, I don’t think the people who are happy at work write to Alison.

      1. Woodward

        This. I worked at a plumbing office answering the phones and after a few weeks my impression of home owners is that “they try to fix it and then mess it up and it’s even more expensive for a professional to fix.” Then it dawned on me that all the people who actually CAN fix their own plumbing AREN’T CALLING THE PLUMBER!

        Likewise, all the people who have healthy work situations and professional communication skills and an awareness of what’s legal or not aren’t writing Alison for help. But I’m grateful for the knowledge and amusement derived from those who do need a “plumber”.

      2. Bea W

        I didn’t think it was. I have had similar discussion with my European friends. It is culture shock more than anything.

    3. huh

      Yes, the US system is awful. Horrible. Of course, Europe’s taxes are overall worse. In Europe isn’t it almost impossible for new grads to find work? Of course, being employed here is like being an indentured servant.

        1. long time lurker!

          As a Canadian, I can vouch for Canada being overall a pretty awesome place to live and work.

          1. Felicia

            I love living in Canada and being Canadian very much:) We have our flaws but i’ve never wanted to live anywhere else.

      1. KireinaHito

        huh, I think you misunderstood me. It was never my intention to question your system, just wanted to understand it. I apologize if my wording was not appropiated.
        There are hundreds of very wrong things in Europe, like anywhere else. It’s just that, as vacation and health are normally things that are not on the hands of the employers here, it’s sometimes like a cultural shock. That’s all.
        And you are totally right about the taxes. Where I live, for example, I pay 45% of my income in taxes; no fun at all.

        1. tcookson

          There are hundreds of very wrong things in Europe, like anywhere else.

          I think when we fantasize about having the benefits and/or avoiding the pitfalls of another country’s work system, we tend to cherry-pick what we would like for ourselves (i.e. all the benefits and none of the pitfalls). I’m happy in my job and with the time off and benefits I receive, but I do admit to looking longingly at Europe and Canada for some of the benefits they have that we don’t.

          1. tcookson

            But it’s just in passing. Kind of like the fact that I’m happily married, but I still notice good-looking men and occasionally think about what it would be like to have one who finishes his projects in a timely fashion instead of getting several going at once and then leaving at least a couple of them in limbo for the long term. :-)

              1. Sandrine

                Sorry for the threadjack. Was looking for you, Jamie! I need to send you a picture I took in Kyoto today. I couldn’t help but think of you :P … if you use FB please send me a message there xD … if not the e-mail I put here is fine :P .

        2. Ruffingit

          I’d totally be OK paying that much in taxes if I knew I could get very low-cost or free health care, education, etc. I’m married to someone from Europe and he is appalled at how things work here in regards to health, vacation, education and so on.

          1. Jen in RO

            Here, there is “free” health care, but it’s mostly crap, since it only covers state hospitals. Think sitting in a hospital waiting room and having to bribe a nurse to get some attention. Sharing a room with 20 other people, or even sharing a bed with another patient. Dirty rooms, dirty beds, dirty laundry. (“Free” meaning that your employer pays ~10% of your gross salary to the national health authority.)

            Most decent companies also offer private health insurance, but I don’t think major things like surgeries are covered… either way, I would rather suck it up and pay a ton of money rather than go to a state hospital.

            On the bright side, having 21 days of vacation (by law) sure is nice! There is also no at-will employment here which makes life much less stressful (but it’s also hard for low performers to get fired, which sucks).

            1. Gjest

              I have not had that experience with the health care in the European country that I live in (although it is outside of the EU). Someone below said you can’t really say that all European countries are the same, and that is definitely true.

              This may be your experience with your health care where you are, but it is definitely not an accurate description of other European health care systems.

              1. Jen in RO

                You’re probably not going to read this, but that was my point: Europe is a *very* diverse place and you can’t really generalize.

                1. Gjest

                  Ah, Ok, I think we’re arguing the same point :) I just didn’t want people to see your comment and say “see, health care is crap over there.” It is really variable, but I think there are places where it works well, and the US could learn something from those systems.

                  And of course there are places where it’s not great, which it sounds like you are in…that sucks.

            2. Omne

              I remember the first time I was in Russia. I was in a pharmacy ( or their equivalent) and saw these packs of supplies with needles, disposable scalpels etc. I asked why they sold them and I was told that people bought them and took them to the hospital so they don’t get treated with “used” ones. Apparently budgets were that bad.

          2. Felicia

            Ruffingit, you’d probably be happy with our healthcare system in Ontario. Our taxes aren’t really that much higher and the parts of healthcare that aren’t free (prescriptions, dental) are not expensive. And most of the horror stories I see online are not true.

        3. Bea W

          On the other hand, you get more from those higher taxes, like coverage for health care, good public transit, and roads that aren’t falling apart, and probably some other things (do you have to pay back the equivalent of a home mortgage to attend university or put your child in daycare?) It all balances out.

          1. Ruffingit

            Agreed. I am quite happy to pay more not to drown in school debt and not to worry that if I have pneumonia and have to go into the hospital, it will bankrupt me. And that is the case as it stands now in my life – massive student loan debt and health insurance that would bankrupt me if I had to use it for anything over and above regular doctor visits.

      2. Gjest

        I am currently living in Europe, but am from the US. Yes, the taxes are high here, but when considering taking this job offer in a country with a notoriously high cost of living (Norway), I sat down and did a comparison. Here I pay relatively high taxes, but get my health care covered (and no possibility of being bankrupted by health costs), a government pension that is being paid into, and if I went to school here it would have been free.

        In the US, my taxes were lower, but when you added in health care premiums/co-pays/deductibles PLUS my student loans, it was higher than my tax rate here.

        So, I am better off here. I would have been even better off if I went to school here, because I still have to pay on my loans even though I’m here.

        I think Americans look at the tax rate in Europe and tend to forget what people over here are getting for their money. We may have lower taxes in the US, but we’re just paying for those services piecemeal, and often paying more for them.

        1. Gjest

          I forgot to mention the amazing 30 days paid leave, unlimited sick leave (with pay from the Norwegian health plan), women get 1 year paid maternity leave, etc. etc. And the amazing work culture that you work hard but your personal/family time is of the utmost importance. Working hours are mainly 8:30-3 pm. Awesome.

        2. Zahra

          +10000

          We’re often told in Quebec that we have the highest taxation rate in North America. And it’s true, by just a few percentage points.

          However, we’ve got subsidized daycare (or tax credit if you can’t find a place in subsidized daycare), one of the lowest tuition rates in Canada for college, etc.

          I’d rather stay here with my higher taxes than have to pay for those privileges piecemeal by myself.

            1. Gjest

              I think you have to think of it this way- it benefits society to have a system that works. For example, to allow people to have kids and a career, and help with daycare costs so that the kids are taken care of well. And then hopefully they are less likely to get into trouble, etc., become contributing members of society, not break into your car/house, etc.

              It has to be looked at as a societal whole, rather than what benefits an individual. I know that is hard to hear for Americans sometimes, because we are so fiercely independent. But to our detriment sometimes.

              Anyway, I’ll get off my soapbox now…

              1. Gjest

                Also, I don’t have kids, and will never have kids. So I won’t ever personally benefit from the low cost daycare.

                1. Jessa

                  But you will because you will not have to cover the jobs of the parents in the cubicles next to you. You won’t be complaining that they get perks because of taking care of their kids, because their kids are looked after. Their kids won’t be on the street getting into trouble and making your life miserable. You kinda do benefit because taking care of their kids can make your life easier.

                  How many posts here on AAM are from people who have to cover for that person with the kid…who got to do x or y.

                2. Gjest

                  Jessa, yes, that was my point in my posts. It may not appear that I personally benefit, but I am OK partially paying for services that I don’t use because society as a whole does. You’re right, though, maybe I personally benefit more than I thought about before- which makes me even more OK paying for it! Win win!

                3. Mel

                  That’s not entirely true. Kids who are in high-quality daycare are more likely to be high achievers in their high school years, and less likely to act out–even controlling for income and family status.

                  Lost cost, high-quality daycare means that you personally are less likely to be a victim of teenagers acting out and more likely to benefit from discoveries and advances made by high achieving people who benefited from that daycare.

                  Low-cost daycare is beneficial to all of us for many of the same reasons free education is.

                4. Gjest

                  My point in mentioning that I don’t have kids was to say that I am for the daycare even though I don’t have kids, not trying to argue against paying for the daycare. Just reiterating that because the replies to this sound like it was misunderstood.

                  I am all for paying my taxes for services that I might not directly use, but benefit society.

            2. Chinook

              As a childless married person living in Quebec (Gatineau) but working in Ontario (Ottawa due to lack fo fluency in French), it was eyeopening to realize that my tax rate was feectively higher than most because a) didn’t use daycare b)couldn’t find a family doctor (the city had docs for 80% of population) so I paid to see one in Ontario (though I did get immediate treatment and even surgery for no cost in Quebec for kidney stones) and c) there was a tax credit for being single and owning a home. Homes were cheaper in Quebec but, in the long run, I probably paid more being there. But, if I had children, it would have been much cheaper.

              I did learn a lot about how you pay the taxes for where you live Dec. 31st fo that year and not based on where you worked and the value of ensuring enough withholding tax is withheld because it is no fun coming up with thousands all at once.

            3. VintageLydia

              I think of it as we all benefit from an educated populace (public education.) We all also benefit when the largest number of people who want to work, can, and for people who have to work (most of us!) don’t have to choose between that and child care costs. Especially when decent child care, especially for babies, can cost more than rent.

              If you want to know why some able-bodied parents receive welfare instead of working, for instance, child-care is number one. Most low wage jobs pay less in a month than childcare costs, let alone rent, health insurance, food, and other costs. And when reliable birth control is getting more and more difficult to get and sex education (including pregnancy prevention information) is damn near non-existent, especially in poor communities, it’s not so easy to say “just don’t have kids.” And this is where I’ll stop before I go too far off topic.

              1. Bea W

                I stayed underemployed or unemployed for a while. Sometimes that was because I was too sick to work full time, but when I did work I had to be very careful to keep my income hovering at the poverty line in order to continue to be eligible for health insurance in particular as I had (have – just much less severe now thanks to treatment) debilitating chronic conditions that required regular specialist visits and medications. I was young and had no skills which meant I could only get low paying jobs where I would have few benefits and no or crappy insurance. There was no way I could afford to stay well enough without adequate health insurance and hold down a full time job long-term.

                I was trying to get a degree so I could get a better paying job with benefits that would keep my medical expenses affordable, but it was a very long road, and if MA didn’t have laws around denying coverage to people with and for pre-existing conditions, I would have just been screwed. The time I switched to private insurance was also around the same time the mental health parity laws passed requiring insurers to cover certain conditions, considered biologically based or as the result of trauma, at the same level as physical conditions. I was very fortunate to be where I was, when I was.

                But for these 2 changes in the laws that apply to health insurance coverage, financial aid (work study was actually the most beneficial – tax exempt money for school and work experience!) and an employer who offered good plans I could afford when I did take the chance at a higher paying full-time job, I would maybe have not been able to dig myself out of that pit, and costing society rather than contributing back what I had to take out and more.

                Childcare expense is right up there with medical expenses. In my area, you can easily pay more than $1000 for one pre-school age child in daycare so you can work 40 hours. ONE child! Parents in low paying jobs can’t afford that. Sure, they can go to school to try to get better paying jobs, but you need childcare to go to school too. This keeps families in poverty, because when you are destitute poor you can get help with the things you need for your children – health insurance, food, subsidies for daycare or pre-school programs. It’s a vicious cycle. Make day care affordable, and parents no longer have to choose poverty 0ver working on advancing their education and career to earn enough money to support their families.

                Keeping people poor, especially children, benefits no one. Those children are way more likely to grow up unhealthy, uneducated, maybe drop out of school, turn to drugs or gangs or crime, and that costs us more than we’d ever spend on making day care affordable.

                I do not have children. I have 0 issues with my tax money going to programs that benefit children. The long term benefits outweigh the upfront costs and the cost to me, as a single person.

                /off soapbox

            4. esra

              Adding to what Gjest says, there are lots of things people don’t use directly that benefit them by benefitting society. Ex, children in good day cares, with good educations, who are well-fed, healthy and happy, become good doctors who take care of poor old Esra once I need it, even if I have no children of my own.

              1. Gjest

                That’s very true. And those kids who grow up to become doctors, or whatever they want, as long as they are tax paying citizens, continue to pay taxes that will pay my pension, too.

      3. EngineerGirl

        The US also has a significantly lower youth unemployment rate because the employers know that they an easily get rid of a bad fiit.

        Two sides of the same coin.

        1. Mike C.

          Denmark also makes it really easy to fire people. At the same time, their safety nets are much better.

        2. fposte

          Yeah, I think it can be a little misleading to treat Europe as a monolith in this discussion–some of this is really variable.

          1. Chocolate Teapot

            Exactly. And there is a difference between the different EU countries and places like Norway and Switzerland. The European Union has now expanded and includes a lot of Eastern European countries where cost of living is lower than in places like France, Germany or the Benelux region.

            Where I live is quite expensive, but when I go to Scandinavia or Switzerland, the prices seem quite eye watering!

            1. Jen in RO

              You’re right, even comparing EU countries is like apples and oranges. One thing to keep in mind when thinking of the low cost of living in Eastern Europe is that Eastern European salaries are much smaller than Western European salaries, and the cost of living is not *that* much smaller. For example, minimum salary in Romania is 7 times less than the minimum salary in France. However, rent is 2-3 times smaller (Bucharest compared to Paris), and food (in the supermarket) is pretty much the same. Things might look very cheap when seen from a W. Europe/US perspective, but if you’re living here and don’t have an above-average job… it doesn’t feel that cheap anymore.

              1. Gjest

                On the flip side, salaries in Norway generally make up for the high cost of living. So while my parents nearly died at the costs of things here when they visited this summer, I live comfortably on my salary. And then when I travel to the US or southern Europe- ka ching! My Norwegian salary makes everything dirt cheap!

                1. KireinaHito

                  It’s very true that the quality of healthcare varies a lot within the EU. I have lived in Belgium and Spain and both have excelent health care systems. I have also used one hospital in Germany (paid in full by Belgium by using the European Health Card, which allows you to use the health system of any EU country with charge to your home country).
                  However, I’ve heard many nasty comments about the health systems in Romania and Bulgaria.

    4. anonymous

      It varies a lot. Some of the things you mention are technically the law but most employers go well above and beyond in order to attract and keep good people. Other things are just the way it is.

      No time off for years? For full-time workers, that’s insane. Most jobs will start you with at least some, although it may be as little as a week of paid time.

      Employers also don’t really totally get a say on whether someone gets unemployment or not. They can try and fight the unemployment claim though, which is pretty scummy in a lot of cases.

      No legal obligation to increase salaries… again, that’s something where they don’t have to, but most of them will in order to avoid losing people. Though sometimes those increases will be pretty paltry.

      The worst one is the health insurance linked to work. That’s a major symptom of the US’s majorly broken healthcare situation. I’ve got a friend currently who is fighting to keep any kind of job she can, when the medicines and treatments for her spinal condition make it very difficult for her to work, because she absolutely cannot afford to lose employer coverage. Obamacare will make things easier for her (ie if she does lose her position with benefits she won’t be turned away cold for private insurance) but it’ll still be horribly costly for her.

      Overall? I would say the picture is not quite as grim as it sounds, but it’s also really not great at all. Companies here have the freedom to be very shortsighted at the expense of desperate workers who will take just about any job over no job at all.

      1. KireinaHito

        Yes, that’s the first thing that came into my mind. I’m myself an HIV+ guy, and my medication is worth something like 2000€/month, plus the blood samples, consultations, etc. If my health care would be linked to the fact that I was employed I would be constantly terrified. Plus I must admit the 20 days of vacation per year come handy to arrange my consultations and stuff, without affecting my job and my career.
        That’s why I personally value more health services rather than cash money. I, however, understand that a perfectly healthy person would prefer to cash that benefits that s/he’s not probably going to use.
        But that’s certainly too much off-topic, anyway.

        1. TL

          It is off-topic, but the US actually does have safety nets for people who are diagnosed with HIV and don’t have insurance; they’re income based but they are there. And with the ACA, things are going to change healthcare wise anyways.

          1. KireinaHito

            There’re very few people out there speaking about HIV; and how the HIV+ people deal with that in their everyday lives, that your comment made me suddenly very happy. I’m glad to hear that.

            1. TL

              Thanks! :)

              HIV absolutely needs to be de-stigmatized and dealt with in a reasonable, adult manner by the general public.

              1. Ruffingit

                Amen. So incredible how much misinformation there is out there still about HIV. The ignorance, fear, and stigma is so disheartening.

    5. fposte

      I think your last sentence is true to some extent, in that the U.S. market and convention mean that most workers do get some vacation, some raises…the health insurance I’m not so sure about, but then American health care overall is kind of problematic as an industry.

      The problem to me is that the people who don’t get those are generally the most vulnerable workers–low-income jobs at non-union places (think fast food, call centers, etc.). So it happens to the people with the fewest options when the baby’s sick, when they’re sick, when the rent goes up, etc., and it’s therefore even tougher for them to advance to jobs where they can get these benefits.

      1. Jamie

        Health care is problematic here, no question. But it isn’t as black and white as some people (not you) have made it out to be.

        I am on another forum for a health issue and some women in the UK are on a waiting list 12-36 months long for surgery. Of course those with cancer have a shorter waiting list, but if you’re in pain that is a long time to wait. But the flip side is they aren’t fighting the insurance company and incurring out of pocket costs to the same degree we do.

        I just think when it comes to things like employment and health care there is a danger in seeing things as black and white/good and evil and it’s far more complex than that. There are good and bad aspects to each system.

        And fposte is exactly right in that it’s the most vulnerable of workers who are most affected by the system, because those are the jobs where often employers are doing the bare minimum required by law.

        For instance, it’s true that by law my employer is only required to pay me $8.25 per hour, not required to provide me with benefits or PTO at all. But they pay me a fair market wage and they give me PTO and benefits not because they have to, but because it makes business sense to attract and keep good employees.

        But I do hear so often about how other countries provide so much and the US sucks…but you have to factor in unemployment rates which are often higher than ours, higher taxes, and less flexibility and freedom to fire bad employees or leave a job without prohibitively long notice periods.

        You have to weigh everything and it’s a very complex issue.

        1. fposte

          And down here I have a longer wait for a colonoscopy than my Canadian and British friends have, with the added joy of paying more. So that’s another one of those things where things vary within a country as well as between them.

          1. Felicia

            fposte – the wait for a Colonscopy in Canada would actually vary by province, and even by city. But the fact that we don’t have to pay out of pocket for it or deal with insurance companies doesn’t vary.

            1. Jamie

              I think that was her point, and it’s a good one, that it varies even within countries.

              fposte and I are in the same country and someone in my family recently had one and it was 9 days from when they got the referral to the procedure.

              Although our insurance is now calling it “outpatient surgery” with the different co-pay. But an internal ultrasound with an endometrial biopsy where they are actually taking stuff out of you is still a procedure.

              It’s like a team of monkeys trying to apply flawed logic to medical procedures – I stopped trying to understand how anything is classified a long time ago.

              1. fposte

                And for me it’s thirteen months and counting.

                Amusingly, Jamie and I aren’t just in the same country, we’re in the same state. But big city/far from big city is a huge difference in access and availability. There was a big kerfuffle here last year when our most popular health plan was replaced by one where none of the in-network doctors or facilities were local–it was a Chicago-based plan. But we’re 120 miles from Chicago.

                1. TL

                  fposte, that’s awful.

                  But I think in the US, assuming you have healthcare/can afford your procedure, you’re definitely an exception nearly anywhere (maybe your whole area is?). I have a lot of family that lives in rural areas, about an hour or two from the nearest major city and nobody’s ever had to wait more than a three weeks for a medical procedure due to scheduling issues.

                2. fposte

                  I’m two and a half hours from the nearest major city, so we might be talking a significant difference right there.

                  I’m not that crushed–it’s a routine procedure and it’s not like I’m *excited* about getting it–but I think it’s really illustrative of how labyrinthine the U.S. system can get and how the notion that you pay more but get in faster isn’t necessarily true. And of course I can get one faster if I want to pay out of pocket, but that’s true in Canada and on the NHS as well.

                3. Gjest

                  I know I keep going on about Norway, but another great thing- there can be some long wait times for procedures, but if you are faced with an excessive wait period, they will pay for you to go somewhere else in Norway, or to Sweden even, to get your procedure done. Not only pay for the procedure, but the travel costs as well. I’m sure there are cadillac health plans in the US who might do that, but I certainly did not have that when I was there!

    6. Meg

      I certainly wouldn’t call the U.S the “worst place in the planet” to work, although to be fair I’ve only ever worked in the U.S. People don’t generally write in to AAM when they’re happy with their job. They write in when there’s a problem they’d like to solve, so what you’re going to end up reading is a list of problems. That being said, I’m not thrilled with certain aspects of U.S work culture (I think it’s overly employer-focused, not employee-focused), and I think our current system of privatized health insurance in this country is deplorable. There’s a lot here we need to work on.

    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      Not having laws that mandate things like vacation time doesn’t mean that most people don’t get vacation time. You don’t need to legislate things to have them happen. (That doesn’t mean, of course, that that everyone does get them; some people don’t. But I think you have a skewed picture of how common they are.)

      Regardless, though, the U.S. is built on different values, and many of us value freedom over regulation and government interference and want to keep the latter to a minimum. Not all of us, certainly, but plenty of us. And yes, there are trade-offs in doing that (but there are trade-offs no matter which side of this you come down on).

      Calling another country “the worst place on the planet to work” is kind of offensive unless you have a lot more information than it sounds like you have.

      1. Anonymous

        I totally get the fact that different countries have different values, but when you start using biased phrases like “freedom over … interference” (or “worst place on the planet”, for that matter), I feel like it almost diminishes your argument to one of patriotic pride.

        1. Cat

          It also is – even with the caveat that not everyone agrees – implying that people of a particular political persuasion get to define what the country was “founded upon” for the rest of us. They don’t. I don’t think this country was founded on any values that conflict in any way with providing people with decent working conditions.

          1. Bea W

            Absolutely agree. I interpret our founding values quite differently than someone who associates themselves with the Tea Party, and really that is part of the beauty of it and totally inline with those values as well when you think of it. I can have my beliefs, you can have your beliefs and we’re still both Americans who can claim love of our country. (despite what either side might argue about that too!) Amen.

        2. Bea W

          +1

          One person’s “interference” (Damned ObummerCare not allowing me to deny insurance coverage based on pre-existing conditions) is another person’s “freedom” (Yay! I can get health insurance!).

          1. Jamie

            It isn’t that simple. Sure, it would be great for everyone to have excellent coverage. But that needs to be done with the understanding that it makes every covered employee more expensive to employ.

            Companies have a finite amount of resources – so the more expensive each employee is to employee the fewer employees they can hire and still remain within budget.

            So it isn’t greedy corporate monsters vs people who need insurance every time. Sometimes it’s people with increased benefits vs being able to hire more who would then at least buy rent and groceries.

            And maybe that’s better – maybe those people who would have been employed and now aren’t might not agree.

            But it’s not fair to present this as if it’s possible for it to be a win-win. Some people really welcome government intervention and think it’s the answer to the country’s problems. Some people feel the better path is to minimize government control to the areas where it makes sense to them and allow individuals and companies who are footing the bill to decide how they want to run things.

            I understand that there are a lot of problems and reasonable people can disagree on how to solve those problems…but that doesn’t mean that people who see things differently are delighting in the fact that some people don’t have coverage, or that others are rejoicing in the fact that because they now have coverage they could care less about the cost to the unemployed and fewer open positions.

            Every decent person would love it if everyone made a good wage and had excellent coverage and everything they need to be happy, healthy, and safe…but there is no one easy path to get there.

            1. Bea W

              I just used that example to illustrate my point which was there is no one definition of “freedom”.

              What some people see was “interference” (the government telling them they have to do something) can also mean “freedom” to someone else who then has access to some benefit they could not previously access because of that “interference”.

              That was my point. It wasn’t anywhere near a commentary on requiring employers to provide health insurance or on the broader topic of curbing corporate greed. Those are entirely different discussions. :) Government regulation doesn’t only apply to attempting to curb “corporate greed”. Heck, some people even consider personal income taxes “interference” or requiring children get vaccinated to attend school “interference”. Other people think requirements to vaccinate everyone are “freedom” from killer diseases. Applies to just about anything.

      2. KireinaHito

        Thanks for your reply. I admit my wording was totally not appropriated and I sincerely apologize for that. I really did not mean to offend anyone.
        The phrase “sounds like the worst country to work on the planet” was more a figure of speech, that probably turned out to be offensive due to my poor usage of your language.
        I have worked and lived for many years in Mexico, Spain and Belgium and I appreciate very much the life and work experiences I have got from every and each of those countries, and I (with all the things that I like and that I don’t), do respect their systems and culture, very much.
        So I quite understand cultural differences. And I understand that there’s no place that it’s perfect and that there are very right and very wrong things everywhere.
        I honestly and sincerely wanted to know only your opinion and perspective. No hidden meaning, and no anti-US feeling at all.
        I have been in the US many times and I respect and admire many things from there; it would make me very unhappy that you guys think that I am some sort of intolerant witch who post disrespectful messages on a forum only to have fun insulting people. It’s really not the case.

        1. Meg

          KireinaHito, nobody has once said you’re an intolerant witch, or name-called you in any way. In fact, I think this debate has been incredibly respectful of both your view and of others, and IMO has been interesting to read. There have been plenty of threads in this forum that have devolved into senseless insults, but this is not one of them. Please don’t think that just because people disagree with you, they’re calling you a “witch”, or anything else of the sort.

    8. AVP

      Well, the vacation situation in #1 is very unusual. Generally the free market dictates what’s acceptable and what’s not – a good candidate with options would normally not agree to no days off, and businesses want good employees, so they need to offer a good package. I’ve worked for a number of small companies, and they’ve all had to offer at least some time off in order to find acceptable people to work for them. At my current company, we have awful benefits (no health, no 401k, etc etc.) When I started, vacation needed to be negotiated on a case by case basis, but when I started managing people I insisted that we needed to set some ground rules and start everyone with at least 7 days per year, because it was just a huge headache to deal with each person individually, and it discouraged people from taking time off that they needed.

      For decades, insurance and retirement benefits also worked in much the same way (free market pressure led to many people providing decent plans). Now, I wouldn’t touch that topic with a ten-foot pole because it is very much not the case.

      1. fposte

        Though I thought Mouse on the post a day or two ago did a good analysis of the ways in which the market isn’t really free for many workers because of the power imbalance.

        1. VintageLydia

          +1

          When your choices are a) low/minimum wage job with no benefits or b)homelessness and starvation then there isn’t really a free market. Especially when choice “a” might still lead to “b” anyway if you get sick or have an accident.

        2. Heather

          Yes, the “free” market is…not so free. The “invisible hand” theory assumes that all parties have equal access to information relevant to their decisions, which I think only someone delusional would agree to be true in our system. But most people who talk about the concept think it just means that businesses should be able to do whatever they want and the market will just straighten things out in the end. Including lots of economists, which is depressing.

        3. MousyNon

          Thank you! I posted after the thread died off so I didn’t think anybody read my long winded cell-phone-ramble…

          1. fposte

            Sorry, I was too lazy to go back and look for your actual username! But I thought it was really eloquent.

    9. Miri

      It all depends on where you work. I’m a tax accountant in public accounting, so while I’m expected to work very long hours during certain parts of the year, we get a total of 3 weeks vacations + 2 weeks comp time (extra vacation), a week of holidays, and a week of sick time. I’m paid well (less than at some other firms in my town, but we have more vacation,which I prefer). Health insurance is so-so, but I get $1000 from my employer for my HSA. I got a decent raise about 6 months in. So it’s not all bad over here. Good jobs with good benefits are still available.

    10. Cathy

      It’s interesting that you assumed the poster in #1 is in the U.S. When I read that letter, I immediately wondered if she was outside the U.S. in a less developed country; because I don’t know how you could stay in business here without offering at least minimal time off. Maybe you can if your company is something like a restaurant or retail store with part-time hourly minimum-wage workers; or if all your employees are immediate family members who allow you to mistreat them; but generally people will find a way to leave if you don’t treat them fairly, even in a poor job market.

    11. Observer

      In addition to what others have said, there are two things to point out. One is that it wasn’t 10 years, it was 2 years before getting PTO. That’s bad, but it’s not 10 years. And, it’s not all that common.

      The other thing is that employers do NOT have a say in whether a person gets unemployment. The only time that an employer can create an issue is if they can document that a person should not be eligible for unemployment. A person would not be eligible if they quite a job (and it was not a forced “resignation” or a situation where the employer caused the job situation to be so untenable that they had no real choice) or the employee were fired for egregious misconduct.

      1. fposte

        I would describe employers as having a say, in that they literally get a chance to say when contesting an application for unemployment. But you’re of course right that it’s not their decision, and from what I’ve heard unemployment officers have no particular employer bias and cheerfully deny contestation with some frequency.

  6. Zahra

    For #1, you can take a look at other countries’ vacation policies as a reference, if you want. In Quebec, you get one day per month (up to 10 days) during your first year. After that, it’s 2 weeks (10 days) a year until you’ve been at a company for 5 years. Then it’s 3 weeks. Some companies will offer additional sick leave.

    State-mandated PTO is on a use it or lose it basis and company additional PTO policies are managed variably: some allow you to accrue indefinitely (though it’s more and more rare), others will let you accumulate up to X days, and some are on a “use it or lose it” basis.

    1. TychaBrahe

      Here’s a consideration, something my company does: the year isn’t s calendar year, but based on start date. That way you don’t have everyone trying to use up vacation in December. Especially as for us, our clients often make large purchases in December to use up budgets, so were always busy through the holidays.

    2. Y

      Looking at other countries : Germany has a mandatory minimum of 20 days for people working a 5 day week.

    3. Brandy

      I work in the US. Our PTO policy is “unlimited”– must get manager approval but I’ve never had an issue. I’ve also never attempted to take, say, 4 weeks off in a row! My particular job/manager allow flex time, which is huge for me. Part of this is because I am on the east coast, and the company is west-coast so I tend to work at night, from home, but have lots of free time in the AM.

      Before we switched models, I had 3 weeks vacation, 2 weeks sick time (carries over year to year) plus national holidays, plus 2 floating holidays.

      In my last company, I had 20 PTO days, only 5 could carry over year to year.

      So not all companies are horrible about time off. My employer is pretty middle-of-the road. A large-ish company with mediocre pay, crappy by “big company” standards benefits, etc.

      1. Brandy

        Should add that I’m early/mid career and this is starting benefits–not stuff I’ve earned over years and years of service.

          1. Person

            Unlimited PTO is a double-edged sword in many places. Aren’t there are studies showing that people end up taking less time off with unlimited PTO than with a set number of days?

              1. VintageLydia

                Yup. I think unlimited sick/unscheduled PTO is good, but with a few weeks of vacation, too. That way if you need to stay home for a week with the flu, you won’t have to take PTO 2 months later if you need to stay home a day or two for a cold (or, what many people do, and just come to work spreading those germs around and causing even MORE people to miss work.)

            1. Audiophile

              I was being facetious, I’m not saying I want unlimited PTO. I would likely be one of those people who took less time off, I do that now because I only get PTO and I have to request it weeks in advance. So that means working while sick.

              But I’d certainly like, and be happier with, a company that provided better benefits. I’d like, and am actively searching for, a company that offers a good mix benefits (i.e. PTO, sick time, vacation). I’ve found a few companies, but have yet to get my foot in the door.

  7. Chocolate Teapot

    4. Having to give the same answers again sounds slightly odd.

    Also, we have already discussed on here about recruiters sending CVs to companies in their specific format (for example removing any identifying information or adding their company logo) and I personally don’t recall ever having had to tailor my CV with a recruiter. Has anyone else had this occur?

    1. Ava

      Hi Chocolate Teapot – I agree it did seem a little odd to me. I think Alison is right in saying that this particular recruiter is not the cream of the crop – but then why was she trusted to fill this role, which was a senior role? Something doesn’t add up. Anyway thanks for you comment.

      Ava

      1. straws

        I worked as a recruiter as one of my first jobs out of college for a company that specialized in senior roles. I was inexperienced (although hopefully not as bad as this person sounds), and I quickly found another job rather than stay there. Sometimes the companies are just filling positions with whatever bodies are on hand though, or perhaps this person is also inexperienced and unproven as I was. It’s possible that the hiring company used this recruiting company before with a great recruiter and their account changed hands, or something like that.

    2. ThursdaysGeek

      I’ve had a recruiter suggest some pretty major changes to the formatting of my resume, including removing the objective section. He said it was more the format that the employers were expecting, but it made the resume a lot better too.

  8. TamiToo

    #2 in most states, if the employer does not respond to the unemployment form at all (which could happen for all kinds of reasons), then the claimant is granted benefits by default. Perhaps that is a compromise you can make; simply do not respond to the claim. In this case, the unemployment agency has no choice but to go with whatever the claimant says to be true.

    With that being said, unemployment law is written to be generally in favor of the unemployed. Additionally, in the case of a discharge, the burden of proof is on the employer. The employer must follow their own policies, do what they say, and dot their I’s and cross their T’s. Everything must be well-documented in order to be successful in getting an unemployment claim denied. To be honest, most employers do not do this well. If this is the case, then the employee will likely receive benefits even if s/he was discharged.

    Additionally, many states will not pay unemployment if the severance and vacation pay is allotted to a specific time period. For example, if someone received a six-month severance, they will not be eligible for benefits until this six months is up. All pay should be disclosed properly to the unemployment office.

    Finally, while it may seem wrong to you that someone receives unemployment benefits, this really isn’t your fight. If your employer does not want to dispute the unemployment benefits, there is nothing you can do about it. If the state makes the determination that someone is entitled to benefits, and your employer does not want to appeal it, that is their choice. It may seem unfair that this person may get unemployment benefits, however, you have no skin in the game. This is between your employer, the state, and the employee. You may actually do more damage to your reputation if your boss feels like you have an axe to grind. You can refuse to lie on a government form, of course. But in exchange you should be professional, and perhaps provide neutral information, if that is what your employer wishes to do.

    1. AnonHR

      I was going to say something similar- you can be honest in your response, but at least in the Midwest states I’m in, you can provide minimal to no information if you don’t want to fight it. Usually the reason of being fired for poor performance without some kind of blatant and deliberate disregard for the company’s interest being proved is not enough for the state to deny benefits. It is absolutely a legitimate reason to fire someone, and in my experience, no one at the state will argue with you about that, but that doesn’t meant they’re ineligible for unemployment benefits.

      1. Judy

        Yes, I’ve heard that people were told that the company wouldn’t contest an unemployment filing. I’m assuming that’s some option in the paperwork, or you could choose to not respond.

    2. BCW

      Yeah, I get the not wanting to lie aspect, but I really don’t know why she cares whether or not this person gets unemployment benefits. Your life will be unchanged regardless, whereas you may be really hurting this person (at least in the short term).

      1. Nikki T

        I didn’t get the impression that she didn’t want the person to get unemployment, just that she was really mad that she was being asked to lie about the form.

        Though she could be angry about it because now it’s become her problem..

    3. HR Anon

      I agree. The OP should just not fill out the unemployment paperwork and let the state decide based on what the employee tells them.
      Here, in Ohio, the employee puts down why he thinks he was terminated. The employer can reply confirming the reason the employee put, contest the reason the employee gave, or not reply at all. Unemployment is usually decided in the employee’s favor unless you have documented proof of the employee willfully violating a policy (like horrible no call/no show attendance with no reasonable explanation plus warnings given to the employee). Not filling out the paperwork slows down the approval process for the employee, so we’ll fill it out if it was a lay off to speed it up for them. If it’s a termination for cause, usually we don’t respond, unless the reason for termination was really bad, like thief. Even then, sometimes not responding is better for the company because it keeps from upsetting the terminated employee even more, and it’s the angry terminated people who file complaints and sue.

  9. Bea W

    #1 Oh dear. That’s HORRIBLE! You say you know this is not competitive. What are other companies in your area giving employees? That’s one place to start. There are many different ways you can implement PTO. I can tell you what companies I have worked for have done. I work in the north east. These are PTO benefits for employees working 30 hours/week or more and are standard for my industry but are generous compared to others.

    Company 1:
    Pooled PTO (no separate sick/vacation/personal time), up to 3 weeks to start, increased to 5 weeks after completing 5 years of service. PTO was accrued over time based on the number of hours/days you worked. Employees did not have their accrued time available for use until they successfully completed a 90 day probation period, but they started accruing PTO from Day 1. Unused time could was rolled over into the next year, but it had to be used by the end of the year to which it was rolled over. For example, you used 2 weeks worth of PTO in 2013. That 1 week you did not use would carry over into 2014, but if for some reason you didn’t take a week’s worth of PTO off in 2014, you’d lose those 40 hours you carried over from 2013 from your PTO pool at the end of the year.

    Pooled PTO rather than separate banks for sick and vacation time has its pros and cons. Employees don’t need to be sick to take time off, which eliminates the problem of calling in fake sick to be paid for a day off when someone has no vacation time left to use. On the other hand, people might avoid staying out for illness, so they can use all their time for planned vacation. I happened to come down with mono while I was working there, so having a large bank of pooled PTO like this was a really good deal…though I didn’t take advantage of it as much as I should have because I am a horrible judge of how sick I really am when I am sick.

    Company 2:
    3 weeks vacation time to start, earned by accruing based on hours worked. This time was available for use immediately, although since you had to accrue it, you still had to wait a bit before you could take a vacation day. The amount of time increased the longer you stayed, but I think you had to be there 10 years to see any increase. Unused vacation time could be rolled over into the next year.
    Sick time was X number of days (6? I don’t recall) given up front and reset at the beginning of the year. If an employee started later in the year, this time was pro-rated.
    2 personal days were given up front at start and reset at the beginning of the year.

    Company 3:
    3 vacation weeks to start, advanced up front at the beginning of the year or at time of hire. The time is a vacation advance, not a grant. You still earn time based on working. If you take more time than you accrued, you’ll have to pay the extra back. This is especially tricky if you leave the company before the end of the year. Unused vacation time does not carry over to the next year. It’s “use it or lose it”. This causes the office to become deserted most of December as people rush to use the last of their time, especially long-time employees who are earning 4-6 weeks instead of just 3. Previously, (before being acquired), you could roll over a limited amount, and any remainder would be paid out to you in a lump sum at the end of the year. More vacation time is granted for staying longer, but I don’t recall at which years this kicks in.
    6 days sick time, 3 personal days, and 2 floating holidays are also given to employees in the same way. This company has less official holidays, but grants people 2 days that can be used for any holiday or special occasion (birthday, anniversary) of their choosing so it evens out.
    1 week pre-planned shut down at the end of the year

  10. Bea W

    #3 – I’m one of those people who would lean toward MYOB if this is the only time you’ve heard such comments and have no other context for it. I was unclear from reading if this person (the negative co-worker) didn’t care much for her *current* work, meaning the position she currently held, or the type of work/industry/company in general. It could be she applied for the promotion because it would give her more of the type of work she would like to be doing rather than whatever she’s doing now, which she doesn’t like so much.

    The comments about another co-worker. No one is required to like everyone they work with. It’s not terribly professional or appropriate, but if that’s the only thing you’ve heard and don’t know the context, I wouldn’t go running to a manager over it. We all have less than stellar days and make mistakes. If it’s not a pattern or not totally egregious I’d feel okay letting it go, especially with a person I didn’t work with closely and didn’t know well, because I just don’t have the context, and I don’t know the quality of her work.

  11. Bea W

    #4 – this happens due to things like budget issues, reshuffling, take-overs, and other random things that crop up in business. It could be a hiring freeze just went into effect, and the hiring manager is not allowed to fill the position pending lifting of the freeze.

    A similar thing happened to me. While the company didn’t give any details except change my application status to something that looked like I wasn’t selected. I got a call 6 weeks later asking if I would be interested in applying for the same type of position with another group. It turned out that position was the one I had originally interviewed for, but the division was reshuffling its FTEs, and filling it was put on hold. When it moved to a different team, that team had to do their own interviews, but it was the hiring manager from the first team that recommended to the second team to bring me back in. I found this out because when the company recruiter gave me the requisition number for the position, it was the same as the req # at the top of my last interview agenda, so I asked because I had assumed it had been filled. Nope, not filled, just put on hold because they had decided to move it to another team.

  12. Lillie Lane

    +1. And if you feel you *have* to say something, I think the situation would be better served by talking to the employee herself. The office manager where I work commented to me one time that I needed to stop bad mouthing my boss to people. Upon self-reflection, I completely agreed with her, and I learned to shut up (most days!) and be more professional. Not that it’s stopped me from wanting to pull my hair out or slash his tires…. :)

    1. Bea W

      Yes! Sometimes people don’t realize how what they are saying or doing is coming across to others. I’ve certainly had those times where someone has pulled me aside and said something. Not only do I appreciate someone cluing me in before I make an even bigger mistake, it gives me the opportunity to apologize on the spot directly to the person whom I’ve offended.

  13. Laufey

    For #1, I applaud your decision to start offering more vacation time. Don’t be surprised if people want to take it. When you implement the new PTO policy, make sure you have a policy about holidays – if everyone wants to take Dec. 26th (or the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, or whatever), will everyone be able to, or will someone have to stay home and work? How will that be decided? Lottery, first come, first serve, seniority? Having these things established from the start will smooth roll-out.

    1. KellyK

      Ooh, very good idea. Definitely have a system and make sure people are aware of it. And whatever system you implement, *do not* make it about whose plans are “more important” (e.g., Jane gets the time because she has kids, Wakeen gets it because he has family out of state, etc.).

      Also, if people have had little to no PTO, you might not have any guidance on things like how far in advance they have to ask, who they need to inform that they’ll be out, or whether they need to arrange their own coverage. Not that you need to go crazy with rules, just that it’s worth considering how you want it handled. You might decide all of that is between them and their supervisor and call it good.

  14. Don't Go There

    #3 – In my experience, management informants are the ones who are capital-T Trouble. OP: You’re proposing to spread gossip, dear. Save the reporting for unethical or illegal activity. Else, MYOB.

    1. fposte

      I think you can make a call either way on telling management in this situation, but I would disagree that this is “spreading gossip.” It’s not irrelevant information and it’s not coming from somebody else. And unless you’re in the mob, it’s not becoming an “informant”–it’s just communicating with somebody.

      1. Don't Go There

        Informant (noun): a person who informs or gives information; informer.

        Is the information relevant? Even OP acknowledges it might not be. It’s entirely likely that the person in question was merely having a bad day, and venting to a trusted co-worker. OP is certainly free to listen in on someone else’s conversation, and then repeat any part of that conversation to someone else. But OP should use good judgement (which involves being honest about whether that quick promotion just might be affecting her judgement). If it isn’t unequivocally relevant, OP may lose the trust of everyone in that office. Passing the buck by “letting the manager decide” won’t change that outcome.

        1. fposte

          If that’s the definition we’re going by (and I don’t think you actually are), we’re all management informants, so it doesn’t matter if the OP is or not.

          And if everyone in that office knows what she says to her manager, her manager sucks, and if that’s the case she definitely shouldn’t mention this to her manager. Additionally, if I found out that a trusted staff member had a concern that she didn’t share with me that would have avoided problems down the line, I’d be disappointed in her for passing the buck rather than communicating.

          1. Don't Go There

            You’re right. This is the definition I should have provided:

            Informant (n.): one who informs against others; an informer.

            The issue here is whether the concerns are valid. The OP doesn’t seem sure they are. Whether they are or not, it’s entirely likely that the manager will say something to the person whose remarks were overheard. That person, in turn, is liable to conclude that her neighbor was the manager’s source, and tell at least one other coworker about it.

            Who “sucks” in this scenario doesn’t change anything. By repeating a conversation she overheard, OP could put her own reputation at risk. My take, therefore, is that she’d better make damn sure she’s right. We’ll agree to disagree.

  15. C-suite Diva

    #6 – sound advice. I have a wonderful CEO who makes friends wherever she goes. A lot of our job applicants come through her. The thing is, she’s a caring, warmhearted, understanding friend, but not so much as a boss — she wouldn’t be effective at her job if she was. But people seem to have a very hard time understanding that. They think they are getting “friend” CEO on the job.

    They also say things that lead me to believe they want to work directly for the CEO, which is not possible in 99% of our job openings.

    Knowing the CEO is fine; but expecting a job because of that connection or expecting to work directly with them when the job doesn’t have that kind of reporting structure is a big red flag for hiring managers (or at least this one).

    1. fposte

      Yup. I know it’s really tempting to emphasize the fact that you know somebody outside of the workplace. But in my hiring experience, the more a candidate wants to trumpet that knowledge, the less they bring to the table otherwise. And in this situation, you also run the risk of people thinking you’re making it up, or that it’s not a relationship in the CEO’s mind, just the applicant’s.

      1. Ruffingit

        Very true fposte. I would also add that you never know whether the interviewers like the CEO. If they don’t and you mention that you are friends with the CEO, that may not bode well in their minds. Fair? No. Happens? Yes. I think people are better off bringing their skills to the interview table, not what may be a tenuous connection to the job site.

        1. OP #6

          Agreed. I know in my current job if someone brought up that they were personal friends with my boss, I would run far away from them. And yes, bringing skills to the table is for sure my goal and what I will be stressing. But with the competitiveness for entry level jobs in my field, there could be multiple candidates who have the same qualifications as me. One thing I forgot to mention is that I will be interviewing via Skype so I’m already at a disadvantage and would like to make up for it.
          I guess maybe the better thing to do would be to stress how the company has really inspired and interested me for a long time instead of mentioning him specifically. Then, asking him to put in a good word for me if I move on to the next round.

          1. fposte

            That’s a lot better as a plan. Here’s the difference: knowing him may help you get the job; *saying* you know him isn’t likely to.

            1. Lisa

              I would rather leave his name out of it, until I make it through the first few rounds. I don’t want to be given a 2nd interview simply because I know the CEO and the hiring manager feels obligated to bring me back when they wouldn’t normally. And even if I deserve that 2nd interview, I want to KNOW it was based on me and me alone.

        2. fposte

          Exactly. I think it’s fine when directly asked to say Mr. Darcy’s connection with the company brought you there, but you want to way underplay the relationship (like referring to him as “Mr. Darcy” even if you call him FitzDub) and not bring it up unless specifically asked.

        3. Elizabeth West

          I don’t think the OP should necessarily hide it. I think it could be a good lead-in to why you are interested in the company. If you mentioned it in the context of “I’m acquainted with CEO and this led me to become interested in the company and what it does, etc. I like X and Y about the company, so when this opening showed up, I wanted to apply.”

  16. Ruffingit

    #3: Say nothing. You overheard one conversation and you know absolutely nothing about any of the underlying facts. She said she doesn’t care about the work she’s doing now? She very well could have meant that she doesn’t care because she didn’t feel good in the moment or she doesn’t care in the sense that it’s not her passion and she’s looking forward to doing something else. If she’s getting her work done to the satisfaction of her managers, that is all that matters. Second issue is she said something nasty and inappropriate about her co-worker? How do you know that said co-worker hadn’t just been horribly insulting and/or awful to this woman and so this woman was just venting?

    Nothing good can ever come of going to the manager and saying “So I overheard this conversation and I think you should know that so and so said she doesn’t care about her work and she went on to say something nasty about Wakeen…” In the manager’s position, I’d be thinking “You’re tattling on someone you see in passing every once in awhile based on a conversation you overheard?? Get out of my office you gossip!” Seriously, don’t do this.

    1. Person

      I completely agree. It’s ok to not like your job or a co-worker for a minute. If she has a habit of trashing everyone, that will come to light.

    2. fposte

      I would think that if this is somebody who came to me all the time (and I’d tell them to knock it off) or I didn’t know, or the problematic comment was really slight. But there are also situations where I’d take it seriously. I don’t know the OP and the situation, so I don’t know which we’re talking about.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Exactly. And if the OP has rapport with the manager and has established credibility, the worst thing the manager will think is “I appreciate hearing this, even though it doesn’t sound like something that will change my mind about the promotion.”

      2. Ruffingit

        You just can’t know the context of a conversation unless you were actually involved in it and/or unless you listened to the entire thing, in which case as the manager I’d be thinking “Why were you listening to this and not doing your work?” There are just too many unknown variables in reporting on something you’ve overheard. I wouldn’t do it.

        1. fposte

          I wouldn’t have to have a report on the whole conversation to care, though; it would depend on what was heard. I’ve definitely had people who work for me whose judgment I’ve trusted utterly, and who would be taken seriously if they brought a concern to me even if the situation was as semi-random as this. It depends on the worker and the specifics. I wouldn’t have a blanket “I would never listen to something like this.”

          Basically, for me it’s about my view of my staff. In general, they are smart, committed, level-headed, and underinclined toward conflict, so if what they heard really perturbed them, I’d take that seriously.

  17. VictoriaHR

    Am I missing something about #1? I see “no PTO until 2 years” in the actual letter, but AAM and others have referenced no PTO until 10 years. Confuzzled!

    #4 – when I worked for a recruitment agency, I never got a dime unless my candidate was hired for the position and stayed X number of days. Then my firm would get a placing fee. So sure, they signed up with the recruiter’s agency, but found an internal candidate or something and don’t want to pay the fee to her if they were to hire one of her candidates.

  18. BCW

    To echo what has been said, #3, keep your mouth shut. You overheard part of a conversation, which could very easily be taken out of context. You even admit she was having a bad day. And what she said about the co-worker, maybe the co-worker did something to that person to warrant whatever was said. I think trying to affect her promotion on a snippet of a conversation you eavesdropped on is kind of petty.

    1. Ruffingit

      Totally agreed. I cannot see anything good coming out of a conversation with the manager about this.

  19. Ellie

    I have to say, I’m pretty unconvinced by the answer to letter #3. I still don’t really understand what the upside of tattling to the manager is. If the co-worker had said something really egregious, then it would be a different story. Otherwise, I don’t really get why it’s a good policy to encourage your staff to assess their co-worker’s characters to you. It seems like a policy that could easily backfire and has a lot of scope for manipulation.

    The LW has no managerial responsibility for the co-worker, no repeated incidents to report, no evidence of any effect on business function or even on morale. These comments seem to have no effect on their work at all. Yet the LW wants to try to block an internal promotion on this basis? This isn’t about nosiness, it’s about being a grown-up. How many times do we see managers who allow their favored staff to pour poison into their ears about co-workers by using flimsy incidents and he-said/she-said? Honestly, to me this is just the same. Let the co-worker stand and fall on her own reputation. Being dragged in will likely do your reputation no good either.

    Remember that co-workers can become bosses or clients. Throwing people under the bus to curry favor with management may not be a career winning strategy.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s not about trying to block a promotion. It’s about passing on information that the manager may or may not find relevant, but the manager is perfectly capable of making that call. If what the OP heard isn’t egregious, then the manager can ignore it. We can’t really tell here how serious it is, without having a lot more context.

      1. BCW

        Maybe its not blocking, the OP is doing if to affect the decision making process of the promotion. And you are right, we don’t have enough info, but I would think you would only want to involve yourself in the process if what was said was really a major deal, which it doesn’t sound like it is.

  20. B

    #1 Just make it retroactive. Having no vacation for 2 years is HORRIBLE.

    #2 – Why do you care so much about this persons unemployment benefits. Obviously the manager does not want to contest it. Maybe that’s what they agreed upon before they were fired. It does not affect you but could truly harm the person trying to collect. This is one of those things I think putting your foot down on is not worth it.

  21. Jamie

    I don’t get the CEO question. If you’re close enough with the CEO you wouldn’t need to mention because, ostensibly, if they wanted to vouch for you they’d give the hiring manager a heads up on your behalf.

    If you’re not close enough that the CEO would vouch for you why reference it at all? It’s not going to help you if they ask the CEO about you and they barely know you. I “know” a lot of people…parents of kids on teams with my kids back in the day, friends of friends…acquaintances…none of that would help any of them get a job here by name dropping to HR. “My daughter was on the same cheer squad as Jamie’s daughter.” To which everyone would reply, “So….”

    I don’t get this one at all.

    1. OP #6

      I see your point. I think maybe the better question to ask is should I ask for him to vouch for me at all?

      I do know him well enough that this wouldn’t be an issue but I don’t want to be that person that the whole department thinks (however unfairly) that I was hired based on my connection. But would a hiring manager find it a red flag as well if I never mentioned it and then he/she later found out that I know him? Or am I just being over sensitive to this? I would really like to give myself a leg up over a similar candidate if I was neck and neck with someone.

      1. saro

        I don’t think there is anything wrong with telling him that you applied, have an interview scheduled and if he was comfortable with it, would he put in a good word for you.

        Is he the CEO? If yes, then perhaps just send him a note saying you applied and have an interview scheduled with his company, and that you look forward to meeting his team.

        I usually don’t care how someone joins my team, only if they have good interpersonal skills and work hard.

      2. some1

        “I don’t want to be that person that the whole department thinks (however unfairly) that I was hired based on my connection.”

        Some people probably will assume exactly this initially if they find out. I know it’s not fair or nice, but it’s the reality. I’m not pointing it out to be rude, just because if it bothers you that much you probably shouldn’t apply there.

        However, if you get hired, kick butt, and treat your co-workers with respect, in time no one will care how you got hired.

      3. Parfait

        I was asked on an employment form once if I knew anyone who worked at the place, and I said I did know this one guy. The interviewer brought it up – he’d said he did not know me when they asked him. GAH.

        I certainly didn’t know him well or anything but I would have thought he’d remember my name. Humph.

        I didn’t get the job.

        I don’t even know why they asked the question on the form, now that I think about it.

  22. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

    #2: I don’t think this is a question of ethics at all. The reasons your company chose to end this person’s employment are only the government’s concern IF you don’t wish to pay unemployment benefits, in which case it must ensure that the person isn’t being cheated. Why should the government want to punish a poor worker if even his/her former employer doesn’t care to do so?

    1. Jamie

      It isn’t about punishing or rewarding anyone – it’s about approving UI or not depending on whether the separation of employment meets the legal criteria.

      And it doesn’t matter what the former employer wants. People pay into UI, employers pay into UI, and taxpayers as a whole pay billions into UI. I’m all for a safety net for those who lose their jobs through no fault of their own – but there is a cost to taxpayers outside of individual and employer contributions – so that should be vetting to make sure people meet the criteria established.

      Now, in my state, you do get UI if fired for incompetence or anything outside of gross misconduct. I could start halfassing everything, showing up late all the time, calling in constantly and I’ll still get UI. You’d have to prove what I did rose to such a level of gross misconduct in order to deny me – so basically as long as I don’t set anything on fire (on purpose) or punch anyone as long as I was let go and didn’t quit they will greenlight the UI. I personally think the criteria should be stricter, but no one asked me.

      1. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

        The determination of whether a terminated employee is qualified to receive benefits is made by the agency based on the recommendation of the employer, and that recommendation is purely an internal decision. And the possible reasons for separation aren’t all that black-and-white; “lack of work” and “not qualified” are both judgment calls. It’s hardly an ethical breach to describe a separation in terms more favorable to the employee when dealing with the government than when discussing the matter internally.

        If there were a mechanism in place for the government to challenge benefits by demanding evidence that a claimant was qualified, things might be different. But the government’s interest in paying unemployment insurance in the first place–keeping the substantial unemployed population fed and sheltered–isn’t served by demanding strict adherence.

        1. Jamie

          IME it’s made by the agency independent of the recommendation of the employer. The employers response is only one data point and it boils down to whether the government agency believes the criteria has been met or not.

          And also ime when it’s a they said they said UI will almost always be rewarded. It’s very hard for an employer to win when they contest, which is why I don’t think their recommendations mean anything to the agency.

          This is how it works in my area, I can’t speak to other regions.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, I’ve never seen employers be asked for a recommendation about whether an employee should or shouldn’t get benefits. They just get asked for facts surrounding the person leaving, and the UI makes a decision.

            1. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

              “Recommendation” was a poor choice of words on my part, but it’s effectively the same thing–laid off, fired for poor performance, fired for misconduct.

          2. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

            Well, I’d argue that the agency doesn’t have all that much evidence other than what the claimant and the employer provide, but true enough that it’s their determination to make.

            And while it’s difficult (by design) for employers to contest UI, there are plenty that do so. I would assume there’s a great deal of regional variation here.

  23. AB

    Re: question #2, I have a follow up question. Suppose you were fired after refusing to comply with the order to lie to the unemployment state department (which obviously I hope will never happen to the OP or anyone, but is a situation similar to something an ex-colleague is facing).

    What would be the best wording for the answer to the question of why you were fired, if asked during a job interview?

    1. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

      I’d just say what happened, as delicately and objectively as possible. Most reasonable people wouldn’t consider that to be badmouthing the previous employer.

      But that’s assuming the OP had been fired for refusing to do something truly unethical, which I don’t think would be the case here.

      1. AB

        Thanks, Mike — it’s good to get some additional perspective on this.

        Still, I don’t see how yo ucan say the request isn’t truly unethical, if the OP was asked to “lie about the reason a previous employee was fired”.

  24. Mike B. (@epenthesis)

    Also, holy cow, #1. It’s great that you’re finally remedying the situation, but I have no idea how you’ve managed to retain people under those circumstances (unless, perhaps, you have an extraordinarily generous office closing policy for holidays).

    1. Ruffingit

      Or there’s really high unemployment in the area and this job is one of the few available. Whatever the case though, it’s insane and I’m glad they’re remedying it too.

  25. Andrew

    #7 Also, having one profile for both will make your contacts from your day job aware of your sideline and they might be interested in your services.

  26. MissDisplaced

    #2
    No need to lie. But no need to get petty either!

    Sorry, but it did come off a bit that way, as though you feel “this person got enough from the company, so they shouldn’t get unemployment either” kind of sentiment. A severance/vacation payout have nothing to do with a former employee receiving unemployment benefits.

    So just tell the truth: The person was fired for poor performance in the job (whatever that means and how it was addressed). Don’t “paint a whole picture” to try and have the person denied benefits. It’s just wrong. I’ve seen far too many companies do this when employees are fired, trying to be petty and punitive, and in many cases the “problem” went both ways.

  27. TamaraLea

    #2 – I am an HR manager and oversee the employee who handles unemployment claims for my company. We typically do not fight unemployment claims because it helps reduce legal claims (unemployment helps people make ends meet financially while between jobs). This means we allow some people to collect when technically under state laws they might not be eligible – including some resignations.

    To do this – rather than lie – we often state on the forms: “Company is not contesting unemployment benefits for ___.” That usually does it. But if not we tell them something like this: “Company has agreed to keep the terms of employee’s separation confidential based on mutual agreement and will not disclose any further information. We accept this may result in a decision about the employee’s unemployment claim which may result in our reserve account being charged.”

  28. Vicki

    “(Also, I suspect that recruiter is … not the cream of the crop. Asking you questions over the phone and then emailing you those exact same questions for you to answer again? No.)”

    Oh good. It’s not just me who feels this way.
    (I generally get it the other way round. They email the questions; I respond; they call and ask the same questions. Sigh.)

  29. Lisa

    For the PTO reference….this includes sick, vacation, pto, etc. 1 week of vacation after 2 years of working there. Many potential hires have not accepted our offers because of this. Things need to change!

  30. STL

    For the PTO reference….this includes sick, vacation, pto, etc. 1 week of vacation after 2 years of working there. Many potential hires have not accepted our offers because of this. Things need to change!

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