sleeping on the job, helping an employee whose first language isn’t English, and more

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

1. Fired for sleeping on the job

Do you think someone should be fired if they are caught sleeping on the job but are in school and work full-time?

Sleeping on the job is a Really Big Deal no matter what the reason. In many workplaces, yes, it will get you fired. Personally, I wouldn’t fire someone on the spot for a single occurrence of it if they were otherwise a great employee, but I’d certainly make it clear that it couldn’t happen again, no matter the reason. And sure, if I knew it was linked to the rest of their life being over-scheduled, I’d talk with them about whether they realistically thought they were able to keep up the current pace and still be 100% at work — but the ultimate handling wouldn’t be much different.

The thing that bugs me about this question is that it sounds like you’re implying that going to school while working full-time should excuse behavior that otherwise wouldn’t be okay. And it doesn’t really work like that — you’re expected to perform at the same level as everyone else, regardless of what other commitments you take on (kids, school, a passion for community theater, or whatever).

2. Did my colleague list her positions wrong on LinkedIn?

My question is about the correct way to list maternity leave on a resume or LinkedIn profile. I worked with a woman at a previous company who received a promotion six weeks before going on maternity leave, which lasted approximately four months. When she returned to work, the company had been acquired and she had a new title with the new company (from senior account manager to project manager, so likely different responsibilities). Her LinkedIn profile states that she held the first position for four months before the acquisition took place, when realistically she only held it for six weeks. What would you suggest for situations like this? To me it appears misleading to future employers, but I wanted to get your opinion too.

When it comes to jobs, the difference between six weeks and four months is negligible — they’re both extremely short and employers aren’t likely to be impressed by either. That was her job during that time, despite the fact that she was away for much of it, and it’s not unreasonable to list it the way she did on LinkedIn. Given that we’re talking such a very short period of time, employers are really unlikely to think anything of it.

3. How can I help my partner write better cover letters?

Since starting to read your blog (almost religiously now) my cover letters have dramatically improved. “Best cover letter I’ve ever read!” say friends. Great, right?

My partner is looking for a new job. She’s been applying to jobs that are good fits in many ways. However, she writes bad cover letters. “I’m a hard worker and a team player” bad. Nothing offensive, just canned and not adding anything to the resume. When she asks me to edit, I’ve tried rewriting things so they are more compelling, but am trying not to interfere as much. I’ve tried talking them out loud with her, asking her to tell me a story of what makes her a great supervisor, or about her technical expertise in an area. She fumbles and doesn’t come up with much, and her cover letter doesn’t change.

I am trying not to meddle, but really want to see her get some interviews, and I suspect these cover letters aren’t doing her any favors. Any suggestions on how to help? I learned by reading your blog every day for over a year, but that’s a little time consuming.

Can you show her examples of some strong cover letters (yours and/or the ones here), so that she has a better idea of what they can look like? And if you’re able to tell about how changing the way you wrote your own letters increased the number of interviews you got, that could be helpful too. But beyond that, I’m not sure that there’s much you can really do — you can’t write them for her, so all you can really do is point her to resources, and then it’s up to her what she does with them.

4. Should I use a job application tracking site that requires me to log in with Facebook?

Recently I have received a couple of automated replies to job applications, inviting me to track my application with Jobvite. Great! Except it requires you to log in with your Facebook account, which I’m sure then gives the recruiter access to your social network page. Isn’t this a step too far? Do recruiters really need to know about your family and friends and your social life? I would like to track these applications but I am very reluctant to log on with Facebook, I don’t have anything to hide but I feel it’s an invasion of privacy.

I hate this trend of sites requiring you to log in via Facebook and not allowing you to register any other way — because not everyone wants their entire life linked to Facebook, and because not everyone has a Facebook account and it’s odd to assume that they do. I’d encourage you to write to this site and tell them that you’re not using their service because it requires a Facebook login and ask them to change their set-up.

5. My boss didn’t pay me for canceled work

I work as a swimming teacher and one morning my boss texted me to say some of the children had cancelled and so she didn’t need me to work. I later found that I wouldn’t be paid for that time. I would understand this, but the lessons are paid in blocks so if a child misses a lesson, my boss is still paid for that time. When questioning her, I was told that I wasn’t paid as my boss had lost the money, but I know that isn’t true. Is this legal and should I be paid? (This is the only job i have and so it funds my living, traveling, and food.)

Unless you’re an exempt employee (which it doesn’t sound like you are) or have a contract that specifies a different arrangement, your boss does not have to pay you for time you didn’t actually work. So the issue here isn’t your boss not paying you, but rather the fact that it sounds like she lied to you, which is lame.

You could try to negotiate a different arrangement with her going forward, though — you could point out that lessons are paid in advance and you block off that lesson time as being unavailable for you to take on other paying work, and you could ask for an arrangement where you’re paid for canceled lessons (or for lessons not canceled at least X days beforehand, or something like that). Your boss wouldn’t be obligated to agree, but you could try to negotiate this just like anything else. (And put it in writing if you succeed.)

6. Should I have an auto-reply for potential employers while I’m on vacation and away from email?

I am going on vacation in two weeks, without email access, and I have many applications out in the job market. I’m not expecting anything to come my way while on vacation, but I keep having nightmares of coming back to find that I got a bite on Monday, but my non-response for the better part of a week has shot me in the foot. Would you recommend putting up an out of town auto-reply for my personal email account? Or something else?

Yes, absolutely put up an auto-reply explaining that you’re away and when you’ll be able to access email again. That said, if there’s any way to check your email once or twice while you’re gone (and you’re willing to compromise your vacation in that way), it might be worth doing. Some employers will be willing to wait once they see your explanation, but others may move on with other candidates if they see you’re not available to respond. So it’s really a calculation about how much you’re willing to risk that.

7. Helping an employee who speaks English as a second language

I recently inherited an employee who speaks English as a second language. She’s a good employee — hard worker and very open to feedback — but her role is one that involves a lot of client interaction and internal project management, and I feel like her current level of English comprehension is holding her back. Specifically, many clients have a hard time understanding her on the phone, and I have a hard time explaining concepts in a way I feel like she fully understands.

Do you have any tips for I can work better with her and help her grow in her career?

I’d tell her the ways in which she’s doing a good job but be honest with her about the ways that you’re seeing the language barrier holding her back. From there, suggest classes or self-study — and if you can adjust her work schedule to ensure she’s able to pursue those options, that would be especially nice.

{ 187 comments… read them below }

  1. $.02*

    7. Helping an employee who speaks English as a second language

    Are you sure she can’t comprehend English or her accent is the drawback? I’ve an accent but English is my first language (among other languages). While I’m a master in the written and spoken language I cannot change my accent. I am just curious to hear about your co-worker’s situation. Maybe s/he can change to a role with less client interaction

    1. PEBCAK*

      A tactic I often use when I’m not sure I am understood is to ask the listener to paraphrase what I’ve said. If I give them instructions, I follow them with something like “can you repeat that back to me so I can make sure I didn’t miss anything?”

    2. Anonymous*

      You may not be able to change your accents, but many people can. If the employee can learnto at least tone it down, it will help her in the long run.

      And this is coming from someone who had trouble being understood due to accent and dialect issues.

      1. Jen in RO*

        I think that completely *removing* one’s accent is very difficult unless the person has spent many years in the new country (preferably when young). However, it should be possible to *improve* the accent – maybe the company could pay for a teacher, if it’s not prohibitively expensive?
        (And now I’ll be sucked into an hour of reading about accent training! This sounds fascinating:

        Also, YMMV, but I think that it’s usually possible to tell from a conversation if the other person understands everything you’re saying or not. You might be talking to someone in your own language and realize that the other person’s eyes have glazed over. We can’t know if this is OP’s situation or not, but PEBCAK’s suggestion would probably work well.

        1. Jen in RO*

          Ok, this lasted less than an hour, because I don’t know IPA, so I don’t understand the explanations. Fascinating nonetheless, and today I learned that there are two “th” sounds in English (“the” vs “father”). And I still can’t pronounce either of them :P

          1. Phonetics*

            Actually, it’s the same “th” sound in both “the” and “father” – they’re both voiced. Better examples would be “think” and “the.” In “think,” the tongue touches the teeth and air is expelled, but the vocal chord doesn’t move. In “the,” the same thing happens, except that the vocal cords do move (if you put your hand on your throat, you’ll be able to feel the vibrations).

              1. Jen in RO*

                It went to me – there might be some weird stuff showing up now since one of my comments contained a link and it’s in moderation… but I replied to it and my second comment shows up without a context!

                And oops, I remembered the examples on Wikipedia wrong (they were “think” and “father”). I still can’t hear the difference, but I can feel it! I bet my office mate thinks I’m crazy for touching my neck and talking to myself, but I’m a nerd and I get excited about stuff like this.

                1. Erin*

                  You’re giving me flashbacks to my college linguistics class! A whole roomful of people sounding out phonemes. Glottals and fricatives and stops, oh my!

                2. Phonetics*

                  Yeah, something wonky’s happening. I checked half an hour ago and they didn’t match, but now they do!

                3. Natalie*

                  There was a fun US dialect quiz that made the rounds on Facebook a couple of months ago. A lot of the questions were about slang, but a number of them were also about pronunciation. I was surprised to find out that even as a native English speaker there are sounds I can’t tell the difference between.


                  And actually, now that I think about it, I think an AAM comment thread is where I first learned that “cot” and “caught” aren’t pronounced the same to everyone else.

                4. Jen in RO*

                  @Phonetics: Yup, I guess Alison woke up and approved my comment up there ^ (the one with the wiki link).

                  @Natalie: That sounds interesting! Funnily enough, to my non-native English speaker ears “cot” and “caught” do sound different, but a lot of other things don’t. (Tip for other non-native speakers: if you try to say “can’t” with a British accent, it will sound like something very, very rude. My American friend made fun of me until I started saying it with an American accent.)

                5. fposte*

                  We had a South African-born professor in grad school who made us giggle every time she talked about Kant.

                6. Tiff*

                  Aaaand, I’m back at the conservatory. Thanks so much for jogging my memory! My roommate used to tease the mess out of me between my IPA practice and what she called “clapping class”.

                7. Julie*

                  This conversation reminds me of my Spanish professor (in a southern California college). He was from South America (I don’t remember which country), so he learned British English in school, but he also had a lisp. He was perfectly understandable in English, but his pronunciation was definitely unique for some words.

            1. Jamie*

              Okay, I’m sitting in my office at 5:38 am with my hand on my throat checking out my tongue placement saying “the” and “think” over and over.

              I can feel the difference in my tongue placement, but they still sound the same to me.

              And Jen, there are plenty of native Chicagoans who can’t pronounce “th” either. :)

          2. fposte*

            Actually, those are the same th sound, just to make it worse :-).

            The difference is voiced vs. not voiced; in English, other examples are z vs. s and d vs. t. “Thick” and “think” are unvoiced, while “the” and “father” and “there” are voiced. A millennium or so ago they were different letters, but we’ve decided since then it’s more fun to confuse the non-native speakers.

            1. Anonymous*

              I think people are making it harder than it is — you don’t need to perfect your sounds to become highly successful in a second language.

              I’m a non-native English speaker living in the U.S. who gets asked to speak in public events by the same institutions all the time, both in person and in webinars for 200+ people. To me this indicates the audience can understand me very well, even with my accent. I don’t make a huge effort to lose it because it’s always an ice breaker in parties — people are always complimenting my accent, and asking where I’m from.

              What’s important is not to lose one’s accent, but rather to speak in a way that is understandable by all. It looks like the OP’s employee has trouble not only being understood, but also understanding what others say. I agree with AAM’s recommendations, and would make sure to establish some “stretch goals” to motivate her to improve. Learning another language is a lot of effort, but an effort that anyone who needs to communicate in that language for work needs to be willing to make. And it could be as simple as starting to listen to Voice of America (voanews dot com) to improve your vocabulary, and practicing speaking out loud so your muscles get used to the language. I’m proof that you don’t need very elaborate training to achieve a good level of fluency.

                1. AB*

                  Thanks, Elizabeth – I just noticed that I had lost my normal nickname, probably cleaning the browser cache, and ended posting as Anonymous.

              1. Anonymous*

                I agree about speaking in an understandable manner. I am from the South (the state of Mississippi, to be exact) and yes, I do have a Southern accent, BUT! I am extremely careful to always use correct grammar and try to go easy on the slang (though I will ALWAYS use “y’all”!! :-) ) That is one thing I always stressed to my children, too.

      2. Chocolate Teapot*

        A strong accent can be difficult to understand, but it is possible to speak more clearly.

        I remember somebody from university who had a strong Liverpudlian accent, but lived on a corridor with people from the south of England. He managed to lose the Liverpudlian accent and ended up speaking standard BBC English!

        1. Simonthegrey*

          My mother managed to do that: deep south drawl to a faint twang, just by working at a call center in her 20s and getting sick of the men who thought her accent was sexy.

          1. Emma*

            I just met someone who changed her accent from her American state’s neutral accent to a flavor of English. She’s been doing it for years, apparently. I never met anyone like that in my life – it’s …odd to me.

          2. Diana*

            It may not be on purpose. I once spent 4 months in Florida when I was 11 and my brother told me I came home with an accent. I never noticed.

        1. Twentymilehike*

          I’m curious how that plays into actors who play roles with differing accents and people who randomly decide they are going to use a different accent, such as Madonna.

      3. Chinook*

        Let me add my voice to those who say you can tone down an accent (and that this isn’t always an ESL issue. My grandfather-inailaw was born and raised in Newfoundland and DH could never understand him on the phone). Here are some tips for those with heavy accents:
        1. Slow down so the listener has time to process
        2. Use a Script when possible and practice prouncing it more clearly
        3. Be aware if there are sounds you have difficulty pronouncing and create work arounds (my grandmother doesn’t do “h” well and always clarifies when she talks about her friends Helen and Ellen)
        4. Be confident and don’t mumble
        5. Tell the listener that you know you are sometimes hard to understand and they should feel free to interrupt for clarification

        1. Anonymous*

          This toning down does not work when the speaker is under pressure; they always revert to the ‘mean’ i.e. whatever is most comfortable and customary. And this is true of all ‘pretenses.’

    3. Emma*

      The reverse could the problem – her client hears an accent and immediately thinks “I can’t understand her! She can’t speak English!” without bothering to try.

      I’m biased, of course. I have immigrant parents, one of whom has a thick accent.

      1. fposte*

        No, you’re right–there are actually research experiments on this. The same voice will elicit more “I can’t understand it” responses from American test subjects if it’s paired with an obviously non-European face.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I used to hear that from people at Exjob; then I would talk to the person and I could understand them just fine. Most of the time I’m pretty good with accents; the times they were absolutely incomprehensible were very few. In those cases, I was very apologetic and told them, “I’m sorry, I’m not used to your accent and I’m having trouble understanding you. Could you speak more slowly, and I will repeat back to you to make sure I am getting this?”

  2. PEBCAK*

    AAM, on #1, I think “no matter the reason” should have an asterisk. There are obviously health things that could cause this, or totally out of the norm personal issues, or something like that…yes, it’s bad, but there is managerial judgement to be used every time.

    1. Elizabeth*

      I think it would still be a Really Big Deal, just in a slightly different way – less of a blot against the employee’s character, but still a sign that something needs to change.

      1. Jessa*

        I think if this happens once, and the employee knows it’s not because they were up until Oh God it’s Morning Already, they should check with their doctor, because even if they’re ill, it’s on the employee to either make arrangements with the boss about their illness (reasonable accommodations) or figure out an adaptation (change in sleep habits, medicine, etc.) that keeps them awake at work.

        1. VictoriaHR*

          I was actually fired for falling asleep when I was working from home and missed a meeting. In my case, I had a 4 month old baby who wasn’t sleeping through the night and also undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea (since diagnosed and now I sleep with a CPAP mask). At the time I was devastated to have been fired, but I understand it of course. Managers need people who are committed to being there during the set hours of their job. Doing anything during those hours, other than your job, isn’t cool.

        2. Kou*

          That makes the assumption that something can be done, however. All kinds of weird things– including just having a stuffy nose a lot –that are neither major nor correctable can increase “daytime sleepiness” (the hilarious term a lot of studies use) even if it’s not causing obstructive sleep or somesuch. Lots of things involving inflammation, for example, cause fatigue and there isn’t a thing to be done about it. You can rinse with saline every day and use nasal steroids and have sinus surgery and still have that weird inflammation mess with you from time to time. Happens to an exceptionally large proportion of people in some way or another, sinus or otherwise.

          Now that doesn’t mean anyone with a stuffy nose gets to sleep at work, obviously. I just caution against the idea that something being medically predicted means it can also be medically solved if only the employee took initiative.

    2. Michael*

      I have several medical conditions that could interfere with my work, including one that could cause me to fall asleep, but I actively manage them so that they don’t. If they ever got so severe as to interfere with work, my boss would be the first to find out, before problems happen. That’s just being a responsible, respectful employee.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Exactly. I’ve done the working/going to school thing and I’m now teaching students who do this. There is no excuse for falling asleep in class or at work. If your schedule is causing you so many problems, something has to give, but it has to give on YOUR side, not on your teacher’s or boss’s side. It’s your responsibility to get your life together and deal with it.

        1. Twentymilehike*

          What about when the lecture is very, very boring? :)

          Try as I might, there were just some professors who put me to sleep ….

          1. fposte*

            I had a colleague who’d shake such a student awake and say calmly, “You okay?” I think it deterred recidivism :-).

          2. Kat M*

            I used to work from 7-4, then go to school from 6-10. For the life of me, I just couldn’t stay awake for a four-hour Anatomy and Physiology lecture.

            Luckily, I consistently outscored all my classmates on every exam, so the professor told them to leave me alone and let me sleep. Excellence has its rewards. :)

          3. KellyK*

            One of my favorite, most interesting professors in college also happens to have a very calm, soothing voice that could put me right to sleep if I was tired (especially if it was afternoon and the room was warm). There were a couple instances where I fell asleep in her class, and I was absolutely mortified.

        2. Anna*

          I’m sure this is not your issue, but if students are regularly falling asleep during your lectures, their lives might not be the problem… I didn’t often fall asleep in class, but man when I did, it was almost 100% because the professor was dull dull dull. Other than that, because of a medical condition, if I am dozing off at my desk I know it’s probably because of something I should take a look at immediately.

          1. fposte*

            Though the slot after lunch is always a sleeping pill. They should only schedule really physical classes then.

            1. Lynn Whitehat*

              I took a seminar at work once where the teacher said he knew it was hard to stay awake after lunch, so feel free to stand up at the back of the classroom if you started to feel drowsy. I thought it was a great idea, and ever since then, I’ve made a point of standing up in situations where drowsiness may strike.

            2. Sarah*

              Really? Perhaps it was just that I went to a good school, but, man, were some of my most exciting classes at 1:30. All my upper level seminars ran from 1:30-4.

          2. annie*

            I remember in college I would get sleepy if it was a class where there was a film being shown and the lights were dimmed. No matter how interested I was or how much I wanted to stay awake, the dimmed lights always got to me – I’m still like this actually! Eventually I took to sitting near the door where there was the most amount of light, and bringing a Starbucks to class.

            1. Twentymilehike*

              Haha yeah my hubby CANNOT watch an entire movie. No matter what movie it is, if he’s on the couch or in bed he’s snoring halfway though.

          3. Ruffingit*

            Students are not falling asleep in my class. :) When I said I have students who “do this” I meant I have students who work and go to school. I just received my evaluations from students and they were excellent so boring lectures don’t seem to be a problem, but I’m always open to the fact that they might be so I try to change things up and make things more active in my classes :)

    3. thenoiseinspace*

      My boss takes an hour and a half nap at work every day. Literally every single day. Shoes off, feet propped up on the desk, door open – I can hear her snoring from my office sometimes and it’s very distracting. Obviously, she’s the manager, so she gets to call the shots, but it’s certainly very unprofessional. If she were staying late or coming in early, or making up the hours in some way, it’d be different, but she doesn’t. One of my coworkers has taken to photographing and even videoing it, just in case. (In case of what, I’m not sure, but I think she’s going with a general “CYA.”)

      1. Elizabeth*

        While sleeping on the job isn’t cool, your coworker taking photos and video is intrusive and inappropriate. If everyone in your office knows that your manager takes naps every day, then even in a case where you did need to prove it, surely the testimony of multiple witnesses would suffice.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t see how videotaping this covers your coworker’s ass, or why said ass needs to be covered. If she wants to do something about it, she should talk to the manager’s manager.

        1. Anna*

          And really, if it’s during her lunch hour it ain’t nobody’s business, although she should probaby just do it in an hour and close the flippin’ door.

          1. Barbara Jean*

            Back in my broadcasting days, there was a point when I would work 10 hour days with a hour and a half commute each way. A 45 minute lunchtime nap was the only way I kept my health and my sanity.

        2. thenoiseinspace*

          I don’t get it either. I can’t foresee a situation where that could possibly be useful, so I’ve stayed out of it. But it could just be sour grapes – the employee’s been unhappy here for years, and actually just handed in her notice.

      3. Carrie*

        When I worked in Asia, nearly every Asian employee took a 45-minute nap under their desk at lunchtime. This is completely acceptable and common in other cultures, and I wish it were so in the U.S.

        1. Sadsack*

          I am in the U.S. and I have gone out to my car at lunchtime for a little nap, especially when I was working and going to school. I would usually park somewhere else in the parking lot though, just so there weren’t a ton of people walking past my car at lunchtime. I have seen others do the same. I think seeing this at lunchtime is acceptable to most people. A 20-minute nap is sometimes just what’s needed.

        2. Lora*

          This! I have several Japanese and Chinese colleagues who take lunchtime naps, and they think I’m nuts because I often work through lunches. In Japan it’s supposedly seen as a sign that you are working SO MUCH HARDER than everyone else that you are simply exhausted by carrying the weight of the whole company on your shoulders. (Um, OK, whatev.)

          Left to my own devices, I am a 2pm power nap person. It really helps clear your head of all the crap and helps you focus.

        3. Anonymous*

          I am glad it is not common in the US.

          This sounds neat to people who work in a very specific culture (safe and isolated offices, jobs that are not very time-sensitive, not confidential, not physically labor intensive, not particularly dangerous). It is ridiculous in many, many other situations, and frequently downright problematic.

          I worked in one job in the US where sleeping at work was accepted and, by some managers, encouraged. The facility was run by mostly Europeans, and the biggest sleepers were primarily the foreigners (Europeans and Asians at this particular job). I absolutely hated having to cover for sleeping co-workers who were supposed to be helping me out. My manager once had one of my co-workers sleep in his office. I disapprove of this under any circumstances, but I admit that I was ultra-flabbergasted by this because my co-worker was a young woman and my boss a middle-aged man. The optics of her coming out of his office in her pajamas and fuzzy slippers at 8 AM to get ready for a meeting was just so astonishingly bad; I cannot imagine what they were thinking.

          When I tell you this was a nuclear facility, will you rethink your support of sleep-on-the-job culture?

          1. KellyK*

            Like anything else, it has to be dealt with appropriately. There’s a huge difference between using a regular break for sleep and going to sleep when there are things you need to be getting done. Likewise, someone who wakes up groggy from a nap shouldn’t be napping at work if that hurts their performance rather than helps it, but that’s too individual and variable a thing to regulate. I mean, you wouldn’t ban coffee at work just because it makes *some* people too jittery and tense to perform their job function.

            Also, as far as the safety issues, is it better to be covering for people napping or to have people who are groggy on the job possibly making mistakes? I honestly feel like jobs that have dire consequences for people not being at their mental and physical best actually need *more* ways of making sure people are awake and functioning, rather than fewer.

            It sounds to me like the problem you had wasn’t so much that people were sleeping at the office and more that people weren’t available when you needed them. If they’d been standing around the water cooler talking about sports, or taking a long lunch break, or whatever, you’d have had the same issue.

            I would say that if you have a culture where people *need* to sleep at work, it’s highly possible that you need more people or some better way of managing tasks, because the job is running people ragged.

    4. Lulu*

      #1 – Several comments:

      Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair to make an employee sit all day at a desk or in boring, fruitless meetings, and then reprimand them for dozing off from time to time. It’s completely against human physiology to stay awake while barely moving for 8 hours straight.

      If I want to use my 30 minutes of break time per day to sleep, I don’t see what the problem is, as long as it’s not interfering with my work. In fact, it would make me more productive.

      Lastly, I used to dose off after lunch all the time – despite copious amounts of coffee – until I stopped eating gluten. Now I never feel sleepy after lunch. Looking back, I realize that the reason I used to fall asleep in class all the time was probably because of my diet. People should not be fired just because they can’t fight the sleep-inducing effects of lunch from time to time.

      Note – all of this assumes a desk job where a 15-minute doze would not cause a problem.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Frankly, I don’t think it’s fair to make an employee sit all day at a desk or in boring, fruitless meetings, and then reprimand them for dozing off from time to time. It’s completely against human physiology to stay awake while barely moving for 8 hours straight.

        But the vast, vast majority of people with jobs that require them to sit at a desk all day or in boring meetings do in fact manage to stay awake all day.

        1. Anna*

          Actually, I’d be willing to hazard the truth is more like people doze off at their desks frequently without being caught. The truth is we don’t have data either way to support these assumptions.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Also, most people are not literally sitting for 8 straight hours a day. Many people get up and walk to the copier, walk to the meeting, walk to the bathroom, etc. That would be my suggestion if you have a desk job – walk around a bit. Use your break time to take a stroll around the building or something.

  3. PEBCAK*

    #5: Possibly ask for a percentage? I used to have an agreement with my trainer that I’d pay him 1/3 of his rate if I cancelled on short notice.

  4. Chris80*

    #1 I agree with AAM. I’d guess that most people have worked full time while going to school. It’s pretty common, unless you happen to get a free ride in college via scholarships or your parents. It definitely isn’t an excuse for sub-par performance at work. That said, I hope things settle down for you. Going to school while working FT is not easy, but it doesn’t last forever, either!

    1. Sourire*

      Agree- and there is the larger issue of coming into work so exhausted that one is falling asleep on the job. Not only is the employee much more likely to be doing sub-par work even when not asleep, but it could be dangerous if the employee drives him or herself to work. Driving while exhausted is an impairment, just like driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol.

      If this was a one-time occurrence, disregard, but otherwise the employee in question should definitely re-evaluate his/her schedule. I say the employee and not OP because to me the question reads as though it could be second hand. Perhaps asking about a coworker’s or friend’s situation and/or that OP is in a managerial role and unsure how to proceed.

      1. Jessa*

        I think it still needs to be addressed as opposed to disregarded. Even if you don’t intend to dismiss the employee for the one time sleeping on the job, it needs to be seriously talked about. Might even need a PIP that says “if this happens again and it’s not medically related…consequences.”

        1. Ruffingit*

          Even if it is medically related, the employee needs to figure out how to handle that in a way that doesn’t involve the boss. The medical issues may require some accommodations, a shorter work schedule, etc. and the boss might be amenable to that, but I think putting in a PIP “if this happens again and it’s not medically related” is a bad idea because it doesn’t matter if it IS medically related, the employee still needs to figure out a way to handle it that isn’t falling asleep at work.

          1. Cat*

            But if the employer knows that it’s a medical issue and that the employee is receiving appropriate treatment, they might want (or even be required – I’m not sure) to give more leeway than if it’s not. Not all medical conditions are instantly fixable; it could well take a while to figure out the right combo of meds and/or lifestyle changes. It could also not be treatable except with, for instance, the employee finding a way to take sanctioned 20 minute naps in the afternoon, which is an accommodation I’ve heard of employees getting.

            1. Cathy G*

              I have an employee who has narcolepsy. He was hired before me, so I don’t know all the past details, but I was told early on that he has a physician’s note in his file and our accommodation is just to ignore it if he falls asleep and be flexible about his hours since he cannot drive due to his condition and has to rely on public transit and car pools (we have flexible hours anyway).

              He then brought it up in our first one-on-one meeting in case I hadn’t been told, and he explained that he’s on medication which controls most of his symptoms, but occasionally he will fall asleep at his desk (it’s not the kind of narcolepsy where you just collapse wherever you are, it’s more like sudden extreme tiredness). It seems to happen about once every 6 weeks, and it lasts for about 15 minutes. He’s a good worker, and not in a job where a 15 minute absence would have any overall effect, so it’s easy for us to ignore. He did feel a need to tell everyone who works near him that it’s a medical condition so they wouldn’t feel like he was a slacker sleeping at his desk.

              1. Anon for this one*

                I have narcolepsy too, and I manage it with medication on an as-needed basis — that is, because I don’t want to become addicted to the stimulant I take, I take it only when I feel an attack coming on and I’m in a situation where I simply can’t fall asleep, like a client meeting. (If I feel an attack and I’m just working at my desk, I just let it happen rather than take the meds.) My coworkers know this — I figure the more people who know it’s a medical condition and not laziness or an inability to manage my schedule, the better.

                I don’t have sympathy for OP, because the letter does make it seem like she thinks her outside schedule should excuse being asleep at work. Unlike a medical condition, this is a factor under your control, and unless the schooling is something that I as the employer asked OP to do, if I were OP’s boss, if I got this excuse I’d say, “Then you need to reduce your outside commitments so you can be focused on your job while you’re here.”

                (That being said, since I am a narcoleptic myself and I’m all about how the condition is underdiagnosed, I’d probably ask OP whether something medical might be going on if the sleeping weren’t clearly connected to a change in schedule!)

              2. Sarah*

                Yeah, my friend’s mother had an employee who was a narcoleptic at a library. So what they’re do is just if he went missing for a while in the stacks go and try to find him and wake him up. Best to be upfront about medical conditions like that, I think.

          2. fposte*

            Seconding Cat. If an employee is on chemo and doing a job where napping isn’t dangerous, for instance, I could see giving a napping accommodation.

            But there needs to be a discussion–managers aren’t psychically going to know who’s undergoing treatment.

            1. some1*

              Thirding. I have worked places where employees suffering from serious medical conditions (muscular dystrophy, kidney failure, cancer) were allowed to take a nap at work if needed.

            2. Ruffingit*

              And that’s the point I was trying to make. Accommodations are fine, but need to be talked over with the boss. I was trying to say it’s not fair to ask someone to accommodate this without a person making the effort to solve it and without letting the boss know. That’s why I said “The medical issues may require some accommodations, a shorter work schedule, etc.” But people do need to be making the effort to figure out their problems and asking for what they need, not just expecting that it’s OK to sleep on the job or whatever.

  5. Elsa Marie*

    For # 5: What protection to employees have, if any, against this kind of serious money-losing situation? If your boss tells you that you have to work on Monday (such that you either don’t book other work then or even cancel something to accomodate your boss) and then the very morning of that day boss says “hey don’t come in, never mind” that basically ruins the employee’s ability to fill their week up with work. It doesn’t sound like OP is explicitly an “on-call” person (which, in any case, usually would involve a minimum guaranteed payment for any day on-call.) This scenario as described smells bad in the ethics department, even if it’s legal.

    1. Elizabeth*

      It’s my understanding that it’s totally legal for employers to do this, so the only real recourse the employee has is to decide whether it’s worth it to keep working there.

    2. Ruffingit*

      It’s totally legal, although yes I could agree that it stinks in the ethics department. When you take on jobs where cancellations are a big possibility (such as teaching lessons of any kind like the OP or counselors/lawyers/doctors), the only protection you have is a policy requiring payment if the cancellation doesn’t come within a reasonable time period. That’s why the OP needs to negotiate with her boss about this.

    3. Brett*

      Lesson work like this should be on a contract basis, and that contract should contain protections which specify that the teacher/trainer still gets paid or gets paid a percentage if the call off is not soon enough.
      Based on the description, I think it is likely the OP does have a contract. If they do, they need to look to that contract to figure out if they have any recourse for what their boss is doing.

      1. Chinook*

        I agree that contract classes usually do have cancellation policies and would go as far as saying that the parent is probably assuming that part of that fee is going to the OP.

        If she doesn’t have it in her contract, she should think about it for her next one. I have a policy of no refunds on same day cancellations except in cases of illness (because I don’t want to catch it). I also give the client and hour free if I have to cancel the same day except in cases of illness or weather. This way, it shows that I am respecting their schedules as well.

    4. abethg*

      That’s why I like working through an agency. I don’t get paid for cancellations if I know before I’m supposed to show up, but if I do show up at a client, and it turns out that they don’t need me after all, or they only need me for a very short time, they’re still on the hook to pay me for four hours of work.

    5. JCDC*

      I’ve been in this situation a few times. I have a side gig as a math tutor (through a medium-sized company) and people do cancel at the last second, which is rather irksome when I’ve turned down other jobs that same day. No joke, I once had a family cancel via a post-it note on their door when I arrived. So I talked to the company and they now guarantee compensation if the client cancels with less than 24-hours notice. I will let this slide if they have a really good reason (say, illness), but I’ll definitely charge if I’m already on my way there. Long story short, this is a totally normal conversation to have. It also helps if you’ve been working there for awhile and they want to retain you.

      1. Ann*

        I also have this kind of situation — I do private teaching through several agencies. Different agencies have different policies regarding getting paid for last minute cancellations– from 24 hours’ notice down to 2 hours. When you get into this kind of work, it’s important to check this policy in the contract.

        Some of my coworkers have had a related problem, though. There’s a last minute cancellation, and they’re getting paid for the lesson anyway. But then there’s a last-minute booking at the same time, and they argue that they should get paid double– once for the lesson they’re teaching, and once for the cancelled lesson. I don’t agree with the double-pay argument, but I’ve had some colleagues quit over this. It all boils down to: read the policies, and try to negotiate before you start work.

  6. abankyteller*

    #1: when I was in high school I worked at a hospital. One particular employee used to come to work, punch in, then go back to sleep in one of the patient rooms on one of the closed floors. This happened on several occasions and it is actually not what got him fired. It’s nice when employers give some breaks here and there to students because education is so important, but those breaks shouldn’t allow for sleeping on the job.

    #2: I think you’re being unnecessarily nitpicky.

    #4: I hate that too!

  7. Another Emily*

    A fair amount of people I know on Facebook have two accounts (which is absolutely against Facebook policy). One account is for their personal life, and is under their real name. The other account is a dumping ground for a variety of things that they don’t want associated with their real life and name. This is stuff like Facebook games, annoying websites such as the job search one you’re experiencing, keeping in touch with people they have only met on line, etc.
    If you’re okay with breaking the letter of Facebook law (but not the social conventions) you could create a second account under a fake name and use that to log on to this and similar websites.

    1. LV*

      My MIL has two Facebook accounts. She said she created the second one because she was having unspecified “issues” with her first one, but she actually uses both of them as regular accounts. She’ll post to someone’s wall with account 1, then write follow-up comments to that post using account 2, or vice-versa. I really don’t get it.

    2. Felicia*

      I have two accounts for some of those same reasons – mostly staying in touch with people i met online

        1. mollsbot*

          Me either, so I check and double check my work. I figure it’s easier to have one account that I can maintain instead of two. If they can find the first, what’s stopping them from finding the second?

      1. Cait*

        Seems like every time I get my privacy settings where I want them, Facebook rolls out some new “improvements” and I have to start all over. I haven’t gone the second-account route yet (my solution was just to stop using Facebook), but I see why it’s a good idea for a lot of people.

        1. mollsbot*

          Yea, I go in once every other month or so and make sure nothing has been ‘improved.’ I don’t have the starting all over problem though, in my experience I’ve just had to select my preferences for those ‘improvements.’

          I’m seriously starting to loathe facebook though and would LOVE another social media option (MySpace just doesn’t do it for me). You hear me Harvard freshman? *shakes fist in air*

          1. Rana*

            I actually like the interface for Google + a lot, but most of my friends are on FB, so I’m stuck with it for now. :(

      2. Garrett*

        I have a second account that I use to play games. A lot of these games are social and require friends giving you things to advance. My real friends don’t play and I didn’t want to clutter up my timeline with random people so I created the second account and made faux-friends to play the game with. It has nothing to do with privacy in my case.

    3. Rana*

      The other thing is that it’s pretty easy to lockdown your information and keep it away from apps – which is what all those log-in sites essentially function as. Any time I use one (which I try to avoid, but sometimes you can’t) I make sure to go back into the apps manager and strip out all of its permissions so it can’t bug me or my friends.

      I have pretty restrictive privacy settings across the board, and I’ve never had a problem with one of these things – maybe I’ve been luck?

  8. LV*

    #2 – This is probably going to come across as more snarky than I intend, but I honestly cannot imagine caring so much about how a former coworker lists her post-mat leave promotion that I would write in to AAM (or anyone else) about it.

    1. De*

      I’m also wondering what else she was supposed to fill in there. The position after the maternity leave would have been just as “incorrect”, and a 4 month maternity leave really doesn’t seem like it needs to be listed separately.

    2. Lacey*

      +1. This came across like there is a much bigger issue between the OP and the former co-worker than how she represents herself on Linkedin, because really, who cares about a Linkedin profile? Methinks there is bad blood in this relationship.

    3. Amy B.*

      This is exactly what I came in to post! Why are we so consumed and obsessed with everyone’s LinkedIn accounts?! I see people stretching the truth sometimes and outright lying on occasion; but I don’t spend one minute fretting over it. It all comes out in the wash.

    4. BCW*

      Add me to this list of MYOB. She wasn’t your subordinate, and you aren’t looking to interview her for a job. So why do you care what she lists on linkedin? I can’t see how it impacts your life in any way, shape, or form.

    5. some1*

      Agree with the others. Even if the LW’s co-worker was misrepresenting/exaggerating somehow, LinkedIn is not an official resume.

    6. KarenT*


      What a silly thing to be upset about. The woman did hold that position four months, regardless of whether or not she was on leave.

      But really, why do you care?

      1. Carrie*

        Hi all, yes it’s me, OP. My question was more around mat leave in general, using my former colleague as an example. I’ve seen people actually list their mat leave cover in their resume/LinkedIn profile, and I’ve seen others not, as in the example I provided, and I was just curious to get AAM’s opinion on the polite/correct way to do this. There is definately no bad blood between my former colleague and I, and I am not nosey nor intrusive, I simply was curious about something I knew nothing about, hence writing in to Alison. So how about being a little more constructive?

        1. Katie*

          Yikes, some people list their maternity leave on their resume? Why? You’d never list being out for surgery or your two week jaunt abroad.

  9. Julie*

    Regarding #3: If your partner can’t explain to you why she would be a good fit for a particular position, she is probably not doing very well in interviews either. In addition to the suggestions AAM made in response to your letter, your partner could also download AAM’s free guide to preparing for an interview (there’s a link on just about every page of the site). It’s really helpful!

  10. Cat*

    I’ll give another scenario where napping at work doesn’t strike me as a big deal: I’m not a napper personally, but I’ve known exempt employees who work reasonably significant amounts of overtime who have, on busy days, closed their office door and taken a ten minute power nap. I’m sure it could have looked bad if someone had barged into their office, but it doesn’t bother me – it’s less time than other people might spend walking out to get coffee or taking an Internet break; their work is getting done; and they’re not air traffic controllers who need to be on every single minute of their shift.

    1. BCW*

      I was thinking of a similar example. Its like people see a 10 min nap as bad, but taking a 10 minute walk to recharge as good, when realistically either way you aren’t doing your job for that amount of time. Trust me, I know people who are not productive in many ways (reading and responding to internet blogs being one), and depending on your job, it can be just as bad or harmless as taking a nap. But I know, perception is everything.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I would agree. Most employers provide a break of 15 minutes or so (YMMV based on state), if you want to spend that break taking a quick nap, I don’t see why that’s a problem.

      Now, if your sleeping directly interferes with your ability to do your job that’s a different story. We had an employee who would fall asleep while running teleprompter. We took that person through what was essentially a PIP process that ended with them quitting the day before we were going to fire them.

    3. Erin*

      Yep. I’m an attorney and used to work in a big firm. When I was regularly putting in 80+ hr weeks, I didn’t think much of shutting my door and putting my head on my desk for 10-20 min, especially after working until 2:00 or 3:00am, or later, several nights in a row. My secretary would even guard the door for me. I don’t see the difference between that and taking the same time to go grab a coffee. That said, my time was billable and so none my nap time “belonged” to the firm. I had an hours target and it was pretty much up to me how I managed my time to meet it. So sleeping on the job wasn’t on the employer’s dime.

      1. Cat*

        Heh, I’m a lawyer too, Erin; maybe that’s the difference. Deadlines are deadlines and you sleep when you can.

    4. Anonicorn*

      Agreed. I’ve had days where I shut my door for 15 min and put my head down for a few moments of peace. I’ve never been able to nap in the middle of the day, but I don’t see anything wrong with it as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job.

    5. E.T.*

      My husband used to work at a consulting firm with global offices that employed people from different countries. Some of his coworkers came from places where taking a 30 minute nap after lunch is normal and an ingrained habit for these people. Most everyone worked in cubicles and didn’t have offices, so you actually could see the people who were taking naps. In fact, some parts of the office even turned off their lights, and coworkers made a point to not schedule in-house meetings around lunch time. I thought it was very nice that everyone at the firm was so understanding.

      Of course, the unspoken rule was that napping during normal lunch time was fine. It wasn’t okay to nap at 10:00am in the morning when the company was at the busiest.

    6. PPK*

      I work in IT in an exempt position — if someone were to shut their door and nap for 15 minutes, it wouldn’t seem like a big deal — heck, unless someone announced it or started snoring, people wouldn’t even know. Assuming they weren’t skipping meetings or dodging some important work. I have shut my door and put my head down for awhile when I’m fighting a migraine and am waiting for either the migraine meds to kick in or to throw in the towel and go home.

      If I was just dozing off at my desk at random, I hope my manager would discuss it with me instead of booting me out.

      On a side note, I recently read an article where a cup of coffee + a power nap is the best energizer. You consume the caffeine, then take a 15 minute nap. By the time you wake up, the caffeine will be hitting your system plus you got the Zzzs (or at least some rest) in the meantime.

    7. books*

      actually, my old job created a quiet room that you could get the keys to and go lie down as needed. i never used it, but appreciated that they understood.

      1. JCDC*

        Ditto! At my last job, we had events that could go super late; so we had a comfy couch in case anyone wanted to sleep, say, from 5:00 to 6:30 before the event started.

  11. 15*

    7) If her accent is hindering her career, she could take lesson from a voice coach, like the ones that work with actors or with people with speach impediment. I’m not a native English speaker and I sound perfect to me, so maybe she doesn’t know there’s a problem there.

    1. Ruffingit*

      This is a good point. Speech therapy can be very helpful with accents. My mother is a native English speaker, but is from the American south where accents are strong. When she moved to California in the 1960s, she worked for the phone company and they sent her to school to lessen her accent because it was making her hard to understand. She successfully completed the schooling and worked for the phone company for quite awhile. So it can be done if the accent is the issue.

      1. Phonetics*

        Newscasters often take lessons to reduce their accents. That’s why you never see newscasters with super thick Southern, Boston, or Midwestern accents, even in places where those accents are common. You might hear a tinge, but it’s going to be very mild.

        1. Twentymilehike*

          I also find it fascinating to watch the walking dead with Andrew Lincoln speaking like a southerner, and then hearing him in an interview with a british accent.

            1. Jen in RO*

              I saw House before I had a clue Hugh Laurie was British, and it took me a long, long time to find out.

            2. Elizabeth*

              John Barrowman.

              He actually trained his very thick Scottish burr out of his voice as a pre-teen, after being teased & bullied in school about it. He mostly speaks with a middle American accent now, unless he is talking to his parents or sister, when the burr comes back. There’s a documentary he did that was almost whiplash-inducing, because he was doing an interview with the documentarian using his acting accent, and he got Skype request from his parents, which caused him to go into the burr. My husband was outside the living room when I was watching it and only heard the change and refused to believe it was the same person, until I backed and showed him.

  12. Ruffingit*

    Should be interesting for #5 to try and negotiate for payment in the future for cancelled lessons because the boss has already told her the money wasn’t paid and the OP knows that isn’t true. I’m wondering about how she’s going to negotiate that since doing so is basically telling the boss “Look, I know you lied, I know you get paid in blocks for the lessons, so let’s talk about how I can get paid…” And yes, I realize the OP wouldn’t say it that way, just that any conversation that results in the OP getting money for cancelled lessons is going to involve the boss having to admit (if not out loud) that she does get paid when lessons are cancelled.

  13. Contessa*

    I have some sympathy for falling asleep at work, because it happened to me once during an internship. My hours were fluid, so that morning I asked my boss if I could leave early, because I was basically unconscious (long story short, I lost a 9 pages of a 10-page paper to a computer issue the night before, and had gotten less than 2 hours of sleep trying to re-write it). He said no, so I struggled valiantly to stay awake and do my job . . . but fell asleep on my keyboard anyway. He told me to go home and get some rest, so I did and it never happened again. I subsequently became super anal retentive about computer back-ups, too . . .

    If it happened every day I’d be angry if it were my employee, but I think I would cut an employee some slack the first time for almost any reason other than “out late partying, sorry.”

  14. Allison*

    I’m guilty of #1, I fell asleep on break once. I was an overnight security proctor and I’d been in the habit of taking short naps while on break, always waking up in time to get back to work of course! Then the shift where they tell us we can’t sleep on breaks – didn’t say why but I’m guessing it just looks bad to see a proctor sleeping in the lobby, or they were afraid people won’t wake up in time – I tried my darndest to stay awake but dozed off, of course not setting an alarm, and of course I woke up to see the supervisor standing over me. I only got written up, but not after the supervisor said they could always fire me if I got too sleepy to do the job. I never dozed off at that job again.

    1. Jen in RO*

      Sorry! Now we know what happens when someone replies to her own post that only she can see, because it’s in moderation :) I won’t post links in the middle of American night again, promise! Everything looks fixed now that my original comment is approved.

  15. Curious*

    1. I think surely it depends on the job, the employee, and exactly what you call ‘sleeping on the job’.

    If an otherwise reliable employee nodded off for a minute one time I think it would be ridiculous to fire them.

    If someone was regularly napping away at their desk, that’s obviously unacceptable.

    I worked a night-shift job for a few years where it wasn’t uncommon for people to nap on their breaks. Occasionally someone would end up oversleeping and be a few minutes late back. It wasn’t seen as an big issue it this happened one-off for someone, only it was repeated, or if they were very late.

    Sometimes people have a bad day or are really tired for a specific reason. There’s a difference between a one-off accident and regular behavior and also a difference between nodding off for a moment (you know the feeling where your eyes close for a second and then AH! did I just fall asleep?!) and laying your head down and going to sleep.

    1. Lulu*

      Agree on your last comment – firing someone for nodding off for 1 minute would be like firing someone for sneezing. Sometimes your body just *does* things that you can’t control.

  16. Betsy*

    #5, I have always loathed situations where the employer gets a monetary boost from situations that are directly bad for the employee. When I was working for a company that did work on time&expenses contracts, the company would get paid for every day we worked, including weekends, and we were salaried, so didn’t get anything extra. Basically, by pushing us to work 7-day weeks, they got a 40% bonus in money brought in for the week without having to pay out anything more in costs.

    It sounds like your boss is in the same place. He normally gets X dollars for a lesson and pays you Y, so he gets X-Y. If he signs up people who will cancel a lot, it is hard on you, but he gets MORE money. AWESOME. Except not.

    I will agree with what Alison said, that you should consider renegotiating your contract. Get a copy of the forms clients fill out so you can know exactly what they have to pay, then ask your boss in a non-confrontational way, “I’m trying to figure out what happens with canceled lessons. I know that via the client contract, they pay in X manner. That made me think that they are still paying the money, even if they cancel, so I had expected to be paid. Is that not true? Is there a compromise we can negotiate?”

    1. Judy*

      Seems like it is that way in daycares too. Parents have to pay $x per week, due to contract. In my state, daycare is required to have a ratio of 1:y depending on age, and groups of size 2*y (Infants 1:4, maximum 8 kids in a room, etc). If flu is sweeping through a room, some daycares will call off one of the employees in the room, if enough kids are gone (1/2) to handle with 1 rather than 2 teachers. This is even though the parents have paid for the care.

      1. Betsy*

        Which is even more horrifying than my examples, really.

        “Check it out! If we can get enough kids sick, we can avoid paying out another $100!”
        “Woohoo! Johnny’s got a fever. Quick! Start a hug circle!”

        There should never be positive financial benefit to having all of your students get sick at once.

        1. BCW*

          Yeah, but I’m fairly certain they don’t want the kids to get sick. I mean more sick kids means an increase in sick workers, which isn’t good for the bottom line.

          1. Betsy*

            In this case, though, it sounds like even with sick kids, they have more than enough healthy worker — enough that they are telling them to stay home without pay, because they don’t need them.

          2. Betsy*

            Not that I am suggesting I actually think they try to make kids sick; I was exaggerating for effect.

            But I do think that sometimes we get so caught up in the financial “yay” that we detach it from the realities of who’s paying for that “yay”. In this case, it’s sick kids, but the reality is, even if the kids were absent because they won free trips to Disneyland, it’s still the daycare saying, “We budgeted $X for staff salaries, but we can reduce those payouts by a small amount by taking away 1/5 of an employee’s anticipated weekly pay.” They don’t need to do that; the money was in the budget. And then the worker has no recourse.

            1. Judy*

              Sometimes at one particular one, I wondered. I would be called because if a child has a fever of over 100, they have to be home for 24 hours after the fever is below 100. Child is sitting nicely playing with a toy in the front office when I get there. I get child home and the fever is 99.5, before I’ve given him any tylenol or anything.

              Luckily, my kids are nearly middle school age, and we don’t have to worry about that much any more.

        2. E.T.*

          Actually, some daycares/preschools give “days off” too. For example, at my son’s daycare/preschool, they give each full-time student 5 days off every year (if you’re part time, your number of days off are adjusted accordingly). So, if my son is sick, I can request a day off for him and not get charged for that day. Just a few weeks ago, he had an upset stomach and had to be sent home in the middle of the day. We were only charged half day for him that day, which I thought was a nice thing for the school to do, especially since they still had to pay the teacher for the full day. Some parents save those days off and take their children on long vacations. The school doesn’t require you to tell them ahead of time if you do that, but most parents will notify the school so the school can make adjustments in their teacher’s on-site schedules.

        3. Kat M*

          There’s the difference between a high-quality childcare facility and a low-quality one.

          Low quality: “We’re at ratio for one teacher. Let’s send the other one home with no pay!”

          High quality: “We’re at ratio for one teacher. Time to organize the supply closet, update your students’ portfolios, and revamp the template for the parent newsletter!”

  17. Evilduck*

    AAM, when you say to “get something in writing,” how does that look? Is it a letter on official letterhead? Signed and dated by your supervisor? Signed and dated by you? An email from an organizational email address?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Any written format is fine — doesn’t need to be on letterhead and it can be an email. The idea is less about creating a legal obligation and more about creating a written record of what was agreed to in case there are questions later (someone forgets, two people remember it differently, or the manager who made the original agreement leaves and no one knows what she agreed to, etc.).

  18. COT*

    #6… I went out of the country for a week this spring while I had several job applications out. I wasn’t going to have phone access, so I changed my voicemail greeting to say, “I’m not reachable by phone from Date A to Date B, but I can be reached by email.” Then I did keep an eye on my email (which I know isn’t always possible while traveling, but this time it was). I got two interview offers during that time, neither of which I was expecting. I’m so glad that my voicemail greeting told them how to reach me. I did an interview the day after I got back and got the job.

    If checking email even once every few days isn’t an option, I would definitely put an auto-reply on. Do the same for your voicemail, too (or if you’ll have phone access but not email, include that in your auto-reply so employers can call you). Good luck and enjoy your travels!

  19. BCW*

    #4 I have never seen a system where you HAVE to have Facebook. I’ve seen them where they say to use facebook, linkedin, or create an account with them. Are you sure that facebook is the ONLY way?

      1. Garrett*

        My local newspaper requries Facebook to comment. I understand, as anonymous comments on political topics can get nasty, but to limit it to FB seems a bad idea.

        1. Rana*

          Yeah, and my experience has been that there are a fair number of people perfectly fine with being obnoxious under their real names. (Active moderation and writer involvement in the threads is the only real way to keep threads decent, in my experience.)

  20. Rich*

    OP 1) I agree with Alison about how this question is looking for some sort of justification. It should never happen, and if it does, it should be a very isolated occurrence where the discussion is brought proactively to the manager by the person falling asleep. In all honesty, the only time exceptions should be considered are for valid medical issues or if it’s a fluke on someone with an absolutely spotless record.

    OP2) How she represents herself on her LinkedIn profile is her own business, unless you are her superior (which it sounds like you aren’t). While your question is great in case anyone else finds themselves in that situation, it’s really only between the person who made the profile and the future hiring manager that reads it (if they ever do).

    OP4) I keep almost all of my social media (most of which I barely use anyway) set to private and refuse to give anyone or anything access to it… especially when it comes to job-related things; I have nothing to hide, but I also don’t want to lose a potential job opportunity because of something stupid a relative might post on my Wall. I agree that this trend is terrible, and I would definitely contact the site and inform them that you will be looking for one of their competitors because of their Facebook-only login policy.

  21. Amanda*

    I used to work at an organization that was part of a church with a religious objection to medical care. One member of the staff had what I believe now to be narcolepsy. He would fall asleep during meetings, at his desk, in the lunch room – basically anywhere/anytime he was still for more than a few minutes. He snored loudly, too. Sometimes he was out for hours. I was too far junior to ever do anything but kick his chair sometimes in meetings, but it drove me nuts.

    Incidentally, that was the same job where I once fell asleep at my desk – for just a few minutes, after a very busy and stressful morning followed by a late lunch, which crashed my blood sugar in an awful way. I woke up with a start before anyone found me and learned my lesson about snacking regularly!

  22. Anonymous*

    #2. If you need to exact revenge for some reason I would follow up on this. Yes, I know revenge is evil and should be rooted out but sometimes it is essential. Otherwise, mind your own business, seriously. Why contemplate removing food from someone’s table without some personal stake?

    1. Carrie*

      Hi, I’m the original poster. I just want to clarify that my question to AAM was more about how to include and whether it’s good ethic to include mat leave in one’s resume/LinkedIn profile. I used my former colleague as an example as her case seemed unique/unusual. So please try and see it that way vs me picking on my former colleague. This is defiiately not the case.

  23. Tiff*

    1. Siestas are great, more people should have them.
    2. Put down the haterade. It’s her profile.
    3. Is your partner reading AAM? She should be.
    4. *in my best Louisiana cajun accent* Facebook is the debbil.
    5. Singing lessons. Even if she can’t hold a tune, they will help.

    1. Carrie*

      Hi, it’s me the original poster from #2. Please refer to my response related to the comment directly above this one for more background on the actual question vs the example I gave. Thanks

  24. Daisy*

    #4 said “Except it requires you to log in with your Facebook account, which I’m sure then gives the recruiter access to your social network page.”

    That’s not exactly how this works. Using Facebook will give Jobvite access to this information, but not necessarily an individual recruiter (unless they are Jobvite?). This is what Jobvite can access when you use Facebook to log in:

    “Jobvite will receive the following info: your public profile, friend list, email address, chat status, work history, education history, current city, website and personal description.”

    It’s really annoying, and I don’t like it either. I might consider using LinkedIn, but not Facebook. They seem to be pusing Facebook, but, on Twitter, they say you only need to use your email address ( So, I’d suggest calling their support line and asking them directly how to do this. Their number is 855-315-HIRE.

  25. Greg*

    #4: There’s a very important misconception in the OP’s question that AAM and all the commenters have missed: What she’s describing is called Facebook Connect, which allows you to log in to a site using your Facebook account rather than creating a new registration specific to that site. I totally understand how that raises generalized privacy concerns. But when she says that logging in that way “gives the recruiter access to your social network page,” it sounds as if she’s concerned that it’s basically the same thing as friending the recruiter, and therefore allowing them to see all of your status updates, photos of drunken exploits, etc. That is emphatically NOT the case. Access to your profile is determined by how you adjust your own privacy settings (and if you’re job searching, you should absolutely restrict access to your friends). But using FB Connect has no impact on those settings.

  26. Greg*

    #1: I get that most employers will fire you for napping, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend that anyone do it, but it really is unfortunate that our culture views mid-day naps so negatively, considering that all evidence suggests they are beneficial to both health and productivity.

    1. hospital anon*

      I work the night shift at a hospital, and there are some hospitals that will fire a night shift worker the first time they catch them sleeping.
      For myself, if one of my co-workers need a 30 minute nap (because sometimes every salesman in a 40 mile radius decides to come to your house in one day) I am fine with it as long as I know where they are going and it is understood I will get them if I need help. We had one employee who, every time he needed to leave our department for anything, would take an hour nap. We just thought he was really slow until we caught him one night–and he was fired the very next day.

  27. Anon*

    #6-As a hiring manager who has hired 7 people in the last two months, put up an away message or if you think you’ve really got a shot with a job keep checking your email on vacation.

    I’ve had so many people just not respond and I immediately give up on them.

  28. EE*

    It is sickening me to see dozens of commenters recommend replacing one’s natural accent with a different one.

    That is not normal.

    And frankly, if somebody ‘helpfully’ suggested to me that I replace my accent with a different one I’d tell them where to get off.

    1. Callie*

      I’m a PhD candidate who grew up in the south and is going to school somewhere that is definitely not the south. My supervising professor (who is also from the south) told me that I should get rid of my southern accent, because it makes me sound unintelligent. (I am a stickler for using proper grammar, sentence structure, and so forth, especially in academic and professional situations.) I’m forty. It’s just not going to happen. Don’t tell me to take voice lessons; I’m a music major studying voice! It doesn’t make a difference. When I sing, I don’t have an accent. It’s only when I speak. My other professors vigorously disagree with her and say I don’t need to modify my accent at all. And honestly, any people that would think less of someone with a southern accent simply for their accent are people that I don’t want to work with anyway.

      1. Job seeker*

        Well, that is just plain silly for someone to expect you to change your dialect. I am from the south also and I think a southern accent can be very soft and pretty. Mine is very feminine and I am soft spoken. I do not live in the South right now, but mine will never go away. I don’t want it to either. It is a part of who I am and whenever I am around others from the south it becomes more pronounced. Whenever I open my mouth, I always get the question where are you from? They always say next I detect a Southern accent.

        1. Callie*

          My daughter’s accent is fading (she is 13) but my husband’s and my accents are still very strong. He’s in sales, and he thinks his accent helps him make sales, along with other skills, because it makes him seem more friendly and approachable.

          I’m from SC, but everyone here thinks I am from Georgia until I correct them. :P They aren’t used to hearing southern accents here.

    2. Jen in RO*

      So if you’re a native English speaker and you’re learning French, you should speak it with an American accent?

      1. Jamie*

        If that was the rule my 8th grade French teacher owes me an apology. Because apparently it doesn’t matter how well you do on the written portion, if you can’t roll your r’s properly an A isn’t going to happy no matter what you do.

        No, I’m not hyper competitive or bitter.

        1. Chinook*

          Jamie, while I think that rolling R’s doesn’t make you fluent in French (just makes you sound Quebecois, which to Parisians makes you sound like a backwoods colonial), your teacher was right about pronounciation being important. Some sounds are very difficult to learn after a certain age (rolling r’s, guttaral “ch” or the r/l difference) , but most pronounciation issues can be smoothed out with practice. The key is to be understood by those around you. If you can do this and keep your linguistic identity, then bonus.

          For the recordn speaking French with an American/Anglo Canadian accent will make French speakers cringe because a)it sounds harsher than it should and b)French cultures seem to be more pedantic about it. Of all the languages I have butchered in an attempt to communicate, French was the only one I grew up hearing from my mother and her family and the only one where I have open distain and hostility meet my attempts bcause I was attempting the wrong dialect (but I suspect that had more do do with anglo/Franco relations in Quebec than my pronunciation)

    3. Anonymous*

      I’m hard of hearing. I’d like to take voice lessons at some point because I know my hearing damage has negatively impacted my pronunciations. Some of us have speech problems that are more significant than a “natural accent”.

      I’m also from a not-very-nice part of a big city, with its own subcultures and dialects. Not all “native accents” are created equal. Some people have southern draaawls or ze french lilts; others have gang-territory fukin’ dialects man, or valley-girl, like, conversational ticks, ya know?

    4. The IT Manager*

      I think if your accent is so strong that you cannot be understood then it would probably help your professional career to speak with less of an accent in order for you to be understood.

      Case in point many clients have a hard time understanding her on the phone.

      1. Jamie*

        Exactly. I’m fascinated by accents and dialect, but if people have a hard time understanding you it’s a barrier that will hamper your career.

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