entry-level interviewers, my employer is holding my first paycheck for “severance,” and more

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

1. My employer is holding my first paycheck for “severance”

I just started working my first full-time job a few weeks ago and while I was being trained, I discovered something strange. My training week coincided with the pay period, and while I was being shown how to run payroll, my trainer said that the company holds on to everyone’s first weeks pay as a sort of “severance” and that he/she worked for places that hold up to two weeks.

Can my employer really hold on to my wages until I quit or am terminated? How would I go about bringing up the subject if those hours aren’t added to this pay period? I’m in Illinois.

What the hell? No, they cannot do this. And their reasoning is specious — as some sort of “severance”? Severance is paid from employer to employee, not the other way around.

And each state sets laws requiring that payment for work be provided within a certain number of days. In Illinois, you must receive your pay no later than the next scheduled payday (and those scheduled paydays cannot be less frequent than twice a month — or monthly for professional, executive, and administration positions). They cannot hold on to it, regardless of what silly reasons they come up with. You should say to your manager, “My understanding is that Illinois doesn’t permit that and in fact requires that wages be paid on the next regularly scheduled payday.”

2. Are entry-level interviewers a bad thing?

I’m looking for an every-level position. I’ve been looking for mainly data entry/clerical, but I’ve also applied to retail, issue campaigning, whoever I think may hire me, as I don’t have much experience.

Along the way, I’ve been interviewed by quite a few young people. I know not everyone looks their age, but they do appear to be in their early 20’s, and one even said she was 21 and in an entry-level position herself when giving an overview of the company. Should I take this as a red flag of a poorly-run company, even if they’re not the ones making hiring decisions? Even if it’s a small or new company? On the one hand I really need a job, but on the other I wouldn’t want to be at a poorly-run company. If I have to take the job, I would like to know beforehand so I should beware and be ready to have one foot out the door.

No, people in entry-level positions should not be doing the hiring. That said, if the job they’re hiring for is an entry-level position too, it’s not crazy to have them do an initial screen of candidates, culling the pool down for whoever will do more in-depth interviews later in the process. (But not if it’s for a more senior-level position, because good senior candidates will want to talk to someone more able to answer their questions and give them a sense of the role and culture, and are likely to be turned off by being asked to spend their time talking with someone who can’t do that, particularly at early stages when they’re still deciding whether the role is worth pursuing.)

So I’d look at whether this is just an initial screen, or the actual interview, without more to follow. If it’s the latter, yes, I’d be wary.

3. Employees are leaving their shifts early and returning the next morning to make up the work

I have just caught in to one or more employees leaving shift at close and coming back hours later to do clean-up. After close, there is an hour of slotted time for clean-up that they are scheduled for, but instead they take it upon themselves to leave at lockup and come back early morning to clean and do deposits, etc. I believe this is bad for our company. Is it not an issue of them being uninsured once their shift is over? Any advice would greatly help.

I don’t know about the insurance side of it (you’d need to talk to your insurer), but as the manager, you set the hours that employees need to be there, and what gets done when. People overruling you without even talking to you about it isn’t really okay.

That said, you should listen to their reasons for wanting to do it differently and see if you’re convinced. If you are, great — you can make an official change or give people a choice. But if you’re not, then you need to make it clear that people need to stick to the system you’ve laid out.

4. Can I be in trouble for not reporting a colleague’s wrongdoing?

I work for a large city financial firm. A desk colleague/manager was recently fired for gross misconduct. He was doing some dodgy things that made him nice bonuses, and he got caught. He has since written to the company saying that I knew what was going on. I did but wouldn’t have felt it right to whistle-blow because I have a family to feed too and didn’t want to report my manager, and it was all a grey area in that senior management also knew about it.

I haven’t done any of these dodgy things myself and they keep assuring me I am not under investigation but they do keep questioning me about the goings on. I am wondering if I can be complicit for knowing what was going on and not reporting it.

Yes. But it’s really up to your company to decide how they want to handle that. I’d love to tell you that you should believe them when they say that you’re not under investigation — and it’s possible that they’re being 100% truthful with you — but there’s not really any way to know. Still, all you can really do is to be truthful and hope for a fair outcome.

5. What can I do to turn a conditional offer into a real offer when the hiring manager isn’t getting back to me?

I got a conditional offer of a job as a mental health nurse and my references, background check check and occupational health was all handed to the HR lady, who said that everything checked out okay.

I have now been waiting over 3 weeks for a start date. I phoned my manager 2 weeks ago to find out what was happening and he said there was a procedural problem, but that was the only information. I have called him 3 times since and each time his receptionist has said he will call me back, but have received no call. I sent a very polite email asking for information with no reply.

So I called the HR lady, who said that the manager has to make a choice of whether to accept my references or not but she can’t understand why he is hesitating. She then spent a week trying to contact him and get me a start date, with no success.

What should I do now? Is 3 weeks an okay amount of time to wait? Should I call him again or HR again? I haven’t contacted anyone for 5 days now.

I don’t think there is much more you can do at this point. I wouldn’t continue to contact the manager because you’ve reached out to him multiple times without a response; continuing to contact him risks being annoying. He knows you want to speak with him. For whatever reason, he’s choosing not to get back to you.

At this point, I would proceed as if you don’t have a job offer, and continue actively searching for other jobs. If this one eventually comes through, then great … but you’re getting signals that it’s not a sure thing and so all you can really do is to proceed as if it’s not happening — until/unless it does.

{ 90 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    #1: Are you sure they didn’t just mean that the first week or two will go on the next pay check because you weren’t in the system in time for this one? That’s the only non-crazy explanation I can think of.

    1. doreen*

      Yes, I think what was meant was the OP will be paid on 12/6 for the pay period that ended 11/29 or 11/22. I’ve never had a job that paid on 12/6 for work up to 12/6- there’s always been a one pay period lag. It’s never been only the first paycheck-it’s always a two week lag. You do get paid on the next payday after the pay period ends so that seems to satisfy Illinois law. You will have a paycheck coming to you when you resign- I guess the trainer thinks of that as severance.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is exactly what I was thinking, too. It sounds to me like she got a weak (ok, “poor”) explanation for something that is fairly normal practice. I would expect a week’s pay to be held back by one week.

    2. KayDay*

      That’s exactly what I was thinking, too. In all my hourly jobs, there was a week-long “lag” in when I got paid. So I got paid for the hours worked between Nov 1 and Nov 7 on Nov 14. This also means that if I quit effective Nov. 31, my final paycheck would come on Dec. 7. It’s not severance, just my regular pay, but I can see how it would be possible for someone to grossly mis-interpret that.

      However, this has never been an issue at full-time salaried jobs (since my paycheck/hours were the same every week). The one time I began a couple of days before pay day and it was too late to enroll me in the payroll system, I was paid for the extra 2 days the next payday.

    3. Lindsay J*

      This is the best explanation I can think of. I hope for the OP’s sake that this is it because otherwise I’m pretty sure that a company that holds paychecks for severance has some other issues going on, too.

    4. Bea W*

      That’s what I am wondering, but the way the trainer phrased it as “severance” is bizarre. It’s normal when starting a job that your first paycheck is delayed, and this has to do with the way the payroll schedule works. It is not held intentionally. Your trainer is either clueless or your employer is doing something weird with first check or both of those things.

      OP – What normally happens is this. I’ll use a 2 week pay period as an example.

      The pay schedule is broken up into pay periods, for example Jan 1-14 and Jan 15-29. Then there is a schedule of paydays, the days when employees get paid. It is common the schedule matches up to be the week after the end of each pay period. So in this example, the payday for the time worked from Jan 1-14 will be Fri Jan 20. The payday for time worked from Jan 15-29 will be Fri Feb 3.

      At the end the Jan 1-14 pay period, employees submit a timesheet documenting the time they worked from Jan 1-14 (sun-sat). This information is then processed by payroll who issues the check for these hours on the next payday, Jan 20. You have to think of it in terms of being paid for the time you worked a few weeks prior, not the time you worked the week you receive your paycheck.

      This is how the delays works in real life. You start a new job on Mon Jan 16. Although the next payday is that Fri Jan 20, you do not get a check, because the checks being paid on Jan 20 are for work done from Jan 1-14.

      At the end of the next pay period Jan 15-29, you can now submit a timesheet for the hours you worked since you started on Jan 16. The next payday is Feb 2. The Feb 2 paycheck is for time worked from Jan 15-29, so you then receive a paycheck, because you had started working on Jan 16. So you end up in this scenario being on the job 3 weeks before you receive your first paycheck.

      For anyone who is switching jobs, it’s important to account for the lag time in your budget!

  2. PEBCAK*

    #2) If the entry-level employee is one of several interviewers, they serve two very useful purposes to the company: 1) They “sell” the company as a great place for young people to work, and 2) They sometimes see behaviors or get answers candidates would never give in front of someone more senior*.

    So, if you are on the candidate side, you should 1) Take advantage of the opportunity to ask questions of someone who is in a role similar to the one for which you are interviewing and 2) treat them with the exact same respect and formality that you do the other interviewers.

    *For example, I used to take internship candidates to lunch after they interviewed with the engineering managers. I was instructed to casually ask what their plans were after graduation. Many would tell me about plans for grad school, after telling the managers that they really were excited about the company and would be thrilled if the internship led to full-time employment. Is this a little sneaky? I suppose, but it was good info for the hiring managers.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Sure, you could call it sneaky. But you could also call someone gushing about an internship turning into a full-time job when they’re planning to attend grad school instead sneaky too.

      It would be a huge bummer if one of these people were hired, then left, instead of someone who really did want the job, and who would have been a good fit, got passed over.

      1. PEBCAK*

        Right, I agree, and therefore didn’t feel bad doing it. At the same time, I did try to be really honest about the downsides of the job when they asked me questions…again, we’d rather end up with a good fit who then comes on full-time, then someone who hates the internship and doesn’t want to come back.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          This reminds me of something that happened to my husband a few years ago. A guy working for him blew out his knee while doing drunken karate kicks at a block party, or something equally ludicrous. He required reconstructive surgery and a very long recuperation where he could not put any weight on his leg at all.

          My husband runs a very small business with one other guy. Everyone is on their feet all day long, running machines. This guy had been a good employee for a few years, and they knew that if they cut him loose, he would have probably ended up losing his house, in addition to running up all kinds of medical bills, and probably would have had to file bankruptcy. So they kept him on the payroll and the insurance plan for quite a few months even though he was unable to work at all. For a business as small as theirs, this was a HUGE outlay of cash.

          So then the guy finally got the OK to start working again part-time, which he did for a couple weeks. And then he quit. My husband was just livid, and said that was the last time he’d ever go out on a limb for anyone, as far as his business was concerned.

          And what really sucks is that there are plenty of people who would have been so appreciative of such generosity, and never would have forgotten that, and would have been a true-blue employee from that moment forward. So while I understand him not willing to get burned like that again, it’s really unfortunate that he wasted his goodwill on such an a-hole. But that’s how he is — he’ll do anything in the world for someone, until they do him wrong, and then after that he is done.

          1. IronMaiden*

            How do you know that his goodwill was wasted on an a-hole? Sure it was good of him to go out on a limb for the injured worker, but the injured worker might just have given it his best shot, only to find it was physically beyond him. We don’t know everybody’s story so tempering judgement with compassion is good for all of us

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              He said he’d found a better job and was moving. And never once said thank you to my husband and his business partner for keeping him on the payroll and insurance plan while he was unable to work.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Your husband did the right thing. Sadly, we cannot control others reactions to what we do and sometimes we get burned.
                Having been burned (not as badly as your husband, though) a few times myself I understand his upset.
                But I also see something else. Call it karma, call it the universe, whatever. What we send out comes back to us. Tricky part: The people we think should pay us back usually don’t. It ends up coming back to us by way of a third party that knows nothing of the previous story.
                Just to add a layer of confusion, sometimes it takes years for this to play out. And this is why it takes strength to do the right thing. The rewards are not always immediate. Your husband and his biz partner made a gutsy move. They did the right thing. In time, it will come back to them many times over.

                1. Ann Furthermore*

                  Oh yes, I’m a big believer in karma. I’m sure it will even things up with that guy eventually, if it hasn’t already.

                  On a few rare and indescribably awesome occasions I’ve actually seen karma catch up to people who really had it coming. But usually you just need to have faith that it will happen at some point.

              2. BCW*

                I think your husband was great to do this for him. However, at the same time, do you expect him to not do whats in his best interest? I mean if he is offered a much higher paying job that was better for his blown out knee, its not realistic to expect him to stay out of loyalty. It being a small business is a bit different, but what you are describing is why so many people have issues when their employers guilt them about leaving.

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Sure, that happens. But then the guy should profusely thank the owner, explain his situation, and apologize for not being able to stay. It sounds like he didn’t do any of that and was simply cavalier about it. I suspect that would have significantly changed how it all felt.

                2. Jamie*

                  This is one of those situations where you need to express that you’re completely mortified and you know what it looks like and you cannot apologize enough.

                3. Cat*

                  Yeah I think this is less a story about the guy being a jerk and more a story about the problems of a society where health care is obtained through employers.

                4. Ann Furthermore*

                  Yes, Alison hit it on the head. It was like the guy didn’t realize how far out on a limb my husband’s business had gone by continuing to pay him, and pay for his insurance as well.

                  The “better” job was one similar to the one he had with my hubby — lots of standing all day long and so on. So it wasn’t like he’d tried to start working again and then realized he couldn’t do it. And the fact that he gave it only 2 weeks made them suspect that he’d been job searching, while getting paychecks and insurance benefits for doing nothing, which was even more galling.

                5. BCW*

                  I guess this speaks to a bigger question then. Do employees ever “owe” it to their employer to stay at a job longer than they may want to? Again, I’m not necessarily defending how the guy handled it, and like I said, I think your husband was great. But I don’t think employees really owe their company anything in the long run, except the professional courtesy of 2 weeks notice. But thats just me. Do others think there is a time when they owe their employers more?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Meh, I did the same thing when I was about to enter grad school–but I stressed that I went to school at night, and had worked full-time during the day all through it. If it’s the other way around, and the schooling will be the full-time gig, then yes, it’s a bit disingenuous.

      1. Anon*

        I was thinking something along the same lines. I have going to grad school as, maybe, a long-term goal, but intend to work full-time for at least a few years beforehand before setting up a time line to go back to school, if I do decide to go back.

        It’s difficult to communicate this in interviews, because the moment they hear, “grad school” they assume I’m going to flake out and completely ignore the rest of what I’m saying: that I have no intention of going – or even looking into going – anytime in the next 5 years.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you’re not going back until that far in the future, I don’t see any need to mention it at this point. I probably wouldn’t–a lot can happen in five years.

    3. Lisa*

      Sometimes the youngest person in the dept is the most valuable employee. Regardless of chronological years, that young person could be the manager and in charge of hiring that position. There are plenty of young people that are responsible enough that companies trust them to interview and even decide hiring especially with entry-level work, but even with being part of mid-senior level jobs too. And specific to retail its not uncommon to have a 21 yr old that has been there since they were 16 and be the longest term employee through high school and college.

      I was 23 and running an entire office on my own and managing/giving tasks to 25 people including the owner’s 65 yr old wife and she commented that I ran the place better than her husband. It only took 6 months for me to be the go-to person on everything, with all questions being directed with ‘ask lisa’.

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: Could it be that the trainer actually meant that payroll is run/processed in arrears? That’s pretty common at big companies. So if payday is Friday, you’re getting paid for the two weeks worked through the previous Friday. Otherwise, that’s just bizarre.

    #3: My first thought was regarding the deposits. If it’s actual cash, and not checks or credit card receipts, it’s incredibly reckless and irresponsible to leave cash on the premises overnight. There should be a process where someone (presumably someone trustworthy) prepares the deposit, puts it in the deposit bag, and drops it into the night deposit at the bank each day. If it’s a sizable company, this kind of sloppiness has audit red flags all over the place.

    1. Noah*

      Every retail job I worked left sizeable amounts of cash on site at the close of each day. The cash was placed in a safe for the night. The next day it was either picked up by brinks or taken to the bank.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        True…it could be that the cash is put into a safe, which wouldn’t be a risk. From the way the letter was written though, it read to me like people are just leaving without closing out their cash drawers, so the cash just sits there unsecured all night.

        Totally possible that I misinterpreted though…and it’s also possible that the deposits aren’t actual cash, but checks and/or credit card receipts.

        Although even a check could be considered a risk…years ago I worked at a company where someone in the Treasury department was fired for trying to take a check made out to our employer, and endorsing it to herself. Then she went to the bank and tried to cash it. They of course knew there was something fishy going on and called the company. I actually felt sorry for her in a way, because the check was only for $2000. She must have been pretty desperate to do something like that.

        1. Pseudo Annie Nym*

          Did you mean that the check was only for $20 or $200? I’ve worked in several places (retail/restaurants) where $2000 would be most of a day’s take for a shift. It’s definitely not an inconsequential amount for most people! In fact, that’s more than I make in a month.

          1. en pointe*

            It’s a lot of money to me too but I understand where Ann’s coming from. As a sum, $2000 probably isn’t going to be a significant longterm fix to any precarious financial situation.

            Thus, risking your job / livelihood / reputation over it (especially with such a high chance of getting caught) probably is a sign of desperation.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Yup, this exactly. If I got $2000 as a year end bonus, or if I found it on the street, I’d be thrilled. But it’s not enough money to risk your job (or even freedom) over.

              I will admit that I once confirmed a wire transfer for $35 million, and idly wondered how hard it would be to change my name to Cargill Petroleum. :-)

              I don’t think the company pressed charges, they just fired her. So at least her foolish decision didn’t completely harpoon her entire life.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                She’s really lucky that’s all they did. 0_0

                The biggest check I ever handled was around $100,000. I made a joke to my boss about going shopping in Europe, but lucky for me, she knew I was just kidding!

                1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                  We had an employee that would deposit large checks we received in-person, just cause the bank was on his way home and they would clear faster (we typically deposit all checks by mail).

                  So the tellers got used to seeing him as the guy depositing ONLY checks of $50k, $100k, $500k, whatever, but never anything smaller. I’m sure it looked weird!

                2. Pseudo Annie Nym*

                  Yeah, I kind of got what you were saying just after I posted that–I’ve just had a rough enough two years of trying to find meaningful employment where $2k could mean life at home or life on the streets and (especially considering how I’ve been treated at work lately), $2k would seem like a huge sum that would help a ton. Since I work on under-paid, minimal contracts, it wouldn’t seem like much to risk my “job” for that amount of money. But that goes to show how much your perspective can be skewed when you’re out of work/underemployed!

        2. Bea W*

          It seems wiser to just reconcile the receipts before leaving for the night. If you turn up short when you count the next morning you can’t be so sure something didn’t go awry overnight. Secondly, if something did happen overnight, someone broke in and stole everything, you won’t have the documentation of what you put in the safe before closing up.

          That’s really the big advantage to handling all the cashing out activities immediately after close and before leaving for the night. Of course, the person planning on cleaning up in the morning could also get sick or get delayed coming to work, which leaves someone else with a pretty unpleasant surprise the next morning.

          I would be seriously uncomfortable with leaving uncounted cash, checks, and receipts sitting overnight. When I worked in retail it would be much too late to make any deposits and the take for the day would be placed in a safe, but it was always placed there after reconciling the receipts and documenting all the cash, checks, and credit card slips received that day. It was never just left in the safe unaccounted for.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            This. I’ve never worked a fast food or retail job where you could leave cash or checks uncounted or your till not counted down. If it happened more than one time, or even one time for anything less than a major excuse (I was bleeding out, so I didn’t count down or mop last night), that person would super have gotten fired.

  4. Eric*

    #1, it sounds like they just lag payroll there. For example, on November 30th, I get paid for the pay period that runs from Nov 1-Nov15. If I were to quit at the end of the year (Dec 31), I would continue to receive paychecks through the middle of January. I think that is all that is going on here, and whoever was training you was very confused on terminology.

    1. Chinook*

      I agree that your employer explained the lag poorly but I would also recommend getting clarification (like AAM explained) in case they really do see it as severance.

  5. V*

    OP #1 – I think your trainer just explained a very common practice poorly. The company isn’t holding onto your first paycheck until after you leave. What they are doing is paying you 2 weeks after the end of the pay period. So you get paid for hours worked between January 1st and January 15th on February 1st, hours worked between January 15th and February 1st on February 15th, and so on.

    This does mean that if your last day is August 14th, you get your final paycheck on September 1st, covering the hours worked between August 1st and August 14th.

    Is this completely legal? I have no clue. But it is extremely common with large companies, and in the worst case can mean that you’re working for a month before you get your first paycheck.

    1. tcookson*

      At the places I’ve worked where they’ve done this, they call it a “one- or two-week hold-back”, such as the case may be.

  6. Noah*

    1) Like others have mentioned, I wonder if this company just runs a week behind on payroll. My current company doesn’t do this, but others I’ve worked for have. It gives several days for payroll to be processed before checks/direct deposits are sent. At the company I work for now, the pay period ends on Sunday and payroll has been processed by Monday night. Makes for a hectic Monday for that department. I’ve often wondered why they don’t change it to give themselves more time to catch errors.

  7. Melanie*

    #3 – So many people work jobs these days that are super un-flexible that it hurts their personal lives. If its not affecting the business or profit margins, why not chat with employees and see if having this sort of flexibility is improving morale? Set some guidelines to individual people’s schedules and make it official if its bothering you, but don’t discontinue it because it doesn’t ‘feel right’. AAM hit it right on by asking you to listen to the employees.

  8. littlemoose*

    OP #1, as several commenters have pointed out, perhaps it’s just an ordinary payroll lag. You should probably ask for clarification. But if they actually are trying to withhold a week’s pay as “severance,” like some kind of insurance when you leave, then that is all kinds of shady. It’s not like you’re leasing an apartment – you don’t put down a deposit on your job. I would be very cautious about continuing to work there, and while I know you might not have other options at the moment, it may be worth keeping an ear to the ground for other opportunities, because a company who does business like that is probably not one you want to work for. Good luck, and I hope it is just a misunderstanding!

    1. Jamie*

      That makes sense to me, but I can’t wrap my head around why they’d use the word severance. If it’s not being held until employee separates from the company i don’t even know how that word would come up.

        1. Windchime*

          That’s kind of what I’m thinking…the person doing the explaining either used the word “severance” incorrectly, or really thinks that this is why the payroll runs a week (or two) out.

          I’ve never worked at a place where I was paid without some kind of a built-in lag, usually of about a week. But it’s never been as severence; just time to allow the payroll department to do what they do and to cut the checks.

          1. Liane*

            I’ve never worked a job where there wasn’t a lag of 1-2 weeks between the end of the pay period and when that check was issued. In fact, I’ve never heard of a regular job where this wasn’t the case. My dad, who owned his own small business when I was a child, MAY have paid his employees the same week, but it could have been only through Thursday with Friday & any weekend work going on the following week’s check. (This was in the days of not only handwritten business checks but handwritten Time Books, by the way)

            1. Allie*

              I’m paid the same week, and if I work Saturday I’m paid before I perform the work. Handwritten cheques, too.

            2. teclatwig*

              I had never heard of it either, but my husband’s employer was bought by another company and we had the fun experience of being transitioned from a same-week paycheck to a week-in-arrears paycheck. (Hint:not fun, especially when said company is shifting us from 24 checks/month to 26!)

      1. Natalie Anne Lanoville*

        I think the reason why they call it ‘severance’ is because it would come in a week or two after the person left the job, as if it were ‘severance pay’, instead of just a delayed cheque for work completed.

        If so it’s sneaky.

  9. Jen in RO*

    #2 – I think it’s pretty normal (and actually a good idea) for the team members to do the initial screening, if possible. In my previous company a coworker and I did this at first, and then once a team lead was promoted (mid-20s, but looked younger) she took over. We knew *much* more about the job itself than our manager, who was in a different country and pretty out of touch with the day-to-day stuff, so we were the best people to describe the job and determine if the candidates would be a best fit for the work and for the team. This process also served as a time-saving device for the manager, who was very busy – he only got to see the people who really had a chance. The decision was ultimately up to him, but with input from the screeners.

    1. Felicia*

      I am currently interviewing for entry level roles, and I would like it if another entry level person person was one of the interviewers , but not the only one. Mostly because I want an accurate picture of what the job is really like and someone doing a similar job i would feel would give me the best picture of what to expect, especially when i ask them about the day to day tasks.

      That being said, my previous manager was 33, but when anyone first meets her, they think she looks like more than 23. And my 20 year old sister is a manager because she works retail, and she’s been working at the same company for 4 years. So depends on the specifics!

      I think entry level people interviewing for internships also makes some sense – or at least doing up to the initial screen and narrowing it down to like 5.

    2. en pointe*

      Yeah, my company does it a bit like this except I usually come in later in the process and it’s more for the candidates benefit than ours.

      With second round interviews for my position (of which there are several of us) my boss has previously interviewed the candidates and then passed them off to me for a little while, before sitting back down with them to finish the interview. I introduced them to some of the staff members they’d be working with, gave them a sort of ‘day in the life’ of my position and they had the chance any questions about the role or culture. (They had the opportunity to ask my boss also but she is generally thought to be pretty intimidating and these candidates were around my own age – late teens to early 20’s.)

  10. Apollo Warbucks*

    #4 Hopefully the guy will look as if he is just trying to deflect blame from themselves by trying to say your knew about it, his behaviour was totally wrong.

    But turning a blind eye to the problem doesn’t sit well with me, only because I work for an accountancy practice which is heavily regulated and my professional body sets out an obligation to report unethical behaviour and would strike me off for ignoring that obligation also depending on the type of behaviour I could be committing a criminal offence by turning a blind eye and end up with a massive fine or up to 5 years in prison. When the Enron scandal broke it collapsed their accountants Arthur Andersen as well, because they were shown have such a lack of integrity not only do you have to be honest you have to be seen to be honest. Depending on the type of firm you work for and how they are regulated they might not look kindly on you not blowing the whistle.

    If you’re a member of a professional body see if they have any advice and see what information you can find within the company (like the employee handbook) make sure you understand what the firm expected of you when you found out what was going on, and then find a very compelling reason this didn’t happen, such as the office culture did make it easy, you didn’t know who to speak to or depending on hoe much you knew and when you found out that you were still thinking over your options or didn’t want to speak to soon an accuse someone with out knowing for sure what was going on.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      This. Our company has an ethics organization. You definitely would be reprimanded if you knew about something and didn’t report it. That expectation is there, BTW, even if you fear retaliation.

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      Agreed. In Finance you have a fiduciary duty to report mis-management of funds. If you knew what was going on and didn’t report it, you are just as responsible, if not more so, than the person doing the act.

  11. Kate*

    I don’t think being interviewed by entry level employees is a red flag. I’ve interviewed and had more junior people sit in on interviews. It is a great way to get a different perspective. In college they had students do lunches with interviewees for a professor position. Obviously we didn’t make the choice but we filled out surveys on each on and they were read by the hiring committee. The incoming professor learned about the dept. from a different view (no TAs was shocking to one). I also view it in the same way you get input from the receptionist on first impressions of a candidate. Were they a jerk to a junior employee? Sat for 45 min on their cell in the lobby? Good luck.

  12. Not So NewReader*

    ” not only do you have to be honest you have to be seen to be honest”

    OP, prepare for worst case scenario. Financial scrutiny is tighter than it has ever been. The one thing that you said that jumped at me was:
    “it was all a grey area in that senior management also knew about it.”

    If you say this, then of course, it becomes part of the record. If you don’t say this then you are not protecting yourself. Either way, you could be facing a rocky road.

    You are the one in the situation, so you will figure out the best answer for yourself. But my question is “Is this a company that you actually want to be working for?” How is their rep in the financial industry? How much of this gray area stuff goes on? When upper management spots a gray area do they establish policies that help front line employees navigate that situation and STAY LEGAL?

    If it were me, I would serious consider getting my own private attorney. Do you have any mentors in your life that would help you figure out if this is necessary?

    This question started out as appearing straightforward to me. But as I read along and think about it, I am getting more concerned for the OP. Please let us know how it goes for you.

    1. fposte*

      Agreed. Similarly, the firm’s problem is not only do they have to fix the dishonesty, they have to be seen to be fixing the dishonesty. And if by “city” you mean “City of London,” the level of current media attention on such firms is enough that I’m aware of it 6000 miles away.

      I don’t know the financial sector culture there so I don’t know if they’re really outliers or not (my thought is that they’re pretty slow responders if it took them this long to crack down on this in light of the recent scrutiny, at least). However, I would certainly agree with looking into your own representation and I’d also agree with looking around for other possibilities–not just because this is a firm you may not be comfortable in, but also because they might be facing a storm you don’t personally need to weather.

      1. MissM*

        I work in the financial industry, and every organization I’ve ever worked for has a “code of ethics” for employees, and one part of the code is that we are to report any ethical violations that we witness. It is clearly spelled out that people can be fired if they witness a violation of the code of ethics and do not report. If the violation was an ethical “grey area” as OP said, then it should still be reported and let the higher-ups determine what the appropriate response is.

  13. Not So NewReader*

    OP#3. I have never seen a company that did this. Every place that I have ever worked you clean up before you go home.
    As an employee, I would want to get the cash counted and verify it is all there. I was told if I leave the cash not counted over night and it comes up short- there is no way to prove that I did not take it. Where as if I count it before I leave, then I am aware of the shortage and can begin to look for it. If I do not find it, I can report the shortage myself, which allows me the opportunity to keep my integrity intact.

    I was also told that the clean up at night was to reduce and discourage employee theft of merchandise/supplies.

    However, all that to one side. If it is company policy to clean up at night and these employees are not doing that then that stands alone as problem.

    I am curious. If they do this every day that they work, who cleans up the mess on their days off? Perhaps the business is only open five days and they work all five days. So this makes it a non-issue. But I have had coworkers leave big messes for me and it made it super hard to get to my own tasks for the day.

    1. Lindsay J*

      Yeah, my first thought was that this sounds like an LP nightmare. I would not be okay with cash being left undeposited overnight.

      Plus, if it were me I would worry about the owners or the district manager or whatever coming and making a late night/early morning stop to the store and seeing the mess.

  14. Anonymous*

    #4 you’re in big trouble!! Seeing someone else doing dodgy things and not reporting it is just as bad as doing it yourself.

    1. Jamie*

      I agree with this generally, but she said upper management already knew about it. So i can see why she’d think it would be pointless to report it to people who already know.

      If it’s an actual law being violated, there are outside agencies, but we don’t know what was dodgy? Was it illegal or violation of company policy.

    2. The Clerk*

      No, actually, it isn’t. It’s not good, but it’s on a whole other level than the actual thing that was done. Especially in a case where someone higher up knew also and made it clear nothing would be done.

  15. Anonymous*

    #1 I hope they just explained it badly. If they’re actually holding your first weeks pay in case they fire you a year from now, that is super shady.

  16. Donnatella Moss*

    #2 – I’m a step above entry level and have started participating in interviews – mostly to see if the person would be a fit for the position, our culture, and the team. I’m sure some of the people I’ve met with think I’m barely out of college (despite my title) because I know sometimes people think I’m 19-20, not late 20s.

  17. Ruffingit*

    #4: What your company now knows about you is that when you are aware of wrong doing, you will say nothing. You’ve essentially destroyed any trust they may have had in you because of that. You will allow other people to do shoddy things, thereby losing the company money (possibly a lot of money). Why on earth would they continue to employ you? If I were you, I’d take this hard lesson and find another job ASAP because I can only imagine the behind the scenes conversations going on about you with the powers that be.

  18. Ruffingit*

    #5: Move on. To make a dating analogy, if a guy promised to call and set something up with you and he didn’t, would you call several times within a month span trying to get a hold of him? I hope not. Take the hint and move on. You’ve done what you can here, the hiring manager has all your information, knows you want the job, and is not getting back to you. That’s his right, regardless of how shitty it is to treat you that way. Move on.

    1. Nyxalinth*

      There’s actually people who would, yes. They take the ‘No news is good news’ approach rather than ‘If that person gave a damn, they’d ask you out again.’ approach. Same with jobs, though instead of losing a shot at someone you like you’re losing a shot to, you know, support yourself, pay bills, eat, etc. so people go a bit further with it than they might a date. A job you’re maybe going to start can look more like a bird in the hand than it really is.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I get that, but at the same time you risk alienating the hiring person with a lot of contact when they have said they will call you back. And, you’re wasting mental energy and your time not moving on to other opportunities. Same could be said for dating. Take the hint and move on.

  19. BCW*

    #2 As many people said, I don’t think its that big of a deal. In some of my early jobs, I sat in on some of the interviews. These other entry level people are the one’s you’ll be working with on a daily basis, much more so than a manager. Having your peers give input is a very valid part of the interview. I agree that they shouldn’t have the final say, but having them do a screen or even be in on the final interview seems fine.

    #3 I could see this going either way. I mean assuming the money and things are safely locked up, what does it matter? I mean if they are willing to come in earlier than their shift to clean up because for them that works better than staying late, then I don’t really see a problem. Is it really affecting business in any way, or is it just that its not your preference? When I worked retail years ago, usually the people who closed were different than the ones who opened, so it was a matter of respect to the co workers to have the place clean when they got there. But if they are the same people, and its working fine, then I say let it be.

    1. Windchime*

      I’ve worked several retail jobs, and it was always practice to have the store tidied up before going home for the night. In a clothing store, this meant clothes all neatly hung/folded, floor swept or vacuumed, trash emptied, deposit prepared, etc. In the grocery store, same thing–floor swept, shelves faced, tills counted. I can’t imagine leaving it a mess and then coming in early the next day; any of the managers I had would never have gone for that.

    2. EngineerGirl*

      It’s not OK. They were given working hours and they weren’t performing within them. At a minimum, they should have approached the manager to get the working hours changed and they didn’t. Also, doing the work in the morning takes away any margin if something went really wrong.

      The issue is that they changed their working hours without talking to the manager first.

      1. BCW*

        I suppose, but I’d be lying if I said I never did that. Now, I don’t work retail. But my general hours are 8-4, however if I need to I will come in an hour or so later or earlier, and won’t always discuss it with my manager first. I am salaried, so I know its different than an hourly job. I’m just saying that if the work is getting done, then some managers are less rigid.

    3. some1*

      Cleaning is not as urgent. But it’s just not a good idea to put off counting your drawer until the next morning. If you come up short or over, it’s much easier to investigate immediately to find out the reason, and it becomes more difficult the more hours that pass.

  20. Amber*

    #1: Yeah, maybe they’re just holding your pay check until they can get you put into the pay roll system, or whatever? When I started at my new job, I started on September 24th and didn’t get paid until October 10th. (You get paid on Thursdays, and the manager didn’t have time to enter our information into the payroll system before the 26th, so I didn’t get paid on the 3rd. Payroll is weekly.)

  21. Julia*

    To number 3: I work in retail, and we always leave the store in good condition to open the next day…retail is a business where you have to react to things, so having one thing, ( the condition of the store, the deposit, etc. ) all taken care of means one less thing to worry about the next day. Plus it’s being considerate to your co workers.

  22. EngineerGirl*

    #2 – I can see lower tier interviewers for entry level positions. I’m usually brought in to fix messed up projects. That’s not something a junior person would work on. So if I were interviewing I’d be incredibly turned off by a junior person interviewing me IF they were the only person. As AAM stated, the junior people can’t possibly know the answers to the questions I’d ask, because they simply don’t have the experience (They don’t know what they don’t know).
    This may be offensive to some people, because we’d like to think “we’re all equal”. That’s true for respect, work ethic, etc. But it isn’t true for experience and problem solving. The junior engineers don’t have the experience to know the depth and types of trouble projects can get into (they don’t have the battle scars yet). And because if that, they can’t answer my questions to assess the project.
    But for junior positions? Sure. As long as there is senior oversight.

  23. Bea W*

    #2 – It’s weird to have someone entry level interviewing, but in some jobs it is normal to go through a process where you will be interviewed by potential co-workers who may work in the same job on the same level. Often these are people you would be working with on the same team. They are not the ones making the final decision, but they do normally give some input to the hiring manager.

    I think it’s a little weird to be interviewed by another entry level person. In my experience, that has been left to the more experienced or senior level employees doing the same job, but it really depends on if those people will be your co-workers if you get the job and who is available to sit on an interview at that time. If the entry level person is someone who would be working closely with you, they are probably there to help gauge your fit with the team and whether you would work well with this person.

    For you, this is actually an advantage where you have the opportunity to get the perspective of someone who is in the role you are interested in. That person can best tell you what it will be like to work there, because you would be in their shoes as an entry level employee.

  24. Nyxalinth*

    #5 just plain sucks. I’m sorry that it looks like reference checks might have cost you a job.

    That happened to me (or similar) two years ago. I had my former supervisor from the Ballet down as a reference, and when the people I’d just interviewed with called him, he had to tell them that their new manager was insisting that all reference checks go through him (supervisor had told me it was okay to list he himself as a reference). So for two weeks, they tried to get this guy to call them back, with no dice. So of course I didn’t get the job. New Manager called me a week after that to apologize, but while it was a nice gesture, it didn’t get me a job. I’ve since started letting people know “Ballet Manager is often busy and can be hard to reach, however, he insists that all reference checks go through him instead of our direct supervisor.”

    1. Yuu*

      Yea – that was my thought. Maybe its time he reevaluate his references and make sure that they are giving him glowing reviews.

  25. ew0054*


    I shifted my “flex hour” schedule to 4:30 am to 1:00 pm. I am getting A LOT of flak for it, but now I can do consulting on the side, which pays more in a few hours than a day at my full-time job. My full-time job is salary so if want me there they either can state an official policy or pay me overtime.


    If the employee is taking gold bars out of the company safe and you report it, guess who is labeled the company rat….


    Sounds like this manager is a cowardly type who doesn’t want to say no and is hoping you will go away. Call him out on it, or contact the higher-ups about it. You have nothing to lose at this point. You’re not getting that job anyway.

    1. Nyxalinth*

      #5 can be tempting, and yeah maybe he is the non-confrontational sort, but I still wouldn’t call him on it. You never know who he knows… and OP could be shooting themselves in the foot for other opportunities.

  26. Lily in NYC*

    #2 – We often have junior staff do inital interviews with entry-level candidates. 1. We are not going to waste big boss’ time for an entry level interview -he doesn’t even meet junior staff until they start working. 2. It’s really about fit and we want to make sure you will get along with the junior staff with whom you will be working before you meet with the higher level supervisors and hiring manager. 3. One of our best interviewers is 24 years old and I guarantee you would leave with your head spinning after trying to answer one of her case questions.

  27. Kylie*

    I just started work at a new job on Dec 2. Paydays are the 1st and 15th.. I will get my first paycheck on Dec 30 and it will have pay for 2 weeks…not 4 weeks. I’m being told the hold back is for PTO because it’s accrued and they will “front” you up to 2 weeks of PTO. I don’t think they’re “fronting” me anything! I’m basically paying myself for 2 weeks of time off.

    Not happy about this! :(

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