my boss’s kid punched me in the groin, how to factor overtime pay into salary history, and more

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

1. My boss’s kid punched me in the groin

I work at a university. My boss has an almost-5-year-old son, and she brings him into the office … a lot. It happens in spurts, but if you were to add it up and average it out, I’d think it would be about once a week. I work in an open bullpen, so even when he’s in her office, he’s usually making noise or listening to an iPad at a loud volume, when he’s not running around the office.

Today was extra fun, however, as I was standing and talking to her and another colleague about social stuff, and her son wandered up and punched me in the groin. My boss immediately forced him to apologize and then let him go to wander off and “explore” the rest of the office and picked back up in the conversation like nothing happened.

I also know that there are hours at work when she has a FaceTime connection between her work iPad and the one they have at home as a sort of remote babysitter. She doesn’t mute it or turn the volume down when someone comes into the office to discuss work items.

I stopped in at HR, and the university doesn’t have a specific policy about children at the office other than “use discretion,” but the HR director wasn’t at all surprised to hear that my boss had been bringing in her kid (indeed, she nailed it right on the head after I asked about the policy and asked for further info). Is there anything I should or shouldn’t be doing to either in terms of documenting what’s happening or better ways to handle what’s going on?

Your boss sounds like an inconsiderate boor — not to mention a crappy boss and probably a crappy employee — but there’s not a ton you can do here. If the HR person you spoke with sounded interested/concerned, you could follow up with them some more, but doing so risks causing tension in your relationship with your boss if it gets back to her (and it’s safest to assume that it would). One way to get cover in that type of situation is to be one of a group who’s complaining, so you could certainly encourage your coworkers to talk to HR as well, if they’re bothered by all this.

The other option, of course, is to say something to your boss directly, at least about letting the kid run around (pointing out that it’s both unsafe and disruptive), but that may or may not go well, depending on what type of person your boss is (and so far she’s not seeming too impressive). And of course, that won’t address the hours of FaceTime situation, which is something her own manager should be addressing.

Basically, your boss sucks and whatever management has let her get away with all this is pretty lame as well.

Read updates to this letter here.

2. My staff complains about having to come in on snow days

I work in a nursing home, and when it snows, all essential staff are required to come in despite the weather. Our company provides the services of the company bus picking people up at a few different central locations, as well as the option of staying over the night before the snow, in order to avoid having to drive in. While I understand that no one likes to sleep at their work place, the facility offers free meals, movie night with games and snacks to those staying, as well as a $50 bonus.

My staff in my department are considered essential. Every time snow is forecast, I meet with them and explain options, even letting them know of other staff who are driving from their area, so that they can hitch a ride if needed. They all have been made aware of the company’s policy. However, every snow day, I get teary phone calls from my staff explaining one thousand reasons why their situation is so much worse than everyone else’s (this is after they’ve refused to stay the night). I explain to them on the phone that it’s policy, they know their options, and if they don’t come in disciplinary action will be taken per the policy. They all act like I’m the devil, even though this is a standard for all essential departments. After so many snowy and icy days, it’s gotten to the point where they won’t even look me in the eye when I speak to them, or turn around when I come in to the office to talk to them about work-related items. While I know it’s not important for them to like me all the time, I feel that their respect and honest communication is key here, and it’s not happening. Am I being insensitive? I hate driving in the snow too, but still manage to get to work without complaint. Any suggestions?

I’d sit down with everyone and talk about this. Point out that it was a requirement of the job made clear when they were hired (it was, right?), they agreed to it when they took the job, and the reasons for the requirement (at a nursing home, it makes sense that you’d need staff there). Say that you know it’s difficult to do but it’s an essential part of the job, and ask for their input on whether there’s anything that would make it easier on people. From there, if it continues happening, I’d talk with people individually who keep resisting the policy, remind them that this is a job requirement, and ask them to decide if it’s something they can commit to doing or not. If they can’t, it sounds like you might need to replace them with people who can.

3. How to factor overtime pay into salary history

My current salary is around $42,000 with overtime. However, I work a substantial amount of overtime — I looked at my cumulative pay stub over the year, and I took in about $20,000 of overtime. When I go into negotiating my salary for my next job, what would be the best way to approach this discrepancy in my salary? I would love to go in at $60,000, but I’m afraid that it looks like such a huge difference on paper.

Well, ideally you wouldn’t be talking about your salary history at all, since it’s no one’s business but yours. Your want to negotiate based on the market rate for the new job, not what you’ve earned in the past. But if you’re dealing with a company that insists on knowing your current salary and you decide to play along, you can say, “I earned $62,000 last year,” which is accurate. If you want, you can add, “with some of that in overtime pay.” (But keep in mind that if the job you’re negotiating for is likely to pay less than that, you might be shooting yourself in the foot by doing that. In that case, you might be better off saying, “My salary is $42,000, plus overtime pay.”)

4. What should I wear when meeting about volunteer opportunities?

I’ve done a few unpaid internships at nonprofits, and for meeting with the people I’d be working under and for the actual internships, I always wore jeans, sneakers, and a plain long-sleeve t-shirt. (I consider them “meetings” and not “interviews” because they always ended with “Well, let us know if you decide that you’d like to intern here” instead of me competing against other people and asking when I’d hear back from them.) At the time, I thought I should be expected to be clean and neat, but that getting dressed up wasn’t necessary since I wouldn’t be getting paid and it all seemed very informal. No one ever said anything to me about it, which kind of reinforced to me that it was okay.

I haven’t been able to get a job despite the internships, so I’m starting to look at small nonprofits to contact about volunteering. I realize now that I should ask about dress codes if I agree to do any sort of work, but what should I wear while meeting with people from the nonprofits to discuss volunteering opportunities? I’d feel silly dressing up, but I’m really not sure if what I was wearing before was inappropriate or not. The only vaguely relevant post I could find on your blog was about what to wear at nonprofit interviews, which I don’t think applies. 

For volunteering, it’s fine to wear something that’s less formal than a suit, but more formal than jeans and a t-shirt — pants that aren’t jeans and a nice top, for instance. For some nonprofits (an animal shelter, for instance), you could go more casual than that — but if you’re not sure, you should err on the more formal side of things. And yes, I know it’s volunteering rather than paid work, but you want to signal that you take the opportunity seriously. These are also people who will become part of your professional network and can potentially connect you to paying work, so it’s smart to be strategic about the impression you give. (I’d say the same thing for your internship interviews, too — jeans and sneakers is too informal, even if the process wasn’t competitive and you weren’t going to be paid.)

5. My company only gives some people website portal access, which we need in order to work overtime

Where I am working, all the employees must have access to our website portal in order to do their job. Well, there are a handful of employees who do not have access, for whatever reason. There has been plenty of overtime offered lately but not to those of us who do not have portal access. Is this legal? I realize the issue for me is that without portal access to the website, I can’t do my job. However, I’m not the reason why I can’t do my job. This falls on the company and their IT department. I feel like I’m being singled out when not offered overtime, because if I did have portal access I would jump at the opportunity to work overtime. Again, is this legal? Can a company offer overtime to certain employees when others aren’t able to do their job due to the company?

Yes, this is legal. If they were basing who did and didn’t get portal access on a legally protected characteristic like race, religion, sex, etc., that would be illegal discrimination. But if it’s nothing like that — if it’s just that some people have it and some don’t — that’s not illegal. However, if you haven’t already, I’d talk with your manager and/or IT about how you’d really like the portal access so that you’re available for overtime work. That might or might not solve the problem, but it’s certainly worth a try.

{ 206 comments… read them below }

  1. Sophia*

    #1 – in my department, it’s fairly common to see faculty bring in their kids (I’m thinking of someone who has his teenage children come to the department and do homework after school). Although it differs depending on department and university, I imagine that’s a perk of working there. The bigger problem is your boss not being horrified her son did that

    #3 – Allison, from my reading it seems like the 42k includes the 20k of overtime pay, so the OP doesn’t make 62k. It’s 22 plus 20k in ot

      1. Jamie*

        That’s how I read it, once I got to the second sentence…but the first sentence does read as if it’s 22k + 20OT.

        The wording isn’t clear.

        1. Josh S*

          22k + 20k OT seems a bit difficult to swallow as well.

          22k base works out to ~$11/hr
          20k in overtime (I’m assuming time-and-a-half on OT pay) is another 1200 hours over the course of the year, which is an extra 20-25 hours each week.

          So this person is either putting in 60-65 hour weeks EVERY WEEK (not unheard of, but seems a bit much for a $11/hr position), or they’re doing 42k base + 20k OT

          42k base is ~$21/hr
          20k OT would be 635 hours OT, or 12 hours/week. Which seems more reasonable.

          1. Sophia*

            Laid out like that, that interpretation is very compelling,so I’m probably wrong and hope OP will come back to clarify!

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I’m not the OP, but I regularly worked 65+ hours every week when I was an EMT, since they didn’t want to call us back to base before our shift was over, plus our shift ended at 4pm, when it was still pretty busy and calls were usually backed up.

            1. Jamie*

              Unfortunately that kind of OT ratio isn’t unheard of in manufacturing either.

              Not in a well run company, but there are plenty of them out there that don’t have control over their schedules or labor dollars the way they should

              1. anon-2*

                When I was in computer operations, I was a full time employee — way–yyy back in the 1970s — my base pay was $12,500 but I also made another $9,000 in overtime.

  2. Nodumbunny*

    After reading #1, I skipped the rest. Is she using Facetime to literally babysit her 4 year old – as in sometimes he is home alone and she’s watching him over Facetime? That’s child endangerment – is she going to Facetime what to do if he’s choking? the house is on fire?

    1. Anonymous*

      I am thinking that the kid has a babysitter but that the parent helicopters using the iPad – i.e. the parent is basically never totally “present” at work because she is always focusing on the kid.

      1. Jamie*

        That’s what I was thinking – otherwise it’s absolutely criminal.

        But I’m picturing Angela from the Office when she had her catcam up – this boss is just watching home from work so she’s not fully present either place.

    2. Anonymous*

      That was my question too. If there’s not an adult at home with the child, or if you suspect that’s the case, I recommend making a report to Child Protective Services. Reports can be anonymous, but if you suspect the child is home alone, please please make a call. For his safety as well as your peace of mind.

    3. ano*

      I read it as she is way too attached to the kid and has to be in constant communication with him. And probably doesn’t trust the nanny/babysitter…

  3. Ann Furthermore*

    #1 I had a boss that did this once, and then one day went to a meeting and left a Price Waterhouse partner in her office to baby sit her child. He had come in to review the 10-Q before the filing. Nice.

    For the life of me I don’t get why people think this is appropriate. It’s a place of business, not your own personal babysitting service. Once in awhile, sure, things happen and everyone can be accommodating. I had a woman work for me once who was a single mom with 5 kids. A couple times, she had to bring one of her younger kids in for a little while before school because she had daycare issues. The kid was very polite and sat at an empty desk and quietly read a book until it was time for her mom to take her to school. No problem. However if she had been running around screaming or causing chaos, I would have told my employee that she could not do that again until she could keep her daughter under control.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      With terrible inclement weather issues this week, we had a couple of snow days. Our boss and our technician both had kids in the office. Our boss’s kid was noisy, played loud computer games in our office, kept asking what we were doing, repeatedly told us “I’m spying on you! Ha ha ha!” and generally made a nuisance of himself. Our technician’s kid sat quietly at a desk, did some homework, watched Netflix with headphones, read a book, coloured, played with stuffed animals at the desk. Night and day.

      The office is not a place for kids unless there are some extenuating circumstances, and even so: proper behaviour needs to be maintained. It’s not a babysitter’s. If it is, I’d expect more money.

      1. Clever Name*

        “I’m spying on you! Ha ha ha!” and generally made a nuisance of himself.

        This sounds like my 7-year-old, which is why I would never bring him to the office. If something went haywire with daycare or school, I’d put in a few hours from home.

        1. Amberz*

          Well, uh, I’m 18 and work in a factory for the summer and I like to tell people I’m spying on them or haunting them even so, but… we all have fun and I still do my work, so it’s a bit different I guess.

      2. Windchime*

        My supervisor sometimes brings two pre-teen children to work. They sit quietly and read or draw on the whiteboard. When they are here, I don’t even realize it until I walk past the office and see them.

        We had another co-worker bring a child for a couple hours. He laid on the ground under her desk and kicked the wall and hollered. That didn’t go over well for the person who worked on the other side of the cube wall.

      3. Penny*

        I agree. I understand if it’s every once in awhile but keep your kid under control-it can be done and it’s your job as a parent. Two men I’ve worked with have had to bring sons in the office occasionally and both kids were so quiet I didn’t know they were there for quite awhile! Their dads are noisier than them. And this is like a 3 or 4 yo and 6 yo. I understand a little noise ans esp if it’s a baby but your coworkers should not be disturbed enough to be continually distracted from work.

    2. BadPlanning*

      On a TV show that I’ve been watching, one of the main characters just had a baby and now brings it to the office. She even thanked the boss for letting her bring the baby to work and he was all, “No problem!” So then I imagined a rash of people thinking this is Normal and Acceptable and if your boss says you can’t bring your baby to work everyday then you have a Bad Boss.

            1. A Dispatcher*

              Exactly – the boss (Ted) will let you get away with quite a lot when he wants to get in your pants, and has been trying for years… I won’t even get into the other ways he was a horrible boss.

            2. Anonymous*

              To be fair, it sounds like the OP is watching for the first time and hasn’t seen quite HOW bad of a boss yet. If I recall, at that point in the series he just seems dopey (which he totally is) but well meaning. The extent of his…dopiness isn’t really known yet.

              1. Anonymous*

                Though I do have to say that Ted was by great measure my least favorite character on the show and probably the only storyline that didn’t work for me…excepting the brilliance of “I.F.T.” of course.

          1. Cat*

            If people are taking Breaking Bad as a guide to appropriate behavior, thinking it’s okay to bring your kid to work is the least of our problems.

      1. Toto in Kansas*

        Actually, I work for the State of Kansas and there is a policy in place where you can bring your newborn to work with you until they are 6months old. It would depend on what sort of environment you worked in but where I work we are computer programmers who sit in cubicles. A new baby is due to be in the office in a few weeks!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I know. My jaw was on the floor. This manager was quite clueless in many ways, so this was just another example of that. And the partner was not pleased either. The kicker was that she thought her children were perfect little angels, when in fact they were demon-spawn.

  4. Jamie*

    Is the web portal access available to exempt employees and not non-exempt?

    I don’t give access to non-exempt employees because we haven’t needed any to work remotely so we have no tracking system in place for hours worked. Although you mention the others are being offered OT, so I’m assuming they are getting actual OT pay for that, too?

    I realize the issue for me is that without portal access to the website, I can’t do my job. However, I’m not the reason why I can’t do my job. This falls on the company and their IT department. I feel like I’m being singled out when not offered overtime, because if I did have portal access I would jump at the opportunity to work overtime.

    Just a word of advice – when you inquire about this I would not take this tone. It absolutely reads as if you feel entitled to web access and thus the OT…and you’re not. This is very confrontational and won’t help your cause.

    1. Anonymous*

      I agree about the entitled attitude coming across.

      You also don’t mention if the type of work you do is the same, the quality of work, etc. I know that there are many many times I don’t get the opportunity to put in OT because I simply don’t do that work. If you do the same kind of work and your doing of it is as efficient as other staff then I think starting with those points would be good.

    2. ano*

      Yeah, I’d phrase it more as “I’d love to help ease others workload and do some overtime occassionally. Could I get set up on the portal?” and the “ok, I’d just love to and wondered whether it was possible” type… hopefully this will spark a “no, because….”

      If not read the boss/IT and work out if they will accept a “can I ask why its not?”

  5. Bryan*

    #1 – Did you tell HR specifically about being hit in the groin? To me that’s far more severe than just face timing (although I’m curious like Nodumbunny if your boss is actually babysitting by facetime?). I mean what if it was a coworker who did that? While everything else is terribly annoying being hit is definitely over a line.

    #2 – I agree that hopefully it was made known all along what the job entails and that they are actually essential. Maybe ask for suggestions as to what alternatives could be made, then when they discover that there are none it might help the employees realize they have to come in. I’ve found that with snow days, being extremely generous is a minimum expectation and anything else makes employees disgruntled. That being said, for essential employees it sounds like you’re doing everything you can with the food and $50.

    1. Sophia*

      I suspect that there’s a babysitter at home, but facetime is a way to keep a current eye on the home (think nanny cam in real time)

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I second Bryan here regarding #2. Sit them all down, lay out the staffing requirements and see if they have ideas that would work. Maybe they’ll actually have feasible ideas OR hopefully, they’ll come away with a better appreciation of why they have to come to work.

  6. KarenT*


    Have you ever tried asking for volunteers? If you can offer some kind of incentive, you may find that employees may not mind as much (assuming you don’t need the entire department). If you can offer a few PTO hours or something, you will find some people wanting to come in. However, if you need your whole team this of course won’t work.

    1. Bryan*

      I love this idea. I know in my office I have the closest commute and no family so it would be easier for me to come in, get the added benefits, and my coworkers would be happy as well.

        1. KellyK*

          Depends on how much and when you can use it. If you’re offering extra PTO as a bonus for covering in a tight spot, it can make people more willing to cover.

    2. JoAnna*

      One of my former workplaces had a special team specifically made up of volunteers who were willing to work during inclement weather. There were special incentives attached – extra PTO given in the event of extra hours worked, I think, plus overtime pay. In the event of bad weather, the “special forces” team was called in to cover for anyone who couldn’t come into the office, didn’t feel safe doing so, etc.

      1. NoIt So NewReader*

        This is a really great idea. What I like about it is that I think this will be an on-going problem for OP and she needs Plan B.
        Even after she has the chat with her group, there will still be a couple people that just do not get it.
        Better to plan for that, as there will always be new hires or people who have life changing events that throw a monkey wrench into Plan A. She HAS to have coverage because lives are at stake.

        As an aside OP, I am impressed with what your work place does to accommodate staff’s concerns.

  7. LizNYC*

    #2 I’d like to chime in and say that for many healthcare professions, this kind of requirement isn’t unusual. My mom’s been a nurse for 30+ years and when she’s worked for hospitals, they’ve often made announcements the day before that attendance is required the day before a snowfall/storm. And there’s no bonus. Just a bed and maybe food. Because patients don’t stop needing care just because there’s snow on the ground.

    1. AVP*

      I was just thinking that – unlike our snow day thread last week, these are mainly jobs that can’t be done remotely or left for the next day…old and/or sick people need physical care, food, etc just as much on snow days as they do any other day.

      1. De Minimis*

        That’s the nature of healthcare—my agency has hospitals in addition to clinics and I’ve often wondered how they handle inclement weather. I work for a clinic, so we can just close our doors if it gets too bad out there.

        I generally hate “local commuting area” requirements, but this might be a case where it’s justified….if someone lives far enough away to where it causes them great difficulty in reporting to work during inclement weather, that may need to be a deal-breaker.

        1. Judy*

          I remember early in my sister’s career, I was home over Christmas break from my job, and we ran a package of fresh clothes and food over to her during a winter storm, and then over her final shift went over and shoveled out her car and drove her home.

          I think she started keeping extra clothes and snacks in her locker in the hospital.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Yup, indeed. I have a friend who is married to an ER doctor who generally works nights. He was called in during the horrid ice storms in their part of the country even when everyone else was told to stay off the roads. He didn’t complain. It’s part of his job, he knew it when he took the ER job.

    3. Darcy*

      My mother has also been a director of nursing at a nursing home since I was a young child, and this is something she fights too. My dad always offers to go and pick people up and they still try to make excuses. People have to be there to take care of the residents so I don’t know why this is so hard to figure out. My brother and I spent many nights sleeping at the nursing home when we little and the weather was bad. It’s just the nature of the beast. I agree that if your staff doesn’t understand that, you need different staff.

      1. ElizabethWest*

        I agree, and the incentives (free food, the bonus, movies) are nice enough to make staying over less painful. Unless they all have legitimate issues with childcare, etc. during the storm, methinks they’re just a bunch of whiners.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Even with childcare issues though, if you know that during snowstorms, you’re going to be called in, you need to arrange for on the spot childcare for snow days because you know you will be called in so have a neighbor or someone who can come over and watch the kids. Otherwise, don’t take the job. I’m with you Elizabeth, it sounds to me like these people are a bunch of whiners. They knew what the job entailed when they took it, they’ve been reminded and they still complain. Couldn’t blame the OP for dumping the whole lot of them and hiring people who accept the terms of the job.

    4. Anonsie*

      Absolutely, this is one of the rare cases where it’s not an insane requirement.

      *However,* just because it’s reasonable and required and expected doesn’t mean things can’t happen on those days to essential employees that are real emergencies and really are keeping them home unpredictably. It doesn’t matter how easy it is for me to get to work if a pipe bursts, you know? I can’t tell if that’s what’s happening here, but I’m inclined to believe it is because of how dismissive LW is without giving any examples. It’s not a good idea to blanket anyone who calls with problems as a big whiny slacker just because some of them are.

      At my hospital there are policies in place for who/how to cover when essential staff still can’t make it in, since that this is going to happen at some point to some people.

      1. Lindsay J*

        There is certainly a chance that a real emergency could happen on a snow day. However, I do certainly doubt that multiple people are have non-weather-related emergencies every snow day. Chances are that most of them just do not want to meet the requirements for working in bad weather.

        There definitely should be policies in place to cover for essential staff, because call outs – legitimate or not – are still going to happen and patient care can’t suffer.

        Emergencies do happen, but in this case I would be asking to see the plumber’s bill before waiving any disciplinary action.

    5. AC*

      This was my question, and I appreciate everyone’s feedback. The kicker is that all of my staff are in their early 20’s. None of them have kids, and half of them still live with their parents. They were all informed of this policy when they started working at the facility.

      I can’t implement the “volunteer” system, although it’s a great idea, because as essential employees, it is the expectation of the community that they come in no matter what.

      I’m pretty sure that they are still in the mindset of being in school, when if it was snowing, you rolled back over and went back to bed.

      1. ella*

        I take back a lot of what I said then. They need to put on their big boy/girl pants and get on with things. (Or they need to spend some time working somewhere that really DOESN’T value them, so they have a basis of comparison.)

  8. ella*

    #1–What would happen if you started interacting directly with the kid? Treating him like he’s invisible reinforces the idea that he can do whatever he wants without repercussions (and, as a 5-yr-old, he’s old enough to start learning about repercussions). Asking him nicely to go back to his mom’s cubicle when he’s running around will probably startle the hell out of him even if you’re as kind as possible (I know it always startled the hell out of me when I was little). He might start avoiding you because you’re the Big Bad Adult Person.

    Now, if the boss is the “RAWR DON’T TELL MY CHILD WHAT TO DO YOU’RE NOT HIS PARENT RAWR” sort of parent, don’t do this, obviously.

    I’m also wondering if the university has day care that he could be dropped at. Bringing him into the office isn’t just bad for the office, it’s not an ideal place for him. He’s 5. He needs to be able to run around and destroy things.

    #2–All I can add is that if there’s significant downtime in the workday, I think your staff is more likely to harbor “They say this is required and we come in and there’s nothing to do” resentments. I wonder if the resentment about coming in on snow days and being deemed essential is tied to a feeling of being inessential the rest of the time, or broader feelings that the employer doesn’t place value on them having personal lives. It feels like there’s something else going on here, as people who FEEL essential don’t react with this degree of resentment and passive-aggression.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to create SOME flexibility? Maybe there’s people who live closer or don’t have families (and so don’t have kids being kept home for snowdays who would need supervision) who don’t mind being the front line of people who are always on call. If someone really can’t make it in, they have to use a day of PTO or don’t get paid. Or they have to call around to their coworkers and find a substitute themselves. If the ideal number of people on duty at any one time is 8, but you can function okay with 5, then 3 people can call in and anyone who tries to call in after that is SOL. I know your ability to institute policy change is probably really limited, but part of this is going to be listening to their concerns (and making them feel like you at least listen and understand where they’re coming from) and validating that it sucks to come in on snowy days, even if you can’t change the situation at all.

    1. Andrea*

      I thought that most universities did indeed have day care, but maybe not. I guess maybe OP would have mentioned it if the kid could be there? Not sure.

      But I agree with your statement, re: asking the kid directly. Sure, that should be a good way to handle it, as long as you’re polite and all. But it seems like a lot of parents take offense to that though—I know that I have personally asked children very nicely not to kick my seat only to be told off by the parent(s), and I know that’s not unusual. But if this boss thinks it is reasonable to bring her kid to work and force everyone to deal with his noise/groin punches, etc., then she’s probably not a reasonable parent.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Many universities do have daycare….and there’s often a 1-3 year wait to get into them. What universities do NOT have is a place where you can drop off your kid for a couple of hours up to a day on an as-needed basis when your regular childcare situation goes awry.

        What the OP’s boss needs to do is to stop letting her kid disrupt the office and get some regular (off-site) daycare and/or take personal/vacation time to care for her child. Campus environments can be notoriously lax with regard to all kinds of workplace behaviors (children, pets, questionable situations with alcohol), which means that sometimes people take advantage, and the whole department/office suffers.

        On the rare occasions where I had to have a child in my office, I did not let said child run around or pester the rest of the staff, nor did I expect my colleagues to baby-sit, or allow my child to make egregious amounts of noise. My kids aren’t always well-behaved angels, so that means that I was especially vigilant to make sure that disruptions were minimal. If my own professional efforts suffered for it, that was the price of the flexibility of having my kid in the office, and I worked to make up the deficits later.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I wonder if the resentment about coming in on snow days and being deemed essential is tied to a feeling of being inessential the rest of the time, or broader feelings that the employer doesn’t place value on them having personal lives. It feels like there’s something else going on here, as people who FEEL essential don’t react with this degree of resentment and passive-aggression.

      This is really insightful.

      1. ella*

        Thank you! I still have not metabolized my coffee so I was worried that it didn’t make any sense at all. :)

      2. Anonymous*

        This was my first thought, too; that the staff have been categorized as essential but don’t actually think they are. I work a healthcare facility in a definitely NOT essential role, and the lack of communication about our snow day policy was a major aggravation. After some complaints to management it has gotten a little better; at least they now say upfront before a snow emergency that we are not essential, and punt the decision to our direct supervisors. So then you’re at the whim of the supervisor, but at least not caught up in a default emergency policy that doesn’t apply to you.

        I think the first thing OP#2 needs to do is determine if her staff actually IS essential. If they aren’t, their resentment is justified even if their exact responses are immature. If the staff is truly essential and refusing to come in despite a generous inclement weather policy, then she has a really bad healthcare staff and probably needs to start replacing them if it’s possible.

        1. GL*

          All of that staff is essential.

          Most nursing homes are barely adequately staffed as it is due to budgeting, so employees not coming in–even “just” a couple–on a snow day puts a lot of strain on everyone else, and it’s not like you can call agencies on these days and expect to get fill-in staff.

          And when you’re understaffed and over-strained like that, the quality of care goes way down and resident safety is compromised. This is probably what the OP needs to emphasize with her staff.

          1. ella*

            I suspected something like that might be the case, and I know that staff members of residential facilities (be they mental health facilities or senior homes or the like) are often underpaid, except in, I assume, the top tier of privately run facilities (at least in the US).

            So if there’s truly no flexibility in staffing, the issue becomes a) clearly communicating expectations in advance (which it sounds like the OP has done) and b) doing all you can within the procedural and financial limits placed on you to make your employees feel valued for their presence and skills, even if you can’t pay them more or have any flexibility in scheduling. I don’t mean this to sound like I’m characterizing all residents of nursing homes or residential facilities, but there’s people who are hard to deal with (dementia, mental illness, depression and anger issues, frustration, etc), all seem fairly common in residential facilities. All that makes the job stressful. So I think there’s an extra burden on the employer to make the employees feel valued,which is possible even if you don’t have the budget for flexible scheduling or high wages or whatever.

            1. GL*

              It sounds like this employer is trying to do just that. Being paid an extra $50 to stay the night in this situation is almost unheard of, and agreeing to comp meals and try to make a game-and-movie night out of it is going above and beyond what most facilities are willing and able to do.

              This is really a problem that a lot of nursing homes have on snow days, whereas in hospitals you don’t have it so much because there’s a lot more writing up and firing going on. It’s harder to fire people from nursing homes because it’s harder to hire people.

              The employer can try to do various things to make her staff feel better about working there (something a lot of managers could do better), but it’s not that simple and it’s not that easy.

              1. ella*

                I was thinking more of what they can do the other 360 days of the year, when the weather’s fine, to make employees feel valued. I agree they’re doing all they can to make the snow days less sucky during the actual snow day, but they can also do their best to make sure the employees feel valued all the time. That makes the inevitable arrival of sucky days easier to handle.

                (I’m not saying they’re not doing this, the OP might be the best supervisor in the world who praises employees all the time and does their best to foster teamwork and camaraderie and mutual support. But if they aren’t specifically doing that, it’s worth thinking about.)

                1. Joey*

                  Well its pretty hard to make anyone feel essential if they see the company doesn’t do anything to make the job desireable enough to find stable employees.

            2. this*

              It’s an inherently disincentivizing job that’s really poorly paid, which is also supremely, unbelievably important. The last bit should be better reflected in their wages and working conditions.

              $50 extra for an overnight during a snow storm is not that much.

              First: I would increase pay, if what they currently get means limiting the amount of cheese they can buy. Even if they’re 21, even if they’re living at home, it’s an adult’s job that should sustain a single person.

              Second: if there’s *any* variety in functions across these employees, unless the different roles require a high level of specialization, I would train staff in different tasks and rotate them so no one has to spend 5 or even 2 hours straight cleaning toilets or dealing directly with Alzheimer’s patients. (No disrespect, I know and love a few personally. They’re hard to deal with, and love or professionalism can only help so much.) Let them interject this difficult work with even slightly enjoyable experiences. I don’t know if that would mean cooking (instead of cleaning), office work, what. But they should be allowed to mix it up, if you can keep communications continuous. I would also let people take as many breaks as possible.

              It’s the quality of care that determines how well or poorly your residents do, and your reputation. Also, liabilities. Worth investing in.

          2. Colette*

            Financial staff probably can miss a day due to weather. IT may be non-essential (or able to work from home) as well. Drivers for any sort of resident transportation are probably unnecessary if most places are closed. Even in an environment where most people are essential, not everyone will be.

            1. anon*

              Actually in nursing homes on snow days, every person is considered essential. If there is a dreaded call-out, typically “non-essential” staff are expected to step in. That financial person and IT can help serve residents in the dining room if a server calls out. The transportation person can try to pick employees up in the snow. There are endless ways in which people may be needed.

              1. Colette*

                If you expect people to come in when conditions are bad to do tasks that aren’t part of their normal jobs, I hope you’re very, very clear about that when hiring.

          3. Chuchundra*

            That’s certainly true. On the other hand, it’s not that staff’s fault that they’re understaffed, so that may not be all that persuasive an argument.

      3. Just a Reader*

        I worked for a small firm early in my career that treated all employees like absolute garbage. I lived close to the office (1 mile) and when the city shut down due to snow, the bosses closed the office, told everyone to stay home and ordered me to leave my car stuck in a snowbank and walk the mile in more than a foot of snow to answer the phones.

        People will definitely get mad if they’re marginalized on all snowy days of the year and then forced to slog in during bad weather.

        1. ella*

          Very true. I definitely wasn’t implying that people who live close should be assumed to be available to work, or that people without families will of course want to come in while the mom of three gets the day off. But some might be willing to make that sacrifice for their coworkers, knowing it’s easier for them to do so than other folks.

          I used to work with a team of people who were all football fans. I was happy to work extra hours on Superbowl Sunday so they could watch the game, not being a football fan myself. Would the day off have been fun? Sure, I do my own thing on Sundays (and generally didn’t work them). But the amount of goodwill I got for covering hours for my football nut coworkers more than made up for losing the day. But, again, I did it because I wanted to do it, not because management made me.

          1. Grace*

            Superbowl Sunday: my absolute favorite new car shopping day. Showrooms to yourself, cars to yourself, distracted sales people willing to give you whatever deal you offer.

            1. Editor*

              Grace — You obviously don’t live in Pennsylvania. Dealerships are closed Sundays, at least in my region. One of the newspapers I used to receive published all the auto ads Sunday — I would have thought they wanted them on Saturdays, but someone told me the ads went in Sunday so people could visit the parking lots of the dealers without having to talk to sales people. I would have thought publishing just before the weekend or on Saturday would have been better for weekend sales.

      4. AC*

        Fortunately they are seen as essential when it’s not a snow day. They are considered important and valued members of the healthcare team, and are highly respected by all people who work here. They are paid well, and asked for important feedback, etc. I really feel that there is a large amount of immaturity in the department, that grows when they talk about their frustrations to each other.

        1. AC*

          I should also add that my staff (mentioned in the OP) also make more than what their counterparts at any other nursing home in our region are paid. They all receive tuition reimbursement, 100% paid benefits, their certifications and CEU’s are totally paid by the agency, as are their professional memberships. Our department’s budget is astronomical, so we can have the best equipment possible. There are multiple appreciation lunches and event held throughout the year to honor our staff, and a special one just to honor my staff once/year. They also receive little cards thanking them for little services that they’ve done from me and my boss. When they go above and beyond, the company will give them a gift card to the movies or to Target. We work in a great place. It’s frustrating that they don’t seem to understand how lucky they are.

    3. Windchime*

      My son used to work in a nursing home and he was indeed treated with little respect. The pay was minimum wage. He absolutely understood the importance of the work of taking care of the residents, but he didn’t last long because of the low pay and the lack of respect from management.

      Until these types of jobs are respected and compensated to reflect that respect, a portion of the people who are attracted to this work will be the kind of people who can’t be bothered to try to make it in on a snow day.

      1. VintageLydia*

        These jobs are notoriously underpaid and under appreciated. The great emoyees will burn out fast and the crappy ones aren’t inspired to improve, but can’t be fired because it’s so hard to attract quality people to begin with.

        I’m with you. The issue seems to be industry wide (how many nursing homes have been forced to close because of the legitimately criminal level of care?) I’m not sure how to fix it, but I’m not surprised the OP is having problems.

    4. ano*

      If #1’s boss does react with the “don’t tell my kid what to do” then that is definately a “go to HR officially” situation. Sorry, kid is being disruptive, difficult and causing potential work hazards – If boss won’t allow that to be reigned in and reacts badly to someone trying in a nice way then you have bigger problems than just the noisy and (painful!) kid!

  9. L McD*

    #1 – This immediately reminded me of the time I was working as a volunteer at a summer camp, and one of the leader’s daughters whacked me on the head with a frisbee so hard that I got a headache. It sounds kind of silly, and the mother saw it and of course laughed it off – but she did it HARD. And very much on purpose. I was sitting on the ground since we were setting up for some game like Duck Duck Goose, and the girl just came up behind me and THWACK!!! right down on the top of my head like she was playing whack-a-mole. I tried to escalate some kind of complaint, but of course it never went anywhere.

    Anyway, I hope I’m misunderstanding the FaceTime part because that’s hugely illegal if she’s actually leaving him home alone with a “remote babysitter” (WTF?) If I’m not, pursuing that doesn’t help your work situation, really, but it’s definitely something I wouldn’t personally feel ok about ignoring. Is the whole office just turning a blind eye to this? (Presumably if you’ve noticed it, other people have too.)

    1. thenoiseinspace*

      Oh man, my mom was an art camp counselor back in the lawless 70s. When kids pulled that crap, she would always make sure they learned a lesson. One kid kept taking his clothes off and streaking though the camp, every day. She reported it to his parents and they didn’t believe her. So the next time he did it, she grabbed a jump rope and tied the kid to a tree, stark naked. All the parents drove past him like that when they came to pick up their kids at the end of the day. These days, you’d be arrested for that in a heartbeat. It’s a wonder anyone survived the 70s.

      1. A Bug!*

        You know, when I read “art camp in the 70s” I am pretty sure that the last thing I was expecting to read was a kid getting in trouble for not wearing clothes.

    2. not a stupid question*

      Eeeeesh, I hate parents like that. Their kid hits/grabs/punches you, and they laugh it off and think it’s cute. And if you get mad, they think “s/he’s just a kid, how much could it hurt?!”….I call it shitty parenting.

      1. Poe*

        I was a coach for a rec program for kids 3-5 and I was once bitten (on the neck!) by a 4 year old so hard I bled. Bled a scary amount, actually. When I told the mother, her comment was “-kid- is going through a bit of a biting phase. We are ignoring it because -psychology mumbo-jumbo-“. Told my boss, kid was removed from the program, as was her brother. Because of policy, I had to go get hepatitus and HIV tests before I could return to work. Lovely.

  10. BadPlanning*

    On #OP 5 — how is this access granted? There are several things at my job that are not auto-granted. There’s no singling out, it’s just that some things are not as important day to day so people don’t get them (or realize that they don’t have them/do need them). And then suddenly OMG! you need this or that access. And then it takes a day to grind through the process. Maybe your manager has to approve, etc.

  11. Mike C.*

    WTF is wrong with parents that think it’s ok for their children to assault other people? I get that the kid is 5, but being punched in the groin even lightly usually results in the person being doubled over in severe pain.

    If an employee did that to another employee that would be instant termination, as far as I’m concerned if you can’t keep your guests from assaulting other people (regardless of age) there should be similarly stringent punishments.

    The workplace should be a safe environment, and employees who introduce unsafe elements into the workplace should be treated accordingly, especially when there is no business reason for the particular element to be there in the first place.

    1. Andrea*

      Seems like maybe the HR director knew what was up before the OP said much about it. Maybe she had heard from others in that department already.

      1. Sunflower*

        Yes it definitely sounds like HR knows whats up. It sounds like you are not the only one this kid is disrupting and I’m sure others are thinking the same thing. it sounds like getting a group together and talking to HR wouldn’t be hard.

        Also, I don’t know how big your office is but if there was a child running around, not even in front of my face- anywhere I could hear him, I would be livid.

        My mother used to bring me to her office when she had to stop in for a quick meeting and I was told to sit on the couch and not get up until she said so. I don’t remember having a book or anything to keep me occupied. You would think with all this technology- many people have mentioned kids come in with iPads- that they kid would WANT to just sit there in silence

    2. Cat*

      I agree that the parent should have punished the kid in an age appropriate manner for that, and that the kid should not be in the office since it has been demonstrated that he’s causing a problem, but if you have an office where kids are occasionally allowed,* I don’t think you should fire the parent for a first time incident the way you might if they brought, say, their boyfriend in and he punched someone. Five-year-olds aren’t adults; they don’t have the same breadth, experience, or impulse control, and they don’t have the same understanding of the consequences of their actions. Pretending they do isn’t going to be beneficial to anyone.

      * Not uncommon in my experience.

      1. Mike C.*

        I’m not sure if the parent should be fired for a first time offense but it should be a serious and significant punishment.

        The parent is responsible for the child, they are responsible for knowing them, providing for their comfort during the time that they are there and preventing them from causing harm to others.

        I fully understand that the child doesn’t have the same mental capacity for critical thinking, emotional maturity and impulse control. That’s why it’s even more pertinent for the parent to prevent their little guest from turning into a little monster and causing harm to others. This fact makes the parent more responsible for the actions of the child, not less. Maybe a week off of work and a letter of reprimand will encourage them to prevent little so-and-so from assaulting others.

        1. Cat*

          I don’t know, I don’t have kids, so maybe I’m underestimating to the extent to which parents can control them at any given time. But what I’ve observed is that when you bring a kid into an office environment, you can’t always control what’s going to happen. It’s like the discussions we’ve had in the past about bringing dogs into offices – some do okay; some don’t; and you can’t always predict which dog is going to do okay in advance.

          If your kid doesn’t do okay, you can and should not bring them in in the future – or at least not until they’ve matured significantly. But it’s not necessarily your fault that they didn’t do okay the first time. Or, if it’s an office environment where the potential chaos caused by a kid not doing okay once is going to be a serious problem, then it should be a blanket “no kids ever” policy – the office just shouldn’t be taking that risk.

          Getting punched by a co-workers kid sucks (it has happened to me) but it’s not always a sign of bad parenting; sometimes it just . . . is.

          1. Ann O'Nemity*

            Sure, I understand that parents can’t control their kids 100% of the time. What bugs me is that after the groin hit and apology, the manager allowed the kid to wander off on their own again!

            1. ElizabethWest*

              I know; if I had done that as a kid, my mom would have made me sit down right then and not move until she could take my butt home. Then my butt would have been spanked.

              *Disclaimer: ’70s kid; I would not spank my kids now like I was spanked.

          2. Mike C.*

            If you cannot control them such that they might become and danger to themselves or others, then they shouldn’t be there in the first place. The punishment is for taking that risk, the risk happening and the harm done to others.

            Look, every employee has a right to safe working environment. The manager made that environment unsafe by bringing their kid over. Therefore, that behavior should be punished.

            1. Cat*

              I guess I’d say two things. First, we don’t even have that kind of strict liability – in a legal sense – for pets. If your dog bites someone and you had no indication that it was going to happen, you’re not considered negligent. It’s once you’re ignoring known risks that it’s a problem.

              The second, and to my mind more serious, problem is that the burden of adopting this kind of approach is going to have social justice implications. Child care in the U.S. today is (a) massively expensive – you might be talking $1,800 a month for one child in a high cost of living area – and (b) generally inequitably shouldered by women. To the extent that you’re likely to shoulder huge consequences if anything goes wrong with your kid in the workplace so that it’s virtually impossible to take your kid to work on a snow day or when your normal daycare is closed or when you’re baby sitter is sick, women and specifically women who can’t afford back-up care are going to be disproportionately affected. In the aggregate, that’s a problem and one we should be thinking about how to minimize.

              Of course, an awful lot of this is unavoidable. If you know in advance your kid can’t come to the workplace without being disruptive, you can’t bring them. Full stop, no excuses. Or if the risks of having kids in the workplace at all is particularly high – e.g., you have a lot of dangerous chemicals or you’re working with a particularly vulnerable population – you can’t bring them. Otherwise, those, I think as a society we’re better off by giving people more leeway with regards to their kids than we are with other things that might, on balance, be equally disruptive.

              1. Mike C.*

                I’m not speaking in the legal sense here, these are issues of internal company policy.

                I too care a great deal about the social justice issues and I’m glad you brought them up. While issues of childcare are serious and predominantly shouldered by women, the solution isn’t for one’s coworkers to pick up the slack.

                The guy who was kicked got to suffer from 15-20 minutes of debilitating pain, and it doesn’t matter if it was from a 5 year old, a teenager, a coworker or a dog. That employee has the right to a safe and reasonable workplace, and by letting the kid run around, the manager allowed their employee to suffer. Had the kid been told to sit down and shut up, none of this would have happened. If the manager had bothered to watch their kid, none of this would have happened.

                A week off from work for an extreme situation and a ban from this employee from bringing children to work isn’t going to set feminism back. Employees have abused perks taken away all the time for similar reasons and this is no different.

                Really, it goes back to this attitude that many parents have that says, “I have to deal with this all day every day so if you have to deal with it for a little bit too bad” or worse, “You’ll do the same thing once you have children of your own”. If I wanted to deal with children at work I’d work somewhere with children and if I wanted to deal with children at home I’d have some of my own. I don’t, so I don’t. Just because someone has children of their own doesn’t give them the right to force them on other people, especially when they are causing other people actual harm.

                1. Cat*

                  Telling a kid to sit down and shut up doesn’t solve all kid-related problems, especially with very young children. Nor does supervision solve all problems. I’m not going to argue that it’s ideal to have kids in the office (and I’m certainly not going to argue that this manager sounds like they’re doing anything right; they’re not). But no, I’m not going to agree with you that parents should be punished for anything that their children do in an office at any point.

                  You say banning a kid from work isn’t going to set feminism back – I agree with you. I’ve said over and over again that if your kid causes a problem they shouldn’t be allowed to come back. I still don’t think your kid hitting someone in and of itself is grounds for discipline or a week’s suspension.

                2. Mike C.*

                  Then what would you do? You have an employee who is angry and doubled over in pain and a manager that doesn’t think it’s a big deal. Once the first employee catches his breath, he points out that if any other employee had done that to him, they would face immediate termination.

                  What do you do? You can’t just excuse it because it’s a kid, or because the manager is a mother.

        2. A Dispatcher*

          “Maybe a week off of work and a letter of reprimand will encourage them to prevent little so-and-so from assaulting others.”

          Eh, not too sure about this. I do think it would be appropriate to ban that child from the office/revoke that parent’s privilege of bringing any children into the office and take escalating action if it still continues.

          There is only so much the office can and should do regarding how someone raises their child and punishing the parent in the way you suggest in order to change how he or she parents is outside of that realm in my opinion. That said, I am horrified by how the boss handled the incident. She should have been mortified, apologized profusely, asked if medical attention was needed and promptly removed the child from the premises (with punishment at home to follow) or something similar.

          1. Anonymous*

            But she didn’t do any of those things. And quite frankly what do you want the kid to do that’s worse? Set the building on fire?

            I’m not sure how much more this needs to escalate for this to be a serious problem…

            1. A Dispatcher*

              I’m confused by your response. I never said it was not serious, and I clearly stated I thought it was appropriate to ban the child from the office (and punish the boss if she violates that).

              It’s quite possible this woman is a horrible parent who is not actually parenting her child (the facetime thing really worries me) but these are issues for outside entities to deal with, not the parent’s employer.

              1. A Dispatcher*

                *to clarify – I mean reprimands and/or intervention for the behavior is for outside entities (law enforcement, CPS, etc). If a coworker thinks there may be child endangerment issues I have no issue with them reporting that to the proper authority.

              2. Anonymous*

                I’m confused about the part where you said if it continues. Does the child have to hit someone again to be banned?

                And yes these might be issues for an outside entity like a juvenile court system soon. But that doesn’t mean that the employer doesn’t need to provide a safe work environment (which would include not being punched).

                I’m just not sure why this parent should get a second chance (and I don’t know that this would be a second, the punching incident is serious but certainly the other behavior of being disruptive to the work in general should have been enough to have the parent told to not bring the child previously).

                1. A Dispatcher*

                  Ah, I see. I meant the child should be banned from the office and then if the boss violates that policy by trying to bring that child back it should not only be not allowed, but the boss should be punished for attempting said action.

              3. ElizabethWest*

                I’m pretty sure the FaceTime thing is like a nanny cam; she’s watching the babysitter watching her kid. But I agree; she doesn’t seem to be stepping up. That kid is going to grow up with no friends.

          2. Mike C.*

            I’m suggesting punishment for the parent for the harm caused by the guest under their control/supervision, not for their parenting or lack thereof.

            1. CEMgr*

              Right. It isn’t about parenting except obliquely…it’s about what or whom an employee brings into the workplace. If it had been an unrelated child (hence nothing to do with parenting per se), the correct response would be identical.

              1. Mike C.*

                Or conversely if you know that your kid is a little demon you keep them in your office then it’s not an issue.

    3. Bryan*

      That’s what I was thinking too, if another employee did it that would be instant termination. I don’t think it’s appropriate in this case to fire the parent but this should be clear that child should not be allowed in the office again.

  12. COT*

    #4: I used to be a volunteer coordinator at an organization where volunteers and staff dressed very casually (even those with “professional” roles might occasionally get pulled into some dirty or physical work, so jeans were the norm). I was always fine with volunteers and interns dressing casually for their interviews, but it was important to look neat (jeans without holes, no bedhead, etc.). Some volunteers really overdressed for their interviews and I never judged them for it–it showed that they were serious about making a good impression.

    If you want to use this as a professional opportunity, dress and act the part at your interview. You don’t need a suit, but if you know the organization is a casual one, maybe wear nice jeans/khakis and a sweater or something like that. A good volunteer coordinator or supervisor will let you know the dress code for the daily work once you get the role.

    1. OP#4*

      I actually went for a few interviews (for a paid position) at the type of organization I’m planning to try volunteer at, and they said their dress code for employees was “nice jeans” (new, dark colored, not baggy or skin-tight) and a nice top, so maybe I should kind of “scope out” what actual employees are wearing at an organization I want to volunteer at and wear something similar to the interview?

  13. Del*

    #1 – Did you raise the hitting issue? Because that’s really super not appropriate, and that’s the point where the manager is no longer using discretion. Having a child in the office is one thing, having a disruptive, handsy, violent child in the office is something else. And honestly, the point of WHERE the kid hit you is also a potential issue.

    If you have a decent relationship with your boss’s boss, that might be another avenue of recourse. I’d focus the most heavily on the disruption the child’s causing and the hitting, because those are the really salient points — the fact of a child being in the office is not necessarily an issue, as HR pointed out. Your boss’s lack of willingness or ability to control the child is the problem.

    #2 – How was this presented to staff during the hiring process? I really second AAM’s suggestions about talking to your team and finding out exactly what is causing them difficulty.

    For example: my friend is part of the emergency snow team for her office (she works for a city DOT). When she was hired, she was told it would mean 8-12hr shifts in the storm center during snowy weather. What she wasn’t told was that these shifts could be tacked onto a regular workday or could come on the heels of one (ie she works 8-4, and has been asked to stay till midnight with no forewarning, or been asked to go home, then come back in at midnight and work till noon). This added detail really changes the job and it’s incredibly stressful for her when the snow hits.

    If you can find the things that are giving your staff the most difficulty, then you can find ways to make it easier on them to come in. Finding avenues to provide extra perks can also be a huge help.

    5- I’m having this problem at my office right now! OT was offered to take care of some emergency duties, and I’m not able to due them due to a technical issue. What I did was looked for something I could do while other people were working on the OT issue. My boss is letting me work OT to take care of the regular work everyone else has had to set aside to work on the emergency thing that came up. He got OT approved for the whole department and I’m still contributing to the team’s performance, so it all works out.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    #2 really, really pisses me off. It’s part of of the job. The type of work I do means I often have to come to work in the middle of ice storms, holidays, weekends, whatever. I’m getting there one way or another. It’s the job I have. If I don’t want to do those things, I get a different job.

    There are plenty of people who would be happy for the work your employees are taking for granted. Alison’s advice is spot on.

    1. A Dispatcher*

      It annoyed me at first too (possibly partially because I want incentives and movie nights!). Emergency services, healthcare, etc can’t just shut down because of the weather; it’s often when we’re needed most.

      However, without knowing how well the “essential” part was explained during the initial hiring process, it is hard to be too upset at these employees. In my case, it was clearly laid out and we signed documents agreeing to the 24/7 – 365 policy. If it was not explained well, has changed since some of the employees were hired, or if it was never been explained to employees WHY they are considered essential, a frank talk about it could really help.

    2. Mike C.*

      “There are plenty of people who would be happy for the work your employees are taking for granted. ”

      The rest of your comment aside, this is a absolutely terrible attitude to have, and gives way to all sorts of abusive and unethical behavior.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        No, in this case it’s not. It’s not a blanket statement – it’s about THIS particular issue.

        It’s part of the job duties. If the employees don’t want to perform part of their job duties, then there are plenty of people who will. There’s nothing unethical or abusive about the request being asked of them – these are the duties of the job. If they’re unwilling to perform them, then it’s time to hire people who will.

        1. Ex Mrs Addams*

          Don’t like your boss making a exist or racist remarks? Only getting paid half your hours? You should just be grateful you have a job, there are plenty of people who would be happy to have what you have.

          Mike wasn’t saying that having to go in on snow days is unethical or abusive – of course it’s not. However the “if you don’t want to tolerate this, someone else will so be grateful” attitude is problematic and can lead to unethical, abusive and illegal practices going unreported.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            It was in reference to this particular situation. That’s it. It wasn’t a blanket statement of all jobs everywhere, and you guys are reading something into it that wasn’t there. It’s not an unreasonable requirement.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        I think I was needlessly harsh here, actually. I think I just got sick of whining employees this week. It is part of the job, but there are ways to make it more palatable.

        Sorry – I was grinchy.

  15. WIncredible*

    LW#1 – that is assault, you should not have to accept that and I would bring it up with your boss and their boos, or HR. Getting punched in the junk is unacceptable.

    1. Anonymous*

      I get what you are saying, but once you start using a legal term like “assault” it elevates a child’s mistake to another level entirely. Do you want an arrest warrant issued for the child? For the parent? I assume not, because that will just blow the thing out of proportion and most of the blowback will be on the OP. Keep it cool, she’s a scatterbrained parent sure, but I see them all the time at Target. Also, keep in mind, she had her child apologize, which beats Target mommies by about 10000%, at least at my Target.

      If the kid really bugs the OP, next time the darling shows up, make a lengthy Starbucks run or something. If someone calls you on the length of time, say why and be honest.

      1. Jennifer*

        I don’t think the OP can spend the hours from 2-5 when the kid is out of school and at work at Starbucks. There is only so long you can hide away from your desk before you get in trouble.

        The whole thing smacks of manager’s privilege.

  16. Marina*

    #4 – As a manager of volunteers, it does matter how volunteers dress, especially for an initial meeting. It certainly depends on the organization and on the role. If you’ve volunteering to build a house or care for animals or clean up a beach, jeans are fine. If you’re volunteering for an office role, whether it’s basic data entry on up, I would strongly suggest at least business casual. You want to demonstrate that you take this seriously–that you won’t show up late or cancel at the last minute, that you take pride in good work, that even though you’re not getting paid you consider yourself part of the business team with many of the responsibilities that come with that.

    In general volunteers do tend to “dress down” compared to employees, and that’s fine. I’d say that a week or a month into volunteering, jeans would be perfectly acceptable at many nonprofits. But internships are slightly different. An internship is for your professional benefit as well as the organization’s benefit. If you expect to use a volunteering opportunity to benefit your career, dress the part.

    1. OP#4*

      Good point (to you and Alison) on pointing out that the role matters too. While my internships required mostly working on a computer, they also required doing some work where I’d actually get dust/dirt on my clothes, so I suppose that’s another reason why jean/t-shirt seemed okay at the time.

      I’ll keep the business casual for interviews, and then possibly dressing down later, in mind for volunteering.

  17. The IT Manager*

    I have a burning curiosity for clarity on these statements: Where I am working, all the employees must have access to our website portal in order to do their job. Well, there are a handful of employees who do not have access, for whatever reason.

    How, if portal access is required for your job, are you doing your job now?

    Why don’t you have access? Is it a technical reason? Are you working from home and they can’t resolve your network access? Is anyone working on fixing this now?

    Long ago in days of dial-up, I was the in charge of an organziation’s LAN. I’m in a different area of IT now, but stupidity and bad customer makes me angry. If that or not caring about your access is what’s causing your problem with portal access you have my sympathy.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      Yes, I wondered the same thing. But I figured the problem was me, reading what was written instead of what was meant (whatever that was).

    2. ano*

      I suspect that its like my work: Some people *are* allowed remote access and some not. I asked for it and got “We’d have to offer it to everyone if we gave you that option”. So yes, they have it at their desk but overtime is remote. (Or similar thing for needing another part of the system that is ‘locked down’ / ‘special access’ for a reason.

  18. Dan*


    AAM gave you a short answer, and it’s accurate.

    Dealing with OT is also really, really hard, and nuanced. I used to be paid by the hour in a professional setting, and I know the jobs that I would leave for wouldn’t have the same pay structure. I’d regularly work 50-60 hours a week, and make bank.

    Because you have a job, you have leverage. But you also have to ask yourself what you really want out of the next job, and be realistic about it. Do you want $62k on a 40-hour work week? Do you want $48k on a 50-hour week? It all matters, and you have to decide how much your willing to trade your time for money.

    I ended up getting laid off from that job, and my current position pays 25% more than I made at my previous job (based on 40 hour week) with no OT. This company doesn’t require or expect more than a 40-hour week out of us, so it’s a fair comparison.

    Thankfully, none of my negotiations centered around pay history. I negotiated based on market worth.

  19. Anon*

    #4 I’ve worked at a non-profit and have done so for about 5 years now. Because our office deals with donations and we often have people coming through the office, people tend to dress business casual up to business formal (depending on your role.) Not including casual Fridays, the only people who regularly wear jeans are in IT.

    When we have interns and volunteers in the office, they’re easy to spot because they tend to dress more casual. However, once in a while one of them makes an effort to dress in business casual-formal and trust me, it stands out in a VERY good way.

    I think if you’re looking at some of these as internship and future employment opportunities, you should do everything you can to stand out. No one is going to fault you for dressing nicely but there are plenty of people who might readily equate jeans and a t-shirt with being sloppy/young and naive/un-ready for work/etc…

    For interviews, I’ve found a good rule of thumb is to dress how you think a manager of your position would dress.

    1. OP#4*

      I’m not thinking that the volunteering will lead to employment opportunities (and I can’t afford to keep committing to 4-6 month internships when I really need paid work), but I will keep in mind what you said about how dressing a bit better will help me “stand out” and give a better impression than “sloppy/young and naive/un-ready for work/etc…” I look very young, so I suppose I need to start dressing a little less like a young person.

  20. COT*

    #2: I’ve also worked in the kind of place that can’t just close for bad weather (homeless shelter)–at least some of the staff had to be there no matter what. We never got any kind of perks for showing up, but I also never heard anyone grumbling about having to work snow days, holidays, etc. (we even expanded our hours at these times). We did allow people to swap shifts, and even people whose jobs weren’t the “essential” ones were usually trained enough to pick up these shifts if the essential employees couldn’t make it (obviously this cross-training ability depends on the job in question).

    I think what helped us was a great sense of teamwork and strong passion for our mission. Even when covering the hours was an inconvenience, people were usually glad to pitch in because they knew how critical their work was to saving lives. So maybe that’s one additional angle to consider: what’s teamwork and morale like overall? Do your employees feel connected to the mission and appreciated for how important their work is? When they make an extra effort in other ways, is it recognized and thanked? No one wants to exert extra effort to spend a night in a place they find toxic or unpleasant. But if they feel really proud of and engaged in their work, it might ease the pain of having to work on snow days.

    1. Jamie*

      This – my husband is a cop and there is no calling in due to snow, but they understand that it may take people longer to get in so if it starts coming home during the day I know he’s not leaving until relieved by the next shift, whenever they make it in.

      And the officers who live closer will get called in to cover for those who get stuck on the way in – so for sure there are people for whom taking a snow day isn’t an option, but there is still a need to allow shift swapping, as you said, or allowances for people trying desperately to make it.

      You need people to come in, but you also need plan B.

      1. COT*

        I should mention that at this particular place, a very high proportion of our staff team lived within 5 miles of work (and we were on decent bus lines that didn’t grind to a halt in bad weather), and an unusually low number of them had young children at home to take care of. So there were some factors that made it easier for us to get to work on snow days.

        Our leadership also did their best to plan ahead for all-hands-on-deck occasions, usually erring on the side of caution and advance planning (so making a plan for coverage before we knew for sure if we’d need to enact it). So it was very , very rare that an extra shift would just be sprung on someone. It’s not like people showed up for their usual shift and then were told that they couldn’t leave for the next 24 hours.

  21. KM*

    #2 — If the OP is explaining this to the employees in the same way s/he explained it to us — this is the policy, like it or lump it; we offered you an amazing deal where you can ditch all of your other responsibilities and sleep at work on short notice so I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to do that — then I guess I can see where it might sound insensitive. Sometimes it’s not the policy itself, but the way you frame it.

    I agree that the best thing to do is have another discussion about it. Maybe start by acknowledging that this is a hardship for people, and then explain why it’s so important to have everyone there. (And, as others have said, maybe revisit whether everyone is really essential on snow days).

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      As someone who has to come to work inclement weather (and has slept on the floor in a sleeping bag more than once), I think those perks sound awesome. Granted, maybe not everyone can take advantage of them, but they’re a hell of a lot more than most places offer.

  22. Jennifer*

    #1 and #2 make an interesting juxtaposition, in that while reading #2, I was wondering how such workers handle childcare arrangements, etc. during these situations, which might not have been on my mind otherwise. It did strike me that the manager seemed particularly peeved about employees who refused to stay the night, but that may not be an option for single parents, parents whose partners work the opposite shift, etc. (pet owners?), and knowing that nursing home healthcare workers are not generally well-paid, I doubt that there is a nanny at their beck and call.

    I’m not saying that the workers would be justified in coming to work late or not at all, especially if the requirements of the job were made clear at the time of hire, or that parents should be privileged over non-parents in deciding who is required to report to work, just that there may be more to a refusal to spend the night than just preferring to sleep in their own bed. I don’t think the solution, though, would be to allow workers to bring their family to also spend the night and then hang out all day while their parents work, as we surely wouldn’t want to see any of the residents kicked in the groin by unsupervised offspring.

    1. Anonsie*

      People will say “it’s the job and you should have arrangements,” but when you have to depend on other people they can crap out on you and then you’re stuck. No way around that. If you have a sitter on reserve to watch the kids when the daycare is closed but the sitter has an emergency or flakes or whatever, what then? You’re not gonna find a new one at the last second.

      Plenty of us don’t have the luxury of having family or friends with big open schedules nearby who can swoop in at the drop of a hat, which is what people always seem to expect and get angry at you if you don’t have that resource. It really grinds my gears when people penalize you for not having a great support system, it’s freaking insult to injury.

      My hospital’s policy is that you find another employee in advance who has a winter-ready vehicle and can give you a ride. First snow day this year, a coworker’s established winter ride decided it wasn’t worth it and stayed home. My coworker lived within a few miles so she just walked here, which took a pretty long time so she was late.

      There are whiny jerks and then there’s most people, who don’t bail on their responsibilities if they can avoid it.

      1. doreen*

        Of course not everyone a great support system of family or friends who can swoop in at the last minute- but sometimes that means not taking the job.

        I’ve had two jobs that I could not have taken if I didn’t have that support system. The first was in CPS. My day was scheduled to end at 4, but if I was in the middle of conducting an investigation or finding a foster care placement, my day ended whenever it ended and working 24 hours straight wasn’t unheard of. What was I going to do- leave the kid in a potentially dangerous situation because daycare closed at 5? Another job was in law enforcement, and once I arrested someone that meant my day didn’t end until someone else accepted custody of the prisoner- maybe s/he’d claim to be sick or injured and I’d have a hours-long trip to the ER before going to the jail ,etc. In neither case was advance notice possible. Did those situations mean I needed multiple child care back-ups? Yes. Did it make it difficult or impossible to use a formal day care center that closes at 6 on the dot and would only release the child to a parent or possibly one other person ? Absolutely. But if the not-unreasonable job requirements don’t work with your child care arrangements, then you don’t take the job.

        1. Anonsie*

          You’re assuming I’m talking about this happening every time. No one’s contingency plans work 100% of the time. It’s really, really silly to say an entire line of work isn’t right for you because sometimes sht might happen that keeps you from getting there. No one’s life is that predictable.

          1. doreen*

            I’m not assuming that you’re talking about it happening every single time, but when you talk about being penalized for not having a great support system it sounds like it happened more than once in a while. Nor did I say that an entire line of work isn’t right for someone because they might sometimes not be able to get to work – I was specifically talking about jobs that don’t work with childcare arrangements whether it be arrangements that don’t allow you to get to work in a snowstorm or arrangements that don’t allow you to stay late, or arrangements that dictate which hours you can work.

    2. AC*

      This was my post. I should have clarified. All of my staff are in their early 20’s. None of them have children. All but one lives with their parents still. The one that lives on her own doesn’t have any pets.

      There are plenty of people who work in my facility who do have kids, however. They know that it’s the expectation that they come in for snow, and when snow is forecast, they make arrangements such as dropping kids off with a relative, or switching shifts with someone who doesn’t have kids.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Reading down through here- I think you have to ask them if there is something that they want to talk about. And then listen. It could be something trivial, it could be something you never thought of, it could be something they should have told you a while ago. Prepare for anything.
        The fact that they are acting pissy with you jumped out at me.
        Adults talk through their problems and behave in a professional manner. Their attitude makes me think that they see you as creating this “problem”. Reality is that this is the nature of the work. I think that if you see that attitude you could say “Would you like us to talk for a minute?” In other words, don’t let that attitude go unchecked. Say something that says “I see what you are doing. It’s not professional. Let’s talk it out.”
        I also think that they are all talking to each other and that is making matters worse. They are keeping things stirred up and keeping each other riled. This leads to a group chat about good work attitude. You may have to tell them that talking negatively about the job does nothing to help each other and makes the work day that much longer. The work is what it is and you cannot change that.

        It could be that in time you find that you have one or two people who continuously run their mouths and bring the whole group down. I am leaning toward this explanation because it seems like you and your company have covered so many other areas quite well.

  23. Sunflower*

    #1- i am not a child psychologist of any sort but I wonder if the child is acting up because of lack of attention at home. Considering this face-time/remote babysitter situation, maybe the kid is feeling neglected. Not an excuse to come in and disrupt a work place but it could explain why the kid continues to act up, especially at work, even if the mother has told him to stop in numerous occasions.

    1. Anonymous*

      Perhaps it might explain it, but that doesn’t really help the OP to form a plan of action. Unless the plan involves CPS I suppose.

      1. Anonymous*

        And just want to add how strange it is that the stuff my parents did in the sixties *would* get CPS called nowadays, and they freely admit it. (I started babysitting at 9, lifeguarding solo at 11, home alone after school at 8, etc). I turned out relatively responsible and mostly serious. Mostly.

        1. Anonymous*

          You vastly overestimate what it takes to get CPS involved in anything. In the late 90s, I went to a teacher and school councilor to report that my mother (a drunk) had been talking about killing my younger brother.

          The councilor told me that all she could do was make a note of it in her files, so that if I turned up dead soon my brother would be removed from their care. Then she called my parents. I lived in fear of being killed for the rest of the time I lived with them.

          1. Anonymous*

            I dunno, my friend took her accident-prone son to the doctor to get a possible broken nose checked and after seeing he’d had a broken arm, got lost at the mall, and had sprained his ankle. The kid: climbed a tree and fell, went skiing and crashed, wanted an NFL shirt and went to get one, etc, etc. Yes, she had to do some quick talking with CPS. I guess it just depends on where you live, and sadly but probably, race. She has her hands full with those two boys…and the husband unit too; those apples did not fall far from the tree!)

          2. Anonymous*

            At least in my state (California) there has to be actual physical evidence of abuse before CPS will let you file a report that will be followed through. So even if the kid is emotionally damaged, or if the parent is directly threatening the kid, nothing will be done other than holding a copy of the initial report for future action after an actual assault. It’s unfortunate, but I think the policy has a lot to do with how over stretched their resources are, the number of unsubstantiated claims, etc, etc.

  24. BCW*

    #2 While I understand the issue, like others have said, it really depends on how it was explained initially, as well as what their complaints are. I also think things are taken on a case by case basis I mean if the snow is crazy, but they have kids/dogs/sick relatives at home and no one can cover and their kids are out, then I kind of understand it

  25. Jamie*

    I may be off base for the million of reasons I don’t work in healthcare, but some of this may be tied to base pay the rest of the time.

    I know I always fall back on IT, but it’s what I know…IT is considered essential in many companies and it’s part of the package that we deal with emergencies when they arise no matter how inconvenient or uncomfortable. So while a true “throw a jacket on over jammies and get into work in the middle of the night” may only happen a couple of times a year, the salary should reflect the fact that this could happen and it’s part of the deal. So it’s not resented – the way ‘non-emergency, but really shouldn’t wait until office hours’ calls are part of the deal and that should be reflected in salary.

    Paying more for those who will deal with major inconvenience is like insurance – you pay them whether you need them to disrupt their 2:00 am REM sleep or not, so they’re there when you need them without complaining*.

    And I’ll be honest with you, $50 is nothing in exchange for sleeping at work, in a nursing home, and movies, etc. is totally irrelevant.

    If it happens seldom enough that you don’t want to raise base pay then that overnight pay should be significant. I don’t know what you’d have to pay me to spend the night at work watching movies with my co-workers, but as much as I like them it would be a hell of a lot more than a fifty. And I don’t even have kids or care issues at home – so that’s just my personal annoyance factor.

    Make the snow bonus big enough that you’ll have volunteers who can make it in. And don’t forget that there may be people who literally cannot get to the location of the bus, etc. because they can’t get out of their street. Not an issue where I am now, but when I lived in Mass if the snow was bad we were remote enough that we were last tier on the plow route and no vehicle could have gotten through some of those drifts pre-plowing.

    1. VintageLydia*

      Since these jobs are usually at or near minimum wage, I’m with you. “You get what you pay for” applies just as well to labor. If you pay them like you think they’re only worth the bare minimum the law allows, you really can’t expect people to put more than the bare minimum of effort, even if they’re capable and would be happy to at a larger base pay.

      1. AC*

        I’ve said this in other comments on here, but fortunately my staff are paid better than any of their counterparts in the region. They are also given great benefits (health/dental/vision paid 100%, $4,000/year tuition reimbursement, 100% of their CEU’s paid for, all professional memberships paid, etc.)

        I’ve worked for a number of nursing homes, and this is the first that has ever offered any sort of incentive for sleeping over.

        The expectation was explained to them when they started to job, in detail. None of my direct reports have kids, most live at home with their parents still, and every single one of them lives on my way to work and has been offered a ride by me that they have turned down.

        1. AC*

          Also, I am middle management and have no say over the incentives that are given. They come from way above my head. If I could raise them, I definitely would.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Hmmm these are good points, and I have to admit you’ve changed my perspective. I didn’t think about these folks as being low-paid, but that does make me feel differently.

    3. Chuchundra*

      I was going to say the exact same thing.

      I go into work in bad weather, snowstorms, etc. I told the story here the other day about getting trapped at work over the weekend during last February’s storm.

      It’s part of the job that was explained to me way back when when I was hired. I don’t love it and it makes my wife unhappy to have me out on the roads when I should be staying home, but I’m well paid, have good benefits and do work that I enjoy.

      There’s only so much you can expect from workers who make twelve bucks an hour.

    4. Editor*

      People seem to be overlooking an aspect of healthcare and nursing home care when they recommend better pay. A lot of the income at nursing homes is determined by Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement rates. A facility cannot stipulate to Medicare that it costs x+10 per day at the facility and receive that if Medicare wants to pay x in an effort to combat “waste and fraud.” At least, this is my understanding — I do realize government and insurance reimbursement is complex, but from what I know, nursing homes have less flexibility about wages than manufacturers do.

      That doesn’t mean I approve of Medicare reimbursement rates. I am willing to pay more in taxes for nursing home care, SNAP, day care for working poor, and other services. I think the salaries paid to CNAs in nursing homes are paltry in most cases, but the reason the jobs don’t pay well is that nursing home work is very labor-intensive and therefore expensive, even at places that do a mediocre job.

  26. HR lady*

    #3 – OP, you do want to be very careful about how you state your salary. The way you wrote your original post “$42,000 with overtime” clearly says that you’ve earned $42000 including your overtime. So be sure to follow AAM’s advice and say “My salary is $42,000, plus overtime pay.” The difference is between the words “with” and “plus” — but they totally change the meaning of the sentence. (And I might add “My salary is $42,000 plus I earned about $20,000 in overtime last year,” so that you’re telling them the amount, which is a large amount.)

    #5 – In my company, we have a lot of people who don’t want to work overtime (they have family commitments, for example). So we love it when we know who WANTS to do overtime. I’d keep that in mind when you talk to your boss- they might even be happy to hear that you want to work overtime, so that they can let someone else off the hook.

  27. Apollo Warbucks*

    #5 it might be that your company only has so many license to use the software so it might not be possible to give everyone access.

  28. Gene*

    The surest way to get the attention of management in #1’s case is to file a workplace injury form and head off to the clinic to get your wedding vegetables checked.

    1. HR CoolFish*

      Gene, if that’s the case than I’d have to question if the OP had any “vegetables” to begin with.

      C’mon! It’s a 5 year old kid and a one time incident. No, it should not have happened in the 1st place and it should never happen again. OP has done the right thing raising it internally. To go further beyond at this point is ridiculous. Medical treatment, CPS, assault charges? It’d beg me to question that persons professional and personal judgement.

      1. Anonsie*

        You’d actually be pretty shocked at how often getting hit in the groin by a kid is the cause of real injury to the uh… Vegetables, if that’s what we’re going with.

        1. Anonymous*

          I personally know someone who lost his wedding potatoes to his son pulling a stunt like this. The son was closer to 10, though.

          I don’t think the OP should tolerate assault from a child, but I would hope the OP would explore every available alternative before going to the police or lawyers if the attack did not result in any serious damage.

          1. Anonsie*

            Oh absolutely, I don’t think OP needs to escalate this as if it was some kind of serious assault. Just saying it’s extremely possible for someone’s tubers to get mashed by a surprisingly small child.

      2. Mike C.*

        It’s painful as all hell, it doesn’t matter if it leaves a lasting injury or not. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 5 year old or a 25 year old, it’s still incredibly painful.

      3. Gene*

        A little background is needed here, I guess. Back in 1974, I was headed home from Navy Class A school at NTC Great Lakes before heading on to NPS Mare Island when I stopped in to see my sister, her husband, and their 5-year old daughter in Kansas City. Said daughter had started karate lessons that week and ran up to “show me” (she was SO excited!)

        When I uncurled from the fetal postition, I sqeaked something like, “That’s nice, but you realy shouldn’t hit people who aren’t ready.” Several months later, the Navy doctor diagnosed a spermatocele probably caused by injury. It’s normally benign, but I have had bouts of pain since. That particular injury may or may not have been the proximate cause.

        I agree with not filing charges, any referral to CPS would be for something unrealted to the injury, but medical examination for a potential injury is always in order.

        And BTW, other than the spermatocele, my vegetables are just fine.

  29. Anonymous*

    #2: What kind of staff positions are these?

    I know there is a great deal of variation in the staffing of facilities like this. Are these, perchance, minimum wage (or nearly so) employees? If that is the case and these are folks on the very low end of the pay scale, then you have unreasonable expectations. Frankly, it is probably not worth a day’s wages (and your $50 overnight bonus) to them to come into work on a snow day. They may have other obligations they are trying to fulfill – like child care, spousal obligations, or transportation troubles – that far outweigh the compensation you are offering.

    If that’s the case, offer some higher-payed jobs if you want less complaints. If you require heroic efforts for low pay, you are going to have to learn to deal with high levels of resentment, often followed by high turnover.

    If you are paying these staff well enough to compensate for the significant life disruption, then quit holding their hands, make the expectations clear, and start changing your staff if they can’t fulfill their job duties.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      hmm you know, these are good points. I was way too harsh above. They may all be minimum wage employees stretched pretty thin.

    2. AC*

      Thank you! These are not minimum wage positions. These people are providing therapeutic services which Medicare is being billed for. There are a certain number of therapy days required, and skipping because of snow isn’t really an option. They are paid well above what others in the area are being paid, and appreciated more than most. I appreciate your advice.

  30. Cassie*

    Our university doesn’t have daycare but there is an on-site elementary school (very competitive). Some faculty members have brought in their children (elementary-school aged) when the kids are on break. One professor brought in his baby a couple of times but she mostly stayed in his office so it was no big deal unless she was crying as babies sometimes do. There was one time where he needed to meet with someone so the little girl (who was then toddler-aged) sat out in reception with me – she just sat there quietly.

    I haven’t seen any staff members bring in children though… although that’s partly because few of our staffers have children (or have teenagers).

  31. yasmara*

    #1 – I’m really confused as to why no one is advising that OP #1 go to the boss’s boss on this one. Unless the boss is the president of the university, there has to be someone above her to approach.

    I’m not one to jump the chain of command for minor issues, but OP #1 already went to HR with little/no results…bringing a child to work in a way that’s disruptive (and painful!!) and having no clue that this isn’t appropriate (not to mention it sounds like it’s not a one-time thing, but a frequent interruption) is, to me, grounds for approaching the boss’s boss.

    Now, this would have to be done very delicately, obviously, but a matter of fact conversaion about how the child’s presence is interfering (and injuring!) OP#1 seems totally appropriate to me. Also might be worth mentioning HR’s disinterest in the situation. Maybe OP#1 could approach it as an explorative “I’m wondering what our university’s policies are on children in the workplace” manner?

    Alison, is there a specific reason why you didn’t suggest this? Bad idea?

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