employer offered me a job but said I offended half the team, my boss is overruling HR, and more

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

1. Employer offered me a job, but said I rubbed half the team the wrong way

I was recently told by email that I would be receiving a verbal offer, followed by a written offer. During the verbal offer call, the hiring manager volunteered interview feedback both critical and positive. The critical feedback was that half (!) the team who interviewed me were rubbed the wrong way by my “edge.” I thanked her for her candor and she said, “We can work on that one.” I expressed concern about whether this feedback would handicap me before I’ve even started to work for them.

I’m a bit perplexed about how to proceed. This information gives me some serious pause — regarding leadership style and office culture, namely. My expectation would be that this would be an opportune time to “white lie” to the candidate and express the team’s (albeit, democratically) enthusiasm for extending a job offer. I don’t know how this feedback benefits my work performance before I have even accepted an offer.

Yeah, that should give you serious pause, because it’s a sign that this place might not be a comfortable fit for you. And remember, the goal isn’t just to get a job offer; it’s to end up working somewhere where you’ll excel and be happy. I’m curious about how aligned you felt with their culture before that phone call; did these feel like your people, or were you already getting the sense that it might not be a perfect match?

In any case, as for what to do now … I wouldn’t take the job without getting a much better understanding of what the concern is and what “we can work on that one” means.

(Also, be grateful for employers who don’t indulge in “white lies” in the hiring stage; you want to know what you might be getting into. It’s the ones who sugarcoat who cause the real problems.)

2. Can an employer impose restrictions on when vacation days become available to employees?

If a salaried, non-exempt employee is granted 20 total vacation days per year, are there restrictions that an employer may impose as far as when and how many days are available throughout the year? We have a situation where the salaried employee has been on maternity leave since December, has depleted her 2013 vacation days, and now wants to use some of her 2014 allotment. My fear is paying vacation days before the employee has even reported back to work in 2014. It would seem logical that she is allotted the 20 vacation days spread incrementally over the year so as to not deplete in too short of a period (if she quits, the employer has paid vacation for the whole year!).

Yes, you can impose any restrictions you want. Typically companies don’t front-load all the year’s vacation days in January; rather, employees accrue them at a steady rate through the year. For instance, with 20 annual days, people might accrue 6 hours of leave with each paycheck (assuming you’re paid every two weeks). And typically people don’t accrue any PTO when they’re on unpaid leave.

3. My boss doesn’t want me including his telecommuting in an attendance report

I have a question and I think my dislike of this job in general is clouding my judgment. My office is a remote branch of a national company, and there’s one branch manager who’s my direct boss (I’m an admin). When I first started, I was told by HR to send them an attendance report with a record of everyone’s absences for the branch (including the manager). But he gets upset whenever I put that he’s out of office working from home. He only wants me to record when he’s actually out of town. I checked with HR, and they clarified the working from home format, but he still gets annoyed. I realize it doesn’t affect pay, but I’m uncomfortable recording something I see as inaccurate. He also implied that if I mark working from home, it means he didn’t actually work. (But seriously, I’m not sending value judgments of his week or writing that he was unproductive, just that he’s in the office or not). He comes in to the office significantly less than 40 hours so this is bound to come up soon. So, am I being a stickler? What should I do?

I agree with your boss that there’s no reason an attendance report needs to indicate when someone is working from home. Telecommuting is working, just as much as working in the office.

But are you saying that your HR department has specifically asked you to record when someone is working from home, including your manager? That’s bizarre and I can’t imagine why they need to know that. But in that case, you might send a clarifying message to HR saying something like, “Bob told me not to use the working-from-home category. I don’t feel comfortable overriding his instructions to me, but if it’s an issue on your end, it might make sense to work it out with him directly.”

4. Can I decline a job opportunity but recommend a friend?

I am a marketing major in the college of business at my school, and I have a friend who lives out of town who has been trying to get a job at a local bank so that she can move here. She has applied at every bank in town and hasn’t heard back from any of them. A couple of days ago, I was presenting an assignment in my Management class. I was passed a business card later that had a message on the back. It said I have great presentation skills, and that if I’m interested in a career in the banking world, I should email him. However, I still have a year before I graduate, and I have a summer internship that pays enough that I don’t have to work during school. So, I don’t really want the position. Would it be impolite to pass this person’s contact information on to my friend? Would it be impolite to bring her name up to him? I want to handle this as tactfully as possible.

No, that’s not impolite. However, to really help your friend, you should make the introduction yourself. Email the person who gave you his card and explain that you’re not currently looking for work but you can recommend a friend who’s great because of X, Y, and Z. Say she’ll be emailing him with her resume soon, and then make sure she does so. (Make sure that you can really vouch for her though; it will reflect on you if you recommend someone bad, or whose application materials will be a disaster. So you want to have some professional knowledge of your friend.)

5. My employer-affiliated doctors aren’t taking my pain seriously

I work for a large auto manufacturing plant in the U.S. I was injured on the job in October. I’m in constant pain and not sure how to proceed. Every time I go to medical to get treatment, I’m given painkillers, heating pads and a cortisone steroid shot and told to go back to work. The pain is getting worse. All recommended physicians work or are affiliated with the plant. What can I do?

Please see a doctor who isn’t affiliated with your workplace. You need an independent opinion from someone who isn’t any way beholden to your employer.

{ 271 comments… read them below }

    1. Josh S*

      I initially read OP1 in a ‘male voice’ (I’m a guy, so it’s my default a lot of times), but after reading your comment, went back and read it in a ‘female voice’.

      I’m not sure that it makes one lick of difference to me in how I read the question or the response.

      What makes you ask the question?

      1. PEBCAK*

        A woman assertively promoting herself and her accomplishments (i.e. normal interview behavior) is often seen in a more negative light than a man doing the same. For example, a male boss once called me out for giving a status update on a project that involved too many “I’s” and not enough “we’s,” while of course not noticing the exact same language used by my male peers.

        1. PEBCAK*

          (to be clear, this is documented in many studies of workplace behavior; I am not offering up my anecdotal experience as though it is universal)

        2. Josh S*

          OK. I see it now. Thanks for clarifying. :)

          I had attached more strongly to the self-described “edgy” vibe that OP has. Which meant visible tattoos, or blunt language, or something along those lines, rather than a sexist framework for the comment.

          1. PEBCAK*

            Oh, interesting, I read “edge” as “too sharp,” but I definitely see where it could be the things you are talking about instead.

          2. FiveNine*

            I read this as not self – describing as “edgy” but as the employer saying half the team was offended by what the consider to be OP’s abrupt or stinging or curt manner.

            1. en pointe*

              Yes, I read “edge” to mean the OP was possibly coming off a bit brusquely, particularly if this is a staff that generally interacts in a “smoother” manner.

          3. Vicki*

            “edge” and “edgey” aren’t the same thing.
            I also interpreted “edge” as “too sharp”.

            I would advise the OP to exercise caution and get more information before accepting this job.

    2. BCW*

      I’ll probably be blasted for this, but here goes… Does EVERYTHING on this board need to be turned into gender politics? Whatever the gender, half the staff was turned off by the OP for some reason that we don’t know. The question is what that person should do now. I agree that the same behavior done by women can be seen different than if done by men, but seriously, it seems people are constantly looking for sexism in every question. Its like when people constantly look for racism in every behavior. If you look hard enough, you will usually find it. But sometimes, it has nothing to do with gender, people may just not like or respect you because of who you are as a person. Rant over.

      1. Mike B. (@epenthesis)*

        Yeah, you’re going to get blasted for that.

        If you don’t have an interest in gender politics, or see the relevance, just move on. Going on a rant when someone has the audacity to raise the subject doesn’t make you look like a fearless truth-teller, it makes you look like you’re way too content with the privileges conferred by your gender.

        1. sunny-dee*

          To a certain extent, I agree with BCW, yet I am a woman. Is my gender conferring me privileges? Am I using the privileges or abusing them? And if I’m not abusing my privileges, does anyone have any ideas on how I can? Because that sounds awesome.

          1. Meganly*

            Well, (almost) everyone is privileged in one way or another, and I’m going to wager you are privileged in some way. (Unless you are a disabled, homeless, mentally ill, nonChristrian, lesbian transwoman of color in the US, I suppose.)

            1. TL*

              If you’re in the US (or any first world country) you’re privileged compared to a similar person in a 3rd world country.

              There’s always someone who has it worse or better than you do. :)

              1. Meganly*

                True, I specified the US part only because I am on the ignorant side when it comes to privilege outside the US :P

              2. Xay*

                But, someone in a first world country has to deal with their privilege or lack thereof where they live. Can we drop this “thank God tonight it’s them instead of you” thinking?

          2. PurpleChucks*

            People from non-privileged groups support the privileged group ALL THE TIME. We all do it, in overt and covert ways. That’s how privilege maintains the power structure of oppression.

        2. BCW*

          Its not that I don’t have an interest, but I do think when everything comes down to “was it a man or a woman who did this” then it just becomes less about the question and solving the problem and more about possible sexism, and I feel like that happens ALL THE TIME. To be clear, I’m a black man, and I also get annoyed when anytime my friends or family assume that if someone has a problem with them, it must be because they are black. Like I said, maybe you just weren’t very nice. I COULD go around assuming any job I didn’t get was because the hiring manager has inherent racist views, but that won’t help me get a job will it? So I choose to focus on what I can do to put myself in a position to be a better candidate.

          1. LisaLyn*

            But sexism DOES happen all the time and it’s a reality for those of us who are women and yet need to work, so we need to be aware of it. I wish I could ignore it, but it’s just the way things are.

            1. BCW*

              I don’t feel like you blasted me because you were respectful and didn’t start throwing insults my way. But as I said, I know what its like to be the minority in a lot of situations. In fact, in more professional workplaces than not in my life, I’ve been the only black male there. So I know these things are there, however all I’m saying is that I don’t think it needs to be an issue in every single question raised.

              1. Cat*

                It’s not. Nobody raised gender in response to questions 3, 4, or 5, and it was only tangentially raised in response to 2 (i.e., the maternity leave situation is always going to be somewhat gender related even if paternity leave is also granted because you’re looking at physical recover too). But there are studies showing women tend to be perceived as harsher in the workplace even when saying the same things as a similarly situated man, so it’s relevant when we’re talking about perceptions of harshness (which edginess may or may not mean).

              2. VintageLydia*

                Honestly I don’t see the issue in at least bringing it up as a possibility. The LW may not even be a woman. They may be genuinely abrasive. Hell, they may be a genuinely abrasive woman! But there is no harm bringing it up as a hypothetical because a lot of people DON’T know there is this type of bias going on (and it’s a bias all genders potentially have.) So if even one person stops to think about that the next time a situation arise and they have the power to counteract that bias, the conversation was worth it.

                1. Yup*

                  Agreed. I see a lot of similar discussions about age, life situations (marital status, child & elder care). and dis/ability, and those comments have certainly caused *me* to think more critically about my own biases. I think most commenters here are good about keeping it civil and on point.

        3. Joey*

          Or it simply means he doesn’t understand or see how Pebak sees that as a relevant issue given the information provided, no?

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think it’s natural to find it exhausting. I find it exhausting sometimes. You can recognize the truth in the issues being raised and still find it exhausting.

        1. BCW*

          I’ll admit this board has made me look at things differently. And I do recognize the truth when its there and it relates to the question. But bringing it up as a possibility just to bring it up, when it really has NOTHING to do with the question is my point. If the OP wrote in and said “what can I do to be less abrasive in interviews”, then I could see it being an issue. But in my opinion, this was just “should I take the job or not after being given this info”.

          1. Joey*

            Yes that’s true but everyone looks at issues through a different lens. I’ve found its much better (and less annoying) to respect that than to let it bother you.

          2. Bwmn*

            To say that it has nothing to do with the question may be true – but it implies a notion that “edge” is in reference to a gender neutral environment. I think that AAM’s response does provide a blanket response of whether or not the job will be a good fit for the OP.

            However, often many of us aren’t making the choice between jobs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 but rather “say no to this job offer and continue to wait for another, or take this option as imperfect as it may be”. Given the imperfect option, I think that for women walking into an office that has strong elements of sexism may provoke a strong reaction (I can handle working in another disorganized place – but never again around such sexism!) or the opposite (I’ve worked with sexists before and I can handle them).

            I think that comment just offered more texture to the situation (if it was relevant). Personally, I’ve mostly worked in environments that were pretty upfront in their feminist ideals. If I were the letter writer, I’d want someone to bring that to my attention because I really haven’t worked in that kind of environment and would at least want to think about it before accepting/rejected the position.

      3. en pointe*

        I agree with BCW.

        I don’t feel as strongly about it as he clearly does and I’m all for discussing gender issues when actually relevant. But there have definitely been times here when a few commenters have managed to tie random things to gender, where the link was tenuous at best.

        I wish I could think of a much broader example than this off the top of my head, but what springs to mind, most recently, is the post about the pregnant employee / remote cabin / stuff of nightmares scenario. IIRC someone launched this out-of-line personal attack on another commenter (90% sure it was Joey?), calling him a misogynist, and I just remember thinking: umm, WTF?

        I also strongly disagreed with him on that particular issue, and while it was a gender-related topic, I’ve certainly never seen the guy post anything misogynistic. The idea that someone who disagrees with your viewpoint can just randomly label you a misogynist worries me.

        1. Joey*

          Yep ’twas me.

          Although I don’t quite understand how you can get so annoyed about it when it comes out of left field. Personally I tend to only engage in the discussions I think are relevant specifically because its exhausting and unproductive (for me) to engage in a debate that I think isn’t relevant.

          1. en pointe*

            Personally, it bothers me because I feel that people reaching to tenuously frame things in terms of gender politics detracts from real gender issues and cases of sexism.

            Although, that said, I don’t usually get involved in discussions like this one at all here so, there you go.

            1. Jen in RO*

              “Personally, it bothers me because I feel that people reaching to tenuously frame things in terms of gender politics detracts from real gender issues and cases of sexism.”


              It also annoys me when commenters pile up on a man just because… he is a man. My opinions usually align with BCW’s and Joey’s and I’m a woman, but I feel like all their opinions are seen as automatically invalid just because they belong to the other gender. Especially when Joey is just pointing out how things work *in the real world*, not saying that it’s right/wrong/the way he personally would do it. I want other people to tell me how the world works! I’d rather know about sucky/unfair situations I might come up against, not dream about a perfect world.

        2. Zelos*

          Yeah, my thoughts exactly. Sexism could be a factor for this post…but absent more information (what gender the OP is, the gender makeup of the team in question, etc.), we’re just speculating. And because sexism is such a personal topic for many, it feels like we’re derailing from the original question when we get into an extended discussion about gender politics.

          If we’re discussing the trend in general, okay, but usually we’re discussing the OP’s specific situation…and I don’t think that’s helped by loading on the gender politics discussion when it may not be relevant to this specific situation. Maybe the OP just stared a lot during the interviews. Who knows?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I agree. And maybe it was just bullcrap that had to do with the people involved, like maybe they were hoping for someone who smiled a lot, or talked softly, etc. Without more information, we won’t know.

        3. Zillah*

          Okay – but just because you see the link as tenuous doesn’t mean that the link is tenuous to everyone, you know? We have different experiences, and we therefore see issues differently. It’s valid to comment on letters that touch on issues that we think about and care about, and I’m not sure why wondering about the gender of the first OP is being seen as such a Huge Thing. We wonder idle things about LWs all the time.

          As a woman who tends to be very assertive, I run into this trend all the time, and have gotten similar comments about having “an edge” (among other things) when I wasn’t behaving any differently than men who didn’t get that same criticism. The thought definitely crossed my mind when I read that letter, too. That’s not to say that I was assuming that’s what was going on there, but I did wonder.

      4. Anonymous*

        There were 5 questions. 1 in 5 of those it was mentioned with.

        You may be exhausted by people pointing it out. But just because sexism isn’t pointed out doesn’t mean it stops existing.

        You think it’s hard to have people say, hang on what’s really going on here? Try when that sexism is actually directed at you!

  1. NYC*

    I was once offered a job where the CEO told me, “The head of marketing and I each picked our favorites, and she picked you.” Meaning, of course, that he didn’t. He went on to describe the position a little more and lay out the parameters of the job offer.

    When I left, I called the recruiter I was working with, and told her I couldn’t work somewhere where I’ve been told I rub someone the wrong way. She tried to talk me out of it; the company raised its offer. But there was no way I could work there.

    I don’t see how OP in #1 could seriously consider the job offer.

    1. Jennifer*

      Seconded. If you’re already disliked before you even BEGIN, do you want a future firing on your permanent life record?

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      Thirded. So many of us find ourselves in bad situations, and wish we’d had hints in the beginning … or we realize too late that we DID have hints, and wish we had read the writing on the wall. You have the opportunity to do that now. These are not your people. This is a big fat red flag. This is how you know this situation is unlikely to end well. Do not brush this off. Do not rationalize it away. You are unlikely to fit into this office culture. You will have spend 40+ hours a week with people that don’t like you, and likely vice versa.

      Take the hint. Pay attention to the signs. Trust your judgment. Do not do this thing. Run screaming.

    3. FiveNine*

      ?? Maybe it’s too early for me, but in this exchange alone in no way do I see it as the CEO saying you rubbed him the wrong way — I see him saying the marketing director championed you. It also seems a strange jump to the conclusion that of course the meaning of the comment was that the CEO didn’t want you on board or think you were an outstanding candidate — he clearly did, he offered you the job, the marketing director impressed on him all the reasons you were the best candidate and ultimately convinced him. But whatever, with this much drama or possible miscommunication it sounds like this would have been a bad fit for all from the get go.

      1. De*

        Yeah, just from the information provided it just seems like “she picked you as her first choice”, which does imply the OP wasn’t his first choice, but nothing else. People who weren’t the first choice get hired all the time, for example when the first choice isn’t available anymore, and this is not saying the person picked is not qualified or something.

        1. Zillah*

          It’s not so much that NYC wasn’t the first choice, IMO – it’s the fact that the person thought it was appropriate to tell them so. You may not always hire your first choice, but you’re unlikely to tell the person you do hire that they’re you’re second choice, you know?

          1. De*

            I get that, but NYC wrote “where I’ve been told I rub someone the wrong way”. Which doesn’t logically follow from the first paragraph, in my opinion.

            Also, whether it’s inappropiate does very much depend on how it’s worded. If he said “our marketing manager really loved you – you were her first choice”, I don’t think that’s too bad or even necessarily implies NYC wasn’t his first choice. But I suppose that wasn’t the way it was phrased.

            1. Esra*

              I think NYC was specifically referencing the OP.

              I’d be pretty leery about working somewhere after being told I rubbed half of them the wrong way too.

              1. fposte*

                I have mixed feelings on this, because I’ve been involved in hiring somebody who rubbed me the wrong way, and it’s worked out really well. And while I can’t imagine having simply told the candidate that à la the OP’s situation, I could imagine counseling her on what we perceived to be her flaws and obstacles, and I’m not entirely clear on why I find that different.

                1. Yup*

                  It’s mostly about the pejorative wording and the… aggressiveness of how it was stated. Telling someone that their “style is more direct than is typical in our culture” is a fair warning, and isn’t so much a value judgment as an observation that “hey, your XYZ a little different than the typical XYZ here.” But saying that the OP rubbed people the wrong way is a negative characterization of the OP as a *person *. The former is “we’re different” and the latter is “we don’t like you.” And putting that out there so freaking early in the relationship is puzzling, because it’s like, so why are we even talking if you think I’m such a jerk? It’s like meeting someone for the first time and them saying “I hate your suit. Let’s have lunch.” Um, what?

                  Honestly, it struck me as being uncomfortably close (probably unintentionally) to the negging that pick up artists do to put their target on the defensive right away. Make the OP feel grateful to be chosen at all, and subconsciously start off at minus 10 points so s/he has to go out of their way to prove themself to everyone. Sort of “we’re hired you in spite of yourself, so don’t make us sorry about it.”

              2. FiveNine*

                But the CEO in no way told the OP that OP rubbed him the wrong way. I have no idea why the OP heard it that way.

                1. Mephyle*

                  Aren’t we mixing up two stories here? OP#1 was told that s/he “rubbed half the interview team the wrong way by his/her ‘edge.’”
                  Then NYC recounted an experience of being extended an offer by a CEO who said that NYC wasn’t his first choice (but here’s the job if you want it).

          2. some1*

            “It’s not so much that NYC wasn’t the first choice, IMO – it’s the fact that the person thought it was appropriate to tell them so.”


          3. Ask a Manager* Post author

            To me the issue is less about that and more about the “we can work on that.” Not “here are the issues and do you think this is something we could work on?” but “we WILL be working on that.” And the OP doesn’t even know what these issues are or how they’ll be expected to work on it, and hasn’t been given the option to have input into whether working on it makes sense.

            1. Gjest*

              I had that thought, too. And I read it as all the change would have to come from the OP, and not from them. What if they are just judgmental and/or overly sensitive people? Are they going to work on that?

              1. fposte*

                No, and nor should the OP expect them to. If half of your hiring committee has a characteristic, you need to assume that’s a cultural tendency there and it’s up to you to adjust to it if you want it to work. In this case, it sounds like it would be a hell of a job to make this vague but crucial adjustment, so I would be another who thinks the OP should keep looking.

                1. Gjest*

                  Yes, I was being a bit facetious. But their offer is a bit like telling someone “I think your political views are terrible, and your voice sounds annoying…do you want to go out on a date?”

                  I think both parties should rethink working together. They probably shouldn’t offer a job to someone who 1/2 the team doesn’t like, and if I were the OP I would not want to work there.

            2. OP #1*

              Background, FWIW:
              I work in a technical field. Feedback was unrelated to appearance, gender, etc.
              Also, the employer is undergoing a little –> big company transition & I’m unequivocally playing on the big company team.

              I had a follow-up conversation with an employee on my interview panel for clarification; the feedback had primarily to do with questions about ‘hand-holding’ skills. My take using the Blanchard Situational model, my experience is in S3/S4 with a D3/D4 team while they may need more S1/S2 skills during their transition.

              Thank you all for the comments!

            3. Vicki*

              That was my issue as well.

              I would not want to start off a job knowing they think “you have some personal problems but we can fix you”. If it was “your knowledge of Excel isn’t where we’d like it to be, but we can work on that”, … OK, but vague personal issues with half the team? No.

    4. Lia*

      At a former job, management decided to hire the person that was disliked by the majority of the search committee.

      It was an unmitigated disaster. Four years later, half the staff has left, and the unit is in tatters. Ignoring staff concerns in the hiring process was a symptom of greater dysfunction.

      1. Windchime*

        This happened to our team at OldJob, too. There were 4 supervisors and a bigwig in charge of hiring a person who would be over the supervisors. The supervisors all loved candidate A and felt that candidate B was seriously lacking in experience. So of course Candidate B was hired over the objections of all the supervisors, and it was several years of disorganized hell before B finally got let go.

      2. Chris80*

        Yeah, I don’t see this ending well. The OP will already be stressed by the thought of half of her new coworkers not liking her when she starts. Also, the manager has already acknowledged that he is willing to blatantly ignore the opinions of half of his team when making important decisions. Is that someone you’d want to work for? Managers can’t always do what their employees want them to do – their job is to manage, which sometimes means ticking everyone off – but a manager that advertises that they ignored the opinions of half their team during a hiring decision? I’d avoid this position if it’s feasible for you, OP.

        1. Marie*

          Exactly this! My former (toxic, dysfunctional) workplace operated this way. My manager there was the King of Inept Hiring and routinely ignored red flags and input from our team (those who would be the new hires’ peers and share their office space). It was one disaster after another. Be thankful that you have been given this glimpse into the office culture before you accept their offer, OP. Gracefully decline and count your blessings!

        2. Gjest*

          I would have a hard time with not wondering, every time I met someone at the new place, wondering if they were one of the ones that didn’t like me. Doesn’t sound like a great start to a new job.

      3. Mike B. (@epenthesis)*

        I had that experience on a smaller scale at a little firm years ago; three candidates were interviewed to replace me as admin assistant, of whom two were polished and enthusiastic. The top brass chose the third principally because she was more docile than the others (I heard “she wanted to be the boss” about one of those). She lasted a week, in which time the rest of the staff grew to suspect that her quiet manner covered up serious clinical depression; her work was slow and sloppy. I couldn’t have predicted that, of course, but they would have done well to take my bad feeling about her to heart.

        1. Anonymous*

          We’re doing a lot of hiring now where i work, and the most recent hire is someone we like in a collegial sense, but also slightly rubs some of us the wrong way. Which is good – we don’t want people who just say yes and are the same as what we have.

      4. JM*

        That’s kind of what is happening at my company now. Our boss hired someone who 3 other employees said they knew from other firms and advised against. Only 2 months in and I can already see a problem.

      5. Meganly*

        That happened at my last job, for the manager position. The entire group went from being a cohesive, friendly team to a dispirited empty shell. The frequent layoffs didn’t help, either, but I think we would have pulled through better as a team if she had not been our manager.

    5. Graciosa*

      I don’t think this was as much of a red light as you did – the head of marketing championed you and convinced the CEO. What’s bad about that? It’s perfectly normal that different people will vary in their opinions of you. I would worry about more significant signs of reluctance (such as the CEO saying the hire was much against his better judgment and you had better watch yourself!) but this just doesn’t strike me as a big deal.

      I think it’s perfectly possible to go into a job knowing you were not everyone’s first choice, but plan to wow them with your performance on the job. It’s actually a good way to approach any new job.

      That said, I think signs of cultural fit issues (which is not quite the same thing as some people who didn’t put you at the top of the list) are very important, and I would also flag more serious issues with key stakeholders (my hypothetical CEO remark above).

    6. BCW*

      So because you interviewed with 2 people, and you weren’t one of their first choices (although you may not know how many people you were up against) you refused a job? Its not saying he didn’t like you, just that you weren’t his first choice. That seems overly sensitive to me.

      1. Anon1*

        My concern would be that why did the CEO mention it at all? No good reason exists and if it was as bluntly as the op said, it was badly handled. If the CEO said we had two finalists, and after everyone chimed in internally, you were the choice. Welcome aboard. It sends a much better message. Right now, any errors in the person’s new department risk getting framed as “I told you so” by the person in charge of the company. A good way of getting shown the door.

        1. Anonymous*

          That was my concern as well. I couldn’t understand why he would extend the offer with that statement unless he had a negative opinion of her.

        2. LisaLyn*

          Yeah, I can see that. I found out after the fact that I was not the first choice in my current job. I wonder now how I would have felt if I had known that going in. I did sort of suspect because it took so long to get me an offer, but … Well, basically, I’ve excelled at this job and won over those who would have preferred the other candidate so in the end, it didn’t really matter.

          1. LisaLyn*

            But my point there was that I was NOT told this. I think you have a good point about the fact of being told is the real issue.

        3. Zillah*

          Yeah, this is my feeling, too.

          It’s not that the CEO felt that way – that’s totally fair! It’s that the CEO chose to tell the OP that. It doesn’t exactly indicate confidence.

          1. BCW*

            I get your point, but I still don’t think it would be something that would make me turn down a role. If anything it would make me work harder to prove that person who didn’t want me wrong. I know everyone doesn’t have that same thought though, but thats why to me it seems overly sensitive.

            1. Melissa*

              But that’s exactly what people are bringing up – it’s this “negging” idea, that either CEO doesn’t understand basic social conventions OR he deliberately said it to have the candidate begin from a “minus 10” position where they immediately feel like they are coming in having to prove themselves. While I think every new employee has to do that to an extent, I wouldn’t want to go into a job where I thought I was starting *behind* because the CEO didn’t like me/thought I wouldn’t be a good fit. (And I agree that I didn’t necessarily get that vibe just from what NYC said, but she was there in the interview and able to read non-verbal as well as verbal cues – so maybe there was something about body language and tone that conveyed that information the way words don’t.)

              1. NYC*

                Hi, NYC here, back with some more color. The company was, at the time, a startup with roughly 20 people in headquarters. I was being hired for a senior-level position that had partial if not full reporting responsibility into the CEO, who was a successful businessman prior to starting the company and majority owner of the firm. The head of marketing was to be my peer.

                The CEO actively signaled, as he presented me with a job offer, that I wasn’t his first choice. This company was too small and had to operate too aggressively for someone in my position to come in without the backing of management. They really wanted me–I got a substantially upgraded offer the next day–but without knowing that “they” meant “all of us,” the offer quickly became irrelevant to me.

                As a result, I missed out on an equity play at a company that I believed in and which is still operating and expanding successfully. I was hoping to do something exciting. But if, on my way *in* the door, I already sensed difficulty, how much was I really going to be able to accomplish? How often would I have to look over my shoulder? And just how passive-aggressive was this CEO, anyway? It was startling coming from a self-made millionaire, and kind of weird, and more than a bit rude. Not the kind of person that I’d be happy working for.

  2. LadyTL*

    In regards to #3, HR could have legitimate reasons to track telecommuting. Say if someone complained that they were marked on a performance review as slacking off or absent when they weren’t because they were working from home, or someone coming to them about their boss being inaccessible because they are working from home and not answering calls or emails. They could also be seeing if people are being given preference in who gets to work from home and who doesn’t. It could also be to make sure people are recording their hours correctly if there is non-exempt workers or to make sure people aren’t being docked a paid day off when they were actually working.

    If since this is a remote branch and there isn’t anyone from HR at the site, I could see why they would want to track things like this since there would be no one on site to verify.

    1. rando*

      It could also be simple data-gathering. If I invested in systems that allowed my employees to work from home (whether cloud, remote access, etc), I would want to know who was using it, how often, and how productive they were in relation to their office days.

        1. Hunny*

          Only if you were doing computer work from home. If I were grading a hundred papers, or reading a fat stack of reports, or even on conference calls, the network might not show any activity.

      1. Colette*

        Our rule is that if you come in to work 3 days a week, you have a designated desk. If you come in less than 3 days a week, you don’t (although you can use one of the designated spaces for people temporarily in the office).

        I don’t think it’s HR who tracks that in our office, but I could see why someone needs to know who’s actually in the office.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      We track WFH. The grandest of all poobahs at Wakeen’s asked for this so that they would have a comfort level with the work from home policy. It makes them feel better to look at data and not see that half the company doesn’t show up anymore because they can remote connect in.

      This helps me personally a great deal because prior to the formal tracking in the course of attendance, I’d get pop quizzes about where Sally is and is she working from home and how do I know she is really working. Pain in the tush, made me want to deny working from home at all just so I didn’t have to answer questions.

      Haven’t had a single question since the whole thing was formalized some years ago.

      Regarding the OP though, that’s a tough spot. If I were the OP, I’d go to my boss to solve this. “I’m in an impossible position here. You’re asking me to do something that completely contradicts HR’s instructions, and I could lose my job either way. I have to do what HR has told me to do. If you don’t want the information tracked, could you please work this out with HR.”

      Going to HR about the boss is seriously ratting him out, which, especially in a remote location, can have bad side effects.

      1. Hunny*

        My office has a part-time staff member who works from home most days, but is in-office once a week. Knowing whether he is working a particular day, and from which location, is super helpful. Like you describe, fewer frazzled questions.

    3. Graciosa*

      We are required to track and report telecommuting as part of pollution-control reporting in our county. There may be a perfectly simple explanation for the tracking that has nothing to do with anyone’s individual performance.

      When in doubt, just ask.

    4. Hunny*

      I took it as a way to learn how the physical space of the office was being used. The options seemed to include 1) not working; 2) working at office; 3) telecommuting; and, 4) traveling for work. If the company was trying to understand the best use of their square footage, it would make sense to see how many people would be on-site at a given time, who needs a full desk/cubicle/office vs a work station, etc.

  3. sunny-dee*

    Re: #3, it sounds like she is doing exactly what the boss says she’s doing — implying that when he works from home, he isn’t working. The whole “he’s in the office significantly less than 40 hours” sounds a little judgmental, unless he is truly required to be in the office.

    1. Zillah*

      I think that depends on what the expectation from the employers is, which we don’t know. My read of that one was that he was working from home more than he was supposed to.

      1. Hunny*

        Or rather, more than his boss expected him to. It sounded like HR in no way interpreted telecommuting as “not working”.

    2. LadyTL*

      I think there was a similar discussion about this sort of thing recently on another Ask A Manager letter. Given he is the branch manager, too much time out of the office could be fine depending on how well he keeps in touch while he is at home. If he ignores emails and calls until the end of the day or until he comes into the office next or otherwise not keeping in contact, I could see his spending too much time at home working as a problem. On the other hand if he is staying in touch with people in a timely manner I can understand why he his telecommuting could be just fine even if he doesn’t spend all 40 hours in the office proper.

      It could easily go either way.

    3. MentalEngineer*

      To my mind, the fact that the boss is so upset over his WFH time being tracked is what brings out the implication. If he were opposed to the tracking of WFH time on principle, then he’d be exempting the whole office and not just himself; but in fact, he’s only worried about the tracking of his own time, which does make me wonder why he cares so much.

    4. Del*

      I don’t see how it’s judgmental. “He comes in to the office significantly less than 40 hours so this is bound to come up soon,” means that there needs to be a resolution in place pretty quickly because this is a regular issue, not an intermittent one.

      1. OP#3*

        Yeah, that’s why I included it, I didn’t want a “wait and see” answer because I knew it would probably come up next week

      2. sunny-dee*

        Yeah, but what if it comes up because the OP is bringing it up? I say this without knowing the industry (which can make a huge difference), but both my dad and I have worked in different large companies where managers were almost never onsite. Their work consisted of customer meetings, conference calls, etc., not managing daily operations. That was expected and normal. But if someone started saying, “You know, Joe is just never around. I’m going to mark Joe’s attendance as ‘wfh’, but you know.” That would stick out and make Joe’s behavior seem odd, even when it was perfectly normally.

        Of course, my husband is in a totally different industry, and he is required to be onsite for the full day. So, naturally, every industry is different.

        1. Del*

          I’m sorry, I don’t understand the point you’re making here. Are you suggesting that the OP would be marking the boss as WFH when he is in the office but not at his desk?

          1. doreen*

            I think the point is that not being on-site isn’t necessarily the same as working from home , and the letter isn’t entirely clear about whether the boss is in fact working from home and doesn’t want it recorded or whether he is out of the office for other work-related reasons ( ex. meetings with customers) and the OP is inaccurately reporting that as working from home

        2. OP#3*

          Even if it is the norm, what should I record? It’d be ideal if the form was more reflective of the regular work, but I’m not I’m charge of that, so I’m still stuck using something nobody likes

          1. tcookson*

            What if you just record what your boss wants you to record, and then if HR has a problem with that, have them take that up with him? That’s what I’d probably do with my boss in that situation.

          2. Hunny*

            It sounded like there was an option for working out of the office in addition to an option for wfh. OP, is there a set list of things you have to choose between?

          3. Carlotta*

            My first thought about why HR want to know when people aren’t in the office was because as a remote office they will want to know how often it is full, whether they are sending resources on it correctly etc. Like all the offices which are hot desk only now as people are in and out all the time – upkeep of an office is expensive. Maybe as you are so remote your boss is concerned they’ll decide the cost of running it isn’t worth it. Then again maybe HR has nothing to with it and I’m completely off the mark! But perhaps worth considering? It struck me because I often get annoyed when we employ contractors when I know we could hire someone much cheaper, but someone told me about the extra costs of hiring – not just the process but how much a space for them in the office costs etc. I can imagine someone would want to keep track for that reason.

  4. Confused*

    #5 You may want to speak with a work comp attorney, even if it’s just to get more information.

    1. teclatwig*

      Yes, this. You should be able to get a free consultation. Find out what your rights are under current WC laws. You should not be stuck with industrial docs.

    2. Grace*

      OP with the injury can also post question on the legal site www dot avvo dot com (chose a Workers’ Comp attorney). It’s free.

  5. Anne 3*

    # 2 Have you asked the employee why she wants to use the 2014 days? Maybe it’s just me (and I’m in Europe, so I guess I’m biased), but having been on maternity leave since December doesn’t seem abnormally long to me. Maybe there’s an issue with the child or the mom’s health and she just needs a few extra days and you could give her some lenience there?

    1. Anne 3*

      Also, sort of related – at my company we do get all our vacation days front-loaded in January. But our vacation time (aside from a legal minimum number of days) is calculated on the previous year, so you’ve already ‘earned’ them.

    2. Cat*

      I have to say, that letter did kind of read to me like the employer is sitting around thinking “she wants more than TWO MONTHS for maternity leave? Using VACATION days? What does she think this is? EUROPE????? WE’RE NOT SOCIALISTS.”

      Give her the vacation days, OP; you don’t need to come up with a brand new vacation day allocation system just so someone doesn’t take more than, like, 8 paid weeks with their new baby is pretty crazy. What do you think is going to happen? All your employees of childbirthing age are suddenly going to figure out that they can . . . use the vacation days they’d otherwise be entitled to by timing the birth of their children super precisely to fall over the new year?

      1. Chinook*

        But giving the OP vacation days she hasn’t earned/accumulated comes with the risk of her not staying with company long enough to earn them. When they are viewed as something that can be paid out when you leave, the employee could potentially quit within a month or 6 of her return and be owing that time/value to the company which can’t be collected. Normally I agree with longer maternity leave and flexibility but this isn’t the way to do it because of the risk to the employer. I think it would be different if she was asking for unpaid leave.

        1. Cat*

          If the company has a policy where employees accrue X vacation days a pay period, I agree with you. However, it took it from the fact that the OP was asking whether it was permissible to develop such a policy, that everyone else gets their vacation days straight off (which some companies do) but doesn’t want to do that with this employee because the employee hasn’t started back at work yet. The employee on maternity leave should be treated the same as all the other employees regarding distribution of vacation days.

          1. Colette*

            Agreed. What’s to stop someone who’s not on maternity leave from using all of their vacation for the year in January, then quitting?

            1. Judy*

              Nothing. But every company I’ve been at that gives all the days the first day of the year, doesn’t give any the first year. You “earn” the days in the previous year. And the increments to vacation are specified as “3 weeks of vacation on January 1 after your 5 year service anniversary.”

              Since many companies don’t pay out vacation balances at the end of employment unless required to by law, most people who quit or retire make sure they’ve used all of those days by their end date.

              1. TL*

                Most companies I’ve heard of have vacation accrual policies, with the caveat that you can’t use them for the first 6 months to a year.

                But you’re still getting 6 hrs/pay period or whatever, and that’s what available for use.

            2. Parfait*

              Our company grants you use of all the vacation days at the start of the year, but keeps track of how many you would have accrued per pay period. If you leave the company mid-year having used more days than you would have accrued, you have to pay them back for the difference.

              1. Kerry*

                Yes, this has happened to me – I left my last job in June having taken more than half of my annual holiday. They just took the three days out of my last paycheque.

              2. Jen in RO*

                Exactly. I don’t see the problem. I might be quitting my job soon and I think I took a day more of PTO than I have accrued for this year. They will simply subtract it from my last paycheck.

        2. Elysian*

          My employer will advance you vacation days, but they have told me that they will charge me for them if I leave before I “earn” them. I don’t think this is frequently a problem, but that is one potential solution.

          1. MissM*

            Our company has a policy in which we can use vacation days in advance, and if we end our employment during the year, any days taken that haven’t been accrued result in a deduction from our final paycheck. However, if you take more than 2 weeks in the beginning of the year, while you are still on leave from the previous year, then your final paycheck wouldn’t be sufficient to repay the leave taken in advance. That, I think is the problem.

            1. Elysian*

              I suppose that could happen – I only get 10 days of vacation, so its not possible for them to advance me more than any one paycheck would cover.

          2. Brett*

            Have to be really really careful with negative leave balances on exempt employees. If some of that negative leave was part day PTO, you open yourself up to making your exempt employees non-exempt when you deduct negative leave from final paychecks.

      2. fposte*

        I disagree somewhat–the OP does need to come up with a vacation day policy and make sure that it applies to everybody, because otherwise there’s a risk of illegal discrimination here. The absence of an existing vacation accrual policy is what’s causing the trouble in the first place.

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          I suspect the company already has a vacation accrual policy, but the manager is now looking for validation to change the policy in response to a woman’s maternity leave situation.

          1. fposte*

            It could be, but the phraseology of the letter doesn’t suggest that to me–the OP is asking if they *can* have a policy.

            1. Ann O'Nemity*

              I would think they’d have an established way of handling vacation accrual, even if it’s not a formal policy spelled out in an employee handbook. It doesn’t sound like this is some start-up that is formulating their first vacation policy ever; it sounds like the manager is contemplating new restrictions.

          2. Seattle Writer Girl*

            As someone who took a maternity leave in December 2012 that spanned into March 2013, here’s how it worked for me:

            I was required to take an accured PTO before or during my maternity leave
            I was not allowed to accrue any PTO while on my maternity leave.
            Any leave past my accrued PTO was taken unpaid.
            I started with 0 days of PTO upon return and had to accrue them again throughout the year (with the ability to go 3 days “in the red”, i.e. take up to 3 days before I accrued them that I then needed to “work down” before I was able to accrue more time).

            I suspect what’s happening here is that the mom on Mat Leave has burned through all her PTO from 2013 and is hoping her employer will give her an “advance” on her 2014 time to cover what’s left of her leave.

            My employer would never do this because should the mother decide not to come back after Mat Leave, they’d be out $$$$ with few legal avenues to recover it because the person is no longer an employee.

            Personally, I think we should all just switch to a model like the UK or Canada and then no one would have to deal with crap like this….

        1. Mary*

          And this is why I tell my Canadian co-workers I don’t like them. Well, that and they gave us Justin Bieber. :)

          1. Laura*

            And we won’t take Justin Bieber back:)

            My mom had my sister just before they implemented the 1 year maternity leave in Canada, like a few months before, and she was so annoyed at only getting 6 months, which is what it was 16 years ago. But now even 6 months seems good.

          1. Laura*

            It is a year, paid by the government. It’s not fully paid, You are paid 55% of your salary. It can be split by both parents, but often the mother takes the whole thing. And you have to have your job waiting for you when you get back. Well, not necessarily your precise job , but you have to be paid the exact same, and it has to be similar. The US is really the only developed country in the world without similar parental leave policies to what we have.

          2. hamster*

            Here in Europe,
            I year of paid leave, at 85% of salary paid by the government, but capped at a X sum (which i think it’s socialist and unfair, since i pay taxes same as everyone and it 85% of my salary happens to be bigger than arbitrarely chosen x , then what but whatever) and you can take up to another year of mostly unpaid leave ( with a small allowance) and in both cases the employer has to hold your job for you.

            1. hamster*

              And medical issues are treated same as any medical leave. Up to 4months per year at the doctor’s recomandation and if it takes more , you’re required to fill in disability

        2. Chinook*

          Correction, Canada gets one year combined matrnity and parental leave (with a little more in Quebec). So, if you adopt a newborn or not the birth mother, the most you can claim is 11 months. There was a push on to change adoptions to the full year and I don’t know how it works for a father when the mother dies in childbirth because he is not eligible for the full year either because the initial chun of time is intended for the birth mother only.

    3. Laura*

      It seems short to me too, but I’m Canadian, where everyone gets a year of maternity leave where they’re payed a percentage of their salary and they need to have a job to come back to. But it doesn’t seem too unreasonable to ask for a few extra days, and she did earn that vacation time.

          1. Cat*

            But the OP asked if they could put a policy in place where vacation time is accrued over the year; that would imply they don’t have such a policy in place. If the current policy is that existing employees get vacation time the second the year turns over (which may not be the best way to structure things but is certainly not unheard of), then she has earned them.

            The fact that the OP doesn’t think she should have earned them is something to address going forward, but not put in place on an ad hoc basis.

              1. Cat*

                If that’s the case, they’re probably better off not saying “we’ve never thought about this before, but we’ve decided, in response to a question from someone on maternity leave, that you actually accrue vacation at a rate of X, so you can’t have it.” I mean, it’s legal but what a terrible idea.

      1. Anon1*

        Laura, this isn’t the case. The gov’t will give you EI but your employer just needs to guarantee your job when you return. They don’t need to pay anything. Practically, EI doesn’t really cover anyone with even a medium income job.

  6. Anne 3*

    # 5 – I hope you can see someone not affiliated with your work. I’m sorry that happened to you, best wishes.

  7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    As Alison said, your HR policy is flawed if someone who is still on unpaid leave is eligible for 20 vacation days at the turn of the new year. That’s non-standard and somebody should look at that.

    I’d deny the request unless there is some FMLA reason it needs to be approved. I’d ask HR first to see if there was any FMLA funny business in this, and if cleared, I’d deny the request.

    Allowing people to take all of their days, in one lump, at the start of a calendar year, always turns out bad. Always. People have days because they need days. Now, in our case, it’s PTO, so the days include vacation, personal and sick, they are all just days.

    People who use up all of their days early inevitably cause issues. If they get sick, they come to work contagious and coughing all over everybody else. If they have a personal emergency (like a sick new baby), they ask for special arrangements like working from home (working isn’t providing childcare) or making up a day by working through lunch for 8 days straight. Come August, they start asking to borrow days from the next calendar year.

    It’s impossible to get through a work year without needing some of your days.

    I have no problem extending new parent leave however it needs to be extended for a good employee, but I’d never let somebody use up all of their days in the beginning of a year because trouble follows next.

    1. Cat*

      But there’s no indication she’s on unpaid leave. The letter says she’s used up her 2013 vacation days, which would imply she’s not.

      It sounds like everyone else at the company gets their 20 vacation days when the year turns over; otherwise this wouldn’t be a question. If this is a problem for everyone, fine, but don’t change the policy because one person wants to use it for maternity leave.

      (And you did, in fact, put your finger on why it often sucks for employees to have combined vacation and sick time.)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Mmm, good point about the paid vs unpaid.

        I’d throw the entire thing to HR as to what kind of monkey wrench the vacation day factor is in the employee having the length of maternity leave (paid or unpaid) that she wants/needs to have.

        But I wouldn’t let her use all of her days up unless regulations backed that into a “no choice”.

        1. Cat*

          Sure. Having a “we will only approve x days in the first half of the year” policy makes sense. But it should be applied across the board; it shouldn’t be come up with on the spot because someone had a baby.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Approving vacation days and when they are taken is always at the discretion of the manager.

            I’d never approve four weeks in a row for anybody, especially if it left them no days for the rest of the year. It’s nothing to do with maternity, and vacation days being entangled with maternity are the cause of the problem here.

            (That said, the post here the other week about the guy who needed 6 weeks to go overseas because I think his father was dying or what not, I’d find some way to get that guy his 6 weeks and keep his job, policies be damned. If I had to let him go and then hire him right back, I’d do it.)

            1. Cat*

              I’m sure, from everything you’ve said on here, that you treat your employees fairly and approve vacation days fairly. All I’m saying is that neither managers nor companies should be manipulating the technicalities of their vacation time – or changing their policies on an ad hoc basis – in order to target women on maternity leave who would otherwise be entitled to it.

              In other words, if an employee could get 3 weeks of 2014 vacation time to go to Costa Rica in January, she should be able to get that to stay home with her new baby. (The same applies with the pronouns reversed, for that matter.)

              1. Zillah*

                Yeah, that’s what irks me about that letter. It’s not that I think the policy Alison is talking about is flawed – it’s that it seems shady to me to make a new policy or change the policy because a woman wants to use her days early for maternity leave. Has it really never come up before that an employee wants to use a number of their days for vacation early in the year?

                1. Hunny*

                  I worked for a tiny company, which had existed/had staff for about 17 years, and we had all sorts of “that’s never come up before!” moments. I lean towards thinking that if a weakness in a policy or lack of appropriate policy is discovered that’s the perfect time to start planning changes to that policy. Maybe not a good time to implement them, but as Wakwen pointed out, the manager doesn’t have to approve leave just because of a policy.

                  Maybe the real issue is that the manager feels uncomfortable just saying “no” or “no, because I don’t want my staff to use all her PTO in one go” and feels a need to show that a policy made them say no.

            2. Judy*

              It’s the fact that there isn’t maternity leave. FMLA is unpaid, but employees might like a lot of that paid. FMLA also says companies can require employees to use their paid leave before taking unpaid leave for FMLA.

              Anywhere in the US I’ve worked where there is a large quantity of international employees, there is a group that takes a long vacation over the first of the year every other year “to go home” for a month or more. Taking all or most of their 2013 leave in December and most of their 2014 leave in January for a long trip to visit family.

            3. Dan*

              I’m glad I don’t work for you. I was at my previous employer for 5 years, and disappeared overseas for 3-4 weeks at a time most years that I worked there. (I had 4 weeks PTO most years.) I’ve always appreciated them for that.

              Nobody was dying, I just wanted to see the world. I never ran into trouble with taking off so much time, and I never had to “borrow” vacation time, either (we were allowed to go 40 hours in the hole.)

              1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                I think that’s great!

                Different employers have different strengths. We’re not a good fit for somebody who wants a job that allows that.

                It’s never really been an issue for us, I guess because these things get sorted during the interview process.

                Other that that, we’re pretty cool with requested time off and even juggling to accommodate last minute requests. So, we’re not good for the world traveler, but we’re good for the person who has to grab a few days, last minute, to help her grandmother who has fallen etc. etc.

                Good at accommodating the day to day.

                1. Sharm*

                  I just want to give you props for sorting out vacation stuff during the interview process. I wish more would.

      2. fposte*

        Oh, I read it has them having no official policy on vacation accrual. If they do have an official policy that it’s front-loaded, they’d be asking for *serious* trouble if they said “Except for you” to the person in the federally protected status and on the federally protected leave.

        1. Cat*

          I don’t know how you could function without having some sort of policy on vacation accrual, though. Either everyone has been getting all their vacation days January 1 (which the manager then approves on whatever basis) or they have been accruing them at some rate, but it really has to have been one or the other, even if just by default.

          1. fposte*

            You’d think, but I’ve known organizations that never really figured that stuff out. They’re the kind that people write to AAM about :-).

            1. Cat*

              Fair point! If that’s the case, then you’re right – they should figure it out, and they should do so looking at the totality of circumstances rather than just this one.

    2. Judy*

      I’d also say that if I were the employee, the request would be more about if I’d get paid for the 20 days. The request wouldn’t be about whether I’d be working those 20 days. I took all of my 13 weeks (unpaid after the disability of 6 weeks at 60%) and saved my “vacation” time for sick kids, doctor appointments, etc.

      1. fposte*

        Assuming we’re talking FMLA, most employers won’t let you save the paid days–they’re allowed to require them concurrently with FMLA leave, and they usually do require that, so you were fortunate. (Though I’m with you in thinking that if this employee uses up all her vacation time she’s going to wish she had some back later in the year when kid stuff happens.)

        I’m assuming that the employee of the query here has had approved leave that goes into this year either way, so it is, as you say, just about whether she’s going to be paid for the time out or not. If she’s requesting the time be *added* to her leave on top of any legally required amount, that’s another kettle o’ fish, and it doesn’t have to be granted as unpaid or paid.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Given that I *still* didn’t follow this, you understand why I said multi times “I’d throw it to HR”.

          Or, ask AAM readers. ;-)

  8. The Clerk*

    I think #5 already thought of seeing someone else and was trying to find out if/how they can so that while still being covered by worker’s comp. They might not have their own insurance–and Donna Ballman’s book pointed out that regular insurance will refuse to cover you if the injury happened at work because that’s what worker’s comp is for, so they’d end up paying everything out of pocket. Is there someone specific they should contact at HR, or a third party involved with worker’s comp issues to speak with?

    1. Joe*

      An employment atty. The company wants them working so they have their physicians saying he can- he needs to get care from an unbiased source and find away the work comp issue.

    2. Site Safety Manager - Construction*

      The WC insurance company will have a case manager. That should be his first contact. He should be able to request to get second opinions with different doctors within the WC program. He should be keeping his own documentation of visits, receipts, etc.

      He should consider contacting a WC attorney. Go through the local Bar association, not one of the guys on TV.

    3. Windchime*

      Why not just go to a different doctor and skip all the attorney and case worker stuff? In my state (Washington), you can pretty much go to whatever doctor you want with a Worker’s Comp injury as long as you have the case number so it can be billed to WC. I work in Healthcare and normally they would want us to go see the doc in Employee Health because WC claims are expensive, so if it the injury can be treated in-house, then it’s less expensive for the company. But if I was getting this run-around like OP is, I would definitely go outside to a different doc.

      1. Natalie*

        Workers’ Comp rules can differ significantly by state, so it’s possible the LW can’t go to an independent doctor and still have it covered by WC.

      2. TL*

        In Texas, you have to see a WC doctor to get worker’s comp. (I think.) You can see a different doctor for the initial diagnosis but once it’s determined to be work-related, you need to go see a WC doctor to get comp.

  9. Hugo*

    #2 – of course this wouldn’t be an issue if American companies offered generous maternity leave, which lesser economies have somehow figured out how to do without impacting their businesses.

    1. Joe*

      True, but hey it’s JUST the next generation those women (men) are caring for….. and most of the world has figured out how to provide more maternity leave than the US.

    2. Colette*

      I’m not sure that’s true. No matter how long someone is off, I can see them wanting to extend it just a bit longer. I’m in Canada, and I believe some of my colleagues have taken the year of maternity leave, then added their vacation on to the end of it. Having said that, we do accrue vacation while on leave.

      1. Zahra*

        You accrue the days, but the amount accrues proportionally to the amount you earn *at work* during that year. I guarantee you that those few additional weeks are not the vacation you think they are. On top of that, some employers require you to take the (untaken) past year’s vacations at the end of such a leave.

        1. Colette*

          I”m not suggesting that they’re jetting off to a tropical beach for vacation, just that they extend their leave a little longer, whether it’s because their childcare arrangements won’t start until a couple of weeks after the year, they have family commitments that will be easier if they’re home, or because they just want to take the time.

          Based on a quick google search, vacation time continues to accrue during maternity leave in most jurisdictions in Canada: http://www.hrinfodesk.com/FAQ/faqvacationaccrualduringmaternityleave.htm

          1. Zahra*

            Indeed, you accrue the PTO time. But you are paid 4% of your earned salary during the reference period (in all the companies I’ve worked at, anyway). If you earned little salary due to being out for parental leave, you get little money during your 2 additional weeks off.

    3. loxthebox*

      As a pregnant lady with 10 days until my due date, I agree. The whole maternity policy ticks me off. When I talk with my boss she keeps reminding me that 12 weeks is a long time and that if I take the whole 12 weeks of FMLA I won’t have any left in case I need to use more over the next year. It doesn’t help either that I’m only the 3rd person to need maternity leave since the company started over 10 years ago, so our “policy” is a regurgitation of the FMLA law. Plus we just have crap PTO. 12 days per year which has to be accrued and there’s a stipulation that we have to use all of our PTO for FMLA before going on unpaid leave. So as soon as I get back from maternity leave, I will have no available time off for baby checkups. /rant

        1. fposte*

          If there’s a serious health condition involved and it hasn’t been used up, yes. Just for a doctor’s appointment or a cold, no. Even bonding leave is subject to employer approval if you want it intermittently.

        2. loxthebox*

          It can be. My rant-y brain is just upset because it feels that even though I’m allowed to take the full 12 weeks as maternity leave, my boss is trying to dissuade me from doing so citing potential future need as a reason to come back sooner.

          1. Joe*

            Consider anotehr job telecommuting or work pt or quit- all if you can…. You aren’t ranting- this system sucks.,

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


        Well we’ve had about a zillion maternity leaves in the last 10 years and it’s a rare situation where the mother hasn’t chosen to take her entire 12 weeks.

        An employer having only 12 PTO days per year is a bad business decision, IMHO. If you don’t have enough PTO available for employees to be able to manage the Things in Life, all that stress on the employee comes right back in the workplace and causes workplace problems.

        1. loxthebox*

          Yeah, I’m not a fan. And that’s supposed to cover everything – we don’t get any sick leave or anything on top of that. I’d rather use the time to go on vacation or something rather than staying home sick.

          1. EM*

            I hear you — at my previous job I had 8 PTO days per year — that’s it. Sick/vacation/personal time all rolled into 8 measly days per year. I hated it. It was a large reason why I left (and I have no children).

          2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


            And Dan upthread thinks I’m a scrooge because I don’t allow enough vacation weeks in a row for a backpack through Europe. (Just teasing, Dan. I get it. :) )

            I seriously do not understand how it’s a good idea to try to manage a business where there’s only 12 PTO period. There have to be people coughing up a lung and infecting everybody to try to hang onto a day so they could take their poodle for necessary surgery or whatever.

  10. Joe*

    #3 why would a manager be above company policy? Stupid or otherwise, drum roll it’s company policy so the admin. must follow company policy or risk their job and violate the scared policy.

    A manager is not allowed to require their staff to violate the policy they both work under.

    1. John*

      It’s a terrible position in which to place an admin. Her continued employment requires keeping her boss happy and making him look good. In upholding her ethical responsibility to the company, she risks the “troublemaker” label. Boo.

      1. OP#3*

        Ugh thanks. It’s actually really validating to see people sympathize because I need to remember things really are bad, and to keep job hunting

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Actually, in many cases a manager can decide to overrule HR policy, depending on the policy and the standing of the manager. HR serves managers, not the other way around, and if a manager can make a strong enough case or has strong enough standing, the manager can (in some cases) overrule them.

      1. Del*

        It seems to me like that’s something that should be worked out between the manager and HR, though, not the manager instructing their subordinate to ignore HR’s direct instructions. The OP winds up stuck in a lose-lose situation because one way or another, she’s bucking people who are entitled to tell her what to do.

      2. Joey*

        Eh, HR serves the company moreso than managers which frequently means that when a manager intends to overrule HR they may raise that issue above the managers head.

        But you’re correct a good manager has frequently earned the ability to go against policy on some issues whether HR agrees or not.

      3. Joe*

        Then if that is the case the manager should have no problem being a manager and going staright to HR NOT using the admin as a shield. They are not paid to figure out policy.

  11. Anonymous*

    As a Canadian #2 is just so crazy to me. She’s only been gone since December! It’s not like this is a holiday. Do you want someone who’s in pain and exhausted at work?

    1. Chinook*

      As a fellow Canadian, let me point out that birth mothers only get 1 month maternity leave for the actual recovery and the other 11 months can be split between the parents. I believe that 1 month for recovery is not available for adoptions. If it takes longer than a month, then there are other medical issues at play. Pregnancy and birth are not illnesses and can be recovered from quickly when all goes right.

        1. Chinook*

          But, if something did go meddically wrong, then she should be asking for sick leave and have medical proof that she is unable to work. Asking for vacation time makes it soundd like she just wants more time with baby (which is valid but not a medical reason). Also, if she is just now asking for another month instead of asking for it in the beginning, then the chances are increasing that she may not want to come back, which means the employer is risking paying to lose an employee rather than to retain her (which is one of the reasons for paid leave).

          1. Cat*

            That’s quite a pile of assumptions here. But regardless, you do not deny employees paid time they’d otherwise be entitled to because you think they might leave. Similarly you can’t tell your employee they can’t take vacation time to go to Jamaica because you think they’re at risk of deciding they want to a beach bum or to Portland, Oregon because you think they might realize they want to open a crafts store where they sell tote bags with birds on them.

            Or, you can but it makes you a lousy employer.

            1. BW*

              It sounds to me like the employer is afraid the employee on maternity leave is going to use up all her 2014 vacation days and then decide she wants to stay home with the baby and quit. Then the company will be out her pay for all those days. There is more of a risk that someone will decide to quit after having a new baby than someone will decide to quit after a 3-week vacation to Costa Rica.

              1. fposte*

                True, but you can’t have one vacation policy for people on FMLA and another for people out for other reasons.

              2. Cat*

                And yet both happen and both are a risk of life. There’s also a risk – and a large one – that an employee will use vacation or sick time while interviewing for new jobs, and yet you don’t (or shouldn’t) grill them about that use either. And yes, sometimes that can be a significant amount of time, especially if they’re interviewing overseas.

                That said, there’s another point which I didn’t get into earlier because I didn’t see any reason to because it shouldn’t matter. The employee had the baby sometime in December. She hasn’t even been out a normal* 12 weeks yet. There’s no reason to assume she now wants to stay home with the baby rather than that she, like, most women, isn’t ready to come back to work after fewer than three months.

                * “Normal” in the sense that many, many people take this; not that all companies offer it.

              3. Judy*

                I’ve been working in engineering environments for over 20 years. I’ve been in groups where I’ve been the only female, and I’ve been in one group that was 40% female. I’ve known 20-30 pregnancies over that time. Any female engineer I’ve known with an uneventful pregnancy (resulting with a non-disabled child), has come back to work.

                Certainly there have been 2-3 that have quit in a year or so, because the company hasn’t been as accommodating as they’d like. For example, one co-worker went on the flex policy, working on 32 hours. But she was still required to put in her 32 hours, plus any meetings outside those hours. And it seemed like her team was calling all the meetings outside those hours. She said to me that it seemed like she had just negotiated a 20% reduction in pay with no reduction in work. She made the best decision for her family to quit.

              4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                Meh. There’s a lot greater cost to losing an employee than having paid out 20 working vacation days. It would be short sighted to worry about that.

                Besides, if there is currently no accrual policy, if the days are actually awarded at the turn of the new calendar year, she’s already owed the $$ from those days anyway. Nothing to do with maternity or not.

          2. Seattle Writer Girl*

            I don’t think the employee is asking for more time off, I suspect she is asking to take the PTO now so her leave will be paid vs. unpaid.

      1. Zahra*

        13 weeks are for the mom, minimum 4-5 weeks after the birth. 37 weeks can be split between both parents. And the father gets 5 weeks for him alone. (YMMV: I’m in Quebec)

        1. Laura*

          it’s similar in Ontario, though I don’t know exactly since I’ve never had a baby. And the only woman I know who had a baby recently had it with her wife as the second parent. I know her wife took the first 5 weeks as well, and i think she’s just taking the rest, though they could have split it any way they wanted.

      2. JoAnna*

        Yes, but after the recovery period, you’re dealing with severe sleep deprivation due to needing to feed the baby 2-3x per night. If it’d been financially possible for me to take more than 6 or 8 weeks of leave with my kids, I would have done so. Having a new child is exhausting, especially if you have other kids to care for and can’t nap when the baby does.

        1. Windchime*

          I was very fortunate to be able to stay home with my kids until they were 18 months and almost 3. My then-husband was making 10 bucks an hour at the time and somehow we were able to make it (it was the 80’s). The idea of having to leave the house with a 3 month old baby, do daycare and go to work sounds exhausting and sad, and yet people do it all the time.

          I wish our country were more progressive on these issues, instead of being suspicious of anyone who wants to take a few more precious weeks to be with their new baby.

          1. JoAnna*

            Yeah, I have five, the youngest of whom will be 4 months old tomorrow. It’s truly exhausting, but I make enough after daycare expenses to make it worth it… for now. My husband and I are currently reevaluating and trying to see if we can make it on his income alone, because getting up at 4:30am every day to get to work by 7am (I have a commute that’s an hour long, one way, on a good day) is so wearing.

    2. fposte*

      I don’t think the issue is whether she has to come back or not; it’s whether she’ll continue to get paid during her leave.

  12. Del*

    #3 – This honestly reads as pretty “off” on the part of the boss to me. If the time WFH is just being reported as standard as anything else (“Bob was in the office 30 hours this week, worked from home 8 hours, and took PTO for 2”) then there’s no judgment call being made either explicitly or implicitly on the part of the admin, and if the boss has issues with the way HR or the higher-ups are judging WFH time, that’s something he should be addressing higher up the food chain, not asking the OP to falsify timesheets for him.

    1. OP#3*

      This is the heart of the matter in his mind I think. Without giving away too much, it’s kind of a franchise deal, and he likes to think he’s his own CEO without anybody higher in the food chain, but I still have to deal with HQ all the time.
      So yeah, it sucks

      1. Del*

        I honestly wonder if your boss (justifiably or not) feels guilty about the WFH? If he feels like he is not pulling his full weight when he’s at home, he may hear “Bob was WFH, not in the office, X many hours this week” as containing an implicit accusation where one doesn’t really exist. And this could be the case whether or not he actually is working on full at home — some people just do not feel like they are really working if they are at home in their sweats.

        1. OP#3*

          I think this is accurate (again, justified or not). He has said things like “I wasn’t telecommuting, I was on conference calls.” But obviously it’s not contradictory since you can be productive at home

  13. GeekChick*

    RE: #3 — I don’t know where OP lives, but logging work from home hours could have tax implications, depending on your location. That would make it very important for HR or Payroll to have that record.

    I work and live in New England (upper northeast corner of the US). The state of New Hampshire (NH) does not have income tax based on an employee’s wage (there are other types of income that are taxed). The commonwealth of Massachusetts(MA) does have an income tax on employment wages. If I work in MA, but live in NH, I still owe income tax to MA for the income seen as sourced from MA.

    If you are a telecommuter living in NH and working in MA, the days you work at home can be seen as working in NH. You can legally not pay income tax to MA for those days, but there must be a record that it is part of your regular work agreement.

    The HR department in question may have run into this issue where they were asked to confirm telecommuting days vs. days in the office and now they are being proactive for remote branches where payroll tax issues could arise.

    NOTE: I am not a tax accountant. Nothing here is to be taken as tax advice.

    1. AnonHR*

      I’d also add that this can even apply on a smaller level to places with local (city/county/school district) income taxes.

    2. books*

      True – Old Company changed accounting purposes that monitored working from a client site to track what state work was performed in.

    3. Anonadog*

      This happens at our company too, but it’s for city taxes. We’re based in San Francisco. HR asks us once a quarter to report the days we were not working in the city. I wish they would ask us on a more regular basis – it’s so hard to keep track of!

      1. Hunny*

        Could you create more frequent reports internally? My job is gathering information’s for reports (mostly quarterly) and the people I gather it from track daily-weekly-monthly information so that by the end of the quarter almost everything is already written out.


    Get an attorney. It’s a misconception that they only will try to get you to settle. A good WC attorney will help you obtain quality medical care from doctors not affiliated with your employer. Trust me, itales a world of a difference

    1. Joey*

      There’s no need for a wc attorney at this point. All he has to do is go to another doctor that accepts wc. You don’t need an atty to do that.

      1. teclatwig*

        This is wrong. Every state is different, and in plenty of places an outside doctor won’t be reimbursed by WC, and most health insurance companies will deny a claim that they believe is more appropriately paid by someone else.

        I don’t think anybody is saying “go pay an attorney lots of money.” This sort of advice can be obtained for free, possibly by a paralegal in the office.

        If there is some other source of info about the process (like a local Workers Compensation Appeals Board), OP could try that instead. But this requires the advice of someone reliably knowledgeable in local WC regulations.

      2. teclatwig*

        I think I missed the phrase “that accepts WC.” Again, I say it may not be this simple. Things are a bit hazy for me now, but I remember having office injuries that never went to WC, I had to actually file a claim when I was unhappy with the employer-provided care? So I am not convinced the OP has a case manager. And yeah, the law might allow him to go to his own doctor, but there might be subsequent paperwork to fill out (especially if New Doctor is overriding Employer Doctors’ assessment that he is fine to go to work). The fact that OP’s ability to work is going to be in dispute means s/he must get some expert advice so that the process isn’t mishandled.

  15. Anonymous*

    #1: I am currently in a job where I am a bad fit for the corporate culture. I am consider too blunt, too direct, too negative – things that were not issues in past jobs because I was in a different industry where speaking up and being direct were considered positives/SOP. Where I am now, being passive-aggressive and never saying anything negative are what gets someone tagged as a “good” employee.

    Here’s what you need to ask yourself – in your interviews, were you yourself? Do you in anyway see how something you said or did could have offended multiple people? If you were just acting as you normally do, you’re going to have a problem there. Because you being you is going to piss people off and there’s not a whole lot you can “work on” about who you naturally are.

    I have shifted my communication style somewhat to fit in more where I am but since it doesn’t come naturally to me to not say what I mean or to tiptoe around things, so it means I have to be constantly policing myself. It can get exhausting.

  16. EAA*

    I took employee request as ‘I’m still on maternity leave and I need money.’ No matter what the vacation policy is it seems that the employee didn’t plan well. Also that neither she nor the employer discussed her leave options fully. (or she’s hoping they would change what was decided).
    Either way it would be a good idea if employer put in place a leave policy and maybe a maternity/disability policy.

    1. Cat*

      Or she wasn’t fully prepared for one or more aspects of bringing a new human being into the world; caring for it; and arranging for it’s going forward care.

      This is not unusual; none of the women who have taken maternity leave in the past few years in my office have given a precise return date, nor have friends of mine at other companies. It’s actually just not an easy thing to pinpoint.

      1. fposte*

        But we have no indication it’s about return date; it seems to me it’s about whether she’s paid or not on leave. While I think it’s totally fine for her to query, I’m with EAA in thinking that she and the job didn’t have a conversation that they should have had before she went out on leave. With the current info, I blame the employer more than I do the employee, given that there seems to have been no discussion of this prior to her departure and that it sounds like there may be no accrual policy in place beyond discretion.

      2. doreen*

        It’s almost imposssible to pinpoint precisely when you return- but it’s not that hard to pinpoint precisely how many days you will be paid for or whether you can use your 2014 PTO before you have worked in 2014. Which it seems like this employee did not do – if she had, the OP would have seen the need at that time.

        1. fposte*

          And if she isn’t on FMLA or other arranged unpaid leave, she and the employer are both getting a big ol’ side eye for not having planned for the possibility that she would want to be out more than one year’s vacation days for maternity leave.

          1. Cat*

            It’s possible that the employer offered some paid maternity leave though. So she might have taken 6 weeks paid vacation time and then her 4 weeks of 2013 vacation time (which she saved knowing she was pregnant). That might get her about up to today when she asks whether she can also take 2014 vacation time. That’s not ridiculous.

              1. Cat*

                I mean, I’m sure the employee isn’t like 100% the best person ever; and yeah, it’s a good idea to square away all your options before going on maternity leave. If someone wrote in asking “hey, I’m expecting to go on maternity leave in December; should I ask my employer what will happen with the next year’s vacation time?” then yeah, AAM should say “yes, ask them!”

                But the fact of the matter is, apparently that didn’t happen and now the employer appears to be trying to come up with on-the-spot policies to deal with it. Given that’s the world they are living in, they should still do it right instead of using the (apparent) lack of foresight as an excuse to behave poorly.

                And anyway, I’m not actually convinced the employee didn’t ask and they just didn’t have an answer for her. If they don’t have a vacation accrual policy, it’s not surprising that they might have been “eh, we’ll burn that bridge if we come to it.”

                1. fposte*

                  I’m applying ridiculousness to both sides. It would be a situation of equal-opportunity ridiculousness.

      3. Seattle Writer Girl*

        “This is not unusual; none of the women who have taken maternity leave in the past few years in my office have given a precise return date, nor have friends of mine at other companies. It’s actually just not an easy thing to pinpoint.”

        Really? I was able to give a very exact return date because it was the same date my son was able to start day care. We had put a deposit down when I was 5 months pregnant. Friends told me starting that early was imperative to securing a day care spot.

        I don’t want to get into a war about women’s mat leave choices (and as a new mom myself, I am very familiar with how unexpectedly life changing a new baby can be), but I do find it puzzling that many women seem to put this stuff off until the last minute.

        1. Cat*

          For a lot of people, things change at the last minute – if you’re in an urban area, you’re not going to necessarily know which daycare waitlists you get off of and when or when you’re going to be able to hire a nanny and when they’re going to be able to start or when your partner can get time off, or any number of things. It can be a lot more complicated than “day care is starting on this date.”

          Anyway, you don’t know me or the people I work with or know, so you have no reason to believe me. But no, these are not women who put things off till the last minute.

        2. Hunny*

          In my hometown, daycare is a lot looser. You probably have to line up a slot a couple weeks before Junior starts, but not 5 months.

    2. JoAnna*

      Or maybe circumstances changed — her husband lost his job or got his hours cut, or their vehicle stopped working and needed an expensive repair, etc. You can plan all you want but sometimes unanticipated expenses crop up.

      1. Anonymous*

        In my office last year, three people were pregnant at the the same (none with their first child). One person addressed FMLA/leave time with her boss and HR (they all have different managers) but the other two did not. In addition, that was the only person who made childcare arrangements. The other mothers were mid-30s/ early 40s and seemed mystified by saving for unpaid leave and planning beyond the birth. I think they thought it would just “happen” – or they weren’t sure if they would return to work.

        Incidentally, their childcare “solution” was to bring their infants to work “because babies don’t crawl or bother anyone at this age.” They didn’t clear it with their managers, either so that didn’t end up happening. Shocker. It resolved itself before I had a chance to write in about it.

  17. Alan*

    #5 might be a union member (many car plant workers are) and if so your union may be able to direct you to a doctor who is familiar with your kind of work and possible related injuries.

    When you do see another doc please let them know whether the cortisone shots worked. They are effective for some people but not for everyone; if they did not work for you then that’s important information for the doc to have.

  18. Gilby*

    I am having a problem with the manager wanting to hire you knowing the staff has an issue with you. If one person is iffy, well maybe that will happen. But half the staff is a lot of people to not be sure about a possible co-worker.

    Regardless if you felt connected with the the staff or not they did not feel connected with you. No ones fault, just happens sometimes.

    Like Alison said I would find out exacty what the issue is. And what does ” we can work on that” mean? Because what is she going to do? Fix you? Fix you to fit their culture? I would have a real problem with that. Walking into a job already knowing I need to be fixed?

    And even if you get some answers from her on those questions what about the staff? Are they going to magically no longer feel you have an ” edge” ?

    I would definately see what is up as it can help you in the future for other interviews and interactions. Maybe you are giving off something funky. Maybe not.

    But as for this job…. I’d be really thinking hard if this will ultimately be a good fit as it has aleady started out, before you sit at your desk, as something you are iffy and apparenetly something they are concerened with as well.

    Good Luck !

    1. Hunny*

      I think the hiring manager was looking for skills on paper more than fit. Maybe OP, alone out of all the candidates, has a very important skill set. And I feel like that ominous phrase, “We can fix that”, indicates a huge disinterest in how likely it is that OP would get along with the office culture.

  19. some1*

    “I don’t feel comfortable overriding his instructions to me, but if it’s an issue on your end, it might make sense to work it out with him directly.”

    This will apply to so, so, so many situations when you are an admin because of the nature of the role. I totally hear your frustration when one person is telling you to do one thing and your boss another, and this is the best way to handle it. My biggest hurdle was overcoming the feeling that I am tattling on the person asking me to bend/break policy, but AAM’s wording helps so much with doing this diplomatically.

  20. en pointe*


    I think that going to HR first could potentially be quite damaging to the OP’s relationship with their boss, especially as it seems he’s been instructing the OP not to follow company procedure.

    I would be more inclined to do it the other way around – be direct with the boss and explain the difficult position you are in, as you do not feel comfortable overriding either his instructions or those of HR.

    If he’s not interested in working it out, I would then go to HR but give him a heads-up of sorts.

    Something like, “Okay, that’s fine but unfortunately it still leaves me in a difficult position. Later today, I’ll shoot an email to HR and see if they can’t help us to navigate this, as I obviously can’t do this part of my job effectively while attempting to manage conflicting instructions.”, said neutrally and calmly, (much like the tone of AAM’s proposed email to HR).

    He may be more willing to work it out. He may not be, in which case you can follow through with your email. Either way, it at least eliminates the potential for you to be perceived as “ratting out” your boss.

    1. OP#3*

      I wish I would have said this during a previous conversation. You’re right, it’s likely to be perceived as rattling, and I’m apprehensive about saying anything at all, since the last conversation ended like “I’m the boss and you do what I say”

      1. Gilby*

        Do you have any emails ( and hard copy) regarding this? I mean just a casual email with him instructing you to do this?

        Just in case it gets ugly with HR at least you have a copy of what he has told you to do to cover yourself if needed.

        1. OP#3*

          Yeah I do. I think the easiest thing might be to do what he says and never delete that email. Then he can fight with HR if it comes up. And hopefully I’ll have a new job before that! Haha

          (And I just noticed I combined ratting and tattling into rattling)

          1. Del*

            Absolutely keep that email. In fact, I would print out a hard copy if you can (along with any other documentation you have about this) and keep it at home, not in the office.

  21. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I wouldn’t take the job, if you have other options. I once took a position where it was strongly implied that I just squeaked by and the selecting manager basically told me she didn’t like me but the rest of the committee wanted me. It never got any better.

    That’s not something you need to tell someone you’re making an offer to, unless you’re playing weird mind games and trying to take them down a notch.

    I would pass.

      1. Joey*

        On the other hand I’ve seen the exact opposite. A colleague told a subordinate “I didn’t think you were cut out for this when we hired you, but after seeing your work I’m glad I was outvoted.” Pretty backhanded compliment, but it worked out well.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          Wouldn’t it be better to just say “you worked out well in this job”?

          You can give someone a legit compliment without having to insult them a little at the same time.

          1. Hunny*

            I disagree. I think “You made me change my mind” demonstrates some humility. It could also make compliments stronger because it shows that it’s not shallow praise, that the achievements were truly notable.

            Exception: if the compliment-er has a history of downplaying or refusing to acknowledge a persons skill and begrudgingly says “I guess you did ok.”

  22. Mike B. (@epenthesis)*

    #4 – Unless you’ve outright dismissed the idea of a career in banking, this person sounds like an amazing contact. Keep in touch through your graduation date; even if this isn’t a good time for you, he’ll probably be hiring again in the future.

  23. anon-2*

    #5 – I once worked in a place that didn’t really care about its people. I was a shift supervisor, I reported to an operations manager.

    There was one gentleman I worked with. He had taken three days off for illness – he couldn’t breathe, coughing constantly. The ops manager threatened him — “if you take any more sick time…”, etc.

    He went to the company doctor, who gave him a bottle of cough medicine, he went back to work.

    I was working with him on the Saturday following his “medical visit”. He was coughing. He was TURNING BLUE. I ordered him home. I told him to get medical help. He lived in my immediate area, I gave him a list of four doctors, told him call any of them Monday, drop my name, they will see you.

    Comes Monday. I get pulled into the office – by the Op Manager, who begins screaming at me for “sending that goldbrickin’ … home”.

    Just then the phone rings. It’s my subordinate’s wife. She explains –

    – her husband had walking pneumonia
    – x-rays showed he had blood clots in his lungs and any one of them could have broken loose and killed him
    – he is now in intensive care at the hospital , and on coagulants
    – he’s gonna be out for a month

    And I said to the boss after the call ended “ah, you were sayin’?”‘

    If you’re sick get to a doctor. If the ones the company sends you to aren’t helping , get another one. And , you may have to get a lawyer (uh managers engage in certain bodily functions when they hear “work-related injury”, “workman’s comp”, and “let me see what my lawyer says, OK”) … if you work in an auto plant, you’re probably unionized — talk with your union steward before hiring a lawyer.

    But before that, get to a doctor.

    1. Confused*

      There was a story on TV about a people who worked in coal mines and ended up with black lung. The doctor on the company payroll dismissed most claims when people really had black lung and cancer, as confirmed by other doctors. Some even died due to lack of treatment.
      Here is the story:

      Just a heads up, there’s a difference between doctor who work for the company and doctors who are in the wc insurance network.
      I hope you feel better, OP!

  24. Anonymous*

    #1 – I once participated in a group interview that really went poorly. It was clear the candidate did not have the experience we needed. Her personality certainly was more rare in our workplace, but it was the lacking in her answers that was our problem. The hiring manager focused only on the personality differences, since they really wanted this hire, and not on our input. In the end it was a horrible decision. I wish the HM had not been so blind to our input that they justified our criticism as merely “being on edge”.

    OP, it’s possible that the crew had other concerns that are being misinterpreted. Is there any area you were weak? If you decided to take the job, it would smooth your entry by focusing on bringing those up to speed.

  25. Nancypie*

    #4 – based on what you described, it doesn’t sound to me like so much of a job opportunity as an offer to stay in touch for mentoring, and job/network assistance in that field.

    1. Hunny*

      Thank goodness someone else read it that way. If I told a college student, “Contact me if you are interested in my industry” I would be thinking of informational interviews, not job openings. I also got the impression that the banker was on the invesrment/management side and OP’s friend was looking for a service-type position like a teller. But that might be way off.

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