I’m being evaluated by a manager who just started last week, my interviewers ignored me, and more

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

1. I’m being evaluated by a manager who just started last week

My new boss has been with our organization (a state agency) for one week. She has banking experience, which is hardly applicable, and a long history of management experience. Aside from the lack of experience, she has an awful work ethic and is an overall textbook bad manager. I have just recently learned that she will be doing our office’s employee evaluations this month. I can’t see how she’s qualified to be in that position, let alone to provide performance feedback for the past year. I take my career seriously and I value good constructive feedback. Am I being overly negative or is there a positive aspect that I’m not seeing?

Yeah, it’s pretty silly to have someone evaluate you who’s only worked with you a few weeks. However, managers sometimes get pushed into this position when they’re new, it’s evaluation time, and there’s no one else to do it. If I were in your shoes, I’d approach this as if she were competent, just new and try to make the process easy for both of you: Give her a self-evaluation ahead of time, laying out what your goals were for the year and how well you’ve met each of them, as well as information about any additional achievements you’ve had this year. The more information she has about your performance, the better, so take it upon yourself to supply her with that information.

2. My interviewers ignored me during a lull for technical difficulties

I had an interview this afternoon that didn’t go very well. To make a long story short, I was supposed to present, as part of the interview, a technology-based library program that I had created, and unfortunately, the internet was not cooperating. I was interviewed by a panel of five, and while the library director spent 20-30 minutes trying to work out the technology issues, the other interviewers talked amongst themselves, texted, played with the cell phones, etc. After about 10 minutes of this, I decided to engage them in conversation, but had I said nothing, I would have sat there the entire time twiddling my thumbs. Is this acceptable behavior? I have a sneaking suspicion that if I had pulled out my cell phone and started texting during the lull in the interview, this would not have been looked upon very favorably.

Depending on what type of library it was, there’s a chance that they’re operating under insane hiring rules that some government agencies and universities operate under, which are sometimes (mis)interpreted as not allowing your interviewers to engage with you outside of a specific list of questions that they’re asking everyone. (That makes for terrible hiring, but so be it.) Or, alternately, they were just being rude, possibly because they were thinking of you not as a professional colleague but as an “other” who they were there to assess.

3. I’m frustrated that my coworkers constantly miss work

I work at a small office that has less than 20 people. We get X number of paid off days a year (10 days until you reach 4 years, then it’s 15), which are used for vacation, personal and sick time. When you run out, you’re still allowed to take time off, but you just don’t get paid for it. There are no hard and fast rules about this anywhere, which is part of the problem. There are 2 particular employees who call off ALL THE TIME. One is a younger woman; this is her first professional job and she’s our receptionist. So when she calls off, the entire rest of the staff (meaning the assistants, not the attorneys) have to cover the phones all days. Typically I end up working 2 and a half hours up there when she calls off. We can remotely log onto our desk computers from hers to access our emails, files, etc., but only if the phones aren’t busy. We can’t take or make phone calls, because we have to be able to answer the phones. The other person who calls off is a long-time employee. He apparently has been doing this for years. I would estimate that they both call off every 6 weeks or so. The long-term employee has informed me, which defending himself about how much he calls off, that he has emotional issues (anxiety, depression from the loss of his father almost 2 years ago) and physical problems. He said that our boss knows about his situation. They both call off if there is snow on the ground; I live close to the long term employee and offered to give him a ride (he typically takes the bus) and he refused. They both talk crap about each other for calling off so much. Not to mention, the receptionist is late all the time, meaning more time spent up there covering for her. This makes the rest of the staff resentful of both of them.

Am I (and the others who complain) just a bunch of huge jerks? It’s hard to give someone the benefit of the doubt when they are off so much. Since the beginning of this year alone, the older employee has missed 5 and 1/2 days of work and the receptionist has been off probably 4 or 5 times. None of them are ever required to bring a doctor’s note. Some of these times, I really do know that they are sick and shouldn’t be at work but where is the line in the sand? I’ve suggested to the older employee that he go get his immune system screened because I’ve never seen a person who gets sick all the time that doesn’t have some type of deficiency. The office manager and the owner/boss of the office are both well aware of the situation and have even made comments about how much they call off, yet nothing is ever done. The older employee actually told me that I should just start calling off if I want to, that everyone else would be allowed to like he does, which I do not believe.

No, you’re not huge jerks. Your reaction is pretty natural. However, your resentment should be directed less at your coworkers and more at their managers, who are the ones who are allowing this to continue (and complaining about it to other employees, no less, which is incredibly lame when they have the power to do something about it and apparently aren’t).

(Also, for whatever it’s worth, 10 days off a year, including sick leave, is very stingy. That doesn’t excuse your coworkers’ absenteeism, which sounds excessive, but it’s another reason to be annoyed with your employer.)

4. Can my employer require me to attend a political rally?

I currently work on an Indian reservation doing some back-end IT work. I was recently informed that in the next few weeks I will be required to attend a political rally for an upcoming state initiative that will negatively affect the casino if passed. While I work on an Indian reservation, the rally will be at the state capitol, maybe 30 minutes away which bus transportation will be provided. In addition, time spent at the rally will be paid at my normal rate, so it would essentially be an 8-hour day at a political rally. I would not be required to make up the time. I asked what happens if I refuse to attend, and was told that at a minimum I would be written up and not paid that day and possibly fired. It was also implied that by not attending, I was singling myself out if they required layoffs in the near future since I wouldn’t be a “team player.”

Can an employer require an employee to attend a political rally regardless of their stance on the actual issue?

Well, some states (like California, Louisiana, and Washington) prohibit employers from directing the political activities of employees and others (like Massachusetts, Mississippi, Oregon, and Wisconsin) prohibits employers from requiring employees to provide any political service as a condition of employment. (These laws generally make exceptions for jobs that are political in nature.) However, if you’re being paid to perform specific activities (as sounds like would be the case here), the law isn’t clear. My hunch is that it’s probably allowed, but you’d need to talk to a lawyer in your state to be sure.

5. Can I be fired for not clocking in early?

I’m employed at a security company and my schedule is 11-7. But I’m constantly being written up and threatened with termination because I’m not clocking in 15 minutes before my shift. I’m told that my shift starts at 10:45, but I’m not getting paid for the 8 hrs and 15 minutes; I’m only getting paid 8 hours a shift. Does me clocking in on time before 11 and not at 10:45 warrant termination?

Wait, they’re requiring you to clock in at 15 minutes early and threatening to fire you for not doing that, but they don’t want to pay you for the time? That’s illegal. If you’re required to be there (clocked in or not), they must pay you for that time.

{ 333 comments… read them below }

  1. Anon*

    #1 – When I started my current management position, I discovered that several of my direct reports had performance reviews coming due very soon (my organizations has them due on employee’s anniversary of hire) and that my predecessor had left me no employee files. Fun times. I was able to negotiate a 3-month reprieve but in the end, the reviews had to get done because that was when the union contract said they had to get done. So I wouldn’t blame the manager but the policy forcing them to write the reviews so close to her start date.

    I do find it curious that the OP is describing their new manager’s work ethic as “awful” based on one week of work. I suppose it’s possible the new manager is spectacularly bad. But I can’t help but suspect that OP isn’t really giving the new manager much of a chance, too. That’s not going to be conducive to a good long-term working relationship, and I can guarantee that the new manager will pick up on the hostility sooner rather than later.

    1. EngineerGirl*

      I was coming here to make the same comment. After a single week the OP has decided that the manager:
      * an awful work ethic
      * is an overall textbook bad manager
      * can’t see how she’s qualified to be in that position

      Do you really want to be judged by the same standard you’ve judged others? Because that is exactly what you’re complaining about.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes that was my first thought as well. How can the OP be so sure that the new manager’s work ethic is so terrible after only a single week?

        1. The Clerk*

          If she’s been saying or doing things like “That’s not my job description” or “I don’t get paid enough to _____,” for example, then it actually makes it worse that she’s only been there a week, because typically people are on their best behavior at first. If she does those things now, it’s not going to magically get better later. And I think it would have to be pretty extreme behavior for the OP to pinpoint it as work ethic and bad management–I doubt she’d have that kind of reaction if it was just taking too long to answer email or something.

          1. Op #1*

            Thank you. I am shocked that instead answering my question, I am being written off as overly harsh. This lady is well known in our community for being unprofessional, manipulative, back stabbered..etc. I’m certainly cautious but I am fair. I am helping her to adjust and training her on as much as I can, but I can’t accept that she will be providing my performance review and she has no idea of the progress I have made this past year.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m confused here. I did answer your question, quite directly, in the post. Commenters are commenting on other aspects of it, certainly, but what makes you feel that you didn’t get a direct answer in the original post above?

              1. Op #1*

                I’m sorry. I was referencing the commenters. I very much appreciate your answer and I am going to prepare my self evaluation for her to look over. I am shocked at the amount of negative feedback. I kept my question brief but apparently I left out some key details.

      2. en pointe*

        This exactly.

        OP, how you can you claim that it’s unfair for your manager to judge you after only a few weeks when you, yourself, are judging her (and rather vehemently), after only one week?

        Give her a chance to find her feet.

      3. LAI*

        Yes, I have to agree with everyone here. While it’s certainly possible to start picking up on warning signs during someone’s first week at work, the absoluteness of the OP’s statements seem stronger than could be warranted after such a short time.

        Also, my company has union contracts stating that employees must have a performance evaluation filed each year by a certain date in order for the employee to qualify for a merit increase, so I can easily understand why a brand-new manager might be required to do the paperwork even if it doesn’t really make sense.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, I had to have an evaluation really early in my job too. They did it as a new employee evaluation, but it was really weird setting goals, etc. when I hadn’t been here long enough to know what was going on.

          Alison’s suggestion of bringing the materials to the table is great; that will help the manager immensely. If that were me, I would be overjoyed to see an employee show up so prepared.

        2. Op #1*

          I have prior knowledge of her management style. Solid references from prior employees. We live in a small community, where everyone knows everyone so to speak. I am certain of her unprofessional work ethic.

          1. Matlock61*

            Is it safe to assume that whoever hired her had access to the same information as you? Yet, she was hired? Ever wonder if your grapevine has root rot?

            Something to consider, methinks.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        I would expect to be helping the new boss get situated in her new job. I am wondering if OP is helping her at all. This is a great way for the boss to learn something about OP and OP’s abilities. It also makes for less tension, if there is some kind of communication going on.

        Everyone sucks at their job the first week. That is just a fact. If someone wants to prove a new worker is lousy they probably will.

        Generally. (not always, though) when I see a reaction like this it is because there are problems that start in upper management. The new boss is simply a pawn in an on-going dispute with TPTB.

        I had a new job where after a period of time I was up for an eval. In that short time frame I had several new bosses. (Yes, bosses kept quitting and the company kept finding new replacements.)I asked how I could be sure of getting a fair evaluation. (I did not care if it was a good eval, I just wanted a fair assessment of my work. And I said that point blank.) I was told to expect a good assessment. I think everyone ended up getting a good evaluation because of their willingness to tend to business as usual despite the changes in management.
        There is something to be said for willingness to weather the changes in the workplace. (Not helping a new person is just bad karma, too. But that has been my experience.)

        1. Op #1*

          I actually have solid references from her previous employees and coworkers. I am from a small community. It’s easy to assume I’m being overly critical because of jealousy, or whatever reason, but I have a genuine concern or I wouldn’t have posted.

    2. Chinook*

      My first thought as well – there is rarely anyway to judge an employee’s work ethic and competency in the first week since there is always a learning curve and large chunks of time spent getting oriented.

    3. Anonymous*

      I agree completely with this. After 1 week I’ve been wrong about bad and good managers. Unless they are being really absurdly comically bad keep an open mind.

      And especially managers often have to spend a lot of time learning the ropes of leadership and upper management the first couple weeks which can seem like wasted time to their staff. (My director who talked to me once during her first week and that was very short and brusque? Amazing manager!)

    4. Lindsay J*

      Yes, this jumped out at me as well. I feel like unless the new manager is just an exceptionally bad manager and awful person, those are pretty harsh conclusions to come to after just one week.

    5. Anonymous*

      Thought that was interesting too. OP doesn’t think the manager can judge his or her performance after a week, but s/he is certainly judging the manager’s!

      1. Op #1*

        I will never be evaluating the manager so it doesn’t really matter my opinion of her. Assuming I have a basis for my judgment, which I do, how would you handle someone evaluating you for an entire year worth of work? A year worth of blood, sweat, and tears on a couple of weeks of her meaningless observations? I suspect my review will be very vague and middle of the road. How would that make you feel?

        1. Marcy*

          I know how you feel. I ended up with a new boss (new to me, not to my employer) a couple of months ago and at first HR said he had to do my evaluation, even though my old boss had just done one right before I ended up with new boss. I’ve been told by his other employees that he doesn’t believe in giving scores higher than three (on a scale of 1-5). So essentially, in just three months, my evaluation would go from fours and fives down to all threes. I was lucky enough that HR decided it was silly to do it so soon after the last one after all so he won’t do one now until next year and I can worry about it then. For you, though, if it ends up average, maybe you could find a way add your own comments to it describing everything you’ve done throughout the year. At least then, it would be part of the record if anyone looks. That is what I was thinking of doing in my case.

    6. Jillian*

      If the evaluations are based on hard data regarding performance, it could be reasonable for anyone to go over the information with the employee. The hard part would be setting goals for the new year.

  2. James M*

    I’m going to have to disagree with AAM on #5. It sounds like OP5 is expected to clock in early, but not start actual work until 11. As such, the 15 minutes could be seen as a mandatory off-the-clock daily event.

    Yes it sucks, and your manager should have made the requirement clear when you started the job. But if you want to get paid for every minute _you_ give up, become a consultant.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But they’re requiring her to be on-site and she can’t leave (presumably), so that’s work time and should be paid. Or are you reading it differently than that?

      1. James M*

        I interpreted it along the lines of “required unpaid attendance” as per https://www.askamanager.org/2008/03/required-attendance-at-weekend-event.html

        There’s not much info to go on, but I think if attendance is required, but not actual work, the employer could get away with not paying the attendees’ normal wages.

        From a different perspective, I don’t get paid for the time I spend commuting to/from my workplace. Of course I didn’t expect to get paid for it, and I didn’t try to negotiate for reimbursement, but it’s still time I have to forfeit for work.

        I also wonder if OP5 knew about the early clock-in when she took the job.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope, if attendance is required and the employee is non-exempt, they’re required to pay for the time. (In the post you linked to, that’s about the employer being allowed to make an off-hours events mandatory — but they’d still need to pay non-exempt employees for their time attending it.

          1. James M*

            Yes… I was looking back through some older posts here and I see that you are correct. An employee is due compensation for required time spent at the workplace.

            For whatever reasons, OP5’s company feels entitled to require an extra 15 minutes of her time every day. I still feel like there is more to the story though.

            1. Ollie*

              “I still feel like there is more to the story though.”

              I’m just wondering what they’re expected to do for those extra 15 minutes that they’re supposed to be at work. I’m thinking they just have to be there 15 minutes early to make sure they’re on time and ready to take over for the previous shift of security. Mandatory unpaid earliness would be a pretty crappy way to make sure people are on time.

              1. AdminAnon*

                My previous retail job required employees to be on location 15 minutes prior to each shift, but we were not on the clock and not expected to do any work. I didn’t mind, because I was friendly with nearly all of my co-workers and it was a bookstore with a coffee shop on-site, so it was not an unpleasant place to kill time for 15 minutes. I can definitely see how it would be a pain, though, especially if the employer is expecting OP to be on the clock/working but unpaid. That’s just not ok.

              2. Lindsay J*

                I’m guessing this is the case.

                When I first started my current job they made it clear that they wanted me here 15 minutes early so that I would be ready and prepared to clock in on time.

                I pushed back a little initially, however I decided it wasn’t the hill I wanted to die on so now I come in early, touch up my makeup, grab a soda, and I’m happy and they’re happy.

              3. dahllaz*

                Rules at my job that was explained to me when I became the supervisor: I can NOT require staff to be at work before their shift starts. If their shift starts at 1600, I can’t tell them to be on site at 1555. They ARE required to be working and at their post at their assigned shift start.

                I had an employee who thought because they were on site, they were not late, but they were not relieving the other employee until after their shift officially started. Of course, they then became angry with me when I tried to counsel them about that…fun times.

                I explain to new employees they have to be at their post at the start time, but they can arrive on site in whatever amount of time they need to start at that time.

            2. Mike C.*

              Why do you feel there is more to the story? Lots of businesses have tried to get away with this garbage.

            3. Joey*

              This is actually a pretty common way employers milk a few extra minutes out of employees, sometimes intentional and sometimes out of ignorance, although most employers aren’t so bold (and dumb) to discipline employees for it. I really don’t see any other explanation for it.

            4. AmyNYC*

              When I worked retail we were expected to be there on time – which meant clock in at 11, but if you need to 15 minutes to take off your coat, wash your hands, gather your stuff for the sales floor… you should be there at 10:45.
              Maybe this is just a bad way of explaining this concept?

              1. Jamie*

                I agree with it being an issue if someone clocks in and needs 15 minutes to get situated – but for us non-exempt are paid for all time clocked in. So that would be a conversation about being ready to work when you clock in, not having unpaid clocked time.

              2. Ollie*

                That makes sense. It’s fair to expect employees to be ready to work at a specific time, and to expect them to come early enough to give themselves extra time to prepare (get coffee, take off coat, etc.).

                I think it’s crappy to designate how early you have to be though. Like, I will get to work 10 to 15 minutes before I need to be to make sure there is a “time cushion” in case there’s a problem while I’m getting ready to leave my house or on my commute. That way I’m never late. If I had to be there 15 minutes early to clock in, then I’d need to be about half an hour early everyday if I still wanted that time cushion.

                1. Caleb*

                  This pretty common in security…and the employer usually does literally mean “start work 15 mins early w/o pay”….this is to allow time to turn over equipment and go through a shift briefing/log in to the computer etc. I have been told to write people up for not being early but I refuse to.

            5. Anonymous*

              If it turns out the employer is having them hug puppies for 15 minutes before hand to improve their mood, they still have to be paid for that 15 minutes.

              And if it turns out that 99% of the time people are late and they just want staff there on time, they still have to be paid for that 15 minutes (if they are there).

        2. LAI*

          But the commute analogy isn’t the same at all because your employer doesn’t require you to spend time commuting. You control your commute. If you don’t want to spend time commuting, you could buy a house closer to work or sleep in your office.

          1. James M*

            I know it’s a weak comparison; it’s the fringe cases that test the logical consistency of an idea.

            Of course, since we’re talking about a legal issue, logic is irrelevant. I have a superpower that lets me adjust my opinions when I gain new information… which I’ve done here.

            1. Anonymous*

              It isn’t a weak comparison at all, it’s not a comparison. I take about 7 minutes to walk into work every morning. My coworker who lives forever away takes nearly an hour. She doesn’t get paid more than me and we both have to be at work on time, not a minute before. The employer doesn’t demand I live 7 minutes away or her an hour away. We both made reasoned personal decisions about that.

            2. Min*

              “I have a superpower that lets me adjust my opinions when I gain new information…”

              I love this. So many people are lacking that power.

      2. James M*

        Here’s a mini AAM remix of bosses whose expectations cross lines, legal and otherwise:
        https://www.askamanager.org/2013/10/required-to-read-a-self-help-book-manager-calls-us-old-and-more.html (#3)
        https://www.askamanager.org/2013/10/my-company-wont-pay-for-bathroom-breaks-nicknames-when-applying-for-jobs-and-more.html (#3)
        https://www.askamanager.org/2014/01/i-dont-like-the-restrictions-on-my-severance-employer-is-changing-pay-rate-every-week-and-more.html (#5)

    2. Josh S*

      There’s no such thing as a “Mandatory off-the-clock daily event”–at least not legally. If you’re required to be there (mandatory) for work, you have to be paid for that time. You’re on the clock, whether you’ve swiped in or not.

      IIRC, there was a case where the employer was required to pay employees for the time they had to be at work to change into a work uniform (that they weren’t allowed to take home). So even the mandatory time spent *preparing* to work, if it’s mandatory, must be paid.

      If your work requires you to be present and swipe in at 10:45, then you need to be paid for that time.

      1. EngineerGirl*

        I think it was clean room garments, and getting scrubbed for the clean room. The company argued that they weren’t working. The judge saw it differently.

        1. TychaBrahe*

          In California, since prison guards are required to be armed at all time on the premises, they are paid from the moment they leave their cars until the moment they return to them.

      2. MentalEngineer*

        In fact, the Supreme Court heard a case earlier this term where the point at issue was whether certain types of protective clothing counted as special equipment that required workers to be paid while changing, or were close enough to normal clothes that they were more like a uniform and did not require workers to be paid (Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, if anyone is wondering).

      3. Elysian*

        There are lots and lots and lots of cases on the topic of whether activities done in preparation for work are “work” themselves and should be paid. It’s a very complex area of the law.

  3. kas*

    2. Was it possible for you to present without technology? I would’ve presented anyway to avoid the awkwardness, touching on the main points and then possibly sent the presentation after the interview.

    1. Another Emily*

      Yes. Ignoring you wasn’t cool, but a good lesson from all this is always bring hard copies of any presentation you’re doing.

      1. LAI*

        Aside from all that, I’d say that you learned something about the culture in this office and that’s useful information in deciding whether it’s the right job for you.

    2. CGC*

      I eventually did end up presenting without the technology. I waited so long for the director to work out the technology issue b/c I had spent a considerable amount of time creating a website for this presentation, and it was kind of my “wow” factor.

  4. KarenT*


    How could you possibly know she’s a textbook bad manager and has a bad work ethic! She’s been there a week!

    1. The Clerk*

      The manager could have done or said some pretty egregious things in that time. The first day my old manager took over, he a) changed the schedule so a Jewish employee had to work Friday night because “she can’t be Jewish, her last name is Smith*”, b) hid in the office for 6 hours rearranging things to his liking and ridiculing people who needed him to, you know, manage, and c) referred to a former employee he’d known in our other location as “the dyke.”

      There are behaviors that can’t be excused by how long you’ve been there. The OP could have every reason to be alarmed.

    2. some1*

      At a previous company, I got pulled into a dept mtg by my boss’s boss to tell us our manager had been let go, and two co-workers in the dept, Betty and Jane, were being moved up and the rest of us would now be supervised by one of them. I was now under Jane, who had been a coworker and friend I’d socialized with outside of work.

      I really liked and respected my boss, and I was reeling from the news because I didn’t know why it had happened. I told Jane that I was sorry and surprised at the news about our old boss, but congratulated her on her promotion (in a serious tone).

      She replied, “Some1, you’re fired!” and started laughing hysterically at her own joke.

      Making a joke in poor taste doesn’t necessarily make someone a bad manager, but at that moment Jane immediately changed. She became basically drunk on her new power and started micro-managing everyone (even people she didn’t manage), and complained in every conversation I had with her that she hadn’t been given an office yet.

      So, yeah, I think you can definitely spot major red flags about a manager in the first week.

      1. KarenT*

        I agree you can spot red flags in a week, but this OP sounds like she has her mind made up.
        And I get where you’re coming from, but your situation is different to me because your new manager was a known quantity to you. A new manager coming from outside the company would take a lot longer than a week to settle in and see what was going on.
        And even if the manager said/did something awful, that doesn’t address the poor work ethic. I would think most managers would spend the first week settling in/getting to know the team, or being in training, and otherwise not getting much done.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Exactly. I had a boss that I clashed with from just about his first day on the job. I had a very bad vibe about him, and we had a couple of meetings and other interactions where it was clear that we probably would not make beautiful music together.

          All that being said though, I bent over backwards to give him the benefit of the doubt for the first month or 2 that I worked for him. I told myself that maybe we had just gotten off on the wrong foot, and we could smooth things over. I extended an olive branch to him by telling him things that his predecessor had done when she took them job that helped her get up to speed pretty quickly, but I was rebuffed. I told myself that he was likely getting a very one-sided story about his team and the state of things from upper management, who had very unrealistic expectations and whose answer to any problem was to just work more hours. I really, really tried to see things from his point of view, because at the time I was pregnant and so I knew I was much more emotional (and sometimes downright irrational) than was the norm for me. After all that trying, though, nothing helped. I ended up leaving that group.

          In retrospect, I think it was just a very bad mix of personalities, and we just had a way of bringing out some of the worst in each other. And like in any situation, if you really look at things you did/didn’t do or said/didn’t say with a critical eye, I was able to see that there were things I could have done differently that might have changed the outcome. But…I tried, really hard, for quite awhile, before I wrote him off as a jerk.

  5. Stephanie*


    Are the laws possibly different since you’re on an Indian reservation? Is the tribe’s corporation (or whatever entity oversees the casino) technically your employer? Not sure of the answer myself, but I’m wondering if that might affect things since its their jurisdiction.

    1. vvondervvoman*

      That’s what I was wondering. I would think that at least some employment laws wouldn’t apply on a rez but people working there and living in the state would pay their income taxes for example, since their still citizens/residents of the US (presumably not living on the rez).

      A quick google search leaves me confused about which laws apply and which don’t, but I get the impression that the default is the tribe’s sovereign immunity, and specific cases could force a state/federal law to apply on the rez.

      1. Chinook*

        Whether or not someone pays taxes for moneys earned on the reserve has more to do with their status than their residency. When I lived/worked on a reserve, I was subject to full taxes with my employer, the band, paying the employer portion and submitting my deductions as I am not treaty indian. This status can also be lost if a woman marries someone without status (in some tribes) even if they continue to live there. It is more of a case of your taxes are based on residency/status but labour laws are based on where you physically work.

        1. De Minimis*

          Federal tax applies to all employees, tribal and otherwise. State tax can vary depending on the state—some states will allow tribal members to be exempt from state income tax if they work for their tribe and also live on tribal land [that’s the rule in my state.] I’ve also heard of states that give exemptions from other taxes, like sales tax.

        2. vvondervvoman*

          Oh yes, I’m sure it’s more complicated if you’re Native, I was assuming that OP isn’t, since it wasn’t mentioned. I didn’t even imagine a non-Native person could live on a reservation independently/without some other tie besides a job.

          “Treaty Indian” –is that the status determined by each individual tribe?

          1. Chinook*

            Like Natalie said, Treaty Indian is a Canadian legal status for those whom the Indian Act applies. It usually requires tribal membership (as decided by the tribe) but can also apply to Metis and Inuit and isn’t necesarily tied to place of residence for them. Non-natives in Canadda can live on tribal land with tribal permission. Often non-members who work for a band in a remote area have their housing provided as part of their contract (I.em my rent came directly off my pay cheque for the teacherage I lived in).

            I have repeatedly said that this is the Canadian experience because the US experience is very different but, if there are treaties in play, then the principle is the same.

    2. The Clerk*

      This was my first thought. It’s always been my understanding that when you work on a reservation you’re basically SOL when it comes to the labor laws you’re used to.

    3. Elysian*

      Indeed – tribal reservations are quasi-sovereign and can have their own laws on some things. You should consult with a lawyer who practices in tribal sovereignty (if you live near a reservation there ought to be a bunch of choices).

    4. Vicki*

      #4 (Can my employer require me to attend a political rally?)

      On the one hand, some people will say “Eh. You’re being paid to take a bus trip. Why complain?”

      On the other hand, from the letter, the OP is not being asked to attend in the capacity of their job (i.e., as the backend IT support person, the employer didn’t say, “we need you to make sure our equipment is working at the rally.”) That means they’re paying the OP to attend a rally.

      I doubt it would be legal to pay someone to vote, or vote a certain way, or canvass for voters, or stand on a street corner waving a sign for a particular candidate or cause. I would therefore lean on the side of shady, if not outright illegal, to pack all the employees on a bus and pay them to attend a rally.

  6. Chronically ill commentor*

    #3: and please stop commenting on your co-worker’s health to him, including suggestions about what to get checked for. He’s not required to tell you if he has a chronic illness, and you really don’t need to know that to do your job.

    1. Amber*

      #3 I have to agree with this comment. Being “sick” doesn’t not have to mean you have a cold, it just means you’re not well enough to work. Sometimes people have chronic issues (mentor or physical) which would prevent them randomly from working while the person still looks fine on the outside. You already said it yourself “When you run out, you’re still allowed to take time off, but you just don’t get paid for it.” It sounds like that is your company policy. Live with it and stop complaining about your co-workers health OR find a different job. Sometimes if a person has a health condition that they know will require them to take a lot of time of work, then they get lucky enough to find a job that is flexible like that, they stay there because that benefit is important to them. That benefit is clearly not important to you so stop blaming those that use it.

      1. anonymous*

        I agree here with that idea that being “sick” doesn’t necessarily mean the typical cold and that you can be sick without appearing to be sick. I have a chronic condition that has caused me to miss work when it flares up because of nausea (or fatigue from not sleeping or eating because of a night or day of nausea). Even if I’m having a bad week health-wise, but not so bad that I have to miss every day of work, the days I come in I look fine (I don’t want people to know I’m feeling crappy so I do my best to seem “fine”).

      2. Jessa*

        Exactly and if the bosses are letting them, it’s possible that ill co-worker is taking intermittent FMLA, or has a reasonable accommodation in place about their hours/calling off.

        Just because it inconveniences you, doesn’t necessarily mean the employee is doing anything wrong, or that management is not doing their job.

        1. JM*

          I don’t even think the long-term employee affects the OP, but if they comment on the receptionist taking off all the time then they have to comment on him as well. He already said that the boss is aware of his situation so I think at this time you should let it go.

        2. VictoriaHR*

          I came here to post that as well. I remember when I worked in a call center, there was a gal dealing with personal health issues. She had a FMLA deal that if she was having anxiety, she could call off without getting in trouble for it, even if she had no paid days available. People grumbled because she was out a lot, but it wasn’t our call – it was management’s.

          If the male coworker in the OP’s scenario said his boss is aware of his issues, I say that it’s probably something similar, he’s got a chronic condition, and he’s possibly got an FMLA arrangement in which the company is legally required to let him have the time off when he needs it. OP, stay out of it. Commenting on his health could get you in trouble if it IS an FMLA agreement, because he could cite harassment based on a health issue.

    2. Juli G.*

      This! It sounds like you work at a law firm OP2. If any of the lawyers took an employment law class, they will probably tell you exactly what our EL lawyer says “You are not a doctor.”

    3. FiveNine*

      Yes, I was a little taken aback with the OP’s first comment indicating she had bugged the coworker enough that he had actually felt he had to explain to her his situation. And then OP continued to get into his business. Very intrusive and uncomfortable.

    4. themmases*

      I was coming down to say the same thing. OP #3’s comments to their coworkers sound incredibly rude and intrusive, and honestly kind of ignorant. If someone has depression and anxiety, some of their sick time is probably for that. Suggesting that there is some other kind of “deficiency” and the person should get their “immune system screened” is just nonsense and really none of the OP’s business.

      Also, speaking as someone with depression and anxiety, it is not common for people to be out in the open about mental health problems at their office unless the problem is so severe that they feel they (rightly or wrongly) owe their manager or coworkers a more specific explanation than generic poor health. This coworker sounds like he has fairly severe health challenges or has been pushed pretty hard by the OP if he’s at the point of discussing them with someone who is obviously hostile to him. The OP needs to back off.

    5. Anne*

      “Am I (and the others who complain) just a bunch of huge jerks?”

      Yes. (Okay, no, I agree with Alison that it is a natural reaction, but good lord, lay off the chronically ill co-worker.)

      Everyone else has gone over it pretty well, but what really bugged me was the comment about “depression from the loss of his father almost 2 years ago”. I might be reading too much into it, but it felt to me like the OP included that note about when the father died as if to say “STILL depressed about this?! Almost two years later?!”

      OP, it is entirely possible to be very depressed by the death of a parent years later. Grief is not a simple thing that you deal with for X amount of time and then no longer have to worry again. There is no set amount of time it take to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, and no two people experience mourning in exactly the same way.

      My dad died ten years ago and it still really gets me down sometimes.

        1. Jamie*

          It will be 20 years for me this year and I still miss mine every day, and yep sometimes still cry.

          I agree with others that the OP needs to stop worrying about why people are out, and certainly stop with the medical advice (wth?) and focus on the issues it poses for the workplace and expect management to address those.

          The whys are none of anyone’s business.

        2. en pointe*

          My dad died 3.5 years ago and I feel the same way. Sometimes, right when I wake up, there’s a few moments where I’m able to pretend I don’t remember.

          The dismissiveness of the OP made me wince. As Anne said, everyone is different, but it’s not generally something you get over in a week.

          1. Aunt Vixen*

            Just over a year and a quarter for me, and there are still times I can’t understand how it can possibly be that he’s gone. (And every time it’s like it just happened, but without the numbing shock for insulation.)

            Sorry – surely this isn’t meant to be a support group. But that bit of OP #3’s message was particularly insensitive.

          2. Jamie*

            I don’t think you really ever get over it when you lose someone you love. Time helps and it’s not as acute as it is when it’s fresh, and you can get to the point where you can enjoy the happy memories without the visceral ache most of the time…but you’re never over it in the way you can get over an ex and feel nothing at some point.

            It changes you and the trick is learning to deal with the void.

            I lost both of my parents within 4 months of each other and the first couple of years were brutal. Everything hurt, it was like recovering from a bad accident – I physically grieved.

            I remember the first time I was able to tell a funny story about my mom to someone and it didn’t sting…it was great. I like that I can share who they were with my kids and it’s a happy thing, not painful anymore.

            But there are some moments that hit me out of the blue – decades later – but they pass. I will say holidays are still tough for me. And weirdly enough my dad died within a week of my mom’s birthday and she died within a week of his – and this isn’t something I even keep track of or notice, but my family will tell you I get particularly touchy and squirelly those weeks each year.

            I didn’t even notice that until one year I was complaining about how I didn’t know why I was so crabby and crying so much when it wasn’t PMS and my husband said it was because it was X week…he knew and just took it as a given I knew I got distant and difficult that week. I didn’t even know I was doing that.

            Everyone processes differently and everyone has a different timeline. You have to give yourself time to heal.

            1. en pointe*

              Visceral ache = how I feel, articulated in two short words.

              I found this whole comment insightful. Thank you for sharing.

        3. Rayner*

          Three years this May. It’s what sent me into a tail spin this Christmas – regular as clock work, the time of his death near May, and Christmas. Boom. Instant Deep Depression.

          So yeah. Two years? It doesn’t get any easier. At all.

          1. fposte*

            Well, it often does get easier after a couple of years, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible for it not to.

            1. en pointe*

              It got easier for me. I was 16 and bordering on hysterical for months, but it gradually became a more stoic kind of sadness, one which, for me, was a lot easier to control. Now, I can pretty much keep it from hitting me in the face at times when I need it not to.

              Rayner, I’m so sorry that for you it hasn’t gotten any easier. I hope that, with more time, it will.

              Essentially, mourning doesn’t operate on a schedule. Attempts by anyone to judge the grief of others are deplorable.

        4. esra*

          Yea, mine was last April and honestly I think it almost gets harder. A lot of things don’t hit you till months later. Two years is still pretty fresh when it comes to the loss of an immediate family member.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There is no set amount of time it take to come to terms with the loss of a loved one, and no two people experience mourning in exactly the same way.

        I’m lucky that hasn’t happened yet but not looking forward to it.

        1. Catherine*

          One of the nicest things someone said to me when my father died (27 years ago and the older I get, the more I regret not having him to talk to now) was, “When my dad died, I was rat-shit for a year.”
          That gave me permission to grieve – to hate the Christmas tree, to be angry at other people’s laughter, for example – when the world and a houseful of small children expected me to get over it and get back to normal quickly.

        2. Canadamber*

          I’m so afraid for when that eventually happens to me… Because, well, I mean, like, it WILL happen, and I don’t know how I’ll deal…

          My dad’s mom died a few years ago. It didn’t affect him visibly from what I could see for a long time, but it was a kind of longish process (she got a stroke and died like a week or two weeks later or something), and, Christ, was that ever stressful. I didn’t know her that well, so I felt more sorry for my dad, but I can’t even imagine how tough it must have been for him to have to fly 8 hours overseas alone, deal with the funeral (granted, he has a big family and they were all there), and then when all was said and done to fly back home, all alone. That would be the worst. All the alone time on the plane would just kill me. I mean, yeah, she was old and all, but he never really saw her much as it was, and now he can’t.

          (Our entire family lives in Europe, in two (or three) different countries, and the five of us in my immediate family are the only ones here in Canada.)

          To everyone here who’s lost parents: I can’t relate, but I’m terrified for it to happen to me. I tear up just thinking about it. I can’t even imagine how tough it would be to lose a parent for real. :( I hope you eventually feel better, and can remember mostly the happy memories and not so much the loss.

          1. Judy*

            I’m tearing up right now too. My parents in their late 70’s are still alive, along with my mother-in-law. My dad is the youngest of 13, 9 of whom are still alive. He has 10 living sibling’s spouses. On mom’s side her brother, sister-in-law and brother-in-law are still alive. My mom is the youngest of all of those mentioned at 76.

            The next 10 years will most likely be brutal. There are 24 people over the age of 76 that I respect and love dearly. My favorite aunt just got some fairly bad health news last week, involving the m-word of the c-word.

            1. TychaBrahe*

              In a period of less than three months in 2010 my sister and I lost our grandmother (and last grandparent), our stepmother, and our stepfather. It was absolutely brutal. The only thing I can advise is to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with your loved ones. My grandmother was very sick during the winter of 2010, and the snow and public transportation made it difficult for me to visit her even though I wasn’t that far away. I very much regret not making a better effort on that.

      2. TheExchequer*

        My dad’s deathaversarry was five years this past December. Because it was a car accident (my dad wasn’t at fault) and he had, the month before, had a clean bill of health from the doctor, nobody saw it coming. There are still nights I’ll find myself listening for his key at the lock.

        1. Editor*

          Sudden death is really hard to deal with. My husband died unexpectedly four years ago today, about six months after my dad died after a long illness. I finally turned a corner this year and am coping much better, but sudden, unexpected death has left several people in my support group stunned and bewildered for a long time. My kids, in their early 30s, are still having a hard time coping with such a massive change.

          Listening for the key in the lock may happen for years to come. I’m so sorry your dad died so unexpectedly. My condolences to everyone here who’s grieving — it’s tough.

          OP, I hope you can understand that grief can be complex and difficult and that it often comes and goes, rather than being a series of official stages of a problem that is “cured.” While you may have intended to be helpful, you may have created a different impression. Instead of focusing on the employees who are calling in, why not ask management about hiring and training a substitute receptionist who would be willing to come in on call or adding a part-timer to the staff who could work longer on days the receptionist calls off? You’d have to make a case based on productivity problems, but that would be a more objective approach.

      3. Ann Furthermore*

        Maybe the OP has not lost a parent, and so doesn’t know how strongly it can affect you.

        My dad died 8 years ago, and I still miss him. We all knew it was coming, as he’d been in a slow decline, and was approaching the point where we were going to need to put him into a nursing home. My mom was taking care of him at home, with help from 2 of my other siblings, and me, when I could, but it was getting to the point of him needing professional care. Plus my mother was simply exhausted, as she’d been caring for him, round the clock, for about 5 years. But even though we’d been bracing ourselves for it for months, it still hit us all hard. So while I was thankful that he was no longer suffering, and didn’t have to be in a nursing home (which he would have hated), I still miss him so much. And I so wish that he could have had a chance to meet my daughter.

        So it doesn’t matter how much time has passed, it can still hurt forever.

      4. Chrissi*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one that read it that way. My dad died 7 years ago and I still have periods of depression. Also, I think the 2nd year afterwards was worst than the first for me.

        1. Editor*

          In my grief support group, a lot of us had bad second years. In some cases, it seems to be related to the numbness and depression from the first year — if a person hasn’t been sleeping properly, eating well, exercising and so on, health problems or generally poor metabolism can make trouble that contributes to depression because everything seems to be falling apart and there are fewer physical reserves to deal with it. One person said all the “seconds” just made everything more final — the first Christmas was hard, but the second Christmas confirmed the death.

    6. Anonymous*

      I think #3 falls into the scenario a lot of the questions that come in, where people are pissed at the behavior of their co-workerss, rather than at the managers who allow the behavior. In general, if managers are aware of something and allowing it to continue, that’s the real problem.

      Definitely agree that it was over the line (a lot) to comment on someone else’s health issues. I think OP shoudl approach the manager/s involved and present the issue as how it affects her work. “On the days when Suzy is out it impacts my ability to do my work because X, Y, Z”. If somethignis continually affecting your ability to do work, that’s a problme you can discuss with management.

      Being upset that other people abuse the time off policy (in your opinion) is not really an actionable problem you can bring to management.

    7. KellyK*

      Totally agree with this. The frustration about attendance is understandable, but his health issues are his business.

    8. Kou*

      Abso-freaking-lutely. Get his immune system screened because he’s sick every other month? I can assure you that is not often enough for your doctors to be alarmed, especially since it sounds like this guy already knows he has a chronic issue. And if not, there’s no magic “you get sick too often” blood test that would magically sort the problem– getting sick that often is not only too nonspecific to lead you to much of anything else, but it’s also pretty damn common for tons of people. OP here is working themselves up a lot over some very misguided ideas they seem to have about health.

      And then they say they even know the receptionist is sick, but “where is the line?” The line is whatever helps them get better and keeps everyone else from catching their shenanigans. I’ve been the sickest I’ve ever been in my life for over a week, which will be gloriously unpaid, and I caught it from a sick coworker who refused to call out. This happens all the freaking time and it should not. Do not do that to people.

      1. Sick all the time*

        As someone who works really hard to work within the sick days provided by where ever I work – I am someone who is “sick all the time”. And while I’ve been working with doctors for a while to figure out what’s going on, there is nothing worse for this than benefits packages that bundle sick days with vacation/personal days. If I’m told I get 10 days, or 20 days, or 30 days – I would much rather use all that time to have “vacation/fun” rather than get over a nasty cold/fever/sore throat/etc.

        It just encourages people to come into the office unless they are truly dying. I used to work in a children’s hospital with this policy and it was just ridiculous. Unless people were truly bedridden they’d show up to work because they ‘d much rather have 15 vacation days rather than 10 vacation days and 5 sick days.

  7. Glor*

    #3 — of course, it’s also entirely possible that they both, or one of them, have ADAAA things set up with the employer. I know that for some people at my job, it looks like I come in late and miss a lot of days with absolutely no consequences, but:
    a] I have an existing set of side rules for me, by dint of having had my doctor fill out ADAAA paperwork
    b] it’s not zero consequences. I have a limited number of days I can be late/call out, and outside of that, all the usual rules and write-ups apply.

    That said, please stop gossiping about this, and as Chronically ill commentor said above, STOP giving the guy advice about his own health! Chances are he’s already doing work on it, and you bringing attention to it is both uncomfortable for everyone around, and likely highly embarrassing for him. If he’s got chronic/serious health conditions, there’s already a pretty nasty stigma associated with it [trust me on this!], and you’re kind of going against [what I thought was] accepted social guidelines to avoid discussing that.

  8. Stephanie*


    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought 10 days for everything was stingy! OldJob gave us 10 vacation days and 2 sick days and it was crappy.

    None of them are ever required to bring a doctor’s note.

    Noooooo, these are a giant PITA. Be glad your job doesn’t require you to pay a copay (or worse for a HDHP plan) just to “prove” you have a cold.

    Hard to say about the sick coworker. Every six weeks sounds above average, but not crazy. He might have something chronic like Lyme Disease or MS. Especially with Lyme Disease, the symptoms are so general that his doctor may have not figured it out yet. If the bosses are ok with it, just leave it be.

    Also, they may have already talked to both employees about their absenteeism without your knowledge.

    1. Sandrine*

      My job needs those notes. However, as I am lucky enough to be able to get into my PTO bank before the end of the official-pto-using-rules period, when I’m really not feeling that well, I ask to use one of those instead.

      I only have 6 days left in “that bank” now but I accrue something like 2 per month so plenty enough left to book my May vacation. Heh xD

    2. fposte*

      Or there might be intermittent FMLA involved. I confess that a co-worker who was lecturing me about my health is not someone I’d share my FMLA information with.

      1. Sadsack*

        I don’t think the OP was lecturing the coworker about his health, I think OP was trying to shame him into stopping his absenteeism. I am wondering how OP even started the conversation with someone who does not report to OP. I would never think to say to a coworker, “So, Bob, you are out a lot. What’s up with that?” OP is just rude and should probably pay more attention to his or her own work, and talk to management if there’s an issue due to another coworker’s absence.

        1. fposte*

          I think once you’re telling people they may have a particular thing wrong with them and they should get that checked out by the doctor, it counts as a health lecture even if it’s also absenteeism shaming.

    3. AmyNYC*

      I REALLY wanted to play hooky today because my boyfriend’s office has a snow day but, I have to be super stingy about my PTO since we get the bare minimum (10 vacation, 3 sick).
      This also means I have to explain to my sister that I can either be at her wedding or come home for the holidays but I just cannot do both.

      1. Ornery PR*

        After 3 years, I’m finally working up to 10 PTO days, which include sick days. Our PTO policy is by far the worst benefit we’re offered. Better than nothing, but jeesh.

        1. Stephanie*

          Working up to 10 days total? Yeesh.

          I remember when I worked at a department store back in college, after like six years of service or something, you could get two days of PTO. Retail is the worst.

          1. AVP*

            I insisted that my bosses offer 7 days to our assistants, and lost pst the argument! Jeesh indeed.

            They did agree to implement it in the end. One of them is a former freelancer who doesn’t understand the concept of PTO, and the other (the CEO) does not give a crap about retaining people because I’m the one who has to deal with hiring and training replacements every year when they quit.

            small companies SIGH I miss HR sometimes.

    4. Zillah*

      Yeah, I despise the “doctor’s note” thing. What are we in, middle school? Many of the times that I call out sick, it’s because I have a migraine. The very last thing I want to do when I have a migraine is go see the doctor, and there’s no reason I should have to – I know that moving as little as possible in a dark room will pretty much do it.


      1. Anonymous*

        I’m extremely grateful as well that when I have a migraine my boss doesn’t make me get on a bus with loud noisy smelly people that bumps and did I mention loud and smelly to go into an office full of loud noisy smelly people where everything feels bad and oh I’ll have to talk on a phone too which is excruciating when I have a migraine.

        I can send an email and hide where it is quiet and dark and cool and doesn’t smell like everything.

      2. Windchime*

        When I’m having a migraine that is severe enough to stay home, I wouldn’t even be able to get myself to a doctor without help. I would be too nauseated to drive. My son gets even worse migraines, with a visual aura that’s so bad he can barely see. So yeah, a trip to the doctor for a migraine would be problematic indeed.

        1. Jamie*

          This. A migraine bad enough to call off work and I can’t see out of my right eye and everything is visually distorted. Not to mention vomiting triggered by movement and light. No one wants me on the road in that condition.

            1. Jamie*

              I was diagnosed at 7. I remember telling my teacher I was having a migraine and she told me that I was too young for a migraine and to go sit down.

              I vomited on her desk.

              That’ll teach her to question me.

              1. Ms Enthusiasm*

                Reminds me of something similar that happened to me in elementary school. I kept telling them all morning I didn’t feel good but they kept saying for me to wait, wait, wait… until I puked all over the place!

              2. TL*

                I had a teacher refuse to let me go to the bathroom after I had already gone too many times. I actually had a UTI and – well, she never refused me the bathroom pass again.

              3. AmyNYC*

                I was (still am) very rules oriented and once SIGNED OUT for a hall pass before going to the ladies to vomit. I did not make it to the bathroom.

              4. Collarbone High*

                I once begged a DC Metro employee to let me use the “secret” bathroom because I’d eaten something bad and my stomach was seconds away from ejecting its contents. He refused, saying he didn’t want anyone throwing up in that bathroom. I threw up on the floor of the Shady Grove station instead.

              5. Ornery PR*

                I was 5 when I had my first migraine. I think I was in my teens before I realized that you could vomit from having a stomach ache, rather than just a headache.

              6. Zillah*

                When I first told my mother I had a migraine, I was 8. She didn’t believe me.

                She learned differently. Unfortunately.

              7. Windchime*

                My son’s first migraine was when he was 11 or 12 and it was so severe that I rushed him to the ER, thinking that something horrible was happening (like a head injury or something). All of his migraines are of the nauseated/aura variety, poor kid.

            2. Emma*

              I’ve had at least one migraine within the past 3 months. I’d never had one before and the situation developed throughout the day to become so bad (intense headache, eye soreness, neck soreness, facial and muscle soreness, visual disturbances, nausea) I seriously thought I had meningitis.

        2. Omne*

          I’ve been lucky. I get auras every once in a while but no headaches or nausea with them. Tell you the truth the auras are kind of interesting sometimes, they last 20-30 minutes and I can see through them for the most part.

          Scared the heck out of me the first time it happened.

          1. Windchime*

            Me too. I’ve only had an aura migraine once, and before the pain started it was pretty interesting. I’ve also had migraines that kind of skip the headache part; it’s really weird. I can tell I’m having a migraine because I don’t feel well (and migraine medication makes it go away), but my head doesn’t always hurt. It’s more of a neck pain/nausea/spaced out feeling.

            1. Editor*

              My auras are all the same — wavy, vibrating black-and-white lines that steadily narrow the center area of my vision. I’m glad I don’t get the full-on migraine. If I can go somewhere and close my eyes for 15 minutes, the aura goes away most of the time.

              There’s a family history of migraines and my oldest gets much nastier headaches than I do, just like her great-grandmother did. Neither of my parents had migraines, though — I don’t know why it skipped a generation. Lucky them.

    5. Anne*

      I’m really glad of that too. I read that letter and nearly reeled away from the computer in shock, but thought that it must be down to terrible employment practices in the USA and I’m just spoiled by being in the UK. Really glad to hear it’s not actually standard.

      Where I am, we get 25 days of holiday, with 1 more added for every year of service up to a max of 30 days, and 10 days paid sick leave. But the 25 days includes “Bank holidays”, when most things are closed. A bit like if you had to use a vacation day for Labor Day or MLK Day, but if you didn’t want to you could use it some other time. The only ones that are set in stone by law are Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day (and therefore they’re not included in our holiday allowance). That’s pretty standard here.

      1. B*

        Minimum leave in the uk these days is 28 days inc bank hols. If you’re on 25 inc bank hols your employer is breaking the law. It changed a good few years back.
        I get 6 months full pay 6 months half pay for sick leave. I don’t understand the us.

          1. Anne*

            Damn, and here I was thinking I’d be able to wheedle a bit more out of them. :)

            I’m on 28 days without the Christmas hols now anyway.

        1. Windchime*

          I would love to have the amounts of vacation time that seems to be common in Europe. My question is always this: How do they handle coverage for jobs when people have so much time available to take off for vacation? Are they just more fully staffed so that there can always be several people out for weeks at a time?

          1. Natalie*

            My brief experience temping in Ireland (similar laws/work culture) suggests that they make frequent use of temps for essential functions. I did multiple 1-2 week long stints as the receptionist and no one batted an eye. For everyone else you probably just deal with Joe being gone for a week. I imagine more frequent time off is just ingrained in the culture, so clients and co-workers expect it.

            1. OP #3*

              Thanks for all of the comments/feedback, that’s exactly why I presented my situation.

              Something clarify: I’ve never actually asked the long term employee about his issues, he volunteered that information to me. He has also volunteered that he does call off sometimes just because he doesn’t feel like working – like every normal human being. I’ve done it myself. Also, I am not blaming him for still dealing with the loss of his father; although, when writing that sentence, I had a feeling it would come off as insensitive and I did not mean that to. It was just something to add so that maybe the commentors could understand the whole situation. I do feel like he has some serious issues (again, based on information he has come to me with) and that’s why I feel bad getting angry when he’s not here. I honestly suggested him getting checked out because I do care about him, no matter how callous my words came off as. I care about this guy as a human; we’re worked together for years. It’s totally possible he’s taking FMLA and I have no idea because I shouldn’t. Remember the subject line: Am I being a jerk? I felt like I was, and everyone confirmed that.

              It’s just really hard when you’re in the situation day-today to not let your immediate emotions get in the way of being compassionate for a person’s situation. It’s just frustrating feeling like you put in more work than someone else. I guess I just need to mind my business, like I suspected and not let it bother me since it really isn’t any of my business. The receptionist has a lot more issues with work performance that make me criticize her time off of work. Again, I should probably mind my own business, it just bothers me more because I have to shoulder my work to cover for her.

              I am not mad about all the comments calling me rude, inappropriate, etc. because that’s the whole reason why I came to this medium – I wanted to get opinions from people removed from the situation. Thanks for commenting!

              1. KellyK*

                Thank you for participating in the comments and taking the feedback seriously. While I think that the health comment was out of line, I absolutely don’t think you’re a jerk for resenting being stuck with other people’s work when they’re out a lot. That would grate on anybody. But the general idea here is that it’s more useful to focus on the part that does affect you and talk to your boss about that, rather than wanting people to have to provide a doctor’s note when they’re sick.

              2. BCW*

                I’m glad you seem to be taking this in stride, but here is where I’d argue. You may be putting in more work, but you are also getting paid for that work. From what you said, after their allotted time off, they don’t get paid right? Well that seems plenty fair to me. It would be different if you had unlimited PTO and they were constantly taking off, but they aren’t getting paid. If they can afford it, thats their choice. Now I get why you would be upset at covering for the receptionist, but I still don’t understand why you are mad about the other guy.

              3. Anne*

                Thank you for taking all of the feedback so constructively, and for coming here to expand on your relationship with your co-worker. It’s good to read. :)

              4. Jamie*

                He has also volunteered that he does call off sometimes just because he doesn’t feel like working – like every normal human being.

                I know I’m completely pendantical on this subject – but not everyone does this.

                I’ve schedule PTO when I need a day or two off, but I’ve never called in sick just because I didn’t feel like going in. Last minute absences are inconvenient to co-workers; unavoidable when you wake up ill, but there is no reason for lack of notice otherwise, IMO.

                The notion that this is what normal people do or that everyone does it bothers me. My kids work part time in retail and food service while in college and none of them have ever done it either – and they are highly annoyed when other people do.

                This isn’t a universal thing.

                1. Prickly Pear*

                  Everyone knows two things about me workwise:
                  I don’t say no (even when its highly advisable to do so) and I don’t call in except for extreme circumstances (death, hospitalization, sickness that involves toilets- probably under 10 times in my 12 years at my job). I played hooky once at my previous job, and felt so guilty that whatever I did instead was clouded by the thought of letting coworkers down.

              5. RQSCanuck*

                Hi OP #3…thanks for coming back and commenting and being open to the feedback you are receving. When people write in to AAM we are only given a limited snapshot of who the writter is based on words in a letter, so I always appreciate it when posters come back and provise more context and sometimes it completely chamges the way commentors view the situation and the writter. So thanks for providing more context. You mentioned in your comment that the older employee volunteered the information about his mental health issues to you. I am juat putting myself in that employees shoes and if I was aware that many of my co-workers (you mentioned that others were complaining and that your office is small, so I wonder if this employee has actually heard some of the complaints) were vocal about how much time I was taking off I may have actually volunteered the information in hopes that this information would generate some understanding and compassion and perhaps hope that this would stop the complaints (if this employee had volunteered that he had a chronic physical medical issue instead of mental issue, would you be as frustrated about his ongoing absences or would you be more understanding? Would you still complain or would the complaints stop?) Full disclosure I work in the mental health field, so I am a huge believer that we need to start treating mental health issues with the same consideration as we do physical illnesses. So I do wonder what his motivation was for volunteering this information because it is such a personal issue. I can understamd the frustration of working with others who are frequently absent and I just want to echo what other commentors have expressed here. If this employees absences are not directly affecting your ability to do your work then I would find a way to let it go and I would do my best to not get caught up in the complaining made by others. It is possible that other employees will follow your example. Management is aware of his situation so I think that you have to trust that they are handling it appropriately.

                1. OP #3*

                  He probably did volunteer the information to me to give an explanation (that I shouldn’t have needed) as to why he’s out so much.

                  I guess my main issue I never really said was that I think he is taking advantage of being able to take off so freely. Maybe I am wrong though; I’m not in his head and shouldn’t be concerned with it.

                  Thanks for your insight! It’s nice to hear from someone who has experience in your field.

                2. Zillah*

                  He may well be taking advantage of the fact that he can take off so freely, but I’m not clear on why that’s a bad thing. Perks are meant to be taken advantage of, and this policy is clearly a perk for him.

          2. Anne*

            I haven’t worked in the USA except at a summer camp, so I don’t really have anything else to compare to! It’s not a problem, though. Even though my office is quite small (10 people) we don’t usually have issues with coverage. For leave requests of a week or more, you should get it in pretty early, so they can be sure that there aren’t a lot of people in the same function out at the same time… but that’s only really an issue at Christmas. Only 1 person in the office has kids at home, so they’re welcome to as much of the summer leave time as they’d like, as far as the rest of us are concerned.

            I do have a couple of friends whose workplaces have really draconian leave policies – you have to book all your leave for the whole year at the start of the year, for instance. So I guess some deal with it that way.

          3. Rayner*

            Generally speaking, in my experience, you just make sure that you staff above the bare bones level. And you make sure that during popular periods for holidays – school holidays, Easter breaks, half terms – that you make it a first come, first served basis, and limit the amount of people who can be off at one time.

            If you plan carefully, and negociate with your staff on holidays so you’re open about what needs to happen – “There can be only three people away at any one time in this department, so it’s a first come, first served basis, but if you don’t mind being flexible, then I might see if we can stretch things out for you” – then everything’s fine.

            Most of the problems I see with holidays and staffing levels is when people run it on bare bones, so if something happened that required lots of people, they’re stuffed before they began.

          4. Jen in RO*

            People usually just take a week here and there. (21 days of PTO here.) I’ll usually take a few long weekends over the year, a week in summer, and another week for the holidays. It’s never been a problem in my experience – I guess people are just used to it and understand that sometimes person X will be unavailable for a while? Tasks get temporarily handed over and all that.

            I’d be interested about France, Sandrine! I know that it’s common to work 8 hours a day, but because the official work day is 7.5 hours you get a bunch of extra PTO out of that? An acquaintance of mine had 2 months of PTO at some point and there was no way he could have taken that much in a year.

            (So, extra response to Windchime: if you’re super busy and important, you just don’t take all your PTO, because you can’t afford to be away from work for that long.)

          5. Gjest*

            In the summer time here (Norway), most companies just flat out say their response time will be much slower due to summer holidays. So that’s one way they deal with it.

            It’s just ingrained in them that people will be gone for huge stretches of time. My coworker was gone for 6 straight weeks last summer. I started in April last year, and everyone was horrified that I wasn’t going away on holiday over the summer. My American sensibilities just wouldn’t let me schedule a vacation when I just started 2 months earlier! I’m totally doing it this year though :)

        2. Anne*

          I don’t understand the US either. I was born and raised there, moved here for college, got married, and stayed. When my husband and I went back to meet my family, everyone of course asked “So will you ever move back to America?” Our answer was “Get some decent employment laws, and we’ll consider it.”

          Every single thing about employment and benefits law there terrifies me. Vacation time, sick time, health insurance, maternity leave, minimum wage, job seeker’s allowance, disability at-will employment… I just… Everything! Everything about it seems so terrible! It is terrifying. The thought of working in the USA really scares me.

          1. Jen in RO*

            While I agree that for an European the employment laws are quite scary… I wish I could stay home without a doctor’s note! The law here says you can’t get medical leave without it, even for a cold… so me and my runny nose are at work today because I don’t want to go see a doctor for something this minor. (And they usually don’t give you medical leave for a cold, anyway.)

            1. en pointe*

              Really? Wow. They couldn’t get away with that in Australia. “Chucking a sickie” is part of the culture so a lot of people would be screwed by mandatory doctor’s notes.

          2. Anon*

            Scares you because we actually work instead of go on vacation all the time… Try not to judge from your high horse across the pond.

            1. esra*

              She was a bit… dramatic. But I think it’s telling that so many other countries can give more vacation + rights to their employees and get along just fine.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                For what it’s worth, they also tend to have dramatically different standards of things like convenience, and when things are open/not open, which makes that easier to achieve.

                Either way, finding an employment system that many of us work in pretty happily to be “terrifying” strikes me as a fairly extreme reaction.

                1. Anne*

                  You’re right, it was extreme. Reading it over, I think it came across as more extreme than I actually meant it. I was trying to get across that the thought of getting a job back in the USA does literally scare me, but that just sounds hysterical now that I read it over. Apologies, folks – I will edit more carefully next time. (You’re right about the standards of when things are open, etc. as well. Very few places are open late here. Huge adjustment when I moved from NYC.)

                  Thinking about it, I wonder how much of it is actually from reading this blog… so much of the advice here is fantastic no matter where you work, that I don’t mind at all that it’s US-centric. But the amount of things you need to say “that’s legal” to here that definitely wouldn’t be legal in the UK… it’s a bit mind-boggling, and one of my few insights into the US work world.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think the thing to remember is that just because something’s legal doesn’t mean it’s common practice. U.S. law tends to be rooted in (what we think of as) a philosophy that errs on the side of (what we think of as) freedom over government intervention, so the absence of a law prohibiting X doesn’t inherently indicate “the culture thinks X is great to do.”

                  Much of what we discuss as legal here is still not at all common practice, particularly in professional fields.

                3. en pointe*

                  Irrespective of whether or not it’s common practice, I think that the lesser employee protections etc. in the US can breed (for outsiders, at least) a certain sense of insecurity or nagging worry, compared to working in say the UK, Oz etc.

                  Like not so much the concern that something WILL happen but that it could.

                  Whether or not that’s a reasonable argument in favour of reviewing laws is a whole ‘nother debate, but I think this is sort of where Anne’s coming from.

                4. esra*

                  It’s tough (speaking as a Canadian), to not be a bit horrified when you hear that medical bills are one of the biggest causes of people going bankrupt in the states etc.

                5. Anne*

                  I think en point has it on the dot here. If I sit down and think about it, logically, I know that I’m in a professional field (and so is my husband), extreme examples are the exceptions that prove the rule, and it would probably be fine. But I’m also sure that I would feel a lot less secure without the NHS and the social safety net we have in the UK, even though as an American (!) I’m not eligible for things like Jobseeker’s Allowance.

                  And if I’m not sitting down and forcing myself to think it through logically… as esra says, it’s hard not to be scared by the stories. (And my own very negative experience of health insurance when I was living in the USA as a child.)

                6. Anne*

                  (Also, thank you en pointe for saying you agree with this less dramatic version. I’m feeling like a bit of a jerk for coming across so judgemental and screamy when I really didn’t mean to!)

                7. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  For what it’s worth, I didn’t think you came across like a jerk! (I hope my response didn’t imply that, although I now realize it could have been read that way.) I just thought it was an extreme way to characterize some of it, but it’s not like I’m not fond of characterizing things in extreme fashion myself…

                8. Al Lo*

                  It’s tough (speaking as a Canadian), to not be a bit horrified when you hear that medical bills are one of the biggest causes of people going bankrupt in the states etc

                  Exactly. I grew up in Canada, and am back now, but I’ve lived in the States for a fair bit of my adult life, and as a healthy young adult, it didn’t phase me. But now, juggling the idea of moving back down there with a timeline for having kids, the idea of not having automatic health coverage and (at least partially) paid, year-long maternity leave definitely throws the decision into a different light.

                  There’s something inherently unsettling about the idea that just having a child — not raising one, paying for education, etc; just being pregnant and giving birth — can bankrupt a family. Or that treatments for cancer, organ transplants, major surgeries, etc aren’t a basic human right in a developed country.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              That seems a bit harsh…it really does sound quite bad when you look at it from outside. I had a French friend who in astonishment describes American leave policies as “barbaric.” I kind of agreed with her, because I’ve worked full-time jobs where we only got FIVE DAYS for the entire year, and others where there were none (mostly food service). No wonder the U.S. has such high burnout rates.

              (I’m in the U.S., btw)

              1. Windchime*

                That is terrible. On the other hand I had an acquaintance in British Columbia who was extremely sick and waited several months for a simple gall-bladder operation. Here in the US, you have the operation the same day that it’s discovered that you need one. So there is that.

                1. aebhel*

                  …if you have health insurance. If you don’t, you either don’t have it done at all, or you go into crippling debt.

                  It’s efficient, sure, but it’s efficient at the expense of the uninsured.

            3. Whippers*

              Oh yeah, cos that comment wasn’t judgmental at all. Spending all your time at work doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                To be fair, I found Anne’s take fairly judgmental as well. Regardless, I have a strong preference not to get into culture-bashing on this site, from either side.

                1. Anne*

                  Apologies, Alison. You’re right – it did actually come across as judgemental. I didn’t mean for that comment to sound as extreme as it did.

            4. Another Anon in the U.S.*

              “Scares you because we actually work instead of go on vacation all the time.”

              “Try not to judge from your high horse across the pond.”


            5. Anne*

              Note the other things I mentioned: “sick time, health insurance, maternity leave, minimum wage, job seeker’s allowance, disability, at-will employment…”

              If I could get a job in the UK with good maternity leave, free health insurance comparable the the NHS, good sick leave policies, some kind of insurance that I couldn’t just be fired for even half the things Alison is obliged to say “that’s legal” to, some kind of money I could live on while looking for a job (although that’s pretty terrible over here too)… I would feel a lot more confident, even if I only got 10 days of holiday with that.

              I am a hard worker. I have no problem with being in work. I find the US vacation allowances a bit nuts, but really, it’s the other, more important things I find actually scary.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                The majority of U.S. workers do in fact have paid sick time, health insurance, maternity leave, salaries well above minimum wage, and aren’t being fired willy-nilly. There’s a difference between what the law allows and what’s common practice. (That doesn’t mean that there aren’t employers who don’t meet the standard above; there are. But being terrified about working here seems like a wild overreaction, particularly if you’re in a professional field.)

                1. Anonymous*

                  Is it actually a majority? Or a majority of white collar jobs? Because certainly if you add in all of the things you’ve listed with an AND statement and include part time work the numbers I’ve seen don’t back that up.

                2. Stephanie*

                  Yeah, I was wondering about industries such as food service and retail. Including those, it’s unlikely that the majority of US workers have benefits. Is Walmart like one of the biggest employers in the country? (I know it’s the second biggest in Arizona after the state.)

                3. fposte*

                  I think it’s tough for many people in countries where there’s not much labor policy that isn’t set by law to grasp that the absence of law on something in the U.S. doesn’t mean that the practice is absent.

              2. Elsajeni*

                It’s worth keeping in mind that, if a lot of your sense of what working in the U.S. is like comes from reading AAM, you’re really only getting to see the negatives. It’s like trying to get an idea of what married life is like by reading advice columns — people just don’t write in unless they have a problem, so you’re never going to see a letter that says, “My manager is sensible and supportive, my co-workers all happily do their share, our leave policy is generous and other company policies are reasonable, and I’m very happy with my pay,” no matter how many people are actually in that situation.

                1. Anne*

                  Yes, this conversation has definitely driven that point home for me, and is something I’ll keep in mind in the future. A little bit reassuring!

          3. Stephanie*

            Eh, the US system, while far from perfect, has its upsides. Youth unemployment is insanely high in a lot of EU countries (even higher than the US). From what a couple of friends in the UK and Spain tell me, job mobility is also easier in the US (i.e., switching from one role or profession to another).

            1. fposte*

              Yes, while I like a lot of the European systems and laws, I did think for a moment about mentioning all the lovely time off young Spanish workers are currently enjoying :/.

            2. Anne*

              That’s interesting about job mobility. I really have no idea, and anything I contribute would be anecdotal, but I have no reason to believe you’re wrong! :)

              1. Stephanie*

                To be fair, my evidence is somewhat anecdotal as well (just based upon talking with acquaintances from France and Spain). They just seemed floored at the idea one could (in theory) switch jobs and industries.

                1. Ella*

                  Yes, I can confirm that! and it comes from my personal experience. I live and work in Scandinavia and here if you want to do HR Comp & Ben you have to have a master degree in Economics, even for entry level positions. Three of my US colleagues (we work with a big international corporation) do a terrific job as HR Comp & Ben specialists and managers, they are so knowledgeable and smart and have a bachelor in psychology.
                  I once tried and apply for a different role and the comment I got from the recruiter was :”You can’t, you are a Comp&Ben!”

            1. Whippers*

              UK unemployment benefit. Except that sounds too negative so the government decided to give it a “positive” spin.

      2. Kou*

        Well no it’s actually very common, because it’s pretty standard for people to be stingy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a job or even applied for a job that gave more than 11 days per year.

        1. HR Lady*

          Kou, my spouse and I both work at companies that gave us approximately 13 days of sick time plus 13 days of vacation time in the first year. Plus 10 paid holidays. We’re in a major east coast city and this is pretty standard (because I work in HR, I’ve seen data on this… just can’t find a link right now to show). As Alison said, in white collar jobs, paid vacation/sick benefits are pretty reasonable (or even generous).

          1. Esra*

            But for people who aren’t in white collar jobs, or don’t get health coverage, isn’t it pretty bad? Like, you have to pay to go to the doctor and can’t really take time off?

            1. Windchime*

              My son has no health insurance. He hasn’t signed up for the exchange yet. He’s not full time, so he gets no paid vacation time (and probably no paid sick time, either). If he’s off for being sick or just needing a day off, he just loses that shift unless someone is willing to swap with him. He works in a grocery store.

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      I had a job once that needed those, and I was battling a chronic illness of unknown cause. Thankfully, my doctor gave me a stack of signed notes to use whenever I needed them, so I didn’t have to go see him each time I was too fatigued to work.

      And, honestly, if I ever worked for a place that required a doctor’s note again, I’d probably just make my own.

  9. A non*

    #3: You say these coworkers take a day off every 6 weeks. That would add up to 10 days in a year. That doesn’t seem like a lot. Am I misreading? Assuming they are really taking off more than that, clearly the receptionist doing so affects you. Can you talk to your manager about finding ways for her absence to be less disruptive to your work? As for the other person, if his taking time off doesn’t impact your work then it shouldn’t be your business at all. If he wants to take days without pay and it doesn’t burden his coworkers, then why do you care?
    Also, where are you from that you use the phrase “call off”? Just curious because I have never heard that phrase before!

    1. Chronically ill commentor*

      That “every six weeks” stumped me, too. If it’s one day every six weeks, that doesn’t sound like an awful lot, especially if one or both of them are actually chronically ill. Even with my illness under control I still have to take a few sick days a year just for other illnesses (somewhere around 6 a year, I think).

      1. LAI*

        I was thinking that must be a typo and maybe they meant every 6 days? Because the OP also says that the coworkers have called in sick 4-5 times so far this year, and we’re only in mid-February.

        1. Ollie*

          I was thinking the OP meant the coworkers call off for 2-3 days at a time, once about every six weeks.

        2. OP #3*

          That was just an estimate; January and February have been more rough probably because of the weather. That’s just the sick days; they also take full week-long vacations as well, multiple times a year.

          1. badger_doc*

            If they can afford to take time off without pay and the company allows it, what’s it to you? I only get 2 weeks of vaca per year and if i had the option of taking another week off completely unpaid, I’d do so in a heartbeat. I shouldn’t have to justify that to my coworkers…

          2. fposte*

            I’m with badger_doc–I think you’re still setting this up as some kind of comparison between you two (or three). If their absence interferes with you getting your work done, then that’s a problem and you need to raise it with your manager. If it doesn’t–and with the non-receptionist, it doesn’t sound like it does–then this is something to let go of, stop counting, and stop talking to co-workers about.

      2. fposte*

        I wondered that too–I was thinking that it might be every six weeks when both employees are simultaneously out, and that they’re each out on their own in addition sometimes.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I have heard nurses use the expression “call-off”. It sounded odd to me- so am guessing it is something unique to one or more professions? Confusingly, I have heard “call-out” used interchangeably with “call-off”. I am not clear if there is a difference. I have done retail and manufacturing work and the expression used is “called in”, as in “This employee called in today and will not be here.”

      1. Windchime*

        I see a lot of people here using the term “call off” or “call out”, but I also have always heard “call in” as well. “Joe called in sick today.”

        1. De Minimis*

          Same here…call in was always the preferred term at a former job, but at another one people said call out. I haven’t heard call off. Call in has always made the most sense to me.

      2. Collarbone High*

        When I lived overseas, I was often asked to explain things like this, and it would always make me realize just how weird English is. “Um, true, ‘in’ and ‘out’ are opposites, but somehow, ‘called in’ and ‘called out’ mean the same thing. I have no idea why.”

        1. Windchime*

          I think it means, “He called into the office to tell us he was sick.” But “called out” makes sense, too.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I wanted to also mention I agree with A non that finding ways to lessen the impact on your work day would be a good approach. And something else to keep in mind, if (heaven forbid) something happened to you, OP, where you needed time off from work, would management accommodate your concerns and keep you employed? If yes, that is HUGE.
      My friend had a job where everyone got written up if they missed more than twice a year. The second absence was almost worst than the write up on the third absence because the offending employee had to deal with dirty looks and silent treatment all day long.
      It’s commendable that your employer is willing to work with people who are facing life issues but there has to be a plan to insure everything runs smoothly. The plan can’t be “let the employees sort it out for themselves.”

        1. Ella*

          Agree. Even a part-time temp could be a wonderful solution!
          OP should suggest that.
          Furthermore, it would create an opening and give a jobseeker a chance to be employed. A win-win situation.

    4. AnonHR*

      I was thinking the same thing. I probably take a day off once every six weeks or so too, and as far as I can tell, no one would ever think I have an attendance issue. Now, probably about half of those for me are planned ahead, but it doesn’t seem too unreasonable.

      I do think OP should talk to her boss about a more efficient way to cover the front desk if it’s that disruptive to everyone. Maybe a different phone queue system for when she’s out, or shorter shifts for everyone to lessen the daily impact, or everyone does a longer shift so it doesn’t happen to each individual so often?

    5. KellyK*

      Assuming they are really taking off more than that, clearly the receptionist doing so affects you. Can you talk to your manager about finding ways for her absence to be less disruptive to your work?

      Yes, this is really the key here. The OP’s problem is not whether the coworkers are really sick or not, or whether their absences are excessive or not, but getting stuck covering the phones when it interferes with her duties.

  10. Confused*

    I’ve heard “if you’re on time, you’re late.” Somewhat annoying to have to apologize for being on time but if it’s a matter of 5 or 10 minutes and I’m not required to clock in, I can let it go.
    In the OP’s case, 15 minutes, everyday, and clocking in? Not okay.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Yes, I’ve heard this too. My 16 year old has finally been motivated to get off her behind and start looking for a job. There is a school trip next summer that is going to cost about $4000. My husband and I made a deal with her that we’ll contribute $25 for every $100 of the cost. So for every $75 she saves, we’ll kick in $25.

      So I’ve explained to her that if she does get a job, then in addition to her regular duties, her job is to be the most reliable, dependent, cheerful employee she can be. If she gets a job at the mall, and the store opens at 10AM, that probably means she has to be there at 9:30 to get things set up. And that means there, ready to start working at 9:30, not arriving at 9:30 still needing to hang up her jacket, put her purse away, and so on. So she’ll need to be in the store at 9:20. And that means in the parking lot parking her car at 9:15.

      I told her that if she does this, and also does everything she’s asked without complaining, eye rolling, or anything else, and even better takes initiative to do other things, then her boss will be happy to give her a great reference later if she needs it. If she’s there on time, every single day, without fail, then when the day comes that she’s overslept her boss will say something like, “Hey, it happens to the best of us, we’ll see you when you get here,” instead of writing her up. If she gets a flat tire on the way to work and isn’t there on time, her boss will think, “Gee, it isn’t like her to be late, I hope everything is OK,” instead of, “Ugh, teenagers are so clueless and unreliable!”

  11. ConstructionHR*

    We require employees to be in their work areas @ 0700. The clock in area is sometimes 5-10 minutes travel away from that area. We do not pay them for that time and we require them to do no work. This was reviewed & approved when the Federal W&S folks audited us for an unrelated complaint. (Which was reviewed and deemed unsubstantiated.) If an individual was not at their work station at the appropriate time, suitable discipline was meted out.

    1. AnonHR*

      Can I ask how you logistically and fairly track that? Do you automatically pay them for 5 fewer minutes than they log every day? Do they have a way of “punching in” again once they get to the work station? Or, do you only pay them for the scheduled shift if they punch in anytime before it?

    2. FiveNine*

      Isn’t construction primarily contract work? Because there are definitely different rules involved.

    3. Elysian*

      5-10 minutes is insignificant (de minimis) under the law. 15 minutes is not, even if its ‘just’ walking.

      1. Labratnomore*

        And if they are clocked in 5-10 minutes early every day but only get paid for 8 hours, how do you know how much to pay them when they work overtime. Isn’t the point of clocking in and out to let you know how much to pay people? So if they had 3 hours and 40 minutes extra time locked in, does that automatically equal 2 hours OT pay? What if their work station was close and they really worked 3 hours OT?

  12. Chinook*

    OP #4, and Allison, do federal rules apply vs. State ones on reserves? In Canada, their labour (and other laws) are subject to the federal Indian Act and provincial standards do not apply. As well, individual treaties can spell out different rules. I know that the American experience is different but it is something to consider.

    1. Chinook*

      I want to add that it helps to thinlk of yourself as employed by a different nation when looking at labour laws on a reserve because, if a treaty was signed, then they are a nation. According to inernational law, treaties can only be signed between independent nations and, by offering to sign a treaty with a First Nation or inmdividual tribe (which is a part of that larger nation), the government is recognizing them as such. In theory, then, individual states do not have the right to interfer with reserve life, say by creating laws, because they do not represent the signator of the treaty. This can only be done by the federal government within the boundaries of said treaty. This is why hunting and firearms laws do not apply on a reserve as treaties gave First Nations control of that (and, thus, it is regulated by the tribal council). So, you may be SOL, as one commentator put it, when it comes to labour laws, but the counter arguement is that you willingly and knowingly agreed to work for an employer whose laws are different.

      1. De Minimis*

        Was going to bring this up, when you work on a reservation a lot of the regular laws may not apply, because technically you are on tribal land and are subject to tribal laws.

        I live in a state with several tribes and this comes up a lot, especially with employment law. I think in many cases if you work for a tribe any dispute would have to be heard in tribal court.

  13. Anonymous*

    #3 I can’t believe you told your coworker to get tested for immune problems! Leave the poor guy alone!

    1. OP #3*

      It was an offhanded, frustrated comment. I have never said anything like that again because I felt bad about it afterwards.

  14. David*

    #4: I honestly can’t speak to the legality of requiring you to attend a political rally, but I can speak to the practicality. I’m in Wisconsin, where having your employees doing political work and Indian casinos have both been hot topics in recent years. If it got out that the tribe was mandating employees attend political rallies (and I can’t imagine why the IT guy would have to be there, unless they plan on setting up some pretty hefty remote computing), whatever group is opposing the tribe/casino/agenda will have a field day with it, and that one move will likely blow up in the tribe’s face. So, as AAM always says, it may be legal, but that doesn’t make it right.

      1. David*

        Well, considering the Ho Chunk 1) have a gaming interest in WI and 2) are located not far from Madison, that wouldn’t be much of a stretch. But I would imagine this is a scenario happening in many states.

        But if it is Wisconsin, then we may have just broken the political controversy of the year!

        1. De Minimis*

          I don’t know about Wisconsin, but in a lot of states with many tribes involved you have a situation where the anti-casino people are often funded by rival tribal casinos who don’t want more competition.

    1. vvondervvoman*

      With rallies, they just want bodies. Ideally happy, cheering bodies, but sometimes they just want masses of people.

      1. the gold digger*

        I would be furious if I were required to participate in a political rally for something, even if I agreed with it. If I didn’t agree, I would be apoplectic.

        No matter what, I would not want to stand outside in Madison all day in this weather.

  15. BCW*

    I agree with most about #3, it falls down to minding your own business. You are mad because your co-workers are playing within the rules they are given? You should be mad at your bosses for A) giving so few days off for vacation and sick, and B) not having proper accommodations for when the receptionist does call off.

    Also, where do you get off telling this guy what he needs to do about his health? I can imagine if someone said something like that to you, then you wouldn’t be very happy with it.

  16. Just a Reader*

    #3 I can’t believe OP’s coworker didn’t tell him/her to pound sand. OP, you’re lucky he’s so gracious. Your behavior is rude, intrusive, invasive, obnoxious and unprofessional.

    If it’s that big a deal to have people out sick you need to talk to your manager about how to handle your workload while people are out/whether there are additional resources that can help you. Not why or when people are out, whether it’s too much, whether they need a doctor’s note, etc.

    Jeepers Crow. MYOB.

  17. Zillah*

    #1 – You seem a little hostile toward your new boss in ways that don’t really make sense to me.

    My new boss has been with our organization (a state agency) for one week. She has banking experience, which is hardly applicable, and a long history of management experience. Aside from the lack of experience, she has an awful work ethic and is an overall textbook bad manager.

    You say that her banking experience “is hardly applicable” and cite her “lack of experience” as a reason why she’s a bad manager.

    Maybe there’s something I’m not understanding, but I’m not sure how “a long history of management experience” is consistent with your accusation that she lacks experience. Clearly, she has experience as a manager – you said so. Maybe it’s not in precisely the same line of work that you do, but I think you’re doing her a real disservice by writing her off just because her management experience is in a different line of work that you deem “hardly applicable.”

    1. BCW*

      Agreed. My guess is that the OP thinks she should have gotten that job and there is very little that this manager could have done for her to like her. For being on the job one week, she is making a whole lot of assumptions about her skills. Its pretty ridiculous.

      1. Zillah*

        Mmm, that could definitely be the case – either that, or someone else who was internal who the OP likes.

      2. Anonymous*

        I agree with this statement. It’s also something I’ve seen fairly often at state agencies, especially when they hire from outside, which is generally very necessary.

        1. Op #1*

          Is your experience with state agencies in a large city or a small community? Geological factor is the difference in your assessment of my intentions regarding this question. Looking back, I should have specified that. But in reply to your comment, I have prior knowledge of her working habits. I personally know some of her previous coworkers. There is no bitter employee jealousy going on here. I simple don’t respect her enough to value her feedback.

          1. Zillah*


            You may personally know some of her old coworkers, but you’re setting yourself up for failure if you go in being this hostile without giving her a chance to prove herself to you. This is your manager; it’s in your best interests to try and respect her.

            If she turns out to be a bad manager, fine – but by taking what other people in a different job said as gospel and using it to judge her performance in this job, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

          2. RQSCanuck*

            OP #1
            I can understand that it can be overwhelming to receive so much critical feedback from people who do not know you, have never met you and are forming opinions based on the very limited information that you put in your letter. From my perspective you are making a lot of judgment calls based on second (and possibly third hand) information about her ability to manage – specifically her ability to manage you and to manage your department/company. I think that this knowledge is severely clouding your judgment and assumptions. You are assuming that your review will be middle of the road and vague, when it in fact may not be. A commenter suggested bringing into the review with you all of the things you have been working on and I have to concur. I think that you should take this as an opportunity to help your manager understand your role and the projects you are working on. But don’t assume that it will be bad (yes, you may have heard from other people that in the past her evaluations are poor, but do not apply this carte blanche to your situation) You stated earlier that because you are not evaluating her that your opinion of her does not really matter. I believe that your opinion of her (which right now to me reads as one of disrespect), does matter. It matter because this is a person that you will spend 40+ hours a week with (in addition to the fact that you have to report to her) and you will need to interact with her and I believe that eventually a negative attitude can begin to show through and it may begin to negatively impact you at work in other ways. I can sense your frustration about this situation and all I have to go on are your words that you have written on a screen and it seems to me like you are going into this situation having already decided that she is not going to be a good manager to you, and you simply don’t know this. And I think that if you continue to go in with this attitude you are setting yourself up to fail, by that I mean that you will ultimately not like your manager because you have already decided that this is the way that it is going to be. I suggest that you reserve your judgment and try to go into this situation with some neutrality and keep an open mind by putting aside (even temporarily) what others have told you. For all you know you may have a different experience, you may not, but at least you have come to the conclusion based on your own first-hand experience. It is okay if at the end of it all you learn that you don’t like her as your manager, that’s fine, but the point I am trying to make is that you came to that decision of your own accord, instead of going into the situation with all of these judgments.

          3. Windchime*

            I hope that she judges you more fairly that she is being judged, after being on the job for only a week.

      1. Op #1*

        Actually that is the furthest from the truth. I am inexperienced myself and would really have liked to have someone who I can learn from. I had every opportunity to apply for the job but I chose not to because I do not feel ready for that responsibility. This manager is well known in our community and it’s not for her good qualities. She can talk very well which is why I suspect she got the position. I always keep an open mind and am constantly looking for perspective, which is why I posted here in the first place. I would appreciate an answer that I could actually use instead of negativity. Remember this is only a very small portion of the story so for all intents and purposes, please trust my judgment on her management style/work ethic and answer accordingly. Thank you.

        1. Zillah*

          If you haven’t worked with her personally before, I’m not sure why you’re so confident on this. Why are you so opposed to giving her a chance?

          We’re giving you an answer you can use: try not to be so judgmental and negative before you’ve had time to truly observe and evaluate her. If you don’t like it, that’s your call.

        2. Colette*

          But based on your own account, she’s been your manager for a week, so I’m not sure you have any basis to judge her management style.

          You may have specific examples that are so out of line that it’s obvious, but you didn’t share them in your letter.

          If you can judge her work ethic and professionalism after a week, why can’t she judge yours?

  18. Graciosa*

    Some of the comments regarding #3 seem a little harsh to me. Yes, a co-worker’s medical condition is not a proper area of concern, but snow was also mentioned as a reason for not showing up (even with transportation offered) which could be a little different, and the fact that there is a significant work impact that management is not addressing is a legitimate concern.

    I like the previous suggestion of getting a temp. I would push for management to establish a relationship with a reliable agency and provide basic requirements for both positions (or all basic non-attorney positions) in advance. If someone calls in an absence, the first call made after that should be to summon a temp (with pre-filled requirements for the position on file, this should be pretty easy).

    Not only does this provide coverage, it will also have a measurable financial impact on the employer. It’s a lot easier to recognize that these absences impact the business when they impact the bottom line.

    1. BCW*

      I think its the rudeness that is rubbing people so badly. Plus, when that co-worker is out, it doesn’t even seem to impact her job (unlike the receptionist). Its just that she doesn’t think he should be out. If he is fine not getting paid for a day, why does she care.

      1. Zillah*

        Yeah, the rudeness is definitely driving my negative reaction to it. The suggestion that people who are out sick be required to substantiate it with a doctor’s note bothers me a lot, especially as someone who rarely goes to the doctor when I call out since usually, it’s because of a migraine.

        Honestly, I probably wouldn’t work in a place that required a doctor’s note of me when I called out sick – I’m an grown woman, for god’s sake, trust me to make that call!

        And don’t get me started on the unsolicited health advice.

    2. fposte*

      I would agree that the absentee rates aren’t good and that these folks sound pretty slack, but it’s management that’s on the hook here for letting this happen–as long as this is okay with the owner and the office manager, it’s okay for the co-workers to attend the way they do. I tend to doubt that an office this screwed up would actually hire temps, but you could ask–I’d make a case based on quantifying how much productivity is hurt by my having to answer the phones, preferably on the spot (“Sure, I can cover phones today–I won’t get to the Warbucks files until tomorrow then, though”).

    3. themmases*

      I really disagree that the comments are too harsh. Based on the OP’s own self-description, I would probably not accept a ride from them. The OP is already intrusive and rude at work– who would agree to sit in traffic with them at the beginning and end of the work day on top of it? I think lots of people would also be reluctant to accept a “favor” like this that comes with an obviously critical subtext, which the OP’s offer does.

      Interrogating people about their health is simply unacceptable behavior in any context, but especially at work. Every six weeks is not even that much time off for someone with a chronic health problem, and the OP knows down to the half day how often these coworkers have been out– does the OP keep a spreadsheet? The OP has obviously allowed resentment about covering for their coworkers to cloud their vision about where the “line in the sand really is”– about a mile behind the OP him/herself.

      1. JMegan*

        That’s a really good point, about the ride. I can’t imagine it would be a pleasant experience for OP’s coworker to accept that ride, and be a captive audience for lectures about his health and his absentee rate for the entire time.

        OP, I’m with the others in the “let it go” camp. Deal with the part of it that is actually impacting your work, by explaining to your manager *how* your work is impacted – and be prepared to suggest some alternatives as to how to make things better, don’t just come in whining about how difficult it all is.

        Other than that, I think you’ll be a lot happier in general if you focus on things you can control, and not spend time and energy on things you can’t.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yeah, my initial reaction was also that some comments were being harsh. But then I tried to imagine myself saying to a coworker that they should get their auto immune system checked and cringed. There’s just no way to make that kind of comment to someone and not sound like a jerk.

      2. OP #3*

        I have really given you guys a terrible impression of the interactions with myself and that employee.

        He constantly asks me for rides! That one comment that I made was a one-time thing, I’m not some fire breathing asshole who jumps down people’s throat when they call off.

        Point taken ya’ll! I’m the biggest asshole on earth. I will personally apologize to this person today.

        1. esra*

          It’s not that you’re an asshole. It’s just really easy to get into bitch eating crackers mode with coworkers when it’s really bad management or bad policies that’s the problem.

          I think you just need to step back a bit and separate real issues impacting your ability to work from less relevant annoyances.

        2. Anonymous*

          Thanks for chiming in, OP! I wonder if you generally find these coworkers to be not very hard working. It seems like maybe you don’t really believe these people are sick, which I suppose could be justified if you know they are generally lazy and try in other ways to take advantage of the system. But still, I think you’d get better results by keeping it focused on the effect on your work and going to management directly, not subtly (it not so subtly) trying to guilt your coworkers into being more responsible.

          1. fposte*

            It also sounds like she just plain doesn’t like them, and while that’s perfectly valid, it can overinfluence your thinking.

          2. OP #3*

            Agreed! I have been thinking this myself over the past few weeks; why am I letting things that are none of my business bother me? That’s why I came here.

            The entire staff has discussed the receptionist issue with the office manager (the one whose calling off does affect my day to day work) and the only solution they’ve come up with is to split the day between 4 people so that not one person is stuck for half a day.

            I never really looked at it as “shaming” them into not calling off, but I guess that’s what I was doing. Again, I plan on apologizing to the employee. It doesn’t matter if I think he’s really sick or not, because it’s none of my business.

            1. Kou*

              Trust me, there’s some shaming there, and they remember it. When weighing whether or not they’re well enough to get back in, they shouldn’t also be worrying about what you’ll say when they see you.

          3. LCL*

            I totally understand OPs position. It is really frustrating to be the one to pick up the slack in the office when other workers have “can’t get to work-itis”. Yeah, medical issues aren’t supposed to be anybody else’s business, but when you personally have more work because of other’s medical issues you get frustrated. If a coworker is ill often enough to affect other workers, they should provide a minimal explanation. The attitude of “my issues are private and can’t be mentioned but you can cover for me, can’t ya” is really common.

            More understanding on both sides is needed. For the sick people, tell your coworkers you need to lie down in a darkened room to make your head stop pounding. For the healthy workers, remember you will be in the same position someday, and it would help if you explained things a little bit.

            FWIW, I was chastised by my boss yesterday for wanting to clarify if other workers are out on sick time or vacation. Apparently the modern thinking is “leave is leave, the details are nobody’s business”. My thinking is, I want to know what you are on leave for, so I know how long you might be gone, and if you will be capable of working full strength when you return.

            1. BCW*

              To LCL, without knowing what type of position you are in, I actually tend to agree that leave is leave. If someone is out on vacation for a few days, I would assume the other office mates would know that right? But otherwise, if someone takes a sick day on a Wednesday or a pre planned PTO day on a wednesday, or a last minute PTO day on a Wednesday, I don’t really think thats any of your concern.

              1. LCL*

                I am of course referring to my own present experience, where sick leave and vacation are separate categories and tracked. We don’t use the catch all PTO for leave. And it is still my concern, because I am responsible for filling their vacancy. Taking a last minute no notice day off to go skiing is a crappy thing to do to your workgroup. Calling in at the last minute because of illness is less hard on the group, because there is minimal resentment of illness. But right or not, when someone is often ill, the resentment will creep back in. And if the frequent illness is treated as a mystery/can’t talk about it situation, the resentment builds quick.

                1. BCW*

                  I think its fair to ask how long they will be out, so you know for how many days the position needs to be filled. I think outside of that, unless you are their manager, its not your business.

                2. the_scientist*

                  But what if the person called in sick and went skiing (I know, frowned up)- you wouldn’t know one way or the other, and you’d still have to cover for them the same amount because it would still be a last-minute thing. Why do you care, if the person is on top of their work and isn’t leaving you in the lurch with a deadline? If they are shirking responsibility and failing to meet deadlines, that’s a managerial issue but otherwise they are entitled to take leave, and if there are no blackout periods, they are entitled to take it whenever they want. The nice thing about “leave is leave” is that it removes any judgement regarding who is “sick enough” or who has a good enough excuse for being away, or that so-and-so shouldn’t get the day off because they are single and it’s not like they are taking a family vacation anyway etc. etc.

            2. KellyK*

              I really do think it’s needlessly prying to want to know why someone is out, unless you’re the HR person who’s tracking their leave balance.

              If you need to know how long they’ll be out, or what they’ll be able to do when they get back, then, like fposte said, ask that.

              I understand wanting an explanation, but really, how will it help? Knowing that your coworker is home puking their guts out, or caring for a sick kid, or hiding in a dark room until their migraine goes away isn’t going to change the amount of work you have to do to cover for them. And it might make the resentment worse if you don’t feel they’re “sick enough.”

        3. themmases*

          I don’t think you’re a huge asshole, OP, and I really appreciate you coming into the comments to give more context. FWIW, I have also written things to advice blogs in frustration. Often the very act of writing it all out helps me think through it, and I’m relieved when my question doesn’t get chosen– I don’t even want to read it over again myself, let alone a bunch of commenters’ opinions. I think it’s brave and open-minded of you to come in here and respond.

          I would caution you about reading too much into it even if someone volunteers their health information to you, though. People with stigmatized health conditions often worry a lot about seeming cagey even when their coworkers are just expressing concern, let alone starting to seem annoyed by their absences. It can be very stressful to have a chronic condition but “look fine”, and I wouldn’t assume that even someone who tells you about that condition is doing it because they want to– they’re just as likely to be trying to head off criticism.

          Covering for people can be very annoying. I never seem to get asked to cover for someone’s really cool tasks, you know? But this whole line of thinking about whether people’s absences are legitimate will only hurt you in your boss’s eyes if you ask for help.

  19. the_scientist*

    “I’ve suggested to the older employee that he go get his immune system screened because I’ve never seen a person who gets sick all the time that doesn’t have some type of deficiency.”

    GET OFF MY PLANET, OP #3. That has to be in the top ten rudest things I’ve ever heard.

    1. ali*


      Seriously, OP, I would have a hard time not smacking you in the face if you said something like that to me.

      1. OP #3*

        Stepping back and hearing someone else’s opinion does put things in perspective. Thanks for the feedback!

    2. en pointe*

      Yes, I don’t understand why anyone would think this is appropriate.

      The coworker in question has already told the OP he’s suffering from both emotional and physical problems, and that their boss is aware of the situation. More than he needed to share with her IMO, but it does make the “immune system” comment seem even more out-of-line.

  20. Puddin*

    #3 – I am a little confused…if they call in every 6 weeks, that comes out to 8-9 absences per year. This falls within the 10 day per year guideline. Are they going over 10 days total per year? Or are they out for multiple days at a time when doing this? If it is just one day at a time, it may be a pain to cover at the last minute, but its within the guidelines set down.

  21. Zillah*

    The long-term employee has informed me, which defending himself about how much he calls off, that he has emotional issues (anxiety, depression from the loss of his father almost 2 years ago) and physical problems. He said that our boss knows about his situation. … I’ve suggested to the older employee that he go get his immune system screened because I’ve never seen a person who gets sick all the time that doesn’t have some type of deficiency.

    OP, it seems like your coworker knows exactly what his problem is, and just doesn’t necessarily want to share it with you. That’s his right. He’s entitled to some privacy regarding his health, especially to random coworkers! Personally, I would not want random coworkers to know all the ins and outs of my medical history, especially if that includes mental health issues. If your boss is okay with the situation, it is what it is. Either deal with it or move on.

  22. Anonymous*

    Others have addressed the other issue.

    The offering a ride issue. It was thoughtful of you to do it. But as someone who doesn’t have a car, I’m really hard pressed to accept a ride from a coworker. I’d rather take a 2 hour bus ride in fact. And that’s with coworkers I really like and don’t mind spending time alone with. (I’m hard pressed to even accept an offer from a long time friend or family member…)

    People who give rides (as we’ve seen over and over again on this forum) get attitudes very quickly about feeling like they “have” to do it even when they are the ones offering repeatedly, or resenting the people they give rides to.
    I really enjoy my time alone in my own head, if that’s a long walk or a bus ride I don’t mind it.
    Someone who is avoiding going out in the snow may be doing so for reasons other than driving in the snow.

    It is generous of you to offer, but you can’t take offense if someone says no. If you do, it’s a demand for acquiescence rather than a genuinely thoughtful offer.

    1. FiveNine*

      The OP already resents the coworker and is borderline hostile to him. There is no way to get around the very real likelihood that this the place the offer is coming from, and of course wouldn’t be appealing.

  23. Aisling*

    OP #5: getting to work at least 15 minutes early is very common in security work. You have to talk to the person you’re relieving to find the status of the site: who’s there, what you have to track, anything that happened earlier or to watch for later, etc. It’s considered bad form to arrive on time, and then make the person you’re relieving stay a few extra minutes because they still have to give you that info. I do t know of many emloyers that pay for the 15 minutes, which isn’t right, but also very common in security work.

    1. Joey*

      I don’t doubt it. Security work is typically contracted out and price is usually a huge factor. My guess is its a way to cut some corners.

    2. Elysian*

      Yeah, I can understand why it would be common, but you should be getting paid (if you’re nonexempt, etc, usual caveats).

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I was coming here to say exactly this. My husband is in security and it’s the same where he works (and every other place he’s worked). I’ve argued about it with him for years that his start time should be 6:45 AM and not 7 AM if that’s what they expect. He insists that’s just the way it is. I’ve given up the argument.

      1. Aisling*

        My fiancé is also in security work, and 10-15 minutes early is considered common. It should be paid, but when you’re a contact worker that can be fired at will, with a huge number of people looking to fill your spot, it’s easy for employers to push the line. My fiancé was also a cop, and the 10-15 minutes early was the norm there too. Just par for the course in security.

      2. Kelly L.*

        I had a retail job where we all were scheduled on the hour but expected to show up at whatever-forty-five, and somehow we successfully convinced the manager to actually put it on the schedule as 8:45 instead of 9. And then they started lecturing us if we didn’t show up at 8:30…

    4. Ann O'Nemity*

      It reminds of a telemarketing job I had in high school. We weren’t paid for the time it took to boot the computer, log into the calling program, and start the first call. It took about 5 minutes, but it added up over time. At the time, I knew it was unfair and suspected it was illegal, but put up with it because I couldn’t find better paying work at the time.

  24. HR lady*

    #5 – do you get to take a lunch break? Is it 20 minutes or more? If so, you might have been considering that to be a paid break in the past, but I’d correlate that with the extra 15 minutes in the morning and there’s your 8-hour day. Your lunch is just unpaid (and perhaps you didn’t realize it).

    The reason I mentioned a 20-minute lunch break is that’s the minimum length for it to be allowed to be unpaid by law. If your lunch break is shorter than that, then it needs to be paid.

  25. yasmara*

    All this discussion of PTO reminds me of an article I read this week – has anyone else read about how Netflix handles its HR policies, including time off? It’s absolutely *fascinating* and completely different than most large US companies:


    (no paywall, but HBR does require free registration – it’s worth it!)

    I work for a very large company (VLC) and basically my VLC does everything completely opposite from Netflix. It was mind-blowing to think about not tracking vacation, sick leave, etc. and not having an expense policy beyond “do what’s best for the company”! They key to all this freedom is an aggressively managed talent pool – i.e., if you’re not performing, Netflix lets you go and hires someone who they think will perform.

    Relevant to this discussion and AAM in general, the article mentions that the burden is on the first line managers to *manage* their employees. Without excessive policies, employees and managers are required to have ongoing conversations about performance, attendance, spending, skills etc. I would love to have a follow-up in another few years – is it still working? Most interesting thing I’ve read this month!

    1. Yup*

      *Very* interesting reading. I especially agreed with the part about having excellent colleagues, versus plush offices & sushi & whatnot.

      They seemed to be fairly self-aware about their thinking; I appreciated that they’ve defined themselves as a creative industry and verbalize that their way of doing things isn’t appropriate for, say, managing nuclear reactors.

    2. Meganly*

      Netflix has had that policy for over a decade, so it must be working pretty well for them!

      My sister used to work at a place with an identical leave policy. With the intense culture there, it meant no one ever took time off (even if you were sick) because doing so meant you were a slacker. =/

      1. Jamie*

        That would be my biggest hurdle with that.

        I know how much leave I have at any time, it’s printed on each direct deposit voucher. It’s finite, but it’s mine.

        If there was unlimited leave I’d never take any unless desperately sick – I wouldn’t be able to function under a system with no structure.

        I know some people can – but the thought of that makes my brain itchy.

        1. Whippers*

          Yeah, there was a discussion on here a while ago about unlimited leave policies. And I have to say, it does not sound very appealing in practice.

    3. Lauren*

      My company has elements of this policy. For example, we get an allotment of vacation days based on tenure (starting with 3 weeks minimum), as well as 2 personal holidays that we can take whenever we want (regardless of tenure or job function), and unlimited sick days. The vacation time accrues throughout the year technically, but in practice theresis no place to track it. The only time you are asked to officially submit your vacation time is in situations of extended leave (e.g., FMLA). As far as sick days go, the policy is in place to encourage folks not to come into the office sick. It also takes the discussion away from people feeling like they don’t get enough sick time or like they don’t “get” to use all of their sick time. In this case, everyone had the exact amount of sick time they need. If it becomes an issue of someone taking too much time off and it seems as if that person isn’t really sick, their manager can work through that (with hr if needed), but in most cases it just results in placing focus back on the job performance and not on hours/days present. Same with the fact that vacation isn’t tracked in some automated system through hr or whatever. Some managers choose to have their direct reports submit it and others don’t – ultimately, as long as the work is getting done and getting done well, vacation time isn’t an issue or discussion point. Does this result in some folks taking an extra day here or there, maybe… but from what I’ve seen it really hasn’t been an issue, and not having to worry about not having enough sick time to take care of your health has a pretty good morale effect.

  26. Poohbear McGriddles*

    OP#3 crossed the line with the comment to the guy about getting his immune system checked, but was spot on in their observation that the root of the problem is a lack of rules regarding what constitutes acceptable attendance. Perhaps the OP’s firm takes the Netflix approach of no attendance rules, choosing to instead focus on performance. That works in some places, but it is apparently affecting other employees’ performance in that firm.
    If management is aware of the problem (that excessive absences by certain employees are unfairly increasing the workload for others) and choose not to address it, the OP needs to decide whether they want to continue their employment there under those conditions, because it isn’t likely to change.

  27. Oxford Comma*

    OP#2 – I am wondering what type of library this was. I work at an academic one and when we have candidates, we’re invited to see them present. Other than greeting the applicant and asking questions, we really don’t interact with them at the presentation. Although we typically have far more than 5 people present.

  28. Samantha*

    I guess I should have explained my reasoning for describing her work ethic the way I did. We live in a relatively small community. I have close friends that she has supervised in the past. Her reputation makes it difficult for me to trust her as a manager. And I have been helping her to settle in but given the sheer amount of knowledge you must have to understand the procedures in a state agency, experience is a must. So although my question gave the impression that I am upset with her, it is quite the opposite. I am fairly new to this industry as well, and I want to learn and continue to grow in my career but given her inexperience I am unsure how to benefit from this. Please only give advice, not criticism, on my (very brief) situation.

    1. Jill of All Trades*

      1. Seek out a mentor who has the experience to help you with this specific career path.
      2. Use your manager’s reputation to your advantage. Example: I once worked in a specific group in a call center, and I was pretty new to the group. We got a supervisor transferred in who’d had an affair with the husband of her best friend who used to work in that group, so everyone knew all about it. She also didn’t have experience (she came in through the leadership development program). I took advantage of my lack of knowing her affair victim to compartmentalize preconceived notions about her fitness for the job and never let on that I’d heard a peep about the drama. I didn’t actually trust her but she didn’t know that, and she really appreciated not having an uphill battle with getting respect from me. I supported her and I did what I could to help her out and did my job well, and in return she was actually the best, most supportive supervisor I ever had. When else has anyone here heard of a supervisor pulling a call center employee off the phone during a busy shift to give her a mock interview to practice for a real interview in a totally different department?

      I know your situation is different but it may be possible for you to find a similarly Machiavellian way to turn this new manager into one of your biggest supporters; if you’ve heard about her reputation, so have the others, and they’ll probably let it show. Don’t trust her, but don’t push her away either. She may be awful like some of the other examples given, but she may just actually be inept and will be very rewarding to someone who makes her life easier.

  29. Inhellskitchn*

    My repeated requests to take my already earned/accrued vacation time is being repeatedly denied by my manager. I have worked in a large California tribal gaming casino as an hourly employee for five years. I have earned, and taken, vacations without any problems in the past. My relatively new manager, who has been here only about a year, refuses my current year’s request for some time off. Other co-workers are suffering my same fate also. In fact, I’m working more overtime than ever, and am becoming dangerously close to “burning-out”. This is a large casino (I won’t name it). What can I do? My manager won’t negotiate, and retaliation is highly probable if I do speak-up. PS, “I have several recent employee citations for good work from this same manager. Maybe I need a good labor law attorney? “Tribal sovereignty?” Help!

    1. Inhellskitchen*

      I forgot to mention that it’s been already one year since I last took any time off. Plus, I have at least 3 weeks of accrued vacation at this point.

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