employee didn’t seem happy to get a raise, my coworker has pinkeye, and more

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

1. Employee had a sour reaction when I gave him a raise

Recently I gave a part-time employee a pay raise. All our part-timers are paid pretty modestly, but he got a significant raise for his stellar performance. When I gave him the good news, his response was to be completely underwhelmed and say “thanks for the information” before skulking out of the room looking visibly sour.

As I would expect any of my employees to be glad to see an extra bit of money per hour, I am admittedly flummoxed. Should this be a red flag? Do I need to follow up with him, or is it possible I just caught him on a particularly bad day?

It’s possible you caught him on a bad day, but I’d follow up anyway, because it’s possible that something is going on that you should know about — that he’s miserable with the job, that he thinks (rightly or wrongly) that he deserves a far higher raise and is insulted by what you offered, or who knows what. I’d say something like, “I had trouble reading your reaction the other day when I talked to you about your raise. I’d hoped you’d be happy about it. Is everything okay?”

The key is not to say this in a tone that signals “you are now in trouble for not being sufficiently excited about your raise,” but rather “I’m concerned; how are you?”

Also, if you know this guy to be generally un-emotive and you could imagine him reacting this way even if you told him he had won the lottery, ignore all the above and just write this off to how he is.

2. My coworker has pinkeye and I don’t want to get infected

I just arrived at work today to find my coworker has a severe case of pinkeye – as in, oozing and swollen and visibly infected. He said he caught it from his daughter but that his doctor said he was not contagious.

He’s been touching everything in the office (restroom, fixtures, coffee machine). On top of my general concern is the fact that I’m 38 weeks pregnant and could go into labor at any time and theoretically transfer it to my newborn.

He has no plans to leave and keeps insisting he’s not contagious, so am I wrong to want to leave immediately rather than be in close proximity with such a contagious disease? What’s the most frustrating is that we all do a job that can very easily be done remotely for any length of time. What to do when someone insists on being a health risk?

That’s gross, but it’s actually possible that he’s not contagious; there are contagious and non-contagious forms of pinkeye. That said, I can see why you wouldn’t want to risk picking it up. Since your job can be done at home, why not tell your boss that if your coworker is going to be coming into work with his oozing eyes, you’d rather not take the risk that it is indeed contagious and will be working at home until his infection passes?

As for why people do this when they could easily stay home, it’s one of the three greatest office mysteries. (The second is: Why can’t anyone keep the office kitchen clean? The third is: Why are we all in this meeting?)

3. I’m being left out of important department communications

I’ve been in my position for just over a year, and while I like the work and my coworkers, there’s a nagging issue that keeps cropping up from time to time. I am the first new hire in the department in 6 years. The tenure of other staff in the department ranges from 8 years to 30+ years. I was hired to replace someone who took a lateral transfer to a new department that was created by the CEO. Thus, there has been very little change, apart from the occasional intern.

I’ve learned how to do my job, and got an excellent review and a raise, but I keep running in to the same problem. When a new regulatory issue arises (as it often does in our field), about a quarter of the time, I get left off the announcement or email discussion, and only find out secondhand. This has potentially serious implications for the organization. Last week, I almost sent out a report that incorrectly counted a particular group of people because I used the “old” rules I was trained under, and that our documentation still lists. The new rules had been sent to everyone on staff in January — everyone but me. I only found out when I made conversation about the project with a coworker, who said, “Oh, it looks like the boss forgot to include you on that email. Don’t count only x now, count x and y.” We don’t keep up well with documenting these changes on our internal site, and I don’t have the authority to insist on it, but this mistake could have resulted in a hefty fine and a lot of embarrassment to re-submit the reports. I’m now trusted enough to send these kinds of reports out without oversight, but am starting to really second-guess everything I do!

I have spoken to some of my coworkers personally and asked to be included, and they comply for a while, and then it happens again — and like I said above, even my boss does it! Any suggestions on how I can stay in the loop better? Everyone likes me, and I get along well with people. It seems like they are maybe just set in their ways and I slip off the radar.

Can you suggest that a group email address be set up for this sort of thing, so that you’re not being left off of these emails? You should also mention this to your boss so that it’s on her radar as an issue to watch out for, but really, it sounds like a group email address would solve a lot of this.

4. Can I ask how I can become the type of candidate this company wants to hire?

There is a freelance position I really, really want that is continually reposted on a company’s website. I think I may be qualified, but if I’m not I’d like to know how to become the kind of candidate this company wants. Is it appropriate to email the woman doing the hiring and ask her what I’d need to do to become qualified for the position, in a polite way? Or to just ask for advice? What about reaching out on LinkedIn? I’ve searched through all my contacts for someone who’s connected to the company, hoping to get a step closer, but to no avail. Is there anything I can do to get closer to this job beyond just (obviously) applying? I’m a new grad and new to this whole job search thing, and I have trouble with the line between what’s considered typical networking and what’s considered irritating (I really don’t want to be that guy).

Sure, you can do that. Email the hiring manager something like this: “I’m a recent graduate and I’d love to do the type of working you’re hiring for with your X position. I wonder if you’d be willing to give me some feedback on how I can become better qualified for this type of role. I’d love to set up a 10-minute phone call at any time convenient for you and get your insight on to how I can position myself for this work in the future. Or, if email is easier for you, I’d be grateful for that too.” (Attach your resume so that they don’t have to ask for it.)

However, I wouldn’t do this at the same time that you’re applying for the job; these are two separate endeavors, and if you combine them, you risk getting less helpful information because you’ll look like you’re just seeking a back-end way into their interviews.

5. Can I resubmit my resume for a job I applied for a month ago?

I applied for a position advertised by a recruitment agency over a month ago. Since then, I’ve noticed that the original ad is still up, and was actually reposted a few days ago. I’ve reworked my resume to better demonstrate my ability to meet the demands of the position. Do you think it would be advisable to submit my new resume again? Also, in your professional opinion, what would you think about this ad being renewed? The world of the recruitment agency is new, fascinating, intimidating, and infuriating all in one go, and I’m up to my neck in opinions!

Nope, don’t resubmit. You’ll look disorganized, like you didn’t realize you’d already applied for it.

Don’t read anything into the ad being reposted. All it means is that the position is still open, nothing more.

{ 220 comments… read them below }

  1. A Bug!

    #@:

    Pinkeye is gross; I missed work unpaid for three days when I was otherwise fine to work because I know it’s gross and I didn’t want to gross out others. Watched a lot of Stargate that week.

    That said, I had gone to my doctor the second I realized that it wasn’t just a stubborn grain of sand in my eye (which was my assumption given that I’d been at the beach all weekend), and after he wrote out my prescription, he told me that as long as I kept my hands washed and didn’t touch my face that I’d be unlikely to spread it to others. My partner didn’t pick it up from me and I didn’t do anything too special as far as home hygiene went outside of changing my pillowcase nightly.

    If you think you might see complications related to your pregnancy, give your doctor a call and see what the recommendation is? Attentive hygiene might be enough to keep you from picking it up. But if you’re really grossed out about it and concerned (and I don’t blame you), staying home yourself is probably the best option.

    1. Jessica (the celt)

      +1 for an excuse to watch more Stargate! “Undomesticated equines could not remove me.”

      Also, I agree with the advice to check in with your doctor and/or seeing if your boss would be okay with your staying home, particularly if your job is easy to do remotely anyway. I currently work in a school, and I’m always surprised at the number of students AND coworkers who come in with contagious illnesses, so I agree that it’s one of the three greatest office mysteries. The kitchen one, especially when the kitchen is used only by adults, never fails to shock me. (Why do adults assume someone else wants to do their dishes and clean up after them? It’s your mug; clean it!)

  2. Artemesia

    The word contagious is often used by medical personnel to refer to diseases like measles or colds or flu that can be caught through the air. Communicable is the word they use for diseases that are caught other ways e.g. by touching something touched by an infected person or by sharing needles etc etc. This guy caught pink eye from his daughter so obviously it is communicable if he is touching things other people will be touching. You won’t get it by sitting in the same room but you can easily get it if you forget for a moment and touch your face or rub your eye after touching the door knob, phone, copy machine or whatever the heck else he is depositing his icky gunk on.

    Most pink eye can be cleared up in a day or two with antibiotics. The viral kind, maybe not so fast and not with antibiotics, but it is certainly potentially spreadable.

    If he won’t work from home, you should if you can. Otherwise stay away from him and wash your hands constantly. Bummer.

    1. Canadamber

      Oh God I touch my face ALL the time. It’s such a bad habit of mine, but I’m always so itchy!!!

      1. AmyNYC

        Me too! I have hand sanitizer on my desk, but if I ever forget and touch my face before I use it, OH MY GOD SUBWAY ON MY FACE!

        1. LBK

          Touching my face/any of my stuff after being on the train without washing my hands first gives me serious heebie jeebies. The things I see touch those poles, especially during cold/flu season…*shudders*

        2. Anoners

          Ugh. There is nothing like rubbing your face after you were just on the subway. Not a good feeling.

        3. Emily K

          This is what my doctor friends have warned me about – most people don’t get sick from eating with dirty hands, they get sick from rubbing their eyes with dirty hands. Your body expects all kinds of things to come in through your mouth and your saliva/stomach acid will neutralize most germs that come in that way…but it doesn’t expect germs to be getting in through your eyes and there are few immune defenses to germs that come in through the eyes.

      2. Artemesia

        Me too. I try not to touch anything after riding public transport and the first thing I do when returning from the gym in the building is wash my hands — and I use the sanitizer at the gym. But when you are in the habit of rubbing your eyes or nose, it is so automatic you do it without thinking. But knowing there is a bug about, you can try to be extra cautious and at least wash hands frequently.

      3. Stephanie

        I had an eczema outbreak on my face and it’s gotten really itchy. An Rx is helping, but all I want to do is scratch all the scabs. Ugh. Work faster, medication.

  3. Marcoms Coordinator

    #1/

    I had conjunctivitis a few years ago (the viral kind, not bacterial), and stayed home for a week on command from my manager – they just didn’t want to take the risk and put anyone else in danger of getting it.

    Of course, it was bad enough that I couldn’t actually see well enough to watch a TV show, let alone sit in front of a computer all day, so I would have had to take the sick leave anyway.

    Hopefully your manager sees sense and either lets you work from home, or sends this guy home!

    1. Elizabeth West

      Of course, it was bad enough that I couldn’t actually see well enough to watch a TV show, let alone sit in front of a computer all day, so I would have had to take the sick leave anyway.

      Oh man, that would KILL me. I’d have the Internet implanted in my head if I could. My penchant for old radio shows would come in really handy in that case.

      I wondered about this just the other day, when allergies attacked and my eye was itching like mad. We have a policy that you don’t come in if you’re sick, but I’d have to ask about pinkeye.

      1. Marcoms Coordinator

        It was absolute torture – as someone who is VERY digitally-based for all her social activities and hobbies, I really struggled to find something to do. In that time, my apartment was the cleanest it had ever been!

    2. Anonymous

      I had the same things about a month ago, and the discharge was so bad I couldn’t even drive myself to urgent care I had to have someone else do it. And lots of doctors will still prescribe antibiotics for a viral infection.

    3. athek

      I was told to stay at home when I had shingles — My rash was on my back and was covered at all times, but since I work with susceptible populations it was requested that I stay home just in case. It really worked out for the better for everyone, even though my risk of transmitting it was extremely low.
      I also scratched my cornea one day, and even though that definitely wasn’t contagious, I wish I had gone home that day. I looked like a hot mess, everyone asked me why I was crying all day, and I was kind of miserable. Sometimes staying home is worthwhile even when you aren’t contagious or communicable, and I’m sorry that your coworker doesn’t see that, OP!

  4. Fucshia

    #3 – A group email list is absolutely the right way to do these sort of emails.

    But OP, I wanted to question one thing you said. You said you don’t have the authority to insist on getting these messages. Has someone specifically told you that? If they have not, then you absolutely do have that authority. Unless they are truly disfunctional, giving you permission to publicize information on the company’s behalf also gives you the authority to ensure it is accurate. Authority isn’t always specifically stated. It is many times just implied.

    1. LBK

      I disagree – if the CEO is sending out the email, OP probably can’t just walk up to her and ask that she be included. I’m not completely sure where OP ranks in the organization based on the email but it sounds like there are several layers of management between her and the people that are sending these emails sometimes, so it would be somewhat inappropriate to go talk to them directly. It should be done through OP’s manager.

      1. AB

        If the CEO is sending out messages on mundane updates to government policy, it’s likely a small enough company that the OP could stop by the CEO’s assistant’s desk and say “I need to be included on this distribution list”. She absolutely should go to her manager though.

        1. LBK

          The assistant might be an acceptable avenue for some of the higher ups involved in this, although I still wouldn’t say it as forcefully as that. It’s conceivable that some of the people sending the info out don’t realize OP should be included, or they expect that OP’s manager will pass on the relevant emails.

          1. A Teacher

            I don’t see that as forceful, assertive yes. You have to be assertive at work sometimes, its just the reality of life. If I’m not getting what I need from my assistant principal or boss, I will say easily, “I haven’t been included on the group email, I need to be included.” You can be pleasant while being assertive but having no backbone won’t get you too far.

            1. LBK

              It depends on the nature of their relationship. If these are higher up people that the OP doesn’t have much of a relationship with beyond receiving the email updates, it wouldn’t be appropriate to approach them directly and bluntly state that you need them to do something, especially if you’ve never approached them about the issue before.

              I’m not saying hide under your desk and accept when people above you do things you don’t like, but you can have a backbone while still being polite and approaching things in a non-confrontational manner.

    2. Anon

      What other communication channels are in place? Is there not a ~weekly meeting where key issues are discussed?

  5. EngineerGirl

    #1 – you need to talk to him, definately. It’s possible that your raise feels like a slap in the face. If Sally Slacker got a 2% raise and Sarah Star only got a 4% raise there could be problems. Especially is Sally is cutting out work early forcing Sarah to work weekends and until 2 am. While Sarah’s raise is bigger it is still wildly disproportionate with the efforts involved.

    1. A Cita

      I was also thinking that maybe the worker was hoping to move to full time and this felt like a new way of preventing that from happening. Sort of like throwing half a banana to a starving monkey.

        1. anon-2

          Then he should have said something, and assertively made that known.

          As Teddy Roosevelt once said “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

          1. Ruffingit

            Agreed he should have said something if that was his desire, but I can also see being taken by surprise by it as in, perhaps all signs were pointing to his being made full-time and then he finds out he’s actually getting a raise that will amount to a tiny increase in his paycheck. Not saying his reaction was appropriate because I can’t know that, but I can see walking away subdued rather than having the “I want to be made full-time” conversation on the spot.

    2. AnotherAlison

      And there’s also the case where the max the company is giving that year is 3%, so you’re kind of p.o’d when your rock star effort only nets 3%. Why bother? The raise percentages need to be pretty big at the low end of the pay scale to make much difference, esp. for a part-timer.
      $15/hr * 3% is 45 cents an hour. 20 hr/week, 52 weeks would net an extra $468 per year. Big deal. Obviously I’m just making up numbers here, but even a dollar an hour (6.6% in my hypothetical $15 case) is only about $1,000 per year.

      1. Joey

        Yeah, this is why I hate that a lot of companies do percentage raises instead of dollar amounts. 5% to the bottom guy feels like just enough to keep up with inflation while 5% to someone making 6 figures can be enough to take the family on a nice vacation to Hawaii.

        1. Laura2

          Yep. At another job I got a ~2.8% raise. I wasn’t really displeased about it, but it wasn’t even enough to cover the increase in my cost of living and my manager acted like it was a huge prize when really it amounted to about a $1000 increase over the entire year.

          1. thenoiseinspace

            I’m at a public university, which hasn’t had raises (not even to match cost of living) in six years. They finally approved a raise this year for some employees, and it’s for the whopping amount of two-thirds of a single percent. That’s right, a 0.66% raise. Even people who retired are getting a regular cost of living increase every year, and when you could be making more money by NOT doing your job any more, it keeps morale pretty dang low.

              1. thenoiseinspace

                I’m limited term – most new jobs are starting out as “limited term” permatemp jobs for up to five years, meaning no job security and you don’t qualify for raises. But yes, most people keep an eye on the job market while they’re here.

            1. A Teacher

              We just extended our contract for two years. 1% one year and .5% next year all while the state of Illinois expects an increased 2% (to 11% approximately) increase in our pension contribution and our insurance went up. I actually made a little less money last year even with a “raise”

              1. Anon for this one

                Yes, it is frustrating to have that happen. My sibling, a teacher, griped to me about how the raise that year would not pay for the increase in health insurance premiums so the annual take-home would decline.

                The problem was, the complaint was made after I was laid off, and after I had worked for half a dozen years without a raise, during which time the reimbursement (for the required cell phone) was dropped, the mileage reimbursement stood at around 30 cents when the IRS rate was above 50 cents (yes, I know it can still come off taxes, but you have to itemize), the 401(k) match was dropped, and the health insurance premium share employees paid went up every year. I felt my sibling needed to feel more fortunate to have a pension and a job, and to understand that other voters might have my perspective when it came to school budget season — even though traditionally I have been a person who thinks teaching is generally underappreciated and underpaid.

                To a certain extent, complaining about wages is like complaining about medical problems. There always seems to be someone with a horror story that is worse than your personal horror story.

                1. Joey

                  Fwiw, premiums go up every year for just about everyone. Lots of people mistakenly attribute it to a company being cheap and pocketing the difference, but in reality the amount they’re contributing to your premiums usually increases as well. It’s usually a function of high employee claims and almost always insurance companies raising rates.

                2. also anon

                  Not to be snarky, but seems like your situation was one where the writing was on the wall. I doubt the company was reducing expenses because business was booming. You probably should have been looking about 5 years earlier.

        2. anon-2

          Absolutely.

          Early in my career – I eventually had to leave a job over salary disputes. But one year stinting raises were issued — management was covered because everyone was “promoted”.

          One manager tried to explain = “Oh, it affects me, TOO”… yes, I have to decide whether to pay the gas or electric bill, or if my bald tires can survive another month – and he has to decide if he’s going to cut the country club dues or the cruise.

          Yeah, right.

      2. KrisL

        One reason to bother with being a rock star is to get the kind of reputation that will get you a bigger raise next year (hopefully),.

    3. MaryMary

      Agreed. You, the manager, might be happy with the raise you managed to get for your employee, but it may work out to less than $50 or so per paycheck. Not that that’s anything to sneeze at, but it’s not momentous for most people.

      The first time I managed people, I fought hard to get my stellar new hire a raise. The company was not giving generous raises that year, and I was pretty pleased with myself for the 3% I got for him (a lot of solid performers got no raise at all that year). In his review, I framed the raise as a big deal, as recognition of how much we valued him. The 3% worked out to about $1,000 a year, or roughly $40 per paycheck. Before taxes. My new hire was not pleased, the way I framed it he thought he was going to get a major bump. At least several thousand, maybe five digits. We worked through it, but I learned a lot about setting expectations and framing raises (and bonuses, if you’re lucky enough to be there) properly.

      1. Joey

        The other thing that doesn’t make it sting as bad is putting the raise into context. For example, if everyone in your industry is laying off any raise at all will feel much sweeter. Or if the company is doing other things that are of value it won’t sting as bad. For example, if you implement flex schedules or telecommuting with a small raise you’ll probably get a positive response.

        1. Ethyl

          Yes definitely — when my partner got a raise his boss made it clear he went to bat for him, and that usually the COLA was 1-3%, so the 7.5% felt much nicer even though we were hoping for 10 :)

        2. Amtelope

          Yeah, the year that we all got tiny raises plus permission to telecommute one day a week, everybody was thrilled.

        3. Ruffingit

          This. Seriously this. If you’re going to give percentage raises that amount to almost nothing in terms of the take-home pay, offer some other incentive as part of it especially when you’re making the argument for how much you value that employee. “Oh really? You VALUE me?? Thanks for the raise that basically allows me to buy an extra Subway sandwich every month since taxes are going to suck most of it out and leave me with about $10 extra. Woo hoo.” But, if you give the raise and some extra paid time off or vacation days or something, then you’re likely to get a better response.

          If you truly value your employees and you can’t get them extra cash that makes enough of a difference in their lives, then get them something else that will do so.

      2. Dan

        Honestly, I wish managers would just lead out with raises when they aren’t that big. IOW, my raises have always been associated with my annual review where we go through the review first and then talk about “what I’ve won” as a result of my hard work.

        It’s really hard for me to focus on the review part, because I see it as something I have to “get through” to get my raise.

      3. Looby

        I got moved to a new position and received a $1000 raise. Great, but the mandatory overtime of my new position was less than my old one. I gained $1000 extra a year in salary and lost $2800 a year in overtime. To say I was underwhelmed when I did the math is an understatement.

      4. Kerr

        +1. I know someone who was called in for a performance review (some years ago) and told, all smiles, that they were getting a raise for their great work! Exciting! It was…wait for it…a raise of twenty-five cents an hour. He said thank you, but “enthusiastic” was not a word he would have used to describe his response.

    4. Dan

      Yup. Also, raise history is important. At Old Job, I got a 0% raise for the first two annual review cycles. Finally, when I was at my “now or out” moment, I got a promotion and a 7.5% raise. Whatever excitement I had over the promotion was tempered by the fact that this was the bare minimum they needed to do to keep me from leaving. That 7.5 raise is an annualized 2.43%, which really is just keeping up with inflation. No, I’m not thrilled with 2.43% raises. Now, had I gotten 2% raises the prior years, I would have been thrilled to death with 7.5%.

      At that job, they started me off pretty well. But I do wish they would have managed expectations in that regard. First job out of school, I know nothing about reading tea leaves.

      1. AnotherAlison

        “First job out of school”

        I don’t know if it’s true for all industries, but I definitely had a “hockey stick” salary curve for my first 10 years. Woo! But, after that, things slowed down unless you got a big promotion. Fortunately, I worked with Mr. Brutally Honest when I was a young pup & knew what to expect.

        1. Judy

          Most places I’ve been, they give a raise pool of say 3%, and the departments have a total salary of X, means the bosses have .03*X to use among the team. So it’s much easier to give a higher percent to the lower end of the pay range.

          So if you had 5 people that make $100,000 a year and one that makes $50,000, with a 3% raise pool, you have $16,500 to spread among them. That could be $3,000 to the 5 and $1500 to the other. Or it could be $3000 to the lower paid employee (6%) while everyone else gets $2700 (2.7%).

          That’s one reason why the raises tend to be percentage wise higher in the early part of the career.

  6. Josh S

    “As for why people do this when they could easily stay home, it’s one of the three greatest office mysteries. (The second is: Why can’t anyone keep the office kitchen clean? The third is: Why are we all in this meeting?)”

    TRUTH. Seriously. Why are we all in this meeting!?! ALL DAY LONG!?!

    1. Jessa

      Why they do it is because they can’t easily stay home – either they have no sick pay, or work in an office environment where calling off is strongly discouraged.

      1. Stephanie

        +1

        Yup, OldJob barely gave any sick leave (two days annually), so once you exceeded that, your options were to (1) Take a vacation day (assuming you had any remaining) (2) Take unpaid leave or (3) beg HR to let you exceed your sick days. Given all those options, sometimes it was easier just to come in and be the Office Typhoid Mary.

        1. Gilby

          Yep !!

          Last job we got points for calling in or leaving early and had very little PTO to use , no sick days.

          If we went to work sick, pink eye, broken legs, tzee tzee fly disease, and a manager said… OMG you are too sick.. go home… go the urgent care….. they gave you a point…..

          Seriously. And I don’t think it was to give you a point it was because they were concenred but they still, policy wise had to give you a point for missing work.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Exjob didn’t give sick days at all. It was just two weeks of vacation time for the entire year. If you were sick and had to stay home, you either took it unpaid or used your vacation. Lucky for me, I don’t get that sick very often. And I had enough to cover me when I had my gallbladder out the day before Thanksgiving one year.

          1. Midge

            I feel for you. I had my gallbladder out between Christmas and New Year’s. It worked out pretty well, actually, because there were a few days where I couldn’t really go up or down the stairs. I can’t imagine how bad the recovery was before they started doing it laparoscopically.

      2. straws

        Plus, even if the office encourages and supports remote work, that doesn’t mean that everyone has an environment conducive to that. I’ve waived my right to remote work before simply because I had roommates that didn’t understand telecommuting and would constantly bother me no matter what I did.

      3. Not So NewReader

        This. If you have an office environment where a person gets “the treatment” for having a sick day, then no one is going to call in sick.
        It’s not worth being isolated/ignored by all for an entire week just to get one day of rest. Matter of fact, how can one even rest knowing that the rest of the week is going to be hell to pay?

        Also look at company policy. Some companies will give extra pay if you only take one or two sick days per year. This is hugely meaningful to people on the lower end of the pay scale. Such a policy would cause people to show up with drippy eyes or worse.

        If you work for a sane company, then that employee has no reason to be at work. All he is doing is grossing out other people. I tend to think that in this case there is a “look at me” factor- “Look at me, look at how devoted I am!”

      4. Not an IT Guy

        Exactly! At Old Job I was ordered by my manager never to get sick or call off…so needless to say I never did. And where I’m at now I have no backup so I really can’t miss work without causing a hardship to the company.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          “Hardship to the company”…I love how they say that, as if they’d go out of business if you took a day off to take care of your child/partner/parent, but if they don’t like something you do, they start talking smack about how replaceable you are, or even threaten to fire you.

          (Not my current job, just having flashbacks to previous ones.)

      5. Lora

        Or because their Exjob or Exboss has conditioned them to come to work no matter what. I used to have to send people home VERY LOUDLY. I am not the type of person to ever raise my voice, I rarely even have to firmly assert myself. But holy moly, EVERY time even the meekest and most submissive employees got sick, and I would say, “I think you should go home and rest,” and they had AMPLE sick time, nevertheless they would, “oh no *coughcough* I’m OK to work *sneeze*”. One of the few times I really raised my voice was to insist that one of the employees work from home, NOW, because I don’t want your germs.

        I could just slap all youse guys’ bosses who make you come to work sick. No, you do not have your employees work sick, because it’s gross and dehumanizing and it’s also just RUDE. That’s why.

        1. HR Lady

          Lora, I’m glad you do this! Do the employees still have to use their sick leave if you send them home? Our employees have an unspoken “rule” that they think if the manager sends them home they don’t have to use their sick leave. So they will purposely wait to be told to go home so that they don’t have to use it.

      6. Meg

        >Why they do it is because they can’t easily stay home – either they have no sick pay, or work in an office environment where calling off is strongly discouraged.

        But this isn’t about those who can’t easily stay home. I think the condition is “when they COULD easily stay home.” If you could easily work from home, get sick pay, have no adverse action because you stayed home sick (which the LW seems to have indicated is likely), then why would you bother coming in?

      7. Sunflower

        Even in this situation, the LW notes that the job can be done easily from home but never notes how the company feels about it. I work at a job that can be done easily from home but my company won’t allow it unless there are dire weather conditions and sometimes we are required to write a log of everything we did- it can be more stressful than working from the office. It’s dumb but most of the time people would rather just come to work which I guess is what the company wants anyway.

        1. Pinkeye OP

          I’m the pinkeye OP – just to clarify, we do receive plenty of sick days, but management is fine with us working remotely for almost any reason, and without having to use sick days if we are actually working from home.

  7. Dang

    #5- what if it’s a job you applied and interviewed for awhile ago (as in last summer) and you never heard back? I don’t think the position was ever filled and the recruiter I worked with left while I was still interviewing. Admittedly I would never consider reapplying at such a place but after being out of work for almost a year, I think I probably should…

    1. Fiona

      I’d say go for it – 6 to 9 months is a lot different than 6 to 9 weeks. :) I would say in my cover letter something to the effect of, “I applied for this position last July and noticed it’s still open; I wanted to reiterate my interest.” – just in case you’re still on their radar, then THEY know that YOU know that you’ve already applied once.

      1. Dang

        Thanks!!! I had to create a new login which made me think something strange happened. I will do that!

  8. Stephanie

    #2: Ewwwwwwwww.
    #4: Perma-ads always give me pause. Doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong, it just seems weird when I see a job repeatedly posted (for something not in the C-suite or crazy specialized).

    1. Jen RO

      #4 – Yeah… I guess it depends, but I once interviewed for a job and declined it because they wanted to pay under the table. The job was reposted for close to a year… it *was* fairly specialized, but all other jobs in the same field were filled within a few months.

    2. MissDisplaced

      I always wonder about the “PermaAds” for jobs as well. I’ve seen the same one for a place in my area running for at least 6 months straight (and I’ve also seen it 2 years ago when I was unemployed).

      This is for a fairly common marketing communications type job that is not executive level or requiring a special skill set, software knowledge or anything unusual for the industry.

    3. Midge

      Agree with you on the perma-ads. There’s a local organization that posts the same temp to hire position every year. It’s an executive assistant type job at a small organization, so I can’t imagine they need more than one of these people at a time. My guess is that the director is a nightmare to work with, and no one lasts past the temp stage.

    4. manybellsdown

      I was thinking that too, because it reminded me of an interview I recently had. I noticed the ad was up 3 months later, so I emailed and asked if the position was still open and would they review my resume?

      I got two interviews out of that and a “let’s schedule you to come observe a class after the holidays” and then … silence. I think their poor communication was a big red flag. They’d probably forgotten the ad was even up.

  9. Andrea

    I once had a couple of coworkers who never stayed home when they were sick, always opting to come in to the office and infect us all. When anyone mentioned it—-because in that office, we all received lots of sick leave and were able to work from home just about any time—-they’d explain that they didn’t want to stay home, because that’s where their sick kids were, along with their SAHM/wives (often also sick), and they just didn’t want to deal with it and would rather have quiet at work. Yeah, not kidding. I’ve heard similar explanations from colleagues in other offices, and my best friend’s coworkers tell her the same thing.

    1. Colette

      I can see not wanting to work from home if there are sick kids there – depending on the setup, it wouldn’t be a productive day.

      Of course, taking a sick day would be completely reasonable in that situation.

      1. Andrea

        Oh, yeah, I wasn’t clear: my point was not that working from home was the best option—-I was just appalled that they didn’t want to be home, taking a sick day. It was like, “Stay home? But that’s where my kids are! I’ll just come to the office and make everyone sick.”

        1. MaggietheCat

          …and then my office mates can go home and make *their* kids sick! That’s the worst! We had an employee last year come in with the flu and knock out half of the office. The worst part was hearing that people went home and infected their children :( (Our company gives plenty! of sick time and is great about unpaid time by the way). grr!

        2. Colette

          Yeah, part of having kids is that sometimes they get sick and you need to look after them. Seeing it as your partner’s responsibility or something you don’t ever do is not OK.

  10. JLo

    # 2 The most important thing is wash your hands, soap and water don’t do the trick, we have to scrub the friction is actually what gets rid of germs. Your doctor can tell you what to do for sure.
    Contagious can be any disease that we transmit to each other, through contact, air or fluids, communicable are any infectious diseases that are in a community, which are, of course contagious.
    Your co-worker should stay home for a day or two if it is that ugly.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I was told to use soap and water and scrub for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday in your mind. Length of time spent washing is key.

      1. AmyNYC

        Twinkle Twinkle Little Star also works. (Ready to have your mind blown?: IT’S THE SAME MELODY AS THE ALPHABET SONG)

          1. Aunt Vixen

            French folk song: “Ah!, vous dirai-je, Maman”. The original lyrics have to do with the narrator telling Maman s/he’s upset because Papa doesn’t agree that eating candy is better than thinking rationally like an adult. :-)

            Mozart composed twelve variations on this basic tune, but didn’t originate the tune itself.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Why am I just learning this now, at this age? How come I did not see that before???? sigh.

          1. Ann Furthermore

            I didn’t realize it until I had my daughter and she started learning both those songs at daycare and school.

        2. fposte

          There’s a triplet–“Baa Baa Black Sheep” is the same melody as well.

          Ah, the old days, when only posh folk could get shiny new tunes for their songs.

        3. Anon E Mouse

          I drove one of my best friends nuts when her kids were little, because I would sing to them: “ABCDEFG, how I wonder what you are, one for the master and one for the dame, next time won’t you sing with me?”

          1. Cath@VWXYNot?

            I drove my SIL nuts because when I was a kid in England I learned an alphabet song with a different tune from the North American version (i.e. NOT Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), and singing it to her kids confused them greatly.

        1. Anon for this one

          If you don’t like singing the happy birthday song, singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat will also get you through the 20 seconds. That’s the song one Cooperative Extension office I knew of suggested. Of course, you don’t get to make up outrageous names for the putative birthday person to make the repetitive singing more tolerable if you sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat.

  11. Jen RO

    #3 – I feel your pain. My whole department was left out of communications in my previous job – having an email alias didn’t help in this case, because the whole alias was left off! We did push and things did get better gradually, but things still fell through the cracks even 3 years later. A coworker and I got *really* good at “eavesdropping” – we were in charge of allocating projects and, the second we heard someone talking about a project that didn’t sound familiar, we made sure to check if it’s a project were were not told about!

  12. Confused

    #2 huh?
    If your co-worker caught it from his daughter that means it’s the same virus and/or bacteria which IS contagious bc he caught it from his daughter…
    I will be consulting my local opthamologist on this one. Check back later.

    1. Lyssa

      No, it means that it was contagious. It may not be any more. (I understand that many illnesses are really contagious mostly before symptoms really appear, and once they’re full-blown, they really are not contagious any more.)

      1. Fiona

        Yep. This is why kids with pinkeye can go back to school 24 hours after they start antibiotics (assuming it’s bacterial and not viral). Even though they may still have symptoms, they’re no longer considered contagious.

      2. Artemesia

        Oozy drippy pink eye is communicable as long as it is oozy and dripping. The ‘oh I’m not contagious because it is day three of my cold’ or whatever is mostly bogus. Yes, stuff is contagious before there are symptoms but that doesn’t mean it stops being contagious when there are symptoms. Mostly people say that stuff to avoid being accused of being typhoid Mary. Norwalk virus is communicable by touch for about 2 weeks AFTER symptoms abate, so your co-worker who doesn’t wash after using the bathroom can infect the whole office by leaving the vicious stuff on doorknobs and the copy machine long after he has returned from work.

        1. fposte

          Well, it’s true that people will wrongly state that they’re not contagious because it’s been three days or whatever. But it’s also not as simple as ooze = contagion, especially when you’re talking eyes. Antibiotic eyedrops will take care of the bacteria pretty quickly but it’ll take a few days after that for the irritation and tearing to quit, because that’s what irritated eyes do.

        2. athek

          I just heard norovirus is contagious up to a MONTH after your symptoms disappear. Yikes.
          On the brighter side, it’s only through ingestion — so wash your hands before you eat!!!!!!!

  13. kas

    1. Maybe your employee is like my sister. Told her my raise one time which was very high for a customer service role and the first thing she said was “that’s it??” She thought raises were always a few extra dollars on your paycheck. At least now she’ll know what to expect when she gets her first raise.

    2. That’s gross. I had an eye infection and even though my doctor told me I was passed the contagious stage I still stayed home and my eye didnt even look that bad. I’d be so annoyed with him, so inconsiderate.

    3. I was being left out of internal emails as well and I kept telling people and still nothing. Turns out I was being emailed, they were just spelling my name wrong.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Good point on number 1, kas. OP, did you explain what a normal raise is for your company? Even people who are seasoned workers cannot guess at what normal practices look like. It’s a good idea to let them know a range or a number.
      I have had bosses look me square in the eye and tell me I got a great raise. I am glad they told me, because I sincerely would not have known. No sarcasm here. If my friends are getting a dollar an hour raises, it is easy to assume that is normal. So if the boss says here is your 25 cent raise, I would wonder what is up. No reference points.
      Following the 25 cent raise example, I said “What can I do to get a higher raise next time?” The answer came back “Nothing. You can’t get higher raises.” I am sure I came across almost as bad as your employee but I knew to say thank you and just change the subject.
      Look at the employee’s weekly income. Ask yourself “Could I live on that? Could I pay my basic needs?” If the answer is no, then that is the problem right there.

  14. straws

    #1 – Is it possible that the raise pushed your employee over some type of threshold? For example, perhaps he was relying on government assisted healthcare and no longer qualifies with the raise.

    1. Briggs

      That’s a very real possibility. My family lived with that situation for a while. When my husband was working in a factory we qualified for public assistance in the form of food stamps and health insurance, as well as economic hardship deferment on our student loans. If he made $1 more per hour, we lost all that help (to the tune of about $900/mo not including the potential cost of health care). The extra $1 didn’t come close to making that up, so we had to keep looking for jobs that were pretty big leaps in salary.

      1. Joey

        Are you saying you’d rather he didn’t get the raise so you could have stayed on government assistance?

        That reminds me of when I worked mostly on tips and couldn’t progress without taking a paycut.

        1. VintageLydia USA

          The problem is government assistance isn’t graduated. For instance if you have to save up ~$1000 for deposits and first months rent on an apartment, well, just having that money in the bank means you’ll lose some types of assistance before you can actually afford to lose it. Honestly it feels like the welfare system forces people to exist at barely sustenance levels. When one extra shift a week at your minimum wage job will lose you thousands in benefits you will do everything in your power to be paid as little as possible because people just plain can’t afford to go without, say, healthcare, or food assistance. The extra work doesn’t come close to making up for the financial difference, but that’s the way the system is set up. It’s difficult for people who education and experience who just happen to be unemployed to find a job with a living wage. Imagine how much harder it is for people basically raised on welfare? The safety net prevents some people from being entirely destitute, but unless you have friends and relatives who are both much better off and willing to help, it’s close to impossible to get out of that situation. People have done it, of course, but not everyone can.

          1. Joey

            Agreed, but if the goal is to get off of govt assistance you’ve got to take that leap sooner or later, no?

            1. VintageLydia USA

              The goal is to survive. I’m not going to tell people to forgo medical care or food just so they won’t be on assistance anymore. The system is broken and it’s not the fault of the people relying on it.

              1. BeenThere

                Exactly. At one point my mother had two part time jobs even though we were worse off from loss of government support. She explained to me (I was maybe 8 years old) that things were going to be hard for the next year or two but this would hopefully lead to full time employment. Christmas presents for the next few years were school shoes. Then she became full time, worked her way up the ranks and runs the place now.

                I have always been grateful to my mother for explaining that to me. I think I’ll call her today and tell her that :)

              2. Joey

                I’m not sure I agree that its all the systems fault and therefore it’s okay to decline career advancement so you don’t have to give up your govt bene’s.

                1. VintageLydia USA

                  When the system itself disincentives people from getting better jobs, then yeah, I’ll blame the system. There are absolutely people who take advantage of it, but they are relatively rare. The people I knew who worked out of the system had to do pretty shady things to do so (work under the table, hide money from the government, become off-lease roommates against apartment policy because they wouldn’t qualify to be on the lease themselves–honestly I see this the most.)

                2. Dan

                  If this system doesn’t have appropriate safeguards, it’s the system’s fault.

                  Keep in mind that at the levels you are talking about, “career advancement” might mean being a “supervisor” with a $1/hr raise. If that $1 disqualifies them from assistance, I’m not going to hold that against them.

                3. Joey

                  Well it depends on what you view as the system. I don’t really think its okay be be on govt assistance unless you’re taking steps to get off of it. I can’t really stomach that it’s okay to remain in a job that doesn’t provide enough. If the job doesn’t provide enough te solution is to take steps to get a job that does until you find one, not remain on govt assistance and chalk it up to the systems fault. I’m not suggesting you’re suggesting that I just think when people say its the systems fault it gives the impression that there is no realistic way for someone to get themself off govt assistance which most people don’t buy.

                4. AnotherAlison

                  Joey, I agree with what you’re saying, but I do have a problem with how the system works now. I haven’t study the issue, but on the surface, it seems like by subsidizing workers with govt assistance, the government is really subsidizing corporations. If I can find people at minimum wage & they can afford to take the job because they get govt benefits, then I don’t have to pay $11/hr. I don’t really agree with raising minimum wage because the person on the bottom still never catches up, but I wonder if the subsidies to workers makes the job market operate worse. I don’t know. I realize higher wages would mean the prices (such as your Big Mac) go up, but shouldn’t the customers be the ones paying, instead of the collective tax payers. Many pieces of the system are broken.

                5. Editor

                  Joey — My state representative is on a committee to work on legislation to fix problems like this. I had a chance to ask why a fix is taking so long, and the answer I got is that many voters aren’t realistic about the choices the working poor face. She would like to allow people on welfare and on some forms of assistance to keep childcare subsidies even when they get their first jobs or more hours or small raises, but opponents to the change say “giving” childcare to these workers allows people on welfare to game the system.

                  She says that if a person on welfare can be eased off welfare and into a job and then gets to retain some forms of help (mostly SNAP for food and subsidized childcare), for a year to two or three years, good self-supporting habits can be established and the former welfare recipients can begin to get raises that allow them to pay for childcare themselves or get the kids into school so they can pay all their own expenses. They’re less likely to end up back on welfare, but that’s a long-term view that doesn’t take the governor’s annual budget goals into consideration. Also, it is hard to write laws that allow such flexibility and meet (changing) federal regulations for money that flows to the state — not to mention a law that gets past political grandstanding or indifference to the poor.

                  In my state, the state legislature is even reluctant to pass a bill that would allow people receiving unemployment to take freelance or casual jobs in their fields or start freelance businesses in their fields when the job reduces the weekly unemployment payout. Existing law is opposed to “supporting” people while they begin a start-up. So, someone who is a machinist can do freelance writing while on unemployment in order to change careers, but laid-off editors lose their unemployment if they freelance because they have “started a business” that is considered to be a full-time occupation even if the business cannot generate full-time work. But hey — the laid-off editor could get training as a machinist and still receive unemployment!

                  Government assistance is a morass of Catch 22 rules. The reason welfare and SNAP and so on are called safety nets is that they’re full of holes.

                6. Laura

                  In principle, I agree. In practice:

                  Imagine you currently get $600 in government assistance (money and equivalent) per month, about $7200 per year, and you and your family are barely scraping by.

                  You get a $1/hour raise at your 40 hour/week job, for $2080 additional a year – before taxes. This causes you to lose all your assistance. Net change: more than $5000 less per year. You were barely scraping by before? Now you get to pick whether to give up food, medicine, or housing….

                  That’s not reasonable. And that’s the *sort* of disproportionate effect that’s faced. You will never get to the point where you don’t need welfare because you will starve to death, be homeless, or some other nasty thing before you can get the additional promotions and raises to make up the other $5000.

                  I wouldn’t expect anyone to take that step. Subsistence-level living is not so much fun anyone would stay there if they saw way out, but there is NOT a way out for people for whom the lost benefits outweigh the raise, not if they’re already (as they generally are) living on the edge of survival.

                  And if they also have kids – how can they possibly place their own sense of dignity ahead of their children’s chance to grow up, more healthy and secure than they would be otherwise? How can they risk any medical coverage, etc., that come with the benefits and might jeopardize those kids? (Again, given the all-or-nothing manner in which they vanish when a slight raise in income occurs.)

                  Ideally, these benefits would be *graduated*: they would drop by an amount equivalent to the gain. And then, heck yes, you would take that raise / additional hours / better position, knowing that year by year you could eventually work your way completely off the benefits and even to the point where you were living better.

                  That doesn’t happen if “insufficient money to live on” is a stepping stone, especially an early one, in the path.

            2. straws

              I fully agree with this, but it has to be sustainable. If you’re making $1100/month on gov assistance and get a raise to $1200/month but you have to pay $600/month for health insurance now, you’re down by $500/month and if you needed gov assistance in the first place, you probably need that to have food, shelter, etc. So it does depend on the situation. For example, if the employee was made full time and now made $1200/month and was now eligible for $200/month employer sponsored health insurance, that would be much more manageable.

          2. athek

            Not totally related, but the system for people with disabilities is atrocious. My brother with Down Syndrome has trouble with his sheltered workshop, because if he gets too many projects, he will make too much money to qualify for benefits, medicaid, etc. He’s never going to move up, so he needs the benefits, but it would be nice if he could be productive to society at the same time.

              1. Windchime

                I have a relative on SSI and you’re right, it’s ridiculous. How is a person supposed to survive on $900 a month? She can work, but only a tiny little bit because if she earns more than a pittance, her SSI is yanked and then she would be trying to survive on less than that (because she’s not able to work full-time).

                I don’t know what the answer is, but the current system doesn’t seem to be working well.

          3. Rebecca

            My niece experienced this first hand when she was in graduate school. She made $6.00 per month more than the cut off for medical aid. This was back when you were off your parent’s insurance after graduating from college. She had a heart problem, needed tests, and couldn’t afford medical insurance.

            This could very well be the case here. The employee in question could have just realized because he’s making an extra few dollars a week he’s now not eligible for SNAP – it’s terrible that programs aren’t graduated. Just because you now make $6.00 more than the cut off per month does not mean you can now afford hundreds of dollars for insurance (or whatever the program is).

          4. raise your game

            The explanation is logical but with some exceptions, the details make it less of a problem than it’s typically made out to be. We often hear about in the general sense “disincentive to work” but seldom here specifics of a widespread problem.

            It’s also worth noting that most of the people who want to cut benefits are the same ones who spread this around as a big problem.

        2. Briggs

          Yes, at the time we turned down job offers that paid a few dollars more than his current salary because we couldn’t afford to lose the government assistance. In order to make up the extra $900/mo we would have to pay in student loans and food, we had to make $900 more every month and a $1 raise wasn’t going to do that. At the time he was making $10/hr and it was either keep that low wage and the gov. assistance, or find a job that paid $15/hr.

          Luckily, he found a great job and we’ve gotten off assistance … but it took him 2 years to find that job.

    2. BeenThere

      Oh yeah this is an excellent point. When I was student I had some form of government assistance (in Australia). I managed to land a high paying internship (it is rare to be unpaid here). I had to be careful to time my holidays so that I wouldn’t earn too much money and lose my benefits and scholarship tied to it.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I lost a ton of vocational rehabilitation support when I got my job. I make too much money now for anything but the most minor assistance per semester. Which makes sense; someone who is making nothing needs more help than I do.

    3. TychaBrahe

      I once got a raise that kicked me into a higher tax bracket, which resulted in a lower take-home pay.

      There’s also child support, student loan programs, and a variety of other things that might change with a higher income.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It shouldn’t be working that way — only the amount of your salary over $X is taxed at the new rate; the part under that stays taxed at the old rate. I wonder if something else changed, like a deduction from your check for health insurance or retirement.

      2. Euchre

        TychaBrahe I am not sure that is possible. When you go up a tax bracket only the amount of income over that threshold gets taxed at the higher rate, not your whole income. Unless there was something else that became more expensive when you were making more money?

        1. fposte

          Right, we have a progressive tax system.

          I don’t think it could make your actual check smaller, but it could make your annual income smaller if it lost you certain deductions or pushed you out of space in 15% so that your capital gains and dividend/interest became taxable.

    4. anon-2

      See – this part of the thread is the PROBLEM. Some companies pay so poorly – and they actually TELL the employee – “Go on public assistance.”

      Exhibit A as to why unions flourished in the 20th century, and a defensible argument as to why they should exist.

      We get taxed to pay for public assistance – corporates make profits by cutting employee benefits. Whadda country!

  15. Zahra

    Pink-eye looks gross but it really is benign. My kid has had it at least half a dozen times in his 30-month life. Treatment for it has been antibiotic drops or unguent, a few times a day, on the affected area (which, I imagine, allows for a greater liberty in the type of antibiotics used, while avoiding the unpleasant side-effects of taking antibiotics orally (yeast infection, anyone?)).

    Of course, I don’t know how dangerous pink-eye is to a newborn. However, consider this: many, many babies get pink-eye from blocked tear ducts in their first year of life. Definitely get more information from a doctor and make choices that rely on evidence-based practices.

    1. Momghoti

      Pink eye can be benign, but it can also have some serious complications–I can’t wear contacts because a bout of pinkeye turned into keratitis and scarred my cornea. I wouldn’t worry excessively; it isn’t *that* contagious if you aren’t in close contact and I don’t think it lives long on hard surfaces. Still, it certainly isn’t something to be dismissive about. It’s also very unpleasant to experience.
      If your child gets it that frequently, you might investigate if they have dry eyes or if their daycare(if they attend) has reasonable hygiene standards.

    2. Jamie

      Benign or not it’s really uncomfortable and disgusting to look at.

      If it’s in one eye he should have a patch on it, if it’s in both he needs to stay away from people. I’m not saying we all have to be delightful to look at at all times – but nothing oozing on display is a pretty basic rule.

      If I had a sore dripping with pus or a running nose that I refused to wipe people would be well within their rights to send me home so they didn’t have to see it.

      1. fposte

        I had a neck incision with sutures after I had my spine surgery, and I kept bandages on it because I thought I’d be pretty difficult for people to focus on conversation with me otherwise.

        1. Aunt Vixen

          I had a nasty bruise on my leg after a car accident one summer and I wrapped it up or wore long pants so people didn’t have to look at it. And that’s just on the inside. Stitches and open sores and crusty eyes and things – yeah, it’s better if people keep those to themselves.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        Yeah. If the employee is paid very modestly, is that minimum wage? What’s generous to the employer might not be to the employee, especially if he knew ahead of time and was expecting something more generous.

    1. Dan

      At one job I had, they rated you on a scale of 1-5 in several areas. Your raise % was your overall review average. My overall rating was well over 4%, but my boss told me that everybody was capped at 3%.

      I went from $11/hr to $11.33/hr. Big whoop. I really lost the motivation to work as hard as I used to, and he said something to me about it. I felt bad, but if “corporate” is only going to give me a 3% raise, there’s no need to work harder than a 3 average.

    2. Rebecca

      What raises? We don’t get them any longer, just pay cuts via increasing health insurance premiums.

      1. Anonymous

        A five cent raise presented as “omg here’s your amazing raise you’re a great worker yay!” is more demotivating than getting nothing.

  16. Sunflower

    #1- I wonder if possibly the employee was hoping to be promoted to full time or have hours increased so benefits could kick in? Was there ever talk of him being promoted to full-time after a bit? If so, that could be where the disappointment stems from

    1. JustMe

      Sunflower, I was just about to type something similar. It could be that he was expecting a promotion. OP #1, please take Alison’s advice on this one.

    2. Editor

      This was what I thought, too — that he was hoping for full-time work or benefits.

      There’s this mantra that hard work pays off. It’s very possible people in his life were telling him that all his hard work and great effort would so impress the boss that full-time work or a promotion would be his. That may be true in businesses that are thriving, but a lot of businesses now aren’t “creating positions just for you” because of your work ethic — not because they don’t like your work ethic, but because the business either cannot afford to create positions or is blindly following the paranoia the recession generated, which is that the economy isn’t booming, so the company cannot spend money on people because — OMG! — the CEO is underpaid! — and quarterly earnings expectations from Wall Street analysts!

  17. Anonymous

    I had pink eye a couple of months ago and the doctor said that once my eyes weren’t fused shut when I woke up, I was ok to interact with humans again. This was after a couple days of antibiotic drops.

    My eyes were still red and scary looking, and my coworkers treated me like I’d come to work with ebola.

  18. Anonymous

    #1 happened to me – I got promoted and got a small raise. When my manager told me, I paused which gave them a reason to ask, “What’s wrong? I thought you’d jumping up and down for joy.” According to my research for the position, the new salary was very low according to what the range was for the position (think $5-10,000 less). I told them as politely as I could that according to the research I had done, the new salary was a bit on the low side. My manager got a little defensive and said I should feel “lucky that I got what I did.”

    Fast forward a few months later, and the subject of salary comes up again (brought up by manager, not by me). My manager said I should be getting another raise within a few months. Now, we’ll see if it actually happens, but I know that if I had not raised the subject, it’s unlikely that a raise would be considered.

    It could be a multitude of reasons why the employee in the OP’s case reacted as they did (i.e. hoped to be promoted to full-time, was having a bad day, thought the range was much higher), so I agree with AAM on this one.

    1. Jamie

      It’s a difficult situation, and a lot of us have been there.

      Of course it’s nice to get a raise and the acknowledgement – but if it’s smaller than you feel is warranted and still leaves you significantly under market – it’s less a reason for joy and just another reminder of the sore subject.

      I’ve known people to get super excited about a raise that doesn’t even equal a tank of gas every pay period. I’ve known others where that same raise was disappointing because they knew that would be it for a while and there was a loss of hope that it would be substantial.

      The reaction is tough – because you do always want to express gratitude when someone does something for you they don’t technically have to do…you don’t want to discourage that behavior…but it can be hard if the disparity between what you make and what you logically feel you should make is big enough. It can feel like tipping the pizza delivery person a quarter. Sure, he’s 25 cents up – but it still stinks and it will make him hate you.

  19. Cat

    One of my coworkers had pink eye and her doctor told her she was fine to go to work and to visit her sick, elderly grandmother in the hospital. This doesn’t seem uncommon; nor does it seem like the kind of thing doctors wouldn’t be informed about (being so common), so I’d be inclined to just trust his doctor. “Gross” by itself isn’t necessarily an indicator.

    1. The IT Manager

      I don’t get the LW’s concern. Unless she thinks co-worker is lying about his doctor saying its not contagious then she has a doctor’s opinion of the situation and her fear is unfounded.

      Now if she thinks co-worker is lying, well, there’s other problems with her work situation and perhaps she should work from home to be safe.

      1. VintageLydia USA

        I will say when you are pregnant (or at least when I was pregnant) you are pretty much forced to be hyperaware of things that’ll make you (and possibly your baby) sick because

        1) you can’t take a lot of the medicines that will help you feel better and

        2) if you DO get sick with something it seems like the world both makes a HUGE fess over the pregnant lady getting sick and making things comfortable for her (which is annoying) and starst side eyeing the crap out of you because OBVIOUSLY you did something wrong to get sick and don’t you care about your baby!?!?! How can you be so selfish??? So when somebody even LOOKS contagious you are encouraged to do everything in your power to avoid them, even things that are to your detriment (taking sick time you don’t have/can’t afford to avoid a coworker who refuses to take sick time themselves.)
        I’m not particularly paranoid about hygiene or health and even I saw myself withdraw from activities because a friend had the sniffles. Didn’t stop me from getting a dozen colds anyway (because pregnancy screws with your immune system. I rarely get colds otherwise.)

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Absolutely everything revolving around pregnancy sucks.

        1. Cat

          I can see that. It’s extremely frustrating how many people seem to assume everything about a pregnant woman is their business.

    2. fposte

      Yeah, a lot of the redness and exudate is just from the irritation. That’s especially true with bacterial, which tends to be very irritating so takes a while to heal even after the antibiotics have kicked in.

  20. The IT Manager

    #4, Have you applied yet? You don’t actually say that you have in your question. Since you think you might be qualified, apply now and find out!!!

    If you are not selected THAT is the time to ask feedback for how you can be a better candidate in the future, but if you ask how to be qualified for the role now, you’re telling them that your not ready yet rather than letting them make the decision on their own.

    Some people are cocky and overconfident, but from your email it seems like you’re not. So more than likely, you are one of those people who sell themselves short about their abilities. Apply now and project confidence in your qualifications because this is science.

    The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their ineptitude. Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. <– Is that you?

    1. Sunflower

      Yes I think it’s definitely best to apply and then ask for feedback if you aren’t accepted.

      I would also be careful of phrasing the email. What Allison said is good- focus on the skills and qualifications that the company is looking for as opposed to the ‘fit’. Some company’s are looking for a specific kind of person with certain traits. If you appear as if you’re trying fit into exactly what they’re looking for, it could look like you are trying to transform yourself into something so you can obtain a job. You don’t want to look like you’re trying to fit into a puzzle where you really don’t fit and it would also lead to a bad work environment for you.

      Definitely apply first though! You could be right for the job already!

    2. The IT Manager

      Plus if this is a legitimate job posting you never know when they will find someone they like and will take down the posting for good. Apply now, a position like this may not be appear again for a while.

    3. CH

      Hi there, I’m the OP! I did apply back in October and I never heard anything back. But the posting asks for availability with your cover letter and mine was horrific (like only weekends or something crazy like that), so it could have been simply for that reason that I didn’t get it. Now, my resume has improved significantly and I have much more open and normal availability. I probably should have all mentioned this in the post! But I see your point, do you think I should just go for it? To be specific, this is a copy editing position and I’m a fairly experienced and legitimate writer with just a bit of copy editing experience here and there, so that’s what has me intimidated. An acquaintance of mine was hired for this job (there’s a whole stable of freelancers that do this work remotely because the employer is a nationally known publication) but our social dynamic is kind of awkward because of how we know each other, so I can’t really ask him about it. He’s mostly known for his work as a writer as well (not editing) but he’s a few years ahead of me career-wise so I don’t know that we’re comparable.

  21. Dianne

    For #2, My daughter gets pink eye often, the doctor always says she’s not contagious after 24 hours of medication (eyedrops). I do understand the concern, I was pregnant during the H1N1 outbreak and my coworker came into my office and coughed on my bookshelf then said ‘all of my kids are sick with the flu!’ then explained why he couldn’t possibly be sick. Still, ugh. Maybe he was right, maybe he was misinformed, I didn’t have enough details to be sure. We have a very liberal work from home policy (I’ve worked from home because my cat was sick) so it was infuriating. I ended up working from home even though my work chair was much better for my poor aching back.

    Regarding #3, I had a similar problem and a group email address was the solution. Of course now some people enter individual email addresses plus the group email address, so there are a lot of duplicate emails, but that’s better than no emails.

  22. Poohbear McGriddles

    I think pink eye messes with your brain.
    When I was in college I worked in an optical shop where there was an eye doctor on site. Invariably, the patients with pink eye would come in, try on every pair of eyeglass frames in the store, then tell us they were there to see the doctor because they had pink eye. Guess who got to disinfect all the frames!

    1. Anonymous

      When I suspect pink eye, we go to the family doctor. We see an optometrist (OD), not an ophthalmologist (MD), for our eye health and I assumed the optometrist could not prescribe any meds if we needed it.

      1. Harriet

        Nope, you want to see an optometrist rather than your family doctor. They can prescribe medication for eye complaints and are generally much more up to date and informed about common eye complaints, and will be able to give you a more informed referral should you need more advanced care.

        1. fposte

          I think in most cases it’s neither family doctor nor op-anything–walk-in care is where you end up, and that’s just fine for most cases of uncomplicated conjunctivitis . If it doesn’t resolve with treatment or time, depending on which kind it is, that’s the time to head to the specialist.

  23. AndersonDarling

    #3- It sounds like you are in a regulated health industry. Do you have a system to log policy deviations? Not communicating policy/regulatory changes would be a huge issue here and we would be logging deviations in these instances.
    (But we also have communicated that deviations are for information purposes and not for finger-pointing. It’s all about logging errors and tracking their causes.)
    ..I just had a terrible thought… Are you in Quality? That would be terrible if you were the Quality Director and no one is communicating policy changes to you. But I know it happens!

  24. AB

    #1, my husband worked for a company that, when he started, promised to have at least annual cost living increases, as well as an annual review for merit increase. He worked there five years and never received either (neither did any of his cowokers). He did get several “promotions” most of which involved a great deal more responsibility. He was always promised raises for these promotions at a certain date, or if a certain criteria was met. The date or criteria would come and go and he wouldn’t see an extra cent. He would bring it up with management and they would cry poor. Finally, my husband decided to cut his losses and find a better job (he was making half what market avg for his area and experience level in our market suggested). The company didn’t know he was searching, but finally decided to give me a raise… a whole extra 50 cents an hour, AKA $100 extra dollars a year. As it happened, he had just gotten a job offer that he had accepted (salaried, at double what he was making). So when he seemed less than enthused, they got upset that he wasn’t properly grateful. He decided that was the perfect time to give his notice.

  25. some1

    #5 Keep in mind some (shady) recruiting agencies will post ads for jobs that aren’t actually available, just to get more candidates in the door.

  26. Not So NewReader

    OP #3. The group email sounds like the route to go. But I would also document each instance of when you did not get an important email. I am not sure if you have licenses that could be in jeopardy for non-compliance- if you do, omg. Failure to be in compliance in some situations can result in JAIL time. yikes.
    Start out by being a nice nuisance. Keep asking to be notified. Keep pointing out that the company will have legal issues if you do not follow the new updates.
    If you do not get satisfaction after repeated requests then lay it on the line. Tell them you are not willing to go to jail for non-compliance when it is clearly not your fault. No job is worth going to jail for.
    Maybe there is a way you can get these notices directly from the source(s) yourself. This might be as simple as signing into a website and asking to be put on their email list.

    Either way keep a written record of what is going on, the requests you have made and specific notifications that you have missed.
    Am praying you are not in the financial industry because this could really be bad.

    1. AndersonDarling

      I’m aware of a whole facility that was shut down because of a single word in a policy change. It was honestly a minor issue, but policy is policy, and if you don’t comply there can be major consequences.

  27. JG

    #1 – I disagree with the advice on this one. I have been in the employee’s position a twice before, and while I did thank my manager and act excited (because I’m a recovering people-pleaser), I actually felt worse than I did before the raise since the amount was so low on an already low salary. Most recently, I was given one of the highest raises in my group of coworkers of the same level, but since I was already paid so much less than them, even with the raise I was barely scraping the minimum end of my pay bracket. Of course after sleeping on it I realized I should be grateful for even having a job, let alone a raise, and my attitude changed. But if I were this employee I’d just want to be left alone about it.

    1. HR Lady

      I’ve always tried to be grateful about raises, even if I thought they were (too) small. You’re right, it does transform a person’s thinking. I always feel better when I take an attitude of gratitude for a raise.

  28. BeenThere

    My manager lets me work from home for any reason and even supplied me with an extra monitor for home when I first started. I’m a programmer and a team lead so I can do most of my work remotely. This week I’d already planned to wfh a couple of days, one because I had a long dental appointment and the other because I needed a productive day. I woke up with a cold on day two, I thought it would be best to stay out of the office. So I chatted to my boss who instantly said of course wfh for the rest of the week to avoid infecting everyone else.

    We also have a team calendar outside of HR’s view to log this sort of time so everyone knows where you are. I put my entry as working from home – self quarantine. One of my coworkers emailed me immediately with a hope your feeling okay and I’m totally reusing that phrase. Made me feel great about deciding not to come in.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      My manager is great about that too. I had quite a bit of dental work done a couple months ago, during several appointments. The dental hygienist was getting ready to go out on maternity leave, so they were fitting me in wherever they could. They had to numb me up each time, and I really didn’t want to come into work and sit there drooling all over myself. So I worked from home, and my manager had no problem with it.

      1. BeenThere

        It’s fantastic, I wish more managers were like this.

        Dental work is absolutely necessary yet it’s get put off until it get worse… I have a crown to prove it!

  29. OP #1

    Thanks for the feedback, Alison! I spoke with the employee in question this morning (I went with concern) and it turns out I just did catch him after a particularly awful personal life event. In following up he assured me he was thankful for the extra pay.

    For those curious, he isn’t (and wasn’t) paid minimum wage — his raise was one of the largest I gave, but he’s still in the $10-15 range (sorry, I don’t want to get too specific, just in case). There aren’t full-time positions here that this particular part-time role promotes into (excepting the one I currently occupy), and that is something that is explained to employees upon being hired, so it wouldn’t be a surprise. My employees are free to apply if full-time roles open up in other departments, though, and this is strongly encouraged if/when things open up.

  30. Ethyl

    #3 — it may be nothing and might get resolved with some discussion with your manager and team members, but it reminds me SO much of a place I used to work. The long-term employees had been there since the branch opened, and made new employees feel unwelcome and perpetually like “the new guy” (one woman had been there nearly 5 years and still complained of being treated like she was a total newbie). It led to a lot of turnover and a lot of toxicity and resentment (it didn’t help that things like PTO and dress code were applied, uhhhh, inconsistently to the two classes of employees). So I would make sure you keep an eye on how integrated you feel in general, because having an insular team being resistant to giving you the tools needed for your job is not only demoralizing, it can harm your career. Best of luck!

    1. Anonymous

      This totally reminds me of my old job. Towards the end, many of the long-time employees were retiring, meaning that they were losing their majority. It honestly started to feel like some sort of civil war, with the “new” folks leading the rebellion.

      In retrospect, it was a really interesting situation. While I was in it, the stress was overwhelming.

  31. EM

    #2 — Bob Costas missed over a week of covering the Olympics because of basically, pink eye.

    Dude, if Bob Costas takes a week off from COVERING THE OLYMPICS, you can work from home for a couple days! Geez, people!

  32. Christine

    For #1 – I recently got a great raise, but my manager presented it to me as something I received because my pay was misaligned in comparison to my peers when adjusted for performance, experience, and workload. I greatly appreciated the effort she went to to get me the extra money, but my gratitude for the money itself was tempered by the knowledge that I was getting it because I had been SIGNIFICANTLY underpaid for a very long time. I was grateful to her for recognizing it and going to bat to correct it.

  33. shellbell

    Don’t want pink eye? Don’t touch your eyes or face without washing your hands first. You won’t get it. It isn’t contagious through the air (like a cold). Really, I’d rather work with 20 people with pink eye than one person with a cold.

    Even if you don’t see a coworker with pink eye, those exact germs that cause it are still covering your office space. How do you know the night cleaning crew folks don’t have pink eye? How do you someone didn’t put eye drops into their kids pink eyes, then come to work without washing their hands and touch a bunch of stuff. They don’t have it, but they are spending it.

    WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE. Germs are all over. The only kind of contagious people who should stay home are those with airborne illnesses.

    1. Colette

      I don’t think the possibility of other people also being contagious exempts people who know they are contagious from the responsibility of taking measures to stop infecting others, or puts the onus on people who are not sick to protect themselves.

      Yes, everyone should wash their hands – but people who are contagious should stay home anyway. If I sit a couple of feet from someone who is really sick (& contagious), there’s a limit to how often I can wash my hands.

      1. fposte

        Right. I’ve heard health care people talk about the problem of their hands starting to crack in winter from all the washing, and at that point you’re now adding to the risk.

  34. Pinkeye OP

    An update, and a clarification on the pinkeye situation:

    I think me and the rest of my coworkers were appalled because our company has a very lenient working-remotely policy (pretty much any reason is fine), and we are provided with sick days and encouraged to use them. So it simply felt like a case of martyrdom + needlessly exposing the rest of us.

    My manager did end up telling the employee to leave, after which he went to the doctor and emailed us all that the doctor treated him and advised him to stay out for the rest of the week.

    1. JoAnna

      Hadn’t he already gone to the doctor, though (who had told him that he wasn’t contagious)? Or was it his daughter’s doctor who had told him that?

      Regardless, I’m glad your manager took action and sent him home.

    2. A Bug!

      A good resolution; I’m glad to hear it! It does make very little sense to come into work when you can work from home for the few days it will take for your gross-looking illness to clear up.

      I am with JoAnna in giving the side-eye to your coworker, though. His update doesn’t jive well with his claims that a doctor told him he wasn’t contagious.

      If he didn’t actually get treatment until after he was sent home, then his pinkeye almost certainly was infectious while he was at work. I’m sure someone’s already taken to disinfecting all the surfaces he may have touched, but if not, please ensure that happens.

    3. KrisL

      I’m glad the manager did that. When he can work from home, and he might even possibly somehow expose others to this, he should work from home.

  35. seesawyer

    #3 – A group email address is a great idea, and I agree with some commenters above that you may have more authority to press this issue with your colleagues than you think–but in the meantime one thing you could do is select one friendly coworker who you know to be pretty on top of things and ask them if they can forward you any new regulatory information they get. It sounds like you have been asking the sender of the email, who is a different person each time, to remember you next time, but if they only send things occasionally it is not too surprising that they forget; training one person to forward the emails every time may be easier. It’s not how things should work, but it’s a reasonable stopgap.

    At one point in grad school my adviser was consistently forgetting one of my fellow students on group-meeting emails. My colleague had every right to press this issue, and my adviser was not put out by being reminded, but was just so flaky that it kept happening for several months. So for a while I took it upon myself to forward the relevant emails along. It was not at all a big deal for me, so don’t be too afraid of imposing.

    1. Jamie

      I agree with this. Anything that impacts your ability to do your job is certainly within your wheelhouse to try to rectify.

      And my first thought was contact group – done. They are such fabulous little time savers and you never forget anyone.

    2. KrisL

      Also, this is the type of thing that could badly affect the company, so when you’re talking to your manager about it, if you emphasize your concern about not accidentally hurting the company because of information that didn’t get to you, that should help.

  36. Interviewer

    #1 – I once worked for a company having an awful year, but still wanting to give raises. I had just started working there about 3 months prior, and my job was to meet with them to deliver performance evaluations and raise info. Only one was more than 2%, and some were as tiny at 0.75%. (Previous year averaged 4-5%.)Most of the staff were at the top end of market ranges, so for some people, the raise message included a note that this might be it for a while. As you can imagine, it was a tough bunch of meetings.

    The worst meeting was with the one employee I had fought my HR Director tooth & nail to give a 2.3% raise for all of her incredibly hard work. As I sat down with her glowing reviews and my notes on how this was a big raise (in the context of average raises for all), she got madder & madder. She had taken on so many projects that year, done them well, and was not being rewarded the way she imagined (she had hoped for a 7% and dreamed of 10%). I told her that I fought for the best I could for her, and that I was sorry it couldn’t be more. I reminded her that her salary was in fact near the top of the market, and I hoped she would understand that I valued her performance very highly (sans her unprofessional remarks to me in that meeting). She was also struggling with her personal finances, so this was an extreme blow and I think she lost it in that meeting.

    The next day she came in with a formal apology for overreacting. After she left my office she had called one of my favorite industry recruiters to discuss “the market” and found out she was being very fairly compensated for her position, and that raises like hers were as rare as unicorns that year. She also must have heard how very few open positions were around at that rate (probably none!). Chastened, as she met with me, she backpedaled her ungrateful comments and dialed way back on her full head of steam. She reminded me how hard she had worked the past year, and would continue to do so in future.

    I have not ever forgotten her initial reaction, though – a combination of not being informed about the market for her own skills, and unfairly high expectations of her potential worth set the stage for a pretty dramatic review. OP#1, maybe your staff member is not as prone to dramatics, but I would definitely follow up to see if there’s anything you can do to help him understand. It sounds like there may be an information gap there.

    1. KrisL

      Sounds like in this case, her emotional IQ wasn’t operating at a good level. She would have been smarter to thank you, then check.

  37. HR Guy

    Alison,

    Regarding the office mystery of why people can’t keep their office kitchen clean, I have an answer. People cannot keep it clean because everyone thinks what they do is too important to bother cleaning up after themselves/someone else will do it. It ultimately always falls on the most entry level employe. At least that’s how things are done in my office.

    *I’m the office kitchen/fridge cleaner even though I do not use the office kitchen/fridge.

  38. Windchime

    If the pinkeye isn’t contagious, how did the coworker catch it from his/her child?

    Maybe someone has already said this. I haven’t read comments yet.

  39. MR

    For #5, I’ve actually been told by multiple companies to resubmit my application for the position when it gets reposted.

    Sometime there is an error with the ATS or internally within the company. Or there are a thousand different reasons why there is a repost.

    If the company reposts the position, apply. The worst they can say is ‘no.’

  40. ew0054

    #1 I could understand if it was a 1-3% ‘cost of living’ raise it would be taken as a placation rather than a reward for merit.

    #2 This is the result of the ‘work until you are within an inch of death’ culture that we all live in fear of taking a day off for actually being sick because the rumors will start about job interviews, personal problems, etc.

  41. Jennifer R.

    Just wanted to comment about #1. I am willing to bet that he has been working very hard and believes he should have received a larger raise. He may have been given inaccurate information about how much others make, or looked up pay scales online and believed he was in for a much larger raise or even a promotion.

    I worked retail in high school at furniture store, from a week after my 18th birthday until the end of my freshman year of college… so about 2 years. I am sure there are always questions of how good the work is, etc. but I really am a good worker and enjoyed doing my job well. I had customers who would always ask for me and I had to straighten out a lot of the manager’s mistakes. I started at about $7.50/hour, then got a 10% raise to $8.25 my first year. No commission. Then they had a bad year or something and I got an 11 cent raise, which is 1.3%. I remember wishing I just hadn’t gotten a raise at all, it felt so embarrassing having a manager who made $60K a year telling me I did such a great job that they are bumping me 11 cents an hour. It was a good push to find something else, and I did soon after.

  42. LC

    Regarding annual raises – Today I was given a 3% pay raise. Big company world wide – stocks growing fast! I asked if this was for the entire 18 months I had been with the company, he said no we give raises in October company wide. I said I had 6 months in last October and I received nothing, not even a mention. My Senior Manager said because he was hired in my office last November there is nothing he can do about the 6 months prior to his coming on board at my office. While I said thank you I appreciate the raise, I was nearly in tears. I have gone above and beyond my duties and asking for more work, and taking on more projects. I don’t get it. I want to reach out to corporate and discuss this with someone, but I am afraid of loosing this job or stepping my managers toe. It is a good job, but a 3% raise for 18 months of hard dedicated work, missing only 1 day due to my brother dying of ALS is not right. I work a 25 to 28 hour work week, and I feel like I put in 8 or 9 hours a day. I rarely take a break, and work off the clock a lot to get things done. I guess I think more of my accomplishments than my boss!

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