my manager threatened to kick my ass, using vacation time when my company closes early, and more

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

1. My manager said she’d kick my ass after I dropped some equipment

I was helping help pack things in on a video shoot, when, I had unnoticed that I dropped a small lens cap on the street. It got pretty dirty and I apologized to my supervisor. As she was attaching it to the camera, she said in a serious tone, “Eric, if you do this again I’m going to kick your f’ing ass,” in front of a coworker. I didn’t respond to this, but I was boiling on the inside. I have been working with this person for about a year and a half, we have no problems between each other.

I couldn’t help but be flabbergasted. How, exactly, do you respond to this, if at all?

I’ve got to think this wasn’t serious — what previously normal-seeming person gets that upset over a dropped lens cap?

But if you’re really sure it wasn’t a misinterpreted attempt to be funny, then say something like, “Jane, I was pretty surprised by your response to me when I dropped the lens cap. I’m not sure how to interpret what you said.” If her response confirms it wasn’t a joke, then you can say, “Obviously I want to be careful with our equipment, and I’m not cavalier about that.” Optional add-on, if you’re comfortable with it: “A threat to ‘kick my ass’ doesn’t really seem appropriate to me.” Whether or not that last part will do any good — or whether it will do more harm than good — depends on your boss, so proceed accordingly.

2. During a long background check and approval process, I found another job I might want more

I’ve been on the hunt for a new job for about 6 months and am very ready to leave my current place ASAP. I applied to a job at a government agency back in January, was told in early February they wanted to hire me, and due to paperwork and background checks I am still waiting on an official offer I’m told is coming sometime soon, but I have no idea when. Of course, I continued looking because nothing is real until it’s in writing and you have a start date, and another opportunity seems to be a very strong possibility.

If I turned down the government agency at this point, I feel that I’ll have led them on for months and then left them in the lurch. But, I never got or accepted an offer from them with a number attached; I just said I was excited to review the offer when it came. I know their crazy bureaucratic process is not my fault, but how much should I weigh the time they invested trying to get me on board if I end up getting both these offers?

Their massively bureaucratic process is not your responsibility; it’s theirs. If it causes them enough problems, they can look into changing it, but you don’t bear any obligation to be extra accommodating to them because of it. It would be utterly unreasonable for them to expect you to forego other offers when they haven’t even made you a formal offer yet themselves — when you haven’t agreed on a salary or other details, and when they could end up not hiring at all.

Go with the job that you want the most.

3. My manager keeps giving me work outside my part-time hours

I’m currently employed part-time at a small business and receive and hourly wage. I really enjoy the work I do when I’m there, which is 2 days of the week, but my boss has been contacting me almost every day of the week either through texts, calls, or Facebook messages, to do something. While they are small tasks, they really intterupt and affect my day because she wants it to be done immediately, and I do not get compensated. She will even contact me at my other part-time job, which she knows about, to do something and ask me to do her task then and there. She gets upset if I or the other employees (all of which are part-time) don’t check Facebook or her texts, even on our days off. She will also point out mistakes everyone has made on this Facebook group she created, and scold us on it as well. When I recieved this job offer, I was not told about being contacted outside of my hours.

I’m intimidated by her, but at the same time it’s really affecting my personal life, and I’m making a lot of mistakes at work. I am searching for full-time job elsewhere but in the meantime, is there anything that I can do to help the situation?

“Could we talk about my hours? We had talked about a part-time job, two days a week, and that’s what I’d planned for, so I have other commitments the rest of the time and I’m not always able to respond quickly — or even at all — when you send me work requests outside those two days. Should we talk about changing my schedule so that I’m working additional hours, or should I just save up those items for when I’m back at work?” If she says that she just wants them done and doesn’t want to increase your hours, then say, “Because I’m part-time, I’m filling the rest of my time with other commitments. I can save up these tasks and do them when I’m back at work, or I can occasionally put in an extra hour or two outside of my normal hours, but I can’t be two days a week and available the rest of the time too.”

And if the tasks keep coming outside of your regular hours, track how much time you’re spending on them and say something like, “How would you like me to track the time spent outside of my regular hours and report it for my paycheck?” (And assuming you’re non-exempt, she’s legally required to pay you for that time. It’s not optional.)

4. Using vacation time on days that my company ends up closing early

Occasionally our company closes early the Friday before a long weekend or the day before a holiday — say 3-ish and everyone gets full pay. Bu if I have a scheduled vacation day, I am charged a full 8 hours. Does this pass the smell test?

Yes, that’s pretty normal. You’re using your vacation time in exchange for a sure thing — the certainty that you have that time off.

5. Is this hiring manager not interested or just busy?

A hiring manager at a company I see as my “dream job” contacted me last week. My resume was sent through an internal referral, and the hiring manager emailed me wanting to set up a quick call about the role. He sent me the job req and I even noticed he checked my LinkedIn profile too. I had replied within hours and informed him I was interested. However, after that email, I have yet to hear back before we can even speak. It’s been over a week and I’ve followed up with a couple emails. Is it likely they’re just not interested or just too busy to reply?

Could be either, but for your purposes, it doesn’t matter — it’s time to move on. You’ve made it clear you’re interested, It’s in their court now, and if they want to get back to you, they will.

{ 165 comments… read them below }

  1. Julie*

    Regarding 2. During a long background check and approval process, I found another job I might want more: I work for a company that used to have a ridiculously long approval process. We hired an excellent trainer (I know he was excellent because I had worked with him before, and that’s why I wanted him). But it took so long to get everything approved (I don’t remember exactly how long, but it was several weeks), that he took another position in the meantime. I don’t blame him at all. He needed a job, and he couldn’t just wait around. The next time we hired, the timeline was more normal, and the person started about a week after the hiring decision was made (she wasn’t working, so she didn’t have to give two weeks’ notice).

    1. Julie*

      Sorry, I forgot to make my point. It might be obvious, but I think Alison is right. If the company is losing out on good candidates, they’ll need to figure out how to make their hiring process move faster.

      1. Kari*

        Similar situation here, except not with a gov’t agency! It took 3 months from date of application to date of job offer. 5 months if you include date of application to start date of new job. Ridiculous. Very large company. If this was a booming economy, they would have lost me.

        1. Stephanie*

          Similar situation-I had an interview process that lasted about 3.5 months for a role at a large for-profit company. I’m guessing with the poor economy, employers get way more applications, have harder times getting hires/roles approved, and wait around for that special candidate who meets all 19 requirements of the posting.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        “If I turned down the government agency at this point, I feel that I’ll have led them on for months and then left them in the lurch.”

        The OP is treating this like a social situation instead of a business situation. While being polite and thoughtful at work can have a positive effect on the workplace, business is business. Because of the wait here, you are still a free agent, and I hope you’re still looking for a new job. Think about putting up with this kind of bureaucratic nonsense every day that you work there. It is their problem, not yours. If their process causes them enough trouble, they’ll change it.

        Would you marry someone you didn’t really like because that person invested so much time and effort into your relationship? (I really hope you’re saying “no”.)

        1. Julie*

          Think about putting up with this kind of bureaucratic nonsense every day that you work there.


  2. Onymouse*

    OTOH, the OP would be remiss to not consider the government position with its associated benefits, pension, etc. It sounds like they’re currently employed, so perhaps it would be worth the wait. Like Alison said previously, the HR process is not necessarily indicative of the people you’d actually be working with.

    1. Dan*

      I looked at a fed job (see below) and it honestly didn’t impress me enough to wait it out. I would have had to move to another high COL area with no relo assistance. My pay would have started in the mid-GS12 grade, and with a position that topped out at that grade, I’d be stuck with really small raises every few years.

      While the pension is nice, who knows if it will be there in 30 years. Congress likes to beat up on fed employees, and with pay that really isn’t terribly competitive with the private sector, waiting it out just isn’t worth it.

    2. Stephanie*

      Seconding Dan. For a single person at least, I found the benefits good, but not amazing. I actually had way better dental insurance at my next private-sector job. Definitely no relo assistance. There was a very small pension, but my agency was definitely pushing the TSP (the 401(k) equivalent). From the pension, I think I amassed something like $1100 over two years of service. Promotions were noncompetitive up to a GS-14, however. My agency also definitely utilized the two-year probationary period and would fire people (although I think it was one of the few that did).

      All that being said, I know a lot of jobs don’t offer all that anymore. If you’re really interested in the job, wait it out, but I don’t think the benefits should be the deciding factor.

      1. Dan*

        Oh, on the other thread where we were talking about jobs back in DC, you did guess my employer correctly. How?

        FWIW, they will contribute up to 10% of your salary into a 403b. I don’t know how that compares to TSP+FERS retirement, but it’s serious cash that beats anything else I’ve seen in quite awhile.

        In lieu of vesting, they won’t match until you’ve been on the job for a year, but after that, it’s all yours.

        1. Stephanie*

          You said nonprofit that hired engineers/technical folks and that was the first big one in the area that came to mind.

          Ya, 10% match is pretty generous. I haven’t seen anything that generous. TSP (when I worked for the feds like six years ago) was up to 5% match (4% from the feds, 1% from the agency). You vested after three years, but if you left before then, all you forfeited was the 1% agency match. The pension part of FERS was calculated with some magical formula. Ex-Agency really didn’t push the pension. It was like a one-off remark during a long TSP presentation. Most of us had forgotten we had that portion of FERS until reminded by HR when filling out separation paperwork.

          1. Betsy*

            Ha! Amusingly, when I saw this, I had the exact same guess, and went to check and see if I was right! I work in their MA office — just started in February. :)

          2. Bea W*

            My company (private sector) matches what ends up being 9%, although the matching is only to the 6% level. They match 1.5x your contribution up to 6%. It’s damn nice. I quickly surpassed what I had put into my old job.

        2. A Cita*

          I get 10%: 5% free add in (so added even if I put nothing in myself) and an additional 5% match. No wait period–all added immediately and all available (no vesting). I also got an option of that (403b) or a pension plan (but pension takes 5 years to vest).

          Also get completely free (no deductible, no premiums, no copay) full coverage health insurance with a very good/deep prescription savings (including free monthly b12 shots).

          I work at a university. I looked at a government job, but their benefits didn’t compare.

        3. MentalEngineer*

          “MA office” confirms it. My dad works at this company also, though he’s looking to move on.

      2. JC*

        I felt similarly about my time working in the federal government. The pension would have been fantastic, provided that it was still there when I retired in 35 years, and that I stayed with the govt that long. Luckily my husband is still a fed (for now, anyway), so we’ll still have some kind of pension; I left the govt before I was vested in mine, which also means that I really did not save enough in a retirement plan the years I worked for them.

        I now work for a nonprofit where I am paid more and do not pay premiums for my medical and dental insurance, for a health insurance plan that is better than the one I paid for in the government. I also get 10% contributed to my 403b, vested immediately, whether or not I contribute any of my own salary. I do still think that federal benefits are good, but not necessarily the best available.

        It is also appealing to me that my pay and raises are more merit-based than they used to be when I was a fed, and to know that deadbeat coworkers will be fired rather than reassigned to “fake” jobs where they collect a large salary to essentially do nothing (happened at my old agency and happens at my husband’s). But that’s another topic!

  3. Dan*


    Bureaucratic fed hiring processes are one of my biggest pet peeves in job hunting. I applied for a job back in October, and had a guy call me two weeks before Xmas just to tell me that he’ll be taking holiday leave the next day and will continue the process in January. Was I interested? At that very moment, sure, but two days later I got a decent offer from another company, and a week after that a really good offer from the job I have now. I did get called the first week of January, when I was happy to inform them that I accepted my current position.

    People with my experience don’t grow on trees, and the vacancy was for this weird perma-temp thing. It was for a renewable term appointment that at some point I would have to compete for a full time gig. On top of that, I would have entered in the mid-GS12’s, and the position topped out as a GS12. Translation: While the entry paid would have been ok, I’d be screwed on raises — 1% on average for the next couple of years.

    If the feds want to hire and retain top talent, they need to learn how to actually move kind of quickly. Having applied to a few fed jobs, I now understand why fed employees have the stereotypical reputation that they do — they can only get people who have the patience to put up with the “process.” AAM has always said that good people have options, and she’s right — they get to exercise those options long before the feds come calling. So, the feds are more or less stuck with people who don’t have options.

    While that is a stereotype, the better fed employees seem to come from contractors, and have already got an “in” with the agency. That seems to be true of the handful of feds that I’ve worked with.

    1. Stephanie*

      While that is a stereotype, the better fed employees seem to come from contractors, and have already got an “in” with the agency. That seems to be true of the handful of feds that I’ve worked with.

      Coincidentally enough, a friend told me today she got an in at a job at a federal agency because the agency wanted to do less onboarding work and hire from her contracting agency.

    2. Sharm*

      “While that is a stereotype, the better fed employees seem to come from contractors, and have already got an “in” with the agency. That seems to be true of the handful of feds that I’ve worked with.”

      Interesting! My boyfriend is a government contractor, but it sounds like he’ll never get a fed job. They seem exceedingly rare where we are and in his field, and there doesn’t seem to be a pipeline that might exist elsewhere.

  4. Dan*


    AAM, I had a hard time placing your advice of “go with the job you want the most” in the proper context. Usually, you focus so much on “you don’t have an offer until you have it signed sealed and delivered” and you even said that again in your response.

    Given the flow of your response, that last sentence almost reads as if you’re telling the OP to take the fed job if that’s what he wants. In reality, what you’re responding to is the question he originally posed — if he actually does get both offers at the same time, does he owe the feds any courtesy?

    TL;DR: You might want to caveat that last sentence ever so slightly to give it better context.

    1. Alison Green* Post author

      I was responding there directly to the OP’s last sentence: “I know their crazy bureaucratic process is not my fault, but how much should I weigh the time they invested trying to get me on board if I end up getting both these offers?”

      1. Adam V*

        Probably something along the lines of “I’d like to see you try”, followed by intentionally dropping the lens cap again.

      2. Rev.*

        “…As she was attaching it to the camera, she said in a serious tone,…”

        Ah…hold on a minute. I completely missed the feminine pronoun.

        This changes everything.

        If it had been a man, Adam V would have been right. Except I first would have flipped the cap waaaaay up in the air, giving me an extra second to clock him with a left hook, followed by a right cross. Unprofessional, yes, but immensely satisfying.

        It’s not called the “sweet science” for nothing, y’know.

        But, since it was a woman, I think curiosity would have gotten the better of me:

        Boss Lady: “Eric, if you do this again I’m going to kick your f’ing ass!”

        Me: “Really? You and what army?”

        Boss Lady: “Do it again, and see!”

        Me: (laughing) “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your fists can’t cash!”

        Boss Lady: (flipping lens cap @ me) “Here, (expletive deleted), like I said, Do-It-Again-And-SEE!”

        This situation is rapidly deteriorating. But, I must admit, curiosity would have gotten the better of me, and I would have flipped the cap @ her, droped to the ground, cover the family jewels, and hope the rest of the crew pulls her off me quickly. But with my luck, some smarty-pants would film it, and put it on YouTube.

        *hangs head in shame*

  5. Jen RO*

    #5 – “It’s been over a week and I’ve followed up with a couple emails. Is it likely they’re just not interested or just too busy to reply?”
    It’s just as likely they decided against you because you sent several emails in a week for a job you didn’t even have an interview for!

    1. Dan*

      The OP did say the hiring manager expressed some initial interest in talking. OP was sending “several” (I read two) emails trying to confirm/arrange a phone call. I don’t see two emails in “over a week” to be out of hand.

      That said, candidate time moves like 100x faster than hiring time.

      1. Jen RO*

        I read it as two unsolicited emails – for example, email 1: “hi, can we decide on a date/time for the call?” and email 2: “hi, you haven’t answered email 1, can we set something up?”. The second email would be overkill in all places I’ve worked.

        1. TM*

          The two emails were replies. Hiring Manager asked if we can talk and I confirmed. That never happened and I followed up again to see if he wanted to reschedule. Sorry for the confusion.

      2. TrainerGirl*

        Candidate time DEFINITELY moves much faster than employer time. I received an e-mail from a recruiter last week about a position she initially contacted me about (and then never followed up) in June 2013. I had to go back to my e-mail archives to figure out how long it had been. She said they were “close” to making a selection for the position. At the time she initially contacted me (my resume had been forwarded to her by another recruiter at the company, so I didn’t apply for the position), I was very excited about the job, as it sounded great and was exactly where I wanted to go. To realize that almost a year later, they still hadn’t hired anyone, I was glad that the recruiter disappeared on me.

    2. Graciosa*

      It would be bordering on too much for me, but probably not quite tipping over just yet. I do think Jen’s fundamental point is a good one – the OP should rein it in.

      Also, remember not to read too much into every little thing – it’s just an email (or in this case, lack of an email).

  6. Looking for new career*

    #1 Either she attempted to make a joke, and failed, or she’s a pretty damned unprofessional manager.

  7. InAPreviousLife*

    If op 1 is working in the tv/film industry, it’s worth acknowledging that there are very different expectations around manager/employee conversations, what someone is expected to deal with on a daily basis, and what the repercussions are for rocking the boat.

    1. majigail*

      The OP should probably expect it to happen again if he stays in this industry… one of the many reasons I got away from it.

      1. Belinda Gomez-Maldonado*

        In actual production, people, even executives, act like they’re below the line blue collar roughnecks–not like office sharks strgiht out of Mad Men. Someone who drops equipment and doesn’t know why it’s a big deal might find another line of work.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Part of it is because the hierarchy is very different from your traditional office. People might be in charge of a shoot or broadcast, but have zero “managerial” authority to hire or fire or discipline people. In live broadcast when there is zero margin for error, tensions & stress run very high because you only get one chance to do something correctly.

        In small shops nobody is thinking of themselves as a “manager” because it might be 2 guys hiring a freelancer to help them out and everybody’s out in the field doing the same kind of work and they’re really more peers than manager/employee…

        All of that said, as long as the lens wasn’t still attached to it, all I’d care about is that the virtually unbreakable plastic lens cap got picked up & dusted off.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      +1 – not saying it’s right, just that that’s the way it is… Go to youtube and search “WTF is going on it tape” to get a good feel for a bad day in TV/Film.

      I won’t post the link because it is definitely NSFW.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      Oh yes. My husband’s a carpenter in the movie industry and some of the stories he’s told me about workplace interactions make my jaw drop. It’s a different world.

  8. Jessie*

    #2 – I have a relative who works for one of the agencies that the Gov’t outsources background checking too. Yup, it goes somewhere else. Anyways, depending on what level security clearance you will need, a background check can take a few months to a year. Things like moving around and having alot of previous addresses over the past several years can REALLY hold things up. Also, if you have a common name like “Jane Smith,” that can also tie things up a bit too. And of course the obvious – any run ins with the law or IRS ;-D If that’s not you, then it might be worth waiting it out.

    1. De Minimis*

      The actual investigators are often contractors, although they are contracted with OPM.

      Our full background checks are done after the person starts work–I think we do a preliminary check for a person’s criminal record and that is enough to at least make an offer. It is fairly uncommon for a person to fail the actual background check, although I have heard of one employee who was uncomfortable with the scrutiny and I think either quit or was fired for something else after the first few months.

      1. AB*

        That’s not necessarily true, I too went through the whole rigamarole with the Gov for a foreign service spot. They did the full background investigation prior to a job offer. They only did a preliminary background check to move me past the first rounds. Also, it wasn’t uncommon for people to fail the background check. Most of the failures were finance-related (low credit score, a bankruptcy, or if they’d ever had a judgement against them), and some were even for relatively minor scrapes with the law (unpaid traffic tickets, for example). The whole process was excruciating, for a job that didn’t really pay the close to the market average in the public sector and didn’t offer anything in terms of advancement. I ended up taking a private sector offer shortly before I received my offer from the Government.

  9. Variation*

    Alison, thank you so much for linking to your post debunking the “dream job” turn of phrase- I hope you continue to link to it going forward.

    #5 – You’ve done what you can, and the hiring process takes a lot longer than anyone ever expects. I’m glad you have someone on the inside who can push for you when the process picks up again. It’s a little rude that they’re not responding, but sometimes more pressing matters come up.

    1. Graciosa*

      I do not agree that the hiring manager is being rude on this one.

      I think courtesy demands that we (as a company – doesn’t have to be the hiring manager) respond to job applicants and let them know when we have made a decision of some sort. Leaving them hanging indefinitely would be rude, but there are no specific time tables in which we are required to make a decision.

      I am also strongly of the opinion that there is nothing rude in refusing to drop everything so I can respond immediately to any emails from an applicant, at the expense of other aspects of my job. What strikes me as rude is the expectation that this is a reasonable request from an applicant – it really isn’t.

      1. Rayner*

        Nobody’s saying that the hiring manager has to drop everything, but it’s been a week. Even a standard, “I’m sorry, we don’t reply to questions via email, please phone with anything important” is still better than radio silence. I could understand if it was a few days, but this is more than a week now, and when all the signs are positive (sent job req. within hours, checked out linkedin), it seems a little odd not to respond within five to seven working days (depending on the definition of a week).

        However, it’s not horrendously rude and inexcusable. It’s more likely one of those things that hiring companies can do with candidates – they are in the position of power, so they have less incentive to return every contact quickly.

      2. TM*

        Although I don’t think the hiring manager is being rude. It’s just odd the hiring manager originally reached out and the communication was cut abruptly without even talking

        1. TM*

          Not only reached out but asked if we can talk the next day. I simply replied “Of course” and provided my number. When that call didn’t happen, that’s when I followed up with a 2nd email

          1. Ruffingit*

            That is terribly rude then because he made an appointment with you to talk and then didn’t call and hasn’t answered your email. I’d be strongly considering if I wanted to work for someone like that.

  10. CoffeeLover*

    I’d definitely let this one go. Yes it was unprofessional, but the only thing I see happening from you trying to address it is that you will appear overly sensitive. It would have been better if you had addressed it as soon as this was said to you, but its not worth bringing up now.

  11. Puffle*

    #3 wow, I would be so tempted to just go incommunicado. I get the occasional call or email from my supervisor out of hours, but this is just over the line.

    I’m not sure exactly where would be a good place to draw the line, but I do think you need to start pushing back sometimes and saying, “I’m sorry, I have other commitments right now, but I can do it when I come into the office on Thursday”.

    Alternatively, could you “adopt” some kind of new hobby, like camping in the wilderness, and say, “won’t have phone signal or internet access at all this weekend, oops, sorry”? I don’t usually advocate lying to your manager, but a few white lies might be needed to save your sanity.

    1. Alone in the wilderness*

      I don’t lie about this, I do it for real. I find vacation spots that have or look like they will have no to limited cellphone coverage. U.S. National Parks can usually be counted on to have, at best, poor reception….and they truly are a vacation so you can get away from it all.

    2. Sunflower*

      I think this manager is just so rude that even lying would be too nice. IMO, part-time and full-time workers come with different expectations. I would NEVER expect a part-time worker to do anything more than answer a simple question for me when they aren’t at work (ex. where did you put that folder). OP 3 needs to say something! This manager seems a little insane honestly!!

      1. some1*

        “I think this manager is just so rude that even lying would be too nice.”

        Agreed. When I worked retail I was almost always called on my day off and asked to come in. Luckily this was back before cell phones and email were common so I could get away with just not answering my land line.

  12. Legal jobs*

    If it is okay I would like to piggyback off Response #2

    I was contacted for an interview on Friday.

    I applied for the position on January 7.

    As I have mentioned , because of the toxic nature of my current position, I’m extremely sensitive to concerns about taking another position in a company that’s toxic.

    Here the OP knows why the employer is moving so slow. Do you consider slowness of several months to generally be a red flag, or is there some plausible reason for a company to take so long ? Is there any way to ask politely during the interview stage so that one can address one’s concerns about a potential employer when one is uncertain like the OP is?

    1. Ruffingit*

      I don’t think taking time to hire is, in itself, a red flag. Could be that the hiring manager has had several other projects of more importance to focus on, could be they were out of the office for a few weeks, could be that they thought they wouldn’t be able to hire for that position after all, but found the money in the budget so they’re contacting people now. Could be a lot of things.

      Asking about why it was such a long process in the interview? No, I would not recommend that. It will make you look as though you don’t understand hiring norms. That said, I do think you can ask questions about typical project timelines and the like to ferret out some of the information.

  13. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – if the agency is federal, there’s a good chance that the holdup is that they’re not sure they’ll have the funding to bring you on right now. That may or may not be the case with this particular employer, but things are pretty bleak right now for federal funding, depending on where you are.

    I would take the offer you have on the table. You didn’t lead them on – this happens all the time. The hiring manager will be disappointed, but understand. Managers can’t really fix this stuff either.

  14. OP#2*

    Hi folks, OP of the long background check here. Thank you for the advice Alison – it’s pretty much exactly what I ended up telling myself! The government offer finally came through the same week I was finishing up interviewing at the other place, so thankfully I was able to choose on the merits of the jobs and not just what I had in hand. I ended up going with the government job because the salary was better than I expected it would be, and it’s more in line with what I want to be doing. But, if they had been a week or two later, the gov’t probably would have lost out.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      That’s great news for both you and your agency!

      There’s nothing more frustrating for us managers that making an offer and having it take so long to finalize that we lose the candidate :(

  15. Sunflower*

    #5- It wasn’t until I started working that I realized why hiring can take so long sometimes. A week is really not long at all. Maybe I’ve just been doing this stuff too long but I expect it to take at least a month or 2 to get through the hiring process. Still annoying none the less.

    I’m having a hard time explaining hiring timelines to my friend who was recently let go at her job. She was recruited right out of college and has never gone through the professional job search process. She’s only been applying for about a month and is very disheartened by the lack of responses. I try to explain that it takes months, not days and she can’t take it personally but she doesn’t like that answer…yeah well me neither.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m with you. I now expect it to be at least a 2-month process and I’m pleasantly surprised when it’s not. Sorry to hear of your friend’s troubles. My ex was like that. When I was unemployed and doing the job search thing, he would say sometimes “Why can’t you just get a job? You’ve sent a ton of resumes.” And I would try to calmly explain that it takes a long time to find a job and a lot of resumes. I also told him that since he was in his 40s and had gotten all three of the jobs he’s held since age 22 from his dad who was his manager at the companies they hired him at (two of the jobs) and his best friend (also his manager at the last job he was hired at) and had never had to send a resume or cover letter, he couldn’t possibly understand the difficulty and pain of the job search.

      Some people just don’t get it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I would have a tough time not saying “Because my daddy isn’t hiring.”
        grrr. We have the expression YMMV because everyone has different experiences.
        You were amazingly patient with your answer.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I became less patient over time with his nonsense (hence his being an ex). There was a time when I said “Well, I don’t have a dad or best friend who is hiring so…” and left it at that. He got the message. He was a jerk in many ways, this was just one of a slew of examples.

  16. Bea W*

    #3 – This is another example of why one should avoid “friending” one’s boss on social networks.

    This manager is way over the line contacting you at your other job on top of the contacting you when you are not working, and she needs to pay you for the time you work OP#3. Please have a discussion with her as Alison suggests, and set some boundaries. It is totally within reason to refuse to take her calls and requests while you are at your other job. Your other employer is not paying you to be at her beck and call. This is something that if they found out could justifiably piss them off.

    It’s likely she is taking advantage because she can, and hopefully with some pushback from you she’ll back off without too much drama.

    1. Sunflower*

      You need to have a talk with her because there’s a chance her boss doesn’t know she doing this. If you are hourly non-exempt and working hours you aren’t being paid for, that is majorly illegal and something smart managers would be greatly concerned about. Given that you aren’t the only one in this position, if it came up that you guys were owed back pay then her boss is gonna be really pissed.

      Also Block her on social media and say you deleted your page. that’s probably the best way to deal with that

    2. JMegan*

      OP says there is a Facebook group, which I’m betting was the manager’s idea. It might not be so easy (politically, that is) to get out of it via unfriending or blocking or whatever.

      OP, please push back on this – she is taking advantage of you and your colleagues.

        1. Broke Philosopher*

          In my previous job, the facebook group was pretty much the only way to learn new information or get questions answered. I avoided joining it for a long time, but I missed out on so much important information that I eventually gave in. I was really unhappy about it, though.

          1. Prickly Pear*

            I started a facebook group at my old job, because I wanted a place to have non-work related discussion, and so we wouldn’t all have to be on each others’ friends list. (I have a hard rule of not friending bosses, and I don’t trust any of my current coworkers enough to friend them either.) I’d been so sad if it’d ever become a source of conflict. I’ve been gone for a while- we still use the group for party announcements and just a way to stay in touch.

        2. Ruffingit*

          I knew someone whose boss insisted that she friend him on Facebook. He insisted on this from other employees as well. She resisted, but it was just astounding to me that a boss would ask that. He harassed people about it so it wasn’t just a request, it was an every couple of days thing of “Why haven’t you friended me on Facebook yet??”

        3. JMegan*

          Oh, I agree 100% – if you were dealing with a reasonable person! Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like OP’s boss is all that reasonable. If she’s absolutely insisting that everybody be part of this group, it’s not going to be very easy for the OP to say no.

    3. Anonsie*

      On the one hand the OP definitely needs to not take this from her manager, on the other hand I can’t imagine there is anything she can do that will get through to a manager who tried to get you to do unpaid work while you’re at another job and shames people on a Facebook group she made specifically for that purpose. That seems like a losing battle.

      1. Bea W*

        Yes, I have a feeling if the manager is doing it to everyone, it may be a lost cause, but there also aren’t a lot of options other than “suck it buttercup” and “find a new job”.

      2. Ruffingit*

        I tend to agree. OP needs to get another PT job ASAP to make up for the loss of this one because with a manager this crazy it seems the likely outcome regardless is going to be loss of the job.

  17. LBK*

    #4 getting charged full 8 hours of PTO on a shortened day

    Is the office officially closed after a certain time on these days, or is it a kind of “Hey Jane, if you’re done with everything you need to do today, feel free to go home early?” Either way I’m pretty sure they can make you take a full 8 hours, but the former would be a little shadier than the latter. We have officially shortened days in my office when the stock market closes early, and on those days I wouldn’t expect to be charged a full day of PTO because no one is going to be in the office for 8 hours, guaranteed.

    1. Cat*

      I don’t think it’s shady, per se, but for people setting vacation policies for their workplace: why not just let your employees take the reduced amount of PTO for that day? It’ll get you some good will and reduce people feeling like they should be timing their days off for maximum impact.

      1. LBK*

        Shady might be the wrong word, but it would definitely be annoying. If we were officially closing early, as in adjusted business hours communicated to clients, phone system off, everyone out before the normal time, I’d be pretty annoyed if I were charged 8 hours when no one else was getting charged the 2 hours or whatever that they were guaranteed off due to the early closure.

      2. Meg Murry*

        Because at my last office the shortened hours were to encourage people NOT to take vacation days on the last day before a long weekend. So the choice was to either take a vacation day to extend the long weekend, but use 8 hours of vacation time, or to work for 6 hours on that day but get paid for a full day. It also wouldn’t work to allow reduced PTO at most places I worked because they had policies that you could only take PTO in 4 or 8 hour blocks.

        1. Meg Murry*

          I should add – because without the incentive of leaving 2 hours early, the office was a ghost town and very little work got done on that day before the holiday. And in departments that required coverage, it meant that the people with less seniority (which could still mean 10+ years – people tended to stick around this company with 20+ year and 30+ year employees common) would ALWAYS be stuck working the day before the holiday weekend, so it was a way to encourage the people with seniority to work it or to soften the blow for people who couldn’t get off.

    2. Jennifer M.*

      Everywhere I’ve worked we have had the same policy as #4; it is not at all unusual. As a company that is a government contractor they have to carefully weigh these decisions- time coded to leave comes from a different pool than time coded to office closure and it has a financial impact on the company.

      1. LBK*

        So if the office is closing 2 hours early, why wouldn’t you be able to code that person for 6 hours of regular vacation leave and 2 hours of office closure leave?

        1. Chriama*

          The idea is that those people are paying a premium for guaranteed time off. I remember a comment talking about thinking of it as exchange rates (in one of the previous posts on snow days) and I wish I could remember it because it was pretty brilliant.

          The general idea is that when you take PTO you’re getting the freedom to make plans that take up your whole day, whereas when the office just happens to close early people who came in don’t get the same freedom and flexibility. So it’s a way to reward employees for coming in on unpopular days, like right before a holiday.

          Anyway, it’s not the most generous way to run a business, but its common enough that its acceptable practice. If a company treated its employees well in other areas, this wouldn’t necessarily be a deal breaker.

            1. Chriama*

              Thanks Alison! I love that analogy because when you come down to it, it is a financial decision.

              A business has a variety of reasons to run that way, and even though you’re arguing that being generous benefits employees, it doesn’t benefit those employees who choose to come in anyway. They technically get the raw end of the deal because the people who booked time off get guaranteed time off at the same rate of exchange as them.

            2. LBK*

              As Joey’s comment there points out, though, is this truly analogous when you’re working with individual PTO hours, not days? For example, if I take a planned half day, I’m only charged 4 hours of PTO (or however early I’m leaving). I’m only expected to use the amount of PTO that I’m actually away from the office during business hours. Is that not typical?

              1. Meg Murry*

                But in the case of closing early (working 6 hours instead of 8, for instance) – if you only used 6 PTO hours, you would only be PAID 6 PTO hours at most companies – they don’t have a line item for “free extra 2 hours for closing early”.
                And then you’d have people griping about that – “If you work 6 hours on the Friday before Memorial Day you get paid for a full day, but if you take PTO you only get paid for 6 hours.”

                Don’t complain too much, or the company will decide that you’re all a bunch of whiners and will do away with the early closing in the name of “fairness to all”. I’ve seen it happen – “fairness to all” usually means “we took away a perk most people enjoyed because a few complained or abused it.”

                1. LBK*

                  Your example actually supports my argument, though. If we’re assuming everyone is getting paid hourly and the people in the office are only working 6 hours, they’re only getting paid for 6 hours. Why would I have to use 8 hours of PTO to get that time off?

                  And I’m salaried, as is everyone in my office, so pay doesn’t factor in for my situation. It’s just about how many hours of PTO you have to use.

                2. Cat*

                  But presumably all the other people in the company are getting paid for those two hours – what do they enter for them?

                  I don’t think anyone is saying that people should be griping about this to their management. I think those of us who are proposing people not have to take PTO when their office is closed are more talking from a normative standpoint.

                3. LBK*

                  And, to add to Cat’s point, this is only assuming that everyone else who won’t be in the office during those hours gets to do so without using PTO. I know there are some offices where everyone is required to use PTO even for official holiday closures (but let’s not even get into how bizarre that is).

                4. Jack*

                  For the folks asking “how do they code it when people leave early” – in my office we clock in and out on our computers, and the boss has the ability to go in and manually adjust our hours. Those two extra hours look just like regular hours.

        2. Judy*

          Everywhere I’ve worked, it’s not been as much “We’re closing the office early”, but the big boss at 2-3 pm visibly leaving the office, making sure their direct reports see them “Hey, I’m heading out, have a great holiday”. Then the managers go 15-20 minutes later, the same way, wishing their subordinates a good holiday. It cascades downward, and you never know when it’s going to happen exactly.

          1. some1*

            This is how it’s worked at every job I have had, too. You go in Christmas or NYE and never know for sure if you will close early or what time it will be.

          2. LBK*

            I have both official closures and unofficial, the way you described. For unofficial I would absolutely expect to pay the full 8 hours of PTO, because it’s not really guaranteed that you would get that time off anyway – if you had a particularly busy day or your manager wanted everyone there the full hours, you’d still be expected to stay until the normal closure time. I’m referring specifically to official, planned closures where everyone is guaranteed to get free hours off without using PTO.

            I mean, you don’t have to use PTO to take off weekends, right? If the office is completely closed, officially, and no one else is being asked to use PTO to cover that time off, I would find it odd to expect someone who’s taking the rest of that day off to use PTO for the same hours everyone else is getting off without PTO. I get why companies would do it, but I think it’s a weird policy.

        3. Bea W*

          The way it works for exempt people at my company is you can only spend PTO in 1/2 day increments. I can’t request 6 hours of leave, literally, that’s not an option in our request/payroll system and it is written company policy. It has to be “1/2 day” or “full day”. Non-exempt employees can take odd increments with manager approval.

  18. AVP*

    #1- I’m a video producer and we lose and otherwise destroy lens caps all the time. They’re like $7 to replace. Soooo not a big deal, I have to think your manager was joking.

    1. NotMyRealName*

      And if it really is traumatic to drop or lose a lens cap, perhaps investing in one of the many (not terribly expensive) devices designed to prevent such horrors might be appropriate.

      1. NotMyRealName*

        To be fair, they are used to protect fairly expensive pieces of equipment. But I’ve never met a photographer that didn’t lose lens caps, and I have to think it’s pretty common considering how many lens cap retention devices are on the market.

  19. De Minimis*

    #2—do what you feel is best for you. The gov’t is not like a private employer to where it’s a major problem if people turn them down or change their minds. It’s not hard for them to go on to the next person. A lot of the time the staff have already been picking up the slack of the vacant position for some time [quite often for a few months or more], so it’s not really a huge issue for them to continue doing it for a while longer.

    As far as funding, I don’t know how other agencies do it, but we can’t even post a vacancy unless funding is in place. We also routinely shift some people between different funding sources over the course of the year, although I don’t know if that is common practice. It’s generally a couple of key people that command high salaries [and thankfully one of them is going to retire this summer, so that will be the end of that particular headache…]

    Saw your follow-up….glad you were able to make a decision that you felt good about!

    I agree with others that federal benefits are good but not really great….I’ve seen other government or quasi-government jobs offer a lot more as far as benefits. And the pension is definitely not sufficient for most people to live on unless they are able to get to a very high grade by the end of their career [and also are able to scale way, way back after retirement.]

  20. Chriama*

    OP#3 — I’m curious about what sort of interruptions they are, and what kind of work you do. If it’s something like asking you where to find something or follow up on a conversation with a client, you could talk to her about a better documentation system so she doesn’t need to call you. If it’s something like wanting you to respond to a client or do actual work, you should work out an on-call budget with her. Examples would be paying you for x additional hours/week (where x is the average time you spend dealing with her interruptions) or a usage system where you get a guaranteed sum every time she contacts you + time spent working on whatever she wants. I prefer the second one because it’ll cause her to think twice about calling you in the first place.

    Either way, though, if you want to speak up you’ll have to point out
    a) you legally need to be paid for all time worked, regardless of whether or not you’re scheduled for that time, and
    b) emphasize the fact that you’re a part-time worker with other obligations.
    If she’s a reasonable but disorganized person, she’ll try to change but she’ll probably need you to push back on those requests until the old habit is broken.

    You mention being intimidated by her, so she might not be reasonable. In that case, you need to decide how much this job is worth it to you and what you’re willing to put up with to keep it. If you speak up, worst case scenario is she fires you. If you don’t, worse case scenario is the off-hours interruptions continue to the detriment of the rest of your life, maybe even getting you fired from your other job. (Can you tell which way I’m biased? But seriously, you need to decide what your priorities are and act based off of that).

    1. neverjaunty*

      OP #3, in addition to having ‘the talk’ with your boss, you should start keeping track of all of her off-time calls to you: when she called, what she asked you to do, how long you had to spend on it. You need to have some kind of record of how much unpaid time she is forcing you to work. That way, you not only can present her with exactly how much compensation you are owed , but if she threatens to fire you or actually does, you have a record of her illegal actions should you need to talk to a lawyer to get your pay back.

      If your boss wants you to work at times when you’re not at your job and getting paid, she is stealing money from your pockets. Period. And when she insists you work for her during your other job, she is also stealing money from your other employer, as well as putting your job at risk.

      1. Chriama*

        Given that this is a part-time job, I doubt that the time and money spent engaging a lawyer would be worth the recovered pay (even if the OP won and the boss had to pay court fees).

        I definitely agree with your second point, and that’s a good way to frame it. Every time the boss asks you to do work without paying you, she’s stealing from you — time as well as money. Obviously that may be a cost you’re willing to absorb to keep the job (aka bad debt), but you absolutely need to think of it as an expense she’s incurring against you and not just an inconvenience.

  21. Bea W*

    #4 is pretty common policy. So it’s for you to decide, do you want the day off or do you want to work and hope you get lucky with an early close. Most places I’ve worked early close usually means 3 pm. For some people I work with that’s a full day, and for almost everyone else it’s only an hour or 2 short of a full day. it’s not the same as having a full day off.

    1. some1*

      Exactly. It’s a perk provided to the people who came in and were available to work a full day.

      If I take Friday off, I wouldn’t ask my boss if I can wear jeans on Thursday because I’m missing jeans day.

    2. Jennifer M.*

      It has always been my experience that because these 3pm early closings are announced last minute (like the day before), I’ve never been able to actually leave at 3 because I have a meeting schedule for 3:30 or reports that haven’t had their due date extended just because senior management decided to close early

      1. Bea W*

        BTDT! Every place I have worked has announced early closings around lunch time the same day. You don’t know coming in on that day if you will get let out or not, so you have to plan to work a full day. One project I was on for many years, had a bunch of people on the west coast, so it wasn’t odd to have meetings scheduled at 4 or 4:30 PM on any given day.

  22. Chriama*

    OP#1 — Given that you’ve worked with this person for a decent amount of time with no problems, why do you feel this incident was significant? And why would you be angry instead of hurt or taken aback? I feel like there might be unresolved issues between you 2 that’s bringing you to the “b**ch eating crackers” phase in a troubled relationship. If that’s the case, I think the approach should be slightly less confrontational, and probably shouldn’t include the last part of Alison’s script.

    If it is totally out of the blue in an otherwise cordial relationship, then go ahead and add the last part, or even add something like “I couldn’t tell you were joking and I would hate to interpret real concerns about my performance as a joke”.

    Of course if she was serious, then you have a manager who thinks threatening to kick your a$$ is a reasonable response to concerns about your job performance and you need to decide how you want to deal with that.

    1. Tinker*

      I think for some folks the content in question is more dicey than others.

      Personally, I was raised hearing a lot about incidents where people were thrown out of school, arrested, etc. for what were described as relatively trivial references to violence — it was something of a meme that went along with my family’s political inclinations. I also graduated high school right after Columbine and moved to the Denver metro area subsequently, and was very aware of being potentially seen a part of the group that often got targeted for increased scrutiny after that event. On top of that several of my hobbies are ones that to some degree can trigger bad reactions in people, and in some ways I’m fairly closely affiliated with precisely the people who tend to have those bad reactions.

      As a result of these things, I tend to be very careful about making casual references to unethical use of violence such as “I could punch you” or “I could have strangled him” or things like that — and given that I am careful in that way, when people do it around me I’m substantially taken aback. Not generally in such a way that I literally feel the threat of physical harm, but I tend to think of such behavior as being generally socially unacceptable and especially something that is beyond the pale in work or work-like environments.

      I’m not sure what my reaction would be to the specific situation posed by the OP, but I do think it would bother me quite a lot — at least to a degree that I would feel the need to raise the matter with them as an issue. So I wouldn’t necessarily say that the OP would have to have a special resentment of the person saying such things, in order to react badly to an event like that.

      1. Us, Too*

        It can be dicey. My family has some horrible violence in its past and we DO NOT joke about violence.

        The fact is that such comments are generally socially unacceptable because you really have no way of knowing who will have “baggage” about these sorts of things and who won’t. It’s best avoided along with all the other sensitive subjects (sex, politics, race, etc).

        I think AAM’s advice on this one is spot on. Frankly, if I’m managing someone and something I said caused them to spend hours seething or upset, I’d want to know about it – that sounds like something I’d certainly want to avoid in the future because an angry employee is hardly going to be at his best.

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    #4- We have the policy that if you have planned PTO during a snow day (or other unexpected closure) then you have to take your PTO. It sucks but I understand why. But given the number of snow days we had during my maternity leave this Dec-March, it was really irritating.

    1. Cat*

      I mentioned it above, but I actually don’t really understand why. I know it’s a common policy, but I’ve also worked at places where that isn’t the policy and everything went fine and, as a bonus, people didn’t feel like the company was constantly trying to squeeze them out of their PTO.

      1. Colette*

        Let’s say I take a week off to fly to a different country on vacation.

        It snows on Wednesday, and the office is closed.

        Why would I get Wednesday without having to take a vacation day, when I was able to use it for vacation?

        I can understand it would be annoying to book a day off to run errands and not be able to do that because the city has ground to a halt, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to charge people vacation for days they booked off and do not work.

        1. Cat*

          Because vacation days are supposed to be days the company gives you where it pays you for not working when it otherwise would have gotten labor out of you. If the office is closed because of snow, it wouldn’t have gotten labor out of you that day. Thus, it should be paying you for not working on the same basis it’s paying all the other employees for not working (snow). And you should get another day where you’re being paid for not working where the company really would have otherwise gotten labor out of you.

          I mean, I see what you’re saying. But the fact is, either way, someone is getting a windfall. One way the company is avoiding having to pay someone for either a snow day or a vacation day they’d otherwise have to pay (depending on how you look at it); the other way the employee is getting an “extra” vacation day. I think it’s nice of the company to let the windfall – which is usually pretty minor from its perspective – go to the employee. Not necessary, but one of those things that builds good will and makes your people feel like they’re valued.

            1. Cat*

              Well, that’s obviously something they’re allowed to do, but it’s another thing that’s pretty petty.

              1. Colette*

                Honestly, they’re currently doing something they aren’t required to do (i.e. give employees time off with pay when the business is closed). They’re presumably doing so because they value their employees and want to keep them. If it’s going to cause morale problems for people who booked those days off anyway (either knowing the business would be closed or not knowing the business would be closed), why should they do something that is above and beyond?

                1. Cat*

                  But by the same token, if you’re doing something above and beyond, why not just go a little more above and beyond and give everyone the couple of hours off? I get if your accounting system makes it prohibitively complicated, but if not, it’s usually relatively little revenue in exchange for doing something nice for your employees. Seems like an easy call to me.

                  I don’t think this is a “well, if you’re not appreciative than NOBODY gets to go to prom” situation. We’re not talking about massive morale issues just . . . well, why nickel and dime your employees if you don’t have to?

                2. Colette*

                  I look at the paid hours like I would a free lunch. If I take a day off and the company brings in lunch for everyone, I wouldn’t expect them to buy me lunch on a different day. Similarly, if my company subsidizes public transport, they aren’t obligated to give me a bonus if I drive myself.

                  Perks aren’t always equally applicable to every person – sometimes because they don’t apply, but sometimes it’s just luck of the draw.

              2. Cat*

                I see what you’re saying, Collette – but I guess for me, this is different because it’s not something you have to be in a physical location to take advantage of. The point about encouraging people to be in the office the day before holidays makes sense to me (I’ve always worked in places where things pretty much stop and everyone is just marking time anyway, so I didn’t think of that). But if it’s just “hey, we’re doing a nice thing for people” or “the office has to close due to outside conditions” I do think it’s a good thing for offices to give everyone the time off even if they had already booked PTO.

              3. Doreen*

                This has nothing to do with the merits of this issue , but why is it that people often see only one side of an issue as as “petty” or “nickle and diming” ? No matter which side of the issue you’re on, it’s the same two hours of leave or $1.87 for advil. The staff at a former job thought is was petty to charge leave or be docked for 15 minutes of lateness but did not think it was petty when claiming 15 minutes of overtime. Its the same 15 minutes

                1. Cat*

                  You’re not wrong but I think in most companies, a couple of hours of extra PTO is going to effect the employees more than the business. If that’s not true about a particular company, it’s a different situation.

                2. Colette*

                  Except that it’s not a couple of hours of PTO – it’s a couple of hours of PTO + employer’s other costs x the number of employees who could take advantage of the loophole.

                  Let’s say a company has 1000 employees, all of whom make $10/hour.

                  20 people are on vacation every week.

                  It snows badly enough to close the office 5 times a year.

                  For each of those 5 days a year, the company is paying 980 x $10 x 8 hours = $78,400 for the employees not on vacation to do nothing (or work from home, or whatever).

                  They’re also paying $10 x 8 hours = $80 t0 each employee on vacation.

                  That’s not much, right?

                  Multiplied by the 20 employees on vacation, and you get $1600/day.

                  Multiply that by the number of snow days, and it would cost the company $8,000 + other operating costs every year – and that’s if your employees only take one week vacation a year. On days right before a holiday, the numbers are likely a lot higher.

                  It’s easy to say that $80 doesn’t matter to a company, but the issue is that they wouldn’t just have that cost for one person.

                3. Colette*

                  That’s up to them to decide, isn’t it?

                  Is it fair for someone to get an extra PTO day because they happened to go away on a day the office was closed due to weather?

                  Is it fair for someone to work the day before a holiday and receive exactly the same compensation as someone who gets the day off?

                  Is it fair for someone to take the day off to run errands and end up stuck at home due to weather?

                  I think we can agree that the answer to all three of these is “no” – so the only fair answer is to only pay people who are at work or on PTO. You could force people to take a 1/2 day when the office closes early (if they work the other half) or a full day if the office is closed due to weather. That would be fair – you’re treated equally whether you planned to take the day off or not – but it wouldn’t be kind, because your employees don’t get to use their time off in the way they’d like to use it.

                  Or you could go with what is kind, and occasionally give your employees a few bonus hours off with pay, even though not everyone will get them.

                  But personally, if I owned a business and let people leave early with pay & then received complaints about it, that would be the last time anyone left early with pay.

                4. Cat*

                  Well, once again, of course it’s for them to decide – I’m just saying I think this is the kind of thing I think it’s worth their while to decide isn’t significant compared to the good will they’ll get from employees. I don’t think it’s about “fairness” – it’s about coming down on the side of your employees on something that will probably mean more to them than to you. (I agree that this isn’t something employees should go to management about; I’m talking about it from the employer perspective.)

                  I don’t know how everyone will feel but I’ve worked at businesses that didn’t charge people PTO if the office happened to be closed on a day they had planned to take vacation. I’ve seen plenty of coworkers get a windfall extra day as a result (and never, to my recollection, gotten one myself though I can remember a couple of times where it snowed *just* enough that I thought I might get one but then it turned out I didn’t). It never occurred to me to think it wasn’t fair that they got an “extra” vacation day and I didn’t because, after all, I didn’t have to work on the snow day either!

        2. TotesMaGoats*

          I don’t think it’s unreasonable either, just a little petty as others have said. I do tell my people if it’s going to snow and they’ve been sick or are getting sick to wait and see if we shut down for the day instead of calling out. Saves a day of sick leave.

          We get nickel and dimed in other places and that’s why it’s so annoying.

        3. Anonsie*

          But on the other side, why should you have to use PTO for a day where you couldn’t go to work no matter what because the office was closed? Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you’re out of the country.

    2. Sunflower*

      This would depend on the nature of your work. At my company, people are expected to work from home as best they can if the offices closes for a snow day. So if you had PTO scheduled, they assume you are planning to not work for the day so they don’t want to pay you for ‘working from home’ when they believe, in reality, you aren’t doing anything.

      If any office closure means no one is doing any work, then no you shouldn’t have to use it.

  24. LV*

    #4 is one of those things that is legit and above-board but seems so, so petty to me.

    At a former job, the office always closed at noon on Dec. 24th and 31st, but employees who came in on those days were paid for the full day. I took NYE off and even though it was 100% guaranteed that I would only have worked 3 hours, I was still docked 8 hours’ pay since I didn’t have PTO. Meantime people who only put in 3 hours were paid for 8. It might be common policy, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.

    1. Dang*

      I can understand being frustrated by it, but at the same time, it’s an incentive for people to come to work for the morning before a holiday or long weekend. Everyone would just take off if they only deducted three hours.

      1. LBK*

        That just seems mean to your employees, though. It makes them choose between work and family. Again, I get it, but it seems like something that costs the company so little and gets a lot of good morale out of people in return.

        1. Colette*

          Every day you go to work is a choice between work and family. As I said upthread, if it’s going to cause problems, maybe that just means that they should stop either closing the business early or paying people for the hours they’re closed.

        2. some1*

          “That just seems mean to your employees, though. It makes them choose between work and family.”

          Not everyone spends NYE with their family (or celebrates it at all for that matter.)

        3. Dang*

          I used to travel home for every holiday and take the day off to get there in a reasonable amount of time. So I get it. But honestly, it didn’t bug me too much… it was a conscious decision of mine to take the day off even though I knew it would put me out 8 vacation hours instead of 4. It just seems standard everywhere… and not really worth making a big fuss about.

      2. Anonsie*

        I get that giving incentive to people working on holidays is a good idea, but it also shouldn’t end up penalizing people who do want that time off as a result. Maybe making it a half day of PTO or something would have made more sense in this case– the folks coming in are still getting a better benefit anyway. Holidays are important to some people.

        1. Colette*

          It’s not penalizing the people who want the time off – it’s rewarding the people who are willing to work.

          But yes, the fairest way would be to only pay people when they work & do away with early closings.

          1. Anonsie*

            Taking a full 8 hours unpaid vs the 3 hours they could realistically have worked (or 4, if you wanna round like I did) is a penalty to me. That’s different than having to use PTO and get paid either way IMO.

    2. Scott M*

      #4 – I wonder what the OP would expect to happen. Do they expect that they get to keep the 2 hours of PTO? Then after 4 holidays they get an extra day of PTO? Are people really this nit-picky about PTO? Maybe it’s just because I have been at my job and have a lot of PTO, but I can’t see getting this worked up over a few hours here and there.

      1. LV*

        It’s great for you that you have a stable job with a lot of PTO, but that’s not the case for everybody.

      2. Jamie*

        This really depends. I don’t keep track of the hours I work from home on a workday or normal weekend – those are part of the job and freely given.

        But if I take a PTO day and end up working for part of it – yes, I inform HR and my time is adjusted. Why it’s important on a PTO day when I burn way more hours all the time and don’t care? It’s psychological – I consider PTO time part of my compensation and I only use a handful of days a year so they are really precious to me.

        IOW to me my unused PTO exists in 2 states – it’s either time or it’s money, depending on how I use it. When I use it that’s taking money out of my PTO bucket to pay me for the day off. If my employer needs me to work from home for part of that and I don’t have them adjust the time I was working (not of my own volition) then I’m paying myself to work. Because unused time is paid out at the end of the year, it’s not just an analogy – if I take a day and work 4 hours of it because they have something that can’t wait, but they deduct the full 8 then that’s 4 hours I’m not getting cashed out at the end of the year. 4 hours in which I paid myself to work for my employer.

        I’ve never had a day off when the office was open where I didn’t have to do anything for work with the exception of the week following my surgery last year.

        So it does add up.

        Now, I don’t count emails or answering brief questions – but if I need to stop what I’m doing and fire up the VPN on my PTO – yeah – I’m not okay with losing that time from the bucket.

        And my employer is more than fine with this – and I like that it reinforces the notion that it’s not really a full day off if I have to remote in so people are little more considerate about badgering me when I’m out of the office.

        But what is nickle and dimey to one person is a matter of principal to another. I will work all kinds of crazy hours on regular days and weekends and not resent it at all. But charging me 8 hrs PTO when I worked part of it would keep me up nights.

        That said – regarding the OP being hit for 8 hours PTO when they left early wouldn’t bother me at all. I didn’t have to get up or go in with the anticipation of working all day, and they had no certainty of the time so it’s not like they could make plans.

        For me it boils down to the fact that I wouldn’t get mad if other people got something I didn’t because I wasn’t there, that’s not the same as taking something from me that was mine.


      3. Bea W*

        I don’t have a ton of PTO, but the difference is 2 hours to me, and I really can’t get worked up about 2 hours. For some people working those days who come in early, they still put in a full day. One could argue that’s even more not fair than having to use 2 extra hours of PTO. IMHO, if 2 hours of PTO is the biggest thing a person has to complain about on the job, they’re in a pretty good spot.

      4. Anonsie*

        Plenty of people don’t get very generous PTO plans. A few hours here and there becomes massive when you only had a few hours to start with.

  25. Unanimously Anonymous*

    #1: I’m frankly appalled at the number of commenters saying “just let it go.” If the genders had been reversed – a male manager threatening physical violence against a female employee – everyone here (yours truly included) would have been screaming for his head; and any HR department worth its salt would have walked him to the front door immediately.

    1. Chriama*

      The gender comparison isn’t always accurate, but I don’t want to discuss that b/c the thread will derail.

      All things considered, I think Alison’s advice is decent. Bring it up to the manager directly. The OP didn’t mention feeling unsafe or threatened, only angry, so it isn’t necessary to escalate straight to HR. Obviously if this was the latest in a series of such comments or OP had a reason to believe the threat was serious, the advice would be different.

    2. Alison Green* Post author

      For what it’s worth, my response would be the same even if it were a man — I’d still assume it was a joke first, and if not, I’d use the script I suggested.

    3. Tinker*

      Personally, I’ve found that speculating on how people would react to “this scenario with such and such change to the demographic characteristics” doesn’t tend to go well unless it’s very carefully done. My reaction, for instance, actually doesn’t diverge all that much, and I have a way of being miffed in cases (not saying this one) where people assert that it does.

      That said, I think you’re right that gender dynamics can play into a case like this — I’ve observed in the past scenarios where men have reported women being unduly free with making violent gestures around them, and feeling frustrated that their discomfort might not be taken seriously and that if they did the same it might be read very differently.

      Personally, I don’t think the solution here is to be harsh to everyone universally — these sentiments aren’t appropriate for the workplace, and they should be treated as inappropriate, but I don’t think that making a practice of walking people to the front door over every use of a form of rhetorical flourish that, my opinion regarding it notwithstanding, is often casually used.

  26. Brett*

    #2 I guess this was a federal position, but if this was a state or local position, it is unusual (even illegal in many states) to conduct a background check without a full conditional offer in place. The conditional will be a written contract that both parties sign and will be binding on both parties as well as giving permission for the background investigator to proceed.

    1. Brett*

      The reason I mentioned this is that it seemed really odd the op was in the middle of a background check with no offer in place.

    2. Sarah*

      This isn’t true for all states – I work in HR for a state agency- and we have new hires do background checks without a conditional offer all the time.

      1. OP#2*

        With appreciation for all the love from federal folks on this thread, it actually is a position in state government. I had to sign a release and do paperwork, etc., all without an offer. I think the delay had to do not only with the background check, but having to get through the agency process and then be approved by the state-wide hr agency.

      2. Brett*

        There are two sticking issues I know of for a background without a conditional offer (other than a state outright banning it). The first is ADA related issues if you run the physical or run a worker’s comp check without an offer. The second is disclosure of date of birth (to run criminal and credit checks), which is not strictly prohibited without an offer, but could lead to an age discrimination claim if done before an offer.

    3. Beti*

      Police departments operate under slightly different rules but they all run backgrounds before getting anywhere close to the point where they are going to offer applicants a position.

      1. Brett*

        I am quite certain that here in Missouri, police departments must make a conditional offer before running a background check, not the other way around. (but it is conditional, if the background fails at all, the offer is rescinded)

        1. Beti*

          Okay, so I shouldn’t have said “all” as in everywhere but “all” as in the 20 or sos PDs I applied to (but never got hired by dang it!) did the background long before an offer. But, as you say, it isn’t the same everywhere.

  27. Brett*

    #4 Good chance my workplace is going to 10 hour days soon, where a vacation day counts 10 hrs of pto against you instead of 8, but you get a rec day. Do these policies on early days tend to work differently with 10 hr days and rec days?

  28. Except in California*

    AAM, I am curious. In your hiring experience, did your organization do full background checks and if so, how long did they take? Ours take about two weeks from fingerprinting. And it’s a full FBI check, not just little Internet searches by some guy.

    1. Alison Green* Post author

      Nope. We checked references, including references that were off-list in some cases, but didn’t do criminal background, etc. (That’s actually pretty typical of most employers; those full-fledged background checks aren’t the norm in most fields.)

      1. Except in California*

        That is pretty much what I thought, based on my days in private consulting. I was surprised by the length of the hiring process here at my government agency, but the background check is very necessary as we deal with the public and the public’s precious little miracles (a.k.a. children). It does slow us down. But I think we end up with some pretty great low-drama employees. Call me, I’ll answer on the first ring. And call you right back with the solution to your problem. Really.

    2. Brett*

      Another strong justification for more thorough background checks in government is that certain employees are likely to end up in court testifying. If it is something another attorney could use in court to damage your credibility, it is going to be in the background check.
      (But that same issue is why I think our background check is too thorough for civilian employees in our agency. Many will never be in court during their career.)

  29. Anonaconda*

    Yeah, LW#1, that’s pretty mild for the film industry. Sure she overreacted and was inappropriate, but I think you’d make yourself stand out in a negative way if you complained about it. Dropping a lens cap is a pretty small offense in the scheme of things, but if you ended up getting the lens dirty or permanently losing part of a rented camera that could waste time and money.

    A lot of people are drawn to the film industry because it’s a casual, nontraditional work environment, and this is the other side of that. It’s not like an office environment where professionalism is valued, for better or worse. Also, I don’t know what your position was on the crew, but the industry does not tend to treat people on its lower rungs with much respect. Everyone is trying to climb that ladder and PAs are seen as highly replaceable.

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