how can I cheat my temp agency, how do I know if I did well in an interview, and more

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

1. How can my temp job hire me on without my temp agency finding out and charging them?

I’m currently working a temp gig and things have been going really great. I like my boss, my boss likes me (at least I hope). It’s a small, intimate environment that up until this point has only demanded that I come in less than a few times a week. My boss trying to bring me in permanently and negotiate a deal with the agency that found me. See, I was placed through a temp agency that is charging 35 percent and they want something like 10 figures if I’m placed permanently. Naturally, this’ll be coming out of my pay, so they had asked the agency for a discount but couldn’t seem to agree on a timeline that was workable that could lower the rates. After a while, the agency flat out refused to lower the rates they were charging in addition to mine, so now I’m pretending to quit so my boss can pay me directly and bring me on permanently.

I’ve never really done this before. What would happen if the agency found out? Could they sue my boss? Naturally, that would be an awful scenario and it’s the last thing anyone wants. I’m trying to cover my tracks but these guys have my Social Security information.

It depends on what their contract with your boss says; that’s what would govern it. They presumably have a contract that specifies that your employer would owe them a certain amount, and they could indeed go to to court to collect on that.

But the bigger point: What you and your boss are thinking of doing is pretty crappy. Your boss signed a contract with your agency agreeing to specific terms, and now she’s deliberately trying to violate that contract. Your agency provides a service that they need to charge for in order to stay in business, and your boss agreed to their terms when she decided to work with them. Do you really want to be someone who defrauds other people out of the fees they charge, fees that were fully disclosed in advance? And do you want to work for someone who operates that way?

2. How do I know if I did well in an interview?

How would one know if he/she does well in an interview?

Do you feel like you explained why you’d excel at the job in a convincing way? Do you feel like you had a reasonably good rapport with the interviewer, and they seemed engaged in the conversation with you? Those are both good signs. And the absence of either of those isn’t a good sign. That said, people get hired all the time when they didn’t think these things were true — and these things can be true and you still won’t get an offer, because someone else was a better fit. There’s really no way to know for sure, and you can drive yourself crazy trying to figure it out.

A better approach is to go into interviews with the aim of clearly explaining what you’ve achieved in the past, how you operate, and what you’d bring to the job, while simultaneously exploring whether or not you and the job and workplace are the right match … because that’s a question for you too, not just for the employer.

3. My boss won’t let us take time off while our coworker is on maternity leave

I am part of a three-person team, directly overseen by one director. One of my colleagues (not the director) is going out on maternity leave in August. My director has instructed my other coworker and I to not take any time off while she is out. He said time off is at his discretion and his decision is that we’ll be too short-staffed for either of us to take time off. (Let’s overlook the fact that he will be taking a week off right at the beginning of her maternity leave – I digress!)

Is this legal? I do understand that time off is at a manager’s discretion, but limiting our time off for three months to coincide with someone’s maternity leave seems fishy. One note: our days aren’t broken out into vacation/sick/etc. You take a day or a week as requested and they all fall into the same bucket.

Yeah, it’s legal. But I’d seek clarification from him: Often when managers say this in this context, they mean they don’t want you taking long vacations during periods like this — but a day here and there is fine, and if you’re sick or have some other emergency, it’s fine. It’s highly likely that that’s what he means — ask.

4. Employer wants to see the reference letter I wrote for a coworker

I have a colleague whose teaching contract was not renewed, so they are seeking work elsewhere. They asked me to be a reference, and I happily obliged with an honest and supportive letter. I have no supervisory role and made this reference as a friend, not as a representative of my school or district. Much to my surprise, I was contacted by my principal and asked for a copy of the recommendation. Obviously, by not renewing my colleague’s contract, the administration hasn’t exactly been supportive. I don’t know why they want it, or what good could come of them having it. Do they have any grounds to request this? I’m not inclined to acquiesce to their request. Any thoughts on how to politely decline such a request? Or do you think I should be turning it over?

That wasn’t really a personal reference, even if you intended it that way; it was a professional one, because you’re a current employee of your coworker’s most recent employer. I can guarantee you that whoever you were giving a reference to took it as a professional reference, not a “personal reference” (which is something that most employers don’t want or care about). So yeah, your employer can absolutely take an interest in what you said; you were representing them, whether you intended to be or not.

That said, you could could certainly explain that you didn’t keep a copy of the letter you wrote and ask if they have concerns about you having provided it.

5. I’ve been promised a promotion for more than a year

I have been working for a well-known department store for 4 years. I started out as a box truck driver 6 hours a week and have moved my way to the sales floor, averaging 35 hours a week, overseeing a small team but without the supervisor title.

I have been awarded employee of the month in several departments. On several different occasions, I have been approached by several supervisors who encourage me to apply for open supervisor positions. But I have been overlooked twice for two other employees who no longer work there and who had a suspect work ethic along with attendance and reliability issues. I am constantly revered for my work ethic and my ability to get things done, yet when I apply for any supervisor position it goes nowhere and I’m given no feedback as to what I might be doing wrong. In fact, I am constantly told I’m going to be prepped for these positions.

Over a year has passed now and still I’m being prepped and complimented. I believe its the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” theory that has kept me from advancing. What is there left to do?

Ask for a specific timeline for advancing. Say something like this: “As you know, I’m very interested in moving into a supervisor role. I think my work doing X and Y demonstrates that I’ll excel at it. I’ve been told previously that I’m being prepped for this job, but it’s been over a year since I was first told that. I’d like to get a better idea of what the likely timeline is for being ready to move into the next open supervisor role.” You should also ask if there are specific things you need to work on to make that happen. If you can’t get a direct answer, that’s a sign that you might need to go somewhere else to move up — but I’d try asking directly first.

{ 258 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    Why would the fee come out of your pay? Your employer signed this contract so the fee shouldn’t be a surprise. This is how temp agencies work.

    Also I would not be surprised if there is a clause that they can not hire you for x amount of time so this type of situation doesn’t happen.

    1. Josh S*

      Not like they’re withholding it from his paycheck–they’re just able to pay less. If I have $50k budgeted for a position, and an agency is taking 25%, then the employee can have a max salary of $37.5k. If I cut the Agency out, I can give the employee more money.

      Depending how (un)scrupulous the employer is, they could give the Employee $45k and ‘everyone’ wins (except the Agency, who provided me the service of connecting me with talent in the first place).

      1. Kate*

        She says “naturally it would come out” so I’m not sure that is the scenario you listed. At first I thought that was what s/he meant but I’m not 100% sure.

        Did they say they just couldn’t pay you more if they had to pay the fee, you are assuming that, or did they want you to literally pay that?

        1. PEBCAK*

          Well, seeing that she says the temp agency wants “ten figures,” I think maybe her boss isn’t giving her the whole truth, here.

            1. MT*

              Not the OP, but work extensivly with temp agencies. We do our trial period for new hires through a temp agency. We pay a $1 an hour premium over our starting wage, employee gets full new hire pay, and the temp company gets the $1 premium per hour. If we hire them in, we pay the temp company what their premium would have been for a full year. The premium rate we get a break on since we have soo many temps at any time, 20+. I can see a yearly premium being over 10k easily.

              1. Koko*

                10 figures would be $1,000,000 – ten digits. That’s why people frequently speaking of a “6-figure income” – one over $100,000.

                1. MT*

                  I read it as 10k. I am an engineer who works with people who are operations. I’ve learned when reading emails I have to make a lot of assumptions and not whats in the emails.

                2. KerryOwl*

                  @The Real Ash, I disagree. Six figures means it’s in the millions. Five figures is in the hundred-thousands.

                  I think the OP just misspoke, I wish people would stop harping on it.

                3. Koko*

                  The Real Ash, if you Google “6-figure income” you’ll see it’s the $100K-$999K band. The number doesn’t have to be round or consist of even a single zero.

              2. LQ*

                Over 10K sure but not over 1,000,000,000 which is 10 figures….

                No temp agency in the world charges that.

                And 10K seems somewhat reasonable.

          1. Jamie*

            Even if it includes the cents that’s still 10 mil. So I’m thinking typo. :)

            Or they meant in the tens of thousands.

            1. Jamie*

              Agency avergae is 34-36% – lower if negotiated, and usually lower (or zero) for volumn entry level.

          2. ella*

            I was also confused by this. Isn’t ten figures a billion dollars? Maybe the temp agency is looking to retire and buy a boat. Many boats.

        2. LeeGee44*

          There are employers that will tell you that they will deduct the fee from your salary. To me it’s worth the employer paying the fee. You have someone all ready trained and you’re happy with their performance.

          It’s worth the cost. You can interview and hire someone and they do not work out … than you are going through the hiring process all over again.

          He should look at the amount of money he makes hourly (as the manager); than look at how much time he will invest in the job search. Plus advertising the position; and the hourly rate of each individual that participate as part of the interview committee.

          The employers are not supposed to know what the temp makes … but the agencies normally tack on an additional 60% on top of the employee’s hourly rate.

      2. Chinook*

        Keep in mind that part of that agency fee covers payroll insurance. If the OP is going to be hired directly, is it as an employee (which means other costs above her take home pay) or as an independent contractor (which means she would have to cover payroll taxes, business insurance, WCB costs and anything else required of onsite vendors). I have just gone through this and was able to verify that I had been there as a temp long enough to have their fee waived, but I did have to set myself up as a sole ownership business and am sending in my invoices. I also have to make sure I save about half of my pay so I can pay my taxes next year since they are not being collected by my employer/vendor.

      3. Rat Racer*

        Do temp agencies charge X% of someone’s salary into perpetuity, or is it a 1-time lump sum?

        If the latter, why would an employee’s salary be offered at a lower rate, unless the company is amortizing that expense over multiple years.

        The former scenario – Temp agency gets 10% of employee’s salary for the duration of their employment – sounds equally unlikely, but I don’t have any experience with temp agencies. Can someone enlighten me?

        1. VictoriaHR*

          It’s a one-time lump sum, typically. The fee to an agency is one of the costs of doing business with an agency, instead of recruiting and hiring the employee themselves. If the company is telling the employee that the money will come out of her pay, or that she’s going to be paid less than she would otherwise, then the company sucks.

          1. Joline*

            I think the max I’ve seen it is twice. Usually with more senior type staff. That there’s an extra retention amount. So one lump-sum upon hiring and another after they’re there for a year.

            1. LeeGee44*

              it’s 60% of the hourly rate of the temp is the standard. Even more if it’s extremely specialized and technical.

    2. Vicki*

      There’s also something wrong with the letter phrasing: “they want something like 10 figures if I’m placed permanently.”

      $100,000 annually is a 6 figure salary. Nobody asks (or gets) “10 figures” for a permanent placement.

  2. OP*

    On #4. I agree with you that the reference was professional. I was using “personal” in the context that I was not providing the reference on behalf of my employer. I did contact our union rep who agreed that the request was totally out of line.

    1. r*

      Some employers have procedures about how references are handled. Maybe your employer does, maybe it doesn’t, but the request to see a reference letter that will be imputed to the employer doesn’t seem “totally out of line” to me.

    2. LBK*

      But if the reference included information about how this person operated as an employee, that’s speaking on behalf of your employer, whether you intended to or not. If you’re the only person at the company providing information about your friend’s time there, you’re serving as their professional reference for that period of employment. Why else would they even ask for your opinion?

      1. AVP*

        I would have to agree – maybe the OP’s friend did something awful at the school (or was just very mediocre) and the OP isn’t privy to that knowledge – but the new potential employer is using OP as the only reference from that phase as her employer? If I were the principal I would be peeved by that, because it looks like she’s leaving with a decent reference even if she’s not.

        1. kac*

          I think in this case the new employer should do their due-diligence and call the old school! As Alison has said many times, new employers can call your old employers, whether you list them as a reference or not.

          1. AVP*

            Oh totally – I would definitely call the old principal in this situation to see what I was missing! Apparently some hiring managers don’t realize you can do that though.

            1. Vv*

              They probably did – how else would her employer know that the OP has provided a reference

        2. azvlr*

          The flip side of this is if the old employee was black-balled for some reason (“At a school?!” you ask, incredulously.) they may be compiling information against the current employee. I have seen this happen where people are supportive to someone who is leaving and are subsequently viewed through the same lens as the old employee. Suddenly the good assignments don’t seem to come their way anymore.
          So, ultimately you have to ask yourself if it worth making a stink about this.

          1. LeeGee44*

            I know in the university setting when salary employees leave (not teaching faculty) that there is block that can box on the termination paperwork (just terminating the person in the position in order to open it up … not the firing type of form) …. that can be checked or “X’d” that cleared states DO NOT REHIRE. You just check that little block off.

            I have only seen that box checked once in my life time. Someone went on vacation when their boss was out on emergency leave (nearly died). She was asked to cancel until her boss returned … she went anyway.

        3. Rachel*

          Why would you be peeved? Unless the employee did something illegal that could cause harm, why aren’t you just happy the person isn’t your employee anymore? I know plenty of mediocre employees who were given glowing references by supervisors just so they could get rid of them.

    3. anon in tejas*

      my thoughts are if the reference is on company letterhead, then they have the right to request it– because it has the administration’s names, etc on it. if it doesn’t then, it is truly a personal reference.

      1. Anna*

        All of this is moot since there’s a union involved and the union will dictate how this goes moving forward.

        1. Muriel Heslop*

          Union involvement depends on the state. In some states, like Texas, teachers don’t have unions that operate as such. They have no bargaining power aside from what they have as individuals.

        2. Rachel*

          This sounds like classic charter school behavior, and there aren’t unions at charters. They will fire teachers for anything. I know a charter that fired all but two teachers in their building. (The remaining two represented a certain race–the same as the administration.) I read of another teacher who was fired by a charter with no reason given. However, he had just accidentally witnessed the administration alter answers on a standardized test. A teacher has no rights in a charter school.

          1. Rachel*

            I just saw the OP’s comment about the union rep. Is this a state that’s gone to standardized teacher evaluations?

            To all: Be aware that a significant number of teachers are not unionized. They are at will employees.

      2. Parfait*

        Who even has letterhead anymore? I haven’t used it in any job in about 15 years. It’s all email.

    4. Rachel*

      Perhaps you can tell the director/principal that you have chosen not to write a letter, but tell your former colleague that districts can call her directly. Most teaching applications I see just require contact info, and a letter can be uploaded optionally.

  3. periwinkle*

    #1 Detour around the temp agency

    Your boss should refer to the contract between their company and the agency. It should lay out the process for a temp-to-perm conversion, stating how long the agency “owns” you after placement. Usually there’s a period of time during which the employer has to pay the placement fee, but if you’re still there after that time they can hire you without a fee. That depends on how the contract is worded, of course.

    35% is not at all outrageous or atypical a cut for your agency to take. The ones I’ve worked through and the one I actually worked for all took 40%. Your boss’s company is paying extra for the convenience of bringing in an employee they can dismiss at will. The company also is not dealing with your payroll administration since the temp agency processes payroll and handles your taxes/SS/etc. Permanent employees usually cost more than their straight salary/wages to the department’s budget – benefits aren’t free, you know.

    Anyway, if you and your boss collaborate to violate the terms of a legally-binding contract, well, just don’t. Yes, your boss’s company can get in legal trouble.

    Also, I found this statement to be very wrong: “Naturally, this’ll be coming out of my pay.” NO! That’s not natural. This company would in essence be requiring you to pay *them* if they docked your salary to cover the cost of hiring you away from the temp agency. I mean, WTF? The *employer* pays that as the cost of doing business with the temp agency. If this company wants you to cover that cost if they decide against violating their legal contract with the temp agency, they might not be quite as great as you think.

    1. In progress*

      Yeah- with them docking your pay and willingness to commit fraud you’re getting a strong early warning signal.

    2. rando*

      Yes, this last paragraph. Is this employer really deciding between knowingly violating its contract or docking your pay?

      Also, OP needs to google “tortious interference” if in the United States. The temp agency likely has a cause of action against both OP and the company if they decided to purposefully violate the contract. (This could depend on what state OP is in.)

    3. Another Emily*

      Temp OP, what led you to believe that “naturally” the fee will be coming out of your pay? Did your boss tell you this? Because your boss is openly considering violating a contract that she signed in order to avoid paying money she agreed to pay. Your boss is completely willing to screw over the temp agency, so it’s quite possible she’s willing to screw you over too.

      You like your boss and things have been going great, but I think your boss has dubious and shady practices* and it’s starting to rub off on you. I think you should avoid working here because the more you work at this place, the more these sketchy dealings will seem normal and okay to you.

      * I know we were only told about one dubious practice, but I think shady business dealings are like mice: there is never just one.

      1. MW77*

        +1 – I like the analogy of shady business dealing being like mice. This is just the first sign she’s ok with less than ethical behavior.

      2. Anna*

        I think there are two things that indicate dubious practices. There’s the desire to cheat the temp agency out of their fee and the “naturally it will come out of my pay” thing. That, to me, sounds like something the OP has been told. Possibly by a shady boss to get the OP on her side about cheating the temp agency.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      What the OP’s boss is proposing is stealing. It is morally wrong and it’s legally wrong and it is theft.

      We temp to perm all the time and I agree that the lump sum fees that agencies charge to hire somebody before the time is up are daunting . We virtually always use the alternative method of a temp working with us the contracted number of hours that make a hiring fee free. We agree to 480 hours, which is 3 months-ish of full time work.

      What happens if you go ahead anyway? Well, you are working for a boss who is willing to cheat people and break legal agreements and he’s hired somebody who is willing to cheat people and break legal agreements.

      I doubt they’d sue you but you’d both likely end up with legal letters. And temp agencies talk so, you could both could end up blackballed.

      Temp agencies do NOT take anything out of your pay. Your employer agrees to pay $X hour. You agree to work for $Y hour. And both of you agreed to all of this, in writing, up front .

      1. Jamie*

        Right. Although as Josh mentioned above it could factor in what they are able to offer.

        A hundred years ago an employer paid 13k+ to hire me from the temp agency – it’s certainly better than risking getting sued. Besides, the company isn’t the only one who signed a contract with the agency – temps typically sign when they go on the books. The OP risks being in violation of her own contract.

        This is no different than of someone were to ask how to get out of paying any vendor who kept up their end of the bargain. This is beyond shady.

        There are different deals which can be cut when you use huge amounts of temps, like in manufacturing when your paying the agencies upwards of a million a year they work with you on the big to hire fees – but there’s no incentive to do that if they use temps sporadically.

        1. Cat*

          I might affect it, but I think a company would be awfully short sighted not to figure out how to budget the additional in that kind of case. You’re not going to attract and retain good people like that; and you probably shouldn’t be hiring from a temp agency if you’re that close to the line financially.

    5. meg*

      Someone explained it up in other comments. Money that the employer is willing to pay for the employee but goes to someone else is at least partially coming out of the employee’s pay. The same is true about benefits (though sometimes with tax breaks something that costs $1 to the employer is worth $2 to the employee so it’s a win-win situation).

      It’s similar to a sales tax – just because from an accounting perspective retailers pay it, it doesn’t mean consumers don’t feel it.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Money that the employer is willing to pay for the employee but goes to someone else is at least partially coming out of the employee’s pay.

        Employers who look at this way are at best an amateur act. The temporary agency is paid for their service of finding and managing the temp worker and also coughing up a new temp worker quickly when original temp worker doesn’t work out.

        If you have a $15 an hour job and can only afford to pay $15 an hour for it, then find your own employee.

        How hard is that? It’s this hard: you put an ad up, you take a lot of resumes, you make a lot of calls, you interview a lot of people, you hire one, it works out or it doesn’t and if it doesn’t start all over again.

        If you don’t want to do that, call a temp agency. You are paying them for that work.

        Are you going to charge a new direct hire for your overhead in hiring them?

        God. I get so irritated with people who want to run a business and then don’t want to take the responsibility for running it.

        (not at the poster I am responding to, at the world in general. Look guilty if you know I am talking about you.)

        1. AVP*

          I might print out that last part and laminate it and anonymously staple it to the owner of my company’s forehead.

        2. meg*

          I hope it didn’t sound like I think they are correct to skirt the temp agency. It’s unethical and probably goes against the contract the employer signed with the agency. I agree that the cost of the temp agency should have been factored in. But that still means that money that goes to the agency could have gone to the employee instead. It’s why some people get paid under the table. Not saying it’s right, I just want to acknowledge that’s the case.

          1. the gold digger*

            But why would they pay the employee any more than they needed? I am a little cynical about this because of my current situation, where the CEO’s strategy is to pay as little as possible to get people and he can’t understand why there is so much turnover. But just because someone wouldn’t be paying the fee does not mean the ER would give that money to the EE.

          2. Sadsack*

            Wouldn’t the amount they are paying the temp agency instead be the amount it costs the company in benefits and the cost of managing the employee if they didn’t use a temp agency and did the work of hiring and managing themselves? The money would not just go to the employee if the temp agency was not in the picture.

    6. GrumpyBoss*

      In addition, it’s not just the agency you are screwing over. You had a recruiter who helped place you. A recruiter was also responsible for landing your company as a client. These guys make a huge part of their income from commission. So picture the human faces you are trying to rob here – and yes, what you are proposing is robbing them.

      The recruiter who placed you – how many calls did she have to make on your behalf and to how many companies? I promise that a lot went on behind the scenes you didn’t see.

      The recruiter who owns your company’s account has had to vet so many candidates before they sent you over. He probably spent countless hours talking to people who are underqualified, lie on their resumes, poor interview polish, and any number of reasons why they are bad fits. When you came along, he called your now boss and set the table for why you were the perfect fit. He worked with your recruiter to prep you for your interview, fed you hints on what was asked in the past. After your interview, he was back on the phone with your boss closing the deal and continuing to sell you as a candidate.

      These are the people you are hurting.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        All of this. I will also add that if you decide this job isn’t for you and want to start searching again, forget ever working with this recruiter (and as someone mentioned above, possibly with recruiters from a lot of other agencies). I’ve gotten several jobs through temp-to-perm arrangements and developed relationships with a couple of great recruiters, who to this day I’m still in touch with and can call if I want to start exploring other opportunities – and they’ll try really hard to place me because I’ve done really well where they placed me in the past. Obviously I don’t know what the OP’s relationship with the recruiter was, but in my experience, it’s worth maintaining relationships with the good ones.

    7. AndersonDarling*

      Not that I’d advocate doing so, but I am thinking of this from the perspective of a no-compete contract. I’ve worked with folks who skirted their no-compete contracts by quitting, being unemployed, then their new company would officially hire them. They time to be unemployed ranged from 2 weeks to a month.
      I was asked to do this when applying for a clerical position a LONG time ago. I didn’t have a non-compete contract, but 95% of my company did and Prospective Employer didn’t want to take any chances. They suggested that if I quit for 2 weeks, they would hire me. I didn’t want to take the risk.
      I don’t think the temp agency owns you forever. If you ended up working somewhere else for a year then came back to this company and took a position, I don’t think the temp agency has a right to the finders fee. There should be something in your original contract or employee handbook with the temp agency that outlines how long the temp agency has rights to (for a lack of a better term) your use.
      It’s a tough place to be in. I know small organizations can’t pay some of the large finders fees, but that is how the temp agencies generate revenue. It’s too bad something couldn’t have been worked out.

  4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    #1: “they want something like 10 figures if I’m placed permanently”

    …Is this hyperbole, a typo, or do I just really not understand how temp agencies work? 10 figures = a billion dollars, right?

    1. Josh S*

      Yeah, there’s something lost in the telling here. That caught my eye too. Maybe he means $10k for the Part Time role? I dunno.

    2. Poohbear McGriddles*

      I keep picturing Dr. Evil saying “One Billion Dollars”. LOL

      Maybe the OP meant 10%.

      1. Jaimie*

        I think she means the amount would be in the tens of thousands.

        Periwinkle has explained the situation really well. I would say that they should find a way to negotiate a settlement with the agency. This isn’t at all an unusual situation– oftentimes people will sign these contracts and not read them carefully. What they don’t realize is that unless the situation starts out as temp-to-perm, the agency will have structured the deal in a way where their own revenue is protected. Temps often believe that taking temporary assignments is a good way to find permanent positions, but in reality it’s better for the agency if they stay as temps, and therefore the placement fees for permanent work are high.

        Agencies are used to dealing with this situation, believe me. The employer in this situation isn’t on the high ground, but they aren’t uber-shady, either. This kind of “buyer’s remorse” is really common.

        You can make them a deal, you just need to find the middle ground. I would suggest that they all get on the phone and figure out what will work. She can continue to work thru the agency for some specified period of time and then her employer can give them a more reasonable payment. The employer can agree to give the agency exclusivity on the next x number of temps they need, etc. Staffing agencies are deal makers by nature, they’ll come up with something.

  5. Adam*

    #1 If the company hired you on the temp agency’s fee would come out of your salary? Did I read that right? That makes no sense.

    1. Stephanie*

      I wonder if the offered salary would be lower since the company would have to pay a placement fee? I’ve never worked temp-to-perm, so no clue. I’m sure it’d vary company to company.

      A friend did a fellowship where the fellowship organization placed fellows at a nonprofit for a year. The fellowship org had a placement fee of $5k. The nonprofit gave her a $5k bump in addition to a raise after she decided to stay on past the year (since no placement fee and presumably for good performance).

      1. De (germany)*

        “I wonder if the offered salary would be lower since the company would have to pay a placement fee?”

        Yeah, I suppose that’s what they mean. They have to budget in the placement fee and that might result in them saying they aren’t able to offer the OP as much in salary as they could otherwise. I don’t like that line of reasoning – if they don’t hire the OP they will also have to spend money on searching for another employee, pay the usual temp agency fee, and so on. All things factored in, that fee probably doesn’t warrant a big pay cut.

      2. chewbecca*

        That’s how it worked when I got hired at my current job. While I was a temp-to-hire, I got paid $X. When they hired me on, they bumped my pay to $Y since they weren’t paying a fee to the temp agency anymore. I didn’t have a problem with it. It meant I got a raise after 3 months.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Temp agencies don’t take anything from employees. This is a sleazy boss screwing with the OPs perception of what he’s proposing. Basically, he’s telling the OP that if the temp agency charges him, he’ll take it from the employee.

      Class act.

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Totally agree. If I were working for someone who even proposed this it would be a big red flag and I’d start looking elsewhere because I can’t even imagine how many more things like this would surface over time. No thanks.

      2. Chinook*

        I agree I I have worked with many temp agencies and they never charged me a dime and the employer never docked my pay upon hiring. But, from the employer’s perspective, I can see how they think they are paying you $30 but you actual only get $20, so it is like the agency is getting a cut. But, they aren’t – they are being paid a fee of $10 to cover payroll taxes, the expenses to cover fidning a5 vetting you and the profit every business has a right to earn if run properly. The fee for buying out your contract is the reward for finding a successful candidate and to compensate for losing you as as the agency’s employee. This is all standard business practice and, in my mind, fair to all.

      3. Dang*

        Yeah, and when it all comes crashing down, the op can’t temp through that agency anymore. Tread carefully OP. I’d tell the agency what’s going on. Thry signed a contact.. My old temp agency had the contract on every time sheet, signed by both employee and manager.

      4. fposte*

        The phrase that comes to mind for the boss’s actions on this is “forced teaming.” It’s all “you and me against that awful temp agency that wants to screw both of us.”

        1. Celeste*

          Yes indeed, this is pure manipulation, OP. My only advice to you is, do not learn how to be a willing victim. It is not a skill you need in life.

  6. Brett*

    #4 While this doesn’t prevent the request for the letter, if the district is a public agency and they take action against you for what you wrote in the letter, you can actually claim first amendment protection.
    (You cannot do this at all with a public school.)

      1. Stephanie*

        Policies like these exist? What’s the rationale?

        (No snark, genuinely curious.)

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          I once worked for a bank that had a policy like this. You were prohibited from written referrals, and if you were called as a reference, you were supposed to direct it to HR.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Because you’re representing the employer when you give a reference, and they want to (a) ensure you’re well positioned to given an accurate reference and (b) trained not to say anything that risks getting them into legal trouble (which doesn’t mean not saying anything negative, but does mean not saying anything that actually could have legal ramifications — because it’s false, or about a protected class, or whatever).

          1. PEBCAK*

            I’ve actually been told it goes the other way, too…they don’t want you saying anything too positive about someone they’ve let go, as it might be used to show wrongful dismissal. I have no idea if that’s actually possible, or just paranoia, but that’s how the policy has been explained to me at more than one place I’ve worked.

            1. neverjaunty*

              This is true. If an employee sues for racial discrimination, say, and the employer claims it was actually because of performance issues, it is going to be pretty embarrassing for the employer if a manager gave the employee a reference praising their diligence.

          2. Jessa*

            Not to mention, if you’re not their supervisor how do you know that management didn’t have problems with them? They could have appeared to be a great employee on the surface but consistently didn’t do what their manager wanted. Did you specifically say in the letter you were not their supervisor but were their friend (full disclosure of potential bias in the recommendation?)

            1. GrumpyBoss*

              That’s why I find most recommendations worthless. They almost always come from a peer. If it’s a supervisor, it was a supervisor from long ago and doesn’t carry much weight.

              1. Anna*

                This is that catch-22 situation, though. Peers are less likely to follow the rule of directing to HR, but the people you worked for are going to be more honest about your performance. And possibly more uptight about directing to HR (I’ve had this happen).

          3. John*

            In my experience, policies regarding reference letters applied to management. In public education, it’s hard to imagine a policy regarding professional references for colleagues.

        3. Elizabeth*

          My employer has it, and in some ways I’m grateful for it. While it means I can’t be a reference for the truly awesome young guy I work with who deserves all the accolades in the world, it also means I don’t have to be a reference for the former boss who has boundary issues, or the (now-deceased) former colleague who was walked out the door by security.

          Our HR department has a standard format for reference checks, and it does include more than just the dates of employment, such as eligibility for re-hire if the employee isn’t currently working for us and whether or not there is any pending or current disciplinary action.

      2. Brett*

        A policy like that would be a toss up, and it would probably depend a lot on the intent of the employee who wrote the letter.

        We had a media policy that disallowed employees from talking to the media while representing local government, and it was thrown out in court as a first amendment violation. As public employees, we had a right to express our opinions while simultaneously representing our local government.

        Instead, we implement a policy specifying that employees had to follow certain procedures when talking to the media. But there could not be a blanket ban against them talking to the media.

      3. Brett*

        Just to be clear…
        I am saying that if the employee is being punished specifically for the content of the letter, as opposed to act of writing the letter, that would be a first amendment issue.

        If they had simply said, “You wrote a letter of reference without authorization, so you contract is being cancelled,” then that is an insubordination/policy violation issue.

        If, instead, they say, “You wrote a letter of reference that disagrees with the reference we would have provided for the employee, so your contract is being terminated,” now you are stepping into first amendment areas (which only matters because the employer is a government agency).

        You can regulate how a merit public employee expresses speech, but regulating what speech they express is much trickier. (And patronage employees have no protection at all too. But teachers are rarely patronage employees. A superintendent sometimes is a patronage employee and would not have the same protections.)

    1. ella*

      I think you confused your wording here a little bit? You say she can claim first amendment protection if the district is a public agency but not if she works for a public school?

      And anyway, the first amendment only explicitly applies to the federal government. Whether it’s possible for state or municipal governments to violate your first amendment right is actually (apparently) a question of legal debate. A private school could make whatever rules they want (about reference-giving, I mean; not to say that private schools don’t have to follow laws, just that the first amendment doesn’t apply).

      1. Sarabeth*

        That legal debate is actually pretty well settled at this point. See the first paragraph here:
        It’s possible, of course, that the Supreme Court could reopen the question at some point. However, that’s true of most constitutional interpretation, and this is a pretty established precedent by now. There are cranks out there arguing otherwise, but those arguments do not get taken seriously within federal courts.

      2. bill of rights*

        Uh, no, the fourteenth amendment extended these protections to state and, by virtue of being subdivisions, local governments, as well.

    2. Brett*

      So, what I was leading to with all of this….
      (And the union rep will know better.)
      Refusing or failing to provide the letter could get the OP into more trouble than just providing the letter. The speech expressed in the letter might be protected (and apparently the district wants to examine what was written). Refusing to provide the letter or not following procedures in providing the letter is not protected. Lawyers help with problems like this, and the union probably has access to those.

    3. Joey*

      Nope. You do have a right to the speech, but you do not have a right to remain employed. There are only limited circumstances where you have speech protections as a public employee.
      Think about it. Do you think you could get away with say cussing out a government client under the guise of free speech?

      1. Brett*

        You actually have less first amendment protection from the government as a government employee.
        But… when you are _not_ on the job, you have protection from your employer that other employees do not have. Your scenario, cussing out a client, has things involved other than just free speech. What makes this one odd, is that the district wants to see the letter first, rather than just taking action because the letter was written.

      2. Brett*

        Or to put this differently, I could go on tv right now and make comments opposing the policies of my bosses and saying why I think they are poor managers. And, as long as I followed the procedure for media appearances, my right to do that would be protected.
        Can you do that about your private sector manager?

  7. In progress*

    Re: #1- if they’re willing to do it to others they’ll usually treat you the same way eventually.

  8. Stephanie*

    #1: I’m a bit confused about the “10 figures” part. Surely the agency doesn’t want $10,000,000 to $99,999,999 as a placement fee.

    Alison makes a good point about the employer’s integrity. If they’re willing to skirt this contract, what else are they willing to skirt? Plus, if the company’s hiring temps, seems like they’d budget for the placement fee, right?

    #2: It took me a long time to stop reading into interviews. And it was tough (and I still struggle with it periodically, especially if it’s something I really want). What’s harder now is dealing with the family and friends who are like “OMG, how did it go?” followed with “Oooh, they said they liked your previous work/asked a lot of follow ups/talked about the sunrise. That’s a good sign!”

    1. Stephanie*

      *$1,000,000,000 to $9,999,999,999.

      I’m going to blame my lack of basic counting skills on being dehydrated.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Eh, the fact that even at a mere 8-figures that number still looks ridiculous actually does well to prove your point that OP is definitely confused about the placement fee/figures thing :)

          1. fposte*

            I’m generally on the bandwagon with you on phrase-picking, but I think the OP may be repeating the boss’s words here and may not understand that actual fee is not a huge amount in business terms.

            1. Jaimie*

              Maybe. But then just tell her that she should go and ask more questions to better understand the situation. It’s unhelpful to have eleventy-gazillion people suggest that she meant a number in the millions. Which clearly she didn’t.

              1. Bash*

                Most people comment at/around the same time so by the time they realize the comments have piled on, it’s too late.

                It’s just getting really old having these self-appointed comment moderators chastise people on here now.

                1. Jaimie*

                  Except that the comment threads are 8-ish hours apart. And in the general, the idea is to give advice, not make someone feel badly. Whether it’s one person, or more than one.

          2. A Dispatcher*

            I was actually trying to mostly make Stephanie feel better about *her* typo by making light of it not chastise the OP. Apologies to the OP if it came across that way.

            1. Windchime*

              Many of us don’t read the entire thread of comments before commenting, so it can look like piling in when in reality it’s just a bunch of people making similar comments without having read everyone elses’ comments.

  9. Scott*

    #2: An interviewer once asked me, “Here’s my last question – and it’s the toughest one: Are you a Tigers fan?”

    We shot the breeze for several minutes.

    At that point, I was quite sure I got the job – and I did!

    1. Stephanie*

      Oh God. I’d flub that one as I’m not much of a sports person. Upon figuring out I’m from the Dallas area, a couple of interviewers have asked if I’m a Cowboys fan. I just end up making some awkward joke as this is pretty much how football seems to me;

    2. anon attorney*

      He he! At my interview for my training contract (articles, basically) we ended up chatting about the draw for a soccer cup competition that had been made earlier that day, and the interview and I gently scorned each other for our love of rival teams! Still happily employed by that firm now, several years later…

    3. Anonylicious*

      Ooh, depending on which Tigers they meant, I so would not have gotten that job.

    4. Barchbo*

      I am pretty sure I clinched my current job when they found out I had been a contestant on Jeopardy. That’s all we talked about in the interview.

    5. Cath in Canada*

      First question in my PhD thesis defense:

      “I see Newcastle United [my team, which this guy knew] are top of the league – think they can hang on and win it?”

      I said “hopefully, this is the only question I get asked today that I don’t know the answer to”

      Hooray for people who go out of their way to help you relax at the beginning of a stressful process!

    6. anon-2*

      I once interviewed in the Triangle / NC area – where Duke, UNC, NC State, etc. basketball ruled. Being from Boston – a manager asked “what basketball team do you follow?”

      I told him = “The Boston Celtics, of course!”

      “No, no no — I mean COLLEGE ball.” Oh. Boston College was not in the ACC at the time – they were in the Big East – so I said “well, Boston College.”

      Manager’s reply = “you’re a damned diplomat, you know that?” with a smile. I said “hey, whatever works, right?”

      Yes I got the job offer.

  10. PizzaSquared*

    I’m probably too self critical, but I have gotten job offers several times after I thought I totally bombed an interview. In fact I got one this week, after what I thought was the worst interview performance of my life. So I personally try to put absolutely no weight into how I think an interview went (“try” being the key word; I was still pretty bummed when I thought I failed the recent one).

    1. Jen RO*

      I recently recommended an acquaintance for a job in my company. She felt the interview went so-and-so, definitely not good. She got an offer last week.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Yeah, at this stage I have practically given up on trying to predict anything. I’ve had interviews go “great” and not get the job, I’ve had interviews where I thought I sucked and got an offer.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          There are two general approaches that I take when it comes to thinking about my interview performance.

          1) “That interview didn’t go as well as I would have liked because reasons (e.g. I didn’t like my answer to XYZ, my presentation didn’t seem to generate the right kind of questions, I didn’t click with the department).”

          And then I review further to determine where I can improve the next time.

          2. “That interview went very well because reasons (e.g. I had good rapport with everyone I met, I answered questions fully and completely, my presentation was well-received based on comments and questions I got).” In other words, I was satisfied that I presented myself and my qualifications/interest as well as I possibly could have.

          Note that both of these scenarios happened to me in the last 6 weeks. In neither case did I get the offer, which says to me that you should attempt to present yourself authentically and effectively and be take satisfaction from that rather than “did they like me.”

          1. Sharm*

            Well said, and I agree with this. I’ve learned all I can do is do the best I can; nothing is guaranteed because I don’t know who else is interviewing. I’ve felt satisfied the last few times I’ve interviewed; I felt I was articulate, calm, presented myself well, and had a good rapport with the interviewers. That’s really the best I can hope for, at least in terms of what’s in my control.

  11. Nina*

    #3: I can understand the OP’s aggravation. Yes, it’s legal, but it still sucks if you were thinking of taking some time off during that period. At least you can talk to him if you really need a few days off while your coworker’s away.

    1. Artemesia*

      If you really need some time off during this period, it might be a good time to start interviewing and let the boss know when you give your two weeks notice the second week of the maternity leave that his policy was what prompted you to rethink your job there.

      1. Nina*

        That feels like jumping the gun, though. For all we know, the OP is loves their job with the exception of this policy. It’s not a permanent fixture, just an annoying one.

        But this feels like inviting trouble; even if you can’t take vacation during that time, what if you get sick, or worst, a bug sweeps through the office?

  12. A Dispatcher*

    #1 – Everyone has already brought up great points about the possible legal ramifications, the ethical issues and the fact that this is not a signal of a good boss/working environment, but don’t forget how this can affect you long term as well. I don’t know how long you’ve been with the temp agency, but after this stunt they absolutely can never be put on your resume, and if anyone does find out you worked there, can you imagine the scathing reference you will receive? What if someone from the agency ends up at a prospective employer?

    You have to remember our actions don’t occur in a vacuum. They can and often do have long-term consequences that may never have even occurred to us until it’s too late.

    1. Jessa*

      Not to mention, let’s say you leave the company and want to go back to the temp agency, or want to pick up part time hours to get more money, you’re blacklisted then. And BTW temp agencies talk to each other. You work for Kelly for instance and those people know the people over at local joint that also sends workers to big factory or office complex jobs.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’m amazed at how small the temp agency world is, even in a large city and even with the big agencies. The recruiters definitely talk with each other!

  13. Nameless*

    As someone who has accepted similarly dodgy employment situations just to have a job and is still smarting from it, I can’t emphasize strongly enough what some commenters have said about taking this as a red flag and not as an opportunity. Your boss is willing to screw people over to have things his way; please remember that you are people too.

    1. Also Nameless*

      Burned by this, too. I was 19 and didn’t really understand what was going on, but knew enough to know it wasn’t right and went along with it anyway and absolutely learned my lesson. The boss was feeding me a line about how the temp company was trying cheat him and how we were just going to “work around it” to bring me on full time. I learned over the next 9 months how he would “work around” all kinds of things.
      This job is not worth your integrity.

    2. Anon Accountant*

      I’d take it so far as to say if he’s willing to screw people over so cavalierly the OP could be the next 1 getting screwed over in some way after this hiring goes thru. This goes against many temp agency contracts structure.

      Nameless- I wish the same thing. Interviews with my former employer had raised more red flags than a red flag factory ever could have raised. I probably bring this up too much but when they show their true colors believe them. The boss was shady and the way he conducted business was very shady.

      1. Mallory*

        It already sounds as if the boss is plotting a double screwing (as it were): the temp agency out of its fee and the OP out of a portion of her salary.

  14. EAA*

    #1 I assumed ten figures meant $10,000. I’m curious about the “demanded that I come in less than a few times a week”. Is this a mistake and meant come in more (for no more $) or is this an hourly position and OP’s wage and the fee to agency is dependent upon the hours worked? I have to agree that this whole thing stinks. It just seems to me that the only thing the employer wants is to pay as little as possible. I really would look for a new job.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, this letter was hard to understand in some places. It needs to be edited to make it more clear.

  15. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – OK, let’s be real. Do you REALLY think when you mysteriously quit right after the company called off negotiations is something they’re not going to look into. I’m sure people try this all the time, and it’s going to be pretty obvious when you guys try to pull it off.

    Come on. if you’re going to try to breach a contract, at least be smart about it. Oy.

    Oh, by the way – you and the new boss probably signed a contract that you wouldn’t do this, so you’re just as liable for any legal issues down the road.

    I really, really, REALLY wouldn’t do this.

    1. Sunflower*

      This exactly. I would read the contract. I don’t recruit/have never temped but I wonder if it’s possible there’s a clause in there that if you quit and then are hired at the company within 6 months/year of the quit date then the company still owes the agency fee. I’m sure this stuff happens with temp agencies more often than not and I’m sure they’ve found a way to protect them self

      1. linguaignota*

        Yep. I have been on various sides of this equation in similar circumstances (once as a temp myself, several times as the lawyer negotiating the agreement at the beginning of the relationship), and the clause you describe is pretty common. It is an attempt to avoid the exact scenario the OP is describing. Either way, the boss’s company will still owe the temp agency the placement fee.

  16. John*

    #1 — to amplify AAM’s advice, early in my career, I went along with a situation like this, and the employer in question ultimately stopping paying me and other employees…for two months I was living on scraps and returning Xmas presents to make ends meet. Never recovered that two months’ salary. Big red flag.

    1. Nameless*

      Same here! It wasn’t a temp thing in my case, it was a dodgy misclassification issue, but I ended up being screwed over massively and the fact that my employer wanted to start things out by screwing the government should have clued me in. In the end, employment is a contract and one of the main things the LW knows about this guy is how lightly he treats contracts. Red flag city, basically.

  17. Nanani*

    10 figures… in Korean Won? Indonesian Rupiah? If it’s dollars, somebody is definitely lying. o.O
    (and it’s probably the shady contract-dodging boss)

  18. Allison*

    Did I see a Pirates of the Caribbean reference in letter #4? Or was that just a coincidence?

    1. Madstuart*

      It would have been “disinclined to acquiesce to their request” if it were a knowing reference, I think. (Not to derail the conversation…)

      1. Scot*

        I think it was intended as a PotC reference and they just for the start of it wrong, personally.

  19. Joey*

    #1. A piece of advice I’ve seen play out over and over

    If your employer is willing to cheat with you its just a matter of time before they cheat on you

  20. Sunflower*

    #1- I would take a look around your current office. When a company is trying to cheat someone out of money owed, it’s never JUST that someone. If they’re trying to cheat the temp company, it’s likely there are a whole slew of other places they’ve attempted to cheat out too. Besides just the ethical standpoint, these things can get in the way of your ability to do your job.

    I work for a company that fights very hard at nickel and diming people. For example, they will create huge scenarios out of nothing in order to avoid paying a $30 bill. There are several vendors that won’t work with us because of it and it makes my job extremely hard and frustrating. Also, my boss will often try to justify what they do. He’ll present a minor scenario to me, exaggerate it x100, and talk to me like it makes total sense when it’s ridiculous. Don’t let you boss try to tell you that they temp agency is screwing him over or being unfair. Your boss KNEW about all of these percentages/fees when he signed you on. Don’t let him tell you this is the right thing to do!

    1. Mallory*

      I’ve seen bosses like this, too (not my own, thank goodness, but family members’) and I always thought, “Wow — they’re expending, like, $250 worth of energy in order to avoid a $30 charge. Pay the $30 and move on already!”

    2. A Bug!*

      When a company is trying to cheat someone out of money owed, it’s never JUST that someone.

      This is true. And I agree that the “unreasonable fee” thing is a red herring. The term was in the contract that the employer signed, so either the employer didn’t read the contract (red flag on competence); never intended to hire the temp on permanently (red flag on foresight); or always intended to violate that term of the contract (major red flag on ethics).

      And let me point out also that the employer is willing to screw people over who have not only done nothing wrong, but have done everything right. The temp agency, by all indicators, did an excellent job with the placement. After all, the employer wants to hire the OP on permanently!

      If the OP stays on permanently, I hope she keeps her eyes wide open and carefully examines everything, including making sure that her pay is handled properly with all the appropriate deductions and classifications and the like.

  21. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #3

    I believe what the director is saying is that she won’t allow anyone to take a vacation while your coworker is on maternity leave, and that’s reasonable, escpecially in such a small office. She may allow a day or two here and there, but nothing longer than that. And that’s also a message that you and your other coworker should be mindful of that fact that your office is down one person already.

    1. Frustrated*

      I understand your point, but we are part of a larger group. Just broken out by vertical so there COULD be someone to cover if an urgent project came in. We also have a freelancer on hand to cover overflow, but the director is acting as if she will be too backed up to handle. This is months in advance!

    2. Mallory*

      I’ve worked places where there is a permanent annual block on anyone taking vacation during the 2-month-long busy season, so this seems pretty reasonable to me.

    3. Colette*

      It’s reasonable from one perspective, but from another it’s not.

      People have lives outside of work, and I can see it would be problematic if, for example, maternity leave starts June 1 and goes until September 1 – or if it starts November 15 and goes until February 15.

      I agree that it’s reasonable from the business perspective – they’re down one person, and they need all hands on deck – but I’d be pretty annoyed if I couldn’t take vacation all summer, because that’s the easiest time for me to take vacation.

      1. Mallory*

        Yeah, I’d be pretty irritated if it was the whole (or the prime months of) summer. Our block-out time was August – September, so it was still possible to have a good summer vacation.

    4. C Average*

      I think the request isn’t crazy, but the delivery sounds like it was a little off.

      My company offers a six-week sabbatical as a benefit once you’ve been here for 10 years, and most employees who go on sabbatical tack PTO onto the six weeks. And, as in any office, people get pregnant, need surgery, or have other PTO needs that are known in advance. Whenever a manager becomes aware of someone needing to be away from the office for one of these things, there’s a meeting of the overall team to set expectations. There’s usually a speech along the lines of “we’re going to be down a person for x amount of time, so we’ll need all hands on deck, and we may not be able to accommodate all PTO requests during this period.”

      It’s common sense. The work isn’t going away, and there are fewer people around to do the work.

      It sounds like the message was delivered in a pretty tone-deaf way here. The director doesn’t owe it to the team to justify the time off that she’s taking, but it would have been good if she had anyway, even something as simple as “I’m going ahead and taking the trip I’ve had planned since last year, but beyond that I’ll be keeping my PTO to a minimum during Jane’s leave, and I’m asking you to do the same. We’re going to need all hands on deck until Jane returns and we’re fully staffed again.”

      Bottom line: The request isn’t crazy, but it could’ve been made more effectively.

      1. Frustrated*

        I should also note that the person going on maternity leave is entitled to summer Fridays before she goes and is taking a 3 day vacation before she goes as well. Approved before my coworker and I got the choice to put in for vacation time.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Why is it an issue that she’s taking a three-day vacation before maternity leave? Maybe she had something planned for awhile or wants to enjoy a few “me” days before her life becomes filled with diapers, crying, and poor sleep.

          1. Frustrated*

            I don’t have an issue with her taking vacation, just that we were again blocked out of time off without any notice.

            1. fposte*

              You’ve got some notice, though, right? Because the blackout starts in two months or so.

      2. Sharm*

        I like the wording you had here. So much of the time, it’s tone and messaging.

        I totally get if my company is down a person that we’ll have to be more careful about PTO. But a blanket statement that you can’t take any time off period? That will bug me, yeah.

        I went from a place where we never had embargos on vacation time (in a very busy office where we worked a LOT) to a place where only one person got to take the day after Thanksgiving off each year. It frustrated the heck outta me, especially since I had ZERO WORK TO DO at that job. It still bugs me. My new place is better about it, but still not as good as the first. Despite the busy workloads of my first employer, we could manage having several people out at once. I am willing to work hard for a company that can handle those situations; not so much for the others that have stringent rules for no reason.

  22. kdizzle*

    It is so easy to drive yourself totally insane after an interview. But it’s important to remember that there are so many exogenous variables in the hiring process that have nothing to do with you. So give them the best version of you, and know that you’ve had the most positive influence on the process that you can provide.

    You truly never know what they’re looking for. I get nervous and far too “jokey” in interviews (Chandler Bing Syndrome). At the beginning of one interview, the hiring manager shared that he went to a rival college of mine. I immediately stood up, shook his hand, thanked him for his time, and walked out the door. I returned 10 seconds later…but still…I went home that night and told my husband, “I did it again…I was jokey and pretended to walk out on the interview.” They called the next day and thought I’d be a great fit for culture. I took the job, and they were right. It was a great fit. You just never know, so there’s no point guessing.

  23. anon in tejas*

    #1. I kinda love how if you read the title of the post, you totally see Alison’s position on the issue. :)

    I agree with Alison. This is kinda an ethics question. What do you want your personal ethics to be and are you okay with this? Your current boss may have you deluded into thinking that this is okay, but go to the basics. If it’s found out and the temp agency makes a big stink, is the job/headache/bad rep worth it?

    You also may want to see what you have signed as well. if you have signed paperwork saying that you will not work for an employer your have been temporarily placed with on your own for X period of time. You could have liability as well. And I am sure that your boss won’t help you out if that’s the case with legal fees, etc.

    You may feel like you’re not in a position to tell your boss to follow the rules. But you have something to lose as well. Besides your reputation, you are possibly opening yourself up to some sort of legal issue with the temp agency.

    PS. This is totally the type of question my younger brother would ask. He’s a very smart kid, but not emotionally mature in a lot of ways, and has a harder time recognizing how his actions effect others and what the possible repercussions are for him.

  24. Mike C.*


    So what happens if someone else find out they’re pregnant and need to go out on maternity leave? Or gets hit by a bus? Or wins the lotto? Your boss shouldn’t be preventing you from using your compensation just because someone else got pregnant, they should have brought in a temp.

    1. MT*

      I feel this falls into the category of, I can only approve vacation from so many people at one time. Not everyone can have the week of christmas off. First person who puts in, gets it. Or first person I am legally required to give time off gets it.

      1. Frustrated*

        I agree with you MT, but we’re not talking about a 1 week vacation – we’re talking about 3 months. That’s a long black out period.

        1. MT*

          I would bet the manager is hesitant to approve a 3 month out of office, but their hands may be tied.

          1. Frustrated*

            Meaning the maternity leave is 3 months, therefore the rest of us are blocked out for that amount of time. I don’t want a 3 month vacation :)

        2. fposte*

          Had you planned a trip during that time, and if so, have you raised that with the manager?

    2. Stephanie*

      I was wondering all that myself. I get the rationale behind the vacation prohibition, but it seems shortsighted. Even a nasty cold would knock an employee out for three to four days. Or another employee could resign.

      1. MT*

        Yeah, cold can keep someone home for a week, but that can not be controlled. Someone booking a cruise 5 months away can be. Having a need to be out of the office is different than having want to be out of the office.

          1. MT*

            depending on the size of the company, i would guess its the legally have to give time off.

            1. Mike C.*

              But as you can see, this gets *really* ugly, really fast. Should the boss punish employees for deciding to have kids at the same time? Should employees be expected to hold off on starting or expanding families because someone at work started earlier? Should those who never want to have children be expected to have last priority when it comes to vacation time?

              Or should the boss just hire a temp?

              1. Frustrated*

                That’s where I’m kind of going with this, Mike C. I held off on taking days early in the year because I prefer to take a vacation after the summer ends. Of course my coworker is entitled to take time off for maternity. BUT I’m not comfortable with her decision affecting my free will. Moreover, the discussion with the director made me so uncomfortable, I would feel VERY uncomfortable taking any time that I would need for medical issues or other non-vacation related things (which I am totally entitled to do)

                1. MT*

                  It’s not her decision that is keeping them from taking time off. Its the companies decision from keeping you from taking time off. You can have all the free will you want, as long as you don’t expect someone to pay you for your free will. The business has to make hard choices sometimes for the greater good of the company.

                2. fposte*

                  Agreeing with MT. Also, Frustrated, it’s pretty normal that when you take a vacation, that means others won’t be able to take time off during that period, so any affecting of free will goes both ways.

                3. MT*

                  Hate the term free will. Your free will ends the second your employer starts paying you for your time.

              2. fposte*

                Not all workplaces have temp money lying around, unfortunately.

                If the manager actually meant that he won’t be approving vacations during the three month period, I actually think that’s okay (though unless his was planned before the leave announcement, he shouldn’t have taken his own). That happens in small units, just as it happens in industries where there are seasonal rushes. Yes, it means legally mandated leave trumps discretionary leave, but that doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

                1. fposte*

                  It’s relevant because we’re talking about the workplace’s ability to decree a period where vacations won’t be approved.

              3. GH*

                The Boss has approved a 3-month (I assume) leave for one of three employees. Doesn’t matter in my eyes whether it’s to have a baby or to travel the Amazon, that leave has been granted. Now he’s telling other employees they can’t have leave during that expected busy period, and should plan their vacation for before or after. That seems totally reasonable to me. The only clarification I’d want is about the possibility of a (genuine!) sick day in that window.

                1. MT*

                  Its more like the government or hr told the manager he has to approve this type of leave.

                2. Case of the Mondays*

                  Mike, in my state the pregnancy law states that when the employee is physically able to return to work, her original job or a comparable position shall be made available to her by the employer unless business necessity makes this impossible or unreasonable.

                  So, yes, the employer does have some discretion as to whether pregnancy leave is approved or not. They can’t stop you from leaving but they can stop you from coming back if “business necessity” required it.

                3. Artemesia*

                  So people with kids who are only out of school in summer are blocked from taking a summer vacation i.e. any vacation this year? But the boss himself felt fine with taking his own vacation.

                  Time to look for a new job.

                4. Zillah*

                  But from my reading, the coworker is going on maternity leave in August. That leaves the end of June, all of July, and possibly some of August for people with kids to take a vacation.

                5. fposte*

                  @Mike–it’s possible the boss is just that crazy, but I think it’s simply that the boss has to approve discretionary leave. FMLA isn’t discretionary.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      To be fair, not every job can be filled by a temp. I see this suggested here a lot, and it doesn’t apply to every job. Loads of jobs take a minimum of three months of training to be even semi competent at.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Absolutely true. I get that my job is different than most, but it is nonetheless a good example of this. Our hiring process takes months (even if you don’t factor in the civil-service part of it), training takes 6 months to a year and a lot of people wash out of training. We have a lot of employees on extended sick leave right now and people retiring (we can’t hire to replace until after they leave) and that ends up meaning a lot of overtime for those of us who are working.

      2. LBK*

        +1. In my department the temp would be just barely starting to work independently by the time the maternity leave was over, and in that time the productivity of the other people would suffer while trying to answer questions and get the temp trained. We’d be better off just running with a person missing so we could all focus on our work.

        1. YALM*

          This. No slot on my team could be filled at all well with a temp, and the overhead of managing/training the temp would be huge. We don’t hire interns for the same reasons. To handle a long-term absence, we all pitch in to cover the critical work and manage expectations about the rest.

      3. Zahra*

        Yeah, that’s why parental leave that is longer actually works out better: if you have someone who will be gone for a year, you can bring in someone to replace them and have them contribute significantly to the business. At the same time, a one-year job allows you to get more experience in your field and thus become more easily employable in the future. (Or the organization may find a need for an additional person and keep you on after the year.)

      4. Beti*

        Fair enough but there is a certain amount of notice before the person goes on maternity leave. The company could bring a temp to train at any point during the nine or so months prior to the actual leave.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Training someone for six months to have coverage for three isn’t necessarily reasonable though. More importantly, though, some jobs just don’t lend themselves to that — for instance, jobs that are about relationship-building (lobbying, for instance), or jobs where the candidates who could do it at a sufficiently high level aren’t looking for short-term gigs like that (and where the people you could hire for that wouldn’t be performing at the level you need).

      5. Cath in Canada*

        Up here in the land of year-long parental leave, it’s pretty common in my field for temp parental leave cover positions to be 18 months long. There’s 3 months of overlap with the person taking leave at the beginning and at the end of the year-long period, so there’s plenty of time for training and transition.

        It’s worked really well for my current team, because we’re expanding at a rate that matches the rate of parental leave pretty nicely – meaning that everyone who’s been hired as an 18 month temp has been kept on when the parent comes back to work!

        1. Jen RO*

          On the other hand, one of my co-workers is on a year-long maternity leave (which is the norm here). There was never any talk of bringing someone in temporarily – it was a matter of suck it up and deal (and we could still take vacation without the company talking to pieces).

  25. C Average*

    #5: Whatever you do, don’t turn into a martyr about this situation. I see some hints of that in some of your language. It really comes across that you feel you’re entitled to a promotion, you feel superior to others who have been given promotions, and you believe that you aren’t getting what you deserve. If this is coming across in a letter, it’s probably coming across to your colleagues. This type of attitude isn’t a likable quality in a fellow employee, and it’ll hold you back.

    You accepted the job you have, with no guarantees that it’ll lead to anything else. You should have an explicit conversation with your leadership about your career path, as Alison suggests, but if it doesn’t turn out the way you hope, don’t let the resentment fester. Everyone around you can pick up on that.

    If you really, truly believe you’re too good for the job you have, you need to gain some clarity around how realistic a promotion is, find another job elsewhere, or figure out how to make your peace with where you’re at so you can continue to be effective and pleasant to work with.

    Good luck. I know how hard it is to feel stuck in a job for too long. I hope you can find a spot that feels more right for you.

    1. Mike C.*

      Maybe that so called “entitlement” comes from the fact that the employee in question has been doing the work of a supervisor without the pay or title that goes with?

      If I do work, I’m certainly entitled to the pay and benefits that go along with that work.

      1. LBK*

        It doesn’t really sound like he is doing the work, though. Usually in a retail setting, supervisory roles will include doing performance reviews, writing schedules, approving time off, etc. You could be directing people day-to-day but not doing those tasks – like a shift supervisor. I think we’d need more clarity about what the OP is being expected to do before validating that he deserves the pay/benefits for the work he’s doing.

        1. Mike C.*

          I took “supervising” people as doing work outside of the normal job description, but I can accept that such an interpretation could be mistaken.

          1. LBK*

            I think in most contexts that reading would make sense, but specifically in retail/service there are often positions where you’re the on-the-spot decision maker for when the supervisor/manager isn’t working, but don’t really have any authority or responsibilities within the department otherwise. So you’re supervising the employees during your shift to make sure there are no customer issues, make sure people get breaks, etc. but not supervising the department overall. I would guess that’s what the OP is doing.

    2. Artemesia*

      Good point. The OP may be absolutely right that they are being taken for granted and less competent people are being promoted, but project that attitude and it cripples one’s chances to be taken seriously. I think Alison’s advice is spot on. Be direct with management about your goals and get their advice. And plan to look elsewhere if either they are vague or following their advice for a few months doesn’t take you anywhere. There are lots of places where good employees are stuck and the only way they can move forward is to move on. It might be time to move on – not in a huff but with a smile when it happens.

    3. Ruffingit*

      If you really, truly believe you’re too good for the job you have, you need to gain some clarity around how realistic a promotion is, find another job elsewhere, or figure out how to make your peace with where you’re at so you can continue to be effective and pleasant to work with.

      This is good advice for all employees in general. I get #5’s frustration because it appears the carrot is being dangled in front of him and a year is way too long for that to be the case. Getting some clarity on timeline would help as would understanding that the rhetoric might be “Well, it’s coming soon” or something equally as vague that is basically just more carrot dangling.

      At that point, the OP has to decide about his own timeline in terms of continuing in this job or getting another one. Frustration is normal, but not on a long-term basis so don’t fall in that trap. If you don’t feel you’re going to get what you want from this job, quietly begin looking for one where you can get what you need.

    4. LBK*

      I was this employee when I worked in retail. I got passed over twice for promotions I thought I deserved. Ultimately, I ended up getting a promotion at another location, which in turn provided me with some insanely good training I wouldn’t have gotten at my store, allowing me to be promoted again 4 months later. If I’d gotten either of the first two promotions I wanted, I probably would’ve been stuck in those roles for another year or more, and I probably would’ve quit and never gotten up to the supervisor level I was aiming for.

      Point being, these things have a way of working themselves out. Continue putting in your work, continuing applying when the positions are open, and keep repeating the mantra “Everything happens for a reason”.

  26. Ruffingit*

    OP #1 says I’m trying to cover my tracks…

    Anytime you have to cover your tracks, you’re likely doing something wrong. Just something to think about.

    1. Mallory*

      Exactly. Anytime you’re trying to hide something instead of just being open about it, it’s a good indication to examine your motives.

      The temp agency will also not be unwise to the attempted cover-up. I tell my kids this all the time, as in: “When I can plainly see that you’re trying to hide something, I’m going to dig until I find out what it is.” Temp agencies are keenly attuned to what is probably the number one way in which their clients are likely to try to cheat them. This “track-covering” will not go unnoticed.

  27. LQ*


    A couple people have mentioned how they got burned by similar situations early in their careers. My career started out also with a temp position that was just a little gig. It grew and grew and after I sort of accidentally helped the org make money and saved the day when my boss was out they wanted me to stay on.

    So they paid the temp agency the fee (which was a % of my salary). My boss didn’t pay me less because of it. She, very correctly, told me that hiring is an expensive process and could very well have come to that amount or much more if a hire hadn’t worked out well. She did ask that I agree to stay on for at least a year (I stayed 9 years because it was an awesome job) so the fee wasn’t wasted. (She was clear that there would be nothing punitive if I didn’t, but it was a reasonable request.)

    Not all employers are like this and I would consider any employer who tried to do this kind of an end run pretty shady. There are a lot of great employers who would never do something like this.

    1. kristinyc*

      I had a similar situation – a job started out as a temp job, and then I was hired. I worked as a temp for 3 months (which was terrifying, because it was September 2009, right when the recession was getting crazy). They loved me, and hired me on. I knew they had to pay a fee, but never even discussed how much it was with me. My salary was very fair, and more than I had been making as a temp.

      They had worked with a few other temps right before me who didn’t work out, and I think the fee was worth it to have someone who they already knew could do the job. I ended up staying on for 2 years, and I really liked the job.

    2. Sharm*

      Your comment gives me hope! I wish more employers could be open about stuff like this (i.e. “Stay on a year so the fee isn’t wasted.” I would appreciate that.). I’m glad things worked out for you!

  28. Ann O'Nemity*

    #3 makes me unhappy. I know it’s legal. And I know that the company may not be able to bring in a temp for a variety of legitimate reasons. Still… I’ve been a co-worker affected by this type of FMLA situation three times now. Each time the rest of the co-workers were responsible for picking up the slack without any additional compensation. So not only were we working extra hours, we were also forbidden from taking any vacation and strongly discouraged from taking any sick days.

    I’m not arguing against FMLA! But it does suck when the employer pushes all the consequences down on the remaining employees.

    1. Artemesia*

      As a mother and as a manager who got stuck twice when the same employee was out for 3 mos during our crush season, I too have mixed feelings. My employee was the director of a division that was under my authority and supervised half a dozen employees in an institution critical function. I believe she carefully planned the pregnancies to coincide with these times (I believe this because she told several people that and that kind of info tends to not stay private). It was not possible to bring in a temp for this relatively high level position and we didn’t have anyone on staff who could step up to the role. The result was that I essentially had to add her high pressure job onto my also high pressure job and it doubled my workload and had me working nights and every weekend for her two 3 mos vacations.

      Because there was no maternity leave when I had my kids I actually planned them to arrive when I could easily take the time off without pay.

      In a small office long maternity leaves are a real burden on the rest of the staff. I’d like to see maternity leave policies like most of the western world that give more adequate time off and then hire people to do the work that is left.

      1. Ruffingit*

        It’s beyond awful of that woman to deliberately plan to have her kids when it was crunch time. However, this speaks to the clear need to cross train within the company: It was not possible to bring in a temp for this relatively high level position and we didn’t have anyone on staff who could step up to the role

  29. Employment Lawyer*

    Regarding #1:
    1. How can my temp job hire me on without my temp agency finding out and charging them?

    The temp agency is going to be a stickler about the contract. They don’t have to be “nice,” or take your interests to heart.

    Neither do you.

    Beyond the specific enforceable terms of the temp contract (some of them may be unenforceable,) you owe absolutely zero obligation to a temp agency. They treat you as a commodity; you treat them the same way.

    Take your contract to a lawyer and see what the terms say. Look for a loophole.

    Perhaps you have to work somewhere else for a few months. perhaps you have to quit–which may be permitted by the contract. But unlike a normal employer, you really don’t owe anything to a temp agency beyond hard work and adherence to the strict contract terms.

    AAM said:

    But the bigger point: What you and your boss are thinking of doing is pretty crappy. Your boss signed a contract with your agency agreeing to specific terms, and now she’s deliberately trying to violate that contract. Your agency provides a service that they need to charge for in order to stay in business, and your boss agreed to their terms when she decided to work with them. Do you really want to be someone who defrauds other people out of the fees they charge, fees that were fully disclosed in advance? And do you want to work for someone who operates that way?

    The more one-sided a contract is (and temp agencies hold all the cards w/r/t their employees) the more that you have an ethical right to follow only the strict terms. Fraud is bad, but if there’s a loophole you should feel free to use it.

    1. Agency Recruiter*

      Temp, Recruitment & Placement agencies are a service-provider like any other. If a company has a good relationship with one, it can be like having an in-house recruiter that you only have to pay piece-work.

      In the absence of good faith, I suppose “technically legal” will prevail, but it sure doesn’t make for lasting business relationships. I don’t know that I would want my business legacy to be “well, everything they did was technically legal”, but to each his own.

      I guess at the end of the day, it’s in the interests of the legal profession to have everyone using contracts so detailed and convoluted that every business arrangement or service provision needs to be overseen by a lawyer every step of the way.

      1. Jaimie*

        Everyone likes to the bash the lawyers, until they need one themselves. : )

        As someone who worked for one of the larger agencies in the US for ~ 5 years (not as a recruiter or in any sales capacity), and who still has a lot of friends in the industry…. I hate to say it, but agencies DO often treat temps like commodities. The temp gets a contract which was drafted by an attorney with an eye towards structuring the deal completely in the agency’s favor. And the temp usually feels pressured to sign on the spot. In this market, many temps, especially people who don’t have technical or specialty skills, feel like they don’t have a lot of leverage. They have to be affable and easy to do business with. So they sign.

        And then the opportunity comes up to take the role on permanently, and the temp had no idea going in that it’s actually cost-prohibitive for a lot of employers to hire them.

        I totally support people not signing contracts unless they know what they are doing, and for having to live up to their commitments. And that’s why I recommended trying to cut a deal above board (see comment above). I really think that’s the OP’s best bet. But let’s not pretend like it’s not the agencies who the are the ones presenting the convoluted contracts to begin with.

        1. Agency Recruiter*

          I completely hear you, there’s no question that ultimate loyalty in this relationship (for the agency) is to the employer, not to the temp.

          And yes, I suppose it will be company-specific to what extent an agency is interested in providing a good service and helping make a good match vs. taking a commission and running.

          I work in a small market and am salaried, not commissioned. If I don’t respect good candidates and work hard to be a support (rather than an obstacle) to employers, my career lifespan will be short. I’m not saying I always do this perfectly, but I try to be transparent with candidates about how things work. I don’t want to be an obstacle in their job search either.

          I feel like it is some value to them to provide them exposure to opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. But there is a trade-off, and if I worked hard to make something come together, I would hope the candidate understands that too.

      2. Employment Lawyer*

        You know what else makes a contract good? Reasonable bargaining about terms and conditions, between informed parties.

        If you negotiate a good contract with a fully informed and able party then it is reasonable to expect them to follow the intent of the negotiations, even if the contract is unclear. And in fact courts will often agree, which is why that is how good contracts work.

        However… if you don’t negotiate contract terms; and if you draft it yourself; and if the other party is less informed and able… well, then you bear the costs of bad drafting if you leave a loophole. If you want to rely on the “fine print,” you had better get it right.

        Most temp contracts are a type of “adhesion contract” (google it.) They are negotiated between one rich party with a lawyer, and one (usually poor/unemployed) party without one. They are usually INCREDIBLY one-sided, especially towards the employee.

        That is no surprise. The temp agency cares about themselves, and their contract reflects as much. They may care about an ongoing relationship with the employer–at least in terms of future profits–and their contract may reflect as much. But they usually don’t care much about the employee, and their contract usually reflects that as well.

        1. Joey*

          Actually that’s not true. Temp companies care greatly about their employees. After all a bad employee is bad for business.

          1. Jaimie*

            Sorry, not admin-y or entry-level type temps, at least not in general. And not at the corporate level, even if there are nice individual recruiters out there.

            There are tons of people out there looking for work, and the agency can always go and find more. True, a bad temp can cause them headaches. But good temps aren’t THAT hard to find. It’s a high volume, low-ish margin business (a temp agency putting a 35% upcharge on a admin person is probably actually clearing something like 15% on a not-that-high hourly wage). You need a lot of people to make it work– the concern is volume, not individuals.

            For technical roles, I do think it’s a little different.

            1. Joey*

              Still not true. If you’re unable to provide good, reliable temps (even admin) companies will usually look for someone who can.

              The companies that just want a warm body are few and far between.

    2. Joey*

      An ethical loophole? Really. There are very few loopholes I would consider ethical. Getting out of a legal agreement that you clearly agreed to isn’t one of them.

      And fwiw the temp agency is not usually going to be a stickler for the contract if it compromises more business than that temp is worth.

      1. Agency Recruiter*

        Truth. Flexibility in contracts (a.k.a. “good faith”) is pretty critical in our industry (as in any other). If someone quits one day past our guarantee period, we technically have no further obligation to the client. We just probably wouldn’t be invited to help with another recruitment if we shrug our shoulders.

        1. Jaimie*

          At least you have a guarantee period. I recently had a situation where our HR department didn’t get the agency’s contract until after the placement was made. They refused to give us a guarantee period (or any reps at all, not even fraud). I was SHOCKED, because I’ve done these contracts a thousand times before. I acknowledged that we’d verbally agreed to the placement fee, and we paid it. But I never signed the contract, and we’ll never do business with them again.

  30. Susan Kim*

    #4. Alison, by advising the OP that he should say he did not keep a copy of the letter, you are asking him to outright lie to his employer. Not only is this wrong from a moral perspective, but it is also unprofessional and could backfire on the OP (e.g., the employer owns his computer so technically, the employer can snoop and find the letter and know that he was lying). While I normally agree with your advice, I just can’t see why you would advise someone to tell a lie just to get out of an uncomfortable situation. The risk-benefit is just not there.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually very intentionally didn’t advise the OP to lie. But if she doesn’t still have the letter, which may well have been written at home, she can say that.

  31. Temp Employees*

    #1 – A great example of how “temp” work is designed to last as long as possible, and prevent permanent hiring. I hope you find a way out of that agency mess!

    1. Colette*


      This is a standard practice, designed to ensure that the temp agency doesn’t locate a temp and then get paid nothing because the employer hires the temp directly an hour after they show up.

      Legitimate businesses understand their contractual obligations and abide by them. They don’t have to sign the contract if they don’t like it.

    2. Katie the Fed*


      See, all parties agreed to this arrangement. Temp agency gets a cut of what the company is paying because they’re assuming all the personnel costs (hiring, training, fired, legal counsel, yadda yadda). The company agreed because they get flexibility in bringing someone on quickly who meets a certain standard and who they can get rid of quickly if things don’t work out. The employee agreed to it as well. Everybody actually stands to benefit from a temp-to-hire arrangement too, but the agency gets essentially a finder’s fee because they took care of all the personnel transactions associated with bringing this person to the company. Denying them that is completely unethical.

  32. anon-2*

    #1 – I “temped” (contracted) — at one company — and a perfect opening came up. I interviewed but didn’t get the position and later learned that my contract firm wanted $25,000 to release me from the non-compete. Out of the blue, after I had no more contract work, they called to “release” me. But it was too late, as the job went to someone else.

    #4 – I have a “dinner table story” about references. During my time being unemployed, my former manager said that he was hamstrung by HR – “Do not give reference letters.” Now, that made it very difficult to find another job.

    Around a year after I had been released, the company called ME. To ask me to write a nice letter about how I was treated during the severance period, etc. how nice they were.

    When I told Bozo “well, I dunno if I can do that. You guys wouldn’t give me a reference”, which elicited from him “well, uh, gee, that was all legal mumbo-jumbo, you can understand that, right? Huh? Right?” …. and my reply was …

    “And what is THIS letter you want from me going to be used for by you? No need to answer. Good day, sir.

  33. Loni Ashley*

    Regarding #2 I had an interview recently where I got a feeling of being in competition with the hiring manager, it was odd. I would never go into a job trying to “outsmart” my manager and the only conclusions I could draw from this experience were that this manager had some personal confidence issues. So in terms of Do you feel like you had a reasonably good rapport with the interviewer, and they seemed engaged in the conversation with you?” I have NO idea what to expect. Thankfully there are other fish in the sea.

  34. Savvy*

    I found my very first job through a temp agency. My new boss refused to pay the agencies bill. When that didn’t work he fired me then hired me back on his own. At the time I was a penniless college grad and felt I had no choice to suck it up until I found something else. I also learned he treated all of his vendors like that and I spent most of my days fending off creditors. Luckily I found another job after about six months. I did try to use the original agency a few years later and they practically slammed the door in my face. In hindsight I would have been better off telling the agency this guy is a real scumbag and having them help me find another job.

  35. Matt*

    #3 reminds me of some years ago when I was working in the IT department of my city’s municipality and the European Soccer Championship was held there. They issued an order that we were not to take any days off, not even a single day, in the whole of May (for the preparations) and June (where the actual thing was taking place). (Sick days not included, we have rather strict laws here and absolutely nobody can ever be expected to come in sick, although doctor’s notes are always required.) We are quite a lot of people here, but rather highly specialized, so jumping in for a coworker can be quite difficult, I admit … After May went uneventful they decided that one could have single days off when signed by the department manager. I sat there the whole two months doing my usual business and never had anything to do that even slightly touched the whole soccer event – actually it was only certain subdepartments who really had to do critical work for this *sigh*

  36. Rob*

    I was hired on a temp to hire position. The contract was said to be for 2-3 months max after which I was supposed to be considered for a permanent position. It has been more than 9 months now and yet there is no confirmation. Worse thing is that they do not even have an end date for me. I keep asking them about my case and they always delay the situation by asking more and more time. I really do not like asking them again and again as I don’t want to be pushy. They give me a new reason every time I try confronting them. They laid some people off a few months ago and they used the excuse of being financially tight. But that is not stopping from hiring new people in my team. I was told they would bring me to permanent when my co-worker would retire. And when he retired, in stead of hiring me for the position, they bring somebody else in his place. In the mean while my agency also tells me that the company is curious to know the conversion rates. I’m so confused. Please help what should be my next step.

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