I want to lie to my boss about missing a flight, what kind of kitchen supplies should an office provide, and more

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

1. I missed a flight and want to lie to my boss about it

I went on a trip to Mexico for business and overslept for my early morning returning flight. I paid the fee to change the time out of my own pocket rather than using the owners credit card. I am tempted to tell the owner if he asks that my flight was cancelled so as not to appear unreliable. I am worried that the airlines notified him as the ticket was booked in my name but on his credit card. Can the airlines notify a third party like that just because they paid the ticket? I dont want to get caught in a lie.

Don’t lie – not because the airlines are likely to notify him (they aren’t), but because lying reflects far worse on you than missing a flight does. Lying gets you fired, ruins your reputation, and — maybe most importantly — makes you a liar. The lie has to be discovered for those first two, but why risk it?

That said, I don’t think you’re obligated to proactively announce what happened, assuming it didn’t impact your work. But if you’re asked, you should explain honestly and make it clear it won’t happen again.

2. What type of kitchen supplies should an office provide?

I recently became manager of my regional office. One of the items I was not prepared for was the requests for the office to pay for “fringe” office supplies. We are a regional office with 10-12 employees and are currently losing money this year (as a region). We have a small “kitchen room” with a refrigerator, coffee maker (K-cup), sink and microwave. I have been asked to have the office purchase coffee K-cups (we have 2 coffee drinkers), bottled water, paper plates, plastic forks/spoons, etc. I have been in this office for 8+ years and know my previous manager would not have approved. However, I am thinking the cost for the year would be $200-$300. What sets the limit for expenses that the office should bear?

It’s a judgment call, but the sort of thing you’re describing is so typical for offices to provide that I wouldn’t generally even question it. $300 a year for kitchen supplies is unlikely to make a difference in your office’s overall budget, and typically providing these items is seen as a way to make employees’ lives slightly more comfortable.

That said, your office has never supplied this stuff so I suppose that it’s not outrageous if you choose to simply continue that policy … but typically the morale hit that petty cuts like this cause (if it were a cut, which I realize it’s not) cost you way more than $300.

3. Employer wants access to my medical records

I was just offered a senior-level position with a family owned company. The offer letter stipulates the usual background check and drug screen conditions, but they also added a clause stating they reserve the right to view my medical history / records. I’ve never heard of this and I think it is quite invasive. I really don’t want them to know that my doctor prescribed an anti-depressant for me in the past – it just isn’t their business. Have you heard of this clause before and is this acceptable?

It’s illegal under federal law. Employers aren’t permitted to ask you to answer medical questions before making an offer, although they can make the offer contingent upon you passing a medical exam or answering certain specific medical questions (but the exam and questions must be required of all employees in the same type of job; they can’t pick and choose who they require it of). After you begin work, they can ask medical questions if and only if they need medical documentation to support your request for an accommodation, or if they have a bona fide concern that you’re not able to perform the job safely because of a medical condition.

I recommend asking them to give you more context on the medical history language, and adding, “I know federal law prohibits those inquiries except in very limited circumstances, so I wasn’t sure what it referred to.”

4. Passing along a resume without vouching for the person

A friend of mine (let’s call her Penelope) let me know that she has a friend (let’s call her Carmen) who is looking for a new job in the area that I work in. I asked Penelope to send me Carmen’s resume and told her that I would check if there are any openings in my department. Looking at Carmen’s resume, I think she is a viable candidate for an open position in my department. I emailed the job requisition link to Penelope and told her that Carmen could apply for the job through there.

Afterwards, I learned that Carmen had actually already applied for the job – I don’t know how long ago, though. I know that applications can sometimes get lost in the HR shuffle and that it is sometimes more beneficial to directly email the hiring manager a resume. Knowing this and also recognizing that I cannot vouch for Carmen, as I do not know her, how can I tactfully email Carmen’s resume to the person in my department who is hiring for this position? The person hiring is a director who I do not work with; our interactions mainly consist of saying “hi, how are you” to each other whenever we pass each other in the hall. I know that it can be frustrating looking for a job and that often just having the right connection can do wonders, so I am just trying to help out by being a connector (but not a recommender).

“I wanted to pass along Carmen Smith’s resume as a potential candidate for the XYZ position. I’ve never worked with her and actually don’t know her personally, but we have a mutual friend, so I offered to send it along to you directly. I think she’s applied online as well.”

5. Can I volunteer to be laid off?

I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and working for a construction company in California. The projected complete date for this project is August 7th and the baby will be born at the end of July. With maternity leave and disability, I will not be returning to the job until late October. Even with the project rumors saying there is a good chance the project will be postponed again, there are a massive amount of layoffs happening to where the joke is Mondays and Fridays are layoff days. This is construction work, so it is known that you could be either transferred to another job site or laid off when your work is no longer necessary. My hubby is one of those employees recently laid off.

Is it illegal or unethical to volunteer to be laid off? I am considering being a temporary stay-at-home mother while my children are both young, and finishing school and relocating to another state while I have the chance. If I do volunteer for a layoff, does this make me ineligible for unemployment? Another rumor is that this company never denies unemployment.

There’s nothing illegal or unethical about volunteering to be laid off, if your company is planning to make cuts. There is something unethical about quitting and asking the company to call it a layoff so that you can get unemployment — because that’s a fraudulent benefit claim. But if your company is planning to make cuts anyway, they’re often relieved to get volunteers and you could save someone else from being cut. (That assumes, of course, that your position is one they can cut — cuts usually target specific positions, and not all are eligible.)

{ 220 comments… read them below }

  1. HR "Gumption"*

    1- Travel, especially interntational travel is often a circus anyway, very doubtful the boss will care much as long as you didn’t miss something important.

    2- Spring for the supplies, the cost is negligible and very standard.

    3-Medical records? That’s bizarre. Post offer physical for some jobs isn’t uncommon. As Alison suggests, seek clarification.

    5- I supervised a group that went through regular layoffs, many senior workers (union) volunteered on a regular basis. Check with your manager.

    1. anon-2*

      #5 – it was quite common to have people, especially in seasonal government jobs, to put up their hands to be laid off.

      Also – in a “furlough” situation – the 20-something with no debts may volunteer to take a temporary layoff — to save someone else who needs the money more. I was in a situation like that once and volunteered.

      It was a lame-brained manager’s idea – then he realized that the company would still have to continue benefits, pay unemployment — and finally — pay overtime to others who would be picking up the slack. In other words, a few planned furloughs would have cost the company more money.

  2. Adam*

    #2 I agree it’s worth it to get the supplies. The cost is minor and not having basic supplies in the kitchen can really make for grouchy employees. No need to make the place needlessly aggravated.

    1. Chris80*

      Agreed! I once worked for a place where it was seriously considered as a cost saving measure to have the company no longer supply toilet paper. I’m glad that was vetoed, because I think the morale issues that would have come from having to bring your own toilet paper to work would have been far worse for the company than the cost of the toilet paper.

      This place already didn’t purchase anything for the kitchen & also made us supply our own Kleenex, but I think no toilet paper would have been a last straw for many. OP2, don’t be like that company!

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, the toilet paper thing would have been a very bad move for a number of reasons, but the one that comes to mind for me is how poorly it would reflect on the company. A company that won’t even supply TP looks greedy and as though they don’t care about their employees at all because TP is such a basic item. Unwillingness to provide that makes the company look like crap (pardon the pun) and I could see many people hop on the job hunt train should that cost saving measure go into effect.

        1. anon-2*

          And I am guessing (I am not an attorney, however) that failure to supply toilet paper might be illegal.

          I do know that pay toilets are illegal in the workplace …. the community I’m from was a mill town, and back before 1915, the mill barons charged their employees to use the toilet.

        2. Dmented Kitty*

          Not to mention how nasty the restrooms can get if there’s no TP and people forget (or don’t) to bring their own. Or dissent among coworkers when only some people regularly bring their own, and other ‘parasites’ won’t because they start relying on asking for some from the former.

          Maybe I’m too bitter about that, but I guess I’m saying ‘parasites’ because back when I was in school whenever we take pop quizzes the teacher asks us to use a sheet of pad paper for the quiz, and I was one of the two or three people in class (of 40+) who actually brings their own paper, and there is a dozen people asking for a sheet from those who have paper. A sheet is not much, but for a dozen people, and [potentially] several classes in a day? They add up. It annoyed me, because it’s not just because “they ran out of paper” or “they forgot” — a week passes and it’s still the same people asking for paper. And they call you “selfish” if you don’t “share”. So I learned to leave the entire pad at home and just bring enough sheets to last the day. At least I can have an excuse to tell them I don’t have enough to give anyone anymore.

          Just wanted to get that rant out…

      2. Jazzy Red*

        I completely agree.

        My last employer encountered hard times a couple of years ago, and started cost savings measures. They *were* throwing money around like there was no tomorrow, and they were a little late in cutting some of them. However, after laying off almost half the employees (they still had about 175 people), they decided not to provide styrofoam coffee cups, plastic soda glasses, paper plates, and plastic silverware. This caused A LOT of dissention within the ranks, and I finally went to the dollar store and spent about $1o on paper plates and plastic silverware for the kitchen. They didn’t last all that long, and I vented to the owner’s brother that I spent my own money on this stuff, and the next day we had a new supply.

        Really, $200-$300/year is pretty cheap to help keep morale up in the office when you’re facing hard times. One word of warning though – if you provide coffee for only 2 people, everyone else will want you to provide soda for them. And if you provide bottled water, make it Sam’s Choice plain old filtered water (no fancy stuff).

        1. anon-2*

          I once worked at a place where management was attempting a “we are in poverty” mode…. even to the point of not providing sufficient paper towels and – toilet paper.

          When a production control area moved into the building (a 24×7 group) — the water dispenser would run out. Management responded by stating “you guys must be stealing the water bottles (the 50 gallon ones)”.

          They even decided – as a show of “poverty” – to not remove used soda cans from the galley. We paid for our own soda. When it became a health problem – I offered to bring in some of the neighborhood’s “residents” (Street people) who would love to take the deposits. We’ll be rid of the cans, hopefully the roaches and mice, and they’ll have enough dough for a quart or two of cheap booze. Everyone wins.

          Then one day the lights were all out. As long as you can see your monitor, you don’t need the lights, right? And when the coffee machine broke down – instead of fixing it, a sign “Coffee machine broken – no funds to repair”.

          Of course, during that time I had a salary dispute / promotion issue , and resolved it through a resignation – counteroffer (common in IS/IT) … but my manager said “given the fiscal crisis”.

          Oh – what WAS the “fiscal crisis”??? Our bottom line had only increased 18 percent from the previous year, and the company was looking for 20. That was the “crisis”.

          Surprisingly, some people believed the company was in trouble…

          1. Adam*

            …………I certainly don’t presume to know what it’s like to run a business and the pressures of having a large company be fiscally sound, but if I had been in your situation I might seriously have considered learning how to make voodoo dolls.

            1. anon-2*

              When I retire from the IS/IT world, I will likely be publishing a book of “dinner table stories” …

              Adam, the management team actually thought that people would swallow the “fiscal crisis” garbage. Unfortunately – some DID. On the other hand, that particular company burned itself, because when economic times are GREAT – which they were at the time, you can’t go around doing three things —

              1) Daring people to test their value on the open market.

              2) Convincing people that they’re lucky to have jobs.

              3) Running “harum scarum” layoffs to try to scare the hell out of your employees.

              1. Adam*

                Suddenly them thinking toilet paper was a luxury item makes more sense, because apparently their $h!t didn’t stink.

        2. Esra*

          Agh, I keep seeing this pop up here. Companies really provide plastic and styrofoam for all their employees every day? I work at an environmental non-profit, so this kills me.

          That said, a good alternative is proper cutlery and a dishwasher, filtered water and reusable water bottles. Getting rid of those is just a morale killer.

          1. KrisL*

            I get irritated when I hear about people in companies throwing out regular silverware and dishes because they get mad that people aren’t cleaning up after themselves.

          2. Wren*

            Yes, I hate routine use of disposables! I hate when people say, “I’ll bring the paper plates and plastic cutlery,” as their contribution to picnic-potluck type events, but I never get more than a small number of people to take my suggestion of each person bringing their own reusables.

            I really don’t get it in this day and age. Haven’t we had a generation and more grown up in a Save the Earth culture by now?

      3. Jen*

        I once worked for a place that provided coffee, coffee filters, powdered creamer, sugar, plastic forks, plates, etc. Then we had budget cuts and the coffee was taken away, along with every other little extra. Additionally we had to use both sides of the xerox paper before throwing it away. Toilet paper was kept under lock and key. One by one, everyone left. Within 6 months, 90% of the staff moved on. It sounds extreme but these are such little items, just minor costs and they make the difference in making people feel valued. People may not notice that you provide these things, but they will certainly notice when they aren’t provided.

        1. Michele*

          Using both sides of the copy paper is pretty common place now. I don’t see that as a big deal.

          1. lachevious*

            Both sides of the paper before you could toss it? I hope it wasn’t anything confidential. I’m coming from a legal field perspective – and I shudder to think of the ramifications of reusing copy paper before it can be tossed.

          2. Jen*

            Sorry – I should explain a little better. Yeah, now it seems to be common to copy things both-sided. This was a newsroom and news cast scripts were printed one-sided onto paper. Pink paper for the main anchor, blue for co-anchor, yellow for producer, green for director. They got tired of ordering all of this paper and after the newscast was done, you had to stack up all of your paper, flip it over, put it back into the printer tray so that the other side of the page could be used. But since they had been scribbled on with notes, they never fed correctly through the printer and would jam. Plus, it was confusing to look at them and try and figure out “Wait, is this the intro script for the 10 p.m. newscast or is it the old copy from the 5 p.m.?”

            This was in the 90s before everything got automated very well. It was a clusterfuck.

      4. ChiTown Lurker*

        My former company wasn’t crazy enough to eliminate toilet paper but they bought some stuff that we used to call “particle board paper”. It was so bad, several people started bringing their own paper and leaving it on their desks in protest. They didn’t return to normal paper until we had a little incident with one of the external auditors. She was pregnant at the time and was so desperate that she actually resorted to begging strangers for toilet paper. Needless to say, we made quite an impression!

        She still hadn’t forgiven the company when she returned the following year. She did bring her own toilet wipes the following year.

        Trust me, this is not the statement you want to make.

        1. Dmented Kitty*

          Oh, wow — “particle board toilet paper” sounds painful. Those should only belong to cheap IKEA furniture…

          I’d rather they go the “three seashells” route.

      5. chewbecca*

        My company doesn’t supply silverware, paper plates, cups, or tissues. I probably would have brought my own tissues anyway, because I blow my nose a lot (thanks, allergies!), and like the ones with lotion.

        It was kind of an adjustment at first. Most of the people bring in their own supplies and wash them as they use it. It’s less wasteful, at least.

        1. Koko*

          My employer provides dishes to reduce paper waste. We have dishwashers and folks are just expected to rinse their dishes and load them into the dishwasher. The cleaning company we contract with comes around each evening and actually runs the dishwasher (and also collects and loads any stray dishes that were left around the office or in the sink).

      6. Stephen*

        That’s like telling employees that if they don’t want to work in the dark they will have to bring their own light bulbs.

      7. Sunshine*

        I always wonder how those companies handle it when they have visitors? Are the employees providing TP for clients also? Just awkward.

    2. LAI*

      I’m not getting how this would be only $200-300 per year. I’d say I spend about $25 per month on coffee and its fixings (coffee itself, creamer, sugar, filters, etc.) and I’m only one person and that’s just coffee. K-cups are even more expensive.

      Also, this is presumably because I work in public universities but I have never had an employer provide any of the kitchen supplies mentioned. We’re lucky if they even provide the kitchen – my last job just had a refrigerator and a microwave perched on top of a desk in an empty office room.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My experience, too. Fridge, microwave, that’s it. If I walked in and there were plates and utensils, I would automatically figure they were not for me and there was a special event or something.

  3. MR*

    $300 isn’t going to make or break your office. However, with two coffee drinkers and K cups costing about a buck a piece, even with just two or three cups of coffee, that $300 will be gone on just coffee alone well before the end of the fiscal year.

    1. Chrl268*

      Good point, there are 250 working days in a year, two people having one cup of coffee a day is already $500. I hadn’t thought of it going up so fast! I say this as someone who doesn’t drink coffee but my partner drinks a few cups a day through office socialising. Where he works there is a social club which organises milk/sugar/coffee where people pay $1 a cup + 50c for milk. Its amazing how it adds up. Recently he joined the tea club, where for 50c a week he can drink as many cups of tea as he wants, its just 50c per cup for milk.

      1. Kiwi*

        I can’t imagine working for a company so stingy that you had to subscribe to the tea and coffee clubs (and pay 50c per cup extra for milk)!

        1. James M*

          A social club doesn’t sound like something the company has a hand in, more like a bunch of employees who decided that ¢50/ea was sufficient to keep an adequate supply of milk on hand.

            1. EE*

              I had a short-livedjob in Sydney, with a very small company where if you wanted milk/tea/whatever, you had to buy it yourself and claim it back. I very soon realized that I drank more tea and used more sugar than most of the office put together, so I only claimed every second purchase.

              Now I’m with a very, very large organization where tea is free. Whee!

              1. Windchime*

                Tea was free at OldJob, along with coffee, hot cider, and cocoa. At NewJob, only coffee is free (along with sugar). No big deal; I just bring a box of teabags and stash them in my desk.

                Everyone uses a real mug that they bring from home; our employer no longer furnishes styrofoam cups because of environmental issues. They also don’t provide plastic utensils for the same reason; again, I just brought a set of real (metal) utensils from home and use those when I need something.

                1. Jessa*

                  This, I always had a fork, knife and spoon in my desk for that. As for people bringing things to potlatch, I usually brought the pop and stuff (as I’m not really a cook.)

        2. Non geordie beth*

          I work in the public sector in the UK and our chief exec has been told that although he manages a £25m budget, he is not authorised to purchase tea and coffee for staff. Insane, no?

        3. So Very Anonymous*

          My office barely supplies regular office supplies (pens, etc.) and you have to pay into a club to use the water cooler. We were even supposed to chip in for a refrigerator. Morale is bad for lots of other reasons, but this stuff doesn’t help.

          1. Artemesia*

            In my 45 year career in several places, coffee was always paid for by staff. I have never worked anyplace that provided tea and coffee free (although other workers often brought in things to share with the staff e.g. if they received a gift of various teas that they don’t drink, it would end up in the break room so those who enjoy them could have them) But there was always a ‘coffee club’ you joined if you drank coffee and a weekly or monthly fee. (and taking turns cleaning the coffee pot and making the coffee) I would bet that if they have now gone to K cups that people are required to bring their own.

            1. the gold digger*

              Fortune 100 companies up to now. Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and milk, and then always leftovers from a lunch meeting somewhere. I really miss the for-profit world.

              1. Judy*

                I’ve been at 3 F100 companies, although in the engineering world, and with production facilities on site. Always coffee clubs organized by the employees.

                Corporate sites usually had free coffee.

                Of course with “awards” like safety awards, and other things, we’d get t-shirts, because if we got polos (that we could wear to work, because where else would I wear a polo that said the company name and 5,000,000 hours no workplace injury) the hourly workers would be upset. But the folks at corporate would get polos. So we got t-shirts to wear that one day to work with special dispensation, but still had to wear the dress code OK pants.

              2. Dmented Kitty*

                I worked at retail – corporate department for a while, and they used to have “Thank You Thursdays”, where they provide free donuts/pastries for everyone in the break room (I think they schedule it on Thursdays as most people are off-site on Fridays). It’s mainly just for employee morale (given the stressful work environment there, it was well-deserved).

                Then they started some cost-cutting measures, so “Thank You Thursdays” was gone.

                The nothing we had after that we aptly dubbed “F*ck You Fridays”.

        4. VintageLydia USA*

          It’s really common in government offices. Apparently tax payers have a cow if employees are given anything remotely resembling a small benefit, so employees pay for it themselves through similar clubs.

          1. Rindle*

            And it’s awful. I belong to the “water club” and share cost with my group. If I didn’t – or if there was nobody willing to coordinate the water club, which is a PITA – the only potable water available to me at work would be the $1.50 12-oz bottles in the store downstairs.

            1. Bill*

              Yeah, this is something I had at my tiny office, where we all had to pay in to get water. But I did find out that an employer likely has to provide all employees with potable water (OSHA 1915.88(b)(1-3), possibly others depending on the facility where you work, assuming you are in the US)

          2. Kelly*

            That’s the norm at the public university I work at as well. My office is so small that we don’t have a coffee maker and we don’t have the space for it. I usually fill up a thermos of hot water or coffee and bring them along. The one other person who does drink coffee makes several coffee runs per day. We both could pay to be part of the coffee club in another office but neither of us do.

        5. Mallory*

          In my first department at my public university job, the department didn’t provide coffee, so the employees had a coffee club ($0.50/cup). Then I transferred to my current department, which provides everything (coffee, half & half, powdered creamer, sugar, a variety of teas, paper plates & soup bowls, paper towels & napkins, plastic cutlery, and water service).

      2. Erika*

        That’s what I was going to say — K cups are really expensive — I would buy the other supplies, but have the coffee drinkers supply their own K cups. That $300 isn’t going to go far if you’re buying K cups.

        1. Penny*

          K cups are also so, so wasteful. Outrageous to use all that plastic and pay so much more simply so you can make a cup of watered-down coffee without the cleanup…? Just make regular pots of coffee, or get a single-cup coffee maker.

          1. Koko*

            I truly don’t understand the appeal of K-Cups. I have a regular 12-cup coffee maker at home. When I just want one cup of coffee, I just load two scoops into the filter and only put one cup’s worth of water in the back. There’s nothing requiring you to entirely fill up the coffee maker.

            I’ve worked for very small nonprofits with very tight budgets, they shelled out for a $30 coffee maker and kept the coffee filters stocked, and folks brought in their own coffee grounds of choice, so the ongoing cost to the org was almost nothing ($1 for coffee filters every several months). This also kept it affordable for employees who could just buy a giant tub of Folgers instead of having to buy K-Cups because that’s what the office machine requires.

            1. Rindle*

              I live by myself and drink coffee at home probably 2-3 times a week on average. K-Cups are much more efficient. I’ve thrown away 3/4 of a pound of coffee more times than I can count; it goes bad before I can use it.

            2. Emmy*

              I was an office manager is an office that switched to K-cups when they came out. The appeal was that folks can have their preferred coffee (dark roast, light roast, decaf, hazelnut), just like they have their preferred pens. And from my perspective, it meant people stopped leaving a pot of coffee on the burner all day. Ew!

              At home though, I think there are better options.

            3. Julie*

              I think you can buy reusable K-cup type of cups for use in those coffee makers. You just put in the coffee you like, close the top, and stick it in the machine. At least that would cut down on the waste of little plastic containers. And everyone could use her own coffee.

            4. Malissa*

              I don’t understand k-cups either. There are much cheaper options for instant coffee.

            5. Juni*

              In a big office that shares a kitchen, K-Cups are a good way to avoid drama – no one has to be in charge of picking out the type of coffee, no one is guilty of finishing the last cup of coffee and not brewing another, no one is wasting coffee, no one is letting the last dregs burn on the heating element, no one has to wash the machine, and no one blames the “other” department for being guilty of the above. It honestly increased the civility of my office by 100%.

              They make reusable K-Cup “cages” that you can fill with ground coffee, which some people do because they don’t like the taste of the ones brewed from pre-made K-Cups, which I get but don’t find disagreeable enough to switch.

      3. Meg Murry*

        Plus, once you buy K-cups for the coffee drinkers, others in the office might start asking for the K-cups for tea, cocoa, cider etc and it could get expensive quickly. Bottled water isn’t cheap either.
        If you regularly have guests in your office, then yes, having coffee, tea & water on hand is a good idea to have something to offer them. But I don’t think stocking up on these things just for employee use is going to be cheap by any means.
        That said, I would get a regular coffee pot as well, and some tea bags and cocoa packets. The coffee drinkers can make a regular pot of coffee, and the other employees can have their choice of (not very expensive) beverages. They can also bring in their own K-cups, if that’s what they prefer. If it were a bigger office and had any kind of vending machines, I would suggest looking into adding a K-cup vending machine (I’ve seen them at a few larger offices).
        I would also look into a water dispenser – either the type that takes the 5 gallon jugs of water, or a filter on the regular water over bottled water – that just seems like a wasteful luxury to me.

        1. Koko*

          We have a water filter/dispenser that is just hooked up to the water line. It’s great because it dispenses hot water for tea without need to operate a kettle or hot plate!

          1. Jessa*

            Those are the best. We didn’t have a water line one, we had a put-the-bottle-on-top kind, but it had a hot water button as well. I love when you can get hot from the tap enough to make tea with.

        2. Jessa*

          I can see buying the K-cup machine and that allows employees to bring their own stuff for it. It’s a little wasteful in terms of k-cups but it’s totally customised to what people want to drink, and I think the cups are recyclable at least. Possibly the company can provide a generic regular coffee and reusable cups, for people but really, the actual drink can be on the employee’s dime. And it’s far cheaper than a vending machine.

          At the answering service we had one and everyone had their own box of whatever they drank in their desks.

          On the other hand at GE when I worked there, they had one of those coffee/cocoa/tea vending machines and had it set to no charge. They thought it was worth it (I worked in the call centre so we talked all day,) and everyone liked it. The choices were pretty generic, plain coffee, black and green tea, and cocoa, and I think you could add vanilla flavour to stuff. But it wasn’t fancy brands and you could put your own plastic cup under it, otherwise it was those recyclable paper cups not styrofoam. And man they got annoyed if people didn’t rinse them and toss them in the paper recycle.

          1. Ros*

            Unfortunately, they are not recyclable :(

            This is the huge problem with so many workplaces having them. The waste is tremendous.

      4. Seattle Writer Girl*

        I used to order office supplies at LastJob and we spent $100/month just on coffee alone. That’s $1,200/year on coffee for an office with less than 30 people. Granted, we ordered expensive Starbucks coffee, but my after my 1 experiment with Costco-brand I was told by the CEO to order SBUX next time and every time.

        My mom, who worked for the government most of her life, said that at her office, they just do a monthly employee collection to pay for stuff like coffee, cups, plates, etc. Not ideal, but definitely a solution.

        1. Dmented Kitty*

          Where I work now (healthcare), we have a fairly well-supplied break room — two microwaves, two fridges, an ice/water machine, a 2-pot coffee machine, utensils, tea, coffee, sugar, creamer, and hot chocolate.

          Since my group likes to bring bagels and I like to bring bread for breakfast, I bought a cheap bread toaster from Target out of my own pocket and put it in the breakroom for everyone in our area to use (everyone loves it).

          So far there aren’t any drama with kitchen stuff, aside from the occasional “I filled the coffee pot and when I come back to get coffee it’s all gone” or that I usually end up knocking the crumbs off the toaster every once in a while (which I don’t mind since I find it oddly therapeutic).

          K-cups are definitely not for everyone. You have to assess how much coffee you drink per day. I’m not a K-cup fan, but I’m not a fan of the coffee at work, either, and the lack of creamers I like. But I’m usually a once-a-day drinker, so I usually brew about 6 cups at home, pour some in my own Thermos tumbler, mix it to taste, and take it to work. My husband is a coffee-snob and an addict (3-4 cups a day, at least) — and he finishes the rest of the coffee I leave in the pot. So it works for us.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      OP, there are adapters you can buy to use your own coffee in the Keurig. Saves money and the environment. A little more work for the employees, but it’s not that much work to fill the little cup thingy, and worth it for free coffee.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Also I feel the need to say you could also go to a second hand shop and find some utensils, plates, cups, mugs. Then people have to wash them, but also should be cheaper/better for the environment than paper & plastic.

        I’ll get off my soapbox now.

        1. JessB*

          I thought this too! It seems common in the US to drink bottled water, but I was aghast at the expense, the waste, and the environmental impact of bottled water, and disposable plates and cutlery.

          I don’t drink coffee (I’m a hot chocolate fan!) so I can’t really speak to that side of this, but I will say that I often see tea and coffee provided in offices, but no hot chocolate. I don’t mind- I just bring my own little tin of Milo!

          Anyway, please, please re-think all the disposable supplies, for financial reasons, if nothing else.

          1. Contessa*

            We have tea, coffee, and both regular hot chocolate and sugar free. It’s amazing.

            1. Meg Murry*

              I’ve noticed that the companies I worked for that provided the best benefits and treated their employees best offered free coffee, tea and cocoa. The worst places I’ve worked required you to buy your own coffee (vending machine) and the best places I’ve worked offered an array of choices. Sometimes, its the little things that say a lot.
              However, I don’t think companies that never provided these things need to all of a sudden start offering K-cups and bottled water – just regular coffee, tea bags and cocoa packets can go a long way toward making the day more pleasant.

        2. AHK*

          I was going to suggest this as well. It’s exactly what we’ve done in our office. Someone in the office (maybe even one of my colleagues) went to a thrift shop and picked up a bunch of mismatching (but sturdy) plates, bowls and utensils. Not a full set, but enough for us all to share.

      2. StarHopper*

        I use those adapters at home because of the expense & waste. They do cut down on that, but they also cut down on the convenience of K-cups, creating almost as much hassle (dump, clean, refill) as a regular coffeemaker. Then you have the conflicts of one person forgetting to clean out their cup so the next one has to do the gross work just for a cup of coffee. I just don’t think they’re worth the trouble in an office setting with more than a couple people.

        1. Elysian*

          ” Then you have the conflicts of one person forgetting to clean out their cup so the next one has to do the gross work just for a cup of coffee.”

          Yeah, for this reason alone I don’t think the reusable cup is a great solution for the office. People at my office can’t even remember to remove their used kcup when they’re done, they would never clean out the used ground coffee and wash the cup. If you want to use ground coffee, I would suggest just going back to a regular coffee pot. But I would keep the Keurig, in case people wanted to bring in their own kcups.

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            I guess the benefit of the Keurig is still the ability to do just one cup at a time, rather than having the pot of coffee sit there for hours, since there is only 2 coffee drinkers. Yeah, the re-usable cup is definitely not as convenient, but if you bought grounds and a re-usable cup, they can decide if they want to buy their own kcups or do the work for free coffee.

            Just trying to think of some less wasteful and less expensive options for the OP.

          2. Julie*

            I was assuming that each person would have his/her own reusable K-cup, so cleaning out someone else’s wouldn’t be necessary.

            I also have to agree with the folks who are suggesting having non-plastic dishes, silverware, cups, etc. that get washed and not thrown in the trash/recycling. My office has paper cups and plastic cutlery, but I only use it in an emergency – i.e., if I have forgotten to bring mine to the office. I grew up in southern California, so I’m very strict with myself (and others, if I can get away with it!) about recycling, reusing, and not wasting anything (especially water).

        2. Anonalicious*

          I’m the only one who drinks coffee in my house, except when my in-laws are visiting, so it’s totally worth it to use one of the adapter cups (I think ours are Ekobrew) and buy coffee to put in them. I have 3 so I can rotate and it takes me a few minutes tops to clean them out. If you have multiple people in a house that drink coffee, that might be a whole other story.

          1. Artemesia*

            My husband drinks espresso and has a regular espresso machine; I don’t. So I use a drip cone to make my one cup. It is very cheap; very easy; not as wasteful as the K machines.

    3. Kelly*

      I’d pay for the paper and plastic supplies, but not the coffee. It’s only a couple of people who use the k-cups and it would be a different situation if the majority of the staff used it. I could see the office paying for the coffee or the coffee drinkers giving some money to the office manager to pay for the coffee. If you live in an area with either a Sam’s Club or Costco, those would be good options for places to go to purchase supplies for the kitchen. Plus, you could also get other office supplies there like paper, pens, etc.

      I worked part time at a law firm before finding my current full time role. It was a good job with the firm buying pop, coffee, and kitchen supplies for the staff. The head attorney liked one company’s blend of coffee and would buy multiple bags about four or five times per year. He didn’t like the k-cups but the other attorney and most of the staff did, so he paid for them. I also worked at a local department store when I used my employee discount to get the k-cups for the office and was reimbursed for it.

      1. Robin*

        I agree on not providing K cups– we have a Keurig machine the office bought and everyone brings their own favorite K cups.

        1. Jen RO*

          Yep, this is how we did it at my last job and it worked fine. There was also a regular coffee machine with company-bought coffee. I don’t like the taste, so I bought my own K cups (or rather Nescafe Dolce Gusto cups).

        2. Kelly L.*

          We have this setup too. The machine belongs to the whole office, but everybody brings in their own K-cups. We trade them, too, and often somebody will leave an extra from their supply so someone else can try it. It works well because everybody can have exactly the kind of coffee they want, hot but not burnt from sitting out all day, exactly when they want it.

    4. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, I’ve never understood the appeal of the K cups in offices because they are pretty danged expensive.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        The coffee snobs at my workplace banded together and bought our own Keurig. That way we can each get the type of coffee we want. Each individual buys their own and has to take care of their own mug.

        There are a couple of “normal” coffee units and the company provides the supplies for those, so you can drink coffee for free. There is not, however, a water cooler. Most of the water drinkers have reusable plastic bottles and fill from the drinking fountain.

        1. Kelly L.*

          The larger workplace (of which my office is a part) has a filtered water fountain, which is pretty cool for the people who don’t like tap water. We fill the Keurig tank from that water too.

        2. Cat*

          My issue with them is that the coffee is so weak. I end up having to use two pods to make a serviceable cup and the amount of packaging in that is just sad.

          1. Bertie*

            Amen. As avid coffee drinkers, we received a Keurig as a gift and hated it. Nice thought from the giver; too bad the machine is a despicable product. Such an expensive machine, costly pods (even the cheaper knock-off brands), no way to make a decently strong cup of coffee (even after modifying the fill-your-own insert), lots of extra packaging trash created, and the leaky grounds mess was annoying as all get out. On top of that, there is no way to dump the water out of the inner tank for cleaning or storage…ick.

            1. anon-2*

              I just received one as a birthday gift.

              It’s gonna be someone ELSE’S birthday gift in a short period of time. I prefer Dunkin’ Coffee via a drip brewer …

          2. Kelly*

            I’ve used Keurigs at work and when visiting family and really don’t care for the coffee. I had to pretend to like them when I worked at a department store in the home department. I only really like the Starbucks k cups and maybe 2 varieties out of them. The interesting Sbux blends are seasonal and don’t get made as k cups. I think the packaging is wasteful as well.

            All of my dad’s sisters adore their Keurigs, but he wasn’t too impressed with it when he used it at Thanksgiving. Part of it was he didn’t like the tea k cup options he had – his sister didn’t buy the one Tazo brand tea he likes. I think that he knew that it would be an expensive habit with how fast he goes through a box of tea and my mother wouldn’t appreciate have her countertop space reduced.

      2. Elysian*

        I love the K cups – even though they’re expensive. I never have to worry about “Is the coffee fresh?” and I like to drink decaf sometimes – I can make my own decaf without subjecting the whole office to low octane. I get in before most of the rest of my office, and if we had a regular coffee pot I would most likely be the person brewing coffee in the morning anyway, so there’s the added benefit of not worrying about that.

    5. Liz*

      That was my thought too. Even buying a decent regular coffee may set you back $10 a month. I think we’re spending about $20/month on coffee, but we have about 7 coffee drinkers. (And we supply our own, taking turns buying.)

    6. Celeste*

      Keep the Keurig but only buy in bulk at Costco, etc. Get only one kind rather than trying to keep a variety on hand. If the two coffee drinkers want something else, they can bring in their own or chip in to have you get something else. I agree with others on the fill-your-own not being worth it in the office. I disagree with getting a coffee pot because they just die faster at work than at home, because they tend to be on longer.

      I would not cut out coffee, because it’s nice to offer to guests. I would also not stock cocoa K-cups, because you have to run several cycles of plain water to clean the needle. Cocoa would be packets only.

      Have you priced a water cooler? They’re nice because you can get a hot-water setting on the dispenser. While it doesn’t make the water boil, it gives you a big head start for using in the microwave. It’s also nice so as not to have lug in bottled water and deal with the recycling or trash. It’s a nice boon for those who like the water flavoring such as Crystal Lite or those drops.

      Totally agree with the mugs from Goodwill or the Dollar Store, if you want to get them all matching.

      I think creature comforts make a big difference.

      1. Koko*

        I actually love that the hot water dispenser doesn’t quite boil. It’s the perfect temperature to sip tea at. I feel spoiled by having instant just-right water at work when I go home and have to boil the water, pour it, and let it cool for a while before I can sip it!

    7. lachevious*

      I agree with the comments about how costly a Keurig can become, even with a reusable filter (which makes the coffee taste horrible imo)

      There are still regular coffee makers that will only release one cup at a time – that might be a better solution.

    8. happy its friday!*

      Our company boughtt the coffee maker but the coffee drinkers bring in their own coffee, creamer, etc. There are only a couple of coffee drinkers in the office so it seems fair.

    9. Sarah*

      This is very true, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more employees start drinking coffee when it’s free and available. The OP may want to consider buying a $20 Mr. Coffee and some cheaper (but passable) coffee, allowing employees to bring in their own k-cups if they wish. I think the costs could balloon fairly quickly otherwise, and providing K-Cups but then taking them away or rationing them will make morale dip lower than not providing them in the first place.

  4. Befuddled Squirrel*

    #3 – I’ve heard of intensely physical jobs having medical requirements. Obviously the military does, for example. I wonder what kind of job this is.

    1. FiveNine*

      Don’t know about the job itself, but it’s a family-owned business, which might be playing into this in several different ways (unfamiliarity with the legal guidelines, being afraid of potential health insurance costs, etc.)

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I’m guessing they didn’t know it’s against federal guidelines. They maybe are ignorant, maybe got bad advice from a non-lawyer. That’s why I wouldn’t lead with “I know this is against federal law”. It sounds….accusatory. I’d start with, “I’m not exactly sure why you are asking me for this information, can you please elaborate?” If they stick to it, then I’d point out that it is illegal.

        1. College Career Counselor*

          I would just like to say that we have a case where it was NOT legal. It’s a red-letter day!

      2. Jazzy Red*

        I have several posts here about my former workplace, which was a family owned and run company. They do tend to make up their own rules as they go along. It can be challenging to work for them, at least until they wake up and hire real business people to run the operation. Sometimes they never do.

    2. NavyLT*

      The military still has restrictions on who can see my medical record, though. There are a lot of things that require a medical screening, but all anyone besides the doctors gets to see is the form that indicates whether I’m medically cleared.

  5. A non*

    #2, why are employees asking for water? If the water from the sink is potable but doesn’t taste great you could provide an inexpensive water filter that might solve that request. please don’t provide plastic bottles of water for the sake of the environment.

    1. Rose*

      It drives my crazy that my work does this! Everyone used to keep a cup at their desk, but now we buy bottled water, so no one bothers.

      1. Julie*

        My office had a very weird situation about the water. They provided cases of bottled water that were delivered to the pantries on each floor, and anybody could take what they wanted. Then, official-looking signs showed up in the pantries, right above the stacks of cases of water, pleading with people to use the tap water and NOT use the bottled water because of the waste and negative impact on the environment. I assume there were two camps of higher-ups who were disagreeing about the water and couldn’t come to an agreement, so they both did what they thought was right. It was so odd!

        In the new office building we have now, there is a filtered cold water dispenser that is connected to the municipal water supply, and the refrigerator dispenses cold water and ice (cubes, crushed, etc.).

    2. Elizabeth*

      My thought too! Or if people like cold water, get a Britta pitcher or two and keep it in the fridge. Individual water bottles are so terrible for the environment.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      Most offices I’ve been in don’t provide bottled water, but some type of filtered water from a cooler. I have a feeling that is what is being asked for.

      But yeah, with a handful of people, drink from a tap or splurge for a brita as others suggested.

    4. BRR*

      This is what I was thinking when I read the question. We have a countertop water filter thing and it’s great. My office keeps paper cups next to it though and it kills me how many people use a paper cup every single time they go to get coffee or water. That can easily be 5 or 6 cups a day per person.

    5. Rebecca*

      I thought they meant the 5 gallon water jugs with the hot and cold spigots. We have those at work. We don’t have a sink in the break room area, and the water is potable, according to EPA standards, but it smells like Clorox and looks cloudy. We wash our dishes in the bathroom sink, and if we want dish liquid, we have to buy it ourselves.

      As for the coffee, we use the old fashioned Bunn coffee pots and buy bulk coffee packets at Sam’s Club. Much cheaper than K cups!

      Now if someone could figure out a way to make the next person make coffee when it’s low, instead of leaving a tablespoon to fry fast in the bottom of the pot, that would be progress.

    6. Windchime*

      This is what we do at work. The tap water doesn’t taste good in Job’s city, so they put a filter on one of the kitchen taps and now it’s fine. Before the filter, I bought a pitcher with a filter and would fill that daily and keep at my desk.

      Now I just need to break my Talking Rain habit. I like the water but feel guilty about the bottles.

    7. Sarah*

      I once worked in an office where literally no one would drink tap water under any circumstance, except for me. The tap water was perfectly good quality, it just seemed to be a regional thing to believe tap water is poisonous (some wouldn’t even allow their pets to drink it). We originally had a water cooler with those 50 gallon jugs, and when we ran out of refills before the next delivery, people would literally sit around getting dehydrated and complaining about the company denying them access to water instead of drinking some water from the sink. I just drank from the sink and they probably thought I was so disgusting (after all, I have lower standards for my drinking water than their dogs, apparently). We had to get a water filter installed because of the morale hit between refills.

      Anyways, the point of that was to say that the employees may literally not understand that tap water is potable and be demanding bottled water for that reason. My coworkers were happy with the water filter (though it didn’t taste any different and I have no idea if it even filtered anything!) though, so that’s a good solution.

  6. Aussie Teacher*

    #2. It might be more cost-effective to buy proper plates and cutlery that can be washed and re-used, rather than constantly shelling out for disposable plates/cutlery. Lots of places offer bottled water but I don’t consider it a necessity if the tap water is drinkable in your area… more of a perk then. If the coffee cost is going to be prohibitively high (as Chrl268 already pointed out above) then I think it’s reasonable to expect employees to bring in their own K cups, especially since there are only 2 coffee drinkers and they are presumably already doing it. You could also investigate cheaper options (plunger/perculator and instant coffee?)… Disclaimer: I’m not a coffee drinker and realise that many people would rather have no coffee than low-grade stuff… just trying to find a middle ground :)

    1. Purple Dragon*

      I’ve never heard of a company offering bottled water before. And I work for a company that supplies coffee, tea, milo, 3 types of milk, sugar, honey, a variety of bread, jam, vegemite and peanut butter, as well as cups, glasses, plates, cutlery, toasters, microwaves, sandwich makers and fridges ! I’ve got it good but still no bottled water. We do have one of those tap things that does filtered cold water and boiling water (for the tea and coffee)

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      +1 to reusable

      We used to supply plastic forks, spoons, Styrofoam coffee cups etc, but cut that out years ago. It’s just wasteful.

      I was the worst offender of a new plastic fork and spoon every day and then in the trash. Griped my head off when they disappeared and then, shockingly, I adapted.

      Just say no to bottled water.

    3. Rebecca*

      I bought an inexpensive dinner plate, sandwich plate, and matching bowl to keep at my desk, and brought a tea cup and saucer from home as well for when I want tea. Plus, I have a reusable insulated coffee mug, steel water bottle, and a set of real silver plate for utensils. As I use things during the week, I wash/rinse them and dry them off with my dish towel (also from home), and on Friday I take the utensils, coffee cup, and water bottle home for a good scrubbing and bring them back on Monday.

      I’m all for reducing waste, and as a bonus, I don’t feel like I’m at a picnic every time I eat something at work. It just feels more civilized to me.

    4. Anonypants*

      “It might be more cost-effective to buy proper plates and cutlery that can be washed and re-used, rather than constantly shelling out for disposable plates/cutlery”

      Cost effective? Yes. A good idea? . . . I’m unconvinced. I’ve heard so much garbage about people not washing their dishes, people having to wash other people’s dishes, it just seems like a mess waiting to happen. Literally.

      1. Windchime*

        I keep my cutlery, plate and mug at my desk. I wash immediately after each use and then tuck them back away in the drawer. So the only things I have to care about are my own.

        We have a picture of a dog licking a plate above our sink and the caption says, “Please wash your own dishes; you may not like how we do it.” Also, any dishes left unwashed at the end of the day are thrown in the trash, so that (apparently) cured people of leaving dishes in the sink.

        1. Laura*

          Yep! But if the policy is “leave them and we throw them in the trash” but the office supplied the dishes, there’s no incentive for the messiest people to wash, and every incentive for whoever has to handle the expenses to end up washing/demanding someone wash others’ dishes, when you’re talking about office-supplied items.

          Well, the same incentive as always – the goodness of human nature – but if that worked by itself, throwing out dishes wouldn’t be necessary as an incentive either.

        2. LD*

          We had a similar process for the refrigerator at my former employer. The weekend cleaning crew were instructed that everything in the refrigerator got trashed…leftovers, cans of Pepsi, Tupperware containers, salad dressing bottles….if it was in the refrigerator or freezer compartment when they came in on Friday night, it was disposed of. People adjusted and learned not to leave their stuff over the weekend. It helped prevent the “science project syndrome” of old yogurts and leftovers breeding for weeks or months before the smells encouraged a purge!

      2. Koko*

        I think in an office of 8-10 you can hold people responsible for dishes. The disgusting messes happen when the office gets so large that nobody can figure out who the dirty dishes bandit is and shame them for it.

    5. ChiTown Lurker*

      I love the idea of reusable tableware. However, I did not like the reality of being assigned kitchen duty. So, after that little fiasco, we decided that disposable wasn’t that bad. However, we are encouraged to bring our own reusable tableware.

      We get free coffee, tea, cocoa and filtered water. The company also subsidizes bottled water. Although our water is potable, the suburb where we work failed a water quality test for radium. It is in small quantities but it is not recommended for children under 5 or for people with compromised immune systems.

  7. Harley*

    K cups for 2 coffee drinkers is an insane waste of money. Bottled water sounds ridiculous, too. We have 50 employees, and our kitchen has a cooler that dispenses cold and boiling water, and there are a few varieties of instant coffee and a box of tea bags.

    1. Rose*

      Maybe the rational behind the K cups is the serving size? A full pot is kind of a lot for two people.

      1. Koko*

        But you don’t have to make a full pot. That’s why there are markers on the pot for 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 cups, and per-cup serving information on the coffee grounds. You just add the amount of water and coffee that you need.

        1. Jamie*

          My husband has been telling me this for years – but I don’t know how to measure the grounds, then.

          I’m not a coffee drinker at work because I hate K cups because they taste weird to me, but I see why it makes sense for only two employees if they will drink the K cups.

          Coffee that’s been sitting out for any length of time – for me it’s about 10 minutes – isn’t drinkable. Way too bitter and some undefined bad taste. Using the normal coffee maker to make 1 cup every time one wants one is a pita and takes too long. So if they like it then K cups, or a french press, is the best solution.

          The expense even if more than the OP stated is still minimal – and if the cost of coffee for 2 (and a selection of tea) people is a financial issue for the company then there are much bigger problems than what to drink.

          I just think coffee, tea, water – napkins, some paper plates/plastic silverware is not a lot to ask of a workplace. I’d be wary of any place where this was even a conversation.

          1. Andrea*

            I couldn’t stand coffee that had been sitting and warming for more than a few minutes, either—until I got an electric percolator. Seriously, it’s amazing. I have a Farberware one; I’ve had it for 8 years. (I clean it out with Dip-It once a month and it looks brand-new.) Use the coarsest setting for grounding the coffee, fill the pitcher, wet the basket, put in the grounds, throw the lid on and plug in. It perks, then it switches to warm and it stays HOT with no burned or stale taste. It’s like magic. I’ll never, ever use a drip coffee maker again.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I always thought that perked coffee tastes better- probably because it goes through the grounds repeatedly?
              A friend feels it is lower in acidy stuff.

    2. Jen RO*

      When you say cooler, do you mean of those things that have a 10-gallon bottle of water on top? I assumed that’s what OP meant.

      I do know of places that offer actual bottled water (in 0.5 liter bottles), but that’s pretty unusual.

      1. Harley*

        No- not that kind of cooler. It’s a machine hooked up to the water supply- with a press of a button you get either boiling water, or cold water (and I believe the water goes through a filter).

  8. KayDay*

    #2 Kitchen supplies: Some offices provide coffee, some don’t…it’s really up to you and the boss (well, mainly the boss). All of the small-ish offices I have worked for have provided reusable cups, mugs, silverware, and glasses; sometimes they bought them, sometimes people donated their own. They also provided dish soap, sponges, and paper towels/a drying rack. Also, most the offices I have worked for have also provided water-cooler water (my city had bad tasting water and the potability was often questioned as well due to possible lead).

    For 2 employees, I don’t think K-cups are worth it, but maybe providing a small-ish coffee pot is? Or buy the machine, but tell them they need to get their own capsules? BTW, having some sort of coffee making device is generally a good idea so that you can offer coffee to guests.

    1. Andrea*

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about the small coffee pot. That seems reasonable to me. Those k-cups are so awful for the environment and they’re pretty expensive. I understand that they are convenient, but making a small pot of coffee doesn’t take long.

      And I’m on board with a water cooler. I would never buy or drink bottled water, but I do like those dispensers with the cold, filtered water. I think that’s a reasonable thing to ask for, too. I drink lots of water (I use reusable metal bottles; put me down against paper plates and plastic utensils, as well), and I like it cold. But a water filter in the fridge would be fine, too. These are not outlandish requests, and I wouldn’t want to work for a place that hesitated to provide these things.

      1. Jamie*

        I’m with you – and I don’t even drink coffee at work anymore, but I wouldn’t want to work for a place that didn’t supply coffee, tea, and hot/cold water from a cooler.

        It’s such a common place thing I’d be concerned about the mindset.

        And I know the environment aspect is an issue, but if they go with reusable dishes they need to have the policy for keeping the kitchen clean written before they get the dishes. Because for some reason this is the bone of contention in so many offices and a sink full of dirty dishes attract bugs and it’s just gross – and people who don’t leave a mess shouldn’t be subjected to that.

        And if you are an office which is regularly sprayed for vermin you need someone to deal with the dishes before and after or close them off – whatever – so no one get sick.

  9. Reader*

    #2 – The problem I have always had with free coffee at the office or conferences and the like is that not everyone drinks coffee. Doesn’t everyone else deserve free drinks, too? I’m more of a tea drinker but do drink coffee in certain circumstances but my husband doesn’t like either and will drink soda instead. I can get free beverages and he has to pay. Doesn’t seem right to make some pay for their caffeine while the rest get theirs for free.
    Having k-cups actually helps with this problem and the one of how to make the coffee (I don’t make coffee for the office as I’m terrible at it). Give the coffee drinkers reusable filters and let them bring in their own (favorite) coffee.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      I loathe the environmental impact of K-Cups, but damn if tehy aren’t convenient from time to time.

      I think OP would be safe also putting out an assortment of teas.

    2. Anonypants*

      Not necessarily. I subsist on energy drinks, and while I often fantasize about the day when my office starts stocking the kitchen with my fuel of choice, I’d never expect it. It’s good of an office to provide free caffeine in one or two ways people normally get it – usually coffee and tea – but if people prefer to get their kick in a different form, it’s up to them to buy it themselves.

      1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        Just being a devil’s advocate here, because I would never do something so ridiculous, but I don’t drink coffee or tea for religious reasons. So the company is providing a benefit that, due to my religion, I am excluded from. Could a person more vindictive and/or sue-happy have a valid discrimination claim?

        1. Us, Too*

          I am not a lawyer, but I don’t see how. The company is offering identical benefits to all. You may choose (or not) to use them based on your personal preferences, religious or otherwise.

          Now, I think you’d have a case if the company said that only x religion could have health insurance, or they only gave raises to y folks or promotions to z folks. But just because you refuse to use a benefit based on your religion, you are not being discriminated against.

          1. Jamie*

            Exactly this. The employer isn’t the one deciding you can’t partake – that’s your choice. There is no discrimination here.

            Regarding the options and the comment above – it’s not about caffeine because every office I’ve worked in that does coffee/tea (and that’s all of them) also have decaf. Offering coffee and potable water is custom – tea also ime but not sure if that’s everywhere. Available to anyone who chooses to partake.

            It would be a logistical nightmare to make sure everyone has their beverage of choice to be all inclusive. That’s like saying if my employer buys a birthday cake for a coworker and I don’t like cake they are obligated to go and get me a muffin so I have something. And a fruit salad for Jane, and a smoothie for Wakeen who is on a liquid diet but wants to celebrate, too.

            As long as it’s being offered to everyone there is no obligation to make sure everyone is pleased.

    3. Koko*

      Tea is good to offer alongside coffee, and possibly cocoa packets, because all of those things cost pennies to the gallon to provide. Sodas, energy drinks, frappucinos, are an order of magnitude more expensive. It’s not that some have to pay and others get drinks free, so much as it’s that the office only provides the cheapest drinks for free.

    4. Programmer 01*

      Our office is sorta weird, because the city government is responsible for some of our financing we have weird restrictions on what can be offered free and what can’t. Tea is free, fruit is free (we have fruit bowls everywhere but nothing goes to waste, at the end of the week the last forlorn apples are made into apple crisp), milk and cream and sugar are free. Coffee is dispensed from an industrial pay machine, and vending machines have soft drinks and fruit juices. We also have water coolers and direct-line filters that do cold and hot water.

      Interestingly enough, in terms of taxes, coffee is considered a “necessity” and has a lower tax than tea, but I think the government considers tea to be healthier and that’s why it’s free but coffee isn’t. I don’t even know. We’ve all figured out how to trick free coffee out of the machine and since it hasn’t been fixed in 3 years I’m pretty sure the office operations team knows about it.

      Most people bring their own stuff in or donate stuff to shared kitchen areas (half my tea stash went there) and a lot of people also bring in their own cases of soft drinks and leave one in the fridge to chill because it’s cheaper. Part of the company welcome package is a mug and a water bottle, and the city is in an incredibly restrictive zone regarding recycling vs waste (50% of all outgoing office waste must be recyclables and appropriately sorted) so no paper plates or plastic cutlery lets us meet that really easily.

  10. Elysian*

    #3 – I think this request would also violate GINA, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, because its pretty likely that your medical records contain your family medical history. So, lots and lots of problems with this request.

  11. Amy B.*

    #5. If you are laid off and receive unemployment compensation, you will most likely be required by your state to apply to a minimum number of jobs per week. And if one of those jobs if offered and you do not take it, it is likely your compensation will be cut off. It’s not a paid vacation. YMMV/state laws differ.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Yeah, this is where I’m wondering what the OP is thinking about in terms of this situation. She wants to be a stay-at-home mom, but also collect unemployment? That doesn’t make sense because UI assumes you’re trying to find a job. You don’t collect it so you can survive until husband gets a job and then stop so you can launch your real plan of staying at home. That seems fraudulent to me.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        +1. I had someone work for me once who asked on a regular basis if she could be laid off. And her motivations were always very shady – she wore them on her sleeve and had no qualms sharing them with people. I really hope that the OP isn’t doing what this person was trying to do.

        If the OP wants to stay at home after her maternity leave, great! We are lucky as women to live in a time where this now becomes a CHOICE instead of a requirement. But if it’s a choice that is made, you are sacrificing certain things, like an income. If the timing is perfect, maybe the OP can get some layoff benefits for a couple of months, but UE shouldn’t even apply.

      2. Andrea*

        Exactly—using unemployment benefits to fund your stay-at-home parenting/lifestyle choice is wrong. I hope that’s not what the OP was getting at, but it kind of seems like it. And really, that’s not a good lesson for kids: “Mommy is lying to the government but it’s okay, she just wants to stay home with you!” I really hope I have it wrong and that this isn’t what the letter writer meant. I feel for her, in any case, since her husband is getting laid off, and maybe she’s feeling desperate. But volunteering to be laid off seems like a really bad idea. In any case, I would urge her not to lie and not to try to use unemployment benefits fraudulently.

        1. Pregnant Mommy*

          I’m sorry I reread everything trying to see from a different perspective. I am not trying to manipulate my way into unemployment to stay at home. I am trying to sever myself from the company and with the hopes of receiving unemployment to ease the bill burden while I am on the hunt for a new career. When i mean stay at home I mean that I will be finishing my schooling and looking for a new job and I enjoy the thought of being around my children during this time.

          1. Andrea*

            Okay, thanks for commenting and clarifying a few things. I’m glad I was wrong! And best of luck to you. I hope things get better for you and your family soon.

      3. Pregnant Mommy*

        I was the one who was asking the #5 question

        I am not looking to be paid as a stay at home mom (although that would be nice) This company, once project ends, can ship me and my family to anywhere in the united states or around the world and this also means staying in locations that are isolated and so remote that I worry about my children as I will be working from sun up to sun down (hubby included) and we will never see our children other than when they are asleep. With the birth of my second son I am looking to settle down and start a new career path in a different direction.
        The reason I would like to volunteer is because I need to know a plan on where we are going. Where we are currently situated (because of me being tethered to this job) means stressful and not so healthy home life for my young son and hubby due to my income not being enough to make a household even with hubby’s unemployment.
        My intent is not to be fraudulent and that is why I am asking this question…it is stressful, My hopes was to make a clean break from the company, packing up the kids and hubby, and moving with family to where hubby can find a job. I currently live in a location of less than a 5,000 population so hubby is trying but there is nothing within anything reasonable that will pay our bills AND the childcare that we will need once he is working again.
        I appreciate the responses with honest opinions.

        1. annie*

          I don’t think you are being unreasonable to assume that if you are laid off now, it is unlikely you will be hired for another job until after the baby is born especially considering you are due in a few weeks. The internet is full of pregnant women asking questions about how to interview/get hired when they are clearing showing late in pregnancy, so despite our personal dreams of a equality-filled utopian world, realistically you will probably not get a job in the next few weeks.

          Obviously you will be searching during the time that would be your “maternity leave” but I do not think you are doing anything fraudulent especially considering the project will be ending soon anyway. I had a friend who was in your position – she was a medical employee who did some physical work and actually was forced out against her wishes very late in her pregnancy (yes, illegal, no, not worth the trouble of the lawsuit). It was unlikely that anyone would hire her for the last month or so knowing she’d immediately have to take off for the birth of the baby, and she knew it. She was on unemployment for a few months and found something when her baby was a few months old so it worked out well timing-wise. I’d just caution you that you might not be as lucky to find something new so quickly.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      “It’s not a paid vacation.”

      + about 100

      I had to subsist on unemployment a couple of times during my career, and it’s no picnic. OP, don’t volunteer to take a layoff. If your employer provides maternity benefits, hang on to your job as long as you possibly can. With your husband out of work, you won’t be able to pay your baby-related bills even if you are on unemployment. Later you can decide if it makes sense for you to stay home with the kids.

    3. Colette*

      Also, if the OP’s husband was recently laid off, she should be thoughtful about whether they have the financial cushion to have both of them out of work for an extended period of time.

    4. AcademicAnon*

      It depends on the state and whether this is a union job. If it’s a union job and the person maintains their union membership during unemployment, that’s considered looking for work, as the union can call this person up to work for another company. Depending on the union they also require employees to pay into a “bank” which pays for medical insurance during unemployment, so the state isn’t paying for that via Medicaid or something else. Also in construction it’s not unusual to be unemployed for 2-6 months every year due to the seasonality of the work, and with the recent recession that time frame of actual work and/or number of people working has gone done, so more people in this field are collecting unemployment.

    5. Koko*

      You know, I totally missed that. I was assuming she wanted to take a layoff in order to get a severance package from her company that could help defray some of the initial baby costs in the first few months she’s home, not that she intended to stay home collecting unemployment from the government.

  12. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – I’d do them all except the bottled water. That’s just terrible for the environment and completely unnecessary if you live in a place with good municipal water.

    You can get much of this at Costco – the k-cups, forks, etc.

    I’d do it. It’s a small price to make people’s lives a little better.

  13. OP #3*

    Regarding #3: This is a well-established company with 2000+ employees. The position is office based (no physical job requirements), but they do frequently hire for positions with physical demands. They haven’t asked me for anything yet, but they clearly state they reserve the right to: ” I authorize the company to secure my medical information, if needed and I authorize my doctor and other health care specialists or providers to release any and all of my medical records and information.” Does this mean they are asking for the ability to access my medical records at any time, not just as a condition of hire?

    1. BRR*

      I am not a lawyer but it sounds like they want to be able to access them at any time. But I would think you need to authorize it through the doctor’s office, not at your employer.

    2. KerryOwl*

      Last week or so Jamie talked about crossing out portions of contracts she wasn’t willing to sign. If it’s in there because it’s a boilerplate contract, but not actually applicable to the position you’ve been offered, maybe you can do that. If they object, at that time they can tell you why it needs to be included.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      Don’t do it – don’t do it – don’t do it! It is none of their business! Once your hippa protected medical records are in your company’s office, confidentiality goes out the window. Among all the people who will be able to see your records will be at least one person who just *has* to share this information with their bestie. It could end up all over the company. Even if they fire the first person, your information is still “out there”.

      Either talk to them right away about deleting this from your contract, or cross out the offending verbage as suggested below. And initial & date it as well.

      (You can probably tell that I don’t trust anyone anymore.)

      1. Kerr*

        FWIW, the OP may want to check their state’s laws on crossing out language in a contract. If I’m remembering correctly, some states require that *both* parties initial and date the changed language on a line-by-line basis for it to be valid. And yeah, don’t sign it as-is – that sounds incredibly over-reaching and invasive.

    4. Helka*

      I’m with Jazzy Red. Your doctor is required to observe HIPPA but your employer is not; once they have this information, it is no longer at all secure.

    5. OriginalYup*

      I agree with Alison’s advice to push back with a polite inquiry about why they want it. One thing that came to mind was insurance. Some businesses require a health evaluation before they’ll offer you life insurance through the company. But even that sounds different that what you’re being asked for — the life insurance thing happens *after* someone’s accepted a job, the results don’t affect your employment, and it’s just a one-time physical exam (not a full review of your medical records).

    6. Sigrid*

      As someone who works in healthcare — do NOT agree to this. Under any circumstances. You would be willingly waiving your HIPPA rights and handing over confidential information to someone who has no legal obligation to observe confidentiality. You also have no reason to think that they wouldn’t use the information contained in your medical records to treat you differently — there might be circumstances where you should be covered due to disability being a protected class, but a) you have no reason to think this employer would actually follow those laws; and b) there are plenty of ways in which they could treat you differently based on that information that probably wouldn’t fall under disability protection. DO NOT DO IT.

    7. chewbecca*

      This wording also sounds like they want to be able to access your health information at any time during your employment. There’s nothing to stop them from checking with your doctor about any medical absences that you may have to make sure they’re legit in the company’s eyes.

      I think the reason this came to mind from me is all the posts the other day about employers asking personal questions about an employee’s health.

    8. Anon4Now*

      Hmm. I’m wondering if the company is a large family-owned hobby and decor business. No need to answer that, but considering that such a business is currently seeking to limit the kinds of health care it is obligated to cover under its health insurance plan, I would certainly be careful signing anything authorizing it (or any other employer, for that matter) to look at my medical records.

  14. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-Why lie? If it ever comes up, which I highly doubt it will, just tell the truth. Exhausted and overslept. If work wasn’t impacted, then I really doubt that it will ever come up. But you should do an internal check on why being willing to lie was the first reaction.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Agreed, I have to wonder if the OP just feels this is the best way to stay out of trouble as a general life rule she has or if she works in an environment where oversleeping is tantamount to murdering someone thus she’s trying to avoid the wrath of her employers.

      1. Clinical Social Worker*

        Yes, I’m sensing that this person feels this might be a good idea because they’ve had to do things like this before in order to avoid a tongue lashing, either from childhood or from a previous job. People who feel the need to hide very minor mistakes are people who were often hurt very much over minor mistakes in the past.

      2. chemrocks*

        Nope im #1 and I work for a company that is small and highly micromanaged. Missing my flight wouldnt cause me to get fired but the owners seem to keep a running tally of minor mistakes. Its a very opressive environment. I would just rather not deal with the “uh and why did you miss your flight?” attitude or have it come back on me should I be late to work in the future.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I completely get that. Basically, you’re in an environment where it’s not safe to tell the truth. Been there and I really do feel for you.

    2. Steve*

      I think if it didn’t impact anything work related I would go with “I missed the flight so I just paid the change fee and got home later that day.”

      Now if it did impact getting to work on time upon arrival, but didn’t affect any deadlines I think I’d probably say “Hey boss, I’m so sorry I missed the flight this morning – it was just a crazy morning but I was able to pay the change fee and get here later than expected. I hope that’s okay and I’m sorry again this happened.”

      Missing the flight AND missing deadlines requires a lot more explanation and honest communication about why it happened and what you will be doing in the future to prevent it – and then REALLY living up to that. But I think if there was no real impact I wouldn’t necessarily volunteer WHY I missed the flight. Never lie at work to cover a mistake, but I also don’t think that it is always necessary to give more information than the situation calls for.

    3. Artemesia*

      You don’t even have to say you overslept. People miss flights all the time for lots of different reasons. ‘I missed the flight and so booked a later one and paid for the difference.’ More detail is really not needed. People don’t leave enough time; they misjudge the traffic; there are lots of reasons besides being asleep for missing a plane. ‘I missed the flight.’ is enough info.

      1. annie*

        Yes, and lots of times when it isn’t even their fault! I left for the airport once THREE HOURS before the time I needed to be there because I knew DC traffic was very bad, thinking I would just shop and have dinner at the airport. We got stuck in a terrible traffic jam related to an accident and I ended up running for the gate, despite planning in multiple hours of cushion time. Another time, there was some kind of problem with the security line and I ended up stuck there waiting in a very slow line for an hour for seemingly no reason – it was airport-wide so they were holding flights and we made it. Things happen during travel.

    4. Us, Too*

      OP – if it makes you feel better, I’ll share my story. :)

      I was in London with my boss for a business trip. We were taking separate flights back to the US. The night before I was to leave, I checked my departure time, and confirmed a cab to pick me up 4 hours in advance for my noon departure. I hate being late and wanted to be very sure I got on that plane. The next morning, I arrived at the airport at 8:40 am or so, congratulating myself that I have ample time to check in, grab a cup of coffee and a leisurely breakfast and do some reading before my flight. Ahhhh, relax.

      I strolled up to an agent to check in and was shocked to my core to hear that my flight leaves in 20 minutes and that I’m unlikely to make it. My flight departed at 9 am not noon! I to this day have absolutely NO IDEA how I looked at a piece of paper that said 9 am and read that as noon, but I did.

      I paid the rebooking fees of $350 and despite the fact that every flight that day out of London was oversold, I fortunately managed to get in on a standby flight many hours later. (On the plus side, I had a lot of time to enjoy breakfast (and lunch! and shopping!) at the airport after all. LOL!)

      I’ve NEVER missed a flight and was absolutely mortified, so I just didn’t mention it to my boss. Don’t ask, don’t tell. Months later we were casually chatting and she mentioned missing a flight on her vacation. I felt comfortable enough to confess what happened and we both had a good laugh. (In fact, she encouraged me to file for reimbursement of the $350 but I refused).

      This, too, shall pass, OP. :)

      1. Elizabeth*

        My sister once showed up at the airport after her flight had already left because she misread the price of the flight for the time…

      2. LD*

        Me, too! A few years ago I overslept because I set my alarm for 4 p.m. instead of 4 a.m. when I had an early flight to catch. When I woke up and realized I was going to miss my flight, I called and the airline was super helpful at that time. The rep told me to just go ahead and get to the airport and explain to the agent what happened rather than try to rebook over the phone. I did and they were able to get me on a later flight and didn’t charge me a change fee. Not sure that would happen today…

  15. Lyndelamos*

    Kitchen supplies, I wouldn’t do it. It’s a waste of time and money. Staff people will be required to inventory, order and listen to people squabble about what kind of product to have on hand. I think it’s enough to provide a kitchen space with the appliances. People should be bring their own utensils. I keep a little stock on hand in my desk. K cups, extra utensils I wash and reuse (not plastic), tea bags with sugar. I have my own small container of milk and I appreciate having a fridge to maintain it. And I carry water in a thermos that keeps water cold/cool. Sits on my desk and I drink from it throughout the day. I filter water from my tap with a Brita at home, fill the thermos, carry it to work.

    You can always use some funds to do treats or food theme occasions as morale boosters.

  16. Calla*

    2. With only two employees who drink coffee I don’t think the office should have to provide that (but a coffee maker and mugs are nice), but everything else is very standard and appreciated. Every office I’ve worked in has supplied as least napkins, cups, and plasticware.

    I recently started a new job that had just expanded to a second office, and while the first office has a full kitchen with supplies, the new building has a small fridge and that’s it. A couple times I have grabbed a yogurt on the way in but forgot to grab a spoon, because I’m so used to those being available in the office, and then I get to my desk and go “craaaap” (fortunately the first office is on the same block, so if you really need something you can just pop over). It’s an inexpensive way to make the employees’ lives a bit easier!

  17. Poohbear McGriddles*

    #1 – Unless taking the later flight caused you to miss something at work, I doubt they’ll care since you paid for the change yourself.

    Otherwise, if they do ask just say that you were having a good time in Mexico and wanted to enjoy it a little longer. Which is true, even if the part you were enjoying was REM sleep.

    1. Colette*

      I would not recommend that the OP say she was having a good time in Mexico – that’s not why she was there, and it certainly isn’t a good reason to miss a work meeting (if that was a consequence of getting back later). If she just got back later in the evening and it didn’t affect her job, I can’t imagine anyone would even ask.

    2. Mike B.*

      That would sound a little weird if the change resulted in only a few more hours in Mexico.

      But there are any number of completely unverifiable, plausible, innocuous reasons why a person might miss an international flight; I’d simply go with “I missed my flight and took a later one” rather than inventing a qualitatively untrue story. If he presses you for details, say you misunderstood how to set the hotel alarm clock.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        That was my thought as well. No need to invent some dramatic lie that you may get caught in later. The OP may also want to specify that they paid the change fee themselves.

  18. Helka*

    1. Missed Flight

    Why do you have to give your boss a reason you missed the flight? If you’re asked, just say “Yeah, I missed my flight, so I had to take a later one.” Traffic happens, delays happen, it’s not unknown.

    3. Medical Records

    Do not agree to this. In fact, depending on your circumstances (re: how desperate you are for this job) this is something that could genuinely be a dealbreaker if they insist on it. Your medical history is personal, private information. Alison pointed out they can have concerns about specific health issues, but even that is a very different can of worms than them getting access to every cough, sniffle, and sneeze you’ve ever had.

  19. Jess*

    #3- It’s interesting that this is against federal regulations, considering the federal gov’t requires you to provide a full medical history of any mental health treatment to obtain certain levels of security clearance. OP, I feel like in your shoes I would have balked at the request.. maybe b/c it was a small, private company and it just seems overly intrusive for basic hiring purposes? Yet I never had an issue at providing that kind of info for federal background checks. I’m not really making a point, other than I find the double standard that exists in my own head rather interesting.

    1. NavyLT*

      I think the difference is that, for one thing, the people doing the background investigation aren’t your (future) employers. It’s also part of a legitimate screening process for a clearance. I don’t think the two situations are really the same.

    2. Elysian*

      There are a lot of changes in the works actually regarding the mental health aspects of the security clearance process.

      Like NavyLT said, too, when your job requires a mental records check (like for the military or police, and for security clearances) it isn’t usually your first line supervisor going through your bloodwork results and reading your doctor’s notes. Someone else does that, usually, your employer just gets “cleared” or “not cleared.”

    3. Anonalicious*

      There are a lot of things that do not apply to the federal government but that the government applies to everyone else. It’s completely unfair and unfortunately just how things work.

  20. Persephone Mulberry*

    #2 Kitchen: The feasibility of reusable dishes depends on the breakroom/kitchen setup – the suite I’m working out of right now has a fridge and microwave but no sink. So unfortunately we are all disposable, all the time, except for the communal can opener. Our company provides all the usual paper goods: plates, bowls, cups, silverware, paper towels; a 5-gallon cooler; and instant coffee (they used to buy regular coffee but nobody ever used it because it meant going down the hall to the public restroom to wash out the coffeemaker). We order our kitchen supplies in bulk as needed from Staples alongside our regular office supplies.

  21. Anonypants*

    2. The offices I’ve had have provided various amounts of kitchen supplies. Some provide the bare minimum, others provide almost anything an employee might need, including free snacks and soda. While I know the free refreshments shouldn’t ever be expected, I’ve always been super grateful for them. It’s always made me happy to go into the kitchen and see bags of Cheez-its or Cape Cod chips. And I realize they’re not healthy, but I don’t see the harm in having one junky snack per day if I’m eating mostly healthy meals and snacks.

    Also, plastic silverware can be a godsend when I forget to bring a fork or spoon for my lunch. Seriously excellent.

  22. Cruciatus*

    Coffee is available in our small cafeteria…but you have to pay for it yourself. My company also owns a coffee shop in the area and if you are seen with, say, Starbucks, you will not hear the end of it. One woman came in with Timmy Ho’s and got a talking to. At the end of the day she had a coffee shop mug on her desk from the place the company owns.

    And about utensils…I bring my lunch from home but needed a fork and knife and went to the area the food was being served to get some. The cafeteria lady (who is notoriously mean) yelled at me. I once took a salt packet from the condiment area and she followed me and told me it was $.15. Yet I could use the salt shaker for free. I mean, MY GOD!

    It’s these little things that drive me crazy about this place. Don’t nickel and dime the plasticware! (But I do think getting fancy coffee for people isn’t necessary. Regular coffee is one thing, but those K cups are pricy. Wasting a cup of regular coffee is probably still cheaper over time than those K cups).

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    #2-In my office we all chip in for the kitchen supplies. And the ice cream supply. But I work for state public uni. We’ve even bought our own toaster ovens and microwaves. You go to costco to get your own stuff and grab a thing of plates or bowls.

    I would say that if the office has never provided these things then there is no cause to do so now but if it did in the past then pony up the money. I would tell the coffee drinkers to bring their own k-cups. Those suckers are expensive and for only 2 people.

  24. Mike C.*

    I just want to add something to the completely invasive and out of line request for medical records.

    You might think “I have nothing to hide”, but what about in the future? What happens when you have diagnostic testing, are you going to be comfortable with your bosses calling up your doctors on their own and getting/spreading the results of your tests before you even know? What about more embarrassing medical conditions?

    You know, I know folks here give a lot of deference to “bosses who just don’t know the law”, but at some point that deference needs to stop. Why would an owner believe they would need the unrestricted right to your medical records for an office job? Why do they believe that is something they are entitled to as a condition of employing you at a higher position within the company?

    This isn’t a reasonable request, there is no business need for this information, it sounds nothing more than the owners wanting to keep their thumb on their senior employees. How many other employees have signed away such rights not knowing it was illegal?

    1. Laura2*

      Yep. The fact that this would cross their mind as something that belongs in an employment offer would bother me.

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      I worked for a place where one of the owners was a dentist, and we were required to share our dental exam results/bills with the company. I guess he wanted to make sure they were getting their money’s worth, since they paid for the insurance? This was pre-HIPAA and I wasn’t aware if it was legal or not at the time, but it sure felt…invasive.

  25. NavyLT*

    #1 – The easiest way not to get caught in a lie is… not to lie. And if you’re worried your boss is going to chew you out for missing a flight, it might be time to look into getting a new boss.

  26. unsan*

    The last 2 jobs I’ve had we’ve had to bring our own “supplies”. I’m not sure expensive coffee and bottled water should be considered essential office supplies….

  27. arjay*

    #2: I’m fascinated by the reported practices at so many different offices, so it sounds like the answer is to just decide what’s reasonable/affordable for your office and proceed.

    I’ve spent 20 years in Fortune 500 companies, and my experience has generally been that they supply coffee, tea bags, sugar, powdered creamer, and filtered water. For kitchen supplies, there are paper towels and dish soap. Everything else – napkins, plates, utensils – are brought from home by the people who use them. My current company does provide each associate with a reusable travel mug, but no other cups.

  28. Meredith*

    Rescheduled flight – I had to do this once, too. I never mentioned it (paid the change fee out of my own pocket), and it never came up. If it doesn’t affect anything work-related, I think you’re fine.

    Kitchen supplies – My office (small academic department) has a tiny kitchen area. Utensils and dishes are not provided, although there are some orphan implements that can sometimes be scrounged up. Everyone brings in their own stuff – I keep a set of camping utensils in my office for when I forget to bring them from home. We do have a Keurig and I think there may be some sort of pool for those who use it, but I brew my coffee at home and bring it to work in my amazing Nissan Thermos. I think it’s a courtesy to provide a few supplies, but maybe not the K-cups for the few people who drink coffee. If you have a sink, please consider getting re-useable dishes – but be prepared for a few slobs that won’t clean up after themselves and leave their dishes for someone else to do.

    1. Meredith*

      Oh – I wanted to mention that my office had a problem with some people leaving their dirty dishes in the sink, so we put up a sign saying that any dishes left in/next to the sink on Fridays would be thrown away. And then acted on it. Problem solved.

  29. chemrocks*

    I am letter writer #1 and I wanted to clarify because many are asking why it matters. I missed the first flight of my own fault. Just didn’t hear the alarm. Rebooked and paid the fee myself. That flight really did get canceled (which is how I later thought to just say that) I was refunded the rebooking flight and put on the next flight. That one was delayed 3 1/2 hours. By the time I landed I had missed the last connecting flight to my home town. The airline comped a hotel room and meals. Got home the next day 24 hours after I should have originally been there and yes that caused me to miss work.
    Maybe at a different company everyone has a laugh and moves on. My work is horribly micromanaged by 2 owners and a guy they hired as operations manager to micromanage whatever they happen to miss. The owners are notoriously punitive and tend to let little things effect their judgement of their employees especially the salary workers (which I am). And the OM is unprofessional and talks bad about people to other people (he once told everyone in my dept that a lady in another dept was a loud mouth b*tch who he was going to make sure lost her job after she disagreed with him). I am not exaggerating. Its a small company so no HR. So I know that they will act crappy if I missed my flight. All I wanted to know is if airlines can legally notify a 3rd party about a persons flight because they paid. Just so I know my options.

    1. NavyLT*

      Trust me, the airline’s not going to contact anyone about no-shows. The ticket’s paid for; why do they care whether you used it?

    2. LizNYC*

      In this case, I wouldn’t lie, but I wouldn’t volunteer the information later. They can tell that the flight was canceled based on the records. And they’ll see that you’re back in the office or you can say “I caught the later flight,” but not mention HOW you caught the later flight (since the airline would be rebooking you anyway). Problem solved.

      As an aside, for your sake, I hope you’re looking for a new position! That work environment sounds…less than desirable (been there!)

    3. Observer*

      I agree that you should be looking – yes it’s hard, but still…

      There is no reason I can think of why an airline should NOT be able to notify the person who paid for a flight that the ticketholder missed the flight. On the other hand, I can’t imagine them reaching out to do this, although they could very well provide the information if they get asked. The thing is, though, that flight cancellations and delays are public information, so even without someone calling about your ticket in particular, they could find out whether the flight you claimed was cancelled really was cancelled.

  30. chemrocks*

    So far I was able to get by with texting the OP about vague flight troubles and the owners left for vacation so hes been busy handling that. However a friend told me hes already commented to someone “that I was probably drunk on tequilla and missed my flight” which shocked me cause it is completely untrue and tried to pass off ideas for the company that I came up with on the trip as his. Now im worried he will say these things to the owners when they get back.

    1. Observer*

      A lie is the worst way to handle something like this. If your boss does ask, then just say “Yes, I missed my flight. No, I wasn’t drunk or hung over.”

      If you have someone who is trying to get in trouble this way, it’s extremely easy to find out if the flight was cancelled – and it gives him ammunition to prove that you are lieing. At that point, you have zero credibility to refute any other claims he makes.

  31. chemrocks*

    LizNYC thanks. Its a pretty toxic work environment everyone here is pretty miserable. The money is fantastic and its hard to find anything comparable right now. Ive got 2 small kids and my partner is trying to finish his degree so im stuck for now.

  32. Observer*

    #1 Do not ever try to lie to make yourself look better. It’s going to come back and bite you one way or another. If the workplace is so toxic that a one time missed flight, whose cost you paid for, is a major issue, start job hunting. If it’s not a one time thing, or you think you need to look perfect, these are issues you need to deal with (each one in a different way.) But, I agree with the others – you don’t have to get into details of how you missed the flight. TMI.

    #2. Does your site have drinakble water? (I mean really drinkable, not theoretically). If not, you really need to supply something decent. I don’t mean “evian”, but something basic stuff. I would absolutely skip the K-Cups, as they can add up very quickly and it seems to be an extra privilege for the coffee drinkers. But basic supplies – cups, plates, and basic cutlery should be provided. Not doing so is a foolish economy with lots of negative repercussions. Some way to get hot water would also be good – the coffee drinkers can make themselves coffee (even if they can’t get their k-cups) and it’s useful to lots of other people as well.

  33. Ed*

    For #1, the cover-up (if caught) is always worse than the original screw-up. You’ll get in trouble for the screw-up but will often get demoted or fired for the lie. And I’ve had several times where I screwed up big time, voluntarily came forward and my manager or customer just said they’ll drop it because I was honest. But mostly, you should do it because it’s the right thing to do and how you would want to be treated if you had employees reporting to you.

  34. LD*

    Regarding the medical records thing, I’d recommend refusing till you had more details about who has access and why they want the information. I can say that I know some organizations offer (require?) executives to have a thorough health examination annually as part of their succession planning and contingency planning process. My father had that as one of his benefits (requirements?) in his job. The company paid for the exam and I don’t know what kind of report they got. And if you recall, the president of the U.S. gets an exam every year and some of those results are made public and get reported on the news. So I guess there are some jobs where it’s not so out of the question. But it’s not common.

  35. AcademicAnon*

    #5 There have been some posts about what the OP is doing is wrong, but I don’t think it is because I don’t there it’s her fault, she’s trying to make the best decision for her. The OP’s position is an economic and political problem. It’s a economic problem, because construction is typically not a 12 month/52 week/40 hours a week schedule and those employers don’t pay people to being essentially being on call for weeks or months out of the year. It’s also an economic problem because of the non-regular work, keeping insurance coverage is an issue, which the ACA doesn’t seem to have fixed. It’s a political problem because people can’t live off the federal minimum wage, and unemployment pays more. It’s an economic and political problem with no federally mandated paid parental time off. And it’s an economic and political problem that due to the non-regular work some of those people don’t even meet the requirements of FMLA so they can’t use that either. (And some em0ployers make sure some or all of their employees will never meet the requirements of FMLA.)

  36. Tropicool*

    #1: Myself and my coworkers travel frequently. While I have never missed a flight, many of my coworkers have overslept and missed theirs. A one time slip up is no big deal. A pattern of oversleeping for 6am flights is an issue.

  37. Juni*

    OP2, is there a reason you don’t just meet with your team and say, “I have $300 to spend on this stuff this year, please draw up a plan and a budget together” – ? Let them tell you what’s important to them, problem-solve to come up with cheaper solutions, increase buy-in.

Comments are closed.