negotiating pay when filling in for a maternity leave, bankruptcy cooties, and more

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

1. Should I say something about my coworker regularly bringing her granddaughter to work?

A part-time work colleague has started bringing her granddaughter to work regularly. It isn’t a huge distraction, but I don’t think it’s very professional. Her granddaughter doesn’t stay for just an hour, she stays her for most of the day. Truly, I do get that childcare is hard to come by (I’m a working mom and have run into my own fair share of childcare nightmares), but this is becoming a regular thing, and no one is addressing it.

I’m not this employee’s supervisor. We just work in the same office and collaborate on several projects. Her granddaughter isn’t a huge distraction. She’s a quiet, sweet girl who doesn’t cause a ruckus. My only concern is with professionalism. Should I bring this up to her manager?

Is there any chance her manager doesn’t know but would care if she did? If so (like if the manager works from a different location), then yes, it’s worth mentioning. Or, is part of your job to think about and manage the way this stuff can look to others? (For instance, this could be the case if you have clients or reporters visit you at work regularly and think it looks unprofessional to them, or if you’re part of your organization’s management structure and thus charged with caring about things like this, or so forth). But if neither of those things are the case, since it’s not impacting your ability to get your work done, I think it’s not your issue to deal with.

2. Negotiating pay if I fill in during my manager’s maternity leave

I’m in an entry-level role at my company due to a poorly-executed career change, so I’m older than the colleagues at my level. Recently, the manager I’m working with was told by her doc to go on early maternity leave, which leaves her post open for about 6 months. I have been asked to take over during this period.

I’m excited to have this opportunity but am concerned about a few things. I’m on contract so I know they will not change my job title. When I asked for increased compensation, they said they could only provide periodic bonuses and would get back to me. Tomorrow, they will likely share details on the amount and frequency. I know for a fact that my manager makes at least $70k more than I do. The team is saying I should use this as a chance to prove my capabilities, and that they may convert me to a permanent role once my contract expires.

What would you recommend I do? If I’m reading this correctly, they’re going to low-ball me on the “side” bonus and promise (not a written commitment) a renewal later. The opportunity itself would be a good learning experience, but I’m tired of being undervalued. Apparently I can still turn this down, but another manager in the group would then have to take this on. I can also say goodbye to a permanent offer in that case.

Well, it’s very unlikely that they’re going to pay someone currently in an entry-level role anything even approaching $70K more. They’re also probably not expecting you to do your manager’s whole job; rather, they’re probably expecting you to just keep the basics running and fend off crises — which is a very different thing.

If you’re willing to take on the work, I’d try to get more than what they offer you right off the bat if that offer is low (but assume you won’t be able to get a ton above the initial offer; that just doesn’t tend to happen in cases like this), negotiate clear goals for the time period you’re filling in, and look at it as an opportunity to majorly build your resume and parlay it into something else afterwards (either there or somewhere else) — which, given what you say about your career change, might be worth far more than a few months’ extra pay anyway.

3. Employer wants my Social Security number before I’m even interviewed

I was recently contacted by a company that previously declined my job application. They have changed the description and my qualifications are now a match. They are a well-known firm. My problem is that the hiring manager scheduled a phone interview and sent an application and consent form (credit report) and asked that I fill them out and send them back ASAP. That requires my Social Security number. Shouldn’t she wait until she conducts the interview and face to face interview before asking me to give her my personal business? I will not give her the information unless I receive a job offer. I’m not sure how to articulate that in an email without sounding standoffish. Help please?

“I’m really excited about this role, but I’ve been advised not to give out out my Social Security number until we’re at a stage in the process where it’s necessary for a background check.”

You may need to give it out before you get an offer; it’s necessary for some (but not all) background checks. But they certainly don’t need it before an interview, and they shouldn’t be doing credit checks unless you’re applying for a job that deals directly with money. (Also, note that 10 or so states explicitly ban credit checks in employment.)

4. References when you’ve been a freelancer

I’ve read a lot of your posts, being in the second round or so of interviews, and it’s time to start worrying about references. You mention often that it is a red flag when candidates’ references don’t include any managers. What I’m wondering is how freelancers deal with this.

I’m in a field that’s very small, specialized and somewhat incestuous, and it consists of a lot of freelancers and very few full-time staff members. I’ve freelanced for several years and am fairly respected for my work. But it does mean I don’t have a manager, and thus I don’t have any people who’ve managed me who can serve as references. This isn’t as much of a problem in my experience when interviewing for jobs within my field, because everyone knows what the deal is — but the other thing about my field is that it’s in poor shape, perhaps permanently, and eventually I might have to leave it. How do I go about this?

Yeah, this is different when you’ve been a freelancer for a while. When you’ve been an employee, not being able to give manager references is a red flag because it raises obvious concerns about why you don’t want an employer talking to any of your past managers. In your case, though, you simply haven’t had past managers — different situation. Instead, I’d explain the situation and offer the clients who worked with you most closely.

5. Bankruptcy cooties

I’m a recent grad applying for work. While I was in school, I was working full time in administration and sales, for a small retail environment. Sadly, the company went bankrupt about six months ago. I took the opportunity to focus all my energy on finishing my degree, including taking a semester abroad.

I’m working on a cover letter for a fast-paced organization and find my skills aligning with the job posting. Some of these skills are things I developed as a direct result of my former employer’s bankruptcy — switching hats rapidly, and covering complex duties on the fly. Would it be weird to discuss that experience in my cover letter? I’m not worried about “bankruptcy cooties,” for lack of a better term — the job is public sector.

Not weird at all. It could even potentially get mentioned on your resume, in the context of explaining work you did.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 206 comments… read them below }

  1. Student*

    #1 – If there are security-type problems with having external people around all the time, then you should also bring this up to a manager. There’s a reason that most businesses will not just let completely random people sit in the hallways quietly all day.

    I have no idea how old this grandchild is from your letter. However, children can easily wreak havoc on a business’s internal network security merely by downloading popular stuff on the internet and playing games or watching movies online quietly in the corner.

    There’s also information security. If things get discussed in your workplace that you don’t want to see on Twitter, you shouldn’t say it in the presence of a tween. She could easily repeat information with little concept of how it will be perceived to outsiders, or she may exaggerate a minor issue on social media for the sake of attention and accidentally cause your business serious trouble.

    If you work in a place like a library, where there is a general-public area, I can see this being a non-issue. If you work in a professional office environment, this seems like trouble waiting to happen.

    1. Anon*

      It could also be an insurance risk. What if the girl got injured somehow at the workplace? Where I used to work a part time worker who used to hang around for hours after he worked was told not to for that reason.

      1. Artemesia*

        While this may be a problem for the business, it is not a problem for the OP. I agree with Alison that this is not her issue unless it interferes with her getting her job done. I totally agree with the OP that it is inappropriate and I would have felt the same way, but sometimes you need to sit back and let the people whose job it is do their job or not.

    2. Colette*

      These are all possibilities – but they’re not the OP’s to manage. She could point them out to her manager, if she believes they are issues, but that’s as far as I’d go.

      I actually wonder whether more of the issue for the OP is that she’s doing the appropriate thing in arranging other childcare, but her colleague is just bringing a child in to work. That’s completely understandable – I’d be annoyed, myself – but it makes it harder to bring up except in the context of asking what the policy is and whether the OP can bring in her children on occasion.

      1. Student*

        In places where information security is a concern, it is the concern of every single employee. Otherwise the information does not stay secure. How do you think massive data breaches occur? Often, only a handful of people have screwed up.

  2. Rat Racer*

    #1 – there have been several posts recently about children in the workplace, which leads me to conclude (confirm) that we’re seeing a few converging trends: more women entering the workforce, slow wage growth that requires incomes from two working parents to support a family, few high-quality affordable options for childcare. All of these factors are blurring the lines between worklife and homelife, and consequently, work shows up in the home, and kids show up at the office.

    I’m not in any way advocating bringing children to work. But I know that many parents (and grandparents) can find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place when a kid’s school is closed, when daycare falls through, etc.

    I agree with Alison that if this child is not affecting your productivity, and it’s purely a matter of principle, then you’re better off taking the high road and just letting it be. As a working mom, you may have been in that rock/hardplace sandwich and had to make a tough choice because you couldn’t bring your kids to work, and it must feel unfair that this co-worker is sliding under the radar.

    But if you do speak up, and you end up wreaking havoc for this family, will that make you feel better about the injustices born by working moms? I don’t think it will.

    Better that we figure out policy solutions so that the next generation of working moms doesn’t have it as bad as we do.

    1. Clinical Social Worker*

      This is very well put. I personally don’t like kids in the office, but if the kid is not impacting anyone’s work then it seems like no harm no foul.

      If the kid became a disturbance, I’d then try to talk to her about it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You took the words right out of my keyboard.

        I can kind of understand OP’s concern about professionalism. But OTH, no one I know is totally professional all the time. There are days where I want to shake my computer monitor like it’s an Etch-a-Sketch because I cannot figure out another way to fix something that is wrong. I don’t think this is professional on my part. But there it is.
        I don’t like to open that door of discussion about professionalism because it will only come back and bite me later on. OP, if you are going forward to put in a complaint about someone’s lack of professionalism I would make very sure that it was a solid complaint. I have worked with people who are embezzling, stealing, falsifying documents and other disturbing activities. Argumentatively, one could say I have grown a tolerance. I do know that when you put in a complaint that it can and does come back to you later. Please make sure it is worth it to you.

        1. Michele*

          I agree. Kids are not my favorite thing in the office but I also think about the times that my single mom had to leave us at home alone when we were sick or didn’t have school while she went to work and have a lot of of sympathy for the parents doing it on their own. It’s hard. As long as they are well behaved and don’t get in the way. Suck it up.

          I have also flipped off my computer when it was not cooperating so I am definitely not professional all of the time!

        2. #1 OP*

          I don’t think I’m going to end up saying anything to her manager. He is very removed (both physically and mentally), so I doubt he would do anything about it anyway.

          I do feel for her. Finding safe, reliable, and affordable childcare is very difficult. Her granddaughter keeps to herself while she is here, and really hasn’t been a huge distraction. If her manager has a problem with it, I’ll let him deal with it.

          1. Camellia*

            Does this mean her manager is not on site and does not know she is bringing the child to work?

              1. Arbynka*

                So he does not managing much does he ? I don’t know, knowing that this arrangement was not approved by manager sits kinda funny with me. I am not againts children in the office, especially if they are not a bother but I do believe one should have an OK from management on this – unless of course a company wide policy is in place, which I do not think it is the case here.

                1. Zillah*

                  Well, just because he’s in a different part of the building doesn’t necessarily mean that he didn’t approve it – OP, can you clarify whether you know that no one has approved this? It’s not clear to me from your letter.

                  Regardless, though, I think that you’re probably right not to get involved.

                2. Arbynka*

                  Good point, Zillah. I assumed the no in OP’ s answered ment manager did not know child was being there hence he did not approved it.

        3. Laura2*

          Yep. I get kind of annoyed with the “it’s not professional” argument because it often seems to be used against things that don’t really affect other people/the business/their ability to do work (and may even be well within the normal workplace policies), they just don’t like the way it looks.

      2. GrumpyBoss*

        +1. I really do not like children. What I like even less is parents who force me into conversations with or about their children. So I’m sure you can figure out which side of the “kids in office” I sit on.

        But in this case, the OP seems to think it isn’t impacting her work, and even finds the child well behaved, so I think, why make a stink about it?

    2. NylaW*

      I think you are dead on with this post. If it’s not bothering you, or the employee’s manager isn’t so separated they would have no idea this person was bringing a child to work, then it’s not really the OP’s place to say anything. And I completely agree with what you’re saying about the blurring of lines and work-life balance being a factor along with the cost of childcare. That’s something I don’t think a lot of people think about.

    3. Trillian*

      But how is transferring the onus of providing child care to coworkers – which is what this frequently amounts to – going to advance policy any more than leaving it on working parents and their families … as has happened for the past 2 generations?

      Every workplace should have a policy, because otherwise what’s liable to happen is what’s happening here – a quiet, well-behaved, low-distraction child is tacitly tolerated for a day, two days, then becomes a fixture without anything being said. Until something happens – an accident, someone bringing in a child who is a distraction – and a reactionary policy gets put in place that prevents even reasonable accommodation.

      OP#1 could, without outing her coworker, ask what the policy is on having children in the workplace, if she does not already know. If there is one, her colleague needs to know it, so she doesn’t wind up getting into trouble at what is probably the worst possible time.

      1. Joey*

        That’s misguided though. What’s the purpose other than wanting to police the behavior of others? Look, even when there are rules rules are meant to be bent and broken when doing so is better for the company. So even if there’s a policy someone could very well determine that having employee there is of far greater value than sticking to the policy. And that’s going to make you look bad if your only reason for raising the issue is on principal.

        1. #1 OP*

          I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that allowing a child come to the office regularly is benefitting the company.

          Honestly, her granddaughter doesn’t bother me. She keeps to herself and doesn’t really distract me. I don’t think I’m going to end up saying anything to her manager. Although he is removed, and I don’t think he has noticed (this employee only works Tuesdays and Thursdays), I would rather just keep out of it instead of getting anyone in trouble.

          1. Lisa*

            My last director would bring her son into meetings, client calls, etc. He would whine in the meeting, and play videos on a laptop during a call. Leave the kid in the office, its 5 feet from the conference room and you can seem him. 10 year olds are ok by themselves for 30 min. But my director who was only listening in the call, vs. participating didn’t need to be physically in the room for this nor did her kid who was super distracting unlike this girl.

          2. Adam V*

            > I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that allowing a child come to the office regularly is benefitting the company.

            The idea is that, if the employee is unable to find child care, if the only remaining options are a) the child comes to the office or b) the employee has to stay home, then in (b), the company is deprived of the work the employee would be otherwise able to accomplish, so that’s the “benefit to the company”.

            Now, the company can certainly say “sorry, you need to arrange child care; if you can’t do that and you have to stay home, we’ll have to find someone else who can be here”.

      2. Bluefish*

        #1: I’d be concerned on how this will affect morale/perceived fairness for other co-workers. If I’m a parent and pay for child care, I might get kind of annoyed that this co-worker gets to bring the kid in and I can’t. It’s not really a precedent I would want to set with one worker. What happens when another person decides they can bring in their kid too be because the other person is? I wouldn’t go down this road, and I think it’s worth bringing up. You don’t want others becoming resentful.

        1. Motley*

          That’s how I saw it too. If it is becoming a routine occurence, it’s a fairness issue.

        2. Joey*

          Instead, why not just approach it as a benefit or perk you weren’t aware of. ask if you’re in a bind if you can bring your kid also.

          1. Bluefish*

            Yeah, but OP says this is becoming a common thing, not that the person brings the kid in when she’s in a bind. I have no problem with kids in the office when the parent is in a bind or there’s an emergency or something. It doesn’t sound like that’s the case here.

            1. Zillah*

              The OP also says that the employee only works two days a week.

              I don’t know – I don’t have kids, but I can definitely see a situation where childcare falls through and an employee asks permission to bring their grandchild to work as a stopgap until they can figure something else out/the situation changes naturally (which it may well do once summer arrives). If the kid is quiet and well-behaved and there’s no security reason not to have them there, I can see an employer okaying it.

        3. C Average*

          I think you’re right about this being a legit concern, but I wish you weren’t right! I really get tired of alleged adults moaning about unfairness every time people aren’t treated identically.

          I have a colleague who has small kids and appears to have a flexible schedule, based on the times I see her in the office. I assume she’s worked that out with her manager and don’t assume I have the same privileges.

          I have another colleague who hasn’t been in the office for some time, though she still has a job. I assume she has something personal going on and has made arrangements with her manager. I don’t assume I can just stay home because she does.

          Workplaces have and need rules, sure, but they also accommodate a huge variety of personalities, life circumstances, needs, etc. Sometimes good employers make arrangements with individuals that are outside the norm. It would be nice if people kept their eyes on their own papers when this stuff happens. Can’t we all have some empathy for others’ situations without the perpetual “but I’m not getting mine!” concerns?

          1. Bluefish*

            I agree with your point that people should not be focusing on “John gets this, why don’t I?”. But I still think this situation would not be a precedent I would want to set for any employee. Child care issues can be (I imagine, I have no kids) seriously tough to figure out. Additionally, I feel like one should have dependable, regular child care set up. Again, I think bringing kids in when in a bind/every once in awhile is fine! I just wouldn’t want to touch something that was occurring this regularly :). But again, OP is not the supervisor so maybe my point is moot.

            1. Laura*

              Should, absolutely! What do you do if your day care center closes?

              One in my home town closed recently. Every other day care is flooded…and they were already really busy. They simply cannot take all the kids. They do not have the staffing level required. In many cases they don’t have the space.

              If the only problem is staffing, not space, they can eventually add staff – assuming they get enough kids in like age range that they can adjust groupings and have it work. (There are different staff requirements, by state regulation, depending on the age of the children. Also different certifications!) And of course, they have to background-check and otherwise do their due diligence on anyone they might hire. So even “staffing up” is not instantaneous, unless they have part-timers who have wanted to go full time.

              Some day cares – especially the good ones – have waiting lists. Rather substantial ones. I got my firstborn on a waiting list for our current one when I was about 5 months pregnant…because if I waited until he was born, he might not have had a spot when I had to return to work at the end of my FMLA leave.

              When a stable day care situation falls through unexpectedly, back-up plans that are viable, safe, affordable, etc., may be very hard to line up quickly.

          2. Jamie*

            I do wish the mindset of not policing other people’s deals with their managers was more common.

            I am so tired of some people complaining that Jane left early, or Steve came in late again. Maybe they have some PTO, maybe they don’t need the PTO because the boss okayed it due to a ton of good will OT lately, maybe they work a flexible schedule because of a deal they cut with their boss.

            Someone used to comment that I “come and go as I please” and my boss set her straight explaining that the night before I didn’t leave the office until 10:30 pm and that I work from home a lot. Pissed me off that it was explained, I don’t know why the boss felt she needed to justify my hours to someone else – she should have told her to MHOB.

            She doesn’t do it with me anymore, but she watches everyone else like a hawk and has something to say about everything that isn’t “fair.” Well, she’s non-exempt and so gets paid OT and never seems to notice when her exempt co-workers work 10, 11, 12 hours for no additional cash. But God help you if you leave an hour early – she wants to know if they had to use PTO. No one tells her, but she still asks.

            Sorry – just so sick of the particular thing right now. People need to keep their eyes on their own papers unless stuff impacts them.

            1. Bluefish*

              Totally agree with this school of thought. I just think this situation rises to a different level. But maybe I’m over estimating this paticukar situation.

              1. Jamie*

                I’m not saying the manager shouldn’t be concerned about setting a precedent – they should. Also it would be understandable if someone were to ask to bring their kid in because of this grandmother – hence the concern about the precedent.

                But the co-workers imp shouldn’t worry about it on principle or due to how it looks – that’s where the fair/not fair thing starts to grate.

            2. LBK*

              This drives me bananas. I’m so glad I work in an office where for the most part, everyone keeps their eyes on their own paper when it comes to hours worked.

            3. Angora*

              When someone is so busy worrying about what others are doing; than they do not have enough to do.

              I know what my comment would be … “If you have so much free time to worry about what I’m doing , than you must not have enough to do. I’ll let Steve know you have a few hours to spare to help with his filing.”

              Usually shuts them up. We had someone like that… I took her job when she moved into another position. She thought she had the right to critique everything I did … when I first worked there I had to jump on her to leave my desk alone. She would reorganize it. She had boundary issues. I mentioned it to my boss, that I thought Carolyn had too much free time if she was so focused on me. Her workload increased immensely. She was one of those individuals that had to be kept busy or she would stir up everyone in the office. Increase the workload and that cuts back on their disturbing others.

          3. Motley*

            Feeling slighted just because you aren’t getting exactly what someone else is getting is not a productive path to go down in the workplace. It does not seem like that’s what’s happening here though. OP said, this is becoming a regualar thing and no one is addressing it. Routinely bringing a child to work is a potential distraction to the workplace and a legitimate fairness issue. I don’t think the OP is overreacting here or calling something unfair just for the sake of it.

            1. #1 OP*

              It’s true. I wasn’t. :)

              I actually hadn’t thought about fairness at all. I just threw in the “I get that finding childcare is hard” statement so people didn’t think I was just ragging on my coworker without any sort of perspective of how difficult it actually is.

            2. Zillah*

              But does the OP know for a fact that no one has addressed it? Unless the coworker has explicitly told the OP that no one knows/has addressed it, I’m not sure that’s a correct assessment of the situation.

              OP, please understand – I’m not calling you a liar. I’m just pointing out that if you haven’t explicitly been told that, there’s no real way of knowing what the coworker has worked out with management, right?

              1. Lisa*

                Ha, I would ask for that same consideration now that summer is here. Can you ask your manager about bringing your kid to work sometimes since your coworker is doing it? You might as well be able to save a few bucks on babysitting 1x a week for a few hours if others get too.

              2. #1 OP*

                I don’t know for sure that her manager hasn’t addressed. But knowing the manager, I can almost guarantee it.

              3. Angora*

                Hate to say it .. but I would be the one to tattle to the manager because I so do not like kids in the office. One day I would keep my mouth shut, Day two my mouth will open up. It sounds like she’s taking advantage of the fact that the manager is not physically present in her work area.

            3. Zillah*

              Just a further thought – I’m not sure that I agree that this is a “legitimate fairness issue.”

              What’s fair and not fair is a hugely loaded concept, and one that I don’t think is always helpful. If this situation is not affecting work output – and it doesn’t seem to be, from what the OP is saying – the idea of telling her coworker she can’t bring the granddaughter solely on the basis of it not being fair to other people whose children/jobs make this less feasible seems a little messed up to me.

              To draw an imperfect analogy:

              If Jane’s work requires that she be able to regularly attend meetings and interface with coworkers and clients, it may not be feasible for Jane to work from home. However, if Mary’s work involves a lot of individual work analyzing data or working on the company website, it might be possible for her to work from home twice a week.

              Similarly, if Joe works as a receptionist, there’s likely not a lot of room for flexible hours – he has to be there during regular business hours. However, Adam, who works in the IT department, might be able to negotiate a 7:30-3:30 schedule that works with his children’s school schedule.

              Should Mary and Adam be denied these things – which do not impact productivity at all – because it’s not fair to Jane or Joe, who don’t have the same options? I’d come down on the side of no.

              They’re not perfect analogies, but my overarching point is that I don’t think that focusing on something as a “legitimate fairness issue” is really always reasonable.

              1. Jamie*

                This is such an amazing point and one I’ve made over and over irl.

                I have seen companies where because the receptionist can’t work from home then no one can because “it’s not fair.” As Joey stated upthread fair =/= equal – it has to be about what makes sense for the position.

                When I show up at 2 am to get the servers back up after a power outage I don’t call the receptionist at home to meet me here – but is it fair that I have to be there while everyone else is still sleeping? Yes, because it’s my job.

                I just love when others get this.

          4. NoPantsFridays*

            I’ll agree that workplaces should work around different life circumstances. And I agree that people don’t need to be treated identically for it to be fair.

            But, IME some people get theirs a lot more than others. I have seen people arrive late and leave early several times a week because they were picking up / dropping off their children at school. It’s perfectly OK and I assume it’s been cleared with their manager. The person could well be working from home in the evenings. That’s no issue. Moreover, it would obviously make no sense to give identical treatment to someone without kids.

            However, I’ve seen non-parents be denied even the slightest consideration in other family situations, like needing to leave an hour early once a month to drive an aging relative to a (planned) doctor’s appointment. Or to take an ill spouse to the hospital (not planned). I don’t expect that non-parents be given identical treatment, but “analogous” treatment would be fair. And a non-parent is just as capable of working at home in the evening, or otherwise making up the time/work, as a parent.

            I’m in neither of these situations, as I don’t have kids or aging relatives whose care I am responsible for, and I really have no need for personal time off (thankfully). So it doesn’t bother me either way — I have no dog in this fight. But I’ve noticed this trend where employees who don’t have children don’t have ANY leeway to deal with *their* family emergencies. This is straight up unfair.

      3. TheSnarkyB*

        But Trillian, what you’re bringing up here is clearly different from what the OP is talking about- it’s hardly related to the letter at all.
        In this case, the onus isn’t being transferred to the coworkers. And in this case, it is not OP’s job to make sure the coworker “knows the policy.” No one likes that person in the office. If it isn’t her job and isn’t affecting her work at all, she doesn’t need to worry about it. Nor is it wise to focus on this far-fetched “what if” situation regarding an accident and a reactionary policy, because if you have to stretch it that far into hypotheticals for it to directly relate to you, it isn’t any of your business to begin with.

    4. AnotherAlison*


      As a mom with kids who are at stay-at-home-alone ages & a husband with a flexible schedule, work life is pretty good for me, but I still want to support others when I can. (After all, I just spent 5 minutes text messaging one kind about making frozen waffles. Not getting some family creep into work life is very difficult.)

      1. Jamie*

        I’ve yet to have a job that was more important than waffles. Even bad waffles are pretty damn good.

        And now I want a waffle.

        But I agree, as a mom with kids old enough that this is no longer an issue, I still want to be supportive whenever I can because making it easier for people to do their jobs well only benefits the company and no bleed through is an impossible goal.

        How that manifests in reality is wholly dependent on the situation and the individuals.

    5. Anonathon*

      I’m not sure that I agree. I do wonder whether this could simply be a case of unclear company policy. Say, OP assumes that she can never bring her kids to work (because it’s not explicitly stated) and her co-worker assumes that it’s no big deal (for the same reason). And it’s problematic for morale to have varying understandings of such a major issue. Childcare is really difficult and expensive, and it’s not good to have murky expectations about when it’s required. Maybe the OP would have really liked (or needed) to bring her child to the office in the past and felt that she couldn’t. Maybe others were in the same boat.

      All this is to say, I think that the OP (if she wanted) could go to her own manager and just ask for clarification on the company’s “child attendance policies” without implicating anyone. If it turns out that this is fine is specific circumstances, good to know! They probably should make sure everyone if clear on that front. If it turns out that this is a serious no-go due to insurance, liability, etc., that is also good to know. But otherwise, the co-worker doesn’t even need to be mentioned.

  3. Thomas W*

    #4: I’m in the same boat. I’ve been freelancing for 5 years, and when I interview for jobs outside my primary industry (still freelance jobs), I use my closest clients as references, and have never had anyone question this. I treat my clients like employees treat their managers. Including the occasional rant to my friends. ;-)

    I would do the same thing when interviewing for ‘regular’ employment. (Although truthfully, what is ‘regular’? A job is a job. I put ‘regular’ in quotes like that because I don’t want to imply that freelancing is somehow not real work. Same w/ calling something a big girl job.)

    1. James M*

      A “regular” job consists of a bit more than just a contract between employee and employer; there are legal aspects to it too (unemployment insurance is a big one).

      Alternatively, you could think of a “regular job” like a “regular bowel movement”. I’m sure plenty other readers are also eager to wipe away the delusion that ‘freelancing is somehow not real work’.

      1. FiveNine*

        A freelancer or contractor is often more the equivalent of a business owner (and sometimes literally is organized that way for tax purposes etc) than a “regular” employee, and handles far more legal aspects of a business than any employee at a “regular” job would.

      2. nyxalinth*

        Wipe away…. I see what you did there! :D

        I’ve been writing and stuff since 2010 after my last job was outsourced… so yeah. While I would prefer ‘traditional’ employment for a steadier income, I would prefer to not have people think I don’t have a ‘real’ job. If the job exists and you’re doing it, you have a real job.

  4. moe*

    #5: I wouldn’t worry about “cooties” as much as seeming like an over-sharer of possibly sensitive employer information. I realize, of course, that bankruptcies are a matter of public record, but I could see someone reacting negatively to the sharing of that bit of information in documents that you are distributing around.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am trying not to get hung up on word choice here- but I honestly don’t know what OP means by cooties. I am hoping that the OP realizes the bankruptcy is not her fault and any sane employer would see that. I wondered if OP felt that potential employers would blame her for the bankruptcy. And no, that is simply not true.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I think what she meant is that she doesn’t want a certain stigma attached to her because of the company’s bankruptcy. Of course, it’s not her fault at all, but she probably feels like people might think less of her or her skills because she comes from a company that went bankrupt.

        The bank I worked at for many years failed back in the Fall. Even though I had nothing to do with it, I was in a position of authority and I sometimes hestitate when people ask why I’m not working for that bank anymore. I guess I feel like people are judging me.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “but she probably feels like people might think less of her or her skills because she comes from a company that went bankrupt.”

          A decade ago I would have agreed with this. But oh-so-much has happened since then. I bet if we surveyed AAM, we would find a huge amount of people that have worked for a company that went under.
          I think most people understand that times have changed. I am not so sure I would want to work for a company that doesn’t understand this.
          I guess if someone judged me for working for a company that went bankrupt,I would judge them for not thinking very broadly about what is going on in our world. Sure, some folks will never adjust, but I think most people get it.

    2. OP #5*

      I can appreciate this perspective. The reason I’m interested in focusing on that information is to explain the gap in my resume, and to highlight the abilities I developed in the months the store went under.

      I chose the word cooties because the word “stigma” just hadn’t settled in my brain, but The Other Dawn’s comment matches my concerns.

  5. Chloe Silverado*

    #2, AAM’s advice is spot on. I had this opportunity as an entry-level employee and it boosted my reputation within my company, provided me with a ton of more advanced experience in my field, and I won an industry award for the work I did during that time. It all looked great on my resume when I was ready to move on and at my current job I’m earning significantly more than I was in my last position.

    I also felt undervalued so I do understand your frustration, but being a shining star in your manager’s absence is a fantastic way to prove your worth. I admittedly didn’t ask for any kind of raise or bonus, but the company did give me a permanent raise when my manager came back and I continued to have increased responsibility. I think it’s a bit different for you since you’re a contractor, but I would truly recommend taking whatever bonus structure they offer and doing your absolute best work. At the very least it will look great on your resume and it’s a great story to tell in interviews, at best they keep you on full time and give you a permanent raise.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If I were in OP’s position, there is one factor that might sway me towards taking the job: the term is finite. Six months then I am done. Granted, I don’t know all the particulars of the position and what OP will be facing. But I tend to think that this is a sprint not a marathon. OP, if you believe that the job will definitely be temporary then it could be worth it to you.
      In the future, you if you consider other jobs with the company it would be a nice feather in your cap to have this accomplishment under your belt. You could frame it as “When there was a temporary vacancy,I stepped up to the plate.” The unspoken part here is that you did not receive full compensation and yet you still took on the work.

      Also to consider: I have had times where I did the boss’ work but did not get paid for it. What that meant was if I made mistakes my feet were not held to the fire because I was not being paid to be a boss. I was doing a good deed. Of course, I worked hard not to make mistakes but once in a while something would get by me. I would have to go to the big boss to find out how to fix it. I was almost instantly forgiven for the error and the conversation quickly turned to finding fixes.

      Again, only you see the whole picture. If your gut is screaming NOOOO, listen to your gut.

  6. Mike C*

    Re: #2

    In a very general sense, I don’t see the problem with someone who is temporarily taking over a higher position being paid the higher wage. Two weeks, two months, two years, it doesn’t really matter. After all, the employee is now taking on the additional responsibility and extra work, right? Why shouldn’t they be paid more?

    We do this here at work, and it works out just fine.

    1. Joey*

      I’m not sure the higher wage of the position since they usually are limited to short term planning/tasks. Most people that are filling in are just holding down the fort. Temporary pay increases are great and make business sense a lot of the times. As long as you can articulate the business rationale its sort of dumb not to do it.

      1. Mike C.*

        I think that depends on the workplace. Here, temp managers take on every responsibility a normal manager would, and make the same decisions a manager would.

        I can see why this might not be the case if you’re only dabbling in the responsibilities, but if you’re becoming the temp manager for six months, then you should be paid like one. The idea that it’s simply “a great way to prove your worth” reeks of the attitude freelancers get when they’re told “I can’t pay you, but it would be a great addition to your portfolio”.

        Anyway, I think we’re in agreement here. :)

          1. Mike C.*

            Great question.

            In the vast majority of cases where I see this happen, it’s in work crews of mechanics or inspectors where there’s a group or area they are all responsible for. So when one becomes a temp manager, the rest of the work is spread out to the rest of the crew. No different than when someone calls in sick. This often happens during slower parts of the year, and it helps to train up future managers by actually giving them some real experience.

            For your more white collar folks, it depends. You’re not going to be starting new projects as a temp manager, but you’re certainly going to be updating metrics and the like that you’re already responsible for. Actually, doing managerial work becomes one’s “new project”.

          2. Rose*

            Here, you just work REALLY LONG HOURS and cry under your desk. That’s why I’m totally in favor of a temporary pay increase.

            Usually, a job will be split between 2 or 3 people, but we’re in an industry where nothing can really stay “on the hook.”

        1. Jamie*

          I don’t see how it’s possible for someone coming in to sub for a high level manager to take on every responsibility.

          Typically it’s as Joey says – they are holding down the fort and yes, doing more than they were, but if I were hit by a bus tomorrow whomever was tapped to sit in my chair would have a long learning curve and the first couple months would be getting acclimated and yes, putting out fires and keeping the routine stuff going – but absolutely not the full extent of the higher level long term stuff. Not for a while and certainly not if I’m back in a couple of months.

          I can say the same for ever higher level manager I know – you can step in and keep stuff going but I’d be absolutely incredulous if someone thought someone could step in and be working at full capacity in all aspects.

          There is a reason shows like Undercover Boss don’t have people step in to do the bosses job for a day. Besides that it’s funny to some people to see an exec struggle with making sandwiches, it’s because the learning curve is too steep to step in and assume the full range of responsibilities.

          And none of this has to do with rank – it would be the same if I stepped into someone’s shoes in a similar job in another company – you don’t hit the ground at full capacity.

          1. Mike C.*

            I’m not talking about stepping in for high level management though. Where I work, there are ~ 8 levels of management between someone on the factory floor and the CEO. The temping I see done are generally 1st level managers, and they do take on all the work, responsibilities and decisions that come up. And if they’re there for a while, they even help in the hiring process of new employees.

            Sure, the temps are often helped by other managers at their (new, temporary) level or even a 2nd level manager. But they’re still doing the full job of a manager and are responsible for what a normal manager would be responsible for.

            I can understand that in other places this isn’t the case, but my personal experience is that temp managers are still managers and they do the work of managers and they’re compensated like managers – because they’re simply term limited managers.

            1. Jamie*

              I thought the discussion was in reference to the OP’s situation – and a 70k difference in pay seemed as if we were talking about upper level management.

              I work in a factory and yes, if you’re talking about making a line supervisor a defacto manager temporarily that’s a different story – but there would be no way you’d be talking about an high 5 figure differential in pay.

              1. Mike C.*

                I did miss the $70k difference in pay, so I’m glad you mentioned it. Holy crap, that’s a *huge* difference between grades.

                But if there’s such a huge difference in pay, then even taking on a few responsibilities for half a year should warrant a raise in pay, should it not?

                1. Jamie*

                  Yes, like when I was out for surgery the people covering for me were basically routing calls and doing the communicating to the outside consultants if something happened. And doing some routing transactional stuff. They weren’t developing policy, maintaining my budget, running the internal audits, or any of the other million things that are taking years off my life – so no, I don’t think they would have deserved my salary for that time.

                  But yeah, I agree that if your job changed substantially toward more responsibility there should be increased compensation (after a time where it’s proved you’re handling it well.)

                  A couple of complicating factors though – people tend to not like pay cuts even if they knew the increase was temporary – which is why a lot of companies do this in form of a bonus. Even if it’s the same amount of money as the raise would have been a one time payout doesn’t change the regular salary and it’s seen differently by many people.

                  Also, she said she’s on a contract and they can’t change her title. If she’s contracted through an agency what they are doing is most likely already in violation of the contract. If you substantially change the job description and increase responsibilities they need to be notified because that’s a higher fee for the agency.

                  Case in point – I accepted a temp assignment early in my career because they needed a receptionist for a week and my schedule was free. They paid the receptionist rate, but once they knew I could do other stuff had me doing IT tasks, some SQL stuff and pulled someone else from another office to get the phones.

                  I was just happy I was able to do something interesting, but my agency was pissed. Because their rate for someone who can do SQL and intermediate IT stuff was a lot higher than that of a receptionist.

                  So increasing a temps responsibilities without increased compensation is likely a contract violation. She should be getting more money. If she’s an independent contractor this is all moot.

                  But yes, I do think an increase in compensation is warranted when it’s significant – but I don’t doing it as a bonus would be a problem.

                  Once when a company for whom I worked was between HR people for several months I took over some duties like payroll and paperwork type stuff – so just to keep things running. I was offered a significant bonus to do this for X number of months and they gave me a letter in writing to that effect – it was fine with that. I get why it’s a PITA to increase then decrease salary.

                  But in some cases temporary increases are fine – we’ll do that sometimes as an incentive when we need people to temporarily work a different shift – it’s for the inconvenience. Once they are back on their preferred shift the salary goes back.

                2. Mike C.*

                  We don’t have any issues with the “pay cut” thing, it’s really no different than receiving a small pay increase for working swing shift, and then coming back to days.

          2. Mike C.*

            Also, I just wanted to add something here.

            Much of the additional responsibility of being a first level manager isn’t all that difficult to train on. Stuff like digital signatures on attendance and time sheets and knowing what to do if there’s a safety incident is the sort of thing I’m talking about here. Rather, much of the work is simply time intensive – before and after shift meetings to tie in with the previous/next shift, status meetings with upper management or other functional groups, weekend duty, that sort of thing.

            1. LBK*

              Well, it’s not necessarily responsibility as much as it is liability and judgment. It’s not that hard technically to teach someone to use a sign off program, but knowing when to sign off and when to reject and what to factor in when doing so is a bit harder. Maybe not so much for timesheets and attendance, but my manager has to sign off on account adjustments and deal with escalated clients. That’s not technically hard – most of the time it’s just a phone call or an email – but he’s responsible for the outcome of those decisions. That’s not something you can easily train for.

            2. Anonymous*

              Hi, OP #2 here. Thanks for all your views and advice. To clarify, I don’t aspire to the full difference in salaries. It’s unrealistic to expect me to do my old job and take on the most critical of my manager’s duties at 100%. I just have a hunch they will offer something like $3-5k.

              There is a big gap in salary because my manager is (at least) two pay grades above me. However, we are a small group so she’s still considered a first level manager. The new duties would be to project manage development of a new service offering with external vendors, plus internal check-ins with senior leaders.

              1. Rose*

                Good luck! I feel like for a 70k difference more than 3-5k would be fair, but who knows.

                Your transitioning from a different career, so I think this is a sign they see you as an experienced professional who has potential to move up really quickly. Negotiate for sure, but take it even if they don’t offer you enough money. I bet this will be a huge stepping stone for you. Your “poorly executed career change” might be anything but!

          3. Ed*

            People do love to see execs struggle at entry-level tasks but they miss an important fact. That CEO would absolutely master their job in as little as a week or two while the sandwich maker most likely couldn’t do the CEO job at an acceptable (yet alone master) level if they had a decade to train.

            1. Mints*

              My gripe about this show (I’m getting off topic but I felt suckered when I watched it)– The CEO meets the nicest worker around, and the worker talks about something that makes life difficult. Like they don’t get paid mileage for driving their car around the site, and the site isn’t paved, and their poor 1985 Civic is falling apart. Or they just plain are paid peanuts and their mom has cancer, and their son needs braces, and their husband broke his leg, and they can’t afford all of it. And at the end, the CEO gives the first guy a brand new F150 and the second one a check for $25,000.
              And like, I’m happy for those people, they’re always very nice people who deserved it. But the CEO does nothing to change the systematic causes for why those things were happening. Like providing company cars or raising wages or improving healthcare options. They have the power to change things for all of the Joe Schmoes who work for them, but instead give a couple gifts to the ones lucky enough to be on the show

              Okay, rant over. I stopped watching the show

    2. Dan*

      I had a blue collar job where if the regular shift supervisor was not present, someone got to step up and receive override pay. It was a flat $2/hr.

      My job was a 24/7 operation, and I worked midnights. The day shift had two “official” supervisors, so there was generally always a sup there.

      The midnight shift, however, only had one designated supervisor, so technically no official supervisor on his day off. To make it even funnier, we ran with such a bare bones staff at night that I was commonly the only staff around on my sup’s day off.

      It took me a year to figure out that we could get override pay when the sup was gone. Hey, I’m not going to turn down an extra $100/mo for doing the exact same job I had been doing.

      At night, it was understood amongst the sup and the rest of the staff that you weren’t paid to be “in charge” but to take the fall and do the paperwork if something went wrong.

      I loved that job.

      1. Mike C.*

        Yeah, if you’re going to be the one who gets thrown under the bus, you should get paid like it.

  7. Janis*

    At my previous employer if you took over in an “acting” capacity for 3 months, then on day 91 you were given backpay for the 3 months you had been working at the higher level (in the next pay check), and that higher pay continued until you went back to your previous level or took over the job permanently. I thought this was the norm…? I think 6 months of higher level work certainly should be rewarded.

    1. Tina*

      Unfortunately, I don’t think it is the norm. I once got reassigned to another department to do a job which was normally paid more than I was. It was actually only for 3 of m y 5 work days (I stayed in my own unit the other days), but that actually made it even MORE complicated than if I had just been completely reassigned, and it was for 5 months. There was no pay increase. I did at least get a bonus later, which was a pleasant surprise.

    2. Joey*

      There’s a hiccup to that though. If you’re “acting” that means one of two things: 1. You have to hold down your job AND the vacant job(which means you won’t be performing either at 100%). Or 2. You create a domino effect of people needing to serve in an “acting” role. If you act, you create a vacancy which requires someone else to act and so on.
      My solution is to give a partial increase and require you to perform both jobs ( or in essence the most important aspects of both jobs.). Of course this means some tasks don’t get done or others help with the less important things.

      1. Tina*

        That’s true, I wasn’t taking on 2 full-time jobs, so I wouldn’t reasonably expect much. A little something extra along the way would have been nice just for recognition purposes of all the complications and aggravation. At the time I didn’t know a bonus was even a consideration, so I was stressed and feeling undervalued. And given the tension between the two departments at the time, some days I wanted combat pay! :)

  8. Janis*

    #1 — We actually have a policy for this. We have many working parents here and the policy is that if you clear it with the manager prior, you may bring your child(ren) to work the following day. This is usually only enacted during snow days when the schools are closed but our office is not, or on the occasional day care setback (like, what to do when the day care lady takes a week’s vacation herself?) I was taken aback the first few times I saw it, but after 6 years I am so used to it that I don’t think anything of it anymore — and I even like seeing them around. they usually don’t stay the whole day but some have.

    Of course, the parents come loaded for bear (so to speak) with snacks, toys, coloring books, etc. to keep their kids occupied, and they’ve also obviously given them *the talk* in the car on the way there. I’m only aware of one real meltdown where the parent had to be talked to the next day.

    It’s a new world!

    1. Joey*

      Absolutely its a new world and companies that want to thrive will have to get on board. If you’re a parent or plan on being a parent would you rather work for a company with family friendly policies or not?

      1. MaggietheCat*

        I’m still awed by the fact that there are pet friendly companies. Who and where are they? And can they hire me?!

        1. Clever Name*

          I work for a dog-friendly company. It’s pretty great. Now that the admin manager who was allergic to cats is retired, I’m trying to figure out how to angle for getting an office cat. ;)

  9. The Other Dawn*


    I’d look at this as an opportunity to prove yourself so you can try and get a permanent position and, if nothing else, build your resume. Sure, extra pay would be nice, but I wouldn’t expect anything more than a bonus, and certainly not the manager’s salary for that time period.

    1. Mike C.*

      Why shouldn’t she expect the extra pay for doing the job for six months? That seems absolutely nuts to me. She’s doing the extra work and taking on the extra responsibility for an extended period of time. Why shouldn’t she be compensated accordingly?

      1. Colette*

        Should everyone who covers for a coworker’s vacation be compensated more?

        If she takes on the role full time, she should definitely be compensated more, but she’s covering for a period of time, and she’s likely not doing her full regular job at the same time.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I agree. I don’t think she should expect more compensation unless she’s truly filling her manager’s shoes for 6 months. Part of the job is pitching in when needed. If I were her manager, I’d look at giving her a bonus based on the level of work she’ll be doing during that time. And maybe one after the 6 months is over based on her performance. But that’s it. I’d say part of the “compensation” for doing this is being able to build her resume, escpecially since she’s had a career change. She could have a longer term benefit because of that.

          1. Mike C.*

            The idea that “you’re building your resume” isn’t a good justification for lack of compensation elsewhere. Otherwise, any job you do could be said to be compensated for a few lines on your resume.

            The OP is a professional, and professionals are paid for the work they perform. I said it elsewhere, but it’s no different from trying to tell a freelancer or consultant “I can’t pay you for this, but it would look great in your portfolio!”

            1. Cat*

              I do think it’s somewhat different when you’re a permanent employee because, if your company is non-disfunctional, assuming an increase in skills and responsibility will increase your salary in your current position. So I periodically fill in for higher level people on a temporary basis and am not paid more for it, but I do think my last raise was entirely fair given the higher level work I had done in the previous year, and I feel fairly compensated as a result even though it was in some sense after the fact. Freelancers that work on discrete projects are more explicitly paid by the piece rather than holistically.

              Of course, a lot of places don’t fairly adjust salaries later, which is a problem.

            2. The Other Dawn*

              She has the choice to take it or not. If she’s not offered any extra compensation at all, it’s her choice not to take it. But I think she should take it, if only for the experience, especially because she’s just made a career change. If she doesn’t take, she misses the opportunity to learn more and may miss the opportunity for a permanent job. And I’d also think she’s at risk of being labled as not being a team player.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                To me, the career change makes this a no brainer. Career changes are really hard to execute — if this will help with this, it’s a huge gift. And she mentions hers has been going poorly, which is even more reason to leap at this.

                1. LBK*

                  I do agree that in the context of the letter, I think the benefits of the exposure and resume boosting would be worth it. In general, though, I agree with Mike C. that “it will look great on your resume!” is a crappy excuse to not pay someone for taking on more work.

                2. The Other Dawn*

                  LBK: I’m not saying that the company should use it as an excuse; they shouldn’t. The letter says they’re willing to consider a bonus, at least. I’m just saying that she’s in a tough position of having just made a”poorly executed” career change and it would be in her best interest, career-wise, to step up even if the company says no to extra money.

                3. Jamie*

                  I agree – if for nothing else ROR.

                  I started my career really late – first job in my late 30s and I leapt at anything thrown my way that would be more interesting, visible, and upward.

                  I never negotiated first – my process was to prove myself first and the opportunity and money would come from that.

                  Fwiw my first “permanent” job I had a 48% increase in salary in my first 8 months and then I left after another 3 months – moved to a better job.

                  I’ve seen people try to negotiate the front end of “I can do this if I had a raise of X” and it never ends well.

                  Maybe I just got lucky, but I do think there is something to proving oneself first and then making the case for increased money once you have the accomplishments in your pocket.

                  You don’t want to be taken advantage of, but you also don’t want to look like you will nickle and dime them for every additional thing you’re asked to do – because that’s the fastest way of making sure they don’t offer you the opportunity to begin with.

                4. LBK*

                  FWIW, I am also generally in the “prove I can do it and then ask for the compensation after” camp for my own career and it seems to be working well so far – I’ve gotten 3 pretty considerable raises I didn’t ask for that weren’t tied to a promotion or review. But I don’t think it’s wrong to ask up front either. I think it depends on the person and their relationship to the person they’re negotiating with.

                5. Mike C.*

                  I want to be clear here, I’m not suggesting she shouldn’t do this because it’s obvious that she should.

                  What I am do is arguing for the idea that when you take over someone’s position for a significant amount of time, you should be paid as someone who is normally in that position. You are taking on their work, their responsibilities and their results and you should be paid for that.

                  Too many times employees are asked to take on more work, more responsibilities and more results without a resulting increase in pay. I don’t think it’s fair, and I don’t think it’s a great long term business strategy.

                6. Jamie*

                  @Mike – Do you think the increase should be immediate? That’s where I think we differ – because I think if it goes into effect before the new responsibilities are assumed it will limit people who aren’t sure things getting a shot at stretching.

                  If you let people do it for a little bit and they really are over their skis you can dial it back and bring others in, no harm no foul…but it gets sticky if they’ve already been given an increase.

                  If they assume the responsibilities and hit it out of the park, or even keep things afloat without issue then absolutely have that discussion. But to do it untested would be an issue for me.

                  Not everyone rises to the challenge the way you think they will.

                7. LBK*

                  But you gamble that money any time you hire or promote someone – you don’t tell your new hire you’re withholding their salary for a month until they prove they’re good at their jobs, and you don’t withhold someone’s raise if they get permanently promoted into a management position. I don’t think the temporary nature of the situation changes that principle.

                8. Joey*

                  Jaime. Yes a temporary increase should be immediate. After all, if you’re asking someone to take on more expensive work it makes sense that it should cost you more. The key is just making sure they know its tied to the additional pay. But if there isn’t an increase that doesn’t mean you should turn down the work necessarily. Obviously there are a number of factors to deciding whether or not to accept. Additional pay is just one of those factors.

              2. LBK*

                And I’d also think she’s at risk of being labled as not being a team player.

                Frankly, that’s bullshit. Don’t ask someone if they want to do something if you’re going to penalize them if they say no. Just tell them to do it.

                1. Jamie*

                  I don’t know – I think it’s okay to ask someone to do something when it is optional, because if they aren’t going to fire her for refusing and she can continue at her current position it truly is optional, but still form an opinion of the decision.

                  I am in the position to offer people opportunities on various highly visible projects fairly often. If I offer and the answer is that they have n0 desire to expand outside of what they were hired to do that’s fine – it’s not going to affect their job. But it’s still fair that people notice that.

                  You have the right to make the call, but no one has the right to a judgement free vacuum.

                2. LBK*

                  I agree that it happens, and I think there are certain judgments that are appropriate to make when someone turns something down like this, but “not a team player” seems like an unfair one. Maybe “doesn’t aspire to management” would be a more accurate one.

        2. Mike C.*

          I would assume for that six months, she’s covering the manager’s position full time, even if the job itself is temporary. After all, isn’t every job temporary?

          1. doreen*

            I wouldn’t- because positions are vacant for six months all the time at my job and the “acting” manager never does that job full time/performs all the duties . Right now, the position that would normally be my supervisor is vacant. It’s been four months now, and a replacement hasn’t been named. My peer who is “acting” essentially functions as a conduit of information. He attends the regional director meetings and passes the info on to us , gets the emails that go to regional directors and passes the necessary info on to us. He does some housekeeping oversight, like making sure all three managers are not on vacation the same week. But he does not supervise the rest of us, does not have the authority an non-acting regional director has and is not held responsible for the operation of our offices. Anything that actually requires an RD’s approval has to go to an RD from another region.

  10. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – I can’t shake the feeling that you’re being a busybody here, and just looking for reasons to report this. Her professionalism really isn’t any of your concern, unless you’re the office manager or something. The kid isn’t bothering you. Can’t you just mind your own business on this one and let the actual manager deal with it?

    1. Darth Admin*

      ^This. You put your finger on it for me, Katie the Fed. I’m getting a whiff of “I’m a working mom and *I* don’t do this, so why can she?” OP #1, you say the kid isn’t affecting your work and don’t mention that it’s affecting your coworker’s, so let it be. If it DOES start affecting your work, then I think the first step would be to bring that to your coworker’s attention.

    2. #1 OP*

      Maybe I was being a busy body. I didn’t think I was. I was just trying to get some outside perspective on the issue to see if I should even be concerned with it here.

      I don’t think I’m going to end up saying anything. No one else seems to be noticeably bothered (we all have kids and are used to ignoring them ;) ). Even though her manager is removed, I’m just going to let him deal with it if he thinks it’s inappropriate.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’m sorry – that came off harsher than I intended. I had just read this article about a homeless mom who left her kids in a car while she went for a job interview and is being charged with a felony, and I was thinking a lot about childcare and how lack of affordable, dependable childcare can affect women in particular. Wherever we can help each other out by being flexible, I think we should try.

        1. Heather*

          I saw that story. It made me want to slap everyone involved except for the mom. That poor woman.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Back in the 80s, a couple I worked with at Terrible Company, kept their kids in the car all day while they worked. I think there was four kids. The company wouldn’t do anything about it. Then the couple got laid off with a bunch of other people.
          The whole thing made me sick.

  11. Cafe Au Lait*

    To OP#1—I suggest that you stay out of this situation. By your own admission, your colleague’s granddaughter isn’t causing a ruckus and you barely know the granddaughter is there when she’s in the office. Your only concern is that it’s “unprofessional.” This is one of those times to let it go.

    Years and years ago *I* was that child at work. My sister had died, and not having the verbal language skills to communicate grief and sadness, I was a wreck. My Mom went to her boss to quit; Mom’s priority was me and she knew I needed her at home. Mom’s boss told her “Bring Café Au Lait work. It won’t be a problem.”

    So I went to work with my Mom. I have no idea what personal situation your colleague is in. As you mentioned this is your colleague’s granddaughter—not daughter. It sounds like there might be some behind the scenes stuff that you’re not aware of and which necessitates this alternative childcare arrangement. This is a perfect time to treat others how you would want to be treated in the same situation.

    1. C Average*

      Wow, what a story. I’m glad your mom and your mom’s boss and colleagues were able to do the right thing in a tough situation without Creating A Policy.

      I agree with everyone who’s said that most workplaces can’t function with lots of children running amok, but this is one child NOT running amok. Leave it alone. If it becomes a problem, sure, treat it like one. But it doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere near a problem at this point, and I’m guessing it will never become one.

      1. Cafe Au Lait*

        She really was, and my Mom kept in touch with her for years after she finally quit. In fact, I tried to invite OldBoss to my wedding; she declined due to personal reasons

  12. AMT*

    #1: Regardless of whether the child is loud or annoying, and regardless of whether there are privacy/insurance/whatever risks to bringing the kid into work, it’s still utterly inappropriate. Except for occasional emergencies, please don’t bring your kid to work. Even a quiet child can be a distraction in the workplace, especially if it’s a workplace where adult topics are discussed.

    Furthermore, “regularly” (as opposed to infrequent oh-crap-school’s-cancelled days) means that the grandmother hasn’t arranged reliable childcare. That’s inconsiderate. What would the grandmother do on a day that the child absolutely couldn’t be in the office (e.g. big clients or funders visited), or a day when the grandmother couldn’t watch the child (e.g. off-site appointment)? Stuff her in a broom closet?

    1. Onymouse*

      “especially if it’s a workplace where adult topics are discussed.”

      If it’s not appropriate for children, it’s likely NSFW unless you work in the adult entertainment industry.

      1. AMT*

        I work in a forensic setting and we often talk about child pornography and rape cases. Plenty of workplaces are just not kid-friendly.

        1. Clinical Social Worker*

          Well yah, a kid could never come to that place. I work in a prison, you could NEVER bring your child to work here.

          It sounds like a regular, run of the mill office setting. Context is important here, and I think given that context, Onymouse is likely spot on.

        2. moe*

          You have to acknowledge that’s a completely unusual situation. Most people aren’t discussing rape at work.

        3. Cath in Canada*

          Yeah, I work in cancer research and I wouldn’t want to discuss “we’re getting three new brain tumour samples in today” type subjects in front of a kid old enough to have any inkling of what that means. There are plenty of “adult” topics that are perfectly safe for work.

      2. Dragonfly*

        There are plenty of non “adult entertainment” industries where discussing adult topics IS the work, and not appropriate for children. Think about it.

        1. AMT*

          Exactly. My other comment on this doesn’t seem to have been published for some reason, but at my workplace, we discuss plenty of horrible, gruesome crimes that I wouldn’t want to talk about near a child.

          1. Jamie*

            Would you discuss those in front of other visitors to the office? Because I sometimes discuss personal stuff with a couple of work friends, but I wouldn’t in the open in front of customers, or other co-workers, vendors, etc.

            Sometimes one needs to censor one’s conversation in front of other people regardless of age. There is a time and a place for conversations and for gruesome or other adult topics the audience should be vetted.

            I absolutely don’t think every workplace conversation needs to be G rated, but if the ones that are not are so copious and so openly discussed that it’s an imposition to have to impose privacy on those then that’s not a workplace a lot of adults would be comfortable in as well.

              1. Jamie*

                My apologies – I totally missed that.

                Yes, no kids there – no kids. Totally right on that.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  Dang, I got a phone call while typing and didn’t realize Camellia had already covered my point. Sorry to dogpile.

            1. Kelly L.*

              If the adult content is the work, and not the chitchat, then I absolutely see AMT’s point. Imagine if you worked in the SVU on Law and Order, for example. And the kid is not just visiting for five minutes so you can shut off the disturbing talk until the person leaves. You need to talk about the topics throughout the day, and the kid is there throughout the day.

        2. Onymouse*

          I am sorry that I was flippant and didn’t list every possible industry that, by its nature, deals with adult topics. My point was that unless your work itself involves topics not safe for children, in which case you’d hope the parent would have the good sense not to bring their child, you shouldn’t be saying that “kids keep me from talking about raunchy topics at lunchtime”.

          1. Clinical Social Worker*

            I think you were clear. Most people don’t work in environments like that. I work in an environment like AMT (they’re forensic, I’m prison). But even I get that in most places, most “adult stuff” is also NSFW.

          2. Dragonfly*

            The issue wasn’t that you didn’t list every available industry. The issue was that you claimed that having discussions not suitable for children could *only* happen in a NSFW/adult entertainment context. That’s not even remotely true, which was the point the rest of us made. I’m sure you meant to say what you’re saying *now,* but that’s not what you said *then.* Hence the responses. Hope that’s clear.

          3. AMT*

            But that’s actually a legitimate complaint. I can imagine having a conversation about, say, Game of Thrones during my break and not wanting a kid to hear. Conversations that are perfectly okay in a given work culture aren’t always going to be conversations you want to have around children. I can’t be the only one who thinks that expecting a workplace to be a (mostly, barring emergencies) kid-free environment isn’t unreasonable.

            1. Zillah*

              You’re definitely not, and I think it’s totally fine for you to place being able to have those sorts of conversations above an environment that’s kid friendly. However, I think that it’s important to draw a distinction between “This is not my ideal workplace environment/I don’t like this” and “This is completely inappropriate.” It depends a lot on the culture around the office and where the employees’ priorities are.

    2. Joey*

      Hmm. Its only inappropriate of the company says its inappropriate. Wouldn’t it be inappropriate for you to have a problem with it if the company is okay with it?

      My point is whether its acceptable is decided by the employer, not co-workers.

      1. AMT*

        Of course it’s okay for an employee to find something annoying or distracting even if the company doesn’t specifically have a policy against it or if management is fine with it. If it creates a more stressful work environment (and I doubt OP #1 is the only one who thinks so), it’s probably inappropriate regardless of what the company says.

        It would be different if it only happened occasionally or if OP #1 was a new employee coming into an established bring-your-kid-to-work culture. That doesn’t seem to be the case.

        1. Joey*

          Sure, but it’s not real smart to tell anyone bringing a kid to work is inappropriate when you don’t know the company’s or bosses stance on it.

          Telling them its disrupting is far different, although that just means the disruption is the problem, not necessarily having the kid there.

        2. Arbynka*

          But the thing is, OP does not think the kids in the office is distraction or that it is creating stressful workplace. In fact, she states the child is no bother. OP just think it is not profesional to bring her along.

          1. Turtle Candle*

            Yeah, I think this is one of those situations where it’s not helpful to generalize. “My coworker brings in her granddaughter and that’s a problem because her granddaughter is distracting” or “…because we deal with highly sensitive information” or “…because we regularly need to discuss topics that aren’t appropriate in front of a 6/8/10/12 year old” would have very different responses than just “is this unprofessional in general?” It might be wildly inappropriate in one office and perfectly fine in another–or even wildly inappropriate for one coworker and perfectly fine for another–and trying to make a general rule based on hypothetical cases seems somewhat less than useful.

            If one of those situations IS the case, then of course the answer would be different.

  13. MJ*

    #1 It is very possible that the grandmother has approval from her manager for this arrangement, and who knows what the extenuating circumstances may be. There is an underlying issue, though, of fairness or more accurately, perceived fairness – other employees are paying or have paid for childcare and have gone to the trouble of finding emergency care or taken sick days or whatever to tend to their families, and this employee appears to be treated differently. There is also the issue of a non-employee just hanging around the office. I don’t care how well behaved a child is, if a child (or any other non-employee for that matter) were in my workspace on a regular basis, it would affect my productivity.

    There are employee morale issues here that the manager should be alerted to before resentment builds. I think I would approach the manager with, “I don’t know what arrangement the company has made with Kay regarding bringing her granddaughter to work every day, and that is none of my business, but from the outside it appears that the company is now okay with employees bringing their kids to work. Is this the case?”

    1. AMT*

      Good idea. And that raises the point of whether management would be okay with every parent in the office feeling free to bring their kids to work regularly. I doubt that management would, so it seems like the grandmother is taking advantage of the fact that she’s the only one who considers this appropriate behavior. I’m all for more family-friendly workplaces, whether it’s time off for kid/spouse/pet emergencies or more flexible hours, but I draw the line at refusing to pay for a babysitter because you can get away with it.

      1. Cat*

        I think this is a good point. It’s oft-repeated that workplaces aren’t “fair,” but I think that employers should strive to treat similarly situated employees the same, which is a type of fairness. Child care can actually take up most of an average worker’s salary. If two workers are getting paid about the same but one of them doesn’t have to pay for child care, that is a huge increase in salary. Of course other employees are going to be upset about that unless there are circumstances that explain it. Otherwise the obvious conclusion is that your co-worker is much more highly valued by the company than you are, and that’s going to impact your own perception of your job.

        1. Arbynka*

          Yes, but even those similary situated employees might have different circumstances under which management might grant them exemptions to the rules or give them different benefit.

          1. Cat*

            Sure, but if people don’t know about that, they’re going to wonder. It’s a tricky balance because you can’t make extenuating circumstances public necessarily, but the cost of that is that it’s going to look like some of your employees are getting away with incredibly valuable perks that others aren’t offered.

            If you foster an atmosphere of trust – if employees can trust you to value them fairly – that helps. But that’s hard to do and not everyone manages it.

            1. Jamie*

              This – and it’s really hard.

              When I had a medical thing last year for 10 weeks I was off every Monday due to treatments. People not close to me, or who didn’t need to know for work reasons, were told my schedule changed for a couple of months.

              They just needed to trust that my bosses noticed I was gone and didn’t give me permission to take off and go to carnivals on the clock for a while. You have to err on the side of privacy and know that sometimes we aren’t going to be privy to all the information that went into approving something.

              1. LBK*

                I had a similar situation – I had weekly hour-long doctor’s appointments during work hours for 6 months that my manager is aware of and approved. I got a lot of questions every week from coworkers about it, which was really annoying and frustrating because it was something personal that I didn’t want to discuss. Eventually they stopped when I continued to refuse to give an answer any more specific than “I was at an appointment” but seriously, consider these questions before you ask them. You may be unknowingly probing into a very private part of that person’s life.

        2. Anonymouse*

          Finally: Someone has finally brought up the point I was seeing.

          It is a morale matter:

          The poster is disadvantaged financially by paying for childcare.
          The coworker is advantaged financially by not paying for childcare.

          Shouldn’t this be clarified/addressed, if it is happening longterm?

      2. Arbynka*

        Or maybe the grandmother has approval of the management. And, management does not have to be OK with everyone bringing their children to work. Just because one employee is given a perk or a benefit does not mean every other employee has now to have the same benefit as well.

        1. Arbynka*

          Ok, so OP #1 stopped by and it seems the manager does not know about it so it changes my opinion a bit.

  14. kac*

    Re #1: . For all you know, your coworker has already discussed the issue with her manager and received approval for this. As you said, it’s not affecting your ability to do your job, and it’s not your job to care about this. I think you need to really mind your own business here.

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      That is the number one issue I have with all of these “my coworker does _____” or “my coworker doesn’t do _____” questions. It’s a dangerous assumption to make that the manager hasn’t been involved.

  15. Adam*

    #5 I’m curious what the reservation is in mentioning that your last company went through bankruptcy. Obviously it wasn’t your fault and this sort of thing happens all the time so any reasonable person isn’t going to see it as a strike against you. Is it perhaps a fear that you might be revealing too much about your former employer?

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      It’s actually pretty amazing to me how many times a hiring company DOES hold it against you.

      I was with a Fortune 500 that was failing (and still is) in a very public way. Obviously I was not responsible for the failure or the inability to save it. But I still was asked in my most recent job search, “why weren’t you able to save it?”

      Uhhh, because I’m a middle manager in a support function and do not have the insight nor the reach to have any impact on resolving problems related to mismanaging the company’s core business for the past quarter of a century…

      1. Adam*

        Wow. How did you respond to that question, or was that an approximation of the answer you made? It blows my mind that someone can look at the struggles of such a large company and inflate your responsibilities so highly when it clearly wasn’t within the scope of your job.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          I had a canned answer along the lines of, “while managing the business and turning it around was not within the scope of my responsibilities, I approached my department with a strong focus on our fiduciary responsibility to the company and went to great lengths to ensure that we were not adding to an already insurmountable problem”

          Most accepted this, others didn’t. I assumed the ones who didn’t were looking to see if they could trap me into talking poorly about the employer. Sadly, I did take this bait once. It was very therapeutic.

      2. #1 OP*

        I kind of want to have a guessing contest to figure out who the company you’re talking about it… Anyone else have that urge?

        My guess is Yahoo.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          Nope, it’s a much older company than Yahoo. But a household name. I’ll tell you if you guess.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I am laughing. You mean that large retailer that is constantly in the news because of all the difficulties it is having?

                I admire your self-restraint. I would have wanted to know how the interviewer planned to save his company.

                Yeah. OP, I think we have found a new red flag on interviews. Those employers that don’t grasp that we have been through the biggest economic upheaval since the Great Depression.

    2. anon-2*

      Re #5 – it CAN definitely be a factor in hiring — it may not have been your fault — hell, it usually is a result of poor decision making in the executive suite/golf course clubhouse — but companies tend not to take in people from failed enterprises, just as they don’t generally like to hire the unemployed.

      So, cooties? Yeah. Even worse if the company that gas-piped is under suspicion from the authorities. Example = if you were a department manager in a company that went belly-up, and some others in your company got into legal trouble, few will consider your candidacy.

      I advised a family member not to take a lucrative job offer with a company whose big shots were under investigation – because when they go down – you’ll get the cooties.

  16. Lauren*

    “You may need to give it out before you get an offer; it’s necessary for some (but not all) background checks. But they certainly don’t need it before an interview, and they shouldn’t be doing credit checks unless you’re applying for a job that deals directly with money. (Also, note that 10 or so states explicitly ban credit checks in employment.)”

    I completely agree with Alison here, but what about job applications? I work in health care which usually demands SS numbers on all apps. It makes me so uncomfortable because there are stories in the news everyday of employers accidentally exposing SS numbers.

    1. Clinical Social Worker*

      Alison’s also publicly against that as she’s posted about it before…but unfortunately there are lots of times you have to fill out the online application in order to get that type of job.

      You can try to circumvent the application process by finding a person to submit to but that likely won’t work. So you have to decide whether the opportunity is worth giving away your SS number. It’s a total bummer.

    2. Ginger*

      I’m currently applying to local teaching jobs, and the school board requires applicants to put their SSN not only on their applications, but their letters of reference as well. I understand they need my SSN because I’ll be working closely with kids, but on the letters of reference? My old supervisors keep copies of all letters, and while I trust them, I worry what would happen if they ever misplace the paperwork…

    3. Lola*

      Hi, Thank you Alison and Lauren. I just found it strange that they request this information with out even knowing if I would pass the phone interview. So if I send it out before and she doesn’t like me over the phone… my information is sitting in someone’s office etc.
      I gave in and sent a signed form without my SS# on it. I figured if they are interested they will surely ask for it. BTW the phone interview went well, the HR director said I should receive a confirmation email on my face to face shortly. I love this website, one of the reasons this firm even bothered to consider me is because of my new and improved cover letter which thanks to AAM has got their attention. This website should be the Corporate or Workplace Bible!

  17. LiteralGirl*

    When I came back to the workforce after being away for a long time, I took an admin job at OldJob just to get back into the company. An analyst left about 6 months later and I took on the vital parts of his job. Some of my other duties were passed on to the other admin, but I did most of both. I was hourly at the time, so I worked my butt off and got overtime. Fast forward 6 months, I had the analyst position, a bonus for my hard work, and a 25% pay increase. As Alison said, sometimes it is best to show what you can do.

  18. Angora*

    Ref: 2. Negotiating pay if I fill in during my manager’s maternity leave

    This happened to me. My boss went out for maternity leave for five months and they bought in someone for 20 hours a week to help out. But I took over the role as executive asst / program coordinator, et. But I got lots of overtime. I did not do the in-band pay adjustment since I was getting OT. But when she quit I got her job with a 10% raise.

    If I understand you are a contractor. Are you working through a placement agency? If you are working through a placement agency, notify the agency that your duties have changed & increased. They will negotiate a higher salary for you.

    Many times in this situation they’ll wave the promise of a permanent job out there to get out of paying the contract employees an increase salary or just plain take advantage. A big one is that you’re not supposed to use your personal vehicle to run errands for the company because you’re not on their insurance coverage as a contractor. But if the company you’re working for hints around that you may be up for a permanent position; than turns around and ask you to do something outside your contracted responsibility …many people will turn around and do it because they do not to jeopardize a chance of a permanent job.

    One thing … is this a temporary “contract” position that others have worked in before. If there is a turnover of contractors, than it’s doubtful it’ll be made permanent … it’s a carrot to solicite additional services without paying for it.

  19. Cassie*

    #2: At our university, if you take on additional (higher) duties for a short period of time, you can get an administrative stipend – it sounds like the “bonus” the OP’s company is considering is comparable to our stipend. It doesn’t affect your payrate, it’s just additional money either based on a percentage or a flat amount.

    I guess I think it depends on how much of the manager’s job the OP will actually be doing. There was one time where I “held down the fort” when a coworker was out on medical leave and another position was vacant – so technically I was manning 3 positions, but in reality, I wasn’t doing 120 hours worth of work a week. I did not get any compensation or consideration for helping out.

    So depending on how much work the OP likely will be taking on – I’d say a bonus / stipend would be reasonable (maybe 10-15% additional pay). But nowhere near the additional $70K the manager makes. Presumably the manager has years of experience whereas the OP is just starting out in this career. Even if the manager doesn’t return from maternity leave and the OP is promoted to the manager position, he/she probably won’t get paid what the current manager is paid. At least, not at the beginning.

    1. AnonyMOOSE*

      That would be lovely to get paid more for taking on additional work. I work at a university, and they like to add on additional work regularly without paying a dime more… that’s one of the reasons I’m taking a job outside of here.

  20. Eudora Wealthy*

    #1 This is a great opportunity for you to start bringing your pet dog to work with you.

    1. #1 OP*

      Well, I don’t have a dog. But maybe I’ll just grab a stray off the street and call it fair ;)

  21. MLHD*

    Granddaughter at work: It’s only unprofessional if the company says it is. For all OP knows, she has spoken to management and cleared the situation with them already.

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