we’re not allowed to exercise while staffing a conference, employer wants my high school diploma, and more

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

1. We’re not allowed to work out while staffing a conference

I work for a small healthcare-related organization that holds an annual meeting each year. Most of the staff go and work 15-hour shifts throughout the entire meeting, which lasts about 4-5 days. Recently, upper management announced during a meeting that if you have a break during the meeting (which is rare), you are not allowed to go to the pool (fair enough) or the gym to exercise. My coworker felt very singled out during the meeting because it is commonly known that she exercises every day and the upper management looked over at her when they made the statement. They indicated that you are only allowed to go to your room to take a nap during any break time.

My coworker was very upset by this as she uses exercise for stress relief and her overall well being. They will be working very long shifts during a high stress time and she only has 1 or 2 breaks long enough for a workout throughout the entire 5 day meeting. She approached her supervisor who basically told her that she would have to abide by this rule, unless she wanted to work out in the mornings or at night. This is almost impossible as the days start at 6am and end at 9pm, if you are lucky. Apparently the logic behind this is that they don’t want any meeting attendees to see staff not wearing “work attire” or not appearing “busy enough.” For most of the meeting, staff wear polos except during special events and they spend all day assisting with all of the sessions. I find this to be extremely demoralizing and it’s not even happening to me! I can’t seem to understand the logic of an organization dedicated to healthcare and which even held a 5k run at a past meeting saying that exercise is not allowed. It also doesn’t make you feel good about your organization and their support of your well being and work/life balance. Is there something I am not getting here? Can they do this? Either way, what is the best way to approach a situation like this?

We just hired an outsourced HR firm and I told her to contact them. I am hoping the outsourced firm will be more of an advocate for us than our previous in-house model.

Their rationale is silly, but I don’t think it’s the outrage it feels like to you. They’re not saying that exercise isn’t allowed. They’re saying that during your shift, they don’t want you in the gym. It’s a five-day trip where they basically want you working during most of your waking hours. I’m not sure why they care if they’re willing to allow breaks for napping, but it’s not really outrageous.

Your coworker could certainly make her case to a higher-up and see if she can persuade them, but it’s really not crazy for them to say, “This is a once-a-year trip, the hours are long, and there’s not really time during the day to do anything else.”

2. My manager keeps assigning my work to other people

My position is with a small nonprofit organization. I am the only person who is officially employed in a communications role; I handle the organization’s branding, signage, media relations, and social media. The problem I am having is the manager regularly gives communications projects to other people in the organization. These projects have included updating the organization’s banners, finding new promotional avenues for our events, and creating a new branding for a program we run. There have been many more examples. I have literally been involved in conversations about these projects and had my manager turn and assign the project to someone else.

I’m not too busy to take on these tasks, and I feel each of these is clearly in my job description. I feel I’m not trusted and not valued. Because of these decisions, I’m not getting near the experience I hoped my first job would give me. I know I need to address this with my supervisor so I’m looking for a script to say to “Hey! That’s my job!” in the moment, and maybe something to address the problem with my supervisor in private.

Ask your manager about it in private. It’s entirely possible that it’s not the slight you’re taking it as; in many organizations, the projects you list here wouldn’t absolutely have to fall to the communications person. (Keep in mind, too, that since this is your first job, there are going to be things that make sense to assign to people more experienced.)

But in any case, just ask about it. Say something like this to your manager: “I noticed you’ve been assigning jobs like X and Y to other people. I’d really love to do those things under my purview as communications — could I take those things on in the future? Or is there a reason you’d rather give them to Percival and Xaviera?”

3. Laid off but telling employers I’m still working there

I was recently laid off for business reasons, but was granted a generous severance package given my tenure with the company. They emphasized their good will and that they would leave me on the payroll for a while, which would be beneficial for finding another job. And they told me that I can say that I am still employed by them, just working remotely (I moved cities). The problem is, though, that they have already removed me from the company website and placed a note indicating that I *was* employed there (but clearly no longer am).

I would love to be able to tell employers that I am “presently employed” but given the circumstances it seems slightly dishonest even if it is technically true. Moreover, I wouldn’t want the employer to Google my name and company and see the note indicating that I no longer work there (It comes up easily in search results). Should I ask the company to remove the note, or just be glad for the severance and indicate on my resume that my employment ended? Will not being currently employed terribly hurt me in the job search process?

Don’t indicate that you’re still working somewhere you aren’t. Not only is it not really ethical, but there’s too much chance of being found out — for instance, if the hiring manager knows someone who works there, asks them about you, and hears “Percival hasn’t worked here for six weeks.”

4. Is it better to use multiple recruiters or just one?

When looking for a job, is it better to use multiple recruiters or to use just one?

Multiple. Recruiters don’t work for you — they work for the companies that hire them. Their job is to fill positions, not to get people jobs.

Also, in most fields, especially for someone without a lot of experience, you can’t really just pick out a recruiter and decide to work with them — they need to approach you about a specific job. (The exception here would be temp-to-perm or temp staffing agencies, but that’s a different thing.)

5. Employer wants my high school diploma

I graduated back in 1987 and unfortunately have lost or misplaced my diploma. I am in the process of getting a new job and the company asked for my diploma, so I sent them my high school transcripts. They are saying the transcripts are not good enough and they actually need my diploma. If my state and high school do not have copies of diplomas, how should I handle this?

What?! They’re requiring a copy of your high school diploma, from more than 25 years ago? Why on earth do they want that?

All you can do is (1) explain to them that you don’t have a copy and neither does your school, and (2) think hard about whether you want to work for a place that gives a fig about this.

{ 312 comments… read them below }

  1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    For #1, it sounds like if the coworker worked out in her hotel room then management wouldn’t know or care – their rationale seems to be “we don’t want people outside the organization to see you in workout clothes.” I know working out in a hotel room isn’t ideal, but it might be better than nothing. (I sometimes do things like pushups and squats and crunches in my living room when the weather’s icky and I don’t feel like going out.) As long as she showers and such afterwards, no one would be able to tell what she’d been doing.

    It seems like they view the conference a little like a performance, and don’t want you “breaking character” of being a staff member as long as you’re “on stage.” Kind of like how the woman playing Cinderella at Disneyland can’t sit down on a random bench to eat her PB&J at lunchtime.

    1. PK*

      This! There are tons of options for working out without a gym or the outdoors. If she can’t take items in her suitcase, one can even do resistance training/weight training with things like a gallon jug[s] of water or canned food, maybe even things like boxes of pamphlets that they may be storing in their rooms. She probably just has to google for some ideas for stuff like that if she doesn’t already know of some, or some pre-made circuit routines on tablet/phone apps/youtube she can follow along in the hotel room.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          This 7-minute workout got featured in the NY Times last fall. I find it does a pretty good job of wearing me out and working lots of muscle groups, but you could do it 2 or 3 times in a row for a more intense workout.

    2. nep*

      There are countless ways to get a good workout in a hotel room, indeed.
      The company’s rule strikes me as showing a bit of a ‘complex’, if I can put it that way. If the required work is getting done, what’s the problem? One of these employees working out in the gym shouldn’t be an indication they’re slacking off or fooling around; exercise is a vital component of health and balance — and helps many people perform more competently at work.
      (By the way, I find it odd at best that the company would specifically say employees’ only option during breaks is to go to room and ‘take a nap’. )

      1. Rayner*

        I don’t find it odd.

        Unless the employees have long breaks – 1 hour plus – by the time they change, work out, shower, and redress, they could be pushing late into time outside their breaks. And they’d have to look presentable – not sweaty or with wet hair from the shower – so I can see why they wouldn’t want them visiting the gym or working out during breaks.

        1. nep*

          What I find odd is the quite specific ‘take a nap’ — as in, what if during a break I want to go to my room and read a book?

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s weird wording, but they’d never know the difference, so I’m sure a book is fine too.

          2. Rayner*

            I think they just misspoke or something – I’d take it as “doing something in your room, that won’t make you need to change clothes or be late.”

            Otherwise it is weird.

            1. nep*

              Like slip in a wicked 10-min interval workout — feel like a million bucks and no one will ever know.

            2. neverjaunty*

              I don’t know how you misspeak that. They could easily have said “no pool or gym during conference hours”. What do they care if she spends her break getting a quiet cup of coffee at the hotel cafe or watches TV? I get the not wanting employees at the pool or gym during conference hours, but what they actually said sounds super control freaky.

              1. Valar M.*

                If the day is actually 6 am to 9 pm as the letter writer states, then they probably said “nap” because they are afraid the employees won’t get enough sleep. 9-6 at night is only 9 hours – if you cut out eating, showering, getting ready, etc. there’s not a ton of time for sleep. If you do that for 5 days in a row I’m sure that would be exhausting.
                It is a strange thing to say out of context, but in that context it seems like a normal comment to me.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  This. They may just be assuming everybody’s tired. And not want people to sleep in the meeting, LOL.

                2. neverjaunty*

                  I don’t understand a context where this makes sense, though. Presumably if the employees are tired they’re smart enough to understand that one of the approved ‘activities you may do in your hotel room’ would include grabbing a quick nap?

                3. Valar M.*

                  As fposte says just below, we don’t have a direct quote – just a description that they “indicated it”. I don’t know what this means – or the tone it was said in. I think there are definitely contexts where it was meant as “you should get rest during this exhausting schedule whenever possible”.

                4. Jamie*

                  That’s what I’m thinking – some people really do drag doing 15 hour days and I can see saying nap as a catch all to indicate the breaks are for resting.

                  I do see the logic of not wanting people out of uniform and acting as guests during the week – but as others have said I’m sure they wouldn’t care if they exercised in their room as long as it didn’t make them more tired than they would be otherwise. It’s a long day.

                  This doesn’t seem egregious to me.

              2. fposte*

                We don’t know what they actually said, though. The OP isn’t including it as a quote; she’s describing it.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                We have no idea how it came up. I would assume something like this:
                “That’s a long day and it’ll be exhausting; we’d like to be able to exercise during breaks to stay alert.”
                “You can’t do that, but you could nap in your room if you’re tired.”

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Or even “It’s a long day, so feel free to grab a quick nap in your room during a break if you need to.”

                  Lots of reasonable ways to say this.

                2. LBK*

                  And when positioned that way, I can also see how the manager wouldn’t want people working out (thus presumably consuming more energy) when they’re already going to be tired from working the conference all day. Even though obviously for this coworker, exercise energizes her rather than tires her out.

        2. AB Normal*

          I find it odd and insulting to the intelligence of employees to make a request like that. Even the wording AAM used,

          “This is a once-a-year trip, the hours are long, and there’s not really time during the day to do anything else.” sounds like treating your employees as children who need to be micromanaged not to get in trouble.

          What I’d find perfectly fine to say would be this:

          “This is a once-a-year trip, the hours are long, and the the number of breaks and their length are very limited. We require staff working on the event to, after a break, be back to your assigned position at the designated time, with no delays, composed and wearing the appropriate attire. We also require staff not to spend their breaks in community areas such as the pool, bar, or gym, to keep all exchanges with meeting attendees within event hours.”

          Then, whatever the staff wanted to do during their break within the rules is their business: nap or workout in your room, find a secluded area of the hotel where it’s impossible for meeting attendees to see you in order to exercise, and so on. In other words, do as skilled managers do, and explain the desired outcome, rather than trying to micromanage what the employee can or can’t do during their breaks when it’s really not relevant for the expected results.

          1. LBK*

            Honestly, your explanation feels even more condescending and micromanaging to me. Telling a group of adult workers to show up on time and in proper attire is a little insulting unless you have an existing problem.

            I would just say “We’d like to keep really strict boundaries between our staff and the rest of the conference attendees to maintain a professional image at all times, so please take any break time in your room.”

            1. snapple*

              I disagree. From my experience, things that may seem like common sense (like showing up on time, having a neat appearance), often are not and need to be stated explicitly. I liked the wording that AB Normal used and it removes all ambiguity about the company’s expectations. (It’s also quite reasonable that I’m just used to working in environments where this language is normal so my opinion is clouded by that).

              1. AB Normal*

                That’s my experience too, snapple. I’ve worked in environments with people new to the workforce that would think nothing of putting back their working clothes over a wet swimming suit (!) to go back to an event in a hotel after a break. So yes, LBK, it’s unfortunate but true that sometimes you have to be very clear to the staff: “no flip-flops, no dripping hair”, and so on. But my point is, you don’t need to go beyond the expected customer-facing behavior to start dictating what the staff can do in their breaks when it doesn’t affect the performance of their duties.

        3. money lady*

          My husband used to work at a hotel. Employees were not allowed to use the gym or pool even if they were not working.

        4. Elizabeth West*

          Not only that, but when will they have time? If this is anything like the non-profit conference I attended, they won’t. We worked 12-hour days and were exhausted at the end of it. We were on our feet the entire time. That in and of itself was a workout! It was so difficult that the company routinely gave people who worked the conference a paid week off after it was over.

        5. Maui*

          I was thinking that the breaks were brief and they didn’t want you having to shower or freshen up and risk reporting back late.

        6. Jennifer*

          Yeah, it sounds reasonable to me too to expect that you will not. have. time. for a regular workout under these circumstances.

    3. BOMA*

      That’s a good analogy. At first I thought the manager was being absurd in not allowing employees to work out during their break, but it makes sense when you view it as a performance.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Except that Cinderella at Disneyland isn’t sharing a hotel with the guests. If the concern were ‘we don’t want attendees to see you in lululemons’, then they’d be forbidding gym use before or after the conference too.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          And the attendees are children (I’m assuming). If it’s such a big deal the company should have staff stay at the next hotel down the road.

        2. Koko*

          That would be true for Cinderella, who needs to be in character every second she’s in her costume lest some poor child’s world of illusions come crashing down around him. But in the case of this company, the illusion they want to maintain is, “All of our employees are hard at work throughout this conference,” not, “Our employees only exist when working this conference.” If the conference hasn’t yet begun or has already ended, there’s less concern that some whiny I-never-get-no-good-customer-service entitled type is going to spot you in the gym and say, “I was trying to find someone to stamp my conference passport for an hour and I couldn’t find anyone on duty but I saw one of your employees WORKING OUT!! Why are you letting employees go to the gym when people on the floor need help?!” Whereas, unfortunately, there are miserable people who will say those type of things during conference hours if they spot an employee daring to take a legally-protected break period.

          When I worked in food service there were similar rules around protecting the customer’s view of himself as god of the lowly service minions. When I worked at a pizza place, those of us who took orders over the phone weren’t allowed to have food or drink at the phone with us. Not because they didn’t trust us not to eat/drink while on the phone (we knew not to do that) but because it “looks like we’re not working” if we’re sitting by the phones eating/drinking between calls. In most of the food places I worked we could only take our breaks in certain areas out-of-view of the customer because too many entiteld customers hate the idea that service reps do anything other than provide them service.

          1. Sarah*

            The entitled customer service complaints are exactly what I was thinking of as the rationale. Just like the people who are pissy if a retail employee won’t help them while on break. (As if the average person works without being paid, or at least without expecting some sort of job-related payoff for it.) If they got complaints about it last year, that would explain why it’s a new rule this year.

            The coworker the OP is talking about may be imagining that she’s being targeted, but if they really did look at her, maybe the complaints were about her. Or she showed up sweaty after her breaks last year, or tired herself out visibly (which the same entitled customers would be butthurt by). I do think it’s a pretty stupid and controlling rule but they could have had a valid reason for enacting it.

            1. C Average*

              So much of commercial enterprise depends on everyone’s ability to maintain the polite fiction that public-facing employees like serving their customers so much that they’d gladly do it even without pay. It’s considered a little gauche to bring actual money into the conversation, and it’s always awkward when these things collide: “We’re closing now” takes on a subtext of ” . . . and no, we don’t like you SO MUCH that we’ll stay open a little longer, just for you, even though we’re no longer getting paid after nine o’ clock.” So then the business has to figure out a way around this awkwardness, like an unstated policy of always staying open 15 minutes past the closing time. “I’m on my break now” becomes ” . . . and I’m not getting paid at the moment, and I would prefer to spend my free time doing other things than helping you, because I actually don’t help you out of the goodness of my heart–I help you because I get eleven bucks an hour to help you when I’m on the clock.” So the employer has to figure out how to camouflage or place out of the way employees who are on break, to maintain the illusion that the employee exists only in the capacity of a servant to the customer.

              I wish there wasn’t so much dancing around these realities. People have jobs because they’ve gotta pay the bills. They arrive in the morning and they go home at night. They have scheduled breaks in between. These realities shouldn’t have to be covered up or defended.


    4. C Average*

      When I was in Tokyo for a work trip last year, I worked out with an app called Nike+ Training Club in my room every morning. I used water bottles for hand weights. It’s one of many free apps offering a great workout with few or no props.

      Hotel gyms often don’t have particularly great equipment anyway.

      1. Elysian*

        Ooooooo water bottles for weights is really smart. And adjustable!! Noted for later business travel (my hotels never seem to have weights in their gyms, even when I AM allowed to use them) :)

      2. Office Mercenary*

        There are inflatable hand weights for traveling too. You can fill them with water so they’re a specific weight and then empty them so they pack flat. I think they go up to 5 lb or so.

    5. Kelly O*

      Totally agree with this.

      I’ve worked at conferences before, and we were really expected to be “on” during the conference hours. That meant from 6:30 when the breakfast opened up, until after dinner each night. Basically it was just so we could be available quickly if something came up.

      I would often take a break and go to the room to freshen up, or catch a quick nap, or even change shoes or clothes for an activity. But if my phone rang I had to run, right then. Working out would make that a bit less than possible, especially if you’re working up a good sweat.

      Crunches on the floor of your own room? Sure. But an hour-long cardio session or taking advantage of the group classes in the spa? Nope, not during conference hours. We did have a day every week between sessions and we could do more fun stuff then.

    6. Lynn Whitehat*

      Ha! I was just coming here to post this. Check out Convict Conditioning, You Are Your Own Gym, and Body by You. There’s also yoga and various fitness DVDs like Insanity.

    7. Vicki*

      I was going to say something similar. Bring a yoga mat so you don;t need to sit on the carpet in the room and exercise there.

  2. Sarah*

    #5 – I was homeschooled and don’t even possess a high school diploma (although I earned a bachelor’s degree). Can’t imagine working for a company who needed a copy! Insanity.

    1. Youth Services Librarian*

      Me too! I think my mom made one but I certainly don’t have it around. If it comes to that, I have no idea where my college and grad school diplomas are either. I actually started my current job a week before I finally graduated – and didn’t get my diploma until the fall due to an issue with a professor (she went home to Romania and went on a lengthy backpacking trip without entering my final grades)

      1. Camellia*

        Hang on to those physical documents. I’ve worked in my field for 34 years and each new job has required that I provide them a copy of my diplomas.

        I “started” my latest FTE job just 6 weeks ago, after working at the company for 3 years as a contractor in the same role and, yup, as part of the background check they wanted copies of my diplomas.

        1. Vicki*

          Yowza. What is your field?

          I have never needed a HS diploma. I didn’t need my College diplomas. I just told the first company where I got my MS and they did a check.

          I told the second company that I had worked at First Company and things keep rolling from there.

          1. sunny-dee*

            Yeah, same here. I have never had an employer ask for my diplomas or transcripts or anything more than what was on my resume.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          I haven’t had to prove my education since I stopped working service-industry jobs.

          I’ve worked for the last 25 years in theater (backstage) and in tech (system engineering / management).

    2. M. in Austin!*

      I was homeschooled in high school and don’t have a diploma either! Honestly, I don’t think I even have my transcripts any more. My master’s program didn’t even ask for the transcripts when I applied. I think if you have a college degree (or two!) high school transcripts and the diploma would be a useless.

    3. money lady*

      There are companies that will, for a small fee, verify education. Our HR person uses them . Not sure if they do high school but definitely college. Could you not call the school and see if they can send you something? But I do agree that I would wonder about an employer who asked for this so many years after the fact. If its a non-profit and the position is covered by the grant it could be required by the grantee.

    4. Shana*

      I have a homeschool diploma through a correspondence school, but when I got it the more accepted practice amongst the other homeschoolers I knew was to essentially dual enroll in community college classes your senior year and not bother to get a HS diploma. An associates degree can get you in to most 4 year colleges without a HS diploma. I don’t even list the school we used for certification purposes on applications due to personal conflict with their teachings, just list Home and go on to list my post HS degrees.

  3. Dan*


    I used to work for a government contractor who for some strange reason (government required, I presume) tracked our high school location and graduation date. Before HR got smart and hid the info in a protected folder, I once found out where everybody went and when they graduated.

    But I don’t remember actually submitting a hard copy transcript or diploma.

    1. Chinook*

      “Before HR got smart and hid the info in a protected folder, I once found out where everybody went and when they graduated.”

      My nephew who goes to my old school giggles when he explains that his mom, aunt and uncle all graduated from his K-6 school. Of course, we went there when it was K-12 (10 years of grads = approx. 100 of us alumni), but anyone who doesn’t know that may wonder how I got my job with only a grade 6 education.

      1. Chinook*

        And, ironically, I don’t think I ever received a high school diploma from the province. Our grad ceremonies were in May, before provincial exams, and we got certificates of completion. The schools don’t issue the diplomas, the provincial government does (I think) showing we passed provincial standards. So, other than transcripts, I would have nothing.

  4. Chris*

    #5 is absolutely insane. Especially if you have higher degrees. But even if you don’t, your work history in the intervening decades should overrule a piece of paper that says you got a least a C average in algebra 1

    1. Raine*

      I have a higher degree and am not even sure I have a copy of the diploma. And no one has ever wanted it. (Though they have asked for the transcripts.)

      1. Jennifer M.*

        I work for a company that sends consultants all over the world. There is at least one country that require that we submit copies of the diploma, not the transcript, as part of the visa application.

        1. Chinook*

          Japan required a copy of my university degree to get my visa to teach ESL. I sent it to my employer the day afetr I received it along with a note pelading that they treat it carefully because it cost me a lot of money. It now hangs in my bedroom, impressing my cat.

        2. Jennifer*

          Yeah, foreign countries, ESPECIALLY CHINA, want original documentation, ESPECIALLY YOUR ORIGINAL DIPLOMA. (And from what I’ve heard, they don’t give back the diploma to the student.) I say this because China loses diplomas in the mail so frequently that we strongly encourage people NOT to have them mailed there. And then we have to order them a replacement diploma. And I have been forced to write to the Chinese government explaining to them that just because the second (or third) copy of the diploma says “reissued” on it does not mean that we forged it. Because seriously, China will not acknowledge anything other than an original diploma, immediately received after graduation. Which we can’t do either.


          All diplomas should be saved and treated like gold, you guys. Because of surprise crap like this.

  5. Seal*

    #5 – Every transcript I’ve ever gotten from the various schools I’ve attended (HS, university, 2 graduate schools and a post graduate program) indicates what degree I earned and when. That is considered the official record of my education, not the ornate piece of paper they sent me after I completed each program. Any idiot with a computer and halfway decent printer can make a diploma – that’s why employers and graduate programs request official transcripts directly from a school as proof of graduation. Do you really want to work for a company that doesn’t know that?

    1. Chris*

      The only issue is when a transcript doesn’t list graduation date and final grades. But frankly, I’ve only heard of this happening once or twice. I ran into this issue while applying for grad school… many wanted the actual diploma, too, even though the transcript had final grades and date of conferment

      1. Annie*

        This is usually when you’re applying for a program/job prior to the final grades are issued.
        I was accepted to college in December when they only had my grades through Junior year and first semester mid-terms. Had I bombed my classes for the rest of the year (even if I had graduated) my acceptance could have been revoked. I had to send them an official copy of my final transcript and my diploma for proof that I had completed everything as I said I had.

        As to the OP I know I’ve had to upload my college transcript for a few jobs (I graduated 7 years ago!) but no one has asked more than – did you graduate and when and where did you attend.

        1. Betsy*

          This actually happened to someone I knew in HS. He was accepted to a school in December, and it was revoked after he failed 1 class and got Ds in 3 more in senior year.

    2. Ben*

      HR is one of the most clueless departments in any organization and usually have almost nothing to do with your day to day, especially in a big company.

      I don’t judge a company by their HR department, so no, i wouldn’t exclude a company because they are clueless about diplomas and HS transcripts.

      1. neverjaunty*

        The HR department is part of the company. If you work at a company you have to deal with the HR department. So yes, it makes sense to me to judge a company by its HR.

        (Especially since it seems like when there is one of these dumb requirements, management and HR always points the finger at the other and says “well WE think it’s silly, but THEY require it, so….”)

        1. A Jane*

          Agreed. Once I started dealing with the company’s HR department, I knew I was going to start looking again soon.

      2. HM in Atlanta*

        An HR department is only as good as the company requires it to be. If an HR department is clueless, it’s because the company leadership allows it.

    3. Suisse is strange*

      In other countries (I’m looking at you, Switzerland) it is standard to ask for diplomas, where they (the diplomas) are the official record, not the transcripts.

      I went to school in the U.S. and so my diplomas are irreplaceable (because my schools won’t reprint diplomas, since the transcript is the official record) and I am terrified I am going to lose them.

        1. Suisse is Strange*

          Oh no no, they don’t want scans of the diplomas, they want the original (and only the original), that would be far to simple! *le sigh*

          (but yes, I do have scans and copies around in hopes that maybe crying and showing copies + my orignal sealed transcripts would be enough to warm a cold bureaucratic heart.)

          1. Suisse is Strange*

            For the record, I’m not sure if all companies do this, and if they do, how much they care about having the originals. I’m hear for grad school, and there it was very important they have the original, but a private business might be more accomodating.

            1. Cheesecake*

              In Switzerland they indeed value certificates , but what you described is typical for any educational institution in Europe. I haven’t heard any place accepting students on a basis of a paper copy of diploma. Not only i had to present originals,I have to make an apostile on my high school diploma/transcript to be accepted.

              When applying for a job they usually want a copy of your uni diploma/transcript/ whatever. I have never heard of any company asking a high school diploma (if one has done university). Obviously, you never provide any originals, copies only.

          2. De (Germany)*

            If my experience in my own country is anything to go by, they should be perfectly happy with notarized copies. As soon as someone with Authority (note the capitalization) put a stamp on it, it’s fine.

            1. Suisse is Strange*

              Ah, danke schön for this (and to you too, Cheesecake!) I literally (in the literal sense of the word) have had nightmares of my diplomas falling into the river on my way to provide them to my hypothetical dream job. I feel a bit more reassured now.

            2. Jennifer*

              Sometimes they want the original diploma notarized…which makes a mess of the diploma.


      1. Anon1234*

        The US also requires the *actual* diploma when you are getting your TN Visa (i.e. Professionals under NAFTA). Because of NAFTA there are some degrees which allow you to work on both sides of the border and they require you show your actual diploma to prove it/get your visa at your port of entry. So not just the Swiss.

        1. manager anonymous*

          At my present job before I started they said that when I started packing and came across my diplomas to set them aside as I couldn’t start work without them. Sure enough when I emptied a bookshelf there was a padded envelope of diplomas.

          1. Tina*

            My graduate school diploma is huge, not just standard 8.5 by 11 and professionally framed (it was a really big deal in my family, since I was the only one to even go to college). I can’t imagine physically carrying it to an employer.

        2. CC*

          Yup. And because you get a TN at the port of entry, that means carrying your actual original diploma with you for the entire trip.

          It would be nice if one could get a TN prior to the trip.

          1. Angelfish*

            You can only get a TN at point of entry, but I didn’t bring my diploma, just a scan of it, when I applied for one in Canada. I wasn’t granted a TN because the immigration officer didn’t think I needed it, but the absence of the original wasn’t an issue.

      2. Annie*

        Can you go back to your school system? I know someone got a reprinted diploma when there was a house fire- but she went through our school system (in MD its the county) – that was almost 5 years ago though.

      3. Jennifer*

        Oh gack, really? That’s ridiculous. And here I thought our policy was stupid for only letting you have one diploma at a time. (Hah, like we can prove you lost it or not? Why can’t you pay for as many damn diplomas as you need, anyway?)

    4. Brianne*

      There are some regulatory agencies that provide certifications to companies which require this kind of documentation. Depending on the risk tolerance of the company’s compliance officer, it is possible that the high school diploma would be required as documentation that the employee meets minimum qualifications of the job. Especially if there is no higher degree indication high school graduation.

  6. Gene*

    Typo in first sentence of answer to #1, “is” vice “it”.

    Somebody in that organization deserves a swift kick. If you are working people that much each day for essentially a work week, let them release stress the best way that works for them (except the bar.)

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      Yes, the policy in #1 is stupid. I don’t think the OP should do much about it except file it away as a stupid policy, and if this company has a number of these, decide whether these are stupid policies they can live with or not.

      I don’t get the reasoning for this policy. Someone above mentioned that maybe the company doesn’t want clients seeing them outside their role of employee at the conference. This is so dumb (not the comment, but if this is the reason, it is silly). Working at a conference is not a performance, and I assume everyone attending the conference is an adult and knows that the employees exist outside of the conference. It’s not like elementary school when I was shocked the first time I saw my teacher at the grocery store. Gasp- people do other things besides stay at work?!? As long as the employees are not doing unprofessional things that can be seen by the attendees (getting drunk, being otherwise loud and obnoxious, etc.) then I think this is a silly policy that does more harm to morale than any good it might do for the company reputation.

      1. MK*

        Also, it’s very unlikely that the clients will even recognize someone they have seen only once, in specific role and wearing some kind of uniform.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Also ALSO, presumably the only way clients see employees at the gym is if they are staying at the hotel too – so if an employee is working out before or after the conference hours, wouldn’t clients see them thn too?

          I don’t understand AAM’s comment that they just want people to be focused on working. If that’s all it was they wouldn’t feel the need to issue orders about breaktime activity.

          Sounds like somebody in management has an Issue with co-worker’s exercise.

          1. Colette*

            I wonder whether there have been issues in the past – someone being late coming back from a break because they were exercising, or being on time but having an extremely red face, or not showering – and instead of addressing the issue directly, they’re making a blanket policy.

            1. neverjaunty*

              “Punishing everybody because we’re too wimpy/incompetent to take it up with the employee who created the problem” is also kinda bad management though….

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I could see them just not wanting to deal with it happening again and so saying, “hey, please don’t hit the gym in the middle of what’s essentially an all-day work event.” I don’t think that’s crazy or bad management.

            2. Jamie*

              I didn’t even think of the showering thing, but that’s a great point.

              If the breaks are short I don’t know how you’d have time to change into work out clothes, work out, shower, change back, and make yourself presentable before going back on duty.

              Maybe I’m just slow but I’d need a good 40 minutes just to change and shower.

          2. Jamie*

            I think this is how I felt when I initially sent in my question. It seemed odd to me that they would specify that you could take a nap but could not go work out during any break. It gave off the impression they were specifically targeting that employee. However, my thoughts have changed a bit on it and especially from reading all of the comments.

            1. Jamie*

              Sorry – not to be weird about this – but I didn’t use my gravatar last couple of days and wanted to clarify this is not me.

              Not that I care about the name, I just didn’t want people to think the OP and I were the same person and I was replying with incongruous statements.

              1. Jamie*

                And apparently I’m still having trouble typing my own name for the gravatar to engage.

                Spelling is hard.

                1. fposte*

                  Really? I tried to do one and I thought it said I wasn’t allowed because somebody else had that username. I’ll try again!

                2. Jamie*

                  Yeah – you put the email you use for gravatar in the email field. I didn’t do this for a long time because I thought it would make my email visible – but it doesn’t.

                  And @neeta – I know I was mispelling my own name in my email. :) so it wasn’t linking to my gravatar account.

                3. Neeta*

                  Jamie: oh sorry… I thought you meant the “Name” field in the comment form.
                  I see you managed to get it right. :) I rely heavily on autocomplete for stuff like this.

                4. Jamie*

                  Me too, usually, but I recently cleared my cache so I can’t find anything. And it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I need my cache to spell my name properly. :)

  7. Chris*

    I’ve thought a bit about #1, and while I still think they’re being a bit unreasonable, I can understand their policy a bit.

    Not so much with the “presentable” stuff, that’s nonsense. But you’re staffing the conference. You aren’t in a conventional work situation. If there’s a disaster, and they suddenly need all hands on deck, they want to be able to just call the rooms. Not send someone searching the various options inside the hotel.

    I don’t think I would make that choice for my policy, but meh. I know it’s not quite the same, but you can do a LOT of working out in the hotel room. Just ask prisoners in solitary…

    Or go work out for 30 minutes at 9 pm. If it’s that important to the person, I would think the end of the day would be better anyway. You’ll still get a full 8. I know it’s a long day, but again, unconventional work situation.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I shouldn’t think they’d need to stay in their hotel room to be reachable. To quote Jed Bartlett (West Wing): “If only technology could invent some way to get in touch with you in an emergency. Some sort of telephonic device with a personalized number we could call to let you know that we needed you.”

      1. Valar M.*

        How many people have their cell phone readily available in the pool or working out? I know lots of people that leave those in their gym bags.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          If they told you you had to be reachable at a moments notice, you could make the decision to keep it on the treadmill, or not go swimming. Really, it’s about letting the employees be adults and decide how to figure it out. Tell them what you want for the end result (be available) then it’s up to them.

          1. Valar M.*

            But we have lots of rules in places of employment – such as dress codes, check in/out policies, etc. that you could argue should be something that adults could just decide/figure out for themselves. It usually happens because (an) employee(s) has shown they’re not capable or willing for whatever reason – and a rule is born.

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              Yes, yes, I see your point in the bigger employment sense, but I’m talking just about this situation, not employment in general.

              1. Valar M.*

                What I took from this specific situation and the LW’s language was that this person was an “exception” and was “singled out” and that they are very dedicated to their exercise regime. This made me think that perhaps the management had reasons to believe that this person might be problematic in some way – but generalized to all conference goers in the interest of being fair. I agree that they likely handled this the wrong way, and certainly that employees should be treated as adults – but I can see where this could happen with the best of intentions.

                1. fposte*

                  Though I think we might be leaping if we’re assuming the OP’s friend was the reason for the policy, since all we have to go on is that she was looked at.

        2. Kate M*

          I don’t know, I think with all the fitness tracking apps and people using their cell phones as ipods now, more people probably keep their phones with them working out than don’t. But even if they don’t usually keep a cell with them when they’re working out, it wouldn’t be hard to do that for the five days you’re there. Not being able to get in touch with people in other places in the hotel just doesn’t seem like a legitimate reason. (I know that’s not the reason the OP stated, but I find those other reasons silly too.)

          1. Tina*

            Though I’ve also been to gyms where they require you look up your cell phone and can’t bring it with you. The gym at my university does that, and if they see you with it, you’re asked to lock it up or leave. I think some of the concern is privacy of other patrons, and people not taking photos. Probably also had something to do with liability and loss and not wanting to deal with phones forgotten all over the gym.

              1. Kelly O*

                Me too. Between the fitness tracker, the podcast player/music player, and making sure my child is not destroying something while I’m away… not to mention my gym has its own app, which is kind of cool.

                (Although I do admit when I weigh myself, I take a picture of the screen. It’s on the wall at eye level, and you can see nothing except the display the way it’s set up.)

            1. OhNo*

              The gym I go to does has a no phone policy, too – although their philosophy is based on not wanting people distracted during the classes.

              That said, we’re talking about a hotel gym. I very, very sincerely doubt that they have any such policy in place. If reaching people was actually the concern, keeping cell phones with them would be a perfectly legitimate compromise.

              I kind of doubt that’s the reason, though. The way this is worded strikes me as the company being really controlling of their employees’ behavior.

  8. Billy*

    #1 I’m on the co-worker’s side. A work-life balance is key, not only for a healthy life, but to also maintain a successful career, and to mitigate the stress that comes with the job. How she utilizes her break time is nobody’s business.

    1. Zillah*

      I’d agree if this was a regular thing, but for a meeting that lasts for less than a week once a year? I’m just not seeing how that’s going to significantly disturb a person’s work-life balance.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, this. They’re not saying you can’t even work out as long as you’re employed here. It’s one week. She won’t die.

        1. Valar M.*

          Yeah. I agree. I think its a big ask, but I don’t think its awful. It’s just for those few days. It also makes me wonder if they singled her out that way because of some reason the LW doesnt’ know of or didn’t mention. I’ve had coworkers before that work out in the middle of the work day and show up late/wet from a shower/disheveled etc. I can see how that might be an issue at a big conference.

        2. neverjaunty*

          That could justify any policy though, right?

          “The CEO forbids everyone from eating dairy products while at this conference.” Hey, it won’t kill you to give up cheese for five days once a year.

          “You may not use any downtime to nap.” So don’t party after the workday, go straight back to your room, you should have plenty of time to get more sleep, right?

          1. aebhel*

            This. The issue isn’t that this one thing is the end of the world, the issue is that it’s a stupid, invasive, and arbitrary policy about how adults spend their non-work time at a conference.

            If they forbade employees from drinking at the bar, that would be one thing, but this is just bizarre.

            1. Valar M.*

              But they are only asking this of them during their shift breaks when there are conference activities happening. Her supervisor said she can work out before or after. I don’t think its all that abnormal for employers to have rules about what you do during shift breaks, when to outsiders it can appear if you are technically on the clock since activities are ongoing.

            2. LBK*

              I dunno, I can see being a little weirded out by seeing someone who was just giving a presentation to me wearing a sports bra and running shorts sweating it out on a treadmill. It’s definitely a breach in the image of professionalism. I even find it a little weird when I see my coworkers in their workout gear during the workday.

              1. aebhel*

                I dunno, I guess it wouldn’t bother me. I already know that people exercise, (and eat, and wear jeans, for that matter). As long as they’re not behaving inappropriately, I don’t see any reason that strictly professional appearance has to be maintained even on breaks.

                1. Cassie*

                  This. Some of our faculty use the campus gym, which is usually full of students and some staff. So the distinguished professor is in running shorts and a tee shirt and jogging on the treadmill next to you. So what?

                  I’ve even heard said distinguished professor leads a group of his students on runs through campus – though I don’t know if this is true or not.

    2. Fish Microwaver*

      You do see this sort of hypocritical idiocy in health care quite frequently. The staff are not treated like the principles of healthy living apply to them at all.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, my mother works for one of the major health insurance carriers (United/Aetna/BCBS) and her health insurance is horrible.

  9. Zillah*

    #1 – I’m not really seeing the outrage, honestly. OP, why do you feel like no swimming is a reasonable restriction but no gym isn’t?

    To me, it seems like there’s a similar problem with both: it impacts your ability to be on hand and look professional quickly. It seems to me that it’s actually pretty reasonable to say that if you have a short break, you can use it for a snack or a nap but not something that will get you sweaty and probably leave you needing to shower.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      Seems like it would be a better policy then to tell employees that even on breaks, they need to be ready to come back within 5, 10, 15 minutes notice, or something like that, rather than dictating what they do on their break. It’s up to them to decide what they can do and still be available/presentable in the given time frame. Example- what if they have short hair or wear a bathing cap and don’t need forever for their hair to dry and look presentable? Some people can get ready super fast after a workout. Some people still look dazed and confused after a short nap (I am one of those).

      1. Sarahnova*

        Uh, yeah, I couldn’t help but wonder how presentable most people would be if summoned in the middle of a nap!

        This policy would p*ss me off too – not so much because I NEED to work out in the gym as because I’d resent being treated as a child and managed even in my rare offtimes, rather than told what’s needed of me and trusted to manage myself. And I, too, find exercise of huge benefit in managing stress and tiredness – nothing energises you like to get moving physically when your brain is fried.

      2. Zillah*

        But the OP says that the no-swimming thing was “fair enough” – they draw the line at no working out. I’m just not seeing the distinction.

        Is it a little silly? Sure. But I just don’t see what’s so outrageous about it – it’s just for a few days, and the employee in question apparently only has a couple times during the conference that she has a long enough break to fit a workout into in the first place. A couple workouts during one event a year seems like a bit of an unnecessary hill to die on.

        I don’t know. I guess the way I see it, the employees are basically in the workplace during event hours. If the company wants to say that they must be dressed professionally during that time – which seems to be the issue here, at least from my reading – I think that’s their prerogative. It’s a bit silly, but it’s their prerogative.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          I don’t understand the OP’s reasoning for swimming versus workout either.

        2. Alter_ego*

          My assumption is that swimming is different because it’s “fun”. Obviously there’s a difference between doing laps and splashing around in the shallow end, but the perception is there that going to the hotel pool is a vacation activity.

          1. Rayner*

            But so’s working out. Some people swim as part of their workout – that’s why they have lap times designated in pools.

            If a health focused company can’t figure out that swimming is also a health focused activity as well as attending a zumba class or pounding the treadmill, I’d be worried.

        3. Sarahnova*

          Yeah, I don’t really get the distinction. Maybe the OP feels it’s understandable the company wouldn’t want people seeing its employees in a swimsuit? Confused face.

          I don’t think the policy is outRAGEous, but it is annoying – the conference is a time when, for those of us that way inclined, working out would make a significant difference to how we feel & cope. Plus I’d wonder what else the company is prepared to micromanage. If this is the only thing, then yeah, I’d just do a yoga programme in my hotel room (I actually travel with an SD card with exercise programmes loaded on it for this very purpose), but I’d keep watch for other ill-advised policies, and too many would get me browsing job vacancies.

          1. Simonthegrey*

            I imagined it was because the company didn’t want employees showing back up with pool-wet hair? Maybe that’s because I have super long hair and trying to dry it would take twice as long as the break itself.

        4. Sunflower*

          I’m imagining during these breaks, the people are somewhat on-call. In a gym, if you know you’re on call, you probably have your phone right in front of you and see if someone is calling. If you’re swimming, you can’t see you phone and you’d have to get out of the pool to check it. That’s where I’m thinking OP’s thinking is coming from

    2. Jamie*

      Zillah, OP here to #1. After thinking about the issue for a few days, my outrage isn’t really that strong now. The distinction I had between swimming and using the gym was that going to the pool could potentially be interpreted as a leisure activity, such as if a staff member went to the pool and was just laying around reading a book.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Even so, isn’t that an acceptable way to use… a break? I could understand the company not wanting people reading a book on the conference stand, or whatever, but I think most reasonable clients understand that people get breaks and are permitted to relax on them, especially if they’re away from the principal place of business. Besides, I don’t think a client/fellow attendee could even see someone doing this without being at the pool themselves.

        1. Valar M.*

          I’m arguing details here – but more often then not hotel pools have large bays of windows, many of them that back up to a main parking lot or a main hallway.

          1. Peeping Thomasina*

            Example: The Wynn hotel in Las Vegas has conference rooms with balconies that overlook the adult topless swimming pool. Apparently the cell phone coverage is better out there because at breaks all the attendees went out to the balcony to make calls. I also assume that to block the cell phone coverage during the event times, the organizers pulled the balcony curtains closed.

  10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    I get #1.

    We have a gym at work that has heavy participation during the lunch hours. The convention is that people change into their clothes in the adjacent bathroom facility and change back into work attire before roaming elsewhere – there’s even a shower.

    Occasionally folks leak out and it’s jarring to see a couple of women in yoga pants and sports bras in the midst of business casual. Not jarring enough to actually *care*, but I’d care if we had a client on site visit that day.

    The way the rule was presented makes it sound more draconian than I think it actually is.

    (I did have to tell one of my people to stop hanging out in our front lobby in her yoga pants and sports bra though. she probably thinks I’m draconian also.)

    1. GrumpyBoss*

      +1. I do not look nice when I work out. The Lululemon jerk was referring to me when he said that not all women should wear his clothes. They are not flattering on me (and it isn’t a size thing, it’s a curve thing). But dammit, they are comfortable. I would be mortified if a client or someone senior to me saw me in my gym attire – even if before I worked out and got all smelly and sweaty.

      I’m not sure how the policy was worded, so maybe it could stand to use some rephrasing. But in my experience, “ridiculous” policies are born from experience, not from micromanaging oversight. If the OP feels this strongly about it, they could always approach management and subtly inquire about the history. It’s easier to change beliefs and perspectives than to argue a policy without historical context.

      1. Cassie*

        This is one of my (minor) concerns now that I’ve been working out during lunch. Unlike the rest of my coworkers who work out at lunch, I sit in a cubicle. I can’t just close the door, change my clothes, and make a quick exit from the building. I have to walk to the restroom with my bag of workout clothes, change, walk back to my cubicle and put my bag (now with work clothes) away, then exit the building. After I’m done exercising, I have to walk to my cubicle, pick up my bag, walk to the restroom, change, and then walk back. I’ve run into some students and professors while wearing my workout clothes ( on the way to and from the restroom) – I felt a little awkward, but hopefully they don’t care. (It’s a college campus, half the kids are wearing gym clothes to class anyway, and most of our faculty dress pretty casually anyway – maybe a button-down shirt and khakis; some wear shorts and tees).

    2. neverjaunty*

      I would get it more if the company actually presented that as the rationale. It would still be pretty silly, because you don’t look any better exercising at 5:30 am than youndo exercising at noon.

      On thinking about it I wonder if somebody in management got the dumb idea that this is a workers’ comp risk.

    3. LBK*

      The way the rule was presented makes it sound more draconian than I think it actually is.


    4. Judy*

      We’ve had in the past, a fitness “club” at work, where they brought in an instructor and each participant paid per week to work out Tues & Thurs from 5-5:45. We don’t have a dedicated gym area, or any women’s bathrooms that have more than 3 stalls. What a fuss about us walking around in shorts and t-shirts to get from the bathrooms to the large meeting room (“auditorium”) we were using. Don’t think about leaving your things at your desk and dropping by to pick them up on the way out of the building.

      I get that it’s not business casual, but by that time most everyone is gone, and we don’t have clients in the office.

    5. C Average*

      This whole conversation makes me thank my lucky stars that I work for the kind of company I do.

      Our business is sports-related, and we walk (and run and jump and throw and catch and ride and lift and row) the talk. We have two gyms on campus that see heavy use, as well as a track and two running trails that are always busy. We have basketball hoops in many of the open areas around campus, we have soccer fields, we have a bike-share program.

      It’s not uncommon for us to work out and then hang out in the office for the rest of the day in our workout attire. It’s also not uncommon for employees to do product-testing workouts at some point in the workday and to return to work without changing afterward. We’re not client-facing, and no one smells noticeably, and we’re all wearing the company’s brand and exemplifying the brand’s dedication to fitness and activity. We are comfortable and appropriately covered.

      It is not frowned upon AT ALL to schedule your meetings around your workout. Some meetings are actually scheduled as workouts–one colleague and I often go running together and brainstorm as we run.

      I know we’re not the norm. But whenever I see knee-jerk horrified reactions to the idea of workouts bleeding into workplace activities, I have to offer up our example. There really is no separation between the gym and the office environment for us, and it’s actually pretty awesome.

      1. OhNo*

        Wow, your workplace sounds fantastic! I wish I could work at a place that viewed exercise as a legitimate use of time, and not some useless activity that should only be done on your own time.

        (I’m cranky, can you tell? One of my coworkers this morning tried to argue that I shouldn’t take time off to go to a martial arts seminar because it wasn’t “an appropriate use of vacation time”.)

        1. C Average*

          “Not appropriate use of vacation time?” Whisky tango foxtrot!

          Isn’t the very definition of vacation time time away from work doing something you want to do? I think a martial arts seminar sounds like an awesome vacation.

      2. Betsy Bobbins*

        I need to work where you do! I would be the happiest of campers if I could incorporate my workouts into my work hours, as it stands I’m away from home at least 12 hours a day so I can get both my work and workouts in every day. A running meeting sounds like heaven. And rowing too! Nirvana.
        If you’re located in the Pacific Northwest I’m quitting my job immediately.

        1. C Average*

          Actually, we ARE located in the Pacific Northwest. :)

          It can be kind of hard to get a job here, and I’d never claim it’s all kittens and rainbows. I find it to be a pretty amazing work environment, though, and well worth the effort it took to get my foot in the door.

      3. Zillah*

        That definitely sounds awesome!

        I think the issue a lot of us our having with workouts bleeding into workplace activities, though, is to do with this specific situation: it’s not just a normal workday, it’s a conference, so it’s not just your coworkers you’ll be seeing.

        1. C Average*

          Yeah, I totally agree that a conference is a unique scenario that’s a little different from the day-to-day workplace environment.

          And I think a lot of the practical objections cited in this thread are valid–questions about whether someone can be back on the clock and fully put together after a workout within the break time, concerns about someone getting back from a workout disheveled, concerns about whether the person could be available right away if needed during the break, etc.

          What I don’t agree with is the idea that the customers are these delicate flowers who couldn’t handle the cognitive dissonance of seeing an employee working out during an authorized break rather than being on duty, or that customers are going to draw unflattering conclusions about the company’s wastefulness and the employees’ sloth if they’re not visibly working every single minute of the conference. These seem like patently ridiculous objections to me.

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            I 100% agree with your second paragraph, and based on what the OP said about the Board, this should apply to them as well.

  11. Melissa*

    #5 WHAT? I’m a 1986 grad, so we are close in age. My high school closed for good in 1992 and my diploma was lost in a move from Georgia to Louisiana in 1996. There is no “getting a copy of my diploma” period. And Alison is right … if a prospective employer actually asks for a copy, then I don’t need to be working there.

    1. Artemesia*

      College transcripts usually include the high school graduated from as well. I am sure I could not produce my high school diploma.

      But there are countries where it is the norm. In China for example if your paper copies of schooling are lost (or as happens are stolen by someone who wants to use them), you are in seriously deep yogurt. There was a scandal a few years ago about the children of important people being given files earned by other people and those other people being SOL when it came to employment opportunities because they couldn’t prove their training. These were thefts from school or government offices.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yeah, I’m another one whose high school has long since closed.
        Supposedly a group of alumni have saved the records for anyone who needs them, but I think it would be a major hassle.

      2. Judy*

        I’m also pretty sure that my bachelor’s degree transcript lists in the header my high school name and diploma and date. I know after my acceptance, in the fall of senior year of high school, I had to send copies of my final transcript to my university at the end of the school year.

  12. Freya*

    I have encountered this “high school diploma” craziness in some American companies; they actually do it worldwide. I applied for a job at Baker&Mckenzie and they requested my high school diploma. I provided my bachelor and two masters diplomas, but they said that without the high school diploma I would not be invited to an interview. I passed. Come on!

    1. Alice*

      I ran up against this when applying for things here in Germany. I got my transcripts sent to me, and they said they needed the actual diploma with a seal (germans go ga-ga for stamps of any kind, otherwise its not official). On a trip to the US, I dropped by my HS with my original diploma -just- to get a couple copies with an embossed stamp. The secretary and I had a good chuckle over it.

      1. Suisse is Strange*

        Dear Alice, please, please tell me more about what your highschool did! Did they provide brand-spankin’ new diplomas or just a copy of the diploma, but with a real sticker-stamp thing??

      2. Meredith*

        I also had to provide a HS diploma when I was working as an English tutor in a German university. I was a college junior studying abroad. My parents had to dig it out of storage and mail it to me. I understand that German conventions about diplomas, but I still thought it was strange (and inconvenient).

    2. Valar M.*

      I mean – can you get a bachelors without an HS diploma? I thought this was impossible, so you’d think this would be a simple stand in.

      1. Artemesia*

        The real question is why would it matter? If you have a BA or masters or PhD, who cares if you went to high school?

      2. Reader*

        There have been programs for decades where you can go to college after junior year in high school. And home schooled children don’t always have anything that would be considered a diploma.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, I know at least 3 people that did this. One person only needed 1 additional credit in English, so her high school counted her freshman English class and issued her a diploma for the year she was supposed to have graduated high school. Another took the GED the summer between her junior year of high school and starting college just so she would have something in hand, and another person just technically never graduated from high school.

      3. Chinook*

        In Canada (atleast at the U of A when I was ther ein the ’90’s), you can attend university as a mature student after something like age 24 and they can be asked to ignore your high school transcripts or lack thereof and, instead, give you an entrance exam. For example, a friend of my father’s has a B. Eng. even though he was a high school drop out. I think this all reflects the fact that, at one time, not everyone finished high school but instead dropped out to work,

  13. Lamb*

    For #1 I’m wondering if the real reason for the rule against working out is a concern about the workers trying to fit a workout into a shorter break (surely they get breaks each of the 4-5 days of the conference, but OP says only 1 or 2 would fit a workout) and not having time to shower before going back to work. If the coworker’s reputation at work is of someone passionate about daily exercise, management may have expected that she would try to fit in those daily workouts whenever she could, and if they’ve ever seen her return to work sweaty after a brisk walk on her lunch break they may assume that she would be similarly cavalier about the need to freshen up at the conference.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, maybe this is just people in my office but “a quick workout” seems to be a minimum of 45 minutes, between getting changed, warming up, working out, showering and getting dressed again. I can sort of see management concerns about timeliness even if the coworker is certain she can fit it into the allotted time.

    2. Artemesia*

      I have to think that this ‘policy’ results from the behavior in the past of this particular employee. Perhaps she has returned from her ‘quick’ workouts in the past disheveled, sweaty or otherwise visibly inappropriate or late.

      1. Celeste*

        My thoughts exactly; to me there is no other reason that they looked right at her when they said it. She needs to check herself and see if she has offended them in this way. It may also be an attitude thing, if she is saying things that indicate others should be doing more exercise during the day (“if I can, anybody can”).

        I think they should have confronted her before now, but if she’s smart she’ll think about how her passion for exercise is working out with work.

        1. Jamie*

          I think this is why it seemed so ridiculous at the time. My coworker is actually not someone who behaves this way. She does not workout during the workday and come back to the office looking inappropriate nor does she push her lifestyle philosophy on others either. So it was confusing that they singled her out in this way.

          1. Zillah*

            Is it really singling her out, though? They may just have looked at her because they knew that she was most likely to be affected by it and wanted to gauge her reaction.

        2. AndersonDarling*

          I was thinking this too. I wonder if one of the managers saw her in workout clothes and he has some personal issues with yoga pants.

      2. Natalie*

        That may be, but it would have been more appropriate and probably more effective just to talk to her directly.

  14. Sabrina*

    My FIL ran into the diploma thing, except his was 40 years old. It was crazy. I’m not sure we ever found it.

  15. Jamie*

    Hi all. OP to #1. An update since I wrote in my question. I think my original outrage was more regarding my coworker and her being singled out. It’s commonly known that she is an avid exerciser and she was extremely upset by this policy. I also don’t think the reasoning for the policy was explained to her very well. I spoke with a former employee regarding this policy and she said this has always been the case. Apparently our board has expressed concern in the past regarding how many employees we have, why we need so many, etc. Due to this, they don’t like members seeing staff not working. I can understand the policy from this perspective. I just don’t think the upper management really clearly defined it very well. 1. They singled someone out and then proceeded to tell everyone that they could only take a nap. 2. They didn’t really communicate that this policy already existed and why. Granted, they are certainly not required to explain but to me more communication always seems to be the better route in situations like this.

    1. BRR*

      With that information it sounds like they handled it poorly. They should have explained their reasoning.

      Just out of curiosity, is working out even feasible? It sounds like a really busy time and that it would be difficult to squeeze a workout in.

      1. Jamie*

        To be honest, I don’t think many of our staff will attempt to exercise during the meeting because it is such a busy time and very exhausting. I think my coworker is the exception in this case. I believe she views exercise as a way to help her feel better and reduce stress.

        1. Valar M.*

          If she is an exception, then it makes more sense though that they’d singled her out. They could have handled it better by talking to her privately though, since it sounds like she was called out in a meeting.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      Seriously, the Board thinks no one on the staff should have a break? Hmm. I’d be tempted to get all the Board member’s phone #’s and call them every 1/2 hr to make sure they are focusing on the conference. Especially during any breaks they might be having.

      I’m really grumpy towards Boards after my last non-profit job.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I’m just annoyed that so many health care orgs have so little idea of what constitutes health. They want to push a product/clinic/treatment but then totally ignore healthy living for their staff. They have some of the most draconian policies regarding what staff can and can’t do. It’s idiotic.

        Personally, I would think being able to work out while away on a 4-5 day conference would be essential as I would miss out on any normal incidental exercise obtained in daily living, like walking the dog or doing the shopping. I’d be tempted to call out sick when I got back to the office after a week of hotel food and no exercise.

        1. Jamie*

          Haha, you’re right. Pretty much after the meeting our office is dead and everyone takes vacation.

      2. Jamie*

        I should have been more clear on this. I meant that our upper management do not want members to see staff ‘not working’ because of this perception the board has had in the past regarding staff numbers.

        1. neverjaunty*

          People were actually using their breaks for non-work activities during 15-hour shifts? OH THE HUMANITY.

          Either your board needs to be set straight, or upper management is a bunch of idiots. Both, possibly.

          1. Sarahnova*

            Yeah, I get the “reasoning”, on a surface level, but that’s still absurd. Either you DO have too many staff, or you don’t and the perception is just wrong, but asking your staff to pretend they don’t exist except when they’re working is nutso, especially when this perception apparently comes from the Board(?) and not from the organisation’s clients/members/whatever.

        2. Monodon monoceros*

          Yeah, but it seems like maybe the upper management needs to do a better job of explaining their level of staffing to the Board rather than taking silly measures to make sure that no one on the Board sees employees taking a break.

          It makes me value my current Board very much. During our annual meeting, most of them were encouraging the staff to get a break, make sure they ate, etc. I was appreciative of that then, but even more so now!

      3. fposte*

        It’s not that no one should have a break, it’s that no one should be publicly in the workspace during working hours when they’re not working. Which is weird at a conference, I grant you, but it’s pretty common in venues like retail.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Sure, but while the pool/gym in a large hotel are technically part of “the workspace”, if you class the hotel in toto as “the workspace”, they are pretty clearly parts of it that are for leisure purposes. I mean, are the employees allowed to eat in the hotel restaurant during this 15-hour shift, or are they expected to hide away whilst consuming snacks furtively?

          I used to be a retail manager, and while we liked people going for lunch to remove their nametag and cover their uniform shirt while they exited the premises, they weren’t expected to change or disallowed from visiting the cafe next door.

          1. fposte*

            But it’s not a cafe, and it’s not next door. I suspect that many hotels have rules for their employees’ use of the gym and pool on their breaks, too–this is closer to that.

            1. Sarahnova*

              Those employees conceivably could be working whilst around the pool or gym, though, while a conference attendee who is staying there is clearly not. I would liken it to eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant – are the employees allowed to do that? It would also be covered by this policy of “not allowed to be visible unless working”.

              1. LBK*

                I don’t think it’s an issue of them not being visible while not working, it’s about presenting a professional image while being visible. If you came down to breakfast in pajama pants and hoodie, that probably wouldn’t be appropriate either. Given that it’s kind of hard to work out in a business-appropriate outfit, I can see why that’s an activity that’s completely ruled out.

              2. fposte*

                I don’t think the reasons employees are limited on pool time during their breaks is because their managers are worried they’d be perceived to be working :-).

                I think there may just be a national culture divide here. I don’t think the rule is hugely unprecedented or a particularly big deal; I just think it’s coming from a silly place and apparently wasn’t very well conveyed.

          2. Clerica*

            I used to be a retail manager, and while we liked people going for lunch to remove their nametag and cover their uniform shirt while they exited the premises

            Believe me, we like to remove our nametags and cover our shirts, too. :) I wore a windbreaker to my weekend job far into the sweltering summer because in the past it didn’t matter that I was carrying a purse, with my car keys on a lanyard around my neck, and talking on my phone, customers didn’t seem to pick up on the Punched Out and Going Home signals. Hell, one day I took off the uniform shirt because I had a nice-enough one on underneath and wanted to wander around shopping. I still had people stop me. I don’t know if they recognized me or if I just had that air of being too comfortable in my environment, but sheesh. I ended up being shanghaied into helping someone for fifteen minutes which translated to working off the clock, which is probably management’s concern (but they won’t back you up if someone complains that you gave them to another employee, or let you claim that time later because omg bujitz).

            1. Stephanie*

              Yeah, I’ve been there with retail. I worked at a large department store that is now Macy’s. My name tag came off the moment my break started. I still would have people stop me as well. Like you said, the clue was usually that I looked a bit too comfortable in the store. I was also dressed up, but with comfortable shoes (which kind of screamed “retail worker”).

            2. LadyTL*

              When I worked at wal-mart and customers came up to me on break or on the way to break, I would just tell them I was helping another customer. No reason to mention that customer was me though.

        2. neverjaunty*

          But that makes no sense. That would mean employees aren’t even allowed to be in the lobby Starbucks on break because they are publicly in “the workspace” (ie the entire hotel). It can’t be “we don’t want clients to see you in yoga pants” either, because they are allowed to work out early or late. (You know; when clients who exercise are MOST LIKELY to see them. )

          OP also clarified that this is a bizarre issue of the Board thinking that employees are lazy gadabouts if they take their break in a manner that isn’t hiding in their hotel rooms, so I doubt this is so much a culture divide as management being doofuses.

          1. Zillah*

            Again, I do think that this policy is a bit silly, but:

            There’s a pretty big difference between drinking a coffee and working out. Drinking a coffee in the lobby doesn’t preclude you dressing professionally, and it doesn’t stop you from looking professional as soon as your break is over. Working out does.

            I’m also not sure why you think clients will be mostly likely to see staff who are working out at 5:30am or 9:00pm. Most people are not awake at 5:30am, and by 9:00pm I’d bet that most are either going out to eat or going back to their rooms. During conference hours, presumably they’re out and about.

            Yes, the rationale seems a bit bizarre, but I think the fact that some people see it as an outrage worth job-searching over and some people see it as not a big deal says that, whatever the rationale here, there is a cultural divide.

        3. Mints*

          I was on the fence until I read down this far. If it’s customer facing and they’re working with the public all day, it makes sense that they get breaks to be away, but if they’re out in public, they need to be available for customers. So working out in the gym would be off limits, and working out in the room would be questionable, since they need to on-call to go back during the work day

          When I worked childcare, you could leave to McDonalds or whatever during lunch breaks, but there were still restrictions (no cursing, no explicit conversations, etc) because you were still representing the site. After work was sort of borderline; getting gas while wearing the uniform was still “representing the company” but a few hours later was your own time.

          So I’m thinking the no workout rules seems okay, but they should have framed it this way

      4. kris*

        The Board makes me mad too. I was already angry when I read about the 6-9 days with little to no breaks. Does the Board do this after spending 40 hours a week at a job?

        OK, it doesn’t happen often, but this seems like the kind of heavy hours that might make someone snap, and you want everyone cheerful and helpful.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ll agree that they should have explained their reasoning, because I think the crux of the problem is that they’re specifying the remedy they want rather than the problem they’re trying to avoid, which is a recipe for disaster. People who operate in this manner often have unreasonable expectations that their wishes will be divined and adhered to, even though they haven’t explained what their actual wishes are, just one or two instances of what they want or don’t want. So solutions like an isometric workout in the hotel room might cause a huge problem if she returned from her break slightly sweaty and short of breath for a few minutes, as the targeted employee “should have known” that that was unacceptable. However, if they said they were concerned that the employees appear back from their break in 100% professionally presentable condition, then showing up sweaty or out of breath would have been avoided.

    4. Brett*

      I feel like the board needs to reexamine the purpose of being at the conference. When I am at a conference, my most critical interactions with other companies take place outside the conference activities with social/business meetings at restaurants, bars (light drinking), and other activities. These are the meetings that convince me to do business with a company, not dozens of technical presentations. If the employees are locked into “on duty” mode the entire time, these connections don’t happen.

      And that is on top of the fact that I doubt they are operating very effectively by day three of 15-on 9-off with no lunch breaks or eating out.

    5. Brett*

      I’m wondering, if the board deals with this annual meeting like this, just how many employees they lose in the runup to the meeting or immediately after the meeting.

      We have a major event popup every four years that led to similar ridiculous rules about work-life balance, and we used to lose 15-30% of our staff before the event (and this is government… which also probably gives you an idea of what the event was related to). Finally changed the rules last time around to be more flexible and lost no one. And then did not do the event at all on the last 4 year cycle; one of the senior staff had planned his retirement because of the event but stuck on another year to do transitional training because we skipped it.

      1. Jamie*

        We have an in-house project where for about week each year I need people to commit to and work 13-15 hour days. Usually not the full week – but if need be then it will be.

        Get here early – I order meals in and we eat and get right back to work – my family can go days without even seeing me as I get home after they are all asleep and gone before dawn the next morning. It’s a sacrifice.

        I have people volunteering for this because my deal with HR has always been that my people get comped hour for hour. So if you work 3 15 hour days you earned over a week of comp time to use when you want it. (Exempt people, of course.)

        I’ve found that you will get people happy to put in the extraordinary time as long as it’s a clearly defined time limit with an end date and you make sure they know you understand it’s a sacrifice and you make sure they aren’t losing the time – just putting it in the bank for later.

        If I couldn’t do the comp time thing I’d have train a new batch of people each time – and I wouldn’t sleep well at night. As it is I’ve never had an issue in all the years I’ve needed them.

        1. Brett*

          Comp is definitely important. In our worst turnover year from that event, not only was comp time denied (and some people put in back to back 100 hr weeks), but mileage. One guy had to put in around 1200 miles of travel altogether. It was only $600, but no one every forgot the way he was screwed over.

          Meanwhile, we’ve had 120 hr emergency weeks where no one had issues because we ordered in food, brought in cots, provided transportation (cannot let people drive home who have been working 20 hours straight) and almost everyone was comped out for the extra 80 hours.

  16. Suzanne*

    #5. Yes, this happens. I had a job a few years ago that wanted a copy of my hs diploma. Seriously, I’m in my mid 50s and have 2 college degrees. I told them I had no idea where it was, and then they were ok with it, but again I was given reason to believe that there a great many people in charge of hiring that live in a parallel universe and it isn’t doing the economy any favors.

  17. Re: #5*

    Possible age discrimination perhaps? (the older a person is, the less of a chance they still have their HS diploma on hand)

  18. OP #2*

    Hello Alison and the AAM Community!
    Thanks for answering my question, my supervisor works from home today, but I will put a one-on-one with her into my schedule on Monday :)

    1. Amanda*

      Hi OP –

      I wonder if part of it is that the organization just isn’t used to being able to give that work to you. I also work in a smaller nonprofit, and there are pieces of my job that were farmed out over the years because my job was either nonexistent or filled by someone who wasn’t reliable. So people got used to doing pieces of it themselves. It’s taken me over a year to gather it all up and some pieces (such as those just assumed by the executive director) may never come back!

      That said, I know that I in turn circumvent our communications person because she is so unutterably picky she is difficult to work with. I’m not saying exacting, detail-oriented, etc – I’m saying she gives us deadlines, then starts emailing us 2-3x a day a week out from the deadline to ask us for the information, calls hourly sometimes, circulates every single piece of paper by 10 staff members, on and on. I’m not saying you’re doing that, but I wonder if there is some perception that you’re trying to exert too much control and it’s frustrating.

      Just two things to consider!

  19. Alexandra, PHR*

    For 1, they can’t dictate what an employee does on off hours. If the breaks are unpaid, then they have no right to dictate their behavior. They could restrict access to the gym or other such barriers, but if the breaks are unpaid, the employers cannot dictate behavior. If the breaks are paid however, they are completely within the law.

    For 5, a HS diploma may very well be required by policy for the job and necessary to complete the background check and have consistency. (Whether or not you really need a HS diploma to do your job is not the question.) If there really is not a way to acquire the diploma but have the transcript, perhaps you could ask the HS to write a letter to your employer stating that based on the transcript, you are considered a HS graduate.

    1. Jamie*

      They can dictate what people do on breaks – heck people can be fired for what they do off hours completely in many instances. Some disagree with this, and I’m not in favor of it in all instances, but companies can absolutely hold people accountable for their behavior while off the clock.

      If not than at every unpaid break at these conferences, if any, they people could hang out and smoke in front of the hotel, flirt with people in the lobby, whatever. I’m not saying people would do this – but it’s totally reasonable that when you’re in a place where you are representing your employer they can dictate what is and isn’t okay.

    2. Davey1983*

      I know many people think this, but it is incorrect that companies can not dictate how people behave when off the clock. Companies can (and do) hold people accountable for what they do off the clock.

  20. David*

    #1: I see that the OP has clarified the employers stance and that someone else touched on this, but the first thing I thought of when she said that one person was singled out was some of the folks I work with. We have an onsite gym and strongly encourage co-workers to use it. But some folks have not realized that they’re here to work first and work out second. This means that their time dedicated to working out (changing, working out, showering, changing again) exceeds what is a standard break time and that they frequently decline meetings because it conflicts with their exercise, show up exceedingly late to meetings or, worst of all, show up still sweating, stinking and not very well put together. If the person that was singled out has a tendency of being like this, I can certainly see why they wouldn’t trust her to be judicial in using her time and making sure she’s presentable afterwards.

    As an aside, I’ve always found it amusing how my company has a pretty strict business-casual dress code in a building that has almost zero customer contact but doesn’t put up a stink about all the folks walking around in spandex, shorts, sports bras, etc. while on their way to working out.

    1. Valar M.*

      + 1 I said the same thing higher up. Sometimes its not even that they are late returning, but that they didn’t allot time to dry their hair and switch to normal shoes or something while they were at the gym. I agree that it can be really jarring as well.

    2. Jamie*

      OP #1 here. While my coworker is known for being an avid daily exerciser she does not have a history of being late or coming into work all sweaty. She just in general is known for being very healthy and exercises every day. We don’t really have anyone in the office that comes and goes from working out, it’s not that common in our office. I would definitely agree that people hanging around in workout clothes is not appropriate in the workplace, but that’s not much of an issue here.
      In terms of the upper management not trusting people to show up sweaty or being late. I don’t see how taking a nap then would be ok versus exercising. If I took a nap- what if I didn’t wake up in time and was late? What if my hair was disheveled or my shirt not tucked in, etc.
      I think someone mentioned this before that if ultimately they are worried about people’s perception and everyone being on point than that’s how they should have stated it. Such as “If you do have a break during the meeting, please make sure you are presentable and ready to go if need be.”

      1. fposte*

        I’m not as convinced as you–and your coworker, maybe?–are that it’s specifically about your co-worker, though. Unless it was an organized, longterm glare, I don’t think it’s really significant that they looked at her during the conversation, given that they knew she was one of the people it could affect.

        I don’t think they’re really solving much of a problem with the policy or that they explained it as clearly as they might, but it’s not unique, and I don’t think it’s particularly onerous.

        1. Jamie*

          OP #1 here. I think you’re right. I don’t think it was meant specifically for her, but they knew it would affect her so they looked at her. The problem occurred because it was really a “policy” or SOP already in place that we adhere to each year, and they didn’t present it that way. If you are told not to do something (that you really want to do) without any real explanation or logic, than it’s hard to not be upset.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I definitely think they could have presented it better, and knowing that it’s been SOP for a while makes it clearer that it’s not about anybody in particular.

  21. LBK*

    #5 I’ve only been out of HS for 7 years and I don’t even know where my diploma is…I’m not even positive I got an actual physical certificate. I guess I must have but it was probably immediately tossed in some box in an attic or maybe even thrown out.

    Either way, it’s asinine. I was a terrible HS student, but I was an excellent college student, and I’m an even better worker now. What could you possibly gain from knowing that a decade ago, I probably wouldn’t have been a good employee? How often are any 14-year-olds great potential employees?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Not to mention that, what does a diploma actually tell you about a high school student’s work ethic? Nothing other than that they managed not to flunk out. Straight-D students get the same fancy paper as the valedictorian.

      1. LBK*

        Very true – as someone who almost did flunk out of HS, you definitely wouldn’t learn much just by seeing my diploma!

    2. The IT Manager*

      I don’t quite know how to describe it, but my HS diploma (the “paper”) is embedded in a piece of pretty wood suitable for hanging ie framed but not removable. There’s no way to get it out. Oddly enough this means I know where it because what better place to store something like that than on a wall in my home office. But would be ackward to have to bring it somewhere to show my diploma off.

      1. The IT Manager*

        But I have lost my undergrad diploma. I had it/saw it several years ago, but searches for it since then yielded nothing. It may have been thrown out in a folder or a stack of paper work I didn’t want.

      2. Kelly L.*

        My dad had one of those! It was laminated onto a hunk of wood. I think mine was in a faux leather folder.

  22. AB*

    I know this has probably been mentioned before, but for the last OP, are you looking for a job outside the US?

    I used to work at an organization that placed native English speakers (US) in tutoring positions in a foreign country. While most of the positions were for recent college graduates, some were for businesses and were more geared towards older applicants. The positions always required a diploma with an apostille. No amount of explanation could convince them that transcripts were the official record or that most schools would not reprint diplomas. Some states won’t even apostille a diploma as it isn’t the official record. In the cases where a diploma simply wasn’t a possibility, I could typically get them to accept the apostilled transcripts along with a notarized letter on the school’s official letter head (preferably with a seal) stating that the school’s official record was the transcript and that the school did not reprint diplomas.

    1. Clerica*

      A friend of mine was looking to get a work visa overseas a few years ago and they wanted a copy of her diploma notarized and apostilled in the state in which it was issued. Um, she went to school in California and then moved back to Connecticut. It had been ten years or so and she didn’t have any college friends who still lived in CA and were close enough that she could ask that kind of favor from them. (IIRC you could mail something to be apostilled but notarization obv has to be in person, with ID, etc). Now who gives a flying eff what state something is notarized in if the end user isn’t even in the country? I’ve never been clear on what notarization is supposed to prove anyway.

      She was so meticulous and had mapped out how she was going to navigate a ton of stuff–bringing her pet on the plane, microchipping/records/etc for that, how to forward her mail, shipping stuff ahead, storage for her stuff, storing her car and having someone come drive it once in a while, driving overseas, banking, blah blah blah…and this one stupid issue turned into such an impossible task that she just gave up and found a job in the next town.

      And no one since has been able to figure out why the hell it mattered which state.

  23. Persephone Mulberry*

    Now that I have some coffee in my brain (and the additional info provided by the OP) and can actually perform some critical thinking tasks…well, I’m possibly even more baffled by this edict. “If people are seen taking breaks, the Board will insist that we have too many staff!” – ??? In relation to what? On the payroll? I assume all of the employees are needed the other 51 weeks out of the year as well in order to, you know, keep the organization running. At the event itself? It already sounds like people are being run ragged with a minimum of breaks all around…I guess a case could be made that management could be attempting to actually look out for its people, that a 30-minute break spent hiding in a hotel room for all X employees in attendance is better than having the Board decree that only X/2 can attend and no one getting any breaks at all.

    1. Graciosa*

      I think this is a good example of what happens when people are unable – or just afraid – to have an honest conversation with people above them in a hierarchical organization. Apparently, no one feels empowered to look a complaining board member in the eye and respond with “Everyone I’ve got here is essentially working double shifts to manage this event, so I don’t think anyone could claim we’re overstaffed.”

      However, my evil twin had another idea if speaking up to the board really is impossible – assign the staff member to work out as part of her shift. Then the response would be, “Yes, isn’t it wonderful? Violetta agreed to serve as a living demonstration of our organization’s commitment to health. She is assigned regular shifts to work out in the fitness center as part of our outreach program.”

      1. YepReally*

        Interesting statement- isn’t it American workplace dogma to not file grievances with those above? If you answer talk to manager- well , that’s often fruitless for staff.

        1. fposte*

          In my experience, complaining is as American as apple pie :-). However, Graciosa’s talking about a relationship with a board, which is different than a relationship to a manager.

            1. fposte*

              Nobody’s talking about going around the boss–Graciosa was talking about how the boss would deal with the board.

        2. LBK*

          With whom would you file a grievance? It’s not violating a law so there isn’t really anyone to talk to other than management.

  24. Dave*

    For #5, I have seen a recruitment agency post they wanted college GPA and SAT scores. Granted, this was a junior level position, so I can understand the GPA part. But SAT????

    1. soitgoes*

      Ick, I’d be soooooo wary of the SAT thing, since you have no way of knowing if the agency knows that the scoring changed 10+ years ago. It took a million years just to explain to my mother why my score (out of 1600) was lower than my brother’s (out of 2400), and she’s invested in thinking that her children are perfect geniuses. I don’t trust recruiting agencies to be aware of when the switchover happened.

      1. Betsy*

        I actually broke my scores out on my last application for that reason. 220/800 math, 800/800 verbal (not my real scores). That way it’s obvious that it was 2 scores and not 3.

  25. HR Girl*

    On #5 — While I’ve never worked for a company that required this (and I hope I never do, and if they did, I’d challenge it), this recently happened to my Father-in-Law. He’s an Engineer for a State Agency and through some investigation, it was discovered that a number of people stated they had degrees and didn’t actually have them. Because of that, a knee-jerk reaction was made and everyone had to produce the degrees they stated they had. Stupid.

    Rules like this come from someone screwing up somewhere and management over-reacting and making a blanket statement rather than just focusing on that issue. The sad part is, when rules like this are able to made, it’s indicative of a culture that doesn’t tolerate people challenging ideas long after everyone forgot why they’re in place.

    1. Dave*

      I can understand WHY people say they have some sort of skill or degree that they don’t have (or that it’s very week).

      I’d argue that it’s still an employers market out there. If one looks at the current U6 numbers there’s about 5-6 people per job opening. This doesn’t include people who may apply that are already working full time. Employers are looking for that purple squirrel so people inflate their qualifications as well,

    2. Stephanie*

      I get producing proof of degree conferred, but the actual diploma? Like others said above, it’s not that difficult to produce a diploma. Plus, there are all kinds of shady online sources that will sell you physical diploma. Plus, my college diploma is effing huge, like 2′ x 3′ and lamb skin. I have no clue how an employer would even photocopy that. (I think the registrar does have a normal size one available.)

  26. YepReally*

    #1 There’s actually a law, Federal I believe that you must have 8 hrs. between shifts- so it sounds like they are skirting this one.
    And really a health care organization against working out? That’s dumb.

    As someone who has experienced the marathon “annual session” workathon, I know staff are demoralized by being treated like a dog for days on end. You are putting in two weeks in one without overtime. Plus all of the crap leading up to the shindig.

    Annual session created resentment that lasted all year. So, yeah, management is being very shortsighted here.

    1. Natalie*

      That’s not a federal or state law anywhere in the US. There are a handful of industries where working time is limited (mostly transportation) and some unions may have negotiated for specific rules. A few states require the employer to pay you a little extra for split shifts, but they can still require them.

      1. Jamie*

        This – outside of regulated industries I’ve never heard of this.

        If this was the case IT would be brought to it’s knees – using one example.

    2. fposte*

      There’s a lot of belief in such a law, but that’s not the law of the land in the U.S., and I can’t find a state that requires it either. There are some industry-specific rules that are based on safety, and California has a requirement for hours off after 24-hour shifts, but I can’t find a straight out “eight hours between shifts” law.

      1. Natalie*

        My reading of Canadian labor law (I suppose I should spell it labour) is that their federal laws only apply to specific classes of workers and everyone else is covered by the applicable province. Only about 10% of their workers end up being covered by federal rules. I may have misunderstood that, though.

        1. Chinook*

          And then, in Canada, there are one or two employers that fall in between the the two regulations, think cops in red serge, yellow striped pants and guns but there may be others, who are regulated neither federally or provincially but directly by Parliament and, as such, no labour laws technically apply to them and are not legally allowed to unionize (because they are technically militia and the legislation has never been updated) and, as a result, they are not required to have any breaks between shifts nor required to be paid OT (just straight pay) for such hours.

  27. soitgoes*

    I wonder if the company in #5 has a weird bias against GEDs as opposed to traditional diplomas so they have a rule of always needing to see the actual diploma, no matter the circumstances.

  28. Laura*

    #1- Am I a weirdo for agreeing with management? For someone who is in customer service (and it sounds like at least for the conference, your job is customer service and customer facing), you should not be seen doing non-work related items during breaks IN THE DAY. I am surprised Alison says to even ask. Its 5 days. tell your co worker to get up early and not push buttons. She will have other reasons to take to management when she needs a favor (like a promotion). Choose your battles.

    Feel free to do as you wish in the morning or night time, but being seen in the gym just isn’t appropriate during the day. Exercise is important, but she needs to exercise in her room or in the AM or PM.

    If you worked at fast food and had a break during the day, and you were on the premises of the job, your behavior during break is monitored. Same deal. Unless you are in your room or off site, to the customers, you are still working. They don’t keep your time card with you to know you are on break.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      For this reason when I worked at a grocery store for our breaks we were required to be off the floor unless we were on our way to punch in from break or buy items on break. Otherwise customers assumed if they saw you standing in an aisle chatting to such that you were on the clock working.

    2. C Average*

      This feels like it’s going too far to me.

      People aren’t robots. The idea that someone working a conference should not be seen doing non-work related items during breaks in the day seems needlessly draconian.

      If I’m dealing with people who represent a company in a professional capacity (at a conference or anywhere else), I’m under no illusion that they spend all of their time representing that company or that I’ll never encounter them in any other capacity.

      If I see them having a snack or heading to the restroom or taking a phone call in the hallway or dressed in workout gear heading to the gym, I’m not going to think, “Wow, it’s so unprofessional of her to be doing personal things during the workday.” I’m gonna think, “Huh. That’s the girl from the chocolate teapot booth who was so helpful earlier. She must be on a break.” And that’s it!

      1. Sarahnova*


        Where and how are these employees in #1 allowed to eat, for instance? Do they have to eat in their rooms, or leave the hotel (which may not be possible)?

        1. fposte*

          Here’s my guess on the actual policy: During working hours, employees in public areas of the conference venue are expected to wear the conference uniform and remain available for work. Employees are permitted to take breaks in their hotel room.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      At the cafe I worked at in CA, we had the same deal. We were previously allowed to sit outside and eat/smoke, but then they told us we couldn’t smoke at the outside tables and we had to go around back beside the dumpster.

  29. Prickly Pear*

    5- I didn’t find out until last year that the physical diploma I was given at my graduation was the only copy printed. I lost mine in a fire, but didn’t worry too hard because I assumed I could always go back to my high school. I started my current job with a promise to bring my diploma at some later date. Since it’s been over a decade now, I’d be amused to see if there’s still a note in my personnel file requesting it.

  30. Anon Accountant*

    #5 just sounds like very strange behavior from an employer. What if a candidate had lost her diploma in a casualty? And if she had moved across the country from her high school and was having difficulty getting in contact with them to obtain a copy?

    That seems odd they’d request a copy of the diploma when transcripts weren’t valid enough for them. Not that the OP5 would do this but I’d think that a diploma would be easier for a person to create a fake one than high school transcript copies. Our area HS transcripts are all printed on official school paper with school logo/seals and all. That’d be a lot harder to falsify than a diploma copy.

  31. Case of the Mondays*

    1.) As others have said, there are lots of good in room workouts.

    3.) I have also worked for a company that would fire people and as part of their severance package tell them to tell people they still worked there and that they would back up the story. Sometimes their pay ran out before this arrangement ran out but they were considered employees for six months post firing. I always thought it was really dishonest and not something I would be comfortable doing. I posted the question on another blog and got a resounding disagreement. People there thought it was a great termination benefit and you can be employed by a company while not getting paid by them and there is nothing wrong with saying you are employed if the company tell you to. The answer here is more in line with my thoughts.

    5.) My husband and I both had to provide copies of our high school diplomas for background checks at more than one job. It supposedly has to do with proving that you are being honest about where you grew up. Not sure why a transcript wouldn’t cover that. I’m sure there are exceptions for good cause. I also had to provide a copy of my law school diploma for a student loan refinance. I told them I really didn’t want to dismantle the frame so they let me send a cell phone picture of it hanging on my office wall.

    1. soitgoes*

      The only thing I can think of regarding transcripts is that a lot of colleges have switched over to an electronic model of “just tell us where to send the PDF files, and we’ll do it for you.” It’s actually become somewhat difficult to get a hard copy of your own transcripts, depending on your school and the systems they use.

      I had to upload my transcripts to a recent job application, and it was a hassle to even get my school to send the PDF files to my own private email address (I’ve since saved them digitally and printed out copies). I was still within one year of graduating from my master’s program, so I still had access to my school email accounts and e-campus websites and such. I can’t imagine how I would have even submitted the request for a transcript without having access to those online forms, which are password-protected (and your password is automatically deleted one year after your graduation date).

      Long story short, I think transcripts have become a major hassle for some companies/entities outside of academia, so they figure they’ll just ask for diplomas, since it’s assumed that most people already have hard copies of those.

      1. ChiTown Lurker*

        My university also deletes your e-mail accounts/website access after a year. However, they now issue all students a student number that allows you to access your transcripts for printing and download. They will still send out physical copies upon request but you have to go to the website for student copies.

        1. ChiTown Lurker*

          Hit submit too quickly. They may have something like that at your university.

        2. soitgoes*

          My school doesn’t even work with physical copies – you fill out a request form or call them and they send the PDFs to whomever needs to see them. This is actually, and weirdly, becoming very common. In the switchover to digital/online systems, no one is thinking about what happens if a student doesn’t fall into a career-track job within one year after graduating. It’s like they don’t realize that someone might be applying for a new job at 30 and need those records, but the interviewer has no use for a freaking PDF file that he has to wait 3-5 days (not including weekends) to receive via email.

      2. Jennifer*

        The company that we use for electronic or mail order transcripts online requires you to send them some kind of confirmation form back before they’ll let you order the transcript. (This is after you lose your student access/password.) Pain in the ass, I think.

    2. Colette*

      When I got laid off from the big high tech company I used to work for, I was considered an employee for two months after my last day of work. I had access to the building & kept my laptop for the first month, then for the second month I had to return my laptop and no longer had building access, but I was still eligible to apply/be hired for internal job postings. I had full salary and benefits during that time, and my official termination date was at the end of the two months. On my termination date, I received my severance and was no longer eligible to apply for internal jobs (although I still could have applied for external jobs, if there had been any and I wanted to return a portion of my severance).

      I’m curious about what the OP means by “they would leave me on the payroll for a while” – is she still getting paid? If so, does she have an actual termination date? Has she received severance (or will she, in the future)?

      1. ChiTown Lurker*

        Yes, this was standard practice at the large tech firm that I worked at previously as well. As large projects came to an end or large customer accounts were ending, people would jump ship. One of the ways that the company kept staff to the end was by offering them “extended employment”. You would receive your regular pay and benefits if you were laid off. The company would transfer you to a different cost center (outplacement) and allow you to use company resources for your job search. Your official termination day would be the at the end of six months or when you found new employment, whichever came first.

      2. #3 OP*

        I’m the OP for #3. I am still being paid. I will not receive anything more at the end of the agreed upon timeframe. It’s a helpful arrangement though.

    3. Collarbone High*

      “It supposedly has to do with proving that you are being honest about where you grew up” — that’s a bizarre line of reasoning. What if (like me) you moved during your senior year?

    4. Jon in the Nati*

      In my experience, it seems it sometimes is a background check thing rather than a credentials thing.

      I’m licensed to practice law in three states, and every time I applied to the state bar I had to provide (among other ridiculous things) my HS diploma. A friend who works as a lawyer for the state bar tells me it really is about background checking; no one seriously doubts that all these people with graduate degrees went to high school.

      So I understand it in that context, even if it does verge slightly on the absurd. I’m afraid I understand it less when a prospective employer does it, but it might still just be a background thing.

  32. Anon21*

    #5 sounds more like an identity theft scheme than a job. If they start asking for photographs of the family vacation you went on when you were 12, consider taking your services elsewhere.

    1. Suzanne*

      Seriously, after having applied for enough jobs and having plenty of interviews in the past few years, that wouldn’t surprise.me at all.

      There are a number of schools in my area that have closed up completely, so I can only imagine the hassle of attempting to get transcripts from 20 years ago when the school no longer exists. The school system may have them, but they probably only have to keep them for so many years.

      And I just heard stats the other day about the percentage of open jobs that go unfilled. I don’t remember exact figures, but it was in the high teens, I think. Hmmmm. I wonder if silly hiring ideas might have something to do with that?

      1. Clerica*

        I wonder if silly hiring ideas might have something to do with that?

        There might be some utopian city in the U.S. where there are more jobs than people (from anywhere) to fill them, but generally if someone claims there’s a problem filling jobs, the jobs are either incredibly specialized or there’s something very wrong with the hiring process. There was a “job fair” a few months ago in a town near me for a new warehouse. The company has a godawful reputation, they pay minimum wage and are known for shorting people left and right and treating them like dirt, not to mention that the building itself was full of mold and there had been an article about how the “remodeling” was just them slapping some drywall and utility carpeting down without treating for mold. Finally, the town is in absolute Nowheresville. Four thousand people showed up to fill 200 jobs.

        Someone on here, I forget who and when, was claiming they’d been across several states and “couldn’t fill” line worker (or some other fairly low level) jobs because “no one wants to work hard.” And they’d “advertised heavily.” Yeah, bull. If not enough people showed up (which was probably a lie) or if they did and couldn’t finish the application process, something went So Very Wrong with your process that it goes beyond working for below minimum wage in a hazmat situation in Nowheresville.

  33. LBK*

    #3 I’m kind of confused how this person got laid off but is going to continue to be on the payroll? If they’re still paying you, why wouldn’t they just continue to have you work until they’re not willing to pay you anymore…or do they just mean they’re going to stay in the system as an employee?

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      I think it means you are in the system. You are an employee with leave without pay status or something like that. When they run payroll, your name still comes up but with a zero after it instead of your usual salary.

    2. AnotherDrJ*

      My company actually did this recently after a buyout, and it was explicitly to give people paid time to find another job. So they were laid off (no longer expected to report in to work), but they continued to receive their paycheck and be on payroll for several weeks. There were certain conditions, but at the end of that time, the laid off employees received additional severance money.

      1. LBK*

        Wow. That seems really kind and generous of them – good on your company for being as humane as possible about a crappy situation.

  34. Mena*

    #5. too weird (and rigid)

    At age 40 and 18 years into my professional career (that included two director roles and a VP role with quantified accomplishments and steller references), a well-known consulting organization that had a recruiter approach me wanted my college transcripts/GPAs. With nothing to hide, I refused. It was an idiodic question and I felt it told me a lot about their culture. I turned my back.

  35. Darcie*

    #1 Can your co-worker bring some small equipment (if she needs it) and work out in her room? It’s a silly rule, but if she’s doing squats or pushups or napping, no one will know the difference.

    1. Clerica*

      I would think she’d probably prefer this anyway. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t use exercise to destress if I’m surrounded by people–having to deal with them all day is the reason I’m stressed. I’d rather hide in my room than be in a public gym or go running in the woods versus on a treadmill two feet from someone on another treadmill. I’ve gone hiking on holidays and been pissed that other people were on my trails, even. :)

  36. Lynn Whitehat*

    #3 I don’t see how it would be all that helpful to say you still work there, anyway. In just about every interview I’ve ever had, they ask why you’re looking for a new job, and then what do you say? Unless you want to make up an elaborate lie, but yuck. I guess you could say you are BEING laid off but are still working for a few weeks, but how is that better than saying you HAVE BEEN laid off?

    1. ChiTown Lurker*

      It is better because you can check off the “currently employed” box on applications and you can list you current job as 20xx – present. A lot of automated systems and recruiters simply won’t communicate with people who have been out of the workforce for more than six months. In the current economy, extended employment is a major advantage. At a prior company, you got six months. This means you get up to a year to find employment before you start to look like damaged goods.

      If asked I would say “my company is doing layoffs and I will be impacted.” Generally companies offer this in situations where there is “a lack of work”. I have never seen it used with poor performers or for firings. In my experience, hiring managers think of these people as more viable employees because it is obvious from the treatment you received that you were valued on some level by your prior company.

      1. #3 OP*

        This is pretty much the rationale. Though as Alison said, it would be easy for someone to figure out that I am not actually working there despite my payroll status.

    2. soitgoes*

      I can see it being useful if you hadn’t quite made it to two years at the company and the extension made you look like less of a job-hopper.

  37. Former Professional Computer Geek*

    I once applied for job where not only did they want to see my high school diploma, they wanted me to list every single class I

    1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

      Sorry. Browser failure.

      They (HR) wanted me to list every single college class I had ever taken.

      I told them that i did not have access to them all, and that it was 20+ years ago, and that my major wasn’t even related to the job, and in one case I didn’t complete the year due to health issues. They told me I could not be hired until I provided that information. I told them thanks anyway, and good luck filling your position.

      Then the hiring manager found out they were asking for this, effectively told them to stuff it, and hired me anyway.

      1. Suzanne*

        I have filled out more than one application that wanted my high school and/or college GPA. Who would even remember more than a year or two out? Why oh why do they even ask this stuff??

        1. Jennifer*

          They’re trying to weed people out? Show off how much power they have over you? Get rid of the good candidates who say “fuck this?”

  38. Elle*


    It’s five days! Is this a non-profit? I worked in a non-profit and I found that so much energy was expended in trying to reach some internal utopia. The organization never reached any of its goals but people were practically willing to set off WWIII over miniscule nonsense like the weekly cupcake schedule. At some point your managers will need to go to bat for you to the board for something REAL and have no leverage because of the mutiny over stuff like this.

    Perception is real and important. I’m shocked by people’s inability to think strategically but just glad to be out of there.

  39. Rachel - HR*

    #5 – Please don’t judge the company based on this requirement! My company is forced to request high school degrees (if that is the highest level of education earned) by our regulators (the state). That said, we can usually use a transcript instead of the actual diploma.

    1. This is me*

      I second this. I work in HR for a state agency (higher ed) and we have some silly requirements that have to be met that are entirely out of our control.

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