does my boss want to have an affair with me, I feel guilty about resigning, and more

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

1. How can I get my boss to turn up the temperature on the office AC?

Six weeks ago, I asked my boss to try to keep the average A/C temp at 73 degrees. When I come into work at 8 a.m., it is blasting at 71. I have my own small office and I have to wear a jacket most of the day or have my own little heater unit on to be comfortable. My boss agreed it was a little cold, and said he would find a solution.

Three weeks ago, I asked for a follow-up and stated that it was still freezing cold and the A/C temp was still at 71 degrees. Today, I asked again for an update and he said, “It is still on my list.” Is it time to go above his head, or buy my own larger space heater and submit the receipt for reimbursement?

Eh, I think you may need to accept that it’s hard for many offices to get a temperature that everyone agrees on. And actually, OSHA recommends (but doesn’t require) 68-76 degrees, so your office is right in the range many consider reasonable. I wouldn’t go over your boss’s head on something like this, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with saying, “Hey, if I buy a small space heater for my office, could I submit it for reimbursement?” (I’d ask first though, rather than assuming it will be reimbursed.)

2. Is my boss hinting she wants to have an affair with me?

I have a female boss who is married and about 10 years older than me. I’m 24 and male. I am beginning to wonder if our work relationship is just work. She is very personable and a great networker but has chosen to network best with me and I would say communicated far more with me than any other staff. She will casually mention she needs to do something as her husband is out of town until such and such date. She suggests she hasn’t been out in a while (bar, club, etc.) and is my so-called date for a formal event. I’m not sure if I am reading too much into this or if I am accurate in assuming she is attracted to me and perhaps looking for an affair?

I don’t know if she’s attracted to you or looking for an affair (it’s possible that she just has terrible boundaries), but she’s certainly being inappropriate, at a minimum.

I’d recommend making your interactions as professional and work-related as you can, and see if that stops it. (I’m assuming you’d like it to stop. If I’m reading that wrong, then I strongly advise you against an affair with your boss, which has all kinds of potential to end terribly.)

3. What to do when an employee refuses to stop working unauthorized overtime

I’ve recently started trying to learn the ropes at my dad’s small business. He is getting older and works less and less. I have a full-time job, so the time I spend there is minimal, but enlightening.

He has an office manager who runs the day to day business. My father depends on her totally to run the office, dispatch employees, and handle all bookkeeping. She is paid hourly and he wants her to work 8 a.m – 5 p.m. with a one-hour lunch. He has communicated this to her, but she continues to skip lunch, punch in early and leave late, etc. I have read your column for a couple of years now and advised him he either must accept that she will work a flexible schedule or give her clear expectations and a warning for failure to comply and be ready to follow up with termination. Whatever his choice, being upset week after week because of her timesheet is a complete waste of efforts.

He has another idea. He wants to post a “no overtime” sign, and then not pay her when she punches in over 40 hours. I don’t think this is legal. Along the same lines, could he have her sign a policy that states that no overtime is allowed? He doesn’t want to make her salaried because that opens up the opposite problem, that she won’t be there the full 40 hours each week and there are phones to answer, etc. Thought I would pass it by you in case I’m missing something and I can show him your answer.

If an employee works more than 40 hours in a week, she must be paid overtime for that extra time — even if she’s been explicitly told that it’s prohibited, even if she’s signed an agreement acknowledging the prohibition, and even if there’s a “no overtime” sign posted. The law requires that people be paid for the time they work, period.

If your father wants to put a stop to the overtime, he needs to clearly tell the office manager that overtime is prohibited and put in places consequences for working it without approval. Those consequences could be anything from a serious and unpleasant conversation all the way up to firing. But if there are no consequences, she’s apparently going to continue to work the overtime anyway. So his choices are: (a) enforce consequences or (b) accept that he will need to pay her overtime. There are no other choices here.

(Also, just to be clear, converting her to salaried isn’t a solution. She’d still need to be paid overtime if she’s in a role that the government categorizes as non-exempt — regardless of whether she’s salaried.)

4. Will job-searching long-distance be easier if I’m looking for internships rather than full-time jobs?

I currently live in Wisconsin but would love to move to a new city for a new experience. I keep applying for jobs out of state, but very seldom hear back. I read on another site that when looking for jobs out of state to apply for an internship since recruiters might be more willing to hire someone from out of state for an internship than a full-time position. I’m currently 24 and will be 25 in March. Is this too old to be an intern? Will I be laughed at or tossed aside for being older?

Well, many internships are only offered to college students, but there are certainly ones that will consider other candidates. However, I wouldn’t apply for internships solely as a strategy to move — if you’re doing an internship, it should be because that’s what makes sense for you at this stage in your career.

As for the idea that it’s easier to get an internship as a non-local candidate … I’m pretty skeptical. It’s hard to get a job long-distance in general. It’s possible that employers will have fewer candidates for internships than for full-time jobs, which could up your chances, but as a general rule, there’s nothing about internships that makes long-distance searching easier. Instead, I’d follow the advice I wrote up here about searching long-distance.

5. I feel guilty about resigning

I’m 23 and I’m about to give my resignation letter to quit my student job, so as to do an internship abroad and gain experience in my field. But I feel very guilty about resigning, all the more since times are tough, and also I made a lot of friends, some of them even became my best friends, and I’m just wondering if I’m making the right decision. Is it normal to feel guilty like this?

Very, very normal.

And it’s also very normal to leave jobs — especially student jobs. In fact, you’re going to leave every job you have at some point; it’s part of having a job in the first place. It’s a normal part of business and work life, and you shouldn’t feel guilty, assuming that you didn’t intentionally mislead anyone about how long you’d stay, and that you give a reasonable amount of notice and assist in a smooth transition.

Go do your internship in your field with no guilt.

{ 349 comments… read them below }

  1. Kate*

    #3 has someone talked to her about her work load? Is she working overtime because stuff wouldn’t be getting done if she didn’t?

    1. LBK*

      Beat me to it! What happens if she cuts back to 40 hours? Is stuff going to stop getting done? Maybe a piece of this solution (in addition to the serious conversation and consequences, which absolutely need to happen) is to hire a part-time admin who can take some of her work off her plate, thus removing the need for her to work so much.

      1. tesyaa*

        If the owner/operators only want her to work 40 hours, that’s their prerogative. Presumably they’ll deal with the effects of her cutting back. It’s quite possible she’s making extra work for herself with what my elementary school teachers used to call “busywork” (e.g. unnecessary filing, cleaning and straightening) – and managing to get paid for it.

        1. LBK*

          Right, and that’s why the serious conversation and consequences are necessary. I’m not saying to just install an admin blindly and assume that will fix – I actually specifically said the opposite. Talk to her first, find out what the deal is, but be prepared for the legitimate business need for more than 1 person’s 40 hours worth of work. It may be cheaper in the end to just pay her overtime than hire another person, or they may need to cut some projects because the business can’t afford the man hours to accomplish them. Or you may be right and she may be buffing up her hours to make more money, but they can’t know until they discuss it.

      2. AVP*

        I just came here to post the same thing! As a former office manager, I know the workload really depends on the size of the business, but she might be getting so many assignments that she just can’t get them all done in 40 hours. And when you run a business, there aren’t really too many thing you can “down-prioritize”- I mean, are you not gonna answer the phone? Send out invoices late? Not order toilet paper? Also, she might be looking to wedge in some hours of the day to do bookkeeping when the phone isn’t ringing, if it rings a lot. There are some tasks that don’t lend themselves to constant interruptions, so she might be using the extra hours to carve those in.

        The dad needs to have a conversation with he employee, but this should absolutely be part of it.

        1. LBK*

          Also, she might be looking to wedge in some hours of the day to do bookkeeping when the phone isn’t ringing, if it rings a lot. There are some tasks that don’t lend themselves to constant interruptions, so she might be using the extra hours to carve those in.

          Great point. When I was in retail it was critical for me to carve out uninterrupted time to write the schedule, and usually that meant doing it after the shift supervisor came in so they could cover the floor for me. Fortunately I could usually write that overlap into my schedule, but if the office manager doesn’t have a backup she may not have a choice but to do it outside normal business hours.

          1. AVP*

            When I was an office manager I started to get a lot of writing projects and assignments, but the phone rang all the time and there was no other coverage. Finally I had to be like, I can answer the phone, or I can write this complicated assignment to your specs, but I cannot do both at the same time. Fortunately they were okay with letting it go to voicemail occasionally if it meant the writing would get done. But some people don’t realize this.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      #3: I was sympathetic until I read this:

      He doesn’t want to make her salaried because that opens up the opposite problem, that she won’t be there the full 40 hours each week and there are phones to answer, etc.

      a) It seems presumptuous (to me, anyway) to assume that this person will start to slack as soon as she is exempt. And b) if she’s working when she comes in early and leaves late etc, then she really deserves to be paid for the time.

      Maybe there’s more to this situation than I know, but I’ve known enough people who are “enthusiastic” about their jobs that I’d at least give the salary option a try. I’d bet a dollar that she’ll continue to work the same long hours.

      1. Denied Employment*

        Exactly, plus no where in the letter does the op say she or her father have a problem with the quality of her work.

      2. Kate*

        Very true. Either you trust her to run the day to day or you don’t. I was in a very similar position in a few jobs. Owners mostly absent/uninvolved. Some weeks I needed to work 40-50 hours to do the work. I was usually the one employee who was exempt from any no overtime rules, because they trusted that if I was working them I needed to be.

          1. Zillah*

            It’s not clear from the letter how the communication has been, though, because the OP doesn’t seem to be the one who’s had these conversations with her. It’s also not clear how much of a priority their father has put on getting everything done – depending on the presentation, I can see someone making the call that it was more important to finish their work than clock out at 5pm.

            Honestly, limiting a person who is running your business to exactly 40 hours a week seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            If he’s not communicating to her, then I wouldn’t say she is. If he is and she’s blatantly ignoring him, he can discipline her for the insubordination (and needs to).

      3. Bea W*

        Raise your hand if you are salaried and exempt and regularly work less than your expected number of hours.

        (cue crickets)

        It’s more likely she’s working so many hours because she feels like she can’t accomplish everything she needs to do in 40 hours, and she’s one of those “enthusiastic” people who wants to get it all done. There’s nothing in the OP’s letter that indicates she’s doing it purely for extra money. The OPs says her father “depends on her totally to run the office”. It sounds like she has no help. This is something the father should have a frank discussion with her about, look at all of the things she does, and assess whether or not he needs to hire a second person part time to ease her workload so that she doesn’t have to put in so much time and skip lunch.

          1. LBK*

            I don’t, at least not consistently. During the busy season I definitely do, but during the summer when it’s slow I may not even hit 40.

          2. Parfait*

            I don’t either. I sure do when it’s crunch time! When it’s crunch time, the work laptop is out even on the weekends. But there are slower times of year when I don’t feel at all bad about sloping off at 4:30.

          3. Research Assistant*

            I’m hourly, but I work in academia and I’d say that very few faculty put in 40 hours a week. I think 35 is actually expected by my school.

        1. Wasted Donuts*

          I’m not even sure “enthusiastic” is the right word. Maybe she’s swamped and getting dinged for so much overtime is better than getting dinged for not getting her work done and the potential fall-out that could result if she slacks off.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          I don’t agree at all! I’m an executive assistant and supervise a bunch of admins. You wouldn’t believe how many of them try to get away with working unnecessary hours just to pad their paychecks. I know their workloads because I’m the one who assigns them work – it’s not a case of not being able to do the work in the alloted time. And I don’t begrudge anyone about working overtime when its needed.

          1. Zillah*

            But I think the point was that there was nothing in the OP’s letter to indicate that that was the case… And I suspect that an admin assistant’s responsibilities are not as extensive as someone who’s tasked with running a business.

              1. Zillah*

                But the OP also says his father is working “less and less,” which indicates to me that at least some of his duties are being taken over by his employees… And if they’re being taken over by someone else, the OP’s phrasing seems odd. Wouldn’t someone else be relied upon to run the business in that situation?

                1. Jessa*

                  And if she is starting to actually do the running of the business as he steps out then maybe she does need to be upgraded to salary/exempt and a new salary hashed out that is based on what she’s actually doing. If she does have the appropriate authorities to be exempt, this needs to be dealt with and proper and reasonable pay settled out.

          2. Tiff*

            That wasn’t made clear in the OP – they didn’t mention anything about the woman’s work performance. The fact that the owner relies on her for everything would indicate that he is comfortable or satisfied with her work. My sympathies go out to this woman, just from what the OP wrote it sounds like she’s damned either way, and her boss trusts her with all sorts of work but doesn’t trust her enough to manage her own time. I’ve been there, and it really sucked.

          3. Bea W*

            I was referring to people at the exempt level – how many of them are doing the opposite, working less than 40 hours because the get paid the same no matter what. Exempt job are generally management-type positions or other positions performing higher level work. They’re not typically occupied by entry level workers. By the time someone has worked into an exempt position they have the work experience and track record that makes it less likely they are people who would take advantage (I say *less* likely, not that they don’t ever do it.)

            Additionally, just because people take advantage of being non-exempt to earn more money, it doesn’t mean they will slack if exempt. The slacking will manifest itself in poor performance and jeopardize someone’s job. While there is every incentive to game the OT system, because working extra hours not only nets you more money, but can also make you look like a great employee.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              Taking advantage of being non-exempt to make more money is a fireable offense. I would never make someone who did it exempt; I’d just give them the crappy projects and hope they quit (I don’t have the authority to fire peole).

        3. Cassie*

          I know a couple, right in our own office of about 25 employees. Exempt, high-paying salaries, never works a minute after 8am-5pm, takes long breaks, etc.

          Sure, most exempt employees might be working far greater than 40 hours per week just to get the work done, but not *all* exempt employees do this.

      4. Tenley*

        She’s already demonstrated she is happy to flaunt the owner’s instructions about work hours, why on earth project scenarios here in her favor instead of taking OP at face value?

        1. tesyaa*

          This is a very astute comment. She might be the most efficient worker in the world, but if she’s disobeying direct instructions, she’s not an effective employee.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think people have gone too far into projecting scenarios too. At a minimum what we know is that she’s not communicating effectively. A great employee in this situation (especially one in this role, where good communication is key) would say, “I hear you that you don’t want me working overtime. But it’s the only way I can get X, Y, and Z done. How should we handle this?” … not just continue working overtime without saying anything.

            1. Jessica the OP*

              Hi All, Thanks for the feedback. To clarify, she typically does have lots of spare time each week. The summers are the busy time, and moving into the Fall and Winter, she should be extremely caught up, although needing a little extra time occasionally could be understandable.
              I also must clarify that my dad, bless his heart, is not a great manager. In fact, I think his inability/unwillingness to set rules and enforce them are the whole problem. If I think about it, his wanting to post a sign is really a way to go around the problem instead of addressing it head on.
              I’ve been scanning though the comments between meetings today and I appreciate everyone’s honesty and feedback. Especially, acknowledging that every job isn’t a 40 hour gig.
              The office manager has shown herself to be very capable, but tends to take liberties. I can see why she would think she has the authority, but if I managed her directly, I would want to authorize overtime in advance after she explained why it is needed.

            2. Observer*

              Well, you don’t know that the employee hasn’t said anything, so there is the possibility that she HAS spoken to Dad, who has ignored it. There is also a good chance that she hasn’t bothered because she knows he won’t listen. After all, this is a boss who refuses to address the issue directly, but instead wants to take the passive aggressive route of posting signs around the office and then use that as an excuse to not pay her. Failing that, make sign a contract that allows him to not pay her, without any discussion about what her workload is going to look like.

              You often preface your advice to employees who have a difficult situation with “This will work if your boss is reasonable.” What happens when, as it appears to be here, the boss shows eveidence of NOT being reasonable?

              It’s not just his handling of the situation makes me say that. On the one hand he “absolutely depends on her” to make sure the office runs AND to do the all of the bookeeping – two jobs that are not terribly compatible, but both of which require a high level of trustworthiness. On the other hand, he’s saying that he totally does not trust her. That’s not a really rational thing to do. Of course, it’s possible that what he really means is that he doesn’t ever want to pay her when she is not working, but also doesn’t want to pay her when she spends necessary extra time working. That’s equally unreasonable.

              Either she is doing what she needs to do to keep the business functioning, in which case Dad is being highly unreasonable. Or she really is willing to cheat him whenever the opportunity arises, in which case he needs to stop worrying about overtime, and find a replacement ASAP.

              1. Mephyle*

                Seconded: I was going to suggest this scenario, too. It could be that she has tried to talk to him, or thought of talking to him, but he is in denial about how many hours of work are needed from a person in her position to make the business run.

                1. Jessa*

                  I’m honestly wondering given that the father is starting to step back, if there are issues…perhaps memory ones or other things that are effecting the way he runs the business. He may be very frightened that she’d up and quit on him and right now she may be the only person with critical business knowledge or he thinks she is and that the business would close without her.

                  This may totally NOT be the case of course, but he may be too worried to deal with her because of it. You might want to look into the power dynamic in that office if he’s being passive aggressive and not confronting her at all.

        2. Colette*

          If she is working overtime after being told not to, it’s possible that she has too much work to do and for some reason doesn’t want to say so (or the owner doesn’t want to hear it). It’s also possible that she’s working overtime because she’s not working during the day, or because she just wants more money.

          And if it’s about getting as much as she can for as little work as possible, she may not feel like she has to be there all the time if she’s salaried.

        3. Meg Murry*

          We have heard she is being told “Dont work overtime”, but is that in direct opposition to other orders she is being given, like “make sure these bills get paid today” or “get the schedule done before you leave” or “Jane’s out sick today so I need you to answer the phones for her too in addition to your regular duties”? Or just internal deadlines that she is being conscientious about, such as “if timecard hours aren’t tallied and turned in to payroll by Tuesday no one will get a check on Friday” and “if I dont pay these bills by the end of the month, the white chocolate supplier won’t send us any more white chocolate blocks until our account is paid in full”

          I’ve been in the rock vs hard place of being told to cut down on my overtime but everything was still priority #1. I think rather than just say “no overtime”, OP and the father need to look at the manager’s duties and determine which need to be delegated elsewhere or what can be done to alleviate the current situation to cut back the overtime. And then they need to look at the fact that that means they are giving a longtime loyal employee effectively a pay cut as well.

          1. Bea W*

            Yes, it’s hard to sort out the mixed messages, and I think most people default to thinking the boss wouldn’t assign them more work than she thought could get done. Rather than risk looking like a slackers or incompetent they work extra hours to get it done.

            I’m defaulting to giving the employee the benefit of the doubt since the OP didn’t indicate any other issues, and I got the impression there’s been no consequences to her for not working extra hours. If you tell an employee not to work OT but don’t actually enforce the rule when broken, you’ve just trained them to ignore that directive. That’s on management.
            It’s clear she’s been told not to work OT but it’s not clear the father has had any frank discussion about how this is not optional, the consequences for disobeying, or if he’s taken the initiative to find out why she’s working so many hours in the first place. Is he expecting too much? Is there too much work for one person? Is she inefficient? Are work processes inefficient? Is she doing extra work above and beyond what’s needed? So many factors could be at play here that we just don’t know. The fact his father wants to take a backdoor approach to the issue rather than face her head on could be telling of the way he’s handled it in general.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, this is excellently assessed. I think it’s totally legit for a business not to be able to budget for overtime and not to allow it, but employee and employer need to talk about necessary coverage, implications of overtime, etc. Which means OP’s dad needs to speak directly to his employee, and it sounds like that’s going to mean a change of style for him.

              1. LBK*

                +1, if you have strict hours you need a good plan to accommodate them. Like CSRs who have authority to transfer someone mid-call if it’s apparent they’re going to be stuck on the phone past the end of their shift. You can do it, but you can’t make that rule and not give your employees the tools they need to comply.

            2. Anx*


              I volunteered with a person who was constantly getting in trouble for overtime issues. Yet they were still expected to come in to cover weekend shifts in a pinch. And they would frequently not leave until they got another department to start taking over the desk, which was like pulling teeth. This was at a hospital. They would not leave work when patients’ families were waiting to hear whether their loved one was alive or not. What would happen if that family complained?

              Either they needed to add an extra shift or hire a floater or give consequences out to the nurses who refused to answer phones right away.You just don’t expect your employee to leave a crying family because of overtime pay.

          2. Iro*


            I was thinking this exactly. I was once an operations manager for a bevy of call center workers who were told “absolutely no overtime” by their people managers. However they were also being told, “be sure you are at your desk, with all applications open, clocked in, and ready to take calls exactly at 8am! No excuses! No exceptions!”

            The latter required the former, or it required showing up and working for 15 minutes without pay. No one ever “said” come in early for know pay, but those agents who did were always held up as an example and given awards. The rest of the CSRs, about 2/3 were either breaking the overtime rule or the ready to go at 8am rule.

            Frankly the CSRs are not at fault in this scenario and from the letter above I don’t think we can assume the office manager is at fault either. For one thing the father seems pretty passive aggressive. Post a sign that says “No Overtime!” all over the office? Ok Big Brother.

        4. The IT Manager*

          Yes! This is what bugged me most about the letter. Details are missing from the letter, but she’s blantently ignoring instructions not to work overtime. Given there’s not mention of her even trying to make an effort to cut back her hours or her discussing concerns that she will be unable to finish all her work in 40 hours, I lean toward the suspcion that she’s her udget has come to rely on all the overtime pay and does not want to give it up.

          1. The IT Manager*


            … that budget has come to rely on all the overtime pay and she does not want to give it up.

        5. Poohbear McGriddles*

          What we have here is a failure to (properly) communicate. Sticking a “No Overtime” sign on the time clock is passive-aggressive and will help anything. When she is being told not to work overtime, she is either thinking “… unless necessary” is implied, or that Dad isn’t going to call her out on her disobedience because she is the only one in the shop who knows where all the bodies are buried.
          To make this right, it’s going to take a sit down meeting with her to figure out which of these ideas are motivating her. Someone is being stubborn here, but it isn’t clear yet who that is.

          1. Melissa*

            Not to mention that if dad has already directly told her no overtime to her face and she’s ignoring him, why does he think that a disembodied sign in the office is going to change things?

        6. INTP*

          The OP admits that they aren’t at the business on a day-to-day basis though. I don’t think it’s not taking them at face value to make suggestions for what the problem could be other than what sounds like the father’s assumption (he wouldn’t be the first boss to insist something can be done in less time than it really takes). That would be if OP said they had investigated to determine if the workload was too high and found that it really couldn’t be. The employee should be assertive rather than ignore requests if that’s the case, of course, but wouldn’t be the first employee to fear being assertive with their boss.

        7. Natalie*

          Given how many people don’t understand the law about overtime, I wonder if she assumes she won’t be paid for unauthorized overtime but works it anyway because she has to complete certain tasks. I think it’s fairly common for businesses to refuse to pay unapproved overtime despite the law, particularly small businesses that don’t have HR or legal departments.

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I don’t know how long she’s been there, but it sounds like she feels considerable ownership, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you can get on the same page without undercutting that ownership, that’s going to be advantageous.

      5. Wasted Donuts*

        I thought that was weird too. I wonder if he is basing that assumption on the habits of employees who slack off and don’t do their full job. But this employee is clearly not doing that.

        I think he needs to have a serious talk with her, not just keep saying “don’t work overtime”. There is so much missing information here. Is she really working during those hours and if so what is she doing? Could she be delegating better? Is she managing her time well? Is she managing people well? Does she have too much work and no one to help her? Or is she just working the hours because she needs the money and is taking advantage of her boss because she can?

        Until they talk about it he can’t really come up with a solution. I think it would be a good idea for all three (son, father, employee) to have this discussion and see what solutions all of them can come up with.

      6. Liane*

        From what Alison wrote in her reply, it probably isn’t possible to make this an exempt position, even if they did go salaried. From this blog, I’ve gathered that an employee required to be on the job X am – Z pm cannot be (legally, in the USA) be Exempt.

    3. INTP*

      This was my thought too. Rather than intentionally screwing the company out of OT pay, maybe she really can’t finish her work without it and she figures since she hasn’t faced consequences for it before, it’s not as big a deal as leaving work undone.

  2. Greg*

    #1, really, 71 degrees is cold enough that you need to wear a *jacket*? Really??? You don’t wear a coat when it’s 70 outside (or if you do then, sorry, you are the one with the problem, not the rest of the office.)

    I really cannot fathom the idea that someone in an office where the temp is above 70 needs a space heater (and apparently a ‘large’ one, because the existing one isn’t good enough!) and a jacket, and a snuggie, and, and, and…, and then has the temerity to try to think this is a situation worth going over their manager’s head for on top of that.

    1. LBK*

      FWIW, this could be a combination of a) some people being more susceptible to cold, b) sitting directly beneath the vent vs. farther away, and c) how much your job requires you to get up and walk around.

      As a side note to b), I sit underneath a vent now that picks up the smells of the restaurant next door, so some days I have the scent of bacon aggressively pumped into my face in a targeted airstream that no one around me can smell. It is amazing/torturous.

      1. L McD*

        It’s not crazy to be uncomfortable at that temperature, but it *is* too much to make a big deal out of a two-degree temperature difference IMHO. Would it really make that much of a difference? If you’re freezing cold at 71, are you suddenly going to be toasty warm at 73? Unlikely. My body seems to have difficulty regulating temperature, I am always either too hot or too cold. I dress accordingly and deal with it. The office is well within the realm of typical room temperature and I don’t think there is anything the OP can reasonably do about it, no matter how understandable it is that people have different tolerances for temperature/might have health issues contributing/etc. etc.

        1. Jen RO*

          Exactly. Both 71 and 73 F are too low for me (21.6 and 22.7 C, respectively), but the difference can barely be felt!

        2. Bea W*

          In terms of room temp, it can make a difference. Don’t ask me why, but shifting a thermostat a couple degrees in either direction can really make the difference in comfort. The room temp can be uneven and not where the thermostat is actually set depending on where you are. In my house on the worst cold days it can be a 4-5F difference between the back and the front rooms. Then there is a certain amount of draft or cold radiating off the floor (my front room floors like walking on ice) and outer walls. So on most days the thermostat in my house may be at 65, but on certain days I have to turn it up to 66 or maybe 67 to take the chill off.

          People being different, I don’t think anyone can make blanket statements about what’s unreasonable or reasonable to feel regarding temperature differences. Some of that isn’t even the person, it may be the conditions in the room, the size, the efficiency, insulation, etc. a thermostat at 70 in a drafty room feels different than the same setting in a well insulated room with no draft and no dramatic temp differences at the level of the floor or outside walls.

          I’ve lived in old (turn of the 20th century) homes for the past 20-something years as many of us do up this way – old homes with poor or no insulation and drafty windows. This is a really common phenomenon.

          1. L McD*

            Even so, my point remains that the OP cannot really push back against a reasonable room temperature. It really doesn’t matter if they’re asking for a one-degree adjustment or a ten-degree adjustment, 71 is not, has never been, and never will be an unreasonable temperature to keep an office at. The whole origin of thermostat wars is that people experience temperature differently, and the OP needs to consider that the rest of the office needs to be comfortable too.

            1. OhNo*

              They could push back on that two degree difference IF it was legitimately causing them physical problems, aside from just being “uncomfortable”.

              As an example, I’m disabled, and a fun little side effect of my disability is that I tend to have problems regulating my internal temperature, especially in my extremities. So at 65 degrees my fingers are going numb and I can’t type, but at 67 I might still be chilly, but at least I’m not losing feeling in my hands.

              If the OP can go to the boss and honestly say, “I know 71 is a reasonable temp, but at that temperature I have trouble with X”, then it would be acceptable to push, either to raise the room temp or to get reimbursed for a heater. But if they’re just uncomfortable? Just wear a freaking sweater, it’s not like it’s that big of a deal.

              1. Bea W*

                Thank you for this. This may not be the OPs issue, but it is not unreasonable to push on it if it is creating a real physical problem. BTDT. Was really frustrated that people just did not get it, even while I was missing work or leaving early as a result. My doctor was annoyed to the point, he was about to write me a note, but luckily someone came along with some empathy and a piece of cardboard. Problem solved.

        3. Melissa*

          I can definitely feel the difference in my apartment. 73 is comfortable for me. 71 is freezing cold, and 75 is far too warm. (That said, this is my apartment, where I have sole control over the temp.)

      2. Mister Pickle*

        b) sitting directly beneath the vent

        I wondered about that, too. I once had an office that was unpleasantly cold, but the solution was to get off my butt and adjust the vent so I didn’t get as much airflow. In my defense, the design of the office and the vent worked to make this a non-trivial task.

        1. Michele*

          I had the same problem with a vent in my office. I just closed it. When my desk was moved I just covered the vent with a piece of cardboard.

          1. Bea W*

            I had to get facilities to do this for me, but the cardboard worked like a charm. I went from being chronically cold, in pain from muscle spasms in my neck and back, and ended up with an ear infection (only one in 30 years!) to comfortable. It was like a miracle cure for everything ailing me, one large piece of cardboard and a guy with a ladder.

            1. Windchime*

              People would do this at my old workplace. Facilites came and removed the cardboard, saying that it hampered the air flow and that the system was designed to be “balanced” only when all the vents were open. Hmmmmm.

              People got around it by covering the vents with clear plastic wrap that wasn’t as noticeable as cardboard. Sitting underneath a vent that is pumping out cold air all day long is miserable. We used to have people huddling in big down coats, scarves, fingerless gloves and wearing blankets on their laps because it was so cold.

              1. Bea W*

                They placed it so that it redirected the air flow rather than blocking it. They wedged it in there so the air was still flowing out one side but not directly down on me.

              2. Natalie*

                It’s actually true – if enough people cover their vents you will get way too much air blowing out of whatever vents are open.

                That said, your facilities didn’t handle it very well. They should have rebalanced the system if that many people were too cold.

      3. straws*

        Yes, vents & drafty windows can make a big difference. I have both and the temperature difference between my office and other areas of the building are intense.

        Also, make sure that space heaters are allowed before assuming you can bring one in. I work in a small office with crappy electric circuits and we’ve had staff members trip the breakers by bringing in heaters that were too powerful without asking. If you think working while cold is hard, try working without electricity for half a day while waiting for the maintenance crew.

        1. observer*

          not only can you blow a fuse and be yourself which is better not. You can also actually cause an electrical fire if the wiring is old enough someone has done something stupid.

      4. Koko*

        This. 71 and still air is comfortable to me. 71 and windy, I would like a light jacket or windbreaker. 71 and sitting under a vent I’d be shivering all day.

        To the OP, this is probably something you’ll have to deal with most of your working life. The temperature is never perfect. In my current building, we have everything glass, which means areas near the glass walls/windows are freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer, and air circulation carries some of that around the offices in irregular and unpredictable ways. Some wings are frosty and some are like saunas all on the same day. We have 150 people in our office, and it’s hard enough to get the temperature everywhere to even be consistent let alone a temperature that pleases everyone. So we all have “office cardigans” and/or “office blankets” that we just leave at work for when it’s chilly. I wear a tank top under my sweaters in the dead of winter so I can strip down when my office gets too hot. Some people have fans and space heaters. I used a space heater at my last job where I sat in a more open area with more air circulation, but now that I have a private office I find it warms up pretty quickly when I close my door and put on a sweater.

        I’d recommend just investing in a good professional cardigan or a lightweight blanket if you prefer. You’ll use them your entire career.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yeah, as a fellow always-cold person, I feel ya, but this is just how offices are. Wear a jacket, drink hot tea, and be grateful space heaters haven’t been banned.

          1. OhNo*

            I’m with you guys. Cardigans are a staple of my wardrobe, and I leave one at each of my three jobs. If you’re worried about being fashionable or professional enough, find a style that you really like and buy two different colors, so you always have something that matches.

            And thank your lucky stars that you are allowed to have space heaters! None of my workplaces allow them, and it is the worst.

        2. Paddington Bear*

          Agree. I have never worked in an (indoor) environment where I wasn’t cold most of the time. As a result, I have a collection of cardigans and sweater jackets that make the rotations at work with me. I worked in one office that allowed fans and space heaters, but most don’t allow the heaters for fire safety reasons. I’ve just had to adapt with hot drinks, more movement and walking breaks, and occasionally washing my hands in warm water.

          Conversely, I have worked with people on the other end of the spectrum, who are always hot, and end up with cold drinks, short sleeves even in winter, and fans. It’s really hard to accommodate everyone’s varying comfort levels.

          FWIW, I have trouble with this in my own house as well – I prefer the temp around 74-75, and my husband prefers 69-70. In the summer, I win, in the winter, he does.

          1. Kyrielle*

            I totally volunteered to sit under the vent when I got my current cubicle.

            It is AWESOME.

            …and all my coworkers who prefer it warm are grateful they don’t have my seat, but they think I’m nuts. :)

      5. HR Manager*

        I’m with you that 71 is darn near perfect for t-shirts and shorts, but my mom thinks low 70s is cool and wears a jacket or a sweater. Kid you not. I always look at her and roll my eyes, because she’s breaking out the winter coat by October.

    2. Denied Employment*

      70 degrees seem on the warm side to me but maybe she has irony deficiency or some other condition.

      1. Abhorsen327*

        As a side note, I’m pretty sure that I know some people in my life who have a severe irony deficiency.

      2. Canadamber*

        Yep, if you have anything like anemia or the sort, that tends to happen! Speaking from experience.

        1. Bea W*

          The amount of personal insulation you have in the form of body fat (and maybe muscle mass?) also makes a difference. I am a spindly person with no natural insulation to cold. My normal body temp also runs low (96-97). Internal body temp matters. One of my meds has a side effect of raising my body temp, and when that happens particularly soon after I take it, I feel a lot warmer in general even if the room temp has not changed.

          1. Bea W*

            And that 1-2 F in body temp does make a dramatic difference. Think of how hot and gross you feel when running a fever that is only maybe 1.5 or 2 F above normal.

          2. the gold digger*

            I have plenty of padding but I am always cold. I am here now with a space heater running at my feet. I am wearing tights, a camisole, a sweater, and a scarf. And I am still cold. I might put my coat on.

        2. NoPantsFridays*

          Yeah, I used to be severely anemic and I was always cold. In the past 2-3 years I’ve become less anemic (I don’t know why, no real change in diet, but that’s what the blood work says!). Now I’m usually comfortable or even slightly warm with a normal office sweater, and I can wear an actual nice jacket outside in the winter instead of 3 sweaters and a ski jacket. I no longer have to wear hoodies in August. I still sleep with an old winter hat on though and still frequently feel like I’m going to pass out, so I don’t know what’s going on there. I also think I might be hypothyroid (I have a low internal temp too) but I wouldn’t want meds for it anyway, so I haven’t bothered to check it out. This is all to say there are medical conditions that could be causing OP’s issue — and I still think it’s not worth escalating above your boss’s head.

          1. Jessa*

            Yeh but hyper which is what I have makes you cooked all the time. I’m sorry but in an office where you have a choice to wear more clothes to be warmer, or me where I would have to undress to a socially unacceptable degree to not have trouble breathing cause it’s hot (my asthma and copd do not like heat either, reasonable accommodations rock,) I’m gonna lobby for you can have a small heater under your desk, or I’ll buy you an electric blanket. But go after my a/c and I’m gonna get nasty about it because I will have to leave.

            I actually did that once, I had voc rehab make one of MY reasonable accommodations to get the hypo thyroid gal the right to an electric blanket which my counselor paid for, so that I had a/c control. Because technically at the time she wasn’t disabled enough to qualify for accommodation and I was (nowadays she could probably get something to help her with the cold, back then ADA was very new, and the rules hadn’t been hashed out in practise yet.) And my accommodation stepped all over her.

            Really with temp problems only one person will actually be able to win that fight and I maintain it’s easier to add heater, or layers than to try to take off clothes beyond social acceptability.

            So we wrote it in my voc plan to protect her. Worked out nicely we got one of those electric snuggies that had arms in it so she could still type and work. And since it was pretty much a two person and a couple of managers office, I had the a/c control rights.

    3. Stephanie*

      Our house is constantly between 80-85 degrees, so I’d be that person in a jacket at 71. But yeah, I don’t think this is worth going over your manager’s head. Hot tea and a space heater will work wonders.

        1. Tina*

          I’m with Katie. I’d make sure to cut any visits to a place 80-85 degrees as short as I possibly could, I just overheat way too easily. I’m still wearing (dressy) sleeveless shirts at work, while everyone else has moved on to long-sleeves AND sweaters, and continuously asks me if I’m cold. Nope.

          Regarding the space heater – I would definitely ask first. In some work places, those are specifically prohibited, and that could create a whole other level of aggravation for you.

        2. GigglyPuff*

          When someone asks me why I decided to work in library/archives, my fun answer is, “air conditioning, period”

          Unfortunately one of my college roommates disagreed, and we had continuous thermostat wars, we’d get up in the middle of the night and stealthily change it on each other.

          1. Lauren*

            Ha! I joke that I made the switch from archives to libraries because I couldn’t handle the glacial temperatures of archives. Especially after I worked at one place where they put the processing desk in the storage area. Bring on the entirely-digital libraries of the future, please! And let me sit beside the server.

      1. Bea W*

        That’s where my house used to be in the summer before I became less heat tolerant. I rarely turned on the AC, although 85 was pushing my limits, mostly because if it was 85 inside that meant we were having triple H weather. It was never a *dry* 85.

        1. Koko*

          I lived in a southern clime for 4 years without a/c. The first summer I thought I was going to die. Like, not even exaggerating, I remember stagger-stumbling around my block wondering if I would collapse before I got home and then getting in the door and dropping my bags in place and immediately stripping down to my underwear and lying in the hardwood floors directly in front of a box fan and under a ceiling fan and not moving for 10 minutes. This was a daily routine for two months.

          Then somehow, the second summer, it was fine. My body adapted, just like that. I suppose I adapted, too. I learned to slow down in the summer, to take my time getting places and not overexert myself – people from northern climes often don’t get that because they’ve never had to deal with it (and in their insane winters, the opposite adjustment is required). I moved back north again after during my fifth summer there, and heat just doesn’t bother me anymore. I barely even register dry heat – 100* dry heat in Arizona feels like 75* in Atlanta. Humidity just triggers my “slow down” response now.

          1. Windchime*

            I come from an area where there is very little humidity, so 100 degrees just feels like it’s really pleasantly hot, where the warmth is baking into your bones in a good way. When I moved to the Seattle area, it just always felt so humid and damp. (PSA: Remember to close your potato chip bag when you’re done; otherwise, they will be soggy tomorrow).

            It took me a couple of years to get used to the higher humidity. Fortunately, the temperature is pretty good in my office so all I need is a sweater that I can take on and off. My office mate is constantly bundled up, though.

            1. Bea W*

              100+ degrees dry heat feels to me like I’m walking into an oven. It’s not even “pleasantly hot”. It’s like leaning over and opening the oven door to check on your casserole hot.

              1. Emily*

                There’s a camp at Burning Man every year that brings a sauna/steam bath. It’s almost completely dark inside, and very hot and steamy. You stay in as long as you like until you can’t take the heat anymore, and then when you step back out into the bone-dry, 105* desert sun, the slightest little breeze comes along and suddenly you feel like you just rolled around in mint leaves on a fall day. It takes a good 10 minutes or so to even begin to be capable of feeling hot again! It’s a really wild sensory experience that I treasure getting to have each year.

        2. Stephanie*

          I should point out, I live in the Phoenix area. In the dead of summer, that’s still 30 degrees cooler than outside. Fans will also work wonders.

      2. OhNo*

        My god, that sounds fantastic. I live with my father, and I’m lucky if I can convince him to turn the thermostat up to 64. Having it set to 80 sounds like bliss.

      3. Melissa*

        I would fall asleep on your couch within 15 minutes of walking inside. That much heat would make me drowsy!

    4. GrumpyBoss*

      I think OP may also want to use this as an opportunity to pick up on queues from her manager. “It is still on my list” should be interpreted as “not a high priority”. Continued follow ups are only going to annoy him, as they should. The way OP references following up, it almost reads as if she has tasked her manager with this.

      If this is really the battle you want to choose, OP would be best served presenting this in a way where it is causing enough discomfort to interfere with her work.

      1. Bea W*

        In some (many) offices, trying to get the thermostat adjusted takes an act of God. The boss may know it’s a futile pain in the rump and just not want to deal with it.

      2. TCO*

        I think this is the most important point! OP, you’re making a big fuss and becoming a pest in your boss’ eyes. You have to pick your battles or you’re going to gain a reputation for being difficult, needy, and unable to adapt to your environment. I’m sympathetic to your discomfort, but 71 is a perfectly reasonable office temperature. This is not the issue to make a big fuss about. Do what you need to do to make yourself more comfortable, rather than bugging your boss to do it for you.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        It would be better if the manager were more direct. Don’t say “it’s on my list” if you honestly don’t intend to ever do it. But the manager didn’t write in, so for the LW, I agree that I don’t think your manager is going to do anything.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          In a perfect world, you’re right. But here in reality, our managers aren’t always forthcoming and we need to read between the lines.

          The lines don’t get easier to read between than being blown off three times.

    5. MK*

      The size of the room matters. At home I have two identical units, one in a fairly large kitchen-living-dining area and one in the bedroom. If I set them both at 21C, the big area is pleasantly cool, but the bedroom is Arctic.

    6. Kelly O*

      I can sympathize – our office temperature is usually set around 70-71 and I wear a cardigan nearly every day. (Although in my defense I basically sit under one of two A/C vents so it blows right on me all day.)

      But it’s not unlivable. Just layer at the office. It’s definitely not something to take over your boss’s head. Lots and lots of people have temperature issues in the office, and you just learn to adapt.

      No joke, in the very same office last year, my office mate was always freezing and kept a space heater running all the time, and I was so hot I wore short sleeves nearly year-round. New office mate does not do that and I’ve been in cardigans all summer. For what it’s worth, I’d rather be a little cool and put on a cardigan than sweat in a short sleeved top in March because someone else wants to wear a sleeveless dress and no tights, but run a space heater.

      1. cuppa*

        I completely agree. It might be because I’m used to it (from a northern city and my husband likes it colder than I do), but I would much rather drink tea/use a blanket/put a sweater on/use a heating pad or hot water bottle than roast all day. I realize you aren’t comfortable, OP, but the temp is within OSHA range and should not be affecting you too badly.

    7. Bea W*

      I have no idea why it works that way. I’ve been puzzled by this for ages because this is my experience
      – If it’s 70 *outside* I think it’s really warm and don’t wear a jacket, but
      – If the AC is set to 70, I’m freezing.
      – If the heat at home is set to 70 I’m broiling.
      – If the heat at work is set to 70 I’m not freezing but I’m not broiling like at home. I definitely need a sweater.

      My thermostat in winter is set at 60/65, but in summer I can’t stand to turn the AC lower than 76 and that’s down from where I used to have it. I’m less heat tolerant now.

      Surely, there is a scientific explanation for this, because I see this working with pretty much everyone I know. With the AC/heat I’ve had the experience where it seems like the actual temperature of the air that is blowing into the room matters. AC air blows into the room well below 70, and heat blows into the room well above 70. If you happen to be near the source you will feel cooler or warmer because while the ambient temperature of the room is 70, you’re feeling the warmer/colder air that is coming from the source which overall makes you feel warmer or colder. I sat under the vent in one job, and I could not get warm no matter how many layers of coat and blanket and hat I put on. Once the air was redirected from blowing down on my desk, it was 500% better. I’ve noticed the same difference in feeling when there is a drafty room. If you get rid of the draft, the room feels warmer even at the same temperature.

      I also think the contrast to the outside temp matters and the season. I live in the northeast, and in the winter once I’ve adjusted to the cold, if there’s a random 70 day I’m ready to head to the beach. If it’s so much as gets into the 60s mid-winter people are out wearing shorts, but just the opposite in summer. If it’s 90s outside and you walk into a building that is 70, it’s going to feel cold. The same is true when I’ve been out in the cold and come home and the heat has not kicked on. It might be 60 in the house, but if I’ve just been walking home in 10 F weather, it’s pretty darn hot.

      Sort of related – I have this odd thing going on where cold or cooler air blowing on bare skin is literally painful. That is the best way to describe it. It’s not excruciating pain, but it’s over the entire surface area of the skin exposed to the blowing, which makes it really awful. Going to turn off a fan or AC unit because I am cold is really uncomfortable for those 5 seconds. It’s the tactile equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I find that the fuel source makes a difference. Given the same temp and different fuels, I feel differently. Wood heat warms me to the bone, take out the achy joints/muscles. Oil heat at the same temp, leaves me feeling cold and achy.

      2. Allison*

        It confuses me too. My dad once explained that the air conditioner doesn’t blow the air at the temperature it’s set to, it blows cold air that’s supposed to make the room a certain temperature. Well, that’s great for people in the middle of the room, far from the vent, they’ll be at a nice 70 degrees, but what about the person sitting by the vent, feeling the icy blast all day?

        Sometimes I wish offices would have a warm section and a cold section, and people could sit wherever they felt comfortable.

        My worst experience with central A/C and work was when I worked overnight dorm security in college, during the summer. The A/C in the lobby made sense during the day, when the doors were constantly opening and closing, people were coming through, and sunshine was coming in through the glass walls and large windows. At night, not so much. No doors opening, no sunshine, hardly any people coming through the room, but I suspected the A/C didn’t change, so I was absolutely freezing! I had to take a coat, wool hat, and scarf to work to keep warm. In July. Luckily, some buildings either didn’t have central air, they just had a fan or A/C unit I could control myself. I preferred those buildings.

      3. Koko*

        I have this problem with climate control in my car. My car has a temperature setting and then blows air accordingly to reach that temperature, and will change the temperature of the air blowing to adjust as needed. The A/C is so damn chilly that even when it’s sweltering outside and I set the car’s A/C to 75*, I can only tolerate 2-3 minutes of the air directly on me until my body temperature comes down to normal, and then I feel like I’m being blasted with cold air even though the overall ambient temperature in the car is still over 75* so the A/C is still running. I feel ridiculous every time I end up setting the car 85* + A/C on…but if I try to do 75* no A/C the car gets that stuffy moist air feeling in a hurry. I actually end up opening my windows a lot even in less than ideal weather so that I can use the car’s temperature controls without A/C and let the windows let some air in to keep it from getting stuffy.

        1. Koko*

          And there’s nothing worse than those long road trips where the sun is beating down on your through the windows and every part of you that the vents are hitting is freezing and every part of you the vents aren’t hitting is sweating and sticking to the seats. Ugh. It turns out that trying to regulate temperature in a glass fishbowl is really hard.

        2. NoPantsFridays*

          My car also sucks at regulating temperature. The “best” part is that 2 of the vents are positioned so they blow directly on my hands when my hands are on the wheel. So I blast the AC for a bit and then turn it off, or turn it off entirely and then open the windows. The heat is more tolerable but I don’t use it much since I wear jacket, gloves, etc. in the car anyway. At least the defog works and works quickly; my last car took so long to unfog I couldn’t tell if it was working.

      4. INTP*

        I’m sure there are other factors at play but I think it has something to do with the fact that in an office many people are sitting and barely moving all day long. When you do move, it’s just a couple times an hour and not very far. Even without circulation disorders, many people get cold fingers from inactivity + office AC. I’m definitely not the only person I’ve ever known in an office to get freezing cold, achy fingers (and this includes upper Midwest natives in my Wisconsin office). When people are outside they are very rarely just sitting there for hours at a time. On rare occasions I might try this, I get cold outside too – my mom laughs at me because I’ll take a blanket to read outside on a 75* day but I get cold! And at home, the temp I want for anything remotely active (even just light cleaning or putting up laundry) is too cold for just sitting on the couch without a blanket on.

    8. Christy*

      The reason 71 is cold inside and not outside is that generally, when you’re outside, you’re both moving and in the sunshine. You’re generally not when you’re sitting in an office.

      And I’m freezing if it’s 71 in my office and sweating if it’s 75. I can literally tell if it is half a degree above or below 72, which is apparently the only office temperature I can tolerate.

    9. BRR*

      I’ve found thermostat temperatures can vary greatly. I like it pretty cold, at work it will show 76 and I’ll be warm. At home 76 is fine. At my parents’ house if it’s set above 74 I’m sweating. At my cousin’s house it needs to be 71.

    10. abby*

      71 degrees is cold if 1) you are sitting at a desk and not moving, 2) if the sun is not shining on you, as it would if you were outside, 3) if cold air from the HVAC system is blowing. I am sure there are others, but these readily come to mind.

    11. hayling*

      The actual number that the thermostat displays is usually irrelevant. The OP could be sitting right next to a very strong vent (which could be the only vent). The sensor could be in a weird place. The actual calibration could just be off. Let’s take the OP at her word that it’s cold.

      1. cuppa*

        This is a good point. I was working in an absolutely sweltering building once. All the thermostats said 72/73 degrees, but I knew it wasn’t that temperature. I brought in a thermometer, and it read 83. You might want to bring one in to get a feel for the actual temperature where you’re sitting.

    12. Steve G*

      I have the same thing as OP. Heat only works in our office from Nov-March. When it was in the forties in NYC some evenings last month, the thermostat still says it was above 70 degrees, but I felt like it was blowing out freezing air (and I am ho blooded!). So the temp of 71 degrees may appear on the thermostat, but that may be a goal temp, not the actual temp.

    13. INTP*

      It’s that cold for me – not even light cardigan temp but I’d wear a pretty thick jacket. My body temp drops pretty quickly when I’m being sedentary so my optimal desk job room temp would be over 75*. That said, I recognize that 71* is within the realm of reasonable office temperatures and I would see allowing a space heater as a solution. I worked in an office where I wore my jacket, drank warm tea all day, and several of us would still get so cold that our fingers ached – and we were not allowed to bring in space heaters (owner didn’t want to pay for the electricity) or blankets/snuggies (manager felt it looked unprofessional even though clients never came to the back office).

    14. Jules*

      They don’t live in Midwest where 70 it almost summer weather.

      I was in SF for the weekend last week and was amazed at the number of people in sweaters and boots while the temp was ranging from 65 – 70. There were some smirking but only because we know in Michigan people will still wear shorts in 70s.

    15. Simonthegrey*

      It is 72 in the room I am in right now; that’s what the thermostat says. My fingers are freezing right now, and when I have taken the air temp at my actual desk, it’s actually 69. So a thermostat set to 71 might not mean 71 as an air temperature.

    16. AUB*

      I have used a space heater (that I bought myself and then took with me when I left the job) but my office was cooler than 71 even. When I hear 73, I gasp. Dry heat and migraines come to mind…
      I really think pushing for 73 is a little much.

    17. Brisvegan*

      Wow, that’s my city’s middle of winter day time temperature. (Brisbane, Australia, where the G20 is this weekend). It’s spring here and will be over 1o0F this weekend. Anything under about 80F feel cold to me.

      I would definitely be in a jacket and need a heater if the temperature was set that cold. It can very much depend on what you are used to and your own body’s reaction.

      1. AUB*

        When I mention dry heat I mean the heater heat that is constant when it’s as cold as it is here outside (30’s) the heater basically never cuts off and all the moisture is sucked from the air. I think outside temp has to do with it for sure. But if you are causing your co-workers to sweat or something, I really think it’s up to the individual to acclimate themselves.

    18. INTJ*

      I need to say that 73 degrees is WARM for an office (depending on the room and insulation). Someone can ALWAYS add more layers if they are cold, but those of us who run warm can’t take off too many layers.

      I can understand, but the OP should also be considerate to others who run warmer and just wear more layers or get a space heater. The people who run colder have more options.

  3. LBK*

    One thing I find makes office A/C wars especially complicated is that what the office thermostat says rarely seems to be a reflection of the actual temperature. I set my home A/C to 72 degrees and feel perfectly fine, whereas it was 72 in my office today according to the thermostat and I was on the verge of taking my shirt off because it was so hot.

    Ultimately, you can’t win by selecting a number, because the psychological aspect of “I know I’m comfortable at 68 degrees and not a degree higher!” plays into it just as much as however warm it actually is, plus everyone’s obvious personal preferences. Find something that seems fairly reasonable for most people and then the ones that don’t like it need to make their own accommodations. If that means using those hand warmer heat packets so you can physical move your fingers enough to type (real life example!) then just chalk it up to another kooky aspect of surviving in our allegedly climate-controllable office world.

    1. Dan*

      Heck, there are days where 68 at home feels too warm and I need to adjust it to 66, even though 68 is normally a good temp. I have yet to figure that one out.

    2. Kimothy*

      Oh, yeah, I battle the ‘unreliable thermostat’ problem constantly. I think it’s got a lot to do with a) where the thermostat itself is, if it’s one that picks up the temperature and adjusts accordingly; and b) how insulated the building is.

      1. straws*

        +1 I’ve confirmed both of those issues in my office to be culprits. Unfortunately I can’t do anything about either. As soon as we turn up the temperature for 1 person, another person is complaining about how they’re sweating and we need to get the thermostat under control.

      2. Bea W*

        I’ve kept a second thermometer in my house for years for this reason. I’d say this is pretty much a necessity for people living in old homes to figure where the thermostat should be set.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I have an almost 200 y/o house. Last winter my kitchen was 55 degrees and my front room with the thermostat was 70. This was depressing.

          1. Cautionary tail*

            I live in a 110 year old house that never was insulated until I put it in. I’m partially done and my attic has gone from 2″ of blown-in to R90 (2″ of blown in plus rolls of R-19 crisscrossed with more rolls of R-30 and another R-30. Walls have gone from voids of air blowing around to R-21. The basement went from nothing to R-30.

            So on the coldest days of the year the temperature, when set at 63, is 55 in the area of the house I have not yet insulated and 95 where I did insulate – a 40 degree difference.

  4. Denied Employment*

    I have a question. Is it okay to adjust employees time? Would the same apply if she works under 40 hours? I ask because my supervisor will not pay me past 5pm. If I clock out at 5:07, he adjust it to 5:00. He does have a sheet for us to fill out and submit if we wanted to be paid for the extra time. I never do because it seems like more of a hassle to get paid what I actually worked as opposed to letting him adjust it. Most days I’m done at 5:15 and the extra minutes are me leaving my desk to get to the time clock. Does that even count? I have never experienced any company adjusting my time sheet or clock outs like this. I’m wondering should I be submitting the forms or let it go? Sorry so many questions…

    1. LBK*

      Sounds positively illegal to me. The law is about time worked, not time clocked.

      It sounds like he does have a method for tracking this so you can get paid, so you might have to fill out the extra sheet (I have to submit my overtime hours through a special system that is a PITA). Although why he would chop them off your clocked time only to add them back in somewhere else is a mystery.

      1. Zillah*

        I suspect it’s because a lot of people will feel like it’s a headache and not bother.

        @ Denied Employment – Yeah, you’re not getting paid for time you work, and that’s a serious problem. Fill out the form (while you’re on the clock – if they’re making you jump through hoops, it needs to be on their time, not yours), but wow.

      2. Denied Employment*

        I think it’s also weird that hr hasn’t noticed these adjustments. As they are done manually. Although, when we had people from another dept in our office, we would get calls from the their supervisor questioning the reason why they clocked out late before adjusting it. Although, I’m not sure how much/how often they access this system. But as a former auditor this would raise huge red flags. So everyone is robotic and clocks in and out at the same time?? I agree it’s PITA doing the sheet to get paid, I only use the sheet if something (work-related) interferes with my lunch break or its that time if year where it’s expected that we might work longer. It just seems like he is nickel and dining us…

      3. PEBCAK*

        There are rules about rounding…I wanna say most states allow you to round to the nearest :15, so you can indeed make 5:07 = 5:00, but then you’d also have to make 5:08 = 5:15.

        1. Denied Employment*

          Yes, we did get an lengthy email about rounding to the nearest quarter–but
          I’m 90% sure he rounds 5:15 back to 5:00. He simply won’t pay past 5:08 unless we fill out the sheet.
          Most days I’m done by 5:15 but my check for the pay cycle doesn’t reflect the extra minutes. I’m going to track my time the over next two weeks.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            If he is going to be that picky, I’d be tempted to try to figure out what it will take for me to be clocking out at 5 sharp. I worked for a company where I punched out two minutes too late. THREE people spent twenty minutes (count: One man hour total) telling me how I was ripping off the company, if I did it again I would be fired.

            Lovely company. NOT.

            So I made sure I was punched out on time. “Oh the backroom is on fire? Too bad, I am punched out!”

    2. Mike C.*

      Holy shit that’s illegal.

      The only reason he pays out when you put numbers on the form is because he’d have to physically alter the form.

      You might consider notifying your state labor board.

      1. Lynn Whitehat*

        Yup. Remember yesterday everyone was insisting that the LW’s manager HAS to know that a green card marriage is highly illegal and wildly inappropriate? Alison was right, there are a ton of managers who honestly don’t know the first thing about labor law, or else don’t want to know.

      2. LBK*

        Well, it’s not illegal if the overtime hours reported on the sheet are actually being paid out appropriately. I don’t think the law says anything about how the hours have to be reported – ie that you’re required to track regular and overtime hours on the same system.

        It certainly gives the air of impropriety (I wouldn’t be surprised if the sheet sometimes mysteriously goes missing) but it’s not abnormal for employees to be responsible for recording their hours worked, as long as the company is actually paying for those hours.

        1. LBK*

          From the FLSA website:

          What About Timekeeping: Employers may use any timekeeping method they choose. For example, they may use a time clock, have a timekeeper keep track of employee’s work hours, or tell their workers to write their own times on the records. Any timekeeping plan is acceptable as long as it is complete and accurate.

          So they can choose to make the employees record it however they want, as long as they allow them to record all their hours and then pay them for all of those hours.

          Now, I suppose the next question is how responsible an employer is for making sure their employees accurately record their time – ie if this manager knows that people won’t bother recording overtime because they don’t feel like signing the sheet and ergo aren’t getting paid for time they’ve worked, how much responsibility/liability does he have there? I believe he’s just as liable under the law but it might be harder to prove.

        2. Mike C.*

          No, what I’m pointing out is the alteration of the times. Even your link says, “Any timekeeping plan is acceptable as long as it is complete and accurate”.

          1. LBK*

            But if that time is still being reported and ergo paid in some other place, the total record (time clock system + sheet with overtime written on it) is still complete.

    3. Denied Employment*

      Thanks for everyone’s response. We also got an email blast about overtime was not allowed. This was right after the forms and the rounding of hours were introduced–the no overtime probably came about because in the beginning we did utilize the forms. Now it too much of an hassle. The other day I overheard someone questioning their overtime pay.

    4. CAinUK*

      I have a similar question. My employer isn’t manually adjusting our times — the timesheet shows the exact time we clock in or out — but our reported contract hours are rounded to the nearest quarter hour. So if I leave at 17:08 the timesheet will show that time, but the timesheet will also report my contract hours as leaving at 17:00. And if I get in at 08:55, it rounds me up to 09:00. So if I need to work 37.5 hours/week, my timesheet will show the real times but report a different total.

      Basically, I’m constantly losing minutes to the company’s benefit.

      1. Judy*

        At least in the US, there are regulations or rulings that allow rounding to 1/4 hour. But 17:08 should be 17:15, 17:07 should be 17:00. 08:52 should round to 08:45, 08:53 should round to 09:00. It shouldn’t be to either the company or employee’s benefit, it should average out.

    1. Chriama*

      I think OP was using age as a substitute for career level and/or years of experience. Most internships are targeted toward recent grads or people trying to break into a new field, so I read her question as wanting to know if she’s too far advanced in her career to be able to use an internship as a way to break into a new area. OP, I could see internships as being the new ‘entry level’ (as opposed to the jobs that want 1-3 years experience) so you could potentially score a short-term internship that would give you the opportunity to move, but you’d likely need to bear the entire cost of moving, and there would be the risk of needing to find a job after the internship was over. If you’re financially stable enough to go that route, I could see a company being more willing to take a chance on a long-distance candidate when there’s less of a commitment on their part. However, if you clearly exceed the experience requirements you might not be considered for any internships. Maybe making relationships with a national temp agency would be a viable alternative.

  5. Erin*

    #4 – I tried very hard (and unsuccessfully) for a while, out of college, to find a job in a different city (NYC of all places). I took a lot of advice from this site plus what I was experiencing in my own job hunt and decided that I may need just a tad more experience in the (very) competitive field I was trying to enter. I worked full-time locally and saved up money. I decided to apply for internships. I found one that accepted non college students and was lucky to land it. I will say that it was the right move for me because it gave me the ability to move to NYC, take a position in the field I wanted to be in, and at the same time was great for me see if it was all a right fit for me (it only lasted 3 months so if I hated everything about moving I could come back home). The internship was definitely a resume booster that gave me a ton more experience I was seeking and made me fall in love with the city even more.

    1. Four*

      Question #4 was mine. What was your field that you were trying to get into? I have a Marketing and Information Technology degree but most of my experience is in the marketing, sales, and guest service areas so that’s mostly where I’m focusing my job search. NYC is actually my dream location as well which just adds another layer of difficulty to the search as so many people want to move there that makes it even more competitive. I’ve found a few internships/programs that accept college grads but it is difficult.

      1. Erin*

        I have a Mass Comm. degree in both PR and Advertising. I never wanted to work in an agency and especially in NYC they are some of the most competitive kinds of places to land a job. My main passion was in theatre and television. I landed an internship for Marketing in theatre. I loved it.

        If you have sales/guest services experience then you are golden, in my opinion. It opens up a lot of opportunities for you. If you want to be in NYC you have to move here and be willing to possibly take a job or an opportunity you weren’t expecting to.

        1. Four*

          Thanks so much. I’m absolutely willing to move. I’ve researched it plenty of times, but moving without any sort of job lined up is terrifying.

          1. Erin*

            It definitely is. If you feel an internship would help propel your career forward (especially obtaining one in the specific field you would like the work in) then by all means do it! It will also (hopefully) lead to many more opportunities once in NYC. If you have money saved or a way of supporting yourself for a short while then I would say come here.

          2. Beka*

            I was in a similar position as you. I’m from Wisconsin and wanted to move and wasn’t having much luck landing interviews. I ultimately joined Americorps, which is a national service program. It’s pretty common for Americorps members to relocation across the country, so hiring organization are pretty open to long-distance applicants. It’s a one year commitment, so you could always look into that if you don’t want to move without having a job lined up.

  6. Allison Mary*

    Relating to #3:

    Okay, this feels like kind of a dumb question… but does anyone here know how to KNOW if you were exempt or non-exempt? It feels like there ought to be a particular form or something an employer would fill out stating, “This position is officially classified as non-exempt…” And then if you wanted to know whether your position was officially exempt or non-exempt, you’d just go check the form or ask your employer for the form.

    Is there anything like that in place for the US?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s not a dumb question, because there should be something like that but there isn’t something comprehensive and perfectly clear. There are some jobs that are clearly listed by the DOL as being exempt, like “lawyers, doctors, dentists, teachers, architects, clergy, registered nurses (but not LPNs), accountants (but not bookkeepers), engineers (who have engineering degrees or the equivalent and perform work of the sort usually performed by licensed professional engineers), actuaries, scientists (but not technicians), pharmacists, and other employees who perform work requiring ‘advanced knowledge’ similar to that historically associated with the traditional learned professions” and creative professionals like “actors, musicians, composers, writers, cartoonists, and some journalists.” But even there, the government acknowledges that “whether a journalist is professionally exempt, for example, or a commercial artist, will likely require careful analysis of just what the employee actually does.”

      Ultimately, for most jobs, you do have to look at what the employee actually does at work. There’s more here:

      In practice, most employers will tell you whether your position is exempt or non-exempt, but (a) they may have misclassified you and (b) small employers are sometimes less likely to even know that they need to think about this and/or to think they can classify everyone as exempt even though they can’t.

      1. Allison Mary*

        Ohhh, interesting. So what I’m hearing is that it’s not like an employer can just decide whether they want you to be exempt or non-exempt. It sounds like you’re saying that the employer needs to look at the actual job duties and functions of the position in question and try to decide (as objectively as possible) whether those duties and functions better fit the government’s definition of exempt or the definition of non-exempt.

        I did not know this.

        Thanks, AAM!

        1. Jamie*

          I’ve read various places and my experience backs up (for what that’s worth) that positions like admins and office managers can be categorized more than most. The wording is ambiguous and how one judges “must be for matters of significance.” in running of the business. The example usually given is do they have authority to purchase fleets of company vehicles or paperclips. Well, there is a pretty vast expanse between the two and it’s a judgement call on where it falls. It is common to see an admin classified as exempt and work unpaid OT when they don’t really fit the criteria. And administrative is all support staff – so the purchasing manager and the office manager are both support staff – it leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

          Bit of a rant – I don’t know why people clamor to become exempt, and I’ve seen it a lot. In the law exempt =/= salaried necessarily but in my industry that’s how it works in practice and it’s absolutely seen as a coveted thing. I’ve known so many people who took a loss their first year going from non to exempt because they compared their raise against their base pay and not what they really made in OT.

          And there are definitely people who are furious that exempt people can’t have pay docked for being late or out sick…and no amount of explanations about all the hours over 40 they have to put in with no additional pay makes any difference. There is such a metal block over seeing being salaried as universally better and let me tell you I check the exempt criteria every so often hoping they change it so I can go back to OT. I used to calculate how much I’d make if I made 1.5 for everything over 40 and stopped – too depressing. If given a choice I’d go non-exempt in a hot minute.

          Yes, I did work 16+ hours yesterday due to an emergency – good thing I need no other reward than the satisfaction of a job well done. (And with that my eyes rolled so hard they may freeze this way. :))

          1. doreen*

            “Bit of a rant – I don’t know why people clamor to become exempt, and I’ve seen
            it a lot. ”

            It’s because titles and status are more important to some people than pay. Because of some strange salary issues in my state, it’s not uncommon for commissioners and deputy /assistant /associate commissioners of state agencies to earn less than the people they supervise. But some people want those jobs anyway, even if they result in a pay cut. Some are sensible though- the acting commissioner of my agency is “acting” specifically because losing that word will result in a $30K pay cut.

          2. C Average*

            For me it wasn’t about the money at all; it was about not having to punch a clock, not having to look at or think about a clock, not having to figure out how to start my day at a certain time and end my day at a certain time. I got to arrange my own time. I got to come in early if I wanted to and take a long lunch if I wanted to and duck out early if I wanted to and put in some hours on the weekend if I wanted to. After years of having other people write my schedule, usually with little or no regard for how the work I needed to do actually fit into that schedule, it was wonderful to know I now got to write my own schedule.

            Money had nothing to do with my desire to be exempt. Independence and freedom from clocks and micromanagement and rules had everything to do with it.

      2. hayling*

        What confuses me the most is that apparently exempt doesn’t always mean salaried, and non-exempt doesn’t always mean hourly?

        1. Natalie*

          “Exempt” is essentially shorthand for “exempt from the FLSA overtime rules”. How exactly you’re paid is outside of the FLSA’s purview.

          It can be confusing because most companies make exempt employees salaried and non-exempt employees hourly, but they’re just frequent fellow travelers.

            1. LBK*

              I know non-exempt salaried isn’t that uncommon (I am) but does exempt hourly actually exist? How would that even work? You get paid by the hour but you’re not required to be paid for every hour or paid extra for overtime?

              1. Natalie*

                From a quick search, it looks like one of the tests for exemption is whether or not you are paid on a salary basis. The FLSA site says there are a few exceptions but doesn’t outline what they are. So perhaps it doesn’t exist.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Well, exempt employees must be paid on a salary basis, meaning that they’re paid a steady salary that doesn’t fluctuate from week to week just because they work fewer hours. But let’s say that you wanted to also pay them extra in weeks where they worked additional hours. You could pay them their straight salary every week. Then in weeks where they worked extra, you could pay them overtime, which you’d calculate based on what their salary comes out to hourly. That’s legal. Not required (and not too common), but it would be legal (as long as you’re not docking their salary other weeks).

                1. LBK*

                  Ah, that makes sense. So functionally, “hourly” exempt and salaried non-exempt work the same way up to 40 hours, the only difference is that paying overtime beyond those 40 hours is required for non-exempt whereas it’s optional for exempt (would just be a nice bonus if you want to do it).

                  (I can’t get into that SHRM article without becoming a member.)

              3. INTP*

                My ex was one of these – software industry consultant in CA. (In CA, IT industry professionals making over $30/hour can be exempt.) He got paid for every hour he worked, but for hours beyond 8 hours in one day or 40 in one week, he still only made his standard hourly rate. So a non-exempt hourly person making $100/hour in California would make $1100 for a 10 hour workday (8×100 and 2×150), whereas an exempt hourly person would make $1000.

              4. Dan*

                Exempt hourly exists. I get confused, too. I’ve been a hourly non-exempt employee, an hourly exempt employee, and a salaried exempt employee.

                At my hourly full time jobs, I never, ever worked less than 40 hours a week. At my hourly exempt job, I never worked less than 40 hours a week there either, and was paid straight time for every hour over 40 that I worked.

                Let me rephrase slightly. At the hourly exempt job, we were required to “account” for 80 hours in a pay period. This was either direct project work, paid leave of some kind. or unpaid leave.

    2. PEBCAK*

      Every exempt job I’ve ever had specified it at some point in the hiring process, usually in the offer letter.

    3. Anonasaurus Rex*

      We have a field in our payroll/HR system that indicates if someone is exempt or not, we include it as a field on our electronic pay stubs, and all our employees can view their record anytime. It should say it somewhere on the job description if you have one, or have been stated during the offer stage.

    4. Allstonian*

      About a year after leaving a job, I received a check for all overtime worked for a position that had been improperly classified as exempt. Apparently, there had been a class action suit and they had to pay everyone who had held the position level for any hours worked over 40. And this wasn’t a particularly small retail chain, so it isn’t only small business that don’t know how to classify people!

      1. Natalie*

        The larger a company is and the more likely they are to have in-house attorneys, the less I’m willing to believe that they “don’t know”.

  7. Mister Pickle*

    #2: Yeah, she wants you. Seriously – based on what you’ve written, plus the fact that you are going to the trouble to ask about it, tells me that your gut feeling is that you’re being “pursued”. In my experience, people get this right more than they get it wrong.

    You need to be careful. Are there children involved? If so, try to remember that if you have an affair with this woman, you’re almost certainly going to be either “that guy who screwed up those kids’ lives” or “step-dad”. If you’re 24 years old, you don’t want either of those.

    Oh, and: don’t go out for drinks with this person. Not even with a group. Jesus: especially not with a group. You don’t want witnesses.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      I don’t know, to be honest. Based on the OP’s description it does sound like she might be acting inappropriately, but a lot of the things he mentioned could have an innocuous explanation or another side to the story. Mentioning her husband being out of town – often my manager or another coworker will casually say that since their husband or partner is out of town they need to leave earlier to pick up their kid, or get groceries or something. Mentioning she hasn’t been out in a while – a little weird, but maybe she’s commenting more on how busy she is or complaining about her lackluster social life in general rather than asking him specifically to take her out. Being his ‘date’ to a formal event – also could be weird, but if it’s a work event they might have to go together and she might have been joking about the ‘date’ part.

      Without knowing the context for this stuff I think it’s hard to tell what’s going on here. It’s possible the boss is acting inappropriate, definitely, but I wouldn’t say there’s enough evidence to conclude she wants to have an affair with him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        There seems to be an opening for a possibility of an affair- that is what it looks like to me. I think OP has a hunch this is in the air. And, of course, if he rejects her, then that can be a problem, too.

        OP, you can fake innocent here, pretend like it never crossed your mind and you have no clue what is going on. MEANWHILE, make sure you remain professional. Carry that expectation that SHE remain professional. Sometimes pretending not to notice is enough to make the interest go away. Notice, I say, “sometimes”. Try this first and see what happens.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          I didn’t have to fake innocent at a long ago job: I was innocent. I was married, he was married, so I assumed the inappropriate comments were jokes, and I just laughed at them. It wasn’t until years later, after his divorce, that someone said something that made me realize he was perhaps trying to get me to show some interest in him.

          Looking back, there were a lot of inappropriate comments and actions. And I blithely joked back, completely unaware.

    2. Sarahnova*

      Eh. It’s possible, certainly, but how shall I put this – I have seen plenty of men of all ages completely convinced that a woman who speaks to them civilly wants them bad. They are usually rather overstating their own attractions.

      This woman can definitely do with tightening up her boundaries, but I’m not yet convinced she is deliberately targeting her subordinate for an affair.

      In any case, OP, if you really want to sleep with an older, married woman, go find one you don’t work for.

      1. SJP*

        I’m on the fence but part of my does agree with Anonymouse because a lot of people don’t always think before speaking or say things that are innocent but can be misconstrued.
        What if the OP was actually the one like the guys like you mention above who is misinterpreting the female managers interactions as she wants me bad, and that was misinterpreting his manager being friendly and not always picking the most tactical way of saying things and she’d be mortified to think that her staff member thought she was hinting at an affair?!
        Like I said, I still on the fence cause we don’t have all the info or see it first hand but it could go both ways.
        She could totally be eyeing him up, or she could actually just be blundering her social interactions with this guy and he’s seeing it differently to how it is..

      2. GrumpyBoss*

        +1. You put it much more delicately than I could have.

        Some people are naturally gregarious, which is often misinterpreted as flirting. I agree with others – I wouldn’t make the leap from “my husband is out of town” to “I want to have an affair with my subordinate”

      3. Mister Pickle*

        It’s not like I have some psychic ability to follow the photons emitted from my screen back to the OP and suss out the situation via mutant out-of-body experience, but – if a friend wrote you the following:

        I have a male boss who is married and about 10 years older than me. I’m 24 and female. I am beginning to wonder if our work relationship is just work. He is very personable and a great networker but has chosen to network best with me and I would say communicated far more with me than any other staff. He will casually mention he needs to do something as his wife is out of town until such and such date. He suggests he hasn’t been out in a while (bar, club, etc.) and is my so-called date for a formal event. I’m not sure if I am reading too much into this or if I am accurate in assuming he is attracted to me and perhaps looking for an affair?

        What would you think?

        I don’t mean to make a big deal out of this or argue the point – except that I’ve been in something like OP’s shoes, and I was young and naive and thought “oh, she’s just being friendly” – until we ended up alone in a park and she made a strong case for how we were both mammals and so we should do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.

        1. LBK*

          If I’m giving the benefit of the doubt, I can see that as someone who’s just lonely and tired of staying in all the time and maybe has a spouse that’s not a big partier, so they’re latching on to the younger employee as someone who might be more into going out to a bar. Now, I think that’s WILDLY inappropriate for a manager to do with an employee (except maybe in a service industry context where those boundaries blur more often) but I could see it legitimately not being lascivious.

        2. Koko*

          I still would see that as innocent if there were nothing further going on. Suggesting s/he hasn’t been out in a while isn’t the same as suggesting that the two go out together! This is typical morning office chit-chat.

          Boss: Did you do anything fun this weekend?
          Me: Oh, I went to a concert with some friends on Saturday.
          Boss: Fun! I haven’t been out to a concert in a LONG time. Just can’t seem to find the time anymore.
          Me: Yeah, let’s just say not all my chores got done this weekend, I’ll be catching up on some tonight.

          Then again, if the boss was hanging around my desk repeatedly mentioning, unsolicited, “*sigh* My spouse never takes me out anywhere…I wish I could go out like you do!” then that’d be another thing.

        3. CPE*

          This version is better for me to answer as I have an example. I was just out of grad school and was 25 years old. I had a manager who was married and say 25 years older to me. I know it is a bit too much of an age difference. He was more social with women than men. He had a fixed schedule to go out for lunch one person each day of the week. Like he used to have lunch with me on Mondays, with another colleague on Tuesdays etc. I used to tell him all sorts of things (like whom I went on a date with etc etc). Hopefully he has not assumed that I was hinting at an affair!!! He used to go for a walk/lunch with another lady colleague who also used to report to him. They became very close and people had seen them together on a weekend (like in restaurants, going for a bike ride together). People (especially men) started making jokes about them with me hinting that they might be having an affair. I was shocked. I said no is just his nature. I would defend my manager and the lady by saying that they might be friendly but definitely no affair. People would say, that colleague would definitely get a promotion given he closeness to the manager. The girl had a long distance boy friend whom she eventually married and moved to be with him. Later I came to know from some other senior person for some other reason that she did NOT get a promotion.

          Now that I think about it, people might be thinking that I had an affair with that manager too. But in reality I was in a totally new town with no friends, no family. He was the only person who was close enough to talk about personal things. Possibility of having an affair with him never crossed my mind.

      4. Ann*

        Oh, laughing, Sarahnova. This is a true statement. Just sitting here I can think of two incidents in which completely ordinary men (i.e., no George Clooney, either one) thought that friendly discourse with a female might signal that they (the female) was after them. Both incidents, when retold by the alleged recipient of the attention, caused several of us to burst out laughing.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Oh, for sure “everybody plays the fool”. But I think that’s part of the issue: men aren’t used to being pursued. There are two basic failure modes here:

          1) Man incorrectly thinks he’s being pursued, makes a pass, gets turned down. Or

          2.) Man doesn’t realize he’s being pursued – until he finds himself in a compromising situation.

          I’d even go so far as to suggest that women tend to be more aware of when a man is pursuing them, since it’s a cultural norm. They’ve simply had it happen a lot more and have better coping skills. I think in general men lack these skills, which is again part of the issue: they’re easily taken advantage of. It’s something of a joke how those letters in Penthouse Forum all begin with “I never thought this would happen to me, but …” but there’s an essential truthiness being hinted at.

          Oh well – if nothing else, I hope the OP at least has his guard up now.

          1. Bee*

            This is true. I’m also going to cautiously say that sometimes people aren’t used to seeing women as capable of sexual harassment.

            Like I said earlier, I think OP’s manager’s behavior could be either totally innocent or inappropriate. I don’t know the OP’s situation and his gut feeling is worth a lot more than my Internet opinion. I’m only saying this as a broader point.

      5. Koko*

        I tend to agree with you. The sole thing in his letter that’s maybe inappropriate is referring to herself as his “date” for an event, but assuming it’s a work event, that’s not really outside the bounds of workplace banter for people who have a warm professional relationship.

        The other things – mentioning her husband is out of town? That’s just normal conversation. She networks with him more than anyone else? Maybe she sees a lot of potential in him. I have a boss who has been instrumental in helping me advance professionally and has very obviously taken an interest in me, chosen me for special projects, and put me in positions of power that people with far more tenure than me still don’t get. He happens to be gay and in a very long-term cohabiting relationship, so he’s not doing it because he has the hots for me. Sometimes bosses DO pick one subordinate to pay more attention to because they see the opportunity to be a mentor and help promising young talent develop, to the company’s and their own benefit.

        I was surprised that Alison’s response was that she was “definitely inappropriate.” OP’s letter sounded much more ambiguous and possibly misunderstanding the situation.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          Yup. My husband travels a lot on business, and I never thought of not mentioning it to my co-workers because they would think I was coming on to them. (All of them? I guess?) “My husband’s out of town, so I have to leave at 5:30 to get the kids from daycare.” That’s a come-on? Ugh. I HATE having to be so careful parsing every word because some guy is going to take it as a come-on.

      6. Poohbear McGriddles*

        One Mississippi… Two Mississippi… Three Mississippi! Dude, even if you got to 3 Mississippis you still need to keep it in your pants.

        I can see why the OP might think like he does, but I think he should err on the side of caution and assume he is misinterpreting it. If he brings it up, she would most likely deny it. Then the question would be did she deny it because her actions were innocent or because she wasn’t ready to admit it? So bringing it up would solve nothing.

        I’m a little curious about what things this manager is hinting that she needs done while her husband is away. If it’s something at her home (especially plumbing related! LOL), do not go there!

        1. Chinook*

          “One Mississippi… Two Mississippi… Three Mississippi! Dude, even if you got to 3 Mississippis you still need to keep it in your pants. ”

          Nice Big Bang reference and it does bring up a point that not everyone can read the signs appropriately but the OP isn’t asking if he should show up at her door with roses – he is asking if he should be careful. And, on this point, AAM is right. The OP’s boss is blurring the line and she is the one in the power position and can affect his career (instead of just not buy something). If the genders were reversed, there would be a compeltely different conversation going on which, in my mind, means that the OP should ensure that he is only giving off professional signs.

    3. JenniferT*

      I tend to be friends with guys more then women so at work I have a lot of guy friends. I’m married and I’ve been married for a long time. Whenever I talk to my guy friends I tend to mention my husband so they don’t get the wrong idea.

      That said I don’t know if your manager is flirting with you. It seems as though she’s just talking and being friendly. I agree with Ask the Manager that she may not have good boundaries.

      My husband’s boss once told him that my husband would be his “date” to an after-hours get together at a convention. His boss is an introvert and he like to have people who are more comfortable socializing with clients. So maybe that’s the situation with your boss.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        In a similar vein- I have a female boss that I think very highly of. One day a man fixed a bad problem in our computers. My boss said “well, your new boyfriend…” I must have had a blank look on my face because the comment seemed to be way out of character. She laughed, she explained, “I call any man who can fix my computer my new boyfriend.”

        So sometimes people do use partner-type expressions to convey that someone has rescued them from their own lack of ability or their own unease. This guy saved our butts by fixing the problem in our computers. I happened to be the one who worked with him directly. However, OPs boss does seem a little focused on OP. No one thing leads me to that conclusion, it’s a number of things. I do feel the situation might be fixable if OP just pretends not to notice and remains seriously focused on the work he is doing.

    4. Bee*

      I don’t think the manager’s behavior is necessarily inappropriate. I know a manager who acts like this with an employee. They’re friends. It’s fine.

      However, OP writing in about it does suggest something feels off to him. Like you said, the gut feeling about this is right more often than not. OP, be careful, don’t go out with this woman (and I’m going to disagree with Mister Pickle and say you’re better off in groups with her than alone), and keep an eye out for inappropriate behavior from her in case – distant possibility – you need to report something.

      1. Zillah*

        Yeah – unless the OP is someone who frequently thinks that women are secretly lusting after him – in which case he probably needs to adjust his perception – the fact that this has crossed his mind at all is hugely problematic, IMO, and indicates that she’s not really being super appropriate.

    5. Bea W*

      If my experience is any indication, people tend to get this more wrong than right. I dunno, I think it’s hard sometimes to separate out one’s own attraction from actual signals coming from the other person.

      I have vague recollections of reading something about mean being more likely to misperceive signals from female friends and think there’s more to it than there is, or something like that. I have no idea if that’s true or valid, but I’ve definitely had guy friends who mistook normal friendliness for an interest in something more, though it’s usually been in the context of he’s interested in her probably coloring his perception. Women probably do this too, but as a woman I’ve been on the awkward side of that equation with male friends who are interested in something more and mistook my friendliness as a sign I was too.

      1. SJP*

        Glad it’s not just me who isn’t entirely convinced that the OP thinks he is being hit on, but might not actually.
        But I think the OP shouldn’t definitely be cautious as this could go both ways. If she doesn’t ramps up the comments and things you could try and stop her in her tracks by saying you find it awkward/inappropriate/both.
        If she continues and it could go both ways i’d just try and shrug it off and keep her at arms length. But yea, don’t be alone with her if you can help it or whatever. Do keep yourself safe but also bare in mind that this person could just be socially awkward and not really know the boundaries

      2. Koko*

        I’m not sure if men make the mistake more often than women, or if it’s just that men out themselves for making the mistake more often because they tend to be the ones who try to escalate things. There have been guys I had crushes on and at some point thought we had flirtatious encounters and that they might like me back, but it just never went anywhere and I never really knew for sure whether they had liked me and lost interest or gotten more interested in someone else or whatever before anything happened between us, or if they had never liked me back in the first place. Whereas I think if a guy has a crush and suspects it’s reciprocated, he makes a move, so it’s very obvious when he misread the situation, if a girl has a crush and does nothing about it besides try to make herself more passively available, it’s never as obvious that she misread the earlier situation.

        1. Josh*

          This is the anonymous writer…to speak to some things mentioned since my question… Comments have been made by the boss like “I have usually had a few drinks when I text you at night” or “tell my husband that” . The context in which husband is out of town seemed out of place…”I need to get these kids organized as he is out of town until such and such”. “We are not so different” she is still conscious she is my boss but texts have gotten later, more comfortable and taken on a slightly more personal nature. I don’t mind the possibility of affair but need to know what I’m dealing with. The event for which I am her “date” I was the only one immediately informed of its location and her dilemma of drinking, potential to be tempted to smoke as I do and lack of accommodations or ride home, and children’s seats in the car which would prevent sleeping off booze on site but also a rather odd comment from your manager. Thoughts?

          1. Mister Pickle*

            I don’t mind the possibility of affair but need to know what I’m dealing with.

            Well – obviously there’s no real consensus here on what you’re dealing with.

            But – speaking as an older guy who has made many mistakes in life, I would seriously advise you to not have an affair with this person. If you need a reason: tell her it’s because of her kids.

          2. Don't have an affair with this woman*

            I repeat: DO NOT have an affair with this woman.

            Either you are misreading signals from a very inappropriately-behaving manager, or you are correct and she wants an affair. You lose either way.

          3. Emily*

            WOW. My main thought right now is WOW.

            Definitely try your best to put up boundaries immediately. Do not be alone with her. This will not end well for you. She has all the power in the situation and you have next to none.

      3. Lynn Whitehat*

        I remember some supermarket chain that mandated the employees smile at customers. They had to stop because, when female employees smiled at male customers, they were likely to misread it as “the cashier is totally hot for me” and act really inappropriate.

  8. Zillah*

    #3 –

    I have the same question as a couple other commenters: has your father talked to her about her workload? If he’s relying on her to run his business to the extent that you’re describing, it sounds to me like it’s quite plausible that she’s working longer hours in part because there’s a lot of work that needs to get done, especially if he’s working “less and less” without hiring new people. Honestly, I’m a little surprised by the expectation that someone with a key role in running a business not sometimes work more than 40 hours a week – it doesn’t seem like a simple 9-5 job.

    Not paying her obviously isn’t an option, and to be honest, posting a “no overtime” sign in the first place is going to create an incredibly adversarial relationship – not paying her on top of that would have her marching toward the door if she had any sense.

    It seems absurd to me that he’s assuming that if she’s salaried (read – exempt, which as Alison points out is something that’s decided by law, not him), she won’t work as much. I know many people who are classified as exempt, and none of them have that problem. If he’s that suspicious of a person with so much responsibility in his business, I hope he’s looking to replace her.

    1. Jax*

      I agree. She’s his office manager, and that’s a title that carries significant responsibilities. If she were one of many in the admin pool, than I could see the suspicion that she’s just padding her checks (even then it’s best to have a direct talk about why she can’t get her work done in 40 hours).

      Dad needs to ask himself, “Is she doing a great job? Am I happy with the way she’s running my office? How long would it take to train someone else to run the office as well as she does?” If this manager is his right hand man, then she probably feels irreplaceable and he should just pay her the overtime as the price of keeping an excellent employee. If he feels “meh” about her and her work (filing isn’t done on time, he sees her slacking during the day, he suspects she sets work aside to justify the overtime, etc.) then he should start looking for her replacement.

  9. Stephanie*

    #1: Man, I could have asked for reimbursement for my space heater all these years? One office prohibited them, citing fire risk.

    #3: FirstJob had prohibitions against unauthorized overtime for junior employees (we were exempt). Not that overtime didn’t happen due to the workload, you just had to hide it, which resulted in all kinds of kooky tricks like delaying sending emails and not logging out your workstation. It was only really something people got in trouble for if it was egregious or there were other performance issues. I got in hot water with my boss once after she saw I sent an email at 7:45 pm. The backstory was that a former employee sued for unpaid overtime for the excessive hours worked (somehow even though we were exempt). I think the lawsuit was either successful or settled, so the “solution” was just to ban unauthorized overtime.

    Anyway, your father should figure out why she’s working overtime–is it inefficiency or does she actually have that much work?

    #4: I interned (as a 21-year-old) with a guy I guess was in his late 20s or early 30s. He was doing the internship as part of a career change from a technician to engineer and was going back to school to get his BS. I don’t think older interns are uncommon (my dad’s recent summer intern was 32), but they are usually current students. And I’d guess the typical MBA intern is older as lots of people go to full-time business school after being the workforce for a few years. I’d guess you would just really have to sell your application as part of a career change (that may include more schooling) and persuade a manager that you’re ok working as intern (which I’d guess would be a big leap from working as a regular employee).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think that employee must have found to have been incorrectly categorized as exempt. An employer can’t be forced to pay overtime for exempt employees (unless there was a binding internal agreement at the time to pay it to them, in which case they could be held to that).

    2. Four*

      I’m currently not in school (graduated with a marketing degree) but am looking to gain a little more experience in the media field. I had one internship while in college with a radio station that I really enjoyed, which is the reason why I want to expand outwards from marketing. As I only have a couple of classes from school and one internship that would help me in that field, that’s why I’m more interested in looking at internships.

  10. West Coast Reader*

    #5 – Congratulations on the internship! I’m on the exact same boat! I handed in my resignation last week. I was sooo nervous to do it. I felt guilty because there’s been quite a bit of turnover. My employer is awesome though, and everyone is excited for me.

    Any chance you’re doing an AIESEC internship?

    1. Alexandra*

      Thank you so much and thank you Alison for answering to me ! I really needed a wise and professional point of view on that one !

      West Coast Reader, I am glad that we are both leading on the same adventure ! Well I’m giving it at the end of the week, I haven’t even written it yet because I’m so nervous too ! But I’m glad it went okay for you, we needed to do this ! No it’s a CIEE program, I’m actually a Law student so they found me an internship very quickly in a law firm ! I’d like to know more about your project and when you are leaving ! Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Kitty*

        Alexandra –
        I think a lot of students in your position might feel the same “guilt” as you. Especially when you’ve made a lot of friends, really enjoyed the job, and felt necessary and useful in your position. However, you don’t have to feel bad at all for your decision to take this great internship.
        Generally, people will realize that you leaving is nothing personal against them. It’s normal to leave a job when you have a new opportunity that will set you on a better path for your future career!
        Congrats, and best of luck!

      2. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

        If it’s a student job, they’re used to having people move on when they complete their education. I promise they won’t treat it as a personal insult.

  11. Mister Pickle*

    #4: It’s hard to get a job long-distance in general.

    I’m curious: is this a relatively recent phenomena? Or were my circumstances such that I didn’t run into this?

    My college (in the midwestern US) had many, many companies come on-site to interview students for co-op and full-time job positions. And it was more-or-less a given that the jobs were located far, far away. I took a co-op position that was more than a thousand miles away from my home and school. Later when I was looking for full-time jobs, several companies flew me out to interview – indeed, the first time I ever flew was for a job interview. I had friends who would brag about how many interview trips they’d taken – 10+ was not unusual (although I think I had maybe 3 before I decided to go to grad school).

    This was in the early 1980s. Have things really changed that much? Or: my degrees are in Computer Science, and my school (and most of my friends) was (were) big on science and engineering; did I luck out and hit a ‘bubble’? Are the “STEM” professions still actively recruited, or has there been a significant universal reduction in recruiting?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s changed. It’s directly correlated with the job market. With a crappy job market, employers have plenty of local candidates and thus don’t need to deal with the hassles/risk of long-distance ones. When the job market is better and they have fewer candidates, there’s more incentive to welcome candidates regardless of location.

      1. Bea W*

        This can vary depending on the job market for a particular field. Long distance recruiting in my field is pretty strong, and there are geographic shifts from time to time. Several years ago there was a big need for people in NJ/PA, and most of the solicitations and posting I saw were for this area. Lately I’ve been seeing more activity from companies on the west coast actively looking to relocate qualified people to fill positions.

      2. Judy*

        I’ve certainly had many recruiters contact me in the last year as an embedded software engineer living in the Midwest US for jobs all over the country. It’s hard to say if it’s less than 15 or 20 years ago, because there wasn’t linked in for them to find me easily. But it’s certainly more than say, in 2008 or 2009.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Right, I should have been clearly that I’m speaking in broad, general terms here. It can be different for specific fields or particularly sought-after people.

      4. Joline*

        That would make sense. I got my job in Edmonton (Alberta, Canada) from a phone interview. Really strong job market, a lack of qualified professionals, and not the best environment for most people (it’s currently -20C, feels like -28C). Those things lead to attempts to pull people in from outside and take risks on them without having physically met them.

    2. Stephanie*

      I graduated in 2008 and companies definitely still did on-campus recruiting for non-local jobs (and I got internship and full-time offers for non-local jobs). And I’ve met recent grads through professional orgs locally that moved from elsewhere for their jobs. But I’ll concede this is all anecdotal (and related to engineering).

      In my own job search, I’d guess at least 80% of the jobs I’ve interviewed for have been non-local (and I’ve applied to local stuff at about the same rate as long-distance stuff). I’d chalk that up to my kind of weird skill set and experience and the local economy. That being said, the long-distance thing is always something I have to overcome in interviews.

    3. Jay*

      I wish this was still a thing! I went to my local school to reduce living costs/the amount I’d need in student loans and now I’m worried I’ve basically committed myself to living in this state for the rest of my life because no one looks at out of state applicants for jobs anymore. I wish I considered that before turning down other schools in areas I’d rather live in the long run.

      1. Anx*

        This is such an important comment.

        I am so sick of people berating students for having taken out student loans to go to school out of state or out of region at a premium pre-economic crash who have more debt (or even just a lack of savings) than they would have all the while expecting them to move into these new areas that are hiring without a job, social network, or professional network.

    4. AnonyMouse*

      I actually do think a lot of companies still recruit seniors in college for long-distance jobs. At least in part because the assumption is a lot of them aren’t permanently based in that town anyway and will be free to move wherever once they’ve graduated. Although some of this might be tied to specific school as well – I graduated fairly recently but I think my university attracts a lot of on-campus recruiting through name recognition. Also anecdotally, I got one offer in another (far away) state and they did fly me out to interview. A few other people I knew also relocated.

      But I do think it’s different for non-college students who presumably (but not always) have deeper ties to where they’re living, we’d all probably have a much harder time if we tried to apply to non-local jobs now.

    5. AdAgencyChick*

      A little over 10 years ago I scored my first job in the niche of advertising I work in. I was flown in for interviews on the company’s dime (I stayed at a friend’s place, so no hotel charges), and I was offered relocation assistance as well. For a slightly-above-entry-level position.

      That would NEVER happen nowadays. As a hiring manager I’d probably be allowed to interview out-of-town candidates, because the junior positions are still harder to fill than the senior ones. But I wouldn’t be allowed to fill out an expense report for their travel, and HR/recruiting probably won’t offer them relocation $ unless they negotiate for it (I was offered it without being asked, back then).

    6. The IT Manager*

      It’s changed, but also STEM is different and recruiting on college campuses is different. When students leave college there is the expectation they’ll move to a new town to start their post-college life especially when the college is not in a big city.

      Mr. Pickle – Did you attend Rolla? I ask because it sounds like it with mostly STEM and the term “co-op” which I think is a unique term for an internship.

      1. Judy*

        Co-op is used in engineering to mean internships that alternate with studies. My school had a program that took 5 years to complete. The first year you were on campus all year. Starting the summer after the first year, you were either in school or at work alternating semesters for 3 years. You spent your last year on campus. You would co-op at the same company for 3 years, for a total of 5 semesters/summers. I went to school fall, spring and summer my freshman year, then worked fall of second year, and alternated until working my 4th year summer and then was at school fall and spring of my 5th year.

        Many engineering departments have co-op programs, some actually require co-op as part of the degree. (University of Cincinnati and Kettering University are ones that did when I was in school.)

        1. Liane*

          I don’t know if it is still common, or done at all, but in the ’80s & ’90s, many universities in the USA had Co-Op Ed internship programs that were open to any degree (if the partner employers had one that fit), and those internships were *Paid!* The same rate as a full-time, entry-level hourly employee would have been! I had 4 or 5 great semesters in our city’s water department lab, even got the okay to work there during my on-campus/academic semesters. Only program cost was 1 semester hour tuition at my level for each internship semester.

          Looking back, I think probably it was the bottom of the range. But it sure sounded great to College-student Liane, compared to minimum wage for her 10-15 hour work-study job. And certainly IMO much preferable to the unpaid ones I keep reading about. So any students reading this, find out if your school does this still.

        2. Dan*

          I did my undergrad at a school without a formal co-op program, but we called it “co-op”. Lots and lots of my friends had internships at the White House and Capitol Hill, and they called them “internships.” I always assumed the difference was that co-ops were paid and interns weren’t.

          And hello from a fellow UC alum, although I did my grad program in the business school. (Which was a really awesome applied math/analytics program.) We didn’t have any formal co-ops there either.

        3. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I always understood co-op to mean concurrent or in lieu of studies and internship to mean during the summers. This is how the terms were used at my school. Co-ops weren’t super popular since a lot of our classes were offered once a year (fall only or spring only and the fall only course would sometimes be a prerequisite for the spring only course). If you took a semester off to do a co-op, it usually meant an extra semester or year.

      2. Ludo*

        Exactly. I sort of work in STEM (my specific role is not STEM but I am at a biotech) and every single STEM role employee was recruited from out of town. Although none were flown out (thanks, Skype!), all are offered some relocation assistance if they are above the technician level.

      3. Mister Pickle*

        First off, thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I could (and probably should) go google a bit on this topic myself, but given the crowd here at AAM, I value your input a lot.

        The IT Manager: close! But I lived across the river: UIUC was the school for what all you kids call “STEM” :) and low in-state tuition.

        I rarely hear the term “co-op” anymore, but it was common at my school circa 1980. Nowadays all I hear is “intern”. Or, more shockingly: “unpaid intern”. I think Harlan Ellison said it best.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I haven’t attended in many years, but Missouri: S&T still uses the term “co-op” and it was exactly as Judy describes (although students could change the company they were employeed with if they wished and I know some who did). Co-op employees were paid well; although, I’m not sure if it matched full-time entry level employees.

          As for co-op, it seems like a term for an internship used in some STEM programs.

    7. Addiez*

      One more thought for #4 – though I agree with Alison about the intent, I do think it’s easier to get an internship from away than a job. In all the internships I had, I interviewed by phone because I wasn’t in the position to come in (in college, abroad) and it was never an issue. I feel like companies are more likely to take a risk on someone who can’t come in in person for a role that has a specific endpoint.

    8. Anonasaurus Rex*

      I think there’s also a difference in how long distance your search is. I’m in a STEM field and it’s been no issue for me to job hunt and get interviews in a short radius around where I live now, about 100 miles in either direction, some out of state. It’s easy for me to drive to their locations and to make plans on a fairly short notice. If you’re searching across country and have to fly in for interviews, that’s a whole different story and probably negatively impacts your ability to even get interviews, much less progress through the process unless you are in demand in some way. A friend who is in my same field, with similar experience, is having a rough time even getting an interview and she is looking to relocate from Boston area to Texas.

    9. Annie*

      I graduated in 2011. My large midwestern public university had a really excellent career fair for the engineers. As a chemical engineer, I interviewed for a few jobs in October and November, assuming a start time after graduation. I also got internships and co-ops through the career fair, some nearby, some 1,000 miles away. Almost all of my friends had job offers in hand by January the year we graduated.

      There wasn’t anything similar in size for people in the liberal arts school, where I think a lot of the employment came after graduation.

    10. NowProwl*

      Probably depends on the field … I’ve had a Skype interview for a position versus being flown out in STEM. Cheaper anyways!

  12. Anonymous Confessional Booth*

    Do not, dooooooo nooooooot have an affair with your boss.

    Especially don’t get drunk with your boss and let them talk you into it.

    Your boss might be lying about having a pregnant wife.

    You might resign and then stress the fuck out about whether your boss is taking other young 20-somethings out drinking and talking *them* into embarking on an affair and feeling pressured into shit they’re uncomfortable with.

    Seriously, no matter how much of a good idea it seems like, it isn’t.

    1. Zillah*

      Given that this OP’s boss has been mentioning her husband, I think it’s a safe bet that she’s not lying about having a pregnant wife! :P

    2. ACB #2*

      Also – do not get drunk with coworkers who secretly have a thing for you. They might confess, and you might be interested, and then they might ignore you forever because they feel guilty about their girlfriend. This is always super awkward.

    3. ACB #3*

      I hooked up w my boss a few times and I enjoyed it. but the emotional fallout was too much for me. (didn’t affect my job though thank God).
      He said I was the only one and I believe him. but the thought did cross my mind if he tried anything with anyone else and it drives me crazy.

      Once very very attracted to someone who reported to me but I never pursued that–because I took my job seriously, and I never felt any interest on his end so I was careful not to drop hints or flirt too much.

  13. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    #5 – I always, always feel guilty about resigning, no matter how terrible the workplace and how awesome the new opportunity. It is so, completely normal.

    1. HarperC*

      Yep, me too. No matter how much I was clawing at the walls to get out, I feel guilty when the time actually comes to get out. It’s totally normal, #5. You are moving on! It’s something you are totally, totally supposed to do. Good luck with your internship! Sounds like a great opportunity!

      1. Alexandra*

        I know right?! It’s like you can see everywhere in the news and even around you that times are tough to get a job, so when you’re quitting it, how not to feel guilty ? But thank you so much for the feedback, I really appreciate it and I can now move on quietly without telling myself I made a mistake ! It is a great opportunity!!

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          And to ease more of your guilt, even though it’s hard now to find a job, someone else is going to get your old job. They’ve been looking for a job, and now it’s going to be available to find.

        2. West Coast Reader*

          Oooh yeah, I know what you mean about seeing how tough it is for new grads to get jobs and then quitting my great job. Decent pay for the work (and my English degree), good benefits, generous vacation time, great co-workers – I knew that others would think I’m crazy (or at least impudent) to quit it. But at the end of the day, it’s still time for me to move on. In 20 years, we aren’t going to be thinking about the jobs we quit, we’re going to be regaling others with our stories abroad!

    2. Sans*

      I only feel guilty when it’s a good job with good people. And since every single job I have seems to start out great and then eventually go to hell with a new bad boss, restructuring or refusal to hire more people even when business triples, the last time I felt guilty about leaving a job was in the 80s.

  14. Robert A.*

    #3 – I think it’s generally a better idea to give advice to the letter-writer rather than someone who will never actually read the site (letter-writer’s dad).

    In that spirit, OP #3, I think you should figure out whether this is something you should be handling for your father or something you should be butting out of. Your letter implies, but doesn’t quite say, you might be managing the business occasionally. Are you, or aren’t you? If it’s not your job to manage this person, then you are best off learning how to set some boundaries with your father about work-related discussions. If your father in his boss-role is not taking your advice in your subordinate-role regarding one of your father’s employees, it’s time to let this issue go. Your responsibility there is limited to reigning in any ideas your father has that might violate labor law regarding the situation. You said your piece, and he disregarded it.

    If this falls under your responsibilities to handle, though, then go handle it. You already have a good idea of what your options are, and you don’t like your father’s non-solution. Go figure out the likely consequences of your options, and enact the decision that works best for the situation. Don’t try to badger your father into handling the hard part for you if it is your call to make.

  15. Kiwi*

    Being constantly and obsessively present at work can also be a red flag for fraudulent activity (they must always be there to ensure that no one has the opportunity to stumble across their fraud). Is this employee and the transactions she processes well supervised? Are all transactions thoroughly checked and authorised by someone else before finalised?

  16. Cheesecake*

    OP #3 There is probably something missing in the whole story, but it looks like you are blindly trying to cut some costs. You do not mention employee slacking and having nothing done while sitting there 10 hours every day. On the contrary, it looks to me like she really has a lot to do.
    I am wondering, is overtime paid in full in the US? Here in Europe in some countries it is, say only 10% of hourly wage. So it makes no sense to pull extra hours to get more money.

    OP #5 – totally normal. I’ve left 2 jobs (both permanent and after quite some time having them), cried both times but never regretted. We spend 8 hours every day in the office (well, at best 8 hours), it is such a significant part of our lives that i can’t imagine having no emotions at all, leaving all that behind

    1. Kat A.*

      In the US, people get time and a half for overtime if it’s beyond their normal 40 hours per week. So, they get 150% of their hourly wage.

      1. Bea W*

        Yes, this is why so many employers want to avoid or minimize overtime. It’s very expensive. It is much more cost effective to hire additional people than pay out overtime at premium. For people who are able to pick up extra hours, it can be very lucrative for them.

    2. Bea W*

      So if you work 5 extra hours one week, you are only paid 10% of your wage for the 5 extra hours? If you normally get paid $10/hr, you would make only $1/hr? This is completely the opposite in the US where if you make $10/hr normally, you would be paid $15 for every hour you worked beyond 40 hours in one week. OT in the US is highly coveted for this reason when you can get it.

      In Europe does this low rate cause employers to take advantage of workers? Can workers refuse to work overtime? Here the thinking is that employers would take advantage of workers and require them to work long hours. The 1.5x law both acts as a deterrent to forcing people to work more than 40 hours while ensuring people who do work long hours are properly compensated for that time.

      1. UKAnon*

        I think that this is where the greater legal protections in other areas kick in. You don’t have to be paid at all for overtime above the stated contractual hours here, however the national minimum wage is calculated per hour, so if you were paid £10 an hour but worked a 70 hour week and still only received £400, you’d come in below minimum wage, so the company would have to pay you extra to bring you up to at least min wage (currently £6.50 an hour off the top of my head) You also can’t be required to work more than 48 hours a week average unless you specifically opt out in writing (Working Time Directive)

        It’s also, I think, a cultural thing. The majority of places don’t really require overtime or long work hours – the odd half an hour or working through lunch to get things done is normal, but not beyond that – and so most people are going to leave if the culture gets ridiculous. It certainly feels like we have a much better work-life balance than a lot of workers in the US, so I think it just hasn’t emerged as a problem in the same way.

        I also don’t know if you have the option for time off in lieu? That’s fairly common in the UK too, to compensate for overtime.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          I believe Federal employees have the option to take comp time instead of overtime pay, but it’s illegal for other organizations to offer it (though it’s not unheard of for non-exempt/salaried employees who would otherwise not get overtime to get a bit of comp time if they’ve work a ton of extra hours in some industries. Especially in industries where work ebbs and flows where you’re super busy for a month but twiddling your thumbs the next.)

      2. De (Germany)*

        I think “in Europe”is simplifying this way too much in this instance. I get paid my normal rate for overtime. I have no idea which country this 10% thing comes from and it sounds ridiculous to me.

        1. Joline*

          That doesn’t sound like something that the EU would support for any of their member countries. Not really based on anything, but they do push for fairness and rights in employment and that doesn’t sound fair or “right”.

          1. Cheesecake*

            “the fairness” is that it is not ok to work more than 8 hours a day (for an office job) and overtime should be paid. EU does not push member states to all have same overtime %; but this can be stipulated by trade unions (in case they are active in the country).

        2. Cheesecake*

          “in some countries” habe ich gesagt. In Switzerland for example most office jobs have overtime “included” in your hours (and that is stipulated by the contract, i only know 1-2 exception to this), so we can sit here 24 hours and get same salary :)

    3. Alexandra*

      So you know better than me how it is. At first you don’t know these people when you start your job, but then they become your friends — sometimes even best friends — and you create memories, you earn money, and you just start to ask yourself why on Earth you should leave, because it’s totally fine like this. But here is the deal, this is not my real job and I have an internship to do :(

      1. Cheesecake*

        Well, the reason i was crying was different. When i started, i have learnt and invested a lot, it was tough to leave all that behind and start fresh.

        To your point, you meet amazing people at work (and you definitely will meet more moving on)….but they don’t pay salary or build your career (at least not all of them). I have left a job because there was no place for me to move on to. In this case great colleagues can’t help. So acknowledge your emotions (it is OK to feel sad or guilty) and move on. Good luck!

  17. Soharaz*

    This is unrelated to the topic, but did the date sorting bit on the side disappear? I noticed because I was working my way through archives (from old to new), but now the dates are gone!

  18. BritCred*

    for 3# how many hours are we talking? Are we talking 10-15 mins each side and the occassional lunch hours? Or several hours more?

    Either way sit down with the employee and work out why.

  19. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    I would be the worst non-exempt employee ever. Just the worst. I’m not capable of working a precise schedule and cutting off at x time for a break and then y time to just walk out the door. I’d probably figure out how to break back into the building to sneak in and finish whatever was going on when nobody was looking.

    The employee in #3 has all my sympathies if she is wired anything like me. I think what it would take to get me to stop is having somebody say please, I’m begging you here, I can’t afford to pay overtime and I don’t want to break the law.

    Related, HR recently cracked down on a couple of non-exempt employees at Wakeen’s. Very nice people who just wanted to do their jobs longer who were sneaking in working extra time and not recording it. The employees were very upset. “I don’t want to get paid! I just want to get these checks recorded before I leave. It makes me crazy to not have everything clear on my desk before I leave.”

    Thanks to Alison, I was able to be sympathetic to the employees and still support HR, instead of saying “Yeah, HR is whack about that aren’t they.”

    1. Denied Employment*

      This. I’m non-exempt and I often leave work feeling like I wasn’t done with x, y and z but because I don’t want to deal with filling out a form to explain why I stayed 10 minutes later–I try to convince myself it can wait until the next day–and leave. But it so hard, good thing my work isn’t deadline or production driven. Some days I’m standing at the time clock right at 4:53 just to “make up” for days I stayed later. (but definitely not earlier than that because I would lose 15 min for clocking out early) I try to order my day to be as efficient with my time on the clock as possible but….anyway it sucks.

    2. Zillah*

      Ughhh, yeah. I’m non-exempt, and I am hoping desperately to find an exempt position in my current job hunt, because I am just not cut out for it. At all. I just want to get my work done!

      1. Bea W*

        Sometimes I feel like being non-exempt would force me into regaining some work-life balance. So I’m mixed on being exempt.

        1. AdminAnon*

          In a sense, it does. But try being one of the only non-exempt employees in an organization where the majority of the staff is working at all hours of the day and night. Talk about guilt! I’ll come in at 8, clock in, and find a dozen or so emails that were sent between midnight and 4am. Then I’ll waltz out the door at 5, leaving everyone else behind still scrambling to get things done. It’s awful. Not to mention the times when I am elbows deep in a project, making excellent progress, when I suddenly look at the clock and realize that it’s 5:15 or 5:25. Luckily, my boss is somewhat understanding, but overtime is still pretty seriously frowned upon. I would kill to be exempt.

          And don’t even get me started on remembering to clock in and out for lunch….

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’ve always preferred to be non-exempt, as usually I don’t get roped into copious amounts of overtime because companies don’t want to spend the money. But sometimes, like today, when I went to lunch with one of my managers and our sales rep, I would have liked not to have to clock in and out. I hate having to hurry when I go out to lunch with someone or clocking back in late. Though we did talk about work most of the time.

            1. AdminAnon*

              That’s always so tricky. I’ve learned to just always clock out for lunch no matter what, but the other two non-exempt employees tend to get themselves into trouble by assuming that a “working lunch” or any sort of work-related event means they get paid. For instance, we had a really nice holiday lunch last year, which lasted nearly three hours. I clocked out before we left and ended up having to stay late on Christmas Eve to make up the time, while the other non-exempt folks got in a bit of hot water for not clocking out, but still got paid. Lunch in general is the worst, though. I only take about 10-15 minutes to actually eat (I bring my lunch), so I typically just start working again a little early…but I lose track of time a lot and forget to punch back in. My manager is fairly understanding, but some days I will just stay an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day to make the time up instead of asking her to correct it. Anyway, blargh.

    3. Sans*

      My husband is a retail manager and he is non-exempt. Most retail managers are exempt, get paid a lousy salary, and work 60 hours a week. So it’s wonderful that he is non-exempt because they only ask him to work overtime when they really, really need him to. And at least he gets paid for it.

      I hate that companies have gotten all of us to buy into the feeling that you are lazy if you don’t work more than 40 hours, if exempt. Once upon a time, companies actually hired enough people to do the work. Perhaps upper mgmt did a lot of hours – for very good money – but others generally didn’t. Now, companies hire less people than they need, pressure current employees into doing the extra work for free, and pocket the profits.

  20. Rebecca*

    I’m part of a non-exempt group in our office, and 4 of them are doing this very same thing: coming in early and working through breaks/lunch but not recording it. Our manager said “no overtime”, but they continue to work the OT but not put it on their time cards.

    Result? Now it appears our office can do more work in a 40 hour week than we are actually capable of doing. 4 people x 1 hour per day x 5 days = 20 hours per week, or 1/2 person. And we’re losing a person in a few weeks to another position in the company. Dollars to donuts she won’t be replaced.

    I have tried to tell these ladies what they’re doing isn’t legal, and they need to stop, and I’ve told our manager it’s still going on, but she turns a blind eye because the no OT makes her budget look good. I’ve basically thrown up my hands. I work my prescribed 8 hours, take my breaks, and what doesn’t get done will wait until tomorrow.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        And more sympathies, the other direction.

        My first explanation to our upset employees (from my post) was about the legal exposure. That was hard for them to grasp because they insisted that nobody would ever complain therefore legal exposure wasn’t a problem.

        My second explanation resonated a bit more, regarding staffing allocations. They don’t work for me, they work on another floor in corporate who, honestly, is known for being overly optimistic about how many people it takes to do what. Lookit, if checks pile up unrecorded and deposited, I guarantee you somebody in the PTB chain is going to notice we have no monies, right? It’s PTB’s job to make sure there are enough people working enough hours to get something done. If you cover for that by working unapproved hours for free, the problem won’t come to light and it won’t get fixed.

        That was mildly reassuring but mostly they were still upset.

    1. Denied Employment*

      We have a few who does this. Some are generally people who “need to get this done” others are just brown nosers–imo. One time I was asked to cover an opening shift during my normal hours but the person I was supposedly covering was there working “in the background” –she had been warned not clock in early. She told me to not mind her because she wasn’t on the clock. I never clock in early but I do struggle with clocking out later. I try to stay within the time window and order my work accordingly.

    2. C Average*

      I have been this person, trying to cram more than 40 hours of work into a 40-hour block (or something that looked like a 40-hour block if you squinted real hard and didn’t look too closely at lunches, arrival times, departure times, weekends, email time stamps, and documents I emailed to my personal email account to work on at home). Even after becoming exempt, I did more than was sustainable from a workload standpoint.

      What it took for me was a manager who essentially said this (or something much like it): “You are running the risk of burning out. You are doing more work than one person reasonably can or should be doing. I know you take a lot of pride in your work ethic, but the truth is that even as hard as you work, you drop some balls because the job is too big for one person. I want to get you some help, but to do that–to justify going to the business and asking for head count–I need to demonstrate that the job is too big for one person. It’s going to be tough on your ego, but I need you to work a reasonable schedule and drop some of those balls. I can sit down with you and help you prioritize your responsibilities and be very clear with you about which balls cannot be dropped. You’ll attend to those first and they’ll get done. The other stuff–the less important stuff–I’m asking you to let go of. At the end of the day, walk out the door, whether that stuff is done or not. It will help me build a case to get you a peer.”

      Her plan worked. I am so glad I obeyed her instructions. There are a million things I don’t love about my manager, but I’ll be eternally grateful to her for seeing that I couldn’t hold that pace forever, taking the steps to build a business case for getting some help, and making it happen. I can take vacations now. I get weekends now. I get to see my family now. When a big project gets dropped on me, the keep-the-lights-on stuff still gets done. This was not the case in the past.

      If this woman’s manager truly wants her to stop working overtime, he needs to assure her that she will not be penalized if there are things undone at the end of her scheduled workday, assuming she’s been conscientious during her work hours. He may also need to help her prioritize the tasks within that workday, making clear what is and isn’t negotiable if the work exceeds the time available.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        This, exactly. My team’s timecards have been a great bludgeon to get upper management to shake loose some much-needed headcount.

  21. Turtle*

    I’ve been a lurker here for a few weeks now and I think this blog is great. Just this morning I was wondering the same thing as OP#5 (I’m interviewing for full-time jobs, and may soon need to leave a part-time job I rather like) and I thought, “Gee, I bet AAM has some helpful scripts for telling your boss you’re moving on!” Couldn’t have asked for a more timely pointer. (And congratulations to OP#5! I hope the conversation goes well, and that your time abroad is amazing.)

    1. Alexandra*

      This blog really is awesome, and yes it is amazing to realize that you aren’t the only one in this situation and that you are not alone. I am going to resign at the end of the week, and I know it is going to be fabulous because there is a brand new life waiting for me and I wish the same for you !

  22. Not an IT Guy*

    #3 – Agree with everyone else, look into her workload. And I would add be somewhat grateful that the owner is aware of the law, my company fully expects me to work off the clock as an hourly, non-exempt worker.

  23. TotesMaGoats*

    #1-The bigger issue I see is that you are taking a very hard line stance about a hill that’s not worth dying on. It seems to me that your boss isn’t going to do much about the temp. You need to back off. Get a heater, bring a blanket and jacket. This is one of those issues that, IMO, gets you labeled as whiny and hard to work with. Now, your boss should be up front about what he is or is not going to do but you need to pay attention to the cues he’s giving you. And don’t go over his head. How on earth can you think that would do anything other than make you look bad? Your boss isn’t breaking the law or even doing anything that is questionable. You might get what you want but you’ll ask get a boss that doesn’t like you anymore.

  24. Joey*

    #2 interesting that your interested in finding out if she’s into you, but mention nothing about wanting to draw a boundary with her.

    1. Mike C.*

      I think it’s more that the advice really changes depending on the answer to that question. If he can be convinced that she’s not into him, he doesn’t have to worry about all the uncomfortable stuff that could possibly happen if she is.

      Also, I think he’s kind of panicking a bit and is only concerned about what’s right in front of him.

  25. Sophiabrooks*

    I would wonder how much actual overtime the office manager is doing before speaking to her. I had many office experiences where the expectation that we be clocked in for exactly 40 minutes, not one minute over, but not one minute less while simeotaneously recording hour time to the minute AND not punching in at the exact hour led to a lot of stress and strain.

    Anything less than 3 minutes really should either be paid with no hassle or rounded in accordance with rounding rules.

    Also, 20 years ago I was expected to punch in 7 minutes before my scheduled shift so I would be at my desk at the appointed time, so she may be still thinking that way?

  26. UniversityDrone*

    #5, I manage students at a university, and those of us who manage students know you’re all going to move on eventually! You don’t need to feel guilty about taking opportunities that will help build your future career. I’m always genuinely happy when my students leave to pursue something in their field of study, even if I am sad to lose a good worker.

  27. justine*

    #1 if your biggest problem at work is that it’s chilly you are truly blessed.

    Here’s what you do:
    1. Never whine about the temperature again.

    2. Wear clothing that looks professional and keeps you warm. Do not wear a parka or a snuggie at work. If you run cold and you have to invest in high quality socks and clothing, well that’s your lot in life.

    3. Get rid of the space heater. These are expensive to run (if you’re using it 30 hours a week it could be more than $20 depending on the model you have). They are also dangerous. If you continue to have this personal appliance at work make sure it follows there safety guidelines: automatic shutoff, topple proof, plug it into a wall outlet never an outlet strip, always unplug it when not in use, keep a 3-foot clearance around it, unplug it when unattended, keep paper away from it.

    1. Kelly L.*

      This seems a little unwarrantedly snarky. I don’t even think a lot of this is in the letter–we don’t have any indication that she “whined,” or that she wore anything unprofessional (she says a jacket; the snuggie was a joke from another commenter), and the “if that’s your biggest problem” thing is pretty much never a good look.

    2. Jessica*

      Warm, professional clothes can be a tall order depending on the OP’s budget, gender and just how cold it is where s/he works.

      Also, I’d posit that this isn’t as negligible a problem as you might think. Being uncomfortably cold can really cut down on productivity and ability to concentrate.

      1. Anx*

        Being physically uncomfortable has reduced my productively drastically at work.

        Our environment is remote controlled, but one day there was some work being done and the temp was colder. I probably produced 1/6 of my usual work.

        My boyfriend and I have decided that it’s worth the debt to keep our house a certain temp, because we both do some work from home and get pretty cold. I am a woman and have Raynaud’s and my daytime body temp is 97.4 degrees. Bundling up doesn’t keep hands warm, and gloves interfere with computer work and other work. My grades are soo much better now that we keep the house at ~68 or above.

    3. LBK*

      Sometimes it’s so cold in my office that I actually can’t move my fingers enough to type. I have to get some tea or coffee and hold my hands on the hot mug for a while before I can work. I think that’s a valid complaint.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Oh, I hate having to type with frozen fingers. I’ve had fingerless gloves suggested, but it’s the fingertips that are the problem! I usually end up doing the coffee mug thing too.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          You would be surprised at how warm your hands and fingers can be with fingerless gloves! I think it’s because it keeps the blood warm as it passes your wrists (where the vein is closest to the skin), and if you’re using them to type, they work even better. I have some nice elbow-length wool ones that I knitted (with sock yarn, so they’re not very thick) on right now, and while my nose is cold, my fingers are toasty warm. :)

    4. Bee*

      This was rude. Being cold is distracting at best.

      Besides that, writing in to AAM about something doesn’t mean it’s your biggest problem. It’s just one you’d like her input on.

  28. Miss Betty*

    #3 – this employee sounds like she’s the office manager. I have never worked in an office where the office manager’s job was strictly 40 hours a week. If she’s truly running every aspect of the office, it’s probably not possible for her to do everything in 40 hours.

  29. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’ve never seen an office manager position be classified as non-exempt. In fact, it’s usually listed as one of specific examples of the administrative non-exempt exception.

    **Someone correct me if I’m wrong here… isn’t it legal for an employer to incorrectly classify an employee as non-exempt? Is that right?

    1. Koko*

      I raised an eyebrow at that too. If she’s that critical to the business (“My father depends on her totally to run the office”) that sounds awfully exempt to me:

      “The Regulatory definition provides that exempt administrative job duties are

      (a) office or nonmanual work, which is
      (b) directly related to management or general business operations of the employer or the employer’s customers, and
      (c) a primary component of which involves the exercise of independent judgment and discretion about
      (d) matters of significance.”

      Now, maybe he’s directing her every move and she’s not exercising any judgment, but the “depends on her totally to run the office” suggests that she is indeed exercising judgment and discretion about matters of significance.

      1. KJR*

        I was thinking this as well. It sounds as if it’s worth looking into placing her into the Administrative exemption status.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I read it as “office manager” in the admin sense — not managing others, but managing phones, visitors, supplies, systems, etc. Receptionists are often office managers. Those roles are usually non-exempt.

    2. Joey*

      I’m reading it as possibly exempt. If I were the op before I followed Alison’s advice Id write down the job functions, go to The DOL website and see if indeed she passes the exempt test.

  30. Joey*

    #3. Before I proceeded with consequences I would explain to the office manager why unpaid OT is such a big deal. I would guess she probably has no idea it’s illegal for her employer to allow her to work unpaid. Then I would tell her it can’t happen again and if it does there will be some serious consequences.

  31. bridget*

    #4 – It makes sense to me why getting an internship would be easier as a non-local candidate than a full-time job, because internships are often inherently temporary. One of the reasons it’s difficult to get a job outside of your area is because you have to convince the hiring manager that you really do want to move and live in the area for several years. If I were hiring for a regular job, where I was looking for a candidate who would stay a few years, I might be concerned he/she wouldn’t settle in, would hate the city, and would leave to move home soon. With interns, it’s less of a concern because the job will be over in six months or a year anyway, and if you hate the area, you can move back home with no skin off my back.

    1. Four*

      This is one of the areas I’m struggling at, is expressing in my cover letter or general application that I want to move to a new city. I’ve told people that I have a Marketing degree and I’ve had people tell me that I need to look outside of the state, in Chicago or New York, rather than Wisconsin. And honestly, I feel so stuck in this city right now that I really need and want a change. Moving to NYC is something I’ve wanted for years, I’ve gone so far as to look at apartments, research areas, look at finances, etc. I’m not just blindly applying for jobs in other areas.

  32. Scott R*

    I wish my office could be kept at 76 degrees. It’s always above 80, sometimes as high as 90, because the company doesn’t want to turn on the air conditioning because “running air conditioning is expensive” (though the managers have private air conditioners in their offices). I’m thinking of having a doctor write a note saying I need a “reasonable accommodation” of a workplace that is below 80 degrees.

  33. Mike C.*

    OP #2:

    If you decide to ignore AaM’s advice, you’re morally obligated to write back in great detail as to what happened. I mean what’s the worst that can happen? You’re young, you’ll bounce back! Think of the stories you’ll have to tell your buddies/readers of this blog! Besides, this could really help out your early career.

    Do it!

    /Don’t actually do this.

  34. LawBee*

    #1 – get a girlfriend/boyfriend, talk about him/her all the time. That will nip it in the bud. A pretend one works wonders! (voice of experience) 1) you’re no longer “available” and 2) the only thing more tedious to listen to than someone’s wedding plans is someone’s new SO. :D

    #3 – sweaters, fuzzy socks for the feet. Those who run cold can always layer, but those who run hot are kind of stuck with clothes. We can’t work naked, after all!

  35. Nervous Accountant*

    Re: #3 learned about OT the hard way at a temp assignment I had a few years ago. The details are a little hazy but it’s true.

    I got an assignment through a staffing agency….the schedule was set up in a way that my days off would be different for one or two weeks per month. So lets say my normal schedule was M-F/9-5 with weekends off, and one week, I’d have Thursday off but come in Saturday. So when the first week came that I had a weekday off, I ended up working 6 days in that period: Sunday through Saturday (M, T, W, Th, F, S). The next pay period I would work M, T, W, F, S. (hope that makes sense, it was a few years ago so the logistics of it is a little fuzzy right now), so one week I’d have a total of 45 and 35 the next week, and then 40 as usual.

    So, that 6 day week resulted in 45 hours or so. When I logged it onto the satffing agency’s website, I got a text from the client (the person I worked for) saying I wasn’t busy enough to justify all this OT and didn’t do much during the week. Turns out for some reason on her screen it showed 5 days bu t a total of 45 hours, whereas it was usually under 40. I (nervous as F) tried to explain that bc of hte 6 day week, it came out to that much. Printed out my screen and showed it to her (either that or I showed her when I reported to work the next day how it looked from my screen–again a few years so forgot that detail) so it seemed like everything was OK.

    The client called up my recruiter and asked if there was a way to get around that bc she didn’t want to pay me OT without changing the schedule, like having me come in half a day or something. I said I didn’t have any issue with that (bc, well, I was willing to work part time, or basically anything so long as I was WORKING and getting paid my hourly rate) and the recruiter said no that wasn’t acceptable. So the client said that I should just lie on my timesheet so that it would end up under 40. I said OK, (remember…desperate to keep a job), but felt weird about it.

    I also worked frequently through lunch, took maybe 15 minute lunch breaks, sat at my desk etc and stayed an hour late once because I thought it was the right thing to do. I worked slow not to pad my paycheck but I didn’t want to F up anything or make mistakes….I didn’t know it was a bad thing to not take breaks. Another day, I stayed late an hour (left at 6 instead of 5) because I had felt bad leaving at 5 while everyone was swamped. I thought that was the acceptable thing to do, part of being a team etc. The client/my boss asked if I was staying and I said yes.

    Well the time came to “lie” on my timesheet but before that could happen, I was let go from the assignment. There were a few other reasons but the pay thing did come up as well and I told my recruiter that the client had wanted to me to lie. When I was putting in my final hours, my timesheet was rejected (it was WAY under 40) for an hour that the client claimed to not have authorized. I din’t want to fight over that 1 hour but I still ended up contacting my recruiter and explained the conversation that took place, and I ended up getting paid anyways.

    A few years later I had an internship. It was part time, but the pay was decent. the owner of hte company said “don’t worry about lunch–we don’t micromanage your lunch.” So I was allowed to put the full 24 hours instead of 21.5 and get paid for it. (later on if it were to go FT I would have asked for clarification).

    What were hte lessons I learned? I guess, ask about these things. get clarification, and with a few more years of experience, I have a better understanding of what’s allowed and not allowed. I know I didn’t do it out of bad intention, but I can see how bad it *looked.*

    1. Nervous Accountant*

      Now that I think about it I have another overtime story.

      I had taken on a part time/temp assignment….contacted as needed, no set schedule or anything. It came in at a time when I was extremely desperate for work and I was very eager in the first few months and grateful to be working.
      One week I came in at 40 hours in the week bc of a particularly busy week. My boss texted me if I can come in again the next day, I said sure. I asked btw will I get paid OT bc I already made 40 hours. She replied back “forget it I don’t need you. you don’t get OT, any benefits etc bc you’re a temp, we don’t pay insurance on you.” something to that effect…At this point I PANICKED (bc hey, always desperate to work! and would be worried I wouldn’t get any hours in the future) and said no no it’s OK I was just wondering, bad timing on my part etc. pretty much begged to work the next shift and apologized profusely for bringing it up. so I came in to work, ended up working less than 50 hours total for that week. got paid regular rate. Never even thought I had any rights or that she’d done anything wrong and kicked myself for “ruining” it..

      Cut to a year later, after months of jerking me around, too many offers of positions and shifts that didn’t pan out for a number of reasons, I got frustrated and applied for unemployment while I actively looked for a job. Ex company got wind of it, and started offering me shifts again…pulled a whole bunch of crazy stunts just so I wouldn’t get unemployment anymore. Led to a dispute where Dept of Labor rep reached otu to me…at the time I was working FT crazy hours…told her all about the OT conversation + the other stuff and never heard from em again.

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