should my resume say that I don’t want kids, who owns my artwork, and more

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

1. Mentioning on my resume that I don’t want kids

I’m applying for jobs in a competitive market and a notoriously sexist field, and I’m wondering if it would be strange to mention on my resumé that I absolutely categorically don’t ever want kids? Obviously I wouldn’t phrase it that way, but I want to reassure potential employers that I won’t leave with a bun in the oven a few months or years into the job, and in the UK it’s illegal for them to ask.

Would this come across as really weird? Is there any way I can introduce it to the cover letter/interview instead, maybe?

Yes, that would come across as really weird. Nothing about having kids, their existence or non-existence, ever belongs on a resume.

You could certainly mention it in an interview if you want to and if you think it’s going to sway someone’s opinion about you, as long as it comes up organically and doesn’t sound forced; sounding forced or deliberate will make good, non-sexist interviewers really uncomfortable, and those are the very ones who you don’t want to screen out. But it categorically should not be on your resume.

2. Who owns my artwork?

I want to know who owns the artwork I create while working in-house as a graphic designer. I work partially for a start-up media company, where I pretty much do everything except find the clients in the first place. I am the only designer, we have a part-time developer and then just the owner (no design or marketing background) so I liaise with clients, deal with many emails, and complete every type of print and digital design, including mobile apps and the brand direction. The owner also owns a fast food chain which is rapidly growing and I am currently refining their identity system ready for their next store opening. I work mostly for the latter company dealing with all of the above design and planning work as well as assisting with their HR documentation design and organization.

I run my own freelance business in addition to this in-house job and understand the legalities (as is in my personal client contracts) of my ownership of all original artwork unless otherwise paid for and rights transferred, etc. I am unsure, however, of my rights and ownership for the work I create at my full-time job. I guess if I was working in a large team for a big corporate business where many people’s input is involved, then the artwork would belong to the company, but with myself doing 100% of the work around and directly on all projects, I am a little unsure as to my ownership rights.

Your company owns the work that you produce for them as part of your job. You’re engaging in something called “work for hire”; they’re hired you to produce work, and they own the rights to that work.

3. Should I address layoffs on my resume?

In 2009, my job was eliminated due to downsizing, along with quite a few others on a surprise layoff at the height of the recession. During the 22 months of unemployment, I started a volunteer project and blogged about it. I subsequently got a job and was employed for the last 4 years. Then, out of the blue, that position was also eliminated (due to restructuring within the organization). How could I be so lucky, right? During this unemployment, I am running a networking group that I formed. I have listed both of the gaps on my resume with the activities I’ve done during unemployment. I address this information during interviews, as well as provide a glowing letter of recommendation given by my boss from this last elimination.

I’m wondering if I should start addressing this in my cover letter first. Should I add the information about both the layoffs to my cover letter and/or resume? I’m worried that listing both will make it seem like there is something wrong with me.

Two layoffs really isn’t a big deal. Lots of people have gotten laid off in the last decade, many of them more than twice, and it’s a pretty normal thing. You don’t need to explain it on your resume. You could mention in your cover letter that you are currently searching after a layoff at your last employer, but you don’t need to address the first layoff or feel defensive about any of it.

4. “Come in early to turn on my computer”

My wife’s boss wants her to come in early just to turn on her computer. Your thoughts?

I think you already know the answer here, which is that her boss is ridiculous.

5. We can only put eight hours a day on our time sheets, even when we work more

I’m a salaried/exempt employee in New York, and my employer has informed us that we can only put eight hours a day on our time sheets, but due to the nature of our work (construction) we typically work 10 hour days.

We’re not looking to get compensated for the hours actually worked. The question is if it’s legal for the employer to make us put less hours than actually worked in our time sheet.

Yes. They can handle time sheets however they want as long as they’re paying you correctly. There’s no legal requirement to record exempt employees’ time at all, so I’d assume they’re using your time sheets for some internal purpose that the law is unconcerned with (assuming they’re not, say, using it to defraud some other entity).

(If you were non-exempt, this whole answer would be different. The exempt part here is what’s relevant to your situation.)

{ 281 comments… read them below }

  1. jhhj*

    #4 — is it “come in early to turn on my computer” or is it “I would like to change your work hours so you are there to set up my day for me including turning my computer on”? (Why not just leave the computer on overnight?)

    1. nicolefromqueens*

      Yes, I think this needs more context.

      How much earlier? Five minutes? Maybe. Two hours? hell no.
      How often? Daily – nah. Once a week? meh. Just once? k whatever.
      Why? So IT can do a remote upgrade? understandable. Because it’s slow to start up?
      Whose computer, anyway? OP’S wife or the boss?

      I’m way more interested in this than I should be. right?

      1. AMD*

        That is what confused me – is it “I can’t figure out how to turn on my computer, come in early to help me?” Or is it “Come in a few minutes before your shift starts so you can have your computer and phone on at 8am sharp?”

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          Exactly. Log-off, turn your monitor off and go home for the day. Come back in, turn the monitor on and log back in.

      2. Snowglobe*

        It depends how early. If it’s 10 minutes early because it takes 10 minutes to boot up the computer, and the employee needs to be ready to go at 9:00 a.m., that may actually make sense. But it is really strange that there wasn’t any more context included in the question. Has me wondering also.

            1. soitgoes*

              If the employer starts mandating a strict 8:50 am (or equivalent specific 10-minutes-before-opening) arrival time, doesn’t exempt status go out the window?

    2. BRR*

      This was discussed in the last post (what surprised you most), some people just want to be heard. If the op cares to shed more light on this I’m sure we’d be happy to provide our thoughts on how to address the situation

    3. Mostly Sarcasm*

      It sounds like maybe the computer takes a while to boot so maybe she can’t start being productive for some amount of time like 15-20 mins.

      This sort of thing is not the employee’s problem however.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Well, it’s the employee’s problem if it becomes part of her job. The employer can define the job however they want. The employee can decide it’s ridiculous, certainly, but the manager does have the prerogative to say “I need you to start doing this silly thing.”

    4. charlotte*

      I actually had experience asking someone who was already in the office earlier to turn on the computer for me. My computer takes a while to startup and logging in (~10min) and after that it would take a while before everything is loaded. I could understand why the boss would like someone to turn on her computer because it saves quite a fair bit of time and when she’s in the office, she could start working straight away, especially when what involves are heavy duty work like large data files etc. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the op to come to office and help her boss to turn on the computer, provided that it’s within her working hours. E.g. if she starts at 9am and her boss normally comes in at 930am, I don’t see why not she couldn’t help. If, on the other hand, she starts work at 9am and her boss wants her to come in at 830am to turn on the computer, then I see this as a problem and she might want to discuss her working time with her boss on that.

      If it’s within her working hours, I don’t See a problem.

      1. MK*

        The OP clearly says that the boss wants the wife to come in early. I don’t think any sane person would ask AAM about being asked to turn on the boss’ computer when she comes in at her usual time.

      2. Student*

        Just a genearl heads-up on computers that are slow to start.

        Buy an SSD hard drive. They boot up really, really fast. They’re smaller than traditional HDD hard drives for the same price, but so much faster.

        If you really need the multiple TB of space that you can buy cheaply on HDD, then just buy a second hard drive. Install your operating system on the SSD, along with programs that you use a lot and want to be very fast. Install stuff that takes lots of space on the HDD, and store your terabytes of pictures/movies there.

        1. Cherry Scary*

          If it’s a company-owned computer, swapping hard drives is probably not an option. Most places keep their computers on a tight lock-down.

    5. Penguin*

      Interesting, I read this differently from most replies- that the OP’s wife is asked to come in to turn her own computer, not the boss’. Having worked in various call centers for many years, it is standard policy that you need to be ready to work at your start time. So if you start at, say, 8am, you in fact need to be in the office a few minutes before so you can take off your coat, turn on your computer, and put on your headset, to be ready to take your first call at exactly 8.00.00

      1. Chriama*

        I hear that’s been a legal issue in recent years that you need to be paid for that time though. Not that call centres are really the best example of good (or in this case, legally required) employer behavior, so I’m not surprised.

        1. Artemesia*

          I thought there was a recent SC case that found that employees did NOT need to be paid for the time they spent suiting up or preparing to leave.

          1. StarGeezer*

            It depends on the amount of time spent doing the “prep work”, its regularity, and on how integral the prep work is to the employees’ jobs.

            The US Supreme Court found that time in security screenings was not compensable. Amazon showed that the screenings took ~90 seconds and the task of going through a screening was ruled not integral to the employees’ work.

            In another case, a call center firm was fined and forced to give employees backpay for prep work. It apparently took around 30 minutes to boot their computers, log into the system, and get to the point they could clock in. In this case, it looks like the employer failed all three tests: the time was considerable (~30 minutes), regular (every day), and integral to the work (you need the computer system up and running to do your job).


            1. nicolefromqueens*

              Last year I worked PT seasonal post event housekeeping. Dozens of people cleaning up after tens of thousands of fans in a 4-step process after every event. Obviously, hourly, non-exempt.

              We all started at the same time, so everyone had to check in at the same time. And because it’s a baseball stadium, security checked every employee every shift, metal detectors on the way in, bag checks coming and going. The actual security checkpoint for each employee was about 30 seconds tops, but multiply that by, oh, 60-75 (?), and that’s a lot of time.

              Because of the check-in computer’s limitations and location, there was no way we could start the check in process before a set time, which was 1/2 hour before the post time. We started getting paid at post time, regardless of exactly what time we checked in. Obviously people started lining up before check-in time. Because I was in the first group to start I was supposed to start working immediately at post time, which required a 5+ minute setup process. So rolling in after almost everyone else was not an option for me.

              Basically, if I didn’t want to be chewed out for not starting at exactly 11:30pm, I had to get there at 10:45 the latest. 45 minutes of unpaid time, so I can do about 6 minutes of security checkpoint and preparation.

            2. Stranger than fiction*

              Yep in my area several restaurants have had class action lawsuits for requiring food servers to come in early to get their stations ready but didn’t pay them for that time

          2. random person*

            It hinged on whether the extra time was for functions necessary to the job or not. Something like suiting up for hazardous work, or starting up equipment for the day, would be necessary and would need to be paid. At issue in the case was employees having to stand in line to be checked for shoplifted merchandise after clocking out, which the SC ruled was *not* part of their job performance so it could be required but unpaid.

            1. John B Public*

              This is why I disagree with the supreme court’s ruling: if the job requires it, they should pay for it. And if they don’t pay, I shouldn’t have to do it.

              1. Cordelia Naismith*

                Yes, exactly. If your boss requires you to do it, then it is necessary to the job.

        2. INTP*

          In California, I believe it’s been found that you do have to pay employees for that time. Many class action lawsuits over this. I don’t understand the rationale for companies being able to not pay for that time – the employee is required to be in the office, performing tasks – but non-California employment law often seems frighteningly unfair to me in general.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        OH! OP, can you clarify whether this is the boss’s computer or the wife’s computer? It gets a lot more reasonable if it’s the wife’s computer (but if she’s non-exempt, she needs to be paid for the time; if she’s exempt, she doesn’t).

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I just received an email back from the OP (I had asked him to clarify). He says: “Her boss asked her to come in early to turn on her compute r(the computer her boss uses) and turn on the lights. After that, my wife goes to her own office and starts her workday.”

          1. Vicki*

            How “early” do you need to be to turn on the lights and a computer).

            Re the computer, the boss sounds like a controlling nut; the the lights, that’s easy for the first person in the office to do.

          2. jhhj*

            So it sounds like the boss wants the OP’s wife to change her work hours so that she starts before the boss and can set up the office. This seems totally fine, assuming that the end of the day work hours are also changed. Bet that’s a bad assumption, though.

      3. Elizabeth7*

        That’s what I read, too. I’ve had to ask staff to be in their chairs ready to work at their start time rather than running in the door. I’m normally not a slave driver but have two receptionists who need to answer busy phones and buzz visitors in.

      4. Koko*

        That’s exactly what I read this as. Employee wants to walk through the door at start time and spend some amount of minutes getting situated, but boss wants employee to arrive early enough to begin processing work at start time.

    6. INTP*

      Yes – I can’t figure out from the wording if it is even the boss’ or wife’s computer.

      I have a hunch that this might refer to the controversial practice of requiring employees to be present early enough before their paid shift begins that they can have their computer fully started up and operational. I.E. if your workday starts at 8am, you need to be in at 7:45 so that your computer can be on, updated, and you can be in your seat ready to go when the clock strikes 8. Obviously it’s legal to ask employees to come in 15 minutes early, but in California employers have gotten in trouble for not paying them during that time.

      On the other hand, if the employee is expected to come in early for no reason other than to press the power button on the boss’ computer, that’s ridiculous. Maybe a little less ridiculous if the employee is personal assistant or executive assistant to the boss, but still ridiculous that someone who can’t figure out how to turn on a computer for herself is holding a job using one.

  2. Stephanie*

    #2: If you think about it, your company has also paid for the software licenses, work space, etc, so it would follow that they owned the work.

    Also, your company probably has the resources, personnel (or has the means to hire them), and time to pursue and/or defend copyrights or trademarks (IP attorneys or agents aren’t cheap and IP cases can take a very long time). In that case, it might be advantageous for them to own the lion’s share of the work.

    I’ve heard some commenters mention their companies won’t own anything that isn’t relevant to the company. Maybe you have something like this? I’d check any agreements you signed at the start of employment.

    #4: I’m reading this as the boss needs help turning her computer on. Maybe the boss isn’t the most technologically savvy? But even then, still seems like the wife should help her learn to turn on the computer independently.

    If it’s the wife herself, I got nothing.

    #5: I did this at OldJob where we were federal contractors. I usually worked more than 8 hours a day, but put down 8. (I was exempt.) I just assuming it was for billing/contract purposes.

    1. nicolefromqueens*

      My coworker is 88 years old and can barely use a computer. Even she can turn it on. It’s just a button.

      1. fposte*

        I was wondering if this was one of those non-exempt situations where the boss wanted the OP’s wife in before clocking in in order to turn on her computer so it would be up and running when she clocked in. If so, not cool and also illegal, boss.

        1. Jaune Desprez*

          This was the way I read it too.

          I recently did some part-time work for a large state organization. I was paid hourly for the work and I clocked in through my work computer. The problem I ran into was that, at least once or twice a week, I would turn on the computer and get a “NOW INSTALLING 1 of 142 UPDATES” message, at which point I would have nothing to do for seven or eight minutes but swear at the computer and at the IT departments of large state organizations. I wasn’t being paid for this time because I hadn’t yet been able to clock in, and although it wasn’t a position for which punctuality was important, I was also officially “late” each time it occurred.

        2. reader*

          That’s how I read it, too. I used to work in a call center that made us arrive 30-45 minutes early (unpaid) to get our antique computers ready to go.

        3. Nashira*

          People in my office, all non-exempt, actually got Talked To by the client for getting in 15min early to boot up our computers, and for not putting it on our timecards. We ended up getting faster computers ahead of schedule, since they wanted us ready to start work shortly after 8am, but didn’t want to pay 1.25hr overtime every week for everyone.

          Works for me, since it meant an extra ten minutes to laze about and pet the cat at home.

        4. JB*

          I was wondering it the other way, if the boss doesn’t want exempt employees who get to work at 9 but aren’t productive until 9:15 or 9:30. That kinda sucks, but at the same time, I can see it. But in that case, I would think that the boss needs to explain it, and not to give a specific early arrival time, just make it clear that the employee needs to be able to start work right at 9 (but if they are non-exempt, then the boss had better be paying them).

      2. Sherm*

        Wow, she is really 88? I’d love to know more. That’s cool that she’s still in the workforce (or sad if it’s because she can’t make ends meet otherwise).

        1. nicolefromqueens*

          For the City. She was moved to the most menial tasks, but nothing the entire department does lacks a computer. She’s not exactly the most productive employee, but nobody else to be shown the door when someone else determines it’s time. She’s nowhere near management level though.

          I don’t know her financial situation, but we think she’s here because, where else?

      3. Marie*

        nicolefromqueens~ maybe because it is 12:26 am here in Vegas, but your comment had me tickled, as my grandmother would say. Because I am visual, I could imagine her slooowly leaning over and pressing the power button on her computer. Bless her heart! And I’m with Sherm, I hope she’s in the workforce because she’d be bored at home.

        1. the gold digger*

          There is a man who is over 90 years old who works at my hardware store. He is their glazier – has been doing it for 40 years, since he lost his factory job. He only works a few hours a week now, just because he likes doing something useful and being around people.

          I want to be that guy when I am 90.

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            My grandfather did that, too. He was an accountant, retired at 65, found it boring, and went back to work, worked until his early 90s. He was only working four hours a week or so when he finally “retired” for real (he drove to work, yikes!). He liked being around people and feeling useful. My dad (late 70s) is retired, but he’s the same way, so does a ton of volunteering.

          2. Algae*

            That was my grandad – he was the oldest person in his HVAC licensure class a couple of years ago when he was 80. He was mostly doing just a few things a week and helping out friends (and ordering our oddly-sized furnace filters for us), but just liked keeping busy.

          3. ECH*

            My dad retired at 84 from running a college chemistry stockroom because he was losing his sight. Cool that he was able to work for so long though!

          4. Cruella DaBoss*

            The fellow that took care of our septic system a few months back was in his 80’s. The grandson now owns the family business, but Gramps did most of the work! The grandson said that he won’t let anyone else do it for him. He said that despite being “retired”, his grandfather still goes with him on all the jobs. That man was a sharp as a tack, and surprisingly strong. “How do you think that I stay that way” he asked me, with a wink.

      4. JB*

        I once did volunteer work at a nonprofit and the older woman I who supervised me told me that when I left for the day, I was in no circumstances to turn off the monitor, because that would cause the computer to lose its data. I decided this was not a battle worth fighting and dutifully left the monitor on all the time.

        My point is that certainly the boss should be capable of turning on their own computer, but it is possible that they aren’t. There are still some people who use computers every day but really don’t understand computer basics, unfortunately.

        1. Boo*

          In my last job, there was a senior manager who would get her PA to switch her computer on for her. I’m amazed how these people hang on to their jobs and get promoted.

          1. Merry and Bright*

            I used to work for a guy who claimed he did not know how to switch on his computer, turn on the kettle or fill his stapler so staff had to do all these things for him. He was a company director.

  3. Shell*


    I’m a fiercely childfree person and I’d still find this weird. I understand the impulse, but no. It comes off as too forced and dramatic about your opinion on children. Whether you fall on the child or no child side, an interview is not the place for those opinions, it’s for proving your professional qualifications.


    Nothing but an ark-aged computer would need more than a few minutes to boot up in the morning, and your boss’s wife asking someone to do it for her is baffling. And frankly, if she really was using an ark-aged computer, then she has more problems than just the boot-up time.

    1. Zillah*

      Yeah, I agree re #1. I also think that making a point about not wanting children could backfire on the OP in two ways: first, it runs the risk of insulting people who do have children, even in a sexist environment, and second, I can see a woman who makes a point of aggressively stepping outside traditional gender roles as one of her major selling points being at even more of a disadvantage than a woman who might want a kid or two. I’m not sure I’d want a workplace where the latter was true, but the OP does seem to want to keep that option open.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Also, sexist employers won’t believe you anyway, OP #1. They’ll think that you’ll change your mind when your “biological clock” starts ringing, or as soon as you hit a particular birthday. Or that you’re lying to get the job.

        1. M-C*

          +1 In fact, bringing up the topic might let them know that you’re thinking about it, therefore clearly lying when you say you won’t have any children. Better to shut up and do the job without inflicting your thoughts about your personal life on anyone :-).

        2. SevenSixOne*

          And IF you do change your mind, you’ll become one more case study that they can point to and say “I used to know someone just like you. She always said she didn’t want kids, but then…” the next time they meet someone who says they’re not having kids.

      2. bearing*

        And if your industry is sexist and you fear that companies will discriminate against women with children or of childbearing age, you aren’t doing women in general in your industry any favor by saying, “You should hire me because I am not like those women.”

        They aren’t supposed to discriminate on this basis; and yet you are hoping to get them to discriminate on this basis, because you hope the discrimination will be in your favor.

        1. SystemsLady*

          Exactly what I was going to say.

          Whenever I hear somebody being a leader in a “women in technology”-type society and saying stuff like that (“we’re not like other girls”, “I don’t like wearing dresses” etc.) I always cringe.

        2. nona*

          Yeah, trying to use being “not like other girls” to your benefit bothers me. It comes at other women’s expense.

        3. Nonna*

          “They aren’t supposed to discriminate on this basis; and yet you are hoping to get them to discriminate on this basis, because you hope the discrimination will be in your favor.”


    2. Snowglobe*

      “Nothing but an ark-aged computer would need more than a few minutes to boot up in the morning” – not necessarily. I work in a financial institution, and we have so much security software that it takes about 10-15 minutes to boot up, log in, and get all the software loaded.

      1. Shell*

        Literally? As in, you’ve timed it with a watch and it takes 10-15 minutes??


        I…wow. I take back my statement then. I thought a boot-up time of more than four minutes (timed) was bad…

        1. M-C*

          It -is- bad. But I could see how a financial institution would have such antiquated software that it’d take so long. Contrarily to what you might hope, they’re not the most modern with the IT :-). And no doubt you’d have to reboot more often because that stuff is not just bloated but functionally borderline as well.

        2. Hlyssande*

          There’s a reason I just lock my computer when I go home at night. I don’t work in a financial institution, but on Mondays my computer can take up to 20 minutes to get everything loaded and stop lagging.

          1. Vicki*

            Also, a lot of companies want you to leave the (Windows) computers on overnight so that they can roll out software updates.

            It’s the monitor that uses most of the power, especially when the machine is just sleeping in “locked” mode.

            Where is Jamie, lately?

      2. SystemsLady*

        If for some reason her boss is running a server machine, those often normally take 15 minutes to start up as well.

        Though why the boss would have a machine designed to run constantly and shut it on and off every day is beyond me.

        1. SystemsLady*

          Well, five is still more normal, but I could see 15 being reasonable if there’s security software on there.

          1. Shell*

            Yeah, I know server machines take longer to boot, but I assumed (perhaps naively) that if the boss was running a server machine that was designed to be on, then she wouldn’t turn it off.

            1. SystemsLady*

              Yeah, that would definitely be weird (and bad for the hardware if I understand correctly).

    3. A*

      As someone who is childfree by choice and definitely will remain as such (I’m smackbang in that tick-tick-tick age and….nada) it’s really frustrating because I’m sick of being written off as a ‘breeding risk’, but there’s no way to really negate that. I feel like it’s costing me positions.

    4. Brooke*

      I had an interview in which I was asked if I had any issue with working occasional late nights or weekends, and said something along the lines of “Not a problem – I don’t have many commitments – no kids and no plans to have them” in a lighthearted manner. I KNOW I saw a hint of relief in the (female, parent) interviewer’s eye, and I got the job. Highly unlikely it was a major factor, but I firmly believe it didn’t hurt.

  4. Jessica*

    #1… Yeah, that’d be totally weird and wouldn’t differentiate you in a positive way. I do get what you’re trying to get at though because it’s super irritating that, as a woman, life choices are questioned more frequently than men. As a parent, I get the other side… the hesitation that I will never be able to balance work and being a parent. It’s frustrating for sure, but I could never put all the stuff I do in my parenting role on my cover letter and your situation seems like the other side of the coin.

  5. Matt*

    #5 This could constitute time card fraud if you’re a contractor with the federal government and subject to total time accounting. This is a big deal in my workplace.

    1. Delyssia*

      Yeah, this is what I was thinking. In my company, because we do federal contracting, the only time an exempt employee is allowed to enter only 8 hours a day (if they worked more) is if their time is 100% overhead. If any of their work is project billable, they have to accurately record all hours worked.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, but it’s very normal (and not fraudulent) in lots of other environments. (I just want to make sure that’s clear for anyone who might be confused now.)

      1. Person of Interest*

        In the nonprofit world, it’s common to use timesheets to allocate people’s time to specific grants for the purpose of reporting back to the funder, it has nothing to with actual time worked.

        1. RR*

          Re Nonprofits and allocating time to grants: Note that depending on the terms and conditions of your award, and if your organization receives ANY Federal funding, you may still need to be reporting *actual* time worked, even if you are an exempt employee, and even if you yourself do not work on Federally funded awards. It is common practice at a number of nonprofits to allocate time based on budgets and to report back to the funder, but it is also often a non-compliant practice.

      2. PEBCAK*

        Can you give an example? I find this really surprising, and feel like it would have unemployment implications.

        1. HR Shenanigans*

          I work for an engineering firm. All but 1 of our employees are exempt yet everyone tracks their time on a timesheet for PTO and time-to-project tracking purposes. We don’t cap it at 8 hours except for travel days (a whole different conversation).

          Generally we don’t bill by the hour but use the time per type of project to estimate total time for future projects and to go back and compare against old projects.

    3. Clever Name*

      And if the work is contract work that gets paid by the billable hour, the company is denying themselves revenue (even if the employee doesn’t see it, which I think is wrong) if an employee works 10 hours but only bills 8.

  6. Cautionary tail*

    I used to work for a company that frowned on people leaving before 12 hours a day, yet we were only allowed to put 8 hours a day on timesheets. This was merely one of many symptoms of a poisonous company culture and I could go on for a long time about all the problems. I would assume there’s a lot more here than OP5 is sharing. OP, please let us know.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Were you non-exempt and only being paid for 8 of the 12 hours you worked? If so, that’s illegal and hugely problematic. But otherwise, this is actually not uncommon and it’s not an attempt to deceive anyone; it’s just the way some systems are set up to work (for instance, for allocating budget to various internal projects).

  7. Jen RO*

    Related to #1, I had a very weird interview question a while back. The hiring manager asked me about my future plans, so I talked about how I wanted to learn the product, etc. No no, she wanted “the plans for my *personal* life”. Uhm… travel I guess? “Oh, travel alone?” No, with my boyfriend. “Oh, are you getting married?” No plans yet! “Anything else you plan to do?” Uhm…

    It took days until it occurred to me that she was asking if I planned to have children. I never saw my future as including kids, so they were the furthest thing from my mind!

    So, to answer you, OP, in this situation you probably could have brought it up and this particular hiring manager would have been happy. Otherwise, it would veer into TMI territory. I *am* childfree and I would be pretty confused if someone I interviewed told me that she didn’t want kids… I would feel accused of discrimination.

    1. Shell*

      I wonder if interviewers who do the roundabout like yours would respond well to a confused/pointed “are you asking about something in particular? Because I’m a little confused by this train of thought.”

      (Probably not, I’d wager.)

    2. Boo*

      Ha! Yeah I remember the interview for my second job, where the boss asked me what my future plans were and I had no idea what she meant (I was only 18 so had given it zero thought) she danced around it a bit before coming out and asking if I wanted to get married and have kids. I laughed it off at the time, being very young, but looking back it was a red flag for a terrible boss. Plus, totally weird question for a teenager in the UK.

    3. AGH*

      I had something similar happen as well! I am married and childfree. My interviewer started asking questions about what I did in my spare time (nothing too weird there) and then, just straight up said “so, what do you do in the community with your children?” It was VERY WTF! I felt awkward explaining that kids weren’t part of my life plan.

      I didn’t get the job.

      1. some1*

        Yes, some people can’t imagine that there are people who don’t want children, and they see parents as being more stable or mature.

    4. INTP*

      So weird! And also disgusting that they intentionally plan to discriminate based on the possibility of children.

      To add to the list of strategies under this thread, I have also heard of interviewers deliberately putting out pictures of their kids (or someone’s kids) in your view, in hopes that you would start a conversation about them and then bring up your own kids.

      Agree with Alison and most of the commenters that this is just TMI to bring up and would make a normal ethical person very uncomfortable. At the most, if someone asks about your availability for late work and overtime, you can say something like “That’s no problem, I have no time-sensitive responsibilities in the evening.” To me, someone announcing “By the way, I don’t plan to have kids ever!” would be like reading “I’m white and heterosexual” on a resume – an obvious effort to benefit from illegal discrimination is just sketchy.

  8. Anon for this*

    #4 I worked for a call center that required the non-exempt reps to start taking calls at their scheduled time but the reps didn’t have a way to clock in other than making themselves available to a call. The overwhelming majority would come in 5-10 minutes early, turn on their computers, and pull up their systems. These programs were required to do their work so they needed to be up and ready before they signed in to take a call. They were not being paid for the time it took to load systems as the way their paid hours was recorded was by the phone. Someone reported it to the department of labor. There were big fines and a way to clock in to be paid for the time it takes to pull up the computers was developed.

    Which finally brings me to my point: if she’s non-exempt and they are asking her to pull up her computer without being paid for those few minutes, the company can get in trouble even if it’s just a few of minutes.

    1. CreationEdge*

      Typically not. Companies are allowed to round pay to standard amounts, usually either 6, 10, or 15 minute increments.

      As long as they round fairly, it’s allowed. So, if the go by the quarter hour, you can be doing work-related activity up to 7 minutes before your shift, and that extra time gets rounded down to 0.

      To be considered fair, it means that if you go over 8 minutes, they have to round up to an extra 15.

      Modern payroll systems, like ADP, have such rounding ability standard.

      1. Elysian*

        But if your time recording system is on the computer you need to boot up, the company will never know how many minutes it is and will never pay you no matter how many minutes it took. What Anon describes isn’t a rounding problem, its a problem with not being paid for all work performed, and that’s why the Department of Labor stepped in.

  9. EngineerGirl*

    #5 The employer is foolish. They aren’t recording the actual time it takes to complete a project. That means that they have no idea how long any project takes and makes it impossible to bid accurately for a job. Recording less time than it takes means that they will underbid a project. If it is a fixed price contract they will lose money on it.

    1. Chriama*

      It depends on if they have other project management controls. The time sheets could just be a way of making sure the exempt employees get paid and have sick or vacation time deducted and/or accrued correctly. If these projects have PMs, there’s probably another system to track hours worked and project progress anyway.

      1. neverjaunty*

        But if that’s the case, can’t they explain that to OP #5? It seems strange that they would just order something unusual without explaining why – and in the context of this particularly industry (construction) that’s not a usual practice at all.

        OP #5, have you asked why the company wants you to record hours this way? If you get anything other than a plausible-sounding response, that’s a red flag. And if you are worried that you will get in trouble even for asking, or if you get a hostile brush-off, those are HUGE red flags.

    2. Clever Name*

      Exactly. We have been told that we have to record all time spent on a project, even when we have to record that time as “nonbillable” because there is no money left. Employees have gotten in trouble for hiding time spent on a project as training or whatever because it means that the PMs don’t know how long stuff really takes.

  10. Angela*

    For number 5, I’m wondering if it’s an issue with their payroll system. We actually pay exempt people from the hours they enter into their timesheet. After the hours are exported from the timesheet system but before they are uploaded to process the pay, we have a payroll specialist that goes down the list and manually changes any exempt who is over 80 hours (two weeks) to only get paid for 80 hours since that will equal out to their salary. So their timesheet and that reporting will show the actual worked hours but it’s a manual process to only pay for the correct amount of time. I could see an employer with a similar system that would want to eliminate the possibility of over paying by telling employees to only put 8 hours.

    1. Samantha*

      Yes, this is the way it worked at my former employer as well. It never bothered me to record fewer hours than I actually worked because as an exempt employee I knew I wouldn’t be paid more for those hours. Non exempt employees used a time clock.

  11. Marzipan*

    #1, in addition to the good points others have already made, I think doing what you propose risks alienating employers who are genuinely family-friendly. It’s like you’re saying ‘I know you’d like to break the law if you *could*, wink wink’ – it carries with it the assumption that those employers must be acting in bad faith towards women of childbearing age, which isn’t likely to make them feel especially positive about you if that’s not the case.

    When I’m shortlisting or interviewing candidates, the thought that I shouldn’t hire a woman in case she later decides to start a family has literally never crossed my mind, or come up in conversation with any of my colleagues. I know there will be workplaces where that isn’t the case, and I get that you’ve said yours is a particularly sexist field, but it’s not universally something all employers do (or would want to do). And from that perspective, the implication that the people responsible for hiring all secretly want to discriminate really, and are only paying lip service to treating candidates equally… Well, it’s prickly, and a bit rude, and it implies you have a pretty low opinion of the organisation you’re applying to. And, if you think other people are all secretly out to circumvent the law, why would I be left with the impression that you yourself are someone who respects laws and rules? Why doors that make you sound like someone I’d want to hire?

    The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women isn’t the fact that those women might possibly one day have babies. The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women is sexism. Theoretical future babies are sometimes an excuse to justify that sexism, but they aren’t the cause of it.

    So basically, doing this wouldn’t make a dent in the sexism of sexist people, but could actively put off non-sexist people. I don’t think it’s a good move.

    1. MK*

      I completely agree. I see most commenters focusing on how this could alienate potential good employers, but the other side of this is that it wouldn’t be effective with sexist ones.

      Here the thing OP, sexist employers are not unlucky organizations who have had their operations so disrupted by women having children that they are hesitant to hire them; they are companies comprised of people who think women’s place is either as housewifes or working support roles. They use the whole “women leave to have children” argument because they want to give their disciminatory practices a semlblance of neutral logic, trying to say “It’s not that we think women are inferior! It’s just that employing women is so difficult from a practical point of view!”. Your assertion that you do not want children will not make them more likely to hire you (in fact, you might come across as a militant feminist to the more conservative ones), because the real problem is not you leaving to have children, it’s your gender in itself.

      Also, if you are still quite young and the hiring managers older, they quite likely won’t place much weight in your assertion, not because they don’t believe you mean what you say, but because they know people’s views in those matters change with age. There are many people who didn’t want children in their 20s, but wanted them in their 30s, as there are people who “always” wanted to have them until the time came to actually do so.

      Finally not having children does not equal a person dedicated to their work. If you are in a competitive field and you want to convey that your career is your number one priority and you are willing to devote yourself to work, find a positive way to get this across, rather than simply saying “I am not going to have other distractions in my life”.

      1. LBK*

        I do think there are actually employer who have gotten gunshy after losing a lot of women to maternity leave/having children and deciding not to come back after. But the reaction should be to adapt your workforce to be able to handle it (better documentation and cross training, find a good temp agency you can pull from, foster an environment where women feel comfortable being upfront about their intentions when it comes to mat leave and beyond), not to just stop hiring women.

        1. EEE*

          yes! and to make things easier for women who want to return to work but are having difficulty, like flex hours or telecommuting, or starting off with fewer hours per week. Also, allowing paternity leave so that it’s not just women who take off time for children! (although that last one is most effective when every company does it)

          1. SystemsLady*

            I wish companies and states were as even with their paternity leave as US federal law is. A lot of people don’t seem to know that, federally, the requirements are equal…although what’s required federally is pretty paltry.

            I actually work in an industry where most of the married women with children I’ve met have husbands who stay home. I think it’s one of the things that comes with being in an understaffed ( = pays pretty well) niche field and a more even than you’d assume gender split.

        2. neverjaunty*

          A lot of those employers may be losing pregnant women precisely because of how those employees are treated. If a company makes it clear that it only gives leave if it has to and then not so subtly puts women on the “mommy track” when they return, it shouldn’t be surprised when women don’t come back from leave. (And some of those employees are moving to other companies, not actually becoming stay-at-home moms).

          Also, all of the +1s to the comment up thread.

          1. LBK*

            Yup. And women may wait until the last possible minute to announce their pregnancy and request mat leave for fear of being pushed out or cut out of important work, which ends up shooting the company in the foot because it reduces the amount of time they have to create a transition plan.

          2. Is it Performance Art*

            Yeah, I’ve seen that happen in the sciences a lot. It’s more socially acceptable to say “I’m leaving to stay home for a year with my baby” than to be honest and say you’re sick of having to be three times as good as the dude the next bench over to get the same recognition and the idea that 70 hour workweeks are the bare minimum. It also gives you a great explanation for switching industries without seeming like a quitter or a failure to your science colleagues.

        3. Darn Bear*

          We’ve had 2 women in highly specialized roles take a year off for maternity, come back pregnant, then take another year. We are a small team, these roles are near impossible to fill on a temp basis (think ‘expert in global teapot handle policy’), and funders were burned. My director doesn’t hire women for specialized roles anymore. As a childfree woman, and the only one in a specialized role on my team, I can’t say I really blame him.

          1. LBK*

            Wow. I hope no one ever gets wind of this because that is completely illegal if you have enough employees to fall under EEOC laws.

            1. LBK*

              And as a follow up, what would happen if a man left to take care of a child? God forbid someone decide to be a SAHF. Just wrong on so many levels.

              1. LBK*

                Or if a man had a medical issue that required a long leave or a family problem that required moving on short notice or…ugh, just so many reasons that policy makes no sense at all. Anyone can leave at any time, pregnancy is not some unique condition that requires special precautions to avoid.

            2. INTP*

              I’m assuming they aren’t in the US because if they were, they could have replaced the women for taking a year of leave as that exceeds the FMLA allowance. Limiting maternity leave would make more sense than just never hiring women.

          2. Zillah*

            This is a really gross comment. Frankly, I thought better of AAM readers than to espouse this sort of bs – but I guess there are duds everywhere.

          3. neverjaunty*

            You realize that if your director had this crappy policy in place before you got hired, you wouldn’t have a job there?

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Well, that’s horrifying and disgusting (and also illegal). But since this is from a brand new commenter, I’m going to assume this is trolling and ask that we treat it as such (i.e., don’t engage).

            1. Darn Bear*

              I apologize, Alison – trolling is definitely not my intention, and I’m a long time reader of AAM because the comment quality is high. This is the reality of my job, and it’s deeply frustrating to see my female colleagues abandon projects when their male counterparts don’t, even those with kids. This is what OP is facing. My point is, it’s not as simple as “the employer is a moustache twirling sexist”.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I apologize for thinking you were a troll! “I can’t blame my employer for not hiring women” is a pretty inflammatory thing to say. I agree with you that what you’ve seen can be frustrating, but surely you know that it doesn’t apply to all women, or even most of them, right? And that men too end up taking time off for health and other issues, not returning, and so forth? It’s really too flippant to say “oh, this is what women do.” It’s not accurate, and it’s really not wise (or legal!).

                1. Darn Bear*

                  Fair enough, and I apologize again! Let’s revise to: I get frustrated working in a male-dominated environment where I have to fight to be taken seriously, and that frustration spills over to uncharitable (and admittedly unfair) thoughts about co-workers who take extensive maternity leave because of the effect it’s had on the perception of women in this workplace. Thus there are even fewer women here, and an even steeper uphill battle for the few women left in this field. Is that fair? No, I agree that it’s not. Does it happen more than we care to admit? I suspect it does, which is at the root of OP1’s concern. People aren’t saying “we don’t hire women”, but they just… don’t. It’s enough to make one a grumpy internet commentator.

                  If OP were applying for a job where this was a concern, I’d advise her to talk about where she sees her career going in the next 5-10 years. Show that you really care about the work, and intend to stick around. That might cut through the gun-shy aspect someone mentioned above. It’s not really about having or not having kids – the employer just wants to know that you’ll take the job seriously and see it through.

                2. Darn Bear*

                  Hey Alison, I recognize that my original comment was not cool or helpful, and is just distracting from more useful conversation. Please feel free to nuke it entirely.

                3. MsM*

                  I can’t help but wonder if taking a step back from the work allows these women to say, “Wow, what I’ve been going through is not okay, I am really sick of this crap, and I don’t want to deal with it any more.”

                4. neverjaunty*

                  @MsM: exactly. Someone upthread commented that ‘oh, I just want to take a break to be with my baby’ is far less likely to lead to bad references and backlash than honestly saying ‘I’m leaving because I’m sick of the sexist work environment’ or ‘I’d prefer an employer that doesn’t wish it could replace us with robots.’

              2. MK*

                Are you saying your male colleagues never abandon projects or leave for reasons of their own? Your boss (and, quite frankly, you) is a “moustache twirling sexist”, because when a man leaves the company in a lurch he thinks “That guy was unprofessional”, while when a woman does it to have children, he goes “All women are unprofessional when they have children. I am never hiring another (potential) mother again”.

                The solution here, if your boss wasn’t sexist, is not to discriminate against women; it’s to hire better, perhaps look for more career driven people, since your environment seems to be family-unfriendly.

                1. Sigrid*

                  Your boss (and, quite frankly, you) is a “moustache twirling sexist”, because when a man leaves the company in a lurch he thinks “That guy was unprofessional”, while when a woman does it to have children, he goes “All women are unprofessional when they have children. I am never hiring another (potential) mother again”.

                  +1000 That’s exactly the problem women face in the working world.

          5. Clever Name*

            Please tell us where you work. So we can never work there or donate money. I am appalled. Shame on you.

          6. River*

            Well, you and your director are awful human beings! I hope your company gets sued to hell and back one of these days.

            1. Darn Bear*

              I don’t think you’re looking for a response here, but here’s an honest one. The anger that my comment provoked is a good wake-up call for me. I’ve worked in a sexist environment so long that I seem to have absorbed an attitude that is pretty gross to the wider world. It’s easy to get into echo chamber mode – 10 years ago, I would have been entirely on team equal hiring and mat leave. That it’s gotten to a point where strangers are calling me an awful human being is a bit painful, but I get where you’re coming from. We would both like to see women treated equally in the workplace, but I’ve been directing my anger towards the wrong people. Fair to say? I will start actively trying to push back against these attitudes instead of internalizing them.

              1. Laurel Gray*

                Darn Bear, push back! Women deserve to be treated equally in the work place. The men with kids who haven’t left your workplace most likely have a wife at home who abandoned hers to raise the kids. It’s something that happens and usually impacts women the most. Still – we deserve equality in the workplace the same way we get it in our homes with our partners. Also, having children isn’tt he only event that can make a colleague abandon a project. Illness could do the same thing and no sex is exempt from it.

              2. Connie-Lynne*

                It’s so frustrating, and it is easy to absorb the whole, “you’re not like _those_ women” attitude, just as a way to feel some self-worth when surrounded by censure.

                Thanks for owning it and re-thinking it, Darn Bear.

              3. TheLazyB*

                Really impressed with your response there. Thank you for taking people’s comments seriously.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              River, hey. I disagreed strongly with Darn Bear’s comment myself (to the point of mistakenly thinking she was trolling!) but I want to ask you to disagree civilly here. This kind of comment is outside the tone I want have here.

          7. some1*

            So if your company had to lay someone off, do you think it should be you? After all, you must have a husband or father to support you, right?

          8. aebhel*

            I’m curious–is he willing to hire women who already have children? Or women who are past childbearing age?

            I just…this is so ridiculous that I can’t get over it, and the fact that you think it’s okay is pretty appalling. My husband’s job (a small company) has had at least five skilled people quit with next to no notice since he’s been there; it’s been very difficult for them to handle that as a company, and a lot of people have had to work a lot of overtime to make up for their work.

            All these people were men. Now, do you think it would be reasonable for his employer to go, “well, clearly men are unreliable, we just won’t hire them?” Probably not. Because when a man does something like that, he’s just an individual being a jerk. When a woman does, she’s representing all of womankind.

        4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I’ve posted my Long Thing about how we work with maternity leaves and family at least a few times before, but it’s been awhile so I’ll guess I’m not boring people to bring it up again.

          We worked hard to be able to adapt to the important life events that happen to our people and it’s now a competitive advantage for us, not just in attracting and retaining employees, but against competition because we have such a solid core group of competence and knowledge.

          People who need flexibility **don’t leave** if you give it to them. People who anticipate needing flexibility (I’d like to start a family in a few years) **don’t leave** because they realize that they are working in an environment that will support that. Our voluntary turnover is ridiculously low.

          As soon as I say this I will jinx myself but, I can’t think of the last time we had a performance problem or stability issue with a returning mother. If anything, they are more focused on work while they are at work than they were previously. (Or not, anecdotal, but point being – not an issue.)

          Sometimes we have to put our thinking caps on. Our most recent return from maternity requested a 2 day a week schedule. That’s low. We almost turned her down but, brain brain brain. Highly competent, hard working, so brain brain brain. We said yes without a job formed and it didn’t take but two weeks back for us to have her 2 days filled with a job that could be contained within that 2 days. (That’s the hardest part of this flexibility, making sure you form a job that person can complete with out leaking over to cause problems for people “filling in” on the other days.)

          I’ll put my folks and our company up against competitors who deal with brain drain from revolving door 2 to 3 year stay employees all day long. Our folks are way better, our service is way better.

          1. Shell*

            So I must’ve missed all the times you’ve mentioned your company’s employee retention plan, but now I’m curious. In the scenarios where it isn’t possible to move the employee to a lateral position with those limited hours (i.e. their original job couldn’t be shrunk down to two days a week, and there were no positions in an equivalent pay scale/job responsibilities that could be shrunk down), were they okay with effectively taking a demotion/less pay so they could get their flexible schedules? I think the law is to guarantee the parent would have their job (or equivalent job) when they come back from leave, so if the parent wants to reduce their hours there’s no guarantee they could do it at the same job level/money/responsibility. But I’m curious if you’ve received pushback for an effective demotion, or if you’ve came up with creative ways of circumventing that.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              We’re able to prorate their previous salary to the reduced schedule, so the finances haven’t been an issue for us.

              It’s management’s job to craft a job that has the same value to the company as had previously, but it’s not as hard as it sounds when you’re looking an employee with years of experience.

              The employee who went 2 days a week had previously expedited orders with supplier. The same job wouldn’t work because it needs to be five days a week (for consistency, it would be too much to hand off on such a short schedule) but it didn’t take long for us to realize that we needed to peel obtaining supplier agreements & pricing from another employee and *ta da* here was the perfect person to do the job. Not only did she have the skill sets, but she already had the supplier relationships, and it was the kind of job that could be done 2 days a week without taxing other people for coverage the other three days.

              Somebody else went from being an account rep (they need to be 5 days a week) to creating and managing our account retention system 3 days a week. We literally got an account retention system out of that, sorely needed, because we had to brain how to use this valuable person effectively in just 3 days a week.

              I could write out a bunch of examples. The other thing that is fun that we’ve done this long enough, we get the “okay, I want to go back to full time now” and the delight of getting even more of them is great.

          2. SystemsLady*


            I would be quitting my job and finding a new one coming up very soon (due to my husband being in the military, so it’s somewhat along the same lines) were it not for my company proactively offering me the option to work remotely half of the year.

            They want me to keep working there, and I personally want the option to not have to live on base while the husband is gone (which I’d have to do if I got a job over there), so it works out great for both of us! We’ve also recently had a massive increase in the type of work that can be done remotely.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              That’s great for both of you. We’ve had a couple of terrific people relocate for non kids reasons and we’ve been able to retain them Just a bit “one size does not fit all” thinking makes a difference.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        So true about people not taking that assertion seriously. I’m not doubting your resolve, but if I, at the late part of possible child bearing years, look back on friends from my early 20s, there is a lot of variation between what people adamantly said they wanted (kids or no kids) and what they actually have. A lot.

      3. INTP*

        I don’t know that I agree. I definitely think sexism is at the root of it in any case. However, I’ve had coworkers who had formerly worked for orgs that discriminated against mothers, and they were happy to hire ambitious women who had no children or plans for them. They just didn’t want their employees to have any priorities above work so that they could be demanding and unreasonable with the schedule. They didn’t want anyone with an excuse to skip a last minute business trip or go home before 9pm if the boss decided they needed to stay late.

        There was definitely sexism in the conventional thinking assumption that mothers would be the ones who had to pick up the kids from daycare and care for them on weekends, and that hiring fathers didn’t present that risk. It was also a stupid hiring practice because by not describing the expectations, they risk hiring people who couldn’t meet them – dads can be primary caregivers and single, childless people can have a million reasons not to work demanding schedules. But it wasn’t a social conservative agenda, it was just gender-based assumptions about family responsibilities. The OP probably could have had a good shot at a job by hinting at her lack of family responsibilities.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Does it really matter whether the sexism comes from a ‘social conservative agenda’ vs. plain old sexism?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            INTP was responding to the assertion up-thread that it’s not really about caring about their child-bearing plans but just believing that women don’t belong in those roles.

          2. INTP*

            On a moral level, no. On a practical level for the OP, yes. The comment I’m responding to said that it would not help her be hired because employers discriminating against mothers think women should be in the home or support roles, women are inferior, they will think she’s a militant feminist if she doesn’t want kids, etc. If the org has nothing against working women, women who are not maternal, etc, and simply doesn’t want anyone with an excuse to leave work at a reasonable hour, it probably would help her get hired if she can make it known in a subtle enough manner (even orgs that engage in illegal practices need to hire employees that can be hush-hush about it and not come across as all loud and clueless about it). Not that she should seek to get hired by such an org, but maybe she does want to.

            1. neverjaunty*

              Oh, I see. I still don’t know that would necessarily make a difference – because ‘secular’ sexists can and do assume that OP will simply change her mind when she hits a certain age/meets the right guy/her “biological clock” starts ticking/whatever. Whereas a company that genuinely doesn’t care about the gender or skin color of the people it works to death just wants to know that right now it can work you to death, not that you pinky-swear never to have any reason for PTO. I mean, it would be like saying “Parents deceased” on a resume so the company knows it doesn’t have to worry about you being a caregiver.

    2. thisisit*

      “The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women isn’t the fact that those women might possibly one day have babies. The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women is sexism.”


    3. Zillah*

      The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women isn’t the fact that those women might possibly one day have babies. The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women is sexism.

      This, times a thousand.

    4. INTP*

      I agree. Even if family friendliness isn’t a big part of their culture, but they pride themselves on being ethical and legal.

      While I understand the impulse to work every trait to your advantage, and I am not saying that the LW is prejudiced (I think it’s more likely that they haven’t thought it through fully) writing that you don’t have kids on your resume or announcing it in an interview is an attempt to benefit from illegal discrimination. It says to the employer that you are happy to work for an employer that illegally discriminates, that you think there’s a significant chance that they ARE an employer that discriminates, and that you are okay with that discrimination occurring if it benefits you. It’s going to raise questions about your own integrity and whether you can be trusted to follow ethical practices in your work.

      Also, when an employer discriminates against mothers, in my experience it’s because they have very demanding hours – unpredictable travel or very long days, that kind of thing. Sometimes instead of telling candidates up front, they will just use sketchy tactics to weed out people with responsibilities that preclude that type of schedule (because if someone is single and childless, of course, they cannot have any valid reasons for not wanting to work 80 hour weeks). So unless you are really seeking out a) a schedule that demanding and b) an employer who isn’t honest enough to just explain the schedule and give candidates a chance to opt out, you don’t want to be hired by a company that would hire you for being childless anyways.

    5. TCO*

      Agreed, and I think OP might still appreciate being in a family-friendly organization even if she doesn’t plan on having kids. I don’t have kids, don’t plan on having them, and have still really valued working for family-friendly employers. It means I can have some flexibility when needing to take care of myself, my spouse, my parents… you never know when a need will arise. It’s also meant that my coworkers are happy to work there and stay for a long time because they also appreciate the family-friendly nature, whether or not they have young children. In general, such employers seem to encourage balance, using your PTO, and taking care of yourself. That’s not such a bad thing!

      1. thisisit*

        this is an important point. it’s not new mothers who might ever need large amounts of time off. aging parents will probably require a significant amount of attention in coming decades.

      2. Clever Name*

        This. My company has many part time workers. Some are moms, some are single but caring for aging parents, some are heavily involved in volunteer work, and the part timers are a mix of men and women.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        This is completely true. Handling a situation with an employee who needed flexibility to care for a spouse or parents would be little issue because we’ve gotten good at it with maternity and new parents.

    6. Katie*

      Marzipan, I love the hell out of your comment. “The thing holding sexist people back from hiring women is sexism” is so on the nose. Thank you.

  12. LondonI*

    #1 – The new shared parental leave laws in the UK will (hopefully) soon make this less of an issue for women. If a man can take 6 months off when his partner has a child then there’s not much point in an interviewer discriminating against women.

    Of course, you have said that your profession is pretty sexist, so it may take a while for shared parental leave to become common in that field.

    I don’t think your intentions about childbearing belong on your CV and I would be very hesitant to mention it in an interview. Apart from anything, if you did mention it then a truly sexist employer would think “yeah, well, she says that NOW…” while a non-sexist employer wouldn’t even be factoring it into the equation.

    1. UK HR bod*

      Sadly LondonI, I don’t think it will make much difference. The Additional Paternity Leave currently available to fathers (where the father can take say, the last 3 months if the mother returns early) hasn’t had much (if any) take up. SPL is essentially a more complex version, where parents could be off either simultaneously or consecutively, but pay is still set at statutory levels, and that seems to have been the main sticking point for a lot of men in research done. That, and the fact that many men report being concerned about the impact on their careers if they take it, which is rather sadly ironic. I think that in a sexist field, not only will SPL take a long time to bed in, but someone who is sexist will probably see the childcare as the woman’s job anyway, so it won’t make much difference. All that said, I agree with all the other comments: it would look wrong on a CV and feel odd in an interview if someone told me they weren’t planning on having kids – and I’d probably feel quite insulted, as the only reason for an interviewee to tell me that would be if they thought it was something I’d take into account.

      1. Marzipan*

        I suspect it’s likely to be a slow-burn thing. I definitely know people for whom it would have been a godsend – for example, I knew a couple where the wife was earning far more than her husband and had to go back to work almost immediately her son was born because they couldn’t afford for her only to be getting SMP, whereas they would have loved the chance to transfer the leave to him. I don’t see it getting massive take-up all at once, but I think it’ll catch on.

      2. Sarahnova*

        Fwiw, I am in the uk, and when I go back to work my husband is taking over 2 months of my remaining leave. Fully half of the couples in our NCT group have the same plan. It may be slow burn , but I think it’s burning. The men’s employers have all been fine with it so far as well.

      3. Sarahnova*

        I have to say, #1, your letter rubbed me the wrong way a bit. It sounds a bit like you’re saying, “I’m not one of THOSE women, you know, the ones who deserve to be discriminated against.” Yeah, we all gotta make rent, but be careful – and as others have said, sexist employers won’t believe you, non-sexist ones will be pretty turned off.

        1. on the other hand*

          I can understand that, for you as a new mother, her letter seemed like a personal insult. I have to say though that I don’t get that from reading her letter. She seemed much more facts based.

          But OP #1 this is the other risk in even bringing it up – that saying your CF can be interpreted as a personal insult for those with or who without question want to have children. Tread carefully …

    2. jhhj*

      My brief googling suggests that the shared leave is optionally shared between the parents, and it’s not like the locations where significant blocs of time are given only to the father — I think that Sweden (or some country) had to say “this time is for the father only, use it or lose it” before the fathers picked it up. So I’m curious to see if just the option will now work in the UK.

      1. Alis*

        I live in a country with shared leave (Canada). We can pick and choose – I went back to birth after 10 weeks, and my husband stayed on leave for 35 weeks.

        1. jhhj*

          Yes, but on the whole, in Canada, the mothers take the majority of the leave (fewer than 20% of fathers take leave). (Except in Quebec, where 5 weeks is held for the fathers only — the mothers still take the majority of the leave, but more than half of fathers take their 5 weeks.) I know this is all heteronormative; I don’t know the statistics for same-sex couples.

          Allowing leave to be shared doesn’t increase sharing that much; obliging it to be shared (via use-it-or-lose-it pat leave) does.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Yeah, when a couple I knew had their first baby, Father was totally jazzed to be able to get leave… until they found out that every week he took was subtracted from Mother’s. I think he took vacation, she took all the leave, because he was the higher earner.

    3. De (Germany)*

      In Germany, fathers can take between 2 and 12 months – both parents’ time can add up to 14 months and you get paid 65 percent of your wages.

      Only 2 percent of fathers take more than 2 months. This is unfortunately doing nothing to change employer’s existing opinions because almost no men take significant time off.

      1. TheLazyB*

        My sis lives in Germany and her DH has taken off the entire year!

        … However a) they had twins b) they also have a child 2 years older c) they have no family to help and d) here’s the kicker.. he is Irish and self-employed.

        Hey ho! At least he had the choice to do so, even if he’s an anomaly :)

  13. NYC Weez*

    #2: Regarding copyright work for hire: IANAL, so I won’t state categorically that I am currently up to speed on all the particulars, but from what I understand, there’s actually a huge gray area unless you have directly signed a work for hire agreement. Those forms have been standard at pretty much every large employer I’ve worked at in the past 20 years or so, but it’s been hit or miss at smaller companies. However, as I understood it, without the agreement in place, you would own the copyright on the exact artwork you produced, but not trademark, and not derivative executions. The example we were told about was Disney animated films back in the 50’s and 60’s. Technically the artist owned the copyright on each frame they personally drew but not a copyright on the full piece, and certainly not the right to use the characters in any other way. I say technically bc it was more semantic than practical–AFAIK none of the artists actually profited from bringing suit against Disney. In the case of OP#2, I would ask what the OP would be doing differently if they did possess the copyright. IMHO, logos tend to be so particular to the company they are designed for, there’s not much you can do with the artwork outside of that context, and if the company were to grow to the size of Nike, presumably other artists would be creating versions of the logo which would negate your copyright. Focus on being paid appropriately now for the work you are doing, and if you have concerns that you’ll be the next “Nike Swoosh” designer who sells an iconic logo for pennies, ask for a “success clause”, where if the business grows to X size, you are eligible for an additional payment of Y.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope! I can’t speak to the Disney case, but the Copyright Act defines “work for hire” as “a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment” (or some other definitions, but that’s one of the options).

      1. NYC Weez*

        It’s “generally” the case that employees work is considered work for hire, but there is still a massive gray area. The article below breaks down the conditions that have to be present, and given the OP’s situation (part-time work, owns own freelance design business) I think the OP most likely *does* fall somewhat into the gray area. Still, legal challenges are costly and time-consuming at best, so I would revert back to asking why the copyright is important to the OP in this particular case, and suggesting that the OP address those concerns more directly rather than consider legal action.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I disagree! If the work is done as part of her job, copyright law is very clear that it’s work for hire.

          If she were hired as, say, a receptionist, it might be less clear — but since she’s been hired specifically as a designer, it falls clearly in the scope of her work for them and they own the copyright.

          (This doesn’t apply to outside work she’s doing, only to the work for her employer.)

          1. NYC Weez*

            Once again, it’s essentially a moot point, bc unless you are talking about an iconic logo that has value in and of itself, there’s very little monetary value to owning the copyright to that type of work. But, as per the link I provided, while employees are generally considered as work-for-hire by their employers, there are specific conditions that must be met for that to actually be true. See under the “Agency Law” section of the link. This is why all the large companies I worked for simply made all employees sign express written agreements that work produced was work-for-hire. A signed agreement circumvents all of the gray areas.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              That section is actually talking about how to determine whether someone is an employee of the company (and thus indeed creating work for hire) — assuming that the OP is indeed an employee and not a contractor (and it sounds like that’s the case), that section is affirming that she is indeed creating works for hire!

              It’s certainly true that large companies like to make people sign contracts reaffirming this, but the absence of such a contract doesn’t indicate the absence of the law being in effect. It’s sort of like how many employers have people sign contracts reaffirming their at-will status — but the absence of that doesn’t negate their at-will status.

              1. CreationEdge*

                Can they be an employee if they’re not paid?

                I’ve done no research on this, but I thought I’ve read stories where unpaid interns weren’t able to file sexual harassment charges specifically because they weren’t employees.

                Doesn’t not getting paid, and really not getting any tangible benefits, throw this further into a grey area?

                1. CreationEdge*

                  Totally mixed up threads here! I was reading the one about the unpaid intern not getting to use their work samples. That’s what I get for commenting from my phone!

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      While IANAL, I have been both an employee at a design firm and a freelancer/self employed. The laws may be different depending on your jurisdiction, in general it would be safe to assume that all work you produce is the legal property of your employer. That means, you cannot reprint it for personal gain without permission, display it on a public website that is not the company’s without their express permission, even if you credit it to them. But, you can retain copies or print outs that you would show privately, say in a job interview or with a prospective client, for demonstration purposes only that you do not redistribute. So all the freelance work you currently do is also technically the property of whoever you’re doing it for — not yours. And you should put that in your contract with these people that you wish to retain the right to use their work for self promotional purposes. Most freelance clients I don’t think would kick up a fuss, provided they’re direct (not agencies) as you could also include a link back to their website and it’s all free publicity for them, but it’s better to have that in the contract so that the base is covered.

      So, if you are wanting to use this work as part of your online portfolio to gain new clients for your probably burgeoning freelance business — you will have to sit down with your employer and ask him for permission to do this. However, the instant you say you want to put this work on your portfolio website Boss is going to hear “OP2 is getting ready to leave!” and it’s going to get real, real fast. If you just do it and he finds it (the whole “it’s easier to gain forgiveness than ask for permission” thing), he could merely request you take it down, he could become the human personification of Mt. Etna. If you use it after you leave, he could potentially sue. I’m sure you know the old axiom: freelance at night until your day job interferes with your night job. Just make sure you have some ducks in a row if you decide to chance it. Personally, I wouldn’t take that risk if I were you. If you do leave to work for yourself full time, this guy may become one of your clients as it seems he relies on you to do pretty much everything (or not when he hears what your rate will be). You don’t want to burn that bridge, unless you’re really sure you want to completely destroy that bridge.

      As was suggested, if you think that this guy’s new restaurant franchise is going to be the taste sensation that sweeps the nation and you won’t be compensated for the work that you’ve done to make it a success, you can try to renegotiate your employment contract to include some sort of royalty in it. But, unless your boss is quite literally The Nicest Guy Ever, I wouldn’t hold out hope for that. There’s a reason that Nike story is the one that always gets told: it may be the only time in recorded history that that has happened. What usually happens is along the lines of what happened to Harvey Ball

      Here’s something you may not have considered: if you did sign a contract, get it out and read it. Take it to a lawyer if you don’t understand something on it. Sometimes, employers put in non-compete or exclusivity clauses. If you were a Creative Director (presuming this company was large enough) there might be a clause in there that specified you couldn’t work for a major competitor or on certain brands for a period of time after you left the company. Someone I know has signed an exclusive contract with the agency they are with. That means that if they are on vacation in Tahiti and they suddenly have The. Best. Idea. Ever. it is technically property of the agency — they can’t work on it in their spare time and if they do want to pursue it, they have to not tell a soul and leave in order to work on it, probably after some time has gone by — they literally cannot do freelance or consulting on the side. What I’m trying to say is that there may be something in your contract which means your boss didn’t want you working freelance/after hours for other people in the first place. Odds are, probably not. But if there is, and if he’s been involved with franchise lawyers, he might have gotten some advice about his employment contracts, so it’s better to check now then find out later.

      1. MK*

        “So all the freelance work you currently do is also technically the property of whoever you’re doing it for — not yours.”

        This is not correct. To begin with, the work the OP does as a contractor would allmost certainly not fall into the category of “work for hire”. And, secondly, the OP says they sign individual contracts with their clients, so basically what the contract says goes.

    3. jag*

      “there’s actually a huge gray area unless you have directly signed a work for hire agreement.”

      No, there is no gray area. When an employee of a company produces something, the company gets copyright unless there is a specific agreement otherwise.

      If the person producing the material is not an employee (a contractor, inter, volunteer or some other kind of relationship) it might be gray, but not for employees.

      1. jag*

        “When an employee of a company produces something,”
        To clarify, produces something on company time while being paid by the company.

  14. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    The other week I had an interview where the interviewer asked me “Do you have kids? Because if you have kids I can’t hire you for this job, you won’t be able to do it.” I suppose if I had said something like “No way, no kids for me, please and thank you,” she would have loved that and moved me forward in the process. But really all that would so is move me forward with an employer who is sexist on a lot of different levels, because I don’t believe for a second that their sexism would be limited to poor treatment of women who have babies. If a company thinks that poorly of women with kids, I’d place real money on the fact that they’re not that keen on any other women, either.

    So if I had lied and said I never wanted kids, would I have maybe gotten that job? Sure. But the crazy red flags in the process weren’t worth any job. Kids don’t need to be mentioned in the interview or cover letter, period, regardless of whether you’ve got a herd of them or they exist strictly in the realm of fantasy.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            It was very strange! The interviewer asked how I felt about travel, and then said the kids comment, which I just….stared at, blankly, and then she hurriedly said went on to talk about some other aspects of the job that weren’t travel-related, I think realizing that I was weirded out. But then later in the same interview she came back to “You’d have to travel on short notice. Would your husband mind? Would he let you take a job like that?” to which I said very shortly “That’s not really important.” It was a weird, disjointed interview to begin with, and then she finished up with “OK, well….I’ll call you next week. Or call us!” and I left mentally thanking my lucky stars that I wouldn’t be forced to work there.

            Also at the beginning of the interview she said “Oh, I just called you because you were the first resume I got.” Thanks.

            1. Merry and Bright*

              Sometimes I have to remind myself which century we are living in…

              I was asked recently to prove that I don’t have any kids. WTF?

              Whole round of bullets dodged that afternoon.

            2. LBK*

              This was a woman!? Yikes…kinda frightening that a woman would be espousing the “women require their husband’s approval to be out of the house” mentality.

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

              Even while it was going on I was thinking alternately “This will make a great story” and “No one is going to believe me that an interviewer could be this tone-deaf.” But it’s true!

              1. MsM*

                Sadly, I don’t have any trouble believing this. Though I am shaking my head that it was this blatant.

              2. CreationEdge*

                She sounds like an inexperienced interviewer who didn’t know how to discreetly probe for that type of information, but was tasked with finding in out by someone higher up.

    1. MK*

      I would go as far as to say they are not keen on people who have any kind of life outside work.

  15. ExceptionToTheRule*

    OP #1, let me echo everyone else and give you an example. Yesterday, I got a cover letter from a guy who indicated to me that he didn’t have “any vices (wife, kids, etc)” so he could work any time, any where. That bit about “vices” struck me as fundamentally NOT something that should be in one’s cover letter and really makes me want to wonder what else he would be inappropriate about.

      1. ZSD*

        I almost wonder if he doesn’t actually know what the word means. You know how sometimes you find out that a word you thought meant A because you’d used context clues to deduce its meaning actually means B, and you’ve been misusing it for the last 15 years? Maybe this guy thinks that “vice” means “distraction.”

        Even then, it doesn’t belong in a cover letter, though.

        1. some1*

          This! For some reason, it always annoys me when people use the term “shacking up” to mean an affair. It means living together. In a shack or somewhere else.

      2. Jen RO*

        It was obviously an attempt at humor. Personally I find it funny, but it definitely didn’t belong in a resume.

        1. LBK*

          I guess it depends on the tone of the rest of what’s being said, but that kind of joke is still kind of gross. Like jokes about the ol’ ball and chain that are meant to be funny but are still rooted is sexism.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I like to think I’ve got a pretty wide ranging sense of deranged humor and there were no clues in the cover letter that it was meant to be funny.

          I think the guess that he mis-used the word is more accurate than an extremely strange attempt at humor, but the guy has allegedly been a news producer with 10 years of experience. If he doesn’t know the correct meaning of the word “vice” that’s a huge red flag.

          1. Laurel Gray*

            Ha! I was going to ask if other parts of the cover letter had a lot of humor.

            I took his use of the word “vice” as some sort of desperation regarding availability. “I’m totally free of any and all obligations and can work any time, any place” reeks of desperate to get a job. I believe a qualified applicant who is interested and serious about the job would still want work/life balance on the table – especially with 10 years of experience. He isn’t fetching coffees and dry cleaning anymore!!

        3. on the other hand*

          I agree, seems like a misplaced attempt at approaching the topic in a lighthearted way.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      I did a speed dating event once (ugh! — I know) and one of the guys asked if I had any kids and I said that I didn’t. He then made a comment about how lucky I was not to have “baggage” and I was thinking all “What? You see children as a burden or something?” Ick. I’m not saying that children are just sunshine and kitten whiskers and unicorns pooping rainbows 24/7/365… but the immediate shunting into something negative and undesirable was just, yuck.

      1. some1*

        It’s also reinforces some alpha male BS about how guys don’t want to raise a kid that isn’t theirs biologically.

  16. LBK*

    #4 – I’m a little confused, I read this as the manager saying the OP’s wife needs to be in early to turn on her own computer, not the manager’s. Which is still questionable and potentially illegal, but not that uncommon a request.

    1. Austinite Product Manager*

      I read the opposite — the title says, “Come in early to turn on my computer” — I’m interpreting that as the boss wanting the employee to come in early to turn the boss’s computer. Otherwise, the title should be, “Come in early to turn on YOUR computer”.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I just received an email back from the OP. He says: “Her boss asked her to come in early to turn on her computer (the computer her boss uses) and turn on the lights. After that, my wife goes to her own office and starts her workday.”

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              The computer is a red herring in the story then.

              Come in and early and be paid for it = sure
              Come in early for free = not legal unless exempt

              I don’t think it’s weird to ask someone to come and start the office up for the day, as long as you are paying them for it.

            2. LBK*

              Oh wow. Well. That is just nutso. How about the boss comes in early to turn on her own damn computer?

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Regardless of what it means, can’t they schedule the computer to come on a certain time (you can probably enable wake-on-LAN for Windows, and Macs have power scheduling built into them)?

      Or, better yet, why shut down the machine every day? If you want to save energy, put it to sleep at the end of the day, and it should wake up nigh-instantly. Then reboot it every week or two.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        And there could be motion activated lights in the office.

        I think this is more of a “I am The Boss and I wish to be coddled in this way” thing. I’m half surprised that “and make sure there’s a fresh pot of coffee for when I get there and the milk isn’t past expiry” along with it. Boss wants to come in, find everything ready for them to Go! so they can Boss very Bossly without any intrusive things like turning on a computer to stop them. They could just as easily come in early themselves if they wish to be ready to Go! at whatever time they feel is appropriate… but apparently not.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Lookit, if the person is being paid for it, I don’t think any of that stuff is wrong.

          We’re a Much Bigger Company and our receptionist “comes in early” to start a lot of things off, but of course she’s paid for it. If one of those things was to boot somebody’s computer, who cares.

          If someone is expected to do for free, that’s the problem.

          1. LBK*

            I still think it’s kind of weird unless the business is set up as such that the manager isn’t going to be there until much later in the day. If everyone comes in at 8 and the boss wants one of her employees to come in at 7:45 to start up her computer…that seems like either extreme laziness or some kind of weird power play.

            The caveat is if the employee is the boss’s admin/exec assistant or a similar administrative role. In that case I wouldn’t find it too weird.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              The OP is missing the critical info, is this coming in early paid or unpaid. The wife’s regular job function is also an important piece of info.

              I don’t think paid administrative staff starting their job day 15 min earlier than the rest of everybody else is weird. Turn on the lights, start the coffee, turn on the copier, etc. Booting up a computer is a little weird but, it’s pushing a button, not hand cranking so who cares.

              That the OP’s wife has issue with it means likely it’s either expected unpaid, it’s way out of her normal job description, or that schedule change is a burden on her family’s schedule for some reason (like 15 minutes drastically shifts child care or something).

              1. LBK*

                Yeah, I didn’t read the wife’s position as being administrative or including tasks like this which I think makes in inappropriate whether the time is paid or unpaid. But if she is then it’s just a legal question of if she needs to be paid for that time, and I agree that the request itself doesn’t seem that unreasonable.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            I don’t think it’s “wrong” either, it just seems weird to me to expect another person to do that all of a sudden. But, I’m not a manager and since you say it’s not out of the ordinary in other companies, OK. Maybe booting up a computer doesn’t include being given the password or VPN gadget to actually unlock it? Maybe this is some kind of LW’s wife is always coming in a few minutes late attempt at correction? Like you say, so long as she either gets paid or gets to leave early, then I guess this is just one of those “other duties as assigned” things?

  17. The Engineer*

    #5 – I’m exempt and my time card is normally blank. The exception is when I use leave and then I show the days which apply.

  18. thisisit*

    #5 – at my old job, we got paid for 37.5 hours (if exempt), regardless of what we worked, but still had to account for all of our hours on our timesheet because we direct billed to projects/budgets. so we didn’t get paid more, but the project paid out for those extra hours. so it was considered fraud if we didn’t put the exact hours we worked, but not for salary reasons. (this had effects on budgeting and proposals too, since it was not unheard of to underbudget and overwork staff.)
    i think this is actually common at soft money orgs.

    1. abby*

      I think your old job is my old job.

      My new job, exempts just put in 8 hours, then code if any of that time is sick or holiday or vacation or jury or bereavement or whatever.

    2. ciaociao*

      In my work (engineering/construction), I recently found out there were actually TWO methods of time accounting. One was just for billing projects/budgets that had to be kept at 8 hours/day… and the other was for “real” time.

      Unfortunately the flaw is the system was that the former method was the only one that employees could edit, so you got your 8 hours in your other method by default anyway.

      TL;DR–it could just be a software thing. Still, keep an eye on your pay/hours.

  19. Katie the Fed*

    #1 – Your letter really rubs me the wrong way. Women have fought hard to stop pregnancy and gender discrimination, and you seem to think that being out of this protected category should give you some kind of added bonus. It’s really off-putting, and I would encourage you to re-evaluate your attitude toward women in the workplace who do choose to start families.

    1. StarHopper*

      I agree. It’s especially sad to see that kind of sexism ingrained in another woman.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        And sadly she can own it, sit with the boys at lunch and laugh at their dirty jokes and at the end of the day their sexism can still affect her in other ways in this industry, particularly the three Ps- pay, perks, promotions.

    2. LBK*

      Yeah. It’s a little sad that the response to working in a sexist industry is to play into it for your own benefit rather than trying to do something to fight it.

    3. Alis*

      I agree entirely.

      It’s perfectly acceptable to decide that children are not for you. What IMO, is not acceptable, is perpetuating the gender discrimination that women face. There are strides to go, but as women in general, we (current generations) are quite blessed to have a choice in most ways. We have those choices, because of those who didn’t – they stood up for our rights to be treated the same. To me, that’s sort of pissing on what they stood for. I can’t imagine wanting to willingly contribute to such conditions.

      Even if people choose to be childless, remember, your attitude and stance towards society will still affect future generations. You don’t have to give birth to have a great influence on a child.

    4. Cat*

      Yeah, this is throwing other women under the bus and it bothers me. (I know people have to feed themselves but . . . .)

      For that matter, it’s not great for women without kids who may have outside-of-work commitments either.

    5. A*

      The OP’s letter is probably less about women who do choose to start families and more about the employers who discriminate against women aged 25-40ish because they are ‘breeding risks’. After a while, you start to get incredibly frustrated and don’t really care about the ‘bigger feminist picture’, you just personally want to stop missing out and being cast aside because you’re of a certain age and with a uterus even though it’s not in your plans to have kids. Trust me…it’s annoying. I’m punished a lot right now because I MIGHT want to do something even though I don’t.

      1. aebhel*

        Trust me…I’m a 29 year old woman and I *know* it’s annoying. It’s just that it’s also annoying to me that in addition to sexist workplaces, those of us who have or want kids also have to deal with other women throwing us under the bus to get ahead.

    6. on the other hand*

      I work in an office dominated by women.

      Before my most recent contract prolongation the Head of Administration (a woman) explicitly confirmed with my boss (also a woman) that I, a newly married woman, am not planning on having children.

      We need to be able to talk about these realities and address employers questions. Even though it is extremely sexist and unfair, employers have no reason to stop thinking that it is a relevant question to address since the cost is so great.

  20. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

    On the letter from OP#1 there strikes me as something rather defensive about this, as though she is aware of the sexism in her industry and so wants to pre-empt this. Although I would not put anything on my CV/resume about children, a little bit of me can see where she is coming from on this.

    I remember when I was laid off from a job almost ten years ago, two separate interviewers told me I would do better if I put a reason for leaving against each of my jobs. I actually did this for a while until I took further advice that I should leave that information off. Now, I am not saying the OP has been advised to put information about children on her resume but I can sort of see why she might be tempted, however misguided it is.

    I have been asked throughout my working life by interviewers and recruiters about whether I am going to have children or if I have got children, however illegal or unethical it is – speaking from the UK here so using the word “illegally” advisedly. Interestingly, though, with one exception, the people asking me have all been female. Work that one out!

    1. neverjaunty*

      Sexism isn’t just a thing guys do. There are, unfortunately, plenty of women who are happy to throw other women under the bus so they can be the Special Snowflake (you know, the one who doesn’t have babies or get pissed when the guys tell sexist jokes!), or who have the attitude that when THEY came up in the ranks, nobody made it easy for THEM, so why should they make it any easier for other women.

        1. LBK*

          I bookmarked that page on my iBook of Gone Girl because it was just so good and on point.

      1. some1*

        We women treat each other horribly. If you’re a woman, another woman at your job has judged your clothes, car, relationship or lack thereof, interactions, etc. We’re socialized to want to be the prettiest and most popular in the room, and to cut down anyone who might threaten that.

  21. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

    This is uncanny. When I posted my comment above, I hadn’t read the letter from the OP about addressing layoffs in job applications, but I am glad to have the advice I was given some years ago validated.

  22. Merry and Bright*

    Obviously I get that sexist employers are reluctant to employ women because – wait for it – we might get pregnant, take a career break or ask for flexible working. Most people these days don’t work for the same employer for 40+ years, though. Men and women move on for all kinds of reasons. It is not realistic to expect any employee to stay indefinitely yet the assumption is that women are the ones with commitment issues.

  23. DavidYYZ*

    #2 Your employer definitely owns the work that you’ve produced for them as part of your employment for them.

    However, some employers also own work that you produce on your own time as well. I used to work for one of the largest companies in the world, and even as someone who was in one of the lowest level positions, I was required to sign an agreement that said that any work that I produce, regardless of whether it is for work purposes or not, the company would have rights to it if it was relevant to their line of business. This was a tech company, so if I decided to produce an app for fun that just shows funny pictures of cats, my employer would have every right to that app even though they never paid me to produce it.

  24. IrishGirl*

    Regarding #1, I don’t think putting you don’t want children on a cover letter is in any way appropriate, nor do I think pregnancy discrimination is ok. I think the point about why employers have aversions to hiring women who are/may become pregnant is slightly more nuanced than those employers being inherently sexist however.

    I have a family friend who hired a woman for a HR Director post in her organisation. On her first day, the new employee gave notice that she was eight months pregnant. Employee took three full maternity leaves within her first four years (here maternity leave entitlements are 6 months paid and 4 months unpaid, which vacation entitlements not being affected – so in effect 11 months).

    Clearly not everyone is going to take such leave, but it left a bad taste with that employer. Pregnancy discrimination is of course wrong, but it has other foundations besides the belief that all women belong in the home.

    1. neverjaunty*

      One woman did an annoying thing this one time, therefore it’s not unreasonable for an employer to be reluctant to hire women? That’s pretty ridiculous.

      I doubt anybody would be claiming it’s a “nuanced” decision if an employer said oh, we hired an observant Jewish employee one time, and he took off every Friday afternoon at 4:00 for Shabbat which created a real hardship for the company, so it’s kind of understandable that my boss doesn’t want to hire Jews anymore.

      1. Chartreuse*

        It’s more than annoying, neverjaunty! 33 months of leave over the course of four years? Outrageous is not too strong a term.

        Your example does not compare at all. Assuming a typical 9 – 5 workday, your hypothetical employee’s religious observances absent him for 1 hour out of 40, or 2.5% of the work week. An amount of time easily made up for by working an extra hour on another day, or just being so superstar efficient that it doesn’t even matter if you only work 39 hours, everything still gets done.

        The scenario described by IrishGirl is the employee absent for 33 months out of 48, or 68.8% of her time. The employee is gone more than she is present! Physically impossible for that to be made up by staying late on the remaining 31.3% days, nor is it conceivable for her to be such a superstar that she gets so much done during those 31.3% that she isn’t missed during the 68.8%.

        Now, I agree that extrapolating this behavior to all women is not right. But it is *much* more than simply “annoying” behavior. And the employer having an awareness that the law makes the behavior possible and trying in some way to screen out those who would game the system this way is completely reasonable. The screening should not involve screening out all women, nor all women of childbearing age, nor all married women; that would be inappropriate. But it is reasonable to think about what an appropriate way of screening for this might be.

        1. neverjaunty*

          “Now, I agree that extrapolating this behavior to all women is not right”

          Which was the entire point.

          I also find it interesting that you skipped over the part of my example where I mentioned that this hypothetical employer believed the employee’s observance created an actual hardship for the company. I don’t know why you would therefore assume a 9-5 workday; I certainly wasn’t, since plenty of jobs don’t run on a 9-5 schedule, or can easily wrap up by 4:00 p.m. on Fridays. You seem to be claiming that “One person from X group did this bad thing, so I’m never hiring anyone from X again” is OK as long as the actual percentage of work missed is above a certain threshold.

          1. Chartreuse*

            Well, it would seem we each missed something from the other’s post then. I was focused on your adjective “annoying” which seems an extreme understatement when applied to the behavior of the woman abusing the maternity leave; because you’d used it, I didn’t realize that you meant your example of leaving at 4 pm (which you seemed to want to use as a parallel) to be something more than a mere annoyance, hence my assumption of it being 1 hour out of 40 that was missed.

            And it seems that you missed the entire last paragraph of what I wrote, where I explained at great length that I do not in fact think the company should screen out all X, nor even Z, Y, or W subset of X, but only the X who do the actual problematic behavior. I maintain it *is* very reasonable for them to be trying to think of ways to screen out the subset of X who would engage in the behavior (and only that subset).

            1. aebhel*

              Sure, as long as the category you’re going for is ’employees who abuse leave time policies to the company’s detriment’, not a subset of ‘women who take maternity leave’.

    2. MK*

      And I can tell you of ten cases I personally know about men who behaved in a similarly detrimental manner towards their employer, but that didn’t leave the employer with a bad taste for hiring men. Were all male employees of your family friend model workers? Probably not. Did he blame their gender for their shortcomings? I seriously doubt it.

    3. thisisit*

      in countries with generous maternity leave, it’s standard to hire short-term for maternity cover. most companies don’t have an issue with it. here in ireland, there is still a lot of stigma around working mothers (despite great maternity leave). but it’s not “nuance”, it’s just wrong.

    4. Chartreuse*

      If the law is set up so that a person can take a job and then effectively work, what, 15 months out of 48?, I would say that the law is the problem, not the person availing themselves of the provisions of the law. I can’t say for certain not knowing the full details of the law (based on your name, I am assuming this is Ireland? I don’t live in Ireland so am not familiar), but even with the very limited information you’ve stated, it sounds to me like it might be a well-intentioned, but *very* poorly thought out law. Did no one who wrote it think through the fact that scenarios like these could result from it?

      1. Zillah*

        I think that crafting a law specifically to prevent people from taking leave for genuine medical reasons is pretty ridiculous on the face of it.

        1. Chartreuse*

          I didn’t see anything in IrishGirl’s post that said there was a medical reason. This was eleven month long maternity leave, not medical leave. It’s my understanding that longer maternity leaves aren’t used in most cases for recovering from medical issues associated with birth, they’re used for having time to get used to the new routine of having a baby in the house and to simply be able to bond with baby without having to leave him/her with a caregiver and go away to work.

          I suppose it is remotely possible that in this case the mother did have severe complications from the birth and it literally took eleven months to recover. But that is highly unlikely and it’s even *more* unlikely that she’d have the same length of recovery all three times that she gave birth. Even the woman I know personally who developed a terrible infection at the site of her c-section, and thus took much longer than usual to recover from the birth of her child, was recovered and functioning normally long before the eleven month mark.

          This isn’t a health issue. And even if it were, I think there’s a point where a health issue ceases to be a mere health issue and becomes a long term disability preventing you from fulfilling the normal functioning of your job. And it’s well before you drop down to the 38% functional mark and stay there for four straight years.

  25. Jennifer*

    Childfree women can’t really separate from child-wanting and child-having women in this sort of way, I suspect. We’re all guilty of possibly having children to sexists, and there probably isn’t a way around that given all the mind-changers.

    1. Lurking*

      And if you don’t have children, don’t be surprised if you are turned down for that raise because a male coworker “has a family to support.”

  26. some1*

    #1, here’s the deal. Would you bring this up if you were a man who didn’t want children? If you changed to a female friendly industry or you were suddenly able to retire or couldn’t work anymore, would you then want children? I’m guessing not.

  27. Brett*

    #5 This raises a big red flag because it is construction. If the project fails under prevailing wage laws, then exempt employees must be paid prevailing wage for all hours regardless of their regular salary. In other words, prevailing wage construction can require that exempt workers be paid “overtime” (though at regular time, not time and a half). Failing to do so can result in very large fines, loss of all performance bonds, and a union ban or bidding ban.

  28. No name, no state*

    #5 – we have to do this at work (handwrite in 8-8-8-8-8 on our time cards) just so our boss has a record we were there. Say what – ?!

  29. NotFunny*

    #4 Maybe someone already mentioned this, and we don’t know the reason he needs his computer turned on before he gets there. But if the reason is that his computer takes more than 5 minutes to boot up then that computer has a serious problem and IT needs to look into it. There is no excuse for a business class machine to take very long to boot up and start all the regular programs. If a special program is what takes that long, then nevermind.

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