our employee runs an adult website on the side, manager is pushing me to use public transportation, and more

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

1. Our employee runs an adult website on the side

It was brought to our attention that we have an employee that runs an adult website that is classified as “adult glamour,” so it is nudity but not porn. (As far as we know; we have not subscribed to the site.) Should that have any ramifications on her job? We are a healthcare office. She is a wonderful employee and we would have never suspected this from her. She is not doing anything criminal and it does not affect her job.

If it doesn’t impact her ability to do her job, I’d let it go and write it off as her private business. If the person who brought it to your attention was an employee, you should also make sure that that person knows that they shouldn’t gossip about this with other coworkers (both in order not to create a workplace distraction and to protect her from being harassed).

2. My manager is pushing me to use public transportation

I took a new job over a month ago. The hours and shifts suited me so well that when I’ve been accepted I’ve moved closer to the office to be able to walk to work and avoid daily commute. A few days after my move, the company has announced that they are moving the office 20 miles away! Shifts I took involve 7 am starts and night shifts. Public transport during weekends and early mornings is not an option.

My partner has offered to take me to and from work until I will get my license sorted. We would then share the drive and work around it. When I announced to my employer that I got the transport sorted, he for some reason asked me if I could try to commute anyway?! Which to me is more expensive and time consuming, not to mention physically impossible, when on 12-hour shifts because the commute takes 1 hour and 40 minutes. I’m puzzled!

I’m puzzled too, unless he’s concerned about the reliability of this plan. But why not just ask your boss why he suggested it? (You really don’t need to try to read tea leaves when your manager says something mystifying; it’s fine to just ask for clarification on the spot.) Regardless, though, you don’t need to loop your manager into your transportation plans at all. If he asks, you can say, “This ended up working better for us.”

3. Can I change the amount of notice I’ve given?

Several weeks back, I learned that my position is being relocated to the company’s corporate headquarters in a different state. I was offered the opportunity to relocate, and declined. It’s just not something that works with my life right now. They understood my decision and gave me time to transition out of the role. We mutually decided on a last day, which is about a month from now.

I’ve had a couple of promising interviews now for a position I’m very interested in. I know that offers are never guaranteed, but if I do receive an official offer, I would be interested in starting as soon as possible. I’m not enjoying being in “job limbo,” so to speak, and I’m having a hard time remaining focused on my current role. What I’m wondering is – how much notice do I have to give my current company if they already know I’m leaving? Am I expected to stay until the last day we chose, or would less time be appropriate? I was thinking of giving them a week, but is that not enough time?

In general, if you told them you’d be leaving in a month, they’d be unlikely to be pleased if you suddenly announce it’ll be a week instead. They’ve made plans based on what you told them, and it’s possible that they would have done things differently if they’d known they had less time — moved up certain meetings, or had you train someone faster, or asked you to complete a piece of work that you now won’t have time for.

However, in this case, where you’re being laid off, the rules are a little different; it’s reasonable to ask for some flexibility if you get an offer earlier than you expected when the whole reason you’re looking is because they’re eliminating your job.

4. Is it normal to offer only one week of vacation a year?

I recently relocated to Texas with my husband for his new job, and I’m happy to say that after nearly 4 months of being unemployed, I was offered a job. The pay is great and we’re keeping my husband’s health insurance through work, so I don’t need to sign up for their benefits (which are a lot more expensive per check then his). My question is about standard vacation time. I was only given one week off for the first year with a couple of sick days. The position is for a mid-level graphic designer position – so I’m not entry level… does this seem low to you? I tried to negotiate with them but I got the “this is completely normal” talk. I really like this job but I feel like this is a serious downside – I assumed I would get the minimum of two weeks.

Am I being unreasonable? I’ve looked at all kinds of reviews online but I can’t seem to figure out if this short of vacation time is normal or not.

No, that’s really, really low. Prohibitively low, in my opinion, unless you really need this particular job.

5. Did my employer lie about the reason I was let go?

I was hired as a web editor for a major telecommunications company. Four weeks into the job, my recruiter called and said there was no work for me and I was being terminated in two weeks. But I had been busy and did all the work that was asked of me with no negative feedback whatsoever. An editor’s work on a website with new content every day NEVER goes away. Do employers actually lie about the reason for terminating contractors? If I didn’t live up to expectations, why not just say so?

Sure, people lie about the reasons for terminations all the time, in order to avoid having tough, awkward, or unpleasant conversations. That’s especially true with contractors, where the company tends to have invested less in them and often feels less obligation to give feedback.

It sucks, but the reality is that it’s hard to tell someone that they’re not meeting the standard you need. It’s the reason why so many managers put off dealing with performance problems long past the point where it’s reasonable to operate that way. That doesn’t mean that’s okay or reasonable to do, but it’s certainly common.

{ 451 comments… read them below }

  1. The IT Manager*

    I’m torn about Alison’s answer to LW#4. While on the one hand I completely agree that 1 week vacation/a couple of sick days is lower than it should be, I am under the impression that this is fairly normal especially for new employees (to be treated poorly like this). Although I am under the impression that more skilled workers get more time off in general so I’d expect the mid-level graphic designer to average higher than 1 week off a year. What industry is this in?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Noooo, that’s really, really crappy. Anything under two weeks vacation (not accounting yet for sick time) is low even for entry-level employees. There are certainly some fields where it’s not unheard of, but they’re in the minority of professional jobs and it’s definitely seen as stingy and terrible overall.

      1. anon designer*

        my last two jobs had the same structure– a week of PTO the first year, switching to two weeks the second year. these were mid and senior level positions, too.

        1. Anonymous123*

          This is the norm in my area, too. One week the first year, two weeks the second year, regardless of position.

          1. AVP*

            Same for me. I hate when I have to make that offer to people, it’s so hard not to cringe or betray the fact that I think it’s crappy.

            1. anonymousAgain*

              In Texas the one week vacation became ubiquitous after 911. Texas is business friendly . Don’t expect a raise for several years and when you get one of around 2 % you probably will not see another for years; so bargain for a little more to start. that is expected. Expect to work a lot of free hours. Compensation time is minutes on the hour, if anything. Expect no training other than a get started hour or two, or lunch training at most. Try to find a company with free lunches that way you do not need to go out and can do more work in less time and obtain a few hours weekly of your time back. This is the way we work here.

              1. baseballfan*

                Sounds like are harboring some bitterness and need to move! I agree Texas is business friendly and I thank that to a large degree for the good economy here, but that’s not mutually exclusive with treating employees well.

                I do not know anyone who works in an environment like you describe. I am sure such environments exist, but it’s illogical to imply they are representative of the state. I disagree that any of the issues you mention are ubiquitous here.

                1. nm*

                  Anon Again may be a little bitter, but they are also in good part right. TX has a serious issue with its workforce, and seems to be planning on the downward spiral continuing. Aside from a few select fields, I would not recommend anyone move here for work. And those I do, I have to point out the lifestyle may not meet their needs.

              2. Anna*

                I’m not sure why business friendly has to be equivalent to employee antagonistic. The two concepts aren’t automatically mutually exclusive!

              3. Jane P.*

                No, what you’re describing is not normal for Texas. I have never had less than 2 weeks’ vacation time (separate from sick or personal) nor heard of less than 2… At least for the non-profit sector. From my experience, most entry level positions start at 2 weeks’ vacation time with 3-6 weeks for executives.

                The above is based on experience in my industry, but after a brief Internet search I’m not finding anything that contradicts that.

                Your other observations (raises, comp time) are not in line with my experiences in Texas either.

                1. penny*

                  Disagree here. I’m in Texas and 1 week is not uncommon. My first post college job was 1 week vacation, 1 week sick time and that didn’t change based on tenure. Granted that whole company sucked. My current (awesome) job starts with 1 week and is 2 on anniversary plus pto. Most people I know either have 1 week, none or accrue pto that they can barely ever take off. and these are professional jobs in health care, oil, and construction.

                2. penny*

                  By the way not saying that’s great, just that I wouldn’t be at all thrown off to see 1 week or think it unusually low. Obviously more is always better!

                3. Jane P.*

                  I’m not trying to say that 1 week never happens, but I am not sure that it is the standard or ubiquitous as was stated above. This is speaking within my industry, of course.

                  I have lived in Austin for 5 years, St. Louis for 5 years, Florida for 1 year, and now I’m in DFW. My point was that I don’t think Texas is better or worse than the general U.S. at large, based on what I’ve observed elsewhere, and certainly not because of 9/11. Across the country, wages have been stagnating for many more years than since 9/11.

                4. nm*

                  Plenty of non-profits start at one week PTO – I work at one in Texas. None of the non-profits I have worked at here start with two weeks. This is a pretty good example of how personal experience does not equal a true fact – as both of us have completely different experiences.

                5. Jane P.*

                  I agree – the plural of anecdote is not data. The only reason I brought up my previous experience is because originally AnonymousAgain seemed to be posting on authority with regards to the state of Texas based on their own experiences. I was just attempting to say that I had a different experience than theirs. I’m not trying to project my experience onto anyone else in Texas and I apologize if that’s the impression I gave. I believe there are plenty of positions where 1 week is the norm. I just wanted to clarify that it wasn’t the case for everyone.

                6. Erika*

                  Wow…I work for an NPO in Texas and I started with 18 days vacation, plus 5 days of sick time, so I was a bit surprised to read about other’s experiences. There is an organization in town that offers zero PTO, but they have an incredibly high turnover and people know to avoid them…

                7. peanut butter kisses*

                  State employees get 8 hours of vacation per month when they start. The time is increased as you continue to work with Texas. If you work over two years but less than five, you get 9 hours. It increases like that in increments.

              4. JB*

                Native Texan here. My large company provides 3 weeks vacation (separate from sick leave) for anyone full time, non-exempt with less than five years, and certain other exempt positions. Most exempt positions are 4 weeks vacation, with it moving to 5 weeks after 20 years.

                Most jobs I’ve had previously (entry level & up) were 2 weeks vacation, 1 week sick leave. The only time I was given 1 week of vacation for the remainder of the calendar years was when I started after May 1st. In January of the next year, I had two weeks of vacation for the year. Employees who came along later in my tenure had two weeks vacation for the year if they started prior to May.

                I worked for the government briefly and accrued vacation from the day I started, but couldn’t use any of it for 120 days.

                My father owns his own business and his employees all get 2 weeks. They’ve all been there since the company started, so I don’t know if he even has a policy about only giving partial in the first year.

                My brother works for a small business that launched in the past year. They have two weeks vacation each. However, they have a few extra holiday-buffer days that most of us don’t. They’re closed today (Friday before Memorial Day). They were off an extra day around July 4th, were closed the Friday before Labor Day, and were also off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and on Dec 23rd and 24th.

      2. Steve G*

        One of the reasons I am nostalgic for my years in Czech Republic, where 5 weeks per year was the norm. I had 3 weeks at my last job and felt like I never had any time off, it isn’t enough….because by the time you take off the 5, 6, 7 days per year you need for doctor appointments, dentist, household projects….you barely have a week and a half for a real vacation

        1. Cheesecake*

          Yes, this. I just don’t get why US guys get 2 weeks off only….let alone one! I work in Europe where 4-5 weeks are norm. In some countries you get additional days for the years you worked, i know people who were able to take 2 summer months off.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            To be clear, that’s not the case across the board in the U.S. I can’t t think of the last time I had a job that only gave two weeks off.

            I just looked up the average stats on this and found these numbers for U.S. workers:
            More than 3 weeks – 36%
            3 weeks – 26%
            2 weeks – 22%
            1 week or less – 16%

            Still worse than many other countries, but it does drive home the point that there’s no one standard here.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              In the UK the legal minimum is 22 days plus 8 public holidays. A lot of jobs offer a little more (my basic is 25 days) and I can also take buy an extra 5-10 days depending on what I can get my boss to agree to. Managers get more days again but that is to compensate for unpaid overtime and in practice most mangers do more over time in the year than the extra few days they get given.

                1. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Doh! I’m not sure why I had the figure 22 days in my head, thanks for letting me know it’s 20 days

                2. TheLazyB*

                  Wishful thinking?! Hehe

                  Hey, remember the bad old days when it was 20 days INCLUDING bank hols?!

                3. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Yeah I remember that all too well, I used to work for a high street bank and they were so tight with holiday, considering they were closed on a bank holiday I had to use the little holiday I had to get paid for a day I couldn’t work that took 20 days down to 12 :( bad times indeed.

                4. Soharaz*

                  Thanks for responding LazyB! I was feeling a bit put out that I only got 20 and not 22!

            2. Cheesecake*

              I used to work in a big US multinational and US colleagues had 2 weeks off. Of course they got some other PTO and could take a days off for overtime, but it was two weeks. Unfortunately your statistics shows that 3 weeks is still in minority. I have something similar to Apollo Warbucks – 25 days, but we can’t “buy” extra days. We also have a rule in the labor code to take 2 consecutive weeks of vacation per year. So again, even 3 weeks is not cool. 1 week i can’t even imagine.

              1. Cheesecake*

                I can’t do maths in the morning, disregard the comment about 3 weeks being minority

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Actually, no — at least according to these numbers, the portion of people who get 3 weeks or more is more than half (36% + 26% = 62%). In any case, my point is only that there’s no one standard here, and the majority are getting something more than 2 weeks.

                I agree that’s still low compared to other countries — but I’d also appreciate if we didn’t turn this into a “U.S. benefits sucks” conversation, since that’s not what the OP asked about.

                1. Cheesecake*

                  Yup, i said above i missed word “more” than 3 weeks – apologies, it is not minority

                  I did not mean “US Benefits suck”, i don’t have a dental plan paid and noone does here. It bothers me massively :( What i meant is one week of vacation is sad and must be negotiated; we have 5 over the pond and we don’t have microchips that make us more productive or do significantly different office work.

            3. Pomengranit Jewels*

              Of course, even if you do work at a company with a generous PTO allotment, having long vacations in the U.S. is so uncommon that you are likely to run into managers who pressue you not to take time off. I once worked at a canadian held company that had great pto, 5 weeks + sick time and holidays. I tried to take of a full month for my wedding and honeymoon so we can travel and was practically laughed out of the office. I ended up getting two weeks, but very, very begrudgingly. My manager made a point of saying that other co-workers in years past only took off a week for their weddings…. At the end of each year my co-workers would brag about how much PTO they had expiring. It was pretty miserable. My french relatives like to say “Europeans work to live, American’s live to work.”

              I think the recent study showing that most people are faking those long hours demonstrates this unhealthy obsession with facetime nicely.

              1. Anonxy*

                Sad but true – my employer offers 5 weeks of paid leave, but it is almost impossible to meet your yearly metrics and use more than 2 weeks.

                1. baseballfan*

                  Agree. My last job gave me 5 weeks of paid vacation/personal days and I used a lot of it on 3-4 day weekends.

                  (And yes, I used it all. Many people at my firm did not, but I refuse to lose vacation. It can take some savvy and planning, but it can and should be done).

                2. Midnight Oil*

                  That’s true in the U.S., but elsewhere in the world being off for a month or two is not that uncommon.

                  I did a lot of work in scheduling, and I can tell you it would be much easier to have people taking a slow month off than what usually happens, everyone wants to take off one week around july 4th, christmas, thanksgiving, etc.

            4. Hiring Mgr*

              So one out of every six companies gives one week vaca or less? That seems shockingly high, as well as just awful to employees..

              1. Xarcady*

                Not necessarily. In most companies, you earn more vacation time the longer you are there. So new entry-level employees get one week or less, or have to work a year to get their first week of PTO, but older, more experienced employees get more time off.

                From what I’ve encountered, no vacation the first year is maybe not common, but not unheard of. Usually, those company works on the basis that you have to earn your vacation time before you use it. So no vacation the first year, a week of vacation for the next year or two or three, and then finally you earn a second week.

              2. MegEB*

                Think of how many places (restaurants, retail shops, etc) don’t even offer PTO. Out of all the restaurants I’ve ever worked at, only one offered vacation, and it was a single week, paid at minimum wage. No sick leave, obviously. The service industry can be pretty awful to its employees :/

                1. Anna*

                  Every place I’ve worked has been 2 weeks for the first five years, 3 weeks for the next, up to five total weeks. One place did not have static sick leave, so you called in if you were sick and you got paid. Place I’m at now is 10 vacation days, 10 sick/personal days. So if you’re not sick ever, you essentially get 20 vacation days. You can use them in combination. I’ve taken two vacation days and one personal day. For recovery.

            5. Student*

              You’re leaving off about 20% of US employees who are part-time, since your source only covers full time employees. Many of the part-time workers have no paid vacation whatsoever.

            6. brownblack*

              Every job I’ve ever had has offered two weeks off. It has never even occurred to me that this wasn’t standard. I have always assumed I will need to stay in one job for ~5 years to get 3-4 weeks off.

            7. Penny*

              Thanks for sharing the link, that was a good read. Although I’d be really interested to see the positions those people are in and how long they’ve been at their job. More vacation usually comes with tenure or a power position, so it’s possible the group they polled are more tenured or more senior. I wish there was data from companies to get a better idea.

              What’s interesting to see from the results is what’s considered “appropriate” to take for vacation and so forth from an American viewpoint, especially after reading some of these comments from Europeans who are making me jealous.

            8. KatJ_NZ*

              Another reason I feel fortunate to work in NZ. Legal minimum is 20 days paid annual leave, plus (I think) 10 days of paid public holidays, plus 5 days paid sick leave. Australia is fairly similar. It’s fascinating how there are so many differences worldwide (or even in different US states!).

        2. TheLazyB*

          In my last job, by the time I left, I had 33 days leave (so 6 weeks 3 days), we usually got an extra day for great performance, and I bought an extra week (unpaid) through a salary sacrifice scheme. It was awesome to have flexibility for when my small child was sick (especially as i couldn’t work at home).

          I feel for you guys in the U.S.

      3. Nobody Here By That Name*

        What about as a condition of working with the company for a certain time? Like my company does 2 weeks vacation but they don’t kick in until after you’ve worked there for a year.

        1. A Dispatcher*

          We have that where I work as well, though it’s more than 2 weeks. Time only kicks in after you have been there a year (I am a civil service county employee and the entire county operates this way). We can “borrow” against it during the first year, but only a limited amount of days, and that means you have less vacation time to use in months 13-24 of employment.

        2. Jader*

          My last job was in sales and we had a similar structure, we earned vacation the year before it became available to use. So because I started in October of last year I only had two vacation days for all of 2015. Then, as of January 1 2016 I would have had two weeks. This contributed in a large way to me leaving. Once the year started and I was looking at virtually no time off for the rest year I was permanently in panic stress mode.

          1. voyager1*

            Had a job like that in a way. If you were hired after March 31 no vacation for the first year. A few years later we got a new HR Director, that was the first thing she changed and got with the times.

        3. Not Today Satan*

          That’s just “zero weeks vacation for first year employees” under another name, and it’s terrible.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            That is awful! And the first year is extra tiring. We do 12 days for the first year (18 for the second, with more days added over the years), plus sick and 12 bank holidays. I feel awful about the 12 holidays in the first year. 5 days would not be workable for me at all. At this point, there is no way I would take less than 20 in a new job. And I’m about to try to negotiate for 25.

        4. jhhj*

          Here, the rule is that you accrue days in Y1 to be taken in Y2, and so on. You have to be paid out unused days when you leave, and most employers aren’t that anal about waiting until you’ve accrued vacation to use it. But not having vacation in your first year — other than stat holidays, which are on top of the 2 weeks vacation — isn’t entirely out of the norm, even when there’s a legal entitlement to vacation.

        5. Alternative*

          Same here. PTO doesn’t start accruing until after you have been at my company 6 months. So you get 5 days your first year, 10 your second, and 15 your third and fourth years. This is for all employees, at all levels. It’s super crappy.

      4. katamia*

        This is depressing because I’ve never had any vacation time in any of my jobs to date. I knew my old jobs sucked, but this is a whole new way for them to suck.

        1. Jax*

          You’re not the only one. I have what I consider a good job, and my vacation consists of:

          Y1 – Nothing
          Y2 – 5 days (Sick days, vacation, you pick. You only get 5 paid days plus holidays.)
          Y4 – 10 days vacation
          Y20 – 15 days

          I dream of having stress-free, paid time off to take care of a sick kid or just have a mental health day. Instead I drag myself into work no matter what because each day of leave is rare and precious.

      5. AcademiaNut*

        I would say stingy and terrible, but not actually all that uncommon. Not getting any vacation for the first year seems to be a pretty standard setup as well.

        I think it’s also a very short sighted approach – yes, you get that extra week or two a year of work out of your employees, but you also end up with tired employees who really need a break longer than a weekend, and resentful employees looking for the next job. Based on my experience, they’ll also be getting sick more often than if they got an occasional break.

        1. Cat H (UK)*

          This makes me really grateful for living and working in the UK.

          I currently get 27 days paid leave, I started on 25 but it goes up by one every year.

          Also, I think we start off with a months paid sick leave and that goes up each year by a month too.

          I know in the US, vacation is low but 1 week? What exactly are you supposed to do with that??

          1. Windchime*

            I’m curious to know who covers for you while you are out taking your generous days of paid leave (I’m jealous!). I think that might be the difference. I believe that countries with super long maternity leaves usually hire temps to cover, so do you have a float employee that covers vacations? Or does the work just sit until the vacationer comes back?

              1. Cat H (UK)*

                Yeah, we usually have enough staff members to cover our leave whether it be sick or annual leave. They usually put a limit on the number of people who can go at the same time though.

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I agree. People who take vacation are nicer, easier to work with, and more productive. Even considering that that are out for 4 or more weeks. I dislike working with grumpy people.

        3. Rita*

          I don’t think I could ever take a job with a company that doesn’t offer vacation time in the first year.

        4. Pomengranit Jewels*

          It’s been my general experience that companies with seemingly great benefits that do not kick in until year 2 tend to have high turn over. If I hear that bonuses, PTO, holiday’s, and raises aren’t applied until year 2 (or the end of year two in the case of raises/bonuses) I go the other way. That place has high turnover for a reason and it’s likely a miserable place to work.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Yep. And the company figures it can save money on benefits because so many people will quit after a year anyway.

      6. Miss Betty*

        I think a week the first year, two the second through fifth years, then three after that until you’ve been there for 10-20 years is pretty standard where I live, even if you’re not entry level. I do agree that it’s crappy!

      7. Stranger than fiction*

        Maybe this is one of those post recession things like we can pay people decent OR have full vacay benefits so they went with the latter? In my area they haven’t done this specifically that I’ve heard of but a lot of companies got rid of bonuses

      8. Anonymosity*

        Most of my jobs gave a week, but you had to work a year before you got it. No sick time at all. My old job gave two weeks the first year–I can’t recall when it started. At the time, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. My new job gives hours each pay period and full benefits started at thirty days. MUUUUUCH better.

      9. Nervous Accountant*


        I’m only getting 3 days this year but accruing more. most employees get 2 weeks that includes sick and vacation…:

      10. BAS*

        I find that 13-14 days PTO a year is very very common with the small businesses I work with doing their virtual HR. This includes sick time. But they also often have a generous holiday schedule and will consider leave on a case-by-case basis and/or allow for a deficit. The companies that have separated sick-leave usually give 10 vacation days.

        1. BAS*

          That all said, one of our miserly clients only gives her employee 4 PTO days a year. Period. No separate sick days.

      11. Recruiter*

        Low vacation time is the norm at our company, too, unfortunately. To earn 2 weeks of vacation a year, you have to work here for 5 years. Plus, no sick or personal days. So if you’re sick, you either come to work sick, or use a vacation day. The hourly employees accrue vacation hours each month, on average about 6. So they don’t even get a full day of vacation each month. Unfair? Absolutely. The norm? Eh, yeah.

      12. A*

        When I was an “entry level” employee who had been in the job for two years and working for 40 hours/week, my employer only offered me a week of PTO, which is an entire bank of sick and vacation time which needed to be earned.
        They did this by classifying me as “part time.” Obviously that meant that any health insurance rates were double what they offered full time employees.
        Check to make sure that they aren’t classifying you as such.

      13. Bridget*

        I’ve recently switched industries from nonprofits to hospitality. In three entry level nonprofit positions, I had an average of 20 PTO days. In hospitality, apparently it’s the norm to start with only five vacation days and I don’t think you get more until you’ve been with the company for THREE years. This came as a bit of a shock to me (though currently as a part-time hourly employee this doesn’t really affect me). I like the industry so far but I’m not sure I want to stay in an industry that gives such crappy vacation time. =\

      14. nonegiven*

        I think my son’s first year vacation time in Texas was 2 weeks, moving to 3 weeks later on. He was hired above entry level.

    2. Green*

      The minimum I’ve seen for any salaried job was two weeks, a handful of holidays and “unlimited” sick days. Now, to be fair, “unlimited” vacation often turns out to be about a week… (Plus year-end holidays).

      1. Judy*

        The minimum I’ve seen published in a company handbook is 2 weeks, but they usually have special rules for the first year. Either prorated by hire dates (hired July 1 = 1/2 of vacation) or no vacation until you’ve worked 3 months then prorated the rest of the year. One company normally gave vacation allotment at the start of the year, but for new hires gave it at the start of a quarter. Basically if you were hired Feb 1, you would get 2.5 on April 1, 2.5 on July 1 and 2.5 on Oct 1 during the first year.

      2. Kelly White*

        I’m on my third year at this company, so this year I get two weeks. No sick days. So, I have a weeks vacation scheduled, the company closed twice, and I had to take vacation days (or be unpaid, even though I’m salaried and exempt), my mom had emergency heart surgery, so I was out two days, leaving me with one day for the rest of the year.
        I am adopting a child, so I am holding on to that day for the actual adoption day in court.
        Crossing my fingers I don’t get sick between now and January!

    3. Stephanie*

      I got 10 days at a job and that was tough. I lived on the East Coast and would fly out to the Southwest to visit family at the holidays. That was a day of travel, even with a direct flight.

      I mean, there’s no statutory requirement in the U.S., but I can’t imagine they’re going to attract anyone but desparate people with that stingy of a policy. And even the desparate people are going to leverage their experience there and get the hell out eventually.

    4. Michelle*

      My employer, a smallish company part of a larger conglomerate, also offers a week of vacation per year. Granted I live in Hawaii, so when I took the job I just thought that was normal for the area.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I think it depends on the size of the company. My husband runs a very small business (fewer than 10 employees) and they all start out at a week per year. I think it’s because money is tight in general and they can’t really afford to do more than that. He’s been there over 20 years and he only gets 2 weeks. They try to make up for it when they can. During good years they’ll pay out a Christmas bonus, and on Fridays they do the weekly shop clean up and they’ll let everyone knock off a couple hours early.

      I worked for another very small business in college and their vacation policy was similar. Both are small manufacturing companies, so more of a blue collar environment. That may have something to do with it too – the norms may be different.

      1. AVP*

        This sounds pretty similar to my company. I’ve worked around it because I work on weekend days sometimes and those days transition into vacation that I can use (not an official policy, but I worked it out with my manager). I’m also really, really good at planning vacations for when my bosses will be out and work stops – no one seems to count any days if they’re not around to see my absence.

    6. Sunshine Brite*

      Yes, I was pretty surprised. I was jumping for joy at my current place that gave 2 weeks plus holidays. My previous position had nothing for the first year and like half the holidays.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        And that’s what I found to be pretty standard during my job search unfortunately.

    7. Lyssa*

      Are we sure that they’re not saying 1 week for this year (2015, which is almost half over)? It’s possible that the standard is really 2 weeks/year, and they just didn’t communicate it well.

      1. OriginalYup*

        That’s what I wondered as well. Perhaps it’s two weeks vacation but if an employee starts in June, they’re only going to accrue half of that, so effectively one week vacation in the ‘first year’ (which lasts six months), and the two weeks vacation starting January 1 of the next year.

    8. Lizabeth*

      I was always under the impression that vacation could be negotiable up to a point just like salary.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I think it depends on the company. Lots of places have a standard/maintain a standard supported by electronic systems that people at certain levels/years at company automatically earn a certain amount. These places often will not negotiate on vacation for fairness or for convenience.

      2. Lynn Whitehat*

        You can try. It’s not unheard of, like trying to negotiate different health insurance or something. Some companies just won’t do it. Others will. Still others will, but in a way that is never quite “official” or guaranteed, so you are one re-org away from having your extra vacation taken away.

      3. Windchime*

        I was able to negotiate vacation at my current company, but only to a certain point. I earn 6.3 (?) hours per pay period, so it’s always accumulating. At my previous job, I earned 8 hours per pay period but this job said that they never start anyone out at the max.

        After reading this thread, I think I’m lucky to have the 6.3 hours per pay period.

        1. BAS*

          That’s almost 19 days a year if you’re paid semi-monthly! I’d consider it decent, assuming you have a good holiday schedule as well.

      4. the gold digger*

        I have negotiated vacation in each of my most recent three jobs. They all wanted to start me out with new to the workforce vacations of two weeks and I pointed out that I am an experienced hire who has worked up to four weeks – that I should be given the same amount of vacation as someone at the company who has worked as long as I have.

        It has worked every time.

    9. Once Anon a Time*

      I worked for a small private company where you were not given any paid vacation days the first year of your employment (but we were given 3 paid sick days after six months). After your one year anniversary, you were given 5 paid vacation days. After 3 years, you were given 10, and that was the max given to any employee regardless of how long you worked there.

    10. Cordelia Naismith*

      I accrue 10 hours of vacation time and 8 hours of sick leave a month at my job. So my very first month working here, I didn’t have any leave time. Luckily, I didn’t need the sick leave, and I’m sure my managers would have worked something out with me if I had.

      That was fine with me. I mean, it would have been nice to have started out with at least a day’s worth of sick leave in the bank, but I certainly didn’t need any vacation time that first month. But that was just one month. I can’t imagine having to put up with that for an entire year!

    11. Valar M.*

      I was a little shocked too. In my field, its very common to label employees “contract” or “3/4 time” just to keep them off the books and not have to provide paid vacation or health insurance. I would just love a job that had any paid vacation (and for institutions to stop abusing their employees but that’s for another thread).

    12. librarianna*

      The first public library I worked at, we only had three personal days that we could take the first year, and I often had to work Saturdays. Now I work for a university, and the first year, I had no vacation and only two personal days. However, we have the week between Christmas and New Year’s off, plus all the major federal holidays. At least in the library world, it appears that starting with little to no vacation is the norm.

    13. LiteralGirl*

      One of the reasons to stay at my job – I currently have 26 days of PTO per year, 8 holidays and a floating holiday that must be used during the calendar year in which it is earned. This is allowing me to go to Europe with my hubby and kids for a month this summer.

    14. MegEB*

      Maybe it’s a regional thing? That’s honestly the only thing I can think of. My first full-time position (excluding temp work) after college offered three weeks right off the bat, not including sick time, personal days, and floating holidays. I recognize that’s higher than average, but I don’t know anyone who got less than two weeks. One week is awful.

      1. FJ*

        Might be an industry thing too… in my industry (vehicles/manufacturing), I got two weeks a year to start with, 3 weeks a year after 5 years. We also get standard holidays and a one week holiday shutdown for the whole company (factories included) at the end of the year. I’m also very lucky to have managers who are very flexible on vacation time, including fudging time and exchanging holidays for future long weekends. I took 3.5 weeks vacation earlier this year and it was an amazing break (I’m from the US).

        1. MegEB*

          I’m jealous of people whose offices shut down during the holidays. I work at a hospital, so it’s not really an option – not so much unfair as just part of the cost of doing my job :/ I’m getting the impression that 2 weeks is standard in most office jobs. I can’t even imagine only getting a week.

          1. The Strand*

            Meg, though, I am really grateful for you and your colleagues. Getting sick or injured over the holidays, it’s so good to know someone can help you.

            1. MegEB*

              Aw, thanks! Hospitals really do need to be staffed 24/7 though, so we don’t really mind. I can understand being cranky about having to work a holiday where your job doesn’t involve other peoples’ health or safety – I used to haaaate working major holidays as a waitress/bartender (although the money I made usually helped mitigate some of the complaining). But in some industries, working holidays is just part of the job description.

    15. Jennifer*

      Yeah, generally speaking the lower status your job is or your industry is, it’s gonna be a week. It was a week when I was a newspaper reporter.

      I feel sorry for my mom–she works for a small org and her bosses want to retire/lessen their responsibility, so they’re merging with a big company. Among other things, everyone’s going to one week of vacation a year with the new company policy. Blech.

    16. LizNYC*

      My first job gave you a week of vacation only after your first year there. It should have been the warning sign that told me “don’t work there.” Every other job has been 2 weeks to start (all in one bucket), with more accrued as the years increase (after 2 years = 1 more week, etc.)

    17. Retail Lifer*

      It’s completely normal in retail. We usually start out with one week, probably pro-rated to less based on what month you start, and 1-3 personal days, also based on when you start. After a year you get two weeks and after a few years you get another one. A lot of companies have taken away sick days, too, which means you get to come to work and deal with the public when you should be home resting.

      1. Lindsay J*

        That’s if you even get that!

        I was never classified as “full-time” when I worked retail (even though I generally worked 36-38 hours per week) so I never got any time off or benefits. And they acted like it was the end of the world when I tried to take an unpaid day off to go to the doctor’s or something. (And it’s not like I could schedule a doctor’s appointment on my days off because my schedule changed from week to week and I didn’t know when I was working until a few days beforehand.)

    18. SuzyQ*

      I started a new job last year and received zero vacation time in the first year and two personal days. I think it’s awful for me and my morale.

    19. Kyrielle*

      I’ve worked at the same company, under four different owners, over the years. The lowest tier in all that time has been that new, entry-level employees start at 2 weeks vacation + 6 sick days per year. Two weeks starting vacation seems to be pretty normal.

    20. Cari*

      Do you folks not have a legal requirement for holiday in the US?

      It’s 28 days minimum here in the UK for full-time (5 days a week) which, if I understand correctly, can either take into account the 8 bank holidays or the employer can add those on top (usually though, bank holidays are included).

      1 week holiday leave sounds ridiculously low and unfair :(

    21. ECH*

      At my job, it’s one day the first year, one week the second, two weeks in years 2-10 and three weeks after that. Finally made it to three weeks and only used one plus my three Christmas bonus days. *sigh* #salariedproblems

  2. Green*

    For #3, I would have tried to get severance in that situation. While trying to avoid burning bridges, ultimately LW should do what’s best for her; the company did what’s best for them already (by moving her job). I don’t think typical “quitting etiquette” applies when you’re essentially being discharged.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Yeah, I agree that she has some room here. They moved your job, and surely they were aware there was a good chance you wouldn’t be able to move. This is more like a layoff…be courteous, stay a month if you can do so without hurting other job options, and give 2 weeks notice if you get another offer.

    2. MK*

      But this isn’t really about “quitting etiquette” in general; the OP did actually agree as to when their last day would be. It would have been fine, I think, to warn the employer beforehand that they might leave sooner if they found a new job, but since they did commit, they should try to stick to the arrangement, unless there is serious reason othewise.

      On the other hand, it would be fine to discuss this with the company. I know that the notice period is usually for the employer’s benefit, but in this case it’s possible that they don’t really need the OP to work for another month and proposed this to minimise the OP’s loss of income/give her more time to find a new job.

      1. illini02*

        I think a “would be nice” and professional courtesy are different here. Her situation may change. Now if she gets and offer and can put it off for a month, that would be great. But if it comes down to them pulling the offer because they can’t wait that long to filling the position, she is under no professional obligation to stay at her current job

      2. OP #3*

        Thanks for the great insight, everybody! I’m absolutely willing to stay the duration of the month, if needed. However, this situation is really similar to what you bring up in your last paragraph. I have spent the last several weeks training colleagues on certain tasks, wrapping up loose ends, finishing up projects, etc. It’s gotten to the point where I feel that I could move on without causing any stress to company. Should I get a written offer (I haven’t yet), my plan is to offer to stay until the last day we planned on, but suggest that it might be best if I left sooner.

      3. Anna*

        The OP did agree, but they shouldn’t shoot themselves in the foot because of a polite agreement.

  3. ZSD*

    Could #4 use the fact that she isn’t costing the company anything for health insurance to argue for more vacation time instead? Or is that silly?

    1. Green*

      You can’t usually argue for “replacement” benefits because you decline to take advantage of other benefits, although some employers will offer a (very small) cash payment for those who have insurance through a spouse. For example, I got $25 per pay period for having alternate insurance. But that’s not really a negotiating lever to pull. If they have that policy, great. If not, it’s really not something they’re likely to institute. I’d try advocating for additional vacation time on its own merit (if LW hasn’t accepted the job yet) or during one-year review.

    2. Bagworm*

      And it’s really not smart for the business. At my previous employer, we had at least three different staff members who negotiated this way and in every case within six months of getting the higher salary the employee was on our benefit plan, too. So, they wound up with a higher salary (and we’re talking significantly, like $35k instead of $30k) and still having the same benefits. I don’t know if businesses could put some sort of restriction in place to limit that employee’s access to the benefits but, generally, if you offer the benefit to their peers, you may wade into some murky water if you try to deny it to certain others.

      1. Spiky Plant*

        This. I would never, personally, offer anything in exchange for not taking the health plan, because even if they decline it at hire, the employee *always* has the right to take it at open enrollment. And if you try to lower their salary in response, they might actually have a legal case (because you can’t punish employees for taking a healthplan that, in many cases now, you’re legally required to offer). I don’t think this stuff has been tested in courts since the ACA, and IANAL, but it’s extremely murky water to try to do it.

        1. Judy*

          I’ve worked at places that employees can decline the health insurance and get a small amount back, something like $500 during benefit enrollment. That’s much less than the “cost” of the insurance. That was also usually less than the “penalty” that you had to pay to put a working spouse with available insurance onto your insurance ($1000 in last job).

          My husband’s job will not put a spouse with available insurance on their insurance, period. My current company will not, either.

        2. Jaydee*

          Both my employer and my husband’s employer offer substantial “opt-out” payments or amounts that can be taken as salary or put toward insurance premiums for a family plan or better single plan. Both word it in such a way that it clearly is not part of salary (so if an employee later enrolls in the insurance or adds dependents or whatever, the employer can cut or reduce the payment without reducing the employee’s salary). Also both prorate the payment, so if you quit in February or enroll in the insurance in July you don’t get a windfall.

      2. Pomengranit Jewels*

        I don’t know if I agree that it is not “smart” for employers. There are so many factors that go into negotiation, and they clearly wanted that employee enought to pay $35 vs $30.

        I think a smart way to go about a benefit differential is the same way companies do shift differentials. If the employee declines benefits, apply the salary differential (I’ve typically seen 10%). If they take benefits, that flag is dropped. Considering that benefits typically cost ~ 30% of a salary, this is a great deal for the employer. It’s just like those who work the night shift sometimes get. If you go to day shift that flag is turned off and the “differential” ceases.

        1. Green*

          But there are transactional and administrative costs as well as legal risks that make it not “smart” for employers that go beyond wanting any one employee.

          1. Midnight Oil*

            What legal risks are inherent in a benefit differential that is not already being applied in a shift differential (e.g. paying those who work nights more than those working days)?

            It’s the same policy and process. Just have a benefit opt out that applies a differential. Apply it to the paycheck like Case of the Monday’s says.

            Your check would look like this:
            Base Pay
            Shift Differential Pay
            Benefit Differential Pay

            The “administrative costs” associated with this aren’t much if your company already does the shift differential, and the savings in turnover could make up for it.

      3. Case of the Mondays*

        Mine is listed on my paycheck has “health insurance stipend.” Essentially, it is cheaper for my employer to pay for me to be on my husband’s plan than it is for them to pay the employer share for me on their plan. If I switched to their plan, they would drop the health insurance stipend. It is very clear on my check and there is no way I could argue they “reduced my salary.”

        1. Lalaith*

          Same here – I have a line for “Regular” pay, and a line for “Benefit Allowance”. So it’s very clear what my actual salary is, and any changes to that would be separate from any changes to the insurance reimbursement.

        2. Rater Z*

          And the odds are that you are paying more for the family on your husband’s plan so the extra from your employer goes to pay that extra amount.

      4. Doreen*

        I ‘ve known of jobs where there is a policy to compensate employees for not taking insurance – but it’s a policy with a set payment , not open to negotiation. And it’s not an increase in salary – its a separate line on the paycheck just like a night differential or a geographic adjustment

    3. Retail Lifer*

      Wouldn’t fly in my industry. You get what you get and it’s not negotiable.

  4. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

    LW 2, I’m confused–did your manager specifically say, “oh are you going to take public transportation?” Because I would think he’d be worried you were going to quit from the way it is phrased in the letter. I am a bus commuter, and the logistics of my life often seem to confuse people. I would also be it didn’t occur to anyone that a 7am start out in the burbs for a 12 hour shift might start to affect staffing because, dum dum dum—people can’t get there on time!

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I was wondering if he was worried her bus would make her late. Or maybe the company is really pushing people to take public transit? I’m guessing maybe this is just a proxy for “I’m worried you won’t be here on time”?

      1. Kathlynn*

        Could also be thay the bus isn’t running yet. Where I love the buses don’t start running until 7am, and stop at about 10pm.

    2. M-C*

      Every time I’ve suffered through that kind of company move, something like a third of the company quit within a few months. When a company chooses irrelevant factors like the convenience of the CEO in selecting a new location, they shouldn’t be surprised at getting fallout. An easy commute has recently been shown to be a major factor in employee retention. It’s entirely possible that the manager knows this, may even be thinking of quitting themselves, and they’re looking for data such as “I expect us to lose up to n employees soon based on transportation problems” to present to management in trying to mitigate the effects of the move.

      I’d be totally direct with your manager – the fact that you had moved in order to be close to work, the fact that public transportation isn’t running when you need it, the fact that you don’t have a car of your own. Realistically, they can conclude that you’ll soon be looking for another job given the level of inconvenience this one now entails. But you can take the opportunity here to ask for a shift adjustment so that you can spend nearly 2h a day more on trying to continue working :-(. It’s the least they can do for you.. Or even ask for a raise to cover the additional costs of car ownership?

  5. Advances, None Miraculous*

    OP#1 – wonderful employee engaging in legal activity that doesn’t affect her job at all? Pretty much answered your own question there, but it does raise a couple more about the person who brought the issue to your attention.

    What’s their motivation for doing so, and how on earth would someone who finds adult entertainment objectionable enough to put a coworker’s livelihood at risk be stumbling across that material to begin with? Unfortunately I think Alison’s comments about potential harassment might be right on the money here.

    1. Green*

      +1. There are some jobs for which an adult entertainment side gig might impact one’s job (particularly odd-fetish side gigs), but if this isn’t one of them, then it’s not really the company’s business.

      1. AT*

        Although I’m inclined to say that even most odd fetishes can be indulged in a person’s own private time in a way that doesn’t impact on their work at all, so long as the person is responsible and safe about it.

        As an example, I have a friend who works in IT in an office building. She sits at her desk and does her job Monday to Friday, she’s a valued employee who’s been there for many years, she gets bonuses for good work, she’s never had office conflicts…and she happens to be a feedist. (And just to clarify, she’s not like one of those people out of a Louis Theroux documentary – she’s quite lean and very healthy.) She sits down in front of a webcam on Saturdays and scarfs down two whole pizzas or whatever it is, for ladies and gentlemen of similar interests overseas who send her money to buy some books or something nice. And you’d never know…but really, who /cares/ if the anonymous, non-public-facing IT assistant has a private life?

    2. FiveByFive*

      I must say, I’m quite surprised about the responses here. I believe most employers would have a huge issue with this.

      Is it because the site is “nude” but not “porn”? Because if we had $1 for every porn outlet that called itself “art” or “tasteful” etc, we’d all be rich. OP states that we don’t truly know the nature of the website.

      This is a healthcare facility. Be honest – if you found out your doctor, or your dentist, spent his spare time scrounging up images of nude girls to put on his website, you really wouldn’t be disgusted and change doctors? This company runs a huge risk by allowing this woman to run this site.

      There’s also a huge risk if it turns out any of the photos, even accidentally, involve people who are under-age or “revenge” photos or anything that doesn’t have explicit consent.

      This seems a little askew… :-O

      1. katamia*

        I can see both sides. On the one hand, I don’t think there’s anything immoral or unethical in the website (based off OP’s description, assuming it’s accurate). On the other hand, I also know I’m more liberal about this than a lot of people, and if it’s easy to identify her as the owner of the website and patients found out (it’s not clear who told OP, so maybe some already did), they might not feel comfortable going there if they think it’s immoral.

        1. katamia*

          Pressed reply too soon. I know a lot of authors who write books with a lot of sex in them (some porn, too), and they’re very careful to keep that part of their lives separate from their day jobs, which the employee here may or may not be doing. But one of them was working as a teacher for awhile, and if the school she worked for had found out, I’m sure there could have been problems (she’s in a different country, so I’m not sure exactly what the consequences would/could have been).

          1. Stephanie*

            That makes me think of Allison Janney as the principal from 10 Things I Hate About You. And now I’m giggling.

            But I do hate that teachers seem to be held up to this insanely high saint-level moral standard (like when a teacher gets fired for posing with a beer on social media). I’m sure she wasn’t reading drafts of her novel to her students, but it’s just mind-boggling that there could be an issue with something done completely on her own time.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              I know, I think it’s ridiculous too. Why should a teacher not be allowed to let his or her hair down and have a good time? Good lord, I volunteer in my daughter’s classroom one morning a month, and even after that I feel like I could use a cocktail!

              If a teacher was coming to work intoxicated, or really hungover, that of course would be an issue. But just doing what many of the rest us do in our off time shouldn’t be grounds for dismissal.

            2. BRR*

              My mind sometimes works too quickly and after “That makes me think of Allison Janney” I was like, does she have a secret porn career? which would have been amazing.

              But yeah I hate when people are help up to ridiculously high standards especially when it doesn’t even matter. It’s really two parts. A) what does it matter? and B) Why are people holding people to such standards in the first place. I think your example is a perfect situation of people being ridiculous.

            3. RG*

              I think it’s one of those obvious rules that gets turned into zero tolerance policies. Like recently, there was a teacher in Houston that was part of a podcast in her spare time that tended to rail against minorities – she and the other hosts did it. Now this is Houston, so odds are there are minority children in her classes, and it’s reasonable to say that her off-time activities raises concerns about her job capability. But you can’t blindly take that approach to everything, it has to be tailored to the case.

          2. It's tired, and I'm late*

            Smiling here because over 5pm beers last Friday, a colleague I’d previously thought of as “very nice, but a bit dull, bless him” confided that he writes self-published erotica in his spare time. He’s making $20k a year! My only reaction was “good for you, man!” And I no longer thing he’s dull.

            (He did not offer to tell me his pen name, and I did not ask. Boundaries…)

      2. Lionness*

        I don’t think anyone should have an issue with this. What I do on my time, while not representing my company in any fashion, so long as it is legal and does not impact my ability to do my job is my business, not my employer’s.

        So yes, this means, professional athletes, very public employees, executives and so-called role models that misbehave on their own time should be held to account (because they are intrinsically tied to the company brand) but little ol’ me that no one outside my company has ever heard of? Nah. What I do is my business so long as I don’t make it that of my company.

        1. sunny-dee*

          Oh, that is so far from realistic! I have lived in small cities (~50,000) and smaller, and straight up if “lil ol you” got outed as running a nude picture website, yes, it would be recognized and reflect on your employer as well as you. That can be true even in large cities. And then there’s the whole issue of the kind of health care facility — I can see it being a problem in, say, pediatrics, or if it’s a religious hospital, or even geriatrics.

          1. Lionness*

            Why would an adult with a nude website containing other consenting adults ever be an issue in pediatrics?

            Because other adults like to pretend humans aren’t sexual? That is their own problem.

            Also, I live in a small town and … nope. If it had nothing to do with someone’s job I’d never even think of what they do as a day job when I found out they ran a porn site.

            1. nona*

              So, I’m saying this from a conservative southern state. Maybe if I lived somewhere else I wouldn’t see this.

              But when a lot of people get together and pitch a fit about something, they make it your problem. For example, the customers of your store. The patients of your medical practice. A lot of things that shouldn’t be issues for anyone still are.

              1. Lionness*

                But overall, a lot of people most likely wouldn’t throw a fit. The problem is, too many people act on the assumption that it *might* happen, when in reality – it probably won’t.

                Also, as Alison says downthread – I wish employers would stop reacting to the insanity of customers in the extreme.

              2. fposte*

                Sure, that can happen. But I think firing somebody because people *might* have a problem with them is not a step to be taken lightly–there’s a whole lot of horrible stuff an employer can do for that reason, and while the law forbids a lot of it, there’s plenty of it left over. If you have only ten employees, it would be legal for you to fire an employee with a badly scarred face for fear customers wouldn’t respond well to seeing him, or tell the black person you hired sight unseen that you won’t be able to keep her on because you think it might hurt your business. And of course in lots of places you could fire your gay employees because you’re worried about what customers might think.

                1. nona*

                  I agree, and I wouldn’t suggest firing her. I wouldn’t suggest doing anything about it at all.

                  I live in one of those places and am an LGBT employee.

            2. INTP*

              If (and this is a big if) the employee is a doctor, therapist, or other type of provider that a patient might google before choosing, AND their name is linked to the website, then it wouldn’t take an extremely conservative person who refuses to acknowledge that adults are sexual to impact business. People decide which doctors to see based on a few results from a google search. If I’m looking for a new gynecologist and they have equivalent reviews and one runs a porn site and one doesn’t, I’m going with the one that doesn’t run the porn site. When you’re in a job where you are frequently googled, then maintaining a clean and professional google profile to the best of your ability is part of the job.

              If the website is not connected to the person’s name and it would take some digging to figure out the connection, or if the person is not in a public-facing role, that’s a different matter. To me it would depend on how the reporter found out and how easily clients might find out. It only takes one crazy person to find out, get really mad, and put the information all over healthcare review sites, yelp, social media, etc, even if most of the patients wouldn’t care, so I don’t think it’s intrusive for an employer to be bothered by this.

              1. Lionness*

                I guess I just really don’t get why their porn site would ever play into deciding what doctor to see?

                I choose my doctors for their credentials, reviews, proximity to me and availability to schedule. I don’t care what else they do.

              2. BeautifulVoid*

                Well, one could argue that the gynecologist who is also running the porn site has even more experience with that particular part of the anatomy….

                1. BeautifulVoid*

                  And I JUST realized that this isn’t part of today’s posts, and is a result of all my clicking through back posts. Sorry for commenting on something so ancient!

          2. Mike C.*

            That’s a rather odd expectation, considering that pediatric patients are a direct result of sex.

        2. Allison*

          I do agree that it kind of depends on the nature of their work and whether they’re visible or not. If they’re a public figure, they’re gonna be held to a high standard. If you live in a small town, people talk, and you need to be careful. If you were a doctor and people could find the site by doing a simple Google search on your name, you’d also need to be careful. If you just *work* in a healthcare facility, or any workplace where the only people who know your full name are your co-workers, you’re probably safe.

          People don’t typically run full name searches on everyday employees on a company to dig up dirt, and people don’t usually search for information on people who run adult websites just to see where they work for the sake of getting them in trouble. I’m not saying it never happens, but someone would need to be extremely vindictive and have a lot of free time on their hands in order to pull something like that.

        3. Random*

          Totally agreed. It probably helps that I have a personal stake in how employers handle this kind of info…
          It’s funny how varied the interpretations are on what this woman has on her site. I instantly imagined the kind of stuff Vogue and other fashion companies put in their magazines and ads. Nearly nude ladies with bits of couture. Maybe this woman does fashion photography in her spare time?

      3. Lionness*

        Oh and to answer your question…no, I would not be disgusted and I would not change doctors. Because sexuality is part of being human and that is a reality that I accept.

        1. sunny-dee*

          I disagree. I changed doctors when I found out that the one I had visited had dumped his wife for his younger nurse. I don’t care if it’s “part of being human.” That’s not one of the good parts.

          1. Saurs*

            You… can’t disagree with what Lionness would hypothetically do in such a situation. Bully for you, but removing your patronage from a doctor because that doctor ended a relationship has nothing to do with sexuality; you had a moral or ethical objection and acted on it. Most clients wouldn’t.

          2. TheLazyB*

            That’s not the same thing at all!

            Also did you tell him why?! Because if not, it will have made no difference to his behaviour.

            And probably if you did, too :(

          3. Lionness*

            You disagree with what I would do because you did something different?

            And again, when it comes to doctors, I want to know that they are medically capable of treating me. As long as their outside behavior is legal I don’t care about it. I want them to treat me. Everything else is their business – not mine.

            I’m going to take a guess and say you either are, or were raised (or live in an area that heavily is) religious. Evangelical?

          4. Allison*

            I might do the same thing in your situation, but if I knew my doctor was writing erotic novels or posting tasteful, nude pictures online I probably wouldn’t make any changes if he or she was a good doctor. Changing doctors is tough, and I’d really only do it if I didn’t like the way my doctor was treating me, or if I was uncomfortable being around him or her.

          5. Amtelope*

            You can’t disagree with the fact that some people wouldn’t change doctors if they found out they were running a site with nude photos. Some of us wouldn’t, because we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. You’re free to disapprove of whatever you want to disapprove of. Please don’t project your attitudes onto the rest of us.

          6. Marcela*

            But that’s different. In one case, you had moral objections, plus it’s possible not to cheat or exchange a wife for a newer model (the horrible way my FIL put it, not thinking about why somebody would want him, a very old model). In the other… well, I can’t pretend my doctor is never nude or looking a nude people (even without websites involved, it’s more probable than not that my doctor has seen somebody naked in a non-professional setting).

        2. Stitch*

          I had a doctor once who really impressed me when I was trying to get an IUD by talking about recent literature, studies, and medical fads when we discussed my best option. I love doctors who are up on the latest science, especially when it’s changed so much.

          He was so knowledgeable and professional for the matter. If I’d found out he ran an adult website, or wrote erotica, or really anything that he keeps separate from his work, I would not change my opinion of him. As it stands, he tried to strike up a conversation (while we were waiting to make sure I didn’t have a bad immediate reaction) about the best places to get a beer in my hometown (known for its breweries) when I was under 21, but that did not change my opinion of him. People sometimes slip up. No harm, no foul.

      4. Gene*

        In answer to your question, nope.

        I personally have no problem with it and wouldn’t even if it were actual porn and not just nudes.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yeah, I think there’s a tendency to assume that far more people would have a problem with it than actually do, and then you get people making decisions because “customers will care” when in fact plenty of customers will not care. That’s not to say no customers will care (although it’s worth keeping in mind that some customers will also object to other things that are none of their business too) but I think it’s a lot fewer than people often assume.

          (Personally, I’d like to see employers decide what’s reasonably customers’ business and decline to cater to the rest of it, come what may.)

          1. FiveByFive*

            Maybe the distinction here would be if the site is exploitive or not?

            If you found out your doctor was going to college campuses encouraging girls to strip for him and posting the pictures, that would fall under sexuality as well, and be acceptable?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I’m not arguing that anything related to sexuality is inherently off-limits for judging. But someone posting nude photos of herself (which is how I read the question, although I realize it could be a more expansive site than that)? I could care less; it has zero bearing on her ability to prepare my invoice and schedule my next appointment, or whatever her job is at this health care facility. Why would I care?

              1. FiveByFive*

                Oh OK; that’s possible. That wasn’t how I read it. I guess we need to know more about the site. “Adult site” with “nudity” could mean a lot of things.

                1. Elkay*

                  Yeah I imagin it could be running a site as a manager i.e. no pictures of her (so patients won’t say “That’s the naked lady I saw on the internet”), running a site with just pictures of her or running a site with pictures of her and others. Also I read nudity as not necessarily nude but like the movie ratings “contains partial nudity”.

              2. Green*

                The other issue is that the manager *in the question* has explicitly stated that it has zero bearing on her work.

                If she were a nurse who had a naughty-nurse website or a pediatrician with a barely-legal site (or any thousands of other variations on the theme), then it may be reasonable for a manager to determine that it’s a problem. But the *reason* it would be a problem is that it would interfere with their work. As in, customers/clients could have *objectively* reasonable concerns, not just subjective idiosyncratic concerns.

                1. Cheesecake*

                  It would be a concern if an employee took pictures on company’s premises/during work hours/with company’s logo or mentioning the company. All of this, however, would affect her work or would at least be noticed by mgmt or customers. And none is. So why bother? But i’d take a look at the website anyway :)

                2. Jamie*

                  I agree that if the theme were like the ones you mentioned it would be creepy and weird me out.

                  If I were the employer my concern would be how it was found. If she told someone or they did exceptional digging, then it’s her private business (assuming it’s all legal and not line skating) but if it was say linked to a site or a page where she also talked about her employer by name then yeah…I’d question the judgement of someone not drawing the distinction to keep that very separate online.

              3. Sally*

                As the OP, I’m glad to see that everyone agrees that it does not have any bearing on her job, just as I thought too. The new problem is that she lied to me and other employees. When this was first brought to my attention by an anonymous email, she insisted it is not her and I believed her. She acted very victimized and even told other employees about it and lied to them also. We all felt bad for her and tried to help her get legal help. We have since learned that it really is her, she has had this website for years. So the lying is more of issue than the actual website!

                1. MegEB*

                  Can you blame her, though? If I was running an adult website and my employer put me on the spot about it, I’d be tempted to lie too in order to protect my job. And before anyone accuses me of condoning lying, I’m not, but there are some circumstances where I can empathize with a person’s actions even if it wasn’t the best thing to do. Why did you even bring it up with her in the first place, if it wasn’t affecting her job at all?

                2. AMT*

                  I don’t blame her for lying. I’m guessing that it was initially brought up in a way that made her think her job might be in danger. I imagine that she didn’t feel like she could come clean after that, either out of embarrassment or because she thought she could still be fired. If I were you, I would drop it. Her lie harmed no one and didn’t affect her job performance. I would lie, too, if I thought I would be fired for what I did in my private life!

                3. Nina*

                  IA with MegEB; she probably lied because she’s afraid of losing her job.

                  When you offered to get her legal help, did she willingly accept it, or did she just say she would take care of it on her own?

                4. Saurs*

                  She’s not obligated to talk to you about her after-work activities, and it was not your business or her colleagues’ business to confront her about them. You put her in this position.

                5. Nerdling*

                  You’re upset that she lied about the perfectly legal thing that people on here have stated they would fire or stop using her services for? I would think that’s a pretty darned acceptable reason for understanding why she didn’t want to tell the truth — she suddenly had to worry that this perfectly legal thing she did on the side was going to cost her her job.

                6. Sally*

                  I’m sorry that my response is taken out of context. I did not ‘confront’ her. I told her about the email out of concern that someone was trying to do something illegal to her (defamation of character). I was truly concerned for her welfare. I did not confront her in an accusing way and completely assured her that it did not affect her job. I understand lying to save your job but then why go tell other employees that you are being victimized when they would have never known that it happened if she didn’t fabricate a story. This would have never left my office.

              4. Lionness*

                I agree here. If the site is exploitative in any way, or illegal, I think it can possibly change my opinion because it calls into question the judgement of the site operator. But adults that know what is going on and fully consent? Nah. No one’s business but that that run the site, are on the site and view the site.

                1. Hiring Mgr*

                  It seems there’s a bit of a libertine attitude in some of the comments which I find unsettling. There’s a reason Caligula did not last long as emperor of Rome.

                2. Natalie*

                  Yes, Caligula was a Suicide Girl and the Roman Empire fired him because they thought their customers would care.

                3. fposte*

                  @HiringMgr–I was thinking about equivalent situations, and it’s tough to find a conservative version of this that isn’t about condemning people in a way that could be illegal in the workplace. But what if she legally spanked her child and posted about it on parenting websites? What if she sent her child away to a Christian reeducation camp? Those affect her co-workers about as much as if she was a webcam girl (or did graphic design for a camera site, since we don’t actually know what she does), and many people would find those actions abhorrent. Do you think it would be okay for a good employee to be fired for those things?

                4. Hiring Mgr*

                  I don’t know what a Christian re-education camp is, but it sounds awfully un-camp like, and therefore not fun. I associate camp with sports, swimming, boating, crafts, campouts, bonfires etc…

                5. fposte*

                  @Hiring Mgr–they’re basically Fix My Bad Teenager with God camps. Kids rarely go willingly. My guess is there’s a dearth of s’mores.

                6. Jamie*

                  @Hiring Mgr–they’re basically Fix My Bad Teenager with God camps. Kids rarely go willingly. My guess is there’s a dearth of s’mores.

                  No smores? Talk about harsh temporal punishment.

                7. RMRIC0*

                  Caligula didn’t last long as the Roman Emperor because he started offing powerful people on a whim. Had a longer run than a whole host of other emperors though.

              5. Kelly L.*

                This. I don’t read it as sleazily scrounging up pictures of other people without their consent–I read it as posting pictures of herself, or a cam of herself, or something. One is exploitative and does have implications about the person’s character, the other is not.

                1. fposte*

                  Yeah, I was thinking webcam. Doesn’t mean I’m right, but that seems to be the common individual female entrepreneur business.

            2. a*

              For me, exploitative would definitely be a problem, but that doesn’t have to do with whether it’s sexual or not. A website that doxxed people would put me off too.

              1. Nashira*

                I would be far more upset by a doxxing website, since that involves direct harm to other people. Glamour photos or even more explicit pornography, so long as it’s all legal, is just not my business.

              2. Jamie*

                IMO if it was proven someone was doxxing people that would absolutely be grounds for dismissal in a healthcare setting. Lack of regard for privacy of others should have zero tolerance when they have access to sensitive information.

          2. FiveByFive*

            And Alison I do agree with you in the general principle; I don’t like companies being hyper-reactive in fear of their customers in most matters. But in this case I’d need to know more.

            Maybe this issue is like porn itself – hard to define but you know it when you see it :)

          3. BRR*

            “I think there’s a tendency to assume that far more people would have a problem with it than actually do”

            I think people are even outraged because society gets outraged at this sort of thing. I alway think of how many people enjoy adult material versus how big a deal it is to find out that somebody poses nude.

            Whenever there is a question like this I always think, “So what?”

            1. Stephanie*

              Yeah, it’s hypocritical. It’s like “Clearly…you’re consuming it. You didn’t just hear faint strains of Def Leopard out in public and just stumble across your kid’s algebra teacher stripping, you were at the strip club, enjoying it and then saw her.”

                1. Stephanie*

                  I don’t know if it’s on Netflix anymore, but there was an interesting documentary called “After Porn Ends” (or something along those lines) about porn stars’ careers after the industry (spoiler alert: the men fared much better than the women). One of the female actresses went into real estate and had to leave as buyers would recognize her. But then, it’s like “That’s hypocritical…you consumed it and recognized her. Only way you’d recognize her is you watched the movie.”

              1. PlainJane*

                Must correct the spelling of the name of my favorite band of all time: it’s Def Leppard, folks :-)

            2. Lionness*

              Right! People act like no one views porn. Porn doesn’t make billions of dollars a year from no one watching it, folks.

            3. fposte*

              I think you’re right–people get bent out of shape because they feel they’re supposed to. And also employers in situations like these often go to the “we don’t mind, but other people dealing with us might not be as broad-minded” place. Which is kind of bogus.

          4. INTP*

            It only takes one really irate customer to figure something out and post it all over social media (I definitely read yelp before choosing a doctor, I don’t know about everyone else) to mar the company’s google presence, though. Even people who aren’t specifically anti-porn might be affected by someone posting a rant about the mean incompetent nurse being a porn star on the side when choosing between seemingly equivalent healthcare options.

            That said, it would have to be an employee that a customer would have enough contact with to become irate at and google their name for it to be reasonable for the employer to care. That’s pretty much limited to doctors, nurses, and receptionists (not that receptionists signed up for a “clean google presence” type of job, but they’re on the frontlines of scheduling, billing, and other stressful parts of the medical experience and get a lot of blame when those things go wrong).

            1. Anon for this*

              And in that situation, I think they would lose my business at “the mean, incompetent nurse” regardless of whether she also is a porn star or an interior designer or a sailboat owner or a lacrosse player or a foster ‘parent’ for homeless kittens or a youth pastor or a terrible driver or a shady landlord or a Scrabble champion or ….

      5. Mike C.*

        As long as it’s legal and doesn’t create a conflict of interest, it’s none of the employer’s business.

        Yes, I can see why a lot of employers would want to know, but being an insufferable prude isn’t a valid business justification.

      6. Anonymous123*

        “Be honest – if you found out your doctor, or your dentist, spent his spare time scrounging up images of nude girls to put on his website, you really wouldn’t be disgusted and change doctors?”

        Honestly, no. I don’t care. Why should I?

      7. Valar M.*

        “There’s also a huge risk if it turns out any of the photos, even accidentally, involve people who are under-age or “revenge” photos or anything that doesn’t have explicit consent.”

        Slippery slope fallacy.

        1. FiveByFive*

          How can you claim it’s slippery slope unless you presume to know the nature of the site?

      8. neverjaunty*

        “Scrounging up”? “Revenge porn”? Begging the question a bit, aren’t we?

        No, I wouldn’t care at all if my healthcare provider ran an “adult glamour” website with pictures of models or other consenting adults. Why should I?

          1. FiveByFive*

            It does say adult glamor. I’m just saying I would need more info before making a blanket statement that there are no character or moral issues. “Drunk college girls gone wild” is legal too, but can fairly be called into question as bad taste.

      9. Anon for this*

        By the fact that it’s stated to be nude pictures, not porn, my guess is that it’s something like naked photography, the sort of thing that’s meant to look at the human body in the same way that something like some of the Renaissance art would. Mind you, there’s always going to be the undercurrent of sexuality there, because nakedness and sex are just very linked in the average person’s mind.

        Since she’s said to run it, not just host it, there’s a good chance she’s active in arranging the shoots. Most niche adult sites like that that I know are actually very careful about consent and making sure everyone is of age, because there tends to be more scrutiny than on big porn collection sites, where usually there are layers of lawyers preventing anyone responsible from getting into any real trouble.

      10. Jennifer*

        Eh, we used to have an employee who did boudoir photography. The reason I know this is because when she quit, she left behind her business paperwork–and a printed business card in our cardmaking machine (which was more of a no-no). We thought it was hilarious that she didn’t bother to clean that out before quitting, but she spontaneously quit a week and a half into her two weeks notice, so….

      11. Elizabeth West*

        A couple of my books have quite explicit sex in them. One scene in Secret Book takes place between two seventeen-year-olds. I guess that makes me an immoral pornographer. :P

        No one at work sees these, and they have nothing to do with my work life. I don’t write under my real name anyway. If they are published and anyone asks, of course I’d warn the person that they have some naughtiness in them (I work with some people who are very Christian). That alone would probably cause them to steer clear. If not, their perception of me and what I write is not my problem. Losing my job over it would tell me that my company and I have different priorities.

        I really don’t think anyone here gives a flying f*ck at a rolling doughnut hole what I do when I’m not at work.

      12. Anna*

        The question is, how would I have found out? If it was randomly, then I just keep it to myself. Although every time I look at them I think, “I KNOW WHAT YOU DO!” But then I know people in my private life that I have that internal conversation about anyway. If I went looking at what turns me on and found out, well…I should pretty much keep that to myself anyway. Basically the answer is: none of your business if it doesn’t directly affect your health, well-being, or safety.

      13. Brandy*

        Yes but also any one I come into contact with can be watching any amount of porn at night at home. What’s so different between watching porn and making it really?? I don’t care what my dr does in his personal time.

    3. Snoskred*

      I have to agree with Advances, None Miraculous on this – why is the person who raised this bringing it to your intention? Do they have an ulterior motive here?

      I worked in a place where the company was owned by two people in their 70’s, and one of the employees was spreading a rumour that they were living a swinger lifestyle.

      It is the only time in my life where I have sent an anonymous email to an employer. I didn’t want to embarrass them or myself by telling them personally, but I did want them to know what was going on.

      I got the feeling this employee was simply saying this in order to get attention for herself but it was nasty to watch her spread this rumour, especially when she would spread it to younger male coworkers. I’m assuming they must have spoken with her about it, because once I sent the email, that rumour was never heard again from the person who loved to spread it, not even when we got some new employees.

    4. FiveNine*

      All you have to do is look at the headlines — people lose their jobs everyday for things they do on social media or off work time. Something like this easily could become an issue, depending on what field or sector or whether the organization works with small kids etc.

      1. Lionness*

        I don’t get this. Why are people who work with small children banned from engaging in sexual activities that involve adults?

        Also, the question is whether or not it should, not will an employer freak out over nothing and overreact to the possibility that some evangelical will get their knickers in a knot.

        1. blackcat*

          When I was looking for teaching work, I noticed that many (public and private) school contracts had clear morality clauses that banned things like living with a member of the opposite sex. I’m not sure how many institutions actually enforced that, but morality clauses for folks who work with children aren’t unheard of. I was looking for work in a liberal -ish part of the south.

          [Not to say it’s fair! or okay! just that it’s not uncommon]

          1. Mike C.*

            So a teacher can never have a child with their spouse? Where in the hell is that considered immoral?

            1. Kelly L.*

              In the bad old days, a teacher couldn’t even get married! They were too afraid the teacher would then get pregnant and lead to awkward questions from the kids. I bet blackcat is talking about unwed cohabitation, though–not that I approve of that restriction either.

              1. Mike C.*

                Right, but it’s 2015. Outside of some whackjob private school, what sort of employer would think it appropriate to control their employee’s lives in such a manner?

                1. blackcat*

                  More than you’d think. Particularly when it’s about wanting (mostly) women to be held up as paragons of virtue for kids.

                  True fact: Upon the graduation of her daughter, a mother told me that she appreciated that my unmarried SO and I had been an example of a healthy relationship for her daughter. My SO helped me out with the extra curricular that the girl participated in all four years of high school, so she knew him. The mom had remained single, and the dad had had on the order of 10 “serious” girlfriend. So apparently my living-in-sin relationship was one of the most stable relationships that girl got to see as a teen. +1 for living in sin and my employer not caring! But also +1 for a teacher’s personal life being seen as an example for kids. Which is less good.

              2. neverjaunty*

                Not true! Teachers were allowed to get married, they were just expected to quit first.

            2. fposte*

              I think blackcat meant living with a member of the opposite sex without benefit of marriage.

              1. Mike C.*

                Without the benefit of marriage?! I’m getting the vapors just thinking about it!

                1. fposte*

                  I know–I just keep saying “I swan” and “Well, I declare” over and over. Fortunately, I wore my pearls today and can clutch them.

                  (Wonder what happens to a son living with his mother?)

                2. MegEB*

                  I’ll pull out a fainting couch for you.

                  But seriously, I live in MA, which is generally considered pretty darn liberal. But we do have a ton of Catholic schools in the area, and many of them either had or still have morality clauses for their teachers, which include restrictions on their social media presence. A good friend of mine got fired for a picture she had on Facebook. The whole thing is wildly hypocritical, and always manages to target women more than men.

                3. Jamie*

                  But we do have a ton of Catholic schools in the area, and many of them either had or still have morality clauses for their teachers, which include restrictions on their social media presence. A good friend of mine got fired for a picture she had on Facebook. The whole thing is wildly hypocritical, and always manages to target women more than men.

                  I’m not saying the Pope would sign off on every life choice I’ve ever made, but IMO it’s different for religious schools. If you take a job where part of the gig is representing and teaching certain tenets but it’s easy for the kids to find evidence online of you not abiding by them that can be confusing and parents would be justifiably angry in spending all that cash (and parochial tuition is a huge commitment) to put their kid in an school in keeping with their beliefs to end up having to explain why Teacher says one thing but posts another.

                  It’s any religion – if your Hebrew school teacher taught you the importance of keeping kosher and their facebook was filled with them eating bacon cheeseburgers, or a fundamentalist Christian academy where teachers enforced modest dress because of their faith but had pics of themselves with their real name in hotpants and halter tops, or Muslim teachers who warn against drinking alcohol posting pics doing keg stands.

                  As a Catholic kid I’d have been shocked to see a nun in cut offs slamming down shots of Jager and it would have caused me to call all kinds of things into question…it’s less impactful (probably) but the same principle for lay teachers.

                  When you take a job in a religious institution you have to make sure you can live my the moral clauses publicly and be able to accept the ramifications if you slip up.

                4. Mike C.*

                  Yeah, I get that on an academic level, it’s just really difficult to believe that employers regularly mandate such things in 2015.

                  As for your nun, wouldn’t shots of Jager be the perfect drink? The label is a direct reference to Saint Hubertus and Saint Eustace after all. :p

            3. blackcat*

              I should have specified: spouses were okay. It was the living in sin that was unacceptable.

              1. Lionness*

                Right because heaven forbid we treat women as anything other than property (because that is the rationale behind this whole idea – women belonged to their father before marriage and husbands after so “living in sin” was taking a father’s and husband’s property from him).


                1. Jamie*

                  I don’t think that was the sin – at least not ime. I thought the sin was the implication that they were having sex outside of marriage.

                  Not my judgement, mind you, I’m a fan of test driving living arrangements before signing up because forever is a long time and divorce sucks – but at least in my circles it had nothing to do with being property and everything to do keeping up the facade of virginity before marriage.

                2. Lionness*

                  Right, but the reason it was a sin is because a woman’s body belonged to her father and then her husband. This is clear when you look at the consequences for men vs. women. It was expected that men had sex outside of marriage. It was sinful and shameful for women.

                3. fposte*

                  I don’t think it’s that simple–it’s not universally agreed that it’s okay for men to shack up, and there are situations where men do get in trouble for this (see, for instance, non-cohabitation clauses in child custody orders). Certainly in teaching it’s the women who seem to suffer the most professional consequences–I have no idea whether that’s out of proportion to their numbers in the teaching profession or not, though.

                4. Lionness*

                  fposte, I’m talking about ye olden days, not modern days. While the rules technically forbade men from premarital sex as well they were never punished to the same degree as women. For a good while of human history women were killed (and in some places, still are) for having sex outside of marriage. On an anthropological level it all came down to who owns a woman’s body and it was never the woman.

                  It gets more complicated in modern times, but it is still wildly unequal but for mildly different reasons (some misguided vision of “virtue”).

          2. Int*

            Of the opposite sex? So homosexuality’s fine, then?

            Not that it shouldn’t be, of course.

            1. blackcat*

              I think homosexuality was unmentionable, covered in the “other immoral acts” caveat at the end. :)

              All joking aside, I’d rather have an employer have such a clause up front if they’re going to put their noses in your personal life. Then at least you know to back far, far away from the job!

          3. TheLazyB*

            I find that so weird. I was born in the mid 70s and I’ve seen such a change in attitudes around this. I remember Bon Jovi singing ‘living in sin’ and… that was a thing. But then very suddenly, it wasn’t.

            I find it hard to believe that schools are still trying to uphold that standard. Catholic schools, maybe, but even then I would just expect them to want you to be discreet.

            FWIW, I live in England. (The rest of the UK not necessarily the same – particularly thinking of Northern Ireland – which is why I’m being specific for once.)

          4. the gold digger*

            I know someone who was fired from his high school teaching job when he was busted for soliciting a prostitute. He had a morals clause in his contract, so he couldn’t say he didn’t know.

            1. blackcat*

              I ended up working at a pretty liberal private school, and I had a clause saying I could be fired for committing “felonies and certain misdemeanors.” It specifically said traffic violations were fine (unless you were driving the a school owned vehicle), but something like misdemeanor-level assault was not. And I was 100% fine with that! That makes sense–I wouldn’t want someone with a history of assaulting people to be teaching my child, either.

              I’m pretty sure soliciting a prostitute AND GETTING CAUGHT would be in the fireable category, because that could bring bad publicity to the school. I’m okay with crimes being fireable offenses for certain types of jobs where you work with vulnerable populations.

      2. Natalie*

        I’m confused by this comment. Because some people are fired for things they do on social media or off work time, the letter writer should do the same? Why? I mean, if all your friends were jumping off a bridge and whatnot.

      3. Anna*

        Your missing something huge about that, though. People don’t lose their jobs because it’s an actual problem and affects the safety, health, or well-being of the people they work with; they lose their jobs because we tend to conflate what you do in your private life with what you do in your professional life. It would only become an issue if the OP wanted it to become an issue, not because it is an issue in and of itself. This is the snake eating its own tail.

    5. Oryx*

      I have a friend who does burlesque and works as a nanny. She was very upfront with her current working family about it, the mother is a big supporter and will give her days off for shows and such.

      Shortly after my friend started working for them, another mother somehow found out and called my friend’s employer to tell her their nanny did burlesque. The woman already knew and luckily took a “Yeah, so?” attitude, but seriously, who does that? It doesn’t affect my friend’s ability to nanny, it’s not like the kids are at her shows or anything.

    6. Sunshine Brite*

      Agreed, people are so image focused sometimes that it’s just stigmatizing for any sort of alternative lifestyles which often aren’t too far off what’s considered normal.

    7. NickelandDime*

      I was really irritated when I read the letter, with the OP and the person that gave them this information. One day, I would love for the nasty gossip to go to someone with their “information,” and the person they repeat it to say, “And what does this have to do with you or me?” Then have nasty gossip write into AAM with their outrage and for everyone to tell them the same thing.

      Whoever repeated this to OP#1 did it to get the coworker in trouble or possibly get them fired. Not cool at all!

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, while normally I hate the concept that informing your supervisor of just about anything relevant to work is “tattling”, this is definitely a situation where it should be considered tattling, because it very likely had absolutely zero impact on the whiner…er, person making the complaint or their work. In fact, I’ll bet you that Wendy Whiner spent company time and resources trying to dig up dirt on co-workers (or maybe just this one, who knows).

        1. Jenna Maroney*

          I work with kids, and the question I give them to figure out if they’re tattling or telling (borrowed from someone with a lot of experience and good ideas) is: telling is when you’re trying to get someone out of trouble, but tattling is when you’re trying to get someone in trouble. Like a surprising number of guidelines for six-year-olds, I actually think it is pretty applicable to the issue of “tattling vs. telling” in the workplace, and agree with you that in this case, it’s definitely “tattling” – trying to get someone in trouble, with no potential benefit that I can see.

    8. AnotherAlison*

      OTOH, many businesses don’t want employees to do sideline work at all, in any industry.

      Now that it’s brought to the employer’s attention, they should also make sure she’s not doing work on her website on company time, assuming they have a policy against that. I would say the same if it was a website selling fishing equipment or whatever.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        True. And I can honestly see the company having a problem with it if the person in question is, say, the VP in charge of Public Relations, who speaks to the press whenever there’s a news story, or maybe the CEO, who is mentioned in the news occasionally, AND they use their real name or are in the photographs on their web site. I don’t think they should be fired for that, but I wouldn’t be that surprised if the company was concerned about the extracurricular activities of someone who has a very public role like that.

      2. neverjaunty*

        While absolutely true, LW #1 seems mostly concerned with the content of the website. If it were just “we’re concerned the employee is doing this on company time in violation of our rule against second jobs” then the adult thing wouldn’t have been front and center.

    9. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

      Not only harassment of the employee – but should the employee discuss the outside activity in the office – he or she can be hit with harassment accusations!

      1. Mike C.*


        “Quit talking about my porn site at work, you’re sexually harassing me!”

  6. Lionness*

    Our company starts you out with 21 days per calendar year and it is pooled between vacation and sick time. You earn an extra day for each year but max out at 31 days/year (plus the option to roll over 5 days so the max you’d ever have is 36 days).

    While it isn’t the most generous I’ve ever seen, I will say that they are super flexible and you are front loaded your PTO on day one and can use it immediately (obv. some common sense should apply) which is unheard of in my industry so that is always nice.

  7. Ann Furthermore*

    #1: Whatever people choose to do on their own time is their own business as long as it’s not hurting anyone. That sounds like the case here. If she was doing website business on company time or equipment, that would be a problem. But it sounds like she’s not doing that. I say no one should bring it up unless she gives someone a reason to do so, like for example accessing her site from the office, or referring co-workers or patients to it.

    I’m curious how the person who brought this to the OP’s attention found out about the website in the first place. If they’re a consumer of that type of content, then it’s a bit of a double standard to pass judgment on someone who provides it.

    1. MK*

      It’s perfectly possible for something like this to come to your attention without you looking for it; for example, you might google your coworker to find an online article she has written and have this result come up. Or you might be informed by a third party who is a consumer and knows you work with this person. Or, it’s possible that the coworker is open about this side-activity of hers and you learned it directly from the source.

    2. Sally*

      I am the OP for #1 and I agree with what everyone has said that it is the employees business and that is exactly what I told her except that she was denying it was her and I tried to believe her. I have since found evidence that it really is her (videos). So, the new issue is the fact that she has lied about it to me and other employees that she chose to tell about the situation and deny it to them. She has played the victim when she really isn’t.

      1. Marcela*

        Well, considering some of the comments and after seeing many news about teachers fired because they dared to behaved like normal adults, I’d say maybe she is not the victim now, but definitely she has been.

      2. Saurs*

        Sounds like she is, actually. You say above that an employee sent you an anonymous e-mail about her. Clearly, you initiated this problem by confronting her with the contents of, essentially, a poison pen letter, and then allowed the trouble to spread to other employees by not shutting down the conversation and ensuring your employee that this information was private.

      3. Nerdling*

        If you don’t have a problem with the content of the site, exactly what are you doing about the gossiping coworker?

      4. LBK*

        If you didn’t intend to do anything about it, though, why even ask her if it was actually her? That seems completely irrelevant if you didn’t intend to act on the answer. Sounds like the correct response would’ve been to ignore the anonymous letter and move on with life.

      5. Snoskred*

        She absolutely was a victim of an anonymous letter writer, and then she has been a victim of you approaching her about it. Of course she lied, she wanted to keep her job.

        Seriously, you are in the wrong here. She should never have been approached about it.

        Even worse, you now have a tattle tale rat in your ranks. What are you planning to do about that person, who could not stand up and say this stuff under their own name and had to send you an anonymous letter?

        Don’t think for one second that the anonymous letter writer wouldn’t do the exact same thing to you, if they found out something about you that you keep quiet.

        The anonymous letter writer clearly thinks that you will sack this person for having this website.

        The big question now is – Are you going to do what the anonymous letter writer wants and fire an employee who you said is wonderful, for not doing anything criminal or that affects their job?

    3. pinky*

      but you know what is interesting, is that if the worker with the website was a public school teacher, she would be fired. I’m not saying that is ok, but it happens.

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I’m not sure what you’re going for with this comparison. Are you meaning to kind-of excuse the idea of firing or disciplining the worker because in some industries it’d be acceptable? If the worker were a public school teacher, she also might be required to spend her own money for desk supplies, because a lot of schools have terrible budgets. That doesn’t mean other industries would do well to make their employees buy pens out-of-pocket.

        1. fposte*

          I figured pinky was just talking about the infamous practices, as being discussed upthread, but I agree with your notion–it’s stupid in public school teaching, and I’d like to see that stupidity stamped out there rather than allowing it to spread to other fields.

    4. Allison*

      The issue is, as I’m realizing from reading other comments, is that many people assume that a person who engages in “immoral” activity on their own time may eventually start doing bad stuff that actually impacts others, either privately or at work. This is why people may not want someone involved in pornography or sex work working with children, they’re afraid that if someone had loose sexual morals they’ll start molesting children – logically, we know that’s not always the case, but people are very protective of their kids. This is also one of the reasons why employers don’t want to hire people who use drugs, they worry that a drug user may either come to work under the influence, start selling drugs at work, or start stealing from co-workers to fund their drug problem.

      And to an extent I get it, sometimes a little discomfort is all it takes when it comes to doctors, or teachers, or anyone whom you need to really trust, but for the most part it doesn’t make sense to make decisions about someone’s job based on what they do in their private lives.

      1. neverjaunty*

        “logically, we know that’s not always the case” – logically, we know this is completely ridiculous. It’s a conservative religious model that assumes all sexual behavior outside of a rigid and narrowly-controlled area is “sin”, and all sin is fungible, so there’s absolutely no difference between someone who has sex outside of marriage vs. someone who abuses children other than what they felt like doing this morning. Logically we know pedophiles are very different people than adults who like to do sexual things with other consenting adults.

        Your comparison to drug use makes no sense. A drug user is already using drugs; the employer is concerned 1) if the person is violating the law, and 2) about their discretion in when and where to use those drugs. We’re not, I hope, thinking that people with “loose morals” must be doing something illegal and the next thing we know they’ll be playing a ‘duck game’ in the office?

        1. Pinky*

          No – I feel what everyone does in their own time is their business, including teachers. But if a school found out, that teacher would be fired. I believe everyone’s free time is their own for sure! Just commenting on an interesting thi g I’ve noticed thats all.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        And it’s really stupid, because having “loose sexual morals,” i.e. most often interpreted as having premarital sex, whether gay or straight, DOES NOT MAKE SOMEONE A CHILD MOLESTER. Rather than kowtow to this ridiculously outdated and misinformed attitude, this should become what is commonly termed a teachable moment.

        Sorry, but this pushed my buttons; it’s a HUGE pet peeve of mine. >:(

  8. nerfmobile*

    My company has an odd mix of being stingy and generous at the same time. We get 12 days of vacation per year – which is pretty tight, especially with kids and school holidays and what not. But not counted in that is the shutdown (paid) over the end-of-year holidays, from Christmas Even through New Years Day. So that is really another week, though it’s assigned time and not flexible. And then we have a sabbatical program, 6 weeks off after every 4 years of service. So it’s excellent every 4 years, if you make it that long, and pretty tight the rest of the time. Oh, and sick leave as you need it – that’s not formally restricted in any way, though most people don’t take as much as they should, as always.

    1. Jennifer*

      Hah, we get four days off free at Christmas, but then have to use the other office closing days as our own vacation time. Which seems a little ridiculous. Literally every year they have to ask us if we want to work on December 26.

      I thought we had really good vacation–acquire 10 hours of it per month, and after 10 years it goes to something like 12 hours a month. AAM is making it sound like the norm is 3 weeks of awesome or something? News to me.

      1. BAS*

        Yeah I work in HR doing the virtual back office for MANY small businesses and 3 weeks (21 days) is definitely not the norm.

  9. Elkay*

    When I announced to my employer that I got the transport sorted, he for some reason asked me if I could try to commute anyway?!

    OP# 2 I honestly don’t understand this exchange, you will be communiting in a car, was there some discussion of you working from home?

    1. sarah*

      I was confused too. I think “commute” in this context refers specifically to getting there via bus.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, I think “commuting” here means using public transportation. I still don’t quite understand the situation, though. Most people I know actually find public transit more unreliable than cars so the employer should be delighted to have someone using a car. I don’t see their logic at all, to be honest. The only thing I can think of is what someone below said – the employer thinks since it’s a partner that’s driving the OP, what if they break up? But I’m not even sure if OP mentioned how she got the transport sorted or if it was just a general “I’ve found a solution to that problem!” kind of thing. Very confusing all around.

  10. AdAgencyChick*

    For #3, I wouldn’t worry about it. If your job end date is only a month away and you don’t even have a confirmed offer letter yet, my guess is that by the time you get one (assuming you do), you’ll be well within the time frame to just say that your start date will be two or three weeks away from your acceptance of the offer. Unless they’ve indicated that there’s a high level of urgency, if there’s anything AAM (and my own experience) has taught me, it’s that hiring always takes longer than you think it will!

    1. some1*

      Not only that, but I have accepted start dates where they just weren’t ready for me to start for 2-3 weeks out after I accepted the offer.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Yeah, a month from setting up the interview to the first day on the job would be moving pretty fast.

  11. Bekx*


    So at my old bad job, the owner is sort of a known person in the field. Let’s say it’s a branch of mental health. I remember reading a paper he wrote where he said that it’s important that the human brain gets rest — which means at least 3 weeks of vacation a year.

    Guess how much vacation we got at that job? 0 days for first year. 1 week after 1 year until 5 years (it was 3 when I started and then they changed it when 3/15 employees were close to the 3 year mark), 2 weeks from 5 to 10 years and then 3 weeks after 10 years. You couldn’t take vacation days the day before or after a holiday. You couldn’t take back to back weeks. And even when you did take vacation days you got a stern lecture about how inconvenient it was and you should have known better than to take this week off!

    Man, I hated that job. New job you get up to 9 vacation days your first year depending on the month you start. So 9 for January, 8 for Feb… Then you get 2 weeks until you’ve been here 7 years. It maxes out at 4 weeks at 15 years but we have people who have been here for 40 years! We also only get 2 sick days which I think is ;( But it’s better than what I had and hopefully enough people complained on our employee survey that we might get more days. Unfortunately those who have done their 7 or 15 years don’t want those of us who didn’t have to wait as long to get it.

    1. Midnight Oil*

      The not taking back to back weeks really burns me. These sorts of policy’s usually come with PTO expiration policies too. Insuring they show up as an employer with 3 weeks plus of PTO in searches (good on them) but effectively operating as a 1 week employer.

  12. Jenny*

    Media companies are notorious for their stingy PTO. I was a reporter had to work for one year with no PTO, then after that I got one day. Yep, I accrued one day per year. It was awful.

  13. Employment Lawyer*

    Re #1:
    I’d be tempted to chat with your firm’s lawyers.

    The website is pretty much “per se sexually harassing,” at least from a liability perspective. There is no circumstance in which that should ever be discussed in the workplace. If the employee gets into it at work, she’ll have to be disciplined or fired.

    You would be well within your rights to ensure that there isn’t a link between the site and your company, i.e. that it’s happening under a pen name.

    1. Lionness*

      You’re kidding me, right?

      There is zero indication the employee has ever mentioned it at work and no indication that she is harassing anyone with it. Let’s leave the legal histrionics alone.

    2. Mike C.*

      How is it sexual harassment when it doesn’t involve the workplace or other employees? This really makes no sense.

      1. Cheesecake*

        I think Employment Layer meant “IF there is a link between employee and the company such as she devotes her work time to the site or uses company’s premises/logo there, then there will be consequences”. So i actually would not chat to the lawyer just yet because i am sure they don’t have an internal one. I would first just take a look at that website.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Nope, EL is saying that the very existence of the website is sexual harassment.

          1. Cheesecake*

            Ehm…then i take back my comment. I don’t get “per se sexually harassing” at all. From my (and my employer’s perspective) every job on the side or gainful activity must be discussed upfront. But i don’t care if an employee has soft porn website or breeds chinchillas, as long as this is not connected to our business directly (meaning same field..and glam nude is not) or indirectly (uses our name).

            1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

              I would add that it could be problematic if the employee kept initiating conversations about her side business with coworkers – and that’s a case where it could be sexual harassment. (If it were a chinchilla business, it’d just make her “annoying chinchilla lady,” though.) But her owning the website is immaterial there; if anyone routinely started unwelcome conversations about porn with coworkers, it wouldn’t matter whether they owned a website or not.

              But there’s no indication at all that the employee with the website is doing that – in fact, it sounds very much like someone else told the company (“It has come to our attention” not “One of my employees told me that she runs…”).

              1. Elsajeni*

                Unless she spent a lot of time talking about the precise mechanics of breeding the chinchillas, possibly. (Is it sexual harassment to talk about chinchilla sex all the time? Brb, texting my lawyer friend.)

            2. neverjaunty*

              “Per se” is also a very strange term to use, legally speaking, in the context of sexual harassment. Certain things are “per se”, like types of defamation (classically, accusing someone of being a thief when they’re not is “per se” defamation). But that’s not generally a term used for sexual harassment. There is quid pro quo harassment – the boss says if you don’t put out he’ll fire you, your manager gives the direct report who dates her special privileges – which is what people typically think of as harassment. There is hostile work environment harassment, where there’s no explicit advantage or disadvantage offered, but (say) the one female employee in an all-male office comes to work and finds somebody’s left pornographic photos on her desk, and management blows it off as boys will be boys.

          2. Employment Lawyer*

            No, the website doesn’t matter if nobody knows. Who cares if nobody finds out about it?

            But the content of the website is straight up inappropriate for work. And people DO know. Therefore it needs to stay out of work. If you know about it, don’t care, and don’t want to face the choice between “fire the employee” and “get sued” then you might make sure the employee knows to keep her mouth shut about it, even if others are interested.

            1. neverjaunty*

              But you said “The website is per se sexual harassment”.

              1) What is “per se” sexual harassment?
              2) How is the website “per se” sexual harassment?

              Also, the employee might have a case of sexual harassment if her employer came to her out of the blue and said it knew about her private life that she’d never ever mentioned at work and she’d better keep her mouth shut.

              Where do you practice, exactly?

    3. fposte*

      If that’s so, wouldn’t that mean the person who brought it up would be the offender in this case?

      1. Mike C.*

        By a similar logic of “depictions of sex with no connections to work whatsoever”, coming to work pregnant would be considered sexual harassment.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Hell, having pictures of your kids on your desk, or maybe even wearing a wedding ring. Pearlclutch!

          1. neverjaunty*

            nah, only if you’re gay, then you’re “flaunting” it. :P

            I wonder if maybe EL did not read the letter carefully and though the employee was running this site AT WORK. If that were true, then yes, an employer would have some legitimate concerns from a liability perspective (particularly if the employee were, say, showing the site off at work or trying to recruit co-workers as models).

            But otherwise, WTF?

            1. RMRIC0*

              OTOH that’s pretty much a lawyer’s job, to dream up potential scenarios for litigation and attempt to mitigate them ahead of time – even if they don’t have a tangible foundation in case law. Kind of like how some people hae their “zombie apocalypse” plan in the back of their heads.

              1. neverjaunty*

                No, not at all. Zombie apocalypses are fantasies. Lawyers are supposed to advise about actual litigation risks.

    4. Anonymous123*

      “There is no circumstance in which that should ever be discussed in the workplace.”
      So the tattler should be fired?

    5. Nerdling*

      So you’re advocating that the tattler who brought this up out of the blue to the OP be disciplined for sexual harassment, then?

        1. Nerdling*

          Oh, I agree! I’m just curious about Employment Lawyer’s take on that since apparently the very existence of the site that the employee never once mentioned at work constitutes sexual harassment.

  14. Jwal*

    RE #1 if the health industry in America is anything like it is in the UK then that person could be in big trouble for “bringing the profession into disrepute”. I know that it’s more than frowned on for a dentist to also own a bar, for example, so multiplying that out then having a nude site could be pretty problematic…

    1. Mike C.*

      Does having only one parent of noble blood also bring the profession into disrepute?

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Why is it frowned upon for a dentist to own a bar? I could see a problem if a dentist owned a candy store – conflict of interest!

      1. Nerdling*

        Well, because then the dentist would be getting a clear discount on his/her numbing agents by obtaining them at wholesale rather than needing to bring in an anesthesiologist!

  15. Employment Lawyer*

    Re #4:

    You should check when the firm closes. For example, you may only get 1 week, but the firm may close between Xmas and New Years, or the firm may close for Thanksgiving Wednesday-Friday, and so on. That can make a huge difference.

    You should also check about their unpaid leave policy. If you get more money and unpaid leave, then it’s a wash.

    As for “normality,” it isn’t “normal” but it is what it is. Take it or don’t. Surely your employer knows what is being offered everywhere else in the country.

    1. Cheesecake*

      Vacation is vacation – this is employee’s time off that she can get whenever she wants (being respectful to business needs and all that fluff). I don’t agree that company’s special office closing arrangements can make huge difference. This is company’s discretion that may or may not match employee’s wish to take days off. Plus, i highly doubt this will sum up to an extra week. And as for more money/unpaid leave, salary is the toughest to negotiate, if they are reluctant to negotiate extra vacation week that is normal practice (not that OP wanted 5 weeks instead of 1), i doubt they will be happier to re-negotiate salary.

      1. doreen*

        That depends- getting your time off when you want it is always better than having it chosen for you, but I had a job at a trade school long ago ( not as a teacher) where I got two weeks vacation plus three separate paid weeks when the school shut down. Everyone got paid for those weeks, even if you had started a month before. Of course five weeks of my choice would have been preferable – but two weeks of my choice and three weeks of theirs beat two weeks of my choice total.

      2. nonegiven*

        At 2 jobs, the only time off I had was the unpaid week or 2 that the factories were closed.

  16. ExJourno*

    My new job only offers a week of vacation (plus 10 holidays) for the first couple of years. It’s generally a good job and the pay is fine, and I wasn’t really in a position to turn down the offer. But I don’t think I’ll be staying here more than a year if I can help it. I’m pretty sure two weeks vacation is standard for entry- and mid-level positions.

    I guess my company thinks the generous number of holidays makes up for the tiny vacation package, but most federal holidays are on Mondays. Generally, I’m more likely to take of Fridays to travel to weddings or other stuff that’s happening on a Saturday.

  17. ExJourno*

    Oh, but Independence Day is a Saturday this year, so we only get 9 holidays in 2015.

    In my second year, I’m required to take all five of my vacation days consecutively for an audit week. So I hope nobody I care about gets married out of town that year.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Don’t holidays that fall on the week end roll-over to the following Monday?

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          That surprises me the default in the UK is you get the following Monday off if the holiday falls on the weekend.

          1. De Minimis*

            I think for us it depends on what day the actual holiday falls, this year our designated Independence Day holiday will be on that Friday. When July 4 is on Sunday, the day off would be on Monday.

  18. Snarkus Aurelius*

    LW #1, I’m really dying to know what you mean by this statement:

    “She is a wonderful employee and we would have never suspected this from her.”

    If she was a terrible employee, that would have been okay?  What behavior do you believe she should exhibit based on your expectations?  Do you believe that the people who run these sites (which are big money makers) are supposed to dress and/or act in a certain way?  Do you think they only come in one package?  

    I don’t meant to jump down your throat, but you sound like you were expecting Larry Flynt.  You remind me of the D.A.R.E. police officer I had in school who told our class that drug dealers were always men, poor, homeless, and friendless.

    You’re going down a very dangerous road here, and my hunch is that you’re not even aware of it.  When you have a set of -behavioral- expectations (NOT professional because that’s something else), you’re setting yourself up for bad things, including discrimination.  

    I know, I know.  That’s not what you meant.  But…people are capable of all sorts of things, good and bad, and it has nothing to do with how they act or dress or present themselves in everyday life.

    You’d be wise to chuck whatever expectations you have about certain professions, genders, and behaviors right out the window.

        1. Snarkus Aurelius*

          Because I think it was warranted.  I really do.

          This type of thinking, in larger contexts than this of course, are the reason why people who look good on paper (Larry Summers is a good example) are allowed to get away with doing underhanded things while people who don’t conform to expectations get grief when we otherwise wouldn’t.  Believe me, people who look good on paper know -exactly- how to play this game if they want to do questionable things.

          The LW’s statement, although minor, strongly implies she believes there’s a “type” of person who runs such websites.  I don’t want her to actually answer the question.  I’m asking her to challenge that thinking because it’s creating a blind spot.

          1. fposte*

            And she’s already challenging that thinking because she’s not interested in firing the employee, and she’s seeking Alison’s support. Instead of being praised for that, she’s being smacked for not thinking about it the way you want her to. That’s going to make her less likely to join you, not more.

          2. Marcela*

            I do agree that we need to expose that kind of thoughts. It is documented that we have prejudices hidden from our direct conscious mind (?), and the best way to destroy them is to shine a light onto them. But having said that, fposte is right, the comment was kind of harsh.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I think it’s one thing to say “people are full of surprises and your assumptions might be wrong,” but this felt very attack-ish to me. Some people are a bit more sheltered.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Agreed. The way I read the letter was this: “I never would have expected this from her. However, my own surprise aside, she’s an excellent employee, so it doesn’t bother me, I just want to know how to proceed.” I got no pearl-clutching, just… surprise. Which is OK, and quite normal.

            1. fposte*

              Right. Honestly, I think lots of people never really think about who runs webcam sites, or writes porny fanfic, or BASE jumps on the weekend, or whatever. And it can be a Magic Eye kind of refocus moment when you realize it’s somebody you know as “that really helpful project coordinator.”

              1. FiveByFive*

                But how can you compare things like BASE jumping and racy fan fiction, to operating a website that takes advantage of people (mostly women) who need money, encouraging them to expose themselves sexually on the internet? Those are entirely different worlds we’re talking about.

                Maybe I am “sheltered” as was mentioned above, as I have never known (or am not aware that I know) people that run the “drunk co-eds go wild!!!” kinds of websites. I assume they are disgusting people who have no morals and no character. Do any of you actually know these people, and can report that they are in reality fine upstanding decent individuals?

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  I know a woman who posed in Playboy. She’s perfectly nice and “normal” and is an absolutely fine upstanding person. And frankly, if I looked like her I’d probably never wear clothes myself.

                2. MegEB*

                  There is absolutely no evidence in this letter to suggest that the employee in question is taking advantage of anyone at all for her website. You’re jumping from “adult website” to “barely legal/underage girls being taken advantage of” when there’s no reason to make that conclusion. As people have pointed out, she could be (and probably is) a webcam girl, or she takes artistic nude portraits, or any number of situations that involve no exploitation whatsoever.

                  Also, FWIW I really don’t think fposte was trying to compare the two activities as being equal. She was just pointing out that the people involved in these types of activities are rarely the type of people you’d expect just by looking at them.

                3. FiveByFive*

                  Katie, but again, posing in a well-known (even “traditional”) magazine is very different than running a porn site. I’m lost as to why nobody can see the difference here, but, I guess it’s just me. :(

                4. FiveByFive*


                  I know there is no evidence of it regarding the OP, which is why I’ve mentioned we need more info. But the discussion has evolved during the comments to include the more exploitative types of sites, and most people commenting would still be OK with it.

                  The artistic nude portraits you suggest are one thing, but a “webcam girl”? Maybe I’m not totally familiar with that, but it sounds entirely exploitative (even if the girl consents to it) and entirely degrading. Guess we all just have different opinions though, which is fine.

                5. VintageLydia USA*


                  Camgirls are self-employed. Sometimes they’re linked up to larger sites but many have their own domain. They can also make a RIDICULOUSLY large amount of money. It’s not like they are pressured to do things they don’t want to do by someone on the other side of the camera. The biggest emotional hazard is dealing with the comments and stuff from people watching (but communication between the actress and watchers is the entire point of camming versus videos so they have an idea of what they’re walking into.)

                  From the OP’s comments it sounds like this is either camming or something like Suicide Girls, which, yeah, is porn, but not at the exploitative level of the stuff you’re talking about.

                6. FiveByFive*

                  Thanks VintageLydia.

                  That just sounds really sad to me. I would reiterate that it seems really degrading to put yourself out there in that fashion, and probably indicates a serious lack of self esteem. But, again, that’s just my opinion. In some cases I’m sure it’s wrong, but I would guess probably not in many.

                7. VintageLydia USA*

                  …It’s not sad. I mean, it can be, I guess, but a lot of people who do it really like it. It’s easy, you get a super flexible schedule, and make gobs of money doing 10-15 hours of work, if that. I’ve met women that paid their way through under grad and grad school doing it with no loans and a relatively comfortable living besides. It requires an insane amount of self-esteem, too. It’s really easy to look at sex workers and think “oh that’s sad” and in some cases, especially in a world where sex trafficking is big business, maybe that’s true. But camming, especially when you’re the running your website and controlling all content on it and advertising to only the clients you want, is the totally opposite end of it. It’s fairly safe, pretty easy, and a lot of women have a lot of fun with it. Think burlesque vs. stripping (but I met a lot of strippers who love their job, too, so maybe not the best example.)

                  And not all of it is sexual the way we think of it, too. Like the comment above talking about a friend they had who was feeder. All they did was sit down in from a camera and ate a ton because some people get off on it.

                8. FiveByFive*

                  Interesting! I see where you’re going, but, I don’t know. I think your body and your sexuality are very personal things, and selling them on the internet seems very much like devaluing yourself. But of course not everyone feels the same way. And my point isn’t to judge these people, but rather that I’m not sure I would be comfortable, say, owning a healthcare facility and having my doctors and nurses doing this on the side. But again, that’s just me.

                  I appreciate your thoughts though! You say it can be fun, and believe me, I am not against fun!

                9. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  It’s interesting to think about why we often think bodies are so personal but we don’t have a problem with selling our brains to employers (well, renting them). Brains are pretty much as personal as it gets.

                10. FiveByFive*

                  Yes that is interesting indeed. We all are born with different attributes, and what’s wrong with trading on them, whatever they may be?

                  I guess, for instance, say you meet someone at a dinner party. They ask you about your favorite movie or book, or you opinions about art or global warming, etc. You wouldn’t be offended. But if they ask you about your body parts, that would seem a little out of place (wouldn’t it)? Especially if you substitute a child in that conversation. So it does seem like there is a difference.

                  But definitely it’s worth wondering why your body must be considered so personal, and obviously a lot of people don’t.

                11. Jamie*

                  It’s interesting to think about why we often think bodies are so personal but we don’t have a problem with selling our brains to employers (well, renting them). Brains are pretty much as personal as it gets.

                  That’s a really interesting point. I think my brain is rigidly segmented, though. I resent like heck when someone tries to enter the personal part of my brain uninvited – that part which holds my opinions, feelings, emotions, values which are wholly unrelated to the job. I’m happy to share them if appropriate and when I choose, but I don’t like anyone even trying to see what’s behind that door until I unlock it on my own volition.

                  But the part of my brain that’s good at math, sees patterns in data, can troubleshoot a bottle-necked server…that’s totally available for the highest bidder as long as they also offer a reserved parking spot. Basically the part of my brain which is interchangeable with anyone who has the same skills I’m happy to whore out all day long.

                  So basically to get into the utilitarian “what I can do” part of my brain you just need to be not too objectionable and have enough cash. And as a bonus I’ll toss in a little personality when it amuses me.

                  To get into the “who I am” part is much harder. There is no amount of cash that will open that door – it’s invite only. It’s not too hard to get into the grand foyer where the innocuous stuff about me is on display…but the backroom? Very few VIP passes issued for that. For which everyone should be thankful because it’s scary as f*** back there and not a place you want to be without a trained guide, an arsenal of defensive weapons, and emotional Kevlar.

                  To your point even I’d rather hug strangers all day long than share my personal feelings with them – it doesn’t get more personal than that. (Not to be construed as endorsement of workplace hugging – I am still opposed.)

                12. FiveByFive*

                  Good points Jamie.

                  I guess your body can be “segmented” as well. Certain body parts, or even in the sense of, say, a webcam girl or a stripper saying you can look but you can’t touch. We’re all choosing what parts of us are “for sale” and which parts aren’t.

                13. Stephanie*

                  On the Media had an interesting piece about $pread, a magazine written by sex workers. One of the big takeaways I remember from it was the editors wanted to start the magazine to combat the image that all sex workers were either trafficking victims or six-figure earning escorts.


                14. Cath in Canada*

                  “It’s interesting to think about why we often think bodies are so personal but we don’t have a problem with selling our brains to employers (well, renting them).”

                  BRB, changing my email signature to “mind moll”

                  (Actually, given that I work for a scientific research organisation and that I plan to donate my body to science after I die, there’s a decent chance that my employer will eventually get my brain – for keeps!)

  19. Lisa*


    I’ve been that employer who had to hire people and be very specific that they needed their own cars as our work was in a highly industrial area with no side walks and 53′ trucks going down the barely drivable crooked road at 70 miles an hour.

    Basically, I think the employer is thinking OPs transportation isn’t reliable because its a partner driving OP. I get it, as people think partner / bf / gf = temporary, and they want assurances that the transportation will not be an issue. As long as the employer knows that OP plans on getting there by any means, and won’t call out based on no transportation, everything will be fine. While AAM is right that its non of their business, OP might end up with fewer shifts and promotions based on this transportation bias. OP can have a convo where you say that you appreciate the concern, but you’ve got multiple backups if the partner isn’t available (taxi, uber, to name a few). I wouldn’t mention other people as backup rides though since that also indicates unreliable. The boss wants to know that you will trek to work even if you break up so either say you will outright or start talking to co-workers about how great Uber is and that your license exam is in 2 weeks or whatever.

  20. Kelly L.*

    In addition to everything else mentioned about the erotic website, are you absolutely sure it’s her? Back in my younger and prettier days, an SO of mine once found a naughty video of a woman who looked pretty much just like me, at least what I could see of her (her face wasn’t really clear). I was in an ornery mood and pretended it really was me for a couple of minutes, and really had him buying it. Then fessed up to pulling his leg and pointed out the piercing that she had and I didn’t.

  21. anonima in tejas*

    #1, I wonder how/if AAM’s advice would change if there were a provision in the employment contract/handbook about limiting/only approving secondary/additional employment?

    1. Kelly L.*

      If you can’t have secondary employment, then no, she can’t do this, but it’s a red herring. That’s not why the OP is asking, or it would have been mentioned.

    2. fposte*

      It doesn’t even need to be in the handbook–they can fire her for having a second job if they want to even if it’s bringing food to the destitute. If she’s a “wonderful employee” at this job, though, the second job clearly isn’t affecting her work here, so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to discipline her over it.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m sure that would change the advise as if the employee was engaged in a second job with out approval then that would be a breach of the terms of employment but the difference is that it would apply to anything, what Alison seems to be saying here is that there is no need for any moral objection to the employees activities just because it might tangentially relate to the adult entertainment industry

      1. De Minimis*

        Would self-employment by running a website be considered secondary employment? I think it’s somewhat borderline.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          I would say yes, if an income is being made from the activity then I’d class it as a job / employment.

          1. De Minimis*

            I think it could really be closer to a hobby, and/or maybe be more in the category of passive income, like with a rental property that someone handled themselves instead of going through a management company.

            1. fposte*

              I think it doesn’t really matter how we parse it here, though; it’s whether the workplace considers it a problem or not that matters. You’re really not going to be able to defend a firing for this because you took a loss that year.

            2. Apollo Warbucks*

              Owing and renting a house is a commercial venture

              HMRC (the UK equivalent of the IRS) have six stage test they apply to find if someone is trading mainly looking at the motive and frequency of trade

              I wouldn’t call someone who inherits and sells their family home a realtor but if they consistently buy and sell houses then they got a business

    4. neverjaunty*

      I imagine Senior Blogger Green would say to treat this as if the employee were running a website about collecting antique chocolate teapots: would they consider that “secondary employment” or discipline her? If not, then they shouldn’t discipline or fire her for running a subscription-only adult glamor website.

  22. YandO*

    My first year here my employer offered me zero paid vacation days and zero paid holidays. I negotiated 6 holidays.

    My second year they offered 5 days vacation, 2 sick days, 1 personal days and 5 holidays. I negotiated 7 vacation, 2 sick, 1 personal, 6 holidays.

    Around Christmas, they decided to give me 5 paid days off. I think it was meant to make me feel better because they lied about giving me a bonus. While unexpected 5 days were nice, I really did not appreciate it being presented to me as a “gift” and it being on their terms, rather than giving me PTO to use as I saw fit.

    Unless I am in a dire situation, I will not ever take a job from a place that is focused on short-changing me on vacation days. They matter a lot to me and the bitterness I feel about my current employer is very toxic to me and my health. It does not come *just* from the PTO situation though. It is fueled by the fact that I am the only person in the office who has to deal with limited time off. Everyone else works as they please, where they please, take vacation whenever they want.

    I used to have 21 PTO days at my old job and I had a much busier workload. I got my job done AND took all my vacation and I was a much better/more loyal employee as a result.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I hate being told when to use my holiday as Christmas isn’t a big deal me I’d rather use the time in the summer to go on holiday but it’s very common for companies to reserve the right to dictate when a few days are used.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        What’s really annoying is when they close at Christmas but you don’t get the time off paid. You have to dip into your PTO for that. Exjob used to do that at Thanksgiving–they would close the Friday after, but they wouldn’t pay us. I liked it better when we were open and had the option to come in and work or take PTO. I usually didn’t go anywhere, because I was rehearsing for Christmas ice shows and I don’t go to family for Turkey Day unless everyone is going to be there (it’s a long drive).

        When I had food service jobs, they would close but you didn’t get any pay. :(

    2. SerfinUSA*

      I had a Canadian boss who made a huge fuss about granting me 5 “special days” after being there a year. She then always made a huge fuss when I used one of the days, as in “Oh! You’re going to use one of your Special Days! Wheee!!”
      She did not make a similar fuss when her employees in the Canadian office took vacation days. Granted, she was batpoop nuts…

      1. Anne*

        holidays = bank holidays, personal days = sick days/extra time off you can use for “personal” reasons (usually without having to book vacation in advance)

  23. De Minimis*

    #3 is timely for me, since I may be in a similar situation. I originally gave my workplace 6 weeks notice, and thought this would provide them adequate time to make arrangements for my departure. They have mishandled everything as far as making plans, but that’s another topic. I currently have just under three weeks left there, and they have only now come up with a workable plan for me to train someone.

    I’m moving cross country after I leave, and I have a lot of applications in with various employers. I really want to maintain a good relationship after I go, but there’s a possibility I could be scheduled for an interview and would have to leave earlier, which would mean there would be essentially zero coverage for my position.

    I know it hasn’t happened and might not, but I’m trying to figure out what to do if I get contacted for an interview the following week, since I’d basically have to leave almost immediately. It takes a few days to get over there due to the distance and the route [most of the way is sparsely populated and there aren’t a lot of good stops for lodging.] I’m hoping the upcoming holiday might delay people’s recruiting to where at worst I might have to leave a week early. I know it’s crazy to worry this much about something that may not even happen, but I’ve gotten calls for interviews on short notice before and it’s good to have a plan in place on what to do.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Well, IMO it’s pretty different when you say you’re leaving and the company has to make plans to cover for you, versus the OP’s situation where they are told that their position is being eliminated, and they agree on what will be their last date. In the second case, the company is planning to do without them completely soon, so it’s not as big of a deal to leave a little earlier, I think, as long as they leave with two weeks notice and have everything tied up/ready to hand off.

      I’m assuming someone will take over your position, De Minimis, since you didn’t mention your position being eliminated and you mention training someone and having coverage.

      1. De Minimis*

        They’ve just now gotten someone who would be great to take over if we had more time [and if they’d just tried this person three weeks ago when I first gave notice!]

        There is still no plan to post the job to fill it permanently…they’ll eventually do it, but probably only after regional headquarters finds out about my departure and tells them they have to…

  24. Rebecca*

    #2 – I think it’s pretty crappy for the employer not to mention during the interview process that they were going to move 20 miles away. The OP stated she took the job a month ago, and recently moved to be closer to work, and then a few days later, they’re moving 20 miles away? Moves like this just don’t happen overnight.

    Is this another question we have to ask during the interview process, like “are you planning to significantly move the office location in the near future?”

    20 miles is a huge change, especially here were there is next to zero public transportation unless you pay for a taxi ride back and forth every day.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My company moved less than half that, and it took about a year of planning and negotiating. (But we had about 200 people at the time.) Unless this company is only one office or maybe a very few offices, they’d need a lot more than a month to move. So now that you mention it, I agree that they must have known ahead of time.

    2. Midnight Oil*

      Good luck getting an honest answer. Also you would be dinged for asking a question that is “too specific”.

      When I was negotiating my new role there were plans to role back a lot of benefits. You can bet that I was not informed of this. Literally the week I started we lost a lot of the benefits that I had considered worth taking a lower salary for. Now I’m stuck in a low-paying role without the money saving perks I had calculated into my negotiations.

      My takeaway here is: assume all benefits/perks are a lie and negotiate your salary off of that.

      1. Lisa*

        ‘My takeaway here is: assume all benefits/perks are a lie and negotiate your salary off of that.’

        I love this! I need to do this more. My week at Xmas got taken away through a merger, and I so angry because they used that as a reason not to give me what I asked for in vacation time.

    3. hayling*

      I agree. The problem here is not that the boss is being weird about how the employee gets to work. The problem is that the company didn’t disclose their move during the application process. Transportation is a huge deciding factor for many people when taking a job.

    4. Brandy*

      Our company was planning its move and talking about it for almost a year. We got updates constantly in our emails. I would love for my job to be closer to my house but I know from experience with companys constantly moving that its no guarantee.

  25. shep*

    I work for the state government, so I’m sure our vacation/sick leave policies differ from the private sector in many ways, but we accrue 8 hours per month (so a day’s worth) of both. There’s a six-month probationary period from your date of hire where you aren’t able to use vacation time, but after that, you accrue at a steady rate and can use it when you need it. Every five years or so, your accrual of hours is increased (so 10 hours of both per month, then 12, etc.).

    Just out of curiosity, is this anyone else’s experience with vacation/sick time allotments, or far afield from the norm?

    1. De Minimis*

      Federal is somewhat different, but we go by pay period and not month [seems like many state people are paid monthly and not biweekly.] Someone relatively new would accrue at about the same rate you describe, 4 hours a pay period, I believe once you hit year 5 [or 6, can’t remember] you get 6 hours a pay period, and once you get 15 years in you get a full 8-hour day per pay period.

      I don’t think we have any probationary period. When I worked for the post office they did have “blackout” dates from Thanksgiving to New Year’s where no one was allowed to take vacation for any reason.

        1. doreen*

          I think it is. I’ve worked for both state and municipal government and in both places, we accrued a day’s worth of sick and another day’s worth of annual per month (although we’re paid biweekly) . With the state government, you can’t use annual leave for the first six months so that gets credited at the end of the six months- but you get credited with five days of personal leave on your first day of work and you can take those days (or sick days) in the first six months. You get “bonus” days on your anniversary date (one per year of service), so that after 7 years you’ve gone from 13 days annual and 5 days personal to 20 days annual and 5 days personal.

    2. Dasha*

      Can you take paid sick or personal time before the six months? Or is it all lumped together as vacation and you have to wait until after the 6 months?

    3. Allison*

      My first job was similar to that, although our probationary period was 3 months. Which was tough because I had to take a couple of days off in the beginning – one because I was sick, one because a superstorm was hitting the area and hell no was I taking the commuter rail into the city that day, and one to travel back from my cousin’s wedding. Not too tough since I was still living at home and wasn’t worried about my pay being less than usual for the weeks I took a day or two off, but for someone just barely making ends meet and needing a sick day or vacation day before they start accruing, it can be really tough. I think companies need to understand that even new employees are going to need a day or two in those first few months, and give them a small amount of vacation days to use in that time period. Although maybe they can be extra selective as to how they’re used.

      1. shep*

        Yeah, I was actually in the same boat; I had pre-booked conference scheduled for months ahead of securing a position with the state, and I negotiated time off as part of my hiring agreement. I wasn’t paid for that time, but I was prepared for that, since I wasn’t going to be paid for the time off at my last (and lower-salaried) position either.

        Luckily, as I mentioned above, the state allowed me to start accruing immediately, and to at least take sick time off during the probationary period. I totally agree that really rigid policies restricting new employee leave can put people in a huge bind.

    4. LCL*

      Local government. 10 sick days a year. Vacation starts at 12 days per year, goes up to 30 days per year with 29+ years of service.
      Our group (and many government groups) provides a vital service, so we can’t have unlimited amount of people on vacation. Managing this is a big part of my job and getting bigger, as our personnel come from another group that allows everybody to be on vacation at once and they have certain expectations. We explain how things run before they bid over here, but some people don’t get it until they have been here awhile.

      We can always fit in a long vacation. We can’t fit in 5 long vacations for the same time period. Last week was really fouled up because people wanted their spring break close to but not during the holiday next week. Labor Day is bad and getting worse, even more so than Christmas the last few years.

      The easiest way to schedule the people who have a lot of vacation time is for them to split the time into two vacations, leaving a few days of carryover because stuff happens. The hardest way is when they demand vac because they are in use it or lose it mode. They think. This group is allowed to cash in vacation, I would rather the workers get what they want with vacation, either the time off or the money. Myself, it is too hard to leave for long periods of time so I take a week here and there, leave a lot of time on the books for dealing with a family situation, and cash in a big chunk of money and buy another toy when I reach my vacation maximum.

      1. De Minimis*

        The rule at my workplace is leave has to be granted if you’ve got it in the bank, no matter who else is off or what happens to be going on at work. Whatever can’t be done by someone else waits until the person gets back, of course, that means that coming back from vacation is even worse than it normally is….

        1. doreen*

          It really has to be granted no matter who else is off? So if everyone wants off the same week, the phones don’t even get answered? I wish it worked like that at my job- I’ve been waiting two weeks for the other two people in my title to let me know if they can cover for the time I want to take off. ( There will be other people working that week- but at least one manager has to be in the building)

          1. De Minimis*

            Yes, either the task just doesn’t get done [for example we often go for long periods with no receptionist coverage] or if it’s something that other people also do, they will pick up the slack. I think some of the more crucial jobs have a lot of cross-trained people to where you’d always have someone who could do it.

            But there are a lot of key person type jobs where no one else can do it, and when that person is on an extended vacation a lot of things just won’t be done, or a higher-up at another facility has to help out remotely.

            We occasionally have days in our department where all of the employees who can address patient concerns/complaints are out [sometimes at the same meeting offsite] and those days can be tough…

            1. doreen*

              I think I misunderstood you- or maybe your department has just been lucky or your coworkers have more of a work ethic than some of my coworkers. I thought you meant that it wouldn’t matter if everyone (including the cross-trained people and the higher-ups who can help remotely) was on vacation at the same time- like if all the people who could address patient concerns or perform the crucial tasks were out on vacation for the same two weeks. I have worked in offices where there were certain days and weeks that literally no one would come to work if leave had to be granted if the employee had it in the bank.

    5. SerfinUSA*

      I’m also a state (university) worker, and that sounds about right. The six-month probationary period here lets new people accrue some leave, so once the time is up, they have a few days banked already.

      1. MinB*

        My current job (small nonprofit) has a six month probationary period for PTO but you don’t accrue any leave during that period. So really, you can’t take any time off for at least the first 7 months and in the 8th month you can only take a day because you have to work here for 5 years before you get more than two weeks of PTO.

        We also don’t get any paid sick leave. Ever. For anyone. And there are only 8 recognized paid holidays here with no observed holidays if they fall on a weekend. We’re also understaffed. It’s just a constant stream of everything being on fire/must be done right now/no one else can do this stress with very few breaks.

        There’s a reason the last three people in my position only lasted a few months. I’m planning on moving on as soon as I hit the two year mark so it looks ok on my resume. But nobody in charge seems to think this is a problem.

        1. MinB*

          Oh! And we can only roll over 20 hours of PTO per year, which management didn’t mention when lower-level employees were planning vacations last year. A couple of us were saving days for longer trips at the beginning of this year and suddenly had to use it or lose it in December. It’s a big morale suck.

          1. shep*

            This sounds a lot like a non-profit I used to work for, as well. I’m a little ashamed to say I was only there two months.

  26. Dasha*

    #4 Weird, I had a job offer in Texas that was great except they only offered one week of vacation. I ended up taking something else (with a standard time off package, nothing luxurious but pretty normal) and I look back and think I dodged a bullet. I’m with Alison on this, unless you have no other options or you are in a position where you could (and they would let you) take unpaid time off I would wait to see if something better comes up.

    In one of my first entry level jobs I had ZERO paid days off. I started as a temp which is understandable (no days off) then they offered me perm after several months (ok, cool) but they wouldn’t let me even start accruing days until after 6 months and the pay was already low. It was like an extra blow to already have low pay then have to take unpaid days off when my mother was in the hospital and I had been there for almost a year! I ended up leaving a little after a year (by then I had accrued a whooping 3 days!) but even then (entry level with little experience) I felt treated really poorly by the company and it always left a really bad taste in my mouth. :(

    1. De Minimis*

      The Post Office used to [and still may] have “permatemps” where you get one prescheduled week off per year where you are technically fired and then you start work again the following week. Since you aren’t working for them the full year, you never get any kind of career status.

  27. Midnight Oil*

    Bit of a tangent, but I hate when employees advertise their side business at work. I don’t care that you own the local McDonalds, or have a side business cleaning houses – stop trying to guilt and pressure me into frequenting your services. I have 3 co-workers in my suite who own businesses, and it can be a bit overbearing at times.

    That being said if it turns out that my neighbor owns a porn site that he hasn’t been advertising to me, I really, really don’t care. If my doctor was in preggers porn? Wouldn’t care. Honestly even if my nurse was in nurse role-play porn it would not bother me one bit. Why should it? As long as she is not using company logo’s or uniforms, or soliciting me while I”m in the office it has zero to do with me as a customer and zero to do with me as a co-worker.

    1. Allison*

      I agree on your first point, I wouldn’t like it if my co-workers were constantly getting me to buy the stuff they sell on the side. Mention it once, sure, and maybe leave catalogs in the breakroom, but don’t constantly try to sell me stuff.

      Then again, I hate pushy salesmanship in general.

      1. hayling*

        I think what you’re referring to is multi-level marketing (like Avon) which is its own brand of ick when brought into an office. The business model turns your friends (and coworkers) into customers.

        1. De Minimis*

          We have really strict rules against soliciting for outside stuff at work. Sometimes I think they are too draconian [Girl Scouts and any other kind of fundraiser thing is not allowed, and the bosses chased off a food vendor who parked near our parking lot once] but it might be worth it to keep that sort of thing out of there.

          1. Allison*

            No Girl Scout cookies? My heart goes out to you, most companies make exceptions for that.

  28. Allison*

    My first job was considered super stingy on pay and benefits, and even we were able to earn 2 weeks of PTO in one year. Now, that PTO could be used for either vacation or sick time, so a lot of it was used on holiday-related travel and sick days. Since then, the places I’ve worked have offered 3 weeks of vacation for everyone, that seems to be the standard, at least for tech companies in the Boston area. It might vary in different industries and regions.

    1. De Minimis*

      When I worked in public accounting people got two weeks of vacation per year, and I think gradually more if they stayed long enough [which was rare] and it was rarer still for people to actually take a significant amount of that two weeks, other than at the holidays.

  29. cheeky*

    My first job out of college was in an architecture office that only offered 5 days of paid vacation and 5 paid sick days, which did not roll over at the end of the year, and no paid holidays. Atrocious. I would never take a job with such stingy benefits again, if it’s in any way avoidable. That’s just not enough. I was constantly stressed and burned through my sick days.

    1. Allison*

      Yeesh, I can imagine that being super stressful! My freshman year roommate was an architecture major, and she spent a lot of time in the studio. I heard her and her fellow arch majors refer to it as “archi-torture.” If being a student was that bad, being an actual architect must be incredibly demanding.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Now I understand why architects are so whiny.
        Seriously, I spoke with a lot of them at Exjob and all they did was bitch. I get it now. And I can’t blame them.

  30. mel*

    Ugh I’ve never taken longer than a week vacation, mostly due to the guilt of putting so much strain on my coworkers! I don’t think I will even take time off this year at all, but I know that I’ll be covering about four months of vacation which will be absolute hell. My coworkers have no problem each taking TWO MONTHS of vacation every single year during christmas, but here I am, denying myself even a week because I know how much it sucks to be stuck with double workload, and holy crap I want out of this place.

    / end vacation rant

    1. mel*

      Heh I don’t want to give the impression that we get that much paid vacation. It’s not paid, there’s no health benefits, no holidays, no weekends, no raises… don’t get your hopes up! LOL

  31. K*

    #1: People have the right to a personal life. I like to write NC-17 fanfiction and cosplay in my own private time and consider it is all done in my own time and with my own resources, I would be absolutely furious if someone went to my employer with it to try and get me fired. Same principle here. What a person enjoys in their own private time is none of the employers business. Employees are there to do a job during work hours. When they leave that office, they can do whatever they please provided it’s legal.

  32. Taylor*

    In my experience in apparel (in LA), you generally get one week of vacation after a year of accruing it. This seems pretty standard to me in these creative fields (corporate and non-corporate alike). Definitely think it sucks, and because I’ve had a few jobs in the past few years, I haven’t been able to take a vacation in about 4 years! Oh well.

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