employee gets drunk and belligerent on business trips, employee referrals, and more

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

1. Employee gets drunk and belligerent on business trips

I need to know the proper way to handle the fact that one of our employees drinks at night while on the road with the crew. Our company pays for the hotel rooms and the guys bunk two to a room. We are getting complaints that one of the guys drinks every night and becomes loud and belligerent and it is difficult for the other employees to share a room with him.

“Tyrion, I’m getting reports that when you drink in the evenings on business trips, you’re loud and disruptive when you come back to the hotel. What’s going on?”

…. Followed by, “When you’re on company-paid travel and sharing space with other employees, we need you to considerate and respectful of your colleagues. You’re an adult and I’m not going to police your drinking, but I have an obligation to ensure that other employees aren’t impacted by it. That means that if I get further reports of this, we will need to ____.” (Fill in with whatever you deem appropriate consequences: pull him off the road, let him go, whatever it might be.)

2. Are employee referrals effective?

Are employee referrals effective? Do most companies these days take them seriously? Can we assume that we will at least receive some sort of confirmation or does it not really matter much that another employee referred us? If we don’t hear back in a certain time frame, should we just assume they won’t be getting back to us?

It depends on the type of the referral. There are three types, in order of least effective to most effective: (1) the “this is my brother-in-law’s neighbor, and I don’t really know him but he asked me to forward his resume along” referral, (2) the “I know Jane socially and think she’s smart and driven but have never worked with her before” referral, and (3) the “I used to work with Jane and she was awesome and I can personally vouch for her work” referral. The first is unlikely to give you a significant advantage, whereas the third carries a lot of weight (as long as the person referring you is known to do good work themselves and to have good judgment) and the middle one will usually at least get you looked at.

It sounds like you’re the person being referred. If you’re in the first category, I’d treat it as basically the same as any other job application (meaning that you might hear back and you might not). If you’re in the second or third category and you don’t hear anything after a few weeks, you could mention to your referrer, “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I haven’t heard anything back from Teapots Inc., but thank you for referring me nonetheless!” It’s possible that that will nudge them to follow up on your behalf — but that’s solely in their court. On your end of things, your best bet is just to move on mentally and let it be a pleasant surprise if you do get contacted.

3. My manager keeps calling me while I’m out sick

I am currently off sick with bronchitis. I rang my department and explained i was going to be off. I have been to my GP, who said I can self-certificate (Ed. note: This appears to be a U.K. thing) for the first 7 days. I let the department know. My manager rang but I was alseep and rang back and spoke to somone else in the team and told them I wouldn’t be in. My manager rang again but again I missed the call. Every time I call back but she has either left or in a meeting. This has happened nearly every day. I feel like im being harassed by her. Surely she shouldn’t keep ringing me?

Leave her a message that says this: “Jane, since we seem to be playing phone tag (probably because I’m sleeping a lot), will you shoot me an email at my home email, which is X, to let me know what you need? I’m hoping I’ll be back in next week, but I’ll let you know once I know for sure.”

4. How to keep a good paper trail

I wanted to ask how can employees keep a good paper trail at work. Whenever I thought of keeping a paper trail, I always visualize retaining email conversations. But I understand that there might be circumstances where we cannot use email to communicate with our colleagues and we might not always be able to sent a confirmation email after discussion with our colleagues. What do you suggest we do in these circumstances?

I don’t want situations where I will explain that a coworker said this task is how it is done, and have the coworker deny they ever said it just because I do not have a good paper trail of our conversation.

Do you have specific reason to fear that’s going to happen with a particular person? If so, it’s fine to send a quick email summary after a conversation, with a note like “Just wanted to write this up so we both have the details and can consult it later if we need to.” (You reference situations where you wouldn’t be able to do that, but I’m not sure what those would be — you can nearly always do that.)

But if you don’t have reason to worry that you’re going to get into a he-said/she-said, or if you don’t actually need to have written record of something, I wouldn’t do it solely to create a paper trail — that’s going to come across a little strangely and won’t be a good use of your time. If you’re dealing with a particular problem person or problem situation, then sure — but there’s no need to do it just for the sake of doing it. (You will hear differently from people who work in highly toxic environments and thus have learned to always do it, but again, that goes back to assessing your situation and figuring out if there’s actually a need or not.)

5. A recruiter reached out to schedule a phone interview but I haven’t heard back

I applied for a job on a company website. About a week later (this past Monday), the recruiter for the position sent me an email to say that he reviewed my resume and wanted to set up a 30-minute phone call to talk more about my background. He suggested I supply 3-5 dates/times in the next week. I wrote back a couple hours later to say my schedule was a bit uncertain this week and that I needed to wait until the next day before I could suggest some options. I followed up the next day (Tuesday) as promised and proposed three days (with a 3-hour window on each day). The first option I proposed was two days later (Thursday), so I wrote him again (a third time) late Wednesday afternoon to explain that it was getting a bit late in the day and I wanted to find out if he had a chance to review my schedule (and if the next morning would work for him). I also asked if he could please let me know by that evening since I was holding the date/time open. Still no word.

The only email I have receive from him was his initial email to me on Monday morning. I think it is reasonable that I should have received some kind of communication from him by now. Maybe this happens occasionally. At this point I do not plan on writing back for a few days to see what happens. What course of action would you suggest in situation like this?

It’s in his court. Assume this isn’t happening for whatever reason, move on, and let it be a pleasant surprise if he does get back to you.

Yes, that sucks, but it’s also really, really common. You’ve followed up twice, and there’s really nothing more you can do without being overly pushy.

{ 199 comments… read them below }

  1. Beezus

    #4 – I found that the “Beezus didn’t tell me about that” excuse worked once or twice, and after that my management figured out that there were significant performance/responsibility issues in play and it didn’t really fly anymore. I scheduled remedial training using our calendar system, and invited the team manager to attend (she rarely did, but it documented that I scheduled remedial training on Process X for future reference.) After remedial training, I handled follow-up questions/issues primarily via email, with detailed written, bulleted directions, and threw in notes like, “you may remember from our training session on Oct 1st…”, or “this is the thing we talked about on Thursday, you need to XYZ before you ABC”, or “I sent you some detailed directions on that last month, but if you can’t locate them I’ll be happy to forward them again”, just to make it clear that these were things we’d covered before. I don’t do this with most people, though, I just had a situation in the last year where the person I handed some work off to was a terrible fit and also had some integrity/blame shifting issues.

    1. OP #4

      I would worry a little more when a he said/she said conversation pop up suddenly and caught me off guard.

      I might not usually start messages with “This is what we talked about yesterday” because it might take up email space and make the message longer than it should be or it might seem not direct enough. Yes, I agree that this is only necessarily if the situation is prone to be “forgotten” by most people.

      I apologized if I seem to be over-thinking this. But sometimes accessing when to be more cautious of the need for paper trails can be hard.

      1. The Beautiful Poem by Richard Brautigan

        One thought: if you need to keep a “paper trail” just for yourself (ie, someone just talked to you, told you some things, and you’d like a record of this conversation, even if it’s just your own notes), try writing it up and emailing it to yourself. It will be time and date stamped, probably not easy to modify. And if you have a folder containing a number of such notes to yourself, it becomes difficult for anyone to believe that you’re just making stuff up.

      2. Cambridge Comma

        Depending on the task. You could make a checklist for it and mail that. That might seem helpful rather than mistrustful.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        I live and die by email trail. In our world, we conduct most business re details via email or we send a confirming if it’s verbal. Outlook is an extension of my short and long term memory, bless it.

        A confirming email doesn’t have to be stiff and formal or long and super detailed. Hit the basics quickly and then the memory is there for everybody. Also gives other parties a chance to correct or clarify misunderstandings.

        Now, if you send 10 confirming emails a day, you’ll annoy the crap out of other people so, use judgement about what needs to be confirmed and retained by all. Because we have almost all of our detail conversations via email anyway, we might send a few confirmings per week.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

          Yes! I actually find it extremely helpful after a conversation (especially if a colleague has caught me in the break room, at the printer, walking down the halls, etc.) to receive an email.

          Especially (as Wakeen point out) because it gives me a chance to clarify/follow-up.

      4. Rose

        Especially in workplaces that can be a little cliquey. Mine tends to be, and sometimes I’ll think that things have simmered down, and a he said/she said incident will pop up out of nowhere. Unfortunately, 90% of the staff here don’t have access to our email system (I do, but the people I have trouble with do not), so confirmation emails aren’t really possible. I’ve started keeping a notebook with a summary of important conversations, and letting people know that I’m writing it down “so we both remember”. I kind of think it makes me look a little paranoid and overly fastidious, but the first time somebody forgot to do an important thing and tried to say that I “didn’t tell them about it”, I pulled out the notebook and said “remember this morning I asked you for this and you said you would do ABC, and we agreed that I would write it down”. Suddenly there was no more blame game, and I was back to only taking the fall for things that were actually my fault.

        I hate doing it, but I love my actual job, so I’d rather document than die on the hill of someone else’s forgetfulness.

        1. Ad Astra

          Would it be appropriate to encourage your coworkers to write this stuff down as well? Keeping it in your own notebook gives you documentation, but if people are honestly forgetting what you told them, there’s still a problem. The fact that not everyone can access your email system makes me wonder if you work in retail or food service or something, where keeping a notebook handy would be difficult, but I thought I’d throw that out there.

          1. CodeWench

            I also made the assumption that #4 was working in an industry where not everyone has an email address. There are way more of them than you would think. When I worked in retail,we had a shared notebook where managers left notes for each other on tasks that needed to be done and I could see something similar working in this case. Documenting processes and procedures in advance could also help. If the OP has access to a copy machine, they could also take notes of the conversation and make a copy of it for the person while keeping the original for themselves.

            1. Rose

              Retail was a good guess by Ad Astra–I actually work in elder care, and we’re a little behind on the times and still do everything on paper.

            2. OP #4

              I am not working in retail. But I will be working in a job where there will be a lot of things to learn and a lot of policies to follow. I wanted to make sure I and my supervisors and/or colleagues can agree on what I think they had taught me and not say “I didn’t say it like that” when I personally feel very sure that they did say it that way.

          2. Rose

            I meant to put “forgetting” in quotes–there’s been a distinct pattern of my coworkers simply neglecting to do things that I’ve asked of them and then telling our supervisor that the reason they didn’t do it was because I didn’t tell them to, when (based on their reactions to the task and my previous history with them) they didn’t feel like doing it. And vice versa–I had a coworker who wanted to come in early to do something even though we’re not encouraged to work any overtime at all, so she came in early one day and told our supervisor that I told her she could do it, when I have no power over scheduling whatsoever. I almost got in trouble for overstepping my bounds, but luckily my supervisor believed me when I told her the truth.

            1. TootsNYC

              I kind of like the “group notebook” idea–it will provide a memory for everybody. And someone who genuinely forgot, and then lied because they don’t want to look bad, can look at the notebook before and after each shift, and then they won’t need to lie, because they’ll have been able to access a reminder.
              Or, your own notebook, but maybe where they can see it? (a marble notebook would keep people from tearing pages out…)

          3. the_scientists

            While I completely agree with you that people honestly forgetting is a problem, Rose’s coworkers are presumably adults, and it’s really their responsibility to manage their tasks and ensure they aren’t forgetting things, I think. I’m sure it’s not easy (I live and die by Outlook Tasks and to-do lists) but Rose has obviously figured out a way to ensure she is not forgetting things so it’s reasonable to assume that her coworkers can as well. Maybe I’m being overly harsh, but I’m not an elementary school teacher so it’s not really my job to remind my colleagues to write down what they need to do.

          4. Beezus

            Yup, make them write it down. I dealt one time with training someone who didn’t like to keep notes, and kept asking me the same questions over and over. Never again. Now I’ll pause as if I’m stopping myself, and say “oh, you’re going to want to write this down, I’ll wait while you get your notebook.”

        2. Cath in Canada

          Yeah, a notebook entry really covered my behind once in my last job. I’d written down “Q (colleague’s initial) will submit the application”, mixed in with my own action items, and then a couple of weeks later I got hauled into Q’s boss’s office to get yelled at for not submitting the application. I went to my desk, grabbed the notebook, brought it back in, found the right page, and pointed to the note I’d made. It worked because the notebook was full of notes from other meetings, so I obviously hadn’t just gone to my desk and written it out in the moment – there were other entries from after that meeting.

      5. Ad Astra

        I’m really curious to know what about your office/working situation is making you feel you need a paper trail. Are coworkers frequently claiming that you didn’t tell them something important? Do you think this is an issue of misunderstanding/forgetfulness, or do you suspect the coworkers are kind of throwing you under the bus?

        1. Academic Librarian

          Paper trail. Report is “not remembering” “you didn’t say that” “that is not how you told me” “that is not when you told me it was due” ” employee is consistently late” “deadlines ignored or missed”

          Recap every verbal conversation. Cersei, this morning at 8:30 AM, I noted verbally that our working hours are from 8:00 am to 5:30 with an hour for lunch. We had discussed this at last Friday’s coaching meeting. It is imperative to meeting expectations that you be at your desk at “start of day.”

          email to myself dated Tuesday June 30- I reminded Cersei verbally that the statistics report was due to me five days after the last day of the month.

          Cersei, The monthly statistics are due five days after the end-of-month. I reminded you verbally on the 30th. It is the 17th and I have not received them. It is essential for my work to proceed that I receive these on time.

          This is a pain. but…. this is a paper trail that will hold up in a union grievance.

        2. Retail Lifer

          I work in an environment where all three happen regularly, so I try to have all important conversations in email (or, as Alison suggested, at least follow up via email if the conversation was had in person). For the team I manage, everything important I tell them verbally is also backed up with a written memo that they need to initial. It seems extreme, but there is so much backstabbing, lying, and bus-throwing here that it’s necessary. My paper train has saved me countless times.

          1. Retail Lifer

            Also, we’re regularly asked to break policy, often to the point where we could get fired for what we’re asked to do. I don’t break policy and I keep all requests to do for future reference.

        3. OP #4

          I just wanted to be a more careful person. I sometimes feel that I lose track of what was being discussed in the past. And with the need to explain things to new coworkers and to learn from old ones, keep so many trails can be daunting.

  2. Liz in a Library

    I’m kind of surprised that number 1 isn’t a more serious conversation. Of course drinking in the evenings while on a work trip shouldn’t be policed, but becoming habitually belligerent with other employees because of it is something that would get you a “knock it off or you’re out the door” in my book.

    1. Sparkly Librarian

      Sounds like just what Alison is recommending here. “If I get further reports of this [belligerent behavior], we will need to [let you go]” is an option, if it’s a serious enough offense to only get that first warning.

      1. BizzieLizzie

        But if they were not sharing rooms – would it matter that he was being belligerent in splendid isolation of his single room.

        I can think of a lot of things that are unacceptable (as in cause a disturbance for the other sharer) in a room sharing scenario which don’t matter a hoot otherwise.

        1. Knitting Cat Lady

          If employee were drunk and belligerent to other guests or hotel staff that’d matter to me, if I were an employer.

          If employee were alone in their room, ranting at the walls that’d be fine.

          If employee were making a nuisance of themselves in the hotel lobby or the hotel bar, repeatedly, that would be a problem.

          Because the hotel could decide that, nope, they don’t want to do business with that particular corporate client anymore.

          Which could result in higher traveling costs for the company, if the hotel in question was the cheapest in the area.

          1. BizzieLizzie

            Like your name!

            Very true it depends on ‘room’ v ‘lobby’. But the OP specifically talked about the problem it caused in the room share, hence I assumed that is where the issue was.

        2. OfficePrincess

          It’s also possible that he’s coming back and being loud enough that he can be heard through the walls into the hallway or other rooms. In that case, it would still matter even if he wasn’t sharing a room. I can easily imagine someone who gets loud and belligerent while drunk yelling when the toothpaste squirts out too hard or there’s nothing on TV, etc.

          1. BizzieLizzie

            Ha. I can imagine someone doing this first thing in the morning due to no coffee;)

                1. Cath in Canada

                  My former roommate would drink a strong coffee right before bed most weeknights. She claimed that it didn’t stop her from getting to sleep, and that she woke up with way more energy than if she skipped the evening caffeine. She was weird though. Lovely, but weird.

              1. JB (not in Houston)

                Ha. At old job, my manager was bringing around a new employee first thing in the morning one day, and he said “And this is [JB], she does XYZ. And we don’t really talk to her until she’s had her coffee.” Not because I would be mean but because I just didn’t process much or think fast until the caffeine kicked in. I hadn’t realized before then that other people had noticed. I was there, but I wasn’t *there*.

                I yell a lot before coffee, but it’s all in my head. After coffee, the world is wonderful.

                At least until I get on the road and get road rage, anyway.

                1. JMegan

                  I was once doing a project that involved travelling out of town for several days in a row. I would meet my colleague at a subway station, and she would drive the rest of the way.

                  By Day 3, she had already figured out that the best course of action was to hand me a coffee as soon as I was in the car, and then give me ten minutes to drink it before making conversation. Like you, I’m not angry without my coffee, but I’m certainly not to be considered “awake!”

        3. The Cosmic Avenger

          The thing is, if Tyrion had both the judgment and the restraint to only drink when they wouldn’t disturb anyone else, this never would have happened in the first place. The problem isn’t the circumstances, it’s Tyrion’s inability to control his drinking when he knows it will likely affect other people. This behavior can’t be judged in isolation because it didn’t occur in literal isolation, which is precisely the problem.

          1. Kelly L.

            And I really love that Alison called him Tyrion. It’s so apropos and it’s giving me great mental images.

          2. AMT

            Yep. Tyrion’s poor judgment *must* be spilling over to other areas of his work life. I can’t imagine an otherwise competent, considerate employee who just happens to have this one teensy problem.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger

              Eh, plenty of addicts are very responsible when they’re not abusing, but once they let their dysfunction cause problems for other people, by definition they have lost control of the problem. Even if this is the first time that Tyrion has ever gotten that drunk in public, the fact that he let it affect his coworker is a sign that he needs to get help or it will happen again.

              1. AMT

                Right, I’m thinking that there are two possibilities: (a) he’s inconsiderate all the time, not just when he’s drinking, which is a problem, or (b) he’s only inconsiderate when he’s drinking heavily, and he’s evidently letting his heavy drinking happen during times that he should be sober.

          3. L McD

            Yeah, and the fact that he’s “belligerent” is a big part of the problem as well. I can guarantee you if I had a few too many and had to share a room with someone who wasn’t a close friend (or also drunk) I’d be pretty obnoxious too, but only because I’d be talking passionately about which is the best Superman movie until 3am. We all lose some filters and judgment when we drink, but becoming belligerent is its own problem entirely.

          4. Stranger than fiction

            True. The thing I’m wondering, though, is if the coworkers are encouraging drinking heavily and perhaps he’s going along with it, trying to be one of the guys or whatever, and simply doesn’t have the tolerance that the others do? I could and have seen this happening. Like work peer pressure.

        4. Ad Astra

          I guess it depends on the specific behaviors these coworkers are reporting. It’s possible he’s “belligerent” in the sense that he makes a racket when his roommates are trying to sleep, or starts divisive, heated conversations, or something like that. When I first read the letter, though, I assumed he was “belligerent” in the sense that he’s stumbling around and trying to start fights with anyone and everyone, which would be a problem regardless of the rooming situation.

          1. TootsNYC

            I think people in general are loathe to complain (exceptions exists, natch, and I’d factor that in if I knew that about the complaining employee), so if they’re saying “belligerent” instead of just “annoying,” I’d take it pretty seriously.

            They have to sleep in the same room as this guy; they end up in a closed-off room with him, no extra eyes and ears. So they feel pretty vulnerable. I’d take them seriously!

        5. Observer

          Yes, but so what? The employer should not need to pay for an extra room over what is a choice. (No one is forcing this guy to get drunk.)

          And I have to agree that drunk and belligerent are a problem even without room sharing. I’d be willing to bet that his behavior is out of bounds before he gets to his room ,too, but no one has brought it to the OP because “it’s not my business”, but when he makes trouble for them, it’s obvious that it IS “my business.”

      2. Liz in a Library

        Ah…it ended with “pull him off the road” when it was posted last night. Part of the answer must had been cut off.

    2. Emmie

      The employee could notify the manager of a medical condition (i.e. alcoholism) that may trigger medical accommodations or a medical leave. I’d have a conversation with HR or a review of this portions of your company manual to understand ahead of time how your company treats those things, and what conversation points would trigger those policies.

      1. Anon-167

        As far as I know, the law only requires employers to provide REASONABLE accommodations to medical issues or disabilities. I don’t think “put other employees into a situation where they are forced to deal with a belligerent drunk man” would be considered reasonable by anyone.

        That said, it couldn’t hurt to refer Tyrion to the company’s EAP, if they have one, just in case the drinking is something he needs or wants to seek help for.

  3. Carrie in Scotland

    OP 3: Usually, even though you are self cert-ing, you still have to phone into your manager to say you won’t be coming in today. At least, this has been the case in my jobs. You seem ti think that self cert-ing allows you not to do this – all self cert-ing is, is that you don’t need to go to your Dr for a doctor’s line/note.

    Your manager may be phoning you because she expects a phone call/voicemail left prior to your shift starting to say you are still off. And/or she wants to know if therr is any urgent work or if you have a meeting so she can let these people know.

    Feel better soon!

    1. TheLazyB

      WSS. Everywhere I’ve ever worked I’ve been expected to call in every day, unless it’s been long term. I know it’s horrible when you feel like crap though.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Same here! At my job we have to speak to our line manager (or another manager) by 10.00 each morning and it’s been pretty similar wherever I’ve worked. My current organisation says we have to check in daily even on long-term sick unless you are actually in hospital. OTT perhaps but if they want to listen to someone spluttering down the phone each day let them have it :)

        1. UKAnon

          I think long term sick is usually slightly different (I would expect weekly or monthly depending on the length of time you’re expecting to be out, but YMMV) but you’re definitely expected to call in every day when self-certing. AFAIK with a dr’s note you just have to touch base towards when it runs out, but I *think* businesses have to accept self-certing for the first seven days (?)

          1. Merry and Bright

            I agree, long-term sick is usually different and it is only in this job that I’ve heard of people on long-term sickness having to check in daily.

            I’m not sure on the exact timescale for employers having to accept self-certification though most of my employers have had their own variations here and there.

        2. FiveWheels

          I once had an HR manager phone me every day at 8.30 am while in hospital to see if I would be in that day.

          She was aware how long I was likely to be an in patient but seemed to think that phoning before the doctor had even done rounds would lure me out.

          Did I mention I was hospitalised for a life threatening condition, but it didn’t occur to her to even ask if I was likely to live? Lol. In retrospect, getting let go by those guys was a blessing.

          1. An anon regular

            I was just told by my boss that he needs to know in advance whether I’ll be available all next week.

            While my mother is having surgery.

            Even though I worked remotely through her last surgery.

            (ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

            1. NotMyRealName

              In that case my answer would be no, I will not be available to you at all next week. Unreasonable people get no cookies.

        3. TheLazyB

          Jesus. When I had crippling anxiety and depression and had a month’s sick note this would have pushed me over the edge.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I’m in the States and this is common here too. A lot of places have a policy of X days out sick and you need a note, but I’ve never had to do that. The longest I’ve been out was when I had my gallbladder removed–in this case, of course, I arranged the absence ahead of time, so there was no need to call in. Coming back was dependent on the surgeon’s say-so, but it happened right on time with what he projected.

    2. Apollo Warbucks

      Everywhere I’ve worked you had to call in everyday if you were out sick, which I find really annoying but still it’s normally very clearly set out in the employee hand book. All the self certificate is for is to save a trip to the doctors.

    3. Marzipan

      I’m pretty sure my employer wouldn’t expect me to call in every day if I’d told them from the outset that I couldn’t possibly be better the next day, but that they would if I wasn’t sure.

      (Nips off to check the policy – yep, I’m basically right; they ask you to call asap on day 1 and tell them either when you expect to be back, or when you’ll update them. So, “I feel horrible today, I’ll let you know tomorrow how I’m doing”, or ” I’m expecting to be back on Wednesday ” or whatever, but no requirement to call in daily.)

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Mine does. I was off work for 3 days a few months ago. I overslept one the 2nd day and woke up at 12 and assumed that as I hadn’t turned up for work they’d know I was still off sick. They did but my manager said (nicely) that I should phone even if it’s 3 hrs late!

      2. Dutch Thunder

        This is what we do at my work as well. It’s in the employer’s best interest that a sick employee gets to have a lie in in the morning to sleep off whatever is bugging them, to my mind.

        Call on the first day, hand over anything urgent, confirm when you’ll next be in touch or when you think you can come back, and emails or texts for follow ups are fine.

        If I get an email in the afternoon indicating this person definitely won’t be able to come back the next day yet, I don’t need a call in the morning, and they won’t have to wake up especially to tell me.

        1. Matt

          Same for me. We have three days of “self cert” without a doctor’s note, you call on the first day (or even email, although I’d follow up with a call if I get no email confirmation reply), and afterwards it’s basically in your own responsibility to keep your direct supervisor up to date on how it’s going and when you are planning to return … but a daily call, no, and certainly not early morning by start of the work day.

      3. Rose

        I always err on the side of caution, even if I don’t have to. When I had strep I got a doctor’s note that said I was not allowed to return to work for two days, but I still called on the second day to tell them how I was feeling even though it was obvious that I was still not allowed to be in.

        1. Allison

          strep’s a bit of an exception, because strep requires antibiotics, and at least where I live, you need to go to a doctor to get a prescription for penicillin, so it’s easy to get a note while you’re there.

    4. UK HR bod

      Agreed. Self-certing is just a process – your company can put whatever requirements they wish (within reason) on top of this. It actually sounds as though you haven’t spoken to your line manager at all, and it’s a requirement at most places that you speak to your manager not a team member to advise of your absence and expected return. She’ll have expectations placed on her to manage absence. She needs to talk to you to understand how long you are likely to be out for, what work needs picking up in your absence, and also to arrange how you will keep in touch whilst you’re off. This may be daily, or she may not need to speak to you until the end of the week, but you need to speak to her directly to cover this.

      1. Dutch Thunder

        This is a good point actually – the OP hasn’t actually spoken to her manager about her illness at all. From the above, all of us, those who have to check in daily and those who don’t, all speak to our manager on the first day.

        In this light, it makes sense that the OP’s manager is continuing to try to get in touch with her.

        1. Matt

          That being said, I still don’t get why there are so many people out there who prefer an all-day-long game of phone tag over dropping a short email at least saying what it’s all about … even if the policy is that the sick employee has to talk to his manager by phone, I have a certain dislike of this policy because it leaves the employee in a bad position if the manager is difficult to reach by phone (which also seems to be the case in the story of OP) – you are sick, feel bad, want to sleep, and still have to worry about how to reach your boss as not to violate company policy …

          1. Liz

            That’s true, but there *are* still people who use a desktop computer to check email rather than a phone/tablet/laptop. Many people in my office check email from their phones regularly, but I’m not one of them. (Mind you, I do have a laptop, but if I’m off sick I might not be using that to check email either.)

            Phone is more reasonable, but I’d expect a more useful voicemail such as: “Jane, can you call me back either between 10 and 10.30 or after 3? Thanks.”

            1. BananaPants

              I do not have the ability to check my work email through my phone. The only people who technically can do so on a mobile device are those with company-provided iPhones or iPads who have a particular required security app. Those folks are well above my (and my manager’s) paygrade. I can log in with Outlook web access from my personal laptop as long as the initial authentication program (prior to web access login) is working.

              When I need to call out I usually call my manager’s office – if he isn’t in, then I leave a voicemail. I guess I don’t see how it’s a difficult or onerus thing to check in and say, “Yup, still out today!”

              My workplace (in the US) does not require a doctor’s notice for any sick time use until it’s reached 3 consecutive days, but either one’s manager or HR has to be informed of the absence. It’s very unusual for people to take more than 2 days in a row; I’ve never done more than 2 days straight but when I have I’ve called in both days.

            2. Elizabeth West

              I can’t check work email through my phone either, but we do have a way to do it from home. But my boss has my cell number, so she would probably just call me anyway.

          2. Stranger than fiction

            If it were me then i would contact HR or another manager and/or email manager myself to cover my behind

    5. Ad Astra

      If I was diagnosed with bronchitis and knew I would be out at least a few days, I would tell my supervisor that on Day 1 and not expect to hear from her until at least Day 3. But I’m also in the U.S. and don’t really understand how self certifying, so maybe I’m missing something.

      Thankfully, all my jobs have allowed me to text or email when I call out sick, which is a godsend when you’re all goofy from NyQuil.

      1. UKAnon

        Self-certifying is basically that for the first few days employers accept your own diagnosis of cause and likely time off and don’t require a doctor’s note. You do have to visit a doctor whatever the cause after a certain amount of time though.

      2. Prismatic Professional

        My boss is awesome and is cool with being texted one of us will be out sick. It works amazingly well. :-) I’m so glad I don’t have to wait until the office opens and she’s at her desk if I’ve been up all night sick.

      3. Sarah

        Self-cert is usually 5 working days, where you manage yourself, and don’t need to give a doctor’s note. It still counts towards workplace’s sick days policies (eg if I know I have the ‘flu, and take 4 days off, I don’t need to get a doctor’s note, but it still counts as taking 4 days’ sick leave, and I’d still probably have a return-to-work meeting with my manager).

        After the self-cert period, you are expected to get a doctor’s note to ‘prove’ you’re off sick that you send to your workplace. Here the doctor can sign you off for varying amounts of time, it’s up to you – but you can’t go back into work while you’re signed off as you’re not covered by insurance (standard, may not be universal).

        The reasoning behind it is that there are lots of things where if you had to get a doctor note (food poisoning, migraine, ‘flu etc) then that is unnecessary bureaucracy, clogs up the doctors’ appointments which annoys everyone (eg rather than sitting in a darkened room drinking lots of water for a migraine, if that’s what you usually do, you’re in the surgery, and the doctor tells you to… sit in a darkened room drinking lots of water) – so it helps both doctors and patients.

        Of course, if an employee is self-certificating a lot with the same things, the manager should be picking up on this through the usual sickness policies, and if, eg, it’s 2 migraines a month, encouraging the employee to get checked out, by the Occupational Health team (is it something about working in the office?) and/or their doctor.

        (For USA types who don’t know our NHS system – the NHS is free at the point of demand for patients, so seeing your GP is free, but this doesn’t mean they want to pay for over-zealous employers who want proof that you have a migraine… which is pretty hard to prove anyway, if you’re not the type of person who goes white & throws up if you don’t sit in a darkened room etc)

    6. zora

      Fine, but first the OP said they did tell the department they would be out. And, if the manager is calling every day, she could leave a dang message saying that!

  4. Ruth (UK)

    I was referred to my job, just over a year ago. Mine was of the type ‘i know Ruth socially and think she’d be really good but haven’t worked with her ‘.

    I think it definitely helped me get an interview as my cv was not super strong (all my paid work experience had been retail, though I had a good degree). The interview went very well. Several months later, that friend referred another person who was also hired, and then a third person who was interviewed but not hired.

    I reckon if you’re getting lots of interviews anyway, a referral wont help you loads, but for me it was what helped me get to the interview stage.

    1. Felicia

      This is how i got my previous job as well. I wouldn’t have gotten an interview otherwise.

      1. Hellanon

        I have gotten virtually every job I’ve had this way, either via knowing someone socially or through professional associations or from having worked with them directly. Of course, the referral just opens the door – you have to walk through it yourself…

    2. Rose

      I referred someone for a job who was an amazing worker (I’d gone to grad school with her) but had been in a toxic environment in her previous job and left stuck with being a target of a lot of interpersonal issues that had nothing to do with her. She was concerned about her bad experience at her last job hindering her in future positions, so I passed on the message about how great she was. She got the job and has been here for several years. It’s great to have someone on the inside if there’s a circumstance beyond your control that you think might negatively affect your job search.

  5. Mac

    Thanks for posting and answering #5. That’s a nice perspective. I would like to be pleasantly surprised if I hear back but I’m not going to dwell on it or ping him yet again. The initial temptation to hang on wanes when you realize it shouldn’t be this hard (a bit like dating, should be easy if it’s a good match). This is the first job I have applied to in my job search this year and although I figured things like this happen I did not realize just how common it is.

    1. Mac

      UPDATE: Well, I was pleasantly surprised when the recruiter emailed me on Monday to set up a call the next morning (yesterday). I am not sure why my initial emails fell silent, but I’m going with the flow. I thought the phone interview went well and it sounds like I will be getting a call back for additional follow up.

  6. Beti

    #1 – How common is it that co-workers travel together for business and are expected to share a room? There’s no travel in my current job but I’m working towards a career change and travel is not uncommon in that field. There’s no way on earth I’d feel comfortable sharing a room with someone I worked with. I’ve been at my current job for a decade and know my co-workers very well and I’m still completely weirded out by the thought of it. But is this really something that happens regularly? I’d totally be fine with paying for the room myself or making up the difference or whatever – is that something that is done?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Depends on the field; it’s sometimes a thing that happens. It’s more common in less well-funded fields and if you’re more junior. You can usually upgrade yourself to a single room by paying the difference.

    2. The IT Manager

      “On the road with the crew” makes it sound like a blue collar job rather than a white collar one.

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster

        Or a production job. I’ve travelled as a producer with film crews and also with museum exhibit installation crews.

        1. lawsuited

          Exactly. I used to work in (big) event production and this was the usual set-up for crew.

      2. ConstructionHR

        That’s my take. Utility workers / machinery installers / construction crews / etc.

      3. Dynamic Beige

        I have a white collar (or pink, depending on your viewpoint) job where I go on the road with a crew. The only times I have ever had to share a room, which was 3 times in over 20 years was in one case the town was booked up (Monte Carlo) and another we had a large suite for some reason with separate bedrooms/bathrooms huge kitchen/livingroom area and wrap around deck (it was kind of insane). The first time I had to share a room, I kind of forgot about. I’m sure it was done to save money and I was too young/naive to know that that wasn’t the way things were usually done.

        Overall, in my industry sharing rooms is Not Done and dreaded. The crew guys are more often required to do it because: money.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Very common in the nonprofit sector (I’m ~15 years into my career and have never not been expected to share a room; at my last organization, which was very well funded, even the ED shared a room).

      1. Traveler

        Same here. I’m jealous of those in the corporate world that don’t have to do this with any regularity.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Weirdly, I think I’ve only shared a room once in a 20-year career in nonprofits — but it was in Aspen, where every hotel room is ridiculously expensive. (And it was great — there are no bad hotels in Aspen, so we got an incredibly luxurious room, which was very much not how we normally travelled.)

        (But it’s also possible my memory is going; I travelled a ton in my 20s for a pretty frugal organization and I cannot imagine they didn’t have us share rooms, but I have no memory of it. Maybe Aspen wiped all the others from my mind.)

    4. nonprofit chick

      We are definitely not asked to share, but I shared a room once on an international trip with a gay male colleague (I am female). The area we were staying in had few hotels and the only one we could get was very expensive, so we decided to share as we were both pretty mellow about it & we didn’t want to strain our budget. However, it was pretty much a resort, so everyone there thought we were a married couple who also worked together, which was extremely awkward/hilarious. I mean, the room had 2 beds obviously but they still assumed. It’s a very homophobic country so actually the assumption was more awkward/painful than hilarious. We were glad to leave.

    5. Retail Lifer

      I traveled once or twice a year for training and conferences at my last retail job and we always had to share a room. ALWAYS. No way was the company paying for 600 rooms when they could pay for 300.

    6. cuppa

      I work with my best friend and we voluntarily share a room when we travel together. It has been encouraged that people share rooms when traveling with someone of the same sex at my place, and once or twice I have shared a room with other co workers. However, the last time I traveled I didn’t share a room and I didn’t get any kickback about it.

    7. Shannon

      The lower echelons of the US military are also expected to share a room. It varies from service to service where the break point is.

    8. Joanne

      This is a crew that replaces windows and does detail work they are gone a week at a time and the crews are consistently the same people. We typically have the superintendent in his own room and then the 2 other crew members share a room. Sometimes for a small company it is more financially feasible for 2 people to share a room to keep costs down and contracts to a reasonable amount.

    9. HB

      I had to share a room at national training for a Big 4 accounting firm. Apparently you have to “network” whilst brushing your teeth until you hit manager level.

  7. Dan

    #1
    I guess I want to know why the employer is too cheap to pay for individual rooms for employees. There are all kinds of reasons why people should get their own space…

    Hell, I’m up writing this at 4am, and if we were on the road, I just may very well be up at this time surfing the internet, reading about a coworker complaining about a guy who won’t go to bed like a normal person, or a boss complaining about a guy who won’t go to sleep at “lights out”.

    1. MK

      Getting individual rooms will almost-double the accomodation costs for the trip; and it sounds as if these are crews that are on the road regularly, so we are probably talking about a significant amount of money added to the operational costs. I get that some people have a real problem with sharing a hotel room, but calling the employer cheap because they won’t book single rooms is hardly reasonable.

      1. Ann O'Nemity

        Actually, I’m with Dan – it’s hard not to think that employers who require employees to share rooms are being cheap.

        1. fposte

          I think that feels true in white collar work, but it’s pretty common in a lot of industries. Then there are those where dormitory-type quarters are the norm–and it’s often because we the consumers/taxpayers are cheap, not just the employees.

        2. MK

          I can understand the reaction when it’s a one-time or occasional expense. Not when it’s a regular part of the work.

        3. Emmie

          I see these employers as both cheap and lazy. There are other ways to reduce or mitigate costs other than sharing rooms. A company can obtain an exclusive account with a particular hotel chain for discounts; evaluate whether some of this work can be remote thereby reducing travel costs; cross train individuals to preform multiple functions to better serve clients; switch to a lower cost hotel chain and / or set spending limits (with appropriate allowances for geography and peak hotel season / unexpected price surges.

          1. MK

            Some of your suggestions might prove impractical, if not impossible, others require that the company prioritize this matter when deciding how to do business and most would need even more resources spent. It’s very easy to say they could find another way if they wanted to, but the reality is often different.

    2. LQ

      I feel like there is a world of difference between someone reading on their laptop or surfing the web and being belligerently drunk. An angry drunk can quickly and easily become a big danger and while it sounds like this guy hasn’t assaulted anyone, yet, it wasn’t, he gets drunk and passes out on the floor of the hotel room rather than the bed, or gets drunk and talks to himself all night. Belligerent is different.

      Not saying that it wouldn’t be a good idea (though I would NOT want to see this guy rewarded for being a belligerent drunk by being given his own room while others still had to share) but that might not be an option and I feel like saying reading=belligerent drunk is a false equivalence.

    3. lawsuited

      At the big events my previous employer produced, there would be a set-up crew of 40 guys (who supervised local union labour) who would be onsite for 16 hours a day and would literally only eat and sleep once they got back to the hotel. They were paid a substantial premium for their work hours, and believe me, they preferred the event budget being allocated to their pay rather than to individual rooms (which were very pricy in major cities like NYC). Management employees who worked their regular hours, were onsite less and needed to work in the evenings, etc. had their own rooms.

    4. Ad Astra

      In general, I think it’s better to provide individual rooms for work travel. But the fact that the OP calls the employees a “crew” makes me think this is a group that routinely travels together, in an industry where this is the norm. I’m not sure getting the employee his own space would fix the problem at all.

    5. Sigrid

      Eh, if this is something like construction — which the phrasing “crew” would indicate — than sharing rooms is completely normal, and no company could afford to double their boarding costs by putting people in separate rooms (because another company who didn’t would outbid them and get the project).

    6. Sarah

      Depends how many people are on a trip – if it’s an event and you have 50 people staying in the town, that’s a significant bill.

  8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

    If you’re sending an entire crew of construction workers to a job site for long or longer term, that’s vastly different from sending four people to a trade show for a week. Multiply 40 workers by four months, example. That cost difference could be the difference between winning the bid and everybody having work or not.

    1. SystemsLady

      And if it is in a small town, I can guarantee its only nearby hotel will be consistently sold out throughout the project.

      Sharing rooms also decreases the risk you won’t be able to find rooms and people will be forced to stay out of town and drive in.

    2. Colette

      Yeah, a lot of people seem to believe that employers have a magic bucket of money they just don’t want to use. Even companies with huge profits have limitations (if they spend too much on operating costs, the stock price sill drop and a lot of people (and retirement plans) will lose money) and for some companies, spending too much will put them out if. Usi ness and throw everyone out of work.

    3. BananaPants

      My brother’s active duty military, and when they’re at the shipyard or on short term deployments the government puts them up in an all-suite residential/extended stay hotel (like a Residence Inn or Extended Stay America) so that they usually have a kitchen/kitchenette, there’s a fitness facility and pool, on-site laundry, etc. They do share rooms, which seems very reasonable when they’re going to be there for potentially as long as 3-4 months. It’s more like having roommates in a college dorm than sharing a hotel room with people you may not know much/at all for a short period of time.

      I personally would not be comfortable sharing a room on a business trip, but I’m also female in a mostly-male organization and it would be highly unlikely that I’d ever be on a trip with another female employee to begin with. My corporate policy is that all traveling employees MUST have their own hotel room.

    4. Sigrid

      Yeah, my husband is an engineer, and when he’s sent to a site, he is given his own room — but he’ll only be there for a day or two. The construction workers that are there for the six or seven months of the project share rooms. (There is, of course, also a class divide here. I doubt one of the senior engineers would be asked to share a room no matter how long they were there.)

      1. Shannon

        Pretty much this.

        In some construction fields, you get paid a straight per diem. I’ve known some workers who elect to share a room just so they can pocket the remainder.

    5. Elizabeth West

      Yes.
      During the aftermath of the 2007 ice storm, we had crews from tree-trimming outfits as far away as Florida travel here to help get the city back on its feet. They were here for several weeks. Some of them stayed at the motel I was in, and they had more than one guy to a room. I would think separate rooms might have cost too much for smallish companies like those.
      Off-topic, but I was so glad they managed to come up here. That was a freaking nightmare.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Oops, meant to add that the motels were full up with people who had been displaced from their homes with no power, so they probably wouldn’t have been able to book separate rooms anyway.

  9. Long time lurker

    Referrals: I just started the world’s most incredible new job, to which I was referred by a good friend with whom I’ve never worked, but who’s seen the results of my client work. From what I understand, she went to the hiring manager and said “I think LTL would be a good fit for the job; I’ve never worked with her but I can attest that LTL is really smart and her clients love her and she’s good at what she does”. That was enough to get me the initial interview; my friend bowed out from the rest of the process, and I had 2 more interviews before accepting the job.

    The company where I work now, though, has an explicitly-stated preference for referrals from current employees; they have a particular company culture and believe that the best way to find new talented employees who are a good fit for the company is through referrals from current high-performing employees.

    1. hermit crab

      I work at a company with a similar preference for referrals. There’s an official bonus program for employees who refer successful candidates (as in, the candidate gets the job and stays for at least a certain period of time), and I think we get a fairly large percentage of our new hires from referrals.

    2. cuppa

      I think Alison does a good job of laying out the different degrees of referrals here. My industry requires a certain degree, so a lot of us go to school together and know each other. Our application system has a spot where you can indicate if you know someone who works at my place and name them. Someone I went to school with can easily put my name down, but that doesn’t mean that I’m referring or recommending them. I actually saw my name on someone’s application, and I called HR and let them know that I wasn’t recommending them. That’s when I learned that they actually don’t pay any attention to this because it’s so easy to just put someone’s name down. I think this is pretty common.

      However, I have recommended people by contacting HR directly and explaining my relationship with them. So it really does depend on how the referral happens.

      1. Shannon

        Maybe I’m wrong, but, I’ve always interpreted the “Do you know anyone who works at this company?” line as an opening for HR to ask that person about you or for them to evaluate potential conflicts of interest.

  10. AshleyH

    #2-
    Also, be aware of what I call “the reverse referral”- aka “I worked with Bob at my last job/know Bob socially and he’s interested in X, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend him”

    I get that occasionally at work (I’m an internal recruiter). Usually, if I have time, I’ll still reach out to Bob just so Bob knows his name was passed on, but won’t actually move forwRd with his candidacy.

    I also have one or two employees who are great workers but their referrals always suck (I think it’s because they refer everyone they’ve ever met? I’m not sure), so those carry less weight.

    1. OfficePrincess

      Just as dangerous is any type of referral from someone who has a bad reputation/is on a PIP. If Jane says you’re the best worker she’s ever seen, but Jane’s work is crap, you’ll have to really, really, wow me to get past a quick initial screen.

  11. GreatLakesGal

    As a USer, I am totally envious of the UK sick policies!

    In my current job, you get 1 day sick without a doctor’s note. A “no call, no show,” baring falling into a coma after a car wreck or a building collapse, is grounds for immediate dismissal.

    If you are lower on the food chain, even an act of God won’t save you from being fired after a no call, no show.

    I have overheard our HR person on the phone, “The hurricane was on the news! You should have planned ahead to get here on time!”

    Also, they call being terminated your “final warning,” ( this is the official wording) which I find darkly hilarious.

    1. Samantha

      A doctor’s note after ONE day is ridiculous. I think the last couple places I’ve worked, the policy was that they COULD require one after three consecutive missed days, but I didn’t get the feeling that happened very often.

      1. mdv

        Where I work, they “may” request it if you are off more than 2 days… and the extreme variation often comes in where someone calls in sick all the time vs people who never call in sick unless it is drastic (like me)… But I’m crazy enough that because “I felt fine, just had a bad cough,” I actually did go to work while recovering from pneumonia last year. But that only worked because I was ambulatory, and was not doing any more than I would be at home…. Sitting in a chair at work is no different than sitting in a chair at home. (Laying in bed all day gives me migraines, so that would have just made me worse.)

      2. Retail Lifer

        Same here. If someone missed a big event that was required attendance or missed several days during a blackout period, then they would most likely be asked for a note. Otherwise, it never happens.

    2. Liz

      That seems very draconian. I haven’t needed a doctor’s note yet, and I’ve been at this [U.S.] employer almost 10 years. I just call in (well, email, usually) say why I’m out and when I hope to be back, and send occasional updates if necessary.

      1. hermit crab

        That’s what we do too. I just checked our policy and it says “Managers may request a doctor’s note from the employee at any time” but I’ve never heard of this actually happening.

      2. Windchime

        Yeah, I’ve never had to have a doctor’s note, either. Except for the time that my doctor filled out a paper when I was going to have foot surgery and would need to be out on FMLA for a couple of weeks.

        I had bronchitis and terrible asthma earlier this spring and was in and out of work for weeks. I just texted my boss and let him know. His reply was usually along the lines of, “Rest up and stay hydrated. See you when you feel better.” Yes, I know that I am very, very lucky.

    3. LQ

      I think this varies greatly. Even within an employer. I’ve never worked for a boss who would have requested a doctors note for anything short of FMLA. But within this org I work at now I know there are bosses who request it (generally after 2-3 days or if someone is chronically out, but there is at least one supervisor who requests anything more than 1 day have a dr note). So I think a lot of this is company to company and even with in a place boss to boss.

    4. Liane

      LastJob doesn’t take doctor’s notes into account, unless – I presume – as part of the documention related to FMLA.

    5. BananaPants

      That seems draconian, but I know there are plenty of US workplaces that required a doctor’s note after one sick day. My husband worked in a call center for almost 3 years and had to get a doctor’s note for any more than 1 sick day. Guess who never took more than one sick day, even when he was still feeling like crud? It’s silly to expect someone with a bad cold to go to the doctor when they’re just going to be told, “Rest and fluids!” I know that already, I don’t need to drop the $120+ that an office visit costs me on my lovely high deductible health care plan.

      My employer “may” require a doctor’s note after 3 consecutive sick days, and requires it/may initiate a short term disability claim after 5 consecutive days. Unless someone is having very major performance issues I haven’t heard of them ever actually asking for doctor’s note for a 3-4 day absence. The policy prevents people from calling out sick for a full work week with “the flu” when they’re actually in Cancun, but allows someone to stay home for a day or two if legitimately sick, but not sick enough to warrant a doctor’s visit.

      1. the_scientists

        Luckily, many awesome doctors both in Canada and in the US are starting to push back against these ridiculous sick note policies. There have been a couple of cases in the news recently of doctors writing strongly worded notes to employers, admonishing them for their sick note requirements. As you said, when someone has a virus (i.e. the flu/a cold), what they need is rest and fluids. What they DON’T need is to sit in the waiting room at a walk in/urgent care/ family doctor’s office for hours to be told “yup, you have the flu!”. Plus, even in the land of universal health care, sick notes do cost money! (not a lot, like $10, but it’s still kind of silly for someone to have to pay to prove they are sick). What the clinics don’t need is sick people breathing all over their other patients, especially the very young and very old, who are more vulnerable to these types of illness and experience more severe consequences with them. With wait times being a big issue in Canada, doctors also don’t need these people taking up time that could be used to see other patients with more urgent or more treatable conditions. Because unless your flu is bad enough to warrant hospital admission, there’s not a whole lot that a doctor can do for you and it’s just better for everyone if you stay home.

        1. Decimus

          I miss my old job. The only time I got a doctor’s note was when I got sick while taking vacation time the day before departure and was medically declared too sick to fly home. The company had a policy about not paying for called-in sick time the day before or after a holiday or vacation and I wanted to prove I was genuinely sick.

    6. Ad Astra

      This policy is awfully strict, but probably not uncommon. I’ve never been asked to provide a doctor’s note, and I remember a coworker was once very offended when our manager asked for a doctor’s note because the employee called out sick the night before instead of waiting until the next morning (apparently it’s suspicious to feel sick and know you won’t be feeling any better in the morning? I assume this manager has never had food poisoning or the flu). Of course, in that situation, we had no stated policy about doctor’s notes and the manager did take a ridiculously accusatory tone.

      I would be mad if I had to pay for a doctor to tell me to rest and drink lots of fluids. It’s stupid to have to drag yourself out of bed (not very restful!) to see a doctor who can’t do anything for you.

      1. cuppa

        The only time I have ever had my mom intervene in my work life was when I was a teen working at a big box store. I had a terrible migraine and couldn’t move my head without the room spinning around me. I called in to work and the manager that day said I needed a doctor’s note. She called him right back and told him that the last thing I needed to do was go to the doctor, but I still wasn’t coming in to work that day. It worked.

      2. Dana

        Never mind I think I’ve gotten sicker being in a doctor’s office. Of course mine makes you wait sometimes two hours for your appointment…

        1. OfficePrincess

          And I’m sure the young/elderly/compromised patients who are there for a RX refill or checkup want my germs.

  12. Lucky

    Re: #2, in the tech industry, it’s common to have an employee “refer” you for a job by sending you a special link to the application site. Whether that link gets you an extra look or not may vary from company to company, but it has mostly worked for me – it’s usually followed by someone checking my LinkedIn page and the referral is noted in the first contact by a recruiter. From my understanding, that referral link serves a second purpose, in that if you are hired, the referring employee gets a finder’s fee.

  13. The Cosmic Avenger

    I recommended a friend and former college roommate for a job with my company. Our jobs are very different, but both tech-related, so I have something of an idea of what he does, but I can’t vouch for his skills. I heard that the hiring manager said that while he could judge someone’s technical skills pretty well, the big unknown was usually fit, and the fact that I was friends with this person for decades said a lot about them. (Good, I think!)

  14. NickelandDime

    #4: I used to keep all kinds of files, print out emails, all kinds of crazy stuff. This is So Not Me – but it was basically ingrained in me by past paranoid managers and some toxic situations. Just years of files on things that no one would ever ask about, but forced to keep “just in case.” In my current job, my manager asked me, “Why are you keeping all of this sh*t?” I told him it was basically a bad habit at this point, but that if it were up to me, I’d toss every single item in the trash. He told me to do it – releasing me if you will – from being a file hoarder. I don’t keep anything now. Just some key emails on Outlook and final drafts of things. I’m a pretty organized person with a sharp memory and I keep what I need – but only that. I’m glad I’m in an environment that I can do that.

    #5: I’m sorry. I just had this happen to me about a month ago. This woman called ME and scheduled a phone interview. Never called me at the specified time and I never heard from her again. I just took it as information on how this organization might operate, and decided I didn’t have time for such foolishness.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I keep almost everything electronically, and if I’m running out of space I just zip up old stuff and move it to an archive. It’s saved our butts a few times that I have records going back for many, many years.

      1. NickelandDime

        It’s easy to keep emails this way. It’s when you have that manager that requires you to print them all out. And keep every single draft of everything you’ve ever written – and print that out. Information you receive in the mail – keep that too. It gets to be too much. And most of the time, you don’t need all of that.

        I’ve only had to search emails for things – never drafts or old files.

      2. Hlyssande

        Same here. We have a record retention policy in place that includes deleting emails older than 2 years, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone back between 3 and 4 years to find something. So many.

      3. Boop

        In HR we keep everything, so I’ve got lots of emails zipped up on my computer. I also keep a little notebook where I write down phone conversations and walk-in appointments, so I can keep track of whom I spoke to and when. It’s very helpful when tracking a situation that develops over time, because I can look back and see I spoke to the person on this date and that date, and we discussed x and y, and I took z action. I started doing this after a few times that employees tried to say “HR said I could do it!”.

        #5 – This type of thing happens to everyone. I had a phone pre-interview and was told they would contact me in a week with more information. That was in January, and I’m still waiting… ;)

  15. Allison

    #5, two possible reasons why this may be happening:

    – the recruiter has a busy schedule, full of interviews with candidates and debriefs with hiring managers, and they’re trying to figure out how they can fit you in. Maybe in the frenzy you fell through the cracks, and it may be a good idea to follow up.

    – the recruiter got a really good candidate in progress, and they want to see how things go with that person before they talk to anyone else

    – the hiring manager is in the process of changing his or her mind . . . again . . .

    – the requirements changed and you’re no longer what they’re looking for, and they’re not sure how to tell you this.

  16. Boo

    OP3, any chance you’re a bit new to the workforce? I only ask as I remember when I first started work, I didn’t realise that most UK companies require employees to ring in every day they’re sick, so I called in sick for the first day and then blithely assumed they’d be ok with me not ringing in again the second day, since they knew I was sick. My manager called until she got to speak to me to confirm and I was most surprised to have a meeting with my manager and HR when I got back, who made policy very clear to me!

  17. la Contessa

    #4, I used to be paranoid about that sort of thing at Old Job (which was the kind of place where I once got yelled at for doing X instead of Y, and then two weeks later for doing Y instead of X–by the same person). I had a couple methods to document conversations. In each case, I had a sheaf of note pages in a folder, and I would put the date and what I did each time I touched the case. So, if my boss told me that I should do A and B, but not C, I would put, “7/17 Talked to Jane, do A and B, but not C.” For longer notes (like if I had to put the reasons we decided to do A and B but not C), I wrote memos to File with a narrative. The idea suggested above about emailing yourself seems like a good one, too.

    At New Job, I do significantly less documenting, except that I always document 1. any conversation where someone gives me a fact and 2. any conversation where opposing counsel promises something. Luckily, we have a better electronic database system, so I don’t have to do the notes by hand anymore.

    1. la Contessa

      Oh, I also save every case-specific email. I have a folder set up in Outlook called “My Cases,” and then within it a subfolder for every case I have. I move sent emails over as well. It’s a good chronology, and I can check it when I can’t remember if I already asked someone for something. I also have an Administrative folder for everything related to processes or the office. If you emailed yourself “how-to” directions someone else gave you, you could store them there.

  18. Jady

    #4 –

    I’m one of those people ‘haunted’ by previous jobs. I wouldn’t say toxic environments or haunted really though, it was more the nature of the work. We had multiple projects, multiple clients, and documentation in general was extremely important for many reasons beyond Covering You’re A$$ – but that was frequently important too. And because you would move around projects a lot, you didn’t know who the trouble-makers were ahead of time.

    Basically it became nature for me. Documentation is a huge factor in my daily job even though I’ve moved on. It also ‘helps’ that in general I’m quite forgetful, so I document a lot of things just for my own record too.

    Generally the email follow up is a common one. But there’s also a few tools you can use to be more invisible about your documentation.

    A. Meeting Minutes, or meeting notes. These are very common. Store them somewhere publicly – like a work network or any kind of online wiki your job may use. Date them, list the attendees, list all the talking points. If you do this regularly, it raises no eyebrows and carries a lot of weight should they need to be used. This is a good choice for questionable coworkers and the invisible desire. I’ve seen this in varying degrees of format – from a full Word document formatted in a template with pages of notes to a simple Notepad .txt file with a couple sentences.

    B. Self-email. Similar to the meeting notes but can be quicker but a lot less informal. Same idea – document attendees, talking points. It doesn’t carry as much weight because it’s private, but it’s a good tool in an unexpected emergency. It’s still on company servers and it can’t be back-dated or anything silly, so it still has some weight. Similar to my situation, if people raise eyebrows you can just say you do it for your own records/memory/habit. This is a good choice if you don’t have time for more formal documentation and the need is for no one in particular, just an unexpected situation.

    C. Note taking tool. OneNote or EverNote are good for this. You could also use something like Dropbox and normal word/text documents, because dropbox keeps versioning on the cloud. This is the best tool for a company problem instead of an individual problem. Say you’re noticing illegal activities on the company’s/client’s part, or something against a contract, or general unethical behavior. Generally anything that can risk your job. These notes are stored on the cloud on your personal account, so they aren’t in control of the company, and they are kept dated. I’ve had to use this once because of a major security flaw at a company that was pushed under the rug.

    I’m not recommending anyone do anything particular, but for anyone like #4 who is looking for a solution to this concern, this is my strategy.

  19. Ad Astra

    OP #1, if your company has some sort of EAP that provides resources for substance abuse issues, have that number ready when you talk to the employee. It’s possible that he’s just a jerk with no manners who will have no problem changing his behavior once you bring it up. In my experience, though, most people who get into trouble at work because of their drinking habits are folks who need help to stop.

  20. regina phalange

    Regarding #2 – I was recently in that situation, specifically the 2nd one that Alison listed. I referred my friend who I knew socially and thought was very smart, but could absolutely not vouch for her work. Our lines of work are completely separate. However, she did end up getting an offer (and accepting!) and her manager actually thanked me for the referral, so it’s nice to know that her work speaks for itself.

  21. azvlr

    #4 Ugh! I am on the receiving end of someone has insisted on a paper trail, from almost the outset of our relationship. This person is an official mentor, and so I get the joy of writing a summary of our conversations and emailing it to them. This was especially fun when I made some errors, which were mainly due to my inexperience with culture and processes. These were not repeat mistakes.

    I basically get to put in writing “I screwed up and now I’m tattling on myself.” Considering this person’s lack of trust for me, I can’t help but wonder whether these will be used as fuel against me at some point. I have had to work doubly hard to build trust with the because of this, plus it has eroded my trust of them.

    If you have a specific reason to keep a paper trail, do so. I have in the past and do for some interactions now. But keeping a trail for the sake of it does not help to build a team. A better approach would be to have clear documented processes that you and others can refer to when problems arise.

    1. NickelandDime

      Just for clarification – when you say mentor, is this a manager you have to work with? A person that your company selected as your mentor, and you’re stuck with them? Or someone you had a good relationship with, asked to mentor you, and it went downhill?

      I would not want someone like this to mentor me. This is not mentoring. This is an elementary school grammar teacher.

      This is insane. Why would anyone need written documentation of a conversation unless it was project or work related?

    2. Jady

      While I don’t disagree with paper trails in general, forcing someone else to create a paper trail FOR YOU is a pretty jerk move. If they want it, it should be on them to do it.

  22. AnonyMiss

    #4: At OldJob, we did just the opposite of paper trail in 90% of cases. I worked for a government law office (civil, not criminal), where my attorneys were hyper-aware of discovery, Freedom of Information Act, and Public Records Act issues. So we were explicitly told *not* to use email if we can help it, unless we communicate with clients and put attorney-client privilege warnings all over the email.

    The only emails that came in from our bosses were the reamings, where they most certainly wanted to be as detailed as possible. I once got a two-page email over forgetting to clear a reminder for a soft due date (ie. task to check in with the attorney about a document that’s not due for another month). So glad to be out of there.

  23. I'm a Little Teapot

    I just had #5 happen to me. On Monday of this week too, no less. Company A contacted me about Contract Job A, which was 2.5 months, and e-mailed me asking about my availability. I said I was interviewing for Jobs B and C on Tuesday, but I was available the rest of the week – when would work best for Company A? Silence.

    Company B offered me an 8-month temp position, and I accepted it. I start Monday. Still no word from Company A, but I’ll have to regretfully decline their job. (Which makes me sad because it would have been a really cool job – but 8-month job has to take precedence, especially since it has the possibility of perm.)

    I’ve also had job offers fall through because I didn’t get back to them in time. You snooze, you lose, I guess.

  24. Joanne

    Thank you for the information. We were told that we could not approach an employee about drinking on their off time. But, we know we need to address it somehow since it is affecting others.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Who told you that? You can absolutely say, “When you’re traveling for work, we need you to behave disruptively toward coworkers.”

      1. Beti

        “we need you to behave disruptively toward coworkers”
        I think that is what the employee already assumes. :-)
        OP, can’t you approach it as a business trip is not “off time”? I mean you can’t get drunk at home and then come to work so this is the same issue. If the person is drinking during some after work socializing, it’s still a business function, particularly if it’s a business trip.

    2. Observer

      Except that when he is traveling on a business trip and being put up by the company, that’s not “off time”.

      Also, while you may not be able to approach someone about DRINKING during real off time, you CAN – and may even be legally required – to approach someone about how they treat other staff and company vendors (that includes the hotel and its staff) on off time. Also, if he is driving a company vehicle, even on off time, you need to make it clear that he may not get behind the wheel of the vehicle if he has had anything to drink.

    3. A Cita

      And as I mentioned below, you NEED to not put anyone in a room with that person. If I had to go through that again, and my employer didn’t do anything about it, I would quit. You’re asking someone to share a room with someone who could be potentially dangerous (as belligerent drunks can be) and at least emotionally harmful, and your putting them in an incredibly stressful situation.

      1. Kyrielle

        This. If nothing was done, I’d be looking for a new job in a heartbeat under these circumstances.

        And if, before I found one, belligerent drunk guy actually hurt me or damaged my stuff, I’d also be looking at whether (in addition to criminal charges) there was any point in pursuing the company for knowingly putting me at risk that way, after I’d already reported the issue.

    4. Observer

      By the way, who told you this?

      As I noted later, the issue you need to approach him about is not the drinking per se, but the behavior to other staff and employees of the hotel. It’s pretty clear that you CAN approach an employee about any behavior that puts others at risk, regardless of whether the drinking happened after hours or not. And getting belligerent with people qualifies. The only thing is that if he self-identifies as an alcoholic, you may need to give him his own room if that would take care of the problem, under the ADA. That’s something you would need to talk to your lawyer about. But, even under ADA rules, if that doesn’t take care of the problem, you can deal with this as with any other workplace problem.

      http://www.usccr.gov/pubs/ada/ch4.htm

  25. HM in Atlanta

    # 1 – I would also add to the conversation with Tyrion that he shouldn’t go back to the next hotel/work site and try to figure out “who talked” – that it was multiple people and that was the wrong thing to focus on from our conversation. Because – can you imagine being the next roommate after this kind of conversation?

    (Note – Apparently, I was the next roommate after this kind of conversation, but I didn’t know anything about what was happening. All week long I dealt with nasty comments and the person going through my stuff trying to find the tape recorder or my notes about her. I was young and stupid and didn’t tell my boss until I was back in the office.)

  26. A Cita

    I had 1# happen to me. It was horrible. The worst part is the next day, they would never remember the events from the night before and would act like nothing happened. I don’t even know how they were so functional the next day because I was obviously sleep deprived (and deeply upset). As another poster upthread mentioned, this was clearly a case of a drinking problem because getting wasted every night and behaving horribly and then acting like nothing happened the next day is NOT normal. I was pretty traumatized. I don’t know why you were told you couldn’t mention it, because it’s really scary for the person having to experience it. At the very least, you should not make anyone share a room with that person, because it’s really abusive.

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