should I stop baking for my husband’s coworkers, my job wants me to take a laptop on vacation, and more

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

1. Should I stop baking for my husband’s coworkers?

I read your post from 2012 about why it could be a bad thing to bake for coworkers. Here is my situation: I bake for my husband’s coworkers. I am a stay-at-home mom/housewife, and I always thought it was a nice gesture for him to take home-baked goods to his coworkers. However, my husband told me last time it was awkward. No one ate any and never said anything about it.

Did I offend them or make his life more difficult? He is an electrician and works with three other guys and his female secretary. I want to know what is appropriate. I definitely don’t want them to think he is a joke or I am a kiss-ass. Would it be appropriate to bake goods around the holidays only? Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

Aw, that’s very nice of you.

As with so many workplace things, how this will go over depends on the office and the dynamics of the people involved, but you should pay attention to the signals you get.

What that means in practice: In many offices, this would be lovely and appreciated (although even there, I’d only do it on occasion so that he doesn’t become known for his wife’s baked goods rather than for his work). But in other offices, it might be out of sync with the culture. It sounds like your husband is telling you that that might be the case with his office; for whatever reason, it’s not something that goes over well there. Who knows why — it could be that the four people there are all watching what they eat, or just didn’t love the last thing you baked, or are in and out all day and didn’t even notice it there, or are unhappy with your husband for work-related reasons and thus will not be tempted into eating your cake, or all sorts of other things.

It’s hard to know from the outside. But it was nice of you to bake for them, I don’t think it was a major misstep, and I wouldn’t worry about whether you did something wrong. I do think, though, that you probably shouldn’t continue it now that you have this feedback. Direct your baking energies toward people who you know appreciate it — neighbors, friends, family, etc. There shouldn’t be a shortage of people who want to eat delicious baked goods, even if your husband’s coworkers aren’t among them!

2. My job wants me to take a laptop on vacation

I work part-time (18-30 hours/week depending on demand) in a small office and take care of all paperwork – A/P, A/R, HR, customer service, payroll, business filings, etc . I have been here over 5 years and last year was first time I took a week off for vacation. I am taking a week off this year – it is unpaid as I do not receive sick or vacation benefits. I notified my boss about 6 months before the wee . They are now asking me to bring a laptop and be available to them while I am away. Frankly, I feel it is my time, which they aren’t paying me for, and I should be able to take a week away. They can absolutely function for a week without me; it just requires them to be in the office a little more than usual. How should I handle this request?

By saying no. Say this: “I’m taking a real vacation and won’t be reachable or able to do any work while I’m there. Let’s go over what you might need from me while I’m away, and we can get everything set up before I go — but I am going to be totally disconnected while I’m gone.”

If it gives you mental permission to say this, you can try blaming it on a promise to whoever you’re traveling with (“I promised my husband the week would be totally work-free”) or that there won’t be reliable internet or phone access where you’re going.

3. Why don’t some employers send rejections?

Why don’t some employers call back to let candidates know they have not been selected? I find that so disrespectful. I have had that happen to me at least 3 times in the past months. On my last one, I spoke with another candidate who I knew also applied and she said they offered her the position a week ago. Yet they did not contact me to let me know the position has been filled.

During the interview, I always ask, “Will someone let me know one way or the other?” and they always say yes. Then they never do. Why is that, and is there a way to prevent it?

Because they are rude and inconsiderate.

But there’s not really any way to prevent it. You’re better off just assuming you didn’t get the job, putting it out of your mind, moving on mentally, and letting it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you.

In fact, I’d probably even stop asking whether they’ll let you know one way or another. The polite ones will, and the rude ones will often tell you that they will but not end up doing it. So it’s not a useful question and just messes with your head.

4. My employee says I’m not his boss

I am a professional photographer and I have a studio in London with three employees: one photographer, one assistant photographer, and one salesperson.

The salesman hasn’t got a fixed salary; he is on commission only and so he’s been doing a great job. Last month he took home £4.500 for himself. But I had to remind him that I’m the boss for something I’ve asked him many times to be done and he decided by himself not just do as I said. His reply was: “I would like to remind you that you are NOT my boss because I work here on commission only.”

As the owner of the business that pays him 25% of commission on his sales, if I am not the boss, who am I in my own business?

You’re his boss. You’re the person who hired him, the person who oversees his work, and the person who decides whether or not to continue to employ him. Working on commission only doesn’t mean not having a manager; it’s just a different way of getting paid.

It sounds like you need to sit down with him and clarify each of your expectations.

5. Should I ask for a raise?

I have been at my current job for a year and a half. They started me off at entry-level wages, which I was fine with because I was entry-level. But now I have much more experience under my belt and I have gradually taken on a more responsibilities than I started with.

My original job was a very simple job that was quite easy (read: boring). However, my workload has been added to – most notably back in May when one of the three employees in my department got promoted to a different position in the company and I ended up taking on many of her responsibilities, as I am now the most senior member of the department and the other person had only been here for three months and was still learning the job. My manager is (slowly) looking to hire another person in our department who would basically take over my original responsibilities which I’m currently still doing on top of everything else. So my workload will eventually go down, but I will still have more responsibilities than I did when I was originally hired.

There were two reasons that I didn’t ask about a raise in May when I took on all the responsibilities: First, in the meeting where our manager told us that Miss Piggy was being promoted out of our department, Kermit (who had only been at the company for 3 months at the time) asked if that meant that we would get a raise since we were taking on her responsibilities. After a rather awkward pause, my manager replied that we would wait and see how it went. Second, in conversations with one of my coworkers, who has been at the company for 15+ years, I found out that they usually had done raises in July, so I decided to wait until July to give it a few months, as my manager had suggested anyway.

At this point, I am working overtime almost everyday in order to keep up with my work – which is fine because the extra money is nice, but starting in September it will become more difficult, as on top of working full-time I’m also a full time student. As of this writing, it’s the end of July and no one has mentioned a raise (they didn’t do raises last year either). Should I ask for a raise now? Should I have asked for a raise in May?

Ask for a raise now. Put together a case that shows how much more work you’ve taken on since starting over a year ago, and how your contributions have increased significantly since your salary was last set.

Should you have asked in May? Nah, this timing is better. It’s usually easier to make a case for a raise when you can point to increased responsibilities that you have been doing (and excelling at), rather than things that you will be doing.

{ 416 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia

    #2. Alison’s words are good here. But you need to think about how you can get away from a place that intentionally exploits you. It is outrageous that you do this kind of work for 5 years and don’t have paid vacation. Outrageous. So you already know this is a stingy operation that will squeeze what they can from you with no consideration for you. To then expect you to work when you are on vacation THAT THEY ARE NOT PAYING FOR is beyond outrageous. If it was a paid vacation you can sort of see an argument — although a weak one. But you are taking an unpaid week and they want you to work without pay for that time. Screw them and the horse they rode in on.

    Don’t explain, justify, argue and defend and on and on. State clear that ‘that won’t be possible. And off you go. You work for jerks. See if there isn’t a possibility of working elsewhere; make it a priority when you get back unless there are major reasons why this is where you want to work. (e.g. small town, few options, flexibility) It if it only flexibility then see if there isn’t another part time gig that treats you as a valued employee.

      1. KarenT

        Agreed. As a manager I never expect people to work on their vacations, but I can see how some jobs require that. But never in a million years would I ask someone to work during an unpaid week. That takes a special kind of nerve…

        1. Chriama

          Realistically though, isn’t it actually illegal to make her work an unpaid week? She’d need to be paid for the time she spent working, and if it’s an on-call type situation she’d need to be paid for the time she was available to work as well, right? So it’s not like they’d be getting this work for free… or am I missing something here?

              1. BRR

                While it has a good chance of not working I was wondering if a “How should I log my hours while I’m away?” would deter the OP’s boss.

                1. Apollo Warbucks

                  I don’t like that at all, it implies to boss that interrupting the OP’s holiday is some how OK, when it clearly isn’t.

                2. BRR

                  I’m not really a fan either. I’m making the strong assumption that they were not intending to pay the OP (which I shouldn’t do) and was just curious how that would go down.

                3. LBK

                  Yeah, I was going to comment something similar but then realized the OP doesn’t want to work, whether it’s paid or not, so that’s kind of moot (although I agree with your assessment that they probably aren’t intending to pay her for this available time, should she agree to it).

            1. Stranger than fiction

              Right, so if that being the case, wouldn’t it be better to bring that up (gently) to boss, rather than ‘I just want an unplugged vacation”? If he’s that dumb to think this is ok, he’s probably just going to think she’s being selfish…Imo.

              1. Elsajeni

                But if you lead with “I’d need to be paid for that time,” what if he says “Oh, of course! Here’s how to track your hours while you’re away. Thanks for being willing to help out!”? It sounds like the OP doesn’t want to be bothered while she’s on vacation, period; I think it’s better just to say that than to offer a fixable reason, then have to say “Uh, actually, still no” when they fix it.

      2. INTP

        I think “Also, your boss is an ass” has earned acronym status. “A;YBIAA” like Dan Savage’s “DTMFA.”

    1. Noah

      Most part time employees do not receive PTO. Otherwise, I agree. It is unfair for them to expect you to work while on vacation. They really need a better plan anyways. What would happen if you quit or were hit by a bus?

      1. Artemesia

        18-30 hours a week for 5 years. Any decent business owner would reward such an employee with some vacation time.

        1. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

          OP2: Yeah – perhaps because it’s part-time it’s easier to deal with the lack of vacations, but when I read “5 years without a vacation”? It’s hard not to suspect that there’s some kind of exploitation going on. I don’t know what this business is, but their asking you to take a computer with you seems to imply that they don’t have any kind of backup or contingency plans to deal with your job responsibilities should you get sick or abducted by aliens or something.

        2. Not Today Satan

          Yup. Plus, almost every job I’ve had (including a retail job) has given paid time off to part-time workers–it just accrues at a lower rate.

          1. Cucumberzucchini

            I worked as a part-time bank teller in college and we did accrue paid time off, just not very much. I worked about 18-35 hours a week over two years.

          2. Paige Turner

            I’ve received PTO at the larger (big chains) retail stores where I was part time, but at several other small businesses, I didn’t receive any. But none of those jobs (even the ones that were pretty terrible overall) would have expected me to work over vacation or during scheduled time off.

          3. Chinook

            In Canada, vacation pay is still required for PT employees but that doesn’t mean you get paid time off. Often, what happens is that the vacation accrual is added to each pay cheque as a separate line item (it is a small percentage like 6%) and then, if you take time off, it is assumed that you have socked that money aside to cover your time off. This makes sense in that you are still getting paid for it (and if you do save it, you end up with the interest from the savings instead of the employer) but I have yet to meet anyone who actually puts it aside.

            In short, is it possible that OP #2 is being compensated for the vacation time through her pay?

            1. AcademiaNut

              I don’t think that’s common in the US (I remember getting stat holiday pay as a part time employee in Canada as well, via the same regulations).

              But not letting a part time employee schedule unpaid time off for a break is pretty crappy.

        3. ExceptionToTheRule

          I’ve been at my part-time job for going on 8 years, averaging 20 or so hours a week and I don’t get paid vacation/sick time. It took 18 months to get a paid parking spot and 3 years to get holidays paid, so I don’t find it out of whack, as I didn’t have paid time off at any of my previous part-time jobs.

          However, if I need to take time off, I can just plain take the time off. There’s no way I could go five years without stringing together a week off.

          1. Retail Lifer

            That’s the one benefit of part-time work. You don’t get benefits but you can take time off when you need it since you’re not needed for 40+ hours a week.

        4. Anonypants

          Heck, my boss at my last contract gig let me take a paid week off for Christmas, and I’d only been there 6 months! Reasonable people understand that everyone needs to be able to take time off and not worry about the financial implications.

        5. LBK

          I’m not really understanding what’s inherently worthy of a reward about working part-time for 5 years, unless this is on top of some other full-time commitment and the OP is doing it as a favor? Part of the advantage of being part-time is having more free time in general, so that while it does suck to lose a couple days of pay if you want a week straight off, you’re probably only working 2-3 days a week to begin with. The trade off of that is that you don’t get PTO.

          1. Kate M

            Maybe. But the reality of the situation is that the boss wants the OP to work unpaid on vacation. That is exploitative. And illegal. But the OP definitely sounds like they’re working more than 2-3 days per week.

            1. LBK

              Oh, I absolutely agree that they shouldn’t work if they don’t want to and they absolutely shouldn’t do it illegally for free. Just saying that I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to not give a part timer paid vacation time because they already have a lot more time off work.

              The 30 hour end of the range is probably 4 days, but the 18 hour end wouldn’t be and it’s hard to gauge based on the OP’s letter which end of that range is more common. I’d guess the lower end is more common, though, and that she only has to work 30 hours when it’s month/quarter/year end so there’s more financials to wrap up.

              1. OhNo

                You’re assuming that they work standard eight-hour days. I don’t know about you, but I’ve pretty much never had a part time job that wanted me for full days; all the ones I’m aware of want a few (usually 3-4+) hours every day. So just because OP works part time doesn’t necessarily mean that they have more days off.

                I think if you have a part-time employee that works at least half-time, then even just a few paid days off should be included. Even part-time workers get sick or take vacations – and really, how much would it hurt the business to give someone in this kind of job five PTO days a year?

      2. WaDaisy

        30 hour weeks is barely parttime- that’s four days not five. 5 years of having to be available for that any week, with no option for a break, sounds awful and exploitative.

        1. TootsNYC

          We don’t know that it’s a case of “having to be,” though.

          The OP may have just not wanted a week’s vacation. If she wasn’t in position to travel (financially, or in terms of other obligations), maybe she decided she’d rather earn money than lose a week of pay.

          Of course, as a boss, I’d be saying, “It’s about time! Have a good trip.” And not saying, “take a laptop so you can do work while you’re away.”

          Seriously, how much work can a person get done from vacation, without actually giving up sort of a lot of vacation.

    2. Shell

      All of this. I was going to rant, but you said everything I wanted to say (including repeated use of the word “outrageous”).

      OP#2, take your vacation, be completely disconnected, and think about dusting off that resume.

    3. NickelandDime

      They want full-time commitment from OP#2, while treating them BADLY as a part-time employee.

      Nope.

    4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Yeah, I had something like this happen once. A dinner table story…..

      In April, my wife and I (and our then ten-year-old daughter) planned the vacation of a lifetime – we were going to England for a week.

      I asked “I am taking 2 weeks plus one day in July — is that OK?” — YES. So I buy three plane tickets, book a car, book a b&b at the front end, hotels at the back end of the trip. Total layout at the time around $3000 (US).

      Now, there’s a little fly in the ointment. I managed an obscure system. Someone else on staff was SUPPOSED to learn things – learn it before I went. Although management ignored my complaints “he won’t spend time on it.” Well, May goes by. Then we get into mid-June.

      I get called into the office and am told “we are going to ask you to cancel your vacation, we have a crisis.”

      I replied “this is not a real ‘crisis’. This is a period of business as usual.” Well my colleague hasn’t learned anything yet, and …. I put it back on my boss, thanking him for the total lack of support in that matter.
      And reminded him that I shelled out a lot of money and none of it is refundable.

      So – give us an estimate , we’ll see what we can do. I did.

      “I shelled out $3000, so by my estimates you’d owe me $4000.” Aghast – “Why should we pay you more than you paid?”

      I explained it was POST-TAX dollars I paid. “Anything you reimburse me is taxable. You don’t expect me to take a $1000 hit, on top of cancelling a vacation, do you?”

      “Ummm, duhhh…. ummmm….” They then asked for my itinerary. I didn’t have one. I knew where I would be the first three days, and the last two – but that’s it. I explained I rented a car, we are going where we want whenever we want. We aren’t on a Jolly Bus Tour.

      That didn’t stop them from calling the B&B at three am UK time, then hanging up when they realized we were five hours AHEAD of EDT, not five hours behind.

      1. Bend & Snap

        Ugh. My crappy employer wanted to know the number of the resort I was going to be at in case they needed to reach me ON MY HONEYMOON.

        People really need some boundaries and it sounds like OP needs a new boss.

        1. LaraW

          I once had to ask my boss for protection when I had a hiring manager ask if it was OK to call me about the status of candidates when I was in labor. Ummmm, no, it is not ok to call me when I am about to have a baby. I told my boss this, and she was appropriately horrified that someone would ask me that. Boundaries, people!

          1. Stranger than fiction

            ” yeah sure if you don’t mind a lot of moaning screaming grunting and cursing while I try to answer”

          2. Shortie

            Oh my, Lara. I thought my story was bad, but yours is worse. \

            I called in sick from work one morning when I was in the emergency room about to be wheeled into emergency surgery…relatively minor surgery in the scheme of things, but still…I was feeling very sick and about to go under general anesthesia. My boss asked me if I could “just do this one thing” before I went under. I said NO, IT WILL HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL NEXT WEEK WHEN I’M RECOVERED. What a d-bag. (Not that it matters, but for the record, I was a good employee without performance or attendance problems.)

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

        Actually I was called into the office once – when I was a overnight shift worker in operations – was about to be yelled at for not answering my phone on Friday night.

        Reason = I was away on vacation. They were trying to reach me because my two co-workers decided – on a Friday night , holiday weekend, to call in sick. They had been given overtime to make up for the work I wasn’t there to do during the week.

        Dialog (I am in Massachusetts)

        Manager = “Where were you Friday night?”

        Me = “Nashville, Tennessee, spent the night in Hendersonville.”

        Manager = “How come you didn’t answer your phone?”

        Me = “I was 1500 miles away from it.”

        Manager = “Where were you Saturday night?”

        Me = “umm, Front Royal, Virginia! Hey – I know you guys don’t have much going on in your lives, but why the fascination with mine?”

        I was then waved out of the office. So their logic was – the work didn’t get done because I was on vacation, not accessible, and it was my fault because I didn’t stay home on vacation.

        Yeah, now I get it.

    5. Vicki

      She doesn’t have paid vacation because she’s part time. Many many jobs do not provide benefits to p/t workers.

      (Also, if she’s p/t, she’s also, likely, non-exempt. Which would mean that she’d need to be paid for ay work she did on that vacation. Another thing to mention.)

      1. Ruffingit

        I get the whole part-time thing, but considering that they seem to think she’s valuable enough to ask her to work on vacation, you’d think they would offer her some paid time off or something. Goodwill gesture and all that.

    6. Ruffingit

      All of this, totally!! This is ridiculous. Five years and you have no vacation, no sick time, and they want you to work while you’re on vacation? Free yourself from the Gulag camp already, this is ridiculous! You deserve better.

  2. MK

    OP1, I would say that even in workplaces where it’s part of the culture to bring things to eat, it can get awkward if one person does it too much. If you sent baked goods to your husband’s office every week, and especially if the quantity was significant, I can see why his coworkers might be uncomfortable. Excessive generosity can make people feel like charity cases or put the burden on them to reciprocate; no one likes to be too beholden.

    1. Artemesia

      And if there is any difficulty your husband is having with the work or the co-workers, this would make everyone particularly uncomfortable. Probably not the case, but it adds to the tension if someone who is not well regarded is also overly generous about things like this. When your husband says ‘it is awkward’, that is the clue to stop and find another outlet for your goodies. It doesn’t matter why.

      1. MK

        I agree, ultimately the reason doesn’t matter. But I think the OP realizes that she should stop now and is asking what is appropriate generally.

    2. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

      Just me, maybe, but there was a discussion right here on AAM awhile back that definitely deflated my interest in any kind of ‘home-made’ food that might be brought into the office.

      I can’t tell from the letter if the disinterest in baked goods is a New Thing, or if they’ve never really gone over well, and the husband is only now relaying the news. I mention this because I’m one of those people who just isn’t big on baked goods and sweets and stuff like that; you can put a box of donuts on my desk and I’ll forget they’re there. I know that many people just love cakes and candy and stuff, but maybe the folks at the office just aren’t into the sweet stuff?

          1. Stranger than fiction

            Me too. Sweets aint my thing, but you put a bag of potato chips and you better believe I’ll scarf em down.

            1. BenAdminGeek

              Once a coworker brought me two large boxes of chips (like boxes filled with bags) and left them as a present. It was The Greatest Day Ever.

          1. Artemesia

            Mine too. My superpower was that I always took at least two and then felt obligated to return the donut favor that week so as not to be a notorious greed head.

      1. MK

        It’s possible that the baked goods were never especially welcome, but out of politeness the coworkers at first accepted them with thanks. Then, when it became a regular thing, they made it cleat it wasn’t a great idea.

    3. Vicki

      At every job I’ve ever had (and I have had more than a few), we have all been Very Happy when someone brought in home-made treats (whether made by the employee or their spouse).

      Something was off at your husband’s workplace.

    4. Shortie

      Yeah, MK makes a good point about it getting awkward if one person does it too much. In addition to feeling beholden, people can also feel obligated to eat it, thus awkward when they don’t. My former coworker used to bring baked goods in all the time, but the problem was that most of the rest of us were watching what we ate or trying to be more healthy, etc. We felt terrible when we didn’t eat what she kindly brought in (and that tasted VERY good), but it was just too much. Even non-sweet stuff like baked bread can still be too much when people are watching their calories or something like that.

  3. Daisy

    I agree baking is a know your audience thing. Sounds like it is time to back off a bit and tell your husband to tell you when he wants to bring something in.

    When my husband was in the Navy I baked for his coworkers all the time. It was a lot of single guys though living on base or on the boat. One of the support staff bought the ingredients for me to make a particular cookie I make well to send to her son in Iraq. I was excited to have an oven (after dorm life) and they got home baked stuff. It was a win for all.

    1. RMRIC0

      When I was a reporter free food (especially baked goods) would incite a feeding frenzy like sharks on chum.

      1. OfficePrincess

        Yup. Around here if you are going to leave food in the break room, you’d better do it while no one else is in there or you might lose an arm.

      2. ExceptionToTheRule

        Yep. We have a table in the newsroom specifically for food. Anything left there will be eaten. And the crumby container left sitting out to show others what they missed.

  4. Saurs

    You’re a good egg, LW1. Chalk it up to paleo-ism (no matter what the reason actually is, and don’t feel that your husband has to solve this mystery because Making It into A Thing could add considerably to the uncomfortable atmosphere already enveloping his colleagues and sugary delights) and continue to share your treats with a more appreciative audience.

    I once lye-bathed and all a colleague a baker’s dozen worth of oversized, pillow-y rye pretzels because he’d mentioned his son liked them when they’d holidayed abroad, and they were returned unnibbled because I guess the kid doesn’t like caraway anymore [enter smugshrug here]?

    1. KarenT

      For what it’s worth, I would have gone to town on those pretzels!

      I think, too, that sometimes it just depends on timing. Sometimes we have treats and they disappear in seconds, and sometimes the most delicious looking food sits out all day. I guess some days are hungrier than others?

      1. Saurs

        They made nice sandwich rolls and even better croutons! :)

        There’s definitely a complicated etiquette involved when it comes to “sharing” homemade food, particularly with colleagues, managers, clients, and students and teachers. Because non-professional cookery is already gendered, the rule about gifts being directed only downward on the hierarchy are not always applied. (Nobody seems to bat an eye when women are expected to furnish a meeting with pastry or get the coffee or tea started.) As the sharer, you don’t want it to be a burden or an embarrassment, or to unnecessarily create unwilling subjects for any kitchen experiments, nor accidentally expose people to allergens. As the receiver, I suppose you want to survive, first and foremost, and if you’re unhappy with what’s been shared, never have to encounter it again. Lots of picking up of minute, sometimes disparate social cues required. I’m awful at that sort of thing, so I’m happy I work with food now and with people who never, ever want or expect to be “gifted” edibles of any description.

    2. MK

      Your intentions were obviously good, but frankly, I think presenting a colleague with this kind of gift is exactly the sort of excessive generocity that would make many people uncomfortable, especially if you weren’t very close before. But returning them was incredibly rude; whatever happened to accepting gifts gracefully?

      1. Saurs

        Long story, but about a decade before we shared a few cooking courses and I was a secondary instructor for some of his food science and safety classes and depending on the term one or both of us would regularly offload “practice material” on the other’s family (because our own were sick enough, but not usually from, endless practice runs at home), I taught two of his kids including the caraway-adverse scoundrel some safe and easy confectionary methods, at the time of the P/Bretzel Incident he was always scrounging for interesting pastry, etc. (I don’t know what he was thinking, giving them back, but it still does stick in my asbestos-y craw.)

        But, yes: without that history between us, or at least a budding friendship that involved the exchange of similar, smaller gifts or favors or even offers, that would have been utterly inappropriate — presumptuous and sycophantic all at once.

        1. Artemesia

          It is the giving back that is totally weird. But in this context, maybe his thought was ‘these things took a lot of work and so if the target of generosity is not going to eat them then my friend should have the opportunity to benefit from them.’ i.e. a sign of closeness rather than boorishness. Most of us I am sure would toss them out before returning them.

    3. cupcakes...but not for everyone

      So many people have dietary restrictions now (or are on the ‘fad diet of the month’), so it’s possible that LW1’s husband’s coworkers fall into this category.

      I work for a health-conscious company. I hardly ever bring in any treats for my team, but did recently because I wanted to do something nice for them. I went to a bakery and bought gourmet cupcakes for the team. Instead of people just saying “no thanks,” their reactions were super rude (“How DARE you bring in cupcakes?!? I’m doing Paleo/no sugar/no whatever and have NO self-control). I’ll never bring in food again.

      1. Boo

        Ugh yeah in my last job it was the custom to bring in bakings on your birthday, only whenever I did nobody ate them because they were all on diets. So I stopped bringing anything in. They got funny about that, too, but it was such an awful place that by then I didn’t care.

        1. Alison Hendrix

          Some people just like to find someone else to blame for their own lack of self-control.

        2. MK

          And it’s illogical too. It’s hardly the only time during their diet that they will come across “forbidden” food.

      2. eplawyer

        I know what happened to just a polite “no thank you.” Everyone has to make a big deal out of saying no. My birthday usually falls during Lent. Offering cake usually gets a “I gave up sugar for Lent and I made it this far, I am not ruining it just for your birthday.” Okay fine, don’t have any jerk.

        1. Shortie

          I’m with you. I just say “no thank you”. Rinse and repeat.

          It makes sense, though, why some people people feel the need to preemptively tell their whole story instead of just saying “no thank you”. Many times, “no thank you” is met with “aw, come on” and “just a little won’t hurt you” and other such pushy nonsense. I guess I can see both sides.

    4. zora

      I agree about not trying to solve the mystery… but i would take a break from baking for a while, and revisit later. I don’t think one awkward time necessarily means you have to stop forever. Maybe it was just a one-off thing, or maybe it’s been frequent lately and they’re feeling like they’re overindulging. It’s entirely possible that in a few months they’ll be excited about some cookies again.

  5. Seal

    #4 – You can always fire the salesman for insubordination – that would show him who’s the boss.

    1. Artemesia

      Photographers are literally a dime a dozen; it is very hard to find paid photographic work. I bet you can fire this guy and find someone as good or better.

      I have a friend who is an editor with journalists who don’t meet deadlines. I told him the same thing. There are so many great journalists who can’t find paid work, he need not put up with lousy productivity. He can find people who will be happy to get the job done.

      1. MK

        This is a salesman, not a photographer. And while photographers and writers are thick on the ground, they are not interchangeable.

      2. Macedon

        I can tell you that this cavalier approach to labour oversupply is precisely what’s led to many of these ‘good journalists’ ending up in abusive jobs, as a number of hiring managers bottom line at,”There’re dozens of you, take (my terrible terms) or leave it.”

        Photographers and journalists are professionals with distinct skills (and bad or good habits that might need addressing), not bodies in a room. Their availability shouldn’t encourage easier substitution, because, contrary to apparent expectation, their work isn’t one ‘just anyone can do’ at the same standard.

        1. Artemesia

          I don’t disagree when management has been attempted. But we all know dogs in the workplace who take up space and don’t get the job done and have bosses reluctant to get rid of them when they don’t improve. I find it galling that someone who has one of the coveted good journalism jobs doesn’t work hard and get the job done when I know so many people who cannot get paid work in this field. These are not journalists being asked to work for peanuts and long long hours without overtime and generally being abused; these are people who are treating their job like a sinecure. Having always had a job where professionals are a dime a dozen and it is very hard to keep a good job, I am with the manager in my example.

          1. Macedon

            Of course there’re bad journalists, and I am certainly not contesting that the ones in your example might need a firm talking to or replacement. But I disagree that there should be more moral pressure on them to perform well than on any kind of professional, just because they have the “privilege” of practising their trade. That and the “dime a dozen” mentality frequently lead to situations of abuse, where employers feel that they can make excessive demands of employees, who’re expected to shut up, take it, and be grateful they have a job over their peers. I don’t think it’s a necessarily productive way in which to frame a conversation – just because an employer has a wide pick of professionals in a particular industry does not make these professionals a ‘dime a dozen.’

          2. Stranger than fiction

            Our Salespeople are on 100% commission too, but they still have to follow all the basic rules of coming to work on time, spending a certain amount of time on the phone, etc etc. But this guy seems like he’s confusing the situation with some sort of independent contractor work or pay per piece type situation. (can’t think of the exact term I’m looking for here).

          3. Ad Astra

            I’ve never met a journalist who wasn’t being asked to work for peanuts and long hours without overtime.

    2. James M

      Not even insubordination. When he says “You’re not my boss.”, OP4 could simply reply “I accept your resignation. The door is over there.” (if permitted by UK law, ofc). Taken literally, this guy is quitting.

      1. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

        Yeah, I was thinking something along the lines of “You’re right! I’m not your boss – because I just fired your worthless ass!”

        Then again – is this really a battle worth fighting? This guy is a salesman who is generating £18,000/month? In the photography biz? I think that that is one fuck of a lot of money in a trade that I don’t think many people succeed at. Perhaps you could compromise on agreeing that you two work with each other?

        Also: what is the task that the sales guy doesn’t want to do? He might simply be an ass, but – is it possible that he is somewhat justified in not performing the task? Ie, if he’s a salesman, you probably shouldn’t expect him to clean the bathrooms, too.

        1. Anna

          Then the appropriate response isn’t to tell your boss he’s not your boss because you work on commission but to actually be an adult and address your issue with that particular task. And the attitude of “well, sure he’s a jerk, but he brings in so much money” is why so many people write in to this blog asking about asinine coworkers and their shitty attitudes. So yeah, it IS a battle worth fighting.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      Well sure you can, but productive sales people don’t grow on trees. They can be very hard to find.

      This guy is bringing in the work that is running the business, see “rainmaker”. Rainmakers are difficult more often than not. Managing them is as skill set on its own.

      1. AFT123

        I agree with this. Rainmaker salespeople are hard to find, and most of them will know how great they are and will be difficult to manage. I don’t know if it’s worth firing him to look for a unicorn; I guess it would depend on the level of severity/damage caused.

        1. Shortie

          Good points here. It may be worth considering whether the task in question is really something such a good salesperson should be doing, or maybe it’s not the salesperson’s strength and someone else should take it on, or what have you. Definitely don’t want to lose all those sales because this person is working on something less important!

          Of course, I don’t know what the task is, so if it IS something the salesperson should be doing, then I agree with Alison. It is time to sit down and clarify expectations. Actually, either way, I agree with Alison. It is time to sit down and clarify expectations. :)

    4. Sarahnova

      This is in the UK, where you need to follow “fair and reasonable process” when dismissing someone – so the OP could do this, but couldn’t do it instantly.

      1. Nico M

        But hes positioning himself as a vendor rather than an employee.

        Which i think is the solution.

        He should set up a company and submit a monthly invoice for sales services.

  6. Noah

    #4 – Even if the salesman views the situation as more of a contract-based position, you are still his boss. In either case, you can dictate work, and terminate him if you find the work unsatisfactory.

    I don’t know the laws in the UK, but would you be able to withhold commission if the work isn’t done to your specification? Obviously this would only work if the task is related to a specific sale. For example, all paperwork must be completed to receive commission for that particular sale.

    1. Kathlynn

      I’m pretty sure that would be illegal in most western countries, since it would be wage theft. commission=/=contractor

    2. UKAnon

      Actually, even on commission based contracts it looks like you still have to make National Minimum Wage. Unless this person is self-employed and contracting their labour to the OP, in which case as I said below I see where confusion may arise.

    3. TootsNYC

      Or, add a small amount of money that is salary, not commission, to clarify that he’s not working “on spec.” That he also works for the business regularly.

      However, I might also want to ask around to other people who have salespeople on commission to see how they’re paid (often in the U.S. there *is* some level of base salary, even if it’s not very much). And to see if their salespeople do similar administrative work.

      I’m curious as to what the not-done thing was.

      1. Hotstreak

        I came here to post a similar thought. What would motivate the employee to do non-commission activities, unless under threat of termination? They literally get paid only for certain things, so when you ask them to do other things, they are not getting paid for that time.

    4. Stranger than fiction

      Since he seems to think he has some sort of non-employee arrangement because of the way he’s paid, maybe the Op should ask him (maybe somewhat sarcastically) if it would work better if he were paid hourly (minimum wage) plus a smaller commission. That may change his attitude.

  7. T3k

    #3 – I recently received an email from a company I applied to and never heard from, to simply inform me they had filled the position. I can’t decide what sucks more: having an interview and never hearing back or not ever getting interviewed and feeling like they’re rubbing it in your face when they state they’ve filled in the position and you were never in the running.

    1. Artemesia

      They probably have some stupid rule about not informing applicants until the hire is on board — I once had to do hiring under such a rule and it sucks. I agree that people who are screened out quickly should get that note immediately. But at least they did let you know; many don’t.

      1. Applican't

        Yep– I worked somewhere with a policy not to reject applicants until the new hire’s manager had given them a satisfactory 30-day review… which usually wasn’t complete until the employee had been there about 45 days!!!

        The company also filled positions at a glacial pace, so your timeline might look something like this:
        -Apply for job on January 1
        -Interview on February 1
        -Company interviews the Chosen One on February 15
        -Company makes Chosen One an offer on February 28
        -Chosen One accepts the offer on March 7, with a start date of March 21
        -You don’t get a formal rejection until at least May 5– more than FIVE MONTHS after you applied!

        … and if their first pick Chosen One doesn’t accept the offer and you’re not their second choice, the whole process will take even longer.

    2. fposte

      How long are we talking about, though? It sounds like you’re objecting to getting notified, period, and surely that’s a good thing?

      1. T3k

        Sorry, worded that wrong. It’s one thing to get a “sorry, we’re going with other candidates” generic email if they never email you, but when I got that email of how they had filled the position, I did that Gigi thing from that one romance movie, getting all paranoid “did they try to call me and I didn’t see it? Did they try to email and it went into spam? What does this mean?! AHHH!” because in my mind, a company doesn’t send those types of emails out to those they never talked to. But seeing Artemesia’s comment, I realize maybe this is one of those rare companies that does just that.

    3. Sunflower

      I don’t want this to come off wrong but you are taking this way too personally. The majority of these emails are automatic emails sent from a computer- they same way you get an email after you apply to a position saying your application has been received. This is something that 99% of companies do and they are not rubbing it in your face- they are simply letting you know what happened to your application. I’m not sure what you were expecting here?

      1. T3k

        Yeah, I freaked out because I’ve never had a company do this before (say they filled it without ever talking to you) so in my mind it was like “Did they send this because they tried to call/email me and never got through so they went with someone else? Did I miss out on being interviewed?!” I never realized some companies have rules set in place where they don’t even send out the generic “sorry we went with other candidates” email (which I do get a lot) and instead do a “we filled the position” as a way to say the job is taken.

        1. TootsNYC

          What is the difference between those two emails?

          Or is it that one of them comes after you’ve interviewed, and the other one comes when you expected to be ignored completely?

          1. T3k

            One comes, usually after I applied, saying the generic “thanks but no thanks” while the other “we filled the position” leaves me wondering if they had tried to contact me for an interview and it never got to me because, in my mind, those usually don’t get sent out unless they actually interviewed you (but I wasn’t). But as previously pointed out earlier, I didn’t realize there are some companies who have a policy where they don’t send out the first one, but rather the latter one, even if they never talked to you.

            1. Sunflower

              I’m still a little confused. Are you expecting to get 2 different emails- one when you’re rejected and one when the position is filled?

              All I can say is the wording of rejection emails are pointless and don’t really mean anything. Most companies have 1 generic reject message- it doesn’t matter if they rejected you or filled the position or what. Don’t waste your time trying to read into anything in those emails.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              Considerate places email everyone, not just people they interviewed. Plus, if they only email people they interview, they wouldn’t be emailing you if you’d missed their attempt to set up an interview (as you did not ultimately interview with them). So this is something to stop worrying about!

              1. T3k

                Oops, I overlooked that bit of logic in my thinking. Well, that really puts my mind at ease now, and to make a mental note next for myself that next time I see one of those emails, it just means “thanks but no thanks.”

    4. TootsNYC

      It’s so funny to hear you complain about that, because that’s the number one complaint I hear–that people are upset they didn’t even get the courtesy of a “thank, but no thanks” email.

      I suppose in a perfect world, you’d have gotten a “we got your résumé; if we want to interview you, we’ll call you” email. But you’d still get the “we filled the position” email and nothing else.

      The times that I’ve posted an ad and gotten tons of résumés, I don’t communicate with anyone except the people who’ve made the cut for an interview. I just don’t have that sort of time.

      1. Stranger than fiction

        This is what I’ve always thought. Since my layoffs (yes, multiple) were during the worst of the recession, I knew that all the jobs I was posting for were receiving hundreds of other applicants and most companies don’t have the time to give everyone a response. It does suck, and it is rude to not hear anything, especially if you’ve interviewed- I’ve actually never received a “we filled the position email”, but I did receive the auto “thanks but no thanks” a few times. Mostly, I never heard anything though, unless they wanted to interview me, or later make the offer. It can drive you nuts not knowing, but if you just accept this is how it is and keep moving forward applying to jobs every day, it makes it a bit easier.

      2. T3k

        Oh I’m perfectly ok with the generic ones saying no thanks, and received lots of those without being interviewed (one of which I forgot all about until 5 months later when I got an email). Around here though, it’s highly unusual to get a “we filled the position” email if they never interviewed/talked to you which makes me panic and think I missed a chance to be interviewed because maybe I missed an email or they tried to call me, or dialed the wrong number and gave up, etc. Basically, I do that Gigi thing in that one movie and started to overthink things when I got that email. I kid you not, part of me wanted to call them up and go “did you try to contact me beforehand?” Thankfully I refrained myself from doing that.

        1. Sigrid

          I’m still confused what you think the difference between a “thanks but no thanks” email and a “we filled the position” email is — they’re both telling you the exact same thing. “We filled the position” means “thanks but no thanks”.

          1. T3k

            It’s how my mind thinks/over analyzes. Say you were on a date and the other person goes “It was nice meeting you, I’ll call you sometime” vs “It was nice meeting you, but you’re not my type.” They essentially come to the same meaning (not really interested) but one sits more on the fence while the other is absolute. Not saying the rejection emails are saying this btw, was just trying to think of an example where 2 different statements boil down to the same thing but the wording is different and can leave ambiguous meanings if you ponder over it too much and, because I never received a rejection that specifically stated they filled the position, I pondered over it too much, thus misinterpreting it’s meaning that it was just a simple “thanks but not thanks” email.

  8. Cambridge Comma

    #1, I have to admit that I mock (in a friendly way) colleagues who have their wives (or once, mother!) bake for them when it’s their turn to bring cake (we have a rota for our coffee mornings) rather than doing it themselves. Just to resist a little the dynamic we had where female colleagues baked and male colleagues didn’t, essentially. Maybe your husband is being teased a little?

    1. Artemesia

      My husband always cooks when it is his turn to do something like this; I am the one who takes her dish to the deli and has it filled up if in a pinch for time. I agree, it is a little annoying that women are the ones expected to bring food for potlicks and such and men often bring nothing. At least if their wives are cooking, you get good stuff. In my workplace the guys mostly pulled their oar and at least brought substantial things e.g. bought a spiral ham or a bucket of chicken or whatever.

      1. NJ anon

        My husband made a coconut cfustard pie for a contest at his job and won! Now he needs to make one for us . . .

      2. Mallory Janis Ian

        Ha. My male boss once showed up at a potluck with a can of baked beans and handed it to someone, asking if they could open it and heat it up. Jerk!

      1. UKAnon

        I think the point is that if the male coworkers bring in baked goods from their female relations and the female coworkers bring in their own work efforts, this reinforces that cooking is a “woman’s job”.

        1. Sadsack

          I think that’s taking things a bit too far. So what if the gut had his partner bake? He’s still contributing something for everyone to share, bonus that it is homemade and not something he grabbed at the gas station on the way in.

          1. UKAnon

            If it was one man then maybe. But it sounds like all the women were baking and all the men were asking somebody else (another woman) to bake. Which can – *can* – lead to a workplace where it starts to seem normal for women to take on other “women’s work” like doing the dishes. I don’t think that making a joke just to check any such tendencies is a bad strategy.

            1. MK

              Actually, it almost certainly is a bad strategy. Mocking someone, no matter how “gently” you think you do it, is highly unlikely to make them change their arrangements or gender stereotypes; they are much more likely to think you are a jerk and should mind your own business. Did these men even agree to do this? Do they know how to bake? I would argue that, if the women in your office are bakers and the men not, it was a bad idea to choose this, and unfair on the men, asking them to take up a new activity, while the women did something they would have done anyway.

        2. Retail Lifer

          Agreed. A few of the people I manage were upset that I don’t bake for them like their previous manager did. I’m a woman, but that’s not my job. If we have to do a potluck, I either buy something or just don’t attend.

      2. Cambridge Comma

        It’s not really a household chore though. The idea was that we would take it im turns to do something nice for the others. That’s diluted if someone else does it. And what UkAnon said.

        1. Liz

          I might be one of those exceptions, but invariably when *I* have a work potluck my husband insists on making something (even if I had a plan).

          *sigh* It’s a hard life when you fight over who gets to make the tasty dish…

          1. VintageLydia USA

            A friend of mine and her spouse is like this. So they both just make things. It works out because they’re both very good cooks.

      3. Ani

        Same here, I was aghast at the comment and I’m sure the people on the receiving end don’t think it is pleasant teasing. FWIW, the men in my office at holiday time bring in some killer dishes they prepared themselves.

        1. Cambridge Comma

          How are you sure? It’s my office and I’m sure it’s appropriate to the culture.

      4. some1

        Bringing treats to work is not a “household chore” like bringing them to the neighborhood block party or the kid’s soccer practice. You don’t represent your household/family at work. When it’s my turn to clean the office fridge, I wouldn’t have my hypothetical husband come in and do it if he is better at it than I am.

        1. Elsajeni

          I don’t think it’s really analogous; you also wouldn’t pay a professional fridge-cleaner to take your turn, but it would be perfectly acceptable to buy cookies at a bakery when it’s your turn to bring in a treat. I agree that it’s not really a “household chore,” but I think the point stands: as long as Wakeen holds up his end in the office treat rotation, it’s not really appropriate to complain that he outsourced the actual baking.

  9. frequentflyer

    #2 – “I promised my husband the week would be totally work-free” might not go down well with some employers, because some may think, who cares what you promised your husband? It’s not a super good excuse. Claiming that there is no internet access would be a better, more watertight reason.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      It really just depends on the relationship and dynamic you have with your manager. I can imagine saying that to an employer (and think I probably have said something similar at some point).

      But this isn’t about coming up with a sufficiently “worthy” excuse. It’s about giving yourself mental permission to say no and stick to it, if you otherwise feel uncomfortable with a flat no. Anything that allows you to do that is good. (And an employer who said “too bad, you’re working on your vacation anyway” is an employer who just told you that you don’t want to work for them.)

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I am usually the first one to point out that “No” is a complete sentence, but I think that the suggestions for “reasons” are a great idea, because if saying no was that easy then there would be a lot fewer posts here! I think it may take some people some time to get comfortable saying no when it’s appropriate, and sometimes even then they open themselves up to abuse by doing so, so having a “valid” reason in your pocket can be handy.

        I still say that, with bullying types, the reasons become obstacles for them to knock down or overcome, so I would caution against giving too many reasons when you need to take a stand.

        Here is a good training video for those who have trouble saying no:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4s4uVkPZT8

    2. Anonymous Educator

      I know the OP probably wants an actual vacation (not just a physically distant vacation but a mentally distant one as well), but if the employer is extremely insistent on the OP working, the least the OP can do is insist back on being paid for it.

    3. KT

      I can’t ever imagine saying “I promised my husband” in any context at work. Just no. Especially not as a reason I wouldn’t work.

      Deferring to your husband should just be a “no”, never.

      Stand firm, stand on your own feet and your own strength, and just say no! Without mentioning your husband’s whims.

      1. Liane

        Alison was using “promised my husband” as an example. It could just as easily be anybody else.

      2. Christy

        I don’t think it’s a gender thing (she said for the first time ever). She’s saying “I promised my vacation partner I wouldn’t work on vacation.” I’d say that about my girlfriend or my sister or my female friend or my male friend too.

        And I think we all end up deferring to our spouses/partners on some issues. It’s not a gross gender thing, it’s the give and take of a relationship.

        1. KT

          My reaction isn’t just a gender thing…giving a rationale that you promised anyone is just silly to me. Why can’t people just be direct and firm? I get this feels like a “softer way out”, but using someone else as an excuse just doesn’t work for me.

          1. Christy

            Oh, see I use other people as an excuse all the time. It’s hard for some people to be direct and firm, and some cultures don’t value directness or firmness. I respect that being direct and firm works for you, but it doesn’t for me. Or it hasn’t always, at least. If something like this will end a conversation without escalating the tension, I’m always going to do it, even if I could have been more direct.

          2. Sunflower

            Because being direct and firm in this case is also telling your boss no because I don’t want to. I’m not saying that OP shouldn’t be allowed to say that, because she should, but when you’re dealing with people who are unreasonable enough to expect you to work, unpaid, on your vacation, direct and firm doesn’t usually go over well.

            1. Not Yet Seeking

              It’s as much “because it’s illegal to ask me to do so” as it is “because I don’t want to.”

          3. JB (not in Houston)

            Yeah, sure, but some people just aren’t comfortable saying no on their own. So why not give them something they can work with? Should the options be to refuse for your own sake or just do whatever they ask? I totally agree with Alison. If people need an excuse for saying no, that’s better than not saying no. And a lot of times, having someone or something else to blame is only needed the first few times you say no. After that, it gets easier.

          4. LBK

            Sometimes being direct and firm doesn’t work, though, or has consequences for your image/relationship with your manager. In an ideal world, you’d tell your boss “no, I’m not doing that” and they would accept that with no further impact. In many cases, though, that’s going to reflect poorly on you in their eyes, whereas “I told my spouse/sibling/friend/cat I wouldn’t work this week” works better on some managers because a) they don’t have authority over that other person and b) they don’t feel like you’re really the one saying no.

          5. TootsNYC

            And sometimes it’s like “I have a boyfriend” instead of “I don’t want to go out with you.”

            It stinks, sure, but it can be effective at shutting down the pressure.
            Because the person whose mind needs to be changed is not right in front of them.
            And when someone is being unreasonable, it’s sometimes safer or more effective to not make yourself the target.

          6. Chinook

            “giving a rationale that you promised anyone is just silly to me.”

            I don’t. It is pointing out that this request impacts more than just you. It is like asking if you can cut in front of someone in line – if it is just one person, no big deal. But, if it is a long line, than your cutting impacts not just the person you are asking but everyone else behind them. A promised work-free vacation implies all parties involved in this vacation (and their work places) have negotiated these terms and now the person who isn’t even paying for the vacation is changing them.

          7. Ask a Manager Post author

            The reason I said in the post “if it makes it easier to give yourself mental permission” is because some people need that in order to actually give a firm no. I’d love it if that weren’t the case, but in reality that often makes it easier for people to take the advice.

          8. Observer

            Yes, but if your relationships are important to you, then it’s not silly. It’s akin to saying “I promised my doctor I’m going to change my schedule so I can get my BP down.” The issue isn’t what the doctor says, the issue is that there is an important thing that needs whatever it is you are pushing back on (vacation, schedule change, etc.)

      3. Apollo Warbucks

        I took it more to mean a promise to spend some quality family time, not that the reason for the promise was due to deference, so the OP can push back on the request to work in a less confrontational way.

      4. Chinook

        “Deferring to your husband should just be a “no”, never. ”

        I respectfully disagree. It shouldn’t be automatic and done without thought, but there are times when my husband has more information than I do and I defer to his knowledge (when he calls and tells me to stay home, I defer and question later because he is a cop and knows stuff), but the opposite is also true – he will defer to me and my knowledge when it comes to things like contracts and job searches. But, in these cases, we are deferring not based on our marriage status but because we are partners and know our own strengths and weaknesses.

        As for promising a spouse a work-free holiday, this to me sounds a very legitimate reason and is in the same category as promising my spouse that the next vacation will not include visiting family, camping in a tent and/or spending lots of money. The only reason this condition would be mentioned to a boss is because this requires the boss respecting the boundaries I am placing (and pointing out that boss is making demands not just on me but on people she is not paying because her requiring me to work on vacation is in fact interrupting my spouse’s holiday as well)

      5. Stranger than fiction

        It’s kind of similar to saying you need a raise because your kid just went to college, instead of because you earned it.

        1. Observer

          Nope. It’s nothing like that at all.

          She is not asking her boss for anything – she’s trying to NICELY get him to respect boundaries.

      6. Observer

        “i promised my husband” is NOT “deferring to his whims”. If it’s anything, it’s placing your commitments a very significant other over the commitment to work – which in such a case is EXACTLY the right thing.

        I could easily see myself saying this – and I could just as easily see my husband saying this (had either of us needed to. Than heavens neither of us have ever had such unreasonable bosses.)

      1. Kyrielle

        The vacation is/was to be unpaid, but is the business planning to not pay the OP for any work done during the vacation? I’m not clear from the letter whether that is or is not their intent.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yeah, that’s not clear at all. It’s perfectly possible that they’d be fine with paying her for whatever time she worked that week, but that’s not the issue; the issue is that she doesn’t want to work while she’s away and needs a way to tell them that.

  10. UKAnon

    #4 – You should suggest he goes on The Apprentice – it takes that kind of a special nerve to act like he does!

    I am wondering, is he perchance on a self-employed contract? That might explain the confusion. Link to follow but it sounds like the employee is sort of right in that as commission-based (but still hitting NMW?) he should be contracting his services to you – and therefore you aren’t so much his boss as his dissatisfied customer.

    1. MK

      The OP needs to have a frank discussion with this salesman about the terms of their relationship.

    2. BeeintheUK

      You have to be technically self employed to work commission only because we have actual labour laws in this country. There are a number of sketchy companies who will hire you as a “contractor” doing commission-only sales (so you get all of the disadvantages of being self employed with few of the benefits). LW is probably not sketchy, but he does have a contractor rather than an employee.

      1. Apollo Warbucks

        You do not have to be self employed to work commission only, you can be an employee and be paid only commission as long as that commission is equal to or better than minimum wage.

      2. Chinook

        ” but he does have a contractor rather than an employee.”

        But even contractors can be required to do certain tasks. I can guarantee that our contractors don’t like having to fill out forms or complete certain training modules (even if they are getting paid for their time) but part of their responsibilities as a contractor is to complete work contracted to them which included following certain job requirements. Even if the salesman is just a contractor, then that makes the photographer his client with certain job requirements.

  11. SamLiu

    My job wants me to take a laptop on vacation starts to be like a norm already. That why is it call vacation? Can someone help me to understand??

    1. UKAnon

      Typically on holiday you should be leaving work behind entirely; it’s time away from work, paid, for you. Unlike in America, in Europe it isn’t seen as a perk – indeed, I believe the EU look on paid holiday, Working Time Directive etc as health and safety legislation. Unfortunately, with the rise of technology it’s becoming more common for employers to expect you to still be answering calls and replying to emails, so that you can never really escape your job. Which is a trend that should definitely be pushed back on, by both employees and also good employers.

      1. Sarah

        +1 on the Health & Safety legislation – and even if people don’t care about H&S surely it’s bad business to have workers never fully take time off, as they’ll never have that opportunity to recharge?

    2. Regina

      My job made me take a laptop when I was on bereavement leave (between my partner and I, there were three deaths of immediate family members within 8 days), and had the gall to call me at 11:00pm the night of one of the funerals to work.

      I was an idiot, and took the call, and did the work, because I had just started working at this company, and thought I had to be a team player. I know that’s on me, but I’m the only one in the entire company of 1200+ people trained to do my job (horrific lack of planning on their part). They just don’t believe in cross-training and didn’t support me when I tried to put a backup plan in place before I left. I absolutely wasn’t vocal enough about it, but I don’t think it was entirely my fault because they do this to everybody. But, because they’re the only company that pays a living wage in town, we all have to put up with it.

      That bring said, I’m still with this company, and trying desperately to get out.

      1. Brownie Queen

        I feel your pain. I too have no backup at work. I lost my father a few weeks ago and had to create a presentation for some jerk exec before he went on his vacation during my bereavement leave. He insisted on having this information despite the fact the meeting he needed it for wasn’t until the week when I would have been back to work. Talk about totally losing respect for that person.

            1. the gold digger

              All is well. Lots of drama. Thanks, you guys!

              Email me at anitamke at the email server that is hot and I will add you to the list for now. I am hoping to open the blog again next week.

              1. the gold digger

                Jessica (the celt), I think I sent you an invitation. I replied to your email only to get a failure notification. If you don’t get an invitation, please write to me again.

                GD

        1. Chinook

          Gold digger, I had an aunt-in-law who did the same thing (only she was bereaved) because she wanted to ensure that payroll went out in time and correctly so she wanted to be available in case there were issues (i.e. she was able to delegate her job but needed to be available for questions which did come up). But, her employer truly appreciated it and she was able to control when she contacted them (which is the advantage of their being only dial-up internet and cell-phone coverage being spotty).

      2. Ad Astra

        My old manager once made one of my colleagues work remotely from the hospital while his mom was undergoing cancer-related surgery. That’s when I knew it was time to GTFO.

    3. blackcat

      At my old job (private school teaching), the administration tried to extend the “Answer parent & student emails within 24 hours” rule to Christmas and summer vacations.

      Someone, rightfully, asked, “What if we travel to places without internet access?” The response was “We’d prefer you not do that.” With the implication being we had no right to do that *ever.* We were told that the only exception that they were building into the policy was for when we were on the school run trips that we had to chaperone.

      Sure, we got to keep our employer-issued laptops the entire time. And yes, we *were* working a great deal of that time. But unlike the administrators, who were in 12-month contracts, we were “10-month employees,” as stated in our contracts (we had clear contracts).

      But them trying (and ultimately failing–there was rebellion) to institute that policy greatly exacerbated the lack of trust between the teachers and the administration. I don’t think employers realize how much they can hurt their relationships with their employees by encroaching on vacations.

      1. RMRIC0

        “I don’t think employers realize how much they can hurt their relationships with their employees by encroaching on vacations.”

        I find that in those situations it’s less that they don’t realize and more that they just don’t care or place real value in their relationship with employees/morale.

      2. Chinook

        “The response was “We’d prefer you not do that.” ”

        My response – “Would you please put that in writing so I can explain to my grandmother why I will never be able to visit her? Obviously, this will need to be in hard copy form since her town only has dial-up and it is spotty at best.”

    4. Elizabeth West

      I took one to London last visit, but that was my decision because 1. I didn’t want to shove my month end stuff off on my coworkers, and 2. I didn’t want to go in the hole on PTO. I didn’t intend to go back so soon; that only happened because of the Titanic Live concert.

      Anyway, I had research to do, so it wasn’t entirely a holiday per se. I spent quite a bit of time in the British Library looking at old newspapers.

    5. Sarah

      I have SO many questions about this! These aren’t directed at you, but at employers who insist on this.

      I’d genuinely worry about the insurance status if anything happened to it, because you wouldn’t be using it on a work trip/in a work(ing from home) environment, so would that invalidate any warranty? Is it even covered abroad anyway? What happens if you put it in the hold and your bag goes missing? What if it’s stolen?

      Are they expecting you to have it with you all the time, or check in at certain points? Will they pay you for eg an hour a day?

      And being somewhat paranoid about data protection, I’d be concerned about how I was meant to log on. Do you have a secure VPN, and will that work in eg hotel wifi? Who’s responsible for any security issues if you have to use unsecured connections? Would you hotel even have wifi, or would you be expected to pay for it if it’s not free? Could you wifi costs back on expenses, if you’re also going to be using it for pleasure?

      SO MANY QUESTIONS! How do people who do this handle it, just hope nothing goes wrong?

      1. Sarah

        Oh, and, are employers ok with people using their work laptops for personal things? I’m imagining having to take my own laptop (I upload a lot of photos and blog a lot so I need it) AND a work one!

        1. Ad Astra

          That’s going to depend on the company, of course, but my husband and I have always used our work laptops for personal stuff. We don’t even have personal laptops. Obviously, we wouldn’t look at/save anything extremely private or salacious on our work laptops, but most activities would be fine. Our IT people could of course look at anything and everything on the device, but they’ve never had reason to.

          My current employer might not take that view of it, but they don’t really issue laptops, so it hasn’t come up.

  12. DIYBLOGGUY

    #2 – I always just say I’m going to be out of mobile coverage and that usually is enough. Taking a laptop is an extreme ask, just say no. It’s called a holiday and not a ‘workaday’

  13. Apollo Warbucks

    #4 The nature of the pay agreement you have with the salesman really doesn’t matter and can not be used to determine if he is an employee. I will post a link below to the HMRC website below so you check how the salesman should be classified.

    If the salesman is on your payroll and you are paying his NI contributions and providing benefits to him then he is any employee and you are most definitely his boss. If he is a contractor and you are paying him then you are still entitled to provide instructions and directions about the work he is to complete.

    The guy sounds like a jerk, it take some balls to tell the owner of the business paying your wages they do not have the right to assign work in exchange for those wages (this assumes you are being reasonable in the way you are managing him and the work you are asking him to do falls under his job description)

    There is nothing to be gained by debating the technicalities of the pay arrangement, the message to get across is that he is required to listen to you and carry about the tasks as assigned. I would sit down with the salesman and explain anyone who wants to take a salary from your business is required to follow direct instructions from you as the owner of the business.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I’m going to go at this a different angle.

      The mentality you want in straight commission sales people is the mentally of someone running their own shop. I have a lifetime of experience in this, including having been straight commission for a decade. (We don’t have any straight commission people left in our company, save a few old timers grandfathered in, because you can’t get anybody decent to work straight commission anymore. Rare birds.)

      When you’re managing sales people on straight or high commission, and your business depends on the work they bring in, you have to manage them carefully. You want their eyes on the prize of bringing more business.

      I don’t know what it is the OP asked the sales person to do, but if it is not specifically related to the sales the sales person is bringing in (say filing), the OP may have started a chain of events that’s going to lose a successful sales person. Which, is okay, but this person won’t be a snap of fingers easy to replace.

      What I’d do at this point is say, yes Fred, I’m your boss for Pete’s sake, now let’s talk about why you can’t do this thing that I’ve been asking you to do and find some solution together.

      1. Colette

        Yeah, if he’s commission only, he’s literally not being paid to do stuff unrelated to sales. It makes sense that he’d push back. If it’s related or something really short, it may be a reasonable request, but the OP should think about the impact before talking with her employee.

        1. hbc

          Yes yes yes. They might debate whose responsibility it is to design a new brochure, but if he’s being asked to paint the office or something, he’s being asked to work for free.

        2. Ani

          Even in restaurants, where wait staff is paid something so far below minimum wage it isn’t even funny (I want to say $2.15 for some reason), there absolutely are wait staff who take the attitude that they are working for tips and they will do MINIMAL station cleanup at the rate the restaurant is paying and flat-out refuse to work an hour or more at that rate to do prep work opening the restaurant. Of course they can be fired. But I’ve never seen it happen.

      2. Apollo Warbucks

        It’s good to hear from someone who’s worked under those conditions and it’s an interesting perspective I wouldn’t have considered without you sharing it.

        To use your example some light filing that can be done around customer interaction doesn’t seem an unreasonable duty to be assigned to the salesman, especially in such a small studio where there aren’t dedicated support staff.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Agreed.

          In reality, successful salespeople are administrative disasters, more often than not. As a sales manager, I think picking your battles is the best approach.

          Administrative issues that cause mistakes and problems for customers/loss of money to the customer must be addressed. Dude refuses to do filing but is otherwise performing well, work out another filing solution.

          True story: back in the day we had a sales person who was bringing in insane deals, it was nuts, some of the seven figures. Straight commission. Utter administrative*disaster*, she couldn’t even read decimal points (not kidding, she couldn’t read decimal points and she was writing seven figure orders). Nobody read her the riot act about learning to do decimals, they hired her a decimal assistant. #notmakingitup

          1. hbc

            So, seven figures as in $X,XXX,XXX, or $XX,XXX.XX? :)

            You do what you need to for superstars. I had a professor whose assistant’s primary job was to print his emails for him to read and then respond for him with whatever he wrote on paper or dictated to her. This was about 2000 and the guy was maybe 35 (so the typical excuses don’t apply), but he was a freaking genius with patents and awards and grant money out the wazoo. If he needed someone to stand there with a palm frond and fan him like a pharoah, it probably would have happened.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              Million dollar orders.

              She did 3/4 of a million in straight commission, in her pocket one year. (See: reasons I was inspired to go into straight commission work. See also: goals I did not personally achieve. :) )

          2. Stranger than fiction

            Yeah I’m wonderimg if it’s data entry of the customers he’s selling or something like that God knows our commissioned salespeople always ball at that type stuff and pawn it off as much as possible

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              My best story on that topic is the time our company bought out a smaller, 3 person teapot company. After a couple of months, the previous owner/sole sales person coughed up a shoe box full of hand written orders that had already been delivered to customers, but had never been entered into any kind of order system or billed. The dates went back over a year .

              (The year, btw was 2010 not 1969)

  14. Macedon

    2. One week of vacation in five years, and even that guilted by your company. Think that over.

    4. Does he work on commission only, or base salary + commission? Because if the latter, he doesn’t even have his original point to stand on.

    Regardless, he is making commission off work you assign or let him collaborate on. You chose him, perhaps train him, you employ and endorse him. You also probably handle his pay transfers. You’re the boss. But someone so quick to contest that to your face might’ve reached different conclusions about how things work here – it can’t hurt to have a discussion about the power hierarchy.

    5. Alison’s definitely right that the timing favours you more now – it’s easier to present The Boss with a list of concrete (work-related) consequences now that you’ve already assumed your duties. It also makes a solid case for the fact that you can handle these additional tasks, and that it’s more practical to give you the raise and keep you at your higher position than to maybe hire someone with more tenure and appoint them over you, while returning you to your original job. Just be sure to jot down a couple of reasons why you think you deserve this raise – the amount or difficulty of the additional work you’ve been doing, how your own skill set has changed, your direct contribution to the company’s welfare – and it should go fine.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      All great points she should cover and agree that timing is everything with this. Hopefully the previous comment in May wasn’t them trying to blow it off

  15. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

    #3: I agree that it’s rude to not send a notice that you didn’t get the job, but speaking from experience: it’s not fun to send such notices out to people. It can be a surprising amount of work to prepare and send these notices to people. It’s something that is easy to procrastinate on. And it’s unlikely that my boss will even notice that I didn’t do it and ding me on my appraisal. Honestly, if I didn’t have all this lingering guilt from being raised Catholic, I’d probably conveniently ‘forget’ about it and never do it at all.

    As a somewhat unrelated postscript: whenever I see someone write “I find that so disrespectful” (or words to that effect), I cannot help but think “you are a whiner”. Perhaps it’s simply another artifact of my advanced age and ever-increasing crankiness. But here’s the thing: a LOT of situations in life are not evenly balanced. There’s a power-imbalance between employer and employee, and between job applicant and hiring manager, and customer and customer service agent, and citizen and cop, and cop and judge, and so it goes. Life isn’t fair. We all get stuck on the Less Powerful side of things from time to time. Deal with it.

    1. DarcyPennell

      Respect and power are totally separate. Having power does not remove the need to behave respectfully. When my boss tells me to do something, we both know it isn’t a request, because she has power over my livelihood. But she tells me to do it in a respectful manner and I comply happily, not just obediently. I used to work in a courtroom and the judge had the power to put anyone in the room in jail (not just defendants, anyone. I saw him jail a witness’ relative for contempt because they were disrespectful to the court.) While exercising his power he never treated anyone disrespectfully. When I am a customer, I have power over clerks who help me. I treat them with respect because they are human beings and so am I. I sincerely hope you do the same.

    2. fposte

      It doesn’t have take a long time, though; why is it taking so long? Even if you’re an outlier like me and can’t do mail merge, copy-paste can get you right through it. You don’t have to write anything brilliant–just use one of Alison’s examples as a template, tweak it for you organization, and adapt it in the future as needed. It’s the notifications for the interviewed candidates and internal candidates that need a little more crafting.

      1. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

        It’s not the actual writing and sending the email that takes time; it’s all of the work involved in getting to the point where I’ve got a list of people that everyone agrees we’re not going to hire, and then handling other higher-priority work until I’m down to sending out rejection letters, and nobody likes to send out bad news.

        For the record (and I thought it was somewhat clear in what I wrote above but maybe not)(and this isn’t for you, fposte, but for some of the people below): I do send out rejection letters. It’s far from fun, but I do it because I feel it is a necessary part of the job.

        Also: I’ve been known to personalize rejection letters. Maybe this is bad. But sometimes I’ll have a candidate who was really outstanding – but someone else simply outclassed them in the specific job skills we needed. So I’ll tell them. At the very least, I’d rather not have someone thinking “I screwed up the interview!” when in fact they aced the interview.

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I got that you were talking mostly about your internal drama rather than the actual process. But I really don’t think you need to take that long in sending out rejection letters, especially to people you didn’t interview, and I think you’d find the task less dreadworthy if you made it a little smaller in your head. Honestly, the majority of my time is checking to make sure I’ve got the name spelled right, because I think it would really suck to get a rejection letter that got your name wrong.

          (As I said, I do take longer with internal candidates, and sometimes we have a face to face discussion as well. But the majority of letters are template, and I think they’d rather have a polite form letter early than a polite hand-crafted letter 2-3 weeks later.)

          1. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

            I’m sorry – “to people [I] didn’t interview”? Also, not sure what you mean by “that long”? I know I offered reasons why these letters can be late. But I’m usually pretty good about getting them out with some measure of promptness. There are aspects of my job that I don’t love. But that doesn’t mean I’m bad at it! :)

            1. fposte

              By “that long” I mean “that much work.” By “you” I mean the plural you for your organization, and I’m referring to the fact that rejection letters to people whose candidacy didn’t reach the interview stage really don’t need to be personalized, and personalization isn’t worth the additional time to the organization or to the candidate.

              You said, “It can be a surprising amount of work to prepare and send these notices to people.” I get it’s not fun, but I’m still not seeing why it’s a surprising amount of work. And I get that you’re offering reasons why some people who aren’t you might be late on these, but honestly, I don’t buy the reasons. These aren’t that complicated, and if you make them complicated, it’s worse for everybody.

    3. Not Today Satan

      I’ve never hired for an employer, but I did recently plan a wedding which involved interviewing and hiring or rejecting many vendors. Notifying them that they weren’t chosen really wasn’t fun, but I take pride in being a polite, mature, professional person. And not notifying someone about a hiring decision is none of those things.

      Also some “whiners” have actually created (very important and beneficial) change about things that aren’t fair. Like for example the history of labor laws. I for one am very grateful workers of the past (and present! lots of important stuff is still happening) did not just “deal with it.”

    4. some1

      Like Fposte said, this shouldn’t be taking long, and it does benefit your org – your rejected candidate could be a possible customer, client, donor or member; why leave them with a bad last impression?

    5. B

      You think we are a whiner…I am appalled. We took time to write a great cover letter, make sure our resume was correct, prepared for an interview, probably took a day off from work or had to create an excuse to leave, made sure to have the proper clothes, arrive early, and be as professional/respectful as possible. But you cannot take 2 minutes out of your day to tell someone who did all of that hard work they didn’t get a job. Shame on you and your company for letting this happen.

    6. BananaPants

      Why does it take so long? All that’s necessary is a polite, single-line email. You could even have a template for it, like fposte says. For an interviewed candidate it might need to be 2-3 lines, but again can be completely copy-paste.

      If you would like the same courtesy yourself while job searching, then it’s the right thing to do when you’re responsible for sending out rejections. Leaving candidates hanging forever without responding to or contacting them – especially after multiple interviews – can leave a very bad taste in their mouths.

    7. Sunflower

      I totally get what you’re saying but I think sending the email is something that needs to be done. I disagree with you that it’s a lot of work to send these notices to people- it’s just an annoying, tedious task. As Allison has mentioned before, you can use a template to just copy and paste to send to everyone. You can even send those emails to final candidates- just let people know.

      I do agree with you on pretty much everything else though. There are things that job seekers should be flat out angry about(like showing up to an interview and the manager not being prepared) but I’ve seen a good amount of job seekers become too emotionally involved in the process and expect too much. As someone who has applied to(and been rejected) from god knows how many jobs, maybe I’ve just become jaded but I find a lot of people to have unrealistic expectations about the job search process. If I apply for a job, yes i expect some sort of a response. I don’t care if it’s an automated one. But I’m shocked at how some people are so offended if they don’t get a response back immediately or if they don’t get a personalized email letting them know why they didn’t get the job. It seems like some people expect a hiring manager to email them at every point in the process and that would just be ridiculous. As a job seeker, getting a job is your top priority. But hiring managers often have higher priorities than getting a new hire on board ASAP and that seems to be where a lot of the disconnect comes from.

    8. Sadsack

      Holy shit. Are you serious? So, is it rude not to send notices, or is it whining to expect and appreciate notices? Which is it? Your attitude toward job seekers sucks.

    9. Purple Jello

      Fill in the blanks, some options provided:

      Dear (fabulous job candidate),
      Thank you for taking the time to visit (Great Company) and speaking with (SuperBoss), (Awesome Co-worker) and (Impatient Me) on ___________(date of interview).

      We especially liked your comments on __________ (our product/where you thought our business is going/the weather/other).

      While we have decided to go with another candidate, we would like to keep your information on hand for potential future positions.

      Best regards,

      1. Sadsack

        This is kind of you to offer. Although, I have been grateful even to receive rejections that were much shorter and less personalized. If Ser Suli can manage to make the time, a simple, “Thank you for your interest in Great Company. While your qualifications are impressive, we chose another candidate.” That’s all it takes to let people know they didn’t get the job.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Nope.

      I don’t believe applicants necessarily need a handcrafted letter saying they weren’t chosen for interviews. That can be accomplished by a generic email, or none at all–hey, it’s just an application. But when someone has taken the not-inconsiderable time to prepare for and attend an in-person interview, to leave them hanging in silence is just plain rude. You can even use a generic email template for that. Have your admin do it. I’ve done it–it takes maybe a minute, tops.

      1. Ser Suli Ram Kikura

        Golly. It was like 4am when I wrote that stuff above, but – am I really that terrible of a writer that people didn’t catch that I do send out rejection letters?

        And my issues with “whiners” don’t have anything to do with rejection letters. It’s when someone says “I find X so disrespectful”, ie, they’re whining that someone didn’t treat them with the level of respect they feel entitled to – I roll my eyes at these people. In my experience, the people who make lots of noise about how they were ‘disrespected’ typically have unrealistic expectations about the level of respect they deserve.

        In this specific instance, I feel it was the case that OP was unhappy that they didn’t get the job. But they decided to add the bit about disrespect to make it look like they were even more wronged.

        Oh well.

    11. Anonymous Ninja

      “whenever I see someone write “I find that so disrespectful” (or words to that effect), I cannot help but think “you are a whiner”.”

      Some actions are disrespectful, others aren’t. Never acknowledging the applicant is disrespectful. An applicant complaining that the rejection notice wasn’t hand-delivered by a unicorn barfing rainbows is whining.

  16. Emma UK

    I had a team leader who always brought in baked goods made by his mum. They always smelt nice and looked nice… but I don’t like to eat food made by people I don’t know. I can’t help but wonder about their kitchen, or if they wash their hands regularly. I

      1. AnotherAlison

        There are health department codes that apply to restaurants. Of course these are violated & local news regularly runs stories about a rogue band-aid or teenage employees bathing in the kitchen sink, but it is just different. . .we pretend restaurants ARE up to code.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          I have a health card, and the requirements that restaurants are held to are much lower than my own! Restaurants can be pretty nasty, health inspectors don’t come every day, and often a restaurant doesn’t get in trouble until someone gets sick. (However, I’m the person who is willing to eat most potluck and restaurant food, plus some unwashed produce and occasionally things that just dropped on the ground — I have a great immune system!)

      2. Hermoine Granger

        It’s a little different though. Restaurants and take out places are subject to health inspections (or at least they are here in New York City). There are rating signs displayed in the front window / door and there’s also a website that you can visit for details about violations (ex: vermin, improper storage of food, etc.).

        You don’t have ready access to that kind of info about people’s homes or kitchens outside of what you see / hear for yourself.

      3. Emma UK

        Only the ones with 5 star ratings, though I accept a 4 if it looks okay :) http://ratings.food.gov.uk/. I have been known to walk into a place and immediately walk out because it made me feel icky. This quirk of mine is due to something gross that happened in the past that has made me more particular.

        So even if OP1 had baked food that looked amazing and smelt great, I just wouldn’t be able to eat it. It would make me feel anxious.

    1. The First Hair

      This. There was a woman on my old team that would bake every once in awhile and bring in stuff. People always found hairs in the food she would bring in. I started declining after the first hair.

      1. AnotherAlison

        Urgh. You just never know about people.

        My in-laws live several states away, so I visit them rarely, but one time we ate at their house, and my step-MIL made a point of telling me not to worry about the meat balls because she wore gloves while making them. She has psoriasis. I did not worry at all about the meat balls *before* she said that. : (

        1. Ife

          For future reference, there’s not anything to be concerned about, assuming your step MIL follows proper food safety procedures that everyone should be following. Psoriasis is not at all contagious, even with direct contact (and if she wore gloves, there wouldn’t be any direct contact anyway). It might look gross, but you can’t catch it from someone.

          1. AnotherAlison

            I certainly didn’t think it was contagious. She sheds skin, which is why she wears gloves. Maybe this isn’t the case for everyone with psoriasis, as she has other autoimmune diseases, too. I don’t think it’s out of line that I don’t want shed skin in my dinner. Esp. when she is the one who tells everyone that she wears gloves so don’t worry about her skin in the food. (BTW, I ate the dinner and said nothing.)

        2. Marcela

          Probably she did it because in the past she must have had people reacting to her lesions. I had a friend with very ugly looking lesions in his hands caused by psoriasis. When we met, the first thing he said, when extending his hand, was “it’s not contagious”. I thought then that it was so sad he needed to warn me in advance, but later I saw the way other people tried to avoid his hand or didn’t want to eat what he made.

      2. RO

        Ha!

        I stopped eating when the food was moldy. I pulled the person aside to tell him and he told me to eat around the mold as it was just like penicillin.

      3. Today's Satan

        A very dear friend of mine frequently volunteers to make something for our Friday night get-togethers at my next-door neighbor’s house. Having seen her kitchen, I always say, “Oh, that sounds lovely, but I’ve already bought all the ingredients for X that I’m bringing.* Maybe next time?” And the few times she has brought stuff, I just move it around my plate without eating any, then throw away the leftovers she inevitably sends me home with.

        *(Whether I’ve actually already bought them or not.)

    2. Jem

      Emma, has a point. Restaurants have hygiene standards forced on them by the government, private citizens do not.

    3. lawsuited

      I love baking, but don’t bake for the office for this reason (and because I don’t want to be the office marm). I bring in treats on my birthday and around the holidays, but buy them from a bakery so people feel comfortable eating them.

  17. Worker Bee (Germany)

    #4 Does it really matter if he is an employee or a contractor? If he is an employee you tell him what to do. If he is a contractor you lay out in the contract what he works on, if I understand it correctly.

  18. Brandy

    #2. I work at a company where working past 5pm (and before 9am…I was on a call before hopping vet here!) is prevalent among senior management. When we do vacations, we specifically choose places that have bad or unreliable reception, are several time zones away, etc so we can really unplug. Hard to be tempted to join that call of you’re at the top of a mountain!

    In your case, if you are uncomfortable taking a stand (which you should totally do! Your boss is a loon!) you can simply say, “I will not have access to reliable internet.”

  19. L

    OP 1, is your love language gifts or acts of kindness? If so, I bet it can be frustrating and even hurtful sometimes to not be able to express yourself that way and have it well received. Allison is right about directing the baking energy toward people who deserve it and who you know appreciate it –Maybe once a month or so you and your kids could even volunteer to prepare food together for meals-on-wheels or another service. But I know that still may leave you without being able to express your love the way you want to toward your husband and the people in his life. I would say the holidays are an accepted time for baked goods, and wondering if you can think of other gifts/acts of service for him meanwhile, like maybe a cool piece of gear or a comfort item for his car, like a nice cushion.. or even just focusing on great dinners that he can pack leftovers of for lunch.

    1. The First Hair

      That’s a great idea! Firemen are another group that appreciate baked goods. Several years ago, our church had an outreach event for all of the firehouses in our city. We put together baskets of snacks, baked goods, with cards of encouragement and delivered them to the firehouses. They loved it. But be sure to call ahead and make sure it’s appropriate.

      I’m so glad someone else brought up love languages – that book is amazing!

      1. L

        Learning about the love languages has really helped me understand my loved ones. Sometimes I’ve even caught myself analyzing reality tv relationships with it LOL. I’ll be like, “The issue here is that Jason’s love language is Acts, but Courtney’s is Verbal.. Jason makes these big sweeping gestures of love, but since he likes to surprise Courtney with these gestures, he sometimes doesn’t communicate well meanwhile, which results in Courtney feeling deprived of love since she isn’t getting it Verbally”
        Anyway, Firefighters is a great idea too!

  20. Chris

    In my last job, half the employees loved baking, and we would usually start our day by hopefully looking into the break room to see if anyone had brought food. Maybe it’s just the library world, but there are few things we love more than free baked goods.

    Also, I’m a bit baffled at the idea of making fun of someone for having someone else bake something when they aren’t good at baking. Quibble about gender roles all you want, but while I (a man) am pretty good at cooking, I suck at baking. I’ve failed every time I’ve tried. So yes, for office parties, I’ve had friends/family who DON’T suck at baking bake things for me to bring in. I don’t really understand why this is a big deal. I am not good at thing A. Other person is good at thing A. Therefore other person doing thing A makes sense, right? Understanding that the other person will get compensation, in terms of services rendered or money.

    I mean, if you have an actual rota, do you want someone to bring in a tray of charcoal briquettes, or do you want something that tastes good?

    1. Allison

      I don’t understand offices that make people bring stuff in. Baking rotations and mandatory potlucks are dumb, because you’re right, not everyone is good at cooking/baking. I am good at those things but I don’t always have the time to whip something up for a bunch of people. I did in college, I don’t now. This is one of those aspects of office life that still operates under the assumption that everyone at the company has someone at home who can take care of this or that.

      1. the gold digger

        At the potlucks in my office, there is a sign up list with suggested items, including things like plates, potato chips, and, for Oktoberfest, a jar of Nutella.

        The potlucks are not mandatory, but if you plan to eat of it, it is good manners to contribute.

        1. BananaPants

          Our kids’ daycare does this for classroom parties – the sign up sheets include paper plates and napkins, because not everyone can cook or has the time to cook (or can afford to buy baked goods or fruit a veggie platter or whatever). I admit that when life has been stressful, I’ve made sure to be the first parent to sign up so I can snag the plates or napkins!

        2. Elizabeth West

          At Exjob, we had a few people who wouldn’t bring anything and fill plates anyway. We had to make a rule that if you don’t contribute, don’t expect to eat. Even bringing a bag of chips or a 2-liter bottle of soda (cheap) were good enough.

      2. Shortie

        I don’t get it either, Allison. At my former workplace, we had mandatory baking rotations for a Friday morning breakfast meeting. It was perfectly acceptable to bring in something from the bakery or grocery store if you didn’t have time to bake or weren’t good at it, which was great, but still…whenever I was picking up doughnuts from the bakery, I couldn’t help but think (a) I never eat this unhealthily or expensively at home for breakfast and (b) I spend 55 hours per week working and commuting, so now it’s 55.5 or 56 dealing with this B.S. (Traffic was horrible in this city.)

        It wasn’t the end of the world, and I did it because it was the culture, but this kind of stuff just chips away at people who have very little free time due to personal obligations (whether it’s family, night school, eldercare, whatever…). I tried questioning the custom, but it was clearly not appreciated, so I quickly abandoned that. :)

    2. JB (not in Houston)

      Because claiming to be bad at something that has traditionally been assigned to women so that they don’t have to do it and the women have to keep doing it (because . . . we’re born knowing how to bake and take notes in meetings and clean up the break room?) is something that many, many men have done to avoid having to do those traditionally gendered things. There’s more at stake than the quality of baked goods. Hopefully we will get to a point where there aren’t any gendered tasks, and then sure, it won’t matter who baked the thing as long as it was someone who knows how to do it.

      If you really want to be the one who brings stuff in for your office, you can compromise on the “homemade” definition. It’s possible that you can’t open up a package of premade cookie dough, preheat your oven, and set a timer, but I bet with practice, you could do that much.

      1. Allison

        Pretty much this. I see this a lot: “sorry, I’m just not very good at that, but you’re really good at it!” as an excuse not to do something or learn to do it better. I’ll give that some people just have trouble with certain things and can’t do it no matter how hard they try, but most dudes who say they “can’t” do something just don’t want to and can’t be bothered to honestly attempt to learn how.

        I’ll give that baking is tricky, it is easier to mess up than cooking. When you’re cooking you can approximate things and modify recipes and have things still come out pretty good. With baking you do need to be able to measure things properly, and use the exact amount the recipe calls for. And even with pre-made dough you do have to check on things are they’re baking to make sure they don’t burn, because some ovens are weird.

        1. Kay

          Ha! An anecdotal story. My husband is a much better cook than I am – he cooks dinner for me/us almost every single night (which I guess you could say is traditionally a woman role?), but he is a terrible baker. When he cooks he is constantly tasting and adjusting, etc, whereas I always follow the recipe. One time, when I had hurt myself, I asked him to make me some cookies, and he very gamely tried to make one of my favorite recipes. It called for 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of sugar. He missed the 1 cup part and only put in 2 tablespoons of sugar. They were pretty terrible cookies.

          I always think of cooking vs. baking as more of a personality thing – I like being meticulous and measuring out ingredients by weight.

          1. Allison

            My parents were very much split when it came to cooking. My dad did a lot of it because he was usually home earlier so it made sense for him to buy the food and get things going, my mom would usually help after she got home and changed out of her work clothes. Which may explain why we ate so much grilled fish and meats when I was growing up.

          2. Marcela

            Oh! In our home it’s the same thing. He cooks, I bake. I don’t like cooking, but I think I can find the root in that dislike in the fact that I am a very slow cooker, measuring and cutting very, very carefully and so everything looks perfect. Of course, I can only cook then just one thing, as it takes all my time. Baking is different, it doesn’t matter if I’m fast or slow when preparing the mix.

          3. Alison Hendrix

            Baking is a little bit more of an exact science, but once you gain experience you learn how to play with some ingredients. With cooking you may start with the initial measurements as framework, but you can always adjust ingredients depending on your taste.

            I’m fortunate I’m fairly good at both – I used to just get prepared mixes for baking cakes/cookies/breads, but I learned it’s not that hard to actually make everything from scratch. I’ve never cooked when I was a kid – my mom hates it when I am in the kitchen (she likes to cook alone, and I think I have that trait now), but when I started living on my own I started experimenting on cooking and found it’s actually not as hard as I thought it would be. One thing that helped was when I do quite detailed research for recipes that I plan to cook, and at some point I end up reading about the science of it (esp. baking). Not to mention I like watching cooking shows – Alton Brown’s Good Eats helped me understand why a particular method works for a particular thing.

            Also – always TASTE YOUR FOOD!

      2. Chris

        But I have no real desire to learn how to bake. Yet I wish to contribute to the communal feast. Is it better if I buy it from a bakery? I don’t assume my friends (both male and female) will bake for me because they’re women (clearly in the case of the men); rather, I know that they love baking, and I say, ‘hey, if I buy you a sixpack [or insert individualized treat/payment here] could you make me a batch of that thing you’re awesome at?’

        I just don’t see how mocking someone helps anyone at all. I know it’s a problem in many offices re: gender roles (though in my library 90% of the staff is female which makes percentages go off, obviously). We had a schedule for cleaning the fridge, washing dishes, etc, which all staff, including managers, were placed on. And it got done, regardless of position or gender. And sometimes I would ask my mom to make her awesome meatballs because I can’t get them quite right, or ask my dad to make a batch of his fudge. Because they’re awesome, and I want to share the awesome food with my awesome coworkers.

        1. Colette

          IMO, buying something is better than asking someone else to bake for you, because you’re still solving the problem yourself (as opposed to expecting another adult to do it for you).

          1. Anyonymous

            But if he’s compensating a friend who bakes, what’s the difference? He’s still relying on another adult for help if he goes to a bakery.

            I can’t speak for other bakers, but if my husband came home and told me, “Hey, we’re doing a potluck on Friday at work, can you bake something for me?”, zip would jump at the chance because it would allow me to show off my skills and then I would demand to hear all the compliments my goodies got when he came home.

            1. Colette

              I think the traditional gender roles are a big part of why that feels wrong. Also, it’s not usually a compensated friend – it’s usually a wife or mother, which makes me believe it’s learned helplessness.

              I think it’s better to go with less-than-optimal food than to put yourself in that position, even though it rarely seems to impact men’s careers.

                1. Elizabeth West

                  Whoops, hit submit too soon. I meant to add, if baking something is assigned rather than something you choose. Then when it’s his turn to cook a dish he does. Or do the dishes or help clean up (especially).

                2. Colette

                  Yeah, if he sometimes cooks or bakes, I’d agree that it’s OK to have someone cover the parts he’s not interested in. If he never cooks or bakes, he should pay a professional to do it for him (i.e. buy something) rather than relying on the women in his life to cover.

        2. anonanonanon

          I’d say it depends on your relationship with that person. If it’s someone you’re close to and you know they’ll react positively, sure ask. But it’s also a nice idea to buy the ingredients for them if it’s something special or expensive you’d like them to make. Not everyone keeps a pile of baking ingredients on hand in their cupboards and some of them can get pricey. For example, I have no problem making vegan desserts and pastries for my brother for the holidays or if he asks, but he usually buys all the ingredients or reimburses me for them, which is nice.

          I’d just caution against asking too often. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying something from a bakery or store. Some people actually prefer store bought items over homemade baked goods for a variety of reasons.

        3. JB (not in Houston)

          I’m not sure where you were getting that I was mocking you. You said you can’t bring in stuff you made yourself because you suck at baking. I made a suggestion that even people who suck at baking can do. Now you say you just don’t to do it.

          You said you were “baffled” at why people don’t like it when men only bring in stuff that women made (or at least that’s what I think you were baffled at) and I explained it. If it’s not a problem in your office, great. That doesn’t mean it’s not a problem in the workforce generally.

        4. Zed

          When we have potlucks at work, I always buy some kind of dessert from a locally well-known bakery. I probably spend quite a bit more than if I made something myself, but I have the security of knowing that whatever I will bring will be tasty and good quality.

          I’m female, if it matters. Just not very interested in either cooking or baking.

      3. Anyonymous

        So until all men know how to bake, no woman should. Cool.

        There’s a difference between pretending you’re bad at something so someone else will do it and just admitting you’re not good after many tries, which sounds like the case with this guy.

        Also, it may be snobby, but I don’t want Pillsbury slice and bake cookies. Go to the bakery and buy something made from scratch if you can’t do it yourself.

        1. Colette

          The issue is that, to a coworker, there is no way to know whether you’re claiming to be bad at something because you believe you’re too good to do it, or if it’s actually a skill you have tried to master but are not yet competent at.

          1. Anyonymous

            I can honestly say I’ve never thought that hard about this. Someone brings cookies to a potluck, I eat them. I don’t care much about the politics that went into the creation of the cookies.

            1. Alison Hendrix

              Me neither. Our potlucks has always been “bring something others can enjoy” and people either just sign up for either bringing in an appetizer, an entrée, desserts, drinks or utensils/plates. They don’t require all of it to be homemade – someone who brings a veggie platter or a platter of cookies from the nearby Target gets eaten all the same. Sure you get compliments if everyone loved your homemade food, but other than that the whole point of our potluck is simply being able to contribute in a way.

          2. Elsajeni

            But as a coworker, it’s also… not really your business. Unless you work in a bakery, what difference does it make to the workplace whether one of your coworkers is genuinely bad at baking (or just doesn’t enjoy it, or was too busy to do it himself, or whatever) or engaging in baking-related learned helplessness? Who made it your business to police the gender roles in someone else’s relationship? As a coworker, when someone brings in treats, I think my involvement with the question of who, exactly, baked those cookies ends at “Well, my compliments to [your wife/your friend Tim/the nice people at the Kroger bakery], then.”

            1. Colette

              If the coworker thinks that he’s above baking because that’s women’s work, that’s very relevant to the workplace, because that’s unlikely to be an isolated idea of gender roles.

              1. Elsajeni

                Then address the ways that it directly affects the workplace. If the coworker who doesn’t bake also refuses to do his own filing because it’s “women’s work”, or treats his female peers like subordinates, or whatever, then yes, that needs to be dealt with — but the fact that he doesn’t do his own baking is still beside the point. I’m really having trouble imagining a situation where a coworker has views on gender roles that create problems in the workplace, but the only evidence of the problem is that his wife does all the baking.

                1. Colette

                  I haven’t suggested that anyone take action based on who baked the goods – I’m explaining why it affects my opinion about the person who relies on someone else for things like this.

                  When someone does something that people with rigid ideas about gender roles do, it’s not unreasonable to wonder what their views on gender roles are.

        2. lawsuited

          Ah yes, but have you tried the Ghirardelli chocolate brownie mix? I’ve stopped making brownies from scratch, because nothing I make can beat the chocolatey power of Ghirardelli.

          1. anonanonanon

            Making brownies from scratch with Ghirardelli baking cocoa and chocolate is ten times more amazing than the mix. Their chocolate cookie bars also make a really decadent chocolate pudding pie. Now that I can afford it, I always use high quality chocolate in baking. It makes such a difference!

      4. Ad Astra

        How can someone be bad at baking? It’s literally just mixing stuff up in bowls and putting it in the oven. I have way more trouble with stovetop cooking, where I’m supposed to chop and slice and peel stuff, and then somehow get the meat cooked all the way through on the inside without burning it to a crisp on the outside. And I have to watch the pan the whole time instead of setting a timer and going off to watch TV.

        Baking rules, cooking drools.

        1. Anyonymous

          I also don’t get it, but some people are bad at measuring, which needs to be fairly precise in baking, or they don’t realize that “Bake for 18-22 minutes” means you need to start checking at 18, because it might be burnt at 22, or they mistake baking soda for baking powder, or they forget to grease and then line and then grease again cake pans…

        2. fposte

          I love baking, but there are a million ways you can be bad at baking, because it involves a fair bit of delicate chemistry. Don’t know the difference between baking soda and baking powder? You’re screwed. Think a 9×12 pan can substitute for a 10×13 pan? You’re screwed. Don’t realize your oven runs 50 degrees hotter than the setting? You’re screwed. Etc.

          1. Today's Satan

            I never had any idea that baking could be difficult. No one ever told me it was hard, so I just bought a cookbook and started making stuff. I use typical kitchen tools (plastic measuring cups and spoons, plastic mixing bowls and nylon spatulas, aluminum cookie sheets and muffin tins) and not anything fancy (no scales, no special utensils or bakeware) and I’ve never had a single thing turn out bad. If you can follow basic instructions, you can bake.

            1. fposte

              Then you must have a very happy household. I, however, have baked for decades and have things turn out bad. Professional chefs have things turn out bad, too. Cookbooks also often suck, with recipes that are poorly written or badly modified from restaurant-size amounts, so even if you just follow the directions you might end up with slop. (I think one of the benefits of experience is you’ve learned the signs of a bad recipe.)

              I’m not saying it’s insurmountable, but it’s like changing your car’s headlights, hand-coding a website, or making an article of clothing; they’re none of them particularly difficult, but you paradoxically have to know how to do them before you know how simple they are to do. Aside from the gender component, which is another discussion to me, I think it’s legit for novices to find these things too complicated to bother with even if they’re easy for the experienced.

              1. Alison Hendrix

                Yeah, it takes a little bit of trial and error to get the perfect product in baking. I usually start by-the-book, then when it comes out I note what future tweaks I would try, make it again, then tweak it again… Say I used all-purpose flour on something but I wanted it more airy and less though so I’d substitute part of it with cake flour, or lessen the all-purpose flour required.

                Taste-wise I typically just taste anything in between stages. I taste the batter, I taste the dough, tweak before baking.

                I end up doing some in-depth research too – one minute I’m looking at a soufflé recipe, the next thing I know I’m looking at five different recipes, and then a detailed website on how egg proteins and sugar work. So then now I know how or why something has eggs, and/or why I have to beat these eggs really good or why I had to add the sugar at this point… It’s the mad scientist in me :P

        3. Nina

          Very easily, in my case. I’m the opposite, stovetop/oven cooking is fine for me. But baking a cake/cookies/brownies, anything of that sort…it never turns out well. Even when I follow the directions, it either burns, or tastes like crap. When it comes to potlucks, I’ll buy something from the store before I try to bake it.

          The only sweet I can prepare well is fudge, and that’s because you make it on a stovetop.

        4. Marcela

          If you oven is like the ovens I grew up knowing all my life, baking is an adventure dominated by the random goddesses. Those ovens don’t have temperatures: they have a low, medium and high setting. That is all. In my mother’s place, we loved to make a very simple cake, but no matter how hard we tried, every time it was different. Now I have a great electric oven where I can set the temperature and the success rate has improved greatly, at least when I use the same ingredients. It’s just enough to change the brand of any ingredient to get slightly different results. I love baking, but I don’t think I can say it’s a consistent and easy art.

    3. jhhj

      Anyone who can’t pick up a box mix of cake or even the premade cookie dough stuff and come out the other side with perfectly edible baked goods is deliberately failing. If you have friends/family members who want to make food for your office party, sure, go ahead, but it’s really not that difficult to do yourself.

      1. Anyonymous

        Cake mixes are junk. I failed way more using cake mixes than just making things from scratch.

        Also, no, they’re not always deliberately failing. Some people just aren’t good at it. It’s like saying someone who can’t follow the directions of a sewing pattern are deliberately failing. Some folks just aren’t good at certain things, even with instructions.

        1. Biff

          This! I have very carefully written out store lists with BRANDS included for my partner when I’m not available to go to the store. Still, I get the wrong things. I have to conclude that it just doesn’t work. There’s no malfeasance on their part, really there isn’t. They just SUCK at going to the store.

          On the other hand, the vaguest suggestion of “please perform food prep so that I may cook later” always gets me perfectly chopped veggies and fruits squirreled away in the fridge in tupperware.

          1. the gold digger

            My husband and I had to have a long discussion about why the Aldi brand of dishwashing detergent was not the same as Dawn.

            Yes. I know Dawn costs more. That’s because Dawn is better. Aldi detergent does not get chicken grease out of a sweatshirt, not matter how many times you wash it.

            I learned this when I wore my husband’s favorite sweatshirt and spilled chicken grease on it. Do you know how expensive Dawn is at Walgreen’s? At Walgreen’s because the grocery stores were already closed. And because I wanted the sweatshirt to be clean before he got home, as we had had conversations about the wearing of his clothes, as in, he would prefer that I didn’t, even though I have pointed out to him that I do not care if he wears mine.

            1. Ad Astra

              My husband grew up with all-generic everything and it’s taken significant effort on my part to show him the value of spending more on brand names. Tide (the “sporty/active” kind) gets the stink out of his gym shorts and his mother’s store brand doesn’t. Cascade Platinum gets our dishes clean without us having to scrub anything and the Great Value powdery stuff doesn’t. Some things cost more because they’re better.

            2. Biff

              It’s not even the bargain shopper rearing its mighty head. I don’t know how to explain this.

              “I need Organic Valley Whipping Cream, dearheart.”

              Open bag: Tillamook Sour Cream.

              “Dearheart, what is this?”

              “It’s for soup, right?”

              “Well, it could be, but I wanted to make pie,” I explain.

              “Oh. But you LIKE Tillamook Sour Cream, right?”

              “Yes. I do.”

              “I found cookies, by the way.”

              “That’s great, dear.”

              1. Biff

                And, to be clear, this isn’t a “Man Thing” — my mother can go to the store with a list and come home with none of the right things. Bless her, but lists just aren’t her strong suit!

                1. Sarah

                  My (female) partner was pretty incapable of buying me baking things for years – no matter how carefully I’d write Cadbury’s Bournville only (that I know the shop sells) she’d come back with chocolate-flavoured cake topping or whatever. And self-raising flour instead of plain flour and so on :-/

        2. Nina

          Thank you. I can cook, but baking is another story. Why would you deliberately try to screw up something you’re spending your time on?

          1. jhhj

            It’s the “do it wrong so you don’t need to do it again” plan. People set themselves up to fail in lots of things all the time, consciously and unconsciously.

            1. Nina

              There are some things people can’t master regardless of practice. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, and it doesn’t mean they’re trying to fail, consciously or unconsciously. Just because it’s easy for you doesn’t mean it is for someone else.

        3. jhhj

          Some cake mixes are terrible, some aren’t. (I sometimes buy them on vacation, when I don’t have stuff for proper baking.) Most brownie mixes are fine, as brownies are less delicate than cakes.

          I’d argue that someone who can’t sew a pillow is deliberately failing, not someone who can’t sew pants. And using a brownie mix is much closer to the former than the latter.

          1. Biff

            Eurgh, I have to disagree. A pillow requires an invisible slip-stitch to finish or a zipper. I think a fairer comparison would be a pillowslip.

  21. I'm a Little Teapot

    For LW1, I’m surprised no one has asked: are you exempt or nonexempt? Because if you’re nonexempt, your boss would legally have to pay you for any hours worked while on vacation.

    Not that you should be working on your vacation, but it’s something else to consider.

      1. fposte

        We have a ton of part-time exempt around my university, so if the DOL changes go through we’re going to scramble. But if the OP is really 18 hours a week I’d be surprised if she’s paid enough to be legally exempt.

  22. TotesMaGoats

    #1-I wouldn’t sweat the baking. I would just scale back a bit on it. Maybe just around holidays. And instead of “my wife made these”, your husband could say “these are leftovers”. I send my hubby to work with desserts pretty regularly. He’s an EE and they love food. Now, I bake because I like to and when I get a chance but I don’t usually want to eat it. It’s satisfies the creative urge. And between work and kid and other obligations it’s not frequent. But I know his office would appreciate it even if it was every single week. It’s a know your culture thing.

    #2-First, enjoy your vacation. Second, find a new job when you get back.

  23. Allison

    #3, I don’t get it either. I’ve worked in recruitment for a few years now and it baffles me how often recruiters don’t bother to send rejection e-mails. It’s not hard! With the ATS system my company uses it’s an extra click or two, it’s really simple. We’ve all been in the position the candidate’s in, and I think we all know it’s better to get even a vague form letter with your name that says they’re not moving forward than total radio silence. If you’re worried about a lawsuit, write a template and run it by HR, and then use it! “Thank you for your application, but we’ve determined you’re not a fit for this job.” “Thanks for speaking with us, but we’ve decided not to move forward with your candidacy.” Some people might get mad, you might get an argumentative e-mail or two, but you don’t need to engage at that point – it’s their problem if they can’t take rejection.

    1. Judy

      Google tells me 9.3% of the US adult population has diabetes. I know many people who have gluten issues, food allergies, etc. Many folks don’t eat many sweets. Even the Cookie Monster is saying that a cookie is a sometimes food.

  24. Richard

    #3 – Where I’ve seen companies fail has been, in bigger companies, when the recruiter keeps hoping they can find something for a person and never actually gives up. The recruiters haven’t, in their mind, “rejected” the candidate, even if 3 hiring managers in a row have said “not a fit for my opening”, because there might still be a good opening out there. Which aggravates those of us actually doing the interviews, because from our point of view, we’ve already told the recruiter that the person is rejected – and we expect that they’ve done the right thing and told them about it.

  25. AE

    #1 in my office there are special events when home-baked goods are encouraged. At other times, people share goodies from their vacations. Otherwise, it’s a calorie overload and people who are trying to lose weight yet still be nice are torn. At the special events there’s a variety of foods so you can eat healthy without insulting the bakers. If it’s a steady stream of baked goods I would be one of the people forced to ignore it out of self-care, not as an insult.

    1. Sunflower

      This is how I feel. I’m the first one to indulge in a baked treat left in the kitchen but if it was ALWAYS in the kitchen, I would just not be able to touch it. Considering the office is small, it’s possible that there is always some of OP’s treats in the kitchen and at some point most people, even those who love baked treats or aren’t watching their weight, have to say no.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I’d have it once in a while and avoid it the rest of the time. I’ve turned down cupcakes before. But that damn cinnamon/sugar cake doughnut…..arrrghh.

  26. Allison

    #1, it’s certainly a nice gesture, but not everyone likes to snack on baked goods. I generally don’t eat sweet things except as “desert” after lunch or dinner. Some people in this office might be like me, preferring to snack on stuff that’s cheesy or salty rather than sweet, and others might be watching their weight or limiting their sugar intake.

    Either way, as you said OP, your baked good weren’t well received. You probably didn’t hurt your husband’s reputation at work and I wouldn’t worry too much about the implications of what you already did, but I wouldn’t keep baking for his coworkers. Maybe send leftovers, or bake something around the holidays, but don’t make this a regular thing. Even though the gesture is rewarding in theory, this is likely only going to make you feel frustrated if the stuff is always going uneaten and coming home stale.

  27. AE

    p.s. to #1 if you really want to be generous with your baking, donate pies to the local homeless shelter. The funds for food go to basic foods, not desserts, so they would appreciate it very much

    1. Anonicorn

      Awesome idea. I’d also like to add that your local fire and police stations are usually thrilled to get food from the community and it’s a great way to befriend the people who help protect you.

      1. Chinook

        ” I’d also like to add that your local fire and police stations are usually thrilled to get food from the community”

        I can’t speak for fire stations (but I am sure everyone loves them), put police stations may accept the food but they usually won’t eat it because they can’t tell the intentions of the baker and/or deliverer. This is the same reason DH won’t eat at certain restaurants in town or do delivery – you never know when the person handling your food lacks respect for law enforcement.

        1. Anonicorn

          I guess I ought to have added the disclaimer that I’m a fireman’s daughter and homemade treats were acceptable in a rural community throughout the 1980s-1990s. Police stations and current-day fire stations might indeed be completely different.

    2. anonanonanon

      Yes! There’s a local women’s shelter in my city that always asks for small donations for birthday celebrations for women or their kids. Their food budget mostly goes to produce and their other budgets go to toiletries and clothing essentials, so they like to accept donations for things like cupcakes or cards.

    3. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

      Please just call and check beforehand that they do accept them! I use to have to throw out excess food all the time because people would just drop it off even though we didn’t need it.

      1. the gold digger

        And the old folks home by us no longer accepts homemade goods – only storebought in the packaging.

        Once I am in an old folks home, I will be willing to take my chances on homemade stuff – most storebought stuff is not that good if you are used to baking your own goodies.

  28. Richard

    #2 – It’s really easy to suggest absolutes for those of us who don’t have to pay for them. Leave your job and find another one (sure, that’s easy), or take your laptop and do what they want (great, another ruined vacation). Tell them no – and risk that they find someone else who won’t say no. Or say yes, and then only return their emails at the start of every morning, deliberately slow rolling it so they understand that you’re not really on duty. You’ll have to live with the results, and I don’t know how many recruiters bother you on a daily basis, how employable you are, or whether you’d need to move to find a new job. I’ve lived through fearful, risk-adverse times where I would do anything to keep a job, and other times where I was pretty confident that I could walk away. Depending on where you are, that may make some of your choices for you. If you don’t like what you have to choose now, that may lead you to some long term planning.

    All of that aside – For a part time employee, if you end up deciding that keeping your job security means that you need to do what they want you to, I’d think they at least need to pay you for hours worked, and there are some other risks and implications to work through. Not to go crazy about, but to methodically think about and ensure that they aren’t problems. For example – In some states in the US, you would need to pay non-resident taxes for wages earned there if you work while on vacation. If your work has any potential legal problems, you want to ensure that you are on the clock during the time that you are doing that work (if I write something while on the clock that’s later the subject of a lawsuit, I’m responsible, and the company can disown me). If your work laptop is stolen while on personal travel, they may not be responsible.

    For me, I need to take international vacations (my job doesn’t allow me to take my work products out of the country on personal travel), camping trips, or run races, in order to be safely away from the office and the unreasonable expectations. No, I’m not going to edit your file while I’m hiking all night or crawling under barbed wire. Then again, I’m salaried.

    From the other side, as a manager, any time that someone going on vacation makes my stomach clench, it’s a reminder that I’ve done a job poorly by not having everyone have a backup. We talk about the “Lottery factor” or “bus factor” (the number of people who would need to be hit by a bus to bring work to a screeching halt). If there’s a “Bus factor” of 1, then we can’t afford someone leaving – that person needs a backup. If your manager hasn’t realized the problem and tried to fix it, then even though it’s not your responsibility, I’d suggest you try to work with other people and find a way to have someone else be your backup, possibly suggesting that you could back them up in return in the future when they want to take a real vacation.

      1. Lobster in Dixie

        Ditto! One (part-time) employee taking a week off (with such advance notice!) should never be a problem in any office, but it seems especially problematic to not have a backup for A/R, A/P, HR, payroll, and the like. Also, though I’ve worked in more medium-large sized offices, even the smallest one had two employees sharing finance/accounting duties. All of them REQUIRED the accounting staff to take at least a week off each year (and not at the same time) for checks and balances purposes.

  29. K

    #1: I occasionally bring in baked goods because I like to bake and shouldn’t eat a whole batch of cupcakes by myself. Once I baked a batch of sweet potato marshmallow cupcakes that *I* thought were delicious but only ~two people ate them. :/ So I ended up “having” to eat them all myself anyway.

    #4: “You’re absolutely right. I’m not your boss anymore, considering that you’re fired.”

    1. anonanonanon

      You can freeze cupcakes! Whenever I make baked goods, I always freeze half of it for later.

        1. B

          Thaw’s perfectly! Best to do a quick freeze of them individually and then you don’t have to worry about them getting smushed. I take a sheet pan, wrap it in saran wrap, and then you can put whatever you want (baked goods, fruit – strawberries, blueberries, cherries). I pop it in the freezer and then wrap it properly after it is frozen in a couple of hours.

        2. anonanonanon

          It does! I’ve frozen cakes with buttercream or cream cheese frosting and they thaw nicely! Same with cupcakes. With cupcakes, I usually place the frosted cupcakes upright on a pan in a freezer for about ten minutes to cool them down, then I wrap them individually in saran wrap and then tin foil.

          I would do a test run with a small batch to test it out, since it is hit or miss. Freezing unfrosted cupcakes is definitely easier, but frosted ones can be done!

              1. Colette

                Beats me.

                (It used to drive my mom nuts when she’d bake a batch of cookies, freeze them, and then go to the freezer to find an almost entirely empty container. Everyone in my family prefers them frozen. Except my mom, apparently.)

            1. Carpe Librarium

              Ummm… a significant portion of my cookies don’t even get BAKED before they get eaten.
              How do you know that one splodge of cookie dough that taste-tested okay wasn’t just an aberration or fluke? Extra tasti- I mean TESTing needs to be conducted.

              For science.

  30. Caryatis

    Re #1, I don’t agree that baking for distant acquaintances indicates kindness…it indicates a person with time on her hands! OP, if you had a job, all that time and energy could be spent on something useful, making money and achieving equality with your husband…instead of overwhelming people you barely know with unhealthy food.

    I know, you didn’t ask…

    1. some1

      This is unfair. Also, I’ve had coworkers (therefore they were making $ and had equality with their spouses) bringing in homemade food at every job I have worked at. Some people just really like to feed other people, whether they work outside the home or not.

    2. PontoonPirate

      That’s … certainly a perspective. Another perspective: this is the work she’s decided is useful to herself, her family and her universe. What’s it to you or me?

      A different perspective: All the time and energy you’re spending making uncalled-for jabs at internet strangers could be spent on something useful.

    3. Anyonymous

      That is gross.

      If she were baking just got her family, would you also say she needed a job? Because it really doesn’t take much time or effort to double a cookie recipe. You keep half for your family and send the other half out.

      1. Erin

        +1 on the doubling recipes easily.

        Building off that, my (stay-at-home mom) sister-in-law often bakes for special events in the family, like people’s birthdays or bridal showers. She’ll often do a trial run or two beforehand, and send that first batch to her husband’s office.

        Perfecting recipes for a loved one’s milestone – wow, what an inconsiderate, unuseful person with too much time on her hands.

    4. Erin

      1) We have no idea how much time she has on her hands. Maybe baking is the one pleasurable past time she allows herself to indulge in every day to keep her sanity while only being able to talk to children all day.

      2) We don’t know the dynamics of her financial situation, or her relationship with her husband. It’s none of our business and not pertinent to the question.

      3) We don’t know the details of the children. Maybe there’s 8 of them, maybe one is special needs, maybe she’s homeschooling. Maybe they just worked out that this is cheaper than her working and paying for daycare.

      If this comment is for real and you’re not just trolling for responses to entertain you, then this is sad. I hate that someone can take a lovely gesture like baking food for others and twist it into “overwhelming people you barely know with unhealthy food.”

      1. Emily Spinach

        Okay, I’m going to play devil’s advocate here: sometimes you are pretty well apprised of the domestic situation – as in you know your boss makes ten times as much as you and supports his wife in relative luxury. There can be a little jealousy that comes into play, right or wrong, along the lines of “must be nice” that could contribute to making the baked good things awkward – especially for the other women at the office who may be toiling away all day just to get by and who would never have time to bake themselves. Just sayin’.

        1. Anyonymous

          Well, dear lord, I hope no one ever brings in an expensive handbag or wears expensive shoes so that the “must be nice” crowd won’t get offended.

      2. A Definite Beta Guy

        I’m taking this as “facetious” because I retain faith in humanity. However, I think there may be coworkers who think like this. See comment from “AnotherAlison” below.

        1. Erin

          Fair points, both of you. I did see Another Allison’s comment below and agree with her as well. Unfortunately, people will find a way to get offended no matter what the intentions behind an act.

    5. Ad Astra

      Yeah, why is she wasting her time taking care of her children and managing a household when she could be doing something that ~matters~ like sitting in a cubicle.

    6. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m starting to starting to be more liberal in turning on moderation for unkind comments, FYI. So hopefully the minor increase in this in recent weeks will be taken care of pretty quickly.

    7. Marcela

      Well, if you can’t control yourself in front of baked goods, the “unhealthy” part is not in the food, but in your approach to it. There is no such thing as unhealthy food, unless you are eating plastic, paper or cyanide, which cannot be called food. It’s the amount and frequency that make that food “not good” for us. One portion of french fries is not going to damage to your health, and one brownie is not going to make you a diabetic. A diet made of only lettuces is not going to make you healthy either (in my case, besides incredibly sad). So much criticism about other person’s lifestyle and you have forgotten the very important principle of eating responsibly.

      1. AE

        Someone who is already a diabetic may have more trouble controlling their blood glucose after that one brownie

        1. Observer

          That doesn’t make that food unhealthy. It makes it a food that particular people cannot tolerate. Really, there are people with severe sensitivities to some of the most common foods. If we were to treat all of them as unhealthy, people wouldn’t be able to eat.

          And, if you do have severe food issues for any reason whatsoever, you need to be able to say “no”. Of course people shouldn’t push, but there is no evidence of that here.

  31. anonanonanon

    #1: I don’t eat things made by people I don’t know, and I know there are a lot of other people who feel the same way. You can make the most scrumptious looking cake, but who knows if your kitchen was clean or your hands were clean when making it? (I’m using you in general, not targeting you specifically OP1). I know there are quite a few companies, organizations, and schools that only allow wrapped/packaged food for parties or whatnot because homemade stuff could potentially cause health concerns.

    Also, in my case, I have weird digestion issues – one brand of chocolate chips is great, but another brand makes me crampy, and I’m not going to risk it, nor do I really want to ask someone what exactly is in the food they left out in the kitchen. Baked goods are usually the worst offenders, so I stay clear of them at work. Also, I’ve had more than one experience at work where someone brought in food that was awful – we had one person at my last company who always baked things that tasted like cardboard and she would go around to everyone’s desk with her baked goods, and people would take them and trash them as soon as she left because no one wanted to offend her by not taking them (she didn’t handle rejection well). It was awkward all around.

    You meant well OP1, but I’d probably stop baking for your husband’s coworkers. It can cause weird rifts in office culture. Unfortunately, some people DO feel offended by stuff like this – because there’s this tendency to assume that single/unmarried people don’t have “home cooked meals” and suddenly having them makes everything happier. (Again, not saying that’s the deal with these coworkers, but I’ve known people who get annoyed by this notion, so it can happen). I’d say stop for now, but if there’s a holiday party, bake something then.

  32. Erin

    #1 – My sister-in-law is *phenomenal* baker, I mean she could put any professional to shame. She too is a stay-at-home mom/housewife, and sends baked goods to her husband’s work. For awhile she pretty much had her own fan club there but then at some point they said, “It’s too much, I cannot each cheesecake every single day!” I think now she only bakes when it’s someone’s birthday. I believe she even takes requests through her husband on what to bake.

    Maybe that’s something you could try, if they do a mini celebration for birthdays in your husband’s office. If he feels comfortable taking the initiative, he could find out when everyone’s birthday is, ask their favorite dessert or baked goods, and pass the list onto you.

    #2 – Please give yourself permission to say no. Six months advanced notice is more than enough time for them to have prepared for your absence.

    1. anonanonanon

      I’d be careful about the birthday thing. Some people do not like celebrating their birthday at work or feeling obligated to eat something because someone made it specifically for them. I think it’s a good suggestion as long as the husband’s coworkers are okay with it.

      1. Erin

        Yeah, it would have to be a workplace norm thing if they celebrate birthdays at all.

        The husband could phrase it like, “You know how my wife loves to bake – let me know if you want me to bring anything in for your birthday next week. She’s always taking requests!” And then drop it.

        If birthdays are out, holidays are always safe!

  33. AnotherAlison

    #1. . .here’s another perspective, and maybe an odd one. Do the coworker’s wives work (assuming they aren’t single)? Is your husband senior to any of the other guys? There can sometimes be a weird dynamic if say your husband was the supervisor and the other guys are the worker bees. . .”Must be nice that Richard’s wife can stay home and bake all the time.” Or, they’re taking home treats to their wives and the wives are annoyed that you’re baking for their husbands. These are kind of left-field explanations, but I think there are many nice, normal things we do in life that you think there is no possible way someone could be offended by, and yet, someone is.

    1. A Definite Beta Guy

      You explained my thoughts better than I could. People often express resentment over seemingly ridiculous things, but that happens with gift-giving.

    2. SevenSixOne

      I worked for a boss whose stay-at-home wife brought goodies in for the team several times a month. I sincerely appreciated the gesture, so couldn’t figure out why I still felt annoyed that Boss’ Wife brought us treats… but looking back I think it was something along the “Hmph! Boss’ enormous salary means his wife doesn’t *have* to work! MUST BE NICE!” resentment you’re describing.

    3. Sarah

      Yeah, I was wondering something like this – if there’s some kind of conscious/unconscious thing about how the OP’s husband is presenting it that’s read as criticising working office wives, or the female employee, or something like that?

      Obviously this is one of a thousand interpretations, of course – however, personally I have a weird feeling just reading about a guy in my office bringing baking into work and telling me his wife baked it for us, without being asked – and I’m not sure why. But it’s all in the presentation – people who say “1/my partner was baking and made far too much, do you want them?” is very different to “my wife baked us cakes”.

      (I think it’s also because I would worry about not being seen to enjoy them enough, or not liking what they cooked. Someone can be a fantastic baker but I won’t like what they make because it’s too sweet. And I’d *definitely* worry about being judged for not eating it all. The weirdest thing in this whole letter is that the husband told the OP no one ate them – how did that come up in conversation anyway?)

      1. AnotherAlison

        That brings up another possibility . .perhaps the OP does not take hints well, and the “Nobody ate any of this” bit was just to get her to stop!

        There is a lot of weirdness potential. I always feel like I’m doing the walk of shame back from the vending machine just for getting a Snickers (we have a big wellness program). I don’t want to worry about if I’m taking too much or not enough of the home-baked goods. And I remember that time in 7th grade when our math team teacher made black walnut brownies and I didn’t know black walnuts were bitter, so I took one and sat there pretending to eat it for an hour. I don’t want to repeat that one.

        1. Brooke

          “I don’t want to worry about if I’m taking too much or not enough of the home-baked goods.”

          Of all the worries in life, I hope that this never counts as one of mine!

  34. MLT

    #3 It is unfortunate that some employers don’t get back to applicants, but in this case, it has only been a week since the job was offered. We always wait till we are confident that the new hire is committed to a start date before we contact other applicants. It’s sometimes 2-3 weeks.

    1. fposte

      Agreed; I don’t reject other candidates until my offer has been accepted, so I don’t think it’s out of line that the OP hasn’t heard even though an offer has been tended. If they don’t reject you later, though, then that’s crappy.

  35. VolunteerCoordinatorinNOVA

    For OP #1: When my aunt was in a hospice facility, they would bring around a dessert cart every afternoon for families/visitors. They mentioned that they always took baked good donations and my family who was there said it was really a nice treat and broke up the day which was often very challenging. Something to look into as a way to donate your baked goods to people who’d really enjoy them!

    1. the gold digger

      Excellent idea! The hospice where my dad was had something similar – volunteers would come in to bake cookies in the hospice kitchen. We were there for a week as my dad died – even slept there the last three days of his life – and having people bring food was so lovely. We were in a city far from our homes, without cars, not knowing where we could go out to eat and really, not wanting to take the time to go out. Having strangers come to us to bring food was wonderful.

  36. Editor who don't work off the clock

    I had a coworker whose wife liked to bake. She had her “specialty” dessert, which was delicious, and we always got excited when he would bring that over. However, everything other desert she tried to make was just not very good. So then we felt we had to fake enthusiasm for those out of politeness. Then she decided she was going to start her own baking side business. My (overly nice) boss felt obligated to purchase from her because we had gotten so many free treats from her in the past. What an awkward mess.

  37. Brooke

    I’ve only worked at one place that DIDN’T immediately descend like wolves upon baked goods, and that was at a small business where people were weirdly dysfunctional about food – severely calorie-averse – and I’m glad I’m not there anymore.

    1. Sarah

      I am grinning at all the answers about “don’t put me in the way of temptation” because I am exactly like that – no will-power around food, but then there was the person I temped alongside years ago who was always trying to demonstrate how healthy food can be delicious too, and would bring in stuff I’m sure she loved, but tasted like cardboard to most of us… and then tell us we only didn’t like it because we were too addicted to processed sugar etc to appreciate it…. Oh happy days making up excuses, because “of course you have have one, they’re super-healthy”…

      1. Brooke

        Ha!
        I’m trying to eat healthier and have poor self-control around food, but I’d never criticize someone for bringing delicious food in just because I have a hard time time staying away. Now, cardboard on the other hand….

  38. Pamela

    OP#2 here … Wow . As a college educated woman I just got a virtual reality slap . To clarify : I work 4-5 days a week based on business need – when business was slow & everyone was laid off I worked barely 15 hrs a week , when business is busy I work 30 hrs. I am THE sole office worker . My one benefit is that the hours are flexible & as a parent I appreciate that – however , I’m also flexible as an employee since there have been times the 20 hr avg I started with is never guaranteed . I get an hourly rate , no vaca , no sick time , no holiday pay – sometimes a holiday bonus but never guaranteed . When I say 5+ years it’s actually 8 total – only 2 raises that I had to repeatedly ask for . I appreciate everyone’s input & it has helped me to see : 1. They in fact have no clue what they will do when I leave (resumes already out ), . 2. They do not respect my time , 3. Things will never change , 4. This is NOT how it should be .
    If my family did not rely on the income I would already be gone . I have already reminded / warned them of the impending vacation , am tying up any loose ends , & putting a vacation notification on my email & phone .

  39. TheOTownHRGirl

    #3 is pretty ridiculous. Why don’t employers notify me of my rejection? Umm, because we’re not obligated to, and not doing so doesn’t necessarily mean we are rude or lazy.

    I manage a HR department that posts an average of 4-5 jobs every week. Each of those positions will get anywhere from 50-70 applicants, and from there we bring the top 5, maybe 6 candidates in for interviews. Long story short, there are usually 20 to 30 candidates that interview for a cycle of positions we post.

    In an ideal world, yes, I’d be able to promptly follow up with all 20/25 non-selected candidates, and everyone would know their status shortly after all the interviews had been conducted. In the real world of HR, I’m too busy putting out a variety of fires (payroll issues, FMLA paperwork, compensation analyses) to prioritize sending a rejection email to a candidate who may or may not read said email anyway.

    So OP #3- you are owed nothing after the interview. Following up to let you know you weren’t selected is a courtesy, not mandatory. Remember too, that employers never linger on candidates they are interested in. If it’s been more than a week, and you’ve heard nothing, best to move on.

Comments are closed.