my company is sticking us with part of the hotel cost on business trips, workload while boss is on maternity leave, and more

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

1. My company is sticking us with part of the hotel cost on business trips

My company wants to put a cap on how much employees can spend on hotel rooms during business-related travel. For example, if an employee books a hotel room for $250, they will have to pay the extra $50. Is this something they can do?

(Part of the reason hotel rooms are booked at higher prices is because there are layers of approval that have to happen before trips can happen, and by the time approval comes through, the time for cheaper rates has passed.)

What do you make of all this?

They can do that*, but they shouldn’t. But I wonder if they really realize what the impact of the new policy will be and that their cap won’t cover the cost of a reasonable hotel room under the conditions they give you — such as last-minute travel, delays on their end that cause higher prices, or expensive cities. A reasonable company would be receptive to you pointing that out and would agree that it’s not reasonable to ask employees to bear normal business travel costs — but you might need to  provide evidence to illustrate the problem (such as a print-out of prices for hotels in cities you travel to). They may not realize that their delay is causing an issue, so you should point that part of it out too.

* California is an exception; they do require that employers reimburse employees for all business expenses. But most states don’t have similar laws.

2. My workload will plummet while my boss is on maternity leave

I am an administrative assistant and support a very busy professional, Barbie. Barbie just informed me that she is pregnant and is due in late spring 2016. She explained that she is not yet ready to formally announce the pregnancy but had informed me so that we can make the necessary adjustments to her calendar (i.e. block of time for ultrasounds, not booking conferences/events next spring, etc.). I congratulated her and agreed not to mention this to anyone else.

During our discussion, she also alluded to her plans post-delivery. As we are in Canada, she is entitled to one year off, but due to the busy nature of her job she doesn’t think this is feasible (there is already a one-year wait for clients to get an appointment) and mentioned that she plans to take four or five months off with the baby and then plans to return to work on a part-time basis thereafter for several months, likely one day per week. I asked about the possibility of hiring a temporary replacement for her but, that is unlikely to happen as her position is very specialized and there is only a handful of people with similar training within a 150-kilometer radius and they are all currently employed.

I am quite concerned about what this means for me and my position. I am currently employed full-time but realize that while she is off, realistically, there will only be enough work to keep me busy 1-2 days per week at most. I really enjoy my job, get paid well, have full benefits, generous PTO, and a pension plan. Considering this, I do not want to quit and find a new job; however, I cannot afford to work part-time for six months or longer.

I have considered speaking with HR to see if there are any options available including getting prorated Unemployment for that time period but feel like I am violating Barbie’s trust by discussing this with someone else (who I know is not aware that she is pregnant yet). Can you please suggest the best possible way to broach this with Barbie to find out exactly what the plan for me will be once she is off? I do not want to seem like I only care about what her leave will mean for me when I realize she probably has a lot on her mind already, but I am concerned.

It’s perfectly reasonable for you to be thinking about what this will mean for you; it’s not selfish or self-absorbed or anything like that. Go back to Barbie and say this: “I’ve been thinking about what my work will look like while you’re on maternity leave, and realize that the amount of work for me to do will change significantly during that time. I’d like to talk with HR about what the options might be for me during that time, including possibly getting unemployment if they don’t think there will be work for me, but obviously I can’t do that without sharing your news. Would it be okay for me to talk with them in confidence, so that I can start getting a better idea of what my own plans will look like?”

(And actually, this is a smart thing to raise with her before talking to HR, pregnancy privacy issues aside. She may have thoughts on how to keep you occupied in your current role during that time, so it makes sense to bring it up with her first.)

3. How to negotiate a start date while closing on a new house

My husband and I are about a month away from closing on our first home, and we are very excited! A few days ago, a former professor of mine forwarded a job opening at a well-known local university that she thought would be a great fit for me. This position would have far more benefits than my current position, would make better use of my full skill set, and even if paid at their stated midpoint it would be $10,000 a year more than what I am currently making. Beyond those obvious enticements, I just haven’t felt like the management style here was a good fit and, though I had planned to wait until the end of the year, I had been strongly considering making a change. I happen to have a good friend who has colleagues in the department to which I’ve applied, and he has personally referred me as well.

Obviously there is no guarantee I will even get an invitation to interview, but to cover all of my bases I consulted my bank representative to see what the consequences could be if I changed jobs before closing on the mortgage. It would bring the process to a screeching halt until things got sorted out, and there’s no telling how long that would take. Though I assume based on your previous advice that I would only bring this up if I were to receive an offer, what is the most gracious and tactful way to negotiate putting off giving notice at my current job until we have closed on our mortgage?

If you’re closing in a month, I wouldn’t even worry about this. It’s highly, highly unlikely that they’re going to be at the offer stage four weeks after you apply, especially in academia, which is notorious for moving slowly and having regimented periods for each stage of their process. But if somehow it does turn out that you get an offer before your closing, it would be perfectly reasonable to explain that you need a couple of extra weeks. (And really, it’s likely that you wouldn’t need more than an additional week, if you calendar this all out. It’s not going to be a big deal if it comes up, which it almost certainly won’t.)

4. After making me a job offer, employer hasn’t gotten back to me to finalize salary and start date

I received a physical copy of my job offer three weeks ago. The next day, I emailed with several questions and my counter negotiation for salary. I received a thorough email the following day (a Friday) answering almost all of my questions but without finalizing the salary or the start date. I emailed back that day that this still sounded great and I’d be available to talk at x times to finalize salary and starting date. When I hadn’t heard back five days later (Wednesday), I emailed, again expressing my interest in the company, noting that I understand they are busy, and listing times I was available to talk. Two days after that, I received an email saying we could talk in four or five days (Tuesday or Wednesday). When I still hadn’t heard two or three days after that, I called that Friday – and the hiring manager said she was busy but would call me back in an hour. Unfortunately, she didn’t. It’s now 22 days after I received the initial offer, and I still haven’t heard anything. Am I being led on? Or is it possible that they really can’t just squeeze me into their busy schedule?

I know you’ve written not to check in too aggressively (which I hope I haven’t done already), but at the interview, the person I’d be working directly under (who is at a lower organizational level that the woman I’ve been emailing back and forth) gave me his business card. Should I call him, at least to find out if I need to be pursuing other options at this point? (I know you’ve also written that we shouldn’t stop applying, but since I had the physical job offer in hand, I thought it would be okay to stop, which I can see now was stupid.)

Well, it’s possible that you’re being led on (or rather, that they’ve moved on for some reason and are too rude to tell you). But it’s also possible that this just isn’t a high priority for the person managing this (especially since the position isn’t directly under her). I would try one more time to reach her — call her rather than emailing (since emailing hasn’t been successful thus far), and say that you’re “eager to iron out final details and set a start date.”

But if you don’t hear back, I’d assume that for some reason the offer is gone, at least for now. You can’t make them get in touch, and right now they’re not. It doesn’t mean that they won’t in the future, but it does mean that you can’t count on them, so you have to proceed as if the offer isn’t there.

I wouldn’t call the person who works under her; it risk it looking like you’re trying to move it out of her hands. And really, you don’t need him to tell you if you should be pursuing other options — you should be, simply because you don’t have a finalized, agreed-to offer yet. It may or may not come through, but right now you don’t have it, and that means you have to proceed as if you won’t.

5. Rejected for a job, then the hiring manager agreed to meet me for coffee

Recently, I was passed up for my dream job with a nonprofit. I made it to the final round (peer interview), after which the manager called me and mentioned that they were going to re-post the position because there’s concern that I’m not a fit for a fast-paced work environment. Recalling that specific interview, I focused too much on getting along with others, not so much on my skill set. I currently work in a fast-paced HR environment and thrive on it. Is this a lost cause? Should I give up completely on this job? I was so dumbfounded that I hardly said anything on the phone call with her.

Here’s the catch too: I emailed her a follow-up asking if she’d have time to grab coffee and discuss her experience switching industries while working in the HR field. She agreed, suggested we meet for coffee and I responded with some days/times that would work a few days back. She hasn’t gotten back to me yet. Is it correct to assume that should we get together this meeting needs to stay away from the job I missed out on completely?

Yes — she didn’t agree to a meeting to discuss the job; she agreed to discuss something very different, and it would feel like an bait and switch if you tried to sneak that in. Of course, if she brings it up herself, you can let the conversation develop organically, but you shouldn’t steer the conversation there yourself or you’re likely to look like your interest in her experience switching industries was just a cover story.

As for whether you have to give up on the job entirely, well … I do think you could have tried to make your case after that phone call telling you their concerns. But I think it’ll be hard to do it now that you have this coffee scheduled, because you’ve sort of moved the relationship to “post rejection” mode. I suppose you could try emailing her laying out the case for your candidacy after the coffee, but there’s a pretty high risk that it’ll make it look like your coffee invite was always a ruse. (That said, you could argue that you might as well take the risk since you don’t have a ton to lose at this point.)

{ 157 comments… read them below }

  1. Tim-Tim's Teapots Inc.

    4. Don’t take this the wrong way, letter writer, but how do you know that it was an actual, real, honest-to-goodness offer? Did they say that they wanted to offer you a job? Or did they kind of imply it without actually saying it? Either way, this is a good reminder to wait until you have an offer on paper before taking anything for granted.

    5. Think of it as an informational interview of sorts. If you weren’t the right fit for that organization, maybe the manager knows someone at another place where you might be a good fit. At Tim-Tim’s Teapots, we encourage our managerial staff to do that.

    1. Claire (Scotland)

      #4 starts by saying “I received a physical copy of my job offer three weeks ago”. I think it’s pretty clear they had an offer.

    2. CMT

      I know there’s a lot of devil’s advocate playing/”but what if this happened” in the comments, but the letter opens with “I received a physical copy of the job offer.” That doesn’t seem up for interpretation here.

        1. UKAnon

          I wonder if part of the confusion is because in your advice you include “simply because you don’t have a finalized, agreed-to offer yet” – although I agree that OP should keep looking, I also don’t think it was silly of them to assume that that was the final offer (assuming that whilst salary negotiations might be successful, they would also accept the job at the salary in the offer) and stop looking.

          1. Colette

            The issue is that the OP received an offer but didn’t accept it due to salary and start date concerns. An unaccepted offer is not final and not a reason to stop looking. (The OP may have intended to accept if she couldn’t negotiate a better deal, but the hiring manager doesn’t know that.)

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

              I never never never never want to discourage people from negotiating an offer, but when you don’t accept the initial terms, you’ve put the part where there is an offer back in play. They made an offer at X terms. If you don’t accept X terms, you’re negotiating the terms of a final offer, you don’t actually have one.

              I think it’s irresponsible and wrong for the employer to not come back quickly with a “yes, no or how about this”. We surely do that with a mind to keep to the commitment of our initial offer as a firm offer. I can see how in other hands, the negotiation might give an employer cold feet (if say, what was asked for was out of range of possible) and.or the hiring manager assumed the initial offer was rejected and there is no pending offer.

              Again! Wrong! But after 22 days, what Alison said.

              1. Letter writer #4

                The odd thing was that in the email they sent replying to my initial concerns, they addressed the fact that they couldn’t match my suggest counteroffer for salary, but there was still space to negotiate salary. I replied very soon after to their email, saying that was understandable and I’d appreciate the chance to talk about whatever salary negotiation they had space for in the budget.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

                  To be clear, I don’t think you did thing 1 wrong. That’s exactly how a negotiation would work on our end and we’d follow up and tie up quickly with a new offer, if we could reach agreement.

                  They just stopped, mid negotiation.

            2. Stranger than fiction

              It’s odd, though, that there was no start date whatsoever. What all did this offer have on it then?

        1. Lynn Whitehat

          That would be a weird thing to do in this context. In the OP’s shoes, I would expect to get a response back, “no, our initial offer is firm”.

    3. Letter writer #4

      In answer to #4-A week after the interview, they sent me the official paperwork outlining the offer of employment. I had the offer in writing-just not the fully finalized offer, unfortunately.

  2. Cambridge Comma

    #1, of course you shouldn’t be paying the hotel bills, but if the company don’t chnage their minds, could you book a room that is cancellable before going through the whole approval process?

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      I don’t understand what you mean about cancelling the room, it will still be needed when the employee travels. When the OP talks about the approvals process being long I think they mean they can’t book the too early enough to get the cheapest deals So the rooms cost more.

      1. LSP

        Ehh, I see what CC is saying. Although OP #1 only refers to trips that are eventually approved, maybe the OP can book rooms in the meantime, but it would have to be at a cheaper rate that allows her to cancel just in case the trip doesn’t get approved 12 weeks/30 steps down the line.

        My company used to have us book rooms with a major hotel chain and they would not charge our cards until we arrived. We could also cancel up to 24 hours in advance, but that was using government rates.

        1. Apollo Warbucks

          That makes more sense, I was thinking about the payment approval not the approval for the trip itself.

      1. DebbieDebbieDebbie

        I came to post this same recommendation. It is what I have had to do for federal travel. The one time I actually waited to reserve a room until I received approval, The only available hotel room was in a suburb that was a 20 minute cab ride from the meeting and I had to pay overage on the room. I have noticed that most hotels will allow cancellation up to 24hrs before stay begins however with some lower rate specials the property will specifically indicate no cancellation in exchange for a discount.

    2. TootsNYC

      Or, you book a room whose most expensive rate is still under the guidelines. That seems a no-brainer.
      And then you live with whatever inconvenience there is–you’re not in the same place as the conference, so you have to rent a car or expense taxi service; you don’t have as much downtime after or before the meetings, because you have to hustle out in order to have time to get to the offices you’re going to….

  3. Chocolate Teapot

    1. It assumes that all the locations where employees travel for business have hotels which cost the same. I know some European cities are cheaper for hotels than others and I presume the same is true in America?

    However, if your employer wants you to travel, then they should foot the bill.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger

      Absolutely hotels are different prices in different cities. I think government agencies take this into account when giving their employees a budget for travel (including adjusting the amount for meals also).

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        We used to have an auto-approval cap by city that used that government rate. It makes a lot of difference if you are looking in New York vs. Peoria.

        1. F.

          We do that, too. For government per diem rates in the USA, do an internet search on ‘GSA Per Diem 2015’. (2016 rates will take effect Oct. 1.) You can then look up the rate by state and city. We use this when we bid jobs where we know our field employees will need lodging, especially for an extended period of time. One caveat: I always then do a cursory search on motel rates in the area to be sure there are actually rooms available at the per diem rates. We work in a region where work crews in the shale industry will book an entire motel for the long term, so availability and rates may vary.

          1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

            That’s a really good point.

            I had an employee who was going to be on-site at a client’s office for almost two weeks and construction crews had everything booked. I ended up having to approve an expense bed & breakfast (who kindly negotiated their week-day rate, but wouldn’t come down on the Friday/Saturday nights).

            1. Still at the office

              I miss-read this (haven’t finished my coffee this morning) and pictured construction workers – in safety vests and hard hats – sipping tea in a flouncy Dolores Umbridge style B and B.

              1. F.

                I spit my coffee at the thought of a couple of our ‘rougher’ construction inspectors sipping tea from fine china with their pinkies sticking out! LOL!

          2. Green

            We do something similar, but we only have two caps which is a general cap and then an “expensive city” cap (LA, NYC, etc.) based on a list. We also allow people to stay at whatever hotel a conference/meeting is being held at (if it’s at a hotel) even if it exceeds the cap.

            However, if you get to pick your hotel, strictly speaking there is almost always SOME hotel nearby that’s less than $200 per night even if it’s not very convenient or that nice. (I wound up 30 minutes away in Maryland for my last work trip to DC during cherry blossom season.)

      2. doreen

        The do , but according to my memory ( and a quick look at the Federal reimbursement rates) , there are few places where the Federal government rates are over $200 ( possibly only in NYC itself and the Washington DC area).

        1. Cat

          But keep in mind that a lot of hotels offer discounted government rates, so it’s not always apples to apples that way as a comparison.

          I can attest that even with the government rate, it can sometimes be hard to find a sub-$200 hotel in D.C., though! God help you if you have a meeting scheduled during the Cherry Blossom Festival, especially if it doesn’t get scheduled until two weeks before.

          1. Afiendishingy

            Yup, when I worked for a hotel chain call center most of our locations had government employee rates for $75 while non-government rates could be considerably more. If your company sends employees to the same places frequently they may be able to negotiate a company rate with a hotel in those locations, though.

          2. doreen

            Actually, sometimes the government rate is not the cheapest rate . Hotels are more than happy to charge the government $115 for a room in a Travelodge in Albany that normally goes for $66.

    2. MK

      While that’s true, I must say I have never had difficulty finding a reasonable room in any European city for 180 euros or less (I imagine there might be exceptions, like trying to book one in the centre of London around Christmas only a week in advance). But, if the OP and her coworkers are really finding it difficult to book rooms for that price, they need to find and present the facts, as AAM suggested.

      1. Cambridge Comma

        EUR 180 is generous — except, for example, in Frankfurt during the Book Fair, no matter how far in advance you book. So if the OP’s travel involves frequently attending large conferences, that might complicate the matter.

      2. Cat

        I’m not sure that’s the right comparison, though, because while 180 euros is $200 right now, it’s usually more than that – the dollar is unusually strong compared to the euro right now (which is why Americans are all advising each other to travel to Europe this year).

        1. MK

          I wasn’t attemtping a comparison, which would be meaningless anyway, since the OP doesn’t mention international travel. What I meant was that 200 dollars per night to me sounds, generally speaking, a perfectly adequate sum to book a reasonable hotel. Of course, things might be different in America or in the specific cities (or times) the OP travels.

          1. fposte

            The other point is that you’re talking about the *price* of the room–the net room rate–but the OP has to ante up for the whole *cost* of the room–the room plus hotel and local taxes and mandatory fees (before we even get to tips, parking, internet, etc.). I just looked at a recent hotel bill from a small city and the mandatory adds to the bill were about 12% per night. There’s the room charge, then there’s state tax, occupancy tax, local marketing tax, transportation tax (don’t ask me), and tourism fee. So if $200 is her reimbursement limit, she’s probably functionally capped at $170 or so for actual room rate.

            (Now I want to go look up my Vegas and Chicago hotel bills to see what the taxes were there.)

            1. Cat

              Stuff like tips is a good point because I find there’s always random stuff like that I end up spending my own money on on business trips. Theoretically, I could try to do a receiptless reimbursement for that, but since my employer is really reasonable about things like not requiring me to find the cheapest possible hotel room, I’ve never bothered. But I think remembering that your employees are spending money on tips, bottles of water, newspapers, etc. that they wouldn’t be paying for if they were at home is a good argument for not being too strict about your reimbursement limits (unless you have to for government reasons or whatnot).

            2. MK

              Seriously? In every booking I ever made the price of the room included all taxes; service charges are included in the price. And every single hotel I stayed at in the last 18 months had free wi-fi. Parking is of course extra and hideously expensive, but that doesn’t always apply. Sometimes I feel the U.S. is a different planet.

              In any case, though, I don’t know if we can assume the OP meant the 200 dollars are supposed to cover everything; she says “book a hotel room for $X”.

              1. Cat

                Hotel websites will usually list the full price with taxes but booking sites might obscure that and makes things look cheaper than they are. But yeah, nice hotels in the U.S. often charge extra for wifi. Not sure that qualifies us as a “different planet” but okay.

                1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

                  I was trying to remember the last time my hotel room included Wi-Fi. Fortunately, the companies I’ve worked for have always allowed us to reimburse it as a business expense.

                2. Clever Name

                  Yep. I came across this just the other day. I almost pulled the trigger on a room until I realized that the price had magically gone up from the one advertised on the website. It conveniently didn’t list all the fees and taxes, so I had to find another hotel.

                  And ditto on the free wifi. Most mid-priced (Best Western, Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, etc) include free wifi. Upscale hotels typically do not.

                3. fposte

                  I think price without tax is standard; TripAdvisor does the asterisk thing and I think Expedia does too, and even on hotels’ own booking sites I’m seeing taxes mentioned in the margin, in an expansion tab, or in a footnote. Poor foreigners will get a shock!

              2. fposte

                Yup. Pain, isn’t it? Especially because the taxes and fees are utterly non-standardized.

                I *think* that my university bases the caps on total payout and not the room rate, but the manual for that comes up 404.

              3. Anna

                Every hotel I’ve stayed at has been hit or miss with Wi-Fi. It’s not a given. Atlanta, DC, Seattle, not one single time has the Wi-Fi been free.

                1. Tiffin

                  This summer, I stayed in a really nice hotel for work in Denver and the wifi was included. Last summer, I was in Seattle, and the hotel only had free wifi in the lobby. It was $25 per day in the room, but I think there was free wifi in the lobby.

            3. MK

              By the way, in my country at least, it is illegal to advertise the price of anything before taxes only; the entire amount that the customer will be called upon to pay must be quoted explicitly in the price tag/offer/etc, (though you can quote both the before- and after-tax sum).

              1. Artemesia

                One of the things I love about European travel is that the price you are quoted is the price you pay. In the US, hotel bills can grow by as much as a third with taxes and bogus fees (like ‘resort fees’ whether you use the spa or not)

              2. Ad Astra

                Huh, interesting. The only time I assume tax is factored in is when I’m buying alcoholic drinks at a bar/restaurant, or concessions at a sporting event. And, in states where they don’t tax things like groceries, you can take the advertised price at face value. But generally I just calculate 8-10% more whenever I see a price advertised. Hotels and plane tickets are the two biggies where you have to search for a final price because there are so many taxes and fees associated.

              3. Blurgle

                And in other countries it is strictly illegal to advertise the price after taxes. I think the reason is twofold: legislators want the consumer to know they are paying taxes and how much, and they want to prevent sneaky hoteliers, retailers, etc. from advertising the price inclusive of taxes, then adding sales tax on top of that to cheat tourists.

          2. Ad Astra

            It really depends. A standard room at the Holiday Inn in San Francisco (Civic Center) is $339, assuming you book today for Friday night. There are definitely situations where $200 would be sufficient, but it’s not surprising that the OP is finding it doesn’t quite cut it, especially on short notice.

    3. Meg Murry

      Is it possible that OP’s boss or boss’s boss can override the $200 cap with approval? For instance, my company had standard caps on hotels, flights and meals – for anything under the cap, my boss could approve the reimbursments. For anything over the cap (for instance, having to jump on a plane with less than 24 hours notice almost always resulted in going over the flight cap, and often the hotel cap as well), the expenses would show up as red in the automatic expense tracking system, and required being submitted up to someone at the director level for approval. There was also a checklist of “generally accepted reasons” why you would be able to go over the cap (for instance: staying at the conference hotel; staying at a hotel that provided meals where the room was less than the meals+hotel cap; staying at the same hotel as a customer or supplier). We usually ran these expenses past the director as soon as we found out about them, to make sure she would approve them, rather than wait until we got back though.

      I think OP needs to find out whether this is a firm cap (we do not reimburse more than $200 for a hotel or more than the GS per diem rate, period) or whether this is “your boss can approve up to the cap for reimbursement, but above that needs permission from one of the much higher ups, and a written explanation as to why it was neccessary to go over the cap.”

  4. TT

    #2 – read that first as “a busy professional barbie” and, despite being male, my hackles rose. That’s a poor choice of words; ‘Barbie’ probably isn’t going to respond well to even being named that as a pseudonym, it paints the picture of a vapid ignorant bimbo before I even read the article.

    1. MK

      Barbie has been short for Barbara long before the doll even existed. I think you are reading too much in the OP’s choise of pseudonym, especially since the woman isn’t described in those terms; if the OP was asking advice about an incompetent coworker the choise of name might have been an extra dig, but for a busy in-demand professional?

      Also, the whole point of pseudonyms in AAM posts is that the people concerned won’t recognise themselves, even if they happen to read the post.

          1. the gold digger

            That adds a whole new level of – not sure what the right word is – ick? – to the situation of the strangely smooth Ken.

            Next you’ll be telling me that there was something off about Nancy Drew’s bestie, George. And about Ned, Nancy’s eunuch-y boyfriend.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Barbie has long been a common nickname for Barbara and I don’t see anything in the letter indicating the OP is trying to insult her boss. (I don’t want us to get hung up on this, so hopefully we can move back on topic now!)

    3. Meredith

      Not to pile on, but I have a friend named Barbie who is nothing but professional at work. It’s a nickname for Barbara.

    4. Mpls

      I had the same reaction to the use of Barbie, honestly. Yes, it’s a nickname for Barbara, but…it’s got some pretty big associations with the doll and the color pink. That’s where my brain went first and I braced myself for some sort of diatribe against the boss. However, I didn’t read anything else in the letter than indicated the OP had an issue with her boss or the maternity leave, aside for them uncertainty in workload, that would indicate the nickname had been chosen with any sort of malice.

      1. Hiring Mgr

        Why? To me, gender roles and perceptions in the workplace are valid topics even if it strays from the question..

        Though if AAM asks twice to stop, we certainly should do so!

  5. Kathlynn

    Would it be okay for OP5 to ask if their other person’s impression matched their own for the interview?
    (something like this “If you don’t mind me asking, on reflection, I thought I spent too much time on [people skills], and not enough on [other skills], would you agree?” slipped into the conversation). If you feel comfortable. You could also ask via email, but that seems more awkward then asking it in conversation. I would take any opinions given to this/my comment with more weight, since communication isn’t my strong point. And I’ve only had 3 interviews, ever.

    1. Apollo Warbucks

      Personally I’d avoid asking for the reasons Alison mentions in her answer, it’s not that there is anything wrong with asking or wanting some feed back on how the interview went, it’s about the perception the OP might give by asking.

      1. Sara M

        I think if OP has stellar people & conversation skills, they could figure out a subtle way. But if they have any doubt in their skills, they should avoid it.

        In other words, I couldn’t suggest a way to ask it, because any opportunity would have to come gracefully from the conversation itself.

        1. Anna

          Yeah, definitely. If the person the OP is meeting with brings it up, that would probably be the only opening where it would be acceptable. Otherwise, it would be better to avoid it.

  6. Nobody

    #1 – I can’t tell if this is the situation, but a per diem allowance is a pretty standard arrangement for business travel. The employees make their own travel arrangements, and the employer pays a specific dollar amount for each day of travel. If an employee chooses to spend more than the per diem allowance, he or she has to pay for the difference out of pocket. On the flip side, though, if an employee chooses to spend less (say, by staying at a cheaper hotel), he or she can pocket the difference. It’s a lot easier for the employer than collecting receipts and reimbursing actual costs.

    Most companies that use a per diem allowance have different rates based on location such that you should be able to get reasonable accommodations without paying out of pocket. For example, there’s a higher allowance for NYC than for Buffalo. I can see how it may feel like they’re being cheap if they used to pay for whatever you spend, but I think it’s pretty reasonable for the employer to limit travel expenses. You might have to choose a cheaper hotel to stay under the limit, but the employer has no obligation to put you up at the nicest hotel in town.

    If, however, this is not the situation, and the employer is setting a $200 limit on hotel rooms, period, regardless of the location, that is kind of unreasonable, because hotel prices vary so much by location. If that’s what they’re doing, it might help to point them towards the General Services Administration’s per diem rates to show that where you’re going is more expensive than their cap.

    1. MK

      I do wonder if the employer changed the policy as a result of some people booking needlessly expensive accomodation

      1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

        We used to use the governments travel rates as a baseline, so if Chicago was $180/night an employee knew they could comfortable book and reimburse their room.

        If something was going on and they couldn’t get anything for that rate, a manager had to approve.

        I had an employee who was used to the previous manger just signing off on rooms that were $20-$50 above the city’s standard rate that got very upset when I state question her hotel choice and asking her to just check if there was another reasonable option (similar distance, similar star designation).

        It came to light that she was booking with a particular hotel to get points/rewards, rather than looking at rates.

        All this to say, I can see how a company could get frustrated and set a blanket policy.

        1. Cat

          I don’t know, if I had to travel a lot for work I would be kind of annoyed if the company was prioritizing saving $20 over me being in a preferred chain (always booking in one chain is common practice among all the consulting folks I know). You expect that when you go into government but less so in the private sector.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

            The employee traveled once per quarter. If an employee was within the rate designation for the city, they could book would ever they like, regardless of whether there was a cheaper option (at least in my opinion, my boss was a former road-warrior and would balk when someone chose the more expensive option).

            The problem was this employee was choosing to go above the designated rate for the city and asking me to sign-off on something that was a special allowance around company policy.

            I know if may not seem like much, but 4x $20 overage, was the equivalent of two local professional development trainings for her or her teammates or at the higher end 4x $50 is conference fees for someone to attend our field’s conference. I had a set budget, so hotel overages had to come from some other line item.

          2. MK

            I don’t think it’s a private company would be delighted to spend more money than they needed to, so that the employee would stay in a hotel they prefered or get loyalty rewards. And as with any repeated expense, it’s disingenious to say “it’s only 20 dollars”, since it can add up to a considerable sum.

            1. Cat

              I understand NtDyLF’s point about their budgets, so I’m not arguing that particular case but . . . in the places I’ve worked that weren’t in the government, $20 was not a significant sum for an employee traveling on business and I have never been questioned over that amount. (But by contrast to NtDyLF’s field, conference fees in my field are closer to $800 – $20 on a hotel room is not really determinative.)

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                It was a regional one-day conference, but it was my $200 example :)

                My problem with it had less to do with the cost (in one of my comments upthread I talked about a time I had a to approve a rather expense B&B stay for an employee), and how from experience it’s easy for one person to cause a policy to like this to exist.

                The problem in this situation was this employee looked at a company policy that said $XXX is the rate for a room in this city, ignored the fact that there were good, close hotels that met this threshold and then decided to go with something that was $XXX + $20-$50 to get her points. And then she got upset because I wouldn’t approve it for her. If everyone else (most of whom travel significantly more than she does) can find a way to follow policy, why should I grant her an exception, even if I had budget?

                1. Cat

                  I understand. Just that (a) a lot of policies are pretty much ignored in practice, so I understand why your employee thought this might be one of them since her other boss always approved them and (b) when setting the policy, I think companies that do have the budget and regulatory leeway to be generous on this stuff should take it.

                2. Not the Droid You are Looking For

                  You’ve hit the nail on the head :) The division was transitioning from old management that was really flexible (if not down-right haphazard) when it came to following policy, to new management who came from a group that lived by that policy.

                  We had special training on the travel and reimbursement policies in part because we moved to electronic system and also to clearly state that the expectation was the division would now follow the rules.

      2. Artemesia

        If the employer insists on business travel and won’t reimburse then they need to do the booking and find places that work. It is one thing when a person is going to a conference that is somewhat optional — but straight business travel should be reimbursed fully.

        1. Not the Droid You are Looking For

          When I traveled for work I used to prefer to do my own booking because I was usually more familiar with the city/client’s area than the purchasing team. For example, I might book a hotel in Chicago that’s a little bit further out but on an El line.

          Our policy was pretty straightforward and had wiggle room (unlike the OPs weird cap), so it was easy to look up the area rate do a quick search and find my own place.

          1. Anna

            The company I work for is a land mine as far as what you can and can’t spend, how you can spend it, etc, so I gladly hand over all the booking stuff to someone else. They cut me a check for food/taxi per diem and I don’t have to provide receipts.

    2. San

      Per diems for food and incidentals are common. I haven’t heard of many covering hotels. Larger places tend to have preferred suppliers, travel portals, etc…. That provide the in policy hotels. Most large companies don’t allow employees to freelance travel as it makes getting volume discounts impossible and wastes their time trying to save 10.

      1. BRR

        I’ve also never heard of a per diem for hotels (not that that means much). But a key thing is, the higher costs are due to the company’s policy. It’s pretty crappy for a company to say “You need to pay anything of $X for a hotel but we also have rules which end up preventing you from booking a hotel early.”

    3. Cambridge Comma

      I didn’t have the impression that the OP was complaining about having to take a cheaper hotel. It sounded more like by the time he or she is able to book, there might be nothing left below the price cap at all.

      1. Ad Astra

        That was my impression to. The problem isn’t that there’s a cap. The problem is that the cap is frequently too low and is forcing employees to finance some of their own business travel, which is pretty rotten. If the cap is actually $200, I’m not surprised that the OP is having difficulty booking a room on short notice without spending more than that. I wonder, does this company also set some kind of cap on plane tickets?

        If I were making the policy, I might consider setting a standard star-rating for reimbursable hotel rooms, so I’d be saving money when we booked a 3-star in Dubuque but still spending whatever’s necessary when we booked a 3-star in San Francisco. But I guess there’s a reason companies don’t do it that way.

        1. mskyle

          I like the star-rating idea, because it doesn’t really make sense to spend the full $200 on a fancy hotel in an inexpensive city, and you’re incentivizing that behavior if you’ll pay anything up to $200… I mean, I know some places where I would barely be able to get an acceptable hotel room for $200 (including the city I live in) and others where you can live high on the hog for that kind of money (especially if there’s any kind of off-season). There would still probably need to be some kind of override approval process, though.

          Also, we don’t know a lot about the nature of the work, but if it’s a situation where people have territories, it penalizes the people with expensive territories, which sucks!

  7. DebbieDebbieDebbie

    #2 Could you go to Barbie with some suggestions of valuable work you can do while she is on Mat leave? Would regularly keeping in touch with clients during her leave be helpful in retaining them? Is there a project she could have you complete that would streamline your current process and make her return smoother? Perhaps she already has something in mind but if not, you each have some time to plan.

    1. OP#2

      Unfortunately, my keeping in regular touch with the clients while she is off is not possible. I simply schedule them in for appointments with Barbie and do not give advice/direction during the calls. During other shorter absences (vacation, etc.) I have simply advised them that she is out of the office and when her return date is. I will consider other projects but, due to the nature of the job most things are time sensitive so most work needs to be handled as it comes in and there is not a backlog of duties.

      1. Chinook

        OP #2, do you know if there will be anyone at your level in the company who also might be going on mat. leave that you could cover? Or would the company see using you as a “floater” for the time when you are not as busy? The reality is that they still may want someone to cover Barbie’s calls but they may be able to put you to use doing other work that they previously didn’t have the manpower for and, since you won’t be adding to their budget, they may be willing to use you that way.

      2. Artemesia

        Since this impacts you, definitely discuss it asap with Barb; it would be inconsiderate of her not to have thought of this and to leave her assistant hanging out to dry. Either she should have broached a part time option or she should have thought about other ways your talents can be used by the organization during her absence. Perhaps she has actually thought of something or this would prompt her to do so. I would hope that the organization could use your talents.

      3. Tiffin

        If someone is covering her work, can you assist them while she’s out? If not, could you keep in touch with clients to compile lists of things that they want addressed when she gets back? Having an organized list would probably help save your boss’ sanity.

    2. Graciosa

      Agreed – this is a great opportunity to tackle major projects for which the OP never has time – or expand her skill set with new work – or improve her connections within the company by rotating around helping out other departments – or taking on additional work covering some items for her absent boss (assistants generally know a lot more than most people realize!).

      My mind did not go immediately to absent boss = no work. My mind went to absent boss = *opportunity*!

  8. Aussie Teacher

    #2. Oh my goodness, I was just coming here to post in shock about Barbie’s impossibly long pregnancy (since it’s only early spring now) and then I realized I’m on the other side of the world… oops!

    1. Cassie-O

      Late Spring 2016 is still very far away, though! It sounds like the boss is still in the first trimester.

      OP #2 – I would NOT ask if you can speak to HR “in confidence” right now, as Alison suggests! Your boss has the claim to her own pregnancy news and it would be obtuse to ask if you can share it with HR. You have to wait until she is in the second trimester before you can even THINK about asking her this. (Unless she has already shared the news herself.)

      1. attornaut

        And really, waiting until halfway through the pregnancy still gives 4-5 months to handle the situation, deal with other work, find a temporary job somewhere else, etc. That’s not unreasonable notice and considerably more than OP would be getting if it were any less predictable of an event, like a sudden illness or new job offer.

      2. LBK

        Well, that’s why you ask her first rather than going straight to HR. I don’t think a reasonable person is going to be affronted if you just ask if you can share the news (especially with HR, who will probably be required to know eventually anyway). Worst that happens is she says no.

  9. Workfromhome

    1. I agree with the advice to provide some documentation and see if a reasonable employer will take it into account. But there is also a chance given what sounds like an unreasonable approval policy that they won’t be “reasonable”.

    If the policy is a firm $200 or you pay the difference and they are requiring travel to an even when there is no hotel within a reachable distance for under $300 it might be legal (I’m not a lawyer) but its ridiculously unreasonable. This is not a commuting expense where you choose to live far from your office. They are essentially requiring you to PAY to work. Not reasonable. These kind sill policies are not uncommon. We were required to book hotels only through the travel website (they got bulk rebates etc). The limit was 150. If you went through the website and booked a $200 hotel you would get flagged on your expenses. If you booked a 150 hotel outside the website you’d get flagged for not using the website.

    You may need to force them to make a decision :I’m sorry but I cannot afford to pay $50 per night from my own pocket for the available hotels for this conference. Would you prefer I not attend the conference or would you prefer to pay the additional cost on an exception basis. Please let me know so we don’t incur cancellation charges.

    1. fposte

      Is now when I talk about academics :-)? It’s pretty common to have a small individual travel budget for the year–essentially a per annum (including transport as well as hotels and meals) rather than a per diem–that wouldn’t be near enough to cover the kind of travel you’d be expected to do. However, you’re supposed to be creating your own funding via grants or extradepartmental travel funding. If you can’t, nobody’s going to fire you for not going to a specific annual Teapot Science Convention, but it’s going to be a big problem for your profile and advancement if you don’t make it to more stuff than your per annum would cover.

  10. KT

    #2: I’m assuming that your boss’ work will still have to get done while she’s on leave–it can’t just disappear. if they don’t hire someone to temp for her, likely they’ll name one person as an interim (or spread her duties across 3 or 4 people) which you’ll then be an invaluable resource for.

    It’s absolutely worth a conversation with your boss and HR as suggested, but I wouldn’t panic about your job just yet. You’ll still be a necessary player.

    1. SherryD

      I think the OP is saying that her boss’ position almost certainly won’t be filled when she’s on mat leave. It sounds like the boss is a specialist who takes appointments, and there simply won’t be any appointments scheduled while she’s on leave.

      1. Meg Murry

        Yes, this is what I was thinking as well. For instance, if the boss is a medical professional, OP can’t fill in for her, and if there are no appointments to schedule or patient charts to update, there won’t be enough work for OP to do.

        I imagine if the boss is due in late spring but hasn’t told anyone but OP yet, her plans may be really unclear as of right now, and she will go “official” in the next month or two. I think it’s worth OP asking her boss if they can have a chat and discuss what the boss is thinking will happen to OP’s position while the boss is on leave, before OP goes straight to HR, as I mentioned below.

    2. Meg Murry

      Or depending on the size of the company, you might be called upon to act as an admin in a different department – possibly to cover another vacancy (due to an assistant taking maternity leave, or to cover a vacant position until they hire a full time replacement). Or maybe you could move in to a job share with someone who wants to go part time. Or they could move you to some kind of position where you floated and handled vacation coverage in various offices. Is there a precedent at your company? Has anyone else with a dedicated admin assistant gone on leave, and what did that admin do? Once your boss has gone public with her announcement, can you talk to any other admins who’s bosses have taken leave and find out whether they went part time by choice, were forced to go part time, or how it was handled?

      Can you start a list of all the projects you would like to do if you had the time? For instance:
      -Scanning and digitizing older paper records
      -Making documentation for the work you do, so if anyone ever had to fill in for you there would be a manual
      -Making templates and standardized documentation for letters you create, etc
      -Creating or updating a webpage for your department

      I worked for a company that had a terrible official policy on the books – if you couldn’t work your assigned job due to pregnancy or other medical restrictions and went to HR, you were told to take unpaid time off – they wouldn’t switch you to light duty or find something else for you to do. However, most bosses knew this was a terrible policy and drove away otherwise good employees, and if the employee and the boss approached HR with a “here is the situation, and here is the plan for what we are going to do, and here is all the light duty work we can have the employee do”, HR usually approved it. So rather than going to HR and saying “baaah! help! I don’t know what’s going to happen to me!”, it is best if you and your boss (and possibly her boss or another department head) go to HR and say “here is the situation, and here is our proposal” you will be more likely to find a solution that makes everyone happy.

      I know you mentioned you don’t want to leave your current job, but if another position opens up at your company similar to what you do now, and you and your boss haven’t come up with a plan to keep you working when she is out, I think it would probably be in your best interest to apply – that way, you can keep your seniority and benefits, and move to a more stable position.

      Last, you can’t speculate too much on what will happen. If there is already a one year wait for appointments, and your boss takes half a year off and then only comes back for 1 day per week, that could make the waiting list almost 2 years, which seems insane for any kind of appointment. Maybe your company will decide that they need to hire a second person to fill this role, and will recruit someone to fill that – it sounds like there would be enough work for 2 people, even once your boss comes back.

      1. OP#2

        Thank you, these are all things I will need to consider and I appreciate your advice.

        I may be able to work as an admin for another department but, due to certain union rules I would need to apply for this position and then interview etc. before I could move even internally and this process can take a long time.

        I will speak with Barbie and hopefully between the two of us we can come up with a solution.

        I agree the wait list is incredibly long and she most certainly needs the extra help but, I believe they have been recruiting for someone for the last year or so without success.

        1. Meg Murry

          If you have a union, you probably also want to talk to your union rep – I would say after talking to your boss but before HR. This kind of situation may be covered in the union contract, giving you priority for open positions, etc.

    3. Ad Astra

      I’m wondering if the OP’s boss is some kind of doctor or therapist or some other job that’s too specialized to for someone else to do. If the services she provides are something the client can do without for 5 or 6 months, it may not be necessary to cover most of her duties. It’s just really hard to say without knowing the nature of the boss’s work.

      But I do agree that it’s worth a conversation. Surely there’s some kind of backlog the OP could work on, or a project she could focus on or something.

  11. plain_jane

    #2 – if you’re currently full time with benefits, I don’t think you need to suggest to HR that you’re willing to be laid off for several months until your boss comes back. If you/they _do_ suggest it, make sure that you’re not losing any seniority in the interim. Also, I think you’re overestimating what you’d get from unemployment insurance if you think that is an option, but wouldn’t be able to survive on just part time.

    Companies are used to dealing with people taking maternity leave. I think you need to trust that they can find you work to do – even if that work isn’t quite as good as what you’re doing right now.

    1. OP#2

      Oh I was definitely not planning to suggest being laid off. I know from previous experience that others in my position have been essentially forced to take a leave of absence while their boss has been in a similar situation so that is why I figure it will likely happen to me now. If there is anything I can do to avoid that happening I certainly would like to.

      1. Beth

        Is it possible that other staff at your organisation are taking on her patients/clients? If that’s the usual practice there may also be a usual plan for you to support the people who are taking on the patients/clients.
        I can’t speak to everywhere in Canada but in the provinces where I’ve worked most large orgs are used to accommodating mat leaves and I have not yet seen someone on mat/pat leave laying off their support staff.

        Also, don’t forget you are likely eligible for EI if you do need to be off without pay while your boss is gone.

  12. Anonicorn

    #2 – I don’t know the situation so this might be a crazy suggestion but… Would it be possible for you to fill in for your boss, or at least cover some of her work? She would potentially have time to train you for before she goes on leave.

    1. Cassie-O

      From the OP’s comments here, it’s not possible for her to fill in for her boss, as her boss is in a very specialized field/role.

      However, in the appropriate context, filling in for someone on maternity leave is a great way to gain new skills and get promoted! It worked like a charm for me when I volunteered to fill in for my coworker on her maternity leave.

  13. Jerzy

    OP1 – You could suggest to your company that they go by the GSA standards for reimbursement, which take into account the city you’re staying in and the time of year to come to a reasonable rate for what a hotel room and meals should cost. I’ve been able to travel to Washington, D.C. and stay at a nice hotel within the GSA rates, with nothing coming out of pocket.

  14. TotesMaGoats

    #2-I’d say you are making a big assumption that you won’t have enough work and your very first step is to talk to your boss. She may have plans already in place for you to pick up the slack in other areas or projects she’s put off because you didn’t have the bandwidth to complete them when she was there FT. Who knows? Don’t jump to worst first thinking. If your workload is lighter maybe this is an opportunity for you to get some professional development opportunities that you couldn’t normally get…on the company dime.

    1. OP#2

      Good advice. You are right, I am probably jumping to the worst thinking when I shouldn’t be. I will speak with her and see what her plans are. Professional development is an excellent idea and something I will look into discussing this with her.

  15. LQ

    #2 If you work for a place that is big enough (and in Canada enough) that they deal with this often I bet they have a usual strategy. They have you fill in for other people while your boss is gone, they find other work for you to do for those months. I would be kind of surprised if layoff was the thing they jumped to. I think talking to your boss first is a great thing because she might already know what happens. I know that a lot of great bosses would already have a good plan because they wouldn’t want to let a good employee go, even if that means you might be doing funny work for a little while.

  16. mskyle

    OP #2, here’s hoping there’s an admin somewhere else in the organization who is right now telling her boss that she’s pregnant and is planning on taking mat leave next spring… that would be the perfect solution!

  17. Retail Lifer

    For #4, how normal is it to negotiate AFTER you’ve received an offer letter? I know retail often works differently than other industries, but any time I’ve received a written offer it was after the job was verbally accepted and after salary was already discussed. I don’t think the company is handling this in a professional manner, but perhaps they were put off by negotiating after-the-fact.

    1. Christian Troy

      It really depends on the company. I’ve had jobs that don’t do written offers whatsoever, the only time anything is written out when you have to actually sign a contract.

    2. TCO

      In the past three jobs I’ve negotiated, one gave me the offer letter before negotiation (and I successfully raised the pay) and two gave me letters after negotiation was final.

    3. Judy

      That is one thing I was wondering about. Any of my negotiations have happened during the verbal offer stage and before a written offer.

    4. VintageLydia USA

      I know in my husband’s industry, he’s always gotten an offer letter on the first offer. It isn’t the first time they talked salary, but it’s the first time he usually gets a good look at the other benefits. He negotiates from there. He’s also never been made to wait longer 2 or 3 business days before things are hashed out entirely, however.

    5. Sunflower

      I received an offer letter minutes after I received a verbal offer and told HR I needed to look at benefits/think it over. The way my company works is the offer leter goes out as soon as an offer is made along with the entire new hire/benefits package. Anyting I neogicated was revised and then I accepted the offer online through their system.

    6. LBK

      I think there are usually enough details included in an offer letter that it’s not unusual to want to see everything before you even start to negotiate, not just hear the base salary (because your target might shift depending on benefits, bonus structure, etc. that you probably wouldn’t know just from the verbal offer).

  18. Case of the Mondays

    I know we have discussed a lot on here the burden it places on employees when they have to pre-pay their travel expenses and then get reimbursed. Without rehashing that whole discussion, I just want to add one more thing to consider and possibly discuss with your employer before the situation arises. What if you have to cancel your travel due to a personal emergency? This just happened to us w/ my husband’s travel. Luckily, the hotel was sympathetic and refunded in full. The airfare was Southwest so we got credit towards a future flight. We are traveling for a vacation in March anyway so now we will just fly them. However, if our finances depended on getting that money reimbursed this month, we would be SOL. There will be no reimbursement. It was $350. His employer is at least eating the conference fee they are out.

    I also can’t complain much because they were very sympathetic about his need to cancel and didn’t try to pressure him to go anyway. (My grandmother had passed away and the services were scheduled while he was to be away. Spouse’s grandparent isn’t usually covered on most bereavement leave policies but they were totally fine with him taking the time off and missing the trip.) If it was a different airline we would have tried to press getting reimbursed but I can’t say it would have happened.

    1. fposte

      Oh, interesting point. I’m pretty sure my employer doesn’t reimburse me for cancelled travel (taxpayers would take a dim view of that), but would they claw back anything they’d paid for that I had to cancel?

  19. Christian Troy

    #4 – I think I would let it go. I understand people get busy, but what would happen if you didn’t follow up with them every time their determined deadlines would pass? Would they even notice or care? I don’t know, I could understand it happening maybe once or twice, but it seems like consistently you’re the one trying to resolve this and it’s just not a priority .

  20. Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy

    #2: I just want to back up Alison’s suggestion that yes, it’s totally appropriate and a real good idea for you to talk to your boss about how your job will be affected by her taking time off. I sense that maybe you don’t want to add to the big pile of things she’s already trying to sort out with respect to her pregnancy, but – your job arguably needs to be in that pile of things. So don’t be shy. Alison provided a really good script to get things rolling – go for it! And good luck with this!

  21. M from NY

    OP#2
    It’s not a good idea to be so tied to one job or position/person to your own detriment. If your boss decides to take a full leave or stay at home for longer you will have lost time you could have spent looking for new job & continuing your own benefits. Time is an asset that too many don’t quantify. Her choices shouldn’t supercede your own personal goals whatever they may be. At any moment she can change her trajectory in a way that doesn’t include you. As you utilize the advice given here think about what’s best for you whether or not it’s tied to this particular position.

      1. LBK

        Agreed – particularly for an executive admin, usually the whole reason the role exists is to support one person and there’s not much time or opportunity to branch out. Assuming you don’t want to move out of admin work, I don’t know how you’d ever escape that.

  22. Dude

    OP2, I know you said that to your knowledge, your org has been trying to hire another person with Barbie’s skills for some time, but that might not necessarily mean there isn’t someone for a mat leave coverage. I could be assuming wrong, but I’m guessing that this is a healthcare or related profession, and I have seen in trade publications people who advertise themselves for just such temp positions (“available for locums.”) Not sure why they want that, but that’s apparently what some people want.

    In any case, if your org is big enough for an HR dept, my guess is that similar work will be found for you within the organization if Barbie’s role remains vacant while she is away.

  23. Oui

    Ha ha #1….so funny that the State of California requires businesses to do this when more than a few of my colleagues working here for the state (of California) have had to eat any hotel costs above the ‘state rate.’ It takes forever to get approved and by the time you do, state rate rooms are all gone and it also takes forever to get an excess lodging request processed. I guess it’s a case of do as I say, not as I do….

  24. EW

    For #2: Why not start by seeing if there’s other work the company can shift you to when your current workload is smaller? You could ask this to your boss and also to HR.

    If that doesn’t work out, then it’s a good idea to ask about unemployment. Specifically, ask about the possibility of “jobsharing,” also called “worksharing” – a specific type of UI designed for situations like this where you’re not completely losing the job but rather losing part of it or part of your hours. It’s not commonly used so your employer might not know of it offhand, but if you ask they could look into it. Specific rules vary by state, and the Department of Labor regulates it. Good luck!

  25. Tara

    Question 3… If you were to get said offer prior to closing on your new home don’t actually start until you’ve closed and funded. Many lenders now verify employment on the day of or just before closing because you are supposed to have a pretty stable job history ( same field same company for 2 years)

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