employee wants to retract his resignation, stolen break room supplies, and more

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

1. Employee wants to retract his resignation — but we don’t want him to

We have an employee who resigned by email two weeks ago. He sent the email to our office manager, the head of HR, one of the VP’s, and the president of the company. Our office manager did not get it because the employee sent it to the wrong address, but everyone else got it. Fast forward to last week, when the employee told us that he wants to stay. (Evidently he had a job lined up but it “fell through.” In this business, that usually means they failed the drug test.) Well, there have been talks all week between project managers and the office manager who is on vacation, as well as corporate. Today I was told to call him to come in tomorrow (they work a four-day week) and terminate him. So, how do you terminate in this situation?

It’s not a termination — it’s simply telling him that you’re choosing to let the original resignation to stand and are declining to take him back. That makes sense to do if you weren’t too upset (or were outright relieved) that he was leaving and you want the chance to hire someone stronger (or if you’ve already promised the role to someone else and don’t think he’s strong enough that you want to find another slot for him). It doesn’t make sense to do if it’s solely on principle.

But assuming it’s the former, I’d say something like this: “At this point, we’ve already begun taking action on your resignation and don’t think that it makes sense to change course. We’d like to keep your last date as (date), as you originally suggested.”

Ideally, you’d also explain your reasoning — such as that you’re heavily into talks with other candidates or changing course with the position, or that you had performance concerns that make you hesitant to renew the employment agreement, or whatever the reason is.

2. People are stealing our break room supplies

I stated with my company eight months ago as the office manager. How do I address the situation when break room supplies are constantly coming up missing? We supply coffee, tea, coffee creamer (flavored and unflavored), plastic silverware, paper plates, etc. We only have about 24 employees, and usually most are out in the field working at clients. Usually about half of that number are in the office on a daily basis. I’ve noticed that we run out of items very rapidly – too fast for that amount of people. Case in point, we put out a new pack of silverware on a Monday. By Wednesday, the drawer was empty! What is the “politically correct” way to tell everyone to stop stealing?

Well, first, be absolutely sure that people are in fact taking this stuff home with them; it’s possible that you’re underestimating normal use for a group that size. But if you’re sure this is happening, in an office this small, you should be able to just talk to people as a group or send an email that says items are disappearing faster than normal office use would account for and that you’re asking people not to take stuff home for personal use. If the problem continues after that, you could consider cutting back on how much you supply (i.e., you buy a certain amount for the week and that’s it) … but I’d balance the actual costs you’re incurring against the potential hit to morale for people who aren’t misusing the supplies.

3. Recruiter sent me hostile message after I mentioned I’d reach out to my old managers/his client

I was working with a recruiter who had presented me to a client of his. I went and interviewed but didn’t get that contract gig.

Just a few hours ago, I was doing some job searching and came across a job posting where the point of contact was the same recruiter. I had also worked with the client previously and developed personal relationships with the managers who I worked with. When I asked the recruiter if the job was open, he replied, “The client is not interested in moving ahead with your profile.”

Then I asked him if he had any feedback, When he didn’t reply, I said, “It’s all good, I am able to contact my managers directly as I have built relationships with them while I worked there.” He wrote back the following response: “Please refrain from contacting the client directly. You will NOT! be hired. Your tech abilities were clearly not up to snuff. If you engage in communication with my client, you will be red listed from our system.”

I feel the response was very threatening, unprofessional, and demeaning. Past employees or anybody else for that matter do not need approval or any kind of permission from a recruiting agency to reach out to their past managers. And candidates are under no obligations of any kind to use recruiting/staffing agencies to go to an employer. What should I do with this?

Recruiters do have legitimate reason for not wanting candidates to contact employers directly: It raises disputes over who “owns” a candidate, the recruiter (who would be owed a commission if the person was hired) or the employer. Those disputes stem directly with recruiters’ contracts with employers, so it’s not something they’re just making up because it’s in their best interests; it’s a legitimate legal issue from the contract both sides entered into. However, in a case where you already had a relationship with the employer because you worked for them, it’s pretty silly to ban you from contacting them — especially when the recruiter had already told you that he was interested in submitting you for the job.

In any case, it’s possible that he’s exactly right in his feedback to you; he might know that you’re not the profile they’re looking for. But yes, he was certainly rude about it. I’d just opt out of working with him in the future, write him off as a bit of a jerk, and move on.

4. I’m disappointed that an employer ended up advertising the job they’re talking to me about

I recently was able to secure an interview after I cold called (well, LinkedIn InMailed an organization) and found there was a very recent opening. It was so recent that they hadn’t put the position up yet online.

Perhaps this was a bit too naive of me and idealistic, but I was disappointed that in the interview, the guy said he had put the advertisement up that day. It made me feel less special but I didn’t ask any questions about it.

I would have thought they would have waited to put up the ad to see if they liked me and if they didn’t, then put the ad up. I imagine major job search sites charge a fee for a placement of an ad, as well as the writing of the ad itself takes time and effort. I guess this might have been above the interviewer’s head and/or a legal requirement. Is this a usual practice and what does this mean for me as an applicant? (I haven’t yet heard back.)

There’s no legal requirement that they advertise the job, but it’s very, very normal for them to want to advertise and get a wide pool of applicants rather than only interviewing one person who had happened to contact them. It’s not personal and it’s not a reflection on your candidacy; it would just be bad hiring to do otherwise. Employers want to hire the best person they can find; that necessarily means looking at more than one applicant, even if that one applicant is good. (You actually should take this as a good sign about the employer; if they didn’t do it, it would be a red flag for you about how they operate.)

5. Employer won’t let us drive home if we’re sick

I work in Iowa. My place of employment is now telling us that if we leave work early for being sick, we are not allowed to drive home. They will either provide us a ride or have us set up a ride and leave our vehicle at work to be picked up at a later time. Once I’m off the clock, can they really force me not to drive home and leave my vehicle at work?

Probably. You’d need to take to a lawyer to see if there’s anything in your state law that would prohibit it, but federal law doesn’t prevent this kind of overreach by an employer.

Law aside, it’s an incredibly obnoxious policy; most people who are sick are perfectly capable of driving themselves home. It’s clearly designed to keep people from leaving during the work day, even if they’re legitimately ill. I’d ask them to explain to you the rationale for the policy, and consider pushing back with a group of others so that your objection has strength in numbers behind it.

This kind of overreach is a recipe for annoyed employees who aren’t as inclined to go above and beyond at work. (And if it’s accompanied by similar overreaching policies, it’s the sort of thing that often eventually inspires people to unionize). Your employer is being pretty short-sighted.

{ 425 comments… read them below }

  1. Little Teapot*

    OP 2 – I am wondering, why do you provide plastic cutlery? Is it to reduce washing up? Why don’t you perhaps buy a proper, stainless steal cutlery set. They’re not that expensive and it’ll be cheaper in the long run too. I don’t think I’ve ever worked in an office that only had plastic stuff – all my workplaces only ever had plastic stuff that was left over from a party etc, but had proper cutlery sets.

    Also, consider this: are your packets 12 packs of each spoon, fork and knife? If so, you estimate there are 12 people in the office regularly. By the time they each eat say 1.5 meals a day (lunch and one snack) they could easily use up 12 individual forks/12 spoons / 12 knives by Wednesday. For lunch alone I used one fork and one spoon; this morning I had a Cuppa Soup and used a spoon. So today, alone, just me, I’ve used 2 spoons and 1 fork. And if 11 coworkers follow that pattern, there are 12 spoons being used…

    1. Amber*

      Or like at my work where someone often brings in left over cakes and goodies which then everyone uses a plate and fork to eat a slice.

    2. jesicka309*

      Totally agree! My first thought was “why are they being so tight with the cutlery?” Cheap stainless steel forks aren’t that expensive! Spend a couple of hundred dollars and buy 20 forks, 20 spoons, 20 teaspoons, etc. You’ll find people will generally reuse throughout the day if needed. If my company only provided plastic forks and paper plates I’d be pretty annoyed. And who wants to make a cup of tea/coffee with a plastic spoon. And paper plates? Come on. What do you expect them to do, reuse paper plates and cutlery? They’re not stealing, they’re literally using the products and throwing them away as they’re intended for.
      Fork out the money for proper plates and cutlery and stop being cheap.

      1. Little Teapot*

        Exactly! And if you really are that tight, go to a second hand shop. Usually you can get a bundle of knives, of forks and spoons for like $3. Buy a few bundles. It’s work; no ones going to care that nothing matches.

        I would be so interested to hear from the OP as to the reasoning behind constantly buying disposable cutlery when purchasing proper silverware is not only more cost effective but better for the environment.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Perhaps she buys disposable items because no one will clean up after themselves? I have worked in places that furnish “real” dishes and silverware, and after use, would just put in the sink for someone else to deal with. Even with signs that said things like “Your mother doesn’t work here. Clean up after yourself.” I temped as a receptionist at a radio station one time, and they had a full kitchen with a dishwasher. Everyone STILL dumped everything in the sink. While I was there, I just made that part of my duties, loading, washing, and unloading the dishwasher. There’s nothing more unappetizing than a sink full of dirty, greasy dishes. Plus it attracts all kinds of pests.

          1. Sunflower*

            Yea we have this problem at my company. We have a dishwasher and someone actually told me ‘If you use coffee mugs, either put them in the dishwasher or just leave them in the sink and someone else will do it.’ ‘

            like whattttttttt.

          2. Michelle*

            THIS is exactly why we have plastic utensils and paper plates. People were using the real cutlery, plates, bowls, cups, etc, and leaving them in the sink dirty. We did not and still do not have an automatic dishwasher.

            We have never had a theft problem, but we do have the occasional issue where one department will have an exclusive, that department only potluck/meal and use tons of stuff from the communal kitchen. Then the communal kitchen will be out of cutlery, napkins, plates until we can get replacement items ordered.

          3. JB (not in Houston)*

            This is exactly the problem we have at my office. There’s nobody whose job it is to clean dishes, and nobody to whom this task would logically fall. So there’s no reason why people can reasonably expect others to clean up after them, but some people still won’t wash the dishes they’ve used.

            1. DMented Kitty*

              This is the reason why I bring my own stuff instead. When I was younger I was always filling up the ice trays at home, and while I use some of the ice, if it runs low I refill it – my family just puts the tray they almost emptied back into the freezer. I’m always annoyed when I wanted to get some ice only to find out the ice trays are empty.

              I told them to please refill the ice trays when it’s almost empty – no luck. So I just decided I’d just freeze my entire water bottle instead (I usually need the ice for ice water – we live in a tropical country so I like really cold stuff, and the heat thaws the bottled ice pretty quick), and stop refilling the ice trays anymore. I love my family, but jeez…

          4. Noah*

            This is exactly why my company no longer has reusable items in the breakroom. It is far easier to throw away a paper plate and plastic fork. I’ve been known to throw away Tupperware and ceramic mugs if they’re left in the sink and not washed. I don’t mind cleaning up the breakroom, but I’m not washing anyone else’s dishes.

            1. Windchime*

              Same at my work. They don’t provide anything in the way of utensils or plates. I think there may be a few paper cups for coffee and that’s it. I just keep my own plate and cutlery at my desk. I use them and then wash and put them back. I think that’s what most people do.

              Dirty dishes that are still in the sink at the end of the day are thrown out. People learn very quickly not to leave their dirty stuff in the sink.

          5. Elizabeth West*

            We have house elves (cleaning company) that are SUPPOSED to run the dishwasher. I put a dish drainer in the kitchen for people to use when they wash containers, etc. that they’re taking home the same day. Now the cleaners use the dish drainer and leave the dishes in it so no one can put in anything. >_<

            1. BuildMeUp*

              If they’re cleaning outside of work hours, could someone put the dish drainer away at the end of the day or something so the cleaning people can’t use it? Assuming someone has asked the cleaning people to use the dishwasher and they’re still using the drainer, of course.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I’m not totally sure it’s them using the drainer, or I would. I knew I’d end up cleaning it when I put it in there too, but it’s worth the small amount of effort it takes to not have to use paper towels every time I wash my lunch dishes.

        2. Batshua*

          I was going to suggest dollar store cutlery.

          At my local dollar store, you can get two-packs of metal cutlery (two knives, two spoons, or two forks) for $1.

          Fifty cents a utensil.

          So if you can wash them…

          1. Leah the designer*

            We have a full kitchen, well actually two, and have almost 50 employees. Only once have I seen anyone leave any dirty dishes in the sink. Everyone cleans up after themselves right away.

              1. Chinook*

                I have worked in many different offices and exactly 3 had employees that cleaned up after themselves and put stuff in the dishwasher. Where I work now is amazing because people will even fill up the water kettle and set it to boil after emptying it so there is almost always hot water in it!

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                I know! I want to go around and hug each one of her coworkers.

                People at my office are just gross :/

      2. Marzipan*

        I got a new pack of four of each bit of cutlery for my office last week for £1.70, so it wouldn’t need to cost anything like a couple of hundred to do this.

        I do agree that even ‘real’ cutlery and plates do eventually… wander; but I think #2 may be underestimating the rate at which disposable items get used up (which is what employees will assume is intended to happen, because ‘disposable’ – these are literally throwaway items to which people are unlikely to ascribe much value). My own normal daily use would probably go through half a dozen pieces of cutlery a day at work, with drink stirring being the main culprit – I’d expect at least 350 or so pieces of cutlery to be used a week in the office setup you describe, and more wouldn’t astonish me if people drink lots of coffee.

        I also think it’s highly improbable that the allure of plastic cutlery is so great that employees are stealing it in vast quantities, because what on earth would they be doing with it all at home? Cackling to themselves about never having to do the washing up again?

        If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of having to periodically clean up the break room then by all means keep using disposable items, but unless the quantity used is really outrageous then I’d chalk up consuming disposable items as the price of choosing them.

        1. Dawn King*

          I agree, Marzipan. I have 10 people living at home right now (my husband, me, my 7 kids, and one granddaughter) and we go through paper plates like crazy. We use them to keep the dishwashing down because we already struggle to keep up with the non plate dishses. But I feel like we are always running low on them.

          1. Krystal*

            My husband and I have been relying on paper plates/disposable cups and silverware while we’re undergoing a renovation to the first floor of our house (where the kitchen is). I can’t abide washing dishes in the bathtub or something gross like that, so paper it is.

      3. LBK*

        I have to ask, because this seems weird to me – is it really that common for a company to provide non-disposable dishes and silverware? Is this more of a small company thing? And is it really so untenable to expect people to use paper plates and plastic silverware? We don’t get any plates provided here, period, and I believe the plastic silverware is ordered specially by an admin, not auto-restocked by the housekeeping staff like the coffee supplies.

        It’s just such an odd thing to find objectionable, considering it’s a courtesy for them to provide anything at all rather than expecting people to just bring their own stuff from home if they need it.

        1. Lionness*

          My company has one site without about 800 people (and several sites with 50-200 people, each) and each site provides real silverware, glasses, mugs, plates and bowls. We’re all expected to put our dish in the dishwasher and whoever puts in the dish that makes it full needs to start it. Anyone that notices it done is expected to unload it and load any pending dishes into it.

          The only time I see dishes in the sink is when the dishwasher is running (and therefore unavailable to put a new dish into).

        2. Lionness*

          Oh and for us it is an environmental issue. It is the same reason all sites put in a tap filter with hot and cold water – plastic/paper cutlery, plates and bottles are disastrous for the environment even if you recycle them. We also strongly encourage employees to not use styrofoam.

          1. esra*

            Thank you! I don’t know why this doesn’t come up more often. Generating garbage every time you use a fork is awful.

          2. Windchime*

            We did this, too. We have a tap with a filter and the filter is changed regularly. Little flat wooden “stir sticks” are provided for stirring sugar into your coffee. Everyone is responsible to provide their own mug. There is no dishwasher, but dish soap, scrubby brushes and paper towels are provided so you can wash your own cup or plate after you eat.

            In the past, the company provided styrofoam cups for coffee but they stopped that several years ago due to environmental concerns. Now there are some little cheap paper cups provided, but most people use their own.

        3. Spice for this*

          In the past 8 years, I have worked at companies that:
          1-did not provide anything (not even water or coffee) for the employees. This was a very large company and my satellite office had about 40 employees.
          2-provided stainless steel silverware and non-disposable glasses / plates in a fully stocked modern kitchen (we had filtered water dispenser, coffee, tea, different types of soda and snacks). The receptionist would load and unload the dishwasher everyday since some people left their dirty dishes in the sink. Our office had about 20-25 employees.
          3-another one was a small and growing company that provided plastic silverware and paper plates in the very old kitchen (no dishwasher). My office had about 70 to 120 employees depending on travel. The admin. assistant who was tasked with ordering the supplies told me that some of the employees are taking paper towels, large trash bags, etc. Since she had to order the supplies more often than she had anticipated given the large quantities that she would order on a weekly basis! She had spoken with the warehouse manager and he said that he has seen employees take paper towels and trash bags on their way out of the building. Yet he had not done anything about it! HA! one of the many reasons I don’t work there anymore.

          1. LCL*

            I have never worked for a place that provided non-disposable china and cutlery for the employees. (with the exception of restaurants)
            I understand that disposable stuff is environmentally awful, but our kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher and would fill up with unwashed dishes if the company provided them.

          2. Happy Lurker*

            We are tiny. Three people in the office, sometimes 4. We only have the silverware and cups that we bring in ourselves.
            I remember one former coworker who took home everything that was not nailed down, toilet paper (18 rolls a week for 3/4 people?) copy paper, pens, staples, band-aids. When this person left our supply bill was cut by 50%. The following year, we went through half the copy paper we went through when they were employed here. It was mind blowing, because we had no idea the amount of stuff they went home with until long after.
            I remember one particular Friday entering the bathroom after purchasing TP on Monday and just losing my mind that the biggest pack of scott TP was empty!
            OP – I feel your pain, but I cannot offer any constructive advice.

        4. Ad Astra*

          This seems more like a small-company thing to me. My floor at a large-ish (~400 employees) company stocks plastic cutlery, paper plates, and Styrofoam bowls. We have a dishwasher, and we might even have a set or two of real silverware, but it wouldn’t make sense to use and wash that many dishes every day.

          But I agree, having silverware and plates provided is a courtesy more than requirement. I would be a little annoyed at having to wash dishes at work, but I guess I could always start bringing my own.

          1. Chinook*

            “This seems more like a small-company thing to me. My floor at a large-ish (~400 employees) company stocks plastic cutlery, paper plates, and Styrofoam bowls”

            My company is largish (we have 5 floors in an office tower) and they not only supply silverware and flatware in each floor’s kitchen (and require the custodial staff to run the dishwashers nightly) but every so often they go through and remove any vendor mugs we have received so that our coffee mugs are all branded correctly. The kettle, though, I think was supplied by a staff member who likes tea because the single serve coffee machine doesn’t make the water hot enough for a decent brew.

        5. Stranger than fiction*

          You’re right that it’s a courtesy. But as Alison points out, this staff is probably already used to that perk and wants the Op to consider that. My current job also does not provide anything, we bring our own. There’s a few random mugs from old employees that don’t work here, and if you’re really lucky, you may find a plastic fork leftover from a luncheon the company provided, but otherwise you’re SOL if you didn’t bring your own.

          1. LBK*

            I wasn’t speaking specifically about the OP’s situation; I agree that in that case it’s important to maintain what they’ve become accustomed to. I was more responding to Jesicka’s incredulity at the idea of having to eat off paper plates at the office.

        6. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          I’ve worked mainly in large office buildings. We are provided coffee, tea, and water, but with styrofoam cups and plastic stirrers. We get paper towels, and that’s it. Napkins, cutlery, paper cups, coffee mugs, etc – those are up to individuals or teams to provide for themselves. One exception is water bottles – the company has been known to provide logo’d water bottles and coffee mugs (good quality ones, too!) to cut down on styrofoam use. Employees used those, but unfortunately vendors don’t get them.

          The only time I’ve seen mugs and silverware provided were during my early stints in retail when we typically had one sink in the office and we washed our own.

        7. Simonthegrey*

          We don’t have a sink in my workplace (it’s a department within a community college). I can use the drinking fountain to fill the pot for coffee, but beyond that, I would have to wash dishes in the bathroom sink which is too small and has no water pressure. So our workplace only has disposable. I bring my own mug from home, use it for coffee, and wipe it out with a napkin at the end of the day.

    3. Mean Something*

      I second the recommendation to buy a set of stainless steel. Although you still need more than one of each utensil per person since people do tend to take them back to their desks and forget to return them until there are no more forks in the lunchroom!

    4. Purple Dragon*

      Our company supplied proper cutlery. Unfortunately it kept disappearing until the CEO refused to buy any more (I don’t blame him !). I don’t know if people couldn’t be bothered putting it in the dishwasher so just chucked it in the bin or if they were taking it home.

      We had a secret Santa last Christmas who left a heap of teaspoons wrapped up around the office – I think there’s 2 left and most of them disappeared within the first month.

      Although I’m not a fan of plastic I can certainly understand why a company would go that route.

      1. Little Teapot*

        That’s so random! I understanding one going missing every now and then (perhaps accidently was thrown out if it was hidden under a napkin) but consistently missing proper silverwear? How odd!

        1. Sandy*

          So I once sheepishly came down to our cafeteria with a bundle of about 50 or so metal forks.

          I swear there was a logical explanation. Basically, our cafeteria is down about five floors and a bit out of the way. I would go down and buy my food or part of my food, and take it upstairs to my desk to eat. I would wind up taking home the cutlery to wash it (usually stuck in a bag with my “main course” Tupperware) and it never quite made it back. We even had a special container for the “cafeteria forks” on the container, in hopes that I would remember to return the darn things.

          One day, I *finally* remembered to bring them back. I expected the cafeteria ladies to be mad (I would be!) but they were mostly just grateful that I brought them back. I guess most people are too embarrassed.

          1. Winter is Coming*

            I did the same thing! I was taking them home with my lunch dishes to wash, and was forgetting to bring them back. One day someone commented that we were low on forks, and where had they all gone? I realized what I had done, owned up to it and brought them back, and 10 years later, they’re still bringing up my fork pilfering!! (To be fair, it was maybe 5 forks or so…)

          2. INTP*

            That was me in college! The cafeteria felt a little too much like high school, with people noticing if you ate alone, so I would bring my food back to my dorm room, and of course not feel like taking my dishes back afterwards. The eco-initiative involved charging for styrofoam containers and such, so I just got regular plates and cutlery and carried them to my room on a tray. Every break, they’d check our rooms and charge us for cafeteria items found, so I had to take like five loads of plates and bowls and cutlery back to the cafeteria.

            1. Manders*

              My college had a “plate amnesty day” so students could leave all the items they’d pilfered from the cafeteria in collection boxes. It was a smallish suburban campus without any home goods stores in walking distance, so if you needed a fork or mug it was easier to “borrow” it from the cafeteria than to order it online and wait weeks for your purchase to go through the mail room. The administration actually seemed more bothered by people walking out with extra bananas or apples from the all-you-can-eat fruit section.

          3. Charityb*

            As long as your fingerprints aren’t on them you probably could have slipped them into the cafeteria without being identified. I personally would have worn a clever disguise or swiped another coworker’s nametag or something to anonymize myself.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        The funniest building wide email that we have ever had came from a normally VERY calm, quiet and professional principal of the company. To entire company:

        “I bought 144 metal forks six months ago. There are none in the kitchen. Where are they?”

        (believe me, that’s his pissed off tone. To go far enough to email everybody about about forks, he had to be really really mad. He shopped for them and went to the store himself.)

        Two might have been at my desk. But WHERE are the OTHER 142? :p

        In related news, we now have boxes of plastic again.

      3. Ama*

        At my last job I did some basic admin and purchasing for our building cafeteria. There was a maximum of 40 people eating in the cafeteria daily ( it was a university, so it was closed weekends and when main term wasn’t in session). We had a staff member whose daily duty it was to do a quick sweep of the main office areas daily and collect any dishes/silverware left lying around so they could be washed and returned to the kitchen.

        I still had to order a dozen new forks every. single. semester. Just forks — knives and spoons weren’t a problem. We did discover once when they were doing elevator maintenance that about four forks had been dropped down the elevator shaft somehow, but I have no idea where the rest went.

        1. Koko*

          Same thing here! Forks get depleted over time, spoons and knives never do.

          We have maybe 75 people sharing a kitchen here and at lunch time it’s not all that uncommon for every fork to be out somewhere – not in the drawer, not even in the sink or dishwasher – and I’ll have to go to the kitchen on another floor to get one. I’m sure it’s just pretty easy to have a lot of missing forks if half of 75 people have 1 or 2 in their office that they forgot to carry to the kitchen recently.

          1. Kelly L.*

            It’s a twist on the Alanis Morissette song–whichever one I need is the one we’re out of. If I have a bagel and want to put cream cheese on it, there are only forks. If I want to eat pasta, there are only spoons.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            We always have forks–here, it’s spoons that run out quickly.

            I bought a packet of reusable sporks for travel and put two in my carry-on baggage. I was just thinking I might bring a couple here and just wash them after I eat.

            1. Sparky*

              I once moved into a roommate situation where two people had just moved out under acrimonious circumstances. One of them had taken all the forks. It was a diabolical thing to do, but not actually criminal. I found the forks were all gone when I made peanut butter cookies and wanted to put the cross hatch design on top. I used the mesh strainer from the wok and left a honey comb design on the cookies instead. We didn’t know about buying random batches of silverware at charity shops, so someone bought a new set of silverware, and then we had too many spoons and knives. I kind of admire the person who stole the forks, it was such a simple but evil thing. And, I have seen with my own eyes someone eat a pork chop with a spoon.

                1. Ad Astra*

                  My husband eats nearly everything with a spoon. Any time it’s at all possible to use a spoon instead of a fork, he does. When it comes to pork chops, I have definitely seen him pick them up with this hands and gnaw on them. Thankfully, not in public.

      4. Chinook*

        “Our company supplied proper cutlery. Unfortunately it kept disappearing ”

        One office I was in had this issue and I ended up sending out company wide emails about devilish gnomes who hide utensils and coffee cups around the office. Suddenly, people reported finding all sorts of gnome stashes and returned them to the dishwasher to be cleaned and reused.

    5. Mando Diao*

      Something tells me that the female employees would be tasked with washing the silverware.

      Two cups of coffee per day equals two spoons used and thrown out. Maybe OP could also supply stirrer straws? Those don’t run out quite so quickly.

      1. Illsa*

        Biodegradable (and much cheaper) alternative! Use dry (wide) linguine noodles as stirrers! That’s what our local organic café uses!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Yeah, bamboo stirrers are both biodegradable and renewable.

            If anyone doubts that last part, you’re welcome to come cut down the bamboo in our yard!

          2. Illsa*

            I think to actually have the gluten melt into the coffee would have to soak the linguine in boiling coffee for 15 minutes or more. With a quick stir, no worries!

      2. Shell*

        The stories on AAM makes me incredibly grateful that in every workplace I’ve been at, everyone was very good about immediately (hand! No dishwasher!) washing their dishes. Only exception was in one particular previous job, boss #2 had a habit of piling up his coffee cups; while I occasionally washed them since I was the admin and I didn’t want to let them sit too long, boss #1 told me in no uncertain terms that cleaning up after other people’s dishes was not part of my job.

    6. Alison Read*

      Perhaps the break room does not have facilities appropriate for washing utensils? I would be upset if my eating utensils were being cleaned in the washroom.

      Plus we don’t know the OP is purchasing standard quantities, when I had to purchase disposable cutlery I was buying it in cases sold by the 100’s.

      And a side note, I worked closely with our locality’s department of health (Anchorage, AK – US), and was advised I needed to use disposable utensils because I did not have the three sinks required by health code.

          1. Judy*

            I think you have to have a completely separate handwashing sink.

            As noted below, and as taught in our Girl Scout camping training:

            0. Scraping really well
            1. Hot soapy wash
            2. Hot rinse
            3. Cold bleach sanitizing
            Air drying is preferable to towel drying

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          When I worked in a fast food restaurant there were three sinks one to wash, one to rinse and one to sanitise.

              1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

                Food service laws generally require a separate sanitizing soak in the third sink to prevent food borne illness being passed by people who think they can “wash” dishes by giving them a soapy swipe and a pass under lukewarm water.

                1. Stranger than fiction*

                  Yep and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a rash around my mouth because they didn’t rinse that stuff off well enough.

              2. Anx*

                Cleaning and sanitizing have more specific definitions in microbial sciences. For food safety, cleaning involves removing the particles of food, usually with soap. Sanitizing is reducing the microorganisms to a safe amount. It’s not the same as sterilization, which kills all life, but it’s enough to keep it from being a health hazard. This is done by heat or chemical means.

                You need to clean not only because no one wants to eat off of a plate with someone else’s food stuck onto it, but because sanitizing is ineffective if pathogens are trapped in the food crust leading to inefficient contact between the heat/chemicals and the pathogen.

                Sometimes this is done with an automatic dishwasher, but pots and pans typically go in the 3 compartment sink. First they presoak and are washed, then rinsed, then sanitized, all in different compartments.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Thank you! I did not know this. I will not share this information with my husband, who takes four times as long as I do to wash dishes and who will not put them away until they are bone dry. He will want to add a 3rd sink to our kitchen. He thinks I am careless, but I have pointed out to him that nobody has died from my dishwashing yet.

        2. Leah the designer*

          Sanitizing is a big deal depending on your industry. If you work in food service or in health care kitchens, you learn very quickly that not having a sanitizing step can you you in trouble with state officials.

      1. Rebecca*

        That’s a great point. We only have the bathroom sink if we need to wash something, so I’d really not want to be using communal silverware that was washed in that environment. And who would wash it? That’s the next question. If you have a dishwasher and everyone just put their items neatly inside, and then took turns running it, that would be one thing, but I imagine this falling to one poor soul all the time.

      2. Kelly L.*

        This. I never knew how much I loved the little kitchenette at OldJob until I started at NewJob, where there is no kitchenette, and the closest place to wash any dishes is in a restroom sink at the other end of our floor. Mostly, if people make dirty “real” dishes, they just take them home dirty.

        We go through a lot of cheap plastic cutlery. Mostly we each just randomly bring in a box if we notice it getting low, or sometimes, we get a big influx of it if we have an event and there’s some left over.

        1. Cucumberzucchini*

          I’m in a temporary office right now. The rent can’t be beat for the amount of space we have. There’s some downsides though and no kitchen is a big one. The water is well water so it has a strong sulfur smell.

          We have disposable forks and plates in the “kitchen”. There’s no where to wash anything.

          1. Chinook*

            “The rent can’t be beat for the amount of space we have. … The water is well water so it has a strong sulfur smell.”

            Hmmm…do you find your neighborhood is warmer than usual with random fires and neighbours who favour pitch forks? Do labour laws seem to get ignored and there seem to be a lot of health and safety violations? Could it be that your new location is so cheap because it is . . . hell-adjacent?

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Totally. Don’t even get me started on the gross, ancient, worn out dish scrubbing brush that is hanging in office’s kitchen for people to “wash” their mugs or dishes with. Yuck.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          Our small kitchen has dishwashing soap. No sponges, brushes, or any other scrubbing thingies. One can try paper towels but they break down. The whole situation amuses me. It’s like having one last cigarette in the pack and no lighter.

          1. Natalie*

            We have a sponge that someone *coughmybosscough* keeps leaving in the sink, soaking wet, so it grows those extra stinky sponge germs.

            1. Ad Astra*

              If I ever get a divorce, it will be directly related to my husband leaving the wet sponge in the sink (and then putting dirty dishes on top of it!).

        2. Windchime*

          Yeah, my work provides those little scrubby brushes but I don’t use them even though they appear to be new. I don’t want to scrub my dishes with a brush that’s been scrubbing others’ dishes. I just use a paper towell and soap.

        3. JB (not in Houston)*

          The one at my office has been there since before I got here 10 years ago. I do *not* use it.

    7. Merry and Bright*

      At OldJob they provided tea, coffee and milk out of petty cash but refused to supply teaspoons on the grounds that the staff might steal them (this was actually in the staff handbook). At one point the crazy place also accused us of stealing the bars of soap from the bathroom (people were just washing their hands, but whatever). I got through a lot of hand sanitizer that last year.

    8. Chocolate lover*

      None of the offices I’ve worked in had real cutlery, even ones with sinks. Some of them didn’t provide plastic either, you were just expected to bring whatever you needed for yourself (unless there was an office event.)

      It would appear our current office manager parcels out a small amount of plastic utensils at a time, and keeps the others locked up, to keep them from disappearing too quickly. I suppose that could be an option.

    9. Xarcady*

      At my old job, the owner purchased a set of everyday dishes and 2 sets of stainless flatware at a store that was going out of business. It was a small, family-owned company of about 25 employees. All of whom seemed honest and trustworthy.

      In two months, we were down to about three random plates and a few knives. A plea to return stuff to the kitchen and a search of people’s offices yielded about 5 more bowls/plates, and some spoons.

      What happened to the rest of it? No one knows. But it was no longer in the office.

      1. Robin*

        Ours disappears as well–so now whenever we go out we pick up free plastic ware and use that. Where do the metal pieces go?

        1. INTP*

          I’ve accidentally packed up a metal fork with my food containers and such to take home. I make an effort to bring them all back, but I imagine the missing cutlery is other people doing the same thing and not bothering to return it.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Could be what I almost did today. Brought a salad in a throw-away container but brought a fork from home. When I was bundling up my trash I almost threw my fork away. On a related note, I don’t know WHAT has happened to all my salad forks. We need them because we have small grandchildren who can’t use a “big” fork yet. I used to have at least 18; now I have….two. ( I suspect young ones digging in the dirt with them, but have been too lazy to go on a search.) So if I had thrown this one away, we would have only had one.

    10. Samantha*

      There may not be a good way to wash all the silverware. At one job we had a dishwasher and staff were assigned to tidy up the kitchen and start the dishwasher at the end of the day, and that was fine.

      At my last job, there were 100 employees and no dishwasher, as well as no one assigned to do any tidying in the kitchen. We were all supposed to clean up after ourselves and hand wash our dishes and cutlery. Right. So what actually happened was that most people would just leave their dirty silverware in the sink to sit for days on end, or they would give it a very cursory scrub that wouldn’t even remove all the food. Gross. The organization wouldn’t provide paper goods so many people just started bringing their own dishes and silverware.

      1. xarcady*

        We have a dishwasher. There are still dishes and cutlery in the sink daily, despite the ever-growing number of signs to wash your own dishes.

        I have to say, most people do clean up after themselves. But there are a few on every floor who just don’t care.

        1. INTP*

          Yeah, I worked at a software company with the dishwasher. Very few of the technical people would wash their own dishes, they just piled everything up in the sink. The dishwashing wasn’t in anyone’s job description. The head admin of the office took responsibility for it and tried to push me into helping her with it. (I was in an assistant role, but she wasn’t my supervisor and had been known to try to trick me into helping with her work by presenting it as part of my job before.) I refused because a) there was a man in an admin role and she never, ever asked him and b) it wasn’t the type of office where being willing to scrub the kitchen would garner you any favor with higher ups. They just would have seen you as un-ambitious for not doing something more relevant to the business with your time. So essentially I would have been doing it on personal time….not happening.

      2. Monodon monoceros*

        As nice as I think it is for the workplace to provide stuff like this, I think this is a situation where I’m totally fine with the employer saying that people need to bring in their own cutlery/plates. My last job didn’t supply anything, and it wasn’t much of a big deal for me. I just went to the goodwill and bought a couple of things for myself and kept them in my cube. If people left their stuff in the sink (for more than, say, an hour), it was fair game for stealing/throwing it away. That ensured that (most) people washed their own stuff right away and brought it back to their workstation.

    11. Hornswoggler*

      Maybe everyone should be allocated their own specific set of cutlery and crockery with their name on it. Then they would have responsibility for their own set for themselves. This is what happened in a convent I used to visit. Actually the plates were communal but everyone had their own set of cutlery.

      Slightly off-topic, but may be useful: I work in a microbusiness in a large old house with two small kitchens between 12 small businesses. When I arrived 13 years ago I bought four very, very distinctive teaspoons. They were a bit more expensive than yer average banged-out-with-a-template cheap teaspoons, but 13 years later I still have all four. It helps that I keep them in the office between washes, but they NEVER get nicked when they’re in the drainer or waiting to be washed, because everybody knows they are NOT THEIRS.

      1. Erin*

        It falls to the receptionist in my office which I think is 100% demeaning. But we’ve discussed receptionist cleaning issues on AAM before. :P

        1. Former HR Director*

          Why is it demeaning for the job to be assigned to the receptionist? I’ve heard people say this before, but I don’t really understand it. At my job, the receptionist is responsible for unloading and running the dishwasher (individual employees do the loading), however, it’s part of their job description and they know this when they interview for the role.

          1. Krystal*

            I’m not Erin, but I would say this: because it puts the receptionist in charge of being everyone’s servant and maid. If she expects it at the time of hire, fine, but otherwise, it’s obnoxious.

            I used to have an admin assistant job and was tasked with cleaning the refrigerator. Because no one else had to worry about it, they were downright disgusting because they felt entitled. I will never, ever forget the jerk who spilled a quart of milk and didn’t a.) clean it up or b.) bother to tell anyone. I found it days later, on my scheduled cleaning day. Cleaning out a veggie drawer full of rancid milk was actually the catalyst for me to leave that job.

            1. Former HR Director*

              Well, yes, if people are being disgusting and making the receptionist’s life difficult, then that’s a problem (with the folks who are being gross, not the job duty itself.)

              At our job, it’s very clear that people are responsible for tidying up after themselves and loading their own dishes (and people have been spoken to when they don’t). Incidentally, our receptionist is a male, so I don’t know if that plays at all into people cleaning up after themselves without too many passive aggressive notes, and reminder emails.

              1. Erin*

                I have to admit it sounds like it works out well in your office. The receptionist knew about that part of the job beforehand, and people actually clean up after themselves. Kudos to you guys. :)

            2. Erin*

              That sucks.

              I think it’s one of those things that depends on workplace culture and people you work with. If everyone is respectful and cleans up after themselves it’s not a big deal.

              In my opinion, I have no problems with cleaning communal spaces such as the large table in our break room after pizza was ordered for everyone….or wiping down a conference room table…what I take issue to is literally when people bring their own dishes or coffee mugs and leave them in the sink expecting the receptionist to clean it. Or, you know, not cleaning up their own spilled milk. :P

      2. INTP*

        In theory, everyone washes the dishes that they use. In reality, it’s a woman (whose job description does NOT include cleaning) or the first person to be disgusted by the dishes piling up or have an allergic reaction to the mold growing on them.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        At OldJob, us customer service reps rotated dish duty. Because, you know, we had “service” in our title.

        1. Stranger than fiction*

          Actually, it was kitchen duty. We also had to wipe the counters, the lunch table, clean up the coffee making area, etc.

    12. INTP*

      Every office that I’ve worked in with reusable products has had massive dish pile-ups and either arguments about who should wash them or a woman taking responsibility and trying to loop other women in to help her (but never a man of course, even the admin men). People are gross and don’t take responsibility for their own dishes, even when there is a dishwasher. Everyone will complain about the mess and say that we all need to wash our dishes but obviously everyone isn’t actually doing it for large amounts of dishes to linger around growing mold. Maybe there are offices where people do their own dishes like they are supposed to before the kitchen reaching a disgusting point, but I haven’t worked in them.

      So as much as it pains me to say this as a generally eco-conscious person, I understand the disposable cutlery and silverware only rule. I much preferred working in that office and keeping my own plate and bowl in the office to working in others where people could anonymously leave their dirty dishes around.

      1. Erin*

        Yeah. I think we’re getting too caught up in the cutlery part of this. It’s all office kitchen supplies (and possibly other office supplies).

        If the cutlery is disappearing not because people are going through it too fast, but because people are bringing supplies home, you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll bring home actual silverware if it’s made available.

    13. Meg Murry*

      I also wonder if people are hoarding the silverware at their own desks. I know this happened at my last job with pens – there would be none in the supply closet for weeks, and then we would finally get a big order. Immediately, people would sweep in and take 5-10 back to their desks, anticipating that what was in the cabinet would run out quickly, and wouldn’t be restocked for awhile. So what seemed like enough supplies to last quite a while would disappear far too quickly, until the powers that be finally let the office manager order enough supplies to have spares on hand, instead of waiting until the supplies were empty plus a few more weeks. Once there was a reasonable amount of supplies always available, the overall usage leveled out into a more reasonable consumption rate.

      Is there any chance some of the silverware also wound up elsewhere? For instance, someone brought in a cake and the box of forks got taken to the conference room and left there? I also agree with the person that mentioned that a person drinking coffee or tea with cream and/or sugar could easily go through multiple spoons in one day alone (and then move on to using the forks and knives to stir with), so you may be way under-estimating the average per person consumption.

      I always joke that there was a direct correlation everywhere I’ve worked between the quality of coffee supplies and the way employees were overall treated (and overall employee happiness with the way they were treated). The place that treated employees like we were all replacable interchangable cogs, and paid really poorly? Only a really crappy coffee vending machine that employees had to buy themselves. The places that treated us like reasonable adults? Offered free coffee and tea, disposable cups and spoons, but employees pitched in together to buy real cream. The places that treated employees like they wanted it to be a happy place to work and that it would be difficult to replace the employees? Offered free coffee, tea, cocoa, real cream, etc that was always well stocked. I’m sure there are crappy places to work that offer good coffee/snacks and vice versa, but I’ve overall seen that places that skimp in cheap ways to increase employee morale during the day like coffee tend to take that attitude toward employees in general.

      Last, you mentioned that about half the people work off site. Maybe some of them are taking a week’s worth of silverware and creamer (if it’s individually packaged) with them in their bags to their jobsites, and that is also making it go faster than you would expect.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      If it’s small packets of plastic cutlery, then I agree–24 people are going to go through that pretty fast. If it’s the great big boxes like you get at a discount warehouse, then someone is probably nicking them.

      WHERE do you work that provides proper cutlery!? (We have some but an employee brought it in because she didn’t need it.)

    15. Bridget*

      We buy 100 count packages of plasticware. It’s obvious that it’s being taken, and a couple of people have been pointed out by co-workers – but that is “hearsay”. I think that if I bought real silverware, that would probably disappear also. I sent out an email asking people to be courteous, etc. We’ll see how it goes…

    16. Crabby PM*

      I’ve been working for 35 years. I worked at Microsoft. I have never ever had employer supply stainless steel cutlery in the break room. Ever.

  2. AcademiaNut*

    For #5

    Has your employer thought about how you’re supposed to get back to the office? As in, are they expecting you to find someone to give you a ride, or take a taxi, if you aren’t on a public transit route.

    Also, you might point out that they are depriving you of the use of your car for the duration of your illness. For some employees, that could mean that they can’t get to a doctor’s appointment, or go to the store to buy food or medication, or pick up their kids from school – things that are still necessary even when legitimately sick.

    1. Illsa*

      Exactly! And also, what if it’s your only car in the family? How is your significant other or your teenage kid supposed to get around – especially if it would cost $50 to take a taxi all the way to your job for them to pick up the car?

      1. Allison*

        I think this is another case where an employer assumes all their employees have Someone Else At Home who can take care of things, so their employees don’t have to worry about it. They figure, so what if they can’t take the car home? Surely there’s a spouse, live-in significant other, adult or teenage child, roommate, etc. who can help out!

        1. xarcady*

          Good point. If I were forced to take a taxi home, the only way I could get back to my job site would be the bus. That runs once an hour, and you have to make a special request to get a drop-off at my office park. And it’s a one mile walk from home. And it turns a 12 minute commute by car into an hour and a half commute, if you include walk time, getting to the bus stop 10 minutes early so you don’t miss it if it is ahead of schedule, and then the meandering route it takes all over town.

          A taxi costs over $30–and I live in the same town as my office is located, but at the far end of town from work. Can’t imagine what the cost of a taxi from two towns over would be.

          So, yeah, while the employer might see this as a “nice” gesture to employees, it would really be a burden to deal with, in part because I live alone.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Same here, only the sporadic bus service does not stop by my work as far as I know. And my office is clear across town from my home, so that would be a very expensive taxi trip. It costs me $40+ dollars to go to the airport and back via cab, which is about the same as the cap on the long-term parking. The fare to and from my workplace would be at least that, possibly more.

            I doubt this company is paying their cab fares, either.

            1. xarcady*

              I found out the only reason the bus even runs by my office is that the county courthouse is 5 miles up the road, and part of getting state funding to start up the bus company was agreeing to have a bus stop at the courthouse. Without that, I’d have a 2.5 mile walk to the nearest bus stop if I needed to take the bus home.

              Two and a half miles of mostly back roads, with no sidewalks and mostly no shoulder either, no street lights, lots of hills and curves to make sightlines very short, and a fair amount of traffic during rush hour, and lots of snow in the winter. No, thank you.

              And the state keeps wondering why more people don’t use the public transportation they have provided.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Same conditions here. I would totally use public transport if we had something better, but we don’t. They did just put a new intersection in up the road, and they also constructed a sidewalk. So theoretically, I could take a bus if they had one in the shopping center up the road that didn’t take three hours to get here. But who wants to walk across a diverging diamond in subzero weather? Not me!

      2. MashaKasha*

        My inner conspiracy theorist suspects that OP5’s employer knows exactly what they’re doing, and have put this new policy into place to prevent people from leaving early. They weren’t born yesterday. They KNOW it’ll be a giant PITA and close to impossible for many of their employees. That is exactly why they are doing this.

        1. LBK*

          Yeah, as Alison mentions in her response, I’m reading this as a way to ban people from leaving early without doing it outright since it’s such a pain in the ass that most people will probably just tough it out for the rest of the day.

        2. Ad Astra*

          Or, a more charitable interpretation: They worry about employees going home “sick” when they’re actually fine, and have instituted this policy so that only the truly ill would subject themselves to the PITA that is retrieving a vehicle. Which is a great way to keep germy, contagious people on site to infect the rest of your staff.

        3. Jiffy*

          I would be very tempted to throw it back on the management the next day: My car is still at work. Since you gave me a ride home, please send someone to pick me up.”

        4. INTP*

          Yeah, I think you are right. They know, and it’s either intentional, or they don’t care. (I was thinking it could be for a liability reason – they’re concerned about being blamed if, say, someone leaves feeling ill and turns out to be too ill to drive a car and causes an accident.)

          What the employees should do is just start calling in sick to work any time they aren’t positive they can last through the whole day. When people start using more of their sick days, then maybe the company will rethink the policy.

          1. Happy Lurker*

            I was thinking that getting sick employees to not come in at all might be part of the intention behind this ass backwards rule.

            1. Ben*

              Actually, they are trying to get us to stop using our “sick time” and cut back on all of the overtime. They forced us to go from a vacation bank and sick bank to a single PTO bank and our unscheduled PTO is a no fault system, meaning I don’t have to be sick to use it. Now that we are using their policy against them, they want to change it again. And we don’t have the best mass transit system to be riding. We do have buses, but I live 15 miles out of town and no way to use it.

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      I think the problem with this policy is that it’s mandatory and not optional. I don’t drive, but I know that when I have a migraine I would be completely unsafe to drive, and knowing I could ask someone at work to sort out me getting home would be wonderful (I don’t tend to give up until I get to the stage of curling up in the corner and crying while I hope to die)

      That said, making it mandatory is definitely overreaching. Perhaps a better question to ask the employer is what safety precautions they have in place in their car park and whether their insurance will be covering your car if it’s left alone on the premises overnight. This sounds like the kind of employer where inconveniencing you is fine, but inconveniencing them is going to make them rethink.

      1. Hiding on the Internet Today*

        My company does supply taxi vouchers for people who are too ill to drive home, or took public transit, or stayed late at the office and transit isn’t running or isn’t safe anymore.

        Its run by a third party as part of our benefits. You apply and get a voucher with no expiration. When you use it, you send them a little form with the reason and a sign off from your boss. (And if you went home sick or worked late, your boss knows anyway.) Then they send you a new voucher. I keep mine in my desk drawer with change for the pop machine.

        However, its not a requirement, its a benefit.

      2. Brandy in TN*

        Trying to get a taxi in Nashville when you aren’t at the airport or downtown is next to impossible. You wait and wait and wait.

    3. snuck*

      In the past we’ve had a book of cabcharges (not quite sure the American equivalent – think a cheque that can only be used on a taxi, which must have the pick up and drop off addresses entered – so you can specify where it is to be used for exactly if you wish when you hand it out, and it comes through like a credit account – you also get cabcharge cards that work like a credit card only on taxis) …. so we could offer one – people could choose to use them or not – most were grateful for them (because most commuted on trains and busses and a cabcharge meant a quick trip home to where their cars were so they could go to docs etc).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Here in the NE US I usually hear them called vouchers. In my experience, large company parties that serve alcohol often have them available for any partygoer who asks.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The only time I’ve ever gotten one was when I had an endoscopy. My doctor’s office had them for patients who couldn’t drive home after a procedure but didn’t have anyone to pick them up.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            But what did they CALL them, Liz? ;)

            (That’s a great idea, by the way. In my experience, if you’re having a procedure that requires anesthesia, medical offices just tell you that you may not be able to drive and that you should have transportation arranged.)

    4. BananaPants*

      This is an excellent point. Without my car I can’t pick our kids up from school or daycare; their car seats are in the car and there’s no decent public transportation going anywhere near their locations and our home. So if my employer adopted this boneheaded policy, my husband either has to call out of work himself on short notice or I have to set in motion our emergency daycare pickup plan (which requires one of my parents to leave work early and drive a half hour to pick them up – they have backup car seats). Then whoever got the kids would need to come get me at home so that we could drive back and collect my car from the office!

      I have AAA so I’d probably be inventive and *before* I left work sick, I’d arrange for my vehicle to be towed to my home so that once I got home I’d have my flipping car. But a better solution would be for the employer to not treat employees like irresponsible teenagers and recognize that most illnesses that cause one to leave work sick are not so severe or disabling that one cannot drive home safely.

      If subjected to this I’d simply call out for the whole day if there was even a remote chance of leaving work sick – and I’d be job hunting so fast their heads would spin.

      1. NYC Redhead*

        Or you could just have AAA tow it to just off premises and out of sight of your employer and have the taxi drop you off there.

    5. Stranger than fiction*

      I think that’s the whole point. They’re making it as inconvenient as possible for people to go home sick. But what they don’t realize is that it probably in turn makes people call out for the whole day when they’re sick.

    6. Biff*

      I think that this might be an effort to convince people to not come into work sick in the first place, but wow, it’s a TERRIBLE policy.

    7. Windchime*

      I’m just wondering how the company thinks they are going to enforce this silly rule. Are they going to forcefully take my keys from me when I develop a headache or an upset stomach? Will Security block the door, or perhaps run out ahead of me and put a boot on my car?

      It’s ridiculous. I’m guessing that this isn’t the only whacky way that this company operates.

    8. Jessica (tc)*

      I’d have no way of getting home, actually. My husband and I only have one car, so I would often drive to work and he’d take the bus to work. (My work wasn’t on a bus line.) He would have had no way of getting to me if we had this policy, so we’d both have been out of luck. What the heck do you do if you live alone, away from family, and you’re new to the area? How do you get your car back? Just…weird and awkward.

    9. purpleparrots*

      I get that this would be super annoying if you had a cold or something to that effect. But what if you were in serious physical pain or had some type of condition that made it difficult to drive? If an employee wouldn’t let me call an ambulance or have someone pick them up in that situation, I would absolutely refuse to let them drive themselves. And I know people that WOULD refuse — our insurance is pretty good but ambulance rides are expensive.

      Honestly I feel like there is more grey area to this policy than the poster indicates. Enforcing this as a manager without some degree of judgment call would be miserable.

  3. Georgina*

    Hi Alison,

    I’m the no.4 comment above. Thanks so much for replying to my comment. I’m super chuffed to my email to you up there.

    Can you expand on the not looking at other people is a red flag? I know recruitment is most people’s first point of call with an organisation so is looking at only one person supposed to show that the organisation doesn’t do anything 100%?

    Perhaps the law thing depends on the organisation and/or the state? I’m just heard that from 2 people recently. I should also explain I live in Australia so laws might be different state to state than in the US.

    1. Mean Something*

      I’m not Alison but I do hire people (in the US, in secondary education) and it is important to me to know that I have seen a wide and diverse range of candidates rather than hiring the first person who seems as if she could do the job well. It has certainly happened (because things move fast in our field) that the first person to come in for a whole-day interview gets offered the job, but that’s usually after we’ve reviewed a lot of resumes and seen who’s out there looking. Also, if we don’t post jobs publicly, over time that leads to a lot of “inbred” hiring–people who already have some kind of “in” with the institution–and makes it hard to show that we are an equal opportunity employer. It’s great you got an interview, and I hope you come out on top in the process!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No state in the U.S. requires employers to advertise jobs, but yeah, I can’t speak to Australia at all. (That said, be suspicious of what you hear from people and look it up for yourself if you want to know for sure; this is exactly the kind of myth that exists about U.S. law and gets repeated here, but isn’t actually true.)

      What I meant about it being a red flag if they don’t bother to interview anyone other than the one person who happened to contact them: It says that they don’t value hiring well or finding the best person for the job, which means that you’re likely to have coworkers who don’t pull their weight, and it means that they’re likely to half-ass it in other important managerial ways too. It also means that they’re probably not doing enough due diligence that you could trust their assessment that you’re right for the job, which increases the chances that you could end up in a role where you’re unhappy/struggle/lose the job.

      1. snuck*

        There isn’t a law in Australia that employers must advertise a position.

        There is similar laws about discrimination and generally large businesses have policies that they follow (or unions and workplace tribunals will have grounds for following up complaints). But no requirement to advertise…

        It is normal here to advertise to find a wide pool of applicants, and to show transparency. The OP sounds a little hopeful and possibly inexperienced. Yes, the employer would have to pay for an advertisement, somewhere online is fairly cheap, less than a couple of hours wages… worth doing.

        The places that don’t tend to advertise are high turnover retail – McDonalds/Hungry Jacks, retail stores etc – they just stick a sign in the window knowing their clientele are walking past and prospective candidates, or specialty professional roles (who advertise in specific ways – special days in special newspapers etc).

        1. snuck*

          As pointed out below… I forgot Government and Tertiary Education sectors. They have to follow policy to make sure it’s above board. (Tertiary Ed because it’s generally considered Govt money for the position and must follow Govt rules)

      2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        There are entry level jobs that we advertise and hire for frequently. If we come across someone who is a good fit, outside of an advertising cycle, we’ll hire them without posting the job.

        This works because we hire for these couple job titles “all the time” and are well familiar with what’s out there.

      3. Not The Droid You Are Looking For*

        Ah job myths…my former company had a policy that jobs must be publicly advertised for three days, which often got shared as “legally required.”

        We posted even when we were promoting an internal candidate, and *a lot* of applications come in during a three day window. I always just felt sorry for the people who had worked on their applications.

        1. Sunflower*

          Yup even though it’s not the law, it’s a pretty common policy(at least in the U.S.), esp at larger companies.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I have always wondered why.

            At my former company I assumed it was because someone raised the, “we could get sued” flag, which is why many of our policies were in place.

        2. Development professional*

          Sometimes there are other requirements for this kind of thing that aren’t universally required, though. For example, I have worked for a nonprofit that had a bond with the city (to pay for one of their buildings) which, as a condition of the bond, required that all jobs be posted on the city’s jobs board for one day before they could be posted anywhere else. And that requirement stuck even if the job wasn’t otherwise going to be advertised at all, although they did post all jobs as a matter of policy. So, they did have a legal binding document that required them to advertise, even though there was not a city, state or federal law that would require all other employers to do the same.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            Totally get that. Union jobs are often required to be posted as well.

            It was more just a comment on the fact that most employers, especially private companies, are under no obligation to post their positions at all and the fact that “handbook/policy required” often gets translated into a “legally required” job myth.

        3. Stranger than fiction*

          I wonder if it’s just to give the appearance of going through a diverse set of candidates. You know, like checking off a box that they tried.

          1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

            I feel like everything at my former job was “in case we get sued.”

            But we were one of the top 5 employers in a mid-size city, who often recruited people from other areas to move there (I was a transplant). I think there was often a concern about making it seem like jobs were accessible to the larger community.

      4. Stranger than fiction*

        That’s exactly right, Alison. I’ve been muttering under my breath the lost couple of years about how our last few hires have been questionable at best. I remember the hiring manager/s saying things like they didn’t get enough response, or they were in a hurry to fill the spot so “this person will do” kind of thing.

    3. jamlady*

      One of the reasons this is a good sign for the company is that it shows they’re thorough and investing in their company and employees. For example, the position I have now was previously held by someone who was hired after 3 weeks of searching – she was very toxic, tried to convince another department to let her take over, and promptly sued the company. They couldn’t fire her (retaliation) until she sent an office-wide email cussing out her boss and saying horrible things about other employees. When I was hired, they went through 6 months to be sure. The previous hire put them months behind and completely the departments moral. It’s a very good thing when a company invests in a hiring process – it’s a good sign that the people you’d potentially work with were well-vetted and that, if given an offer, you’d fit in well with the team. And along with that comes better productivity and all that which leads to a happy situation for everyone.

      1. Mirilla*

        I agree with this! It’s always a good sign when a company is thorough in their hiring process, which generally means interviewing more than two candidates, which is what our company did with the last open position.

        Also, I think I may be working with that woman you mentioned! Or her personality twin. She was one of the two candidates mentioned above.

    4. neverjaunty*

      It sounds as though you’re very hopeful about the position, but you’re sort of looking at everything through that lens instead of considering why the company might still look for other candidates. They’re not trying to make you feel “less special”. They’re trying to find the best candidate for the job. That you got there first doesn’t mean they should stop and not consider any other applicants unless they decide not to hire you.

      1. Georgina*


        Thanks Allison (your feedback is very insightful) and everyone for your comments. I understand when that companies are hiring they want to get the best person for the job. I’ve been done this road before to know that and want good hiring looks like (and the flip side of that).

        In saying that, when I said “I felt less special” I just assumed they would have waited to interviewed me since they hadn’t put up the ad yet but that was obvious naive of me.

        – Mean something : I get that if you don’t hire anyone new into the organisation, you don’t get any ‘fresh blood’ and new ideas and that people need to get into the organisation somehow so that’s totally fair.

        -Jam Lady: It just shows you how one person can ruin it for everyone else. Sometimes I don’t understand how people like that get into work in the first place. So I can understand fully (even if 6 months seems ecessive) why the next time your company hired they would want to take thier time as to avoid what happened last time completely .

        Thanks to those for their well wishes for the interview.

        1. A Dispatcher*

          Thing is, you cold called them. It’s not like they recruited you. It was random luck you happened to catch them just before they put up the ad, and I wouldn’t fault the company at all for not waiting to interview you before posting the ad just because you happened to have good timing.

          I do wish you the best of luck though!

          1. Jen S. 2.0*

            Not only that, but it’s not even a safe assumption that you were the first, last, or only person being interviewed after you got in by cold calling. Perhaps they had other resumes on file. Perhaps they were working with a recruiter who has a pool of resumes. Perhaps they had a few internal candidates. All are possible, and even highly likely. We’re not trying to burst your bubble, but there are many ways to land an interview, none of which guarantee that you’ll be the only one seen.

            Your getting an interview is a great step, but it’s not their goal to make you feel special, and it’s not their goal to make a hire with as little effort as possible. It is their goal to interview a good cross-section of candidates to make sure they’re making the best possible hire.

            We all feel your pain, and we’d all love to find the magic words to make us the winner, but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Wishing you lots of luck, though!

        2. MK*

          But why assume they would have waited to interview you before advertising the job? It’s like you expected them to hold off their normal hiring process till you interviewed, which is neither naive or idealistic, it’s just totally unreasonable.

          And the use of the “special” is inappropriate here. To be blunt, there is nothing special about cold-calling a company or even getting an interview; the whe interview process is about deciding if you are the “special” one that is right for the job.

          1. Georgina*

            Oh ok, I get it already. No need to rub it in . Unemployment, job hunting and interviewing is an emotionally exhaustive process that I never want to go through again so excuse me if for once I want to be considered ‘special’ for once.

            I won’t go on further as I don’t want this to turn into a Youtube style s**tstorm.

            1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

              Would it help if you thought that you managed to get in to interview before any other candidates and without needing to go through the written application? That’s pretty lucky. A teacher once told me that when marking work the first work tends to be marked far more sympathetically than the last, because you get more and more work to compare it to as you work through; I don’t know if it’s the same for job hunting, but there certainly might be a small advantage to getting in first.

              1. snuck*

                Actually… it can be the same for job hunting… if you are only interviewing a few people. Down the track you have more to compare to. And last people can be the tail end of interview boredom/fatigue.

                But it doesn’t win you much, you still have to be stellar to get the job….

              2. Sophia in the DMV*

                I teach and I actually have found the opposite. I’m more harsh for the first thing I grade than the last. That’s why I make sure to go over all the papers again to make sure I’m grading fairly

                1. Anonymous Educator*

                  Same here. But I also found just using a well-constructed rubric helped me to rest easy on being fair in grading.

                2. Koko*

                  Yeah, when I was a TA in grad school I actually marked in pencil the first go-round because halfway through the stack I’d often realize that my standards were too high because no one is getting above a 90. So then I’d go back and adjust up the first few grades to reflect my now lowered expectations.

            2. BRR*

              I think that’s pretty harsh. I completely get it’s a hard process, I’ve been through it twice in the 4 years I’ve been in the professional working world. But the reality is special treatment rarely exists in the hiring world. Even if the hiring manager says, “I used to work with Jane, she’s the best employee ever because of A,B, and C and I want to hire her,” often times Jane still has to go through a process and they’ll bring in other candidates to interview. The fact they responded to your InMail is pretty special though.

            3. LBK*

              Yikes, that’s a little harsh and a bit rude to the comment section here since we are generally leagues above the cesspool of YT.

              The point is, it’s important to remain realistic throughout a job hunt specifically because it’s emotionally exhausting. If you’re setting yourself up with unrealistic perceptions about what’s going to give you a leg up on getting a job, it’s only going to crush you more and more if you get rejected. That seems to be exactly what caused the situation that led you to write in to Alison: you had a somewhat misaligned perception of where you stood with this process, which led you to feel bad when the company did something completely standard (ie posting a job ad). Wouldn’t you have preferred to start out with the impression that you were on even ground with any other candidate so you wouldn’t have felt so dejected at finding it out later?

              Mentally repositioning each opportunity as one you don’t expect to get and then allowing yourself to be pleasantly surprised if things move forward is a lot better for your psyche than getting hyped up over each signal you think the company is sending only to find out your interpretation was wrong.

              1. the gold digger*

                If you’re setting yourself up with unrealistic perceptions about what’s going to give you a leg up on getting a job, it’s only going to crush you more and more if you get rejected.

                I read Admiral Stockdale’s book about being a POW in Vietnam. In it, he says he thinks the reason a lot of the prisoners died of a broken heart – they believed their captors when the captors said they would be out by Christmas or Easter or whatever. They were too optimistic.

                Jobhunting is so, so hard and so demoralizing. Hang in there – and be a little bit cynical. That way, you get to be happily surprised when things go well instead of being disappointed all the time.

            4. Oryx*

              Georgina, it sounds like you’re having a pretty visceral and emotional reaction to some of the comments. I think we all agree that job hunting and interviewing is stressful but the regular readers here are just trying to help put things in perspective. Nobody is rubbing it in or trying to make you feel worse, they are just trying to help you see the process from a realistic point of view. That doesn’t mean this is going to get ugly.

                1. Georgina*


                  Yes it was largely due to the one comment but it was also due to the emotional build up of other things. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have reacted so strongly to the comment. I just don’t like people telling me that my feelings are wrong (that is how I interpreted anyway).

                  To that commentator who said wouldn’t you rather be kept on a level playing field than be offered the job without them interviewing other people? Well no, I’d love them to interview me and then offer me the position. I’d love to not compete with others for a job. Don’t we all? The waiting game is awful, particularly when you are unemployed. And as commentators have also agreed, its an emotionally tough process. I think the toughest being for me that you’re supposed to be confident going in to an intrview (even if you don’t feel it) and not knowing what could happen in the interview and afterwards. Partucarly if you really like them and not wanting to get too attached. It annoys me that you can put yourself out there compeltely and they can treat you back with little decency (unfortunately this has happend to me recently). Plus the expectations from other people (PSA: Don’t constantly ask people looking for work how the job search is going. Ideally, not at all if its a diffucult/competive indusstry work to get work in. Ask them about anything else. Anything! It may seem well meaning but if you’re having to answer it repeatly from differnet people you being to feel lik eyou’re in a press junket of your own life).

                  I can see that interviewers as a safety precaution need to interview more than one person. Revolver Rani – I see why your manager wants to interview more than one person based on past experience. I can’t believe some people act in that way. Again, it only takes one person to ruin the process or how people see a certian demogrpahic for evermore.

                  Thanks everyone for your insights in the recuritment process. I find it really helpful to get ‘the other side’s’ persepctive so to speak’.

                  It felt quite good to get my feeling out above :)

            5. Revolver Rani*

              It might help to keep this in mind: at my employer, even when we have a candidate that we love and are ready to extend an offer to, we keep the listing open and continue to screen resumes and conduct further interviews.

              This is because you never know whether you have actually filled the position until you have extended an offer and the offer is accepted. There are still many things that can derail a hire, even when the candidate seems like a great fit – maybe her references won’t pan out, maybe she will accept an offer elsewhere, maybe salary negotiations will fall through, maybe the start-date she needs is too far in the future.

              My manager got burned by this once – she had a candidate ready to hire and stopped screening resumes, and then after a month or so of negotiations the candidate went elsewhere and my manager had lost a lot of time on the job search.

              So even if they think you are the absolute number 1 person for the job – well, number 1 candidates usually have options, and it’s only prudent for the employer to carry on with the search until the last i is dotted.

              1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

                This! We were ready to hire on a pretty senior position and the process started extending quite a bit, nothing significant but enough heel dragging that the hiring manager should have noticed.

                Turns out the candidate’s husband was negotiating an offer out of state, and the candidate ended up turning down on our offer. The hiring manager had stopped looking, taken down the job posting, etc. and had to start all over again.

            6. Stranger than fiction*

              Also, there’s a good chance they had already planned and scheduled to post the job on Wednesday (or whatever day it was) and your interview just happened to have been scheduled on Wednesday too.

            7. neverjaunty*

              Yes, it’s an emotional and difficult process, and it’s going to be very painful if you stake your feeling of self-worth or feeling ‘special’ on what an employer does. They don’t know you, they’ve got a business goal, and they are not going to act in ways that are meant to confirm that you are a good and competent person. They’re not scheduling other job interviews at you. Yep, it’s disappointing when you get your hopes up like this – but detach, detach, detach. Trying to be ‘special for once’ through the job hunting process is a recipe for getting emotionally kicked in the teeth, no matter how competent you are.

        3. Koko*

          What some of these stories others are sharing amount to is that companies who have been around the hiring block enough times begin to do things a certain way to avoid certain common pitfalls like your top candidate refusing your offer leaving you back at square one, or investing a lot of time in the hiring process only to make a bad hire, waste more time training them, and then be back at square one. They learn from their mistakes and implement certain ways of doing things to reduce the odds of it happening again.

          One of those things that experienced companies do is to always, always, always interview as many candidates as you can. It’s not that you’re not special enough – it’s that nobody is special enough for an experienced company to put all their eggs in the basket that is you without seeing what other baskets are out there. So please don’t feel like it reflects on you or your candidacy. It just means the employer is doing their due diligence.

    5. Evie*

      Hi Georgina- I’m in Australia too. And I don’t know that you mentioned if you’re applying for a government or tertiary job? But I know (from working at a uni) that even if there aren’t laws requiring it – and I don’t think there are for like corporate jobs or small business or whatever – there can be regulations eg in government jobs or university hiring. I know where I work even if we have people in mind who’d be good for the job (because they’ve temped or whatever and we’ve seen their work) it is a requirement that the job is advertised in at least x ways (both inside and outside the uni, via various platforms etc). And it is meant to stop cronyism and old-boys-clubs and whatnot so it’s important – but it can be annoying for both parties!

      1. LENEL*

        Evie, you beat me to it! Your comment wasn’t appearing when I started writing, sorry for any duplication!

    6. LENEL*

      Congratulations on the interview! I am also an Australia so I am able to provide a little additional information based on my fairly limited understanding of Australian Employment Law (non-practicing lawyer!).

      If the job is in any tier of government (particularly State or Federal) they will be required to undertake a process and do scoring etc. as the documents for the process will be subject to document retention and access requests. Off the top of my head and depending on what state you’re in, I’m not sure whether this is a legal requirement or a policy requirement (though that is as good as a legal one for government organisations). For appointments in government there are also processes for challenging appointments where the process has not been conducted fairly.

      If it’s not a government job there are no requirements that a proper recruitment process be undertaken, however as Alison and others have said, hiring the first candidate doesn’t often provide a robust process which is why, regardless of how strong the first candidate is, the rest of the process usually proceeds as per normal. While not legally required, many organisations still have policies in place to prevent nepotism and provide administrative fairness for hiring processes even though they’re not required to do so!

      All of that said, don’t be disheartened by the position being advertised. It sounds like the process is not a protracted one. It’s definitely understandable that you’re excited at being brought in so early, but the only thing you can do now is to sit tight and move on to applying for other opportunities. All the best with your search and your candidacy!

  4. A Dispatcher*

    #5 was there recently some kind of issue where an employee left and perhaps got into an accident due to being ill? I could see why your company might react to that, but I think rather than force people not to drive, merely offering to provide a ride is actually very kind.

    More likely Alison is right though and it’s meant as a discouragement to going home sick.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I initially thought it was kind until I figured most people wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of coming back for their car. I wasn’t feeling well and my mom offered to pick me up from work. I contemplated this and then realized what a clusterf*ck getting my car back (or getting another ride again) would be.

    2. Juli G.*

      That’s what I was thinking. I was also thinking that if the rumors are true on this Oklahoma State incident (a big if), this sort of thing may become more common.

      1. InfoGeek*

        Her lawyer is saying it’s not alcohol, but that he’s concerned about her mental state.

        They did say that she left work before the scheduled end of her shift. Are there rumors saying that she left because she was ill?

        The story I’m seeing now is that she was fired. You definitely wouldn’t want a terminated employee to leave his/her car behind…..

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t know if I’d be in a great mental state either, if I had an accident in which I killed people. I’d probably be catatonic. We’ll have to see what happens in the coming days. She would get a medical evaluation, I assume.

        2. Krystal*

          It’s a common strategy in DUI cases. He can’t very well establish that someone else was driving the car, so he needs to try and paint her as mentally ill to build a defense.

          Source: atty who knows a bunch of public defenders and who lost a relative to DUI (and the killer’s attorney used the same strategy)

    3. BRR*

      I can easily see this being a big CYA move or at least part CYA. But they’re ignoring that sick doesn’t equal violently ill.

      1. coyote_fan*

        I had a friend go work for BP, and if they worked past X hours a day (I think it was 12), they were forced to take a company paid towncar home and back the next day. They didn’t want any chance of being named in a lawsuit in an accident of one of their employees.

        1. Karowen*

          I think the key difference is (a) the company is paying for it and (b) they have a threshold that must be met.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, if that’s the case, it was probably someone who took way too much medication to be driving. A simple manager asking “are you ok to drive home?” would suffice otherwise.

    4. Colette*

      Interestingly, it might result in more people who are not 100% staying home in the first place, because if they go in and then find they’re not well enough to be at work, they won’t have access to their car.

      (Of course, I’m not sure how they police this – if you say someone is coming to pick you up and then leave, they wouldn’t be able to see you drive away in a lot of places.)

      1. Allison*

        I’d like to think this was the case, but there are better ways to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick. My company, for example, actually has posters up around the office telling people not to bring their germs to work. Managers are super understanding if someone e-mails them saying “I need to work from home today, I’m not feeling well” or “I need to take a sick day, I have the flu.”

        At this job, I’ve never had someone give me a hard time for needing to work from home. No one’s ever “jokingly” implied, at least not to my face, that I was faking when I said I was sick; never no one’s ever said in a suspicious tone “gee, you sure get sick a lot . . .” implying that they think I’m lying, and no one’s ever said “ahh, are you sure you’re sick? fine, okay, whatever”; no one’s ever admired someone who’s never taken a sick day, or someone who came to work sick so they could get the job done; so I’ve never felt that I needed to suck it up, nor have I felt like I needed to go to work sick to show everyone I was sick and wait for them to tell me to go home.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Mine is really good about that too. They do NOT want you in here if you are sick. At Exjob, my backup didn’t even get there until 11:30, so I would have to go in and work until he did. Then I could go home. Nine times out of ten, I could fight it off and be back at work the next day, but a couple of times, I had to take an extra day. And I was front desk, so it was PTO or no pay. At least at this job, I can actually do my work from home.

      2. MashaKasha*

        (Of course, I’m not sure how they police this – if you say someone is coming to pick you up and then leave, they wouldn’t be able to see you drive away in a lot of places.)

        Came here to write this. My parents did it once (that I know of.) Dad went in for a minor procedure where the patient is not allowed to drive afterwards. His plan was that Mom, who doesn’t really drive, but knows how to do it, passed the test, has a license etc., would drive him around the corner and then they switch places. Mom freaked out and was afraid to drive even around the corner, so they called me. I arrive at the hospital to give Dad a ride, only to find out that the “ride” is from the hospital door to his car in the parking lot. I gave him his ride and he happily drove off. TBH, if I worked at OP5’s place and knew someone working/living close to my office, that’s what I would do – park around the corner and have that person come give me a “ride”. Or just park around the corner, walk to my car, and leave.

      3. INTP*

        Yep. I don’t know how many times I’ve felt sick-ish, and told myself that I’d go into work and leave at noon if I was just too out of it, and wound up staying the whole day. With this policy, I’d just have called out to start with. Hopefully others do the same and the company will have to rethink the policy.

    5. Daisy*

      I was wondering this as well. A few years ago my brother left work sick. He was swerving on the highway and got pulled over. He was obviously sick and not drunk so the officer let him go. About 5 miles later he passed out, hit a guardrail and totalled his car. He was okay luckily but his head did hit the windshield and he got stitches.

      1. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, I would like this policy if it were optional.

        I get really bad migraines sometimes. One night at one of my other jobs I was closing the store, and couldn’t get anyone to come in and cover for me so I had to stay until the end of the night.

        I was feeling terrible before I left work, but I had no other way to get home besides driving. If I had a friend who could have picked me up I would have done so. I had no money for a taxi (and would have had to get a ride back to get my car before 6AM the next day as we had to park on the street and there were parking meters that ran from 6AM-6PM.)

        My drive home was like 15 minutes and like maybe 5 miles.

        I wound up having to pull over to the side of the road and vomit several times before I got home. During the last time I pulled over (like 1/4 mile from my house) a cop pulled up behind me and put his flashers on. I’m pretty sure he thought I was drunk. After a little bit of talking he was convinced that I was not in fact drunk, just miserable. But he followed me the last bit of the way home to make sure I got there safely.

    6. INTP*

      This was my first thought. Either the company had an incident like this, or became aware of such an incident that resulted in a lawsuit, and this is their method of CYA-ing without regard for employee convenience. A blanket ban is easier than teaching individual managers to pick out people that might be unsafe to drive.

      The other likely possibility was mentioned previously in the comments, that they want to discourage people from leaving work sick. Maybe they are just stingy with the sick time or maybe they do have a genuine problem with people leaving “sick” at 4pm.

      Either way, I don’t think it’s fair to place this type of inconvenience on employees to protect the company a wee bit. But I think those are the likely explanations.

    7. TLake*

      Employer’s can be held liable for letting sick employees drive home if they cause a accident. US court case regarding below.
      (Bussard v. Minimed Inc., 105
      Cal. App. 4th 798, Cal. App., 2nd Dist.)
      My mom’s company adopted a similar policy, you get 3 options to choose from 1) they call a ambulance, 2) a supervisor drives you home, 3) you have a family member pick you up.

      1. Lizzie*

        This is such a ridiculous policy, honestly, and is a recipe for disaster for people who 1) can’t afford a damn ambulance ride which is likely why they are at work sick in the first place, 2) need their car to get back to work because public transit is unreliable/inaccessible, or 3) live in a city where they have no family to come and pick them up from work.

        Fear of people being litigious has overtaken common sense, I swear.

  5. Stephanie*

    #1: Is the replacement cost low enough just to keep the status quo? I get that it’s frustrating, but I could see making the plastic cutlery usage a rate A Thing resulting in grumbling employees (“this cheap company is nickel and diming me over plastic forks. You know, my salary could be higher. Maybe our competitor is hiring.”). Or perhaps look into some cheap stainless steel stuff from a restaurant supply store.

    1. Evie*

      Also #1 – I think there can be concerns when considering going from disposable stuff to proper cutlery/plates/etc about who is responsible for cleaning up the dishes and kitchen area etc. we deal with it by everyone mostly looking after their own stuff, but also having a roster of it being someone different’s job each week to do a general tidy each day- means it’s spread out and there’s accountability. Most people do it in the evening, some find it easier to do it in the morning (except the dishwasher) a couple of people are part time so person A might do it mon-wed, and person B thurs-fri.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      All my old departments supplied either plastic or stainless steel cutlery, but my current department supplies nothing (unless we have party leftovers). I’ve taken to keeping my own lunch/snack set at my desk, consisting of a small plate, a cereal-size bowl, a snack-size bowl, a couple of forks, a spoon, and a table knife. Oh, and also a cloth napkin that I change out regularly, because were often out of paper towels or napkins.

      I agree with other commenters that the OP is probably seeing completely normal use of the disposable supplies, not intentional theft.

    3. MashaKasha*

      I agree with AMA on #1 too. Who steals plastic forks? Why would people steal plastic forks? Is there a black market for plastic forks that I didn’t know about? They’re probably just using them, throwing them away after one use, then coming back for more. If I got an email like that, my reaction would be not “this company is being cheap”, but “my employer isn’t making any sense”, which IMO is an even worse perception of an employer.

      Personally I have been bringing my own silverware, every day, for the last five years or so. It started at OldJob after I saw a teammate reach way inside his pants from the back while talking to someone, proceed to pick his butt for a good five minutes, then go and help himself to a communal lunch in the breakroom (and the plastic cutlery, of course). I never used office cutlery since. Maybe OP#1 can rent him for a reasonable fee so he can do a demo in their office, to lower the cutlery usage.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I can see people I work with doing this. I can also see them going through them way faster than they would if it were their own. Like, “Oh, I’m going to use this spoon for my soup, this other spoon for my jello, this knife to stir my coffee (which I’ll throw away and then use another knife to spread a pat of butter on this cracker*), this fork for the vegetables in my soup,” etc. My coworkers are generally lovely people, but they are a living, breathing example of the tragedy of the commons. Any economics teacher who wants to demonstrate how that principle works should just swing by my office one day.

        *I used to think this was gross, but so many of my coworkers do it that I can only conclude I’m the weird one for not liking it.

        1. MashaKasha*

          Yikes. This “plastic silverware” isn’t too great for the environment as it is, much less when everyone goes through five sets in one workday.

          Butter on a cracker actually might sound tasty, depending on the cracker. Mmmm Finn crisp and butter.

    4. Maxwell Edison*

      For a while, my last employer had the plastic cutlery under lock and key (this should have been a sign to us all that the employer was turning toxic). Finally someone broke the drawer and the lock, and the employer stopped providing plastic cutlery altogether.

      I once worked for an ad agency where management was convinced we were all operating office supply businesses out of our cubes, because the supplies would go like hotcakes whenever they were replenished. What was happening was that because the supplies were replenished so infrequently, everyone would stock up on pens, legal pads, etc. so we wouldn’t run out. So management made us fill out supply request forms for every item we needed. Employees (including me, I don’t mind admitting) got very passive aggressive and would turn in separate forms for one pen, one box of paper clips, etc.

      1. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

        This! My company wonders why supplies “go missing” as soon as they are restocked.

        There is nothing worse than going to the cupboard to grab a pen, notepad, post-it and staring at an empty cupboard. It turns normal people into hoarders.

  6. Mookie*


    What is the “politically correct” way to tell everyone to stop stealing?

    Using and then disposing of plastic cutlery is not stealing. As others have noted — and provided this doesn’t become a weekly or daily burden for some unfortunate and browbeaten female employee — investing in a few sturdy and inexpensive sets of flatware will keep your drawers full and encourage employees to re-use or clean as they go. Framing this as a behavioral issue on the part of employees misrepresents what’s the more likely explanation: the form of supplies are inefficient, and there’s not enough to go around.

    1. Mookie*

      Also, if you find that individual-sized sweeteners and “creamers” and the like are dwindling rapidly (and you appear to be concerned that people are palming their packets of Splenda), I’d switch over to bulk products, provided the breakroom is clean and pest-free. And if isn’t, but you’ve got a refrigerator, everything can be safely stored there.

      1. Mookie*

        Also too &c, charity shops and thrift stores are great sources for non-disposable dishware. Likely won’t be getting the complete set, but you can also guarantee that nobody’ll be envious enough to steal your supplies (unless you make the same mistake I did and share some of your more “gently used” Universal Ballerina dishes with your department).

        1. Zillah*

          I think, though, that it’s rarely about someone being so envious they intentionally steal the office cutlery. Far more often, it’s just people being absent-minded, which happens no matter how expensive the cutlery is.

        2. MashaKasha*

          Most of my dishware at home came from dollar stores and flea markets. Agree that both are excellent sources.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I need to look for a bowl. I had a plastic one, but I left it in the kitchen and somebody nicked it. >:( Maybe I’ll find a goofy cartoon one at a flea market and they’ll leave it alone.

            1. Happy Lurker*

              No one ever stole my Grimace (purple guy from McDonalds) mug at my first job. I was sad when his plastic feet fell off.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      It’s possible, though, that some people are stealing them. It seems much more likely that people are just using a lot of them, but I didn’t get the impression from the question that it was clear they definitely weren’t stealing.

      1. MashaKasha*

        But, like, why? I can understand stocking up on office supplies, taking them home, and gifting them to everyone in your extended family, or sending your kids to school with them. But plastic cutlery? what use would anyone have for plastic cutlery outside of an office? Unless they’re stocking up for a camping trip or something?

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          I know people who use plasticware at home, sometimes for things like kids birthday parties, and sometimes for more regular use.

  7. Ellen N.*

    I used to work in an office where stainless steel forks, knives and spoons were supplied. They were all constantly disappearing. One of my assistants left and we found numerous pieces in his desk. I visited a coworker at her home and saw her daughter eating with one of the forks from work. I found the only utensils that were always available (if I forgot to bring my own) were chopsticks from take out because most employees didn’t know how to use chopsticks.

    LW #5 If your employer requires you to have someone drive you home if you’re sick aren’t they exposing the driver to your germs and probably getting the driver sick?

    1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      #5 – maybe, but there’s also a whole lot of “sick” that would stop you working that isn’t contagious – from food poisoning to headaches to sprained limbs and so on. And for some of them, yes, you won’t be able to drive; in which case, a workplace which encourages employees to help each other out would be a fantastic place to work. Mandating it, though, is too far!

      1. Anonyde*

        So much this! Out of the over 20 sick days I had this year (yes, 2015 sucked), 2 were for something that were contagious. For all the others, I wasn’t, I was usually capable of driving, but not capable of working.

    2. Not the Droid You are Looking For*

      We had an employee who was terminated at my last job and I helped her manager clean out her desk. There was a drawer of dishes :(

      1. Chinook*

        “There’s the answer- supply chopsticks. Teach your employees new skills while they eat!”

        As someone who figured out how to eat yogurt with chopsticks (because only certain brands of single serve yogurt containers in Japanese convenience stores come with a spoon), I say that it is a great skill to acquire because, suddenly, all you need are two sticks and you can feed yourself without getting your fingers dirty.

  8. Chocolate Teapot*

    I know Ikea sells cheap packs of cutlery and personally I hate using plastic forks when trying to stab a particularly hard piece of salad. Fortunately my office has a dishwasher!

  9. Rebecca*

    #5 I’m probably being very cynical here, but it sounds like this employer is trying to make it very cumbersome for people to leave work when they’re sick. I wonder what prompted this? It really makes no sense. If people have paid sick leave, then they need to be allowed to take it. If they don’t, and they’re non-exempt, they’re not getting paid for time not in the office. Is it a staffing issue? Perhaps they’re so lean in staffing that they can’t afford to have one person out unexpectedly? I really wish the OP could weigh in here. So many questions.

    1. Nashira*

      I’d be willing to bet it’s a staffing issue. My office is starting to run into problems because two of the four support staff are using intermittent FMLA right now, and the other two fluctuate between unable and unwilling to provide backup. Shoot, when I filed my paperwork, I was told no one would help cover my desk when I’m out.

      It’s very frustrating, and part and parcel of the atmosphere our remote manager has worked diligently to create. Influenza, internal bleeding, crippling migraines, who cares? Come to work anyway.

      1. Ben*

        As the writer of this, a few years ago they change this from a vacation and sick Bank to a PTO Bank. When they did this our unscheduled PTO, or sick time, went to a no-fault system. This meant that we no longer had to give a reason why we were calling off work. You do this when people would be denied time off, they would start calling in unscheduled PTO. This in turn created more overtime as we have to have a minimum number of staff on to run our building. As what’s being said a lot, this seems to be their way to make it almost impossible for us to go into work get sick and leave.

        1. MashaKasha*

          This is interesting. When I started at my first job that had PTO instead of vacation/sick, my first thought was “oh crap, now I can’t get sick, it’ll come out of my vacation.” But then, I’ve never been denied vacation.

          Can they consider switching back to vacation/sick, since PTO, combined with their other planning issues, seems to be backfiring on them?

          Also my gut feeling just told me that their next move might be to cut PTO, since this ridiculousness is not going to work the way they think it will. Looks like they’ve switched to a policy that is spinning out of control, and are now grabbing at straws to still make things work. I understand where they’re coming from – you DO need to have a minimum number of staff on to run the building – but they’re creating a mess and then trying to resolve the issues by doing things that create an even bigger mess. And there are probably a LOT of people on this site who know how to go about making PTO work; unfortunately I’m not one of them, this is way out of my area of expertise.

          1. A Dispatcher*

            I also work somewhere with minimum staffing and a lot of overtime. Your choices pretty much are to hire more people so you have adequate coverage even when people call in sick and/or leave during the day, deal with hiring OT, or like you said, cut PTO (and then deal with the effects of burnout and higher turnover, which may or may not create more OT due to training new employees depending on what you do – for us, a new employee doesn’t count as part of the numbers for months, so you are paying two people for one spot during that time).

  10. BRR*

    #1 not really mentioned but if you want to accept his resignation because he quit that’s also reasonable. But let him know that. Don’t just say you’re going to accept it and leave him hanging.

  11. Daisy*

    My husband’s company was about the size of the OP and they were getting annoyed with people not doing their dishes. They bought everyone a set of silverware and engraved people’s initials in them. If you lost/took them home you were on your own. Also people miraculously started washing their own once you could tell whose they were in the sink ;)

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I like this idea. You could engrave them with numbers instead, so they could be easily reassigned to other employees as needed.

      1. F.*

        That would work only until #007 can’t find their spoon and sees #99’s in the drawer, takes it and uses it, leaving it in the sink so people think #99 is a slob. Seriously, I just brought in a set of flatware and a bowl for myself from home. I wash it every time I use it and keep it in my desk drawer. Problem solved.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          The same problem would happen with initials. Either way, you’d probably still have to wash your dishes right away and keep them in your desk.

  12. Transformer*

    #3) It seems to me that if the recruited only gets commission to place someone if the recruiter owns the candidacy. Since you already worked there (aka the recruiter cannot own the candidacy), if you applied she would not get paid. I can see why the recruiter would not want to move you forward and would actively try to prevent you from applying.

    Is there anyway that you can respond that you didn’t get the recruiters email in time and that you have already reached out?

    1. MK*

      I don’t think that’s the case. A recruiter gets a commission for the people they propose for a specific job; it doesn’t matter if the candidate is already known to the company through other means, as long as the recruiter is the first to apply for this specific job on the candidate’s behalf.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Often it does matter — if the candidate is already in the company’s database or otherwise known to them, many contracts will exclude them from commission. After all, I’m not going to want to pay a finder’s fee to a recruiter for “finding” someone I already know.

    2. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

      Tbh, given the recruiter’s response, I would be highly tempted just to reach out to the old manager anyway with something like “I’m really sorry that you decided not to take my application further forwards as I’d have loved to have worked with you again. Would you be able to give any feedback?”

      I wouldn’t be too concerned about not being allowed to work with this recruiter again – it doesn’t sound like someone you want to work with! And perhaps I’m just suspicious, but I would be concerned that they hadn’t made the manager aware of the application; that would explain the overly hostile response. In any case, I highly doubt the ex-manager would mind you reaching out!

      1. AVP*

        Are we sure that the recruiter actually forwarded OP’s application and it was rejected? It seems like he might have decided not to pass it forward, in which case OP is fine to contact her old manager as if this hadn’t happened.

        1. The Artist Formally Known As UKAnon*

          Sorry, that’s what I meant in the second paragraph, but you phrased it much more lucidly!

          (It’s the clock change; I’m struggling to spell, let alone make sense)

        2. MashaKasha*

          That’s how I read it too – that OP#3 basically offered the recruiter a chance to forward OP’s application and potentially earn the commission, and the recruiter said no. If that’s the case then I don’t see how OP owes the recruiter anything at this point. I’d go ahead and apply. Yeah that will probably get OP blacklisted from that recruiter’s office. But he’s not the only recruiter on the market, and hasn’t been much help to OP anyway.

    3. Green*

      I once got a job that a recruiter refused to refer me for. (I googled the job listing on my own after they declined to refer me, figured out the original source and submitted my own application.) I didn’t think much of recruiters after that.

  13. Allison*

    3) It’s possible this client/employer was utilizing a recruiting agency begrudgingly (job is tough to fill, so they’re desperate, but would rather hire a direct applicant, employee referral, or someone sourced by the internal team if they can help it), and was only interested in talking to candidates from that agency who were 100% perfect for the job. It’s also possible, in fact probable, that someone in recruitment rejected your resume having no idea that you know the hiring manager. If I were you, I’d have reached out to the hiring manager while saying nothing to the agency recruiter. Worst case scenario, they confirm you’re not cut out for the role; best case scenario, you’re hired, and there may be some dispute with the agency about whether they get the commission or not, but that’s not your fight.

    4) In addition to wanting to see a wide range of candidates, it’s also possible that whoever was in charge of filling the role wanted to get some people in process just in case your interview didn’t work out. It’s always possible that the perfect candidate coming in for the final interview will either crash and burn while they’re in, or they’ll get to the offer stage but things fall apart in negotiation, or they accept but then fail the drug screen or background check, or they reneg. A lot of things can go wrong, and you never want to be back and square one will no viable candidates if you can help it.

    You got in the interview process before the job opened because you happened to contact the right person at the right time, and they felt you were a strong enough candidate to talk to about the role, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they thought you were perfect, or so great that they simply had to make an exception just for you.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Either way, on number 3, the recruiter didn’t handle him or herself professionally with their response. Goes to show how cutthroat that industry has become.

      1. Allison*

        Yep, and this is why I refuse to work for third party recruiting services, even working at an RPO kinda sucks because even if you’re paid a flat rate, the company is always breathing down your neck and nitpicking your numbers because if you don’t fill the roles and fill them fast, your company could lose the client.

  14. Employment Lawyer*

    Employer won’t let us drive home if we’re sick

    I work in Iowa. My place of employment is now telling us that if we leave work early for being sick, we are not allowed to drive home. They will either provide us a ride or have us set up a ride and leave our vehicle at work to be picked up at a later time. Once I’m off the clock, can they really force me not to drive home and leave my vehicle at work?
    My read: Nope. An employer doesn’t really have the ability to restrict how you get there or home, especially not if they are forcing you to leave your car there. (Lots of families have one car, for example, so this would have serious repercussions.) I can’t put my finger on it precisely, but I don’t think a court would look on it well.

    And of course, some states (like Mass.) have laws where that would obviously be illegal. Check with a local attorney.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But they can require everyone to take a company-sponsored shuttle bus in if they want, no? Can you point me in the right direction to the law you’re thinking it would violate? If I’m wrong on this, I want to correct it!

    2. Decimus*

      I am not a lawyer and am not a specialist in Iowa law, but I will say this is at the least opening them up to more liability than they expect. The most basic may be bailment; by preventing employees from driving home they are essentially taking custody of the employee’s car, which could make them liable if anything happened to it. It could also be false imprisonment, depending on how the Iowa law on that is drafted. That one could be more situation dependent. Finally it actually could expose the employer to legal liability if sick employees collapse on the property.

      Frankly the only possible way this might make sense is if they feel every ‘sick’ employee is actually showing up to work drunk.

    3. TLake*

      My mom’s work has a similar policy of not letting employees drive home if they’re unwell. They announced the new policy by describing it as legally protecting themselves against lawsuits if someone causes a accident while driving home sick, and like how bartenders can take away your car keys if they think your too impaired to drive safety.

      1. Ad Astra*

        That’s crazy, though, because bartenders are trusted to use their judgment to decide when someone’s had enough. A blanket ban on driving home when you’re sick eliminates any opportunity to use your judgment, and I would argue it’s far easier to tell if someone’s too ill to drive than to tell if they’ve had just one too many drinks.

  15. KR*

    Number 5 makes me think that the employer is just trying to make it difficult for employees to leave work sick. It’s definitely ridiculous and not well thought out. How are people supposed to make it to the doctor, or to work the next day, or to the pharmacy to buy some medicine? I also think it might be a way for them to look out for their employees with the thought train that someone driving home sick might be a hazard on the road. However, not all illnesses prevent someone from driving and to mandate them not driving home is ridiculous. These people are adults, they need to assume that they can tell when it’s safe for them to drive. If they were really stuck on this issue, they could perhaps try to educate employees on how to tell when you’re too sick or too tired to drive, offer the taxi vouchers if needed, educate employees on how some cough medicines can impair your ability to drive, the importance of taking it easy when you’re sick, ect.

    It kind of reminds me of the Project Grad that my school did after high school graduation way back(a kind of all-night lock in for seniors). I was considering going until I read the permission form where it said that all people attending the lock in would not be permitted to drive home and had to be picked up and signed out by a parent or guardian in the morning because they felt we had been awake too long to drive. I couldn’t fathom graduating high school and putting all that nanny bull behind me to have them mandate the very next day that as an 18-yr old adult I couldn’t decide for myself if I was too tired to drive home.

    1. Allison*

      They did that at my high school too! We didn’t think of it as a lock-in, even though it totally was. It was a huge party with a mechanical bull, DDR, a hypnotist, a DJ, a “make your own music video” booth, all spread out across the first floor of the school. But it was to prevent us from drinking and driving after graduation, so it would make sense if a party to prevent drunk driving would also want to prevent groggy driving. Although I forget if we needed to be signed out and picked up, I guess because my dad did pick me up anyway I didn’t think about whether it was mandatory.

    2. Mean Something*

      It may have been concern for attendees, but it was probably also liability–it’s a school-sponsored event, and while they’re not responsible for bad decisions you make after you leave, they quite reasonably didn’t want to create the conditions for a lot of groggy driving. Lawsuits follow.

      1. Kelly L.*

        And they probably also didn’t want students telling their parents they were going to the lock-in and then going off somewhere else! :D

        It does sound kind of silly with the assumption that everybody’s 18, but yeah, school-sponsored event, plus some people were probably actually younger (I graduated at 17, for example).

        1. Judy*

          For ours, I’m pretty sure I drove myself (and a few friends) there and back, but we did have to stay there until they unlocked us (7am?). If we wanted to leave before, then a parent had to sign us out.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          So true. I graduated before they started doing the locked down parties at the schools, but our “safe” place was the big amusement park with the mouse, and lots and lots of us got tickets to trick our parents into thinking we were attending when we were really going to keg parties instead.

    3. Tara R.*

      Ha, we all had to be dropped off at our prom (which came after our grad ceremony) by a parent, and signed in. To be fair, age of majority is 19 here, but it felt incredibly patronizing.

      The party I went to afterwards had what I thought was a much more sensible leaving policy, which was basically that you had to sign off on how you were getting home; you could get picked up by a parent/someone else’s parent, take a taxi, or spend the night and get your keys back no earlier than 10 the next morning to drive yourself home. (Although one of the kids who took that option still wasn’t sober enough to drive by *noon*, so they ended up calling him a cab anyway.)

  16. some1*

    For #1 when my old boss was in this situation he told my coworker, ” I don’t want you back if you’re going to be looking for another job” I think that’s a good stance to take because it doesn’t get into his performance

    1. F.*

      This. The job-hunting employee has already mentally “checked out” from his current job if he is to the stage of actively interviewing and accepting positions, even if they do fall through later. What’s to prevent it from happening again the next time a shiny new position comes along?

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Exactly. I can imagine it makes the employer feel like they’re second choice and who wants someone that’s not totally dedicated to you but is only buying time til #1 comes along? (I know a lot of people aren’t totally dedicated but the cats out of the bag now with this guy)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      The jobs vs. dating analogy just hit me–this is a great thing to say if an old boyfriend wants to try again. “I don’t want you back if you’re going to be looking for another girlfriend.”


  17. Allison*

    #5 reminds me of when I was in high school, and my mom would tell me that if I was too sick to go to school, I was too sick to be at the computer, and if I was well enough to sit at the computer, it meant I was well enough to go to school. The intention was probably two-fold: she wanted me to be resting when I was really sick, and she wanted me to only stay home when I was really sick, rather than use the sniffles as an excuse to stay home and goof around on Gaia all day.

    There may be a similar mindset here. OP #5’s employer figures that if someone is still able to drive, being at work may not be an ideal situation for them but they can probably stick it out through the end of the day. They don’t want people using every stress headache or post-lunch stomach cramp as an excuse to leave. To them, you’re not sick enough to leave unless you’re too sick to drive.

    1. I'm a Little Teapot*

      My elementary school principal told me when I was a child that if I was physically able to read in bed, I was well enough to come to school.

      Fortunately, my parents didn’t pay any attention to that crap.

      1. Allison*

        Man, that’s bonkers. My school had criteria too, but it wasn’t so much “A child that can do X should come to school,” it was more medical criteria, like you had to stay home for 24 hours after a fever and 12 hours after you vomited or had diarrhea. A cold wasn’t a good enough reason to stay home.

        1. Ad Astra*

          Really? I’ve never heard of a school giving guidelines about what constitutes “sick enough,” only guidelines about what’s “too sick” to send them to school.

          1. Allison*

            Hmm, maybe that was the intention. Maybe they meant “your kid doesn’t need to miss school just because of a cold,” but my parents and I interpreted it as “please don’t keep the kid home just because of a cold.”

            1. Ad Astra*

              To that point, I do remember a lot of my childhood colds being far less severe than any cold I get as an adult. It wouldn’t make sense to keep a kid home every time they got the sniffles, but my grown-up sniffles are always accompanied by body aches, chills, headache and fatigue.

              1. Arielle*

                I was just thinking that. I don’t remember ever staying home from school with a cold even in high school, but I was home from work for three days with a cold last week! (Granted, I worked from home and you can’t really do that as a kid.)

    2. Hlyssande*

      That’s not…actually true, though.

      When I’m too sick to work I can usually mindlessly skim tumblr with no issues, or watch youtube. It doesn’t mean I’d be able to pay attention in class or focus on work.

      1. Chocolate lover*

        Not to mention the physical energy required to get to school, along with going from class to class.

      2. Allison*

        Did I say I agreed with that line of thinking? I know there’s a huge difference between being able to browse the web and being able to engage to complete worksheets, engage in class discussions, take notes, participate in drama class, gym class, art class, etc.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Totally. Facebook is about the only thing (other than sleep) that I can do with, say, the flu. I can do it from my couch with no attention span whatsoever.

          1. Allison*

            Back when I was in high school, I couldn’t go online from the couch. I got my first laptop when I was a senior, but before that, I could only go online from the desktop in the family room. Tablets hadn’t been invented yet, and I’m not even sure if smartphones were around yet because I didn’t know anyone who had one.

        2. Hlyssande*

          I didn’t think you agreed with it. Your mom definitely had the wrongest of wrong ideas there because it’s totally not true.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, and sometimes I feel too crummy to get dressed, drive across town, and sit up at my desk in a cold office for hours, but I’m fine working under a blanket on the sofa.

    3. Naomi*

      Two problems, though.

      1. The employee might be technically able to work, but going home and resting instead will probably help them get well faster. (And depending on the nature of the job, the quality of their work for the rest of the day might be suspect.)

      2. If the employee is contagious, they should go home to avoid infecting the rest of the office, even if they’re technically well enough to power through work for the rest of the day.

      1. Allison*

        I should clarify, I’m not defending the mindset, I don’t agree with it, I’m only explaining it.

  18. Macedon*

    #1. In this business, that usually means they failed the drug test.

    …indulge my inappropriate curiosity, what industry would that be that failed drug tests are a frequent cause of missed job opportunities? Restaurant/retail?

    #2. A pack of mixed plastic cutlery holds some 25 sets of threes (knife, fork, spoon). If you’ve got 12 people in the office on the average, that means they each get roughly 2 spoons/forks/knives. Not sure how long you’d expect a single pack to last – two days actually sounds about right. Assuming they each go through just one spoon/fork/knife a day, that’d still mean they’d need 6 of each item / week, so you’d need 72 for the office for a five-day work week. Add the volatility of office attendance, adjust for the fact that people’re likely to drink at least two cups of coffee/tea and need a minimum of two spoons… the math’s not favouring that single pack, however large, is what I’m trying to say.

    (Also trying to figure out what weirds me out about calling plastic cutlery ‘silverware’. )

    #4. It’s common practice and usually a decent indication that the employer is open to different candidate profiles, rather than having a particular type of person in mind. They’re shopping around – that says nothing about you or your candidacy. It mostly communicates that they’re not in a particular rush and they’re open to reviewing their options. It’s a good sign that they wanted to interview you before even having the ad up, in any case!

    As for ad publishing costs – that I’m aware, the likes of Linkedin don’t tax for individual ads, as much as they do for membership status ( i.e: an employer status with an allocation of X job ads you can put / month, or with unlimited ads, so on). So I don’t think this is costing them much – maybe someone who works in HR/ advertises roles can chime in on this more reliable, though.

    #5. Sounds as if there’s a liability story there. Do you happen to work long/night hours?

    1. F.*

      #1) I’m not the OP, but failed drug tests are common in the construction industry. Our job offers are predicated on successful completion of a drug test and background check. Some of our clients, especially for major projects like power plants, steel mills, Army Corps of Engineers locks and dams, etc. require additional drug checks and background screens.
      #5) An attorney can correct me if I’m wrong, but if you leave work and are driving for your own purpose and on your own time, then I don’t see how the company can be held liable if you were to be in an accident. As for keeping people from taking unnecessary sick leave, then they will just call in “sick” for the entire day. Depriving a family of a vehicle, especially over the weekend, is something that will cause most employees to start looking elsewhere for employment.

      1. MKT*

        Ditto to the construction industry.
        This may be universal in all industries, but the insurance we carry requires drug tests, not to mention the government job sites we go to that require us to sign off that our employees are drug free.

      2. Macedon*

        Re: #5. See, I wonder if the employer isn’t somehow potentially open to suit if you get in an accident while departing their premises at night hours, especially if they know you are likely to be on cold medicine (a lot of which induces drowsiness).

        1. neverjaunty*

          But why would the employer be liable? That would mean the employer has a duty to prohibit employees driving after dark, which, good luck enforcing that one during the winter. Or that the employer should assume that any employee with a cold is using drowsiness-inducing cold medicine.

          If we’re imagining possible liability scenarios, what if the employee comes back and finds their car stolen overnight? Or is hit by a car because they had to take the bus, and the route between work and the bus stop is along a dangerous road?

          I’m sure this is exactly what others have speculated – a policy to make it so burdensome to go home sick that employees just won’t bother.

      3. Erin*

        Exactly – they’ll call in sick for the entire day. Reason number 87 this is a bad policy. At least if they were there and left early they could tie up loose ends and make sure everything is in place for the day or two they’ll be out.

      4. BRR*

        Similarly to construction my MIL is HR for a auto parts factory. There’s a standing posting for line workers. The pay is ok for the area but they commonly fail the drug test. She can’t keep enough people employed (going to throw in she can’t raise the pay to get better people, she’s pretty low level and her bosses don’t give a shit).

    2. edj3*

      #1, also engineering, construction, utilities–anything with a possibility of lethal accidents or where things are being designed or built. You wouldn’t want your bridge designed by someone on drugs, right?

      1. Meg Murry*

        Very common in manufacturing as well (although some facilities that are still union shops have managed to keep it our of their contracts, or allow it only for new hire or work-related accidents).

        Although a failed drug test isn’t necessarily a 100% given as to that is why the employee in scenario #1 had a job fall through – we’ve seen plenty of stories on here of people who have had offers pulled for other reasons, such as hiring freezes, downsizing or just overall screw ups on the part of the hiring company.

      2. Owl*

        I’m in engineering and I’ve yet to encounter a required drug test (except for jobs that were in county or state government). I don’t mind if my bridges are designed by people using drugs in their free time. They’re probably less stressed out.

        1. the gold digger*

          I am guessing you are in a field where employers compete for employees rather than the other way around. My husband had no drug testing in his Silicon Valley days, but I, as a dime a dozen MBA, have never had a job that did not require it, even when I was not in manufacturing or transportation.

        2. Stephanie*

          I had to do one for an offer for an engineering role at a big aerospace company. They do happen!

          1. periwinkle*

            Heck, I had one as a condition of my offer HR roles at a big aerospace company and a medium-sized health care alliance. Probably easier to require it for everyone than to single out specific roles (and risk the perception of discrimination in hiring practices).

        3. Judy*

          I’ve been in engineering roles for 20 years, and every job I’ve had required pre-employment drug screening. All of the companies had statements in their policies about random drug screening and screening after an incident. I’m not sure any of them do random screening, as I’ve never heard of anyone being selected, but I know that they enforce the “after incident” screening. Usually an incident that is enough to require a drug test is defined like property damage of $X or injury that requires stitches.

      3. Rat in the Sugar*

        Well, I wouldn’t want them to be actually high when they were doing it, but drug tests don’t detect that, they only detect past usage. I don’t care if the guy building my bridge does drugs on the weekend, as long as he’s sober when he shows up for work.

    3. the gold digger*

      what industry would that be that failed drug tests are a frequent cause of missed job opportunities?

      Don’t know about frequent, but I can cite two instances I know of for sure.

      1. Admin for a member association – my friend who was hiring was super ticked off because she hadn’t liked any of the other candidates and she had told the candidate who got the offer that there would be a drug test – and the candidate still failed

      2. Financial analyst for a chemical manufacturing company – My friend is the controller and he, too, was ticked off . He explained that’s why they always wait to notify the other candidates that they do not have the job – they might have to go with their number two option if number one fails the test.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        How much notice was there of the drug test? As far as I know cannabis can stay in the body for something like 28 days after use, other drugs remain in the body for much less time but I guess could show up depending on how the test is taken (blood, urine or hair follicle)

        1. edj3*

          When I worked for a large international engineering company, it was clear from the beginning that candidates would be drug tested, and moreover that random drug tests could and would be done throughout the entire time you worked for that company.

          Even if your job wasn’t designing power plants or bridges, you could still get drug tested. We had a newish VP let go from HR for failing a random drug test about a year into his time there. They said what they meant and they followed up on the policy.

        2. some1*

          Whenever I had to take one, I believe they mentioned it in the job ad. And as far as taking the actual test. I had to do so within a certain amount of time of the offer (24 to 48 hours, I believe.)

        3. T3k*

          From what Mythbusters did, poppy seeds can cause a positive on a drug test for up to 48 hours after consuming them… which sucks if you’re like me and love poppy seed muffins.

          1. Joline*

            It’s why Elaine Benes wasn’t able to go on her work trip to Kenya with J. Peterman.

            I’m glad that that was proven to not be an unreasonable plot.

          2. Merry and Bright*

            Exactly this. I’m on my phone and can’t attach the link here. But if you google Poppy Seeds Brixton Prison there’s an actual incident from last year.

        4. Tara R.*

          Yep. Someone I knew was prepping for a drug test and stopped smoking pot for a month, but was doing cocaine two nights before.

      2. Bend & Snap*

        My ex husband works in the beverage industry–sales–and is subjected to frequent drug tests. They test everyone from the branch presidents to the drivers, lottery style, upon hiring and throughout their employment. Company policy.

        I’m a corporate publicist and got drug tested for my job too. I don’t do drugs so it didn’t matter, but it was a head scratcher for the type of job I have.

        1. Macedon*

          Yeah, what drew my eye wasn’t that there was a drug test involved – I understand they’re fairly standard in US hiring practices – but that this was the usual cause behind an offer withdrawal. Personally, if someone told me a role had fallen through, I’d assume a reference check turned out something massive, or the position was eliminating due to a sudden hiring freeze/restructure order.

    4. Anon for #1*

      I once became friendly with a recruiter over the course of several years that he and I had a business relationship. He places IT professionals. One time he was complaining to me about how difficult his work is, and among other things, said that he’d appreciate it if his clients gave him at least a courtesy warning kinda like “(Recruiter), I’ve got to warn you that I am not going to pass the drug test this week.” So yeah. It’s pretty widespread. (Both the mandatory tests and the people failing.)

      My guess is, if/when we stop testing for one particular drug, the % of people failing those tests will go way down.

      1. Ad Astra*

        Unless you subscribe to the theory that all people who ever use drugs are bad people you don’t want to work with, it doesn’t make sense to to drug test IT professionals or most other positions. Do I want someone to show up to work drunk or high? Of course not. But will drug testing candidates tell me whether someone is likely to show up to work drunk or high? Not at all.

        Plenty of people will fail a drug test even though they wouldn’t think of ever showing up to work intoxicated. And plenty of other people will pass a drug test and then show up under the influence (especially in the case of alcohol, which leaves the body within hours). It’s such an expensive and useless practice that I’m really puzzled by its popularity.

        1. the gold digger*

          The reason the office people had to be tested at the big manufacturing company where I worked was because, I had heard, the union said that if the factory employees had to be tested, so did everyone else.

        2. Anon for #1*

          Oh I most definitely do NOT subscribe to this theory, and think that this is a ridiculous, wasteful, and demoralizing policy, which for some reason took root and is now prevalent almost everywhere.

          BTW psychedelics do not show up in drug tests and are not being tested for. Shrooms, anyone?

          1. Ad Astra*

            (For the record, I wasn’t implying that you think all drug users are scum. Just saying that mindset is the only situation in which these tests provide useful information. Didn’t want you to think I was coming after ya!)

        3. Creag an Tuire*

          I think part of it is that any employer that does significant business with the Feds must comply with the “Drug Free Workplace Act” (and many state governments piggyback on this or have even stronger laws).

          1. Stephanie*

            Also, insurance policies. I believe liability insurance rates are lower if you subscribe to a drug-testing policy.

        4. Stranger than fiction*

          Yep, the last place I worked where they did do drug testing had 3 employees that I knew of that regularly came into work still drunk from the night before, so definitely not helpful in that regard. Also some people have legit prescription for things like Xanax but they abuse it.

      2. Stranger than fiction*

        From what I understand from some friends, there’s pretty reliable products out there that mask any drugs in your system. Seems weird to me someone who regularly uses something would risk not trying to cover it up with one of these product.

        1. edj3*

          You’d be surprised. I have a friend who wanted to work where I did and also smoked things that are still illegal in my state. And the company advertised as drug free. I told him I wouldn’t go out on a limb for him if he were going to fail the drug test. He swore up and down he wouldn’t.

          And he didn’t. But the test detected the masking substance, and he wasn’t hired. I was not pleased with him at all.

            1. Anon for #1*

              I would imagine they did. I’d never heard of masking substances until this thread, but it does make logical sense for the tests to adjust to those as new ones come out. Drinking tons of water and or herbal teas won’t help either, the tests detect that as well.

              I’ve heard that there are other ways, but they’re not easy and oh, like I said before, the whole thing is ridiculous. I hope the day comes when people won’t have to jump through hoops to get something out of their system that they inhaled two weeks ago.

              1. Ad Astra*

                In my experience, companies vary significantly in how stringent their testing practices actually are. In some cases, I would have easily been able to bring in clean urine or tamper with the sample. In other cases, they administered the test like I was on probation — a quick pat-down, no flushing the toilet, all kinds of stuff.

                1. dawbs*

                  Yes–they don’t advertise it as such, but for my current position, the drug test is a hair test (so abstaining for 48 hours isn’t going to help you–supposed to be 90 days, possibly longer for some of us with long hair. And they do make it clear they’ll find hair *somewhere* if your head is to short).

                  For the positions that report to me, they just have to pee in a cup.

    5. coyote_fan*

      Every corporate finance job I have had has required a drug test, including my internship. In my mind, once an offer has been placed and accepted, thus giving the candidate the confidence to turn in his resignations a failed drug test or some other background check that didn’t pan out would be the only 2 reasons for a job to fall through at this point.

      1. Kyrielle*

        You’d hope so, but we’ve also seen occasional letters here from people who were offered a job, signed the offer letter, and then had it withdrawn because of restructuring or other reasons – in effect they were “let go” before their first day.

        I’d guess that background check or drug test issues would be more common than that, on the whole, though.

    6. Stephanie*

      I work in transportation. We drug test employees subject to DOT regulations (so the truck drivers and pilots). But they go through blood testing at random intervals, which is way more rigorous than a pee test (the blood test can catch alcohol and Rx drug abuse). The office workers and floor workers are only drug tested if there’s an accident or there’s suspicion of abuse (such as if someone shows up drunk or high to work).

      1. Anon for #1*

        I have a friend who drives a company vehicle (construction/engineering type of work) and he does get random drug tests. A LOT. Definitely if there’s an accident involving the company vehicle. He hit a deer once on the way to work and the very first thing he had to do after that was take a drug test. Because we all know that no sober person will ever hit a deer… sigh. I do understand that this is the way things work. It’s just weird sometimes.

    7. JB (not in Houston)*

      Do we know, though, what size pack the OP was buying? I’ve seen some packages that held a lot more than that. I’m totally with you on calling plastic cutlery “silverware.” It’s not silverware! Silverware is a specific thing that plasticware is not! I don’t correct my coworkers on it when they say that or anything because it’s clear what they mean, but I personally can’t bring myself to say silverware when I mean plastic.

  19. Bowserkitty*

    To OP #5: I also live in Iowa and I’ve never heard of that policy before!! I’d be interested to know what you find out though.

  20. Wildkitten*

    I bet people are taking cutlery back to their desks so that they will have it stockpiled for Thursday when there is no more in the break room. The more you run out early, the more people will feel the need to grab an extra fork to put in their desk drawer, the earlier you will run out. I think the solution is to get a giant costco sized container of cutlery and just replace it when necessary.

    1. BadPlanning*

      Yes to this. We don’t have a large variety of office supplies, but what we have is always generously stocked. I get 1 pen at a time or 1 post it pad at a time when I need to. Not because we have any strict rules, but because I have no fear of running out of pens or paperclips or post its. No need to clutter up my desk because I can always get another pen.

  21. Erin*

    #2 – Don’t order fewer supplies unless that makes sense financially. (I’m assuming buying in bulk is cheaper.) Here’s what I would do – and this advice is coming from me watching our receptionist at one of my jobs, who has saved the company significant money by inventorying and keeping track of all office supplies.

    Put out fewer supplies, keeping the rest hoarded at your desk like Fort Knox (in locked drawers if possible). Keep track of exactly how much is used of each item and how quickly. If people come to your desk saying, “We’re out of plastic forks can I have some” do hand it over, but again just keep track of everything. Put yourself in a position where you can say, “We’ve been going through X boxes of plastic cutlery a month, and that’s really a lot for our small office. Let’s try to get that down to Y.”

    If you’re in a position to, see if you can get their feedback and gauge what they really need or use and try to work with them on that. Someone might be preparing reports for large client meeting and needs to use more of those pretty plastic covers than usual which can get pricey – but knowing they have that project you could order more of that one item and cut back on something else.

    Also, you could try to offer them perks for working with you on going through supplies at a reasonable rate. Some offices vote on what flavor of coffee get stocked, for instance. “Hey guys, we’re out of pumpkin spice again! I have to wait until next week to order more k-cups, because we’re really going through coffee quickly. If we can get our weekly use down to X, we’ll have enough room in the budget to order more flavors next month. I’ll email out a list and everyone can vote on their favorites.”

    1. some1*

      I have done this with high-demand office supplies. People are less likely to take 8 pens or a whole box staples back to their desk if they ahve to come and ask you for it.

    2. Rat in the Sugar*

      I like this one; it’s very similar to what we do at my workplace. I feel like people are less likely to hoard if they know there’s a backup supply somewhere, but keeping it hidden and forcing them to ask for it makes people think about how much they’re using and gives you the chance to track as well.

    3. Oryx*

      This is what our admin assistant did as well at ExJob. Of course, she was….not the most approachable, so if we ran out of coffee or cutlery, the drawers would stay empty until one of the two or three people who weren’t afraid of her went and asked. It was kind of ridiculous. I was one of those people who had no issues asking her for the key to the supply closet, but there were times when people flat out refused.

  22. Allison*

    2) I usually helped myself to the plastic cutlery at work, and then took them home to run through the dishwasher. I usually ended up throwing out most the forks and knives, but I hoarded the spoons for the next time I went to see The Room. Then we moved to the new office and they started giving us biodegradable cutlery. The spoons are fine but the forks and knives are terrible, they get all soft and warp, bend, and break when you use them on hot food. So now I only ever use that stuff when I forget to bring my own! So that’s an option, offer stuff that’s better than nothing but give people an incentive to bring their own.

    1. Ife*

      Our office only gives us spoons. No knives or forks. I always try to bring my own silverware because I hate throwing stuff away, but it’s pretty annoying to try to eat pasta with a spoon or spread cream cheese on my bagel when I forget!

  23. Anonymous Educator*

    #2. I used to work in an office that stocked things in a kitchen. The basic rule of our office manager was “We have this much budget, and I’ll be stocking these things, but once they’re out, they’re out.” I don’t know that you need to micro-manage how people use things. If the supplies get used up quickly, that’s the employees’ own faults. You can also, if you really have to, go all elementary school on them and say “This is a privilege, not a right. If you can’t handle it, we don’t have to have this.” I wouldn’t recommend the latter, but it’s an option.

    #3. Some people have commented that the recruiter may be entitled to a fee even if the OP knew the manager at the company already. I don’t know what industry this recruiter is in, but I used to work in educational recruiting, and we would never get or pursue a fee from a client if the client knew the candidate beforehand. Our clients would have laughed at us (“But we sent you the file… for the person you already knew”).

    #4. I’m not bagging on the OP here. Job searching is tough, and you definitely want to feel special. But I don’t really see at all how posting up the job should make you feel less special. If anything, it should be the other way around—imagine if they had waited to interview you… and then posted the job. For all you know, they posted the job, interviewed you, and then thought to themselves “Wow… I know we posted the job, but OP#2 was amazing!” You really have no idea what they thought about you.

    As others have mentioned, employers generally want to do their due diligence. I will mention a couple of other things:

    1. They have no idea if you’re going to take the job. Even if you assume you’re the most amazing candidate they could ever encounter, and you pass a drug test and a background check, and your references all check out… how do they know you will accept the job if a better one comes along for you? How do they know you’ll like their salary or their workplace? You might do something in later interviews that pisses them off or you might learn something in later interviews that piss you off (and thus make you think the place is not a good fit for you). Organizations, just like candidates, have to hedge their bets. Can you imagine if an organization said “She sent out a résumé to another organization right before our interview. That doesn’t make us feel special”? Any good hiring manager will expect you to be applying to other jobs. The reverse should be true, too.

    2. On a more personal note, there was a job I applied to once. I got a phone interview right away. I got some follow-up interviews. Then, for about a month and a half, I heard nothing back. I assumed I didn’t get the job. Then they reached out to me and were scrambling to get me (and offered a signing bonus) after checking my references. Once I got there and talked to the hiring manager, he said they were impressed by me but wanted to see what else was out there. They saw what else was out there and realized they really wanted me. Honestly, that made me feel a lot more special than if they had interviewed just me and no one else.

    1. MK*

      Eh, ” we sent you the file for the person you already knew, but apparently didn’t even think about when posting the position and would probably not remember existed if we hadn’t remind you”. I don’t think it’s laughable.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I can speak only for the industry I was in (educational recruitment), not for other industries. In that industry, it would indeed be laughable. No school would pay for a referral of a former employee, even a former contractor.

  24. Kara*

    #2 – I had to laugh at @Macedon’s comment about being weirded out that plastic cutlery is called silverware. I had the same reaction. Regardless, with 12 people in the office, I’d expect to go through at a minimum 10 pieces a week per person. If you’re not providing at least that many pieces – probably more spoons and forks than knives – I can totally understand running out by mid-week. I also agree with the person who said that if running out is normal, people might grab 2 or 3 pieces and “hoard” them in preparation.

    #5 – I am honestly at a loss as to how this could be enforced. Would they physically prevent you from getting into your own car and driving away? If my employer tried to physically restrain me from getting in my own vehicle, I’d be calling the police (and quitting on the spot). At the very least, that sounds like a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I am honestly at a loss as to how this could be enforced.

      I’m not saying this is a good idea or that I’m even a fan of the policy, but they could fire you instead of physically restraining you.

      1. MashaKasha*

        But, how will they know you drove yourself? Like someone above said, if they can’t see you get into your car and drive away, they won’t have proof, will they? or would they follow you outside and wait for your ride with you when you leave?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          From the OP: They will either provide us a ride or have us set up a ride and leave our vehicle at work to be picked up at a later time.

          Since the OP’s employer is providing the ride, the employer would know if no ride was provided. And if it’s a small enough workplace, you could see that the employee did not leave her vehicle behind at work.

          I mean, I still think the policy is horrible, but it’s not a logistical impossibility for the employer to enforce.

          1. MashaKasha*

            It also says in OP’s post that they’re ok with having the employers set up a ride. So I could be like “ok I have to go, my ride says he’s going to pick me up at the nearest street corner” and it’s unlikely that they will follow me there.

            Of course, then I’d have to be proactive ahead of time and park somewhere that’s not the company parking lot. Which admittedly is a lot of hassle for a sick person.

  25. Krystal*

    #2: I disagree with everyone regarding the silverware vs. plastic issue, if only because I see the maintenance getting dumped back on you or some other female employee. Hard pass, although biodegradable stuff would be better than traditional plastic.

    #3: Some recruiters are just jerks, like in every profession. They also receive commission, so they have even more motivation to act jerky (not that all do). He’s probably annoyed that you have a connection and don’t need his services. Also, let’s be realistic: he’s threatening you with a ban on services from his company, but more than likely, he’s already done that to you if he’s going to do it. He considers you lacking technical skills necessary for a job that you’ve done before.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, maybe I’m confused about how recruiting works, but wouldn’t that be of benefit to him? That the OP has the skills and has done the job—unless it’s a conflict of interest, I would assume if I recommended her, they would hire her and it would be a sure-fire commission. (Or do you not get that if they don’t hire your client?) If I were able to, I’d probably break both my legs submitting her in that case.

  26. JC*

    #2: I loathe to blame cleaning staff when things go missing, but are there others who have access to your break room who could be using the items, like cleaners? This comes to mind because my office has a Keurig and provides k-cups, and I regularly see the office cleaners drinking the coffee when I stay late enough that they’ve arrived. Just another possibility, especially for something consumable like coffee. (My office also supplies disposable plates, utensils, and napkins, but I don’t think the cleaning staff use those very much.)

    1. MashaKasha*

      Um, I hope I read this comment wrong, but do you mean your office does not allow cleaning staff to use the office Keurig? I’m not a big fan of Keurig myself, and our office does not provide one or the cups, but I’d think it’d be fair to let the cleaning staff use them if it did… just like I’d imagine any other contractor who works in the office can still use the Keurig even though they’re a contractor… or am I being wrong here?

      Re it being another possibility – I agree, it is. Another reason not to go on the offensive with an office-wide email of “stop stealing office coffee.”

      1. Erin*

        I think it would depend on if the cleaning company folks are actual employees of the office – I’m imagining they’re not. I could be wrong, but they’re probably outsourced by the building owner and it’s part of the rent deal.

        1. Observer*

          Come on. Even if they are actually employees of an outsourcing company, I think it’s common decency to allow them to use the office keurig and a cup! These folks work hard for low pay.

          1. Koko*

            I completely agree with you just from a standpoint of it being a small cost to reward someone who does a thankless job. (Shoot, I give the cleaning woman who is assigned to our floor a tin of homemade cookies every Christmas.) But I do think it’s going above and beyond what’s standard or expected to do so, and wouldn’t be all that surprised if a really frugal company had a strict employees-of-this-company-only policy regarding the office perks. We’ve even seen people write in here whose companies supply things like coffee and fruit for important visitors but won’t let the employees have any of the coffee. A stupid hill to die on, but enough companies choose it that I can’t say it surprises me.

      2. neverjaunty*

        I took JC to offer an explanation as to why supplies are disappearing “too fast” for the number of employees, i.e. that the number of people using them is more than LW is taking into account, not that JC was saying that cleaning folks are stealing coffee. I also hope a business wouldn’t begrudge the cleaning folks a cup of coffee.

        1. MashaKasha*

          I agree. The very first sentence confused me – “I loathe to blame cleaning staff when things go missing”… why blame them at all if this is something they’re allowed to do? Other than that, it did sound like just one more reason why kitchen supplies could be disappearing faster than OP expects them to: because, like you said, more people are using the supplies than OP thinks.

      3. Lia*

        I once worked for a business that did not allow temps or contractors to use the microwaves or refrigerators. Company-supplied coffee was completely verboten for them as well. They were allowed, at least, to sit in the break room for lunch, which was good because this location was a factory with no other place TO sit.

        At any given time, temps/contractors were ~25% of the staff at that site (I was a temp during my tenure there). NOT a great place to work.

        1. Sarah*

          Wow, so temps and contractors were basically only allowed to eat non-perishable, room-temperature food for lunch?? I hope they at least had lockers or somewhere else to keep their food. That is one hell of an unreasonable rule.

          1. Lia*

            Just cubbies along the wall. Never heard of anyone’s food going missing.

            A couple of people brought in small coolers with ice packs that fit in the cubbies. I just brought in PB sandwiches, though.

    2. JC*

      As neverjaunty said above, I was giving an explanation for why the supplies might be disappearing too quickly for the number of staff members.

      In my office, I am not the office manager and have no idea if the cleaning staff is explicitly allowed to use the keurig. No one has complained about it and it is not an issue. The cleaning staff is in the space after normal office hours, so I could see a situation arise where the office manager didn’t realize that other people drank coffee after regular office hours. I wondered if a similar thing could be happening in the OP’s office.

  27. chumpwithadegree*

    Good heavens! I keep a place setting of antique silverplate-including a soup spoon and a salad fork-at my desk and clean it after each use. They go home for polishing. Why eat with plastic?

    Having said that, at my first job, a small government office, we each had a week assigned to clean the kitchen-it only took a few minutes to stack the newspapers, do the dishes and wipe off the tables. We each did it about twice a year-and everyone from the manager to the mail clerk was on the rota.

    1. the gold digger*

      I bring my silverware with my lunch. I hate eating with plastic utensils and it would be very wasteful in my situation. I am already carrying a lunch bag that contains dishes – a spoon and a fork do not add much weight or volume. I don’t wash my dishes at work – I just wrap the silverware in a napkin and wash it when I get home.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I have lunch containers with little spots to hook on a fork and/or knife, so I do that, and then tuck the used utensil back in the container since it fits. I’m with you. I wouldn’t want to try to wash my dishes at work, though – at $PreviousJob especially, they had the supplies for it but the rag and the sponge were ancient and had lots of time to accumulate bacteria. Plus I’d have to dry with a paper towel. I just take them home again to wash.

        (Which means I occasionally use the plastic ware if I’ve somehow managed to forget my own fork.)

      2. JB (not in Houston)*

        I bring my own, too. We have flatware available here at the office, but I have food allergies, and I’ve seen how people here “wash” things (holding it under running water for a few seconds is not going to get either germs nor food remnants off of that fork, my friend*), so I just bring my own.

        *They also dry dishes with the same towel they use to dry their hands and dry off/wipe down the counter, so I don’t use the towel, either.

  28. Not So Sunny*

    Re: drug tests, I always thought it was mandated by the company’s insurer.

    Not necessarily based on types of business.

  29. TLake*

    Regarding #5’s question I posted this in a different spot but didn’t want it to get lost in the a sea of comment threads. Your employer can also be trying to prevent being sued if a sick employee causes a accident while driving home. Case regarding this held employer liable for a sick employee’s accident below: I think it held the employer liable, I haven’t spoken or read lawyer for over 10 years so I might not be following the court summary of the appeal and decisions correctly.
    (Bussard v. Minimed Inc., 105
    Cal. App. 4th 798, Cal. App., 2nd Dist.)
    But win or lose the cost in time and money for a company of to defend themselves against this kind of law suit might be why a company adopts a “not allowed to drive if sick during work” policy.

    1. Observer*

      That’s totally not the issue here, though. The court (even on appeal) explicitly agreed that that had the accident been in the course of a normal commute, there would have been no liability. The reason that the company was liable was because that problem was essentially caused by the employer.

  30. Lady in Pink*

    OP #4: There are several online career “experts” (and possibly college career centers) that are advising people that “networking” on LinkedIn (really cold calling) is the only real way to find a job. The advice says that by contacting employees of companies you wish to work for, you bypass the throngs of candidates applying online. Therefore, you stand out and will get an automatic interview and job offer! I’m not criticizing the OP for using this job search method, just making the point that if it does get your resume a look, it’s not the magic bullet the career “experts” claim.

  31. UsedToDoSupport*

    I can’t wait for the question “Employer won’t let me retract my resignation, is this legal?” question to appear!

  32. VX34*

    #1 should have waited till they had an offer in hand and/or in writing before resigning. Maybe they did, but if they were really dumb enough to fail a drug test, well, no sympathy there. Be real curious to know why #1 really didn’t want them back though.

    1. neverjaunty*

      Because they quit? Why would the employer want someone back when it’s clear they’re trying to leave?

    2. Observer*

      As Neverjaunty says, the fact that they quite is already a problem. And if they think that failing a drug test comes into it, that provides another reason for not wanting him back.

  33. Jadelyn*

    Re #5, I am absolutely at a loss as to how that’s enforceable and legal – last I checked, my car belonged to me, not my employer. Unless you’re driving a company vehicle, why on earth would your employer have a right to dictate what you may or may not do with your own property on your own time (i.e., after clocking out and leaving the premises)? Honestly, I might consider a refusal to allow me to leave via my own vehicle to be false imprisonment on the employer’s part.

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