a round-up: putting work expenses on your personal credit card, bathroom access, wolves, and more

Four interesting things (I may make this a standing Friday thing) —

1. I’m quoted in this article about companies that ask employees to pay for business expenses on their personal credit cards and then wait to get reimbursed.

2. This is a very long but very interesting article about what Google learned after poring through reams of data about what makes for high-performing teams. More than any other factor, they found that “psychological safety” – a sense that the team is a safe place for interpersonal risk-taking, where people won’t be embarrassed or rejected for speaking up – was crucial to making a team function well.

3. On Monday, the EEOC issued a new factsheet on bathroom access rights for transgender employees. It says that denying an employee access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity is sex discrimination; an employer cannot condition this right on the employee undergoing or providing proof of surgery or any other medical procedure; and an employer cannot avoid the requirement to provide equal access to a common restroom by restricting a transgender employee to a single-user restroom instead (but the employer can make a single-user restroom available to all employees who might choose to use it).

4. Commenter Chinook lives with a wolf and she posted pictures for us, including the wolf cuddling with a cat! Stories of the wolf start here.

{ 119 comments… read them below }

  1. Gandalf the Nude*

    So, I saw the comment about Chinook’s wolf the other day but just assumed it was a tongue-in-cheek joke about dogs and wolves being the same species!

    1. 2horseygirls*

      Wolves and dogs may be related, but they are very different species. “The Secret Lives of Dog Catchers” Facebook page is owned by a friend of mine (who wrote a great book by the same name), and she has been fostering a wolfdog for over a year now. It has been a year of incredible lows, but the good moments keep her going. Search Malachi on her page for his stories. He has come a very long way in a year.

      1. justcourt*

        I’m pretty sure they are the same species because dogs and wolves can mate and produce offspring who are also capable of reproducing.

        1. NoProfitNoProblems*

          This is true, but behaviorally and biologically, they are very different animals.

        2. dragonzflame*

          Not quite, the wolf is classed as Canis lupus and the domestic dog as Canis familiaris. Same family, different species, but still close enough to interbreed. As said above, behaviourally they’re very different, which is why pack theory doesn’t work on pet dogs.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            That’s been updated fairly recently – dogs are now listed as Canis lupus familiaris, although the older name can still be used and universally understood

          2. Anxa*

            This is actually a point of contention.

            Many scientists will call wolves Canis lupus and dogs Canis lupus familiarias, suggesting dogs are a subspecies of wolf.

            Dog speciation is weird. Thanks to years of artificial selection, even among dogs there’s so many differences that without continual breeding and more artificial selection, even dogs could speciate.

        3. Margaret S.*

          In fact, ‘species’ is a human scientific construct. That is why scientists can debate about whether dogs are a subspecies of wolves or a different species in the same genus. Nature doesn’t have an hard and fast rule; in a way it is a matter of human opinion, or, one could say, of definition.

          Some animals of different but closely related species can indeed interbreed and have offspring, and that is why mating success is not a deciding factor in species determination.

          An interesting fact I remember from school is that there is a pair of closely related fish species such that if you take a single fish, you can not tell at all whether it belongs to species A or B. But if you take a sufficiently large group of these fish that are swimming around together and find their average length, there is no doubt whether they are A or B because their average length is what distinguishes the two species. (I was at school back in the 1980s. Maybe these days they can also tell them apart by DNA – who knows?)

          1. and not*

            And an interesting tidbit about the kind of dog I have – a samoyed who many people ask if she is a wolf.


    2. NoProfitNoProblems*

      She certainly looks and acts a lot like a dog. I’m guessing the amount of wolf in her is very small.

      1. Chinook*

        Marley has the physiology of a wolf (yellow eyes, narrow shoulders, no stomach for anything plant based) but I like to say she is an example of the missing link between wolves and dogs. She is a runt who kept hiding under decks in town before she was rescued by a by-law officer. I could see the first dogs doing something similar – found it easier to be around humans and follow their rules in order to be part of a human pack.

        I can’t overplay that wolf dogs are NOT for everyone and some should never be domesticated. Marley has a personality that is docile and we got her young enough that she was willing to model her behaviour after her hero – my first dog Petey. She thought that, if a blind, old dog could have an easy life, she would be silly to not follow his lead. She even started wagging her tail and sitting like him in order to fit in!

        What I do recommend, though, is to check out your local pet sanctuaries if you want to adopt and ask for a trial period to ensure that any pet fits your current household mix.

        1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

          You’re not the woman who posted on r/relationship that her husband kept a pack of wolves and was letting them into the house when she wasn’t home to hang out, right? Just checking!

          1. Aella*

            I think that sometimes she was in the house…

            (For the curious, this was because they were lonely in their specially constructed wolf pen, and, according to him, He Is The Alpha)

  2. Dr. Johnny Fever*

    I’ve championed including Maslow within team dynamics and Tuckman model with the reasoning that we have similar professional needs as personal. I’ve been dismissed in thinking, but I’ve had great success building strong teams and coaching to these principles.

    Finally, I feel objectively vindicated!

    1. AthenaC*

      Oh definitely – I mean, even when I was a sheltered high school student in an AP Psych class, Maslow seemed pretty intuitive. Then a few years later I was homeless for a bit and I learned first hand that the hierarchy of needs is definitely a Real Thing.

      It only makes sense that a similar architecture would apply in many dimensions and in many situations.

    1. LeRainDrop*

      I agree! Chinook, I don’t have a twitter account, so I can’t “like” your photos, but I do love them!

      1. Chinook*

        If it makes you feel better, this is the most I have ever posted on Twitter. Thanks everyone for taking a look.

  3. jhhj*

    You used to occasionally interview commenters. Chinook would be a GREAT interview subject. Wolf + cat photos and wolf + cat stories!

  4. Kristine*

    Oy, expense reimbursements. I easily wrack up $2k a month in work charges on my personal credit card. My company always reimburses on the next paycheck (so 2 weeks max) but I always feel like I’m holding my breath while waiting for the reimbursement to come in. But alas, they won’t give a company credit card to anyone under Director level.

    At least it’s not as bad as my last company. I still had thousands of dollars in reimbursements pending when I quit, from expenses that were 6-12 months old. I finally got the money back EIGHT MONTHS after I quit, and I had to go through multiple channels and prove that I was in credit card debt and unable to pay for trips for my current company because of them. And no, they didn’t pay any of the interest or finance charges from that time.

    1. Sibley*

      At the very least you should use a rewards credit card of some sort, get at least some benefit from that.

      1. Kristine*

        I do, my credit card gets me miles with my preferred airline. It’s a double bonus when I book my work flights on that airline, with my airline credit card. I don’t think I’ve paid for a personal flight since I started here. :)

        1. Wendy Darling*

          I racked up so many points on my credit card shuffling company travel expenses through it. I routinely covered things for OTHER people who traveled with me to get the sweet, sweet points. One time I racked up so many points over the course of two business trips that I came home and replaced my speaker system. Then I started paying for basically everything except my rent with a card that does air miles so next time we fly to visit SO’s family it should be free. :D

    2. animaniactoo*

      Have you thought about going through small claims court for the interest and the finance charges?

      1. Kristine*

        I thought about it, but the reality is that I’m in my home state only about 50-60% of the time. And when I’m home from work trips, the last thing I want to do is deal with the headache that is court proceedings.

    3. Always Anon*

      One more reason to love where I work. Any reimbursement over $500 gets a check cut the day the expense report is submitted (unless the employee indicates its okay to wait). Any reimbursement under $500 get a check cut the following Thursday. Our accounting department is truly awesome about reimbursing employees as quickly as possible.

      We also provide a cash advance to employees who don’t want to use their own personal credit card for business related expenses (although it’s capped).

      1. OhNo*

        Wow, that’s a really nice turnaround time! I’ve heard a lot about companies taking for-e-ver to reimburse people, but yours is the first I’ve heard of that does it the same day.

        I’m curious, do you think this is an industry thing? Or is it solely dependent on the organization? I ask because most of the horror stories I’ve heard come from academia, which tends to move slow in the best of times, and everyone just seems to expect it as a matter of course.

      2. Noah*

        Ours is similar, but is goes through the payroll department somehow and is direct deposit. As long as you turn it in by noon, it is in your bank account the next morning. We also have the option of either getting a corporate card or using our personal cards. Most people use their own card so you accumulate points or airline miles.

    4. LiteralGirl*

      I think it’s kind of backward only supplying company credit cards to Directors and above. You would think that they would have the means to front the company money, rather than someone further down the org chart. At my company, all of the admins have company cards, as well as managers, because they want people to use cards that are issued to them.

      1. Kristine*

        I think the logic is that Directors and above are the trusted decision makers, so they are trusted with the company card. The rest of us are not and if we’re using our own cards we’re unlikely to violate the per diem cap or rules about what types of flights and hotels we can book.

        1. De Minimis*

          For ours we have a special credit card only for the executive level people, an AMEX with no limit [though I think charges above a certain amount require a 2nd approver.] They’ve used it a lot for event deposits.

    5. rock'n'roll circus*

      Ugh I hate this about my new company too. At my old job it was like, here’s your CC the first day, and I only traveled every few months. This time it was just like, nope no credit card, and oh it’s your third day and we’re going to fly down somewhere for the day tomorrow so please buy this 900 dollar plane ticket right now.

      1. rock'n'roll circus*

        Edit; We also only get paid monthly so it takes forever to get the money back :(

        1. De Minimis*

          Oh that stinks….we run the reimbursement as a separate transaction from payroll.

    6. Joey*

      At my last job we used our own money and got reimbursed the next payday. That worked out fine until the boss would surprise people with exceptions like:

      “Only amounts over X will be reimbursed” (neglecting to tell people this until *after* they had made those purchases)

      “That thing you bought isn’t actually eligible for reimbursements” (even though you’ve never been told that before and have been reimbursed for it before without a problem)

      “We’re requiring additional paperwork before we reimburse for this, effective immediately” (ignoring that many people didn’t procure such paperwork ahead of time because they didn’t know they would need to)

      Reimbursements became a heated issue between me and my boss before I left. He delayed one of my payments without a warning or explanation because he had issues with it. I sat there for days wondering where my money was. Because of what I went through, I will never, ever, EVER spend my own money on a company or clients again unless I get cash in advance. Corporate credit cards are the way to go.

    7. Ghost Town*

      The big conference we attend is always the week before Thanksgiving (US) and generally have to put the hotel (to get the conference rate) and a few other expenses on my own card. Thankfully, I can book most flights and rental cars through the university’s system. However, 5+ nights at a conference hotel is nothing to sneeze at and definitely not an amount I can afford to float the uni. But because travel management is chronically understaffed and because of Thanksgiving break and the semester break, it can easily be mid- to late- January (or later) before I see my reimbursement.

      Also, any time I’ve gone to a conference for professional development, I have to be reimbursed for the registration fee, because it is processed as travel. But since registration happens months in advance, sometimes, that means I’m floating hundreds of dollars I don’t have on my card. It makes for some interesting calculations and personal budgeting.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My first experience of business travel was at my previous job. It was decided suddenly to hold a 2 day meeting in another country, and I hadn’t expected it, so hadn’t budgeted for it. After a bit of juggling with my credit card, I just about managed to get the money together for the horribly expensive hotel, and off I went, trying to concentrate on the meeting and not whether I could afford it. Ironically, my company had recently stopped paying overtime, which would have covered it.

        On arrival at the hotel, my boss and I went to check in and I handed over my reservation number. The Receptionist piped up that I needed to give a credit card. Ok, pay up front, I thought. She then swiped my card and cheerfully announced to everyone that it had been declined. The hotel puts a block on the card as a guarantee which was far more than the limit I had. (I bought things using the card before I had known about the meeting)

        I felt quite embarassed as it was none of their business and there had been no mention of this block. My company’s policy was that my boss couldn’t pay for my hotel room for me, and so whilst my boss stepped in to provide the credit card guarantee, it was very uncomfortable. Given these circumstances, I felt it was completely right to strip the room of all the free soap, shampoo, pencils and confectionary. : – )

        1. Ghost Town*

          That’s awful and a sticky situation. I’m lucky that I haven’t had a card declined at a hotel.

          I definitely take the toiletries and extra coffee. One of the first things I do. Those are my travel toiletries. I’m always disappointed with hotel lotion, though.

  5. Stranger than fiction*

    I love Marley and Mabel and other dog and the cat….I just want all the animals.

  6. Laurel Gray*

    The credit card article reminds me of the OP that wrote in about the $20k of debt on the company credit card. That still the most fascinating OP dilemma I have read here. Alison have you received another follow up with that OP (last I remember he was supposed to meet with the bosses to discuss it all)?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m sure I remember an update where he had tr conversation and it went well, they agreeded repayment plan.

      1. davey1983*

        Yes, that was the last update– company agreed to a repayment plan.

        However, I was wondering what happened after that? I hope it worked out for them, but I am curious. I am also curious if anything else changed– the situation could have impacted other aspects of his job (i.e., boss or company no longer trusts him, etc.).

    2. paramilitarykeet*

      I know! I’m worry about that person from time to time. I think that there was an update, I’d love to know if s/he was able to stick to the repayment plan, and how s/he is doing.

  7. Take Me 2 Atlanta*

    Please make these weekly! I’ve been reading since 2008 and find workplace issues/dynamics/laws so interesting and couldn’t thank this site enough for introducing me :)

    1. Andrea*

      Pretty sure I’ve been reading since 2008 too! There are probably a bunch of us!

      1. A Bug!*

        Ditto. I remember reading this blog from an office I occupied no later than 2008, but I don’t think I ever commented until much more recently.

  8. The Alias Gloria Has Been Living Under, A.A. B.S.*

    I love that Marley is an Outlander fan. ROLLO FOREVER!

    1. Wendy*

      I believe they’ve cast Bouton for the series. I hope when Rollo comes into the story they’ll include and cast him too.

      1. Chinook*

        I may or may not have successfully leveraged photos of Marley begging for notes on Rollo’s fate from Diana while waiting for the last novel to come out. As for Rollo’s portrayal, I find it surprisingly accurate after hanging around Marley (I thought it was overly optimistic before I knew her). And I think Bouton was definitely well cast. He is adorable.

  9. Oryx*

    My company does the reimbursement thing, although it’s all very outlined in the handbook and there are options for those who would find it a financial hardship. It’s a pretty streamlined process, as long as you have receipts in by Thursday you’ll have a check by the following Thursday. I’m one of those people who doesn’t mind because it helps with getting rewards on the card.

    But I can also appreciate why other companies that don’t have such a quick turn around time would make the process very frustrating for employees.

  10. De Minimis*

    We can do travel advances for employees, and a lot of our people go that route. We also have an outside company that will book travel [that is, the actual transportation part, not lodging] for employees, they just have to be on a pre-approved travel list. People can also get a company credit card if they want, or else we can do a reimbursement [monthly.]

    It’s important to offer several options because a lot of our people travel regularly. And we are small enough that we can have a fairly quick turnaround on reimbursement.

    1. De Minimis*

      My one complaint, though, is the insistence on limiting them to once a month, in a big batch reimbursement. My guess is it’s for financial/logistical reasons. We have complicated rules on how we do certain things, and that combined with cumbersome software that isn’t really a fit for us makes the process a lot slower than it should be.

  11. My 2 Cents*

    I’m the accountant for a nonprofit and we have a staff that travels A LOT, so the reimbursements is something I pay particular attention to. I have been in the “dirt poor” category and also in the “love to put things on my own card for the miles/points” category (circumstances change, thankfully) so I know the trials and tribulations of both camps. I give people the option and if they want to book things with their own cards and get reimbursed then I am fine with that and will make sure they get reimbursed promptly. If someone wants us to pay for everything upfront then I will do that as well, because I know that not everyone can front the cost of travel. I even have to send some staff/contractors to travel clinics for vaccines for international travel and give them the option of meeting them there to pay for the bill if they “don’t want to deal with the hassle of worry about reimbursements” (i.e. don’t want to be embarrassed by telling me they can’t afford to pay upfront for the vaccines and need me to use my company card to pay for it).

    My point is: Know your people and always be as cognizant and gentle as possible about money and never assume who has what means. Provide as many options and alternatives as you are reasonably able to do and everyone will be happy.

    1. I have $0 in extra money*

      I don’t have credit cards. I messed up my credit bad when I was in my early 20’s and the great recession didn’t help me fix it! I just started making money a year ago and my family has one income. What comes in, immediately goes out and we literally have no safety net.

      I recently had this dilemma. They wanted me to travel across the country, pay it myself and be reimbursed. It was thousands of dollars that I simply did not have at all. No way I could have done it. I was bracing myself for a very embarrassing conversation with my boss when the plans were changed. It ended up only being $450 because I didn’t have to fly. Even that was tough to swing and I was only able to do it because the trip fell right after my paycheck and I juggled what bills to pay. But I don’t know what they would have said or done.

      1. animaniactoo*

        “Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, I don’t have that much available to outlay. How would you like to handle this?”

        Keep it simple and factual. You may not that much available because it’s all tied up in investments that it doesn’t benefit you to pull money out for this. Or you’re underwater on your house. Or busy paying off someone’s funeral. Or whatever.

        The point is, you don’t have it, how would they like to handle it?

        You should never be uncomfortable to have this conversation because it’s really a lousy setup for companies to essentially be asking their employees to continually front them a loan, rather than taking full responsibility for making the money available in advance and not putting the onus on the employee.

        1. MillersSpring*

          I wouldn’t even say you don’t have the $$$ available. Certainly not their business. I’d say, “I prefer not to pay for corporate expenses of this amount. Could the company pay for the airfare in advance and reserve the hotel on its corporate card? And I’d like to get either a company credit card or per diem cash for meals, taxis and other incidentals.” Seriously. Having employees front their own cash for company expenditures is cheeky. And completely unnecessary for conferences and the like.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            Beware though that even if the hotel is reserved ahead of time on a card, they will still ask for a card at check in for “incidentals.” The employer has to authorize their card to be used for both. Some hotels refuse to accept the card unless they can see it in person.

            1. JaneEyre*

              Great point! This happened to me once while out of town on business. Got to the hotel late at night and they refused to honor the reservations made on the company cc unless they could actually see the card. Fortunately, I had my cc and charged three nights’ stay to it. Quite an unpleasant surprise. As I recall, I had to wait 1 month for reimbursement.

  12. Mockingjay*

    #2. What an interesting article! It framed my situation: new team lead to a small group of people who vary widely in their emotional approaches to work. I’m going to re-read it a few times – there is a lot to digest.

    Favorite quote from article: “But the kinds of people who work at Google are often the ones who became software engineers because they wanted to avoid talking about feelings in the first place.” Yes!

  13. Stranger than fiction*

    I have a question about the whole credit thing. I was told recently that we will only give company credit cards to people with good credit and others need to use their own, but I don’t get it, the company pays the bill, so what are they afraid of, that the employee will use it for other stuff? It seems like a catch 22 because those with not so great credit are probably the ones that need the company card the most.

    1. neverjaunty*

      That’s crazy. The company is saying that it wants the people with not-so-good-credit to loan the business money.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        I thought it was a bit weird. To be clear, I’m told they’re also given cash, but if any emergencies come up or the hotel needs one to have on file for other expenses, they have to use their own. No credit card, you can’t travel for the company.

    2. irritable vowel*

      I believe it’s because the card has your name on it, so the credit card company still needs to be assured that you’re a good risk. (If you aren’t, your company might have to serve as a guarantor, which they may or may not be willing to do. It sounds like yours wouldn’t.)

      1. neverjaunty*

        Which means, again, that the company is choosing to force the employees to subsidize its business expenses. The ‘credit risk’ thing is not true because the company is responsible for the debt.

    3. OhNo*

      I mean, AAM did have that letter a while ago about the person who racked up 20k worth of personal debt on a company card, so I can kind of see the company’s point. There is certainly a risk to having no restrictions on who can have a card.

      But I agree that credit rating is not the way to make that decision. Honestly, I don’t think that title or position in the office hierarchy is the best way to make that decision, either, but that’s what most companies seem to use.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Maybe that guy used to work here (jk I felt bad for him). But seriously it seems like every bad or strange policy we have here is the result of some experience with a bad former employee.

      2. Ife*

        They were only able to rack up $20k in debt (over a period of years) because nobody was actually reviewing the charges, and the card had a limit high enough to allow $20k worth of charges. If the company cares about the risk of credit cards, restricting who can have a company card is not enough, and it’s not even a very good starting point.

        1. neverjaunty*

          Exactly. The way to alleviate the risk of a crazy-spending employee is to have a system of actually reviewing use of the card.

    4. Noah*

      I’m pretty sure there are two different ways to setup company cards. The first is that the company is financially responsible and the employee’s credit doesn’t matter. In the seconds, the employee is financially responsible and the credit card company can and will go after the employee to recover any amounts owed.

      I once worked for a company that was the second. The monthly statement came to me and I had to provide receipts for it all and then the company paid the bill directly. I hated it.

    5. DoDah*

      Yep–same for my employer. I’ve got terrible credit so I end up having to front the company thousands on my debit card–and then wait 8 weeks for them to cut a check. They claim it takes so long because it’s an outlier process and everyone else uses their company card. Sucks to be me!

  14. Sparkly Librarian*

    I just posted this as a response in the open thread, but it seemed more suitable for here. Please excuse the repeat.

    I was asked to pay for a recurring business expense myself and submit for reimbursement. It didn’t feel right — this was something I needed for work and wouldn’t pay for otherwise, the only thing people in my role ever used expense reports for was (VERY) occasional travel, I wasn’t QUITE living paycheck to paycheck but didn’t have much extra cash to float, and I didn’t want to share my personal payment information with the business site (especially since the licenses were recycled and I could see the name, address, and payment info from the LAST person to use this one, who hadn’t worked at the company for over a year). I think the only reason most people were asked to use their own payment methods was because they were located remotely at their homes. I was in the main office. So I pushed back with my boss’s boss, the director of the department. He really didn’t seem to understand my concerns (and of course he was making twice what I was making and probably submitted expense reports regularly.) It came down to “I will do this if it’s required [because I am a Good Employee and not insubordinate], but I would really prefer another solution.” 15 minutes after that meeting, the director sent over someone from IT with the IT purchasing card to enter into the subscription site. And I continued to send IT the quarterly renewal receipts (for their department expense reports) for the next 4 years. ETA: I was still the only one in the department, which was kinda silly once my team was moved in-house. But they let me — and by that time, I had seniority.

  15. On the Phone*

    Hmmmm. I’d be interested to see how people are going to reconcile the bathroom laws with the new EEOC ruling.

    Though honestly, I’m hoping those damn laws just turn out to be some sort of extinction burst.

      1. Liza*

        I literally just stood here and made a V with my arms from excitement when I read that. Hooray!

        (I am not trans, I am an ally!)

    1. A Non*

      The protest shit-ins will be epic.

      I’m hoping it’s the end of the ‘trans people are perverts’ story line. No, they just need to pee, same as everyone else.

    2. Anxa*

      I can’t wait until this is sorted out.

      I work and live in NC, and I’m really, really hoping not to run into this issue at work.

      Interestingly, there’s been absolutely no discussion from above about this law. Even though we’re a state school. Fortunately the bathrooms in my department are single stall, so there’s probably not going to be much of an issue there.

  16. AdAgencyChick*

    I feel like sometimes companies use slow reimbursement to nudge employees to avoid incurring expenses in the first place! (e.g., do I take the cab home when working late and know that I’ll have to go through the hassle of filling out and getting my boss to sign an expense report, or do I just suck it up and wait for the subway?)

    I’m also shocked by how many of my colleagues don’t submit expense reports, even for large expenses, in a timely fashion. I will often start filling mine out while I’m still traveling and finish them off as soon as I get back to the office, or else do the whole report first thing upon my return to the office, even if that means pushing other projects back in the queue. Any colleagues who complain about having to wait for me to get something done that day get a “sorry, no job is as important as getting my money back.” That usually shuts people up!

    1. BRR*

      We have new rules for spending money (not just reimbursements) that are a huge PITA and I was joking along the same lines that it was to discourage us from using money in our budgets.

    2. Kyrielle*

      My manager’s peer, who coordinated a trip I had to take, gave me the best advice ever – turns out we can file our expense reports via an app. I can literally scan my receipts and make notes as everything happens, walk in my front door at the end of a trip and call it up and hit send. (After adding the parking fee for my car at the airport and the mileage, one hopes.)

      I mean, I don’t – not quite – but I love that it’s a thing.

    3. DoDah*

      At old job we were not permitted to fill out our expenses on company time. The CEO was known to have screaming fits if she saw some poor soul just trying to get their money.

  17. Sparkly Librarian*

    My employer (public library system, so city government) reimburses petty cash expenses in a timely manner – but there’s a catch. I pay for supplies out of pocket once or twice a week: craft materials, snacks or pizza, occasional prizes for library contests. I have a generous materials budget and my boss is very good about signing off as soon as she gets my report, but then I have to present the signed report in person at the main headquarters, where someone counts out cash and hands it to me. This is available during certain hours 1.5 days a week. This is not a problem for the people who work there (maybe half the library’s employees – others are at branch locations all over the city). However, it means I have to travel 45 minutes to headquarters (where I would normally visit once or twice a month for work) if I want my cash this week. Otherwise it has to wait until my working hours there coincide with their petty cash hours. Or if I go above a certain amount, the policy is to cut a check for the total. They won’t add a reimbursement line to my paycheck (which my last two employers did) or even mail the check to my home address or my office location. I still HAVE to go get it in person.

    1. MillersSpring*

      I hope you are pushing back hard against this requirement. What a load of shite. It’d be one thing if it was some kind of job requirement involving your duties. But this is quite a rigmarole and hassle just for you to get reimbursed.

    2. Meg Murry*

      Ugh, that’s crazy.

      I would add those 45 minutes each way to my timesheet, and the round trip mileage to headquarters to the expense report. After all, it’s a business expense, you wouldn’t be making the trip if it wasn’t for their expense policies.

  18. Jules the First*

    Well hi, Chinook (neighbourly wave!), if Marley ever wants company on her walkies, let me know…my sister and her northern special Atlas are just down the road and while he’s great with ordinary dogs, he sure misses hanging with other part-wolfies.

  19. Victoria, Please*

    True story from my uni about travel reimbursements: a faculty member submitted a claim for some conference and the claim was sent back for correction (thus delaying reimbursement by at least two weeks) because he had used google maps for mileage and accounting used mapquest. The difference was 11 cents.

    1. De Minimis*

      We had that same rule [MapQuest only] for mileage calculation when I was a fed, wonder if the university was paying through federal funds…

      1. Victoria, Please*

        No, it was…I don’t know what it was. The faculty member was livid and I don’t blame him (her?). These past couple of years we’ve had so many issues with getting people reimbursed for travel that eventually the academic senate and provost got together to try to fix things. It is better now, but there are still a ton of rules to follow and I never get reimbursed on my first try…and even if I did, the accounting office is so overloaded that it’s a 5-6 week wait. If you know, you can plan. And I know.

      2. davey1983*

        It probably depends on the agency. When I was a fed (left about 2 years ago, was there for several years), they told me they might spot check my mileage with mapquest (google maps was also mentioned), but I could compute it any way I wanted.

        I never submitted a mapquest screen shot, and to my knowledge nobody every checked my mileage claims.

        What was annoying was the rules about computing the mileage from either my office or my house– I only lived a mile away from my office, so the difference was, at most, 50 cents but I had to justify my starting location so many times.

  20. Rob Lowe can't read*

    Hmm, all this has made me wonder how my current employer handles expenses for professional development conferences. Corporate credit cards are not a thing here, and employer-sponsored PD is ultimately paid for either through grants or the PD budget. But I’m honestly not sure whether that means they front the costs or whether one must seek reimbursement. I don’t have any plans to attend conferences in the near future, but this is probably something to investigate beforehand!

  21. Nashira*

    Alison, you made my week! I’m a trans person who legit had some busybody at work try to play goalie to keep me from using the correct bathroom this week. It is a relief to know that the EEOC has looked upon this behavior and found it effed up and discriminatory on its face.

    Seriously, you guys, I just *really had to pee* before my lunch break was over.

      1. Nashira*

        It’s complicated, because I work in a state government office building as a contractor, and she could have worked for half a dozen different agencies. If it happens again, I’m going to find out who this lady is and raise a stink. Otherwise I’m filing it under jerks-are-jerks. (I admittedly was much more upset after it happened.)

        1. LabMonkey*

          I think you’re a fellow Toastie, or else two people with similar names are having the same problem.

          I’m curious what the EEOC had to say about nonbinary people. I’ll use the women’s if I must because it’s safer right now for me, but that might change as I approach a medical transition. I’d love a single stall neutral bathroom at work, but no go.

          1. Nashira*

            Yeah, same Nash! I am very hopeful that there are not many folks dealing with bathroom police…

            I suspect nb folks would confuse the EEOC, but I hope they would just go “you can use whatever facility you find appropriate” and leave it at that. Because you know, denying NBs access is based on “but they don’t fit my narrative of man/woman/human” so I would hope it’s covered under sex discrimination.

            I wish you all the luck with your transition.

            1. Strange Kitty*

              I think for NB persons the same thing applies – you may use whichever restroom is the most comfortable for you! For pete’s sake, you have to USE the bathroom and should be allowed to relieve yourself!!!

              It would be nice if all places had options for both male/female and a neutral restroom (ie: family restroom that a lot of malls have, etc) so that the weird folks aren’t hyperfocused on who is using the bathroom and what they look like or might “be.”

              I just hope all people can just use the friggin bathroom without someone harassing them!

              I am a straight cis-female, and will gladly accompany any trans or nb person into the restroom I use if there is ever an instance where they feel unsafe or bothered by some creepy person who wants to see inside their trousers to “prove” they belong in said restroom (smh North Carolina!)

              1. Jules the First*

                We have single toilets at work (ie, each a little room of its own) but shared sinks (in the hall outside) and I find it endlessly hilarious that some of the toilets are marked with the ‘man’ symbol, some are marked with the ‘woman’ symbol, and some with both. Like we’re supposed to declare our allegiance or something. I make a point of using all of them, because I think single-sex toilets are silly.

                And yes, as a cis-female, I’ve been known to use the mens room at airports and concerts and the like when the line for the ladies is ridiculously long. I will, however, wait as long as it takes for the ladies biffy when skiing in the winter – I’m one of those sad pathetic souls who can either aim or squat, not both, and only the ladies has socks on the seat. Apparently my commitment to gender neutrality ends at the point where my butt meets -30C plastic….

  22. Strange Kitty*

    3. On Monday, the EEOC issued a new factsheet on bathroom access rights for transgender employees. It says that denying an employee access to a common restroom corresponding to the employee’s gender identity is sex discrimination; an employer cannot condition this right on the employee undergoing or providing proof of surgery or any other medical procedure; and an employer cannot avoid the requirement to provide equal access to a common restroom by restricting a transgender employee to a single-user restroom instead (but the employer can make a single-user restroom available to all employees who might choose to use it).

    This is great. The strangest thing to me about the naysayers of allowing transgendered persons to use the restroom of their gender identity is that they claim there’s some sort of perversion here, yet when I ask how’d they like to go about proving someone isn’t the gender they identify as and ask them if they want to make someone drop trou. to “prove” this, they squirm and balk and try to talk around how creepy THEY sound.

  23. Former Computer Professional*

    Oh, reimbursements…

    One year I went to a professional conference. It was only my second time attending one, and I was fairly lost and confused. I told my employer I could cover expenses like food, but I didn’t have the credit to cover the hotel bill. They said no problem, they’d send the hotel a check, which they said they did two full weeks before the conference.

    The conference started on a Sunday. On Tuesday, about 4 pm, they drag me into the office of the head manager, who tells me that they have no payment on record for me (even though I asked about it when I checked in, and they told me it was already pre-paid!) and told me I could either give them a credit card on the spot or they were going to call the police and have me arrested for “theft of services”!

    Of course, I panicked, and called my employer’s business office. Only a junior employee was there, who told me that the company’s master credit card was not to be used for such things. I begged him to help me, telling him the hotel was about to call the police, and he gave me the card info. (And, in a no good deed goes unpunished tale, the guy got in trouble with his boss and was threatened with being fired. When I got back I told the guy’s boss that I was between a rock and prison and did they want to have to reimburse me for jail or a fine? She relented.)

    In any case, I was naive enough not to consider that they were pulling a scam on me. I stupidly didn’t say “Contact the head of the conference, NOW!” I found out later (post-conference) that I wasn’t the only one that they pulled or tried to pull this on. The conference is annual and has never gone back to that city, because they have a nation-wide contract with a big hotel chain and would have to go back to that particular hotel.

    And after that, my employer never pre-paid by check, instead getting a separate credit card that could be used for pre-paying travel expenses.

    1. DoDah*

      This sounds terrifying! Can you tell us the name of the conference!
      PS I’m in Tech also.

  24. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #1 – always – ALWAYS – ALWAYS be careful of using your own personal credit cards – if the company is having trouble meeting expenses. You’re essentially lending the company your money.

    Be EXTREMELY cautious if your company is “on the edge”.

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