my boss wants me reachable by phone and email on the weekends, I think a coworker is fudging her time sheets, and more

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

1. My boss wants me reachable by phone and email on the weekends

I recently joined a new company as a middle manager, and I manage a team that works seven days a week. On arrival, I was given a work mobile and laptop. A couple of weeks later, my manager texted me with a work question on a Sunday morning (on my weekend off). I didn’t see the message until that evening and responded probably over 10 hours later. I did apologize for replying late but didn’t think it was a big deal as it wasn’t an important text and really could have waited until Monday morning. However, my manager pulled me into his office the next day to ask me about it. I said that my work phone just happened to be in a different room at home from me for most of the day and that is going to happen sometimes while I’m out of work. He said in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t okay and the expectation is that I am contactable outside of work due to the level I’m working at in case there is a work emergency and I should always be available by phone (with obvious exceptions such as while driving, at the theater, etc). He also mentioned I wasn’t checking my emails enough on my days off, as mistakes such as my team missing a deadline wouldn’t be picked up until I was actually working. I was at a similar level in my last job and never experienced anything like this.

Is this reasonable and normal part of moving up the ranks? I’m making more of an effort to meet his expectations, but I’m finding it quite stressful to feel so scrutinized while on my “rest days” and get quite anxious about keeping my work phone with me everywhere I go and checking emails frequently. In the evening, when I get home I sometimes forget to take my phone out of my bag and feel sick with panic when I realize it’s been in there for a few hours and I haven’t checked it and could have missed a message. It’s early days so maybe I just need to get used to it?

No, this is not reasonable or normal. It’s true that in some fields, as you move up the ranks, you may be called upon to answer urgent calls or emails outside of your normal work hours. I don’t know if you’re in one of those fields or not. But even in those cases, you’re not expected to answer things that aren’t time-sensitive over the weekend. In fact, a decent employer will usually prefer that you not, so that you save your energy for the stuff that does need urgent attention and so that you’re not entirely burned out.

If your team works seven days a week, you might need to train and deputize an assistant manager to handle things on the days you’re off. That person can contact you when something truly rises to the level of needing your involvement and can field all of the rest.

But no, it’s not reasonable to expect round-the-clock availability unless (a) it’s a norm in your field that they reasonably assumed you would have known about and you’re compensated well for it or (b) they disclosed it in the interview and you’re compensated well for it.

2. I work in payroll and think a coworker is fudging her time sheets

I was wondering if you could help me with a moral question I have. I work in payroll and we have timesheets for our few non-exempt employees. It’s an honor-based system executed in Excel. The employee sends their time – manager approves – I add to payroll.

This has worked for us so far, but one of our non-exempt employees might be ruining it. This employee happens to sit in the cube in front of me so I know that she routinely gets in half an hour late and leaves 15-20 minutes early. Her supervisor works on the other side of the office and would never know if she’s at her desk or not.

From reading your blog, I first thought it was none of my business; maybe she worked something out with her manager, and with her being in different department, her absence doesn’t affect my day at all so I tried not to let it bug me. The thing that I can’t get over is that she submits time sheets to me for payroll that are complete fabrications, saying she gets here on time every day and leaves on time and her manager approves them. I guess what I’m asking is, should I take it upon myself to tell her manager that she is submitting false time sheets?

It’s possible that there’s an innocent explanation for this — like that she does work in the morning before leaving her house or at night once she gets home, and that her manager has okayed that arrangement. But of course it’s also possible that she’s just fudging her time sheets.

Because you run payroll and you’re seeing this happen right in front of you day after day, it’s reasonable to say something to her manager, but you should phrase it in a way that doesn’t assume either way. I’d say something like this: “I wanted to mention to you that I noticed Jane’s time sheets report that she works 9-5 every day, but she frequently arrives at 10 and leaves around 4:45. I know she might have arranged this with you and it’s all above board, but I wanted to flag it in case it’s something you didn’t know and would want to be aware of.”

3. Can I ask for a different interview date?

I have actually gotten an interview for a job I really want. However, I am away on holiday. I could drive back, but obviously that’s a day out of my holiday. Are you entitled to ask for it to be brought forward from a Monday to the Friday before?

You can always ask. Say it this way: “I’d love to come in and interview. I’ll be out of town on (dates). Would it be possible to do it on the 15th or another day instead? If not, I can see if I can figure out a way to drive back.”

It’s possible that they’ll tell you that they can’t offer other dates (sometimes interview schedules can be rigid if an interviewer has to come in from out of town, for example), but it’s entirely normal to ask and they might be able to easily accommodate you. I’ll often offer just one or two dates initially because I’m trying to keep scheduling easy, but I’m happy to find other times if the ones I suggested initially don’t work.

4. How can I tell my friend her job-search gimmicks are a bad idea?

I have a friend who is currently looking for a new job in retail or service. Because I have some more experience than her in interviews and professional development, she’ll frequently ask me for advice. I have recommended your site, recounted what’s worked for me, and pointed her in the direction of career guidance services in our area.

She doesn’t seem to process this and does awful gimmicky stuff like printing her resume on colored paper to stand out, calling to follow up less than two days later, and visting stores/restaurants following the interview so that they’ll remember her.

I worry all this is turning employers off her and making her come across as pushy, but I don’t know how to say this tactfully. Any advice?

“I know you’re really trying to stand out to employers, but everything I read says that most employers see this kind of thing as gimmicky and too aggressive. It’s likely to hurt you more than help you. Here are a few articles about why this will turn off good employers.”

If that doesn’t work, though, you might just need to leave her to figure it out on her own. It’s a good sign that she’s seeking advice, but it’s not a great sign that she’s apparently ignoring it once she gets it.

5. Could an error in a job ad be a test to see if people notice it?

I have worked in editing for approximately 15 years. My experience includes fields that require meticulous language (such as medical documentation) and fields that allow for soft language (such as marketing brochures). Despite feeling confident in my ability to determine the appropriate time and place for precise writing, I’m stumped when it comes to job advertisements that include grammar or spelling errors. Should they be ignored, or mentioned? They’re almost certainly mistakes, but what if they’re tests, given my field?

Professional contacts give me mixed feedback. Responses include “Job ads go through a dozen hands before posting, so errors happen” and “You find fault with things for a living; you need to lighten up.” I’ve also been told that “I’d want to know that an editing applicant noticed, even if it was an error. If you said nothing, I’d wonder if you missed it.”

It’s almost definitely not a test (and if it is a test, it’s weird and a sign of a company with odd judgment). Good employers who want to test your editing will give you an editing test that’s clearly labeled as that. They’re not going to deliberately put errors in the job ad to see if you’ll point them out when they haven’t asked you to, especially since so many people would feel rude or uncomfortable doing that as a job applicant. That doesn’t mean you can’t mention it, especially if there’s a natural opening to do it in the interview, but I’d assume that’s optional and not a test of your abilities.

{ 244 comments… read them below }

  1. Evie*

    I have seen a few editing jobs that at the end say there are x number of mistakes in the ad. Send a list of them. But again they are clearly asking/telling you that is part of a test.

    1. Mookie*

      Are you in editing or writing by any chance? I’ve heard about this fear–that postings (or even follow-up correspondence from employers) contain hidden tests–from a number of technical writers and editors. I don’t know whether they really regard it as a possibility or if it’s just your bog-standard, tailored-to-your-needs nightmare scenario.

    2. Rusty Shackelford*

      Wow, that’s an awesomely realistic test, because whenever I edit something, I know how many errors are in it, so I know when I’m done. ;-)

      1. TootsNYC*

        as a copyeditor who hires and tests copyeditors: Ha! i totally agree.

        I create copyediting tests, and then people who take it find new ones for me.

        I need to create an answer key for my current test, and my plan is to copy markings from about 12 actual tests done by actual copyeditors.

        1. Lore*

          I know! We did our current test with an answer key (starting with a section of a real copyedited manuscript and then infusing it with lots more errors–it was actually really fun to make because I got to poll my team for all our pet peeve mistakes and then seed the test with them)–and even so, I keep having to update the key. (Most recently: did you know Webster maintains that “countryseat” is one word, no hyphen? Why?)

          1. Snork Maiden*

            Side-eyeing Webster here. Or should that be sideeying? I’ve only ever seen it “country seat”, though admittedly my reading on châteaux has fallen off lately.

            1. Lore*

              Don’t even get me started on “brickred.” Which makes my blood-red (not “bloodred,” damn it, Webster!) blood boil.

    3. Spooky*

      I was coming here to say exactly this. It’s not common but I’ve seen multiple ads like this. They’ll tell you if they want you to find and mention the errors.

  2. Mike C.*

    Re: OP2

    Just a slight frame of mind issue, because I work in Quality – if there are any shenanigans going on here, there are two people screwing things up, not just one. If the employee is fudging timesheets, then the manager isn’t checking up on it (that’s what the signature means) or is just giving them the free hours and is creating fraudulent documentation of their own.

    You have two possible cases of people making up documentation, not one.

    This being the case, is the manager still the best person to speak with?

    1. Mike C.*

      To clarify, I’m speaking in very general, non-legal terms here. I’m not trying to imply some sort of civil or criminal liability in signing internal documentation that work was done when it wasn’t. Rather it’s going to get the manager in trouble if she was indeed signing off on time without checking. It’s still a serious trust issue and puts everything else that was signed into question if there’s a problem.

      1. anon and on and on...*

        I’m seeing it as more of a going-forward kind of thing, like if it wasn’t an arrangement, the manager can now be on the lookout for when the employee arrives late/leaves early and ensure she’s not signing off on timesheets that are wrong in the future.

    2. Ari*

      We have hourly workers who submit time sheets signed off by their supervisors and they are always riddled with mistakes. None of our managers (except my own, the head of HR) check to make sure the numbers actually add up. They just glance it over and if it seems good they’ll sign. I do payroll now, and it’s so tedious going to folks and saying “you actually worked x hours, not y” every pay period.

      1. Mike C.*

        That’s so frustrating. It’s not difficult to do it right, even with something as simple as an excel spreadsheet.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d still start with the manager. It’s her responsibility to handle it, and going over her head is a pretty aggressive move for something that might have a perfectly innocent explanation. It doesn’t sound like the OP is charged with investigating time card reporting; this is an unusual case because the person happens to sit right by her, so it’s more of “hey, I noticed this and just wanted to check” rather than a big investigation she’s undertaking.

      1. JessaB*

        And I think that if OP weren’t in payroll this would not be a thing to discuss at all. It’s only because the OP is responsible for paying people that this has a valid reason to come up at all.

        1. OP*

          Thanks everyone! JessaB That is exactly why I didn’t want to get involved!- The EE came in today 45minutes late, and 30min late on Monday. So on Friday if she submits for 8:30 I’m going to send the email Alison suggested

    4. hbc*

      If my company had a rule that I had to sign off payroll hours for a non-exempt person every week, I’d do it, but I wouldn’t check it to the resolution of an hour. How am I supposed to verify? Make sure she checks in with me every day? Do spot checks at her nominal arrival and departure times? Put a camera at her desk?

      Sure, if I knew she took half a vacation day, I’d check for that, and I think it’s perfectly reasonable for OP to mention the pattern. But her non-exempt status is supposed to mean that both manager and employee worry about performance and not the clock. My signature on this document would mean “I’m cool with her getting her standard paycheck and no vacation deductions this week” and not “I will swear on a stack of bibles that she was present and worked on these projects exactly as described.”

      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

        Yeah, HR is proposing this kind of system for us.

        I’m like, okay sure, you can do that but fair warning, I’m not going to check up on jack crap and I’m just going to sign whatever people give me.



        Joy to Work With

        1. Hooptie*

          This just cracked me up. I’m STILL not sure if you were serious or sarcastic but I love it!

      2. Patrick*

        I think you’re confusing exempt and nonexempt – nonexempt workers are generally paid hourly, so if an employee is nonexempt and fudging their time sheet they could be getting paid for hours not worked (or even OT not worked.)

        Even if the employee in the letter was exempt/salaried this could be a big issue – there’s a difference in having flexible hours or being under 40 hours on a given week and working 9:30 to 4:30 every day when the expectation is that you’ll be working an 8 hour day.

        1. Rafe*

          She’s shorting the company nearly 1 full work day a week. That’s 52 extra paid work days off a year, or more than 2.5 straight months of extra paid time off. I assure you OP is not the only coworker who has noticed. (And any manager who is flip about that and/or never even noticed but just signed the fraudulent hours really should not be surprised if this results in their own immediate termination.)

          1. Rafe*

            Oops sorry, I was calculating coming in an hour late and leaving a half hour early. The OP’s example involves the employee taking just 5 extra straight weeks of paid time off rather than 10.

          2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            I really don’t agree with that. Really really don’t agree with that. Really don’t.

            First of all, we’re dealing with a work world that allows for flexible scheduling. Back In The Day, when I was a youngster and the world was different, there was a thing called office hours. I worked in an office where EVERYBODY started at 8:30 AM, had lunch at 12PM, came back at 12:40PM and left at 4:30PM. As a first line manager it took one glance at the desks (no cubes or offices, just desks) to see who was where and who wasn’t and who was a minute late!

            Now I (and my managers under me) are dealing with schedules that run from 6am to 8pm, with 100 employees (mix of exempt and non-exempt) who not only can set flexible schedules, they have the flexibility to change their hours on certain days without much hassle, since, that’s what the new work world allows for.

            Which, is great.

            But I don’t have a single manager who has the time, let alone me for my direct reports, to verify that human beings are where they are supposed to be every day.

            Right now we have a swipe system which, there’s a lot of problems with a swipe system including the “factory worker feel” of it, and I grant those issues, I do, but damn to hell if the alternate to that is going to be my managers being responsible to verify that 100 people are in at whatever time, leaving at whatever time and taking lunch at whatever time to whatever time. Not going to do it. No.

            1. Rafe*

              Of course you don’t agree — you said you’re a manager who, under this type of time entry system, “wouldn’t check up on jack crap and I’m going to just sign whatever people give me.”

              My company did indeed have an hourly worker who routinely came in an hour late every day, left a half hour early. The expectation was an 8 hour work day generally; we already had great flexibility, but this was a flat-out abuse. She was fired. And if you were her manager you would have been too.

              1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                You manage issues with good systems, not with draining valuable expensive management time checking up on individual people at various times during the day.

                What you are advocating is a bad system that costs the company way more money in lost management productivity than could be “saved” by all of that people chasing.

                Come up with a better system.

                1. Mookie*

                  Yep. Feeding the bureaucracy with higher-level, skilled employees is expensive and unnecessary. Dilemmas like this are solved with the right technology (user friendly, reliable, audit-able) and a cost-effective way to insert regular human oversight.

                2. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                  Reply to Mookie (out of reply thread levels :) )

                  Yeah and unfortunately we have a system that works but it’s flawed. We have a swipe system where employees swipe in and out so there’s a general record and no need for a drain on any manager’s times.

                  The problems that HR sites are real. First of all, people don’t swipe in and out for lunch nor do they swipe out to go the company gym at the end of the day so the times are general. Second, it’s got a factory worker kinda feel which, that’s not the feel we want to present to our employees. Third, and the biggest, our receptionist is in charge of the data and HR *hates* that, with good reason.

                  So I appreciate HR wants to change the system that my managers and I are happy enough with, and I’ll support changes, but it’s not going to be at the expense of my manager’s time. That’s my line in the sand.

                  Make a better system.

                3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                  @Mike C,


                  YOU ask HR. I’m just trying to make some sales here. YOU ask HR why this is such a bad thing and it all must be changed immediately because they are so appalled.

                  They can change whatever they want but it’s not going to be at the expense of sucking revenue generating time into it. See: my line in the sand.

                4. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                  @Mike C

                  Ha, no I was laughing in frustration. I’ve had this conversation round about with HR 10 times in the last two years. Since I’m half the company they have to get me on board with any changes they make and I so freaking *give* fine change the damn system for whatever the hell reason you want to but it’s not going to involve sucking my manager’s time and focus.

                  (I don’t think there’s a thing wrong with our current system but I’m out of conversations with HR I want to have about it.)

                5. animaniactoo*

                  re: Alternative to swipe system – if your team is all computer based, there is tracking software that you can install on the computers themselves, which will allow employees to log on at the “start” of their day, and logoff at the “end”. They can also log themselves in and out for breaks, lunch, etc. I believe that you can also adjust it so that a log in within the 1st 5 to 10 minutes of the day is automatically counted as being there at “9” (or whatever time they’re supposed to be there), and the logout is similarly adjusted within a 5 to 10 minute timeframe, depending on what you choose. But don’t quote me on that, my knowledge is vague and sketchy based on what I’ve discussed with people who have such systems in place.

                6. animaniactoo*

                  I googled and came up with an online one that includes IP tracking to make sure they’re actually logging in from their computer. There are ones that don’t rely on the internet if not everybody is in front of an internet accessible computer:


                  I know nothing of how well it works, just an example of one I found as an investigation path if this is something that you’d be interested in.

                7. Jadelyn*

                  @Mike C. – there’s a whole conversation to that question tbh, about the devaluation of blue-collar/industrial/trades jobs and the cultural attitude we’ve developed that says white-collar work is somehow inherently superior to blue-collar work regardless of the levels of skill, knowledge, or effort involved in each; but the fact remains that, in the current context, most white-collar professionals will feel demotivated and diminished by a “factory worker feel” to their timekeeping system, because of a perception that because of their occupation type they are “above” that. It’s probably mitigated at least somewhat by the level of flexibility Wakeen talked about their employees having re scheduling, because rigidity is the other major demotivating factor I’d expect to see there and without that it’s probably not as catastrophically bad as their HR is making it out to be. I do agree with their HR group that it’s time to modernize, though – just some kind of bog-standard web-based login system should take care of the problem.

                  Though I have to say I don’t get why their HR is agonizing about this. Timekeeping systems aren’t that hard to set up…? I mean I’m in the middle of a nightmare systems implementation for a new HRIS that includes timekeeping and has been dragging on over a year now, but the timekeeping part was set up in about 6 weeks and the most stressful part of that had nothing to do with the systems and everything to do with training employees on the new system (and the amount of tech support I ended up having to provide for a week or two after the go-live).

                8. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


                  Yes, you’ve hit spot on HR’s motivation. Their proposed solution is time sheets with supervisor or manager sign off.

                  Which is fine with me as long as HR is going into this eyes wide open that my managers are not going to be responsible for checking in on or up on employees and time worked any more than they do already in the normal course of things.

                  Which, is where we all get stuck and nothing moves forward. HR wants to hang it on my managers and I’m not going to do that. It’s absolutely impractical, with the wide range of working hours and the managers’ other responsibilities.

                  If you’re going to honor system, say you are going to honor system and I’ll sign off on that.

                9. animaniactoo*

                  Wakeen – any possibility of proposing a pro/con debate company wide over which system people think is better.

                  Because as nice as all that sounds and stuff, as a white collar worker the last thing that I want to have to do is rely on having my manager be available to sign off on my hours. If there’s a question a week later about whether or not I was actually there when I said I was, I want some digital proof tyvm. I want something that is fact based and not opinion based.

                  And above all, I do not want to spend time filling out an excel spreadsheet of my hours every week when I know full well that there’s a freaking app that will do that for me!

                10. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


                  I’m kinda loving and hating you both at the same time today. :-)

                  Really good input, I appreciate it (mostly ;) ). You know I want to tell HR for god’s sake do whatever the hell you want just stop talking to me about it.

                  But, based on your input, I’m going to re-litigate this a bit.


                11. the gold digger*

                  diminished by a “factory worker feel” to their timekeeping system, because of a perception that because of their occupation type they are “above” that.

                  Here’s what ticked me off so much about having to complete a timesheet at my previous job: I was exempt. I was told never to enter more than 40 hours for a week, even if I had worked more than 40 hours. I didn’t get paid OT and I did not get comp time, even for working THANKSIVING WEEKEND.

                  So yeah – I was a little bitter about having to complete that damn form every week. It was just a waste of time and I gained nothing from it.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Rafe, you’re talking about this as if every organization functions that way, but they don’t. Many, many effective organizations don’t nickle and dime people on time if they’re getting great results in their jobs, and also recognize that many exempt workers put in additional time at home in the evenings and over the weekends. I’d never fire a manager in that environment for not noticing or caring that an employee was in the office seven hours a day instead of eight. If a person is getting great results in their work (and doesn’t have a job that requires specific hours of availability for clients or whoever), who cares what the exact hours are that they’re working? (Well, old-fashioned/less effective managers do, but that shouldn’t be what we’re going for here.)

            2. Mike C.*

              I don’t think checking in on occasion is totally unreasonable, and if your unable to check in, then someone else needs to sign off. Otherwise, what’s the point?

              1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

                Checking in is different from my signature (or another one of my manager’s signatures) verifying that the hours on the sheet are indeed the hours that have been worked.

                I have people who start at 6am. I happened to have an email conversation with one of my people who starts at 6 this morning and I can anecdotally tell you that yes, he was working at 6am, today. I’m not going to make it my business to come up with an excuse to have an email conversation with him at 6am a few times a week just to check in, and god if I can even remember to check in at whatever the heck leave time he has. (when do you eat lunch when you start at 6? 10 am?)

                We really do have extraordinary flexibility available to people and that damn well better come with their own personal responsibly to not lie about their hours.

                (As I said above, we currently have a swipe system which flawed, but is one of the reasons we can offer people these options. When people come in and when they leave is transparent and we don’t have to worry about that part.)

                1. dmcmillian72*

                  “We really do have extraordinary flexibility available to people and that damn well better come with their own personal responsibly to not lie about their hours.

                  Yes!!! ALL of this! Like seriously, are people managing children or something? Lol!

            3. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*


              I suggested that and HR shot me down, something to the effect that a white collar environment should not have workers checking in that way.

              Okay, fine. You want to go with honor system? Fine. But we’re not going with the other options of my managers walking around checking up on people instead of the managers doing their already full time job.

              That’s better?

              1. Karo*

                Wait, seriously? I can’t imagine working in a white collar environment where I had to fill out a time sheet instead of just clocking in and out on a computer. That’s legitimately ridiculous. It’s like they came up with a system and decided they want to implement it and heaven help he who stands in their way.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Iv’e always clocked in and out–either on a time clock with an actual paper time card (yes, in an office!), or with a digital swipe card–and now on a computer. So there is no doubt when I’m on or off the clock. I only have to make entries now for PTO.

                  I don’t know what exempt employees do here. They might have to enter hours or only PTO. I’m not sure. I suppose if you’re talking about billable time, though, a time sheet might be more feasible.

                2. Parfait*

                  I’m exempt and we fill out time sheets. (a) We have to track how many hours we devoted to each project for budgeting purposes, and (b) we have to enter any PTO we took during the time period. While I make sure my hours add up to 40 each week, nobody is checking up on me. And how could they? I respond to email on my phone, I work at home sometimes. I have 7AM meetings sometimes.

                  Anyway. I don’t find the idea of filling out a time sheet ridiculous. There are reasons we need the information. But my manager just approves whatever I submit, because I’m a grownup and so is he.

              2. animaniactoo*

                Um. I am distinctly white collar. I have not submitted a time sheet since our company *outgrew* the environment that made that an acceptable way to handle payroll. Granted that I’m also now exempt again, but there is nothing factory floor to me about logging in and out on my computer… (we actually have a digital fingerprint id scanner, as not everyone in the building is computer-based).

            4. myswtghst*

              I think there’s a middle ground between what you’re saying, and what Rafe is saying. If people truly are hourly, and are paid for hours worked, then it’s reasonable to expect them to be at work close to 40 hours, even if there is some flexibility in when those 40 hours happen.

              But if someone really is only working 35 (or fewer) hours per week when they’re expected (and paid) to be there for 40, chances are someone will notice without having to check in every day. I’m totally with you that babysitting grown ups is not a good use of any manager’s time. But I’ve also seen enough situations where the person consistently working less than they were paid for was found out, either by a swipe system like you mentioned, by time logged in to their systems, or by not being there when the manager did need something at 4:48pm from an employee scheduled til 5pm and a coworker offhandedly said “oh, well Joffrey always leaves at 4:30pm…”

              I think it is important that there is balance – it’s good to give workers some autonomy, so they don’t feel like a primary schooler asking to take a bathroom break. But it’s also good to ensure people aren’t taking advantage of the system, especially in a way which is visible (and morale-tanking) to their coworkers who only see them getting away with it.

        2. hbc*

          You’re right, I’m confusing them, so it’s even more important for OP to raise it. (I even wrote “exempt” at first and then corrected it.) But I still wouldn’t consider my signature as “I certify that I know this information to be true.” I have to sign stuff all the time where, say, I haven’t confirmed that the dinner receipt reimbursement was for customer plus employee entrees versus the employee taking a doggie bag.

          Unless otherwise stated on the document, my signature means I’ve seen it and it’s true to the best of my knowledge, whatever reasonable limits my knowledge has.

        3. Alton*

          There are non-exempt salaried employees. My position is like that, and until we switched to another system, my time sheets were more of a formality as lon as I worked 40 hours–I didn’t turn them in for a good month or so when I started because neither my manager nor I knew that payroll wanted me to, and it didn’t affect my pay at all.

        4. INTP*

          I think this is something that is different between companies. I’ve worked at hourly jobs where they told me I didn’t need to be accurate to the minute, just put in my regular hours every day unless I came in or left significantly outside the normal time. My boss certainly wasn’t requiring me to ring a bell or something to confirm when I showed up, left, and took lunch. Someone fudging by half an hour every day would be a trust problem with that specific employee, not a reason for everyone in the company to start having their hours watched like a hawk.

          1. Sunflower*

            Totally agree. I’m non-exempt, work with a lot of other non-exempt people. We are technically hourly but our time cards automatically populate to a full day of work M-F. A lot of us simply hit submit every pay period- we don’t actually fill anything out. Our ‘timecards’ don’t require us to give specific time(s) worked- just hours worked per day. Many of us make adjustments like come in 15 mins late on Monday and will come in 15 mins early Tuesday and don’t make the time card adjustments. I’d imagine it would further confuse our bosses who just want us to get our work done. Many of our managers are in diff. offices than us and no one is watching over us. I know many people who have left other companies over having to clock in and out everyday. I’d imagine with a clock in and out, many would feel they need to be here on the dot everyday and it’s really not necessary in our jobs.

      3. Sydney Bristow*

        We have an email address that we email when we arrive and leave with subject lines In or Out. I don’t know how often they are double checked, but it provides an opportunity for spot checking if necessary.

        Although I’m paid by the time I actually bill and have to use timers to track my work (law firm) so the In/Out messages are pretty pointless for my job. But it takes 2 seconds so I don’t mind.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Interesting. I wonder if it can tell if you emailed from your phone, in the parking lot, claiming to be In. Asking for a friend.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

            Tell your friend, at the least, wipe out the “sent from my iPhone” tagline at the bottom.

          2. Sydney Bristow*

            True. It works best for staff and temps that don’t have external access to email. Since my position isn’t paid that way it doesn’t really matter for us. Im not sure why they keep making us use it.

          3. The Cosmic Avenger*

            With most email systems, yes, you can tell if a message was sent through the company servers or via cell phone by looking at the originating IP address or SMTP server, regardless of the content. That said, I had never checked that for a work email until just now, and I’m sure that I am the only person on my project that knows how. I only know how because I ran a local Yahoo! Group, and we used to get both spammers and scammers from outside of our local area and banned locals who disrupted the group, then tried to reapply under different names after being banned.

        2. Muriel Heslop*

          When I worked in publishing (~100 employees), we clocked in and out on our computers using a time card program of some kind (ADP?). Super easy, non-invasive, and not a huge burden for managers who had a mix of exempt and non-exempt employees. Only able to be done at work; we submitted paper time sheets for work done off-site.

        3. Jaydee*

          I’m guessing (as a fellow lawyer) that the In/Out emails are less for tracking your hours worked and more for the benefit of whoever answers the phones to know whether you are there or not.

      4. Gary*

        “How am I supposed to verify?”

        At one of my former jobs, we had flextime, and I wanted to work 8-4 instead of 9-5. Trouble is, punctuality was never my strong suit. So I came up with this idea, which my boss okayed: officially I’d still be 9-5, but I’d send my boss an e-mail with the subject line “Arrival.” The time of the e-mail would represent the time I came in, and however much before 9am I got there, that was how much before 5 I could leave.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.*

              Sorry. The conversation in this thread is getting disjointed.

              I’m referring backwards to My Own Problems where HR wants to change a system for my employees, number of 100. Gary was replying back to me and……..

              see: conversation getting disjointed. Time to move on! :-)

          1. Badlands*

            So…don’t scale it. There are alternate systems for tracking large numbers of hourly employees. The email system sounds like it works relatively well when you only have a handful you need to track, where investing in a punch in clock is overkill.

        1. Trig*

          This thread has made me so happy to have a flexible schedule, because apparently it’s not all that common!

          We’re paid for 37.5 hours/week in my office. Our manager trusts us to work that time, and manage it on our own. So if I can’t haul myself out of bed in a timely manner and I get in at 9, I stay til 4:30 (if I eat at my desk). I don’t have to tell my manager that’s what I’m doing, and she doesn’t check in on me at 4:28 to make sure I’m still there (spouse’s boss used to prioritize butt-in-chair time and invent really transparent reasons to stop by his desk).

          Similarly, if I’m working from home and I want to get groceries or go to the doctor or just go to IKEA on not-a-Sunday, I can do that. I just put in a bit more time when I get back. Or work a slightly longer day the next day.

          Sure, people could abuse this and not actually work the whole time… but butt-in-chair time isn’t as big a deal as getting all your work done. So unless someone’s performance is suffering, the manager isn’t checking up.

          We do submit timesheets online at the end of the week, but it’s by percentage of time, and mainly so they can bill the appropriate project. Pretty sure my boss just hits ‘approved’ without really looking.

          ANYWAY all I’m saying is I really like this system and it’s a huge perk of my job (and something I should make a point of asking about in future job interviews).

      5. Stranger than fiction*

        Wait, non-exempt status would mean exactly the opposite,. Her hours do need tracking, thus the time sheet (although excel is a crappy way to do it for exactly this reason).

  3. Ari*


    Are they non-exempt salaried or non-exempt hourly? I’m non-exempt salaried for the first time in my life and my boss is really lax about what the timesheet says, so long as the hours worked is accurate. We also use an informal excel doc. For example, if I come in at 9:15 and leave at 5:45, but my time sheet says that I came in from 9 to 5:30 instead, she doesn’t care because it’s the same amount of time worked anyway. I do change the timesheet so it reflects accurately if it’s a big deviation from my schedule (ex. I come in at noon when I usually come in at 9), but otherwise, I don’t sweat the small changes. If I were hourly, it’d be different, but since I’m salaried and the only reason we keep time sheets is to track overtime, no one is fussy about it.

    1. Ari*

      But also if I didn’t have to manually track this at all and submit a timesheet, I’d be happy. Does anyone have recommendations for a good, easy to use, and preferably cheap time tracking program/software/site they’d recommend?

      1. N.J.*

        I used to use Toggl at a previous job. The interface is simple enough and it has a web-based component as well as an app. It used to have a free version, at least a few years ago.

        1. NotASalesperson*

          As someone who handles billables, Toggl is the best. It allows me to color code by project and client and I love it.

      2. Newish Reader*

        Where I work we do exception reporting for exempt staff. We only have to report time away from the office instead of time worked. Our internal software has two sections – one for non-exempt employees where they record actual time worked each day and PTO and one for exempt employees where we only record PTO. Each supervisor reviews and electronically approves their employees’ time.

        The expectation is that supervisors are ensuring that exempt staff are working the appropriate hours to get the job done. HR just needs to know how much vacation and sick time is used to adjust those records.

        1. myswtghst*

          This is what we do as well. As an exempt employee, I just report PTO (and can only do so in increments of 8 hours or more). I do have a set schedule, but mostly just so people know when they can schedule meetings with me / find me if they need help with something, and we’re pretty laid back about it if people need to come in late / leave early / take a long lunch occasionally.

      3. GigglyPuff*

        At university I worked at during grad school, had a time clock program. You clicked on the icon, put in your name and password, this clocked you in, and before you left, opened it again, and clocked out. I always kinda liked that system. Then at the end of the pay period, the manager would print out everyone’s time and you’d sign off on it. Not sure what the program was called though.

        1. the gold digger*

          When I worked at Macy’s, I clocked in at a cash register. I was really shocked when I answered the phone one day and it was a co-worker telling me she was going to be late and asking me to clock her in. I wanted to say, “You seem to have missed the entire point of clocking in!”

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      My situation is the same: non-exempt salaried, and I manage my time to ensure that no overtime is accrued.

      If I come in ten minutes late, I still write that I was on time, and I may take a shorter lunch or stay later. Usually, for lunch, my co-worker and I eat at our desks and are available to answer phones and respond to faculty requests. Our lunch period is one hour, but we write that we take half an hour, because we’re fully available to faculty during that time. Then, on Fridays, we close the office around 3:00 because no faculty are around and our department head permits us to do so.

      1. Heather*

        This is what I used to do also. Thankfully, they changed our time reporting system to one where you enter the number of hours you worked rather than time in/time out. Best thing ever!

        1. Calliope~*

          We’re a 40 hour work week and are expected to just enter 8 hours a day/40 hours a week.

          We are salary (I never remember whether non-exempt or exempt? If we worked OT, we would need to be paid) but we are not allowed to enter OT and are expected flex our time to equal 80 hours per pay period. There are weeks we might work 42 or 43 so the following week we are to work less. I know this is not legally accurate but we actually like this flexibility for things like doctor appointments and what not and so none of us want to rock that boat where we’re required 40 per week, period, end of story.

          1. Calliope~*

            “(I never remember whether non-exempt or exempt? If we worked OT, we would need to be paid)”
            * what I meant to say here is legally we are supposed to be paid OT.

  4. Sandy*

    Ah, the work phone and laptop question… The thing is, while it might not be reasonable to expect, it’s also very common to expect. Since they did issue you a work phone and laptop (and you manage a seven days a week team), I would say that there is an expectation on their part that you will be prepared to use them outside your work hours.

    I just went through three years of this with my boss, who not only expected around-the-clock availability, but demanded that we keep our phone outside the SHOWER just in case she called.

    I would have gone completely crazy if I had kept that up the entire three years. A few strategies for you in the event that your boss *isn’t* reasonable:

    -if there was a genuine, time-defined reason, like a product launch or an unresolved issue that needed to be monitored, then I was genuinely around-the-clock available.

    -outside of those times, I made it clear with my boss that I would check my work phone twice a day on weekends: once at 10 am and once at 8 pm. That way, any issues that popped up wouldn’t go unnoticed for very long, and it made her feel better to know that (even if it meant that most of the time, there was nothing that needed to be addressed!)

    -we set up a system with both my boss and my subordinates: if there is a genuine “crisis” that requires my (or their) attention outside of work hours, then you call, you don’t email. In my case, it meant that if my work phone actually rang (I have it set to beep only if there’s a call, not an email), it meant I went sprinting for it, because it meant something was REALLY up. You could set up a special ring for work if you wanted.

    I want to make it clear that I don’t think that my boss’ attitude was a healthy, helpful, or effective one. But sometimes bosses do things that are none of the above, and aren’t reasonable about recognizing that. If that’s the case for you, OP1, then see if you can test out some of the strategies above.

    1. T3k*

      The only problem I see is what one defines as a genuine crisis. At my last job, the first time I was unexpectedly out for a few hours, my boss called and you’d have thought the place was burning down by the panic in their voice. When I finally got in, it was a minor problem that was easily fixed in 5 minutes >__<

      1. Sandy*

        Completely agreed. Thankfully, most of us were able to work out a system where we felt that if the phone rang, there was a genuine reason for it.

        If there wasn’t, then it was dealt with in 5 min and then I could get on with my day without having to babysit the phone.

      2. SystemsLady*

        Agreed. Some of my clients have a very, very different definition of “crisis” than we do. (Stuff like “it’s 7pm at the end of my shift Sunday, you’re in tomorrow, and I am having trouble with this app in a way I’m having trouble describing, but I really need you to look at it now”…)

        1. Grapey*

          Love the username :)

          As another systemslady (sort of), the only weekend email I’ve replied to was a very new employee I had given some minor training to the previous week. She made a mistake in our tracking system that I knew was extremely easy to fix, and I could also read the panic in between her lines and wanted to help her out. I felt sort of like a superhero when she said how thankful she was, lol.

    2. OP#1*

      I might try these tactics if I keep getting messages outside of work. As I do want the role to work and my Manager has made his expectations really clear (Now, not so much at the interview stage). I had a laptop and mobile in my last job and picked up issues outside of work when they came up. But it never felt like it was an issue. Maybe because they were genuine emergencies. I didn’t get frequent texts or calls after 6pm or at the weekend for things which weren’t time-sensitive. In fact my previous manager placed a really high value on his personal time and felt we should too.

      1. rando*

        I often silence my notifications on weekends to preserve my sanity. I look at my phone often enough that I end up seeing any new text messages or emails anyway.

      2. AnotherHRPro*

        This really depends on the job and your organization’s culture. The company phone is a good indicator that they expect you to be available outside of work hours. After all, that is the purpose of the phone! You really need to have a conversation with your manager to get a better understanding of what exactly his expectation is for connectivity after hours and on weekends. You can also check-in with colleagues to get a better idea if this a organizational thing or a your boss thing.

        I will let you that at my company the higher you go, the more available you need to be. I take calls, texts and emails in the evenings and on weekends. I take my laptop on all vacations just in case. But as Alison mentioned in her post, I know that about my company and I am well compensated.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          In my company, having a company phone does not come with the expectation that you’re available out of work hours. It is for people to do their work and be reachable when not in the office *on work sites*. Unless I’m running a ’round-the-clock project, I turn it off, completely off, when I decide my work is done for the day. Because I’m responsible, this doesn’t mean I turn it off at 2 pm and disappear into a movie theater unless that fits with my project schedule. It also means that sometimes it is on 24 hours a day for several days and is on my nightstand when I go to sleep. My job intersects with situations that could (unfortunately) actually turn into emergencies, so I don’t begrudge this. But, I also have no trouble Turning The Phone Off and, ime here, because everyone in my company knows what our work is like, no one expects me to keep it on all the time just for the fun of it.

          Most things in life do not require constant connectivity. If the OP has a 7-day-a-week team, I think there should be a tag-team of team leaders so neither has to be working all the time. Even a ship at sea — which *is* a twenty-four hour/seven day a week job — has duties delegated that allow the captain to sleep more than three hours at a time. Ditto the fire department.

      3. misspiggy*

        Just chiming in to say that self and husband both have/have had work laptops and phones, and are not expected to be available 24/7. He manages a five-day team and works for a seven-day organisation. He will answer his work phone if it rings, because it’s usually something legitimate that needs his urgent input. But if he misses a call it’s no big deal, because he’s not expected to pick up on his off time. Neither of us check email out of hours unless there is something time sensitive that we want to engage on.

        Your situation with managing a seven-day team is a little different, but if you used Alison’s assistant manager approach and Sandy’s strategy, that would be more than reasonable.

      4. Lindrine*

        I hear ya OP! I have a job where I need to be alert for issues at certain times (did thing x arrive at venue y on time?) but they are not common. I like Allison’s idea of deputizing someone, maybe a weekend shift team lead or two. Also Allison has talked before about getting in alignment with your manager and this is the kind of thing to have a chat about. It is tough but yeah. Good luck!

    3. INTP*

      My issue with this letter is that it sounds like the employer wants a seven day per week manager for the seven day per week team, just working remotely a couple days per week. This should have been disclosed up front. Checking email and texts a few times a day and responding to emergencies is pretty standard, but having to respond immediately and do things like check in on deadlines is not.

      1. MashaKasha*

        ^ This. OP is basically expected to work 24-7. That’s not realistic. Everyone working in my field gets a laptop these days, and all managers get a work phone. But that’s for emergencies, not to maintain business as usual on nights and weekends.

        1. the_scientist*

          Agreed. There is a difference between being reachable in the case of a genuine emergency, and working 7 days per week, which is what it sounds like OP1’s boss actually wants.

    4. MashaKasha*

      OMG, shower. There are a slew of awkward situations going through my head right now, with people being forced to answer your boss’s calls in circumstances when they, ahem, normally wouldn’t. Wonder how much of that she really expected, and how much of that she actually got.

      Besides, who can hear their phone while they’re in the shower anyway? And don’t most showers take, like, under ten minutes? Unless someone’s life depends on the boss’s call being answered within ten minutes, this makes no sense at all!

    5. Cucumberzucchini*

      I feel like this kind of thing is only reasonable if A) It’s communicated to you before you start a job/promotion and B) The upside is really big. I was in a similar position but the salary was really nice. And even still it was hard and I felt like quitting frequently.

      Everyone needs downtime to unplug and recharge. Expecting this kind of connectivity = burnout.

    6. Stranger than fiction*

      Yeah she needs to get this kind of clarification from her boss. He sounds like a real piece of work if he got all hot under the collar over something non urgent. Maybe the easiest thing to ask this guy would be “so when am I completely off then?”

    7. C Average*

      I had a situation like what you describe. I quite literally slept with my work phone under my pillow. I logged on to head off an incipient crisis the morning of my wedding! For the six years I had a company-issued laptop and phone, I did not once go on a vacation without taking my work laptop along. My husband and stepkids would notice and remark when I had a weekend that DIDN’T involve responding to work emails and dealing with work situations, because it was such an unusual occurrence.

      Looking back, I blame both my employer and myself.

      My employer should have understood that it was unreasonable to expect one person to be available and responsive 24/7. When it became clear that a component of my job (social media) never rested, they should have figured out a way to staff up to deal with the nonstop demands of the job. They should have figured out a way to arrange for true coverage when I was out of the office, so that I could have a real vacation and recharge so as to avoid burnout. The director should not have thrown a public email tantrum, copying in my manager and her manager and everyone but God, when it took me five hours to respond to an urgent email on a Sunday because I was out hiking with my family and didn’t have reception. Their failure to see these things as problems worth addressing reinforced my belief that this stuff was normal.

      And I should have spoken up. Like so many Gen X-ers with a liberal arts degree, I was so, so grateful to finally have a non-retail job with a salary and a 401k and a laptop and all the trappings of grownup-hood. I felt that complaining was ungrateful and inappropriate. By not giving voice to my in retrospect reasonable concerns, though, I instead wound up feeling martyred and put-upon, and I’m sure I acted out in some passive-aggressive ways as a result.

      tl;dr = Speak up, calmly and politely, when your work-life balance is being unreasonably encroached upon. Otherwise, the encroachment will probably continue.

      1. MashaKasha*

        Good god! I did work at a job with that type of coverage once. But we had at least three people on rotation. Yes, we had 5-15 minutes to respond to a P1 ticket. But only during our on-call weeks! To assume that you’ll never have a life outside of work again, and to throw a tantrum when that life does happen, is straight up crazy.

      2. myswtghst*

        “Speak up, calmly and politely, when your work-life balance is being unreasonably encroached upon. Otherwise, the encroachment will probably continue.”

        Yes, this. It’s better to speak up now, while the situation is relatively new and you’re figuring it out, than to wait until your boss has unreasonable expectations which they feel are supported by the fact that you’ve already been living up to them.

        Approach it as “I want to make sure I am available to you and to my staff if something urgent arises, but I also want to maintain my work-life balance so I can be effective during my in-office hours.” Then, suggest a plan: “I can commit to checking my email twice a day on weekends – once in the morning and once in the evening, and to responding to texts and calls within 1 hour when I’m away from the office.” Or less, or more – whatever you’re comfortable with. Then, once you both agree on a plan, stick with it.

      3. the_scientist*

        I have a family friend who is the fire chief for a moderately-sized city and surrounding counties. He’s the top guy in the fire department, the one that appears on TV during emergencies. Sure, he’s on call a lot, but he’s still able to go to Mexico for a week with his family, for example. He can use all his vacation time, and can take actual days off (when his work phone gets turned off and he doesn’t have to check his email).

        If a fire department (that deals with actual life or death) can figure out how to arrange coverage, pretty much any other business can figure it out. Seriously. Not even surgeons work 24/7/365.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        Holy crap–on your wedding day? NO.
        Though I can see how someone in their first non-service job could easily think that’s the norm. It should not even be a thing. Gah.

  5. Edith*

    #5: Intentionally including a typo in a job ad would be pretty shortsighted of the employer since it wouldn’t just weed out potential hires who didn’t notice it or noticed by didn’t point it out– it would also weed out good editors who took the typo as a red flag and chose not to apply at all.

      1. Oignonne*

        That’s fantastic! I, of course, misread it as “Murphy’s Law” in your comment and was a bit confused about the relevance to the situation.

  6. Kara*


    Ugh, gimmicks. The calling is the worst to me.

    Can we do a thread on “worst job seekers”? I had one this week that submitted their resume via the recruiting site as asked, but then proceeded to call my personal cell five times that day, twice from an Unavailable number (then left a message – seriously). I tried to ignore the calls, as I was busy that day and wasn’t intending to make prescreen calls until next week; however, when the applicant called me the next morning at 7am, I had to respond. He seriously did not get that this was not the normal way to apply for a job. Smh.

    1. Joseph*

      Maybe others have different experiences, but I can say that I’ve personally never seen a truly outstanding candidate be pushy or use gimmicks. It’s almost universally the candidates whose resume wouldn’t stand out on its’ own…so rather than standing out for excellence, you’re standing out by ignoring norms and irritating me. Um, congrats for getting noticed?

      1. Liane*

        This is something Alison has brought up every time she answers a “I want to do [Gimmicky Thing] for my resume/cover letter” question.

    2. Sami*

      Wow. I do not understand how anyone thinks that’s appropriate behavior in any setting, to be honest.

      My office is hiring, and I recently overheard a candidate knock on my boss’s door (next to mine) and start asking questions about the search. When she left, my boss was like, “I very specifically didn’t ask her name because I didn’t want to hold it against her.” No! Our work requires good judgment; we should absolutely hold it against her.

  7. LW 4*

    LW with pushy job applicant friend here! I’ll try your advice and report back. I really hope it works.

    1. CMart*

      You didn’t mention if your experience was also in the retail/service sector, and if it’s not you might want to take that into consideration when fielding your friend’s ideas. First, because you might have to push back against “but you don’t know this field, it’s different!” as a defense. Second, because well… restaurants (my experience) and likely retail really can be different, at least when it comes to the following up with a call/dropping by to check out the place. At least that’s been my experience in the Chicagoland area.

      Every restaurant I’ve worked at in the last 15 years nearly required the two-day check in. If you called to follow up on your application they’d make a note of it and put you in the “definitely consider” pile. If you didn’t follow up and there were enough applications from people who *did* follow up they wouldn’t particularly look at you, which was nearly always the case. It’s also been my experience that showing up and being really pleasant to your waitstaff while you’re there is a quick and easy way for someone on the inside to put in a good word for you. This became even more important when most places moved away from paper applications (where you likely spoke to a manager in person and it was less necessary to check in for details) to online applications.

      To that point–definitely find out if she’s dropping off her colorful resumes to places that don’t actually accept resumes and only accept online applications. THAT is definitely a major annoyance in this industry.

      1. SophieChotek*

        I hate to agree…because it does go against everything we’ve been taught here, but in my observation only, when I work at the coffee shop side-gig, people that came in person (maybe 1 week after submitting a job application online) to follow-up were more likely to at least be promised a look by the manager too — especially if there were lots of applications.

        It ebbed and flowed. During times of way too many application, the applicants who presented themselves well and follow through were more likely to get a promise the manager would at least look through their electronic applications and look at it (no interview guarantee); during times of few applications and desperate need, then of course the manager interviewed everybody. And the checking in could really be hit or miss–if the manager was in/was in a good mood, etc.

        And of course, unsurprisingly, it also helped if the person checking in could add: And I am related to [former employee], [long-time daily customer], etc. At least where I work these things actually helped.

      2. Orca*

        Though this can vary-I just left my retail job of 5 years, I worked at 3 different stores and none of my managers EVER liked being pulled away for application reasons. Not that it would exclude them from the running at any of them, but it was more an annoyance to them than a boost to the applicant.

      3. Mona Lisa*

        I’ve worked part-time retail jobs off and on for the last 10 years, and I can corroborate your opinions with my experience. Managers always took note of which applicants either came into the store or called to ask about an application instead of just filling out the on-line form. If they particularly liked the person (personality or styling), they would put that person on the top of the pile. It’s so interesting how the norms of working at least mid-level retail are so vastly different from our normal working advice.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          This was my brother’s experience working retail in college. He just walked into Sears, asked if they were hiring, filled out an application in the store, and was hired same day to sell tools and appliances. He had a similar experience at another store I can’t remember and at a couple of restaurants, too. Oh, and a moving company and a car wash (the car wash took a week to get back to him though, so he showed up one day and told them he was ready to work – they handed him a bucket).

      4. themmases*

        This was my experience too working retail in the Chicago area. I actually got my first job (at an Eagle Foods– remember those?) because I listened when my mom told me I had to call and follow up! They were still using a paper application and they had lost mine. Another friend was hired on the spot at a coffee shop when she showed up in person, the manager happened to be in and just liked her.

        I always figured it was because no one owned these processes, they were disorganized, and if you could make someone’s job easy by being right there and eager and pleasant, then great! And it ruled out that you had already taken an equivalent job somewhere else– pretty likely with retail and food service.

        1. Trig*

          Yeah, I got my one retail job (at an independent outdoors clothing/gear store) by dropping in with a paper resume. I wasn’t even going to apply there, but I was in the neighbourhood to apply to Large Chain Outdoors Store and figured, why not! The manager was in, glanced at my resume (no retail experience), interviewed me on the spot, and hired me that day. I worked there for a good 3 years.

          Soo… yeah. It’s all about context and who owns the hiring! Smaller retailers using paper vs. larger chains with more formal processes can be super different. And it’s a world away from both the public library job and formal office job I’ve held since! So while some advice cross-pollinates, other advice does not.

      5. Stranger than fiction*

        Yeah, when I worked in restaurants it was before most places were doing online applications and back then you literally only got hired if you came in person to check because the managers didn’t really want to go through applications and call people in, so the friendly persistent ones got hired when the timing was right, like someone just quit or they’re gearing up for summer or whatever. Sometimes you’d get hired on the spot when first handing in your app. But, then my kids started applying to restaurants a few years ago, and they were pretty much dismissed with a hand wave and “go online” everywhere they went. It some restaurants in the area now have “cattle calls@ where the add gives a couple days and times to come apply and be interviewed and then that’s your only option and the line might go out the door and some don’t get in in time.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’ve seen those cattle calls at job centers too. There was one during my job hunt for Five Guys when they were just opening up here in this city. I did apply, but I never got a call. After watching them run around while waiting for my order one day, I felt real gratitude that they didn’t, LOL. I don’t really want to go back to that sort of work if I can help it.

  8. Lisa*

    LW5 be careful, this can backfire if there is any possibility the “mistake” was not a mistake.


    I was in charge of public teapots. In our particular branch of the industry it was usual and customary that a portion of our public teapots had publicly-visible spouts, whereas in other parts of the industry, all spouts were to be inward facing and completely outside of public view.

    Another manager in my department forwarded me an email she’d received from an applicant to one of her open positions. In researching our company, he was very concerned to have discovered that we had publicly-visible teapot spouts! Since this is – clearly – NEVER done, we must have accidentally faced our teapots the wrong way!! He is just trying to be helpful and bring this error to our attention! And of course, he was just vague enough that we couldn’t tell from his email if he was confused about our public-facing spouts or had actually found an error where private teapot spouts were publicly visible.

    This was a company culture where if someone cried “Wolf” you were expected to go check the woods. And the hiring manager who was my co-worker happened to be the type who loves to catch someone making a mistake. So I got to spend a few hours verifying that all of our teapot spouts were positioned correctly, so that I could tell her I had looked into it, but all was in order and her applicant appeared to be unfamiliar with public-facing spouts.

    He wasted my time. He wasted her time. He displayed his ignorance of the industry. And had he been hired he would have gotten off on a wrong foot with me.

    Could this scenario apply to copyediting? Possibly. I’ve run into weird formatting, alternate spellings and odd uses of words can make what is an industry standard to an insider look like a mistake to an outsider.

    I’m not saying that’s the case here but just something to keep in mind.

    1. Liane*

      “Could this scenario apply to copy editing? Possibly. I’ve run into weird formatting, alternate spellings and odd uses of words can make what is an industry standard to an insider look like a mistake to an outsider.”

      I am familiar with only a small part of the copy editing field (games), but I can see this. I frequently Google terms that seem to be oddly used or ask the writer in question, because it could be a mechanic for a game. Also, grammar, mechanics, and spelling vary a little between countries or regions of the world. (I am looking at you, Quotation Marks!)

      1. LW5*

        The incidents in question were along the lines of “If your a team player and enjoy working in a dynamic environment, apply today!”

        I am familiar with international style differences, but you raise an excellent point that it’s very industry-specific. I have not worked in gaming, but it sounds like an intriguing challenge. Thank you!

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      I just love love love your analogy here.

      Also, as someone who advertises for copyeditors and proofreaders, yes, I would be annoyed at anyone pointing out an error that I didn’t ask them to find, until that person and I have a working relationship where they’ve established my trust to my satisfaction.

    3. Artemesia*

      I’ll try to teapot this to keep the location private, but we had a new very abrasive employee (we knew it, we shouldn’t have hired her, but it was a tough to fill position that she had great credentials for beyond her personality) who yammered to every staff member and employee she could find about the embarrassment of the ‘illiteracy’ of one of our other colleagues who ran an important program for young people that had a poster advertising it. She saw it on his door and that is used an ‘obvious misspelling’ of a very common word which demonstrated that he ‘was either careless or illiterate.’ She lamented about how this made us look to the world at large. The word in question was a play on words using a term used by this organization and understood by the audience for this power. If she had come to me her manager with this, I could have enlightened her and avoided her embarrassment. By the time she got to me, she had made a fool of herself with everyone she worked with.

      1. Artemesia*

        ‘poster’ not ‘power’ thus demonstrating that all comments about typos contain typos.

    4. LW5*

      The incidents in question were more along the lines of “If your a team player and enjoy working in a dynamic environment, apply today!” but I do appreciate the warning. I will keep this in mind.

  9. Yamikuronue*

    For the weekend thing: I work in IT but not in an on-call job; the norm at my job is that they expect you to do your best to answer in an emergency or if something is happening you’re responsible for over the weekend, like a change to your system, and it breaks down. What strikes me is that it was a text. In a situation where they need your attention ASAP, shouldn’t they actually call you? That’s a much louder and longer ring typically than a text. The whole situation sounds fishy to me, like someone is going to be a problem boss here.

    1. Noah*

      Yes, this. My employer gives me a stipend for my cell phone. In general, I’m expected to answer the phone when they call, no matter the time or day of the week. However, if it is not an emergency people will send an email or text, and that means it can wait. If they call, something is happening and I need to answer. Generally these are true emergencies and only happen once every few months at most. I’ve gotten used to sending the OCC staff a quick email if I know I will be outside of cell phone reach for awhile, not that big a deal.

  10. HR Pro*

    #5: I used to be a recruiter for a company that hired a lot of writers, editors, proofreaders, etc. We tried to make sure our job ads were error-free but sometimes something slipped through. Every now and then an applicant would tell us about the errors they found in our ad. I actually found it to be a turn-off — they were not making a good first impression with me if their first communication was a criticism of us (pointing out errors).

    One of the funniest times: An applicant claimed to find multiple errors in our ad — clearly, he said, we needed to hire him! I didn’t think the errors he found were actually errors, so I showed it to our copy editing manager, who confirmed that the person was wrong about almost every instance he claimed was an error. That resume went into the “no” pile!

    1. Not Karen*

      Reminds me of the time a coworker insisted that the proper way to end a sentence with parentheses was (like this.)

      1. Trig*

        Possibly they thought that because of UK/US differences of where punctuation goes with quotation marks. But I think with parentheses it’s the same (should be outside, unless the entire sentence is in the parentheses).

      2. Isben Takes Tea*

        I am a publishing professional with an editing background and that sentence is making me convulse.

    2. TBoT*

      I agree with this completely. I hire writers and editors, and I don’t think an applicant has ever let me know about an error in an ad in a way that came off well for them. I’ve had people point out errors that didn’t exist (usually because they read something wrong) and errors that were in copy on the job listing site (not in our posting) that was totally out of our control. Aside from that, almost every time anybody has noted an error, it’s been framed in a way that came off as snotty and arrogant (“If you hired me, there wouldn’t be an error in your job listing like there is right now”) whether the error was really there or not.

  11. LW5*

    I appreciate and look forward to comments on the hidden test issue. Please note that I am familiar with a variety of style guides and industry jargon, so it’s unlikely that I am misunderstanding an incident of uncommon/specialized usage. The incidents in question were more along the lines of “If your a team player and enjoy working in a dynamic environment, apply today!”

      1. Joseph*

        Particularly since nobody in the history of job postings has ever used the opposite. “Would you like to work in a static environment? Well, Company X is for you since we are terrified of change!”

          1. Kyrielle*

            Which is usually an apt metaphor for the places that describe themselves that way….

        1. Kelly L.*

          I’ve certainly worked in some static environments, but the people running them were never self-aware enough to realize it! :D

        2. Grapey*

          I would work there. My current company is so “dynamic” it makes me want to scream.

          Signed – someone that needs to document a process to make some other software work, but that won’t work if you change your process without validation every week!

        3. Lia*

          Hey, I worked there for 5 years! Despite consultants, endless meetings, and task forces, NOTHING changed!

        4. LW5*

          Now I want to think of jobs in which this would be desirable and appropriate, just for the challenge! A translator of dead languages, perhaps?

    1. Joseph*

      Even though it might be possible that some companies do hidden tests, I still wouldn’t bring it up right away because anybody who *didn’t* put it there intentionally would be turned off.

      If they mention it explicitly of course “What did you think of our ad”, then you can and probably should point out the mistakes. “Well, I think I’m a good fit because of [reasons that tie back to the ad]. And since you mentioned it, I even noticed that you used ‘effect’ instead of ‘affect’ in the third paragraph”.

      Also worth noting that you might be able to judge whether it’s a test by how many and how big the problems you see are. If it’s just one or two common mistakes (juxtaposition of two letters in a word, misused semi-colon, etc), then it could be unintentional. If it’s several mistakes over the course of the ad and/or a mistake that people don’t normally make, then it’s more likely to be a test.

    2. Mike C.*

      Frankly, even Google has stopped doing this stuff, because it simply didn’t work. I doubt that this is the case here.

  12. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

    OP1: had something like this with OldJob#1, but back in the day, not everyone had a cellphone, so she made us carry a pager that rotated every other weekend. When you had that pager, you were not allowed to not be within 10 minutes of the office if she called it. So that meant no shopping or movies when you had ‘the pager’, or going out anywhere. You were expected to stay at home waiting. She also demanded contact #’s of hotels etc when you went on vacation ‘just in case i need to pick your brain about something’. Not kidding, when i finally quit, she wanted me to sign this contract where she could call me in the evenings after my new job was over for the day to ‘pick my brain’, god how I loathe that phrase now! She was the most dysfunctional, needy manager I ever had to work for.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      It would make me want to type up a counter-contract where she would acknowledge that rights to the contents of my brain were solely and exclusively mine and promise to never again attempt to access those contents for any reason whatsoever.

    2. I'm a Little Teapot*

      No more than 10 minutes from the office?! In my area, at least, most people don’t live within 10 minutes of where they work. Not even close.

      And how much was she offering to pay you to be on call after your new job?

      1. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

        I think it like 50$/phone call. It was weird how my landline kinda stopped working shortly after that. I was very naive and this was my first job ever, it wasn’t until i was away from there that i realized ‘normal’ was not being so micromanaged and that some places treated you like an actual adult.

      2. WT*

        Back in the late 90’s my mom was a nurse and during her “on call shifts” once every other week or so she had to be within 20 mins of the hospital and carry her pager. If you didn’t live that close you were expected to still be in the area somehow either at someone’s home, a business or if you had to the hospital cafeteria. I was always glad we lived within the range, but it did mean there were times when we couldn’t leave to do something fun for the day.

        1. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

          And had we been a healthcare teapot company that would have made sense, but we were a regular old teapot company. She just had problems. She managed by guilt, case in point she really wanted me to postpone a vacation because of an incipient project deadline, however, instead of saying that she ‘left it up to me’. i was close to walking out on her at the time, so i called her bluff and took the vacation as scheduled. She got mad at me for not feeling guilty and ‘letting down the team’. Thing was, my part of the project had been finished and tested and was ready to promote, but since a few others weren’t done i was expected to stay late with them and give up my free time for ‘moral support’.

          It was such an eye-opener when i got out of there and found myself working normal 8-9 hr days without worrying about things off-hours. I had a life. It was nice, i recommend it.

          1. Trig*

            Oof, again, I am so grateful for my manager! We had a big teapot release in the works, and my part was done, but there were some finalization tasks left that I would normally do just before it went out. While planning my vacation, the best time was the week of the release date. I asked if I should delay until after the release, and my manager just laughed.

            In the end, the release was delayed, so I was very glad that she’d encouraged me to take my vacation when I wanted it and assigned someone else the finalization stuff!

  13. GigglyPuff*

    For OP #1, maybe if you’re not able to push back on your manager, it’s possible it might just be better to train your employees on what is and isn’t a reasonable issue to contact you for. That seems like one avenue to look into.

  14. Lily in NYC*

    #5: You know what this reminds me of? The time Alison confessed that when she was in HS, she used to correct mistakes the principal made in his/her writing – she actually used red pen and would put her corrected version in the principal’s mail slot. Don’t think we forgot that, Alison!

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Ha. Now that is funny!

      My daughter got called into the principal’s office once and threw him off his game. We live in a small, conservative town, and she had written a paper for her English class on why she is an atheist. The English teacher was new that year, and she told the students that she wouldn’t be able to fairly grade any papers that conflicted with her religious beliefs.

      My daughter was called into the principal’s office because the teacher would not grade her paper. The principal quizzed my daughter about the situation, asking a bunch of silly things that I can’t even remember now, but that my was able to deftly answer. The gist was that the principal was trying to get my daughter to make his job easier by backing off the paper that she’d submitted. He finally said that she was “putting [him] in a difficult spot”, and that he was going to have to find another English teacher to grade the paper. My daughter told him that she wasn’t putting him in a spot, that the teacher was putting him in a spot.

      We told a few friends at our Unitarian Universalist congregation what had happened, and several of them were all hot to go to the school en masse to have a word with the principal and the teacher. We told them we appreciated their willingness, but that my daughter had handled the situation to both our satisfaction. The principal got another English teacher to grade the paper, and then the next year, the original teacher’s contract was not renewed.

      1. BRR*

        I always love the “it’s not me doing this, it’s the real problem person doing this.”

        1. Liane*

          This is another one that needs to be embroidered on a lovely pillow. With a matching framed sampler. To pull the room together.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Great job all around! Sometimes I wonder if I should live in a more conservative area, to help temper attitudes and try to protect anyone who doesn’t fit in there, but I’m not sure I could handle it with your aplomb.

        And by aplomb, I mean not ranting my head off at the teacher and the principal.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          And by aplomb, I mean not ranting my head off at the teacher and the principal.

          Ha. If my daughter hadn’t handled herself so beautifully in the moment, I would have taken up the offer of having a dozen righteously-angry Unitarians descend on the school. I would actually love to have seen that. :-)

      3. Lily in NYC*

        Good for your daughter! It’s an amusing story but I am horrified at the attitude of the teacher and principal.

      4. Jadelyn*

        “Won’t grade student papers that conflict with my religious beliefs” is not even remotely in the realm of reasonable accommodation. What the actual hell. You’re not passing judgment on their beliefs, you’re passing judgment on their writing skills! I’m amazed that she was allowed to say that and the principal backed her on it.

        1. Trig*

          While the teacher makes me ragey, at least she was admitting her bias. I’d rather she do that than just give the kid a bad grade because she didn’t agree with it on a personal level.

          -Signed, someone who once got a bad grade in art class (during which she had enthusiastically completed all assignments) simply because the teacher didn’t like her (you bet my mom went up to bat for me; it was the first time I’d heard my mother speak ill to me of another adult)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yeah, it makes me perplexed and irritated that she wasn’t able to set aside her beliefs and grade the paper. I’d have been downright angry if she had given my daughter a bad grade instead of recusing herself for ridiculous reasons.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            It was a public school. I later found out from my daughter that the same teacher told other students in that class that they couldn’t write about being gay. The other students were similar to my daughter, and they, too, would not be deterred from writing what they wanted to write about. They and my daughter were all in the Gay Straight Alliance together, and they made standing up to that teacher their informal project for the year. They were supported by the other English teacher (the one who graded my daughter’s paper when the original teacher wouldn’t) and the AP Psychology teacher, who were co-advisors of the Gay Straight Alliance. I suspect that the input of those teachers had something to do with my daughter’s teacher’s contract not being renewed.

    2. Willis*

      My mom used to correct and save poorly written flyers or letters from our teachers or school. I guess she was collecting evidence for a grammar lawsuit against the school system or something.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        HA! But I totally get it – it’s way worse when schools/teachers commit grammatical errors. My cousin is a teacher and I cringe when I see her emails because if she can’t figure out their/there then maybe she’s not fit to be teaching children.

        1. Teapot Project Coordinator*

          OT, but I got a ranty email from the co-worker of a client the other day and it had there/their and then/than mistakes ALL over. As in, more than 10 mistakes.
          I almost wrote back, like, I can’t take your complaining email seriously because it’s so grammatically incorrect that if I read it as you wrote it, it wouldn’t mean anything.
          I resisted. He’s better to speak with on the phone from now on, prevents my eyes from burning.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            oooh, it must have been so hard to resist sending that. I had a coworker ask me for “axis” to someone’s calendar last week instead of access and I had to sit on my hands to stop myself from correcting her (we don’t let her email outside people because she is so terrible at grammar).

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Oh my. We have a feature on our saas product where our customers can create newsletter type emails for their customers. I’m the lucky one who gets any reports of technical issues with the system, and sometimes customers will send me their sample newsletters saying something is wrong (some glitch where it’s not saving or didn’t send or something) and it’s so hard to not say anything like “something’s wrong alright and it’s your spelling and grammar” but I hold my tongue of course. It’s just so hard when you know they’re sending it out that way to their customers.
            (and yes, I know I type-o all over the place here but that’s just because I can’t use my iPhone.)

        2. Artemesia*

          A friend of mine who is also a teacher had twin kids in elementary school and one of their teachers systematically corrected their correct grammar to incorrect grammar. So difficult for her to handle on many levels as as you can imagine there were also ethnic differences as well as the fact that she was a teacher criticizing a teacher.

    3. Cafe au Lait*

      I did that with my colorguard/winterguard coach! She’d send last minute notices during third period for practice immediately after school. Since I didn’t have a car, wasn’t allowed to ride in friends’ cars, and public transportation didn’t run out to my neck of the woods, these unplanned practices out me in a huge bind.

      Correcting her run on sentences and misspelled words was very satisfying.

    4. C Average*

      In college, I worked in the campus copy center. I have a bit of a red-pen feature in my brain, and unfortunately it doesn’t have a kill switch, so I’d frequently comment to, say, a professor, “Do you want to fix that typo before I run off 500 copies of this exam for you?”

      My manager had to politely inform me that my volunteer copy-editing services were often unwelcome, and that I would do best to keep such observations to myself.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The best term I ever heard for it was headiting. I do it when I read. It’s an occupational hazard for writers, editors, copy editors, copywriters, etc. etc.

        I don’t blame you for asking–it would have sucked if the professor had blamed you for it later. “Why are all these copies wrong?!”

        1. Phyllis B*

          I temped at a radio station as a receptionist one time, and one of my duties was typing up ads to be broadcast. I would go the writers and point out misspellings and ask for permission to correct them. (Bangs head on desk.) I don’t know why I thought that was important, grammar mistakes, maybe, but who cares about misspellings when no one was even going to be seeing it? Luckily, there were all gracious about it.

      2. LW5*

        In college I worked summers at Staples’ copy center. A lot of people ordered business cards and other home business advertising products, and I was strictly forbidden to tell them about any mistakes I saw while processing their orders. The company played it off as not wanting to offend small business owners with know-it-all employees, but really it felt like a way to ensure repeat business. I felt gross about it, and tried to hint around when I could.

        1. Ada Lovelace*

          When I worked at the CopyCenter, we had to tell clients we will not edit your work. The orders will be completed as is on the original or proof. We would occasionally do minor edits but had to stop as it soon became “Oh rework my original document.”

    5. LawLady*

      I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I did this in high school, but with flyers/mailers from political candidates. I’d mark them up in red pen and then send them back. (Mostly one awful candidate for county commissioner who had truly awful grammar.)

      1. Cath in Canada*


        An old friend of my husband’s ran for federal office a few years ago, and there were typos and grammatical errors all over his official campaign’s Facebook page. After checking with my husband to see if he thought it was a good idea (I’ve met this guy a couple of times but don’t really know him), I contacted the candidate privately to let him know and offered to proofread his posts on a volunteer basis. His response was to block me on Facebook. Frustrating!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          And perplexing. If I couldn’t spell or properly deploy a grammatical sentence, I’d rather have someone in the background quietly cleaning up my act than to publicly look like a fool.

    6. Sparkly Librarian*

      I did that with my college newspaper – not every edition, but more than once. It was atrocious!

  15. Susan C*

    True story regarding availability:

    The other day, BigBoss was at my satellite location, and held an impromptu Q&A.

    At the end of the meeting, he checked if everyone had his mobile number. Because apparently, when he truly doesn’t want to be disturbed, he ‘can and will turn it off’, but otherwise we should assume he’s available 24/7.

    I’ll be honest, I’m still not sure how I feel about this revelation.

    1. WT*

      Did he give any indication that he expected those beneath him to be that available? If not it seems ok that he recognizes that as the big boss he should try and be as available as possible.

      1. Susan C*

        No, and I haven’t felt it anywhere else either, although some flexibility regarding unexpected crunch times and short notice travel is expected (with a strong encouragement to keep to a 40h week on yearly average, otoh) – but I haven’t been here long, so I’m still a bit wary.

        Still, for context, we’re somewhere upwards 1000 employees in at least six different time zones, so this is kind of… huge, as trust fall type gestures go.

  16. Florida*

    If your friends wants to use pink, scented resumes, and send a plastic foot to get her foot in the door, you offer advice once. If she doesn’t take it, that’s on her. A tactful way to give any advice is, “Here’s what work for me when I was in a similar situation…”

    If she asks for advice again, say, “As I mentioned before, I would skip the foot in the door gimmick. It makes you stand out, but not in a good way.” If she tries to convince you that her gimmick is a good idea, I would say, “That’s what I’ve always found works best. You asked for my advice, so I offered it.” You don’t need to negotiate with her about why your advice is good. One of the hardest things in the world is to give good advice, watch someone ignore it, and remain quiet about it.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Or, sadly, when she’s failed to find a job and comes to you about it, you can gently remind her “that’s why I had suggested doing X and not y”.

  17. B*

    #2 – Another side of the coin – How long has the employee been at the company and how often do they do extra work? If they come in 15 minutes late and leave 15 minutes early but have been at the company for years, get their work done well, and always step up when extra help is needed that is something major to consider. It is many times an unspoken perk, sometimes in lieu of a salary bump, which if taken away could cause morale to drop and then they will not go that extra mile anymore. I have seen it happen, and I have done it myself, where you start knocking me for 15 minutes then forget about me going above and beyond.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      But the employee is non-exempt. And a half hour late is pretty late for a non-exempt employee. The person’s day is 45 minutes shorter if she leaves 15 minutes early as well. That’s a pretty big perk to give someone and I doubt that’s the case here.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Yes, if they were going above and beyond, there would be pay periods with overtime making that obvious.

  18. Jenny Paycheck*

    OP #2 – I oversee payroll at my office. We have an online timecard system where you “punch a clock” – it’s actually clicking a button – to enter your arrival times, departure times and lunch breaks. During the past year, 3 hourly employees have been fired for falsifying timecards. They would punch in & out for shorter lunch breaks while still sitting at their desks, then leave the building for 2 hours. Sometimes they would arrive late, and send an email to HR (in another office) claiming computer problems, and ask for their timecards to be stamped with an earlier arrival time. Or they “got busy & forgot to punch out” for the day, when they really just left early. And like other commenters have noted, managers aren’t watching closely enough to ensure that everything looks right when they review timecards.

    In every single case, it’s been brought to our attention by a coworker who resents seeing someone take long lunches or arrive late every day, and questions it with the manager.

    So now, in addition to the focus on managers doing more, I get to implement a routine timecard audit that compares timecard data for all employees with other sources – billing systems, computer logons, vacation calendars, security cameras, building card logs, parking garage access cards, etc. Because if 3 people have figured this out, management team thinks it could be far more widespread. :(

    Please, speak up.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Yep. A group of four people were fired at an old job for doing that. They’d all clock out their lunch hour at a time they weren’t going to lunch and then all leave together and take long drinking lunches. I was told they were specifically fired for the time card falsifying and not the drinking (they had some loose rules where sometimes this was ok, like entertaining a client or a remote employee visiting, or a celebratory occasion). And, I’ve had electronic timekeeping systems at my last several jobs. It really surprises me some places still use paper time cards or excel.

  19. Leatherwings*

    OP#1, I think you should work to set up some reasonable boundaries now, or you risk some genuine mental health issues (high stress at least).
    At my last job, I would get calls and texts all the time when I was gone. I worked 80 hour weeks and then went home and got text messages and calls in the middle of dinner, after dinner, while watching tv etc. Even in the middle of the night people would text with questions for the next morning. It was was exhausting and I still sort of panic and get queasy every time my phone rings even though it’s a year later. I encourage you to not let it get to the point where you’re hostage to your phone and laptop 24/7. Best of luck.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Yes and it’s pretty lousy they wouldn’t disclose that expectation when she was interviewing. Although they probably would have sugar coated or downplayed it, but Op still could have read between the lines if they had.

  20. KimberlyR*

    For #2:
    I think there is a difference between the payroll person reporting timesheet discrepancies and random similar-role coworker reporting them. Payroll’s job is to make sure that employees are being paid correctly-neither more or less than what they have earned. And while technically the manager should have the final say by signing the timesheet, in reality the manager just isn’t well-placed enough in the office, or too busy, to actually verify the in and out times of every employee under her.

    I work in a remote office from my boss and the rest of her team. We use a similar Excel spreadsheet for our times, and my manager has to sign off on it. My manager has literally no idea what time I get into the office or leave at the end of the day. She has never once questioned me on my timesheets-she just signs off and forwards them to Payroll. If I’m going to record any overtime, I make sure she knows about it and the reason why. Otherwise, she just approves my timesheets and trusts me to work the hours I say I’m working. (And I do, of course!)

  21. A Nonny Mouse*

    #1: I had a job once where my boss expected me to be available AT ALL TIMES. My title was “Chief Operating Officer/Paralegal,” but I had no decision making ability, could not hire/fire… basically I was an office manager/paralegal. So I really should have been non-exempt salary.

    I was paid about $45,000 per year, which I thought was a good salary, until I realized that essentially because I was working on average 80 hour weeks, I was making $10 an hour, with no health insurance or retirement. I slept maybe 6 hours a night, working in the office or at home until midnight and getting up at 6am to go in. I was doing everything from payroll to supply ordering to legal briefs to tracking down “that purse that I saw at that show I went to three months ago” (this was a real request). The last straw was when I had to go wait at my boss’s house for three hours with no heat because I was waiting for the furnace repairman. I quit after a year.

    I calculated the overtime I missed out on once, and it was something like $60,000. Now I work for a company that only requires 35 hours a week, gives me healthcare and profit sharing, and basically lets me come and go as I please within those 35 hours – for the same $45,000 a year! I’ll take the lost overtime for my sanity.

  22. Bob Barker*

    My company sent me to a (universally-required) sensitivity training once, where the outside trainers used an exercise sentence to demonstrate how we don’t properly notice things we expect to see. It was one that used “the” several times, and asked you to count up the Es, on the assumption that most people see “the” as a word but not as its constituent letters. That assumption is true, for most people. That assumption is not true for English textbook editors.

    So the poor trainers (who KNEW we were all editors) were shocked and dismayed that we all counted the Es correctly, and it kind of turned the room against them. We spent the next 2 hours primed to catch them in tricks: that photo is misleading, the scenario you want us to act out is implausible, etc. etc. Not the sensitivity-training experience I wanted or expected.

    Moral: trying to trip people up in their field of expertise creates a mood of distrust. I’ll tolerate and ignore a ton of spelling or grammar errors in communication, because I know people are human. But smug nonsense masquerading as a test? I don’t want to work with you, and you probably won’t want to work with my by the end of the day. Not a fan.

    1. Leatherwings*

      This story is hilarious. I appreciate that sensitivity trainings try to acknowledge diversity and get people to be more empathetic, but the truth is they’re often awful and full of “tricks” like this. Ugh.

    2. Apostrophina*

      I had someone within my company do this when they wanted me to look at stuff for a new client—added in some errors to see if I caught them.

      It was vaguely insulting (this was for a different office, so not as insulting as if it had been someone down the hall doing this), but I’m glad they told me, since I’d been looking the job over and thinking “Boy, I figured XYZ Co. would have more standards in place!”

    3. Anxa*

      I’m still hoping that one day I’ll be able to miss the misleading little red herring and be able to play along :-(

    4. Lemon Zinger*

      I LOVE that you caught their shenanigans! Those kinds of trainings so often miss the mark of what they’re trying to achieve!

  23. seashell*

    #2 reminds me of my coworker, he is hourly and has a different timesheet than those of us who are exempt. I thought the expectation would be that he’s here from 8:30-5pm. But he basically works 9-4:30 and no one says anything and it’s really annoying. I know it’s my boss’s job to monitor this but I feel like he doesn’t see when he comes in and he leaves before him, too. I’m holding my tongue because I don’t want to ask him what his hours are for clarification. I think part of the problem is he sees other people being lax about start and end times but we’ve been here for multiple years and he’s very new. Trying to let it go but it bugs!

    1. Leatherwings*

      Yeah, the difference between LW2 and you is that the letter writer is involved in time sheets. Your instinct that you need to let it go is the correct one.

    2. Always Anon*

      I complained about a co-worker who was exempt and was in the office from 10a.m. to 2p.m. everyday.

      The co-worker would go on and on about about how they worked at home during the rest of the time, or they wouldn’t come in at all and then would claim they were working remotely (despite also discussing how they where hanging out at their parents house or going out of town for a wedding). This wouldn’t have been an issue with me if I worked for an employer that permitted employees to work remotely. However, the only time that employees are permitted to work remotely is if they are traveling for work, or after core business hours (8a.m. to 5p.m.). So you bet I asked our HR manager if the policy about working remotely had changed.

      The person in question is now in the office during core business hours. Because enough people were asking if there had been a policy change that the issue was finally addressed by the person’s supervisor.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        He should have kept his mouth shut. Sounds like that villain who explains everything and then is shocked when you figure out his dastardly scheme.

        “I could have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids!”

    3. Anonymous for this*

      I’m an hourly person who works in the public sector. Where I work, there’s exempt salaried staff that have to fill out leave reports monthly and non-exempt hourly staff that have to fill out timesheets. It’s very much a caste system where the salaried staff have more flex time and more vacation time. My coworker who is also hourly is more resentful and refers to it as apartheid. I’m less resentful and could see some of those salaried positions being reclassified as hourly or replacing the leave form with a time sheet once the current person retires and if the position is replaced. My father is management in the private sector and has to fill out a time sheet to account for his 40+ hour work week, so I don’t see why the public sector should be any different.

      My male coworker got a flex schedule, which is hard to get in smaller departmental units, due to his child custody situation. If I got that perk, I know I would make sure that I followed the schedule very closely because of how tough it is to get. I wouldn’t abuse it. He wasn’t noted for his punctuality before getting it, routinely arriving 5 to 10 minutes late but claiming that he worked later to make up for coming in late. Now it’s more like he arrives 20 to 30 minutes late and makes sure he leaves at his scheduled time to pick up the kids. That’s at least one to two hours per pay period of time. I’m sure he puts down that he arrives at his scheduled time on his time sheet instead using leave time to account for his tardiness. That’s grounds for termination because it’s time clock theft.

      I’ve asked for a slight adjusted schedule during the school year because I use public transportation but it was denied because my boss said we’d be understaffed. She also forced me to take leave time when I came in later once during a break, something she has never made him do. She had no problem giving him an adjusted schedule but can’t accommodate someone who arrives early to let the cleaning people in and doesn’t lie on their time sheet. I know it’s not my business but it get irritating with the double standard. I could anonymously report him and his time clock theft to the state ethics hotline, but it would be rather obvious who did it. I’m also not sure I would be protected from retaliation because she for some reason has a soft spot for him, despite the fact he’s incompetent and lazy.

    4. Joseph*

      If he’s hourly and non-exempt, then it’s not your issue. Your “expectation” is that he’s supposed to be here from 8:30-5 but don’t actually say that you know that for sure. Maybe they changed his hours for budgetary reasons. Maybe he negotiated it as part of his offer in order to avoid traffic.

      The absolute most you can do, which I only suggest since he is “very new”, is to bring it up informally. “Hey, I was looking for you at about 8:30 yesterday to discuss the ABC project, but you weren’t here yet. When do you normally come in?”

    5. Lemon Zinger*

      I agree. My coworker comes in late, leaves early, and takes long lunches quite often, though never all on the same day. Our boss works at another location so she can’t monitor us in any real way. My coworker is job-hunting and our boss knows, so perhaps she is going on interviews… but I can’t imagine they’re happening all the time.

      Frankly, I just think she’s figured out what she can reasonably get away with.

  24. animaniactoo*

    OP1 – if mistakes like your team missing a deadline are unlikely to be noticed until you come back to work, there is a bigger problem than you not checking your phone or e-mail for several hours.

    I’m assuming that you’re not out of contact for more than the usual 2 days in a row? If that’s correct, if your team isn’t informing you of deadlines that are tight and might be missed, things you would then naturally monitor even on your time off, you have a communication problem with your team. If you can’t trust them to complete projects/tasks for deadlines that are on track or tight but manageable, you have a reliability problem with your team. If either of those things is in play, then you can look at addressing them as necessary to

    Otherwise – once in awhile a deadline is going to be missed. And how much can you really do about it before you come back to work anyway?

    As far as checking phone/e-mail, a couple of suggestions (pardon if they’ve been made already, I don’t have time to read comments before posting today):

    1) Set alarms on your work phone on days that you’re off. If you have them set to go off every few hours, the phone will essentially be reminding you to check it and you can then safely leave it wherever as long as it’s close enough by that you’ll hear the alarm going off.

    2) Designate somebody to have your personal contacts, not just your work contact info, and be able to track you down in the event of a true emergency. That person should be somebody on your team that you trust not to abuse the info – including letting your boss know that they know how to contact you, as it sounds like your boss would just pressure them to do so if it wasn’t an emergency but they wanted an answer right now, rather than reasonably waiting for you to be on the clock. Best setup is probably if that person is essentially designated as your team lead if you don’t have the ability to have a true assistant manager to delegate to.

  25. Workfromhome*


    I will make 2 assumptions:
    1.You are not totally desperate and cant possibly leave this job without starving
    2.You are not paid huge $s

    If those are true than ..get a new job. If a tram operates 7 days a week I can only assume that not all team members work 7 days a week 52 weeks a year. If they do its worse than I thought. If things operate 7 days a week then there needs to be at least 2 managers or manager and “alternate” that keeps an eye on things some of the time. I mean what happens if you get hit by a bus? Does the company close?

    If a job has rotating weeks of 7 day a week coverage fine but if you truly need to be available and checking work messages every hour of every day then you are probably making about $2 an hour.

  26. Marie-Claude Bennett*

    I worked in payroll for the Canadian federal government for over a decade and I definitely agree with Alison about the payroll question. If the manager approves something that’s false without knowing, that’s one thing, but if you as a payroll professional continue to pay for hours that are fraudulent, that’s unethical. Flagging it with the manager to put the onus on them is what I would do too; you’ll have done your due diligence. :)

    1. OP2*

      Thanks Marie – I am very anxious to see what her time card says on Friday. I will FU with any conversation I have with her manager

  27. NotAnotherManager!*

    I can tell how long I have been in legal because I was really surprised by the response and comments to OP1! :)

    I have been in law firm administration/management for the past 10 years. Since I was promoted into a management position, I am absolutely expected to check my email regularly outside of business hours and respond as needed, even sometimes when it is not a dire emergency. A 10-hour delay in response would not be okay, and someone would have called my boss if they hadn’t reached me in that amount of time. I carry my phone with me at nearly all times. (I also sleep with it under my pillow, but that’s because it’s my alarm clock and I have the noise/vibrations set to night mode from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. so it doesn’t disturb my husband.) My non-managerial exempt staff also monitors email outside of business hours and is expected to respond for their projects. They’re well-compensated.

    Attorneys also refuse to call in cases of emergency. I have asked, I have given out my phone number, we have it in the written policy surrounding mobile email access. They are expected to respond to emails regularly, and they expect that of everyone else who works with them. This is a joy to deal with for non-exempt employees. They do not understand why we can’t tether all the paralegals and make them 24/7/365 accessible like the associates (non-partner attorneys). We have been sending the labor/employment partners to explain this, since my non-attorney explanation of FLSA is not good enough.

    That said, we disclose this in the interview/hiring process. It’s part of the industry; it’s part of the job. If you want a 9-5 only job, this is not the industry in which to do it. Burnout is a problem, but law is a service industry. If you don’t fill the need, someone else will. Clients expect it of the attorneys, the attorneys expect it of the staff.

Comments are closed.