dating site drama, employee resigned but now isn’t leaving, and more

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

1. Two of my employees are dating and a third found one of them on an online dating site

I own and manage a small entertainment company with about 20 contracted employees. Two of them are dating each other, and have been doing so for years. They live together.

A third employee recently came to me because the male half of the couple popped up on Bumble, her online dating app. In his profile, he said it was there for “research.” We have no idea if the woman he is dating knows about this online profile. It all seems so sketchy.

The third employee, who happens to be the man’s designated mentor, is unsure of what to do. Should she tell him that she found him online, essentially confronting him on a personal matter, or should she let the woman know of what she found and let them resolve it privately? Should she do nothing? We are unsure what’s worse: telling the woman and giving off the sense that company leadership doesn’t “trust” this man, or telling the man and essentially making him answer questions about his private life to his mentor or boss.

Complicating this further, we are a tight-knit company and are all friends, so there’s a large amount of guilt and stress attached to this small discovery. What would you do, manager?

Oh my goodness, do nothing. This is 100% not anyone’s business at work. Maybe they have an open relationship, maybe they don’t, who knows. It’s absolutely not the province of anyone at work to step into this. Tell everyone to move along and let people have private lives outside of work.

2. Should I tell this employer that their offer is well below industry standard?

I received a job offer today and what they offered was way below industry standard. In fact it was about 25% too low. It was even lower than my salary as an entry level employee at my first job out of college and this job is requiring at least 5 years of experience (preferably 7).

My question is, should I point this out to them? I’ve worked in this industry for almost 10 years, so I know it well and have done my research and know what the position is worth and what the range should be.

This company has a good reputation and from speaking with some colleagues that have worked there and I’ve never heard that they pay their employees this far below industry standard.

The HR rep I spoke to said the offer over the phone then it was in the offer letter, so I know it isn’t a mistake. What if I just said, “This offer is well below industry standard. I’ve done some research and the salary range for this position, with this amount of experience, in our state is $X. It may be tough to find someone with as much experience as you’re looking for to agree to that salary.” How would you respond if a potential employee said that after making an offer?

I think it’s absolutely worth pointing out that they’re paying way under market, especially if you’re willing to walk away from the offer (which I assume you are, given the description here).

But I think you can strengthen that wording and drive the point home more effectively with some wording tweaks. In this context, “I’ve done some research” isn’t especially effective — because they’re going to assume that their research is better than yours (especially because often when candidates say this, they’ve consulted overly broad salary survey and aren’t applying them accurately). So instead of that, I’d say, “To give you some context, it’s lower than my entry-level salary 10 years ago, and well below what I’ve seen people earn in comparable roles since.”

3. My employee resigned but now isn’t leaving

I recently took over as manager for a small team. One of the employees on the team, Hermione, announced that she was leaving in June with a new job lined up. Hermione’s replacement was hired, with a start date of September 1. Before she could start, there were some problems with the program that handled Hermione’s new job. This is no fault of Hermione’s, of course; however, as a result, Hermione has remained on. While it has been helpful to have Hermione here to train her replacement, we’re entering a situation where I am not sure how to proceed.

I have been told by my upper management that they will not be terminating Hermione’s employment. I’m now in a place where I need Hermione’s replacement to start taking fully taking on Hermione’s duties to truly learn their new job. At the same time, I am struggling to find work to fill Hermione’s days. Because the length of her stay is so uncertain, I am trying to give her a stream of short-term projects. Complicating this whole situation, I have realized that Hermione had the potential to be a truly excellent employee, but her previous manager really failed her, causing her to look to leave. What do I do next? Should I advise her to look for a new job? Should I keep her in this short-term project limbo and just trust that new job will come through?

Well, the most important thing is to make sure that your new employee, the one who replaced Hermione, still gets the job that she was signed up for — meaning that you need to move forward with having her fully take on Hermione’s work. You can talk to Hermione and explain that you owe it to the new person to keep your word to her about what her job would be.

Also, talk to your upper management and find out exactly what “they will not be terminating Hermione’s employment” means: Can she stay indefinitely? If so, are they approving a new position on your team? Is there work to fill that position? If not, what are they proposing? Are they okay with paying her indefinitely when there isn’t much work for her to do? You’ve got hash this all out with them and really figure out what this means.

After you do that, it’s time to talk to Hermione and decide what to do next. If your company is willing to give her a different job, explain to her what that job would be and see if she wants it. If she doesn’t, be up-front with her about how long you can give her short-term projects.

But really, this all hinges on decisions coming from above you, so that’s where you really need to seek clarity.

4. Awkward chair set-up at a job interview

I had a one-on-one interview that took place in the interviewer’s small office. She sat at her desk and there was one other chair, set against the wall opposite her desk. The chair was several feet away from the desk, so that I would be sitting almost halfway across the office from her while we talked. While she walked to her desk, I pulled the chair up closer to her desk and sat down. When she sat down and saw that I had moved the chair, she seemed surprised but didn’t say anything. Was it rude of me to move the chair? (I moved it back after the interview was over.) Should I have said something first?

Ideally you would have said, “Do you mind if I move this chair a bit closer to your desk?” but I don’t think it was terribly rude of you to just do it. I’d argue it’s mildly rude to make an interviewee sit awkwardly halfway across the room from you. But I wouldn’t worry too much about it either way.

5. My coworkers are frustrated that I won’t cover their shifts for them

I work as a part-time status employee in retail. If I were to work an average on one more day per week, I would qualify for full-time status and benefits, which my manager would be accountable for. That said, I receive at least one call per week from coworkers who are either “sick” or have other plans, and thus want me to come in to work for them frequently on a moment’s notice.

I say no every time, although I do come in if my manager is in a crunch. I have never called in sick or been late in all my time with the company. I do a fine job and am responsible. I do not ask other employees to come in for me. I have been receiving attitude by other employees for failing to cover their shifts for them. Am I in the wrong?

No, not unless part of your job is providing some amount of on-call availability for these situations. But it doesn’t sound like that’s the case. You could try explaining the full-time status issue by saying something like, “Sorry, I’m restricted in how many hours I can work each week because of my benefit status.” That said, people might be annoyed anyway just because they’re in a bind and frustrated. As long as you’re warm and polite, though, that’s not on you.

{ 300 comments… read them below }

  1. Marina*

    OP 5, if you -never- cover anyone else’s shifts, that’s really counter to the culture of most retail jobs. A system where each employee is responsible for covering their own shifts only works if other employees agree to cover for them. You have your own reasons for not participating in that culture, and I suppose if you never get a cold or break your leg there’s no particular downside for you in doing that. But it is reasonable for your coworkers to be frustrated that you’re not participating in the “I’ll cover you if you cover me” culture that makes this kind of hourly work possible.

    1. Mustache Cat*

      Yes, I came here to say this! Shift coverage for coworkers is just part of the working culture for retail. Nothing excuses being rude or snippy to you because you choose to exclude yourself from it, but I don’t find it surprising that your coworkers are acting as if you committed a faux pas, because you kind of have.

      I realize your hands are tied because of your part time status, but would you be open to trading shifts? That way you wouldn’t be adding on too many hours.

    2. Bookworm*

      I disagree that it’s reasonable for her coworkers to show their frustration.

      I worked in retail for several years. It’s true that covering shifts is a part of the culture, but there were always some people who weren’t able to do that. I think that long as OP is not asking other people to cover her shifts, it’s an overreaction on the part of her coworkers if they’re visibly annoyed.

      1. Rafe*

        +1. Also, this approach to shift work is more common in restaurants than retail. Even the biggest big box stores that do not offer paid time off allow workers to call in sick (they don’t get paid) while a superviser arranges any needed coverage.

        1. Anon Ex-Geek Turned Real Geek*

          Speaking of big box stores and sick time…story time!

          I worked at, let’s call it… Worst Purchase… for several years. As a part-time employee, I got anywhere from 4 to 30 hours per week, depending on the season. Yes, I could call in and not have to arrange coverage when I was sick. Because I was part-time, I earned no sick time.

          The fun part: In my last year there, they instituted a policy that required employees who called out sick to use paid sick time, and this applied to everyone. I didn’t have any (as I’d never worked there full time) and I didn’t earn any (because I worked part time). Calling out sick and not using sick time was an automatic policy write-up.

          In a span of seven months I had a miscarriage and the flu, and if I’d had had to call out sick again, ever, I would’ve been fired. Shortly after that, I quit preemptively because I couldn’t afford to have a firing on my work history, especially since omitting that job would be a 3 year gap.

          Retail can be terrible.

            1. Anon Ex-Geek Turned Real Geek*

              If they could, they chose not to. Manager had recently been promoted and didn’t want to stir up anything. HR said that’s the policy, take it or leave it.

              Still, has a happy ending for me–I took the whole thing as a wake-up call that I couldn’t do retail forever and went back to college as a non-traditional student, and graduated with honors twice (community college and 4-year school) in a science discipline. I realized that I do want to have a kid someday and I want to be able to provide more than that particular retail pittance wage ever could. I was extremely lucky in that where I lived was very adult education friendly and my partner was supportive of my return to school.

              Seriously, though, screw Worst Purchase. I would rather wait for stuff from Amazon than give them my money now.

          1. Coffee and Mountains*

            The only time my mom ever interfered for me in my work life was when I worked at a big box store. I had a terrible migraine – the room was spinning and I literally could not function. I called in sick to work and my manager told me I needed a doctor’s note. My mom got really angry and called him back and told him that I was sick, I just needed a day in bed, it wasn’t practical for me to go to the doctor, I couldn’t drive to the doctor anyway, and she wasn’t going to waste her time, money, and energy taking me for them to tell me to take a pill and go to bed. My manager backed down.

            My mom was NEVER a helicopter parent, so it shocked me that she did this. But it worked.

            1. Emelle*

              Demanding a doctor’s note for stuff that needs time and sleep (stomach bug, some migraines, etc) makes me want to punch the sky. Good on your mom.

            2. labradoodle*

              Thats the worst. It happened to me to. I was working part time for minimum wage and no benefits. I called in sick with a migraine (there was no way i was standing on my feet and doing customer service for 8 hours with a migraine) and the manager wanted a drs note. I would say the majority of the population doesn’t go to the dr. for a headache and even if i were so inclined how could i have afforded it with no insurance and part time minimum wage work. I think requesting a drs. note is just a way to intimidate employees from calling in sick

            3. KH*

              That’s the stupidest policy I’ve ever heard. Unless the company is providing cadillac health insurance with no deductible, nobody in retail can afford to go to the doctor for a headache. If I’m in too much discomfort to go to work, I’m in too much discomfort to go to the doctor as well.

              …It’s probably not a policy – it’s probably just a bad, inexperienced ‘manager’.

          2. Ruffingit*

            That is insane. There is no way that policy could ever apply to PT employees since you would never earn sick time so they should have either had a separate policy for PT employees that made sense or given PT employees sick time. What jerks!

      2. Bwooster*

        I think the frustration comes from her being willing to come in if a manager asks but not if a co-worker does.

        Or just the fact that if she has a reputation for saying no, they only call because they’re truly desperate and the OP might be getting some of that spillover annoyance. Not appropriate but understandable.

        1. SophieChotek*

          Also if the manager is asking, presumably they have done the math and know it won’t push the OP into the next benefits range/endanger the status tier they are at. My manager (at coffee shop) would often ask certain employees to come in (or tell others that were willing to cover they could not) because of employement status tiers, or overall labor budget: some of the higher-paid employees who were willing to come in would throw of her labor budget, so the my manager would have to get approval from her manager in these emergency situations to go over labor budget or pay someone OT. Not infrequently, because her manager would not approve, my manager sometimes had to work 16 hour (double shift days) because she was not allowed to let an hourly employee go into OT to provide emergency coverage or not allowed to let a higher-paid supervisor cover for a non-supervisor associate.

        2. Sketchee*

          It makes complete sense that if it’s escalated to the manager, then it’s a bigger ask and more part of the job. Managers are there to manage this kind of thing. It’s pretty much the point, is it not?

        3. Jadelyn*

          Her manager has the authority to assign duties and her manager’s requests will automatically carry more weight as a result. If those coworkers are upset because she will come in at the manager’s request but not theirs, they apparently have some misconceptions about their level of authority over the OP, and that’s on them.

      3. Mona Lisa*

        I’m in agreement with you. The LW has a genuine reason for not being able to take more shifts. (It affects her employment status.) It would be nice if she offered to trade shifts every one in a while, but if she’s been with the company long enough, she might have set shifts and times. Trading shifts might short her on hours or put her schedule at a time that she can’t accommodate.

        I’ve worked retail off and on for almost 10 years so I’m very aware of the shift trading culture. However, now that I also work an 8-5, there are just certain hours that I’m never going to be able to work no matter what. Sometimes new employees will ask me to cover their daytime shifts, but most of my co-workers know by now that they can’t contact me to cover those for them.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          I was coming here to suggest that – if she can’t take someone shift, could she possibly offer to trade?

          She’s doesn’t have to and there’s nothing wrong with saying “no.” but it definitely is a culture thing to try to help out.

          But I think a nice “Sorry, I’m really close to X hours already, so I can’t take the shift. But if you could trade for my Y shift, I should be able to cover without going over.” might help (even if it doesn’t work out!).

          1. Elsajeni*

            This is my suggestion too — if you can’t add shifts, can you offer to swap? In my experience that’s what most people would be hoping for when they asked, anyway, since they’re probably not eager to give up paid hours.

            But I also think this is a really good example of one reason it’s bad policy to make employees find their own coverage! Managers know more of the details of everyone’s work situation than a random coworker does — they know who can’t take any more hours this week, who has totally open availability and who can only work morning shifts, who is and isn’t signed off to work each individual station or position within the store, etc. By making employees try to find their own coverage for shifts they can’t work, the managers at OP’s workplace are wasting the time of the people who need coverage, wasting OP’s time, causing frustration for everyone, and risking creating resentment among their employees. It’s a bad deal all around, and especially bad when people are calling in sick or have emergencies, which (since the OP mentions short notice) sounds like what’s happening here.

      4. Bob*

        My social schedule revolved around my work schedule, not the other way around. I always had that attitude when I worked retail and still do now that I have an office job. An exciting concert or party comes up at the last minute? I simply don’t go because I was already scheduled to work that night. Those are the breaks. But I was also the rare teenager who told his friends to move along because I’m not being paid to socialize so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

        1. Kate*

          I might have missed it, but I didn’t see OP saying she couldn’t take shifts for social reasons. It was because she was only hired for part-time and can’t go over her hours.

      1. Al Lo*

        Sure, the original schedule. Or if there was a mistake and they scheduled me outside of my availability. Or if I’m sick and have to call out last minute. But if I get tickets to a concert for this Friday and I need it covered, it’s up to me to call around and find someone to cover it.

        (In my experience, at least. I know that some retail jobs are much more unfair when it comes to the sick/mistakes part. I was lucky to only work retail jobs that actually honored my availability and time off requests, and fixed it if they didn’t.)

        1. Sketchee*

          Fair enough. And if you have to go to work and not go to the concert, of course it’s not your coworkers fault. It’s just part of having a job and responsibilities.

      2. Marina*

        Not in many retail or food service jobs. If you’re scheduled for a shift, you either show up, or you get someone to show up for you, or you’re no-show and after 2 or 3 of those you’re fired. Yet another way minimum wage work is entirely unreasonable for actual human beings.

          1. Jeanne*

            It varies. So often the schedule is posted week by week. It’s hard to ever make plans and you rely on switching shifts. Even with a schedule once a month, how do you schedule going to a concert or getting a colonoscopy? Sure you request time off but it doesn’t always work.

            1. Hotel GM Guy*

              That’s stupid management though. If you’re running shifts, then the schedule should be posted about 2 weeks in advance and you should have a decent request off system. I post a big calendar in the break room and honor the first 3 requests for any given day. The only rule is that verbal requests don’t count (because it’s not reasonable to expect me to remember 30 people’s verbal requests for weeks and weeks).

              1. Formica Dinette*

                I agree that it’s stupid management, but it’s common enough that the Seattle City Council passed a secure scheduling law this week.

              2. Queen Gertrude*

                It’s such an epidemic for people who work retail and service industry jobs that cities like Seattle have been trying to pass “Secure Scheduling Ordinances” (I would put in a link but that will put my comment in review). Actually Seattle just did pass it. It’s sad because when I was a teenager/college student, we mostly DID get our schedules two weeks in advance and the manager would make an effort to accommodate our special requests and personal schedules. But I guess scheduling software has gone and bypassed managers and made things more “efficient” and many many people in the service industry might not find out their schedule until the night before. From what I can gather it is worse in larger corporations than smaller businesses where people tend to be more hands on.

              3. Michelle*

                At my daughter’s last job, the schedule for Sun-Sat was posted on Monday of the same week. So by the time it was posted, a whole day of that week had already been worked and the second day was started. It was posted both in the store, and on a website that didn’t work and no one could access. (How did they post it on the website that didn’t work? I don’t know.) So every Friday or Saturday, my daughter would have to text her boss to see if she was working Sunday or Monday.

          2. Zillah*

            That’s not what’s being said, though – the dynamic being described is not being able to call out sick without jumping through a lot if hoops. In my office jobs, when I got sick, I called/emailed my boss saying that I was sick, and that was that.

            1. Joseph*

              “That’s not what’s being said, though – the dynamic being described is not being able to call out sick without jumping through a lot if hoops. ”
              Actually, in my five years of restaurant work, the dynamic was actually even worse than that – The real dynamic in food service is best described as “If you can’t get coverage, you better be here, regardless of how sick you are”.
              Coughing up mucus? Diarrhea? Active vomiting? Pink-eye? None of these are legitimate excuses – get coverage, come in, or get fired. End of story.

              1. Joseph*

                And before anyone asks, yes, all of those examples in the last sentence are 100% legitimate ones that I can *personally* verify. In fact, the person with pink-eye actually didn’t show up (citing the obvious “infect all our customers” rationale) and was fired for it.

                1. SophieChotek*

                  Ugh. So Unfair.
                  And it’s written in our manual that we cannot show up for work with those “infectiuos” issues; we have disclose, and not come in, but i do think we need doctor’s notes…as proof. Glad I’ve never encountered that.

                2. Whats In A Name*

                  This reminds me of a time I had poison ivy covering my entire body…I got special permission to wear long pants and a long sleeve shirt under my server uniform top but couldn’t hide the awful rash on my face. At that time I couldn’t afford being fired because I had rent to pay. It sucked and I am sure some poor customer ended up with poison ivy! But I was working breakfast shift and between the time I woke up and shift started I couldn’t get coverage.

                3. Dweali*

                  One of my last years working in a restaurant I worked while having laryngitis (barely had enough of a voice to call in within 30 min of working it was totally gone) and still got a “verbal write up” for not suggestive selling…my little signs I made to show the guest didn’t count…and I got to work with…I’m not sure if it was a stomach bug or food poisoning but not only could I not find coverage those 3 shifts (one was an open to close double) but they refused to even send me home once they saw that yes I was legitimately sick and not just hung over (these were great bosses…such a way with words they had…)

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  We had someone show up at the cafe one time after a motor scooter accident–she had a horrible road rash (on her face and arms–thankfully, no broken bones and it did heal just fine). But the scrapes were still so raw and awful-looking that the boss sent her home so she wouldn’t freak out the customers.

                5. Retail HR Guy*

                  Whats in a Name: Poison Ivy is only spreadable to others so long as the oil from the plant is still on your body. Once you take a shower you can’t spread it to others.

                6. Turtle Candle*

                  Yep. I once had an acquaintance complain twice over sick employees–once a cashier at a grocery store who clearly had a cold (although she was just as clearly trying to be very careful about handling things like produce, it was pretty easy to tell from her breathing that she was congested) and once a waiter at a restaurant who definitely looked ill. “How can they come in and work sick when they handle food?” he raved to me.

                  I finally lost my patience and explained that, unlike him at his white-collar tech job, they very possibly had no sick time, and indeed the waiter in particular would probably be fired for not coming in even if she was violently ill. So at best, their choices were “maybe make some customers sick, or not make rent” and at worst they were “maybe make some customers sick, or lose my job (and any real hope of a good reference from this job),” and that of course their interests were to come in, maybe wash their hands extra and hope for the best, but yes, work sick.

                  He was absolutely astonished. He came from a family background where not only had he never had to work a job like that, nobody in his family had either, and his high school friends (he went to a very fancy private school) only worked in the sense of, say, filing at their dad’s law office; none of them were running the drive thru at Burger King. He genuinely had no idea that, since sick leave was not mandatory in the state, that that meant that some people wouldn’t have it–and the people most likely to not have it were the people he most wanted to have it, i.e., the people actually handling the food he was going to eat. I think it was an eye-opener for him, especially re: the fact that paid sick leave is in some ways not just a personal benefit for the employee but an actual public health issue.

                7. Jadelyn*

                  When I got my current job (or rather, when it converted from temp non-benefited to regular with benefits) – which was my first non-temp, non-retail job ever – and realized that meant I would have sick time, I literally almost started crying at my desk. It felt like a gift, the idea that if I got a migraine I wouldn’t have to try to tough it out and hope I could stay marginally functional all day, or that if I had a cold I could take a day or two to recuperate without worrying about paying my bills.

              2. AndersonDarling*

                My husband broke a rib and couldn’t find anyone to cover his shift so he went in with ice packs taped to his back under his uniform. He was in terrible pain until his shift ended at 2am, then he had to get up at 7am to open the next day.
                Schedules were posted on Friday and they cover Saturday-Friday. You can ask for a day off, but managers don’t remember to put it in the schedule. When you don’t have sick or vacation time, trading shifts is the only way to get time off. I always worked office jobs with time off and I had no idea what a pain it is to work in hospitality.

                1. Mona Lisa*

                  And most locations limit the amount of people who can request a specific day off. My store limits it to four people, and even if you have an extenuating circumstance but are the fifth person to request off, then you’re automatically denied and have to find someone to cover the shift for you.

                  It makes it so difficult to plan your life more than 1-2 weeks in advance with the scheduling issues. I try to put my requests in at least 1-2 months in advance, particularly if I’m requesting off holidays. (I’m always out of town for Thanksgiving and Christmas so I think I requested those in July to make sure I’d be one of the four people with the dates off.)

                2. librarygirl*

                  In college at my pizza job I had a bad fall during a shift near the end of the term. I had a Dr’s note saying I would be unable to work for 4-6 weeks at best. Only I had said that I would be able to work during break 2 weeks before this happened so the owner had put me on the schedule and refused to take me off the schedule. Told me if I wanted off I had to find someone to cover my shifts. In a tiny college town during Xmas break , not gonna happen! I remember calling him and trying to explain that I can’t find any one to cover and he started yelling at me, threatening to fire me so I went in.

                  When I showed up on crutches, my manager was all why the hell are you here? So I told him the owner said I’d be fired if I wasn’t here. He took pity on me and let me sit and answer phones while he made the pizzas. Well the owner stops by mid-shift and freaks out I’m taking the orders because he never trained me to do so. He and my manager go at it and the owner threatens to fire both of us so I end up spend 3 hours making pizzas and trying to wash dishes on crutches.

                  I was in so much pain by the end, I went home, called my mom and cried for 2 hours.

                3. TKD BlackBelt*

                  librarygirl took a fall during a shift? It should have been reported under Workman’s Comp, then that nasty boss would’ve been in serious hot water if he fired her. At any rate, these are NOT the kinds of bosses that anyone should have to tolerate!

              3. KitCroupier*

                I had a hundred and two temperature and a manager wouldn’t send me home when I worked in a restaurant. I worked almost 12 hours and only got out then because a coworker agreed to work the rest of my shift.

            2. doreen*

              About “Jumping through hoops” to call out sick – the OP didn’t actually say that. It’s a reasonable assumption, but I’ve known two people at two very different part-time jobs (one retail and one at a hospital) where people didn’t have to jump through hoops to call in sick but often called coworkers asking for coverage (either by swapping or picking up a shift). Not because management expected them to , but because if they called in sick they would have to use PTO and if they got someone to cover, they could save their PTO (although they wouldn’t get paid for a missed shift). I guess they preferred to lose pay for one shift this week and another two months from now , etc to having to lose pay for a week’s worth of shifts to go on vacation at some other time.

          3. LQ*

            Shift schedules are often put up hours before the shifts start, you have no ability to schedule things out into the future, things like dr apts and such? Good luck. My experience was the scheduler would rarely remember that you couldn’t work Wed PM and would just schedule whoever with zero regard to anything.

            So yes. Sometimes it is. This is often extremely unlike an office job where you are 8-5 or whatever. It is like, Hey, Sally posted the schedule, everyone rush down to the shop to see what the hours are and mad dash to beg someone else to cover so you can still go to the dentist.

            1. SophieChotek*

              Or you make your dentist appointment way way in advance and ask for that one specific day off. At the coffee shop that is what I would do. If I asked for it 6-8 weeks in advance, I could usually be accomodated. And I knew which shifts my manager had trouble filling, so if I was the “only one” always available for that shift, I wouldn’t schedule my doctor/dentist then.

              1. LQ*

                Places where I worked the manager nearly never remember and actually gave you the day off. You could schedule a year out and they’d just merrily schedule over with no care. I was in school with these jobs and they’d know that I could 100% of the time not do certain shifts and would reliably schedule those times anyway.

                1. Kelly L.*

                  One of my jobs, there was a sweet spot. Less than a week and you wouldn’t get it. More than about two weeks, and the manager would jot himself a note but then lose the note and forget.

            2. Turtle Candle*

              Yeah. At both of my retail jobs, the schedule for the week of Sun-Sat was often posted on Sunday evenings, so you had to rush down to find out whether you were coming in the next day. And if you made a time off request and the manager forgot, oh well, it was on you to cover it.

              At one of those jobs, I was a grocery bagger, and many grocery baggers were in high school and really didn’t actually need the job–it was for pocket money–and also a job that was, to them, easy to drop off future resumes. So when they were scheduled against something important to them (a family wedding, an important extracurricular, in one case even someone’s own graduation), if they couldn’t get coverage, they’d just quit outright. The manager was really mad about the frequency of no-notice quitting in that position, and finally an exasperated cashier said, “You told that girl she could have Sunday off for the SATs, and then you scheduled her anyway, and the people who could maybe cover for her are ALSO taking their SATs that day. What did you think, that she was going to skip her scheduled SATs for a part-time grocery bagging job?” (She got in trouble for talking back to management, but it was so satisfying to see.)

              Sadly, many many people in jobs that pull this kind of thing can’t go, “Oh well, it was a summer job for extra spending money anyway, if they renege on promised time-off for a wedding I’ll walk away.” So it’s often safe for the managers to screw them around. But it was funny to watch that bite this guy when dealing with a population who could just go, “Hell no, I’m not missing my big brother’s wedding to bag groceries, I’m out.”

          4. Anxa*

            It’s unreasonable to have the contact info and schedule information for your coworkers and to have to negotiate shift coverage when you’re sick. I was well-liked by my peers, but I didn’t feel like going out drinking all of the time after work and was a bit more serious than many of my coworkers. I had no personal relationship with them outside of work. Which meant I would have to get dressed for work, take the bus in, read the posted schedule on the bulletin board, ask for a contact list, and start calling for coverage and hope that I could get it.

            Otherwise I was working sick (as a food handler!) or getting in trouble.

          5. Photoshop Til I Drop*

            Scheduling managers often refuse to listen when employees cite lack of availability. Constantly changing shifts from week to week makes it nearly impossible to figure out how to plan ahead for normal life events (child care, doctor visits, etc.). Frankly, I think managers gets sick of trying to juggle everyone, say “eff it”, and put people wherever they want.

            Many years ago I was working only PT in my field, and I was hired as a server explicitly for weekend shifts. I was perfectly clear about this availability in the interview (and I was in my thirties, so this wasn’t a case of coming across as a flighty teenager or the like). After a month, the manager started giving me Monday afternoon shifts, despite knowing that I already had a weekday job. We had several conversations that amounted to him shrugging and telling me to find coverage. I quit soon after.

      3. Myrin*

        It is in Germany (my sister works in a supermarket and on the rare occasion when someone is sick or there was a scheduling error or something, her boss calls to arrange a change), but largely doesn’t seem to be in the US?

        1. SophieChotek*

          Not in my experience. In the coffee bar where I work (think something like Starbucks, but not), if someone wants to switch shifts or forgot to tell the manager they have plans, it is that employee’s responsibility to get their shift covered, not the managers.

          If the employee needs to call in sick/has a genuine emergency, yes, it sort of is the manager’s responsibility, but in actuality, at least 50%-75% of the time, I’ve found it to be the other employee’s who have to scramble to find coverage (in between making drinks and doing other actual work, like cleaning, prepping, etc.).

          In my opinion, a good manager will come in (or at least also be at home making calls for you). I’ve worked with 1 good manager who left meetings early to provide coverage and worked 16 hour days when she had to; I’ve worked with 2 managers that pretty much no matter what the situation would say, “Well, figure it out yourselves guys, this is my day off, sort of thing”….

        2. SophieChotek*

          Also depends on the scheduling error: at my coffee-bar job (side job) — like if it is caught right away, the day the schedule is posted, and the manager genuinely made a mistake (like there is PROOF in front of them — yep there is the note from Jane Eyre asking for her half-day off–) then the manager might fix the schedule. But if it is a more nebulous error, I’ve found the manager still leaves the employees to fix it themselves. Recently I’ve been schedule 3 Sundays that I was not expecting to work; I clarified the issue with my manager and I don’t think we’ll run into the issue again, but I still had to figure out how to come in for the Sundays/get coverage (and manager cut me some slack coming in late one of them, when I explained how the miscommunication happened.)

          1. Turtle Candle*

            At my actually-pretty-good-otherwise college work study job, we learned really quick that our manager (who was actually mostly a nice person, but flaky; it was clear that supervising student workers was far from what he had been interested in doing in academia….) would correct errors after the fact if and only if you could prove it. I think we all went one round of “Chris, can I have Wednesday in two weeks off? I have an appointment” > “Sure, okay” > schedule comes out, you’re assigned to work that day > “Hey Chris, I told you I have an appointment that day…?” > “Oh, uh, I don’t remember, you’ll need to find someone to cover it.” And then we all started meticulously requesting this in email so we could go, “Yeah, I did, see?” and then he’d fix it.

        3. Xarcady*

          At my retail job, you can request a day off, but you must make the request at least 50 days prior to the day you can’t work. And there are days you can’t request off–if there’s going to be a big sale that day, for example, the system simply will not let you take the day off. So what if your brother is getting married that day; you will be scheduled to work then.

          If you get scheduled for a day and find you can’t work that day, the responsibility is yours to find a replacement. Most people try to swap shifts, but very rarely will anyone do that. Mostly, you have to give up the shift (and the hours and the pay) for anyone to cover for you.

          If you call out sick, you are supposed to “post” your shift on the online schedule, in the hopes that someone will pick it up. But very few employees check the posts daily, so this rarely happens. So the managers will try calling a few people who will most often agree to come in on short notice, and/or move the employees in the store around to get adequate coverage.

          No matter what the reason, if you miss a shift, you earn an attendance point. If you are more than 10 minutes late, you earn half a point. If you miss a weekend shift, you earn two points. Get six points in any six month period, and you run the risk of getting fired.

          1. KH*

            I’d love to hear how this works in countries other than the U.S. This is basically indentured servitude. Essentially zero worker rights.

        4. Michelle*

          I guess I’ve been pretty lucky because at the retail jobs (big box store) and restaurant jobs I’ve worked (fast food), when I was sick I called the manager and they arranged coverage.

          If I needed a particular day off, I would write a note and post it on the manager’s desk, write “off/cannot work” in the scheduling book and would also email reminders.

        5. Lissa*

          (I’m in Canada, not the US, but it can be similar in a lot of ways) At my food service job, I had to give 2 weeks notice for a day off; less than that and I had to cover it myself, unless it was an emergency in which case it would really depend. I was lucky, because I was known as an extremely reliable employee (good immune system), so the times I had to take off work (grandmother died, food poisoning) I called the boss and she was great about arranging coverage. However, there was still no such thing as sick pay so I would still have to choose between staying home when sick, and getting a full paycheck. And for those employees who called out more often, they would get a lot more shade if they called out without arranging coverage. Part of it was because if an employee calls without arranging coverage without enough time to get someone in, we’d be short staffed at lunch and if that happened regularly, it became a Problem.

          At least at my job if I had requested a day off in advance and the manager forgot, it wasn’t an issue for me, but for them.

      4. Dweali*

        Depends on the manager…I’ve worked in restaurants where once the schedule was posted it was up to you to find coverage (even if they scheduled you outside your availability) and those managers also made you contact your co-workers to find your replacement if you were sick (we still had to call work 4 hours prior to our shift too) and if not the choice was then work sick or get a write up. I’ve also worked with restaurant managers who would correct their mistakes in the schedule and as long as you called in within the appropriate time frame (I think that particular job was 2 hours prior to your start time) would find coverage if you were sick so the only time you were getting your own shift covered was when you had an event or plans of some sort come up.

      5. Elder Dog*

        This has gotten worse in the last few years. Managers are using new software that schedules employees on demand and people are expected to be “on call” without pay. Used to be they had to give you 24 hours notice, but in many states, they don’t have to even make a schedule ahead of time now.

        But there’s change coming. There’s an article today in the Atlantic about Seattle, San Francisco and NYC making predictable schedules the next “$15 minimum wage” issue.

        1. Gazebo Slayer (formerly I'm a Little Teapot)*

          Predictable schedules and paid sick time need to be the legally required bare minimum for every single worker in the country unless there’s a DAMN good reason they need irregular schedules, in which case they should be paid extra.

          But then, we’re in serious danger of slipping into fascism right now, so my expectations for the basic decency of the American public, our political system, or our businesses are seriously low.

          1. Brogrammemr*

            What’s sad is even protected unpaid sick time would be an improvement (since FMLA is so limited in what it protects). It should be illegal to fire someone who handles food for a living for calling in sick.

            I worked in a restaurant for years while I was putting myself through school. I can only wonder how many people got sick because I couldn’t call in. I wasn’t struggling so much that one day’s pay would make or break my monthly budget, but I certainly couldn’t handle getting fired.

            1. Turtle Candle*

              Yeah, “don’t fire food service workers if they won’t come cook while infected with norovirus” seems like a public health no-brainer, and yet here we are. And as you say, it goes even beyond a lack of paid sick time to making any kind of sick leave a firing offense.

    3. Cambridge Comma*

      But if she were swapping with them within the same week, she wouldn’t be going over the limit. It sounds like they are asking her to cover them without offering to cover her.

      1. Rafe*

        Generally in retail they’d be asking for a swap — typically to get prime weekend time off, like a Friday or Saturday shift that they hadn’t requested off before the schedule was made — because they otherwise will not get paid for a shift where they call out sick.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          She mentions “sick” and “coming in at a moment’s notice” – that doesn’t sound like swapping. That sounds like “cover my ass” and then being upset she wouldn’t cover there ass with no notice. Plus swapping shifts wouldn’t put her over part-time status. It seems clear from the details of the letter that she is being asked to take on an extra shift that her coworkers are trying to call out from.

          1. Cambridge Comma*

            Exactly, it doesn’t sound like the ‘I’ll cover you if you cover me ‘ culture that everyone is writing about above.

        2. Lindsay (Not a Temp Anymore)*

          I used to be a manager at a big name decor store. We constantly had employees who had extremely limited availability (typically one week night or one weekend day shift per week), but wanted the job just for the employee discount. They would repeatedly get their one shift a week and promptly get rid of it.

          We finally had to institute a policy about how many shifts you were required to work in a month to remain employed and keep your employee discount.

    4. Kore*

      Covering shifts is part of the culture of retail but at the same time it’s also likely important that OP doesn’t exceed the hours to becoming a full-time employee. When I worked retail there were always a couple of employees that couldn’t cover anyone because they couldn’t take on the extra hours.

      If I was in OP’s shoes I might offer to swap shifts rather than taking on the extra work, but OP doesn’t not want to take extra time but can’t.

    5. PizzaDog*

      If they’re not able to for home reasons, that’s one thing. But if they never cover for anyone else and there comes a time they need their shifts covered, no one will want to say yes.

      1. Jadelyn*

        And that’s something they can cope with at the time, and if they got upset at that point about nobody being willing to help them out, that would be unreasonable and hypocritical. However, there’s no obligation to set yourself up for future reciprocation, so long as you know what you’re getting yourself into.

        1. Observer*

          That’s true. But it strikes me that the OP doesn’t really get it. It sounds like the OP believes that getting sick (or “sick”) is a choice, and that is a choice they are not going to make. Except that getting sick isn’t a choice, nor are a lot of the other emergencies that come up in life.

          1. Kate*

            But OP is not “choosing” not to cover shifts, she can’t or she will become a full-time employee with benefits, which is not allowed at her store.

            1. Observer*

              Maybe yes, maybe not. But I was responding to the idea that she knows what the potential dowsides are. I’m not so sure that that is the case.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      As I read it, she’s not allowed to cover additional shifts (because then she would be full time, and would receive benefits, which the company doesn’t want to do). In that case, it’s on the manager to make that clear, so it doesn’t just seem like she’s not helping out.

    7. boop*

      1 or more times a week seems excessive, though. If a coworker has prescheduled plans, they should file an RTO so the employer can make a proper schedule that fits everyone’s hours… not wait until the morning of to beg someone to replace them.

      1. LCL*

        That is the way many retail and restaurants work. What the OP wrote may not be clear to people who haven’t worked in those industries.
        The OP isn’t working those shifts because they would be extra shifts, which would move OP to full time status, and OPs boss doesn’t want OP to have full time status. Boss is being pressured by higher management to keep people on part time status, so the company won’t have to pay benefits and overtime pay. When OPs boss asks for extra shifts, OP can safely assume the boss knows about it so OP can take the shifts without any repercussions. When OPs coworkers ask for extra shifts, OP is assigning him/herself extra work and possibly OT, and will be fired after X occurrences. In the case of one of my high school jobs, X occurrence was 1.

      2. Joseph*

        “If a coworker has prescheduled plans, they should file an RTO so the employer can make a proper schedule that fits everyone’s hours… not wait until the morning of to beg someone to replace them.”
        Read some of the comments above (specifically the one by LQ and the ones underneath that). It’s shockingly common for managers to “forget” about your prescheduled plans even if you requested the time off well in advance.
        Additionally, as I mentioned in my post above (and plenty of commenters followed up with their own horror stories!), many shift work jobs (particularly restaurants) have zero tolerance for sick leave – if you wake up sick, you either call around and beg for coverage, show up sick, or get fired.

    8. ZuKeeper*

      Since the ACA happened, many retail stores won’t let part time employees work more than a specific number of hours so they don’t have to pay for health care. So, from a manager point of view, OP #5 is doing the right thing. I worked as a supervisor in retail for a while after the ACA went into place. Corporate specifically stated that part time employees were NEVER to go over 19 hours a week. If they did, the manager and the employee would be written up and potentially terminated.

      As a result, most part time employees were scheduled for around 15-16 hours a week, just in case a shift ran a bit long, or we needed to cover part of someone else’s shift. As a part-time employee, if you have been told that if you go over a certain number of hours in a week you may be fired, are you going to voluntarily take shifts for a co-worker? Not if you need that job.

      As a result, we were constantly short staffed. If an employee called in, we rarely had anyone with enough hours remaining to cover a full shift. It usually ended up with the 5 full time employees getting stuck working extra. I frequently worked over 40 hours a week (though they strangely never showed up on my paycheck, but that’s a whole ‘nother story!) because someone called out.

    9. Kate*

      I have never ever heard of this before. I have worked in three retail stores on the West Coast, two of which were big chains, one of the big chains I worked at for over a year. At the jobs I worked, you got your schedule from the store manager.

      If something came up you called the store manager. They had the phone numbers and schedules of every sales associate and assistant manager in the store and knew how many hours they had already worked. The store manager then called the appropriate person.

    10. AGeekNamedBob*

      I’m lucky in that my job – not retail but close – at my Regal Cinemas in Seattle (I know we have the new schedule law but I don’t know anything about it. I should read up) is excellent on scheduling though I’ve had the awful job schedules in the past (the grocery store who put you on when you requested off; I walked out when they told me I had to work my own high school graduation because too many others already asked off for the same reason).
      Anyhoo, I don’t completely buy the “I’ll get benefits if hit # hours” argument. That’s not how benefits work in my experience. If it’s based on hours over job title, it has to be on average hours in a pattern. Busy weeks (Star Wars), we can put part timers on for 40 hrs if they’re up to it (we do ask, as noted we have great scheduling policies and work to keep our employees as happy as possible with their shifts). They don’t instantly get bennies at 40. I’m part time and worked 50 hrs for the first 3 weeks of Force Awakens. But my average remained around 27.
      TL:DR – Hitting # doesn’t make you get benefits instantly, it’s a process of averages and patterns. Taking occasionally shouldn’t be an issue.

  2. Kate*

    OP #1, please do nothing and tell your employee to leave it alone. I was in this situation as the one found on a dating website while working at the same site (different companies) as my husband. Yes I knew there was a possibility that I’d be found on the dating site by anyone in the area, but explaining to my subordinate that my husband was aware and approved of my profile was extremely awkward for both of us and forever changed our relationship (the person who “found” me was extremely conservative and unaware that open relationships even existed. He wasn’t confrontational so much as interested in “saving me” and helping my marriage).

    1. Mabel*

      That sounds like a very uncomfortable conversation, especially when everyone could have just minded their own business.

      1. Michelle*

        I hope this doesn’t come across as condescending *but* isn’t mind your own business if it doesn’t affect your job common sense/the norm? Coworkers and managers should not take it upon themselves to inform on someone’s personal relationship.

        1. Koko*

          Yep, I think the issue is what LW said about everyone in the company being “friends” and “tight-knit.”

          If they were all just friends who didn’t work together it would indeed be a dilemma about who to tell if at all about the discovery. And clearly they don’t have very clear professional boundaries that distinguish each other as coworkers from each other as friends, so they are wearing their “friend” hat when they really need to be wearing a “coworker/boss” hat.

    2. Koko*

      Oh, Kate, you have my sympathies!

      I came “out” as poly pretty early on in my current workplace in a very casual way, just by occasionally saying, “my partner Fergus,” or “my partner Wakeen,” when stories about s/os organically came up in conversation, or sometimes using, “one of my partners.” I did work primarily with younger, more liberal people, so my hope was if I didn’t make a thing out of it they wouldn’t.

      And for the most part they didn’t, at least not that I experienced. But after getting closer to one of my coworkers she later shared with me that another coworker had been minorly scandalized by the information once she figured it out and had a couple of, “o-m-g, did you guys know that Koko is poly?” salacious conversations with other teammates about it. It made me a little uncomfortable to learn I had been discussed this way behind my back, but the teammate in question was never cold or rude or anything to me, so I figured if the worst thing that happened was one person handled it a little insensitively but everyone was ultimately cool with it, all in all it was a good situation.

      1. Anna*

        I think for most people it’s a kind of “how do they do it when I can barely keep a handle on my one relationship” or it’s about logistics or whatever. Talking = processing for a lot of folk, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to have an in-depth conversation with anyone about it.

    3. many bells down*

      Also, Bumble has a “BFF” option where you specify you’re just looking for friends. I’m married, I’m on MeetMe with the same setting – looking for local friends. It’s not specifically or solely a dating site.

  3. Kara*


    Whether or not you want to cover another employee’s shift is up to you (though I agree with above comments regarding retail culture and that it’s somewhat expected from time to time). What you should know about full-time status though is that you would need to have a consistent average of full-time hours to qualify for benefits with most organizations. Picking up an extra shift every once in awhile is unlikely to make your hours average out to full-time status, and therefore wouldn’t qualify you for benefits. Now, if the hours put you into overtime that would be another issue, as the company would definitely be required to pay you overtime hours for any hours worked over 40, and you would likely need manager approval in that situation, which is a good excuse for not picking up the extra shift. But really, one extra shift every month or two shouldn’t be a problem, provided of course you actually want to take the extra shift.

    1. Stellaaaaa*

      OP mentions that she gets at least one call per week asking for shift coverage. If she agreed every time, she would be consistently working enough hours to qualify as a full-time employee.

      This isn’t the crux of the OP’s question, but I find it icky that this company is consistently keeping its employees only a few hours below full-time status, while keeping the employee pool small enough that OP fields these constant calls even though her coworkers surely know that she’ll always say no.

      1. Memboard*

        It’s the game in retail to string along as many temps as possible and as few full time as possible to keep costs down.

      2. Hotel GM Guy*

        That’s the way the cookie crumbles, though. Benefits aren’t cheap, and a lot of places would have to raise prices to compensate for nothing but full timers. Not only theft, but having part timers means that you have flexibility whenever somebody calls out. If everybody is at 40 hours, then whoever covers is going to get overtime. Of course, turnover is not cheap either, and no-benefits positions have high turnover.

        The trick is finding the balance between who you can put at part time and who you have to put at full time to keep talent. I try and walk the line by scheduling 32 hours to people, that way my talented folks get their benefits, but I have flexibility built into the schedule to for people to pick up shifts, and am able to hire an extra person with the difference. That extra person wouldn’t be there if everybody was at 40.

        I would love to find a part timer that truly wants to be part time, but they are few and far between. Part timers give you flexibility, but if they’re really looking for a job with benefits, then you aren’t going to keep them long.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          What you’re doing sounds great. I wonder if the reason you can’t find part timers who want to be part time is because you want more flexibility than they can provide? When you hire a part timer, do you expect them to be available for *any* shift? Or are they able to say “I only want to work when my kid is in school” or “I’m in class Monday, Wednesday and Friday and can’t work those days” or anything along those lines?

          1. Hotel GM Guy*

            Oh yeah, but the thing is that I don’t need coverage during the day, because that’s the slowest part. My ideal part timer is a college student looking for some side cash, but there’s not a university super close to me. About 90% of my applicants want full time, and most of the 10% want specific schedules.

            I’m not super concerned about it, because I’ve got it worked out fairly well for now.

        2. Tuckerman*

          I think there are people who truly want part time work. The problem is that they don’t want to offer full time availability for part time work. If I only want to work 20 hours per week, I don’t want to have to give you 7 days a week availability because it’s too disruptive to the rest of my life.

          1. Anxa*

            Oh boy, yeah.

            I feel like much more people would be truly satisfied with part-time hours if it meant they could easily accommodate their reason for choosing part-time work.

            There much be so many people who are looking to semi-retire, provide family care, go to school, manage an illness or other reason full-time hours are too trying, etc. But most of those things depend on a mostly regular schedule.

          2. Mona Lisa*

            +1 from a person who works part-time retail.

            At my last store, my manager was a huge fan of the on-call shift. 90% of the time they weren’t used, but you still had to be available for them in case. It was so difficult to plan my life more than an hour at a time with that scheduling. The week I got 5 unused on-calls and no real shifts was the point where I finally had to have a conversation with my manager about the feasibility of his scheduling habits.

          3. Xarcady*

            Very true. I’ve given up trying to cobble together two part-time jobs, because a) “part-time” is usually 30+ hours a week (or in other words, an attempt at getting nearly full-time hours out of someone, but not paying them benefits) and b) they all seem to want you to be available six or seven days a week, evenings included. For what are obviously standard 9-5 desk-type jobs.

            I suspect the employers have dealt with the conflicting schedules of employees with two part-time jobs before, and are trying to head that off with their demands for availability above and beyond the required 30-odd hours a week. But it’s darned frustrating as a job seeker.

          4. miss_chevious*

            This used to be a little easier, at least in restaurant world, when I was doing part-time work. We had a cadre of “breakfast ladies” who were retired and would do the day shifts until 1 or 2 pm, leaving the afternoon/evening shifts for the teenagers who had school obligations during the day. But that was when the schedule was done by hand at a store level. The place where I worked is now on one of those resource management programs, and the computer treats all employees as fungible widgets and it’s pretty rough according to my friends who are still there.

            1. Observer*

              Don’t blame the program, blame the people who implemented it. Someone decided that accommodating people wasn’t worth the effort – any halfway decent scheduling type system is capable of handling differences in availability. But, it needs to be set up that way.

              1. Xarcady*

                Yes. the store where I work–you can set your availability in the computer system. You have to have Friday evenings and all weekend available to work, but after that you can block out entire days or parts of days. I work evenings and weekends only, and haven’t had an issue for over 2 years.

                But you can only change your availability in a small window of time, twice a year. So this isn’t the best system for college students, as the windows don’t mesh with the academic year.

                You can also request two “non-available” days a month, and those can be weekends. But you have to request them at least 50 days ahead of time.

          5. Photoshop Til I Drop*

            This is absolutely the problem. If PT work is going to be so pervasive, workers need to be able to work multiple jobs. When I was a server, many restaurants expected the servers to have wide-open availability and then accept 15-20 hours per week. You can’t live on that, which means the restaurant is expecting the server to have a partner or parent who can afford to make up the slack.

            If your business models requires other business to subsidize you, it’s a bad model, and it should fail.

          6. Hotel GM Guy*

            Sure, I could take somebody with only a few days of availability, so long as they could work either evenings or weekends (which is when we need the extra coverage)

          7. Turtle Candle*

            Yep. Back when I was doing part time work, I could never have lived on it–because I couldn’t take two part-time jobs, because the part-time jobs all wanted a guarantee of being able to schedule me for essentially any time, any day of the week.

            It even made freelancing (which is in theory a lot more flexible) difficult, because clients would understandably want to schedule a time to talk to me and it was awkward to be like, “I can’t schedule for next Sun-Sat until this Saturday night.” They’d want to be able to say “okay, we’ll talk to go over the proofs on the 28th” without having to wait until the 25th to see if I was available.

            1. Snazzy Hat*

              “I can’t schedule for next Sun-Sat until this Saturday night.” They’d want to be able to say “okay, we’ll talk to go over the proofs on the 28th” without having to wait until the 25th to see if I was available.

              My s.o. once got a job offer while working at a really crappy place, and this dialogue had to occur:
              NewJob Boss: “Can you start tomorrow?”
              S.O.: “I don’t know, we haven’t received our schedules yet.”

      3. boop*

        Yes! My new employer intentionally made me “part time” (which is part of the reason I wanted the job in the first place). But they give us all full time hours every week for a few months until the very last week that would qualify us as “full time” and therefore entitled to benefits. After that they cut the hours just enough to disqualify us, and then ramp it back up to full time hours again.

        There should not be a loophole like this.

        1. Xarcady*

          The store where I work is a national chain, with fairly decent benefits if you are full-time. They even offer benefits to part-time employees, if they work enough hours. You have to average X hours a week, for a given 6 month period, to get pro-rated health insurance from the company. They post your average hours on the same page as your pay stub.

          I’ve noticed that once I get to within the X-2 hours range, my hours get sharply cut. From the max number of hours to less than half that, for several weeks. Until I’m no longer in danger of qualifying for health insurance. Then my schedule goes back to normal.

    2. Cambridge Comma*

      I suspected from the letter, although it isn’t explicitly said, that the LW may have been told not to risk going over the threshold, but is comfortable doing it when the instruction comes from the manager. It also sounds like the information on the benefits may have come from the manager (‘which my manager would be accountable for’). I wondered whether the LW might be uncomfortable with the calls because she is assuming that her colleagues are intentionally asking her to do something that her manager has told her not to, whereas they may not actually know this.

      1. Jeanne*

        I think the coworkers may not know about the full time issue. I see nothing wrong with saying that to the coworkers who are asking.

  4. Bookworm*

    OP #1

    I agree with Alison’s advice. However I do want to acknowledge that the uncertainty you’re feeling is totally human and natural. Especially at a company of only 20 people, the lines between work and personal get blurred. (It’s hard for that to not happen when you’re spending eight hours a day in a small group.) The feeling that you *might* be aware of infinitely that is potentially hurtful/harmful to someone you spend so much time with must be an uncomfortable one. So I think it’s OK to acknowledge that this is weird.

    That said, I agree with Alison and the previous commenter that you know very little about the situation – and that this sort of confrontation doesn’t belong in the workplace. People should not have to explain their personal lives to their managers, or coworkers.

    1. Foxtrot*

      I have more of a broad question relating to #1. In this particular case, we don’t know all of the details. But sometimes there are letters on here where there is fairly clear evidence that someone is cheating, or who knows what. The general consensus here is to leave it alone unless it affects you directly. But…how do people turn that off? I’m pretty sure I’ll think less of Bob if I know he’s cheating on his wife and it will color things for me. How do people get past that and still respect people in a work fashion if they don’t approve of their personal lives?

      1. Myrin*

        I think it’s not about how you feel about a coworker who’s cheating – you can feel like Bob is scum of the earth and no one can stop you. It’s about how you act. And, well, if you have strong negative feelings about a coworker, you just have to force yourself to be polite, professional and helpful (and with respect particularly, you don’t have to actually respect Bob, you can just pretend that you do/make him feel like you do).

        1. MK*

          I agree that’s the only way to go, but in practice it can get very complicated. Two colleagues of mine, both married, had an affair, I found out by accident without them realising that I knew ( I also knew for a fact it was cheating and I had met their spouces). With one of them I had a purely professional relationship, so I kept things polite but distant, but the other was a friend, which made things very difficult. It wasn’t my place to judge, but I cannot pretend I don’t think less of someone who takes part in long-term deception of people who love them; but neither could I abruptly switch to a “just coworkers” mode without them asking why. How do you behave in a situation like that?

          1. Newish Reader*

            How to behave depends on what you want for a relationship with the friend. Do you feel strongly enough about the cheating to no longer want the person as a friend? You could be direct and let the person know what you discovered, how you feel about it, and that you want to keep things just professional. Or you could not say anything but slowly back off the friendship component, but still being polite at work.

        2. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yes, this.

          When I was first brought on to my job, the person training me revealed very casually something in his past that made me 100% think he was a scummy, scummy person. (And to be clear, it isn’t just what he did, but the fact that he still indicated that he felt totally justified and believed I would naturally agree with him.) He doesn’t know I think this of him, because quite frankly, it’s none of my business, and I need a decent working relationship with him more than I need to express my opinion on his shitty attitude toward certain sorts of people. I don’t socialize with him, but I treat him as I would another colleague I’m not close to.

          1. Foxtrot*

            Does this just come with practice? I have a horrible poker face. I may know that I shouldn’t say anything, and I’ll bite my tongue in situations. But I’ve heard on numerous occasions that what I’m really thinking is plain and visible on my face.

            1. Purest Green*

              I have the same problem, and this is probably going to sound ridiculous, but after I realize I’m making a face in response to something like that, I’ll scratch my nose or rub my eye or what have you in an effort to make it seem like that was what bothered me.

            2. Yep*

              I have an expressive face and people have told me before they can tell what I’m thinking. It does come with practice for people like us. Try to develop a resting face that seems neutral (and slightly pleasant if you also have resting bitch face like me) and practice using that all the time. After awhile, it’ll become more default for you.

            3. Adlib*

              I have this problem too. Most people are not terribly tactful at telling me about it (usually say I’m “making faces”). I try hard to control it at certain times since I’m aware of it. Even so, it happens without me noticing.

            4. Prismatic Professional*

              A trick my brother taught me is to assume a pleasant expression, then watch movies trying to keep the expression constant. That way you get practice with emotional situations without other people able to see you. Use a mirror or friend for occasional feedback. :-)

        3. Sketchee*

          Great thoughts, Myrin! It’s just realistic to keep situation specific. A person who cheats on their wife may be an upstanding employee, loyal to their job, and really great at it. Honestly, I know little about what’s going on in someone else’s marriage and relationship.

          My feelings on the subject would actually be about me. Noticing and redirecting my thoughts to being a professional and being polite and kind. Best to concentrate on my character rather than interacting with my perceptions about the character of others.

        4. Anon For This*

          This exactly. I worked with a guy I didn’t like. He just gave me a bad vibe and made me think “fascist” every time I dealt with him or the people he trained. I was able to keep it pleasant and nobody knew how I really felt until after he was fired. Not for fascist stuff, but for ethical stuff. Some of the fascist stuff came up after he left, though.

      2. Gaia*

        The trouble is, you *don’t* know Bob is cheating. You may know he is having a relationship outside of his marriage, but that does not equate cheating in all instances.

        I find infidelity abhorrent and I take a strong stance in my personal life that I’ll have nothing to do with it from anyone. However, I also recognize and realize that not all relationships are monogamous and that people in a nonmonogamous relationship are not practicing infidelity by having other relationships. That helps me “turn that off” in professional contexts when I have no idea which is the case and I have no intention of asking.

      3. CrimsonCaller*

        >>How do people get past that and still respect people in a work fashion if they don’t approve of their personal lives?

        This question scares me a little bit, because there are people who feel as strongly about same sex marriage, recreational marijuana use, lack of religious faith, political views, and similar topics.

        It’s your job to get past that and respect them in a work fashion. That’s what work is – you’re being paid to be professional, just like a Customer Service Rep is paid to deal with rude customers and keep a smile on. You aren’t being paid to like your coworkers or approve of what they do in their off hours. You aren’t even being paid to respect them as people, just to work with them.

        I just think if you replaced “infidelity” with another thing to judge people about this comment would read a lot differently. Even if people are cheating, you never know anyone’s situation – and I’m not just talking about open relationships. Maybe there’s a medical issue, or, while not the best way, someone’s attempt at leaving an abusive relationship.

        Spend less time focusing on what others are doing and it’ll pay dividends.

      4. Photoshop Til I Drop*

        My issue with cheating is not a difference in morality, but in whether the victim is being exposed to STIs. It’s one thing to shut up because Bob wants to vote differently than you. It’s another think to shut up knowing that he might infect his wife with a terminal illness. I don’t have a good answer.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          I maintain that unless you are sleeping with Bob’s wife and are therefore at risk of exposure to said terminal illness, it’s still none of your business.

    2. Koko*

      I would challenge the notion that it’s has to be hard to keep work and personal separate in a small company. I worked for 3 years at a company where I was one of 4 people. We all got along very well and made friendly chitchat at work but I knew next-to-nothing about any of their personal lives. When we talked about our weekends on Monday morning it was very, “I mowed the lawn,” or “I watched a great movie.” Very bland, inoffensive, impersonal things. I knew the broad contours of their lives – the number of children they had and their names, that one had recently bought a new house, that sort of thing – but not any of the details. If I had come across one on a dating site I would have just swiped left and moved on. None of my business.

      I think we were all in agreement that we spent enough time together at work and we wanted to keep things simple by having a hard delineation between work and our home lives. Probably because we were all old enough by then (ranged 26-35) to have experienced the pitfalls of letting the two mix too much. It’s a lot easier when everyone is on board with the idea.

      1. Bookworm*

        I hear you, but I think it depends a lot on the circumstances of the work, the office culture, and individual personalities. Many, many people make some of their best friends at work and meet significant others and it’s unrealistic for us to act like it’s the norm to have really sturdy walls. The reality is that those boundaries are pretty porous.

        When situations like this arise I agree with Alison that we need to draw a firm line, but I also think it’s healthy to acknowledge that how to set those lines can sometimes be confusing.

        1. Koko*

          Oh, I definitely agree. That was what I meant by my last paragraph, that it’s easier to maintain the walls when everyone is on board with the idea.

  5. Chocolate Teapot*

    3. Has Hermione actually been informed the new job is going ahead? From how it is described in the letter, it seems as if she has no guarantee there is one.

    4. Perhaps it’s my experience, but I have only once had an interview sitting in front of somebody’s desk. Usually it has been in either a conference room or a bigwig has their own office but a small (often circular) table with a few chairs around it. Maybe moving the chair is some sort of wierd test?

    1. LarsTheRealGirl*

      Eh..I wouldn’t jump to weird test…I’d jump to not enough conference room space, the conference room was booked out for something else, or just a boss who prefers to meet at their desk.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      My industry usually has tiny offices. Many interviews are with just the manager. The offices are so small that extra chairs are usually stored in the corner, out of the walking zone. Usually when someone sits in the chair they block the door. Its not uncommon to “pull up a chair” quite literally. You push it back to the storage spot when done.

    3. Purest Green*

      Maybe moving the chair is some sort of wierd test?

      Like in Men in Black? I doubt it, but that’s fun to think.

    4. OP #3*

      Thank you so much for responding to my letter!

      To clarify, Hermione is going to an organization that we frequently interact with and are expected to ‘play well’ with. She gave advance notice for two reasons: one, she was told by new job that they had submitted paperwork when they had not (yes, I can verify this) and two, she did so as a courtesy knowing we were in the midst of moving staff around. Additionally, right now there are several open spots on the ‘spouts’ team, but we work primarily on ‘handles’, so overall we’re not over staffed but there is training needed to move over.

      Alison, thank you so much for responding. Your advice is great and confirms my feeling that upper management is giving really cloudy, crummy direction.

      I will be sure to make my new staffer my priority here.

  6. seejay*

    Stay out stay out stay out. Unless you know of their inner workings of their relationship, you’re just going to butt in where you don’t belong. I get it, curiosity and all, you feel like you want to warn her that he might be cheating, but seriously, unless you KNOW, you don’t know.
    1) open relationship, she might very well know he’s on there. She might be as well.
    2) searching for a three way
    3) research?
    4) friends
    5) old profile that is still there for shits and giggles that he barely logs into
    6) anything else that is their business and no one else’s

    Without getting into details, I would be pretty peeved off if someone in my office came up to me and told me they found mu partner on a dating site (and it wouldn’t be him I’d be mad at). There’s reasons he is and I don’t need anyone to come and inform me of it. Yes, I’m aware they’re just looking out for me, but unless I’m coming in black and blue and acting like I’m seriously abused, and unless you’re a close enough confidant to know the inner workings of my relationship, don’t poke your nose into it. It’s just better that way.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      All of this, but especially #3. His profile even says it’s there for research. They’re in the entertainment industry. He could be legitimately on that site to research for a character he’s writing about in a screenplay or other story form or for a role he’s playing if he acts on the side. They just don’t know.

      1. Oryx*

        Exactly. My ex was also a writer and some of the things he wrote about required research that, to most people, would has possibly looked like he was cheating. (It wasn’t dating sites but not too far off.) I knew all about it and sometimes helped. There are legitimate reasons for that sort of thing.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I’ve got a friend who writes mystery and horror, and she figures all the local bookstore and library staffs probably think she’s a serial killer, since she’s always getting books about poison, guns, and the occult.

            1. starsaphire*

              Oh, yeah. Thanks for the reminder…

              *goes off to remove “arsenic vs. cyanide” from my browsing history*

              1. Meri*

                Back when I played City of Heroes, I decided to my villain’s minions after different poisons. Thus, I googled “What are the deadliest poisons?”

          1. Kore*

            I’m writing a horror short story right now and the protagonist is a hired killer, and trying to google all that without seeming like I need to be on some FBI list is difficult!

            1. Photoshop Til I Drop*

              Investigate your local universities for a forensics degree. If they have one, there are often lectures/presentations that you can see for free or next to nothing. Last year, one near me gave an amazing talk with authors who’d interviewed serial killers, and a friend obsessed with Dexter dragged me along. I expected to be bored, but it was fantastic.

          2. seejay*

            I have a tonne of books on serial killers, cannibalism, the occult, child predators and sex crimes, horror, a whole mess of things. I’ve been reading stuff like that since I was 10. I’ve also had an interest in law enforcement, been a PI, a computer forensic tech, and tried out for the police force (failed due to health issues. My interests lie in abnormal psychology and forensic anthropology and I have an interest in determining how to solve crimes. I read up on genocides and crimes against humanity. My browsing history would probably make most people faint and if taken at a glance on the surface would probably give someone the impression I’m a white supremacist, racist, conspiracy theorist, crazy-pants wearing birther christian wackadoo.

            It’s pretty much the opposite. I just tend to fall down any rabbit hole that grabs my interest and read up on anything that catches my attention or makes me curious. Sometimes I wonder what the other side is thinking. Or how someone else can even remotely *believe* something. Or I hear a name and I think “why does that sound familiar?” and I google it (which is why I wound up on a certain person-who-shall-not-be-named Wikipedia page who used to lead a three identical letter organization that begins with K who’s initials are DD and I totally had a brain fart on and couldn’t remember why I knew the name from somewhere). So yeah, my browsing history looks insane, my book collection is strange, but I like reading and for the most part I’m pretty normal.*

            *At least that’s what the voices told me last time I talked to them. ^_^

          3. Aurion*

            Haha, just yesterday I texted my doctor friend to ask her very detailed questions about neurosurgery and hospital stays (and I cheekily pointed out at least this type of question is relatively benign). Writing takes you down weird research paths.

            My friend takes it in good stride, though I’m sure she thinks I’m very weird. :D

          4. Lissa*

            Yes, me and my other friends who do tabletop/live action roleplaying all have the weirdest things on our search engines/library checkout lists! Because you need to know these things for character research, and even more so if you’re running a game! You want realistic villains after all.

            Though I did learn my lesson about talking about games in public — always add something that makes it clear it’s fictional/fantasy every so often!

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        Neat, thanks for the context! I had kind of given a side-eye to the “research” phrasing in the original post, but that makes total sense.

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          I wrote a NaNo novel a few years ago with a main character who was a cop stranded in the wilderness for an extended period of time. Those research bookmarks got pretty weird pretty fast.

    2. Kyrielle*

      And, re #3, the fact that his profile says research may argue that’s what it was for – because wouldn’t that be, well, kinda off-putting to actual potential dates? They’d probably look at it and think “oh, he’s not really here for dating, whatever”…right?

      1. Michaela T*

        That’s what I was thinking, I wouldn’t respond to a profile that says that. Maybe he’s developing his own app?

    3. JMegan*

      I was on a dating site when I was still married, and still living with my husband. We had agreed to divorce, but things were friendly enough between us that there was no particular hurry for him to move out. I was ready to date again, so I put up a profile and started meeting people. My soon-to-be-ex knew all about it, and even stayed home with the children so I could go on dates.

      The divorce was mostly a done deal between us, but neither of us had talked about it at work. So if any well-meaning colleague had found my profile and tried to talk to him (or me) about it, it would have meant a very uncomfortable conversation about our personal lives, which both of us were actively trying to avoid at work.

      TL;DR – a dating profile of someone who appears to be married does not necessarily mean there is infidelity going on.

      1. Bookworm*

        Honestly, that would be my best guess. Bumble seems like a weird app to use for an open relationship, AND a really dumb app to use if there’s any infidelity going on. But I also know people who’ve been in your situation and it’s not as uncommon as one might think.

      2. Jayn*

        True. On the other end I had an OKCupid profile before getting married and never bothered to delete it (I got e-mails from them for YEARS after my last login). It’s probably still there.

        1. seejay*

          I’m still on OKC despite not actually using it for at least 4+ years now and it goes in spurts where I don’t hear anything from it for months, and then it emails me for two weeks, every day, saying “WE FOUND MATCHES FOR YOU!” Thanks? I think? I’ll go back to ignoring you until you shut up again for a few more months.

          If I actually log into it by accident, then it starts emailing me matches every day for a month until it forgets me again. I don’t want to delete the account just in case I need it in the future, but FFS, stop emailing me matches at total random? O_O

          1. Natalie*

            I’m pretty sure you can turn those emails off in your preferences, BTW. I turned all emails off when I used it, since I had the app and didn’t need to be notified in multiple ways.

            1. seejay*

              Part of me is afraid of logging in again, akin to poking the sleeping bear. If I touch it, it might wake up and flood me with more emails, even if it means I’m shutting them off. XD If I ignore it, it growls at me occasionally, but it doesn’t truely wake up and snarl unless I smack it on the nose!

    4. Turtle Candle*

      Yep. All of these. I made a profile with my partner once because neither of us had ever done online dating and we were curious how it worked, and a lot of features were only available if you had a profile. (To be clear, we weren’t either of us actually looking for partners, and we made that quite clear–nobody was being led on. It was just absent curiosity, mostly about the technical/logistical side.)

      We deleted the account once our curiosity had been satisfied, and as far as I know nobody who we know IRL ever saw it, but yeah. For us, it was purely 100% a “perhaps now I will understand half the advice column questions!” thing.

  7. Treena*

    #1 Please say nothing. This is my nightmare scenario, having co-workers worry/think/judge my life. Although both my husband’s and my profile both explain the open relationship, so I only have to be concerned with the think/judge part.

    1. Jeanne*

      I think it goes both ways. You don’t want to be judged. I don’t want to know the details of my coworkers’ sex lives. This is one of those times when it is much more polite to pretend you know nothing.

  8. Kathlynn*

    Okay, for number 5, it doesn’t sound like the manager has any problem with the employee working more hours (because the manager will call her in a pinch, so it sounds like the staff arrange their cover, then if they cant or something comes up the manager phones the OP).
    Also, often in retail, even if you are hired for part time, it’s easy and/or natural to move to full time *without* getting a raise/promotion or official talking to. IF you haven’t already done so, go talk to your manager about it, they might say “yeah, if you aren’t busy/have plans/stressed out/etc, you should cover shifts” or some version of that.
    And, yeah if you won’t cover for your coworkers only because “then I’ll be full time” they are going to get pissed at you. And your manager may even get frustrated. Especially if there’s only a few people willing to cover shifts.

    It’s also my experience that if you won’t cover shifts for other people, or even answer your phone when work phones, people won’t be as willing to cover for you. Unless they need the money more then the time off. I’ve worked with a few people I’m not willing to cover for, in spite of the extra money. Not because I dislike them, though my oppinions on them doesn’t help their cause. It’s because I need to know that I have someone who will return the favour, on the rare occasion I am sick. I’ve face way to many sick days where I’m asked “are you sure you can’t make/finish your shift”. Yet more then 90% of the time I’m asked to cover people’s shifts I will. (btw, by rarely sick I mean it’s usually less then 3 days/times a year.)

    1. MK*

      The OP says that she doesn’t ask others to cover for her, so it sounds to me as if she is willing to take the “consequences” of saying no.

    2. TheBeetsMotel*

      When I worked retail, I used to take a picture of the entire schedule with my phone each week so I knew who I’d be working with, etc. As is so often the case in retail (and all walks of life, really) you had some really reliable people, and you had some flakes. Armed with my schedule picture, I would know for a FACT that if my manager called me at 2pm to see if I could cover a 4pm shift, it was because Mr. or Ms. “I Always Have Something Better To Do Than Come In To Work” had called out for the second time that week. THOSE calls went straight to voicemail. Not only were those folks a drain on hours that harder-working people could’ve taken, but there was no way in hell they’d ever come in for me if I called out (which was extremely rarely).

      Others, who worked their butts off and who I knew would cover for me if the need arose; them I would try to come in for if I could.

      (It’s worth mentioning that I usually for close to full-time hours as a part-time employee and so really didn’t have many to spare to cover people to begin with. But additionally, I wasn’t giving up my hard-earned days off for people who treated their job like it was optional.)

    3. Turtle Candle*

      I’m confused–the impression I got from the letter is that it isn’t that LW doesn’t want to be full-time, but that they were not permitted to be full-time. In jobs of this nature that I have had, forcing the issue by taking extra shifts that would push you into the full-time zone or net you OT were taken quite seriously by management (because suddenly you cost more as an employee–sometimes a lot more), and were often considered a firing offense.

      If the choice was “push myself to full time without permission by taking on regular extra shifts (and potentially seriously piss off management)” or “annoy my coworkers sometimes,” the choice seems pretty clear.

      1. Kathlynn*

        That’s why I said to talk to management if the opportunity hadn’t already. To find out if the manager wants them to cover shifts, even if it would put them into full time.
        There’s also a big difference to from “oh but that’d put me into full time hours” or what ever reason the OP gives and “sorry, I can’t management doesn’t want me to work more then…. Hours a week” or even just making it plain to your coworkers that you can’t work extra shifts (so they don’t waste their time phoning).

  9. Ange*

    Yes the people I disliked most at my last job were those who wouldn’t do a shift swap but could miraculously do it when you gave the shift up – I.e. they gained money, you lost rather than a neutral swap. This was healthcare not real though.

    1. Kathlynn*

      by contrast, generally when people want me to cover shifts, it’s not switching they want, but for me to just take the shift (because they are sick, and can’t make it), and it’s a shift that day. Otherwise we do generally switch shifts, but that usually happens before hand and not the day of. There’s also never been a coworker I haven’t been willing to switch shifts with, and I don’t consider switching shifts and covering a shift the same thing/issue. I don’t know how other people view it though.

      1. Ange*

        We had a system where management ensured shifts needing cover due to sickness were covered, so it was only ever swapping shifts that were inconvenient. That’s what I objected to. If it’s an emergency or sickness then of course you lose the shift, but if you want to swap it because it’s a bad day for you and people say they can’t do it as a swap but will do it as an extra for them, loss for you, when that seems like taking advantage of your colleagues to me. It’s clearly not the same as a person who never covers or only in emergency.

        1. Sketchee*

          I’d personally be okay with either side of this. I’m not following why they should be accommodating when it doesn’t work for them.

          1. Colette*

            Agreed. I see no reason why someone has to inconvenience herself because her coworker has non-urgent plans. It’s nice when it’s mutually beneficial, but that’s not always the case – and there are often people who will always try to switch shifts that no one likes and take advantage of their coworkers’ desire to be nice.

          2. doreen*

            I don’t know if the people Ange is referring to are like this – but I’ve encountered plenty of people who won’t be accommodating in this and similar ways but who then don’t understand why others won’t accommodate them. They won’t swap when a co-worker has concert tickets- but have no problem asking others to swap when they have the tickets.

    2. Colette*

      Well, if I have a schedule I like and you’re offering to swap for a shift I don’t like, there’s really nothing in it for me. If I keep my preferred shift and pick up a less appealing shift, I get extra pay, which is an incentive.

      I mean, I agree it’s good citizenship to swap occasionally, but if you’re getting asked every week, it’s fine to say no.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Well, if I have a schedule I like and you’re offering to swap for a shift I don’t like, there’s really nothing in it for me. If I keep my preferred shift and pick up a less appealing shift, I get extra pay, which is an incentive.

        Yes, this. There’s nothing dishonest about it at all (unless they legit say “I can’t take that shift, I have a commitment that day” and then admit they were lying when you offer to give them the shift instead of trade).

        1. Colette*

          Even at that, it might be possible to change other commitments for the chance to make more money, but not for the chance to make the same amount at a less convenient time.

    3. Sketchee*

      A solution for this would be for the manager to explicitly state the expectations for shift swaps. What is required versus not. It seems like many managers like to leave decisions up to employees so that they’re upset with each other rather than at them.

  10. Jeanne*

    I don’t understand #3 at all. Hermione gave notice but then never left and never brought it up? Even when you hired her replacement? This is seriously odd behavior and it is just as odd that you never brought it up either. I also suspect what your boss is telling is that since you didn’t handle it you’re going to have to be the one to fire her now. They won’t bail you out and do the firing. It’s time for some blunt honesty all around.

    1. Required Name*

      I wonder if it’s a new job in a different part of the same company. I’ve seen that happen before – congratulations, you got a job in a different department/location! but then oops, we hired too many people/your supervisor won’t let you go/something else comes up and the new position goes into limbo for several months (and sometimes goes up in smoke). If that’s the case, then I could see why management isn’t keen on pushing Hermione out.

    2. Dr. Ruthless*

      I had a colleague who gave notice, but his new company had to do visa paperwork (he was an H1-B), and they just…didn’t.* He’d occasionally check in with our boss, who was fine with him hanging out while his new job got its act together. I’d say it lasted 6-8 weeks from the day he accepted his new offer/told the boss he’d be leaving.**

      *This was a giant MNC, and they knew he’d need sponsoring when they made the offer, but a month or more later, they were being dodgy about the whole thing, not returning calls, no real progress.

      **While waiting for the new job to get its act together, he got an out of the blue offer from a company he’d rather work for, so he wound up taking that job instead. He worried about burning a bridge at the second place, but figured since they weren’t doing the stuff he needed them to do to start work, there was little to be done.

    3. OP #3*

      Rather than ‘announced’, I should have said, ‘gave us the professional courtesy of letting us know she was going to be leaving in the short term.’

      Hermione is very aware that the situation is awkward and has been nothing but apologetic and professional. I think that my next step, as Alison suggested, is talking with management and her about moving into an empty role in the interim.

  11. Cryptic Critter*

    It’s one thing to pitch in if the Boss asks you, some people are working the hours they are comfortable with not wanting more. I can easily see a case where the LW wouldn’t want to work more than he/she originally agreed too. It would be a huge imposition for coworkers to be using peer pressure to alter this. My answer has always been, saying calmly, that’s something you need to take to the Boss I’m not management and have no power over the schedule. If it’s a shift I would have been ok with picking up I’d offer to go to the Boss with you to arrange it. Retail/restaurant work gets crazy with false emergencies and a skewed sense of priorities till everything is a huge crisis. It really isn’t. Buying into it will make you nuts. It’s ok to do what you can but also alright to draw boundaries you can live with.

    1. Myrin*

      I agree. I’m surprised by the reaction of almost all commenters to this, to be honest – we usually have questions where everyone is like “OP, you have a right to boundaries and saying No!” and now that we actually have an OP who does that, people are saying that she needs to loosen them up.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        I think a lot of people are flashing back to when they had to work this kind of job.

        When i worked in restaurants, management sent out the schedule last minute, ignored my requests for days off pretty regularly, and often gave me shifts that overlapped the edges of my availability. If i could not work a shift, even if i had previously requested it off or was out of state or sick, management was always of the opinion that it was very much Not Their Problem and i had to beg coworkers for help or risk losing my job if i really couldn’t make it. I can remember the panic and frustration pretty well, and it was really easy to resent your coworkers who wouldn’t/ couldn’t work for you. It was/is pretty normal for restaurants to run that way, and shift work is very similar in a lot of places here.

        Of course, all of that nonsense was 100% on management, not coworkers, and OP is totally right to draw whatever boundaries they need. I think a lot of people are just reliving the feeling.

        1. Cryptic Critter*

          That’s the problem in a nutshell. Sloppy scheduling and not respecting their part in the employee/employer relationship. It’s not idealistic to make sure when interviewing and subsequently hired to reinforce your availability and barring extreme unforeseeable emergencies to expect it to remain fixed. In both fast food and retail I’m very up front with asking about how often a Manager expects to change scheduling and I arrange for fixed days off, not usually prime time, but definitely two days off in a row and fixed. If that’s not something they can do they need to hire someone else. These things really are cut and dried. In both types of jobs salary usually can’t be negotiated, but days off, and willingness to travel to other locations, or being called in can. If one place can’t get it together and meet your needs, another one can and will be happy to have you. I know this is an unusual attitude, but in thirty plus years I’ve only walked away from four jobs that we appalled I negotiated. Bullets dodged!

      2. Mustache Cat*

        Well, most of us are responding to the confused/irritated tone in OP5’s letter. It’s not that we’re prescribing OP to loosen their boundaries, but their question is about the attitude they’re receiving from coworkers. The comments are trying to explain why they are getting attitude (not that the attitude is excusable at all)

        1. LQ*

          I think this is absolutely it. The attitude from the coworkers should be pointed at the management, but very often that environment fosters pointing it at coworkers. I think it is great that the OP is holding their line. But it can help to know why.

        2. Queen Gertrude*

          I’d also like to point out, because I haven’t seen this pointed out yet, that the OP seems to be propping themselves up on a higher horse than their coworkers by pointing out that they “have never called in sick or been late in all my time with the company.” As if that is some sort of badge of honor and they expressly put quotations around the term “sick” when referencing “coworkers who are either “sick” or have other plans” asking the OP to cover/help them out. I’m sorry, but as someone who “get sick” and has “emergencies” sometimes… I wouldn’t be that thrilled with a coworker like the OP either with an attitude like that either. They sound like they have no empathy for anyone and hold people to impossible standards.

          *Ultimately how management handles schedules, sick leave, etc is the issue on a grander scale. But this is the issue I actually saw in the OP’s letter.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think that’s how she meant it — I read as it pointing out that she’s not relying on other people to cover for her (since if she were, there would presumably be an argument for returning the favor).

            1. Queen Gertrude*

              But I think, whether she meant it to be read that way or not, the way she wrote her letter gives evidence as to why her co-workers are cold towards her. She sees herself as being without fault. While technically true, she’s still not doing herself any favors with how she approaches her job and coworkers. I haven’t done hospitality management in well over 15 years now (back in those days I did all my schedules manually and 2 weeks in advance), but if I had someone like this on my team who was the odd man out and seemed to refuse to help others unless I always stepped in… that actually would be a red flag. On one hand I can appreciate someone who doesn’t want to be taken advantage of, on the other… what happens when the day comes when no one will be willing to cover for her? Because something tells me that day will come. Car breaks down, family member/friend passes away, severe illness, accident? Just because nothing has happened yet, doesn’t mean nothing will.

          2. Perse's Mom*

            I didn’t get that at all. I read it as she works her scheduled hours so she *can’t* pick up shifts for her coworkers without clearing it w/ the manager due to her PTE status, nor can she necessarily swap if she’s already worked her own hours or heaven forbid doesn’t want to swap for a less optimal set of hours.

      3. Turtle Candle*

        It’s one of those things where… these days my attitude is the fault lies with managers who shift scheduling hassles onto employees by making them find coverage; IMO it’s the management that makes sick people either spend hours calling around or come in sick who are to blame for this situation.

        BUT when I was an employee in retail and hospitality type jobs, years ago and new to the workplace, it didn’t occur to me that I could have any kind of expectations of management besides that they would probably pay me. There was a kind of almost… tunnel vision? Like of course they’re going to screw us over, it will be like that forever amen, and the only people you can trust to make it tolerable are your coworkers… so the perception that a coworker wasn’t willing to chip in and help smooth things over for everyone was like a betrayal, almost. You never relied on management to solve problems, you relied on your peers.

        It was of course completely backwards, and wrongheaded. But it was, at least in that time and place, a pervasive attitude.

  12. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

    #4 Sounds like the Men in Black interview, where everyone is trying to fill out their extensive applications on their laps or the sides of their chairs, and Will Smith grabs the coffee table and pulls it over to use. I think your interview might have gone far, far better than you imagine. Lightyears farther…

    1. Purest Green*

      Agh, I referenced this up-thread before I saw your comment. I can imagine the chair making the loud screetch too.

  13. Meihyr*

    OP1: I agree with Alison. I’m iffy with coworkers dating one another as it is but their private business is not company business. It’s best to stay out of it.

  14. Mary*

    #4 I had an interview once in a large meeting room with a regular table and chair at one end for the interviewer and a lone chair in the centre of the room for the candidate. The recruiter said it was because she had a cold, but she still had the same “cold” months later when I was interviewed again. It was very odd but she staffed the whole company by interviewing in this way.

    1. Whats In A Name*

      I’m envisioning Clark Griswold going into the conference room at the beginning of Christmas Vacation and the delay in his boss hearing him down that long table.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I had one where there was no desk or table–it was just two chairs facing each other. With no other furniture in the room. It was oddly intimate and while the interviewer was very nice, it made me slightly uncomfortable.

    3. aelle*

      I had this too! I had an interview in a large conference room, with a panel of Interviewers sitting on one side of a large mahogany table, and on the other side, a single chair, several meters away from the table. They had me leave my stuff in a waiting room but I had kept a notebook, I had to balance it in my lap. It was super awkward. I chalked it up to cultural differences (the company was Korean) but otherwise it would have really turned me off the job.

  15. Anon 2*

    #2 – definitely tell the employer if you won’t be taking the position. I’ve withdrawn from a couple of positions once I found out the salary and I’ve told them. One of them emailed me specifically asking me why I was withdrawing, as I had 4 out of their 5 requirements (plus them wanting 10 years of experience in those areas),, and they paid 50% less than my current salary. I made sure to tell them, because it was a new position and I don’t think they understood what the market rate for those skills were. Or they are busy looking for a bargain.

    1. OP #2*

      Yes, I will be telling them and if pressed I will use Alison’s wording about how my entry level salary is less. I am curious as to what their reaction will be.

      1. Ama*

        Good for you. I got stuck in limbo for over a year once because my department head left and the big bosses wanted to hire someone with his (very experienced, top of his field) credentials but wanted to pay at a much lower rate. Too many of the high-level people they approached to apply didn’t mention salary when they declined, and then the hiring committee couldn’t figure out why the unsolicited applications were all from more junior candidates. It wasn’t until someone finally told them point blank, “the salary you’re listing is not even close to market value for someone of my experience in this field” that they finally got it.

        Of course, their solution was to redo the job description and look for a junior candidate, rather than raise salary, but at least that was more successful.

  16. Gaara*

    #1, I would want to know if I were being cheated on. Or at least, I would want my friends to tell me if they knew, or had reason to think so. I think that’s where this impulse comes from — blurring the lines between friendship and colleagues.

    But at work, you’re always colleagues first and always need to act professionally. And if you remove feelings of friendship, you wind up where Alison comes out: stay out of it.

    So those are basically the two sides of it that I see, and maybe thinking of it in those terms will help you figure out what to do.

    1. MK*

      I think most people would want to know and expect that their friends will tell them, but the reality is that there can often be an awkwardness there long after the issue has been resolved. You are forever associated with a very painful incident for them, especially if the marriage breaks down; if it doesn’t, these is embarassment that you know of something so private about their life.

  17. dear liza dear liza*

    On #4

    In higher ed, it’s common to conduct interviews at major conferences. Most venues have breakout rooms, or set up pop-up cubicles in the exhibit area. I was horrified to learn that for some disciplines/departments, the setting of choice was the search committee chair’s hotel room. Not a suite, but a standard room, with the bed. In the worst cases, the candidate would have to sit on the bed while the search committee members dragged chairs and tables near the bed to perch on. And yeah, it was often a female candidate encircled by older males.

    I swear I’m not making this up.

    1. blackcat*

      Indeed, you are not making this up.

      This happened to a friend. Awkward. She declined the second interview and got a much better job, one where the conference interview was in a restaurant and the chair apologized for not having a better space.

  18. OP #2*

    Thanks for answering my question Alison.

    How would you (or any other commenter out there that has worked in HR) react if someone pointed out the low salary with exactly your wording? Have you (or any other commenter) ever been swayed in salary negotiations to realize that the salary is way too low and realize you actually need to raise it significantly?

    1. Anon 2*

      I am interested in this answer as well. I do know that one of the positions that I applied for and then later withdrew from due to the salary (and I told them that), asked me my reasons, and then they re-evaluated the position description to more closely align with their salary range. I suspect that they were shooting for the moon with the position (which was new), and realized that what they could afford didn’t correspond with what they were hoping to hire.

    2. Pwyll*

      I used to do HR at a place that drastically underpaid a certain subset of our staff, no matter how much I fought otherwise. The job descriptions were a hodgepodge wishlist and the salary was well below market, and the bosses were frustrated that we couldn’t keep anyone for more than a year. We used to advertise the salary on the job description so that it wasn’t a surprise, but still.

      I never had any flexibility to change the salary for a stellar candidate, even if I pushed the Powers That Be, but I would collect the decline e-mails and was particularly appreciative of people who would clearly state that the salary was below market and why they know that. I brought them to the COO at one point and gave them to him and basically said, “25 different people declining due to sub-market salary. Your expectations are unrealistic. This is two positions at the same salary each or one position at double the salary.” They finally changed the salary after the next underpaid employee quit after 7 months.

      All that to say, in some companies your wording can be used as evidence to push for a salary change, but it may not necessarily benefit you personally. In other companies I’ve worked with, if you are a particularly good candidate, your wording may be a push to reevaluate and up the offer. It all really depends.

    3. Lora*

      Not HR, but I have pointed out lowball offers more than once. Every time, the person making the offer has acknowledged it was low, with varying levels of sheepishness. Some said, we are a start-up and can’t afford any more, sorry. Some said, that is what we have budgeted for this position, take it or leave it. When I told them no because this is just way too low, best of luck to you in the future, they were always gracious. So, for what that is worth…

    4. LQ*

      I had something similarish, they realized they needed to lower the requirements of the position rather than raise the salary (which was the right decision for them I think). They didn’t need someone with quite the years of experience and they couldn’t afford that person. So they made a change but it was in the opposite direction. (This was an org I felt pretty comfortable having a conversation like this with, one I believed in the mission of, and was 100% ok with not getting the job.)

    5. Dr. Ruthless*

      It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close…

      For my current position, I was essentially cold-called, and I’d be moving across the country (so I had quite a bit of negotiating power!) When they gave me my initial offer, while it was nominally ~20k higher than my then-current job, once I accounted for COL changes from moving from the southwest to the East coast, I was coming out slightly behind. I pointed this out to the hiring manager, then we went back and forth with various COL calculators and came up with a figure that was enough higher than my previous pay (and with a huge amount of upside potential) that I felt good about the move.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      Just remember you’re doing them a favor. They may react badly, but that’s not your fault—that would totally be on them. I know a non-profit that was looking for an ED for a long time, and they couldn’t hire anyone because they were paying well below market rate (even for a struggling non-profit). After a while, you get enough candidates turning you down that you realize how low your salary offer is.

      You’re just giving them a heads-up so they don’t have to learn the hard way.

    7. Jadelyn*

      As an HR person, we actually don’t have much control over salary limits – but I would be thrilled to have a candidate who declined for salary reasons be super blunt about it, because that’s something I could take to the higher-ups who *do* have control over salary limits. Especially if more than one candidate has that response. They won’t take our word for it when we try to tell them “this salary is unrealistic for what you want out of a candidate”, but they’ll pay a lot more attention when they’re specifically and provably losing good candidates over the salary.

    8. TheCupcakeCounter*

      It depends on who you are dealing with. If you have the misfortune of dealing with the person who did the research or set the salary range it will get a little hairy (they tend to get defensive).

  19. Geek*


    Robert Heinlein: “the correct way to punctuate a sentence that begins ‘it’s really none of my business but’ is to put a period right after the word ‘but’.”

  20. Trout 'Waver*

    #4, My office is set up that way because the chairs would block storage. I specifically tell my colleagues to pull the chairs up to the desk. It’s surprising to me how few do it of their own initiative.

    1. MK*

      It’s not. But it’s much easier to shrug it off when you are not interacting with these people every day. The OP might go to work tomorrow and have to listen to this guy’s partner talk about how she saved money for six months to buy him a birthday present. This doesn’t change the fact that the right thing to do is nothing, but it’s hardly surprising that people would have a “oh, s**t, what do I do now?” reaction.

  21. Roscoe*

    #1 This is one of those things where I never understand why its so hard for people to stay out of other people’s business. You know 1 data point, that he is on Bumble. Besides that he blatantly says its for research, so why not believe it. Also, Bumble is known for keeping profiles active far longer than people actually are active on it. But even without all of that, ITS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Thats like if you saw him at dinner with a woman and blabbed that he was cheating to his wife, when it could just be a sister. This is work, not a reality show. Treat it as such.

  22. so anon*

    #1: As everyone else has said, this is none of your business. I know a lot of people in these situations want to play the savior or voice of reason, but in most cases you’re just inserting yourself somewhere you don’t belong.

    Those dating apps tend to keep profiles open long after you request to delete it. If you delete the app from your phone, the profile is still available on the app. You have to email the support team to request that your profile be deleted and even then it takes a few months.

  23. Hilary Faye*

    I once found a coworker on a dating site. He had a serious girlfriend but I didn’t know her particularly well. The information in the profile wasn’t totally accurate (different job, educational background, etc.) but I figured he had just lied/embellished. I didn’t say anything because it obviously wasn’t my business. A couple weeks later I met his identical twin brother at a happy hour event :)

    1. Natalie*

      I cackled out lout at the end of this story. Also, I feel like someone could make a halfway decent romcom out of this.

          1. MK*

            London Detection Club. They were writers of detective stories during the Golden era (between the world wars, think Agatha Christie) and they had this list of rules about playing “fair” with the reader; basig the solution of the mystery on the existence of an identical twin was frowned upon.

            1. Michelle*

              In one of the Poirot books, he goes to a mystery play and then complains bitterly for the rest of the book about the solution being based on information that the audience could not have known. IIRC, it was either an identical twin, or something very similar.

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Ha, that’s awesome.

      I work with a guy whose twin works at a satellite office. I paid a visit to the satellite recently and thought, “Wow, I didn’t know Fergus was going to the same meeting as I was!” Good thing I didn’t say “Hey, Fergus!” because he would have been, all, “I’m Wakeen.”

      And I had been TOLD ahead of time that his twin worked at the other office. DERP.

  24. Looby*

    I’m not in the US, but wouldn’t eligibility for benefits be a good thing? UnlessOP#5s talking about government benefits that restrict the amount of money you can earn while receiving them.

    1. Sarianna*

      For the OP, perhaps. For the company, that costs money. OP is working part-time on purpose and was hired to fill a part-time role. It would reflect badly on their manager were OP legally mandated (due to hours worked) into a full-time role which costs the company more, and would lead to OP being scheduled for more hours once the role change happened, which OP has said is not desired.

      1. Retail HR Guy*

        The ACA says that benefits need to be provided or else a penalty paid if the part-timer strays into full-time hours, but what law mandates that the company schedule full-time hours going forward?

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      It’s common practice for companies to prevent part-time workers from gaining eligibility, though, so they don’t have to pay benefits. They say “This is a part-time job, and we will not let you work full-time hours.”

      It sucks.

    3. Turtle Candle*

      Yes, but potentially expensive for the company; I read the letter as LW being prohibited from taking on full-time hours, which is not uncommon in shift work. (Indeed, in that case you can even be fired for taking on too many extra hours, if it would put you at risk for benefits they don’t want to pay.)

  25. animaniactoo*

    OP1, I would not be able to stay out of it in the circumstances you describe. However, what I would do would be extremely limited.

    I would show the profile to the woman, and ask no questions. Ever. Simply state “I came across this and wanted to make sure you’re aware of it if you aren’t. No explanations needed, requested, whatever, this is just a head’s-up if you need it.” and then go away.

    Yes, I would be curious as hell. But I can keep my curiosity in check. What I can’t keep in check is the possibility that I have knowledge that they don’t – and would want to have. Judgement also kept in check. Maybe they’re separating. Maybe it’s a problem they’ll choose to work through. Maybe they have an open relationship. Whatever it is – those things are none of my business, and it’s my job to make that clear. It’s up to them, the two people in the relationship. But if I’m a friend, I don’t not warn someone of a possible freight train just because it might get messy now. However, if I’m a friend, I also don’t demand or solicit explanations or defenses that are none of my business, just because I stumbled across a data point that could be absolutely nothing.

    1. Prismatic Professional*

      I think the issue is that this person isn’t a friend, she’s a co-worker. It is absolutely not anybody at work’s business.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      I don’t think she (or he) is a friend of OP or OP’s friend… just a coworker. So I really think Alison’s advice to keep quiet and let it go is for the best. That’s what I would do.

      But, that said, I am someone who could pretty easily let it go and not dwell on it. I know a lot of people who couldn’t do that and would also feel like they absolutely have to say something… so I am interested in how other personalities like yours would handle it.

      1. animaniactoo*

        From the letter: “we are a tight-knit company and are all friends”.

        If it was a co-worker who I considered a colleague but not a friend, I’d say nothing at all because I’m too far away from the situation to even be the person who says “hey, in case you didn’t know”.

        1. Roscoe*

          But even if you are close outside of work, this is not an issue without workplace ramifications, which is why you need to be professional and NOT bring it up.

          1. animaniactoo*

            False premise. If his having that profile is an issue in their relationship, there are going to be issues whether I’m the one who brought it to her attention or not.

            If it’s not an issue there’s no mess to clean up beyond possibly a couple of days of awkwardness while I prove I don’t care beyond the notification and am not going to be raising it again (which I should have included that I’d say in the initial “Hey, saw this, wanted to make sure you knew about it), and I’m not going to be treating anyone differently based on having seen it or passed it along.

            1. Sketchee*

              Since this site is focused on workplace issue, it would be an addition issue that a manager was involved in a personal relationship. Inserting yourself in a personal situation creates the appearance that you do care. The notification itself creates that appearance.

              Even if you don’t intend it that way and swear that it won’t impact your decision-making, it will appear that way and it would be reasonable for others not to ever be convinced.

              It would also give the impression that you believe it is your place to insert yourself in future personal non-work relationship issues.

              They are adults who will figure out their relationship themselves one way or another.

        2. Oryx*

          Unless you’re one of the people in the relationship, you’re still too far away from the situation.

          I know couples in open marriages/relationships. They don’t broadcast this information unless it comes up — and the only reason it ever HAS come up is because I’ve been asked if I’d be interested in sleeping with the male half. I’m sure I know other people in open relationship but they don’t talk about it.

          Not. Your. Business.

    3. Adonday Veeah*

      This is not “extremely limited” IMO. It’s wading into their business neck deep and dropping a potential bomb. Nothing good could possibly come from it. I would rather let these two grown-ups manage their own lives without intrusion.

      1. animaniactoo*

        It’s a bomb only if she doesn’t know about it.

        And yes, it is extremely limited. I am telling what I specifically know. Not what I assume or might assume. I’m not judging what I’ve found OR what might be happening. I’m not asking for any explanations. In fact, I’m pointedly not seeking them as being none of my business. I’m not treating anyone differently going forward. Yeah, there might be a period of potential awkwardness, and the way that goes away the fastest is by ignoring it and acting as normal as possible. To make them comfortable and prove that I’m not judging or looking for explanations. Because I have all the benefit of the doubt in the world that whatever choices they make or have made around it are ones that they consider right for them, and that is their right as it is my right to make choices in my partnership that I consider right for me even if they wouldn’t be for someone else.

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          I disagree. The fact that you are bringing it to her attention means you’ve made an assumption about it being important. You, not they, have essentially brought their personal business out in the workplace, which is, IMO, horribly inappropriate.

          1. Non-Prophet*

            Yes, I agree with this. Regardless of the fact that all the employees are friends and it’s a tight knit company, this is still a workplace. It’s not a social club. The work relationship is primary.

            If there is an innocent reason for the dating profile, it’s existence won’t negatively impact the workplace whatsoever. If the BF is cheating and OP1 exposes it, OP is the one who has damaged the team dynamic by bringing personal drama into the workplace.

    4. Roscoe*

      This isn’t like your best friend from college, it is your co-worker. And they both work there, so you are essentially making a very messy work environment because you don’t know how to mind your own business. This is just being an office busy body under the guise of being a friend.

    5. Sketchee*

      This would be perfectly acceptable and ethical. But only if first you decided to end your term with the company and act as a personal friend.

    6. Oryx*


      Showing the profile to the woman is getting involved, no matter how limited. It’s not your business and it’s not her job to satisfy your curiosity about something that isn’t your business.

    7. MegaMoose, Esq.*

      To be clear though, it’s not that you wouldn’t be able to stay out of it, it’s that you choose not to stay out of it. Honestly, the only time I think there’s a real question of whether or not to speak up is if you 100% know for a fact that the person would want you to tell them.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Good points. It is better phrased as it would drive me nuts not to say something, and therefore I would *choose* to act as outlined above. That’s entirely on me.

        I see clearly that most people disagree with me – probably about my ability to pull this off neutrally, and those are valid concerns. But I know that I’ve done it before, and it’s part of why I’d feel comfortable doing it in a situation like this.

        Basically, I’m just going to agree to disagree with where the line on the professional/personal life divide lies when there’s already major intermingling of the two. I trust my friends/co-workers to forgive me if they feel I’ve overstepped, particularly if I’m dropping the subject and never referencing it again (and yeah, that I can and have done before).

    8. Turtle Candle*

      Oooh. I am trying to put into words how badly I would react to this if I was the woman in question, and failing. Suffice it to say that I would be livid. And the “limited” version that you suggest would… it would almost be worse than if you were like “is your boyfriend cheating on you, or what?” Because that kind of vague, let-me-lay-out-the-evidence-and-then-let-you-draw-your-own-conclusions thing feels very… deliberately scripted, like I’m being interrogated on a cop show. And the implication is that everyone who sees this will think he’s cheating–I mean, you clearly did, you wouldn’t bring it to my attention if you thought he was there to find badminton partners–would make me feel immediately that I had to go into damage control mode, because obviously there are rumors going around, and nobody expects the poor wounded lady to explain it, buuuuuut….

      I don’t know. I’m not sure I’m making any sense here, and I am confident that you would be doing it because you thought you were doing the right thing. But regardless of what turned out to be the case with the partner, as the woman in question I would be deeply upset with you for bringing this into the workplace, especially in such a “I’m not saying, I’m just implying, say no more” kind of way.

  26. Reverend(ish)*

    For #1, there might also be a chance that it is a cat fishing scenario. Doesn’t take much to set up make accounts with photos that can be obtained thru social media. So yeah, I’d stay FAR away from this because it’s a personal matter with multiple possibilities, not a business/work issue.

  27. Observer*

    #5, you have a perfect right to not cover any shift you don’t want to, for any reason or no reason. But, lose the attitude. If your issue is just that your manager doesn’t want you doing this, then explaining that might be useful. If you just don’t want to, that’s fine, but be nice about it.

    The fact that you have never needed coverage is not a good reason to be disdainful of people who do ask for coverage, and that’s what comes through. As for putting “sick” in quotes, really? Guess what, people do actually get too sick to come into the office, and they don’t always sound like they are dying.

    Your co-workers shouldn’t be giving you flack. But, it’s quite possible that their issue is not that you won’t cover, but your attitude about it.

  28. Science!*

    I had an interview once that was somewhat informal. The person I was interviewing with had an office with a standing desk. There was no other chair in the room, except for a bean bag chair. So I had to stand at the desk. It was awkward, because I am a short woman, so the desk was just about chest level for me, so I ended up resting my arms on the desk while we talked.

  29. Coffee and Mountains*

    #3 What is the appropriate action for the management to take? Do they set an end date, basically? How do you transition out?
    What if they only resigned verbally and not in writing?

  30. Catabodua*

    Retail places that make you find your own replacement … oh how I hated this when I worked retail. HATED HATED HATED

  31. OP #1*

    Hello all! I am OP #1. Thank you all for your basically unanimous response. It is truly helpful. No one has said or done anything/brought anything into the workplace, and we will keep it that way. That was my original instinct, but since my third employee was so torn up about it I thought it would make an interesting dilemma here. I very much appreciate everyone’s input. Thanks for being a great and thoughtful community of commentators.

    That’s your update–nothing further has happened, or will happen. :)

  32. Moonsaults*

    My BF’s dating profile is still up. It’s not because he’s looking to cheat or replace me. The thing is his other friends have profiles and they skim profiles and send links to be all “What do you think, should I talk to her/him?” when they are the ones who are searching, looking for a friend’s POV prior to chatting someone up. If you don’t have an account, you don’t always get to see someone’s profile since they have it set to “only visible for users” or something similar.

    Unless it’s a notorious cheating app/site, I’m not going to flinch or think differently. Bumble is marketed as dating, friends and networking. It’s not Grinder.

  33. EvilQueenRegina*

    #1 actually reminds me of something that happened to my friend once. Kathryn had been on Plenty of Fish, had had this guy named Sean express an interest in her but she turned him down. She thought no more of it for a while until the day she bumped into him in the supermarket, went on Plenty of Fish later and saw he was online.

    Kathryn and I had this friend, Ashley, from Exjob. Ashley had moved on to another department but stayed in touch, had talked about her new boyfriend Sean who was a coworker, but Kathryn didn’t make the connection until Ashley joined Facebook, posted a picture of herself and Sean together and Kathryn realised it was the same person. When she tried to tell Ashley that Sean was still on Plenty of Fish, Ashley was having none of it and said Sean had tried to delete it but was having trouble (from what so anon said above, that could have been possible, but Kathryn didn’t believe that and thought Sean was messing her about.) Two years on they still aren’t talking. So I vote for keeping out of it.

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