my boss jokes that I don’t work after 5, company donations to a controversial charity, and more

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

1. My boss has been joking that I don’t work after 5

My manager has made several comments to me in the past couple of weeks about how I don’t “work after five.” He’s a big jokester most of the time, so these comments are always made in the form of a joke and he laughs after he says it. I really do tend to work only 8:30-5:00, but as far as I can tell I’m meeting all of my monthly goals that are set, so these comments are throwing me for a loop.

The only explanation I can think of was that about six months ago, one of our teammates quit and my boss took on all of her work (he’s the owner of the company), so his workload is significantly higher than mine and I think he’s been struggling lately with keeping up with his work. However, I was never consulted about how the former colleague’s work would be divided and he’s never asked me for help with his caseload. I know I need to address this with him before our annual review because I don’t want to get a negative review, but I’m at a loss for how to bring this up to him.

“You’ve made a few jokes recently about how I leave right at 5. I’m really vigilant about making sure that I’m hitting all of my goals, and my impression has been that you’re happy with my work. But your comments have made me wonder — do you have any concerns about my hours? If so, I’d definitely want to talk about them so we’re on the same page about expectations.”

2. My company might inadvertently collect donations for an anti-abortion group

I work for a secular for-profit company that likes to gather employee donations (typically from casino nights and other fundraising activities) to make charitable donations to groups like soup kitchens, animal shelters, and homeless shelters in the area– giving back to the community. I have in the past contributed to this.

The problem is that recently, a new employee suggested a new charity, an adoption services group, as a good beneficiary. Well, I looked into it, and the group is a very Christian crisis pregnancy center– an organization that discourages abortion, single parenthood, or gay parenthood in favor of placing children with (exclusively) Christian families, and uses high pressure tactics to do so, including lying to and intentionally deceiving women. They do provide adoption support as well, but for a high fee– as in, rich parents pay to adopt healthy babies from the U.S. or abroad, and they keep the profit, which is one of their incentives to do anything they can to prevent women from aborting or raising the child themselves.

I feel like this is not a good charity to work with. I don’t object to religious charities — we work with church-affiliated soup kitchens and shelters — but this is very different. The problem is, this is work. I don”t want to go around saying “we can’t support this group because they are anti-abortion,” because my office has many conservative people and there are many progressive people who object to abortion as well. I can’t say it’s because they’re religious, because we’ve worked with religious groups for years. But at the same time, I don’t think many other coworkers who do object to the practices of crisis pregnancy centers will know from the materials that that is what this group is.

We have HR, but I don’t know their political views, and abortion is such a hot button issue that I simply do not trust people to look at me objectively if they do not agree with me on the topic. What do you think I should do?

The word to use is “controversial.” Also possibly “divisive.” For example: “I’ve done some reading on this charity, and it’s highly controversial — it uses high pressure tactics to discourage women from having abortions. I don’t think we’d want to attach our name to that since it’s so divisive, unless it’s a deliberate decision from the top of the company to specifically support that type of work. I’d think many employees, myself included, would be pretty concerned to find out about the work they do.” (You can leave off “myself included” if you’re uncomfortable with that.)

Your point here isn’t about the merits or lack of merits of the organization — it’s about the fact that your organization would be signing on to support something extremely divisive, and they shouldn’t do that without serious thought and intent behind it.

3. Speaking to an employee who stayed late despite a family emergency

I dotted-line-manage a small cross-functional team. (As in, I manage all their day-to-day work in a team leader sense, but don’t officially oversee their leave, performance reviews, etc.) It’s been an all-hands-on-deck kind of week, including a late night completing work that had to be done outside of business hours.

After a stressful night getting that bit over the line, at about 11:00 at night, one of my top performers tells me on her way out, “Sorry if I was a little off tonight. I found out this afternoon that my cousin passed away, and I’ve been just trying to hold it together to get through today.” I was pretty shocked and horrified she’d stayed (and myself pretty exhausted), but manage to keep a lid on that, give condolences, have enough of a chat to know she was close to him but that he’d been sick a long time and this was expected, and tell her that she was absolutely fine to take tomorrow off if she needed it. (At this point, she did look about to fall apart but said she was planning to come in; she let me know this morning that she was going to take today and tomorrow, which I fully support.)

We work for a very employees-are-people-first organization, and everyone would have been 100% supportive even if she had left in the middle of the day on the day of this big piece of work for a reason like this. But she’s relatively new (within first six months, but doing amazing) and I want to make sure she knows this.

So I am at a bit of a loss of how to handle this. On one hand, her help was really valuable and I want her to know I recognize her contributions–especially in the face of life troubles–are noticed and appreciated. On the other, I definitely don’t want to build a culture where people feel like they have to stay at work pretending everything is okay until 11 p.m. when relatives they’re close to pass away. (And I kind of get the sense that she didn’t tell me earlier because she knew I’d tell her to leave, and she didn’t want to leave me in the lurch, which again, appreciated but so not necessary.) Any suggestions of how to handle this in a way that best supports her? I’m thoroughly stuck.

Yes! Talk to her and be direct about what you’ve said here.

For example: “Hey, I wanted to talk with you about last week. I will always appreciate it when you go above and beyond at work, whether it’s staying late or putting extra effort into making sure that we get a project just right … but you are also human with a life outside of work, and when something serious happens like a death in the family, I don’t want you to even think twice about coming to me and telling me that you need to leave. I was mortified when I realized we’d kept you here the day your cousin died, and I want to make sure that you know in the future that we are 100% supportive of you taking the time that you need when you have something serious going on in your life, even if it’s in the middle of all-hands-on-deck-type of project.”

4. My boss told me we’d talk about a possible raise in the fall — how do I bring it up?

Six months ago during scheduled merit increases, I got a small percent increase due to the length of my time on the job. My boss said in an email that she “is hoping to do a mid-term adjustment later in the fall” as well. Now it’s fall (at least the weather for sure is here), and I don’t know what would be a good way to bring this up to her without sounding greedy. I just passed the one-year mark with the company and she has been giving me more and more responsibilities since I started. She always comments “you’re doing a very good job” when I ask her for feedback (not excellent or great though). The clients like my work and are happy that I’m here.

How do I send a “friendly reminder” to my boss about the increases she mentioned she was hoping to get me? Is it also a good time to ask for more if this adjustment is also a small increase?

Be direct: “You mentioned in April that we could talk about raising my salary in the fall. Now that I’ve been here a full year, I’m hoping we can revisit that.”

Before going into this conversation, you’d ideally have an idea of what kind of increase you’re looking for. That should be based on the market rate for your work, your skills, and your experience in your field and your geographic area, and ideally on your company’s salary structure as well if you’re privy to that. Then you can either say directly, “I was hoping we could take about a raise to $X” or you can wait and counter if she proposes something lower than that.

5. My manager wants to take a team trip to a country with widespread Zika transmission

I work in the sales department at a small company, and we have an annual team incentive trip that the sales team goes on together if we hit our annual sales goal. We got an email last night letting us know that the location being considered for this year is a small country with widespread Zika transmission (Dominican Republic, if that matters). The email stated that the area of the country we’d be visiting is not affected and asked us to voice any concerns to HR before they book the trip.

The problem is that of the 20 people eligible for the trip, I’m the only married woman of childbearing age, so I’m feeling a little singled out. While I’m not currently trying to get pregnant, it’s certainly within consideration sometime in the near future. I need to do more research on Zika, but even if I was comfortable taking the trip, the concept of telling my mother-in-law that I’m traveling to a Zika country is enough to keep me from going.

I’m worried that even if I voice my concerns to HR confidentially, it’ll be 100% evident to my boss that the concern was coming from me. My boss LOVES this annual trip and I’m worried he’ll hold it against me if I mess up his plans. If I don’t say something, I might be able to come up with a fake conflict and not attend, but my boss won’t be thrilled about that either. Do I have any good options here? I can’t seem to see a good way out.

Talk to HR and say this: “As a woman of child-bearing age, I’m not comfortable traveling to a country with widespread Zika transmission. But as the only person in my demographic on the team, I’m also uncomfortable bringing it up. I know Fergus loves this trip and I don’t want any tension with him if I’m the cause of the plans needing to change. Are you able to intervene as HR, pointing out that Zika is too much of a concern right now for this location to be practical for the whole team, without specifically tying it to me?”

There’s a very good chance that they’ll be willing to talk to your boss without implicating you. After all, men can pass Zika to their partners, so you’re not the only person who could be worried about this.

{ 312 comments… read them below }

  1. Lexi S*

    OP#1 I slightly disagree with Alison. I think you should ask if there are things that aren’t getting done that you are unaware of rather than offering up the possibility of more hours. If your boss wants more hours even though you are getting everything done, let him say so, don’t volunteer it if you don’t have to.

    1. Artemesia*

      ny reaction too — he is the owner of course he’d rather run you ragged than hire to replace — focus on achievement not time spent. if the work is too much he should hire to replace.

      1. mazzy*

        I work with a #1. Management knows they are always going to leave at 5:00 and thus tend not to assign them emergency projects or basically anything beyond the basics of their job even though there is a lot going on. It’s sort of an unspoken understanding that they are not going anywhere in the company because they don’t seem extremely interested and there are other workers doing more. This is a well paid exempt position.

        1. moss*

          they win, I think. I see nothing wrong with this. If they are well paid and leave on time every day maybe they don’t WANT to “go anywhere” in the company. Not everyone has grasping ambitions. Some of us like to do our jobs and go home.

          1. LBK*

            Not every company culture is okay with that, though. Whether they should be or not is a different question, but if the OP’s company is one where the idea that you don’t want to move up would be out of sync with everyone else, it can be considered a ding against her current performance (and again, I know it probably shouldn’t be that way, but I don’t think the OP has the power to change the culture at her office, so she should be aware of it).

            1. Patrick*

              I work in a company that’s pretty “up or out” and it’s understandably a rough fit for some people. This isn’t to say we’re pushing people out the door frequently, but if someone isn’t moving up in a few years their days are probably numbered. It’s worth noting that this is generally about people who aren’t growing past entry level positions, not someone who stays in, say, a middle management role.

              We also run fairly lean though, so if you have an assistant teapot planner who isn’t moving up to associate teapot planner you’re missing the opportunity to have someone at an entry level who can be developed to move up and you’re going to have to hire from outside to fill higher level positions.

              Not saying this works for every employee/company but I feel like sometimes companies that operate on an “up or out” philosophy get a bad rap. I kind of came into ambition later in life than most but working here has definitely pushed me in a good way.

          2. mazzy*

            I feel like you’re playing devils advocate. Yes there will always be workplaces that are X and some that are not X. Everything exists in the world, a disclaimer of “but not all workplaces” is understood.

            You’re ignoring the fact that it can be useful information to workers in some industries that their hours are having an impact on their image or climbing the corporate ladder. Remember were talking about someone leaving at 5 which is very early at a lot of job; the comments below are more suited for a boss making people work 11 or 12 hours a day which isn’t the case here.

            1. moss*

              nah, I’m not. I’m pushing back against the idea that everyone wants to “go somewhere.” I don’t think it’s big news to anyone that someone who is ambitious needs to be seen working all the time; after all, we coined the word “workaholic” back in the 70s I think. Your original post seemed to imply pity toward the person who isn’t getting assigned emergency projects or other things beyond their job duties. I’m just saying some people like to have jobs like that, yes even in well-paid exempt positions.

        2. Fjell & Skog*

          There has to be a balance. I am totally willing to (and do) stay late when necessary…as long as “when necessary” does not mean routinely and almost every day. Then I think that means there is too much on my plate.

          But when it’s not necessary, I’m not going to stick around after 5pm just so my boss will think “geez, she’s a real go-getter, I think I’ll assign her MORE to do!”

          1. LBK*

            I can see it both ways – on the one hand, if someone sends out signs that they’re not looking for stretch assignments (ie generally seems like a “get my work done, collect my paycheck, go home” type) I would probably go to someone else if I had a special project. But if someone is already working extra hours, I agree that it seems a little ridiculous to pile more work on them.

            1. orangecat*

              I think the problem here though is that you’re assuming someone can’t rearrange their day to do their regular work AND work on a stretch project and still go home at a reasonable time.

              1. LBK*

                I wouldn’t base my impression of whether someone wants stretch assignments purely on whether they work late sometimes or not, but it would be a factor among others (like how often they actively seek out those assignments, how much they contribute to team projects, how much interest they show in expanding their role and learning new tasks, etc.).

              2. TMosby*

                If they can, they either aren’t using their time efficiently or should be going home early every day.

                1. Fjell & Skog*

                  I think it depends on the time-scale of the stuff you are working on, though. I have a lot of random stuff that I work on that would be nice to have done, but is not time critical at all. I can totally take on a stretch project, if needed, and probably still leave on time. I just have to push back the non-time-critical stuff. So if my boss is OK with that stuff getting delayed a bit, then yeah, I can still take on new stuff without having to work longer hours.

          2. paul*

            amen. That’s one of the hardest things to communicate to managers for me too.

            I’m more than willing to stay late because of stuff hitting the fan.

            I’m not willing to stay late for no reasons, or because the company’s too cheap to hire people to handle the regular workload, or just for the sake of staying late.

            1. Amadeo*

              Yes. I have stayed late at jobs before. Emergencies when I worked as a CVT (once until midnight, supporting a dog in crisis), the Wednesday before Thanksgiving at a newspaper, at a print shop when a job needed to go out before the next day… Those are things that don’t happen on a daily basis and I’m OK dealing with them once in a while.

              Definitely not willing to work 50-60 hours a week, every week, because management can’t be bothered to hire the extra set of hands we actually need. I have things I’d like to do at home, too.

            2. UrbanGardener*

              I am a #1 as well, and I feel like you do. My former boss wanted me to start earlier than everyone else (“in case executives need something”) and agreed I could leave earlier than everyone else at 5. But then she was a passive aggressive beast about it almost every day. Sorry boss, you agreed to these hours (not sorry).

            3. Kelly L.*


              I’ve got a friend who works at a place that used to have occasional mandatory overtime on weekends. Over the past several years, it’s morphed into mandatory overtime almost every weekend, because they don’t have enough people to handle the workload. When they do finally deign to hire someone, the person quits almost immediately…because of the constant mandatory overtime that isn’t advertised in the job description. So it’s become a self-perpetuating cycle at this point, and the only people still there are the ones stuck in sunk cost or who don’t realize they have other options.

          3. ThatGirl*

            Yes, I feel the same. I work longer hours (often at home, because of traffic) when it’s needed, when we have an urgent project to finish or I have something I’m responsible for fixing. But I see no reason to work late just to show off that I’m working late.

            1. (Another) B*

              I’ve had multiple bosses that want you to stay late…. for no reason. Just “putting the time in” means something apparently – I don’t get it. If I can finish everything in 40 hours why should I work 50+? Also my commute is AWFUL and I like working flex hours to but they hate it and and insist on a strict 9-5.

        3. J*

          I don’t think the two can necessarily be tied together. You can be willing to take on more, but still leave precisely at 5. I have been fortunate enough to work in places that understand this very well.

          Honestly, if the company wants me to wear 45 pieces of flair, they should ask for it explicitly. But if my agreed-upon work day ends at 5, then I expect that I’m free to go at 5.

          1. Koko*

            Yes! My management philosophy is that I want what I ask for. You don’t have to guess at what I “really” want. If I say core hours are 10-4 and you can work any 8 hours a day you want as long as you’re here for core hours, I mean that it’s fine if you work 8-4, 9-5, 10-6, or 10-4 in the office and 2 hours later at home. I truly don’t care how you manage your schedule as long as you’re getting your work done well.

            If I want the report by 3:00 PM, I’m not going to judge you for sending it at 2:59 PM. You made the deadline and it’s up to you how you managed the time between assignment and deadline. I understand that you have other projects that arise and it might have made perfect sense to prioritize other items that were more urgent as long as you didn’t make this one late. (Now, if you send it at at 2:59 repeatedly, I’m probably going to check in and make sure your workload isn’t overwhelming, but I wouldn’t inherently take issue with it if you said everything was fine.)

      2. BPT*

        “he is the owner of course he’d rather run you ragged than hire to replace”

        I think that’s a little unfair and there isn’t anything here to support that. All we know is that he’s taken on the extra work, and has made a few jokes about OP leaving at 5. If he were really someone who was ok with running his employees ragged, I doubt OP would be leaving at 5 now. Believe me, when I had bosses that were ok with putting too much on employees, there was no way I was ever leaving at 5.

        1. LBK*

          Agreed, and it sounds like the only person he’s running ragged is himself. It sounds like he’s actually doing as much as he can to keep the increase in workload off of the OP’s shoulders and to handle it himself, which is in direct opposition to the idea that he’d want to run her ragged. Let’s not perpetuate the idea that every company higher up is a mustache-twirling villain.

          1. baseballfan*

            Yes, this. Bosses/owners aren’t the devil. Some bosses are terrible – and on the other hand many (most?) care about their employees and want them to be happy and fulfilled.

            I agree the jokes are a passive-aggressive way to deal with bandwidth issues. If more work or more hours are needed, have a conversation about it. And delegate. Or hire. Or all the above.

    2. NonProfit Nancy*

      Apologies if someone else already noted this, but oddly enough there’s a Dear Prudence question over on Slate today about this same question – the friend of the LW takes a lunch every day and leaves on time no matter what, but wonders why they’re not getting promoted. I will reply to this comment with the link, since I know links get sent to moderation. Prudence’s response is not in line with Alison’s (and I think Allison has it right!).

      1. NonProfit Nancy*

        The link to the Dear Prudence is here, second question (“Work friend is slacker, doesn’t know it”) -

        1. NonProfit Nancy*

          And actually I realize upon rereading it that Alison’s answer is pretty neutral and I was responding more to the debate in the comments, above, about whether leaving right at 5 every day is acceptable or shows a lack of ambition.

        2. paul*

          I’m kind of appaled at Prudence there.

          Sometimes stuff hits the fan and you push a break out. Also, most breaks are *not* legally mandated at all. If your break gets pushed or you have to cover on occasion, you kind of just…deal. And if you don’t you can’t complian that you’re not gettting promoted

  2. Mela*

    #5: Men can sexually transmit Zika for up to six months after infection. If any coworkers have partners of childbearing age, they too would be at risk. That may widen the net a little bit, too, when you are raising the objection.

    1. Mela*

      … Which I see Alison raised in the last paragraph of her answer. I can read for content, I swear!

      1. Dweali*

        There was just a case last month where a person caught the virus from another patient’s tears (possibly sweat) the first patient was in his 70’s and ended up dying but the second patient (in his 30’s) only had a mild case (or maybe they were just caught early).

        so if OP didn’t want to bring up even the sexual/child bearing part of how it’s spread they could definitely point out that we are STILL finding new information on this virus.

        1. OP #5*

          Thanks for the link! You’re exactly right – part of my concern is that there’s still so much we don’t know about Zika. I spoke to HR and now they keep coming back to me with alternate locations. “Would you be comfortable with Location X?” “What about Location Y?” I’m finding it tricky to figure out what I’m comfortable with because the information out there is still lacking/disjointed.


            You know, you might suggest that the company look into a fun US location. Aspen, or maybe Orlando. A fun place, but one where the plane ride won’t be that long, and there won’t be a need for a flurry of passport renewals, or concerns about stability/local health. It also supports the US economy. You could definitely make a case.

            1. JustaTech*

              Maybe not Orlando: Miami has Zika, so what with the hurricane and all (waterlogged everything makes a great breeding ground for mosquitoes) Florida might be off the list too.

          2. designbot*

            Are all the other locations still in the zone affected by Zika or are any just in another area of the world entirely? I’d be annoyed that they’re basically putting it on you to choose the location now instead of getting the people who actually plan this to plan around Zika.

            1. OP #5*

              Yeah, it does feel like there’s a lot of pressure on me now to come up with a solution, although I appreciate that they’re willing to consider other options.

              Most of the options discussed so far have been in the Caribbean. I think the goal is beachy and not crazy expensive.

              1. MoinMoin*

                FWIW, I Googled “beach without Zika” and there are plenty of lists out there. I didn’t see when this trip was happening but some domestic options offhand are San Diego, the Carolinas, Hawaii, along the Gulf of Mexico, and there are plenty of resorts in Phoenix/Tucson for a trip Autumn through Spring.

    2. Rachel in Minneapolis*

      I took a work trip to Jamaica this summer. I was definitely conflicted – there was a good chance of Zika being in the areas I was working. I was also the only woman of childbearing age on the trip—I didn’t know at the time that men could transmit it as well. I felt very awkward bringing it up.

      My husband and I weighed the risks, decided to go and are being extra vigilant on birth control.

      1. KWalmostB*

        This is where I’m from and live, and would far, the statistics look low for cases of new infections and cases of newborns with microcephaly. However, since I contracted Chikungunya two years ago (no known impact on pregnancy, but a direct impact on joint health, which is critical in my work), I completely understand how (and the OP) feel and I liked Alison’s advice. If you do make the trip, use contraception and definitely be vigilant about repellant, covering your skin at dusk and dawn etc.

    3. Kyrielle*

      The one thing I will say about this that I’m surprised Alison didn’t is, when you take the issue to HR, make sure *they* know men can pass Zika to their partners for up to six months! Many people know this, but not all, and it’s entirely possible that men who would be fine with the trip without that knowledge will not want it once they have that knowledge – it’s something that the team members should be aware of in their planning process if they weren’t already. (And that HR should be aware of in taking this forward also.)

  3. Lori*

    I see the problem about the only woman of that age (which would be normal obvious characteristics of a person.)
    However, what does being married (or not being married) have to do with the issue? Plenty of unmarried people have children and could possibly be concerned as well so you could be leaving out potential sympathizers by being only concerned with married people. For all you know, one of your co-workers could be pregnant right now and just has not announced it yet.

      1. Gaara*

        Yeah, it’s plausible that the boss will interpret it that way. Probably even likely. Regardless of anyone’s sexual health or privacy or how things ought to be, it’s a common assumption in this country that marriage is tied to babies.

      1. OP #5*

        You’re right, apologies – I was just trying to simplify the explanation that I’m the “most likely suspect” if anyone were to complain. Many of my coworkers are young (23-26ish) and not likely to be considering pregnancy anytime soon.

          1. Observer*

            True, but in those cases, they wouldn’t be the ones to bring up the issue.

            It really is much more likely that someone in a committed relationship would be thinking about this than someone not, even if she’s not planning on getting pregnant any time soon. And, it’s also true that someone further on in their career would be thinking in these terms than someone younger. Of course that’s not PROOF, but it does mean that it’s much more likely for her boss to make a good guess.

  4. Cat steals keyboard*

    Re #3: it’s possible your employee has had had experiences at work in the past and doesn’t realise you’re a more human workplace. You’ll be doing a great kindness by making things clear!

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I agree. I had a sudden death in my family at OldJob, and OldBoss was pissed I took off for a couple days. He demanded that I come into work that Friday for an “important meeting” he scheduled, which he neglected to tell me he cancelled literally 10 minutes before I thought it was about to begin.

      I had another death in the family, which he reacted to with “Wow, you sure have a dark cloud looming over you.”

      At NewJob, I’ve had a couple other family emergencies and my boss had to have the “You are a human first” talk with me, and I was stunned at the compassion expressed… I didn’t know it was a Thing in work culture. OP, definitely sit down with your employee and talk with her. It will make such a world of a difference. She will appreciate your empathy.

        1. Venus Supreme*

          Within two years, six people have held that position. I was number five. OldBoss is quite the charmer…

          1. Observer*

            Which should tell you something. Many workplaces are not so proactive (Kudos to OP for wanting to address this up front!) But they still won’t ding you for taking off under such circumstances.

  5. Gadfly*

    #3, you aren’t hiring are you? (Only half joking.) I’ve seen many companies that say that sort of thing but don’t follow up with it. Thank you for meaning it.

    1. T3k*

      This was one of the few good things about my last job. I was in a similar situation where an old relative died and was informed just after I got to to my job. Boss said I could leave if I needed to but I tried to hold out. Ended up realizing I did need to go home an hour later. Got the next few days off to attend the wake/funeral.

    2. hbc*

      Really? I was just thinking that I’ve literally never stayed after hours that late, and I certainly wouldn’t be expected to go in the next day if I did, regardless of a death in the family.

      Maybe it was only one week in the history of the company where they had this kinds of all-hands-on-deck setup and maybe they have really late (to me) normal hours, but I definitely would not have been sure it would be cool of me to leave if the company was making a lot of people put in 14+ hour days.

      1. Evie*

        I think it’s really work and season dependent. There are plenty of fields and offices where hugely long days happen but there seems to be a vast vast difference in how companies deal with those days – and acknowledging personal situations too.

        1. Gaara*

          This wouldn’t strike me as unusual for a law firm, for example. Including the boss’s reaction of “oh no, you should go.”

        2. Venus Supreme*

          I agree. In non-profit world, the weeks leading up to a gala event are all-hands-on-deck. Possibly the week-of is late nights and early mornings. Then, after the event, people can relax and have a day or two off.

          1. YawningDodo*

            Yep, when I read how late they were there, my mind went to my own non-profit’s annual event. 51 weeks out of the year I work a 40 hour work week, maybe stretching a few hours over that once every couple of months if something major comes up. 1 week each year I work 70-90 hours, which happens mostly in the form of 14+ hour days in the last few days of crunch time. I’m staunchly in favor of steady hours and a healthy work-life balance and make a firm practice of not staying late unless it’s truly merited, but one week each year of “all hands on deck” madness is perfectly manageable within my personal/professional preferences.

      2. LW3*

        It is not a normal practice! We did come in late in the morning and next morning, so it was more like a 10-hour day followed by a half-day. But we’re in IT, and a lot of our big work has to be done when no one else is in the office (across 4 timezones) so we can turn off critical systems.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I was about to say it sounded like IT to me! Our IT department has pulled weekend and evening shifts several times since I’ve been here – but I don’t think they’re being asked to pull extra hours, just shifted hours, because the infrastructure work they are doing (regular infrastructure maintenance! Such an awesome thing!) cannot be done during regular hours without disrupting a lot of other employees.

          Having to be in evenings/weekends is a very IT sort of thing, alas.

      3. LD*

        Another field I’ve worked in that will have wildly varied hours is corporate communications. The group I was in had weekend and evening hours depending upon the project. It was not seasonal. I was expected to give up weekends and evenings and still be at work for my regular 8-5, M-F, schedule, even after being out and packing up from an evening event that ended after 10 p.m. and was 2 hours from where I lived and worked. So, there’s that. (I currently work in a much better balanced culture.)

      4. Sophie Winston*

        A lot of it is the individual manager too. I would absolutely be willing to stay until 3am so that an employee / coworker could leave for a family emergency. This goes back to something I learned in a management training class many years ago that stuck with me. Some people feel their contribution isn’t valued when you tell them to go take care of their personal issue. So you frame it this way:

        Yes, employee, your contribution is valuable. The final product won’t be as good if you aren’t here. But I would rather let you take care of your health/family emergency and have a ‘good enough’ final product, than know we got the better product by sacrificing your health / family.

        1. Rookie Biz Chick*

          I’m saving this for furture reference. I care deeply about flexibility and understanding that life happens, rather than ‘sit here and get your shit done no matter what else is going on.’ The work will get done. Since becoming a boss, I want to genuinely project this to staff and empower them to embrace it, too, guilt-free – whether it’s taking time after a tragic loss liek this or simply making it to soccer practice twice a week.

      5. Elizabeth*

        I work in the event management industry. Long days like that are not unusual, but a good company will help employees balance them out so folks still can have lives outside of work. The work in my industry also tends to be seasonal, so I let my employees know when to expect the long hours, and when it’ll be slow so they can plan accordingly.

  6. Jeanne*

    #2, What bothers me most is you say the company might inadvertantly support a charity. If you don’t have one yet, you should develop a vetting process for each new charity. Figure out what your company is ok with supporting and have a procedure. Leaving it open to every charity everywhere is not good policy.

    1. Allypopx*

      I’m really curious about the process for choosing charities and who makes those choices. It sounds like a nice thing to do but companies really need to be careful who they hitch their wagon to, especially at such a politically charged time in the news cycle. It would be sucky for good intentions to ruin a company’s reputation or cause internal unrest.

      1. OP2*

        My company is pretty young. Currently they accept any charity that a coworker recommends that is not exclusively religious in nature.

        This is a good idea though.

    2. Temperance*

      My company does occasional charity jeans days based on requests. Our vetting process is pretty lax, though – you email the COO, who decides whether it’s a worthy, non-political, non-personal cause. And even then, you might get denied.

      (I have a coworker who is trying to raise money to send her schizophrenic son to a rehab camp thing out of state, and she was denied, which I think makes sense. I just requested one for nonprofit legal services orgs, and it was granted. I also have one scheduled to raise money to buy holiday gifts for foster kids.)

    3. Gaia*


      My company gives a lot to charity (both in dollars and paid volunteer time for employees). This is an important part of our company culture. But we are incredibly careful about new charities and look at them closely before supporting them. We take a stance of “could a reasonable person be offended by all or part of their mission.” If the answer is yes, we just can’t support them. We don’t want our charitable efforts to alienate employees or customers.

    4. justsomeone*

      Yes, this is really important. I handle the charitable giving for my organization and while we don’t have a ton of parameters, we do have them. I vet every opportunity and ensure that it’s something that we’re comfortable tying our company name to. If it’s something that could offend, we don’t move forward with the partnership. We try also to be sensitive to current events.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      This is a good idea. And definitely if they choose to support it, they should be as transparent as possible about what charity it is so people considering a donation can look it up. I would be livid if I donated and found out later that my money went to one of these types of organizations. We have charitable activities all year round at my work, including food trucks who come to us and donate part of their profits for the day, and I never do any of them without checking out the organization first.

      And if I found out a company were supporting a charity I have no interest in / avoid, I wouldn’t do business there either, so that may affect their bottom line if they’re not careful about vetting.

  7. CoffeeLover*

    A friend of mine who’s planning to have children in the near future is going to a Zika zone. She talked to her doctor about it and he said that she didn’t really need to be concerned since they can test for Zika before she decides to conceive. There were a lot more details in there, which I can’t remember (stuff like how long it could be in her system, treatments if she did get it, etc.). I guess I’m just saying it’s worth looking into how much of a concern Zika really is. I haven’t done the research myself, but from what she told me, it’s nbd as long as you get tested.

    1. Artemesia*

      no one knows for sure how long it lingers or if she could pass it to her husband. the effects are catastrophic. if I were planning a family I would not mess with this. she tests positive then what? no one knows for sure when it is then safe.

      1. Dweali*

        that and they just had a case here in the states where patient 1 passed the virus to patient 2 through either tears or sweat…so not only do they not know the exact effects but they don’t even know yet all the different ways it could be spread

    2. Colette*

      This is the kind of thing that’s really individual. Someone who is 23 may assess the risk differently than someone who is 39; someone who is actively trying to conceive may asses it differently than someone who thinks they want kids in a year or two.

    3. Sally Stitches*

      That’s not what my doctor said. I had been planning (for a while) to go off birth control just prior tona trip, and then Zika happened and my doctor ordered me to stay on birth control another month because it wasn’t worth the risk. And even then to make sure I was symptom free for 30 days before trying.

    4. BananaPants*

      In my OBGYN’s office is a huge sign with, “Please tell your doctor IMMEDIATELY if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and have travel plans.” It’s because of Zika. We may be trying for another baby in the next 6 months and my doctor told me that ideally neither of us should go to an area where Zika is present. If we had to, we needed to both be tested before trying to conceive – and if either of us was positive we’d need to wait at least a couple of months to be on the safe side.

      The potential of a baby with microcephaly and other birth defects is not “NBD” in my book, but that’s just my view…

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        The odds of contracting Zika from a trip to a country infected with Zika are really low, and there are tests that can tell if you were infected, and those tests can also tell when you are free from Zika and thus safe to conceive. With proper precautions, the odds are infinitesimal that there would be any effect, other than not trying to conceive for a month or two.

        1. the_scientist*

          It’s important to remember that tests are not always 100% accurate. Based on a quick browse of the literature (sorry, I’m an epidemiologist so I have to) there are two different tests, a DNA test that must be performed within a week of symptom onset and an antibody test that can be performed later; 4 or more days after symptom onset. The antibody test can be difficult to interpret, though, and there is limited information about the accuracy of this test in asymptomatic people. Specifically, the CDC says that a negative serologic test result obtained 2-12 weeks after travel *cannot definitively rule out* Zika infection.

          The good news is that the risk of infection is really quite low unless you’re travelling to hotspots…and if you do get infected, there isn’t currently any evidence that future pregnancies will be at risk (as long as you wait for the infection to clear before conception, which for men is at least 6 months). So yes, the risk is fairly low overall, but it’s not quite as cut-and-dried as “the test is negative, so you’re all good!”.

          1. SouthernLadybug*

            Yay for public health in the house! Hi – not epi – health behavior and policy change. I love my epi friends who help me :)

        2. Koko*

          The formula for risk evaluation is (odds of event happening) * (severity of event consequences). The formula for risk management also involves (difficulty of preventing event).

          Even if the odds of anything happening are very low, “1 in a million odds” are no comfort to the parents who are the 1 in a million, especially when there was an easy way to have prevented it. And for many families even the scenario of waiting six months for it to clear the man’s system might not be NBD. For instance if they struggled to conceive their first child and want the second one to be close in age to the first, or if the woman is getting closer to menopause. A six month delay in family planning is a big deal for them.

          1. KellyK*

            Very true. You’re not even considered to have fertility issues until you try for a year without conceiving, so a six-month delay might be a big deal for someone who has fertility issues, or risk factors.

          2. A Non E. Mouse*

            Even if the odds of anything happening are very low, “1 in a million odds” are no comfort to the parents who are the 1 in a million, especially when there was an easy way to have prevented it.

            Exactly, it sounds like a small risk until it’s *your* potential child suffering the consequences.

            Pregnancy (getting that way, staying that way, and getting to the finish line successfully) is terrifying enough without adding Zika concerns on top of it, especially when it’s really easy to avoid actions that expose you to it.

        3. CoveredInBees*

          In addition to what the_scientist said, some women end up waiting months for their results because labs aren’t well-equipped to test for it. Particularly in the numbers that are getting tested.

    5. SouthernLadybug*

      And I know of people who have traveled/their husbands traveled to places where Zika is present. They are actively wanting to become pregnant/be fathers. The window for testing is very small – and they were unable to access any tests. The doctors couldn’t get any. And I also personally wonder about insurance coverage depending on the circumstances. Which would be a financial barrier assuming a test could be accessed in the appropriate time frame.

    6. Is It Performance Art*

      I think that one of the things that gets lost in the whole “women of childbearing age who might be considering getting pregnant soon shouldn’t go anywhere where they have active Zika transmission” is that different women have different tolerance for different risks. Some women will agree with the recommendation, some will agree or disagree based on the risk of that particular location and others will still go but stay away from mosquitoes and wear a lot of bug spray. Taking this risks isn’t inherently irresponsible or wrong. I tend to be willing to accept risks that are equivalent to or lower than the risk of dying in a car crash, for example. When it comes to the workplace, you do have to be able accommodate people with that lower risk tolerance, especially when it’s focused on something that can be quite deavastating or has been heavily reported in the news.

      1. Anon for this*

        I’m the “anon for this” below. The problem is the tremendous guilt put on people. Even if I vehemently disagree with my doc and agree with my family friend, I don’t want to deal with the tsk tsking that we are awful parents before our child is even conceived.

      2. Bwmn*

        This is the most important piece. The risks people are willing to take on in the name of work – especially in the realm of “unintended risks” is very critical.

        Now if the OP said that she was working for a humanitarian organization that was giving technical support to countries in Central/South America – then the risks of traveling to that part of the world would illicit a different response. But if going to the Dominican Republic specifically is seen as a perk for a retreat or another non-essential business activity – then it’s a very different situation. Some jobs do have more of an expectation of risk taking than others. However, as someone who works for an international humanitarian organization – we also have a number of support staff who have all reason in the world to assume they will never be asked to travel outside the country. And so if one of them had reservations around travel due to risk, that too would be different than other positions.

    7. Anon for this*

      I struggle so hard with all of this. I have close family friends that are practically family that have a home in Mexico in an area that doesn’t have any Zika in that region. They were pretty offended that we weren’t going to their home this year because of TTC. I’m also not visiting my bff in Florida. At the same time, I get that there are plenty of people that live in those locations that just have to take the risks or not conceive. I know my chance of being patient zero are slim. I agree that the medical community is overreacting a bit. But I just have such a hard time knowingly taking the risk. If I had to travel for work, I probably would go, stay inside, wear long sleeves, all that stuff. But that’s if I had to travel for a deposition or a trial. I wouldn’t travel for a rah rah retreat. But, I’ve also been TTC for 9 months now and I know I can’t keep avoiding vast swatches of the world forever.

      My family friends said that saying “Mexico has Zika” is like saying “Southern US has Zika.” There are places that do and places that don’t. In their opinion, if we would travel to southern states other than Florida then it is the same thing as going to their part of Texas.

      1. Anon for this*

        To make matters worse, their children, who are our best friends, went there while TTC and actually conceived on the trip. So I can’t explain why it is so bad to go without making our best friends, their kids, look bad.

        1. Anion*

          It’s not up to them to judge your reasons, though, and honestly, I’m sure you love them and they’re good people, but they’re being kind of jerks about this. You have a reasonable fear; who are they to say it’s wrong? I don’t allow my children to visit homes where certain dog breeds are present, and I don’t care if people think that’s silly–I know the risks, and they can be catastrophic, and I’m not taking a chance that my kid is the one in X,000.

          If it helps, though, can you come up with another reason? Maybe TTC soon & worried about risks isn’t “good enough,” but TTC soon & trying to save vacation time or money is? Blame it on some kooky new work policy about vacations (you can always say later that they scrapped the “unpopular” policy), or you’re having some kind of work done on your home that can’t be rescheduled and requires your vacation time (something like plumbing repairs so they won’t ask for pictures of the results) or whatever. I don’t know your financial situation (and I’m not asking, of course) but for us travel is extremely difficult to afford–as in, we can’t afford it–and if we were trying to plan some, the smallest disaster with car repair or house repair or something would force us to cancel it, so maybe there’s something there?

          Either way, again, you’re not wrong to decide the risk isn’t one you want to take, and it’s kind of lousy of them to try to guilt you into taking it. This isn’t not wanting to ride a rollercoaster and having your friends reassure you that it’s safe, this is taking a chance with your future child’s life. Those aren’t dice I’ll roll.

          I hope that helps.

          1. Anon for this*

            Thanks. It does help that the vast majority of people that discuss this on the internet say hard no to going to Zika areas. I know I’m not being unreasonable and they are. I’ve just been deflecting. It also sucks because you don’t want to signal to the world you are TTC. Telling close family friends is one thing. Telling your boss, in OPs case is another. Also, in my above post, my last line that says Texas should say Mexico but I think you got it either way. :)

      2. OP #5*

        Definitely struggling with a lot of these same issues. It seems to me there isn’t sufficient information out there about the exact regions/areas that have or don’t have Zika (or at least I haven’t been able to find it). And it’s difficult to know what information is reliable and what isn’t.

        Also agree with your comment of being judged/guilted for going or not going. It’s partly about what my husband and I are comfortable with but we also have to account for how our mothers/families will react.

      3. (Another) B*

        I had to google TTC – I had no idea what you were all talking about. I thought it was another disease! Haha

  8. ..Kat..*

    As several people have said, Zika concerns are not just for women. A man who contracts Zika can infect his female sexual partners. HR should approach it from this angle. It is dangerous for men and women to contract Zika. It can result in serious birth defects. To willfully go to a country where Zika is a problem opens the company up to lawsuits for any child born with brain defects from the Zika virus related to this trip. Even if the company doesn’t care about the moral implications of microcephaly, they should care about the monetary implications of insisting on a trip to a Zika infested country. Given that there are plenty of nice places to take a trip, why would the company want a trip to a country where Zika is a problem?

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      But there are risks inherent to every place. Zika’s not even the biggest risk in places with Zika. It’s just the new scary risk.

      1. Jubilance*

        That’s really dismissive of people’s concerns. Have you seen the photos, videos and stories of families who have children with microcephaly? It’s a horrible disease and one that I wouldn’t want to risk my child having, especially if it was as simple as avoiding a location with active Zika transmissions.

        It might be just another risk to you, but don’t discount that Zika transmission is a real risk to a lot of people.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Yes, I have seen the photos, videos, and stories. I’ve also seen them for any number of other diseases, accidents, and risks. I educate myself on the risks and form my opinion on those risks.

          I am way more scared of bad drivers, gun violence, heart disease, addiction, and cancer than I am of Zika. I’m not trying to be dismissive and find it odd that you think I was.

          1. Jubilance*

            You said “But there are risks inherent to every place. Zika’s not even the biggest risk in places with Zika. It’s just the new scary risk.”

            To me that reads as “it’s silly to worry about Zika, there are bigger things to worry about” especially given your other comments on this post.

            My point is that for some people Zika IS their biggest worry – just because you’ve prioritized something else doesn’t mean they should.

            I find it odd that you think everyone else should think like you instead of being compassionate to the letter writer who clearly is worried about Zika.

            1. Trout 'Waver*

              I acknowledged it was a scary new risk. You’re reading something into what I’m posting that isn’t there. I am not calling anyone silly. Please don’t put those words in my mouth.

              Also, I don’t think everyone else should think like me and I very strongly disagree with your assessment that I’m not compassionate.

      2. Mephyle*

        It’s reasonable to judge a risk as “big” in a qualitative sense if it has a small probability percentage, but serious, life-long consequences.

      3. Colette*

        Does it negate all the other risks? Of course not. So it is adding to the cumulative risk of going, and it is, at this point, a risk that’s not fully understood.

      4. SimontheGreyWarden*

        But it’s the risk OP is concerned about, so why be dismissive of it? The plane could crash before she gets to the Dominican Republic which would certainly mean no fear of Zika, but she didn’t write in with a concern about flying so that’s why it isn’t at issue here!

    2. Foxtrot*

      I’m not a doctor, but doesn’t Zika spread through mosquito bites? If I got infected in the Dominican Republic and then bitten again when I got home, couldn’t it travel through my own community?

      1. Trout 'Waver*

        It depends on where you live. If you live in a country that generally doesn’t have AC and has high population density and contact with mosquitoes, then yes. If you live in a Western-stryle country where people are inside with AC and have good public health services, then the risk is very low. You also have to be somewhere with a large population of the specific mosquito that can spread Zika. In Western countries, the major form of transmission is from men who acquired Zika from mosquitos in countries with Zika to their sexual partners.

          1. KWalmostB*

            Only the tiger mosquito (Aedes aegypti), which is also responsible for dengue fever and Chikungunya, transmits Zika.

      2. Artemesia*

        depends on type of mosquito — some parts of the US will end up with it being endemic as travelers bring it back.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          The reports I’ve seen indicate that because we pretty all have AC and stay inside all summer, there is a very low risk of Zika becoming endemic in the US.

      3. Kate*

        Yes, but it is also transmitted sexually and through sweat/tears (which is a really recent discovery). Zika can cause microcephaly in fetuses. Even if the infant is born without microcephaly, zika can still cause developmental issues. Not to mention that for most adults who contract Zika, it is no big deal, but some do end up with really serious permanent illnesses/conditions.

    3. OP #5*

      You bring up a good point. Does anyone know if it’s true that the company would be subject to legal issues if someone did contract Zika on the trip?

      1. Joseph*

        I seriously doubt it. You can file a lawsuit for absolutely anything, of course, but it’s unlikely to be successful.
        1.) It’s an optional incentive vacation – not mandatory. You had the choice to go and opted to go. So even if there could be blame, you share in that blame. This alone is probably enough to kill any lawsuit.
        2.) The area of the DR you’ll be visiting is not an active hotspot. The fact the country as a whole has issues with Zika is not really relevant.
        3.) Legal issues generally require a clear harm. Remember that Zika is mild for adults, so it would need some more significant harm (e.g., microencephalopy in pregnancy) to show enough harm to justify a lawsuit.
        4.) Relatedly, you would need to show that the company’s actions actually created the situation. If you win a free trip from a game show and get sick on the trip, do you sue the game show? Of course not.

  9. Feo Takahari*

    I tried to reverse #2 in my head and consider whether it would be appropriate for a company to support Planned Parenthood. The biggest difference is that it’s not “high-pressure”–Planned Parenthood lays out options that include abortion, but as an organization, it doesn’t specifically push abortion or lie about the risks of abortion. Is that enough of a distinction to make supporting Planned Parenthood okay, or is more needed?

    1. Evie*

      Planned parenthood – if they’re the ones I’m thinking about (and I could be wrong because I’m not in the US) also provide a variety of non abortion related health services like concraception related stuff, STD checks and Pap smears where as “pregnancy crisis centers” have no other benefit or service other than propaganda – a lot of which is lie filled, up to and including lying about medical information eg gestational age of the fetus. But yeah many if not most people who are anti abortion would probably only see the abortion side of kings.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yeah, there are some of these centers that–one’s own position on abortion aside–just don’t actually do anything. They say they offer support to the pregnant woman, but don’t actually help her once she has decided to carry to term, and often don’t even know what to do with an unusual situation. There was a blog writer who went undercover to one of these and they tried to talk her into carrying to term even though they thought her pregnancy was ectopic, not even out of callousness or super strict belief, but because they couldn’t figure out how to deviate from their script.

        (IIRC, what had happened was she took the pee test with someone else’s urine, so she showed up as pregnant but there was nothing on the ultrasound, thus why ectopic was suspected.)

      2. CMT*

        Yep! When I was just out of college and didn’t have health insurance, Planned Parenthood is the only place I got any healthcare services.

    2. OP2*

      To be fair, this place does place children for adoption, and provide financial support to women who are placing their children for adoption, they just profit from it.

      As much as I personally support Planned Parenthood, I would understand if my company chose not to do so with these employee raised funds. There are plenty of other charities.

      1. eplawyer*

        Exactly. There are lots of charities to support that don’t get anywhere near this hot button issue. As noted above, perhaps an overall guideline of what charities are supported would be a good plan. Or even maybe focus areas like homelessness or hunger. That way you can develop a list of non-controversial charities to support.

        1. Chinook*

          “There are lots of charities to support that don’t get anywhere near this hot button issue.”

          Thank you for this distinction. There are so many great charities out there that support women’s health that don’t touch on abortion that I can’t think why they can’t be supported in the place of Planned Parenthood if the true purpose of the fundraising is to improve women’s health.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        If they are profiting from the adoptions, I wonder how they’re non-profit or a charity. They sound like a business whose product is adoptions for rich parents.

        1. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          My thoughts exactly. Obviously charities make profits, since that is how they continue, but profiting directly off the services seems to negate the “charity” aspect of this organization. If they used charitable funds to help with adoption and didn’t charge the birth mothers OR adoptive parents that would be different. But charging excessive fees to adoptive parents seems like an agency not a charity

          1. Temperance*

            I also think that their homophobic stance, as well as their CPC status, makes them far too controversial for a work charity.

        2. Temperance*

          I think the vast majority of adoption agencies are non-profits, even though they bring in $$$. There are many nonprofits who bring in hella cash.

        3. Meg Murry*

          I’m guessing they make money off of the families that can afford to pay it, and then either use that money to subsidize families that can’t, or to fund their other activities and programs (activism, perhaps medical care for the birth mothers, etc). It’s technically ok for a charity to profit off of one activity (to a certain extent) if they turn around and spend the profits on other programming and expenses for their cause. Whether you agree with the way this company does it or not, it may technically be allowed.

          Any way you look at it though, the I think OP is right in that religion, adoption and abortion issues are potentially divisive and controversial and that the powers that be should at least know what they are supporting before agreeing to back Charity ABC.

          1. Koko*

            A similar example is the adoption fee you pay at an animal shelter. The adoption fee is not exactly pegged to the cost of servicing that one adoption. For a healthy dog that’s already been spayed/neutered and microchipped, the $300 adoption fee is probably more than the shelter spent on the animal, but they don’t discount it. For a very sick animal that needed a lot of rehab, or a puppy that needed to be fixed and also to have all their first-round vaccines, their care is subsidized by the profit from adopting out the healthier animals.

            Most places have lesser adoption fees for cats because there are too many free stray cats in the world for the market to bear a $300 cat adoption fee, so it’s usually something like $100 or $150, and one or two months a year the shelter will run a special where they waive cat adoption fees all month long to move some bodies. Those free cat adoptions are also subsidized by the $300 dog adoption fees.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              I’m thinking of my local county shelter’s adoption fees. The last time I looked, kittens were like $125, adult cats $40 (or much less for older cats), dogs were like $100 and puppies maybe $150-$175.

              With all vaccines, microchipped, spay/neuter, health exam, deworming, etc etc.

                1. Anna*

                  One of the reasons shelters do that is to encourage people to adopt older animals. They know that puppies and kittens are more of a draw, but they have loads of older animals who have been given up or whatever and want them to be adopted. Lower fees are a way to encourage that.

                2. Natalie*

                  @ Anna, and for those that just can’t be dissuaded from a kitten or puppy, the shelter knows the market will bear a much higher price that can then support their other animals.

      3. Gaia*

        Exactly. I personally am Pro Choice and support PP but I would be pretty upset if my company gave our charitable dollars to them. While most of my coworkers likely are also Pro Choice, I know of at least one that isn’t. Our charitable support of Planned Parenthood would be out of line with our mission to support charities without alienating employees.

      4. Lucky*

        Per OP, this charity pushes for adoption “with (exclusively) Christian families, and uses high pressure tactics to do so, including lying to and intentionally deceiving women” and the fees they charge are “one of their incentives to do anything they can to prevent women from aborting or raising the child themselves.” Plenty of people would find this controversial on its own, totally separate from the abortion issue.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        The vetting is important–the company would have to decide if it wants to be supportive, and of course it needs to be transparent so employees who don’t want their charitable contribution to go to PP or any other org could know.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      I think that while there is a difference between the legitimacy of Planned Parenthood and crisis pregnancy enters, Planned Parenthood still is too divisive by Alison’s metric.

    4. aebhel*

      Speaking as someone who’s very much pro-choice, I would probably hesitate to suggest supporting Planned Parenthood if I worked for a company that wasn’t specifically about that kind of political thing. It’s not because I think they’re morally equivalent to crisis pregnancy centers that lie to their patients (they’re REALLY not), but because it could be really divisive and uncomfortable for anti-abortion people to support a provider that offers abortion services.

      (although I guess most hospitals, at least around here, also offer abortion services, and that’s seen as much less controversial…. so IDK)

      1. Dot Warner*

        Yes, exactly. For a person who believes that abortion is murder, it doesn’t matter how many abortions PP does – one is too many.

        Side note: I’ve worked at hospitals for a number of years in very different parts of the country (PNW and Midwest) and never seen elective abortions done, only removal of ectopic pregnancies. Not saying that *no* hospitals do it, just seems rare.

        1. Eddie Turr*

          Heck, where I live, even Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide abortions. You have to go to very specific places — I think maybe three providers in the whole state.

        1. Oryx*

          Probably because it’s a D&C in a hospital setting so if you don’t know what that means, it just sounds like any kind of medical procedure.

          1. Anna*

            And it’s because of underlying medical issues or because of a miscarriage; not an elective situation.

            Providence hospitals (at least those in my region) do NOT do D&Cs, even in life-threatening situations. They send them to another (BIG NAME) hospital to have them done.

            1. Chinook*

              But do they not do D&C’s even in life threatening situations because they oppose them or because they happen so rarely that they don’t have the experienced staff to do them successfully? And how far is the big name hospital? A less than 30 minute ambulance ride to have an experience doctor perform a life threatening surgery is probably preferable to having an inexperienced doctor do it.

              1. Anna*

                Because they oppose them. Providence is a Catholic church affiliated health group (the Providence logo is a Christian cross next to the word Providence and a sunrise through the cross and the word). The hospital that will do them is not too far from any other hospital in the city.

        2. Fire*

          I live right by a hospital and I pass by those screaming a$$holes every morning on the way to work.

          1. (Another) B*

            One shoved her hand into my car when I was stopped at a light trying to give me a pamphlet. I yelled I’M PRO CHOICE AND I’M CALLING THE COPS! Then I rolled the window up on her arm. Get out of my car lady!!!?!

        3. J*

          There is actually a shockingly low number of physicians who are trained to provide them. It’s too controversial and hospitals won’t allow it and physicians won’t take it on.

          At this point, we’re facing the very real possibility that Roe v Wade won’t need to be overturned because abortion won’t be available for anyone by the wealthy by default. No one without means will be able to access it.

          I believe the US is now down to only a single digit number of physicians who can and do perform late term abortions. (Which are most often performed due to “conditions incompatible with life”.)

      2. JC*

        Yes. I am completely pro-choice and donate to Planned Parenthood personally, but I would find it completely inappropriate if my workplace wanted to donate to them.

    5. Long Time Lurker*

      Have actually sort of lived that a few years back.

      My husband coaches a girls’ sport at a Catholic high school. He created a team “service project” which is a huge tournament with all proceeds going to breast cancer research. The original plan was to donate to Susan G Komen.

      Some of the more conservative Catholics in the school were upset about Komen’s (supposed?) ties to Planned Parenthood. Since that fight wasn’t the point, the money goes to the American Cancer Society instead.

      1. aeldest*

        Probably for the best anyway, since Susan G Komen is a pretty useless (maybe even harmful) organization.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Funnily enough, I’m a huge PP supporter and I hate Komen for totally unrelated reasons anyway (mismanagement of donation money, overzealous legal attacks on small charities, pushing products *that contain carcinogens* ffs). Common ground, I guess?

    6. sarah*

      I am a huge supporter of Planned Parenthood, but I can still see why a workplace trying to remain “neutral” would not want to go out on a limb and donate to them. There are so many worth causes out there, why would they want to risk upsetting clients, donors, etc. to support this specific politically controversial cause? (Note: I do think it’s ridiculous that PP is politically controversial, but the fact is that it is.)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        A good alternative is local organizations–ours does that sometimes, so it’s more community service than just random charity giving. Also, they make volunteer opportunities known to employees so if you want to donate time instead of money, you can do that as well.

    7. Eddie Turr*

      I would still describe Planned Parenthood as “controversial” in this context, even though I think that controversy is based primarily on misunderstanding of what PP actually does. I think PP deserves my donation and crisis pregnancy centers don’t, but I would still probably choose a different nonprofit for an office fundraiser.

    8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think folks are conflating Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit women’s healthcare service provider, with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the 501(c)(4) lobbying organization. I just wanted to flag that there’s a distinction and that while they’re painted with the same brush, they’re distinct entities with distinct operations and missions.

  10. :-D*

    For #2, who is the OP saying that suggested wording to? Is this something where you would start with HR, or is OP trying with their boss first?

    1. Allypopx*

      I think it’s appropriate wording to bring to whoever typically makes those decisions, or OP’s direct manager depending on the type of relationship they have how the dynamics work at that particular company.

      1. OP2*

        In this case my manager would have no idea… I was debating if I should talk to the head of the committee, or HR.

  11. Hush42*

    OP 4- My boss said something similar to me this past spring- that we could talk about another raise in the summer. Don’t be afraid to bring it up just be prepared like Alison said with what range you’re thinking about. I was so nervous it took me until the end of summer to bring it up and I had no idea what to ask for- definitely NOT the best method.

    1. OP4*

      I just sent a “friendly” reminder to my boss and she said she is working on it and will follow up with me by the endnote of the month… fingers crossed. But I’m not sure if there is room for negotiation or in your experience it is a take it or not situation?

  12. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    #5 – Geez, I wouldn’t even want to go if Zika wasn’t a concern. All-inclusive resorts (which this probably is) are really destructive to developing countries, who see very little of the economic benefit but get to shoulder all the environmental destruction, not to mention losing access to their beaches.

    I know, I know, I’m preachy. But OP – can you maybe recommend an alternative? Like a ski lodge somewhere in the US? Or something in Hawaii? Bermuda? Montreal (so pretty this time of year!)?

      1. Chinook*

        Think Banff, Alberta, for fall or spring. They actually have some really nice conference set ups at different price points. And, if your boss is insisting on somewhere with water, there is an amazing hot spring that allows you to enter the water from inside the change room, so you don’t have to walk around in your swimsuit outside the pool if you don’t want to.

    1. esra (also a Canadian)*

      Seconding all of this. Especially Montreal. Come to Canada! Eat our cheese! Spend your precious American dollars!

    2. OP #5*

      Although I’d love to go to Montreal, the trip is in Jan/Feb and I think my boss is dead set on beaches. That said, HR has been asking me for alternate location ideas so I’m very open to suggestions!

      1. Rookie Biz Chick*

        Someone said this upthread and I agree – it shouldn’t be on you to now initiate a round of alternative locations because you rightly spoke up about the issue of Zika. Send this back to the party planning committee to work on!

        (Though, I’d be down with Montreal in the winter!)

        1. Anna*

          Seriously. I feel like the OP would be hearing “We’d have gone to the Dominican Republic, but OP#5 was worried about Zika and she chose *insert another place that people might think is less fun*.”

        2. a different Vicki*

          Montreal is wonderful, but not everyone has winter clothing that’s good for -30 windchill, which is moderately likely that time of year.

  13. Charlotte, not NC*

    Rubbernecking the clock is so frustrating. When a company claims to emphasize values like goal-based performance and flexible scheduling, parroting back expectations based on time undermines their message.

    I work an offset schedule to access specific vendors in another time zone, so I often get jokey “leaving early again?” comments from people who don’t come in until 9:00. I just smile and say “It may be early for you, but I’ve been here since 6:00 this morning!”

    1. Murphy*

      Yeah, someone said “nice!” to me when they saw me leave at 3:30 and I was like “I’ve been here since 7…”

    2. Bad Candidate*

      I get this all the time too since I start at 7:00 and leave at 3:30 and am not allowed to do overtime. (not that I want to)

    3. DoDah*

      This—I support Finland so my day starts at 3:30 AM. Unfortunately , my project load never lets up so I am never “done”. My VP knows that (as he is the reason) and cares not a bit. I usually work till about 5:30 and then 7 or 8 hours on the weekends.

      I cannot find another job fast enough.

  14. Iain Clarke*

    “You don’t work after five”.
    “You don’t pay after five”.

    Problem solved! More seriously, if you are doing your job properly, then this is not a big issue for you. It really depends on your level whether you should take some things off the owner’s plate or not.

    1. fposte*

      If she’s exempt, she’s paid for whenever, not until five. I was presuming if she’s non-exempt there’s a clear understanding that OT is approved and she’s not being asked to work illegally, but could be that you’re right and this is a bigger problem.

  15. Roscoe*

    #5 This one is tough for me. I understand your concerns. But, I know if I was told I had a trip to Dominican Republic coming up, and then it got squashed becasue of one person, I can’t say I’d be happy. I was just in Domincan this year. It was an area where Zika isn’t a problem. Plenty of married, child bearing age women went. Now, that was their choice, but so is this. And the whole telling your mother in law thing definitely isn’t something to bring up and to me that’s kind of a false argument, because just because its an uncomfortable conversation for you, it really has nothing to do with anything. I can respect you not wanting to go, but I think this may be more of a thing where you should just consider finding a reason you can’t, instead of trying to change the plans for everyone.

    1. Roscoe*

      To add to that, maybe you aren’t the only one with a concern, and if enough people share it, they would change it.

    2. LQ*

      I’m sort of the opposite, if someone managed to get a trip where I have to see all my coworkers in bathing suits and pretend to have fun while feeling deeply uncomfortable with the entire trip cancelled? I’d be over the moon!

      But your mother-in-law is only relevant to you and your husband, do NOT bring up at work.

    3. Sue Wilson*

      I would agree if this weren’t semi-mandatory because her boss would have feelings about it. Once you believe there might be blowback for not going on a trip, it becomes a problem where it needs to be possible for everyone to go.

      1. Roscoe*

        I don’t get the sense that it is semi mandatory, just that boss is excited about it. I’m guessing in a group of 20 people, there are going to be people who just can’t go that week.

        1. Sue Wilson*

          I’m worried he’ll hold it against me if I mess up his plans. If I don’t say something, I might be able to come up with a fake conflict and not attend, but my boss won’t be thrilled about that either.

          This is literally what the OP says. That suggests semi-mandatory to me.

          1. Roscoe*

            Well we can agree to disagree on that. Messing up his plans for the Dominican Republic reads, to me, that he is more excited about the location. Not that the trip itself, wherever it may be, is semi mandatory.

            1. OP #5*

              You’re right, it’s a little complicated. He generally is just excited about the trip itself and I think is working hard to ensure everyone can attend. Since my original post, there was already an email that went out asking the team to confirm date conflicts, so it would be tricky to come up with a schedule-related excuse to back out.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      But it doesn’t sound like the options are (a) Dominican Republic or (b) no trip at all. Would you still be unhappy if the trip was simply moved someplace else?

      1. Roscoe*

        It depends where it was moved honestly. If you changed from a tropical location to like a ski getaway, then yes.

      2. Kore*

        I would be, yeah. I’d love to see the Dominican Republic. If they moved it from the Dominican Republic to another place in the Caribbean with a lower Zika risk, then I’d probably be OK with that. But if someone told me “you’re going to the Dominican Republic” and then said “just kidding, we’re going to a ski resort” I would probably be pretty unhappy.

        1. AMPG*

          Well, as someone said upthread, going to an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic isn’t the same as “seeing” the country. All-inclusives are designed to keep tourists away from the locals. Substituting it for an all-inclusive in another country wouldn’t really change the experience.

    5. Kore*

      As a woman that is of child-bearing age I would be very upset if I was told we would be going to the Dominican Republic and then they went “just kidding, we’re going to another place.” It’s tricky, because while they should have probably considered this in advance, moving it seems like a bad move.

  16. Sunshine Brite*

    They’re also finding correlation among adults with Zika and dementia-like symptoms. It’s really something that could affect anyone.

    1. Lanon*

      Really though, Zika just sounds all around awful to be anywhere near.

      Doesn’t help that its probably an all inclusive resort economically draining the local population, too.

    2. Ineloquent*

      Does anyone know how Zika affects infants (that weren’t exposed during pregnancy)? I would assume it could also be catastrophic, but I haven’t heard anything.

  17. Allypopx*

    #3 – Personally I’d leave out “I was mortified to learn…” you don’t want to make it about you or make the employee feel guilty for putting in the extra effort. I’d say everything else, just make the focus reinforcing the culture and the value it places on employees prioritizing themselves when necessary.

    1. Alton*

      I agree. In this case, it sounds like the employee might have benefited from leaving early to grieve. But I think it would be good for the OP to focus on reinforcing having a culture where people feel comfortable leaving early in these circumstances if they feel the need to, without making it an expectation. People grieve differently, and some people would be more comfortable staying at work and keeping busy. And some people aren’t very comfortable sharing this stuff no matter how compassionate their boss is.

      The key concern here is that the employee may have felt guilty or worried about leaving early, or that they were prioritizing work over their own grieving process. If the employee stayed because they felt like it would be better for them to stick to their routine, that should be respected, too. And it’s possible the employee didn’t even know what they wanted to do, or that their feelings changed over the course of the night.

      1. LBK*

        I don’t see anything in Alison’s answer that suggests forcing the employee to leave in the event of an emergency or otherwise controlling how they react to a situation – just making it clear the door is wide open for her to do so if she needs it, and that she shouldn’t feel guilty about asking if the situation ever arises again. That doesn’t preclude her from deciding of her own volition that she wants to just stay and focus on work.

    2. LBK*

      I just read that as emphasizing that the OP absolutely 100% does not expect the employee to stay in situations like that, not about making the employee feel guilty. I think when you’re laying out expectations like this you want to use really strong language to make it clear that you’re being genuine, because I think there are some managers who say things like this after the fact to look good but the subtext is that they really don’t want you to leave if you have an emergency. It’s like when your manager says something is optional to give the appearance of choice but you can tell they’re expecting you to do it.

      1. Allypopx*

        Totally I get that’s the intention, but if it was said to me I think I would take it almost as a personal attack, like I had done something wrong. Especially if I was already one edge. I think I just don’t like the word “mortified.” Maybe “I’m concerned that you didn’t think you could ask to go home. It’s incredibly important to us that you’re taking care of yourself, especially when serious stuff is going on in your personal life. I’d never ask you to stick around if I knew it was causing you that kind of strain.” Hitting home the importance without making it a personal reaction to what happened. Tone can play into that a lot too.

        But again, personal preference, personal management style.

        1. LBK*

          Ha, and I personally read “I’m concerned” as expressing more disappointment or criticism than I’d want to portray in this situation :) To each their own!

          I think you’re right that a big part of it is your tone when you say it. I’d say it’s also about your existing relationship with the employee (ie if they already know and trust you well enough to understand your message without overanalyzing word choice) and whether the company culture genuinely aligns with what you’re saying. If those three things are in place, word choice matters a lot less.

          1. Allypopx*

            Haha I see what you mean. I was thinking more a warm “I’m concerned about you” rather than a stern “I have concerns about your behavior” but so much is subjective! And relationship is super important. Point well taken.

        2. lazuli*

          Yeah, I’d definitely phrase it something like, “Please know that you can do whatever you need to take care of yourself. If working helps, that’s fine, but it’s also completely fine if you need to take the rest of the day off, too. We’ll support you doing what you need to do.”

        1. LBK*

          Also a good point – I don’t know if I’d take that approach in a situation where the employee is somewhat emotionally fragile right now, but my boss will occasionally (lightheartedly) yell at me to go home if I’m working too late. It can be a good way to communicate that not only is this not expected, but that you actively expect them to do the opposite.

        2. lazuli*

          The problem is that the employee’s grieving right now, and there are also all sorts of cultural messages about how to grieve “correctly” that often get in the way of grieving at all. Pressure from one’s supervisor about how to grieve or how much time to take off can be counterproductive to the message of “We care about you.”

          1. Grayson*

            I had this exact thought. Everyone grieves differently, and by assuming that someone is grieving improperly you’re doing a disservice to them. Perhaps the individual needed the sharp focus that work provided to distract them from that grief?

        3. Koko*

          It’s a hard needle to thread as a manager. One of my employees took forever to break her habit of constantly asking me my preference every time I gave her a set of options. She just really wanted to do the “right thing” and wasn’t used to an environment where she could choose the option that worked best for her and not worry that it was secretly the option I disapprove of.

          She’s the type who would work herself to . I have to make more of a point to monitor her workload and explicitly say things like, “Do you think you’d have time to do this by Friday without working late?” when for other employees I would just say, “Do you think you have time to get this done by Friday?” I have to be more clear that I don’t want her to *have* to work late, because plenty of people (including myself) routinely DO work late.

          My philosophy is you owe me 40 hours a week on your core projects most weeks, and a few weeks a year it might take more. The rest of the year, you should only be working late on passion projects, learning new skills, things that you chose because you wanted to do the work. Not because I gave you more work than you could do in your core 40.

  18. Tuckerman*

    #5 I’m curious, because this is a work trip, does traveling to a country with Zika transmission open the company up to any liability? If a staff member got Zika, became pregnant, and her child was born with microcephaly, would the company face any consequences? I think OP is smart to voice concern. I traveled to Puerto Rico last March and it was pretty much impossible to avoid mosquito bites, even staying in an apartment with screens on windows and using bug repellant.

    1. pugsnbourbon*

      This is interesting, and it came up at my workplace. Earlier this year we decided to forgo a massive, years-long project involving multiple trips to Brazil. I wasn’t directly involved in the decision-making, but I know our legal counsel advised us that there was indeed risk of such liability. Not sure what precedent this was based on, and IANAL.

    2. fposte*

      Conversely, there was just a post on Reddit about a pregnant woman who was fired for refusing to travel to an area with Zika :-(.

    3. Meg Murry*

      At a minimum, if the company is self-insured for health insurance, this could be a financial concern. A high risk pregnancy for a Zika infected mother plus medical care for a baby with microencephaly would be an extremely high medical cost.

      Now, obviously, the company can’t wrap it’s employees in bubble wrap or ban all personal travel to Zika infected areas, so there will always be risk involved, but this does seem to be taking a potential unnecessary risk at the company’s expense.

    4. chumpwithadegree*

      Depending on the state of employment, yes. For California employees, any work travel means you are covered under workers’ compensation as soon as you leave your house, for the entire span of the trip, even if you are doing non-work related things. So a Zika infection would then be the responsibility of the employer, along with any continuing problems, such as a miscarriage, abortion or dementia. That can end up being very costly.

  19. ExceptionToTheRule*

    #3 – please don’t assume the employee wanted to go home. Certainly, let her understand that you’d have been okay with it, but plenty of people prefer to work in situations like that to keep their minds occupied or because it’s a better alternative for them at that time.

    1. Allypopx*

      Very good point. I lost two grandparents in one summer at my first job out of high school and they repeatedly tried to get me to take time off, but I ended up working overtime instead. I really just wanted to throw myself into something. A lot of people operate that way.

      That said, the employee did tell the OP she’d “been just trying to hold it together to get through today” so I can see why the OP might be assuming that staying was a hardship for her.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        It could be, too, that the OP’s employee thought she could handle it but then couldn’t. Also been there! The OP definitely should reiterate to her that she should feel comfortable going to her if something like that happens.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      I was coming to comment something similar, as this tends to be how I operate as well. There was probably nothing for her to do at that point. If she knew it was coming, she probably already said her goodbyes. Likely, her cousin’s parents, siblings, and/or spouse (if he/she had one) would be handling the immediate arrangements. Etc.

      My grandmother – with whom I was very close – died on New Years’ Eve this past year. My grandfather was a veteran and is buried at a nearby National Cemetery, and she was to be buried alongside him. Because of the holiday and the weekend, the funeral home couldn’t even plan the arrangements until Monday, so I went to work. The wake/funeral ended up being Wednesday/Thursday so I worked Tuesday and Wednesday morning as well, and then took the rest of the week off. I did consider going in Friday but I was physically and emotionally exhausted by that point. This wasn’t because I was pressured to come in – my boss was stunned that I didn’t take more time – but because I wanted to keep my mind occupied.

    3. LW3*

      Very much agreed! I too have stayed at work when a grandparent passed away because I was a bit in shock and needed the routine (but not til 11pm!). This is part of the reason I am stuck–wanting to make sure she knows leaving was a genuine option but not make her feel bad/uncomfortable/unappreciated for staying. But getting lots of good scripts to have a low-key chat when she’s back in the office after the funeral.

      1. Allypopx*

        Low-key chat is definitely the right approach. Also kudos to you for putting so much effort into making sure your employees are taken care of. Really. It sounds like you have a great environment.

      2. lazuli*

        Yes, good on you! And as another “dotted-line manager” who was recently in a similar situation, it helped to ask the manager who does deal with personnel and leave step in and tell the (also new) employee that yes, it was totally ok to go home. (Though I only asked her to step in because I knew she’d be supportive of that, too.) I think the employee wasn’t sure that I had the authority to ok him going home early. Your situation might be different, of course, but that might be another aspect of the situation, especially since your employee is new.

      3. Lily Rowan*

        I’ve not been in this exact situation, but I try to explicitly tell my staff, “I trust you to tell me what works best for you, and want you to know that I support your doing whatever.”

    4. Amadeo*

      Yes. I stayed at work when my father had his heart attack (my mother did call to tell me what had happened, and that he would be OK, so I didn’t need to rush to the hospital). I needed to think about something else, and I needed to stay in my routine to keep the pieces cobbled together.

      1. RF*

        Agreed. For me, when my grandparents died, and when a friend died, it was a question of go home and sit alone in my house being sad, or stay at work, focus on something else, and try to be productive. Staying at work seemed the healthier choice for me, personally at that time.
        When my mother died I felt differently and I missed almost a week of work between grief, family commitments and the funeral. I’m glad that I had the flexibility to chose either option.

  20. Sandy*

    I’m really of two minds on number five. On one hand, companies should really be taking into account employees preferences and considerations when planning these things, especially when the trip is supposed to be a perk and not a business need.

    On the other hand, between various health concerns, security concerns (including police violence, gun violence, and general unrest), timing concerns, and individual family circumstances, I’m not sure that there are a lot of great options for a company that wants to pursue this type of perk for its employees.

    It may come down to “I’m sorry that you don’t feel that you’ll be able to join the team on this particular trip”.

    1. LBK*

      Yeah, I agree – unless you have a small group that’s relatively homogenous when it comes to travel preferences, having a team trip as a perk seems like more trouble than it’s worth.

    2. neverjaunty*

      I dunno, this feels more like an overreaction or a dismissal: “Fine, if you don’t want to go on to this particular place, maybe we just won’t go ANYWHERE!”

      1. LBK*

        If they cancelled this particular trip because of the OP’s concerns that might come off a little petty, but I don’t think it’s bad advice for them to think twice about continuing to offer trips as a perk, unless they’ve done this before and received unanimous rave reviews and this is the first time someone’s raised concerns.

    3. Meg Murry*

      I agree with Sandy that you are never going to make everyone happy – however, I do think it’s valid for OP to say at this stage “if this is the chosen destination, I would opt out” or even “I very well might opt out”. Better to be honest about it now than to wait until it is planned and done to find out that 10 of the 20 employees would chose to opt out.

      Plus, if OP is willing to speak up now (as the person with the most perceived risk), others may rally behind her. Because unfortunately, I could totally see a clueless person saying “Well, Jane doesn’t have a problem with it, so why should you Joe/Sue/Pat ?” when in fact Jane is concerned.

      I’m willing to bet there are a lot of travel deals being offered in Zika infected or high Zika risk areas, because their overall tourism industry bookings are down. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a good idea for OP’s company to take advantage of those lower rates, at the potential expense of the comfort of their employees.

  21. Snazzy Hat*

    #3: The entire year I was at my last job, I felt as though I didn’t fit in and needed to do everything I possibly could to show I was a competent and dedicated worker. Even when I was obviously doing well, I believed it just wasn’t enough. The first time I called off work, I was in tears because I thought I was going to be fired for calling off. It took me a long time to realize that my supervisor was at least understanding. We had a meeting at my request where she reassured me it was her job to worry about things, so I just needed to do the work and not worry about it.

    Simply saying, “please take care of yourself, I won’t be upset at you” or something to that effect can make a huge difference on someone who has no idea there’s an employees-are-people-first policy (due to newness or some other divide; I think my culprit was being a temp, so I wasn’t a “real” employee no matter how much overtime I worked). This makes me think of the “y’all, is this normal?” questions we get in the open threads and short questions. Some people, myself included, are afraid to learn the hard way that our concerns might only be important to ourselves and no one else cares.

    By the way, allegedly my s.o.’s supervisor once assumed an employee attending his mother’s funeral would be back at work later in the day after the funeral was over. From what my s.o. tells me about the supervisor, he’s just completely unobservant & never admits mistakes, rather than being outright malicious. So the funeral comment was more “because that’s how people normally grieve the loss of a parent, right? by just going back to work?” and not “come back after the funeral or don’t bother coming in ever again”.

  22. LQ*

    Having a good structure around where you give money is important. Especially if it goes with the company stamp. (Which…I have a little judgey face around, but if you’ve decided to do that then you need to be thoughtful about that too.) What kind of values does your committee that selects the charities have? Putting some of those down and then selecting charities based on who is working in those areas will be really helpful. Just sort of going, let’s do the one that Sal likes this year quickly can create problems. But laying out the group’s values and then putting those into effect is important.

    Values to consider: Do the most good (effective altruism), local/geo location, specific population, tangible direct service, type of service (education, environment, health, etc), cash/noncash, etc. (This is just a small sample of some of the things to consider sort of sliders and where do you to be on them.)

  23. Temperance*

    LW #2: if it’s helpful to you, instead of thinking that you need to be okay with this organization because you work with other faith-based orgs, you can reframe your thinking.

    A church-affiliated soup kitchen presumably serves all who need assistance, right, even if it’s run by a particular denomination or group of nuns or whatever? That’s wonderful (and if it’s not the case, maybe you should rethink your involvement?) This organization does not do that, and discrimination is part of its mission.

    As a non-religious woman who is very pro-choice and supports the LGBT community, I would be very offended and angered if my company was running a donation program to benefit an organization with such a loathsome mission. Also, frankly …. I don’t think that a CPC whose mission is to sell babies to the wealthy is the kind of charity that needs support, whereas homeless shelters always, always, always need something.

    1. OP2*

      I definitely understand the difference! I don’t mind the Catholic food pantries we support, they are wonderful.

  24. Larina*

    OP #2, my husband recently did something similar to this at his work. There was an event the company was planning on participating in, and required fundraising to participate. He did some research, and discovered that one part of the organization that was hosting the event/receiving all the donations was very anti-LGBTQ. He was concerned, brought it to the person in management who had been really pushing for people to donate, and now they aren’t participating. To be fair, the company is very LGBTQ friendly. But even just bringing it up could make a lot of difference.

    1. Temperance*

      That’s really great! I recently ran into an issue where a woman at one of the shelters we work with said something very offensive (religious bigotry and transphobia) to one of our volunteers, and we’re considering pulling our support. I wish we had known that it was run by an ahole before we sent them even one thin dime.

    2. Jadelyn*

      My team talked about doing some volunteer work a year or so ago, and one of the orgs that was proposed was the Salvation Army (violently anti-LGBT, among other things). I was scared to speak up but did so anyway, and made it known that I would flat refuse to participate in anything that benefits that organization. Thankfully my grandboss (and, not coincidentally in this case, the only other openly LGBT person in our office) seconded my refusal, and we moved on to looking at other orgs without much fuss.

  25. Hotel GM Guy*

    Related to #2:

    My company is doing its annual charity drive now. While it’s a good charity to support, something feels off about asking people making between 18-24k a year who are on public assistance to donate to charity. My staff are paid above market, but there’s no good way to up their wages beyond this without upping our rates, which isn’t possible because the independents and franchises in the area can consistently undercut us, because they have a much lower labor cost. (They can hire illegal immigrants, and as I’m corporate and we do e-verify, I can’t. Which is a good thing overall, but it keeps our wages in the toilet).

    At the same time, it’s been made known that coming up with less than a certain dollar amount from my property is not an option.

    I think it’s disgusting, frankly. I have a high flowthrough for the year, just take some of that and donate it.

    1. misspiggy*

      It is disgusting. Could you let the higher ups know that you are reluctant to ask your lower paid staff to donate, while stating that you are still willing to deliver if it’s considered vital?

      1. Hotel GM Guy*

        Not really. If we were a smaller company, than perhaps, but in a company of 10,000 where the directive is coming from the CEO, who is 5 management levels above me? I don’t think I have much standing to let them know that it’s absurd.

  26. Marie*

    re #5, FWIW, men who have been exposed to Zika (which would include traveling to DR) are being advised to wait 6 months before trying to conceive (or having unprotected sex with women of childbearing age) so in theory this could be a concern for some men in the office as well (though they may not be realizing it.) Good luck, OP, this could be tough! Also, I think if HR tries to convince you it is safe to visit, it’s legit to say you are not comfortable doing so. People have different tolerance for risk and it’s ok for you to have a lower tolerance than others in matters like this.

    1. Roscoe*

      Agreed. I just don’t know that her being the most risk averse should mean that no one should be able to go.

      1. LBK*

        But on the flipside, I don’t think it’s any more fair that the person who’s least risk-averse gets to set the agenda. You’re still being preferential to one end of the spectrum by saying “Well Sally doesn’t care, so as long as she doesn’t mind going, that means it’s an acceptable destination.” Surely the easy compromise is to just pick another destination where there aren’t Zika concerns (and I understand that there are few areas where somebody won’t have some kind of concern, but I think an imminent and big-name health risk is slightly different than, say, a general fear of being pickpocketed any time you travel).

        1. Roscoe*

          Not saying that either. But if there are 20 people, and 18 of them are fine, 1 person is super excited, and one person is super wary, then I’d say its a majority thing. Now, I wouldn’t use this to same logic to say that skydiving should be the team building event because Jack is a thrill seeker. But in this instance, it really depends on what others think

          1. LBK*

            Makes sense – I suppose it’s all about where the average person places this particular event on the overall scale of risk/perceived risk.

          2. Heather*

            skydiving should be the team building event because Jack is a thrill seeker

            Now I kind of want to see someone write in with that problem ;)

      2. Natalie*

        It’s not like she’s brought this up out of nowhere, though. The company has asked for their staff’s input on going to this area. Why shouldn’t she give the requested input?

  27. Gertrude is Gertrude is Gertrude*

    #2, you could just go Nigel Hawthorne from “Yes, Minister” and tell them, “What a courageous decision!”

    But I think in real life, Alison is probably right… :)

  28. Allison*

    #1, didn’t we see a letter like this from the boss’s point of view? Where they were cranky that their employees, or maybe just one person, was leaving right at 5?

    It seems like some places view quitting time as a firm suggestion, as in, 5 is when you wind things down, let people know you’re heading out and make sure no one needs anything else from you, wish everyone a good night, and walk leisurely out the door around 5:15 or so. Other places view that time as a hard stop – as in, they want people to work up to that time, but aim to actually stop at 5 and they’re okay with people walking briskly out the door at 5:05 (factoring in the time it takes to shut down, grab coats, etc.). It’s usually unspoken which one it is, it’s up to you to figure out which camp your office is in.

    I second AAM’s comments to talk to your boss and make sure it isn’t actually a problem. If he says it was just a joke and there’s no real issue with your schedule, I may mention that the joke seemed inappropriate then.

  29. Hannah*

    #5 If you end up going, REI has some great sprays for clothes/body, creams, and other things that contain nearly 100% deet. I use this whenever I travel to South/Central America and have never had a problem with mosquitoes. Also, diseased mosquitoes can’t survive in elevations over 6500 ft. I’m not very familiar with DR’s landscape but if your company says that Zika isn’t transmitted where you’re going it might be true.

      1. Chocolate Coffeepot*

        I have to wonder whether plans have changed since Matthew rolled through? Haiti got the worst of it but there was flooding in the Dominican Republic as well. (And flooding brings more mosquitoes, so new areas could be affected.)

  30. Lester*

    #3: I’m not sure it’s a good idea to say you were “mortified” (from Latin meaning “put to death”) when you learned of the employee’s cousin’s death.

      1. Kelly L.*

        This. I’ve usually seen it used to mean “massively embarrassed.” “I was mortified when I realized I’d gone to the interview with TP on my shoe.”

      2. LBK*

        We do still use the root in English terms relating to death, eg “mortician”. But I highly doubt the employee is going to be offended even if she makes that link.

  31. Dust Bunny*

    I stayed at work the day my mother had heart surgery because a) if something went wrong, there wouldn’t be anything I could do about it, anyway, and b) while she wasn’t any higher risk than anyone else who needs heart surgery, I was nervous and, frankly, wanted to have to focus on something else. I got a good-natured but concerned scolding from my coworkers when my father called to tell me Mom was fine, but I intentionally didnt’ say anything ahead of time because I didn’t want to be sent home to stew.

  32. charisma*

    RE: #1

    I had a boss not too long ago (which is now a prior job, thankfully!) who would joke/make fun of me (usually in front of others) about working in the evenings and late at night. She never once recognized that my efforts were what was keeping the team afloat. Then, I got a terrible performance rating because projects had fallen apart (due to things outside of my control, like a contractor who did not report to me not getting her work done).

    Oh, memories …

    1. Rookie Biz Chick*

      Are you me?! Included in things outside my control in my case were the boss’s mircromanaging and bottlenecking traits which all but halted progress and decision-making. Those memories, indeed! At least I learned from the best about how not to be a boss.

  33. Not Today Satan*

    Ugh, my boss does the “joking-but-not-joking” thing about leaving at 5 and it drives me crazy. It’s extra annoying because the vast majority of people in my company leave right at 5 with me, and I actually get in before them.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I strongly believe that some managers do this because they’re so clueless about how their team actually functions that the only way they can evaluate the team is by attendance.

  34. Crazy Canuck*

    #2 – Collecting employee donations for religious charities in a for-profit company? Wow, is this something that really happens? It seems to me like that would open the company right up for a lawsuit over religious discrimination, at least in my neck of the woods.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s no legal violation here. For-profit companies donate to religious charities all the time.

      That said, it seems in this case that the company doesn’t realize the nature of the charity.

      1. Crazy Canuck*

        For the record, I don’t think that the donating itself is illegal. However, I have never seen a donation funded by employee donations that didn’t have some pressure from management. Pressure to donate to a religious charity and negative career consequences for not donating could be considered to create a hostile workplace environment. As always, I recommend consulting a lawyer in your area, not some anonymous dumbass on the internet, before even using the phrase legal action with your employer.

        I agree completely that if the employer was making the donation, or if there was no pressure to donate and no negative consequences for not donating, then this would be completely in the clear. I’ve just never seen an employee charity drive that worked like that. Ever.

        1. OP2*

          I will say, the company is great about donation pressure. I have never been pressured to donate more than a few canned goods.

          The money is raised by things like “dunk the ceo” tanks, casino nights, etc. Fun activities that are non mandatory.

  35. pussycats and toast*

    #5, if you’re uncomfortable coming off as the only person protesting, you might ask your boss or HR something like, “What are your plans for communicating the risks of Zika to the staff?” Because it is something that could affect anyone, men included.

    My workplace does quite a bit of work in Zika-affected areas and sends a lot of staff to these places throughout the year. I myself traveled to a country with reported Zika cases this summer (though I’m many years away from child-bearing, and the regions I visited carry basically 0 Zika risks due to the high altitude). My workplace has been extremely proactive about communicating the potential risks and providing regular updates as new discoveries are made about the virus. They’ve also emphasized that employees who feel the risk of travel is too great are NOT required to go and that it’s a personal decision.

    Basically, whether you carry personally the greatest risk or not, the company is responsible for communicating the risks of travel for a work-related international trip. They need to protect their own butts and since you seem to be the only thinking about it, you’re in the perfect position to alert them to it. It also potentially spares you being the lone complainer; once others are educated, there’s the possibility that they may decline to travel as well.

  36. Not Using My Regular Name*

    I have an issue tangentially related to #1 that I’ve been debating writing to Alison about…

    My department has functioned on a rough 9 to 6 schedule since I’ve been here (5+ years.) I am not looking to debate whether this is OK or awful, but we are flexible with employees and most people seem to be pretty happy – no one is going to look askance at someone leaving early but our company culture just isn’t people streaming out the door at 5. We have occasional long hours and our industry has a lot of sudden fires that need to be put out as we work with other companies across the globe.

    However, I have one employee (who has been here for 3+ years) who is pushing against this and leaves at 5 on the dot every day. This is because they have a longer commute than most people here, however the circumstances are a bit unusual – this employee had some, uh, legal issues and is no longer allowed to drive, making getting back out to the suburbs an ordeal with multiple train rides. The leaving at 5 thing was never an issue until their license was revoked. No one is monitoring when employees leave, but it is pretty noticeable when someone just grabs their bag and walks out at 5 every day while everyone else in the department is still working.

    I am unsure how to handle this just because while they get their work done, this employee is also fairly unambitious and just does a good job with the bare minimum responsibilities, not excelling in any way. When assigning work I feel like I tend to get a lot of “when’s the absolute last possible point I can pass this to you” questions, or questions about why they even have to do the work. While there haven’t been any major missed deadlines, they also don’t really have that kind of responsibility on their plate.

    I feel like a jerk talking to this employee about staying later because I do not have any direct examples to say “this isn’t getting done.” However, I generally work longer hours than anyone under me and I know if I leave at 6 I am leaving work for the next day (nothing wrong with that.) While I am higher up in the company, I am also not in a position to change “the way it is” in terms of culture.

    Do I even approach this? As mentioned above, I feel like a jerk even thinking about this but I am honestly mostly concerned about optics from other team members that aren’t running out the door every day. The fact that everyone generally knows the legal situation around this employee just makes me feel like people are going to see this as special treatment for making bad choices outside work. Is this insane to even approach?

    1. Roscoe*

      If there is no business needs and its just asses in seats mentality, then I say let it go. Now if you want to say he has to come in at 8 am to leave at 5, I think that is very fair. But I’m not one of those people who think people just sit around just based on how it looks to others, if they are able to get their work done.

      On another note, I think it sucks that you are using his lack of ambition as a negative. Everyone doesn’t want to move up in a company and be a boss. Some people are perfectly happy with their position in the company. Its fine to say something like “If you do want to move up in the company, you may want to consider the optics of leaving at 5 on the dot everyday”. But if he doesn’t want to move up, that is fine too

    2. LBK*

      I think you’ve got three separate pieces to this:

      1) Scheduling. Do other people work 9 to 6 because that’s just how it works out, or because they feel obligated to be there during those hours? I’d see if you can start loosening the reins on that, which will in turn make it less obvious if he leaves at 5. I know you say that you can’t control your entire company’s culture, but can you let that happen for your department? Or will you get pushback from your bosses if you do that?

      2) Lack of ambition. As discussed elsewhere, there’s nothing wrong with being happy doing the job you’re doing. I wouldn’t hold it against him if he doesn’t want to move up. But that’s a separate issue from…

      3) Attitude. I think you’re conflating his poor attitude (scraping by with the bare minimum, complaining about having to do work that’s assigned to him, etc.) with not wanting to move up. To me, this doesn’t read like someone who wants to stay where he is – it sounds like he doesn’t even want to be there. You don’t have to want to get promoted in order to show enthusiasm and take direction. Those are basic things that I would expect from any employee, whether they wanted to move up or not.

    3. KellyK*

      It sounds to me that they’re generally getting less work done than everyone else, between leaving an hour earlier and having “bare minimum responsibilities.” So, are there things they aren’t doing that you’d rather have people in their position doing? Are you or your other employees getting stuck working until 6:30 or 7:00 because one person leaves at 5, or do things tend to crop up in the evening that they’re never around to handle?

      If your expectation of the rest of your employees is that they work 9 to 6 most days, then it’s totally reasonable to have that expectation of the employee who lost their license, and it would be unfair not to hold them to that. *Especially* if they’re the only one not putting out fires that frequently crop up after 5.

      So, I’d figure out whether you need them to stay later, and if so, how late and how often, or if you just need them to do more than the minimum and what that looks like. And it’s totally reasonable to point out that asking if the work is necessary is coming off as not wanting to do it. (There are times when checking to see if the effort is warranted is totally worthwhile, but it doesn’t sound like that’s what this is.)

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If there’s a sense that other people are obligated to stay until 6 but this guy isn’t, I’d assume that other people in your department are likely to resent this set-up. And that’s doubly true if they see that he’s doing less work than them, or doing it less well. I’d think about what message that’s sending your better performers — that’s the kind of thing that can really piss people off.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      I think that not every role, task, and project needs a go-getter. There’s a ton of work out there for those that are content to work 9-5 and not bring anything home with them.

      Just make sure you’re communicating to the go-getters on your team that you recognize their contributions as such.

      For a personal anecdote, I have some tasks that are quite routine but vital to my team functioning. This work is predictable in frequency and scope, so it’s very easy for the team members assigned to it to plan their day so that they can leave by 5:00 every day. My project orientated go-getters aren’t interested in performing these tasks, but I have no problem hiring people to fill the routine role. It takes all kinds of kinds.

    6. NonProfit Nancy*

      This is a tough one. I know some offices mandate a half hour or hour for lunch, so you must stay until 5:30 or 6 to get your required 8 hours a day and this would be a performance issue. If that’s not the case for your office, I guess I’m wondering if it’s really necessary for everybody to stay until 6 – can you get your work done without keeping people? If so, I wouldn’t want to punish him for not being a clockwatcher. That said, if there’s raises or promotions being handed out, I wouldn’t see this guy getting one.

  37. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Don’t allow donations to such a divisive charity; I think AaM advice is spot on here. Then again it can be hard to draw the line at what is a political or divisive donation. My wife’s company supports LGBT youth centers; is that like supporting a CpC in any way since it can be read as political or taking a stance? I don’t know.

  38. CMT*

    I have a coworker who makes “jokes” in the vein of #1 and it is THE WORST. Thankfully he’s not senior to me so I can tell him where to shove them, but seriously! Those aren’t appropriate. They’re not funny and if you do have real concerns about my work, tell me to my face. Don’t be passive aggressive about it.

  39. LisaD*

    #3: I personally prefer to throw myself into work when I’m grieving/in shock, so your employee might know that they would be allowed to take the time off if they needed it but prefer not to be away from work. Being alone with my thoughts immediately after a loss isn’t healthy for me. So don’t feel TOO bad about “keeping” her – she may have wanted to be kept.

  40. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    re donations =

    You’ll note that many companies now – if they are in a United Way/Community Chest situation, you’re now usually permitted to divert or dedicate your contribution to or from a particular cause.

    What I did get upset over, was that a co-worker who was in our-then boss’ “inner circle” suggested that I not waste my time working for a prominent cancer charity in my hometown … but why not join up with the boss’ favorite charity – which was somewhat obscure.

  41. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I want to add one thing – it is NEVER cool to force or coerce someone into donating to a charity — the OP mentioned that the “cause” is an anti-abortion activist group. Conversely – there are those who do not want to support pro-choice/abortion services.

    I worked at one place where the question came up “Does the money go to support (a local women’s health center that provided abortion services?)” and the charity organizer tap-danced around it. Another group that had some controversy = the Boy Scouts of America.

    ALL – must be respected.

    1. OP2*

      I agree, I would not want to donate to Planned Parenthood in the office despite supporting them personally.

      1. DragoCucina*

        I think you have expressed your concerns well. Perhaps be prepared with options that can be generally supported. Our local hospital foundation has a fund to provide mammograms to low income women and men. Adopt a head start program and provide books during Read Across America. You mentioned soup kitchens. There may be a food bank program that provides bag lunches for children on Friday so they have a lunch over the weekend. These are ideas that I think show care to the vulnerable without the baggage that some of us would object to. I’m pro-life and wouldn’t want to support the group you mentioned.

  42. Tweety*

    Removed because I have clearly asked people to stop the abortion debate here, and it has nothing to do with this letter.

  43. Observer*

    I haven’t read all of the comments, but enough to know that Alison’s point about the charity being divisive has been adequately proved. The other thing that you may want to point out is that this particular charity used methods that even people who are against abortion would find abhorrent. Lying and coercion are just NOT ok – especially if they do this to get women to give up their children rather than keeping them.

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