firing an employee after many chances, requiring employees to use vacation time for trips they win as prizes, and more

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

1. Letting an employee go after many chances

An employee of our small company of 100 people has been moved around physically from department to department, manager to manager, and tried in various jobs that he wanted to try or jobs that managers thought he may be successful in. Sadly, the employee has been unsuccessful and at this point there is no manager willing to take him in their department.

This employee is very well liked and considered a really nice person by all the managers and fellow employees. So it is not a “hot potato” scenario but one of “He is so nice. Can’t we find him something?” But there just isn’t anything. He has admitted to management he was failing and just didn’t have what it takes to do the recent job and that he did not like that type of work. He wants to do a more creative job, and in a shipping company there just isn’t that position available. In addition, it became known that the employee was interviewing as well.

With that combination of facts, we thought about working with the employee by being up front and give him eight weeks to find something else. He could leave work for interviews and a potential employer, based on his education, would realize he wants to pursue his passion.

The employer cares about their employees and wants people to know they can go to their manager and say they are unhappy and maybe something can be done about it. And if there is nothing that can be done, the employer also wants to send a message that just because you are looking, there is no instant target on your back. At the same time, this can’t go on forever and eventually the person will find themselves a job or will have to be terminated. We don’t want current employee morale to go down hill because they perceive the company as heartless either. What would you suggest?

You’ve moved this person from job to job and department to department, even though he kept failing in each. I doubt that other employees watching the situation are going to think he’s being unfairly pushed out. If anything, people are more likely to think that you gave someone him too many chances and are likely to be relieved that the situation is being addressed. And you’re not pushing him out because you found out he’s interviewing; you’d be setting an end date for him because you tried him in job after job and none of them worked, and because you’ve had a conversation with him where you both acknowledged it wasn’t the right fit.

When you’re dealing with someone who isn’t working out, you’re right to think about how it will play with other staff members who see how it’s handled. But that doesn’t mean you can never let anyone go; it just means that you need to treat people fairly in the process. It sounds like you’ve done that here.

2. I can’t apply for an internal move because I haven’t been in my job long enough

I was in a position for six months, during which time I applied for other better paying positions within the company. I was then interviewed for a higher paying position internal position and got the job. I’m three weeks into the second position, and I’m on a six-month probationary period (I had the same for my previous position).

The week I was hired for the second position, I applied for a much higher paying third position with the company. I also spoke to the director of the department and she said she didn’t foresee me not having an opportunity to interview it. Today I called the director and she said, “I spoke to the manager and he said if you had been in your current position for longer, you would get an interview. A policy is a policy.” So basically, if I hadn’t accepted my current position, I would have been able to interview for the position I want now, which would be life-changing pay for me. Any thoughts on this? I feel betrayed by the company I love working for.

Whoa, no, they’re being totally, 100% reasonable here! You moved out of position one after six months, and then tried to move out of position two after only three weeks. Most hiring managers are looking for people who will stay a couple of years, at least. It was already fairly unusual that they let you move after only six months; of course they don’t to let you do it again so soon, because who’s to say how soon you’re going to want to leave the third position? (I know you may not feel that way, but that’s what it’s looking like to them.) Also, you’re taking up a bunch of their resources by doing this jumping around — they’re investing in training you and you’re jumping ship before they’re getting that investment back (and you’re forcing them to continually have to rehire).

It’s absolutely normal that they’re telling you that you need to stay where you are for a while. This isn’t a betrayal of any kind.

3. Requiring employees to use vacation time for trips they win as prizes

We have employees who are occasionally awarded trips by the manufacturer of the products we sell. They win these trips by meeting sales quotas or other performance criteria. Because attendance is not required by us on these trips, and because not everyone in the store is eligible to win them, we’ve always required the employee to use vacation time if they choose to go on the trip. They are generally week-long trips, and there is no business being conducted on them.

We have a generous vacation policy in place, and don’t feel it’s fair to award certain employees with more time off on top of that, when others aren’t eligible. We have gotten some pushback on the policy, though, as some of the employees feel it should be considered a business trip. What do you think?

If there’s no business being conducted on the trip and it’s purely optional, it’s not a business trip. It sounds like it’s a business perk, but not a business trip. It’s reasonable to have people use vacation time to, you know, go on vacation.

4. What do I expense when I’m traveling for work?

I recently got a new job that requires some professional travel, which is something that I’m excited about but that I’m not used to. Since I haven’t really had to travel for work before, I’m having a hard time getting my head around what is appropriate for the company to pay for and what I should be covering myself. I am about to go on my first business trip with my new company and they booked my lodging for me and reimbursed me for my flight. It’s the smaller stuff that I’m not sure about. Do I expense my transportation between the airport, where I’m staying, and the office? Do I expense my lunch while I’m working, even though I would have bought my own lunch if I were at home? We’re going out for a dinner together which I expect they will pay for but we’re also doing a team activity afterwards which we had to sign up for, so it’s non-mandatory only for people who want to do it. Should I expect to pay for my ticket to that? Basically, what is customary for the employer to cover and what’s the etiquette behind it?

Sometimes different companies have different policies, but typically you’d expense all your meals and transportation while you’re away (including cabs to and from the office, your hotel, and the airport), up to any maximum that your company might have. With meals, it’s true that you’d have to buy meals at home, but the idea is that you’re likely to spend more while you’re traveling; at home, you can bring your lunch if you choose to, whereas when you’re traveling you generally don’t have that option. Basically, expect you can expense all your food, lodging, and travel expenses, within reason (meaning that you probably have limits on how expensive you can get in each of those categories).

They’ll probably cover the team activity too, although you can always ask ahead of time if you’re not sure. In fact, you can ask your boss about all of this — she should be able to easily walk you through how to handle all of this.

5. Companies that have resigning employees leave on the spot

My friend has been working for a small company for a few years now. Despite touting themselves as flexible and having great work-life balance, they are actually pretty horrendous and rigid with 50+ hour work-weeks and she’s been burning out quickly. Her coworker recently put in his two-week notice and was terminated on the spot. My friend learned that the company routinely does this to any employee who puts in notice. She’s not in the type of field where this makes any logical sense, and it just seems spiteful. Can you explain why some employers use this tactic when employees give notice? If you work for an employer who does this, is it better to still give the customary notice anyway, but line up your next job for immediate start?

Most commonly employers who do this across the board are doing it because they don’t want existing employees to take client lists or other trade secrets. (This doesn’t make a ton of sense because obviously anyone who wanted to do that could just do it before resigning.) Sometimes it’s also that they don’t want the person poaching other employees (also silly because you could just do it after leaving). And in particularly dysfunctional workplaces, it’s because they take resignations as personal betrayals.

And yes, if you work somewhere that does this, the best thing to do is to assume they will do it to you as well and set your start date at your new job accordingly.

{ 267 comments… read them below }

  1. Christopher Tracy*

    OP #2 – I mean this in the nicest possible way, but seriously – slow your roll. I get that you want and/or need more money (shoot, I do too), but applying to everything under the sun, even at the same company, is going to make you look unfocused and flighty. You definitely don’t want to get that reputation at your company because then no one will hire you going forward. Chill out in your current role for a year or two (preferably two or three), gain some more experience, and then apply for a more senior role. They will still be there, I promise.

    Meanwhile, I find it interesting that OP’s company allows employees to post for multiple positions. Mine requires you to be in your current role for at least a year before applying for something else internal, then you can only post for one job at a time. And if you were to get a new position after posting, you would not be allowed to post again for another job shortly thereafter. I mean, technically you could since you just press a button on the intranet job posting, but since current managers have to sign off on internal transfer interviews and HR conducts the initial resume reviews, they would presumably close you out of the posting (I believe our handbook says you must be in your new role for at least a year as well).

    1. H.C.*

      OP2: Agreed with Christopher on slowing your roll & want to add that this is the double-edged sword of internal applications. You may get more advanced notice of openings & may have an inside knowledge of the hiring process, but HR & your potential supervisor will also have more in-depth knowledge of your track record within the company. What you just did with the 2nd (round of?) application is essentially sending along a résumé saying you had six months history in one job & three weeks history in another… basically screaming “job hopper”. In the betrayal context you put forth, your potential (and maybe current) manager may be worried about you—since they might assume you are applying to a plethora of openings outside of the company as well.

      1. Nico m*

        I dont think its job hopping within the same company.

        Basically the employer has decided that the benefit of stability is better than the benefit of having exactly the right pegs in the right holes asap.

        1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

          But it is, though.

          It takes people several months to hit their stride in a new job and attain high levels of performance whether they worked for the company before or not. It’s no benefit to me as a manager if they leave after THREE WEEKS just because they came from a job inside the company and went to another job in the company. That’s also not anything that could be described as “stability”. Pretty much all perm jobs ideally want someone in post for a few years, if at all possible.

          1. Nico M*

            Its no benefit to the other department manager to wait weeks to receuit an external candidate when theres a better internal candidate.

            Basically companies with this kind of rule need to get their shit together and coordinate the timing of new roles.

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              How do we know OP is the “better” candidate though? Just because they already work for the company? That makes no sense, especially considering she was only in the first job for six months, which is barely long enough in a lot of industries to become fully trained, and then was in the second job for three weeks. It is to the benefit of the other department manager to wait weeks to find someone who has a proven track record of success who will excel in the role she’s hiring for.

              1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

                This. The potential third manager only said that the OP would have been granted an interview.

                We interview all internal candidates, it is not reflection of how strong their candidacy is.

                1. Christopher Tracy*

                  And I guarantee you this company has other internal candidates who have actually been at this company in their respective roles much longer than 6 months or three weeks – I’d hire them before I’d hire someone who keeps jumping all over the place.

            2. Colette*

              There no indication the OP would be the best candidate, and even if she were, it wouldn’t do the hiring manager much good if she only stayed for 3 weeks (or 6 months).

            3. Jaydee*

              But that may not be possible. If Department A had 3 people resign, they need to fill vacancies quickly. If Department B then has someone resign just as Department A is conducting final round interviews, it doesn’t make sense to put everything on hold with Department A just on the off chance someone interviewing with department A would want (and be a better fit for) a position in Department B. Unless these are very highly specialized positions, there will likely be multiple qualified applicants for each and both departments will end up with good hires.

            4. Joseph*

              “Coordinate timing of new roles”? That seems completely unfeasible.
              1.) How many times will an employee who’s good in Department A also be the best candidate for the opening in Department B? Unless your company has lots of duplicate roles, this seems pretty rare.
              2.) Companies rarely hire on speculation, it’s usually because there’s an immediate need – while we’re “coordinating the timing” with Department B, that position is unfilled.
              3.) How far does this extend? If we’re a company with multiple locations in the same city, do I need to check with every other division in the city? After all, the difference between Downtown and Suburb is only 30 minutes of driving, so someone who lives in one place could be interested in either.
              4.) How long is acceptable to wait to coordinate roles? If I’m filling a role in August and I hear that Department B may be looking to hire in early October, should I wait six more weeks? What if it’s August to November?
              5.) How do I keep from losing external candidates? External candidates are typically on a tighter time constraint than internal candidates (due to unemployment, toxic situations, etc). If I need to have a two months long interview process in order to coordinate with Department B, the best external candidates may withdraw from consideration for my position when they get solid offers elsewhere.

            5. Sunshine*

              And how do you “coordinated the timing of new roles”? People quit, transfer, get sick, etc. How is the company supposed to control that?

              This company didn’t do anything wrong here. OP is asking for a 3rd position in less than a year. She hasn’t been there long enough to know the FIRST job thoroughly. Hit the brakes and take some time to learn.

            6. Rusty Shackelford*

              Basically companies with this kind of rule need to get their shit together and coordinate the timing of new roles.

              How would you have coordinated this? When the LW applied for job number 2, should someone have questioned everyone in the organization who had a job LW might want in the next year to see if they were leaving?

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Yep. It takes time to see if you’re going to fit in to company culture as well as your job. You need to prove yourself. Just because they hired you for one thing doesn’t mean they want/need you for something else, or that you would be a fit for it–if it’s in a whole other department, it could be totally different even if it’s the same type of job.

          3. AdAgencyChick*

            +1. I’d be pretty upset if I were OP’s manager, because I don’t want to be used as THAT quick of a stepping-stone.

          4. Blossom*

            I think that was Nico’s point – the employer has chosen the stability of having people stay in the same role for a reasonable period, over the possibility of having the best person in a role asap. (Which I think is a fair decision.)

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              That wasn’t the point at all given Nico’s last sentence about the company needing to get their ish together.

              1. Blossom*

                Yep, Nico disagreed with their choice, and would prefer moving people onto the next role asap.

          5. WorkingMom*

            It counts as job-hopping in my book. Look at this way – in 6 months did the OP become an expert in that role? Did they truly learn and develop as much as they could in that role in just 6 months? Probably not. Then the next role, after 3 weeks, most roles have at least a 4-week training process, whether it’s formal or casual. The OP hasn’t even been fully trained in the new role and is already looking to move on. The whole point of working up through an organization is becoming an expert in each role, learning the best practices and ins & outs of each department, business segment, etc. That’s the value you bring to the table when you rise through the ranks of an organization. Applying for new jobs every 6 months will not get you there. OP would rise to a certain level and then plateau, because he/she wouldn’t truly have the foundation needed to keep rising. OP would be better off to sit tight for at least 2-3 years, learn everything about that role and become an expert in it. Become the go-to person for that role. Then look to move up.

            1. meagain*

              Depends what the role is. Was the first role a filing-clerk position? Something low? If you actually get a bright person in retail, they can climb the ladder rather quickly.

        2. LQ*

          I’m with others who say that assuming that the OP is exactly the right peg for this hole is a big leap. There are often multiple qualified candidates for a position, and assumably the OP was hired for the position they are now in because they were right for that position. Suddenly you think they aren’t right for it because they want to get more money? (The OP says nothing about being an amazing perfect fit for it, just being life changing money.) There is nothing wrong with not giving someone a new internal position (sounds like a promotion?) after a week. A week.

    2. BananaPants*

      YES. OP2 is going to make everyone crazy with this, especially when she seems to be taking it personally (the “betrayal” language). Any medium or large company I know of has this kind of policy in place where you need to be in a position for a period of time (usually 12 months) before they can post for internal positions. This attempt to scramble up the ladder by job-hopping within the company is going to backfire massively if it hasn’t already.

      If OP2 truly needs substantially more money than this job pays, she shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. In that case I would suggest looking at external opportunities.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        If OP2 truly needs substantially more money than this job pays, she shouldn’t have accepted it in the first place. In that case I would suggest looking at external opportunities.

        Exactly. I posted for three internal positions last year (two with similar job functions and one that was closer to what my degree is in), and I made sure that every job I posted for, I would be getting more money. Now, for a lot of internal moves, you’re just not going to get the kind of salary bump you’d get if you were an external hire. So I agree – if money is the sole motivator, OP should have left the company and went somewhere else.

      2. Leatherwings*

        Yep. Employers are looking to hire someone who will be happy and successful in the role, and salary is definitely a part of that but it’s not the whole thing.
        It seems like OP2s whole goal is higher salary at all costs, and that’s not going to look great.

        1. AMPG*

          Plus it’s a bit hypocritical to talk about feelings of betrayal at not being able to apply for this posting, but then talk about salary as if it’s the most important consideration.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            And speaking of betrayal, I wonder if the department the LW is trying to leave after three weeks might have those feelings…

            1. Christopher Tracy*

              I would. Think of how many people they potentially passed up to hire OP. Hell, that’s why the 6 month policy even has me scratching my head. With the amount of time you spend devoted to recruitment and then training a new hire (assuming there is actual training), you’re not going to get a return on your investment in six months unless you’re hiring someone with substantial prior experience.

            2. SignalLost*

              I absolutely would not want to work as a peer with OP2 under the circumstances mentioned here. How could I possibly treat them as a colleague invested in the work of our department that I can rely on to do well, etc, when (again, in the information here, and I doubt it’s available to her actual peers) she clearly isn’t invested in anything other than hopping her way to the top as quickly as possible?

    3. NW Mossy*

      Christopher’s right – the chances to move up will still be there in the future, so there’s no need to rush towards an opening just because it’s there and pays more. It doesn’t help you in the long run if you get it but flame out because you were underprepared to handle it.

      I can certain understand the FOMO mentality, and there are things in life that do work on the principle that you have to pounce or you’ll never have the chance again. However, careers are rarely like that. A Millennial has a good shot at a career that lasts 50-60 years, and a lot’s going to change over those decades. You may discover over the next six months that this job that you think you must have right now is actually a horror show you were lucky to avoid. In a year, another opportunity might arise that you hadn’t even contemplated but fits you perfectly.

      I’ve certainly had experiences in my own career where I missed an opportunity and it felt like I’d never see anything as good again. But the funny thing about being a with-it employee who’s focused on doing good work no matter their level is that opportunities continue to appear, often in unexpected ways.

  2. Christopher Tracy*

    OP #1 – I’ve worked with many people over the years who were either completely incompetent or just not the right fit for the roles they were in, but management kept them around either because they were nice or management didn’t want to do their jobs and get rid of these people. Trust me when I say, me and my coworkers who actually could handle the job would have loved for these people to be (kindly) let go (and I say that as someone who was once let go from a job that I sucked at). They only caused more work for the rest of us, and even though they were nice people, that extra work caused hella resentment. Do your employees a favor and let him go. Truly, you’ll even be doing him a favor in the long run by letting him go out and find a job where he can actually succeed.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      Reread the post based on comments below, and you are letting him go (I really need to go to bed now obviously) – bless you. Seriously. You went over and above for this guy and your employees have seen that and won’t think negatively about how this was handled. They may just even be relieved.

      1. Dot Warner*

        I agree. This employee may be well-liked, but I’m sure there’s also an undercurrent of frustration that someone who’s screwed up as many times as he has and in as many different situations still keep getting “one more chance.” You’ve been more than fair to him; now it’s time to be fair to everyone else and give them a coworker who won’t drag everything down.

        [Full disclosure: I have been let go from a job because I couldn’t do it, and frankly, I was more relieved that anything else. Once I was let go, at least I knew I no longer had to go back there and make a fool of myself every day.]

        1. Parenthetically*

          Same. I walked out of that job happier than I had been for months. I knew I couldn’t do the job they wanted, they knew it, and nothing could have been better than for me to be on my way looking for something else.

  3. Way over there*

    OP #1 – man, I wish all companies were as generous as yours. You are letting the person resign (I am guessing on great terms), and even allowing him an 8 weeks paid grace period in which the person is free to take days off to job interview? That is above and beyond what most employers are offering! Hope the guy can get a better job, sounds like he is just not in the right industry.

    1. Mookie*

      Yep. If anything, transparency here is going to be a boon for morale, not a morale-buster. Employees are going to feel very reassured by this, particularly the grace period, but that policy is going to work and look much better if you limit how often a departmental or managerial switch like this happens in future; don’t make the person’s fellow colleagues get overworked or disillusioned as you continue to delay their departure out of kindness. That’s hurting the employee’s career as well, because they could, in the meantime, be working somewhere more suitable or updating their technical skills, etc. That number of switches, depending on the roles, is going to mar this person’s resumé (intra job-hopping on this tight of a schedule is probably nearly as bad as inter job-hopping). If possible, get a firm policy together and report it company-wide along with the benefits you are able to offer an employee working in good faith and giving good notice.

      1. Artemesia*

        and this slow response also sets you up for discrimination charges if the next incompetent is a woman or minority who isnt coddled the way the good old boy was.

        1. N.J.*

          There is nothing to suggest that, in addition to being a man, this employee is not part of a minority group as well. I can extrapolate from your point that standardizing the policy will help to ensure that there is fair treatment provided to all employees who are struggling with their duties at the company, and that is definitely something they should do. However, I wouldn’t jump to the assumption that this individual is being coddled in a discriminatory and/or unethical way just because it has been mentioned that this individual is a guy…

          1. Lora*

            True, but I think Artemesia’s point was: if this employee does not fall into a protected class for whatever reason, and you’ve been very generous with him, it has the potential to cause legal issues if you need to fire someone in a protected class on the spot for doing something egregious. Not that it is a battle they would necessarily win, but it adds a lot of ammunition to a complaint when you have Incompetent Non-Protected Class vs. Incompetent Protected Class sort of things. Because you can tell a judge/jury, “Bob’s code is terrible! It’s not annotated, it won’t compile, technical blah blah” and the judge/jury/NLRB won’t make a determination that yes, in fact, Bob’s code sucked more than Unbob’s code – they haven’t got the expertise. They will only see that Bob and Unbob were treated substantially differently. That’s sort of why it’s worth it to determine what a standard “we wish you the best, bye-bye now” package will look like long before you have to invoke it. That’s why during mass layoffs, the packages typically are based on a standard formula of some sort.

            1. CMT*

              I’m going to be a little nitpicky here and say that everybody is a member of a protected class just by virtue of existing, just to push back on the idea that straight, white male is the default. Labor laws in the US protect against discrimination against certain characteristics (or the lack thereof) but there isn’t a default for any of those characteristics.

            2. MillersSpring*

              Absolutely. The organization does NOT want to create the singular precedent that only this employee is coddled with multiple chances in multiple departments then given X number of weeks to find a job. If this employee is a young white man, but in future situations, other employees in protected classes are not given multiple chances and time to find a job, it opens the organization to claims of discrimination. It is creating the precedent of “this is how we handle and eventually fire incompetent employees (if they have no egregious misdeeds).”

      2. Stardust*

        Ooh, good point (on the policy of treating all the same and that it will encourage morale to know that the employee has time to job seek!)

  4. Tanker*

    OP 5 – depending on your industry, it may be a requirement or good faith activity in the eyes of regulators. My department, for example, manages outsourcing. One of our leaders applied and got hired with a company that we use for outsourcing. Because of our industry, and because of his insider knowledge, we had to ask him to leave immediately. Yes, he knew some seriously impact full knowledge about contracts and pricing, but those are constantly evolving and negotiating. Keeping the employee would not have appeared a good move when it comes to antitrust and regulatory eyes. There are many areas of our company where you can give notice and youre developed right until you’re out the door. But in my department and industry, that doesn’t fly.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I should have added to the post — companies that do this for good reason rather than feeling unreasonably betrayed will generally pay out your notice period. So they might have you leave that day, but they’ll pay you as if you worked another two weeks.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes, on the occasion when I resigned from a job in December, the HR gave me a final couple of days in the office (until the end of the week) and then said I need not return to work, but would be paid. It was described as “You can start your Christmas holidays early!”

      2. JessaB*

        And also companies who do that for good reasons usually let people know way in advance that’s the case. You know in industry x this is what happens, so you time your notice when you actually want to leave.

      3. Daisy Steiner*

        Yes, in the UK this is common and normal within certain industries, but you’re always paid for the notice period, which is called ‘Garden Leave’. The flipside is that you’re also obliged to behave as if you’re still working for your employer for that time, so can’t begin a new job until the end of the notice period – of course, contractual notice periods in the UK are pretty common too so your new employer is unlikely to get upset at having to wait for you.

        1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

          Yeah, most reasonably senior exec jobs here, you get put on “gardening leave” as soon as you resign to stop you running off with competitive info, but you continue to be paid until the end of your notice period (which can be up to three months) and can’t start the new job until afterwards. So traditionally you spend the time at home… gardening. :)

      4. Confused*

        Uugh. This is my personal situation… i was getting harassed by my supervisor for 4 months. My guard went up when he offered to purchase me cocaine because i “looked tired”. I said this statemwnt was not funny. I was insulted and felt unsteady around him afterward . He would also tell me how veautiful i was on multiple occations and one day gave me an invitation to come to his house because he was lonely and the spouce was away. The co. Transferred to another department and labeled it a promotion. (Who wouldnt say yes to a promotion where “more money” was stated) . 4 months into the promotion i saw the same pay. I was refused to attend meetings and was not informed if a quota that i had to meet the whole duration until a week before termination. I am so sad… now i cant find another job yet. I really am insulted over the whole thing. I made alot of money for the co.

        1. addlady*

          Isn’t some of this grounds for for a sexual harassment suit? Especially the comments on your looks and inviting you to come over to his house when his spouse was out. Regardless of your gender, I think this is illegal. But IANAL.

          1. Christopher Tracy*

            Yeah, Confused should talk to an employment lawyer. That whole situation is sketchy as hell.

      5. Ann O'Nemity*

        Yes, my company does this for sales positions. Sales people are usually asked to leave the day they give notice but will be paid for an additional 2 weeks.

        I’ve heard non-sales employees gripe that they have to work their notice period while salespeople don’t, but I’m not sure how/if that concern should be addressed. Most non-sales positions need at least 2 weeks for a smooth transfer of projects and processes (and in some positions we wish we had even longer). In sales, there’s nothing to transfer. All leads and customers are in the system and can easily be reassigned to the other salespeople. Even customer-specific statuses and notes are recorded in the system.

      6. HRGirl*

        Agreed, I think that is a crucial factor. In certain situations we may ask someone who has resigned to leave early, but in that case we always pay them their full 2 week notice period and keep their benefits as though they were still working for us. It might actually be nice, I think – you basically get a 2 week vacation before your next job as well as your PTO payout once you officially leave. Unfortunately HR doesn’t usually fall into this category :)

      7. Tanker*

        Yes, I could have included that as well. It’s not like they’re getting fired (or at least it shouldn’t be that way, which I think is your point.)

      8. miss_chevious*

        Yep. My company does this — we call it “payment in lieu of notice.” Essentially, the employee is on the books for the notice period and gets paid for that time, but returns all equipment and doesn’t come in. We find that it cuts down on the some of the interpersonal drama that can come up when someone is moving on.

    2. MillersSpring*

      Another factor could be if the departing employee is working on projects, making decisions and depending on access to internal information. I’ve seen employees walked out over such concerns, e.g. if Fergus has one foot out the door, they don’t want him to know that they’re about to change a critical vendor (or revamp the supply chain or upgrade the CRM). But they do pay him for the notice period and treat him kindly.

  5. Graciosa*

    Regarding #2, the other issue from a company perspective is that this kind of quick movement doesn’t really allow the employee to master the foundational skills needed to advance past a certain point. This can easily become a problem 7-10 years in with an individual who has moved around too frequently.

    It’s not just a problem for the employee (who usually doesn’t understand why a career that seemed to be taking off like a rocket has suddenly stalled) but also for the employer (because the employer has a slot occupied by someone who appears to have maxed out their potential rather than someone who can be groomed for the next level up).

    I sometimes feel like a broken record saying this, but ten years of experience is *not* the same thing as one year of experience ten times. It doesn’t matter at the early stages of a career, but it really matters past that point.

    1. Lucie in the Sky*

      > I sometimes feel like a broken record saying this, but ten years of experience is *not* the same thing as one year of experience ten times. It doesn’t matter at the early stages of a career, but it really matters past that point.

      I feel like this absolutely varies by industry and what you do. I work in an industry where it’s common to jump between different companies as all companies have the same customer base — so if I am working with the same customer in a different commodity in a program management or sales role — sometimes a bunch of different spots isn’t actually bad for my career. I’m not jumping from competitor to competitor but my base knowledge of the customer and how they do things is the most important part of my job, so it doesn’t matter which company I currently work for / for how long.

      1. Graciosa*

        I’m willing to consider that this may not be true for every industry, but there are other aspects to this that you didn’t mention in your letter. Someone else – I think fposte? – once did a much better job explaining it in a previous post than I could, but the *depth* of experience is a separate issue from the breadth of experience. Working with a similar customer set at another company doesn’t sound like it really creates that same level of mastery – at least, it doesn’t in my profession.

        There’s a difference between doing a competent job (and nothing insulting is meant by “competent”) and really mastering an area. Masters go beyond the ability to handle routine issues to being the go-to contacts for the Stygian stable level problems. They also anticipate issues far enough in advance to avoid them.

        The people who have been in a role for two years just aren’t the ones who are pulled into this stuff (at least in my profession) and may not even be aware these things are going on. They probably think they are doing well at their jobs – and many are – but they are being evaluated in comparison to other journeymen without necessarily realizing what they miss.

        Once that successful journeyman who has been switching jobs every couple years starts competing against masters, they usually hit a ceiling that they don’t recognize or understand (Dunning-Kruger effect). It can really derail a career and cause a lot of frustration.

        It’s possible that there are industries where this is not the case, and there are certainly also people who don’t actually want to advance that far up the ladder. However in giving general advice, I think it’s more likely that the OP suffers from the same misconception that so many similarly situated people do. At least mentioning it may cause the OP to think about the topic – and if they consider it and dismiss it “because their industry is different” and err, at least they were warned.

        1. Blossom*

          Graciosa – that is a really interesting way of looking at career development, that I’d never consciously considered before. Thank you.

  6. Christopher Tracy*

    OP #4 – When I travel for work, I expense everything – airfare, all meals, cabs/car service, etc. My company doesn’t do the whole per diem thing, they just ask that you use your best judgment when expensing things, and I usually do – except for that $65 breakfast I had in Vegas and the $50 one in LA (whoops). But no one batted an eyelash since when I’m traveling for work, I’m usually eating on other people’s dimes, usually a vendor or more senior colleagues in satellite offices, and the places I go are known for being expensive period.

    Ask your manager where your business travel policy is and read it to make sure you’re staying relatively reasonable with the things you expense. Norms will vary based on industry and profit margins (I work for a multi-billion dollar company that realizes business travel can blow, so they are a lot looser than other companies about things like this).

    1. aelle*

      Definitely ask to see the company policy for expenses. Mine turned out to be more generous than I assumed, but also very complex! And I assume there can be legal consequences for not expensing correctly. Accommodation is of course covered, but I have to pick up the check for the minibar (totally fair) and drycleaning (eh, less fair in my opinion). I get a per diem based on COL for each city / country where we do business, even on day trips, and all hours spent in transportation are paid (minus 1 on each end, as they assume on normal days you would spend up to an hour commuting). I am supposed to disclose if I receive a free meal (if I’m invited by a vendor) or if I expense a meal (if I invited a client) and my per diem is reduced accordingly. The handbook even goes into the details of what airplane food count as a snack and what counts as a meal. Not stuff I would have figured out on my own!

      1. Blue Anne*

        +1 for checking the policy. Depending on the size/reasonableness of your company, it might be very detailed.

        I once ended up not getting any of my lunches reimbursed for almost a month out of town, because I’d taken to going to a smoothie bar near the client that served these awesome, massive cherry smoothies. Smoothies were classified by my firm as a drink, not food, and a drink without food was not allowed to be claimed as a meal. Wish I’d known that beforehand!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Well, that’s irritating. When I process people’s expenses, I just look for a breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the same day. If two receipts are obviously a breakfast and a dinner, and one is a diet coke and some tic tacs, I just process the diet coke and tic tacs as if they were lunch.

    2. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      When I travel for business, I expense everything pertaining to the business trip including transport to and from the airport, accommodation, transport within the location (usually by taxi), breakfast, lunch, dinner (including tip), and cash advance fees for using the corporate card in a cashpoint to obtain cash for small purchases. I do not expense alcoholic drinks except one drink with dinner (as per our expenses policy), and I do not expense incidentals such as coffees, newspapers, dry cleaning, and the inevitable ‘last minute box of biscuits to take back to the office’, largely because it’s so much effort to record all of those little bits on our tedious-as-anything online forms!

      However I have colleagues who expense (or rather, have their PA expense…) EVERYTHING including expensive nights out with cocktails, every last £1 bottle of water, every Starbucks trip, even incidentals like a new Kindle charging cable or a book to read waiting for a delayed flight. No-one seems to care, but I don’t have a PA and I literally don’t have time to do all of that myself.

      1. Long Time Reader First Time Poster*

        My manager once expensed a pickle. Purchased at 4:00 in the morning.

        Yes, we ragged him about that.

      2. MillersSpring*

        I haven’t seen this mentioned, but if you have a car, you can expense parking, tolls and mileage. If you rent a car, you also can expense gas.

        Also, if your company has an allotted guidance amount for each meal or a per diem, it may have have higher amounts that apply in certain cities that are known to be more expensive, e.g. New York and San Francisco.

        Finally, remember to tip doormen, bell hops, shuttle drivers and hotel housekeepers. You can probably expense them individually or add them up and submit a single charge for “Miscellaneous tips.” Also be sure to ask taxi drivers for receipts.

    3. caryatis*

      Typically laundry and alcohol are not included in business expenses. (If you’re a drinker, it’s perfectly okay to ask a restaurant for separate checks for the alcohol and food.) You may not be reimbursed for excessive transportation costs either (like if you take a cab or rent a car where you could have used public transportation or walked.) The advice to check with your manager is correct, though, as companies vary widely.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        See, we’re allowed to expense alcohol at my company. I keep my alcohol consumption to a minimum anyway, but one of my former bosses warned me that if I was going to drink during business travel, to only expense one drink per meal and put any additional drinks on my own card. That seemed fair to me. My company also doesn’t dictate exactly what qualifies as excessive transportation either (people with disabilities, obvious or hidden, would probably need to rent a car or take a cab/car service even if they’re somewhere considered walkable).

        1. Mary*

          Once I leave the house I expense everything I spend on Travel, taxi, bus, train, hire car, etc. I expense all three meals if I buy and pay for them. I will have a glass or wine with dinner as this is what I would normally do at home. I don’t bother expensing a bottle of water or a cup of coffee that I pick up as I travel as this is usually a optional decision to purchase. I have replaced chargers, or adapters or forgotten power cords if they are needed to keep me in contact with my office when I travel. I have eaten and drunk (non-alcoholic) my way through the mini-bar when I arrived so late I had no opportunity to eat dinner, but on other occasions I wouldn’t touch the minibar as it is so expensive. Travelling is difficult for an employee. And I think, would I spend this money if I was not travelling, and if the answer is no then I usually expense it. We have rules on dry-cleaning (if you are away for greater than 5 days, then you can use hotel laundry service).

          Sometimes my expenses are higher than others, when I have taken a taxi and they have taken public transport. But it usually turns out they are more familiar with public transport in the city that I am and know where to hop on a train or bus, or they have more time that I do to get from A to B.

          If your company do not have an expense policy, write one for yourself and stick to it. But remember it is your company want you to go there, the trip is for work and if you spend money you would not normally spend then you should consider expensing it. If you normally bring your lunch from home into the office then you cannot do that if you are staying in a hotel, so you can buy your lunch. You can choose where to eat, the cheap subway next door to your destination, or the high end silver service restaurant. I have done both and it is very dependant on the purpose of the travel, the time available, the level you are at in the company, whether you are with clients or not.

        2. MK*

          It’s not just disabled people. A cab ride within walking distance might would be excessive in good weather, but reasonable in a storm or a heat wave.

        3. Moonsaults*

          I used to bill out a university that it literally depended on the frigging department if they’d reimburse alcohol, it was frustrating as heck to do those invoices. I’d have to break down the food and booze separately and send them two separate invoices, hoping that it wouldn’t be the one dinner some turd was going to be all “oh no booze, nope we don’t do that here.”

          Yeah the account was obviously big enough the boss wasn’t going to press that hard, we tried to collect and then let it die after they aged a year knowing it was a losing battle over $20 in drinks but it pissed me off every time I wrote one of those debts off.

        4. Parenthetically*

          We have per diems instead, which means an extra cocktail for me at dinner if I’m frugal at lunch! Bonus!

          Even my mom’s public school conference expenses could include alcohol up to their per diem. Thanks, taxpayers. :)

          1. Karo*

            We have per diems that are ridiculously low. It’s like they looked at how much people spent on breakfast on average, and decided that would be the best number – without considering that it factored in all the people who made their breakfasts at home or just have a small cup of black coffee for breakfast.

            1. Anna*

              Our company is so stingy with per diems, they take the GSA breakdown and interpret as literal. “If you do not spend at breakfast, you cannot then apply that money to lunch because lunch is allotted this much money.”

              There’s accountability for tax payers’ money, and then there’s this level of paranoia.

      2. Bob Barker*

        My org expenses alcohol, which is good, because we’re all lushes, but you have to code it differently from meals to make sure that no federal grant money ever touches the Demon Rum. It’s enough of a pain — especially on foreign receipts, for lo, I am illiterate in Japanese — that some units in my org will just take any meal that involved alcohol and put the whole thing to the alcohol code rather than break things out on an itemized receipt. Laundry/dry-cleaning is under a minimum-trip-length rule. Basically, if you could not reasonably take that much underwear with you, you can expense the cleaning of your underwear.

        Excessive transport costs (and expensing flowers for the office, and too many in-unit “working breakfasts”) is something people get Talked To about, if they don’t enjoy the privileges of rank, but I’ve never seen the receipt refused.

        1. De Minimis*

          Same deal at my org—alcohol always has to be separated on receipts if possible, because it has to be separated in the system. We go an extra step….we always separate it even if it would have been charged to a non-federal grant.

      3. BananaPants*

        Eh, it really varies by employer. I can expense alcohol (with meals) and laundry while on a business trip. And my employer encourages employees to use a car service or cab over public transportation for safety reasons, particularly on international business trips.

        1. WorkingMom*

          Always good to find a policy on the matter, as companies vary. In my personal experience, I always approach expenses while traveling from the “would I buy this with my own money” perspective. I will expense meals, transportation, etc. But if I in between meals I want a latte, I will just buy the latte with my own money. When it comes to meals, if I’m at an airport and a sandwich is $15 at one stand at $8 at the other stand, I’ll get the $8 sandwich, because that’s what I would do if it was my money. If I buy snacks or gum or magazines for the flight; I buy those with my money.

          1. aelle*

            I think that’s a good rule of thumb except in cases where your money comfort threshold gets in the way of business. I have a colleague who is extremely frugal, including with company money, and it’s actually a hindrance to his work. You’re not doing the company any favors if you book a flight so cheap you have a layover in Kazakhstan during which you need to hitchhike between 2 airports (sounds absurd but that’s not far from what he does).

        2. SarahKay*

          My company will allow alcohol with a meal (e.g. a glass of wine) but you have to itemise it separately, for tax reasons, I think. Dry cleaning is not allowed but when I got sent on a two week trip to a hotel with a coin-operated laundry for guests I cheerfully submitted (and had approved) an expense claim for washing powder and fabric softener.

      4. Graciosa*

        I’ve worked at companies that allowed laundry or dry cleaning expenses for trips over a certain length (the last I remember allowed it after four days).

        If you’re on the road for weeks at a time, it makes more sense to have your clothes cleaned than to try to carry enough to cover extended travel.

    4. Kat_Map*

      I work as a contractor for a small organization and my manager is in another city about 1.5hrs away. I take the bus into town when I meet with her and other colleagues, and my travel is paid, and if I actually do work while I’m on the bus I get paid for my time as well (as I’m paid on an hourly basis in the first place). It absolutely doesn’t hurt to ask your employer about their policies, as I had no idea going into the job knowing that I could actually get paid for the time I spent travelling (but obviously that is within reason).

    5. Kittymommy*

      Also pay attention if you are a government organization or you job is based in part on government funds. I know with my office it is very clear what they will and will not pay (pretty much travel, registration fees) and meals are allocated at a set amount depending on if it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner and even this is only allowed depending on when the event starts. And that’s pretty much it.

      1. JessaB*

        Yeh but most things that are government funded you can actually point to a policy about reimbursement. I know when I worked for the State of Florida there was a policy. It was in writing, we admins literally had a class on how to fill out the forms for our managers/staff. Anyone taking a trip could look at the policy and know exactly what was covered, exactly how to draw advance cash or sign out a credit card. Most government agencies or government funded ones can do that. And it’s kind of on the traveller to ask.

        If you don’t work for a government agency and are new to travel ask someone in the department that actually pays reimbursements.

        1. De Minimis*

          We have gov’t funding but our reimbursement policy isn’t too strict as far as per diem. We have a set base amount per day, then we subtract a certain amount for any meals that are furnished. That part is pretty much the same as the feds but we also will pay a full per diem for all travel days, and I don’t think the feds do that [back when I used to work for them it was automated so I never had an opportunity to really learn the rules.]

          Unlike the feds, our per diem base rate is the same no matter where you’re going, which is good sometimes and not so good other times.

    6. Turanga Leela*

      I work for a very small business that didn’t have a formal expense policy in place when I started. Initially, I bought my own food (on the logic that I would have been buying it anyway, same as the OP), but expensed everything else. That meant all travel, including cabs in my destination city; airport parking in my home city; hotels; and any lunches/coffee/etc. where I had to take someone out for a work meeting.

      Eventually I realized that it was really unusual for me not to expense my meals, so I asked my boss, who said to expense meals but stay within $40/day, which I suspect is on the low side for most industries. So now, I pay my own way if I go out for a fancy meal with friends, and I buy my own alcohol, but work pays for the ordinary stuff, including expensive coffees that I wouldn’t be buying if I were back in the office.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Initially, I bought my own food (on the logic that I would have been buying it anyway, same as the OP)

        I’m not a fan of this logic. I usually eat something I’ve brought from home, and whether it’s leftovers or a sandwich or a frozen dinner, it’s going to be a lot cheaper than whatever I can eat on the road. Luckily, my employer pays a per diem rate, so it’s not an issue.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          Yes, I don’t recommend that people do what I did! I had never traveled for business before, and it felt strange to ask work to pay for my meals. But I was wrong to feel strange; expensing meals is assumed. Even for people who often buy their lunches, meals on the road tend to be expensive—there’s a big markup at airports and hotels.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            And I didn’t mean to sound like I was lecturing *you* – I’ve heard this from others, who still don’t realize it’s a weird thing to do.

        2. aelle*

          One of my previous jobs did *not* allow us to expense meals based on this logic, and it sucked. It made business travel so expensive. The only way I could invoice meals was if I picked up the bill for a client or a prospect – which I realize was an incentive for us to have as many business lunches and dinners as possible, but urgh. Sometimes you just want to eat your crappy airport sushi alone.

      2. Chinook*

        Most small places I worked at didn’t have explicit travel policies but, instead, would mirror whatever the Canada Revenue Agency said, whether it be for mileage or per diem. Basically, the standard had become whatever the government thought reasonable (which was handy because it did reflect COL in more remote areas) and made it easy to find.

    7. zora.dee*

      Yes, I came to say this, too, ask if there is a travel policy. Most places I’ve worked have had one, at least a brief one, that explains exactly these things, some managers just forget that they have to give it to you.

      And either way, it’s really okay to just ask, it doesn’t mean you’re dumb, this is a very normal question, since different companies have different policies for these things. You can casually say or email to your boss “about my upcoming trip, what is the policy around expensing other travel expenses?”

    8. meagain*

      Ugh. check the policy. When I go to conferences, usually breakfast and dinner are included in registration, lunch on your own.

      Except my job doesn’t reimburse for lunch. So I’m generally in some expensive place for lunch and given that I usually bring lunch to my job, I tend to get super annoyed at this policy. I pad a taxi trip or two since those don’t require receipts.

      We also had to have pre-approved hotels (max amount per night, dependent upon area). And airfare had to be booked through the travel agent who wanted us to fly NY–> GA–> CA instead of direct NY–>CA flights, on the preferred airline. It was such a pain.

  7. Eric*

    On letter 1: I’m not a manager so I don’t know how much this will help, but here’s something my own boss told me a little while ago. Sometimes you do have to fire someone, but it’s okay to feel bad about it.

    My own boss recently had to fire someone for a similar reason. The person who got fired was taking more than they were giving (in that they were difficult to work with, which can be tolerated to a small degree if they produce quality work, but they did not), and no one wanted to work with them. He said he wasn’t happy about it but it had to be done. My company couldn’t give the person being let go an arrangement like your company is, so my boss still feels really bad about it. Maybe it would help to realize that it’s unpleasant, but sometimes you have to do it?

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      I always feel bad about firing. Even if its absolutely good for the company, good for the team, or good for the employee. (And yes, there have been times when getting fired turned out to be a good thing for the employee because it pushed them to find a job that was a better fit and they were ultimately happier.) So even if it’s the right thing to do, I usually feel bad about it for a few days.

      And I completely agree, it does help to know that yes, it’s unpleasant and yes, it’s okay to feel bad about it. It’s not some emotional weakness that needs to be fixed, but just part of being a manager.

      1. Eric*

        Thank you! It’s good to hear from someone with real management experience that my second hand advice is accurate.

  8. Cat steals keyboard*

    #4 Do check price limits. My employer has a set limit for meals etc. And don’t forget to keep all your receipts!

    1. Amber T*

      Yes keep a receipt for EVERYTHING. Please don’t try to use your credit card statement as proof of purchase.

      Your employee manual will probably have a Travel and Entertainment (T&E) Policy. Talk to someone – a colleague, HR, an admin who handles expenses – because there may be a specific way you need to turn in receipts and general expenses. My company is very particular and has a very strict protocol (we need to, in our industry). We’ll reimburse and cover pretty much anything, but if receipts aren’t handed in or coded properly, it causes a headache for about five levels of people.

    2. Not the Droid You Are Looking For*

      Yes! And check if the limits are by meal, or by day.

      I’ve worked for two places that used the government rates. At place A we could only expense the maximum for that meal (so if breakfast was $8.99 and the government rate was $7, we were out $1.99). Place B added up the daily total, and as long as your meals twere under that amount, you were fine.

    3. Lucky*

      I found that a half-size Manila envelope was perfect for keeping receipts. I have a few stuffed in my laptop bag, and slip one in my handbag when traveling for work – much easier than trying to organize my wallet with work and personal receipts.

      If you will travel on the regular, make sure to sign up for the hotel loyalty programs and frequent flyer miles. Even with only occasional work travel, those will add up.

    4. zora.dee*

      this reminds me of an eyeroll moment I had the other day…. our company just sent around a new travel/expense policy a few weeks ago, and shortly after all of my coworkers traveled to an all hands meeting.

      A couple weeks later, they were griping about how the company told them their credit card statement wasn’t good enough for expense reimbursements, and they needed receipts, but “I didn’t get receipts for every little thing, ugh!!”

      I just bit my tongue, since that was clearly laid out in the travel/expense policy. Try reading next time, folks.

  9. Stellaaaaa*

    #1 treads on one of my least favorite realities of adult human life: that people’s moral failings or objective mistakes will always be forgiven as long as “but he’s just so nice!” And it’s usually always a man who gets to play that game. You’ve been rewarding this dude even though he’s incapable of doing the job. YMMV with this one, but I’d say there’s a good chance he’s been knowingly coasting this whole time on the assumption that you won’t fire your workplace buddy.

    As much as you don’t want to deal with his performance issues anymore, I’d possibly brace myself to be very honest if you’re called to be a reference.

      1. Christopher Tracy*

        So have I. In fact, one of the jobs I was referring to above (Evil Law Firm) was primarily staffed with women, and a lot of them just weren’t very good at their jobs but got to stay in them much longer than they would have at a functional workplace.

      2. K.*

        The most egregious example of this that I can think of in my own life is a woman. She works, and I use the term loosely, with my friend. She’s finally leaving for a different role in the same organization and my friend couldn’t be happier.

      3. MashaKasha*

        I’ve seen that too, and in the case I’ve seen, the person keeps getting promoted. And I can’t even be angry at her, because she really is so darned nice.

      4. Riverpebble*

        Yeah the worst example of this I can think of in my own experience was also a woman. She was the most abrasive, antagonistic person I’ve ever met. Her control issues were so severe that she would fake asthma attacks during meetings if she wasn’t getting her way, and once had to be marched out of a client site while throwing a temper tantrum. But management loved her because they mistook her aggressiveness for assertiveness; they said, she acts just like a man, she’s perfect! It was…bizarre.

        1. SJ*

          That’s exactly why my former boss’s executive assistant still has a job. She’s a loudmouthed (and foulmouthed!), aggressive tyrant, but she’s able to handle my former boss’s impossible attitude, so she stays.

    1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      I don’t think you’re talking about the same thing the OP is talking about. There’s nothing in the OP’s post about the employee coasting or the OP not wanting to fire the employee because they are friends.

      We do the same thing the OP’s company does, which try not to waste nice employees with a good attitude. If someone is likable, reasonably bright and isn’t a disaster, we’ll try re-purposing them a couple of times to try to find a fit. Nice people with good attitudes don’t grow on trees.

      We’re successful maybe 50% of the time? Not a bad track record.

    2. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

      There’s actual research: being competent but unlikeable will get you fired quicker than being incompetent but liked.

      I think of it as a major glitch in human programming. It’s one to be aware of and guard against if you’re a manager: your company doesn’t need “nice” employees who don’t get the job done, they need competent ones who can also (at least) get along with other people.

      1. Hotel GM Guy*

        I had a woman that was absolutely stellar with customers, and absolutely terrible with her coworkers. I went from having a drama-free workplace to having all sorts of high school blah going on (among the 30 and 40-somethings… The actual teenagers and college students in the department stayed out of it). Anyway once I let her go, morale went way up and we’ve been drama free since.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I worked with someone like that. They kept her on because it was a family business and she was part of the family–and because she did make sales goals. Someone told me they got a new sales guy and she harassed him out of the place in three days. She was a big factor in my quitting that job. I’ve worked with people I didn’t much like, but she’s the only coworker I’ve ever actively hated.

          I know I can be annoying, but if I’m ever that bad, someone just sh00t me.

      2. RVA Cat*

        Yeah, this is the glitch that also gets us politicians people want to have a beer with, rather than someone who can, you know, do the job.

      3. A Person*

        I’d say you don’t necessarily have to be unlikeable, just for someone in a senior position to take a dislike to you. If management doesn’t like you, you’re screwed, no matter how good you are.

    3. MK*

      I think you are reading too much into this letter that isn’t there; and I think women are more likely to coast along because they are “so nice”, especially if they are doing a lot of the emotional labor around the office, while men are more likely to hide their ineptitude with good PR under a pretence of “success”.

      Anyway, I think a distinction should be made between people who are nice but incompetent, even though they try and work very hard, and those who are fun to be around but won’t try very hard at things they don’t like/aren’t good at. If this person has truly done his best, but that’s just not good enough (and if your employer is bending over backwards to keep you, you do need to go above and beyond yourself, not simply work hard), I don’t think their coworkers resent the chances they got; it also depends on whether they were seriously screwing up or simply underperforming. But if they spent their time bemoaning the lack of creative work, while putting in minimal effort, they probably used up all their colleagues goodwill.

      1. SystemsLady*

        Exactly, I think women get the flip side of the coin – they’re more likely to get fired for having knots in their personality (while being better than average at their job) and are more rarely given a chance to try to correct those knots, or even an accurate description of what the problem is. I’ve seen that a couple times while watching absolute jerks (who are male) coast along on less success.

    4. Nobody*

      I have to disagree about it usually being men. If anything, I’ve seen this more with women (especially if they are attractive) than with men. Maybe it’s because I’m in a male-dominated industry, but I get the sense that there is more forgiveness for incompetent women because people just have lower expectations for women to begin with.

    5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think unlikeable (in the drama-creating, nasty sense) and competent can often be bad for business, also. There’s research suggesting that these folks drag others down and can cost a company thousands (or tens of thousands) by negatively affecting other employees’ morale.

      tl; dr: Even “competent” jerks aren’t worth the cost.

  10. H.C.*

    OP4 – if your employer is large enough to have a HR team, you may want to check on the intranet or with them first about travel expense policy. Your bosses *should* know this stuff too, but sometimes they may be unaware of the latest policy change or that possibly different levels of allowable expenses depending on one’s title.

  11. Gene*

    #4, I’ve always found it simpler to just use our per diem policy for meals. They pay me $X every day and I don’t have to save all the receipts and account for things at the end of the trip. Sometimes I come out ahead, sometimes I come out behind. You might look into your company’s policies see if that’s available.

    1. Former Invoice Girl*

      Yes – came here to say this. There is probably a per diem policy somewhere within the company.

      1. DoDah*

        Or the company could be exceptionally shitty like my last employer and have both a per diem and expect receipts. And there was no adjustment for more expensive cities—interestingly they were located in Los Angeles and capped lunches at 5.00 and dinners at 10.00.

        The person (accounting manager) who made this decision has never traveled for business.

        1. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

          You’ve gotta be kidding me?! Lunch @ $5.00 and dinner @ $10.00, this so unrealistic…does this person not ever go out for dinner? I’m so glad you got out of there.

          1. DoDah*

            My theory is/was he was bonused on the amount of money he “saved the company.” That particular organization used to provide free lunch for the employees every day. He once told me he spent two-dollars and change a head.

            1. Patrick*

              I recently had an interesting chat with the person right below our CFO who basically told me that travel expenses don’t matter to our bottom line (big Fortune 500 company with offices in the US and EU) – obviously within reason, but ultimately for our organization managing headcount is what makes or breaks the budget, not staying at nicer hotels or letting people expense alcohol. I realize that might not be the case for a smaller business (or one having financial trouble) but it was pretty eye opening.

        2. paul*

          our does a per diem and expects reciepts but they have reasonable limits; like 75 a day or so and they don’t care on a per meal basis. Makes it easy enough for me

        3. DragoCucina*

          Oh it reminds me of a former Board Chair that came up with something equally ridiculous. His assumption was that the employee could always go to a fast food place. I tried over and over to explain that it wasn’t always possible. He also didn’t understand professionally networking over lunch. After his term was up I changed it. I also changed it to $X for the day rather than breaking down meals. I’m not a breakfast eater and would rather put the money toward a nicer dinner.

    2. SarahKay*

      One thing to check, if you do have a per diem policy, is if the hotel breakfast is included in the cost of the room, and if not, how much is it? I saw a colleague (same company, but from a different country, so different expense policy) get caught that way. She was on a per diem and thought breakfast was included in the room cost; turns out it wasn’t and had a flat rate charge of EUR 15.00, (about USD 18.00) regardless of whether you had a cup of coffee, or a full cooked breakfast, plus continental buffet and pastries. As a ‘Can’t face more than a black coffee and piece of toast in the morning’ person she’d never have had breakfast at the hotel if she’d realised. Her per diem was reasonable, but not generous, so she was out about EUR 10.00 per day that she had to cover herself.

  12. Childs Julia*

    I disagree on #3. If someone is eligible to win a trip that not everyone is eligible for it is perk yes, but it’s not fair to make them use vacation time for it. I know you say you have a generous vacation policy, but you don’t know what a person may be saving their time for (ex: a wedding in another country, their honeymoon etc.) The trip is already a perk and so making people use vacation time isn’t making the playing field even if there are going to be people who are not eligible. My office has a generous vacation policy as well but there are definitely people who would not have enough days left to take a trip and would either have to take the days unpaid or decline the trip altogether because they couldn’t afford to take unpaid time off.

    1. Iain Clarke*

      Do they *have* to go on these prize trips?
      If Yes -> It’s a work thing, no vacation needed.
      If No -> Take it as vacation. If you are wanting to go do something else with your vacation days, then do that instead. Ideally, you’d transfer it to someone else instead. If you can’t, and still want to do something else, so what?

    2. nerfmobile*

      I do think it makes a difference as to who the sponsor is. If the employer itself were handing out the trips (Sales Rep of the Year), then requiring people to use vacation on a trip they might not have chosen but would feel obligated to take is unfair. It would feel like they were requiring employees to use their vacation in specific ways, which could be rather a disincentive.

      But in this case, it sounds like the trips are coming from outside the company – that is, the company (Speciality Teapots, Inc.) is a distributor of chocolate teapots, made by companies such as Teapots-R-Us, Choco-Pots, and MegaTea Industries. If MegaTea Industries chooses to award vacations to the top sales people of their products at each of their distributors, it seems rather hard on Specialty Teapots to have to randomly grant extra vacation time based on someone else’s whim. Especially if they’ve got a few employees who win these more frequently than others. At a minimum, some compromise would be required.

        1. Ted*

          I have to say I disagree. Oftentimes the company is using these outside incentives instead of doing something internally. In sales, those outside companies aren’t typically offering these trips to employees without the employer being completely involved in promoting the trip and using it as a way to boost their own sales. To the employee, there’s really no difference between the employer and the manufacturer – they’re just being told they win a trip if they sell more. To the employer, they are using the incentive as a way to increase their sales, so everything about this type of promotion is for their benefit.

          1. DragoCucina*

            But the employer may not care. If I sell 25 teapots made by Teapots Supreme or I sell 28 teapots made by Extraordinary Teapots the employers profit may be exactly the same. Now Teapots Supreme may want to incentivize me to promote their goods and give me a trip as a result of selling 25 teapots. It makes no difference to my employer.

            Travel agents used to receive BIG incentives from all inclusive resorts or specific cruise lines for booking X number of people into those vacations. The fee paid to the actual agency was the same. The push came from the individual agents aiming for the “free” Jeep.

    3. DragoCucina*

      But the trip isn’t being awarded by the company. It’s awarded by the manufacturer. It’s not business related. If the employee doesn’t want to use vacation time they are free to politely decline or not enter. It’s one thing if it was an internal reward another coming from a business relationship.

    4. Marzipan*

      Given the situation as it stands, I don’t think it’s unfair to make the employees use their holiday allowance to go on the trips. That said, this does make the trips themselves a bit of a mixed blessing, perk-wise. It’s a bit like “Congratulations, you’re our salesperson of the year! You win this cute giant panda. By the way, it eats 20kg of bamboo a day.” – the fact that the question of leave allowances is coming up suggests to me that it’s causing a problem for the people who win, making winning not such a great thing. I personally wouldn’t be super-keen to use up limited leave to go on a trip I presumably hadn’t chosen for myself.

      Also, since this trip is presumably just for the employee (or, at most, for a limited number of other people) it’s potentially completely useless to anyone with, for example, carrying responsibilities. (‘Congratulations, you’re the Gemini Croquettes salesperson the year! You win a trip for two to Fhloston Paradise! Oh, you’re a single mother and it’s in term-time… too bad, I guess.’) So, I wonder whether it’s worth opening a dialogue with the manufacturer regarding the nature of the perk they’re awarding and the issues it potentially creates, to see if they’d be open to looking at different incentives.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Personally, I’m not a fan of trips as a reward. Teapot mfgs used to do that way back in the day and I’m like seriously, I’m a straight commission salesperson people (we all were, back in the day). I make a living by working my ass off, hence, that’s how I sold all of your teapots, how is logical that I can afford to take a week off for your reward, see: straight commission salesperson.

        Trips as a reward died out 15+ years ago in our world.

        Interestingly, the OP mentions none of the internal objections to the trips that you mentioned. Trips died out for us because of feedback from salespeople > manufacturer, nobody wanted to take the time to go on the trips, awarded trips weren’t taken.

        Maybe these people have no problem with the trips other than wanting the employer to grant them extra vacation time, which, there’s not a reason in the world I can think of the employer should do that.

        1. Rafe*

          It was awful in the cable company call center I worked at 5 years ago — the sales people who won the trips always just put new subscribers into HBO, for example, or whatever it was that racked up the pounts, without asking, whether the customer wanted it (on the grounds it was free for 3 months anyway, but really, I thought it was THIS CLOSE to cramming, and certainly deceptive, and the cable company literally rewarded this).

          1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

            Bah that is cramming and no different from Wells Fargo save the worse impact on Wells Fargo customer re idk, credit cards in their names.

            Neutralizing cramming in an org isn’t that hard and you don’t have throw sales goals out the window to do it. I don’t believe for one sec that any of the layers of sales management were unaware that HBO was getting crammed, they just chose to overlook it for their own compensation structure.

            The people who built the structures at Kable Kompany and Wells Fargo know all about cramming. If there’s no next step in place to neutralize cramming, it’s clear to me what they planned on happening next.

      2. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

        You don’t have to go, though. I think of it more as – great, you get a vacation you don’t have to pay for, although the downside is that it’s not you who chooses where it is. I guess it’s more of an issue in the US with your more limited leave allowances though.

        1. Marzipan*

          Yeah, but to me there’s something disheartening about being given something I don’t want or can’t use to recognise good performance. (In much the same way as people who don’t drink don’t feel super-valued if they’re given a bottle of wine as a thank you, say.) I’d much prefer to just be thanked.

          1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

            Sales incentives are a bit different than recognition for good performance. The mfg has to reach inside the org of many different sales outlets, reach directly to the salesperson who will be customer facing, to engage and excite. There’s not a salesperson on earth who will get excited about Ted’s Teapots, knowing the warm thank you they’ll receive at the end by busting butt on numbers. :)

            Also worth mentioning: cash prizes usually don’t work in situations like this. If it’s cash, the salesperson’s employer often wants to claim it. That’s one of the reasons sales incentives are usually tangible goods of some sort.

            1. Marzipan*

              Being really honest, I don’t give two hoots if people thank me or not. BUT, I do care if they attempt to recognise my performance in a way I can’t use/don’t want/won’t enjoy. It’s borderline insulting and makes me feel that I may as well not have bothered. So, I’m totally with you on the reasoning for using something tangible as a reward; I just think the tangible thing they’re using is a counterproductive way of achieving their end goal if it’s causing problems for the recipients.

              1. Kimberlee, Esq*

                But you can’t select one thing that will be motivating to each one of thousands of people. It can’t be done. Usually, in practice, that road leads to no incentives being offered at all, rather than the magical unicorn incentive that everyone likes BUT that the company doesn’t want to claim being selected as the new incentive.

                Besides, we’re talking about sales. It’s an additional incentive on top of (I presume) all the incentives and commissions the company itself offers.

                1. fposte*

                  Yup. I don’t like wine and might not go on a trip. I recognize that lots of people love wine and that plenty of people would be delighted by a free vacation, and that this isn’t a personal gift from somebody who’s supposed to know me. (And it won’t work with a vacation, but I could regift the hell out of a bottle of wine.) There is no O negative of gifts.

                2. another IT manager*

                  Cash is one-size-fits-most, IME. Downside is that the org offering the incentive has to pay full price (whereas you can get discounted travel/food/wine).

                3. Rusty Shackelford*

                  True, but I’d rather get $50 cash than $100 worth of wine that only cost my employer $50.

                4. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I’m sorry, I’m finding it kind of hard to believe that people who are employed – i.e., are in a relationship where they do work and they are given money – would be offended to be given MORE money. And if these unicorns do exist, I certainly don’t think their opinions should override those of the vast majority of employees who would say yes, more money, please and thank you. (I mean, we’re talking about a performance incentive, not a birthday present, right? I know there are people who think giving cash as a gift is rude, but this isn’t really a gift, it’s a prize.)

                5. fposte*

                  @Rusty Shackelford–But the whole thing of giving any gift is that there is always going to be the few. That’s what some of us are saying–that nothing will please everybody, and therefore you can’t let that be your goal.

                  And with a vendor/client gift, you also have to factor in that it’s about what they want as much as what prospective recipients want.

                6. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Yes, it’s true that you can’t please EVERYBODY. But the number of people who would be displeased with a cash prize is so much smaller than the number of people who would be displeased with wine or a vacation or just about anything else you could come up with.

                7. HRChick*

                  You’d really be surprised. Unless cash prizes are very high in value, I am constantly hear, “With the taxes coming out, you might as well have spit in my face.”

                  It’s disconcerting when you’re trying to reward employees and you’re being told you’re insulting them.

          2. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

            I’m not saying it’s a great incentive, necessarily. But I am saying that I don’t think it’s appropriate for the employer to give extra “free” time off because an outside company awarded their employee a free trip. It’s a perk if the person likes it, a neutral thing if not. They’re not being oppressed, IMO, and there is nothing for their employer to step in and do. It’s up to the outside company to figure out better incentives, and it’s in their interest to do so.

          3. OP #3*

            I should have added in my original question – in addition to the trips, the manufacturer also pays incredibly generous cash bonuses for every unit sold. Some sales people end up earning almost as much from the manufacturer in a year’s time as we pay them. So they are definitely being rewarded for their performance (both by us and the manufacturer), and these trips are above and beyond all of that.

            1. Ted*

              Do you advertise the trip as a reward to drive sales of these products? If so, then you should be giving them this time off.

              1. Amy G. Golly*

                But why though? As long as the company is up-front about the time off needing to come from the employee’s PTO bank, and the employee is free to decline the trip if they don’t want to use their PTO hours, why does the company need to give them additional time off for a prize awarded outside the company?

            2. AMPG*

              In that case, I can’t see how it’s unfair to require them to use vacation time to take the trips.

          4. Sparrow*

            I think I’d feel similarly (rationally or not). On paper, I agree with Alison, but I also know that if I was awarded the opportunity to do something like this because of my work performance and then felt forced to turn it down because I couldn’t afford to take time off work, I’d be pretty cranky about it.

            1. Newby*

              I think if they know upfront that if they do “earn” the trip that they will have to use their own vacation time to go on the trip, it isn’t so bad. If nothing is mentioned about needing to use vacation, it could be a nasty surprise.

      3. Poohbear McGriddles*

        Most prizes like that are a mixed blessing, as there are probably tax implications. Just won a $30k car? Well, at 15%, your tax bill just increased by $4500. So how much was that “vacation” worth?

        I do see one loophole, though. If the manufacturer who awarded the trip is doing some sort of product training for those who attend, it becomes a business trip even if there is plenty of time for rest and relaxation.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        I think these are good reasons not to give trips as incentives, but they are not good reasons to give employees free additional vacation time when an outside vendor awards them a trip.

    5. hbc*

      I just can’t see a company being responsible for someone else’s perk/reward. If the prize is 50 gallons of ice cream, do they have to pay for a freezer rental? If they go a little nuts and give out vacations packages to half the salespeople, do they need to be out all of those weeks of vacation? If they’re given a car, does the company have to pay for parking?

      It’s really the fault of the supplier/manufacturer if their incentives aren’t all that incentivizing.

      1. Cynical Lackey*

        I once won a years supply of Klondike bars on a TV game show and I dint have to go buy a freezer. They gave me 52coupons. I kept some, and gave the rest to friends and family.

    6. Rafe*

      How is this different from a vacation you win on Price is Right? It’s not awarded by the employer.

      1. LBK*

        Yeah, this was my thought – if we take out the element of the trip being awarded by a business partner, it seems obvious that a vacation you win as a prize is still something you have to take vacation time for. Just because you didn’t personally organize and book the trip yourself doesn’t mean the company has to give you a free pass to go, and I don’t think the fact that the prize-giver is somehow tied to the company changes that.

        1. Cynical Lackey*

          Nope, if you don’t want to pay the taxes on it; you forfeit the prize. That’s per the contestant agreement.

    7. Purest Green*

      If I were one of the employees who is ineligible for these free (non-business) trips, and then my company allows those people to go without using their vacation time, I’d be dissatisfied to say the least.

      1. Bookworm*

        Yes, I’m surprised to not see this mentioned more often. Imagine how discouraging it would be for other departments to watch one team enjoy twice the vacation they got. That would be a surefire recipe for not being able to retain quality canidates in those roles.

    8. jm*

      I disagree on #3 as well. From a sales perspective, if the people winning the trips are top performers being rewarded for meeting/exceeding sales goals, why can’t the employer throw in some free vacation time as an extra reward? It might inspire other salespeople in the company to meet/exceed their goals as well.
      I would find it frustrating that an outside company would recognize my hard work in a generous way, but my own company would not be fully supportive of me enjoying the reward by offering extra vacation time.

      1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Vacation time isn’t free to the company, especially sales vacation time, which carries and actual hard cost of what the employee didn’t sell during those days.

        There’s no reason for the company to spend their own money to support the mfg’s incentive plan. Now if the mfg wants to also compensate the company for the employee vacation time, sure why not, cough up the cash.

        1. jm*

          I understand your point — being away from the office, using free vacation leave, could potentially cause a drop in sales for the next month. However, if these folks are truly driven, self-motivated sales people performing at the highest level, a few days off probably won’t hinder their sales. If anything, they will come back rested, and be motivated them to do even better.

          My sister-in-law has been in sales for 10 years, and has won these sorts of trips. Her company already gives her 5 weeks of PTO each year, but they also give her vacation leave to take the trips, because she is exceptionally good at her job, and makes tons of money for her company and for the companies that produce the products that her company sells.

          I’m just saying — don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. I’ve seen salespeople in companies I’ve worked for go WAY above and beyond expectations because they were rewarded and appreciated. I can totally see the salespeople at OP3’s company saying, wow, this outside manufacturer appreciates me so much they are giving me a free trip, but my own company can’t cough up a few vacation days?

          1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

            And,we’re at a point where we can agree. Heavy hitters get accommodations. We don’t typically carry vacation days over. My top sales rep last year asked if she could carry days since she wanted to keep selling in December of the holidays. I told her don’t even worry about it because I’d sign for whatever she wanted to take whenever in 2016, no matter how many days.

            Where we part is that I wouldn’t, as policy, match extra vacation days to a mfg incentive unless that incentive also lined up, specifically, with our internal goals ( a joint incentive).

            1. jm*

              Exactly. In my mind, if I was sales manager, I would tell my salespeople that Bob’s Teapot Glue is offering an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii if they sell X number of tubes of glue in September. And our company, Teapot Repair Ltd., will match that incentive by giving those who meet the goal five free/extra vacation days to use on the Hawaii trip.

        2. JessaB*

          Sometimes being able to handle or mitigate the boss is worth it, although someone higher up might talk to that one about using “boss managing behaviour” on people who are not boss.

  13. 4WordsUp*

    OP #1: I think it’s great what you’re doing for this employee, but I want to ask: if Employee B came up to you and said “I’m searching for a new job for X reason and I’d like to leave for interviews like [Original Employee]” would you be able to approve that request? If not, I’d probably tell your employee not to spread it around.

  14. Katie the Sensual Wristed Fed*

    #1 – you need to terminate his employment. You’ve let it gone on long enough, and you have a duty to the other employees to do something about it.

    I currently have the office hot potato on my team – I’m really annoyed about it but management thought I could do something with him. So I did – he’s on a PIP and I’m moving forward with the intent that if he doesn’t show serious improvement soon, he’ll be terminated.

    I know it sucks, but we’re not running a charity jobs program. We need people to perform at their jobs and if they can’t, well….they need to find something they can do.

    1. Rebecca*

      Yes! It is not a charity jobs program! Or a daycare center! Thank you so much for this, and I’m sure your team is grateful for your approach.

  15. Evie*

    Are the trips for the employee (or employee +family alone) or are representatives from the sponsoring company there as well? If there are I assuming there is networking happening right? That would change my answer.

    1. CMT*

      But not all networking is going to benefit the employer. And even if it does, is the benefit greater than the cost of paying extra vacation time?

  16. Hotel GM Guy*

    I feel your pain, OP#2 (to a degree). It’s unreasonable to expect your company to move again after 3 weeks, but minimum transfer periods do suck.

    The C-level guys (who have been here less than a year) in my company laid off 65% of our VP-level management (moving in a different direction, and the VP’s that were let go didn’t move in the new direction fast enough). While it sucks, especially because my direct VP was a guy that would go to bat for you, it means that lots of jobs opened up, and it has been made known that the intention is to fill all of those positions with internal candidates (current property managers and regional directors, and then replace the property managers from candidates outside of the company). I, meanwhile, transferred into my position 8 months ago, and I’m not eligible to leave to go elsewhere in the company for another 4 months, which totally blows. The rule makes sense in some contexts, but in this situation, where I’ve been with the company for 5 years, and I’m not able to put in for a regional-level position until February, really grinds my gears. (of course, who knows? In 4 months, there may still be open positions)

  17. Rebecca*

    #1 Please let this person go, yesterday. My “manager” leaves things like this go for months or years at a time, all because she thinks she’s being kind to the poor person and doesn’t want to fire him or her because they have a house payment, car payment, kids in college, etc. The last person to go actually put her feet up on her desk and texted, rather than working, despite multiple “retraining” opportunities. One memorable time, she posted on Facebook while a manager was giving her a list of things to do over the phone. She just blew it off. She’s finally gone, and surprise – no impact to our work. We have no idea what took so long. Keeping dead weight just makes your productive employees resentful.

    #5 “And in particularly dysfunctional workplaces, it’s because they take resignations as personal betrayals.”

    I’d love to print this off and put it on my manager’s chair. The same manager who flipped out when she found out I had an interview, just an interview! She paced around, yelled at me, said I was a traitor, and that “family doesn’t do this to family” (no, I’m not related in any way, shape, or form to the owners). I have another interview this morning, and to tell the truth, I dread the idea of giving notice. If I am offered the job, and accept, I’ll be ready to walk out the door when I give notice in case she goes off the rails again. I hate feeling like that. I am an employee, not a possession, and I provide labor in exchange for payment. It’s not personal.

    1. Thornus*

      Yeah, that #5. I work in a very small office. A worker left in May 2014. He gave the job about four weeks notice. The owners called us in on Easter Sunday just to tell us that he was leaving. The oldest owner said the following things:
      1. That our type of work is the kind that really needs three to six months notice (it’s not. it really isn’t)
      2. That if ever asked to be a reference for the worker that he would respond by saying that he thinks the guy is a great worker and incredibly gifted in our industry but that he didn’t like how he left (all he did was give four weeks notice; he even still consults with us on a few matters!)
      3. That if any of us were thinking of leaving that we should tell him right then and there.

  18. Zana*


    I think it should depend on how much pressure/expectation there is on the employee to take the prize. If they can say ‘well, actually, I’m saving my vacation time for Cancun in June’ and there are no hard feelings, fair enough for vacation leave. But if there is a HUGE expectation they take it otherwise the company that provided it will be offended and they are essentially having their next choice of holiday location and time dictated to them, I’d wouldn’t be making them use holiday pay.

    1. Rebecca*

      I think this is a good compromise. At least allow the employee to decline the trip, gracefully.

  19. Transit Whisperer*

    Re: Letter #5: In the event of being walked out on the spot, couldn’t you potentially collect unemployment benefits for the notice period?

    1. J.B.*

      Yes, but is it really worth it for two weeks? Alison h as provided suggested language before along the lines of “two weeks notice would be x but it’s common for my employer to terminate people immediately. If that happens would you want me to start sooner?” Or plan on taking a little break (if possible financially). The key is mainly to get personal stuff out of the office before giving notice.

      1. Liane*

        Also many (all?) states do not pay unemployment for the first week you are out of work, and all reduce your benefit for a week in which you receive pay, including holiday, vacation, and severance. Which means with a two week notice, you will get 1 week unemployment but only if the company didn’t pay you for the notice. Really not worth it.

        But it would be worth it if you gave a long notice period, OldJob isn’t paying out your notice period, and/or you cannot start early at NewJob.

    2. Xarcady*

      That’s a good point. I think it depends on the unemployment regulations in each state.

      One place I worked, one of the weakest performers gave a month’s notice. Everyone was relieved, because she did so little work and what she did was full of mistakes. The company owner decided to shorten the notice period to two weeks.

      And then the owner was surprised to find out the ex-employee could file for unemployment. Because by changing the length of the notice period, the employer terminated the employment, not the employee.

    3. Crazy Canuck*

      In Canada, if an employer modifies your notice period, the employee is no longer considered to have quit, they have been fired without cause. (Assuming they didn’t quit just to avoid being fired for cause.) This requires the employer to pay out the notice period as well as leaving the employee qualified for employment insurance.

  20. Anon 2*

    #4 – I expense everything, but alcohol and incidentals. So mileage to and from the airport, parking, meals, tips for meals, hotel housekeeping staff, etc., all get expensed. We don’t have a daily cap, although typically I try and keep my expenses to the IRS. limits when possible.

    The only things I’d check on is the alcohol and other incidentals (newspapers, coffee, etc). Some companies will reimburse these things, but others, like my own employer, will not.

    1. Christopher Tracy*

      If my company hadn’t paid for my Starbucks while I was in LA and Vegas, I would have died. $7+ for a tall latte?! I almost had a heart attack.

      1. Anon 2*

        We had to cut out reimbursing those kind of things, because we had a few staff who really abused that sort of thing. It’s one thing to go and get a morning coffee, but we started having staff that would be making starbuck’s runs every couple of hours. Now, if you want a latte from Starbucks you are welcome to get one and expense it, providing that it’s part of a meal (breakfast or lunch). We also make sure that drinks (soda, water, coffee) are available during the day at no charge to staff.

        We also cut out the ability to expense meals if one was being provided for you. So if you go to a conference and there is meal being provided you can’t expense that meal. We aren’t hard asses about it (so if someone explains that the food was horrible or they couldn’t eat because of allergies, etc.), but we also found that we had some staff who were skipping meals included in a registration fee, so that they could go for a meal with their friends.

        1. Christopher Tracy*

          Ah, I see. I still think it sucks that your policy changed for everyone just because of a few bad apples – why not just either limit the travel of those employees or limit what they can spend when traveling?

        2. Retail HR Guy*

          We’ve had employees who would actually go to the grocery store while on a business trip in order to make breakfasts and lunches like normal (prepped sandwiches, etc.) so that they could instead claim expensive Starbucks trips as “meals”.

          If I remember correctly we just rolled our eyes and paid it.

          1. Turanga Leela*

            I totally understand that. If your hotel room has a microwave and a mini-fridge, you can make a very acceptable dinner… but the coffee fix at the meeting is non-negotiable. :)

            1. Bellatrix*

              Spot on Leela :)

              Lot’s of people don’t want restaurant food – they don’t like the taste, have allergies or are sticking to a diet. But why shouldn’t they even out the cost difference with a little treat (that has listed allergens and nutritional information)?

      2. Turanga Leela*

        This happened to me! I was at a conference in Vegas and breakfast wasn’t provided, so I ran down to my hotel coffee shop to get a tea and a muffin. It was $11. I was so embarrassed submitting that receipt…

  21. Fabulous*

    #4 – I used to work as the Travel & Expense person for a very travel-heavy employer. There is probably a policy in place within the company explaining exactly what can and cannot be submitted for reimbursement. If there isn’t a specific T&E person or department at your company, check with Accounts Payable since it is usually tied in with them fairly closely.

    Here are some of the reimbursable items from my prior job: airfare, hotel, car rental, taxi service to/from the airport or hotel, all meals (with $ limits for each meal, and limit of 2 alcoholic beverages), dry cleaning for extended trips, groceries (if you wanted to do that instead of individual meals), bus or train fare, checked luggage (up to one bag).

    Things that were not reimbursable: movie rentals at the hotel, minibar items, seat upgrades on flights (unless approved), meals outrageously over the $ limit, bar tabs, and general other “fun” things.

    1. yasmara*

      Yes, you really need to investigate this with your employer BEFORE you leave on your trip. I work for a very large company and back when we had to claim specific receipts, we were *not* actually allowed to claim lunch, on the grounds that we would normally eat lunch at the office. As someone who almost always brought my own lunch from home, I was annoyed. Several years ago, however, we switched to a per diem system. Now there’s a given per diem (daily dollar amount) based on your travel work location (which you can look up in our internal system). It’s adjusted on travel days (i.e., if you leave at 9pm, you get nothing because according to the company, you should have already eaten all your meals for the day) and also adjusted if your hotel provides breakfast included with the room rate (of if you’re taken out for dinner by a client or executive). I’m sure some people don’t like it because it’s harder to game the system, but I think it’s great. No one asks me if I had wine with dinner or how many glasses or how I split my lunch/dinner allotment…because they don’t care. I also don’t have to save my food receipts because they don’t care. We do save all transportation/hotel/other receipts and are encouraged to take cheaper methods of ground transport, but as a woman who is usually traveling alone, I have NEVER been questioned for taking a taxi. Bottom line, this is not an unusual thing to ask about before you take a trip – in fact, it would be weirder if you don’t ask & then make a mistake! My husband got dinged by his manager for not parking in a long-term shuttle-to-the-airport parking lot, for example. His previous company had let him park in the closer attached lot, and he never bothered to ask the new company. He was pretty firmly told to stop doing it (and that he should have known better) after his first few trips.

    2. ceiswyn*

      What was the policy on kennel/cattery fees?

      I’m not in a travelling role, but there have been a couple of occasions on which my company has sent me on business trips. Both times I expensed my cattery fees; both times I got a warning from Finance along the lines of ‘We’ll cover it this once but don’t try that again’.

      I don’t get it. I’m a single person without local friends/family, and with three elderly cats. Cattery fees are an additional expense I’m incurring because my employers want to send me somewhere. Why should I not be able to charge the expense to the entity that’s making me incur it?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        As a dog owner, I’d love it if my employer reimbursed kennel fees. But it doesn’t really make sense. Having children or pets or plants that need watering or a lawn that needs mowing aren’t “required” aspects of a trip in the way that eating and sleeping and using transportation are.

        1. ceiswyn*

          But the upshot is that the employee is out of pocket – possibly significantly – as a result of a business commitment. Isn’t that exactly what expenses are intended to avoid?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Theoretically, you’re right. In practice, for whatever reason, the convention is that it’s just not done. I don’t know why (I suspect it has something to do with these practices being formed when the assumption was that the business traveler had a wife at home to take care of these things), but the reality still is that that’s not typically included in reimbursable expenses.

            1. Retail HR Guy*

              I also think part of it is that most people with kids and pets also have spouses/partners, which means it’s more or less business as normal for the remaining partner while the traveling employee is gone. And many of those without partners at least have friends/family that can help with these things (grandparents watching the kids, local friend dropping by to feed the cats and water the plants, etc.). So the unlucky few that don’t have any support network at all get forgotten about or short-changed simply because they are outside the norm.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Isn’t that exactly what expenses are intended to avoid?

            Are they? I think there’s a philosophical difference of opinion. I believe employers have no intention of making sure you have no out-of-pocket expenses when you have to be away from home. If so, they’re doing a pretty bad job of it. ;-) I think their intent is to get you where you need to go, and make sure you can do what you need to do while you’re there. So they’ll pay for food and hotel and transportation and schmoozing, but not for the comfortable shoes I needed for a trade show, and not for someone to mow the law, even though those are expenses I wouldn’t have if I (or Mr. Shackelford) weren’t traveling.

            1. aelle*

              That’s a great way to put it. Travel expenses are meant to cover for the cost of doing the business that the travel is for. The rest is on your own dime.

              Expensing your pet-sitting fees when traveling would be like expecting your employer to pay for your children’s daycare so that you can be in the office from 9-5. Now we can talk about whether that would be a good thing, but it’s just not the norm today.

          3. KellyK*

            I think Alison’s probably right that it’s a matter of convention rather than a logical rule. If there is a logical chain of reasoning behind it, it’s probably that there’s a difference between things that are inherent to travel, like food or transportation, and places where travel intersects your life and responsibilities.

            I personally tend to think that companies should be flexible on those sorts of expenses when they’re sending you on travel that’s last-minute or otherwise unusual for your role, but I wouldn’t expect it as the norm.

            1. ceiswyn*

              Travel is highly unusual for my role; I wouldn’t take a role that required it, because of said four-legged responsibilities and lack of nearby support structure :)

              I’d actually think there was more of a case for not expensing food.

        2. ceiswyn*

          (And alternative B – “I don’t want to be out of pocket on cattery fees, so I won’t be going” – doesn’t exactly go down any better :) )

        3. Lora*

          Dear employers who love to come up with Silicon Valley-like perks: a house-sitter/dog walker service while I am away on business trips would be most appreciated.

          There’s a few companies in my area, all pharma, who make a point of offering perks like subsidized public transit passes and free catered lunches. I am fine with packing leftovers for lunch the next day, but if someone would at least subsidize my house-sitting while I’m away, that would be fantastic. Also if they had a service lined up so I don’t have to do anything other than email my trip itinerary, that would be fantastic. Right now it takes a couple days of frantic phone calls before I can go anywhere, and occasionally my bosses are annoyed that I cannot just pick up and leave.

      2. Fabulous*

        Kennel fees weren’t even addressed in our policy, so I don’t know!! On those instances, I would imagine it’d be something to run by the T&E/Accounts Payable Manager to see if it’s possible for reimbursement since it’s a special circumstance.

      3. chickabiddy*

        I wasn’t allowed to expense childcare fees, which is reasonable. So I also don’t think expensing pet care fees is reasonable.

  22. Mark in Cali*

    #2 – I hope OP will add some comments on here because I’m very curious: where did OP learn that getting a job and moving up after 6 months and then again after 3 weeks is normal? I don’t think we are supposed to assume things like this but OP sounds like a recent college grad (talking about “life changing” pay, e.g.).

    Is this the job-hopping-Mellenial-type that people are saying are becoming a problem, or is this normal for some industries?

    I think the company is to blame too because the manager who hired OP and made them feel so empowered that after 6 months they could be promoted needed to work on their constructive feedback, and the manager that took OP in their department after 6 months needs to keep the whole business in mind, not just their needs.

    This situation could look very different if OP has years and years of experience and just needed a foot in the door, but it doesn’t sound like it from the context.

    1. Jen RO*

      This would be a huge red flag in my company. If I were a manager and someone who had been in another department for 3 (!!) weeks, after 6 months in another one, I would not touch them with a 10-foot pole. What if my department was just a springboard for the next “life changing” opportunity? No thanks.

      (We do have a policy that you need to be a in a role for 1 year before you can apply to other internal postings.)

    2. Pwyll*

      I’m not sure the first move was such a huge management failure. There could be all sorts of reasons why the first move made sense: perhaps the employee’s skillset more closely matched the second job, and her first job was comparatively easy to fill in the market. Perhaps they were in a bind to get someone for job 2 ASAP and this employee fit the bill. Who knows?

      If this is a larger company, her immediate management may not even know that she was internally applying for jobs in other departments. When I worked for a large telecom firm, I could internally apply for jobs and my manager would never know unless I made it to the second-stage interview. And while HR should have nipped the constant applications in the bud, it’s certainly possible their HR didn’t connect the dots on how many applications she put in.

      Sounds to me like they made the right call in stopping the second move, though.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’d like to know that too. I’m almost wondering if she saw her first job as a “foot in the door” type thing with the intention of moving up to the job she //really// wanted.

    4. michelenyc*

      Most of the companies I have worked for had a standard policy that your manager had to sign off/give their blessing for you to apply for a new position. If you applied after only a few months you would get a call from HR letting you know that you were not eligible. Minimum time in a position has always been 1 year.

    5. all aboard the anon train*

      For my industry, it’s not unusual for someone in an entry level position to be promoted between the 6 month – 1 year status, but this also depends on a lot of different factors. I was promoted after 6 months, but I also came into that entry level job with two years of experience previously. Candidates right out of college will usually stay in the position a year to two years unless they’re very good. A lot of the lower positions have quick promotion cycles of a year or two until you get somewhere mid-level. But I know this isn’t standard for every industry, nor is it standard for every department in my current company.

      But OP2 sounds like one of my current coworkers. She just turned 25 and complains about not being promoted quick enough because I think she was told in college and by parents/friends/partners that if you get your foot in the door and do a good job, you should be promoted quickly. She’s used similar “betrayed” language about how she can’t get a “life changing” salary (she recently said she was asking for $90K at different companies in our industry which is what low-level Asst VP/Asst Directors make, not people with three to five years of experience). I’m only five years older than her, and we’re both Millennials, so I don’t know if it’s a Millennial thing so much as a personality thing.

      1. Mark in Cali*

        Yeah, I just used the Millennial word for effect (I’m considered one too and certainly wouldn’t expect to be promoted after 6 months), so sounds like a dud a personality to me too.

        Heck, I’ve been in my job for two years now as an associate and don’t feel right about apply for new jobs yet! That said, I have total control over my finances and while a $10K raise wouldn’t hurt, it wouldn’t be “life changing,” so I’m not constantly looking for the next salary bump.

          1. Mark in Cali*

            Just a euphemism for “entitled young person,” which I’m sure has spanned every generation.

  23. Jennifer M.*

    OP 4 – Please do refer to your company manual! If business travel is something that this company does, they will have a written policy. My company’s policy is that we follow the Federal Travel Regulations because we are government contractors. We are allowed to expense tranpso to/from office and airport, but transpo to meals is not expensable unless the purpose of the meal is to meet with an outside party to discuss business. We are also required to turn in our airplane boarding passes to prove that we took the flight that we are expensing (ie that we didn’t cash in the ticket, buy a cheaper one – even on the same airline – and pocket the difference) because that way they can match the ticket # on the boarding pass to the one on the booking records.

  24. MarketingGirl*

    #4 – Do you travel with your boss or any other higher ups? In addition to whatever policies your company might have, how they spend is a great indicator of what you can be spending too. My boss is more than happy to approve my spend at a Hudson News on magazines and snacks for a long flight in addition to meals before and after, but others may not be as generous. I extended a business trip into a personal trip and still expensed a few meals (within reason!) and all my travel to and from the airport and home, despite technically using PTO. I used to feel funny about expensing some of these things, especially my taxis from the airport after extending a trip as a personal one, and felt like I was “taking advantage” of my company. But I’ve learned that my boss WANTS me to expense these items and would do the same for himself.

    Also, like others said, save every receipt!!

    1. MarketingGirl*

      Another good example- I left my reusable water bottle on the plane one trip. I noticed as soon as we got our baggage. I was disappointed but no big deal. My boss on the other hand insisted that we buy a new one on the company card. His reasoning was that losing things on business trips could make you feel bitter (especially since we travel often) and that the cost to the company was minimal to keep my spirits up during our trips. Definitely a little bit of a stretch in his reasoning but I would have never considered expensing a $30 water bottle! In his mind though, it was completely necessary.

    2. Christopher Tracy*

      I extended a business trip into a personal trip and still expensed a few meals (within reason!) and all my travel to and from the airport and home, despite technically using PTO.

      When I’ve done this, the only things I’ve been allowed to expense were the plane ticket and transportation. I wasn’t allowed to expense meals on the PTO portion of my trip or my hotel cost, which makes sense since I wasn’t technically working then. I wish I could have expensed my meals, though!

  25. HRChick*

    #2 is giving me a flashback to my last job. Worked for a government contractor and part of my job was closing and opening contracts.

    The project manager had been transferred and transferred because he was a “good guy” and “everyone liked him” even though he’d been shown to be fairly incompetent.

    I kept catching him using funding from closed contracts for current contracts – it was either because he just didn’t remember to change the chargeline or to cover budgeting errors, not sure which. I reported it, but it was always “Oh, Kevin? Please pay more attention and don’t do that anymore.”

    Finally, I had enough and emailed it to the Ethics department along with a spreadsheet that showed the whole impact and what was taken from where. Then there was a “panel” to figure out what happened – a panel that was made up of the same people who would always say, “Kevin? He’s such a nice guy!”

    During my interview with the panel, I was asked if I maybe “confused” Kevin with my spreadsheet – a spreadsheet he never saw” – and the rest of the discussion was on how great of a guy Kevin was. It was humiliating. I knew exactly where I stood. Nothing was done – it was just a mistake because I had confused Kevin. I was told not to do that anymore, conversation ended.

    I ended up having to report him to the Ethics department a second time. The Director of Ethics called me and asked me what the heck had happened with the panel. I told her.

    Kevin’s manager and manager’s manager ended up losing control of a bunch of contracts. Kevin was transferred to a new manager. I could often hear him calling my manager and complaining about how unreasonable she was (she didn’t take excuses).

    Work was never the same after that. I left that job soon after because I was being frozen out and my every move was scrutinized.

    Not the same as the OP’s situation, but I just want to let the OP know that for every position your Kevin was shifted to, there was someone having to cover for him. There was someone who had to work harder because of his presence. And that someone just kept hearing about what a nice guy Kevin was.

    1. anonderella*

      Wow, so sorry that has happened to you!
      It feels so ridiculous to not even be able to depend on the teams/boards/etc that were supposed to prevent this stuff from happening. My story is not like the OP’s, as my coirker was actually horrible, but how I was let down by my managers felt similar to yours, HRChick.

      I was brand new to waitressing, and had to pull a double one day; I worked the morning shift alone and was supposed to be relieved for lunch by another waitress, newer than me but a bit older & with more past experience, and later in the evening a ‘manager waitress’ was supposed to join us and close the restaurant for the night.
      On this day, Other Waitress came in on drugs. Now, I was all about some libation in my late teenagery years, but holy crap on a cow – she was doing stuff like taking a drink order and then immediately walking to the back booth and laying her head down on her folded arms. Like, it should have been comical, but it wasn’t. To be clear, this was not how she behaved normally; nor was it either alcohol or weed, but a certain something notorious for making you *forget* what you were doing & what you did, if that gives any hints.

      I told my manager what I was seeing – about the tenth time *I’d* gotten yelled at by customers for her mistake was enough of “helping her out” – and told him I *had* to go on my lunch break, no way could I work from 8 am to 10 pm with no break and no sitting down (just getting the irony there, considering what the other girl was doing). I wasn’t sure what to do with the money from my first shift, and my manager (should have mentioned he was normally the ‘head’ cook, but filled in for the ‘manager’ – usually another waitress – when scheduled to do so) said he didn’t know how to work the register (probably because it wasn’t his job), and I would have to wait until the manager came in for the night shift. So, I was told to leave my money near the register, where we had a working camera surveilling. So I did – red flags for those of you who have had these jobs, but this was my very first waitress job.
      Well, she took it – all my money except the $20 you’re given to start your ‘bank’ – & o, vengeance of the gods, when you’re making $10/hour including tips at a Podunk restaurant in Podunk town, MS, I was beyond irate about my $40. The camera hadn’t caught her – she blocked it as she blatantly went through my ‘book’; the cameras *had* caught her stealing votive candles from a cabinet, but this was deemed ‘unrelated to my complaint’. It took weeks of this behavior, despite her getting caught stealing/doing other stuff in that meantime, for her to be terminated. It was beyond stressful to work with her, and I consider it a personal victory that I kept my cool at that age.

      The only upside to the story was me being the one on shift when she came in for her last paycheck – and getting to make a Joker smile worthy of Jared Leto’s nightmares as I handed it over.

  26. Tiny_Tiger*

    OP #4: I used to (and still sometimes do) take care of expenses for salesmen in the company I work for. Ours is a pretty open policy on what you can label as an expense. Unless it’s something you’re getting strictly for your entertainment (souvenirs, movies, etc.) it falls under the expense category. Any and all food you purchase while there is usually covered. Definitely check with your boss on the guidelines but I doubt there will be an issue with you using reimbursement to cover food.

  27. michelenyc*

    #5 – It is very common in fashion and activewear/sportswear companies. I will say that is far more prevalent in the sportswear world. Everyone in the industry knows that you leave one large PNW sports company to go to the one across the river you will be asked to leave either that day or within 24 hours. You are thanked for your 2 weeks notice and receive your final check that includes your full 2 weeks pay and any PTO that needs to be paid out. It happened to me so I made sure to have my desk packed up when I went in to give my notice since I wasn’t sure if I would be asked to leave immediately or the next day. When you are in product development, sourcing, or a designer you are asked to leave within a couple of hours.

  28. Kyrielle*

    Re #3, is there a way for these employees to decline if they don’t want the trip? I’m thinking if you “win” the trip and don’t take it – you may still face the tax burden from it. In which case you now have an incentive *not* to sell….

  29. Menacia*

    OP1, likeability is overrated, especially if the person has not done well in any of the myriad of jobs he’s been placed in. I can only imagine what this guy is thinking from his end, but you have got to cut the cord on this one. And don’t just hire someone based on their likeability, performability is a much better attribute for an employee to have.

  30. Imma Little Teapot*

    To OP #5… Letting someone go on the spot is really, really common in a sales-driven field. In my time in investment and insurance sales, it was pretty much a given. The worry was that you’d take contacts or leads with you when you left. Whenever a broker left, they usually had plans in place to take clients long before notifying anyone that they were resigning. We used to joke that if a broker was cleaning up his or her office, they’d likely be handing in their keys next. The only exceptions were when people were leaving to go to a different type of industry altogether or type of position within the company.

  31. Sketchee*

    I once did change positions twice within a company with in a year. The first promotion was after 3 months and I hadn’t even applied for it. They offered me the job after interviewing several internal candidates. During that period, I had taken over a lot of the duties of the position. I didn’t even realize that because I was so new! They even paid me retroactively for my new position.

    Six months later, the perfect opportunity came up which was the exact type of work I wanted to do. I didn’t just apply. I discussed with HR and they said that they highly recommended I apply. The policy said that I had to also discuss with my manager, who supported me even though she wished I’d stay.

    After interviewing, they decided I didn’t have the exact experience yet that they needed. So they hired another candidate. They created a new position for me that allowed me to work in the new department part time. The rest of the time, I worked in a third department where I gained valuable skills. During a restructuring, a year or so later I finally transitioned into my goal roal and have done that work for many years now

  32. EddieSherbert*

    OP #5: One thing to keep in mind!

    I wouldn’t suggest you or anyone put in the two weeks and then plan to start your new job within those two weeks – because you’re expecting to get walked out right away.

    I had this dilemma at my OldJob – I had seen multiple people walked out the day they put in their notice. I had this dilemma. Decided I’d put in the two weeks and just get two weeks “vacation” when they walked me out, and then start the new job.

    Thank goodness I did. I put in the notice. They said, “okay, sounds good.” and I worked the two full weeks before the end date I gave them. My coworkers and I were shocked! None of us knew anyone that hadn’t been walked out that day, regardless of their role. People in my role had been walked out before. No clue why I wasn’t.

    But I’ve imagined what a mess I would have made if I HAD planned things during those two weeks… I mean, what do you do then?!

    “Oh, no, whoops. Actually, I lied, I need to leave right now because I planned things during the two weeks I told you I’d be here and hoped you’d walk me out right away.”

  33. Patrick*

    In regards to #1 we had an employee in a similar spot and it ended up (kinda) blowing up in our faces last year. Everyone liked him personally and he was good at entry level tasks but just wasn’t able to progress past entry level after a few years. I (and my boss at the time as well) helped him get interviews in other areas of the company (unlike the employee in the letter he was a little more resistant to moving, to be honest.)

    When it came down to telling him he had 8 weeks left he freaked out and was crying in the office. I think a lot of this was unrealistic expectations on his part, but I also think the act of trying to find him a new position without giving him a firm exit date up front gave him the impression that he could “save” his job or that we were guaranteeing him a job with the company in some way.

    Now I know that while it’s important to be humane when letting someone go on a longer timetable, it’s also important to be (very) direct about the situation. I think in some cases it can also confuse things to shift people around too much, we’ve had a few examples of employees getting convinced that they were valued above the job they were hired to do, if that makes sense.

    It really sucks when trying to be (overly?) kind blows up on you, and it’s certainly not a reason to be kind going forward, but remember being direct can also be a kindness when it comes to someone’s livelihood.

  34. Gene*

    I’d be concerned if I worked for one of those managers who typically fires employees with no severance immediately after they turned in their notice that I’d turn in my notice planning on starting the new job the following week and she’d break form and expect me to work out the notice period.

    “Umm, sorry, I can’t do that. I expected you to immediately fire me like you did Prlicla and Thornnaster when they gave notice. So I’m starting $Newjob on Monday.” There’s a bridge burned.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, I’d set start date with $NewJob based on the 2-weeks notice, but also (if I didn’t want the gap) advise them that $OldJob often did this and ask if I could contact them about starting early if that happened.

      As long as I could afford the risk that maybe that wouldn’t work for them, and I’d have to be out two weeks of pay in that case.

  35. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    Our company occasionally gives a four-day reward trip to a limited number of employees. I was not asked to take my own personal vacation time – but some managers DID ask others to do so, and they just declined the trip.

    Understandable. If your vacation time is limited – use it for your family, not business.

  36. Phoenix Feather*

    OP #4 – I would highly suggest funding a separate checking account strictly for business expenses. Feed it once with a simple deposit (say $1000) and conduct ALL business-related expenses out of that account. Reimbursements go back in that account. It stays separate from your other accounts. In fact, I use a different bank altogether for mine. I have a debit card that I can use when needed and receipts go directly to my work email account. If your company is currently booking all travel ahead of time for you, that’s great, but if they ever decide (or if something happens and you need to drop money on a changed flight or unexpected rental car or different hotel) to just reimburse after the fact, a separate account will protect your living expenses.

    I work for a state university that has tight restrictions on travel. We are required to go through certain vendors that will direct bill the school’s accounting office. However, due to the nature of our business, it’s common for plans to change rapidly and employees can incur expenses at the time of travel. In 2009-2010, with the economy struggling and our school fighting a cash shortage (and furloughs), some employees did not get reimbursed for months but had to continue travel. They did not having savings set up ahead of time and were effectively loaning the school their own money to conduct business.

    My point is that ANY business can find itself with a financial situation in a very short period of time. Self-funding a travel reimbursement account helps you keep your own head above water should your employer find itself unable to reimburse in a timely manner.

  37. Chris*

    #1, perhaps it’s because I’m in the middle of a long, difficult job search, but you’re doing no one any favors by keeping him around. It’s not the right job for him. You know that, he knows that. Sure, “he’s nice”, but there are surely nice people who need the job AND can do it well. You’ve been more than fair, be honest, and gracefully pull the plug.

    It will be hard, but when isn’t it?

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