should I warn someone he might be fired, coworkers are lying about their job titles on LinkedIn, and more

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

1. Should I warn someone he might be fired?

I have this new employee who has performance issues — bad communication, questions showing that he actually does not understand what he is working on (although it is his core tasks), loads of errors, very slow pace, among other things. I am working on improvements, both on his and my side. The thing is that if no improvement happens, this employee will be let go.

I am wondering if I should tell him that. My opinion is that I prefer to be absolutely clear, to not surprise him by letting him go if it comes to that. Another manager I work closely with is of the opinion that telling him that he could be let go is actually counterproductive, as it would be a big demotivator and the employee would start looking for another job straight away.

You absolutely should let him know. That’s not a conversation that anyone enjoys, but it’s a huge disservice to not be clear with him. You might be thinking that he’ll figure it out on his own, but an awful lot of people don’t and then are blindsided when they’re fired. If you do end up having to fire him, you don’t want that to be a surprise to him — you want it to be the next part of a discussion that’s already been ongoing.

It doesn’t sound like you’re using a formal performance improvement plan, but if you were, it should spell out a specific timeline and the specific changes that must be made for him to keep his job at the end of that timeline. In a situation where you’re not using a formal plan, you can say something like this: “I’m hopeful that you’ll be able to make the improvements we’ve discussed. But I also I want to be transparent with you that these issues are serious enough that they could jeopardize your job, and if we’re not able to make strong progress on this path over the next month, we’d need to discuss a transition out of the role. That said, I’m committed to working with you to help get your work to where we need it, and I hope that we can make it work.” These are hard words to say, and I’d recommend practicing them ahead of time or you may find that you soften them in the moment, to the point that the message is lost.

And yes, he may indeed start looking for another job, and that’s part of the point. You want him to have advance notice that that’s something that would be smart for him to do, so that he’s not starting from scratch the day you let him go. If you’re worried he’ll leave before you would have fired him — or that he’ll leave even if he’s improving enough for you to keep him — that’s just part of how this works. Typically it’s not going to be an enormous loss to you because he wasn’t working at a high level, but even aside from that, it’s just basic decency to give someone the info to make good decisions for himself.

More here.

2. My coworkers are lying about their job titles on LinkedIn

Last month, my coworkers and I learned that the company we work at was acquired and will be closing in mid-December. All of us are looking for new jobs in the same industry. Everyone is stressed about getting work, and lots of us in my department are applying to the same companies and jobs. Most of us are in our 20s and this is our first job out of college.

I was a Teapot Maker for three years, and after a lengthy internal interview process have been one of my company’s two Teapot Leads for the last year. I’m hoping this experience will help make my next job an upward career step. However, this last week I noticed that at least three Teapot Makers who have been here a shorter time than me are listing their current job title as “Teapot Lead” on their online resumes or LinkedIn profiles. They are all from my old team and I still get together with them outside of work sometimes, which makes it feel extra awkward.

This sucks, because if we interview for the same job and I describe my projects and leadership responsibilities, the manager may assume the other “Teapot Leads” from the same company probably have similar daily responsibilities (which they don’t). Also, if a potential employer checks (which not all do), our HR generalist will not verify that job title for them anyway. All I can really do is focus my effort into my resumes and interviews and try not to let this frustrate me, but do you have any other tips about how to handle a situation like this?

Ick. Normally I’d say to stay out of what other people do on LinkedIn, but in this case (a) they’re friends and (b) they’re directly competing with you for jobs. Given that context, I don’t think it would be out of line to say, “Hey, I noticed you’re listing your title on LinkedIn as Teapot Lead. Did you get a promotion?” Assuming they did not in fact get a secret promotion and instead are lying, presumably at this point they’ll confess to inflating their title. You could then say, “Normally I’d stay out of this, but I feel a little awkward about knowing you’re doing that while we’re applying for the same jobs. And unselfishly, you could lose an offer if they verify your title in a reference check.”

Beyond that, though, I’d just focus on making sure that the same skills and qualities that got you promoted are apparent in interviews. You have a legitimate leg up on these coworkers not just in title but in experience and probably skills, so focus on bringing those things out. (I’d also avoid recommending your coworkers for jobs in the future, given their shady ethics.)

3. Spouses have to pay to attend company holiday party

I recently received an email from my husband about his company’s upcoming holiday party. Towards the end of the email, it repeatedly mentions that guests (including spouses) will have to pay $15 to attend. Is this normal? I know some companies (like mine) will limit their guest list to employees, but it seems odd to charge spouses to attend.

It’s not unheard of for companies to make people buy tickets to attend their holiday parties, although it’s pretty inhospitable. It’s also not totally unheard of to just charge for spouses, although it’s definitely less common, as it’s rude to divide guests into tiers. (And really, who is dying to go to their spouse’s office holiday party? No one.)

4. Company won’t do employment verification

The company I work for was recently acquired by another company. Nearly all of our staff has stayed the same, as have our duties, location, records, etc. Our HR guy recently let us know that he isn’t allowed to perform reference checks/employment verifications for the old company, or start dates if we started with the old company and stayed on during the merge. I’m assuming this is legal, unfortunately, but it’s definitely unusual and not cool, right? What would you recommend that we do when applying to new jobs? The previous owners are retired; they would probably be willing to verify for a couple people who they worked more closely with, but there are over 75 employees (not even counting former employees) affected by this.

Yep, definitely not cool. They’re potentially jeopardizing people’s ability to secure employment in the future.

I’d do a few things on your end: First, gather documentation now before you need it; payroll stubs and tax forms can be used to prove that you worked there during the period you say you worked there. Second, consider asking for a letter from the previous owners verifying your previous employment info, so that it’s on hand if you ever need it. And third, you’ll need to proactively explain the situation to future reference-checkers, but being able to offer up this alternative proof is likely to be enough.

5. Christmas and New Year’s day are Sundays this year … and it’s impacting our days off

This year, Christmas falls out on a Sunday. The federal holiday is observed the following Monday. Heres the problem: Today my boss decided that he doesn’t want to give us off that Monday. The same situation falls for New Year’s day. Some people in the office already put in for vacation the week between Christmas and New Year’s (December 26 – January 2) as far back as January.

My boss is away that whole time so won’t be in the office, something he has done for 30 years. This change is really unfair so late in the game. Now, whoever is taking off that whole week won’t get paid for that day because they already used up previous vacation time. He is a 20-person doctor’s office and some people say since he’s a small biz he can do what he wants.

Business size isn’t really in play here, other than the fact that small businesses often run less formally and have fewer checks and balances on spur-of-the-moment whims of a manager. But legally, there’s no difference.

Do you have anything in writing that promises you those days off? If so, some courts have held that promises made in employee handbooks (for example) can be binding, depending on the wording … but even then, it’s generally your employer’s prerogative to change that stuff, as long as they don’t do it retroactively.

Aside from the legalities, though, having something in writing can be helpful to point to when pushing back on this. You could say to him (ideally as a group), “Our office’s official list of days off includes federal holidays, and people have relied on that in their planning. If you want to change that for next year, of course you can, but it’s unfair to do it when people have planned around the information they’d been given.”

If you don’t have anything in writing, you could say something like, “People have made plans based on what the office practice has been for years now. It’s of course your prerogative to change it going forward, but it’s unfair to change it so late in the game this year when people have made plans that relied on how we’ve always done it.”

{ 387 comments… read them below }

  1. Artemesia

    For the smug doctor who wants to take the holiday season off but not accord his employees the Christmas and New Year’s holidays — I hope every one of his employees finds a better place to work over the holiday break. This is the sort of jerk who deserves to find himself with an office full of patients and no nurses, or admins or anyone to find the records or make the computers work. Any small businessman who uses ‘I can do whatever I want’ as his excuse for not according basic human decency in his treatment of staff deserves to be one of those people whining at his country club that you just can’t get good help any more.

    1. Former Retail Manager

      HA! I LOOOOOVEEEEE this comment. I deal with small business owners daily and this is a complaint that I hear often….”Good help is hard to find.” Oh, you mean that you pay them crap wages, offer crap benefits or any benefits for that matter, nickel and dime them to use their vacation time for holidays such as this if you even offer paid days off, and you are baffled at the high rate of turnover? Hmmmm?? Some of the W-2’s I’ve seen have nearly made me choke on my coffee. The wages have just been ridiculously low on top of no benefits and no paid time off in some cases. Ludicrous!

      The business owners I deal with typically operate similarly (I don’t personally care for doctors or attorneys, but we’ll leave that alone, as many other types of business owners do it as well) and will take substantial amounts of time off while making their employees come in even if the employees can’t do any real substantive work because the boss/owner isn’t there to see patients/clients, approve contracts, approve expenditures, etc. I think many are on a power trip or just oblivious because they have never worked a lower level job of a similar nature (once again those doctors and attorneys come to mind).

      1. Mike C.

        Yes, seriously. The absolute need for a security blanket in the form of employees being forced to come in during times when no work gets done is the real hallmark of these sorts of folks.

      2. Justin

        There’s a lot of sympathy for small businesses in this country, much of it deserved, but small business leaders can be terrible managers and many of them treat people horribly and just see their business as a way to enrich themselves.

        1. Dolorous Bread

          The pervasive political notion that small business owners automatically deserve our respect drives me up the wall. I’ve worked at more than one small business and I’ll take my big corporate job with an HR department and benefits over the insanity of small business owners any day. (#NotAllOwners, I know)

      3. Manders

        Oh wow, this was cathartic. I still hold a bit of a grudge against my old boss (who was also a doctor who owned a small business!) for taking so much time off, while leaving me at the office with nothing to do. And I know it WAS possible for the business to run without me now and then, because his two lazy kids seemed to be on vacation more than they were actually in the office.

        I think you’re absolutely right–the doctor had *never* been anything but a doctor in his entire professional life, and his kids had never worked for someone who wasn’t their lenient parent. They’re probably all sitting around complaining about staff turnover right now.

        1. Not the Droid You Are Looking For

          My first job out of college was a marketing coordinator position for a small business and there was virtually nothing to do when the owners were gone.

          I hated sitting around and doing nothing, so I would try to find things to do, but there are only so many times you can reorganize the kitchen.

          1. Manders

            Oh man, I have done exactly the same thing. One of my future career goals is “my work is in demand enough that I’ll never feel compelled to organize a back room just to have something to do.”

          2. Pennalynn Lott

            The small, family-owned company I worked for in 2012 would have the staff wash the owners’ (and the owners’ children’s) cars, or make them go mow the lawn at the owners’ house during downtime. Their reasoning was that they were paying people for those hours, so — by golly! — they were going to get *some* kind of work out of them.

            Aaaaaand. . . surprise, surprise. . . they had to close their doors after only 3 years in operation.

            1. Dolorous Bread

              I worked in a boss’s home where she ran her business. My job was to help keep stock of her inventory, photograph it for the website, and update the blog/website. Also process orders and shipping, and generally be a girl friday for this business.
              In my 4 years there I set the table for Rosh Hashanah (which involved table/chair, glassware delivery, florist delivery, setup, etc) wrapped dozens of hanukkah gifts for the grandchildren, ordered her salad dressing, chocolate, and once came in to see a folded pair of underwear on my keyboard with the post-it “Order me 5 boxes of these”. I prepped fur coats for summer storage pickup, came running when she called out from across the house, only to find her reading in bed during the day, and once we handled a “bed bug scare” which was actually just fabric pilling on her bra. This boss already had 2 housekeepers and a personal driver, and 4 other employees for the business she ran.

              Despite the craziness I still look back on those years really fondly, and I loved the work-family. But GOD there was some nutso behavior.

              1. Anonamoose

                ” and once came in to see a folded pair of underwear on my keyboard with the post-it “Order me 5 boxes of these”.

                ICANTEVEN.

              2. Anonamoose

                Wait. This sounds an awful lot like Bethanny Frankel………… ;) I’m not judging. I would totally order her underthings and run around ordering her salad dressing. (why did that sound SO dirty?!)

              3. zora

                Wow.
                I am really starting to appreciate my very first bosses. I worked for friends of my mom, a couple who owned a small mail order business as a side business out of their home. They hired me right when I graduated high school and I worked for them for a year part-time while in school part-time. There were lots of days when I was soooooo bored, and sat there with nothing to do, but they NEVER asked me to do anything outside of tasks for the business that I had been hired to do, the wife was a SAHM, and she handled household tasks in between during the day, but she never once asked me to do any of that. They kept a very clear line between home and the business. I never really appreciated that until now.

      4. MsChanandlerBong

        My FIL is a good one for this. He owns a small manufacturing company, and he constantly complains that good help is hard to find. The same guy who pays minimum wage and offers no perks or benefits whatsoever. Not only is he a cheap boss, but he’s also a demanding boss. His wife also terrorizes every employee that comes through the place, so it is not uncommon for him to have someone start on Monday and not come back on Tuesday. The two of them also blame their employees for everything. My husband’s aunt used to manage the office, do the books, etc. After years of having to hold her checks because she knew there wasn’t enough money to cover them, she finally quit and got a job with a company that can afford to pay its employees. Ever since then, my FIL’s wife has not stopped with the “Your Aunt Sally totally screwed us by quitting” storyline.

      5. Honeybee

        Well, that’s what I was going to ask. Obviously some administrative tasks maybe can get done, but what are the techs, nurses, and MAs going to do if the doctor is gone?

    2. Katniss

      Love this comment. And I’m sick of hearing small business owners (who are jerks that is, not gonna generalize all of them) say they can’t afford to give their staff basic time off and decent benefits and wages. If you can’t afford that, you can’t afford to own a business. Owning a business isn’t some intrinsic right.

      1. WellRed

        Seriously. Business owners, why wouldn’t you want to give your employees 2 days off?! For.the.holidays. trust me. There’s no benefit in doing so and plenty of negatives.

        1. AnonyMeow

          This is what baffles me. I’m in a similar situation. We are losing both Christmas and New Year, basically a third of our annual paid holidays, to the weekends because, in our COO’s words, the organization is “not obligated” to observe the holidays on the following Monday. Apparently that’s what “only big corporations do,” according to her. I mean, yeah, it’s not an obligation, sure, but it seems like an easy, relatively cheap way to show appreciation to the employees. Just thinking about this makes my blood boil. Ugh.

          1. Mike C.

            I hate how they not only won’t give you the time off but insult your intelligence at the same time.

          2. sunny-dee

            My husband’s job does this. I could say a lot. I will limit myself to saying it’s tacky. And also indicative of how they treat employees, generally.

          3. animaniactoo

            My company has its issues, but one of the reasons I work here and have stayed here is because on average they do things like giving us the 2 monday afters off, despite the owners being orthodox jewish and the company closes for all of the high holidays and we’ve already had 8 or so paid days off this year.

            They don’t give us the day after Thanksgiving anymore, we’re currently overdue for COL raises (and there’s a good shot they’ll make those retroactive for some portion of the time when we get them), but we don’t have the “taking us for fools” feeling in general.

          4. EngineerInNL

            Ok this is another thing that blows my mind that is different from my experiences in Canada that I thought was the same in the US. In Canada if a stat holiday falls on a Saturday/Sunday and your typical business hours are M-F then you are legally obligated to pay for the stat on the Monday (at least I’m pretty sure it’s illegal not to). For example, this year Christmas is on Sunday which is a stat and Boxing Day is Monday (also a stat) so we get Monday and Tuesday as paid holidays. Reading this site has made me super grateful that I work for really reasonable employers.

            1. Crazy Canuck

              It varies from province to province, but yes, there is usually a legal obligation to pay out holidays even if the employee did not work on them. (Alberta is the only exception I am aware of, but I’m west coast, so there could be other exceptions in Atlantic Canada.) Here in BC I get time and a half if I work the stat, plus the stat pay.

              1. QA Lady

                I’m in Alberta and my company runs almost 24/7. Everyone gets a day in lieu if they don’t work on the stat (i.e. it falls on a day they are not normally scheduled to work). During our off season we try to shut down entirely for stat holidays with certain people on call for emergencies. During the busy season it varies on how it is handled–I think they go to a skeleton crew with half off on the holiday and half taking a different day in lieu if possible (or getting paid applicable OT if the workload dictates that everyone has to work).

              2. Chinook

                The only exception in Alberta for the moveable stat (falls on weekend so it moves to the Monday) is Remembrance Day, which makes sense because the point of that holiday is to allow for people to attend the ceremonies. That and Boxing Day is not a stat in Alberta but most offices treat it like one (though it works out to the same total number over the year as other provinces – I think it balances out with Remembrance Day being one and we get Family Day in exchange for working the August long weekend).

            2. anon for this

              In Brazil, they have a bunch of official holidays, but you only get off/paid if that holiday falls during a normal work day for you. So if Republic Day (I don’t remember any of the actual holiday names) falls on a Saturday you don’t get any holiday pay/comp time on Friday, but if next year the holiday were on Friday you would get it off. Another interesting thing the company would do is have everyone (except most managers for some reason…) work on a Saturday sometime in the 2-3 weeks before and then they would flex the Monday/Friday if a holiday were to fall on a Tuesday or Thursday.

            3. wealhtheow

              I’m in ON and was thinking the exact same thing.

              My company also has 2 “floating holidays” that are normally used to give us a longer break in late December / early January. This year we get Boxing Day, Dec 27 in lieu of Dec 25, Dec 28-29 as floating days, and Dec 30 in lieu of Jan 1, so no work between Dec 23 and Jan 2!

              We are mostly F/T salaried here, but from what I recall of working in a temp agency years ago, if you’re paid hourly and work the normal business days before and after a stat holiday, your employer legally has to pay you for the stat holiday.

          5. Temperance

            And yet another reason why I would never ever ever want to work at a small business. LOVE my big corporation.

            1. miss_chevious

              Right?! I know it’s not the environment for all people, but I love my big corporation that has to follow all the federal rules and guidelines and automatically gives days off if the scheduled holiday falls on a weekend. There are advantages to the big machine.

          6. ThatGirl

            My FIL owns a small business, and is pretty hands-on and HE wants the week after Christmas off — so it behooves him to give his staff of five or so the week off too, and with pay.

            Meanwhile I’m glad my work gives us both Christmas Eve (observed Friday this year) and Christmas Day (observed Monday) off as company holidays.

          7. Liz2

            I have no good response but I always think of Kermit in Muppet Christmas Carol “Everyone else will be closed, there’ll be no one to do business with. You’ll lose money by staying open.”

            1. Emelle

              I always thought about that in my last office job! Three days before Christmas until three days after new year’s, I did nothing. We had maybe 10 calls a day. I had no deliveries to process. The week between Christmas and new year’s only admin staff and the interns were there. But the CEO’s kid would pop in and report back if we weren’t all chained to our desks working on our TPS reports.

          8. Rater Z

            You have me wondering now if my company will be paying me time and a half for working on Sunday 1/1 (plus the 6.5 hours holiday pay) or i they will pay that for Monday when I don’t work anyway so I just get the holiday pay.

            There’s no use asking my team leader about it since she feels I am entitled to only one hours pay for the two hours I worked between 1am and 2am the morning we changed back from daylight time to standard time.

            1. Rater Z

              A good followup to this one: She told me Sat. morning that we will be paid time and a half on Jan. 1 since we will be open and working that day. Also, she told me that I was paid correctly for the time change since my out punch was right, to which I said that the computer doesn’t know that I worked that one hour period twice and it clicked in her head what I was talking about, so she made the right changes for me and I should get paid for that extra hour on my check this coming week as we get paid weekly).

              I worked for one company which was 13 people (including the two owners) and I now work for a company with around 80,000 employees in six states. There are advantages to both. The large companies may have more flexibility with finances but (I feel) tend to micromanage a lot more. The one with 13 people didn’t have a lot of money but the owners went out of their way to help me out some when I was off for four weeks with my gall bladder operation back in 1980. The insurance for great, especially for such a small place. I think it really depends on personality fits.

      2. Koko

        The worst treatment I ever received as an employee was working at a chain quick food franchise run by a guy with an MBA who owned 2 other franchises in the area. I have worked plenty of retail and quick food jobs and nobody was as cheap as this guy. To name just one of his policies, he even made employees pay full-price for sides and drinks, including fountain drinks–that stuff costs the owner pennies on the gallon and I never worked anywhere else that didn’t let employees drink from the soda fountain for free or at a steep discount.

        He clearly just saw all of us as cogs in a machine and numbers on a balance sheet. The other owners I worked for, who owned just one location, wanted to be successful business owners. For them, that was a complete picture that involved providing good jobs to people and being proud of their business and themselves as caring people. They got to know their employees. The MBA guy had a very limited understanding of success as purely financial, and the turnover at his store was about 5x what it was at the other places I’d worked.

        1. Lissa

          Yeah, I worked for a chain quick food franchise as well for years, and worked for a few different business owners over those years as there were 4 locations in my city, and they kept getting sold to different owners. I worked at all of them. Some owners were great but others were the worst. Though at least we always got fountain drinks for free!

          There was Controlling Douchecanoe who timed our breaks and had dozens of signs up in the back about petty rules, Cocaine Handsoff who did drugs with a staff member, let that staff member be a horrible bully, then lost the business, and the Notmyfault family who somehow got screwed over by everyone from the bank to the previous owner to their financial partner to their accountant, but it was never my fault. I had bounced checks and the most ridiculous stories spun about why, like dude if you’re going to lie to me at least make it believable…

          I sometimes think I could write a book with all the drama that went on. And that was just the owners, not even getting into managers/supervisors and other staff…so glad I got out of there.

      3. Misclassified

        The small business I work for has flat out told me that it can’t even afford to properly classify its workers for tax purposes – meaning they pay us as independent contractors while also paying salaries in the about the 15th percentile for the industry. Good news is I have an IRS determination letter saying they’ve been misclassifying me (but the company is STILL misclassifying me despite that letter…). Oh well. My lease is up soon, so I’m about to quit.

        PTO, insurance, etc. are all out of the question here.

          1. Jadelyn

            +100 – by saying they “can’t afford” to FOLLOW THE LAW regarding employee classification, they’re literally saying they’re so shitty at running their business that they have to make their workers subsidize the business. Businesses like that deserve to go under tbh.

          2. Misclassified

            Worst thing is, I didn’t even know for sure they were misclassifying me until a few years in. The hiring process made no mention of being an IC. My title made made no mention of being an IC. All of their control over how the work was done definitely did not indicate me being an IC. I’ve gotten 1099s every year, and I was frankly ignorant on the matter. I started to get an idea what was going on sometime in my second year, and that wasn’t fully confirmed until about 2.5 years in once finally contacted by the IRS about unpaid payroll taxes. And then I still paid those just to buy me some time to job search before filing the SS-8 and other forms. Unfortunately, I didn’t find another job before I had to file the SS-8. Got my determination letter in only two months though. And they still haven’t fired me! But they are still misclassifying me and not making any payroll deductions/payments, which is incredibly odd. They’ve had plenty of time to make it right, they haven’t, so I’m giving them my two weeks’ notice January 3rd since my lease is up in January.

            What a total mess.

            1. Mrs. Fenris

              There are lots of business owners in my industry who have 1-2 day a week employees that they pay as ICs. They think they’re being so smart. The annoying thing is that I’ve never heard of one getting in trouble with the IRS!

        1. neverjaunty

          You want to talk to a lawyer ASAP if you have not already, because the last thing on earth you need is the IRS bothering you for their misbehavior.

          Also, of course, the company may owe you some money.

          1. Misclassified

            Thanks for the advice, but I have done that already. Necessary forms have been filed to amend past returns and whatnot. I’ve been good about protecting myself.

        2. Honeybee

          I worked for a large university that incorrectly classified me and the 13 other employees in my role as an independent contractor. They set my work hours and where I had to work and determined how much money I made – I was in every way a part-time employee except for the filing. It irritated me so much.

      4. FunTillSomeoneLoosesAnEye

        But mysteriously THEY can always afford to take time off for vacations and holidays.

    3. Joel Davis

      If the doctor is out of town for those days, you’re right, but if he’s in town I’m actually have to disagree a little bit here. Some people have jobs or responsibilities that keep them from being able to go to see a doctor during normal business hours and not all doctors offer appointments outside of traditional business hours and being able to get an appointment on federal holidays is a lifesaver. Just something to think about.

      1. The Strand

        Apparently he’s taking the entire time off. Some of these staff members may in fact be doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants who can provide a high level of care. I know one practice where the physicians and PAs were treated horribly. They like to enjoy the holidays too. Most professionals don’t want to have clients come in on Christmas Day for a routine checkup.

        Urgent care clinics are open on all kinds of holidays, after hours clinics can help others, and either kind can be tied to a practice.

        1. Jessesgirl72

          Yes, this. Because 20 people is a lot for a single practice office. WAY too many. Typically, a single practice would employ 4-5 people. 20 indicates there are other doctors and/or NPs and PAs working in the practice as well, and naturally it’s them who will be expected to treat clients while he’s in Aruba.

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

        #4: I once worked for a company that instituted a policy of no employment verification across the board after I left. Not because of a merger or acquisition – they just stopped verifying employment.

        It’s especially bad because a lot of their employees are recent grads in their first job after college. Now their only post-college employer won’t confirm they worked there.

        It makes anyone who used to work there look like a liar if references are checked, and it’s grossly unfair.

        I don’t even understand why a company would have such a policy. What is the benefit to them? (And if they do any verification on their own prospective employees, that’s pretty hypocritical.)

        1. Shazbot

          I worked for a company once who did that as well. They were a small contractor based out of a town far away, trying to get their foot in the door in the big metro area…and the entire contract was cut during a round of mass layoffs at the client corporation. Managers disappeared, head office returned no phone calls, the local office was packed up overnight and deserted, no one could verify employment for 30-40 people suddenly laid off. (A week before Christmas, just to add a Dickensian flavor to the whole mess.)

          I’ve had to keep a death grip on my final pay stub and W2 from that place, and be up front about explaining it to prospective employers who do background checks. (Along the lines of, “Just so you know, this place will be a problem, here is what happened, I have documentation if you should need it.”) So far, so good, but what a ridiculous situation.

          1. Floating teapot consultant

            Why not at least issue a letter together with the last pay slip?
            E.g. “Thank you for working for us January 5th, 1996 to December 26th, 1997 as teapot installation foreman. We are sorry that we have to let you go for business reasons. ”
            This can be done fairly automatically from the payroll system. That was, they’d be spending time on it only once. Or would that be weird in the U.S.?

            Where I live (Germany), you are legally entitled to such a letter, and if you request it also a written, formal evaluation if your performance. It is customary to attach copies to your application, so the hiring manager can review your job history without spending much effort on calling references.

        2. Boop

          Speaking as someone who has done verifications, they can be very time consuming. Perhaps they were trying a misguided attempt to reduce someone’s workload.

      3. Artemesia

        Then you have people work on the holiday and give them a different day off. This is standard business practice. People have to work on Christmas day too in some professions; that doesn’t mean they lose the holiday time, they just have to use it a different day.

        1. Jadelyn

          Exactly! We’re a financial institution that is required to have a handful of staff in a couple departments processing payments and ACHs even on holidays – so those people get a floating holiday that they can take anytime in the month following the actual holiday. That way they still get the paid time off even though they worked on the holiday. It’s not that freaking hard to do.

    4. JanMA

      Yes! I’ve worked in medical offices and the days after Christmas and Thanksgiving are always dead – no one comes for elective appointments. They’re still busy celebrating. Shame on him.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

        Eh, I dunno.

        If you work in an office that normally doesn’t give those days off, you are either taking those days because you need/want them for specific things (childcare, traveling, shopping, cleaning up from celebrations at your house, etc.), OR you are going in the office so that there is coverage and those people who need/want the day can have it. If you end up having it off by happenstance but might not have otherwise taken it, I could see being like, “Oh, this would be a great day to go in for my flu shot!” (I know it’s a bit late for flu shots at this point, but you get the idea.)

        I’m thinking the office got calls about whether they would be open to try and make appointments and that’s what this stemmed from. However, Bossman should offer comp time to his employees if this is the case.

      2. Jessesgirl72

        This is not my experience- not for the day after Christmas. The week between Christmas and New Year is typically the busiest because other people have those days off work, and everyone is trying to get all their procedures and appointments in before the New Year when they will have a new deductible to meet.

        1. Kyrielle

          This, plus the fact that getting kids to the doctor without having them miss school is much easier if they don’t have school that day – it opens the window to a lot of appointment times that would otherwise be an issue with scheduling (for the parents/school, not the doctor’s office).

            1. Jessesgirl72

              The boss is out of town. No one in a single practice employs 20 people. Among those 20 people will be PAs and NPs, who will be doing the work of seeing patients.

              1. yasmara

                I don’t know, our orthodontist is a single practice (i.e., he’s the only orthodontist) & employs well over 20 people, I’m sure. There are 3 front-desk staff alone & numerous technicians (I don’t know what the correct term for all of them are in the orthodontic world).

                The Very Large Company I work for sometimes doesn’t give holidays where you might think they would, but they even it out with “personal choice holidays.” So, if normally you’d have 6 paid holidays, but 2 holidays fall on weekend like this year, you might have 4 paid site-wide holidays & 2 paid “personal choice holidays” or they might give you the Monday or Friday as a paid holiday (they don’t do both, your personal choice holidays would not increase, it would all equal the same number of days). But it all evens out…AND, most importantly, it’s announced the year before, usually in 4Q, not the month before, so we can all plan our days off accordingly.

    5. Temperance

      At my last job, my Jerk Boss used to sign herself off from Christmas Eve – January 3rd every. single. year. She would cite her “seniority”, and then make the rest of us fight for our holidays. Oh, and did I mention that she also left before the rest of us, and took off holiday Fridays/Mondays with abandon?

    6. mazzy

      Wait – some jobs need more time off than others. I recently underwent an oral surgery procedure. It was very intense. I’m sure the dentist needs more time off to recharge than a receptionist or office staff. Even just physically, given that he spent an hour in a shot hunched over trying to hit very specific points with drills and picks. Not to mention the psychological stress – mess up and you cause intense pain or an infection

      1. sstabeler

        not the point. Basically, previously, they had X days off plus the federal holidays- with you getting the Monday after off if the holiday fell on the weekend. However, the boss decided to end the practice of giving them the Monday after off during the same year it applied- stripping them of two days off they have already planned for. Exacerbating the matter, they have made themselves the sole exception. Had it been a change in policy that would be implemented going forward- that is, next year any Federal Holidays on the weekend are lost- there is no problem, except some irritation at making themselves an exception. Same for companies that say up front that Federal Holidays are included in the time off quoted (usually stated here in the UK as “X days off including Bank Holidays”)- it’s irritating, but not unfair since they are upfront.

        Basically, the problem is that it strips the employees of a day off at short notice- screwing up multiple employee’s plans.

        1. sstabeler

          I’ve thought of another way of illustrating the problem.you are paid to work 365 days per year minus however many days off you get- for most jobs, that means all weekends, plus federal holidays, plus at least a couple of weeks. That translates to about 246 days per year- the exact number is irrelevant- and this decision means they would need to work 248 days per year instead. Which is particularly bad if they are exempt- or treated as exempt- since then it is literallly a pay cut, albeit not a large one.

      2. Liz2

        I disagree with the premise that some jobs need more time off. All of us are working the jobs we are working. It’s not up to you to decide why I shouldn’t be less stressed/worn out/tired/needing time as a human.

        You don’t know whether that receptionist is dealing with learning and training a staff on a new billing system, having a crash from an insurance provider, and his daughter just went in the hospital with pneumonia.

    7. DAdvocate

      I’m going to have a little bit of sympathy here for the doc – if he is the one generating revenue, this is a management issue, and he may be considering hiring temps to offset a staffing shortage. In short – he either needs a manager, or to BE a manager. Yes, many degreed professionals have a blind spot when it comes to this, maybe OP can make the pitch for better organizational structure for the future.

      As a parent and an employee, I appreciate being able to have the occasional appointment and not miss work and school time, so there is some demand at these times.

      1. Manders

        The flip side of that, though, is that when your revenue generator is out of town the rest of your employees may not have a full day’s worth of work to do, or may not be able to do anything for patients who want appointments since the doctor isn’t there.

        I saw this a lot when I worked at a small medical practice. The doctor who owned the business would treat his staff as if they worked at a hospital, because in a hospital, someone’s always on duty and in need of staff support. But since the practice was just him, every time he went on vacation, the support staff would be twiddling their thumbs because there was no one to support. It wasn’t actually making any money or benefiting any patients, and most doctors have an answering service they use when the office is closed, so even manning the phones was not necessary.

    8. Jane D'oh!

      Heck yes. I’m wondering if the LW works for the doctor who tried to hire me as an admin for minimum wage and wanted to make me a sign a contract promising not to leave the job for three years because “he was sick of the turnover”. Duh.

    9. Lady Montworth (née Janice in Accounting)

      I will say that the one good thing about OldJob, a small company of about 20 people, was that the owner gave amazing amounts of time off. We had three weeks’ vacation plus a week off at Thanksgiving and the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day. Of course, dealing with his crazypants antics made all that time off necessary for mental health, but still . . . it was nice. :)

    10. JMegan

      “You’ll want all day to-morrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge.

      “If quite convenient, sir.”

      “It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I’ll be bound?”

      The clerk smiled faintly.

      “And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”

      The clerk observed that it was only once a year.

      “A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.”

  2. Gaia

    OP 1, I can only give my experience. I have had to fire two people. The first I didn’t warn. I felt so guilty when I let him go. I thought about it and beat myself up about it for so long. He was a poor performer, but I was a poor manager for springing that on him. The second person I had to fire was also a poor worker, but we had many conversations about it and her firing was the next stage.

    Don’t beat yourself up. It isn’t too late. Have a talk with him. Be clear, but kind, and make sure he leaves that meeting knowing his options are to improve (if that is an option) or lose his job.

    1. Jen S. 2.0

      Agree totally. It should never be a surprise when you are fired, especially for performance. He should be aware that his work isn’t up to snuff, and that the issues could potentially be fatal. How does he know that he needs to improve if no one tells him? No one wants to find out that everyone knew they were in trouble except them.

      I also don’t understand why it’s a problem if he looks for a new job. Isn’t that… what would happen if you fired him? He’s not good at the job. Yes, he might be leaving slightly sooner than he otherwise would if he were fired, but it sounds like his work is poor enough that he’ll likely be leaving soon in any case, whether voluntarily or not. I mean, poor performers aren’t having an awesome time as they struggle through tasks they don’t do well and screw up right and left. He’s likely not enjoying the job, he’s not good at it, and you aren’t satisfied with the quality of his work. Why wouldn’t you want him able to leave on reasonably good terms so you can get a better person in the job?

      Note: the one time I was fired for poor performance (which I should have been; I sucked at the job and hated it), I definitely had been warned that my work wasn’t of the quality they needed. And then I made a big, fat, last-straw mistake. The fact that I’d already been warned meant that, sure, I was a little upset, but I was not blindsided. I was already interviewing. I was able to temp for a couple of months, and then I found a job I liked so much that I wondered why I had struggled along at the first place for so long (about 6 months of me being miserable and not being able to give my boss what she needed. I knew after a couple of weeks that the job wasn’t right for me, but I tried to stick it out). And I hope they were able to find someone who was awesome at that job.

      1. Lance

        The fact that he’s not good at the job is a very key point, that the other manager is missing. Would you rather have someone in the job who’s making errors and not doing well, or nobody in the job (temporarily) and have to cover for it, but quite possibly getting it done more efficiently? Personally, I’d lean very heavily toward the latter… and, by extension, be perfectly fine with him starting to look elsewhere when told he’ll be let go if he doesn’t improve.

      2. Mike B.

        I was in exactly that position (seriously, I SUCKED), except that I was NOT warned that my job was on the line. I was not on a PIP and my evaluation had been largely positive, if unimpressive. They didn’t give me any severance beyond paying out my vacation days, either. It all worked out for the best–my next job was a major step up, and I wouldn’t have been told about it if people hadn’t known I was looking–but I still bear ill will toward that place and its management many years later. You can’t expect young and junior people to read tea leaves to figure out what you think about their work.

        1. Kyrielle

          And, unless the job position is ‘fortune teller’, you really shouldn’t expect the more senior people to read the tea leaves either.

          Wait, if the position is ‘fortune teller’ and they are lousy at it….

          …please, just talk to people and make sure they know where they stand, managers. We’ll all be better off, and I can stop stretching this metaphor to the breaking point.

          1. Mike B.

            Indeed–I specified “young and junior” because such people don’t have any reference points for such things and are less likely to have an inkling of what’s going on, but senior employees should be made explicitly aware of their status as well.

        2. Jadelyn

          I had the same experience in my last job. I had been lax and let some things slide (for a variety of reasons…it was frankly just a toxic as hell workplace and I’m glad, long-term, that I got out when I did), but nobody mentioned anything until my boss pulled me in and said they were letting me go. She even said “I’ve been frustrated with your performance for awhile now” and I was like “…so why didn’t you SAY SOMETHING?”

          It took over 2 years at my current job before I finally began to trust that they’d tell me if I was really screwing up and in danger of being fired, and stopped jumping at every tiny criticism or closed-door conversation and assuming I was going to be fired. And I mean, I’m in HR and so I’ve seen first-hand how rigorous our coaching process is for poor performers and how intense the process is to actually go through with firing someone, but that previous experience of having it sprung on me did some serious damage to my ability to trust an employer to be honest with me about my performance. I honestly didn’t even realize that you should be able to *expect* that competent management will have these conversations before it gets to the firing point!

      3. Elizabeth West

        This is a great comment. You keep trying because you 1) don’t want to be a quitter, or 2) keep hoping maybe that things will get better as you go. But in my case, things weren’t making sense even six months in, and I should have started looking LONG before and then gone to my boss and said, “Wow, I don’t think this new restructured job is right for me. I think I need to give notice.”

        It’s hard not to feel like a stupid failure, but if I think back to before my job changed, I was doing great and had great reviews and really felt on top of things. So it couldn’t have all been me.

    2. Bonky

      I have to put someone on a PIP, which will probably end with us firing her, and I’m dreading it. Not my first, and it has to be done, but it’s absolutely the worst part of the job. This one’s going to be particularly difficult because I’m aware the person in question has a very difficult home life – which we’ve made accommodation after accommodation for – and she’s also someone who cries when you give her any feedback at all, let alone something this drastic.

      The one thing I’m changing with this person is the timing: this would be a doubly sucky thing to land on someone during the holidays, so I won’t be having the conversation with her until the new year. I’ve moved my team’s annual reviews to after pay increases and bonuses get awarded this year, so they don’t feel their performance in the review meeting impacts their takehome: the PIP conversation will have to come then.

      I’d be interested if anyone else here can share how their businesses manage PIPs – it’s always interesting to see if there are changes I can make to the way I’m doing things.

      1. SJ

        I’ve moved my team’s annual reviews to after pay increases and bonuses get awarded this year, so they don’t feel their performance in the review meeting impacts their takehome

        Can you elaborate on why you do it in this order? Are the pay increases and bonuses independent from employee performance?

        1. Bonky

          Not at all: they’re dependent on performance throughout the year. What they’re not dependent on is how someone performs in an annual review meeting: and it doesn’t matter how reassuring a manager is, there are many people who find their annual review terrifying, and believe that what they say has impact on what comes next.

          What actually has impact is how they’ve performed in the twelve months running up to that review. We’ve found that doing things in that order makes this much clearer, and that there’s been a marked difference in people’s nervousness and worry about their review meetings as a result.

          1. SJ

            Interesting. I’ve only worked places where raises and bonuses were discussed during the reviews themselves. Thanks!

          2. Mike B.

            So you’re giving the increases at an unannounced date before the reviews are scheduled, just to remove that particular element of stress? I kind of like that, though I wouldn’t think “how big will my raise be” would be the focus of most people’s eval-related worries.

            For some years my company has been making salary/title adjustments effective a few weeks after evaluations, perhaps on the theory that we won’t associate the two. I find it strange, since we normally do compensate people fairly (COLA bumps for everyone and merit increases for the deserving), but by now I’m used to it.

          3. Zombii

            That seems really dumb though. All the advice on AAM re: annual reviews is about how to make sure your performance over the previous years was accounted for and how to advocate for additional compensation and/or benefits for yourself based on that performance.

            You’re basically saying that raises/promotions/etc at your company have already been determined without any input from the employee (other than their job performance over the past year, as evaluated by the company) and the review is just a meeting to inform them of what the company has decided to give them.

            Removing even the pretense of negotiation/conversation seems so fatalistic. I get that it removes some stress but.. damn.

      2. miss_chevious

        I’m in a Big Company, and we typically have a two-step PIP followed by termination if the employee doesn’t improve. PIPs are always specific as to what needs to change and they are in writing and signed by the employee. We start with level 1 and give adequate time to demonstrate improvement (which depends on what they are being asked to improve). If they aren’t successful, we move to level 2, which includes additional restrictions and usually a shorter time period for improvement. At each level, managers are strongly encouraged to give feedback at least weekly specifically with regard to the subject of the PIP separate from normal 1-on-1s. If after level 2 there still isn’t sufficient improvement, the employee is terminated and receives severance in accordance with corporate policy.

      3. Sadsack

        It is nice of you to consider the holidays. I wonder though if this person will be making Christmas purchases with credit cards in December that she plans to pay in January. I have been laid off just before the holidays and it sucks, but it would be worse to find out after I have spent money I may not have spent if I had known I wouldn’t have a job soon.

        1. Bonky

          It’ll be a 6-month PIP (that’s the way we usually do things), so I don’t think her spending over the holidays will affect it.

  3. Engineer Girl

    #4 – it isn’t just about finding a new job. This also affects people trying to secure a loan or get new housing. Maybe you should raise this issue with the HR guy. It sounds like they haven’t thought this through.

    1. Stan

      Depending on industry, it could also affect professional certifications.

      When the charter school I worked for got taken over by a new company, they pulled the same thing. In my state, teacher certificates renewals/upgrades require years of experience. Since they wouldn’t verify employment for anyone prior to when they took over, it created massive headaches, especially for new teachers.

        1. Stan

          We wrote to the school’s charter authorizer office (a state university) and insisted that they needed to either a) require the management company to verify employment or b) do it themselves. After some foot dragging and two teacher sick outs, the university office brought their weight to bear and the management company started verifying employment again.

    2. FTHA

      YES!!!! We just bought a home and I had to go back 4 years and give out HR names for those companies. I would be P.I.S.S.E.D if they refused to verify and cost me a home.

      This should be illegal.

      1. Shazbot

        Oh, HR verification for home loans is the worst. When I refied a few years ago not only did I have to provide HR names and telephone number, but the loan personnel were so inept that they couldn’t figure out how to call and leave a freaking message when the HR person was out at lunch. I had to *call the HR people myself, explain the situation, and freaking conference the loan people in.* It was ludicrous.

        1. Trout 'Waver

          That’s especially ridiculous because for all they know you could have just called a friend and then conferenced them in.

          1. Jadelyn

            It’s not defamation in the legal sense of the term, no, but I would say it has the potential to have basically the same effect.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              If the OP explains “they won’t verify any employment from before the merge, but here are paystubs showing my employment there for those years,” it’s not going to have the same effect as defamation.

      2. Zombii

        Were the people at the bank so inept that they didn’t know they could get proof of employment from tax records?

        ExJob used a verification company that by all appearances didn’t actually call anyone’s previous employers to verify employment, so my entire training class (25 people) was instructed to go to the IRS building to beg for copies of old tax records to prove we had worked everywhere we’d listed on our applications.

    3. KB

      Employment verifications are important for more than just job hunting and perhaps it would be best to frame it that way to HR guy/ upper management? Because even though all businesses should be comfortable with and aware of the fact employees will move on, I can see how it’d be more comfortable to frame it as “this could affect my house hunt,” rather than, “this will affect my job hunt.”

    4. aeldest (OP 4)

      And in fact, in the (very quick! Thank you Alison!) turnaround time between when I sent the email and when it was posted, one of our part-time workers has now temporarily lost her need-based health insurance because when she had originally submitted the forms she listed her employer as the old company, and when they called to verify her employment he said he couldn’t verify her employment, and now the state has denied her application because she “lied” about her employment. This is ridiculous.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Okay, that’s ridiculous. If nothing else, he should be explicitly saying “I’m not able to verify anything for anyone from before x date because of our merger.” Can you at least ask that something like that be said?

        1. MyTwoCents.. Hope it helps

          Shouldn’t the Social Security Administration be able to verify employment? Or the IRS is someone has filed taxes using a particular employer?

          1. FormerLibrarian

            You can get can get downloadable copies of your W2s for prior years (I think back at least six years) on the IRS website. It’s pretty easy to sign up, and you’d probably be looking for “transcripts”, which gives you several options, including your W2s. The version you get doesn’t include state withholding, but has all of the other information up through Box 14. (They don’t include Boxes 15-20 since that is state info.) Of course that only works after the end of the calendar year, so if someone needed proof of employment during 2016, they wouldn’t be able to get it until sometime in 2017.

            I don’t know if you’d be able to get information from the state version of the IRS about who has sent in the required withholding for you during the current year or not.

          2. paul

            Her need based insurance may not be handled through the SSA and whatever agency it’s through may not coordinate well with SSA; they can be difficult to work with. Trying to verify information with SSA for our clients is regularly a gigantic headache.

      2. Contrarian Annie

        Gather evidence you did work there. Sue for whatever losses are incurred from the lack of health insurance.

  4. Nobody Here By That Name

    LW #5: I had a boss like that. When the calendar did a similar thing for Xmas/New Year’s and I asked if we’d be closed for the holidays I got the reply that we were, since we weren’t open on Sundays. Pointing out the Federal holiday thing got me the reply that we aren’t the government. Pointing out that I’d worked for years with the understanding that I would get a day off for Xmas and a day for New Year’s again just got me the reply that I was getting those days off b/c we were closed on Sundays.

    I can’t remember if I ended up burning vacation days to not come in, but it was one of many reasons I was happy to leave that place for another job. So my sympathies.

    1. Zombii

      I’m having trouble following.

      1) You wanted Xmas and New Years off.

      2) You got Xmas and New Years off.

      3) You were upset because [???] and then you were (maybe) forced to burn vacation days so you wouldn’t have to come in on Xmas and New Years, which you already had off?

      I get wanting an extra day off during the holidays/wanting to be paid for the holidays that fell on a closed day but this anecdote makes it sound like you were furious over getting what you wanted.

  5. Mike C.

    #4

    Not only is this a problem for future employment, this is a major problem for securing loans, housing, security clearances, background checks and so on. There’s absolutely no reason to have such a policy and mergers/acquisitions are common enough that this is (like many other business issues) a solved problem. There are best practices for this. Is your HR rep an idiot or overrun by upper management?

    Unlike the intern with thoughts about the dress code, this is something you should gather people together on, because it will screw people over down the road in ways that will be difficult to fix. Get your managers involved and push back on this stupid policy. Make your HR person face the risks you’re now expected to take on and explain themselves because being told, “not allowed, sorry” isn’t good enough. The fact that your HR person just threw her hands up and said, “Sorry I guess, whatevs” just drives me absolutely mad.

    There’s a social contract at play here – presumably your new employer calls and verifies employment history and yet they won’t do the same for you. There is an expectation that people can use their employment history as a way to show they are stable and worthy of credit.

    It does occur to me that keeping payslips and W-2s may help mitigate this issue somewhat, but on the principle only this is still risking significant harm to the employees for no reason. Not “no good reason” but “no reason at all”. I’m sure someone out there is going to see the lack of full verification as a “red flag” and you won’t have any recourse.

    1. kb

      Regardless of the shenanigans going on with the OP’s HR, I would recommend everyone gather and store the information Alison suggested (tax/ payroll info) as well as non-work contact information of a direct supervisor, especially if you work at smaller businesses. I worked some kind of random jobs in college that closed soon after. For pretty intense background checks later on it became a pain to try and find proof I worked where I said I did, especially when I could only remember the first name of my manager and a few zany anecdotes about them. I kept work email addresses and work numbers, but few people regulary check the voicemails and inboxes of defunct businesses. A LinkedIn connection would probably be sufficient nowadays.

    2. Nico M

      Everyone should write out their employment details and a positive reference, print it on the old companies letterhead dated merger minus one day, and then the most favoured person takes the stack of papers to the owners with a nice bottle of wine (or similar luxury) and a really smooth pen.

      1. No Name Yet

        This seems like a clever idea. Doesn’t negate the responsibility of current HR (what if the paper gets lost in a few years/moves?), but could make a huge difference.

    3. Christine

      #4
      This doesn’t make sense. I wonder if the HR individual is saying that to avoid all of the phone calls. Could this be liable if they have a blanket policy of not helping their employees by supplying the basic assistance in their job searching? I’ve been laid off twice in my life. At the bank they had a head hunter & his agency come in and help us with resumes, practice job interviews etc. They had a series of workshops & seminars to help with the transition. The first two were 1/2 days and were doing our normal working hours. Our managers were required to allow us to have time off for interviews. They offered 1 week of pay per year worked. I think some of that was motivated by money. If we found jobs before the formal close out date, they didn’t have to pay a severance. They laid off around 2,500 employees after the merger. I think the bank made a point of working wth the state government to find ways to lessen the economic impact on our local communities.

      The recent one, I was given no notice, told I was being laid off late afternoon, no assistance at all beyond my severance pay.

      1. Mike B.

        Even if they aren’t liable, they might respond to a lightly veiled threat from an attorney if employee complaints alone won’t make them budge.

    4. Mike B.

      I’m kind of surprised that #5 is getting all the attention today when this one has a far worse, if less immediate, impact. This policy can’t be allowed to stand.

      1. yasmara

        My employer won’t let managers give any references except to confirm employment dates (which sucks, although I’ve heard good managers may bend this rule), but they absolutely will verify employment. In fact, we just had to do this for our mortgage & our company contracts it to some kind of clearinghouse. I had to select if I was calling in to verify employment for my parole officer or for another reason.

    5. Engineer Manager

      I agree this is a crappy thing for the company to do (so I’m not defending the company’s decision), but you would have the same issues if the company went out of business, so this is not an insurmountable obstacle. And, in a sense, if a company is acquired, they are “going out of business”, and all of the employees now work for a new company.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes, that’s exactly right. It’s really crappy for them to do, but you handle it the same way you would if the company went out of business, which is a thing that happens and people get past all the time.

        1. JHunz

          Isn’t this significantly worse than going out of business, though? Going out of business means that there’s nobody at the business to contact. The effect of this policy is that there is somebody to contact to verify employment but that that person will refuse to do so. It seems like it’s much more likely to lead to suspicion or outright assumptions that you’re lying about your past employment.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Not as long as (a) the employee is explaining the situation to background checkers and (b) the company isn’t saying “we don’t have a record of that person” but instead is saying “we can’t verify anything for anyone from before X date, which is when our merger happened.”

            1. JHunz

              But I don’t see anything in the letter to indicate that they’re using the second phrasing rather than the first. If they had the common sense and decency to be specific and accurate about it, they wouldn’t have this policy in the first place. And the update from the OP stating that someone lost health insurance due to the response from a verification attempt does not fill me with confidence either.

      2. CAA

        Yeah, I’m not seeing this as a horrible tragedy for all the former employees. It’s definitely an inconvenience, but people do deal with this every day, and they still manage to buy houses and get new jobs. I am living proof that you can even get a U.S. government security clearance with a recent employer that was a foreign entity which is currently unreachable.

        You need to save your tax returns and the supporting documentation, which includes W-2s, for 7 years in case of an audit. These also provide proof of employment (and income, but you can photocopy them and black out dollar amounts). If you really need proof going back more than 7 years, then Social Security will provide a detailed earnings record that includes employer names for your entire work history.

    6. aeldest (OP 4)

      I just posted about this upthread, but one of our part-time workers has now temporarily lost her health insurance because when she had originally submitted the forms she listed her employer as the old company, and when they called to verify her employment he said he couldn’t verify her employment, and now the state has denied her application because she “lied” about her employment.

      Our HR rep has been overrun by upper management (he’s nice, but kind of a pushover), it’s the COO who won’t allow any information about the old company out. Except we’re still going after past due invoices from the old company, and keeping the client lists, so…

      I’m not sure if I can get people together on this, but I’ll try!

  6. HeyAnonny

    In response to #3: My 75-person company charges $20 for all +1’s (and only +1’s) to the holiday party. It’s the first I’ve ever encountered it, but everyone who’s been here for a while seems to be on board (I only joined the company in May.)

    My last company was a huge international public company that dropped big money on events and parties, so it’s a bit of a culture shock, but I’m just chalking it up to different industries and company sizes. I don’t think it’s common, but it’s not unheard of.

    1. DuckDuckMøøse

      I find it a shock that so many people work for companies that pay for parties. ;) I work for the government, and, not surprisingly, we’ve always had to pay our own way for parties and picnics. Once, a senior leader bought bushels of crabs for our picnic, but that was out of his own pocket, to celebrate his promotion. That’s the only freebie I’ve gotten in 30+ years. This year’s holiday party : $20, at a local billiards hall. Living the dream! :)

      1. nonymous

        yes, the rules regarding the protection of public funds is so strict regarding even the appearance of the least bit of propriety that all breakroom supplies (think fridge, microwave, coffeepots) are funded by employees. At least in my agency.

        1. Paige Turner

          At my office (I’m a fed contractor), if you want a plastic fork from the cafe, they charge fifteen cents. I have to bring all my own office supplies. Meanwhile, the lobby has been full-on decorated for Christmas since before Thanksgiving- we can get boughs of holly, but not a post-it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

        2. SpaceySteph

          I am a gov’t contractor, too, and I remember when my grandparents came on a tour of work when I was new (it’s a tourist spot where people pay to go on tours of our site but as employees we can do friend and family tours for free, so this isn’t as odd as it sounds) and saw that the coffee was 10 cents a cup in the breakroom. My grandfather went on a huge rant about how ridiculous it was that they charged for coffee and when I explained that it was entirely employee funded and organized, he continued to rant about how our boss should provide coffee and when he was in business (he was a doctor, probably something like OP5’s boss) the business supplied the coffee for the staff.
          What finally shut him up was this: “Well, the business here is the federal government so that would by your tax dollars buying our coffee.”
          The kicker– I do not drink coffee at all, so it didn’t have any impact on my life whatsoever.

          We do get office supplies though, at least.

    2. Christine

      I think some companies have learned that if people pay they will show up. If the company pays, the employees skip out. I recall when my father has his business he paid for an expensive & holiday show for his employees & spouses. It was $50 per person. Some of them ate and ran, didn’t stay for the show. That was in the mid 80’s. He never did it again. I do not like events after hours. I would prefer to get a gift card instead. I had one employer that gave $25 – $50 gift cards per employee each holiday season & paid for a employee luncheon. My preference.

      1. hayling

        That’s an interesting thought. We had a bunch of people no-show for our holiday party last year, which was pretty inconsiderate since we were paying per-head. We’re a small company and it was definitely obvious.

      2. Zombii

        I think it has more to do with whether the employees want to be there (or need to be there for work-politics reasons) than people actively thinking I’M GOING TO BAIL BECAUSE IT’S NOT MY CASH BWAHAHA like some sort of small-time supervillain.

        It kind of sounds like the show sucked and he should have considered an RSVP for the entertainment before buying all those tickets no one wanted.

    3. Cynicaal Lackey

      I was dragged to my spouses xmas party last year. I would gladly pay $20 to be allowed to stay home in 2016.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        My coworkers all want to see my spouse – I think they like him better than me! I don’t know if he wants to come to the party, but they want him to and he is going. If we had to pay $20, that would change.

    4. Jadelyn

      My org’s summer picnic, which was held at an amusement park, had a partial-pay requirement. Employees could bring immediate family – spouse, children living at home, anyone else who lived in your household – for free, and could buy tickets to the park at a discounted rate for extended family or other guests.

  7. Mela

    I can’t wait for my husband’s office holiday party, but they’re pretty legendary. The one last year had a well known recording artist perform, the one this year is in a really awesome place. And there’s an open bar, good food, dancing, and his very cool coworkers and their partners to chat with. I’d definitely pay $15 to attend this year, based on how much fun I had last year, if they asked.

    This may be a unique case, though.

    1. many bells down

      I’m super excited for my spouse’s office party as well. I get to dress up, there’s fancy food and liquor tastings, casino games, karaoke, and a very nice raffle. And they give out cab vouchers so we don’t even have to drive.

      1. Jess1216

        You’re describing my spouse’s office party! I like it more than my own office’s party. I love having stuff to DO besides just stare at each other over a meal.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger

      My spouse’s company has them in Federal buildings and/or museums in DC, also with open bar and good food, and they’re always fun. The problem is, my spouse doesn’t always want to go! Even though we attended a co-worker’s out-of-state wedding, and we usually talk to that couple and a few other people for most of the evening.

    3. Kate

      That sounds awesome! My husband’s party is charging $15 for spouses to attend AND still has a cash bar.

    4. k

      My spouses works for a internet start up and I’m looking forward to their holiday party more than mine! There’s is at a really cool venue, will have good food and open bar. And we don’t have to pay. My office party on the other hand is more pizza and punch in the conference room.

  8. Cat steals keyboard

    #1 Yes you should tell him. I know someone who was the employee in this situation and just did not grasp that if she didn’t make improvements (which she interpreted as suggestions) she would be fired. She was shocked when that happened as she just hadn’t grasped the situation. I was shocked when she described what had happened as it was blindingly obvious to me that they were requiring her to improve or she might lose her job but it just hadn’t got through to her and I guess they assumed she understood how serious the situation was.

    I think you really need to be straight with this employee for both your sakes. Try to remember this is just information that should be delivered matter of factly and not let your own feelings and worries get in your way. This is a tough situation but sugar coating won’t help. Better to be honest and direct. Not mean, just honest.

    1. Former Retail Manager

      YES!! Totally! Both when I was a manager and, in my current position in which I’m not, it has been utterly shocking to me as to the number of people that do not understand that they’re being told to shape up or ship out. I had one old manager long ago who would begin those conversation with “I want to be honest with you about your performance. Your continued employment here is in danger and you WILL be let go if X, Y, and Z are not improved by X date.” Left nothing to the imagination and if they still seemed to not get it she would further say “It’s never my first choice, but I will fire you.” (Note: It was retail….we had some employees that weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.) No one ever left those conversations being unclear about what they needed to do to improve or the consequences if they didn’t. I’ve seen pussyfooting managers in action and it does no one any good. Just makes it harder on all parties involved when the day of reckoning finally arrives.

      1. Camellia

        This! I came here to say that I thought the wording in the reply was still too ambiguous. ““I’m hopeful that you’ll be able to make the improvements we’ve discussed. But I also I want to be transparent with you that these issues are serious enough that they could jeopardize your job, and if we’re not able to make strong progress on this path over the next month, we’d need to discuss a transition out of the role. ”

        “Jeopardize your job” – but in what way? This is softened too much by the phrase “Transition out of the role” – will you find him a job in another group or something?

        This is much better – “Your continued employment here is in danger and you WILL be let go if X, Y, and Z are not improved by X date.”

        1. Christine

          The statement “Transition out of the role” sounds like moving to another department. Some companies will do that with a problem employee. Instead of doing a PIP and/or counseling by the manager they pass the employee on hoping someone else will fire them. Managers need to get over their desire “to be liked by their staff” because it hinders them in dealing with the hard sections of the job.

          I want a manager that I respect, does their job, and treats me with the same, and has my back. I do not need to be your buddy, your friend, etc. My current manager wants to be liked, but is such a weird bird and is antisocial, that the I do not even have the respect I require for her. I am job searching.

    2. Sled dog mama

      Yes please tell the person as unambiguously as possible that if XY doesn’t happen by Z date they will be fired.

      I was the person in this situation before and the feedback I got was “needs improvement but acceptable” so I was blindsided when I was fired.

      With four years more experience I see that it was justified and I wasn’t performing but the manager did not make it clear. That manager is now grand boss at a different company and while he’s great at what we do he still sucks as a manager. 12 more days, I can’t wait to be done with this guy.

    3. Adonday Veeah

      “You might be thinking that he’ll figure it out on his own, but an awful lot of people don’t and then are blindsided when they’re fired.”

      A friend was in her weekly status meeting with her boss. At the end of the meeting, the boss (who was terrible in other ways also) said, “Um… you do know this is your last day, don’t you?” Well, no, my friend had no idea, because nobody had ever told her that her work was not terrific.

      A termination for poor performance should never come as a surprise.

      1. Zombii

        This.

        At ExJob my whole department was under scrutiny due to unrealistic job requirements (if only 2 of 10 people are meeting goals, something is wrong with the goals). At the department meeting where they put 8 of us on PIPs, one of my coworkers asked “Are our jobs in jeopardy?” and was told no, the company just wants to see improvement and will work with us blah blah blah. (Context: around 75% of the company is on PIPs at any given time since the company uses PIPs instead of “coaching plans”—probably because the policy is if you’re on a PIP they don’t pay out your bonus, so that phrasing has turned into another way for the company to save some cash.)

        Jump cut to the next department meeting. Our supervisor is backed-up by her supervisor and they reamed us for 20 minutes straight about how we’d used up all our chances so now here’s the list of who’s staying, who’s being demoted and who’s going right now.

  9. Anxa

    #5

    Could someone help explain to me what the issue here is? Why would you need a day off for Christmas that’s not actually Christmas? Or why would you need Jan 2 off if you already have a holiday? Wouldn’t there be time between Christmas and New Year’s to take a day off to use holiday time? I understand that doesn’t help those that booked a trip, but it seems a little presumptious to me to assume you’ll get a day off that’s not even a holiday.

    I’ve only worked in jobs with overly generous winter breaks or without standard holidays (always unpaid days off), and the idea of having Jan 2 off seems so random and unnecessary. What would you be observing?

    1. Cambridge Comma

      OP says that the days in question are federal holidays, and it sounds like the longstanding practice has been to give them the day off on federal holidays. So it wasn’t presumptuous of the employees to assume that they woukd get this day off.
      If Christmas is on a Saturday or Sunday, you are not getting a holiday by not working that day. In many countries, they shift the holiday to the next working day to make up for that. It doesn’t have anything to do with religious observance.

    2. Cat steals keyboard

      We have January 2 off to make up for a day that would be a holiday already being a weekend.

    3. EmmaLou

      He, my husband, already gets Saturday and Sunday off and certain holidays as well. It is considered part of the benefits package. Sooo if he’s already off on Sunday then where is his holiday day? A lot of companies will give Friday if it falls on Saturday, or Monday if it falls on Sunday so that he still gets the benefit of the holiday. It’s not set in stone and some companies he’s worked for really hold out until the last day to decide which day they are giving off or if they are just going to spring for holiday pay if it’s in an union and during a busy season. We’d rather have the day.

      1. FiveWheels

        Huh? If he doesn’t ordinarily work weekends, then he doesn’t get Saturday and Sunday off, any more than he gets midnight to 4am “off”… Those days /times are not part of his working hours anyway.

        1. Cordelia Naismith

          Right, but he does get holidays off. So when a holiday falls on a weekend, the day off gets shifted to the following Monday.

          Dec. 25 is on Sunday this year. Sundays aren’t “days off,” they’re weekends. But Christmas is an official holiday. So to make sure you still get the benefit of the day off — which, as sally points out, is considered part of your benefits package at most companies — you get to take the holiday on Monday, Dec. 26.

    4. Raine

      It’s fairly typical in US white collar jobs to be promised X paid holidays a year — it is literally part of the overall compensation package. Usually this skews very closely to the days observed by the federal government. It’s usually well established what the practice is; I’m not sure what the point is of asking people to justify the date or how or why they would use it.

      1. Jen S. 2.0

        Specifically, when there is a day that is an expected holiday, the expectation is that “holiday” means that you will get to be off during **a day that you normally would be working,** not that everything is randomly closed on a weekend. If it happens that the holiday itself falls on a weekend, you get a makeup day, usually the weekday closest to the holiday.

        Note that this is why many US holidays aren’t tied to a date; MLK Day is the third Monday in January, not necessarily January 15th, which was MLK’s actual birthday. It’s to make the day off fall on a work day. (Heh, my birthday falls on November 11, which is the rare US holiday that DOES always fall on the same date. I work for the government, so I never have to work on my birthday, which is nice.)

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      It’s because it’s very common for employers to give federal holidays off. And the federal holidays this year fall on the Mondays since the holidays themselves fall on Sundays.

      1. Anonhippopotamus

        I’m so confused. Isn’t it the law to give federal holidays off, or else an alternative day in lieu? Otherwise what the heck is the damn point of the federal holiday?

        1. Oryx

          I believe it’s called a federal holiday because for non-essential federal employees, yes it is law. After that, I believe it’s optional or at a state / local level. I haven’t had President’s Day or Veteran’s Day off since college but at the federal level those are paid holidays.

          1. Angela

            Yes, I’m confused about this federal holiday business. I work for a state university and we will not get this Monday January 2nd off (we do however get Friday December 23rd off).

            1. A Different KatieF

              Funny, I work at a state university and we are getting Monday, January 2nd off but not Friday, December 23rd.

            2. Pam

              My state university will be closed Monday, January 2nd (and Winter quarter starts on 1/3). We will be working 12/23, but campus closes at noon, with a half-day holiday.

            3. Liz2

              As noted, “most places” use the Federal Holiday list as their own general guide for what paid days they will give employees as part of their compensation package. It’s not set in stone and can have variations.

              For the letter writer, there has been long standing expectation and agreement that the Christmas and new year federal holiday is also their paid day off. This year, at the zero hour, the employer has not only changed his mind, but isn’t offering another day as an alternative, essentially removing a paid day off which was always understood as part of the compensation package.

        2. blackcat

          The laws about federal holidays only apply to certain government offices.

          Different states have different policies. In MA, for example, businesses have to pay time and a half to hourly workers on certain state and federal holidays holidays. This means that some businesses in MA give more holidays (though sometimes unpaid) than elsewhere. It also mean that for hourly workers who do work on holidays are often happy to–a full shift at time and a half is a pretty solid incentive to work rather than take a long weekend.

          I was really surprised to learn this. I googled “why does Boston have so many holidays?” when I noticed that things that I had never thought of as observed holidays–like Columbus day–are full blown, people get a day off holidays. MA also has Patriots Day, which is a state holiday that people get off.

          1. PK

            Missouri has Truman’s day which is a state holiday for government here. I have always been curious if other states had their own special ones.

            1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

              Yup. Massachusetts has Patriot’s Day (and seeing as the roads in Boston completely shut down that day, kinda makes sense). There are also some states that recognize the day after Thanksgiving as well.

              1. blackcat

                One of these days, I’m going to find the energy to get up early enough to go to the Lexington reenactment on Patriots Day. I’m not into reenactments in general, but it seems like a nifty thing to do.

              1. fposte

                But that doesn’t mean you’re required to give people that day off. It just means that a lot of state-run things will be closed. I think some non-USAns were thinking that “federal holidays” meant “federally legislated holidays for everybody” rather than “days that are officially holidays but where closing is up to employers.”

                1. EngineerInNL

                  Canadian here and that’s definitely what I thought as that’s how it works in Canada. If you work a stat (aka federal) holiday you get paid double time in most places (in my province at least)

            2. Emily, admin extraordinaire

              Utah has Pioneer day (July 24). Most Utah-based businesses give their employees that day off, but national businesses with Utah locations don’t always observe it.

            3. Valor

              Vermont has Bennington Battle Day (August 16th), which state employees take off instead of Columbus Day. Vermont State employees also get Town Meeting Day off, as do teachers.

          2. Former Commonwealth of MA Employee

            If you work for the Commonwealth in Suffolk County, you also get Evacuation Day (March 17th) off.

          3. alter_ego

            Sundays are also considered holidays in MA for the sake of overtime laws. It doesn’t apply in every industry, but in retail, you got time and a half for working on Sundays. It was great, and for the people who did want to get that day off to go to church, there was never any shortage of people to take their place, because most of us were clamoring for the holiday pay.

    6. Zip Silver

      I’m with you, Anxa.

      Boxing Day isn’t celebrated in the US and the day after New Years is nothing special either. Expecting to take holidays on non-holidays is silly. The excuse that those days are when the federal government is celebrating doesn’t hold water with me. The reason the federal government recognizes this holidays is because they are Christmas and New Years, not because they are just-becauee days off work.

      1. Zip Silver

        Not that it matters, I suppose. We’ll be open on both holidays and I’ll be working since my normal off days are Wednesday/Thursday

      2. MsCHX

        As mentioned, it’s considered to be part of the overall compensation package. We’re a small employer and offer 9 paid holidays a year.
        NY Day
        Presidents Day
        Memorial Day
        Independence Day
        Labor Day
        Thanksgiving and day after
        Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

        Christmas, New Years and Ind. Day are variable days on the calendar. We’re not going to “take back” up to 4 days because the calendar fell our way. We promise 9 paid holidays and we pay for 9 holidays. Not because the federal government is closed (THAT is a silly wording).

        1. Zip Silver

          The compensation is that you get to be off work on a holiday. If the holiday falls of a day that you’re off anyway, then great. You’re still getting paid either way, because you’re working instead.

          1. Murphy

            Not just that. The compensation is also paid days off. It’s like losing a vacation day whenever the calendar falls a certain way.

          2. Oryx

            It’s not paid day v. day off, it’s a combined paid day off and I get 9 of them as part of my overall benefits package. So, yes, I’d be upset if it was taken away because of what the calendar says.

          3. Mustache Cat

            And if you never received paid vacation days again, that’d be fine because you’re still getting paid because you’re working instead?

          4. Mike C.

            The compensation is that you get a paid day off at a time where travel and time away from work is at a premium. Why do you keep saying things like this?

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Mike, can I ask that you cool it with the comments like “why do you keep saying things like this?” (Not just on this post, but more generally.) People keep saying things like X because that’s what they believe, and this kind of response makes the conversation more adversarial than it needs to be. Thank you!

          5. Gaia

            It is not getting the day off. It is getting paid for that day and getting it off (for hourly workers) or getting a day off that you would normally be working (for salaried workers) all without having to use your vacation time. In addition, at many companies, hourly workers who work on these holidays (if coverage is needed) get their holiday pay (often 8 hours) PLUS they get paid time and a half for the hours they actually work. So someone working 8 hours could end up being paid equal to 20 hours.

            I’ve worked for some pretty crappy companies but they’ve all handled it this way.

          6. Rusty Shackelford

            The compensation is that you get to be off work on a holiday.

            No, the compensation is that you get a “holiday day” which is a paid day off when you would normally be working. Sundays don’t fall under that category.

              1. Kelly L.

                Right, so it doesn’t count as one of my sick days. If my compensation says “You have 10 sick days,” then a sick Sunday doesn’t count as one of the 10, because I’d have been off anyway.

                By the same token, if my compensation says “You have 10 paid holidays,” then a Sunday holiday doesn’t count as one of the 10, because, again, I’d have been off anyway.

          7. paul

            No. If you are told you get X number of extra days off-as is the case in this particular example-and then you don’t get them, your compensation was effectively reduced.

            It’s a perfectly standard white collar norm to have the preceding Friday or following Monday off instead of the holiday day.

        2. Manic Pixie HR Girl

          Yup, this exactly. My office gives us the Monday if the holiday falls on a Sunday, but NOT the Friday if it falls on a Saturday … however, we do get comp time instead (registered as “holiday time” on our time sheets).

          OP – one suggestion/compromise? If he wants the office to be open (sounds like he does, perhaps people were trying to make appointments those days?), he could do something like that – this way, those already taking the time off wouldn’t be penalized, and those who would plan to come in if it wasn’t already a holiday would get the comp time for it. Win-win for everyone.

      3. MK

        Eh, that doesn’t actually make any sense. If the goverment only recognized those holidays because it is Christmas and New Year’s Day, it wouldn’t give its employees another day off in years when they fall on weekend days, but it does give them an extra day.

        The goverment is presumably not “celebrating” any holiday; what it does do is give its employees X number of days off and include Christmas and New Year’s Day in those days. When they fall on days the employees wouldn’t be working anyway, they give them another day off. If your employer has been following the goverment’s lead in this, I don’t see what’s so silly about wanting this to happen this year too.

        However, this year is not the first time this has happened. OP, is there a long-time employee in your workplace that can point out what happened the last time a holiday fell on Sunday or Saturday?

        Also, what exactly is the staff in a medical practice do when the doctor is away?

      4. Oryx

        We are promised 9 paid days off in addition to normal weekends so if the holiday falls on the weekend, the day off is bumped to a work day (because, again, these days are *in addition to* our normal days off).

        It’s okay if you are unfamiliar with it but please don’t call it silly.

        1. MsCHX

          Right. I can’t understand the bashing and calling it silly. Probably people who aren’t accustomed to the set up. And as we see here, with OP, doing it the way he is creates a morale issue.

      5. Gaia

        Actually, in countries where Boxing Day is a public holiday it is being observed on Tuesday, December 27th. Again, because the 26th is being observed as Christmas because Christmas is on a Sunday this year. Happens about every 7 years.

        1. Willow Barks

          Actually, in the UK it’s Christmas Day that is being substituted on the 27th. Boxing Day is still the 26th as it always is, and the 27th is the substitute Bank Holiday to make up for Christmas falling on the Sunday.

      6. Natalie

        “Expecting to take holidays on non-holidays is silly.”

        Literally every white collar job I’ve ever had and basically every white collar job I’ve ever heard of gives the observed day off if the holiday falls on a weekend. It’s incredibly normal and not remotely silly. Frankly, I have a hard time believing that you’re not familiar with this practice since it seems to be the norm.

        1. ThatGirl

          Yeah, I’m baffled by this. The whole idea is that you get an extra paid day off where you would normally be working.

          When I worked in newspapers, someone had to work on holidays. If you worked on Christmas Day, for instance, you not only got holiday pay (1.5x for the day), you also got an extra floating holiday to take some other day that week.

          1. Liz2

            That’s why my sister switched to doing Christmas with family on new years- she worked at the ER. Loved working on the holidays for the extra money and another day off to do errands.

        2. miss_chevious

          Yep. Because those holidays are part of the compensation package, not some sort of “when do you celebrate Christmas” question. My company gives 9 holidays a year. If they fall during the week, great, that’s when we get them. If they fall on the weekend, the company tells us if we get the Monday or Friday off instead. Taking them away in a case like this year means they just took away part of my compensation because of the Gregorian calendar.

          1. AnonAnalyst

            Yeah, I wonder if part of it is that some people have never seen how this is written into some (in the U.S., probably most) benefits packages. It is literally written as “X paid holidays per year” which is separate from your PTO/vacation bucket. Losing two paid days off because the holidays happened to fall on a weekend means that you are losing part of your compensation that year. Which would tick a lot of people off, frankly.

        3. Myrin

          This thread was literally the first place I’ve ever heard of this practice and I was incredibly confused. I’m German but have only ever had part-time jobs up until now so I don’t have any relevant white collar experience with holidays but I was pretty sure – just by what I absorbed via osmosis, i. e. living here – that here you indeed don’t get another paid day off if a holiday falls on the weekend. Well, it seems that I’m at least not completely ignorant to what’s going on around me because I googled it and it turns out I was right! In fact, I found some articles from just earlier this year where politicians demanded a change to exactly what apparently the US and lots of other European countries already have. I can only repeat a comment I posted here just yesterday: You learn something new every day!

          (I highly suspect we don’t have this law/rule because we have so many holidays as-is although of course the original point of losing out on one day remains.)

      7. Artemesia

        In the US we already generally get pitifully low numbers of paid days off. A typical newbie might get a week of vacation and ‘earn’ two after X years. Having more than 2 weeks is somewhat unusual. So every vacation day that is part of the work package is more valuable than it would be elsewhere. It has nothing to do with ‘celebrating’ the holiday; it has everything to do with the number of days off that are part of your employment package. To not accord two days off a year because the holiday falls on Sunday is to cheat the employer out of even more of their minimal time off.

    7. katamia

      In addition to what other people have said, a lot of people travel then, and with more travelers at this time of year plus the near certainty in some areas of bad weather, a lot of people might wind up really needing the extra day.

      1. Allison

        Exactly. If I spent Christmas at my apartment, or my parents’ house right outside the city, having to work on the 23rd and 26th wouldn’t be so bad. It would be a bummer that I wouldn’t get those two vacation days like I usually do, but not the end of the world. But I travel to another state to see family at Christmas and we always travel on the 23rd and 26th or 27th, I’d be really sad if I couldn’t go due to my work schedule.

    8. hbc

      The most common setup is that you get a paid day off from work on or near certain holidays, not that you don’t have to work on January 1st and December 25th. If you do it the latter way, you get screwed over in terms of time off.

      My small company plays a bit loose with the holidays because we have a paid shutdown (separate from PTO) for the week between Christmas and New Years. We’re closing on the 22nd and reopening on the 2nd, which is six paid weekdays. Other years, we might get as many as nine depending on where in the week the holidays fall–we’re not going to open on Monday the 23rd or 30th just to go on holiday again a day or two later. So you could say employees are getting screwed this year since they got more last year, but if you’re going to be upset that you only got six days off without using PTO, you can try to find another company that will do better.

            1. Fafaflunkie

              No, Labour Day is the day Canadians celebrate on the 1st Monday in September. Statutory holiday in all provinces, too.

              Labor Day is the day Americans work through the first Monday in September.

        1. Colette

          That’s more philosophical than an event that you attend, isn’t it? You could do that and be at work. So if the idea of not getting the 26th off is because it’s not Christmas and there’s nothing you have to do (ignoring the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas), the logic applies to a other holidays as well.

          1. Lissa

            Yeah, I see what you’re saying. The point of it is that it’s a holiday, not that people are like “I can’t wait to gather around the worker bee tree with my family for Labour Day while we dine on traditional Labour Day foods.”

    9. Oryx

      It’s not that it’s a day off, it’s that it’s a PAID day off. As part of compensation, many white collar jobs offer a certain number of paid days off that usually align with federal holidays. If the holiday falls on a weekend, the employee already has that day off so they will give them with the Friday or Monday to make it a paid day off.

    10. Misc

      Google ‘mondayised holidays’ – it’s a very normal thing and they’re official law in most countries with actual legally enshrined paid holidays. Also known as a ‘bank holiday’ in the UK. If the normal work week is monday to friday, it makes sense to ‘bump’ holidays to mondays if they land on the weekend.

      1. katamia

        Huh. I never knew that’s what a bank holiday officially was, lol. I just knew UK and AUS friends would sometimes have them.

        1. Rebeck

          New South Wales has a seriously weird (to me) “Bank Holiday” where the banks are shut but everyone else is still working. Confused the heck out of me when I first worked in Sydney. And not fun when you’re a property lawyer and have to organise all your cheques the previous Friday.

      2. AcademiaNut

        In Taiwan, until last year it wasn’t standard to give a compensatory day if the stat holiday fell on a weekend. Then, we hit a year where every single stat holiday after New Year’s (five in total, I think) was on a weekend, and they changed it.

      3. Manic Pixie HR Girl

        I actually always assumed “bank holiday” meant the banks are closed. (Which they are.) I tend to use it when people ask about mail or banks. IE to my mom on the Saturday after Thanksgiving: “Is the bank open today?” “Yes, mom, only Thanksgiving is a bank holiday.” (Actual conversation as we were pulling into the bank parking lot.)

    11. Alton

      Having a holiday off isn’t always just about having that time to celebrate the holiday. It’s very possible that some of the employees don’t even celebrate Christmas, for example. A big part of the reasoning behind having Christmas off is that a lot of people celebrate, yes, but a lot of jobs give people paid federal holidays as a benefit, and if those holidays fall on days you wouldn’t have worked, anyway, then you don’t receive that benefit.

      I don’t celebrate Christmas, so which days I get off doesn’t really matter to me. But my workplace doesn’t operate on Christmas, and it’s nice having time off. If I have to work my regular schedule, I’m not getting time off.

      1. SpaceySteph

        Yeah, the paid day off is still a benefit regardless of whether I am celebrating something or just enjoying an extra day in my PJs. If you get federal holidays off, it’s not like you’re *celebrating* something on Columbus day either or President’s day. Sure there’s some thing you’re supposedly celebrating, but most people don’t have an observance tied to them and probably wouldn’t care one way or another if they had that day off, except that X number of paid days off is part of your compensation for doing your job.

    12. Gaia

      In many jobs, part of the benefit package is “X public holidays.” It is understood that these are in addition to normally scheduled days off. So if the holiday falls on your normally scheduled day off, the company observes the holiday the following work day. This is very common when holidays fall on weekends – Saturday holidays will be observed Friday, Sunday holidays will be observed Monday.

      In fact, this is based on Federal Holidays. If you look at your calendar, January 2nd 2017 is likely labeled “New Years Day (observed).”

    13. nonymous

      The general approach is that compensation packages specify X hours PTO and Y days observed holidays (dates specified by employer). What the OP is describing is an employer that has identified that the value Y varies from year to year, depending on the calendar. That is all fine and good *if it is stated up front* but it is tremendously unfair to staff if the employer is changing so late in the game. There could be legal ramifications if this new policy does not conform to the practices laid out in the company handbook.

      Regardless, an employer should provide staff information in a timely manner to both set expectations appropriately and ensure that staff is equipped to fulfill job duties. For staff that scheduled time off but now do not have the PTO to cover it (b/c they were counting on the cultural practice of shifting a particular holiday into the workweek), will they be jeopardizing their employment because of conflict with other leave policies? will they be able to pay all bills like rent/utilities if they take the time off unpaid? will they lose out on prepaid travel by coming into work?

      From the employer’s perspective, will they lose employees over this? For some part-time workers, they are employed in this capacity because their first priority is spending time with the family (think very traditional defined male/female roles where the job is just to keep wife occupied/earn mad money while kiddos are at school), and they would quit over this. Not to mention the higher turnover.

    14. CAA

      This is a cultural thing. In the U.S. and many other countries, it’s a common practice to shift the paid day off to a weekday when a holiday falls on a weekend. This is just how it’s done in these places. It’s normal and expected, and a business that does not do this is defying the cultural norms.

      Some countries do not shift holidays. In Israel, if a high holy day falls on a weekend, they don’t get a weekday off to make up for missing the paid day off. In China, they have a couple of large festivals where everyone gets a week off, but then they have government mandated work days on weekends to make up for some of those dates. These cultures just have a different cultural expectation around how holidays are handled in relation to weekends.

    15. catsAreCool

      I think the problem is that people were expecting the day off and planning on it, and it got yanked away with very little warning.

  10. Greg M.

    the store I work for has a christmas party each year. employees are covered but guests cost $20. honestly it seems pretty reasonable. It lets them know how much food to order and it stops people from taking advantage. varying amounts is weird though.

    1. Liz2

      I can see that. I just know with all the hassle and work stress and consequences, it’s better to either have a real celebration and eat any excess or just not do anything.

      I was burned my first year in white collar work- our company’s “celebration” was three days of an offsite buffet luncheon which you were assigned a day, given strict timing on and had to provide your own transport.

      If a companies intent is to create festive and grateful spirit, caring so much about all that just negates the point.

    1. hbc

      It’s unlikely to come up, but if it does, state what you know, non-judgmentally and without assumptions.

      Them: “It says here you were the lead on the spout redesign project. I’ve interviewed a coworker of yours who said the same thing.” OP: “That’s surprising. I did all the planning, led meetings, assigned tasks, and reported to senior management on a monthly basis. My supervisor at the time can confirm that, and with a little digging, I can probably find the project kick-off documents that include the key roles. In fact, I believe I’m the only person who worked on the project who had the title of Teapot Lead.” Or…

      Them: “It sounds like you guys had a ton of Teapot Leads over there.” OP: “Hmm, out of a team of twenty, I believe we had three, all of us with at least 2 years experience. Is that unusual compared to this company?”

    2. Anonymous Educator

      It doesn’t have to come up, but I think if the interviewer is good, she will ask questions to get at the heart of what exactly you do and what exactly your position is in relation to others.

      I would highly recommend, though, that interviewers not pay attention to job titles. I’ve worked in both places that inflate titles for fairly low-level work and places that deflate titles for fairly high-level work.

      As an interviewer, even if the candidate isn’t lying, you should ask questions that suss out “Oh, so being a lead is essentially the same as what you were doing before but just with a different title.” And I would also follow up in the reference check to make sure what the interviewee said is actually true.

      1. Trout 'Waver

        I generally agree with you when it comes to evaluating candidates from different companies that titles may be different in different places. But the issue here is that the interviewer would assume that the Leads where above the non-Leads at this company. In which case they may not even interview the non-Leads.

    3. Contrarian Annie

      Tell them what you’ve observed (tactfully) about the LinkedIn lies. They need to know what they’re dealing with and you are just telling the truth!

      1. Zombii

        As general advice to anyone who may see this, if you’re ever in an interview and find yourself in need of the phrase “but I’m just telling the truth!” bite your tongue hard and fast because that is indicative of all kinds of drama and no one wants a drama hire.

  11. Newish Reader

    #1: I think it’s always important that employees know the possible outcomes to their work. That they need to perform at level X to be eligible for a raise or to be able to complete A, B, and C tasks or skills to maintain their employment. For some employees, that could be demotivating and they might decide this job isn’t what they want and job hunt. Or it could be motivating and spur them to make the effort needed. In either case, being up front about the situation is usually best.

    I’ve had employees that were on formal performance plans and had provided them with written documentation of the improvements needed, the timeframe for those improvements, and the fact that failure to improvement could result in termination. In a few cases, those employees still acted blindsided when they were terminated. But at least as a manager I knew that I had been above-board and the employees had all of the information available about how this could turn out. It’s rarely easy to let someone go, but at least I feel better knowing it was all done as ethically as possible.

    1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.

      IME, no matter what you say and how clearly you say it, there’s a big chunk of people who are still shocked when they are terminated.

      I think you tell them clearly because it’s the right thing to do and then there’s hopefully benefit to the employee, but don’t count on it. You can twist yourself in knots trying to rescue people and I don’t think I’ve ever had that pay off. Helping people to succeed, absolutely, rescuing them no.

      1. Newish Reader

        Unfortunately, there does seem to be a percentage of employees without self-accountability and responsibility but that do have a large sense of entitlement (at least in my experience). Fortunately, there are also the percentage of good employees that managers can help to succeed, but boy are those others really draining.

        I think one of my “favorite” experiences with a PIP was working diligently to try to help rescue the employee, giving her every chance and all the appropriate tools to improve and succeed. In one of our regular meetings to discuss her progress toward the improvement goals, she stated that the problem was all me, that her friends in other offices agreed, and that I needed to seek mental health services.

        1. Trout 'Waver

          I had one where an employee was not meeting his PIP. After being informed of that fact, he went to HR behind my back and made unfounded ethics complaints against me. That was fun.

    2. RVA Cat

      Honestly, since it seems like a poor fit, wouldn’t the guy moving on be the best outcome for everyone? Manager does not have to fire him, he does not get fired, company does not have to pay unemployment, etc.

  12. Cristina in England

    Are letters 2 and 4 the same letter, split in two? I am surprised to have two letters on the same day where HR won’t confirm job titles! (And the company recently being bought as well)

    1. MsCHX

      The first company is closing its doors and everyone is out of work. There won’t be anyone around to verify job titles.

      The second company is also closing its doors but not really. With mergers and acquisitions, ESPECIALLY with the staff largely remaining in tact, there’s no reason the new company cannot maintain info (for only 75 people!!!) that includes dates of employment and job title (and final salary for things like loans). That could simply be an excel spreadsheet! It’s just lazy and poor HR service.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

        Actually, I read it as, HR wouldn’t confirm Sally was a Teapot Lead because she WASN’T a Teapot Lead. I think HR will still be in operation, just at an alternate location.

        1. MsCHX

          “. Our HR guy recently let us know that he isn’t allowed to perform reference checks/employment verifications for the old company, or start dates if we started with the old company and stayed on during the merge. ”
          She is saying that he will not verify employment regarding the prior company at all.

          With OP #2, she’s saying that obviously that isn’t their job title and won’t be verified as such by HR. However the company will close it’s doors mid-December. After that, the coworkers will be able to say whatever they want because there’s no one to verify the information.

          1. Manic Pixie HR Girl

            Sorry, I was referring to the first company, not the second.

            Company for OP 1 was acquired and New, Larger Company’s HR would presumably take on the task of verifying employment. (In theory.)

              1. Rain before snow

                OP from letter #2 here “coworkers lying about their job titles.” To explain a little more, even though our company was acquired and my center closes in a couple weeks, there is a third party in charge of employment checks for us ongoing (presumably salary, title, dates, etc). Therefore, it would be easy for a potential employer to find the job title discrepancy and withdraw an offer or totally blacklist, which I don’t think has occurred to the coworkers who are doing this. I’m frustrated by the lying, but also wondering if it would be worth trying to “save them from themselves.” It’s a bad situation and I think people are just being naïve and desperate. We will still have employment checks/accountability for everyone after the center itself closes.

      2. aeldest (OP 4)

        Unfortunately it’s not the HR guy’s policy, it’s our new upper management.

        But yeah, I really think it’s BS–they’re still keeping all the records for clients, trying to collect money owed to the old company, and even using old employment records to say yes or no to employees who are looking to come back for seasonal positions, so it’s like they’re just selectively picking and choosing where it’s a merge and where it’s an acquisition or something.

  13. Jwal

    OP4, if they made this announcement in an email (or if you could get them to confirm by email) then would you be able to make a copy of this as part of the things you show to future employers?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Probably not. It’s very possible there are other doctors in the practice, but besides that, in a medical office there is always paperwork to be done, patients to be called, inventory to take, etc.

      1. yasmara

        I think that’s the problem, though – the office *will* be closed, but the employees have to use their own vacation for those 2 days or they will be unpaid for them since Boss Owner isn’t considering them holidays. So there’s no real choice to work & get paid. It’s use vacation or be unpaid.

  14. Former Retail Manager

    OP#2: I have known people that did what your co-workers are doing and to be honest it worked out well for some of them, others not so much. I formerly worked for a large national company that, in its heyday, had over 5,000 locations and at least 10-15,000 employees. That company is now entirely gone. Some of my former co-workers inflated their position titles when applying for other jobs assuming that once the company was gone, it was highly unlikely that the company that acquired the business’ old naming rights would bother to verify that information. We used The Work Number for employee verification. Whether or not their references were actually checked remains unknown to me and them, but some got a better gig at much higher pay than they would have if had been honest about their title and are succeeding in their positions. (Note: They were ridiculously underpaid at our old employer and both raises and promotions had been frozen for at least the last 5 years the company existed in operation so it’s not like many of them didn’t have higher level abilities.) However, I do know of one person who got busted. He was called on it, admitted he lied, and didn’t get the job he applied for. It was retail so he didn’t care about being blacklisted….a million fish in the sea and such.

    I totally agree with Alison’s advice, but human nature tells me that your co-workers likely aren’t going to stop what they’re doing. The economy and certain industries and geographic areas are still recovering, in my opinion, and stiff competition/potential financial ruin can entice people to take actions they wouldn’t normally take. I’d hold your head high knowing that you’re being honest. If it ever came up organically in an interview in which one of your co-workers who lied was known to be being considered for the same position as you, you might be able to casually mention how you worked so well together when you were the lead and they were the teapot maker and follow up with some examples of how your leadership and skills sets you apart from the lying candidate. Doubtful that opportunity would present itself, but you never know.

    And for what it’s worth, I am so sorry this is happening to you with such short notice and around the holidays. Best of luck!

    1. Hlyssande

      Ugh, The Work Number. My giant industrial company uses that and it’s frustrating. When I moved to my current apartment, I had to print off a pay stub for verification because The Work Number requires you to pay to verify though it – they don’t just charge the company whose employees are getting verified.

      1. Former Retail Manager

        Yep….I’m not sure if they are still operating in the same manner. It sounds like they are. When I hired for retail, virtually all large, national retail chains used them and the people verifying references were never given information for the company’s account so I had no means of paying to check the applicant’s reference. So guess what I did? Took them at their word most of the time unless I got a vibe that something was off. Obviously, I tried to get their manager to talk to me which was usually fruitless as well as attempting to contact other employers that didn’t use The Work Number. I hate one applicant that had worked at 3 different places and all used The Work Number. HA! I took them at their word.

  15. Myrin

    OP #2, one thing that stood out to me in your letter was this: “This sucks, because if we interview for the same job and I describe my projects and leadership responsibilities, the manager may assume the other “Teapot Leads” from the same company probably have similar daily responsibilities”.

    I’m not quite sure how that situation would arise since presumably they’ll ask everyone they interview about their projects and leadership responsibilities; they won’t ask only you and then for some reason think the same answers are a given with regards to your colleagues. If your still-coworkers speak truthfully about their responsibilities and projects – which I realise they might not do but let’s assume anyway – it will become apparent that you are the one who really was in a leading position in your company.

    1. KimmieSue

      OP2 – I rarely disagree with AMA’s advice, but I would not mention this to your co-workers. I’d encourage you to focus on your job search and experience. Even if you interview for the same role, the experience that you’ve gained would shine through. If your peers have inflated their titles or responsibilities, it will become clear to experienced interviewers.
      While I’m very emphatic to your situation, I’d encourage you to use your time and energy on more positive activities – finding your next gig!

  16. NYsee

    My husband worked for the American Museum of Natural History for a while. That was a holiday party you’d die to go to. Dinner under the big blue whale. Chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. They’d bring in animals like iguanas and owls that you could get up close to. Sometimes Neil DeGrasse Tyson would bust a move while the band played.

    1. Red Reader

      Target sells dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets in their freezer section. I never buy the regular ones anymore and the youngest person in my house is 26 :)

      1. The Strand

        Dinosaur shaped nuggets, a comfy couch, and a “Cosmos” marathon would be a second best party…but still fun.

    2. hermit crab

      Haha, as a Smithsonian education volunteer, I’m one of the people walking around with the animals at those parties. :)

    3. The Expendable Redshirt

      Alright, now I have to find an employee of the American Museum of Natural History to marry. I would do so just to attend this party.

    4. Mockingjay

      I love the big blue whale. We went to that museum every year as a child. It was a landmark for each visit!

    5. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms

      It is a scientific fact that chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs are far superior in taste to blob-nuggets.

  17. Katie the Fed

    OP1 – your colleague’s comments make no logical sense. If you’re going to fire him anyway, the best case scenario is him finding another job anyway. So, win/win. Bottom line – it’s the responsible and compassionate thing to do.

  18. Acquisition Pro

    OP 4 – I work for a company that does about 3 acquisitions a year. Try pushing this question up to someone in the HR department of the company that bought yours. It’s my experience that a lot of assumptions are made in the first months (or years even!), particularly if there are any bad feelings about the fact that you’ve been acquired. Ex: one admin once told her entire company that we “didn’t even have official letterhead,” because she had not been given it on day 2. We have almost 700 employees. We most assuredly have letterhead. :P

    Re: this situation in particular, seniority often comes with you. When things like payroll and benefits are transitioned to the company that acquired you, you will all be set up as new employees. Sometimes that happens immediately, sometimes it is delayed by weeks or months. At that time though, your start date is usually post-dated to your start date with your old company.

  19. sssssssssss

    In my experience, it is extremely common to have the party covered for the employee and the +1 has to pay, especially in large companies where the parties might have 100+ people attending. The 15-20$ covers usually a four-course meal, door prizes, two drink tickets, and a nice evening out. A Christmas party at a hotel or conference centre venue with two bottles of wine at the table, a four-course meal, drink tickets and a DJ for approximately 100 people can cost easily $10,000 so charging the +1 is a good idea since the party is really for the staff.

    Last year, there was a Xmas luncheon for staff only and it was free for staff. And there was also a huge bash at the War Museum and everybody had to pay, staff included, due to the venue and meal. Considering how much food and wine there was and the quality of the door prizes and the nice venue (eat surrounded by tanks! Really, it’s nicer than it sounds), it was worth the $30 for me to celebrate with my team; but my husband declined (which is usual).

    (Then we had a smaller team potluck – I was partied out by the 24th.)

    My friend works for the federal government and they have to pay for their Xmas luncheons and there is never a +1. I told her, gee, that’s no fun to have to pay for your Xmas lunch (and it was expensive!) but she said the government can’t be seen wasting tax payer dollars on a Xmas party. I replied, as a tax payer, I’m not that stingy on how my tax dollars are spent as long as it was done responsibly.

    1. a govt employee

      My friend works for the federal government and they have to pay for their Xmas luncheons and there is never a +1. I told her, gee, that’s no fun to have to pay for your Xmas lunch (and it was expensive!) but she said the government can’t be seen wasting tax payer dollars on a Xmas party. I replied, as a tax payer, I’m not that stingy on how my tax dollars are spent as long as it was done responsibly.

      But one taxpayer’s “responsibly” is another taxpayer’s “wasteful.” Also, there are rules and laws – it’s not like your neighborhood government agency is making this decision on their own. When it’s illegal for you to buy donuts for a meeting, you’re unlikely to test the waters re: a holiday party.

    2. CM

      That’s nice of you, but most people are very sensitive about how their tax dollars are spent! And I understand and agree — I don’t want my tax dollars going to parties either. (However, I would be in favor of paying gov employees closer to fair market salaries so government jobs would attract and retain qualified people.)

      I was so happy when my government agency let its annual holiday party fizzle out. No more paying out of my own pocket and finding childcare in order to spend even more time with my coworkers! (Who were perfectly nice people, but I was content to just see them in the office.)

      1. sssssssss

        In Canada, they do earn fair market salaries when permanent. And they are unionized.

        My friend would likely prefer an office potluck to a luncheon where the food was not great for the money or not party at all at her government office.

      2. Student

        It should be at least somewhat pegged to industry norms, IMO. Maybe not 100% of the norm, but allowing some “perks” budget makes the government jobs look more reasonable when compared to industry than they do now, which would reduce turnover costs and bringing in more productive/higher quality talent. Some of the penny-pinching definitely chases away talent. The same principles/structures that bar the government offices from paying for office parties and coffee also lead to these places not funding conference attendance that’s necessary for keeping your career healthy and industry knowledge fresh.

        I’m not keen on office parties, either, but if you’re only willing to pay for people who are middle-talent and unambitious with tax dollars, you only get people who are middle-talent and unambitious in federal jobs.

        1. a govt employee

          My gummint job doesn’t include perks like fancy holiday parties but it does come with a pretty solid pension, which I prefer.

        2. doreen

          The same principles/structures that bar the government offices from paying for office parties and coffee also lead to these places not funding conference attendance that’s necessary for keeping your career healthy and industry knowledge fresh.

          That’s not necessarily true- my state agency sends people to conferences all the time. And runs a fair amount of statewide meetings on its own – which require hotel rooms and transportation for dozens of people. But those things have a business purpose that having holiday parties at approximately 100 work locations (for my agency alone) doesn’t.

          As I’ve said before, government work tends to come with the bigger perks like pensions, more time off and good health insurance but not the smaller ones like coffee and water coolers and holiday parties. I’ll take the pension and time off over free coffee and parties any day.

    3. Artemesia

      And yet the big shots get limos on the government dime. I had colleagues who were big shot consultants during the Reagan administration and I’ll never forget the yutz who told us ‘of course I had to have a limo, you can’t arrive at the White House in a cab’.

  20. Roscoe

    #2 I’d actually disagree. LinkedIn job history is no more of a resume than endorsments on LinkedIN are references. If they were lying on their resume, I think thats a bit different. But fudging your title on Linkedin to me is different. I’m not saying its necessarily honest, but I definitely think its different. Especially considering all of the “creative” titles people have these days. I get that for OP it might suck, but I would stay out of it. Its hard enough that they are looking for the same job as their friends. Trying to shame them is just going to impact your friendship.

    #3 I don’t think its outrageous. I mean, some people don’t like when spouses/partners aren’t invited to holiday parties. But the reality is, all companies can’t afford to have them there. Would you rather your company give raises out or give everyone a free +1 to the party. It can really come down to that. So I think this is a fair compromise. If you really want your partner there, they can pay.

    1. Contrarian Annie

      LinkedIn may not be a “resume” in the conventional sense, but it sounds like people are misrepresenting themselves to potential employers (I assume, isn’t that the point of putting up a profile?) so it’s still sketchy. It’s much easier to go into an interview as a “Teapot manufacturing Lead” (or whatever) if the recruiter’s expectations have already been set accordingly…

    2. Purple Jello

      If my raise is equivalent to the cost of a +1 at the holiday party, then let me bring my guest. I’ll be looking for a job where I can get real raises

      1. Roscoe

        Not saying YOUR raise, but rasies in general. Like depending on whats happening at the party and the size of the company, giving everyone a +1 could be really big

  21. not really a lurker anymore

    I work for local gov’t. Our holiday Administration party is paid for by the top level management team. They cover the costs for employees but it’s about $45 per guest. How fun it is really depends on that top level, I’m told. In 10 years, I’ve never actually made it to one of the parties.

    Slightly different case but at a vendor conference in Vegas, the Sunday night kickoff party charges about $25 for a guest. Last I attended, my spouse came with me. He hadn’t truly believed my stories of the free flowing booze and food at the evening “fun” events until then. I think there were 8-10 alcohol stations to 5-6 food stations.

    1. Lauren

      Holy cow! That is a setup ripe for those embarrassing “I/my spouse/my boss/my co-worker got drunk at the office Christmas party” situations that pop up here.

  22. Been there

    #1
    Getting fired with zero warning was the worst surprise of my entire life. I had no inkling when the big boss pulled me into the HR office on a Friday afternoon. NONE. In fact, I was laughing on the way in, saying oh hey, what did I do? in a joking manner. When he launched into “we’re letting you go” it was so shocking, I couldn’t even comprehend what he was saying. This was years ago, and I still feel like throwing up every time I think about it. And even now I won’t “get comfortable” at a job because I’m ready to be let go at any minute — I don’t even put personal things on my desk.

    Mine wasn’t performance based (I’d received an excellent review, a promotion, and an out of guidelines bonus in the months leading up to the firing), it was political. So perhaps this is a bit different. But I will never, ever fire an employee without specific warning upfront. Where I say “You will be fired if things don’t change.” Because doing otherwise is a really uncool thing to do to someone.

    1. Anonorama

      I had almost the exact same experience! It was terrible. At some point a few years later I went to a “career counselor” who wanted to just work on my resume, but I basically used her as work therapy and cried about the firing a couple of times, and it really helped a lot. It’s hard to do well enough in your next job if you’re always afraid of being unjustly fired. So I’d recommend a couple of sessions with a therapist about it. It helped me a lot! Even though the person wasn’t technically a therapist, lol.

      1. zora

        I need to do this soon, because we had meetings about the annual review process today and I was having a mild panic attack thinking about it, thanks to my last job where my boss yelled at me all the time, and held every tiny thing against me as proof that I sucked at my job. Thanks for reminding me, I really need to talk this out with a therapist before I am actually sitting in a review meeting with my boss, because I might actually start crying which would be awful!

    2. Alton

      Something similar happened to me, though it was a job I’d only been in shortly so I hadn’t built up a ton of confidence. I knew I wasn’t totally perfect, but I felt like I was picking it up pretty well. I didn’t receive much coaching at all, and when I did, it was pretty minor stuff and I was receptive to it. A couple times, one of the managers asked me how I thought I was doing, and her tone was a little weird–but when I took those opportunities to ask for feedback, I never got any.

      Then, out of the blue, they were letting me go because it “wasn’t working out.” I was totally shocked and unprepared to respond–which sucked because it gradually became apparent that a vindictive coworker had lied about my performance and that some of the info they were working off of was false, but I didn’t feel like I had a chance to respond.

      (Actually, I think that’s another important reason to talk to an employee before firing them. If there’s any possibility that they could respond in a way that might make you reconsider, they deserve the opportunity to do that.)

  23. Brett

    #4 Billy Idol and Aretha Franklin have played at my brother-in-law’s company’s holiday party (and those are just the two I can remember). Spouses generally want to go to that party.

    1. Mike B.

      Some years ago, my place had a game show-themed party with speeches and performances beforehand, and they brought in Chuck Woolery to emcee. That was probably our high water mark for office parties.

  24. cncx

    Re OP 1, an anecdote on why it is probably a good idea to give the employee a heads up : I was in a position where i had moved cities to take a job. Due to my location and industry, even though i was unhappy and it was a bad fit, i had strong reason to believe that i had three months minimum left in that job and probably closer to six. (short version: the department was new, they advertised a senior post which i applied for and got, wound up needing related junior tasks i had done to perfection in previous jobs. I was doing junior tasks and getting overpaid to do so so i needed to go, but like i said, location and industry with long hiring processes means firing me was not the first option and they had time and money to waste, especially because it was middle management and needed a lot of signoff).

    My manager had the “do you want to be fired or do you want to resign” discussion with me the day after SHE KNEW i had signed the lease for an apartment in that city and four weeks before i would have been eligible for unemployment and severance. because of the signoff she needed, she probably started the process as soon as i was hired and never told me, never even gave me an inkling that she was on that road. i think it was especially crappy of her on a personal level when she knew that i was making plans to make the move final by signing the lease. I know some leases have a get out clause, but for Reasons (location etc) that wasn’t possible and she lives her and knew exactly what the implications were. I am not mad i don’t have that job anymore (it sucked and she sucked) but i am still mad at the fact that she let me sign that lease knowing darn well she was about to end things and especially when firing me a day earlier would have worked for me much better logistically, or even letting me stay four weeks until unemployment doing the admin work no one did while i was gone, which would not have even touched their bottom line as the new hire came in almost six months later at half salary.

    tl;dr OP1 i am 100% positive you are not as bad of a person or manager as my ex boss, but give the employee a heads up so that they aren’t making plans (like a new mortgage or even just christmas money) outside of work on this job’s paycheck

    1. cncx

      I realized part of my rant wasn’t clear- signing the lease locked me into moving to that city, not signing the lease meant i could have gone back to my old city like nothing happened. letting me stay until unemployment kicked in would have been a kind option, as well. And ex boss knew this. so i was stuck in a new city unemployed and she still couldn’t fill that position for six months. just a bad situation.

    2. Mike B.

      Good grief. I can understand not being eligible for unemployment, but they actually let you relocate to take a job, fired you almost immediately, and didn’t give you any severance? I hope you tore into them on Glassdoor.

  25. Christine

    2. My coworkers are lying about their job titles on LinkedIn

    OP, is it possible to get a letter of recommendation from your supervisor, etc.? If you submit a copy with your application materials, it might help.

    1. Trout 'Waver

      Not following the application protocol by submitting extra materials is a huge red flag. Don’t do that if you’re applying blindly. If you know someone where you’re applying, though, it’s a different story.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I wouldn’t say it’s a huge red flag, but it’s a little eye-rolly and it’s something you don’t see strong candidates do. Either way, letters of recommendation submitted at the application stage are generally considered worthless in most fields (academia and parts of law excepted).

  26. nonymous

    OP1 if you’re going to fire this relative anyways (e.g. the previous discussions re: performance have not resulted in any improvement) effective the next pay period, why just let them know now and call the time between now and then severance? Do you think that after receiving this notice your employee will keep putting forth a good faith effort? Even when the separation is by employee choice (e.g. retirement, going off to school), it is rare that the last week is highly productive because the departing employee is passing off tasks as transition.

    I’d personally argue that if the company can afford it and in the interest of maintaining family relations, just give the person the rest of the December off paid. Regardless of justification, it sucks to lose one’s paycheck right before a major holiday, and you probably have already budgeted for her holiday hours anyways (not like that other professional office).

  27. Solidus Pilcrow

    Sr. Blogger Green,

    Would you consider doing a post on what documentation a person should keep for their work history? Between applying for unemployment benefits, job applications, and this site, I realized there was documentation I should have kept but didn’t (or had a hard time finding). I think I have a fair list, but I would like to see your and others’ take on it.

    Or I can put this in the next open thread.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Hmm, my basic answer would just be performance evaluations and paystubs (maybe one per year, not all of them). I’m not sure you really need more than that! Are there things I’m not thinking of?

      1. Solidus Pilcrow

        Thanks for answering! I didn’t think of performance evals. I’ll admit that some of my issues with documentation came from working at one place for 17 years (first job out of college) and doing a purge before moving, not realizing I should have kept some things. :(

        Other docs I was thinking: original offer letter/salary doc, W-2 for each year (or paystubs will work, I suppose), raise/increase letters*, original job description.

        Not so much actual documents, but information I had to dig for when filing for unemployment or filling out applications: company address and phone number (I worked for a branch office of a company incorporated/headquartered in a different state; there were a few address changes, both at the branch and HQ level, that I had to dig up for the unemployment application), manager names, beginning and end salaries*, official title**, exact start date (after 17 years, I remembered the month and year, not the exact day).

        * — Admittedly, my pay situation was complicated due to a bonus scheme where my W-2 did not match the “official” salary info from the company (that is, I took home ~$3600 a year in bonuses over what my employer had recorded as my salary). It was a bit of a struggle to remember what my actual beginning and end salaries were vs what I actually took home.

        ** — Again, this may just be my complication, but almost everyone at my former employer was a “Sr. Staff Analyst” regardless of experience or time with the company. A basic description of the role, like “Tea Pot Documentation”, didn’t necessarily match the official title with HR.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I don’t think you’re typically going to have use for the original offer letter or job description … but there’s certainly no harm in keeping them!

  28. Amber Rose

    Not only does husband’s workplace charge $25 per person for the Christmas party, there are limited tickets so not everyone can go. They have multiple parties to try make up for that but all but the first one are kid friendly events (and the first one sells out months in advance) so we won’t bother. Alison is right: I just don’t care that much.

    On the other hand my boss doesn’t charge and runs an open bar at a cool venue, plus pays cab fare, so husband does kinda look forward to it.

  29. J

    Would someone really be called out for having an inflated title on LinkedIn during the reference check process? I would assume that the title being verified is the one on the resume and/or application itself rather than whatever it is one puts on a social media site.

    1. MsCHX

      I would presume if they are using the inflated title publicly, they are using it on resumes that are being submitted.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I would assume the same thing.

        Someone once told me to inflate my title when I was looking–“My friends do it all the time and then they get these cool jobs and just learn on the job.” Um NO. And don’t you have to learn a new job anyway!? Sheesh.

      2. J

        I would not presume the same, just based on how I use LI.

        I talk about my jobs on LI in a very different way than I do on my resume. My resume is somewhat targetted because I’m using it to get a job. Anyone I’m remotely connected with can see my LI profile, so that’s a geared a little more toward a general audience.

        1. J

          In any event, I do use the same titles on both. Mostly because I can’t be bothered to be overly creative on LI. LI is my equivalent of Richard Sherman’s “I’m just here so I don’t get fined”.

            1. Rain before snow

              Actually, I feel the same about LinkedIn as you–I only have mine b/c I don’t want people to think I’m weird for not following “professional norms” and targeting each individual resume is the way to go.

  30. limenotapple

    I wonder if the answer to #5 changes if it *is* in the employee handbook that these specific holidays, when occurring on a Sunday, are observed on a Monday and everyone gets a day off. I’ve seen this with a couple academic institutions, and it just seems kind of short-sighted. Sure, it squeezes a little more work out of people, but at the cost of good will and everyone having to reset their expectations. If you planned based on the handbook…well that is pretty disappointing.

  31. Jessesgirl72

    #3 sounds like a company that had the party employees only, and there was kickback from someone high up who wants to bring their spouse. The fee cuts down the number of spouses attending, and pays for the few who do. I have heard of some really awesome holiday parties. If the ones the OP attends are that awesome, the fee is probably worth it for the spouse. If not, then the spouse has a good reason to stay home.

  32. Imaginary Number

    OP #3: That’s completely normal, from what I’ve seen. The choice is usually between a nicer holiday party for employees-only or a cheaper one and include spouses. If you choose option 1, some of the married employees get grumpy. If you choose option 2, some of the single employees feel like they’re giving up the nicer dinner in order to accommodate people who don’t even work there. Having spouses pay their way is actually a really nice alternative. You can still do the nicer event and open it up to any spouses who really want to come.

    There can also be issues with funds designated for “employee morale events” that have strict rules about who that money can be spent on.

  33. Is it Friday Yet?

    OP #3, I have to wonder if it is because the company asks employees if they are bringing a guest, employee(s) say yes, and then they don’t. Then the company has forked over money for food/drinks for people who did not end up attending.

  34. Shelly

    RE #2: I’m curious where people feel like the line is on this. I certainly don’t think you should put, “Supervisory Teapot Maker” when you were just a “Teapot Maker”. That’s unethical. But what about job titles where the title doesn’t cover all your duties and/or is needlessly confusing.

    For example if your official job title is, “Teapot Designer and Engraving Specialist for the Department of Purple Teapots.” Can you shorten it to, “Teapot Designer and Engraving Specialist”?

    And before someone says, “Just get your job title changed.” I can say from personal experience that the process for Job Title Changes is not always possible. Thoughts?

    1. MsCHX

      I worked for a company that was going out of business. That company was full of poor title choices. FULL. So many Directors and VPs of nothing. Anyway, every one else, below the level of Director, had titles that were more junior than their duties suggested and were never receptive to changing them.

      I was very close to my manager and informed her that I would be using HR Generalist vs. HR Assistant going forward because I performed the duties of a generalist in that role, NOT an assistant. And she was fine with that and it’s how she performed references for me.

      I would not however, have claimed to be an HR Manager when my actual title was HR Assistant.

      1. Jessesgirl72

        My husband worked for a company that didn’t believe in Titles. When he was being hired, he asked what his Title would be, and they told him they didn’t go for things like that there. So on his resume and when filling in the fields on applications, he has to give himself the Title he would have held in a normal company. If anyone has called the other company to verify, it’s never come up.

        Where he works now, they all have weird titles (not inflated, just very specific) but at least it’s something to put on the application, and then any curious interviewers can ask.

      2. Rain before snow

        My take on it is that it depends on the company/job. At my company, there is a lot of overlap between “Teapot Lead” and “Teapot Manager” in terms of what the person does for 8 hours per day–although I am being honest and sticking with my actual job title on my resume. However, for “Teapot Lead” vs “Teapot Maker” there is no overlap in what the person does all day–which would probably be confusing to a hiring manager on a resume, come to think of it.

    2. Case of the Mondays

      I’ve done that, including on my resume. As an example I worked a job in state A that had one title and in state B that same job has a different title. When applying to the job in State B, my resume had the State B title under State A’s position so it would get through their computer screen. I think I noted somewhere (referred to as X in State A) but I wasn’t that concerned with it. I also hired someone once who had “corrections officer” on his resume but when it go to the background check stage he told me corrections officers in that state were called “program workers” but he didn’t use that title because it doesn’t make sense in states that don’t use it. It sounds more like a social worker or activities coordinator. He still had a corrections license and really had done the job as a corrections officer so I didn’t care that he changed his title.

      1. MsCHX

        Perfect example. “Program Worker” would not really encompass his duties and would leave him out of many automated screening processes.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I think that makes sense if the listed duties match the title. In my case I mentioned above, the person advised me to use the inflated title to make the job sound like more than it was, which I wasn’t about to do.

  35. k

    OP #2 – You mentioned that you are one of two Teapot Leads. Could you include that info on your resume? Something like “One of two leaders of a team of 50 Teapot Makers” or “Oversaw a team of 50 Teapot Makers along with one other Teapot Lead”. My morning caffeine hasn’t kicked in so I can’t get the wording right, but I think there’s a way to include that information. That way at least if a potential employer has a stack of resumes all claiming to be Leads, it emphasizes that you were actually in the leadership role.

    1. MsCHX

      I like that idea. Though I do believe a good interviewer will suss this out. The not-Teapot Leads will not actually be able to describe duties, situations, etc in the capacity of a lead because they haven’t done that.

  36. ilikeaskamanager

    I used to provide HR services for a lot of these small business owners. I was appalled at what I heard. I found out that one of them is still paying employees ten cents–yes ten cents–a mile–to drive on work related business. Same one is also paying “managers” $23,000 per year, calling them exempt, providing no benefits, and requiring a 45 hour work week. This is a company with multiple outlets and very profitable. CEO takes home 4 million dollars a year and has very expensive hobbies. I saw the CEO recently and he was complaining about the ‘lack of a work ethic” in today’s labor pool and how people just don’t have any loyalty. Go figure…….

  37. Moonsaults

    The exact reason why I finally quit my very first job was because my direct supervisor (the Financial Manager) told us all in the accounting department that we had Christmas Eve and Christmas off. Only to have the owner’s assistant flip out when she found out, the owner then demanded we all come in that day. I found it out that morning, “Where is everyone?!” “We have today off???” “No you don’t!!!”

    Well in this business our duties were based around communicating with vendors in South America. Where the Catholic culture is strong and guess how many phone calls/emails we got that day? I used the time to type up my resignation letter instead.

    With these power trips, you have to really take a look at your work set up and how many other ways it’s screwed up. If someone doesn’t respect their employees, you shouldn’t stress yourself out working for them if at all possible.

    I’m also starting to swallow this pill in my current position as well, especially after reading so many comments that are hitting home about this.

    1. Kelly L.

      Ugh.

      I worked in a small store for a few years that was dysfunctional in a lot of ways–I’ve told other stories about it here before–but among other things, they always wanted people working on every day except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. So they’d have the place staffed on, say, Easter, and then have like two customers all day because everyone assumed they were closed and didn’t shop, and somehow never learned from this from one year to the next. I guess they really needed the random scut work that they gave us because it was slow, ha!

      1. Moonsaults

        Now that I’m no longer 20 years old, looking back I know there was a huge cultural difference in play along (they truly didn’t know that our contacts were all not working anyways) but also their struggle to always want their “core” around them as a security blanket of sorts.

        They loved me and treated me kindly, whereas the FM was treated like a disobedient pet most of the time -.- Such a cluster****

  38. Anonymustard

    OP#2
    LinkedIn Liars

    I feel you on this, I really do. I’ve been watching people pull this crap pretty much since LinkedIn became a thing. But, I kind of disagree with AAM’s advice here. I just don’t think it’s my business what other people write on LinkedIn. Just as it’s not my business if other people lie or misrepresent themselves in interviews. That’s really between them and THEIR prospective employers.
    I mean, sure, you could say something to them. But, I’m having trouble envisioning a scenario where they say “By golly, you’re right. I’m going to go change my profile right now.” They already have it rationalized and justified in their own minds.
    That said, I currently have one of these liars hounding me hard about getting a position in my company. There are plenty of positions she’d probably be qualified for, and could probably get, but my response to her is just “Sorry, I haven’t heard of any openings.” Since the time we worked together as analysts, she has promoted herself from analyst to manager on LinkedIn, and I just don’t want to work with, or vouch for, someone like that. So, I just respond to the situation by not aiding and abetting this person.
    In short, it sucks, but just let it go. Focus on your own skills and advancement. These liars may or may not get caught for this, but you really don’t have any control over that. Odds are though, if they lie to get a job, they are probably doing other things that will come back to haunt them.

    1. TootsNYC

      Another thing you -can- do is, put on your resumé “One of 3 Teapot Managers.” Anybody who wants to connect the dots can do so.

      Also: Prepare your spiel, and make it credible in terms of including info about how you transitioned into the Manager slot. You’ll beat them in the interview, because you won’t have to make stuff up.

      The thing is, if there were no LinkedIn, they’d lie on their resumé. You just wouldn’t know it.

      1. Rain before snow

        OP from letter #2 here. Yup, I agree–since I wrote the letter, I’ve had a few job interviews and thanks to great advice on this site, I prepared and was able to discuss examples of my work really well! Now, I’m feeling more confident and focused on my worth as a candidate based on the work I’ve done and how well I can discuss my skills vs. just what the resume says. I think the advice here about focusing on doing a great interview and trusting that my experience will show is dead on. Thank you! :)

    2. Contrarian Annie

      “We don’t generally hire for teapot managers; just teapot analysts. Good luck with your search though!”

    3. AutumnLeaves

      My coworker is making a claim on her LinkedIn profile that is false. She is claiming a task was her responsibility. It wasn’t. It was mine. She adds to it by saying she worked on it daily. Again, that’s false. While she had access to it, she didn’t do anything with it. I just hope she doesn’t misrepresent my work as hers. The work I had done is on the internet, and if perspective employers look at the website, they will see people’s initials on the posts (several departments posted and I was the one from ours). I guess I shouldn’t worry about it being my problem for when she has to explain that. None are hers. But yet she still claims she worked on it.

      The ironic thing is the task is more in tune to her credentials and qualifications, but since I had the job longer, our boss allowed me to retain the task.

      There are other things she mentions that are a bit exaggerated, and to those, I just roll my eyes.

      While I would love to point it out to her, like what you said, I don’t know what it would accomplish if anything.

  39. LadyKelvin

    My husband’s job has their huge blowout Christmas party listed as part of their benefits, that’s how huge it is. He’s part of a company that employs tens of thousands of people so they have several parties and they tell you which night your team attends. It includes a night out of dancing, open bar, and buffet foods. Spouses can attend too for the low low price of $75. I understand asking spouses to pay a bit towards the party, but I didn’t pay $50 a head for the sit down meal and open bar a couple of years ago for my wedding. We could go out and have a very nice dinner in our fairly expensive city for $75 total, so I skip the party and he goes to enjoy part of his benefits package. Its no surprise that only the execs bring their wives and none of my husband’s co-workers do. Did I mention the food isn’t good? Because my husband comes home from the party and eats a second dinner because the food wasn’t good.

    1. Kathleen Adams

      ‘Tis the season to be jolly, eh?

      What a bunch of idiots. Is it that they really don’t want spouses to come or is it that they really think their uncomfortable, overpriced shindig is THAT big of a deal?

  40. TootsNYC

    One thing I didn’t do that I -wish- I had done, and that I’ve advised my daughter and her college-grad friends is:

    Keep records and documentation of your jobs. Make a folder, or get a document case. In it, stick these things (just stick them in there–you don’t need tom ake subfolders:
    – any offer letter
    – a copy of any resignation letter
    – your first and last pay stubs for any job
    – a copy of any performance review (print it out if it’s online)
    – a printout of the “what good things I did this year, yay me!” email you should send to your boss about 2 months before every review (if you don’t send it to your boss, send it to yourself)
    – a copy of your resumé each time you update it (and update it about 6 months after you start your new job, even though you don’t intend to job hunt now), or each time you make a tailored version
    – a list of the people you worked with at your job, with whom you have a good rep and who could serve as a reference, even if they aren’t your direct manager, and contact info for them

    You can use this to build your resumé, and in case you ever need employment verification.

    Maybe every May 1 (international Labor Day!) is a good time to update this (and maybe even a good “tickler” for that “what I did good this year” summary).

    Keep a similar notebook/folder for health issues.

    My theory is: The first half of “a place for everything, and everything in its place” is a place. So make the place first, even if you have nothing to go in it right now, and then you can easily populate it as you go. You can even play catch-up now and then, and the folder itself will remind you to do it.

  41. Observer

    #1 – Please warn you r employee. And think long and hard about the trustworthiness of the colleague who is advising you not to. Here’s the bottom line. Your colleague is suggesting that you withhold extremely important information from someone to avoid the possibility of mild inconvenience to the company. That makes me wonder about this person, as a person.

    There are very few good reasons for firing people without clear warning. But some reasons are worse than others. “I want to wring the very last drop of convenience out of you, so I need to prevent you from taking appropriate protective measures” is on the worse side.

  42. HRish Dude

    #4 – Is he “not allowed” or did the old owners not pass along the records? Asking from experience – when your company purchases/is purchased by another company, the people exchanging money don’t always see the need to acquire all of the HR info before wiping their systems.

    1. aeldest (OP 4)

      He’s not allowed. He’s actually the same HR guy from the old company–the new company didn’t have a specific HR person, so he’s taken on the duties for both locations now. All the records are on paper, in our file room one door over from his office.

      1. HRish Dude

        Ugh. I have no explanation then. Our HR is technically not supposed to verify employment because they don’t have access to records of people who work/have worked in other locations, but we have the Work Number.

  43. Grrrr

    I would add that if you’re going to fire your employee who works in another office to which you travel frequently (after warning them, etc., of course) that you show up and do it yourself. At the very LEAST you can be on the speakerphone during the meeting. Though it’s fine to have them present, don’t make another manager who isn’t their direct supervisor do it. It makes you look cowardly and dismissive.

    Yes, that is what I think of you now.

  44. Brogrammer

    OP5 – definitely check your employee handbook to be sure of the official written policy. My own employee handbook explicitly states in the “paid holidays” section that you’re not eligible for holiday pay on a day you wouldn’t normally be scheduled to work. In my case though, the company did the right thing and decided to close the office on December 26. I’m sorry your boss is a jerk.

  45. sstabeler

    for those wondering why you should get an extra day off in lieu- or get to take the day off on a different day- it should probably be clarified that in my experience- working in the UK- the language used is “X number of days off INCLUDING bank holidays”- in other words, it’s de facto the company automatically puts you in for vacation on the national holidays. If you look at it that way, then them not either allowing you to take the next workday off is actually a deduction from your PTO bank.

  46. Contrarian Annie

    OP2 – As you are all being laid off, is it possible that the company has brought in a (what we know in the UK as; not sure of the US term but I’m pretty sure it exists as a thing) “outplacement consultant”, someone who will help with resumes and taking advantage of opportunities and such, as part of the layoff process? It seems strange that “at least 3” people would take the same approach of uptitling their LinkedIn profiles to the same more senior title independently. Is it possible that an “outplacement consultant” has advised doing such a thing?

  47. Milton Waddams

    #2: To people even read job titles anymore? I assumed that they became largely worthless after companies started handing out Vice Presidencies like candy to keep employees without having to pay them more money. It’s sort of like how I’ve met “project managers” who were actually secretaries, “engineers” who were salespeople (“sales engineers”), and all sorts of things which had nothing to do with their actual day-to-day work.

  48. wealhtheow

    My company (a not-for-profit) charges for guests to attend the holiday party (that is, if you work here, your attendance and first 2 drinks are free; if you don’t, your attendance and first 2 drinks cost whatever it is they charge for non-employees). The cost isn’t ridiculously high, but still, not that many non-employees come to the party — which IMO is totally fine, because really, how many people want to spend a Friday evening with their partner’s co-workers?

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