company won’t reveal how much they’ll pay me, early morning client work when I’m several hours behind, and more

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

1. Company wants me to work without telling me how much they’ll pay me

I’ve have been through the interview process for a job with a small company. In my second interview, I met with the manager for about two minutes because apparently he was double booked for interviews. HR called me the next day and said that the manager was impressed with those two minutes and wanted to send me an offer letter. Four hours later, HR gives me a call saying they want me to start right away. At this point, I was still waiting for the offer letter, only to find out they had changed their minds and decided to have me work instead. I mentioned that there were some items I wanted to discuss before I accept their offer. One of those things was the salary.

Thinking back, I was told on the first interview what the starting pay was and I had asked if it was negotiable, and they said it was. So, now they want to assess my work in order to give me the pay rate I’m looking for. They are willing to pay me while I work, but won’t tell me my pay until the end of my first day or week(?).

For all my years of experience in finding work and going through job offers, this is my first time experiencing this … working for a company that won’t tell me my pay rate until they see how well I do with the job. After mentioning this to HR, they said I should just have another interview with management (same person as before). So, I’m confused why they would want to 1) send me an offer letter that never arrived, 2) allowed to work without an expected salary, and 3) ultimately, told to come in for a second or third job interview.

I feel like this company is not organized and they don’t want to commit to hiring me. They aren’t giving me the chance to decide whether or not I want the job without having the “offer letter.” Is this scenario common with companies going through the hiring process? No pay rate offered until you go through a paid work assessment, where you won’t know your pay until the end of the day(or week)?

You’re right: they aren’t organized and they don’t want to commit to hiring you.

It’s possible that they were saying they’d use this week to determine your future rate of pay if they make you a job offer, and that they weren’t refusing to tell you what you’ll be paid for this trial week. Maybe they don’t realize that’s what you were asking? If that feels possible, you could say, “I understand that we’ll be discussing pay for the position at whatever point you choose to make an offer. But before doing a trial week, we’d need to agree on payment for the week itself, even if that’s at a different rate than the permanent position would be.”

But I’m really wary of these people. Employers generally manage to hire people without trial work weeks. Seeing candidates in action is a smart part of hiring, but that should mean a short project that takes an hour or two, not a request to drop everything else in your life and work for them for a week. What they’re asking is unreasonable, and it’s all the weirder that it appears to be a last-minute thought (when they’d already told you an offer was coming). So keep in mind that you don’t have to do this just because they’re asking; it’s perfectly reasonable to say that you aren’t able to clear your schedule for a week without an actual offer.

2. Early morning client work when I’m several hours behind

I work on the U.S. west coast and have several clients on the east coast. They often have me and my team fly out for meetings and workshops — some an hour, some all-day, and everything in between. The problem is that some of these clients want us to start as early at 7 a.m. — which is 4 a.m. Pacific time. I’m usually able to power through until lunch, but by 1 or 2 p.m., I am physically fighting to keep my eyes open.

Melatonin and other sleeping aids haven’t been effective. Flying in a day early to get acclimated to the time change is not an option, the client would never pay for that. When one of my colleagues told a client we were having a hard time staying awake, the client brushed it off and said too bad, we have a lot of work to do.

What can I do? Falling asleep in the middle of a presentation seems like the pinnacle of non-professionalism. But I’m only human!

Have any of you tried pushing back with the client? Telling them that you’re having trouble staying awake isn’t quite as assertive as you should be here. Instead, why not say at the time travel is being arranged, “Because we’ll be three hours behind you, we can start any time from 10 a.m. EST onward”?

If that doesn’t work, then ideally your employer would handle this with clients on your behalf, by making it clear from the get-go (or at least when any meetings are requested) that because of the time difference, you either fly in the day before or start later. If you don’t get anywhere with the client yourself, then ideally you and a group of colleagues who are experiencing the same problem would push your employer to handle it for you. If they won’t, then they’re really the problem here more than the client, because they’re allowing the client to think this is fine.

3. Should you refund vacation days if the office ends up closing for snow?

Recently, I had an employee who came into me and said:, “I know that I had a preapproved day off last Tuesday but you ended up closing the office due to snow, I get my vacation day back don’t I?” Is this true? This is a salaried employee. What is the ruling? If this person put in for the day and had it approved already…they still had the day off as requested, closing the office did not have anything to do with her requested day off. Yet, I still can see where the employee feels that they shouldn’t have to “waste” their day. What is the right answer….and I am a NY based company.

This up to your own internal policy, and different companies do it differently. I’m a fan of agreeing not to charge the person’s PTO, because I don’t think it’s fair to make someone use vacation time for a day that ended up not being a work day anyway. The argument for doing it the other way is that she got the benefit of being able to plan around having that day off, while no one else did. But really, what is the cost to you of not charging her vacation time on a day she wouldn’t have been working anyway? There’s no extra cost to you (as you’re paying everyone for a day they didn’t work that day), and when you compare that to the morale cost of being rigid on this, I vote for refunding her vacation day.

4. Should I alert my interviewer to mistakes in her LinkedIn profile?

I’m at the in-person interview stage for a position. I checked out the senior director’s LinkedIn profile and found several errors (typo, punctuation use, and sentence structure). After my second phone interview with this individual, we really seemed to connect. I get the impression they would mind, if they knew, but at this point are just too busy to fix it.

Should I:
• Bring it to the attention of their admin?
• Ask if it’s okay to make the corrections and email it to the admin?
• Make the corrections myself and send it to their admin?
• Tell the senior director personally?
• Ignore it?

This person is pretty high up within the company and I am truly conflicted because I don’t want to upset anyone but I also think LinkedIn profiles are important.

Leave it alone. Minor mistakes in someone’s LinkedIn profile don’t rise to the level of something a candidate needs to alert anyone to. Actually, for that matter, neither would major mistakes. It’s their own private profile, and it would come across a little weirdly to proofread it for them. (And it would be even weirder to point it out to their admin, who probably doesn’t manage it for them.)

5. Company makes us pay late fees on vendor invoices

I have learned that the company I work for will not pay late fees that may be charged to the company for the late payment of vendor invoices. In fact, they require the employee found to be “at fault” for the late payment of the invoice to personally pay for the late fee charged. This can occur due to administrative staff input errors, work load, late mail delivery, or just too short of a payment window provided by the vendor (less than three weeks). The CFO decides who was at fault in the chain of the AP process and that person has to pay. Is this legal? (I work in Florida. The company is headquartered in Pennsylvania.)

Federal law only stops employers from making these sorts of deductions if doing so would bring your pay under minimum wage for that pay period.

But at the state level, many states don’t allow this at all or allow it only if you’re authorized it in writing. Unfortunately, Florida isn’t one of them. Florida has no state law on deductions, meaning that employers can generally charge you for mistakes as long as it doesn’t reduce your pay below minimum wage. However, Pennsylvania only authorizes certain deductions “for the convenience of employees” and doesn’t list mistakes as an acceptable cause. So it may be legal to do to you but not to their headquarters employees (although if they stop for the headquarters, they’ll likely stop for you too).

Either way, it’s a terrible, unfair, absurd policy, and I urge you and your coworkers to push back against it as a group, citing Pennsylvania law.

{ 353 comments… read them below }

  1. Mike C.*

    Wait a second here – if you’re starting your day at 4 am, then shouldn’t you be going home before 1pm anyway? I get in to work before 6 so I understand rh early days but why aren’t you going home after eight or so hours to begin with?

    1. Lucy*

      She isn’t starting at 4 AM, that is the time her body clock is used to since she is flying in for these meetings from California. The meeting seems to be starting at 7 AM

      1. Bea W*

        The flying part kind of baffles me. I can see doing that for an all-day workshop, but the OP also mentions some of these meetings are an hour or less than a day. I feel like this company needs to seriously consider video conferencing or just plain teleconferencing. Flying people 5-6 hours from coast-to-coast to sit in a meeting for a couple hours then turn around and go back home is not the best use of anyone’s time and money. Add in the getting to the airport early enough to pass through security (especially if its LAX!), and you’re asking someone to take on 8+ hours of travel hassle. IMO that’s barely worth it for a full one day meeting. Add to that the jet lag and possibly having flown the red-eye and you’ve got an employee who is not at their best.

        1. MT*

          Sometimes customers just want a face to face meeting. Sometimes companies want to make the best impact they can, so they send people vs tele-conferencing.

          1. I used to be Murphy*

            Yup. My husband one had to fly from Canada to India for a 2 hour presentation at a conference. Long, long flight in coach (and he’s a big 6’2″ guy) just to deliver a PPT. Oy.

            1. LoiraSafada*

              This is totally insane. Going across the country is one thing, but I’ve never had an international work trip where I wasn’t in country for at least 10 days-two weeks. Hope he at least got to keep the miles for himself!

            2. Fafaflunkie*

              And the point of this trip was…. they couldn’t figure out Skype? They wanted to feel his pulse? Totally agree: this is beyond insane.

            3. HyacinthB*

              Richard did that. Flew from east coast of US to Hawaii for a one hour meeting… that was cancelled by the time he arrived.

        2. devildog2067*

          I regularly fly for meetings that last a couple of hours. Sometimes the phone is just not the same. If everyone is joining by phone often a call is workable, and if you have two groups of people you can usually do a videoconference and make that work, but if you’re the only one on the phone when everyone else is in the same room it’s just not a good dynamic. It’s a far better use of everyone’s time and money for me to spend a couple of thousand bucks on travel than for a bunch of executives to invest a few hours of their time in a meeting that ends up not being effective because of phone issues. I’m going to Singapore (from the US) for a 4-hour meeting in a couple of weeks.

          1. Ivy*

            If the client meeting starts at 7am ET, then they need to dial in, or video in, at 4am PT anyway. I have dialed in European meetings at my middle-of-the-night time, and it was not fun. You feel more drowsy when just listening to voices and not seeing the people, and it’s difficult to follow by phone if the others are sitting together.

            In December I flew to a client, 24 hour round trip for 1 hour meeting. It was worth it, we got the work, and I counted myself lucky as I managed to get the earliest flight in and last flight out (it’a challenging location to reach) and didn’t have to sleep over.

            1. LBK*

              Personally, I’d be a hell of a lot more productive if I could roll out of bed directly to my desk at 3:50am than if I were coming off a red eye at the same time.

        3. Kore*

          Some clients want and will pay extra for face-to-face meetings. I’ve had to fly people across the country (at the client expense) for a 30 minute meeting. I personally think it’s ridiculous but some clients won’t budge on this.

          1. zora*

            Yeah, but then the company needs to make it clear to the client the real cost of that meeting. If that includes an extra $200 for a hotel room so the employee can sleep the night before the meeting, that is the cost of the meeting. And then it’s up to the client to decide if they want to pay $800 instead of $600 to get that employee to that meeting and what it is worth for them.

            And I handle travel to client meetings for my company, the cost of an airport hotel for one night is a pretty negligible increase in the total costs for that meeting if they are flying people across country already.

        4. LBK*

          Agreed, this sounds absolutely insane. And if a company wants to meet face to face, they should be expected to pay a premium to do it in a way that’s logical for the employees, eg flying them out the day beforehand so they can adjust before the meeting.

          I honestly just wonder how productive someone can be when they’re starting work at 4am. I know I would be pretty much useless.

            1. LBK*

              You’d have to give me some very strong pills to get me to fall asleep at 8pm. Like, maybe one step below general anesthesia.

          1. Zombii*

            >I honestly just wonder how productive someone can be when they’re starting work at 4am. I know I would be pretty much useless.

            Me too. Especially since it sounds like they might not have really slept the previous night. 7am (ET) meeting, add flight time (Google is telling me 5-7 hours, so I guess you could sleep on the plane but I’ve never been any good at that), add getting to the airport early to clear security, possible restless night because travel anxiety. And then having to go to a meeting/presentation with possibly nowhere to shower/clean up (if it’s a shorter stay) and feeling all gross from the plane? That sounds awful.

            1. Callie*

              I can usually sleep on planes… except the last time I flew overnight, there was a family with a baby in the row behind me. This child screamed for the entire coast-to-coast flight. Not the usual my-ears-hurt fussing at takeoff and landing, but full out blow-out-your-vocal-cords screaming. I believe the child was sick and the parents were doing everything they could to soothe him/her, but everyone was miserable. When I got off the plane in the morning, the baby was still shrieking. I could barely keep my eyes open. I’m never flying overnight again.

        5. LoiraSafada*

          I’ve flown across the country (west coast to DC), slept, woke up, gone to a meeting (that I had to lead), and gone right back to the airport that afternoon and flown home. I have to do it again next month. If I had any way to get out of doing this, I would. The flight alone costs almost as much as they’re going to pay me for my time since it’s last minute.

          1. Mel*

            The way you phrased your last sentence is a little vague, and I hope you mean that the client/company is basically paying more than double what it would normally because the last minute flight and accommodation costs are going to be so much. Otherwise, I’m worried that you’d be basically not making any money for this trip because you’d be out all the travel costs!

    2. Willis*

      It sounds like their day is starting at 7 am (so could reasonably go until 4 pm and still only be an 8 hour work day plus lunch) but feels like 4 am because of jet lag.

      I am a little confused though – is the team flying in from the west coast in time for a 7 am meeting on red eye flights? That sounds really unbearable and a pretty ridiculous expectation to have of people! Or are people already coming in the day before but are having jet lag with less than a day to acclimate? That’s still a problem but I could understand not wanting to have people fly in two days ahead of time. A later schedule seems like a reasonable request though.

      1. Artemesia*

        I read it they came in the day before, but didn’t get a full night’s sleep because of the time change.

        1. Willis*

          I think that’s right, and then moving the meeting time back fixes the problem without an additional expense.

          1. Al Lo*

            I, very much a night owl, would be all over a 10 AM meeting rather than a 7 AM meeting. Even if it was an all-day session and ran 10-6 instead of 7-3.

            1. Caro in the UK*

              I’m the total opposite. I work 7:30-4 and if I have to stay past that, I get cranky as heck!

              If a meeting ran until 6pm I’d be falling asleep at the table. Different sleep patterns can be so difficult to navigate.

            2. Bea W*

              Good god! Me too! We have people over in Australia and that vicinity of the world, and I am more than happy to sit in on their not-earlier-than-8 PM meetings if they need me instead of trying to push one of my meetings to 7 AM my time, which is still way too late for them and way to early for me. I do not function at 7 AM, period. My body clock will not cooperate, and neither will my brain. I take all of my pre-9 AM meeting from home if I can so I am not waking up at 4 AM to prepare for a commute, but 7 AM is still too early for me using the roll out of bed option.

            3. Lily Rowan*

              I once scheduled a half-day meeting with some people coming in from out of town to start at 10, because of internal stuff at our office. The out-of-town people were so grateful! I wasn’t even thinking of it that way, but they were thrilled to have a leisurely morning, even though they had flown in the day before.

            4. Kore*

              Same here – I tend to roll in to the office at around 8:30 – 8:45 (my hours are fairly flexible) and have had some 8:00 AM meetings lately. It has been very difficult to get into the office at 7:45 to make those, even though it’s only about an hour ahead of when I normally get in. 7:00 AM would be very rough.

              1. HisGirlFriday*

                I think what people fail to account for is that hour can be more than an hour when you factor in traveling.

                For example, I usually start between 8.30 and 8.45, but I live near my state’s capital, and state workers drive the same road I do and have to be butt-in-seat (largely) at 8.30, so to be at my office RIGHT AT 8.30 means I have to leave no later than 7.30 for a 20-mile drive. If I can arrive at 8.45, I can leave my house at 8.15 and have plenty of time.

                We have a meeting next week at 8, for which I need to be in at 7.30, but that means I’ll need to leave my house by 6.15 because my 20-mile drive also takes me past several large warehouses/shipping/distribution centers (read: 24-hour shift work) and I’ll need to avoid all the first-shift people coming into work.

                1. many bells down*

                  Yeah traffic into my volunteer job is really variable depending on what’s happening downtown. It might take me 15-20 minutes to drive in, or it might take me 60. So I’ve gotta leave an hour before I need to be in, just in case it’s a 60-minute-commute day.

              2. Mabel*

                I don’t think I could take a job that started that early! I block the first hour of the work day in my calendar for work that doesn’t involve meetings. I’m just not ready for that so early in the day, and people will schedule meetings for then if they think I’m available.

            5. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo*

              Same here! 7 am is way too early. I’m usually just waking up around that time. I am much more functional at 10. (Plus a 10 am start would avoid most of the morning rush hour traffic!)

        2. rudster*

          Interesting, I read it that they are flying out on the red-eye. One day wouldn’t really be enough anyway – isn’t the rule of thumb is a day per hour of time difference. Not sure there’s much to do except try to disrupt your usual sleep patterns the night before to make sure that you’re tired enough to sleep the whole time on the plane. We’re adults, not four-year-olds, sometimes you just have to power through without enough sleep. Maybe I’m biased – as a freelancer I often have tight deadlines and am used to stretches of days at a time without only a few hours of sleep or catnaps, but I usually have a stretch where I can make it up down the line.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            I read it the same way as you and the OP is on the redeye, but I think the reasonable solution is to let them get an earlier flight and a hotel room, that either the client or employer pay for.

          2. Koko*

            I’m kind of side-eyeing your suggestion that having trouble staying awake makes OP a four-year-old? I didn’t read OP’s letter to be a complaint about how much they dislike being tired and more a genuine concern that they are literally falling asleep in the meeting or not performing at their best because they are too exhausted. People (of all ages) are not robots, we do need sleep, and while certainly one of the hallmarks of adulthood is doing things you don’t want to do, that doesn’t mean sleep deprivation magically has no effect on you. Rested workers are better workers. You can’t always be rested, but making arrangements that allow employees adequate time to sleep is a good goal to have.

            1. Emi.*

              In fact, as a general rule, adults become less able to cope with sleep deprivation as they get older.

            2. Kj*

              Agreed. And some people need more sleep than others, respond less well to interruptions to their schedule. It is biological thing- my mom is terrible without at least 8 hours. I’m fine with 6 and can work a 12 hour day. My dad is a night owl and does his best work late. I do my best work early. Research shows a lot of this is biologically based.

              Also, I’m going to admit as a west-coaster, I’m tired of everything being on east coast time zones. I feel like West Coasters are always asked to accommodate east coast times which is really silly. Maybe it is just my workplace, but people seem to forget their is a time difference and I have to say directly “Is that 8am for you or me?” way too often.

              1. shep*

                So much this. I work best at night and can stay up pretty late no matter how early I wake up, but I always suffer for it if I don’t force myself to go to bed at a decent time. Also I’ve always felt that my body works best on at LEAST fourteen hours of sleep, but I am NEVER going to get that, so I’m always low-key exhausted.

                I pulled my fair share of all-nighters in high school and undergrad, but even in graduate school, I couldn’t hack it anymore. I can *maybe* do an all-nighter on a weekend, but that supposes (1) I’m hanging out with friends/family and (2) I can sleep all day when I do decide to go to bed. And it still throws me off like crazy.

              2. Temperance*

                My org has a California office, but most of us are on the East coast. I think a lot of this is a cultural issue, TBH. I regularly get meeting requests for 4 PM Pacific Time, which is 7 PM my time, and requests for 3PM meetings on a Friday. Apparently, our LA office doesn’t like morning meetings.

                1. many bells down*

                  I live on the west coast, and I had a job that consistently got angry calls before we even opened from people who apparently didn’t understand time zones. The company had a policy that accounting wasn’t allowed to take calls before 1pm (because they were spending all their time on the phone telling people they were working on their invoice instead of actually being able to PAY the invoice), and there was one company who would call at 11am every day demanding to speak to accounting. Because it was 1pm their time.

              3. Marillenbaum*

                I identify deeply with your mom on this. I’ve realized that while I thought I could go to bed at 11, wake up at 7, and go about my day, I actually need to be asleep by 11, which means going to bed about an hour or so earlier.

              4. Cath in Canada*

                I had a 5:30 am call on Monday. A new member of the group, based on the East coast, was complaining about it being too early. Luckily, several other people told him (nicely!) to suck it up because it was 5:30 for me, before I had to attempt to formulate a coherent statement about it. I know there’s not really any other possible time to have a call that includes people on both coasts of North America plus Germany, Netherlands, UK, Spain, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and it’s only twice a month, but still – ugh. I am not a morning person and these calls make me feel jet lagged for the next couple of days.

                And don’t even get me started on NHL games featuring West coast teams starting at 10 am or sometimes even earlier our time some weekends. Yes I will get up at 4 am to watch Olympic medal games (as did literally every person on our block for the 2014 final), but 10 am is waaaaay too early for an NHL game.

            3. Pearl*

              +1. From unfortunate traveling experience I know I can be awake for over 48 hours and still need an undisturbed bedroom and medication to fall asleep. Still being awake doesn’t mean I’m “powering through” – I’m a huge mess who’s too nauseated to even eat. I could never sleep on a plane, or work with clients, in that state.

              Having time to sleep before working is not an unreasonable request. Bodies need rest, and not everyone can physically tolerate not having it.

              1. Marillenbaum*

                This is so true. I can occasionally sleep on planes, but it’s only for an hour or two, and I have to be pretty exhausted to get there–not the sort of thing you want if you need any sort of functionality from me the next day.

                1. LizB*

                  Yeah, for me to sleep on a plane for more than an hour, I either need a) my own row so I can lie all the way down, or b) to be so exhausted I’m involuntarily nodding off standing up. No way could I work effectively with a client in scenario b), and scenario a) has only happened twice in my life.

                2. Mrs. Fenris*

                  I have never successfully fallen asleep on a plane in my entire life. I mean, not even for 5 minutes. I am so glad I don’t have to travel for work, except for occasional continuing education conferences.

              2. Artemesia*

                I was part of a team that worked in China for 3 weeks. We arrived at 2 am their time having flown for nearly 24 hours, and had to be on site at 8 am — which meant getting up, showering, getting breakfast and being out front by 7 to be driven to the site. I never recovered for the entire 3 weeks. I managed to power through most of it, but I felt like something the cat dragged in the whole time. If they had only started in the afternoon that first day, what a difference it would have made.

                The organizer was about 30 and sort of twitchy/energetic — plus as a local she hadn’t made the trip. Most of our team was in their 30s and 40s and I was in my 50s at the time.

                I regret I didn’t just bag the first meeting.

            4. LBK*

              Agreed, “suck it up” isn’t useful advice here. And the idea of “making it up” when it comes to sleep isn’t biologically sound; you can reset your sleep schedule eventually, but you can’t just instantly fix it by sleeping for 12 hours if you only slept for 4 hours the night before. It’s not a ledger where you just have to balance out by the end of the payroll cycle.

              1. winter*

                Also, “making it up” is very much about the sleep schedule, not the damage that is done by sleep deprivation (think brain cells dying or whatever). You cannot make up that damage by sleeping longer the next day.

                1. LBK*

                  Right – you can get back to eventually having a normal sleep cycle, but you can’t ever get back what you lost during the time where your sleep was erratic.

            5. KellyK*

              Absolutely. It’s one thing to be sleep-deprived due to an emergency or a major deadline; it’s another to be sleep-deprived purely for someone else’s convenience. Sleep deprivation also reaches a point where “powering through” just ceases to be physically possible, and it’s best to avoid that point unless someone’s life is actually in danger.

          3. JKP*

            They’ve done research on the effect of sleep deprivation on drivers. After a certain amount of sleep deprivation, you are more impaired than a drunk driver.

            So, would you go to that client meeting while you’re hammered? Then it’s just as unreasonable to expect employees to attend when they’re sleep deprived.

          4. zora*

            I assumed the red eye as well. I used to fly west coast to east for full days of work, and as long as I made sure my flight got in the afternoon before, and went to bed super early, I was usually okay to be at an 8am start time for an all day meeting.

            But the time that my boss tried to get me to buy the flight that arrived at like 11pm ET because it was cheaper, I said absolutely not. I need to be heading to bed way early or I will be useless the next day. She was super grumpy about it, but gave in.

            The only thing I think that would make this so impossible for the employees is if they are required to fly the red eye, can’t manage to get any sleep on the plane, and go straight to a 7am meeting. That is….. insane.

            Some people just physically can’t function with no or little sleep. It’s great that some of you can, and are able to power through on things, and I’m a little jealous. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that I just can’t do it, my body/brain doesn’t work that way. These things are very individual for different people because it is actually physical. It’s like some people are lactose intolerant and some people are not.

            1. LQ*

              I’m not sure this is the client’s fault. I once had a bid out for a project. We specifically requested someone to be on site for several parts of it. One of the vendors wanted to use out of state people and have us pay for travel on top of it. No. That doesn’t make sense. If you can include it in the cost of the bid that’s totally fine. But don’t give us one price and then go, oh but you also have to now pay for a hotel for our people every night. No…You include that in your total cost, then we’ll pay it.

              I’m not sure if this is the employer or the client. (I do think someone here is out of line, but I’m not willing to say for sure it was the client. Especially if there hasn’t been any clear communication with the client about it.) And your employer should have included this cost in there either as cost of doing business or something else, but I feel like they should have been able to anticipate this. (Assuming the client was explicit about being onsite…)

              1. Lora*

                This. You put the travel costs and what travel occasions are paid for (kickoff meetings, milestone reviews, whatever) and which cost extra in your bid. You even tell them whether they are entitled to a field tech or an engineer for certain things, because engineers cost extra and senior engineers cost a huge pile of $$. They can choose if they want their system installed by a lowly field tech or if they want to pay the $$$ to have the senior engineer work with their validation company on qualification, but you outline that up front.

                The employer can also say, “sorry, the person you really like isn’t available; we have Other Person available at the same rate for X days, or you can have Less Qualified Person for Y rate for X days. Let me know which you prefer.” That’s fine – let it be the client’s decision.

    3. Thlayli*

      My old company didn’t charge the client for travel time (and I didn’t get overtime so I wasn’t being paid either). I used to have to leave my house at 4 am to travel to another country for a 10am meeting and then be expected to be on top form and put in quality work for varying lengths of time, often before going back to the airport and travelling back home for 11pm that night. At one point I was travelling every week.

      The really annoying thing is half the time those meetings could have been phone calls.

      That’s when I got addicted to caffeine.

      1. starsaphire*

        Tell that client to go eat hraka… ;)

        (I love your username! I’m a huge fan of the book and the movie both.)

    4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Not directly responsive, but I wonder if OP has tried sunglasses at night. I know that sounds weird, but melatonin often isn’t enough. But if you wear sunglasses the day before at the time “sunset” would kick in on the east coast (~ 4:30 PDT), keep them on continuously until you fall asleep on the plane (yes, even while you’re sitting in the plane), and switch on lights and remove the glasses at the equivalent of “dawn” on the east coast, you can trick your body into adjusting. Alternately, you can keep east coast hours even when you’re on the west coast, although going to sleep at 8 p.m. isn’t really fun/realistic/sustainable.

      I think it’s worth talking to clients about start time, but it’s frustrating because, in my experience, clients get what they want. Including ungodly morning meetings.

      1. CAA*

        Yes. There’s only so much you can do if you live on the west coast and have to accommodate clients in the east. I’ve had many a meeting that started at 6:00 AM PT because starting later would run into the east coast lunch hour. At least it’s not as bad as having to work simultaneously with teams in China and India, which is a perfect recipe for experiencing constant jet lag without leaving home.

        1. Hlyssande*

          I am so grateful that I’ve now got people in Manila and Romania who can run the meetings with the China and India teams in my stead. No more 9pm meetings with China/Singapore/Malaysia for me or 4am meetings with India. Wooo! It was the worst.

      2. Heather*

        The sunglasses idea sounds like something to remember for the future. Unfortunately, the earworm is for now ;)

      3. Marisol*

        Good idea, and I would actually suggest orange safety glasses for better visibility, although they look strange. The goal with the glasses is not to block all light, but just the blue light, which signals the body to stay awake. (This is one reason insomnia is such a problem these days–all our devices (iphone, etc.) use blue light.) Light in the red/orange spectrum does not do this. The OP could also put a red or orange bulb in a lamp at home, and use it after sundown, instead of regular lights, a day or two before travel.

        1. Gadfly*

          They also make computer screen glasses. They cost a bit more but look like regular glasses.

          1. Callie*

            You can also use a program like f.lux on your computer, which changes the amount of blue light coming from the screen. I use that on my computer and Twilight on my Android phone.

        2. OP2*

          I actually have a light bulb that can be set to a dozen different colors, and now I have a reason to use it! Thanks!!

    5. Mike C.*

      Ah, I missed the part about flying out and thought these were remote presentations! Sorry for the confusion!

    6. Noah*

      Also, even if she were starting at 4am, I don’t see why that means she’d be done before 1pm. Plenty of people work more than 8 hours in a day and this seems like a situation that is calling for it.

      I also suspect that the person is an independent consultant, which would play a role here, but obviously that’s just a guess.

  2. Bea*

    I’ve dealt with some really bad AP departments in my career but woah, #5 your CFO is a dbag for taking late fees out of someone’s checks. If someone is chronically making errors that results in errors, let them go. I’ve never had a finance charge large enough to blink twice at and I have had my fair share in my life as the one who processes every bill for multiple companies over the last decade. What a demoralizing policy that will only make good AP clerks leave as quickly as possible. If your main function is AP and the CFO is a jerk, I hope you find another job asap, it’s AP, unless you have only a year or two under your belt, it’s a wide open field to explore a company that’s not governed by a miserable cheapskate CFO!

    1. Fiennes*

      I agree. How does a company who fines employees for something outside their control expect to retain anyone worth their salt?

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, this policy made me livid on OP#5’s behalf. It’s one thing if people aren’t timely inputting invoices, and I can see why it might make sense to have some kind of review/discipline for that (but there are disciplinary options other than fining employees). But it’s not reasonable to punish people for late mail delivery or a reasonable number of errors. This policy is frustrating and petty.

    3. Mookie*

      This is such an inefficient, self-sabotaging approach to the problem of late fees. Rushing through processing will only compound errors in staff this overworked, and a hearty and sardonic lol at the idea of a CFO using their salary to play detective here. What an utter waste of everyone’s time.

      I’d tell the vendors about this and see whether they want to continue to do business with this company. I’d also make this policy a prominent feature of my Glassdoor review down the line. There’s no good way to spin this into anything other than purposeless, spiteful, and autocratic.

      1. Rebecca*

        The OP said some of the invoices are due in less than 3 weeks. I don’t understand why the company doesn’t request at least 30 day terms to allow for receipt of the invoice, processing through A/P and mailing of the check. The only reason I can think of for this entire mess is the CFO is like you say, spiteful and autocratic.

        1. Workaholic*

          Depending on the type of invoices – some vendors only have a 10-day window before charging late fees. Their policy assumes all clients are in the same city and bills handled by individuals, not mailed across the country to a huge corporation and being processed through a multi-step process (along with 1000’s of other invoices). Since the due date is built into their policy and their invoice generating software most vendors are unable to change it. Though calling to request fees be waived after the fact is an option.

          1. Lucky*

            That’s if you’re buying goods or services from vendors without any form of contract or negotiation of terms. You can include a Net 30 term and other invoicing requirements like “invoice not received until emailed to” in your RFP documentation, in a written contract, or in your purchase order. If the vendor doesn’t like it, they don’t have to accept your business.

            I handle hundreds of contracts for my company, and our standard invoice term is Net 30, and will push for Net 45 for invoices that take more time for review and approval. I have never had a vendor say they had to charge a late fee because they couldn’t change the Net 15 term in their invoicing software.

            1. Natalie*

              It really depends on which company has more leverage. Utilities and telecoms in particular are not going to change their payment terms for anyone, which is just lovely when it somehow takes 10 days for a bill to get from them to the customer.

              1. JeanB*

                It always seems to be the utilities that have such short terms. And credit cards. That’s why I would always do a utility check run weekly when possible.

                1. Bea*

                  That’s why it’s important to have those set up on autopay or invoices electronically submitted. Everyone needs to stop relaying so much on the slow poke postal service :(

          2. Bea*

            I’ve never in all my accounting years knew of a company who is “Net 10 and then fees are added instantly”. There’s always a grace period. Even utility companies aren’t that intense!

        2. Amber T*

          Yeah, that’s not a difficult thing to do. OldJob was a service provider and I worked AR, and on our invoice it would say 30 days, but when setting up deals with some of our larger clients, they would push back and say because of internal regulations/controls/whatever, their terms were 60 days, take it or leave it. We took it, because those clients were huge and good money makers, and always paid, even if it was a bit later than we had hoped for.

          Our corporate CFO didn’t like this, and would constantly tell us to push them to pay within 30 days (their terms were 60, but they usually paid in around 45 days). Finally she decided to take matters into her own hands, call one of our largest and most profitable clients and said 30 days or we’ll stop servicing. Largest and most profitable client said “Ok, we’ll switch to competitor” and they did.

          Long story short – those not on the front lines tend to forget how everyday-things work, like paying bills or collecting mail. So yeah, CFO is an asshat.

        3. CMT*

          “The only reason I can think of for this entire mess is the CFO is like you say, spiteful and autocratic.”

          I really hate that the default here is to always assume malicious or nefarious intent. That’s not usually what’s happening. Some people are bound to be like that, sure, but not most, so giving advice assuming everyone is evil doesn’t do anybody any good.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            I don’t think anyone is judging intent, they’re judging actions. If the CFO is charging people for things outside their control that’s spiteful and if he’s doing it himself with no oversight, that’s autocratic. Those are spiteful and autocratic actions.

            There’s no need to assess intent here.

          2. paul*

            Generally I’d agree but you have on person (and a C level at that!) combing through these and assigning basically who takes the fall. It’s hard not to read it as really very malicious

          3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            I wouldn’t say it’s the default here, by a long stretch, but what the OP describes is certainly punitive.

          4. Natalie*

            Eh, “autocratic” at least seems to describe this person perfectly: “taking no account of other people’s wishes or opinions; domineering”. That’s not ascribing malice, IMO.

          5. Lora*

            In this particular case it’s a bit of semantics though. The CFO may be a nice person deep down inside or may be a puppy-kicker, but he is still behaving like a real a-hole. There’s a point where you have to consider only the empirical evidence: CFO may like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, but if he still acts like a real a-hole, then he IS a real a-hole. Existence precedes essence.

        4. Agile Phalanges*

          Oh, this reminds me of my good old days in AP. We had a utility vendor who charged late fees after their net 10 day terms. However, they refused to fax or e-mail the invoices, only trusting them to the USPS (and apparently waiting a few days past the invoice date to even put them in the mail). Then we had to get internal approval for them which usually only took a day or two on our end, but if it included a weekend, of course took three or four calendar days (and they were multiple tens of thousands of dollars, not something we could or would pay without our utility guy verifying it was correct!). Then they refused to accept payments by ACH, once again preferring to get a paper check in the mail. We processed paper checks once a week (but ACHs twice weekly), so if the approval missed the cutoff, that delayed things. And the mail on both ends wasn’t insignificant, since our location was one that wasn’t served by a local sorting facility, which added a day onto both directions of travel. So all told, it was literally impossible for us to pay within their terms. We explained this to them, recommended either invoicing or accepting payments electronically, but they refused. Eventually I think our CFO talked to someone high up in their company and said even if they wanted to keep the automatically-generated due dates on the invoices, they HAD to extend the terms in their internal systems and not issue late fees or collection calls if it took us 15-20 days to pay the bill, which was more than reasonable given the circumstances. Ridiculous.

          We also had a vendor whose terms were 20 days, when their product shipped by rail and usually took at least three weeks. Of course they created the invoices as soon as the product shipped, which meant they were due before we even RECEIVED the product. Similarly, they kept their computer system the same, but the receivables person eventually learned that they couldn’t call to inquire about payment status on day 21, since we might not have even received the product by then.

        5. Steve*

          The reason the company doesn’t request 30 day terms is because they are not on the hook for the late fees. Simple.

    4. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      I concur.

      As the vendor in this scenario, I appreciate the “feet to the fire” thought behind the approach. It feels like crap to work hard to deliver ordered goods on time and then have to pay people to hound for invoice payment because someone in the payment chain just isn’t doing their job properly. Holding internal people accountable for prompt invoice approval and payment is great.

      A financial penalty? Completely unnecessary and misses the mark. Many vendors (like us) do not require the late payment as long as you pay the damn original invoice thank you. That’s more standard than not, so if late fee payment is the watermark the CFO is looking for, the CFO is missing measuring responsiveness to a ton of other vendors who also deserve prompt payment

      1. Mookie*

        Seconding your second para. Late fees in many industries are never the cost of doing business, and are aberrant even if they make a boilerplate appearance on invoices or contracts. The employer is not mitigating losses by penalizing employees without negotiating these policies with vendors; instead, they are actively trying to waste money and resources, and then pass that burden onto employees.

    5. sstabeler*

      It’s unreasonable on a couple of grounds.
      1) the company allow themselves to charge AP employees even if the invoice could not have been paid on time. (there’s some justification- not enough to actually do it, however- where an employee actually causes the late fee to be due, but when an employee can do their job properly and still get fined?)
      2) the CFO is the one who determines who is charged. That occurs to me that that is ripe for abuse.
      3) it’s making an employee pay for a cost of doing business.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Even if the employee caused the late fee to be due, that’s something you deal with via internal disciplinary processes. Coaching, write-ups if you must, and if it’s a pattern, you might need to let them go. You don’t force the employee to pay a business cost for you. That’s just absurd IMO.

    6. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

      Yikes – I’ve worked for a couple of companies that would get upset over late fees, but never any that tried to charge the AP clerk for them. OP – I think you should be looking for other employment ASAP. The only advice I can possibly offer is to be sure to set up online accounts and/or have invoices emailed if at all possible. We have one vendor that will not budge on their net 10 terms and hits you with a late fee every time. If I had to wait for the bill to reach me in the mail and then turn around and mail in a check to them, it would never get paid on time.

      I’m going to assume that you won’t have this much control or authority, but if your company doesn’t already do weekly check runs, I’d also recommend that. Also, if you don’t have to “hold” the invoice until close to the due date, I wouldn’t. Again, I’m suspecting all of this is out of your control, but paying weekly and paying as soon as possible after receiving the invoice will go a long way to cutting back late fees.

      And if you haven’t tried it, a lot of times those fees will be waived if you call and ask, especially if your company does a lot of business with the vendor.

  3. Greg M.*

    ugh number 5, this is like all those gas stations charging employees for drive offs. it’s bull.

    1. Bea*

      I’ve never heard of that happening. Those gas stations are lazy and gross since that’s theft, you get the license plate and call the cops to file a report, not act like your employee can stop a thief. I’ve seen countless signs about drive offs.

      I bet there must be places who punish servers the same way for dine and dash instances too.

      Ick, nothing gets my anger boiling like bad executive decisions that only hurt their staff and steal their hard earned money.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It definitely still happens… I have several cousins who are gas station attendants who’ve had drive-offs. And many waiters still get punished for dine-and-dash customers. It doesn’t happen everywhere, but it’s common enough to be a problem.

        1. Blueismyfavorite*

          Every restaurant I ever worked at where the server held the “bank”, meaning the customer paid the server, made the servers pay for dine and dashers. I actually quit a job over it. The Coke and the Pepsi reps who came to our restaurant weekly decided to have lunch one day. They paid by credit card and left but when I went to their table to pick up the signed slip, it wasn’t there. I knew they weren’t dining and dashing because we knew those guys and we knew they’d be back in a week. It had to be a mistake. I asked my manager if I could call them and ask about it and he said nope, it was coming out of my bank that day. My boyfriend was a manager of a restaurant owned by the same company so I called him for advice. He said to immediately clock out on the computer because if I was clocked out, management couldn’t assess the ticket to my bank. I clocked out and the manager was FURIOUS and told me to get off his floor. I cashed out and quit. Had a new job the next day.

          1. Mookie*

            But, serious question, what are waitstaff and gas station attendants meant to do? Act like bouncers? Tackle the the dashers and drive-offers? Employees are generally told to cooperate with criminals (your Coke and Pepsi reps weren’t that, just careless) and not interfere, for their own safety and that of everyone around them. This is both proper risk management and ethical (stealing goods or enjoying service without paying is not a situation that needs to be escalated by employees frightened of losing out on their wages if they don’t act). Encouraging vigilante methods is eventually going to prove a fatal and costly policy.

            1. Koko*

              What they are meant to do is pay the loss to subsidize the employer. These policies aren’t intended as some sort of consequence or deterrent that’s supposed to punish or motivate the employee. They are an opportunity a business sees and takes advantage of to push business costs onto employees who can’t push back.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yes, what Koko said. Restaurants will tell you it’s theft prevention, but at a practical level (given how widespread this is and that it applies to credit card tabs, too), it’s really about exploiting your employees by transferring your business costs to your wait staff.

                There’s almost nothing wait staff or gas station attendants can do to prevent someone from doing this, and you’re often trained not to intervene (similarly to how retail stores will discourage employees from chasing after shoplifters).

                1. Agile Phalanges*

                  Exactly. I’m sure even if a customer walked into a restaurant with a T-shirt saying “I dine and dash” and actively told the server they were planning not to pay, they wouldn’t be allowed to not serve them. Ridiculous.

            2. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

              It is to prevent employees from taking cash payments and claiming theft by the customer – basically it is saying it is more likely the employee is stealing than the customer. It is a bs policy and one I quit restaurant jobs over.

              1. many bells down*

                I got held up at a front-desk-cashier job once, and my bosses made a lot of suspicious noises about “how could this happen and did he REALLY have a weapon?!” I pointed out there were two security cameras pointed at the front door and the register that they could check.

                Turns out, the cameras were fake. The cops were pretty pissed about that.

            3. boop the first*

              Ugh… this reminds me of what it was like to be a cashier. A tiny group of small, teenaged girls and yes, we were meant to act like bouncers: stopping people at the door on their way out and searching for loot. One time a coworker pulled a stolen jacket off of one customer. Turns out he’d kept a 12 inch serrated blade in his pants. No one was hurt… this time.

              But they didn’t charge us for mistakes. The owners were actually pretty cool with worker’s rights (otherwise).

            4. MWKate*

              I waited tables for a year after college – and technically the policy wasn’t that we had to cover the bank, BUT if it happened once, you were written up. If it happened again – you were fired. So basically while it wasn’t official policy, if you wanted to keep your job you had to cover dine and dashers yourself.

              I think I lasted 6 mos there. In addition to the below minimum wage hourly rate, it wasn’t worth it. Things like this should be considered part of the cost of doing business, it’s ridiculous to have employees cover the company’s costs.

              1. JKP*

                They still have to pay you minimum wage. They can pay tipped employees the lower-than-minimum wage rate with the assumption that your tips will push you over the minimum wage threshold. But if you ever don’t get enough tips to be paid minimum wage, then the employer is legally obligated to pay the difference.

                1. MWKate*

                  You have to end up at minimum wage – but technically most of that is not coming from the restaurant, it’s coming from the customers. To me, that was always a crappy way of getting out of paying your employees decently yourself.

                2. Zombii*

                  Yes, but how long do you expect most people who run restaurants are going to keep waitstaff that they’re “losing money on” by having to pay more than the tipped minimum? There’s a reason they’ll coach you on how to get more tips, and it’s not for your benefit.

            5. Allison*

              When I worked at a bookstore, we were told that if we were attentive and friendly, we could deter shoplifters. If we saw someone walking out with merchandise (which was easy to do and happened a lot, as we had two exit but no registers at one of them), we were just supposed to go over and wish them a nice day or something.

      2. Thieves*

        It happens sooo often. Why call the police when robbing your employees is so much faster and easier?

      3. Jen S. 2.0*

        I am amazed that drive-offs are even possible. Is this common? Everywhere I’ve ever lived or driven regularly (generally urban / East Coast), you pay *before* you pump. Only one time in life have I ever been to a gas station (in a relatively rural area) where I went to pay before pumping, and the employee was totally baffled as to why I was trying to give her money with no idea of what my bill was. That was probably 20 years ago. Can you still pump before paying these days?

        1. Jen RO*

          TIL that in the US you have to pay before pumping… this is very, very uncommon in all the European countries I’ve driven in.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            They changed the law here in BC a few years ago after some poor kid working at a gas station got killed trying to prevent someone from driving off without paying. Other provinces are thinking about implementing something similar now. Makes perfect sense to me; no-one should die for a few dollars worth of gas…

        2. Jen S. 2.0*

          Maybe it’s different if you’re paying cash? I’ve filled a tank overseas maybe 3 times in the last 5 years or so. I don’t remember thinking anything of the order of operations, but I’m sure I used a card each time (I seldom use cash at all, no matter where I am). Do you pump first with cash, and pay first with a card?

          1. Jen RO*

            In Romania, you always pump and then pay (regardless of the payment method). There are even signs on the pumps that, if you have a corporate gas card, you must first check the balance and make sure you don’t pump more than you can pay.

            I’ve driven less in other countries, but in France, Spain, Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey you pumped first and paid later.

          2. Al Lo*

            The most annoying thing is (was? As PINs are becoming prevalent?) trying to pay at the pump with a Canadian card in parts of the U.S. before PINs on credit cards. For security, they require the card’s zip code to be entered, but won’t take the PIN from a Canadian credit card (which, of course, has a postal code, not a zip code, attached to it), so that always requires pre-paying inside before pumping. The zip code entry isn’t/wasn’t everywhere, but I see it a lot in California.

            1. CDM*

              I just fueled at a rest stop on the NY State Thruway, and the pumps has stickers instructing Canadian users how to deal with the postal codes issue at the pump. But I didn’t pay attention as to how.

            2. RBK*

              I’ve heard (and tried) that you can remove the letters and add zeros at the end.

              M5J 3H8 would be 53800.

          3. Alter_ego*

            No, in the us, I’ve never seen a station that lets you pump first, cash or credit. If you’re paying cash, you given them an amount close to what you think it will take to fill your tank. If it’s less, you just get that much gas. If it’s more, you go back inside to get refunded the difference.

            Except, I guess, in full service stations. You pay after the fact in those.

            1. Liifi*

              Has this changed? I haven’t driven in a good eight years, but where I grew up in Ohio, you pumped and then went inside to pay.

              1. CherryScary*

                Currently living in Ohio, I’ve been driving for about 9 years and have always had to pay first.

              2. JB (not in Houston)*

                When I was growing up in the 80s, you would pump then pay. But we are derailing now, so I think we should all probably move on from this topic.

              3. Intrepid*

                I grew up in Michigan, and as recently as ~3 years ago I distinctly remember pumping so that it would be $20 even, then running inside and paying (sometimes cash, sometimes credit).

            2. JanetM*

              I am aware of at least some self-serve gas stations in rural southern Illinois where you pay inside after pumping the gas. Enough of them, in fact, that when my friends from there came to visit me, they expressed bafflement and outrage at being expected to prepay. And, come to think of it, one of the first times I visited them, they expressed bafflement and outrage when I started to walk into the station to prepay.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              It depends. I don’t think it’s the majority of stations; it seems like a sizeable minority of stations that haven’t updated their pump stations/POS capacity (think: parts of rural America) let you pump before you pay if you’re paying in cash. I would say 50% of the rural CA stations I’ve been to let you pump before you pay so long as you hit “pay inside” before filling up. Newer POS systems lock the pump until you’ve paid inside in advance (e.g., “$20 on pump 4”) or at least swiped your card.

            4. Hlyssande*

              It really depends on where you are! In the Minneapolis-St Paul area it’s a mix. Some stations will allow some pumps that are within clear view of the cashiers to pump first and pay inside, but anything not in clear view is prepay or pay at the pump. Some are all prepay/pay at the pump, and I’ve seen some that let you pump first regardless of sightlines.

              1. RadManCF*

                To add to this, I’m also from MSP, and notice that the pre-pay only stations are more common the closer you get to the city centers, as well as along the 494-694 loop. Stations farther out in the suburbs still typically allow for pumping before payment.

          4. Emi.*

            I think in the US, if you pay cash, you pay first and they only let the pump dispense as much gas as you paid for.

            1. committee member*

              Yes, if you are paying cash in most places in the US, you go inside and pay first, and the pump will cut you off after the value of gas gets to the total where you paid. It’s typical to pre-pay $20 or so for a full tank.

              Most people pre-pay on credit or debit cards so the gas station will put an authorization hold for $50 or whatever and then it gets adjusted to the true dollar amount shortly thereafter (could be a day or two though).

        3. SaraV*

          Here in the midwest, there are a number of gas stations where you can pump before you pay. But, you have to select “Pay Inside” on the screen before the pump activates. (I’ve done this before when I know I’m going inside to purchase a drink/snack before I leave) I would hazard a guess that this alerts the attendant so that they can keep a watch on you by looking out the window or by CCTV. There’s also many gas stations where the pumps that are closest to the road/exit are “pay before pumping” to keep from having driveoffs since they’re usually farther from the building where the attendant is.

          1. Jaydee*

            Midwesterner here with the same experience. When you press “pay inside” there is also an obnoxious beeping/ringing sound that starts inside the convenience store after a few minutes and continues until you pay for your gas. Also known as the Jaydee-is-getting-donuts alarm.

          2. Perse's Mom*

            Yep, my local Kwik Trip has both options – a couple of pumps are exclusively pay before you pump (either cash inside or by card) and the rest are either/or. Much like you, I really only pay inside if I need coffee or a donut or something.

        4. SophieChotek*

          I can and I live in the U.S. I am sure they are taking photos of my license, etc., but I would say every gas station I have been to in my area, with one exception, I can pump before I pay. (That’s because I want to pay inside and use my gas coupon.) One gas station makes you come in and drop off you car keys/credit card/cash before they’ll let you start pumping, but that is the only one. All the other gas stations, you just push the button, and voice asks “Are you paying inside?’, I say “yes”, the person inside says, “Thank you, see you inside” and I pay inside…
          If I wasn’t always using coupons, it would be so much faster to just swipe my card. (Oh I think on gas station makes you swipe your card, then you go in and they refund you the difference of the coupon.)

        5. Minerva McGonagall*

          Northeast US – When I started driving ~1990 you could pump and then pay most places, but when gas went up to $4/gallon, nearly every place switched over to pay in advance.

        6. LQ*

          Less than 20 years ago in the tiny town near where I went to school you could pump and if you were late for school just come back and pay after school. The owner was very big on everyone needs to go to class. So he’d just write down the amount and wave you on your way. But it was a VERY small town and he did know who everyone was and where they went to school and their parents and where they lived and all of them.

        7. That Would Be a Good Band Name*

          Where I live (US midwest), it’s pretty common to be able to pay after pumping. Generally as long as the cashier can see you, they’ll turn on the pump. However, I couldn’t tell you the last time I walked in to pay. That’s what pay at the pump is for :)

        8. Allison*

          No idea, but I’m also on the east coast (Boston) and every pump I’ve encountered required you to put in a card or pay inside for it to activate.

        9. Miss Betty*

          I never saw a prepay pump until 2000, when we moved to Las Vegas. We moved back to the Midwest in 2007; by that time, all the gas stations here were prepay as well. I imagine it’s still possible to find them somewhere.

        10. Jadelyn*

          I was wondering the same thing. I’ve literally never gotten gas into my tank unless I had already forked over money or swiped my card. The pumps at every gas station I’ve ever been to require that you do one or the other before they even activate to dispense product. And I grew up on the West Coast, but I’ve done cross-country road trips and lived in Tennessee for a few years and still nowhere, ever, have I even had the opportunity to pull a drive-off, so I read the comments above and have just been sitting here baffled…

      4. TheOperaGhost*

        I found out that the one local restaurant charged its servers when people left without paying. They also would charge the server for the check when the table would cancel the rest of their order because it would take over an hour for the kitchen to make just the appetizers. I don’t eat their anymore, and I told the server what the owners were doing was most likely illegal under our state’s law.

    2. Cat H (UK)*

      I was once just about 16 and working at Pizza Hut in the UK. A table of 4 walked out without paying so I had to pay their bill of about £40. It was totally ridiculous, and if it was now, there would have been no way that I would have paid that!
      They even tell you that you can’t leave the restaurant to chase a non bill payer so what can you do?

  4. So Very Anonymous*

    #3: I work at a state university, and our timesheets are autopopulated if the university closes for weather. I happened to have taken my birthday off one year on a day that turned out to be a snow day. I only had to take four hours of PTO because the university closed after four hours. (If the word “snowpocalypse” sticks in your memory, then you know why I was totally fine with giving up 4 hours of PTO in exchange for not having commuted that day!)

    1. snuck*

      I agree with Allison… morale vs technically being correct.

      I see an exception – if the person who booked the time off had to have someone else scheduled to cover them, and then that person had to clear their normal day off and plan to come into work. Then the replacement shift gets the freebie… as they were scheduled in.

      The person who had the day as leave had the advantage of knowing ahead of time and being able to plan for that…. the person who had to cover for them didn’t…

      1. Lauren*

        What about when they close the office, the day before Thanksgiving at the last minute – but you took a PTO day for it?

        I always hated taking a day off before a holiday weeks in advance or for a long weekend and then find out that people were sent home at 1/2 day or the told the office is closed the night before – but I was still charged for the PTO day – for preparing ahead of time.

        I am talking about office work, not shift work – where I agree that the person scheduled to take over should get paid for this. For most offices I have worked in, no one is covering for me – work is shifted to not happen until the person comes back, pre-loading your week with extra work you would have done during the week out with 80 hours and then doing 80 hours when you get back to catch. Defeating the purpose of taking a vacation in the first place – especially since we are all required to take our laptops with us and call in to meetings.

        I may look at email, but end up claiming no WIFI / cell access to avoid doing work during my trips. But if they know I am stay-cationing, its basically just a WFH week for me.

        1. Amber T*

          At my company, if you’ve taken the day off and then the office is closed, you’re not charged PTO. But if you’ve taken the day off the office closes early (usually for the day before a holiday), you’re still charged for the full day. That’s why we always joke it’s not worth it to take a day off before Thanksgiving/Christmas since we know we’ll close early.

      2. Vox de Causa*

        I’ve worked places where a lot of people routinely took days off (without a lot of notice) when they thought the weather was going to turn bad. This was ostensibly to avoid an unexcused (same day call in) absence, but it left the business short-handed. On the rare occasions the business closed for inclement weather, anyone who had made the effort to come in was paid for the time that they were sent home. Anyone who had taken the day off in advance to avoid driving in was still charged their vacation time. They did it that way to encourage at least some of the staff to try to come in on snowy or icy days.

    2. Annonymouse*

      For me it depends on the structure of the time off – for example if it was during a week of holiday leave.

      Well obviously the person covering for you should get the free day and not you. It wouldn’t matter to you if it snowed or not as you were on vacation.

      Just a day off or half day with no coverage for them makes me more inclined to go be it back but…. I’m on the side of not giving it to them.

      But then again I’m from a country were:
      It doesn’t snow (so no snow or other weather days)
      We have a legally protected 4 weeks annual leave and 2 weeks sick leave

    3. Darcy*

      The argument for still charging them that day off is as Alison indicated that they can plan for the day off. They can sleep in, where others who end up taking a snow day often got up at their regularly scheduled time before they found out about the closure. Also, we don’t get real snow days any longer; if the office is closed that just means work from home. In which case someone who didn’t do any work at all should use PTO. So there are several factors to consider here.

      1. HR in the city*

        I agree with you. Having an actual scheduled day off is different than the office closing for a snow day. Also I’m assuming that this person didn’t know about the office closure until later so I would guess that they didn’t do any work whereas its really possible that those that had to work did do some work. I don’t think that making those that were scheduled to work use PTO is fair but this is a little different. I understand for morale where Alison is coming from but in my experience the employee that will ask this type of thing is probably the employee that will try to manipulate their time all the time to avoid using paid time off. I won’t go into any details but it does happen where the employee will try to find creative ways to get paid days off.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          “but in my experience the employee that will ask this type of thing is probably the employee that will try to manipulate their time all the time to avoid using paid time off”

          Maybe you are referring to a particular employee you have worked with, but it’s an unfair generalization to make across the board. There’s a legitimate argument on both sides of this issue, and you can’t fairly ascribe bad behavior or ethics to someone who asks about it.

          Also, you said “its really possible that those that had to work did do some work,” but there’s nothing in the letter that says whether other employees could or did do work on the snow day, so you’re really just speculating and using that speculation as a basis for position. There are certainly circumstances where employees would be working from home on a snow day, but this letter doesn’t give us enough information to say one way or another. There’s just as much of a chance that all employees just binged Netflix all day.

          1. snuck*

            I think HR in the City is referring to the staff who generally nickel and dime every moment of timesheets they can.

            I’m with them… in my experience managing a range of staff across a range of skill, experience and pay levels… the staff who watch the clock and try to manipulate every moment of their time off… and ones that might make a request like this more often than others.

            But yes, not as a rule, as a generalisation, this is the case. You could also have a perfectly reasonable employee who never asks to get all the public holiday gaps and long weekend extensions and mark off their part days in dubious ways… they can ask this too, but if they were reasonable and easy going you wouldn’t necessarily have an issue discussing it with them?

    4. KL*

      Snowpocalypse still sends shivers down my spine (pun intended). I work for a university outside of X and was very thankful I didn’t have to drive to your city that day.

    5. Nat*

      I wonder why an employee would think they get the day back when they indeed took vacation? What the other employees were doing(working or not) has zero effect on the employee’s vacation day – they still had it.
      Our department has a policy that if you were taking the day off anyway, and then the business was closed due to inclement weather (or power loss, or something else) then you still take your vacation day. It gets stickier when, say you take the Wed. before Turkey Day off, and then the president gives everyone a holiday for 1/2 on Wednesday. In the latter, it is a brand-new holiday that everyone gets (and is usually announced at least a day or two ahead of time), so the vacation time is now only 1/2 day.

  5. Artemesia*

    In my experience, people who put up with things like 7 am meetings when coming in from the west coast get them. I know several situations where someone suffered under similar nonsense for months or years and then a new person was hired for the job and said ‘uhuh, let’s start at 10 — or let’s move the deadline to 2 since I won’t be coming in till 8 to begin work on this — or whatever the issues is and voila, the policy changes. I once had an international consulting gig where I would be traveling 24 hours and then expected to work the day of arrival; I just insisted the contract included coming in a day earlier and having one day off before starting. When pushed they agreed.

    When unreasonable schedules are set, push back the first time.

    1. CMT*

      This is a good point. If they’re reasonable (which is an assumption, but a likely possibility because more people are reasonable than unreasonable) it won’t be a problem. They might not have the mind-reading capabilities to know what a burden the early meetings are. And if they are unreasonable about it, you’ll know where they stand. But starting with the most reasonable course of action is usually the best bet.

    2. LadyCop*

      100%. I can’t tell you how often my night shifts have meant that I cannot schedule things the way others do. (It’s mind boggling how many people *even my own family* just assume everyone in the world works 9-5 Monday-Friday and has all holidays off.)

      Speaking up has rarely resulted in pushback…No. I can’t have lunch with you at noon…that’s my 3am ;)

      1. LCL*

        Exactly, just speak up. People that work bankers’ hours can be very understanding once it is explained to them why a certain time is a burden. If you are in a position to advocate for your swing/nightshift people it is your responsibility to explain the peculiarities of schedules and time zones.

        I have observed that people from later time zones that come here for early meetings will do so without pushing back; then they leave after the meeting and take the rest of the day off.

    3. uh*

      My employer would say it is a part of your job, period. They really don’t care if you like it or if it is convenient.

      1. MK*

        But it’s not simply a matter of convenience, it impacts their ability to do their work. If the employer is fine with sleep-deprived zombies going through the motions of working, that’s on them, I guess.

        1. the gold digger*

          My former boss did not care. We left on Friday for Dubai, arrived Saturday night at 11 p.m. (and then spent an hour going through the most maddeningly inefficient immigration process), and had to be at work the next day at 9.

          Thankfully, the office had a guy whose sole job appeared to be making excellent cappuccino.

          I am still cranky about this.

          1. LTR*

            “Thankfully, the office had a guy whose sole job appeared to be making excellent cappuccino.”

            I love so much about this sentence. My office desperately needs a dedicated cappuccino maker; I’ll do it if it pays.

            1. Jadelyn*

              If you find someone, maybe we can split the bill if I can get them for my office a day or two a week.

      2. Artemesia*

        But not everyone works for a douche. A surprisingly large number of bad situations are inflicted by people on themselves because they assume they must accept anything without questioning it. Sometimes it won’t work; if it is unreasonable enough the choice is suck it up because you can’t work elsewhere or get another job. But often it is surprisingly easy to change unreasonable requirements.

    4. K.*

      Yeah, I used to work for a company with offices all over the world and I simply blocked off times on my calendar that were unreasonable (the middle of the night and wee hours of the morning). If a meeting request came from the UK that would have had me on the phone at 3 AM, I declined it and said why – “Sorry, but that’s the middle of the night my time – can we do [other proposed time]?” No one objected.

      1. Amber T*

        I think the key thing is introducing the idea of changing the time of a meeting as “clearly you didn’t realize you were mistaken, no worries, let’s do X instead.” Assuming two people in the same time zone are trying to schedule a meeting, what would seem reasonable? I hate early morning meetings, but if a client requested a 7am meeting, I’d say fine, because while it’s not my preference, it’s not unreasonable (and when working with clients, you do have to bend a little bit). But if the client requested a meeting at 4am? That’s unreasonable and I would push back.

        East coast folks admittedly forget about the time difference. When I first started and was trying to schedule something with our CA office, I recommended 9am est, to which my CA counterpart laughed. Once it was pointed out to me, I became more careful about the time differences. Not gonna say I never made the same mistake again, but it happened less and less frequently.

        OP – if your client is flying you out, presumably you/your company is pretty valuable to them (I assume you have competitors that would be more local to them but they stick with you!). If it’s the client pushing for early meetings, I don’t think you’d be out of line at all to say “Given that I’m flying out that morning, how about we start the meeting at 9/10/11 am” or even “Given that the meeting starts at 7am, why don’t I fly out the night before?” With current clients, it might be more difficult since you’ve been accomadating before, but if you get any new clients on the east coast it’s worth trying.

    5. Trout 'Waver*

      I disagree. I once interviewed someone from the west coast for a job on the east coast. I didn’t think about jet lag and scheduled the interview for 8:00 am. He didn’t feel like he could push back because he was interviewing. Once I realized what I had put him through, I was very apologetic and learned my lesson about interviewing people from other time zones.

      I would never blame him for not pushing back, nor would I blame a vendor who prides themselves on customer service not pushing back against a customer request.

      1. zora*

        There’s a way to gently point it out, though, without being seen as rude or pushing back in a bad way. If this ever happened to me, I would definitely say something like “that will be very early for me on west coast time, is it possible to make it a little later?” and if they said, no, this is the only time we can do, I would say, “Ok, that’s fine, thank you!”

        I mean, yeah, it should be on the person booking the call to think of the time zones, but I think there is always an opening to politely request another time even if they say no.

    6. zora*

      Agreed. I’m glad my current boss is modeling this really well. She’s a bigwig, and she just insists on blocking her calendar until 10am Pacific time, and largely just says she’s unable to do calls earlier than that and most people just deal with it. It’s mostly so her commute is at a reasonable time, and partly so she has time in the morning to get some work done before she gets stuck on back to back calls all day.

      She does it very matter of factly, and is not rude about it. And of course is willing to make exceptions when it’s something that is a major priority for her. But she has to explicitly agree to an exception, her calendar is blocked as the default. And if it’s not a major priority, she just suggests pushing a call back another week or two until we can find a time that is more reasonable for parties in both time zones! we are in PR, so the vast majority of calls are not life-or-death urgent, most of our stuff can wait another couple of weeks.

      I’m taking notes and will definitely be sure to use this in the future if I’m ever in that position.

  6. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – incorrect sentence structure – unless the person is a copy editor leave it alone.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Yeah, I can’t imagine a circumstance where this would be a good idea. Even if you were a new employee, it would be weird/awkward to uninvitedly proof a coworker/boss’s LinkedIn profile. But it seems even more inappropriate for a candidate to do so.

      1. Mookie*

        It’s like something a precocious teenager would do, all smiles and expecting to be thanked. Even Tracy Flick wouldn’t do this, though. She’d glory in the hiring manager’s mistakes and kill that interview.

      2. Serin*

        I tried to imagine a circumstance, and the only things I came up with were if her LinkedIn profile has a typo that makes it say something really embarrassing, or there’s something in it that suggests that it’s been vandalized (“Manager of Layoffs and Other Crimes”).

        Otherwise, yeah, it’s, “Thanks, Hermione, shut up now.”

  7. Thlayli*

    #1 Run! Run a mile from this company. When I was working part time as a teenager and during my degree I interviewed with or worked for a good few companies with shady hiring practices like this. Every single one of them turned out to be dodgy and I regretted whatever involvement I had with them. Refusing to give you something in writing before you commit to working for them, refusing to give you a straight answer on salary, giving you conflicting info on salary (it’s negotiable one minute but you have to work at the stated rate the next), and only giving you a 2 minute meet with the person who will apparently make the salary decision are ALL red flags.

    Trust me you do not want to work for these people.

    If they suddenly do a complete 180 and give you a written offer stating clearly your starting salary and when it will be negotiated then maybe consider them, but otherwise chalk this up to “crazy interviews I have had” and move on.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Seriously. OP, from my experience this is not a normal or common business practice or approach.

      Either this is a start-up with no prior professional or managerial experience, or these folks are crooks, or both. It’s ridiculous to have to play “20 Questions: Salary edition” when someone is using you for your work. And what assessment requires you to work for a week before they tell you your salary? This is shady as hell and is throwing out red flags while a marquee flashes “danger!” overhead. If I were in your situation, I would probably withdraw my application.

      1. jordanjay29*

        Plus they were interviewing multiple candidates at once. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were just getting a week’s worth of work out of people before moving on to the next.

    2. Che*

      Yes! I ended up declining another interview with them because I wasn’t comfortable and thought continuing on with them won’t be worth my time. I figure, there will be more opportunities out there. Hopefully this is the only time I’ll experience this.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Congrats! Honestly it sounds like you dodged a bullet. There’s a 0.01% chance they were legit, but I’m risk-averse and wouldn’t want those odds.

      2. PB*

        So glad to hear this! This many red flags this early on is alarming. I’m glad you dodged that bullet!

      3. Happy Lurker*

        You did dodge a bullet. This company just showed you how they work when they are trying to woo you into a job. I can only imagine how it may be once you are there.

      4. Chickaletta*

        Good! They sound like they don’t know much about running a business with employees anyway. The good thing is that you figured this out before you started working for them.

    3. Newby*

      Do they assume none of their applicants have a current job? It seems like doing a weeks worth of work without an actual offer would put their job in jeopardy. How many people can (and would be willing to) take a week off from their job to try out for a new job?

    4. Steve*

      My wife took a job and they didn’t tell her how much she would be making until 2-3 months in. They had to verify her education and experience before they could calculate her pay. It was a union job so very formulaic. They paid her the minimum for the first 3 months, then retro pay once they figured it out. I have never worked a union job, I know salary can be formulaic and government employers can be very bureaucratic, but I was surprised even so (not worried, just surprised.)

  8. Serendipity*

    I never appreciated my annual leave entitlements until I started reading this blog.
    I get 20 days of paid leave in addition to public holidays, plus carer’s leave, volunteer days (for community or charity), jury duty, moving days, study leave and as much sick leave as needed. I’ve never used anything close to my full leave entitlement, but I feel enormously privileged to have it available, and I won’t take it for granted any more.

    Sorry, I know that isn’t helpful for you #OP3. The end result is that all staff had the day off, but you were the only one docked a vacation day for it. That is not fair and I would be asking strongly to have my day refunded

    1. Channel Z*

      Me too, but I’m in Europe. I was shocked to discover that when I was working part time at a cafe, I still got 20 days leave. This is a major reason why we don’t want to return to US.

    2. krysb*

      My company has unlimited vacation days for salaried employees. Technically our personal days are capped at 5, but no one checks – and we don’t really check for attendance. If I, as a salaried employee, call out, the payroll manager has no idea.

    3. Dizzy Steinway*

      Me too. I have 13 days at set times including 8 bank holidays, 25 days to take when I want, pto for jury service, etc. I’m in England.

    4. Anonymous 40*

      I work for a large academic medical center in the US. We only have one pool of PTO – 29 days per year – to cover vacation, holidays, and sick time. If any day you want to be off falls on a regularly scheduled day, you have to take PTO. So if you work Monday through Friday and Christmas is on Thursday, you either take PTO for Thursday or work Christmas. They switched to this a few years ago to make things more fair for the clinical staff who have to cover the hospitals 24×7. As a regular-work-hours employee, I was a little put off by it at first but have come to appreciate being able to use my time as I see fit. It does take a bit more planning and tracking to make sure I use it where I need it, but I’ve adjusted to that.

  9. CAA*

    Why do people think the cost of giving extra PTO to an employee is zero? Work didn’t get done, revenue didn’t get earned, and while some portion of that might be made up in the future, it’s unlikely to be 100%. The more unplanned days off that the employer has to pay for, the harder it is to make up that revenue. I get that if you already gave the other 100 people on your staff a day off, then adding one more isn’t a significant added expense, but those 101 paid days off certainly weren’t cost-free for the employer.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      But why should the employee pay for that? It’s not like the employee gets an extra vacation day out of it—she simply preserves the same balance of days as her coworkers.

      Weather closures are part of the normal cost of doing business, and most responsible businesses plan accordingly. Why should the burden of accommodating those shut-downs fall on workers instead of on the company?

      1. CAA*

        Not saying the employee should suffer, just that we shouldn’t claim there’s no cost to handing out extra PTO, which is an idea that gets thrown around pretty frequently here, including in Alison’s answer to #3.

        1. Mookie*

          In that case, your remark is a non-sequitur and doesn’t apply here. The employer did not suffer financially and the OP’s daily wages, like that of her colleagues’s, are not an expense that needs to be offset.

        2. Hiring Mgr*

          There may or may not be a cost…If morale or attitudes are improved by this type of flexibility that could more than make up for it.

        3. Triceratops*

          I think in this case she’s just saying that the employer already paid for a “free” day off for everyone else, so adding one more isn’t going to be significant.

    2. MommyMD*

      I agree. The zero cost thing confused me. I would refund the day, but there is a cost to that.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I certainly don’t think there’s no cost to PTO in general! That would be silly. It’s only the case in this specific situation where the company is closed for the day anyway. It’s no different than an employee who requests PTO and then ends up not taking it because her plans get canceled.

      If the company closes for weather, it’s presumably prepared to pay the cost of doing that.

    4. MK*

      I think Alison meant there is no extra cost. Yes, the office staying closed lead to lost revenue, but that is a cost the company has already incurred.

      1. Steve*

        If the PTO isn’t deducted, the employee is going to take that day later. So there is a cost to them. The cost is a wash now, but later they’ll lose a day worth of whatever that employee would have accomplished.
        (The cost might be worth it to them but it still exists.)

    5. Channel Z*

      But there could be a cost to morale for not refunding the day, which may not have an immediate impact but does in the long term with regards to productivity and turnover.
      On the other hand, if she is granted the time back just because she asked, there may have been someone else who didn’t get time back for same situation and that wouldn’t be fair. A clear policy going forward would help.

      1. Naruto*

        I agree that a clear policy going forward is the key thing here. Frankly, I think either approach would be fair to the employee, although in general I like more rather than less vacation. But communicating what will happen so there are no surprises is important, regardless of which approach the employer takes.

  10. DataQueen*

    While I have sympathy for OP#3s snow day/vacation day victim, cause that is just really bad luck, unfortunately we would hold the vacation day. It’s not that this situation isn’t right – it’s that it opens the door to other situations where people were nickel and diming thier time in really weird ways, so we had to be more firm. “Hey, I ended up being sick on the cruise so I’m taking 3 sick days and 4 vacation days instead of 7 vacations, so I can save those.” Or “I ran into a client at the mall on my day off yesterday and we chatted for 15 minutes so I’m going to deduct that from my PTO.” Um… no. All reasonable, logical situations, but not something a reasonable, logical person would ask. Sigh – ruins it for the rest of us!

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      That sounds like there are unclear guidelines or overindulgence of bullshit excuses used to game leave. But ideally offices with functional leave systems wouldn’t penalize their employees this way.

      1. ilikeaskamanager*

        An office can have functional leave systems and still have people who want to split a hair 27 times. We have very clear and consistent policies in place about leave, and we still have employees who want to challenge every policy and request exceptions. In our company, we do not retroactively change a leave status. If you put in for vacation, you don’t change it to something else after the fact. You can change your mind before the fact (e.g, cancel your day off and come to work instead) and get the day restored, but once you take it, it stands as what you requested.

        1. Judy*

          And that’s what leads managers like one former one, who refused to change a week’s vacation to sick time when the employee was in a wreck on the way to the airport and ended up in the hospital for several days but able to return to work the following week.

          He also, in a minor way, did a similar thing to me. We delayed leaving on a driving vacation because I was too ill to be in the car for 2 days. He wouldn’t allow me to switch to (limited, but carries over year to year) sick time from the 10 vacation days we had a year.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          I generally bristle when organizations adopt draconian leave “rules” because some employees are perceived to be gaming the system. It’s terrible for morale and doesn’t actually address the root problem—it just avoids addressing bad behavior directly. But this rigidity is also extraordinarily frustrating for employees who are being honest about leave.

          I understand sick leave isn’t required in all states or in all jobs, but if it’s part of an employee’s compensation, it’s unreasonable to try to burden them or prevent them from taking it. If a compact isn’t willing to do that, then get rid of sick leave and call it all PTO. But if you’re going to provide it, even if it’s not legally required, don’t get angry when people try to access it.

    2. LawCat*

      On using sick days rather than vacation when you get sick on vacation, why on earth would that be a problem? Just seems like an odd thing to quibble on, especially since that meant someone’s vacation probably sucked on those days.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed. I don’t see why it matters if employees have sick days and vacation days and the totals are still drawing down. In theory they’re all in one big “leave” pot, so it shouldn’t ,after that much how leave I say “withdrawn” (I.e., utilized). I can understand the PTO frustration, but frankly, if a client calls on my day off or runs into me and asks me non-social, work-related questions, I’m going to bill for that time and deduct it from the amount of PTO I used that day because I was doing actual work. It sounds like it’s only abusive if people are lying, in which case the problem isn’t leave policies—it’s the lying.

        1. ilikeaskamanager*

          They aren’t all in one big pot if they are separated and accrued separately. Annual leave is part of someone’s compensation and a liability on the books for a company. It must be paid out when an employee leaves at the employees current rate of pay. Sick leave is not legally a part of compensation, and is not a liability on the books of a company, nor is it generally presumed that an employee has a “right” to take all the sick leave he/she might accrue. there have been other discussion in this forum about the philosophy/practices around sick leave so I won’t go into that here, but from a purely business standpoint, the two types of leave are not the same.

          1. Brett*

            Odd, that’s the opposite of the practice here.

            Annual leave is not accrued and has a minimal roll over (normally 50%).

            Sick leave is a treated as an earned right and cannot be revoked ever and is paid out at full value when an employee leaves. At old job, I saw employees retire with over 6000 hours of sick leave (they had been accruing for 40 years), and promoted 4-5 levels above the level they had been at when they first earned sick leave.

          2. StopThatGoat*

            I was under the impression that sick leave often has caps because it could still be a liability. I’m not sure that your point is universal. However, I’m not in any sort of accounting or auditing fields so I could be wrong.

          3. Natalie*

            Annual leave is part of someone’s compensation and a liability on the books for a company. It must be paid out when an employee leaves at the employees current rate of pay

            This actually varies significantly by state.

            From an accounting stand point, both forms of leave are held on the books a liability until and unless they expire or the employee separates from the company.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I was going to say this. It’s not universally off the books—it depends on the state, and there are states that mandate sick leave or it’s equivalent.

              1. Natalie*

                I’d say it’s more universally *on* the books – laws about required leave or payout don’t affect whether something is an accounting liability. Unless the company capriciously revokes leave time, once it’s been earned by the employee it’s a liability just like any other payable.

              2. ilikeaskamanager*

                fair enough. In our state paid sick time is not mandated and not paid out when someone leaves.

          4. Abby*

            Actually, in the US it depends on how the company awards leave. In many states, you are not required to pay out vacation leave or sick leave so it is not necessarily a liability on a company’s books. In my experience, most companies do not pay out for unused vacation leave or sick leave.

            It is correct that PTO does have a cost to a company but it is not always true that even if sick leave and vacation leave are accrued separately that one is a liability and the other is not.

            1. Natalie*

              Right, you have to accrue it if “payment is probable”, which is obviously going to be true if your state requires leave payout but will also very likely be true if your state doesn’t require leave payout.

              Although looking into the sick issue more, I may have just worked for some weird companies that book a liability for sick time even though they don’t have to. The standards apparently don’t generally require it simply because they decided the amounts were too small and irregular to matter. Go figure.

        2. doreen*

          Whether taking a “sick” day or a “vacation” makes a difference most likely depends on how a variety of policies intersect with each other. For example, I’m sure my employer would be fine with changing from “vacation” to “sick” if I became ill during a planned vacation. A few years ago, they started enforcing the policy that if an employee called in sick on the day-of, they had to use sick leave if it was available. Prior to the enforcement of that policy, I could call and say I wouldn’t be in due to illness, but actually use vacation time or personal time. Why would I want to do that? Partly because the accrual cap for sick leave is much higher than the caps for other types of leave, but mostly because of retirement benefits based on the amount of accrued sick leave I have when I retire. I won’t get those benefits based on other types of leave , so retiring with as much sick leave as I can is to my benefit – but that means requiring me to take sick leave when I’m sick is to my employer’s benefit.

      2. H.C.*

        It depends if the accrual, max limit & payout policies for those different kinds of leave. At my OldJob, vacation days has a higher max limit & is paid out upon separation from service, whereas sick days is 10 “use ’em or lose ’em” for the year and is not paid out – so I can see HR/employer’s quibble about an employee trying to convert some vacation days to sick days after the time off – which would have an actual cost if/when the employee leaves (but yeah, this system also leaves it open for a lot of leave gaming by my colleagues, particularly during that work week between Xmas & New Year’s).

        1. Bea W*

          In my state by law unused accrued vacation days need to be paid out when the employee leaves. Sick days and personal days do not have to be paid out. In that case it matters to the company. I think it’s a bit petty the way some employers manipulate this to their advantage, particularly when we’re talking 5 sick days vs. 21 vacation days or 1 weather closure vs. 21 vacation days, but maybe in a very large company that translates to a heap ton of cash.

          My company gets around this potential payout with a strict use-it-or-lose-it policy on vacation time. We can no longer roll over unused time to the next year. You either use it by Dec 31 or they’re gone forever. :/

            1. hermit crab*

              I guess it’s just a different kind of PTO. Our leave time is divided between sick days, vacation, holidays, and personal days. The vacation time gets rolled over/cashed out, but the others are use-or-lose. The personal days are treated exactly like holidays, except they aren’t tied to specific days. People also refer to them as “floating holidays.”

              (But we never, ever, ever get “free” time off… Even when there is a blizzard, or when the office is moving to a new location, or when the whole town had a power outage, or when we were required to evacuate the building due to a minor earthquake. You either make up the time or take some kind of PTO, full stop.)

            2. doreen*

              I’m sure it’s different at different places, but in my case, I don’t accrue personal days over the course of a year the way I accrue vacation. I was given five personal days on the day I was hired – lets say it was January 11. At the end of the day on Jan 10 of the next year, whatever personal days remain are wiped out, and I am credited with five new days of personal leave on January 11.

            3. Perse's Mom*

              At OldJob, vacation was scheduled in advance and had to be approved. Personal days were for short-notice-but-not-sick – I think the one time I used half a personal day was when I had short notice on the cable company being able to move up my appointment.

        2. LawCat*

          I still don’t get it. Why offer sick time if employees can’t use it when they’re sick? Don’t offer sick leave if it’s a sham benefit. They don’t want leave vacation liability on the books? Then don’t offer vacation time. Or cap vacation time. The answer is not to deny employees the sick leave when they’re sick.

          This kind of nonsense would definitely put a tickle in my mind that maybe I could do better elsewhere.

    3. Caro in the UK*

      That’s interesting. Because my company operates almost exactly the opposite policy. One year I had a two week vacation booked, but was sick for three days before it. My boss very clearly said to me to make a note of when I was actually better; if I felt on the first day of my vacation that I would have been well enough to come into work, then no problem, nothing needed to change. But if I was still ill, until say the 4th day of my vacation, to let him know and he’d give me those vacation days back and switch them to sick days.

      And if I’d unexpectedly ended up doing work doing some work on a day off (which did happen occasionally) he’d make sure that I got paid for that and got my PTO back.

      I never really considered that it would be any other way to be honest, it’s such a morale killer to treat employees badly on PTO that it seems like a no-brainer to be fair about it. This is in the UK though (hence my name!) where PTO policies seem to be a bit more generous.

      1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)*

        Yeah, it’s a standard policy here in the UK that if you end up being ill on booked days off, you can log those days as sick and reclaim the holiday days.

        I think it’s because our allowances of both holiday and sick days are considerably more generous and thus we don’t tend to think of sick days as a benefit to take advantage of in the way people in the US often seem to. I certainly take advantage of all my days of annual holiday, but since paid sick leave is often 3months+ the cultural norm is that you only use sick leave if you are genuinely too sick to work. If I wasn’t sick in a given year, I would take 0 sick days and not feel I’d lost anything, not least because I have 25 days paid annual leave + bank holidays to use when I need time off.

        1. Elfie*

          Yeah, I got confused about using all your sick leave up in a year, because (also in the UK) for me, that would currently mean getting 3 months paid off this year, 4 next year, etc, etc. My husband has enough service with his company that he gets 2 years!!!! paid sick time (the only thing about his dysfunctional company that’s any good). And also booking things like medical appointments on a sick day – we’re allowed time off for medical appointments anyway (I’m not sure if this is law, or just very common company policy).

    4. Mookie*

      But those situations aren’t analogous with the OP’s. What you’re describing is the systematic abuse of grey lines. There’s nothing to stop any company for developing complete PTO guidelines that prevent what you’re describing above but readily accommodate someone like the OP. Tightening up enforcement doesn’t need to be morale-busting, and it sounds like that’s exactly what’s going on in your company.

    5. Isabelle*

      Here we do get our leave days back if we were sick during our time off. I’ve never used it myself but it’s good to know that it’s there if I ever need it.
      The process is different from regular sick days, it requires a doctor’s note whereas with normal sick days you just report yourself sick.

    6. Snowflake Rising*

      The way to handle those situations is through good management, not a blanket policy that disadvantages people in situations like the OP’s. These people don’t ruin it for anyone unless a poor manager accepts these claims as valid. You get to set boundaries about how these things are handled.

      1. Zombii*

        Seriously. “These people ruin it for everybody.” = “Management would rather make rules that ruin it for everybody than actually do their jobs by managing these people.”

    7. CM*

      Every company I have worked for has had a policy that if you have a pre-scheduled PTO day, that time counts as PTO even if it turns out for some other reason you would not have had to work that day (weather emergency, power outage, what have you). That always made sense to me, although it’s nice if you get the PTO back on a day when the office is otherwise closed. I didn’t realize there were so many places that would not make you take PTO for days like that.

    8. Artemesia*

      Seriously? The definition of bad management is needing rigid rules so as not to make actual decisions. This is classic ‘zero tolerance’ nonsense. A day EVERYONE got off except the person who had scheduled vacation is not at all like any of these other situations except to someone who doesn’t want to have to manage.

      1. The Rat-Catcher*

        “The definition of bad management is needing rigid rules so as not to make actual decisions.”

        This. Blew. My. Mind.
        Be back later; I have to think through how this applies at every job I’ve ever had.

  11. LawCat*

    #1, the whole thing is just bizarre. The trial week thing, the caginess about pay, the lack of organization, and the hastiness… that’s a lot of red flags. I’d have been incredibly turned off by not getting more than 2 mins with the manager and probably would have been done with them at that point absent some serious apology and effort to be highly accommodating with a reschedule.

    #1, if they can’t respect your time for an interview, and can’t behave normally about making an offer, I doubt they’re worth further effort on your part. If this is how they treat someone they’re trying to recruit when they’re supposed to be putting their best foot forward , I can’t imagine how they treat employees.

    1. Che*

      I agree with you. I felt like, if I did accept the job, they could back me into the corner and offer me a lower salary. Then, I’d end up quitting or stay with them until I find another job. I’d rather put my time and effort into a company that will care about what I’m looking for and vice versa.

  12. Observer*

    #5 – There are actually 2 questions here. One is whether they can take the money out of your paycheck. The other is whether they can charge you without taking it out of your paycheck.

    1. kewlm0m*

      I actually had a third question: how is the company showing these payments on their books? Are they taking as a business expense the entire amount paid to these vendors including the late fees? I have to assume that if they’re docking the employees for the late fees, the employees aren’t actually paying the vendors directly, the company is. So I guess that would mean that the payments docked from the employees’ salaries would actually represent income to the company, which hopefully the company is declaring on its tax returns.

  13. KR*

    I have business travel coming up to the east coast and I’m feeling so grateful that my company is giving me a full day to get from coast to coast, the night to get settled in at the hotel, and beginning work the next day. I would definitely push back, OP. What you’re asking for is not unreasonable.

  14. Ribiko*

    #4 – I totally get where you’re coming from, but your relationship with this person is not one (yet) in which it would be appropriate to point this out to them.

    That said, I have been spending a lot of time on LinkedIn recently to recruit as my company is hiring, and seeing typos in people’s profiles and even headlines is very off-putting! Particularly since attention to detail in written communication is a big part of our work. PSA: Check over your LinkedIn profile carefully, as you would with your resume!

  15. MommyMD*

    You lost me at your interview was two minutes.

    That’s barely enough time to exchange names let alone a company to offer you a position.

    Shade city.

  16. MommyMD*

    You will come across as the weird grammar police if you mention you proofread her LI profile. It cannot do you any good and may make you appear nitpicking and rigid.

    1. Jen RO*

      I work in a field where attention to detail and copyediting are extremely important… and spellchecking a stranger’s LI profile would still be weeeeird.

      1. Artemesia*

        This would get an applicant in a ‘never hire’ list so fast their head would spin. Imagine having an employee who had zero boundaries like this working for you?

      2. oranges & lemons*

        Yeah, I work in publishing and we sometimes get strangers emailing to let us know about a mistake they found in one of our books. Uh, thanks, I guess? What’s particularly odd is when they feel that we owe them a job because they found a mistake our proofreader didn’t. Sure, and what about the 3 billion mistakes the proofreader did find?

    2. Emi.*

      I don’t think nitpicking is the issue. Copyediting is nitpicking, in a way, and it’s one of the forces that holds the universe together. The issue is that unsolicited editing of other people’s LI pages is socially and professionally weird and awkward. It doesn’t make you look rigid; it just makes you look out of touch.

      1. MommyMD*

        It does make you look weird, rigid, nit picky, unaware of norms and professional boundaries to worry so much about another person’s LI profile to the point of wanting to go great lengths to correct it. I would pass on this employee. It’s not a professional brochure going out.

        1. Emi.*

          Right–I’m saying that the issue is copy-editing in inappropriate contexts. I don’t see what that has to do with rigidity. “Don’t do that, it’s too rigid” sounds like “Whatever, a few commas here and there don’t matter,” as opposed to “Stay in your lane, dude,” which is the real problem.

    3. Dang*

      Yeah, this strikes me as a bizarre thing to do. I think OP has good intentions but would be wise to leave it alone.. even if hired.

    4. CM*

      Plus, unless I’m reading the question wrong, the OP is the candidate, not the hiring manager. It’s way out of line for a candidate to be offering LinkedIn advice unsolicited.

  17. rudster*

    Paying the snow day seems like a no-brainer for the company. Surely, if the employee had to cancel the planned vacation day or switch it for any other reason, they would be allowed to do so.

  18. rudster*

    There are businesses that actually PAY late fees? As a freelancer, I’m pretty sure that if I sent an invoice to an agency client with a line item for “late fees”, they’d probably get a good laugh passing it around the office before hanging it up on the bulletin board for darts practice! Foruntately, I don’t really have many problems with late-paying clients.

  19. hbc*

    OP1: There’s some decent logic behind their plan, if I understand it correctly. They’re willing to pay between, say $15 and $17/hour for the role, and where you fall in that range depends on how good you are. So they’ll let you work for a week and then put you somewhere in that range, where you’ve proven you belong. Cool, right?

    No. Because it’s totally outside the norm. Because they should at least put the minimum in writing–even if they have no intention of stiffing you and giving you $13, anyone who is thinking at all about the candidate/employee has to know that *you* don’t know that. Because you might not take $15 and you would have wasted a week–or given notice at a decent job. Because someone who decides to hire based on a 2 minute impression doesn’t strike me as a solid bet for being a good judge of how much you’re actually worth. Because a company that plays games with money like this is guaranteed to have other fun financial surprises (I’m looking at you, OP5’s company.)

    1. Mookie*

      That’s a good point. Even though I abhor their “offer” here, for this company to be operating in good faith they need to acknowledge in writing the going rate in your industry for the position at hand and be prepared to pay that as a bare minimum for the week worked. And I’d be very careful of what projects I tackled that week and how much “training” I was getting (versus being used as an unwilling and non-consenting temp they’ve no intention of hiring).

  20. AdAgencyChick*

    #2, your clients suck. That’s all I got. Not sure whether you’re in advertising as well, but I have yet to see an agency EVER dare to ask a client to reschedule a meeting simply because the time requires some kind of insane accommodation by the agency employees.

    Once or twice I’ve worked for a client who has apologized to the agency for setting a meeting at an obnoxious time, but they keep the meeting at that time anyway, because they care more about the schedules of the client-side bigwigs who are invited to the meeting than whether we sleep.

    I wish you good luck pushing back, and if you have any success doing so, PLEASE send an update!

  21. Kiwi*

    #4, I employ writers, so I care about grammar etc. But if someone I interviewed sent in corrections to my linkedin profile, I’d rule them out instantly. It’d make me worry that they’d be too critical when working with other people. Don’t do it.

    1. Naruto*

      Right, and it’s just… inappropriate. Why do you care? It’s not your job to fix this for them. It’s a really weird thing to go around randomly correcting errors that aren’t yours to fix.

  22. Long time listener, First time caller*

    I used to work in acct’g in Florida and as for paying late, my boss would call the vendor and negotiate no late fees. We always stamped receipt date and paid about every 2 weeks. This was never a problem. She hated it when companies owing us paid late without paying late fees, but, that’s another matter. In fact, at one point we sent a letter explaining to all vendors that we didn’t pay late fees, and got very little pushback. This makes your company look vindictive, or, like amateur hour. Negotiate!

  23. Legalchef*

    Re #3, I was just in the same position. My office is still making me use the vacation day, which stinks. My old office did the same, however, so I guess it is pretty common. I can see both sides of it, I suppose – on the one hand, you were planning on using the vacation day regardless. On the other, everyone else got a free day off so you should too!

    1. Bea W*

      It’s not always a free day off – well technically it is, but that’s not always a good thing. Everyone who planned to work lost a full day of productivity, and when you have deadlines to meet or have to quickly cancel and reschedule meetings and other work-related things, it can be more of an hassle than its worth.

    2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      I fall on the side of curmudgeons on this one. What senior management at Wakeen’s goes through in order to get to a “shut the office” on a snow day is pretty much a hellscape.

      We’re a sales driven company with customers across the US. We can never completely shut down, so there’s strategy planning (sometimes throughout the night) of what services we can offer and how, as everybody is counting the snowflake ratio coming down vs the snowflake ratio predicted. We can keep the phones and internet communications running through some folks working from home. If we go to building shutdown, maybe 70% of people get “the day off”, while the other 30% are keeping the show running as much as possible without the other services (like shipments from our facility) being available.

      If we go to building shutdown: nobody is charged PTO, all hourly people are paid as if they worked a full day. All of this despite drastically reduced revenues for the day, and a chunk of other people busting ass to keep customers happy.

      In the midst of that, if somebody who is on the beach in Florida is wondering if they can have a PTO day back? Well I don’t think anybody ever asked. :-)

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        Personally, I’d set the rule that if the PTO day was part of a contiguous batch (e.g. it snows Wednesday on the week you took off to go to Florida), you don’t get it back, which takes care of your “beach” example, but if the day was a one-off, it’s fair to assume that whatever plans they had for it were ruined as they shoveled snow with everyone else, and they should get that day back.

        1. JB (not in Houston)*

          That seems fair to me. People don’t only take vacation days to leave for vacation. I often take a random vacation day on a Friday to run errands or visit a family member because my employer doesn’t like me to accrue too much vacation, but I’m so busy that I can rarely take a full week off at a time. If I took a day off to visit a relative or run errands, if the weather is bad enough to close the office, it would be bad enough to cancel my plans as well. I would understand a policy that wouldn’t give me back my vacation day, but at the same time, it would feel a little unfair.

          Of course, it’s a moot point for me because my employer is pretty flexible about how I use my days, and they wouldn’t make me use a PTO day for a day we were closed.

        2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          Yeah, I mean in the scenario below, someone takes a day off for dr’s appointments they can’t go to, I can’t imagine not refunding them the day. Curmudgeon doesn’t equal heartless. :-)

          Someone on vacation elsewhere/on a vacation week? I think it’s petty to ask (at Wakeen’s) when there’s been 0 disruption or loss. Do the part time people who work MTW get a free vacation day because TH is a snow day? That would be tone deaf to ask. Closing for snow is a Big Emergency at Wakeen’s that costs us money and we try to make sure all of the employees don’t miss income from the day.

          Not for nothing but the people who do end up getting the “free” day had to spend all the night before preparing as if they weren’t, and being ready to leave until closure is called. That’s not the same as having a vacation day, even if it plays out like one for some people.

    3. jordanjay29*

      were planning on using the vacation day regardless

      I guess the downside to that is unless you were planning to spend the day at home, you really can’t use the vacation day as you planned. I guess there are exceptions, like if your city cleans up storms very quickly and you can salvage whatever plans you had for the afternoon, or you were taking a Monday/Friday off for a long weekend out of town and can escape before the storm or arrive in the aftermath. But a mid-week day and you’re all but screwed out of the plans made.

      1. ggf*

        That exact situation came up at my work recently. An employee had requested a day off that wound up being a snow day for the rest of the office. But the employee requested the day for a series of medical appointments that all wound up being cancelled because of the storm. So they asked for it to not count against their PTO, and our boss agreed.

        1. legalchef*

          I think in that situation it was definitely the right thing to not have it count against PTO, especially since presumably those appts will be rescheduled for another day. In my case, I was already out of town when the snow hit.

          1. Anonymous 40*

            And that’s really why it should be the blanket policy to not charge anyone’s PTO for the snow day. Rather than making someone in ggf’s coworker’s situation tell their boss about their medical tests, just assume that anyone on PTO also had their day disrupted by the snow and give them the day back. It’s much better than having to judge whether each person’s reason was “good enough” or not. Builds employee goodwill, helps morale (or is at least morale-neutral), avoids resentments over who got days back and who didn’t. Unless half the office was scheduled for PTO, it’s a small price to pay for avoiding hassle and drama that could add to the already lost productivity from the snow day.

            That said, I’m pretty sure my employer took the other tack on our last snow day – if you were scheduled for PTO, you still took PTO.

  24. Bea W*

    #3 – It sucks, but on the one hand I can see where it seem (or just be) unfair to everyone else who had planned to work if people are refunded PTO on account of weather and other uncontrollable events that close the office. The key difference between everyone else and someone who has planned PTO in advance, is that everyone else had planned to come to work that day, and would have been in the office working but for the unplanned closure. You would have had the day off whether the office had been open or closed. The office closure was not disruptive to your plans to come to work that day in the same way it was to everyone else. The closure did not cause the loss of your potential productivity on that day, because you had already not planned to work. Why should people who had not planned to work at all that day get a freebie the same as everyone who would have been working?

    1. Caro in the UK*

      Because no matter what was planned, everyone actually put in the same amount of work (zero)?

      There seem to be two very different schools of thought on this. I’m definitely on the side which says why nickle and dime your employees when the only tangible effect that I can see of refusing to refund PTO is a drop in morale? It just seems really unnecessary.

      1. Anonymous 40*

        Not to mention dealing with discussions/debates, drama, and potential resentment increases the snow day’s impact on productivity. Employers need to take that into consideration – is the priority to move past the snow day as quickly as possible? Or is to save the money of the extra PTO day? I can see how financially challenged companies might choose the second, but it seems like the first would be the priority for most.

    2. JB (not in Houston)*

      Because you had presumably planned to do something with your PTO day that you now cannot do? And there’s a good chance that whatever you were planning to do that day will have to be rescheduled for another day, requiring you to take another PTO day? I can see an argument for not giving the day back–the reasons that Alison mentioned of the person requesting the day knowing ahead of time that they have the day off. But I don’t think the strongest argument is that it’s not fair that other people were going to have to work that day while you got the day off. You have to work most days, regardless of what other people are doing, and that’s not unfair.

  25. Recruit-o-Rama*

    I’m not sure I understand number 2. It SOUNDS like the clients are requiring you to fly the red eye and not get any sleep. I can see where you might have an unreasonable client or so, but that doesn’t sound like something normal businesses would expect.

    I travel a LOT for work; I live in the Pacofic time zone and my facilities exist in all of the time zones across the country so I live the jet lag life. I have a few thoughts.

    1. You mention that you have asked ONE client to accommodate and they brushed you off. Ask more of them.

    2. You said that your clients won’t pay for travel the day before, but that doesn’t mean your employer can’t or won’t pay for it as a business cost.

    3. When you accept a job that requires cross time zone travel, there is a certain amount of “suck it up” that you just kind of get used to.

    4. Like any other business meeting; you give the other party your availability and then they give you their availability and then you agree on a time. Why is the scheduling so one sided? This seems more like a scheduling issue than a travel accommodation issue.

    5. Negotiate travel policies and expenses at the beginning of the business relationship.

    I wish OP would come back and clarify the red eye issue.

  26. Murphy*

    If we close for weather (and can’t work from home) we still have to use PTO or make up the time within a certain time period, so we’d never get a “free” day off.

  27. ilikeaskamanager*

    #1- this is ridiculous. They could easily offer you a starting salary, with a commitment IN WRITING to review you at 90 days and that you would be eligible for an increase of up to X amount based on specific performance criteria, also spelled out IN WRITING. That’s an acceptable industry practice. What they are suggesting is not.

    1. Che*

      Yes, that’s what I was expecting since they supposedly offered me a letter. I was confused as to why they would take it back and say otherwise. From that point, I became cautious of the company and wanted to move on.

  28. Camellia*

    #3 – Every company I’ve ever worked for as a salaried employee did NOT refund vacation days if it turns out the office is closed for any reason. I don’t really think it’s fair, either, but that’s just the way it is and is clearly stated in the handbook as such.

  29. Temperance*

    LW4: do not do this. Do not contact the interviewer’s assistant. Do not alert the interviewer. It’s going to make you look like you’re trying to “best” the interviewer, and you’re going to come off badly. Be like Elsa, let it go.

    1. Cass*

      Agreed. I could see myself having these thoughts of wanting to be helpful and save my colleague any potential embarrassment. In my head I’d equate it to discreetly telling a colleague that he has a piece of lettuce stuck in his teeth, but I can’t imagine any scenario where the director would appreciate being told about typos on her LinkedIn page from someone she just met.

  30. Anna*

    I know that my company has an explicit policy regarding emergency closings and vacation times (and it falls on the side of you have to use your vacation day anyway, even if there is an emergency closing, if you had already scheduled it).

    So, maybe your company has an official policy somewhere in the annals of policy. But also, it is not unheard of to not give back that vacation day.

    And, in fact, I know of companies who close the office but require their employees to use a day of PTO to cover it!

  31. Cass*

    This company sounds really dysfunctional, OP. Ignoring all of the other red flags that this company is throwing up there’s no way that they can draw a reasonable conclusion of what you’d be like to work with from a two minute conversation. And what about you? It doesn’t sound like you had the chance to ask any questions since you weren’t able to talk more about the salary. I might consider going to the second interview and seeing what comes of it, but I’d be cautious about moving forward. You said that “they aren’t giving me the chance to decide whether or not I want the job without having the ‘offer letter’.” Unless you absolutely need this job, be sure that you have the chance to answer that for yourself before accepting any offer.

    1. Che*

      I declined another interview with them and moved on. Luckily, with my situation I have time to look for another job. I couldn’t work with a company who wanted to, knowingly, test my job abilities to see if I deserved the pay I was looking for. There are probation periods or temp agencies to see if you fit well with the company before they want to permanently keep or hire you. Yet, I’ve always been offered a starting pay before accepting a job in those situtations.

      1. Czhorat*

        Wise, and I’m glad you could afford to make the prudent choice.

        A probationary period is normal. Not stating the compensation up front is not.

  32. K.*

    #1: I once interviewed somewhere where they wanted me to work for free for a week as part of the hiring process. I declined because … of course I did. They declined to move further with me. I consider it a bullet dodged. Run from this company and feel good about it.

    Also, no decent hiring manager should make a decision after a two-minute interview. The whole thing is screaming sketchiness.

    1. Che*

      I was beginning to wonder if this was a new or known hiring practice that companies use to weed out the less desirable employees. It made me think twice about being involved with a company like this. I’d rather know what I’m getting into instead of going in blindly.

  33. La Revancha del Tango*

    #5 – I would tell the vendor you’re not going to pay late fees. I work with invoice processing and when there is more than one person involved there are times that a payment will be late. I’ve never seen a late fee tacked onto an invoice for a vendor.

  34. Agile Phalanges*

    #1 Wow, yeah, this is crazy. It’s totally understandable for an employer to be desperate for a new employee to start right away. When I was hired into my current job, they needed me to start right away because my predecessor had been fired abruptly (for totally valid reasons), and they were paying their CPA firm at their hourly billing rate to maintain things like payroll, AP, and AR at a minimum level (tiny company, no one else knew how or had access to do those things). The CPA also was leaving town soon and NEEDED to train me on payroll so I could run it independently (yes, I had one payroll cycle to be trained, and then was on my own with no contact to be able to call–it was awesome).

    Luckily for both them and me, while I was currently employed and needed to give notice, I was also toward the end of a layoff with six months notice, so a lot of my work had been wrapped up, and I was able to negotiate a “couple days here, couple days there” schedule with both employers. So I started at the new employer right away to train with the CPA and got payroll done, went back to my old company for a few days to wrap things up, attend meetings, etc., then back to the new employer to run payroll the next week, etc., for a couple of weeks. It actually worked out great for both employers and for me.

    However, as big a hurry as they were in, they did tell me what the pay was. My boss was old school and apparently hadn’t heard of an offer letter (his word and a handshake were his default), but when I asked for one, he wrote one up and sent it over. So this employer is nuts, and I would run.

  35. Grey*

    #3: I think it’s a reasonable policy. The company closed the office so the people scheduled to work wouldn’t have to commute. It was a courtesy only for everyone who had to come in that day. If you didn’t have to be there, and you weren’t going to be there, why should you get paid for it?

    1. LBK*

      But on the flipside, if the weather is so bad that the office is closed, presumably you also can’t do whatever it is you planned to do with your vacation day, unless it was a staycation. Why should your coworkers get a freebie day while you have to pay a day of PTO if you’re both just going to be sitting at home trapped by the snow?

      I don’t think logically either side is necessarily a better argument, so the tiebreaker is what’s best for morale; by that measure, I think it’s better for morale to be generous with PTO and not stingy about technicalities.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes. And this is someone asking what policy she should use, not how to defend a policy that’s already in place. Why shouldn’t we encourage her to go with the kinder option, rather than pushing her toward a more rigid one? It’s one thing to explain why some companies do have the more rigid policy, but this is someone who’s open to doing either.

        1. Grey*

          Yes. I’d refund the PTO too. But if I were the employee here, I wouldn’t argue if they didn’t. I can see both sides of it.

  36. JeanB*

    I’ve done Accounts Payable for upwards of 30 years and I have never had to pay any late fees. I mean, various companies have said “do not pay late fees to the vendor” which is always fun, but I’ve never even heard about the A/P person being responsible for the fees. That’s crazy talk.

  37. Stephanie (HR Manager)*

    #1 – the way I see this going is the manager, mid-hiring, has a “great” idea on how to “innovate” the hiring process. HR blinks and says (in a politically correct way) what a terrible idea it is, but they were too subtle, ultimately overridden, and had to go back to the candidate and try not to sound like an idiot. (This could also have happened with the roles reversed, to be fair.) Run. As fast as you can.

    1. Che*

      Yes, for some reason that’s the impression I got from their HR personnel (I met with two of them, at different times). But it felt more like – “You want me to say what? Ok”. Calls me up. “Oops, did I tell the wrong person the wrong information?” After that, nothing made sense.

      1. Stephanie (HR Manager)*

        Yeah, whichever way it goes, it tells you that the person making the bad decisions is the one in power, and the rational ones aren’t able to fully (if at all) reign them in.

  38. Stephanie (HR Manager)*

    #3 – There IS actually a cost to refunding them the vacation day (probably.) If your company pays out PTO or vacation time upon separation, the cost is one day of salary for that person. While the cost is relatively low, your CFO keeps track of that balance and has to be able to pay that out any given time should they leave, and is considered in the total budget. It becomes a cost-benefit analysis as to whether or not you refund the day; someone has to make that call and set it down in policy so that you don’t turn around and do the opposite for someone else and end up with unfairness and a potential lawsuit on your hands if you do it differently for people in a protected class.

  39. paul*

    The flight OP makes me *so* glad I’m in Central Time, so it’s never more than a two hour difference for me. Yikes.

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

    Op1: In my experience, “we won’t tell you what the pay is until after you’ve worked for a while” means either “the pay is really low, like maybe illegally low, and you’ll have to hound us to get a check at all” or “Pay? Haha this is actually an unpaid internship, who ever said anything about pay?” There are shady small businesses that operate that way, and you don’t want to waste time and effort working for them.

  41. Lola*

    7 AM business meeting? What is this — time to make the donuts??? Most people I know professionally would raise an eyebrow at any meeting starting before 9 AM.

    1. mirinotginger*

      Haha. I have three days a week where I have a 6:30 meeting, and it isn’t uncommon for people at my office to be at work by 5 or 5:30. All the way up to the executive level. Such is life at a huge multi-national company in the PNW

      1. Bellatrix*

        It just sounds crazy :D It takes me about an hour to get ready in the morning and my commute is some twenty minutes (and public transit, which runs really shabbily at that time), so to be at work at 5, I’d be getting up at 3.30. That’s not morning, it’s the middle of the night!

        And I don’t even need to take care of things like childcare.

  42. OP2*

    Hi, thanks for the helpful conversation about this and I’m glad to see some others feel my pain.

    Some clarifications:
    – Sometimes we take a redeye, but more often we arrive the evening before. But it’s very, very difficult to fall asleep at a decent hour since my body is still on Pacific time.
    – We use video conferencing a lot, but it isn’t suitable for every meeting, and it’s true, there are some instances that really do require face-to-face — even if only an hour-long meeting.
    – I personally don’t consume caffeine so unfortunately I can’t find any relief in coffee or energy drink form!

    To the person who said we’re adults, not kids, that’s even more reason to expect quality rest. There are mountains of studies that show adequate sleep is critical to clear thinking. I understand some people claim to get by on only a few hours, but every study I’ve read, plus my own experience, tells me I need 8 hours or more. That’s almost impossible to get with such an abrupt time zone shift and an early-morning meeting.

    I’ll be pushing back and asking the rest of my team to do the same. My hopes aren’t high (the worst offending client likes to work 24/7), but we’ll see!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When you push back, don’t present it as a request; present it matter-of-factly as just the way things are.

      Bad: “Could we start at 10 a.m. or later since we’ll be on west coast time?”

      Good: “We can start any time from 10 a.m. onward.”

    2. Naruto*

      Does the client have a real business reason they need to start at 7 am? Because even putting aside the time zone issues you face (which are real! and important!), that is awfully early for a business meeting to start.

    3. Chickaletta*

      Are most of your clients on the east coast? If they are, have you considered adjusting your regular sleep cycle and working hours to align with the east coast? Although I’ve never had to do that myself, I know of a couple people here on MST who start work at 6am to be “at work” the same time as their coworkers/clients are on the east coast. The one piece of silver lining to that is that their work day ends at 3pm so they have more hours of daylight for free time than the rest of us. They also tend to be early risers anyway so they’re not bothered too much by it.

      1. Kyrielle*

        And for what it’s worth, I’m on the west coast and arrive at work near 6 am. I was a night owl, and it took some effort to shift my schedule – but once I got used to it, I wasn’t bothered by it any more either. (I was strongly motivated because it’s good for our overall schedule as a family, though – and not everyone’s body will adapt at the same rate – so this is not an “it will work for you because it worked for me” – but “and if you’re not a morning lark naturally, it may still work for you, depending”).

      2. OP2*

        I wouldn’t mind doing that, but in our company culture, nobody goes home until 6:30 or 7 pm on a usual night. Even if I showed up at 5 am, a lot of meetings would happen after 3 or 4 pm, and my entire team would still be there at 6, so I couldn’t really go home early.

        1. Chickaletta*

          Oh that’s killer. It might be time for a talk with management or something about the kinds of hours you’re keeping for your job. 7am on the east coast to 7pm on the west coast (even if it’s not in the same day) is very, very long. But you know that already.

  43. OP2*

    p.s. Sometimes the meetings start at 9 am… but even that is 6 am in my body, which is a good two hours before I usually wake up!

    1. for sure*

      My fiance is the same way. One of his work travel tricks is to try to wake up an hour or so earlier than normal on the couple days before a work trip that has an earlier meeting, both to help get him used to the earlier wake up and to make him slightly more tired and ready for bed. I don’t know if it’s more of a mental thing for him or if it actually does help his body make the shift. Not sure if that would be helpful for you – west to east coast is such a big time swing!

    2. Marty*

      Another trick, every morning when you wake up earlier than normal, make sure to spend 5 minutes in front of a bright light first thing. Back when I had a job that started at 6 am, that (and tea) were the only reasons that I was functional. (Given that I am *really* a night owl, I even need that to function at 9 am. Wake-up lights are wonderful.)

  44. Malibu Stacey*

    I’ve been an admin a pretty long time and I think that as misguided as emailing the director would be here, emailing the admin would be even worse. Alison is correct that admin’s usually don’t manage LI profiles for the people they support so most admins I know would either find the email very presumptuous, hilariously out of touch, or some combo of both. If I were the admin it would mean you getting off on an at-best awkward foot with me and I’d definitely tell the Hiring Manager about it.

  45. Che*

    Thanks to everyone who responded to my situation (#1). I appreciate all the advice and comments. This was my first time writing on AskAManager and grateful to have been able to share my experience. I’m glad I found this site. I hope others can learn from this as much as I have.

  46. Momonga*

    “4. Should I alert my interviewer to mistakes in her LinkedIn profile?”

    No, no, a million times no.

  47. mdv*

    #4 – I’m actually the type who would probably say it, but I wouldn’t do it before an interview. Maybe later, look at it again, and then it would have to be something like, “Hey, by the way, when I looked at your LI profile, I noticed a typo (“X”), just wanted to let you know, in case that is something that matters to you!”

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