client keeps saying “I love you,” can I get reimbursed for a doctor’s note, and more

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

1. Can I get reimbursed for having to get a doctor’s note?

So, I know the answer is probably going to be no, but I’m wondering if I could ask to be compensated for the cost of a doctor’s note?

I work retail where traditionally people can be a little dishonest for calling out “sick.” We’ve had issues recently with a few employees doing this. I’m in a management type position (though not the full on manager) so there are stricter rules for when I can call out. I am a very honest person and will only call out on the days I’m legitimately sick. This is usually two or three times of year, usually during cold and flu seasons. I have never called out when I wasn’t actually sick.

Today my manager had to tell the district manager – who I am quite close with and would absolutely believe me if I told her I was sick – that I couldn’t come in. She told the DM because they were supposed to go on a business trip tomorrow (to a town about an hour away) and needed to inform the DM that she might have to skip the trip tomorrow so she could cover my shift. The DM asked me to provide a doctor’s note.

I obtained said note, and it ended up being $40. We don’t get paid sick days, so I’m at a loss when I call out. So not only have I lost a day’s wage from being sick, I’ve also lost $40. I only have a cold that I need one more day to kick, so it’s not really worthy of going to the doctor. Would it be out of line to ask to be compensated for the doctor’s note?

I’d love it if everyone started doing that, and if companies were forced to bear the costs themselves of this ridiculous policy. And to be clear: It’s ridiculous. Colds and flus don’t generally require a doctor’s care, and requiring a doctor’s note discourages people from staying home when they’re sick, is an unfair burden (who wants to drag themselves to a doctor when a few days of resting in bed will cure them?), drives up health care costs by pushing people to the doctor when they only need home care, and says “we don’t trust you and won’t treat you like adults.” That’s why this doctor and this doctor are heroes.

And yes, I do think you could legitimately say to your employer, “I was charged $40 to get a the note you required. I’d like to submit that for reimbursement since I only went to the doctor because you required it; otherwise I would have stayed in bed to rest.” They may or may not agree, but you wouldn’t be out of line to frame it that way.

2. Client keeps saying “I love you”

I work for a staffing agency, and I’m used to our employees being effusive and grateful when we’re able to find them work, whether it’s short or long term. I enjoy helping people find employment and knowing that I am making a positive difference in their lives.

That being said, I’ve recently had an employee (male who appears to be in his 50s) saying “I love you” almost every time I speak with him on the phone and it’s making me (female who appears to be late 20s/30s) a little uncomfortable. He’s not saying it in a romantic way or making other inappropriate comments, so I think he is just genuinely grateful that we’re getting him work. (It’s basically like “thank you so much for getting me this job, I love you.”)

Right now, I simply ignore it when he makes those comments and redirect the conversation to something work-related, but I’m wondering if it would be worth it to address the comments and, if so, how you suggest doing so.

For additional context, he’s a labor guy and I think simply out of touch with professional norms. For instance, he was so happy when we got him a long-term assignment that he said he wanted to take our entire staff out to dinner when he got his first paycheck as a thank-you (which we obviously told him was not necessary).

It sounds like he’s just being really effusive and not realizing that that’s not quite a professional way to do it.

The next time he says it, you could try saying something like “No need for any declarations of love! It’s our job to place good people in jobs.” Or, “You’re very kind to be so appreciative, but no professions of love are needed.” If you do that a few times, he might get the hint.

Or you could be more direct about it, but if he’s genuinely just overflowing with gratitude, I hate to slap him down for it unless you’re feeling creeped out, which doesn’t sound like the case. (If you were, though, you could say, “I’m glad you’re happy in the job, but I have to be frank that the I-love-you’s are making me uncomfortable. I know you’re a nice guy and wouldn’t want that.”)

3. Recognizing someone’s great work on a project they hated

How do I recognize and congratulate a direct report on a fantastic job done on a part of their work that they hate? Everyone has parts of their job that aren’t their favorite and you just do that part and move on. However….

A direct report, Karen, has consistently complained about a certain responsibility that she doesn’t like and doesn’t want to do. Of note, this responsibility comes up only once or twice a year. She has complained to me, to my boss (indicating that I have dumped my work on her in an effort to not have to do it myself), to coworkers, etc. and had made the work environment a bit toxic because of her negativity towards the thought of even having to do this work component. Our director and I have made it very clear to Karen that this is indeed part of her job, she must do this work, and as a senior member of our team she is expected to do this work without bringing the team down.

Fast forward to now, and Karen has completed the task quite beautifully. In fact, better than it has ever done it in the past.

I would like to recognize the quality of the work to her. In fact, I would like to publicly recognize it at a team meeting with our director present, but wonder if more recognition of work she doesn’t like will make it worse. Is a private discussion better than a public recognition of her fantastic work?

Given how toxic she’s been about it, I think recognizing her for it publicly might pour fuel on the fire. Instead, I’d just mention it to her privately and say something like, “I really appreciate the great job you did on the rice sculpture of Grover Cleveland. It’s beautiful, and using Himalayan red rice for the mustache was an inspired choice. I know that it’s not a project you were thrilled to take on, so I’m especially grateful for the time and thought that you put into it.” (The exception to this is if it was high-profile enough that not recognizing her publicly would seem like a slight.)

4. New emails vs. replying to an existing email chain

I wonder if I’m thinking too much about the small things, but during a job search where I’m sending and receiving emails from potential employers, should I be using the same thread of email, or should I do a new mail each time?

For specific context: I received an email from hr with direction to the interview place and instructions to submit the attached application via email. I replied with thanks for considering me and attached the needed documents with the email. After the interview, two days later, I sent a thank you email to the HR, as I was told all communications was to be made through them, and I thanked HR for setting up the interview and asked my thanks to also be extended to my interviewers. A week later, my contact info changed so I sent another email updating them. Now two weeks, the timeline given to me has passed and I’m about to send a follow-up email.

All of my emails — the thank-you, the update, and the follow-up — have been new and separate emails and I wonder if, on the employer side, it is easier to keep track of info, or preferred if I had just replied to the initial email, instead of sending three new emails. Or, is this just a tiny detail that doesn’t matter?

Tiny detail that doesn’t matter.

5. Pushing back the start date on a new job

Is it ever okay to push back the start date for a new job after the negotiations have been completed?

I am super excited about my new job. SUPER excited. But there are a few things causing me considerable anxiety regarding the start date. I will be moving soon. I am volunteering for a project of personal and professional significance that I would like to finish. Then there’s the job itself, which I’d like time to prepare for before starting since the industry is new. Lastly, I do have an anxiety disorder with OCD tendencies that exacerbates the feeling of not being ready for these transitions. (These are obviously not things I would express to the employer, except for the move, which they already know about.)

Friends have advised me that this is really not a good idea. I have a feeling they are right, but would like your take on this. Would asking for an additional two weeks be perceived as arrogant or irresponsible? Could this cause the company to rescind the offer? And if you do think that asking for a later start date would be okay, how do you suggest asking for it?

I think you should stick with your original start date unless the move and the volunteer commitment would truly make that a hardship. But if that’s the case, you could try floating it, as long as you make it clear you understand it may not be possible. Sample language: “We’d set a start date of April 17. I realize this may not be possible, but I wonder if we might be able to move it to April 24, to give me some extra breathing room on my move. If that doesn’t work on your end, no worries — but I wanted to check and see.”

They may or may not say yes, but it would be extremely unlikely for an employer to rescind the job offer over that, particularly if there’s a long-distance move involved. The only exception to that is if you’ve already said or done anything else that might have given them doubts about your level of commitment to the job. If that were the case, then asking to push the start date back would be a bad idea. (And obviously only consider asking if you’re able to give them plenty of notice; if your start date is next week, it’s too late to do this unless it’s truly unavoidable.)

{ 314 comments… read them below }

  1. Al Lo*

    #4 – I like emails to stay in the chain, because I keep my emails threaded, but I have a couple of co-workers who don’t, and I will often think of another quick thing to add to the thread (of course, just after gmail’s “undo send” window ends) and send another one-line message. To me, not a big deal; it’s just the next entry down. For them, it’s yet another email hitting their inbox. It’s kind of amusing to see my boss respond to her inbox if a thread has exploded while she’s been away from it — I’ll get a series of 4 or 5 emails responding to each part of the chain, which has often been resolved by the time she gets to the last one and agrees with the final result. I do wish she’d set up her inbox in threads, just for that, but it’s really no big deal either way.

    1. Dizzy Steinway*

      I don’t like using threads in my inbox because sometimes people change subject without changing the title and you can miss something important as you think all those emails are just about the purple teapots and don’t realise one of them is about a teapot that melted. I mean, sure, people shouldn’t do that, but sometimes they do. And also because when I used Gmail I found opening and reading threads extremely clunky and annoying. Your boss doesn’t need threads anyway by the sound of it – she just needs to read the newest emails first.

      If you often think of one line to add just after sending, maybe build in a delay rather than always sending another reply?

      1. Al Lo*

        Yeah, basically, it’s all just down to preference. I feel like my email’s way more manageable in threads, because 50 new messages can show up as 10 conversations, and that’s a lot easier to scroll through. Point being, I completely agree with Alison — it’s not going to flag one way or the other whether people reply or start a new thread. The only thing that would seem more unprofessional than the others is if the email subjects got to the “Re: re: Re: Fwd: Fwd: re:” kinds of subject lines that I haven’t seen in quite a while (i.e. since my parents/grandparents/in-laws stopped forwarding chain emails :) ).

        1. Dizzy Steinway*

          But not everyone does find it easy to scroll through – to some people it’s not just one more line in a thread. Just seemed worth mentioning!

          1. Al Lo*

            Oh, totally. I just meant that it’s easier from my perspective. And that adding another new thread by changing the subject line doesn’t actually matter, either.

        2. TootsNYC*

          I think it’s that the software has stopped repeating the “re:” and the “fwd:”

      2. Casuan*

        OP, this will depend on the recipient’s personal preference, which makes this something about which not to worry.
        Do be certain to use an appropriate description in the Subject line.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Exactly. Individual people will have personal preferences, but it’s not something that’s going to matter either way for the OP’s context. She doesn’t need to expend any time thinking/worrying about it!

        2. Antilles*

          Well said. It’s also worth noting that since there’s no accepted convention, no reasonable person is going to judge you for it even if the way you do it isn’t their personal preference.
          Just do whatever you prefer and not give it a second’s thought.

        3. Alton*

          Also, with something like this, it’s unlikely that the OP will be sending a ton of emails. 3-4 emails to HR in the span of a couple weeks are unlikely to blow up anyone’s inbox. The only way I could see it being a problem is if the emails themselves were inappropriate or too unnecessary, and that doesn’t seem to be the case.

      3. CM*

        I do that! I use a one-minute delay and I often make changes when the email is still sitting in my Outbox waiting to be sent. I tried for years to just be more careful before hitting “Send” but it never took.

      4. Nan*

        Threaded emails confuse the daylights out of me. Especially if someone is dropped off or added in. I get confused as to who I’m replying to.

    2. Fresh Faced*

      Slightly off topic, but I didn’t realize Gmail had an undo send option. This is extremely helpful! =) I’m one to see mistakes 10 seconds after I’ve sent something important and then internally crawl into a hole from embarrassment over mistake-I-can’t-change (even though the mistakes tend to be minor.)

      1. Random Citizen*

        It’s a separate add-on you can install that gives you an option to undo sending he message for about five seconds after you hit send. It’s a lifesaver!

        1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

          I don’t think it’s an add-on, I think it’s one of the optional lab settings. But either way, it’s the best!

        2. Nan*

          oh, yes. Unsend, Unsend!!! I’ve been saved by that one more than once. Thank you, MicroSoft.

      2. Yamikuronue*

        There’s also a “anti-drunk-text” function that will make you solve math problems before you can send an email during certain hours/days (configurable)

      3. JustBecause*

        FYI, Outlook lets you make a rule to delay send. I have a 2 minute delay send (sits in outbox) on my outgoing email where I can edit or cancel it.

      4. Karo*

        I have spellcheck turned on in Outlook and I always manage to catch my errors when spellcheck pops up to correct something else. It’s amazing.

      5. Casuan*

        re gMail, Destop web version: The Undo Send is in the Settings-General tab. One can specify the length, rather, there’s a drop-down with choices. I think 30secs is the longest.
        The drunk-text feature— I think it’s called Goggles?— is in Settings-Labs.

        When composing any email from any platform, it’s my habit to remove the names on all “To” fields so I don’t accidentally send an email before it’s composed & edited. If there are many recipients, I compose a new message then copy & paste it into a reply from the source email.
        This has saved me so many times!!
        Sometimes I do the same with texts, depending on its length &or recipient.

    3. Stranger than fiction*

      If you use Outlook, there’s a wonderful feature that lets you know “you are not responding to the latest message”. But I’ve also learned (the hard way) to go through all my email since I’ve been out and flag what I need to follow up on before replying to anythng. That way, I become aware of subsequent emails in the chain and don’t look like a dumbass. Of course you may or may not be able to give your boss such tips without making them feel like a dumbass depending on your relationship. (Wasnt sure if you meant you use gmail at work, so disregard if that’s the case)

  2. Bea*

    I just got done reading an email response from a client that is full of declaration of love throughout our interactions. I can see how it would make someone uncomfortable but it’s so refreshing from the ungrateful jerks we interact with daily. I like Alison’s advice in this case, the wording is kind but redirects to a more professional tone.

    1. OP#2*

      It is definitely preferable to the people who hell at me for following policies about when they’re allowed to pick up their paychecks or other things!

    2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

      I was laughing reading that one.

      “I love you!” is declared by me frequently. :-) Employees, vendors, to vendor’s bosses “I love this guy/woman, he/she does such an amazing job for us.”

      I’m, um, effusive.

      I completely get OP #2’s level of uncomfortably with hearing it too much from one guy. It’s almost as if it puts extra pressure on you to be that level of amazing for him every time?

      I sprinkle my “I love yous” and have an eye to reaction. If it makes the other party break out into a big smile, I hit the right note.

      1. Gandalf the Nude*

        I would never say it to the person, but I have little problem saying it about the person, though I’m more selective of who is worthy of my lovely declarations. You have to be a ball of sunshine as well as good at your job.

        1. CM*

          I agree, “I love this guy” is different than a direct “I love you.” I would laugh and say, “I know you don’t mean it this way, but I feel a little weird about all the ‘I love you’s! Just ‘thank you’ would be perfect.”

      2. OP#2*

        It’s definitely not the first time I’ve had someone tell me they love me because of something I did at work, but in this particular situation it was the frequency that was getting a little uncomfortable.

        1. HannahS*

          I sort of know what you mean. I used to work and go to school with people who would reply to any favour with “Ohmigad I looooooooove you!” or “I love you so muuuuuchhhh!” I’m just not that effusive, and it was a bit uncomfortable. In my case, the people saying it were all straight women or gay men, so I knew there wasn’t any ~hidden meaning~ in it; I didn’t feel harrassed. I just replied with “you’re welcome,” but I’m definitely on board with a warm smile and a rebuke.

        2. Bea*

          I absolutely understand what you mean about the frequency being the problem. I hope this guy gets a perma position and leaves you alone soon!

      3. Lunch Meat*

        I can be effusive too, but I would make myself uncomfortable saying “I love you.” I prefer to go with “You’re the best” or “You’re my favorite person” (people laugh about the second one because my favorite person changes so often).

          1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

            My favorite people of the moment are either a “Peach” or “Aces”. Gender doesn’t matter for either choice.
            It’s basically used like “you’re the best!”

            You’re a peach!
            You’re aces!

            1. Stranger than fiction*

              Unless you had a former manager that called you Peaches and thought you were too dumb to know he was referring to your boobs (sigh).

        1. Blue Anne*

          I do exactly the same thing! My friends joke about making a “Blue Anne’s Favorite Person” ID card they can pass around as required, and I have to buy a round for whoever has it at the moment. :P

      4. Stranger than fiction*

        I think we’re conditioned to feel we should say it back, and that’s where Ops uncomfortableness may be coming from. Once I had a coworker who I liked but definitely didn’t love say it to me and I panicked and just said “right back at ya”.

      5. Rachael*

        Yeah, I have a habit of telling people that I’m going to marry them (male or female). I think that it is a product of the environment that I grew up. People regularly spouted exaggerations and everyone knew that the person loved them or actually wanted to marry them.

  3. Dizzy Steinway*

    #2 I think I disagree. You do sound creeped out to me. You say you feel uncomfortable, then go on to talk yourself out of it (“I think he is just genuinely grateful”). You have instincts for a reason, so trust your gut – if you don’t feel comfortable around this guy, listen to that and don’t be alone with him.

    And, even if you’re not creeped out, I wouldn’t tell him he’s very kind as that might stop him from hearing what you’re saying. I’d separate feelings and behaviour, rather than saying his sentiments are kind but unnecessary, and go with the second beginning (“I’m glad you’re happy in the job but…”) whatever you go on to say next.

    1. OP#2*

      I’m definitely not afraid of him, but it’s nice to have a reminder to trust my instincts.

    2. anon for this*

      I didn’t read “I think he is just genuinely grateful” as OP talking herself out of it… I read it as useful context. He’s making her uncomfortable, but probably without meaning to, as opposed to intentionally.

      “Trust your gut” can be tough; right after I became a sales rep, one of our vendors (a guy in his 60s) gave me (woman in my mid-20s) a bottle of wine as a gift. The guy was perfectly nice and I always got good vibes from him but no one had ever given me a bottle of wine in a work context before and it totally weirded me out! I actually wrote in to AAM about it and was reassured by Alison and the commenters that this is normal/professional behavior in the vendor/client context. Looking back, I can see that what I might have called a “gut” feeling was the result of inexperience and lack of familiarity with professional norms.

      I’m not saying that’s the case with this letter! Just that while “trust your gut” can be good advice, especially for women, it doesn’t always apply. It sounds to me like this guy is well-intentioned but a little clueless; if it were me, I’d probably start off with Alison’s “softer” language (“No need for that, it’s my job!”) and try something blunter if he didn’t get the hint.

      1. Lissa*

        Yup, people also have taken to saying “trust your gut” to specifically mean only negative things, so “trust your gut” when you get a bad feeling about someone–but not a good one! (Though I am one for whom that advice doesn’t work, as I have anxiety combined with not great social calibration, so I personally get a bit frustrated by that being offered as though the gut is always correct! Mine’s not.)

  4. Casuan*

    …and requiring a doctor’s note discourages people from staying home when they’re sick, is an unfair burden… drives up health care costs by pushing people to the doctor when they only need home care…

    “…since I only went to the doctor because you required it; otherwise I would have stayed in bed to rest.” They may or may not agree, but you wouldn’t be out of line to frame it that way.

    OP1: Also point out the ramifications from when a sick employee does come to work. The employee’s productivity is down. It’s possible one’s recovery time is slower. Colleagues & customers might catch the bug & a lot more people are more susceptible than one might think. When one in a group is infected, another catches the bug then they pass it back & forth. If colleagues are sick, in time this could end up raising rates for he company health plan.

    Sell your request by telling the company how it benefits from an employee not needing a doctor’s note as well as mention it’s undue hardship for the employees.

    Might this request be better if she sent an email to her manager, the DM & cc’d to HR &or upper management? I think so, however I’m not certain.

    Good luck, OP!!
    You have many on your side!!

    1. Junior Dev*

      Alison has talked before about how CCing HR or someone’s boss comes off as hostile and should really be saved for situations that you’ve tried to handle other ways.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Yeah, I would not cc higher management on this one. Retail tends to be rigid in its hierarchy, and cc’ing HR might look more like a veiled escalation than a “looping in” move. And if the doctor’s note thing is a company-wide requirement (as opposed to a store or regional requirement), cc’ing the higher ups puts the DM—who may have zero discretion—in a difficult position. I think it’s better to start with a conversation (not an email) with OP’s manager and DM.

        That said, most retail chains (particularly large ones) have anonymous feedback channels, and it would be fine for OP to send in their suggestion after and independently of the conversation with their manager/DM.

    2. Kinder and Gentler Manager*

      I am not sure about this. I am already aware of the ramifications of an employee coming in sick (and honestly most people are). I don’t need to be educated on this and if I were for whatever reason disgruntled enough to ask for a doctor’s note, debating my call on a whether or not a doctor’s note was reimbursable would not help the overall situation. Copying HR or my boss would have a very negative impact as well.

      I do wonder if the note is somehow related to DM’s potentially missed business trip. I.E.: reservations or arrangements that couldn’t be easily cancelled without extenuating circumstances. I have had to supply doctors’ notes to be refunded for seminars or travel costs due to being too sick to go at the last minute.

      1. OP1*

        Nothing needed to be refunded. It was just a regular end of the month store visit to check on the store and do the monthly paperwork. She likes bringing a manager to these out of town visits to help her with paperwork because it’s one of our largest stores in the district and has a lot of paperwork.

    3. (Not A) RetailManager*

      Not to be a downer, but most retailers do not care about their employees and will not pay for this doctor’s note. It can hurt to ask, as you may be perceived as ‘not a team player’ and may not be considered for promotions, if that is something you are interested with in this company. I worked as a retail manager for 10 years for several companies and have too many stories to back this up. Corporate higher ups often think of field employees as ‘bodies’ and will find ways to get rid of people who they perceive as too much trouble.

        1. (Not A) RetailManager*

          Lucky duck! Retail needs more companies like the ones you’ve worked for.

          1. Retail HR Guy*

            I am definitely lucky.

            I’m a firm believer that better-treated employees leads to better profits all on its own (at least in this industry), but regardless one thing that we can all do to help is patronize those places that have a rep for treating their employees well.

            1. Dan*

              Yeah. If brick and mortar retailers (no matter what the size) want to stay alive in the face of online competition, one of their key survival strategies is *service*. Paying your employees minimum wage and treating them as expendable will not get the service levels necessary.

              Sure, companies claim they need to cut costs (er, employee wages) to remain “competitive”. But when I can get a better selection, and no employees pressuring me or “checking in” every 5 minutes, and get the stuff delivered in two days, well, guess who gets my business? If you can’t stay in business paying your employees enough to hold on to the good ones, well that says something about your business model, sorry.

              BTW, if I ask a question, that staff person reading the description card next to the item doesn’t count as great service.

              1. paul*

                I want to agree, but frankly service and training cost money….people *say* they want good service but WalMart’s the biggest retailer in America right now. Stated vs expressed preferences are a bear.

                Training people to have more than what I call “box knowledge” takes significant time and money. Let alone paying them well.

        2. paul*

          You’re lucky then.

          I don’t even think it’s active maliciousness, just callous indifference. Maybe in higher end retail it’s better, but in big box stores? Hah.

      1. Artemesia*

        What is particularly horrifying is that the OP doens’t get paid sick leave — so he doesn’t get paid AND has to have the note. This kind of policy would have me looking for another job but I guess retail is fairly callous in their treatment of workers so that is probably no help.

        1. OP1*

          Um, first, I am a she and we’re talking the kind of retail job high school students have on the weekend to earn spending money. We don’t even get health insurance until you reach the level of assistant manager.

          All that said, I adore my company. I enjoy the job duties (I am a Third Key Holder and the Visual Director for the store.) Like I said, my DM and I have an amazing relationship and I know if I stick it out long enough I could work my way up into the company’s office level jobs. My company pays *very competitively* so because of that, the fact that I am a university drop out, and for certain other reasons that I don’t want to get into here, searching for a better job is not realistic because there really isn’t one better for me at this time.

          Honestly, me not getting sick leave is absolutely no reason to leave a stable, well paying job I enjoy that has almost guaranteed career advancements.

          1. Zombii*

            If you want to stay with the company and maybe advance to an office job someday, I would think very hard before doing something that will mark you as tone-deaf to How Things Work Here™.

            Asking for reimbursement for a doctor’s note isn’t normal in most workplaces, especially if the workplace is already cheaping out on employee benefits like sick time and healthcare (everyone under assistant manager is kept at part-time hours to avoid qualifying for benefits, right?).

            Re: the office jobs. How many of those people don’t have a college degree? I’m seriously asking because all the retail jobs I’ve had still had “corporate” requirements for their corporate office jobs.

    4. Erin*

      Usually companies that require sick notes only have a staff of 3 or 4 that must be in the store at all times of business. I work in a retail store like that. You have to find coverage on your own or get a doctors note, which you must bring in the day you call out. I tried to change that by saying they can take a photo of it and text it, but my boss didn’t like that. I did successfully stand up to her the last time I was sick and emailed it to her, I said I was sick and not leaving my house and I’ll bring the note in when I work next. That’s our store’s policy. Which is pain in the ass.
      that’s the #1 reason why I’m looking for work. Even though I have sick days to use and insurance I can’t get time off to go see a doctor let alone call in sick. Forget about going to ER for a cold to get a note. Nobody else can cover for me. This week I’m fighting a cold. Not sick enough to go to the doctor, but I need a day off to rest. But my boss had to take the week off for a funeral and I had to cover her shift on my scheduled day off. So my cold is lingering. I detest this policy.
      I really have no life work balance. I can’t have a family emergency or a health issue ever. I’ve missed my cousins funeral last year because of this skeleton crew they force us to run.
      It’s depressing as soon as I find a new job with a bigger staff and better coverage, I’m gone. I’ve been putting in 1 or 2 apps in a week since july when my cousin passed away. As soon and I get a new job I’m gone. My morale is so low I could get fired today and it would be a favor.

      1. Casuan*

        Erin, that’s horrible & I’m sorry for such a difficult work culture with ridiculous policies.
        Good luck in your search & know you have support here!!

    5. BananaPants*

      Yeah, OP1 works in retail. Based on my husband’s 10+ years working in various retail positions, not only are they highly unlikely to change the policy but they’re liable to get ticked off that an underling is questioning them on it.

      Mr. BP had a wicked kidney stone when working for a big box electronics retailer. It was diagnosed by our PCP but it took another 2 weeks until a specialist could see him and another week and a half after that until he could have a procedure to break up the stone. He had a whopping 3 days of PTO and needed to keep his job, plus he knew he needed to save a PTO day for the procedure itself and maybe the day after – so he went to work in severe pain for 3.5 weeks. His supervisor and GM wouldn’t let him sit on a stool (“what will the customers think?”) but did allow him to take more than one bathroom break per shift since he was pushing fluids on the doctor’s orders.

      When sick with a minor illness, everyone just went to work anyways. Calling out for anything less than full-blown influenza would get you reduced hours in the schedule or dropped from full time to part time.

      1. Erin*

        I hate the what will customers think line. Honestly if the store is clean and orderly and we have what they want and can help them find it, they don’t care. They have better things to worry about than a sales clerk sitting down to do inventory paperwork or making schedules or to read safety memos. Same thing with wearing jeans, stocking sale sets and deep cleaning a store is manual labor, we should be able to wear clean and nice looking jeans. They last longer than dress pants in that situation. Some of these rules for retail are so outdated to when retail workers were mostly commissioned salespeople, not stockperson, clerk, salesperson and cleaning staff.

        1. Zombii*

          The customers who bother to fill out the surveys definitely care, and those are the only ones corporate cares about. They will rate you poorly and tattle on you for reading safety memos playing on the computer, don’t even worry about it.

      2. Alton*

        I’ve never gotten why some retail-related jobs are so against employees being able to sit down when they have a position where they have to stay in one spot for a while, anyway. I used to work in sampling/in-store demonstrations, and my company had a lot of older employees. Getting permission to use a stool if you couldn’t stand in one spot for 5+ hours was nearly impossible, but a lot of work days just involved putting crackers out on napkins or something similarly simple. There was no reason that sitting would have interfered.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          There was a recent case in California where the state supreme court ruled that providing a cashier with a stool to sit on was a reasonable accommodation for a medical condition. YMMV in other states.

        2. Someone*

          I can only repeat what I said on another post already – in Germany, retail employees not being allowed to sit is pretty much unheard of. Most cashier places have a seat of some kind. It never struck me as lazy.

          Why anyone would prohibit seats for retail employees is absolutely beyond me.

  5. Fafaflunkie*

    OP1: In 99.999% of all circumstances pertaining to your quandary about getting a doctor’s note for a common cold, I would have to ask one thing: is the employer imposing this on everyone who has to call in sick no matter what, or is it just you, because you’ve already called in sick more than a couple of times this month, or conveniently on the Friday before a long weekend? If the former, I personally would be looking for another job! If the latter, then ask yourself: is this a reasonable request? If you say honestly say “no” then by all means, ask them for reimbursement for the doctor’s note. What do you have to lose otherwise? Otherwise, you may have to see their side of it: as the boy/girl who cried wolf one too many times, they may be asking for some proof.

    1. Sunshine*

      Since OP says they rarely call out sick-usually 2-3 times a year during cold/flu season, I doubt they have been doing it too much.

      1. Beezus*

        And the Friday before/Monday after a long weekend isn’t suspicious unless it’s part of a troubling pattern. Otherwise, it happens.

        1. Antilles*

          Yep, it happens and reasonable people know that. In fact, you’re probably more likely to get sick near a long weekend given that long weekends might involve air travel, stressful situations, and a deviation from your body’s routine.
          Though that’s at least more justifiable than the employers (who sadly exist) that are are suspicious of Fridays/Mondays adjacent to a weekend in general. Did you know 40% of all employee sick days are taken on Fridays and Mondays??? Our employees are ripping us off!

            1. Decima Dewey*

              I’m civil service. If we hit more than eight instances of undocumented sick leave (that is, without a doctor’s note), we’re warned about the Sick Leave Abuse List. Once you’re on that list, a doctor’s note is required for every time you’re out sick. It’s silly, of course. It only catches someone who doesn’t want to give his/her bug to the branch, and not the person who gets a doctor’s note every time he/she has the sniffles.

              There are also rules specifying who can sign a sick note. HR stills talks about the librarian who submitted a note “from a highly respected aromatherapist” that was rejected.

          1. Retail HR Guy*

            It doesn’t really affect your main point, but long weekends for retail workers typically wouldn’t involve air travel. We’re lucky if we can afford a short road trip.

        2. GG*

          Mondays are when it always seems to happen for me. But if you think about it, it makes sense. During the work week… I go to work. I go home. Rinse and repeat. Come the weekend, that’s when I go out and do things and see friends and get exposed to whatever. So then, depending on the incubation period, come Sunday or Monday… That’s when I start to feel sick.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Are we reading the same letter? The OP offered a pretty thorough and conscientious explanation of why the requirement exists and how it’s applied, in addition to explaining the frequency of their own absences.

      1. Bonky*

        Sometimes I think people just read the title of the letter, and dive straight in to comment!

        1. Lissa*

          Or they seize on one sentence and relate it to something that happened to them/in their experience, which can lead to wildly different interpretations!

      2. Fafaflunkie*

        I did miss that part. Should have been asleep at the time I saw that originally.

        Now that I’ve re-read that part, OP #1, point your supervisor to those CBC articles, and email the doctor’s bill as an attachment. Sorry for insinuating anything untoward.

    3. OP1*

      So actually a little bit of an update since I submitted this a few days ago. It turns out that quite a few employees in the district have been falsely calling in sick, so the DM has implemented this new rule to crack down on that. I just happened to be the first person who called in sick after the rule change.

      … It hasn’t been received well, especially in our store. I’ll definitely be talking to the DM next time she’s in the store as all the employees but our manager are upset that we have to pay for doctor’s notes.

      As for the am I calling out too many times or at suspicious times. The last time I called out was two days in November when I completely knocked on my butt by the worst flu I’ve ever had in my life. My schedule has me off the two days before the days I called out and the day after the days I called. All five days I literally did not leave the couch except to go to the bathroom I was so sick.

      Before that it was something like May. I’ve a very healthy person (and least in the not getting sick aspect) and I don’t call out unless I am actually sick. Even then I can usually be roped in for half a shift (I know it’s bad, but I’m a pushover.)

      This time I called out on a Wednesday. I will admit it was after two days off, but I started to get sick on my first day off and hadn’t recovered by Wednesday.

      As for your thought of looking for a new job, I’ve answered above in more detail. Basically this is a well paying job I adore doing with great career advancement opportunities, and it’s not worth leaving over one sick note.

  6. Sarah*

    For OP5, when I started my most recent job, it was immediately after a cross-country move, and due to a family emergency I ended up having to do 2 plane flights back in the couple of weeks I was supposed to be getting my new place unpacked and organized. Due to the nature of my job, it was not possible to move the start date at all and so the whole thing ended up being fairly terrible on top of the normal “new job” stress. I ended up getting through it by just reminding myself that the first month or so was simply going to suck because I felt rushed and unprepared…something about just accepting that it was going to be terrible was very freeing–like, ok, this will be bad, I will dial up the self care and just get through it! And, there is an other side to that–its bad, and then it gets better, because the transition part is temporary and the other things causing it to be rushed (in your case, the move, the competing volunteer project, etc.) are also things that will get better with time. Anyway, if you can’t move the date, just something to think about.

  7. Archie Goodwin*

    I would just like to say that I would LOVE a rice sculpture of Grover Cleveland. I might even put it on my desk next to my tiny pewter figurine of Chester Arthur.

    (Note: I do, in fact, have a tiny pewter figurine of Chester Arthur on my desk.)

    1. SophieChotek*

      Me too. I want a rice sculpture…but only if the moustache is made of Red himalyan rice. If it lacks that detail, I’ll pass.

      (Seriously, we should all band together and commission a rice sculpture of AAM and her teacup?)

    2. Garrett*

      Yes, and I would love to be tasked with that at my job. It would look ugly but I would enjoy the process for sure!

    3. (different) Rebecca*

      I would love to learn how to make a rice sculpture, as I’ve not seen one before. What a fascinating concept. *grin*

  8. Dizzy Steinway*

    #5 Hey, I have anxiety and OCD. It’s better than it used to be (therapy helped) but it has its moments still.

    I wouldn’t push the job back for something you’re volunteering for if you didn’t tell the employer. It’s okay not to be prepared if you’re starting in a new industry. But the other thought I had is that, with this kind of anxiety, it’s possible you might continue to feel anxious, and not ready to start your job, after the week is up. It’s possible that a week’s breathing room could help, but try to be realistic about what’s achievable – I’d to think about what you are going to do during that week (eg spend time researching your new industry, get some unpacking done, take some time to relax) rather than focusing on how you think you should feel at the end of it. It’s entirely possible you’ll still feel anxious and not ready at the end of that extra week, so I’d have a think about how you can take care of yourself if that happens.

    Anxiety of this kind can sometimes expand like marshmallow; it can trick you into thinking that when you do x, you will feel y, but then you don’t, so you feel like you have to do x again, or not do the next thing. This is partly because, if you have OCD tendencies, your brain doesn’t ‘close the loop’ in the same way so you don’t get the feeling that you’ve completed x, are satisfied and can move on. I’ve found it really helpful to remind myself of this when I’m feeling anxious like this. It can sometimes help me see a way through.

    If you do take the time, maybe use part of it to see a therapist once or twice? Even just a couple of sessions could give you some help with coping.

    And good luck in your new job.

    1. Snork Maiden*

      Thanks for the “closing the loop” analogy! I have slight tendencies this way so your descriptions were very helpful. I try to remember to eat the marshmallow before it turns into a Stay-Puft monster.

    2. My other bike is a broom*

      I was thinking this also. Sometimes it’s good to dive in: I find it helps if you can think of it as an exceptional time where you realise it will be stressful and to give yourself permission to focus on doing the minimal amount of things you need to do to get through it. So yes, you need to pack, but maybe you don’t pack and see lots of people or do any sight seeing or start a new diet or fitness regime at this point. Preserve your energy where you can. I also try to break up the tasks into more bite-sized chunks if at all possible. Hope it goes really well!

  9. Casuan*

    “I know that it’s not a project you were thrilled to take on…”

    This phrase doesn’t work for me. Although it’s a kind thought to recognise Karen’s dislike for the project, it was part of her job… & She exceeded expectations. Focus on the end result. Don’t soften the compliment by reminding her about the negatives.

    The mischievous me recommends telling her “Wow! You did this so wonderfully that I’m going to give you all of the projects no one wants!!”
    ummm… Yeah. Don’t do that.

    1. Artemesia*

      I actually think acknowledging that she was not happy to take this on is the right idea when letting her know she has done it well and absolutely don’t praise her publicly since she has already made this such a nasty issue for everyone. Rewarding this kind of toxic behavior would be disastrous. The attempt to get the boss on board that the OP was shuffling her own work off on her was outrageous; don’t reward this with public recognition.

      1. Obelia*

        I’d agree with this. OP needs to avoid giving the message “You making this into such a massively big deal makes us appreciate you all the more!”

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Agreed on all counts.

        But I do wish Karen’s boss would nip the toxic complaining in the bud. I know OP is not Karen’s boss and she’s not OP’s responsibility, but it would be great if the boss would start regulating Karen’s toxic and backstabby hate-cloud. That stuff is awful and festers, and I’m worried about the kerfuffle she’s going to create the next time this task crosses her plate.

        1. OP3*

          OP here – I am her boss, and you are absolutely right – the toxicity was a problem. She has a personality tendency of “the glass is never full” no matter what is going on. As a part of our regular check-ins I did tell her that I reviewed the statue, recognized that it was a tough project for her (didn’t state that she didn’t like it), that she did a fantastic job, and I appreciate her hard work. It was pretty matter of fact, and Karen voiced that she appreciated it. I anticipate that future kerfuffles will still occur and we will work through them similarly to how we did this.

          1. LQ*

            Is it this one particular statue that is a problem or is it just all things? If it is all things it might be worth addressing that as a bigger thing.
            But I’d honestly be a little worried that if I did such an amazing job that my boss specifically called me out for it on a project I clearly hated that I’d be assigned to work only those kinds of projects and if that was the case…I would be looking to leave. Is it a this is a one time kind of a thing and then you can go back to other work you enjoy more? Or this is now going to become your whole job because you were so great at it?
            If she’s just unhappy with everything it’s a little harder to tell if that’s the case I think.

            1. Lissa*

              I see what you’re saying, but the OP said this project only comes up 1 or 2 times a year and it is part of her job, so I think in this case probably that won’t come up.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            Thanks so much for responding!

            Is there anything you could do to address her toxic/downer attitude? I don’t think everyone has to be peppy or happy all the time, but complaining at this level (including to your boss!) is really unprofessional and can totally destroy morale for everyone who has to hear her stormclouding around. And it seems like the cycle will never change if she does this every time she receives assignments she doesn’t want to do (I mean, we all receive assignments we don’t want to do and are expected to do them in a competent manner because we’re adults).

            Or is she only this level of toxic when she’s assigned work she doesn’t want to do? I’m kind of amazed that she thought it was ok to complain that you gave it to her because you didn’t want to do it because… well… allocating work to direct reports is a core function for managers.

          3. Snarky*

            Ooooooh, I like that you said it was a “tough” project rather than one she didn’t like. I think that was good phrasing on your part.

            1. Casuan*

              Totally agree!!

              “Tough project” is excellent phrasing! It acknowledges you recognised she had difficulty on this project [difficulty = didn’t like] whilst keeping the message that you’re in authority & the project was part of her normal duties.

              :::making note to self re the phrase “tough project” in this context:::

      3. Lablizard*

        I might say something like, “despite this being your least favorite part of your duties, you did an amazing job” or something along those lines. It makes it more clear that this is actually part of the job, not a one off project.

    2. WhirlwindMonk*

      I actually don’t see how it softens the compliment, I think it strengthens it. Many people can do a great job at things they love, but it takes a special level of work ethic to really excel at something you hate, and acknowledging that in someone is absolutely a stronger compliment than just saying “Good job.” It also reminds the employee that their boss knows and recognizes they don’t like that work and thus are less likely to dump more of it on them just because they did a good job on it this time.

      1. BPT*

        I think the only thing about that, though, is to make sure that someone voicing their displeasure about a part of a job doesn’t entitle them to higher praise. I can see most of the staff doing the parts of the job they hate (because there are those parts in every job) without complaint and doing a great job. But then Karen comes along complaining about something, making it toxic, and then ending up doing a great job. Yes, her end result deserves praise, but you need to make sure that this doesn’t turn into a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” type of situation.

        You’re right in that most people can do a great job at what they love, but it’s important to not overpraise just because someone has stopped being toxic about a situation.

      2. Ninex9*

        I don’t think it takes a “special” kind of person to do well at something they may not like. If it’s been assigned as part of my job, I’d put in the same amount of effort as I would other aspects. Heck, evening cleaning the microwave and the storage cabinets invigorates me now and those are only miscellaneous. Scrub hard and clean and then move on.

        Plus, by nature, I tend to be someone who tackles and does things they don’t like first, working everything out, so I can have room to breathe with things I actually like.

      3. Kimberly R*

        There’s a difference between someone constantly complaining about a job function, even going above their manager’s head to complain to the next higher up about it, versus someone who makes a comment like, “I can’t wait to get through this project. This is my least favorite part about the job” once or twice. Making a comment about how this part of the job isn’t your cup of tea is not as toxic as constantly complaining about it and going above your manager’s head. We don’t all have to love or even like every aspect of our jobs, but I think we’re all expected to do it with a minimum of complaining.

        1. OP3*

          Thanks Kimberly R! While she has complained about other parts of the job, she would do them just fine. There are all kinds of help on here about those folks that do a great (really great) job but are just Negative Nellies all the time and I have found those helpful. This was the first time that she tried to circumvent me and go to our director. That pissed both me and our director off. Having this go so well and really boosted my confidence as her manager.

      4. JustaTech*

        I think it also depends on what kind of work it is. For instance: during a giant shake up at current job one of the essential departments was disbanded and each individual department told to do that job for themselves. This meant that one person had to take on a totally new job responsibility *way* outside their area of expertise, with essentially no training (because all those people were fired) using horrendous software and got a huge amount of flack from both vendors and the new internal people for making mistakes.
        Everyone knew this coworker hated this new part of her job (and so did everyone else who got stuck with it) but it had to be done and she did a really good job at it. Not only did our boss praise her for doing a good job but so did everyone on her level (mostly out of gratitude that it wasn’t us having to do that).
        I wouldn’t have said her moaning was toxic (there was so much general moaning from everyone it didn’t make much impact), so maybe that’s the difference in how you present the praise.

      5. Casuan*

        I actually don’t see how it softens the compliment, I think it strengthens it.

        In general, I agree. Because Karen was so agressive about the project, my thought is that by acknowledging she didn’t like it would keep the window open for future complaints.

        The OP posted that she already talked with Karen & complimented with the phrase “tough project.” That was great phrasing, imo.

    3. LBK*

      I could see that if you were phrasing it like “You were a total pill throughout this whole process, but you still did a good job on it!” But I don’t think acknowledging that she didn’t enjoy doing it is a dig on her or a criticism that somehow weakens the strength of the proceeding compliment; I prefer to have my manager acknowledge how much something sucks. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier to get through, but it shows that they at least understand how crappy the task is that I got stuck doing and aren’t just blindly dumping bad work on me.

  10. LadyCop*

    #1 I am pretty sure Alison has touched on the idea that so what if people are dishonest about a sick day, as long as it’s not otherwise disruptive… but to be treated like a child is ridiculous… especially since my doctor would email the note site unseen because he too has better things to do.

    1. PatPat*

      Yeah, it really is ridiculous when an employer treats workers like children.

      Years ago, I worked at a restaurant as a server. I was a great employee and one of the best servers but the first time I called out sick, after something like a year of working there I might add, when I came back to work my boss asked me if I had a doctor’s note. I said, “No. I know what was wrong with me and it didn’t require a doctor’s care, just bed rest.” The manager never asked me for a doctor’s note again. I think sometimes management is just blindly following policy but if you’re a good worker and push back they rethink things.

      1. OP1*

        In DM’S defense she is dealing mostly with employees between the ages of 16-23, so not the most mature bunch. Also she’s getting way too many people calling in sick in the district and has (as I learned the day after submitting my letter to Alison) to make this a district wide policy to crack down.

        Actually the funny thing is I’m the letter writer who submitted the question about her District Manager living in an apartment the floor above mine. When my manager told me about the new note policy, I was very tempted to ask if I could instead just go upstairs to her apartment and say “See, I’m sick. We good?”

        1. Zombii*

          That policy doesn’t work to reduce call-outs, it just makes the people who really are sick miserable. The people who are fake sick will call out anyway until they get fired/taken off the schedule and decide to go get another throwaway job to fit in around their weekends. Toxic ExJob had the same policy and all it did was increase turnover.

          If your DM wants to handle this situation, she needs to stop taking the easy way out and start acting like a competent manager.

    2. Lablizard*

      I doubt I could even get into my doctor’s office between insert and recovery. They save same or next day appointments for urgent cases and an one day illness wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) make the cut unless there were other health issues involved.

      1. LaurenB*

        Yeah, I laugh at the whole idea because I don’t have a doctor, like nearly 10% of the population around here. If you want to see one, you either go to the ER or wait an hour just to register to get in to the city’s single 3-hours/weekday walk-in clinic.

        If employers around here were to tie up the time of our few doctors with writing sick notes, there would be rioting.

        1. Jessesgirl72*

          It’s not just employers either- schools are so desperate not to lose the money they get for butts in seats every day, that they are requiring doctors notes too- and more than X unexcused absences without a doctors note = automatic F.

          That is the reason why so many pop up clinics and “docs in a box” are popping up inside of strip malls or even pharmacies (One of our Walgreens has added one) I’m pretty sure 95% of their business is sick notes.

          Having said that, in some areas calling in “sick” is really endemic, and not just in retail- I have cousins who all have professional jobs, and their FB pages are (stupidly) full of reports of spending X hours in their doctor’s after-hours office to get that fake note, and how awesome he is for having those hours that don’t even interrupt whatever fun thing they were doing during the day… Alison would say the employers shouldn’t care, but I worked with so many people who abused the system, and am related to so many more who abuse it since I’ve moved away, that I understand the impulse.

          1. Turtlewings*

            Because my brother apparently has no immune system at all, he had to repeat *THREE YEARS* of school due solely to sick absences. He was actually keeping up with the work, with great effort, at least until they told him they were going to hold him back regardless. At that point he gave up. I’m still trying to figure out how destroying his motivation, his self-confidence, and his social network on three different occasions helped him at all.

            (One year it was mono, one year West Nile, and one year it was something we never did get a proper diagnosis for that involved spells of uncontrollable full-body twitching. The relentless migraines didn’t help either.)

          2. Lore*

            I ended up at urgent care with the flu last year (I lose my voice completely whenever my tonsils are inflamed so the new urgent care 100 yards from my house is amazing because my gp doesn’t do online appts for same day bookings and I can’t call!) and they insisted on giving me a note even though my work didn’t want it. My boss had never seen one before.

          3. BananaPants*

            Our older daughter’s elementary school has this policy. For the first 10 absences, a parent’s note or doctor’s note will excuse the absence. This includes early dismissals or late arrivals due to doctor’s appointments or being sent home sick by the school nurse. Regardless of being excused/unexcused, once you hit the 10-absence mark, EVERY absence has to be excused with a note from a doctor or attorney (for court appearances). Having an unexcused absence at that point causes the district truancy officer to get involved.

            Every report card includes a number and percentage of days where the student was absent for ANY part of the school day. That includes doctor’s appointments (to see specialists or the like) and days where the school nurse sent the student home sick. The teacher has to then mark whether the student’s absence from the classroom is impacting their academic progress or not. At the middle and high school level, any unexcused absences after reaching the 10-absence mark can lead to the student failing the class regardless of their actual grades or performance.

            Little BP’s school unfortunately does have a truancy issue, but it’s chronic truancy. So all families get to pay for the irresponsibility of a relative few parents (who won’t bother excusing absences regardless).

          4. Pescadero*

            “It’s not just employers either- schools are so desperate not to lose the money they get for butts in seats every day, that they are requiring doctors notes too- and more than X unexcused absences without a doctors note = automatic F. ”


            At the school my children attend they start contacting you about truancy after 10 absences. 10 absences of ANY sort – excused or otherwise, with a doctors note or not.

      2. Michele*

        Same here. It takes weeks to get into a doctor around here unless you go to urgent care.

          1. fposte*

            They don’t have those around my area (we don’t have RiteAid at all, in fact). But it sounds like an urgent care kind of thing anyway, and there you could get in on the same day.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Yes, a lot of drugstore chains have them now, along with some Walmarts – it’s an urgent care/clinic that treats fairly minor stuff like ear infections, cold/flu/sinus infection, sprains, that kind of thing.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Our major grocery store chains have them too. Kroger clinics are cheap and in every neighborhood around here.

              1. fposte*

                Could well be in some places and with some insurances and lacks thereof, but apparently the closest one to me would be 43 miles away, so it’d have to be a lot cheaper to be worth it to locals.

          2. LaurenB*

            Around here, there just aren’t even docs in a box – we have literally one walk-in clinic that serves an area of at least 30,000, many of whom don’t have family doctors at all. I would love to have be able to see someone at the drug store for antibiotics or birth control or whatever, but we just don’t have any doctors. Even getting in at the walk-in clinic is tough.

            1. Jadelyn*

              In my pre-insurance days my back pain got so bad I almost threw up when I got out of bed one morning, so I decided to try to go to the county health clinic and see if they could give me muscle relaxants or something. I got there about twenty minutes after they opened, but when I spoke to the receptionist she said she could put me on the list but it would be at least two hours’ wait. People had been lining up since an hour prior to opening, apparently. Many walk-in clinics are so insanely overburdened that expecting someone to rely on that for immediate care is absurd.

      3. OP1*

        Actually I live in a city that has an abundance of walk in clinics (I have either four or five in the immediate area of my home) and I recently found a really great, really speedy one.

    3. Aphrodite*

      I work at a community college with generous benefits, but if we are out for more than four days they require a doctor’s note. Thankfully, I rarely get sick but I do recall one time years ago when I got something in December that laid me out, literally, for two weeks. Bad flu maybe? For the first week, I had to crawl between bedroom and bathroom because I didn’t trust myself on my feet and I certainly wasn’t going to drive anywhere. The second week I felt (a bit) better and could have gone to the doctor but I could tell was getting better so I didn’t bother. The first day I felt relatively normal was Christmas Eve day. Payroll asked for the note when we returned in January since I had been off since around the tenth of the month but I didn’t have one and explained why. I wasn’t bothered about it after that partly, I suspect, because I was rarely out but I doubt they were happy.

  11. silvertech*

    This kind of questions and answers are always amusing to me, because in my country employees are actually expected by the law to have their sick days certified by their family doctor (or the ER). It’s all done with a digital system and no one incurs any cost (healthcare is public and family doctors are paid by the local government), there is a public agency who manages all of this and covers the costs of the sick days, partially or totally.
    Failure to provide this confirmation can result in fines for the employee and ultimately firing, if it happens more than once, according to the law.

      1. silvertech*

        The good thing is that the doctors have house calls as a part of their duties, so if you are bed-ridden they come at your place and not the other way around! My doctor did when I had bronchitis and high fever a few years ago, I was unable to leave my bed. I got my note’s number, gave it to my employer via email, they double checked it on the system, and that’s it.

        Also, the actual sickness is not visible to the employer, for privacy reasons, only the employee and the doctor can see it.

      2. GingerHR*

        The UK has a legal requirement for sick days to be certified by a doctor if the absence lasts for more than 8 days. Not sure why, although I think it’s to do with the statutory sick pay that employers are required to pay (it’s not a great deal, many companies pay more). It’s more effort to get that sick note though.

        1. Obelia*

          I think it’s partly to do with statutory sick pay and partly to do with making sure sickness absence is properly managed and long term sickness avoided. That’s why doctor’s certificates here are now couched as statements of fitness to work rather than the other way round.

          1. Elfie*

            Like Obelia says, I think it’s something to do with SSP, but the definition of long term sickness is company-dependent. At one place I worked, you were on long-term after three weeks, CurrentJob is after one. But the doctor’s note thingy is standard wherever I’ve worked.

        2. Artemesia*

          I wouldn’t have a problem with requiring a note for extended absence because really anyone sick for a week or more should be seeing a doctor — but for 24 hour flu or bad colds or whatever it is absurd and wastes everyone’s time. And it is expensive for the patient as well as a waste of time for the doctor.

          1. yasmara*

            Well, no, not really. Working mama here & my kids have gotten viral illnesses that linger for a week with off and on fevers (no daycare/school until 24 hours fever free, every working parent’s favorite rule) or intermittent vomiting that mean I’ve kept them out for school for a week but really felt no need to bring them into the pediatrician for a visit. Certainly if your illness stays severe or gets *worse* after a week, you should see a dr. but a lot of times you get, “it’s just a virus” and there’s nothing they can do anyway but “prescribe” rest & fluids.

            So far I’ve had to provide paperwork/dr information for short-term disability and for when we had to pull my younger son out of summer camp a few days before it was starting. In the case of the camp, I’m sure it’s because they don’t want to deal with random cancellations by families. My son had a concussion and had been seeing a dr. but was not cleared for summer camp, so I had no problem messaging the pediatrician and having a note emailed to me. Having my office require a note from my dr (when I probably didn’t even see her) would make me furious. Then again, my brother manages a retail store and I hear all sorts of stories from the other side from him about his employees’ behavior & the random stuff they seem to think is OK.

          2. OP1*

            The policy used to be if you’re out three or more days, but too many employees in the district have been falsely calling out, so DM is cracking down with the one day rule. Turns out I was the lucky first person who called out after the rule change.

            Oh yeah, and this flu is going around the store right now, so there’s been at least one employee out every day this week. We all had to get doctor’s notes, and none of us are happy about it.

      3. Hekko*

        The Czech Republic: the first three days of sickness are unpaid, so the employer doesn’t need doctor’s note, but may require it (and usually does). Days 4 though 14 the employer pays a share of the employee’s salary. Days 15 and later the employee submits a form to get paid from state (the form is issued by the doctor as a part of the standard sickness note and the employee signs it and marks how the money should be paid) – this is again a share of the regular salary.

        This doesn’t come for free, of course, a big chunk of our salary goes to “insurance” that covers it. It’s called insurance, but it’s in reality a tax, the amount of money depends on how much you earn and not on how much you need it (our public health insurance works the same).

        Some companies started offering sick days on top of that, but it’s usually big international companies. But the legal framework doesn’t really encourage trust here.

      4. Violet Fox*

        Around here you have 3 self reported days (5 in flu season) in a row sick before you need a doctor’s note, but we also have a single payer health care system so the doctor’s visit is covered. If people are on any sort of extended sick leave, the government pays for them/for a temp if a temp is needed.

        I had a colleague who ended up being out 3 months with whooping cough and everything was just taken care of money wise for him and for where we work.

      1. Michele*

        It strikes me as rigid, bureaucratic, and pointless. The doctor doesn’t even see the patient but writes a note? Did I read that correctly?

        1. Lance*

          From the sound of things in this overall thread, it’s a house visit from the family doctor.

    1. Miso*

      Yeah, this is a perfect example of cultural differences.
      I’m from Germany and find half of the questions and laws (or rather absence of laws…) on here absolutely outrageous – but then again it’s absolutely normal to provide a doctor’s note when you’re sick. I’m not sure if there’s actually a law about it, but most employers want one from the third day on.
      I usually just go to the doctor on the first day though – because I usually need medicine anyway (hello, countless tonsillitises…), because I usually end up at home longer than two days and also because unfortunately I’ve been sick quite a lot since I started with this job, so I just feel better that everyone knows I’m legitimately sick. Especially because it happened so often that I’ve been sick directly before or after my vacation -.-
      Well, but then I also hadn’t heard of the concept of sick days before this blog. I mean, when you’re sick, you’re sick. The idea that you can only stay at home for so many days a year and after that you’re screwed absolutely horrifies me.

      1. Gadfly*

        I think most doctors in the US usually want one after a few days. It is when it is for the first day that it gets a bit harsh–especially if there isn’t sick leave, which often indicates a lower paying job and makes it a double burden of significant cost from lost wages and paying the doctor.

      2. Bwmn*

        Where I used to work – we had, I think, 17 sick days a year. At my office, two of those days required no note, but then every other sick day did require a note – no matter how many days it was for. But then I had friends at other organizations where they didn’t demand a sick note unless you were out for 3 days in a row – or were sick only on a Monday or Friday. So how exactly the laws were written, I’m not sure – regardless, the state healthcare system was fairly agile for this requirement that most employees faced some version of.

        I will also say, that when I did get a GP – I used to be yelled at quite often by him and my employer for not typically taking the recommended 3 days off written on the note. This ultimately led to one review coming along with the comment “you can be too American” – which I’ve always thought was fairly funny.

      3. Annie Moose*

        Well, it depends on the job. At my job, we have a limited number of paid sick days a year (40 days at this job!), but it’s not that we can’t take sick days off after that point–we just won’t get paid for them.

        1. ThatGirl*

          40? Is that real? That’s a lot of sick days! that’s more than most people get in PTO!

    2. Sherry*

      I think some Canadian provinces have passed laws forbidding employers from asking for doctor’s notes when an employee only missing one day of work, because it’s an unnecessary strain on the health care system.

      1. Tuckerman*

        Yes. I’ve seen comments from people in countries where the process is all done electronically, but that still takes up the doctor’s time. The doctor must carve out a portion of the day for this workflow, and cannot see patients during this time.

      2. Agnodike*

        I’m reasonably certain that that’s not the case but I’m not a lawyer and I only maintain clinical practice in one Canadian province.

    3. Bwmn*

      I used to work overseas with a similar but different system where sick days were expected to be certified by a GP as well. However, we were also given far more sick days than is typical in the US and sick notes were typically written for 3 days or more. Costs were also entirely different.

      That being said, because this system demanded far more interaction with my doctor if I was sick for just a day (food poisoning, sick on a Friday with all expectation to be back on Monday), I could call my doctor and say “hey, I’m out sick for a cold/food poisoning – but will be back tomorrow”, and provided I wasn’t abusing that, he’d be willing to write me the note.

      This was in a country with a state healthcare system and I do believe that ultimately the purpose was for people to have a more involved relationship with their doctor (as well as actually taking time off when needed). Unfortunately given how sick days and healthcare in the US work… really does become more of a burden….

    4. JustaTech*

      Even though that’s all paid for, I still can’t say I’m a fan of that. If I’ve been up all night throwing up the last thing I want to do is drag myself into the car and drive to the doctor, find parking, go in, say “I threw up all night and I need to sleep for the rest of the day” to get a note.
      Now, if you could call up and get a nurse or physician’s assistant dispatched to your house to verify that you are sick, then that would be fine. But getting up and going out when what I really need is sleep? That seems counterproductive on getting better.
      But hey, if the system works for your country, cool.

      1. silvertech*

        It has its faults, it really does, but I think it’s done this way because sick days are paid by a public agency (not by the employer, or only a part of it), so they need to make sure the sick days are legitimate, and yes, you can get a doctor to your place if you are too sick to go there. It’s actually part of a GP’s duties to do house calls anyway… if a GP refuses to do them, they can be heavily fined or worse.
        You’ll probably be horrified to know that the public agency (on its own or by request of your employer), send a doctor to your place to verify that you are actually sick. There are specific times of the day when you have to be home for this potential visits, and if you are not there, you’re SOL.
        The worse part is that this visits actually uncover a lot of people abusing the system by faking illnesses they don’t have, especially in the public sector.

        When it happened to me, the doctor came over and left me all the prescriptions I needed plus the note for my employer. Everything for free.

        Most of the faults lie in the actual software, I know it has plenty of issues. But I rather have this than go back to the old system, when you had to frickin’ mail the paper note to your employer. That sucked, because what if you had no one who could it for you?

  12. Myrin*

    Aha, #5 is very timely for me, although the details are a tad different!

    I’m one of the final candidates for a job that doesn’t have a fixed start date – the ad only said the position is to be filled “as soon as possible” and the interviewers asked me when I could start. Well, I have surgery on the 19th and will be signed off sick for ten days, which I told them, so I could start, well, after that. And one of them was like “Hmm, so the first would be a bit tight – maybe the 15th would be better?” and his colleague said “Well, it’s not like one month more or less would really matter!” and then they all kind of agreed that we’ll see and changed the topic.

    Now I’m wondering if, should I get the job, they will have decided on a start date on any paperwork already or if that’s still up for discussion. The thing is that because the state is involved, I will only find out if I actually made it at around the time of my surgery and I would have to move to another part of the country for this and I’d really love to have more than three days to decide on a flat and then actually move and all that stuff. They seemed very flexible and understanding and I can even imagine they’d allow me to work remotely for a couple of weeks/a month (the work actually lends itself to that) but ugh, the uncertainty is making me nervous!

    1. Michele*

      I would be very wary of a job that required a cross country move but needed you to start as soon as possible. I took a job like that once. The company was extremely disorganized and seemed to think that I was going to fix everything, which would have been way above my pay grade. They laid me off within a year and went out of business a few years later.

      1. Myrin*

        Ah, that was my bad for my translation sounding more dire in English than it does in German – the literal phrase was “zum nächstmöglichen Zeitpunkt” which is completely standard phrasing for positions that don’t have a fixed starting point (which this one doesn’t have, as can be seen by their “Who cares about one month, really?” comment). I also didn’t encounter any red flags during my communication and meeting with them. It’s also university-adjacent and paid for by the federal state and a nation-wide academy, so unless something really unexpected happens to my whole country, they’re not going to go out of business anytime soon. I appreciate the concern, though!

      2. hermit crab*

        I think there are two types of “as soon as possible” — it can be more like “OMG RIGHT NOW ASAP” or more like “we don’t have a fixed timeline, so the start date is as soon as the right person is available.”

        With very few exceptions, our positions don’t have a fixed start date, and we discuss possibilities at the final interview/verbal offer stages. Last summer, we filled an “as soon as possible” position, and the start date ended up being like a month and a half out from the offer letter.

    2. Jessesgirl72*

      Even if it’s on the paperwork, that can be changed. The OP already agreed to the date, but you haven’t. My husband actually had to shift his start date because of the move- and the long haul movers the company made us contract with.

      It also sounds like they already are more than willing to be flexible about it. Good luck on being the one they choose! And on the surgery!

      1. Lily Rowan*

        Yeah, good luck!

        And to add another piece of anecdata — I’ve definitely renegotiated my start date when I got the offer letter and saw they were assuming I would start two weeks from that date. And in my case, I just wanted some time in between jobs, not to do anything in particular. (I think my boss was a little annoyed, but it’s not like it poisoned our working relationship forever, because she is a reasonable human being.)

        1. Myrin*

          Thanks so much, Jessesgirl and Lily, that’s very good to hear! And thanks for the good wishes, both regarding the surgery and the job! :D

  13. uh*

    OP1 – I would say they are implying if you are not sick enough to require a doctor visit you are not sick enough to miss work so I think it is highly unlikely bringing it up will reflect favorably on you. I would say chances of getting reimbursed are non-existent.

    1. LilyPearl*

      It’s not unreasonable to point out to them that this isn’t the case, though. There are lots of self-limiting illnesses that don’t need a doctor’s input but would prevent someone working – gastroenteritis, viral respiratory infections and so on. If a patient told me they had diarrhoea I’d take their word for it – I can hardly do anything else. Not sure why an employer couldn’t do the same.

      1. Allie*

        I get migraines. Not much a doctor can do at the time (I have medication) but I do actually have significant trouble reading my computer during one. Given the primary care shortage in my area, I am glad my manager doesn’t require a note.

    2. Elfie*

      This is such a *stupid* idea though. I had flu about ten years ago, and it lasted ages. I lost a week somewhere, where I don’t remember getting out of bed. I certainly didn’t go to the doctor (and forget about house-calls, they don’t exist!). I was so definitely sick, but I couldn’t have made it in to the doctor if I wanted to. Eventually, after my self-certified period was up (as mentioned above, the first 7 days of absence), I was well enough to go to the doctor to get a sick note, but I wouldn’t have gone in otherwise. I know there’s nothing they can do for flu, so what’s the point in expending the limited energy I had for something otherwise useless?
      Also, I suffer quite a bit from gastro issues. I know what causes them (medication I’m on), and I know how to manage them, but sometimes (especially with a change in dose) I can’t leave home for fear of being too far away from a toilet. I’m definitely too sick to come in to work, but it’s pointless going to the doctor either, because they can’t do anything for me (OTC meds are usually enough, and as I said, close proximity to a toilet). If I’m in a healthy job, where working from home is fine, then I work from home. If I’m not, then I have to take a sick day (ExJob preferred that to working from home – go figure).
      So, TL;DR *stupid* policy. You can easily be too sick to work AND too sick to physically go to the doctor, or too sick to work with something that can’t be helped by a doctor.

    3. Agnodike*

      There are plenty of illnesses (colds, the flu, gastrointestinal viruses, and more), that can make you too sick to work effectively AND a public health risk. The appropriate treatment is to stay home in bed and there’s nothing a doctor can add to that recommendation. Seeing a doctor is a waste of your time and a waste of the doctor’s time, doesn’t support your recovery, and risks exposing other people to your contagious illness. Going to work, especially if you work in retail, increases the risk of making others sick. Requiring doctor’s notes for self-limiting illnesses is a terrible policy.

      It’s also worth noting that if you have, say, the flu, the chances are that most of the people you might infect by leaving your home to go to the doctor’s office will just be inconvenienced and miserable. But if you happen to accidentally cough on, say, an elderly person with COPD (and there are a lot of those in doctor’s offices at any given time!) the flu they contract from you might kill them. All so that your employer can feel comfortable that you’re not malingering.

      It’s also insulting to workers and to clinicians, and a waste of clinicians’ very limited time and expertise. Where is my time better spent: providing care to a patient I can actually help, or writing a note that says “Jane told me she is sick and I believe her”?

    4. aebhel*

      That’s ridiculous. If I have a nasty stomach bug, I’m absolutely not going to work, but there’s no reason to drive my vomiting carcass into a doctor’s office unless I’m actually becoming dehydrated or something. Illnesses can be disruptive without requiring a doctor’s care.

  14. MommyMD*

    When patients come to me requesting a one day off work order with a mild common cold because their employer ordered it, I offer them three days. Let employers who nitpick like this lose their employee for three days instead of the one single day they called off. It is a waste of the patient’s time and money and if my time I need to spend with truly sick person. These employers drive me crazy.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Absolutely agreed, but it sounds like OP would lose income if they stayed out longer b/c their employer doesn’t provide sick leave (!).

      But yes, it’s a dumb and crazy-making approach for addressing “problem behavior.”

      1. VioletEMT*

        Not only that, but IME, the employers who don’t provide sick leave and are draconian about doctor’s notes for a single sick day also do not offer health insurance, or only offer it to full-time staff and then keep most employees’ hours below the full-time threshold.

        Source: Worked for Best Buy, came in during Xmas season with pneumonia & laryngitis, had to go to the ER to get a doctor’s note for the one day I called off.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Absolutely agreed that there is a special level of hell for retailers with those kinds of policies (which sadly seems to be a lot of them).

        2. OP1*

          To be clear, it is the company as a whole that does not give people in my position sick leave. It is my district manager specifically who is asking that people in her district provide a doctor’s note.

    2. Freya UK*

      Yep; once a former (retail) employer demanded sicknotes for any illness during the World Cup – illegal here, we can self-certify for the first 7 days of sickness. My doctor was so disgusted with my employer he ‘upgraded’ my illness and told me to take more time off!

    3. Lablizard*

      That is exactly what booths me the most about requiring sick notes for routine illnesses. It wastes the patient’s time, the doctor’s time, money, and clogs up the healthcare system for no good reason, making it harder for people who actual need medical care to get it

    4. Sadsack*

      That is nice of you, but I would use as little of those three days as needed because my sick days come out of my very limited PTO.

    5. Temperance*

      THANK YOU. My high school job wanted sick notes for any illness, including on the weekend. Well, my doctor wasn’t open on the weekend, so I went to work while ill on more than one occasion.

    6. Engineer Woman*

      Not only a waste of patient’s time but their energy as well that could have been spent resting or sleeping at home to get better rather than now having to schlept their way to a doctor and wait with other patients from whom s/he can catch additional illnesses (since have weakened immune system now).

      One employer required doctors note for more than 1 day sick leave. Found out after I left work early (1/2 day sick leave) and then was not well enough to return next day. When I emailed in sick, HR informed me this exceeds the 1 day sick leave and hence should obtain sick note from doctor. For a cold/flu that just needed rest, warm liquids and a bit of time!

  15. cncx*

    re OP1, i worked for a company that had a good policy. they didn’t expect a doctor’s note until day three, and only enforced the doctors’ note for everything rule in the cases of proven absenteeism when the person was already on their radar for missing work- i only saw this enforced with someone who would do stuff like call in once a week. When they started asking for the doctor’s note on day one, the person was already about to be put on a PIP and fired anyway.

    on the flip side, i worked for one of those employers who were sticklers about one day one note, and the doctors in town knew who they were and usually offered us three days. i usually took the three with a clean conscience, because if i was going to waste a day i could have rested and gotten better in a doctor’s office, well then yeah, i do need to rest at some point.

  16. Katie the Fed*

    #2 – since you’re a staffing agency, I’d keep a close eye on him and make sure he’s not doing/saying anything inappropriate with client companies either. It sounds like he might not have the best judgment in terms of professionalism, so it’s something to keep an eye on.

    1. BethRA*

      I was thinking something similar, and that it might be helpful to HIM to bring it to his attention., and framing a conversation that way might feel less like a correction.

  17. Sheworkshardforthemoney*

    No. 3. With the parts of my job that I absolutely hated (anything to do with numbers) I always did a spectacularly accurate job. It was mainly because I hated the idea of having to do revisions or spend any more time on it that I had to. You can acknowledge her work with a few extra words of praise but nothing else is necessary. It was part of her job.

    1. JustaTech*

      This reminds me of one of the Little House books, where the author describes learning to sew buttonholes very quickly because she hates them (and then gets a job making buttonholes for a few weeks).
      If there’s a task I hate but it has to get done I’m going to figure out how to do it as fast and efficiently as possible so I spend as little time as possible on it and don’t have to re-do anything.

  18. Steve*

    I especially don’t get how an employer can think it’s justified to ask for a doctor’s note when they won’t pay sick leave. If you aren’t paying for the employee’s time you have no right to send them off to do errands for you that day.

      1. OP1*

        To be clear it is the district manager who wants a note, and I found out the next day this is because too many employees in the district are falsely calling in sick and we need to crack down.

        It is the company that does not provide sick days. We do technically have vacation pay, but the culture of our workplace is weird about it. Most people will never request their pay except one or twice a year (and some part timers forget they have it) but if you want to book a paid day off, you have to do it two weeks in advance and get approval from the District Manager.

    1. Mona Lisa*

      Totally agree, but this is reeeeeally common in retail. My store recently had our quarterly all-staff meeting, and one of the issues discussed was attendance policies. We get deducted 1/2 point every time we’re more than 3 minutes late and a full point for a no-show with a total of 6 points in the calendar year. Imagine my surprise when I learned that, if I can’t find coverage for my shift, I’m charged a full point for calling out sick! I’m pretty susceptible to colds, and I always thought the staff would appreciate me not coming in to infect every customer and co-worker. Apparently I was wrong.

    2. Temperance*

      This is so common in customer service jobs. The movie theater where I worked in high school, and the Denny’s where I worked in college, both required doctor’s notes. My high school doctor kept limited hours, so I couldn’t ever get in if I was actually sick (terrible, terrible doctor) and while in college, I didn’t have health insurance because I couldn’t afford it, so I was basically SOL.

  19. Madeleine Matilda*

    I think it is overkill to request a note for an absence of one day such as OP 1 had. Even an absence of a few days wouldn’t be something for which I would ask for a note. I have worked for the Fed for over two decades. HR policy is that for absences of more than 3 days we need a doctor’s note. I can only think of three instances in over 20 years where we requested a note. One was for my own extended absence (weeks not days) and the other two were for two of my staff who were out for months being treated for serious medical conditions. As their supervisor I asked for the note so that if anyone in HR or our admin office asked about their extended leave or our HR records were audited (yes, that happens) we were covered, not because I didn’t think they were serious ill and didn’t trust them to manage their own care.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I think if you get to 3 or more days, it makes sense to require a note because (a) that is a substantial amount of time and (b) I would assume there is a higher risk of them having something contagious and I want to make sure they aren’t going to infect my entire staff.

      But a doctor’s note for a one day stomach bug or cold is ridiculous.

      1. OP1*

        Originally the policy was three days and you have to have a note. I found out the day after submitting this letter that the problem is too many employees have been falsely calling out sick, and they need to crack down. I just happened to be the lucky first person who called out after the rule came in effect.

  20. Project Manager*

    #4 – It irritates me when people send new emails on the same subject, because I group my emails by conversation in Outlook. But I wouldn’t hold it against someone because I’m aware it’s a personal preference. As someone suggested upthread, use a descriptive subject line (“Wakeen Smith Interview – Thanks!” rather than just “thank you” which could be from anyone about anything), and that should take care of people like me.

    (Flashing back to a non-work email chain with someone who insisted on changing the subject line every email and always changed it to something cutesy that had nothing to do with the actual topic at hand. That was annoying.)

    (Also, am I the only one who loves when email subjects clearly indicate the topic and type (info, action, question) of the email?)

    1. Myrin*

      If you don’t mind indulging my curiosity, what on earth did she change the subject line to that made it “cutesy”? In a work context?!

      1. Project Manager*

        It wasn’t work. I couldn’t remember the details, so I dug it up. It wasn’t as bad as I remembered – he just kept changing the subject line to refer to different aspects of the same conversation. It was a discussion about how Christians (which we both are) can/should best strive to overcome common temptations, so he was making the subject lines things like “sex, drugs, and alcohol…” then the next email was something like “the dangers of pride…” and so on. It was annoying me because I wanted to look back at previous emails to inform the discussion and kept having to go back to my inbox rather than simply expand the previous email in the thread.

    2. One of the Annes*

      No, you’re not the only one. A big pet peeve of mine is people who use “question” as the subject line. Grrrr.

      1. Drama Llama's Mama*

        Even better is the subject line “Quick Question”. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.

      2. S-Mart*

        I get “Hi” as the subject line from one person on about 2/3 of her emails. So helpful.

      3. Not Alison*

        At my former employer the e-mail system allowed the recipient to change the subject line. The ability to do that was great. The current system doesn’t allow change. Too bad.

    3. Michele*

      Once in a while I will see an email where the subject line is Re:
      That’s it. They don’t tell me re what. It is very annoying.

      1. LQ*

        I think those are replies to emails with blank subjects, at least that’s how I’ve seen them show up.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Oh my god, no. Use your subject lines people. That’s what they’re there for!!!

    5. KarenK*

      I’ve got one doctor who never puts anything in the subject of an email. It’s hella-annoying. I’ve gotten on him about it, but it does no good.

    6. AnonyMeow*

      What irritates me is when people send new emails and not respond to all the questions/comments in the original email I sent them. Then I have to dig up my sent email to figure out which part(s) I still need to follow up with them on. This isn’t even about threading email conversations; it’s more about having easy access to the relevant discussions that have been happening prior. I work with a couple of client managers who do this, and it drives me nuts–but it’s such a small thing I don’t feel like bringing it up with them… Ugh.

      That said, like everyone else, I don’t think it matters in the OP#4’s context, since it doesn’t sound like the email conversation contains significant discussion with lots of details.

    7. Solidus Pilcrow*

      One former co-worker, instead of typing in the recipient’s address, would dig up a random email from the person and reply to it and start a “new” message. Ok, a bit inefficient, but whatever works for you, I guess. Except they wouldn’t change the subject of the original message. So you would get a message with URGENT ISSUE WITH TPS REPORT PROJECT as a subject line when the content was about lunch plans. Or worse, you’d get a message with the subject line of “how was your vacation?” but the content was about them urgently needing the latest spec to bring to a stakeholder meeting in 15 minutes.

      1. Jessesgirl72*

        I am on a board with a couple people who do that, and it DRIVES ME NUTS. The one is older and I think literally doesn’t know how to set up a contact group, so if she has to send in a report to everyone, she piggybacks off usually one of my old emails- doesn’t change the subject line, and it can be a month old email chain.

        The other one is the same age as I am and currently working in STEM in a professional environment, and has to no such excuse. I bet he drives his coworkers insane.

    8. Project Manager*

      Totally agree with all of y’all. And how about the coworker who marks every single one of their messages important, even if it’s about lunch? I have one of those (thankfully only one).

  21. Murphy*

    #4 I thought this was going to be about new thread/continuing thread on emails in general, not with an interview contact.

    I manage one internal listerv, and typically end up distributing announcements to several listervs. I constantly have people responding to those emails with random questions that have nothing to do with the announcement that I sent out, or even the types of announcement that I send out. It drives me crazy, and I would much rather they send a new email.

    1. Bork*

      Same. Thought it was going to be more general…in which case, no do not start a new thread!

      A few of my providers have started new chains randomly and it is beyond annoying. I have no reference point to what the f you’re talking about!

  22. hbc*

    OP1: Gross. It sounds like the district manager asked for a note because s/he was inconvenienced by the OP’s manager not being able to go on a trip. There’s simply no reason to believe that a solid worker would choose to play hooky at the most inconvenient time for their manager. Absent extenuating circumstances (OP had tried to schedule vacation that day, it was the day after Thanksgiving, etc), you have to default to trusting them.

    1. OP1*

      First off, this wasn’t a punishment for inconveniencing her as it really wasn’t all that inconvenient. She has a rota of managers she takes on thses trips, it was my manager’s turn and so she just went to the next person on the list.

      Also, this was a trip for the day *after* I called in sick. I worked the day of the trip. They just needed to figure out if I was going to be sick the next day and my manager had to stay behind. Turns out the assistant manager called in sick the next day (there’s a cold going around the store) and my manager had to stay back from the trio anyway.

      I actually found out the day after I submitted this letter that this is a district wide rule my DM is enforcing. Too many people have been falsely calling out sick, and she needs to crack down. Who knows if this will even last. There’s already been compliants from multiple employees about this. I know I’ll be chatting with her about it the next time I see her.

      1. Zombii*

        You are being really confrontational with people throughout all the threads relating to your letter, criticizing them for not knowing information they couldn’t have had.

        You are also defending your DM’s poorly-implemented policy as if it might actually work the way she intends it. I understand she’s your friend and you’re going to chat about it next time you two hang out, but no one here knows her and this isn’t personal: commenters here will call out shitty policies. Alison has taught us at least that much.

  23. always in email jail*

    Your local health department may be willing to write a pretty generic letter to your employer outlining why this is not a great policy. They of course have no authority to tell your company what to do, but do have room to say “they encourage employers to develop policies that encourage employees to stay home when sick to avoid spreading illness in the community”. They may not be willing to, and it may not have any effect, but it could help your case.

    1. WS*

      Eh, this really depends on where you live and what sort of employer you work for. With retail (especially if it’s a larger chain) you’re unlikely to change the company policy with a letter from the local health department, and bringing in something like that to the manager or DM might just get a “WTF?” reaction and make it harder to get reimbursed. I’d let the policy thing go, at least for now, and just use Alison’s language to ask for reimbursement.

  24. Michele*

    I have had people delay their start date by a week or more, and it has never bothered me. However, we were always recruiting those people from out of town, and sometimes there are issues with movers or a kid’s school. It might depend on the type of job or position that you are applying for, but I would ask.

  25. Emi.*

    I’m curious: how many people here take off work for colds (not the flu) and what do you do while you’re off? Do you actually stay in bed? Does that make you recover faster? How much faster? If I took off for colds, I’d miss 1-2 weeks at least four times a year, which seems insane, but if staying in bed actually gets you through it in a couple days, I might try it.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      If I take off the first day that I’m starting to feel really ill and sleep, I generally recover faster than if I push myself to work through the duration. For me, if I take a day off for something like a cold, it’s more of a preventative measure to keep it from getting out of control. Success rates vary.

      1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

        I am the same – I won’t take the whole cold off, but I do take off the first day or two of feeling crummy and (I believe) it helps me push through the really ugly part of the cold faster. If I can chain with a weekend, all the better. I don’t usually stay in bed, but I will sleep in, take a nap or two, drink giant pots of tea and basically just take it easy.

        I also work in a very closely packed open office, so I feel like trying to stay away when I’m actively sneezing and wheezing is me doing my part not to spread illness among the team, especially since I can afford not to work full time (we do not have PTO but can basically take unpaid days off whenever we want). I’ve been sick a lot this year, which is a drag, but what are you gonna do?

        1. Emi.*

          Can you give me a sense of what “really crummy” and “really ugly” mean? Maybe my colds are just extra mild–they tend to top out at “inconveniently sniffy.”

          1. MegaMoose, Esq.*

            Well I took a couple of days off this week because I was sneezing regularly, my eyes and nose were running, and I felt achy enough that it was hard to move without groaning. Also I was getting winded on the stairs. Generally it’s “bad enough” for me if I don’t think I can hide it from the people around me. Although if it’s just a voice thing or if I’m snifflier than normal I usually go to work.

          2. Detective Amy Santiago*

            I think that varies from person to person. A month or two ago, I was feeling a general sort of malaise. Nothing specific, but just not well. I ended up leaving work early and sleeping for 3 hours in the afternoon. After dinner, I watched some Netflix, and then I ended up sleeping for about 10 hours that night. The next day, I felt fine. It’s really about listening to your body’s cues. I clearly needed some extra rest at that point for whatever reason.

          3. Solidus Pilcrow*

            For me, “really ugly” usually means I’m not getting work done anyway.

            One time I got the flu (it was making the rounds) and spiked a fever at work with chills. Since I was only sitting there and shivering, I may as well do that at home in my bed. And I did mostly stay in bed for 4 days.

            Another time I had a nasty cough, like a solid 10 minutes of hacking and 30 minutes of gasping to recover, followed by another 15 minutes of hacking nasty. I’m sure all of my co-workers appreciated me staying home and not spreading that crud around. Again, not getting any work done. Pretty much kept to the couch and drank lot’s of TheraFlu.

            Just so you know, these illnesses were 10 years apart. Most years I only get minor colds and don’t take any time off, but when I do get a nasty one, it lays me out.

          4. Turtlewings*

            You’re lucky! The first few days (especially the 2nd and 3rd days) of a bad cold tend to leave me just feeling generally terrible. Exhausted, achy, foggy-brained, probably on the verge of tears for no reason. If I have sick days, I flippin’ take them. Giving yourself a day or two to sleep a lot, drink hot things, and load up on cold medicine without worrying about whether you’re safe to drive, etc., does a world of good, in my experience.

            1. MegaMoose, Esq*

              Yes to the stupid second and third days being the worst. I’ve gotten into the pattern of feeling just a little bit off the first day, which at least is warning that the next couple of days are going to stink. I’ve been getting more bad colds than usual this winter too – I think this week was number five or six. I get really emotional as well if I try and push it too hard.

          5. OP1*

            For me, I call out if I know I’m not going to be able to be on my feet all day, and if I’ll spend most of the day in the bathroom (throwing up, coughing up phelgm, and other lovely things you don’t want to see someone do on a salesforce.)

        2. Erin*

          The thing about colds is you feel okay doing little tasks around the house like catching up on laundry but when you leave the house and have to do work you’re miserable. At least with me anyway.

    2. S-Mart*

      I do. Usually one day off at the beginning, resting in bed/on the couch, gets me over the brunt of it (80-90% recovered by the next morning). I go to work the second day, and I’m fully recovered by day three. I’ve only been sick for more than 2 days something like 3 times in my adult life.

      Having said that… I’m currently suffering through a cold where the aforementioned did NOT work. Typical for me one day out at the beginning, but I’m on like day 10 and it’s not quite over. It’s the longest (but not worst) I’ve ever been sick as an adult.

    3. Mona Lisa*

      I grew up with a mother whose MO was, “You’re going to go to school and try no matter how sick you feel. If you’re not feeling better, I’ll pick you up later.” In adulthood, I’m slowly learning that, if I stay home for a couple of days at the beginning of the cold, I tend to recover more quickly. I usually stay in bed, on the couch, or in the steam-filled bathroom and drift in and out of sleep between Netflix binging and reading. The last cold I had was milder than others, but on the first day, I spent six hours lying in bed in this manner and was able to go the rest of the week mostly as normal.

      1. Temperance*

        My mother had the rule that you had to be actively puking or have a fever, so in my head, that’s when you stay home. As an adult, if I start getting bronchitis, I stay home. Otherwise, as when I was a child, I end up sick for weeks instead of days.

        1. Allison*

          Yup, my mom didn’t think a cold was “bad” enough to miss school, in school our handbook specifically said that a cold was not a good enough reason to miss school. You had to stay home within 24 hours of a fever, and 12 hours of vomiting or diarrhea, but if kids missed school for every cold they would miss too much school.

          The difference is that if you miss work, you fall behind and need to catch up, but if you miss a class, you missed that class, and need to get the notes to make sure you didn’t miss important information, which is arguably trickier unless you have close friends in all your classes who also happen to be amazing note-takers.

      2. Anonygoose*

        Ugh! I have friends who are teachers and they get sick ALL THE TIME… precisely because of the parents who send their kids to school when they are quite obviously sick. Why do people do this?

        1. Annie Moose*

          Heh, my sister’s an elementary school teacher. We always had excellent health as kids, but the year she started teaching? She got the flu like three times.

          On the plus side, I figure she’s gonna have the most amazing immune system by the time she retires…

        2. Squeeble*

          Lots of reasons, but I remember sometimes going to school sick because there was such a stigma around being absent, whether excused or unexcused. Sometimes kids got awards at the end of the year if they didn’t have any absences on their record. It was a bit much.

      3. Hlyssande*

        My mom did the same thing, and unfortunately it sticks with me to this day. There was a time in junior high when I had something or other that resulted in multiple instances of coughing until I puked. And I went home multiple days in a row from it, much to the nurse’s frustration.

    4. Rebecca*

      I usually contract a bad head cold once per year, as in, I can’t breathe, I sneeze a lot, runny eyes, that type of thing. I usually medicate with Sudafed, lots of liquids, Afrin nasal spray, and I tough it out. BUT. I sneeze into my elbow, use Clorox wipes on my desk, keyboard, phone, office door handle, and when I get coffee, I use a clean napkin to grip the pot handle. Ditto bathroom doors, and I wash my hands a lot.

      The only time I stay home is if I have a fever, because obviously I’m brewing something awful, or a few weeks ago when I woke up weak and dizzy, which devolved into vomiting and diarrhea.

      I need to add, if I called my doctor’s office to tell them I needed an excuse for missing a day due to vomiting and diarrhea, when a norovirus was making the rounds, they would tell me no, and not to come to the office and spread it to their other patients.

      1. Mona Lisa*

        So interesting how this varies from person to person! If I only stayed home when I had a fever, I would never take a sick day. I have so many horror stories of people not believing in the severity of my illnesses because they weren’t accompanied by a fever. (Example: Strep throat developed into scarlet fever when I was a toddler because, even though I kept complaining my throat hurt, my mother didn’t realize how sick I was because I never had a fever.I had scarlet fever without the fever!)

        1. Biff*

          Conversely, if I stayed home whenever I had a fever, I’d be out a lot more often. It takes NOTHING for me to run a fever.

      2. Anonygoose*

        See, I don’t get sick often, so I stay home with a bad cold with no guilt. I think I’m a little like Typhoid Mary – I may have a bad cold but feel fine enough to work, but somehow I get EVERYONE else horribly ill and they will need to take several days off. I figure it’s better for me to stay home and self-medicate for one day, than for 5 people to need to be off for 3 days.

        However, if I had the option to work from home I would do that instead.

    5. ThatGirl*

      If it’s really bad (super stuffed up, lots of nose blowing, feeling lousy) I may not literally stay in bed, but I will sleep later or nap frequently and spend most of the day lounging in comfy clothes and drinking tea/orange juice/etc. I’ve done half-day work from home when I felt like I could accomplish some things but didn’t have a whole day of concentration in me. Usually taking a day or two off at the beginning of a bad cold helps me recover faster and feel more up for work after the worst has passed.

    6. Allison*

      Depends on how bad it is. If it’s mild and I just need to isolate myself, sleep in a little and take a nap in the afternoon, I’ll just work from home, but sometimes it is bad enough to take a sick day to stay in bed. I don’t sleep the whole time, sometimes I’m watching TV or mindlessly browsing the internet on my tablet, but I’m taking it easy, and often drifting in and out of consciousness.

    7. NP*

      Depends on the cold. I’ve had some that were just a bit of congestion, sneezing, and coughing, but I mostly felt ok. Other colds have involved a continuous runny nose that needed to be blown every 5-10 minutes (really, really gross to go into the office where I’ll be touching things and sitting in meetings), coughing that turns into bronchitis (painful and annoying to everyone else), or a general lousy/exhausted feeling that makes concentrating at work pretty difficult and just makes me want to sleep. I’ll just go to work with the first type of cold, but the second type I’ll work from home or take off a day or two to sleep. If my body is telling me to sleep for 12+ hours, I’m going to do that. I’m not sure I actually recover faster, but overall it’s better not to go to work when I’m feeling that crummy and also clearly spreading cold germs all over.

    8. BananaPants*

      I don’t. I find that colds/upper respiratory bugs are usually pretty minor – limited or no fever, just a cough, postnasal drip, etc. I’ve found that resting really doesn’t help me feel better any quicker. I work pretty independently and have my own cube at work, and if I’m sick I won’t go to meetings in conference rooms to avoid exposing coworkers – I’ll dial in from my desk or I’ll work from home.

      We have two kids, who each came down with every upper respiratory virus under the sun in their first year or so in daycare, and we caught everything they brought home. It sucked for those periods of time but if I actually called out every time I had a cold, I would have missed weeks of work in the winter. Consequently my immune system is pretty outstanding now – it’s rare for me to catch colds, maybe once a year.

    9. Yeah I'm Commenting!!*

      I just asked this exact same question to my husband! A couple weeks ago, both he and I came down with a cold that I (he got over it) am still dealing with. He’s in the military and can’t really just take off for a cold and I am not in position where it would really work out for me to do it either. Actually, I have never been in a position where I felt comfortable just calling in sick. I was wondering if staying home actually worked because I have been sick for at least 3 weeks at this point and I’m over it!

    10. JustaTech*

      Like a lot of people’ve said, it depends on how sick I feel. Super tired, sore throat, congested, coughing? I’ll stay home and attach myself to the couch and watch dumb TV or read a book, drown myself in tea with honey (hydration!) take medication as needed and nap as much as the cat will let me.
      One of the things I learned in college was that taking one day off to sleep hard usually reduced the duration of the sickness by enough to be worth missing class.
      I’ve also got a ton of sick leave (as mandated by my city) and my coworker one cube over is immunocompromised and so will tell me point blank to go home before I get her sick.

    11. Lissa*

      This is so interesting for me to read as a thread! I commented on a post here months ago about how I didn’t take off for colds and neither did my friends, and the consensus was basically that I was being really inconsiderate, and one person even said they were glad not to be in my social circle! I made the same comment as you, that I know some people who would miss a ton of work for that.

      Anyway, I am lucky and rarely get sick, and I don’t really work a job where I can easily call in sick if I wake up ill the day of, so I don’t call in with colds, and haven’t called in with anything in this job. My last job was food service so I would call in for the first day or two of a cold if I was actively gross (which happened maybe 3 times in a decade) then take dayquil for the rest of it. But again, I’m lucky and my colds tend to be very mild, as it sounds like yours are too. I think everyone should be allowed to make their own decisions about how sick they are, within reason of course.

  26. Dave*

    OP#3. I think it’d also be important to address the reason for why your report doesn’t like the job duty/project. She says she doesn’t think it’s her responsibility, and I’m not trying to second guess your understanding of the situation. However, could it be she thinks it’s unnecessary, redundant, too time-consuming…. etc? Or maybe she thinks she’s not good at it?

    1. Zathras*

      This is a good point. Also, make sure this is not the hot potato task that no one likes and everyone but Karen is shirking. It’s really obnoxious to end up with all the scut work because you are the only team member conscientious enough to do it when asked, while everyone else is just ignoring it with no consequences. (It’s also something that I’ve seen happen disproportionately to women, although definitely not exclusively to women.)

      As a manager it’s your prerogative to assign a task to a person, and you generally want to choose the person who will do the best job. But when it’s a task that no one wants, it’s important to make sure that you aren’t rewarding people who are doing it badly or shirking it on purpose.

      1. OP3*

        Nope – not redundant or unnecessary – absolutely critical – and everyone in her type of position does it.

    2. Koko*

      I had to admit I rolled my eyes at her thinking OP has “dumped my work on her in an effort to not have to do it myself.”

      Well, yes. That’s what delegation is. Why do something yourself if a lower-paid person is qualified to do it?

  27. OP#2*

    The day that I wrote to Alison, this happened three times in less than four hours, which is what prompted my letter. At that point, I was basically not acknowledging what he said at all and hoping he would stop on his own. It hasn’t happened again since then, so I’m not sure if he got the hint, or if now that he’s working, he doesn’t feel it’s necessary.

    The nature of the work is cyclical, so it’s possible that he’ll be laid off again when they finish glazing this batch of teapots until they get in another large shipment (which is the whole reason they use temps). If the same pattern of effusive thanks happens again, I will definitely try Alison’s scripts!

    1. Lissa*

      Sounds like maybe he was feeling particularly emotional (I can understand that feeling of finally getting a job etc.) that one day, and might’ve later been embarrassed and realized it came off weird. Good luck to you and him!

  28. Recruit-o-rama*


    Moving start dates around by a week or two is a fairly regular part of my job; people have lives and starting a new job, moving, etc.. and reasonable employers understand this.

    If you do decide to do this, do NOT do that thing where you call up and give every single detail and over explain, that’s annoying and sounds needy. Alison’s script is the right one, and is not something we would even blink an eye at, we would just say yes. Once we’ve made a decision and closed out the post and hiring process, etc.. no one wants to rescind and start over over a week or two. This is a much bigger deal in the mind of new hires than it is in the minds of employers.

    Just my two cents from the trecnches.

  29. Grey*

    #1: If you’re close with the DM and she absolutely believes that you’re sick, why does she still need a doctor’s note? Maybe it’s just a company policy and has nothing to do with the trip?

    1. OP1*

      Bingo! Finally someone got it! Yeah, I found out the day I went back to work that too many people in the district have been falsely calling in sick and so the DM decided to crack down.

      Ironically I’m also the letter writer who submitted the question about her DM living in the same apartment building. When my manager told me I needed to get a note for DM, I was tempted to ask if I could just go upstairs to her apartment and say “See. I’m sick. Can I go back to bed now?”

  30. MegaMoose, Esq.*

    For #4, I think the only thing that might raise an eyebrow would be if you are starting new emails for direct responses, so if they email you to ask when you can interview, and you start a new email for your answer instead of just hitting reply. I still don’t think it would matter, but it would look weird and maybe make me a little curious about their comfort level with technology. However, it does not sound like that’s what you’re doing.

  31. ZSD*

    #1 There are at least a couple jurisdictions, though I’m frustratingly having trouble looking up which ones right now, that require employers to reimburse employees for any cost they incur (over $10, over $5, etc.) in getting the doctor’s note if the only reason the employee went to the doctor was to get the note for their employer.
    However, those jurisdictions generally also only allow employers to require a doctor’s note after three consecutive days of sick time use, so you probably don’t live in one of them.
    I’m sorry that I can’t remember or find info on which jurisdictions this is. Darnit.

    1. fposte*

      It looks like Massachusetts and NYC may have the “can’t require doctor’s note before 3 days” rule in their sick leave laws, but I didn’t find anything about reimbursement for cost. (I didn’t look that hard, so feel free to dig more on those if you think they might have been it.)

      1. Kyrielle*

        A little poking around suggests – perhaps not surprisingly – that requiring the doctor’s note may run afoul of the law in California.

        (I mean, isn’t it always California? *grins*)

        Specifically, for the “protected” sick leave (and what that means depends in part on how the company policy is phrased, but it has to be at least three days/24 hours apparently), the employer cannot interfere with/penalize an employee taking it, and having to get a doctor’s note (especially if it cost money!) could be construed to fall into that. The law doesn’t specifically address doctor’s notes, but sort of by side effect does potentially.

        Or so the page I found seems to say.

        1. fposte*

          That might be the page I found too–I looked specifically for California, Massachusetts, and NY because I figured they were the likeliest suspects. California seemed more equivocal about it so I stuck to the ones where it was explicit.

          1. Kyrielle*

            Hah, found it! Also Oregon:

   search on ‘medical verification’.

            Only after three days out, or the employer has sufficient evidence to suspect a pattern of abuse for that employee, or a couple other reasons. And the employer must reimburse any fee the doctor charged for getting the note.

            I was a little surprised Oregon didn’t turn up in my first search – we’re not quite California, but we’ve still got better-than-usual protections in general.

    2. ZSD*

      Oh yeah, most of the jurisdictions with paid sick days laws do have that provision that a doctor’s note can’t be required for less than three days’ absence. It’s only one or two of them that provide for the reimbursement of cost, though. I was thinking it might be Vermont or Seattle, but I’m not seeing it in those laws. I don’t know why my brain isn’t retrieving this info right now.

    3. OP1*

      I’m in Canada. You would think the whole free healthcare thing would cover doctor’s notes, but they decided to change that I think back in 2008. Though I did look it up for my province and the health board has recently made a bunch of statements basically saying getting doctor’s notes for your employer is stupid and impractical.

  32. AndersonDarling*

    My co-worker successfully expensed a doctor’s note. She only needed two days off for minor surgery and even though she had tons of PTO, HR required her to go on FMLA for it. (We have since learned that FMLA is the employee’s choice, not the employer’s.) Since she had to get a note for the FMLA paperwork, she expensed the cost and was reimbursed.

    1. fposte*

      Just to be clear, that would have to be your workplace that gives the employees that choice; the law very much does not. The law is absolutely behind employers who require all qualified leave to be FMLA.

      1. fposte*

        To be even clearer, since I just ran into this: if it’s paid leave, the employer has to have a policy of requiring FMLA to be taken concurrently; they can’t just tell Fergus he has to and Bob he doesn’t. If there’s no official policy, then it *is* up to the employee. Which is why it’s strongly recommended that workplaces have an official policy :-).

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Good to know! In our case, there was no policy about FMLA. But when I had my wisdom teeth pulled, I kept it a secret so I didn’t get swept up in a FMAL mess. I’d like to save FMLA for a major situation.

  33. Human Remorses*

    OP #2
    I throw “I love you” around like nothing.
    You held the door for me when I was carrying coffee? “omg I love you!”

    Why do you really feel uncomfortable? You know he is grateful and not hitting on you. You know he’s not white-collar professional and bringing him up would deflate his happiness.

    1. Temperance*

      It’s strange and inappropriate, though, and if he’s acting this way on assignment, it could be impacting his prospects. It’s making LW2 uncomfortable, and I don’t think we should minimize that.

      I think it might be a good thing to “deflate his happiness” if it’s impeding his job search. I wouldn’t be excited to work to help someone who made me uncomfortable.

      1. Michele*

        I was thinking that, too. It would be kind to let him know that some people could be put off by that and find “I love you” to be inappropriate. If he is looking for work, rubbing people the wrong way isn’t going to help.

    2. Squeeble*

      She knows why he says it, but it’s fine that she feels uncomfortable regardless. I would, too, if this were happening to me at the frequency the OP describes. It’s not the worst offense, but perfectly acceptable for her to kindly shut it down.

    3. General Ginger*

      He is definitely not doing himself any favors with this verbiage, though. If he’s saying it to OP so often, is he also doing so in his placements? The OP might not be uncomfortable (though it really seems like she’s getting there), but the potential for it creeping out others is definitely there, and this guy should know that.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      You know he’s not white-collar professional and bringing him up would deflate his happiness.

      Blue collar doesn’t mean you can’t change your behavior if you see it’s upsetting someone. It’s clearly “deflat[ing]” the OP’s “happiness,” so why can’t the OP speak up about it?

    5. emma2*

      Frequently throwing around “I love you” is something a lot of people find over-the-top, if not strange. It’s considered downright unprofessional in a white-collar office setting. Tbh, if I were OP 2, I wouldn’t have the balls to confront him about it, just because it would be such a personal criticism. But if you frame it as “This is a better way to professionally communicate”, it could work.

  34. Temperance*

    My workplace requires a note only if you have a contagious disease, like norovirus or the actual flu, because they want to certify that you aren’t going to infect others. I think this is really reasonable, especially after one department had a noro outbreak last year.

  35. Nan*

    We don’t require any medical info, unless you’re applying for FMLA, which is another can o’ worms. Asking for a doctor’s note is invasive. If I’m home with the tummy monkeys spewing from all ends, the last thing I want to do is haul myself to the doctor’s office and spread my funk all around their office and around town. Also, a doc visit sets me back $78, due to our health plan not kicking in until we met the deductible.

    So, yeah, if you force me out of my house while I’m sick AND make me spend almost $100, I’m going to ask for it back. And if I’m being really pissy about it, I’d ask for work related mileage to and from the doc’s office, too. I wouldn’t recommend that, but if I was in a mood, I’d do it.

  36. Lady Julian*

    OP3: While I can see how public complimenting is over the top, a private thank you wouldn’t be amiss.

    I’ve been stuck with work I disliked (a weekend work event scheduled the day my parents were visiting from out of town), and I complained about it & made several efforts to get out of it (seeing if a colleague could take my role, etc). When that didn’t work, I sucked it up and went and did a good job. My boss later thanked me, saying she knew I gave up personal time with family to be here. It meant a lot, and it’s actually made me more willing to chip in cheerfully on similar projects since then.

  37. WS*

    OP #1 It’s worth asking for reimbursement, but given my experience with working retail management I don’t think it’s likely to be successful. If you do try I’d definitely be careful about who you ask. If you work for a large chain (or just a company where they’re prickly about hierarchy) make sure you’re asking the right person. That might be the DM, since they asked for the note and you said you’re close to them, but if you’re not a full-on manager you might want to check in with your manager first to see who to ask about it. At least in the stores where I worked going directly to HR or management beyond your DM would have been a major escalation of the situation and a pretty big cultural misstep.

    Also, the phrasing of your question now has me curious- it seems like you only needed the note because your manager HAD to tell the DM, yes? Does your manager not generally require doctors notes herself? If that’s the case, and if you don’t usually have to inform the DM when you’re out sick, I wouldn’t waste time or energy trying to change the entire policy unless your company has an easy way of soliciting feedback from employees. (Although, please, make sure your non-management employees don’t need doctors notes when they’re out sick too!)

    1. OP1*

      It turns out that the DM has implemented this new rule because too many employees in the district have been falsely calling out sick and she needs to crack down on the issue. My manager only found out about this rule change from the phone call (no official memo has been sent out about it yet) and I happened to be the lucky first victim.

      There’s a cold going around the store, and a girl who called out sick the day after me had to get one too. This is not going over well with the employees. Originally the rule was three days, and we are not happy that it’s down to one because of what employees in other locations are doing.

      1. Zombii*

        Wait, what? This bullshit policy isn’t even supposed to correct a problem within your store, it’s supposed to correct a problem within other stores in your district?

        I know you really want that corporate office job, but a company that promotes a DM who thinks like this isn’t likely to have a better environment in their corporate offices.

  38. I'm Not Phyllis*

    OP 1, my employer does reimburse for up to $20 of a doctor’s note (which is normally what they cost around here) so it is possible to have a policy like that, but this is the first place I’ve worked at where it’s been a thing. I personally hate the idea of sick notes … for employees who don’t have an attendance issue it’s annoying, and for those with an attendance problem it should be dealt with in another way. I don’t know about all doctors, but if I go in and tell mine I’m not feeling well he’ll give me a doctor’s note, so they don’t actually tell you anything. The only time I understand the need for them is when requesting accommodation (sometimes), or when going on long or short-term disability. But my employer does still require them after three days away, so at least the fact that they’re shouldering the cost makes it a bit easier for staff.

    1. TootsNYC*

      after three days doesn’t bother me as much; I feel like most viruses start to clear by day 3. My own rule is that if I’m not seeing some improvement by day 3, I go to the doctor, because a cold may have turned into an infection, e.g.

      So at day 3 I think it’s less “prove to me you’re not lying” and more “we want to be sure you’re actually getting medical help, because 3 days is getting to be serious.”

  39. MommyMD*

    I would start the job on the agreed date. Nothing positive can be construed about you by asking to delay, but it can certainly lead to negative feeling about you even if new employer does not express it. Life is tough and busy and sometimes overwhelming but you made a commitment.

  40. TootsNYC*

    On #3, great work on a project she hated:

    Don’t say this: “I’m especially grateful”

    Say, “We especially noticed” and “it really shows your professionalism, and we noticed.”
    Maybe, “Your work on this is the sort of thing you should put on your list of accomplishments”
    And maybe even, “We both know that you really disliked this assignment, and yet you did the best job on it that anyone has ever done. That really shows your professionalism and can only help your reputation.”

    Don’t make it be about personal gratitude. Draw a direct line between her great job and any professional reputation/benefit.
    She didn’t do it as a favor to you; she did it because she had to, and because she saw the professional danger she was in. If she hated the job that badly, and if she let that draw her into such unprofessional behavior that she actually had to be spoken to about that attitude, then she knew that this was a serious situation. So it really was a PROFESSIONAL accomplishment. And she should benefit from it. The positive reinforcement in a situation like this is often the one that’s the most powerful. But I would say keep it in the same realm. Not gratitude; admiration and praise.

    I hope you noticed the “we”–be sure that anyone who might have heard any inkling about her discontent ALSO now hears about the great job she did.

    About the most personal I’d get would be to say, “I think you deserve to be really proud of the outcome here–this is totally due to your skill and diligent and fresh way of thinking. I know it wasn’t your favorite project, but you should be really proud of the end result.”

    1. OP3*

      OP here – I love the last comment – if she has this same difficulty when this task comes up again, (I have already informed her that she did a great job), then I can refer back to how well she did this time and use your quote. Thanks!
      What I have also gathered from folks was that I failed to include a “we” statement so she knows that I have informed our director about how well she completed it (which I did).

  41. INFJ*

    #2 I love (see what I did there) the last part of Alison’s script for opting to point it out: “I know you’re a nice guy and wouldn’t want that.” It shows that you don’t think he’s creepy: you just don’t like his phrasing. (It’s not you, it’s me!)

  42. Office Manager*

    Speaking as someone, who’s office voicemail greeting ended with “Thanks, love you, bye!” for YEARS (because no one told me it said that), the “I love you” may be an reflexive reaction. I’m guilty of it- it’s my way of being effusively thankful. And I also say “love you” at the end of most phone conversations, hence the office voicemail greeting. It’s just something I say.

    1. Allison*

      I’ve said it before as a reflex. One time, leaving the apartment a guy I was dating, but not “serious with” yet, I kissed him on the check and went “love ya!” before heading out. I realized what I’d did right before I got to the door and wanted to die!

      And a couple months ago, I went to kiss my boyfriend “goodbye” and got out “I lllll” before stopping myself. We’re not there yet either . . . he said nothing about it later so I’m hoping he just heard me making some weird, drunk, mumbly noise and it wasn’t apparent what I almost said.

  43. Allison*

    #2 Sometimes older men do or say things that are intended to be nice, and have no agenda, but can still make you feel weird. I’ll admit I recently put some guys on my restricted list because they were liking *everything* I was posting on Facebook despite us not being close at all, and it was weirding me out but I didn’t know what I could say – if you’re connected with someone, you can look at their posts and like things, that’s how it works. One was even writing comments calling me “dear” and I hated it. But he was just being nice!

    Sadly, I have no advice, but I know how it feels to be totally weirded out by a man’s words or actions even when you know there’s no romantic or sexual intentions behind them, and you worry he’ll be upset if you ask him to back up a little.

  44. BlueWolf*

    In regards to #1, I haven’t yet had to take a sick day so I’m not really sure if my employer would require a sick note, but my guess is they probably don’t since we have all-purpose leave. Vacation, sick, etc. is all in one bucket of paid leave. The only issue would be if you used up all your paid leave on vacation and then got sick, but even then I think it would just be unpaid.

  45. Liz2*

    Late to the party #5- asking to CHANGE a start date by a week I would not consider a big deal. I did that once and they thanked me because they hadn’t realized who would be out of the office and it worked out better for everyone.

    But be prepared for the other side and to get a no. I also wouldn’t push back more than a week. Remember sometimes storms will always come, it’s the coping and surviving better each time to help us make better choices that matter.

  46. ilikeaskamanager*

    #1 the idea of a sick note is crazy in this instance. The person is out without pay. If there is a problem with an employee being out then it doesn’t matter why the person is out. Deal with it as a performance issue and set an expectation about attendance. . But to require a sick note for an unpaid sick day is IMHO ridiculous. Yes, it is extremely inconvenient in retail when people are out, but that’s just the nature of retail.

  47. AWall*

    #1 – I always find this situation so ridiculous. I live outside the US and in my country your employer can require a doctors note if you’re off work sick but they are required by law to pay for that note if you were off for less than 3 days in a row.

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