my boss is annoyed by the flexible schedule she already agreed to

A reader writes:

In January 2017, I returned to my job after having my first child. During a call with my manager about a month before my return, I explained that my family and I had recently moved, resulting in a longer commute, and that my daughter needed to be picked up from daycare no later than 6 p.m. Therefore I requested a schedule that would allow me to take a shorter lunch and leave by 4:30 every day or, alternatively, come in early, take the usual hour lunch, and still leave by 4:30 — the sticking point, since my partner’s regular work hours made him unreliable for pick up (he would largely handle drop-off). I explained that I could not leave at 5:00 and reliably make it to pick-up every day by 6:00, and we do not have family or much childcare support in our area. I was professional but firm in my request, and although my manager agreed (I knew she *really* wanted me to come back from maternity leave and was concerned I might not), I could sense she was not thrilled. There was no discussion of my working this schedule on a trial basis. I presented it as a need due to my new reality as a working parent with a longer commute, and returned to work following this new schedule.

Recently my manager has been intimating that she is unhappy about my alternative schedule. She is generally hyper-focused on timekeeping and face time (annoying most of her staff), and I sense she hates the optics of one of her employees leaving 30 minutes early every day. Perhaps she has even gotten a complaint or two from colleagues who are bitter and she is worried others will make similar requests in the future. Out of blue, on a couple separate occasions, she has asked for clarification of my hours, with an undercurrent of irritation (she knows exactly what my hours are because she signs a time sheet every two weeks spelling them out).

I am a high performer with strong performance reviews and have been in my role for five years. It is true that since becoming a mother, I do not have the bandwidth to put in some of the extra time I used to, but I absolutely work the required number of weekly hours and work an evening now and then if necessary to cover an event, and there has been no drop in the quality of my work. Regardless, I am anticipating that she will try to take away this “perk” during my upcoming annual review, especially since she has recently been promoted to the head of the department and might want to throw her weight around in her new role. How can I prepare for what I suspect is coming? I have to be honest: maintaining the ability to leave at 4:30 is really a non-negotiable for me. It is not logistically or financially feasible — nor do I think it is reasonable — to have to leave at 5:00 and outsource daycare pick-up or have someone on call five days per week when I am inevitably running late. Nor is it an unusual accommodation in many other departments within my organization.

By non-negotiable, do you mean you’re willing to leave if you can’t have this schedule?

If so, that actually makes this a lot easier. If it were something you were hoping she’d agree to but which you’d work around if she didn’t, you’d have to figure out exactly how hard of a line to take, and how to balance that against your desire to stay in the job. But if you’re clear with yourself that it’s a non-negotiable and you won’t stay in the job without it, that actually makes this more straightforward.

If she does try to change your schedule, simply explain to her that it’s not an option for you. For example: “I’m not able to change that schedule. I do need to leave by 4:30 every day. I can take a shorter lunch or come in earlier, but like we discussed when I came back after my leave, staying past 4:30 isn’t an option for me. My understanding was that we’d agreed to that as a condition of my return.”

You could also say, “I’d thought it was working pretty well, but is it causing problems?” That’s not an opening for her to convince you to change your mind; that’s just you collecting information to better understand her perspective, because there’s value in more fully understanding where she’s coming from. But the real value in asking that is in forcing her to articulate exactly what her concern is — because if it’s just optics, it’s useful to get that out on the table.

If she’s insistent that you need to change your schedule, at that point you can say, “Leaving at 4:30 is a must for me. It’s the reason I was able to return, and there’s no way I can make the schedule work if it’s later than that. Knowing that, does it still make sense to plan on me staying in the job, or is it a deal-breaker on your end?”

Important note: Don’t use this as a bluff. If there’s some part of you that thinks you’d make it work if she insists, don’t use this kind of “it’s this or nothing” wording. In that case, you could say something more like, “I’ll be honest — your agreement that I could work this schedule was the reason I came back. This is a significant change, and I need to think about whether there’s a way for me to make it work. Is there any flexibility on your side, given that this was our understanding when I returned?”

Frankly, even if your boss doesn’t raise this at your upcoming performance evaluation, it might be worth raising yourself. You could say something like, “I’ve gotten the sense a few times lately that you’ve been unhappy with my leaving at 4:30 every day. Am I misinterpreting, or is there something there we should talk about?” If she is irritated about it, sometimes it’s better to just bring it to the surface and talk about it openly, rather than feeling vaguely uneasy that she might spring it on you at some point. But if you decide that you’d prefer not to open this can of worms and that you’d rather ignore her hints until she decides to raise it directly with you, that’s perfectly legitimate too.

Read an update to this letter here

{ 518 comments… read them below }

    1. An Underemployed Millennial*

      Seriously, who cares if other colleagues who don’t know the situation are whining about it? As long as OP is getting their work done the manager should tell them to mind their own business.

      1. KHB*

        It’s easy to say that, but from the bitter colleagues’ point of view, if there’s any chance that disparate treatment is going on (based on manager favoritism or even protected-class status), that can be a real morale killer. The OP almost certainly isn’t the only one who could benefit from leaving half an hour early each day.

        1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

          Yep. I’ve been here five years. I wanted to switch my shift to come in/leave an hour earlier was told it should be possible. We hired someone three months ago related to exec management who has kids and suddenly….oops, not possible. Besides I don’t have a family, so why would I possibly want to leave early?

          My morale isn’t exactly sky high.

          1. Margot the Destroyer*

            I hate those jobs that treat employees with a family different from the single employees. I worked for a place once where we had a company wide event one weekend. It was at the local amusement park. Have a family, great, bring them along on our dime, but if your single, sorry, you cant invite anyone along.

            1. bending, bending*

              You need to get looser with your definition of family then. I also worked for an employer that held the summer employee appreciation party at an amusement park and family was invited. I had no intention of going by myself and hanging out with other people’s families, but didn’t want to miss out. So I signed up my family (niece, sister, and brother-in-law). We all had great fun.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I don’t think this is Margot’s problem—it’s her company’s problem. I worked for an organization that did the same thing (defined family narrowly and did not allow single people to bring people that they considered to be part of their family).

              2. Jenny*

                Yeah, I think many companies specifically mean “spouse and children” when they host family events (unfortunately).

              3. Former Hoosier*

                Our office Christmas party welcomed anyone’s definition of family. One employee brought her partner and her two nephews that she provides care for frequently. We loved getting to know her nephews even though they weren’t “close” family. And her same-sex but not married partner was very welcome too!

            2. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

              Works both ways though. I work at a company that hosts monthly team building meetings off site – at locations that cost a lot of money out of my own pocket, require me to travel to, are only open at night, and are not family friendly. (Casino, nightclub, upscale restaurant). The company has strongly encouraged all employees to attend, but given that I am broke, share a vehicle with my spouse, am tired from working all day and only want to hang out with my spouse and kids I often can’t (and more often don’t want to) attend.

              1. [insert witty user name here]*

                The events you describe sound problematic, but it has nothing to do with them not being family friendly – it’s because your company is expecting you to travel and pay out of your own pocket.

              2. Max from St. Mary's*

                You could still be broke, tired from working all day, and want solitude/hanging out with friends or pets and not be into the night scene…and be single without children, so not biased against people with partners and children.

            3. Jenny*

              Yes, I worked at exactly this type of place. People with kids were allowed to duck out early no questions asked, and those of us who were younger/single/childless were expected to stay all evening and pick up the slack. People with kids thought it was wonderful the company was so family-friendly. Ugh.

              1. pope suburban*

                That was my last job all over. The thing is, I don’t mind people needing to leave early or take a long lunch, because I understand that life happens and because I strongly reject this notion that employees need to be available 24/7 and thankful for that opportunity. I’m 100% pro-workplace flexibility. What bothered me was never getting that same consideration for myself. I’m a human being too, I have life emergencies too, and being treated like a robot was not fun. Where I am now, everyone is afforded the courtesy of being able to come in an hour late or take time off if needed, and it’s so much better.

            4. MW*

              In a previous job a mandate came down that 30% of the office had to be made redundant. I volunteered to be on the employee group collating cost saving suggestions and criteria suggestions for the redundancy process (ultimately, I realised, this group and the suggestion process was just there to fulfil a legal requirement to the company and our input was pointless).

              There was a super awkward moment when someone said “Well, I think the criteria should be compassionate. We shouldn’t make someone redundant if they’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and have 3 kids to look after on their own!”

              I felt really uncomfortable disagreeing with it, but I felt pretty strongly that staff shouldn’t be prejudiced against for having good health, choosing not to have a family, or not having one yet. (For context: AFAIK nobody in the office had cancer, and we live in a country with a good national health service so loss of work would not prevent access to appropriate healthcare) These just did not feel like appropriate considerations. In the end the criteria was just length of service in role, so the most junior people in each role got the boot. I went voluntarily.

          2. Not a Blossom*

            Yeah, at my last job, people with kids were allowed to shift their schedules; people without kids were not. It was incredibly unfair and really lowered morale. Taking the shifted schedule would have saved me over an hour of commuting time every day.

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          This. My last company let parents have flexible schedules and other perks, but non-parents didn’t receive those same perks and it did not go over well. Morale sunk really low and there was a lot of bitterness.

          1. Blue*

            That was the case when I started working in my current office. It really only changed because a couple of childless people were promoted into leadership positions and started putting their foot down. One of them substitutes public transportation needs for kid needs – if we don’t care that parents might show up 15 minutes late or leave early because they’re dealing with kid stuff, we’re also not going to care if someone leaves 10 minutes early to catch a bus. It’s great.

            1. TrainerGirl*

              That really is key. I worked at a company where my department had allowed parents way more flexibility than those without kids for years and it was accepted. We were a group that had to be available to work even if there was bad weather, so folks would get put up in a hotel to be able to get to work the next day, and it was always the single people, whereas other people got the day off, because this was before telework. We got a director who didn’t have kids, and he put his foot down that everyone had the same job, and being a parent didn’t exempt you from working in bad weather, working nights/weekends, etc. A lot of people were really angry about it, but they got over it and it really helped to quell the resentment that had built because of the inequity.

              1. MW*

                I like the scenario Blue outlined more- where they give the perk to everyone, rather than taking it away from the parents. But I guess it is fair that if they can’t afford to offer a perk on an unbiased basis then they can’t afford to offer it at all.

          2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

            At an OldJob, a father used to get furious every holiday season. Parents got first dibs on days off. Single people were expected to cover for them and take the scraps. He was a non-custodial father and the holidays were his major kid time and every year he had to fight for time off.

          3. AC*

            This is a huge reason I left my last job. As a single woman in my late 20s, it was just assumed to be a given that I would be able to come in early / stay late / take on extra work to cover for my boss’s flexible schedule which was only granted to her because of her childcare duties (she had one kid in late elementary school). For everyone else in our office, face time was The Most Important Thing – the kind of place where you’re considered late at 9:05.

            In OP’s case though, it sounds like she’s working the same number of hours, and that she’s only shifting her schedule by about 30 minutes (assuming 9-4:30 with a shortened lunch break, or 8:30-4:30). That seems extremely reasonable to me, and if people are unhappy – why not give a bit of flexibility to more people’s schedules?

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Because this manager is a face-time enthusiast.

              That’s not a good way to retain quality workers – I hope OP’s manager is smart enough to recognize that diversity and flexibility are competitive advantages.

        3. k.k*

          Nor is it an unusual accommodation in many other departments within my organization.

          OPs apparently not the only one who has this arrangement, so they shouldn’t be too upset (unless it’s only available to a select few or there is something else we don’t know).

          1. KHB*

            I read that to mean that it’s a common accommodation in other departments, but in this department (or under this specific manager, who’s hyper-focused on timekeeping and such), not so much. So there could still be the perception among OP’s colleagues that in their department, the flexible schedule is available to OP but no one else.

        4. A Girl Has No Name*

          Another yep here. The “bitter” colleagues could have had to take on extra work during the OP’s maternity leave, without any extra pay. Most of us have been in offices and workplaces where there has been a maternity leave and the new parent isn’t really back to their pre-baby productivity and workload for at least a year. They’re gone more frequently due to doctor appointment and away from their desks or work stations for longer stretches in order to pump.

          Honestly, for most people with morale issues in their jobs a flex schedule for any reason is a cheaper way to keep them happy than giving them a raise. I’ve been wanting a flex schedule for a while now because I rely on public transit. Public transit where I live can is horrible and even leaving a half hour early would make for a less stressful and crowded commute home. I have the furthest commute of anyone in my office, but don’t have kids, so I’ve been denied.

          The two that do have flex schedules both have kids and simply can’t be relied upon to arrive at their scheduled times. One usually has some excuse ready and the other has a strong sense of entitlement.

          1. Jubilance*

            Would those people feel the same resentment if the coworker had been out because they had cancer? Or an elderly parent with a terminal illness?

            I get it – extra work isn’t fun, but this idea that new parents should be extra appreciative for other people taking on their work rubs me the wrong way. Stuff happens, people are sometimes out of the office, and work gets shuffled around. Management is to blame if the extra work creates a hardship for the rest of the team, not the person who is out.

            1. paul*


              It sucks to have to cover extra work for a prolonged period of time. Even if you don’t begrudge the person, it’s a morale killer.

              1. Snark*

                Is it, though? I’ve covered for folks on maternity leave, just as folks covered for me on paternity leave, and while it wasn’t something I was especially gleeful about, it was also not something that significantly affected my morale. Maternity leave – and bereavement leave, and so on – is just sort of part of working life, as far as I’m concerned, and one should expect it and not get too bent out of shape about it. Sometimes you’re busy, other times you’re not, for a variety of reasons.

                1. Goya de la Mancha*

                  Someone on this board once mentioned a “goodwill bank” where you occasionally have to make deposits instead of withdrawals. If you were covering for those people all the time and they didn’t cover for you in return (for whatever reason), logical or not, resentment builds.

                2. Rick*

                  @ Goya de la Mancha

                  In my experience, the people who are resentful about helping out others are bitter regardless of whether the “goodwill bank” is in their favor or against them. It’s really difficult to be objective about how much you’ve helped others vs. them helping you, and I think most people will be happier if they choose to be helpful regardless.

                3. paul*

                  I think it’s going to come down to a lot of job specific stuff: what’s your workload, what amount of extra work are you taking on, how well does it align with your skills and duties, etc. But if you’re already busy and then get 1/3 of a position dumped on you, and it’s not the sort of work you like and/or are good at? Yeah that’ll tank morale for most people.

                4. Perse's Mom*

                  @Rick – while I don’t doubt there are some perpetually bitter people out there, I’ve also seen a lot of situations in multiple jobs where one person is always covering for everybody else and on the rare time they need someone to cover for them, everyone else scatters. It IS a morale killer – for the people who witness it and especially for the person who’s fine with helping but never gets it in turn. It’s a great way to drive away helpful employees.

                5. pleaset*


                  And IF you are still going to be bitter, don’t be bitter at the person in need, but rather at the management. IOW Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.

                6. Max from St. Mary's*

                  But you’re saying that you didn’t mind covering for other people because you also benefited from the system by getting paternity leave. People–men or women–who don’t have children never get this exchange. I know that some people take off for other reason–caring for a sick relative, bereavement leave, long-term illness–but maternity/paternity leave is far more common and affect people more regularly.

                  This isn’t to say that people need to stop having children, but I do think businesses need to stop thinking that everyone will have kids so that taking on more work for someone else’s decision to have kids will automatically be repaid when the other worker has children…it doesn’t work that way anymore.

                7. Jenny*

                  But we’re not talking about temporarily covering for someone while they’re on leave – this is about one employee permanently getting a benefit that’s denied to employees without children.

                8. Bigglesworth*

                  I think the biggest difference between your situation is the time frame. It is one thing to take on extra work when you know there is an end in sight. Parental leave is important, but it’s also usually not longer than a year. Where I live (US), it’s often much shorter than that. However, it’s an entirely different thing if you receive a perk solely on an outside situation (children, cancer, ill family member, etc.) Even with an issue like cancer, it has a time limit – either the person gets better or they do not. I don’t mean to sound callous, but I think the timeframe here is a crucial element in understanding why people are or have been bitter colleagues when it comes to a more lax standard for parents. It’s a permanent (perceived) laxness, at least for the job world. 18 years is a long time and most people dealing with this now won’t be there when the parent is back to being held to the same standard.

                  Even if a coworker knows of and is sympathetic to the situation, it can still seem unfair if they have something come up in their personal lives and do not receive an accommodation. This can be a management problem, but it’s also a perception problem. I do not currently have any children nor have I worked in a place that forced me to cover for my coworkers due to an assumption of my having less responsibility. However, I can see why this would be frustrating.

              2. Totally Minnie*

                At one of my previous jobs, two of my coworkers had spouses with terminal illnesses. I was heartbroken for them, but I was also exhausted because I was doing so much extra work while they were away. I didn’t want to be upset with them about it, but I was upset with the situation in general.

                I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a morale killer, but it’s definitely taxing on other workers.

                1. nobody really*

                  This sounds like it’s on management for not hiring a temp while someone was out long-term, though. It’s not anyone’s fault that life happens. The issue is when management does nothing to alleviate the additional workload on anyone else.

              3. pancakes*

                It sounds like the coworkers in these scenarios *are* begrudging the person who was out on leave, though, and that doing so hasn’t improved anyone’s morale.

            2. A Girl Has No Name*

              No accommodations were made for me when I needed time off and flexibility when my mother went through cancer twice. I got one week off, but it was like pulling nails, after she died. It’s not a vacation when you have help plan your mother’s totally unexpected funeral.

              I had been extra helpful and accommodating for a newly divorced colleague with kids and he didn’t reciprocate back when I needed some time off to deal with family issues. That attitude changed after my mother died. I’ve quit scheduling doctor’s appointments and vacations around his childcare needs.

              1. Clever Name*

                I’m sorry you had to go through that, and I’m sorry your colleague was a jerk. I feel like bereavement is a very misunderstood use of time off. One year I had an uncle, an aunt and a close family friend die within a period of six months. I felt like people were looking at me funny about taking time off for visitations and funerals. However, I had been a high-performer for more than 10 years at that point, so I just flat-out ignored them. My direct boss, who would have to cover for me, was very understanding. If my grandboss had a problem with it, I would have taken it to the CEO. But I’m very convinced that funerals are rare (even if you have to go to three in a year, it’s not likely that would happen again), and if they were going to question 10 years of solid work over a total of 5 days off (that I had PTO for), I was willing to quit.

                Thankfully, my company is for the most part lovely. If the more junior staff was suspicious or annoyed at my absence, that was their problem.

                All of which is to say, someone who would resent you taking time off after the death of a parent is a bad person. You sound like a good person.

                1. Another Girl Has No Name*

                  He had the nerve to complain about how many funerals my boss had to take off on very short notice in the past year. This was after she had a chat with him about how frequently he was calling in sick because the kids supposedly were sick.

                  One kid sounds like he knows enough how to convincingly seem sick and both his parents fall for his act. I was skeptical about how sick the kid really was because my younger sister would do the same thing one year when we were in Catholic school. Turns out that most of time the only thing wrong with my sister was that she hated school that year with the nightmare of a second grade teacher. Said teacher thought my sister was slow and had a learning disorder. There was nothing wrong with my sister – it was on the teacher and her incompetence as an educator.

                  I’m from a very Irish Catholic family that has gone through streaks of multiple funerals in a short time. There was one 6 month stretch that my dad had 4 family funerals that he had to drive 8 hours each way to attend. Two of them were for close family, his sister and aunt. The others were for cousins that he hadn’t seen in at least a decade.

            3. KHB*

              It doesn’t sound like OP’s colleagues are angry at her specifically – their bitterness, if they have any, is being directed at the manager.

              1. Luna*

                It’s not actually clear that there even are bitter colleagues, it sounds like OP is just theorizing about that. But to me this seems more like a personal pet peeve of the time-keeping manager, not anything to do with the co-workers that we have any reason to suspect.

            4. Only here for the teapots*

              For most people having a child is voluntary, while having a catastrophic health or family issue is not. I know for me that makes a difference in how I feel about accommodating a coworker.

              1. Merci Dee*

                Soooooo . . . . your suggestion is, what? That people shouldn’t have kids for fear that it might make some people at work upset when they have to take time off?

                1. JM60*

                  I’m not the person you’re responding to but…

                  I view it as if there is a “goodwill bank” as mentioned elsewhere around here. I think the more you withdraw crumb that bank, and the more your withdrawal is cost to a want than a need, the more you should be on the top of the list to make deposits into that bank. Although there certainly are needs that come along with being pregnant, no one needs to become a parent. While not all pregnancies are planned, making a baby is a want, not a need, while treating cancer is a need.

                  If everyone in the office is a parent or becoming a parent except for one person, that one person shouldn’t have to keep shouldering the burden for covering for everyone else’s needs. Moreover, the fact that they aren’t a parent shouldn’t mean they have to pull their nails out to make a withdrawl, under reasonable circumstances, from this goodwill bank.

                2. JM60*

                  Correction (darn autocorrect):

                  I think the more you withdraw from that bank, and the more your withdrawal is due to a want rather than a need, the more you should be on the top of the list to make deposits into that bank.

              2. pleaset*

                YUP. They should take into account the stress on their colleagues if they go out on maternity/paternity leave. For Sure. YUP.

                1. Lunita*

                  Yes, when I’m making the life changing decision on whether or not to grow my family, I’ll definitely consider my coworkers and whether for not they might be inconvenienced for at most, four months.

                2. Not My Monkeys*

                  @Lunita WOW. You don’t need your coworkers’ permission to have children, but it would be a kindness to recognize the fact that while you’re out of the office, your coworkers will inevitably pick up the slack. Some of those coworkers may not want kids or may not be able to have kids, so you won’t need to fill in when they’re on maternity leave. You certainly don’t have to fall all over yourself thanking them, but a considerate person is at least aware of the fact that the DECISION to grow your family will mean more work for your coworkers, and it’s not unreasonable to express a little gratitude toward them for picking up the extra work.

              3. CoffeeCoffeeCoffee*

                Actually, no. This is false. About half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended.

                1. Anxa*

                  That about half of pregnancies are unintended doesn’t mean about half of children are being born without choice.

                2. The Original Flavored K*

                  HAHAHAHAHA WHAT. There are multiple, MULTIPLE states in this union where the barriers to getting an abortion are ridiculously high. I’m not just talking about transvaginal ultrasounds, but there’s mandatory waiting periods, counselling, and limits on when in term a fetus can be aborted, and for what reason.

                  There are plenty of people out there who didn’t intend to get pregnant and aren’t super thrilled about their situation. We just don’t talk about them, or to them, because of cultural narratives surrounding motherhood and purity.

                3. YellowWLS*

                  @The Original Flavored K When you engage in unprotected sex you are making a choice to possibly have a child.

              4. annuity*

                This is ridiculous. Are you saying people should not have children then? It should be management’s responsibility to handle maternity and paternity leave appropriately. I don’t mind accommodating people on leave for sickness or family reasons, it’s part of life.

              5. Mary Connell*

                As annuity said, ridiculous. If people didn’t have children, society would grind to a halt. Family friendly policies increase workplace satisfaction and worker retention. And of course the policies should be evenly applied across the workforce and businesses should hire temporary workers during extended absences instead of dumping all that work on surrounding workers, but part of a functioning society being able to work together for the benefit of all.

                1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

                  How about “people friendly” policies instead? If you choose to spend your “people friendly” time cleaning up kid barf, more power to you. If I want to spend mine vacationing in France, more power to me. There shouldn’t be a preference from management either way.

                2. JM60*

                  “If people didn’t have children, society would grind to a halt.”

                  You could say this about a lot of things. If no one chose to become farmers, we’d all starve to death!

                  If anything, the world is currently closer to having overpopulation issues than underpopulation issues, and would arguably benefit from fewer people choosing to have kids. I’m not saying employers should deny parental leave for this reason, but given the current state of affairs, I don’t think “But we need people to make babies” is a compelling argument.

                  “Family friendly policies increase workplace satisfaction and worker retention.”

                  Or better yet, have people friendly policies that are fair. If some employees have constantly withdrawn from the ‘goodwill bank’ due to their choice (or accident) of becoming parents, whereas a single colleague is constantly depositing into this bank, then the parent should be at the top of the list to make a deposit if someone makes a withdrawal (and another solution like a temp, isn’t possible).

              6. Artemesia*

                I had a subordinate who directed a major time sensitive activity which was crazy busy during early spring. She had babies two out of three years and took 3 mos during this crazy busy time and everyone else had to do her difficult job twice for 3 mos in that 3 year period. I have no doubt that she timed those pregnancies; she so much as said so. And yeah — you have to deal but it is annoying.

              7. Sandman*

                Except that kids are less fashion accessory and more future of civilization. Maybe you’d feel more accommodating if you thought of it as paying it forward- after all, when you’re old and infirm, somebody is going to have to insert that catheter and talk you down when you have Sundowners. It’s okay not to have kids, but someone has to raise the next generation.

                1. The Childfree Commenter*

                  Oh nonsense. This planet is dangerously overcrowded and there is absolutely zero assurance that adult children will take care of their elderly parents. Having children is a fairly selfish choice and that’s ok! But making that choice doesn’t make you superior or more valuable.

                2. einahpets*

                  RE: Childfree Commenter

                  Except Sandman never said it was going to be his children taking care of him… if nobody had any children from this time onward, who will be taking care of any of us in 40-50 years? Are you thinking that we’ll somehow figure out a way to prolong life indefinitely and/or automate everything by robots?

                  My husband and I limited our family size to two, and I have no expectation that my daughters are going to physically or financially take care of *me* when I get older. I am raising them with the expectation that they’ll find a vocation that helps benefit the world around them though.

                3. JM60*

                  We need some people to reproduce, but there’s evidence to suggest that the ideal reproduction rate of the world is lower than what it currently is. So having a baby is not necessarily doing society a favor (although I wouldn’t call it selfish either, unless you’re reproducing irresponsibly). So, although I think there should be people friendly policies that help parents, I don’t think that childfree people owe parents anything by virtue of paying it forward.

                  I think if someone chooses to have a child (or accidentally had one) , they should be able to withdraw from the ‘goodwill bank’. However, the more you withdraw from this bank and the closer it is to a choice (pregnancy is often intentional, getting cancer generally isn’t), the higher up you should be on the list of people who need to make deposits into this ‘goodwill bank’.

              8. StevieIsWondering*

                That is unkind. And not really conducive to having a healthy work culture.

              9. YellowWLS*

                This, absolutely. If someone makes the choice to have a child they should also make plans to accommodate that choice in their lives. Period. I feel VERY differently about helping coworkers struggling with loss or illness, or some other tragedy they did not choose. It’s completely different.

            5. Cafe au Lait*

              I think Alison has addressed this before, and if I recall correctly, she said something along the lines of “It’s bad management to expect the other employees to absorb the work on the employee on leave.”

              I just came off of maternity leave. I disclosed my pregnancy far earlier than I had intended in an effort for my boss to advocate for funds for a temp staffer. Instead a hodge-podge of employees were used to fill my spot. Everyone was “so glad” for me to be back as I would be taking over my duties and they would be doing less. I haven’t been sympathetic as I did due diligence from my side.

              1. einahpets*

                Yeah, for both of my maternity leaves it was a similar situation. I worked hard to put together transition plans and documentation for my coverage while I was out… but it isn’t my job as an employee to manage workload for other employees in my department. That is management’s job. If they do that poorly… how is that my fault? I gave them months notice of the leave.

              2. biobottt*

                You haven’t been sympathetic to your coworkers? None of it–your maternity leave or your manager’s way of handling it–was their fault.

              3. Bolistoli*

                No sympathy? That’s a bit harsh. It’s not your coworkers’ fault either that the manager didn’t plan accordingly (or wasn’t allowed to pay for a temp, or whatever). I like the “Goodwill Bank” idea that’s being floated. I’ve never had a problem pitching in when someone is out – kids, illness, vacation – as long as it’s not abused (not talking kids here – of course it’s hard to abuse getting pregnant). But I can tell you I would be pretty unhappy if I needed some time and was denied because I am single and/or don’t have kids. It’s all common decency, and why wouldn’t we all be thankful our coworkers helped out while we were gone?

              4. LordofFullmetal*

                No offence, but are you sure you know what “sympathy” actually means? Because you’re either using it wrong here, or kind of a bad person. I’m trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here.
                The fact that you did everything you could does NOT mean you shouldn’t feel sympathy over the fact that your boss screwed your colleagues over. You have the right to not feel sympathy for your BOSS, because it was their fault. But what on earth were your colleagues supposed to do? Why can’t you find it in yourself to feel just a little bad for them, given that they had no choice in the matter? That doesn’t mean you have to feel GUILTY; empathy and guilt aren’t the same thing. Empathy (which is what sympathy stems from) does not mean you’re taking responsibility. Literally all it means is that you UNDERSTAND how they feel. Really not a good idea to admit in public that you’re incapable of understanding how other people feel at times, because that does draw quite negative societal connotations. Lack of empathy is generally seen as a bad thing.

            6. Jenny*

              If this were someone with cancer, I do think that would be different. That’s an exceptional circumstance. Treating employees differently based on their family status is not acceptable.

            7. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish*

              Getting cancer or having a family member who does isn’t something one chooses to do. Parenthood is. So yes, some appreciation for making your life choice easier would be nice.

            8. YellowWLS*

              No, because getting cancer or having a parent come down with a terminal illness is not a choice. Having children is a choice. And OP’s coworkers did not choose to have a child, she did.

          2. I'll come up with a clever name later.*

            I used to rely on public transit and yeah, leaving just 30 minutes early meant my commute was only an hour instead of the 90 minute nightmare that rush hour would create. I have kids and try desperately to do everything on the weekend or after hours just to avoid that work overlap. It takes some digging but there are dentists, doctors, and orthodontists out there who are open on Saturdays or have late weeknight appts. I have found them in all three states I’ve lived in since becoming a mother. I may have even pointed that out to a co-worker at last job who insisted that her time off request for her child’s doctors appt was more important than the long weekend I had planned for months with my husband and that I should have to work so she could go to a routine appt for her baby. (She rescheduled the appt and I got my time off).

          3. TootsNYC*

            also, at -my- job, 4:30 is when stuff revs up. Someone leaving even a half-hour earlier can frequently create bottlenecks or a frustrating inability to move something forward. Or the person who is here has to handle it.

            (when I started in publishing in NYC, start time was always 9, finish time at 5. Then everybody moved to Park Slope, and the commute for 9am was horrendous, plus you were always late. Nowadays, some branches of publishing start at 10 and end at 6–which is horrendous for people w/ kids in school)

          4. A Girl Has No Name*

            Hi! Seems like we are handle-twins. I’ve been commenting using this name for a few years now, wondering if you’d be willing to pick something else so as to avoid confusion?

          5. Judy (since 2010)*

            Maybe because I’m an engineer, so mostly I work with men, but I’ve had to cover many, many more times due to things other than maternity leave. Heart attacks (absolutely no warning), two different esophageal cancers (came back in for 1 day of transition, then surgery the next day), and broken bones. All of these have required 1-6 months of coverage. Usually with lingering months of physical therapy and or chemo and radiation. I can think of only once that I covered for maternity leave.

            My husband has had three surgeries since we’ve been married that means he’s had more FMLA than I’ve had giving birth twice.

        5. Mediamaven*

          I don’t have kids. I don’t intend to have kids. I don’t even care for kids TBH. But sometimes we have to give a little and I’m ok making certain allowances for parents. It’s not really about wanting to leave early, or it would be nice to leave early, it’s like, she has to in order to make it work. If it’s an invaluable employee that’s one thing but if it’s someone (and no, we don’t have to value all employees the same) who’s proven loyalty and dedication to the business, then they may have more leverage to negotiate. If I gave such a very inconsequential arrangement to a valued employee and someone else balked I’d say there’s the door. Show some compassion! It’s barely an ask!

          1. Sam.*

            I agree in principle, except I think that accommodation should be allowed for any valuable employee, not just ones with kids. Allowing it just for parents is pretty much a sure-fire way to lose valued employees who don’t have kids.

          2. Luna*

            I don’t think the “value” of the employee should have anything to do with it, it’s more about the reasonableness of the request. I used to leave about 30 minutes early on some days when I was in grad school part time and had to get to class. My bosses were fine with that because it wasn’t that much earlier and there was a clear reason why I needed to do it.

            I think OP’s request is reasonable and her boss is being passive-aggressive about expressing her displeasure. That being said, it does sound like OP might have sprung this request on her boss late in the game (only a month before she was supposed to come back) and the way it is framed in the letter the choice that OP made to move is a big reason why the request is needed. I can sort of understand why the boss might have felt surprised and annoyed at how the request was presented, and felt pressured into agreeing.

            That doesn’t change the fact that the boss’s behavior now is not great. OP definitely needs to have a conversation with the boss before the bad feelings build up to much.

          3. all aboard the anon train*

            Except, if a parent gets to have a flexible schedule just because they have kids, but someone else isn’t allowed a flexible schedule for a doctor’s appointment, grad school, taking care of sick relatives, etc., then you’re just giving preference to someone’s life choices. I’ve been in a company like that and giving one group extra flexibility while denying other groups isn’t compassionate, it’s unfair.

            I have no problem letting parents have a flexible schedule to pick up their kids from daycare or whatever, but if they’re given that perk and then I’m told I can’t have a flexible schedule to go to the doctor or go to class or whatever else, then you bet I’m going to be bitter.

            1. Tacos are Tasty*

              Yes thank you its a life choice. Preferances are most definitively a sure fire way to lose staff who don’t pander to the business’ definition of ‘special consideration’. Usually “families” and everyone else can work overtime to help them manage their life choices

        6. AKchic*

          *sigh* I absolutely hated that whole “it isn’t faaaaair” mentality of bitter coworkers. At my last job, thanks to my longevity, I had 4 weeks of leave a year. I didn’t make much money (non-profit), but I had a lot of leave, and I didn’t always use it because I had nowhere to go (and nothing to do because I couldn’t afford it). We also had a use-it-or-lose-it policy. So, at the beginning of each year, I’d start getting nastygrams in my email telling me to start taking my overflow leave. I’d plan half-days here and there for field trips of the kids (I have four), a day here, a day there to make 3 and four day weekends, whatever.
          There was Negative Nancy, the one with the least seniority who always had to complain. Oh, I’m leaving again. Oh, I’m taking time off again. She *never* has any sick/vacation time to spare. Constantly monitoring my work (not her place to do so), constantly complaining to our boss about my work and time usage (my boss and grandboss were fine with my work, flow and time management). Then she’d have the nerve to ask me to donate some of my leave time to her (even if I wanted to, company policy wouldn’t allow it).
          Negative Nancy and my Mean Girl boss were the two biggest reasons for leaving my last company. Mean Girl boss I could deal with since I didn’t deal with her daily. Negative Nancy was my officemate.

          1. YellowWLS*

            I cannot believe your coworker expected you to “donate” your time off to her. wtf!

        7. Safetykats*

          Yeah, but the reality is different. I work an (approved) alternate schedule where I come in and stay and hour late every day. While there are a lot of folks who would love the late start, when my boss explains the actual schedule they lose interest pretty fast – because nobody else wants to be here that late.

        8. Quickbeam*

          I work in an office where only parents get flex time, remote work and a wider range of start/stop times. It’s a huge morale killer and has torn our office apart. Peop,e have quit over it so yeah, that could be an issue.

      2. MommyMD*

        It’s a perk granted to only one person. Others may have daycare issues as well. Or commute problems. Everyone can come up with something which then becomes a big headache for employer.

        1. justsomeone*

          Only one person on her team. She said in the letter it’s not uncommon on other teams at her company: “Nor is it an unusual accommodation in many other departments within my organization.”

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            Not necessarily the fairest option, but could the OP transfer to one of the other departments where a flexible schedule is supported?

            1. Naptime Enthusiast*

              I’d say that would be the best option for everyone. Manager can get someone else in the position to work the hours she wants, OP can get the schedule she negotiated and needs, and coworkers are no longer bitter about OP’s special schedule. It’s not the worst reason to move, and a very common one from what I understand. My mom stayed in a very low-pressure but also low-mobility job for years when we were kids, because she was able to change her schedule around if we were sick or off from school. She moved to another department much later in her career that allowed her to get promoted because she could work long hours and go on business travel since no longer needed to be able to drop everything for us.

              1. A. Schuyler*

                This seems unreasonable to me. Are you assuming that all the departments do the same thing, that they all have room for an extra person, that the role would be comparable?

                I can empathise with OP, in a way. I’m in an organisation which prides itself on being flexible, and some parts of the organisation walk the talk, but ours wasn’t one of them for the longest time. Until we spoke to the leaders, they articulated their concerns and agreed to expand flexibility in their team, and we’ve since had a huge increase in flexible work and some real productivity benefits. That’s what I’d recommend here – if the problem is resentment from colleagues, maybe the answer isn’t to pull OP back but rather to open the floodgates.

              2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                What? Why should OP have to suffer for the boss being a jackass? She did her part when she negotiated for the time as a condition of returning to the job. If it’s something boss didn’t really want, she should have told OP right away and let her start looking for a new job.

            2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              Boss agreed to the alternate schedule as an inflexible condition that would have to be met if OP were to return to the job. If boss doesn’t like the choice she herself made, tough. She needs to suck it up & figure out a solution herself, one that doesn’t negatively affect OP.

        2. Mike C.*

          Everyone can come up with something which then becomes a big headache for employer.

          We don’t know this at all. It apparently allowed in other departments, and it’s seemingly only because this particular manager feels that facetime is more important than the actual work product.

        3. Wendy Ann*

          It’s a perk granted to only one person because so far, only one person has asked for it.

          1. myswtghst*

            Yes, this. It isn’t something OP was magically granted for no good reason – it’s something she negotiated as part of her return. If others in the office want/need to change their schedule, they can also talk to the manager about it, and use whatever capital they have to negotiate.

            1. Antilles*

              In theory, yeah.
              But in reality, most people don’t actually think that way. Rather than asking themselves “how can I get (desirable item)?” and doing *that*, they instead just get jealous and blame OP for the situation.

              1. myswtghst*

                I mean, I don’t disagree with you, but I also don’t think a good employer should expect a high performer to give up something relatively minor that she negotiated for just because other people are short-sighted and petty.

            2. YellowWLS*

              I did it, but it wasn’t easy. And my ask was small, a matter of a half hour earlier. My supervisors all come in anywhere from 1.5-3 hours later than me because of their morning kid duties, and the biggest sticking point in our “negotiation” was that they do most of their work in the late afternoon. Well, guess what, I do most of my work in the early morning and I don’t really see how one situation takes importance over the other just because one involves kids and mine doesn’t.

              It’s worked out fine but it wasn’t the easiest thing to ask or to get. I come in to a lot of emails from the night before but it’s nice being here early in the morning catching up on them without disruption.

          2. Mike C.*

            There could be plenty of reasons for someone not to ask for something, such as clear messages that the request will not be granted.

            Also, this sort of reasoning contributes women being paid less than men – they typically “don’t ask” for higher wages because of real fears of being seen as demanding or worse where men like me are seen as “ambitious” and “deal-makers”. Employees should be treated equally within the law and the needs of the business, not based on who demands the most.

        4. einahpets*

          Perk? I wouldn’t call it a perk. She didn’t ask to work less hours than anyone else. She asked whether her employer could match the schedule she needed before agreeing to come back to work for them… and now, a year later, her manager is trying to change the terms without actually having the formal conversation / negotiation it would require.

          I have two young kids and a pretty terrible commute — my hours are 7-4:30. I recently changed jobs because my previous manager was pretty meh on the hours I needed to work. But the times I stayed until 5pm there? Absolutely nothing happened — I’m on the west coast working with people on the east coast and europe, which meant that absolutely nobody was around to do or need anything from me in that half hour. On the rare occasion that an email came after I left, I handled it by logging in in the evening.

          Frankly, the whole butt-in-seat mentality baffles me. At my new workplace, everyone works flex hours and remotely at least once a week, and it seems like everyone is much much happier/more productive on different schedules (with a set of core hours scheduled so meetings can happen as needed).

        5. Snark*

          And that’s a good reason not to obsess over butts-in-seat/facetime optics unless it is legitimately crucial to operations.

        6. Cafe au Lait*

          It might be a case “because she asked, she got it.”

          On the surface, it’s equitable as the manager doesn’t need to do much. Just wait for the employees to come to you! It’s horrible practice as you’re not getting your employees at their best times. At my last job, we had to work one evening a week. I blocked off my knit night. In return, I was much more willing to work the Friday close shift–which was slow, boring and often problem filled.

        7. NK*

          Who says it’s necessarily a perk? I work at a job where I opt to come in around 7:45 and have to leave at 5 on the dot for daycare pickup. Many people on my team would hate coming in that early (including my pre-mom self!) For many (most?) office jobs where the work is generally autonomous and not public-facing, there’s no business reason not to let people flex a bit in their start and end times, within reason.

        8. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          It’s a “perk” she negotiated for as being a requirement for her return to this job, and that boss agreed to. Boss could have said “no” to it at that stage and left OP free to look for a job elsewhere that could accommodate her needs.
          Instead, boss agreed to it, and now doesn’t like the results of her freely made choice, and not because OPs work/office morale is suffering but because face time & optics.

          The problem is not that OP has a ‘perk’, it’s that Boss is trying to pull a bait & switch on her. And on something she knew in advance that OP cannot come to a compromise on!

      3. Roscoe*

        In theory I agree. My company is nice that if I need to leave early once in a while for things, its no big deal. However, they are very big on asses in seats for 9 hours a day (an hour for lunch). So even if I took a shorter lunch, I theoretically can’t leave until 9 hours after I come in. So if that was THE RULE, and yet someone else was getting an exception because they have a kid, yet child free me couldn’t, yeah, I’d be pissed as well. Especially if I’m also a good performer

        1. Snark*

          Why would you be pissed? It’s not something you asked for, because it’s not something you need or can make a convincing case for. This kind of mindset is focused too much on “equal” and not enough on “equitable.”

          1. Roscoe*

            Because, I shouldn’t need to make a case for why I need it. This sounds like making an exception for a person with a kid that you wouldn’t make for a person without. THat is a problem

            1. Snark*

              Except you absolutely do have to make a case, just as OP made a case for leaving early based on her commute time and daycare closing. There are plenty of reasons why a single person might need to negotiate a similar exception, but you do need a reason.

              1. Mad Baggins*

                Thank you for articulating this–I was going back and forth in my mind about single people vs family people reasons and I think the main difference is as you said, NEEDing to care for a dependent family member =/= WANTing to relax, go to yoga class, whatever. If a single person needed time off for a medical appointment, doing paperwork at city hall, etc. then they should get that flexibility too, but there has to be a need for it.

          2. Sam.*

            Because childless people have things happening in their lives, too. The constant messaging that your life is less significant because you don’t have kids gets really old.

            1. Snark*

              No, you don’t get to play that card. Nobody is claiming that non-parents’ lives are less significant. But responsibility for a dependent child is one of the things for which exceptions are made, because it’s an exceptional responsibility. It’s the reason why people with ailing parents get cut slack too.

              1. Roscoe*

                You do get to play “that card” (which the fact that you used that term shows the problem). If me and Jane are hired to do the same job, I shouldn’t get the shit assignments and a lack of flexibility because she chose to have a family.

                And I do love kids, but the fact that you have kids doesn’t mean you are entitled to special treatment. A one of thing, sure. Stuff happens. A regular perk that I don’t get? No, thats not fair.

                1. Snark*

                  There’s no perk in working the same hours, just starting and ending earlier! That’s just her schedule, dude, it’s not something you’re being deprived of. The perk is the opportunity to schedule work hours around a pressing need, not the particular schedule she’s on, and it’s available to the childless too – if that pressing need actually exists. If there’s no pressing need for you to go at 4:30, it’s all the same to you, so letting you go at 4:30 isn’t actually a perk.

                  And no, my man, that card is still a bullshit card. Non-parents get HELL of whiny about “but whyyyyy it’s not faaaaiiiir” about this stuff, and it’s not valid. Yes, parents (and others with dependent family and other similar circumstances) get to ask for and be granted some schedule flexibility that you don’t get, because you don’t need it. Deal.

                2. Pollygrammer*

                  Snark, you got real rude real fast here. Nobody else is throwing around insults.

                  You feel really strongly about this, obviously. But you’re single-shaming. And childfree-shaming. Really not cool.

                3. Quickbeam*

                  Thank you….childfree here, have worked for 47 years. Even now at 62, if I ask for a one time schedule adjustment it is a big flipping deal whereas if I was a coach or a parent, I could come and go as I please.

                4. Snark*

                  Polygrammer, you’re out of line and horribly misrepresenting my post. It’s ridiculous to suggest I’m shaming anyone, to the point I think you’re yanking any lever you can to invalidate my post. Not cool indeed.

                5. Jules the 3rd*

                  Nah, Snark, Polygrammar is right:
                  ” Non-parents get HELL of whiny” is insulting and single shaming.

                  I agree with the assumption that child care (and elder care, and medical issues, and school) are legit reasons for requesting exceptions. I think every workplace should aim for a set of core hours and encourage schedule flexing. I even think that outside of required coverage hours, you shouldn’t need a reason to flex a schedule and that butts in seats for 9 hrs is silly.

                  I don’t think that resenting multiple sets of rules is ‘whiny’ or unreasonable.

                6. Snark*

                  It’s not shaming a class of people, it’s stating my observation that in many discussions on this topic, nonparents get really, really wrapped around the axle about rigid definitions of fairness and what is or isn’t a perk, to the point that, yeah, I think it often sounds whiny.

                  I wholeheartedly agree that, at least for workers whose presence isn’t necessary to provide coverage (phones, clinic hours, whatever) all schedules should be flexible around core business hours. That solves the entire problem here. In the absence of that, if you’re dealing with a boss or a position that doesn’t permit flexibility without a good reason, I think a child or other dependent is clear-cut good reason and other wants and needs tend to be less compelling. I don’t think multiple sets of rules are operative in that case, and I don’t think anybody’s being treated unequitably.

                7. einahpets*

                  The thing is that most people recognize that it is not unreasonable that parents do get a card for flexibility when kids are young. Because you know what? Parents are raising the next generation of little people that will be taking care of us all in 30-50 years (depending on retirement). Unless you plan to work past retirement raising all your own food and herbal medicines in the middle of absolutely nowhere with no need for public services ever again.

                8. Pollygrammer*

                  Snark, categorizing non-parents as “HELL of whiny about “but whyyyyy it’s not faaaaiiiir” about this stuff” is indeed rude. Telling people to “deal” is rude.

                  I don’t know how you can possibly think that I’m “misrepresenting” anything.

                9. Snark*

                  Being rude because Roscoe and others are resentful of an accomodation they doesn’t need isn’t shaming him for not having kids, it’s being rude to someone who’s expressing a poorly considered opinion. There IS a difference.

              2. biobottt*

                Of course as a parent you think non-parents asking for equal treatment is somehow whiny. Of course.

                1. Snark*

                  Of course you think you’re eligible for accomodations you don’t need and have no reason to request. Of course.

                  See how that cuts?

                2. LordofFullmetal*

                  I’m a non-parent, and I honestly think most of the single people in this thread are being ridiculous. A couple have had genuine, valid points, but a lot of them ARE just whining.
                  If you don’t need the flexible schedule – IF YOU DON’T NEED IT, I fully accept that there are times where it is needed and in those cases, people should get them – then to complain that someone else who DOES need it got one is the same as a child crying because their parent is holding a set of car keys. Does the child have any use for the set of car keys? No. So the fact that they’re screaming and crying over not being able to hold them is ridiculous and illogical. That’s what half the single people here are doing. Half of them have actual reasons that they’ve needed a flexible schedule, and not been able to get it. And that’s wrong. It’s not the PARENTS’ fault, it’s management’s fault, so I’m not sure why the conversation has become about parents vs single people, and who has more of a right to complain (at the end of the day it is the job of your management to make sure the work environment is a good one) but when there is GENUINE inequality, that’s wrong.
                  However: if you do not have a GOOD reason to want a flexible schedule, you really don’t have the right to complain that someone else got one. They needed it. You didn’t. End of story. The reason they needed it does not matter. It’s not even really your business. That’s not inequality, that’s literally just you whinging that someone else is holding a shiny ball that you had zero interest in until they picked it up.

              3. YellowWLS*

                @Snark you do realize that being responsible for a child is a choice and being responsible for an ailing parent is not, right?

            2. Mary*

              And if you happen to be a woman who wanted kids and never met the right partner or was unable to have children for whatever reason, you get the extra joy of grieving for what never happened in your own life, enduring baby mania around the office and seeing exactly what didn’t happen for you happening to others, AND having the added work load dumped on you so your new mother colleague can have her time off. While you get denied the ability to have any flexibility for your own social or healthy outlets to have any kind of work life balance or protect your own well being.

              1. LordofFullmetal*

                I mean, yeah, not being able to have kids when you want them is awful and traumatic and suckish. No one’s denying that.
                But at the end of the day, that is YOUR issue to deal with, not anyone else’s. It’s just not their responsibility that you can’t have kids, and it’s not their job to put their lives on hold or walk on eggshells because of that. YOU have to figure out how to be ok with a sucky situation. YOU have to learn to cope. At the end of the day, the world doesn’t stop turning because you’re in a bad place, nor is it going to pick you up and dust you off. You have to do that.
                I watched someone lose a parent during their final years of high school. And what did they do? They picked themselves up. They didn’t sit there building up resentment at all the kids who DID have both their parents. They didn’t drop out of school. They learned to cope, they passed high school while grieving for their parent, and now they’re doing quite well for themselves. They didn’t ask for special treatment. They didn’t ask people not to talk about their own parents. They recognised that while the situation they were in sucked pretty hard, it was no one else’s responsibility to deal with that. If a teenager in high school, going through one of the most stressful points of their life, is capable of that, surely an adult should be.

      4. KHB*

        Also, “As long as she’s getting all her work done” (or having no impact on colleagues’ work) is often taken as a given in discussions like this, but I’m not sure it should be. For one, in way too many workplaces there’s essentially no such thing as “getting all your work done,” because there’s always more work you could be doing. For another, unless people’s tasks are completely independent with no interaction at all, there’s going to be some sort of impact.

        I had a colleague a while back who worked a drastically shifted schedule, like 5:00 AM to 1:00 PM. It was a real problem sometimes, because if something came up that you needed from him at 1:05, you had to wait until the next morning at the earliest. I wasn’t in much of a position to complain, since he had 35 years seniority on me, and my boss didn’t seem to understand that people were falling way behind on their own work because they had to keep waiting for him day after day. OP’s situation isn’t quite as dramatic as that, but I wonder if there’s something like that going on.

          1. KHB*

            OP says that although she still works the minimum number of hours required, she’s working fewer hours than she used to. That sounds to me like this is the kind of office where the day technically ends at 5, but people are staying until 6 or 7 more often than not. If everybody else is doing that, and OP is out the door at 4:30 on the dot every day, then it’s not half an hour, it’s one and a half or two and a half hours.

            But I’m speculating here just as much as everyone else is. We don’t know one way or the other what effect OP’s schedule has on the rest of her team, so we can’t assume that it has none.

            1. Clever Name*

              But that approach sucks, too. An office that has an unspoken expectation for everyone to work 50-60 hours a week has a whole other set of problems. I know it is common, but it is also common for places like that to burn people out faster. It takes one person to say “I need X” to turn the tide of the culture. If your entire staff can’t get the regular amount of work done in 40 hours a week, you need to hire more staff. Americans have a really messed up approach to work /life balance. (I say that as an American, who is trying hard to get back down to 40 hours a week, because that’s what I’m paid for).

              1. KHB*

                I never said that this workplace isn’t messed up. It could very well be messed up – in which case, OP needs to figure out whether she can work within that or not. (See: all of Alison’s “your employer sucks and isn’t going to change” posts.)

            2. NK*

              That doesn’t necessarily mean she’s doing less work, though. Since becoming a mom, the way I approach my day has really changed. I work my ass off in the 9 hours I’m there. Lots of people waste parts of the day chit-chatting and make up for it in the evenings. I used to do the same. Now I need to get s*hit done constantly because I don’t have the luxury of wasting time. Even my manager has noted that I’m more productive in the hours I work than my peers who work longer hours.

          2. Triumphant Fox*

            It could be the case that the manager comes back from meetings, etc. at the end of the day and wants to debrief. When my manager was in town, he would have meetings back to back all day, then want to start talking at 5:05 until 5:45. Sometimes I think managers use the end of the day to wrap things up, extending others’ hours along with their own. OP may be circumventing this entirely by leaving at 4:30.

            That being said, I think it’s a reasonable accommodation arranged ahead of time and the manager needs to adapt her practices/workflow instead of being passive aggressively annoyed. It’s also really not the same as a 5:00 AM to 1:00 PM schedule.

          3. LtBroccoli*

            Depends, my work often picks up after 4 and it’s the kind of work that MUST be done before I leave for the day.

      5. Wintermute*

        I talk about it quite often here (on AAM commentariat), some people get upset if they get even the slightest sneaking suspicion that someone else’s life is slightly less miserable than their own.

        Part of it is this puritan work ethic thing– work should be miserable and misery == Merit.

        Part of it is sheer spitefulness and not wanting to see anyone else with something better than they have, earned or ESPECIALLY unearned.

        Part of it is pure crab-in-a-bucket syndrome (one crab in a bucket, it climbs out, bunch of crabs in a bucket the ones on the bottom grab onto the ones on top and they all end up in the chowder) and not wanting to see other people improve their lives.

        But easily 20% of the letters here involve this peculiar sickness of the spirit, whether it’s an OP that doesn’t know how, but suspects their employees might be getting some marginal but arguably unearned benefit, or someone asking for help with ADA accommodations refused because “if we let you have a desk closer to the bathroom so you don’t have regular accidents, we might have to let other people sit where they are slightly happier!” (an exaggeration but NOT BY MUCH and that’s the sad part), or because a coworker is leaving 2.15 minutes early every day, or because an employee is obsessively tracking everyone’s movements to make sure no one works less than they do.

        I don’t know the solution but it’s a problem that drives me batty! Be happy for other people, we ALL work too much so never begrudge anyone that gets away with their life being a little less miserable than the rest of us.

      6. Betsy*

        I think colleagues often make unnecessary assumptions about other’s working practices. Our admin staff look at me oddly when I just show up at random times of the day. However, I don’t think they realise how different our responsibilities are. As teaching staff we’re not required to be in our offices all day every day and I work from home a lot, and will work until late at night or weekends when I don’t get everything done during ordinary working hours. Our schedules are also completely flexible, so as long as I teach my classes, I can decide to grade papers at 3am if I feel like it. They are on a reception desk, so obviously their job has very different requirements. I respect them and think they are very hard-working, but I do get the feeling they think we’re a bit slack, especially when they see me taking my lunch break later in the afternoon (I think they might think it’s my second lunch!) when they have set lunch hours due to the reception requirement.

    2. Temperance*

      I mean, I totally get why some people might be annoyed – I used to hate the coworker who managed to shift her hours earlier to make her commute to Kingdom Hall easier, because it meant I had to cover the phones every day – but it’s 30 minutes!

      1. Lumen*

        Also, it doesn’t sound like this schedule adjustment IS impacting anyone else or requiring someone else to cover for her.

          1. Natalie*


            Just because some people might wonder, doesn’t automatically follow that the letter writer should lose this flexibility. If others have a desire or need for flexibility and their positions allow for it, doesn’t it make as much or more sense to take a second look at how the office handles hours? And if there are people in positions that can’t have flexibility, then they don’t really have anything to wonder about.

            1. Roscoe*

              That’s true, but that doesn’t mean other people don’t have a right to be upset.

              1. Parenthetically*

                Sure, in the sense that everyone is entitled to their feelings, but not in the sense that that should have any bearing on the LW’s actions.

              2. Snark*

                People have a right to experience feelings. They don’t necessarily have the right to have their feelings catered to. There’s a difference between equal and equitable.

                1. StevieIsWondering*

                  THIS. Why is there so much vitriol against working parents? Damn. The United States is the only country in the developed world with no paid family leave and it is absolutely embarrassing that a country this rich lacks something so basic (and universal healthcare, but that’s leading astray…). The OP had negotiated an accommodation in advance of returning to work from her leave as a condition of her return; this is not a “perk”.

          2. Lumen*

            I’m not sure why we’re defining this as a ‘perk’. It’s a half hour. And she comes in early or cuts her lunch in half in order to get it. She’s working the same hours they are, just (very slightly) offset.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              In a butts-in-seats kind of job, this kind of flexible schedule is very likely considered a perk.

              1. Lumen*

                Oh, I get that. I think that probably IS how the OP’s manager and coworkers may see it. But that doesn’t mean we automatically have to accept that premise/definition.

          3. Observer*

            In a well run organization that’s a non-issue. One the one hand what she is doing is not unique. On the other hand, it this stuff is generally handled fairly, then people need to keep their noses in their own work.

            But, it seems pretty clear that the issue is not that she’s asking for something that’s really out of the norm in her company.

          4. AKchic*

            I think we need to stop calling this a “perk”. It’s not necessarily a perk. It’s a change in working hours, yes, but she is still working the same amount of paid hours everyone else is (40 standard M-F). She is just either coming in 30 minutes earlier or taking a half-hour lunch depending on appointments during the day and leaving 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the staff due to her unique circumstances. It was a negotiated schedule change when she was coming back from maternity leave. If the other employees want the same “perk”, they can all go through the arduous journey of becoming a parent (in whatever form necessary) and get daycare that requires a strict pick-up time where they are the ones to be the pick-up parent.
            Not quite the “perk” now, is it?

            1. Snark*

              Exactly. Racing the clock to get to your daycare so your exhausted, wrung-out child can get home and the daycare doesn’t charge you a buck a minute in late fees is not exactly a goddamn “perk.” She’s not getting off to go eat bonbons and watch SVU. It’s a necessary accomodation of the nonnegotiable needs a small, dependent person.

              1. Genny*

                It doesn’t matter that she’s using the perk to make something stressful in her life slightly less stressful. That’s on her, not the business. To the business and her coworkers, it’s a perk.

                1. Snark*

                  No, it’s really an accomodation. Working the same number of hours with slightly modified start and end times is not additional compensation or a benefit, it’s just accomodating the fact that employees have lives.

                  If there’s a perk here, it’s “negotiable schedule flexibility,” which applies to everyone. When I was childless, I negotiated work hours with my boss that let me arrive and leave a little early catch the express bus back to my city rather than the one that hit five stops. Same diff.

              2. YellowWLS*

                She made the choice to have this responsibility. Stop talking about it as if it’s a unique tragedy that has somehow befallen her.

            2. Jennifer*

              Yes it’s absolutely a perk, and it’s not fair that other employees don’t get it. If you choose to go through the arduous journey of being a parent, then that’s on you. Make sure you can handle all the arrangements without expecting special privileges just because you choose to have kids.

              1. serenity*

                What? This is an extraordinarily dramatic rendering of the OP’s situation (she leaves 30 minutes earlier and takes a shorter lunch). It’s certainly not a *perk* and no one else is being deprived of anything.

                Half of the comments on this page seem to be either people projecting their own frustrations at whatever their own scheduling issues are or people who skimmed the letter and didn’t read this closely.

                1. Pudgy Patty*

                  No kidding. This is pretty typical for the working parent discussions that happen here though.

                2. Zebra*

                  Yeah, I knew things would go this way when I saw the letter. A lot of posters have some serious issues with working parents. They tend to get shit on.

                3. The Childfree Commenter*

                  Not really. Most people who choose not to have kids, especially women, have to deal with waves of invasive, paternalistic nonsense until they’re past menopause. And then not getting flexibility at work because you chose not to procreate is the icing on the s***cake.

                  Further, I reject the premise that this is about hatred of working mothers. This is about anger at workplace policies which value certain reproductive choices over others, and in that situation there are no winners.

                4. Hills to Die On*

                  There are always people who find a way to throw a tantrum during child care discussions on AAM.

                5. Snark*

                  @ Childfree “workplace policies which value certain reproductive choices over others”

                  Do you also consider disability accomodations “workplace policies which value the disabled over others?” Or an accomodation for someone with an ailing spouse “workplace policies which value certain marital statuses over others?” Of course not, because that would be so incredibly off base. And so.

              2. Lunita*

                Yeah, there’s no way for a parent to “make sure they can handle all the arrangements without special privileges” because emergencies happen. Childcare providers get sick. Kids get sick. I agree that employers should try to be flexible with their employees in order to accommodate people’s lives, whether with or without children. Flexibility should be given for good cause across the board. But your statement is unreasonable.

                1. Pudgy Patty*

                  To that end, I mean — WORKERS get sick. They get sick days too. Doesn’t that throw off other colleagues’ responsibilities when someone is ill for the day (or perhaps even a week)? In this case, this is a planned schedule people can work around. I honestly don’t see the issue here. And as has been stated before, single people without families get promoted more. Isn’t that a by-product of the lifestyle they have chosen?

                  The comments here are extremely disappointing. And I say this as someone with no kids who doesn’t intend to have any either.

              3. Jules the 3rd*

                “Yes it’s absolutely a perk, and it’s not fair that other employees don’t get it.”

                I agree, it’s a perk. But it’s one that others in her company get.

                The ‘not fair’ and ‘privileges’ issue needs to be pointed at the inflexible manager, who is preventing her employees from getting this perk that the company offers, not at the employees who take it.

                In companies that do not offer this to all their employees, that seems like a ‘get together with other people and talk to management about it’ situation.

                It’s not ok to shame anyone for their reproductive choices. If you see something that doesn’t work for you, look through Alison’s tool kit:
                1) Determine your level of care – hill to die on or would be nice?
                2) Request for yourself
                3) Get a team together and request overall policy change
                4) Find a new job where it’s not an issue

                There’s companies where parents / non parents get similar treatment – mine treats elder care very similarly to childcare, and gives employees a lot of autonomy over their schedule.

            3. Jenny*

              Being able to change your working hours instead of having to work the exact hours set by your company is absolutely a perk.

        1. Jules the 3rd*

          OP may not have visibility into how it’s impacting others, but yes, we are all speculating here, based on our past experiences.

          Good thing is, Alison’s script is super-effective in that scenario.

      2. Goya de la Mancha*

        30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, 47 weeks a year (assuming 3 weeks of your own vacation and a week of sick days taken, with some paid holidays sprinkled in there) – that’s almost 120 hours per year that you are unable to concentrate on your work/have to do someone else’s work for them.

        Someone on this board once mentioned a Goodwill bank – and I think it totally explains any resentful feelings that one might have against a co-worker.

        1. Natalie*

          Wait, where are you getting that from? There’s nothing in the letter suggesting coworkers are covering the OP’s tasks or somehow unable to concentrate on their own work.

          1. Goya de la Mancha*

            I was replying to Temperence’s comment about how she had to cover the phone for 30 minutes daily.

    3. Mike C.*

      It’s not about haters hating, they’re legitimately upset that their boss won’t grant them the same flexibility that is granted to the OP and other folks in other departments, for seemingly arbitrary reasons.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Where did you see that others asked for the same flexibility and were denied?

        1. copier queen*

          This. My boss granted me a new schedule, and I took a big pay cut for it. Others have moaned and groaned, but have they tried to negotiate or request anything from boss? No. And what exactly do they want? Nothing…they just don’t want anyone else to receive “special” treatment.

          1. Mike C.*

            Employees should be treated equally outside of business or legal issues. If one person is allowed something, the rest should generally be allowed as well.

            1. copier queen*

              I disagree. Some employees EARN perks/special consideration. For example, high performers in my office receive additional tech tools (like double monitors) and are allowed to attend conferences more often. If you have a track record of success, many bosses will extend special opportunities that others may not receive. It may not be equal, but it’s not necessarily unfair.

        2. Mike C.*

          It was implied in the second paragraph that this is something the company at large allows but isn’t allowed in this group.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But the LW doesn’t indicate that anyone else asked for it. I wouldn’t make that assumption, even though we can guess, from the letter, that it might not go over very well.

        3. Slow Regard*

          It seems plausible to me that a reason the manager might be regretting granting LW the shifted schedule is not that her co-workers are complaining, but because they noticed the different schedule and have requested a similar accommodation for themselves (either on a regular or case-by-case basis) and now the manager feels like she’s opened a can of worms. Just to throw a different scenario out there than the “bitter colleagues are complaining” theme that seems to be popping up a lot in these comments.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            And again, Alison’s script is great for digging into this. We are all just speculating, and projecting our own experiences.

    4. Jillociraptor*

      I often dreamed of floating through various departments, ethereally singing, “Worrrrrry about yoursellllllllf.”

    5. Jennifer*

      Unfortunately in my experience, haters at work are gonna take action against you, so you can’t just blow it off as “haters gonna hate” and still live your life fine.

      I agree with Alison on this one, though.

  1. Katie the Fed*

    OP – one possibility too is that she’s not as focused on it as you think she is. She might not remember the details of the agreement and it might just frequently catch her off guard that you’re not there at 5pm. In other words, her comments might not be as malicious as they’re coming across. Sometimes I forget things like that with my employees. Doesn’t mean I’m annoyed about them – I just have 17 other employees and can’t always remember immediately the details.

    1. The OG Anonsie*

      It’s definitely a tone and context thing. It sounds like the LW, knowing this manager and hearing the way she’s doing it, knows that this is more passive-aggressive than anything else.

      OTOH if it is as you say and she really just forgets and is then put off by it when confronted with it… That’s still something she needs to handle herself rather than get frowny with the employee in question every time. It’s one thing for it to slip her mind, but if she’s regularly forgetting and then telegraphing obvious discontent to the LW, that’s something she should really be trying to tamp down. Especially since the people she’s most likely to be sending negative signals to in that case are the LW’s colleagues who are there after 4:30 every day.

      1. Lumen*

        I was trying to write something like this earlier and it just wasn’t coming out right. Thank you, OG Anonsie!

        Last week my boss forgot that I had a half-day for an appointment in the afternoon. We’d talked about it, it was on the shared calendar, but hey: she’s got a lot going on, it slipped her mind. For a moment she was thrown, but she in no way made me feel like she was annoyed or irritated… especially not with me. She just took a beat, calibrated her expectations, and we moved on.

        It’s certainly possible that the OP is reading into their manager’s tone/expression, but I’m inclined to take the OP’s perspective at face value, and I absolutely agree with this:

        “That’s still something she needs to handle herself rather than get frowny with the employee in question every time.”

        The OP’s manager could put a note on her monitor saying “OP LEAVES AT 4:30” if that’s what it takes. She agreed to this, and it’s on her to remember and stand by what she agreed to, instead of wanting the OP to remind her every day or week or go over her timesheets (that she already filled out). And OG Anonsie is right about what her irritation means to onlookers: oh hey, that means we are allowed to be annoyed with the OP, too!


        1. Lil Fidget*

          Even if she’s mildly annoyed, OP might just push through that and find there’s not a real consequence beyond her boss’ mild irritation with her. This sounds worth it to OP right now, even if long term you want your boss to think well of you.

    2. MommyMD*

      I agree that OP may be magnifying it in her head. I sometimes do. The best thing to do is simply and calmly address it.

      1. Anon for this*

        And a passive-aggressive manager won’t necessarily respond in kind to the OP calmly addressing this situation.

      2. Goya de la Mancha*

        “…OP may be magnifying it in her head. I sometimes do.”

        Don’t we all? :)

    3. Paquita*

      In my department, not only do the manager and supervisor keep the time off schedule, we get an email on Monday with who is off or leaving early, any meetings, and there is a whiteboard updated daily with relevant info as well as how much work we received.

  2. Lumen*

    Dear Managers,
    Don’t risk valuable employees and distract from productive work because you have an antiquated idea in your head of how your office will look and feel at all times to all people. For the love of everything, stop getting in the way of a functional workplace that attracts talent because some teensy part of you is stuck in another century.
    The workforce that has been clamoring for some pretty basic flexibility on your part for 50+ years

    1. Roscoe*

      I agree, but I also think you should treat people equally. One person being a parent doesn’t mean she should get something that literally no one else can.

        1. Lumen*

          This. As a non-parent I totally get the frustration of seeing parents get flexibility or understanding that non-parents don’t get, but… that is twenty miles away from the point of the letter.

      1. Lumen*

        I don’t see where that’s indicated in the letter. But also… it’s not the OP’s problem if other employees want flexible schedules, and it’s not her responsibility to give up her agreed-upon schedule to make other employees feel better. Alllll of that is the manager’s knot to untangle. The manager should be the one setting this discussion if it’s not working out somehow, and it’s a failure on their part that the OP is having to think of a way to address it.

        1. myswtghst*

          Yes, thank you. It is the responsibility of the manager (or the employer) to determine when and how they allow flexible schedules, and to communicate that policy to employees, and to enforce it in a way that is equitable. Whether or not they are doing that is not something OP can control, and isn’t a valid reason for OP to give up a schedule she negotiated to make her return from maternity leave possible.

      2. Candy*

        Except maybe literally everyone else can get the same thing if only they asked for it too.

        1. Safetykats*

          This. My workplace has a formal policy on alternate work schedules. All you have to do is formally request it, and get it approved. It’s easy to do. The problem is that people would rather whine about their schedule than make the effort, and that a lot of people focus only on the beneficial end of the schedule – the late start rather than the late stay, or the early leave rather than the early start goes with it. I have had perfectly reasonable coworkers say to me “I such I could come in late every day too.” And when I explain what they need to do to make it so, they say “Oh, but I could never stay as late as you do!” So some portion of the people are never gonna be happy, regardless.

          1. saf*

            My former workplace had that policy. I requested an alternate schedule, with lots of details about how it would work and wouldn’t mess up anyone else’s work, what I would do about sudden work needs….. the boss denied it because she didn’t like AWS. I asked HR about it, and they said that generally AWS was only for parents, and the boss could deny it for any reason – didn’t need to be a business reason.

            So while we had an AWS policy that sounded fair, it wasn’t fair.

      3. Snark*

        No, you should NOT treat people equally. You should treat them equitably. There’s a big difference, and shooting for equality often results in outcomes worse than dealing with situations in context.

      4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        You seem really stuck on this idea that the OP is receiving an unfair advantage, Roscoe.

        1. Roscoe*

          Let me be clear. I fully think the OP is justified in being annoyed that she was given something and now may have it taken away. However, as a childless person who has been working for 15 years in the professional world, it does drive me crazy when parents get perks and flexibility that would never be given to someone without kids

          1. Mad Baggins*

            I mean, I get what you’re saying. It must be very frustrating to have to work with someone who keeps making withdrawals from the Goodwill bank and never seems to make deposits, especially if you’re the person who has to pick up the slack.

            But could there be other ways that they’re making deposits that justify those perks and flexibility? Maybe your working parent coworker does get to leave early, and maybe they do work a little less than you overall. But maybe they routinely wash the dishes in the kitchen sink and refill the coffee when they take the last bit, and you don’t contribute as much there. Or maybe they make really creative contributions in meetings you wouldn’t otherwise get to. Or maybe because they leave early, your manager has a visual reminder that “butts-in-seats” isn’t important, which puts a little less pressure on you to stay late.

            I think it’s easy to be resentful of these perks in the workplace, but I think it evens out in the end when that parent has to take their crying child out of the movie theater while you get to watch the rest of the movie.

              1. Mad Baggins*

                If it’s making you jealous and resentful of people who spend their nights and weekends with tiny screaming vomit goblins, maybe you shouldn’t work there either.

                1. Commenter*

                  @The Childfree Commenter and @Roscoe –

                  You keep talking about parents making the choice to be a parent and how the act of choosing this is the key part of the puzzle.

                  You are also making choices. You are choosing to stay in companies where you feel you’re being unfairly treated. You say that if a parent has an emergency and needs 30 minutes off, you should also get 30 minutes off to do whatever you want – but look at the dichotomy there – if the “choice” vs the “need” is the sticking point, aren’t you being hypocritical by saying you should be able to CHOOSE to take the 30 minutes whereas the parent NEEDS the 30 minutes?

                  Now I know you’re going to say that the parent only NEEDS the 30 minutes as a result of a CHOICE they made. Regardless, that emergency is still firmly in the NEEDS category. It would be no different than if you CHOOSE to bike to work and your tire is flat so you now NEED 30 minutes because of an emergency.

                  Choose vs Needs is not as much of a black and white line as you’d like it to be.

            1. YellowWLS*

              @Mad Baggins Can I leave an hour earlier every day if I refill coffee and do the dishes? I will sign up IN A HEARTBEAT.

          2. Cobol*

            It seems like an odd thing to get upset about. Not because it doesn’t make sense, but because it can’t be changed. Most parents consider their kids priority 1, and their job 2. Most (not all) non parents consider their job priority 1.
            There’s evidence that non parents do get promoted more, so that’s a very real trade-off.

            1. YellowWLS*

              I’m a non-parent and I’m not interested in being promoted. I’m interested in receiving the same flexibility as my coworkers with children. It’s very simple.

          3. Observer*

            Except that you have exactly zero evidence that this would not be given to someone without kids. Yes, that does happen in some places, and that’s really bad. But that’s not true across the board. And reasonable bosses look at this stuff on a case by case basis. Which is what this boss seems to NOT be doing.

          4. J.*

            It doesn’t actually sound like her schedule is “flexible,” though? She’s negotiated coming in a half hour early and leaving a half hour early literally every day. Her schedule is SO slightly shifted and identical from day to day. I would hardly call that a flexible arrangement.

            1. Rana*

              I agree. She has an alternate schedule, with set hours. That’s not what I consider “flexible.”

    2. MLB*

      +1…unless you have a job that needs you to be there at a specific time (like a call center), companies need to be flexible within reason. For most of my career, I’ve had a long commute. And leaving 5 minutes later can make my commute 20 minutes longer. I’ve always worked out a flex schedule to save my sanity – it’s always been a part of my job negotiations. I shouldn’t have to spend 3+ hours in my car every day getting back and forth to work.

    3. Mike C.*

      Seriously. I’m tired of having to deal with antiquated policies that are more strict than what the company states because someone is stuck in 1955.

  3. Rusty Shackelford*

    It is true that since becoming a mother, I do not have the bandwidth to put in some of the extra time I used to

    This might make things trickier. If she agreed to your new schedule thinking “she works enough extra that it will all come out even in the wash,” and she doesn’t see that happening now, it be why she’s suddenly twitchy about your hours.

        1. WellRed*

          It will all come out in the wash is actually a phrase that means basically the same thing.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yes, but either it all comes out in the wash, or it all comes out even in the end. It does not come out even in the wash. ;-)

            1. Blackcat*

              Particularly with socks. I am always frustrated when they come out odd rather than even.

    1. Lumen*

      This is a good point. I’d just add that if the boss got this idea in their head that the OP would working extra, that assumption is the boss’s failing. The expectation of overtime is one of those things that needs to be explicit, whether you’re just getting hired or coming back from leave with a new schedule.

      1. designbot*

        Do you think that’s true for an employee with a track record of overtime though? I’d say that any change should be noted and it’s OP’s assumption that she could work fewer hours is the worse assumption than the boss assuming OP would work like OP’s always worked.

        1. Pollygrammer*

          Yes, I’m betting this a combination of boss being a little annoyed by the flex hours and OP generally putting in less work than she used to.

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      Take the child/new mother out of it: If someone is a superstar performer previously, and due to changes in their personal life they are now “only” meeting expectations, is that really a terrible thing?

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        No, it’s not necessarily a terrible thing. But if someone requests/demands an accommodation, and you give it to them because they’re a superstar, and then suddenly they’re only “as expected,” you might regret that accommodation and want to claw it back.

        1. PlainJane*

          And this is one reason why it’s best to avoid becoming a superstar by working tons of extra hours. When the day comes that you can’t do that anymore, you’ll be seen as performing poorly relative to your previous level and may be penalized for it. Employees who work crazy hours set unrealistic standards that they will be expected to meet throughout their time with that employer.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

            Can you please have this talk with my brother in law?

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      But it already all comes out even because she is making up the time by coming in early or taking a shorter lunch.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It sounds like she used to work her 40 hours and then some, and now she’s not working as many of the extra hours. So yes, it does still come out to 40 hours, but her boss may have expected her schedule to remain at 40+X hours.

        1. Cobol*

          That happens most of the time with parents, especially ones with newborns (If OP went back to work after a standard maternity leave then we’re talking about a 1.5-year-old.)
          The calculation for boss is not do I want this worker or the old version of her. It’s do I want this worker or do I want them gone.

            1. Cobol*

              Depends on the office. There is no standard. The three months is the standard for short term disability, but across three industries I’ve seen 4-5 more often than not, with a combination of saved vacation and short term disability.

              I was giving OP the oldest kid possible to illustrate how the kid is still very young, so time with her child is something OP “needs.”

              1. Info Architect*

                It’s actually 12 weeks for FMLA. Usually short-term disability is only 6 weeks. Either way, it’s awful and the US needs to fix it. 6 months should be the standard maternity leave, IMHO.

                1. Cobol*

                  Ah thanks. I knew it was something like that. I took 2 weeks each time, but my wife had a combination of vacation, short term disability at 60% pay, FMLA with no pay. It’s a mess. Definitely nothing standard.

            2. What's with today, today?*

              There is no standard in the US. I got 8 weeks at half pay. Some places give no time.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              um, no, US requirement is to *offer* 12 weeks (3ish mo) *unpaid*. Almost no one offers 3mo paid.

              My generous employer (Fortune 500, often shows on the ‘working parents’ lists) gave 6 weeks paid, and I could do another 6 weeks unpaid. As main breadwinner, that was a no-go. Which was ok, Mr. Jules and I were both work from home, and I was bored spitless by 6 weeks.

              But the company also offers flex time for elder care or summers, paid bereavement time for parents, some WFH options. Much more focused on ‘getting workload done’ than ‘butts in chairs’.

              1. einahpets*

                I’m aware of the time being unpaid, having gone through it twice in the last four years… I was responding to the 1.5 year comment above?

                1. Cobol*

                  For what it’s worth 1.5 years was the potential agree of the child. That includes the one year OP has been back.

        2. designbot*

          Or the boss may not have even realized how much of her excellent performance happened due to overtime, and just expected the same output.

    4. Snark*

      You’ve probably nailed it, but the tricky problem with implicit assumptions not verbalized to the person one is assuming things about is they might not actually be on the same page.

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, but that’s a pretty absurd mindset.

      OP: I need to leave at 4:30pm every day, non-negotiable.
      Manager: (thinking) Oh she’ll probably stay late like she always does!

      1. Cornflower Blue*

        Or thought that she’d come in for overtime on the weekends instead. My office has a strong culture of people getting dragged in to work on Saturdays/Sundays, so it’s possible the boss assumed that OP would be tagging on an extra day to the workweek so her stellar hours could continue.

        1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          And that’s another absurd mindset. Who in their right mind would assume that a new parent is going to want or be able to come in on weekends, to “make up” non scheduled overtime? Or be able to put in extra unpaid hours over their agreed upon schedule at all?
          I mean, I totally agree with the poster that said if you can’t get your weeks work done in 40 hrs with your regular amount of staff, you have a staffing problem, and the idea that no one should have to work unpaid or unwanted overtime, and that it’s not just bad management to expect it but exploitive.
          But new parents? Everyone knows they have a massive new responsibility that requires 24 hr care, are sleep deprived, extremely busy, etc and need all the rest & time with their child they can get. A manager that expects EXTRA from them is living in Bizarroland.

  4. Green Goose*

    OP, do you have your new schedule in writing? Or was it verbal? I’m curious b/c at my org, I used to be allowed to work remotely 1-2 days a week and after we changed locations it suddenly (without really being explained or discussed) was not okay anymore. When I tried to push-back because it had been a huge bonus for me, my boss had coldly said it wasn’t it my contract so I couldn’t really complain or do anything about it.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Ha, I misread this as “a cat at my org” was allowed to work remotely. Also, how crappy of your boss.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I’m so tired of the cats at my company getting privileges that the rest of us are denied.

    2. OP*

      Hello, OP here. The request was only verbal. Maybe it should have, but it did not occur to me to request it in writing prior to my return.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        It won’t really make a difference if they don’t want to continue something, but I’ve had good luck in the past just following up on verbal conversations with an email. Then you have that email to go back to if things get hinky in the future with a new boss / forgetful old boss / change of command.

    3. DizzyFog*

      @Green Goose – similar thing happened to me! I had been working 2-3 days/week from home and when a new COO came on board was abruptly told that there would be no more work at home allowed. I tried to negotiate, but was told it wasn’t in writing that I got to have any days, so I should just be glad that they were still going to allow it on snow days when the office was closed. I gave notice about 2 weeks later and now have a job where I work from home every single day and it is glorious.

  5. Snarkus Aurelius*

    Your boss sounds like my ex. He knew I needed X to stay in the relationship. He gave that to me “under duress” (his words) and then acted huffy about it and blamed me for his resentment. But then he didn’t want to me to dump him either.

    Your boss is missing the point here. If she truly didn’t want to grant you a flexible schedule, she should have let you go. But she doesn’t get to be irritated with something she agreed to. If there was a substantive objection, I get the impression she would have jumped at the chance to tell you. But she didn’t.

    You sound like you have a good head on your shoulders. I don’t think you’re bluffing; I think you’ll actually leave. If that’s the case, then your boss’s resentment can’t continue. If nothing changes, I’d leave anyway even if she deplores you not to. She won’t own her decision, but that’s not your problem.

    1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      That is an EXCELLENT comparison. Very same dynamic of power & control.

  6. Margot the Destroyer*

    One reason I love my job is that on my small team of 8, our schedules all vary. It is very flexible. We come in anywhere from 7-9 and leave anywhere from 4-6. Not one of us comes in at the same time or leaves at the same time and it works out just fine.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        Same here! I feel so grateful to have a boss who is completely “normal” and treats us like adults. She is very flexible as long as we get our jobs done.

      2. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        I have this too and it’s great! Some of us like to come in as early as 6am so they can leave and have plenty day left when they leave work. Others – like me – are not morning people and would rather get a few extra hours of sleep even if it means working until after 5pm.

      3. Curious Cat*

        That’s how my office is too! Everyone getting up and leaving exactly at 5 makes work feel so robotic and like it’s just a time punch. Being able to work the full amount of time but with flexibility makes it all more enjoyable

    1. Lumen*

      Same. There are workplaces where it legitimately will not work, but I think a lot of employers SAY it won’t work when what they mean is “I don’t like it”.

        1. LQ*

          I may be alone in this but I’d kind of rather have an employer who just owns the we don’t like it and doesn’t let people do it rather than technically letting people do it and then subconsciously or overtly punishing them for doing so. I’m sure some employers have come around to it’s not that bad after seeing it go well. But I really don’t like the undercurrent of I hate it but I’ll grudgingly do it and then punish you for doing the thing I say you can do. It’s fine. Say I can’t. Make that decision. Own it! It’s ok do not do flex time or wfh if you just hate it. That’s ok.
          Then we can both decide it’s a good fit or not based on what’s on the table and not get into weird bs later.

          1. GG Two shoes*

            I totally agree with you, LQ. Owning an unpopular opinion takes courage that I think many would rather just passive-aggressively hint at.

          2. myswtghst*

            You are not alone on this. When I was interviewing last time around, I really appreciated the job that told me up front that they did not do work from home and that scheduling was pretty rigid, because that allowed me to determine it would not be a good fit, and to take a job somewhere else. :)

          3. Lissa*

            Orrrr punishing people they don’t like for it, but being totally fine with people they do like doing it! /sigh. I would much rather have it an overt rule rather than “it’s totally fine to do this” and it’s ok when Maryanne does it but when Sarah does it she gets a whole bunch of extra questions and side-eye….

    2. ThatGirl*

      That was honestly the best thing about my last job – we had a lot of flexibility with our schedules and could work from home 2 days a week. As long as (roughly) 4o hours got put in and the work got done, there was no nitpicking or schedule-managing.

    3. Trout 'Waver*

      My department recently went this way after having a stickler for time. It is very nice. Good for productivity and morale.

    4. Overeducated*

      Yup. My job has core hours and a flex/compressed schedule option that most people use depending on commutes, and it just feels so civilized and calm.

  7. MommyMD*

    I see both sides. Companies should be at least slightly flexible towards a good employee’s situation. But it’s true. When one can do it, others wonder why they can’t as well. Then it’s “can I come in an hour early and leave at four”? Because everyone has responsibilities. It’s really not hating.

    Perhaps finding a job closer to home?

    1. Naptime Enthusiast*

      If a flexible schedule doesn’t impact the business and the work is getting done, then there isn’t any reason that it shouldn’t be available for everyone on the team. If there’s an issue of having coverage that’s one thing, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the problem here.

      1. Lumen*

        Exactly this. So WHAT if other employees want flexible schedules, too? Unless there is a valid business reason to deny that, maybe the manager needs to get with the times.

        1. designbot*

          And it’s okay to say everyone can try it, but if it turns out someone isn’t productive unsupervised or it otherwise isn’t working out, we’re going to have to address it. And follow through with addressing those situations as they arise instead of deciding that takes it off the table for everyone.

    2. Anonygoose*

      But unless there are good business reasons for it (like covering the phones, or the building is locked before 9:00, etc.), why shouldn’t an employee be allowed to come in early and leave at four?

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I dunno, I’m on OP’s side, but when we had someone on my small team who took this schedule to beat traffic, it really worked out poorly. We get a ton of end-of-day business come in, people reaching out after 4PM with urgent needs. My coworker had always sailed out the door right before things got busy. And in the mornings, when she was enjoying an hour of (I assume) perfect silence, there wasn’t really any work for her to be doing, since her main job was to be responsive to others – others who weren’t contacting her that early. The company really missed out when she switched to that schedule and I know my boss regretted allowing it.

        1. GG Two shoes*

          But in that instance, your boss could have said that it isn’t reasonable for her position and said no. She could also come back and say, ‘well we tried it but it’s actually necessary for your job to be here until 5pm.’ Again, this would be a management fail, not on the worker who asked.

    3. MLB*

      Finding a job closer to home isn’t always an option. If they’re offering a flex schedule the to LW, then yes it should be an option for all. But that’s really not the LW’s problem. I work a flex schedule to save my sanity because traffic where I live is ridiculous. But we all have that option and nobody resents me for it.

      1. Windchime*

        Same here. I work in Seattle, the land of insane and terrible traffic. Leaving the house 15 minutes late can easily add an additional 45 minutes to my commute. So I start work at 6 AM and leave around 2 or 2:30. I’m not the earliest one in, either. Others wait until rush hour is over and come in around 9:30 or 10. Fortunately, our jobs lend themselves well to this kind of a schedule. I feel like Seattle employers are pretty flexible, since everyone is aware that coming in 8-5 would be commuter hell.

        1. Alpha Bravo*

          OMG, condolences. That is some crazy traffic. I live across the water from you and if I have any choice at all I won’t even drive on your side!

    4. Kate*

      I kind of hate this idea that if employers give one person a perk, then everybody needs to get it. I mean, it’s true that good employers should want to accommodate their employees, and the flexible schedule in this case is accommodating the OP, but that doesn’t mean everyone should get it. OP is a high performer with strong reviews, so some flexibility is warranted. It would make sense that an employer would not want to provide the same flexibility for a poor performer. If employees started to ask to leave at 4 every day, the employer can still refuse saying that’s too early. Or if everyone wants to leave at 4:30, the employer can say no, they need to have some people until 5. There is no reason an employer can’t address situations on a case-by-case basis for their employees. Being open to discussions of flexibility is the fairness, not actually providing the same perk to everyone. Additionally, there is a fair chance not everyone would even want the same perk. Personally, I am more productive in the afternoon and hate getting up early in the morning, so I wouldn’t want the OP’s schedule. But maybe the employer can offer flexibility to other employees in different ways.

      1. KHB*

        But if perks are being granted or withheld based on performance, then that needs to be communicated somehow, because otherwise it looks arbitrary (and could still BE arbitrary if the manager’s perception of who the high performers are is highly subjective). Fair treatment doesn’t necessarily require equal treatment, but fairness is still important.

      2. PlainJane*

        Thank you. We don’t expect everyone to be paid the same, so why should we expect everyone to get the same perks? Sometimes there are performance reasons for denying a perk, and sometimes the nature of a particular position makes that perk unworkable (working from home is a good example for both of these). The key, as KHB says below, is to make the criteria clear to everyone, so that people can see they are being treated fairly.

        1. Kate*

          Yes. Performance doesn’t have to be the only factor. Could be nature of the position or seniority or something else. I was trying to find an AAM letter that I swear was along the lines of “Is it fair that my manager lets my coworker do such-and-such?” and Alison’s response was basically, “You don’t know what their agreement is.” But alas, I came up empty. My point would have been that I agree managers should be communicating these things with their employees, but that doesn’t mean they need to make a big announcement when they make accommodations for someone. If an employee complains, the manager can explain, we made these accommodations for whatever reason. If the employee asks for similar accommodations, I think the manager should have a discussion with them about it and explain why either those accommodations will or will not work (and if it doesn’t, is there something else that might?). That’s what I see as being fair. But I don’t think employees grumbling about how unfair it is that the OP gets to leave 30 minutes early should be a factor in retracting this perk for her unless the grumbling was due to some significant impact to their work. Then that should be communicated to the OP as a reason this might not be working.

      3. Yorick*

        But the perk isn’t really about OP’s performance, it’s about OP’s new baby. The boss approved this in a discussion of OP coming back from maternity leave.

        I see commenters acting like nobody else has asked for flexibility, but we don’t know that. Maybe it wasn’t approved for anybody else because they aren’t coming back from maternity leave.

        In that situation, it’s not really fair that other people don’t have the perk. Someone else might have several kids who need to be picked up from different schools, but boss is worried about timekeeping so they don’t get to leave at 4:30. (of course, non-parents should get flexibility too)

        1. Natalie*

          It’s about the OP’s performance because her high performance is why she was granted the schedule change, according to her letter.

          1. myswtghst*

            And her high performance is presumably why her boss wanted her to come back from maternity leave, and was (at least initially) willing to work with her to make that happen.

        2. Kate*

          The OP asked for the accommodation because of the new baby, but that is NOT the reason it was granted. That decision lied with the manager, and a good manager would have assessed how this schedule would impact the operations of the company and whether she thought the OP would still be productive with these adjustments (being a strong performer is an indicator that she would). You mentioned that people are assuming other’s didn’t ask for similar flexibility, but it seems like you are just assuming the opposite, that they did and were denied. We have no idea about any of that. Honestly, the OP’s manager sounds like a jerk, so I find it entirely plausible that she is not treating everyone fairly, but my point was being fair does not mean everyone gets to leave at 4:30. It means that the manager should objectively provide the same consideration for each employee asking for flexibility, that is “How will this impact the business?” and “Will this employee still be productive under these new arrangements?”

    5. LadyKelvin*

      She says that other departments have similar accommodations for people, but her manager is a butt-in-the-seat-till-5 type of person and that’s why this is a problem. I think OP could bring up the fact that other departments have the kind of flexibility she needs so it is within the normal of the organization. Plus I don’t think she’s asking for anything egregious. Presumably she is not working a job where she has to be there from 9-5, she just has a boss who thinks that’s the only way of working.

      1. Lil Fidget*

        I wonder if she could pursue a transfer to one of those other departments. Might not be possible, but I can dream for OP!

    6. Candy*

      Then it’s “can I come in an hour early and leave at four”?

      … Then the company might want to look at whether they really, truly have a need for their staff to stay until 5.

    7. OP*

      Hello, OP here. Finding a job closer to home has occurred to me. I’m overall comfortable and not dying to leave (unless I am forced to give up my current schedule) but I have started doing some soft looking around. I work within a University system and there are a couple schools that are closer by and I could definitely make a 5:00 departure time work.

      I understand some of my colleagues maybe not being fond of my leaving early for family reasons, but I did ask for it and get it. Everyone else is free to make a similar case based on their own personal needs.

      1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        What about a daycare closer to work? That’s what I ended up having to do, find a center that I could get to quickly even if it meant a longer drive with the baby. Now that he’s a bit older, I appreciate the chance to “talk” in the car during our drive. He’s probably of a similar age to your daughter, so he babbles and I pretend I understand him, but it’s a fun way to pass the commute.

        1. Elise*

          Yep, that’s what I do. Her preschool is 3 minutes from work, which means we can talk in the car on the way home and also I can attend any mid-day parent invited activities and use my lunch break for them. It’s nice that even with two working parents she gets to have someone at almost all of her events. This may or may not be an option for the OP, but I was lucky that one of the highest regarded schools was close to my work.

          To the OP’s actual question, it sucks that she’s such a stickler for an 8-5 schedule. In my office, we have to have coverage form 8-5, which just means one person in the room. We organically have that coverage with a combo of late and early schedules. I feel in most offices that would be the case, but it stinks that some bosses won’t even explore the option.

        2. Cobol*

          It seems like OP has made the decision based on what’s important to her. In a few years school starts and she has the same problem.

          OP I’d keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe bring it up like Allison suggests, but that may escalate things to where you have to ramp up the job search.

      2. srs*

        Hi OP, I want to share my experience because I think it may be relevant. I recently left a job where the tipping point was an increased commute (new office building) and a lack of scheduling and WFH flexibility. There were other issues, but I loved my projects and liked the vast majority of my colleagues and probably wouldn’t have started looking if it wasn’t for my boss being so rigid about office face time. I was offered a comparable position almost immediately and, even though I wasn’t initially super excited about the job itself, I decided to take it because I knew it would make my life logistically easier.

        OP, it’s been 3 months now and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER I can’t even tell you. I didn’t realize how stressed and demoralized I’d gotten in my old job until I left. It had just crept up on me. It takes me max 30 minutes to get to work and no I longer start and end each day feeling rushed and stressed. Also, I can WFH pretty much whenever I want with no justification needed. I still come into the office most days, but the fact that I can stay home if I need to, no questions asked, is so liberating. As an added bonus I feel much more trusted and supported in my new job, which I think goes along with the flexible work culture. My bosses trust that I will do my job and do it well. The see my results so they don’t need to see my face.

        I guess I’m saying that I strongly encourage you keep on with your job search and be open to the opportunities that come up. You might not realize how unhappy your job is making you until you leave.

    8. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Honestly, that’s not the OP’s concern. The manager accepted that schedule when the OP came back; if she’s going to be a total hardass to everyone else on the team, that’s her morale problem to manage, not the OP’s.

    9. Newlywed*

      Just jumping in to say…that’s a nice thought, but it’s not always possible. I’ve lived in a certain major metropolitan area for 6 years now, and I have yet to have a job where my commute was under 1 hour each way, even though I’ve moved around to different areas of the city and worked in different areas of the city as well. My spouse has also worked in different parts of the city, and we always had to pick a place that was in between to live. It’s unrealistic to expect people to be able to find a job that’s close to home and “just move” because there are always other factors involved. I would LOVE to live close to work, but that would mean uprooting the rest of my family, who also have needs, or possibly changing from a job in my field at a good company to settling for something crappy just because it’s close to my house. It so happens that jobs in my field are not as plentiful as some, and that becomes more and more true the further up the ladder you climb. I am fortunate that I have the flexibility at my company to set my own schedule around a less burdensome commute (for the most part). Managers need to measure results, not count butts in seats, like giant child surveying an ant farm.

    10. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      OP only came back to the job because Boss agreed to an accommodation that OP made clear was a non-negotiable. If Boss has said “no”, OP would have said her goodbyes and found another job that could accommodate her needs.
      I wouldn’t blame OP if she wants to change jobs just to get away from this jackass of a boss who pulled a bait & switch on her, but she shouldn’t have to change jobs to fix this- it’s her bosses duty to do so, and without going back on her word.

  8. Catalin*

    Even if the boss agrees to ‘allow’ the (incredibly TINY adjustment), LW might want to look for jobs where the boss cares more about results than butts-in-seats between 8 and 5. *cough, power-crazed, cough*

    The fact that you see your boss as someone who wants to throw weight around is very, very telling.

      1. Lily in NYC*

        But OP sees her that way and I think that’s what matters here. She explained it as a personality trait of the boss.

          1. MCMonkeyBean*

            The point Catalin is trying to make is that how OP sees the boss matters to OP’s job satisfaction.

      2. Health Insurance Nerd*

        The LW specifically states that her boss has been promoted and “might want to throw her weight around”

          1. Triplestep*

            Potential weight-throwing aside, the OP describes her boss as “… generally hyper-focused on timekeeping and face time”, which is probably where Catalin’s butts-in-seats comment came from. Having had a grand-boss like this (while the rest of the company was flexible about remote work) I think the OP’s concern is warranted.

          2. bending, bending*

            As a reader, I generally find it best to assume that LWs have a pretty good grasp on their situation and are telling the truth. There are many theories, assumptions, and hypothesis readers can have or make about the situations in letters, but the reality is we have only a tiny bit of the story and nothing beyond the words written by the LW to tell us a thing. It does everyone a disservice to create a story beyond what was written, and especially to hold tight to that assumption, the assumption being nothing more than fiction that was added by someone who has nothing to do with the story.

      3. Myrin*

        It’s a potential thing OP brought up. From the letter: “especially since she has recently been promoted to the head of the department and might want to throw her weight around in her new role”

      4. Mike C.*

        The manager is preventing employees from taking advantage of a company-wide perk without a business reason for doing so.

      5. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Boss is all about power & control. That’s why she’s trying to pull a bait & switch on OP

  9. Amy S*

    Per the last paragraph of Allison’s answer, I wouldn’t bring it up on our own. I’d let her do it. She agreed to it and if she has a problem with it now that’s her issue. She’s a grown up and a manager. She should be able to address issues with her employees in a mature way. But that could just be me. I don’t deal well with people who like to just passively hint that they are upset. My ex used to do this all the time, and make me do the emotional heavy lifting by starting all of our important discussions. If someone is bothered, they should say something. I’m not going to do that work for them.

    1. MommyMD*

      If your boss is upset at you, valid or not, that’s your issue. Calmly addressing it without enmity can clear the air. The comparison between romantic partners and office superiors doesn’t really work. One has direct control over your livelihood. Much better to calmly address the situation.

      1. Anon for this*

        Some managers don’t want you to do the emotional heavy lifting of addressing a situation like this with them. They just want the situation to not exist, period, and will punish you for trying to address it proactively.

      2. J.B.*

        When I had a passive aggressive boss, annoyed comments were the norm. But they didn’t usually amount to much. Not bringing up the annoyed comments was the best short term solution, and finding a different job was the best long term solution. (Because the whole passive aggressiveness from a boss who was a micro manager who didn’t have time to micromanage – wasn’t fun.

    2. Leela*

      I agree that they should say something but if they’re not, I think AMA is right here, as someone who used to work in HR. If there truly is resentment on the boss’ part it’s just going to fester the longer it doesn’t get brought up. It doesn’t bode well for the kind of manager she is that she 1) seems to have a big problem with something she’d agreed to and 2) seems to be making a show of it but not addressing it, but OP’s work life is going to get worse and worse until this gets brought up. And if even if everyone else in the office is truly resenting OP or wondering why she’s leaving early, it’s on the manager to address it on some level and explain that it was a situation worked out prior to OP’s return, not cower helplessly going “everyone’s upset with me for letting her leave early!!” **

      I’ve been in similar situations as the one you’re describing: always having to rip off the bandaid and be the one to say something every time. It sucks. But from a professional standpoint, it needs to be dealt with. She’s risking her professional reputation by letting this continue, even though she shouldn’t have to. Same as someone shouldn’t have to tell a harassing manager or coworker to stop, it just shouldn’t be happening, but it is unfortunately the unfair situation she’s placed in.

      **Having said that, I am ambivalent about the parental schedule for things brought up above. As a society I do think we are massively failing people in general but especially families who have to scramble to raise children in a world that expects them to work like they don’t have any, where childcare is cost prohibitive for many. When I was in college I worked someone with another woman who had kids and demanded every weekend off so she could get two days off (no school, no work) to spend both days with her kids. Our manager caved, which resulted in me getting zero days off, for over 8 months. I brought this up constantly and our manager went “well she has kids, I just couldn’t DO that to her, to take one of her days!!” Because of poor transit and the location of my apartment and school, I didn’t really have the option to leave and had to just put up with it. I’m also on chemo currently, though at the moment I’m able to still work. I’ve had uncooperative managers let parents go for school choir performances and what have you but push back very, very hard on when I schedule my health stuff. It builds resentment pretty quickly

      1. PlainJane*

        Working mom of special needs kid here with 2 other family members who have chronic health conditions. I included that preamble to establish that I do understand the struggle of balancing family needs (kids and other) with work. All that said: Parents shouldn’t get special privileges, and time off requests should be treated fairly. Everyone should be able to take vacation time, everyone should have access to flexible schedules if business needs allow, and no one should be harassed for using sick leave for its intended purpose. I’ve needed different types of flexibility at different points in my career, and that flexibility has definitely been part of my decision to accept positions and stay in them. As a manager, I’ve also granted flexibility for a variety of reasons, from childcare to filmmaking (had an employee who was a filmmaker and needed chunks of time off to shoot movies). Good employees are an organization’s most valuable asset. Good managers care more about results than butts in seats.

      2. Observer*

        There is a huge difference between that happened to you and what the OP is asking for, though. Even if this were a coverage heavy position, you’re looking at a half hour a day during normal work hours, not NO days off, not even normal week ends, for 8 months. Even the first is something I would be reluctant to do, but the no days or weekends is just unconscionable. And it doesn’t even seem like it was even a childcare issue. Compared with what the OP is asking for, it’s like apples and eggplants.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        In this situation, the manager’s correct choice is to hire a third person, or to take 1 weekend / mo themselves, or require the coworker to work one weekend day / mo. If it means reducing your / your coworkers hours, then each of you lose a shift, or cover your manager’s weekday ones. It is management’s responsibility to balance the needs of all their employees with the needs of the business.

    3. Jules the 3rd*

      I think that the scrip Alison gives is really good for taking proactive, assertive control of OP’s options.

  10. The OG Anonsie*

    Jiminy Christmas I can’t imagine having a mindset that made me agitated for over a solid calendar year that one of my employees had moved their schedule up by a half hour. To have such problems.

    I know if I say this people will start enumerating all the situations in which those 30 minutes could be significant, but there are also a metric buttload of roles and offices where this matters about as much as a fly fart. Knowing this is a butts-in-seats manager and guessing that the LW isn’t just conveniently leaving out that someone else has to go sit at the front desk for those 30 minutes every day to cover for her or something, I’m comfortable saying this is petty as all get out.

    If it does come up in the review, I’d love to see the manager’s reaction to being given Alison’s responses here. She’ll probably sputter a little and then turn around on that year of heavy sighs pretty quickly– although if I were the LW I’d start investigating moving on either way, since it sounds like the fit issue is becoming gradually larger. Even if your manager doesn’t push it any harder than that, having someone be obviously unhappy with you like that is not a great situation to be working under.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Seriously. We’re talking a half an hour here. The OP says nothing about any business reasons that make it necessary to stay until 5 (like working in a call center and needing to be working at specific times to have appropriate coverage, etc) so I’m assuming that doesn’t apply to her. It’s 30 minutes, and it makes the OP’s life about 1000 times easier. What is the big deal?

      I work from home 3 days a week, but my boss gets uptight about the days we’re in the office sometimes, which I don’t get. Everyone on my team has very different jobs and areas of expertise. It’s not like we work together on things when we’re in the office. And on the occasions where we do need to talk or work together on something, Skype and Webex fit the bill just fine.

      A couple weeks ago we had a holiday on a Monday. On the prior Friday my boss said that since we had the holiday we could make our office days Tuesday and Thursday that week instead of Monday and Wednesday. I was wondering why it made any difference, and why we couldn’t just have one week where we were in the office for 1 day. But I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize my work from home benefit, so I agreed. And really in the grand scheme of things, I was more annoyed that my regular routine was going to be disrupted more than anything else. And then after all that, Tuesday turned out to be a snowy day with terrible traffic, so we all ended up working from home anyway, as planned.

  11. Super EA*

    Omg this is me to a DOT two years ago. Your boss seem very similar to my former boss as well – she didn’t have compassion or any comprehension of what it is to have an infant and commute and make it in time to daycare, despite being a woman herself (grrrrr). I was also there for 5 years when I finally quit! Long story short, when coming back from maternity leave I told her that I would need to start leaving work at 4 to make it on time (our daycare closed at 5), and she agreed as long as I came in at 8 and didn’t take a break. And then she kept saying I was making mistakes because I was tired and needed to take breaks, so she told me I either continued working in the bus on my way home or put in more hours answering emails at home at night, or we would have to discuss me going part time. I couldn’t afford going part time, and didn’t have the time to put in in the evening (duh, I have an infant?) so I started working from the bus during that hour commuting in the evening and would get home so motion sick and stressed out that I would puke sometimes. She finally told me I needed to get a paycut and go part time because I was putting less than 40 hours a week (but I knew that I was!). Mind you that I was looking for another job the whole time, and I finally found one 10 minutes from my house, bigger pay and zero stress, where I have been since. I have 3 male bosses now who give me less than 1% of the stress that that woman did, and leave work at 5 on the dot and don’t take work home. (kids now on preschool and it closes at 6 so life did get much better. Yours will too).
    Please start looking for another job if you haven’t yet. You have enough on your plate and do not need to live in this kind of stressful work situation. It took me more than an year to find my wonderful new job, but I did, and my sanity and my family thank me every day.

    1. MuseumChick*

      This touches on a something I think is very important to remember in the workplace (and most of life really). Just because someone is part of X group doesn’t mean the will understand/sympathize with Y issue.

      1. Helena*

        Oh absolutely! I had a very high risk pregnancy (lots of appointments, emergency admission to hospital at week 29, stayed as an inpatient from then until until son born at 36 weeks).

        My male bosses were supportive and sympathetic. One female boss was great, the other two were really cartoonishly horrible (including one giving me a bad review for “leaving the office understaffed” by being admitted to hospital).

        1. cactus lady*

          Oh my god! I am sorry but also kind of glad to know I am not the only one who has received the “you left the office understaffed because you were admitted to the hospital” bad review. What the actual heck is wrong with these people.

          1. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            What are people like that even thinking? That you decided to shirk your job duties by having a convenient emergency? UGH!

    2. Naptime Enthusiast*

      That is incredibly frustrating, I’m glad you found a better fit for you and your family. I do agree that breaks are important during the day, but forcing you to work on the bus was NOT a reasonable fix!

    3. Bea*

      Your old boss was a wreck and sucked but being focused on her being a woman and not having sympathy for you is a nasty slope to be on. Then suddenly bringing up having 3 bosses and their gender conveniently being the opposite of the nasty old boss, ouch.

      Other women do not owe you sympathy because we share a gender. She was over the top but if a man did that, he would still be a disgrace despite not being supposedly able to carry a baby and be a mother.

      1. Super EA*

        True, and I realize my comment was sexist – there are good and bad male and female bosses and to be honest I’ve experienced them all. I regret putting it under that light, and now thinking about it, I think this kind of sexism that I let slip here is a little more common than we’d like to believe – when I would tell my friends the hell I was enduring under this woman’s management, I would often hear sexist opinions, even from my female friends, even from the a couple of them that aren’t mothers and are managers themselves! She’s ‘ probably jealous’ because she wants what you want and doesn’t even have a boyfriend was one of the comments I heard a few times. Terribly sexist, I realize, and I know it’s up to us women to change this. Thanks for calling me out on it. ;)

        1. Bea*

          Thank you for seeing the error, it happens to the best of us especially when frustrated and venting!

          I always remember how my first gyno experience was a woman doctor because someone convinced me they “understand women’s bodies so much better and are more compassionate!”. Nope nope nope rudest, coldest woman I ever met. My next visit years later was a guy who did gynecology for 50 years. The kindest doctor I’ve ever had in my life, I cried when be finally retired! And since then I’ve had doctors of each gender and specialty, they’re all different and their own person.

        2. Lehigh*

          Wow, that’s a pretty gross comment from some of your friends. Your old boss sounds like a petty tyrant, though. Good on you for finding a better place. And good on you for working on the old internalized misogyny. :-)

  12. Anon for this*

    If your boss has always prioritized butt-in-seats, why did you think she would eventually respond to your request with anything other than passive-aggression?

    If she’s uneasy with this, then nothing you do is going to change the fact that your request for a flexible schedule will overshadow basically everything else that you bring to the position. It doesn’t really matter how good at the job you are in a situation like this, so don’t think that you’ll be able to compensate for the flex schedule by being a superstar otherwise – in fact, that may backfire.

    Also, if your boss is showing signs of passive-aggression about your arrangement, then it’s not terribly likely that she’ll want to have a candid discussion about optics vs. operational requirements, especially if *you* initiate it.

    Just because your organization supports flexible schedules doesn’t mean that any specific manager will. Remember this in your job search. I’m sorry to be so negative about this, but it’s just so much easier to work for a manager whose values are well-aligned with your organization’s policies on these sorts of things.

  13. Kaittastic*

    I want to know why the boss seems to be pushing back on this. That’s why I really think the letter writer needs to bring this up. I’m a very flexible supervisor, I think (hope so!). But if an employee came to me demanding a schedule change, I would be a little taken back by it. We have set hours for a reason, it really does impede with the work flow if someone changes their hours to leave early. It really depends on the job and the type of work so while I completely understand the struggles with childcare, I won’t assume the worst of the boss. There might be a valid reason, but if not then it might be worth issuing this as an ultimatum.

    1. the_scientist*

      But the boss also had the opportunity to say “those hours won’t work” OVER A YEAR AGO when they were discussing the OP returning from mat leave. Sounds like the OP made it pretty clear that this “flexibility” (I’m really, really hesitant to call 30 minutes a flexible working arrangement) was a condition of her returning to the workplace. It’s fine if there are set hours, it’s really not fine for the boss to agree to something that she didn’t really want to agree to in the first place and then be passy-assy about it for a literal year.

      1. Grad Student*

        Yes, this. I don’t think the issue is that the boss doesn’t like the arrangement, full stop, it’s that the boss agreed to the arrangement but doesn’t like it and is showing it passive-aggressively.

      2. Blossom*

        Exactly. It’s not like the OP just casually mentioned “Oh, I’m off early – don’t worry, I took a shorter lunch break” on her way out the door one evening. This was all discussed and agreed to in advance. If the boss seriously wants to change her mind now, she should say so properly – and apologetically, to be honest.

      3. Engineer Girl*

        There is a huge, huge difference between theoretical and actual. At the time of the discussion it may have seemed workable. The boss also may have assumed that the OP would maintain their high productivity.

        But that hasn’t been the case. OP isn’t as productive as in the past (though still a good performer). Other issues also may have come up in the actual execution that weren’t foresee at the time of the original discussion.

        OP stated that there was no discussion of a trial period. I’m not sure that is relevant. The agreement was made with certain assumptions that aren’t being met. It is completely reasonable to revisit the agreement in light of actual (Vs theoretical) data.

        The boss shouldn’t be passive agressive about it though.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          BTW, while the OP said there was no drop in the quality of their work, they inferred that there was a drop in the quantity.
          In some places that would be enough of a reason to pull the perk.
          I can see that the manager might want the OP to work more hours in order to get back the quantity of the work.
          That’s all on the table for a one on one discussion between OP and manager.

          1. OP*

            Hello, OP here. I am honestly not sure that my implication of a drop in work quantity was accurate. I am pretty established in my duties and handle pretty much everything I was handling prior to maternity leave, with some things added and some things removed as just part of the natural course of business. But *I* feel different now as a worker because I need to shift focus so clearly after I leave the office, so work just takes up less space in my head when I am not here. Whereas before it wasn’t a big thing for me to hang until 5:30 just to finish up what I was doing, now I cannot do so, so I am IMO extra productive during my required working hours. At my review last year, a few months after I returned, my manager actually remarked with some surprise and praise that I seemed to just pick up where I’d left off and had adjusted back well. Though it’s possible her opinion has changed in the almost one year since. Just wanted to clarify.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              This is a key discussion point. If the manager has no complaints in this area you have far greater standing to push back.

            2. Engineer Girl*

              Talk to her now though. If there are complaints you don’t want to discover them on your performance review (part of the official record).

            3. Daisy Steiner*

              I’m so much more productive since going on maternity leave! I used to be such a dawdler (though still performing adequately) but having a small baby really beat that out of me!

        2. Observer*

          You don’t know that the OP is not as productive as in the past. In any case, if that’s the issue, it’s on the manager to put it on the table. Passive aggressive requests to “explain” the schedule are NOT appropriate in any way.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            It is true that since becoming a mother, I do not have the bandwidth to put in some of the extra time I used to,

            The OP has stated it. They are working less hours and therefore less productive.

            1. myswtghst*

              For the record, less hours doesn’t automatically equal less productive. If the extra hours are required for coverage reasons, that’s one thing, but I often get more done when my time is limited because I know I don’t have time to visit AAM or hang out in the break room if I’m going to leave right at 4:30pm on the dot.

            2. Observer*

              No, the OP is not doing as much EXTRA work, but there is no indication that she’s being less productive when she is in the office.

              1. Jules the 3rd*

                whoa – that’s uncalled for. Engineer Girl has a lot of constructive comments. Please don’t generalize (meanly! the irony burns!) from one comment.

        3. Goya de la Mancha*

          “There is a huge, huge difference between theoretical and actual.”

          This :)

          “The boss shouldn’t be passive agressive about it though.”

          and this!

      4. myswtghst*

        Yes, this. And not only this – the boss has had the opportunity EVERY SINGLE WORKDAY since then to talk to OP if this is not working. If there is a real, work-related reason this schedule is not working, or if OP’s productivity is suffering, or if OP’s coworkers are being negatively impacted by her leaving 30 minutes earlier than them, the boss is responsible for meeting with OP and explaining why it is not working – the OP is not responsible for reading the boss’s mind.

        Not only has the boss not clearly communicated to the OP that there is an issue, the boss has gone so far as to make passive-aggressive swipes at the arrangement she approved. As a result, I suspect the boss doesn’t have a concrete reason for wanting OP to change her schedule back, other than “but we’re supposed to work 9-5 like the song says!” and is instead hoping if she keeps making disapproving noises in the OP’s direction, somehow OP’s situation will magically change.

    2. mf*

      Even if there’s a good business reason for it and the boss is being entirely reasonable for waiting the OP to be at work until 5 PM, it’s probably worth it to the OP to issue the ultimatum. Reasons or reasonableness aside: the boss did agree to this schedule and the OP only went back to work because of the agreement. It sounds like the OP can’t stay at this job without this flexible schedule, so something’s got to give.

  14. Kariel*

    Boss at previous job would say we can leave a little early or come in late as long as we made up the time somewhere that week.

    That’s what he said at the beginning at least. Old job didn’t require phone or customer coverage, so it was easy to catch up.

    And yet, when a coworker negotiated an earlier start and end time (WITH HIM because of her commute), he would come in pissed every day because he would often come in by the time she had left for the day, and not see her at her desk.

    Didn’t matter that she always got her work done and then some. Didn’t matter that it didn’t impact the rest of us. Every few weeks he would call her into his office to argue with her about it and try to change her schedule despite the fact that the set flexibility was the reason she took the job.

    Hell, if you were in the bathroom around the time he happened to come in, he would often glare at you when you returned or call you in to demand to know why you were late, and still grumble once you called for a witness to verify that you had come on time.

    And yet boss still pretends we have some

    1. Green Goose*

      I have seen this crop up too. I think some bosses want to appear flexible and agree to things without thinking them through, or they don’t want to discuss why they feel a certain way (example, they feel like work isn’t getting done when they can’t see it with their eyes, but they know this sounds bad/isn’t a good argument, so they’ll make up excuses for why a person has to be at their desk).

      I wish that more managers would know themselves better when they make decisions like this, or be clear that changes are on a “trial run” instead of permanent when they aren’t happy with it.

    2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      “ if you were in the bathroom around the time he happened to come in, he would often glare at you when you returned or call you in to demand to know why you were late”

      What? I just…WHAT? And you had to provide witnesses (couldn’t he just check when you clocked in?) and he still didn’t believe you?

      Did you work for Ebenezer Scrooge? LOL

  15. Erin*

    I would be preparing for your worst case scenario, which would be you leaving. That would probably mean you’d have to pull your kid out of daycare, and then you’ll be going on interviews (assuming you want to return to the working world), which would mean you’d need to to secure child care while you’re on interviews, and then if you go another job, you’d need a daycare again, and you might have given up your daycare spot and be unable to get back into that daycare (especially since you have an infant and they can only have two infants per employee, or at least that’s how it is in my state, making infant spots difficult to come by).

    I don’t mean to be negative, but if you really are willing to lose your job over this you’ll have to think about what’s going to come next after that.

    When you have this inevitable conversation with your boss I might ask her what else you could do on your end to make this more feasible. Maybe there’s something you haven’t thought of that she’ll suggest.

    I suppose switching daycares could be another option, but I’m sure you’ve already thought of that and shopped around.

    Best of luck to you! Balancing this stuff is so, so hard. Please write back with an update!

    1. Woman*

      Why would she have to pull her kid out of day care at all? People can have their kids in day care while they’re temporarily out of work. They can also secure that new offer while they still have a job– which is common advice given here.

      1. I like French braids*

        Yes. And daycares that are safe and well-respected have wait-lists and deposits. It’s not like finding a new hairstylist. It’s expensive and time consuming. Finding a new job while still employed is definitely the way to go when possible.

          1. soon 2be former fed*

            I can attest to that. My long time (twenty plus years) hairdresser died unexpectedly at age 47. He was a dear friend also, but boy was it hard finding someone new.

    2. Lynn Whitehat*

      Would it be possible to get a different manager or be in a different department? If you’re otherwise happy there, that might be less disruptive than switching companies.

    3. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      She was willing to not come back to this job over this in the first place, and wouldn’t have if Boss had not agreed to the alternate schedule.

  16. Caryatis*

    This is not about daycare. OP took on a 3-hour daily commute (if she has to leave at 4:30 to be at daycare by six) and now she’s asking for special arrangements for it? I would be annoyed too if I were the manager. As a general rule, your commute is your choice, but also your problem. You need to find some way to get into work at the standard hours, which includes considering the commute time BEFORE moving.

    1. justsomeone*

      No, this is about the boss agreeing to a shift in schedule (whatever the reason) and being huffy and passive aggressive about it now that it’s in effect. OP negotiated a shift, boss agreed. Boss needs to honor that agreement.

      1. Luna*

        Sort of, but bosses can change the agreement at any time if they want. This isn’t written in stone. But OP’s boss is behaving very passive-aggressively rather than having a direct conservation with OP.

        1. Rick*

          “bosses can change the agreement at any time if they want.”

          Thank you for saying this. Consent is revocable.

          Doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for the boss to do, but we should recognize it is within her purview to do so.

              1. Tuesday Next*

                It’s arbitrary and capricious if there’s no business reason for it, but because the boss suddenly finds it annoying. It’s also expensive and disruptive to the company to have to replace a good employee, so a good manager will make some effort to retain those employees.

              2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                It’s arbitrary and capricious when you want to take away something from an employee that they presented as a set in stone, non negotiable condition of working there, and which you also agreed to.

                That’s called “bait & switch “.

    2. Lumen*

      But it sounds like this happened during maternity leave, and that’s why the OP talked to her manager about it before coming back to work (and her coming back doesn’t sound like it was a foregone conclusion, from the letter). And the manager agreed to the change. The OP did her due diligence before coming back to work, but now she’s getting blowback after (reasonably) thinking this was settled.

      If the manager didn’t think it was going to work, the time to bring that up was when the OP asked for it, a month before returning to work. If the manager has discovered after the fact that this isn’t working, then going over timesheets to ‘clarify’ hours or being frowny at the OP isn’t the right way to address it. Schedule a meeting and talk to your employee, don’t just get snitty with them.

    3. Bea*

      All the manager had to do was refuse her request. Then it’s back on the employee to accept it or find a new job. The problem is the manager accepted the change in the first place.

      I agree with you that otherwise the burden is on the employee if you have a commute. She didn’t just change her hours without approval though.

    4. KHB*

      It sounds like the commute is 90 minutes each way only in the worst-case scenario, since the OP implies that if she left at 5:00 she could get to daycare on time most days but not every day. But it’s the worst-case scenario that she needs to plan her schedule around, since she doesn’t have anyone to fill in for her at daycare if she’s running late.

      1. Creag an Tuire*

        Plus, if her commute is like mine, a 35-minute commute can double or worse during Peak Rush Hour.

      2. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        Yeah I am also pretty sure OP is not basing her commute time on getting there right on the dot of six when they close.

    5. Gen*

      It sounds like they moved while she was on maternity leave and OP may well have not been planning on coming back to that job. The manager certainly seems to have been worried she wasn’t coming back. So the OP did account for it- by getting the hours change, and the manager got what she wanted- the OP coming back at all. If the manager didn’t want to offer that accommodation then she should have sucked it up and taken the risk of losing the OP. If the manager wants to rescind it and OP won’t accept that then OP leaves and the manager has to find someone else.

    6. Ambivalent*

      This is harsh. It sounds like the commute is more like 1h – probably not that unusual for workplaces in metropolitan areas. But being at daycare RELIABLY is the issue. If you are late even occasionally, not only are you often fined by the daycare, but it means a teacher has to stay late just for your child. People need to move for all kinds of reasons – maybe with the additional child they couldn’t afford to live in the metropolitan area, or they needed another bedroom in a house in the suburbs. I think employers should support working parents by trying to be as flexible as possible. We all know that being inflexible about work-life balance will disproportionately affect women. I am wondering whether the boss is accommodating about other needs – such as pumping milk? How about taking off time when the child is sick (if the child is going to daycare, this could be all winter every 2 weeks). If it’s just not a working mother-friendly workplace, then maybe changing jobs is necessary to make it work. Good luck OP, it’s a really hard time in your life, but won’t last forever!

      1. Ambivalent*

        By the way, OP, have you tried looking for daycares closer to work? That would solve the pick-up time issue. Of course you have to drive a longer time with your baby and maybe your partner can’t handle the drop-off. On the other hand, if your baby is sick, you can get to her faster. You can play music in the car for your baby and talk to her (I’m teaching my kids another language this way). Might be a solution.

      2. OP*

        Hello, OP here. The tough thing is that my organization is absolutely family-friendly as a whole. People stay in the organization for many many years, not for excellent pay (its just average) but for the stability and flexibility. So I am in the right organization; I am just working under a strict, less-flexible manager.

    7. Thor*

      No she really doesn’t. Her boss had the choice of keeping her has an employee or not letting her be flexible. The employer chose the former. She has obligation to find some way to work the standard work hours.

    8. Blossom*

      It’s not “now she’s asking”.
      She asked over a year ago.
      And the boss agreed.

    9. mrs__peel*

      Long commutes are the norm in many parts of the country, and they’re not necessarily much of a “choice” depending on (a) where you can find a job, (b) where you can afford to live, and (c) whether good public transportation exists in your area.

      (Personally, I have a pretty short commute because I live in the Rust Belt, but it’s extremely tricky to find a decent job here– it was just a matter of luck for me).

    10. IForgetWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      Yes but OP made it clear to Boss that if she came back to work there, she needed this accommodation and it was non-negotiable. If Boss had qualms, she should have stated them then, or just said no, leaving OP free to find another job.

      Boss wants an OP who works the same schedule/hours as before despite being told this was not possible. Boss can’t get that, but is stubbornly refusing to manager up & decide between the choices she does have- OP on the alternate schedule, or no OP at all.

  17. Bea*

    I found myself put in the crap situation of being a manager coming into a prearranged schedule change that suddenly wasn’t working out for the ownership any longer. They made me sit with a report and try to explain we “thought” it was temporary and how could we get things back to the old schedule.

    Thankfully the woman knew I was just being put in the middle and her reaction was to agree the next quarter she would figure something out. She then gave her notice a few months later. Knowing much more now, I see why she went that direction.

    The owners tried telling me it was because they feared others would want similar accommodations at some point and we had to have to deny it because we have to have coverage from X to Y due to it being a front facing office. But then they wouldn’t even give the buyer who didn’t need to be there any flexibility either.

    Sometimes this is something you never can compromise on because of pigheaded stubborn ways. I hope you do leave if she keeps jerking you around, it’s miserable otherwise.

    1. Mike C.*

      I really despise this mentality of business owners believing that everything must be run the way they see fit for arbitrary reasons.

      1. Bea*

        I’m right there with you. I am still learning to enjoy my flex schedule after years of that kind of rigid schedule. Getting caught behind a major accident was always horrifying because you still get treated like you should be able to plan for major catastrophe!

        Also we were held to these bullsht hours but they adopted a new schedule so they could pad their annoying long commute. How quaint is that!?

      2. Lumen*

        I used to follow a young entrepreneur on social media. One day she made a tweet about how much she enjoyed walking into her company’s office and seeing everyone ‘hunched over their desks’, busily working away.

        I’m sure she was just feeling and expressing happiness: she started a business she was proud of and it was taking off. But the whole vibe of the tweet was like a queen coming into her hive and gleefully observing all the busy worker bees buzzing along on ‘her’ projects.

        I get it. Culturally we have a certain vision of what a functioning workplace looks and sounds and feels like, and bosses have an understandable drive to see that in reality. But the end result is often more than a little bit dehumanizing. People aren’t cogs. Workplaces aren’t machines. What makes you feel good, as a boss, is not necessarily good (in any way) for anyone else.

      3. Jules the 3rd*

        Right now, diversity and flexibility are competitive advantages, letting some businesses get the best people and keep turnover and associated costs low. See SAS, for example – last I checked, 4% turnover, tens of applicants for each opening, and people with MS degrees applying for admin assistant roles just to get a foot in the door.

        So, for some industries, this will be self-correcting. And eventually, the new norm, I hope, though I am watching automation warily.

  18. Genevieve*

    Why do so few people seem to be able to take the LW at their word that the manager is pushing back unreasonably and there’s no need for them to be there until 5 if their hours are made up elsewhere?

    1. Lumen*

      Thank you. I’ve been thinking this as I’ve been in this comment thread. It happens a LOT, too. Why the urge to assume that LWs/OPs don’t have valid problems, or are reading everything wrong?

    2. Health Insurance Nerd*

      Because people project their own feelings and issues on to all of these letters. People are describing her modified hours as a “perk” when it’s really just an altered scheduled that doesn’t advantage her over any other employee (seemingly). She’s still working full time, she is still a high producer.
      If people spent half as much time worrying about themselves and what they’re doing as they did over other people and what those people are doing, most of these letters wouldn’t exist!

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        Health Insurance Nerd, I could have written this, so very true. Folks just need to stop with the petty childishness.

      2. myswtghst*

        Completely agreed. I understand there are some workplaces where bad management creates a situation which unfairly advantages parents in certain ways, but it is beyond frustrating to wade through so many comments which are in no way helpful to the OP because they seem bound and determined to make every possible negative assumption about her situation.

      3. YellowWLS*

        If the extra half hour granted to her coworkers would save them 40+ extra minutes in traffic, it does advantage her.

    3. KHB*

      I don’t see where the LW says that there’s no need for her to be there until 5 if her hours are made up elsewhere.

      1. Thor*

        I think it’s implied by “Nor is it an unusual accommodation in many other departments within my organization.”. If it’s not an unusual accommodation, then it seems unlikely that there’s a compelling reason that 4:30-5:00 is a more valuable halfhour than 12:30-1.

        1. KHB*

          I don’t that has anything to do with anything. Different jobs are different, and (unless all these various departments do exactly the same work) there may be a compelling reason that people in this department all need to work the same hours but people in that department don’t. The LW says nothing one way or the other about what impact her schedule does or doesn’t have on the rest of her team.

          1. Thor*

            I think it’s pretty clear that OP at least thinks that her time shift has no impact on her performance. Obviously, we only have her side to go on but I don’t think we need it explicitly spelled out.

            1. KHB*

              That’s…a pretty big stretch of the principle of taking the LW at her word.

              But in any case, I’m not sure this is relevant to the question of what the LW should do next: Figure out if the manager’s really revoking the schedule flexibility or not, and then either stay or go, depending.

    4. DCompliance*

      I am good with assuming the LW probably doesn’t need to be there until 5. The bigger problem is that the LW clearly states that this manager is hyper-focused on timekeeping and face time. I have had managers like that and it is really hard to get them to change. Even if you only need to leave a 1/2 hour early one day, managers like this are difficult.

    5. Kariel*

      Probably because there’s a child involved and maybe some people are feeling nettled that a child is the reason the OP is getting a “perk”? Maybe they feel the part of the disgruntled co-worker, who has to watch OP leave just a little bit early and the end of the day?

      I don’t see it as a perk, really. It’s only a half hour and OP is making up the time — they say it’s not having an impact on anyone else.

      There probably wouldn’t be this response if OP was writing in instead because they had to go to some regular medical appointments or cancer treatment or something.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        If they really knew what was going on, they’d see that the child is the reason the OP is requesting the perk, but it’s not the reason she’s getting it. She’s getting it because she’s a high performer and her boss wanted to keep her.

    6. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I’ve noticed that people on this site sometimes get really aggressive with the notion that parents would want any kind of workplace flexibility.

      1. GG Two shoes*

        Yes, this seems to be a hot button topic with any kind of work/life balance discussions. It definitely feels like here, as in many workplaces, it’s given lip service but GOD FORBID any actually try to use it. It’s a half hour, for goodness sakes.

        1. DCompliance*

          1) The frustration from readers is that many times these perks can be offered to non-parents and they aren’t. Either a job allows for flexibility or it doesn’t. Either job allows from work from home or it doesn’t. Giving birth did not suddenly change the scope of the job, so why not offer the perks to all employees?

          2) When a company decides to offer these perks to parents, then the company should be eating the costs/burdens, not passing them down to their childless employees. Now this doesn’t apply to LW’s situation, but that is a problem people see.

          Is any of this the parents fault, no but I don’t see many posters frustrated with parents though there are a few. They are frustrated with management.

      2. The Childfree Commenter*

        Nah they just dislike feeling like their needs are overlooked/disrespected because they chose not to procreate. Ultimately it’s a larger US cultural issue, but it’s very easy to get tunnel-vision.

        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Which is 100% not the fault of their coworkers who have children.

          1. The Childfree Commenter*

            Yup. As I wrote “Ultimately it’s a larger US cultural issue, but it’s very easy to get tunnel-vision.”

        2. J.B.*

          I completely get your frustration.

          As someone who has children, I feel the opposite about US culture. “Don’t have children if you can’t afford them” comes up a lot! The lack of paid leave, etc leaves us to all try to individually negotiate something with employers, who have their own blinders. And it is really unfair when a person without children is expected to carry the load.

          It would be nice if there were a solution other than woman get back to the kitchen. However, I don’t see that happening :(

          1. myswtghst*

            Yes, thank you. This is really something which seems to go both ways (there are so many disadvantages for both parents and non-parents in the working world) and it is exacerbated by the many bad employers and bad managers who do not treat employees equitably. It’s really easy to get caught up in the negative emotions and hold it against the person who is getting the advantage you aren’t getting, rather than stepping back to recognize the much larger issues with management and society as a whole.

        3. Snark*

          That’s not a bug, that’s a feature. Your needs are downgraded because, unless they also involve total responsibility for a dependent, are not as important. And you’re gonna freak out on me for saying that, but they’re not. Unless there is a human being who is utterly dependent on you for their biological, social, and logistical requirements, your needs come second to those who DO have those responsibilities. Human beings are obviously higher priorities, as far as ethics go.

    7. Jules the 3rd*

      Projection, but the nice thing is: Alison’s script addresses the possibility that OP is incorrect. Op gets to collect information before making decisions!

  19. Helpful*

    OP, if it were me I’d start socking away money and looking for new (closer to home) jobs. This job may not be a good fit for you post-move. That’s okay. But in some jobs and to some managers, your request isn’t sustainable or reasonable. I wish it were the case everywhere, but they have a right to set the hours. You chose to move, and unfortunately this happens sometimes.

  20. Amy*

    I had this exact issue at my job. In theory I could leave at 4:30 to ensure a 6pm daycare pickup. But the reality was much much harder. There were deadlines, client event and general expectations that a promise from a year ago of “yes, you can leave by 4:30” couldn’t override.

    And I finally came to the conclusion that I would probably die in a car accident while racing home and simultaneously dialing everyone I knew to help with pickup at 5:50pm.

    The choice was:
    1) get seriously sidelined at work for my scheduling issues
    2) quit
    3) move closer to work

    We chose to move. It was beastly expensive but I no longer have to white knuckle it home every day / spend 3 hours a day in traffic. My general quality of life is higher.

    Also it’s really challenging to be that far from your daycare for other reasons – snowdays, illness etc.

    LW, I wish you luck finding a solution that works for you.

    1. Abelard*

      My sister and her husband are in the same boat–a long commute causing issues. For them though the solution was quit (well not renew contract) instead of move. They’re teachers and are looking for closer school districts.

    2. Oilpress*

      Thanks for that story. I think your take on the situation is a fair and realistic appraisal of how difficult it is to leave earlier than everyone else every single day. Sometimes, work just needs you, and if you are always the teammate who can’t come through in a crunch then people will resent you.

      I struggle with it with my direct reports who leave early. They just cannot be relied upon when something urgent pops up, and it does seem unfair to the people who work late on the rare occasion that it is helpful to do so.

  21. Lynca*

    I just underwent a flexible schedule change in anticipation for the birth of my child. I’ve wanted to do it for years but there never seemed to be a compelling reason to until now.

    You say that others in your organization can flex, is there HR policy regarding that? I agree with commenters saying there should be equity between workers flexing for family reasons vs. those that just want to. Which is defined in the HR policy where I work. The only requirements for flexible schedule is that you be an employee in good standing, have a X amount of time in the org, and that managers ensure everyday has enough coverage for the operating hours. Basically if there is a set policy it makes it easier to approach the boss to bring up what the issue with the flexible schedule is or if she is being just weird about it, that it’s a valid request that can be made as long as you meet the requirements. If it’s just at her discretion it will be harder to make a point without it being an ultimatum.

    1. Abelard*

      My work has core hours that you have to be in for (9:30-3:30) but for most roles (excluding customer service) you can structure your 8 hours a day/40 hours a week around those core hours however you like. (You do have to generally be on a predictable schedule and if you want to shift it notify your manager, but that’s about it).
      I am not a morning person and have trouble getting up early so I work 9-5. I am in the minority. Most people in my department are out by 4 or 4:30. One coworker is out regularly at 3:30. They want to come in earlier in order to leave earlier, fine with me. I want to come in later and leave later, that’s my choice.

  22. mf*

    I had a similar issue at my previous job. I negotiated a flexible schedule with shorter hours when I was hired–I absolutely, 100% would NOT have taken the job if my boss hadn’t agreed to the flexible schedule and shorter hours.

    3 days into the job, and she started making noises about how maybe I could work later, adjust my hours, etc. A few months, she basically demanded I start working the schedule she wanted. I did that for a few months until I found a new job.

    Moral of the story: Yes, have the conversation with her, but if she really wants to you work till 5 PM, you have to find a new job. And honestly, even if you could make the later schedule work, will you ever trust her again now that’s she’s backpedaled on your agreement? No, so start polishing your resume.

  23. Nita*

    OP, I don’t know what you do, or how problematic it would be for your department if others started asking for a more flexible schedule also. However, since you’re in this situation now, are you able to look for jobs closer to home? Ask to go officially part-time (which will look less like a “perk”)? Ask for a small raise to cover the cost of hiring someone to pick up your child (having a price quote in hand would help)?

    Also, my sympathy! The six o’clock pickup is a familiar nightmare. Everything revolves around it. I used to live an hour away from my office, but public transit has become less and less reliable, and now I’m easily 1.5 hours away even though I did not move. I’m not even going into the emotional side of such long hours.

    PS Flexible schedules rock. For everyone. For the parent with young kids, the person whose pipe burst, the guy whose elderly mom needs more and more help with routine things, the people who live in snowstorm-prone areas… Of course there are jobs where flex hours are not an option, and of course it requires more effort for managers to make sure remote employees are working well, but you also get fewer people forced to walk away from their jobs when life happens.

  24. Clockstoppers*

    If this were me and I had to change my hours back to leaving at 5:00 p.m., my butt would be in my seat until 5:00 on the dot and not one minute later, ever.

  25. MuseumChick*

    There are some people (boss, co-workers, even volunteers) who for some reason think if they don’t see you, you must not be getting work done.

    I witness the flip side of what the OP is going through at Old Job. I worked at a historic site with dozen of volunteers. My boss was wonderful, worked really hard with a kick-ass personality that made work fun. I worked closely with her on several project so I was really taken aback when I overheard some volunteers complaining about her.

    Much longer story short: Because the volunteers were out on the grounds interacting with visitors and my boss wasn’t able to get out there much because she was going 1 million other things, they basically just assumed she was slacking off most of the time. They didn’t see her running from meeting to meeting, or on back to back phone calls, etc.

    Your boss OP, I think has a touch of this. When she doesn’t see you at your desk from 4:30 – 5:00pm her brain immediately goes to “She’s not working!”

    1. No slack*

      Exactly. Thank you Museum Chick. Oddly enough I feel better after reading your post. Wish my old boss could see this. Sigh..

    2. Bea*

      This is why I’m over protective of many of my former bosses. People would make snide passing comments because they didn’t see them busting their butts but I knew. I also knew one of them stopped taking a salary to allow everyone else to stayed employed. Just ew at that mentality.

      1. MuseumChick*

        That’s just it. And, if my boss had the *audacity* to take a quick phone call or take a 5 minuet break to serf the internet and one of the volunteers happened to see…omg. They would roll their eyes and I would hear them make snide remarks about it latter.

  26. CityMouse*

    The way the employer is behaving really bugs me. OP is maintaining hours and quality and there appears to be no good reason to make her stay until 5PM. Businesses should be flexible for employees when they can, inflexibility will drive good people away. People have lives outside if work (I don’t have kids but my coworkers have their kids in the same daycare and you can get in trouble for late pick ups). The idea of loyalty for loyalty’s sake alone is silly and out dated.

  27. Sean*

    I’ll preface this by stating I have not nor will be in a similar situation in the near future. That being said, I encourage to approach this issue very matter-of-fact and topically. The tone of your letter suggests a somewhat confrontational and/or adversarial relationship with your manager (and a discussion about female vs. male assertiveness/aggression/pick your adjective in the workplace can go on for days) but its also clear how important this is to you. As Allison said, you need to decide how much and/or if this job condition is a deal-breaker. Whether is was discussed in person or in email, this agreement is just an agreement and nothing more. It’s not guaranteed and can be altered at any time with little or no notice (just like a job description or performance goals). Bring this up if your manager doesn’t and be prepared to walk away if you feel you need to. Your high-performance and tenure are important yet independent of this issue altogether; the two of you made an agreement for your return and it may be time to revisit it, change it, or terminate it.

  28. Mobuy*

    I know that a good daycare that you trust and can afford is a very valuable commodity! However, is it possible to change daycares to a place closer to where you work? I know this is not the best option (more kid time in the car, maybe your partner can’t do drop-off anymore), but if you need to keep this job and your manager is trying to take away your flexible schedule, maybe that’s an option.

  29. Argh!*

    We have overlapping schedules with 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 start times, plus some staff with really odd hours. I work the latest time, and I get looks from the people who start at 7:00 when I arrive. Also, my boss’s admin can’t seem to remember to call my report who leaves at 4:00 before 4:00.

    So… even though it’s “normal” here, there are raised eyebrows and frustrations. It comes with the territory, but it’s a good practice.

    (I write this as I watch a colleague leave 2 hours before me, with no bitterness but a bit of envy)

    1. Vauxhall Prefect*

      I always find it interesting what other people will focus in on. When I started late and finished late I had a few people who thought I was a bit slack and working shorter hours because I was always one of the last to arrive. On the other hand a (luckily slightly larger!) group seemed to think I was one of the hardest workers in the company because I was always one of the last to leave. My actual hours worked were probably slightly above average for the company, but circumstances meant other staff had a totally different impression of how much I was doing.

  30. Narise*

    …especially since she has recently been promoted to the head of the department and might want to throw her weight around in her new role.

    I take issue with this statement. As your manager your boss as the responsibility to manage her department including scheduling. You are assuming she’s going to take away your new schedule and that she’s only doing it because she’s on a power trip. She might not be planning this at all. However she has the right to take away this perk or agreement if she wants. I understand you may leave if she does but you shouldn’t look at as though she’s only doing it to throw her weight around.
    What could be happening is that there is such a backlash in the department over your change in schedule that in her mind it’s worth it to have one employee angry at her vs. five. There could also be other problems created by this schedule that she hadn’t thought of when she agreed. By all means have the conversation with your boss and clear the air but if you go into the meeting with the idea that she’s doing this just because she can I think you may win the battle but lose the war long term. In this case that wouldn’t be your job but rather your relationship and reputation within the company may suffer based on how you handle this issue.

    1. Important Moi*

      You may take issue, but it is not uncommon for people to want to put their stamp on things when they find themselves in a new situation. Some people do throw their weight around when they get new/additional authority. Acknowledging that this may be a possibility is not intended as an affront to anyone.

      1. Narise*

        Putting a stamp on the department and changing procedure is common when people step into a new role. However changing one’s mind on a person’s schedule is pretty small in the scheme of things.

  31. Vauxhall Prefect*

    I went through a similar situation to this a few years ago and I strongly agree with Allison that it’s important to be very clear in your head on what ‘non-negotiable’ means before having a conversation where your manager may propose changing your hours.

    For me I was in a situation where personal circumstances meant that I couldn’t start until 10am and agreed that with my employer. I tended to stay until 7 and was getting my work done to a high standard, but I got a new manager who preferred to get in after his staff and though we got on well generally he was getting increasingly bothered by my start time. Eventually we ended up having a meeting with HR where he brought up the issue and was wanting to make changes, but knowing that I wouldn’t stay on if I had to start earlier made the conversation much easier. I was clear that I was only able to do the job if I could start at 10, but that I was happy to leave with no hard feelings if that didn’t work for them. My manager and the HR rep each seemed horrified at the thought of needing to replace me over this, so we ended up re-affirming my schedule and actually put it into my employment contract with them to remove all doubt.

    I was happy with the end result, but I think it was only able to work out because I knew where I stood going into the discussion. If I hadn’t been certain that I’d only do the job with the accommodation then I think it could have been a far more tense meeting.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      And you had an employment contract – that’s very uncommon in the US, which is my impression of the OP. Very glad it worked for you!

  32. Manager-at-Large*

    OP – if you are coming in 30 minutes earlier than the others in the office USE THIS TIME! Use it to reply to anything that happened after you left the day before. Respond to emails, close issues, get back to the boss with “that thing she asked you to do”. Be very visible in the 30 minutes while no one else is working. Ensure that nothing is lost from the day before – make StartOfBusiness Day 2 the same as CloseOfBusiness day 1 for every one else as much as you can. Do what you can to makes sure that it never appears like you come in 30 minutes early and sit around making coffee and reading the paper until the rest of the team gets in.

    1. Beth*

      I think there’s a good point here–not necessarily that you should use that time productively (I’m sure you already are), but that you should use it VISIBLY. Reply to emails/send new ones. Hand in work. Do everything you can do that has a timestamp and that people see. It seems like your manager’s main issue with your schedule is the visibility issue of leaving ‘early’–so make it very, very visible that you’re also coming in early and getting all kinds of stuff done. It might give you more leverage.

    2. SandwichGenLady*

      Totally agree with this. I have a very flexible schedule, but not everyone working around me does. I always make sure that I send off a few emails after hours, in the early morning or on the weekend when I’m working. I don’t have to, but I think it just helps cut down on feelings of resentment.

    3. nonymous*

      I would add to make sure that activity at both ends of the workday are highly visible. I work in a different time zone than some of my coworkers, which means they can hand off work at the end of their day (no rush for them) and then I can do my part before they come in again. We brag it up to management that ours is the only team with normal and routine coverage of 4A – 8P in the HQ time zone, without having to dip into the premium pay budget.

      Another tactic that might help, if remote email is a possibility (and OP is salaried) is to do a quick email check in from the daycare parking lot (before the final slog home). This will give OP the visibility of burning the candle at both ends, which may be what’s she’s looking for. I couldn’t tell from the letter whether leaving on time means that OP is not participating in last minute work flexibility that is expected at the end of day for her position, but the extra evening check in from home would certainly address that.

  33. phira*

    One additional thing to consider here is that the boss might not be able to see the difference between “LW is not working as hard as she used to and it’s probably because she’s leaving early every day” and “LW is not working as hard as she used to because she’s a new mother with all that entails.”

    LW, I honestly don’t think that your work is suffering because of your adjusted schedule, and I hope that Alison’s advice really helps put the issue to bed when you talk to your boss. But I think it’s worth keeping in mind that she might insist that your work is suffering because of your hours when in reality, it’s because you are now a parent, and you might need some gentle ways of handling that if it comes up (granted, maybe there’s something that really can’t be explained by mom-brain, but I really can’t imagine adjusting your schedule by 30 minutes is making that much of a difference given what you’ve described about your job).

  34. voyager1*

    What jumped out at me was not being able stay late like LW used to. If others are taking up more of those and it isn’t equal then someone might have complained? I was on a team where it was a team of four with one person who worked weekends. When he took off one of us other 3 had to cover. After 3.5 yrs myself and one other team member had covered but the other team member didn’t think she should have to. Manager didn’t deal with it and when it did blow up it was bad because of all the pent up tension that one non team player had caused. I was salaried in that job so I didn’t get overtime but was allowed to take other day(s) off . The slacker basically told us she didn’t get paid to work outside her shift… it was pretty frustrating.

    Getting back to the letter tho I also liked that others have made the comments that manager may not think LW is working as hard because she is leaving early. A totally crappy assessment from the manager but not surprising.

    1. Sal*

      This also jumped out at me but not in a coverage sense. I also came back from parental leave but not to a coverage type job. I used to work 9/9:30-6:30 (although stated hours are technically 9-5 and only my “dep’t” ever worked that late) and have basically changed that to leaving by 5:30-5:45 (but in squarely by 9 every day). I am more productive while I’m here, but I’m here 5 fewer hours a week because, well, I’d like to see (and nurse) my 2 month old. (I’d have to add another pumping session to keep my old departure time.)
      The wrinkle is that the 6:30 was always just sort of an informal custom (and it was based on whether or not my boss was in the office—so, very facetime related).
      My boss hasn’t mentioned it but I still feel all [ugh] when I get ready to leave at 5:30 and my coworker is still plugging away.

  35. anyone out there but me*

    Haven’t read thru every comment, but I may have different perspective, OP. You became a parent. Naturally your priorities have shifted a bit, and will continue to shift. You aren’t the same employee that you were before you left for maternity leave. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    I totally understand your dilemma, as I’ve been in the exact same situation. My solution was to quit and find work closer to home, with a more flexible schedule. I am much, much happier now.

    There is no job in this world that will ever take priority over my family or my sanity.

  36. sssssssssss*

    If all other things are even – work load, gee it would be nicer to leave earlier for traffic but I don’t have to, etc., child care for me can trump someone else’s want to leave early as the child care provider can charge a lot if you’re late. If you have a very long commute or need to handle aging parents or have important after work commitments, flexibility should be made available. This is the 21st century and most places I’ve worked at have been pretty reasonable on this as long as someone’s there during core hours. You just get used to people’s schedules and work around them.

    Honestly, as long as someone is there to handle whatever comes up at the official end of the work day, and if it’s not retail, who cares what time people come and go as long as they are doing the work and not abusing the system?

    If this bothers OP’s boss so much…she’s focused on the wrong thing.

    What bothers me more is a coworker who stresses that she needs the 8 to 4 shift because of child care (which is fine – I also have kids but have a stay at home parent so I can do 9 to 5), but then leaves at 4:10…or leaves at four but then spends 10 minutes at Reception chatting with her friends. Or, has her boyfriend/mother/father/mother-in-law pick up her child on a schedule that I cannot predict and all of sudden she can stay later. My thought was, if you truly want to keep that schedule, then keep TO the schedule or the employer might think you’re more available than you made it sound.

  37. NewBee*

    While I agree the OP’s accommodation is not particularly egregious, having a flexible schedule and leaving 30 minutes can make a huge difference in EVERYONE’S quality of like. Leave at 5, then wait 10 minutes to get out the parking deck, 3 or 4 light changes to get onto the highway. Leave 30 minutes early – smooth sailing. Others would like to get to Crossfit, Cooking class, Pilates, dog park by 6pm also.

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Sure – OP’s not advocating for this to be Only Her. Diversity and flexibility are becoming competitive advantages, and good managers will work with that. OP says this flexibility is common in other departments at her workplace.

      OP has to work with a less-than-perfect manager on OP’s needs. She is not responsible for making the manager a better manager.

    2. Owler*

      You are implying that everyone lives in the same direction with the same commute, and that one “perk” (I agree with the thread above that a schedule change is not a perk) benefits everyone in the same way.

  38. Rose*

    This is the joyous double-edged sword of being a working parent — on the one hand, you feel like garbage because you can’t spend all the time you want to with your kids; on the other hand, you feel like garbage because you spend time away from work to spend time with your kids. You want to be a good parent and want to spend time with your kids, but you also want to be a good employee and spend time helping your coworkers. I have a non-flexible work schedule due to childcare. I come to work at 8:45am and leave at 4:45pm. My coworkers all work more than 8 hours on any given day. We are not required to do overtime, but if the work isn’t done, someone has to stay. I feel like a schmuck because I can’t be that person. My supervisor understands and my company is okay with my schedule, but my coworkers are the ones staying late.

    1. DJ*

      That’s where the company should offer flexible working hours. One doesn’t mind staying back if there’s the flexibility to leave early/come in late/have time off on occasion.

  39. DJ*

    Employers so need to get rid of their 9-5 mentality (especially as they expect their employees too and give unpaid additional hours). Flexible working hours for as many as possible would solve most of these issues (including resentful colleagues). This can usually be done in a way to ensure customer contact is maintained. Think someone who prefers to start and leave early or late agree to be in 9am stay to 5pm a couple a days pw vs 5 and usually there’s enough that either prefer early or late that hours are covered without such a formal arrangement

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      They also need to remember that if they are insisting on a rigid 9-5 that works both ways … as in, no one will be around around at 8:30 to field a question that needs to be answered before a 9am meeting. ;)

Comments are closed.