my coworker keeps making me do my old job, manager doesn’t believe I’m sick, and more

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

1. My coworker keeps trying to make me do my old job

I have held a few different positions where I work. Eighteen months ago, I was promoted and someone was hired to take my former position. I continue to handle many of the same tasks I did when I was in her position. She becomes very defensive when someone assumes she does one of these tasks and says, “I’ve never done that!” and tells them they’ll have to speak with me. We have the same boss, who is a whole separate nightmare, and doesn’t seem to notice that I’m still doing this person’s job as well as my own. How can I ask why I am still doing my former job when someone else has been hired to do it but hasn’t managed to learn it in almost two years? I don’t want to seem like I’m saying “not my job” but … it’s not my job anymore.

I almost wonder if they want me to supervise her without being a supervisor. I am not salaried and barely make more than she does, but I audit her work, create all the templates for the schedules she needs to make, etc. Please advise.

It doesn’t sound like your boss has told you to do this, but rather that you’ve just assumed you need to since otherwise the work won’t get done. So you’ve got to speak up, explain you aren’t going to continue doing your old job, and then stop doing it. Otherwise your coworker has no reason to change.

To your coworker, say this: “It’s actually your responsibility to do X, Y, and Z. I’m not able to continue doing them because I have to focus on my own work.” I’m assuming you’ve trained her on those tasks at some point, but if not, do that right away. If you already have, you can either say “I can show you one final time but can’t help after that” or, if true, “instructions are in the documentation I left you.” Then stop helping and be assertive about sending that work back to her to do.

Meanwhile, you need to talk to your boss. She legitimately may not realize this is happening, or the extent to which it’s happening. Say something like, “I need Jane to fully take over X, Y, and Z. She’s telling people she doesn’t know how to do those things and directing them to me. I don’t have time to continue doing so much of my old job on top of my current job. I’ve let her know that she needs to handle these herself, but I wanted to give you a heads-up so you’re in the loop.” (That’s especially important because if those tasks end up going undone, you need to have explained what’s happening to your boss beforehand.)

2. My manager doesn’t believe or doesn’t care if I’m sick

I’m currently working my first ever job, part-time hourly in retail, and I’m not sure if what’s happening is normal or not. My managers seem to have issues with me leaving when I’m sick. A few weeks ago, I began to feel feverish and sick at work. I was told I was not allowed to go home since I didn’t look sick. I insisted I was, and my manager told me if I went home they would begin to schedule me when I was in class because if I didn’t help them out, why should they help me out? I ended up calling out the next day and saw my doctor, who confirmed I had strep throat.

Yesterday, I was at work feeling normal when I fainted out of nowhere. I’ve never fainted before. When I came to, my managers offered me a bottle of water and told me to take a few minutes before going back to work. My job requires me to stand and walk around. I didn’t feel comfortable doing so, and asked to go home. I understood they might not have wanted me to drive, so I offered to have someone come pick me up. My manager told me if I was really sick, he’d call 911. Obviously I wasn’t in an emergency situation, but I was scared and wanted to find out what was wrong. I had to work the rest of the day.

Is this normal? This job is just some pocket change while I’m in school, but I feel like this is really overbearing and I can’t last. I have been told that I’m very good at my job, and although I suppose I’ve been sick a few times, I had a doctor’s note last time and this time I was actually unconscious on the floor. I wasn’t asking for it to be paid, and I would’ve understood if they counted it against me as an absence or early leave or whatever, but I just knew I was too sick to work. Is this normal or a toxic environment?

No, this is not normal. Your manager is an ass — which isn’t uncommon in retail, but this sounds like you’ve landed on the particularly toxic end of the retail spectrum.

Your employer is treating you like a child who might be lying to them (“you don’t look sick”) and also being jerks (“we’re going to schedule you while we know you’re in class”) and unreasonable (you can be plenty sick without needing 911 called).

It would be worth asking around at school about other part-jobs where people are treated more reasonably and respectfully.

3. I’m annoyed that I can’t trade my vacation time for cash

I’ve been at my company for several years, and in the past, I’ve successfully negotiated a decrease in vacation time in exchange for a one-time bonus (of the equivalent amount of pay). My company has a “use it or lose it” policy, and I’m the rare bird (or maybe not so rare?) who just doesn’t like or appreciate a lot of time off; two weeks is typically more than enough for me.

This past year, since I surpassed X amount of years, I was given X weeks off. I asked for an exchange of less time off for more money, and was immediately told “this isn’t in the budget.” I reminded my boss there was a precedent for this in the past and was told it’s not in the budget. This volley went back and forth a few times before I dropped it.

We’re now more than halfway through the year, and I have more time off than I know what to do with. Do I dare bring up the negotiation? (Quite frankly, the money has more value to me than the time off.) Do I just start taking Fridays off and making three day weekends a thing? Do I run out the clock through the end of the year and waste a benefit that I l earned?

This doesn’t really sit well/right with me, but I’m wondering if you or any other readers have been in a similar situation, or can offer some insight into how I can, well, get over it. I think most Americans would probably want MORE time off rather than less, but I’m just not someone who really wants, values, or needs more than two weeks off, at most.

I wouldn’t bring it up again. It sounds like you pushed for it pretty hard last time and got a firm no. I’d wait at least a year, and maybe a bit longer, if you want to raise it again — and if you do, it really can only be “has anything changed about this?” and then immediately dropping it if the answer is no.

As for what to do with your vacation time — a bunch of three-day weekends are a good way to use it up. Or if you can take it in half-day increments, consider a bunch of afternoons off. If you don’t know what to do with the time and don’t enjoy lounging/napping/reading/Netflix binging/closet cleaning, why not use it to volunteer somewhere that needs weekday, daytime volunteers (which can be hard to find)?

4. My company offered to hire my wife to keep us from moving

My wife, Molly, recently accepted a big new job on the other side of the country and so, being the good spouse, I promptly went to my various team leads and told them I was leaving. Surprisingly, the first I told asked if I could stay on remotely. As I spoke to the heads of the other three teams I work with, two more asked me to stay on. I’m flabbergasted because we have all of two remote employees and a policy that discourages remote work, but I said I’d gladly accept a remote position. So far so good.

This morning I spoke with my many bosses’ boss, the CFO, Jane. She seemed surprised and wished me the best. Half an hour later, she emails me asking if I knew she’d been looking to hire a position like the one my wife had accepted, and if I could forward Molly’s resume. I asked for clarification, and she explained that she would be willing to torpedo their final round of interviews with their final candidates and hire my wife here to keep me.

I asked my wife, and she’s not at all interested, not even a little bit. Her new gig is much bigger than the position here, and we’ve already hired movers. How do I disconnect from a suddenly clingy company?

“I relayed your offer to Molly. She’s excited about the job she’s already accepted and committed to taking it, but she said she really appreciated your interest in her.”

If they keep trying to find other ways to keep you there, just be forthright that it’s not an option: “I really appreciate you trying to make it work, but the move is a definite thing.”

5. Candidate sent a PDF of emails praising her work

I’m on a hiring committee for an administrative assistant position at a large public research university. One of our applicants, in addition to submitting the required cover letter and resume, also submitted a PDF of compiled “feedback” she received in her previous position. It’s about four pages of brief excerpts from emails sent to her, each with a heading of the date, the sender’s name, and the sender’s position or title (ex. “April 1, 2017, Bob Smith, AVP for Academic Affairs: I really appreciate your initiative with xyz project! You’re a vital member of this team and I hope you stay in our office forever, etc. etc.”)

Is this a thing that people do? I understand the impulse to demonstrate you were a valued employee at your previous job, but that’s what letters of recommendation are for. Including excerpts of people’s emails (from coworkers and supervisors as well as students and parents of students) in a job application, presumably without their permission, seems like a bit of a red flag, especially when the position we are hiring for requires confidentiality and tact. She is otherwise a very strong candidate. What do we do? Ignore it? Take the positive feedback into account, or take it as a red flag?

It’s not typically a thing people do, no. It can be fine to include one or two truly superlative quotes in your cover letter or even on your resume, but they need to be truly outstanding and include real substance and specifics (not just “great job!”) — because otherwise, it ends up looking like you don’t really know what top performance looks like. A whole document of quotes is over the top, and especially so in this case, where it sounds like the quotes are not even especially impressive.

If she’s otherwise a great candidate, I might take it as a flag to just pay extra attention to her professionalism in general, but on its own I wouldn’t let it stop you from hiring her. The confidentiality thing is perhaps more of a concern in your context, though, and it if there’s anything there that particularly seems like a breach of confidentiality (not just the existence of a quote, but its substance and source), it would be worth asking her about that.

{ 434 comments… read them below }

  1. PugLife*

    Unfortunately #2 is pretty common in retail. I’ve worked in big chain stores for awhile. I had a pregnant coworker once who was written up for leaving the register to run to the back and puke… she’d tried not to come in but couldn’t find cover and couldn’t afford to give up the shift (or risk the job calling out sick). She was made to finish out her shift, running to the back of the store to puke in the shared-with-customers bathroom at least once an hour.

    You’ve ended up with a bad manager, but one that’s par for the course. There are retail jobs that won’t do that, but often (esp. in highly corporate chains) staffing is kept so low that managers just can’t afford to have someone not show up, and so they get heartless about sickness.

    1. Greg NY*

      It’s common, but I got angry just reading the letter. It takes a special kind of chutzpah to not even trust an employee when they say they’re getting sick. There are always going to be people who abuse a fair system (although in a lot of American jobs, I don’t think the system is fair), but a good manager should realize that they reap what they sow. If they foster a work environment when their employees are treated like professionals and given the benefit of the doubt until they prove that they aren’t worthy of it, they will get back dedicated employees in return, and willing to go the extra mile. Even in an industry like retail where employees are considered “disposable”.

      Here’s a news flash to retail managers: often enough, retail jobs are “disposable” as well. Even if someone truly needs the money and doesn’t have better career options, they can get another retail job elsewhere. Think about how much more difficult your staffing will be if someone suddenly quits on you. If they just don’t show up for their shift. It will be you who will have to work those extra hours, or it will be you who will have to deal with the resentment from your remaining employees when you ask them to cover the shifts of the one that left.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think managers often do trust their employee when the person is reputable and says they’re sick—but they panic because they have no back-up plan (or budget, or bandwidth) for staffing the floor if that person leaves. So instead of acknowledging the employee is sick, the floor manager leans on the employee to try to eke out as much coverage as possible in the short-term, even if it’s harmful for the employee and long-term harmful for the retailer.

      2. Kay*

        I suspect the reasons it happens a lot in retail is that a) managers think their employees do not take their responsibilities very seriously because they’re often temps and students and b) which is a more reasonable concern, they need someone to staff the floor and a lot of retailers have a policy of ‘if you can’t work you need to find someone to cover’ rather than the employer having to work it out. Basically retail sucks. One of my friends would work six hours shifts and wasn’t meant to close the store to go to the bathroom so she would just… Wait. It was not good

        1. Kathlynn*

          Actually it’s a myth that most retail workers are temps or students. I’ve been in retail since my first job. and most of the people I’ve worker with haven’t been. And I’ve worked with many people over 30.

          Sadly, for some reason it’s the slackers who never seem to get asked for sick notes where I’ve worked. But almost every time I’ve called in I’ve been asked for a sick note. (and I call in less then 10 days a year)

          1. kay*

            Maybe where you’re from but when I’ve worked casually most of my colleagues have been people my age- high school and uni students who don’t need the benefits of part-time or full time work, like the flexibility and don’t mind being treated shit as much. None of them are really slackers (although everyone used to side-eye people who were sick on fridays)

            1. soon 2be former fed*

              News flash…many retirees and those nearing retirement are working in retail, fast food too. I know several folks who work full-time for J.C. Penney.

              1. Lissa*

                I mean…ok, but that doesn’t really rebut kay’s point, which was that in their experience it’s mostly university/high school students. Doesn’t really seem to need a news flash – these things can vary a lot.

              2. Mia*

                That may be true, but I think this varies a lot by location. I live in a city with multiple universities and every retail job I ever worked had a staff of like, 90% 17 to 23 year olds.

          2. Half-Caf Latte*

            I’m not in retail, but healthcare, which faces some similar “patients suffer when staff call out” and pressure to work through it. Calling out 10 days a year would be grounds for discipline everywhere I’ve worked.

            1. JustaTech*

              Which is a bit nuts. I mean, the last thing I want or need when I am sick at the doctor’s office or hospital (or even at the dentist) is for the people providing my care to be sick themselves. Like, no one needs norovirus on top of pneumonia!

              1. Half-Caf Latte*

                100% agree. Sick healthcare workers can endanger vulnerable patients. I don’t want to derail, but I see parallels to the things people are citing as issues in retail – razor thin margins, minimum staffing levels, short term pressures overriding long-term outcomes, peer pressure, etc.

                My point was more that 10 days of absenteeism, even in professional roles, is still seen as a lot in many contexts. 10 separate instances in a year would be grounds for termination, even 5 2-day instances would be on the progressive discipline ladder. Three instances, depending on how they fell throughout the year, might still be an issue. It may not be fair, but it is common.

              2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                I have chronic lifelong respiratory health issues. A cold turns into bronchitis instantly, and if I try to push myself in that time I can very easily end up with pneumonia. The LAST thing on earth I need is to catch something from a person working in the office at one of my medical providers because some hard ass boss decided that butts in seats was more important than not spreading diseases throughout their patient base.

            2. Gadget Hackwrench*

              10? I’m getting in trouble for 7. And patients DON’T suffer when I’m out because I’m in a position with enough “buffer” that if one or two of us is out, we’re still okay, (unless it’s a weekend, in which case we can only afford to be down one.) But it’s a blanket policy across the hospital, so now I gotta go fill out a bunch of FMLA paperwork for an accommodation my boss gave me off a simple doctors note back in 2016, because HR has decided he’s not allowed make that choice himself. The accommodation is just being able to use my own damn PTO for sick more than 6 times a year without getting put on a PIP, and having a 15 min tardy buffer, because I’m fricking chronichally ill and I’m doing my best. Policies like this make no sense.

          3. Thankful for AAM*

            Now I’m not sure about something, around 10 days a year sounds like a lot of calling in sick to me unless you have a chronic health condition? I dont think I have called in sick more than once or twice in the past 4 years. What is a common number for an otherwise healthy person?

            1. epi*

              You catch stuff working in a hospital, especially your first year– you well be sick all the time. A bad flu would take care of five of the ten days easily.

              And in health care you really should be erring on the side of calling out more, not being punished for it. Your contagious illness could seriously harm patients.

              1. Kathlynn*

                Yeah, I work with fresh food. There is the similar emphasis on not going to work sick (that no one follows). And when you deal with +100 customers every day, colds/flus also go around.

                1. epi*

                  Yeah, I misread the comment as a reply to Half-Caf Latte directly above but similar concerns definitely apply to food service. No one wants a sick person preparing or handling their food! But in the US a lot of people really have no choice but to come in.

                  When I worked in a health care setting I was lucky enough to have a mostly back office job. If I had to come in for some reason, like it was the end of an illness and I sounded bad but felt fine, I’d come in via the employee entrance and give all my patients to a coworker, staying in my office myself. I don’t think most food service workers have a similar option.

                2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  Yes, it seems absolutely insane to me that medical care & food service workers do not have extremely generous sick time policies.

            2. Kathlynn*

              I said less than 10 days a year. As in Less then once a month. Or even less often depending on the year, and how many days I take off at once. Like in the last 12 months I’ve taken 6 days off, but only called in 3 times. 3 the first time, 1 the second and 2 the 3rd time. And when I call in sick it’s either because I can breath due to a chest cold or fighting a really bad fever and not thinking clearly enough. I also try and wait until my days off so I don’t have to take more than one day off, but that doesn’t always work.

            3. Rusty Shackelford*

              I’d call out more if I worked in retail. I might be well enough to sit at my desk all day, but that doesn’t mean I’m well enough to work on my feet all day.

              1. Xarcady*

                Retail workers are also exposed to a lot of germs. The money they handle is germy. Their co-workers are “encouraged” to come to work sick by the managers. Their co-workers have no paid sick days and very likely an attendance system that penalizes them for calling out, so the co-workers come to work sick. Their customers will shop while sick. It’s certainly not as bad as healthcare, but it’s not sitting in a cubicle surrounded by people who have paid sick days.

              2. kallisti*


                In my last job (as a tour guide), I called out about once a month because of migraines/laryngitis/dehydration/generally feeling worn down. Once I sprained my ankle and had to call out, because I couldn’t walk and stand on it. Now if I sprained my ankle or lost my voice, I’d still be able to do most of my job. Etc.

            4. Oxford Comma*

              If you have ever gotten the flu–not a stomach bug, but the actual flu, that alone might be worth 5-7 working days. Also, I am one of those lucky people who get vicious colds and even after I’m back, I’ve got a racking cough for a minimum of 3 weeks. I’m sure the people around me love that.

              I don’t know what the “normal” number is, but I have experienced the fun of working with very healthy people who cannot understand why I might not want to come in if I’ve got a fever or am vomiting. After all, they never get sick, so why should I?

              1. MsChanandlerBong*

                I had the flu two years ago, and it’s the sickest I’ve ever been. I work from home, so I only took one day off from work–and that’s the day I ended up in the hospital because I was wheezing so badly that I needed a breathing treatment. If I worked an office job where I had to call in, I would have been out for about 10 days, as it lasted 12 days total.

              2. Tau*

                Yeah, I got swine flu in 2009. Spent something on the lines of a week lying in bed occasionally dragging myself out to manage a slow zombie-like shuffle to the bathroom. There is no earthly way I would have been able to work. And swine flu was, so I heard, actually relatively mild as flus went. A coworker got the flu this year and was out for something on the order of a month.

                1. Elfie*

                  I got the flu about seven or eight years ago (co-incidentally I returned to work one day after having the norovirus when I got the flu!), and I don’t remember a whole week. Like, my husband and I can’t remember if we got up at all, if we ate, if we even used the bathroom – I’ve never been so physically ill in all my life.
                  As an aside, I’ve been out for two instances of two months in the last twelve. I have chronic depression which is exacerbated with a personal situation which is enough to give anyone situational depression. Fortunately, I’m still employed, and I was just given a Satisfactory rating on my annual performance review. I will be forever grateful to my manager, who has believed me, supported me, and encouraged me to take all the time I need, despite my absence actually putting my department in hardship (there were two of us to do the job, until I went off sick!). This is in the UK, which has better healthcare provision and sick leave policies than the US, but this is exceptionally generous treatment (oh, all this time has been fully paid, as my company has 6 months paid sick leave after your first year of service) even for the UK. I have so many recruitment agents calling me with jobs in my area (it seems like a lot of people are suddenly hiring), but I’m turning them all down to stay where I am and repay the trust they’ve shown in me.

                  Tl;dr – 10 days a year sounds like hardly anything to me! Although, not US.

                2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                  I got the flu in 2008, (the first time in DECADES that I had missed my yearly flu shot, but 2007 had been NUTS) and within DAYS it turned into pneumonia complete with coughing up blood (I’m lucky I did not end up hospitalized.) Two MONTHS later I still did not have the energy to even go grocery shopping on my own, and I had gone & had a second chest X-ray done just to be sure it was cleared up. There is NO WAY I could have worked in that time, none whatsoever. And it left my respiratory system so weak that for the next four years or so, every subsequent cold I caught lasted for weeks-months (and I was catching them one right after another! It was horrible.) Years of repercussions from a single bout of flu.

              3. batman*

                I got the flu in 8th and 12th grades and I missed a week of school each time. In 12th grade, it took me another week to recover physically enough to participate in normal track practices. The flu is awful, it’s not just a bad cold, despite what some people think.

              4. Annoyed*

                Last time I had The Flu I was in the hospital for three weeks and at home for another couple. It turned into an “I almost died for real” pneumonia. Got it despite getting a flu shot, which I do religiously. Retail would have fired me.

              5. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

                Yeah, true influenza is no joke. I hate that the term “flu” has come to mean “bad cold” because it’s not the same at all. I had it a few years ago and I could not get out of bed for a week. I alternated freezing and drenching the sheets with sweat. I didn’t really recover fully for a couple of months.

            5. Anonymeece*

              Honestly, it depends. I’m a pretty healthy person, but I had the bad luck of getting strep throat twice in one year, and the doctors told me not to come in for the entire week both times, especially since I’m in contact with a lot of people at work (plus my coworkers probably wouldn’t have appreciated me spreading it around!).

              Additionally, if you work in a school or have contact with a lot of people, you really will be exposed to more bugs and catch more things in the long-run. I talked to my doctor because I was concerned about it, and when she found out I worked in a school library, she started laughing.

            6. Michaela Westen*

              I get sick 2 or 3 times a year, usually more than one day at a time. So it’s more like one time for 5 days, one time for one day, one time for 3 days…
              I’m not otherwise healthy – I have a lot of allergies that predispose me to respiratory infections. Last spring I was unusually sick – missed 7 days in a row with an upper resp. infection, then a bad cold, sinus infection, and lingering cough for another two months – but I didn’t have to miss work for that. Lucky I work in an office. I’m sure customers or patients would have loved me with that bad cold!

            7. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              My husband is extremely healthy, rarely gets sick, and almost never calls in…and goes into work even when he actually shouldn’t. He had that kind of work ethic ground into him as a kid and I think it’s ridiculous. He’s gone in feverish & half out of it with flu or really bad colds. He works in a warehouse driving heavy machinery and it astounds me that none of the bosses consider the liability issues of this and let him (and anyone else that sick) continue to work.

        2. SheLooksFamiliar*

          When I was in college, I worked in retail. I was always on time, I covered other shifts when asked, I showed up no matter what the weather was like – you get the idea. The only day off I ever requested was to go to a funeral, and my boss actually covered my shift for me! He told me he appreciated my work ethic and I was his best employee.

          Well, I was until I got my first ever migraine at work. I was in terrible pain and throwing up almost constantly. I asked to go home and my manager – the man who sang my praises – said if I wanted to hang out at the beach or something, I should plan my days off like everyone else did. When I finally convinced him I was in really bad shape, he insisted on a doctor’s note. Yeah, retail can suck.

          OP2, I hope you can find another job quickly. Retail is kind of like this, which doesn’t make it right. And you deserve better treatment.

          1. Kathlynn*

            Yeah, it’s this kind of treatment that has made me put in less effort to help others out. Like, nope, I’m not going to cancel my weekly visits with my niece to cover shifts. Or cancel any other plans. Especially now that it’s much harder to get to work then when I lived in walking distance. (I don’t drive yet. So I need to walk 20 minutes to the bus, take a cab, or find a ride. And the cabs cost $25 each way)

          2. Autumnheart*

            I definitely remember that too. And I also remember the above phenomenon where, mysteriously, the slackers and people who called out frequently were somehow never disciplined, much less fired, but those of us who were reliable were grilled about our absences and the truthfulness of our explanations, and threatened with write-ups or firing if we didn’t come in.

            A lot of retail managers are garbage people who treat their employees like truant children. LW #2, if you truly don’t need the job, then you are in a good position to walk away from egregiously disrespectful work environments like this. You won’t always be in a position to do so, but it’s a good lesson to internalize that yes, this treatment is unfair and toxic toward you, and that it’s not because YOU did something wrong. It’s never too early to learn that lesson.

            Here’s another lesson that it’s not too early to learn: you don’t actually need to ask permission to leave. You can tell them, “I’m not going to be able to finish out my shift. I’m going to call my mother to pick me up and if I need to call out tomorrow, I’ll do so first thing in the morning.” Let them figure out how to cover it, that’s their job. Do not risk your health for a minimum-wage job that is not a necessity. Again, you won’t always be in a position to do this, but knowing that you have some power in the worker/employer relationship is a good thing to internalize.

            1. CMart*

              “the slackers and people who called out frequently were somehow never disciplined, much less fired, but those of us who were reliable were grilled about our absences and the truthfulness of our explanations, and threatened with write-ups or firing if we didn’t come in.”

              In my experience working in the restaurant industry this is simultaneously true and false.

              True: no actual repercussions on the slackers like firings or hours being cut. They got to come in the next day bragging about day drinking at the beach when they were allegedly “sick” like nothing happened.

              Potentially false: they were never disciplined. I suspect in a lot of cases they, too, were grilled about the absence, given the third-degree, threatened with a write up or a firing etc… and then potentially even written up! They just didn’t care, because they learned early on they weren’t ever going to be fired for real, even if they were written up.

              As a goody-two-shoes myself, the threat of “being written up” was enough to cow me into obeying, but a lot of people will just shrug and say “write me up, then.”

            2. Annoyed*

              So much all of this. I remember retail, back in HS…Lane Bryant’s it was with a nanager who acted like Genetal Franco.

              I just quit in the middle of her grilling me about the veracity of my illness/pain (spoiler: I had emegency surgery that same might-appendix).

              I can’t say that with a job like that, and a like manager I wouldn’t be incluned to just walk out even today at age 55 the same as I did at 17… I guess I’m just stubborn like that.

      3. Jessen*

        In a lot of the retail jobs I worked, management frequently didn’t spend much time actually interacting with the employees. It was common to only see the manager when there was something that absolutely only a manager could do, and then they’d rush off right after. The managers didn’t have any idea who did what and they didn’t really care as long as the shifts were covered. If something didn’t get done, the whole shift would be held responsible.

        The managers had no clue who was and wasn’t worth of the benefit of the doubt because of how little time they spent talking to their employees.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I regretfully agree. I don’t have the depth of retail experience as other commenters, but in my experience, what OP#2 is describing is common (and toxic). Unfortunately, you cannot trust most retail floor managers to have your health or wellbeing at the forefront of their decision-making for most retail employers.

      The dynamic isn’t about treating you as a child who’s lying or normal jerk behavior—it’s 100% rooted in an asymmetrical power relationship that exploits workers at almost every level. For floor employees, it’s about permanently understaffing the floor and not having any backup coverage if someone becomes ill after they’ve started a shift. For shift or site managers, it’s about putting insane pressure on those folks to keep the margin so thin that any deviation results in monetary penalties or firing. And all of this happens, in part, because the labor pool for retail is seen as vast and constantly available (and is often un-unionized).

      This dynamic (and exploitation) is really common in food service, also. I’m sorry, OP#2.

        1. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          I think it’s any job where there is a coverage requirement. There was this attitude when I worked as a bank teller also. Not to the extreme that the OP has listed, but definitely a “are you sure your too sick to make it?” vibe and a general feeling of not being believed and that you were causing a lot of trouble by not coming in.

          1. chrome ate my username*

            I managed lifeguards and this was also common.

            It often meant that someone was teaching swim lessons to babies with the flu, or sitting in the lifeguard chair so ill that they could not spot a drowning person, no less swim to rescue them, or were coughing so hard they could not perform CPR in an emergency.

            I once went into work for a lifeguard shift where I was so sick, I could not figure out how to put my car in park in the parking lot. I then spent 4 hours sitting zombie-like in a chair while medically frail seniors took exercise classes. It was not safe in the slightest.

          2. aebhel*

            Not necessarily; I work in a library, and there are certain shifts (night shifts, mostly) where we’re staffed so short that we’d have to close if someone called in sick or had to leave unexpectedly. But nobody gets penalized for it; it doesn’t happen often, but it does happen, and nobody’s expected to stay at work if they’re really ill.

            Of course, we’re unionized, so there’s that.

          3. Gadget Hackwrench*

            I had this problem as a *software dev* back right after college. I was actually told once when I called into work that I was NOT ALLOWED to call in sick that day, and when I got there, told I was NOT ALLOWED to leave until the project was finished. I pulled an overnighter on a day I tried to call in… and my manager thought it was “suspicious” that my office mate and I both called in sick after that with the SAME symptoms, we must be colluding to fake ill. Hello?!?! You locked him in a room with my sick ass overnight. I caught what I have. Duh.

      1. Lizzy May*

        Yes. I ran into this working in food service when I was younger and it blows my mind. I don’t want to be there sick and you shouldn’t want me there sick yet that’s often what the managers try to make happen.

        1. Dr. Johnny Fever*

          When I worked fast food half a lifetime ago, I caught a stomach bug that had me puking before shift. I tried calling in but there was no coverage, so I went in. I spent half the morning puking in the trash can AND handling food before my manager realized I shouldn’t be there. I wound up having to go to the ER to stop the puking.

          Never had an issue with the manager again, but yikes! What a power trip and what a danger to customers!

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            Possibly derailing, but when I worked on a supermarket checkout, I went into work after being up half the night before throwing up. (I suspect it was food poisoning from a local restaurant.) It was Christmas Eve, so super-busy, and the management assumed that anyone calling in sick was simply trying to get out of it in order to spend the day with their family. I know that was a terrible idea but my only excuse is I was young and green and scared of getting the sack.

      2. soon 2be former fed*

        That’s why these jobs should be unionized. I don’t want to be waited on by a hacking, coughing, sneezing, or otherwise sick appearing individual. I have left food establishments rather than be exposed to such a person handling my food. I really feel for those who have punitive leave policies and unfeeling bosses.

        Some people are healthier than others, so what? It is a pet peeve of mine when people who never get sick think they deserve an attendance trophy or something. Nothing wrong with using the sick leave that is provided to you.

        1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          When I was a kid there was a mom in our school who sent her three kids in every day, no matter how sick they were, so they could get the ‘Perfect Attendance’ award every year. This used to infuriate *my* mom, because they would spread whatever they had to everyone in their classrooms.
          The school actually put their foot down when she sent her kids to school with 1. Ringworm and on another occasion, 2. CHICKEN POX

    3. Kay*

      I agree. I know a lot of managers in retail or just generally employing a lot of casual workers that they will often not take your word for it that you’re sick, and are quite unwilling to be flexible or work with you, especially if it’s a sudden change of their staff. I’m not why that is, though I can speculate it’s go to do with having the shop/phones properly staffed. It SUCKS and is very unfair but I find it’s fairly common in those areas

    4. Scott Simmons*

      I would likely have gotten myself fired before I had a chance to quit in that situation. “I don’t look sick? Well, you don’t look like an a–hole; and yet, here we are.”

      1. soon 2be former fed*

        This is as bad as the nosy and nervy people who decide I don’t look like I should have a handicapped placard, as if I need to explain my private health situation to perfect strangers. I have totally lost it on some of these completely out of order people.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      I worked in a franchised McDonald’s store for two years after uni (I graduated in 2012) and one of my managers (the deputy store manager) said/believed the following things about being sick:

      If you are sick you need to phone in from a landline as obviously, a sick person should be at home.

      If you are not actively throwing up, you are not sick.

      If you are able to leave the house for any reason you were faking and are not sick.

      If you call in sick and are spotted doing anything outside your home that day or evening, you were faking. Clearly, if you’re well enough to cross the road to the convenience store, you’re well enough to work a 10 hour shift in your feet.

      If you post on Facebook, you were faking. If you’re well enough to be posting on Facebook, you’re not sick.

      This last poins included accusing a guy who had broken his collar bone. You see, he was spotted on the pub while off work. If his broken collar bone stopped him working, how is he able to sit in the pub?

      She seemed believe being sick was some sort of binary where you were either unable to move or function at any level or literally well enough for a full day of work (you can probably guess her attitude towards things like disabilities etc). I also once fainted on a shift and was told to return to work after a bit of water. When another girl fainted, this manager stated she was ‘attention seeking’…

      Unfortunately I have little advice but sympathy. As you say in the post that it’s just a job while you’re in school, you hopefully/potentially have more options to leave it, or find a another, or not be as threatened by the risk of losing it.

      So hopefully just call in sick when you’re sick. If they schedule a clash with your class say “I’m sorry but I can’t do that shift as it clashes with my class”. Etc.

      It’s still awful but it should hopefully have less effect on you as you’re part time and presumably not planning to keep this as your long time job. Even if you end up with no reference from it, you’re at a stage on your career etc that you can just leave it off any resumes etc forever, especially as you’re still on school so there will be no ‘gap’.

      1. Lynca*

        I had a manager like that when I worked retail. Had to argue him down because he thought that since I went to the doctor, I should have just come in. I obviously felt good enough to leave the house!

        I almost quit on the spot. It took another really bad incident to make me realize this job wasn’t worth it.

      2. RedPsycho*

        That is utterly ridiculous. That first one in particular is just plan stupid. I haven’t had a landline since 2010 so I guess I’d have to go down to my neighbor’s. But oh wait, that means I’m well enough to leave the house. I suppose I’d be screwed either way.

        I’ve heard other people say the thing about Facebook, and I just don’t get it. How the hell does me laing in bed and looking at my phone equate with me being well enough to stand on my feet for 7 hours?

      3. Amey*

        Yep, this all aligns with my UK retail experience. And as someone said above, I also found that the more trustworthy you were the less slack you were given – a couple of people I worked with would call in sick or leave an hour into their shift with an obvious hangover very regularly (we always ended up short staffed on a Sunday and basically planned for it). When I called in for the first time after a year working there because I’d cut the pad of my finger off and it was spurting blood and I had fainted, I was told to go to A&E (the ER), get it bandaged, and come in. I refused but I felt a bit bitter about the fortnightly hangover group. This was at a pretty decent employer, retail wise, they just had no contingency.

      4. AKchic*

        I swear they teach it in some secret “customer service” retail/food service management school.

        There are a lot of reasons I left retail and food service behind. I wish my husband would leave it, but he is so brainwashed by that garbage he still thinks WalMart is a good employer.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Oh, you’ll see tips on managing employees that explicitly tell you to act like this on advice websites for call-center managers. The call center I worked in was humane and amazing and full of awesome people, but many… aren’t.

      5. Jacki*

        I currently work retail and am fortunate enough to have the kind of job where I can take a day off with a moment’s notice if I’m not feeling well and still get paid (so long as I have PTO available). Still, I’ve been learning bookkeeping to get out because I’m just not being challenged in the ways a normal human being ought to be challenged.

    6. Jen*

      I once had a pizza job where I was puking uncontrollably in the bathroom and my boss did not want me to go home and was upset I hadn’t made the pizzas for the time I was puking. The fact that someone who was sick should bit be around food was lost in her.

      The pure meanness of these people (“we’ll schedule you during class”) is just astounding. This is just pocket change for you and not worth this bad treatment.

      And it is always these kinds of jobs who try to make themselves out as more important than school when they are definitely not. Just walk away.

    7. MissMia*

      Yes! The last retailer I was at was like this. I was in anaphylaxis and my manager walked away from me after I had asked if we at least sold a benedryl. My relief (We were front end supervisors) came in and when I told her what was going on, pushed me out the door and told management that I was leaving. Ended up needing a shot of Epi and an ambulance ride that I’ll never pay off.

      I now supervise at a different national chain and what a whole world of a difference. If I need to go home, they will do the sigh but I can go home and they will deal with it. Same with my cashiers. If they call out, okay, we’ll adjust. The only time we get a little grumpy is if someone agreed to cover another’s shift but no call no shows or if its good weather out and they suddenly can’t come in along with all of their friends suddenly calling out.

      I ended up having to call corporate HR for the first retailer, as the store manager was the problem. She had come in and created a culture where my managers would walk away from me as in the case above or when they needed to cover my lunch (I went days without being allowed to take a lunch because they wouldn’t cover my duties as a supervisor for half an hour). Definitely love the new store.

    8. DuzzleJ*

      That’s par for the course for retail. Retail sucks so much that no-one in their right mind works there unless they have no other choice, and the owners know that.

      One time when I was working in a stationery shop, the second-manager had an old leg injury (ancient dog bite) that flared up and became sore, then became inflamed, and then became infected. The shop’s owner refused to allow the second-manager sick leave: she had to limp around the shop for her 40 hours or lose her job. Eventually someone persuaded her to go to a local GP. The GP phoned the shop owner and s**t all over him at thunderous volume, reading him the Riot Act about what the labor laws actually say about sick leave entitlements for full-time employees. It was beautiful.

      1. Myrin*

        Retail sucks so much that no-one in their right mind works there unless they have no other choice, and the owners know that.

        I think that’s a pretty meanly worded generalisation.
        I work part-time as a stocker in a drugstore and literally everyone loves it there (as you can also see from the extremely low turnover; the three fulltimers who’ve been there the shortest all reached their ten-year-anniversary this year). Now granted, our boss is amazing and you can tell that the awesomeness trickles down from the founder, who I admire a lot as a businessman. But you can also tell that except for your one typical Whiney McWhinerson, my coworkers just really like the work.

        But even without that: my sister works in a supermarket full-time and her boss is horrible and the whole chain’s… methods are quite questionable, but she really, really enjoys the work itself. Many of the stories relayed here remind me a lot of things she’s told me (although we’re not in the US so there’s certain stuff that is plain illegal here and even apart from that, our work culture is noticeably different in a way where even shitty managers still seem more reasonable than some US ones), so it’s certainly not like criticism of retail as a whole is unwarranted, but I also think that people – especially those who haven’t made a career out of it – tend to overlook that a healthy retail environment can be a very fulfilling and satisfactory thing.

        1. Washi*

          Right, the problem with retail is that there’s not an overall system of protections that keep people from being taken advantage of. It’s not inherently a terrible occupation. But I think that may have been what DuzzleJ was getting at – that the retail jobs that tend to be particularly exploitative are not what a lot of people would choose for themselves if they had a choice.

          1. Myrin*

            I’ve been thinking about this for a bit now and am weirdly coming to the conclusion that there really must be a national factor to this – because the “overall system of protections” absolutely does exist here, the problem is more that sleazy bosses try to weasle their way out of them, trying to fly under the radar while doing so, combined with the fact that many people are too scared to speak up even when faced with outrageous behaviour (something that, if you look at this blog, appears to be a thing in basically any industry). The problems with retail I’m seeing here (as in, geographically here, where I live) usually have to do with terrible bosses, but not “terrible bosses” of the “doesn’t let people stay home if sick” variety, but rather of the “is a garbage human being” or “is lazy and incompetent” type. Hm. I’ll definitely be thinking about this more when I have the time!

            1. Indie*

              I agree about the national picture. I had terrible UK retail bosses way back when, but they had toe certain legal lines and what happened to OP would be unthinkable in my old stores. However I am noticing that more recent UK stories on this thread coincide with timing of the removal of those protections and zero hours contracts.

        2. Dragoning*

          Almost no retail stores in the US hire full-timers anymore except at a manager level. Even most supervisors are part-time.

          It might be a meanly-worded generalization, but in the US it’s pretty much accurate.

        3. DuzzleJ*

          I don’t know how the simple statement that retail owners run an abusive exploitative industry can possibly be a ‘mean-spirited generalisation.’ There is a whole list of anecdotes right here, and elsewhere on the Internet that contradict you. When the owners have *that* much power over employees that have nowhere else to go, they will exploit them.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        This is rather judgmental. Some people actually do genuinely enjoy retail. And retail workers are a very necessary part of our economy so perhaps we shouldn’t denigrate them.

        1. chrome ate my username*

          It’s not denigrating to retail workers so much as the working conditions. Retail workers work hard, and it is a very necessary job. But they work irregular hours, for low pay, with few protections for times they need off due to illness or other life situations, little room for advancement or raises, and in the US, no health benefits.

          Switch out the job duties to something more glamorous or skilled, and it’s still an awful job that no one would choose to pursue.

        2. Starbuck*

          I don’t think anyone’s trying to denigrate retail work or the workers themselves; rather that it’s pretty widely known how often management is terrible and working conditions are bad, (and pay is low) so most people don’t chose it unless they don’t have other options.

      3. Courageous cat*

        Yikes dude. People work in retail all the time and love it/make good money/have good lives. Being a sales associate can suck, but that’s quite a generalization.

    9. Kheldarson*

      Yeah… you’re *lucky* if you have a retail manager (or management team) that helps you out or is understanding when you’re sick. Most of the time it’s “go puke and get back to work”. I don’t think most people know how toxic retail is anymore.

      1. Erin*

        It’s usually not the store manager it’s from the top down, and the high turnover and the unreliable staff. They refuse to pay more and have crazy rules about firing people. So we had to keep a girl on staff and work her 10 hours a month, which she missed at least one out of three of her five hour shifts because she always had a bullshit excuse. I even scheduled her the same time a day for every shift for about 6 months until I quit and she still said I changed the schedule. I missed my cousins funeral because of my last shitty retail job. One of my biggest regrets in life isn’t quitting that very day.
        From my experience being a manager I had to do everything my staff did + manager duties and deal with customer complaints. Plus tell everyone else what to do and show them how to do it, if it wasn’t the okay health insurance I would’ve told them to go to hell.

    10. Cindy Featherbottom*

      I hate to say it, but the other folks are right. Retail seems to attract bad managers for whatever reasons. I have more than my fair share of stories of managers acting/behaving poorly, handling situations terribly, acting just in general like children instead of the managers they are supposed to be. I personally think that part of the problem is that retail does tend to employ younger people and, a lot of the time, younger people dont stand up for themselves as much as a more seasoned worker would so managers tend to develop bad habits simply because they can and rarely does anyone stand up to them. Even the ‘good’ managers in retail still pull some serious malarchy sometimes. The best thing I can suggest is to be an advocate for yourself. If you are sick and need to go home, then tell them that you need to go home and be firm about it. Get a doctors note again if you need to so you can back it up (and if your manager tells you that you dont look sick again, tell them you’d rather have a doctor make that call and that you’re leaving to go see the doctor). If they schedule you during class as retribution, tell them that you’ve made your availability clear and are unable to work that shift. Dont offer to help them find a replacement either. Just make it clear that you aren’t going to take their crap….but in a calm and professional manner. And look for another job while you are at it. Not all retail jobs are terrible but sometimes its hard to find the good ones

      1. Kheldarson*

        “Retail seems to attract bad managers…”

        No, they create them. Corporate creates cultures which reward bad managers and incentivize the behaviors that make retail work harder. Like staying understaffed (manager gets a bonus for staying under payroll limits!) or ignoring health concerns (see understaffed and corporate policies of three strikes). Good managers tend to eventually escape, while bad managers stay.

        1. Antilles*

          The other part of this dynamic is that the corporate management will openly wonder why they get awful marks on customer service.
          You treat your employees like dirt, you don’t let your managers provide appropriate level of staffing, you don’t pay enough to retain your best employees, customers have to deal with long lines and other hassles due to lack of employees, employees don’t see a real incentive to work hard for customers…but no no, none of that matters, it’s a total mystery why the service is bad. Maybe if we had a mandatory Customer Service training seminar and some hot buzz-words about the Big Box Store Way; yeah, that’ll fix everything.

        2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian*

          So much this.

          During my stint as a retail store manager, I was constantly threatened by corporate if I personally went over 40hrs a week, and continually cut the number of hours that I could use for staffing. I was never able to work at the same time as any of my regular staff (training was a joke), and saw them for minutes at most during shift hand-off.
          Plus, I was in a location (outlet mall that isn’t really outlets) that occasionally extended shopping hours during various holidays and it was mandatory that all shops be open during those times (Black Friday, tax-free weekend, etc). I had to repeatedly beg to get enough hours to give to staff to handle those mandatory times.

          I was also repeatedly taken advantage of (paid far less than other managers regardless of tenure, repeatedly told I would be moved stores and then repeatedly lied to, etc etc). At the time, I didn’t know enough about my rights and whatnot to fight back. I just left when I could.
          I tried really really hard to do right by my staff, but I had zero tools or support myself.

          1. Robert Foster*

            The above is why I really liked my GM at [theater chain]. He would tell us “do what you need. Schedule and cut as you feel we need. If corporate gets mad, I’ll take it from them.” It helped we were one of the top 4 [chain] theaters but he would always go to bat for us. Raises, pushing back against stupid policies, etc. He was a great GM, hired great managers. Happy staff leads to happy customers. After so many years in retail/service, I still don’t understand how many managers don’t get that.
            I noted Was above as he finally accepted a district Manager position, after 15 years of them offering it to him.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              “I still don’t understand how many managers don’t get that.”
              As a customer of corporate retail, I think upper management doesn’t care about whether customers, staff, middle managers or anyone else are happy. All they care about is taking my money now. That’s their goal, and they don’t care about next quarter.
              It sounds like you had an exceptionally strong GM.

      2. Detective Amy Santiago*

        There is a serious lack of management training for people in all industries in my experience. At least in part, this is because people assume that being capable of performing a job equals being capable of managing other people to do said job.

        1. LadyL*

          YES! I see this as part of how we undervalue teachers as well. We have this societal view that if you know a subject well (or the job well) then that’s all you need to tell others, because we don’t believe/acknowledge that teaching/guiding/mentoring/leading others is a real legit skill.

          Leadership and people skills must be consciously developed if you want to succeed at them, and it’s infuriating how few people understand that.

          1. whingedrinking*

            See also: academia. I would really like to kick whatever individual decided that PhD = teaching qualification, because it really, really doesn’t.

          2. Ja'am*

            This is also why it’s so annoying that in so many industries and roles that the only way to advance in your career is to become a manager.

            Those with the foresight and introspection enough to know that a managerial role wouldn’t suit them often end up feeling stuck. Those without go into management without being a good fit or ready.

        2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          At the place I used to work retail, we had an EXCELLENT management training program, which I was incredibly grateful for. (We actually had great employee training programs too, even for part time seasonal workers.)
          All store managers went through it, even the part time assistant manager. It was actually a pretty great place to work, and I never had to deal with the kind of BS that most retail workers do (I started part time seasonal and ended up full time assistant manager.)
          The BS I *did* end up having to deal with was phenomenal in its own way, but it was all a result of the place going from privately owned to corporate & a completely different kind of story.

      3. Aphrodite*

        “Retail seems to attract bad managers for whatever reasons. I have more than my fair share of stories of managers acting/behaving poorly, handling situations terribly, acting just in general like children instead of the managers they are supposed to be. ”

        This brought back a memory from perhaps ten+ years ago. I bought some things at Lands’ End and decided to return them. So I went to our local Sears. The cashier station near the door had a cashier at it and an older female employee nearby who came over when she saw me. Unfortunately, she was having some trouble figuring out the returns so a young man, a low-level manager, came over. He wasn’t needed; I was patient and willing to wait for her to figure it out.

        Unfortunately, he was one of those types who thinks he’s so perfect and so powerful that he’s nasty to those under him. He stood there silently and with an air and attitude so disapproving, hateful actually, of this poor woman that it spilled out onto everything. I wanted to shout out to him to go away and I am still deeply ashamed, all these years later, that I didn’t complain about him to corporate. He just stood there until finally he told the younger woman to help me and the older woman returned to the sales floor. She kept a smile and greeted people as they came in the door but I could feel her pain and burned with humiliation for her. I have never been so humiliated myself, and my dislike for the store turned that day into a burning hatred. I rejoice that they are dying and it can’t come soon enough for me. I never again bought anything from LE because of the connection. I hope that a-hole was stomped on. And I hope that woman, who was probably supplementing her social security, found peace and dignity for herself and did not suffer as much humiliation as I did.

        God, the tears are flowing again just as much as they did that day.

          1. Kat in VA*

            Seconded. Empathy is an exquisite gift that people should employ more often.

            You never know what’s going on behind the scenes with someone, particularly in a service position. For example, I’ve asked – many times – a waitperson if they’re okay if they seem abrupt or curt or just disconnected.

            Nine times out of ten, when they realize I have a genuine concern, I find out about a sick child or an abrupt divorce or a family member dying. They always end up apologizing and I always hasten to reassure them that I asked because I really want to know if they’re okay, not to upbraid them for forgetting my soda or whatever. Then I tip the daylights out of them because even thought I can’t lessen the pain of Mom being in her last days or a baby that just isn’t getting better, at least I can show a gesture of compassion.

            To be clear, I’m not any kinda holier than thou person or special or virtue-signaling. I’ve just had probably more than my fair share of strangers extending me grace when I’ve been in a bad spot, and I’m determined to continue passing that grace along whenever I am able.

            Try to be kind, wherever you can. Everyone is engaged in their own struggle under the uniform or the too-bright smile, and some struggles are bigger and heavier than others. And sometimes, the struggles can spill into and overwhelm you even when you’re at work.

    11. Baby Fishmouth*

      Yupp, reading that reminded me why I hated working retail so much.

      The worst I ever encountered was when I used to work in a grocery store deli in high school that only ever had one staff member working at a time – I once got called to come in because the girl who was scheduled sliced her hand open on the meat slicer. I told them I couldn’t be there for 30-40 minutes because I had to walk in, and they said that was fine.

      When I showed up, the girl who had sliced her hand open was still there. They wouldn’t let her leave until I showed up, even though she couldn’t use her hand (she wound up having to get several stitches later on). They would have rather let an employee bleed all over the deli than leave it unstaffed. Needless to say, I was glad to move on from that job.

      1. whingedrinking*

        The thing is that having worked in retail myself, I know where at least some of this is coming from. Ninety nine percent of humanity is, if not a delight to deal with, at least reasonable. That ninety nine percent would think, “Huh, the deli’s closed. Well, that sucks. Guess I’ll have to get my sliced ham later.”
        The remaining one percent are secretly howling demons who relish the smallest opportunity to go and yell at someone over the most trivial problem. These people would react to the deli being closed by finding the nearest manager and verbally flaying them alive, probably before calling corporate to complain. It’s to prevent said flaying that a surprising number of management policies are in place.

        1. aebhel*

          I hate to say it, but dealing with unreasonably customers is part of the manager’s job and why they get paid more. You don’t get to torture your staff just to get out of being yelled at by somebody who can’t deal with a counter being closed.

        2. Courageous cat*

          Eh, it’s not even just that – having a store closed, especially part of a larger chain, looks unprofessional and shitty in general. As well as the fact that in many shopping centers/malls/etc your store can be fined for not being open during set operating hours.

          I can’t remember the last time I ever saw a corporate store closed due to being understaffed, so obviously there’s a great deal of just general shame involved, particularly from corporate to their managers running the stores.

    12. LadyL*

      Food service too. Is it normal? Oh, very. Is it right? Absolutely not.

      When I worked at a chain restaurant I got a serious stomach bug. My boss told me that if I couldn’t find someone to cover my shifts I’d have to come in. None of my coworkers wanted to cover for me, so I broke food code rules and ended up coming in. They said it was “fine” because they put me on dishes and cash register all night. I was so weak that I had trouble standing.

      This is why labor rights are so important, businesses often won’t act decently unless they are required to.

      1. Lizzy May*

        I did dishes while sick in food service. It was a horrible idea, but my supervisor insisted. Nothing like a sick person touching alllll of the dishes. That won’t contaminate anything, right? But customers couldn’t see me and that was all that mattered.

        1. AKchic*

          when pregnant with my second, I tried to have that option. One manager was very upset that I was a “fallen woman again” because I was pregnant with my second without being married, so she would purposely have me prep pickles, knowing full well that pickles made my nausea worse. She did not care. It was punishment for getting pregnant a second time without being married.

          I made sure to puke in a few 10 gallon pickle buckets and ruin stock. When the store manager got mad and tried to write me up and I asked for union (AAFES is union) representation, guess what they asked about?
          Guess who never had to touch another pickle during her pregnancy again? I stayed with AAFES for two years until leaving my abusive ex (who had trapped me with that pregnancy).

      2. Trying to be an office worker*

        I worked at a chain restaurant too I had a coworker who was a server ( I wasn’t one) she was told that she called out too many times so she’d be in trouble for calling out again ( she had a doctors note every time) well she got swine flu and worked and was told she could be fired for working. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    13. Dr. Pepper*

      Alas, yes, this is all too common in retail or any other job where the pay is low, the applicant pool is large, and no particular skills are required to do the work. It’s toxic before you even start; you couldn’t have a better setup for a toxic environment if you’d planned it on purpose.

      I had a job like that, with minimum staff and no emergency coverage, and I got the flu so bad I couldn’t stand up. Like, I could barely make my way to the bathroom I was so dizzy and groggy. I called in sick and my boss basically screamed at me, accused me of faking and maliciously doing this to her and so on and so forth. Though feeling like death I think I told her she could fire me if she liked but there was no effing way I’d be in to work. She finally accepted it, and actually didn’t fire me.

    14. CopperBoom*

      And if you are pinning the success on any given shift on one person who works part-time, well, you’re not a very good manager. I worked retail for 4 years, including two as a manager, and seriously, there is not one shift that hangs on the shoulders of any one person. It might be rough at times, but you’ll make it through. My store had about 50 associates, almost all of them college students, and of course we’d have times where sickness would take over. The store will not collapse. It’s especially difficult when you are a good, responsible employee, and a manager makes you think you are indispensable.

    15. Lucille2*

      Very common in retail, food service, pretty much every customer service job I’ve had is like this. They usually had some kind of policy that assumed everyone who calls out sick is lying unless proven to be sick with a doctor’s note. I had to go to work with the flu because it was retail and it was holiday season. No one was allowed to call out sick during holiday season or they would be fired. That’s what my supervisor told me when I tried to call out. So I took frequent breaks to vomit in the bathroom.

      I also went to work with pink eye, in a restaurant, because I couldn’t find anyone to cover my shift. Even though I was never allowed to call in sick when I held service jobs, I’m confident none of my bosses would’ve required me to stay and finish my shift if I had passed out at work. I agree with Alison, that’s pretty bad even for retail.

      1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        When I was a retail manager, I think that *I* would’ve been the one fired for making an employee work after fainting on a shift (L.I.A.B.I.L.I.T.Y!) It would have been MY (or another manager’s) responsibility to cover for them if I couldn’t find another regular employee to come in for the rest of the shift.

    16. Courageous cat*

      Yeah. “No sick days” is a pretty common thing in retail/food service, from my experience. Either get your shift covered, or… sorry. I see it the most in industries where coverage is important, since stuff can fall apart without enough people.

      It’s not right and I don’t agree with it, but it’s pushed down on managers from corporate, and it’s probably not likely to change much anytime soon, so you may have trouble finding better sick policies while in retail.

  2. Susan K*

    #3 – I don’t think it’s very common for employers to allow you to trade your vacation time for cash. I’ve never worked anywhere that allowed it, and I know a lot of people who would love to have the option because they’re too busy to take all of their PTO and lose some every year. In most jobs, the employer isn’t paying someone else to do your job while you’re on vacation (aside from coworkers covering some of your duties while you’re away), so it would cost them more money to pay you a bonus in lieu of vacation. You should consider yourself lucky that they allowed you to do that in the past, and it’s too bad it’s no longer an option, but just because they did it before doesn’t mean they’re obligated to continue.

    1. Alldogsarepuppies*

      Agreed, this is so uncommon that to continue pushing would be a bad look. If you know its “use it or lose it” up front, so you shouldn’t be surprised that’s what they are holding you to, without special treatment.

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      It’s definitely not common, often for the exact reasons that the employer identified (it’s not in the budget, and there are policy reasons for requiring someone to take vacation).

      But if OP really wants to cash this out going forward, move to California, where PTO/vacation has to be paid out (although even in California, an employer can require that you take your vacation instead of paying it out).

      1. CAA*

        If she doesn’t like California, she could also try Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Rhode Island or Wyoming.

        Even in California though, buy-back policies are not all that common. My last company had a two-for-one policy where you could use 40 hours of PTO and put 80 on your timecard and they’d pay out the extra week as a bonus, but you could only do it in increments of 40 hours. I’ve also worked for a couple of startups that suddenly offered PTO buy backs at the end of the year because they wanted to reduce cash on hand and the liabilities on the balance sheet before reporting to the investors, but you couldn’t really count on those.

        1. Health Insurance Nerd*

          In MA you have to be paid for any accrued and unused vacation if you leave the company, but there is no law requiring any kind of payout for those whom are still actively employed with that company.

          1. CAA*

            Yeah, as far as I know, there’s no state that requires a company to buy back vacation from current employees. It’s just that you’re more likely to find companies with buy-back plans in states that ban use-it-or-lose-it policies and I was pointing out that CA is far from the only state that bans them.

            1. Tiny Orchid*

              At three different places I’ve worked in California, the policy was “when you accrue a balance of XX days of vacation, then you stop accruing until you use some of them” – seems to be a fairly common workaround.

              1. Chinookwind*

                Same in Canada. You can accrue and they will pay out when you leave, but not every workplace will let you have your vacation paid out before hand (even though those dollars are considered a liability on their books). Some may give you the option once a year while others do the “you can accrue to XX and then stop accruing until you use it.” The latter do it to encourage people to go on vacation and even point out that, if you stop accruing vacation, that means you are working for free for a few days a year.

                1. Dove*

                  My dad just retired last year from government work, where his vacations days didn’t expire and either didn’t have an upper limit to how many he was allowed to have or he kept using just enough to keep himself from maxing them out. Before he retired, he ended up having to take three months of vacation just so that they wouldn’t have to cash out all of it (and because he wanted to take time to get used to not having to go into work, and he saw no reason to leave them on the sort of bad terms that making them have to pay out over three months of vacation time would result in).

              2. Someone Else*

                That’s because the law in CA essentially requires it. California considers accrued vacation earned income, so it cannot expire. To avoid giant liability, companies put a cap on how much you can have accrued at one time. They legally can’t say “use it by DATE or it goes away” so instead they say “you can’t have more than X” banked.
                If OP isn’t in a state with that type of requirement, it makes sense their company has use-it-or-lose-it policy instead of “stop accruing after X”. They probably can’t convince the company to change it, and I don’t think having the latter would actually help OP in this case since they seem to want to be paid out, which even in California, they should only expect when they leave, not just when the year flips. I think this OP just has unreasonable expectations given the norms (or at least the norms in the US).

          2. batman*

            Yeah, in DC you’re only paid for accrued leave when you leave the company. They don’t require employers to pay you in lieu of losing it at the end of the year.

        2. Arizonan employee*

          Arizonan here. Employers are required to pay out the monetary amount of unused vacation time when you leave a job, but there’s no requirement that an employer pay the dollar amount if an employee just doesn’t want to take their vacation time, but is continuing on as an employee.

    3. designbot*

      Right, plus research recently has indicated that you are a better employee when you take time for yourself. So if they buy into that proposition, trading vacation they want you to take for money they don’t have budgeted means they’re losing twice on this deal.

    4. Greg NY*

      I think what the LW should’ve done, given that the money was more important than the time off, is to negotiate less (or even no) PTO in exchange for a higher salary during the negotiation process when the offer was extended. It’s no different than those who negotiate for more time off in exchange for less money. Not on a year by year basis, but on a permanent basis. I’m not saying they would’ve definitely had success, because the company still could’ve come back with “we don’t have the money in the budget for a higher salary in lieu of PTO”. But at least the LW would’ve known that right off the bat (and decided if it’s a deal breaker for them) and the company could’ve had this as a known budget item every year.

      As much as I value vacation, I think there is value to a higher salary in lieu of PTO. It raises your career earnings (obviously), and if invested properly, can pay huge dividends (literally) down the road. It also gives you a bigger raise when raises are a percentage of your current salary, and for companies in states where it is still permissible to ask about salary history, it will help your offer at that employer. Except in organizations for which it is difficult to account for unpaid time off, you can still take time off without PTO. That is, after all, what happens when someone exhausts their PTO and has to take time off later in the year (such as for illness).

      1. Dragoning*

        It sounds like OP did do this, actually…but they still earn extra vacation time every year because of their tenure. And they don’t want any of it.

    5. Ruth (UK)*

      Interestingly, I think this is the norm in the UK (to pay out untaken vacation days). As I’ve always taken all mine (and always plan to) I’m not sure for certain as it doesn’t affect me personally, but I think it might even be a legal requirement. (However, this may be partly due to the fact that employers are required by law to give a certain number of paid days off).

      1. Deus Cee*

        I’m in the UK, and this doesn’t apply – we also have “use it or lose it”, but we are also entitled to carry days over from one year to the next, so I don’t know if it is the norm or whether other companies just force people to go on leave.
        My husband’s company used to offer up to 5 days per year “buy-back” to their employees (so anyone who didn’t want full amount of leave could sell it back to them for extra money), but when the recession hit, they couldn’t afford to keep offering that perk so it ended.
        OP3, I’d count yourself lucky for being able to do this in the past, but it looks like your company has decided they’d rather save that money. Pushing back now would probably just reflect poorly on you and not gain you anything.

        1. Dragoning*

          That’s not what “use it or lose it” means in the US. “Use it or lose it” means if you don’t use it that year, you don’t get it. No rollover, no payout, nothing. It just vanishes.

          1. SusanIvanova*

            You can accumulate up to some maximum that keeps the accountants happy and that rolls over year to year, but anything more is “lost”.

            1. Someone Else*

              Where I live we’d call that an accrual cap, not use-it-or-lose-it. The difference being if it never accrues, you’re not “losing” it, instead you never receive it in the first place. (And comes into play specifically in places with laws against “losing” already accrued time off; so the cap is the legal alternative to the time expiring.)

        2. SarahKay*

          In the UK the company has a legal requirement to ensure you take at least 28 days paid leave (for full-timers) and those 25 days can include bank holidays. Often a company will give 25 days plus bank holidays; those extra five days can be dealt with at the company’s discretion. They can let you roll them into the next year, or they can pay you for them, or they can go with ‘you didn’t use it, so you lose it’.
          My previous company was a use it or lose it, my current one will let you carry them over to the next year, but only ‘once’. So I can’t carry over five days and next year take 20 days plus bank holidays, and then ask to carry over ten; the surplus five are lost at that point.
          OP3, I get that it’s frustrating that you were allowed to swap PTO for pay in the past and not allowed now, but that’s the nature of business. Some years there’s budget for that, and other years there’s no spare cash.

      2. Amey*

        I don’t think it’s a legal requirement – at my fairly large employer, we’re allowed to carry 5 days over but we lose the rest. We get a lot of annual leave (about 6 weeks) and some departments are chronically understaffed so you get plenty of people who end up with a lot of leave left at the end of the year. I’m pretty sure that we don’t have the option to have it paid out instead. I think they have to pay out accrued leave if you leave a job, but that’s obviously different, and I’m not sure whether that’s a legal requirement or not.

      3. Bagpuss*

        Also in the uK.

        It is a legal requirement to pay for Statutory holiday time which has been accrued but not taken when you leave employment (although the employer may require you to take the time as holiday, during your notice period, rather than paying you, if they want)

        It would be illegal in almost all circumstances to pay someone in lieu of them taking their statutory holidays , and there are also limits on whether and how much time can be carried over (again with some exceptions in situations such as maternity leave or long term sickness) .

        However, it is very common for employers to give additional holidays over and above the statutory minimum, and for those, it depends n the terms of your contract – it would be perfectly legal for them to be on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, and whether or not they are paid out if you leave would depend on the contract, but I think getting paid in lieu, except at the end of a contract, is very unusual.

        1. Specialk9*

          Same in the US, in my experience, when you leave a job they have to cash out your unused vacation time but not sick time. (Though most companies seem to have rolled them together by now.)

    6. Red Reader*

      My employer does allow it, but it has to be elected at the open enrollment period in October for a payout in spring, you still have to have a certain amount of PTO left after the payout, and it’s only paid out at 80% if you go that route.

      1. Teapotty*

        I’m in the UK and it depends on company to company. I have to use or lose my leave within the leave year but as I’m an agency worker my holiday pot is accrued separately. I can take leave if I don’t have enough paid though. One of my friends can carryover a certain amount of days each year and run two leave years together for longer vacations. My boyfriend is able to buy and sell back some leave to his company but you have to apply for this at the start of the leave year; not just when you run a bit short.

    7. Feline*

      It’s not common at all. I know of a company in the notoriously low-paying hospitality industry who allowed employees to trade in some of their PTO in exchange for the company covering (initially all, then part of) the employee contribution to their health care plan. But that option has been gone for many years now.

      The arrangement OP3 describes sounds like something that would need to be negotiated as part of a hiring negotiation, the way you would salary or extra vacation days.

      1. Cindy Featherbottom*

        One of my employers has this policy. If you dont use your vacation, or at least have a request in to use vacation, by December 1, they assume you dont want it and its paid out as a bonus (so higher tax rate too). Some people elect to take the bonus since it pops up about 1.5 weeks before Christmas and it helps buy last minute gifts, travels stuff, etc. I think you can only do that for up to a weeks worth of vacation though (I’m part time at that job now so it no longer applies to me). I know this isn’t common at all though. I wouldn’t push back too hard on this. They might have been lenient about it when their budget allowed and simply cant do it anymore.

        1. Natalie*

          Bonuses are not taxed higher, just withheld at a supplemental rate. All employment based income gets reported as one pot come tax time.

            1. Not A Morning Person*

              Yes, it sometimes is taxed in such a way that when it is reported, it’s taxed as if that is your regular total salary for the pay period, instead of taxable salary plus taxable bonus and can push you into a higher tax bracket. It should even out somewhat when you file your taxes.

              1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

                Yep. At my husband’s work (we are in California, and he has a union job) they used to let people ‘cash out’ a certain amount of vacation time (and it was encouraged because they were understaffed) and initially it was taxed as though it was part of their regular salary. This was a godsend for us at times, because we often really needed that extra chunk of cash for a long needed car repair or some other big ticket necessity we’d had to put off due to lack of funds.
                Then last year they decided to start taxing the cash outs as a ‘bonus’, which meant he only got about 1/2 of the actual cash out amount, at which point he said ‘eff that’ and took all his vacation time off. The managers are really unhappy, because everyone who used to cash out some time is now doing this so they can get all the money they are entitled to instead of half of it, and it’s caused coverage & scheduling problems. The old rule was ‘only one person out on vacation at a time’ and it’s MUCH harder to implement now that people are taking ALL their time.

    8. AdAgencyChick*

      Yup. In fact, I think some employers secretly love it when employees aren’t able to take all their PTO, because then they get to say they offer an attractive benefits package yet work employees enough that they can’t fully use those benefits (and collecting extra billable hours for employees who work when they could be taking PTO).

      1. Anonymeece*

        Hey, that sounds familiar! Yes, we have great vacation! – but you’re never allowed to take it. I had 8 weeks built up before I was finally able to take any, and then only to take off a week when I was finishing my Master’s.

    9. Quackeen*

      Yeah, I’ve worked exactly one job where it was possible to cash out vacation, and that was only if you were in a union position that had that written into your contract. It did create yet another point of contention between union and non-union workers, because more people wanted the cash-out option.

      1. LCL*

        Yes, in my union job, our workgroup and a few others are allowed to cash out at full value. The ability to do this is specifically written in the part of the contract that applies to us. Basically only those groups that do shift work have this as part of their agreement. It hasn’t been negotiated for the rest of the company because there isn’t much demand for it. We do have issues with new people in our group sometimes who will demand vacation because they think they are at use it or lose it. When the cashout is explained to them, again, some employees think it’s great and others say they are entitled to their time off and won’t be using cashout.

    10. MCMonkeyBean*

      Especially if they have a use-it-or-lose-it policy. There’s really not much incentive for them to pay that money to you when you’re saying it’s likely you will just not use the vacation at all! Take the 3-day weekends, that’s what I’m doing this year. I hit the 5-year mark so have more vacation than I used to. I put all my planned vacations on the calendar and then calculated how much PTO I would still have and put a bunch of random Fridays on the calendar during slower periods. It’s actually kind of great! Gives me an extra day to get errands done or just relax.

      1. Tau*

        I have a bunch of holiday left this year because I was ill over the summer and couldn’t take my planned vacations. I’m seriously considering taking one afternoon off per week for the entirety of October, November and December!

    11. KarenK*

      Hourly employees are allowed to cash in unused PTO once yearly where I work. The amount is limited based on how long you’ve worked here, and you are required to keep a certain amount in your bank. I used to do it every year, until I became salaried.

      Also, although there is a limit on how much you can accrue (I’ve been here over 30 years, and my cap is at 440 hours), when you leave, you get all unused PTO paid out.

    12. Kelly O*

      As others have mentioned, taking your PTO is good for you – as Alison mentioned, maybe long weekends every now and again? Are you coming in to work sick when you should REALLY be taking PTO?

      Once upon a time, I worked at a university that allowed you to bank time for a very long time. We had someone in our area who essentially got to stop working a full year before she retired because she’d banked so much sick, vacation, and personal time, she’d hit the caps on what she could “buy back.”

      Once she left the office, we found a huge mess. Because she never took time, she was the only one who ever did her job. It took months to work through what was left behind, and I know we missed things. She was kind, good at what she did, but not taking time off and not cross-training wound up hurting us all in the end.

      So take your time. Netflix and chill or whatever the kids say. Go fishing. Go wander the grocery store on a Wednesday when it’s not crowded. Take time to refuel your own tank and be more productive when you come back.

    13. JustaTech*

      The only times I’ve gotten paid out vacation without leaving my job were the two times my company was purchased. Vacation time looks like debt on the books so it had to be paid out. I had been saving my vacation time for school, so that was pretty inconvenient, but not as bad as the folks who had hoarded up like 6 weeks to go visit family in China.

      The next time we got bought I went on a 3 week trip right before (planned well in advance) and got paid out like 2 days.

    14. Phoenix Programmer*

      My org let’s people cash out PTO in the election period – but I really wish I could purchase more PTO. I don’t want more money at this point. I really just wish I could have more time off! I’d even be willing to not take a raise in exchange for permanent increase in PTO.

    15. aebhel*

      My employer allows it for sick days. We accrue 12 sick days per year, up to a maximum of 90 (payable upon retirement) and if you have 90 already accrued you can get a payout for the ones you would have accumulated during the year if you don’t use them.

  3. Frustrated Jobseeker*

    OP #2, I’ve been working as a grocery and discount store cashier (either as survival income while job hunting, or for extra cash while otherwise employed). I’ve also felt faint on the job a few times. Luckily, my supervisors let me go home early and didn’t penalize me. For the last two summers, I’ve had to have surgery, with weight restrictions when I returned to work after each one. Both times management put me on different duties. (Let me tell you, it’s hard to work as a grocery store cashier when you’re not supposed to lift 25-pound bags of dog food, 35-pound pails of cat litter, heavy cases of bottled water, or anything else that weighs more than a gallon of milk.) If your store’s managers are actually punishing you by making you work when you’re unavailable, then I say you need to find another employer. IDK where you live. But I do know that in my area (medium-sized US city with a booming tech sector and a major university), there’s a Help Wanted sign at every store and restaurant. Good luck to you.

      1. RedPsycho*

        Because no one is going to relocate for a retail job. The point wasn’t to say, “Hey come to my city to find work.” The point was to say, “Hey, I live in a medium sized city that always has help wanted signs up. If you live somewhere similar, look around.”

        Also, some people (including myself) don’t like to give out personal details (yes, I consider the city I live in a personal detail) over the internet.

        1. MakesThings*

          I would think that some people might move for a job if they’re looking to move anyway.
          And a medium-sized US city would have several million occupants, so the chances of someone online tracking you down based on just city name are rather small (and if someone is persistent, they can find you anyway), but to each their own.

          1. Snark*

            Given the costs of relocation and the economics of hourly shift work, I would be very surprised if many people are able, even if willing, to move to another city or state work at a restaurant or store. Certainly not enough to make this level of fuss on their behalf.

      2. Specialk9*

        I never name my city. I share enough other things, and realistically an algorithm can track me down, but I don’t want to make it too easy.

    1. Turquoisecow*

      The first grocery store I worked at, when I called out sick they put the store manager on the phone to personally ream me out and explain to me that if I called out too much I’d probably lose my job. He probably had no idea who I was but had had a large number of people call out and this was why he was being “tough.” I’d worked at the job for like a month at that point.

      My second job at a different grocery store has a policy to call out four hours in advance, but I woke up feeling sick about two hours before my shift. I was terrified to call in, but the front end supervisor (not the manager), was very kind, and just said “okay, feel better,” and that was all. I later moved up to that job, and I might have bagged a person or two who called out all the time, but if someone got sick on the register, I would have let them leave, and so would most of my coworkers.

      Some people are jerks on a power trip. That seems to describe OP’s manager. OP, unless you are in a very very tiny town, there should definitely be other options for part time work available for college students. At least some of those bosses are going to be a lot nicer than the ass you currently work for. Look in to switching jobs.

  4. ENFP in Texas*

    #3 – I’ve never been at a job that allowed me to cash out my PTO days. The only time I’ve heard of someone getting cash for their PTO was when they were leaving the company, and even that was capped at a certain number of days.

    1. Alexander*

      There are (I assume a lot) Countries where cashing out your PTO is plain illegal as well. German law for example explicitly states that the (mandatory minimum of 20 days Vacation time + 10 or so public holidays) PTO you are getting is to be used for relaxation and personal well-being (which also means that you are not allowed to work a second job in your PTO for example..), and that it cannot be traded for cash (except in very rare circumstances, that need to be proven, if needed to the government), as a lot of companies would love to pay out people to work their PTO instead of getting coverage sorted out… this is actually a measure of workers protection.

      1. Temporarily Anon*

        I’m in Taiwan, and my class of employee has unused vacation time paid out at the end of each year, by law, (it doesn’t roll over). This is part of a new set of worker protection laws, and is intended to encourage employers to let their employees actually use the vacation (which is also set by law).

        Mind you, I’m a government employee and they didn’t actually give my institute any extra money in the budget to pay for this, so we have to use up our vacation by the end of the year. Last year, when the law came into effect, I had to take every day in December I was physically in the country as vacation, but still had to go into the office for various important paperwork (travel reimbursements, visa renewal).

    2. ThatGirl*

      Illinois mandates that unused PTO must be paid out upon a person leaving a company, there’s no cap as far as I know, but that’s why most places (I’ve worked, at least) have an accrual throughout the year system and a use it or lose it policy – it’s considered a liability. My current job does allow some rollover (up to 5 days), it must be used within the first three months of the next year, though.

      1. ENFP in Texas*

        My company instituted a 40-hour maximum rollover policy a number of years ago, which probably had more to do with rounds of “rightsizing” and early retirement buyouts that have happened since then. I’m just glad we don’t have a limit on when we have to use the carryover.

    3. Arjay*

      We used to be able to roll over 40 hours and cash out 40 hours of PTO annually. They changed that a couple years back to eliminate the cash out but they increased the rollover to 80 hours.

  5. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    #2 Your manager is indeed an ass. Strep throat is contagious and you should not have been back at work for at least 48 hours. I’ve been shopping and have seen obviously ill workers. It reflects very poorly on the business.

    1. RedPsycho*

      THIS! I don’t understand how managers think it’s ok to have someone contagious continue to work. Wouldn’t you rather send that person home and deal with it for a few days than have them make everyone sick and have to scramble to find coverage for EVERYONE when they all inevitably end up sick too?

      1. Lizzy May*

        Managers are banking on two things; the first that not everyone will get sick because people have different immune systems and two, that most people need the money and will come in sick anyhow.

    2. Lucille2*

      I’ve worked for retail and food service managers who assume the majority of employees who call out sick are lying, especially if they call out on a Fri/Sat night or Mon morning. It’s also common to staff to the bare minimum needed to keep the place running and put the responsibility on the sick employee to find someone to cover their shift. Also, part time employees don’t have paid sick leave available to them in the US, so taking a day off without pay is not always an option. However, I agree with Alison that OP’s boss seems pretty bad even by retail’s low standard of management.

    3. TardyTardis*

      I bet this is where some of the problems are coming from in certain fast food restaurants in the news lately.

  6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, is your candidate moving from a college/university employer to a non-university setting? Or moving between universities? Because I have unfortunately seen the .pdf document you’re describing in administrative support staff hiring at my big public university, which I still find bizarre. But I haven’t seen it at other universities or in other employment tracks/categories.

    1. minuteye*

      When academics get hired (at least in my field) the teaching portfolio is supposed to include feedback, and “unsolicited positive feedback” is counted most highly. So emails about how awesome your teaching is from students or peers are definitely included in that section. It seems plausible that a candidate doing something like what the OP#5 describes (or what you’ve witnessed) might have gotten general advice that didn’t apply to them, or picked up something from academic peers that doesn’t really apply in admin.

      1. cataloger*

        I was thinking this same thing. I work in academia and am currently putting together a dossier for promotion; such letters are a common/expected part of it. There’s a section of the dossier specifically for them! Colleagues know this, and at the end of a major project or service on a committee, they will often write you a letter specifically for use in such portfolios. They’re not intended to be confidential.

      2. Nita*

        Interesting! My husband attached a feedback compilation like that to his CV when applying to some teaching jobs, but he did it because he had very few references at the time… he’s an adjunct so not many people in the department knew him to start with, and there was some restructuring that year, so most of them had left before he did. We had no idea this is a thing.

    2. Administrator Exellente*

      I’m an admin in academia who just finished a 4 month job search (yay new job!) and I can kind of see where the applicant was coming from. As an admin you can’t really say “increased profits by 25%” or “completed x project in under y timeline” or any of the other stuff Alison encourages people to put on their cover letters because that’s not the metric an admin job is graded by. At it’s core, being an admin in Academia is about doing work for the people above you and it varies so much from day to day. It’s just the nature of the job. Sometimes the only way to prove that you’re good at being an admin is to show all the of times you went above and beyond for someone and they appreciated it (the appreciation part rarely happens, so that’s nice too). I would never have done what this person did, unless it was asked for, but I can see where he/she was coming from.

      1. addiez*

        Was coming here to say something similar – I recently finished grad school, and had an admin I worked with closely ask me for a quote/testimonial as she’d been told they were valuable in her job search. It’s a weird thing, but seems like it’s definitely a thing.

  7. Mark132*

    @LW1, this is tough, you are going to need to work with your manager to delineate exactly what your tasks are. This may help but be prepared to end up with a lot of your old tasks back, especially since you’ve been doing them for 18 months. But once this is complete other than very short term training, don’t help with your old tasks outside of short answers.

    1. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah, it seems that the replacement is being 100% honest when she says “I’ve never done that here.” It very well might not be malice, but rather her legitimately thinking that it’s one of your duties (since you always do it) and not hers (since she doesn’t). Clear the air with your boss, get a list of who does what, help teach her what she needs to know, and then stay in your own lane.

      1. EJ*

        Yeah I agree with this. I can understand her not thinking or realizing it’s part of her job when the LW has been doing it for a year and a half. LW should have trained her if need be and then stopped doing it along with the other tasks 18 months ago.

  8. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, it sounds like your replacement either hasn’t been adequately trained or has a real issue with handling new tasks (or both). I have to say, if I said, “I’ve never done that!” at any of my last 3 jobs and then literally didn’t do something, I would have likely been fired. Ignorance is not a justification for failing to complete a required job task.

    But as Alison notes, it sounds like you’ve been covering for her. So definitely stop doing that (and let your boss know you’re not doing it any more), and focus on getting your manager to manage her. If she needs training, set aside a reasonable amount of time for the transition, with a concrete set of learning goals, a fixed maximum number of hours you’re willing to put in, and a deadline for when that training will end. You don’t have to share those details with anyone, but it will help you compartmentalize how much time you’re willing to let her absorb… because right now, you doing her job and your job has to be taking more time than a transition plan would.

    1. Tardigrade*

      Yeah, this replacement really needs a wake up call, but hard agree that OP should stop covering for her. Creating some training documents might help too.

      1. Lance*

        Looping in the manager should help as well; OP’s assuming they know what’s going on, but they could very well not. After all, they have their own tasks and priorities to get done; they can’t know everything that’s going on with the people they’re supervising.

    2. Bea*

      Omg The person before me pulled “I haven’t done that” on me during my very brief training (two half days in my first six weeks). So my response was to dig deeper and find the damn answer myself.

      Anyone who responds with “I haven’t done that” better follow up with “but I’ll figure it out!” or “can you show me how?” etc. Is dead weight to say the least. It boils my blood that it hasn’t been taken care of in 18 months!

      1. Beemer*

        Tardigrade, I made *extensive* training materials, including screenshots, for this person. She just doesn’t do the stuff and instead does lots of other things she thinks are helpful but which no one has asked her to do.

      2. Beemer*

        soon 2be former fed, they have one. Our manager and I have looked at it and she points to various tasks, saying “well this isn’t hers; it’s yours”. I haven’t had an accurate job description in seven years.

  9. Crystal*

    OP #3 – I am surprised they ever agreed. That was a super sweet perk and an unusual thing. As Allison said, OP, if you’re not a vacationer, just start taking every Friday off and if you don’t have errands/naps to take check out and find a position to keep yourself busy. I’m sorry I’m sure it’s frustrating but it was an uncommon ask that most people don’t get.

  10. OperaArt*

    OP #3, depending on where you work and how your job is funded, it’s possible that the money for your PTO comes from a completely account than your salary does. At my workplace, people who continually pile up too much leave can cause projects to go over budget. All of the salary is unexpectedly coming from the project budget while the money in the PTO budget languishes unclaimed. I’ve heard of people being strongly encouraged to use their PTO to keep from causing funding trouble for colleagues.

  11. Me*

    #2 once i made the mistake of agreeing to come in when I had no voice – I was scheduled customer service which is very talking intensive – face to face, paging, over the phone. I should not have but i managed a couple hours on a register before it hurt too much to whisper. Then I did gobacks before nausea hit and i said screw it and left.

    My job was union though so compared to others, I got away with so much. Sometimes i’d get verbal pushback but no write up no nonsense no “you have to stay.” There are good retail jobs – mine was low-paying but again, union.

    1. Becky*

      At one point when I was working a phone customer service job, I lost my voice for two days. Luckily they just put me on chat support those days so I didn’t have to talk on the phone but I couldn’t afford not to work.

      1. Me*

        Well it’s more that management can’t write you up and if you’re past probation they’re not going to fire you for leaving if you’re sick. Further down, i told about missing for a dying relative who didn’t immediately followed by my sister wrecking her car. No consequences or threats AT ALL and i didn’t have a note for any of it. I also finagled the relative time into my vacation for the year so i didn’t even lose pay.

        I only saw a couple firings for those past probation and it was usually stealing and one memorable time, getting a bad high.

  12. Grunty*

    #3, I find it hard to believe you can’t find anything better to do than go to work. Just because you take time off doesn’t mean you have to travel (although that’s a great thing to do). You can run errands, practice your hobbies that you never have time for, develop new interests, meet new people. What interests you outside of work? If the answer is nothing then you need time off asap.

    Or you could try starting your own business. Or learning new skills. There’s so much more to life than going to work every day.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      Hey now, we trust letter writers to know themselves and their situation best, absent other information in the letter that suggests their scope/view might be off. Some folks really are “live to work” types who genuinely prefer less vacation time and who still have rich non-work lives. That may not be how some of us feel, but we shouldn’t chastise OP#3 for having different priorities or preferences.

      1. MakesThings*

        Sadly, these people’s attitudes make it worse for the rest of us because they set a bad example. “Living to work” is not really a healthy value, but it’s been used to exploit the workforce in the US.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Eh, people can feel how they feel, and no one is obligated to change what they derive fulfillment from in order to set a different example for others. Lots of people have jobs that make a truly positive impact in the world, and there’s no reason that can’t be a major driver in their lives just because there’s a paycheck attached.

          1. MakesThings*

            Yes- my job is also of the “dream” variety where I worked for many years with little to no pay. It’s the “nobody needs vacation days” attitude I object to. It has a toxic feel to it.

            1. Edinbugger*

              The OP clearly states that they know this is not what most people would want, and that they believe have “rare” attitude to this issue, so they are certainly not espousing a “nobody needs vacation days” attitude. I think you may be bringing a personal bugbear into a discussion where it isn’t really relevant or helpful.

          2. DataQueen*

            I’m a “live to work” person and I don’t think I’ve taken my entire vacation time once in my career. I love my job and my coworkers and I also have the flexibility to do things like doctors appointments/car repairs/dentist/amazon returns/whatever during work time, so other than actual vacations I don’t need the time off. I do recognize that not everyone is like me and my staff can take as much vacation time as they want with [seriously] no judgement, but I personally like being here. I also like not getting behind. If I take a “staycation” day, i just end up worrying that I’m missing something and check my email all day anyway. I’m also known to take the day off, then run into work in my jogging clothes to do one quick thing, yelling “I’m not here!” over my shoulder as I dash to my office.

            1. Mark132*

              I usually start wanting another vacation on my way back from my current vacation. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with your way, it’s any interesting different perspective.

            2. Grunty*

              I have a coworker like you and everyone in the office is annoyed with her.

              This attitude is not healthy. Yes, you can do whatever you want with your life but let’s be honest, most jobs are not worth it. Unless you’re a scientist or a doctor or a teacher or something similar where you’re actually contributing to the world rather than working for a private company then this way of thinking is just unhealthy. It’s no coincidence that one of the most common regrets people have on their death beds is having spent too much time at work.

              1. Colette*

                I have no idea why someone would be annoyed because a coworker doesn’t like to take vacation – it’s an individual choice.

                And there are many private companies that do important work that contribute to the world (even though they also make a profit). Even “frivolous” companies (i.e. Nintendo, Disney) are providing a product that people enjoy and that brightens peoples’ days.

                I do think it’s unhealthy – people who make their job their life struggle more when they can’t work due to layoffs, health issues, and retirement – but it’s unhealthy for the people doing it, not for their coworkers.

                1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  I do think it’s different for managers. I think managers need to model a healthy work-life balance for employees; it’s hard to expect them to take more vacation/leave earlier/take advantage of remote work flexibility/etc. if their boss doesn’t.

                2. Grunty*

                  Most jobs do bring some value to the world (some bring none or are a negative but they’re not the majority) but very few jobs are important enough that it’s reasonable for people to dedicate their whole lives to them. I like the ease of getting books for my Kindle but it’s not even close to being important enough for society. The vast majority of people with jobs are just working to help make their owners and/or shareholders richer.

                3. The Original K.*

                  I can see it if that starts to become a standard in the office – if managers use the fact that someone doesn’t use all their vacation time to shame others who DO use it all. That’s a management issue, but I could see coworkers getting frustrated with other coworkers.

                4. mark132*

                  Oh, I know why (or at least one reason why)

                  Management: Why can’t you be dedicated like “Camille”, she stays late, loses vacation every year. And answers customer questions on her cell phone after hours/before hours etc.
                  (yes my inner snark is coming out, but I’ve been here before.)

                5. Colette*

                  @Victoria Nonprofit – I agree it’s different for managers, who should either take a reasonable amount of vacation and make it clear that they expect their employees to do the same.

                  @The Original K and @Mark132 – if managers start penalizing others for taking vacation, the problem is the manager, not the coworker who is choosing to work.

                6. Colette*

                  @Grunty – I agree that there are few jobs worth dedicating your whole life to, but I don’t think that’s a decision I could make for someone else.

                  And working in a moderately useful job is as beneficial to society (or more) than spending a week watching TV doing some other passive activity. Having the time off is probably better to the employee, but that’s her choice to make.

                7. Observer*

                  I hate to say it, but most managers who say things like “Why aren’t you as dedicated as Jane who hasn’t taken a vacation in 3 years” are going to give you a hard time even if Jane drops dead of a heart attack and her doctor tells the manager that it was because of said vacation. And, they definitely want that kind of “dedication” whether or not there is a Jane in the office. They just find a different way to word it.

                  If you want some examples, this site is FULL of stories where unreasonable managers make these kinds of demands and / or punish people who actually have the temerity to take their vacation, and there is no evidence of a “Jane” in sight.

                8. JM60*

                  “And there are many private companies that do important work that contribute to the world”

                  I think this highlights a huge psychological disconnect between the minority of people who enjoy working, and most people. Just because some work contributes to the world doesn’t mean it’s enjoyable to do. To me, the impact some work has on world has little or no effect on how much I enjoy/hate doing that work. Digging a hole in the dessert would be a very miserable task for me to carry out because it’s a boring and tiring task. If there happens to be a reason why digging a hole in the dessert would greatly contribute to the good of society, that wouldn’t make that task any less miserable to perform.

                  And really, almost every job contributes to the world. There are some exceptions to this (like making a career out of filing frivolous lawsuits), but in general, if some task didn’t contribute to the world, it’s unlikely that you could get someone to pay you for it.

                  “but it’s unhealthy for the people doing it, not for their coworkers.”

                  As others have noted, this often isn’t true in practice because people don’t live in disconnected bubbles. The more people who “live to work”, the more likely society is to end up like America instead of northern Europe when it comes to time off of work, with very little time off.

              2. Dragoning*

                This is incredibly judgmental about people’s careers, and it doesn’t matter what people find fulfillment in for a paycheck anymore than it matters what people find fulfillment in on their time off.

                I manage to actually like my job and covet my time off, but I can also see the OP’s point. I have a month-long furlough coming up next year, and I have no idea what to do with myself for an entire month off. Go on vacation? I can’t afford that on furlough, and some people wouldn’t want to.

              3. Karlee*

                @Grunty – Some people really enjoy their work, even if it doesn’t change the world. People are different and that’s a wonderful thing. I like work – and my PTO. But I get 6 weeks a year on top of holidays and it’s just too much. I can’t do my job well and be out that much and I LOVE doing my job well. As for the “regrets from the deathbed” – that’s an assumption. No-one has actually tracked people’s dying regrets so we assume the most common regret is “too much time at work”. It may be that people regret not applying themselves harder, not achieving more, not making more money. Who knows? The point is that one person’s regret might be another person’s joy.

                1. JM60*

                  “No-one has actually tracked people’s dying regrets”

                  A quick Google search reveals that that’s not true. I quickly found the following article, in which an Australian palliative nurse listed “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard” as the number 2 regret, adding, “All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”


                  Of course, this isn’t a scientific study, as it’s only what one palliative nurse reports as the regrets she hears the most from patients. However, it is interesting information from someone in position to hear people’s deathbed regrets.

            1. Karlee*

              Oh dear. This was in response to Alison’s reply – not the suggestion that the letter writer should change.

        2. Tuxedo Cat*

          It’s more of a problem with the system. I’d have issue if the letter writer thought everyone should live that way, but they don’t seem to think that.

          Personal choices shouldn’t affect the greater system when you’re downstream, like a colleague who didn’t use all her maternity leave. If it set some precedent that others shouldn’t use all their maternity leave, I don’t think it’s fair to blame my colleague. It’s really not on the letter writer to change people’s attitudes.

          1. Grunty*

            The problem is also that employers get used to having people like OP and it becomes an expectation and something employers might value.

            1. serenity*

              That’s…your problem. And not something relevant to the OP, the letter, or this discussion. And, to be frank, you’re being a bit judgmental.

                1. MakesThings*

                  I agree completely. It’s a problem to all of us who don’t like the toxic attitude of “work yourself to death like a horse or you’re not a useful person to society”.
                  This doesn’t even begin to touch the fact that many of us work hard AND THEREFORE need a lot of time off to recharge because work eats our spoons.

                  There’s also an incredibly self-righteous comment somewhere upthread about “spending a week watching TV doing some other passive activity”, as if we need to fill each second of each day with usefulness, or we’re useless people if we don’t.

                  This is the toxic attitude I want to fight.

    2. Susan K*

      In many jobs (especially salaried office jobs), taking time off comes with its own set of problems. It’s unlikely the employer is going to bring in a temp to do an employee’s job for the time she’s on vacation. Instead, the other employees will have to cover the most essential responsibilities, and the rest will be waiting for the employee when she returns from vacation. That means more work before vacation to brief coworkers on what they need to do to cover the essential responsibilities, and more work after vacation to catch up on the rest. I can understand someone feeling that it’s not worth the hassle to go through that more than a couple of times per year. If you’re faced with use it or lose it, though, talong one day at a time can give the benefits of getting some time off without the hassle of having to prepare for/catch up from a whole week off.

      1. boop the first*

        Personally I would LOVE to take a ton of vacation time. And my distant family is always ragging on me to take time off to come watch tv with them, and I am so resistant. I’m so easily stressed, with a guilt complex, and the last time I tried to book off a vacation, I got passed from manager to manager. None of them were willing to commit to giving me the time off. We were understaffed and my leaving would be somewhat disastrous. I needed to buy travel tickets. For two months I worried and worried, and right up to the last few weeks I found out that nobody bothered to schedule my vacation time after I’d asked every week if plans to fill my shifts were going okay. “Yup!” they’d said.
        I’m at a new job that’s even worse when it comes to staffing so I’ve been telling everyone that I’m not entitled to any vacation time. I’m not even going to try. It’s not worth it.

        1. mark132*

          Do you have coworkers in your current job who take vacations? If so you might want to found out how they work with management to schedule time off and do the same thing?

      2. Yvette*

        “…the rest will be waiting for the employee when she returns from vacation.” This, so much this. My husband, who has the type of job where everything is handled immediately could never understand why I hate to take a day off. I have projects and deadlines. True emergencies would be handled, but for the most part any current work, and anything that cropped up during the day, piles up in my absence, waiting for me. If he is out, everything is taken care of while he is gone.

        1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          My husband is one of the hardest workers at his warehouse and they HATE when he takes time off. My husband’s attitude is Tough Sh!t! It’s not his problem if they refuse to fire the slackers & dead weight and depend entirely on the two or three dependable workers to keep the place running smoothly. They’ve tried to call him in to work on his vacation and he just doesn’t answer the phone.
          He’s happy to put in overtime (love that time and a half/double time), do any work they assign him to do, volunteer to work extra (paid) weekend days, etc but he refuses to suffer for their poor management decisions.

      3. aebhel*

        Yeah, I don’t get coverage; my work just piles up when I’m off, so I’m spending the rest of the month scrambling to catch up.

        1. Happy Lurker*

          This! It takes just about 3 weeks to see over the piles left behind on my desk.
          It’s not right, but it is reality.

    3. BRR*

      I imagine it’s more “I don’t mind only taking two weeks off and would rather have the money than another week or two off” than “I’m living to work.” I know I would trade a week of my vacation time for the right amount. But i think in many places that’s just not going to happen. From what it sounds like, the LW’s workplace is like this.

      1. Tuxedo Cat*

        For myself, when I had a salaried position and my workplace had this policy, money was better for so many reasons for me than time off. I was also lucky in that I had a very flexible schedule so I could fit in things people might take off for, like appointments or volunteering.

    4. CTT*

      Meanwhile, there are those of us who find being constantly told that we should find a hobby stressful, get errands run on the weekends or during lunch breaks, and meet new people after work. There are people who would rather have time off to do those things and then people who are somewhere in between. How people manage their lives and recharge is very unique to each person. We shouldn’t judge people for how much or how little time they choose to take off.

        1. Autumnheart*

          Grunty has a point, though. Not in the “You’re making it harder for everyone else!” kind of way, but identifying too strongly with your job can really do a number on your head if you get laid off and spend a lot of time unemployed, are forced to change careers, or retire. It’s the same issue when people invest all their social interaction with their partner, and then go off the rails after a split or the death of the partner, or parents who get too wrapped up in their kids, and so forth. It really IS a benefit to one’s mental health to have more than one outlet for your fulfillment, more than one thing you can call a passion, because diversifying your interests lets you respond to change more easily.

          It doesn’t mean “Now you HAVE to book that beach vacation whether you like it or not,” but it can easily mean “Take the aspects that you like about your job, and see where else you can engage in something similar”.

          1. CTT*

            I see that, but I’m interpreting your comment as saying the only way to have fulfillment outside of work is to take time off (and if I’ve misinterpreted that, apologies!). I have plenty of things I love to do outside of work, but taking time off for them wouldn’t change much. Like, I love soccer, looooove it. If we’re going to talk unhealthy investments, I cried tears of joy when France won the World Cup (and tears of anger when the US didn’t make it in). But most of the European teams play on the weekends and MLS games are in the evening. I have a local team I love (its games also usually after 7) and I hope to get involved with its board, but those meetings are usually after work. Short of flying to England to see my favorite team play, taking time off isn’t going to give me more time to devote to soccer. Some passions just don’t lend themselves to “you should use your PTO to have a few days to focus your energy on this other interest.”

    5. epi*

      This is kind of a rude response.

      Some people get separate sick leave and holidays, and have enough flexibility that they really do not need their PTO for anything but vacations basically. Others wisely bank some in case of emergencies, then can’t or don’t want to take it during the window when they need to use or lose it. Without knowing how much time off we’re talking about or the demands on the OP’s personal time, it’s impossible to say. Also, some people just really like their jobs.

      I used to work somewhere that let you cash out PTO a couple of times a year, or apply it to a computer employee purchase program. It was a really nice perk. My managers used it because they were earning the maximum amount of PTO and didn’t need it all to take a couple of good trips a year, or want to be away from the department that much. I used it when I knew it was my last year at that job, to buy a computer for grad school and save some extra cash. It was a really good choice for me and was not because I had nothing better to do– although since I worked at a children’s hospital, there wouldn’t be anything embarrassing about that anyway.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It started out as a bit rude and judgmental, but it’s now become pedantic.

    6. smoke tree*

      The LW didn’t say she didn’t want any vacation at all, just that two weeks a year was enough for her. Some people really like having a structured schedule and don’t really enjoy tons of free time all at once. She might find that just taking a lot of long weekends would be a better option.

    7. Barbara Lander*

      I have a friend who had accumulated so much time off that she stopped accruing it. She wound up taking it in Fridays and simply completed her work in four days each week. I thought that her employer was quite fortunate that she was willing to do it that way. She took day trips in and near our city, saw lots of movies and fixed up her apartment. Quite enjoyable.

  13. Detective Amy Santiago*

    LW#2 – sadly, this is not uncommon in retail and it would probably be best for you to look for another position.

    That being said, if you are working for a large chain, it might be worth reporting at least the fainting incident to the corporate office. I would think it would be a safety issue to have someone working the floor who has passed out because it would open them up to a worker’s comp claim if it happened again and they refused to let you seek treatment the first time.

  14. Phil*

    Ah retail. Two fond memories from my time served:
    1. Waking up on one of those glorious days where I had neither work nor uni, to find a series of text messages from the store manager asking me to cover for her because she was waiting at the bus stop and forgot her umbrella and was completely soaked. Even if I was a complete doormat who would say yes to such a ridiculous request, I reminded her that I was already over the max hours my award allowed me to work, and I also had some plans I couldn’t get out of (like laying in bed watching TV).
    2. When the area admin approved a few days off for me to attend my sister’s wedding (ie, something I asked, and had approved, months in advance), and then, when she couldn’t find anyone to work those days a fortnight before, told me I would need to find my own cover for those and if I couldn’t, then I’d have to work them. I don’t know what she would have done if I had quit, which I was certainly prepared to do rather than miss such an important event, but fortunately the area manager had my back and spoke to the admin, who was suddenly a LOT more friendlier the next time she had to call. And miraculously found someone to work the shifts shortly thereafter.

  15. Assistant (to the) regional manager*

    Op1, you need to stand your ground, your coworker should by now have learned how to do their job.

    1. The Original K.*

      I was struck by the fact that it’s been 18 months! That’s plenty of time to get up to speed. Nip this in the bud, OP1.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        After 18 months, the OP is going to have dig out the roots.

        Seriously, schedule time with person, retrain, then send out an email to the people that are being told that she has never done this saying “As of X Date, please contact Jane for the TPS reports, as I have transitioned the function”

        And then be done with it.

  16. Pam.*


    Check your campus for jobs. Retail, food service, office work- all of those can be available, with the bonus that campus employers understand your real goal, and generally can’t/won’t let the job interfere.

    1. Jen*

      There are also sometimes on campus jobs that are a lot of fun (like tour guide or event staff) or let you sit and study (like those sign in desk jobs at the library). I also could find a lot of last second shift pick up, like waiting or serving food. If you are looking for pocket change, there were also psych or business studies that would pay.

      I was pretty broke in college and managed to find lots of little sources of income to pay for books and food.

      1. LeahS*

        Yes, I worked at the front desk of my dorm my freshman year of college and loved that job so much :-). I did not qualify for work study, but that was one of the few jobs open to anyone. I also nannied/babysat. That job was great as well- I worked for a service and made pretty good money while also getting to stay in some incredible houses. It was entirely flexible and up to me whether or not I was available to work.

    2. The Original K.*

      I had a work-study job in college in a library and my boss there was great and very flexible, because as she put it, “I know your primary job is to go to school.” I’d have kept that job all four years if I hadn’t gotten a research assistant job in my department (which was also pretty flexible). One of the most popular jobs was sitting at the dorm security desks and swiping IDs (that job probably doesn’t exist anymore) because it was by definition not very busy and you could get a lot of work done. Even if it WAS busy, it was busy for only a few minutes at a time.

      I was a psych major and I was always telling my friends about this or that study that paid, which they appreciated – it was grocery money for the week. I had a few friends who did medical testing studies which paid better but had a bit more risk involved.

    3. Butter Makes Things Better*

      Yes to this — our campus dining hall was very accommodating and certainly didn’t want people who were sick working. I’ve also worked a lot of off-campus food service jobs in my life (coffee shop, vegetarian resto, large chain fast food), and all of them were respectful of employees and their health. So look for another retail position, OP! Your crap bosses want you to feel trapped and without options, but that’s definitely not the case.

      Btw, OP’s story reminds me of an old comic where Too Much Coffee Man was asked if he would rather work retail or have a nail driven through his hand, and he said, “How long is the nail?”

    4. WellRed*

      At many campuses, though, you have to be awarded work study as part if your financial aid. I bet lots of local employers look to the university for workers. Try the career center or the bulletin boards.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        My campus had work study jobs and jobs that were open to anybody. I’d be surprised if a decent-sized campus only had work study jobs available.

        1. Kelly L.*

          Yep, I never got a work-study job (there were comparatively few of them, and a lot of competition), but I worked campus jobs for years. Dining hall type stuff.

      2. Bowl of Oranges*

        OP can also look for campus related things that aren’t technically “on campus” if that’s the case. I worked at a university bookstore in college that wasn’t the official campus bookstore, so it didn’t have any of the requirements of “on campus” jobs.

        It paid just barely above minimum wage, but I got to borrow used textbooks for free all semester and got a discount on new books. Since it it was mostly students working there, they were great about working around schedules, including exams.

    5. Baby Fishmouth*

      +1 ! I worked parking services in university and it was the best job I could ask for – 3 hour shifts scheduled around classes (and since it was on campus, I only needed to leave 5-10 minute gaps between work and class). I also never worked evenings or weekends, and half my job was manning the campus info kiosk, which allowed me a lot of downtime to complete schoolwork. If possible, campus jobs are the way to go!

    6. epi*

      The OP should definitely do this if they are a college student. Campus jobs are better in every way, even if it’s not obvious from the specific job posting. The work is definitely no worse than off campus retail or food service, and is often better. You meet legitimate professional contacts for your future (my experience was that they took their role as “student’s first career track boss” pretty seriously and were even mentors if we really clicked). You can’t beat them for flexibility around school, including studying or going home when it’s slow depending on the job. You can sometimes use the experience or connection for class projects. And in my experience, the pay was better.

      If the OP is in high school, they should not be afraid to leave over this. Retail jobs can be great or the worst. But if you have a bad manager, it won’t get better on its own. I put up with some crap retail jobs in my day, thinking people would care about my short tenure of I quit. They never did.

      Retail is also not the only option– tipped food service can pay way better. My barista friends seemed to like their jobs the most. Some places will hire students as receptionists. And never count out babysitting, cleaning, or tutoring.

  17. Jess*

    #5 – it’s a strange thing for the applicant to do, but I think I can sympathise with the impulse. It can be really difficult in admin roles to quantify your achievements in the role – if you’re not lucky enough to have things like reporting requirements or processes that you can demonstrate you improved to save time/money, a LOT of KPIs boil down to “keep my managers/co-workers productive and clients happy”. I can see how, in the absence of any other way to demonstrate this, they’d dip into the folder of “you’re awesome!” emails and present them verbatim as evidence instead of putting in something like “consistently positive feedback from mangers and stakeholders” as a point in their resume.

    1. Administrator Exellente*

      Yes, exactly! Admin’s don’t really have clear objectives other than “get all of this work done” and then “here’s some more work,” and that’s really hard to show on a resume/cover letter without just saying “did all my work good”

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      For anyone struggling with this:

        1. Yvette*

          You don’t have too!! Except for the first one, they are all posted in the Resumes section under Topics and Categories. (the first one is in Salary and Work Habits)

  18. MK*

    OP3, I get your disappointment, but I don’t get why this seems off to you. You value money more than time off; ok, but apparently your employer doesn’t value your presence in the office more than the money. That’s what “it’s not in the budget” basically means, “we don’t want to pay for this”. Well run companies take PTO into account when structuring their workload and compensation; it’s not an automatic benefit to them when you work more. They let you do this in the past, but it’s very possible they figured out your working more days isn’t worth the bonus money to them. Or they were ok doing it once or twice, but they figured it was going to be a regular thing and they are not willing to accept this. (And that valid: if you do this every year, you are essentially changing the terms of your compensation, less PTO, more salary, they don’t have to agree to renegotiate)

    If possible, have you considered working somewhere else during your vacations? Or taking up freelance work to do in all these three-day weekends?

  19. MakesThings*

    I think the new hire was not told what her job duties are! It may have seemed obvious to you, but was it actually spelled out for her? Was she given a job description and a list of tasks? She may be reacting defensively because she has people trying to get her to do tasks which you have always done, and no one said are her responsibility!

    1. BookishMiss*

      She could also be like the new hire I sat with for a week and provided thorough documentation, who then claimed she hadn’t been trained and could I please help.

      Thankfully, I had the capital to burn, and said basically “please only use me as a resource of last resort.”

      1. kitryan*

        Yup. I quit a job I’d been doing for 5 years and worked about an extra week (paid!) to train my replacement. I knew it wasn’t going to go great from the get go but I did my best to get him set up to succeed. Then, about 3 months in, my old boss calls. New guy completely forgot that the second team of workers also needed to be tracked on the staffing sheet (they started a month after the first) and now the tracking was 2 months behind. Boss paid me to come in for a couple of days to fill in the missing data and review the past 3 months.
        Because my old boss was a smart and fair guy and had known me for 5 years he knew I had covered all of this in the earlier training *and* did not try to get me to train or fix things for free.
        Anyway, some people will ‘forget’ what they’ve been taught and that’s not the OP’s fault, but they should diplomatically make sure that everyone’s on the same page (new hire & supervisors) so they can focus on their new responsibilities.

      2. ChachkisGalore*

        At the same time… After being in a role for awhile, particularly one where you have excelled and expanded your responsibilities over a period of time, it can be hard to remember what it’s like to be back at day 1 without that couple years of experience allowing you take on those new responsibilities.

        I had someone sit with me for two weeks and claim she fully and effectively trained me. She took on the role with no specialized experience doing A, B, and C, then expanded her responsibilities to include specialized stuff x, y, and z over the course of three years. I came into the role with no specialized experience, but she expected me to be doing everything she was doing at three year mark (including specialized stuff x, y and z) within two weeks. It was completely unrealistic. If that’s what they wanted they should have hired someone with some basic specialized experience. I begged them to just slow down a bit, let me get a good grasp on a, b and c then move on to x, y and z (just like my trainer had the opportunity to do and how I was told my transition into the he role would go), and even though our boss did tell us to do that, she (my trainer) couldn’t get over the fact that she had “already trained [me] on this stuff” and just told me to check my notes.

        Of course there bad new hires who are lazy and ill suited to the role at hand, but there’s also a lot of people who are objectively bad trainers (and it can particularly tricky when transitioning out of a role where you expanded the responsibilities – at least if that wasn’t fully taken into account when hiring for the role).

        1. BookishMiss*

          Yeah, I totally see that perspective, and I’ve been in the trainee’s shoes. In my case, it was literally “here is a list of set in stone deadlines. If this is on your task list, call the phone number here and request the report. Make a note and check again tomorrow.” Plus “here is a step by step how to guide assuming zero experience with screenshots and scripts,” so I did everything I could for her. She was a nepotism hire, so I’m pretty sure she was never expected to actually do any work.

  20. Anoushka*

    This is, unfortunately, a toxic retail job. I’ve never had these types of issues in my professional jobs, but in university retail jobs I often had the same issues you’re having.

    When I was 20 I worked at a grocery store, and one day I fainted at the till. While I was unconscious, my supervisor came over and pulled my swipe-in/swipe-out card from my uniform and signed me out so she didn’t have to pay me a cent more than she had to. Twenty cents was more important than checking to see if I was alive. When I came to I began to throw up, and yelled out for someone to bring me to a garbage can because I couldn’t see. She left me on the floor and continued to do her accounts.

    If it’s any comfort, this has never happened to me outside of retail. In my experience, the people who were weird about sickness were mostly bitter middle-aged women who’d been at a retail job for 20 years and hated the young staff members. (Probably because they knew they were going places – it might be why she’s threatened your university courses.)

    If this job is just a casual thing for pocket money, I’d look around for a different job. There are retail places that aren’t like this. Don’t work for somebody who’s threatening your education.

    1. Not Australian*

      It can happen in hospitality, too. I was a cleaner with a live-in hotel job some years ago and the manager came and banged on my door when I had a migraine to get me out of bed and working. He was very apologetic about it, to be fair, but it shows how little spare capacity there is available in these places; there is literally nobody available to cover, and the job still has to be done. [NB: this doesn’t make it right, of course.]

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        There’s so little capacity because the people making the staffing decisions decided it should be that way. If you’re a manager and no one’s available to cover, you don’t pull this abusive crap; you cover yourself. (Or let the work go undone, if it isn’t life or death.)

    2. Snark*

      “While I was unconscious, my supervisor came over and pulled my swipe-in/swipe-out card from my uniform and signed me out so she didn’t have to pay me a cent more than she had to.”

      What the actual fuck.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        Seriously. I hope you quit 20 seconds after you were able to see, Anoushka. That’s just inhuman.

  21. Nea*

    OP #2 x In addition to amplifying all the people saying “quit retail and find another job” – you’ll never be in a better position to job hop than while in school – I want to point out that your manager is exploiting a huge misperception about work.

    They are not “helping you out.” They are relying on your labor (and inexperience). You are not “helping them out.” You are performing tasks in return for financial compensation and experience. Don’t let them recast this retail job as any kind of a favor on either part. It’s a business arrangement that is not working for you, so it’s time to seek another arrangement elsewhere. Sounds to me like your current boss is trying subtle emotional manipulation to get you to agree to physically abusive working conditions. It happens outside retail too – I could tell horror stories – but the cold hard truth is, if they don’t treat you right, walk… and ignore the lie that will be thrown after you that they ever, ever “helped you out” so you owe them your health.

    1. Indie*

      “If you dont help us out, why should we help you out”
      TRANSLATED: “If you don’t let us exploit you, we’ll do it anyway!”

  22. Eve*

    I once had an applicant for a bookkeeper position email me a power point similar to #5. It had thank you notes stapled to a piece of paper, scanned and inserted. She had also sprinkled glitter on it for several slides. It also had a slide of personal hobbies and a slide of a thank you note to me (not personal, generic thank you for interviewing her).

    It did influence my opinion of this candidate enough to take her out of the pool because she wrote in her email this was to showcase her PowerPoint skills. She had mentioned several times how great she was at PowerPoint and was told each time we don’t have a need for it.

    1. Birch*

      ….wait, this person stapled thank-you notes to a piece of paper, sprinkled glitter on it and put that whole thing into a scanner, then inserted that file into a Powerpoint?! Please tell me the scan was in black and white so you couldn’t even see the glitter color. Also, I would throw a conniption if someone got glitter all over the scanner.

        1. Eve*

          Again, for a bookkeeping position after being specifically told we had no need for that. Completely disconnected from our needs.

  23. RetailManager*

    Can we please stop bashing retail jobs and retail managers. Most of us work hard and try to do the best we can with scheduling. Today, for instance, I have to work to closing because one of my cashiers quit without notice and since tomorrow is the 1st day of school our HS can’t work.
    For many of us working in retail is our real job and we find it satisfying. All occupations have good and bad and retail is no exception but to say it’s just a retail job is insulting.

    1. Laura H.*

      Agreed on the bashing perception.

      I have great management at my pt retail job who were super understanding when I got the flu after Christmas last year- and was out for nearly 2 weeks and to lump them all in a general category of ‘lousy boss because retail amirite?’ by default kinda ruffles me a little bit.

      Good luck with your coverage stuff, Retail Manager. That’s probably not a fun position to be in.

    2. Four Lights*

      I’ll second this. I’ve worked several retail jobs, and my managers were decent people who would have had no problem with this person going home sick.

    3. Washi*

      Some of these comments are a little bash-y of management, but I think most of the commenters are really bashing the system, where a combination of corporate culture, incentives to cut costs, and chronic understaffing basically set up situations like the one above to happen. It can happen in any job where part of your role is to be physically present at certain times, like a receptionist or teacher, but my impression is that in a lot of retail, there is a more systematic effort to keep people at part time and not give benefits or consistent hours as a cost-cutting measure, and that just sets up everyone to fail.

      1. Lucille2*

        Retail jobs are what kept me fed for many years while I completed my education and worked my way into a longterm career path. As difficult as those times were, I owe a lot of where I am today to the jobs that help me get here.

        I believe while a lot of the issues are systematic, these environments tend to have more than their fair share of bad managers. Staffing in customer service is typically sufficient enough to cover typical customer traffic, but not cover employee needs to take time off. And since there will always be at least one employee who calls out sick when they’re not actually sick, policies are often skewed towards punishing of employees who need unplanned time off. I can’t tell you how many times I had to show up to work sick because I couldn’t find someone to cover my shift and I couldn’t risk losing my job. But I will say I have had managers who will accommodate good employees and go against their company’s strict policies because it’s the right thing to do.

      2. Autumnheart*

        Well, commenters are also bashing their ex-managers for engaging in egregious acts of maltreatment that they experienced. To me, there’s a world of difference between, “I wish I could staff the floor with 12 people, but the budgeting constraints I’m given from corporate limits me to 9,” and “Passing out at work isn’t a good enough reason not to finish out the day”.

      3. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yes. Any system built on cost-cutting, chronic understaffing, and vast inequality is going to lead to this kind of abuse, and it’s apt to end up rewarding scummy managers who cut as many corners as they can, as pointed out above.

        Individual managers can be decent people and try to push back against it, but a bad company is likely to drive out the decent managers. Systemic problems need systemic solutions: nationwide, strictly and proactively enforced labor laws that include mandatory sick leave for all workers.

    4. Plant_Mama*

      Agreed. Not all retail jobs are horrible places that don’t care. I get 3 weeks vacation and 2 weeks of sick time. I realize I’m the outlier but there’s definitely GOOD retail companies out there.

    5. Me*

      It’s hard to balance the knowledge that you’ve got corporate breathing down your necks when you’re not transparent about it. It can come across as a personal attack if you’re not careful. Especially in an environment where managers aren’t on the floor and you only see them when things are getting crazy.

      My mom’s current retail job – she has great store management and terrible upper management (the company is known for spending as little as possible on labor). They frequently have 2 employees working and sometimes just the manager!

      I have a friend getting his mba who worked hr at another location so I get it. I know the logistics! I know the constraints! But that doesn’t excuse the clear pattern we’re seeing in this thread. Yes, I had good managers. Yes, those same managers yelled at me for refusing to serve my stalker and for calling in after a car wreck.

      I think the bashing comes from venting as well as frustration from the perception that the job doesn’t matter, you can be replaced in a minute, it’s all kids working, etc. Society and disrespectful customers tell you the job is dumb so your interaction with management is colored by this perception.

      All that being said if i have to go back to retail i’d ONLY go back to my old company – union.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        No amount of logistics constraints excuse yelling at someone for refusing to serve their stalker or calling in after a car wreck. I’m so sorry those things happened to you.

      2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        That is horrible and I’m so sorry your manager did that. The retail managers I’ve had would have called security and had the guy thrown out (and so would I when I was management.)

        Once when I was working retail on a busy summer weekend, some random drunk guy at the mall with his friends saw me standing at the cash wrap in my store (he was OUTSIDE the store) and started hollering all kinds of crazy shit at me (I had never seen him before in my life, apparently he found tall women with turquoise hair offensive in some way.) Before my jaw could even finish dropping to the floor, my manager had whisked me into the stockroom & had security on their way to toss the guy out of the mall (I believe he was banned for some time.)
        THAT’S how a good manager acts!

        1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          I want to add that at the time this happened, I was in my early 30s, my manager in her mid/late 20s (and one of the best managers I’ve EVER had), and the drunk an adult man who looked to be anywhere from mid 30s-mid 40s. It was just such a bizarre thing all around!

    6. Me*

      Here’s a story where I 100% understand where the manager was coming from but it was still like “yo what the hell i quit” ringing in my head.

      2 hours before my 8 hr shift on a Sunday my sister and I get a call – Grandma is dying we need to get there. We’re in East TN, she’s in NM. We go – I sort of ask, sort of say “this is what’s happening.” Monday or Tuesday, I call and get this week as my vacation week so I don’t miss any pay. I also swear up and down I’ll be back by Sunday and I am. About 2 hours before that shift is due to start, my sister totals her truck just up the hill from our place. She’s hysterical and won’t rely on her friends for all the help she needs so I call in. “You’re getting be unreliable.” “THIS IS MY SISTER! There was a kid in the other car!!” (He was fine for not being in a child seat)

      That response was totally valid! However, at no point in these misadventures was I asked for documentation, nor was I written up. Hey – my grandmother didn’t even die. I mean we were told she was and we were in NM, but she didn’t. And I picked up another shift the week of the wreck so I didn’t lose any pay.

    7. Could be Anyone*

      We should also factor in how hard to manage many (not all!) retail workers can be. A lot of people working retail are doing it for pocket money or are still in school and simply don’t have work ethic figured out yet. I specifically remember working retail in high school and calling out sick to go to a concert with my friends, or being in tears when I had to miss a party because I had to work. I needed the money, but when you’re 16 your priorities are different.

      1. Observer*

        If they paid better and treated people better, including – maybe ESPECIALLY – reasonable schedules, they might be able to hold on to more higher quality staff.

        And, in any workplace, it’s on management to know the difference between the staff that are likely to just call out on a whim / excuse and the ones that are not. The bad managers being described don’t make the effort to do that. And, some of what is being described goes way beyond that. So, while I’m not going to bash retail, please let’s not make excuses for inexcusable behavior.

        1. Ja'am*

          Yes, more than not it starts from the top. Why should we expect that people work hard for an employer that treats them like crap and doesn’t care about them? Pays minimum wage (remember, min wage means that they’d pay you less if they could), gives you crappy hours, cares more about coverage than your health, etc.

          And not every retail worker is a young person who doesn’t understand professional norms. A lot of people take retail jobs because they need to live (money) and don’t have much of a choice. These are not excuses to treat your staff so poorly. This treatment is what leads to high turnover, not the other way around.

        2. Gazebo Slayer*

          “please let’s not make excuses for inexcusable behavior”


          (same for Ja’am’s “Why should we expect that people work hard for an employer that treats them like crap and doesn’t care about them?”)

    8. CopperBoom*

      Agreed. I worked retail for 4 years, post-college, while freelancing. I met some of my favorite people while working there, and also learned so many skills as a manager that I would never have gotten outside of retail. Even though I’m not in retail as a career, it was hugely influential on my own work ethic and management skills. The right circumstances can be a joy, and helpful in navigating the world outside of retail/customer service.

    9. Courageous cat*

      Yes. Plus, retail managers frequently get a lot of extremely young and inexperienced workers due to the nature of the job, many of whom DO lie about things like being sick, and as a result it tends to feed into an atmosphere of distrust.

      1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

        That’s when you deal with that particular employees chronic absenteeism, rather than assuming that everyone calling out sick is a liar.

  24. Birch*

    #3, you may not believe you need or want time off, and if you were saying you don’t have enough hours to make a living wage, my tone would be much more sympathetic. But it’s a fact that productivity is best when people have enough time off, and it doesn’t matter if you believe that’s true for you or not. It just is. Rather than complaining about something most people in the world wish they had more of, why don’t you get a hobby or donate your time where it’s useful.

    #5, this is a huge problem not only for the reasons given, but also because those were private emails shared without the consent of the sender. That’s why people ask for recommendation letters intended to be read by a third party.

    1. Yojo*

      Seriously? People are individuals.

      It is absolutely absurd to make blanket statements like accusing the OP of being unknowingly unproductive because of a lack of interest in vacation time. That is not a “fact.”

      And just FYI, telling people “get a hobby” is going to come across super rude.

        1. Specialk9*

          I’m not sure you understand systematic, multi-millennia oppression of half of the population. Unless you just meant “things that are unpleasant, from hangnails to genocide”.

  25. The Doctor*

    LW #1… Let’s rewrite your letter:

    “I recently got promoted, and now my replacement has conned me into doing my old job (i.e. her job) as well as my own.”

    The simple solution is to just stop doing her job. Just stop. Ignore those tasks. Act surprised that she hasn’t done them. (There is no need to give her any notice of this because she is already getting paid to do that job.)

    Yes, she might cry foul. She might even try to say that you established a “past practice” of doing her job and therefore cannot stop now. You must hold firm.

    1. Specialk9*

      But OP trained her and kept secretly doing the old job for a year and half! I think there’s a real good chance that the new hire has no clue that they should be doing all these tasks.

    2. Courageous cat*

      In theory it should be this black and white, maybe, but in practice it’s going to be harder because OP went along with this for such a long time. It’s going to be tricky to transition out of without a lot of “well why didn’t you tell me this sooner if I was supposed to be doing it?”

  26. Doctor Schmoctor*

    #2 Your boss is just a horrible person. Please look for another job, and don’t for a moment feel guilty about it. Your boss is evil.

  27. BeenThere*

    Check into whether your company allows for leave donation. You could donate any time off to a co-worker who has health issues and needs the time off but has run out of paid leave. If they don’t have it, perhaps you could suggest it.

    1. Butter Makes Things Better*

      This is a great idea! And it can be combined with other suggestions so that some of the time is donated to a coworker in need, and some of it to daytime volunteering or another job or taking up a hobby. I hope OP considers this one.

    2. Wendy Ann*

      But the LW says they value the extra money more than the time off. Giving the time away still won’t get them the money they want.

    3. Karlee*

      My organization does this and there’s a huge bank. If someone has a personal crisis – medical, family, whatever, they can apply for PTO from the bank after they’ve used up their PTO and taken one week without pay. It’s been a lifeline for people with family crisis where short term disability doesn’t apply.

  28. The Other Dawn*

    OP 1: The correct response to, “I’ve never done that!” (IMO) is, “Oh, let me show you how to do that since it’s part of your job!” Or just, “Oh, let me show you how to do that!” Eighteen months is a long time. She shouldn’t still be saying that after all this time, unless it’s some task that gets done very seldom and it just hasn’t popped up yet.

    But yeah, talk to your manager, because she either isn’t clear on her job responsibilities, or she’s shirking her duties.

    1. Essess*

      Each time someone is sent to you to do your OLD job, write an email to the person that is supposed to do it and cc: your boss that [Person A] came to you because they were refused assistance and that you are reminding the new person that this duty is part of their role. And attach documentation about how to do the duty so that they can’t claim they don’t know how to do it next time.

      1. Antilles*

        That seems a bit overly aggressive for now. OP has not even attempted to talk this out with the co-worker, jumping to emails CC’ing the boss and “refused assistance” is going to come off as overly harsh – not just to the co-worker, but probably to the boss as well, who’ll see this and be like “wait, what the heck? where’s this coming from?”. If nothing else, OP can’t do this until after talking to the boss about this and making sure the boss is clearly in accordance that this stuff isn’t OP’s job and new person should be handling it.
        Especially given OP’s description of the boss as a “whole different nightmare”, I think that OP needs a couple intermediate steps before getting to the “written email” stage.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I like Dawn’s approach – and also refer anyone who comes to you, back to co-worker. They are coming to you because you’re doing the job, so they have no incentive to put pressure on the new person, or involve the boss.
      If it is others coming to you and saying that she is telling them she hasn’t done it, doesn’t know how, then consider going direct to her at that point , with the person who is making the request, and say “[Name] just told me you sent her to me to do x because you hadn’t done it. We did cover it when I handed over, but ‘ll walk you through ti once more, so you can do it in future”. Then do that – don’t do it for her, take her step by step through how she needs to do it (or direct her to the relevant section of the handover notes, if applicable)
      Or saying to the person coming to you “h , we did cover that. Tell her to look in the handover notes I left for her, its all in there”
      If you *didn’t* do handover notes when she took over, maybe you could set aside some time to go through with her what she needs to do, and let her make notes.

      1. Betty Boop*

        I think what is making this situation more unusual is that it’s been almost two years! What! If the LW has been doing the work for the old position for almost two years then of course the replacement is saying that’s “not part of my job.” I mean two years is way past the time that someone usually learns their role. It’s time to talk with the manager and say hey I’m still doing x and y but that is not my job anymore and I’m going to stop doing it because replacement should be doing it. If you haven’t trained your replacement on it then it might be nice to provide documentation and a training however don’t just keep doing work for two jobs! If you are doing work for old position, it’s taking time away from focus on your new position. But I do think you would likely want to loop manager in so they are aware especially to make sure they are in the same page that the duties for x and y are no longer your role.

  29. EPLawyer*

    #4 – be very very grateful you are moving across country. I am sure you are a stellar performer which is why they want to keep you. But being willing to torpedo an advanced interview process just to hire your wife (who I am also sure is awesome at her job) who might not be the right fit just to keep you is not normal.

    Also by moving cross country it makes it harder for them to contact you and say “Can you help us train your replacement?” by being across country you can even ignore emails and phone calls, darn that time difference.

    Best of luck to your wife in her new job and to you in the future.

    1. Champagne_Dreams*

      And let this be a lesson to the thousands of us who are bewildered, asking “Why didn’t I get a job offer? The interviews went so well! I met the whole team, I was a perfect fit, everyone was so happy, what could have possibly changed?!?” Could be they lost budget, could be the boss got fired, could be they torpedo’d you to make room for a spouse.

    2. 20180904OP4*

      Yeah, that’s the feeling I got after spending a few hours. When I saw the first question this morning I saw my situation there, too, and I’m glad to be flying the coop. I’m still covering responsibilities for 2 of my previous roles, and now that I’m doing exit interviews and briefing books, I’m seeing how bad that’s been for me and the organization. Next stop, 3000 miles that way —>!

    3. Sara without an H*

      OP#4: Are they still offering you remote work? If so, and you’re tempted to take it, treat it as a strictly temporary arrangement. Based on what you said in your letter, I wouldn’t bet on them maintaining the arrangement for more than a few months — blowing up an existing search to hire your wife suggests some high grade unprofessionalism.

      If you do agree to do some remote work for them, look on it as a temporary gig that will help fund your job search in your new location. Good luck!

  30. To LW #2*

    Your manager is a grade-A jerk. Call your corporate office and/or email them. I promise you that your manager’s boss would not be pleased to hear the way the employees are being treated.

    Also, find another job. One more minute around this clown is too many.

    1. Snickerdoodle*

      I called the corporate office on a retail job that refused to give me my last paycheck. I also filed a complaint with the labor board, but they never got a chance to even address it, because ten minutes after I got off the phone with the corporate office telling them about their illegal policy and that I’d filed a complaint, the manager called me to tell me to come in and pick up my paycheck. :D

  31. doingmyjob*

    #3 if you are salaried, your vacation time doesn’t actually cost the organization any more money provided you use the time. Trying to cash it out actually does increase the cost to the organization. That’s probably why they are so firm about not negotiating about your time.

    I am a lot like you–don’t need a lot of time off. I have started doing the half day thing and indulging my reading passion and going to museums and stuff. It has been really nice. Give it a try.

    1. Grunty*

      So you actually like your time off, you just don’t like traveling and taking vacations. There are many different ways to relax, it’s great that you’ve found what works for you. Not everyone wants to travel the world and that’s OK.

  32. Melinda*

    LW3, I wonder if you could find a way to use your time off that would help you with your goals. For example, is there some way you could use the time to train or study to get better at your job to work on getting a promotion? Can you use that time to do some things that would save you money? Can you figure out how to earn money doing something else during that time? Can you take Fridays off and use Fridays as a day to work on career development?

  33. To LW #5*

    OP #5 usually emails are not considered confidential at a public university and could actually be considered public record, so I wouldn’t consider this a demonstration the applicants breaching confidentiality in the legal sense. The only concern would be if the comments themselves included information that should be confidential, such as student grades or personal information. This PDF may still be strange or unorthodox for the position, but I don’t know if I see it as a red flag as if this were a private company.

    1. Antilles*

      It’s not a breach of confidentiality in a *legal* sense, but it certainly is worrying in a larger moral sense. Someone sending you a “thanks, I really appreciated your help on the ___ project” email probably wasn’t expecting to be directly quoted to other people months/years later as part of an unrelated job application. Especially given the volume of quotes – if it was just one or two, then I wouldn’t think much of it (though I probably wouldn’t credit her for it either), but given the excessive amount, I seriously doubt she’s actually gotten permission to quote those people.
      Regardless of the legalities of “well, technically, all emails sent to a .edu account are property of the university and subject to public records requests”, it certainly would make me question whether or not she understands the practical implications – it might be in compliance with state/federal law to disclose those emails, but it certainly doesn’t seem in line with the typical informal limits that people expect when they send you an email.

      1. Observer*

        Actually, in many contexts, people absolutely DO expect these emails to be shared, especially if they ave cc’d a boss.

        1. Antilles*

          I think the context is key here though – sharing it with your boss? Sure, yeah, absolutely.
          But months or years later with a random interview? That’s a lot weirder.

          1. OP #5*

            OP #5 here; yes, public university emails are public in the sense that they can be subject to a public records request, but that doesn’t automatically make all university information immediately okay to share to all audiences, ex. data use agreements and other intellectual property contracts can restrict certain information from being shared publicly; donations of journals and letters to archives and libraries may be kept confidential until the author’s death; student and medical information can be subject to FERPA and HIPAA.

            As far as the student information she included, it generally falls under “directory information” (name, major, etc.) which is not subject to FERPA. But including, for example, messages from parents of prospective students saying “Jane Jones loved everything about XYZ State University and plans to go there in the fall” seems like a) information I don’t need as a hiring manager and b) potentially sensitive. What if Jane Jones is employed by me or someone in my immediate family, and knowing she’s off to XYZ State in the fall is the first I’ve heard of her leaving her job? It seems like the risk of breaching someone’s privacy outweighs any benefits.

  34. LQ*

    #3 – I don’t really like to do a lot of full on vacations and in the last year I ran up my vacation so much I hit a what do I do now dilemma. (And I don’t even accrue at the rate of my coworkers who have been here for 25+ years.) When I do take my time I like doing a lot of leaving at 2 pm things. It’s not a lot, but if you do it 2-3 days a week it adds up, and it’s a couple hours to do errand stuff and have the evening to yourself. Or Wednesdays. I love a good Wednesday off. You get the benefits of a week day off (going to places when it isn’t crowded, staying at home in pjs, reading all day, whatever) but I’ve found the “when I get back” feeling is never as bad (and theoretically Friday should be our light day). You get 2 days a week where you get to have the “I have tomorrow off” feeling. Highly recommend the Wednesday. Also, an extra day on the return side of any trips, you do take, even a bonus day after a family holiday to do normal weekend stuff will help eat into the time.

    If it’s a heavy work load when you return issue, keeping an eye on opportunities for times where it wouldn’t be can be really helpful, though you often have to start that earlier in the year.

    All that aside I took every Friday in June off because Friday was the only day I didn’t have crushing meetings scheduled.

    I don’t like travel or vacations all that much. But it is nice to have that time, you just have to find a good way for you to use it. (You could take it and do personal/career development if you wanted.)

    1. Ender*

      This is a great idea. A few half-days each week can mean a couple of line-ins too!

      I had a lot of holiday for two years and I took every Friday off in November and December those years – it was great.

  35. Half-Caf Latte*

    I picked up on the “so being the good spouse” comment in #4 as a clue about what might be influencing the clingy behavior.

    I wonder if the LW threw in some offhand comments like this one to soften the message, hoping to emphasize that their leaving is because of their spouse’s job, and not their own job satisfaction.

    LW would by no means be the first person to do so, and maybe the managers are hoping that this isn’t a done deal?

    1. 20180904OP4*

      So that’d be me. I didn’t couch it with any softer language, but they do know I’m a big fan of the whole being married thing. My line was, “Molly got a job, we’re moving 3000 miles away.” If anything, I think people suspect I’m the one who got a job and this is cover (I wish). But they definitely were thinking they could talk me out of it.

  36. Hiring Mgr*

    #3, I wonder if it would be possible or allowed to “sell” vacation time to colleagues if they were willing to do so? That may not fly but might be worth at least inquiring about..

    1. Holly*

      Respectfully, that is not at all worth inquiring about. OP will look incredibly out of touch with professional norms in a way that would seriously jeopardize OP’s reputation.

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        i’ve heard of workplaces that permit this, so I don’t think it’s that outlandish as to jeopardize their reputation, but yeah probably just better to let the whole thing lie for a while

        1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

          There’s a guy at my husband’s work that tries to do this and he’s pretty much considered a laughingstock by everyone else (not just for that, though.)

    2. Bea*

      You can donate PTO to someone but selling it is a huge tax and recordkeeping nightmare. You’d have to get the coworker to agree to this sale and due to varying pay scales and schedules…yikes.

  37. The Big Stinko*

    Call me, as they say, “an Old”. But may I suggest:
    -“The move is definitely happening”.
    -“I am definitely moving”.
    -“Our moving plans are not changing”.

    Or any number of clearer statements, rather than “the move is a definite thing.” The latter is not professional. /rant

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know about old, but you might be overly formal / not caught up with the way language has evolved to be more informal, even in professional settings, if you don’t realize that plenty of perfectly professional people use more relaxed language. Assuming you work in an office where people talk to each other like humans, there’s nothing wrong with “the move is a definite thing.”

    2. Tardigrade*

      “The move is a definite thing” is exactly the same message as the three options you listed, which are also good, and there’s nothing unprofessional or unclear about any of them in my (I guess young?) opinion.

    3. Washi*

      If it were “the move is definitely a thing” that might read a little millennial, but not, I think, unprofessional. “The move is a definite thing” seems…very normal.

    4. Observer*

      I’m also an “old” – please don’t feed into stupid generational stereotypes.

      There is nothing unprofessional about the language suggested. And, I hope you don’t nit pick and judge people like that in real life.

      And, wherever you do, please do NOT blame it on your “maturity and advanced life experience” or whatever. Plenty of “old people” would not have a problem with this.

    5. 20180904OP4*

      Thanks for the suggestions, but as a millennial I’m going to have “I Quit” iced onto a box of vegan donuts and… I kid, I kid! I feel this is very workplace dependent. Formal language here would come across as weird, since we’re a pretty laid back group. I’m more of a stickler for the formal than most people, so I’m even toning it down because when people hear formal language around here, we presume somebody’s in trouble. ;)

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          No, no, everyone knows you spell out “I Quit” in filets of whitefish!

          (Anybody remember the epic thread on dramatic ways people have quit jobs?)

  38. puppies*

    OP#3 – You are correct that most Americans would value the extra time off. Since that’s not the case with you, and you seem to want to use your free time to earn more $, have you considered taking on a part time job? Or use your vacation time to work a seasonal job? I had a great part-time brand ambassador job on weekends, but I chose to quit when I started my full time job because I really wanted free time. I could see someone who really needed the money, or enjoyed working, keeping the weekend job.

    1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

      Yep. Start picking up some gigs or short term projects that you can schedule to complete during your extra vacation time. If working is what makes you happy, just pick up some extra work and get paid 2x

    2. Green Cheese Moon*

      I have a friend who does exactly that. He is now in management but really misses the hands-on part of actually making teapots. So for a week or two each year, he goes to work for a friend who runs a small teapot business. He loves getting paid double those weeks.

  39. Bea*

    We’ve only allowed vacation cash out at the termination of employment and a rare occasion where we were too swamped to allow substantial PTO to be taken due to production.

    My partner’s company does cash out. They’re small and can give the option due to the costs being low with a handful of people who may choose the option.

    I used to just take mine in half days or long weekends. I don’t do “vacations” myself either but digging your heels about this isn’t earning you any favors. You’re making yourself difficult to work with and a good way to damage your reputation and future earning potential with them.

  40. John Rohan*

    LW2: I can certainly understand the frustration when you are sick. The problem is, numerous people call in sick when they are not sick and just don’t want to work (yes, it happens and everyone has either done it at some point or knows someone who did), AND you are working retail where profit margins are extremely thin (especially these days) so your store probably can’t support having an extra person on the floor to cover when someone can’t come in for some reason. That does NOT justify the behavior of your management however.

    1. Observer*

      1. It’s not true that “everyone does this or knows someone who has done this.”

      2. Even if it happens, it doesn’t come close to explaining this kind of stupidity. ESPECIALLY the fainting, but also not not the explicit attempts to intimidate the OP.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        That’s funny. I would have said one of the few universal truths is that everybody has either called in sick when they’re not sick, or knows someone who has.

        1. Observer*

          I suppose it depends on what you call “sick” – if only something with an official diagnosis or having a narrow set of symptoms (ie only if you are running a fever or vomiting) qualifies, then sure. But if you accept that someone can be sick without meeting those twi qualifications, then, no. I can think of a couple of co-workers who *might* have done that, but they are not the people I would call highly dependable.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            Well, yeah, that’s the point. We’ve all (or at least I thought it was all of us) come across coworkers (or, let’s face it, friends and family members) who will call in sick when they’re not sick at all. I don’t mean “I wasn’t vomiting but I just didn’t feel well.” I mean “I didn’t want to go to work, so I pretended to be sick.” And yes, they do tend to not be highly dependable.

          2. Bea*

            I see your point here.

            If I wake up just not having the energy to leave my bed, I am sick. Mental health days are covered under sick leave laws for a reason!

            Unlike the school days where you better be puking or burning up or you’re piled onto the bus. (Well, I’ve heard that’s a thing. My mom knew I really suffering if I didn’t want to go to school. Other kids weren’t so lucky. My mom was SAH until I was 12 so it didn’t hurt anyone if I needed to stay home though.)

            1. Autumnheart*

              Chalk me up as one of those kids who were sent to school regardless of health condition. Sorry classmates.

              1. Gadget Hackwrench*

                That happened to me all the time as a kid, till the 3rd grade when I puked on the teacher. “Why didn’t you tell anyone you were sick?” asks the teacher. “I told my mom, but she didn’t believe me.” Mom never made me go to school when I said I was sick again.

            2. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

              My mom actually let us have 1 day per school year where we could stay home without being sick if we wanted to (and didn’t have a test or assignment due.) Mental health days long before the concept was a “thing”! And I already missed a fair amount of school due to chronic health issues- my mom did not look kindly on those who sent sick kids to school because I caught everything and it meant more illness for me! This was in the 70s when most moms were still SAH so it wasn’t a matter of parents not being able to get time off or day care themselves.

  41. Oxford Comma*

    OP #2: Since you are in the happy position of not absolutely having to work, I’m going to suggest that you start looking for another position. If you are at college/university, you might look around campus to see if there are other better jobs.

  42. Lulu*

    Oh yeah, not completely atypical but completely not okay, OP 2.

    I had a retail manager who didn’t believe I had the flu, and kept calling to ask if I was coming in, even when I could barely stand or even stay awake. (I don’t even know how I made it through the end of the shift I was working when the illness struck. Influenza can hit really quickly– I remember exactly where I was standing and what I was doing when I started to feel ill. By the time I got home it was all I could do to get to the couch. I fell asleep immediately even though it wasn’t even dinner time, and was barely functional for another week. I was Really Sick.) Then when I did return to work, he was upset that I had a lingering cough because of my illness. So… did he want me to not come to work because of the cough? Did he want to offer an affordable insurance plan and sick leave so I could go see a doctor about it? Mostly he seemed angry at me because I was still sick, and it made him look bad to be employing sick people. Tough shit.

    But of course I called out sick a couple of months later to go on a job interview. Because I didn’t get any vacation or personal time, and it was the only way I could get out of showing up for a shift. It’s almost as if managers like that are asking their employees to lie to them by not giving them the barest minimum of benefits or respect in the first place.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Yuuuup. And don’t feel a shred of guilt for lying to them about that! They don’t deserve honesty.

  43. Kenneth*

    OP#2, not to excuse your managers, but fainting “out of nowhere” with NO prior history of fainting IS AN EMERGENCY. Your manager was correct to offer to call for an ambulance. And actually he should have to at least let EMTs look you over and determine if you need to be transported to the ER.

    1. Delphine*

      Doesn’t seem like it was a sincere request, more of a threat. “Oh, if you’re really that sick, I’ll just call 911!”

      1. chrome ate my username*

        It can be a threat, especially if the person has crummy insurance and will saddle them with tens of thousands of dollars in bills.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          I had a garbage boss who called an ambulance on me after he fired me and stuck me with a $900 bill. He told them I was suicidal, and the EMTs and city police refused to believe otherwise.

          I regret not sending the bill to him.

      2. Kenneth*

        Being a threat is beside the point. Fainting “out of nowhere” isn’t something to be taken lightly, especially if it’s the first time a person has ever fainted.

    2. Indie*

      I have to wonder if the stress or toxicity of the environment is affecting her as both occasions of sickness are quite serious. It’s like her body is making a cry for help.

    3. Bea*

      I fainted out of nowhere. My mom took me to the ER. Mostly since I bonked my head and I wanted checked out.

      The ER treated me like crap and weren’t happy I came in. They told me to come back if it happened again but just once, you probably stood up too fast. They didn’t do a single test.

    4. e271828*

      Do you know what a trip to the ER in an ambulance can cost?

      That was a threat, not an offer to help.

      1. Kenneth*

        And sometimes you just have to take that kick to the nuts. Earlier this year I was at the DMV and someone in the seating area had a seizure. Luckily there was a nurse there who could immediately step in while someone else called 911 to get an ambulance and get the person to the hospital. Pretty sure that person wasn’t thinking about the upcoming cost. Then again, looking at his eyes as they carted him away, he didn’t look like he could really do much thinking at all after that.

        Sure OP#2 is talking about a fainting spell, not a seizure. Doesn’t matter though. What you perceive as a threat was still likely the proper course of action in this instance. At minimum, hopefully OP#2 will be seeing a physician soon, if it hasn’t already happened.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          It was the correct course of action but I can see where the threat notion comes from. I knew a guy years ago who was stabbed in the arm as a passer by to a fight. Someone insisted on calling an ambulance even though it objectively wasn’t that bad and he begged her not to call. He ended up having to sell his car, all his CDs and musical instruments (he was an aspiring musician), and move back in with his parents in order to deal with the bill. So yeah, it certainly can be a threat even if it is the rational thing to do.

          1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

            I have had serious lifelong chronic illness and for almost two decades I had no insurance (and no way to get it, thanks USA!) which meant I ended up with a LOT of unpaid ambulance & ER bills (in our city you can pay extra on your water/trash bill to cover the cost of EMT service, or I’d have those too.)
            I couldn’t have paid them if I’d sold every single one of my possessions, so I didn’t even try. If I didn’t qualify for the low income hospital bill help, they just went to collections. Eventually I had to file for bankruptcy (for something completely unrelated) and included every medical bill I had to date in it.

  44. Sarah N*

    OP3: If you’d really prefer money over time, how about taking those 3-day weekends to start up a side hustle of some sort — either consulting/freelancing related to your current expertise, or something that uses other skills you have?

  45. Soupy*

    #4 – Something similar happened to me, although I was the one with the job in another city! The company my husband (then fiance) worked for had tried to hire me as soon as we got engaged, but it wasn’t in my field. Fast forward about 6 months and I got a great job in another city. When fiance told them he would be leaving the company after our wedding in a couple months to move, they told him he should stay on and work from remotely in new city. They’d never done anything like that before. He did have to agree to travel to the home office at least 1x per month. I don’t know what else they offered him because he and I had already agreed that we’d move wherever I found something and he’d follow. (My industry is much harder to find jobs, where his is basically everywhere) Eventually it was time for me to leave my great job, they wanted him back at the main office, so we ended up moving back to City #1. He was there 2 years before moving, 4 years “off site” and another 9 years after returning.

    All that to say, thank them but decline the job offer for your wife, follow her as planned, and (if you want) keep your old job and work remotely. Even if you later decide to find a job in your new city, it will be easier if you are still employed.

    1. 20180904OP4*

      Yep, this is very similar to our situation. My industry is more localized than my wife’s, but there are fewer positions opening up in her specialty, and it’s a “No way” remote job while I can work from anywhere, so off we go! I sent in a friendly, “Thanks, but I wouldn’t want to disrupt the current process, and Molly has already committed to Tessier-Ashpool.” this morning!

  46. Delphine*

    Doesn’t seem like it was a sincere request, more of a threat. “Oh, if you’re really that sick, I’ll just call 911!”

    1. Erin*

      One time at a retail job I got a serious burn on my hand and someone called 911 for me. My higher ups were pissed that an ambulance came to the store and caused a scene and etc. Maybe OP should have taken them up on that!

  47. Scout*

    I have worked for a couple of hospitals that allowed PTO buyback – usually at a percentage of hourly rate rather than the full salary amount. It’s not a perk I’ve seen anywhere else, though, and I’m honestly not sure why they offered it there.

    1. Karlee*

      PTO shows up as an expense in financials. If they offer a buyback and pay you a percentage of the value, it reduces their liabilities.

  48. Erin*

    #2 – The retail world is much different from the more typical 9 to 5 type of offices jobs you’re likely to get into after college. If you need to leave unexpectedly it’s a much bigger deal, usually because it means they’ll be short staffed or they have to call someone else in, etc.; this would not be an issue at most office jobs where you can usually pick up the rest of your work the next day.

    However, that being said, no this is not normal. It’s not normal to expect someone to continue working after they’ve fainted. It’s not normal to insinuate that you can’t be sick enough to go home unless you’re sick enough that someone needs to call 911. It’s not normal for them to say they’ll schedule you when they know you’re in class because you had to leave early from doctor diagnosed strep throat. Nope nope nope.

    I’m tempted to say, maybe if you just started this job and these two incidents happened close together, it could raise a red flag to them that you’re unreliable and this isn’t just bad luck or a coincidence. But with the other information you’ve provided…no, I wouldn’t even give them that benefit of that doubt.

    1. Autumnheart*

      When you think about it, the threat to retaliate against OP by scheduling her to work during her classes is just so dumb. Obviously she’s not going to show up, so it would be cutting off their own nose to spite their face. I mean sure, if the point is to fast-track firing someone by deliberately creating a scheduling conflict, I guess that’ll do it, but now they’re down a reliable worker *permanently* and have to spend more money on hiring. And for what, because the worker was legitimately ill once? People can be so stupid.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yes. Which is part of why I’m not too impressed by the “but coverage!” excuse for this kind of behavior. It often seems to be more about power-tripping and deliberate cruelty and abuse than about actual business decisions that make sense.

  49. Azyaria*

    For OP #3 — depending on how much time off you have, perhaps you can take that time off all at once during the holidays and find seasonal work. You’ll be filling the need of short-term seasonal workers, and can make money.

    Or, if that isn’t appealing, maybe you can plan on taking a class to learn a new skill – and have time to practice the skill! For instance, if you always wanted to take a photography class, calligraphy, crafting class, etc.

  50. retrocat*

    i’d argue not being able to call out sick or go home in retail is pretty… normal. i worked for one of the “better” companies and unless you were crawling across the flower dying, we were not allowed to go home. idk how i lasted 2 years but i am glad i anticipate to never work retail again. my co workers routinely bragged about who worked a shift the sickest (like: “oh yeah, one time i had the flu and barfed in the bathroom like 4 times but i still made it through my shift!”). sigh.

  51. BananaRama*

    LW2, this is sadly common in retail and your age might play a factor here. You said you are in class, and for some reason, a lot of retail managers, in my experience, treat that as an extension of high school and that you for some reason are still a high schooler with a “need a parent mentality.”

    When I was in the military, I worked part time in retail, mainly due to PCSing from dormitory living overseas to an actual apartment (I had zero real furniture or home goods, like dishes, so I was using the retail job to supplement). My retail boss seemed to think that because I was young, I had the same responsibilities/schedule/attitude as the college kids. During the Christmas season, they wanted me to pull 40+ hour work weeks because a lot of the colleges were in-between semesters, despite telling them that I could not do that because I already worked full-time and explaining the schedule I could work. When the boss wouldn’t budge, I quit on the spot. They could have had a part-time person, instead they were short staffed for the holiday rush.

    My advice, if you don’t need the job, don’t risk your health or safety. If you do need the job, find something else ASAP.

  52. IrishEm*

    OP2 Find another job, preferably one with a union. The support of a union is incredibly helpful. I recommend finding out which unions support which employers (e.g. in Ireland Mandate and Siptu both look after retail workers, but Mandate has the contracts for several major retailers) and apply to positions with the strongest union support. Join the union as soon as you start.

    I’ve worked retail my whole life, I’ve had good managers and bad managers, ones who used their position to bully those in more vulnerable positions, and those who would come in to work with nerve damage (!!!) to support the team. When my Dad passed away my whole retail team including three managers attended his funeral. Don’t feel tied to one position or industry, especially as you are in school and have the luxury of being able to job hop. If you can do without the pocket money I’d say it would be worth resigning immediately, and in your exit interview put in writing the threats made by your manager to clash shifts with classes to make you look badly, as that stuff is extremely dodgy. Good luck!

    1. Bea*

      If she’s in the US, retail unions are worthless. They never advocated for workers who tried to get them to help when CBA clauses were violated. They still allow your schedule to be changed whimsically.

  53. Michaela Westen*

    #3 – I have colleagues who accumulated a lot of PTO and they did things like taking every Wednesday off, every Friday, etc. until they’d used it up.
    If it was me I would use it up on principle, since I earned it!
    Is there something else you’ve always wanted to do? Learn to dance, fly a plane, contribute to medical research? Sports? Acting? Music? If so, use the time to get started!
    If not, the suggestion by another commenter to volunteer sounds good. You would be making a contribution and getting a change of scenery. :) Pick your favorite cause and sign up!

  54. Robert Foster*

    #2; One of the best things about Seattle (may be washington state on the whole) is the sick time laws. Everyone earns it, ultimately coming to 2 weeks a year if you work full time. There is a no-questions policy with it. If you have time on the books and say you’re sick, you’re sick. No doctor’s notes, no hoops.
    This is great as you don’t have to prove it; but on the flip side it gets abused by the young folks I have worked with at the movie theaters. “oops, there is a party to go to… I’m sick” (On friday two of my coworkers threw a party… strange how 5 people suddenly are sick).
    But I’d rather have it that way easy to abuse than forcing people to come in when sick or spend the day at the hospital just to show they have a basic flu.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*


      One of my basic tests for “are you a decent person or a bad person” is this: Which makes you angrier, many people NOT getting something they need or a few people taking advantage of a system and unfairly benefiting? If the latter makes you angrier, you’re a bad person.

  55. Goya de la Mancha*

    #3 – I think the only instance I’ve ever heard of getting your PTO cashed out would be if you were to leave employment suddenly and had a balance of days left. Even then I think they normally just push your end date back the set amount of PTO – so you would be on “vacation until the 14th” instead of terminating employment on the 9th.

    #2 – nothing helpful to add, your boss is an ass.

  56. VegetableLasagna*

    I’ve had a similar experience to LW2 in retail: One morning my husband woke up and couldn’t walk. I called an ambulance and took him to the emergency room, and I called my manager to tell her this and she told me “you aren’t in the hospital” and I still needed to come in. I told her I would be late. I think I came in about 2-3 hours late, missed 27 calls and 18 texts, and she left for a 3 hour lunch break because she was “too mad to look at me”. I also ended up having a stress migraine and went mostly blind in both eyes for about an hour. So I was by myself, couldn’t count cash, and it was 4 days before Christmas. When she came back, she dragged me into the back room, wrote me up and threatened to fire me for showing up late.

    1. VegetableLasagna*

      Another example: one of my coworkers had her wisdom teeth removed and the manager refused to give her any time off. She came into work the day after the procedure and had to be sent home because she wouldn’t stop crying from the pain.
      Example 3: I had emergency surgery and returned to work on the same day because, again, no time off allowed. It did not go well.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Left for a 3 hour lunch break because she was “too mad to look at you?” What is she, five years old?

      (Also, it proves that any concerns she supposedly had about coverage were BS. It was all about power and control.)

  57. LadyCop*

    #2″ if I went home they would begin to schedule me when I was in class because if I didn’t help them out, why should they help me out?” Ummm that’s like crazy passive aggressive…even if the OP were lying…what would this accomplish?

    Also…from professional and personal experience…fainting with no known cause is not a small thing…honestly I would have 100% gone to the Urgency or Emergency Room. I say this having fainted from stress before, but having an ambulance show up, and make sure you’re okay doesn’t hurt because I’ve seen plenty of people faint, and it’s a symptom of something more.

    Regardless, there are plenty of reasonable and kind people in retail. It’s not always easy to find (or get) those retails jobs, but they 100% exist. And for spending money, there are other options too.

  58. Barefoot Librarian*

    This is par for the course in my experience. It’s a terrible, toxic cycle. Retailers don’t hire enough people to cover shifts in the case of an emergency or illness, so managers become uncompromising because they know they’ll be in a lurch. The worst is when they require a doctor’s note but it’s minimum wage, non-benefited work so you don’t have insurance and can’t afford to go to the doctor (can you tell I speak from experience here?). I’m so sorry you’re going through this. There are SOME good retail jobs out there, but I’ve noticed that there are more like this than not.

  59. Big Biscuit*

    What does “I suppose I’ve been sick a few times” mean at the end of her story? How many times and within what time period? I worked in retail management for 20 plus years, of course if someone was feverish or actually passed out, I would send them home, get them a ride, call 911 or do whatever it took to insure their safety and comfort and I have done such things. There is also the needs of the business. A business needs reliable employees with excellent attendance to meet the needs of customers or clients. I was fine until that last vague statement. I worked for a company where we did not ask for doctor’s notes. We looked at the overall effect an employees attendance record had on the business. If it was detrimental to the needs of the business we went down the corrective action road. Sometimes attendance improved, other times employees left. Bottom line is that you have to have employees in the building to function.

    1. IDontRememberWhatNameIUsedBefore*

      I suppose everyone has been sick a few times.
      When I was a retail manager I ABSOLUTELY did NOT want sick people working around me, getting me and everyone else ill and causing even more coverage issues. We sent them home, even if it meant one of us covering the rest of their shift, because that was part of our JOBS as managers. We also were able to hire enough people that we did have some available who were happy to be called in for extra shifts if they came up (there were always 2 or 3 people scheduled for only 10 or so hours just so we wouldn’t run into these coverage issues.) And if we needed to call someone in, it was again one of OUR managerial duties to call people in, not the sick employees…which makes sense, as *we* were the ones in charge of writing up the schedules, and *we* were the only ones with access to all employees phone numbers.
      And as someone who has struggled with serious chronic health issues my entire life, I have very little respect for companies who look more to their bottom line than they do to the health and well-being of the people who actually keep that bottom line from bottoming out.

  60. Beemer*

    Many thanks for answering my questions about my coworker not having taken all of her tasks (my former job) after 18 months and expecting me to do them. You’re right that my boss hadn’t told me she expects me to do these things. I tend to do stuff because I know it’ll get done (also do this outside of work). I needed your nudge to be more direct with both my boss and coworker.

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