my employee is chronically late to work

A reader writes:

My employee has had an attendance issue off and on for the past six months. I called her attention to it and it improved marginally, but then she told me that she gets a ride to work from her mom and her family is large and there is only one bathroom so she gets delayed. I changed her start time to 9:15 am from 9 am, although she already has the latest start time of anyone on the team. Our department is quite small (two people) so coverage is essential, and plus she is an hourly employee and gets paid to be here on time. She also stays late every evening (til 6 pm), but I found out from her that she does not work past 5 pm and only stays late to wait for her ride.

Is it time for disciplinary action, i.e., docking of pay or writing her up? What sort of conversation needs to happen now?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other letters I’m answering there today include:

  • Can I ask to leave early on my second day of work to attend my son’s preschool concert?
  • If I can’t contact candidates’ current managers, how can I know if they’re hiding problems?
  • Interactive, web-based resumes
  • My new coworker noisily sucks on candy all day

{ 332 comments… read them below }

  1. Mustela Furo*

    How disappointing– won’t let me view your column. It’s hidden behind a “Scroll Down To Continue” banner…with no chance to view.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        Or “Reader View” on Safari (over on the left side of the address field); I don’t know what the equivalent is elsewhere.

  2. Jenna Maroney*

    Unless OP1’s employee is literally saving lives…. let her arrive a little late. Being this draconian about it is sure to backfire on you.

    1. Gaia*

      It really depends on the role. Sometimes arriving late can have a major impact on customer experience and/or her team. It isn’t draconian to expect customer facing roles or coverage based roles to be on time. Imagine a receptionist who opens the building for clients who have beginning-of-day appointments being 10-15 minutes late regularly. I doubt the clients would be very understanding.

      1. Allison*

        It also depends on the norms of the office. Some offices have a rule that you must have your butt in the seat, ready to work at the exact start of the workday, and if you arrive even a minute after that start, you’re late; while that setup may be unnecessarily strict in most offices, it wouldn’t be fair if pretty much everyone made an effort to be on time almost every day (or nearly every day) under threat of getting in trouble if they were even a bit late for any reason, and then that one employee constantly rolled in late and never seemed to see any consequences of it.

        1) Everyone needs to start and end their shift at a specific time, no exceptions
        2) Some people are in roles that require coverage from XAM to YPM every day, but others roles can be more flexible due to the nature of the work (client-facing vs. behind the scenes and project-based)
        3) There’s no need for a set schedule, just core hours and an expectation that everyone put in a full day’s work, with maybe a more specific schedule for interns and those who supervise said interns.

        1. Gaia*

          I agree (although I’m with you that it may be unnecessarily strict if the role didn’t require shift based work and coverage).

        2. Greg NY*

          I agree with everything you said, except that 1) should never be the rule in practice. There’s no reason for inflexibility simply as a matter of policy. Flexibility should be the default for every position unless there is a business reason that it isn’t feasible, which would be 2). And even then, there should be a different kind of perk available for those positions. No one should feel less important than others in an organization.

      2. Dr. Doll*

        Or even not just the person who opens the building! I left a medical care provider after the second time I booked the first appointment of the day (9:00) and her staff were there. She rolled in around 9:30. Actually, I didn’t even bother to stay the second time, it was just a follow-up “everything okay” and everything was okay. Around 9:15 I told them I had a commitment, bye, and then never worked with that care provider again.

    2. Lil Fidget*

      OP says she’s covering a desk that needs to be open at a certain time (could be something like a cashier, bank teller, or opener for a business), so that may just not be possible. I think we tend to default to the assumption that everybody works in an office where there’s flexibility, but in some jobs, timeliness is absolutely job-essential.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        When I worked in a supermarket, we had one cashier who was quite good at her job but could never arrive on time. It didn’t matter when we scheduled her, she just never was on time – always at least 15 minutes late and often closer to 30!

        They didn’t fire her, but she did get assigned fewer and fewer shifts. It was quite annoying because payroll was very tight there and often she would come in in the evenings when there were only two or three other cashiers, and she was meant to relieve another person who was going on break or leaving, and that person was then delayed.

        This doesn’t seem to be the case for the OP, but if this is a situation where coverage is required and her lateness is causing others to work more, I definitely don’t blame her for wanting more diligence. I’m not sure 15 minutes makes much difference in a lot of situations, but if they’re scheduling her to start at 9:15, it sounds like in this case they need her at that time.

        1. Jen*

          Yeah I have been the cashier who had to stay late for my replacement and so much nope to just letting this go. The role needs to be covered and having others just eat the time for her is a good way to annoy your other employees.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            I came *this close* to leaving a volunteer position because the person who had the next shift was always late. I changed my shift instead. If that hadn’t been an option, I would have stopped volunteering altogether. Ignoring this really is a good way to annoy, and possibly lose, your other employees.

          2. Goya de la Mancha*

            This really underscores the lack of basic respect that one must have for their fellow co-workers time if you’re always showing up late! Too bad Jen, you can’t dependably schedule any important appointments after work because Sally never shows up on time for her shift!

      2. Recent grad*

        When I was in college I worked as a desk receptionist for the dorms. There was only one person at the desk at a time so I couldn’t leave at the end of my shift until my replacement arrived. One semester I had a weekend morning shift (6:30am-noon) and the afternoon receptionist was at least 15-20 minutes late every week. That amount of time doesn’t seem like much, but by the end of my shift I was tired and hungry and wanted to go home. Or sometimes I’d have plans for after work and having to leave late would really throw off my day. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect an employee to arrive on time unless there’s an emergency on a very rare occasion.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I don’t find it draconian to expect someone to do what they’re paid for, even if they’re simply answering phones rather than saving lives. The job requires coverage. Someone needs to be there at 9:00, and this employee signed up to do exactly that. If she can’t do it, she can’t do it.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          It’s not that she’s late. It’s that her job requires coverage. As others have pointed out, that means phones aren’t being answered, doors aren’t being unlocked, tills aren’t being opened, etc. It means customers are being inconvenienced.

          1. Jenna Maroney*

            Ah, for some reason (even having worked in retail) I didn’t realize that that was signified. I still think the general capitalist machine needs to ease up on this kind of thing, but that’s getting too far away from things.

            1. Stormfeather*

              And just what does “consideration of customers and other people’s time and schedules” have to do with a “capitalist machine”?

            2. neverjaunty*

              It’s not the “capitalist machine” that’s the problem when customers are kept waiting or a co-worker has to handle her duties because she couldn’t get to work within half an hour of her start time.

            3. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

              Yeah, no, even in an employee-owned profit sharing colletive in Ecotopia, I’m pretty sure that timeliness is still an issue.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yeah. I work with a number of worker coops and other non-traditionally-capitalist “resistance” employers. Coverage means that the timing matters, regardless of The Machine.

              2. Emily K*

                Even at Sunday brunch with friends, timeliness is still an issue. Everyone runs late sometimes but a friend who is consistently late without warning ahead of time will quickly run out my patience. If it takes you 20 minutes to get to the restaurant, then you know 25 minutes before our agreed upon time if you’re going to be able to leave in 5 minutes, and you can call/text to let me know, and then I can stay at home another 30 minutes and eat some crackers before I leave instead of standing around at the restaurant getting hangry for 30 minutes because you texted me 3 minutes before you were supposed to be there that you haven’t left yet.

                1. Brandy*

                  I used to be “Scooter” scooting in at the last minute. But I taught myself that i need to be at a place earlier then needed and this broke my being late habit. Now Im early.

            4. Anon Anon*

              It’s not the capitalist machine that’s keeping my colleague’s students from seeing their advisor at a time that fits into their very busy class and work schedules. It’s my colleague who is always regardless of what the start time is (when they’re given extra time, they are then late on top of the extra time — always. It’s been happening for eight freakin years). That’s inconveniencing the students, the receptionist, the other advisors who take pity on the students because we’re here to, you know, advise students. That’s giving our office a stinko reputation. It’s selfish and and frankly a big F-YOU to the students who aren’t important enough, apparently, to be on time for.

              Not to mention the meetings that this colleague is late to, events and programs that start late because this colleague is late….

              Heheheheh, whoops, feeling a little testy about that.

            5. Julia*

              This isn’t just for profit. Plenty of workplaces has opening hours – the embassy, the doctor’s office, immigration…

        2. Allison*

          If a business opens their storefront or phone lines at 9AM, you can bet your bonnet that some customers, needing whatever the business provides, planned to get in there and do business at exactly 9, and may become irate if there’s a delay.

          1. Allison*

            And on the topic of coverage, I worked overnight security shifts in college that ended at 7AM, with my relief usually arriving at my post at 6:05. I wasn’t mad when they came in at exactly 7, but every now and then they’d stroll in at 7:05 or 7:10 with coffee, because the Dunks on campus didn’t open until 7, and that would irritate me. At that point, I’d been up all night and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed for a few hours before my afternoon class.

            1. Alton*

              Yeah, whoever is already working might have to shoulder extra work, stay longer, or change their workflow while they wait for their co-worker to arrive, and they might not be fully free to do things they need to do. It can be frustrating when parts of your job (or your ability to take lunch or go home) depends on another person.

          2. many bells down*

            I worked at a YMCA that hosted a huge rummage sale every year and people would be physically shaking the gate to get into the yard the minute it was the listed opening time. And hollering at us.

        3. Oof*

          But we’re not talking a few minutes past. The manager pushed her time to 9:15, which would have covered that. The employee was still running late with a pushed back start. I’m not sure I would care for a staff member being 20 minutes late each day if we needed coverage – it can cause a lot of disruption even when it is occasional, and understandable. But on an ongoing basis? It would be time for a serious talk.

          1. TheBeetsMotel*

            I would suspect that the employee made the (rookie) mistake of telling Mom/ other family members that she can now start at 9:15, so it still takes everyone just as long to get out of the house as before and nothing’s improved.

            If her situation really is out of her control (ie. it’s Mom who can’t get organized to leave on time), she should have told her that her boss is fussing at her over being late for 9am; safe in the knowledge that if she actually gets there for 9:15, she’s good.

        4. EPLawyer*

          Its not just a few minutes. She already has the latest start time and 15 minutes after that she cant make it. Also its chronic not occasional. LW said coverage is essential so start time is important.

        5. Goya de la Mancha*

          15 minutes daily adds up to 60+ hours per year. If this were happening once a month, that would be one thing – but it sounds like this is a daily/regular occurrence.

        6. Life is good*

          A few minutes late may seem like a small thing to fret over, but if you look at it this way – 15 mins late every day x 5 days a week x 50 weeks (assuming she gets a two-week paid vacation) = 62.5 hours she is getting paid for no work. The OP said she stays late, but doesn’t work, only waits for the ride.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Unless the employee is listing her hours (or otherwise forging her timecard) as 9-6, paying her for time she isn’t working is on OP.

        7. I will kill people with this cricket bat*

          Hell, even if coverage isn’t necessary, showing up roughly on time is important. I recently had a staff member who would consistently show up around 9:30. I asked her to please be in no later than 9 because I needed to have people there doing work for the majority of the day and I as the boss was being inconvenienced by not having her there until 9:30. This shit matters. I shouldn’t be afraid to schedule a meeting before 10 am. Those are just normal working hours and if you’re going to work in an office that adheres to those hours, you need to sort your shit out and get in on damn time.

        8. JSPA*

          She’s already getting 15 free minutes a day, and isn’t making that. So it’s not a couple of minutes. it’s, say, 20 minutes from the time that they really needed her to be starting. Or a hundred minutes a week. Or over three hours out of every biweekly paycheck. That’s certainly enough to be annoying.

          If she’s otherwise a model employee, I’d ask her if partial subsidy of a transit pass (if that’s an option) would make the difference.

          Beyond that? She will presumably figure out what so many of us have done, at home or at college or with roommates, facing the “too many people for the shower” dance: Shower in the evening. Washcloth touch-up at the sink (kitchen or work sink if need be) in the morning. Or get up crack of dawn to beat the rush for a full shower (which she can do, if she’s not focused on, “my go time is when my ride leaves.”) Not that her supervisor should be working this part out for her; but (absent some really unusual circumstances that have not been mentioned) it’s totally reasonable to expect an employee to get presentable and get to work at the time she’s hired to do so.

    4. Jadelyn*

      I don’t feel like it’s draconian to say “you’re hourly, and I need you to be here for your scheduled shift” – especially since OP says that coverage is essential and there’s not a big team who can pick up the slack.

      I appreciate that my current boss has never taken a “butt in seat” priority approach with me, despite my being hourly, but then my role is almost never really time-dependent (barring early-morning meetings). As long as I’m available for the bulk of the workday, that’s good enough. But when I worked in a call center, or was the sole receptionist for a small company, I really did need to be on time, and it wasn’t “draconian” of those companies to enforce consequences for lateness.

      1. Greg NY*

        Yup. That’s definitely true, and it’s why people should avoid jobs in call centers and other “butt in seat” environments if they are able to.

        1. Jadelyn*

          …just out of curiosity, are you proposing to close all call centers and do away with opening times for customer-serving businesses? Because the fact remains that someone’s got to staff those kinds of places. As long as companies and services have set availability hours, there will always be jobs that have to be time-dependent, so there will always be people who can’t avoid jobs in call centers or similar environments.

    5. Lulu*

      I worked for years with co-workers who were chronically late. The responsibility for answering phones was shared between the four of us in the same position, and there were often other employees who needed our assistance first thing in the morning. What that meant was that those of us who arrived on time were thrown into a situation every morning where we were answering nonstop phone calls and trying to assist attorneys running out the door to court while understaffed, because of the people who were late every day.

      Honestly, they should have been fired, but our supervisor was also conflict avoidant to the extreme. It was a really terrible situation. Not life or death, but there are *plenty* of situations in which chronic lateness is a big problem.

    6. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      I have to draw a hard line on the late arrivals. I’ve worked jobs where it’s essential that coverage is on-time every day. If someone is regularly late, then everything, including opening up gets pushed back. Other workers are forced to wait to start their work or have to rush through their own daily routine. Also, waiting on a late co-worker to come to relieve someone who’s shift is over..grrrr.
      So yes, if she can’t commit to regular on-time arrivals, then she has to go.

      1. Helena*

        100% agree. It’s disrespectful to be chronically late and by letting it go it will become the norm. It’s unfair on everyone else who follows the policy to show up on time. I’d be putting this person on an Attendance Plan and then letting them go if it continues. There are plenty of others that would appreciate a job.

    7. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

      Expecting an hourly employee to arrive and depart on time is absolutely not “draconian.” She’s being paid in part to provide coverage, and it’s 100% reasonable to expect her, or any employee, to structure their lives such that they can arrive on time the overwhelming majority of the time. That is not unreasonable, uncompassionate, or misplaced. “Draconian” might come into play if an otherwise generally reliable employee got slapped for an exceptional late arrival, but it’s not operative here.

            1. Yorick*

              I disagree. Captain Planet is disagreeing with your statement that this is draconian, not objecting to the word draconian itself.

            2. Turquoisecow*

              The entire point of your post was that it’s “draconian”. Disagreeing with that word is not nitpicking language, it’s disagreeing with the entire point of your post. That’s allowed.

            3. Jadelyn*

              Yes, but oddly enough, words have meaning, and when your post relies heavily upon a fairly extreme word (“draconian”, which is not in common day to day usage and is generally used to imply over-reaching authoritarianism rather than just “being a hardass”), it’s not “nitpicking wording” to say “the situation is not as egregious as you’re implying”. That’s legitimate disagreement, and it really feels like you’re weaponizing the language-nitpicking rule to try to dismiss disagreements with your post.

        1. neverjaunty*

          It’s not the word choice, it’s the sentiment. OP needs this employee to arrive on time, and has tried to accommodate her by shifting her start time. Employee nonetheless rolls in significantly late (and doesn’t really mitigate the lost time) with the excuse that, effectively, she can’t manage her time well. The OP would not be acting harshly or unfairly by making it clear that showing up on time is a job requirement.

          1. PhyllisB*

            Hmm….I don’t know what this person does, your office hours, and how time-sensitive her arrival has to be, but she already stated that she is dependent on someone else for a ride, and has to stay until 6:00 or so for her ride. Could you possibly make her hours 9:30-6:00 or 10:00-6:00 depending on length of lunch break? THEN if she can’t adhere to that, it’s time to think of showing her the door.

            1. Elspeth*

              That’s the thing – LW has already given her the latest start time of the whole team, and Laura is still showing up late. I don’t think the LW should be bending over backwards for her any more.

        2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

          Disagreeing with someone who is mischaracterizing as extreme or unreasonable a reasonable expectation of timeliness at a coverage-based poition is not nitpicking language, and I’ll thank you not to try to rules-lawyer people when they disagree with you.

        3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Jenna, I’ve noticed that you’ve been increasingly using the comment rules or tone policing to try to shut people down when they’re disagreeing with you on substantive issues. As someone who has also been taken to task for my word choices, I think it’s really important to take a step back and try to hear the core of a person’s argument, because that’s the issue that affects OP.

    8. samiratou*

      So, when LW1’s employee is staying until 6, is she putting 6 on her time sheet, despite only working until 5? If so, that’s a way bigger problem than the lateness, IMO, but even if she’s only claiming work until 5, it seems reasonable that LW would insist she work until 5:45 to get an 8 hours in. If she’s not working her full hours and just sitting around for an hour waiting for a ride, that seems like something the LW could address to ensure she works a full shift.

      1. Seriously?*

        Yeah. There are two issues. One is whether she is actually reporting only the hours she works and the other is that she runs late which depending on the job may or may not be something that can be accommodated. However, since they already pushed back her start time by 15 minutes to try to accommodate her and she is still late, it suggests that it isn’t going to be particularly fixable.

      2. That Would be a Good Band Name*

        Due to the size of the business, I’m wondering if the employees are paid for 40 hours without using a formal time tracking system. That would make the comments about “docking” pay make more sense. As an hourly, non-exempt employee it wouldn’t be docking her pay if she was only being paid for hours recorded.

        If she is writing down her time and recording that she leaves at 6 when she isn’t actually working for that last hour, I agree that is the much bigger issue.

        1. doreen*

          I’ve always heard “docking pay” used to refer to not being paid for hours that weren’t worked. It’s always been in the context of hourly jobs with a predictable schedule and no actual time clock – but it’s been exclusively that context to the point where I don’t even understand what Alison meant when she said ” You can’t dock her pay for work she’s already performed (that would be illegal)”

          1. Someone Else*

            To me “docking pay” is pretty much always illegal because it implies someone did work but for whatever punishment reasons you’re choose to not pay them for some of it (or for example if you broke something at work and they reduce your pay by the cost of fixing it, which at least where I live, is illegal because stff getting broken sometimes is considered cost of doing business and you can’t charge staff for it). If the OP meant “only paying the employee for hours she actually worked, rather than the hours she were scheduled” then that’s totally legal and what OP should do. The late person is hourly so it’s correct to only pay her for the hours she were actually working. If late person has been reporting on her timesheet that she arrived at her new start time and left at 6, despite arriving even later and stopping working at 5, then it’s not “docking” to not pay her that entire time, it’s correcting invalid time entries.

    9. Akcipitrokulo*

      Or customer facing where you need not to have customers getting an unanswered phone or locked door.

      But non-customer facing? I’d let her make up the time assuming all else is good.

      1. Yojo*

        There’s still consideration of her coworkers. If I had to cover 10+ minutes for someone on the regular and didn’t see her face any consequences, I would not be pleased.

      2. Iris Eyes*

        But she isn’t. She’s hard stopping at 5pm even though she is still in the building. The OP already allowed for making up the time.

        I’m imagining a situation in which the entire office is usually in between 7:30 and 8 and Late Laura is already allowed to start at 9 (ok fine) and then showing up later than that regularly. AND then she isn’t making up the time (but is possibly still clocked in?!)

        1. Mad Baggins*

          This is how I pictured it. Looks like a perfect storm for how to breed resentment among her coworkers.

    10. Burned Out Supervisor*

      Why is it draconian to expect an employee to respect the time of their employer and (possibly) customers? It sounds like this supervisor has given the employee multiple chances to improve in this area and the employee hasn’t been successful. These are the hours that were agreed upon when the staffer was hired and it’s totally reasonable for a manager to set the expectation that everyone will arrive on time on a consistent basis. If everyone else is able to consistently arrive on time, it’s fair to hold this person accountable. If this employee cannot do that, they need to expect that they’ll be disciplined (note that discipline doesn’t always mean firing).

    11. RB Retail*

      It’s astounding how commenters here always seem to assume everyone works in an office, even when the letter writer makes it clear that it’s shift work/customer service/some kind of job that requires coverage. In many, many workplaces, someone arriving 20 minutes late is greatly inconveniencing someone else, whether it’s a coworker or a customer.

      1. Turtle Candle*

        Yeah, it’s funny how “coverage is essential” always gets replied to with “…but probably not…?” I have worked work where coverage was absolutely non critical and I could largely set my own schedule as long as I made it to meetings, but I’ve also worked jobs (grocery store, child care, library desk) where if I didn’t show up on time, other employees would have to stay late, scramble to cover two jobs, or miss breaks. Or something important would be left unattended.

      2. Clorinda*

        I’m a teacher. You can bet hat if I arrived at school 15 minutes late regularly, or even occasionally, I’d be looking for another job in short order. Plenty of people have jobs in which punctuality is an absolute requirement. Nobody wants to deal with what can happen in a class of 30 unsupervised 17-year-olds.

        1. Anne (with an “e”)*

          I am also a teacher. Can you imagine what would happen if school personnel strolled in “whenever”? It always blows my mind that several commenters on this site always assume that only people involved in extreme emergencies/ saving lives need to arrive on time to their jobs. That simply is not the case. I challenge those people to imagine a world where waiters, receptionists, fast food workers, bus drivers, cashiers, teachers, postal workers, bank tellers, concession workers, etc. did not have to report “on time.” Imagine going to the post office to mail a package only to have to wait for thirty minutes or more because nobody had been there open up. Imagine going to McDonald’s only to encounter a similar situation. Etc., etc., etc.

    12. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Conversely, I have been fired for being chronically late for a much smaller period. I’m actually pretty surprised this person hasn’t been fired already. Shifting their start time to make it easier for them to get to work is already much more accommodating than I would expect, especially as I get the impression that this is not a high skilled, hard to replace kind of post.

      I don’t think it’s draconian to expect your employees to meet the terms of their employment. Sure, everyone is late occasionally for various reasons, but coming in late every day is not acceptable to my mind. If I were a coworker I’d be pretty upset that this person was able to get away with this. As I say, I have been that chronically late person and I also blamed it on things like getting a ride with a parent. But I also know that even then I knew it was my own problem, and I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the view that it is unreasonable to expect an employee to stick to the schedule they’ve agreed to.

    13. Bea*

      Nah. There are centres who mark you up if your start is 8 and you clock in at 8:01. They then try to dock your pay saying you started at 8:15. But if you clock in at 7:55 you’re not paid for that extra 5 minutes. Then 3 times and you’re gone.

      So expecting someone to start their shift on time within reasonable few minutes and then realizing that she needs a start time of 15minutes later…only to then still not show up is disregard for your employer and their policies.

      I’ve never had a butts in seats job in my life outside a stint as a temp in my early years. And you’re still expected be a responsible adult who can keep commitments. It’s like showing up 30minutes after your doctor’s appointment and feeling it’s unfair they have to reschedule you. If you do it again, you’ll need to find a new doctor.

      1. Someone Else*

        Yeah, if it were something like…she takes public transport and her options are getting to work at 7:30 or 9:02, so they said fine, we’ll move it to 9:15 for you so you’re not late every day at 9:02, I think that’d be extremely accomodating and nice of the employer. But if after doing so she’s suddenly in at 9:17 every day, this person just can’t manage her time. But in this case it’s not even being stuck with specific train/bus schedules or whatnot. She’s getting a ride. If that ride is constantly making her late, she needs to make other arrangements. She made a commitment to a start time and it’s on her to make sure she meets it. If she can’t then she needs to find a job that doesn’t require coverage and is OK with her showing up at slightly different times every day. She can’t just keep pushing the time out.

    14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      When you do shift work that requires coverage, being late is a big deal. OP isn’t being draconian, and I’m frankly surprised the employee hasn’t already been fired. When I worked at a job with strict start/end times related to coverage, I would have been fired/disciplined after the second tardy arrival.

      OP should also take a look at the extra hour being billed for non-work. Is the employee truly not working and simply waiting for her ride? If so, she shouldn’t be paid for that hour. But if she’s doing low-key work or being less productive (but technically working), then she should be compensated and given clear direction about OP’s expectations for how the employee uses her 5-6 p.m. hour.

    15. Yikes Dude*

      I would be more concerned that she stops working at 5pm and just sits there until 6pm than I would be of someone getting in at 9:30am sometimes.

    16. The Other Dawn*

      It’s not unreasonable to expect employees to come in on time consistently, especially in a position that requires set hours for coverage. Not every company or position has the luxury of being flexible.

    17. AdminX2*

      That’s really disrespectful to everyone who puts in the effort to be responsible and on time. If it’s a flexible start time, then let everyone be flexible. If it’s not, then it’s not. We all have to be late or miss work sometimes, but you can’t take a job that has a hard start time and then be ok.

      My partner is a tutor, not at all saving lives- but it would NOT be ok for him to be 15 minutes late for each of his sessions with kids. And there’s lots of other similar positions.

    18. NotAnotherManager!*

      And letting people just show up whenever they please can also backfire on you – the people who are on time and covering for people who stroll in 15 minutes after whenever you’re expecting them tend to get tired of being taken advantage of by the chronically late. This is awful for morale and relations between coworkers. Being chronically late tells your coworkers that your time is more valuable than theirs.

      With one of my smaller teams, we ended up staggering hours to provide extended coverage and accommodate specific schedule needs. If the early bird isn’t in on time and the late-arriver doesn’t stay late, then we’re not available when our customers expect us to be or someone else has to pick up the slack. Fine when people are sick or on vacation or the metro is on fire, not fine as an everyday occurrence.

      What I’d be looking for from OP1’s employee is either meeting the already-provided schedule adjustment, finding a new way to get to work, or coming up with some other sort of mutually-agreeable solution.

    19. mark132*

      Even if it is draconian and there are no coverage issues as discussed for retail jobs etc, it still doesn’t matter. One of the terms of employment in this case is that the worker is required to arrive on time. They could be stuffing envelopes to go to the mail a month later, it really doesn’t matter. This place requires timely arrival. Whether it makes sense or not is irrelevant.

      And it could backfire, but it sounds like the rest of the employees in this situation seem capable of consistent timeliness, so I suspect it’s not too much of a concern. In fact it could have the opposite effect. The remaining coworkers might not be as irritated at the one coworker who is always late, thus improving morale.

  3. Gaia*

    I feel for the employee in #1, but if her role is one that requires coverage and they’ve already pushed her start time back then something really does need to change.

    I’ve been the person living at home (and dealing with shared ‘getting ready’ resources) and getting rides to work. It was not great, and I had to find often creative ways to make sure I got to work on time. But, most of the time, I did. And when I didn’t, I stayed late to make up that time. I hope it works out for both sides.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’ve been the person living at home (and dealing with shared ‘getting ready’ resources)

      Yep. If I needed to get to work on time, and I shared a bathroom, I just made sure I got up earlier than everyone else. It might mean I spent an hour after I was ready, waiting to go to work, but that’s just something you have to deal with when you share a bathroom. Dealing with getting a ride is harder – if Mom won’t leave the house until 9:00, it doesn’t matter how ready you are.

      1. KHB*

        If she’s absolutely dependent on Mom for transportation, tell her to tell Mom that her start time is now 8:45. See if that helps her arrive by at least 9:00.

        1. mark132*

          It can suck, my kids prefer me to drive them to work rather than their mother, because I have a different sense of timeliness versus her.

      2. Jadelyn*

        Uber/Lyft. Car-sharing services. Walking/biking to work. Public transportation. Carpooling with a coworker if anyone is willing.

        Not all of these may be feasible depending on where the employee lives and works, but if Mom is the bottleneck, the employee needs to investigate alternative transportation, rather than passing the buck and making Mom’s tardiness her employer’s problem.

    2. EPLawyer*

      And thats the other thing. She is there late waiting for her ride but doesnt make up the time by working. Doing that might make e situation better.

      1. Gaia*

        Yep. I managed a customer facing team for years. Most customer facing teams have strict start times. I was fairly flexible with mine (coverage wasn’t an issue for them – we had plenty) because if they were late they made up the time. However, I drew a firm line on one shift because they were the only coverage and if they weren’t there to open, customers went unhelped. That wasn’t okay. But that expectation was set and (of course) if something came up as a fluke I let it go because they were otherwise solid performers and it was never habitual. But had it been habitual, it would have been cause to discuss their fit for the role.

        1. Cat wrangler*

          To me, 15 minutes late after a revised start time IS late and particularly if it’s a recurring event, not an emergency one off. You take the job so it’s your responsibility to get there on time and if you can’t, maybe you should look for another job if you can’t negotiate later start/finish with your employer. It’s also bad for the morale of the other staff if someone is perceived to be allowed to operate by different rulesto the rest of them, and more so if they have to cover tasks for the latecomer.

      2. Alton*

        That part confused me a little because it sounds like coverage in the morning is important, but it also sounds the employee working later would possibly help. I wonder if working a 10-6 schedule is something that’s been considered at all.

        That said, I’m not convinced that it would help if the 9:15 start time didn’t. And the OP isn’t obligated to go out of her way to find hours when her employee can work.

    3. Temperance*

      Presumably, LW#1’s employee is an adult. I would find it pretty juvenile if my employee told me that they couldn’t get to work on time because their parents drive them and they have to share a bathroom with the whole family. That would show an amazing lack of problem-solving ability on their part, and a lack of responsibility.

      1. Riley*

        Sure it’s juvenile but I can see this situation being really common for someone who just graduated from college then moved back home and got a job. Maybe she’s saving up to live on her own and get a car but can’t yet or maybe she’s intentionally living at home so she can put all of her money towards paying off student loans. Regardless, if her arriving late at work is unacceptable then she needs to find a better solution.

      2. krysb*

        Yes, this is something I lack sympathy about. I lived in a town without public transportation and had to pay $8 each way, to and from work by cab to make $6.50 an hour – and I lived on my own and paid all my own bills. I doubt this is an “I can’t” situation.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          I can have sympathy (I was recently in a car accident that totaled my car, and without our emergency fund I would not have been able to get a replacement and would have been stuck with my husband’s lack of time awareness to get me places) but that doesn’t mean I can’t also recognize that this gal’s situation is not working and she needs to be told firmly to figure out another way. I don’t think it has to be either/or.

      3. Mad Baggins*

        This. This sounds like something children in large families figure out as they get ready for school, it shouldn’t be a problem for an adult in the working world (I mean, it might be a problem for them personally, but it’s not going to fly as an excuse at work).

    4. formerly in retail*

      agreed. In high school I shared one bathroom with 6 other people, 4 of whom were teenage girls (i too was a teenage girl). It’s hard as hell and frustrating to have to figure out bathroom arrangements and rides to work when relying on other people, but it IS possible (and I lived in a small town with no public transit) and it is absolutely the responsibility of the employee to sort it out for themselves.
      I’m all for giving people a chance, especially if there are extenuating circumstances, but I think the employee has already received far too much leeway. Also, this may be a good lesson (if this is a young person) for the employee to get that there are consequences at work and you are responsible for super basic things like getting to work on time.

  4. McWhadden*

    Re: the candy LW. The woman in the office across from mine snaps her gum all afternoon long. I know there may be better ways to handle but I think I’ll have to murder her.

          1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

            And full restitution; McWhadden’s best cudgel got dirty and the defendant’s estate should cover cleaning costs.

              1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

                We have several. They’re all waiting in a room. We made sure there were potat0 chips, gum, and Laffy Taffy available if they got hungr-OH CHRIST WHAT HAVE WE DONE

    1. KE*

      “Bernie liked to chew gum. No… not chew. Pop.
      […] So I said to him, Bernie, you pop that gum one more time…

      And he did.”

      This song is going to be stuck in my head all day now…

      1. No Parking or Waiting*

        As I was reading comments, all I could think of was “he ran into my knife five times.”

    2. Slighty Ashamed but the ends have justified the means*

      Because Im a horrible person and my co-worker chomps on Qdoba chips at decibels high enough to be studied by NASA and saying “hey its a little loud when you eat at your cube could you do that in the break room?” was being “mean”. I now have a recording of Cookie Monster on my desktop and when he starts I turn up the volume and play cookie Monster. Much to my delight Chomper has since been eating in an empty conference room, on the downside everyone is calling her cookie Monster.

    3. WellRed*

      Gum. My boss, an otherwise lovely and reasonable person snaps and cracks and pops gum. I mean, she tries to rein in it after I have mentioned it (“gum!”), but yeah, drives me insane. Especially when she pops in a fresh stick as we are sitting down to meet.

      1. Tardigrade*

        My boss, already chewing gum herself before a meeting, asked another coworker “want some gum to smack?” I tried very hard to discover and unleash pyrokenesis on that gum packet.

        1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

          Never mind the innocent gum, I’d have been trying to go full Charlie McGee on the boss and coworker.

      2. McWhadden*

        The woman who is the gum popper is guilty of so many AAM sins. She’s also an incessant talker. And I end up hearing the same story 15 times a day because she tells me and then every other person who walks by. And calling them “stories” really stretches the limits of the word to the extent that implies anything interesting. Plus, she has no sense of personal boundaries at all. Not in a mean way but she’ll ask me questions that are just no appropriate. And I’m a private introvert that would mind all of these things.

        But, strangely enough, I’ve come to be very fond of her. She really is a nice person who genuinely cares about people. I’ll miss her when she’s gone.

  5. Rusty Shackelford*

    She also stays late every evening (til 6 pm), but I found out from her that she does not work past 5 pm and only stays late to wait for her ride.

    Wait – is she on the clock until 6 pm? Or is she supposed to be working past 5 due to her late start, and isn’t actually doing that? If not, I don’t see the problem with this (unless there’s a policy about hanging around off the clock).

    1. KimberlyR*

      I read it as-she comes to work late but isn’t staying late to work, just to wait on her ride. So she isn’t making up the time. I think the point of including that is to show that she’s working less than her 8 hours (or whatever) per day.

    2. Whiskeytangofoxtrot*

      I think OP was suggesting that if she was staying late until 6 working, she might not have such a problem with her being late.

    3. Frank Doyle*

      I don’t know that it’s definitely a problem in an of itself, but she was giving the impression that she was a diligent employee, making up the time she missed by being late, and that turned out to . . . not be the case.

      1. I'd Rather Not Say*

        I found this a bit unclear, too. I read it as her volunteering the information to the boss, at which point, it’s the boss’s responsibility to indicate she if she prefers the employee to work past 5 to make up the time. It sounds like the employee might be young, so she may be assuming she’s not supposed to be working past 5 (her assigned time). Or she may believe that since she’s been given a favor with a later start time, she can’t ask for another (working later to make up the time).

        1. Someone Else*

          I originally read it as “she’s marking her timesheet as leaving at 6”, which if she’s only supposed to do a 30 minute lunch break might mean she’s incurring small amounts of unapproved overtime daily, but then when pressed, she admitted she wasn’t staying later and working that entire time, she was stopping when her shift ended (presumably 5). If so then there’s a whole different discussion about time entry. But it’s ambiguously written so maybe it is just that at first it seemed like she was staying later to finish work, but was clocked out at 5 and when questioned explained she was just waiting for her ride so what could’ve seemed like some extra dilligence wasn’t? It’s unclear to me the significance of the 5p-6p hour, but there are a handful of different readings that all make the late person look worse in various ways.

    4. Kate R*

      I had questions about this too. Is she being paid for this hour? If she is getting paid, then I think it’s fair to tell her she needs to work that hour. And if there’s some other confusion, like the other employee is leaving early because she thinks the late employee has everything covered, but the late employee actually does NOT have it covered, I think that’s a fair discussion too. But if she’s just hanging out for her ride to come, but not getting paid, I’m not really sure what the problem is.

    5. Lora*

      I read it as staying clocked in on her time card until 6. If that’s true, it’s fraud and the employee should be fired immediately. That is a much bigger issue than starting late.

  6. Never Get the Time Back*

    letter 2 – Ask to go to the concert,, your child will never be 3 ever again and doing their first Christmas concert at school. If your workplace has any kind of decent people working there they will understand that sometimes timing just sucks and that it doesn’t reflect upon you as a worker, to acknowledge that with young children it matters to them to see mummy or daddy there and you wont ever get another chance with that child for the same kind of bonding and interaction.

    Very much against Alison’s advice here, I feel its typical of older style thinking where children were considered not important. They are and things like this matter! Not just to you (clearly) but to them to and many of them do remember it

        1. Jadelyn*

          In general, you’d be right, but when you’re talking about someone who’s brand new at their job, it’s very human for the manager to wonder if this is a one-off because their baby is doing something important, or if this is the start to a very bad pattern of absenteeism. I think it would be a bit overkill to outright say no, but I absolutely understand the side-eyeing, and I think that’s the concern Alison was expressing. When your manager knows nothing about you yet, you risk getting off on the wrong foot when you ask for something like this on literally day 2 of your new job. You might be the most conscientious and punctual person on the planet, but you set yourself an uphill battle to establish that reputation if you start off with taking time off two days in.

        2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

          Plenty of recitals for children. If I hired someone and they asked on day two for time off, unless sick or someone dying or other emergency, I’d say no and be very critical of employee for awhile.

          1. STOP*

            So you’d be judgemental about a parent asking to see their kid’s first recital? A 3 year old? It’s not even time off. Just heading out early. This makes me very critical of you.

            1. AnonNurse*

              I actually would judge it and I have 2 kiddos. I love to be at every event possible but the 3-year-old isn’t going to remember whether or not mom/dad is there. Maybe a family member or friend could go and record it. Seriously, there will be a million more and it’s not the end of the world. Making a good impression at a new job is much more important.

    1. Iamverybusy*

      Agreed- ask now early, give fair warning. Unless suddenly this person is going to leave every afternoon early it’s just one day. So what it’s the first week. If you ask early they can prepare they can also say no if it’s not possible. If it’s anything like any of the workplaces I’ve been at they’ll still be trying to get IT sorted on the second day and will have run out of things to tell you. I mean this will be around Christmas? This will be lots of time for them to prepare for an afternoon…

    2. SarahKay*

      Seconded on the “Ask to go to the concert”. Granted, my workplace prides itself on flexibility, but this is the sort of thing no-one would even blink at on my site.

    3. LSP*

      There’s no harm in asking, especially if it’s framed like: “I know it will only be my second day, and I completely understand if it won’t work, but I just found out my 3 year old’s pre-school is doing a Christmas concert, and it would mean a lot to me to be able to go. Again, I completely understand if that won’t work given the timing, but I wanted to ask.”

      These kinds of things mean more to parents than to the kids, who won’t even remember the event, but if it means enough that the OP wrote in to an advice column about it, I think it’s worth bringing up with her new employer, as long as she makes it clear she understands that it might be a no-go. Besides, if it’s that close to the holidays, the new employer may be extra understanding, as a lot of people have personal obligations that time of year.

      1. Andy*

        I really think that there is potential harm. It is not true that there are no wrong questions. It is the case that a question can be so tone deaf, so mistimed, that it irreparably harms a work situation and there is absolutely no way to know in this situation if that’s the case.

    4. RabbitRabbit*

      We don’t know that no parent will be there, only LW#1 stated wanting to be there.

      My first thought was, the kid is only 3, it’s only preschool, and it’s the second day of work for a major job change. There will be plenty of other opportunities to see various precious moments at school without LW making a name for themselves as being unable to understand professional norms.

      1. Jenna Maroney*

        I’d think my employers would look bad if they DIDN’T let me go. They’re on a probationary period with me too, know what I’m sayin?

        1. Justin*

          …and if you were to (as seems to be implied) quit over this, would that lost income not be a problem for said children?

          That said, my first day I needed to get home because I had just moved and the internet people were coming. I apologized, they let me go, and I mentally said I am not asking for a single thing for a long while.

          If they had said no, it would have depended on how it was said if I would get upset about it.

        2. Elspeth*

          The employers still have a business to run – while some companies would be OK with the parent leaving early, others may not be so accomodating. It depends on the job, the coverage needed, etc.

        3. Lynn*

          It’s not high school graduation or even a parent-teacher conference, it’s a holiday concert. By asking to leave hours early on your second day for a non-critical event, you’re sending the message that you expect to leave hours early on a regular basis for child related activities. The LW also said she’s going to be a manager. If any of her direct reports ask permission to leave early for a non-critical personal manner, there’s going to be a lot of resentment if they are denied.

          1. Killjoy*

            Yes indeedy. Often I feel some parents feel ‘entitled’ to just getting work off for kids related stuff whether large small or unplanned. If it’s an emergency, I get it, can’t be helped. If it’s a special whatever that you knew about well in advance and asked for time off for then sure, but turning up on your second day and wanting the afternoon off for a 3 year olds play when one parent will already be there, ummm, no sorry, opening the door to the expectation that these sort of requests will be granted in future.

            I wonder if me requesting to take an afternoon off to go to my greyhound’s doggie playgroup event which has been in the works for weeks would be as well received as when parents forget about their kids whatever event and just zoom out the door saying they’re ducking out to drop their kid at soccer or whatever. For those of us who choose not to have kids these sort of flexible parent accommodations (when they are not extended to others) become old real fast.

            1. Izzy*

              “If it’s a special whatever that you knew about well in advance and asked for time off for then sure”

              …but that’s exactly what’s being described in the post? It’s a special event* that the OP is asking for time off for weeks in advance. She’s not saying she plans to roll up on day two and be like “oh sorry forgot I had a thing kthxbye”.

              *I know that there’s a lot of disagreement that this counts as special, but I do think that something like this is a degree more special than soccer practice.

      2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

        Would it really? I’m both a parent and someone who just started a new job, so maybe I’m being a total softie, but my assumption is that someone in a new position is obviously going to have pre-existing commitments, and unless I needed them for coverage I’d probably shrug and go “whatever.”

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          Yep. You’ve just started? I’m not going to be shocked by a pre-existing commitment or two (it’s a standard question to ask when getting dates down anyway.)

          And it’s only day 2 – it’s not like you’re going to be indispensable by then in most jobs. And if you are (Christmas rush or something), if I were the boss, I’d be apologetic we couldn’t work it out, rather than thinking badly of employee.

          1. Elspeth*

            Yeah, you’re right, I should have revised that comment to read that I may be giving the employee side-eye, but not necessarily think badly of them.

        2. Seriously?*

          No matter what the request is going to affect everyone’s opinion of them. No one knows then yet so this is one of the first pieces of information that they will have. Some people won’t care. Some may be happy to see that the OP values work-life balance and cares about her kid. However, some may be concerned about her commitment and reliability, especially if they are old school. Hopefully any negative opinions will be changed in time assuming she doesn’t often ask to leave early, but since she also doesn’t know them she has no way to know which response is likely. Asking is a risk and she is the only one who can say whether that risk is worth it to her.

          1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

            I mean, you’re not wrong, but I think it’s possible to overstate the stakes here. In general, I think it’s safe to assume that this will be received as trivial and that it will not linger in most or all people’s impressions.

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

              What stakes? Plenty of recitals to come and not as if kiddo will remember. But the employees will as will the company. This isn’t an emergency and wasn’t brought up in job negotiations. Yeah, I wouldn’t take the risk. (And OP is a supervisor).

              1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

                I mean the stakes of whether “the employees will as will the company.” This isn’t “I want to take a week off because my cichlid is mourning the death of my angelfish,” this is “can I take a couple hours to do a thing with my kid.” Only lunatics would nurse a grudge over leaving early for a thing.

                You bring up major absences in job negotiation, not leaving a bit early.

                1. Lynn*

                  I was pressured to return to work after emergency surgery in advance of what my doctor recommended. When that same supervisor gave no push back to coworkers for anything child related….. let’s just say it’s a resentment I still carry.

                2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

                  Obviously that’s a terrible request and never should have been made of you, but I’m not seeing how it connects.

              2. Izzy*

                The OP still has two weeks until they start the job – if they ask now then that’s plenty of time for the employer to arrange coverage if that’s necessary to the role. And even if the kid won’t remember, it’s obviously important enough to the OP that they wrote to AAM about it! The employer may very well refuse, but I just don’t see the harm in simply asking the question.

                As for the coworkers’ opinions, I think it would be truly, exceptionally petty for someone to hold a request (a request that might not even be granted!) for a few hours off to attend a child’s recital against a new colleague. What, are they going to get sent down the salt mines if OP isn’t there to cover?

                1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

                  This is kind of where I’m coming from. I guess it’s my general position that adults got adulting things that come up – picking people up from the airport, errand to run, person coming to fix the thing, kid’s recital, oil change, whatever – and unless they’ve demonstrated themselves willing to abuse others’ goodwill and time, and unless coverage is necessary, the flexibility to take care of that stuff can be the difference between job satisfaction and job hunting. And I assume that if it’s important enough to make the ask, it’s important enough; why litigate it?

                2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

                  Would you be accepting as someone going to their puppy day care or rescue animal show? This is not an emergency, this is a new jo, and unless OP plans on giving her empoyees a lot of flex time, I can see the resentment now.

            2. Killjoy*

              Unless this is an accommodation frequently granted to the parent staff while non parent staff have to claw and make a case for why they should enjoy similar flexibility. As long as certain staff aren’t given a golden ticket for this sort of stuff, that’s okay. Just be sure all receive the same flexibility and not let your parent tinted glasses lead you to treating staff requests for time off differently.

          2. Joielle*

            Agreed. I can imagine that at three years old, just starting preschool, everything feels like an important milestone to OP… but realistically, there are lots of concerts and recitals and conferences and field trips just around the corner, and personally I wouldn’t risk this request. Hopefully OP has done their due diligence during the interview process and knows that this company is flexible for family stuff and this would be fine, but if OP isn’t sure, maybe best to err on the side of not taking time off your first couple of weeks at a new job.

        3. Emily K*

          The issue in my workplace would be that a person’s first 3-4 days are spent largely in meetings and training sessions to get them oriented to the workplace, get their HR stuff taken care of, and get them introduced to their team and others they’ll be working with. A lot of these meetings can involve multiple people – new hires have an HR benefits orientation that is scheduled to batch all employees starting within 1-2 weeks of each other so that HR only has to give the orientation once every few weeks at most instead of every time someone new starts, and it’s common to have, for instance, the social media coordinator meet with her boss and the social community manager individually because she’ll work closely with each of them every day, but she’ll meet the communications team and the digital marketing team as groups because she won’t and there’s no need for one-on-ones with all of them. If I find out on Day 1 or even just beforehand that she’s going to miss the second half of Day 2, that would likely require me to reschedule meetings with multiple people who are hard to pin down all at the same time.

        4. zipzap*

          Yes, I think it’s fine for the person to ask to leave early, but obviously she needs to be very gracious if that request is denied. I know some folks who have missed important family events (ok, I know this isn’t a wedding or graduation) for work-related reasons and they both regret not being at the family event. They’re not thinking, “Thank God I went to that meeting!” I think if she’s asking a few weeks ahead of time to leave early to go to her kid’s recital, even on her second day, it’s not going to reflect badly on her.

    5. KE*

      I think there’s ways of doing it that could be OK, like another parent or special adult in the child’s life attending and filming it and making it special, and then you sitting with the child that night and making a big deal about getting to watch the recording with them (multiple times?) and letting them tell you all about it and act some of it out again.

      Realistically, no parent can actually make it to every special moment. I think it’s important to be there for as much as possible, but if you can’t be there, there are ways of making the child still feel loved and important. I don’t think it was your intention, but it feels like you’re putting a tonne of pressure on this one moment, and it feels like recipe for shaming the parents who legitimately cannot go to events (like OP2).

      My parents worked their butts off to support us when my brother and I were kids, and they couldn’t make it to everything, but I never once considered that they thought me unimportant or less important than my friends whose parents had more flexibility in their schedules. They more than made up for the events they missed with their love, support, and attention.

      1. Anonymous Engineer*

        It can be a good teaching moment for a kid, too. Maybe a 3-year-old won’t get it, but an older kid can start learning that prioritizing is complicated and sometimes we can choose the very important family event and sometimes we have to sacrifice that for work. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love our families.

        1. BottleBlonde*

          I just want to note that a three-year-old definitely won’t get it, and I’d actually caution against using this type of reasoning unless the child was much older. If I needed to skip the concert, I would focus more on something positive (how excited I was to watch the recording, how great Dad said the kid sounded, something like that). Not saying that it’s not important for children to learn about sacrifices (it definitely is!) but the added emotional charge could make this a tricky conversation for a child whose brain hasn’t developed enough to understand complex reasoning.

      2. Mad Baggins*

        Thank you for this kind and grounded comment. There are many parents who can’t make recitals and non-crucial events for loads of reasons, and it doesn’t mean they’ve missed their kid growing up. I worked summer camp and we had “recital” performances every Friday, there were plenty of chances to see 3-year-olds struggle to remember the lyrics to “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.

    6. Andy*

      OK, I disagree with you NGTTB and agree with Alison. I have small kids, and it’s true that they’ll only be that small once, but sometimes you need to prioritize the job IN ORDER TO prioritize the kids. For me, making sure I’m well thought of at my job is my way of making sure that I can provide for my kids. It’s a battle vs. war situation.
      And there really really really is harm in ‘just asking’ in so many situations and you just DO NOT KNOW on your first or second day if this is something that will immediately be noticed, remarked upon, and lead to a negative view of your work. I truly think that by sticking the word ‘just’ in front of it we are minimizing the potential impact. There is no way to know if this will be a catastrophic mistake, and small things can be catastrophic when it comes to new work relationships where they have so few data points on you.

      1. Secretary*

        It’s true that kids need to be prioritized, but also the OP needs to keep this job in order to support her kid financially. If this concert was such a big deal, the OP would probably have known about it prior to getting the job.
        Also, the kid is 3 years old. Not missing her second day of work and missing one concert out of the myriad of school events is not going to scar the kid for life. The child is 3! Probably won’t even remember. That goes double if Dad goes.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          That toddler is definitely not going to remember long-term that their mom wasn’t in the audience. What they probably WILL remember (at least for a week) is OP taking them out to ice cream or something similar as a celebratory treat when she gets home from work.

      2. JustaCPA*


        I’m a parent and a boss and I can tell you for a 3 year old’s Christmas concert, if you were my employee, you would get serious side eye if you asked this of me. I would say yes (most likely because in my line of work “coverage” is not critical) but it would be some time and with some effort for me to feel “good” about my decision to hire you.

          1. Andy*

            for me, I actually wouldn’t, but I have to acknowledge that the world doesn’t agree and wehn talking to other parents I’m super careful to distinguish between what I personally care about and what I know others care about.
            Example: I believe a kid can safely wait in a car for a parent to run into a 7-11 or starbucks
            BUT I know that women have been charged with various levels of crimes and been made to jump through DCF hoops because of situations just like that.
            I think that’s crazy-town, but it’s also reality and it’s best to be aware of reality lest you bang your kid’s head up against it.

            1. pcake*

              Andy, I used to feel the same way about your example. Then one day a close friend ran into the dry cleaners to pick up her laundry, and since she didn’t want to wake the baby, she locked him in the car. In less than 2 minutes – 2 – her car was stolen along with her baby sleeping in the back seat. After a horrendous 40 minutes, she got a call from the police – her car had stopped, someone had put the baby in the baby seat with the baby bag into someone’s driveway and peeled out. Thank goodness!

              1. Andy*

                That sounds terrifying. I sincerely hope your friend is ok and it’s not surprising at all that her experience jumped to mind.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I’d care. I’d think it showed bad judgment to want to take time off for something so optional in her first few days, and I’d be concerned that it was to be the start of problems with how she prioritized her job. I’d have that worry in the back of my head for a while until seeing it wasn’t true.

            Same thing would be true if it was “my spouse got us tickets to a baseball game” or anything else that wasn’t medical/other higher-level importance.

            1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

              That’s fair, I suppose, and I can see those worries cropping up for me in slightly different circumstances – leaving a bit early is feeling different to me than, say, taking a day, and the fact that it’s a pre-existing family commitment from before the job started is feeling different than “oh hey, gotta leave early to pick up the dry cleaning.”

            2. STOP*

              But shes not even asking to miss the whole day. Just leave a tad earlier on that one day to see her child perform. To hold something like this against someone “for a while” seems so off to me.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                It’s not holding it against her; it’s being worried about something. And if she then needs to stay home with her sick kid the next week (which could happen!) or otherwise has a genuine emergency come up, now I’m going to be worried it’s a pattern, in a way I wouldn’t be if the concert request hadn’t happened.

                When you start a new job, you’re an unknown quantity. People have few data points about you, so the ones they get count more. And it’s generally understood that you don’t take time off for non-crucial things in your first week or two. So yes, I’d have the worry in my head.

                1. Zombeyonce*

                  It’s also likely enough that OP will have things scheduled during that time she wants to take off that she won’t know about until she starts. At my company, your entire first day is spent in company-wide orientation, and your second day is in the department orientation where you meet the execs and coworkers, sometimes in small groups. It would be a really big deal to miss all that.

              2. Arjay*

                I’m not seeing where it’s a “tad” early. The OP doesn’t specify how early. If the 90 minutes away from the preschool is a clue, she’d probably need to leave close to or more than 2 hours early to get there, park, get a seat, etc., depending on when the show actually starts. If it’s earlier than 5pm, add that time on too. It sounds like a significant amount of time to me.

                1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

                  On the flipside, it could be at, say, 5:30pm, and she’s just hoping to leave at 3:30 rather than 4. This is kind of an imponderable.

                2. Mad Baggins*

                  Based on my experience with preschools, events are usually not that late in the day. Some of the places I worked went until 3pm followed by optional late programs. We will never know the exact time but this background made me think she would have to leave a good bit early.

    7. Amelia*

      I have an almost 3 year old and I disagree. There are so many myriad kids’ events every year. For me, this month, we have

      – a school field trip to an apple orchard (first time he’s been to one)
      – the first Halloween where he ‘gets’ it
      – his 3 year old party – one at school, one at home
      – some art fair at school
      – Parent’s Day

      And pretty much every month is like this. I don’t think it makes sense to get overly invested in these individual events. Parents just can’t go to everything and many of them really aren’t that important in the scheme of things.
      If your kid is loved, cuddled and gets plenty of your attention in general, they will likely be just fine.

      1. Nita*

        It really depends. With my kids these concerts were a huge deal, and they would prepare for literally 2-3 months. It’s not easy for a three-year-old to memorize several songs and dances. My husband did skip one of the kids’ first concerts for the exact same reason as OP, but I was there so we didn’t think it’s a good idea for him to ask at work. If I couldn’t come either, he might have tried to make it work. The couple of kids who had no one come were crushed… it was totally understandable the parents could not come, but their absence was definitely felt.

        If it was any old class trip, I’d say it’s not worth even asking. Or if it was a once-a-year concert, but another family member could be there. If it’s a big deal though, maybe OP should ask, but be clear that this is something that happens once in a blue moon and be willing to take “no” for an answer.

        1. Amelia*

          I would honestly be concerned if my preschool was devoting months and months to preparing for a single event, especially if it were held mid-day, which excludes a lot of working adults. That’s a lot of pressure on kids and parents.

          I attended our school’s summer concert this year. It involved some kids silently swaying, one kid crying, a teacher filling in for an absent kid, my kid was jumping up and down a lot while occasionally finding the beat and right steps. It was adorable and completely age appropriate. But not something that I’d have taken off for on my 2nd day of a new job. But that’s me.

          1. Nita*

            Nah, they fold the preparation into music/dance lessons they do anyway, so it’s not like they’re drilling the kids. Not everyone is into the performance part. For some kids, the highlight is just that they get presents. And some love performing, especially the older kids – it’s a three-to-five group. I agree it’s a lot of pressure that it’s held during the day. They’ve done it on Saturday some years, but it doesn’t always work out (probably depends on the music teacher’s schedule). It’s only once a year with lots of advance notice, though.

          2. Killjoy*

            Especially months and months for a 3 year olds play, much rather they teach them the Alphabet, reading, writing, practical skills etc. Are they really going to be able to do much else other than run around in a sunflower costume kinda singing a song or two? Don’t mean to sound harsh but watching my cousins at 3, I’d be amazed to find out they’d been in some play. Save that for maybe 6 and up.

        2. Coffee*

          If it was a huge deal she would’ve known when she was taking the job and could have got it on the record that she was leaving early.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, if it were a huge deal, the school would have given them more notice. Since they didn’t…

        3. Exhausted Trope*

          I totally get that, Nita. I still remember a big school concert I had in the first grade. Neither of my parents came and it wasn’t because of work. It was pretty traumatic for me. I’ve seldom felt so unloved since and I’m 53 now.

      2. Turtle Candle*

        This is part of where I’m coming from. Oftentimes kids got A LOT of stuff; more than a working parent can attend. An established employee who I know picks and chooses? No problem, go. A new employee, though, I’ll be wondering if they want time off weekly for it—which, as you note, isn’t an exaggeration. There is probably something to go to pretty darn frequently. And that’s the issue on day two of work.

    8. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      This is anecdotal evidence, but I had a job with 24×7 on-call support responsibilities from the time my children were 4.5 and 7, to when they were 11 and 13. I missed A LOT of their school and other events that fell on my on-call weeks. They are now 23 and 25. I am still beating myself up for having missed their events. They on the other hand, either have no recollection of the events or of me not being there, or think that it was not a big deal. Either way no lasting trauma appears to have been caused to them because of it.

      In OP’s case, given that she’s new and the managers do not know her, I think I probably would not even ask, because I’d be worried about giving my manager a reason to be concerned that this is the first request of many more to come (given that preschoolers and elementary school students DO have a lot of events).

      1. MK*

        My own expierience as a child supports this. I had a mother who didn’t work and came to everything and a father who worked long hours and came on very few occasions. I didn’t care either way, except to sometimes feel suffocated by my mum, and barely remember it now.

        I think a lot of things that people frame in their minds as “prioritising my kids” really is “prioritising my expierience as a parent”. Also, that most kids don’t actually want their parents there for every minute of their childhood, or at least they wouldn’t if society/films/other parents didn’t use “attending X school event” as shorthand for “how much does your parent care for you”.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Also, that most kids don’t actually want their parents there for every minute of their childhood

          This is a bit offtopic, because I was 16 then, but my high-school class was going to go on an overnight camping trip. All of a sudden, both my parents volunteered to go as chaperones. They’d never done it before or after. Within two or three days of me finding out, before I could even explain to myself why I was doing it, I went and got a doctor’s note excusing me from the trip. Did not go on that trip. Everyone else said they had a great time, but I honestly felt that I had no other choice than to miss the trip, with both my parents being there.

          1. PhyllisB*

            It’s funny you say that; because when my children were in elementary school they wanted me there for EVERYTHING. That’s how one year I ended up homeroom mother for three different teachers even though I worked. Luckily I worked a job where I could adjust/change my hours if I had enough notice. (Long distance telephone operator) but even then I had to miss some things. However, once they hit middle school/high school they wanted to pretend I didn’t exist. They would “allow” me to go to the first PTA/PTO meeting of the year, but they begged me not to sign up for anything. I am now raising a middle-school grand-son, and he brought me a note from the PTO asking for parental involvement, and he wants me to actually PARTICIPATE!! So of course I will. All I’m saying in this is, you never know how involved your kids wants you to be.

        2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

          “Also, that most kids don’t actually want their parents there for every minute of their childhood, ”

          This is true for, say, 6-10 year olds, and obvious for 10-18 year olds. At 3-4, my kid would very happily spend his every waking – hell, nonwaking too – moment on his mom’s lap, or mine in a pinch.

      2. Anonymous Engineer*

        My dad traveled for work 4 nights a week and was never there for any weekday school concerts, field trips, parents’ nights, etc. It was just the facts of life with his job. It wasn’t a big deal to me then and it doesn’t matter to me now.

      3. hbc*

        Yeah, kids will adapt. If my parents had been sitting home on their butts and not shown up to watch me, I probably would have been sad. But given I had three siblings and they both had jobs, there was no way they were going to make it to every concert, race, or awards ceremony.

        Also, most kids really don’t care if there’s full representation at that age. Though they might if you make sad faces and apologize over and over again. Draw a picture of yourself they can put in their pocket or something and have them do a special encore for you at home or something, and treat it like just as a fact of life that not everyone can come to everything.

      4. Emily K*

        My mom also occasionally expresses motherhood-related guilt that I find bizarre. I had a very happy childhood and reassure her of this frequently, and she still seems to regret things like that she ever left the house to go on dates with my stepdad after her and my dad divorced or that she couldn’t afford me to be involved in MULTIPLE after-school activities like some of my wealthier dual-income household friends. I’m pretty sure I didn’t even resent that at the time, let alone now as an adult.

    9. Hiring Mgr*

      Maybe I’m just used to laid back work environments, but I can’t at all see why it would be that big of a deal to ask, even on the second day–especially if OP is clearing it more than a week in advance. Unless there’s some sort of offsite or formal training they need to attend, why would the company care? FWIW I would approve this without thinking for one of my folks

      1. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

        Same. It’s just not that weighty a request. It’s a couple hours, at most, right? BFD.

        1. Lynn*

          Totally depends on corporate culture, but if other new employees were denied time off/away during their first few months as that’s the policy, it likely wouldn’t sit well with her new supervisees. Sends a message that LW, as the boss, gets to do what she wants but others may not get to.

            1. Sarah N*

              That’s kind of the whole point though — on Day 2 the OP won’t know anything about corporate culture and norms around time off. That’s a major reason why it’s wise to keep any Week 1 and Week 2 absences to absolute necessities, because you haven’t yet gotten a chance to learn all the company policies (both informal and formal), norms, general attitudes and practices, etc. Once you’ve been there a bit longer, you may well find that this sort of thing is perfectly fine, but you can’t yet know that before you start work/on Day 2.

        2. Someone Else*

          I think if she’s asking about it now for a thing not happening for a few months and happens to fall on her second day, it’s a pretty reasonable ask as long as she asks in a way that’s understanding if they feel the need to say no. Like you said earlier, pre-existing commitments. If she’s planning to wait until day 1 and say btw tomorrow I have this thing that’d look a lot worse because it’s just inconsiderate timing to be last minute about it. I’m not sure why but the letter first gave me the impression she wasn’t planning to bring it up until day 1, and that I would definitely frown upon.

    10. pleaset*

      A pre-K concert? The child won’t remember it in a few years, and you can ask other parents to share video if you like. It’s important to go to some events so the child feels valued, but any particular one didn’t seem important to me when my child was in pre-k a few years ago.

    11. Undine*

      As a supervisor, she also has to model the behavior she expects from those she supervises. If my new supervisor takes off her second day to see her kid in a concert, I am absolutely going to hope/expect that time is going to be very flexible for me as well. And maybe resent it if it isn’t. Until she knows the ropes, she should err on the side of not giving herself more leeway than she thinks she can give to her reports.

    12. Yojo*

      There isn’t just the manager to consider–if I was LW’s new coworker, I would be looking askance.

      It’s such a non-vital thing to attend–and there are so many touchy-feely milestones in a young child’s life–that I would wonder how many fluff events my new coworker would want to take time off for and how much special treatment they would expect as a parent.

      I am, A) not a parent, and, B) kind of a jerk–but I doubt I’d be alone in this opinion.

      1. Andy*

        I AM a parent and ALSO yes a bit jerky, and I agree regardless. Esp. as there are SO MANY sick days I have to take because a kid is sick. Taking time for something like this right off the bat significantly reduces the good will in the bank I’m going to draw from because my kids can’t NOT get sick.

      2. Captain Planet (nee Snark)*

        There are so many Fs to give about things that actually merit it, I just cannot understand why this is a thing you’d give one for. Why would you be looking at it at all, askance or otherwise? Why would something like this even merit notice, let alone cognition, let alone wondering about the future?

            1. Nox*

              I think its down to the individual person, some people this stuff matters more to vs to other people. I wouldn’t judge anyone for asking and I’d avoid negging on it saying it’s not important like was done in the AAM response inadvertently. Its subjective so I think asking wouldn’t hurt.

              I also come from a relaxed call center environment so my views are different.

            1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesInYourHouse*

              Probably more like a half day. And yeah–even two hours. This is a non emergency and you’re on Day 2.

        1. Emily K*

          The reality is that people notice when a teammate isn’t there, and in a lot of offices there are norms around not taking PTO while you’re still in training unless it’s a really exceptional/once-in-a-lifetime situation (death in the family, pre-planned/pre-cleared honeymoon, kid graduating college out of town, etc). In a lot of workplaces you can’t even take leave until you accrue it which means it’s a week or two before you even have a half-day of leave to take. Coming in brand new and not understanding/flaunting those norms will be something people notice.

          And the things people notice about you in those first few days have an outsized influence on how they begin to perceive you. First impressions and all that – when people only have a few data points to go on they have more weight. If you miss 1/2 of your first 5 days, does that mean you typically miss 1/2 of 30 days and it happened to fall in the first 5 days you were there, or does it mean you typically miss a 1/2 day every week or every other week?

          It’s generally better, if you have the option, to make a great, solid first impression in the first couple of weeks that you can trade on in a month or two for some flexibility than to come in as an unproven new person asking for flexibility and then having to work extra hard for the next several months to prove that your first week was unusual.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        I am a parent. I do not like parent friendly policies that exclude non parents from the same perks or that expect people will work holidays/stay late/cover/etc. simply because a coworker chose to procreate.

        There will be tons of child things over the years. I think OP needs to choose her battles. I get it. She wants to see her kid be adorable but Dad will be there and can record it for her.

    13. Kara*

      I’ve been to many a 3 year old’s Christmas Concert, and I would happily pay to have an excuse to never have to attend another. My cherubs are lovely creatures, but school concerts are a punishment reserved for a terrible level of hell.

      1. terminally dull*

        I’m not a parent but this was my first thought. Three year olds trying to sing would have me begging to work so I didn’t have to go. The elementary school concerts I went to (family member) were bad enough.

    14. Whoa.*

      Can I just say this thread is so frustrating? What you value as a parent is different from what others value as a parent. We’re all just trying to do our best and it’s saddening to see so many otherwise lovely commenters scoffing at others choices.

      I think Alison did a good job at clearly laying out the risk of asking. But whether or not you ask should depend on your values against those risks.

      (And for those who would roll their eyes – no, I wouldn’t take the risk. But that’s me not OP)

    15. Nacho*

      Asking for time off for a 100% optional kid’s event 2 days into your job sets the tone that you’re going to be cutting out early for your kid more often than appropriate, and that you don’t understand how often it’s appropriate to take time off from work to do kid things.

      You don’t want to be the coworker who’s always asking for time off to go to her kid’s recital or sports game or any of the other hundred things kids do. Nobody likes that coworker.

      1. Rocky*

        Yep. I’m a parent of three. I need my goodwill points for the inevitable illness or emergency, and a 3-year-old’s concert is not the hill I’d want to die on.

    16. L.T.*

      I don’t have kids but if I were in this situation, I’d still ask, but with greater context. It’s not just “I’m new to this job and I need to leave early to make it to my kid’s concert.” Maybe say “I recognize that I’m still new here and this may be too much of me to ask, but my kid is having a concert and I was hoping to step out early to attend it. [with the optional] If it’s acceptable, can I work late on a different day (or come in earlier)? (assuming you have the proper arrangements at home to be able to do this and that this is a thing that the office will allow)”
      I get that Alison wants you to build up “capital” so that you can demonstrate yourself as a reliable employee who isn’t prone to absenteeism, and that might be the case here, but it’ll just take longer for you to build up that rapport.

      1. L.T.*

        On the other hand (and after this I’m done with my comments), my first day at my current job was entirely about orientation and getting to know the company and filling out paperwork for health insurance, etc. So my second day was actually my “first” day on the job, so yeah, I can see that as being weird if I had to ask to leave early. I’m sure this is less common and more particular to my situation, but on my first day I wasn’t even in the building I would be stationed in, so I really didn’t meet my coworkers until Day 2. I guess it’s a matter of what OP prioritizes, and what is within control to change (e.g. if the other parent is available to step in for OP).

  7. Madeleine Matilda*

    I read “A woman who recently joined our office sucks on candies all day long…” as “A woman who recently joined our office sucks on CANDLES all day long…” I couldn’t figure out why anyone would suck on candles, then realized I had misread the question (It might have helped had I put on my reading glasses). D’oh!

    1. Green Cheese Moon*

      You know, those vanilla-latte-pumpkin spice candles that are all the rage. I’d take a candle-sucker over a candle-burner any day.

  8. Turquoisecow*

    OP2, I feel for you, but a preschool concert wouldn’t really feel important enough to me to leave work early over. If it was a twelve year old’s piano recital that they’d practiced for for months, I might be more sympathetic, but concerts with preschoolers are kind of disorganized and don’t really require a lot of talent. If you were an established employee, I could see it, but leaving early on your second day of work doesn’t usually look good unless it’s an emergency of some kind.

    I know this is unfair to parents, and maybe your preschooler will be upset you’re not there, but the harsh truth is that when you’re a new employee, you need to show that you’re interested and invested in learning your job and getting into the culture, and skipping out for a preschooler’s Christmas concert doesn’t send that message.

    1. CaitlinM*

      I have a toddler and I agree with this. There will be many more “holiday” concerts. Also, does the child have another parent or loved one who could go instead?

    2. Sandman*

      I tend to agree. It would be a bummer to miss the concert, but parents can’t reasonably make it to every single one of our children’s events – I’ve been home with kids and have still missed a handful of things. At that age, how you frame it to your child makes a tremendous difference in how they experience it. It really will be okay.

    3. Yorick*

      That’s what I was thinking. This doesn’t sound like a super important event to me. If OP2 weren’t new, she could probably go and people would likely not find it odd. But when you don’t know an employee yet, you don’t know if they’re gonna be out every time their kid has some small event.

    4. Lehigh*

      Agreed. I don’t have tons of kid experience so take this with a grain of salt, but from what I remember from my own life and family members, the kid who loves performing will probably be more than psyched to recreate the whole thing for you later that night (at your request) and the kid who doesn’t probably doesn’t much care if you make it anyway, especially if another adult (other parent, family friend, aunt, etc.) is able to make it.

      1. Turquoisecow*

        I think the kid might be upset in the moment, especially if Mom previously came to all such events (although idk how many there have been since the kid is 3), but if they have someone in the audience from their team – Dad, grandparents, Aunt/Uncle, close family friend – that will help.

        In a few years? They won’t remember. It’s certainly not going to ruin their childhood or make them think you’re the worst Mom Ever. They’re 3.

    5. mark132*

      I’m having flashbacks to attending school concerts. Two hours of kids murdering classics. The horror.


  9. Darjeeling*

    For OP4, I think the interactive resume would be a great if it were a portfolio for a web design / graphic design company on top of a normal resume you submit over.

    Just to give my two cents though, sometimes you never know what kind of computers and internet connection your targeted company has. In my current company, we are all given ultra BASIC laptops with no frills and memory so to speak. Sometimes when I go to websites with just one too many ads the whole machine crawls to a halt. If your resume gets sent to a company like mine I can very easily see the HR person giving up after 20 minutes of clicking and deciding that the next applicant is more worth their time.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If they’re sorting through resumes where they’d expect candidates to have an online portfolio (like for a graphic design job), I’d actively avoid any company that had such poor computer resources that they couldn’t view said portfolio.

      But even for design or coding jobs, the portfolio is separate with a link in the resume. The resume itself is straight text that can be scanned, printed, or viewed offline. If I came across a resume that required special effort to even read, I certainly wouldn’t be spending 20 minutes trying to click around it – I’d look at it, roll my eyes, and go on to the next one.

  10. DeColores*

    #2 – I hope that worked out for them long-term, working 1 1/2 hours from the preschool is rough when a lot of them want someone to be able to pick up the kid within 30 minutes if they call you because the child gets sick.

    1. Overeducated*

      Unfortunately this is a problem with high COL areas with long commutes. Sometimes there aren’t great choices.

  11. Anonymous Engineer*

    Re: #1
    I have a coworker who recently joined me onsite at a client’s facility (I’ve already been onsite here for 2 years). Our client boss told her we start at 8. I told her we start at 8. She was getting in around 9 for the first couple weeks. Our client boss had a more serious talk with her about getting here at 8. She has NEVER YET arrived earlier than 8:25. She has no excuse other than “I’m not a morning person.”

    It’s not a “coverage” type of job where someone needs to be answering phones or opening up for customers at 8. However, the client specifies the hours. Those hours are for everybody. I find it disrespectful to make no effort to comply with their policies. It reflects badly on the coworker and by extension our entire company and me!

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Dude, I am emphatically not a morning person and unless traffic is horrendous I am at my desk and ready to go no later than 7:30.

    2. Bea*

      Even my best boss would fire this person. Get a job that allows you to come in at 9 if you can’t keep earlier hours. “Not a morning person” isn’t acceptable.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      My first job was in gov’t contracting and our hours started at 7:30 just because (no business reason). We were considered late at 7:45. I was fresh out of college and my usual schedule was up til 2 am, sleeping in til at least 10 am. And *I* still managed to get there by 7:30 (give or take 10 min) every day except the one time I slept through my alarm. It was brutal, it physically hurt to get up that “early,” and in the 15 months I worked there I never adjusted to the schedule, but the fear of getting written up was enough motivation for me.

      If the client has already talked to her and the message hasn’t gotten through to her, it will almost certainly be repeated to her direct boss with likely consequences.

    4. Health Insurance Nerd*

      I am also not a “morning” person. I am, however, a “enjoys being able to afford to eat and have a place to live” person, so I get myself to work on time, all the time.

    5. Not a Mere Device*

      I’m not a night person–that doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to make careless mistakes, or start staring into space instead of working, on a second-shift job. It means I’m not qualified for those jobs: we all have lots of jobs we’re not qualified for, for various reasons.

    6. PersonalJeebus*

      I am not a morning person in the sense that I hate to leave my house in a hurry in the mornings. I’m great at being very active and busy at home in the mornings (doing chores, helping others get ready for the day, etc) but I do not like having somewhere to be (all groomed and prepared for the day) before 11 am. Fortunately I now work from home. It is the best possible working arrangement for me.

      HOWEVER, I have never once used “not a morning person” as an excuse for being late to a job. I always knew better than to expect my boss would give a hoot about my personal preferences around start times. That’s why when I hear/read about excuses like those coming from OP1’s employee, consistently over time, I assume the truth is they share my fear and loathing of going places in the morning, and they don’t want to admit it because they know most people will consider it a BS excuse.

    7. iglwif*

      I used to have a co-worker who was almost never on time. We had flex hours in our department, and about 90% of people chose earlier times because afternoon traffic was horrendous, so when she chose 9:30-5:30 that was already kind of inconvenient (we had a lot of 9:00 meetings), but then she was only ever on time about twice a week? So at least once a day someone would need her for something and couldn’t find her because she was late, and she rocked up 20 minutes late to all-department meetings several times, and the rest of us got REALLY tired of being asked when she was coming in and having to say “not sure, sorry” because she should have been in 15-30 minutes ago.

      And her reasons for being late were always heavy traffic, late bus, bad weather … all the same things that affected all of us but SOMEHOW didn’t make the rest of us late. Continual lateness is really, really irritating for everyone you work with.

    8. McWhadden*

      I’m very much not a morning person. (And that IS a real thing. People have different natural sleep cycles.)

      But I make it work! Going to bed “early” (for me) so I can wake up “early” (for me) is a killer. After many many years it has not gotten easier. But I do it! I’ve never been late to anything important. And I’d consider a client mandated start time important. On a normal day I’m never early to work (although I stay late all the time) but I’m always basically on time.

      It’s just not an excuse.

      1. terminally dull*

        I am not a morning person. This is why I work graveyard!! I realized years ago that getting up reliably for a job at 8 or 9 AM was just not in the cards unless I married a morning person. I didn’t, so I work graveyard.

  12. Justin*

    Who are these concerts for? Usually with K-12 school concerts (or similar events) they’re at night or on the weekends so (most) parents can attend. If it’s during the day, I can’t imagine very many parents can attend.

    1. pleaset*

      Where I am (New York) pre-K and even K and first grade concerts would never be at night (kids need to get home), and it’s highly unlikely they’d be on the weekends due to lack of space/costs of opening the space on weekends. At least for public school.

      There might be concerts/etc for kids that age on weekend, but those would be outside the auspices of school.

      1. Justin*

        Yeah I suppose that gets a little late for small children. But then again, who is expected to come to these? Most parents work, and the majority of people work during the day, and a lot of people can’t take time off, so I question the schools judgement in having these during the day.

        I was thinking more of school plays and concerts for older kids. I was in a play in 5th grade and it was definitely in the evening, the gym/auditorium was full of parents. They didn’t all take time off of work.

    2. Videogame Lurker*

      PreK was stated in the letter. Usually thing like that are scheduled either Right After School (2-3:00) or about Late Afternoon (4-5:00).

      My band/orchestra concerts afterschool in 4-8th grades were at 6, and high school was either 6 or 7 in the evening.

      IMHO, as long as at least one parent/adult of importance to the kid shows up, everything should be fine. If in the original post, as mentioned above a ways, the other parent would be attending, then I would ask the attensing parent to record the event, and not ask on the second day of working at a place.

    3. That Would be a Good Band Name*

      Our K-6 school always had Christmas programs and a few other short things in the middle of the school day. If you had the ability to take your lunch when you wanted to (and worked close enough) then you could schedule it that way. Oddly, pre-K did their programs in the evening, maybe 5 or 6. (It’s been a few years). I didn’t go to much of anything during the work day. If my kids would like to be upset over that (they aren’t), I’ll remind them how we drove for 12 hours two years in a row for them to participate in a tournament for 1 hour. lol

  13. MD*

    Lots of people have personal web pages that include their CV, and I don’t think it’s as much a faux pas as Alison is suggesting to make those online CVs interactive. Keep them simple and comprehensive enough that a printed version would still suffice, but I think it’s only a plus to include links to research papers. That way, people can more conveniently access your work and it benefits the entire community. This isn’t for a “creative design” field either.

    1. Red Lines with Wine*

      You can include links in a Word document, too. Most resumes are submitted electronically, so the hiring manager could still click to visit the links on the resume.

      Sort of related: I know someone with an online resume and it has the option to print a PDF of it. This would normally be fine, but when I asked him for a targeted resume for the particular job we were hiring for, he basically refused. He said all the relevant information was on his website/resume, but it didn’t list the particular skills and experience we were looking for. Even if he had it, he didn’t list it, so he screwed himself out of a job because he wasn’t willing to follow the norm now, which is customizing your resume for each job.

    2. Smarty Boots*

      Eh, that’s what LinkedIn is for. Give me a resume that’s clear and easy to read and please please I beg of you, don’t make me click around to find your stuff. Not even one click. Don’t add extra work. I’m going to be pissed off if you’re making your resume take longer to get through and really, do you want to piss off the people on the search committee?

      1. PhyllisB*

        Seeing this comment about LinkedIn makes me ask: Exactly what IS LinkedIn? I mean I get that it’s a work website of sorts, but I don’t really understand how you join or what the benefits are. I ask because I have been getting notifications in my email that people are trying to link with me, but I have never joined. I’ve been deleting them because I assume they’re scam. But I am thinking about trying to find a different job, so wonder if I’m missing something. Any insight will be appreciated.

        1. SusanIvanova*

          Originally it was like a very stripped-down version of Facebook where all you did was add links to co-workers (as opposed to friends or Farmville buddies) and put up your resume, so you could see things like “co-worker from 3 jobs back is now working at $coolplace, I wonder if they’re hiring, and if so would they recommend me?”

          Then they wanted to be like Facebook, with as many connections as possible, to the point where they got in trouble for scraping all your email contents and spamming them. Oh, they did technically ask first, but if you weren’t paying attention you didn’t realize you’d just given them access.

          It’s still kind of useful for its original purpose if you’re diligent about only letting them see what you want them to see.

  14. Dwight*

    I believe it’s time to let #1’s employee go. It might be the wake up call she needs to get her act together.

    1. irene adler*

      Agreed. Nip it now before the situation gets out of hand.

      Here, we had an employee who was late most days of the week. She was anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours late. And every time there was an excuse. Car wouldn’t start -for any number of reasons. Had to be the worst lemon out there (a Honda). Alarm messed up. No hot water available in morning. Hot water not hot enough to shower in. Electricity turned off and she had to rescue the fish in the fish tank-so they wouldn’t suffocate. Her roommate’s neck was broken and she had to help her out. She was late the Monday after the clocks were turned back an hour in the fall. Said she’d turned the clock the wrong way. But that would have made her arrival extra early- not extra late. You name it, she blamed it for her tardiness.

      It got to be a game to see how outlandish the excuses were. One time she claimed there was a mountain lion cub in her living room. Had to wait for the authorities to cart it off. Said she was going to be on TV that evening as finding a mountain lion cub in one’s living room was such a rare event. Never saw her.

      This went on for over a decade.

      Management didn’t mind because they liked her. Thought she was so cute. They weren’t waiting for her lab test results to make timely manufacturing decisions. I noticed that she was leaving early as well- yet managed to put 8 hours on her time card each day. I pointed all this out to them. Nothing changed. Eventually she moved on.

      1. Jaybeetee*

        I realize that must have been terrible from a coworker perspective, but she sounds kind of awesome ;). I wonder if I should try the mountain lion cub excuse sometime…

        1. Academic Librarian*

          I had one like this. Late because-
          The bus was on fire.
          No busses arrived on her route.
          the cat walked on the alarm clock and turned it off
          her boyfriend turned off the alarm clock.
          There was a lost dog that she had to care for
          There was a lost cat
          Her cat was lost
          Her cat was sick
          The neighbor blocked her driveway.
          The bus rerouted for a 20 min. detour
          The bus for her route was cancelled and there were no signs.
          She was up all night taking care of the sick cat.
          She was up all night taking care of the sick boyfriend.
          I didn’t say she had to be on-time that day. (WTF)
          She forgot her door pass and no one answered her knocking. (I was in the office)
          She was at her (pick one- cousins, dad’s , etc and couldn’t get a ride back to the city)
          There was no heat.
          The electricity went out.
          There was a construction vehicle blocking the bus route.
          It was very cold.
          Yes, I documented.
          Yes, in the beginning, I did change her hours to later but it didn’t make any difference.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            True story: We once woke up to our cat pawing at the alarm cat, because he had worked out ‘This thing makes a noise, then they get up and feed me.’

            What cat would turn off the opposable-thumb activation device?

      2. Joy Kicks Darkness*

        I worked with a woman like that. Like you, we practically had bets going as to what excuse she was going to come up with next. One week, she said her house had caught fire, the next she’d got run over by a bus etc. She eventually got fired for not picking up calls. Our boss was a very fair man, and not one for sacking people out of the blue, but after five months of that BS even he had had enough.

    2. Bea*

      Agreed. This is a clear abuse of a manager’s kindness. They even pushed the start time back a reasonable amount. But when you have a butts in seats coverage job, you have to be there unless a major incident happens closing the main routes. I’ve had that happen to folks, semis roll and spill gas or oil etc. But that’s something that delays all of us. Not just “sorry, my ride is a flake.” Then start taking a bus…or something.

      It’s probably not a job that pays enough to Uber frequently to. So be an adult and figure it out!

    3. MLB*

      It doesn’t sound like LW has done anything “official” so if she hasn’t taken steps to put her on a PIP or give her warnings, she probably can’t just fire her. But she needs to do something and make sure it’s in writing. Based on the description, it sounds like the employee is young and just starting out, so she’s hasn’t grasped that she can’t just show up whenever she feels like it and still get paid. Regardless, employee needs a reality check.

      1. Dwight*

        Maybe. Maybe not. If a PIP is required to fire someone for just cause, then put her on the PIP. That might wake her up.

  15. Akcipitrokulo*

    About the concert – I’d much rather be asked than find out later a new employee had missed something that mattered to them because they were afraid of asking.

    (I also think it’s more important to go to a pre-school concert than one for an older child, because they can understand more, but that’s a personal thing – but what matters to me isn’t what matters to someone else, and I would hate it if someone were wanting to be elsewhere on their second day and hadn’t asked.)

    No, not a black mark to ask imo.

  16. LCL*

    For OP#1, you asked if it was time to start ‘…disciplinary action by docking pay or…’
    Respectfully, you are looking at this wrong. You wrote she is an hourly employee. For hourly employees, not paying them when they aren’t there isn’t discipline, it’s a standard business practice. You haven’t been paying her the full pay on the days she comes in late, have you? Stop it. And stop fighting with her. If business is such that your other reliable employee can cope for those 15 minutes or half hour by herself, then just start paying late employee for the time she is there. And give punctual employee some perk, even if it’s just bringing her a mocha in the morning.

    1. Micromanagered*

      I am reading your comment to mean “if one employee is reliable and one is unreliable, just have different expectations of them” and I think that’s really shaky advice.

      The punctual employee is likely to see this as favoritism and resent that she has to be on time when her counterpart does not. And really, if the late employee is still at “getting a ride from mom” stage in life, you’re not doing her any favors by teaching her that chronic lateness is just ok and all it means is she misses the daily starbuck’s run.

      1. LCL*

        Punctual employee is already seeing massive favoritism to late employee. Just ask her. LE is being paid but not expected to be there for all hours of work. What I got from OPs post is she hasn’t imposed ANY negative consequences on LE’s behavior. In fact, to date she has been rewarding LE by paying her when she isn’t there, and allowing her a later start time. My solution is a good one because it puts more responsibility on the person who should be responsible for solving the problem-the late employee. LE will either mostly but not completely solve this problem, or shrug and accept the hit to her pay or leave balance and continue the chronic lateness.
        My answer is driven by my work environment, where I don’t have the ability to hire and fire, and TPTB wouldn’t fire someone for habitual lateness even if I documented every instance. The solution I described, either be here or on some type of leave, is all I can enforce. It works much better than the previous policy, which was to be nice! look the other way! don’t be so authoritarian! Until the worst late offender walked in 30 minutes late one day and smiled at me. Game over, dude.

        1. MicroManagered*

          My answer is driven by my work environment,

          Aren’t we all? LOL

          I am definitely “punctual employee” hence my answer! :)

          rewarding LE by paying her when she isn’t there,

          Is that in the letter and I missed it? I was under the impression that OP was allowing LE a later start time (and up to a certain point, ok, that’s reasonable as long as it jives with their business needs), but I didn’t see where it gave the impression that OP was paying LE for hours she was not there. It does sound like LE “works late” to offset being late in the morning, and it’s been brought to OP’s attention that LE may not be actually being productive during those hours, but I don’t think that’s the same.

          If that is the case (OP has been paying LE for after-hours she’s supposedly working to offset lateness, but isn’t really working) then I agree that the solution is to only pay LE for the hours she works, but I think baked in to that needs to be “up till 5 o’clock” or whenever their EOB time is.

    2. formerly in retail*

      I don’t think the solution is to reward good behaviour if your other employees…I think they need to get rid of the bad employee…I don’t think seeing potential perks going to other people is likely to change this ingrained behaviour of the perpetually late employee..

    3. Jadelyn*

      Honestly, if I had a coworker that my boss just kinda shrugged at and ignored her being late every day in a coverage-necessary kind of role, I’d have absolutely zero motivation to bother being on time myself. Obviously it’s not a big deal, right? Oh, suddenly it’s a big deal when I do it? So why am I accountable, but she isn’t?

      I mean, functionally speaking, you’re punishing the good employee. You’re relying on the good employee to pick up the slack for the bad one, and giving the bad one a pass for her behavior not because she has earned it or deserves it, but just because you don’t want to deal with it. That’s terrible management, and that’s going to wind up with resentful coworkers and losing good employees who are tired of having to be The Responsible One while their coworker is allowed to be a slacker.

  17. bloody mary bar*

    LW2 – Is it possible to move back your start date so your first day is the day after the concert? Moving back your start date for a one-time family event has better optics (to me, at least) than taking off your second day on the job, and the only person that would likely even be aware of it is the hiring manager. It may not be possible for logistic reasons (new hires always start on Monday, certain person needs to be in the office for your onboarding, etc.), but I don’t see why it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

    1. Oof*

      I like this suggestion best! My advice would have been to skip the concert, because this is one thing you can miss, as opposed to if your child become ill, etc., or any other emergencies during your first week.

    2. Yikes Dude*

      I typically always ask for a Weds start date anyway. It’s a win-win because you get a long weekend to mentally prepare and it usually actually ends up being easier on HR and/or the new department to not have to deal with their own Monday start-up tasks and getting you started at the same time.

      1. Jadelyn*

        Unless HR has arranged their schedules based on Monday starts. Which many do. We have new hire start dates every other Monday, so anything other than that is considered “off-cycle” and requires that we schedule special orientation sessions and meetings for that person, we have to see if everyone’s even available for the off-cycle day/time, which they might not be…it’s actually far less convenient for us to have someone buck the system and want to do something different, than to just be able to include everyone in the workflow we’ve already got going.

    3. The Cleaner*

      I think this would have been the ideal option if the LW had known about the concert prior to arranging the start date. and could then negotiate around a prior commitment. Personally, if I was in that situation, I wouldn’t even say what it was for, other than a “prior commitment.” Once the start date has been set, though, I don’t think it would look great to re-open the conversation around it, unless the job has previously signaled that the start date is very flexible.

  18. Micromanagered*

    On OP2, I disagree. I think, in most workplaces, it’s pretty normal to have a prior engagement shortly after a start date. Sometimes, things get planned before we know that date will be the second day on the new job and employers are usually pretty understanding. (I know this is an old letter, but) If you haven’t started yet, I think it’s reasonable to say to your new boss “Hey I feel terrible about asking this, but I just realized my son’s Christmas pageant is the afternoon of my second day. Would it be ok to take off at X o’clock to make it there?”

    As long as it’s a position where a half-day off is not mission critical and you aren’t canceling on something the new employer would’ve scheduled with you (a meeting with some higher-ups or an all-day off-site training session, something like that), and you acknowledge the optics of needing time off your second day, I think there’s a way you can ask for this without seeming totally out-of-step or unreliable.

  19. Rainbow Roses*

    It’s not called “docking her pay.” It’s called paying her for hours actually worked. If you’ve been paying her when she’s not there, it’s not fair to the others that this person is getting free money.

    My workplace switched from self written timesheets to time clocks and I love it. Clear cut.

    1. Bea*

      Well legally you have to pay for all hours worked. There is some case law where if she’s at her desk until 6 just goofing around waiting, not paying her is going to leave a huge burden of proof on an employer who doesn’t pay her. Even if she clocks out. Many high strung HR consultants will tell you to tell her to wait off site if a breakroom isn’t available. If she answers just a couple quick questions after 6, she’s considered working.

    2. LCL*

      I have been begging for the time clock solution for a long, long, long, time. It’s just not the culture here, even for hourly employees, of which I am one.

      1. MostCake*

        I heart the time clock! So many years of handwritten time in/out with last minute pressure to do just one last thing before you leave… and suddenly it’s 5:20 when you’re not paid past 5. I hate it when some people equate it to big brother or eww! low-brow – when in fact the it simply favors the employee. Go time clock! Whoo!

  20. Falling Diphthong*

    Traditional résumé​s are easy to scan.

    Underscoring this. It’s a frequent complaint when text-based blogs decide to do some content as a video. (Basically consisting of a video of the writer reading their work aloud, not something like a flood simulation where there is a clear purpose to the new visual element.) It makes the content incredibly inconvenient for the usual blog reader, and part of that is the inability to scan for what you want. Don’t even get me started on “Wait–a cute little animation is going to happen every time you click on this part, so you’ll need to sit and wait through it. Hum… hum de hum… hum…”

    I don’t apply this to podcasts, because when my eyes and ears are busy (cooking, driving) they are a nice option. They aren’t an interchangeable option–I use print vs audio vs video in different contexts, for different needs.

  21. I'd Rather Not Say*

    I agree with AAM, don’t ask for the time off. You don’t yet know how your new manager and co-workers view taking time off for these things, and the risk at alienating some people right from the start isn’t worth it, IMO. You can, as others suggested, have someone record it and watch it with your child later.

  22. workingforaliving*

    It is not draconian to expect people to show up for work when they are scheduled, especially in a position that is time sensitive, (which is implied by the LW). Why does this person think that their particular situation is so unique that they deserve to be treated differently from everyone else? How do they (or you) know that other people in the organization aren’t having a hard time finding a ride that gets them to work on time—but they just figure it out because they recognize that being a responsible adult means reporting to work as scheduled?

  23. LTF84*

    Thanks for clarifying that most – but not all – people want to hear when they’re doing something that annoys someone. I told a whistling colleague of mine that I realized they were doing it mindlessly, but whistling made me uncomfortable, it sounds like nails on a chalkboard to me, and I asked them to be mindful of that. Their response? To loudly start whistling when they walked by my desk and tell me to ‘get over it’.
    Some people are just jerks.

  24. Marty*

    It might just be because I’m precisely in the design/coding world, but a web resume or personal website doesn’t seem uncommon or inconvenient at all. I’d actually find it weird if somebody DIDN’T have some sort of professional website for people to peruse. Just make sure it’s professional looking and very VERY simple to navigate.

    Every web browser has a “print page” option. Most website building services will let you set good styling for the print view (remove unneeded images and force a simple layout). For copy+pasting, a web site could actually work BETTER than, say, a PDF (depending on your export settings, it may not publish as plaintext, or may have glitches regarding line breaks and special characters.)

    It all depends on how it’s submitted and the format being asked, right? Having a web resume doesn’t mean you can’t also send the same (or pared-down) content in a .docx or paste it into a plaintext web form, if that’s what the business asks for.

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