using unlimited time off to work a second job, a sexist conference organizer, and more

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

1. Can I used my unlimited time off to do part-time nanny work?

I recently started working at a company with “unlimited discretionary time off.” The policy was explained to me like this: just tell your manager when you want to be out, and as long as your work is getting done, you can take as much time off as you like. Because I’m new, I’m still working out exactly what the norms are, but it seems like people regularly take large chunks of vacation (2-3 weeks to travel internationally, for example) and are very quick to take days here and there for errands, appointments, days off of school for their kids, etc. with no apparent issues.

Before I took this job, I was working part-time, and supplemented that with a nanny job for an awesome family that I love. The child I took care of started preschool around the same time I started this job, so they no longer need a regular nanny, but her parents are asking if I would consider coming back once in a while for days when school is closed, or if she isn’t feeling well. They also asked about my availability to occasionally cover pick-up if they are both caught late at work (this happened no more than 1-2 times/month when I was their nanny), and about my interest in still accompanying them when they travel, which I did regularly and enjoyed before.

Because my new job is so generous and flexible with their time-off policy, I was planning to say yes, with the clear understanding that New Job is my first priority, so they may sometimes have to find a different childcare solution. I know from experience that the parents are very reasonable people and will not push my boundaries or pressure me around what I say I can or can’t do. However, when I mentioned this to a few friends, they were absolutely appalled and said I would be basically lying and taking advantage of New Company by taking paid time off to do another job that I’m also getting paid for. One of my friends insinuated that it’s actually illegal and something I could be fired for.

I was so surprised by their reaction! It seems to me that the impact is no different than if I was leaving early to get my own kid from preschool, taking a day off to get my car fixed, or spending a week traveling with my partner — all of which are normal and even encouraged. Now I’m questioning my judgment, though. Is this different? I’d love to keep working with this family, but I don’t want to jeopardize my new job and the career I’m trying to build. What do you think?

Yeah, unlimited time off policies are not generally intended to let you work a second job; they’re intended to let you take vacation, run errands, recharge, and so forth — not fit in separate paid work. Your friend saying it’s illegal is wrong, but the chances are very high that your employer would be put out if they found out that’s what you were taking time off for.

It’s not entirely intuitive, because if you got a specific number of paid days off a year, there would be nothing wrong with using some of them to do paid nannying if you wanted. In that framework, you get X number of days off a year and they’re yours to use as you want. And frankly, at this job if you were voluntarily limiting your annual time off to a total of two or three weeks, it might be fine to do this. But in an unlimited time off situation, if you’re planning to take more generous time off like your colleagues do, using it to do other paying work is very likely to come across as abusing the policy.

It would probably be fine to do it only on very rare occasions, like a couple of times a year, planned well in advance. But taking off weeks to travel with them for pay or doing ongoing, regular work for them isn’t likely to go over well, especially if you’re leaving work with little notice (because the child is sick or to cover pick-up when the parents can’t) to do paid work somewhere else.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Speaking up about a sexist conference organizer

I recently attended a small conference for members of my field. The conference is an annual affair, organized by a nonprofit that is the only professional society for this discipline in my town.

Throughout the conference, the president of the nonprofit continually introduced the female speakers as “beautiful, attractive women” and tried to put his arm around their shoulders as they walked on stage. One woman looked visibly uncomfortable and tried to deflect the remark by saying that there were many other beautiful people in the audience. The male speakers were introduced with the usual superlatives: experienced, distinguished, etc.

I was upset. All the female speakers are respected professionals in their own right: start-up founders, high-ranking executives with industry knowledge, published authors, etc. Many of them had taken time off from their jobs to fly to our town to share their knowledge. But this man seemed to be undermining their achievements by treating them like pageant contestants.

Do you think there was anything I could have done? For context, I’m a woman in my late twenties and very new to this field. I don’t have many industry contacts, nor do I know many people in this field beyond a superficial level. Though highly specialized, this field is small and non-technical with low barriers to entry. It is well-known for being inclusive, collaborative, and diverse, and having an equal representation of men and women. As far as I know, the president does not report to any board of directors (his position in the nonprofit is voluntary).

Ick, that’s really off-putting and gross — and condescending and disrespectful and, obviously, sexist.

If you’re comfortable being assertive about this kind of thing in front of a large crowd, one option would have been to speak up during the audience Q&A, if there was one, and say something like, “I was dismayed to hear the women here introduced with comments about their looks, while the men were introduced with praise for their professional achievements. These are accomplished women and they’re not here to have their looks assessed.” I’d bet good money that you’d get applauded for that. That said, it’s totally okay if you wouldn’t be comfortable doing that. Lots of people — probably most people — wouldn’t be, especially at a networking event in a field they’re new to.

Another option is to send an email to the nonprofit that ran the event and say something similar, possibly cc’ing the speakers themselves so they have the satisfaction of seeing it being called out.

3. Is it normal to ask your peers if they’re okay with you applying to become their team lead

My team lead is grooming me to take over part of his team as it has become too big for him to manage alongside his other tasks. I have several peers with the same job title that I would be managing if this goes through. All of them have started several years after me, and I have been responsible for showing them the ropes.

When the time comes for the internal interviews for the new team lead position, is it necessary or would it simply be a smart move to ask my peers if they’re okay with my application? I find this strange, honestly, but I know my team lead has done so when he was applying for his current position. That’s where my question is coming from. Maybe he only did it because we have a difficult team member who wanted to be team lead as well, but it seemed like my team lead would have asked either way.

I wouldn’t even know how to broach the topic, but even then it would feel like asking permission for something between me and my employer. What’s your take on it?

No, you’re not typically expected to ask your coworkers if they’re okay with you applying for a position managing them. It would be weird if you were — what would you do if someone told you no, after all? There are times when the dynamics on your team might mean that it would be helpful to talk to people about your interest in the role, but I wouldn’t approach it as asking for their okay. Instead, you could frame it as “I’m thinking about applying for the X role, and wondered if there’s anything you’d want me to take into account if I did that.” That way you’re not implying that you won’t move forward if they don’t like the idea, but you’re opening the door for them to ask questions or share potential concerns, and you’re showing that you care about their perspective.

4. How forthcoming and apologetic should I be about using most/all of my sick leave?

I’m starting a new position I’m excited about. More money than my last job, so far looks like a better environment, and the sick/personal leave is slightly above the industry norm. I have some specific excitement about the latter because my toddler has a chronic illness. Her condition isn’t daily life-consuming and likely she’ll live a full life, but she also has doctor appointments and the advice to avoid daycare if an illness happens to be about. I don’t foresee being gone all the time, and if I can’t take the day off, my husband can, and we plan to attempt to split missed days as fairly as possible.

However, there is a possibility I will be using a good chunk, if not all, of my sick leave. I firmly believe it’s there for me to use and if they didn’t want to have it they shouldn’t give it to me, but I also agree it’s prudent to not take unnecessary advantage of it. I did not bring this up when I was offered the position, though a few coworkers are aware of my daughter’s condition. Should I have mentioned up-front I’d likely be using a lot of the sick leave? Do I apologize for it?

Nope, you don’t need to announce that at the outset or apologize for it, any more than you’d need to announce or apologize that you plan to take all of your vacation time. That said, it’s true that sick leave can be more disruptive than vacation time because it’s usually last-minute. And it’s also true that some employers see sick leave as a sort of safety net that’s there if you need it, but get alarmed if you’re steadily going through all of it, especially when you’re new and they don’t know your work ethic and work habits yet. So at some point in the first few months you’re there, it would be smart to mention the situation to your manager so that she has context for last-minute absences and isn’t wondering if something else is going on. Don’t frame it as an apology — just as “hey, I want to let you know about this so you’re not wondering when it happens.”

{ 321 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    Ugh, OP#2, that sounds so frustrating! I’m a jerk, so I sometimes make performative noises when someone is out of line (think: a loud scoffing noise or a dry/sarcastic, “Wow” when someone is way out of line, as was this guy).

    If the conference organizers haven’t already solicited conference evaluations, you could submit your concerns anonymously through that route. But if you’re brave/willing, I agree with Alison that it’s worth contacting the nonprofit to let them know that, as someone new to the industry and excited to attend their event, you were dismayed/disappointed/disheartened that women leaders were reduced to their physical appearance instead of their professional achievements.

    1. sacados*

      Agreed, I assume there is some sort of way — anonymous or not — to give feedback about the conference as a whole, so at the very least I would definitely mention something via that route.

      1. OP2*

        Thanks for these suggestions and the perspective – when I wrote in; I wasn’t sure if I was overreacting. I ended up submitting feedback via an anonymous survey link that the organizers sent out. So far no news on how it’s been received, but with any luck things will be better next year.

        1. Annoyed*

          You are so not overreacting. It’s that mindset that’s been socialized into women: “don’t overreact, don’t be so sensitive, don’t speak up, etc.” that allows shit like this to still (!!!) be happening in 2018.

          It’s gross and needs to be called out every.single.time. If it had been me I likely would have callef them out in the moment about the time they introduced the second woman. But I ran out of fks to give a while ago.

          I really wish you’d have named the non-profit though. I’d like to know who to boycott.

          1. sacados*

            That may be a bit premature, it really depends how the org handles it.
            OP said the president’s position is “voluntary” so he may not be all that involved in the actual day to day operations. And if it was more a rank/courtesy thing that led to him being the one making the introductions, then I think 1) an apology from the org to the speakers and 2) explaining to the Pres why that sort of thing is inappropriate and/or just not having him fill that role at any future conferences would be sufficient action on the part of the org.

            1. Czhorat*

              I still like to publicly name names in cases like this, if nothing else to shame the organization into doing better AND send those who were treated poorly a message that we care about them and respect them as the professionals who they are.

              Public call-out doesn’t need to lead to a boycott or anything more; it can be the end in and of itself.

            2. OP2*

              Your assessment of the nonprofit and the president’s role is spot-on. It’s a small organization of about 6-7 people, and all the members have paid day jobs. They organize events related to my field as a sort of hobby and don’t accept any pay from it. I’ve found out that the conference dues go to printing the collaterals, booking event spaces, that sort of thing.
              Hmm, I’m honestly not ready to take it to a public platform like Twitter yet. I live in a part of the world where the doxxing of outspoken women is a common practice and traditional attitudes about women and gender roles still run rampant. I’m happy to start by “bringing down the system” from within, and putting in my feedback like I eventually did was an important first step for me. Thanks for all the encouragement!

              1. EPLawyer*

                That is perfectly fine to take your approach. Everyone gets to decide for themselves how to approach something like this. We don’t all have to be crusaders for the cause if we don’t want to be.

                At least you noted it on the survey. Probably others did too.

              2. Czhorat*

                That’s fine, and good work. I’m sorry if I implied that it wasn’t enough.

                I understand that being able to speak publicly without professional or personal repercussions is a privilege not shared by everyone. Fight the good fit whatever manner you’re comfortable. Change comes incrementally, by everyone taking what actions they can.

              3. AMPG*

                Another thing you can do is reach out to other women at the conference on your own time. As you’ve experienced, a lot of women encounter this sort of thing and their first reaction is to worry that they’re overreacting, especially when they don’t hear anyone else speak up. Talking amongst yourselves can open up those communication channels and help you confirm with each other that your reactions are normal. Plus you may inspire some of them to include that feedback to the organizers, where they might not have before.

          2. the gold digger*

            It’s that mindset that’s been socialized into women: “don’t overreact, don’t be so sensitive, don’t speak up, etc.” that allows shit like this to still (!!!) be happening in 2018.

            I am pretty sure it was not your intention to imply that it is up to women to educate men on how to behave, but I would suggest that the problem is more that some men have been socialized into thinking that it’s OK to treat women like that than that women are not speaking up enough.

        2. Czhorat*

          WEll done.

          If you have any standing at all in your industry, you should also speak publicly. Write it on a trade site. Take to Twitter. Wherever people in your industry gather, say something loudly, clearly, openly. Let women there know that you care about how they are treated, let men know that they are being watched and that this kind of thing is not OK.

          This is the kind of behavior we cannot let slide under the radar. Anonymous feedback is a great first step, but if you can more is always better.

        3. Fish Microwaver*

          I was going to suggest using any sort of feedback request to express your concerns, if speaking out at the time was not an option. Post conference feedback is closely analyzed and taken seriously. Thank you for speaking up.

        4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          That’s great to hear! Also, if you know any other woman that attended the conference, or even men that you think would understand, see if you can ask them to add that to their own survey. The more people they hear that this is unacceptable from the better.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I don’t usually outright ask, but in this type of situation sometimes I’ve made a point to mention to others “I really hated to see X at this event, I’m definitely going to put that on my feedback form!” Sometimes people feel awkward about giving criticism even on an anonymous form or aren’t able to articulate what bothered them about something, but when they hear someone else is going to say something, are more willing to speak up as well.

        5. Lora*

          I’m glad you did.

          And now I’m rehearsing what to say when this happens in my field at a local conference next week. I’m leaning towards, “aw thanks, SexistDude, but I really think of you more like a friend”.

          1. Genny*

            If you’re the person being introduced as “attractive and beautiful” you could also say as you’re going up to the podium “I’m smart and accomplished too” (or fill in any specific achievements you want to highlight). It’ll probably get a few chuckles (so long as you deliver it with a smile/laugh) while also making the point that you’re more than your appearance.

            1. the gold digger*

              “Thanks, but even if I were not attractive, I would still be the world’s leading expert on chocolate teapots, especially the 72% cocoa dark chocolate, zero-calorie teapots I have just patented, which is what I am here to talk about today.”

            2. ket*

              Or turn the appearance thing on your introducer — “I’m glad to be introduced by a… umm… decently attractive man whose… tie matches… his shirt?! Yes! And he has all his hair even though he’s 65!”

              Ok, you could be less snarky than that while still snarky. Comment on his shoes if they’re nice. Try to find something actually nice about his appearance to comment on.

            3. The New Wanderer*

              I did this when a coworker introduced another woman and me to his colleagues as, basically, the beautiful women he gets to work with. I immediately said in a dry tone, “And we have brains, too.”

              As it was not his first time saying crap like that, I also sent him an email shortly after “politely requesting” that he never say that sort of thing again. It’s not flattering, it’s belittling. Naturally he replied with a big ol’ “I was trying to be nice!” apology, but at least he didn’t do it again that I’m aware of. Ugh.

        6. iglwif*

          I was coming in to suggest the same thing as PCBH.

          From one woman annoyed by sexist comments at conferences to another, thank you for speaking up!

    2. an infinite number of monkeys*

      I made just such a “wow” at an industry conference last year when a state legislator who’d been invited to lead the group in an opening prayer (no, not a religious industry or organization) concluded with “may all who have not yet found Jesus be brought to the light” or something like that. I don’t think anybody but my tablemates heard me, but I deeply wish I’d sent something to the organizers, because the whole rest of the program kept returning to the theme of their pride in the organization’s diversity.

      The thing was, I immediately worried that my “wow” was rude and out of line, and was anxious enough about it not to feel comfortable sending anything to the organizers. But it really upset me to be led in a prayer for my own conversion and feel like I couldn’t speak up about it.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        That is awful. If the same conference is coming up again this year I think it would be OK to write to the organisers now and tell them about it, while expressing the hope that it doesn’t happen again this year.

    3. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I don’t know who irritates me more – the men who introduce women with versions of ‘The lovely and talented Jane Doe’, or the women who think it’s a compliment.

      OP, I would be irritated, too, and agree with everyone who said you are not overreacting. Thank you for making mention of this in the event survey.

    4. GreenDoor*

      I’m also a jerk. And a jerk that is quite comfortable making public presentations. So if I was a speaker, I’d actually be saying something pointed on the floor.

      It’d be a risk I’d totally take. Some people just need their BS called out on the carpet. Or the podium, as it were.

    5. Dana*

      I’m still kind of amazed looking back back, but when I was 23 I had a boss who would say stuff like this, out of a sort of outdated courtliness (he was from South Carolina and we were working together in Texas.) I was helping him with some interviewing for our very small, all-female office, and he kept asking male candidates if they would be comfortable working with young pretty women such as myself. After two or three interviews I said: “Boss, I don’t think it’s relevant what I look like or that there are mostly women in our office. It really makes me uncomfortable when you bring that up. Can we leave that off the next interview?” And he did.

  2. Greg NY*

    #1: This is one of those situations where what should be OK isn’t OK in practice. To be clear, your friend is wrong. Time off from your company is time off. You are getting paid not to work for that company during the time you take off. You could be on vacation, lounging around the house, or working another job and the end result is the same. You are entitled to take off whatever time you want as long as your work is getting done.

    Here’s the problem: part of the reason for taking time off, in the eyes of the company, is to rest and recharge, to be at peak effectiveness on the days you are there. By working another job, you aren’t doing that, and that isn’t going to look good. That’s where it would affect your job at your current company. It’s a word often used here, and while I don’t like the word, I think it is a perfect fit for this situation, “optics”.

    You shouldn’t feel compelled to go into work and work more days when you are rested and recharged (in that sense, you are not “taking advantage” of your company). But working another job is going to come off poorly unless you get the OK.

    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I think part of why this looks “off” is because many employers have policies about working secondary or outside jobs, especially during standard business hours. Although the organization says that it’s flexible as long as you’re on top of your work, it’s not like getting to leave a test when you finish early. There are almost always additional tasks that can be completed, and having face-to-face time with peers is often important.

      Unlimited time off isn’t always for rest and recovery, but it’s definitely not designed for working a second job during standard business hours.

      1. KHB*

        At my employer, this is covered under the conflict of interest policy: Among the types of “actual or perceived conflict of interest” we’re required to disclose is the acceptance of any outside employment that could interfere with our attendance or satisfactory completion of our job duties. Which isn’t to say it’s 100% forbidden – just that we’re required to be up front about it, rather than just going ahead and assuming everything will be OK. So I’d say OP1’s first step should be to check her employee handbook to see if they have any similar language in there.

        I also agree that it’s not always wise to assume that “as long as you’re getting all your work done” means you can take time off whenever you want. Not only are there almost always more things you can be doing at work, but OP probably doesn’t have a good sense yet of how much time her primary job duties will actually take.

        1. Jen*

          I mean this sets up a literal conflict of interests between jobs. She would be leaving one job, and using their benefits, for another.

          I consider myself a friendly coworker and I have taken work from people with sick kids and visiting family and so on.

          But I would feel differently about covering for someone else to take off to do a regular paid side job, particularly last minute coverage that means I end up leaving late.

          1. JSPA*

            a) it’s not going to be regular (she said so).
            b) she’s warned the family that they can’t count on her for last minute stuff. She said so.
            c) she’s no more at risk doing childcare for pay than she would be, living her own daily life (in fact, she probably does fewer dangerous things if she’s minding small kids, than she would be living like an “average” 20-something. (When she’s babysitting, she’s not doing extreme sports or risking getting her drink spiked at a pick up joint.)
            d) “fully taking care of her regular job” is part of the time off agreement. This presumably isn’t the sort of job that requires regular “coverage” or the “infinite time off” plan wouldn’t exist.

            IMO, if all the things that she’s doing are very much the same sorts of things other people might do to cheerfully lend a hand to a sibling’s family, in a non-emergency sort of way–except for pay–why not?

            Furthermore, if she gets handsome vacation leave, but doesn’t feel comfortable traveling solo or making her own plans, or she’s low on cash while long on time, it’s downright reasonable to trade child care duties for a more comfortable, safer vacation than she’d otherwise have access to. If the family vacations are not spur-of-the-moment, she can presumably cover most of them as “official vacation”–in which time, Alison agrees it’s almost certainly OK to be otherwise employed–plus she can make sure her job is done excellently and in advance so that, if there’s an unforseen travel glitch, her work does not suffer.

            If the kids were her sister’s, but her sister also paid her, would that change people’s attitude? If the family had been good friends before her employment? If she’d be willing to help out from time to time even if not paid, but not being paid would…make it weird? I’d treat all of those things as 100% understandable. The further stretch to an occasional paid day, with a family who were not close, before they employed her, seems like it need not be an insurmountable block to continuing the relationship, in a small way.

            It’s nice to watch kids you’ve cared for grow up, even if they’re not your own flesh and blood.

            1. Lemon juice*

              Yeah, I’m with you, JSPA. I’m from an industry where almost everyone has a second gig and where we generally manage our own schedules, and, yeah, I think it’s absolutely fine to take a ‘vacation’ in line with your co-workers vacations that’s actually a nannying trip, or to veeeeeery occasionally cover late pick-up days. I see the former as no different from taking time off to volunteer and the latter as no different from being emergency back-up for a friend’s or relative’s kid. As long as the work’s getting done and the OP’s not breaking their company’s explicitly stated policy in some way, who cares what the OP’s doing in their off hours?

        2. Essess*

          I agree entirely about reading the handbook. I had a job where it was explicitly stated that you could not take vacation time to work another paid job. There were exceptions such as jury duty or military service but what OP is proposing falls directly under the prohibited category for that. OP needs to be sure there isn’t a rule similar to this in the handbook!

          1. Decima Dewey*

            Yes, read your employee handbook. Mine says that if I take a second job, my employer reserves the right to tell me to choose one job or the other.

        3. Greg NY*

          One problem with your last paragraph is that, just like you said, there are almost always more things that can be done, even if not your primary job duties. That implies, even at workplaces with unlimited vacation, that you really should be there when there isn’t a compelling reason not to take time off (such as mental or physical rest, household repairs, and medical appointments). That runs counter to the notion that I have that you can take off as much time as you want as long as your primary duties are done.

          1. KHB*

            So, I don’t have any direct experience with unlimited-PTO environments (nor do I care to), but “you really should be there unless you have a compelling reason not to be” sounds to me like a perfectly reasonable expectation of a full-time employee (as opposed to a freelancer or contractor).

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            No one is telling OP not to take leave. They’re telling her not to abuse an unlimited leave policy to facilitate a less predictable, alternative second job.

            Look, lots of people work multiple jobs. I did for years, but I didn’t do it at the expense of my primary job. We’re advising OP not to do it because it can legitimately jeopardize her primary employment and make her look out of step with her employer’s norms around secondary employment.

        4. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

          In my industry, it is common for employees to sign a mandatory agreement that covers this situation, although similar requirements may also appear in a company handbook. Here is an actual excerpt from an agreement with a prior employer:

          “While an employee of the Company, I will devote my full-time efforts to the Company’s business and I will not engage in any other business activity that conflicts with my duties to the Company. I will advise the president of the Company or his or her nominee at such time as any activity of either the Company or another business presents me with a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest as an employee of the Company. I will take whatever action is requested of me by the Company to resolve any conflict or appearance of conflict which it finds to exist.”

      2. Persimmons*

        The acceptability of doing this feels like an “I’ll know it when I see it” situation. I had a colleague who took time off to promote a textbook she co-wrote, traveling to several industry conferences. That was seen as good, perhaps because she was furthering herself as a subject matter expert, and also probably because it was a temporary event with a clear end date.

        Taking time off to do a job that a layman would categorize as “just for money” feels less acceptable.

        1. Iris Eyes*

          But shouldn’t silly ideas be challenged and changed?

          Would it be ok if they were taking time off to manage their own rental properties? Would it be ok if they were doing the same work on their own house?

          Its definitely ok to take off to care for your own biological children to avoid having to pay money but you can’t care for someone else’s child and receive money that’s bad?

          I get that companies want you to avoid doing work that would interfere with their bottom line, of course they do. But if what they truly care about is the output then we really need to get away from the echos of indentured servitude.

          1. Emily K*

            Yeah, even though I think the right advice is being given here vis a vis the reality of the work world we live in, it does bug me that a policy frequently spun as “unlimited vacation!!! wow so generous!!!” in reality has all these unmentioned/downplayed disadvantages: first you realize you get no payout upon leaving if you use less vacation than everyone else because you didn’t accrue anything.

            Then you learn that “unlimited” really means, “unlimited only for certain employer-approved activities.”

            Then you discover in a lot of workplaces that “unlimited” really means “the only people who get raises and promotions are those who never take leave at all.”

            It ends up being a completely Orwellian policy that sounds good in name but is actually pretty shitty in practice.

          2. Kathleen_A*

            It’s so hard to articulate why but…I don’t think “You shouldn’t use a fantastic perk offered by your main employer to get paid to do something else” is a silly idea. Just because something is difficult to explain doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

            To me, it just feels completely wrong. And I don’t think that’s because I am still clinging to some idea of indentured servitude. I think it feels wrong because it *is* wrong. I mean, where do you draw the line? If acting as a nanny is OK, is taking off one day a week to work at a restaurant OK? Or how about one day every other week at a museum? How about one week every other month?

            Sure you could do these things during your vacation if you had regular, limited vacation days like most people. But the OP does not. She should not use her employer’s generous leave policy to help out another employer.

            1. Greg NY*

              I actually disagree in part with your last point (as well as Alison on this point). I’d argue that an employer would discourage other employment even during limited PTO. It’s given in part so you can rest and recharge, and if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t going to be as effective when you return to your job at that employer.

              1. Anonymousaurus Rex*

                This is tricky, but I agree with Kathleen. I once used a day of my PTO to work a day at my previous job, where I continue to do some consulting work on the side. I didn’t clear the use of PTO specifically for this purpose, but I did clear the side job with my current job when I started to rule out conflict of interest. I felt weird taking a day off to work elsewhere, but I didn’t feel like I was violating an ethical principle or anything. To me there is something particular about the fact that OP has an unlimited time off policy that makes it more frowned upon to use it for a second job.

                For my side job 99% of it is done in the time I’m not at my work at my primary job, but there was one event I needed to attend for it during regular business hours, and it was worth burning through 8 hrs of PTO to attend in person. With unlimited policies, I feel like (rightly or wrongly) the employer has a lot more discretion around whether and how you use that time. With banked PTO policies, it feels like that time off is very clearly part of your compensation (and must be paid out when you leave). For unlimited time off policies, it’s more like a benefit of the position, but it is not “owed” to the employee in the same way, if that makes sense. That’s part of the drawback of these kinds of policies.

                1. Steve*

                  One caveat: in most US states, your employer is not required to pay out PTO or vacation days when you leave. Many do anyways, but there’s no law requiring it. (California is one notable exception.)

            2. Iris Eyes*

              As long as her work is getting done on time why would it matter? If she can get all of her work done in 2 days and the employer agrees to pay X amount then even if other people are in the office 5 days a week how is it relevant to the OP? If its ok to take the time off then its ok to take the time off end of story. What you do with it is only relevant if it affects your deliverables.

              Also doing work that’s different than the work you normally do can be more restful. i.e. typical desk job sitting in front of a computer typing and talking to spending your Saturday doing housework vs. spending your day playing online games. Your body doesn’t see a difference in the latter case.

              1. Kathleen_A*

                Well, for one thing, if she’s new to the job I’m going to question whether she knows about the company to actually know that she’s actually getting everything done. Is there no training she should be taking, no planning, nothing? Maybe…but maybe not.

                But I guess I just fundamentally disagree that if it’s OK to take off, it’s OK to take off, and that’s all there is to it. Is it OK to take off with no notice because you’re extremely sick? Sure. Is it OK to take off with no notice because you’re going to go do something else for money? I say no. As in almost anything else having to do with employer-employee relations, “taking time off” covers a range of activities, and the same rules do not govern all of these activities.

            3. JSPA*

              Some jobs explicitly encourage employees to do volunteering or outreach in the community or just get out and do outdoorsy stuff (I’m thinking of REI here, but there are others). The idea is to do something good that helps people. I’m not sure that getting paid ought to negate the intrinsic goodness of the act. This could get off topic, but it’s like the idea that sports are only admirable if they’re amateur / if rich people do them in their spare time (and all that Chariots of Fire stuff).

              Helping raise kids is actually a cool thing. Plenty of 20-somethings hang in awfully close to the poverty line. Getting what’s probably not a huge extra income for doing something that’s in itself a positive good, seems like it benefits everyone.

              All conditional on being a total whiz at the main job! That’s got to be the main focus. But the chances that caring for kids will be a bona fide conflict of interest in the job sense? That seems so unlikely.

      3. Snark*

        Yeah. This isn’t really subjective or about optics; it’s double-dipping, and it’s not a thing that is done. Working a secondary job, at least on a semi-regular or frequent basis, during regular business hours is a form of time theft. There’s a reason your friend feels icky about this, OP1.

        1. Emily K*

          Time theft seems like more of a relevant concept in an hourly wage job than an exempt position. My employer has access to me pretty much around the clock including evenings and weekends, and I’m exceeding all my performance targets. If I leave at 3:30 on Wednesday and I put in 12 hours of weekend/evening this week on top of my regular 40 hour week, I’m still +10.5 hours ahead of what was expected of me AND still exceeding the performance targets they set for me, and yet they’re going to turn around and accuse me of stealing from them because the thing I left at 3:30 for earned me money?

          Is it also double-dipping/time theft to take PTO for jury duty and cash the $17 check the county gave me for me time? Is it time theft when I use my lunch break to do laundry for the AirBnB I run but not when I use it to do my own laundry?

          Assuming a salaried/exempt role, optics is exactly the reason why this isn’t done, not anything rational or consistently logical.

          1. Snark*

            Let’s deal with THIS situation, not the 97 hypotheticals we can think of by analogy, ok? THIS situation is time theft.

            If an OP writes in about laundry for their AirBnB or provides all the hypothetical detail about their weekend work, we can address that situation in context.

            1. Snark*

              Informing that position:

              1) She’s new. Even if she’s technically getting her work done, she doesn’t really have time to spare. If anybody who’s been on a job less than a year or two thinks they don’t have something they could be doing to get more familiar with that job and its required knowledge and practices, they’re radically off base.

              2) This would be a regular, scheduled, paid work commitment – not personal business, not occasional paid petsitting, not washing linens for the AirBnB. It would be drawing two checks for the same hours on a regular, formal basis. That’s double-dipping under any reasonable understanding of that concept. Personal life business, volunteering, and caring for one’s own children is a different category.

              3) It may be prohibited by her employer.

              1. JSPA*

                I don’t see the “regular.”

                A. once in a while for days when school is closed
                B. if she isn’t feeling well.
                C. occasionally cover pick-up if they are both caught late at work (no more than 1-2 times/month)
                D. accompanying them when they travel [this last, presumably on actual vacation days]

                School closures I take to be not spring break and winter holidays, but weather closures or teacher “in service” days. That’s, what, maybe 5 days per school year? Some of these hours barely impinge on a regular work day, like school pickups. So, add taking off at 3 PM for school pick up 1.5 times a month (and doing some extra work at 10 PM). I’d probably avoid sick days, but if the kid is old enough to be alone in the room, and OP can work remotely in another room, then…again, why not?

                It’s not double dipping. She’s salaried, not hourly. They are not “the same hours” because there are no specified hours. Work does not own you 24/7/365; if they allow flexibility, it’s for use.

                We would not tell someone who works 9 to 5 that they can’t take another job from 7 to 9 in the evening. So why are we telling someone who does not have set hours that she can’t split her main job and her secondary job up in other ways?

            2. Greg NY*

              Emily’s point about exempt positions is a valid one. The idea of an exempt position is that you have a set of core duties to do no matter how long or short it takes. The rest of your life is yours, and in a position with unlimited vacation, that can often enough be during regular business hours.

              1. LarsTheRealGirl*

                But even in exempt positions, you can have a requirement to work 40 hours (or more). They can’t dock your pay for working less, but they can definitely make it a requirement that you work 40 or take vacation time for the difference.

                In Emily K’s example, she’s working more than the minimim/expected requirement, so it’s not even a valid analogy. OP is asking to take time off – so work less than regular hours and still be paid – to do other work. If she was asking about working normal hours and using her nights/weekends/outside of work hours to nanny it would be perfectly okay, but that’s not the question.

                1. Emily K*

                  The example would still be the same if the OP is exempt. Exempt employees can generally leave at 3:30 if their workload permits, even on short notice. I’m just questioning why it’s time theft only if she’s leaving at 3:30 to pick up a kid and will be paid for doing so, but not if she leaves at 3:30 for any unpaid reason?

                  I said at the start of my post that I agree with the advice that she shouldn’t do this because it would be a bad look. I was disagreeing with the notion that “time theft” is possible when the role is exempt and when what appears to trigger the accusation of theft is not number of hours worked/not work, or performance on projects, but whether income was earned from another source.

                  And my other examples were to show that the trigger isn’t even logically consistent, because we make plenty of other exceptions for income-generating activity that can occur over a break or when taking leave. Thus, the reason we aren’t inclined to make an exception for this income-generating activity is just because it doesn’t look good. It creates an incentive for you to take advantage, so whether or not you DO take advantage, people will treat you like you are.

                  Much like a lot of the early attitudes towards remote workers before it became more widespread – because people imagined you could take advantage of the situation, they assumed everyone who worked at home probably was taking advantage, and remote employees had to work a lot harder and be more responsive than average to prove they weren’t slacking off.

                2. Snark*

                  “I’m just questioning why it’s time theft only if she’s leaving at 3:30 to pick up a kid and will be paid for doing so, but not if she leaves at 3:30 for any unpaid reason?”

                  Because she’s making a regular commitment to a side hustle a coequal priority to doing the primary, salaried job that she i

                  In general, if it’s an exceptional or occasional thing and you duck out at 3:30 to take care of a thing or just go for a walk and chill, that matters less than if you’re departing at 3:30 pm on the dot daily to go nanny, with emails from your and other teams piling up in your inbox, meetings possibly getting scheduled in conflict, and stuff a new employee could be doing to be more effective sooner in the role.

                3. Greg NY*

                  It’s worth noting that there can be such a requirement, but I don’t understand at all why. It violates the concept of being an exempt employee. It’s treating them like an hourly employee when it benefits the employer and an exempt employee when it benefits the employer.

                4. JSPA*

                  Snark, where do you get “coequal” when she writes,

                  “I was planning to say yes, with the clear understanding that New Job is my first priority, so they may sometimes have to find a different childcare solution. I know from experience that the parents are very reasonable people and will not push my boundaries or pressure me around what I say I can or can’t do”?

                  That’s explicitly hierarchical / contingent, not co-equal.

          2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            In most states, employers are required to accommodate your jury duty and cannot penalize you for serving on a jury. The scenarios you’ve listed are not helpful analogies.

            1. Health Insurance Nerd*

              Right, and also, many companies also have policies that state if you’re serving on a jury long enough to get paid for doing so, that money must be turned over to the company.

        2. Greg NY*

          The problem is, what are “regular business hours” in a job with unlimited vacation (or, for that matter, in any exempt position)? Business hours can bleed into the evening, early morning, and weekends, and personal time can bleed into the typical 9-5 workday. There’s a gray area and I wouldn’t go so far as to say it just isn’t done. It just often doesn’t look good.

          1. Snark*

            Core business hours are maybe a useful concept to apply here – generally, it’s understood that core hours run between 9am-3pm.

            1. Danger: Gumption Ahead*

              So anything before 9 and after 3 would be fine? Then technically it sounds like she could do evening/weekend care and pick-up/drop-off, no problem. I’d also argue that if she took time off to travel out of the area then any paid work she did when in another location would be fine, but I’m not so sure why that feels different to me

              1. Snark*

                That’s not what I said; I was answering “what are regular business hours.” I would object to a direct report regularly taking PTO at 3pm to go pick up the kids she was nannying. Strongly. If she made a practice of arriving at 6:30am and was working the full 40hrs/week, I would not.

                Evenings and weekends? Sure. Regular, scheduled PTO to cover pick-up/drop off? Hell no.

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Agreed. Regular business hours are 9-5, unless you’re in an industry with very different norms, and core hours are 9-3.

              I don’t think it’s in any way a gray area to say “hey, when we’re paying you to work, we’d like you to prioritize your work for us.”

      4. Lexi Kate*

        Yes op needs to check and Make sure she didn’t sign anything or it’s not in a handbook that she cannot work a second job during company hours. We instituted this policy many years ago to stop the barrage of employees blogging in the bathroom, selling nerium/young living/shakeology/younique etc in the office. For our company this is a fireable offense. It would be a thin line in a company with unlimited leave since that time is not earned it given.

      5. all the candycorn*

        I worked at a fitness-focused community nonprofit where we had a lot of part-time employees who had full time jobs elsewhere. The only time we ever had people working with us in lieu of their other job was if it was some unique event like a certification class that ran Friday/Saturday/Sunday, or a special one-off community event we hosted annually that was near and dear to them. Otherwise, they’d work during their free time and company-is-closed holidays.

      6. Jadelyn*

        I was just coming to note that, re personnel policies. OP, I suggest you check your company’s handbook for policies on outside employment before you do anything. Working a second job sometimes may or may not violate the PTO policy, but it could still run afoul of an outside employment policy if you have one.

    2. Jennifer*

      Well, one time I took a week of vacation to go pet sit for two people (one of them being a friend, the other being a friend of that friend) and I was getting paid to do it. Then again, they live in a vacation destination spot so uh….I guess it counted as both.

      1. Bumble*

        Yes, this is kind of what I was thinking.

        As a co-worker, I would think that someone leaving early to pick up someone else’s child (paid) was very very odd. Also doing someone else’s sick days.

        But if I asked about someone’s summer vacation, and they said “I went to Florida! Yeah, I travelled with the family I used to nanny for, it was great to hang out with the kiddo again,” I wouldn’t think anything of it. Free/cheap (or even paid) vacation with a family you’re close to, planned well in advance – wouldn’t register as strange to me. But I guess that’s what A means about once or twice a year.

        1. Seriously?*

          Also, it is prearranged time off for a long vacation which can be planned around. Taking a day off when school is closed or the parents can’t pick their kid up is a last minute thing which is inherently more disruptive. I wouldn’t think twice about a coworker working as a nanny on their vacation. I would seriously side eye someone who calls out last minute regularly to take care of someone else’s kid for money.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            Yeah, that would be my biggest issue as a hypothetical coworker. Everyone has last-minute emergencies, but getting paid to deal with someone *else’s* last-minute emergencies seems like something that shouldn’t be affecting my own workload. Getting paid to go on a vacation that’s identical to Joe’s unpaid vacation doesn’t bother me. Or even, say, taking two weeks off in the fall to work on a political campaign or something like that. Again, scheduled in advance and very time-limited.

            If this is a job where it really doesn’t matter to coworkers when you’re in the office and your own work is getting done, it still feels sketchy but I guess I can’t actually think of a logical reason to object.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Great point – if it’s pre-planned and rare, I wouldn’t see much of an issue with it, but it sounds like OP is talking about short-notice things and fairly frequent – 1-2 times a month for the pickup thing, for example. Like you, I don’t mind covering for a coworker who has a sick kid for a couple days without notice since that’s super normal, but I’d be pretty annoyed at having to cover for a coworker who’s dumped their workload on me so they can be elsewhere making money taking care of someone else’s sick kid.

          2. JSPA*

            If she’s writing code (say), her co-workers would have no reason to notice, let alone feel any effect of her absence. Why presume that her job is one where flexibility is problematic, when so few companies offer these sorts of options (and those that do tend to be those where it actually isn’t disruptive)?

        2. Kes*

          Yeah, I think that’s actually the part that’s most likely to be okay – a one off, planned in advance trip that OP is taking as her vacation. I think the problems arise more in taking time off for an ongoing job (most likely, on top of time for vacations) and taking advantage of the flexibility in hours to do so. The company provides that flexibility as a benefit for things you need to do, not so that you can skip out on hours you would normally be at work to make additional money elsewhere.

          1. AMPG*

            I’m with you – planned vacation time is planned vacation time, and it’s nobody’s business what you do with that time. But last-minute call-outs have a much higher potential to affect your work flow or your coworkers, so it’s not appropriate to use them for paid work elsewhere.

        3. EddieSherbert*

          Yeah, I was coming here to say this – I actually think the planned-in-advance trips where you nanny should be totally fine. You know well in advance, and it IS a vacation of sorts to a destination.

          Just be reasonable about it!
          If you know you’re taking 3-4 weeks of ‘actual’ vacations this year, maybe don’t add any “paid nannying trips” to that. But if you don’t travel much and even with the “nannying trips,” you’d only be out 3-4 weeks…. I say go for it!

          1. Youth*

            Yeah, I feel like taking vacations where you happen to get paid is different than leaving work early for a second job. As long as it’s not über excessive, that is.

        4. Riley*

          @ Bumble, I was thinking that too! As long as the LW takes about the same amount of vacation time for trips as her coworkers do, it seems like it would be fine if some of that vacation time was used for trips with close family friends who also pay for the LW to watch their kid some of the time they’re on the trip.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The thing that’s most relevant here is that it’s unlimited vacation. If she got 3 weeks of vacation time a year, it would be totally fine for her to use that to work another job if she wanted to. But that’s not the case here — it’s unlimited, and that means she’s expected to use her judgment about managing how much time off she takes, and she’s not expected to use it to go do other paying work.

      1. Jen*

        Yeah, to be clear “unlimited” leave is not truly “unlimited”. It is crucial to read office norms, particularly as the job advances. When you are first learning a job, I would limit time off. I train people and new employees often can absorb the “work hit” from vacation less ably than older employees. So the “get the work done” assessment may be different for a newer employee.

        1. Snark*

          Yes. It’s not “take unlimited vacation time.” It’s “take as much time as you would like to take from the Venn overlap between your wants, your needs, your work, your coworkers’ work, and our needs for coverage and a certain level of productivity.”

          1. Snark*

            Ideally, that is. In practice, it’s often, “Take whatever time we will passive-aggressively begrudge you, if you feel like we’ll still promote you and give you raises for taking a normal amount of time off, unlike Chad who has displayed fantastic dedication to the team and took his last day off sometime in 2002.”

            1. Greg NY*

              That’s always going to be the case at some employers. It’s why pregnancy and childrearing are discriminated against. It doesn’t mean we should be at our employers’ beck and call, especially in strong job markets such as this one.

      2. media monkey*

        if she was going to travel with this family and be paid to look after their kids, and that was instead of the 2 week holiday she would have taken, that would be fine though wouldn’t it?

        the issue would be if you took 2 weeks to travel with them and then used that money to book another 2 weeks holiday for yourself?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yeah, I think the vacations could still work, if they are rare. It’s not that different from if you take a family trip with your parents, who pay. But you can’t mix them with taking off early with no notice to handle their preschool pickup. (Reminds me of a letter re nepotism, where some nepotism hires explained their frequent absences as when they do things for their family, the company owners–like walk the dog, pick up the kids from school, go deal with Aunt Trudy. They saw it as “hey, I’m not going to the spa here” but their coworkers weren’t allowed to leave work while being paid to walk their dogs, deal with their aunts, etc.)

          If this set-up turns into taking unlimited time off to deal with third party needs (the second paying job–so not your own kid at daycare, or your own sick parent or working late spouse) plus unlimited time off to deal with your own needs (your own errands, medical appointments, and travel) then it’s effectively twice as much as you “need.” To your coworkers, you loom as the person who’s going to ruin it so we can’t have nice things anymore.

      3. soon 2be former fed*

        I really don’t understand the relevance of it being so called “unlimited” leave. These schemes are designed to avoid accruing an obligation to pay out unused leave balances when employment ends. They are not truly unlimited, as acceptable amounts of time off are normalized in practice and unlimited doesn’t mean twelve weeks off. Employees are expected to use judgement in managing leave no matter what type of plan they are under. If you are free to do whatever you want with a set amount of leave, why aren’t you free to do so under and unlimited arrangement? That seems unfair to the employee. I prefer an established bucket of leave rather than unlimited leave that really isn’t.

        1. baseballfan*

          I agree with this. If time off is “unlimited,” then there’s lack of clarity about how much time off is really OK in practice. I much prefer knowing how much time I have. And yes, I’ve enjoyed a few accrued vacation checks when leaving one job for another.

          1. Greg NY*

            If it is truly “take whatever you need as long as your work is done”, then that’s what it should be. Otherwise, it isn’t truly unlimited and it shouldn’t be delineated as such.

        2. Lexi Kate*

          I have always understood it as accrued leave or a specifically amount allotted then it’s yours to use as you want for the most part because you earned it. Unlimited leave is discretionary to be used when you can but is almost like leaving early when your salary, because it’s not earned or specifically allotted per employee.

          1. Greg NY*

            And you should be able to leave early, when exempt, if your work is done for that day. Why it isn’t done that often is something I honestly never understood. The whole idea of being exempt is, instead of being paid every hour you work and none that you don’t work (PTO aside), you are paid a set salary no matter how much or how little you work. Being exempt is “work until your work is done”, not “work a minimum number of hours, you could always do more, but not fewer”.

            1. LarsTheRealGirl*

              But in a lot of jobs – especially in higher level exempt ones – your work is never “done”.

              I don’t have a set of tasks on a checklist that I cross out and go “now I can leave for the day”. There are long term projects that are sitting on the back burner. There’s a white paper I wanted to start on expanding our internal services. There’s work my employees have that I could help to streamline.

              There’s literally never a point where I say “whew, done!” I have high priority “regular” tasks – so if I got my “this must get done or people don’t get paid/things blow up” list done every week, and then took the other 10-20 hours off because “my core job is done”, it wouldn’t go over well.

              When I’m planning for vacation or time off, I make sure that those items are covered, but the rest of the time I’m expected to be putting in full 40+ hour weeks working on those back burner items and improving my team and functions.

              1. AMPG*

                I agree. I’ve never worked an exempt job where I was 100% done with work (except for the federal government shutdown of 2013, because I could only do work that could be billed to the previous fiscal year, and that was limited). If I’m lucky, I can push out all my deliverables on schedule and ALSO work on long-term projects with no set deadline, but even that isn’t a given. I feel like that’s one of the tradeoffs of being exempt – I’m at a level of responsibility such that there’s always something else to do.

        3. an infinite number of monkeys*

          It’s really “undefined” rather than “unlimited,” and as soon2be former fed points out it kind of takes away the guidelines for what’s acceptable to take.

          1. Greg NY*

            It should literally be whatever you need, the only factor is whether your work is getting done. If that isn’t really true, then it’s not really unlimited. I would, if this was me, ask whether it’s truly unlimited or whether there is a guideline in practice. Some things are spun as being different than they actually are.

            1. LarsTheRealGirl*

              I mean… you’re taking it to a bit of a ridiculous degree. This week a dude got banned from an all-you-can-eat buffet for eating too much. We understand that in life “unlimited” doesn’t always mean ASMUCHASYOUWANTTAKEALLTHETHINGS.

              And as I mention above, “getting your work done” isn’t a hard line that many of us can draw in our work.

              You are expected to be reasonable about leave policies – as with everything else in an office – taking into account your team’s needs, your employer’s needs, and balancing your own. “Unlimited” policy theories are based on treating employees as adults who will act like adults and be reasonable in their priorities. It’s not a chance to be an unsupervised kid in a candy store.

              1. Moomin*

                ‘Tis no man, ’tis a remourseless eating machine”
                “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, does this sound like the actions of a man who had all he could eat?”
                “This is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The Neverending Story.”
                “Mr. Simpson, I don’t use the word ‘hero’ lightly, but you are the greatest hero in American history.”

    4. E.*

      But people often use their vacation time to do things that are stressful or otherwise not relaxing, and an employer would be way out of line if they took issue with that. I agree that what OP’s suggesting is something that seems like it should be OK but probably isn’t, I just don’t think that’s the reason.

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Yeah – I honestly think that AcademiaNut hit on a really good point below when she suggested a lot of this is about reputation.

        The fact is, we simply feel differently about someone taking a lot of leave because of an illness or caring for a family member (stressful life events to use vacation for) rather than working a second job, which would likely raise questions about her commitment. And whether those questions are justified or not, if you’re new in your career, it’s to your benefit if they don’t come up at all.

        Of course, I might feel differently if OP wasn’t receiving a livable wage from her employer, but based on this letter I’m not sure that’s the case.

        1. Washi*

          I think I still agree with Greg NY, I would just rephrase it to say that the company is giving unlimited time off for employees to manage their lives in a way that means they are coming into the office as least stressed as possible, whether that’s by taking a vacation or taking care of a family member. If the OP mentioned having huge debts or that she’s paid very little, I might feel differently, but I think using the perk of unlimited vacation for your side gig, especially involving last-minute call-outs goes against the spirit of the policy, if not the letter.

        2. Seriously?*

          I think the difference is the element of choice. If you are sick or your family member is sick, that is something beyond your control and you are trying to cope as best you can. If you take a second job, that was a choice that you made and therefore the added stress was optional.

        3. smoke tree*

          I think the main difference is the clear conflict of interest–if you’re regularly choosing to leave early to make money elsewhere, it broadcasts that you’re not really that committed to your primary job.

      2. soon 2be former fed*

        Yep, what I do with my vacation time is my business, rehab my house, whatever. No paternalism required, I’m an adult thank you very much.

    5. MK*

      Actually, the friend is not 100% wrong. There are jobs (many goverment positions for example) in which it is actually legally forbidden to accept outside employment, and others where the company has rules against it, in which case, if you have an employement contract, you would be in breach, and, even if you don’t, you could get fired for it.

      1. Annoyed*

        Do you have any examples if thise government jobs?

        I agree that OP shouldn’t be doing this.

        Generally speaking though unless something is in direct conflict wth your employer’s business or some sort if national security risk, barring a signed contract (rare in the US) to the contrary it’s none of your employer’s business what you do when you aren’t actively doing work for them.

        1. AnonGov*

          Without doxing myself, I hold one of these jobs, and there are a lot good reasons for it. The high level basics is that I could improperly make money off the public in my position. There are restrictions in place to make sure I don’t.

          1. Emily K*

            Restrictions based on internal policies or contracts, I obviously believe, but I’m surprised to hear it would be illegal? As in you could be brought up on charges in a court and subject to criminal or civil penalties if you did violated the rule?

            1. Snark*

              Depending on the degree to which you abused the public trust and/or you or your close associates benefited, one could absolutely be civilly or criminally responsible. It could also get a contract protested and you fired.

              1. JustAClarifier*

                I too am in such a position and would like to note that you can accept outside employment IF it is submitted and sanctioned up the chain of approval and does not result in bias, conflicts of interest, or selling to any gov’t activities. With that said, it is inherently possible that this varies by country.

            2. Jen*

              If you work for the federal government, a lot you would not expect can be straight up criminal. It is extremely unlikely you will be prosecuted, for instance, but violations of computer policy (things that can create a security risk) are technically, illegal, for instance. And time card fraud is technically federal theft.

              1. Snark*

                Yep. I work in a mindblowingly secure area, and there are things I would not think twice about, like wearing a Fitbit or carrying a mobile phone into certain areas, that could get me rung up on federal charges.

                There are a LOT of laws around apparent or actual conflicts of interest, use of one’s position for political or ideological purposes, and exposure of sensitive information to third parties that could get you in serious hot water.

                1. Decima Dewey*

                  If you work for some city governments, you are expressly forbidden to also work for the county, the state, or the federal government. A part-time circulation assistant in my city library system who worked for the IRS part-time during tax season lost her library job.

        2. MK*

          I am not from the U.S.; in my country, all civil cervants are not allowed outside employment, as in they are not allowed to be employees due to potential conflicts of interest; they are also not allowed to engage in trade, as in open a shop, etc., though they are not barred from other money-making activities, like publishing a novel or teaching at any level. Professional entities also enforce a number of restrictions on their members; the Bar Association has a whole lists of activities lawyers cannot engage in, if they want to keep their lisence.

          I would argue that in the U.S. “your employer’s business” is what they say it is, since they can fire you pretty easily for not abiding by their rules.

        3. YetAnotherFed*

          I would bet that the IRS doesn’t allow its employees to moonlight as tax preparers. The US Patent & Trademark Office doesn’t allow the examination corps (i.e. the patent & trademark examiners) to moonlight as patent or trademark attorneys representing applicants. There are also restrictions on how much stock (dollar value) a patent examiner can own.

          1. Jen*

            There is a general rule that if you work for for the US government, you are not permitted to represent others to or petition the government in any way (with exceptions for assisting a parent or child or similar). So an IRS lawyer neighbor can’t represent you in a Small Business association application either, for instance.

        4. Persimmons*

          A teacher I’m related to got in trouble for this. He was a full-time teacher at District 1, and taught summer school at District 2. Teacher had off from District 1 for Good Friday, but District 2 lost that day to snow make-ups because they were quick to call off for winter weather. District 2 was scrambling for subs because people were calling out en masse for the holiday. District 2 called Teacher and begged him to come in, knowing he had off from District 1. He was glad to do it, and got substitute pay for the day.

          The following week when people were chatting about their Easter weekend, he mentioned the subbing day anecdotally, thinking nothing of it. It got back to District 1 administration and they flipped out and called him into the office to be reprimanded. The union got involved and administration eventually backed down to “Okay just this once, but NEVER do that again”.

          1. ScienceTeacherHS*

            This example in particular seems like something that should be a nonissue. At least in my neck of the woods, teachers are paid on salary but that salary is really broken down into a daily rate based on about 185 contract days. The specific number of contract days are written into the contract. If Good Friday was a day that Teacher had off, it means he wasn’t getting paid for that day per the contract. So he subbed somewhere on a day he had no obligations to the school district and got reprimanded for it. I’m glad the union got involved; this sounds like a huge overreach by the district in controlling their employee’s non-contract time.

        5. Salamander*

          I held two government jobs that did not permit outside employment. One dealt with budgets in state government and another with IT in local government. This is very, very common in the government world.

        6. RabbitRabbit*

          Not government jobs but many/most hospitals have moonlighting policies for their staff, especially any resident physicians. And it’s legally required for physicians to disclose to their institution any consulting work that they do for pharma companies, as well as other financial conflicts of interest.

        7. AnonJustForThis*

          Even private institutions face limitations. In my firm, you have to report all outside business activity, volunteer or paid, and either certify that no one in your household works in a similar industry, or if they do, we need a record of where they work and what they do. Not too many people have second jobs, and if you want to sit on the board of your neighborhood’s volunteer charity we’re not going to tell you no, but we’ve had to tell people they couldn’t work as outside contractors or consultants for a friend (paid or volunteer) because it would be a conflict of interest, and the company would get in major trouble.

        8. Gov Lawyer*

          I am an attorney for a municipality. I am not allowed to represent anyone else in any reason – and there are even pro bono opportunities I cannot participate in – because it might be a conflict of interest with my municipality. I also am not allowed to have any side hustles or political involvement in which I use company time when I’m supposed to be working, because my time is paid by taxpayers.

      2. Alice*

        I’m not aware of any government jobs with unlimited PTO (except president, senator, congressional representative).

        1. Doreen*

          I’m not so sure that matters. I have a state government job , need permission from my employer to have a second job, and am prohibited from using my limited leave time to work a second job.

          1. soon 2be former fed*

            US Fed here. Government jobs are a different animal, and likely don’t offer unlimited leave. It’s common for police and firefighters to moonlight but it is usually during off-duty hours.

      3. Seriously?*

        It isn’t just government jobs. Graduate students at the school I went to ban taking other employment. We were paid a stipend and the expectation was that we spent all the time we could doing research and working towards our thesis. In practice, it was not strictly enforced unless you tried to get another job in science, but we did have to sign a statement saying we understood that if we took another job we would lose our stipend.

    6. Doug Judy*

      I’m presuming that OP#1 will also want to use leave for her own days off as well, so added in being back up child care/traveling as a nanny it could be a lot of time off.

      Especially being new to the company, I would only agree to one or two planned days nannying. Unlimited time off is a privilege and you don’t want to be seen as taking advantage. Even if she sets reasonable boundaries and doesn’t abuse the policy, it could become a slippery slope. Another employee might find out she’s taking time off to work another job, so then they try to do that too. That person might not handle it appropriately and soon it becomes A Thing, and the policy is revised or they take the unlimited time away and go back to set PTO.

    7. MissGirl*

      I use vacation days to work another job but here’s why it works for both parties.

      I’ve disclosed it so they know what I’m doing.

      It’s extremely limited and structured to be only certain days and it’s days when a lot of people are off. I’m a ski instructor so we’re talking the week between Christmas and New Years and a day or two around the other holidays.

      If you’re leaving work early at a moment’s notice to pick up a kid, even only a few times a month, you’re not doing right by your employee.

      If the only days you take off is to work another job (because you’re not going to have the goodwill to take off more), you’re not doing right by yourself.

      1. CM*

        These are great guidelines. Basically, if you can do it with full disclosure and without any harm to your employer, it’s fine. In this OP’s case, it sounds like she wouldn’t be comfortable telling her employer, and she would be leaving work early or taking off more time than she normally would to work her second job. I see how it may feel different being a nanny, though, which also involves maintaining a relationship with this family.

    8. Nita*

      But if I understand the letter correctly, the time off *is* paid? And that adds another wrinkle – the OP would be getting paid in two places at once. I think many jobs don’t have prohibitions on doing paying work while on PTO (I’m thinking taking on small paid jobs, making crafts for sale, etc.), but since the PTO here is unlimited there’s going to be an incentive for OP to cut corners at the main job to have more time off for the second one. After all, the “as long as your work is getting done” bit is honors system… at least, up to the point where the amount of time off starts causing noticeable performance problems.

      I can’t speak about the legality of this, but it doesn’t look great ethically, and has the potential to negatively affect coworkers. Even if OP plans to make sure her work is all wrapped up before taking leave, the times when she has to watch a sick child or do a last-minute preschool pickup are going to be last-minute and unpredictable, and someone still has to cover for things that come up unexpectedly while OP is away.

      1. Close Bracket*

        “the OP would be getting paid in two places at once.”

        Not if it’s salaried. Then you are only paid to get results and to be in the office/working the hours that your manager wants you to be in the office/working.

    9. Close Bracket*

      “part of the reason for taking time off, in the eyes of the company, is to rest and recharge, to be at peak effectiveness on the days you are there.”

      OK, but the second job is child care. How is paid child care different from unpaid child care? How is doing nanny work different from doing parenting work? Are you saying that working parents shouldn’t be able to take time off when their kid is sick or home for a school holiday bc taking care of their kid will prevent them from being at peak effectiveness at work? Think carefully before you answer this.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#4, please don’t be apologetic for taking your leave! It’s ok to acknowledge/apologize for the disruption, but as you noted, sick leave is there for good reason, and you’re entitled to max it out.

    If your employer is covered by the FMLA, you may also want to keep track of when you become eligible* for its protections and request intermittent caregiver leave at that time.

    * You become eligible when you’ve worked at least 1250 hours over the previous 12 months for an employer with 50 or more employees hired for at least 20 workweeks per year.

    1. jman4l*

      Ditto. Please apply for FMLA as soon as you are eligible. One question….Does your sick leave cover someone else being sick? At my company it doesn’t.

      1. Grand Mouse*

        Hmm that doesn’t make sense to me. FMLA stands for Family and Medical Leave Act, so it inherently covers family members. I’d go back and get more clarification. But it should definitely cover her caring for her child.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          jman4l is asking about the OP’s employer’s sick leave policy, not FMLA. Some companies say sick leave (not FMLA) is only for you, not taking care of others. (But it’s pretty common for it to cover both.)

          1. Book Lover*

            I have extremely generous benefits, but I was coming on here to ask the same question. I have to take FMLA to take care of sick kids unless they have given me whatever lovely bugs they are suffering from. Sick leave is for when I am sick, not for caregiving.

            1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              This varies by employer! At my last job, my employer’s sick leave was for me being sick, only. At the current job, my sick leave includes caretaking for a sick relative. It’s good to get a sense of which framework applies, although OP has noted that their employer’s policy includes caregiving for a sick relative.

            2. Jadelyn*

              I hate when employers do that – my org lets staff use their sick leave for their own illness, to care for someone in their household who’s ill, for doctor’s appointments, and for doctor’s appointments of family members. I’ve used my sick time to cover taking a day off to drive my mother to Sacramento for surgery, and nobody batted an eye. Basically, as long as it involves someone’s health at some point in the situation, you can use your sick leave for it. That’s how I explain it to new hires in orientation, anyway.

      2. OP IV*

        Yes, it does. It’s something of an industry, for good or for worse, dominated by “family types” and sick leave explicitly mentions caring for a family member as a legitimate use.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I agree! This isn’t something to apologize for. (Says a mom who’s staying home tomorrow again with a sick toddler… and my workplace is all being very understanding).

      Since you know you’re likely to be out, and often unexpectedly, one thing you can do that will be kind to your coworkers and make you feel better about being away is to plan for your absence by creating documentation, etc. so anything time-critical can be picked up by someone else. I’m a teacher and have felt so much better about taking sick leave (for myself or my kid) since I’ve built up a really solid folder of sub plans. Knowing I left things in good shape allows me to let go of work-thoughts while I’m sick or caring for my kid.

      1. No Name Yet*

        Oh, I think this idea of creating documentation a lot. There’s only 30% of my job that can be covered by others, but that part is time-sensitive, so knowing that other people can pick that right up b/c of documentation/training makes a huge difference – I’d still take the time off for sick kid/self, but it’d be more stressful for everyone.

      2. Ophelia*

        Yes – I really like the documentation idea. The other thing that I do (and I suspect most parents do) is leave my cell number with my team if I’m taking sick leave to care for kiddos. I definitely can’t accomplish much while watching sick children, but I can return calls during naps, or while in transit to appts and such. I should mention that my team is not the sort to abuse this, so YMMV of course. IME, taking sick time to care for family members is HUGELY valuable, but it also is a little more flexible than when I take a sick day for myself (which, because I work from home, generally means I feel AWFUL and really can’t work, even in PJs).

    3. Seriously?*

      Yeah, don’t apologize about using your benefits. Apologizing for there disruption/timing when you need to call out last minute can be good because it acknowledges any inconvenience to your coworkers but not in a way that implies you are at all wrong to be taking the time off.

  4. Enter_the_Dragonfly*

    OP1, while others may disagree, a reasonable course of action would be to see if the couple would be amenable to arranging other child care for sick dsys etc. but having you come along as nanny for any holidays. Provided you don’t take additional long holidays on top of that, I can’t see your employer thinking you’re taking advantage of their very generous policy.
    (P. S. Do they have any vacancies?!)

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      I agree. As long as your use of vacation time is in step with the rest of the organization (in terms of how much time you take and how far in advance it is arranged), and you’re meeting the requirement to get your work done, vacationing with this family and getting paid for it shouldn’t really be any different from any other vacation, as far as your employer is concerned.

      1. Susan*

        The only downside I could see is that the “vacation” they are taking is still working, and when do they get to take vacation to decompress without any work at all? I think there might be some side eye to abuse of the unlimited idea if it appears the OP is double dipping vacation.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          1. Weekends. Legal holidays. There are people who get no paid vacation at all, or none for a set amount of time, or who have to use it all for non-relaxing purposes. People *can* survive without big blocks of “decompression time.” It’s not ideal, but it’s definitely a first-world problem.

          2. If everyone else takes 3 or 4 weeks off, and the OP also takes 3 or 4 weeks off, why does it matter what she does during that time? If Fergus’s 2 weeks of vacation in Hawaii aren’t considered abuse, the OP’s 2 weeks of vacation at Disneyworld aren’t abusive, even if she’s a paid nanny during that time. Now, if every one else tends to take 2 weeks, and the OP takes her 2 weeks of “me time” vacation and also takes 2 weeks to be a nanny, then yes, that’s abusing the privilege.

    2. fortunate*

      I completely agree with the vacations. If you are getting the perk of being able to travel in exchange for childcare, and you enjoy/are okay with the trade off of working on vacation (or having more limited time to yourself and not having the ability to completely do what you want), why not continue to do this? Especially if your full time job is okay with you being out 1) for those days, 2) the length of time, 3) there are no other concerns about excessive time off, 4) you give appropriate notice.

      1. fortunate*

        by “no other concerns” I really mean – “this is your one vacation for the year OR the total time you are taking is within the norms for your company and staff level”

  5. Greg NY*

    #4: Sick leave is meant to be used, although not abused. People (or their kids) who are truly never sick and whose job is sufficiently devoid of stress may actually use none of their leave, while people who are sick a lot may not only use all their leave, but may have to take additional days unpaid after their sick leave is exhausted. The number of days allotted is usually an average of what employees have used in the past. It will be lower than what some might need, it will be higher than what others might need. If your sick leave needs are at the higher end of the spectrum, you can count on using all of yours.

    While Alison is right in that you might be judged for it when you’re new, the best way to combat that is to show your work ethic on days you are there. As you go through your sick leave, it would be helpful to tell your manager and those you work closely with (who depend on your work product and/or your presence) a general fact about the absences, that they are for your daughter. They will understand, and if they don’t, then they aren’t good people to be working with/for.

    1. Videogame Lurker*

      As much as I personally hate to acknowledge this, but if you say you’re using your sickleave to care for your daughter, many opinions of you will be in your favor, OP. It’s one of those “parent perks” (that aren’t really perks, but sort of are?) parents have. If you were using it for yourself (as far as anyone knew), you could be seen as a do nothing slacker who is gone a lot, but if you’re using it to care for your kiddo (especially pre-gradeschool in a daycare, preschool, kindergarten where germs spread like melted butter over the driest toast), you would be seen as a working parent of a young child (chronically ill aside even).

      Sure, there’s the “Ugh, she’s going to take care of her kid, why not just stay home instead like a Stay At Home Mom?” crowd, but if someone voices that opinion, then they will be outed as a jerk. I mean, SaHMs are becoming a rarer and rarer people where I live, and I work with kids.

      1. OP IV*

        Thanks for this perspective.

        Sadly, I left Last Job because it was toxic, but with a vague mentioning I might be looking for better hours to care for Sick Daughter… truth be told, one of the nice parts of New Job is the hours are ever so slightly better (enough to make a significant difference). Everyone at Last Job accepted that as a plausible reason.

        We did consider the Stay-at-Home Mom route upon diagnosis, but it wasn’t ideal and our Chronic Illness support group, while indeed having its share of stay-at-home parents, pretty much just said “Bah! Life moves on and it’s really not daily-life-impacting”.

        If I were to look at the positive side of realism on the matter, I would not miss a significant number of days–the scheduled doctors’ appointments alone wouldn’t make a real dent in the sick leave. It’s more of negative, it-could-happen side I”m concerned about (which indeed is as much a real possibility as missing only a small handful.

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          >We did consider the Stay-at-Home Mom route upon diagnosis, but it wasn’t ideal and our Chronic Illness support group, while indeed having its share of stay-at-home parents, pretty much just said “Bah! Life moves on and it’s really not daily-life-impacting”.

          I think that’s a really kind thing to model for your daughter if you’re able. (Not to imply that Stay-at-Home parents can’t do that, but given that it’s not a choice you would have made otherwise.) One of my friends has struggled a lot with her parents not being able to manage their own anxiety around her chronic condition/disability, and it’s really impacted how much the condition has affected her day-to-day mood and life.

      2. VioletEMT*

        See, I disagree. Caveat that I work in tech, so this is somewhat industry-dependent. If you’re a guy, taking time to care for a kid makes you Father of the Year. But if you’re a lady, taking that same time makes you less dedicated and committed, more likely to be pssed over for projects and opportunities and to be mommy-tracked in general. Having kids helps men and harms women. The only way for a woman with kids not to take a huge career hit is for them to have as little footprint on her work as possible. So in my world, I’d take the sick time – it’s mine to use, after all – but I’d have to keep very quiet about WHY.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Honestly, both ends of this spectrum are going to be true at different organizations. At Workplace A, people will sneer at you for being a weenie if you call in sick for yourself (“What, she has a cold? I work with a cold all the freaking time”) but will be more understanding if you’re calling in with a sick child (“Dang daycare rules… banned for 24 hours over a teeny little fever, but them’s the breaks!”). At Workplace B, you’re going to be That Mom if you admit, even once, that you have to stay home because your kid is sick. And yes, there are places where a guy doing this is Father of the Year, but there are other places where he gets even more disdain (“Why is he taking off? Why isn’t his wife doing that?”).

          1. Xarcady*

            My nephew was born with several serious medical issues. He spent 6 months in NICU, and needed home nurses for years after that.

            My brother was teaching high school at the time. After the first week, he did not miss any class time, but he got a lot of flack for not attending school events outside of the normal school day, like plays and football games and club meetings. The fact that he might want to spend the evening visiting his son apparently didn’t register.

            After Nephew came home, my brother did use some of his sick time to take him to doctor’s visits and the like, and got more flack for that. Surely the child’s mother could take care of all that? (Hint: taking a baby who is hooked up to a ventilator anywhere can be a two-person job, what with the need to keep him breathing while you carry him and the portable ventilator to and from the car.)

          2. Videogame Lurker*

            This is true, and variable on one’s field. I’ve seen (generally in my experience) more people gripe about someone taking a sick day for themselves than someone take a sick day to care for someone else.

            My inner snarking Videogame Lurker would be wanting to snarl to anyone making me in That Mom “Yes, you’re right. I should just leave my child vomiting at daycare/school in a cold nurse’s office and continue working. Or even better! Leave my very young child at home sick and all alone! What absolutely wonderful advice, Coworker!” in the sweetest, friendliest voice between gritted teeth.

            But that may just be a fantasy script I have.

        2. Persimmons*

          Also in tech, and I agree that this atmosphere prevails in many places. There is significant overlap between this attitude and the dads who refer to caring for their own children as “babysitting”.

        3. Bea*

          A new male coworker was suddenly downsized after taking a couple weeks off after the birth of a baby.

          “I’ll be needing 2 weeks paternity leave when baby comes.”
          “No big deal. Sure thing!”
          Returns from leave…
          “So…we’re restructuring and you’re no longer needed.”

          Given his position, I could tell damn well they weren’t interested in keeping a guy who was “bold” enough to request time to care for his family.

            1. Seriously?*

              Situations like that can be difficult to prove. If his position actually was eliminated then it can be difficult to prove it was because he took FMLA.

            2. Kyrielle*

              If they can’t prove it was a legitimate non-targeted downsizing, and if he wants to pursue it, and if FMLA applies to that employee at that location, it probably is.

        4. Fried douhgnuts*

          I’m in finance and I agree completely, in fact last week when mr. I almost played pro football announced to the group he was leaving early to take munchkin #2 to the dentist he received several great dad replies. While on Thursday I had the afternoon out on my calendar to take munchkin#1 to doctor (only time I have left early in 3 months) It was joked in our morning meeting that I was going part time. Also using more than 1/2 of my sick time would mean a meeting with my director, as we call sick time short term income protection and it is expected to be saved and used for sick events ( short surgeries)

      3. Murphy*

        Is that really a “parent perk”? My university says that sick leave can be used to care for an “immediate family member” so it could easily be used by non-parents even when the employee themselves aren’t sick.

        Also having to call out of work at the last minute because of a sick kid, and having less sick time to use for your own illnesses both really suck!

        1. CMart*

          That’s our policy too (at a Large Corporate HQ), but it’s really only something you hear of “parents” using. I think it’s more common for people to have sick kids than for any other immediate family members simply due to the fact that vastly more people have kids to care for than others.

          I did have a coworker often use sick time (we get unlimited, which is great because it means we can pop in and out for appointments without burning through a whole or half day) to take her mom to chemo appointments, but that’s the only instance I’ve personally heard of here.

          To your last point however–that aspect really does suck! Especially because it’s nearly inevitable that when kiddo gets sick, you’ll get sick immediately afterwards and 10x worse, and if you have to budget 10 sick days for the 5 times a year your kid isn’t allowed into daycare for 1-2 days, you’re pretty much SOL to tend to yourself.

          1. CupcakeCounter*

            I’ve taken more days off for dealing with my Husband than my kid. 3 days related to car accidents (X-rays, surgery, neurosurgeon appointments), 3 days for heart related surgeries (pacemaker and ICD installation and battery replacement), and most recently 2 days for hernia surgeries. We’ve been pretty lucky with the kid – after he turned a year old he’s been pretty damn healthy. He’s 9 now.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          I think it’s fair enough to consider it a “parent perk” since it’s mostly used for people taking care of their children. Yes, we have the same ability to use it for “immediate family members,” and I’ve used it to take my parent to the doctor, but I think the majority of the time it’s used by parents with sick kids.

        3. doreen*

          I think that probably depends a lot on your workplaces demographics- out of the 20 or so people I directly or indirectly supervise , only two have actual children. The rest either do not have children or their children are adults. The people who use the most sick time for family members are the two who have elderly parents in need of full-time care – and they use it in exactly the same ways that a parent of a young child might. For example, if elderly mom is too sick to attend the adult day-care center, or to take her to medical appointments because she is not capable of going alone.

        4. Videogame Lurker*

          I was specifically referring to the change of perspective for what the sick day was used for, the self vs. others (usually a child, I’ve heard people bemoan on “‘Why couldn’t your other parent just take your ill parent to the doctor?”), not the actual use of sick days for immediate family members.

  6. Cambridge Comma*

    For OP#1, I also think that holidays could be treated differently, particularly if you don’t accept payment for work but just let the family pay for your travel and expenses, and if you don’t take extensive additional holidays — you’d be on holiday, which is what your leave is for, and your employer doesn’t get a say in who you go away with.
    I wonder if offering the family evening and weekend babysitting for pay and the occasional helping them out after your normal work hours (i.e. being back-up plan C or D, you can’t continue being the first person they call) might be a way to keep this relationship alive without compromising your new job. Also, if you genuinely like the family and kids and would like to visit every few months to catch up as a friend, why not do that?

    1. Electric sheep*

      LW1: another thing to consider (and this may or may not apply to you) is that if this is the first time you’re working full time, you might find that you value your free time more and will want more time off for yourself, and not want to have another commitment. Like I said, everyone’s different so this might not be relevant, but I found that working full time I’m happier with free time than extra income.

      1. Annoyed*

        I think she needs to choose either current job or nanny job. If it is her first full time professional job I can understand not really being detached from nanny job emotionally yet, but she really needs IMO to really understand that she does not work for them anymore. Likewise the family needs to also understand that and employ a new nanny even if only part time.

    2. Fashion Don’t*

      If you aren’t desperate for the pay, another option is explicitly transitioning to the role of family friend. Make it clear you’d like to stay in the child’s life as an honorary auntie, but can no longer accept paid work.

      So, you might accept them paying airfare and hotel in returning for, say, babysitting a couple evenings during a trip, but would be treated as a friend rather than staff, including being free to do different activities than them the rest of the trip, and taking responsibility for other expenses, like you would if a friend negotiated a similar arrangement.

      It also means you could be an emergency pickup person for the child, but it really means emergency. Once, maybe twice a year, and clearly something you are doing as a favor to friends, rather than being paid for it. If a coworker left to pick up a friend’s child once a month, I’d be rolling my eyes. If it was once in a blue moon, because mom’s car broke down and dad’s plane is delayed and uncle Bob broke his ankle, I’m going to think how lucky they are to have a friend willing to pitch in.

    3. Kes*

      Yeah I think the “don’t take extensive additional holidays” is a key part of this – OP would need to take the time not on top of her normal vacations, but as a normal vacation.

  7. Tau*

    Overseas perspective on #1: as far as I can tell, this would in fact most likely be illegal in Germany. (Obligatory IANAL disclaimer, but both the law and the articles I’ve found online explaining it seem pretty clear.) The reasoning is basically that the purpose of mandatory paid holiday is rest/recovery. If you take a second job, that runs contrary to this.

    The law obviously doesn’t apply in the US, but the reasoning can be taken across – if you spend your PTO from your employer working a second job and end up facing burnout because you don’t actually take the time to recover, it’d be understandable for them to be pissed.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      On the other hand, a vacation could provide rest and recovery, even if you were babysitting. After all, it works that way for parents who travel without babysitters.

      1. Ryn*

        Hmm when the small one one younger, for me the holiday was not as restful as going back to work. Milage varies among parents and what their work is like. There’s a Fowl Language cartoon (link in my name) that perfectly sums up many past long weekends for me

        1. CMart*

          Ha– I was going to say, if you’re at the life stage of wanting/needing a nanny to take on vacation then chances are it’s because the children don’t allow for restful and rejuvenating time off together! I have a toddler and she’s sweet and all, but the constant vigilance required of living life with her is the opposite of “rest and recovery”, especially if we’re not on familiar turf.

        2. Rusty Shackelford*

          Okay, but if the policy is that vacation leave is so you can relax, and therefore any non-relaxing use of it is inappropriate, and if the general consensus is that vacationing with children is not relaxing, doesn’t that mean the employer should be providing paid childcare so parents can have this mandatory childfree relaxation? Cause I’m completely in favor of that.

          1. CMart*

            That would be lovely indeed!

            I can’t speak to Germany, but I do think the same principle generally holds true in the US as well as far as vacation time being used to “get away from work”. If you’re using it to go do more work (aka: paid work) then you’re not using it correctly.

            Sadly for me, it’s not my employer’s fault that a family vacation is the least relaxing thing in the world right now.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              Huh. I use vacation time for lots of things, many of which are not relaxing at all, and no one’s ever told me I’m “not using it correctly.” Is this only for people who have separate buckets of “PTO” and “vacation time?” I mean, there’s absolutely nothing relaxing about waiting for the plumber or taking my dog to the vet or moving my daughter into a dorm or visiting my inlaws, and yet I must use “vacation” time for them.

              1. CMart*

                The key words here are “get away from work”. Waiting for the plumber isn’t working, even if it’s unfun.

              2. Tau*

                Yeah, I think “rest and relaxation” may have been the wrong terms to use. The “purpose of vacation/holiday/PTO” (Urlaubszweck) seems to be a pretty specific term in the law and I’m having trouble nailing down what exactly it means, especially because all the sources that go into detail on this seem to be in German and something always gets lost in translation. The general idea does seem to be that the point of PTO is for you to get away from work, whether that’s relaxing, handling things in your private life, bonding with your family, etc. Paid work is likely not to be in line with that. There *is* a fuzzy area in that only paid work which is contrary to the Urlaubszweck is banned, but this one employment law blog I found said that this is generally considered to be most forms of secondary employment and people don’t have an easy time arguing this clause.

                I really cannot pepper enough IANAL disclaimers across this post. Even my layman understanding of employment laws and the logic behind them is significantly better for US laws than German ones, thanks to reading AAM religiously.

      2. media monkey*

        umm, not necessarily! it is certainly a long way from, being as relaxing as a holiday taken without kids where you can laze, eat, drink, shop and sightsee with no sandcastles, tantrums, “i’m bored”, mummy mummy mummy…

      3. Nita*

        It could, but it probably won’t! The couple of vacations I’ve taken with kids were mostly consumed with breaking up fights, making sure no one falls in a lake or runs into a tree while biking, much dropping whatever I’m doing because someone needs a bathroom, much negotiation with other family members if I wanted half an hour for an activity that wasn’t safe for kids, and a lot of wolfing down my dinner on the go while everyone is getting up to leave (the regular mealtime went to feeding at least one kid who’s suddenly forgotten how to use a spoon). The only restful things about it were not being in the city, not having to commute to work, and not having to deal with cooking and dishes. So overall, better than the day-to-day, but definitely not relaxing.

      4. Ophelia*

        LOL, my stepsister and I have a running joke based on the premise of a funny article a few years ago, namely: Are we on vacation, or are we on A Trip? The gist of it is that if you are traveling elsewhere with small children, unless you also hire a babysitter for a night out or something, you are *not* on vacation, you’re just parenting in a different location, and you, my friend, are On A Trip. And yes, it’s great to go to the beach! But I spent pretty much the entirety of my “vacation” this summer chasing down a 1.5-yo with no sense of her own mortality to keep her from just diving headlong into the ocean (even the best life jacket is no match for a determined toddler). I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t kind of a relief to get back to work.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Ha! I’m getting the feeling I’m the only one here who actually enjoyed vacations with my young child. I mean, naturally it’s less relaxing than vacations without a young child, but I still always had a good time.

    2. Close Bracket*

      Are German parents prohibited from providing childcare to their offspring while they are on vacation? Bc that’s what OP1 is doing. She’s providing childcare. Why is it different that she gets paid to do while parents don’t?

  8. RoadsGirl*


    While I’m sure your nanny family rocks and would be workable, I highly warn against really trying to balance two jobs on that kind of leave policy.

    I’ve been a nanny, where none of this came up so really has no impact on my point. I’ve also been a dog sitter, a regular scheduled dog sitter. I gave notice of leave when my super nerdy I-wanna-work-at-camp-and-manage-an-entire-lake job was approaching. They begged me to find ways to abandon my camp lake… I looked… way too stressful.

  9. Bowserkitty*

    OP2 – Absolutely take advantage of the conference feedback/questionnaire if they send out one. When I was doing event planning we definitely took critical comments into consideration. And if they happen to not have a questionnaire post-conference, I second what someone said about sending in the feedback unsolicited. That is just gross of him.

    1. OP2*

      Thank you, I eventually submitted my feedback via an anonymous survey link that the organizers sent out. I just felt that I had to do something to make sure his behavior wouldn’t continue.

      1. Cynical*

        While I think it is important to report things like this every time we see them (especially if it can be done in a form that is not detrimental to our own careers, like the feedback form you used), it is also important to not see it as a personal failure by yourself if the person does continue this behavior/the organization continues to value him. Sometimes it seems to me that even if every single person in the audience gave that kind of feedback, the people in power would still find ways of ignoring it.

      2. Curious*

        “This field is small and non-technical with low barriers to entry. It is well-known for being inclusive, collaborative, and diverse, and having an equal representation of men and women. ”

        Is there a way to tell us what field this without compromising your anonymity? Your description has me scratching my head … what could it be?

      3. ElspethGC*

        If they get back to you or if you attend another one of their conferences, I think we’d all love an update! It’d be interesting to see how seriously they take that anonymous survey, and to see if more people than just you have complained.

      4. Snickerdoodle*

        I think that creep’s supervisors should be very aware of his behavior since commenting on women’s appearances in a sexualized way is harassment and is 100% illegal.

    2. Mary*

      I was at a conference where a speaker on leadership started off with a sexist joke, which meant I was primed to notice that every example of leadership that he gave throughout his talk was male! I absolutely mentioned it in my feedback, because it was completely detrimental to my experience of the conference. It’s very difficult to listen or engage when you’re simmering with anger!

    3. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Rolled in to say this. I’ve organized conferences and was very clear that if we did something that alienated some number of attendees, we’d risk not having them come (and pay their fees) the next year. I would absolutely want to hear that one of the speakers was an offensive dud.

  10. Accidental Analyst*

    OP4 any chance that you could work from home on some of the days you have to keep your daughter home? Even if you’re only working part of the day it may make it less disruptive for work and make you feel better about the situation

    1. OP IV*

      Not possible in my field, but it’s actually something my husband can do on the right days, so we have that.

  11. Mystery Bookworm*

    OP #1

    I completely get why you still want to see the family! I miss some of the kids I used to work with often. Still, a few things to consider:

    – if you’ve only recently started and worked at this place during the summer, you might not have a realistic sense of how much vacation time gets used throughout the year, if there are busy periods, etc.

    – some of what you’re describing is planned vacation, but some (after-school pickups) would be a last minute call out. The latter tend to be more stressful for colleagues, who might have to scramble to cover you. A lot of people who would do that generously if they think you’re struggling with childcare might be resentful if they knew you were at a second job.

    – between all their vacations and sick days, would you have enough for your own? You might find yourself feeling run ragged if you’re juggling two jobs and don’t have time for your own breaks or (!) sick leave. There’s a reason you left this nannying job after all, and you don’t want to be so tired that you’re not able to fully engage with your new path.

    I think that it might be worth seeing if you can keep doing one or two of their vacations – but I would be really cautious about the after-school pickups and the sick days, at least until you get some more time in your new role.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      This is a good point. Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes time to build a good work reputation, so you need to be careful to establish yourself as a dependable worker who does get things done, before you start emulating the behaviour of long term employees. And the issue of busy times is a good one, as you haven’t seen a full year cycle of work yet.

      Also, if the kid has just started preschool, they’re likely to be sick a *lot*. It’s not going to be a few days here and there of not feeling well, but one illness after another. And if you’re caring for them, you’re going to get sick a lot too, generally at about the time they’re feeling better (this is a known feature of a kid starting school or daycare). So you’ll be taking a lot of time off for this, and it will generally be last minute time off, making it harder to keep your general work productivity up.

      I agree that taking a longer vacation with them is the most feasible option, with the caveat that you’d be taking the time off as if it were your own vacation, one that you happen to spend with your former employers.

    2. HeyAnonnyNonnyNo*

      Was scrolling down to make basically your second point. If one of my colleagues says “Argh, my daughter is ill at school and I have to go and collect her/my wife’s been pulled into a three hour meeting and now I have to do pickup- could you possibly finish XYZ for me?” I’m happy to do it – at least partly because that flexibility works both ways. If the colleague says “I’m off to earn some unexpected side cash – can you finish XYZ for me?” well, that’s completely different. Being charitable, it’s probably OP1’s lack of workplace experience that is stopping her seeing that.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This comes up re attending weddings–people figure if you can find a friend to watch your kids so you can attend a funeral Wednesday afternoon, then that same friend should be delighted to watch your kids so you can attend a weekend wedding next month. Asking for favors doesn’t work like that–it’s one case where the intent behind the action (inconveniencing someone else) matters far more than the action.

      2. Oxford Comma*

        I too was about to make this point. I’ve happily covered for people who were sick, had family members who were sick, needed to take off an unexpected day here or there. No problem. But I would resent picking up extra work for someone who’s going out to pick up extra cash.

        Also, I wanted to riff off a point Electric sheep made. If this is your first full time job, well, it’s an adjustment. You may think you’ll have all this energy and time to take on extra work, but that can get old fast.

        In any case, I think you may want to work there longer to really get a feel for the culture of the workplace before you take on this extra work.

    3. Genny*

      Another thing to consider, if daycare unexpectedly got shut down because of weather, I bet there are a lot of caregivers at your work who are now scrambling to find alternative childcare or to take time off to watch the kids. If you’re also trying to get time off to nanny, you very well might be contributing to a situation where now a parent who really needed the time off is denied leave because there’s not enough people to cover. I don’t think that’s very fair to your co-workers.

      I’m not usually one of those people who thinks parents should be given priority consideration, but in this case, if I was your manager in the above situation and I knew you wanted off to earn some extra money while Jane and Bob both need off to take care of their own kids, I’d grant Jane and Bob’s PTO and deny yours.

  12. OP 3*

    Thanks for the advice, Alison! When the time comes, I’ll have a look at my relationship to my colleagues and decide whether I’ll go with your script or no conversation at all.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      OP3, I recommend you don’t have this discussion with your teammates. The transition from peer to supervisor is inherently difficult for both sides: you will need to establish your personal authority and your team will need to respect that authority. Asking for their input before you take the position can hurt the establishment of new boundaries if you do get the role. They may—even unconsciously—see this as the start of a pattern where you will ask their permission in the future. Better to focus on managing this transition once it occurs. Since you have a mentor grooming you for this role, you should bring this up as a topic for the two of you to discuss.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Too be clear, I mean asking your mentor about how to address these issues only after you are promoted. I recognize your mentor did ask peers, but the focus should be on how they managed after they took the role.

    2. media monkey*

      hi OP3! i was thinking that you could perhaps ask the manager if they anticipated any problems with the current team – did any of them expect to move into your new role? So you can find out any issues ahead of time.

      I did this when i moved teams at my current workplace and it meant i could start my new role without worrying i was treading on toes!

    3. Genny*

      I think talking to your co-workers can be useful to head off potential problems if you think there’s a good enough chance that those problems exist. For instance, if you have less seniority than your co-workers or you are younger, it can be useful to talk to them beforehand to demonstrate your respect for the value they bring to the team or your openness to listening to them – basically to allay any fears they might have about your abilities. Otherwise, I don’t think you necessarily need to talk to them beforehand.

  13. Jemima Bond*

    OP#1 quite apart from the ethical considerations which have been discussed (I’m in the “it doesn’t seem quite right” camp fwiw) if I were your friend I’d worry about you overdoing it. If you take time off to nanny for the family during a vacation, or left early/arrived later a few times in a week to help with the school run, then I’d be concerned that you wouldn’t feel able to take a week off when you really need it, to have a rest (be that on a beach, halfway up a mountain, or on your sofa with a book). You might be working tired out because otherwise a project will run over, or you feel the optics look bad. The thing is, even unlimited time off has some sort of limit really or you’d just never come to work; it’s self-policing. And I think many conscientious people would police themself out of the rest they need.

  14. Glomarization, Esq.*

    OP#1: On the one hand, I’m a good, red-blooded American who wants everybody to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and take every money-making opportunity they can find and if there’s not a law against it then who is your boss to tell you what you can’t do on your own spare time and full speed ahead!

    On the other hand, I’ve experienced co-workers who have generous time-off situations and use those situations for their side gigs. Working with someone who has more than a couple balls in the air ends up being a plot for a sitcom (secrets! Having to be in two places at once! Etc.), not a pleasant work environment.

    1. MLB*

      I find no issue with someone having a part time gig in addition to their full time one, with the understanding that the full time one takes priority. The thing that makes this feel icky to me, is the unlimited part. Because if your company is willing to trust their employees to be adults and manage their time off as needed, then using it for a second job is taking advantage of that perk, especially in the last minute situations that LW describes, because when someone has to leave unexpectedly, it can put a strain on your co-workers who may have to pick up the slack.

      1. Seriously?*

        Yeah, I think the last minute part is the sticking point. I don’t really have a problem with the vacations. Those can be planned and approved in advance, but providing last minute child care is putting a burden on the primary job and can definitely lead to a bad reputation at the company.

  15. Alice*

    Using sick leave – I have taken a lot of sick leave lately for family health problems. (Explicitly covered by sick days at my company, and mostly with advance notice for medical appointments.) I just went to my manager to discuss, here are my plans for medical appointments and PTO in the next few months. It’s all within my accrued time, and she has positive feedback about how I’ve managed my workload. Anyway, she said “That’s fine, but be cognizant that people may notice you are not in your office much.” God only knows how she intends me to act on that advice. So, OP, try to communicate proactively with colleagues as well as your manager, I guess, so that they don’t perceive you as slacking. Not so much communicating about why you are gone as communicating about how you arrange to handle your workflow despite absences, or what work you do out of the office.

    1. CheeryO*

      I don’t think that’s really necessary unless your coworkers have to pick up your slack every time you’re out. If your work is independent enough that it doesn’t affect them, it’s really none of their business how you’re using your PTO.

  16. Jen*

    I used to be a babysitter and caretaker in college and I do not think this is a good idea. The reality is that at some point, the two are going to come in to conflict. The family simply cannot rely on you any more to prioritize their kid. They need a backup who is reliable. You have a full time job and generous leave or not, you may be in a position where the project is due and you cannot leave when you wanted. The full time job must be your priority.

    I also think it is reasonable that the purpose of paid leave is not to be used on another job.

    Weekends and holidays, sure, but leaving your paying job to nanny? No. They need to find a clear backup.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      That’s another good point. Even if it were an appropriate use of your unlimited leave (which I don’t think is the case), there are likely to be times when you can’t leave work at the last minute. The family needs a better backup plan.

  17. Cassandra*

    OP2, this is a medium- to long-term plan, but: if you can become a leader or event planner in the organization, you could work on a conference code of conduct. These started in IT conferences (for all the reasons you may be able to imagine), but are expanding beyond it. There are quite a few sample codes available, or you could adapt codes from existing conferences.

    A code of conduct is not a panacea; the org and the conference will have to figure out how enforcement works, and then actually enforce. But a few conferences that were firmly off my list because of behavior like what you describe have crept back onto it after instituting a code of conduct and living up to it.

    1. OP2*

      Yes, thank you! This sounds extremely helpful and I’ll definitely check it out.
      On another note, it feels kind of sad that working adults need specific rules to delineate what is and isn’t appropriate in basic human interactions..

      1. CAM*

        OP2, please reach out to the conference organizers! I am part of a meetings team at a professional organization, and we’d absolutely want to know about it. Reach out to the planning committee who are your peers as well b/c they are likely mortified and they’ll know not ask that person to moderate. We have just instituted a code of conduct and this would be a violation. The organizers want to know! And they want to protect you as well. It’s literally our livelihood (and passion) to create events that you love; tell us!

        Many societies are taking a structured approach, like the American Society of Microbiology:

        I’m sure you’ve also heard the word “man-el” for panels of men. Lots of places are looking at this (finally).

    2. JessicaTate*

      This is a great idea. Yes, you should absolutely think about getting involved in the organization in a way that interests you. That would be both good for you professionally – it can raise your visibility and help you build connections in the field – but is also a critical step in making longer-term change in culture. Once you are established as a contributor to the organization, and maybe getting onto the board where you have even more leadership authority. (I’m guessing those 6-7 people are the board of directors, and it’s a volunteer “working board,” based on your description. That’s what I’ve seen in these types of groups.)

      It’s great that you spoke up via the evaluation form. If you know other people who were in attendance who also felt like you did, it might be even more powerful to write a jointly-signed letter than you send to the full board (and cc the speakers, as Allison suggested). Power in numbers. I’ve seen mixed results in how organizations actually review or deal with evaluation forms, and it may depend on how many people made the same comment.

      But especially as someone new to the field, I would understand if you’re not ready for organizing such a step or don’t have the contacts to support you in that yet. But I hope one day you will be able to take that lead for the women who come up behind you.

  18. The Doctor*


    You mention that the nonprofit that ran the conference is the professional society for your discipline, and that the offending speaker is the president of that society.

    Given that, you should be VERY careful when deciding whether to complain about him. He may try to retaliate by revoking your membership or otherwise sabotaging your job.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      It sucks but it plausible. I’ve written about this here before – The president of the place I worked in my mid-20s introduced me to a visiting big-wig like this: This is Lily, her claim to fame is that she is dating X X (famous person’s son). I spoke without thinking and said something like “I’d like to think my claim to fame has nothing to do with whom I’m dating” and that was the end of my career there. He never forgave me for embarrassing him in front of a donor and I’m positive it’s why I was probably first on the list when they had to lay off 40% of the staff. To be fair, this was in the late 90s and #metoo was far away.

    2. EddieSherbert*

      This is a good point. I notcied in another comment that OP#2 was able to submit an anonymous review, which is great! But if that wasn’t an option, I’d also hesitant to tell OP she should do anything that might backfire on her.

    3. OP2*

      Thanks for this. Fortunately I probably don’t have much to worry about in this specific situation (not to trivialize other people’s experiences in similar situations though). I’ve asked for opinions from the few people I know, and this man is regarded as somewhat of an oddball in our industry – think everyone’s least favorite uncle at a holiday dinner.
      I outlined it to my boss (who wasn’t at the conference), and I’m fairly confident that he and my company won’t be swayed by any backlash or badmouthing from this guy should I decide to lodge a formal complaint.

    4. NoTurnover*

      Hmm. Unless your profession is way different than others, I don’t revoking of your membership is a concern. I worked for associations for 10 years. The president was usually a short-term position (1-3 years) and did not really have any more official power than any other member. The staff and board of the association would have quickly shut down any attempt at a power move like this, and like hell would the association give up income from a paying member just because the president didn’t like them. That’s not to say he couldn’t sabotage her in less official ways–not picking her for a panel or badmouthing her to people, whatever.

  19. Sara without an H*

    Hello, OP#4 — I haven’t read all the comments upstream, so please excuse this if it’s duplicative.

    I’ve been a manager for 30+ years now. You sound like a very capable person, and someone I’d be glad to have on my team. So if you worked for me, my advice would be pretty much like Alison’s, with some slight additions.

    Most managers hate surprises. If you worked for me, I would appreciate it if you told me upfront about your daughter’s medical situation (not all the details, just that she had some issues that would be going on for a while), that you and your husband had a plan worked out for coping with them, and that you would give me as much notice as possible for appointments, etc.

    I think most good managers would be willing to work with you on this basis. Apologies aren’t really necessary, especially if your work is otherwise excellent and you communicate appropriately.

    Good luck, and I hope your daughter’s condition improves.

  20. SongbirdT*

    For the last LW regarding sick leave, I’d like to include a suggestion. As much as possible, plan for your unexpected absences by making it easy for your team to pick up work where you left off while you’re out. Things like storing your files in a shared drive, keeping a folder on your desk of current projects and next steps, and even sharing your email inbox work one or two people can go a very long way toward minimizing the impact of unexpected absences on your team.

    I one worked with a woman who had Lupus who was frequently gone for long stretches without advance warning. She was responsible for compiling exhaustive reports by making email requests and pulling data from various sources. She would never put the information in an accessible place, so when she was gone we’d end up delaying and reworking what she’d done because it was all stored on her computer and inaccessible. It drove the rest of the team nuts, but we could have been so much more sympathetic if she’d just taken a little extra time to make sure unplanned absences weren’t unnecessarily burdening.

    So a little advance planning goes a long way!

  21. Smarty Boots*

    OP #1: Another consideration is that you’re *new*. I would be circumspect about the amount of leave I took in your situation (for any reason outside of illness) because you have not yet proved yourself and, as a new person, you don’t really know yet what “getting your work done” means. Not that you can’t take any leave, but just that you shouldn’t be overly generous with yourself until you’ve finished up a reasonable amount of time at the job.

    Probably traveling with this family would be the easiest to take time off for — you’d be travelling with a family, nobody’s going to assume or ask if you’re getting paid, time off for long trips sounds like it’s common at this workplace, and it would be planned in advance so your absence could be covered. Again, I wouldn’t do that right away — establish yourself as a committed and reliable worker first.

  22. MousyNon*

    ooof, OP1 if you do this at all, even within the constraints of Alison’s advice, make CERTAIN you know if your current employer has a no-moonlighting policy. Most large companies do, for ethical reasons as much as productivity ones (e.g. what if your current employer is a federal contractor and the nanny-job couple are directors of a government agency in control of procurement dollars? this might run afoul of conflicts-of-interest statutes and put you and the company in very hot water).

    I’d stay very much away from this, but at minimum keep it rare.

    1. soon 2be former fed*

      Fed here. I would visit my ethics office to vet any outside employment that I was considering, but informal babysitting/nannying may not need it. Doesn’t hurt to check.

    2. Seriously?*

      Even if there is no explicit moonlighting policy, since most employment is at will in the US the employer could fire her if they decide that she is misusing the unlimited time off.

  23. Lily in NYC*

    It sucks but it plausible. I’ve written about this here before – The president of the place I worked in my mid-20s introduced me to a visiting big-wig like this: This is Lily, her claim to fame is that she is dating X X (famous person’s son). I spoke without thinking and said something like “I’d like to think my claim to fame has nothing to do with whom I’m dating” and that was the end of my career there. He never forgave me for embarrassing him in front of a donor and I’m positive it’s why I was probably first on the list when they had to lay off 40% of the staff. To be fair, this was in the late 90s and #metoo was far away.

  24. Sciencer*

    OP#2: Definitely contact the non-profit about the sexist remarks. If the organization doesn’t have a code of conduct posted somewhere yet, firmly request one and point out that this is becoming common practice. The code of conduct should expressly forbid discriminatory behavior, and should have actionable consequences (e.g., the offender is barred from attending the next conference). The American Geophysical Union has a pretty decent CoC laid out here if you want to provide an example:

    AGU’s CoC and Scientific Integrity & Professional Ethics Policy came about, in part, because of persistent and vocal demands from community members, via email, Twitter, etc. If you do email your non-profit, I agree that it would be a good idea to CC the speakers from this event (not just the women; all of them, except the offender). Chances are good that they will chime in their agreement. If your community is active on Twitter, that’s a surprisingly effective way to spread the word as well.

    Good on you for wanting to call this out! Good luck.

  25. Imaginary Number*

    #1: I work in a company with unlimited time off. The reality is that unlimited time off is generally used as a way to get employees to work more, not less. When you have a set # of of available vacation and sick days, you’re more likely to feel entitled to those days regardless of whether or not there’s something that could use more attention. With unlimited, by taking any time off you basically have to justify it with “I’m completely caught up on everything and there’s nothing more I could be doing right now.”

    And there’s two company culture aspects to keep in mind. Your company probably still requires you to coordinate said time off with your manager and the reason for the time off is bound to come up. And “I have to take a half day today to nanny for someone else’s kid” is not going to go over well.

    The other aspect is what is expected from unlimited time off for a brand new employee, which is something you’ll need to be there a while to feel out. There might be unwritten “rules” that aren’t in the time off policy, but that most people still follow. For example, if your company recently switched to the unlimited time off, there might be an unwritten rule that you don’t take more time than was previously available without really good justification.

  26. Unlimited*

    I have a slightly different perspective on LW1, as I’ve been in a similar situation. I actually did take advantage of a new employer’s unlimited time off and flexible hours to continue working an additional part-time job for almost 2 years. A couple of things that made it work in my situation that might not be relevant for yours:

    My full-time job could be done remotely, and my part-time job was all remote work, so it was easy to arrange my schedule to work from home the days that I knew I had obligations to the part time job (usually conference calls)–I didn’t so much take time off as rearrange my schedule to make room for the work that had to be done during work hours, and there was no inconvenience to my co-workers. This is probably the biggest thing that made it work–there was very little actual disruption to my work. And my part-time job was very understanding that the other job came first. Unfortunately, I don’t know that this can really carry over as well if you’re providing child care.

    On the traveling question, I did actually have a few days of travel every year for my part-time position. I scheduled that as regular vacation time (and usually took a few additional days around that time so I actually did have some time to myself). And overall, it was, if anything, probably slightly less time off than my coworkers took. So that is definitely a possibility, keeping in mind that you want to make sure you’re in line with what other coworkers are taking, and that this is it for your travel/vacation time.

    I think my direct manager knew about the second job–I disclosed to him right away, and he was fine with it. But I didn’t talk much about it at work, and tended to downplay it when I did.

    All that said, I did end up leaving the part-time job as my responsibilities in my full-time position increased, and it became increasingly difficult (and tiring!) to juggle everything. And it’s been a relief and a nice change to have my time back to myself now that I’m not filling my evenings, weekends, and vacations with my second job.

  27. Bea*

    I’ve worked 3 jobs at once, #1. So I’m honestly not going to tell you not to do this on account of possible burn out or not having time to yourself. I was happiest when those 3 jobs were clicking along. I eventually dropped the 3rd only because the person I worked for was obnoxious over time.

    I would stop trying to poke around and make this decision based on what you see and our 3rd party point of view!

    Ask your boss if it’s an acceptable use of leave to assist your nanny family.

    I wouldn’t even bother when planned vacations are in play. That’s a different kettle of fish.

    Given the differences between the jobs I’m not that concerned you’ll run yourself ragged but again, I come from a background who lives for 60hr weeks when I’m not being disrespected and used by a company. The work load itself has never been an issue, it’s about the expectations.

    1. Bea*

      Also I’m currently in a place where my full time job is in full swing and will essentially never need me for a full 40hrs. Hence why I’m here so much. So I’m absolutely poking around for a time filler consistent side gig.

      But always be truthful with your full time job. They deserve the respect and to know what’s up.

  28. Sharkie*

    OP #2 I feel your pain. I work in an industry that is 99% male and I am a women in my mid 20’s. At a conference earlier this month, there were some cringe-worthy moments like that. When I was checking in to the conference with my boss one of the older gentlemen on the board said to me ” We just elected our first gal onto the board! You two will have so much in common!”. After the presentation I gave with my boss, a few guys at the conference went up to him and said things like “Thank goodness you hired a cute young gal! You lucked out that she is smart too!”
    I noticed that the men making the comments were all in mid 60’s – 80’s so I just smiled and nodded because that is just the way they are. Luckily, all the younger people at the conference did not point out that I was a “pretty gal” and talked to me as a peer with a lot of ideas to bring to the table.

    1. Birch*

      What. So they were basically admitting to trying to hire “cute young gals” with absolutely no concern about their abilities?!

      I’m glad your industry is changing and I hope sometime this happens again you have the opportunity to look innocently confused and a little shocked, turn to your boss and say “Oh, I thought I was hired BECAUSE I’m smart and good at my job! Being a “cute young gal” was not listed on the job description but if you like I can make those notes for the next hire.”

      1. Sharkie*

        I honestly think the cute young gal comment was more teasing my boss (he has been in the industry for about 45 years and is one of the go-to people) or they just dont get that you can’t say those things without coming off jerkish today. I know I was hired for my skills and ideas since they are training me to take over some aspects of the company. I connected with the 3 other women at the conference (including the newly elected board member) and they assured me that the members who made the comments mean well its just a generational disconnect.

        I’m not too worried. The younger (50 and under) crowd is starting to take over. I was still a little startling to hear. I felt like it was the 1940’s lol.

        1. OP2*

          Thanks for sharing! There’s kind of a fine line between being benignly patronizing (as in your story) and being overtly creepy (as in mine). Both types of behavior are still inappropriate, of course..

          1. Sharkie*

            At toxic job (same industry but a different aspect of it) I experienced a ton of the “creepy” comments, but it was always in private and not public facing. I kept a record of everything including what higher-ups didn’t do, and talked to someone in HR I trusted.
            OP, I know you are new to your industry but are you comfortable with reaching out to other people who witnessed the comments to see if they were uncomfortable and if they are, speaking to the organizers as a group?
            I know if I was introduced that way before the presentation it would leave a horrible taste in my mouth and would be hesitant to attend next year.

  29. Jaybeetee*

    Agh, my browser crashed just as I was posting!

    OP1: One thing I’m not seeing mentioned in the comments is the concept of “double-dipping.” That is, effectively getting paid twice over for the same hours, which is what happens when you take paid leave to do a paid job elsewhere. Occasionally isn’t a big deal, but it turns into an ethical issue if you’re doing it regularly.

    I also work govt, and here in Canada there’s no prohibition on civil servants taking second jobs as long as there’s no conflict of interest (and side-gigs seem to actually be pretty common in these parts) – BUT for us, the big thing is no double-dipping. That is, don’t work on your side gig from your day job. Don’t use day job office equipment or supplies for side gig. Don’t come late or leave early from day job to accommodate side gig (unless you’ve already worked out that schedule with the manager). And don’t take time off from the day job to work the side gig, because double-dipping.

    It doesn’t sound like you’re govt, but I’d think the same principles would apply: Rarely here-and-there wouldn’t be a big deal, but regularly taking paid leave to get paid elsewhere might be.

    1. Snark*

      Exactly. I feel like there’s a significant ethical difference between using unlimited, paid PTO for R&R, attending to your own household business and dealing with illness and using it to get paid twice for the same time, inside regular core business hours.

    2. McWhadden*

      I have also worked in government and double dipping is definitely a big deal. Which makes sense because it is public funds. Even if there isn’t really any harm being done (does it change much if you take a vacation day to go to the beach or to work as a hair stylist?) the perception is terrible if you get found out. And perception is enough. And that’s OK because government employees are held to a higher standard.

      But I don’t think it is as much of a big deal in the private or non-profit sectors. It’s a problem if it impacts job performance. But everything that impacts job performance is a problem. It isn’t the double dipping in and of itself.

  30. peachie*

    OP#2: I am so frustrated on your behalf. I agree with others that have suggested you note these comments on an evaluation form if one is offered, but I’d also send an email to the organizers detailing what you said here. I used to be the person compiling those reviews, and this is something I’d definitely note/report to my superiors, but it’s very possible they wouldn’t do anything about it. Still, worth noting.

    I recently found notes I took at a conference from a year or so ago. It’s a free conference offered in different places and I go when I can. It’s good and useful, especially since it’s free, but I had a similarly bad experience at the last one (though it was much milder). The conference is about one of the less-sexy IT/tech niches (I say this because I haven’t found it to have as many of the types of issues I hear about with the bigger flashier Silicon Valley start-up type tech fields). It’s a technology/field that I was new and self-trained in when I started going, so I went whenever I could take advantage of it. The first time I went, I knew basically nothing but had a fine experience. The second time was about a year later, and I’d learned a lot in that year, so I was excited to see that there were more sessions that I could go to and actually understand than there had been the year before. But the day had this undercurrent of subtle sexism that left a bad taste in my mouth. Things like:

    * There was a session about women in tech and the challenges they faced, but they scheduled the session at the same time as a number of unrepeated and/or popular sessions. I did not see a single man in attendance at that session. (I didn’t even attend it as it was at the same time as the session that was most relevant to me all day.)

    * In every session I went to that had women speakers, men talked over and (wrongly) contradicted them.

    * In more than one session, women ATTENDEES were asked to do administrative/housekeeping tasks like taking headcounts. I did not see a single man, even those that were working the conference, to do this.

    * When I was going around to the booths (companies recruiting and/or selling products), the people staffing them barely looked at me. I’d ask for a job posting sheet and they’d hand it to me almost without looking at me, then actively offer it to a man who was also near the table and go into details about the job/company.

    There were a few other things like that that I can’t think of off the top of my head, but man, it was a real bummer.

    Anyhow, OP, I didn’t end up reaching out to them and I regret it. If you’re comfortable with it, I think you should, because I’m certain you weren’t the only one who felt that way.

  31. Sue Wilson*

    #1: Since you’re new, I’d focus on my job and look at the handbook re: other job before deciding anything. Optics is more important for you as a newbie.

    That said, this seems like paid leave. In which case, I think if it’s planned in advance, I think you could probably do this without it being too disruptive. But that sick days are a no.

    I’d feel differently if this was unpaid. No one gets to tell me how to spend time they aren’t paying me for. I’m sure I’d have some exceptions to this, but in general, my job can tell me how much it needs me to be on the job, and leaves itself out of what I do personally.

  32. Hannah*

    I think I disagree with Alison with #1, to a point.

    I think if you are still taking a reasonable amount of vacation overall (not any more than the norms in your company, not any more than you can spare and still be completely on top of your work), I think it’s OK if you want to use that time to be a nanny.

    I wouldn’t say this with a job like, working at the Gap on a regular schedule during your “vacation,” but taking a day here and there to help a family that has become a family friend or traveling someplace with them is different. I was a nanny for many years, and I would do it in a heartbeat if you have a good relationship with the family and it is overall a positive experience for you. I think if you had said “I’ve become close with the family, and now we travel together and I sometimes fill in the occasional childcare gap,” no one would have any problem with it. It is the fact that you are getting paid that muddles things, but it is nothing like your regular job and probably does as much to recharge you and give you a headspace break as any other activity.

    After I stopped nannying and had an office job, I loved the occasional time when the family would ask me to spot babysit, because I’d become part of their family and it felt good to do so. They always paid me because they felt they should, but I would have just done it anyway because I wanted to see them and spend time with them.

    I mean, I get that not everyone would see it that way and that would prevent me from advertising the fact that I was getting money for it, but I wouldn’t feel ethically wrong doing it.

    1. Oxford Comma*

      I think the issue is less about planned vacations and more about when the family would need her for unplanned times–if the child is ill or if they’re running late.

      So now potentially, if OP1 is taking time off to help with that, that’s an unexpected burden on her coworkers who may have to pick up her work so she can make extra money. It may also impact the company that’s her primary employer.

      It could get muddy super fast. And if OP is new to this full-time job, she may not have the most complete understanding of her workplace yet. It seems like it would fly, but is that actually the case?

      1. Hannah*

        I guess it depends on the nature of the job. For my team, planned time off of several days in a row is usually much more of an inconvenience to my coworkers than an unexpected day here and there, because with the nature of our work, if I’m just out sick one day and available by text for a quick question, almost everything can wait until I am back the next day and my team barely notices I’m gone. On the other hand, if I’m gone for a week, lots of stuff needs to move forward that requires someone else actually doing it and taking responsibility for it.

        I definitely don’t think it is OK if it is a burden on your team, but in plenty of cases, it wouldn’t be. So I guess it really depends how your job is structured.

  33. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

    OP1: Just my $0.02

    I think the planned vacations with the family would be fine. Really it’s no different that planning a non working vacation. Just as I agree the planned no school days are probably ok as that should really only be a couple times a year.

    The taking unexpected time for last minute drop offs/pick ups and child sick days are going to be a bigger issue. As others have mentioned, it’s the last minute nature and potential frequency that makes this problematic. As a manager I don’t typically notice time off requests/absences that are planned ahead, but I do notice last minute call ins. (not that the last minute call ins are necessarily a problem, but they are noticed more and have a higher impact)

    All this being said, do look into your company policy about second jobs and conflicts of interest and run past your HR dept if any question. Realistically this probably won’t apply to your situation unless the kids you nanny are Judy and Elroy Jetson and your full time employer is Cogswell Cogs.

    1. theletter*

      I agree with this sentiment. I’m at a ‘unlimited time off’ company but I still need to get approval from my manager for time off, and he does occasionally say ‘no’ if too many other people have planned time off that day. It’s generally understood that you have can take as many planned days off as you need, but we recently reinstated a limit on sick days because people were abusing the policy to take lots of unplanned time off.

      If I were the op’s manager, I wouldn’t mind giving her the planned days off to do as she pleased, (and I imagine the kids-at-home-days would fall on holidays anyway), but taking unplanned time off to help care for other people’s children because it was the op’s second job would make me question her commitment to the first job and her judgement. Her client’s childcare needs should not be disrupting the company’s objectives and goals.

      Also, from my experience, once you get into your new job and start to like the work, you might come to really value your time off as personal time to yourself. Running off at 5:30 to pick up a kid might suddenly become very draining. I did one shift (one!) of my second job after starting my first full time job and literally put in my notice, effective immediately, at the end of it. I was just spent.

    2. CupcakeCounter*

      I agree – to me the vacations are fine since the OP might not be able to afford a nice vacation in their own and they can be planned in advance. Outside of that, I also think it can get a little fuzzy.
      Once you are a little more established and get an idea of busy and slow times you could maybe offer up some days to the family you know you will be available (time between Christmas and New Years for example if your office is usually closed or encourages people to take off that time).
      I take quite a bit of time off for a side hustle I have and even though the work is physically exhausting I actually end up sleeping better during that period of time and come back ready and raring to go. Work knows all about my little business too so that isn’t an issue.

  34. mark gaskins*

    on the post about sick leave and an ill child – the poster seemed to indicate she would be using her sick time for the care of her sick child. where i work, sick time is only to be used for your personal illness, and other PTO (or unpaid time if unavailable) to be used for a sick child. my office actually has a three day family illness time to use time for that purpose, anything outside of that you would need to use vacation or unpaid time. is this not typical? to my thinking sick time isn’t ‘family sick time’, and using it to care for another family member would be a violation of the rules.

    1. Snark*

      Your office, and you, have some very peculiar ideas about sick leave, and I for one am very glad they are not widespread.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        It doesn’t seem that peculiar. Pooled PTO for sick and vacation is becoming more widespread and it seems that Mark Gaskins company has an extra benefit of 3 extra days to for family illnesses which sounds kind of nice and out of the ordinary.

        The difference is that the company designates which bucket child sick time is used. Honestly I had to push back on an employee once that wanted to use sick time for the day the next week she wanted to take off to get her cat spayed. I had to explain to her that’s not what those days are used for and she would need to take a vacation day instead.

        1. Snark*

          A cat is a lot different than a kid. It’s generally understood and widely practiced that sick leave includes caring for depenents.

        2. Snark*

          And, it bears mention, at least with my four-year-old, three days would be nowhere near enough, since he hangs out all day in a tiny plague ward that provides Legos.

          1. OP IV*

            Haha! The Lego portion is my daycare, though the provider is a clean freak germaphobe and would just die at the idea of plague.

        3. McWhadden*

          ” which sounds kind of nice and out of the ordinary. ”

          That’s the most depressing thing I have read all day.

        4. Pebbles*

          If I’m visiting a doctor of any kind, I’m using sick time. Now, I’ve only been using an hour or two when visiting the vet to schedule and later pick up my dog from surgery, but to me, that’s what sick time is for. Especially since my company has the policy that you cannot use less than a full day of vacation at a time. I don’t need that much time for a doctor’s appointment.

        5. Bea*

          I used sick leave for my vet appointments. We don’t pry into why someone needs time off. I’m so unbelievably happy I can just say I need a mental health day if someone tries me. Sick Leave Laws protect employees from these kind of interrogations about why they’re asking for time off, I’m excited that they’re being looked at by other states to protect others from being treated poorly.

        6. Dankar*

          Whoa, no. I take sick time (2 hours here and there) for vet appointments and picking my dog up after surgery. My coworker took a sick day when both her dogs were vomiting non-stop and needed to go to the emergency vet.

          Some places are way more flexible with sick meaning time that you need to take for appointments of most kinds, whether for kids, yourself or pets. An extra 3(!!) days designated for child sick time seems restrictive and silly, not to mention insufficient where young children are concerned.

          If you’re employee had told you that she needed the day off next week for an appointment, would you have pushed back? Because asking for one day off to deal with an ailing pet is very reasonable, imho. It’s not vacation to spend your time making sure your animal isn’t having a bad reaction to the anesthesia, medicating them and watching them to make sure they don’t rip their stitches out.

        7. SarahM*

          I get that you need to follow your company’s policies. But using sick time for any sort of medical thing, including the vet, is very normal. She isn’t really the one being unreasonable there. Your company is. It’s nuts to make someone take vacation time for that.

      2. TeatpotSweaterCrocheter*

        The idea about sick leave being only for yourself may be losing ground, but it is by no means as tiny an issue as it is presented here. I think it would be nice if sick were for either/or, but in my experience it is common to have it limited to the employee. In fact, I personally have never worked at a place that allowed your sick time to be taken to care for a family member. Sick is when YOU the employee are sick. If you have to take time to care for someone else, it’s either FMLA (which you could get paid for if you concurrently use your vacation), or unpaid, or switch your schedule around/make up the hours within that week, or something.

        To be clear, this is in situations where the employee has separate sick vs. vacation/PTO banks. If those are combined into one giant pool of paid time off, all bets are off.

        Source: I have worked in HR for 8+ years. Snark, I normally agree with almost everything you comment, but on this one our experiences are very different!

        1. Snark*

          ” In fact, I personally have never worked at a place that allowed your sick time to be taken to care for a family member. Sick is when YOU the employee are sick.”

          I’ve never worked anywhere where sick leave couldn’t be used to care for a child or spouse – from tiny consulting firms to two agencies of the federal government. I’ll grant that this restrictive concept of how sick leave is to be used is more common than I imagined, but I’m really surprised this is a typical norm in some industries.

    2. Persimmons*

      I’ve worked at places that go even farther and dictate that sick time is only for unexpected ailments, whereas pre-planned events (even if they are medical procedures or preventative appointments) are to be taken from PTO.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Oh, yikes. Wouldn’t that encourage people to pretend their pre-planned events were actually unexpected ailments? And what if I wake up with horrible back spasms but I can’t get in to see a doctor until tomorrow – is that unexpected enough, or would that visit be considered “pre-planned” since I made the appointment the day before?

        1. EddieSherbert*


          “….Oh, I unexpectedly have a procedure today and will be out the next 3 days, good luck!” is something I imagine happens A LOT.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            “Really? No, I hadn’t noticed that I have an emergency trip to the dentist twice a year. How odd.”

        2. Persimmons*

          Definitely. I presume the goal is to plan far enough ahead to ensure coverage (in tech support and the like) but it just ends up being a different hoop to jump through.

    3. Nita*

      I think it may depend on specific company policy (and any local laws). I know that in a couple of local government offices, there’s a similar policy – you’re only allowed three sick days a year that are not for yourself, if it’s more it has to be vacation time. I believe that even if it’s FMLA, the amount of banked sick time is similarly limited. I’m in the private sector and don’t have these restrictions.

    4. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’m not going to say it’s not typical, but I am going to say that it’s not how sick leave works at my employer. I’m allowed to use a certain percentage of it caring or assisting specified “immediate” family members.

      1. EddieSherbert*

        I am happy to say I’ve never heard of this method (because it means I haven’t worked or even interviewed at a place that does it).

    5. schnauzerfan*

      Our setup is 108 hrs of sick leave annually. 40 hours of that sick leave can be used for family care (or a death) if you need more it must come out of vacation time. (156 hours for new staff)

    6. Bea*

      I’ll say I’m from a state with Sick Leave law in place.

      Its for you or immediate family. Splitting hairs in personal or family sickness is gnarly and boundary crossing. For our law I can’t ask why you’re using sick leave unless it’s 3 consecutive days. People can just call in and say they’re going to use sick leave, no mention of “I’m sick” or “junior is sick” or “my mom needs a ride to the doctor”.

  35. grey*

    I’m really torn about op#1 – I think that her taking them up on actual vacations would be fine. That’s planned out and she’s likely to get the rest and recharging she needs (Plus, hey, free travel). Last minute situations; eh, I’m not sure about. Everyone has made really great points about why that’s not a good idea.

    To be honest; I’ve used my vacation to nanny before – but there was a distinction; I wasn’t being paid. I was helping out a friend who had lost a spouse and I took half days off and other people stepped in where I couldn’t. My bosses thought my request was odd ; but like Allison mentions; I got a set amount of vacation days that I could use as I needed/desired. It worked out fine.

  36. Jenna Maroney*

    OP1: Does the first job pay you well? Or would you need a second job to cover expenses? OR do you just like the nannying job? I would see if maybe you could create a sort of babysitting arrangement with the family, which I think most sane employers wouldn’t see as a second job (correct me if I’m wrong, commentariat)

    1. EddieSherbert*

      I personally don’t think it matters if it’s labeled “nannying” or “freelance babysitting” if she’s leaving work early (especially at the last second if the kid gets sick!) to do it.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        As an employer (or coworker who’s asked to pick up the slack), I’d feel differently about (a) a nannying situation where the OP plans to take off on a regular basis, and (b) an emergency situation where a good family friends has an unplanned need for childcare and no one else can help.

  37. P*

    OP1 gonna have to tread carefully, especially since you are new. I think if you took what might be considered “standard vacation time” (I dunno, 4 week a year?) and then ON TOP OF THAT took off another few weeks to work for this family, if I were the employer I would frown.
    Vs if you were combining business with pleasure, like taking a vacation with them and it also counting as your own personal vacation, and generally not exceeding “standard” 4 weeks/year time off, and were a great employee; I wouldn’t have a problem with it.
    Since you are new, it may be more hazardous to try to talk to your employer about what they would and would not be OK with. Also, I don’t know the nature of your work, if it’s the kind of thing that’s easily shoved around or if someone would have to cover for you if you left early to go pick up kids, etc.
    So maybe going on one or two trips with the family, if you also consider that “fun” and “a vacation” might be ok; going out multiple times a month to work for them is probably not a good idea. Basically if you are using more PTO than you would otherwise use in order to work a second job, probably not appropriate use, but you should decide to take a certain amount of vacation time a year no matter what and if you just happen to feel like working for the family during that time, I don’t really see the problem. (also; I tots love our nanny I feel for that family!)

  38. Anon For This*

    OP2 – You are not alone. I’m glad you were able to speak up in some fashion, and hope as you get more traction in your field you will keep speaking up in more ways about nonsense like this. It’s hard to do, but it’s worth doing. My story: I recently decided to privately point out to a man in my field (in a leadership position in our professional organization) that for as long as I’ve known him (most of my career), the first comment he always makes to or about me anytime I see him is a comment on my appearance. Without fail. And that it was sexist and it needed to stop.

    I am known for being opinionated; I’m more than a decade into my career with an established reputation; and my field is pretty incusivity-minded – so there was little risk of blowback for speaking up. And I truly do not care what this particular man thinks of me. And even so, I was surprised at how incredibly hard it was to say such a direct statement about how what he was doing was wrong and that it needed to change. What I’m trying to say is: I will confirm that it’s hard to do in a direct way. It can be surprisingly scary. But it’s worth doing. It needed to be said and no one else was going to say it.

  39. Board now (or then)*

    Speaking as someone who’s been on the board of a professional organization that puts on conferences, I would be SO UPSET if I found out that female speakers were being treated that way. It’s frustrating that it’s the *president* of this organization that’s engaging in this sexist behavior. That said, I think a lot of nonprofits these days are very eager NOT to come off as contributing to an environment of sexism, and I think the board would want to hear about it. If the board is all men…something is wrong. If the board is NOT all men, it’s a good bet that the women on the board will not be happy either. Definitely write to the organization, and express your displeasure. Even better if you can get a few other conference attendees together to co-sign a letter.

  40. Close Bracket*

    OP1- I’m totally ok with this, as long as you get your stuff done. The only difference between you and your colleagues with children is that you take time off to look after other people’s kids while they take time off to take care of their own kids. I think people are resentful that you get paid to perform childcare while they don’t.

  41. LilySparrow*

    I love the wording of “is there anything you’d want me to take into account if I did X?”

    I can foresee many, many situations where that will be useful.

  42. CM*

    #1 — read the handbook, then, if what you want to do doesn’t explicitly violate what’s in the handbook, go ahead and do it without drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. If someone has a problem with how often you’re using unlimited vacation, then you can discuss that problem without needing to get into what you’re using that time for.

Comments are closed.