I’m assigned all the worst holidays to work

A reader writes:

I work as a pharmacist in a federal hospital with a group of 13 other pharmacists. We are open 24/7 and that requires people to work shifts and weekends and holidays that no one likes. It is a shared burden. However, for the last two years, management has assigned holidays to people. The manager has assigned me Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day (evening hours), Christmas Eve (evening hours until 10 pm), and New Year’s Eve (evening hours until 10 pm).

Most employees work three holidays a year. I am technically working three since Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are not holidays. Other employees are working three holidays but working Presidents’ Day, Columbus Day, and Veterans’ Day.

My boss states that a holiday is a holiday and that working one is the same as working another. I feel that working Thanksgiving is different than working Columbus Day, even though both are holidays, and that working the less desirable holidays should be a shared burden. I also feel that the EVE of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are kinda special and should “count” for something.

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

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Can I give my family’s personal holiday card to my employees?
  • I took a lower-level job than I’m qualified for and want to move up
  • Attending a former coworker’s baby shower after I was fired
  • Working on holidays without extra pay

{ 121 comments… read them below }

  1. Jamey*

    “Working one holiday is the same as working any other holiday” is obviously not true. I can’t imagine that your boss actually believes this.

      1. pleaset*

        I WANT work Columbus Day since I don’t think it should be a government-recognized holiday.

        PS – a boss lying to a staffer is a bad sign. And unless the boss is very unfamiliar with US culture, s/he’s lying.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’ve seen so many bosses believe it but that’s because given their schedules, they never work any holiday. It’s the mentality schedulers can take on in order to become calloused to the system they’re put in charge of.

      Also if someone doesn’t celebrate A Holiday, sure they lump it in with President’s Day and Columbus Day.

      I wouldn’t question their belief in the bad things spewed.

      1. Jamey*

        Nah, I don’t buy it. You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to understand that it’s a big deal for many, many people. You can’t escape Christmas in our society, it’s everywhere. For months.

        “Working on Columbus day is the same as working on Christmas because they’re both holidays” is absolutely a disingenuous thing to say whether the person saying it celebrates or not.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          A lot of people lump New Year with Columbus day though. I grew up celebrating New Year instead of Christmas. And by that I mean, several generations of the entire country’s population grew up with New Year instead of Christmas, it was a national holiday, Santa (or rather, his equivalent) came to kids on New Year, gifts under the tree and so on. At this point, it is THE holiday to me and that is never going to change. But I’ve had employers who looked at me like I had three heads when I said I strongly preferred to be at home that day.

          Agree with your second statement though. There’s something extremely fishy going on at OP’s workplace for sure. I’ll bet good money OP’s boss does not mean what he says.

        2. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

          “Working on Columbus day is the same as working on Christmas because they’re both holidays” is absolutely a disingenuous thing to say whether the person saying it celebrates or not.Nah. I find them exactly the same. If anything, I’d prefer to work Christmas, because everything is closed that day except Chinese food and the movies, and it’s annoying.

          1. Jamey*

            And because they’re the same to you, you would honestly say that sentence to someone else who was actively telling you they wanted to spend Christmas with their family??

            That’s either disingenuous or you could do well to learn some empathy.

            1. Duchess Conseula Banana Hammock*

              I was responding specifically to “whether the person saying it celebrates or not.” For those of us who fall into “or not,” Columbus Day and Christmas really are the same.

              1. Jamey*

                Whether you celebrate it or not, it’s still disingenuous to act like you don’t realize that other people celebrate it, which was the point of what I was saying.

      1. Jason Funderberker*

        I would bet that if LW asks to switch around the boss will ask them to talk to their coworkers about it. Honestly who is going to switch their President’s Day for Thanksgiving? I hope it works out for you LW.
        Since your boss has claimed all holidays are the same, maybe inquiring about how things are assigned and proposing a new system will be a better way around it? You know your boss best and how they might react to that proposal, so proceed with caution!

        1. Ellen N.*

          I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. However, I’d prefer to switch Thanksgiving for Fourth of July than for Presidents’ Day. This is not because I celebrate Fourth of July, but because my dogs need to be comforted as they are terrified of fireworks.

          1. Jason Funderberker*

            Sure, of course, I just picked random holidays out of my head.
            But my point was, essentially that a lot of people aren’t going to switch out a “choice” holiday for a holiday that they find less “symbolic.”
            My major concern was that the boss who seems so dismissive already would leave it up to LW to find coverage and I speculated that they might have trouble with that, especially since the pool is limited to about 13 people.

            1. Someone Else*

              That’s true, if they come at a colleague with “swap Columbus Day for Thanksgiving with me?” they’re unlikely to get a ton of takers, but if someone came to the team and said “I’m scheduled for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day, is anyone willing to swap ONE of those major holidays for something more minor like Labor Day or Columbus Day”, I’d recognize that’s a really shitty distribution and might volunteer for one of the more “choice” ones just because it’s ridiculous that one person should be scheduled for so many of the more popular holidays. I imagine someone else might too.
              Really the whole thing should change to a rotation where if you worked holiday A one year, you don’t work it the next, and everyone cycles through them all. But this employer doesn’t sound that reasonable.

              1. Time Is Valuable*

                Exactly–at my work, we have 6 holidays that we’re actually closed for (so not exactly like LW’s situation), and for several, there are people who want to take extra days off around the holiday(s).

                Previous management, it was all about seniority, which meant that you could be screwed for *years* until enough people retired or more senior people took positions elsewhere.

                Current management has a rule that up to half of the people in the department can be off on these popular “request off” days. But if you have to work a day that you’d requested off this year, you’re at the top of the stack next year and people who got it off this year won’t get approved unless there’s fewer people asking for the day that the number of slots open.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      The term is “major holidays”. It includes Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. This big discriminator is federal Vs private company holidays. Almost all private companies give the major holidays. They rarely give the minor ones. So yes, there is a clear distinction.

      OP should make an argument of distributing major and minor holidays.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Also as others have said, the working the eve of Christmas or New Years should exempt you from working the next day.

        Most government offices close around 5 pm so the eves aren’t calculated into the holidays – people are already off work. But it doesn’t account for government workers on a 24/7 shift. Again, we can look to private business as an example. Many close early on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

        In short, the supervisor is only taking one criteria into what make a holiday when business itself shows there are other criteria. These other points are where you can push back.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        The other major reason to distribute major versus minor holidays (ones that all employers give versus ones that only a few give) is that people like having time off that corresponds with loved ones’ time off, regardless of the day.

        I am a federal employee – the less desirability of getting Columbus Day off as a long weekend is because my husband doesn’t have it off too. I don’t want to go anywhere by myself. It doesn’t even matter if I celebrate Columbus Day or not, it’s still less desirable.

        So even someone who is Jewish or whatever might like Christmas off because all their family has it off too so they could do something as a family, like go skiing, even if they don’t *need* the day for its explicit purpose.

    3. thankful for AAM.*

      “Working one holiday is the same as working any other holiday” is obviously not true.”

      Or, if that is true, there is no reason not to let you work 3 other holidays since each one is just lime the other.

    4. That One Person*

      Yep, can’t even recall the last “Columbus Day” decoration I saw.

      Declaring them the same is like getting a paper-cut or lopping your hand/arm off. Something was cut, but I guarantee you the emergency room’s going to prioritize in a heartbeat.

  2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    The holiday schedules and paid holidays is close to my heart. I literally quit my first job due to being told I had Christmas Eve off by my direct supervisor, then was called in by the Big Boss. The extra swerve was how there was nothing to do due to our vendors and clients all being closed.

    I made it my mission to work inside companies that had clear structure to holidays. Happily 15 years later, I’ve never worked on or was unpaid for the major holidays.

    These are the things you have to care about enough to find a new job over or learn to accept. Otherwise they’ll drive you mad and turn your work life into another miserable hamster wheel grind.

    1. June*

      Yes to having a clear structure for holidays. This is nothing new for hospitals and the vast majority of functional ones will have a system established (that is not just based on the manager’s whims). I no longer work a role that requires holiday coverage, but the places I’ve worked have all had 3 groupings of holidays (each with one “major” holiday and two minor) and an assigned-on-hire holiday team assignment (A,B,C). The teams rotated through the holiday groups, so if you worked Xmas in 2018, you knew you would not have to work it again until 2021. People working a holiday had priority for requesting days around the holiday off (e.g. Xmas eve). It’s not that difficult.

    2. Dragoning*

      At every retail place I’ve ever worked, if you had to work Thanksgiving, you were exempt from working Christmas (sometimes had to work Christmas Eve, though). If even retail can spare that much compassion….

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I’m one of those jackholes who never worked in retail…

        But my first job was in a bare warehouse…in an office created by tarps at one end. And still all I asked was for my Christmas Eve leave to be left alone. Ah to be 19 again…

  3. Tantallum99*

    That pharmacist’s manager is awful. My team is 24/7, staffed by HCP (mostly pharmacists actually, I am one myself).
    For winter holidays, out of these 5 days—TG, Xmas eve, Xmas, NYE and NY day—everyone picks 2 they for sure want off, 2 they don’t mind working. And it gets scheduled that way. The 3 summer holidays are rotated around, everyone works 1 or 2, and I have a spreadsheet going back 10 years of who worked which holidays so no body gets screwed or gets off too easy multiple years in a row. It’s not hard, and when your people have to work on the holidays it’s the least you can do!!

    1. whistle*

      This sounds like a good system. When I worked at a movie theater, everyone had to work two of Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Only three of these are federal holidays, but our company had common sense and understood that these were the most coveted days off. (We were all in high school, so most of us wanted to work Thanksgiving/Christmas since we saw our families all the time and refused to work New Year’s Eve because it would be embarrassing lol.)
      Agreed on the pharmacist’s manager being awful! LW, it sounds personal to me, honestly. I hope that’s not the case.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Same thing when I was on call. We had three people on rotation and each of us was on call for one of these three major holidays. No one was ever on call for more than one in the same year.

    2. TheWonderGinger*

      My old job worked similar to this, Christmas Eve and Day were rotated, if you swapped out this year you automatically got it next year. The rest of the holidays went by seniority and you picked what holidays you wanted to work, the most senior person picked a holiday and shift to work and went down the roster, and then they started at the top again and went down the line until all shifts were filled. It was all put into a pw protected sheet on a shared drive where you could see back the schedule for five years.

  4. Jennifer*

    OP #3 Instead of asking for a promotion, focus more on the tasks that you enjoy and making it clear that you’d like to get more work like that. You accepted a role that you felt was lower level because you really needed a job, many have done the same, and now you have to pay your dues. Honestly, you only have two years of *relevant* work experience so it seems you are right in line with the other people who have the same role. I think you are being a bit unrealistic.

    1. ChachkisGalore*

      I think years of working world or adjacent experience really should count for something – not like a one for one match, but there is a huge difference (generally – I’m sure there’s outliers) in terms of maturity, level of responsibility one is able to take on, level of autonomy one is able to work out between a recent graduate and someone with several years of working world experience. Someone with 5 years of experience – let’s say 3 years adjacent and 2 years exactly relevant is probably going to learn quicker and be able to take on a higher level responsibility more quickly than a recent college grad with only 1-2 years of experience, though all relevant.

      Unfortunately I don’t think there’s much the LW can do in this situation, aside from looking for another job (sidenote: leaving a role quickly because it turned out the level of responsibility is lesser than you had understood it would be is pretty valid). They accepted the role at the current level and like Alison said, the company hired her because they need someone to do this level of work. However, I do hope that her manager recognizes that she is capable of more responsibility than her peers and gives her as much responsibility as possible within the confines of the role/business need. That’s assuming the LW’s assessment of their capabilities is accurate; I believe them, but I do know that can be something that’s a bit tough accurately assess of oneself.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I’m not too sure about that.

        There’s often a steep learning curve in that first year or two after graduating, as people learns office norms and get used to the working world, but I don’t think an extra couple years of working experience in something totally unrelated is going to automatically make someone a superior employee, or more responsible or faster at mastering tasks in their current job. The average division between someone with four years of employment experience and someone with two is much smaller than between someone with two and someone with zero.

        I do agree that if the OP has mastered the tasks she has been given, and is doing them with time to spare, asking for more responsible work is reasonable (in addition to her current duties, though, not instead of). Asking for (or needing) a promotion at her new employee review a few months in is going to come across as clueless at best, and acting in bad faith at worst.

        And applying for new jobs and saying that the level of responsibility was misrepresented would require that the OP lie – she accepted a junior position knowing it was a junior position. And applying for new jobs a few months into a position because you’re bored is a red flag for employers.

    2. CynicallySweet*

      I’m not sure I agree with the exp bit. Bc even in an adjacent field that’s office exp and OP will probably pick up things faster. That said I totally agree that she’s jumping her guns on the promotion, and the way to go is to focus on those tasks she does like and stress wanting to work on those. I think asking for a promotion could actually hurt her b/c it’s going to look bizarre

  5. Yvette*

    How much do you want to bet the Letter Writer is single and or childless? And that others in his situation for the other shifts on those days are also single and or childless? Those are much more “Family” holidays than say President’s Day, Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day.

    1. Arctic*

      It’s highly likely (unfair but likely) however the manager lying and saying it’s all the same seems almost intentionally antagonistic. I think the LW is probably being targeted for not being in the “cool kids” group as much as being childless (if they are.)

    2. Karyn*

      I’m single and childless. I also have parents, a brother and nephew, and close friends I like to see and spend time with at the holidays. My time is not worth less than that of someone with a spouse and children.

      1. Oaktree*

        Pretty sure that’s the point- that LW is probably getting dumped on because they have no kids, and Yvette is pointing out that the manager is callously assuming childless people don’t also have families they’d like to spend time with on major holidays.

  6. Belle8bete*

    I like gifts from my boss :-) even if they aren’t especially great. I’m in a field where management will never be able or willing to give bonuses (it’s part time, hourly work in the arts). I’ve appreciated it when people gave me a visa gift card, but I also loved getting nice company shirts, hand cream, whatever. It showed they cared and appreciated me, and since higher management doesn’t know me at all, it was nice.

    1. Elemeno P.*

      Same here! My team is only 6 people. We do a Secret Santa (for all of us, plus any interns we have at the time), and we exchange family holiday cards. Technically there is “gifting up” and blurring social/work lines involved, but it’s such a small department that it doesn’t feel inappropriate.

    2. kittymommy*

      Me too. I tend to get cash or gift cards and this is from my bosses, working in government things like pay, bonuses, PTO isn’t really possible to give out individually. Any sort of appreciation has to come from the individuals.

    3. Lavender Menace*

      Gifts from my boss do make me slightly uncomfortable, but my manager gives me a small gift every year. The director of our team and a few other managers do give us their personal holiday cards as well, and I always enjoy getting those. They are usually pretty cute and nerdy, and I’ve actually met and socialized with most of their kids and some spouses.

    4. CynicallySweet*

      My boss got me a gift this year and it was a realltly great surprise! Also of anyone wants ideas the one she went with is super cute. A gift card to the movies and a bag of snickers minis. The card read date nights on me

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      I also think that family card if it is literally just a picture of their family and “happy new year” would be perfectly appropriate. If it was the type of Christmas card that has lots of personal life details I would say no, but just a picture of your family does not seem to blur any lines to me.

  7. Trout 'Waver*

    Yikes at #1. It sounds like the scheduler is rewarding friends and punishing those outside their clique. I’ve never worked somewhere where we got Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day, or President’s Day off. I’ve also never worked anywhere where we weren’t given at least half of Christmas Eve and NYE off. To claim Veteran’s Day as the equivalent to Thanksgiving and that Christmas Eve isn’t a holiday is bonkers. I’d be job hunting based on that alone.

    1. Arctic*

      Agree 1000% on the clique thing. That’s absolutely what is happening.
      But it’s a federal hospital so they would have the federal holidays (which include the also-rans like Columbus Day or Veteran’s Day but not Christmas Eve or NYE, although non-essential federal workers get Christmas Eve off since Bush I.)

      1. De Minimis*

        They sometimes get Christmas Eve off when it’s on a Monday [like this week] but it’s never a safe assumption. It was a little unusual this year that feds [and we contractors] got so much notice that we’d be off Dec. 24th, I know in years past we did not get a final decision on it usually until the Friday before.

        My sister has worked as a pharmacist in a similar workplace [fed hospital] and had a similar issue, so I guess this is a really common problem.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Have you worked for the federal government, though? Those days you’ve never had off are usually due to the fact only government operations, banks and postal service, etc are effected.

      My commute is fantastic on federal holidays…that’s how many people have Columbus Day off.

  8. Arctic*

    Most jobs that require holiday working absolutely include Christmas Eve and New Year’s Even at least informally in their consideration of dolling out the days.
    And saying all holidays are the same is being an active jerk. Honestly, that statement makes me think the manager just doesn’t like the OP.

  9. Roscoe*

    For #1, I’m mostly with you that all holidays aren’t equal. Thanksgiving and Columbus day for example aren’t the same thing. That said, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve (not to mention the EVE of those 2 days) isn’t really a holiday. They are more extensions of holidays, but many places (my job included) don’t get those days off, nor do people get time and a half off for those. So I don’t really know that you have much of an argument there, since there are at least a few people that are working the ACTUAL holidays. I do sympathize. I’m currently at my first job in a LONG time where I wasn’t given Christmas Eve and New Years Eve off, but I don’t really think you can count those as holidays. I think trying to include the eves’s (and the eve of the eves) would make things really hard. Because then, do you assume if Independence day is on a Tuesday, than that “eve” should count since its a long weekend? What about Day after Thanksgiving?

    Alison’s advice is good about ASKING to swap, but I can also imagine people who weren’t scheduled wouldnt’ be happy have their schedules changed later. What I may try bringing up in the future is maybe doing 3 tiers of holidays (so Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Years is tier 1, July 4, Memorial Day, Labor Day, is 2, and whatever the others are fall under 3). Then saying that everyone will work 1 of each of those tiers. That doesn’t help with your (misplaced IMO) opinion of the Eve’s, but it should balance things out a bit more.

    1. Arctic*

      Just because the Eve isn’t a holiday doesn’t mean she employees shouldn’t get some credit for working these highly coveted days off when taking holiday assignments into consideration. That is just a basic fairness. One person shouldn’t be working Christmas Eve, Christmas, NYE, and New Years and be told it’s the same as Columbus day and President’s Day for another. Not only are they more “major” they are also essentially working four highly coveted days to the other person’s two barely coveted days.
      It doesn’t matter what day Christmas Eve is it’s always a big day to take off (and for some people it’s when the big celebration is like in many Italian families.) More so for NYE. That’s only the case for July 3 if July 4 is on a certain day of the week.

      1. Psyche*

        Also, being scheduled to work in the evening on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve does impact their ability to celebrate the holidays in a way being scheduled in the day does not. I would rather work the evening of new years day than the evening of new years eve.

      2. Roscoe*

        This is the government though, and they are very strict on what is and isn’t a holiday. Christmas Eve is not one. Just because many people take it, doesn’t mean it is. I’d almost argue that these days day after Thanksgiving has become just as much of a holiday as Christmas Eve.

        All of that is to say that while I don’t believe all holidays are equal, when you go by the definition of the government hoildays, the eve’s don’t count

        1. Arctic*

          No, that has nothing to do with making the schedule. No one is saying she should get it off paid like a holiday. But when you make a schedule you include these things for fairness.
          And non-essential federal employees always get Christmas Eve off if Christmas is on a Tuesday anyway. So, not that isn’t even always true. Yes, that doesn’t count for hospitals where people have to work.

        2. J.*

          Even if it wasn’t about the holiday or holiday-adjacent days, it’s still important to think about fairness when handing out schedules. If you had a workplace where everyone had Saturday & Sunday off but only worked 4 weekdays and someone was routinely getting Wednesday while a bunch of people always got Friday or Monday, even though it has nothing to do with a holiday, it’s still unfair scheduling because that second group of people gets a 3-day weekend every weekend while the other person is stuck working a more staggered schedule.

          I don’t think anyone is saying that they SHOULD get holiday pay or paid time off on the eves. They’re saying you should consider them as part of the fairness in building a schedule because the second Monday in October is emphatically not the same thing as the fourth Thursday in November.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      The thing here is so industry dependent.

      In healthcare, not privatized and a 24/7 operation, you have to adjust your holiday hopes and dreams.

      Over here in manufacturing and construction, I’m covering for the entire department and only here so others can work without using up their limited vacation…we could have shut down this week. I’ve answered zero calls and gotten a 90% OOO response to my emails.

      My office is spotless tho…

    3. Blueberry*

      When she mentioned eves, I assumed she meant the evening hours of those holidays. Like working in the morning/afternoon was fine, but the evenings should be considered holidays.

      1. LQ*

        This was my assumption too. Working a 5 pm-2 am shift or something like that or a Christmas Eve overnight or a NYE overnight should absolutely count as a holiday. I suspect that Dec 31st overnight shift in ER is likely a much rougher shift than Jan 1 overnight shift and Dec 31st-Jan 1 overnight/PM shift should count as holiday work. I don’t think the OP was arguing that Dec 30th should count as a holiday.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          In healthcare, at least, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, as well as NYE, are all very light in the ED. I was once on call on Christmas Eve, got a call from a person describing obvious stroke symptoms in their parent, with witnessed onset a few minutes before, and when I told them they needed to call 911 to bring them in right away, the caller wailed, “But it’s Christmas!” (She did bring Mom midday on Christmas Day, which was too late for any acute stroke intervention.) I was also on call New Year’s Day that same year; the signout from the overnight 12/31 person was very light, but between my 7AM call start and the end of rounds at 9:30AM, I’d gotten 4 new consults. I saw 18 new consults between 7AM and 7PM, mostly “speaking gibberish” or “speaking in tongues” or other excuses for “this person is really hungover.”

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            Oh man, that is really tragic. I wonder how many others had the same delays for the same reasons.

    4. ArtK*

      The fact that other companies have different holiday schedules isn’t relevant. The fact that you don’t regard the Eves as holidays doesn’t negate the fact that a whole lot of people do. Many people celebrate more on Christmas Eve than they do Christmas Day. (For the religious, that’s when they break their Advent fast.) More celebration is done on NYE than NYD, and the activities are very different.

      Although not on the official calendar, the manager is making the Eves holidays for everyone except for the OP. A fair system would assign someone either the Eve or the Day. Frankly, doing it for both Christmas and New Year’s makes it even more unfair.

    5. Doreen*

      I think “I also feel that the EVE of Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve ” was referring to the evenings of Dec 24 and Dec 31 to clarify that the letter writer wasn’t saying that she considered working the 8am to 4 pm shift on Dec 24 or 31 should be treated like a holiday. Just the evening shifts – which 9-5 government workers have off even though it isn’t a holiday.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Exactly – for anyone who works a standard 9-5 shift, they get the evening off anyways. So they can work their normal day, and then attend Christmas Eve services or have the family dinner celebration or NYE family dinner or a NYE party without needing a vacation. If a job requires evening shifts or 24 hour coverage, it’s a bit disingenuous to pretend it’s not a holiday.

        Also – if you’ve got a multi cultural work force, there are lots of days that aren’t official holidays that are culturally or religiously very important to people. So some consideration in scheduling should be provided for people who celebrate non Western/American holidays. If you ask people what days they want off, you might find some people are happy to work Christmas or Thanksgiving in exchange for a totally different day off. (I’m in the opposite situation – the only standard Western holiday I get off is New Years’s day, aka Founding Day of the ROC.)

  10. Le'veon Bell is Seizing the Means of Production*

    I feel this so much! In an old fast food job, this was always an issue, especially once we went 24 hours. I asked to be put in charge of it one year, and it actually worked out really well; I just asked each person which holidays they wanted off the most, and which ones they wouldn’t mind working. I can definitely see there being cases where that wouldn’t work out, but between 13 pharmacists, I feel like it’s gotta be possible. There’s always someone who really doesn’t mind working Xmas day for whatever reason, someone who isn’t really into thanksgiving unless they’re travelling to visit family, etc. It does take time to find out, and if you can’t make everyone happy it might end up worse (asking people for their opinion and then not following it having worse impact on morale than simply assigning randomly), but I think it’s worth the attempt to optimize.

  11. Good luck!*

    I’m actually surprised by the response to #2… it would not be abnormal anywhere I work to include a holiday card that had a picture of a family on it (and in fact, people have!). I suppose I’ll just say that it would certainly be acceptable and encouraged in many fields… it’s just a picture of your family, I mean quite a few people already have those on their desk, anyway.

    1. Arctic*

      Yeah, that’s such a common thing to do. I’ve received them from managers and co-workers countless time.

      1. Belle8bete*

        I posted above but it got lost in other comments…it’s also not weird to me to get gifts from my manager. I really appreciate them, especially because in my work there’s no way management is going to give us a bonus (we are teachers but in the arts and not in a school). In fact the people above our manager don’t know us really at all. It makes sense for a manager to give us a card and something small to show they care. Sometimes if I’m working for small studios they will give clothes with the studio name on it (which is nice to have) and other small goodies.

        I just think in many offices cards and gifts are a positive part of work culture and enables employees to feel appreciated even though they won’t be able to get bonuses or anything like that.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          I agree! I’ve never worked in a role where bonuses are a thing except for senior staff who have done something truly exceptional that year. I’ve never expected anything along those lines, or extra PTO or what have you, but I have recieved small gifts (chocolates, fancy toiletries etc) from my bosses at Christmas and found them a nice gesture.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m not surprised by the response.

      The general tone around the AAM sphere is to separate work from home, friends from colleagues.

      But you’re right, it’s strictly know your office culture or knowingly try to avoid feeding into one you don’t like etc.

      1. Good luck!*

        I suppose that’s true, I guess it just seems like an extreme case of that… I feel like work can be appropriately separate from home but still have a picture of family on a card… to each their own I guess.

        Also, I love your username! :)

    3. anon today?*

      We got a holiday card from our boss, VP of his family-owned business. They skipped the Christmas party for the second year in a row and we didn’t get a turkey for the first time ever, never get a bonus. But hey, I got a glossy photo card of the bosses family!

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        …that sounds like they’re on hard times and your job is in jeopardy. The first thing cut is minor benefits. Cutting bonuses is a huge red flag.

    4. I AM a lawyer*

      I have received family cards from partners. It hasn’t created an issue. I know their spouses and children, and have spent time with them. I don’t think this advice is universal.

    5. kittymommy*

      I think every single holiday card I got this year was a family photo. Both from co-workers and friends.

    6. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I’d find it a little goofy and maybe a bit tacky, especially if I don’t know their family, but I wouldn’t think it was a big deal.

  12. WinethetimeKat*

    I am a childless person as I could not have children. I have quit two jobs on Christmas Eve, because I was told “you don’t have kids why should you get off? I have kids” well perhaps not but I do have a big family and I want to be with them as well. But the manager would say “well… can’t you work instead” Um nope you gave me the day off and not her because you wanted volunteers for 4th of July and she just had to go to the bar-be-que she was more than willing then to give up Christmas eve. Both times just like this. The last one tried to not pay me for my last two weeks. I sued them and my attorney said” you really want to publicly be know as a company who won’t let childless employees off” they paid me and the attorney. So I am guessing the poster
    is young and childless

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      What? Not only did they try to use a BS “but you don’t have kids!” excuse for working holidays…they straight up tried withholding pay…

      I’m glad you just needed a lawyer letter. That’s an extra few hundred bucks they could have saved.

      It’s not illegal to discriminate over parents vs non parents but withholding pay is always a no-way-bro move.v

  13. AptNickname*

    I feel like our holiday schedule is pretty fair. We don’t work the holidays FedEx and UPS are closed. However, someone works a partial day on other holidays as well as Saturdays. In order of seniority, we choose one holiday and one semi-holiday (like the Saturday of Memorial weekend) until all are scheduled. It’s nice to have an acknowledgement that a three-day weekend is ruined if you have to work that Saturday.

  14. Ilikeyoualatte*

    #5 is absolutely true. I’m a salaried employee that gets NO holidays off (although we can feel free – and even encouraged to take PTO). They say that instead of getting holidays we get extra pto to make up for it (….but I’m getting less time off then anywhere else I’ve ever worked)

  15. Observer*

    #1 – Do you know why your boss is assigning the holidays this way? In addition to Allison’s script, I would ask why he is so resistant to changing up who works which holiday since one holiday is like the next?

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, what happened three years ago? And did the OP work a similar holiday rota last year, or did somebody else get the short stick?

      I’d also be interested in hearing from other people in health care or shift-type businesses with single-person coverage how the Christmas eve/NYE thing gets covered–I suspect it’s just that the OP was scheduled to be on on Mondays, which screwed her over winter break this year. But I bet there are organizations that have managed to recognize that those are more complicated than regular shifts. And at the very least, make sure whoever ends up working both of those doesn’t have to work Thanksgiving. Manager is overwedded to a system at the expense of the employees.

      1. June*

        I posted upthread on our holiday system (healthcare) – the “eve’s” are not considered holidays*, but people can request them off through the usual process (which may or may not require PTO depending on their schedule). People working the holiday have priority for these requests, so those working Xmas have first dibs on getting Xmas eve off if they wish.

        *Exception: 12/31 2:30-11pm shift is counted as part of the New Years holiday and would be worked by 2 members of the New Years holiday team (who then would have 1/1 off)

        1. fposte*

          Oh, thanks, that’s really interesting. Now I’m wondering if the OP’s pharmacy is open Christmas and New Year’s Day, and who’s working then.

  16. Observer*

    #3- Don’t ask for a better job YET. You will look like you acted in bad faith. Of course, reasonable employers understand that people, especially ones with decent skills, are going to look to move up. But if you start agitating withing a very few months of starting, that goes from “looking for advancement” (reasonable) to “Accepting a job you didn’t intend to fulfill” in many people’s estimate (looks like bad faith.) That’s not really good for your future in this company or for future references, either.

    1. PizzaPizza*

      I’m surprised that there aren’t more comments on this letter – the tone was a little surprising, especially when they mentioned that they *need* to be promoted.
      I manage an entry level team, and I have defintely had people join my team as a “first step”, but aren’t willing to put in the work and consolidate the role – they’re too focussed on what is next.
      Never have they been promoted, because other managers are worried that their team is just another step on the ladder.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        This is what I’d worry about. The OP may very well have more and better skills than her peers but is coming across as potentially arrogant here. I’ve done this myself, especially when I was a few years out of college and convinced that I was better at my job and deserved more responsibility than my peers. Others did not agree, to put it mildly.

        As Alison says, OP, the best approach is to try and change attitude and decide to learn as much as possible about the role and do a stellar job at everything. By all means mention that the more responsible assignments have been great and that you’d like to do more of them, but “needing” to be promoted just a few months in gives the impression of acting in bad faith when you took the job.

  17. Lady Phoenix*

    I bet if #1 suddenly handed in her 2 weeks notice, the manager will suddenly change their tune and give them ALL the holidays off.

    I think LW #1 has become the office workhorse and they don’t see why the workhorse needs to stop and drink water.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      1 of 13 pharmacists for a federal facility?

      I’m not doubtful they’re being steamrollered here by a jerkwad manager but that’s not a position they’ll suddenly change their tune over. Healthcare facilities are rarely at the mercy of any given individual.

  18. I work on a Hellmouth*

    Does anyone else kind of wonder if this boss is (or is related to) Leap Year Birthday Boss?

    All of my sympathies, OP, I had a boss with a similar mindset once. It’s frustrating. Asking about swapping out one or two (if all holidays are the same, that shouldn’t be a big deal, right?) seems like your best bet.

  19. Ok_Go_West*

    Go to the baby shower, but definitely recommend staying away from too much talk of why/how you were fired, for your own sake. My husband was angrily let go (not technically fired, but it felt like it) and every time he discussed it with former coworkers, they were very sympathetic and totally on his side but talking about it turned out to be a form of reliving it when he was trying to move on, and it made him feel worse (even though it was also for the best and he also ended up in a better place).

  20. MatKnifeNinja*

    My friend works at a VA hospital, and that is EXACTLY how they do it.

    If it’s not Federal Holiday, it’s not considered a holiday. There is no wiggle at her work place. They blind draw holidays like Easter, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve (not official holidays January 3rd for the upcoming year.) The actual holidays have a list rotation. You may get off Christmas and have to work Christmas Eve.

    People can swap, but who’s swapping if you score Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Eve and New Years day off? *crickets*

    Her department has the same mantra as your boss. A Fed holiday is a Fed holiday. No one holiday is weighted more than another. The manager also sends out an offical blurb about the government party line to shut everyone up.

    My friend’s manager is a lifer, and frankly doesn’t care if people get mad. Or if they quit over holidays. The VA has decent benefits, so while you make maybe less take home, your benefits are better than the private sector. People will eat the aggravation for that.

    I have friends that work in the VA system and the US Post Office. Pleading to a manager about fairness usually falls on deaf ears, especially when they can hide behind government policies/procedures.

    I’d probably ask for more fair system, but don’t hold your breath on it happening.

    1. Former Employee*

      I don’t understand. If the rule is that it has to be a Federal Holiday to count as a holiday, why are Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve included when they do the drawing?

      The fact that the eve’s are included, just reinforces my feeling that the OP’s manager either has something against them or favors other employees. Regardless, they are almost certainly lying when they say that all holidays are the equal. Either that, or they are clueless as respects societal norms.

      1. Doc in a Box*

        I think what MKN means is that Christmas Eve and NYE are culturally holidays that aren’t Federal holidays — like Easter, the other option listed for the blind draw. That is, those are days when many people would want to take time off, but some minimum staff needs to be present for the department to function. I used to work in a VA and that’s how we treated the day after Thanksgiving. For actual Federal holidays, the whole department was closed anyway.

    2. De Minimis*

      I used to work for the Post Office, the system was fair but rigid [and I think was spelled out in the union contract.] Everything was based on seniority and also depended on which shift you worked. The night shift had a greater need for people to be there than the day/afternoon shift due to a greater workload, so roughly half of the people on night shift had to work most of the holidays. If you worked days or afternoon/evening, you usually would be off for all the holidays. The only holiday everyone was off was Christmas Day.

      Same thing applied for vacation times, you bid on vacation weeks at the start of the year, and the senior people had first pick. The bad part was that you had to know in January exactly when you wanted off for the entire upcoming year, and it was up to management discretion if they wanted to approve any deviation from that.

      The other bad part about night shift was that the night before the actual holiday was the designated holiday. So Christmas Night, Thanksgiving Night, etc. were normal workdays, since they were considered the day after the holiday. Night shift got more pay but I got sick of never getting time off/having weird hours, so I moved to the afternoon shift by the end of my postal career.

      I know most Federal workplaces are unionized, but I don’t think any of the ones I’ve worked in have ever had the union involved with holiday scheduling.

    3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      There’s also a difference between drawing straws so to speak and having bad luck (should even out over time) versus being assigned all the worst holidays.

      Being assigned them all seems like LW#1 is either less popular or a newer employee or childless or some other factor.

      The drawing straws method you describe is perfectly fair.

    4. pleaset*

      I’d be very happy to work Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Heck, one of those is my birthday. I’m American, not religious, don’t care much for holidays. I do like time off, but specific holidays I don’t care much about.

      Heck, before I had a kid I’d be happy to work Christmas Day.

  21. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – I have a slightly different take than Alison. It appears that you went on to find a better job than before. IF the topic comes up I’d talk about it as a blessing in disguise. The firing got you into a great new position.

    In short, focusing on the blessing part will push down the drama divas that want to focus on the negative.

  22. Disconnected*

    For LW#5 the phrase “Equal restitution” is your best friend. If your coworkers are getting paid to take a day off a day in lieu is hardly a massive burden.

  23. nnn*

    For #3, there’s no harm in saying (at your review or any other time it comes up naturally) that you really enjoy the projects where you have more autonomy – either specifically referring to the autonomy, or by saying something along the lines of “I really enjoyed working on the teapot lid project – I find it really gratifying to see a project through start to finish.”

    And, while asking for a promotion specifically might be bad form, there’s no harm in expressing interest in specific areas and/or responsibilities in the medium to long term. “I’m really interested in what the teapot handle ergonomics team is doing, and I’d love any opportunities to work in that area if they ever need someone.”

  24. Ruth (UK)*

    1. I don’t know what a lot of those holidays even are but I agree some holidays are bigger and generally a bigger deal to have off than others. Also, some can be more important for personal reasons. When I worked in retail, I volunteered to work Xmas day in exchange to be able to guarantee boxing day off because of some specific traditions etc that I take part in that day.

    Anyway it’s ridiculous of your manager etc doesn’t acknowledge that not all holidays are equal but having worked in places with unreasonable management and where we’re open on holidays, I wouldn’t be surprised if they refuse to understand (or to admit they understand) there’s a difference as it’s likely more convenient for their ease of scheduling to pretend they’re all the same.

    1. TardyTardis*

      I think if the employee who’s getting shafted should leave a nice bottle or two on the boss’s desk that he would see reason. Corrupt and cynical? Who, me?

  25. RE*

    As a hospital pharmacist and currently the department scheduler, our pharmacists never work both Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same year. The holiday schedule rotates for fairness of working the “major” holidays; however, the pharmacists may trade holidays. Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are not considered federal holidays until the US President determines them to be (typically Christmas Eve will be given federal holiday status 5-7 days beforehand). But, you can’t count on that since every President is different. So, I do not put the Eves on the holiday calendar; therefore, the pharmacist may ask for them off or for a specific shift on those days.
    One hospital that I worked at added Spring Break week as a holiday for a few years. That was removed since it didn’t fall into the federal holiday definition.
    You can propose a rotating holiday schedule but sadly I don’t think your scheduler will make any changes.

  26. nora*

    Our office is closed for federal holidays but there are always two people on call, and I was on call for all three summer holidays this year. I threw enough of a fit that they’ve now started a rotation for holidays, separate from the normal on-call rotation. It’s complicated but fair. In theory.

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