my coworkers won’t come to my meetings, ankle-length hair at work, and more

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

1. I can’t get my coworkers to read my updates or come to my meetings

I am interning in an office for the next three months, and have been tasked with leading a project. The result of this project will be launched several months after my internship has concluded, so my fellow project team members will take it over once I leave.

My issue is that I don’t think my coworkers are as concerned about this project as I am. To give a few examples, I send weekly updates via email that no one reads and I schedule meetings that team members skip without notice beforehand or acknowledgement after. When we have work to be completed, I’ll ask my team members to choose which portions they want to work on, and one particular team member just doesn’t follow through, even after I get our shared supervisor involved.

I don’t know how to address these issues. I’m an intern and have little clout in this organization. The only method I have of holding team members accountable is reminding them repeatedly of deadlines, letting them miss the deadline, and notifying the supervisor if the missed deadline seriously impacts our work. I feel like I want to stop working so hard to keep them up-to-date if they don’t care about this launch as much as I do. I have a sneaking suspicion that once I leave, they’re going to let this project fall through the cracks, but that will not be my problem. How should I continue to address these issues until my internship ends in the next few months?

Well, it’s possible that they’re actually prioritizing correctly — they may have work that takes precedence over this project, and that’s why they’re not invested. And they might not actually need the weekly updates or the meetings. Or maybe they really are supposed to be more involved, and they’re shirking their responsibilities. If that’s the case, that’s not something you have the power to change on your own; you’d need your boss to handle that.

Either way, the best thing to do here is to talk to your boss. Explain what’s going on and ask her if you’re expecting more involvement from people than you should, or whether you do actually need them reading updates/attending meetings/doing pieces of the work. If it’s the latter, then say this: “I’ve tried talking with people about this quite a bit, and I think it’s at the point where they’ll need to hear it from you, since I don’t have the authority on my own. Could you talk with people about how you need them to be involved?” And if that doesn’t solve it, then go back to your boss and just loop her in — as in, “I wanted to let you know that I’m having trouble getting ___ from people. So I’m doing X, Y, and Z, but I want to make sure you know those other pieces may not be finished by the time I leave unless Jane and Fergus have time for them.”

Beyond that, though, I’d definitely look at ways to streamline what you’re expecting from people. Unless your boss says otherwise, it might be that weekly updates aren’t necessary, and maybe the meetings aren’t either. When people are busy, it’s often the case that if you ask for less of their time, you’ll get it more reliably. (And if this is your one big project while they’re juggling a bunch of things, it’s understandable that you’re more focused on it than they are.)

2. Will almost-floor-length hair hold me back professionally?

I have very long hair (almost floor-length when it’s down, and I keep it that length just because I like it, not out of any religious or cultural obligation). I always wear it in a conservative updo that hides the length during interviews and for the first few weeks of job-related situations because I don’t want it to be the first thing people notice when they meet me in a professional context, but it’s much easier and more comfortable for me to wear it in a braid.

Do you think letting on that I have this unusual hairstyle is something that’s going to hold me back career-wise? I love it, but it’s pretty far outside of the norm and tends to provoke a lot of questions and comments, and I would hate to have people make assumptions about me or be distracted from the quality of my work. So should I suck it up and wear it in updos at work forever, or can I sometimes go full-on Tangled at work and wear it in ways where it’s visible?

If you’re awesome at what you do, almost-floor-length hair isn’t going to hold you back. But it’s definitely unusual enough that you’re likely to become known as The Person with the Floor-Length Hair and some people will find it odd. You might be totally fine with that, but there’s also an argument for not wanting people at work to be thinking about your hair at all. It’s up to you where you come down on that.

3. Using sick days for vacation time

I started at a company in July that has a fairly generous PTO program (three weeks vacation, four employee-designated holidays, 10 sick days). I am of the mindset that sick days are for when you are too ill to come to work and/or need a mental health day. The only time I’ve ever pre-scheduled sick time is when I’ve had a medical appointment or a medical procedure scheduled in advance.

I was approached by a new hire who is fresh out of college, whose mother works in HR at another company. She advised him that when taking time off, in general, to use sick days and employee-designated holidays first, since they don’t carry over from year to year, then dip into vacation. He mentioned that he plans on taking the one employee designated holiday and the two sick days he has for this year at Christmas since he has to travel to see his family.

I encouraged him to talk to his manager and get his input, but I’m wondering how I should have advised him as a colleague with slightly more time with the company and more life experience (I suspect I’m old enough to be his mother – eek!). Am I being too strict in how I think of using sick days? We have the ability to work from home, so I typically use them when I am at death’s door or just mentally exhausted (I’m bipolar II with generalized anxiety disorder, so I consider it a public service taking a day off when I feel a depressive cycle coming on).

Nope, the way you described this working is how it works at most companies. Sick days and vacation days aren’t interchangeable; that’s why they’re not in one pot. They’re a safety net to be used for when you really need them, which is part of why they don’t roll over.

Your company almost definitely doesn’t intend for sick days to be used for pre-scheduled vacation, so you were absolutely right to encourage him to talk to his manager about it. If you’d wanted, it also would have been fine to just say bluntly, “That’s never been the case anywhere I’ve worked, and in some companies you’d get in trouble for using sick days that way so you should definitely talk to your boss before you do it.”

4. My manager scratches his butt before high-fiving us

I am a supervisor for a retail store and work with a sales manager who is very big on high-fives as motivation. However, I have seen him many times scratch his butt and then go to high-five someone. If it was a one-off scratching a small itch, that would be one thing but it’s happened many times and it’s a full-on scratch (leg straight and into the crack scratch). The first time he tried to high-five me after I saw this, I hugged my hands to my chest and said I have a germaphobia about high-fives and getting sick. I do have a slight germaphobia (12 years in retail will do that) so it’s not a full-on lie, but the issue is now when my staff do something I can’t high-five them without him noticing. Is there another way to deal with this?

Do you have the kind of relationship where you could just be straightforward? As in, “I saw where your hand just was! No thanks.”

If not, then you’re going to have to stick with the germaphobia story, which you’ve already put out there anywhere. And yeah, that means you can’t high-five others.

But also, why is he prefacing all his high-fives with a butt scratch? This is weird indeed.

5. My boss wants two months notice

I work in a very small office where I am the office manager, in-house biller/accounts receivable manager, technical producer for our in-house podcast, head of volunteers and interns, HR manager, etc. As you can tell, I wear almost every hat in my current company. Because of this, I am worried about pulling away from this role, leaving such a large gap to fill. My boss and I have discussed it briefly when we had our yearly review meeting where I requested a raise (as I was originally hired on as an office manager only several years ago) on the basis of maintaining at least six different positions, more than enough for just one person. My boss explained that he was fine with me looking for another job if I was unhappy with what I was being paid, but I would have to give two months notice to find someone as “specialized” as myself. I know he is worried that no one will agree to six different people’s jobs with the mediocre pay, and he’ll end up needing to hire more than one person to fill my position, which I get the feeling he is trying to avoid. And while he said he was fine with me looking, it was delivered very passive aggressively and ended with, “Good luck finding a job that pays you as much as me,” along with a whole slew of other rude remarks.

If I manage to get a job offer, how do I (1) tell my boss that two months notice is too long for a job to hold a position for me and (2) either convince someone to take on six different roles with very little pay, or convince my boss to break up my role into several roles?

You can certainly suggest to your boss that he break the job up into several roles, but you don’t need to convince him, and you don’t need to convince someone to take on the job for little pay. None of this will be your problem; it’s your boss’s, and you don’t need to solve it for him because it’s not your responsibility to that and it won’t affect you any longer.

As for the amount of notice you give: It’s ridiculous for him to expect two months notice. When you resign, give the standard two weeks and if he objects you can say, “They need me to start in two weeks and don’t have any flexibility.” If he reminds you that he asked for two months, you can say, “I didn’t think you were serious about that, since two weeks is standard and there’s no way they’d hold the job for me that long.” And if he’s really obnoxious about it, remind him that he suggested you look for another job if you wanted to be paid more.

{ 531 comments… read them below }

  1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I also have crazy long hair. Could you braid it and then put the braid into a bun?

    If your braid is super long, it will certainly draw attention. But that might just be a quirk and not a dealbreaker if you’re good at what you do and there aren’t safety reasons for your hair to be up.

    1. Kate the Teapot*

      I want to comment here that my friend who has mid thigh length hair once got it tangled in the wheels of an office chair which was terrible – so have a plan for wheels!

      1. Just Employed Here*

        Braid caught when closing a car door. Been there…

        I assume the OP can handle the actual having long hair, though, since she mentions she likes it that way, and is just asking for advice regarding the image it projects at work.

      2. valentine*

        OP2: Your hair length will be A Thing because people are bored and enjoy banging on, but you can make it boring for them and enjoy your hair and your new job.

    2. FaintlyMacabre*

      I have hair that is past my butt, but I work in places where I have to keep it in a bun. Once, I had to come into work on my day off and had my hair down. A few people exclaimed over it but that was about it. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

      (And your hair sounds awesome and I am super jealous!)

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Mine is hip-length and I keep it either in a braid or a bun. Those long u-shaped wire hairpins are awesome, even for fine, straight hair. They’re hard to find in shops but there is, of all things, a Mennonite shop on Amazon that carries a bunch of different types.

        1. Roma*

          I highly recommend “Spin Pins” – also available on Amazon – I used them and always kept a stash to give away while I was in the military. They stay put forever. Plus, women working on cargo aircraft can’t use hair-holding pins that can slip into the cracks in the aircraft decks, so regular flat hairpins are out.

        2. Ghost Town*

          Mine is just past my waist. I can attest that the long u-shaped wire pins are awesome. Currently holding my thin and fine hair in a semblance of a french twist (though I do augment with bobby pins for strength and longevity). I found it in CVS or Target one day but haven’t since. Spin pins are also very useful for buns.

          I always have my hair up for work. Just the decision I’ve made.

    3. Leela*

      Can’t speak for OP’s hair but my hair is only chest-length (I’m quite tall so it’s probably closer to waist-length for most women) and it hurts like craaazy when I have that much hair up in a bun. I can only stand it for about an hour before I get an intense pressure headache that lasts all day!

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s why the braid helps! :) It takes some of the tension/pressure off of the bun and usually avoids tension headaches.

        I’m mostly trying to think of ways OP can navigate dealing with people’s reactions to long hair. It sucks when the first thing that comes to mind for your professional colleagues is your hair length, not your chops. If OP could alternate between a long braid and other looks that deemphasize hair length for the first few months at a new job, it may give OP more time to break the ice before they let their hair down.

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        I had butt length hair once upon a time and any style that relied on the weight of the hair concentrated on the back of the head gave me an awful headache. The only way I could have my hair up for a long time was a full-on up-do where the weight rested on the crown of my head – which for me is not doable for everyday circumstances.

        1. Quickbeam*

          Agree. After a career of clinical nursing I was thrilled to get a desk job where I could do with my thigh length hair what I wanted. I find a narrow headband pulls my hair back from my face and lessens the obvious length issue. People still talk about it, it’s pretty easy to be pleasant without getting into a big thing about it. I get more noise about not dying my hair which is more a gender/age politics issue for me.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Not dying your hair to cover the gray? Gray hair is in style now! Next time the make noise, show them pictures from a fashion magazine. :)

      3. Dr. Pepper*

        I have had butt length hair in the past and yes, I know the literal pain of having the full weight of all your hair concentrated in one spot. For me, I always wear my hair up no matter what, and when it’s longer I divide it up and make several smaller buns in a cluster instead of one big one. Helps distribute the weight of the hair. I also use the extra long bobby pins, or actual olde timey hair pins I got from my grandmother. There’s a reason women used those things; when used right they really do the job and are surprisingly comfortable. There’s definitely an art and a science to successfully and comfortably wearing long, heavy hair up, and it can take much experimentation to find out what’s best for you.

        1. Salamander*

          I’ve also had super-long hair, and my go-to was to gather it at the nape of my neck, braid it, and then wrap the braid around the circumference my head a couple of times, pinning as I went. It distributed the weight much more evenly and kept it out of the way, but it still read in most contexts as a professional style.

        2. TardyTardis*

          When my hair was that long, I divided it into two braids and pinned the tops of the braids on top of my head–this was really handy when it was hot in summer. (alas, the hair at the back of my neck becomes incredibly tangled because I have too many hair types and I spend fifteen minutes a day detangling it when I let it grow that long).

      4. RUKiddingMe*

        Yes to the pain from too much hair!!!

        My hair is one of the few physical traits that I have that I’ve always felt was awesome. It’s thick, medium textured, and a really awesome shade of brown with gold and red highlights. Also at almost 56 years old I have only about 10% grey (genes) which rocks.

        All that said, if it gets too long or if I pull it into a ponytail/bun, etc. for even a moderate amount of time, it freaking hurts/causes a migraine. Plus it takes forever to wash/condition/dry (see: “thick”). I’ve finally settled on more or less “shoulder length, long layers, slight shaping around my face.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ No hair induced headaches anymore, so yay!

      5. Katarina*

        There is a YouTube channel called TorrinPaige that has hairstyles specifically for very long hair. Check out her protective bun videos.

    4. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      Re: that might just be a quirk and not a dealbreaker
      I’m another Rapunzel and I agree. I guess the thing is, as usual, to avoid coming across as too invested in appearance/too weird, but if OP shows that she takes the job seriously, normal people are not going to have problems with it. She could wear them in a bun until she feels comfortable in the new office, or letting them down on casual Fridays/when she doesn’t see clients/whenever applicable.
      And, to be honest, if an office was being weird about my hair instead of looking at my (good) work, I would consider it a bad sign for office culture.

      1. WS*

        Yes, I have a co-worker with knee-length hair (usually in one braid), and everyone who sees it comments on it once or twice and then it’s just normal.

    5. InfoSec SemiPro*

      I agree with everyone here that it shouldn’t be an issue unless you make it one or the company culture sucks.

      I also have long hair (about mid thigh) and I wear buns and simple braids all the time. The only time people comment is if my hair is down for some reason. The difference between “neatly in a braid down my back” and “oh God it’s everywhere” is intense. But a simple braid, or other simple and neat style, is a pretty good signal that your hair is out of the way and it’s work time.

    6. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      OP – I will say that if you are going to leave it down at work you should make sure your ends are healthy and even. I know from experience it is easy for that to get away from you when your hair gets long, and it was not a thing I was careful about until I’d been in the professional world for a bit. Even in a braid going down your back, long hair will look more polished if the ends look even and not split.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding this. I think it comes from the view other people have of the hair not being the same as the straight on one of your face in the mirror–like I don’t see the top of my head but it’s how my husband usually views my hair. We can’t see the back of our heads very well, or the hip-length ends, but that’s a common view other people have of our hair.

        1. Salamander*

          This is indeed a thing! I have a deep part that extends to the back of my head and shows scalp if I’m not careful to cover it up. I can’t see it without a mirror, but it is truly cringeworthy and makes me look like I’m going bald. I’m not – I’ve had it since I was a child, but it looks bizarre if I don’t check for it before leaving home.

      2. CheeryO*

        Yeah, came here to say this – the difference between super long hair that gets comments initially but that people forget about and super long hair that people can’t get past is how healthy it is. I assume OP is blessed with nice hair and takes very good care of it, since otherwise it wouldn’t be able to grow so long, but it’s worth reminding yourself that the office is likely dominated by the “haircut every 6-8 weeks” crowd and that any minor scraggliness will stick out more than it would otherwise. (Signed, a person who only cuts their hair once a year and is constantly micro-trimming split ends.)

      3. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

        LW2 here, I’ll definitely keep that in mind! I have a couple good friends who I know love me enough to be brutally honest and objective about how much I need to cut off to have nice-looking ends, and I’m happy to cut it back to knee-length or mid-thigh if it would look more professional that way.

        1. Jasnah*

          Honestly I don’t think there is a big difference impression-wise between floor-, knee-, or thigh-length hair. Anything past your butt is “super long” and will give the same impression. I don’t think it will be a problem if you’re OK with it, but I think you’d have to get your hair cut to, say, halfway down your back or shorter to avoid “Person with long hair” syndrome, and even that is long for most women.

          1. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

            Oh, I know that all of those lengths are well into “highly unusual” territory! I was specifically replying to the concern about it looking unhealthy or unkempt because of split ends– what I meant is that if I have to trim it more frequently or maintain it at one of those shorter lengths to keep the ends looking neat and professional I’m happy to do that.

      4. WillyNilly*

        I was struggling to find the words, this is a good explanation.
        I tend to find very long hair gross, and until this thread, struggled to explain why. I have regular-long long hair (about armpit length, which by observation is a typical length for long hair). I have seen some lovely waist length hair, but often once it reaches the waist or especially longer it often starts looking scraggly, damaged, etc (this can often be obvious even in a braid)… and I think that triggers in my mind an association that the person lacks in hygiene maintenance; I start wondering what other basics they aren’t attending to as they ignore that their hair needs a trim.

        Its probably irrational, but it is none the less. Its likely not what you want co-workers subconsciously thinking.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Scraggly, damaged, frizzy hair is usually from over-washing and over-processing, not lack of cleanliness.
          I didn’t know until recently about conditioner – only washing. I struggled with frizz all my life, and when I let my hair go gray it got completely unmanageable. I researched gray hair care and found co-washing. It works well! If I’d known I would have been doing it all along!
          I love long, curly or wavy hair, but my hair starts looking limp and frizzy if it gets past the bottom of my neck, so I’m another 6-8 week cut person. :)

        2. Catleesi*

          This is a really good way of putting it, and sums up how I usually react to extremely long hair (Which I would categorize as anything past the waist.) Regardless of whether or not the individual does keep their hair clean (and I think most people do), if it does get scraggly, wispy, ragged, etc it gives the appearance of being unkempt and potentially unclean. My brain might know this isn’t true, and correct after my initial reaction – but it’s going to sit there unconsciously. I have a friend with hair down to her knees, and even though I know her very well my brain still automatically processes her hair this way.

          If you do choose to wear your hair down, OP, there is definitely a possibility you are going to have a coworker that feels similarly – though they will prob get over it once they get to know you. If you don’t do a lot of interaction with outside clients or parties you wouldn’t have as much of an opportunity to get past that initial reaction. I would say putting it up would be the best bet for outside meetings, and easing into the hair being down and tied back ok for regular coworkers.

        3. Kelly L.*

          I think everybody’s hair has kind of a “limit” beyond which it won’t grow well, and when it hits that point, it’ll start getting scraggly instead of longer. But the limit varies from person to person. If I go beyond mid-back, it doesn’t look good no matter how squeaky clean it is. But some people can grow it to the butt and beyond.

        4. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

          I understand why people think this, I really do! But I also think it’s worth doing some self-examination if you feel this way– I don’t keep my hair long for religious or cultural reasons, so I can trim it frequently and keep it very neat, but there are a lot of people around the world who do keep their hair long for reasons like that. That instinctive “ugh” reaction can be really stigmatizing (especially in the professional sphere) for people who may already face prejudice for their beliefs and other aspects of their appearances, even if you don’t think you’re being obvious about it, or you don’t think it’s affecting your decision-making.

          I hope I’m not getting too “some people can’t eat sandwiches” here, but I do think it’s important to keep that aspect of this issue in mind, even if it’s not relevant to me personally. I’m pretty far over on the ultra-liberal feminist side of the spectrum myself, but I think that makes it even more important for me to be an advocate for people who are worried about speaking up because of fears about religious discrimination or similar issues.

          1. Buzz Cut*

            I think it can come from humans instinctually not liking extremes. Ultra-long nails is another trend that some people enjoy participating in, but most others find unappealing, and may not be perceived well in many offices. Can you tell me more about what religion would not allow cutting of hair, which we would encounter here in America in office life? I know the Duggar family (some form of fundamentalist Christian) wears long hair, however my understanding is they do it as a preference and not a religious requirement, as some of them do have short hair.

            1. Pippa*

              Observant Sikhs don’t cut their hair, and there are a number of other religions with rules about the cutting or shaving of facial hair, although of course adherent vary in both viewpoints and practices regarding these rules. (But I’d probably assume a woman with unusually long hair in the US just preferred it that way as her personal style.)

            2. ss*

              People practicing Sikhism are not allowed to cut their hair (men or women). Sikh men wear their hair in a turban usually, but the women usually wear it in braids.
              There are MANY many many Sikh people in the US. LW2 makes a great point about examining your biases and being more tolerant of different cultural/religious practices.

            3. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

              Of course! Keep in mind that I don’t follow any of these religions, so I’m maybe not the best source, but this is at least some general info.

              There’s a passage in the Bible (1 Corinthians, 11) that talks about women’s hair that has been interpreted various ways by a lot of conservative Christian or Bible-based denominations in the US– some restrict cutting your hair entirely, others merely have a vague prescription that it should be “long,” others require head coverings. Sometimes this is accompanied by modest dress, sometimes it isn’t– it varies a lot from group to group, but I know that this is common among some subsets of Pentecostals, Baptists, non-denominational Evangelicals, and probably some others that I’m unaware of.

              Sikhism is another religion that specifically forbids cutting hair, though of course to what degree that’s followed varies from person to person and culture to culture. Some First Nations/Native American people may also keep their hair long for cultural or spiritual reasons. I think it’s very possible that your average American might have a coworker from any of these groups at some point in their working life. I hope that helps!

            4. Femme D'Afrique*

              Sikhs don’t cut their hair for religious reasons. That’s the one that comes to mind first for me…

            5. Salamander*

              Many Amish women and some Mennonite women do not cut their hair. Other Plain women may also not cut their hair, though it probably varies by the order they follow.

              Many Amish men do not cut their beards after marriage, too.

            6. Screenwriter*

              “The Duggar family” does not wear long hair; the WOMEN in the Duggar family wear long hair. It is absolutely a form of domination and control over women, which is part of their “religion.”

            7. JulieCanCan*

              But ultra long nails are also a major hygiene issue. I think I read about it here (on this site) first, but a certain reader’s Doctor husband won’t eat in restaurants where female waitstaff have long fingernails due to the outrageous amount of germs, dirt and grime found under those talon nails.

              I get so grossed out when I see anyone with nails that extend more than a few millimeters beyond the nail bed, especially when the person is handling food or doing manicures on others or doing anything where they should be ultra-clean (nurses!! Eeek!)

              Unless hair is obviously unwashed or so long it’s sweeping the ground- sidewalks- or touching areas that would mean collecting unwanted dirt/dust/ickiness, the long fingernails are definitely more of a hygiene issue for me.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            I too am a member of the ultra feminist camp and I think you should do whatever you want to do/feel comfortable doing within the limits of the “how much am I willing to tolerate to keep this job” sphere.

            People in this culture don’t like things that they consider abnormal. They particularly don’t like anything that women do that seem ‘uncontrolled.’

            Super long hair, even braided/bunned/etc., has the qualities of being ‘abnormal,’ uncontrolled (yeah, even if it’s literally tied up), oh and sexy. And as we all know anything that speaks to women’s sexuality (even if it’s not coming from the woman) that isn’t all about some male person’s desires is just not allowed.

            Yep, it’s the hat trick of an “unrestrained female.” Simply too scary for males and/or women infected with internalized misogyny.

            You say you are happy to keep it well trimmed and in good shape. Make use of your friends who will be honest with you and cut off whatever needs to be cut off…even if it seems like a lot of hair in the moment. It will.grow.back. Make sure to get it trimmed every eight-ish weeks. Not keeping the ends trimmed is the number one factor in split ends/breakage.

            I vote for braiding it. I think it tends to put less weight on the scalp, but that’s not a problem for everyone so YMMV. Nevertheless well taken care of hair, well trimmed ends, braid…perfectly professional IMO.

        5. Delphine*

          I think it’s certainly irrational to assume that the length of someone’s hair is related to their hygiene and that the longer the hair the dirtier the person…

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Oh, that rings a bell. Hippies! I was a little kid in Kansas at the time, but I’ve read about how the hippie style/ethic was to go barefoot everywhere (made the feet dirty), and not always bathe regularly – and have long, uncut hair. It was especially rebellious for men to grow their hair past the ears, and women had their hair as long as they could grow it and straight.
            So long hair became associated with dirt and poor hygiene. Sounds like that still resonates with some.

          2. WillyNilly*

            Delphine, please reread my post. I didn’t actually say the length of the hair is what I related to hygiene, but rather the condition of the hair relates to thoughts on hygiene maintenance… and that often extremely long hair suffers in condition. Certainly it can be can issue with short hair, and some very long hair doesn’t have this issue at all; I was just bringing up a common observation.

        6. brighid*

          I just don’t get the fondness some women have for having super long hair but that’s because my own hair is such a pain in the ass to maintain at shoulder-length level. But if it weren’t for the fact that I need some length to hide my big old ears, I would probably shave my head so I am just not a hair person.

        7. Observer*

          It’s not only irrational, but unfair. For someone who has an easy option to cut their hair short, it’s one thing. But scraggly, “damaged”, frizzy hair with or without split ends has nothing whatsoever to do with poor maintenance or hygiene. For a lot of women, this kind of judginess puts them in a really no-win situation. If they wear their hair curly they are “unprofessional” and if they straighten their hair they obviously have poor hygiene, or they wouldn’t have scraggly and damaged hair. Sure, not every woman has that particular scenario, but it really is what your attitude means for most women with curly or “difficult” hair.

          I’ve known a lot of women and girls with “difficult” hair. Unless they are of a community where women commonly cover their hair, they either live at the hair-dresser or deal with a lot of unfair judgements. NONE of them had poor grooming and / or hygiene habits.

        8. Autumnheart*

          My internal monologue labels this type of hair “cat lady hair”, and as a cat lady myself, I try to avoid growing my hair past the point where it starts to look unkempt. A person can grow their hair as long as they like, but it shouldn’t look fragile, uneven and damaged regardless of length. Whatever the point is where one’s hair starts to look that way is the length past which one should not extend.

      5. RUKiddingMe*

        I was a hairstylist for 25+ years. This is something that used to annoy the ever loving hell out of me. People with hair however long and ¼ of it being dead ends. I would be thinking “that’s not really hair anymore,” but never said it to anyone who wasn’t an actual client.

        My son was a martial artist from a young age. Hence I spent night after night, after night….sitting in a dojo waiting on him. One of the other moms had ankle length hair. Everything from her butt down needed to be cut off. So, so, so many times I wanted to grab her and just start cutting.

        1. brighid*

          Other than projecting my own annoyance with my hair onto others, this is my other issue. It’s so hard to maintain and most people can’t do it because again, it’s hard to do. The longer the hair, the more time-consuming it is. And all for what? So you have to wear it in buns and braids 90% of the time?

          I just don’t get the appeal. But whatever.

          1. K8 M*

            I find it much easier to put up my long hair in a neat style and go than the one time I had short hair and unless I spent at least 30 minutes drying, flat ironing and styling, it looked like crap. To each their own.

            1. Kelly L.*

              Yep, mine works better with a little gravity and a hair tie. Anytime I’ve had it short, it took a ton of wrangling to not look like Raggedy Ann.

            2. Salamander*

              Long hair was much easier for me to maintain than short hair. Mine is chin-length now, but it was much easier to just tie it up and go. Now, I have to use a volumizing product, curl it, spray it…it takes more time.

            3. Anonymousaurus Rex*

              Yep. I recently cut my hair from elbow length to chin length thinking I’d spend less time on it. I was very very wrong. Now my hair looks like crap unless I spend 20 minutes on it, whereas before I was quite proficient in taking 2-3 minutes to put it up in a professional looking bun/braid/etc.

            4. Ghost Town*

              So much this. Mine’s just past my waist. I wash it at night; it dries while I sleep. In the morning, I brush it then either bun or pseudo french twist it. Shorter hair required tools (I no longer own), adjusting my wash schedule, and products I don’t own.

            5. TardyTardis*

              My hair is wavy when it’s longer, but if I get it cut really short, it goes all Hermione, though with a little conditioner it still looks good. (even though the movie Hermione didn’t have any hair issues)

    7. K8 M*

      I also have Very Long Hair. It is always A Thing. I do typically wear it up because I’m in a lab all day and I need it up but on the occasions that I take it down at my desk because it’s giving me a headache I get all of the typical comments (WOW! I didn’t know you had so much hair!, etc…) One time, someone asked me if I was in a non hair cutting religious cult. I didn’t really know how to respond to that one. I do like my hair though so I just deal with it. It is a thing though.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I spent a few years in my childhood attending fundamental Baptist churches (long story not for this forum) and long hair is definitely A Thing in that religion. Most of the women and girls who attended the church wore their hair as long as it would grow – this was based on the verse in the bible about hair being a woman’s crowning glory. My family still jokes about the “Baptist pouf” of massive hairsprayed bangs coupled with super long hair.

        1. K8 M*

          Although not something I regularly discuss at work, it is generally known that I’m an atheist and about as far away from a religious fundamentalist as you can get. I just like my hair, LOL.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        Ugh, yes, can confirm. People are nearly always so hypnotized by super long hair that they feel the need to comment on it, and usually the comments are really obvious and awkward. Sometimes they go so far as to touch it. *shiver*

        My “favorite” comment was made by a near stranger, who grabbed my hair (uninvited) and said, “You’re going to donate your hair to kids with cancer, RIGHT??” almost like she was threatening me. When I had extricated my hair from her clutches and said something like “umm, no?” she proceeded to argue with me that having long hair was selfish and how dare I NOT give it to kids with cancer so they could have hair too.

        1. K8 M*

          I actually cut 12 inches off this summer for my own reasons (still had waist length hair) and DID donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, who thanked me and also told me they are phasing out the program because synthetic hair has come so far that real hair wigs are not in demand anymore.

          1. blackcat*

            Oh noes! I have sent them about 6 feet of hair over the last 15 years. Now what will I do with it when I lop it off again?

            1. me*

              There are some programs that actually use hair to clean up oil spills. It sounds strange at first, but it makes sense because hair is very effective at absorbing oil. You could maybe try donating it there if you don’t want all that hair to go to waste.

        2. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

          Yep, been there, done that! The vast majority of people are cool about it, but the ones who relentlessly pester you about donation or grab your braid like it’s a set of reins on a horse or ask weirdly personal questions are the only big downside of having hair this long.

          My weirdest encounter was a guy who came up behind me while I was sitting at a restaurant with my hair down at the side of my chair, grabbed a couple handfuls and started kissing it while mumbling that it was a blessing from God. I’m definitely hoping that I won’t get that particular reaction at work.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            2nd paragraph: Wow!
            On the up side, it’s a great way to weed out the weirdos instantly. Just show them your hair.

          2. Observer*

            That’s horrific. Anyone who does that at work needs to be escorted out! (Actually, he should have been escorted out of the restaurant, too.)

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          Oh! How dare she! Not just the grabbing, which um nooooo (so tempted to forcefully pry her hand loose regardless of any pain/damage to her hand) but to tell you what you shod be doing with your body? Uggg! I know this was in the past but now I’m all really pissed off on your behalf.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            Thanks! I was fairly accustomed to the odd unwanted hair fondle, but to have someone snatch my hair and demand I cut it off to donate was beyond the pale.

        4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          I’ve had this happen too! I was once cornered in a bathroom of a Red Robin by some strange woman who told me I was a selfish *itch for not cutting off all my hair for kids with cancer. At the time I really loved having long hair – it was a strong part of my self-identity and the one thing about myself that I really liked (looking back I can acknowledge that I was pretty as a teenager, but my self image was messed up at the time). It was so bizarre. You want to give your hair to kids with cancer you can grow out your own hair.

          1. Dr. Pepper*

            Wtf is up with that?? I’ve heard similar stories from long haired friends. Some people have such oddly strong feelings about hair- both length and style- and for some reason see nothing wrong with informing you of what you should be doing with your hair. It really is bizarre.

          2. many bells down*

            I had that “my hair is my identity” issue until I was maybe 30. I was The Girl With All The Hair and I felt like it was a necessity to have it as long as it would grow.

        5. Not Today Satan*

          My hair’s just waist length, but I get a lot of those comments about donating my hair too. It really infuriates me.

        6. Database Developer Dude*

          That actually leaves me extremely ill. A stranger going up and touching someone’s hair without being invited to is creepy to the extreme. If I were present when someone did that, they’d get a verbal lashing from me at a minimum.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            It’s one of many, many manifestations of cultural disrespect of women. We exist for men to play with whenever they want, right? /s

          2. dawbs*

            Usually I haven’t responded because you’re damn vulnerable when someone has you by the hair (and it’s like any other threatening dude and letting them down ‘softly’–it’s easy to think you should bite their damn head off, but if that sets them off, you’re much worse off than if you’d done the smiley toady-ing. I’ve toadied)

            My hair isn’t absurdly long, but I’ve definitely had it happen more times than I can keep track of on fingers and toes together. People are weird. People are weird about hair. Petting it when it was down, by strangers in McDonalds, was a thing.
            I got older and grumpier looking and people don’t touch it anymore-so the ‘young women are fair game’ bit comes into play too.
            It’s all around a minefield and really obnoxious.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I didn’t really know how to respond to that one.

        Lower your chin, look up from under your brow ridges, and smile dangerously.

      4. Connie-Lynne*

        Yeah, mine gets down to my waist occasionally, and since I usually wear it up, it gets comments.

        Oddly, in braids I don’t get comments!

        I’d say, wear it up for a few weeks, then it won’t be the first thing people think about you, and it’ll just be a few comments here and there.

        1. bleh*

          Mine was long – top of thighs – and auburn, so I experienced the comments and the touching. Oddly enough, it was usually women who touched my hair without asking.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I long ago worked with someone with similar hair. Her standard was braided — often but not always pinned around her head. That was publishing industry; she’s continued and moved up the ladder.

      (As an aside, when hair caught in chair wheels came up in conversation, and she pointed out that any hairs longer than a couple of inches will tangle in chair wheels. We all realized that her ultra-long hair was actually easier on office furniture than the shoulder-length hair the rest of us wore, because any shedding was restricted to when & where she unbraided. The rest of us? We shed wherever we were. )

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        PS Now wear mine below shoulder length and almost never wear it loose –and I almost never have my chair wheels gum up.

      2. pleaset*

        ” she pointed out that any hairs longer than a couple of inches will tangle in chair wheels”

        I don’t understand this. If someone has hair that is shoulder length or less, how will it get tangled in chair wheels. The wheels are far away from the hair, unless the person is lying or crouching on the floor. Am I missing something?

        “PS Now wear mine below shoulder length and almost never wear it loose –and I almost never have my chair wheels gum up.”

        This makes sense.

        1. Raine*

          I think they mean stray hairs that have fallen from your head will get caught in the wheels, at least the comment that any hair longer than a few inches can tangle in chair wheels.

        2. Loose Seal*

          I think they mean that hairs that have been *shed* will tangle in chair wheels, much like my Roomba would get its wheels tangled up with my shed hair that was only shoulder blade length, back before I shaved it all off.

      3. Previously in Publishing*

        Seeking Second Childhood, if the person you’re referring to had blond hair and was a designer in the production department, she cut her hair a long time ago. My shoulder-length hair is now much longer than hers.

    9. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

      That’s how I wear it most of the time! Like I said in the letter, I usually have it up in a braided bun low at the nape of my neck for interviews and at least the first several weeks of a new job (it’s actually quite comfortable for me because I’ve found a combination of pins that works for me), so it wouldn’t be part of my first impression. And I would definitely never wear it all the way down at work– the closest it gets to down is my preferred hairstyle, which is a single braid, either a side braid that sits in front of me or a regular braid at the nape of my neck, and that’s the style I’m really wondering if people would be weirded out by after I’ve already known them for several weeks.

      1. Rezia*

        As long as it’s neat, I highly doubt it’ll be an issue. Especially when it’s at the nape of your neck, it won’t be visible from the front, and most people won’t spend long staring at your back. Sure, there may be a comment or two, but in a normal office, your work quality will be what matters.

        1. Liet-Kinda*

          I think people will, if they’re normal and courteous, not visibly or verbally react, and I think most folks will choose to ignore it and focus on her work quality. In that sense I do not think it’ll be an issue. But I don’t think it’s realistic or helpful to OP to gloss over whether people will notice, react to, and form impressions of it.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I would notice and if I could to it without being rude, look at it closely. I’ve never seen hair that long!
            After I’d looked at it once I probably wouldn’t think about it anymore.

            1. Not Today*

              I would wonder how long it takes to shampoo and dry, and how much product is needed. I would also wonder if assistance is needed to comb or brush it all the way through. I would never ask though.

      2. Lemon Bars*

        I don’t think anyone will be weirded out. I do think that with you just starting and having nothing to talk about work wise or personal with you this will be their ice breaker to approach you. If they knew you or when they know you better it wont be as big of a subject but for the first 3 months or so anytime you are brought up it will be about the hair.

      3. nodramalama*

        I was concerned about the practicalities of wearing it down in the office and it getting caught/dirty/etc but if your plan is to do braids etc I think it would be okay. Ankle length hair is very long though, I would probably have a lot of questions if I noticed it to be honest. I don’t know if I’d actually say any of them out loud but I would be wondering how you keep it clean, doesn’t it get heavy etc

      4. pop*

        I dont want to be mean, but what I just think is gross is that your hair touches the floor when you are sitting. And that makes me cringe. Like bathroom floors, etc. So just some of the above comments about it being dirty, and irrational, thats where mine comes from and I am sure I am not alone in that thinking (no matter how misguided it may be).

    10. LadyPhoenix*

      I have seen styles like that and they are so pretty! Or a bun with a braid wrapped around.

      The only concern would probably be weight

    11. Shark Whisperer*

      I’m a short hair person myself, but I once worked with a woman who had super long (about thigh-length hair). She always wore it down or in a simple braid. When I think about her though, he hair is usually the last thing I think about. She was considered a good supervisor, she was promoted quickly, she always got things done, and she was generally soft-spoken but was in no way afraid to speak up for herself or her reports. Even though I wasn’t in her department, those things always stood out to me more than her hair.

    12. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      Years ago I had a coworker with extremely long natural fingernails, well-cared for but usually unpolished. I had a kind of morbid fascination with them. It was years ago and the nails are what has stayed in my memory. Honestly, I suspect I’d have the same reaction to Rapunzel hair.

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        Ultimately, I think – unfortunately – this is what it will boil down to. Extraordinarily long hair or other grooming choices that are way outside the norm are memorable, and perhaps more in the “I am kind of morbidly fascinated with it” way than any other. Obviously it will be highly dependent on industry and office how outsized that reaction is, but I suspect it will rear its head wherever. Whether OP wants to deal with that is her call, but I somewhat disagree with the sentiments some have posted above along the lines of “as long as it’s neat, it won’t be an issue” or “if you do good work, people will notice that more than the hair.” People are absolutely going to notice and react to it.

        1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

          Agreed… I always sort of roll my eyes at the “It shouldn’t matter!” comments. Mostly because it does. Yes, we’d all like to live and work in a world where appearance doesn’t matter, but the hard facts are that it counts as to how we interact with other people.

          We are hard wired at our base level to care and react to the appearance of those around us. Now we are able to get past that to a certain extent, but at the end of the day how you look does matter.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree. It does mean that for some people, this will be the main thing they think about the OP until she gives them reason not to, and some people will be a little squicked out (as they are by super long nails). It’s her call to decide she’s fine with it, but we shouldn’t pretend some people won’t react that way.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          This. Also let’s not gloss over the idea that women’s hair is “required” to be controlled. For personal reasons I can see wearing a braid or a bun…just so it didn’t get in my way. However the culture in which we live will take a dim view (on the whole) of a woman whose hair is beyond “normal” and/or isn’t constrained in some way. Ergo…it could be an issue depending on the company, culture, other players.

          1. Not Today*

            Yep, we black women who wear longer, less-controlled natural hair can attest to being labeled unprofessional.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          I confess I am often pretty distracted by the unusually long eyelash extensions of the woman who sits in the cube next to me. It’s not the first thing I think of when I think of her and it doesn’t affect my impression of her work or anything, but when I’m actually talking to her it’s pretty much the only thing I can focus on!

        5. Courageous cat*

          Agreed. I don’t think neatness or cleanliness ever has anything to do with it in situations like these – long nails, hair, etc.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        The second or third time I went to my dentist there was a problem with the receptionist. When I was asked which person had screwed up, I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know what she looked like. I had been so dazzled by her bright sparkly nails, that’s all I remembered.
        So I guess the point here is, try to keep the hair unobtrusive so it’s not the first thing people notice. No sparkles or bright colors – too distracting.

    13. Pegasus*

      What about a snood (probably better if hair isn’t super thick)? Or a “milkmaid” braid? Otherwise I agree with what Alison said and with other commenters about deflecting focus.

      1. Youth Services Librarian*

        I have long hair – usually middle of the back to below the waist. I rarely wear it down b/c it’s very thick and hot! I use twisty pins to put it up in a bun or clips for a milkmaid braid (that was a great discovery – I could never get my braids to stay up before then!). I have plenty of people comment on it, especially when I dyed it blue and purple, but thankfully I’m in a profession where it doesn’t really matter (at least, I’ve never noticed anything and if it has mattered I really don’t care.)

  2. zaracat*

    Yeah, if your boss wants to put all his eggs in one basket by having one person fill multiple roles and no realistic backup plan, that’s on him not you. It’s reasonable to document your work processes and help prepare a training guide or transition plan (on company time!) for your potential replacement(s) but that is something completely independent of your notice period.

      1. valentine*

        he was fine with me looking for another job
        Lol. What he thinks doesn’t matter (unless you let it, OP5). He’s taking advantage of you by making you work every position needed apart from his. Do you also have to fill in for him when he’s out? It sounds like you are sharing too much with him. You can prioritize yourself and not give him a vote. When you get a job, don’t tell him until you give two weeks’ notice. Just because he needs you doesn’t mean he won’t fire you on the spot and, given longer, someone this willfully obtuse is likely to have a sole plan: trying to convince you to stay.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I know he is worried that no one will agree to six different people’s jobs with the mediocre pay.

      This is the very embodiment of “not your monkeys, not your circus.”

      1. irene adler*

        Precisely. Unless you are part-owner of this company, don’t give this any further thought.

        OP: your quitting, thus putting him in the position of trying to fill your job, is exactly the price he should pay to realize how badly he undervalued you.

    2. LKW*

      Agreed. Plus, it’s not like he can keep you for an additional 6 weeks. Once you resign he has almost no power. He must pay you for any hours worked and any accrued vacation. He can make you leave earlier but he can’t make you stay longer.

      All you can do is write down the instructions for how to do these 6 jobs, make the files available, communicate the files are available and walk away. He gave you two options. Live with it or leave. Once you get a new job he has two options, take the two weeks or don’t.

      1. Thornus67*

        He doesn’t necessarily have to pay any accrued vacation. Federal law doesn’t require employers to pay out accrued vacation, and states vary widely on whether and to what extent accrued vacation must be paid out when an employee leaves a job.

        Assuming, of course, this is a US person. And if not US, then other countries’ laws will also vary.

    3. Artemesia*

      I am concerned that the OP seems to think her boss has any control over her transition to a new job. She is not his slave and when she leaves is up to her. She should be professional about it, work now on documenting processes so she can leave information for the next person, and when she actually gets a job, give the standard two weeks notice. Any push back is met calmly and with ‘this is when they need me to start so I will only be able to give the standard two week notice; what can I do to help make the transition easier, I have left a folder with XYZ information for the next person in this role.’ And then no more discussion but bland, ‘well Jan 20 is my last day so what can we do now to make that go smoothly’ etc etc. Don’t let him make you defensive about doing the normal thing especially in light of his unwillingness to compensate you adequate and his invitation for you to love it or leave it.

      1. Liet-Kinda*

        Right? His business planning, and failures thereof, are so very not her problem. If he’s an idiot who couldn’t hire four people to do her job, well, that is his challenge to rise to! It is not OP’s problem and not hers to solve. And he gets zero say in how long her transition period is.

      2. Dr. Pepper*

        I imagine because the OP has been doing so many jobs and the boss relies so heavily on her, she feels much more responsible for everything than would be normal for someone in her position. I’ve been there. Overworked but conscientious people get like that and it can be tough mentality to break out of. I’m hoping the OP sees these responses as a wake up call. I’m guessing the “well get another job if you’re so unhappy” comment was the boss blustering, as people who realize things are hanging by a thread often do. He was probably hoping she’d protest and say she was perfectly happy or something silly like that.

        I second the advice that the OP should start documenting everything as thoroughly as possible in preparation for her departure. Leaving clear documentation for the next person is professional and gives a lot of strength to your position of “I’m leaving in two weeks, I’ve done all I can and all that is reasonable”. Not that you’re required to do that, but it will make it much easier for you to gracefully exit in two weeks because you’ll be able to repeat “it’s all documented” to whatever panic the boss may throw at you.

        1. mr. brightside*

          Yeah, the boss is pushing ownership on the LW, and so the LW feels the burden and responsibility of ownership, without any of the benefits.

          LW, just document your job, and leave with a clear conscience. Your boss put this burden on your shoulders. It’s made you feel like this is your problem, since that’s the way he’s crafting it. But it’s not your problem. It’s his business. You just work there. And you can stop working there.

        2. CanuckCat*

          That was me when I quit my last job; I’d been doing the work of 2-3 people, and quit without the business owners having even begun to consider hiring someone new. I just made sure to carefully document everything I did on a regular basis, saved copies where the other staff could find them and then went out of the country for a week. Best plan ever.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        I think the fear is often rooted in the unknown. If She’s been there for many years and has no other references, it’s a scary situation to face down.

        However I found out quickly that I could find plenty of similar setups, small businesses who need a Do Everything’er and they don’t care to check references. It’s part of the risk but it’s paid off for me. I’m finally in a do very little, get paid quite a bit role. You’ve got this #5, You’re gonna be okay! Burn this guy down on your way out.

    4. Beth*

      Heh. I was the underappreciated and underpaid Six-Roles employee who gave two months’ notice before I moved to the other side of the country. Wanna guess how much effort my bosses put into making sure my roles were filled before I left? I had one afternoon with the bookkeeper who was going to take over that part of my work, (she said she needed MUCH longer and wondered why they hadn’t set it up that way). That was it. They never actually filled my specific position, even after I left.

      I think my bosses had been justifying my poor pay by telling themselves that everything I did wasn’t really all that much, so it logically followed that they didn’t need to replace me.

      Last I heard, they had hired four extra people to cover the gap I left, and were having serious problems with employee retention . . .

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#5, I want a cabin in Lake Tahoe, but that’s not going to happen. Your boss might want 2 months’ notice, but that’s not going to happen, either.

    He doesn’t get to pay you poorly, rant at you, or be surprised when you give notice after he’s told you to find a job elsewhere if you’re unhappy with the pay. You don’t have to justify why you’re giving less notice when you line up your next gig. You don’t have to convince him to break up your responsibilities into several jobs. You’ve already put him on notice of both of those things, and now the ball’s in his court to decide how he’s going to move forward. You get to let all of his troubles go and keep movin’ on.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Also, OP5, even if you hadn’t already had that conversation about salary and “good luck finding another job” with your boss, it would be perfectly OK to resign and give the appropriate (according to convention, not boss’s wishful thinking) notice anyway.

      It’s OK to quit a job even if your boss is wonderful, pays you gazillions, the task is to stroke puppies, and you never discussed not being happy.

        1. Mrs. Fenris*

          Well, I’m a veterinarian and that’s exactly what most people think my job is! (Hint: not even close.)

          1. Dust Bunny*

            Mange. Snot. Maggots. Fleas. Animals that haven’t been bathed or groomed properly in years (hint: Don’t get a shih tzu if you can’t afford grooming). Dog-fight wounds (we once had two large dogs who got in a fight and one, um, neutered the other for us. But it did convince the owner to get the other one neutered, at least).

            Let me tell you about the ancient dog with diarrhea *and* a tangerine-sized anal-sac abscess . . . which ruptured. That was as close as I ever came to barfing at work.

            1. Normally a Lurker*

              Side note, my cat is anxious in cars (but travels in planes like a champ) and often poops or pees herself on the way to the vet.

              I was mortified bc I came in with a pee soaked cat and terrified that they would take her away for neglect.

              My vet said – “No, this is fresh. She’s clearly well cared for, but cars are a thing, as they are with a lot of animals. We know you aren’t mis-treating her.”

              I didn’t actually understand that until a vet tech friend was like – oh, no, your vet was right – let me tell you some horror stories.

              … I applaud you and everyone in the vet field for taking care of animals. It’s a rough job and I’m glad there are people who can and will do it.

              1. ElspethGC*

                My old cat basically had PTSD from being abandoned (nine months old with a litter of kittens in a box on the side of a motorway), and associated car rides with that experience. Every single car ride was accompanied by urinating, defecating, and uncontrollable drooling, usually all three before we reached the end of the road. Vets are used to it – the vet techs always took the carrier through to the back to disinfect it, and they gave us fresh newspaper to pad the bottom and a carrier bag for the soiled towel. She wasn’t stressed about the vets, she loved the fusses and attention, she just hated the car.

              2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                My one grandcat is terrified of car rides, and the other one, his brother, is not. I wasn’t there when it happened, but I was told that, one time on the way to the vet, cat#1 peed and pooped all over cat#2. No cats were taken away.

          2. Dr. Pepper*

            I work in a related field and I can clear a room of Mr. Hilarious Jokers in minutes with my stories. Oh, you’d like to play the gross out game? Let me tell you of the smell of a retained placenta and exactly how that’s treated. What, you leaving already?

            1. lost academic*

              Treating strangles in equines. That’s my favorite.

              Side note – not all that different from peritonsillar abscesses in people, but the horses get more anesthetic.

    2. Dragoning*

      Honestly, I can’t imagine even two months is enough time to find someone to replace OP at their rate of pay.

      1. Mookie*

        Exactly. And if the position were so choice, the pay as generous as the boss suggests, why would it take him that long to fill it?

      2. Blue*

        Agreed. And it sounds like he’d be one of those bosses who, when there’s no one else lined up at the end of the two months, would then tell her she’s not allowed to leave yet. OP needs to be prepared to stick to her guns, regardless.

        1. ENFP in Texas*

          I’m in the US, and if a boss tried to tell me I was “not allowed to leave yet” when I was quitting a job, I’d point out that slavery was outlawed in the 1800s as I walked out the door.

          To the OP – don’t let an overdeveloped sense of loyalty put you in an awkward position, and remember that if your boss found someone who would do the job cheaper, or had to cut expenses, HE sure wouldn’t give YOU two months of notice before letting you go.

          Good luck in your job search!

          1. pcake*

            Especially don’t let an overdeveloped sense of loyalty put in in an awkward position when that loyalty is so obviously not reciprocated.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            “…HE sure wouldn’t give YOU two months of notice before letting you go.”

            This. They (as a rule) are not going to give you any notice whatsoever. I learned this lesson (from my grandmother) when I was still a child years away from being old enough to even get a work permit.

      3. Genny*

        Right? I love how he described her role as “specialized”. It’s not a specialized role, it’s a catch-all role because he can’t be bothered to pay the necessary number of people to do each of those thing.

      4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yeah, OP’s boss reminded me of a guy I once worked for in an office assistant role. My responsibilities included, weirdly, computer maintenance and repairs. (Okay, not very weirdly, I’d been a programmer in my previous life before working for him and he knew it.) He was still looking for my replacement six months after I left. I was told he was looking for a programmer with a CS degree from a good school to fill the part-time office admin position that I’d left. I’m sure that certainly helped his search, on top of the reputation he already had in our small town as a nightmare to work for. OP, Dragoning is right, if you let him believe you’re going to stay until he finds a replacement, you’ll never be able to leave, because he’ll never find a replacement.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          “…he was looking for a programmer with a CS degree from a good school to fill the part-time office admin position…”

          Well I’d like free access to Fort Knox, but that’s just not gonna happen either.

    3. Melissa D.*

      Most likely your boss knows he’s screwed if you quit, which is why he wants ample time to come up with a solution if you find another job.

      I had a job like yours. Handling 6 people’s work for $16 an hour, and was told there was just “no money” to pay me more. Gave my 2 week notice despite a plea to give more.

      Boss had to hire 4 people to do my work. Found out from old coworkers that the new folks were struggling. Too bad so sad. Give your notice and feel no guilt.

      1. RJ the Newbie*

        Ditto this. He has only himself to blame for the situation. I’ve been in exactly your position OP#5, except (after a merger), my new company decided they would split my role and restructured me out. From what I heard from my old associates, they struggled to fill the roles created for five years. I was office manager, project accountant, receptionist, payroll coordinator, HR, etc. Power and kudos to you for stepping up your game, but don’t linger. Leave giving the usual 2 weeks notice and take what you’ve learned elsewhere.

      2. she was a fast machine*

        Same. I did three people’s jobs and part of my supervisor’s job for $10 an hour. They still, more than two years after I’ve left, get in touch and ask me questions and try to get me to contract in and help them with stuff.

        1. mr. brightside*

          Depending how bitter I was, I’d respond “sure, I charge $500 an hour. Let’s sign some papers.”

          1. C-Hawk*

            I just recently did this back in August, but kinda in reverse. Old boss thought she could get my responsibilities combined with another job (even though I was already working at least 50 hours a week on just my job), and tried to replace me with a guy who’s only qualification for my role was “took two classes on it in undergrad” (I have a Ph.D. in the field, so we’re not talking about grunt level work). Less than two weeks out of the job, they had the gall to email me with a request to “send all of my personal notes and a list of best practices for someone starting out doing my job.” I had fun telling them now that they were not providing long term job security nor paying my payroll taxes, benefits, or retirement funds, I would require $125/hour as a consulting fee. I got a ludacrious email back about the importance of the comapny’s mission, and my boss saying I “never had a problem producing these documents when I was employed there, so why should things be different now?” I ignored it, but then got a panicked email in November; come January I actually will be consulting for them, for a very nice fee.

    4. Bluebell*

      +1 for this. At my last position I gave 6 weeks notice in my initial conversation with my boss, and then boss said “well we will see if we need you for longer.” I refrained from laughing and handed her the official letter the next day. It took them 16 months until my replacement started.

      1. irene adler*

        Sixteen months???
        I’d love to be the fly on the wall listening in as they ponder their situation- not able to quickly find your replacement.

        1. mr. brightside*

          In an old job, the boss of my department was forced out. And then it took them over a year to find someone willing to take that job. They had a few people about to take it, but back out at the last minute once they got more info.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        “…well we will see if we need you for longer…”

        Because they had some say in it? Ahahahahaha!

    5. CM*

      I love how Alison’s advice includes repeating his own words back to him. He told you that if you were unhappy with your salary, you should look for another job. So you took his advice.

      There are so many letters here about how people’s employers act like they own them and try to impose all sorts of post-employment conditions. Your employer doesn’t have that power over you! Unless you signed a contract promising you’d give a certain amount of notice, just give a reasonable amount like two weeks. If he sputters and says he needed two months, you can say that you’ve been telling him for a long time that it’s not sustainable to have one person have all these responsibilities, especially at your current salary. So he’s been on notice all that time.

  4. Tangled-Wanna-Be*

    Removed because it’s off-topic here but you’re welcome to ask about growing long hair on the weekend thread!

  5. Lord Gouldian Finch*

    #4 – Is he scratching his butt or wiping his hand on his butt cheek? I wonder if he has sweaty palms and feels it’s somehow more discreet to wipe his hand on the back of his pants. I mean it’s still weird and he shouldn’t do it. I’m just trying to figure this one out…

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            Stay lying down. Yesterday friends&I splurged on lunch at the Nordstrom’s cafe, and some guy walked out of Nordstrom’s into the mall with his hand down the front of his pants. I might have passed it off as a poorly considered wedgie adjustment – but he was in my line of sight for a good 5 seconds.
            Oh and shiny blue underwear contrasting with his light colored shirt and pants. It was screamingly obvious.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I had two different coworkers at an OldJob, a man and a woman, who both did that on the regular. And by “that”, I mean sticking their hand way deep inside the back of their pants, and scratching or picking with abandon while talking to people. The woman was in a senior position, and I was told that she would do it while explaining things to someone, and then would touch the person’s monitor and type on their keyboard with that same hand. The guy, I once saw doing that right before lunch. He then went into the breakroom and helped himself to the communal plastic utensils. I started packing my own silverware with my lunch the next day, and am still doing it, because now it’s a habit.

            I also had a coworker at that same job who would wear sandals all year round, then take them off while working, and put his bare feet up on his desk so that they were sticking into the aisle. I sat in the same aisle and stared at his bare feet all day long. Nothing can surprise me anymore (though I have probably just jinxed it).

          3. Miss Ann Thropy*

            It’s silly to ask this about a butt-scratcher (Gack!), but why is this guy high-fiving people at work? Unless you play for a professional basketball team, this is weird in and of itself.

      1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Inside vs. outside of his pants is key here. I first imagined outside his pants – because it’s horrific to imagine him actually sticking his hand down his pants at work, but as I went on I was less sure. If it is inside his pants then maybe someone needs to have a different conversation with him. In a retail environment there isn’t really HR though, so it is harder.

      2. Yay commenting on AAM!*

        Yes I think this is what’s going on. I’m fairly germophobic but if someone wiped their hands on their pants- even the butt part- I wouldn’t mind.

    1. Personal Best In Consecutive Days Lived*

      Wiping sweaty palms is best done by casually wiping the down the front or sides of your pants IMO.

    2. Antilles*

      I’m assuming inside, because if he was just wiping grease or sweat off his hands on his pants, I don’t think it would have been specifically called out as the rear. In fact, if the issue is “his hands are dirty but he wipes them on the outside of his pants”, the issue isn’t the wiping (which actually makes it slightly less dirty), it’s “how do I get my boss to not high five us when he’s in the middle of changing motor oil?”

    3. Flinty*

      I’m prepared for this to be a very unpopular opinion but…

      Germ-wise, is scratching your butt (outside the pants obvi) any worse than like, scratching your shoulder and then high fiving someone? People should not scratch their butts in public, and should definitely not scratch and high five, and this guy is definitely a huge weirdo if one always prefaces the other. It’s super icky. But if my coworker scratched his butt and then went for a high five and I was just looking at his hand up in the air and his expectant face, I think I would just high five him? Probably?

      1. Anon From Here*

        I’m with you. The seat of your pants touches … seats. I wouldn’t see this as any different from someone reaching to shake my hand or high-five me after putting their wallet away in their back pocket.

        1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

          Unless you’re Sheldon Cooper and they’re Bus Pants, the special pants you wear on the bus over your pants to keep the Bus Seat Germs off your regular pants.

          Though as a long time rider of mass transit, this sounded like a good idea.

    4. Loose Seal*

      I feel like it’s probably his inner pre-teen who gets a thrill out of making people high five his butthand. I wonder if there are other examples of juvenile behavior from him? If so, if I were OP, I’d start calling him out on the butt-high-five move with Alison’s line but ramped up a bit: “Dude, gross! I saw where your hand just was! Who does that? What are you, twelve?”

  6. Coder von Frankenstein*

    I’m always fascinated by bosses who think they can impose conditions on when and how their employees leave. Hello? Your authority over them, such as it is, ends when they walk out the door. What are you going to do if they don’t follow your rules? Fire them?

    1. Coder von Frankenstein*

      Also, to the questions:

      The way you do #1 is to say “I’m giving my two weeks’ notice,” and then when he tries to say you have to give two months, you give him the Shrug of Doom, because it ain’t your problem.

      The way you do #2 is, you don’t, because it ain’t your problem. :)

      1. BeenThere OG*

        My favorite time to give the shrug of doom is after I’ve asked for changes then been given a non-raise.. maybe it’s more a smug shrug of doom.

    2. Zombeyonce*

      The only thing I’d worry about is resentment from the boss leading to a negative reference. But if they’re really this unreasonable in their expectations, I think giving a slight warning to perspective employers would be good. The key is to fit that in where it doesn’t sound like a warning (e.g., when asked why you’re leaving your current position in an interview, mention that you do 6 different specialized jobs and that the company won’t hire anyone else to help with the burden).

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m not sure I’d say I’m leaving because he won’t hire anyone else in an interview. The interviewer can’t know that the candidate’s assessment is right, and without specific knowledge of the candidate’s employer, complaining about staffing in the interview can be yellow flaggy.

        I assume that by the time OP gives notice, they’ll have an offer on the table. That minimizes the role of the current boss’s recommendation. But they may want to negotiate their recommendation as part of their separation.

        1. Mookie*

          But the LW can safely and truthfully say, with tactful wording, that the position was not as advertised and she tried to make it work but the compensation didn’t match the breadth and variety of duties; it’s a common enough occurence that there’s no reason for an interviewer to be especially suspicious or skeptical of this—job searches sometimes are about poor present working conditions and the key is to sound matter-of-fact rather than aggrieved. These things happen in small organizations where people get overloaded with work because somebody in charge is being unrealistic and stubborn about adding staff. This part doesn’t need to be explicitly stated.

          1. MLB*

            This 100%. She was hired as an office manager, and it has developed into a bunch of other jobs without the proper compensation. You can definitely let an interviewer know this in a way that doesn’t present as “yellow flaggy”. Not to mention, she doesn’t necessarily have to use her current boss as a reference. In fact, I don’t think I’ve EVER used a current boss as a reference, unless they knew I was looking (which had only happened once in my 20+ career).

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Good point. Given the lenght of time there, I’d avoid “not as advertised”.
              It would be accurate enough to say that the job responsibilities grew significantly without any commensurate change in job title or pay rate.

              1. Artemesia*

                My job duties changed and became more demanding and complex without any path for promotion to recognize that. Something like that. And if they want a recommendation, then it is time to say ‘He is demanding 2 months notice which is not possible of course and I suspect that will affect any recommendation he gives.’

                1. TootsNYC*


                  If she DOES want a clear path to promotion, then certainly she could say that. Then they won’t offer her the job, which is a win, right?

                  Now, if she needs a job, any job, then yes, perhaps she would want to say “without any monetary recognition of the extra duties or expertise.”

                  But I sure hope she doesn’t want to work somewhere that will treat her the way this guy is treating her–she’s already got one of those jobs, with some seniority and a great deal of familiarity with the job tasks.

                2. Colette*

                  Are there a lot of jobs out there where there is a clear path to promotion? That hasn’t been my experience – there are jobs where promotion is possible, but often that depends on the decisions of a lot of other people (to reorg the group, or to move to a new job and leave a vacancy.) If someone wanted to come in already talking about a promotion, I’d be concerned that they weren’t a good fit for the job that exists.

                  I’m also not sure what a promotion would look like for an office manager.

                3. Alienor*

                  Depends on the job–at the company I work for, there are jobs with very clear paths, where you get hired in as an associate teapot painter and then can be promoted to Teapot Painter I, Teapot Painter II, Senior Teapot Painter, Teapot Designer I, Teapot Designer II, etc. And then there are other jobs, same company, where you can go 10 years with the same title and if you ask about your career path, your manager will tell you that you need to create and propose a new position for yourself.

            2. Genny*

              In that case, you can say something along the lines of “this job moved in X direction, but my career goals lie in Y direction.”

              1. Michaela Westen*

                I would be careful with this unless OP is aiming for a specific career. It could come off as she’s not open to growth in other directions.

                1. Genny*

                  I mean, obviously LW needs to tweak her explanation in a way that fits her scenario, but I think this example broadly works. For example, if she wants to keep the HR part of her job but ditch the podcast part, then she can say “I really enjoyed the HR parts of my job and am looking to further grow in that direction. Unfortunately, my current job began evolving more towards producing podcasts, which isn’t the direction I see myself moving in.” I don’t think any reasonable hiring manager would have a problem with that explanation. It essentially boils down to I want X, job became Y, so now I’m looking for a position more aligned with X.

                  I do want to push back slightly on the concern that it could come off that she’s not open to growth in other directions. It’s okay to narrow down your interests. It’s okay to have areas you just aren’t interested in exploring. That may close off certain jobs, but you there’s nothing inherently wrong with specializing. If you need a job, any job, you probably won’t be able to be as choosy (in which case, your advice makes sense), but when you have the ability to be choosy, it’s okay to preemptively decide you’re not interested in this or that area.

                2. Database Developer Dude*

                  Why is that a problem, Michaela? If you want to go one way, and the job wants to go another way, isn’t it better to know now? I’m a SQL Server database engineer. If someone wanted me to interview as a Network Engineer, not only would I decline, I wouldn’t even apply in the first place, but lots of places say they want an “IT Specialist”, and that’s all they say…because they want everything and the kitchen sink….

                3. Michaela Westen*

                  If OP is more focused on finding a good job, I think it’s better not to limit herself to a particular career direction. With her varied experience she would probably qualify for a wide range of jobs. With the boss she’s dealing with now, I expect she would be focused on finding a better job.
                  If she does want a particular career direction, she should focus on that… but it could take longer to find a good job if she’s not considering all possibilities.
                  I used to make that mistake when I was young… I would say, “I want to do this” and not consider other opportunities. I really didn’t know what I wanted and kept changing my mind. The expectation that I would have a career direction confused me. I should have been looking for a way to make a living doing something I’m good at, but I didn’t understand that till much later.

      2. MK*

        Eh, the OP doesn’t want them to hire someone else; she doesn’t even say she is overworked (I know the six jobs imply this, but in a small company an employee can fill many roles within reasonable hours and workload). She wants to be paid more because her responsibilities changed.

        1. Mookie*

          It does sound like the LW recognizes the workload as hefty enough that it presents a dilemma, though, because if it’s unlikely to attract competent people who know what this allsorts-like role ought to pay with the pay as it stands, the alternative (at least one additional hire) sounds like it’d be even more expensive to the boss.

        2. Anon for this one comment*

          Agreed. I mean the job sounds a bit much, but she’s not doing any of the roles full-on full-time if the company is that small. Her boss is a tool for not paying her more and his attitude.

        3. SAM*

          I agree wholeheartedly. I have had this exact job for a small company I think that the LW didn’t explain/understand that in many small companies you may have many different duties (but they are not separate jobs) as an office manager. Of course you are doing payroll, AP/AR, HR functions, etc. That is what managing an office is for a small company requires. That doesn’t mean you get more money because in a larger company you would have these as separate paid positions.

          LW doesn’t mention working excess hours, or 7 days a week; so I think it is fair to assume they have additional duties because they have the time and the closest skillset for these duties (which are fairly common in an Office Manager position).

          I am not going to argue that you may or may not be underpaid. I have no idea of the validity of that claim. I can say that you should not base your salary demands on thinking you are underpaid because you do multiple tasks in your position. You should base your expectations on what your area seems appropriate for an Office Manager to make with a reasonable amount of hours for these tasks.

          If you aren’t receiving a valid salary for the time you work, or dislike the job, then walk away… but assuming you should be paid more because the traditional Office Manager role would not include some of these tasks is misleading.

          When I was Office Manager I did HR, Customer Service, AP/AR , invoicing, advertising, media, and even cleaned the breakroom and bathrooms. Small company, and I had the time. I didn’t think I was underpaid because a janitor made x, a accountant would make y, and an HR generalist would have made z… so I should be duly compensated for all.

          1. Observer*

            Sorry, this is NOT a “traditional” office manager job. Because some of the things they are doing require some fairly specialized skills. People who cover such a wide span of jobs generally do get paid significantly more than people who only cover the core responsibilities of a “traditional” office manager.

            Note, also, that the OP explicitly says that their responsibilities have grown over time. It’s totally reasonable that as one’s work and responsibilities grow, salary will grow as well. The fact that the OP’s boss knows he’s going to have a hard time finding a replacement is very telling in this context.

            1. MK*

              The roles the OP mentions would require specialized skills if they were full-time positions for a large organisation; doing a minimised version for a tiny company, not so much.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                I think maybe we can trust that OP knows her job/company/compensation value better than we do though.

          2. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

            I have seen this same situation in multiple small (very small) companies, where the office manager is wearing many hats, including–yes–payroll, HR, etc. I don’t think this situation is so unusual for a small company, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that OP is over-worked.

            1. Phrunicus*

              Yep, the office manager at my company is also HR, payroll, insurance, and I dunno what else. They recently hired a new person to be the receptionist, and take on some of the more basic office manager duties (ordering supplies, presumably dealing with local needs i.e., pest control, lawn care, etc.) – at least in part because our original office manager has moved out of state (not for the first time) so is maintaining mainly the stuff she can do remotely.

      3. Thornus67*

        I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I worked at a small law firm where the senior associate gave three or four weeks notice. There was no ongoing litigation as the senior associate had waited to give notice after a brief was due for an arbitration he was handling (so therefore everything was done). The bosses called us in (on Easter Sunday…) just to tell us he was leaving. During the meeting, the older boss said that in our line of work, we really need to give six months notice, said that if he was ever asked for a reference he would say the associate was a good attorney but that he (the boss) thought the associate handled leaving the wrong way, and then asked us if any of us were also thinking of leaving. I was but didn’t say anything.

        When I finally quit about three years later, I gave only two weeks notice and did not care.

        1. EPLawyer*

          That is really really not normal in law. Maybe more than 2 weeks because you do need to wrap things up and do a handover. But, if there are no deadlines, and you hand over in a professional way, that is all you need to do.

          Older boss would have had that crappy mindset regardless of profession. It was all about HIM and controlling employees.

          1. Thornus67*

            There were many other… Irregularities about that office. As an example (and not even the most egregious one), despite practicing labor-side law, I recently learned they’ve been sued by one of the legal secretaries for failing to pay her overtime from 2014 through when she quit earlier this year.

        2. Dragoning*

          Six months! Most people couldn’t give that kind of notice for maternity leave, let alone holding a new job for that!

        3. pleaset*

          “When I finally quit about three years later, I gave only two weeks notice and did not care.”

      4. Mike C.*

        You can’t live your professional life around someone demanding insane things to retain a good reference.

    3. Anon for this one comment*

      I recently came across the letter where the person gave notice at her toxic job, and on her last day, they “made” her stay like an extra 6 hours to make edits or whatever and then the next day tried getting her to do more stuff cause they had no one else to do it. People, leave! They can’t hold you against your will.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      The only place I can think of where you can’t quit until you find someone to take your job at the same pay is sex slavery, at times. Note slavery.

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Even in the military, there are enlistment contracts. When your contract is up, you’re out unless you reenlist. For officers, you have a defined service obligation, and then you can resign at any time.. or if you’re eligible, you can retire.

          I’m a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army Reserve. I’m eligible to retire at any time between now and the time I turn 62 years old and they force me to retire. They literally cannot say no. There are regulations against it.

  7. Very Australian*

    #5 if you have a contract that should outline how much notice you need to give. I had to give a month’s notice at my previous job because it was standard there and written into my contract. I assume your boss hasn’t actually written two month’s notice in your contract but it would be useful to be able to say, “actually according to my contract I only have to give two weeks”.
    Bottom line is that your boss is being unreasonable and wants to make life difficult for you if you want to leave. But that is on him to find someone to hire, not you. Good luck with the search!

      1. GermanGirl*

        Yeah, I’m from a country were working without a contract is unheard of (I don’t know if it is actually illegal, but i think so), but since reading AAM I’ve learned that “go read your contract” is almost always the wrong answer in the US.

        That said, if you don’t have a contract (or something is not specified in your contract) then it defaults to whatever the law or common sense says – which in this case is giving 2 weeks notice.

        1. TechWorker*

          Even 2 weeks notice is not ‘standard’ in many places – I’m from a country where that seems incredibly short, a month is standard and longer isn’t uncommon ;) (I’m currently on 3 months).

          1. Myrin*

            I think GG was referring to “standard” in the respective country, in this case the US, since Germany has the one-to-three months notice you mention as its standard as well.

          2. Foreign Worker*

            In fact, my German written contract states **four** months of notice!
            The reasoning was that the learning curve for new colleagues is long and flat, this being a high technology company (with lots of inefficient processes and millions of manual tasks).

          3. Artemesia*

            In the US they can fire you the moment you give notice and not pay you for the notice period, thus giving more than that unless you are VERY sure of your boss and company is dangerous to your finances.

        2. Thornus67*

          Two weeks notice is the standard in the US, but it really is context dependent.

          For example, I’m an attorney. Given I’m bouncing around project assignment jobs right now, I can leave with basically zero notice (but would probably finish out the week). On the other hand, if I had something full time, how much notice I would give would be dependent mainly on upcoming deadlines, if I’m in any litigation and what stage it is, etc.

        3. Fergus*

          Yea all the offer letters I have ever seen and this is in US states “this is NOT a contract of employment” So my employer can say get out and since it is a two way street I can walk out at any moment, and there is nothing no one can do.

        4. BradC*

          Besides the general lack of (actual) employment contracts, most US states (like 49 out of 50, I think; Montana is weird), don’t have any state-level laws about requiring notice (from either side), so giving two weeks notice is more of a “common practice” or just a “courtesy” than anything else.

          In fact, in many industries (the IT industry, the finance industry), employers may not ALLOW you to complete your notice period (due to security concerns), and may terminate your access immediately upon receiving your notice. (This is not universal, but also not terribly uncommon.)

      2. Tangerine*

        Wow, the differences between the US and the rest of the world are wild. Where I live EVERYONE has a contract, even temps, even zero-hours contract folks, everyone. A month notice is the widely-accepted minimum for us, though I think mine might be longer (it may actually be 2 months), and it’s not uncommon for folks in my industry to give WAY more notice than that (we hire a lot of folks who require visas, a process that takes minimum 12 weeks, so start dates for everyone tend to be well in the future).

        1. Freelance Everything*

          Yeah, the UK requires working contracts. And the general rule of thumb for giving notice is one pay period; monthly pay = 1 month notice etc. Obviously contracts can get specific especially for a technical or management role where transition and training are more important.

          1. Bagpuss*

            Technically the UK doesn’t require contracts. It requires that employees are given the key terms of their employment in writing within the first (I think) 3 months employment. Most employers do this via a cotnract but it is not a requirement, so you can have a situation where you haven’t actuall singed anything.

        2. EPLawyer*

          I have a zero hour contract, I ain’t giving no month’s notice. You are not scheduling me to work even thought I have a “contract?” Yeah I am off to where I can work and get paid.

          Zero hour contracts amaze me. Hi, we hired you to work but aren’t going to schedule you. But don’t you dare go anywhere else. In the US, that’s called constructive termination and you are free to go get another job WITH NO NOTICE.

          1. Bagpuss*

            In the UK, it’s unlikely that an employer would get anywhere if they tried to argue that you couldn’t work elsewhere after giving notice. If it’s a real zero hours contract then you are free to turn down offered hours, so they would struggle to successfully argue that they had suffered any loss of you say you are not available to work.
            If they want to argue that the employee has to be available to work then they are likely to be arguing, in effect, that it is not a zero hours contract, which would then have implications for what they had to pay the employee, which would also likely be back dated.
            And that’s without even raising the issue of whether any contract like that would fall foul of the Unfair Contract Terms Act.
            I am not aware of any cases where it has been argued, possibly because it is in the employers interests that it isn’t

          2. MK*

            In my country at least, that’s not how it works. Zero hour contracts by definition don’t specify the duration of the relationship; they set the pay rate, the job duties, etc. The whole concept of notice is not applicable for these kind of workers.

          3. Michaela Westen*

            When I was temping in the 90’s I did some work for a local temp agency and when my assignment ended I asked for another and they didn’t give me one.
            So I went to a different agency and got work there.
            The first agency called me with an assignment and I said sorry, I’m working somewhere else.
            Then they *yelled* at me for going “behind their back” to work for another agency!
            No comprehension that I was trying to *make a living* and couldn’t sit around waiting for work!

    1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

      I have had several jobs in the US where the employee handbook required a month’s notice for salaried employees. Most people in salaried roles only gave two weeks’ notice, that I saw, though, and I am not sure if there were any consequences to them for leaving abruptly. Exceptions were people going back to school, retiring, moving far away, etc., which is a totally different situation than someone who’s coordinating a start date with a new job.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s often considered a kind of contract, but not a work contract the way Yay is describing. You’re entirely correct that they pretend there’s a unilaterally binding notice period by putting it in the handbook.

    2. Liet-Kinda*

      This is not helpful advice. Employment contracts are so rare in the US that if someone has one, they’re the exception that proves the rule.

    3. Robin*

      If you don’t have a contract, I’d check the policies too. When my coworker left her job to come work with me, they had a policy that if she didn’t give 4 weeks notice then she wouldn’t be eligible for rehire with them. And if you don’t give 2 weeks then usually they won’t pay out vacation.

  8. Scotty_Smalls*

    #4 sounds like the the boss just has a habit and OP can’t be assured that he washes his hand after this. I wonder if anyone else has noticed and if they can all band together to make a no high five policy?

    1. Zombeyonce*

      So many high-fives in this company sounds weird to me. Are they all super enthusiastic or is it a fraternity? Maybe I’m missing out, but I can’t recall a time I’ve ever high-fived a boss or coworkers.

      1. Diamond*

        I’m pretty sure my colleague went for a fist bump recently and I accidentally left him hanging… he had a really surprisingly enthusiastic reaction to something and I was so taken aback, I thought he was just… punching the air in excitement? I felt really bad when I thought about it afterwards and realised I had blanked him on a fist bump!

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I’m so confused by the letter (which is not OP’s fault, I just find the situation puzzling). Like, is he scratching on the outside of his pants? Inside? Why would anyone do that in public? Why is he so committed to high fives?

      3. Micheleny*

        My old boss/company owner doesn’t wash her hands after using the ladies room. I used to bring in snacks to share with every one; ususally people would dump some in a cup but not her she’d stick her hand in the bag. Once her hand was in a bag it was hers no way was I eating from a bag that she just had her hand in.

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        In some sales situations, they go for sports-style cheerleading to try and drum up their enthusiasm. It’s probably most common in places where staff are paid commission, and/or where the site hitting a sales goal will earn a reward for the group.

    2. Casper Lives*

      It’s a pretty gross habit. I’d have to break out hand sanitizer every time he succeeded in high-fiving me.

    3. On Fire*

      If this happened to me, I think my (unintentional!) reaction would be something like, “Dude. You just scratched your butt. I’m not high-fiving you.” I might even add, “Go wash your hands!”

      Thing is, that would be my knee-jerk reaction, but I can see it being effective. My guess is this is a habit and the boss doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Maybe the OP could let some of that surprise/disgust show?

    4. BluntBunny*

      This is disgusting in retail we’re supposed to wash our hands after handling money so definitely after scratching your bum. Also if it’s happening so often then it could be worms! Imagine if a customer saw, maybe that’s the way around this, could you anonymously write in to say you saw a member of staff scratching their bum, with a description resembling your manager.

      1. Michaela Westen*

        It could also be sensitivity to soap or laundry detergent, or dry skin. Or a symptom of digestive problems.

    5. Où est la bibliothèque?*

      I dunno, there are probably people in the world who would be doing this on purpose, as a gross power play or for…personal satisfaction.

  9. beth*

    #5: If your boss was that worried about replacing you, he always has the option of paying you well enough that you’d be happy to stay. Or (since he’s already talked about the possibility of you moving on, and is therefore clearly aware that it’s a possibility) he could start hiring people to handle some of the roles you list now, so a) you won’t be so overburdened and might decide to stay, and b) he can hire a replacement more easily if you do decide to leave.

    If he chooses not to do either of those things, that’s 100% on him. He has options. He’s choosing not to take them. If his business falls apart without you, that’s 100% on him (what does he think he would do if you got hit by a bus tomorrow?). It’s not your responsibility to fix that problem for him, nor is it within your power to make him make better decisions. You just focus on doing what makes sense for you.

    1. beth*

      Regarding your two final questions:

      1) You say “I’m giving my two weeks’ notice.” When he asks/demands that you stay longer, you tell him “I’m sorry, that won’t be possible. ___ will be my last day.” You keep repeating that it’s not possible every time he brings it up. It’ll be uncomfortable because it will probably make him mad, but you can do it!

      2) This is not your problem. If your boss asks you to hire your own replacement, you say “I’d be happy to work on that until (your last day), but since I will not be able to stay on after that, someone else will have to pick up at that point.” He might get mad, but he can’t make you stay until someone else gets hired, and he can’t make you magic up the perfect candidate out of thin air. (If you want, you could also say something like “I think it will be hard to fill this position as it currently stands. Dividing it into X, Y, and Z would make it easier to find qualified candidates.” But I’m really not convinced it’s worth your effort, considering how unreasonable your boss sounds. Why take on that argument in addition to everything else?)

      1. MLB*

        For someone like this boss regarding #1, after you tell him X will be your last day and he insists again that you give him more notice, I would say “I could leave right now if you’d prefer.” OP owes him nothing, and with his attitude I’d never use him as a reference, so fear of burning bridges would not even be a passing thought.

    2. Teacher Teacher*


      Honestly though OP, I feel like you gave him advance notice by having that conversation with him. You told him this isn’t working, instead of helping he said go look. Do you did and you’re going to find something. You should feel free and clear.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        This. I’d bet he was an asshole about it too in that condescending “fine go on try to find a better job and more pay…” kind of way. Because/as if he is certain this job is the best that OP can do.

  10. Reliant*

    OP#1. It sounds like your company has way more work than people to do it. This was my life as a project manager for five years where the company always placed other projects at a higher priority than the one I was leading. Be glad you’re an intern and this will be over soon, otherwise you’re in a very bad situation that will give you sleepless nights and cause you to eventually question your competence. I finally wised up and “retired“, although I’m actually semi retired because they asked me to come back on a part-time basis. I’m happy to work with them as long as I don’t have responsibility for getting things done without the staff to do it.

    1. The Intern*

      OP #1 here – I am so happy that when I leave, this won’t be over my head anymore! I’ll sleep easy knowing I did what I could for the project.

  11. Zombeyonce*

    #1: Is it normal to have an intern be in charge of an entire project? This seems like way more specialized work than I’ve ever seen interns do, and given that they’re usually still in school and unskilled in specialized work, it’s seems like an awfully big ask of what amounts to a temporary employee at the lowest level possible in a company.

    If they’re giving work like this to an intern, I imagine that everyone else there is seriously overworked. That would explain why people aren’t invested in this project and unresponsive and missing from meetings.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Or it could be that the project is more of a “nice to have” thing that no one really has the time for and which isn’t terribly important. Sometimes these are given to interns to keep them busy and in the hope that the thing will eventually get done once someone has started it.

      But it’s crappy to put an intern into a position of having to try to get input from staff without having a clear mandate to get it from them.

      1. Diamond*

        That’s what I was thinking, maybe this project actually isn’t very important in the scheme of things, which is why everyone is ignoring it. Makes a lot of sense, but it sucks for the intern who naturally wants to make a great impression but has no power to do stuff :(

        1. Dragoning*

          Yes, and internships ARE meant to be teaching/learning opportunities, after all. Got to learn project management somewhere.

          1. Zombeyonce*

            If I were an intern hoping to learn project management, I’d hope it would be by shadowing a project manager and maybe taking on a teeny tiny project of my own, not by being thrown into a project requiring work by an entire group of people that would continue on for months after I left. That seems way out of the scope of what being an intern should entail.

            1. Dragoning*

              Hah, maybe! My boss at my current company dumped a Project Manager role on my out of nowhere to create a new process to prevent recurrence by anyone of a mistake I made, so perhaps my experiences are a bit out of whack

              (not an intern, but am very entry level in a non-project-management role)

    2. Zona the Great*

      I did it in my internship. But I slso had 4 years of practical experience.

      I also had this exact thing happen to me. What I would recommend, OP, is to start focusing your energy on creating visual workflows and progress charts. This is what I ended up having to do and I understand that they are still using it today to map their work on the project.

    3. jasmine*

      I was also puzzled by this. And I understand why people may be reluctant to come to a meeting called by an intern. Where I work, most meetings are called by management-level employees. Asking six people to devote a half hour to a meeting has a significant aggregate cost to the company (three person-hours of time that probably costs much more than an intern’s time), so I’m not sure an intern should be making such a decision.

      Also, it’s possible that these meetings did not have a clear agenda or they were about something that could just as easily be handled through e-mail.

      1. Emilia Bedelia*

        I think your perspective might be a little bit different than most – where I work, it would not be strange at all for an intern/entry level person to call a meeting. Whether people come to it is another question entirely, but no one would think it strange that they’re setting up a meeting.

    4. Radical Edward*

      Apologies if this has been tackled already and I missed it: The intern might be working for a nonprofit or other cultural organisation that is perpetually understaffed. At least in the museum sector, it is common to give an intern a single project that’s been on everyone’s ‘wish list’ but might not be high-priority enough for other employees to spend already-nonexistent time on.

      If that’s the case, however, it’s still strange that no one is communicating with you clearly about this, OP. They might not realise how frustrating it is for you, or their might be other factors at play. Getting a clearer picture from the boss sounds necessary regardless. Good luck with your end of the project!

      1. TL -*

        I did my last internship in a museum and I got to design and drive my own project. It was excellent.

        I was a little more independent than most interns but it really worked out for me.

    5. Turtle Candle*

      My workplace (software) has “intern projects,” usually something that we think would be cool for us to have and interesting for them to work on but that isn’t a high business needs priority. They have a dedicated intern mentor per team, though, to provide help and guidance, and don’t need to rely on people who do have higher priority things, so they wouldn’t get roadblocks in this way.

    6. The Intern*

      OP#1 here! Thanks for the feedback everyone – to clarify, my internship is a management training program within a large organization and is for people who are a few years into their career. I am 5 years into my career.

      I think everyone is correct that my project isn’t a priority for others, especially the commenters mentioning that it was on the office’s wish list until I came along and could devote time to it. I was asked to come to launch this project and include others in it, but I think my misstep may have been at the beginning. I did have a meeting planned where I asked people what commitment level they could give me for this project, but 2 of the people didn’t show up. I asked again in a follow up email they didn’t read. Instead of taking that as my cue, I plowed on through working on the project and assumed they would tell me if they needed to back out.

      Another issue I have is that 1 person is shirking her other responsibilities, using this project as an excuse. She tells the supervisor she has so much work to do for this. Luckily, the supervisor is aware she’s lying. Its frustrating though that she wants the credit but not the work.

      In either case, I will talk to my boss about re-prioritizing, and begin sending less updates to the team members.

      1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

        One thing you might also talk to your boss about is the possibility of simply downsizing the project. Are there targets you can fully meet working solo and then pieces you can set in place that can (although maybe not will) be completed without you?

      2. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        This is pretty typical for a project, IME. I count it as a win if I can have 30-50% participation. The ones that fall out usually don’t impact things anyway.

        One thing that works in my company if participation starts to lag is to start documenting attendance at meetings. Depends on the project, but I’ll use this if I need participation from someone or if I suspect my project is circling the drain (this can be an organic death with shifting priorities and such). It’s a good way for me to demonstrate to my boss, that yes I’m still plugging away, but perhaps we should shelve the project due to competing priorities.

        I would just keep going as you are and not make any adjustments. For the people who are involved the weekly updates are going to be a good thing and it’s a great way to keep your boss informed of progress.

      3. Scaramouche Scaramouche*

        Ah, that’s helpful context! I made this comment way down below, but then found this in the thread. I’m in a similar situation as a program director at work because it’s a cross-programmatic project I’m running so I’m really not in charge of most of the people in the room. I’m still learning, but one piece of advice I picked up on was to give people explicit info on WHY the thing is important. I’ve literally written emails saying, “I’ve missed you in this meeting for the past 3 months. When you’re not there it means we can’t have a productive discussion about this because we’re missing your expertise, adnit’s keeping us from meeting this deliverable for our CEO.” And then nothing beats pleasant persistence – be friendly but clear, firm and direct when you’ve given someone a deadline and theyr’e not meeting it. There are some who will never be there for you, but you’ll discover who’s reliable, who would love to help but is stressed with other priorities, and who is ride or die. You can also ask people how they PREFER communication. Some people like reminders in meetings – others like the outlook reminder tools – others need an email 3 days before a deadline or prefer a phone call over written communication. But explaining what’s going on – the reasoning behind the meetings, the delegation, and asking rather than telling people their assignments since you’re an “intern” (even though you’re not a college student) – may make all the difference, and you may not even be off base with the frequency of the meetings or updates. It may just be in the delivery.

        These are the soft skills you need as a project manager. I say all this with humility – I am learning too! Are you getting the mentoring that this internship seems to have promised you or are you just left to figure it out as you go? Finally, I hear you being pretty hard and second guessy on yourself – cut yourself some slack, you’re doing this to learn! It’s an uphill battle and a humbling experience. You can do it!

      4. CM*

        Hi OP#1. I feel your pain! I am in charge of certain projects where people don’t respond to my emails or requests for input, yet complain that they’re not in the loop and decisions are being made without them. One suggestion is to create ways that people can check in that aren’t email, like an internal website where you put resources and status updates for your project. That allows people to check in on their own schedule, and creates some visibility so others like your supervisor can see what’s happening. I also think it’s a good idea to get some clarity on what you should expect from others and what you need to accept and work around, versus what you need to push back. For instance, people don’t show up to meetings or don’t follow through on their commitments — accept and work around, or push back? I don’t think that’s a question you can answer without guidance from your supervisor.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Project management can be a thankless role — all the responsibility, and none of the authority to issue consequences.
        On a practical side, things that would be helpful to provide your manager when asking about downsizing and/or re-prioritizing:
        –Summarize the project plan with a task breakdown and time-line for each
        –If there is a task dependency, include that. (ie. you can’t glaze teapots until the redesigned handles are released to production)
        –If you have any data on possible dollar value for completed tasks, include that. (The old handles cost $15/unit to produce, the new handles are projected to cost $5/unit to produce….and sales assures us customers will be paying the same end price.)
        –If you know that certain tasks require temporarily available resources, include that. (ie next month’s factory reorganization means that teapot glazers have all scheduled their vacations and will be out for 10 days starting in 3 weeks.)

        That gives your manager concrete information to use for hisorher decisions.

        Let’s dream of an ideal world where your manager calls TeapotHandler and tells them to respond to ManagementTrainee’s emails today because the delay releasing new teapot handles to production is costing the company $10/teapot produced. Because even if they respond with an unforseen issue, it’s more information and a step further in the process. (You can’t help address an issue someone doesn’t tell you about!)

      6. Name Required*

        Another way I’ve gotten around the lack of participation in meetings is to break it down to one-on-ones — a zap of your time, but if you’re coming to each person with a list of short questions specific to what you need from them, you might get some answers/progress, and it’s better than getting nowhere. I’ve waited outside offices and walked with folks to their cars in order to grab fifteen minutes of someone’s time when they won’t make themselves otherwise available for something I need for a project.

        Nobody wants to be annoying, but it sounds like it’s way too convenient for folks to ignore you if you’re just relying on email and group meetings, especially for a low-priority project that requires input from busy stakeholders. Alison’s advice is great, but don’t make it easy for people to ignore you.

    7. Smarty Boots*

      Even if this is the situation, OP’s co-workers are really rude and unprofessional to not even let OP know that they can’t make the meeting. I don’t care how overworked you are, take thirty seconds and politely decline the invite.

      1. Yay commenting on AAM!*

        Given that OP says it’s a management training program for people who are in their careers, I’m guessing that there’s resentment in the office over who participates in the program and why it exists, ex: “Why are these people special, they think they’re so important because they’re in the company’s buttkisser program, etc.”

        Especially if it’s a training program for underrepresented groups, there may be resentment that “Intern is getting special treatment because of her gender/ethnicity.”

      2. Someone Else*

        Even less, I’d say if it’s an appointment in Outlook. Click once to open the meeting. Click the decline button.

    8. Artemesia*

      I suspect if an intern is in charge of it that it is low priority for everyone else. Lots of meetings will simply not be considered acceptable. The internship supervisor should make that clear. Do all the other people have lots of meetings and deadlines on each other for their projects? Making a less important project very time consuming is not going to work. Early on you need to consult with whomever you report to about norms for managing the project instead of trying to commandeer the time of colleagues. If it IS important to get done and have them meeting your deadlines, then this person should make it clear to them. No one is going to prioritize meeting time and tasks for an intern when they are slammed with other work.

  12. Close Bracket*

    OP #2:

    At one of my past employers, it was standard not just to use sick days for vacation but to work on paid holidays so they could take a different day off. We had a fair number of non-citizens who would regularly work on things like the 4th of July and Thanksgiving. Ask your coworker to tell you what his manager said about it just in case you do have that flexibility.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      That’s really interesting; I would have loved some of that flexibility at different companies! Pretty much everywhere I’ve worked would fire you if you were caught using sick time as time off for vacation-type activities.

      1. Retail4Life*

        At companies where I’ve worked, we had a similar situation where we’d work holidays to get a different day off (or lots of overtime).

        Also everywhere I’ve worked it’s also been an unspoken rule (although also spoken by my managers) that you’d use sick time first because it expires and vacation time rolls over. This was at 2 large corporations. Now it could just have been my areas/bosses so it’s still smart to advise the coworker that the culture here doesn’t allow for that if it really doesn’t. His mom probably led him to believe because it’s common at a lot of places that it’s acceptable everywhere.

        1. TechWorker*

          To be honest most people (even people in HR) haven’t actually worked at that many different companies – so it might be easy to get a skewed view of what ‘most places’ do if the <5 companies you’ve worked for all do the same thing!

        2. Antilles*

          That’s interesting, because my experience has been mostly the opposite – sick time is specifically intended to be to used only when you’re dealing with health issues (illness, doctor’s visits, etc). And using it as pseudo-vacation days is a huge no-no – at least an immediate stern warning (and deduction from your vacation days) and possibly even fire-on-sight level if you went really over the top with it.
          Basically, the theory is this: The sick leave is NOT intended to be 5 free vacation days, it’s intended to encourage people to stay home when they’re sick rather than “well, I don’t want to burn a vacation day, so I’m going to power through the Spanish Flu and turn the office into a hazmat site”. Letting people use their sick leave first as pseudo-vacation defeats the whole purpose of providing sick leave rather than a single “Personal Time Off” bucket.

          1. Beagle Mama*

            OP #3 here! That’s been my experience as well Antilles. Especially given the amount of vacation days, to have 10 just for sick feels more like an extreme safety net rather than 2 bonus weeks.

            1. Artemesia*

              This. Part of more generous sick leave is built on the assumption that not everyone uses it all the time, but everyone has the cushion if it is needed. If everyone always uses every day then it is not unlikely that down the road it would be cut. If people didn’t abuse sick leave by using it as vacation then a company might have even more sick leave available for those who face high need. This of course is irrelevant when companies put it all in one bucket at ‘leave’ but where vacation and sick leave are separate it is not unreasonable to consider sick leave something not everyone will use every last second of every year.

          2. Kate R*

            This has been my experience too. My current job just has one PTO pot, but at my last job we had both sick and vacation. Not only did vacation roll over from year to year, but when you left the company, you got paid for your excess vacation leave. You did not get paid for left over sick leave, so using sick leave for vacation was considered stealing from the company. It was a big deal. We also weren’t allowed to swap holidays. I tried that with Veteran’s Day one year when it was on a Wednesday, and I was taking Friday off, but they said nope. Holidays were set in stone, and you had to take leave for anything else.

          3. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I worked at a company that gave us vacation time and sick time. I would regularly schedule “sick time” far in advance for holidays. I would never lie about the reason for using it, if I was using sick time to visit family I would say so. The form we had to fill out would ask us how many hours/days we were requesting off, the reason we wanted for it, and if we wanted to use vacation or sick time.

            In fact several times for extended weekends I would use sick time on the Friday vacation time on Monday and list the reason for the time off as visiting family, or visiting xwz city.

        3. MCL*

          I work at a state university, and our sick time rolls over and banks forever but vacation only rolls over once and personal days don’t roll. So most everyone uses personal and then sometimes vacation time before sick, even when sick could have been used. We have to check a box on our time sheet that says we used another category of leave when we could have used sick time, but that’s it. I haven’t taken sick time since I started in 2009.

          Everywhere does it differently though, and the person should follow the policy of his workplace, not what his mom who doesn’t work there says.

          1. CheeryO*

            This is more or less how it works at my state agency, too, except that there’s a cap on accumulated sick leave that people inevitably bump up against after 10ish years. Then you do get people taking several days of “sick time” for staycations, usually at the end of the fiscal year. I’d never give advice based on my experience in state government, though, since we do many things in ways that are very much not applicable to the private sector.

          2. Michelle*

            At my company, our sick time can accrue indefinitely, but sick and personal are “use it or lose it”. Unfortunately, we only get 3 sick days a year, so if you get the flu, you are going to use all those days, plus some vacation.

            Full time employees get 3 sick days per year and 2 personal days per year. For vacation, it’s 2 weeks to start, 3 weeks after 5 years and 4 weeks after 10 (and that maxes you out).

          3. doreen*

            I work for a state agency, and the policy is not only that sick time can only be used for medical reasons, but policy also prohibits using personal or vacation time if we are sick unless we have exhausted our sick leave. Sounds strange , but it’s because our sick leave rolls up to 200 days worth and there are financial benefits to having as much sick leave as possible at retirement. Nobody’s investigating so taking an unscheduled day of vacation leave for an upset stomach or a planned week to recover from a medical procedure wouldn’t be a problem – but you won’t be able to take an unscheduled couple of weeks off due to illness and use vacation time. ( You could try by not telling anyone of the illness, but then you run into the attendance policy)

          4. miss_chevious*

            Yes, at my place of employment, sick leave rolls over, but vacation doesn’t at all, the idea being, I think, that we want people to use sick days for when they are sick, but people shouldn’t lose those days if they have a year of good health (and also they don’t want people getting “sick” at the end of the fiscal year). As a policy, this means people are unlikely to use sick days as vacation, as vacation does NOT roll over.

      2. Clisby Williams*

        Where I’ve worked, you couldn’t even use sick leave to take care of a family member, much less for vacation. Naturally, people sometimes lied to stay home with a sick child or other family member, but it was clear the policy didn’t allow this.

        I have known people whose PTO was to get X # of paid days off, to cover vacation and sick time. The policy there was that people could use the days for whatever they wanted, and once they had used it up, there wasn’t any more. If they happened to be pretty healthy, they got extra vacation time. If they happened to have a lot of health problems, they’d be using their vacation to cover that.

        1. Antilles*

          If they happened to be pretty healthy, they got extra vacation time. If they happened to have a lot of health problems, they’d be using their vacation to cover that.
          The problem (as I mentioned above) is that this sort of policy subtly encourages people to try to avoid taking sick leave because it screws up their future ability to have vacation; if you ask someone to choose between “you can either come in sick and infect the rest of the office OR you can take sick leave and not be able to see your family on the non-holiday Christmas Eve”…well…
          The combined system also means that people with persistent health issues basically never get to take an actual vacation because they end up burning all their sick leave to deal with their health issues.

    2. Prius the Smug*

      Some people here work on holidays too and take a comp day later. I don’t think they do it on purpose, though, just that we need the coverage and someone’s gotta do it.
      Everywhere I’ve worked, vacation time does not roll over, but sick time does. People save up sick time so if they are out someday for a longer period, they don’t have to use their short term disability insurance. (That doesn’t kick in for a month, so at least 20 days of sick time is needed if you want to get paid continuously, if you’re out for 4+ weeks.) vacation is use it or lose it. Advice in my workplace would be exactly the opposite of OP’s mother’s. It would also be frowned upon to use sick time for vacation, possibly a firing offense but definitely reputation ruining.

      1. Beagle Mama*

        OP#3 – interesting that sick rolls over but PTO doesn’t. Here up to 40 hours carries over from year to year, but the rest doesn’t roll over.

        Also, not my mom who was asking – another colleague in the office, although I’m old enough to be HIS mother, hence my asking about if I was out of step.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          At least in my experience, the reason sick leave rolls over and vacation doesn’t is that you get paid out for unused vacation days but not for sick days, so it’s not a risk to the balance sheet.

      2. a good mouse*

        As a non-Christian person, I would much rather have a quiet and productive work day on Christmas, then take a day off later when things are actually open. I used to work Christmas all the time, but now I’m non-exempt so I have to take it off since I’d need to be paid time and a half and nobody would authorize that just for personal preference.

      3. Clisby Williams*

        I used to work a lot of holidays by choice, so I could get a comp day to use when I wanted it. The only holidays I’ve ever cared about here in the US are Thanksgiving and Christmas – I’m not religious, I just like those holidays with family. New Year’s, Labor Day, July 4, Memorial Day, MLK birthday, Veterans Day, etc. – couldn’t care less. I’d just as soon work those days and use the comp days for a long weekend I did want.

    3. m*

      where i work now it’s encouraged to use sick/planned sick 1st (because it doesn’t roll over & because it doesn’t pay out if you leave) along side any accrued overtime followed by vacation.

  13. Mike*

    Regarding #1: We send weekly updates to both the team as well as our manager. We’ve identified a few important sections: Status condition (Green / Yellow / Red) as well as a risks section. When I’m running a project I get to decide the status and risks and my job is to raise any and all flags that haven’t been resolved. My boss gets to decide what to do about it. So, when other team members are not showing up to meetings or doing other required work that is a flag that gets added and I keep moving forward.

    1. Lionheart*

      I really like this idea. Of course it would be best if you can deal with the problem yourself, but it’s not always possible (like in the OP’s case), so at least this means that you can move and not waste energy trying to control things that are out of your sphere of influence. It also helps the boss to see patterns that might be difficult to spot otherwise – eg. Fergus only follows through on work if the project manager is in his D&D group.

    2. The Intern*

      OP #1 here! Color-coding is a great idea, especially since I will be gone soon and they won’t be able to follow-up with me. This way my team members and boss will know what has been completed, what is at risk, and what they can continue moving forward with.

      1. RandomusernamebecauseIwasboredwiththelastone*

        My company lives and dies by 4 blockers… it’s a ppt slide that is updated weekly/monthly with high level project information.

        Imagine a powerpoint slide with for 4 boxes:
        Upper Left: Project Summary and KPIs -Summary doesn’t get updated, but KPIs do
        Upper Right: Accomplishments during period (The past month/week/quarter)
        Bottom Left: Key upcoming Milestones – table with only 4-5 lines with estimated completion date and milestone description
        Bottom Right: Key Issues and Risks -I use this to alert to things going on… such as lack of participation

        Over all project status:Red, Yellow, Green (colored box) and Trend: R,Y,G Arrow pointing up, down, or sideways

  14. beth*

    #1: Is it possible that your project genuinely is low-priority for your coworkers? (Meaning, it’s not just that they’re busy, but that it doesn’t matter much if it’s completed or not.)

    At my last company, we had summer interns who were responsible for a project. But the projects they worked on were never intended for actual release (it was a software company). Sometimes they were “this is on our ‘maybe someday’ list, let’s have them play with it and see what happens” things; sometimes they were straight-up training exercises that were never intended for actual use no matter how well they went. The goal was primarily giving the interns an opportunity to practice the kinds of tasks involved in the job, not making their work profitable.

    I don’t know your company, of course, but if they also run internships on this model, your coworkers could just be prioritizing ‘real’ work over your project. I kind of hope this is the case, because I feel like giving an intern responsibility for an actual, intended-for-real-use project is setting them up for failure–you don’t have the authority or the relationships to get people to commit to the project, after all.

    1. Greg NY*

      That’s terrible. As an intern, I have always expected to work on a project that is “real work” and carries real meaning to the organization (and ideally, would leave an impact even after I’ve left). Doing work just for practice defeats a lot of the purpose of an internship, especially when collaboration (a key part of working in an office rather than remotely) isn’t being done on your project.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        The central purpose of an internship is to receive experiential training. beth quotes one of the primary factors that DOL looks at when determining whether an internship can be unpaid when she says, “The goal was primarily giving the interns an opportunity to practice the kinds of tasks involved in the job, not making their work profitable.”

        It may be meaningful to the employer to provide exercises or tasks to interns with low stakes for the employer if there are failures. The intern’s project doesn’t have to be what holds real meaning—the internship program is usually the “real meaning” provider. And in most cases it’s unwise to task people with no experience in an area, and who are still completing their education (usually), with significant projects.

      2. SusanIvanova*

        It can be both – it can be a low-stakes project with nothing depending on it if it fails, and at the same time something really nice to have if it succeeds.

        1. Turtle Candle*

          This is how it is at my workplace (also software). Nice-to-haves that may or may not actually make it into the product depending on a variety of factors.

      3. SheLooksFamiliar*

        It’s not mandatory for an intern’s project to have ‘real meaning’ in the same way an employee’s project has. Smart? Nice? Yes, but it’s not a given. The primary purpose of an internship is to provide an experience the intern’s university cannot provide – actual exposure to an actual workplace.

        Some organizations hire interns from specialized curriculums for specific projects requiring specific training and/or experience. Others have a more broad need and offer a broad experience; in fact, exposure to the workplace and its norms IS the purpose of the internship.

      4. One of the Sarahs*

        In some places I’ve worked, interns can’t be given work that is essential, otherwise it’s seen as trying to scam un/low paid interns, who are supposed to be in training roles, when the organisation(s) really should be paying full time members of staff. But that’s been in public sector workplaces with strong unions.

        It makes it harder to give internships, on one hand, but it does make sense that it’s not exploiting them. After all, interns aren’t usually given full benefits, like holiday and sick pay, because they’re short term placements, and they’re designed for people who need the experience, rather than a cheap/unpaid way to get additional labour.

      5. beth*

        I don’t think of it that way at all. On the contrary, internships SHOULD be primarily about training the intern, not about benefitting the company. This is especially true for unpaid internships, but even paid ones tend to pay less than an entry-level position doing the same kind of work would–which I think is only justifiable if the intern’s education is a major enough focus to make it of comparable value to them. I think that prioritizing the outcome of the project over the intern’s training is kind of cheating the intern.

      6. beth*

        To add to my reply: the ‘real meaning’ the company got out of the arrangement was that they had this pool of future applicants who they knew well and who knew that the company would treat them decently. It was good for the company because it meant fewer risks in hiring and a shorter onboarding/training period for the people who had been interns, since they were already familiar with the company’s processes, standards, and systems. The project itself doesn’t have to be put into use to make the internship valuable to all sides.

    2. The Intern*

      OP #1 here – The project is definitely intended for use! This office does these types of projects regularly throughout the year. This particular project will be launched in summer 2019 (after I’m long gone). However, my personal goal is as you described – to get project management experience. And I think you’re right that because I am an intern and don’t have clout, it is an uphill battle to get others to care as much as I do.

      1. Smarty Boots*

        As I noted above, whether your project is real or not, your co-workers still need to demonstrate courtesy and professionalism by declining your invitations so that you know they will not be there and you can plan accordingly.

        Your supervisor has already told them to work with you and they aren’t doing so, so that’s a problem (your supervisor’s problem, not yours). If they think they are too overworked to meet with you or read your emails or even just to say, “Hey, I’m sorry I can’t make that meeting”, then they need to take it up with the boss, not just blow you off. My point being, their behavior is not acceptable, and I hope you are learning from their negative example :)

  15. AcademiaNut*

    For #5 – In general, it can be almost impossible to replace the type of position you’re currently holding. You were hired for one thing (office manager). Then, as the company grew and more work was needed, you gradually added other duties. But your boss will want to hire someone who can come in and right out of the gate do everything you are *currently* doing. Even with two months notice, he’s not likely to get many good applications for an position advertised as office manager/HR person/intern manager/accounts manager/podcast producer even at a reasonable pay level, and is certainly not going to manager to hire someone and train them up to speed on duties you acquired over several years.

    In practice, if he wants to replace you with minimal disruption, he’s probably going to have to hire two people (office/intern manager plus HR/accounts person), and he may not be able to cram podcast production in there as well.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Depends on the workload associated with each piece of the job. The OP says it’s a very small office, so it’s unlikely that they need a dedicated HR person. It’s definitely possible in many small offices for the office manager to also do the accounts receivable and manage volunteers, interns, and HR. The OP knows the situation best, of course, but those roles aren’t inherently too much for one person in a very small organization.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        You’re right about the workload – I was thinking in terms of wanting to hire someone who could do all those things right from the beginning. The other option is to hire someone who has some of the skills and experience, and expect that it’s going to take months to get them up to speed on everything.

        1. Dear Fabby*

          I don’t know about that. I do a lot of hiring, and many candidates are multi-talented. I really don’t think it would be difficult to hire someone with experience in all of the areas the OP mentioned.

          1. Dear Fabby*

            It’s very common, in the small organizations I’ve worked in, for an administrative person to have to handle many different types of tasks. We typically receive at least 100 applications per job opening and a significant number of candidates can handle everything from customer service to accounts payable to marketing tasks (including producing podcasts).

            1. Anon, a moose!*

              Agreed, though I also think Allison is dead right that size is a factor. Supporting a 20 person office, I had downtime sometimes. When we were at 30, everything was on fire all the time no matter how often I skipped lunch. The duties didn’t change much but the scope sure did!

        2. bonkerballs*

          Pretty much every admin job I’ve ever had expected anyone in the position to be experience in HR, accounts payable/receivable, development, customer service, database management, volunteer management, etc. I don’t think this is unusual at all.

      2. LQ*

        A lot of very small places have a company come in and do some pieces of that as well before I started at previous job they had an outside person doing the website, I had website experience but not HR experience, so we farmed out the HR to a company and brought website in house. I think that’s pretty common to shift around. I know someone who started in a role at a very small company that is a do everything place like this and she really likes gardening (and had done it at a previous job) so the landscaping came in house (she actually wanted this as a part of the job) and they farmed out something else that the previous person had been doing instead.

  16. Mark Roth*

    Question: My sick days roll over, so I don’t have this issue. But if sick days are only supposed to be used when you’re sick and don’t roll over, what is the incentive for people to not get the “flu” right before their days expire? Or, in what I would probably do, have a random “stomach thing” flair up every now and then once I’m confident I won’t actually be down for a week?

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Many of us work in setups where we have hardly any limits on the amount of sick days per year (but need a doctor’s note for the n’th consecutive day, etc.). Yet we still manage to not abuse this system by taking sick days when we feel like it, and instead just take sick days when we’re actually sick of have medical appointments. (Time off to care for a sick family member is treated differently here.)

      So I guess the incentive is to not ruin a system described by the OP as fairly generous. As well as, you know, getting your work done.

      1. Mike C.*

        “Yet we manage not to use them”?

        Do you manage not to spend your entire paycheck and return the remainder as well? There’s an odd moralism surrounding this idea that you shouldn’t use your benefits.

        1. Snorlax*

          You put into quotes something that Just Employed Here didn’t say. JEH said they manage not to abuse the system by taking sick days when not sick.

            1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              I don’t think that’s an accurate paraphrase, though.

              (If you think it is, it’s because you’re operating from the assumption that sick time is the exact equivalent of vacation time and can/should be used by employees however they see fit. That’s not the assumption that employers who separate sick and vacation time make.)

              Just Employed said that people manage to not abuse sick days (by pretending to be sick), which is different from using your benefits as intended.

            2. Just Employed Here*

              Then I don’t think you should have used quotation marks.

              What is so odd about using sick days for things related to being sick? I don’t see any kind of moralism in that.

              And sick days aren’t a benefit provided by your employer here, they are required by law and (mostly) paid for by the government through reimbursements to the employer. So it’s the tax payer who is paying for it. The employer of course still has to make sure the work gets done somehow.

              If everyone always used up everything that’s even theoretically available to them, no on would ever turn up at all those hip companies offering unlimited time off.

            3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

              Wait, what? How does the government pay for sick days? Are there tax breaks for companies that offer sick time? (I’m aware of, mostly newish, mandates to offer sick and safe time, but I’m not aware of tax incentives.)

        2. Colette*

          Do you also view not taking a penny from a “take a penny leave a penny” jar when you don’t need one as leaving benefits on the table?

          Sick time is there to use when you’re sick. If you’re not sick, you already have the benefit of, you know, not being sick.

          1. Mike C.*

            I understand that wages are stagnant, but no one pays me in literal pennies to work, so I don’t really understand your comparison.

            1. Colette*

              I think where we fundamentally disagree is that I don’t see sick time as a benefit that I need to take maximum advantage of – I see it as a safety net that is there when I need it, but that I don’t need to (and shouldn’t) use if I don’t need it.

              My car has airbags, but I will be grateful if I never use them, even though I bought them with my car.

              1. LQ*

                I like this analogy. I’m never going to take a job that doesn’t have a decent sick plan of some sort, but if I never had to use it I’d be pleased as punch, but when I need it I absolutely want it to be there for me, no questions, just there ready when I need it.

                I see it as fairly different from Vacation (assuming they are different buckets), where I would be loathed to leave any on the table (again, it happened once, never again).

                1. LQ*

                  (A more direct analogy would be health insurance I suppose, I’m not going out to chop off a limb to ensure that I really get the bang from my buck from my very nice health insurance policy. It’s there when I need it and when I have a no health concerns year I don’t feel like I’ve wasted anything.)

                2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                  Right. The car manufacturer didn’t get one over on me because I never had cause to use the airbags. They made the benefit available if it were needed. It wasn’t needed, so I didn’t use it. I still got the full value of what I had been promised (a car, with safety features to protect me had I needed them).

              2. Washi*

                I agree. I think sometimes people have an unnecessarily restrictive idea of what “needing” a sick day looks like (I think people should be encouraged to stay home if they are contagious, not just deathly ill, and I fully support the idea of mental health days.)

                But sick days are not meant for pre-planned vacation and I don’t think it’s ok to use them that way because calling out sick is usually last minute and has a different impact on your work than vacation. I would be really annoyed to find out my coworker called out sick but was actually on a plane to his mom’s house or whatever.

              3. Mike C.*

                But your airbags don’t expire on an arbitrary date. If we’re talking about systems were days roll over and are paid out if the employee leaves then fine, but if we’re not then it shouldn’t come as a surprise if people want to use them.

        3. Falling Diphthong*

          This reads like you expect my son, for example, to ask me to call into school for him because he is nowhere NEAR the number of sick days he can take before attendance starts to affect his grades.

          1. Mike C.*

            Uh, does your son also receive a paycheck to attend school? 401(k) matching and maybe a profit sharing bonus at the end of the year?


            What is it with these analogies? I’m clearly talking about work. As in “I show up and do things and you compensate me for my time and expertise”. I’m not talking about attending school, and I’m not talking about going into a gas station and buying a soda.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              1) You quoted something that wasn’t said.
              2) Sick leave can be treated as “take time off when you are too sick to come to work.” It doesn’t need to be cast as a right to a certain number of non-working days a year–it’s more logical and responsive the first way.

              1. Clisby Williams*

                That’s exactly it.

                At some companies, “sick leave” means paid leave you can take when you are sick. Not when your family member is sick. Not when your pet is sick. Not when you just want some more vacation.

                At other companies, there’s a pot of PTO, with no distinction between vacation and sick leave. Take whatever you want for whatever reason you want, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. If you have a lot of personal/family sickness to take care of, you might end up with no vacation.

            2. Alldogsarepuppies*

              Analogies that prove your point aren’t the only ones allowed Mike. Not lying about being sick when you aren’t isn’t a personal failing. But let’s talk about work exactly to prove your point.

              I’m not going to get pregnant just so I can take maternity leave instead of leaving it on the table.

              1. Mike C.*

                This is silly as well. Going to work and going to school are fundamentally different things.

                And getting pregnant to take maternity leave doesn’t fit either. Getting pregnant and leaving maternity leave on the table is a much closer analogy.

                1. Alldogsarepuppies*

                  Mike, things don’t need to be the exact same thing to allow for analogies and metaphoric language. Please take a step back to see what others are saying. Sometimes there a things in the world that could be a benefit, but not everyone uses them to their full advantage. And that’s okay. Some people aren’t comfortable lying about being sick when they aren’t, and that’s okay.

                  but if you are going to insist on being a pendant. Being sick and being on vacation are fundamentally different things.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Getting pregnant and leaving maternity leave on the table is a much closer analogy.

                  No, it’s not. The post is about taking sick leave when you’re not sick. How is that a good analogy to actually needing the leave and not taking it?

                3. Colette*

                  A closer analogy would be taking maternity leave without being pregnant – since you’re suggesting that people should use all of their sick days even if they’re not sick.

            3. epi*

              I get what you are saying. You’re being paid the same whether you work those 10 days or not. Some people might look at that as working for free. (I do, though not to the point that I will try to use absolutely every last day.)

              To answer the original question though, I think the incentive not to use every day is risk aversion. The calendar year ends right in the middle of cold and flu season, so you never really know you won’t need the time. It’s also when many people would like to have more time off, and challenging not to make the timing look suspicious. You could do it one year, but definitely not every year. And in some companies, the end of the calendar year is quite busy so taking unneeded time would just be hurting yourself.

    2. Rez123*

      I think the incentive is just personal integrity and not abusing the system? I’m not suggesting that people who do this lack integrity but I guess it also reflects on how fair the company is since employees are willing to take advantage.

      1. TL -*

        And also having work that needs to be done and a work environment you don’t hate, plus wanting to have your coworkers think well of you.

    3. Anonomo*

      The incentive should be being able to have extra days for appointments so you can get a physical or if your cat is sick or you just feel like playing hooky one friday a year (this may not be as serious of a mental health need as someone with other disorders, but they are mental health days none the less.) Abusing sick time is what leads to those environments where they ask for a doctors note every time you call in too, which should be a huge incentive in itself

      1. Rez123*

        Exactly! I wouldn’t want to work in an office where I would always have to have proof for everything. That creates really bad environment but I can also understand the employer if the sick days have been abused previously. I know some offices where they always need a note. Getting a doctors appointment on the same day is pretty difficult so then these people need go to ER or A&E to get a note for a cold. Not a great use of resources.

    4. TechWorker*

      I also think that by not abusing the system you get more goodwill when you *are* sick. If you use precisely the ‘right’ number of sick days each year then eventually that might look suspicious…

    5. AcademiaNut*

      If you’ve got a reasonable amount of leave, it comes down to personal integrity, and not wanting to ruin it for everyone.

      I mean, I get three weeks of sick leave, plus five personal days. I’m reasonably healthy and don’t have kids, and I can work from home if I’m a bit under the weather, or take an unofficial comp day if I’ve been working hard for a deadline. In 12 years at this employer, I’ve used up my entire sick leave once, the year I did three sets of IVF treatments in eight months (note – don’t do this!). But it’s really nice to know that I have that cushion if I get seriously ill, or develop a chronic health problem.

      If people were in the habit of ‘getting the flu’ for two weeks in late December, the powers that be would notice.

      1. BRR*

        I’m in a similar situation. I get 12 sick days a year that roll over, can work from home if slightly under the weather, and have a flexible schedule so I can squeeze in an appointment. It’s a cushion and I may end up leaving my job without using a large chunk of it. I think when you have separate pools of time, not using it up is just the reality of the situation. You may night be sick that often or need that many appointments.

    6. Asenath*

      Taking sick leave as vacation in a place where that is not the intended use of sick leave is dishonest. It can also cause problems with work not getting done, or being left for co-workers to do. It can also cause serious problems for co-workers who do have illnesses serious enough to need all their sick leave because eventually the employers will cut back on the allowed sick leave if they think it is being abused. That’s happening with some employers who have a “Three days in a row with no note; more than 3 days if you have a doctor’s note, up to a maximum of X days, after which the worker applies for short or long term disability or medical leave” policy and who noticed that too many employees were taking three no-note days multiple times, generally immediately before or after a weekend or public holiday. They’re making noises about requiring a note for ANY sick leave, which will be terrible for those who simply need two or three days off for a nasty cold, and don’t need or want to spend any of that time in a doctor’s office getting a note. That change might not go anywhere – the local doctors are as unenthusiastic as most workers are at the idea of having their waiting rooms filled up with patients who have a common cold but need a work note – but the fact it’s been suggested shows that the subject of mis-use of sick time is of importance to employers.

      1. Tysons in NE*

        While I agree that sick leave should be used for being sick. One place I worked told me during orientation that if I needed time off for a doctor’s appointment, I would have to use my vacation time. That didn’t stick me as fair since I only got 10 days vacation (the exact amount of sick time I don’t remember somewhere between 5-10 days) but they didn’t want you to use your sick time for appointments.

        1. Asenath*

          That’s a strange rule. I think everywhere I worked medical appointments counted as sick leave, unless the employer was able to be flexible enough to let you come in late or leave a bit early, and kind of unofficially make up the time. The lady at one old workplace who took sick leave to get her hair done was generally considered to be taking advantage of the system (they were pretty rigid about when you could take vacation time, hence her “medical” haircuts), but I don’t think anyone reported it, and the hair appointments continued while I was there. Not all the time, of course, just at busy times of the year when it was hard to get an appointment after working hours or on weekends. Or so she said.

          1. Washi*

            I guess this is one area where I do see my sick leave as a benefit to maximize – I almost always take sick leave for appointments even though I’m allowed to flex my hours to make up the time. I have more sick time than I can use and not always a ton of work to do (the work really ebbs and flows) so I’d much rather take 3 hours of sick leave then spend an extra 3 hours “working.”

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          We have the same rule. It went into effect a few years ago. I used to take sick time for long appointments and planned surgeries, and all of a sudden we all got a link to the new handbook that said to only get sick days for unplanned illnesses. I had inpatient surgery early this year and had to take two days PTO for that. One for the surgery, and one for the recovery/followup appointment. I’ve also had doctor’s appointments that were several hours long, and had to stay late at work to make up the time within the week they were taken. Then I lose sick days almost every year, because I’m almost never unexpectedly ill and they do not roll over. And it’s not like we have weeks upon weeks of sick time, it is only three days a year. I really do not care for that new policy. Now that I think of it, it went into effect at about the same time that the company increased their PTO from 5 days the first year, 10 days the next three years, 15 after that, to 15 right from the start. (Our guess was a lot of senior-level new hires had been saying something like “oh hell no” and declining the job offers upon hearing that they would get five days of PTO their first year.)

    7. Super dee duper anon*

      Despite the representation you’re getting from the commenters… This was so common that it is precisely why a new HR person two jobs ago fought ferociously to have at least some sick days rollover.

      In my experience – you either have a direct boss who understands the situation and tacitly agrees to “look the other way” as long as the work gets done or you’re aware that this is something your boss will care about and you resign yourself to losing a portion of your comp every year.

      That all said – it’s also been my experience that offices that are more flexible in general (offer flexibity for appt or allow work from home at least occasionally) are far less likely to run into this than ones that are more strict.

    8. Bagpuss*

      I think the main reason is because it’s dishonest. If all you leave is in one bucket, then fine, how much of it you use because you are sick, and how much because you are taking time off, is up to you.

      If not, then the sick leave is a safety net, if you don’t need to use it , great, you get the benefit of being healthy.

      Where I work, it would absolutely be seen as an issue of integrity and could get you sacked for gross misconduct.

    9. pleaset*

      “what is the incentive for people to not get the “flu” right before their days expire?”

      I don’t think there is any incentive other than a sense of integrity.

      1. skunklet*

        I have sick/vacation/optional – ALL expire 31 Dec 2018, start anew 2019. I get 5 sick, 11 vacation, and 2 optional this year. I’m using all of it, b/c it’s a benefit (I don’t know why they don’t just go to PTO anyways). My boss has already approved my prescheduled sick days.

        So whether anyone thinks it’s ok or not, it’s really up to YOUR company.

      2. Seacalliope*

        Honestly, it’s probably more that people don’t take them because it would be stressful upon return to the company because the workload would pile up. If I had extra sick days, wanted to take some time off, and would face no consequences for using that leave — integrity wouldn’t mean much. Making sick days use them or lose them is almost a dictionary definition of “perverse incentive.”

    10. Old Biddy*

      A flexible company culture and having enough vacation days helps. I was at a company that gave us 10 sick days/year which didn’t roll over, but they were flexible on schedules, comp time and the types of things that could be used as a sick day, e.g. sick kid, medical appointment, family emergency, etc. In general, people didn’t abuse the system. I suspect capping vacation days helped too, so there was less incentive to save vacation days and use sick days. I used up all my sick days early the year I had chickenpox, but no one gave me a hard time for taking a sick day later in the year, since in general I rarely got sick.

    11. Clisby Williams*

      “what is the incentive for people to not get the “flu” right before their days expire? ”

      Maybe that they’re honest.

    12. Kaybee*

      Maybe think of it this way:

      Included in my benefits package is a week of paid bereavement leave, as well as a week of paid natural disaster leave that doesn’t need approval in case I have to evacuate or respond in some other way to a natural disaster. (With approval, the paid natural disaster leave can be extended to a month, but you hope to whatever you believe in that you never qualify for that.) These benefits do not roll over into the next year.

      Technically this is part of my compensation. Combined, they’re worth two weeks of pay – that’s not small potatoes for me. But they’re really things that I’m grateful for if I really need them, and especially grateful for if I don’t. When December rolls around, I’m not hoping for the death of a loved one or hoping the wind blows those embers in my direction so I can fully utilize my compensation package.

      Sick leave can seem less catastrophic (although I think a lot of people who have dealt with health issues or those of a loved one are grateful to not need to use it), but it’s the same concept. Hopefully your organization trusts you to decide when you need it (I’m a big believer in mental health days, being able to take other family members to appointments, being able to pick up sick kids from daycare/school etc.), and, given a reasonable organization with reasonable policies, if you don’t need to use all of it… that’s a good thing.

  17. Peter*

    OP1 sounds like he’s been put in an awkward position of (partly) managing people more senior than him. An intern running a project team?? I don’t think, I’m the end, you can expect people to get results from others unless you promote them above those others. I remember an incompetent former boss putting me in that exact position with a more senior colleague and he just couldn’t see it. When I explained that I had no authority to make a more senior colleague do the things he wanted him to, in the hope that he would exercise his authority, he would just say “Sort it!”.

    I am not saying the OP’s colleagues are wrong, by the way. Pointless meetings are the bane of a lot of jobs, and it can be genuinely demotivating to have to stay working late and miss family and friends because you all lost half the morning listening to two ramblers talk at one another – people who could clearly have had the same conversation without wasting your time.

    But even if they are wrong to be indifferent to the intern’s project, it’s their prerogative to manage their own time (subject to more senior colleagues’ priorities) and ridiculous to expect the intern to change that (without promoting the intern above them).

    1. The Intern*

      OP #1 here! So I am in an management training program. I’m slightly more senior than my peers in terms of time spent in the greater organization, but they’ve been in this particular office longer than me.

      In terms of meetings, I am really trying to stay on target, I hate pointless meetings more than anyone. I send the agenda days in advance. During meetings, when people start getting off topic, or it’s clear they’re focused on other things, I stick to the agenda and remind them to stay on task so we can finish the meeting asap.

      I think I include too much into my agendas. I’m realizing I’ve been so concerned with finishing a lot of this project before my internship with this office ends, but I’m now going to shift my focus on having a quality product within the aspects of the project I can control by myself (as well as re-prioritizing with my boss).

      1. Neptune*

        Just a thought, but perhaps the fact that you are more senior than the average intern is affecting your expectations? It sounds as though you’re treating these like the usual meetings you would typically have for a normal project, but your colleagues may still be thinking of this as “oh, it’s that intern project thing, I’ll try to find time after I’ve finished my actual work”. That’s really frustrating and not a great way to behave on their part, but it may be that you need to adjust your expectations of how people will respond to you as an intern, vs how you’re used to them responding to you as junior colleagues.

        1. pleaset*

          ““oh, it’s that intern project thing, I’ll try to find time after I’ve finished my actual work”.”

          Even if that’s the case, the appropriate thing to do is to decline the meetings and/or tell the intern you don’t have time. Except in emergencies or for extremely senior staffers, invitation for action require some response, even if the response is “no” or “I don’t have time for this, please don’t invite me moving forward.”

  18. askalibrarian*

    #1) Make a standard option IE “we need to determine the floral arrangements by X date. Please let me know by (2-4 weeks by final deadline) if you require extras otherwise, I will order standard arrangement.” Follow up a week before the padded deadline. Some won’t read the first message, or the second message and will accept whatever because they have more pressing projects or are fine with standard. Others will make last minute changes/requests: accommodate within reason. If down the road there’s an issue “i wanted a bonsai tree flown in from japan and was told no” you can document your attempts at organized info gathering, responsible follow-ups, and willingness to accept alternatives. you show that the actions you took were clearly outlined, and that the deadlines were ignored. It works.

    1. The Intern*

      OP #1 here! I think that is a great idea – I will give them the option to respond, but if they don’t I will continue moving forward. Because this is a term internship, I will be gone “down the line” when the project comes to fruition. But I will continue documenting what I’ve done so they can check back in on my notes after I’m gone and make changes when the time comes.

  19. Leela*

    #5 it’s definitely not your responsibility to shield your boss from the natural consequences of overloading and underpaying an employee. And I doubt he ever will find someone as “specialized” as you because likely a lot of your specialization comes from knowing your company/workflows specifically which no newcomer will, even if they have a broad and deep skill set.

    If you’re not being compensated extra for doing the jobs of extra people, AND he made rude comments when you brought it up, get out without any thought to him at all. Give the two weeks for your benefit if possible but it sounds like he’s going to be a jerk about it no matter what you do or how much notice you give.

    My former job laid off my entire team, expecting that the remaining team would pick up all the slack. One of their most skilled remaining employees who has most of the technical knowledge required to make our product be a product left for a better opportunity (which was very easy to find) within a month or so. I seriously doubt they’ll be in business much longer as it’s a small place with unimpressive pay and they rely on a “we’re a COOL startup!” in a city full of cool startups with better pay and stability. The managers were upset at him leaving but seriously, you can’t put retention on the employees you’re trying to retain, you need to utilize a retention strategy that will actually retain them. Not the employee’s responsibility to retain themselves for you at all

    1. WFH Lurker*

      “You can’t put retention on the employees you’re trying to retain…” THIS. So much THIS.

    2. MLB*

      I’m not sure finding someone “specialized” to replace LW is the problem. In small offices, it’s not unheard of for the office manager to take on other duties. The issue here is that boss misrepresented the work load, won’t provide compensation for the added work and expects LW to give him an absurd amount of notice when she leaves. She needs to find another job, provide 2 weeks notice and if he pushes, offer to leave immediately if he prefers.

    3. Tysons in NE*

      Sometimes you do have to wonder what the dickens was management thinking.
      I worked in a startup at one point. They laid off the entire marketing team, put a biologist in charge of US Marketing and then was genuinely surprised that there was next to no marketing being done.

      1. Oranges*

        I’m so glad that I don’t have to interact with marketing. Just let me have my little world over here where I write code and you go out and sell it. Marketing always gives me the heebie jeebies. (I say working at a place that’s a marketing/software company).

  20. Rez123*

    #3 I’ve seen this discussed several times online and IRL. I personally believe that sick days are for when you are sick (and you should use them for that and your employer should encourage it) and if you are lucky enough not to be sick then good for you. But there are a lot of people who believe it to be a benefit that you can use however. I’ve worked with several people who count their sick days and wonder when to use them.

    I always wonder if they claim to be sick and then just have their holiday in mexico?

    1. Cat wrangler*

      #3 I work in the UK and have seen people request to be paid for their unused sick pay when they left a job (they didn’t get it as it was in theory “unlimited” and that’s not how it works). They seemed to think that they had 10 days a year but if unused for sick, it was payable as a kind of bonus.

      1. Rez123*

        I’m scandinavian so we also have “unlimited” sick days. But we have 20 sick days we can use without doctors note. People somehow believe they are entitled for these 20 days even if they are not sick

        1. Asenath*

          I’ve run into the same attitude in Canada (people feeling entitled to use sick days even if they aren’t sick). I don’t agree with it, and always carefully kept my sick days for when I was sick. I think I was always nervous that I’d run out of sick days if I got really sick even though I was mostly healthy, and most of the time was employed in places that had benefits for people with serious health problems who needed more time off – eg long or short term medical leave.

    2. WellRed*

      This is how I feel. I am blessed with reasonably good health. I took a sick day a couple weeks ago because I had a nasty stomach bug. Frankly, I would have preferred work!

    3. MLB*

      This is why I prefer jobs that provide PTO and lump it all together. I rarely get sick, and even if I do I have the ability to WFH, so I can use most of it for vacation. A few jobs ago, they split our sick time and vacation. I was out of vacation time at the end of the year, and wanted to take a day off to go Christmas shopping. I went to my boss and asked if that was ok. Because I never abused the policy, he was cool with it. But I would never have called out instead of asking him. I know some people use sick time for vacation and have no problem doing so, but the people who abuse that policy are the ones that cause absurd rules to be made.

      1. InternWrangler*

        I work in human services, and our agency continues to offer separate vacation and sick leave. This is for two reasons. One is that it is an equity issue. Those who work directly with children and/or families are exposed to more illnesses; they would use more of their PTO for sick leave and get less benefit from planned time off. They are also not allowed to come to work when they are contagious. And those are the people who are probably working the lower paying jobs in the organization. They are not able to work from home because their work involves working directly with participants.
        Secondly, having separate vacation leave can help prevent secondary trauma. It encourages people to take time away from work to recharge, not just to recover from illness.
        I want to encourage people to not abuse sick leave to preserve the separate leave pools.

    1. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      Many years ago when I was at university I had a part-time job in one of those shops that sells tacky souvenirs and sweatshirts emblazoned with NAME UNIVERSITY across the front. I had a very flaky colleague (a fellow student) who would often call in sick with ‘food poisoning’ (hangover), ‘flu’ (hangover) or ‘back pain’ (hangover). One day, he called in telling our boss that he wouldn’t be in that weekend or any of his lunchtime covers the next week as his grandma had died. I felt so sorry for him, and left a ‘with sympathy’ card in his postbox in halls that evening. The next day, Saturday night, I see him partying. He’s lied about having a dead grandma to get out of work. I said nothing, and avoided him for several months because I was just so outraged that anyone would do that.

    2. LurkieLoo*

      Has totally happened to me! It only took twice before I decided to always be 100% completely honest about excuses.

      Once, I skipped class and told the professor the timing belt in my car broke . . . and it broke the same day. The other time, I called out for a “stomach bug” . . . and spent the evening throwing up.

      The most annoying part is that I’m usually super reliable, so it seems like if I want to play hooky once in a while, I should be able to. I also called out of high school to go skiing and got the most horrible sunburn. Blisters and my eyes swelled shut. Although, that time my dad actually did the calling and he didn’t even lie so I’m not sure why I needed punishment from the universe. ;)

  21. Chriama*

    OP 5 – your boss kind of sounds like he’s deliberately trying to make it difficult for you to leave. 2 months’ notice is unreasonable unless you’re getting some huge consideration. But if this is a small business and he’s the owner, he’s thinking about what’s convenient for him rather than what’s in line with business norms.

    Quite frankly, with all your experience, I bet you could get paid more for doing just one of the multiple jobs you’re doing now. I would recommend you don’t look for a job like the one you have, unless you want to work for another understaffed small business. Which roles do you like the best? Zoom in on those.

    1. MK*

      I am sure the OP had plenty of marketable skills and a lot of leeway about what kind of jobs to apply to, but it’s unlikely that, e.g. she can easily be hired for a senior well-paying HR position on the strength of having handled HR for a company with a handful of employees.

  22. Diamond*

    #2 with the hair, I would perhaps put it up for things like interviews and important meetings with the boss (i.e. times when you really don’t want people to be distracted by your hair), but definitely go for the plait for regular work days. Yes, everyone will comment on it at first, but then they’ll settle down and you can get on with things (and you’ll be comfy).

  23. Anonomo*

    OP5, this is that Toxic Brain that comes from working in a toxic environment for so long. You arnt responsible for this mess, your boss is. He is the one who has spent several years not adding people into the company. He is the one that has decided not to adequately compensate you for your above and beyond work. Even now, he has been put on notice and has yet to do anything different. Now, that being said, Boss sounds disturbingly like one I had, except mine just didnt pay us and my notice was a “have my check tomorrow or it will be my last day”. I would caution you to not let Boss pull you back in after you leave by being very clear how much contact you want after your notice ends. OldBoss was persistent to say the least, he called, texted, emailed, for weeks after begging for a reconsideration. When I asked him to stop and blocked him, he sought out my husband on social media and begin trying to convince Hubby that he should make me come back and work for OldBoss again. And even now, several years after the fact, he still emails me asking why I left and guilt tripping me about once a year. This is just worst case scenario, i think, and you would know if your boss is this level of boundary stomper but honestly, this is really all that Toxic Job can do to you after your gone. Dont let this hold you back, because you are going to be ok! Give the 2 weeks and breathe the sigh of relief that comes with escaping Toxic Job.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      In your case, I’d be tempted to set an auto-reply for OldBoss that’s simply a picture of a loon.
      But yes, OP5, do not let this get to you. It seems like your boss is trying to bully you into staying. Start job searching and give him to weeks. Also don’t offer to be an independent consultant for a while to get your replacement (if he finds one) up to speed because you very likely will be taken advantage of. Once you get out, it’s no longer your problem.

    2. Yet even another Alison*

      OP5 – I 10000+ Anonomo on the concept of Toxic Brain. Alison has referenced this subject – you may wish to take some time and search this site and read more about what Alison writes on this. It is real and it can erode your confidence and your belief in yourself quickly. Take a step back, list all of your strengths down on a piece of paper – all of your accomplishments – with one certainly being flexible and adaptable as well as competent enough to assume six different types of job responsiblities yourself- not many folks can do that successfully. Believe in yourself and that you DESERVE to be respected in your job. Your current boss is an ass$ and does not respect you. I am pulling for you.

  24. Dorothy*

    #1 -you’re an intern. It’s probably a project that was on a wish/to do someday list. they’re probably happy to have you start it but not really that concerned with its progress. As others have mentioned, start emailing with stuff in green, yellow, red for priority, create practices that can me easily used when you’re gone. Make the most out of it with what YOU need/want to learn, they’re likely not going to change.
    #2 – yes, it will be noticeable and it’s unique so it will be a “thing.” It’s your call if you care.
    #5 – my boss probably wants a cabin at Lake Arrowhead paid in full but he’s not going to get it

    1. The Intern*

      OP #1 here! Color-coding is a great idea as well, I’ll start doing that. All the commenters are right – I’m going to take what I can get from this experience and move on when it’s over. The opportunity to get hands on project management experience is invaluable, so I will focus on that and less on getting the project “done”.

  25. cncx*

    Re OP4 i have no good advice, just sympathy. I have a friend in my freelance life whose stim is rubbing/adjusting his junk. I’ve gotten very creative about not shaking hands with him. I know AAM says no armchair diagnosing, but me reframing in my mind that this is his weird habit helps me deal with the ick factor more.

    1. WellRed*

      I Went to school with someone like this back in like, jr high and high school. Great guy, fairly popular but this is what I remember most about him.

  26. JulieCanCan*

    My goodness- today’s 5 Questions are simply beyond words…..
    OP1, I’m not sure of the industry or area your internship is in, but it sounds like you have a large deal of responsibility and autonomy for an intern. That’s terrific (and possibly a bit overwhelming to you?) but if you are in this conundrum, your supervisor or the person assigning you the project didn’t seem to cover a lot of what you need to know. I’m sure they trust you (I can’t imagine an intern who is assigned a project that involves other employees wouldn’t be trusted). Are you sure all of the employees you need to be involved are aware of your role in the project? Is everyone fully informed about the fact that you’re organizing this project and that they’re supposed to be working with you? It seems like a communication breakdown occurred somewhere along the line and once everyone is filled in on their places, you should be more successful in wrangling them and getting them on board.

    OP2 – I don’t want to sound in any way disrespectful, but I think hair to the floor would absolutely be what you’re known for anywhere you work. And maybe that’s what you want. There are just so many things about it that are unusual and perhaps unhygienic (like does it physically touch the floor if you’re wearing it down (not in an up-do or braid) and sit down ? Or can it touch the ground or the subway steps if you walk down stairs and have your hair loose/not up? I know this will sound bad, but unless you came across as a total rockstar during an interview and I couldn’t live would you at my company, I’d be concerned that my associates wouldn’t be able to get past it. Yes, many are immature and infantile, but that’s how it is and as much as I want to, I can’t change people’s personalities or maturity levels. I’m curious – if you happen to read this: if you were interviewing and not having success, would you consider cutting your hair to a more “typical” shoulder length or just a few inches beyond your shoulders? If it seemed obvious that your hair was holding you back? Is it a deal breaker, literally, to you?

    OP3, that’s shady and as HR I couldn’t stand it when I knew employees were doing this but there was no way to prove it and they were just saving vacation days because they roll over and their sick days don’t. Tell your coworker that his mom is giving him poor advice that will get him in trouble. And he should speak with HR at YOUR company, if he wants to be transparent about it and honestly wants to know what’s right.

    OP4 – that’s so gross. The idea that he picks/scratches his ass in front of you is bad enough – but to then try to high-five you??!! What??!! He probably has some weird creepy fetish going on. Don’t ever high-five him. He’s probably caught on to you and will scratch behind closed doors then go find you and make up a high-five able reason to get you to touch hands. Ew!

    OP5, your boss sounds like a PITA and you give 2 weeks and don’t think twice about it. People like that take advantage and when they’re suddenly faced with their shady ways catching up with them, they will say and do whatever possible to keep their shady game going. I can’t stand people like that- they’re some of the worst. Don’t let him pressure or bully you into doing anything that doesn’t sound legitimate, and he can hire 3 new people to replace you if necessary. He’s taken advantage of you for too long.

    Good luck to all of you!

    1. Cousin Itt*

      Even if OP2 does go for the chop, I don’t think they necessarily need to go straight to shoulder length, even waist or butt length hair would be considered a bit more ‘normal’ whilst still long. I have waist length hair and shoulder length to me is *short*, so I imagine it seems like a pixie cut to someone with floor length hair!

    2. Wild Bluebell*

      “if you were interviewing and not having success, would you consider cutting your hair to a more “typical” shoulder length or just a few inches beyond your shoulders?”

      Shoulder length?? Wow! That’s too much. Cutting them to waist-length will make them look “normal”.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Shoulder length?? Wow! That’s too much. Cutting them to waist-length will make them look “normal”.

        No, it won’t. Waist-length hair is considered super long. Not “normal.”

        (I’m not saying the OP should cut her hair, just that this solution is misguided.)

        1. Ealasaid*

          Yeah, I used to have waist-length hair and got comments on it pretty frequently.

          Now I keep it short and dye it bright green, so I still get comments, but they’re very different!

          OP2: there are worse things than being remembered for an unusual trait. I love my green hair, and don’t mind that for most folks it’s my defining characteristic. My goal is to be awesome enough in other ways to be “that person with the green hair who wrote great documentation” or similar. :)

        2. Alianora*

          Mine’s about waist-length and I don’t get a lot of comments about the length. Most people seem to see it as on the long side of normal (for a young woman). Of course it’s possible that people do think it’s super long and just don’t say anything, but I never have experiences like what other people in this thread are talking about, with strangers grabbing my hair on the street or telling me I have to donate it.

          Once it gets past your butt then I start wondering if there’s a religious reason for it, so I guess that’s my personal benchmark for “super long.”

    3. The Intern*

      OP#1 here – I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned there was a communication breakdown. I was reflecting on this in one of the earlier comments – I asked the team members what commitment they could give to the project, no one responded, and I did not take that as my cue to slow down and reassess. I kept on plowing through the project and including them.

      Everyone on the team is aware that I’m leading this and that I will leave at a certain point. My boss is happy with me individually and the project in general. I think I’ve been concerned with trying to get as much of this project done as possible before I leave to make a good impression. Both my internship and this project (if it comes to fruition) are highly visible in my organization, so I’ve been really worried about making a good impression. Reading the comments, I realize I can’t expect my team members to have the same goal that I do, especially since their deadline is different than mine.

    4. Corrvin*

      I’d actually consider employees who couldn’t deal with someone else’s long hair to be more of a problem than the person with the long hair. Do they act weird around people who have other differences in appearance too?

      (Telling people to literally change their bodies to be acceptable is kinda creepy. Asking them to put the hair up is fine, especially for safety reasons.)

      1. Catherine Tilney*

        I agree. You wouldn’t hire someone because you think your team may be squeamish about long hair? That’s seems rather arbitrary. Someone might not like it, but someone else may be impressed and most people probably won’t care. And suggesting the writer cut it up to her shoulders is really extreme. Lots of women wear longer styles.

        1. Legal Beagle*

          Yeah…obviously hair is not a protected category, but saying you wouldn’t hire someone based on their appearance is inching very close to discrimination territory. Plus, it’s just a bad hiring practice for the company.

        2. Loose Seal*

          Plus, it’d be weird to worry about the tip of her braid being on the floor and somehow that’s worse than the bottoms of everyone’s shoes walking across the floor every day. I’m assuming that the OP, when she wears her hair in a braid, doesn’t put the braid on a conference table or the tables for eating in the cafeteria anymore than someone puts their feet there.

          Are you worried about the cuffs of people’s trousers being germy? I know I’m a lot less concerned about germs than other people I’ve observed but it seems like germophobia should be managed by the one who is squicked out by the germs instead of the OP, assuming she keeps her hair as clean and tidy as most people do.

      2. Environmental Compliance*


        It’s hair. On someone’s head. Where it should be. Not causing any sort of harm or drama. It’s literally just longer than average. If your employees are adults, working in an adult workplace…the length of hair should not cause anything more than a “huh, that’s neat/interesting” followed by moving on and getting their work done.

    5. Just Employed Here*

      I wouldn’t want to work somewhere where the length of my hair was considered during the hiring process.

    6. Beagle Mama*

      OP# 3 here – my initial instinct was that it felt shady. Hopefully his manager set him straight.

    7. Long-Haired LW (OP#2)*

      LW2 here, I do understand that a lot of questions run through people’s minds when they see hair at my length, and not all of those questions are as polite as the ones you list here (let’s just say that if I had a dollar for every time someone asked my what I do with while I’m in the bathroom I wouldn’t have to worry about work reputations because I’d be living in the Bahamas on my private island). It’s never front and center during an interview, though– I always have it in a conservative bun for interviews and the first few weeks of a job, so I would hope that it wouldn’t come up as part of a hiring decision. I’ve included a link in my name to an example of what it would look like from the back in an updo, though you should imagine it without the big clip in there because I use non-visible pins instead.

      As for your other questions, I’m quite careful about not letting it touch the floor! It’s almost always braided, which shortens it several inches, and I’m quite practiced at holding it in my hand or keeping it out of the way when it’s on the verge of touching something unpleasant.

      1. Amber Rose*

        Your hair is lovely. People will always feel entitled to ask weird and inappropriate questions, but they do that for a range of things, like pregnancy or injuries or whatever. That doesn’t equal judgement, it’s just people being nosy. Will people notice your hair? Yes, probably, because it’s fascinating. Does it impact your reputation? Probably not. The few people who might think less of you would probably have found some other reason to think less of you.

        And I’m saying this as someone who just got shit for having hair that’s too long, and it’s only just barely past my shoulders. :/

        1. Courageous cat*

          This is all well and good and a kind comment and all, but not really grounded in reality. Yes, it will probably impact her reputation to some degree. It’s pretty far outside the norm, so that’s why. It’s not a great thing, but it’s not abnormal or uncommon that it would happen, even for the best of us.

  27. Ryan*

    LW 5. I agree with Allison, just because your boss would like something doesn’t mean you owe it to him. After all, if he was that salty about you asking for a raise given the value you bring to the company, imagine how crappy he’s going to be during your notice period.

  28. drpuma*

    OP1, can you break out peoples’ contributions to the project, so that they only need to be involved for shorter periods of time? For example, rather than having 6 coworkers involved for all 3 months, 2 contribute to your Phase 1, 2 contribute to your Phase 2, and 2 contribute to your Phase 3?

    There is the potential for you to learn some wonderful lessons about how to build relationships. Throughout your career, you’ll need to get contributions and help from people over whom you have no direct authority. Email and meeting invites sound like more “passive” methods of communication. If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to get comfortable poking your head in peoples’ offices when they’re free with one specific question, and asking how you can help them, to build rapport. Make sure you can articulate how working on the project will help every single one of your fellow team members; it may not be the same for everyone. And if they’re not benefitting at all, that’s another conversation to have with your boss.

    1. The Intern*

      OP #1 here – I think that is a great idea. Our team hasn’t yet talked about who has what role, or timelines for contributing. We’ve all been contributing all of the time. I thought about that in the beginning, and decided against it because I wasn’t sure what direction to take this project. Looking back, I definitely should have spoken with the team about assigning roles. That’s the good thing about this internship – I’m learning what works and what doesn’t while I personally am not responsible for the project’s success or failure since I’m leaving.

  29. AdAgencyChick*

    OP5, your boss can ASK for two months’ notice. What he can have is two weeks. Don’t let him pressure you into promising anything in writing!

  30. Delta Delta*

    #5 – if you don’t already have this, it may be a good idea to create training materials/outlines/checklists on how to do certain tasks. That would do a couple things.

    1. It would have instructions all in one place for the next person. Or even for you, and might help you streamline things if you’ve got steps clearly set out in writing.

    2. If it fills a binder, that could show the boss that, in fact, there are a LOT of things under this particular job, which might be better broken into 2 jobs.

    3. When Unreasonable Boss bellows that you didn’t give 2 months’ notice (for real? Almost nobody does this), you can point out that you’ve got job tasks and steps broken down so someone else can do them. Even him. Because I suspect when you ultimately give your notice, he’ll huff and puff and start to try to hire someone, but won’t be able to because it takes a while. Someone is going to have to order the pens in the meantime, so with a checklist he can be assured he’ll know who to call for more pens.

    4. When you go to interview for a new job, you can take a redacted copy of the checklists, or list of lists to show what you currently do and how you manage tasks.

  31. (Different) Rebecca, PhD*

    OP2, I have hair that’s past my butt, and incredibly voluminous. I don’t just have long hair, I have A MANE. And it’s noticed, but usually not more than once. The first time, it’s a remarked upon thing, and the second time it’s just ‘Rebecca with her hair down.’ As yours is so much longer (and I’m jealous!!) it may be more of a thing, but it’s not unprofessional, it’s just your hair. *fistbump of long haired solidarity*

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s like pink hair, or another style where you could reliably say “Wakeenita–you know, the one with the X hair” and there would only be one person in a group who fit that description. It’s an unusual style choice that will stand out, but needn’t be more than the way to quickly indicate which one you mean when people can’t see their brilliant memos.

      1. Dragoning*

        Or someone over six foot, too–I think this goes in the basket of “wow you’re tall!” “Wow, your hair!”

        1. pleaset*

          Reminds me of when I found out a classmate of mine was the son of a very famous person. I said “I heard you’re the son of XXXYYYY” and he said “I heard that too.”

  32. The Intern*

    OP# 1 here – Thank you all for your helpful feedback! I already have so many things I can use this week to help me re-focus and re-prioritize. I want to clarify more information about the project. I am in a management training program, and it’s typical for interns in this program to lead mid-to high level priority projects. The project is a month-long campaign with events and a marketing strategy that will be launched next year. The office is HR-adjacent, so the campaign is internal to our larger organization, not public facing. This office launches campaigns of this nature several times per year, but my particular team members have done either zero or one campaign outside of this one so far.

    I hope this clarification helps! Please keep sending feedback!

    1. a1*

      For the people that don’t show up to meetings – are they accepting the meeting request and then no-showing without a quick email or message to you that they can’t make it, or are they not even accepting the meeting request – meaning no answer (no decline, no accept, etc)? (If it’s the latter, I wouldn’t even expect them at the meeting, fyi).

    2. Mommy MD*

      I would just finish up my time there as productively as I could and glean what I could from the experience. It’s doubtful they are going to make this a priority for them.

  33. Jennifer Juniper*

    Darn it, Alison! I was waiting for it but you didn’t say it!

    OK, OP5, I’ll say it.

    Also, your manager is an ass.

  34. Labradoodle Daddy*

    Work…blog….resist….temptation…. to ask what hair products OP2 uses…. resist!!!

    OP2- as you’ve been growing your hair out for a long time, it’s safe to assume that you’re very adept in pulling it back/keeping it out of the way when you need to. As long as you do that at work when it’s appropriate, you should be ok!

  35. away from the elevator please*

    I’m very envious of all you with sick leave – all of our PTO is in one bucket, and it stinks.

    We get 15 days per year, and as someone with kids (need to take off sometimes when they are off) and a family across the country, all my vacation days are always totally planned for. When I got the flu over the summer, I had to take 2 days off without pay. And now that it is “sick season” everyone is always coming into the office sick, because they don’t want to use their limited PTO. Which gets everyone else sick.

    That is part of why I am looking for a new job….

    1. Beagle Mama*

      OP#3 – at most companies I’ve worked with 15 days PTO off the bat, it’s typically the same – it’s sick, vacation, etc. Our parent company is in France, which is why I suspect the leave time is so generous. Good luck in your job search! This website is an amazing resource! I wish I had found it when I had first started my search

    2. Natalie*

      Although it sounds like your actual problem is that 15 days just isn’t enough. If those days were split into 1 week sick and 2 weeks vacation (something I’ve seen a lot at small businesses) you’d still be using all of them and taking unpaid time off for your own illnesses.

  36. Gazebo Slayer*

    OP3: sometimes people run out of sick days and end up burning vacation instead, but I’ve never heard of an employer where the other way around is accepted (unless you count the places with only one bucket of total PTO). It’s weird that your coworker’s mom, who probably has years of working experience considering that she has a grown son, thinks that’s normal.

    OP5: Be glad you’re leaving this jerk in the lurch. When jerk bosses end up with unfilled positions, they’re getting what they deserve. If they didn’t, there would generally be no consequences to being an ass to the people you manage — and for everyone’s else’s sake there SHOULD be.

    He is not entitled to special treatment just because he wants it. His having given you a paycheck for work you have done does not obligate you to him for all time, some people’s notions about the super speshulness of Job Creators notwithstanding.

  37. MCL*

    I work at a state university, and our sick time rolls over and banks forever but vacation only rolls over once and personal days don’t roll. So most everyone uses personal and then sometimes vacation time before sick, even when sick could have been used. We have to check a box on our time sheet that says we used another category of leave when we could have used sick time, but that’s it. I haven’t taken sick time since I started in 2009.

    Everywhere does it differently though, and the person should follow the policy of his workplace, not what his mom who doesn’t work there says.

    1. WellRed*

      Yes, if HR mom was talking general office terms based on her experience (and not perusing her son’s employee handbook) the best advice to give newbie coworker would be, “don’t listen to your mom. Ask your boss.”

    2. Linzava*

      Hi MCL,

      Of the sick, personal and vacation time, which of these could be paid out? If vacation can be paid out at the end of the year, I’d probably save that and get a payout, but that’s just me.

  38. Anon, a moose!*

    #1, I was assigned to lead a large project as a low level employee (not an intern but definitely with 0 management responsibility or experience) and it was Rough. In the end I did a lot of stuff by myself and needed a bit of a rescue from my boss when I got to a point that absolutely required other people to take on some portions.

    At least I learned a bit about project management. What worked for us: email updates instead of meetings with what had been accomplished, what was next, and who had to do something immediately. Assigning tasks (with my manager’s support) rather than asking for volunteers. Later on, honestly, if people tried to get out of something no one else could do, I would just schedule a quick meeting with my manager to either get an alternate process hammered out or have them back me up on the Must tasks. I didn’t feel great about it, I wanted to be able to do it all on my own, but the important thing at the end of the day was getting the work done. My manager couldn’t watch the project day to day, so I ended up thinking of myself more as their lieutenant than solely responsible for getting it done, if that makes sense.

    I hope some of this helps!

    1. Mary*

      >> I didn’t feel great about it, I wanted to be able to do it all on my own, but the important thing at the end of the day was getting the work done

      That absolutely sounds like a key lesson to learn! When I did project management training years ago, one of the main takeaways the trainer emphasised is that “project management” frequently means having to direct / influence people who aren’t your direct reports and who may even be senior to you. Having an even more senior person who is project sponsor and knowing when to go back to them and ask for support in getting things done is critical. Doing that well is an art-form and a really important skillset, not a failure.

      1. Anon, a moose!*

        Thanks! At the time it felt a bit like a last ditch effort to salvage what was a pretty crucial project, and i’m sure my manager would have been happier if they could have stayed out of it, only because they were so busy, but i’m glad to hear it sounds reasonable to others.

    2. LKW*

      The approach is solid.
      What is done. What is not done and for those next steps, whose input is needed and when.
      List the impact of not getting it done on time – “Project will be delayed and new process won’t be released which will cost x hours of time”

      As a project manager you’re balancing the big three, resource time, project time and budget. If you don’t have enough of one of those, it strains the impact on the other two. If you need to do the project longer, your cost is increased and the benefit is realized later than hoped. That has a cost impact. You don’t need to know the actual impact, but you can highlight the impact would be to time, budget, resources (where resources are more hours put to a task than originally planned).

    3. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve never done project management, but I’ve participated in projects at this job and watched how they do it. Yes to email updates rather than meetings, when possible (obviously you may need a meeting here and there). We typically have some sort of matrix that gets updated and sent out, which lists everything that has to be done. Make sure that it’s very clear as to what must be done and when, and who’s responsible, and that the matrix is actually easy to read (one would think this would be a given, but it’s not). And yes, try to assign tasks rather than asking for volunteers. Asking people to volunteer usually means that the super stars hog everything, and the ones who don’t want to be involved in the project just sit back and let them do everything.

  39. Hiring Mgr*

    Why put a limit on sick days at all? If you’re sick, you’re sick and you shouldn’t come to work. Not sure if it’s because I work in tech, but i haven’t had anyone monitoring my sick days in 20+ years and I can’t imagine going back to that

    1. ManderGimlet*

      That is very much a tech thing. I find the division of vacation/holiday/sick time described in the letter to be confusing and ultimately pointless if all the days can be used the same but that may be a state labor law thing. While many jobs may not nickle and dime you about sick days, you are very likely to have a limit on the number of paid days off you have in a year regardless of the reason they are taken. My job, for example, lumps all time in a big pot so if I’m sick, the office is closed for a holiday, or I schedule time off, it all comes out of the same pool (not counting extended illness) which is accrued. My husband works in tech and has unlimited paid time off regardless of reason he takes it. There’s no bitterness, nooooooooo…

  40. Anon for this one comment*

    I am always fascinated by the notion of work “projects.” As a writer, I think in terms of “story” or “the December issue.”

    1. Dragoning*

      At least where I work in my department, projects are basically, “We need new computers–evaluate when we need them by, what kind we need, and organize the purchase and software” or “Our file room is a mess–figure out what we need to keep, what we can get rid off, what we can foist off on another department, decide how to reorganize it, and then do it.”

    2. Amber Rose*

      I worked construction adjacent in a previous job handling land divisions. A project for me would be from the initial planning stages of a new building or neighborhood up until the houses were ready to be built. Could be a month, could be decades, depending on how many phases they needed. The one I started just before I left was expected to take about 15 years. Of course, I’d also finished quite a few two or three month long ones.

      I love project work. There’s something deeply satisfying about starting some huge undertaking and then watching it all come together.

  41. Swip*

    Writer #5’s situation is literally the epitome of

    Boss: *underpays and overworks OP* Yes I’m okay with you finding another job.
    OP: *tries to find another job*
    Boss: *surprised Pikachu face*

  42. 123456789101112 do do do*

    “there’s also an argument for not wanting people at work to be thinking about your hair at all.”
    I got my hair cut really really short last night and I’m sitting here at work trying not to be anxious about reactions.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I chopped my hair off to get a short pixie cut, and after the “Whoa, didn’t recognize you at first” the first day or so, nobody really gave it a second thought. Some of the other women gave compliments, but it wasn’t a drastic reaction (like I was worried it was going to be). You’ll be fine!!

    2. Dragoning*

      I got a side shave, and then wait for people’s comments–fortunately only a handful of people said anything.

    3. Amber Rose*

      I once dyed my hair bright purple and only one coworker noticed, and even then he kind of looked at me like, “there’s something different about you, but what could it be” for a bit before mentioning it.

      Workplaces vary, but I think a lot of people don’t care much about hair one way or another.

    4. Kaz*

      If it makes you feel better, any time I see someone with a new style my internal reference of what they look like instantly updates to what they look like now, and I only have a vague idea that they used to look different, even if this is a very major change. So I don’t react to people’s changes because I am not all that sure that they actually did change it!

    5. KR*

      I’m sure you look wonderful! It took me a solid two or three weeks to get used to myself with short hair when I chopped it this spring. My husband and my friends kept telling me how great it looked but I just couldn’t get used to it!

    6. Oranges*

      You’ll get surprised reactions but you’d get the same reactions if there suddenly appeared a vending machine somewhere in your work space. I think of it like the lizard brain going “new thing! dangerous? nope!” reaction.

      1. Environmental Compliance*

        Or like when I move something in the Parakeet Room, and suddenly every single thing needs to be quickly inspected by the Horde to make sure it’s still not going to eat them.

        Guys, I just moved the aloe closer to the window! No bird-eating traps, I promise!

    7. ManderGimlet*

      I went from waist-length to jaw-length hair and I won’t lie, it took much longer than I anticipated for people to stop talking about it. Honestly, coworkers noticing wasn’t really bad. What sucked was people going “Oh! You cut your hair!” and then just standing there and staring as though what they said was a question. Like, I don’t know how to respond to a statement that could be hiding a negative opinion but is surface-neutral. I didn’t receive any criticism (and did get many compliments) it just got boring and annoying to talk about after the first day. Hang in there, folks WILL eventually get bored and move on. Hopefully something dramatic will happen to draw attention elsewhere lol

  43. Jam Today*

    I used to work with a lady who had hair down to maybe her knees, and she always wore it in a braid that she either put up into a bun or coiled around her head (I was a particular fan of that style). The first day I saw it down my eyes bugged out of my head, I just had no idea it was so long! I loved it though, her “up-dos” were so elegant, and such a fun contrast for the rare occasion where she would let her hair down (“Let her hair down!” Aaaaahahahaha! I’m so funny today!)

  44. Tysons in NE*

    Sick vs Vacation vs Floating Holidays/Personnel days.
    Being in HR/Payroll, when I explain it to employees sick and vacation aren’t interchangeable. If a company has floating holiday in lieu of the office being closed on a particular federal holiday and the employee doesn’t elected to take that day off.
    Sick time is meant for being sick or can be used for doctor’s appointments. Vacation is just that. But I do recommend using your personal time or floating holidays first as they don’t tend to roll over. (CA has its own set of rules in regards to this). Most of the places I have worked with time off benefits sick and vacation roll over until a cap is hit and then you don’t accrue any more time until some is taken.

    1. skunklet*

      All depends. None of my sick or vacation roll. I just pulled my sick policy and it states:

      “Effective (date) (company) designates a maximum of 5 paid days off per calendar year for excused absences due to illness, injury or personal business reasons. ”

      So using it for non sick is perfect fine.

      1. Tisiphone*

        I talked to my manager before scheduling sick time for time off. I noticed pre-scheduled sick time from other employees, and I got my boss’ stamp of approval before putting in the request.

        If you’re in doubt, talk to your manager. Many places will let you interchange.

        We had a Use It Or Lose It policy for years that finally changed last year. Now we can carry over up to 40 hours.

        1. skunklet*

          I would love it if I could carry over a week… my old job we could carry over two weeks (all in one PTO bucket); I cashed in over 100 hrs of PTO when I left that job to move back home!

  45. Lulu*

    #5 – I was in a somewhat similar situation, and my ridiculous boss fired me when I tried to give two weeks notice. So I got to start my new, much better position 2 weeks earlier, at 50% more pay, and better benefits. In the moment the interaction sucked, but it was not my problem. (The person who had the position before me left with almost no notice, as did many employees there. If I weren’t desperate for an income of any sort, I would have taken that as a huge red flag. But sometimes you just need to pay the rent.)

  46. The Other Dawn*

    RE: #5

    I’ve been in that position before. I wore many hats and got below-average pay. I stayed because I felt loyal to my boss and was treated well otherwise, and was happy to get all the experience. I probably stayed too long, but I’m still glad I got the experience. Anyway, I eventually took all that experience to another company and got paid much better.

    OP, you’ve gained a lot of experience and another company will pay you better for it. Don’t worry about giving just two weeks notice–that’s the standard. Two months would be incredibly generous of you, but it’s definitely not necessary. I highly doubt that your boss would even find someone in those two months to take on everything you do. And really, it’s not your problem. It’s his. And he has shown that he thinks you aren’t worth the extra money and won’t actually go through with getting another job.

  47. Alldogsarepuppies*

    #5 seems Schrodinger’s pay. Both too high for it to be matched elsewhere and too low to attract new hires. Your boss can’t have it both ways. Happily look elsewhere, and know replacing yourself isn’t part of the job.

  48. NurseSlacky*

    LW1: It depends not only on your skill level but your field as well. In my line of work one of our neuropsychologists has almost floor-length hair (not religious for her either, she’s just kind of a crunchy mama). Not only is she absolutely brilliant but in our line of work — the brain — it takes a special kind of person to work there. Some fields it may not matter in the slightest. IT and data analysis is another example I can think of. My husband is a data analyst and has what my mom would call a “wooly booger” beard. But 1. he’s good at what he does and 2. what he does is specialized enough that it doesn’t matter.

  49. Catwoman*

    OP #5, it’s been quite a bit here that your boss is in the wrong, and he definitely is. What I have to add is that you should give a pay period’s notice. I am an exempt employee working at a university and paid monthly, so my notice period is one month (or manager’s approval for less) to leave in good standing and be eligible for re-hire.

    Because you’re working at a smaller organization, this may not be as relevant (as two weeks is the general standard), but I just wanted to put that out there.

  50. Scaramouche Scaramouche*

    Just here to say I sympathize with asker #1 – this could have been written by me except I’m not an intern, I’m more than a decade into my career and a program director. Silver lining: you’re getting experience with this early in your career. As you learn to navigate it, you’ll have relevant stories to draw on for future interviews that most people won’t have from internships. One thing I have learned: when you want something from someone, tell them WHY it matters. When people stop showing up to meetings I talk to them about why their presence matters. Because even I sometimes skip meetings if I don’t think my presence matters or it’s important enough for an hour of my time if I am under the gun on projects.

  51. Database Developer Dude*

    I just have to say I’m a little jealous of the OP with long hair. I’d like dreads, but haven’t been able to grow my hair for 30 years.

    1. Amber Rose*

      My hair stubbornly refuses to grow longer than it is right now, which is about two inches past my shoulders. I’d love to grow it down to my butt.

    2. Oranges*

      There is science behind this! My hair will only grow to my shoulders. It has to do with your hair growth cycle–grow, rest, fall out. It’s awesome.

  52. LaDeeDa*

    Intern: Interns are often given just one project usually something that is low priority, while everyone else has multiple projects. However, their behavior is unacceptable. When an intern is working in a department, everyone has some responsibility to coach, and lead by example. I have had to say to an intern that I appreciate their organization, planning, and desire to give updates, and calling weekly meetings- but my role, and what I need to know and do on the project doesn’t require that, and I can’t participate weekly.
    When an intern is reporting directly to me, and I am overseeing their 3 months and their project, I want to see all their work- because this is an opportunity, on a small scale, for them to show me what they can do and for me to coach.
    I think LW is probably providing too much and expecting too much partcipation from the other people on the team, but should be providing weekly updates to the manager. With everyone else, I would talk to them each “I know this project is a low priority for you, but it is really important to me to do it well and to learn from all of you. Can you tell me how you would handle this project/timeline/updates?”

  53. jk*

    OP #1. I just resigned from a job where my coworkers were just like this and I’m at management level. They expected full involvement and passion from me on their projects but failed to show up or contribute to my meetings and projects. It really gets you down after a while and this was one of the main reasons why I resigned – I felt I wasn’t providing much value to the company and no one respected the work I was doing. It’s the first time in my professional career that I’ve had to deal with such negative attitudes and hopefully the last. It’s not normal and you should definitely approach your manager for support. It’s possible the wrong people have been invited to participate and she may need to take a second look.

    My manager was pretty useless unfortunately and the company was just in a bad place overall. Lots of jaded individuals from layoffs and mergers over the years.

    You’re doing an internship which puts you in a better position than me. You’ll most likely be looking for another internship or a full-time job in the near future. Just do what you can and get the experience you need for your resume.

  54. Oranges*

    For the hair question: I have a side shave and sometimes I have shaved it down really close. I do get comments on it.

    I like to flip this on it’s head. If I was a BAD employee with a side shave would that be any different than simply a bad employee? Do I need to be excellent in order for my hair to not “hold me back” in a tech company (aka pretty accepting about these things)? No, no I don’t. If I was in a different career, yes. But screw that noise.

    You will get comments about it but just like a tall person will get the “my you’re tall” comments. And if anyone keeps on going then… yeah… that says something about how they need the people around them to fit into nice neat little boxes (hint: that never works because humans are messy AF).

  55. Observer*

    #5 – None of this is really your responsibility. And, no matter what your boss says, you are a free agent – he CANNOT *require* that you give 2 months notice. Sure, he can refuse to pay out unused vacation time if you have it, but other than that? Nope. He needs to pay you for every hour worked, and he can’t stop you from leaving. Period.

    Keep this in mind – once you have a new job, his leverage goes waaaay down. After all, what is he going to do? Fire you? On the other hand, if he gets really obnoxious about it, you don’t need to worry about a bad reference. For one thing, someone like this would never have given you a fair reference anyway. Also, there is a good chance that he’ll show his true colors – no boss is going to think “Hm, #5 is a really unprofessional person” if they hear that your boss expected 2 months notice while you only gave 2 weeks, as is standard.

  56. Observer*

    #2 – if you wear your hair in a reasonable hairstyle – and a braid sounds eminently reasonable to – I doubt that it’s going to be a problem once people get to know you and your work. You may get a few “Wow! I didn’t realize how long your hair is!” kinds of comments, and perhaps some more intrusive “Is that really all yours?!” kinds of comments, but I think that most people are just not going to get too bent out of shape about it.

    I wouldn’t go totally unconfined, though. That’s a lot of hair and it’s going to be a bit in people’s faces, which is distracting. It doesn’t sound like that’s what you are planning on, though, so I can’t see it being an issue in a reasonable workplace.

  57. Suspendersarecool*

    My knee jerk to LW1 is that her colleagues are being unprofessional. Sure, her project may not be a priority, but they could decline meetings instead of no-showing and send a quick email response to her requests saying they don’t have the bandwidth. Straight up ignoring her and the project shouldn’t happen even if she isn’t handling it well.

    1. Anoncorporate*

      Yeah – I think it’s time for the OPs boss to step in and recommend what Alison did – to give less frequent updates. I have a suspicion that the coworkers are waiting until the OP leaves before taking the project into their own hands bc they deem an intern less suitable to lead it. I’m actually not sure why an intern is leading a project to begin with, but I don’t have enough information. The coworkers are still acting rudely and dismissively.

  58. ELK*

    re: two months notice – in a similar situation, I was told I was required to provide six weeks’ notice or I would lose my accumulated leave cash-out. I would be noted as leaving “not in good standing” and they would refuse to provide a good reference to any callers, despite three years of wearing all those hats and doing a pretty darn good job of it. Ultimately I chose to forego the cash out and the good reference, because I didn’t see that six weeks was fair to anyone except my employer.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Did they have other employees that got cashed out upon leaving?!

      If anyone ever switches their requirements for you to get a benefit, file a complaint with your labor department. That’s illegal in many states. Unless you’re in a deep red state, then I’m sorry.

  59. Anoncorporate*

    #1: When I first read the title and the first line, I thought this was another intern being self-important. But if he was actually tasked with leading a project, it’s not good that his coworkers are ignoring him. I’m pretty sure the reasons they may not be taking him seriously is because he is an intern and the deadline is far off. But ignoring people’s emails and not participating in a project is considered a performance issue under normal circumstances.

    I think that he OP should communicate what’s happening to his boss in a factual – not accusatory – tone and see what happens. They might just have to discontinue the project.

  60. Elizabeth West*

    I used to have a coworker who had mega-long hair, about knee-length — it was for religious reasons. At one point, she said she wanted to perm it, and we about fell over ourselves trying to talk her out of it!

    She was a good worker and the hair didn’t really make much of a difference. If mine were that long, I doubt I’d wear it down much at work (and she didn’t either), simply because it does get in the way. My hair is halfway down my back and I wear it loose (I only put it up at home). But there have been days when I went diving for the clips in my purse because just get out my face, hair.

  61. animaniactoo*

    OP#5 – Think about this: I once quit a job because I had more responsibility for things in that company than somebody who was not invested in (as in, an owner, or significantly higher paid) should have. I would have had a greater capacity to say “no” to some of the things I ended up being responsible for/carrying out except that it would have damaged our clients for me to say no. I could let my bosses stew in the results of their own over-promising method of obtaining work. I couldn’t do it to my clients, so I figured out that the only way to say “no” was to say “no” to the whole thing.

    You should not have more responsibility for keeping the business running than your boss does. And if he was taking that responsibility seriously, he’d be paying you to retain you after having adding significant amounts of work duties to your responsibilities. If he needs 2 months to be able to replace you? He should have thought of that before expecting you to keep running like this. So if HE’S not willing to take on that responsibility? The thing that he’s paid to do? He doesn’t get to push it off on you.

    The whole point of leaving is that you are saying “no” to the whole thing. That means you can say no to any little thing he asks for that doesn’t work for you. He can ask you to wait until January to quit. He can ask you to be available to come in every day for 2 hours to train your replacement 3 months after you’ve left. He can ask you to restructure the entire office in the last 2 weeks as an additional duty. But the freedom of quitting is that you get to say “no” to all of those things without keeping the business being running being even a smidgen of your responsibility any more. He’ll have to figure it out himself.

    Fair note: I did give 6 weeks notice. They hired 2 people to replace me. I found out that I was responsible for interviewing them when the resumes started coming addressed to me. I only gave 6 weeks notice because I had a major financial cushion, and it was 20 years ago and I knew I would be able to find something else in a reasonable timeline. Today, I would have to assess those odds differently.

      1. animaniactoo*

        Only as in the only reason I gave that much… sorry, I thought it would be obvious from context.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          It probably was to everyone but me. Today is turning out to not be my day so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if everyone but me “got” it.

  62. Eman*

    Must be nice not working in healthcare, where our sick time, vacation time AND holiday is part of one big pot of paid time off. Do employers really still offer separate sick days from vacation/holiday paid time off? I haven’t seen that in 15 years (that employer was healthcare too, but cooler, and gave you a bonus vacation day the month your birthday was in). Our 20-25 days of paid time off sounds awesome until you remember it includes 5 or so mandatory holidays plus your sick time.

    1. ManderGimlet*

      I’m in the same boat, 20 years in healthcare. As I commented on another post (someone who worked in tech and was gobsmacked at the idea of having your sick days monitored, bless their heart), I find the “one big pot” method to make more sense than dividing vacation/sick time if the the time can be used for either, though am beyond irritated that my accrued PTO has to go to mandatory, office-is-closed holidays. Unless you are required by law to offer X number of designated sick days, i don’t see how schedule-able “sick” days make any sense.

      1. Eman*

        Nice not be alone anyway. My office is not direct care so they try to make us take 5 days off across the 2 holiday weeks of Xmas and NY. I usually push back, unless I’m not traveling, as quality assurance work doesn’t stop just because of the holidays, our labs are still open.

  63. Tisiphone*

    I have thick, coarse butt-length hair. Think Star Trek Next Generation Klingons Lursa and B’Etor. I work in a technical field. My go-to is a braid down my back. If I don’t restrain it somehow, it can get in the way of work. Sounds like you don’t have much to worry about. People will most likely compliment it, based on the comments I’ve gotten at work, Usually it’s once, and that’s it.

    It’s wonderful to see so many responses from people with hair longer than mine! I see that in the real world so seldom.

  64. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #5 You’re literally me. I’m a do-everything-but-own-the-place person in most positions.

    You’re working for an ungrateful jerk. He’s telling you to leave if you want money. You do the books, you know what the company is worth and if a raise is reasonable. So he’s acting like a mess right now being so cheap.

    Get a new job. Give him two weeks.

    Also good luck to him finding someone specialized with even 2 months. I bounced with a years notice and nobody wanted my old job. I was paid handsomely, I just needed to change and the company was slowly dying.

    Find a job. Get away from this person. He won’t be a good reference. If you’re in the US, not many places who you’ll work for later will wait 2 months for you to start.

  65. Nicole*

    OP#5, I hope you find a new job quickly (I have no doubt you will) and that giving your notice gives you OODLES of satisfaction!

  66. jeezus*

    while some organizations will give interns meaningful work to do to gauge their abilities, honestly, it’s likely that whatever you give an intern is totally ok if it fails. the point isn’t the project – the point is to see what you do with it.

  67. Candace*

    I actually had a friend who had hair just past her knees. She too usually wore it in a braid. She became a cardiac surgeon, and wears it in a large up-do covered in caps for surgery. It is totally fine. In her case, she does belong to a particular religious group where women do not cut their hair, but no one ever asks. They just thing her hair is lovely.

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