updates: the insulting gift, the employee born on Leap Day, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are five updates from past letter-writers.

1. Telling an employee born on Leap Day she can’t have her birthday off (#3 at the link)

I just wanted to give an update and to clarify a few things. I am the employee’s manager. For some reason some people in the comments thought I was a “coworker” or “team lead.” 

One person guessed I was not American. I don’t know why they were jumped all over but they were correct. I am Canadian. I live and work outside of North America.

Some people mentioned Jehovah’s Witnesses and not being allowed to celebrate birthdays and the legality of this in the comments. This is not relevant to the situation with my employee. Also, it is considered a cult here and is banned. No one who works here is a Jehovah’s Witness.

People seemed to be unclear on the policy even though I stated it. Employees must take their birthday off. This is mandatory and not voluntary. They are paid and don’t have use their own time off. If their birthday falls on a weekend or holiday, they get the first working day off. There is no changing the date. They must take their actual birthday or the first working day back (in case of a weekend or holiday). People love the policy and no one complains about the mandatory day off or the gift card.

She had worked here for 2 years. She did get her birthday off in 2016 as it was a leap year. She did not get a day off in 2017 as it is not a leap year and didn’t get this year either. If she is still employed here in 2020 she will get a Monday off as the 29th of February is on a Saturday. This is in line with the policy. Some of the comments were confused about whether she ever had a birthday off.

The firm is not doing anything illegal by the laws here. She would have no legal case at all and if she quit she will not be able to get unemployment. She is not job hunting. She has known about the birthday policy since February of 2016 and has been bringing it up ever since. She has complained but has not looked for another job (the market is niche and specialized). Morale is high at the firm. Turnover among employees is low. Many people want to work here. Aside from this one issue she is a good worker and would be given an excellent reference if she decides to look elsewhere in the future.

Alison here. I don’t usually add anything of my own on to updates, but I want to state for the record that this is insane.

2. I feel slighted by my work anniversary gift (#2 at the link)

Thank you for publishing my letter and for your great feedback. And thank you to all the commenters. I am grateful to you all for helping me feel justified in my sensitivity!

Despite everyone’s advice, I didn’t speak to my boss. I thought I’d gotten over it but now I’m helping plan a 5-year celebration for a colleague and it’s all coming back to me (not in a good way!) … so now I’m thinking I should broach the subject with my boss at my mid-year review next week. I’m still thinking about it…

The thing is I have a VERY tough time having conversations like this and I’m afraid I’ll cry. I cannot do that in front of my boss! How do you have a conversation like this when you’re prone to crying and boss is uncomfortable with these things? Last week I was attacked by someone first thing in the morning and I came in very upset (I tried to hide it best I could)- my boss avoided me like the plague all day.

The stuffed toy was spotted under my desk by my four-year-old and now lives with us in our home. I make a concerted effort to treat him like one of the family… ;)

Thanks again Alison & AAMers!

3. Do I have to tell my boss I applied for an internal job(#5 at the link)

This is kind of a weird follow-up, but I ended up not taking your advice, but I did take the advice of a couple of the commenters and it turned out ok? Not a total success, but not a disaster. A couple commenters said maybe I could reach out to the hiring manager (who we will call Sansa) and see if she would be ok with holding off on talking to Cersei until after the initial screening process, if it turned out I was a strong candidate. Sansa had indicated in our meeting that I was one of her top three candidates and she was going to schedule additional interviews with other staff members in her department in the next month.

I ended up sending a follow up email to Sansa a couple weeks later, and basically said that I wanted to follow up on the timeline for the additional interviews and I let her know that I had not notified Cersei of my application yet and as long as she was comfortable with it, I wanted to wait until the interviews were scheduled, to avoid putting undue stress on Cersei because we had a big event coming up. Sansa asked me to give her a call, which I did, and she told me they had decided to interview people with MBAs (something I don’t have) and had chosen a final candidate (not me). She was very kind, but also apologetic.

I am not entirely happy with how things went down with Sansa – I went from being a top three candidate to not eligible for formal interviews in a two week period and the only reason I found out is because I sent a follow-up email. I am very glad I did not sit down with Cersei and have the conversation though, before finding out if I was really a top candidate. There was maybe a 2% chance that she would have reacted normally or even advocated for me to Sansa and helped things in my favor. Those are terrible odds though, so I feel like I’ve probably avoided making my toxic workplace even worse by clarifying the situation first.

4. Telling a low-performer we’re not giving her a new project she wants (#2 at the link)

The train-the-trainer project my low performer wanted ended up stalling out due to issues with our contractor, but I have had some much more blunt conversations with my employee about her performance limitations, particularly around communication. I’ve invested a lot of time and effort into trying to get this person up to speed, paid for training for her, but realistically she simply isn’t suited for the job. She doesn’t have a strong knowledge base despite over a decade in the office, shows poor professional judgement regularly, and has very poor communication skills.

I had a serious conversation with my boss just this week to ask if I could move towards firing her. I was told, very flatly, no. It’s a government agency under a civil service commission that makes firing people very difficult and he doesn’t want the headache.

5. Can I leverage a job offer for more hours at my current job(#5 at the link)

I did not get the job offer, but was invited to join the board, so I’m still pretty involved in their nonprofit. It’s a relief I don’t work there now that I have a “behind the scenes” look at their operations.

At my current job, everything has a happy ending! The new fiscal year started September, and a new position was carved out for me. I’m now full time, negotiated a 20% pay increase, and negotiated a new title. I’m actually making more then I would have at the other place! It’s amazing to be appreciated for my skills.

Thank you Alison for maintaining this blog daily(!) and for all your thoughtful feedback.

{ 1,321 comments… read them below }

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!!*

        I also just can’t. My mouth is wide open.

        OP1 – I am not gonna mince words. What you are doing to this employee is terrible. You are being a terrible manager and human being. Your rigidity on this is so absurd that I can’t even fathom it.

        1. Kobayashi Maru*

          Yes – A thousand times yes to your comment about this employee’s bizarre and out of touch manager!

        2. AllieJ0516*

          Exactly. I don’t care that it’s “perfectly legal”, and you say that morale in the office is fine, but it’s OBVIOUSLY not for her. She is being deprived of a perk that literally ALL of her co-workers (including yourself, right?) enjoys. Human to human, you OWE her that time – maybe not legally, but you do morally.

          1. Latasha*

            I’m thinking there has to be some legal loophole under discrimination that covers this.

            Afterall the employee did not choose the day she was born, nor can she legally change it.

    1. ScienceLady*

      “If their birthday falls on a weekend or holiday, they get the first working day off.” I am (Chris Traeger voice) LITERALLY not understanding the breakdown here. Can we maybe just play pretend that her birthday is on a weekend? Wouldn’t she get the next day off?

      1. sequitur*

        Exactly! “If your birthday is on Sunday this year you can have Monday off; if your birthday isn’t a day except for once every four years, you only get the day off once every four years” seems bizarre as a policy. Then again, the entire policy sounds very bizarre and specific.

        1. Dweali*

          It’s very much a following the letter of the policy but not the spirit of it. I wonder if other manager’s in OPs org would make the same decision…

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            This is exactly what I was thinking. The spirit is to give everyone a day off every year on their birthday. They even shift the day if it doesn’t fall on a work day! But to follow the OP’s thinking, the employee would not be able to drink until they’ve been alive for 84 years, because only by then would they have had 21 “birthdays” pass!!

            1. Doc in a Box*

              “How quaint the ways of Paradox!
              At common sense she gaily mocks!
              Though counting in the usual way,
              Years twenty-one I’ve been alive.
              Yet, reckoning by my natal day,
              Yet, reckoning by my natal day,
              I am a little boy of five!”
              (OP, you do not want to be compared to a Gilbert and Sullivan musical, not in this context anyway.)

                1. Mainly Lurking*

                  ?? Frederic’s 21st birthday was supposed to be in 1940, meaning he was born in 1856. His 100th birthday wouldn’t be until 2256…

              1. Tiny Soprano*

                This makes me think that perhaps by this employer’s extremely nit-picky application of the rules, the employee is probably not old enough (by birthdays) to legally work…

                1. Bill*

                  I think his one hundredth would actually be 2268 because leap years are skipped when a century year is not divisible by 400, so 2000 was a leap year but 1900, 2100,and 2200 are not.

            2. Greg c.*

              Take it a step further: by op’s logic they are most likely breaking child labor laws in their region.

          2. Yikes Dude*

            There’s something about the way they’re defending the workplace that makes me suspect this person is the manager that everyone treats like that kid in SF who wished to be Batman for a day, only they’re miserable and that kid can fire you. Most toxic workplaces have at least one.

            1. Cindy Bendy*

              I thought the same thing. OP sounds so self-righteous about this screwed up policy. Clearly leap year just was not considered when the policy was created. No sane, humane person would create a policy that excludes people from a benefit because they had the misfortune to be born on a calendar day that only occurs once every four years. The whole ‘she only has a birthday every four years, so she only gets a day off every four years’ thing is ridiculous. I don’t care what the freaking calendar says, everyone ages a year every 365 days. I mean, do they show her age as 8 years old if she’s 32 because she’s only had 8 birthdays? Any rational person would amend this policy to consider her birthday Feb 28th for the purpose of this benefit. Sheesh.

              Don’t even get me started on banning a religion, but as a side note…the banning was from 1940-1943. Today there are approximately ~8 million Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada.

              1. TooTiredToThink*

                Not to nitpick; the OP is from Canada but not working in Canada. S/he says they work outside of North America.

                That being said – this letter (and the original) – I’m like – is the OP a robot? Its not that people don’t understand the policy – its the execution of said policy that makes no sense. If OP didn’t claim to be from Canada, I’d seriously wonder if it was a language barrier.

                1. HH*

                  HA! That was my EXACT thought…this person has got to be a freakin’ robot. Must follow policy bleep bleep bloop bloop.

                2. selena81*

                  Is this company in Russia? That’s the only (developed) country i know that outright outlawed Jehova witness gatherings. Or maybe she just means an unofficial ban.

                  At any rate, if the company is situated in a place with high unemployment and low wages than it better explains why birthday-girl is choosing to stay with them for now: building her resume for this specific skill until she can move to a better place.

                3. Emily S*

                  I also guffawed at “morale is high” – what a way to justify singling out one employee in particularly to be screwed over for no justifiable reason. 49 out of 50 employees are fine with the company’s management being arseholes to the remaining one person, so it’s okay!

                4. MB*

                  It’s definitely possible that the OP is just exceptionally rigid, but I have to wonder if a lot of the culprit here is the possibility that they work in a country with an exceptionally rigid, hierarchical workplace culture that rewards conformity and following orders above all else. If that’s the case, the OP’s mindset makes a lot more sense to me (it’s still nuts, just comprehensible).

                  In such a culture a manager’s decision tree is probably something like this in response to an employee complaining about a workplace policy:

                  Is this policy dumb? If yes:
                  Can I change the policy myself? If no:
                  Did someone who is my superior make the policy, and will I have to go beg them to change it, risking potentially coming off as disrespectful to their infinite wisdom and authority? If yes: Clearly my employee is the one in the wrong, HOW DARE THEY waste management’s time on something where the policy is so OBVIOUSLY correct?!? Please, AMA, help me figure out how to convince them to fall in line!

                5. Dove*

                  Frankly, when the best thing you can say about a policy is that it’s not *actually* illegal, there’s some questions to be raised about why one is trying so hard to defend it.

                6. Expat*

                  “I have to wonder if a lot of the culprit here is the possibility that they work in a country with an exceptionally rigid, hierarchical workplace culture that rewards conformity and following orders above all else.”

                  Interesting. That would jive with the hypothesis that LW is a Canadian expat in Russia. I have found that Russian offices often make a Big Deal about celebrating birthdays, they take written policies hyper literally, they dig in their heels over stupid administrative matters, and compensating people on time is problematic. Then there’s the Jehovah’ Witness comment.

                  LW1, if you are an expat in Russia, now would be a great t8me to play the obnoxious expat adult in the room who imports manage expertise into Russia as part of foreign direct investment in the country. I’ve done it myself and the water is fine. If some Russian accountant finds it patronizing, so be it.

                7. A tester, not a developer*

                  English is only one of our two official languages – it’s still possible it’s a linguistic issue.

                8. Ms Cappuccino*

                  I wonder if it could be France. It is quite hierarchical and it’s has been only a few years that JW has been recognised as religion.
                  But most people reject it.

                9. Crooked Bird*


                  “Frankly, when the best thing you can say about a policy is that it’s not *actually* illegal, there’s some questions to be raised about why one is trying so hard to defend it.”

                  Funny, that’s exactly the way I feel when someone invokes the right to free speech in response to criticism….

                10. TheX*

                  My money is on LW working in an Eastern European nation (I was born in one). Some are rigid like this and even pride themselves on being rigid compared to Russia where “anything goes”.

                11. GreenDoor*

                  Yes. Legally they’re not doing anything wrong, I suppose. But perception wise, everyone else gets that extra paid day off and this employee doesn’t. The OP’s company IS depriving the employee of a perk that everyone else gets – and for a really fixable, arbitrary reason.

                  Stop being so stubborn!

                12. MB*

                  @Expat – yeah, I would not be surprised if this were Russia. I was initially leaning toward India or Singapore because of the officiousness of LW1’s tone – something about it feels like something you’d see in a country where bureaucrats are all-powerful kings within their own little fiefdoms, and the educational system from kindergarten onwards drills it into people that the only way to achieve success in life is rote memorization and always doing what you’re told rather than encouraging them to experiment and think for themselves. But there’s something so perfectly Kafkaesque about this situation that fits with every stereotype I’ve ever heard about how people get by in today’s Russia.

              2. Zap R.*

                There are only 36 million people in Canada. That would make 22% of the population Jehovah’s Witnesses so I’m thinking your statistic is flawed.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  Cactus, why the snark? Trying to live up to the prickliness of your user name, lol?

                  It’s insanely easy to google a country and learn its population, which is obviously what Zap R. did. Chill, buddy!

              3. iglwif*

                I … am pretty sure that we don’t have 8 million JWs here? Our total population is something like 36 million.

                That said, the OP said they are Canadian but working outside North America, so I don’t think they are talking about Canada. (And there is certainly no current ban on Jehovah’s Witnesses here–I see pairs of them with their magazine stands on the sidewalk outside subway stations all the time where I live.

            2. Micklak*

              The fact that they are defending the policy makes me think this is fake. It’s so bonkers and hard to believe that I don’t actually believe it. I know we’re supposed to take the OPs at their word but these words are crazy.

              Who could possibly defend this?

              1. Black Bellamy*

                Work long enough in the corporate world and you will see situations like this, where everyone is nodding their heads and saying yes this makes perfect sense.

              2. Triplestep*

                Who could possibly defend this?

                A LW who got so much traction on the original they figured they’d get a little more on the update?

                We’re not supposed to call out fake letters on the premise that even fake letters yield real advice that will help someone. This one puts the fake letter theory to the test in that it just yields outrage in the comments (as did the original).

              3. CMF*

                They’re not just defending it, they’re justifying it. And they’re so confident they’re right in their thinking. I agree with everyone who’s pointed out that if she doesn’t have a birthday every year, then by the company’s thinking she is not old enough to work.
                I also can’t believe that this person took the time to write an update just to tell us how wrong we all are.They are steadfast in their righteousness. Wow. Just wow. Allison’s right. It’s insane.

          3. PM Jesper Berg*

            It’s not following the letter of the policy. Leap year babies have birthdays. No one argues they have shorter lifespans than other homo sapiens.

            1. sam*

              this. Unless the company also considers the employee to be 8 years old because she’s *only* had 8 birthdays, in which case you are clearly employing a minor which is illegal, her birthday on non-leap years should just be classified as February 28 or March 1.

              She’s clearly getting older every year. it’s not witchcraft.

              1. Fact & Fiction*

                Exactly regarding the comment about “well if we’re going to follow these completely overly rigid rules EXACTLY” then your company is clearly breaking the law by employing a minor. OR your company could consider doing what the government OBVIOUSLY ALREADY DOES in recognizing that yes, this person is getting one year older every March 1st, which is the day they WOULD HAVE been born in a non-Leap Year.

                1. sam*

                  alternatively, they could give her 4 days off every 4 years, on the bizarre logic that she only has a birthday once every four years, but she magically ages 4 years at a time. At least then she’d be getting the full benefit, just on a weird schedule.

                  That being said, the idea that this employee is going to stick around for another four years when she’s being treated so *obviously* unfairly will probably solve this employers’ “problem” for them.

          4. Maolin*

            But they aren’t following policy! OP states, “Employees must take their birthday off. This is mandatory and not voluntary.”
            That policy states that employees are forbidden from working on their birthdays. If my birthday falls on a Sunday, OP isn’t abiding policy when they allow me to have Monday off. Following the letter of the policy, since I don’t work on Sundays and my birthday is on a Sunday this year, I am not working on my birthday. Therefore I am not forced to take my mandatory paid birthday off this year.

            Because that would actually make sense.

            W. T. A. F.

        2. Zoe*

          Seriously, how this isn’t crystal clear is beyond me. And the overall tone in the update was so arctic cold, I’m still shivering from here.

          1. Dragoning*

            Yeah that update was basically “You don’t understand; this is the way things are and must be and it’s amazing like that. Good day sir”

            1. EPLawyer*

              Exactly. “everyone loves it here, except this one chronic complainer about her birthday. can she JUST SHUT UP about it?” Yeah no. you are literally treating this person differently because of her day of birth. Period. She had no more control over what day she was born than her hair or eye color. Would you only give blonde people every other Friday off? Then tell the brunette, so sorry that’s policy and it cannot be changed?

              Just say that for 3 years her birthday oddly falls on a Saturday so she gets March 1 off. It’s not that big of deal. But would go a loooooooong way to making someone you say is a strong performer happy. Because I bet you dollars to donuts you aren’t THAT niche that she is not looking. If she is that strong, she can go somewhere else where she is not punished for her birthdate.

            2. Anne Noise*

              Why did OP#1 even write in? They seemed pretty firmly against the idea and just wanted confirmation of their opinion.

              The frigidity of both the policy and the manager here would drive me to a new job, and quickly. How mortifying.

              1. Sunshine*

                It would drive me to job hunt if it happened to a colleague, because it’s so bizarre it would make me seriously question the manager’s judgement.

              2. Kali*

                That is exactly why they wrote in. The original letter asked advice on how to explain to the worker that she was being petty and immature.

              3. Mommy MD*

                Leap Year obscessed Boss and Company are leap years away from ANYTHING related to good will or common sense. Employee’s Birthday is always the day after February 28. A five year old could understand it. Way to hang onto inane rigidness OP.

                1. Expat*

                  If she is indeed an expat in Russia, well, welcome to Russia. Insane rigidness is the name of the game.

              4. Creamsiclecati*

                Exactly. This wasn’t really an update about the situation, just the OP biting back against comments he or she didn’t like from before. And all the “morale is high” talk sounds like exactly what an obtuse manager Wii had no idea what’s actually going on with the people under him or her would say. I’m guessing morale isn’t all that high, given how stubborn this manager seems to be.

                1. DinoGirl*

                  Yes, 100% this manager (and probably the organization) is a living nightmare in all kinds of ways. This bizarre adherence to a nonsensical application of the policy demonstrates overall “lack of getting it” that must make employees insane.
                  Alison, your update note was amazing.

                2. Tan*

                  “morale is high”- I think I know how this manager knows this: they went out into the office and asked each of their team if moral was high and they all said yes

              5. Jana*

                Yeah, LW was asking for advice on how to let the employee know she was being “petty”. The original letter also states that there is no fanfare around any of the birthday perks, etc., so the employee isn’t missing out. I guess missing out on paid leave and a monetary gift is no big deal!

                The update letter adds another layer of weird to this in that the policy bends enough to allow a person to take off a day that isn’t their actual birthday, but not enough to let the employee mentioned in the original letter take a day off. Weird. Even if unintentional, this employee is being singled out. No way all the employees there are 100% happy with the firm.

              1. PCV in the Pacific*

                Employee’s birthday is in the dot over the “i” in Jeremy Bearimy, so Tuesdays, July and also never. She shares a birthday with Janet!

            3. CastIrony*

              If I could flip a desk in rage, I would, because that’s age discrimination. Okay, that’s a stretch, but still unfair. Just say it’s Feb. 28th or March 1st! Gosh!

          2. SignalLost*

            And we are all idiot fools for thinking that the spirit of the law is the better guide than the letter, in this case. Eesh.

          3. Manatees are cool*

            There is a really bad word I want to use about OP’s attitude. Maybe what the company is doing is not illegal but it’s unfair, unethical and completely ridiculous.

            1. Zoe*

              I typed out a comment containing that sort of message but didn’t post it. No profanity but plenty of judgement. I decided it wasn’t in the spirit of this site, but good Lord I wanted to post it.

              Not that it would do any good. This LW has their head so far up their rectum that it’s too dark to read anything.

              1. AKchic*

                I feel your pain. I have attempted to comment 4 times now. Each time has had me hitting the backspace key so many times that I confused my computer and sent me back two webpages.
                Nobody gave the OP the validation they wanted and OP isn’t happy. So, they are doubling down to try to “prove” how we’re all wrong and we’re just “not getting it”, which is the opposite of what is happening. If I don’t stop myself now, I will end up with the backspace problem again.

          4. JSPA*

            If we’re allowed one exception, per year, to the rule about not trashing the OP’s, I’d use mine here. Sailing very close to the wind, instead…

            The policy is insane, defending the policy is heartless and freakish, and I’m very glad I don’t know this person, let alone work for them.

        3. Tristan Callan*


          I find people who can only seem to follow a rule exactly as written without the ability to interpret it’s spirit and intent insanely frustrating. This letter makes me very glad I have a manager who learned some critical thinking skills!

        4. SierraSkiing*

          Yeah, I’m guessing they’d never thought about Leap Day until they hired someone born on it? it sounds like OP (or OP’s manager, or someone up the chain) heard about the Leap Day employee, decided “well, she only gets her birthday off every four years, then” and then dug in their heels on the Trueness and Rightness of that verdict.

          1. Zoe*

            I have to wonder if they’re just thinking if it as a way to save money. “Technically, her birthday only occurs once every four years, so I don’t have to spend money on her for the other three! Gotta love loopholes! Muahahaha!”

        5. Someone Else*

          YUP. Does not compute. The next workday after the 29th, even when the 29th doesn’t exist, will always be March 1. WTF.

          I want to say WTF 1000 times.

        6. Nic*

          This. She should be treated as though her birthday has fallen on a weekend, not as though the day has stopped counting. I mean, OP does understand that her employee isn’t aging at a rate of one year for every four that other people age, right? My godmother’s MIL has long joked about celebrating her 25th birthday (and indeed has now done so!) but that doesn’t mean she’s actually 25. Heck, Queen Elizabeth II has sent her a birthday card for passing 100 – if it’s good enough for Her Maj, it should be good enough for any half-reasonable company policy.

          Just because someone’s birthday is unfortunate enough to be the official calendar catch-up day doesn’t mean that when other people are getting a paid day off every single year, she should be only entitled to a fourth of that consideration. And yet OP still seems to think this is unreasonable on her employee’s part?! Wow.

      2. xarcady*

        Or, just ask here which day, February 28 or March 1, she celebrates her birthday in non-leap-year years, and use that as her birthday.

        Because you are compensating her less than every other employee in the company. She gets one paid day off less than everyone else three out of every four years, and she does not get the gift card in non-leap-year years.

        I cannot wrap my head around being this petty over one day a year off that every single other employee gets.

        1. Nea*

          you are compensating her less than every other employee in the company

          I know, right? OP seems to be doubling down on the fact that it’s totally not illegal that one employee gets literally 1/4 the perk everyone else is getting due to circumstances beyond that employee’s control. It might not be illegal but it’s absolutely unethical.

          1. AMT*

            Right, I mean, it’s not illegal to exclude people born in December from Bagel Fridays or to make people who like to skateboard wear funny hats, but it’s weird and arbitrary and will lead to bad morale for absolutely no business reason.

            1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              EXACTLY. The LW points out that moral isn’t low – but that is for people who are not being excluded. The person that is being excluded for absolutely no reason is totally going to have low moral. And the whole ‘well she could get another job if she was that upset’ thing is b*llshit. You are treating her worse than everyone else for no reason! That is such a terrible thing to do!

              1. R.D.*

                I don’t really trust the OP to know that moral isn’t low. The OP is showing a shocking lack of perception here so would s/he even notice if other people were unhappy?

                1. Zoe*

                  Just as sad is that when this employee leaves for a better job, this LW will either say good riddance or just be shocked because everyone is supposedly overjoyed to work there.

                2. Tiny Soprano*

                  I don’t know how many other giant nerds frequent the AAM comment section, but this OP is the sort who rolls a nat 1 on a perception check and then argues with the dungeon master about it. Because if they can’t see any gnolls there definitely aren’t any gnolls, that’s impossible.

                3. ZK*

                  Honestly, does management ever know? Morale is crazy low where I work, to the point where 2/3 of the people I know are job searching. I don’t think management has a clue, nor do I think they care. We’re just butts in seats to them. We all keep our heads down, do our jobs and hope that the next interview will be the one that gets us out of there.

                4. Michio Pa*


                  Definitely looks like they rolled a nat 1 on whatever Charm or Intimidate they were attempting when they wrote in, and their naturally low Charisma is not helping.

                5. Jennifer Juniper*

                  I think the OP would punish anyone who dares to display anything less than total enthusiasm and happiness.

                6. Minocho*

                  @FellowNerds: This OP is Lawful Neutral, played to absurd lengths.

                  Never let this OP play a paladin.

              2. SignalLost*

                Yeah. You don’t even have to read between the lines to see that morale is great for the people who get full compensation and not great for this person who arbitrarily does not. It’s not a far stretch from there to say that LW is not taking steps to rectify this BECAUSE it’s a niche industry and the employee can’t easily leave. I mean, that is literally how it comes off, to me.

              3. Zennish*

                This sort of manager never, ever thinks morale is low. Thirty people could line up and head for the door, and they’d just see it as thirty troublemakers who don’t appreciate how awesome the management is.

          2. R.D.*

            Exactly. Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t make it not shitty.

            There is plenty of behavior that is terrible and mean, but isn’t illegal. Wow. I generally don’t want to pile on to letter writers, but this is just horrible behavior and bizarre justification.

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Just because it’s not illegal doesn’t make it not shitty.

              Someone needs to make a cross-stitch of this and send it to LW.

              I have very few words that are professional or polite, and I know that we’re supposed to be kind to letterwriters – so I’ll just say that this is the epitome of shitty behavior and incredibly poor management, and I hope this poor employee who is stuck with a manager who demonstrates a total lack of empathy, problem-solving skills, and flexibility (and then doubles down on all three!!!) finds a wonderful new job with people smart enough to understand how leap years work and not financially penalize her for being born on 2/29.

              I actually hope this letter is fake and that no such callous boss really exists. But, if it’s not fake, RUN, Leap Year Birthday Employee, run – this is not normal.

          1. Lis*

            Well the OP is Canadian and working elsewhere but your point stands. By their logic unless the employee is 72 they are under 18. The whole question is ridiculous. Just give employee the same benefit everyone else has.

              1. Kobayashi*

                I had to go Google that myself because my reaction was, “WTF?” Like, did Canada suddenly become Afghanistan or Russia? Geez!

        2. Bulbasaur*

          Not only compensating her less, but compensating her less for a purely arbitrary reason that is 100% out of her control.

          And apparently the OP feels complaining about that is petty and unprofessional on her part, to the point where it would merit a qualifying remark on an otherwise good reference.

          I am having trouble thinking of anything to add that wouldn’t breach site rules so I’ll stop there.

          1. Reba*

            I was struck that in the original letter, the OP seemed to really feel the employee was upset about not getting, like, attention on her birthday? (Who is petty?) When really the issue is exactly what you say — she is getting paid less than her peers, for less than no reason!

          2. Kahlessa*

            Nothing like doubling down on the stupid. When your policy is the basis of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, you are not a good manager.

      3. Allison*

        I’m wondering, if she had lied about her birthday and said it was on a date that exists every year, would she have gotten away with it? Do they make the employees verify their birthdays?

        1. Robert*

          I imagine that at some point in filling out paperwork for the company (background check, tax filing, insurance) they have to fill out forms that require an accurate birthdate.

      4. Koala dreams*

        I’m with you. Since other people get a day off even if it’s not their actual birthday, it seems very strange to me to specifically exclude employees born on a leap year.

        1. Anonny*

          I wonder if the OP just straight-up hates this employee and is using the wording of the rules to be an [redacted].

          1. Zoe*

            They acknowledge that she’s otherwise a good employee but you’re right, this is so common sense that there must be something else here.

      5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Yes, this is by far the craziest part. They can adjust for a weekend, but not for this? Why?

      6. Liane*

        By your company’s logic, an employee whose birthday falls on a weekend or holiday, should NOT get the day off, unless they would otherwise be at work that day. So LW1, if your schedule is always Monday – Friday and your birthday happens to be Saturday this year and Sunday the next, then you don’t get a birthday off until year after next. SO sorry, kinda sucks to be you.
        Which is probably how your Leap Year employee feels.
        I hope for this coming year that the one day of PTO you aren’t paying this employee is worth losing out on good job candidates AND potential customers who agree with a lot of us here.

        1. Nea*

          I note that OP is quick to claim that morale is high (except for one undercompensated employee and two managers who think she’s a whiner) and that many people (who are presumably not handicapped by birthday) want to work there.

          1. ScienceLady*

            It’s akin to broken bureaucracies touting how transparent they are. The [company] lady doth protest too much!

          2. Glenda*

            I think it begs the question (in its proper sense): “Morale is high because we told people morale is high, therefore morale is high.”

        2. Not another Liz*

          By this company’s logic, does this mean the employee is NOT LEGAL TO WORK, since she has not had 14 birthdays yet?

          Can this employee ever retire?

          1. PermanentlyAppalled*

            I can’t believe this manager doesn’t know she is a Boss From Hell. I wonder what the birthday-abled think of this treatment of their birthday-disabled coworker.

            1. Armchair Analyst*

              This policy definitely discriminates against people due to their birthday. So using the -abled term seems accurate IMHO

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              I vote we include OP in the worst boss contest for this year.

              So arrogant, tone deaf, patronizing…sorry just woke up do I’m adjective deficient at the moment, but you get the idea…

              1. Adjuncts Anonymous*

                I think the official AAM policy is that people who write in won’t be included in a Worst Of category. Ms. Green doesn’t want to discourage people from writing in.

                From the vote for Worst Boss of 2016: “You might be wondering why I haven’t included the manager whose best employee quit on the spot because she wouldn’t let her attend her college graduation. That’s because I don’t want people to worry that they might end up on a “worst of” list if they write to me. None of the nominees here are the letter-writers themselves.”

                1. Zoe*

                  While that makes perfect sense I’m disappointed to hear that all the same. That reminds me, when is that poll happening?

          2. Turtlewings*

            That was my thought! How did they ever hire this person, since she must obviously be a tiny toddling baby?

        3. Bowl of Oranges*

          My former company did this—we got our birthday off, but ONLY our birthday. If it was a weekend, you got nothing. It was frustrating. Some people started using PTO to take the next business day off. Our boss got mad and said this was “abusing the policy”—trust me, it wasn’t great for morale.

          1. Pebbles*

            My mind is trying to logic this one and failing. How is it abusing policy when there are two policies at play here? 1) Company policy that forces you to take your birthday off, but if it’s on a weekend (or holiday? what happens then? Jan 1st people SOL every year?) you don’t get the freebie day off. 2) PTO policy that you can use your days off when you want. In this case some people interpreted “when you want” to include the workday following their birthday and used PTO to take that day off.

            I don’t think I would have been happy at your former company either.

            1. SusanIvanova*

              We had 3 floating holidays per year – it could be your birthday or any kind of holiday that was significant to you, or the day before/after it. I picked Easter Monday because after a full week of choir rehearsals + services, I needed it.

            2. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Yes… so many days are ways to skimp on budget at the expense of an employee. Hire people born on Jan 1, December 25, July 4 in the US, July 14 in France, May 1 in Russia or China…
              This is pretty nuts.
              I thought my HR dept had some murky rules for PTO but they’re crystal clear by comparison.

              1. Gemini*

                Or people whose birthday sometimes falls on a holiday. My birthday is sometimes on Memorial Day. So for three years in a row I would get nothing while for others there it would only ever be two years in a row?

            3. Bowl of Oranges*

              Oh there was no logic. I actually asked him how it was different than taking PTO any other day. He didn’t really have an answer. Shockingly enough, he also got upset when people took sick days.

          2. WS*

            My workplace has cake on your birthday, and if that’s a weekend or holiday, too bad, no cake. But that’s cake, not a paid day off!

            1. RacingTurtle*

              Yes, for cake that policy is good and fine! Cake is more of a “sucks that you have to work on your birthday, but at least there’s cake!” sort of gesture. Cake is also potentially shareable. Paid days off, on the other hand? If you don’t hand those out evenly on the basis of something absurd like birth date, then you are doing something wrong, even if it isn’t technically illegal.

          3. Jules Verne*

            This is the point that’s really sticking with me, is that apparently this policy is you ONLY get your birthday off and you MUST take it off. What?? What if you have important work to do? What if you have bad memories associated with your birthday? It makes more sense to have a policy like “you get a day off sometime around your birthday.”

            Like?? OP #1 thinks the employee is childish but honestly this policy is childish?? I don’t want to say “what adult cares that much about their birthday” but personally I don’t care THAT much anymore… So why would a company FORCE employees to take the day off when most people would probably prefer a more flexible day to take off?? I am just boggled by this whole situation.

        4. Wulfgar*

          I agree. I think they should change their policy so only birthdays during the work week can be acknowledged. Birthday on Saturday or Sunday? Sorry, you can’t have a day off; your day off will come around in a year or two. If enough people lose the benefit, maybe the employees’ complaints would change the policy.

      7. a good mouse*

        Exactly – if they could only take their birthday off, and if it falls on a weekend or holiday you don’t get it, then I’d get it. But if they’re this strict on Leap Day birthdays, how come they are okay with someone born on a holiday always getting an extra day off?

        1. selena81*

          Yeah, if it was strictly *the day itself* and was also enforced for people who where born on christmas and such than there would at least be some reason behind the madness. A shitty reason, but a reason.

          But this i just can’t wrap my head around: is this team lead (excuse me, MANAGER) maybe jealous of someone having a unique day of birth?

          The only other explanation is that this is just an all-around toxic workplace where power-abuse is encouraged as a way of keeping naive hired-out-of-school employees in a state of perpetual fear and frustration.
          Everybody is happy? I assume i’m not the only person having flashbacks to the 50s and people claiming their black servants where ‘totally happy’ (‘i asked them, and they agreed with me on all fronts’ these bosses would insist in disbelief)

          The 3th explanation is that this letter is a practical joke: i’m including this because i hope it’s true.

      8. AnnaB*

        Why can’t they just tweak the ‘if birthday falls on a weekend’ policy to include ‘and/or on a leap day’?

      9. Peachkins*

        Seriously. I’m absolutely dumbfounded that they pretend she didn’t have a birthday at all and see nothing wrong with not providing the perks that go with it. Like literally sitting here with my mouth hanging open. Maybe it’s not illegal, but it certainly is a jerk move.

      10. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Because acknowledging a Leap Year birthday would require changing the day of the report’s birthday, but literally changing the day of someone’s birthday celebration if that day falls on a weekend/holiday is not changing the day because it’s a real day that exists.


          1. Ella beebee*

            This is so baffling to me! They aren’t but allowed to work on their birthdays?? Being a Jehovah witness isn’t the only reason people don’t not celebrate their birthdays. I have a close friend who I doesn’t celebrate her birthday because it brings up some painful memories, forcing her to take the day off would be terrible for her. Even if you do celebrate it, some people like to be around other people on their birthday and might not want to just be home a week day where everyone else is at work. None of this makes any sense

            1. Tiny Soprano*

              Now I’m wondering what happens if someone’s birthday falls on a day where they have a large project due, or perhaps the only day an important client can schedule a meeting? Do they get to move it then or do they have to lump it and have the fallout impact their work?

            2. Cactus*

              Yeah. I actually don’t mind working on my birthday; I’ve done it some years and not in other years depending on how the calendar/my work schedule shook out. I’ve definitely known people who refused to work on their birthdays, which, okay. But requiring it one way or another seems bizarre.

      11. Black Bellamy*

        From now on my policy is that I was born on the 102nd day of the year according to the Gregorian calendar. I’m just going to write 102 DGC and that’s it. Once every four years my birthday will be April 11th instead of April 12th. Not a problem.

      12. JeanLouiseFinch*

        If the employer can’t seem to get it through their thick heads that this woman has an anniversary of her birth EVERY YEAR, then maybe the employer should be fined and charged with hiring an under-aged employee (because if, for example, she is 24, then the employer has admitted that she is really 6!)

      13. A tester, not a developer*

        She should get 4 days off every leap year, and get 4 gift cards. It’s the only logical solution. :)

      14. tinyhipsterboy*

        I came to comment this exact same thing!!! If other employees get the next working day off, why shouldn’t she just get March 1 off? her birthday technically doesn’t fall on a working day (since Feb 29th doesn’t always happen), so she should get the next working day off. that’s not even giving a generous reading of the policy; that IS the policy. this OP digging in their heels gives me real real bad vibes.

    2. a heather*

      OP1 still here making me angry. If you let people take a day off when it’s not actually their birthday (first working day after), how can your policy be that this person gets no days off 3 out of 4 years? Bananapants crazytown. She *should* complain about this every year. Hell, every time anyone takes a day off for their birthday.

      1. sofar*

        My own workplace has some weird dysfunctionalities, but I am sitting here filled with gratitude that I do not work with/for anyone as crazy as LW#1. Like how do you function at that level of crazy and still…function.

      2. Fern*

        I had forgotten about this letter… but now I’m annoyed all over again. FFS, let her take her birthday off… ESPECIALLY if you’re allowing others whose birthdays fall on the weekends to take a day off during the week. That’s doubling down on crazytown.

        1. Blue*

          It’s not even about “allowing” it – it’s required that they take the following Monday off! What even.

          1. Où est la bibliothèque?*

            The required part is just bonkers. What if someone is super busy their birthday week and doesn’t want to be kicked out for a day?

            1. selena81*

              Though luck and don’t you *dare* take any work home missy, we will be strictly monitoring you from 0.00 to 24.00 to ensure no illegal working is taking place

          2. ella*

            I’m hung up on the “required” part as well. I probably wouldn’t quarrel with it because I like days off, but what in the actual hell?

          3. Dragoning*

            I’m also hung up on the fact that OP apparently thinks being Jehovah’s Witness is…what, illegal in Canada?

            1. ElspethGC*

              OP said that they themselves are Canadian, but working outside Canada, and the country they work in has outlawed JW as a cult. I know Russia for one has banned gatherings of JWs as cult gatherings.

              (This may already have been posted, but if I refresh I’ll lose this particular thread branch in the sea of OP#1-directed anger, so I’m posting it now anyway.)

              1. Jana*

                Yes, Jehovah’s Witnesses are banned in Singapore as well…not sure what other countries, but there are quite a few.

            2. Brisvegan*

              LW1 said they areCanadian, but working in a country that’s not Canada or the US. Several countries do actually ban JW religious observance, so LW is presumably working in one of those places.

        2. Hey Karma, Over here.*

          Yes, This is it exactly. “my employee is complaining about something that I consider petty. How do I shut it down?”
          Reply: It’s not petty. It’s a valid complaint and you should rethink the policy and give her what she’s asking for because she’s right.
          Update: It’s not illegal, so we are still going to do it. She still complains, but she’s not looking for a new job so obviously she and everyone else here are happy.
          No. They. Are. Not.

          1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

            Someone’s being petty and it’s NOT the employee complaining (it’s the OP). My god, this is such a non-problem that you’ve turned into a terrible experience for your employee. Sorry, but this is the truth. I think you may have some underlying issue with this employee and it’s causing you to approach this completely unreasonably. Take a look at yourself and your motives.

            1. Random Thought*

              +1 thought the same thing. It’s like OP is using a minor technicality to punish this employee who apparently does good work. It makes 0 sense and I would like OP to explain why they are so dug in on this.

            2. Risha*

              Honestly, I think the OP is just plain a bad person. I don’t usually say that sort of thing, especially to the people in question, because it’s not terribly useful in 95% of cases. I’m making an exception this time.

              OP: You probably won’t see this, but You Are A Bad Person.

              1. Esme Squalor*

                I agree. There’s being a bad manager and there’s being a bad person, and there’s really no other explanation for why this letter writer is doubling down on being so spiteful and petty.

          2. iglwif*


            And when someone says the words “Aside from this one issue she is a good worker”, where “this one issue” = “a completely valid complaint about a weird policy enforced with asinine rigidity to her significant disadvantage”, I’m afraid I don’t find that person’s assertions that morale is high very believable.

      3. wb*

        yeah, my actual response to this is 100% not in keeping with comment guidelines here, so i’ll just say this: if my manager and grand-manager said i was being petty for this and should be focusing on my work, I’d do everything I could to absolutely ruin them.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          Same. I got to the end of this update and was sitting here psychically screaming, “Henney, NOOOO!” into the void. The void asked me to resubmit my request on my birthday.

        2. Katy*

          I would threaten to sue them for violating child labor laws. When they point out that I’m 32 (or whatever her age is) ask how that is possible as I clearly don’t have birthdays but every 4 years per their own policy. They can’t have it both ways, either I have a “birthday” that is legally celebrated March 1st (which, IIRC, is how the government views it) or they hired a child and have been working them for years.

        1. Lea*

          I just went back and read the original and I am blown away that not only are they being petty about the day off/giftcard, they refuse to include her on the monthly birthday cake??? What???

    3. Dysfunction Junction*

      I can’t believe they are doubling down on this bananas ‘policy.’ They won’t even put her name on the #$@% cake! That’s literally the least you could do.

      1. teclatrans*

        OMG, I forgot about the cake! How rigid-minded do you have to be to a) thibk this way and b) ignore all the arguments against your wrongheaded stance?

        Do the coworkers know she is being left off the cake? How good can morale be, really? How toxic is this workplace, *really*?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Seriously, I get more upset when I see coworkers mistreated than I do for my own sake. I’d probably be looking for a new job if I saw a company obsessed with following to the letter a policy that they created and can update or rewrite at will than with treating all employees fairly and equitably. That does not bode well for other decisionmaking.

          1. selena81*

            yeah, one terrible manager might happen, but it is a warning sign of an overall terrible company culture if the rest agrees that this policy Which They Have Written Themselves should exclude a valued employee on a tiny technicality, the correction of which would in no foreseeable way create any precedent beyond correcting the mistake itself

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          I soooooo hope the employee finds another job.

          I wouldn’t even think badly of her for giving no notice*, by text, on a Sunday morning, at 3 AM, when Monday is a holiday and OP’s birthday.

          *No notice = “I quit, effective right this second. Happy birthday (ex) manager.”**

          **OP took great pains to point out that she is a manager in a way that comes off as self-important and definitely above a mere coworker, team lead, supervisor, etc.

          1. AKchic*

            I’d be snarky and call the OP a team lead in the text and ask that my regards be given to the real management team.

        3. Rectilinear Propagation*

          5 bucks say that co-workers don’t realize she’s not getting the same benefit and leaving her off the cake is part of hiding it. Because if her name is on the cake and she didn’t have a day off that month, people might actually notice that.

          1. selena81*

            Yeah, the management-team may all be assholes, but i doubt her co-workers would be happy about one of their own getting screwed over

      2. Kittymommy*

        Seriously. This is what strikes me. The policy about the leap year is not good and the increased justification if it just comes across as so tone deaf.

      3. Serafina*

        I don’t believe for one second this is about the policy. They want that employee gone for who-knows-what-reason, but it’s a reason they’re not willing to admit to, so they’re making her a second class employee when it comes to things she can’t argue unlawful discrimination about. Given how viciously they speak of Jehovah’s Witnesses (yes, a rather questionable organization, but still!), I wonder if the employee is a member of a religion/belief who is unpopular in that office for some reason.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          I took the comment about JW being a banned cult more of an indication of really rigid, rule-following, letter-of-the-law culture (not just at the company, but more broadly in this society). Based on that alone, I suspect I know where the OP works.

          1. Kobayashi*

            And I was thinking, “Um, even where a religion is banned, people are still OF that religion.” They may get arrested if found out. Jehovah’s Witnesses were imprisoned just like Jews in Nazi, Germany. Religious persecution is a terrible thing, wherever it occurs. And I did originally think the person was referencing Canada. So glad I read that wrong and the person is in some other country (and apparently one without good human rights ethics).

          2. Esme Squalor*

            Based on the extreme rigidity and authoritarianism, I suspect this might be happening in a developing nation.

        2. Kobayashi*

          I’m not sure why the questionable comment. Jehovah’s Witnesses are members of a religion. They have a central governing body, but it’s a religion. There are many religions on this planet, and many of them believe some things that would sound a little odd someone not of that religion. Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t take in any where near the kind of money that some other religions do, and they don’t have paid ministers. As their religion is based on the Bible, I’d say they are no more “questionable” than other bible based religions.

    4. Gingerblue*

      This is a truly spectacular level of Not Getting It.

      I’m reminded of the “I tried to bully my older non-drinking colleague out of my company, why are you all so mean to me”, I have an MBA” person in that this person is clearly just writing in to Alison for validation.

            1. Hey Karma, Over here.*

              Take particular note of the statement: “someone on my team reported the [photomocking/bullying] to HR. When I find out who did that, I will that person out of my department.”

        1. MissGirl*

          I don’t remember the link but the good news was the after a lot of back and forth and getting fired, the OP realized she was wrong. She saw she was a bad manager and decided not to go down that career path.

            1. teclatrans*

              lol, I think several of us are linking it. If you don’t want to wait for links to clear moderation, the title is “Is the work environment I’ve created on my team too exclusive?” This one has a somewhat happy ending (transformation, self-awareness), so I highly recommend the updates.

          1. Gingerblue*

            That was actually a different story! I was thinking of the beer run letter which Pebbles mentions. My link’s in moderations at the moment.

          2. Gingerblue*

            That was actually a different story! I was thinking of the beer run letter which Pebbles mentions. My link’s in moderation at the moment.

                1. teclatrans*

                  Oh! I think I *was* mentally conflating the two, probably because they were both really shitty to their employees but eventually actually learned some things about where their bullying was coming from.

              1. Lance*

                The second update in particular, in which OP came to such a realization (after some therapy, for one) and realized/admitted that management is not something they’re suited to or should be in.

                1. Phrunicus*

                  Oh wow. That first update especially was so insanely lacking in self-awareness, glad to see that the harshness of the Chair Leg of Truth seemed to have finally broken through.

          3. MissGirl*

            The one I’m thinking was every Friday the entire department went on a beer run and left the one woman behind to cover for them. Then they were saying unkind things about her on Snap Chat. The manager fully admitted she wanted to force the woman out of the department. OP did realize her error in subsequent updates.

            1. ISuckAtUserNames*

              I don’t think that OP ever did realize her error(s). Every update I read saw her continuing to try to justify her behavior. But I might have missed one if it came after the 8/2017 one linked before.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            Do you know what name the OP uses? I’ve bern searching and can’t find her. 1200+ comments…getting a little daunting.

            1. Gingerblue*

              I can’t remember, and I didn’t search too hard for the same reason! I’m sorry. If you search for comments by Alison, I remember she replied directly to the OP in the comments at least once.

          1. Pebbles*

            I had tried to post the link to the original and knew it would go to moderation, but I still don’t see it so IDK. I probably messed something up. Anyhow, the update links that everyone else posted link back to it, so yay team AaM! :)

      1. JessiBee*

        Except that OP did some soul searching (after the whole situaiton blew up in her face) and realized how wrong her approach had been. This is doubling down on the petty and ignoring the main advice of “OMG, JUST GIVE HER THE NEXT LOGICAL DAY OFF AS YOU DO FOR ALL OTHER STAFF.”

      2. SusanIvanova*

        It’s times like this I’m especially sad that That Bad Advisor isn’t still updating – they took letters that were obviously fishing for justification for their bad behavior and gave them the snarkiest “validation” you could want.

      3. Observer*

        Yes, but that one had a decent employer, who actually took action AND the OP did wake up and smell the coffee. Yes, it took some hard slaps from reality as well as the very blunt responses from Allison and the commenters, but they DID eventually get it.

    5. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want*

      I came to comment as soon as a finished reading #1. I’m so glad everyone else thinks its bananas too…this isn’t even an update. It’s the defense of a manager who didn’t even try to fix the problem.

      1. kbeers0su*

        That’s exactly how I read this. There is no update other than “I’m sticking by my guns on this one for absolutely no logical reason.”

        1. Mimi Me*

          What’s baffling to me is the defense of the policy! By that same thinking the employee shouldn’t even work there because “legally” she’s a child based on her DOB. If the company can recognize that this woman isn’t a child then they can recognize another date for her birthday.

        2. ISuckAtUserNames*

          “And attempting to justify it by saying it’s not illegal and everyone is totally really happy, I swear.”

            1. The New Spider Boss*

              Appreciating these Portal jokes in YOOL 2018 one of those kinda memes that aged like a fine wine.

          1. Anonny*

            Bet the employees are wishing they could tear this boss into pieces and throw every piece into a fire.

      2. serenity*


        The level of defensive cluelessness and rigidity in this “update” is galling. AAM’s commenting policy prohibits me from saying what I really feel at OP1 so I’m just going to move on.

    6. Ladylike*

      Same. It’s ludicrous not to make an exception for someone born on leap year. It’s almost punitive and just bizarre.

      1. Nea*

        It is punitive. Employee gets 1/4 of the perks and recognition that others get in the company, and on top of that, the company (embodied by OP) seems to think that openly resenting this 75% reduction is the problem here.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Right??? “Everyone gets 21 PTO days, except for you, random person. You get 20 days for three years out of four, because you were born on the wrong date. Aside from the issue of oddly complaining about it, you are an excellent employee. No one else has complained about you being one PTO days short, so this is clearly not an issue” WHAAA

      1. Becca*

        Is it just me or is it made *even weirder* by the fact that it’s apparently mandatory? I can’t quite put my thoughts into words, but like… wouldn’t any reason given for it being mandatory be undermined by this? For example, maybe it’s so that nobody sees some people not taking the perk and then feels pressured not to take it themselves. But if you’re then going to use “but she doesn’t technically have a birthday this year” as an excuse to deny one person this then it’s clear you don’t *actually* care that people get a day off…

        I don’t know. Super weird all around.

        1. Kes*

          I kind of get the impression that it’s a very rules based environment, and so they encode these things in rules (including the more usual cases like weekends and holidays) and then that’s what the rules are and everyone must follow them (even though the rules are clearly missing a case and don’t make sense in this context).

          However, I wonder if it’s really the company enforcing this rigidness or if it’s just OP’s mindset and lack of flexibility, since it seems obvious that even if it was the company, most managers would change things or find a way to make things work so that their good employee wasn’t penalized for being born on the wrong day.

          1. Tristan Callan*

            Agreed on on the problem being the OP more than the company. He seems to have no critical thinking skills whatsoever

          2. Becca*

            You’re probably right… I guess I can sort of wrap my head around the callous “everyone gets this thing but you don’t because of your bad luck; sucks to be you.” But “everyone had to do this thing but you can’t even though you want to and we could easily let you” is just insane.

        2. Yet another Sara*

          Yeah, what’s up with the mandatory part? What are they going to do if you come in on your birthday? I get it if it’s a “if you’re going to use the day off, you have to use it on this specific day” thing, but it feels like the LW was saying it’s more than that? And what if your birthday happens to fall during a time of year that’s super busy for the kind of work you do?

          So, so, so many questions

        3. I'm Not Phyllis*

          It would annoy me, tbh. We get a birthday “float day” (and if we don’t use it, we lose it at the end of the year) but I could take this day off in February (my actual birthday is in November) and nobody would care.

          1. Robert*

            It seems so rigid that you couldn’t use it the day after your birthday. I personally like to go for (too many?) drinks on my birthday evening, and would prefer a day after to recover. I’m sure others would want to take it on a Monday or Friday to build a long weekend so they don’t have one weird day off in the middle of the week. ANY flexibility in this would be preferable.

          2. SierraSkiing*

            Same! My company had a birthday float day, but since I was born on Christmas, I always used it for a nice summer picnic.

            (Also, OP’s company would let me take the 26th off instead: so why can’t Leap Year Woman have the day after leap day off???)

        4. Ella Vader*

          In my home town, many of my peers who needed full time jobs right after finishing or leaving high school went to work at a chicken processing plant. It wasn’t pleasant or well-paid work, but if you didn’t have family contacts at the big steel companies, you could still get hired on and work steadily without experience. That employer had a mandatory paid-leave birthday policy, which seemed to be due diligence to avoid young drunk or high employees being unsafe to work in the hazardous environment. Knowing many of the employees and their approach to birthdays, I thought it was a progressive and sensible policy.

          That is one thing in this letter that does make some sense to me.

          1. Talbot*

            You’re right, in that context it does make sense. But a little flexibility wouldn’t be out of order for people who might be “celebrating” on a different day of the week, or start after work and would like the following day off to recover.

      2. Eleven*

        My favorite part is how in the original letter, the OP states that because the gift cards are given out discreetly and there isn’t a formal celebration that the employee “isn’t missing out on anything.” When obviously she is missing out on TANGIBLE benefits. And now we’re doubling down on this approach? This is bonkers! I wonder how this manager would handle someone who’s birthday fell on a holiday like New Year’s Day. I guess by this banana-pants logic they’d still get the gift card (you know, because they have a *real* birthday and not a fantasyland “leap year” birthday), but I wonder if they’d still get the day off on the 2nd.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I missed that part in the original letter. It makes no sense! My company does not announce it when we get paid, either. Does this mean that, if it skips giving me a paycheck or two, that I am not missing out on anything? you know, because the paychecks are being given to us discreetly? Honestly, it sounds like it would be way easier on everyone if, instead of these crazy leaps of mental gymnastics to justify not giving Leap Day Employee her day off and gift card, they would just give her the day off and the gift card.

          1. Eleven*

            “There wasn’t any fanfare about the paychecks, so it’s not like you’re losing out on anything!” How maddening this is!

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          They definitely get the 2nd off. According to OP, if your birthday falls on the weekend or a holiday, you get the next working day off. And you still get the gift card and name-recognition on the cake.

        3. Pebbles*

          There’s some frosting missing on that cake though without the employee’s name on it…just saying I like sugar, that’s all.

        4. iglwif*

          Yes, that is maybe the most bonkers part of the original letter — the idea that a public announcement is what makes a day off and gift card valuable???

          I know a lot of people who prefer not to have co-workers make A Big Thing of their birthday, who don’t like or can’t eat cake, etc., but not a single one of them would turn down a day off and a gift card! (Even if you don’t like the dining options offered by the gift card, that’s a nice gift for someone else who does that you don’t have to buy. My oenophile BIL and SIL have received and enjoyed a lot of nice bottles of wine that Spouse or I got as gifts and didn’t really want.)

    8. RMNPgirl*

      Also the OP said she’s a good worker besides “this one issue.” OP is the one making it an issue by treating this person differently than everyone else!
      If this policy existed at my job and I was told one of my staff could only have their birthday off every 4 years, I would be fighting tooth and nail for them or I would just give them a day off and gift card and deal with the consequences myself!

      1. NerdyKris*

        This is like the manager who wanted to lecture a great employee who quit because he wouldn’t give her three hours off to go to her graduation.

          1. Observer*

            I’m pretty sure that one didn’t respond. But, honestly given how everyone responded, it’s not surprising.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              I have had such a yearning for an update to that particular letter since it was published.

              ::sad disappointed face::

    9. Hello.*

      So… by this logic since she only has a birthday every 4 years, and I am guessing she is probably around 40, does that mean you are technically employing a 10 year old? This is absolutely ridiculous and I would be very upset too. She didn’t choose what day she was born on. Just ask her which day she likes to celebrate her birthday during non-leap years, whether it is February 28th or March 1st and let her celebrate her birthday and have the day off then. This really isn’t rocket science.

      1. Hello.*

        I never would have thought that we would need anti-birthday discrimination laws but here we are now. Also, is it actually illegal to be a Jehovah’s Witness in Canada? Now I am really curious about that.

          1. Also Canadian*

            Also Canadian, and I can confirm this- it is NOT considered a cult, and I have no idea where OP1 got that idea. Also, thanks OP1, for embarrassing the nation internationally!

            1. Kathleen_A*

              The OP is Canadian, but he/she says he’s working outside of North America. So it’s somewhere else where it’s illegal to be JW, and that kind of blows my mind, too.

              1. Blueberry*

                Seems like a lot of the countries that have made the religion illegal do so because the followers refuse to engage in mandatory military service.

              2. Copenhagen*

                A quick Google search tells me, that being a Jehova’s Witness is illegal in Russia and Singapore.

                1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

                  I’m pretty sure the company is in Russia. JW is illegal in China, Russia, most of the Arab world, and Singapore – but the LW’s language about how JW are outlawed because they are a cult? That is pure Putin. (Actually, so’s all of the stuff about complainers being punished, morale being sky-high because nobody complains, and the company being the best and most successful, despite it clearly being a nightmare salt mine run by insane sadists).

                2. AKchic*

                  It explains why when I read the update, I read with a really weird Russian accent. Granted, I’ve been dealing with a friend who has been doing some weird performance art stuff lately, but still…

                3. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

                  I was thinking more along the lines of:

                  “Sorry, I cannot take passport. Birthdate is not real.”



                  “Glory to Arstotzka.”

            2. OlympiasEpiriot*

              a) It is likely Russia; but,

              b) note that JW’s were interned in Canada during WWII just like Japanese-Canadians and political “enemies” were. It was still illegal for them to pass out their literature until the 1970’s, at least in Quebec. That is pretty recent and there’s probably a lot of residual anti-JW bigotry.

              1. Roger*

                I don’t know if it is illegal, but I know that there have been issues with JW’s in France. OP could be French Canadian…. Would explain the stubbornness.

                1. Equestrian Attorney*

                  You realize French Canadians haven’t been part of France since 1759, right? Whether JW is illegal in France (I believe it is considered a cult over there) has no bearing whatsoever on French Canadians. What an unpleasant comment.
                  Signed, married to French Canadian and living in Montreal.

              2. A.J.*

                Based on quick googling/wiki-ing, it was classified as a cult in France as recently as the 90s/00s.

                Everything about this is so bizarre.

        1. AnyaT*

          OP1 said she is Canadian but based elsewhere. Jehovah Witnesses are not illegal in Canada. Apparently some countries like Russia, Singapore & China have outlawed the religion.

          1. Doug Judy*

            Well if it’s one of those places, the inflexible rigidity to this “rule” seems par for the course.

          2. StellaBella*

            Yes, in places like Germany there are laws for example, on cults, look up in wikipedia the Freedom of Religion in Germany article, it notes JWs specifically because of their not participating in German society (public law issues, state elections, would not respect the Grundgesetz).

            1. Mikasa*

              Weird. We also got thrown in concentration camps for not supporting Hitler. Us being called a cult hurts me so much to read….

              1. Zillah*

                I was about to say that, too. That policy being a thing in Germany is pretty chilling.

                Also, lots of sympathy – I wouldn’t like being told I’m in a cult, either. :(

              2. ISuckAtUserNames*

                The persecution of JW’s throughout history is pretty chilling, particularly since the objections to them seem to be largely jingoistic.

                1. selena81*

                  The recent objections here in the Netherlands are about them NOT handing child-abusers to authorities and shushing the victims.
                  When a child complains the rapist gets a ‘trial’ from local leaders, which would usually go like ‘if you repent then we will all pretend this never happened’ (just don’t be gay or cheat on your wife: those crimes get you banned from the community)

                  The more common complaint is that they should leave people alone already, and not use their children to pressure people to let them in.

                2. RealAnonForThis*


                  Yes, someone I had a serious relationship with many years ago grew up as JW who could and did attest to the lack of consequences to child abusers in their midst as they & their sibling had been victims of multiple abusers as children.

              3. Anja*

                To clarify, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a banned cult in Germany. The religious organization is not, however, recognized as a “public law corporation” in all states (in 2011 it was recognized by 13 federal states, there’s a couple of hold-outs) – this is what allows things like the ability to hire clergy, levy tithes to be collected on their behalf by the state, etc. This is because of things around blood transfusions for children, strict educational practices, etc.

                Per the International Religious Freedom Report for 2011 by the US Department of State – Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor says about Germany’s status of government respect for religious freedom: Religious organizations are not required to register with the state, and groups may organize themselves for private religious purposes without constraint. Religious organizations that wish to qualify as nonprofit associations with tax exempt status
                must register. State level authorities review registration submissions and routinely
                grant tax-exempt status, and if challenged their decisions are subject to judicial
                review. Organizations that apply for tax-exempt status must provide evidence
                through their statutes, history, and activities that they are a religious group.

                So basically the church itself may not be recognized as a religious a not for profit everywhere, but the people are able to freely practice their religion. At least within the last some decades.

        2. mynona*

          I think OP is Canadian, but employed outside Canada/US. Weed is legal in Canada so we’re down with the JW too.

        3. teclatrans*

          That seems…highly unlikely. Is the OP actually in Canada? If so, they are very out of touch with norms and objective reality.

          1. teclatrans*

            Ah! I missed that OP is based elsewhere. Maybe somewhere that is much more rigid in its approach to policy? I admit I am tempted to Google search for which countries label JW a banned cult.

            1. StellaBella*

              See my note above:
              Yes, in places like Germany there are laws for example, on cults, look up in wikipedia the Freedom of Religion in Germany article, it notes JWs specifically because of their not participating in German society (public law issues, state elections, would not respect the Grundgesetz).

              1. Julia*

                Altough I know a few JWs in Germany who have never reported any issues to me. Not saying there aren’t any.
                I don’t think this is Germany, though. German labor law is pretty employee-friendly and I can’t see the co-workers not protesting that treatment of a leap year born colleague.

        4. Carrotstick21*

          They are from Canada, but do not work in Canada. I am guessing they are in the Soviet Union or Spain, based on google results.

          1. R.D.*

            Likely not Spain. In Spain, like Germany, mentioned about, the person who has the birthday brings the cake.

        5. dahanaha*

          It is definitely NOT illegal to be Jehovahs Witness in Canada. I went to school with many people of that faith and know people who are still involved. (I am a Canadian in Canada)

        6. Becca*

          No, OP says they work in a 3rd country that is neither the US no Canada. There does seem to be a few countries where JW are restricted or banned.

        7. I'm Not Phyllis*

          No, it’s not. I live in Canada and we have a temple down the street. Freedom of religion, for the win!

        8. Cacwgrl*

          Thank you for asking! I literally scrolled to the comments to see if this is a real thing. I’ll go back to reading the article again…

      2. Coldfeet*

        Yes, if the person only has a birthday every four years, then this is likely child labour. OP1 should report the company to the authorities, as they clearly care about “the law”.

        1. Hello.*

          I just want to find this poor person and make her so many birthday cakes. With her gosh darn name on them.

          1. Ellen*

            This! I want to shower the girl with cakes and gift cards (preferably in front of her coworkers and terrible manager).

        2. AFPM*

          I was thinking the exact same thing. How old do they consider this employee to be? What on earth is happening?

    10. Dust Bunny*

      OK, cool, I was just getting on here to make sure OP1’s update was as infuriating as I thought it was.

            1. Ex-Academic, Future Accountant*

              My job is not “team lead”; that title’s dripping with banality.
              My views are based on calendars and rooted in reality!

              1. iglwif*

                I’m very well acquainted with minutiae of legality,
                And quote the office policy with no originality;
                My righteous indignation too is quite without humanity,
                I seethe when Ask A Manager suggests it is insanity!

      1. Bookslinger*

        +1 for Connie Willis/time travel reference!

        That said, this is crazy town. Let me get this straight. Employees whose birthday falls on a non-work day take the following day off. However, Leap Year Employee’s birthday falls once every four years, therefore, *instead of celebrating it logically on the closest day* you choose to deny the time off. Why is it so hard to ask the employee to pick a day (Feb. 28 or Mar. 1) to celebrate on the years when there is no leap year? This is bad for morale. I’d be looking for another position with a more fair and less crazy company if I was Leap Year Employee since the company clearly doesn’t value Leap Year Employee enough to be given full compensation.

        1. PlushPenguin*

          And I’m having a hard time believing none of the other employees noticing _this person never takes their birthday off_.

            1. V*

              Yeah, this really reads as (robot voice): “February 29th, 2018 does not compute. No benefits transmitted. Benefits will be transmitted February 29th, 2020.”

              1. Eleven*

                This is so funny! I shared this story with my SO and his response was “how literal can a person possibly be!?”

              2. Inca*

                I do feel for the robots though. Leap years have been the cause of so many crashes and bugs in the software we maintained… it’s an insane system. Try to decide in which month the person born on a leap year turns 18 or other legally important boundaries, is it February or March? (I can’t remember the actual definitions which we had to look up, but in some cases you have to treat the birthday as if it were March 1st and other cases as if it is the last day of February.)
                But, you know, we would fix the software when it came up, rather than discriminating people and cutting them out of benefits.

                PS, don’t get me started on week numbers and the difference between US and ISO definition.

        2. Yorick*

          If my boss did this to my coworker, I’d be pretty worried about what bizarre thing would happen to me next.

    11. Amber T*

      Also, it doesn’t have to be illegal to be crappy, so stressing “we’re not doing anything illegal” makes it sound even more sketchy and out of touch. This is extremely disappointing, OP1. There are guaranteed others who feel slighted because they don’t fit in the “norm.”

      1. NCKat*

        I know OP1 is not in North America, but what if her company decided to give more generous PTO that is required by law? Surely it’s not a matter of national policy to make an employee take their birthday off only every four years if they are born on February 29. That is ridiculous and petty.

      2. Kes*

        Yeah this is definitely one of those situations where OP goes ‘but what we’re doing is not illegal!!’ and everyone reading goes ‘yes, but it’s still shitty’

      3. Zillah*

        I feel like when someone says, “Well, it’s not illegal!” completely unprompted, it usually means that they’re behaving pretty poorly.

        1. Totally Minnie*

          Right? Nobody says “it’s not illegal so we won’t get in trouble for it” unless they know the thing they’re doing is upsetting. I’ve literally never heard anyone say “There are cookies in the breakroom for everyone, but it’s not illegal so we won’t get in trouble for it!”

      4. Don'tSendYourKidstoHudsonUniversity*

        And frankly, making a generally “not illegal” choice can become a serious legal issue when you single a person out for different treatment citing an arbitrary or capricious reason with no basis in business need. Multiply that risk by 1,000 when that employee is also a member of a protected class. (I know LW is not in the U.S. so this may not be a super relevant point)

    12. MotherRunner*

      Same. I am irrationally angry about this, even though it does not affect me at all. It’s so ludicrous that i can’t even deal with it.

      1. Bionerd*

        Me too. I have an irrational amount of anger about this given that it does not affect me, and I don’t know these people.

    13. Jen*

      I am a Leapling myself and so have a dirty lens here, but this is just insane. Companies who who birthday promotions easily accommodate mine, as do government programs and similar. OP reminds me of middle schoolers who used to tease me for not having a birthday. This is just absurd.

      I Don’t even really celebrate my birthday but this arbitrary meanness makes me angry.

        1. Leslie*

          Honestly, every good manager I’ve ever had would notice the potential problem with unacknowledged person ahead of time, talked to senior leadership, and made sure that ALL the people on their team were acknowledged equally, without it even being a topic. The mediocre managers might not have noticed, but would have gone to bat over it if I brought it to their attention. It’s about being a good leader of people, not about enforcing the most-granular definition of the rules.

          And I say all this as someone who has a near-major-holiday birthday. Not leap year, but most people typically take my birthday off as PTO, and the office is a ghost town if you go in. In workplaces where birthdays got cupcakes, mine typically got forgotten, but that was no big deal. But in workplaces where they did cards or gift cards, the good managers made sure that I wasn’t forgotten. And when it was forgotten by more mediocre managers, I had a couple of cases where a co-worker suddenly said at the end of the year, “wait, when was your birthday?” …and then I think that co-worker brought it to the manager’s attention, who did something extra at year-end to offset and made sure it wasn’t forgotten in the next year. Never worked anywhere that they gave people their birthdays off, but–bottom line is, this isn’t a problem with the employee. As everyone else is saying, this is a problem with the leadership, OP included, who are actively pushing an unequal, unkind approach with this person.

    14. Aphrodite*

      Wow, OP#1. You make your company (and yourself) sound so nasty, vindictive and petty that I can hardly believe it. What kind of mind came up with this? People have to take the actual day off unless it falls on a weekend or holiday yet a leap year baby can’t take the closest day of? Why don’t you assign her birthday for your company’s purposes to be February 28? That would at least solve everything from your official, and apparently rigid-as-hell, policy?

      1. Cassandra*

        Yep. OP1, your behavior toward this employee is awful and your company is awful for aiding and abetting it and “it’s legal!” is not even CLOSE to justifying it…

        … and I’m terrifically glad I do not work for you or your company.

      2. LKW*

        Agreed. This is how I read it:

        99% of your employees get a day of PTO per year, but one employee gets .25 days a year because of things completely and totally outside of the employees’ control (birth date). It is entirely within your power to rectify this situation and make it equivalent for all employees. You choose not to because it’s not illegal to deny your employee the remaining .75.

        That’s your justification? Because it’s not illegal and she’ can’t sue?

    15. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      LW #1 – As of this moment there are 325 comments in the comments section. Looking through it seems like 95% of them are about your letter – and not a single person is on your side. Not one single person thinks you have ANY kind of a defense. Honestly I don’t think a single person was on your side in the initial letter. You’ve got to read the room here. You are WRONG.

      1. ScienceLady*

        Seriously, if this were a scientific study where the null hypothesis is “LW #1 is right” and the experimental hypothesis is “LW #1 is perplexingly, infuriatingly wrong”, the null hypothesis would be rejected with a p-value of >0.01.

      2. ISuckAtUserNames*

        This was definitely one of those updates that had my eyebrows climbing into my hair. We don’t seem to often get updates from LW’s who get taken to task by Alison and/or the comments, but why does it seem like, when we do, they always double down? I hope I’m misremembering, but it would be refreshing to have one come back and be all “Mea culpa. I fixed it!” Or even “I’m trying to do better!”

        1. Fibchopkin*

          We did have that one who treated employee unfairly b/c she was jealous. There was BAAAAD fallout for the OP, and the OP totally owned it, admitted their mistake, and their best to get help and do better.


          Actually, I’d love another update from that OP- If you still come around and read comments, old OP, I’m rooting for you and your recovery, as well as your foray into a new field!

        2. whingedrinking*

          No kidding. Remember the “I ghosted on a woman who’s now my manager” guy? The one who wrote back griping about how toxic the commentariat were for saying he’d behaved badly and acting as though it was unfair for him to lose his job, even though he’d actually decided in the end to quit?

    16. JustAClarifier*

      I agree. I cannot comprehend the stance being taken by the OP on this situation and how blatantly unfair it is to that poor employee. It reminds me of how some people justify their prejudice or behavior by hiding behind their interpretation of guidelines. Actually, it reminds me a lot of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

    17. Leah*

      can we nominate this manager to the Worse Manager Of The Year award? because I feel like they more than deserve to have a spot on that list. even if it’s just an honorable mention. what on earth.

      1. Ruth*

        AGREED. If you can differentiate between “people born on Saturday get it off” to “the calendar doesn’t say her birthday happened so she didn’t get a year older so she loses one day’s worth of vacation time that literally everyone else gets and I don’t know why it bothers her”

        ugh. Nomination for sure.

        1. Ruth*

          (I know that normally LWs don’t get nominated but … this follow-up is so thoughtlessly cruel and smug that LW is clearly not learning)

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        I said thus up/down thread but someone reminded me that Alison fiesnt do that with the LW’s. If ever a LW deserved it…


    18. sammy_two*

      “If there was I could see her point, but since everything is done quietly/privately, she is not losing out on anything.”
      YES. SHE. IS. She is not getting a paid day off every year like EVERYONE else. And to call this woman unprofessional for calling it out and wanting exactly what everyone else gets, that’s the unprofessional behavior in this situation. So you’ll be volunteering to give up your day off since it doesn’t really matter then, right? SMH

      1. Zillah*

        Seriously. Benefits aren’t benefits because they’re loudly talked about, they’re benefits because they make my life better. There’s not an organization-wide email informing us when people work from home, but having that option when I’m a little under the weather is amazing.

      2. Nita*

        The lack of her name on the cake is not private! Frankly, the whole thing seems like a very arbitrary slap in the face. It wouldn’t kill anyone in management to just be “nice” (I’d rather say “fair,” but OP has some odd notions about fairness) and acknowledge the fact that this employee is getting one year older every year, just like everyone else.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Also as to the gift cards, dies OP think the employee doesn’t know that her coworkers get them? Does she not notice not being included in the birthday cake thing? OP is a piece of work.

    19. lisakoby*

      OP1 – this may not be illegal but it is a very odd and arguably inequitable application of the policy. Also I’m Canadian (and in HR) and we are part of North America (not outside of North America) . I’m hoping you meant you’re a Canadian that is based elsewhere in the world (like actually outside of North America) We have freedom of religious expression in Canada and Jehovah’s Witnesses are not ‘banned’ in any province or territory.

      1. MoopySwarpet*

        At least not since 1943. They also rank as #18 out of 86,000 registered charities in Canada. So . . . sounds like quite the opposite of banned.

        Although, it seems like the LW might not be currently living/working in Canada. As crazy as they are, I wouldn’t be surprised if the company believed Canada was not part of North America and Jehovah’s Witnesses are (still) banned.

    20. DaffyDuck*

      Yeah, the employee only gets 1/4 of the benefit that all other employees at the company get. The LW acts like it is no big deal, but a paid day off and a gift card for a meal out is a pretty nice treat for most employees. The fact that she doesn’t get that 3/4 of the time is definitely discriminatory and the employee should be compensated as if her birthday was the day before the leap year.

    21. Not A Manager*

      “She has known about the birthday policy since February of 2016 and has been bringing it up ever since.”

      Gee, I wonder why.

      “She has complained but has not looked for another job (the market is niche and specialized).”

      So you’ll mistreat her until she does? You’ll hold her hostage because she doesn’t have a lot of opportunities?

      “Morale is high at the firm.”

      I’ll just bet it is.

      “Turnover among employees is low. Many people want to work here.”

      Maybe because it’s hard to find a job elsewhere?

      “Aside from this one issue she is a good worker.”

      What does that even mean? Aside from the fact that she wants to be treated fairly, otherwise she’s a good worker?

      If she would write to Alison about this, the reply would be “your manager sucks and isn’t going to change.”

      1. SignalLost*

        Hard disagree on your last point there. It should read “Your manager sucks and is totally going to double down on their suckiness.”

      2. Silence ain't Golden*

        If I had a manager like this, I wouldn’t tell her that I was job-hunting. I sincerely hope the employee is actively looking for another position and then burns y’all down on the way out the door. Wasn’t there a letter once about an employee who scattered dead fish everywhere? I hope this employee does something just as glorious.

    22. StatingtheObvious*

      +1 +1 +1 +1 ad infinitum

      OP1 sounds hella defensive and the strict adherence to the policy is nothing short of ridiculous…

    23. Artemesia*

      My jaw dropped. I assumed that it was one nutty manager or a mistake in the original letter. This is a level of ridiculous that is unfathomable. So she loses a day off a year although those whose birthday fall on the weekend can take Monday off? I hope her peers all gather round and sing songs from the Pirates of Penzance every year on February 28. Her managers all the way to the top should all be fired and the organization start over with people who have the sense of a banana.

    24. Funbud*

      Scene at OP 1’s company when they were setting this birthday policy:

      “Let’s see.. we can’t discriminate against the blacks. Or women. Or Jews…I know! Let’s discriminate against people born on Leap Year! I hate those people! They think they are so special. SO ENTITLED! No birthday recognition for them!”

      “Next topic…Jehovah’s Witnesses. NOT in my workplace!”

    25. Tigger*

      Is it sad I want to send leap year worker 2 huge gift baskets (one on 2/28 and 3/1) to her office and have it signed “the AAM comment section” so her petty manager has to see her open it?

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Yup. If anyone figures how to to this, I am totally in.


          ** 9th not 29th…thanks to all the deities.

      1. ANon.*

        Would contribute. Not (just) to spite OP/the company, but because the employee seems like she could really use the birthday well wishes.

        Alison, any way to make this happen?

    26. Honeebee*

      If the OP truly believes that receiving a gift card and having a paid day off is “no big deal,” why don’t they donate their b-day gift card and paid day off to the employee? I also have great trouble in believing the OP’s statement that, “employee morale is very high.” If they are this out of touch and lacking so badly in the area of common sense regarding basic employee and human relations, I doubt that they are capable of correctly gauging morale or otherwise. I would also question the OP and other manager’s judgment in any decision making capacity given their horrible judgment shown here. What else are they blundering and using their willful ignorance through?

    27. Lauren*

      – Yes, it is legal to do this.
      – Yes, she can opt for another job.
      – Yes, her boss sucks by giving everyone else a perk except her. (If your employee was the one writing to Alison, I can see her advice being – yes, it legal, it is unfair, and i’m sorry your boss sucks.)
      – She knows it.
      – Your other employees know it.

      Those other employees are most likely higher level and not as disposable as you’ve deemed this new grad. . Is morale high because those other employees don’t realize you are excluding her? If they knew, would they call her petty? Or will those other employees use this information to question your judgement / management to make their decisions about their careers. It may seem petty to you, but these small things add up over time and that is when most people quit – the last instance. It’s a niche as you said, and those other employers out there may be really awesome and poach your employees.

      You should reconsider your stance because as Alison said in her original response, “You two are wrong, she is right, and you should remedy this and apologize to her for mishandling it.”

    28. curtangel*

      I couldn’t believe it! Its so wild when people double down like this! I hope someone finally gets through to her that this is completely ridiculous. There is NO DIFFERENCE between giving an employee with a weekend birthday a weekday off and giving this employee a day off for her unusual birthday.

    29. Miso*

      I LOVE my birthday and always take the day off if possible and it’s on the first of March. I was actually born in the middle of the day, but I was so overdue, I could have easily be born on the 29th – I feel personally offended by this!

    30. Totally Minnie*

      Yeah, OP1, this is still a garbage way to execute this policy. Give your freaking Leap Day employee March 1 off every year and stop trying to rules-lawyer-gaslight her into believing she doesn’t deserve it. What you and your company are doing right now is a jerk move, so maybe you want to face up to that.

    31. BM*

      Kinda think OP1 is a bad manager for being this kind of a stickler… like if everyone else gets it; why wouldn’t you give her her birthday off for something completely out of her control?!

    32. Thrown into the fire new manager*

      I refuse to believe that this is a real letter. No one in their right mind could believe that someone born on a leap year gets their birthday off once every four years… And then defend company policy behind it. It just can’t be real

    33. RLJ*

      I have nothing intelligent to add. This is the weirdest hill to die on. The hell she couldn’t find a better job.

    34. ManderGimlet*

      I honestly do have some words: OP 1, you sound irrational and punitive and dying on such a STUPID hill. Were I your manager I would have serious qualms about your decision making skills and frankly think that you have other personal issues with this employee and have found an outrageously petty way to take them out on her. Your doubling down on trying to paint employee as some sort of trouble maker would further lead me to this conclusion. You sound like you don’t understand how a calendar works and as though her request would require the tearing of space/time to give her a day off when in fact there is a system already in place to ensure all employees get a day off for their birthday. Get someone you trust to read the letters you’ve sent in and give you an honest assessment of your thought process on this subject.

    35. Shelley McKibbon*

      OP1– for the record, I am Canadian too and i think this is the stupidest policy i have ever heard of.

    36. darsynia*

      I can NOT believe they doubled down on that utter nonsense. I was born on March 1 and missed being a leap year baby by exactly a year (1980 was the leap year), and I used to LONG to have been born on such a cool day.

      Today is the first day I’ve ever thought it was less than cool–EXCEPT NOPE, I still think it’s cool. It’s the crazypants as heck boss that doesn’t.

      The key to this being absolutely bonkers is the way they say that if the person’s birthday falls on a weekend, they must take the next day off. Except, I guess, if there wasn’t that day on the calendar? I mean, couldn’t you just treat the day as though it fell on the weekend?

      I just feel like this is a way to belittle someone, to show power over them, and to save the pithy, minuscule amount of money they’ll save by not shelling out for a gift card. Your employee should quit, and you should feel bad.

    37. Kisses*

      She is essentially punishing the employee due to the day they were born. What a terrible thing to do.

    38. AutumnAlmanac*

      Why not just say “everyone gets their birthday off, with pay, unless they wish to work that day, in which case they get a day off in lieu”. Even that’s rather odd, but it’s less insane than the situation in the OP. You MUST take your birthday off? WTF?

    39. Grey*

      I just wish I knew who this woman was so I could send a giant birthday card and balloons to her office on March 1st just to make a point.

      Her employer really needs to understand the difference between birthday and birth date.

    40. Zennish*

      I think, in general, whenever you offer a “perk” in a way that causes staff to be angry, resentful or question your sanity, it’s possible that you’re doing it wrong.

    41. pleaset*

      Dove is spot on: “Frankly, when the best thing you can say about a policy is that it’s not *actually* illegal, there’s some questions to be raised about why one is trying so hard to defend it.”


    42. Nonsensical*

      Op1: This has nothing to do with legality. This is about common sense. She has a birthday every single year. You are not acknowledging her and treating her less than everyone else. I do not understand how you continue to dismiss her behavior as petty when you’re being the unreasonable one. You’ve been called out and you just argue defending about how the company is a great place to work for.

      The company is not a great place to work for if they’re so wrapped up in technicalities that they get caught up in the wording of the policy. You should have her pick which day she prefers to recognize her birthday on and then let hr take that off in every non leap year. This is literally insane. You are completely over the line and she is good performer. Why would you treat someone this way if you know she is a high performer?

    43. Sketchee*

      “This is in line with the policy.”

      This is a bad policy and the coworker should continue to push back until it’s changed.

      Commenters understand the policy. It’s a completely unreasonable one.

    44. Annonymouse*

      I love it when people cite policy as if it just appeared out of thin air. UPDATE THE POLICY TO INCLUDE LEAP YEAR BIRTHDAYS.

    45. Stephanie*

      I know, right?

      “It’s legal.” Sure, but I’d argue it’s not ethical. And seems downright discriminatory. Again, probably not where you are, since it’s “legal.” If you’re standing on the reason because it’s perfectly legal to pass your employee over every 3 years, I’d hate to see what else you limit because it’s legal.

  1. LCH*

    Dear updater #1, I think Alison’s advice still stands in full: “What?! She doesn’t only have a birthday every four years — she has one every year like everyone else… it’s absolutely unfair and wrong for your office to give her fewer days off than other people because of this. ” get it together. you are being needlessly pedantic and stingy.

      1. Hamstergirl*

        I would bet anything that she is job searching… OP1 is not the kind of boss you’d tell about your job search until it was done.

          1. bloody mary bar*

            Thank you for making me snort at work.

            Yes, just because no one else is actively complaining about an issue that only affects this one employee means that everyone agrees with this completely bonkers policy.

      2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        The tone is so bizarre. She basically wrote in to say (read this in your bossiest young Hermione Granger voice) “Well ACTUALLY, you just didn’t understand what I was saying. Once you understand you will see that I’m right”. Ummm.. no. We all understood perfectly. This company is being incredibly, inconceivably petty and cruel. The fact that they don’t make a fuss about the cake being out does not take away from the fact that you are unfairly depriving this employee of compensation that everyone else gets.

        1. ContentWrangler*

          Don’t taint the great Hermione Granger with a comparison to OP1 (I kid) But seriously – Hermione is capable of understanding nuance and equity. If your only defense is parroting “It’s policy” and “It’s not illegal” – then you have failed basic empathy and common sense.

        2. JustAClarifier*

          If we want to go full Granger here, maybe someone should explain to the OP the science behind why we just SAY the Leap Year happens every 4 years, but in actuality it does, in fact, occur on a smaller scale on a yearly basis. Especially since they’re so intent on being literal in their interpretations. After all, a true Granger would want to know all of the Facts.

          1. ScienceLady*

            We can go even further and point LW #1 to the year 1752, in which the Gregorian calendar (which is the calendar in common use around the world) skipped 11 days to match with the now-defunct Julian calendar! September 3 – 13 were skipped that year – perhaps all of those birthdays should be ignored as well, to be consistent with history.

              1. darsynia*

                Hearts in my eyes, right here. Even as I write Harry Potter fanfiction (don’t worry, it’s not on my resume, despite my stories being actually pretty popular!) in the other tab.

    1. fposte*

      Yeah, I’m not seeing what the OP feels a need to defend against here–the whole business model is set for people to have this one day off a year, so what’s the loss in letting this employee have her off-year birthdays off?

        1. fposte*

          I will echo the OP’s words to her: this manager should be “focusing on work issues and not something as small as a birthday.”

          It’s small until you refuse to give it to her. Then it’s clearly big for both of you.

          1. FaintlyMacabre*

            Yes. It’s like when you ask someone not to do something, and they say ‘it’s not a big deal” and refuse to change their behavior. If it’s not a big deal, why are you doubling down on it?

            1. Someone Else*

              I hate when this type of thing comes up at work “it’s so small, why do you care?” “if it’s so small, why are you refusing to change?” and then it goes in circles until someone quits.

        2. FuzzFrogs*

          I just checked the math, and this employee won’t even have 18 birthdays until she’s 72 years old. Maybe this office should ask the hiring manager why she hired a minor.

          1. tink*

            Oh thank goodness I’m not the only one snarkily thinking about “why’d y’all hire a minor then?”

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s pretty disappointing that OP seems incapable of accepting that their practice is awful, unkind, and unempathetic. Doubling down on the policy is additionally disappointing and short-sighted. I hope the employee takes her excellent work to an employer that understands why this entire situation is a ridiculous hill for OP to die on.

    2. PB*

      Yeah. OP1 is literally canceling her employee’s birthday. From the sound, she didn’t take Alison’s advice at all. Her employee gets a birthday only once every four years. As a result, she gets 1/4 of a benefit that everyone else in the company gets. In addition, OP continues to see the employee complaining about this as “an issue.”

      OP, if people who have their birthday over the weekend get the next day off, you should let this employee have March 1 off.

      1. teclatrans*

        From the sound of this update, I have to wonder if OP was turning to Alison for validation of their stance, not actually seeking advice. It reminds me, in tone, of the manager who wouldn’t let their employee off for her graduation and expected support from Ask a Manager (but, hoo boy, did not get it).

        1. Lance*

          That’s sure what it sounds like to me as well. Not least of all for letting other employees getting the first workday off after their birthday if their birthday falls on a weekend; okay, so why can’t the same effectively hold true for a date that ‘doesn’t exist’, as it were, and, as someone else said, just give them March 1 (or the next work day) on non-leap years?

          It’s doubling down on a stance that doesn’t make sense and is, frankly, alienating this particular employee.

        2. Hummus*

          I bet they are cousins.

          One of my bffs was born on Feb. 29. She celebrates March 1 most years, and you bet she would be asking for her day off and her gift card!

          According to this policy, I would often get the Monday after Thanksgiving off, which could be up to four days after my actual birthday. How is that less weird than an employee taking her birthday benefit on March 1?

          1. Chris Miller*

            I’d be so tempted to sit there going “I can’t wait to finish work so I can celebrate my birthday…”

            1. Totally Minnie*

              Dude. If it was me, I’d show up to work on March 1st of every non-leap year in a “birthday girl” sash and tiara, with a bundle of balloons to tie at my desk.

        3. Walter White Walker*

          Agree. This isn’t so much an update as it is a “Um, actually…” about why OP1 is technically correct.

      2. CleverName*

        Exactly! Since they get the first working day off if their birthday falls on the weekend or holiday, then this Leap Year person should, too! And they should get the gift card!

        The stance that she only has a birthday every four years is completely nutso.

      3. darsynia*

        It’s almost like saying they don’t do birthday perks for gingers because they don’t believe they have a soul. It’s at *that* level of ridiculous.

        My husband thinks the letter writer is making it up and is a troll, heh.

    3. jb*

      Considering that they allow people to take a different day off if their birthday falls on a weekend or holiday, the solution seems obvious: Give her off the working day closest to 2/28 or 3/31.

      I call shenanigans on this whole thing.

    4. Sara*

      Its also not just a day off, but a gift card that everyone else gets and she does not get! That’s ridiculous! She’s being needlessly punished for something outside of her control.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      Oh come on, what’s the problem? People love to work there. “Morale is high at the firm. Turnover among employees is low. Many people want to work here.” The leap year birthday employee is lucky that they even allow her to work there. OP’s defense of the policy rung rather Trumpian to me.

    6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      If the employee came to this job right after college, OP #1, and “she only has a birthday every four years,” does that mean you think she is six years old? If so, by your logic, you are illegally employing a minor.

      If you think you’re NOT employing a minor, and your employee was not born in 1944 or earlier, then she has obviously had a birthday every year since her birth.

      1. SignalLost*

        No, because she only has a birthday every four years when it comes to a benefit. When it comes to child labor laws, she’s had birthdays every year. The mutual incompatibility of those positions is nothing to worry about. Drink the cognitive-dissonance Kool-Aid until it all makes sense.

    7. NowWhat??*

      I agree, this wasn’t an update. This was a defense for your original behavior. And going by your own logic of her only having a birthday every four years, aren’t you violating a large amount of child labor laws? In your previous letter you mentioned she was a recent grad, so at most she can be 5-8 years old in your mind!

      But you don’t consider her an elementary school aged child. You consider her an adult which is why you employ her and think of her as a good worker. If the governments of multiple countries can adapt voting laws, drivers licenses, age of candidacy, and ability to join the military to account for February 29, I am absolutely positive your company can add an extra line of text to the policy or apply it to what you consider her actual age.

    8. CB212*

      She still has a birthday! She ages, she has a day where her mother probably calls and acknowledges the anniversary of her delivery, there’s probably a cake! Everyone has a birthday, regardless of the insufficiency of the calendar. I am incredulous that OP1 refuses to give a paid day off and gift to a single employee because of the arbitrary number of a day.

    9. Em Dash*

      Yeah, OP1…it looks like you got defensive about various minutiae in the comments and failed to grasp the heart of Alison’s advice. You are giving her less compensation than other employees get, for something that is completely out of her control.

      If you’re this pedantic on the birthday issue, I shudder to think what your management style is like in other areas.

      1. Bostonian*

        Yeah, I found the first few paragraphs oddly defensive, especially the part about having to clarify that she was the manager. OP’s literal words from the original letter are “an employee on my team”. Why OP’s so butt hurt that not everybody understood that to mean the manager is beyond me.

        And… no, we weren’t “unclear on the policy”. We understand it loud and clear, and the way you’re not implementing it with this one employee is horrible.

        1. Blue*

          Yeah, it’s like she decided that no one really understood the situation and thus all responses were to be completely disregarded. I would be so salty all the time if I were this employee, just on principle.

    10. ProgrammerDude*

      Based on this, it seems like the company thinks she’s only 1/4 her age. I wonder what they’d do if she started asking them about child labor laws.
      Worker: So according to you, I’m underage.
      HR: What? No!
      Worker: But you JUST said that my birthdays don’t exist.

    11. OlympiasEpiriot*

      What if the person came from a country with a totally different calendar system? Like what if their birth certificate was written in the Jewish calendar (which is used by many in Israel alongside the Gregorian, it is one of the official calendars) and if, for instance, their birthdate read “10 Nisan 5750”? Would they then ALSO get no birthday off because that date doesn’t exist at all in whatever bizarre place this is??

      1. knitting librarian (with cats)*

        The Hebrew calendar (a solar/lunar hybrid) has a whole leap month in seven years of a nineteen year cycle. In those years, a second month of Adar (called Adar I/Adar Aleph) is added before Adar II/Adar Bet. This keeps the spring holidays in the spring and the fall holidays in the fall ~ as opposed to a fully lunar calendar, where the holidays cycle through the whole seasonal variation.

        I wonder how this company would deal with that? Would non-leap year Adar babies get a second day off in leap years?

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          GAWD! I wasn’t even going to bring up Adar(s). But, yeah.

          I mean, there’s other calendars, too. It is just goofy.

    12. Geez*

      I am irrationally angry about this.

      OP just wants to be told he/she is right because they’re not breaking the law by treating their employee terribly. Sorry, OP, but you’re an unspeakably terrible boss. You’re in favor of denying both a day off and gift card to an employee with a leap year birthday, but not to an employee with a weekend birthday. You’re also in favor of denying even a sliver of recognition on a cake. If you think morale is high, it’s because you’re employees are lying to you, or because they have not yet seen how bananas you really are. I suspect any employees who hear about this really think that you’re punishing the employee for something.

    13. Tigger*

      Also did anyone pick up on the fact that she wants us to know that she is a MANAGER and not just a team lead… That seems very immature.

      1. Nox*

        It reminds me of a girl I used to work with that would be like “YOU’RE NOT AUTHORIZED” “I’M AUTHORIZED” all the time in addition to reminding everyone she was a manager.

        Sometimes it wouldn’t make sense. She would respond to PTO requests with AUTHORIZED. In all caps..

        1. Tigger*

          Omg, that reminds me of my ex-manager who denied my PTO request because I was only hourly and not eligible for that benefit because I wasn’t full time, yet I was working 60+ hours a week. He sent me an email with the direct quote ” I AM AUTHORIZED TO MAKE THIS DECISION!!!”.
          When I came back from vacation I was laid off the next day with the parting line ” You are minor league talent and I have no interest attempting to develop you into a professional” . On my next pay check hr and payroll gave me the PTO and OT hours he didnt log because he was “unauthorized to make that call! lol

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        Well… making sure everyone on the internet knows you have a tiny bit of power is very important.


  2. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

    Jeez. #1, I appreciate that you took the time to update, but y’all are seriously still wrong.

    1. Just Employed Here*

      Also, why is OP so sure the employee isn’t job hunting? Even mentioning it twice.

      I hope she gets a good new job soon, where people aren’t petty like this!

        1. Just Employed Here*

          Lots of skills are transferable to other industries, though.

          But some people have worked in the same industry all their lives, and can’t really imagine people going off and doing other things, and are then really confused if a colleague or subordinate does that.

      1. Amber T*

        Yeah, and the fact that morale is super high and everyone else loves working there. Methinks thou protest too much.

    2. Muriel Heslop*

      So wrong. And frankly, if a manager is this inflexible and unforgiving on this issue, I don’t see how this would translate into a great working environment. This makes NO sense! (And for reference, I spend the day working in a public middle school, teaching children with autism. I spend a lot of time with things that seem to make no sense. But this is next level.)

      1. froodle*

        Yeah anyone this petty and unkind over a day off for the employees birthday is probably red flabby in other ways. Oof.

          1. Hummus*

            Oh, I’m sure calling in sick to this manager is a dream… on years that Christmas falls on a Tuesday.

    3. Captain S*

      Yes! And not even like a little “but I can sorta see where you’re coming from” wrong. Nope. Utterly, indefensibly wrong.

    4. Lady Blerd*

      I missed that post the first time around and I am flabbergasted by the tone deaf response to a perfectly legitimate complaint. Just wow. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s equitable and I do not understand how the LW can’t get that.

      1. JustAClarifier*

        YES, one of my first thoughts was a suspicion that LW is using the rules to justify denying someone she dislikes a benefit.

  3. Jamey*

    “People love the policy”

    Yes, I’m sure the people who actually get the benefits love the policy. Wow. I don’t understand how this update managed to use so many words to express that they learned absolutely nothing.

    1. AnotherJill*

      Saying people love a policy that excludes others from it is pretty obviously just another attempt to rationalize their discrimination.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Right? It’s complete & utter bullshit that this poor woman doesn’t get a day off every year like everyone else and I hope she finds a much better employer soon.

    3. Audra*

      Yes. The employee is losing out monetarily through some sort of gift card as well? I’m so confused.

      Morale is high and turnover is low as a majority, but the company is treating one employee unfairly for something out of that employee’s control.

    4. fposte*

      And they’re not going to love the policy *less* if it’s extended to the one person excluded. I promise.

      1. V*

        This is a really good point. I’m reading some underlying concern that other employees will complain if she gets a day off. Like “Hey, that’s not fair! March 1st isn’t her actual birthday!” But it’s like, “Yes, Dave, and your actual birthday isn’t Dec. 10th, but we let you have it off because your birthday fell on a Sunday this year.” Or whatever. OP, why can’t you just think of it like her birthday falls on a weekend/holiday 3 out of every 4 years? Why are so being so ridiculously rigid about something that you yourself admit is a small issue? Just give her a ding-dang day off! Just do it! It’s not that hard! GAHHHH.

    5. irene adler*

      Of course people love the policy. It’s a benefit for them.

      Does the employee with the 2/29 birthday “love” the policy as well? That’s the question that needs to be asked here.

    6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I also would assume (or hope!) that people don’t actually love the part of the policy that says that this one woman does NOT get a day off or a gift card. Letting her also enjoy this perk would have pretty much zero impact on anyone else, and even only a minor cost to the company.

      I’m also miffed that none of the employee’s coworkers are sticking up for her. I would love if my workplace instituted policy that we get ice cream every Thursday, but if I then learned that the policy was actually “Ice cream every Thursday unless your name begins with a Q and then you only get ice cream on Arbor Day” then I’d be quick to complain to the administration on behalf of my Q-named coworker.

        1. NCKat*

          But … but how do they KNOW no one else is complaining on the worker’s behalf?
          They sound so tone-deaf that it wouldn’t surprise me if they were deaf to all dissension.

        2. SusanIvanova*

          They might not know. If you asked me when the last time I saw Frederica’s name on a cake was, I wouldn’t know whether I just didn’t remember, or it hadn’t happened at all.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Agree, every place I’ve worked at, people would be asking questions if one employee was singled out and excluded from receiving a benefit everyone else had. I, too, am confused about why this is not happening at OP’s firm.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I wonder if her coworkers actually know. I never knew my coworkers’ birthdays until they weren’t at work one day (same sort of policy as above), and I honestly wouldn’t notice if Sansa didn’t leave for her birthday unless I was told.

      3. Kelly L.*

        It’s possible that if the employee hasn’t complained to her co-workers, they may just be oblivious. People might not really remember when other people’s birthdays are, and if they notice LeapLady hasn’t had a day off in a while, they probably figure it must have happened at some point and they forgot.

      4. MusicWithRocksInIt*

        Yea – I’m pretty sure if the LW polled the people at the company about excluding one person from the yearly birthday gift they would all say “No – don’t do that” because I’m pretty sure if you polled a group of people ANYWHERE they would say that. People love getting their birthday off – so it’s easy to say they love the policy. But no one there would be ok with being the one person excluded.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      It’s like “Accounting is allowed to cut to the front of the line at the coffee bar. Accounting loves this policy. Weirdly, Physical Plant has some sort of issue with it.”

      1. jb*

        Also, “This one person’s complaint is invalid, other people like me” is pretty much the 2nd-most common tactic used by abusers to silence their victims.

        1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

          Oh wow, you’re right. I didn’t think of it until I read your comment. Not saying OP/company are abusive, but this is not a good sign. I really hope OP re-evalutes their position.

        2. OfficerAerynSun*

          Also a common tactic of abusers: telling their victim that they can’t leave because they don’t have any other options.

          I very much hope the LW is wrong about the job market and this poor woman escapes.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Good point. The company might be niche, but she’s only been there three years. She’s not locked into this niche position yet.

    8. irene adler*

      If the OP is firm in the assertion that the leap year employee should not have an issue with only having one birthday off every four years, then the OP should be willing to forfeit their own birthday off as a sign of support for the leap year employee. In fact, as the manager of the leap year employee, the OP should be supporting their report’s stance against the policy given the report’s objection to it.

      Sounds to me like the birthday off policy is viewed like health insurance that an employer might offer to its employees. Employers do not usually compensate those employees who do not use the insurance (yes, some places do offer compensation).

      Difference being: the leap year employee did not choose to have their birthday on 29 Feb. Employees can choose to not take health insurance.

      Totally unfair way to view this benefit.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          I misread your username as OfficerAneurysm and was like “yeah, this update is going to cause a collective aneurysm among AAM commenters”.

    9. Phony Genius*

      Do people who know that the Leap Day birthday employee loses out 3 out of every 4 years also love the policy? Do they love that specific part of the policy? If they have a birthday any other time of the year, do they even know this rule?

    10. Perpal*

      I wonder when they polled everyone who loved the policy, they specifically asked about the policy of only extending it to leap year employees every 4 years :P
      Did everyone love THAT policy?
      LW1 realizes this was a muppet movie joke, yes…? (The thing with the pirates, IDK)
      LW1 is being strangely bureaucratic about this.

    11. RLJ*

      The 99% of people who do not have to deal with a leap year birthday love the policy! This one person who doesn’t fit in hates it and she needs to get over herself.

      Like what? WHAT.

    1. Zona the Great*

      Please, OP1, tell us what is going on with your though process here! How on earth can you justify this? Are you really going to claim that you’d not complain daily about this if this were you? If so, what other atrocities are you okay with in your own life that you’d be willing to do to someone else? My Gawd.

    2. Doc in a Box*

      I haven’t heard a line of reasoning like the OP’s since … The Pirates of Penzance. Seriously, is the person who decided to be petty about this a massive G&S fan or something? It certainly sounds like they are being a Grand Poo-bah, regardless!

  4. PennyParker*

    I just came here to see #1 get screamed at; if there ever was a tone-deaf horrible manager then she qualifies. I don’t really understand how that one can even imagine they would get any respect with that type of an update!

      1. ZSD*

        I’d second this, except that Alison doesn’t allow the people who write in to be on the ballot for Worst Boss, as it might deter people from writing for advice.

          1. Emily*

            I laughed long and loud at this. Super glad I’m alone in the video studio today and not alarming my coworkers upstairs :’D

          2. bloody mary bar*

            The only person who has a problem with this suggestion is the OP, so clearly it’s a good idea! Morale is high!

            1. The Guacamolier*

              I would like “Morale is high” to become AAM comments code for like “Hi, everything is terrible and falling apart.”

          3. darsynia*

            I totally saw the ‘we’ve got a badass here’ hand gesture on your ‘hear me out’ there. It was beautiful.

        1. fogharty*

          from the original letter: “My manager feels her complaints are petty and she needs to be more professional. I agree with him.”

          so can *this* manager be in the running for Worst Boss of the Year? LW’s manager who is supporting the LW’s strange stance on this Penzance-ian situation? It wouldn’t be illegal.

      2. Ann*

        Interesting how commenters are assuming this horrible boss is a “she”. Seems like that happens a lot on this site when the manager is awful, while good managers are assumed to be male.

        1. Gingerblue*

          Yet again: it’s local custom to default to female pronouns when gender isn’t known. Alison does it, and many commenters have picked up the habit, both for people behaving well and those behaving badly.

        2. Pebbles*

          We are supposed to default to using she for all people mentioned in the letters (good or bad) per Alison’s policy.

          1. Alianora*

            I don’t think we’re “supposed to,” it’s just what Alison does herself. I could be mistaken though!

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes, no one else needs to do it! It’s just my own practice when gender is unknown. There have been centuries of people using “he” similarly, after all, and it feels good to push a female presence into language since women were left out of it for so long.

              1. RUKiddingMe*

                It’s way past time that we stopped with the whole “male = default” and started inserting women/female into language everywhere.

                1. Janie*

                  Or use gender neutral language as using she/her pronouns on people who don’t use those, like some nonbinary people or trans men, is harmful.

        3. Andraste's Knicker Weasels*

          Alison defaults to she/her for people of unknown gender and many of the commentariat have adopted that practice.

        4. Myrin*

          As others said, there’s nothing even remotely “interesting” about this since it’s just a site custom. Alison started it deliberately years ago to counter the common usage of “he” when talking about an unknown quantity. I myself have totally adopted that custom and refer to literally every OP as “she” unless the letter states it was sent by a man, as have many many others.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      Tone deaf is exactly what I came here to say. The update focuses on all the off-base comments (it happens in every thread) and ignores the content of Alison’s response. Let’s hope the Universe is tallying all those non-leap year birthdays and flings them back at this company.

    2. Mr. X*

      People like OP1 make me want to be a manager since I KNOW I would treat my team, both collectively and individually, better than that.

    3. SignalLost*

      Like, why bother to write in if you’re going to double down on a stupid policy that Alison and the commenters are so unanimous is a stupid policy??? I didn’t see ANY comments on that post that disagreed.

  5. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

    Extremely disappointing that Leap Day boss still doesn’t get that the employee does indeed have a birthday every year and should be given the same day off and gift card as all others.

  6. Celia Bowen*

    #1. Look. Wow. Nobody is unclear on the policy – you’re unclear on how often people with leap day birthdays get one year older.

    1. Nerdy Library Clerk*

      Yeah, if LW1 really believes their employee only has a birthday every four years, doesn’t that mean they think they’re employing a child?

    2. KimberlyR*

      OP is following the absolute letter of the law, instead of the spirit. It would be kinder and make her employees more happy to see Leap Year Birthday employee treated with decency. She does have a birthday every year, as she gets older every year. She just doesn’t actually get that day on the calendar. This is likely a benefit to help increase employee happiness and productivity and OP is excluding her employee from the benefit 3 out of 4 years because of the way a policy is worded.

      OP, have you ever thought about pushing to change the way the policy is worded to let your employee participate? I wouldn’t let it go either and I guarantee I would be job searching once I realized how little management cared about me.

      1. Hummus*

        I’m guessing if this was escalated up the line, someone would say, “You’ve been interpreting it what way?? No, give her all the days off and gift cards she’s owed and stop this nonsense!”

        1. Cat Fan*

          Yeah, I’m trying to imagine my vice president where I work hearing about this. And I wonder what he would think of the managers who couldn’t figure this out on their own.

      2. Anonym*

        “OP is excluding her employee from the benefit 3 out of 4 years because of the way a policy is worded”

        Exactly! It’s a flaw in the wording of the policy which undermines the *actual intent of the policy*.

        1. Mr. X*

          It also shows a total lack of flexibility on OP1’s part. I hope they learn that being adaptable is not a managerial flaw but after this update I’m doubting it.

        2. Anony Commenter*

          I highly doubt anyone actually had the forethought to state “staff members whose birthdays fall on 29th February are excluded in years where there is no 29th February.

          Not knowing where the OP is based, I can’t be sure, but I think any court would in fact laugh this policy out the room.

      3. Amber T*

        I had a supervisor who discussed letter of the law/spirit of the law and that’s always stuck with me. Sure, there are plenty of times when you have the follow the letter of the law (I work in finance, I get it) or the ramifications are severe, but when it comes to a lot of policies, I always try to remember what the spirit of the law is trying to accomplish. The spirit of the law is trying to celebrate a day that is special to them. The letter of the law is not letting that happen to all employees. When the letter and the spirit of the law don’t add up, you’ve got a problem.

    3. Michelle*

      I mean, if it is going to come down to this kind of technicality, then there must be some kind of child labour violation going on, given that the employee would have to be nearly 65 years old (by reasonable standards) to even begin to be of an employable age at this company, if you follow the whole Leap Year birthday thing.

  7. Parcae*

    And the leap year birthday situation somehow gets weirder.

    I’ll just echo Alison’s advice from the original letter: “You two are wrong, she is right, and you should remedy this and apologize to her for mishandling it.”

    1. Serenata*

      This. Alison is right. LW1 is wrong. She should get March 1 off this year… and two other days from the years she was denied. Make it right.

  8. Kate*

    I sure am glad the birthday manager wrote back to make it 100% clear they disregarded Alison’s totally reasonable advice!

    1. Amber T*

      Yeah… I mean, we’ve seen plenty of letters where the reply is “I didn’t take your advice because X” and it’s because they didn’t give all of the info in the first letter, or something else came up, or some (usually good) reason. But this is just doubling down on something absurd.

      1. Iconic Bloomingdale*

        Yes. And the brusque and terse tone of the “update” make it clear that the manager still views Leap Year employee as the problem and “the policy is what it is – take it or leave it.”

        I refuse to believe that companies who are inflexible about an easily remedied policy such as this, have a majority of employees brimming with high morale. Because the rigidity is almost certainly reflected in other policies employees find unfair or oppressive.

        I hope Leap Year employee is actively searching for another job and finds one soon.

        1. ella*

          The tone of the letter makes me think of a gathering of employees, sitting in the break room, joylessly eating cake and not speaking. After exactly fourteen minutes, they all stand in unison, dispose of their plates, and return to their desks to continue work.

  9. ZSD*

    Wow, #1, it seems like you just didn’t understand Alison’s response the first time at all, and now you’re being defensive rather than listening to common sense. You wrote to ask, “How do I make my employee happy with this unfair policy?” Alison responded, “You don’t. You make the policy fair.” Instead of listening, you’ve doubled down on your unreasonable position.
    Look at it this way: if this employee’s birthday were February 28, and Feb. 28 fell on a Sunday, then she’d get Monday, March 1, off, right? Then do that on non-leap years! Pretend that Feb. 29 is falling on an imaginary Sunday, and then give her March 1 off. Problem solved.

    1. ZSD*

      This is a bit of a tangent, but I also find it odd that it’s *mandatory* that people take their birthdays off. What if their birthday falls during their busiest time of year, or the day before a major project is due?
      Why not just give people a floating personal day to use sometime during the year? That eliminates a lot of this. (And you can still give people the birthday gift cards, including, yes, on March 1 for a Leap Year birthday.)

      1. Dot Warner*

        That’s a good point too. I’m not a JW but my birthday just isn’t that important to me. I’d rather work on my birthday and use a personal day some other day.

      2. Squeeble*

        Agreed! What if there’s an important meeting on my birthday that I really want to attend? What if my birthday’s on a Thursday but I’d rather just take the Friday and get a long weekend?

      3. MK*

        I have to say I find it odd that a company would prioritise birthdays so much. Admittedly in my country most adults don’t make a big deal out of their birthdays.

        1. darsynia*

          Not only do they prioritize them, but they belittle an employee for making too big a deal of being left out of that prioritizing.

          Super, super bonkers.

      4. mrs__peel*

        It is weird to have “mandatory birthdays”. That also seems like a potential legal issue if (say) someone doesn’t celebrate birthdays for religious reasons.

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          The letter writer explained that it’s illegal to be a member of those religions in their country. So there’s no discrimination at the company because the government already took care of that! Oof.

          1. The Redshirt*

            OP1 stated incorrect information about Jehovah’s Witnesses in Canada (that the religion is a cult).
            That may be the personal opinion of the OP, but it sure is not the stance of the Canadian government! Or most other Canadians for that matter. Freedom of religion in Canada is a constitutionally protected right; people have the freedom to gather and worship without limitation or interference.
            Signed, A Canadian.

            1. A Canuck Here*

              The OP doesn’t live or work anywhere in North America. It’s clearly written in their post. She didn’t state incorrect information anywhere. Your information is incorrect. OP wasn’t talking about Canada but a different country altogether.

      5. Birch*

        That was the most bizarre part of the update to me! Mandatory?! Why?! Why is the company so obsessed with the birthdays of adults?

        1. sammy_two*

          I wonder if they think they are doing this ah-may-zing thing for their employees in a “we a such a great place to work” kind of way because we celebrate our employees!! When really in many cases it’s probably not very convenient to take your birthday off (middle of the week, big project due, etc.)

      6. Bostonian*

        Yeah, I also find it odd that in this person’s world, the fact that it’s mandatory means it’s OK that they’re not providing it to 1 person.

      7. Khaleesi*

        For real. I used to work for a company that gave you a day off for your birthday, but you were free to use it at any time in your birthday month. It was a great policy and allowed people flexibility in using a day that worked best for them.

      8. Arya Snark*

        Everyone, even those born on 2/29, got their birthday off as a floater holiday at my old job. It was a nice perk but there would’ve been a riot in accounting if I had a mandatory birthday off during our year-end reporting crunch.

      9. Dolorous Bread*

        Careful, this will be the point LW hones in on on their next reply and assures us all everyone loves this mandatory birthday off policy instead of all the other advice about how denying this beloved policy to one employee is wrong.

      10. Zillah*

        That seemed weird to me, too, and I say that as someone who really likes her birthday!

        If my birthday is on a Wednesday and my partner wants to take me on a long weekend to celebrate it, like… Friday is going to be much more helpful to me in terms of celebrating my birthday.

        This is so weird.

      11. InfoSec SemiPro*

        Its mandatory fun. You WILL take your birthday off!

        The no birthday card for Leap Year birthday is such a cherry on top level of pedantic and cruel.

    2. No real name here*

      Exactly. Why is this manager so stubborn? The policy stinks and I hope she’s job hunting because this just HAS to be a petty place to work, there is no way that the only dysfunction is in the odd doubling down on this policy.

    3. BRR*

      With the update in mine, I reread the original letter and didn’t recognize it was the classic “I’m writing in only for confirmation” letter. Going by the original letter and update, I’m doubting “Morale is high at the firm.”

  10. Cat wrangler*

    Wow, I almost wish that I hadn’t read the update #1 aa I feel irritated all over again for the employee. I’d be jobhunting.

    1. Parenthetically*

      I know! I am SO annoyed. I haven’t seen this level of cluelessness in an update since Expat Teacher/Ghosting Guy.

  11. Parenthetically*

    Wow, LW1, I don’t want to say you suck because we’re supposed to be kind to letter writers but WOW. This is a cold, heartless, and petty stance to take.


    So, so petty and bean-counting and stingy. You are going to get EXCORIATED in these comments, and you deserve it.

    1. w o w*

      OP 1– if you’re so strongly in belief that your employee only has a birthday once every four years, you actually are engaging in illegal conduct and violating child labor laws by employing a minor (what is she, 7, 9?) to do an adult’s job.

      okay that sounds ridiculous to you right? it should. because you’re being ridiculous. either your employee has a birthday every four years and you’re in the wrong by employing a minor, or your employee has a birthday every year and you’re in the wrong for being a petty, awful human being and denying her a perk literally every other person in the office gets. either way, you’re wrong!

      1. Anony Commenter*

        Funny you should say that – I read somewhere that (in a racial discrimination case) the court cares not that you were discriminating against someone because they were of a particular race etc, but rather that you discriminated against them because you THOUGHT they were.

        So, would the court be interested because OP 1 clearly thinks that their employer is a minor…?

    2. Yorick*

      I am rage about the “why is she so focused on a birthday instead of work?” She doesn’t care about a birthday, she cares about a free day off and a gift card. Duh.

      1. RoadsLady*

        OP is the one who cares so much about the birthday! Give her a day off and a gift card and stop losing sleep over this inane interpretation of policy.

      2. darsynia*

        Right?! Either treat her like the child she would be if she only grew older once every four years, or treat her like the adult you hired who expects to be treated fairly at work, because that’s what adults do.

        PICK ONE

    3. whingedrinking*

      The other thing is that even if this *were* an offbeat request in some way, sometimes employers do just give their employees something they want as long as that thing isn’t too expensive or inconvenient. Out of, I don’t know, maybe recognition of their good work, or a desire to retain them as an employee, or possibly just to be nice or something sometimes?
      But, nope, not only can we not criticize the almighty policy, we can’t even look outside the policy. Why would we, when after all, Morale Is High.

    4. MoopySwarpet*

      I also just re-read the original and there is cake and acknowledgement for the birthdays of the month as well as a gift card. Which actually kind of makes me want to cry for her. I could probably get over the rigidity of the actual day off technicality and even the gift card, but not to even be acknowledged at the monthly cake get together? I feel like when it IS her birthday she should get a cake party of her own since the 29th isn’t really February according to the tradition.

      Like, it’s not even just the day . . . she’s being completely shunned as a person having a birthday if the date doesn’t happen to be on the calendar. It makes me wonder if there’s also a huge stigma against the day in general wherever LW1 lives/works.

  12. Well Regulated Mellissa*

    #1 Since the comments policy here asks us not to be unkind. I am just going to a smile :-) and tell you to have a nice day.

  13. MoZ*

    Your employee was born the day after February 28. The day after February 28 happens every year. Sometimes it is February 29. Sometimes it is March 1. Your employee is being granted 1/4 of a benefit because their mother was in labor for either too little or too much time. That is absurd.

    1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

      This is a great way to lay it out. I would love to see OP #1’s rebuttal to this eminently sensible argument, but I have a feeling the cognitive dissonance I would experience would be far too painful.

    2. Doug Judy*

      I hope OP 1 reads this explanation. Because I cannot for the life of me understand how someone can justify taking away a benefit because of the earth’s rotational patterns and the day her mother went into labor.

      How hard is it to give this lady March 1 off every year?

      1. MLB*

        Based on her bitter and angry update, I doubt very much that reading more comments, telling her how outrageously ridiculous she’s being, will make her change her mind.

        1. Augusta Sugarbean*

          Agreed. People calling her crazy and petty and every other name, well who wouldn’t be even more angry and defensive?

    3. Myrin*

      This is an excellently simple way of putting it!
      Because OP, I mean, calendars are made up, you know? Even though most countries and cultures nowadays follow the Gregorian calendar, crossing space and time, there have been dozens of ways people divided and counted and expressed their understanding of the passage of time. If the Canadian government decided tomorrow that come New Year’s Eve, Canada will start to have years consisting of 400 days with days simply being numbered from 1 to 400, they wouldn’t be any more objectively right or wrong than the ancient Egyptians with their weeks lasting 10 days or the orthodox church saying that it’s only the first of December today.
      And you do understand that in this hypothetical 400 day model, your employee would suddenly have the same-day birthday every year, despite nothing having changed about her personally, right?

    4. Alex*

      Some people with Leap Day birthdays celebrate February 28 — the day before March 1 — so that their birthday is always in February. Either way, she has a birthday every single year and I can’t believe not only that the letter writer believes she doesn’t but that her own boss agrees!

    1. PB*

      Right. There’s no law saying you need to give your employees their birthday off, but it is a company policy. By insisting that this one employee only gets to observe her birthday during leap years, she’s getting 1/4 of the benefit everyone else does. Illegal, no. Unfair, yes.

    2. Kyrielle*

      Yes. This policy being handled this way is wrong. Regardless of legalities, it is unfair and wrong.

    3. Alex*

      It’s like the classic XKCD comic about people who argue about the First Amendment. Is your best defense of this policy really that it’s not literally against the law?

  14. AdAgencyChick*

    OP1, just because what you guys are doing is legal doesn’t mean it’s right. You’re denying a perk to one employee and not others, and not because of any differences in their performance. Why on earth wouldn’t she be upset?

    1. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I still don’t even understand how it’s legal. But hey, if your employee doesn’t legally have a birthday three out of every four years, you’re probably running quite afoul of child labor laws.

      1. Combinatorialist*

        Because unfair and unethical isn’t illegal. If this was the US (I have no idea of the Canadian labor laws), then “being born on Feb 29” is not a protected class. So you can discriminate on that basis as much as you want. You can fire someone for being born on Feb 29. You shouldn’t but it isn’t illegal. Discrimination is legal, as long as it isn’t discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, or one of the other protected classes. It’s unfair and unethical regardless

          1. SUCH a rejection letter!*

            That was probably based on this sentence: “I am Canadian. I live and work outside of North America.” So really, Combinatorialist should have said “I have no idea of non-American labor laws”. (But it doesn’t really matter, because the overall statement is still accurate.)

        1. Bilateralrope*

          Question is: What is the ethnic makeup of that workplace ?

          Is the employee in question a member of a protect class ?

          Sure, the manager claims the leap year policy isn’t due to discrimination. But, if the employee is a member of a protected class, it could very well look like it if a complaint is filed.

          Not to mention the PR disaster should the companies name go public even without the employee being of a protected class.

  15. Birthday Girl*

    #1 Wow. You are so far out of line and you have no clue. If it wasn’t so mean it might actually be impressive how ridiculous you are being.

  16. Non-profiteer*

    So OP#1 basically provided an update so she can scold the people who commented on the post? Hoo boy. This is the kind of thing that seems small, but can magnify to infinity when you’re feeling underappreciated, made about something, or really anything else in a job. And it’s so easy to fix!

  17. SurprisedCanuk*

    OP#1 Do you realize that you sound like a bit of jerk. Do you realize that the policy is wrong and unfair? This policy would never be okay in Canada.

    1. Erin Nudi*

      Alison spelled it out pretty clearly in the original reply, and all the commenters share the same opinion (as far as I’ve seen). I think it’s safe to say she doesn’t realize.

  18. Sarah*

    The birthday letter– I’m shocked she is receiving such untreatment! And of course morale is high, not everyone had a Feb. 29th birthday! Only she is being treated unfairly, so of course morale would be high overall. Sure, she has known about the policy, but that doesn’t justify this unfair treatment. I am blown away by you, LW, in a very bad way.

  19. submerged tenths*

    OP 1, you and your organization are bananacrackers to believe that someone only has a birthday every four years! Why on earth you won’t go to bat for someone who you say is a good worker, is beyond me. Hoping she finds a new job where she is treated as a human being.

    1. Armchair Analyst*

      Interviewer: So, why are you looking for a new job?
      Leap-Year Baby: Well, my current organization believes that I only have a birthday 25% of the time.
      Interviwer: …..I see. Well, we have an opening in the Department of Obvious you’d be perfect for….

  20. Detective Amy Santiago*

    LW #2 – I think you should definitely bring it up with your boss. Otherwise, every time someone else has an anniversary, you’re going to have these feelings return. Worst case, your boss shrugs it off and that gives you important information about the fairness of things at your employer.

    1. Memyselfandi*

      Yes, LW #2, I think the same. And, I empathize with the fear of crying. It is part of your professional growth to learn how to address these issues in the workplace. Alison has lots of advice on how to think about how to distance yourself and be neutral in your expression. I wish I could direct you to some specific language she has suggested.

    2. Isben Takes Tea*

      Could you perhaps use the “bemused anthropologist” technique of distancing yourself emotionally a bit from the conversation by entering into it as a scientific inquiry: “The normal situation is A, yet over here we have observed B! How interesting! Can you provide more background into that?” As opposed to approaching from the emotional “I feel hurt and upset” place (which is perfectly valid but as you mentioned, also inconvenient here).

      1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

        I love ‘bemused anthropologist’ and am going to apply it to a current real-life situation I’m dealing with. Thank you so much!

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Ohhhh, I like this! I’d never heard of it before and wish that I had.Sometimes, I get teary even when I’m not upset enough to cry but simply tired and/or frustrated. I struggled with insomnia for most of my life so the tired thing could be a real problem at times.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          I am a bemused anthropologist. I still cry when stressed. I read something a few years back that said some of us are just “wired” this way. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    3. Frozen Ginger*

      LW2, you mention being prone to crying, and I’m the same way. What I would do is practice saying what you want to say, like write a script and memorize it, and then do it first thing in the meeting.
      “I feel weird bringing this up since so much time has passed, but it’s still bothering me. The company usually does something big for 10-year anniversaries. Is there a reason I didn’t get something like that when my 10-year anniversary was in March?”

    4. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I agree. As for how to do it: practice the conversation a bunch of times with your spouse or a friend. Write down what you want to say, and what you might say to a few possible responses that your boss might make. I too am a crier so I feel you. Having a script to rely on helps.

      You also say “boss is uncomfortable with these things” – well, honestly, good! I think your boss SHOULD feel somewhat uncomfortable in this conversation, because they should realize that they messed up! Don’t make your goal “boss doesn’t experience any discomfort”; make it “I air my feelings in a professional way and prevent this from happening to someone else or to me again.”

    5. Shark Whisperer*

      I agree, LW. I also want to add that I am a crier. Most of my life I have hated my tendency to cry, but I have learned the angst you feel about crying makes the crying worse. If you cry this one time, its not a big deal. Stick some tissue in your pocket. If you start to feel the crying feelings, ask for a minute and take a deep breath. If you cry, everything will still be ok. Your boss isn’t going to judge you or look at you any differently.

      1. Screenwriter/Mom*

        Another option I’ve found useful, if you find yourself crying, is to simply plow through it, continue with what you’re saying, while making a neutral comment about the crying: “Yes, I’m crying, but that doesn’t change what I’m saying.” (Or, in other situations: “Understand that I’m crying because I’m angry.”) This also works if you’re an easy blusher, which is also super embarrassing.

    6. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Not only should you practice, but also let yourself cry. When you’re practicing and feel the tears coming on, let them flow. I do this. If you practice and practice and let yourself feel the emotion, you’ll get to the point of being so sick of crying that you’ll be able to have the practice conversation without doing so. This works well with upcoming weddings too, I’ve found. If you know you’re going to just cry and cry and cry at a wedding, try thinking about it when you’re safe and alone at home and let yourself have all the crying you need, as many times as you need. By the time you get to the wedding you’ll be cried out and okay.

    7. EPLawyer*

      LW 2, did you see our reaction to letter #1? We kinda feel the same about how you are being treated. Please bring it up.

      I am pretty sure if you search the archives, Alison has done a post on what to do if you cry at work. I remember it because I get choked up at times too (really sucks in court when that happens).

      BTW, YOUR boss is a jerk for avoiding you when you showed up upset after being attacked. I would not be the most touchy-feely boss as more than a few of my comments have shown. But if my employee showed up upset at being attacked, I would make sure they were okay and if they needed anything. Give them a private room to sit and collect themselves until they felt ready to work or do whatever they needed to do in the aftermath. If they didn’t feel up to working that day and wanted to go home, I would make sure they got there safely.

      We are human, we get upset. It’s okay.

    8. Triplestep*

      LW#2, I scanned the comments of your original letter, and I note that you mention you DID receive a monetary gift for your work anniversary, but no spa day or the like to go along with it. Just the bear.

      Any chance that managers have a lump sum to work with for the total value of the anniversary gift? If so, perhaps your manager felt that you’d prefer to have more in your anniversary check and less in the way of a physical gift.

        1. Triplestep*

          I did not see that. I *DID* see that in the original letter she says she got nothing but the bear, apparently leading a lot of people to believe that she did not get the financial gift at all. I suspect a lot of people are reacting to the idea that she only got the bear because that is what the letter says. It’s a bit misleading.

          1. ..Kat..*

            Yes, digging through the comments for all the info wasn’t easy. But, she still deserves the other stuff. It sounds like her boss is a lazy sh** and blew Off a major part of her anniversary gift.

  21. Sherri*

    #1 – I’m totally flabbergasted by your response. If an employee’s birthday is on a weekend, you allow them to take the next business day off, but you can’t allow someone with a leap year birthday to take the next available day off? I feel very sorry for your employee. Your policy is totally unfair. I’m skeptical about your comments that you have a high morale. Not with policies like this.

    And I’m done venting. Sorry if this comes off harsh. This just isn’t right.

    1. birthday grinch*

      i totally missed that this is the policy and at this point i’m sort of wondering if the OP has a particular grudge against this employee because there is NO REASON otherwise to be this purposefully nasty and exclusionary to someone.

      1. AnyaT*

        I was wondering this too. Because holy F, why else would you make this a hill to die on. Just give her the day off and the damn gift card. Why be so nasty and penny pinching and try to hide it behind “that’s the policy and it isn’t illegal.” I think there is a personal dislike coming into play here.

        A very annoyed, fellow Canadian (stop giving us a bad name)

    2. Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins*

      This person seems like a “Beatings will continue until morale improves” type person. I almost feel like morale probably isn’t as high as OP believes, and if I were the employee with a boss like that, I certainly wouldn’t mention a job hunt.

    3. FD*

      I’m pretty skeptical about the morale being high too. If you’re a manager who creates a situation where being this pedantic and petty makes sense…Yeah, I’m pretty dubious that morale is as good as you claim.

      1. CS Rep By Day, Writer By Night*

        I would be very surprised if this is the only rule with such draconian inflexibility that the company has, and if I’m right I’ll bet anything morale isn’t nearly as high as OP #1 thinks.

        My crappy ex-boss used to tell the other managers that she had one of the happiest teams in the building – in reality we were extremely dissatisfied but any complaints to her, HR or leadership fell on deaf ears. I quit with only 5 years in and only wished I could have found another job sooner.

    4. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      +1 for seriously side-eyeing OP’s claim of “high morale” in the office. OP, I guarantee you that a ton of people have noticed what you’re doing to this employee, and that your reputation has really suffered for it. This is the sort of thing that will get you talked about for YEARS.

  22. Annoyed*

    #1 – The fact that this manager doesn’t understand why this person would be upset is mind-boggling to me. All you have to do is imagine yourself in their situation and I think it’s pretty clear it’s very unfair that everyone else gets an extra day off that this woman doesn’t just because she was unfortunate to be born on Feb 29th. SMH at this nonsense.

    #4 “I had a serious conversation with my boss just this week to ask if I could move towards firing her. I was told, very flatly, no. It’s a government agency under a civil service commission that makes firing people very difficult and he doesn’t want the headache.”

    And this is exactly what’s wrong with so many workplaces.

    1. Myrin*

      Re: #4, yeah, seriously. “Doesn’t want the headache”. Like the headache of having to work with someone who after a decade hasn’t grasped basic concepts of her job? Goodness gracious, yes, surely taking the right steps and doing the paperwork to get rid of her is going to be the much bigger headacher! :|

      1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        But right now it’s OP’s headache, not the boss’s headache. So the boss has the privilege of just ignoring the problem.

        OP, I’m sorry. That’s so frustrating. In case you needed reassurance about this, your boss’s actions aren’t good management.

        1. OP4*

          Yes, I think this is the root of the problem. She’s a low performer, but my manager is also not really doing a great job by letting her stay. And I’ve been enabling it by letting her be almost entirely my headache. I need to share the headache somehow.

    2. Zona the Great*

      Yeah I have always worked for government agencies and I have never ever encountered this seemingly common perception that we are hard to fire. People get fired all the time here. All the time.

      1. PSB*

        I was once a manager in a state agency. My department had multiple problem employees that we couldn’t do anything about, both because HR & Legal refused to support it and because my director was too conflict-averse. Those three were just the problem employees – the ones who were unqualified and did nothing all the time were a different group.

        My mom was a very hard working state employee (in a different state and agency), so I despise all the government job stereotypes, but I managed to find one of the places they were all true.

        1. only acting normal*

          It’s a boss/office/hr problem not a civil service problem. Public servants can be and are fired all the time – the process is strict, but clear, and that’s not a bad thing.

      2. OP4*

        I agree, but unfortunately it’s a myth that management seems to buy into enough that it’s become a self fulfilling prophecy in my agency. There are other parts of our larger department who do regularly fire people all the time. I wish I knew how to get my boss/upper management to have a little more courage about it.

    3. LQ*

      #4 has my boss, clearly. (I know I’m really late, but I want to give OP #4 some love too!) It’s incredibly frustrating when the boss says no to firing. My boss will actually move people into areas where they would be more likely to succeed (which is great, and if you have that option I strongly suggest that), will happily encourage folks to show their people how to look for other jobs even if they aren’t with our agency especially if they have skills that would be of value elsewhere. And will, when pressed and when well documented, look at reclassifying someone into a role that they are more well suited to (demoting). None of these are fire someone who doesn’t work out. But if that option has been taken off your plate, I highly recommend seeing about one of the others.

      Also, my boss has 1 thing he will not tolerate (which is actually a thing you REALLY want your government official to not tolerate so it’s good) so you can carefully watch for that thing too. It has to be real, not trumped up, but often times people who are not just in the wrong job, but rather are really shitty will do other bad things that might not be tolerated by your boss, so beware of that.

  23. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1… wow.

    Itake your word for it that it is legal.

    It’s still extremely unkind and otheting. This is not an OK thing to do to someone.

    1. your favorite person*

      I don’t even think anyone thought it WASN’T legal. A phrase I like is, “There’s the letter of the law, and the spirit of the law.” That OP is not following the spirit of the law. And they are tone deaf at that. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    2. Artemesia*

      I’d be surprised if it is legal to give almost everyone a day off and compensation but deny it to one person arbitrarily. This manager should at best be demoted so they are not required to use judgment on the job and at worst fired.

    3. Anony Commenter*

      How does it usually work if benefits awarded to everyone are not applied across the board. Doesn’t it sometimes work that “if you have a policy and violate it, you can still lose a court case even if you aren’t breaking the law”?

      I only ask because I would imagine that no one thought far enough ahead to include a sentence along the lines of “people with birthdays falling on February 29th are not included”, thus the benefit would be included in any contract (assuming there was one). Thus the contract could be deemed violated.

  24. Four lights*

    OP 1: Wow. Just…wow.

    I would, however, like to congratulate the Leap Year employee for being the bigger person here, when her company is treating her differently than everyone else and holds it against her that she complained about it.

  25. Andy*

    I’m totally kerflummoxed that the categorization LW1 applied to the employee’s approaching the mismanaged birthday perk as an ‘issue’.
    You’re the parent that punishes both kids equally when one set the garage on fire and the other one ‘tattled’.
    I know that policy is policy, but there’s a higher policy: logic.
    Logic is the principle and policy that should be holding here.

  26. Fibchopkin*

    Wow. Just. Wow. OP# 1 others have said it, but bears repeating… this is awful of you and your boss, and indicates to me that neither of you are very good managers. I mean, maybe you’re just weirdly blind on this one issue, and otherwise competent, but your lack of insight on this issue makes me wonder if this question is a hoax. Is it a hoax? It’s a hoax, right? Maybe an experiment for a grad class in I/O Psych or Human Relations and Development?

  27. Peaches*

    #1 – “Morale is high at the firm.”

    Are you SURE about that? Based on how tone-deaf you’re being in this particular situation, I’m curious to know if you actually handle other situations appropriately.

    1. Lady Ariel Ponyweather*

      I agree. OP #1 might think morale is high, but a healthy workplace would not have an issue with the employee’s request. That this is a problem for the company makes it clear they don’t treat people fairly if the person deviates slightly from the norm. I would not be surprised to learn there are other problems with this workplace.

      OP, please do consider why you’re getting this feedback from everyone. Think about how you would feel if you were treated differently in your workplace because of something you couldn’t control. What you’ve described here is a symptom of a bigger problem.

    2. Kes*

      Well, to be fair, it is possible that the company is a good place to work… provided you don’t work for OP or her boss. The company does offer a nice perk of gift card + day off for your birthday, which most employees are able to enjoy, and it’s possible other managers are more flexible.

      …that said, it’s also totally possible morale is not good as OP thinks it is, and the rigid environment stifles any potential talk of discontent – people wouldn’t bother saying they’re unhappy, they would just leave if they can or complain elsewhere if not.

  28. SR*

    As someone with a Feb. 29 birthday, I’d have been out the moment I learned I wasn’t allowed to have my birthday day off.

    1. SR*

      You know what I mean. Given the day off. Of course she can take a birthday holiday from her paid time in this case but – anyway.

      I’m just seething, to be honest here.

    2. Just Employed Here*

      I would just be taking a sick day (if available, unlimited, and not requiring a doctor’s note) on 1 March. Every year.

      Based on a technicality, I might have worked a large part of 2018 without accruing (normally generous) leave.
      I had a change in my schedule that was just agreed via email with my boss and the HR(ish) person, but since we didn’t actually alter my contract, the company legally didn’t owe me any yearly leave. I complained that it was their idea to just agree on it, and had I known, I would of course have demanded a change in the contract. Instead of screwing me over, which they could absolutely and legally have done, the company just agreed to let me have the leave. It costs them several 1,000’s of euros, but it was the right thing to do, and I’m really conscious of them having done the right thing.

  29. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    OP1: Did you even read Alison’s response to your original letter? Because you don’t seem to have absorbed it. And I really have to wonder what kind of manager you are, since you obviously can’t bear to admit you’re wrong when hundreds of people are telling you so. In public. And it would actually be less embarrassing to admit your mistake than to double down and cling to it. And yet…here you are. Wow.

  30. ZSD*

    #2 – Anniversary gift
    Good luck with the conversation, OP! For what it’s worth, if my employee came to me in this situation and did cry, I wouldn’t hold it against them; I’d just feel terrible that I’d hurt them so badly. I hope you’re able to talk this through with your manager, and that your next work anniversary is handled better.

  31. AnotherKate*

    #1 is amazing. I didn’t know such levels of cluelessness and obstinacy existed in this world. Apparently they do in Canada. Praise be.

    (But truly, if I were Leap Day Baby I’d be out of there. Bosses who are unreasonable about simple things that require no skin off their teeth to fix will assuredly be unreasonable about more serious problems).

      1. AnotherKate*

        Fair enough, but I assume this manager brings their obstinacy and cluelessness with them wherever they go.

    1. thunderbird*

      I don’t know why OP felt the need to include that they are Canadian since they are working outside of North America. This has nothing to do with being willfully ignorant, they are like that all on their own.

    2. PlushPenguin*

      I’m curious where this person is. They’re Canadian, but say they work outside out North America. Either Canada has left North America (news to me, seeing as I’m in Canada!), or some international location (Europe?) has some really terrible policies.

      1. Ingrid*

        I am guessing Russia. Jehovah’s Witnesses have been banned there. But there could be other countries as well.

        1. CoveredInBees*

          My guess was Saudi Arabia or UAE, but I think your guess of Russia is more likely. Maybe Singapore.

          1. OfOtherWorlds*

            I’m wondering if it might be in Crimea or one of the other bits and pieces of other countries Russia has stolen. That would account for the vauge “outside of North America” answer.

  32. J*

    OP#1, “the firm is not doing anything illegal” literally no one accused you of that. You can be a jerk without being a criminal.

    1. Antilles*

      As an aside, if you *did* want to look at the law for guidance, I’m certain the Canadian government isn’t legally classifying her as an underage minor because February 29th only happens every 4 years so she has only had a handful of birthdays. Instead, for purposes of annual renewals, I’m guessing they treat her birthday as “renew on or before February 28th”.
      Could you imagine if they did use that argument though? I’m sorry ma’am, but even though you were born in 1992, but since your birthday falls on a Leap Day, you’re actually only 6 and a half years old. Therefore, we cannot issue a driver’s license. According to our projections, you should turn 16 years old in…2056. Please feel free to return in four decades when you’re actually legal driving age.

        1. Nerdy Library Clerk*

          Wherever the country is, they probably consider the employee to be the age that most people would consider her to be, not that divided by four. Because everyone who isn’t bananacrackers (or a character in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta) recognizes that people have birthdays every year, even if they were born on February 29th.

          1. Fibchopkin*

            I wanted make a Pirates of Penzance reference here SO BAD! I refrained b/c I was still staring at my screen, torn between abject horror at the update (and remembering how mad I was when I read the original letter) and the suspicion that this was a fake letter and an equally fake update. I’m so glad you made the employee-Frederic connection though- priceless!

          2. Just Employed Here*

            I don’t think the *country* thinks she’s about 10 years old, just the management at this particular company.

        1. Antilles*

          That…doesn’t really change the point though? The (INSERT COUNTRY HERE) Government, no matter who it is, probably treats her as the 2018-BirthYear age, not that she’s only 6 years old or whatever.

          1. J*

            Yeah, and if the company wants to be this pedantic then they should just turn themselves in for violating child labor laws. Ya know, for consistency’s sake

  33. birthday grinch*

    Birthday OP– you are mean. Retorting that what you’re doing is “legal” doesn’t make it okay– there are lots of mean, nasty things you can do to your employees that are perfectly acceptable legally. There’s no law stating everyone gets the day off on their birthday– it’s a perk your company offers to everyone (with the assumption that everyone has an annual birthday). Just give the girl a day off and a card on Feb. 28 and call it a day. You’re being incredibly petty over something that literally takes no skin off your back to give. I’d quit if I was your employee as well.

  34. Wulfgar*

    I can’t understand why the birthday LW thinks that their policy is fair. Why should a person be given less time off because she was born on a leap day. If the company wants to be fair to all employees, if an employee’s birthday falls on a weekend or holiday, they shouldn’t get the next day day off. Maybe group complaints would make management see how weird their policy is. They are basically denying one employee the benefits that she deserves.

    1. teclatrans*

      I can’t remember, was the OP and the manager above them the very top of the management chain? Because a perk like this — paid day off plus gift care — sounds like the kind of bonus you put in place to help keep your employees happy and retained. Withholding that perk from one person seems a lot like an underling rigidly applying the letter of the law while trashing the spirit and intent of the original policy. I don’t know that I would counsel complaining all the way up to CEO or something, too many people would see it as petty. But, it does suggest OP is behaving like a petty tyrant, and I hope the leapyear employee is actually job searching.

  35. ThomasT*

    LW #1 is providing one employee with less compensation than others because she was born on February 29. If that passes legal muster in your country/province, good for you. But you are still 1000% in the wrong here. Good on you for joining the Ford brothers in fighting those pernicious positive stereotypes of Canadians, I guess?

    1. A Canadian!*

      Between this person and the Fords, the good name of Canadians are being tarnished left right and centre!! I wonder if they’re Ontarian. It’s gotta be in the water…

    2. Elan Morin Tedronai*

      I spent time in Oakville. I can honestly say the positive stereotype of Ontarians and Canadians still stands strong in my book. :)

  36. a nony mouse*

    Wow. I would think a manager this obtuse wouldn’t know what company morale really was like or whether an employee was searching or not. This sounds too incredible to not be fake.

  37. Detective Amy Santiago*

    LW #3 – It sounds like there is a lot of dysfunction in this workplace. Are you looking at outside opportunities?

    1. irene adler*

      The OP should be championing the report’s issue with the birthday off policy- regardless of their personal feelings about the policy. Or the belief that “everyone loves the policy.” Clearly someone does not.

      In fact, the OP should forfeit their own birthday off in support of their report.

  38. AA*

    OP#1 has to be a troll, because no one could be that obtuse. But then again, it’s AAM, which runs letters every day proving that some people apparently *are* that obtuse! If it’s real, I hope Leap Year Girl quits and finds a better job. I would be furious if I were her.

    1. CD*

      Agreed, she absolutely must be .a troll. I have to believe, for my own sanity, that people as ridiculous as her don’t exist.

  39. Detective Amy Santiago*

    LW #4 – Document EVERYTHING. Firing people may be difficult, but it’s not impossible and you need to build an airtight case. And don’t hesitate to continue having those tough and honest conversations with your employee. Being aware that her performance is lacking may prompt her to leave on her own.

    1. Liane*

      Yes, still document. That way if your boss moves on, you might get a new boss who is willing to deal with the hard work of firing, and would be grateful not to have to start from scratch on documentation.

    2. Kes*

      Agreed – if you continue to hold your employee accountable for her work (in a fair and reasonable way) and make it clear to her that she is not up to standard, and she decides to leave, that would also solve the problem.
      Also, if you can show your boss both the impact that she’s having on the team/work, and that you are willing to do the work involved in firing, perhaps he’ll change his mind.

    3. Trek*

      I agree with documenting everything. I also recommend that you assign her projects with high visibility and document her mistakes. After each project summarize her mistakes and send to your boss requesting to terminate. At one point he won’t be able to ignore the situation or others will notice and take action. Make sure you keep copies of everything off site. CYA.

      1. OP4*

        This one is hard for me. On one hand, I get that letting her fail would make it more clear to my management how bad her performance is and why we should fire her.

        On the other hand, I struggle with the idea of knowingly letting her fail, especially publicly. Both because I care about our work and the reputation of our office. But also, I feel like I’m ultimately responsible for the quality of my team’s work. It’s a struggle for me, but I’m still thinking about it.

        1. Autumnheart*

          You wouldn’t be “letting” her fail. You would be setting clear expectations about her performance, and she would be choosing to fail. It should be public because as long as your team is obligated to prop her up while giving the impression that there isn’t a problem, then TPTB will assume there really *isn’t* a problem, and continue to refuse to deal with it.

          It’s a painful situation, but I think the pain is necessary in this context. Maybe you can mitigate it by sending out public kudos to the other members of the team about the value *they* brought to X or Y project. Then the message will be unspoken but pretty clear that it’s not your team as a whole, but one albatross on the team.

    4. OP4*

      Definitely yes on the documenting. And continuing to give her feedback.

      I wish I could hope she would leave on her own, but I’m doubtful. She recently applied for an internal promotion. She has no chance, but she doesn’t understand that. She has very little self-awareness, even after all the feedback. She has now sort of accepted that her communication skills are a problem, but tells me that she doesn’t think one limitation should be held against her so much. Communicating is like 75% of our jobs and is the first essential requirement in her job description. Sigh…

  40. Four lights*

    OP 2: Maybe you could write your feelings in an email? This is the sort of conversation that would be better to have in person but if you’re worried about crying….

    Something like: While planing the 5-year celebration for Person A, which includes X, Y, and Z, I was reminded of my 10th anniversary here. I received a bear, while in the past others have received X and Y. It made me feel unappreciated and hurt.

    1. Frozen Ginger*

      I don’t know. I think sending an email comes across as petty? Or holding on to a grudge?
      Because with an email you’re making it a statement rather than a conversation. Sure, the recipient can reply but its not the same. I know my gut reaction to someone sending me an email that says “It made me feel unappreciated and hurt.” would be different than if the person said it to my face.

    2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      Rather than saying it made her feel a certain way, she could just ask about receiving the rest of her expected gift as though it is part of her compensation — because in a way it is if everyone is supposed to receive something. But I agree with Frozen Ginger that a face-to-face conversation is probably the best way rather than an email. “I realize I didn’t follow up at the time, but at the time I was sure it was simply delayed, and then it slipped my mind until Person A’s 5-year anniversary gift. I received only a toy bear for my 10-year, while others have received X and Y. Was there supposed to be a card or other acknowledgement that should have been included with the bear? Because it wasn’t there when (receptionist) handed me the toy.” If boss hems and haws, well good. Return awkward to sender. She might just be surprised though because there was supposed to be more and the hand off went awry somehow.

      At my university, people who hit milestone anniversaries are entitled, by policy, to a certain dollar amount so I think of it as a business transaction not the same as a personal gift — like following up on a mileage reimbursement if it fails to show up.

    3. Nita*

      It’s hard to judge tone in emails sometimes, and they can come across as more confrontational than they’re meant to be. I do agree OP can start the conversation with an email rather than in person… something like “could we talk about my anniversary gift? I know it was a while ago, but coworker’s anniversary reminded me that I’ve been meaning to talk to you about it.” Maybe getting past the awkward part of opening this conversation in an email will help OP keep her composure.

  41. Melissa*

    Based on a little googling, I’m guessing the OP #1 in Singapore? Seems like a very strong culture of rule-following at this organization.

      1. A Canuck Here*

        The letter writer doesn’t live or work in North America. So I don’t know why you would say this happening in Canada, since Canada is indeed outside of North America.

        1. teclatrans*

          Hm, that feels a little harsh I think “I am Canadian” threw people off (it did me). It’s pretty irrelevant information, and I didn’t realize that, so I read it as providing context for the company and its policy. I am normally a very close reader, but sometimes letters that rile me up emotionally can lower my absorption of the details.

          1. teclatrans*

            Oh, misread again. Did you mean that Canada *isn’t outside of North America*? I don’t think anybody is confused about North American geography or trying to exclude Canada. The main confusion is that some people missed the “outside of North America” wording, and took “I am Canadian” to mean that the company was in Canada.

        2. AK*

          Huh? Canada is most certainly part of North America – was that a typo? Regardless, the letter writer said s/he is Canadian but working outside of North America, so no doubt many people missed the latter part.

      2. Melissa*

        The letter writer gave such an interesting detail: Jehovah’s Witness is considered a cult and is illegal in the country of where she works.

        Jehovah’s Witness is not illegal in Canada, therefore the OP is not in Canada, even if she is Canadian.

    1. Singaporean*

      I am from Singapore — working in North America — and yes, it sounds like one of us. Even the style of writing looks oddly Singaporean.

      1. Melissa*

        I don’t want to trade in stereotypes but I think it’s helpful to look at cultural norms and expectations when analyzing these issues.

        For example, I’m an American and when I worked in Italy and I had to adjust to a different way of doing things. There are trade-offs either way.

      2. LabManager*

        If I may ask, would this be considered as unreasonable in Singapore as it is to the commenters here?

        1. Singaporean*

          No, it would not be unreasonable. Hence my saying “even the style of writing looks oddly Singaporean.” The whole attitude of “majority wins” — the other employees are just fine with this policy!! — just struck me as something that most Singaporeans would do.

          On another note, most employers and managers in Singapore would not know if their employees are unhappy. You will find out when they submit their resignation. Add that to the fact that OP1 is a Canadian in Singapore — she may not be truly aware of what’s going on in the employee’s mind.

          1. A New Level of Anon*

            Having worked with people who spent most of their school and working life in Singapore, this seems familiar. Not so much the inflexibility but being really disgusted by someone wanting an accommodation different from the norm.

            1. Melissa*

              This inspired me to look up collectivism vs. individualism and how it affects cross-cultural teams. I’m imagining that for LW #1, the benefits about keeping one’s gripes to oneself are a lot more evident than they are to the (North) American commentariat of AAM so when her employee asks for an accommodation it feels like a huge disruption.

              Not saying it’s right, but it seems like there’s more to learn from this situation than “some people are jerks!”

              1. Michio Pa*

                But actually if this takes place in China or Singapore, I’d be surprised that the employee is making a fuss about being excluded. I work in Asia in a very collective-society country and if I brought up something like this, and my boss said no and also I was being unreasonable, the pressure would be very strong to not bring it up again. I would just privately gripe about it until I left.

                This leads me to 2 conclusions: 1) This issue must really be bothering the employee for her to bring it up in a collectivist culture. OP should take this very seriously, this is a sign she is Not Happy.

                2) OP, a Canadian (individualist) working in a collectivist culture, wrote in to AAM where she was sure to get an individualist-culture-based response. Why? Is this to find a way to justify her interpretation to someone of a different culture (“We might be in Singapore but where I come from, you’d be wrong”)? Perhaps the employee is also from an individualist culture (“Even AAM thinks you’re wrong”)? Or this whole culture thing is a red herring, because collectivist cultures usually struggle with exceptions but make a big deal of fairness so OP could justify it that way if she really wanted to?

                So many questions because at the end of the day, OP is being needlessly cruel to a good worker when being kind would cost her nothing.

              2. LawBee*

                Oh, I wish LW had told us where she was writing from – knowing that there is such a strong cultural reason behind what looks completely illogical to us makes a big difference! That is valuable information, omg.

      3. Girl friday*

        In Singapore, do they have birthday rules like that? Not just expecting a party but a whole day off for each birthday? I was thinking it sounded like Singapore or Taiwan myself.

    2. janon*

      The problem here with the ‘rule-following’ (even though they are in Canada) is that if someone’s birthday falls on a non-working day, they get the next working day off. So there are people off work on NOT their actual birthday which, to me, is EXACTLY what they could do for this employee. This manager is the worst.

  42. DoctorateStrange*

    OP1, judging by the terse tone to your letter, I’m thinking we touched a nerve for you when we called you out previously. The smart thing for you to do is self-reflect. Instead, you are digging your heels in, and I’ve got to say, you look a whole lot worse now for that.

  43. willow*

    #1 – I have an idea how your company can save some money – only hire people born on Feb. 29, that way you can save on all those unproductive birthday day-offs!

  44. w o w*

    OP 1– if you’re so strongly in belief that your employee only has a birthday once every four years, you actually are engaging in illegal conduct and violating child labor laws by employing a minor (what is she, 7, 9?) to do an adult’s job.

    okay that sounds ridiculous to you right? it should. because you’re being ridiculous. either your employee has a birthday every four years and you’re in the wrong by employing a minor, or your employee has a birthday every year and you’re in the wrong for being a petty, awful human being and denying her a perk literally every other person in the office gets. either way, you’re wrong!

    1. Tea*


      I would sue. I would sue the hell out of them for lost wages and unfair labor practices, among which is the hiring of a minor. By their logic.

  45. Another Chris*

    OP #2, I’m sorry that you’re still feeling the effects of the work anniversary snub. Sometimes when I’m unsure what I want to say in a difficult situation, I’ll type it up and then read it aloud to myself until I find the words to say what I mean. I hope that this helps.

    Also, do you mean to say that you were *physically attacked* before you got to work? I hope I’m reading that wrong. I hope you’re getting/got whatever help you need. If someone verbally berated you — not that it would be better — please know that no one deserves to be attacked like that at work, even for situations where you might have done something wrong. There are mature and immature ways to handle situations like that. I hope you have a moment to address whatever happened with the proper manager.

  46. lit prof in va*

    LW #1, this update makes me feel sad for your employee. Did Alison’s advice to you sink in at all? Do you have any ability to imagine yourself in your employee’s shoes and feel some compassion for her? Your comments about the legality of the situation, the company policy, and the office morale are besides the point. Your employee feels hurt and undervalued because she doesn’t get something that every other employee gets, and instead of providing an easy fix that that would satisfy the employee at virtually no cost to the company, you offer a series of (largely irrelevant) rationalizations.

    It is especially egregious that people whose birthdays fall on weekends or holidays get the next business day off, but this employee does not get February 28th or March 1st off simply because it’s not the exact day she was born. Your company is already willing to let other people take days off that are not their exact birthday, so why not this employee as well?

  47. Tada*

    I wish the employee with the leap year birthday could argue age discrimination.

    I really want management at this company to learn their lesson.

  48. DCer*

    Can we nominate OP #1 for worst manager of the year? Can we just skip to giving her the award already.

    I want to go help the poor leap day birthday employee find a new job. You’re a terrible boss. Like really, maddeningly terrible.

    1. Fibchopkin*

      Yeah- Alison doesn’t let us nominate LW’s for this award in order to not discourage people from writing in… but if ever there was a GREAT opportunity for an exception…

  49. Please...*

    #1: There is a rougly 0% chance that morale is actually high. If you’re as completely ignorant as you presented yourself on this issue, I’m sure there are plenty of others that you aren’t aware of. At least not until they write in to AAM as well…

    1. Molly Franken Strole*

      Any workplace with managers as obstinate and stingy as OP #1 cannot possibly have high morale.

    2. Lady Phoenix*

      You know that comic meme? The one where the cartoon dog is in a house that is butning all around him? And despite all of this, the Dog goes: “This is fine.” (If not, I will have a link to an article about it in my username)

      That is the manager. Dollars to donuts this place is burning to the ground around them, and the manager is going about their day like nothing has happened.

    3. Batty ArtMonster*

      I agree. I used to work for a toxic company that would brag at every conference and PR opportunity that we were a great company to work for with high morale and anyone would be lucky to work there. In reality, morale was in the tank, the majority of the staff were miserable but felt trapped (niche company in a small city with limited employment opportunities elsewhere) and we were penalized on our yearly evaluations if we complained about anything management deemed “petty”. If it wasn’t for the fact that this business is operating outside of North America, I would think LW1 was my former boss and company.

      LW – your company doesn’t have high morale. You are likely just hearing and seeing what you want to hear and see, and ignoring the stuff you don’t. And if your company is anything like my former toxic workplace, employees are afraid of repercussions if they speak up on behalf of another so they don’t even try. This is one of those situations where you need to stop viewing your policy as black and white. Your employee is losing out on a paid day off and a gift card, as well as the knowledge that her company respects her and cares about her morale. What would you be losing out on by giving these benefits to her?

  50. Lena Clare*

    OP1 isn’t an update it’s just another opportunity to reiterate what you’ve already said – which you wrote in for advice for and which people have almost universally said is a rubbish policy for the person born on 29th Feb! Just give her the day off and the voucher and the cake dude, it’s not fair.

    1. Jenny Craig*

      It is such an easy thing to remedy, and it’s really telling that this manager is more concerned with being “right” than doing right by his employees.

  51. Bookartist*

    Gee, LW1, you’re awfully defensive of a policy that is supposedly so great. Hmmm.

    I also learned today that Canada engages in religious persecution. Amazing…

        1. Bookartist*

          Alison, would you please consider re,icing my above reply. I misread the source material and while there have been court cases involving JWs in recent years, my statement above is simply incorrect. Thank you.

        2. thunderbird*

          Nope, I think they mean in where they are outside of North America. Plenty of JW organizations here in Canada, totally legal.

        3. A Canuck Here*

          Except that this is happening in a country that isn’t Canada. How does another country doing this mean Canada presucutes anyone? What you said makes no sense.

    1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

      This might be a better topic for a weekend thread, but I looked it up, and Wikipedia says that Canada made being a Jehovah’s Witness illegal partly because of their beliefs about patriotism and choosing to be conscientious objectors rather than fighting in the military. Very interesting…

      1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

        Never mind, I just read another comment below that explains this better. Apparently, that was only a temporary thing during WWII.

      2. Arctic*

        That was true of several countries. But almost all of them have since overturned those laws or had courts tell them they had to do so. France was famous for having anti-JW laws in the very recent past. But both France’s highest court and the European Court of Human Rights nixed that.

        1. There's Always Money in the Banana Stand*

          True. As a member of a different denomination that also practices conscientious objection, believes in pacifism, doesn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, etc., I always find laws about this kind of stuff very intriguing.

    2. Crivens! (Formerly Katniss)*

      I had to read a couple times to understand what was being said there too. While JW is indeed a cult, it isn’t illegal in Canada, nor should it be.

    3. I'm Not Phyllis*

      Nope. This person is not in Canada … s/he may be a Canadian citizen, but being a JW is not illegal in Canada – and it’s not considered a cult here either.

    4. Milo the Yellow Frog*

      NO Canada does NOT engage in religious persecution! LW1 does not work in Canada, although she claims to be a Canadian.

  52. willow*

    #1 – Hey, run this policy by some of your friends at your next cocktail party and see what the response is.

  53. Gretchen*

    OP#1, you do realize you are likely violating labor laws by hiring a minor, correct? Even a 36 year old is only 9 based on your company policy.

    1. ArtK*

      Love it!

      By the way, the whole scenario is a key plot point in a comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. See “Pirates of Penzance.” In other words, they present the idea as farce for comic effect.

      1. Neosmom*

        (Pirate King, Buttercup, and Frederic singing) “A paradox, a paradox. A most ingenious paradox! Ha ha! Ha ha! Ha ha! Ha ha! A paradox!

          1. ArtK*

            Ruth. Same character, different costume.

            My favorite line from that trio: “I am a little boy of five!!!!!!!”

  54. Potato Girl*

    LW#1 if your employee only had a birthday every four years how could she also be old enough for a full-time job?

    1. TGIF*

      This. If you don’t believe in her birthday happening every year, then you’re likely employing a minor. How’s that for policy?

  55. What a weird hill to die on.*

    #1 — “She has complained but has not looked for another job (the market is niche and specialized). Morale is high at the firm. Turnover among employees is low. Many people want to work here. Aside from this one issue she is a good worker and would be given an excellent reference if she decides to look elsewhere in the future.”

    I hate bosses and managers like this. First of all, why would she tell you if she was looking for a job? You’d probably fire her.

    Just because turnover is low does not mean morale is high, and enforcing petty pedantic policies like this will cause morale to drop. Also – again, you are a manager; I would question your ability to discern whether morale is high, because people aren’t going to complain to you.

    I hope your employee finds a place that respects her and treats her equally. What a silly hill to die on, for you/r company.

    1. TheRedCoat*

      Yeah, I’m betting the low turnover has more to do with a specialized niche market than good morale.

    2. ArtK*

      The whole “niche market” and “specialized” just means that the employee is trapped. That’s not a sign of good morale. OP#1 really needs to spend some time on self-reflection.

    3. Hope*

      Yeah, if the market is “niche and specialized” then turnover might be low b/c it’s the employees’ only option, not because they love it there.

    4. Hey-eh*

      Right? I straight up told my managers I wasn’t looking for another job multiple times over the past year.. while.. looking for another job.

    5. Batty ArtMonster*

      Yup – I used to work for a toxic company that was niche and specialized and morale was terrible. Employees indeed felt trapped because there were limited employment opportunities elsewhere (and nothing even similar in the city this company was based in). Employees were also penalized for complaining about things management deemed “petty” (and our HR department would report you to your manager if you raised a complaint with them). Management thought morale was great simply because turnover was low and no one “complained”.

  56. Phony Genius*

    For #1, we’re not allowed to attack or pile on to writers or commenters. However, there is no rule against attacking employers’ policies. I will assume that the writer is just following the company’s policy. But the policy is a donkey. Not just for the inflexibility of leap years, but a mandatory day off on your birthday, no matter when it falls? If an important meeting was being held on that day, you would have to miss it? There’s no such thing as mandatory fun. (Except as the title of a Weird Al Yankovic album.)

    And the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses doesn’t sound like the Canada I know. Are there any Canadians here who can tell if this is legal?

      1. Phony Genius*

        In that case, I wonder what this country’s customs are for Leap Day. I have heard of some cultures considering it just a general bad-luck day, and avoiding doing anything on it (and maybe even people born on it) at all costs (some parts of Russia). There was a time when Leap Day was not considered a legal day, to the point that things like checks dates Feb. 29 were considered null and void. I do not know of any countries that still officially follow this practice.

    1. Jenny Craig*

      I’m going to assume that the policy is silent on the matter of Leap Year birthdays (it would be very strange if it did address it). So OP#1 isn’t following company policy; he’s interpreting the policy in a mean-spirited and stingy way just because he can.

    2. I'm Not Phyllis*

      There is no banning of Jehovah’s witnesses in Canada. I live in Toronto – and we have a JW temple down the street from where I live. They hand out literature at the subway. They are lovely and polite and have every right to practice their religion here.

  57. Alexis Rose*


    WHAT? This is all kinds of crazy and just plain nonsense. I’m also Canadian, and I did a little more research into your Jehovah’s witnesses being banned in Canada thing, because I did not believe that is true. And its not. It was banned in 1940 as part of the War Measures Act, but that only continued until 1943. Additionally, since the induction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms there would be no legal standing whatsoever to ban any religious affiliation. Jeepers.

    Second, you’re an ass. Whether or not this is “legal” or not, that is NOT the issue. Legality shouldn’t be the only guiding principle when managing people, you should also consider equality, fairness, and just plain and pure common sense. The way that I would apply your policy is to give her the first work day after the 28th of February off. By your logic, people who have birthdays that fall on weekends shouldn’t get the day off either! This is weirdly punitive on one employee, its not her fault she was born on Feb 29!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Time to get that arranged marriage my parents want*

      Totally agree with the sentiment, but OP says she doesn’t work inside of North America. She probably works somewhere in Europe.

      1. SarahKay*

        I’d be amazed if OP works in Europe – or at least anywhere with membership of the European Union (as opposed to being in a country that is part of the continent of Europe). This just sounds too rigid, and too out of line with a lot of the EU legislation (banning JW’s, for instance).

        1. UKDancer*

          Agreed, I’ve worked in several countries in the EU and I can’t see this flying in any of the ones I’ve worked in. EU countries often have fairly strong workers’ rights and an emphasis on equal treatment.

          I know some countries don’t allow JW’s to benefit from certain charitable statuses but that’s a long way from banning them. If a country tried to ban the JW’s the first thing I’d expect the JW organisation to do is to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights which I think they would probably win.

    2. Salyan*

      She didn’t say that JW’s were banned in Canada, but in another country in which she was working. Singapore, maybe?

      1. Alexis Rose*

        Sorry, thanks you guys. I was rendered temporarily blind by how outrageous this all was and didn’t read that part clearly.

        1. teclatrans*

          Yes, I am really good at reading and details, but this letter just made me so *angry* and I made the same mistake.

    3. Koala dreams*

      The OP1 did specifically say that she didn’t work in North America. You are aware that Canadian laws only are valid in Canada, right?

    4. jhjh*

      LW1 does not live in Canada. Googling suggests maybe Singapore which appears to ban Jehovah’s Witnesses and commonly has birthday leave.

    5. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      As others have pointed out, LW1 is a Canadian working in another country. There are several countries that ban Jehovah’s Witnesses, but LW says that they are “banned as a cult.” That language, plus the general worldview, sentence structure, and a few other cultural cues in the letter say to me that LW1 is working in Russia.

      1. Michio Pa*

        I don’t think you can read into the sentence structure and detect Russian if they’re originally Canadian and therefore likely a native English speaker. Also I don’t think it’s safe to assume OP’s “general worldview” is characteristic of Russia. That paints 140 million people with a pretty broad and unflattering brush.

  58. Avyncentia*

    Hey guys–while I don’t agree with how LW #1 responded to Allison’s advice at all, I think we need to lay off. There are some pretty aggressive and insulting comments being posted and that could discourage others from submitting questions or updates.

    1. Jenny Craig*

      I get what you’re saying, but…nah.

      I don’t see our justified outrage discouraging others. The overwhelming majority of submitters aren’t villainous like OP#1; they’re asking for advice or an outside opinion on a true gray area or sticky situation. I believe they can tell the difference and recognize that they won’t inspire such outrage.

      1. paralegal beagle*

        Agree, plus a letter writer should *want* to learn from this site. Alison very fairly dissented with this letter writer and she/he just dug in and refused to acknowledge the advice she/he requested.

      1. C-Hawk*

        This. He sucks and I hope the Ghost of Christmas Future pays him a visit this year (and I’m Jewish and don’t believe is ghosts).

    2. serenity*

      No there are not. And neither you nor anyone besides Alison should play backseat website moderator.

    3. Augusta Sugarbean*

      I’m with you, Avyncentia. There’s no way that LW#1 is going to sit around and read dozens of “you’re a jerk” comments and magically see the error of their ways. It’s human nature to be defensive in a situation like that. Honestly I’m amazed they wrote in with an update. The first go round was pretty harsh. But considering the tone of the update, it probably *doesn’t* matter at this point, since the LW doubled down and stood their ground. Too bad. Best wishes to the Leapling employee, and all the employees there tbh.

  59. Rhymes with Mitochondria*

    “People love the policy”
    lemme fix that for you, boss updater 1:
    “People who get to use the day off love the policy, while people who are getting screwed by my pettiness annoy me by pointing out what I am doing. I dig in my heels and hide behind the ‘it’s not illegal’ line.”
    That’s far more accurate.
    Stop being petty and treat this employee the same way you treat all your employees.

    1. Allison*

      Unless you’re talking to a police officer or judge, using “it’s not illegal” to defend your actions from criticism or consequences usually means you’re being a huge jerk.

    2. Arya Snark*

      And the OP calls the Leap Year baby petty to boot!

      “My manager feels her complaints are petty and she needs to be more professional. I agree with him.”

      1. Artemesia*

        I wonder if a valued male employee would be considered petty for expecting the compensation everyone else gets?

    3. Kes*

      Based on the data we have, it’s quite possible that 100% of the employees who get the benefit like the policy… and 100% of the employees who don’t get the benefit don’t like the policy

      If it’s set up to work for most people, it’s unsurprising that most people like it… and that you’re only hearing from the people who it doesn’t work for. If you had more employees born on leap days, you would very likely be hearing more complaints. If you fixed the policy, which would be very simple to do – extend the weekends and holidays case to cover leap days as well – you would hear less complaints.

  60. Allison*

    I’ve seen some disappointing updates where someone’s situation didn’t get better, but I think this is the first update where someone just wrote in to double down on their decision and tell us we’re a bunch of stupid jerks for being mad about it.

    I also don’t understand why a day off on your actual birthday is mandatory. Why not a “bonus” day you can take the month of your birthday?

  61. TGIF*

    OP1, I don’t know why this is a hill you want to die on when you are so clearly in the wrong. The employee is not trying to take the birthday policy away from everyone else, she’s trying to get in on it because it is a perk that she is not getting. If she were born on a holiday where the office is closed (Christmas or New Years), would you still be denying this to her.

    This might seem like a small matter but to me it would show how little my manager cares about me, so I’d be looking for another job.

  62. SLB*

    OP #1 — Since time off is part of an employee’s total compensation package, your Leap Year employee is actually receiving less compensation than employees in the same role whose mothers timed their labor and delivery better.

    So, you’re a lousy human being, but you’re also cheap and unfair.

  63. Jenny Craig*

    I can’t believe OP#1 dug in his heels about the birthday thing. It appears that everyone else in the entire world (or, at least his employee, Alison, and all the commentors at Ask A Manager) thinks he’s a jerk, except for the OP’s manager. Maybe take a hint and stop being a jerk? I can’t even wrap my head around why he thinks that’s okay. And if this is the way he treats employees and feedback, I would be very surprised if morale is actually all that high; probably his employees just don’t feel comfortable discussing issues with him because he calls their legitimate complaints “petty.”

  64. CleverGirl*

    #1: When you have to resort to the “it’s legal!” argument to defend your behavior, it means that the ONLY redeeming quality of said behavior that you can come up with is the fact that there isn’t a specific law that prohibits you from doing it. This alone should be a reason for you to stop and think about what you are doing. I am just floored that the OP thinks this is an acceptable policy and is going to such great lengths to justify why it should be the way it is. Maybe the employee in question isn’t job searching, but everyone else here is putting ourselves in her place and imagining job searching in her behalf.

    Also, stating that she would receive an excellent reference if she decides to get another job does not justify this behavior or make everything all better the way the OP seems to think it does. Wow. Just, wow.

    1. Katherine*