giving extra time off to people who get married, how to end networking conversations, and more

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

1. Giving extra time off to people who get married

My friend got married this weekend, and she mentioned to me that her office gives her an extra week of PTO to use in the year which she got married. (The idea behind it being that she’ll use it on her honeymoon, although I doubt that that’s enforced.)

I was thinking today about the fairness of this policy. I’m not married and have no prospects (lol). If I worked at her office, I would get a week less of PTO — just because I’m single.

Ultimately, this doesn’t affect me because I don’t work at her office, but, what do you think?

Yeah, it’s lovely that they want to support their employees, but a policy of giving people a full extra week of paid vacation upon marriage is destined to cause resentment among people who aren’t married, or who were married before they were hired and would really like an extra week off to spend with their ill parent, or so forth. It’s prioritizing marriage above all other life events in a way that isn’t fair or equitable (although it reflects our culture’s tendency to do the same). I don’t think anyone would begrudge, like, a congratulatory fruit basket, but an extra week of vacation is a huge thing to only be giving to some.

An alternative would be to offer an extra week of PTO for anyone with a major life event, which they could define loosely (and they could cap it at one-time usage, or only every X years, or only after X years of employment) — or even remove the “major event” requirement and just let people have it after three years of employment or so forth.

2. How do I politely end conversations at networking events?

Your recent post about conversation starters at industry events got me thinking: once you’ve got talking to someone at a networking event, and both people have got what they needed out of the conversation, how do you politely move on?

I’m on the board of the association for a charity that pays for me to attend various networking events. I want to get the most out of the event both for myself and my charity, meeting people who may want to collaborate, engaging industry leaders, and chatting to a good cross-section of the community so that they feel heard. But sometimes I get stuck — it’s not that I don’t want to talk to the person, I just need to circulate!

I know a few people who are networking ninjas. They are so good at extracting themselves from conversations without fuss that I don’t even notice them moving around. While I’m happy to say “I must circulate” to people I know well, it seems rude to just cut off the flow of conversation with someone you’ve only just met (especially if this is their rare chance to give input into our charity). In that situation, I usually say something awkward like, “I must pop to the toilet” which … isn’t that elegant…

I don’t want anyone to think I don’t value their conversation. Do you have any scripts I could use to move on without causing offense (or having to use the bathroom as a hideaway)?

“Well, it was great meeting you!” is an easy way to signal the conversation is coming to a close. You can dress it up by adding things like “I’m going to pass on your advice on X to our board,” “I hope we see each other at next month’s event,” and so forth. But the basic idea is to start saying those wrapping-up phrases.

Another way to do it is to offer your card and ask if they have one, and use that as your closing ceremony. Do the card exchange and then go straight to, “Wonderful! Hopefully we’ll stay in touch. It was great meeting you.”

If it still feels too abrupt to leave after those phrases, it’s fine to add, “I’m going to grab a fresh drink” or “I’m going to go check out that buffet!” or any other phrase that politely announces your intentions.

3. My coworker jumps on me about emails the minute I walk in the door

My shift starts two hours later than a colleague’s shift. It’s always been like this; I didn’t set this schedule. I work 30 hours a week, coming in later and leaving earlier than my colleague. Our jobs are mostly independent from one another, but occasionally, we’ll get an email thrown to both of us as a team.

Whenever this happens, if my colleague has read all her email before I’ve arrived, she’ll jump all over me just as I’m unlocking my cubicle to ask me what I think of the email and how we should respond, imagining I’ve spent all morning at home reading work email to “cue myself up” for the day before I’m on the clock. I can understand someone grabbing me on first sight if something’s truly urgent, but this woman hops on my case about things that aren’t even all that important.

What can I do without coming across like a snitty snoot myself to let her know that it’s not cool to jump all over me when I arrive with her ceaseless demands? It’s like she’s had two hours at work to “warm up” and reach cruising altitude while I’m just aiming myself at the runway for takeoff. She likes to throw around her seniority, too, along with another senior coworker, which is starting to rankle. I don’t want to be the ungrateful junior person, but geez, let a lady land her purse first before expecting her to take off to the work demands at full speed. Any tips?

Right now you’re assuming she should figure this out on her own (and she should) and getting annoyed that she hasn’t, but you haven’t addressed it directly yet and that’s the next step here.

The next few times it happens, say this: “I just walked in and haven’t looked at my email yet. Give me some time to get settled and then I’ll get back to you.”

If she doesn’t get the message from hearing that a few times, then move to this: “I’ve noticed you often have questions about emails from the morning when I’m walking in. My schedule starts at 11, and I’m generally not looking at emails before that. So give me some time when I first arrive to read over anything that’s come in since the day before. I need to do that before I can discuss any of it, but then I’m always happy to talk with you.”

And if it still happens after that, you can joke about it: “This is my 8 am! Give me a few minutes.” Etc.

4. How can I get over being laid off?

I’m so sad. I’m being laid off from a temporary posting because I have a job to go back to while another person is being kept because they do not have another job. I’m so heartbroken as they found new work for this other person and I’m sure that when I leave, they will give my work (a higher position) to this new person since they have to keep finding work for them. I guess I should be happy that they don’t want to lay them off, but I feel I’m getting the short end of the stick just because I negotiated keeping my home position prior to taking this temporary position.

How can I keep my chin up and leave with good terms when I know that they’d rather lay me off than the new hire? I feel so demoralized and that it simply came down to sympathy for the other person. I am a rockstar employee while the other person is solid but is significantly junior to me. What does this tell me of this department? Normally I’d love to work here but I feel so down that they chose the junior employee over me. The only reason I’ve been given is that I have a job and otherwise she’d be laid off so I can’t even say it was for budget reasons.

It sucks to be laid off. And sometimes when something crappy happens, it’s very easy to turn inward and focus on that crappy thing’s impact on us. But in this case, I think you need to step back and look at this more broadly.

This is a company that, when they realized they needed to cut positions, seems to have taken responsibility for that and worked to minimize the damage as much as they could. That’s a good thing.

And this isn’t personal — they didn’t pick you because they liked the other person better. They picked you because you were in a temporary role and had a permanent job to return to; that’s a really big deal, and they acted with compassion in factoring that in. They were picking between (a) you returning to a job that was already waiting for you and (b) your coworker having no employment and no income.

I’m not suggesting you should feel great about getting laid off, but as layoffs go, this one isn’t a terrible set-up. They tried to do the right thing, and they saw that you had a softer landing spot.

In your shoes, I’d try to focus on being glad for that softer landing spot (and also remembering that they might have picked you even if you didn’t have it — because they had to pick someone, and the more junior person was probably cheaper to keep — so it’s good that you had that safety net).

5. My VP insists on leaving papers in my chair instead of my inbox

I’m the admin for a team of four in a large company. It’s an okay job and I’m an okay admin. It’s a step back for me but I need the money. We have a new VP who insists on leaving paperwork for me on my seat. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I have an inbox on my desk for a reason. I’ve told the new VP this several times but he refuses to use the box. He says he doesn’t want his work to be missed. I put his papers in the box, on the bottom. However I’m tempted to start chucking them out. An I overreacting or is he being rude?

You are overreacting. Yes, ideally he’d comply with your request — but ultimately, as someone higher in the hierarchy than you, he can decide how he wants to do this. And who knows, maybe he works with other people who prefer urgent stuff go on their chair so they see it right away, and it’s not reasonable to expect him to track the inbox vs. chair preferences of everyone he works with. Or maybe it’s not that at all; maybe this is just his preference. It’s just not a big deal either way.

And it’s definitely not a big enough deal for you to expend energy or capital on it. Pick up the papers, put them in your inbox, done. (And frankly, rather than sticking them in the bottom of the box, you should look at them to see how they need to be prioritized. You’ve got to prioritize doing your job well over getting petty payback to him.)

I think you’re choosing to see this as some kind of power play. It’s not; it’s just a thing some people do. Let it go.

{ 911 comments… read them below }

    1. Artemesia*

      I don’t even understand why this is annoying. I have worked with so many people who have inboxes that are apparently black holes because nothing that goes in them comes out again. The new boss has no way of knowing if your in box is temporary storage or really active. At home when something important comes in for my husband that I want to make sure he deals with, I always put it on his desk chair. Then he decides where to place it for follow up. I don’t want to hear later, ‘why are we getting a late charge, I don’t remember this bill.’

      1. Mystery Bookworm*

        Eh, I agree that it’s a little annoying. It’s different, of course, if you know someone well and have reason to believe that they might miss your request (as with your example).

        But barring that, it’s generally good form to take people at their word when they request to receive work in a certain way. Frankly, I don’t see that it’s too different from people who prefer emails to phone calls – the phone call may feel more validating to the person making the ask, but it’s disruptive to the person who uses their inbox as an organisation system. (And I think it is a little rude for someone to default to “I don’t know if your system works” before actually giving it a try to see.)

        The issue here, however, is that the VP is above her in the hierarchy and, frankly, that means she has limited ability to push back, as he gets to assign work in whatever way is easiest for him. (Also, her response is way petty.)

      2. LGC*

        Depending on how often it happens, I feel like it’s the RL equivalent of putting the important tag on all your emails. So…I sympathize more with the LW, actually. (Although yeah, they’re being super passive aggressive here.)

        I’m presuming you don’t leave ALL the letters on your husband’s chair, and I think that’s a major difference between you and LW5’s VP. (And I’d hope that if he wrote in with his perspective, he’d also get smacked down.)

        1. Mystery Bookworm*

          > (And I’d hope that if he wrote in with his perspective, he’d also get smacked down.)

          I partially agree in that I think the hierarchy thing is really important here. If a VP wrote in because a *subordinate* was leaving info on their chair instead of delivering it in the preferred method the commentariate woud likely be more sympathetic to how we have a right to our own process (within reason, of course). And rightfully so – bosses (in theory) have more on their plates and their time is more valuable to the company, so they get more leeway in setting administrative flows that work for them.

          To my reading, part of why Alison pushed back in the linked post is because as far as “boss problems” go, leaving items on a chair instead of an inbox is very small potatoes, and it isn’t the sort of thing that merits taking a hard stand.

          But I get why OP doesn’t like it. I wouldn’t be a huge fan either (for some arbitraray reason, the keyboard seems much nicer to me than the chair, but this isn’t really based in any logic).

          1. Kathleen_A*

            I sort of get why the OP doesn’t like it, but I absolutely disagree with her way of dealing with the annoyance. She’s taking a relatively minor error – VP putting mail in a place that is not her first preference (though it probably is the first preference of a lot of people) – and responding with a much, much bigger error, which is to take requests *from the VP* and put them in the bottom of her priority pile. *And* she’s even talking about throwing them away and not dealing with them at all.

            OP, truly I understand that you have a preference and the VP isn’t following that preference. But you reeeeeeeally need to let all that hostility go. It’s taking up a lot more room in your mind than it deserves or than is good for you.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              “…which is to take requests *from the VP* and put them in the bottom of her priority pile. *And* she’s even talking about throwing them away and not dealing with them at all.”

              I’d really question the judgment of someone who thinks this is OK to do.

              Is the chair thing annoying? A little. It used to annoy me, but nowadays I see why people do it, and I don’t miss things. Is this how OP should deal with it? No. Is this the hill for them to die on? I’d say no.

          2. Knotty Ferret*

            There is logic to the keyboard instead of the chair, though!
            When I come back to my desk, I want to sit down and settle in before I tackle the next thing. Putting something on my chair makes me review it before I even get to sit.

            Personally, since VP has explained he doesn’t want his stuff mixed with everyone else’s for visibility reasons, I’d get a “VP inbox” to sit on my desk. That way he’s got somewhere to leave his work that’s still very visible, and it’s off my chair. These specialized inboxes worked for me when they weren’t easier to reach than the general inbox (otherwise everyone uses it instead), but still as accessible as the chair.

            1. MassMatt*

              This seems like overkill. How many inboxes should a person have on their desk?

              While I agree the OP should just let this go, I would not like to receive stuff by having it put on my chair either. I wonder whether some of the resentment comes from feeling as though the boss is making a point of highlighting “I noticed you weren’t here”?

              1. ELWM73*

                I have 7…but tolerate the chair, desk, and keyboard for folks who’s stuff does not fit categorically or physically.

              2. Karyn*

                I had an “inbox – to be completed,” “inbox – in progress,” and “inbox – ASAP.” my bosses were generally good about only using the ASAP inbox for actual ASAP things. One of them was, however, bad about using “high importance” in outlook for EVERY. DAMN. THING.

            2. TootsNYC*

              except, I just pick up that thing on my chair and set it on my desk–and then it WILL get lost.

            3. LGC*

              Better yet, separate inboxes for everyone – I feel like having an inbox for him would come off as petty. (I mean, I’m a pretty petty guy myself, but I get the feeling it’d be way too antagonistic to have a Special Inbox for the Special VP.) Order one of those stacking tray things (which I forgot the name of because I am terrible at office management), and give the team a heads up with a couple of days to transition (because it’ll be a change).

              I didn’t realize it because I’m not a fan of either party in letter 5 anymore (sorry LW5), but it’s not uncommon for senior managers to not be great at voicing issues. (Or junior managers/supervisors. Or individual contributors. People in general, really.) It might be that the VP is pointing out a valid issue (it’s not clear if things are getting done to him), but doing it in a really ineffective manner (by…disregarding LW5’s wishes entirely because he has Concerns).

        2. LGC*

          Okay, doing a bulk reply:

          – I actually meant more if LW5’s VP had written in that he leaves his work for LW5 on their chair, even after LW5 had requested that he put it in their inbox repeatedly. And he was noticing that his work was not getting done quite as quickly. I imagine Alison would have said that he’d need to have A Conversation with LW5 (which I’ve come around to), but I would hope she’d also tell him to…just put it in the inbox unless it’s super important.

          – Tracking back to the original comment I was replying to, I was pointing out that a reason this feels irritating – and even if LW5 is behaving badly, I felt irritated by the VP’s actions when reading this – is because he’s signaling that everything he does is highly important, and thus needs to jump the queue. So it’d be the equivalent of Artemesia leaving all the mail in her husband’s chair – she’s either being careless or saying that the mailers they get are equally as important as the bills. (I mean, obviously it’s different, but it’s a similar message.)

          – My read was that even though the new VP is a senior-level employee, he may not be the only senior employee LW5 serves (or even the only VP, because you can have multiple VPs). LW5 is assigned to a team of four, and at least one of them is a new vice president who disregards LW5’s inbox rules. So that’s another reason why I’m not quite as charitable to the VP – he really might not be as important (relatively speaking), if the other employees are equally senior.

          – I actually have thoughts about the separate inbox thing, which…I wish I’d actually thought of, but it was quarter to 6 in the morning and I was getting dressed for work.

      3. Mel*

        I hate it. I know it’s just a thing some people have picked up, but somehow it does feel like a power play. Possibly because my inbox rarely has much in it, so there’s no black hole aspect.

        I’ve also had coworkers who always put paperwork – not important paperwork, just anything at all- on my scanner or right NEXT to my inbox. Even after requests to put them in the inbox so I can sort them correctly. It’s maddening.

        What is the point of the inbox if not to leave new paperwork there?

        When I really need someone to notice something I put the paperwork where it goes and send a quick email flagging it for them or, depending on their email habits, I leave a short note on top of their keyboard. It’s way less intrusive to me.

        1. RecentAAMfan*

          I guess the thing with the inbox, is that can you immediately see if something new has been added? Yes, if it was empty before, but otherwise? So these seat users (and I confess to being a “beside the inbox” user with my staff) are probably just trying to make sure that it’s clear there’s something new there.

          1. Lance*

            In that case, would tabs of some kind work? Even the little sticker ones, if you can get people to actually use them to show that there’s more on the pile.

            1. Thatlady*

              This seems like a lot more work than just putting new work on someone’s seat or keyboard.

              1. Ghost-It Note*

                Placing it on the keyboard would be a much better solution to me. Placing papers on my chair would infuriate me–it implies that you’re not even allowed to sit down without thinking about the work in question. I don’t think I would mind it anywhere else, honestly; it’s just the chair that would grate on me. Luckily no one has done this to me, and I would certainly never do it to anyone else. It seems extremely rude.

                1. Dragoning*

                  I suspect I would accidentally sit on it–I don’t necessarily inspect my chair before sitting down when I come in from the bathroom or even in for the morning.

                2. Veena*

                  I cannot help but agree. Having someone leave papers on my chair makes my blood boil. It feels so infantilizing to me, like pinning a note to your parents to the front of your shirt in kindergarten. The chair is personal space, where your butt goes and maybe your coat or purse is hanging there. It’s disrespectful to leave work papers there.

                  I wouldn’t ignore the work, but I would be salty about this every single day. I’d probably do something petty like sit on it, and continually send out wrinkled stuff.

                3. TootsNYC*

                  Placing papers on my chair would infuriate me–it implies that you’re not even allowed to sit down without thinking about the work in question.

                  Not work, but inbox related, and your comment reminded me.
                  In a message board about home organizing, someone had her dad living with her family, and he did some of the daily household stuff like bringing in the mail and setting the table. He always put the mail ON HER PLATE at the dinner table when he was clearing off the table and setting the table. (It didn’t help that all that mail was generally bills.)
                  She kept telling him, “here is where the mail goes, I will see it there,” and he kept putting it on her plate.

                  It made her feel like she wasn’t even welcome to sit down at the table for a meal without being reminded about chores. Plus, she’s coming to sit down–what the heck is she supposed to do with the bills and mail.

                  When people put stuff on my chair, I just pick it up and put it in the box without looking at it.
                  Or, I put it on my desk, and then it WILL get overlooked.

          2. TootsNYC*

            At a former job, I was trying to push everyone to using the inbox. (I posted this below)

            I found that in order for ME to effectively use my inbox as a to-do list, I had to go through it every time I went to it; and I trained all my peeps who shared the box with me to do so as well.

            So it didn’t matter that someone’s item had been covered by three or four other things–we looked at them all, every time, and re-determined the priority.

            And as I did that, and people had evidence that my inbox worked, they trusted it more.

            It got so that I truly did use it as a to-do list. If there was something I needed to do that had nothing to do w/ regular workflow (like, expense reports, or call the insurance company for a personal issue), I would write “Toots: expense reports” on a piece of scrap paper and put it in the inbox. I don’t think other department members did that, but I would have been totally OK with them doing so.

        2. Michaela Westen*

          I’ve worked with people who take stuff off their chair, put it on the desk without looking at it, and continue with what they were doing.

        3. TootsNYC*

          like the people who put their dirty socks NEXT TO the hamper (and not bcs they threw and missed). Like, you’ve gone all this way…

        4. Mr. Shark*

          I would be so annoyed if someone did this. I hate it too. The chair is not for paperwork, so don’t put it there. The chair is not the inbox, so don’t put it there.
          If I had the guts, I would take the paperwork and hand it back to the person, and say, “I think you accidentally left this on my chair, because if you wanted me to work on it, you would’ve put it in my inbox.”
          Or better yet, wait until they leave, and put a sticky note on it with the same note, and place it on their chair (or in their inbox, if they have one).
          Passive-aggressive FTW!

      4. WellRed*

        I’m guessing OP hasn’t adjusted to the idea of being an admin, which she says is a step back. That makes this “power play” peel extra insulting ( though, I really don’t think it’s a big deal).

        1. CmdrShepard4ever*

          I think this might be the bigger issue. I have worked as an admin in a big office with a clear defined hierarchy, people that I reported to would leave things on my chair if I was away, and I would leave things on their chair when I was returning things.

          Most of the time it was because whatever paperwork was time sensitive. But other times it was just to let the person know you returned it and they can file/sort how ever they prefer. Putting something on the desk or inbox can get lost in the shuffle of other documents.

          1. TootsNYC*

            if stuff is getting lost in the shuffle of an inbox, then the inbox is not being used effectively by the person who inbox it is, and they need to stop labeling it an inbox.

            1. CmdrShepard4ever*

              I agree with you. I read your post below of how you use your inbox and to me that is the correct way of using the inbox “checking it every time you come back to your desk” even if you just ran to get a cup of coffee or to the copier. But I have run into many people who have an “inbox” who use it as a holding place for work that needs to be done and it might not get checked as often. Based on OP’s comments of being an okay admin and putting the VP’s work at the bottom it makes it seem that they are not properly using the inbox and prioritizing work. What OP is doing is perpetuating a cycle that makes them look bad. VP gives work, OP puts it at the bottom it makes OP look disorganized and further confirms VP’s need to put work on the chair.

            2. M&Ms fix lots of Problems*

              Agreed. Had a former co-worker whose inbox was useless. It wasn’t nice, but one day while he wasn’t there a group of us relabeled it, “Entrance to the Pit of Tartarus.”
              (Took him a month to notice the new label, which should tell most how often he actually checked his inbox. Yes, most of us used his chair for getting him work that was important/time sensitive if he had stepped away from his desk.)

        2. Ego Chamber*

          I’m curious why you say this is a “power play” instead of actually recognizing that this is a power play?

          Putting papers on LW’s chair forces them to deal with the papers by moving them and guarantees they have no plausible deniability if something goes sideways: they had to move the papers, therefore they saw the papers, therefore there’s no reasonable way for them to have not seen the papers. It implies mistrust, or that the VP doesn’t think the LW can prioritize their tasks effectively (which isn’t a great thing to know your boss thinks about you, when you think of admin work as “a step down,” so I get why LW is upset—even though their attitudes about admins could use a little examination).

          My most similar experience was in a paperless office and there were a few higher-ups who marked every. single. email. they sent as urgent and had read receipts turned on. Even things like “funny” jokes about work (pugs in business suits and that kind of shit), which they sent more frequently than actual work emails. It successfully trained me to ignore the urgent flag on all emails and develop muscle memory to refuse read receipts without even thinking about it, so there’s that.

      5. Lance*

        For me, at least, it would be annoying because my chair is where I sit. When I get to my workplace, I’d like to be able to immediately sit and get off my feet, not have to shuffle things around to be able to sit. That, and it would irritate me to have a perfectly reasonable request just casually disregarded.

        Certainly, I get the worry about something being missed, and that OP probably doesn’t really have a choice at this point but to just live with this VP’s tendencies… but there are plenty of ways this can be annoying for someone.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          Yes. I understand the posture regarding hierarchies, but this would be annoying as all hell for me because I would like to sit as soon as I reach my desk and would be pissed as hell to routinely find things in there.

          If the boss doesn’t want to use the inbox over fears that something may be missed, why not just the desktop? Is the desktop that messy that new things would be unnoticed?

        2. Kate R*

          This was my thought too. In the same vein as letter #3, I think leaving stuff on the chair can read like, “this person wants me to deal with their stuff before I even get a chance to sit down!” I can definitely see why that’s annoying, but even if the person wasn’t above OP in the hierarchy, I don’t think this is something to make a huge deal out of. It’s annoying for sure, and I’d probably offer reminders about the inbox, but I’d also re-frame it in my mind that something on my chair just means it needs to get done, not that it’s urgent.

        3. Ghost-It Note*

          This is it exactly. The desk, the keyboard, anywhere else would be fine…but not the chair.

        4. Vemasi*

          Honestly, I think putting it on the chair makes it MORE likely to be misplaced. You have to move it before you sit down, and if you need to gear up and put your purse away and whatnot, you might just toss it on a pile that isn’t the inbox and forget about it. If it’s in the inbox you’ll get to it, and if it’s on the keyboard you are in work mode by the time you have to move it. At least if this is happening in the morning, rather than while LW is on bathroom breaks or something.

          And the fact that it’s a small issue would just make me more angry. If it’s such a small thing, why can’t you just not do it when I tell you it bothers me? But then again, I’ve never worked where someone much higher than me in the hierarchy was often giving me work, so what do I know.

      6. Seeking Second Childhood*

        1. In many places, there’s a “first-in-first-out” rule for sequence of tasks. Putting it on the chair makes it impossible to tell who gave it to you first. (Not that people won’t put their stuff in different order anyway but…)
        2. It’s a dangerous habit because some of us sit down without looking. Most office will survive being sat on, or can be reprinted… but what if it’s original photographs or presentation certificates? And what if it’s not paper?
        My story: I usually sit down without looking…so once I almost sat on a plate of homemade cupcakes a co-worker left for my birthday.
        3. Plus OP has a designated spot for incoming materials — if someone bothers with an inbox, I’m going to extrapolate that the desk is organized. CrapOnChair is not organized. I could see that peeving their pets.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            Exactly. Food on a chair is weird.

            A coworker left s glittery Easter egg on my chair as a joke. Glitter was all over my chair and I was wearing black pants that day. I got off as much glitter as I could but had a meeting with several upper level managers.

            I got teased about “going all out” for that meeting. Not cool.

          2. Ego Chamber*

            Okay, but the food is (usually) on a plate or wrapped in some way and my butt at the office is similarly (usually) wrapped in some way, so the number of barriers between butt-germs and food is usually (at least) two barriers, yes?

            I’m not a fan of the people who bring up how fundamentally disgusting people are in general as a counterpoint to the discussions about keeping sick people away from people with compromised immune systems but I really don’t understand why the outside of the butt of my pants is supposed to be gross. (Full disclosure: I’ve eaten Cheetos that fell in my bra before so there’s a good chance I’m just a disgusting trash mammal and will never understand.)

        1. Lily in NYC*

          Oh my god, the same exact thing happened to me and I’ve even mentioned it here before! But sadly, it wasn’t an “almost” for me; I sat on the dang cupcake. It was chocolate.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Chair-cupcakes are always chocolate, it’s like a rule or something. The only exception to this rules is if you’re wearing white pants, then there’s a 50/50 chance the chair-cupcakes could be red velvet instead of chocolate.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            But even if the desk is unorganized, which is what the inbox is for. That’s the whole purpose of the inbox (said in a Jerry Seinfeld voice)!

            1. Clay on my apron*


              I could actually hear Jerry saying that. Now I want to watch Seinfeld.

      7. pleaset*

        “I don’t even understand why this is annoying.”

        Because you can’t avoid dealing with it in a small way (moving the papers) right away if you want to do other work.

        1. mf*

          This: this is why it’s annoying and also why the VP is doing it. He wants to require that the admin deals with his paperwork before she can do anything else. Essentially, he’s demanding her immediate attention.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            It reminds me a bit of yesterday’s IT letter. “Yeah, I could send an email about my problem–but I could also chase you to the bathroom and explain it while you pee! And in the second one I know you’re hearing about my problem in real time, so I like that better.”

            1. Michaela Westen*

              In the second one you’re communicating verbally while the person is distracted, which makes them more likely to forget the conversation by the time they get back to their desk.
              If the communication is sent in the way they request, they can organize and prioritize it and there’s a much better chance of it getting done.
              I once had a job in a large IT dept. (in ’99, yay Y2K), and everywhere I went people would stop me with requests for support. I took to carrying a notepad and pen and wrote down the requests as I received them. When I realized the notebook was on a shelf in public while I used the restroom, I started carrying it in a covered pad holder, and I’ve used one ever since.

          2. Observer*

            That’s actually not true. All it means is that he wants to be completely sure that they saw it – and that they can’t claim that somehow they didn’t see it.

            Given that the OP says that they are just “ok” and that they see their job as a step down, I can see that the VP might even have some legitimate reason for this.

            The OP’s response ALSO indicates that they could be giving the VP reasons for worrying – Actually seriously considering chucking things from your boss because you don’t like the way it was given to you is seriously over the top. Even sticking it to the bottom of the pile is petty and doesn’t build credibility.

            1. MassMatt*

              But it really isn’t foolproof, some people have mentioned sitting on cupcakes etc left on their chairs. If the document is that urgent, maybe hand it to them in person?

              And the OP mentions this isn’t urgent material, it’s just regular work that comes in while she is away from her desk.

              1. Observer*

                That doesn’t mean that the Boss is engaging in a power play. Even if they are wrong in their thinking, it doesn’t mean that that’s not what they are thinking.

            2. AKchic*

              If a person is “okay”, maybe allowing them to use systems that they know work for them would make them better, rather than trying to upset their tried and true methods of organization?

              And many of us undervalue our own skills in assessment ratings, especially when we’ve taken a demotion in order to pay bills. The whole false humility so as not to seem like a braggart thing. Seems to affect women more than men, but that’s a topic for a different site.

              To me, having been an admin for so long, this is a subtle power play, and a passive-aggressive “do this now” hint. I mean, LW already has to pick it up and move it in order to sit down, so might as well work on it rather than set it aside. They would have to review it and prioritize it anyway, right? Might as well go all-in and just get the work done ASAP.
              That’s the tone I get from the chair placement. That’s the subtle, unspoken message I’ve always received when it’s done to me, and it’s always been the self-important (and in a few cases, narcissistic dillweeds) managers who pull these moves. The rest will use the inbox.

              1. Observer*

                Not really. If the OP is otherwise a rock star, then that’s an argument. But, by and large it’s kind of hard to make the argument that needing to move paper from the chair is really going to make an OK admin terrible or that not needing to move those papers is going to turn them into a rock star.

                And by the OP’s own admission, the hit to their work is retaliation over a “peeve” rather than a true hit to their workflow.

                1. Ego Chamber*

                  If you reread what you just wrote, what you’re really saying is that needing to move paper from the chair might lead to an “okay” admin becoming a terrible admin (since she’s considering chucking the requests outright). :)

          3. JB (not in Houston)*

            No, not necessarily. In my office people routinely leave stuff for each other in our chairs. It’s not because we want them to deal with it before anything else. We have absolutely no way to know why he’s doing it.

            It’s fine if this is a pet peeve of yours, OP, but you’re building this up onto a bigger deal than it needs to be.

            1. fposte*

              Yes, I don’t think this has to be viewed adversarially, and in general that’s a bad workplace default. It can be just about the papers, not about value and respect.

            2. Aunt Piddy*

              I have literally never worked in an office where putting things on chairs/keyboards wasn’t the norm. It would never occur to me that someone could blow it this out of proportion! If someone came to me with guns blazing accusing me of being disrespectful, I’d be pretty peeved.

            3. Mr. Shark*

              It may not be the norm at the OPs work. And we’ve seen others say that would annoy them to no end (including me). The purpose of the Inbox is to place items that are coming into your queue into the Inbox, so placing them on your chair makes no sense, unless you don’t have an Inbox.

          4. Kathleen_A*

            Everybody in my office leaves stuff on other people’s chairs (or sometimes keyboard). Everybody – admin, president, team leader, office manager, same-level colleague, everybody. I can’t speak for the OP’s office, but here it is definitely not a power play. It’s just an acknowledgement that stuff in “in” boxes is usually low-priority mail, not something that the recipient needs to know about it that day.

              1. dramallama*

                It may simply be a matter of not realizing how much it annoys her. Like, right now I’m astonished at the people making a case for how much it annoys or inconveniences them– I’ve never seen it as an issue a single day in my life. It’s like if OP came to the VP and said she feels really strongly all the toilet paper in the restroom should be a certain way; VP is probably regarding this as something so insignificant it’s not worth thought or debate.

                1. Kathleen_A*

                  I agree. How to put this delicately…the VP probably sees it as no big deal, and probably cannot possibly imagine that anybody else would see it as a big deal, either. Like dramallama, I am having a hard time understanding why this is a problem. I see now that it is, and I acknowledge that, and if I worked with someone who was really, really, really peeved by this, I’d try to stop.

                  But…again, how to put this delicately?…it would not be in the OP’s best interests to make it clear how big of a deal this is to her. She will not come out of this looking like a reasonable person.

              2. fposte*

                I think it’s possible the VP could be dealing with this better–as I said elsewhere, I don’t know what he said when she asked. But just because he didn’t stop when asked doesn’t mean it’s a power play, any more than it’s a power play when people have admins print stuff. It may be directly or indirectly about power, in that he has more than she does because he’s over her in the hierarchy and therefore his preferences outrank hers, but that doesn’t mean he’s doing this to make any particular point about who has the power.

                1. Kathleen_A*

                  If it is a power play, it’s a pretty dang mild one! Let’s just say if he truly wanted to find even a subtle way to say “I am more powerful than you, so neener, neener, neener,” I’m pretty sure he could do better than this. Almost anybody could.

                  Now, maybe this is just one of the many subtle ways this particular VP says “neener, neener, neener.” and perhaps that’s intensifying her irritation? But if so, the OP doesn’t mention it, and in any case, this is not the hill that I personally would choose to die on.

                2. fposte*

                  @Kathleen–yes, maybe this is a situation where it’s not really about the paper–and of course if that’s the case, fixing the paper won’t fix the problem. And if it *is* really just about the paper, it would probably be helpful to realize that then it’s not about respect, which might help the OP be more philosophical about a situation that I suspect isn’t going to change.

        2. LawBee*

          Yeah. It falls under “petty annoyances that, while petty, are still annoying”. Although I don’t care where my staff leaves work for me, I can totally see how this would drive someone up the wall.

          But at the end of the day, OP -a self-professed “okay admin” – should just suck it up and deal, and stop trying to get back at her boss by not doing his work. That’s just going to backfire on her, not him.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            The same amount of time it would have taken him to just put it where she is going to put it.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Sure. But he’s not, and he’s above her in the hierarchy, and this is way too much energy to expend on something that takes two seconds of her time.

              Plus, he may legitimately need to ensure she sees it quickly, which she may not if it’s in her inbox. Or if being just an “okay” admin (as she terms herself) means she might not handle it with urgency otherwise, and she needs to.

        3. ...*

          Yes, I agree with this. This is something that my former coworkers used to do and it always annoyed me. I was working in a library as an hourly worker in the Tech Services department and when I’d come to work in the morning, there would sometimes be a pile of books, phone chargers, laptops, or whatever on my chair left by the overnight staff that needed work done on them. So before I was even able to clock in, I had to deal with it (in a small way, sure, but still deal with it).

      8. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

        I don’t understand the annoyance either. I prefer that things be left on my chair, because then can triage where it goes in my system, which I understand but which is probably not immediately recognizable to most people. Even now, when I work from home, I ask my husband to put any mail or documents on my chair (he tends to put things in places I’d never look, and then we have a late electricity bill).

        1. JM60*

          It’s placing an object in someone’s way. Even if it didn’t take much time to move it, it’s still annoying to most people. IMO, it’s for unless it’s unusually important or you know it doesn’t annoy the person.

          It also makes it possible for the person to accidentally sit on it. After all, Lots of people don’t look at their chair before each time they sit on it.

      9. Llellayena*

        Yes. Basically placing it on the chair is guaranteeing that the recipient sees that it arrived, glances at it, and sets it in their mind as “I will need to deal with this.” Not everyone needs this visual reminder, but it is much easier to miss a new piece of paper on top of other papers than a sheet of paper on a chair seat or over the keyboard.

        1. JM60*

          “guaranteeing that the recipient sees that it arrived”

          Or that they sit on it because they didn’t check the chair before sitting. An alternative would be to put it in front of their keyboard.

      10. Memyselfandi*

        I want to say something for the OP and others who find this annoying. When you are in a position where you are performing tasks for others and have relatively little control over your work, small things like having others place their work where you want it can loom large. It’s like the chair is one thing that is your own, and others keep using it as a dumping ground. Although I have never felt this way about people putting work on my chair (and I have worked as an admin and still receive work from others) I can understand the feeling. It is entirely possible to be irked by it and know at that same time that it is not reasonable to be irked. So, you reach out to someone else for perspective. After all, that is what the OP asked for. Thanks be to AAM for providing that perspective for so many of us.

        1. Ankle Grooni*

          I think this is my viewpoint as well. I hate when people put things on my chair or keyboard instead of my very visible and usually not very full inbox. To me, it’s an implicit message that I don’t know how to prioritize work or I let things slip through the cracks. I pride myself on my reputation of getting tasks done quickly and efficiently.

          My immediate office mates know not to leave work on my chair, but sometimes they forget, and they get gentle reminders. Nothing I can do about the random person who shows up and, because of being burnt by others, put it on my chair. I know, deep-down, that this is a personal problem and not one to make into a public problem.

          Another pet peeve with my officemates is when, while on the phone or involved in typing something, they hand me a form instead of putting in the inbox. Depending on my snark level for the day, I either take the form from their hand and put it directly into the inbox or point to the inbox.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            There is nothing snarky about either of those reactions. If I was in the middle of a task and someone tried to interrupt/distract me with (non-urgent) paperwork, I wouldn’t hesitate to do either of those things—especially if I was on a (work) phone call. Rude.

        2. TreeSilver*

          This is a useful insight. I always figured leaving things on a chair was a way to ensure someone received it but without disturbing whatever organization or working system they had on their desk, which I viewed as “personal workspace.” The chair for me was a way to indicate, “I’m putting this here so you don’t miss it, but I don’t want to mess up your organizational system on your desk.”

          Maybe this is because I work with a lot of people who organize by stacks of papers, etc., on their desk/workspace?

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            My desk is organized chaos, and I’d likely miss or at least be delayed in seeing something that wasn’t in my chair or on my keyboard. It makes sense to ME but not likely anyone else. :)

            In short, I appreciate the chair drops much more than I would a desk drop.

          2. Spreadsheets and Books*

            This is my logic. I have no idea how anyone else wants their stuff. Maybe something I think is an inbox is just a random tray for papers and not an inbox at all. Maybe all of those random piles are actually organized in some way. Maybe they’re in the middle of a busy day of meetings and checking an inbox won’t be a high priority, but I have something urgent. Putting it on the chair says “here you go, do whatever you need to do with this so that I don’t mess up your flow.”

            1. Mr. Shark*

              If you have an Inbox, that is the whole purpose of the Inbox. I don’t see why that’s so hard to understand.

              1. CanuckCat*

                Because some offices provide them and people don’t use them? Inboxes are a standard part of office setup/supplies at my work but I’d say only our Finance team actively uses them as an inbox. It’s not an absolute that just because this thing is sitting on your desk, everyone’s going to use it the same way.

                1. Mr. Shark*

                  In this case, the OP is stating that she has an Inbox, so it should be used for that purpose. Others who don’t have an inbox, of course, people won’t put it in some random box on their desk.
                  It’s easy enough if the AA has organized her desk and asked people to put any incoming items in the Inbox, that those who are getting support from her should comply with that little request–the little control the AA has over her own desk and her own job.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                It really depends on organizational culture. I have an inbox, but it’s in the vestibule of my office space, and I have to get up to check it. The only things that I get in my inbox are postal mail and interoffice mail, which circulates 3-5 times per day. Things that require immediate attention go in chairs; overnight/courier deliveries are hand-delivered and signed for. This is the way the whole company works and is not unusual for my industry based on a quick survey of peers. We work on a lot of urgent/deadline work, so having to move it to sit down is a feature, not a bug.

        3. Cheryl Blossom*

          Huh, that’s an interesting take. For the record, I have worked only in administrative jobs, and I currently work in a showroom where the most personal item I have on my desk is my water bottle, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way. That doesn’t mean you’re wrong; it’s just not universal.

          1. Memyselfandi*

            I don’t think it is universal. The underlying issue is control. My experience is that when something bothers me and it doesn’t seem quite logical the reason is something to do with control. Personally, I consider my office and my desk and chair public space especially if I am not there, but in my opinion if I am in the office someone should acknowledge me before they enter (less than asking permission, more than just marching in and plopping themselves down). It irks me, but it isn’t really reasonable when there is a meeting scheduled and folks are arriving for the meeting and clearly not everyone shares my feeling.

        4. Vemasi*

          This is my viewpoint as well. I have made a few comments trying to explain why having things put on your chair is annoying to some people, and why having your request not to have that done is even more annoying. But in the end, what the OP asked is “am I overreacting or is he being rude?” Alison said that OP was overreacting, but I would say that the answer to both of those is yes, OP is overreacting AND the VP is being rude. He is being rude by ignoring OP’s request to stop, not really by putting the papers on the chair, because for some people this is not rude. But in the end OP will probably have to excuse him for it, because people above you in the hierarchy get to do things that would be rude if they weren’t, because they have more responsibility and decision-making power.

          OP needs to accept that the VP is most likely not doing this IN ORDER to be rude, it is just that he probably does not have the processing power to remember you don’t like it, and/or doesn’t realize how annoying it is to you, and it is not worth your political capital to make him aware. Just accept it as another part of being managed.

      11. Dust Bunny*

        My supervisor frequently has so many papers on his desk and in his inbox–we’re in a paper-heavy discipline–that I leave stuff on his chair to make sure he’ll see it. Stuff has gotten overlooked before because various staff didn’t realize that the things in their inbox were new.

      12. Kyrielle*

        I wonder whether simply giving him his own inbox (that is, have another one on the desk for just his papers) would help. He could then see it was empty after his requests were handled.

        1. ELWM73*

          This is the reasoning behind the 7 inboxes-owners can tell if their work has been acknowledged without asking me.

      13. Cheryl Blossom*

        I don’t either- I don’t know how any of my coworkers process and organize their paperwork, so if I have to leave something on one of their desks, my main goal is to make sure they can see something new was left for them.

      14. Wing Leader*

        It’s not annoying to me because this is very common in my office. If something needs to be done or seen, it goes in the person’s chair.

        1. Rainy*

          I would sit on so much stuff if this were the default in my office. Thank goodness it’s not!

      15. Adminx2*

        I once had someone lose a fedex that I left on their chair when they were on vacation. Important papers. Never chairs ever again!! Inbox if it’s there, or some specific place on their desk WITH an email follow up.

      16. Richard Hershberger*

        My boss leaves stuff on my chair, but then again I leave stuff on his.

      17. Susana*

        It’s really annoying. It can get ink or something else on your skirt or pants, and it’s a way of saying DON’T EVEN SIT DOWN before looking at this!

      18. Arts Akimbo*

        Yeah, I would a million times prefer stuff be left on my chair, especially urgent stuff. The only time I do not want work left on my chair is when I am sitting in it!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I had the opposite problem. My boss is the only person who fills the in-tray. Sometimes super important stuff would get buried with regular stuff.
      We chatted a few times about it being okay to leave stuff on my chair or keyboard to indicate, “Do first” or “Top Priority”. I ended up saying, “You are my boss, it’s okay to tell me what you need done first thing. I need you to do that, so I can be a good employee…” sigh. I think that clinched it.

      Perhaps OP can try something like this, “Boss if I see it on my chair or on my keyboard I am going to assume that it’s top priority and needs to be done ahead of all other work.” This might help the boss to think about what she is doing.

      As a side bonus, it does not really bother me if something is occasionally on my chair/keyboard, as I know she has her reasons for saying it’s a priority. (Many times I cannot figure out why it’s a priority but that is not important. I just get it done.)

    3. Lizzy May*

      I’m an “I hate it” person. For me it feels like my boss doesn’t trust my processes despite the fact that those processes have worked successfully for a long time now. Also, I just want to be able to sit and change my shoes before I have to engage with work.

      I have had some success convincing bosses that they can leave truly urgent work on my keyboard. I still have to engage with it in some sense before I can move on but it doesn’t interrupt my ability to sit, put away my purse, change my shoes and get into work mode. Not every boss has gotten on board and sometimes people forget and slide back into their own preferences, but it feels like a good middle ground to me.

      1. Yorick*

        I hate the chair mail too. My desk is pretty clean, there isn’t much paper. If you leave it anywhere on the desk, I’ll see it right away. But there’s an inbox there for a reason.

        1. Mr. Shark*

          Yes, there’s an inbox there for a reason. I’d be more willing to have them put it on my keyboard rather than my chair. It still doesn’t make sense to not use the inbox when that’s its purpose.

          1. fposte*

            But the purpose of the office is to get work done, not to ensure papers are put in inboxes. Don’t make the inbox more important than the work.

    4. BetsyTacy*

      I expect that people put new ‘priority’ stuff (like stuff my boss gives me) on my chair. Likewise, I put new items on the chairs of my employees if they’re not around. I personally sort all that stuff into inboxes (as in multiple); however, I get that other people may do it other ways.

      This isn’t personal, it’s the standard way I have operated in multiple offices for more than a decade. I think I do have one staffer who actively uses their inbox; however, I like the absolute knowledge that they’ve had to lay hands on the document in order to move forward.

      Side note: I did have one boss who used to just flat out sit on stacks of documents on her chair, but the only way to get her to actually look at something was to physically stand in her office and say ‘This is X. It is important because of Y. You will need it/ need to take action by Z. Do you have any questions?’ (Shocker: she was a nightmare in many ways… including berating staff for not giving her critical info before a meeting when in fact she was literally sitting on the memo…)

      1. Michaela Westen*

        That sounds like my boss, except he doesn’t berate. No matter where I leave it, he’ll be too busy/distracted to look at it until our meeting when I mention it – and then he looks at it for the first time and deals with it. Sigh.
        Unless I send him texts asking for direction… then he sees it by email since he’s not in the office…

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      Putting things in someone’s chair is the default at my organization. There are a few reasons for it – first, the way the office is set up, many people’s inboxes are not in their office, so they have to make a trip to their inbox to see if anything new is there. Time-sensitive things need to be seen as fast as possible and, on some people’s desks, it’s difficult to tell what’s a new v. old pile, so chair it is. We cover this in orientation so people are neither surprised by it and so they don’t leave something urgent in someone’s inbox rather than where they would expect to see it.

      Someone who’s highly irritated to finding work-related things in their chair would have a hard time here. It’s a company culture thing.

    6. Kathryn*

      Ok, I wrote the annoying VP chair question. My inbox never stays full long not just because I do have a work ethic, but high priority work typically is generated through emails or phone calls. Therefore I’m not putting something high priority on the bottom of my list. His expenses just get done after the SVP and department managers. Sometimes that means they get done the next day. Also, with how our desks are set up this VP actually has to walk past my inbox and in order to put papers on my chair. The other two people in the department have no problems using this inbox.

      1. Kathleen_A*

        I do understand your annoyance (somewhat). But you’ve got to let it g-o-o-o-o-o-o-o. If this is a power play, it’s a very weak one, and you need to save your fire for something bigger. But if the VP is basically an OK manager, chances are really good that it’s not any kind of power play – it’s just that the VP, for whatever reason, believes that putting stuff on people’s chairs is a more effective way to make sure they see it. It certainly is in my office – people of all ranks do this to each other all the time around here.

        So. When you get back to your desk and see something on your chair, handle it exactly as you would any other piece of paper that is equivalent in priority. Then…move on with your life. By dwelling on this, you’re not hurting the annoying VP at all. You’re letting this petty thing take up way too much space in your life, and you’re making yourself unhappy. My advice – and I think many other AAM commenters would agree – is that you should save your energy for bigger issues. Good luck to you!

      2. Mr. Shark*

        I feel your pain, Kathyrn. It seems like it would be simple enough for him to use the inbox, and he’s just full of his own importance so much so that he thinks his work has priority and he shouldn’t respect your wishes.
        As other people have pointed out, you can only request so many times.

      3. Ego Chamber*

        I’m apparently in the minority because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with putting (non-urgent) work from the VP at the bottom of your inbox (as long as the work is still finished within the expected time frame, which it sounds like it is, so there’s seriously no issue).

        I think the VP is being a little shit by ignoring an established process in the company just because he feels like it, it’s definitely a power play and he sounds like an ass, but his personal failings are nothing to do with you. He’s probably not going to change* and there’s no point in trying, just get through it as best you can.

        *It could happen, since you said he’s new and maybe his bosses won’t be impressed with the behavior, but I wouldn’t hold my breath or anything.

  1. One too many hours as a shop steward*

    RE: #1

    I’ve occasionally seen this in older CBAs. It’s usually there alongside any number of other leave provisions. Knowing how CBAs work, it’s usually hard to eliminate something seen as a benefit, but management is usually not a fan of expanding them, letting things like this float on for ages.

    Even if there isn’t a CBA in the picture, there might be somewhere in the organization, and the org may simply unify its leave policies.

    1. Marriage leave*

      I’m not sure what CBA is but my company (not US) offers a week of leave, as you said among many other leave provisions. It’s a great benefit and a kindness to coworkers who are making a major life change. I really like it, and personally I don’t think it’s unfair to offer a benefit that not everyone uses or needs. I think it would be strange to ONLY have this benefit for marriage. My company also offers special leave of varying lengths for childbirth & childcare, nursing care (like taking care of elderly relatives), illness or injury, special training when you hit certain seniority milestones…

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        I don’t think this is comparable to maternity or family leave — in those cases you have things taking up your time that mean you’ll need to take time off work (or hire expensive in-home nursing care for sick relatives). Giving time off for a honeymoon is pure bonus. If employees *need* extra time in order to take any marriage-related vacation, that’s probably a sign that your overall paid time off is way too low and should be increased for everyone, regardless of whether they’re getting married.

        1. not a dr*

          I’m Canadian, so this may be different, but here parents can take up to 18 month of parental leave PLUS the company offers an additional week of “new parent” leave. The other poster says they are not in the US so they probably live somewhere where this extra time is actually a perk vs the US which has sad parental leave practices.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            But if they have decent leave in general, it seems especially weird to offer even more extra leave for getting married. If you’re taking a vacation, use vacation time for it. The fact that it’s a marriage-related vacation shouldn’t matter.

          2. Michaela Westen*

            My understanding is US vacation and leave are less than most developed countries.

        2. Pommette!*

          I think this sums it up well.
          Care leave (parental, compassionate, etc.) is a social good that should be offered to people with special responsibilities. We all benefit.
          Employers should offer enough vacation for people to cover the small joys of life as they see fit (including honeymoons, if that’s their thing).
          Those are two different things, and earmarking marriage and other leave both muddies the distinction and is legitimately unfair to people who don’t marry.

  2. toomanybooks*

    When I got married I was just hoping I could actually take my two weeks’ vacation time to have a proper honeymoon. I thought, “Well, I hope my boss lets me take off this much time at once, I mean, it’s my honeymoon so it’s not going to happen again.”

    I think it’s nice to provide extra time off for certain big life events, and I feel like this isn’t unique to this experience – like when family leave is offered to new parents, for example. I’ll never have kids, but I’m not jealous of maternity leave.

    Ideally we’d all get plenty of paid time off for vacation, but I don’t think it’s wrong that people get to take advantage of a likely once-in-their-career-at-this-company extra week as a special bonus (like a wedding gift).

    1. HannahS*

      Parental leave is 1000% not a vacation or a reward for having a child. In its most basic form, it allows women to recover from pushing a human being out of their bodies. In its more extended form, it allows new parents to care for and bond with their children. It’s akin to giving time off for funerals and elder care, not two weeks in Cabo.

      1. SDJ*

        I don’t think “toomanybooks” was saying parental leave is a vacation or a reward. They said, “it’s nice to provide extra time off for big life events”. Extra time off doesn’t inherently mean vacation.

        1. Agnodike*

          But that’s like saying “it’s nice to provide extra time off for treatment of a major illness.” It’s not nice so much as necessary.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            But a lot of companies don’t. You just lose your job. Which is nice when they offer it.

          2. Oaktree*

            This is really just hair-splitting. You’re derailing from the main point to focus on semantics.

            1. Agnodike*

              I actually don’t think the distinction between providing a “nice” bonus and what a company’s responsibility to its employees should be is at all semantic, but thanks for chiding me.

        2. Super Dee Duper Anon*

          Along these lines… toomanybooks was not commenting on the worthiness or value of paid parental leave.

          They were simply pointing out that there are already a variety of culturally accepted leave types or extra benefits that will never be equally applicable to all employees. So that particular argument against this particular situation doesn’t really hold water.

          1. Just Elle*

            I agree with your take. I don’t think there’s anything to be gained from being jealous of “perks” we don’t qualify for.

            I just don’t see it as being inherently unfair. Its not like they’re only extending the benefit to heterosexual marriage or something. The perk universally applies to all people who want to take advantage (although most people wouldn’t choose to enter into a marriage just to get a week vacation). Its very much the same as how a free gym membership wouldn’t apply to people who don’t work out, or free car charging doesn’t apply to people who don’t have electric cars, or free coffee doesn’t apply to people who don’t like coffee (although, don’t get me started on how many different kinds of tea we now have to stock to appease tea drinkers).

            Why not let people enjoy a unique perk? How is it better for morale to take it from everyone? When I got married, it was my first year at my new job and I didn’t have enough vacation time. I had to take unpaid time off for the wedding, and delay our honeymoon a year. Honestly, if a perk like this had been offered, it would have been huge for me. And most other major life events are covered for me in other ways, for example time off to help an elderly parent move is covered by various employee assistance programs.

          2. Name Required*

            It does hold water, when those types of leave aren’t gifts or rewards for achievements, but instead consolations or necessary to aid in recovery. Bereavement, elder care, medical leave, and maternity leave are not equal to an extra week of vacation for marriage.

          3. JM60*

            Just because there are some benefits that unequally benefit employees doesn’t mean that all inequality in benefits are okay. That is a bad rebuttal.

            There are very good reasons to give medical leave to employees, even though some may never benefit from it, because those who do use it need it for extenuating circumstances, and people who don’t use it probably don’t need it. Your wedding or honeymoon may be a once in a lifetime special vacation (if you only get married once). However, people who don’t get married (or just do a low key wedding) may still want a once in a lifetime vacation too! There’s no good reason to offer extra vacation for those who get married than for those who don’t.

      2. Marriage leave*

        Marriage leave is not reward for getting married either, usually. It allows people to handle bureaucratic and logistical and religious and civil and practical obligations. I encourage you to read Singlemingle’s comment below, it’s a good example.

        1. China Beech*

          So non-married people don’t have events in their lives that require extra effort?!

          1. Karen from Finance*

            But the point is that there are plenty of accomodations made for those types of events, as well.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              But there aren’t, always. An extra week off for marriage is pretty cut and dried, but other life events are more nebulous and people might be at the mercy of HR or higher-ups to decide what does and does not qualify, which means that a lot of people might not ever get this perk. If marriage counts but, say, they decide taking care of a sick pet doesn’t, even if the pet genuinely requires hourly care, then I’ve been working for 25 years and I don’t think I’ve ever yet had a life event that might earn me this benefit.

              If there isn’t a clear-cut way to make it equitable, then people who are getting married can squeeze their life events into normal working hours and vacation time along with the rest of us.

              1. Karen from Finance*

                > If marriage counts but, say, they decide taking care of a sick pet doesn’t, even if the pet genuinely requires hourly care, then I’ve been working for 25 years and I don’t think I’ve ever yet had a life event that might earn me this benefit.

                And in that scenario, I’d fight anything to let you take that time off. I understand not all circumstances are clear-cut, but let’s make it equitable in a way that we all get what we need, not where no one gets what they need.

              2. Grapey*

                Then the problem is that there are no benefits for those life choices. Petition your employer for them, but don’t try to take away the ones that some people DO get.

                1. Dust Bunny*

                  That still puts the onus on employees to petition for a benefit that they may never get, versus a benefit that a select few are guaranteed. Which sucks.

                  If the employer isn’t willing to apply this equitably, then, no, nobody should have it. I agree that they *should* make it work for everyone, but right now they’re not, and achieving it apparently creates more work for those who aren’t benefiting, without any guarantee that they ever will.

              3. RUKiddingMe*

                “..,then people who are getting married can squeeze their life events into normal working hours and vacation time along with the rest of us.”

                Agreed. When I married my current husband I was in Morocco. To get martied there as a foreigner is … interesting, and a maddive time suck.

                First the US consulate has to sign off. Give them money and they sign. They don’t care.

                Then multiple translations of all of my official American documents (and they want every damn thing!), multiple interviews with judges at different court levels (i.e. county, state, federal).

                An *all day trip from Casablanca to Rabat to get one paper signed off (not at all optional), police interview, medical exams, finger prints, criminal background checks (local and international including Interpol).

                Money spent on every level for official stamps (I swear the economy runs in stamps), bribes (yes, really), and on and on.
                We both had to be there for 99.99999% of all of that. We still worked it into the regular course of our lives.

                I’ve gotten married in the US. It was a cake walk by comparison.

                * train from Casablanca to Rabat. Arrive by 8 am. Drop off paper. Go fo stuff all day. Be back at 3pm. Wait…receive signed form. Train back to Casablanca

        2. Genny*

          So where’s my bonus PTO for buying a house? There’s a lot of bureaucratic and logistical hurdles that go along with that too. Why is it just the hurdles of a new marriage that merit bonus PTO?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yeah, and buying a house actually requires far more time for logistics than getting married does.

            This is also a week off to use any time that year. There’s no requirement that it even be tied to the wedding or honeymoon.

            1. Pescadero*

              I can’t agree…

              I’ve only gotten married once, but I’ve bought 3 houses… and the logistics of getting married were WAY more time consuming than buying a house. Like orders of magnitude worse.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Really? Maybe this is a difference in countries. I’ve gotten married once and bought three houses. Getting a marriage license and being legally wed took about 45 minutes. Buying houses was days of paperwork and a half day for the closing.

                1. Pescadero*

                  I’m in the USA.

                  I think it is because “getting a marriage license and being legally wed” was only about 2% of the overall work.

                  Getting an officiant, a ceremony location, a rehearsal dinner location, a wedding reception location, wedding reception catering, a band, alcohol service, tuxes and dresses for wedding party, and on and on and on… took WAY more time than the actual getting married.

                  Although – getting a marriage license took me a lot longer than 45 minutes. In Michigan the couple has to BOTH appear together at the County Clerk with a bunch of documentation, at least one business day before but not more than 33 days before the wedding… and they’re only open 9-4 Monday through Friday…

                  I think getting my marriage license took about 2x as much time as signing any of my half dozen mortgages.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Oh sure! But all that stuff is optional. (I realize that’s not a perfect argument. I mean, funerals are optional too and we still want people to have bereavement leave. But I don’t think “getting married takes a huge amount of time” is what this is about, because lots other life events do too.)

                3. Dagny*

                  Alison, if you think that it’s “optional” for people of faith to get married according to their faith tradition (e.g., by a priest or a pastor), then you need a basic primer on both religion and non-discrimination.

                  I was required by the church in which I wed (my husband’s) to fill out paperwork and put in a deposit six months in advance; work with a church wedding coordinator; attend a half-dozen premarital counseling sessions; select readings and music, and get the same approved by the church; be appropriately attired; attend a rehearsal the evening prior; and a lot of other things.

                  My faith is not optional, and my faith has requirements for what constitutes a valid marriage ceremony. Sorry.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Sorry, I was too flip there. You’re right that religious requirements can make it take longer. I still don’t think it takes significantly more time than many other significant things in life.

                5. JM60*


                  Even for religious weddings, most of the things you mentioned are optional for most religions. For instance, a valid Catholic wedding doesn’t require that it take place in a Church, doesn’t require any music, doesn’t require a congregation (just 2 witnesses is sufficient), doesn’t require a rehearsal (the wedding may only be an exchange of vows and that’s it). Since other things such as counseling may be required by individual parishes you wish to get married at, but aren’t required for getting married within the religion. The only organizing that would be strictly necessary for a Catholic wedding would be making arrangements with a minister, who doesn’t necessarily need to be a priest (a deacon can officiate).

                  I realize that not all religions are the same in this regard, but I think it’s safe to say that most work around getting married are for things that are optional, even for most people who need a religious wedding.

              2. Jen*

                Wedding planning may be more time consuming than buying a house, but all of the planning happens in advance, and the actual event is typically on a weekend. But buying a house requires a long day of signing paperwork, which has to happen during normal business hours, and then an intensive move.

              3. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway*

                As someone who will be married in 10 days and am taking 2 weeks of regular PTO: just renting an apartment in NYC takes 2-5x as much time overall vs. planning and attending my wedding have taken thus far, and it is far more time sensitive. Any adult who isn’t currently married can get married in the US, in many states with little to no waiting period from getting the license (*provided it won’t destroy your ability to get benefits like ssdi or SNAP — it’s still a privileged status for people well above the poverty line). It’s a low bar beyond the luck of meeting someone in the right place/timeframe!

                It is less paperwork than say: getting global entry (needed more documents, a special appointment, had to be booked far in advance), renting a car, doing your taxes, getting a new driver’s license, getting an IUD!, buying a house or buying a new car. Co-habitating was a much bigger life event than marriage will be for me because for the most part things won’t change except our tax forms, hospital forms, and the fact that my really Catholic cousin will let us share a room when we visit. Marriage is a legal agreement in the US and a government form, regardless of your other beliefs.

                If you choose to devote one to two?! years of your free time planning a blowout with matching napkins and 10 bridesmaids and a bunch of locations/events or whatever, that is your personal desire for a big wedding and not “getting married”, and is no more valid than anyone else’s life choice to buy a house, spend extra time with family (blood or chosen), take a long vacation, etc.

                And I have now experienced the phenomenon of people suddenly being totally supportive about time off for my wedding vs. other time off (example: multiple deaths in the family in a 2 month window), and while it’s nice I suppose, it’s put in stark relief how judgmental and narrow-minded people I work with are when it comes to anything being important if it isn’t a big ol’ heteronormative wedding, even in a liberal place where it’s fairly normal to be single into your 30s and 40s (or always) and unusual to be devoutly religious.

                My opinion is still that weddings are not more special than other life events and if anyone a work had given me even a fraction of the empathy or slack when my partner had a major surgery 2 years ago, I might feel differently. I need no slack for this, I am not distressed or caregiving right now.

                This policy sounds like great way to create resentment and an us vs. them atmosphere among the already marrieds / singletons and the “happening to be wed while employed there”.

                Autumnheart is exactly right!!!

          2. blackcat*

            A weeks worth of PTO for house hunting/buying would be FABULOUS. Intermittent time off to deal with the buying process, and then two or three days to move?
            YES PLEASE.

            1. Autumnheart*

              I took a week of PTO to do all that, because it was just the easiest way to navigate all the running around I had to do. I agree that having the time off is really handy.

              I guess I have a knee-jerk reaction to employment benefits that reward people for adhering to a particular social template. Caregiving in any form is different–someone is dependent on that care. But rewarding people for getting married smacks of bias. It tells employees that being married makes you a better employee, the same way bias tells employees that having kids makes you a better employee if you’re a MAN, but a worse one if you’re a woman. In my opinion, employers should not be rewarding employees for their life choices, and it’s clear that this PTO is a reward, not a personal need. People get married every day without taking a honeymoon. If they want a honeymoon, they should use their PTO for it. Employers should not be reinforcing social bias with inequitable compensation.

              That being said, I have no problem with coworkers contributing to a person’s life event on an informal, non-sponsored basis. We have a card/collection for people who have babies, get married, suffer a bereavement, etc., and managers may certainly offer additional flexibility to those employees to help them get through the rough spots, but it’s not a formal change in their compensation.

              1. Liz*

                I agree! And while I agree with giving EVERYONE an extra week off for whatever, another huge “life event”, well, some of us, myself included, simply don’t have those. I’m not married, i don’t have kids, so no graduations etc., i dont’ own a house, nor will anytime in the near future, and so on. So I think i would prefer the “every three years get an extra week of PTO” for everyone, regardless of what’s going on in their lives.

                Because if it were limited to “life events’ however defined, I doubt I would ever qualify for it.

        3. fposte*

          Though the marriage leave in the OP isn’t doing that, since it can be taken anytime during that year. That maximizes the optics that this is a reward, not a utility.

      3. Dontlikeunfairrules*

        Deleting this and the resulting debate about maternity leave because it’s derailing and off-topic.

        1. Sylvan*

          Bold of you to assume any of us will benefit from Social Security.

          Anyway, how about that OP and marriage leave, folks?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          These little beings will also grow to be the ones who cut our hair, doctor us, help us with our taxes and so on. It’s all stuff we need. Living in a group has its expenses/costs. I used to picture living alone on an island. How would that go for me? NOT well.

        3. China Beech*

          Because there aren’t enough people on the planet stretch our limited resources as it is?! The zombie apocalypse hasn’t yet happened; we don’t really have to worry about “the human race continuing” just yet.

        4. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          Please explain how it helps society when the planet is overpopulated, animals are going extinct save humans, and humans are destroying everything in their paths? X having a child doesn’t help me in the slightest.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I would imagine there are broader arguments we can have about global warming and sort-of re-hauling our whole society…But overall our current system is set-up VERY much around younger generations supporting the old. We don’t have a society that would allow for a smooth transition to a “Children of Men” situation – it would be incredibly difficult on our infastructure and likely mean that adults today would have pretty terrible elderly years.

            On a much *much* smaller scale, this has been a problem in some developed countries where the elderly population outnumbers the younger generations (who are generally the ones paying into systems like Medicare and providing healthcare to the elderly) — so you can google around about that if you’re curious.

            There’s also the point that, assuming people are going to continue to have children, it benefits us all if they’re given the tools and resources to be good, caring parents – since involved parents are more likely to raise children that are contributing to society.

          2. GreenThumb*

            The planet is not overpopulated. We *produce* enough resources for everyone. The problem is that the bulk of those resources are hoarded by a small number of very rich people, and that people in rich countries are consuming FAR more than we actually need.

            I don’t have kids, but I would never begrudge a parent extra time off to spend with their newborn (beyond the bare minimum needed to recover) even if I never get the equivalent. I really do not understand the incredible bitterness some have to parents and children.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder*

              I really do not understand the incredible bitterness some have to parents and children.

              I don’t, either. There are some very ugly places (online and in real life) where people who hold these viewpoints say some pretty horrible things about people who choose to have or who end up having children, and it’s very disheartening. Some day, that child you refer to as a “f*ck trophy” or “Cr*tch fruit” spit out by “breeders” might be the person who cares for you in your old age, manages your finances when you retire, or somehow contributes to your life. Even if that weren’t the case, that type of bitterness is ugly and hateful and leads me to believe that the person expressing it has problems much deeper than we should be getting into in the comments section of a work advice column.

        5. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          I paid into my own Social Security. That’s my money I’m taking back. The fact the US government has set it up the way it has in no way means that child is paying me–I paid my own Social Security. Plus, if that kid goes to public school, well, I paid for them.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            In the US, this is incorrect. Your money that you paid in went to retirees at the time you paid it (or within about 5 years). Any money you get at retirement is from people who are working at the time you get paid.

            Yeah, you paid for the kid’s public education, and they are paying you back with social security. Most developed countries’ support networks are set up like this, which is why the question of population growth / support is tricky. Balancing resource consumption and depletion among different constituencies is complex and multifaceted.

          2. Brandy*

            Thank you, TheFacelessOldWoman. I love this so much. We pay into SSI to take it out. People aint paying or us. The statement “we’re paying for your SSI” act like we didnt pay in ourselves.

          3. fposte*

            @Jules–I agree that it’s not essentially a government-run IRA, but it’s also true that if you don’t pay into Social Security (or don’t pay in enough), you don’t get Social Security. (You all are welcome for the money I paid in and will never get back or get benefits from :-).)

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              mmm – many spouses didn’t pay in, and can get SS based on spousal earnings even if divorced. But you only need to have worked for 10 years, $6K/year, to be eligible (or be married to someone who did that). If you earn more, sure you get more, but it’s still being paid for by current workers. If all the current workers stop working / paying, payouts end. The money’s not saved up for you / me.

              And yeah, I am very happy to be paying for my parents’ retirement through this low-overhead govt run plan with lots of people’s help.

              Right now, projections are that SS can cover at least 75% of my currently projected benefits when I retire in 20 years, and if we increase the SS tax to the 1st $150K of income (not just salary) or 1st $250K of salary, US would be able to pay 100% of current projected benefits indefinitely. Means testing puts us at 90%. I actually think some form of tax increase is likely, though I’m not including SS in my retirement planning.

        6. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          Again, if people stopped having children right now, how would my life be impacted? Maybe 10, 20 years from now. Maybe I wouldn’t get SS but we may not get that anyway.

          1. Mystery Bookworm*

            I answered you elsewhere on the thread, but frankly there’s a considerably more to supporting the infastructure that runs our society than just SS. This gets a bit beyond the scope of this blog, but there’s plenty of research and coverage on issues in developed countries where the elderly significantly outnumber the young if you’re curious. (That’s not to say you couldn’t argue that you would prefer an overhauled system that didn’t work the way our current one does – I suppose you could.)

            But more to the point, people are likely to continue to have children, and we all benefit if those people are given the resources to be involved parents, since those are the parents likely to raise contributing members of society. Arguably more than we benefit from people having lavish weddings.

        7. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          But that can be said about any choice. Choosing to marry, have pets, etc. Everyone juggles PTO versus what they have going on in their lives.

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            But we can also say that there’s a difference in value to society (in economics, the term is ‘externalities’) of these choices. For a lot of complex reasons, ‘having a child’ is usually considered a net positive value to society, and we put social resources towards it. (See: Germany, Japan for reasons why it’s net positive)

            We also usually consider ‘marriage’ to have a net positive effect – usually as a step in pooling resources to make it easier to raise children. But because the children are hypothetical in the ‘marriage’ calculation, and certain in the ‘parental leave’ calculation, we give ‘parental leave’ more social value, and more consistent paid time.

            Ironically: paternal leave reduced childbirth rates in Spain. Men who understood the challenges of raising a child decided they preferred raising few well to raising many. So, if you’re worried about overpopulation, you should push for paternal leave; pretty sure that ‘wedding leave’ doesn’t have the same effect. (Other effective, non-coercive population reduction measures: female education, free long-term contraception, and rural electrification so that people watch TV at night. I find the diversity of this list hilarious.)

        8. Junebug*

          Just here to say amen to your comment and also your company policy fucking blows.

          I wish you the best of luck, all the health possible to you and your whole family, and sending ALL of the sympathy for the decisions you’re being forced to make to balance taking care of you and your family with earning the money so that you can afford to take care of you and your family.

        9. ???*

          Are you thinking of a different country? In Germany you get up to 1/3 of your salary, capped at 1800EUR, for 12 months, which is paid by the government, not the company. You can take two more years of unpaid leave where the company has to hold your job for you, but no one is paying you (=UNpaid leave).

        10. JJ Bittenbinder*

          Thank you for this well-articulated viewpoint! I think many people fall to if I can’t use it myself, it doesn’t benefit me at all that it’s given to anyone and therefore I am against it, without thinking of the downstream effects of taking away such benefits and the overt or subtle messaging about the value of the people for whom the benefits were created. I really appreciate your ability to look at the larger picture despite your situation of being inconvenienced by the coworkers’ leaves.

        11. Manchmal*

          If you are feeling overworked, the correct place to direct your resentment is toward the company who didn’t hire a temp or otherwise allocate the correct resources to the situation.

      4. Wintermute*

        It’s not a vacation but it is time off work that someone who doesn’t have a child won’t get… because they don’t need it, obviously.

        I think the point Toomanybooks is making is that sometimes people get focused on whether things are “fair” in a very narrow sense of getting the exact same amount of everything as everyone else: bosses worrying about people getting upset someone is getting an ADA accommodation that might be seen as a benefit of some kind, people that get work-from-home arrangements because of the nature of their work or good negotiation at hiring, employers forcing everyone to punch a clock at exactly 7:00 sharp because they don’t want to be “unfair” to employees that have to provide continuous coverage when they could give the rest of the office some flexibility…

        It’s not a healthy approach to being equitable, we should be focused on “are people getting what they need?” rather than “is someone getting a few days off I’m not”.

        1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

          It’s easy to see why the resentment starts, however. Allowing everyone flexibility in starting times save a few–that’s bound to get people annoyed UNLESS you make up for it in other ways. If someone has to be 8 -5 and the rest f the staff don’t, give those 8-5 people extra. Perhaps they get breakfast free, more PTO, first crack at scheduling, a lot of leeway on appointments, etc.

          1. Karen from Finance*

            People get flexibility if/when they need it.

            If you don’t end up getting flexibility, yay for you, you don’t have complications or circumstances where you need it. When one comes up, you’ll get it.

            It’s about basic compassion.

            There’s a gut, selfish reaction of “oh but when do I get MINE?” – and the simple answer is “when you need it”.

              1. Karen from Finance*

                I understand that it may be way too idealistic to expect employers to always be reasonable when granting these requests, myself working in a place that’s full of bees.

                I do think that this is an ideal to aspire to, and I like the compromise that’s implied in your 1-week-for-all suggestion, I think it’s a good place to start. But my concern is more at the misdirected rage: don’t get annoyed that a person gets the time off, get pissed that you don’t get it when you need it.

              1. Karen from Finance*

                Fair enough.

                My comment was more following the flow of the thread, that was a more general view of leave and not specific to OP’s particular situation, where we’d probably be in agreement.

                But Alison’s already called out that general discussion for being derailing so I’m going to drop it now.

            1. JM60*

              The issue isn’t just that the employer is being more flexible with PTO for those who are getting married, but that they’re giving out more PTO. If my employer denied my PTO request in favor of granting someone else’s PTO request for their wedding, I would be understanding. However, if my employer gave them extra PTO for their wedding/honeymoon, but didn’t give me extra PTO for my once-in-a-lifetime vacation, that would be unfair.

        1. The Original K.*

          Haven’t they bonded throughout their relationship, though? The parent/child bond is brand-new because the child is brand-new. Married people have been together for a time before marriage and are bonded enough to marry.

        2. Just Elle*

          Agreed. Honestly, I’d compare this to paternity leave in terms of need-versus-want. No, the all inclusive resort in the Maldives isn’t necessary. But time together to de-stress and bond is important. Going back to work the Monday after my wedding (because I didn’t have any vacation time) totally sucked.

          1. JunieB*

            I’m sorry, but I strongly disagree. My husband and I had a day and a half together between the wedding and the return to work, and it did suck, but not to anywhere near the degree that it sucked to have him return to work only six days after our child was born. He missed out on vital bonding time, and she and I were both left without the help we needed.

          2. Ego Chamber*

            Wow. “Paternity leave?! What’s that for? Is the baby coming out of him?” is a gross and misogynistic perspective we should all be pushing pack on. Not to mention lower income households who use the strategy of tag-teaming FMLA to avoid paying for childcare they can’t afford, in addition to the importance of allowing both parents to bond with a new infant.

      5. Working Mom Having It All*

        I mean… to be honest neither is the time most people take off to get married.

        I don’t know anyone who has taken extra vacation to go on their honeymoon (I mean, cool if you can, but I’d assume the 10 days most companies offer is plenty for that use).

        I do know that weddings require a LOT of planning, logistics, and sometimes travel. That’s not really a vacation, at least for most people (like… would you consider picking up family at the airport, overseeing that the tables are delivered to the venue, or standing in line to pick up your marriage license a “vacation”?).

        I didn’t get any PTO at the job I had when I got married, and my boss was an asshole who literally wouldn’t give me a DAY or even let me leave early for anything. (Seriously, even getting my marriage license was a nightmare because it meant I had to come in like an hour late, which was a whole thing.) My mom left her wallet in the airport when she flew out, and I remember getting the stink-eye as I stepped away from my desk to walk her through the process of dealing with that in a strange city. And no way in hell was I going to be able to leave the office to help. I kept having to delegate stuff (picking up flowers, quick Target run for last minute miscellany, etc) to people in my life whose job it was not, because my work schedule wouldn’t allow for any of the basic logistical stuff that getting married involves.

        I would have LOVED to work at a company that had some kind of “life event” PTO policy. Though I agree that calling it “wedding extra vacation time” is kind of BS.

        (I say all of the above as someone who also has a baby and knows that maternity leave isn’t a vacation.)

      6. Tie*

        I don’t think you need to think they’re the same to accept the relevance though. TMB is right that it’s an accommodation made to people that not everyone is going to take advantage of.

    2. SS Express*

      Framing parental/maternity leave as a fun perk similar to additional vacation time is problematic and extremely harmful imo.

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        It is a perk. People chose to have kids. People chose to get married. People don’t chose cancer, etc. I have no issue with parental leave but we need to stop acting like parenthood isn’t a choice. It is. If we want great parental leave, families cared for, those families with no children need the same amount of care.

        1. LegalBeagle*

          Having children is a choice. Needing time off work to physically recover from childbirth and care for a newborn is a necessity.

          You don’t have to like kids, want kids, whatever. But comparing maternity leave to a free vacation is offensive, and I wish people would consider how deeply sexist (dare I say misogynistic) it sounds.

          1. LaDeeDa*

            +1000000 It is so American to believe that paternal leave is a “perk” and not a necessity- every other country has at least a year. But here we have people complaining about a woman taking 3 months off, your body isn’t even recovered yet.

            It is like people are so concerned about what they get that they forget this is a society in which we should all be concerned about the greater good. GRRR.

              1. anon-on-the-way-past*

                Apparently the US is one of only 3 countries in the UN that doesn’t have some form of mandated parental leave, so perhaps not technically “every”, but close enough. I suspect to those of us from countries WITH parental leave – likely to be every, or almost every, non-US commenter – it is a little startling to consider something that tends to be a basic right (like sick leave etc) along the same lines as extra vacation time for fun stuff, so we’re going to run into some really fundamental differences in expectation and interpretation around work and parenting. To me, it’s as culturally alien as it would be reading a set of comments from, say, a place where people couldn’t guarantee being paid for their work, and it was just a nice perk that some employers offered.

        2. SarahTheEntwife*

          I really don’t want this to get political, but in many cases, in many areas, it is effectively not a choice once you end up pregnant.

        3. Buckeye*

          Having a child often requires a medical procedure. It’s not a vacation. Any person who has a medical procedure, elective or otherwise, requires time off to recover and heal.

        4. Ann Furthermore*

          If you want to be child free, that is absolutely your choice. But if we all choose to be child-free, eventually we’ll all cease to exist completely. Recovering from childbirth is not a “perk.” Surely you’re not suggesting that all women give birth on Friday and be back at work by Monday?

          1. Autumnheart*

            Having kids is not doing the world a favor. Let’s just stop that line of discussion right there.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              Wow. There’s choosing to be child-free, and then there’s actively begrudging anyone who chooses to have children. I was free to make the choice to have a child, and I did. You are (or were) free to make the same choice, and you didn’t. Can’t we leave it at that? Or do I need to beg your forgiveness for deciding to foist another human life upon the world?

            2. SS Express*

              Do you realise that if nobody had kids, we’d soon reach a point where there was nobody young enough to provide medical care for us, produce our food, maintain our waterways and power grids, enforce our laws or do any of the other things that humans living in an interdependent society need each other to do?

              I don’t have kids, but I’m glad other people do so that society can continue, and I’m happy that my government, like the government in every other industrialised nation in the world besides the USA (and most developing nations too), provides them with a certain level of support and requires employers to do the same.

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Implying that we could ever reach a point where “nobody had kids” is disingenuous at best and has a lot of gross political connotations.

                1. SS Express*

                  I’m not sure if you misread my comment, but I’m not suggesting that we will reach a point where no humans reproduce any time soon, or that people who don’t participate in that (like myself) are doing something wrong.

                  Individually, producing/raising kids is a choice that people should be free to make or not make as they see fit. On a societal level, we depend on a certain number of people to make that choice. So while one person’s decision to have a child isn’t “doing the world a favour”, everyone actually does benefit from the continued existence of the human race. Framing it as a purely personal choice that benefits nobody else is disingenuous, and expecting women to personally bear the enormous economic burden of pregnancy, child birth and newborn care for society’s benefit and begrudging them the tiny bit of support they are offered is what I consider gross.

        5. Pommette!*

          Having children is a choice (and being able to have children after you’ve made that choice is a great luck). Being born is not a choice, nor is living in a society in which some people are babies (dependent humans whose future and development depend on constant + high quality care). I’ll never have children, but I’m super grateful to live in a society that offers parental leave.

          And I agree that it’s important to offer good care to people who don’t have children! But I don’t think that that care should come in the form of an extended vacation. Instead: yes to compassionate care leave for people caring for non-relatives; yes to good social services and a strong social safety net, including good elder care that doesn’t assume that everyone has children who can do the legwork.

        6. Michaela Westen*

          There are some US states where parenthood is not a choice – they don’t allow an unplanned pregnancy to be terminated. Not trying to get political, but if this trend continues it will not be a choice for even more people. And the members of certain religions feel they don’t have a choice even though legally they do. So it’s not a choice like getting married is – it’s more complicated.

        7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          It’s truly not a perk in the same way that health insurance for full-time employees is not a perk. It’s a lifesaving benefit created to prevent people from teetering into compounded poverty. And it’s 100% rooted in combating discrimination that disproportionately affected/affects women, but also has devastating consequences for men, including men who are primary caretakers.

        8. TechWorker*

          Well it’s a perk to be a child to parents that have decent parental leave so unless you’re going to down the ‘i didn’t choose to be born’ route I think it’s reasonable to consider it as benefitting everyone.

      2. 5 month mommy*

        +one billion. These comments about not having children so will never get the “benefit” of maternity leave are so disheartening. It’s barely a crumb.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think it’s the same as maternity or parental leave, in part because all employees are entitled to FMLA but not all employees are entitled to this vacation benefit.

      Vacation or paid PTO is very different—it’s compensated, and it’s supposed to be related to employee retention, not employee identity. It’s not common for companies to give their employees a “special bonus wedding gift”; that’s something that should happen between real people who know each other. And the extra week, although a boon for marrieds, comes at the expense of non-marrieds and does not advance a reasonable business objective or interest. It would be different if all employees could elect to take an extra week for a voluntary Major Life Event once every X years, but the set-up at OP’s employer is unhelpfully unfair.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I should clarify: I realize that parental/medical leave can also help retain employees, but it exists primarily to prevent discrimination in the workplace. That’s very different from paid PTO/vacation, which is often designed to allow a mini-break for employees to do whatever they want/need to do, including relaxing or practicing self-care. Additionally, parental/medical leave is not analogous to vacation in that it’s a ton of work (even if it’s not paid work).

        1. Harper the Other One*

          +1 to this. Parental leave has a very specific purpose, and medical leave is a much better comparison than PTO!

        2. myswtghst*

          Thank you for both of these comments – this really sums up the difference very clearly.

      2. The Original K.*

        Co-sign. At the OP’s friend’s company, a single person could ostensibly use FMLA to care for a sick parent & have the same time off as someone who has a child, but the same single person does not get this honeymoon PTO week, period, unless s/he gets married. It’s not the same as maternity leave – and I strongly echo what others have said about family leave not being a vacation. Framing it that way devalues caregiving.

        I’m single, which I’m fine with, but this policy would affect my morale if I worked there. Our society tends to tell single people, especially women, that we are less than, and this policy reinforces that.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          +1000 this. FMLA can be applied equitably. The honeymoon perk seems like something that a lot of people would have to go without because their life events were arbitrarily not significant enough.

      3. Marriage leave*

        The way my company does it, is that it’s not supposed to be used for a honeymoon. It’s intended to help people move and prepare their lives together. It’s a little old fashioned and I realize it might be weird nowadays where many people do that moving/preparing part separate from an actual wedding, but that is how it is justified in my non US company.

        1. Just Jess*

          Question: do they also offer PTO for people in the process of purchasing a home or just plain moving apartments? There is definitely stress involved in that as a single person who may not have a household partner.

          Also, I’ve landed on unpaid employment protection (similar to FMLA) for people getting married. You shouldn’t lose your job because you needed a long weekend for a honeymoon and a couple of admin. days to get legal stuff sorted. Same for bereavement.

          What’s a paid perk that all employees can use? How about providing a bankable two days of PTO for every year of employment? Employees who can’t take time off could get it paid out when they leave the org.

          1. Alexander Graham Yell*

            Yeah, I think this is where the “major life event” framing is really useful – moving is hard and requires a lot of logistics, if I worked for a company that had this kind of benefit that I could apply for it would be hugely morale boosting. If I worked for a company where the only way to get this kind of PTO is to get married, I would always be keeping any eye out for a company that treated its employees more equitably.

          2. Marriage leave*

            Not for just plain moving because you want to, but if you transfer between company branches, then yes. All regular employees get paid leave (which increases every year up to a maximum), sick leave, bereavement leave, extra vacation when you reach a milestone year…as well as parental leave and leave for caring for a sick family member.

            I recognize that the reason for marriage leave is a little old fashioned because people move and partner regardless of that nowadays. I think if this was the only way to get precious extra leave it would feel weird, but the way we do it, I think it’s a nice benefit that some employees can use.

      4. MD*

        Plus it’s inherently discriminatory to LGBTQ if gay marriage is not legal in the country this company is located in. Medical leave doesn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.

        1. Kelly Bennett*


          I work for a government organization in Canada, and they changed the marriage leave which used to be one week, one time use of PTO to be taken for marriage. Now it’s just a one-time, one week leave you’re entitled to after a year of employment, to be used to whatever you want.

    4. Daisy*

      Yes I can’t see the problem with it either, seems like a nice policy, and it’s almost certainly going to be a one-off. I hate the ‘it’s so unfaaaaaair!’ viewpoint expressed by OP and AAM – I mean, I guess? Is that a reason to suck every nice helpful gesture out of the world? Seems so petty and bitter. (I’m never married nor likely to be, before people start on that).
      And the ‘what if you wanted time off for a sick parent’ argument AAM puts up seems like a complete non sequitur- many places will work stuff out in those situations, I doubt the kind of workplace that gives out a honeymoon week is going to say ‘screw your dying mother, no time off for you’.

      1. Lena Clare*

        But people who are saying it’s unfair (it is actually unfair, that’s a fact) aren’t saying take it away from people who get married! – they’re saying it’d be nice to have as a perk too even if you’re not getting married. The best way to do that would be to e.g. offer an extra week for everyone after a year. If you wanted to use that for your wedding and honeymoon then great.

        1. Wintermute*

          The problem is the nature of the tragedy in the commons is complaining that other people are getting something you are not is more likely to result in no one getting anything than you getting something as well…

          1. Antilles*

            Yeah, this is the part I don’t understand about the “let everyone have it” chorus. Like, does the commentariat really believe that corporations are likely to become *more* generous when challenged on their perks?
            Maybe I’m just a little too cynical, but I have to think the most likely result of Alison and others’ suggestions is instead this: “Whoa! Let everybody take a free week off every 3 years? We can’t really afford that. The marriage thing only affects like, one employee every year so we did it as a way to say congratulations…but if it’s going to cause resentment, we’re just going to cancel that perk entirely.”

            1. Washi*

              There are actually several comments below about places that now offer “honeymoon leave” to everyone! It actually doesn’t seem that onerous to me to have each employee get one extra week off , total, in their entire tenure at a company.

              If we were talking about whether the OP should say anything, I would come down on the side of no, you can’t say anything without coming across as churlish. But the OP is just asking in principle, about a company that’s not even her own, and I think in principle, the company should offer this extra leave to everyone!

            2. biobotb*

              So you think perks like parental leave or sick time or whatnot just materialized after workers waited patiently and made not effort to change the system?

            3. Michaela Westen*

              In principle, the benefit should apply to everyone even if they never get married.
              In practice, corporations in which the executives are paid $billions/year will say they can’t afford it.

        2. Sylvan*


          Or have a general “life change”/“life event” leave. That would be great. I don’t think OP has the ability to institute it, though, so to them I’ll just stick with Alison’s advice.

        3. mamma mia*

          Daisy wasn’t saying that it isn’t unfair though? All of the commenters rushing in to say that the policy is unfair are making a very obvious, and in my opinion, redundant, point.

          It IS unfair but life, and especially life in the workplace, isn’t fair! Giving everyone a week off would be a larger financial burden on the company than just giving it to those who got married so I’m confused why everyone is acting like this is the “easy” solution as opposed to something that 95% of companies would dismiss entirely. I might bitch about a coworker getting that leave off to my friends but there is no universe in which I would file a complaint with the company when there’s a possibility that the response would be to remove the perk. Thats the definition of petty.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            There is no reason, though, for your employer to make it even more unfair.

            I might argue that, as a single person, moving and setting up a life in a new home is even more of a burden since I’m doing it all myself. Married people now have two people between whom to divide all that stuff.

            I’m not asking my employer to find me a husband: I’m asking them to make this benefit available for a time when I might also need an extra week. And, frankly, if the company cannot afford to let everyone have it, then, no, they shouldn’t let anyone have it. Theoretically, they could afford it if everyone got married, no?

            1. fposte*

              The other time I’m thinking of is when you’re cleaning out a parent’s home after death or moving into assisted living. That is often some pretty intense work, and I doubt it’s a ton rarer than a wedding.

              1. Jam Today*

                Not only is it not rarer than a wedding, its a virtual certainty versus marriage which is like 70% and falling.

            2. RUKiddingMe*

              “Theoretically, they could afford it if everyone got married, no?”

              Dong ding ding!

              1. mamma mia*

                But that’s ridiculous. Every single employee isn’t going to get married during their time with their company.

                1. RUKiddingMe*

                  True but it’s an almost certainty that they will have other things happen that would make getting an extra week of PTO would be a nice bonus.

                  Also until very recently this would have applied only to heterosexual female/male people thus leaving out an entire group of people who were legally barred from getting married. I’m curious if this perk now applies to them as well or if the company still offers it only to heteronormative couples.

                2. Autumnheart*

                  A company can’t offer a perk to all employees and then count on people not using it. That’s dishonest. If a company isn’t prepared to fulfill its obligation, then it shouldn’t commit to that obligation.

                3. Ego Chamber*

                  So you’re saying it’s another benefit that sounds good on paper, that the employer says everyone is eligible for, but that the employer doesn’t really intend to have everyone use?


                  “Optics” benefits are trash and should be called out as such every time.

            3. mamma mia*

              But no one (including OP’s friend’s company) is saying that single people don’t have their own shares of burdens that are difficult; to react to a married person getting a gift by saying “Oh I also have life events and things to do as a single person (and possibly even MORE problems), why aren’t I getting anything?” comes off as bitter; I’m sorry but it does.

              I think OP’s company is doing a very generous thing by giving this PTO as a gift. I personally would much rather some people get a perk (even if I’m not using it) then no one gets a perk. So that’s clearly where we differ.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Reminds me of the Sex and the City episode where Carrie realized she had spent $2,000 on gifts for a friend who had married and had children, but as a single person no one had given her life event gifts.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Life in the workplace is constantly challenged and regulations put in place to level the playing field and make it more fair though. So that’s true…ish but exactly the point of those set to challenge that kind of thing.

          3. RUKiddingMe*

            Life as you say is inherently unfair. Workplaces however have an obligation, in many cases a *legal* obligation to institute policies that are fair to everyone.

            It’s not like well “here Candyfloss have a cookie and one for you too Popsicle but yours is broken into two pieces. It’s the same amount but sorry you get the broken one. Sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles.”

            It’s saying “ok you who fit X criteria that has nothing whatsoever to do with work do/don’t get this extra bonus.”

            As PCBH (I think it was?) said, in some places discrimination based on relationship status is illegal and *that* is what this is.

      2. RUKiddingMe*

        So you don’t see the innate inequity of giving a certain class of people a specific perk while others who don’t fit that criteria don’t get it?

        In this case it’s like a bonus (because PTO is part if overall compensation) for doing something completely not work related.

        I mean non marrieds do completely not work related stuff every day…some of it even “major life thing” type of stuff and no one is handing them an extra weeks’ pay.

      3. Mystery Bookworm*

        But what’s the problem with the company changing to a policy as advocated by Alison or others? Seems like that would only benefit everyone.

        I also don’t have a major problem with the policy, but I don’t see the harm in advocating for a comparable one.

      4. Washi*

        I think to me part of the trickiness is that even today, being married is generally considered to be better than being single. So society already kind of privileges that type of relationship, and then they also get a special office perk, and I can see how that would grate. To me it’s like deciding to give people an extra week off if they buy a house. That’s great and all, but why not just give everyone a week off instead of trying to decide which random time-consuming milestones deserve special perks?

        1. China Beech*

          Exactly! My company gives everyone six “personal” days each year to do whatever they want with.

        2. RUKiddingMe*

          Exactly. While I am *married and have been since the dawn of time I have always felt that marriage perks were inherently unfair to non married people. Particularly those is long standing, all but the piece of paper situations.

          Personally, for me I don’t see the point in being all *but* married for the most part. I realize there are certain financial considerations for some, but for others…not really.

          But…that’s for me and I don’t have a right/desire to judge others’ choices. Ergo if I’m going to institute a one time ever extra week off for my staff, then I don’t care why/how they use it.

          *Married comes in handy when the medical people say “are you a relative” and I can say “I’m his wife” as they let me into the ER (broken leg…nothing life threatening!) Especially if you don’t share a surname.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Marriage has a lot of emotional baggage. I’ve heard of couples who did great for several years – until they got married, and they were divorced in less than two years. All that baggage did them in. I think that’s why some couples never marry. Some do civil union instead.

      5. JJ Bittenbinder*

        Maybe everyone who objects to it should pull a Carrie from Sex and the City and throw themselves a single’s shower/wedding!

      1. Dragoning*

        Oh, that’s a really good point–this perk is, in theory, not a once-in-a-lifetime event.

        1. JunieB*

          Does the employee get this perk each time they get married? My uncle married four times in five years—twice to the same woman—and I’m curious whether they’d continue offering him this perk each time.

    5. Wing Leader*

      Family leave for new parents? Uhhh, yeah…no. That is NOT a vacation. That is an absolute necessity. It’s not six weeks lying on the beach drinking margaritas.

      I’m child-free by the way, but I absolutely recognize the necessity of maternal leave and such and I don’t hold that against anyone.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, depending on where you’re located*, the policy could also violate your state’s anti-discrimination laws.

    (* Discrimination on the basis of marital status (including single-dom) is unlawful in Alaska, California, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, NJ, NY, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.)

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      Good info! I was gonna mention/ask about this. I’m not OP, just passionate about equity.

    2. FD*

      Yeah I was going to say, “Isn’t this illegal because it’s based on marital status?”

      I forgot that’s one of the state-based laws not federal-based laws.

    3. Union Maid*

      In the UK the extra week off would be in violation of the Equality Act 2010. Marital Status is one of the protected characteristics in the act. Giving people of one marital status (just getting married) a benefit that others don’t have (and, in Northern Ireland, would be impossible for same sex couples as they cannot get married there, although they can in the rest of the UK) would be open to a legal challenge. In fact, I would wonder if it would be possible that a person already married when they joined the company could challenge this.

      1. Fellow brit*

        We do have matrimonial leave in the UK though without it violating the Equality Act.

        I think it’s a slightly difficult situation to comment on from a UK perspective, because I’m always perplexed that in the US there isn’t PTO as a default. I’ve never worked anywhere which gave me fewer than 25 paid days off a year (excluding bank holidays) – but I was v surprised when I learnt that wasn’t a default in the US.

        1. RUKiddingMe*

          Oh honey the US is still stuck in a Puritan work ethic, “up by your own bootstraps,” “I did it all on my own with no help from anyone,” work for work’s sake, work, work, work, the company is all important, what do you mean you don’t want to work in the mines 18 hours a day six days a week and eight hours on Sundays…you’re such a lazy freeloader mindset.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            Yes – and the elites exploit this attitude to get people to work long hours for low pay.

    4. Clisby*

      I can’t find any indication that South Carolina (where I live) bans discrimination based on marital status. It does ban housing discrimination based on familial status, but that’s more aimed at not letting landlords refuse to rent to people with children.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        You’re right! My apologies—all the practitioner guidances mention familial status. I went back and read the statute, and you’re right that in the employment context it’s limited to pregnancy discrimination (but it’s different for housing discrimination). So South Carolina falls off the list.

    5. MD*

      Plus AAM has a global audience, and it’s also discriminatory to LGBTQ people if the company is located in a country that gay marriage is not legal in.

    6. Not Me*

      There are a few circuit courts that have sided with employees that gender norms are protected as well. Getting married could easily be considered a gender norm.

    7. Case of the Mondays*

      Just a quick fyi that the protective legislation around marital status was intended to not discriminate against an employee for getting married. The intent wasn’t to protect single people. In the olden days, it was presumed that once a woman married, she was about to have kids so employers would get rid of her. Some states may be applying it to protect single folks too (if a married man makes more than a single man for example) but the original intent was to protect women from being terminated for getting married.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        That’s not entirely accurate. In several states as far back as the 1950s–70s, the marital status provision was created to protect unwed mothers from discrimination in the workplace and in housing. Today, most courts in states that provide this protection have interpreted their state statutes to protect against discrimination on the basis of being unmarried as well as married.

        1. JM60*

          Even if you were wrong about the intent of these laws (which I don’t think you are), antidiscrimination laws generally go both/all ways. For instance, in states that have such legislation, “gay people” aren’t a protected class. Rather, the protected class is sexual orientation, and it applies to straight people too! It’s just very rare for a straight person to be fired or denied service because of their straightness.

    8. RUKiddingMe*

      Oh I just counted. That’s 27/50 states, so a slim majority understand this simple concept.

    9. Maya Elena*

      Would you really sue for discrimination though if this was a policy at your company? A sure recipe to make sure everyone loses the benefit!

      1. fposte*

        I’d sure consider contacting the state EEOC if I were in a state where this was illegal discrimination. Why should I countenance illegal discrimination?

      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I think you could easily complain that the benefit has to be made available to everyone or eliminated. If it persisted, you could file a complaint, but I suspect most folks would not want to incur that hassle unless the lack of access to PTO had a significant detrimental effect on the complainant’s work and life.

      3. RUKiddingMe*

        Sure we could all just stick our fingers in our ears and sing “lalala” pretending nothing is amiss so that only a certain group if people keep getting this while others keep not getting it because fighting against injustice is just so hard.

        So yeah. Sue and everyone loses it? So? I’d be all kinds of broken up over people losing a special privilege that they did nothing to merit, that has zero to do with work considering the alternative is that it stays just like it is now.

      4. SS Express*

        Making a benefit like this available only to some people *disadvantages* other people, so yeah, if it can’t be extended to everyone they should lose it.

  4. Bunny*

    As someone that frequently has to interact with people that want unproductively prolonged discussions with me, my biggest trick is the business card. No need to exchange and make it a “ceremony”.

    “Well, here is my card, if you have any other questions please feel free to reach out to me!”

    If they try and still drag it out, just refer back to the business card, it may take a few times but people get the message, plus you have handed them something physical so there still feels like there is a connection and they know how to contact you in the future so there isn’t the perception that they have to fit everything into this one interaction.

      1. Artemesia*

        As you know in lots of countries it is a ceremony with very strict rules about keeping two hands on the car when it is presented, having it face a certain way, looking at it carefully before reverently putting it in your pocket etc etc so calling it a ‘ceremony’ sort of recalls that to me.

        1. Jasnah*

          And in Japan (where this is a thing) you should put it in your business card holder, not your pocket!

        2. LW 2#*

          The business card advice was a surprise – I’m currently working with a customer from Japan, so business cards are given at the beginning and treated with respect. I hadn’t thought of them as an ending move!

          1. Lilian*

            Yeah, working in a Japanese company, it wouldn’t be a closer in that case. But with Japanese business people, reading between the lines is part of the job, so a it was nice to meet you, possibly accompanied by putting the card away if you were still holding it, would work perfectly.

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          >two hands on the car
          I know it’s autoINcorrect, but my mind jumped to every cop show in the universe: “Put BOTH hands on the VEHICLE please.” And, well, I am easily amused.

    1. KTM*

      Yes I also use a similar line with my business card to close out conversations. In situations where I know the person/they already have my card (which is more often where I get stuck in lengthy conversations), I rely on “I’m going to go check out the food situation” or “I’m going to meander a bit, but I’ll be around”. Most people realize that networking events involve mingling so I don’t think it’s too awkward to simply state something that you’re going to go mix a bit.

  5. JSPA*

    The only problem with “use a week as you wish” is that dutiful people can burn out, saving their leave for when they’re needed. I’d make it clear that the goal is to have an enriching / uplifting / celebratory life event.

    Wedding? Solo spiritual trek? Giant family reunion? Going with sick parent on a bucket list trip their ancestral homeland? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    Hospice care / excess sick days? That goes under family medical leave, not celebratory leave. (You can’t forbid the use, but you can probably discourage it, culturally and in the labeling.)

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – there is no way you can control how people take their time off, and regarding certain uses of it as spiritually superior is likely to cause morale problems. Some people simply have more demands on their time off, and others have fewer resources. Someone with a chronic illness might always use up their PTO on being ill and doctor’s appointments, while someone else might never have the money or freedom from responsibilities to do big enriching events (like solo treks or visiting their homelands), and would use an unexpected chunk of time off to spend time with their kids in the summer holidays, or catch up on household repairs.

        Ultimately – give people enough time off that a typical employee can still have time off for vacation without having to come into work sick, and have provisions in place to handle unusual situation. The ability to take an extended chunk of time off occasionally is an excellent benefit, but don’t police what people choose to do with it.

        1. Womble*

          “Ultimately – give people enough time off that a typical employee can still have time off for vacation without having to come into work sick, and have provisions in place to handle unusual situation. The ability to take an extended chunk of time off occasionally is an excellent benefit, but don’t police what people choose to do with it.“

          Yes! Exactly.

          And some people would still complain if you did this…

          1. Oh So Anon*

            This is precisely a big part of why I left my previous job – an officious manager who acted as though there was something wrong with me and my life for needing to use my PTO for things other than “fun”.

        2. JSPA*

          Always strongly in favor of that! I should have again said so, explicitly. All NEEDED leave should be available as needed. Allowing people to take vacation as vacation. And positive life event leave as such, too.

          My extended family and friends in europe (in four+ countries, both EU and non-EU) consider that a fairly normal situation. Not some ridiculous pipe-dream. A few select US friends have, at times, had similar employment conditions. So it’s a stretch, but not a ridiculous stretch, to bring it up here.

          Point isn’t to police the final choice. After all, under the current newlywed policy, I suppose there are occasional cases where one or both of the newlyweds end up caring for sick relatives or having medical treatment, rather than in couple- focused activities, like honeymoon travel or moving in together. But the norm with newlywed leave is to do something couple-ish and focused on a positive future, whether that’s honeymooning, house shopping, moving, cocooning, etc.

          Having access to all the other sorts of leave is absolutely crucial! But the stated motivation of the “special” leave isn’t immaterial, either. It’s one part of a bigger picture.

          The employer needs to both create the conditions and set the expectations where people will feel safe, supported and encouraged in using the special leave for something directed towards current and future actual happiness. With all relevant overtones of emotional resilience, contentment, joy, hopefulness, etc.

          It can’t be (societally or individually) healthy to have so many people whose self-concept and goals don’t include the possibility of having a happy, thriving life. Occasional glints of happiness and a reduction in one’s misery quotient may be the best achievable goal while recovering from adversity! No shame to that. But it’s actually much healthier to encourage people to expect / demand more from life. Not more stuff; more happiness.

        3. RUKiddingMe*

          Or spend the week just doing the Netflix, chill, order pizza, nap, repeat shuffle.

          1. Lena Clare*

            I find myself agreeing with so many of your comments!
            This is one of my favourite types of holibob.

        4. CheeryO*

          Yes, this. I know this is unrealistic in some industries, but I really feel like everyone should get 3-5 weeks’ vacation depending on seniority, plus separate sick days. Give people the flexibility to use a week or two at once as long as the timing isn’t horrendous. If your benefits are so terrible that someone needs a bonus week to be able to take a honeymoon, then that’s a problem.

          1. londonedit*

            That’s pretty much how it works in most industries in the UK. 20-25 days’ holiday is the norm, plus public holidays, and unless you’re working on something time-critical then it’s not at all unusual to take two weeks’ holiday in one go. Most places I’ve worked will ask for special approval from an upper manager if someone wants to take more than two weeks in one block, but taking a two-week summer holiday is practically the norm, or at least is rarely an issue (certain industries excepted, obviously). Sick days are also not part of your holiday allowance – different companies deal with those differently, but most will offer a few paid sick days and then for long-term sickness they usually come to an arrangement with the employee or there’s Statutory Sick Pay (which isn’t much but which helps for longer-term illness).

    1. Dana B.S.*

      I don’t want my employer to dictate how I spend my PTO – even if it’s a “bonus” week. If I want to take a couple days off to KonMari my storage unit, I’d rather not have my boss say it’s not enriching enough.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Which is why this type of “bonus” PTO is a bad idea. If companies would just give a good amount of vacation to begin with, they wouldn’t need to offer life event PTO, because no matter what you call it, or how you allow employees to use it, you’re going to single out some people.

    2. Sunflower*

      I think Alison’s suggestion of making it open and capping it makes the most sense. The other option I think the company could offer is for employees to buy an extra week of vacation.

  6. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

    I have a friend whose job offers “honeymoon leave”… to everyone, in their second year at the job, as a one-time extra week of vacation. It’s not actually tied to a honeymoon, but it started years ago when there was a lot of actual honeymoon leave being taken around that time in many new hires’ careers. She’s pretty excited about having an extra week next year.

    1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      I should say, it’s not actually tied to a honeymoon *anymore*. It used to be, and then they extended it to everyone at a set time in their employment rather than tied to any given life event.

      1. nonymous*

        My husband and one of his friends are both employed at different companies that call this a sabbatical. The difference being that if the employee separates without using it, they don’t get it paid out like unused PTO.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      That makes me giggle because now that it’s separated from the original thought, it sounds like the company is saying “now that your honeymoon with your job is over, your gonna need some extra leave!”

    3. Joy*

      This is the case in the Canadian federal public service! It used to be a honeymoon week, decades ago, but after people realized that that was discriminatory, they switched it to a bonus week in your third year of employment.

    4. kittymommy*

      I like this way as well. Regardless of the name it’s not tied to an actual life event and thus is applicable to all.

    5. LawLady*

      I wish we did this. I got married younger than most, but I’m a second year a large law firm, and 6 people in my starting class are getting married this year.

  7. Maya Elena*

    LW1 is an example of “why we can’t have nice things” situations.
    How come the married people get to bring their spouse to the fancy party but I can’t just bring any plus-one I want? How come the pregnant ones, who are being a lot less

    1. Princesa Zelda*

      Based on what you have here, I think you’re trying to say LW1 is out of line and/or entitled? I don’t think that’s the case at all. There’s no etiquette or social norms at play; in fact, the extra leave is *against* social norms. It *is* very much a benefit, unlike plus-ones and maternity leave, and only being provided on the basis of relationship status. That’s both weird and potentially legally discriminatory.

    2. One too many hours as a ship steward*

      I don’t think LW1 is out of line, and I do think that if LW1 worked at their friend’s workplace, pushing back would – after reflection on the social dynamics – be a good idea.

      A) The look isn’t great from a employee relations standpoint for all the reasons Allison has stated.

      B) Block PTO (such as vacation) is a deceptively expensive benefit. If the person makes $20/hr, this benefit is worth $800, and probably costs the company somewhere between $800 and $2400 to offer (depending on the nature of the work), all told. If a company gave a $1500 wedding gift, the staff would be up in arms, and the owners would likely not be happy.

      C) The number of policies that this would require is already making my head hurt.

      D) GLBTQIA people who qualify for this would be required to put themselves to use it.

      On another note, I commend OP1 for asking, that’s how you figure out what’s normal.

      1. One too many hours as a shop steward*

        Autocorrect really got me on this one.

        *shop in the handle

        *out in the body

          1. One too many hours as a shop steward*

            Some days I wish I did. “Walking the plank” as a non-metaphor would certainly reduce repeat issues.

      2. Jasnah*

        Question, why would D) LGBTQIA people be required to out themselves to use it?
        Couldn’t they just say “I’m getting married on X date and I’d like to use my week of marriage leave for that week”?
        Of course I can see follow up questions as to who and how and when, but maybe they could take Alison’s approach on using sick leave when you don’t want to disclose why. Are you imagining that they would have to turn in a copy of the marriage certificate in order to qualify?

        1. Loot*

          Because the other option is them lying about the gender of their spouse-to-be, which can get into some very tricky territory if their coworkers starts wanting to see wedding pictures or pictures of the honey moon after they come back. (Imagine how it looks if you gave an employee an extra week off for their honeymoon, but then they refuse to show *any* wedding photos when they come back? Or any photos *at all* of them and their now-spouse? You might not lose your mind over it, but it would likely make you think a little less of them.)

          Lying about their spouse-to-be’s gender wouldn’t just affect the wedding/extra honeymoon week, either. “Oh, we’re having a fancy dinner with plus ones, you need to bring your spouse.”

          Then there’s the constant low-level grind of always having to pretend that you’re straight (if you’re a man married to another man, imagine how draining it would become when all the other married (to women) men always talked about/referred to your wife and “wimmin, amirite!” and you just have to grin and bear it).

          And you could never let your coworkers meet your spouse (because they’re the opposite gender of what your coworkers think they are), never show them pictures of you and your spouse together, never invite coworkers to any parties or anything like that (or at least think very closely about who you invite so that you aren’t outed by them). You’d risk coming off as really stand-offish to your coworkers because you cannot let your coworkers too close or you’d end up outed. Even if the workplace turns out to be wholly supporting, you still have to deal with the whole “why didn’t you tell us sooner?” line of questions.

          LGBT acceptance is on the rise, but let’s not pretend that being outed or coming out cannot have quite detrimental effects on your career, depending on where you live or who your coworkers/bosses are. People don’t stay in the closet for shits and giggles.

          1. alldogsarepuppies*

            How are any of these problems related to the leave though. That seems the general issue of being married to someone of the same gender. You’d be lying about using your vacation, or your marital status, or why your spouse won’t be plus one to events, etc. Definitely unfair burdens, but not unique to getting leave.

            1. Loot*

              Because the person would have to lie about something like that since the leave is tied to a honeymoon?

              The commenter suggested that they just say “I’m getting married on X date and I’d like to use my week of marriage leave for that week”. And the fact is that “just” saying that is going to lead to a lot of problems for the person who says it, which wouldn’t have been a problem if the extra week wasn’t honeymoon-only.

              1. Jasnah*

                Like I said, I can see follow up questions causing problems. And if you have to submit a marriage certificate which says your spouse’s name, I can see that outing someone if their partner’s name is clearly of the same sex (which wouldn’t necessarily out someone who is trans or asexual or has an ambiguous name). If same-sex marriage is legal where this is happening then regardless they can’t legally discriminate and would have to offer the leave… though I know it could possibly happen anyway.

                If someone is in the closet at work then unfortunately I don’t know if they could 100% safely use specifically marriage leave, or invite their spouse to a +1 event, or anything else involving their spouse and work.

        2. Perse's Mom*

          Are you imagining that they would have to turn in a copy of the marriage certificate in order to qualify?

          Given the letters we’ve all read here about the hoops some employers make their employees jump through for much smaller benefits (and, in fairness, the number of employers who have written in about employees clearly taking advantage of their trust over such things), the idea of an employer requiring proof of marriage for a marriage-related benefit surprises you?

          1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

            I had to turn in a copy of my marriage certificate for job benefits. All employees do. And I did this at more than one job. (At a non profit, at two government jobs).

        3. Nephron*

          My department sent flowers when my father passed away. When I came back to work the admin asked about funeral announcements or other proof he had died because our employer tracks things purchased on company cards. In this case it worked out because the amount was low enough to not be flagged, but she was surprised and has decades working here. Asking for a copy of the wedding announcement or program could even be seen as showing an interest in your employee.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            (apologize for the off-topic comment) Holy cow, how thoughtful of the company to send flowers and then immediately demand proof. /s

            We had a very low-key funeral for my dad (per his will, which stated “I want the cheapest funeral”) and there were no announcements. I guess I did have his death certificate, but it would’ve irked me to have to provide one to my employer over a flower arrangement. Now that I think of it, they gave me my bereavement leave no questions asked and never requested proof. They did not send any flowers or sign any cards, which happened to be exactly the way I wanted it.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s so OTT that you have to supply evidence of death/marriage, I’d rather eat glass than work for any company with that policy. I know this is a thing for some places with bereavement leave.

            I almost cried after a coworker wasn’t sure if a FIL counted for bereavement leave because other places wouldn’t have allowed it because it wasn’t /their/ parent.

            1. fposte*

              I gotta say, that doesn’t seem that horrible to me. Bereavement leave isn’t a measure of who you grieve for, because it’s not about grieving; it’s a euphemistic term for dealing with the logistics of the death. You get more days for next of kin, whose funeral, etc., you have to handle, than for relatives whose funeral you’re attending but not planning. It also doesn’t mean you can’t take more days–it’s just those would come out of personal days rather than bereavement leave.

            2. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

              My spouse couldn’t claim bereavement leave when my father passed away. She had to use PTO–because we’re women. That was in 2003 and we weren’t considered a ‘real’ couple although her boss and department all treated us as married. HR did not.

        4. kittymommy*

          I would very much think they would have to turn in some sort of documentation (license, announcement, etc.) to verify an extra week of paid leave. I’d be rather surprised if a company did not request that as the benefit is specifically dependent upon a particular situation and thus not something everyone can (depending upon where they live) or will be able to use.

    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      I don’t think this is a “can’t have nice things” situation? It sounds like a situation where the solution is to allow everyone to have the nice thing instead of limiting the nice thing to people who get married. It’s not the same as +1 reservations.

      1. snowglobe*

        If non-married employees complain about the unfairness of it, then it could quickly become a “can’t have nice things” situation, when the company cancels the honeymoon leave and doesn’t offer any extras at all.

      2. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

        I agree with you. I am married so I could have theoretically benefited from such a policy, but that doesn’t make it fair. A week of paid vacation is huge to most people (Americans).

    4. WS*

      Well, why can’t you bring a partner to whom you’re not married to the fancy party? That would be illegal discrimination here in Australia!

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        Just a work party right? Not like someone’s…wedding or something? I mean yeah I think it sucks to exclude someone’s actual SO regardless of marital status. Just …asking for a friend.

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        At many work events, there is no plus 1 but at some work events, spouses are welcome but not anyone else.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Which I kind of understand — we’ve seen blog posts and comments about some employee bringing their roommate or BFF, who gets WAY too drunk and misbehaves, or if the party is fancy, the company might just not want to pay for some random friend of yours, but might be willing to have someone important to you, and fair or not, marriage or blood relation are widely recognized ways of defining closeness.

        2. fposte*

          That’s based on the old-school social rules. That’s not necessarily appropriate for the workplace, but the offices aren’t making it up out of thin air, either.

      3. Zephy*

        As a social convention, the +1 doesn’t have to be a spouse per se, but the understanding is that you and your significant other are a social unit, in a way that you and your [best friend/sister/neighbor/cousin/dog] are not. Whether you’re actually, legally married or not is immaterial.

    5. General Ginger*

      An extra week of vacation available only to married people is nothing like bringing a spouse to an office party.

    6. Genny*

      Out of a pool of five admins, one is randomly selected to get a company car. The other four admins think this is unfair and raise their concerns to management. How dare they! This is why we can’t have nice things.

      “Nice” things that are arbitrarily exclusionary aren’t nice things, they’re privileging one group over another. It’s not the less-privileged group’s fault when they naturally get upset over inequality and unfair treatment.

      1. Name Required*

        Absolutely this comment right here. I don’t understand how folks could see this as anything less than unfair. I’m also married.

    7. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      That’s an extra week of paid vacation, i.e, 1/52 of your annual pay, just being dropped into your lap for getting married. Not the same as bringing a guest to a work-sponsored party that most attendees probably don’t really want to be at in the first place.

  8. Womble*

    #5 Your VP is worried that you’re not going to prioritise his work. You’re reacting by pushing it to the bottom.

    If you want him to change what he does, then step one is to actually start prioritising properly. Why on earth would he change anything he’s doing in this current situation?

    1. Maria Lopez*

      The point is she has already asked him to put the papers in the inbox, and he doesn’t care to do that. By prioritizing his work when he puts it on her chair is just reinforcing his bad behavior, not encouraging him to change it. And it IS bad behavior.
      So in this current situation he somehow thinks his work is being done faster, when in effect it isn’t.

        1. Kettles*

          Hard disagree. He’s being deliberately obnoxious and ignoring his admin’s clearly stated preferences. Op is reacting in a petty way in response, sure. But he’s being an obnoxious, entitled brat.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I think this attributes way too much malice to the VP. It’s incredibly common and not inherently obnoxious for folks to leave high-priority items on a person’s chair. And although there are many folks who find it irritating and rude, as OP does, there’s a good number of folks who aren’t bothered by it.

            When you’re dealing with someone up the chain who has an annoying-but-not-obviously-wrong method, to a certain extent you have to let it go and detach from your feelings about that method. When you’re working in a hierarchy, there’s some built-in entitlement based on the chain of command, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If someone’s up the chain’s preference isn’t obviously wrong or abusive, then folks down the chain sorta have to accommodate the higher-up’s preference. I get that OP is annoyed that the VP won’t accommodate OP’s preferences, but this is a situation where the VP trumps OP.

          2. Artemesia*

            That is pretty heavy reaction for such an innocuous behavior. How big a deal is it to pick up the papers in your chair and put them in the in -box. I wish my worst boss had had this as his ‘worst’ behavior.

            1. Kettles*

              How big a deal is it to put the papers in the in-tray?

              I don’t think it’s a strong reaction. OP serves multiple people, and has specifically asked him not to do this. He’s continuing because he thinks he’s more important than everyone else, and because the preferences of his admin don’t matter to him.

              What he’s doing is the equivalent of a guy snapping his fingers at the waitress to get quicker service – is anyone surprised when Snappy subsequently gets served last?

              1. Colette*

                The thing is that when you and your boss have different preferences, your boss wins. That’s the nature of having a job.

                If I hire you to mow my lawn and want you to cut the grass diagonally, it doesn’t matter if you think going straight across is better or more efficient – I win, because I am hiring you to do what I want you to do, even if it seems pointless.

                1. fposte*

                  It seems like you think “service” is a bad thing. But for a lot of us it’s not–I’m in a service profession and I’m proud of that.

                2. Kettles*

                  I don’t think service is a bad thing. I think servility is bad. If your gardener asked you to leave your mower in a particular way and you deliberately ignored him, that isn’t acceptable because you’re his employer. That’s deliberate rudeness toward someone with no recourse against you.

                3. Colette*

                  @Kettles – I’m not sure how the British come into it.

                  And I disagree that not leaving a mower in the gardener’s desired location/state is necessarily disrespectful. I (as the employer) have other things to be concerned with that the gardener doesn’t know or care about. If it’s a preference on her part, I can decide that I have a different need or preference, and I am paying her to adapt to my way of doing things. If it’s because leaving it in a specific way will make her more efficient, I can decide that I am OK with paying her to take longer.

                  If that’s unacceptable to her, she can find a job working for someone with different needs or preferences.

              2. Jessie the First (or second)*

                Well, she is an admin, and so the preferences of the people the admin has been hired to support are in fact more important than her own personal preferences.

                The VP obviously cannot be rude about it, but declining to follow her preference here and sticking with his own is not rude. OP asked him to do it a different way, he explained that he does it the way he does it to ensure his papers don’t get missed, so…. that’s how it is.

                She can be annoyed because it is a pet peeve, but the VP is not doing anything wrong. It’s the nature of having a boss.

              3. NotAnotherManager!*

                Well, continuing to deprioritize his work that’s not conveyed in the way she prefers isn’t going to solve the problem or give her a good case for doing it her way, either.

                My boss likes to leave me hand-marked paper copies of things. I find it inefficient and would much prefer to receive things in an electronic format — but she’s busier than I am (and not as confident with technology as I am) and she gets to decide how stuff comes to me because her time is in more demand (and more valuable) than mine. She knows my preference and, when it’s possible, she’ll shoot me track changes rather than hand-marking, but it’s not a personal affront to me that she has a system that works most efficiently with her insanely busy schedule, and I have to adapt to that.

                Of all the bullshit I’ve encountered in the working world, I just cannot imagine reading someone leaving work in my chair as demeaning. OP is doing no one favors by being that rigid and interpreting it as disrespect. This is not something that rises to the level of wasting political capital on, particularly if OP needs this job.

                1. Pomona Sprout*

                  I agree 1000+%! I’m gobsnacked that multiple people seem to think this is a hill to die on. I’ve had plenty of bosses who liked to leave things on my chair, and it never even ALMOST entered my mind to be offended by it.

                  Bottom line: bosses get to decide things like where to leave stuff, because they ARE the boss.

          3. Lynca*

            He may very well be. But the OP does not have standing to force a change. They are also being petty in a way that could get them in a bind.

            The only thing I would differ from Alison in saying is that if they don’t have a defined triage for the work between the VP’s they need one. Having been a shared admin, it helps a lot to have it defined what work is high-priority vs. low-priority.

            1. Kettles*

              Oh I know. Her choices are to tolerate it or move on. And I don’t endorse the pettiness. I just find it odd that people are insisting that choosing to disregard the expressly stated wishes of a subordinate – in a way that does not affect your business – is *not* disrespectful.

              1. Colette*

                I don’t think being respectful means doing what the other person wants when you have a different preference, necessarily. You can respect someone and still disagree.

                1. Lucette Kensack*

                  Right. If she had a preference for the inbox, and he has a preference for the chair, it needn’t be her preference that is automatically elevated (even setting aside the hierarchy issue).

                2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  This is where I come down on it. Is it annoying to her? Yes. Is it possibly inconsiderate in light of OP’s request? Yes. But is it inherently disrespectful? No. Is it disrespectful to continue after OP asks him not to do it? For a lot of folks, the answer is no (and for many, it’s yes). When reasonable minds can differ this way, I think doubling down can make OP look wildly out of pocket.

                  OP is of course allowed to feel how they feel, minus the petty retaliation. But I think the situation will be more tolerable to OP if OP is able to reframe in order to get a little emotional distance from the interaction. It will probably be harder to deal with if OP internally doubles down and then stews/marinates in their frustration and feelings of being disrespected.

                  (I also think it will look banana pants to outsiders if OP quits over this. But if there are other factors that suggest to OP that maybe this isn’t a great fit or enjoyable, it’s also ok to decide to move on for those non-papers-on-chair reasons.)

                3. fposte*

                  @PCBH–I’d also recommend the OP consider her job trajectory in making that decision. I don’t know how long she’s been there, but given that she mentions stepping back to the role, I was thinking not very long (though longer than the VP). If she’d be applying to another admin position, there’s a risk that a short-term job here after longer-term work in non-admin roles would suggest that she struggled with the transition to being an admin. That doesn’t mean she can’t look, and maybe looking will make it clear that she’d have an easy time getting another position–but it could also be a struggle, and it’s worth weighing that before taking any leaps.

              2. Lady Blerd*

                If LW quits over this, that would be a major overreaction. It is not a big deal and it’s up to the suborbinate to adapt to their boss if it’s within reason. This is not a hill to die on.

              3. Jessie the First (or second)*

                But…. he has an expressly stated wish as well, a clear preference, with a reason he prefers it one way. Just as she has an expressly stated wish, and a clear preference, with a reason she prefers it the other way. Why would it be that her preference trumps his? I don’t understand your position here. They *each* have a preference, and so someone is going to “win” in this scenario, and as neither preference is actually harmful/costly/discriminatory/illegal/whatever, it would stand to reason that the preference of the VP would trump the preference of the VP’s subordinate here.

                1. Maria Lopez*

                  You all have your opinions on this, but the admin is not necessarily bad because she has these THOUGHTS. Nowhere does it say she doesn’t do her work properly and timely.
                  Apparently many people think the papers in the chair is ok. She does not. That does not make her unreasonable or a bad admin, and ok admin does not mean bad admin.
                  It is amazing the extremes in the opinions here, and how unwilling others are in seeing another point of view.

                2. Maria Lopez*

                  Replied to the wrong post below.
                  If the VP wants the work to be prioritized, and the admon has explained that the best way to do that is to place the papers in the inbox, the the VP is shooting himself in the foot by obnoxiously ignoring this person who he NEEDS to do his work.

                3. Mr. Shark*

                  I get the VP is the VP, but it’s not the way he’s organizing his work, it’s the way she organizes his work that is key. So having him put it in her inbox is completely reasonable, as it helps her be more efficient (which is the bosses job). The fact that she doesn’t want it on her chair shouldn’t be a negative, and shouldn’t bother someone else–the VP or a boss. Why does it matter to them?

                4. Kettles*

                  The thing that is bothering me here is that a lot of people are assuming the VP is a sound, rational person. Most admins and assistants, and everyone below c-suite, have had to do the “Yes, you are important but Wakeen’s heart surgery trumps your ball game” dance with senior execs. Every person alive thinks their stuff is the most important. It doesn’t mean they’re right.

            2. EPLawyer*

              I have to wonder how much OP’s view of her job is influencing her reaction. She says it is an okay job and she is okay at it. She also sees it as a step back. Which are all valid things to think about a job.

              However, OP, I think because you are not thrilled with the job, the VP’s action is more annoying that it really is. If you loved your job, this might be seen as a quirk you work around. But because you are not happy in your job, it is at the BEC stage.

              I won’t say try to reframe this in your mind because I can’t see how to do this. Just be as professional as possible (which means not putting his stuff at the bottom automatically because he irked you) while looking for a new job. Remember you might need this reference someday. You don’t want them saying ” she deliberately deprioritized a VP’s work because he didn’t put it where she wanted it.” Written out from their point of view, see how bad that sounds? If you want to move on and up, you need to be professional in every job, whether you like the job or not.

          4. KP*

            He’s the VP. His work is the priority. He wants it prioritized. OP is the subordinate, is being deliberately obnoxious, and is ignoring the VP’s clearly stated preferences.

            It can be so hard to maintain emotional control and let something unimportant like this go once a person becomes fixated on taking this personally. OP is dangerously on the edge of the professionally cliff, entertaining CHUCKING IT OUT (WTF!? I hope that was a joke, but it doesn’t read as one). Which of course would be insubordination and could possibly get OP fired.

            1. Lucette Kensack*

              Well, we don’t actually know that his work is her priority. She supports multiple people; he might not be at the top of the heap. (And, even if he is, his expense report that isn’t due for two weeks likely isn’t a priority over, say, pulling together the packets for a client meeting happening this afternoon for another person she supports).

      1. My cat is my alarm clock*

        To elaborate, the problem is not that you have papers on your chair. The problem is that you have a VP who is worried about things getting done. There are lots of things you can do to solve that, and none of them involve petty insubordination.

        1. Kettles*

          The problem is that the VP is disrespecting his colleague and assuming his work takes precedence over everyone else’s. If he were worried about his work getting done, he could have a polite conversation with OP, like an adult.

          1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            But we don’t really know the hierarchy, right? All we know is that there’s a new VP, OP is that VP’s admin, and OP also provides support to three other folks. If they’re all VPs, then you’re right that the new VP is not being conscientious (I don’t think it’s as severe as disrespect, but it’s certainly problematic and, as you noted above, entitled). But there’s also a world in which the VP is the highest-up person in the team’s hierarchy, in which case his work might really take precedence. If that’s the case, then it’s not disrespectful for him to signal that his work requires higher priority by using his chair-as-inbox method.

            1. Insubordinate*

              If VPs work is so special, get a second inbox labelled “VP in”.

              Otherwise accidentally leave a bag or a large file on your chair.

              1. valentine*

                get a second inbox labelled “VP in”
                This may work. Make sure it’s a different color. If there’s no space, a three-tiered box with this infuriating tool’s inbox on top, then the regular inbox, then the outbox.

            2. Kettles*

              It’s not disrespectful to indicate his work is high priority. It *is* disrespectful to continue using that method when the admin has specifically asked him not to. I feel like the higher you are, the more important it is to be respectful of things that make your subordinates’ lives a little easier / happier. It wouldn’t kill him to politely ask OP to prioritise his work. It’s a direction, but there’s a reason why we say “Jane, can you send the TPS report?” and not “Minion! Report now!”

              1. Jasnah*

                Unfortunately I think that is the privilege of being a VP. If you decide that it’s better to do things X way, then people below you have to start doing it that way.

                1. Kettles*

                  Oh, as I said below, OP won’t ‘win’ this, and I suggested they look for another job elsewhere.

                2. Moray*

                  Do you really think someone should quit over someone ignoring her inbox?

                  By that standard, I’m pretty sure everybody should be quitting their job, because none of us can get our way all the time and there will always be minor disagreements that we’re overruled on.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                You are reading things into this that are just not there, and it’s doing the OP a real disservice to encourage her to continue seeing this as an act of disrespect. Quitting her job over this?! There are things that are worth quitting one’s job over. This is not one of them. This isn’t even worth expending energy on. He wants to make sure she sees some papers. That’s it.

                1. Kettles*

                  Ok. Deliberately ignoring a subordinate’s wishes is deliberately disrespectful. Maybe this is a British thing. We live in a class society. Admins have zero power. Giving them power over things that dont, in a material way, matter, is a sign of respect. His deliberate ignorance is a power play. Unless you are a weak, ignorant individual, why not respect your admin’s preferences? They have no power. Respecting their views is a sign of respect and politeness.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Maybe because there’s a reason this way works better for him. There’s no reason her preferences have to win out over his (in fact, given the hierarchy, it’s likely the other way around).

              3. Mr. Shark*

                Exactly. People keep saying why is she annoyed with this, and you could ask the opposite question–why can’t he just put the information in the inbox as she requests. She has her system organized so she can complete her work in the best possible way, and it is her desk, so he should respect those wishes.
                Now, if she is not completing his work on time, that is a separate discussion that needs to be had between the two of them.

              4. Mediamaven*

                The word disrespectful is way overused in describing work relationships. He is not being disrespectful. He’s the boss. He makes the rules. She needs to acclimate to him. Not the other way around.

            3. Yorick*

              Even though VP might be the top person on the team that OP supports, this thing he placed on her chair may not be the highest priority. She’s still going to have to prioritize it, and putting it in her inbox allows her to do that properly.

              1. Clisby*

                Seems to me it just highlights that new stuff has come in. If it had been put in the inbox, she’d still have to take it out to go through it. I’m also surprised that she thinks of something so common as a pet peeve rather than an office norm, but I guess we all have our quirks.

        2. Dontlikeunfairrules*

          I also have to wonder what OP’s “in-box” looks like. If it’s overflowing with papers and disorganized looking, maybe he’s just being on the safe side. I often leave things on coworkers’ chairs if their inbox is a mess.

          1. Lily Rowan*

            I don’t think I’ve ever actually worked with anyone who had an active well-organized in-box on their desk! So while I believe it’s possible to use that as an organizing system, it would take me a while to really understand that adding my paper to a pile would result in anything getting done.

        3. Behild my field*

          Yes. Annoying or normal, justified or not, the VIP is calling attention to a matter, and OP is responding with petty insubordination. It’s entirely possible that if OP keeps it up, OP will receive the invitation to discuss their PIP via chair mail.

      2. Mongrel*

        It’s not bad behavior, it’s annoying behavior and like it or not the VP has got the authority to say “This is how I like to do things. Tough”
        I don’t like papers on my chair as I’ve sat on a few when it has happened and I dislike working off crumpled paper (which is totally a me thing).
        Can OP compromise and ask the offender to place the offending documents on their keyboard? I was always much more likely to see stuff there when I walked in, especially first thing. Chairs got stuff dumped on while I sorted out a cuppa, docs on keyboard I looked at immediately.

    2. Sue*

      I would be sorely tempted to place my inbox on my chair when I was away from my desk.

        1. Carlie*

          That was my first thought. A few days of handing back crumpled papers would be my temptation. And at least once it actually would be an accident.

    3. Accountant Lady*

      It could also just be his long-standing preference of communication. It was like that when I came to my current job, people would leave almost all correspondence on your chair and it drove me batty. I’m going to SIT on your very important report, Bob, why do this? But since I was the new guy, I had to suck it up and go with their flow. For my workplace, it’s typical and accepted. Do I like it? No. I don’t like it any more than someone shoving loose papers under my office door (I’m going to STEP on your very important documents, Bob!), but this is the way people do things in this office.

      I think because he’s a VP, he gets to set the standard for how he leaves things for you. Leaving something on your chair, while annoying to you, isn’t disrespectful or out of line. Purposefully relegating his assignments to the bottom of your to-do pile as punishment, unfortunately, is.

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        It was the standard at my old job, too. I didn’t get it at first, but it did start to make sense – papers don’t generally go on chairs, so anything left there will be immediately noticeable. It’s easy for even those with clean desks to miss papers if they’re left without warning.

        1. General Ginger*

          Yeah, same. Honestly, I was befuddled reading this question, because we just leave stuff on people’s chairs in my office, and everyone is OK with it.

          1. Clisby*

            I know – I hadn’t read the earlier post someone mentioned, so this was the first time I’ve heard of someone objecting to papers being put on a chair. It was absolutely normal every place I’ve worked.

      2. iglwif*

        Papers on chair (or on keyboard) was standard in my old office, too. (I now work at home, and essentially without paper.) Putting a bright-colored file folder or a white sheet of paper on a black desk chair is a great way to make sure the person it’s for notices it’s there! I don’t think I ever sat on anything, but I may be wrong about that — I worked there for a LONG time so I’ve undoubtedly forgotten some stuff XD

        I can understand why it’s annoying to say “please use my inbox” and have someone keep putting their stuff on your chair instead, but I feel like OP’s reaction is waaaaay over the top.

        1. Kettles*

          “Please respect my wishes,”
          “Haha, nope.”

          You don’t see why that’s annoying? I think it’s key that OP is used to jobs with more autonomy and power too. I think this is highlighting the fact that people expect admins to put up with things that they don’t expect more senior employees to ignore.

          1. iglwif*

            I see why it’s annoying.

            I don’t see it as worth sabotaging your own and/or your boss’s work over, or worth quitting over.

            But, of course, everyone has different ideas of what things, despite being legal, not unethical, and acceptable to lots of other people, are worth quitting over, and that’s fine!

  9. Womble*

    #4 It makes sense to prioritise at-risk staff who don’t have another job. This company has acted really decently.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Yeah, I’m … not seeing the problem here. Why did you negotiate keeping your other job if not for this exact situation? Losing a job is never ideal, but it sounds like this one was always temporary. Wasn’t this always going to happen? As far as I can gather, LW 4’s feelings are hurt that they are letting her go at all, and then it’s insult to injury (in her head) that it’s over the inferior employee. But they apparently had to let someone go, and they considered the big picture and not just LW 4’s work ethic.

      However you slice it, though, they’re not throwing LW 4 out the door because they hate her and she sucks and they can’t wait to humiliate and embarrass and point and laugh at her on the way out. It sounds like … just business.

      1. Lynca*

        No one ever wants to be forced out of a job they enjoy doing (which it sounds like the OP does) but that happens. It may not be a rational reaction, but I can understand how it would make you feel like this.

        The company didn’t “pick” the co-worker because they were better. It’s not about that. They made the decision to minimize damage when faced with having to lay off someone. Which is a very good thing for a department to do. It shows they see the big picture and that’s something you absolutely want a department to do. While the OP may have wanted them to pick him/her over the co-worker, I think they need to really focus on the fact the department chose something compassionate.

    2. T3k*

      This. I wish the job I first had out of college was like this company. Instead I was the one laid off (with no other side job) and then a couple months later I heard they hired full time someone who started after me while I was still there and who had another job already. Getting laid off sucks period but the company sounds considerate and chose the slightly softer option (both LW and other employee will still have income instead of leaving one of them in a bind on how they’ll pay bills, rent, etc.).

    3. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      “I’m being laid off from a temporary posting because I have a job to go back to…I negotiated keeping my home position prior to taking this temporary position.”

      OP4, are you sure your management agrees with you that this is a lay-off? I’ve had temporary roles end and neither my management nor I considered those to be lay-offs. I was in place to do one job, the job ended, and I returned to my permanent position. If your management always saw this role as temporary–even if you did not–they are likely to not understand your reaction. Leaving a temporary role is usually part of the agreement to take it in the first place.

      1. Lw#4*

        LW#4 here – I believe you are right and will not be a lay off, but would be a much earlier ending of my posting. I wrote this below: it is in a different branch of the company, completely unrelated. The reason I’m so upset is that I was told they were going to keep me but now the funding earmarked for me has moved to this new person and even though I have actual work to do, they went to find *new* non budgeted work for this person. So literally went from keeping me, to keeping newbie. I thought decision not to keep newbie was because newbies role was over – aka completely independent decision.
        It’s just being tough keeping my chin up and being the only one to have my posting end early.

        1. Observer*

          I still don’t get the problem. I mean I DO get that you liked the work and would have wanted to stay for the whole posting. But to be demoralized because your employers are actually decent people who prioritize actually keeping someone employed over keeping someone in work that they enjoyed more than their regular job when they had to deal with a budget cut, makes no sense to me.

          You are basically complaining that you lost a perk so that someone could keep their job, and not even a perk that’s going to transform your life. While it’s not pleasant to lose a perk, your reaction comes off as being way over the top.

          Be glad you work for decent employers who try to minimize harm. One day it might help you, too.

        2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Hi LW#4. I completely understand how you feel. I’ve left temporary assignments that I thought could go longer or become permanent. However, that’s why employers set up temporary roles: no commitments. Most managers expect you to share their perspective on how temporary roles work, especially if you are have a permanent job in the organization.

          That doesn’t mean you cannot express a certain level of disappointment to your manager. In fact, it could be helpful for you to say “I enjoyed working here and I’m disappointed my assignment is ending early. Please let me know if there are any permanent roles when they open up–I would love to work here.” Just don’t (1) call it a lay-off, or (2) let it impact your work for the remaining period of time you are in the role. Doing well may be the best way to getting a permanent position, one where the expectations are clear to both sides.

      2. DreamingInPurple*

        Definitely this – if the role was always billed as a temporary posting, they aren’t going to look at sending you back to your previous role as a lay-off, they’re going to look at it as the natural end of the process.

    4. Pomona Sprout*

      Yeah, as someone who got laid off from a long term job when the economy went bust in 2008, was never able to find anything but temp gigs after that, got laid off from each one of those in turn (because that’s the nature of temp gigs), and finally gave up on the whole thing once I was old enough to start collecting social security, #4’s attitude REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. The sense of rntutlement there is …. argh, I can’t even.

  10. Womble*

    #4 Honestly I think you’ve lost perspective a bit. Which is understandable, but you may risk burning bridges and coming across badly to people you need for references etc if you continue to view this in the way you are. It was temporary, they’ve been decent, and you need to stop taking it so intensely personally.

    1. Lemonwhirl*

      Being laid off happens. I entered the workforce in 1996 and have been laid off 5 times. I even have the distinction of having been laid off in two different countries.

      It sucks, but it’s not personal. And you make it a lot worse for yourself when you choose to view it through a personal lens.

    2. Alianora*

      Yeah — the alternative is that the coworker is unemployed, and the company STILL has to find a replacement for the LW in however many months. This is the best solution.

    3. Marthooh*

      I’m hoping the language OP used just reflected their immediate response to being laid off, because being “heartbroken” that the department picked someone else is a massive overreaction. I can understand being horribly upset at losing a job, but the whole letter came across as “My bosses dumped me for another employee, how could they?!?!”

      Step back and assume they had a good reason for letting you go. Maybe they were being compassionate to the one who needed the job most, maybe they have budget constraints you don’t know about, maybe they think the other employee is more likely to stay in the job longer. Losing a job sucks, but it’s not an actual slap in the face.

      1. Clisby*

        Plus, if this was a temporary posting, it seems like they were always going to let the OP go (or, rather, have her return to the earlier job.) She’s just going back to it sooner than expected.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Yes, that happened to me. Neither my management nor I thought of it as a lay-off. If I had complained, my management (and my peers) would have considered my reaction to be out of place.

            1. Shirley Keeldar*

              I get it–it’s always tough to look happy when you’re not. Maybe it’s okay to let a bit of your disappointment show? “Aw, I’m bummed, I’ll really miss this place,” and “This work has been so interesting, it’s tough to let it go!” are fine things to feel and say. Even, “It’s such a shock; I was really expecting to be here for months. It’s taking me a little time to adjust.” Nobody would think worse of you for expressing these feelings and maybe you’ll feel better if you don’t feel like you have to smile through gritted teeth all the time. You just don’t want to let a hint of “Gosh, I’m seriously disappointed because Bobbina over there still has a job,” show. (I’m not saying you feel that way–I’m sure you don’t! I just don’t want your colleagues to get that impression of you.)

              1. Lw#4*

                That’s a really good way to put it. Being overly stoic is hard on me right now and yes I wrote the letter in the heat of the moment but at the time, just said how happy I was for the newbie (which I am). I think I am putting too much pressure on myself go keep a stiff upper lip at all times. I would like to be able to say I am a bit disappointed as I wanted to stay but I understand (disappointed especially as there were other positions I could have applied for but did not since I was told I was staying).

  11. alienor*

    #2, my former husband ended conversations he was finished with by saying “Well, I’d better let you go.” It worked like magic every time–people would react as if they genuinely thought they were the ones who wanted/needed to leave!

    1. Womble*

      I don’t think they genuinely believed that, necessity. I’ll let you go/I’d better let you go is just the universal signal for “Please go”.

      1. TassieTiger*

        Yeah, When people say “I better let you go” to me, I get out of their way as graciously as quickly as possible because I’m embarrassed that I overstayed my welcome

        1. valentine*

          I know someone who says they have to go, so I feel bad, but then they keep talking and may cycle through that several times. What works is if I literally don’t stop to chat, but it’s hard to focus on that and surrender particular comments I want to make.

          1. brighteyes106*

            I worked for a politician for a while who was an absolute master at cutting short conversations with the many people who wanted to speak to him (not to say he didn’t listen and engage, just that he had a lot of demands on his time). He’d end interactions with “Well, I’ll leave you in peace”, which I always thought was a nice touch. It flattered people by inferring he had been imposing on their time, and they tended to move off quickly.

    2. Writerboy*

      I loved the way a character on the TV series, “Cheers” handled this. He said, “Well Mr. Malone, you’re starting to become tiresome. I’m going to stand over there for a while.”

    3. M. Albertine*

      How about “Well, I don’t want to monopolize your time, I’m sure you have other people you’d like to talk to.” That implies the other person’s importance rather than your own.

    4. Snarktini*

      Ooh, people saying that is a peeve of mine! They’re the one trying to end the conversation, not me, and it’s bullshit to make it sound like they’re doing me a favor. Why can’t people simply someone own it and say “I have to go now”?

  12. Beth*

    #5: This would bother me too–it would feel patronizing, like my boss didn’t trust me to notice the message if he didn’t put it literally in my way so I couldn’t sit down without handling it. But I’m ultimately with Alison that it’s not worth making a big fuss over. Most things aren’t worth putting bad feelings between you and your boss, really; this isn’t discriminatory, it isn’t a sign that your boss is upset with your work, and it isn’t keeping you from doing your work well, so it’s probably in your best interest to just take it as an odd quirk and roll your eyes and move on.

    1. Magenta Sky*

      I suspect he has (and perhaps still does) dealt with people who *won’t* notice it unless they can’t sit down without moving it, because they don’t go through their inbox in a timely fashion, and as Alison points out, he’s not going to bother remembering different procedures for every employee.

      In a perfect world, he’d put it in the inbox, and all employees, every last one, would notice and prioritize it in a timely fashion, and act on it appropriately. If you ever find a perfect world, keep it secret or other people will show up and it won’t be perfect any more.

    2. My cat is my alarm clock*

      He can’t trust them though. The LW is currently demonstrating exactly that.

      1. Jem One*

        I don’t think so. She’s demonstrating that if someone is obnoxious to her, she’s not above being petty in response.

        She’s not in any way demonstrating that if VP puts his paperwork in the in-tray, where it should go, that it won’t get done in time, because it sounds like VP has never given her a chance to prove otherwise.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          If someone is obnoxious to her, she’s not above being petty in response.

          The human race in a thimble right there.

      2. Beth*

        There’s nothing here to suggest that OP is neglecting messages from this VP to the point where they’re running late. They put it at the bottom of their inbox when they get it, sure–but while that’s petty, it may well leave plenty of time to get it done before it causes problems.

        1. CanuckCat*

          I think that’s hard to say though because the sense I got was the LW was just automatically dumping anything left on her chair to the bottom of the inbox, which could mean there was high priority things being shunted underneath much lower priority documents.

  13. Cee Bee*

    #5 – You are way over-reacting. and consider why you you consider yourself only an “okay” admin. Don’t have a chip on your shoulder. Prioritize it properly and perhaps they’ll realize you are really up on things and not just being an “okay” admin who needs money and is resentful that they “took a step back”

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      This was exactly my thinking which I couldn’t phrase quite as well. #5’s letter seeps resentment and bitterness, it actually left a bad taste in my mouth. That bitterness is no doubt obvious to the VP who wants their work prioritized properly. If I was this VP and saw an “okay” admin putting my papers to the bottom of the inbox, or even chucking them, they’d have no warning before being let go. It’s just not how you act. OP #5 my only advice is to seek some gratitude for what you do have so that you don’t turn every day into a negative experience for yourself.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      This. The bits about burying the work out of spite, and having taken a step back in this job, are very telling. If LW 5 adjusted his* attitude a bit, the papers on the chair might be less irritating. The chip on his shoulder is … sizable.

      I don’t get why people get so upset about papers on the chair, even though I have heard people say they hate the presumptuousness of letting you know that you can’t even SIT DOWN without addressing this work. That’s just not usually how it’s intended. Put it where you want it and get on with your day. This is not worth spending your energy.

      *using male pronouns, despite convention on AAM, because somehow I automatically assumed that a perpetually disgruntled admin who uses spiteful organization tactics and thinks the job is beneath them (while admitting that they are mediocre at said job) was a dude. This is particularly odd because I was once a mediocre admin myself, and I’m a woman. Go figure.

      1. My cat is my alarm clock*

        I think this LW is also missing the question of whose needs should be met here. The VP wants his papers to be noticed. You can’t change things unless you are solving that problem for him in some way.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          Agreed. Meeting your boss’s needs, the way she needs them met, with, if not a pleasant attitude, then at least neutrality, is what being an admin means. That’s pretty much the whole job.

          The VP’s needs involve, among other things, not being real picky about where she leaves papers. The VP also apparently doesn’t think putting stuff on a chair is rude or insulting or demeaning or a big deal, so, here we are.

          Note: this is also why I was not a good admin. A great admin needs to be able to get fine details and requests correct to someone else’s specifications and preferences, even when those specs fly in the face of your own instincts and preferences. I didn’t care where people put papers, but whoo, I sucked at that other piece.

          1. valentine*

            I don’t get why people get so upset about papers on the chair
            It’s blatantly disrespectful. He’d probably be annoyed if OP5 sat on them or put the inbox on the chair before leaving and sat on the desk upon their return. If OP5 had a post-tornado desk, we’d say to clean it and get an inbox. There’s already a place for the stuff, yet VP has to be different. It’s an extra task just because he can.

            1. MissGirl*

              But it’s not. And that attitude urges her to find offense where may be meant. All of us have to bend to the priorities of those above us. I prefer email so I have a record of requests I can track; my boss prefers IM. I do IM.

              She’s risking her job over papers on her chair. Think about that for a second. Take out all biases and personal preferences and that’s what it boils down to.

              1. 2horseygirls*


                Not everything is about you, Karen.

                Would I love it if my boss did not interrupt the Very Important Call he directed me to make to stand over my shoulder while he gave me his CE certificate for the month (which can just get left on my desk, inbox, or be put directly in the first file folder in the drawer that he can easily access), or read his latest poetry piece to me?

                You betcha.

                Am I going to act like a child, throw out the CE, and get fired because he interrupted me?

                No. Because I am an adult, not a toddler.

              2. General Ginger*

                This. You’re not going to always love your boss’s methods of communication, or how they delegate, or whether they use IM, e-mail, or leave papers on your desk (or chair), but either you adjust to it, or you don’t.

                1. CanuckCat*

                  One of my former big bosses liked everything sent by e-mail so she could have a record of it, but she also got so many e-mails that if anything needed her attention in the next 1-3 days, we needed to print the e-mail out and put it on her keyboard with a red sticky. Was it (to me) a counter-intuitive process? Yup but she was my boss and that was how she liked things done, so that’s how I did it.

              3. LQ*

                There are so many letters about I prefer communicating with email/phone/whatever. This is just another form of that. And the answer is always, you can try to explain why your preference is better, but in the end it’s just preference and sometimes you just have to communicate with your boss the way your boss prefers rather than the way you prefer. This is just a physical manifestation of that.

            2. Rikki Tikki Tarantula*

              If she’s going to sit on papers she has a vision problem and should get that checked out.

              1. JJ Bittenbinder*

                Yeah, I’m surprised by the number of people who sit on papers and cupcakes and glitter bombs because they just plop into the chair without looking.

                I also feel like this is completely not a hill to die on, despite it being annoying. It’s not harming her or her chair, and I feel like the amount of mental energy and resentment the OP is churning out reacting to this far exceeds the energy it takes to just move the damn papers.

                1. Clisby*

                  Me too. However, my cats trained me long ago never to sit on anything without looking. Maybe these are dog people.

              2. The Gollux (Not a Mere Device)*

                If she has a vision problem, she may already have gotten it checked out, and be doing as much as is possible. Or as much as she can afford: corrective lenses for some vision problems can cost several hundred dollars, and may not get the person close to 20/20 vision.

            3. Yarrow*

              Could be. But it could also just be a difference in culture. I worked in an office where leaving stuff in chairs was pretty normal and people would specifically ask me to leave things in their chairs so they would see them first. Either way, it’s a pretty small hill to die on.

            4. Turquoisecow*

              It’s really not. As a person who has left papers on chairs and had papers left on my chair, I assure you no disrespect was intended in any of those instances, and none of us read it that way.

              It’s not personal. The VP leaves stuff on the admin’s chair because he wants to make sure it gets seen. How difficult is it to glance at it and put it in the inbox? Not at all. OP is taking this personally and it’s not personal.

              1. CMart*

                Even adding in the layer of having asked the VP to use the inbox and him ignoring that, I still wouldn’t round this up to “disrespect” or even a personal slight.

                Chances are incredibly high that all it is, is “I really want to make sure these get seen.”

                It likely has zero bearing on whether the VP thinks the LW is disorganized or not, whether the VP trusts them or not, whether the VP thinks the inbox system is good or bad or not. It’s just “have important papers, put somewhere obvious”.

                It’s annoying I guess, but not some sort of deep commentary.

      2. Maria Lopez*

        “That’s just not usually how it’s intended.” No, that is EXACTLY how it is intended. It is actually very rude on the VP’s part, but since the OP is admin to the VP she can’t do anything about it except to request the VP not do it.
        It really has the opposite effect that the VP thinks he is trying to effect, meaning the OP will NOT prioritize the work. And saying the OP is not a good admin as some other commenters have suggested is pretty unwarranted.

        1. Jen S. 2.0*

          People, including me, are saying LW 5 is mediocre at the job because LW 5 said it: “I’m an okay admin.”

          1. CmdrShepard4ever*

            I have worked as an admin, all admins but especially admins who support multiple people need to be need to be on top of their game almost 100% of the time. For most places being an admin is like a pass/fail grade, anything short of being a good admin is being a bad admin. I have supported multiple people and the biggest key of that is being able to properly prioritize work and part of the is knowing immediately when a new assignment comes in. When you are juggling 10 tasks, and a new task comes in you need to know about it right away to know where to stick it in the que. Sometimes you have what seem to be two equally pressing matters from two different people and you need to go back to both of them and confirm if they really are both pressing then find a way to do both right away.

            I say this as someone who was also an okay (aka bad) admin in my first job during the first 6 months, at my probationary 6 month review I was told about this. I worked hard to shape up and was able to become a good admin, so that when I left I was given a good reference.

            The letter leaks resentment at having to take an admin job. Similar to people who think having a PhD in Microbiology make them overqualified to be an admin, when in reality you could be a terrible admin.

        2. My cat is my alarm clock*

          The LW said that.

          Also, sorry but I’ve never worked anywhere where someone with this level of attitude could be viewed as a good admin. That’s a really key part of the job.

        3. Insubordinate*

          LW is doing rebellion the wrong way round. They should maliciously prioritise the VPs chairleft work.

            1. 2horseygirls*

              The VP is right, because he is the boss in this scenario.

              It is PAPER, people.

              LW5 is not being sexually harassed, or made to wear 5” stilettos and tight low cut clothes, or dragged out of bed at 2am to pick up VP from the airport.

              Perspective is sorely lacking here.

              1. President Porpoise*

                The VP is right, because he’s the boss in this scenario

                This is the key. You are paid to do your job, and the boss tells you what work to do, how he wants it done, and how to prioritize it. You are blatantly and insubordinately not doing your job to his specifications. This makes you a terrible admin – and employee – and puts your job at risk. You need to seriously retool your attitude, OP.

            2. CMart*

              The key there is “maliciously”. It would work in the same way I would operate with malicious compliance in one of my past serving jobs.

              I would be in the middle of answering Person B’s questions about the menu when Person A would blurt out “are you going to bring bread???” or “we all need waters” or “can you bring us bread?” (it was 90% of the time about bread).

              So I would immediately stop what I was doing, apologize to Person B and cheerfully say “oh gosh of course! Be right back!” and Person A would then splutter “wait what oh I didn’t mean NOW” and I would call over my shoulder “oh it’s no problem, it’s clearly important to you!”

              They were usually chastened and realized how rude they’d been/how unnecessary it was to interrupt since they didn’t actually mean right the hell now. In this office scenario, seeing the VP’s papers and dropping everything to do it, rushing back to say “I did the thing you left on my chair! I pushed back ordering lunch though I hope that’s okay, I didn’t want to lose sight of the priority!” is malicious compliance.

              I do not recommend actually doing this as it is equally petty, but aggressively prioritizing everything dropped on a seat would likely get the point across.

              1. DreamingInPurple*

                To be honest I’m kind of surprised they were/acted chastened, because that’s pretty transparently passive-aggressive.

        4. Observer*

          No, that is EXACTLY how it is intended.

          Maybe that is how YOU intend it, but others have had other experiences. Which means that we don’t know what the OP’s boss intends. On the other hand we DO know that the OP’s attitude is such that it is totally not unreasonable to suspect that their judgement in the matter is compromised. So.

          It really has the opposite effect that the VP thinks he is trying to effect, meaning the OP will NOT prioritize the work

          That’s not on the VP. It is TOTALLY on the OP. You simply don’t respond to your boss trying to get you to prioritize things by refusing to do your job. And, if the OP escalates to throwing out the VP’s papers, they will get fired, and it WILL be for cause.

          nd saying the OP is not a good admin as some other commenters have suggested is pretty unwarranted

          Considering that the OP has admitted that they are “ok”, that they are refusing to prioritize their Boss’ work and they are threatening to throw out their Boss’ work(!), I think it’s a very warranted comment.

      3. Jasnah*

        I agree with you, but I’m also confused why you explicitly state that you assumed it was a dude? It reads kinda like you assumed that because of how the LW acted? I’m sure that’s not what you meant. We know the VP is a woman but I don’t see LW’s gender confirmed anywhere.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        I don’t get why people get so upset about papers on the chair, even though I have heard people say they hate the presumptuousness of letting you know that you can’t even SIT DOWN without addressing this work.

        As someone said upthread, it’s the equivalent of marking every email “URGENT.” It’s annoying. I wouldn’t do anything about it, but it’s annoying.

      5. Ico*

        It seems really odd to note you are using a male pronoun against convention because when you heard about a person acting badly you assumed they were male.

    3. Data Analyst*

      Agreed. I think it feels especially demeaning because there’s some underlying sense of shame or anger about now being “just” an admin. It is pretty annoying to insist on putting papers on the chair, but OP is making it unnecessarily charged.

  14. AcademiaNut*

    The country I live in has legislated bonus marriage leave, which must be taken within a few months of the wedding. I think it’s partly an attempt to boost the birth rate – people generally don’t have kids here without being married, and the birth rate is really, really low (1.2). The amount of leave depends on the classification of the job, which led to my husband getting more leave than I did when we got married, which was amusing.

    1. Artemesia*

      My SIL got paternity leave for each of their kids and he always got more paternity leave than my daughter got maternity leave although she was the one recovering from childbirth (a physical challenge that a lot of people underestimate when thinking about ‘equalizing’ maternity and paternity leave.) He just happened to work for more generous companies than she did — different companies each time too.

      1. Grapey*

        “‘equalizing’ maternity and paternity leave.”

        The equalizing is meant to force employers to cover time off for both parents. Therefore men can’t fall back on the excuse that they have no physical need to stay home, which would reinforce society’s idea that non-birth parents are more financially valuable to employers.

      2. Pommette!*

        Interesting note: some jurisdictions that work to equalize maternity and paternity keep things fair by offering pregnancy/birth leave, which is a distinct category from parental leave, and is meant to recognize the reality you describe.

        New parents get access to parental leave, which can be split up as desired, without regard to the parent(s)’ gender. People who go through pregnancy get access to the pregnancy/birth leave, without regard to their legal status as parents/to whether or not they take a baby home. A surrogate parent or person who places their child up for adoption will be eligible for pregnancy/birth leave.

        So for instance in Canada, if a heterosexual couple have a bio baby, the mother would have access to birth leave, while both parents would have access to parental leave.

        1. Grapey*

          Does the birth leave stack on the parental leave so that the birth parent stays home longer? That still seems like an incentive for employers to (illegally) be biased towards hiring workers that don’t need the longest leave.

          I feel like until men are required to miss important meetings/career advancements/force employers to hire temps just as much as those that give birth, there won’t be true equality. I don’t know what the best answer is though.

          1. Valprehension*

            The parental leave can only be taken by one parent at a time! So, the birth parent gets 15 weeks of pregnancy leave, and then following that, there’s a bank of parental leave weeks that the parents can split however they want.

  15. Chocolate Teapot*

    1. Not sure about all EU countries, but here there are additional paid days off for major life events, such as your wedding, your offspring’s wedding, births, adoption, bereavement and moving house. The number of days vary depending on the event.

    1. My cat is my alarm clock*

      What country are you in? Can’t be UK as we have no right to bereavement leave.

      1. Ponytail*

        I got bereavement leave in my jobs, and so did my partner. It might not be a right but it’s a benefit, same as the original letter. If anyone felt they were being discriminated against by not having the only member of their family die, they’d better not have said it to my face!
        Also wedding leave, moving house leave, emergency leave (limited) and sick leave plus all the usual paternity/maternity/adoption leave.

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Maternity/paterntiy/adoption leave and bereavement are different to leave for getting married – the first isn’t discrimination, and the second is probably illegal in whatever EU country you’re in (it definitely goes against 2010 equality act in uk).

      Having a “special occasion” holiday allowance that you can use as a one-off for something that you think is important enough is fine – which may be how they are using it?

      1. Ponytail*

        I don’t know if this was linked to my statement but I do work in the UK. And I know of people who have got wedding leave, because it doesn’t discriminate against people – anyone can get married in the UK (save Northern Ireland, perhaps).

      2. Maria*

        No, not illegal in Spain, we get two weeks of paid leave for marriage or civil union by law

    3. MK*

      Additional days off for major life events (two in my country) is usually about dealing with the beaurocracy: registering your marriage or the birth/death in the municipal registry, filing paperwork with the insurance, etc.

    4. Aew*

      In my EU country we have by law two paid weeks of leave for marriage or civil union. Even if I don’t plan to use it, I never questioned it.

    5. Mathilde*

      I’m in France and we get that by law, although companies have the right to be more generous (but they can’t be less generous than the required time off).

      This year, I got two days for my grandmother’s funeral, and I will get four days at the end of the year for my civil union.
      It is also four for a wedding, 3 if your child dies, 2 if a parent dies, 1 if it’s a sibling. I think you get 1 if your child gets married.

      Moving days depends on the trade branches agreement though ; I don’t get any, for instance.

      1. Mathilde*

        I will add that I totally get how such company policies can feel unjust in a country where paid leave is not regulated and is generally way too restricted.

        Days offs for life events feel like a bonus* when your annual leave is already fair, and I never really questioned it when other people got it, although I just recently had to use this.

        * although the two days for my grandmother’s funeral were hardly fun or resting.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          I think you just hit the nail on the head. In a country where people get liberal amounts of leave to use, this policy would probably be considered charming and kind. In places where you’re lucky to have two weeks, giving an additional week of leave only to people getting married is going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of everyone who’s been trying to figure out how to portion their PTO so that they don’t burn out and can still attend family functions etc.

          1. Ret*

            I disagree. I receive a liberal amount of leave and I would still be annoyed if a coworker got more just for getting married. Its about fairness, not just getting enough leave.

            1. Harper the Other One*

              True – maybe it’s more that it would feel less egregiously unfair.

            2. MK*

              There will be some people like you who are concerned with the fairness of the policy on principle, but also a lot (maybe the majority) who really won’t care all that much, as long as they themselves have liberal time off.

            3. WillowWeep*

              I could have really used divorce leave – that was a pain in the @$$, emotionally draining and logistically a nightmare!

    6. Bagpuss*

      I’m in the UK, and there is no automatic right to time of for any of those things other than births / adoption .

      many employers will however include them either as policy or on a discretionary basis.

      For instance, where I work, there is no automatic right to bereavement leave but we have provisions for discretionary compassionate leave and would typically give 2-3 days paid leave in those circumstamces.

      I’ve never come across anywhere that offers additional paid leave for things like weddings or moving house, the presumption is generally that you will plan and use your normal paid holiday for those sorts of things. Of course, there may be UK companies which do offer time off for those kinds of events, but I’ve not personally heard of any!

      1. Lena Clare*

        As a teacher in the UK you can get a day off in term time to exchange contracts when home purchasing. I think this may even apply to renting too. I always assumed it was because estate agents’ hours don’t suit schools’ hours.

        1. doreen*

          I would assume it’s also because teachers don’t get much time to take off when school is in session. For example, teachers in my city get 3 personal days per year ( and 10 sick days) while other city employees get twice as much. But those employees don’t get a paid week for the various breaks ( Christmas , winter, spring) like teachers do.

      2. londonedit*

        I’ve worked for one company in the UK that gave an extra day’s leave as a ‘moving day’ when someone bought a house. At that time it was only for people who bought property, I guess because with renting you could end up moving once a year or even more frequently. Though in London it’s practically impossible to buy a house, so it does feel a little unfair to renters!

        1. Ponytail*

          Ooh, I wonder if we worked for the same organisation- ours had the same strict criterion. I couldn’t use it when I moved 50 miles, from a city to a small town, but when I bought my house, and moved 5 miles, I got a day off!

  16. Drago Cucina*

    1. I’m married and don’t like this at all. Getting married is great, but people who don’t get married or come to work for the company married don’t get extra time. When I celebrate BIG anniversary should I get an extra week? When single person celebrates big life event should she can an extra week? They are just as valid.

    5. I feel your annoyance and can relate. I had co-workers and a boss who did this all the time. It took lots of explaining that this actually slowed down my work. Instead of diving into my work I had to deal with the stuff left on my chair and prioritize it. I did have things fall off my chair (really!) and land under my desk. It didn’t get addressed as quickly as it would if put in my box. Unfortunately you may not have much luck pushing back.

    1. Working Mom Having It All*

      But isn’t that true for all benefits or forms of PTO?

      I have a child. I am not planning to have another child. Does that mean that my company should stop offering a generous maternity leave policy, stop the extra fertility or adoption benefits they offer, etc, because I didn’t work here when my child was born?

      If I just had jury duty and am unlikely to get it again anytime soon, does that mean my next job should stop giving PTO for jury duty?

  17. Iron Chef Boyardee*

    In response to 5. My VP insists on leaving papers in my chair instead of my inbox:

    I sometimes leave papers on my boss’ chair. There’s a lot of paperwork on his desk already, and he doesn’t have a formal, physical inbox, so leaving them on his chair is the best way to make sure he knows he’s got something new.

    On occasion, I even leave my work on my chair as a reminder that it’s something I need to take care of! (Or finish up with, whatever the case may be.)

    OP, I agree with the others who say you’re making too much of this. On the other hand, there are some things my boss does that I don’t like how he does them, that I’d rather do instead of him, but if I were to write and ask Alison for advice about how to go about making that happen, I’d probably get a similar response to what you got (and are getting here in the comments section). So while the specifics differ, I get where you’re coming from. A pet peeve is a pet peeve, and it’s still a big deal to you.

    You prefer the new VP uses an inbox, but he doesn’t want his work to be lost in the shuffle of your other work. So, let’s see… is it any kind of an idea for you to set up a separate inbox, in addition to the one you already have, and prominently label the new one “RESERVED FOR [name of the VP]”? That way, you get the inbox, he gets a place just for his work where he knows you’ll see it, and everybody will be happy.

    1. Kettles*

      VP: Does a thing
      Employee: Please could you not
      VP: Imma keep doing it because I’m obviously more important than everyone else, including all the other VPs and CEO
      Employee: Well, if you’re going to act like a toddler…

      1. valentine*

        Imma keep doing it because I’m obviously more important than everyone else
        Yes. It wasn’t a big ask and shouldn’t have been necessary.

        1. Artemesia*

          I am the VP and this is how I like to do things to make sure my AA is aware of new material immediately. Why does this have to be such a giant big deal? The job of the AA is to make the Boss’s job easier.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I think the reaspn it is a bg deal is because it assumes that your AA would not be aware of the material if you just put in in her inbox, so it defaults to assuming that she isn’t checking her inbox regularly, or that she isn’t able to do her own job, which presumably includes ensuring that she deals promptly with tasks you give her, effectively.

            Out of interest, have you ever asked your AA what her preference is? It may be that she is happy to have stuff left on her chair, or that she doesn’t care either way, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

            While I think the the LW here probably needs to accept that her boss isn’t going to change, and she should be aiming to do her job as efficiently as possible rather than retaliating, if it had been her boss who was writing in I would have said that he should listen to his AAs request and not carry on intentionallydoing something she has asked him not to do.

          2. Carlie*

            Because the admin is another human being with their own brain and work methods? Think about it this way: you are saying that the reason you leave papers on the chair is “to make sure my AA is aware of new material immediately”. If this system works for both of you, great! However, if they have already expressed a desire that you not do that, and that a different place to leave them is where they will notice it immediately, what you are actually communicating is, at the very least:
            I don’t care what you prefer
            I don’t care how you do things
            I don’t trust you in your own decisions about what work flow works best for you
            I know how to get your attention better than you think you know how to get your attention
            I refuse to even let you SIT DOWN before having to address my work first
            And you are communicating those things to the admin every single time you do it that way.

            Yes, the boss has the right to require priority levels and attention, but every person has their own style of filing/organizing/coping with their work space. The admin ought to be able to set theirs up in a way that maximizes their ability to do their job well. I mean, seriously. “The job of the AA is to make the Boss’s job easier” – and how exactly can they do that when the boss keeps subverting even basic “where things go on the desk” requests?

            I guess I… have very strong feelings, on this subject that I didn’t even know existed until 15 minutes ago, because I can’t even fathom a system in which people leave important documents on other people’s chairs. It seems like some kind of violation of private space in a way that leaving papers on a keyboard doesn’t. I can’t imagine not being able to sit in a freaking chair without someone having possibly stuck things there that I shouldn’t sit on. What’s next, walking up and taping a document to their face so they can’t see until they’ve dealt with it?

            1. Antilles*

              I can’t even fathom a system in which people leave important documents on other people’s chairs.
              For what it’s worth, this seems to be a fairly common practice. I’ve had people leave stuff on my chair for years, at multiple different companies, and I’ve left stuff on people’s chairs too. I’ve visited client’s offices and seen stuff on chairs there, I’ve personally watched a couple people in the office of our local government do it.
              Even in companies where inboxes exist, the leave-it-on-a-chair thing happens – it conveys a level of “I needed to make sure you saw this because this is critically urgent” that being one of the 12 documents in the inbox doesn’t. Though this does rely on people being generally reasonable and comprehending the difference between something that really is read-ASAP-urgent and something that can wait the extra few minutes till I get to it from my inbox; if everybody leaves stuff on your chair, this loses its’ purpose because you effectively just have a second inbox.

            2. MissGirl*

              I’m confused. But doesn’t this imply the boss would know the admin’s organizational schema? Doesn’t leaving it on the chair and not messing with the admin’s stuff give the admin the opportunity to organize it to her preference. I worked at a job where people constantly left huge stacks of paper on my chair and that enabled me to put them where I needed them.

              1. Lizzy May*

                In this specific case, the VP knows because the Admin has asked him to use the inbox. The reaction of putting the work at the bottom of the pile or thinking about throwing it out are too much, in my opinion as someone who hates chair piles, but it doesn’t feel great to have a boss ignore your own stated preference for how to organize your work.

            3. doreen*

              I can never quite understand how people think there’s a way to solve the problem of contradictory preferences without resorting to hierarchy or something similar. Otherwise, how else do you decide when I want a phone call and my subordinate ( or manager) prefers email or vice-versa.

              I mean, ” I don’t care what you prefer ” works in both directions.

              1. Yorick*

                It’s not that difficult to work out different preferences. If you prefer phone calls but your subordinate likes email, you could start emailing her with some stuff but still call when you think it’s truly necessary.

                And “I prefer to leave stuff in your chair” is not the same sort of issue. The action that he’s doing is the same whether he leaves it in the inbox or the chair.

                1. fposte*

                  I could, but I’m probably not going to (though in my head I’m switching the examples around because I’d definitely email), nor would my boss if I had a preference.

                  I do think that sometimes people who object to things like this think it’s a lower-level indignity and that once you become any kind of supervisor you call every shot. But short of CEOs (and even they often have external masters) everybody has people in the workplace whose preferences they conform to. If I’m asked to call by people whose time costs my employer more than mine, you bet I call, even if I’d prefer email. If I’m asked to come to their office to talk, then I come to their office to talk. It’s not disrespectful; it’s just traffic control.

            4. PersephoneUnderground*

              Thank you for the good explanation- it’s a matter of working together to get the work done most efficiently, and ignoring such a simple direction makes it clear she cares more about hierarchy than actual productivity, or she’d adjust to what the admin says is most efficient for her work. If this made any difference in the VP’s productivity I’d say it’s her call, but it doesn’t, it only effects the workflow of the admin. So logically she should just follow simple requests that make everything run more smoothly.

              Oh, and the method we always used at my office if we wanted a new thing visible in an inbox was to put it in sideways, so it is in the inbox but obvious. Then there’s a visual difference but it’s still in the right place. Once the paper was looked at the person could deal with it however or put it back straightened out etc. I used that system myself too.

            5. Mr. Shark*

              +1 on what Bagpuss and Carlie said.
              To disregard the system in place that the AA has in order to organize her work and in turn, make the VP’s life easier is disrespectful. It doesn’t take any extra effort on the VP’s part to put the papers in the inbox, so that the AA can organize their work effectively.
              The VP just ignoring the request because it has to be his way is ridiculous.

      2. Grand Mouse*

        I’m not seeing where you’re getting this? I could make a request of my boss but I could not insist on it and failing to accommodate them would make me look bad, not them (assuming it is not a illegal or otherwise serious thing). And I’m all for worker’s rights and standing up for yourself!

        1. Grand Mouse*

          For example, right now I text my boss for quick questions or updates (he is not on site). This is easier for me because of my communication style and there has been no complaints on his side. If he insisted on phone calls, I might ask why once and see if there was a compromise but other than that? Phone calls it is.

        2. Kettles*

          He’s acting like a toddler because he’s behaving as though he’s the most important person in the room and must be catered to. Processes exist for a reason and have usually been formulated to facilitate the smoothest work possible. Insisting on putting his work on her chair says that a) he doesn’t trust her to handle the work b) he thinks he’s more important than everyone else, including the other VPs c) he doesn’t respect her opinions or processes.

          1. Rabbit*

            But he’s a VP – he may very well be the most important person in the room. You are also making an unfounded assumption that the other people who OP is assisting are also VPs

          2. WellRed*

            We don’t know that at all. He probably isn’t even giving this any thought. However, if the OP wants to be thought of as capable, the OP should stop acting childish and strive to be better than “OK”

          3. Mr. Shark*

            +1 Kettles!

            Just because the VP is important doesn’t mean he can’t respect those who work under him, and has to have everything his way, even when it doesn’t affect his work at all, and is affecting what is on the AA’s desk and her area.

      3. Susie Q*

        I actually LW #5 is acting like a toddler. The VP gets to set the tone for how she does business and handles work. That’s why she’s the VP. It’s no different than a VP setting other operating or business practices. It falls within her realm of jurisdiction. LW #5 can either deal with it and let go of her bad attitude or she can find a new job.

        1. Lynn Whitehat*

          I agree. You don’t have to do the work right then, just take two seconds to put it where you want it and get on with your life.

          Full disclosure: my husband has a complicated filing system I don’t understand. When I need to be 110% sure he saw something, I put it on his chair.

        2. Kettles*

          He’s acting like a toddler because he’s behaving as though he’s the most important person in the room and must be catered to. OP has multiple people she reports to and he is not more important or special than his peers.

          1. Susie Q*

            No where in the letter does it state that the LW supports only VPs. She states she supports 4 people. Those could be the VP and 3 people who report to him. Therefore the VP is more important.

            1. Kettles*

              ‘could be’ – ‘therefore the VP is more important’.

              *If* your supposition is correct. You really don’t know.

          2. Lucette Kensack*

            Kettles, this is a genuine question (not a snarky one): how is the LW behaving any differently than the VP?

            They each have a preference about how to handle papers that flow from the VP to the LW. Why does the VP’s insistence on his preference mean he is “acting like a toddler,” while the LW’s insistence on her preference is OK?

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Yes. They both have a preference. One of those preferences is going to win out. It’s not weird or disrespectful that the preference of the person higher in the hierarchy gets deferred to. The whole job of an admin is to support people above them and make those people’s lives easier.

              You could not be a good admin with the attitudes I’ve seen in some comments here. It’s mind blowing.

          3. Observer*

            He actually DOES need to be catered to by his AA, though.

            If the OP could honestly have said “I’m a rock star AA, and having him put it in my in box rather than chair enables me to do my job more easily”, that would be one thing. But “I’m ok” and “I just don’t like it” doesn’t make a compelling case for THEIR preferences to take precedence over that of the boss.

            1. Mr. Shark*

              It’s obvious that having it put in her inbox is making her job easier.
              It’s also just a matter of giving respect to people who work under you. Yes, the boss could come in and throw papers all over my desk if he wanted to, and as the assistant, there’s nothing you can do, but that’s not respectful at all. If the AA has a system on HER desk, to get HER work done, and it doesn’t affect the VP, why can’t he simply comply with that. Now, if it was causing more work for him, I’d agree. But there is no more work for him to put the papers in her Inbox.
              If there is a separate issue where the AA is not completing the work in a timely manner, that is a completely different situation, and the VP needs to handle that directly, not by putting papers on her chair.

      4. Observer*

        VP: Does a thing
        Employee: Please could you not
        VP: Imma keep doing it because I’m obviously more important than everyone else, including all the other VPs and CEO
        Employee: Well, if you’re going to act like a toddler…
        Employee: I know! I’ll act like a CRANKY toddler!

        1. CMart*

          Or even:

          VP: Does a thing
          Employee: Please could you not
          VP: Please could I though, imma keep doing it.

          And that really should be the end of it. The VP isn’t coming to the LW’s desk to get all their farts out for the day, they’re putting papers in a different spot.

          1. Mr. Shark*

            VP: Does a thing
            Employee: It would be helpful if you could not
            VP: Your opinion on your own desk doesn’t matter, and I can’t be bothered to worry about what you think

  18. Knitting Cat Lady*

    I’m a non-exempt worker payed via collective labour agreement (via IGM) in Germany.

    We have a list of special leave conditions.

    This contains deaths in the family (amount of time depends on degree of relation), birth of a child (for the not pregnant parent), getting married, moving…

    It’s three days at the most and meant to deal with logistics.

  19. Kettles*

    #5 – Your VP is being obnoxious, disrespectful, entitled and childish. Thing is, one of the reasons I hated admin is that if senior figures choose to disrespect you, you have very little recourse. He shouldn’t get a free pass on rudeness for being a VP, but in practice he will. This isn’t going to change and you aren’t going to win this. Your best bet is to polish your cv.

    1. Grand Mouse*

      If you choose to see it that way, then that is what you will take out of it. I’m all for fighting injustices but this is not it. This attitude makes it harder on everyone, especially yourself. It is very difficult and draining to believe every action is a slight against you.

      1. Kettles*

        I never said this was an injustice that needed to be fought. I said it was obnoxious. Also please don’t put words in my mouth; (someone else is now slamming me for calling it an injustice, which I did not do) – I never raised this to the level of ‘worker’s rights’; that would be hyperbolic and ridiculous.

        All I said is that he is choosing to disrespect her, (which he is), that he’s not going to change, and that if she doesn’t like she should move on. We all have our own tolerance level for this sort of behaviour. It doesn’t bother you – great! It obviously does bother OP, which is why they wrote in, and their feelings are just as valid as yours.

    2. Susie Q*

      This is not injustice, puh-lease. Children working for pennies a day is an injustice.

      LW#5 does like a workplace policy that her boss has put in place that falls directly in the VP’s realm of jurisdiction. It’s not different than another boss saying I need you to write the TPS reports, convert them to a PDF, then email them to me. LW #5 can either do her job according to the policies that her VP has established or find a new job.

      1. Kettles*

        I didn’t use the word injustice. I said obnoxious and entitled, which it is. Please don’t project the idea that I’m saying this is like child labour. It is acceptable to object to an obnoxious boss without them being an overseer at a sweat shop.

      2. Kettles*

        Also; no, it’s not like the format of a report. It’s more like the VP ordering an admin to print documents when he has his own printer. Can he do it? Sure. Is it a raging injustice? No. Is it an indication that they neither respect nor value you? Yes. And OP is certainly entitled to look for another job if she feels undervalued and disrespected.

        1. Antilles*

          It’s more like the VP ordering an admin to print documents when he has his own printer.
          Printing documents for higher level management is part of the expected job description of an admin, even if he’s got his own printer.
          If it’s a short and simple print job, then the VP probably should do it himself for efficiency’s sake – if he only needs one copy of a memo, it’ll take more time for the VP to actually explain the request than it would for him to just click print himself.
          But beyond the extremely short-and-sweet stuff, the VP actually *should* be ordering the admin to do it, because it frees him up to do stuff that’s more critical to the business – selling to clients, project management, planning the department strategy, etc.

        2. Colette*

          That’s a really harsh view of something that’s just not a big deal. The VP could too busy to figure out how to get the document to print correctly, or stuck on calls and unable to walk to the printer, and her assistant’s job is to assist. Even if the VP is just incompetent at printing – so what? If the admin refuses, I wouldn’t think the VP is the one with a disrespectful attitude.

          1. fposte*

            It’s also a pretty narrow construction of respect and valuing. I can hire somebody to do things I could do myself and still respect and value them.

            Different workplaces and different fields will have some conventions on what’s a culturally acceptable delegation, but having an admin print something would be acceptable in most workplaces I know (assuming the admin is actually tasked with supporting you, of course).

        3. Jessie the First (or second)*

          “It’s more like the VP ordering an admin to print documents when he has his own printer.”

          This is literally a thing that admins do for people. Yes, even when those people have their own printers.

          When I worked in a big office and had my own admin, I would have my admin print out things for me all the time. That was expected at my firm – because even though I had a printer and even though we all of us respected the admins in our firm as human beings and valued them greatly, my non-clerical work time could be billed to clients and so the firm did not want me doing any clerical work.

          I see you feel strongly about this, but I really get the sense that you have never been an admin, or never had an admin. Because I feel like you are fundamentally misunderstanding the role of an admin in your comments.

        4. Mr. Shark*

          Kettles, I agree about the paper on the chair thing, but yeah, I don’t get the VP asking the AA to print something. That’s not a big deal, and not really a great comparison.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      The thing is tho, not everyone defines putting items on a chair rude (or an injustice). We dont have a shared “rule” about this, what we have are preferences and the VP’s preferences trump the assistant’s preferences.

      Higher level staff preferences trump lower level staff preferences is practically the definition of work. I can certainly say I prefer another way or ask for clarification, but in the end, my boss defines my work.

    4. Anononon*

      If someone is willing to quit over this issue, they’re not going to succeed very well in the workplace. Yes, it’s frustrating and annoying, but it’s not that big a deal in the grand scheme.

      1. Kettles*

        Ummmm… ok. I quit an admin job because I didn’t like being ordered to print documents, when my boss had their own printer. I found that disrespectful and a waste of my time. I have had several, far better jobs since. Deciding you don’t want to be treated like a personal servant isn’t a moral or vocational failing.

        1. MissGirl*

          I understand now why you’re so angry and commenting on so many different threads. This feels very personal to you. Others, though, are allowed to have different perspective and offer different advice.

          I don’t think your story demonstrates the VP is wrong; I think this demonstrates you hated being an admin. I’m glad you found better-suited work. But everything you described and the OP described falls under the umbrella of being an admin. If that’s work she doesn’t want, she should definitely hunt for different roles.

          In the meantime, her dislike of the work and boss is coloring her ability to do it well. If she does want to move on, it would behoove her to do the job well, please her boss, and keep the reference and relationship in tact.

        2. Moray*

          “Servant.” Seriously? I don’t pull “ists” often, but do you know how classist that sounds?

          This seems very, very personal to you, and you aren’t being objective. You simply weren’t going to be compatible with any admin job and it doesn’t sound like you understand how anyone could. An admin (and yes, I’ve been one) is supposed to do what their boss asks them to do in the way their boss asks them to do it.

          There are things some admins are asked to do that I think aren’t okay–I would probably push back on regularly fetching lunch, for example–but pretty much any office task is fair game. They get to “waste” your time, because that is what your time is for.

          And it very much sounds like you’re judging people for being okay with that, or God forbid satisfied in that kind of position. Some people like being helpful and flexible and patient, some people like low-stakes work. The type of jobs you took later weren’t “better.” They were better *for you*.

          1. iglwif*


            My first full-time job had a title that included the word “assistant”, and it was amazing to me how often people seemed to think that was like … demeaning, or made my job unimportant, or lacked dignity. I *loved* that job. (well, except for my immediate supervisor, who was kind of a tool … but I figured out how to handle her, eventually.) I supported people who appreciated and valued my work. I learned a ton of stuff (software skills, admin skills, people skills, new knowledge of all kinds). I felt useful — I *was* useful.

            And yes, the ways in which I was useful included printing stuff for people who undoubtedly had their own printers, and stuffing envelopes, and printing labels, and putting things in the mail (this was the mid-1990s lol), and sending emails and letters “on behalf of so-and-so” and signing letters “per so-and-so”, and collecting expense reports after meetings, and tons of other admin stuff. *Could* the folks I supported have done all that admin stuff themselves? Sure. But then they’d have had much less time for the parts of their jobs that *only they could do*. My role existed to give them time to do those parts. That is literally what an admin role is. And I’m not gonna lie, I found the whole experience deeply satisfying: it was a job I could do really well, and I did, and I was appreciated for it.

            And like … it’s fine if that’s not for you! Not everyone enjoys the same things, and that’s great! But there is absolutely nothing wrong with being happy in an admin or support role, and if you hate working in such a role so much that you are willing to sabotage yourself to get petty revenge on your boss *for putting papers on your chair* then … maybe look for another job. Not because your VP is being horribly offensive and disrespectful, but because it seems like an admin role is maybe not for you.

          2. Kettles*

            Bull. It’s the opposite of classist. It’s about specific bosses treating their admins like personal servants. I also worked admin jobs where I was treated with respect. It doesn’t cost anything. I’ve also worked multiple jobs in factories – where again, I was treated with respect. My overseer at the packing factory never expected bootlicking. That particular boss (at a prestigious university) did. Why is mutual respect – even in an unequal relationship- such an alien concept?

        3. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

          Good lord, I’m a lawyer and sometimes my boss asks me to print stuff to bring to a meeting. Am I supposed to say no, I went to law school, print your own damn papers?

          1. President Porpoise*

            Hell, sometimes my peers ask me to print something, because their printer login isn’t working or something. I’m not going to get pouty about it – I’m going to do the two second task that leaves my coworkers grateful to me and permits business to continue smoothly – because I’m a professional who understands how an office is supposed to work, and because it is such a low stakes thing. Golly.

          2. Missy*

            Same. I actually was an admin for a decade before I went to law school and became an attorney. I’ve had to be TRAINED to use my admin staff instead of just doing everything myself because I didn’t want to impose on staff to do things that I could do. My boss literally had to take out a calculator and explain that when I was spending 10 minutes printing out a file and making sure it was all correct it was costing much more (at my rate of pay) then having admin do it. And take all those phone calls and print jobs and everything all up and it was a waste of money.

        4. General Ginger*

          Printing documents is literally part of an admin’s job in my office, even though we have multiple printers. Your boss may very well have their own printer, and it’s still perfectly reasonable for them to ask you to print documents, if you’re their admin. It’s not about being a servant, it’s about the boss’s time needing to be spent on stuff other than printing documents. FWIW, I’m a manager, not an admin, and my boss has asked me to print stuff for her last minute for unplanned meetings while she prepped other stuff, because sometimes that’s just how it is, and the work needs to get done.

        5. Spreadsheets and Books*

          I’m a manager in a finance field and I’m asked to print things for my director to prep for meetings from time to time. Sometimes, she’s working on things and I’m not. Plus she’s my boss and walking 20 feet to the printer is not a big ask.

          You have an extremely aggressive and biased take on this issue. The role of an admin is literally to simplify the lives of the people at the top, and that often includes changing communication styles or (gasp!) printing documents for them while they focus on higher priority duties. Clearly, that was not the right role for you, and it’s great that you moved on to something else.

          1. Antilles*

            The role of an admin is literally to simplify the lives of the people at the top
            Honestly, this is effectively the role of pretty much *every* employee – even in management.
            Why does the CEO employ a Director of Sales? Because she has an entire company to run and can’t do that effectively if she has to deal with managing the day-to-day needs of the sales department. The Director of Sales has his role exist to simplify the life of the CEO.
            Further down the chain, why does the Director of Sales employ mid-level managers? Because he can’t personally manage the every sales rep at once, so he hires mid-level staff. Those managers exist to simplify the life of the Director.

          2. Kettles*

            I was treated with more respect in every role before and since, including other admin roles. The point – which you, and many other commenters in senior and very important roles seem to be missing – is that she had a printer next to her desk and it would have been easier for her to hit ‘print’ than to make a phone call. What’s also fascinating is that when this exact same issue was brought up in another thread, a lot of y’all said it was completely ridiculous not to print your own documents because that would be quicker.

      2. Kettles*

        Also; not everyone is the same. People have varying tolerances for behaviour and aptitudes for different kinds of work. A bad admin assistant could be an incredible accountant and vice versa. I would find this irritating to the point of looking elsewhere; you clearly wouldn’t. Neither of us are *wrong*; just different.

    5. Rabbit*

      The idea that the VP must be “choosing to disrespect” OP seems a bit hyperbolic, and playing into OP’s over-the-top reaction. I mean maybe they are sitting their thinking “Aha! Another brilliant way for me to grind the lowly peons beneath my heel and reminding them how much more special I am! Now, when should I deliberately get their name wrong just to rub it in….”

      I mean I think the VP is probably thoughtless, and might well be rude, but hey might just not be paying attention. Or maybe their work really is a higher priority than everyone else’s.

      Or maybe they would have been happy to change but OP’s deliberate delays are now giving the impression that they are slow or don’t know how to prioritise…

    6. Shan*

      This seems extremely personal to you, and I think it’s causing you to have a very strong opinion that maybe doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation.

      If a person feels someone leaving papers on their chair (which I do, btw – not only is it the norm in my office, I deliver things to around 40 people and quite frankly I’m not going to make note of each person’s personal preference) warrants leaving that job… well, I don’t think admin work is for them.

    7. Alma*

      Lol, you sound like the admins where I work. My class of workers were told we have to alphabetize, label with identical location, and staple our own papers before we turn them in to the admins. So now I’m paid around 400$ dollars a year to sort papers, that could cost 100$ to have an admin do it. Also I don’t spend that four hours doing the work that require my two university degrees to do. I do it and smile, but sometimes I wonder….

  20. Anónima