my employee gives me too many status updates, staff asked me to fudge their sick leave, and more

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

1. My employee gives me constant unnecessary status updates

One of my employees tells me about everything she’s working on. For example, she is planning a community-wide event and she spent a day making phone calls to community partners. After each call, she came and gave me a status update. It’s as if she wants me to micromanage her. That is not my management style and I don’t do that for any of my eight other employees. To boot, her job title elevates her slightly above everyone else and I have heard whispers among staff about this and other behaviors. I have to be honest — I really don’t care about every step of the process. I want her to let me know when she needs help and let me know what’s needed when the event is completely planned. She’s also very chatty so her telling me about something she worked on while I was at lunch turns into an unnecessary 10-minute conversation every time.

Have you told her directly that you don’t want these updates? If not, that’s step one: “Rather than giving me updates after each call, let’s talk at our check-on on Tuesday about any significant developments that came from them.” But since it’s already a pretty big pattern, you probably need a bigger-picture conversation too: “I trust you to manage your projects on your own and don’t need — or want! — such frequent updates. You of course can come to me if you’re stuck, but otherwise let’s plan to save up updates for our weekly check-ins.” You could add, “And even then, ideally we’d focus on progress toward the goals we’ve set and any troubleshooting — I don’t need to be involved in details like X or Y unless you’ve run into something where you specifically want my involvement.”

This is a short answer, but there are more detailed ones about how to implement this here and here.

2. Two resigning employees asked me to fudge their sick leave

I have two generally very good part-time employees with coverage-based, irregular schedules who who are leaving their jobs this summer. Brienne has resigned, and Tyrion is leaving for the summer and may or not stay on in the fall. Our company provides sick leave for part-time employees that is not paid out when they leave. Part-time employees do not receive vacation or personal time.

Brienne approached me soon after giving notice and asked if there were any way I could “schedule” her for extra shifts that she could “call out” for to use up her accrued sick time. I told her that I wouldn’t be able to do that, as we offer a generous amount of sick time as a safety net for when it’s needed.

Tyrion emailed me today to let me know his summer plans. He informed me that since he’s not sure he’ll stay on, he wants to use his sick time before he leaves for good in the way that would have the least impact on coverage.

I don’t feel that I could ethically say yes to either request. The thing that gives me pause is that Tyrion was actually out sick for several weeks in the fall, but did not submit sick time for this absence. I asked him twice whether he wanted to use his sick leave during the period he was absent, but he never responded or submitted a request, so I let it go. I was planning to respond to Tyrion that, again, that wasn’t the purpose of sick time, but I would ask HR whether it would be possible to apply his sick time retroactively.

Am I off-base in my reaction to these requests? Or am I being too inflexible with good employees? I understand why they would want to be compensated for their unused sick time, but I’m honestly feeling kind of affronted and don’t want to respond too emotionally.

No, you’re not off-base. Brienne is asking you to schedule her for extra shifts that she has no intention of working so she can get sick pay, and Tyrion is openly telling you that he plans to use sick time when he’s not actually sick. Sick time is different from vacation time in that it’s intended as a safety net for times when you’re actually sick; that’s why it doesn’t typically get paid out when people leave.

Asking if Tyrion’s sick time can be retroactively applied to those weeks last fall is a good idea, but beyond that you’re on very solid ground in explaining that no, this isn’t what sick leave is intended for, and you can’t in good faith help them abuse your company’s system.

3. Will I be at a disadvantage applying to jobs from Alaska?

I’m a senior in college who will be graduating in about five weeks. I have several decent irons in the fire (where I’m about to have a final round interview or am waiting on a decision), but in case those don’t pan out, I may graduate without a job. Financially, I would be okay because I’m lucky enough to have supportive parents who would let me move back home, but the problem is that my hometown is in Alaska. I am applying for policy jobs, most of which are in D.C., and I’m worried that it will be exponentially harder to get an entry-level job if I’m applying from Alaska rather than from Philadelphia because Alaska and D.C. are on the literal opposite ends of the country. Is there anything I can do to mitigate that risk? Should I shell out money for a one- or two-month sublet to stay in Philadelphia so I can keep hunting for jobs? What do you think would be the best move here?

You’re right that it may indeed be harder to job hunt from Alaska. A lot of employers prefer local candidates (because they’re easier to interview on short notice, because they won’t have to pay travel expenses, because they won’t need to worry about the person adjusting to a new area, and because local candidates are just easier), and Alaska is very non-local to D.C. But some of this depends on your field and the jobs you’re applying for. If you’re in a very high-demand field with high-demand skills, it might not matter so much. But if you’re applying for jobs that require less specialized skills and that have a lot of competition, employers aren’t going to have a lot of incentive to consider you unless you’re a really extraordinary candidate.

That said, I’m hesitant to tell you to pay for a one- or two-month sublet because that might not be enough time … but it would probably help at least somewhat.

4. Company president owes $50 for a fantasy football league and hasn’t paid

My husband is the commissioner of a fantasy football league for a group of 12 top-level executives at his company. In the group there are multiple vice presidents and the president himself. My husband is not a top-level executive. He’s a mid-level employee, but is well liked and has networked himself into the league.

The league costs $50 to participate in. Last year, the president never paid him! (Keep in mind this is the president of a multi-billion dollar company, so his pay is certainly generous.) My husband has sent several emails to him requesting payment, but never received a response and hasn’t brought it up in person. He says every time he runs into the president at work, he forgets to bring it up. We’re still a few months out from next season but he’s wondering … how should he bring this up again? Should he make a joke of it at their next annual draft? Or is this something he should just write off as a laughable anomaly?

The president probably isn’t intentionally withholding the money; he probably means to get back to your husband but then forgets. But really, after the second email, he should have made a point of dealing with it.

In any case, your husband doesn’t need to write this off (yet). I wouldn’t keep emailing since clearly that’s not working, but the next time he runs into him, he can say, “Hey, can I get that 50 bucks from you for last year’s fantasy football season? I’m trying to close all that out and that’s the last remaining money due.” Or, if there’s any kind of gathering at the start of the next season, he can bring it up then — “I’ve still got to get last season’s $50 from you — can you give me that along with this season’s fee?” (And it might be useful to ask someone more senior than him to help collect this time.)

5. My boss plays loud music late at night in our on-site housing

I live on-site at my work. There are about seven of us living on-site, including the director of the branch. We’re all living in quite close quarters and lately the director has been having parties on nights when he isn’t in the next day. This normally wouldn’t be a problem but he has been playing music loudly enough that I can hear it in my room. That’s not really the problem, though. I’m not going to police people having parties or even playing music loudly. I have pretty sensitive hearing; I’d probably hear it anyway. The problem is that it continues until well past midnight and I have work in the morning.

I’ve already asked him politely during the day to maybe not play loud music after 11, but he basically said (in a fairly jokey tone) that he was the one in charge and wasn’t going to stop. What’s my next step? It’s half past midnight and I’d like to sleep.

Your boss is a huge ass, unless he didn’t understand that you were serious (but I’m not sure how he could have misunderstood that). “I’m in charge so I’m not going to stop disrupting your home and your sleep” is a pretty outrageous thing to say.

I’d try addressing it again more seriously. Say something like, “I’m really sorry to ask it, but your music is keeping me up on nights when I have work the next morning. Would you be willing to keep to down after 11?”

If he again refuses, is there someone who manages the space who could deal with this on your behalf? If not, you might be stuck with solutions like earplugs, unfortunately. But I’d also take this as a huge red flag about the person you’re working for.

{ 325 comments… read them below }

  1. Kimmybear*

    #5 – Are you only one bothered by the late night music? If one more conversation with the director doesn’t address it, will other people join you in the request?

    1. OP5*

      I’m OP5 and no, I am not the only one bothered. I live the closest to the director, but the others are also annoyed by it. I think they have also spoken to him about it so I’m not sure if all of us together will do anything. He’s a pretty stubborn guy.

      1. Curious*

        I don’t want to pry but I was kind of intrigued about a job with onsite housing–are you able to say broadly what field you are in?

        1. Grace*

          OP mentioned downthread that it’s a small farm, I think with an educational bent. Farms mean getting up pretty damn early, so the fact that they offer on-site housing in a rural area is probably a real benefit, rather than having to drive half an hour to get there at stupid o’clock in the morning.

          1. Stormfeather*

            Or it would be a real benefit if the boss weren’t keeping people up past midnight. The whole farm aspect makes that even worse!

          2. JKP*

            I was going to say that there are usually city ordinances about noise after a certain hour where you could get the police involved like you would if it was a neighbor who you didn’t work with who refused your requests for quiet after 11. But I don’t know if that applies on a farm.

              1. JKP*

                Well, if multiple people are complaining, the boss won’t necessarily know who complained.

      2. Jaid*

        Can you move the caravan? And OP5, it sounds like your director is a glassbowl. My sympathies.

      3. Jennifer Juniper*

        How about a white noise machine or a fan? The noise from that could drown out the music.

        1. Parenthetically*

          I sleep with a fan every night and have since childhood. It helps with loudish music, but not with bass, unfortunately, which is more of a physical sensation than a “noise.”

          1. OP5*

            it’s cold enough in the caravan without adding a fan. I’ll look into white noise machine but I’ve tried those before and I don’t sleep all that well with them.

            1. Mari*

              The LectroFan Sound Therapy Machine ($49.99 on BB&B) and Howard Leight Low Pressure Disposable Foam Earplugs ($16 for 200 on Amazon) are how I get a good night’s sleep in bed with a serious snorer. Low pressure earplugs are clutch because the regular ones hurt my ears with frequent use.

      4. Observer*

        Well, you might want to address this to someone who does have the authority to make this stop. Going as a group gives you some safety, not just legally, but practically, as it’s going to be harder for him to retaliate if HR or his boos tell him that it wasn’t OP, (that troublemaker!) or Joe (I always KNEW he was a whiner!), but everyone.

        1. OP5*

          there kind of isn’t anyone above him. There is an owner but like he is hardly ever here – he runs our sister farm and the director runs this one. I don’t even have his email

          1. Observer*

            Well, the owner certainly has the authority to make it stop. And since you do have access to internet, you have access to the tools you need to find his contact information.

            This stuff NEEDS to stop. You boss is a major class jerk and is not going to change unless forced to.

            The key thing to focus on when you talk to the boss is that this is affecting your ability to actually do the work effectively and safely which could affect the animals, visitors and the farm itself.

      5. Bunny Girl*

        Do you guys live close enough to others outside your group that your neighbors could be bothered with it? An anonymous noise complaint to the police could work. Then everyone can just play dumb and blame it on others outside your employment circle.

      6. Samwise*

        Call the cops, baby!
        Ok, that’s the last resort. But use it if nothing else helps.

    2. TootsNYC*

      I just think it’s funny that he says, “I’m the boss, and I’ll do what I want,” which apparently means “making my employees ineffective at their jobs.”

      That might be one of the things to say: “I’m asking because I’m trying to benefit my employers, so I’ll be more effective in the morning.”

      And you know, so you’re safe.

      if you think you won’t immediately get fired, I wonder what would happen if you just didn’t get there in time, or did sloppy or bad work on those days–“Hey, man, I’m exhausted because I couldn’t sleep because of your party. If you didn’t make noise, I wouldn’t leave stuff for you to clean up after me.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        and what if you were all of you standing at his door at 12:30 am, telling him and his guests that the 5 of you need to sleep because you have work in the morning, and this is a work sleeping facility, not your private homes, and so you are all asking him and his guests to keep it down.

        I bet his guests would be ready to leave.

  2. Jenn*

    #5) Alison’s advice might need to be modified for different work cultures. If you’re in the National Park Service, or potentially anywhere else with a strong in-group culture I would strongly recommend sucking it up and getting a white noise machine. I loved working for the parks for a number of other reasons, but this sort of stuff was rampant and complaining would be a good way to be managed out for “cultural fit” the next time your term or seasonal appointment was up.

    1. Mookie*

      “Cultural fit” sure does excuse a lot of management abuse, though. The boss knows enough not to throw a party when he’s got work the next day. I wonder whether the other on-site employees party with him, or if he’s bringing in outsiders. Close living quarters + strangers (boss’s buddies) doesn’t necessarily sound like a healthy or safe environment. Wind-down time that doesn’t involve music is something people on-site sort of are entitled, at least ethically, to have on a pretty regular basis, even though, as you say, that doesn’t always happen. It does depend on how remote the site is from its nearest large town; I could see parties being kept on-site if the drive home from the nearest bar is too long, but I’ve also lived on-site for short-term work smack dab in the middle of some town none of us live in, and we were expected to maintain a sleepy sort of atmosphere when the workday was done and go off-site for loud socializing.

      1. OP5*

        We are fairly remote – it’s a small farm of the sort you’d take kids to to learn about animals and nature etc. we’re less than a thirty minute walk from the nearest pub and about the same drive time from the main city. Until the director started playing the music we also had this expectation of no music after i think ten. I know people have gotten in trouble before for playing music about half as loudly and half as long.

        Most of the time the parties are only two of them – the director and his friend (who lives onsite, but only recently and were he not a friend of the director would’ve been fired within two days but that’s another issue. a whole lot of issues actually.)

        1. EPLawyer*

          So the music is really a symptom of this guy’s management style. If he is covering for his friend at work, he is not going to see reason about the music. The answer you got is the one he is sticking with. He’s the boss he gets to do whatever he wants.

          Your only solution, ear plugs or white noise machine until you can get out. Your boss sucks and is not going to change.

        2. Watry*

          Sounds like the kids could be learning about the evil bees the place is full of. Unless there’s someone over boss’s head you might be out of luck, and even if there is he may know it was you who said something.

          1. JSPA*

            Is it the sort of organization that has a board? Loud music may not be something that normally gets escalated to the board but having an employee buddy of the boss protected from firing, and the two of them making life unpleasant for others might rise to the level of at least an unofficial mention to a board member?

            1. OP5*

              nope no board. there is an owner but he is not reachable to the likes of me – i don’t even have his email. the director is the top essentially

        3. Ren*

          OP, it sounds like your boss isn’t the type to listen to reason. So it might be time to get unreasonable.
          When my mom was in college, the girls in the dorm room next to hers liked to stay up half the night partying. They didn’t have early morning classes, and no amount of explaining got through to them. The RA didn’t care. Mom was going a little nuts from lack of sleep when her roommate finally came up with a solution.
          The next morning, she had borrowed a couple extra speakers and a subwoofer, and pointed them right up against the wall. Then, she dropped the needle on her record player at precisely 8:01, a minute after university quiet hours ended.
          Bagpipes played Scotland the Brave so loudly, people could hear it in the next building over.
          Of course, the girls came out of their room shrieking, and lots of other folks boiled out of their rooms complaining. The roommate turned off the music and informed them that it was after quiet hours and she was allowed to be as noisy as she pleased. And if they ever kept people up with their late night noise again, this would be their wake-up call the following morning.
          They got the hint.
          Was this a mature and professional response to the situation? No. But you’re not dealing with a mature professional. Your boss sounds like a frat boy (in the worst sense) and you might need to treat him like one.
          Taking it that far is probably not the best idea. But something more subtle might still do the trick. Maybe you and your coworkers can come up with things that require his attention early in the morning when he’s been partying the night before.
          “Sorry, sir, but this cow is acting strangely. Can you come make sure she isn’t sick?”
          “Sir, we can’t find the pitchfork, and no one knows who had it last.”
          “Sir, so-and-so needs help with the first aid kit. Yes, it’s just a little scratch, but you wouldn’t want it to get infected, would you?”
          And so on and so forth, every morning that he’s kept you up the night before. If you can’t get enough sleep, neither should he. It’s petty, but it might just work.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      Do you have a union? Because if you do, this kind of thing seems like something they should handle.

    3. OP5*

      yeah we kind of do have an in group culture, except that the in group is just the director and his friend. who just arrived like a couple months ago. If he were not the director’s friend, he would’ve been fired so many times.

      Everyone else onsite is bothered by it.

      1. CM*

        Do you all have standing to knock on his door and ask him to turn off the music? If you could get together and agree that you’d take turns doing that, it could work — it might at least annoy him enough to stop.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Or stand there all of you at once.

          Or, all of you write a letter in the same week to the owner, whose name you know and whose snail-mail address you could certainly find out. Because for one thing, you’re living at it.

      2. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        OP5, the music is the tip of the iceberg. Your boss (1) hired a friend who (2) should be fired and (3) you boss is protecting while (4) showing no respect for other employees. He is violating 4 of AAM’s rules for determining if your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change.

        What to do? (1) Get the group to speak up. (2) Buy earplugs as #1 may not work because your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change. Which is why (3) start job-hunting now.

        1. a good mouse*

          Definitely encourage ear plugs. They’ve made such a positive change in my life. I find if I’m using my phone as an alarm on my nightstand or bed next to me, it still comes through. It’s just the more distant and bass sounds that get blocked.

        2. OP5*

          oh for sure he’s a jerk boss. i’d have left ages ago if i reported directly to him. in the autumn we lost like twelve staff members in two weeks because of the director.

          the main problem with job hunting for me is that i do not interview well. I’m autistic and I just get too stressed during interviews to sit still and maintain eye contact AND answer questions. I only got this job via an internship.

          1. e271828*

            Do you have to sleep in the provided housing or could you camp elsewhere on the property (tent) as long as you showed up for work on time? Admittedly you’d need access to a latrine/bathroom and water, but is physically moving away possible?

            1. TootsNYC*

              heck, if you could sleep in a tent somewhere, you could use you own latrine and shower!

          2. TootsNYC*

            You don’t report to him. Who do you report to? You can contact that person and say, “please help me!” Even if you have to write a letter.

      3. Samwise*

        Ok, so ignore my advice above to call the police.

        Get together with the other coworkers who don’t like the late parties. When the noise is too loud after midnight, all of you go in a group and ask him to turn it down. Wait as a group until he turns it down. Don’t yell or threaten, just keep repeating, we need you to turn it down because we have to work in the morning.

        Now I would also call him realllllly early after one of his parties with a bunch of work questions. Even better if everyone else does this too. But that may be too juvenile lol.

        BTW, if you have the owners name, you can find out their contact info. Heck, you have the name of the farm, right? You can get the owners name, then. Contact the city or county and ask how you can find out.

    4. Observer*

      Pft. I’m not one to tell anyone to risk their job, but “suck it up” is pretty dismissive of a real and significant problem. And, to be honest, what the OP describes is not likely to really deal with the problem.

      1. Jenn*

        It was not meant to be dismissive, just to acknowledge that what is realistic can be very different in some of the types of environments where you are practically living with your boss. In the parks, which is where I have experienced this sort of thing, you have a combination of a strong outdoor rock jock culture (climb hard, party hard, “cool kids”), extremely low job security, shared housing, and a very midwest-nice, culturally descended from the military communication and management style. Paired with an extremely, extremely satisfying, meaningful, worthwhile, and loved by the people who are doing it work this can create a pretty weird relationship with one’s job. In that sort of environment, complaining about your boss’s parties (yes, I’ve been there, and had to make those choices) results in the person who complained quietly losing their job down the line. It’s not functional, it’s not how it should be, but many things about the work world are frankly batshit (wow, private sector (salaried) job hours can be brutal… I’d way rather deal with my supervisor’s music), and different work cultures and types of job environments think different things are nuts.

        With a residential situation where the boss is partying late the chance seemed high enough that this might be the situation that I felt I should chime in with my experience.

        Based on their responsesOP’s situation sounds like it may not be a close match for mine, however- it sounds like they have two people who are the problem, not the entire institutional culture. Depending on the rest of the organizational norms, there may be a constructive way to raise the issue (perhaps with OP’s direct manager, and/or as a group). Not being kept up all night by someone’s music should be a pretty reasonable expectation for shared employee housing, especially as it sounds like there used to be a noise curfew.

  3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    #2, I don’t intend to be overdramatic, but they’re both asking you to assist in committing fraud. It probably seems innocuous to them because they’re thinking of sick leave as interchangeable with PTO or vacation leave, but as you noted, your company’s policies are different for sick leave (as they are for many employers). Your instincts are bang on, here.

    1. valentine*

      they’re both asking you to assist in committing fraud
      If they hadn’t, I might’ve told them to use it for any pending annual visits (unless it can’t be used that way). But that would now feel like conspiring.

    2. birdhead*

      I mean, they probably think of it as interchangeable with PTO or vacation because *they don’t get any PTO or vacation* so it’s their only paid time off available. They obviously shouldn’t have tried to conspire with their manager about it but I personally couldn’t blame them for pulling a sickie every now and then.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yeah – I wouldn’t be at all surprised if “calling in sick” was a standard approach when one of the part time employees wanted a guaranteed day off, and if used in moderation I really wouldn’t blame them for it. And I wouldn’t blame them if they took some extra “sick days” while finishing up the job.

        However, it sounds like they went too far in this line of thought. Asking their manager to schedule extra shifts to deliberately call in sick for is too much.

        1. JSPA*

          Also important to not assume that if one or both of them happen to call in sick, that that means they are going around you and carrying out their plan anyway. People with sketchy ideas about the use of sick time can still get legitimately sick. Along those same lines, I’d guard against scheduling them less just because there’s a risk that they’ll call out sick.

          1. LCL*

            Yes, the worst abusers of sick time eventually run out of leave, when they really need it. I’m defining abusers as those who I know used their sick days to go to pro sports games, parties, and other optional fun things.

          2. Mediamaven*

            Well when you try to do something dishonest that’s when trust erodes. So, I’d say OP can assume whatever she wants. That’s the downfall of trying to lie.

            1. JSPA*

              let’s leave open the possibility that some third party (“Stan/a in the mailroom,” say–or even the someone high in the company) suggested this to them & told them that it was normal, and they didn’t question it. (As others have posted, it is not unheard of to do this as policy, even though it is rare.)

              Also, it would be good to check if they were misinformed by someone (when they signed on, when the policy was instituted, whatever) or if someone has done this before, or if someone who wanted to mess with them or mess with you set them up to ask.

              By Occam’s razor it seems so unlikely that both of these people spontaneously came up with the idea, knew it was (on any level) fraud, yet both straight out asked you to do it.

              Could be they did it together. Could be there’s bad information out there, and they’re drinking from a poisoned well. Could be they or you are being set up. I’d want to get to the root of the problem before presuming a spontaneous, fully-formed intent to defraud, in both of them.

      2. Pommette!*

        I couldn’t blame anyone who gets paid sick leave for taking the day off as needed to maintain their health (whether they use the time off to schedule routine preventive healthcare or to take a break when they are exhausted and need it). But that’s not what these people are doing.

        It’s really, really common for people working part time (or full time) not to get any paid sick leave, and to be made to jump through ridiculous hoops to use even the unpaid sick leave we ought to have access to. Which sucks and makes being sick so much worse. Generous sick leave helps offset the financial hardship that prolonged or recurring illness would cause (and to limit contagion/protect employees by encouraging sick people to stay home). Conceptually, it’s more like insurance than like vacation: you are pooling risks in order to provided greater security to all, on the assumption that most will not need to avail themselves of extensive sick leave. Companies that have generous sick leave policies are doing the right thing, but they are doing it on the assumption that employees will be honest and only use the time off as intended.

        (Not providing benefits like vacation to part-time workers is messed up and exacerbates other social inequalities. But that’s a separate issue.)

        1. Michaela Westen*

          If they had regular PTO/vacation time, they wouldn’t need to use sick time for days off. Of *course* when they need a day off and sick time is the only paid leave, they call in sick!
          Just in case that’s not clear to anyone.

          1. Wake up !*

            Yeah, seriously. “Generous” sick time is not really generous if the same employees never get a vacation. Literally, never.

          2. Nuss*

            I think this is less about not having vacation time and more about using up all perceived benefits, sort of like the people who order more food than they want so that they use every penny of their meal allowance.
            The problem I have with this situation is that paid sick time for part-time workers isn’t required of employers (if this is the US) and I can see a company pulling that benefit if they think it’s being used in this way.

        2. One of the Sarahs*

          What’s the justification for not paying part timers? I’m assuming that when they’re in work, they have exactly the same responsibilities and duties as full timers, so not getting the same benefits is horrible – especially as most people who are part time are doing it because they have other things going on, like childcare, elder care, studying, or another job, so it’s not like they just sit back and do nothing when they’re not in work, and are likely to be under more pressure than full timers.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            The justification is, our system is based on paying workers as little as possible so owners and high-level managers can keep more for themselves, and they’ve been able to get away with this. :(

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Yes it is! America pretends it’s not like this, but it is. It’s only in the last few years I’ve realized, and I’m in my 50’s.
                It explains everything, doesn’t it?

      3. Emily K*

        Yeah, I think both things are worth acknowledging – they are definitely asking to commit fraud, but the fact that they’ve both done it so plainly suggests they don’t realize that, and it could very well be because they don’t get real PTO. When they hear colleagues or people who work elsewhere talking about PTO payout or using up their time before they leave, in their minds they might have come to the conclusion that not allowing their sick leave to pay out is just another difference between full-time employees and part-timers, not a difference between sick leave and vacation leave: their PTO is only sick instead of sick + vacation like full-timers, and unlike full-timers, their PTO doesn’t pay out.

        So I do think it would be worthwhile for the manager to make sure they understand the real reasoning since it may come up in future jobs again. That sick leave is not meant to be exhausted every year by each employee, which is why it doesn’t get paid out. I used to think of the difference as sick leave being more like “absence forgiveness” – the way some banks or insurance companies will waive a certain number of overdraft fees or premium increases due to an accidents, but you have to incur the overdraft/premium increase in order to have it forgiven. You can’t just ask your insurance company to cut you a check for $2k without raising your premiums, or ask your bank to deposit $175 in your account, on the grounds that you are entitled to accident forgiveness for up to $2k in claims or 5 $35 overdraft fees a year and you haven’t used yours up this year.

        It’s the same thing with sick leave – it’s there for when you need it, not an entitlement the company expects everyone to exhaust every year. And it’s maybe even worth pointing out that treating sick leave this way allows the company to be more generous with sick leave – if they knew they would have to pay out every hour they of sick leave they granted in a year to every employee, they would have to grant less. If they know that only 75% of total sick leave will be cashed in a year, they can give 33% more leave, which gives a better safety net for the people who end up needing more than average due to a major illness or injury.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Exactly! I don’t think they’re being shady or intending to do something inappropriate. I think they’re conflating their sick leave with other compensated leave, and because they’re not given access to those other leaves, they’re analogizing to their situation.

          And it’s true that it’s crappy not to provide vacation/PTO to part-time employees (although it’s common practice). I feel for both employees—they’re in an unenviable spot.

        2. TootsNYC*

          the only thing is, America is full of people who by gum don’t want anybody getting more freebies than THEY get, even if there is some bleeding-heart reason. So while it’s generous, there are people who will be upset because it isn’t equal.

    3. JJ Bittenbinder*

      Yeah, I kind of wondered if they were young/new to the world of work and don’t know how this works and that what they’re doing is wrong. In the end, though, that doesn’t matter. It’s still fraud.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      I have worked for places that actually scheduled staff for work times just so they could call in sick and get the benefit. This is at the end of the year when the clock was about to reset on the hours – it was use it or lose it and bosses set it up so you could use it if you had not.

      So the 2 part time staff may just be referring to practices they have seen in the past.

      It also seems short sighted on the employer side not to pay out in some way as anyone who has not used their sick leave is just going to call out in the week or month the hours are about to expire and that will inconvenience the employer and other staff.

      1. Emily K*

        This might be an industry/cultural thing. I’ve never worked in any office where sick leave paid out, and I’ve never seen people take more sick leave in December or just before resigning. But, we also get real vacation – maybe people in a professional occupation who get paid vacation feel less like they have to maximize their use of sick leave.

        (In fact, my company has a catastrophic leave sharing program, where you can donate your unused leave to a bank for employees dealing with major family/illness issues that have exhausted all of their own sick and vacation leave. But we can only donate our unused vacation hours, not our unused sick hours. The sick hours essentially have no value other than to forgive absences for the person they’re assigned to. Most of us have huge banks of unused sick leave built up – after working here 7 years I have over 300 hours of unused sick leave banked – and if the company had to actually pay out all that leave because we donated it to a colleague who needed it, they’d be on the hook for a LOT more paid leave than they budgeted for, because it’s assumed that almost nobody is going to use all their sick leave.)

      2. Antilles*

        In my experience, not paying out sick leave for departing employees is a *very* common policy. Even among employers who pay out vacation and are otherwise good, I think the norm is that your sick leave vanishes into thin air when you leave.
        If you have a separate bucket of sick leave (rather than generic “PTO”), it’s usually explicitly stated that sick leave is not a replacement for vacation and cannot be used as just free vacation days. Remember, the intent isn’t that everybody burns through X days of sick leave every year, the intent is to be a backup *if* you get sick. So paying it out when you leave isn’t really in line with the intent of the policy…and if you coincidentally got sick every time you were about to over-cap your maximum allowable hours, that would raise some eyebrows.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Same. I’ve definitely worked places where people max out their PTO/vacation as they leave, but I’ve never worked at a job that paid out or allowed people to exhaust their sick leave by scheduling “zombie” shifts as they left.

          That said, I realize I’m in a weird State—I always accrued some form of PTO/vacation when I was an hourly, minimum-wage earning, non-exempt, part-time employee.

      3. LW 2*

        Wow, it’s really interesting to know of a place that does work that way. Thanks for sharing!

        1. Ducks and covers*

          I worked somewhere that calling out a few times before you left to use some of your sick time was common. It otherwise wasn’t paid out and we accrued a lot of it. The way it was handled, we would check w/ the boss to see how short staffed it would make him/her. It was almost a “code.” We’d call and say I’m not feeling up to coming in today but if that is going totally screw over the shift, let me know and I can make it in. They’d either say, nope, you’re good or yeah, please come in. Also “not feeling up to coming in” isn’t really a lie!

      4. wittyrepartee*

        Oh wow. They should really let the sick time roll over though. I was new this year and didn’t have the sick time to stay out long enough to recover from the flu. I look forward to having banked enough sick time that I’m not worried about it.

  4. Moscow, Not Russia*

    #3: Same problem! I went to college in DC and had to move back home to Idaho, while I’d hoped to remain in DC. The number of organizations I heard from dropped precipitously.

    Not sure what kind of policy you’re looking to get into, but one idea if it’s advocacy-oriented and you have to move home is applying for field positions on a political campaign! This is what I successfully did eventually. Campaigns are hiring now for 2020, and it’s not a big deal to be applying remotely for jobs in Nevada, Iowa, etc. Outside of the presidential race, House campaigns everywhere are also hiring and are much more open to hiring remotely too. Campaigns also give you fantastic networking options to get back to DC after the race is over. You’re really graduating at the perfect time!

    1. GE*

      Yes, get on a campaign!!! That is such a good suggestion.

      I grew up outside DC, went to undergrad in DC, and now work here in policy. Unfortunately it’s become a huge thing for recent college grads in DC to work in unpaid or minimally paid (think $1000/month stipend) internships for quite a while after graduating, and it can take a really long time before you snag that full-time policy-related job. The best advice would be to move to DC semi-permanently for at least the summer (maybe in a cheap room in a group house), get a service industry job at a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop, and hustle for some kind of paid job in your field for the summer. Being in DC will allow you to network and get a better sense of your options. It sucks, and the move to interns with undergrad (and graduate!) degrees is shady and exploitative, but unfortunately it’s more/less the entry level policy landscape right now.

      But Moscow is right—campaigns are a GREAT option right now, and if it interests you at all, it’s the perfect time in the cycle and in your career path to join one!

        1. TootsNYC*

          When I set up a Google Voice number, I got to pick an area code from the city I wanted.

      1. Genny*

        100% agreed with this. Entry-level policy jobs in DC are highly competitive and non-local candidates are especially disadvantaged considering all the highly ranked schools in the area. It took me seven months to land a policy adjacent job after graduating with my BA and I was living in the Philadelphia area during that time. I didn’t move because I was living with family, but if you’re going to be paying rent whether you’re in DC or Philly, just move to DC. Find cheap housing wherever you can in the DC, Maryland, Virginia region and get whatever job you can while you search for job in your field. Campaigns, program assistant, staff assistant, administrative assistant – whatever it takes to get your foot in the door.*

        *Do be careful though, not all lower tier jobs are “foot in the door” positions and a lot of unscrupulous recruiters/hiring managers will mislead new grads about the true potential of a job. This is particularly a problem with government contracting companies who intimate that the position will lead to federal direct hire position or that it will turn into a policy position.

    2. jkl*

      #3: If you have very reliable friends in Philadelphia or DC who check their mail daily and will let you know anything, just ask to use their mailing address as the return on your resume and letters. All job-app communication I’ve done in the last 5 years has been strictly email regardless, but, you’re right to suspect that the first-level HR who is receiving your materials are simply culling dealbreaker resumes before they pass them on to the hiring team. If you get point-blank asked where you live, don’t lie, but you won’t. When it gets to in-person interview stage, if they say, “can you swing by tomorrow?” you can let them know that you’re visiting your parents in Alaska on a scheduled trip and would you like to do a video call, or, you’ll be back in town on X date. Normal places will work with that.

      Obviously don’t ask for relo if you do this, and, flying is expensive. But the tactic is there if you want to weigh your options as opposed to finding a short term lease in Philadelphia.

    3. Frustrated.*

      Also, look at State and local government agencies for jobs in Alaska if you get desperate. They need policy experts too! And it would help you build your skills to make you more marketable in DC. Best of luck!

      1. AKchic*

        Alaska is um… terrible politically right now. We used to joke that a government job was the job of last resort, and right now, it is literally being run like 45-lite. As a life-long Alaskan who has worked in government previously, I would not recommend working at a state level, and really, with the fiscal woes, I wouldn’t even recommend a city job. If she can find a decent politician with an opening, go for it, but the majority will be volunteer positions. I do recommend it though. Building the resume and credibility with local politicians is a great thing. In Alaska, right now, it’s not what you know, it’s *who* you know. To some extent, it’s always been that way.

        1. Light37*

          Fellow Alaskan agrees. The state did a hack and slash on benefits a while back, and it’s only gotten worse over time.

    4. Technology policy expert*

      I once landed an interview for a DC-based senior congressional staff position advising on technology policy. At the time, I was living in Silicon Valley and the position was *with my own representative*. I had a DC phone number, and the chief of staff presumably offered me the interview on that basis. As soon as the chief of staff found out I was not in DC, she rescinded the interview — even though I fully intended to pay for the entirety of the trip myself (and told her as much).

      Again, this was with my *own representative,* who would probably recognize my name as a local political activist. And I was interviewing for a technology related position while based in the most important technology corridor in the country. And the job required a very hard-to-find skill set.

      1. Technology policy expert*

        My laptop battery gave out just as I was going to type a bit more, which I hope would be intuitive from the above story — but for the sake of completeness:

        1. DC policy jobs are very DC-centric. You need to be in DC (not Philadelphia, not Alaska). By “DC” I mean the metro area — no one is going to care if you’re in Chevy Chase or Alexandria. I’ve kept my 202 cell number since moving away. Here in California no one cares what your area code is, but I have found that DC people still are more likely to answer a 202 number. (There are some exceptions, like law firms that recruit nationwide or some defense contractors, but this isn’t where you are.)

        2. DC jobs are also very networking-oriented. You need to be in DC to network, go to think tank events, etc. This leads to jobs.

        3. In general, the advice about campaigns is good if you want to work on the Hill. If you’re looking more to thinks like think tanks or K-Street, it’s less relevant (particularly think tanks). Target campaigns for candidates that (1) you like, (2) are in a geography that you have some ties to, and (3) aren’t shoo-ins for re-election (those people have staff), but (4) are still more likely than not to win. Also, try to get on press or policy. Doing advance work or field is less directly relevant to moving to DC. I’m not saying those areas won’t help, but they are a little more likely to yield jobs in future political campaigns than on the Hill. (And campaigns might be your cup of tea, as opposed to the Hill.)

        4. Concurrently, apply for staff assistant (i.e., reception) or LC jobs that get advertised on places like the Manatos List, and contact representatives and senators from Alaska, Pennsylvania, and any other states where you have ties. Don’t limit yourself to those states, but state ties can help. Obviously Alaska is tougher if you’re on the Dem side.

        1. Technology policy expert*

          One other thing I forget. Join the Alaska and Pennsylvania state societies in DC, now. They will be very helpful for networking.

          My guess is this is particularly true of the Alaska State Society. The smaller state societies may not have quite as many lavish events (seriously, chocolate fondue fountains at the California State Society Aaaaashcars night!) but their members definitely look out for each other and for new transplants from their state.

  5. Recent-Ish Grad*

    Hi OP#3, recent college grad here who was in a VERY similar boat (lived very far away from where I wanted to work) last year when I graduated. I did what you’re thinking of doing: I moved to a large city and did a 3 month sublet for the summer while I tried to hunt for jobs—it worked, and I got a job eventually, but it took much longer than the 3 months I had paid upfront for my sublet (graduated in May, moved to city in June, started job in October).

    It’s doable, I think you just have to be realistic with yourself & unafraid to put in hard work (I had to work two jobs to afford rent before I finally got a job in my field). But It sounds like you’re already having some luck with interviews & fingers crossed they work out!

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I think if the OP can manage some type of paid work that would cover living expenses being local would be better than applying from Alaska. If they need to go into debt for the job search that’s a much trickier decision.

      It also depends on what sort of jobs they’re applying for. I work in a very international specialized field, so current location would not strongly affect interview chances, as most applicants for a job would be relocating even for junior positions. But other jobs are very different, particularly if there is a large pool of local applicants.

    2. Smithy*

      For DC, this would also be my recommendation. There are so many recent graduates in the area looking for entry level positions that competition is just high.

      One thing I would also mention is that DC in particular has a number of temp agencies/systems that focus on filling temp roles for specific sectors. So depending on how much of a financial risk you’re looking to take – you could always seek how those temp agencies before moving and then couple temp work with job hunting.

      1. Tigger*

        Also We Work has a spin off called We Live that is in Crystal City. They have 3 month leases and they are full of people in your situation OP!

        1. Technology policy expert*

          “Also We Work has a spin off called We Live is in Crystal City. ”

          I had no idea about this! Can you elaborate a bit?

      2. Washi*

        Yes, there are a lot of new grads trying to come to DC and competition is definitely pretty fierce. This may not work for OP’s goals, but as a fellow DC transplant from a faraway land, I ended up doing Americorps at an education nonprofit rather than temping, because those positions were closer to the field I wanted to be in. I had a number of friends who did the same and then later moved into education policy work.

        That’s an 11-12 month commitment though, which I was ok with, but OP may not be.

      3. Michaela Westen*

        Yes, I did a lot of temp work in the 90’s. I made a living at it for a few years. Not in DC though.
        Temp work fell off a little in the early 2000’s, but I was still able to get almost-steady work in 2005 and 2011 when I was between jobs. If you have the office skills and prove yourself as reliable and pleasant around the office, they’ll give you work.
        Or you might want to get an evening job at a bar or restaurant so you can interview in the daytime without missing work.

      4. jkl*

        Re DC specifically – I’m familiar enough with the rental and jobs markets in both places to recommend that, if they do want to stay on the east coast, they should get the short term lease in Philadelphia. They have a stronger support network if they’ve already been to college there, rent is massively cheaper, and when a DC job bites and says “can you come in tomorrow for an interview,” bus tickets are around $30 round trip.

        1. Technology policy expert*

          I strongly disagree with JKL’s advice. It’s not a question of the length of time for the bus trip. It’s that the policy shops want to see you in DC. If rent is an issue, live in Virginia rather than the District itself.

    3. The Fuzzy Worm of Capitalism*

      OP #3, I too was in a similar boat, I wanted to do policy work in DC after graduating but didn’t have a job lined up. I made the decision to move to DC the month after I graduated. I highly, highly recommend it if you can afford the move (although I am curious why you would want to sublet in Philly, as you mentioned? I would say just come straight to the source in DC, I’ve done the Philly to DC drive many times and it’s a longer haul than it looks! Baltimore would be a better city to move to if you aren’t ready for the DC rent, you can take the MARC train into DC no problem)
      When I got here without a job or a clue, really, I temped for a great agency which paid way above minimum wage for real political work, on a 9-5 schedule in a metro-accessible location. They had me placed within a few days of my resume submission, and when I found a full time job 6 weeks later leaving was a breeze. I also would have never gotten that full time job if I hadn’t been in DC – they asked me to come in for a first round interview the day after I submitted my resume then offered me the job asking me to start the next Monday. If you’re not here, unfortunately, you might just miss out on quickly-filled jobs because there are tons of recent grads already here in DC.

    4. sarah*

      Agreed– one upside to a town where so many people do the same thing (like DC or Los Angeles) is that your job could come from anywhere. The Starbucks job you take for a few months to make money while you job hunt could be managed by Important Congressman’s husband who knows she has an opening. You’re less likely to make those connections in Alaska.

      1. Technology policy expert*

        ^This. For DC jobs you completely need to ignore this site’s advice against “gumption.” (I’d actually say that’s true for jobs in general, but it’s VERY true in DC.) Burn that shoe leather.

    5. MrsFillmore*

      DC-based non-profit manager here, strongly echoing the advice to find a way to spend 2-3 months in DC if possible. Working through a temp agency can be a good way to do this. Note that temping is not usually a good way to get a “foot in the door” but does allow you to pay the bills while being in the city and networking. I’ve seen CityStaffDC and RPStaffing recommended by and for recent grads. PoliTemps may have temp work more closely aligned with the type of permanent work that you’re interested. Then, when you have a day off, you can to events around town in areas related to your professional policy interests, get on think tank listservs for event listings (Brookings, New America, Heritage etc. depending on your political leaning) and talk to people while you’re there. Good luck!

  6. Jo*

    OP5, your boss sounds like a total pain. I’d be tempted to play loud music early the next morning to wake him up when he is sleepy and hungover, but that would end up annoying other people as well. Kimmybear has a good point about seeing if other people are bothered by the noise – it might give you more leverage with your boss or if you’re approaching someone who manages the place. Failing that earplugs might be another option!

    1. Rectilinear Propagation*

      but that would end up annoying other people as well

      Only if the any of the other neighbors don’t have to be up too. If everyone else has to be at work in the morning like #5 does then technically this is doable, even if it isn’t the best idea.

      1. OP5*

        Everyone is on different weekly calendars so it really isn’t doable without offending someone else. Also, he lives in like a house with walls while I’m living in a caravan. He also had bragged about his speakers system – I think to taunt me because it was after I talked to him about the noise

        1. Aphrodite*

          Is there a farm owner or cooperative that is above the manager? It sounds like you need to go above his head because he likes being a jerk.

        2. Foreign Octopus*

          Woah, what?

          I thought this was an apartment style complex that you were living in but his music is so loud that it cuts through the walls of his house, across the space separating you, and then into your caravan?

          This guy is an ass, even more so now that he’s aware there’s a problem but he just doesn’t care.

          Is there anyone above him that you can complain to? Preferably as a group?

        3. Observer*

          This guy is trouble. Unless you can get out, you really should see if there is someone above him to take this to.

        4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          OK, I need to add a fifth aspect to “your boss is a jerk and isn’t going to change”. He’s bragging about the speakers. What an @ss!

  7. Tyche*

    OP5, urgh!
    Your boss is a huge ass***e.
    I’d be tempted to call in sick the next day citing a migraine from too little sleep.
    More probably I’d buy some earbuds to lessen the noise.

    1. Jo*

      Haha, this is where the ‘speak up as a group’ thing might come in handy too…if several colleagues are impacted by the noise and all call in sick with a noise-from-the-night-before induced migraine!

      1. OP5*

        I have actually suggested that but it’s not really feasible – we work on a farm and those pesky animals do need to be looked after

    2. OP5*

      I’ve considered both of those solutions. I can’t really call in sick – the director doesn’t give our department enough people to staff it properly and it’d be really unfair on those guys. also, he isn’t working either so it wouldn’t exactly make my point.

      I’m a little bit iffy about trying to sleep with earbuds in. I don’t like the feeling of them in my ears normally (i have a bunch of sensory hang-ups) but it might be the only solution.

      1. vampire physicist*

        I second the white noise machine recommendation upthread if you can get one and if white noise doesn’t bother you – I live in a noisy neighborhood, I also have trouble with earbuds, and getting a white noise machine was a game-changer.
        Obviously escalating to someone else is ideal because this is terrible behavior on the part of your director, but if that’s not an option or if you just need to get sleep while they work on the problem, at least this may help.

        1. TCO*

          There’s a phone app called White Noise with hundreds of different sound options, including downloadable sounds if OP doesn’t have good internet in her trailer. Could be worth trying.

          1. Cascadian*

            I use this app every night with a sleep headband that has flat speakers tucked inside the band. It took a bit to get used to the feeling, but it sure helps block the sound of 4am roosters on my farm, and the all-night cat comings & goings.

      2. Big Bank*

        They also make sleep headbands now with blu-tooth, if you dont want the things actually in your ears. I personally didn’t enjoy it (made my head hot) but something to consider.

        1. Jaid*

          It depends on where the blu-tooth device is located. I have one, but the switch protruded and was on the side and I’m a side sleeper, so that was a no go. There are headbands that are wired and are truly flat on the sides, but then you could get caught in the wires.
          Meh. Check on Amazon for either one.

      3. Fishsticks*

        Look into headbands with headphones in them. If you search on Amazon for “earbud headband” you can find a ton for not that much. Most of them are bluetooth and rechargeable. My girlfriend has a ton of sensory issues and is able to use it while sleeping thankfully. Also you could buy one and then sew your own headband in a fabric you like better!

        1. blackcat*

          If you can handle a cord (I can by pointing the cord up so it goes over my pillow above my head, if that makes sense), CozyPhones are great and inexpensive.

        2. DataGirl*

          Thank you for this tip! My husband snores like crazy and I hate those foam earbud things.

      4. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        What about speaking to the director who is not onsite? Record a video with the noise level and time stamp to prove your point. Normally it’s a risk to go over a boss’ head, but in this case, it may very well be worth it.

        1. Psyche*

          That’s what I was wondering! They shouldn’t have to move, but going as far away as possible from the house might be the only solution since this guy is an ass.

      5. Owler*

        I have sensory issues with my ears also. When I was staying in an open air cabin with a bunch of snorers, a friend recommended Mack’s Silicone ear putty (a similar drugstore brand is fine too; I just listed “Mack’s” for Google searching). It’s great because I don’t find it puts pressure on my ear (occasionally I take them out during the night, but they quiet things so I can fall asleep and I’m not aware of taking them out), and now I never travel without some.

    3. 1.2 years until retirement*

      As a true migraine sufferer (you are all aware that a migraine is NOT just a bad headache, right?) claiming you have them when you don’t is just not right. Might as well claim the noise gives you lupus or some other chronic medical condition.

  8. In AK*

    I moved to Alaska in July and I think that people don’t fully understand quite how far away Alaska is from everything or how obscenely expensive it is to move to or from here. So even though *you* know it is a full day to get anywhere but the West Coast, I think generally you’ll be lumped in with other long distance people. I think people here are much more worried about hiring “from the lower 48” than anywhere else I’ve lived.

    1. AKchic*

      It depends on the industry.

      A lot of fields here in Alaska are just fine with hiring from the lower 48 because we know we don’t have many qualified candidates otherwise. We really don’t have a good educational system up here and to be honest, the way things are going, it’s only going to get worse.

  9. Batgirl*

    I might be looking at no 2 with UK-eyes (where sick leave is unlimited, has nothing to do with your bucket of paid time off and is never considered ‘unused’ if you stay healthy) but that’s really obvious fraud! To me it reads like ‘I’m not going to work but pay me, *wink*’.
    Then you have someone who is not using their sick leave when they’re entitled to it and saving it like holiday time. That bit actually mitigates the fraudulent look of things. It sounds like the employees don’t understand it’s a safety net and are treating it like it’s part of their compensation?
    Might be time for better communication. You don’t want people leaving it unused and being unpaid while sick. Especially if they’re wandering into dishonest territory.

      1. Green great dragon*

        No, but for a lot of companies it’s sufficiently close for most people. I think ours is 6 months full pay, 3 months half pay.

    1. Bagpuss*

      Er, sick leave isn’t unlimited in the UK, although you are correct that it’s nothing to do with your paid holiday.

      There is no statutory right to paid sick leave,other than for Statutory Sick Pay, which is itself limited to a max. of 28 weeks, so it is down to your individual contract.
      Most companies offer paid sick leave but how much can vary from a few days to several months,with public sector workers usually having much more generous provisions.

      1. Artemesia*

        28 weeks feels ‘unlimited’ to Americans who often have none or 5 days. Some places try to give what is needed in sick leave so that a serious illness or injury is covered. My Dad missed 3 mos back in the late 40s and was forever grateful to the company for not cutting him off or firing him for missing work; there are plenty of places especially now that would pay for 5 days and then the person would be on unpaid leave or worse. Some places treat sick leave as part of the personal time off bucket and it is a ‘right’ to take. When huge amounts are allowed it is on the assumption that is averages out; most people won’t use much and it is a safety net for serious situations and thus everyone is not entitled to pay out or to take the leave.

        1. Watry*

          This. My retail job had a single bucket for sick leave and PTO, but calling out sick got you two demerits, regardless of reason. 12 demerits got you auto-fired. Although some of it was up to manager’s discretion. I was in the hospital for three days with no issue except a cranky assistant manager.

          1. Bagpuss*

            I’ve never worked somewhere where this was the case, but I am aware that even here, there are employers that have policies like that – I think a lot of large call centres and some retail employers treat it that way so that more than 2 or 3 sickness absences is treated as a disciplinary issue.
            The rules here (other than where the sickness is relation to disability or pregnancy which are protected characteristics) mostly just require thatwhen someone is disciplined or dismissed, they are done so as a result of a fair and non discriminatory policy.

            SSP only kicks in whn someone is sick for (I think) 3 consecutive days, so it’s also perfectly legal to give no spaid sick time, in which case someone who was off sick for a wek, would not be paid at all for the fiorst3 days and would only then get SSP for the last 2.

            (I don’t dispute that in most cases, it is better than in the USA, but it’s not all roses and song even here. And there are employers who will do the bare minimum required by law and nothing more)

            1. LW 2*

              Happily our scheduling is very flexible, so it’s really easy to request a day off in advance or call out as long as you’re able to find coverage (or occasionally when you’re not), and we really do try to be as accommodating as possible. I realize that doesn’t negate the disparity in benefits, but it does at least mean that it’s usually pretty easy to schedule (basically unlimited) time off, even when it’s unpaid.

              1. One of the Sarahs*

                “even when unpaid” – yeah, this isn’t a benefit, except for people who are privileged in some ways (wealthy partner, living with parents and not paying rent, independently wealthy etc). If anything, telling people it’s a benefit is likely to encourage them to play the system even more, because to me, at least, it sounds tone deaf to talk about it as if it’s a positive.

          2. Emily K*

            Wow, did that ever reset? If not, what a great way to ensure people get fired before their annual 20 cent raise starts to cost the company too much in labor costs /s

            1. Michaela Westen*

              I was wondering about that too. More than 3 sick days in what time period?
              Whatever it is, I would get fired because for about 6 years I was sick 2 or 3 weeks a year (not all in a row)
              Thank God I have a supportive employer who values my work!

        2. Bagpuss*

          Sure, but SSP isn’t anything close tothe employees full pay, it’s a flat £95 a week, which consiering that someone working full time on minimum wage would be earning around £290 a week isn’t a lot.

          Paid sick leave, where you get your full pay can be as low as it is in the USA, unless you work for a public body like the NHS.

          The longest I was ever entitled to was 3 weeks at full pay and 3 more at half pay. The last time I was an employee the standard allowance was 6 days, with discretion to allow more.

          I think it tends to vary a lot with smaller businesses usually giving less generous leave, whereas public bodies tend to be much more generous with 3 or 6 months at full pay and the same at half being common.
          It is possible for a persona to be sacked as a result of missing to much time due to sickness but there are processes that have to be followed, mostly about showing that the employers have looked at whether it is possible to help the employee back to work and whether there are reasonable adjustments they can make to facilitate that, but it can and does happen.
          And, like your Dad’s employers, many employers will be more generous, either as a fixed policy allowing more time and on a case by case discretionary basis ( for instnace, we had an employee a few years ago who had cancer . We kept paying her up until she died, at full pay, which included about 3 months where under our policy she should have ben down to SSP . We didn’t point out to her that she had run out of paid sick leave and she never asked, so I don’t think that she necessarily realised )

        3. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          I worked somewhere where you were allowed to miss 2 shifts in 4 months. Get sick once, and you were over your trimesterly allotment.

          I had to quit pretty shortly after I started working there, because the lack of sick time meant that everyone came to work sick and I was continuously visit-the-doctor sick for two and a half months straight. It was a disaster.

      2. Batgirl*

        I didn’t mean you can take infinity off, in every single job, that phrase just means there’s no culture here of having a set allowance that you feel entitled to use as part of your compensation.

        1. Bagpuss*

          The 28 weeks is the maximum period that you can claim Statutory Sick Pay, which used to be a state funded benefit but which is now paid for direct by the employer.
          In practice, I think a lot of employers would be moving to dismiss the employee n the basis of incapacity, if they were sick that long. I think it is more common that there wil be a short period of SSP if someone is off sick and has used up all of their contractual entitlement.
          Since SSP is now paid by the employer rather than by the state, most employment contract explicitly say that any paid sick leacve is deemed to include any SSP, so if you have 2 weeks paid siock leve, that would count towards he 28 weeks SSP entitlement, rather than being able to use your contractual leave and then have the SSP starting when it ends.

          For reference, SSP is £95 per week. Unemployment benefits are around £73 a week but carry further entitlements, so broadly speaking, SSP will leave you in a simialr position to if you were out of work, finacially, but would still have a job to go back to.

    2. Lucy*

      My UK perspective was being startled that part-timers don’t get the same benefits as full-timers – this falls under sex discrimination in the UK because women are more likely to be part time and part timers are more likely to be women. Vacation is simply pro-rated. Even temps get a minimum of 5.6 weeks per year paid leave (typically administered by adding an uplift to their hourly rate).

      I had a colleague at OldJob who always knew very precisely how much paid sick leave she still had available in any year and would absolutely take every single minute of it. It did cause bad feeling when she would call in for “a cold sore” at the end of the relevant period, but nothing was done as she was absolutely one of the most dedicated and effective performers when she was around – the type to fit maximum output into the working day rather than maximum working day into the output…

      1. Asenath*

        I’m in Canada, and part-timers often get no benefits. My initial thought was – they’re working part-time and they get sick leave. Wow!

        I had various part time and temporary contracts with my current employer before I “went permanent” as we say, and right at the top of the reasons I hoped to get a job here (while applying everywhere I could, because I couldn’t afford to be picky) was that with my current employer, contractual employees of more than 6 months duration and at least 20 h/wk got benefits. That was and as far as I know still is unusual around here. We are unionized, which explains why we have a contract specifying such details. And why they were negotiated in the first place – some then-employees didn’t like the deductions that come with getting the benefits (not the sick leave or paid leave, but the supplementary insurance and pension), but I think it’s great. And it all carried over when I became permanent.

        1. Pommette!*

          Fellow Canadian, stuck in a field where I’ll likely be cobbling together part-time and temporary contracts together for life. I’m sad to say that my reaction was the same as yours. The lack of (and in Ontario where I live, claw-backs to) basic protections for workers, especially part-time workers, is such a problem. It compounds and exacerbates other forms of inequality.

          The one thing that we do get is vacation pay for part-timers who don’t get paid vacation. It’s a small amount lumped on to every salary, to compensate for the value of the vacation time you would have accrued if you had been a full-time worker (calculated on basis of 2 weeks of/year at normal salary for a person working full-time). Even though it often doesn’t amount to much in absolute terms, it makes a big psychological difference and would probably reduce the temptation to misuse sick leave.

        2. Emily K*

          Maryland passed a law last year requiring businesses to offer sick leave to all employees, PT or FT. If they have more than 15 employees it has to be paid leave; below 15 it can be unpaid leave; and it must accrue at a minimum of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked.

          It’s really radical, paid leave for part-timers is still basically unheard of in most of the country but I’m so proud of my state for getting it done.

        3. Jem One*

          UK here! I’m really sad that sick leave is so poor in the US and Canada that it’s considered a benefit and not a basic working right. That’s no dig at you Asenath, just sad that it’s normal to not have any sick leave in a part-time position.

      2. Michaela Westen*

        Temps get five weeks a year of paid leave! I was a temp for a few years and they normally get no benefits at all in the US. I was surprised when after about 6 months work they gave me an extra week of pay. That was my vacation pay.
        As you probably know, even VP level here often don’t get more than 4 weeks vacation, and regular workers usually get 2 weeks. I’m tempted to move to the UK. :D

        1. Michaela Westen*

          IRRC the temp vacation pay was if I worked 1000 hours continuously. So it only happened if I had long-term assignments with no days off for sick or interviews because there was normally a day or few between shorter assignments.
          So for practical purposes, temps got no benefits.
          This was in the 90’s.

        2. Temp in the UK*

          I am a temp now in the UK. Working full time hours.

          The main difference as far as leave goes is that permanent employees often get their holiday front-loaded. So all of their leave is available from the beginning of the year and if you use it all and leave before you may owe them money which can be taken from your final paycheck.

          As a temp, I earn the same amount of holiday leave but it is paid out as I accrue it. I think its 0.5 days a week is earned. But I only get my holiday paid if I have enough leave saved up at the time I am taking it. It means temps end up having to take time off at the end of the year to avoid losing the newest leave accrued which isn’t great. But luckily my company does our year with the fiscal year so its april-march.

          I also don’t get company sick pay. I do get my statutory sick pay if I meet the requirements.

          At old job where I was permanent the sick pay increased every year. It started with 4 weeks full pay, and 4 weeks half pay after the first 4 months and moved all the way up to 26 weeks of full pay and 26 weeks of half pay for employees who stayed for 5+ years. In my 3rd year I took 16 weeks of full pay and 2 of half pay because of a long term illness issue, when I return I tapered back up to full time hours starting with a few days a week until I was full time over a month. They paid my full wages for the month and didn’t deduct the time from my sickness allotment when I was returning with shorter hours. Its the only thing I miss about that place.

          1. Michaela Westen*

            I’ve never heard of anyone, at any level, getting 4 weeks sick pay. That is unheard of here.
            I suppose CEOs and people around that level would get however much they need, it would be worked out – but they’re usually people who like to work and don’t get sick much, so it wouldn’t often be an issue.

            1. Clisby*

              Do you mean 4 weeks per year? Or 4 weeks accrued? I’m in the US, and 6 weeks of my maternity leave was from accrued sick leave; I still had more left over. (I can’t remember whether there was a cap on it – if so, clearly it was higher than 6 weeks.) We accrued 1.5 sick days per month, so 18 days per year.

      3. I have never watched Game of thrones.*

        365 sick days with 80% of our pay, up to a centain limit (might be a lot more if your in a union.) After that you get 75%. And then you can transition to permanent sick leave (but you can start working again should hings change). The first sick day comes out of your pay, the first two weeks are paid by the employer, and after that the government steps in. The idea of a limited amount of sick days seams inhuman.

    3. Mookie*

      I agree with Artemisia down below that Americans, by and large, are not always conversant in matters of benefits and labor rights and I think that is by design (more difficult to assert your rights if they’re intentionally vague and incomplete in their wording and application), they’re spotty anyway, and we’re culturally conditioned to find such talk too “political” or, gulp, radical and therefore are squeamish and bashful both about openly endorsing, expanding, or even using them to their full extent (cf the euphemism of “entitlement reform”).

      1. Asenath*

        Sometimes people think it’s not worth the bother to complain. A friend of mine, when a university student, took a job that involved solicitations for a very reputable-sounding charity. It wasn’t a total scam; the people who hired the students didn’t vanish in the night, and possibly the charity got some tiny amount of the proceeds – but they cheated their workers by not paying them what they should have. All the students but my friend apparently chalked it up to experience and let it go. She found out which provincial office handled labour law violations (she wasn’t even in our home province, where she or someone she knew might have known the procedures) and found out how to file a formal complaint – and did so. It took several months, but eventually she got a certified cheque for the balance of what she was owed. If everyone filed complaints – and followed up – these sorts of labour cheats would be out of business.

    4. Thankful for AAM*

      Why is sick leave not part of your compensation? I think it is listed that way at my current, city, job.

      1. Clisby*

        At least at the jobs I’ve had, I suppose you could say it’s part of compensation in the same way employer-subsidized health insurance is considered part of compensation – it adds to the value of your wages. But it’s not treated the same as wages, which you’re entitled to; it’s a conditional benefit to be used for a particular purpose. You use sick leave if you’re actually sick. You use health insurance for medical care. You’re not entitled to take a sick day when you’re not sick any more than you’re entitled to file a health insurance claim for nonexistent medical care.

        (Now, I think with some employers, “PTO” is a single bucket of leave meant to cover both vacations and sick leave, without differentiating between the two. In that case, I’d say it’s more comparable to wage compensation. )

    1. Hufflepuffin*

      That would be my suggestion too. Also, email isn’t working so stop emailing.

    2. Gerta*

      I came here to suggest this too. If the company is as big as it sounds, it would be surprising for the CEO not to have a PA. Even if that person isn’t able to mediate, they should have good insight into what CEO is most likely to respond to.

    3. Snuck*

      I was going to say “the President has probably randomly forgotten and your emails are being filtered through a range of admins and getting lost int he system… he’s almost not ‘avoiding’ you over the $50 (unless there’s indications elsewhere of him being odd with things, but given his position, unlikely)… he’s more likely completely oblivious to this innocently. Do as Alison has suggested “Just closing up last year, when would be a good time for me to collect this year and last year from you?”

    4. Asenath*

      That’s definitely something you should try. One of the various bits of important institutional knowledge in my workplace is which senior people answer their email, and which have everything go through an admin or secretary. And which address they actually use – some given their admin access to their email, some use a completely different email (our IT people don’t like this, but it happens), and some just have everything sent to their admin’s email or some kind of generic office email that the admin uses – but official listings of people’s contact information don’t say that this is what happens.

      And if all else fails, phone the president or admin.

    5. k8isgreat*

      As an admin, I beg you not to do this. Please don’t make me chase my boss down for money he owes you. Alison’s right, skip the emails and just bring it up the next time you see him in person.

      1. Guacamole Bob*

        This strikes me as office and executive dependent. When I was an admin I would have taken this on – I would have talked to him about it along with the regular accounting of money we owed him in expense reimbursements and money he owed our nonprofit for personal expenses charged to his company credit card. (He often did things like stay an extra day on a trip for personal reasons and pay back the last day of the rental car cost.) Even if it hadn’t been something appropriate for me to handle it definitely would have been reasonable for someone to ask me the best way to contact my executive for something like this – phone versus email, or when to stop by in person.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          I’m glad to see this, because that’s exactly what I would do — ask the EA for advice. Maybe that’s finding the right time to “drop in” on the exec, or some other suggestion. I wouldn’t assume the EA would take on the collections role, but definitely would assume they would know how to get something from their boss.

        2. Emily K*

          Yeah, at my company we are explicitly told to CC executives’ admins on any requests we have for the exec, so that the admin can help them stay on top of deadlines and prioritize. Reminders even get sent about this periodically if people have been forgetting to include the EAs. Essentially we are given the implied message that the execs themselves are living in a state of near constant chaos and so have outsourced the management of their affairs to their EA, and you can’t reasonably expect them to get anything done for you if you don’t loop in the EA.

        3. k8isgreat*

          Not to be too nitpicky, but the comment said, “an admin” not an executive assistant. Two very different things. As an admin, but not at EA, please don’t bring this to me.

      2. Asenath*

        I managed to get away from the hound-people-for-money thing for a while (due to splitting the responsibility with another admin on an annual basis), but chasing people for money they’ve committed to some event or activity was, and technically still is, part of my job, which is why I made that suggestion. I guess it won’t work in all offices.

        I hate dealing with money. If I wanted to keep track of money and nag my supervisor (or anyone else) for it, I’d have become an accountant, or worked in some office that handles billings or something.

      3. cmcinnyc*

        I’m an EA, and I would totally go to my boss and say “You stiffed your Fantasy Football League $50 last year and now they’re all wondering if they have to cover you this year. How about you give me $100 to square you for last year and next?” But yes, EAs and bosses are different.

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        I disagree. Unless the company is specifically centered in fantasy league sports, that is an extracurricular activity and outside the realm of duties for an admin. I say this as an admin. I’d really, really resent having to chase down my boss’s gambling debts. It’s entirely inappropriate.

        1. Elizabeth Proctor*

          This is in the realm of a PA, not an EA. Not to say there aren’t EAs who would be happy to do this or who have that type of relationship, but unless you know they do I think it would be very weird to reach out to an EA about someone’s personal debt.

        2. Name Required*

          “Gambling debts” is spot on. I think other commenters are forgetting that as popular as Fantasy Football leagues are, it’s gambling. In some places, it’s illegal gambling. Would you be as comfortable asking the EA to collect the boss’s horse-racing debt? Poker debt?

          1. valentine*

            I didn’t know it was gambling, or what was costing $50. Had it been March Madness or the Super Bowl, though, I might’ve still had the same response, because the C-suite involvement looks like the company fostering this, during work time, for bonding purposes.

        3. One of the Sarahs*

          Especially if getting into the fantasy football league is a privilege reserved for senior people and some people they like – ESPECIALLY if the league is all men, and the admin that’s being asked to get the debt paid up is a woman who might want to play, but isn’t in the clique, so can’t.

    6. Me*

      Former admin – please do not do this this. While it’s an office thing in the sense that people in the office participate, it’s almost certainly not an official work activity. It’s a personal activity for fun involving coworkers and colleagues. Do not ask an administrative assistant to chase down money owed for a personal activity. It’s no different from if he forgot to pay for his kids little league dues and they called the admin to ask.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If I were your husband I’d write off the $50 as a loss, and recommend that a more senior member manage the cash next time. Because it needs to be someone who can tell the CEO he doesn’t get to participate at the start of the next season without feeling like his job could be on the line.

  10. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP1 – I wonder if, because they haven’t been told to stop (and possibly had different experiences with other bosses) your employee thinks that you are expecting this of them? If they get a lukewarm “thanks” when they update, that may be understood, by them, as confirmation that they are doing it right.

    So yeah – just tell them :) they may be as relieved as you!

    1. Doreen*

      Usually it’s a thanks, sounds good, or great job so she’s not quite getting it. I was planning to say what Alison suggested, just wanted other tips if there were any.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        I definitely get why you’re defaulting to these responses but I also wouldn’t get the fact that you don’t want updates every whit and flip from these.

        You need something firmer and I think it’s gone on for so long now that you’ll need to use Alison’s scripts to get your point across. If she keeps coming back to you after that, change it up. “Remember, this is something I want you to manage now.”

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah, I’d assume from that that you wanted me to continue and that you wanted to micromanage.

        I think the direct scripts from Alison work – and as someone else mentioned, do make sure it comes with reassurance “I know your work is good/I trust you to do good work”.

        1. Hermione at Heart*

          “I trust you on this” is my grandboss’s code for “for the love of god, please do not give me micromanage-y updates,” and I love it as a gentle nudge.

          (She usually accompanies it the first few times with “I don’t need/want these updates” but after that the code works.)

      3. LaurenB*

        She’s not quite getting it because you aren’t telling her. You are saying “thanks” and hoping that she somehow translates that to “gee, maybe I’m burdening her with too many updates and I should dial back the frequency.”

        1. Save One Day at a Time*

          Yup! Please communicate with her! Since you aren’t saying anything, the level of your frustration isn’t actually warranted… yet. It will make you happier if you say something, and also help your opinion of her. The longer you stew the more you’ll dislike her for not altering behavior you haven’t brought up as an issue at all

      4. The Other Dawn*

        I wouldn’t get it either. I’d take it at face value. You really need to tell her explicitly that she doesn’t need to give, nor do you want, all these updates. Otherwise it’s going to continue.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP1, Those of us who worked for toxic micromanagers may need several reminders to break habits their old bosses drilled into them. Two from me:
      I had one boss/owner who *required* we print hardcopy of what we’d been working on every day at close of day. (Boss/owner did his own IT, and he’d had a couple of times where crashes at deadline meant only the hardcopy was usable at delivery time… I was slammed when I suggested he set up an automated backup system with an onsite duplicate for fast access.) I quickly dropped the “every day” printing, but I did keep the worry — for me it became an excessive number of backup disks… and it was a year or two before I was comfortable relying on my company’s backup process.
      Another, the manager *required* we bcc: him on every email we sent and keep him posted every time we contacted someone outside of the company. (We only rarely have customer/vendor contact.) He was vehement about it, and he had trained his successor — so it was EIGHT YEARS before a third manager said “you know I don’t need that like Tywin & Cersei did”…but only said it once and then apparently just rolled her eyes rather than remind me. I’ve been promoted and working for a fourth manager for 5 years — and I’m finally breaking the habit. The difference? My new manager has told me it was uncessary, and reminded me several times & kindly.

      1. recovering from micromanagement*

        Just wanted to back this idea up. I had one job that scarred me for years. I was micromanaged to the point of getting phone calls from my manager in the toilet if I happened to disappear without letting her know (I do not have unusual toilet habits). It messes with your normal, especially after my normal had previously been so free-range that I didn’t have a manager for 2,000 miles, and we only spoke when necessary. That was pretty great until I needed an answer on something, but I digress.

        So tell your employee what you think is a good amount of oversight/communication, and that you trust her to handle these things herself. If you can kindly say that you think she may have been working somewhere where constant check-in was normal, but here we like to trust your abilities- that’s why we hired you! This might go a long way.

      2. Sandan Librarian*

        I was about to say something along these lines.
        I’ve worked for toxic bosses who micromanage or who offer no feedback at all until the end, in which case they would take me to task for not reading their minds and going in a different direction than they’d intended. As a result, I still have a strong urge to show my supervisors my progress at every step of the process, and to explain my thinking. I also tend to take every scrap of feedback I can and try to incorporate it, just so that I’ve covered all my bases. It’s been years since the last such supervisor, and I still do this. It’s the kind of thing that sticks with a person when it’s sufficiently unpleasant.
        That said, I imagine it is really frustrating for a manager who does not require this sort of feedback to get constant updates, so on the off-chance that your employee is in a similar position, please give them clear direction and let them know not only that you don’t require so many updates, but maybe define what sort of updates you DO want (and how often).

  11. One of the Sarahs*

    OP2: The thing that stood out to me is that part time workers don’t get the same benefits as full time workers, so I’m not surprised they’re thinking like this.

    I’ve worked both part time and full time, and always had holiday pay pro-rata-ed against my hours, because when I’m working, I’m just as responsible, hard working etc, regardless of my work pattern. If you’re expecting part timers to perform at the same level as full time colleagues, but miss out on benefits, sooner or later they’ll feel disrespected, and things like this will happen.

    1. Lucy*


      As someone pointed out higher up, if this is the only benefit they get, it shouldn’t be totally surprising that they are trying to squeeze out every last cent from it.

    2. Jessica*

      Wow, it’s 6am on the US east coast right now, and it’s fascinating to read this thread when it’s mostly UK folks who have been awake so far to comment. And by “fascinating” I mean heartbreaking. I ‘m not criticizing the Brit commenters, just consumed with envious bitterness! Part-time workers here don’t just feel disrespected. It’s not an emotion, it’s structural exploitation. We have entire industries that are rife with forcing people into part-time work SO THAT they can duck any obligation to pay them benefits.
      I agree that these two employees are acting inappropriately, and it sounds like maybe they’re young workers who don’t exactly know better. If so, it would be a kindness to clarify this stuff for them. But I wouldn’t judge them too hard without considering the political and economic context this is happening in.

      1. Feline*

        These employees strike me as sounding young, too. Maybe it’s not fair to write off this kind of not understanding how things work, but my experiences with employees who think they should wring every hour of sick time out has been with younger employees. We oldsters tend to grow an “I may need that sick day later” mentality. I needed 3 weeks of sick time to cover a hospitalization and recovery in December and was very grateful for not having burned those days earlier.

        Some companies have policies about how sick time can be used during a notice period, though I suspect that may be mostly a thing in low-wage, high face-time industries like hospitality. I haven’t bumped into those policies in a while and don’t know if they are still legal, but if they are, it’s worth letting these employees know what’s buried in their employee manual.

        1. Thankful for AAM*

          But the evidence is that they did save their sick leave for a time of need. Now they are leaving and want to take advantage of their benefit.

          As I said upthread, I have worked for employers who scheduled employees for shifts they would call out of so they could use the benefit without messing up the schedule.

          1. JM60*

            When my current employer hired me, HR outright told me in a meeting discussing our benefits that they didn’t care if we used our sick time as a vacation, so long as our manager was okay with it. Although I generally view sick time as a safety net, I don’t think that using it as vacation is always unethical, but that depends on the intent of the policy.

            Is funny that I’m coming across this story today. I just had surgery a few hours ago, and elected to come into work instead of using one of my 10 sick days (the surgery was very minor).

      2. Akcipitrokulo*

        Yeah :( it’s not good from this side either realising that it’s something that’s missing. Here’s the official info if interested www(dot)gov(dot)uk / part-time-worker-rights.

        (Bear in mind the bit about health insurance is because it’s a luxury item.)

        But yeah – being able to treat part timers differently did go out mainly because it was seen as indirect sex discrimination iirc.

      3. One of the Sarahs*

        That’s so sad. I asked this upthread too, but what are the general justifications for expecting people to do the same work, but get denied the same benefits? It’s especially horrible to me, because in my experience, people who are part time are generally doing something else too – caring for children or relatives, studying, working other jobs, dealing with illness etc etc. I know there are *some* people who are wealthy, so don’t need the money, and are part time for lifestyle reasons, but they are in a minority. It seems unfair to expect people to work just as hard as collegues, but to only get time off if they take it unpaid.

    3. BRR*

      I don’t think this is limited to part-time. In my experience, which I admits isn’t a comprehensive data set, it’s a fairly common feeling for people with unused sick time. Not that being sick more is a “benefit,” but the mindset of “I wasn’t sick so I should be able to take that time” isn’t uncommon. But sick time is just one of those things that you might not be able to use.

    4. LW 2*

      I think you’re right that that is a big part of the reason they’re thinking this way, and I’m having to separate my feelings on what I want to offer them from what company policy is. I wish we did offer PT staff vacation time and holiday pay, especially because I’ve had those benefits in PT jobs before. I don’t feel that I have much standing to push for those things, but I’ll watch for opportunities to bring it up.

      1. CM*

        I think you can tell them that, too — like, “I wish I could help you out but company policy says that sick leave is only for times when you’re actually sick.” And I can see where they’re coming from. It might help to think of their request more as “Hey, for financial reasons I need to make sure that I get all the benefits that I can before leaving, can you help me do that?” rather than “Can you lie for me?”

      2. One of the Sarahs*

        One thing I would suggest is checking with other managers at your level about what they do. Because if Fergus feels bad his part time workers get all the same responsibilities, but none of the perks, he might be letting Jane take sick pay as holiday, and Jane is telling your report, Wakeen, that it’s normal, because it is, for her.

        But I’m glad you’ll try to help if you can, because it IS unfair they don’t get the same rights, but are expected to do the same work, and while a subsection of US AAM commentariat will expect them to suck it up, because some states in the US allow as few workers’ rights as possible, from a human perspective, that’s not good.

  12. Q*

    #1 I think I’ve been in your employee’s shoes. In my case I moved job from somewhere the boss demanded an update on every tiny little thing that went on during the day from all his employees (whether junior or senior level) to somewhere you were just left to get on with stuff and only shared important things/problems.
    It took quite a lot of retraining my mind once I realised I no longer had to keep my manager in the loop all the time. It had a lot to do with building back up the confidence that the last boss had eroded with his micromanagement.

    1. Mookie*

      It was a revelation, a nice one, to me when I got shot of a micromanager and found that my work ethic, speed, and efficiency were all actually pretty decent. I had just been overloaded with “documenting” my every move that I’d little time to do the job I’d been hired for, which actually functioned best when it was done independently and with little regular oversight. Hopefully the LW’s report will also find this change in expectations liberating and confidence-boosting.

    2. JJ Bittenbinder*

      I had the opposite experience and it’s one of the reasons I left my last job after just a few months. Was allegedly hired to that job because of almost a decade of experience in a certain area, good reputation in the industry, career maturity and all that. Imagine my surprise when I was told that my manager was unhappy that I wasn’t running every little decision, document, etc. by her. I thought I’d been hired for my ability to take the ball and run it over the goal line, but clearly she didn’t want to actually let go of the ball.

      1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        You had my last boss??

        My boss withheld access to the programs I needed to do my job (Hiring/Payroll, Purchasing, Budgeting, the digital HVAC dashboard for my department, maintenance requests.) So if I wanted to do a core part of my job, I would have to ask her to do it for me. She wouldn’t do it, then yell at me for not “being accountable for my work.”

      2. recovering from micromanagement*

        same. I was brought in to because I knew the people, the company, the owners, the industry, had great contacts, and they knew my work. I was a senior manager, but was second-guessed, had my decisions reversed behind my back without explanation, never given access to the kind of data I needed, received calls multiple times/day to “check in”, etc. I was at a high- level in my field, and after those 6 months, I left the industry completely.

    3. Cercis*

      My last boss was similar. Wanted regular updates, which I provided in the format requested. With bold letters on the things that I expected could come back and bite us in the ass. I also brought these items up when I had 1:1s with the boss. But it never failed that if the issue happened boss would blame me for not having been clear enough about the possibility of it happening. Even when I could point to all the documents and the 1:1 agendas. So I learned to be very meticulous in my CYA documentation and reporting. Not that it saved my job, but I was trying really hard to be seen as the great and proactive employee that I was.

  13. MuseumChick*

    LW 1, how long has your employee worked for you? This sounds like learned behavior from working for a micromanager in the past. Working for a bad manager can really affect an employee even long term after they have moved on. I’ll use myself for example, I once had a boss who would get angry if you didn’t run EVERY decision past them. But then every couple of weeks would loudly complain that no one was “taking ownership of their projects.” which really meant: “Why are you all asking me so many questions???” It really messed with every member of the staff psychologically. When I got a new job I saw someone in a database that needed to be corrected. I was hired specifically to take control of this database, I still ask my boss before I changed what I saw. He looked at me and said, “Well, yeah, this is YOURS now.” I kind of laugh and actually explained what my ex-boss was like and said something like “I may take me some time to realize I don’t need to run everything past you.”

    1. Overeducated*

      I haaaate the “take ownership” language because it never comes with clear expectations for what that means. The last manager I had who said that wanted to make decisions on every little thing at the time she said that, so it was a bizarre thing to hear and in retrospect I still have no idea what she was trying to convey.

      1. MuseumChick*

        THANK YOU. I never understood what he meant by it. It was always, “Why are not running everything past me? You need to run everything past me! Why are you giving me so many updates? Why are you asking me these questions? People need to to take ownership of their projects and just get them done! What do you mean you sent that email? You should have run it past me first don’t do that again.”

        There were never any clear expectations and communication at that place was a joke. You were really expected to read minds.

        I think people like this are just very controlling but then when they get busy with their own work they sudden have a problem with all the work it is to be that controlling. And they just keep going round and round in a loop.

      2. MuseumChick*

        THANK YOU! I never understood it either. It left everyone confused, with no idea what they were supposed to you. You basically had to read minds and take your best guess at what would get you yelled at or not.

    2. Detective Amy Santiago*

      This is pretty much the exact comment I was coming here to leave. I had a boss like this in the past as well.

    3. Doreen*

      Hi! She’s been with the organization for almost a year. I’m working on her annual. She did this a little bit in the beginning but it has really ramped up the longer she’s here.
      I am going to talk to her about this behavior and not document it in the evaluation. Instead, I’ll record it in notes of the meeting for follow-up, if needed.

      1. MuseumChick*

        I think that is a solid plan! I think as long as you keep your tone light and maybe, even give her what to do instead. For example, “I’ve noticed that you like to give a lot of detailed updates on projects. Going forward, I would like updates every X time frame, giving the broad strokes.”

      2. Thankful for AAM*

        It took me quite a while to get over the poor habits I developed to cope with a micromanaging, bait and switch manager.

        My current manager said more than once, I trust you to do your job. If she had not, it likely would have taken me much longer to even realize what I was doing.

        I needed her to say it to help me see yet another way I was using the bad skills and to ease me into trusting she really did not need constant updates or give me permission to talk to other staff, etc.

      3. Akcipitrokulo*

        Sounds like a good plan – she’s lucky to have that feedback and thoughtfulness.

      4. CM*

        Annual review is a great opportunity to bring this up, and I’m glad you’re not going to put it in her evaluation since she probably doesn’t realize she’s doing anything wrong. Instead, you can present it as an area of improvement that you’d like her to work on — you could say that as she’s maturing in the organization, you want her to know that you trust her to do her work, and you’d like her to do it more independently. And then go into the specifics that Alison brings up about when and how she should check in with you, and when she shouldn’t.

    4. Doctor Schmoctor*

      Three of my managers were like that. They told me to take responsibility for projects, and then went to meetings with the clients without telling me, and making changes to my work. And then they still got angry that I didn’t “take ownership” of what was basically THEIR projects.

  14. Luna*

    “Two resigning employees asked me to fudge their sick leave”
    Immediate response: “No.”
    There isn’t even anything to discuss. You will not fudge things around, and possibly cause long-term consequences for yourself and/or the company, by doing this. I don’t care how good of an employee someone is, it isn’t happening.

    LW #5, you can call the police and inform them of a noise disturbance. Especially past midnight. Even if you do it anonymously, there is a chance the director will know, or heavily suspect, it was you. But that doesn’t change the fact that loud parties and music past certain times are not okay in terms of legal areas. Maybe a little shake that his behavior has/will have consequences if he doesn’t knock it off will lead to a difference.

    1. OP5*

      I’ve been advised against that. He’s actually quite likely to block me from shifts and my manager really needs me as I am the only other person in our department that knows all the talks. He’s blocked people in our department before – he can’t fire us directly because he isn’t our direct manager, but he can stop the manager from giving us shifts.

      1. MCL*

        This guy sounds like a total tool. Is there a manager above him you can go to? He sounds like a vindictive jerk who’s drunk with power.

      2. Trek*

        Then make it clear to your manager that this has to be dealt with or is going to lose you, either by having shifts blocked, by you calling off when you can’t sleep, or because you will quit. You can’t be valuable and expendable at the same time. Your manager needs to step up and become the ‘bad guy’ in this situation and decide they are not willing to deal with the music either and if needed start reporting director to police to have it resolved.

        On a side note, too many times in these situations people say ‘I can’t call off the animals/my manager need me.’ But the truth is if you had to leave town for an emergency or stopped showing up they would have to find a way to deal with it. Don’t let that be the reason you do not ask for something as reasonable as being able to sleep at night.

      3. Luna*

        That would be retaliation, is illegal, and opens himself (and the workplace) up for a very quick open-and-shut case where he is in the wrong.

        1. Observer*

          Nope. Unfortunately.

          Retaliation is only illegal when you are dealing with certain illegal behavior. So, if the Jerk Boss were harassing someone because of their religion, and the OP pushed back, that would be illegal. But just being an abusive bully of a boss? That’s legal.

    2. WS*

      If you live in a very rural area, this is not likely to get any results, though! Once I did it when there was a really loud party and fortunately there’d been a burglary in my town so the cops happened to be there, but this is rare.

  15. Just a thought...*

    LW1 – everyone is going down a “probably had a micromanager in the past”, but I see myself in your employee and I think the “very chatty about lunch etc” is linked. For me, it was crippling low self-esteem, social anxiety and loneliness. I craved people just to *validate me*. So, I phoned a client, call went well, I had to *tell* someone (proving I wasn’t a total f***-up that I believed everyone else *obviously* thought I was). I did some work, but the inner self-esteem voice was like: “are you suuure? Better check with someone actually competent.” Talking about totally random non-work things til eyes glaze over was part of dealing the isolation I felt, and like, these people I work with… urgh, it’s difficult to explain. Like, maybe if I can show them what an interesting, fun and pleasant person I am, they’ll like me more? I don’t know how to explain it, social anxiety makes you weird.

    So, I have no answers, but just be aware it might be a “I need validation you see me as a competent coworker” thing. If you stick entirely to Alison’s script it might end up backfiring as “oh, boss doesn’t want me bothering them at all and just get on with my work silently. Ok. I’ve f***ed up, AGAIN, and everyone hates me. Right. Well. Best just get this work done and quietly acknowledge I’m the worst person in all humanity, as I always knew I was.”

    …..just me, huh? ;)

    1. Doreen*

      Hi, OP here.
      I do think it could be a little of both. She can be socially awkward. You know the people who put ‘lol’ at the end of every text? She laughs at the end of every sentence she speaks even if it’s not funny and it’s off putting for a lot of her coworkers. I do think she might have lower self esteem. When she comes to me about things she is normally on the right path.

      Despite some of her social awkwardness she is doing a great job in her day to day work. I have her first annual evaluation coming up so hopefully telling her all the good things in addition to saying hey, I trust you will help.

      1. JJ Bittenbinder*

        You seem like a very caring manager. I saw your other reply about not documenting this in her written review but talking to her about it. I think that’s very kind.

        I’d be explicit with her about what good looks like for you in this regard. “I trust that you’re doing things correctly and are on the right path. I think an update would be what works best for us.”

      2. Just a thought...*

        Awww, great!! I also found trying my manager purposely moving the “am I doing the right things/ am I totally screwing up?” discussions to a monthly 1-1 helped me. Included positive feedback, clear direction, and future development, etc. 1-1 meetings in my company are half performance, and half the personal side of direct management (how are you getting on? what are you struggling with, can I help you? Are you managing a good work/life balance?) – it helped me feel supported and valued, while giving me the confidence to do my job without personally needing such frequent validation. I’m not saying it’s fixed my anxiety and self-esteem issues, but it definitely massively reduced their impact on my day-to-day job! (I still talk too often. And ramble. Like in forum comment threads…….)

        1. Akcipitrokulo*

          I think one of the main things that helped in coming to non-toxic job was the standard, fortnightly 1-1 meetings. And the way AwesomeBoss dealt with them – making sure he said what he was pleased with, and making sure I had space to say how I was finding things.

          If you have the time, then regular 1-1s are such a help!

          1. Oh So Anon*

            +1. Sometimes standing 1-on-1s need to be as often as weekly, but they’re a really huge help not only for managers but also for direct reports who need to learn which details are more important than others. I’ve had many AwesomeBosses who’ve used these meetings effectively, but I’ve also had a LessAwesomeBoss who really wanted to restrict dialogue to scheduled 1-on-1s, which backfired in the way that Just a thought… described. It’s all a matter of approach – just make sure the employee doesn’t feel like you’re trying to get them out of your hair.

            1. Akcipitrokulo*

              AwesomeBoss often said “this is your time… what do you want to disscuss?”

      3. Pickwick*

        I think if the low self esteem is the case, then when you have that conversation be sure to tell her that she’s doing a good job. Not just a “please don’t tell me what you’re doing every minute and I trust you”, but more of a “you’ve consistently shown good judgement and you’re doing a great job. I know I can trust you to get it right going forward, and I don’t need to know the small details.”.

        I’d also be wary that after having the conversation, your employee could swing too far the other way, and keep you out of the loop on something you really need to be aware of (I speak from experience on this point). In this case, I’d make sure you give her concrete examples of things she should be telling you about, as well as examples of what she doesn’t need to et you know, so she knows where the parameters are.

    2. Observer*

      So, what would work in a case like yours? What would help you dial it down?

      That’s a serious question. What the OP describes is not tenable. Yes, it can be reasonable to manage one person more closely than others for whatever reason, but the level here is just not reasonable or realistic. It doesn’t sound like hinting is going to work either if Chatty is like you – Either Chatty is going to miss the hint or she’s going to over-react anyway.

      1. Observer*

        Whoops. I missed your reply.

        The scheduled 1 – on – 1’s sound like a really good idea.

  16. sheworkshardforthemoney*

    LW Fudging the sick leave can be considered fraud and be a fire-able offence. Not really worth it for two part-time people who won’t be around for the fallout when the fraud is discovered. At worst, they have to pay monies back and you end up without a job.

  17. Snowball*

    #3 – I would move to the city you want to work in, find a roommate (are any of your college friends moving to same city that you could live with?) or sublet, and apply for jobs AND look for a part time job to tide you over until you find one (such as a restaurant or retail). By working part time you’ll have some funds coming in while you look, and you’ll also likely have a schedule that lets you interview before or after your shifts or on your days off

    1. Overeducated*

      Yeah, subletting a room and applying for part time pay the bills jobs is how a lot of us from small towns got by while job searching in cities. But you do need enough savings to pay the sublet for a couple months just in case (I did this in fall 2008, the restaurant/retail scene wasn’t even an instant job source), and I’m sure even a sublet costs twice as much 10 years on, so that may be advice for the more privileged….

    2. EPLawyer*

      If they want to work in DC, there are millions of rooms to rent, from a room in a home to a whole basement. Not just in DC but the surrounding areas. I lived in a rented basement (allllll mine) for law school. Craigslist is your friend here. Take your time to check them out though. There are scams out there. Or you will be living with a bunch of people in a one bathroom, kitchenette, two bedroom basement.

      1. Smithy*

        If the OP is coming from Alaska – I’d actually recommend going through Airbnb. Either for the first week or so or perhaps even for as long as a month.

        Going the Craigslist route really does mean being on the ground to look at and vet situations. And should the OP have no friends/family to crash with while looking for housing, Airbnb would offer immediate furnished short term housing that’s been somewhat vetted.

        1. Emily K*

          Yep, I rent an AirBnB apartment in my basement in a close-in suburb of DC, and a lot of my guests are 2-4 week stays who are moving here from somewhere else and need time to find a place – or they’ve sold their house and are buying a new one, but need to be out of their old home before they can move into the new one. They can have their things in storage while they’re staying in my furnished place and just schedule one move to their permanent new place instead of moving and unpacking a whole apartment only to pack it up, move a couple miles across town, and unpack all over again just a few weeks later.

        2. Technology policy expert*

          If OP is from a school like UPenn or Swarthmore, there is likely a mailing list of DC-based alums. Dollars to donuts that 75% of the postings to that list are for apartments.

    3. Jennifer*

      A part time restaurant job isn’t going to cover half the rent in DC. I hope one of the jobs he’s already applied for pans out. If not, I’d go back home, get a job, keep applying for policy jobs, and save money to move to DC in a year or so.

  18. Holly*

    #3 – Depending what kinds of jobs you’re looking for being from Alaska might actually be an asset. I’d make it clear in your cover letter you’re willing to relocate to D.C. and why.

    #4 – I’m assuming the President has an admin or executive assistant. Raise this with them! Things might move a lot faster.

    1. No Mas Pantalones*

      Please don’t ask the admin. We should not be tasked with collecting gambling debts.

      1. Holly*

        That’s not at all how my office or our admins would view this. Often offices run fantasy football or for march madness brackets. Clearly this is office sanctioned if it’s between high level executives, and often admins or executive assistants help with not-strictly-work tasks. I suppose it’s a “know your office” or even “know your admin” situation.

        1. No Mas Pantalones*

          I’ve got over 20 years experience as an admin in a vast array of industries. I’ve never been asked to organize or manage sports brackets or things of that ilk. I’m fine with some personal stuff for my bosses; I’ll get him cars for non-work events (on his personal card), arranging travel for his vacations, or other things that fall within the admin lines.

          Of course, I also draw hard boundaries between work and personal stuff. I don’t talk about much of anything personal at work. Coworkers and bosses do not need to know if/who I’m dating, what I’m doing on the weekends, or any of my out-of-work activities. If my boss wants his car washed now and again, fine–I’ll drive his Porche/Jaguar/Whatever and express my glee at doing so (which generally shuts that task right down). Anything more personal is on him.

          1. Holly*

            I’ll refer back to my prior comment that it’s a “know your office” and “know your admin” situation.

  19. boo bot*

    The sick leave issue gives me two thoughts (three, if you count general grumblings about labor conditions, but I’ll leave that aside):

    1. Obviously, don’t do it (but definitely try to help Tyrion get his leave paid retroactively).

    2. It seems really serious to me that Tyrion was able to take so much time off sick and NOT use his sick time – that should never have been the default option in a workplace that had the time available. I don’t mean legally – I’m sure it’s legal – but if someone is out sick, and the supervisor in charge of sick leave knows they’re out sick, why isn’t it automatically marked that way?

    I’m wondering if this is in NYC or somewhere else that’s newly requiring sick leave for jobs that don’t traditionally have it in the US, so the system still has some kinks? Because I can see asking Tryion, “So, you were out sick for two weeks… do you want me to log that as sick time?” in that context as having an unintentional chilling effect.

    Basically, I would consider a policy that makes sick time opt-out instead of opt-in (i.e., not marking it down if he asked not to use it because he was going to need it for surgery or appointments in the future, rather than because he didn’t respond to an email or something.)

    1. doreen ( not the op)*

      Because it’s a part-time job , there are ways employees might handle being out sick without actually taking sick leave. It seems from the OP’s description ( irregular schedule. other employee wants to be scheduled for extra shifts so she can call in sick) that this might be the sort of job where Tyrion being out sick for several weeks might have amounted to him being out a few days (say two days a week for three weeks) and he could arrange for someone to cover if he knew it would be this long ( like after surgery). If it was that sort of situation , the OP may not have known he was sick until after the fact – it wouldn’t have required Tyrion to call in sick and would have looked exactly like he got people to cover to take a three week unpaid vacation.

      1. boo bot*

        Thanks! I think I wasn’t totally clear in my meaning, I actually do understand the mechanics of the situation, but the reason that covering shifts like that is the norm is because this kind of job doesn’t usually offer sick time at all.

        I think if they’re going to offer it, they have to do it in a way that enables people to use it – which may mean allowing people to submit it retroactively, because of the dynamic you describe (which I think is unlikely to change).

        1. doreen (not the op)*

          It’s that and it’s also to save sick leave for when the employee feels it’s more necessary – I actually had a part-time job over 30 years ago that gave us a day or two of sick leave. I wouldn’t have used it for absences that I could have arranged coverage for – I used it for days I woke up too sick to go to work. TBH, if I wanted to get paid for my sick leave when I left that job, I just would have called in sick a day or two – where I think these two go over the line is by bringing the manager into it. If you call in sick twice between April and say June, it’s entirely possible that no one would think twice about it – but telling the manager/asking to be scheduled for extra shifts means the manager has to either assist you or refuse to assist you. There’s no longer the possibility of not knowing what you’re doing.

    2. LW 2*

      Making the default option opt out instead of opt in is a great suggestion for avoiding this in the future. Unless there’s any HR issue I’d really like to do this going forward. Thank you for the suggestion!

      1. nonymous*

        The other thing you can do for staff that return seasonally is ask for their unused sick leave to be credited to them when they come back. So if people leave for summer adventures but pick up again in fall, they could start their next period of employment with some X hours in the sick leave bank.

        This is a really cheap way to build institutional knowledge and stability if your company relies on seasonal workers.

    3. Thankful for AAM*

      Why would you have to take sick leave? it could just be you don’t work, you dont get paid.

      1. boo bot*

        It could be, and often is, but in this case it’s not – they explicitly do have paid sick leave, which Tyrion didn’t use when he was sick.

        1. dste*

          Right, but this workplace still seems to have an option of unpaid sick leave, and that’s what Tyrion chose to do last fall. (Or defaulted to doing.) Why he did that is a bit of an interesting question–is it because he thought he could use his sick time more strategically later? Between Brienne and Tyrion, it does sound like the OP might wish to be clearer how sick time works with her employees.

    4. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I worked somewhere that offered paid sick time, but you had to specify “I want to use my paid sick time for today.” There was some loophole in the paid sick time law (CA) that required the sick time be requested for by name at the time you’d be using it. If you did not, even if you called in and said, “I am dizzy and nauseous and have a 104 fever and COUGHCOUGHCOUGH a sore throat, I am too ill to work,” you would not get your sick time…because you did not explicitly request it. Saved the company a ton of money but made me angry.

      1. One of the Sarahs*

        That’s brutal. I hope who ever thought up that loophole gets some karmic comeuppance.

      2. Chriama*

        I suspect that’s actually not legal. Companies offering benefits over and above what the law requires can be held responsible for those benefits by the DoL. So offering a benefit with a bad-faith policy like that would be as punishable as offering a benefit in your employee handbook but not allowing people to actually use it. Of course, that would require people with the knowledge, time, energy and evidence to raise such a complaint to the relevant government agency, so I’m not surprised that they got away with it.

  20. Anon-Today*

    LW 3, I got a DC job with a phone interview from Texas. I have had a federal job interview that was a phone-only interview, but I lost out to an internal candidate.

    So… since you do have the option to live at home, all may not be lost. It depends on the agency. Most people in DC are from somewhere else, and in my experience people there are in general very open-minded about “outsiders.”

    1. Tigger*

      This ^
      I grew up in DC. My parents are from New England, our neighbors are from the Mid West, we have a few neighbors from the south. None of my childhood friends have parents are from DC. I lovingly call it the transplant city. Seriously, watch a Washington Football game or a Nats game- most likely at least 25% are cheering for the away team because that is where they grew up.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Price out & total up the costs of a sublet *AND* the costs of getting to & from DC from Philly.
      Price out the cost of two or three trips to DC from your hometown — include housing if you’re not able to crash on a friend’s sofa for 4 nights, and transportation.
      Which is less expensive?
      If two or three trips is cheaper, include that you plan to “travelling to the area for personal reasons” and could schedule to the hiring manager’s convenience with X days’ notice. (I know nothing about the realities of travelling to&from AK so I don’t know if that’s possible.)
      Also consider looking for a “room for let” in the suburbs — I did that for a few weeks when I first got to Silicon Valley after college. One room in a private house, nice neighborhood so on-street parking wasn’t a worry, older landlady who lived on-site and only one other renter so the place stayed quiet, limited kitchen access but manageable. I rented a safety-deposit box for a few things I was worried about losing if someone forgot to lock the outside door.

  21. PieInTheBlueSky*

    #3: I wonder if OP3 is applying for a federal government job. Are fed jobs allowed to prioritize candidates by their location, in the same way a private sector employer might? I know nothing about this.

  22. Jennifer*

    #1 Why haven’t you just told her the updates aren’t needed? I’m confused. As I read the letter I was expecting to see that you’d tried talking to her but it didn’t go over well. I get that it’s annoying but you are her boss. If this is affecting how she is viewed by others at work and she seems blissfully unaware, it’s your job to talk to her about it. I feel a little sorry for her.

    1. Doreen*

      I went back and looked and I did mention at her 6 month evaluation that she should be making low risk decisions on her own and come to me with more involved decisions that require involvement from other departments. I provided specific examples of things she came to me about that she didn’t need to and I gave her examples of situations where I need to be involved. It was documented previously just worded more kindly which could have led to some ambiguity where she’s not sure.

  23. Part Time Poet*

    #3. You could also get a Google phone/text number and see if you can choose an area code that is close to the area you want to work. You are not required to put your current address on your resume. I only put my phone number and email address. That way you are eliminating any upfront location bias.

    1. AnonyMouse*

      Came here to suggest leaving your address off your resume. It’s becoming less common for people to list it because it’s not really essential contact info. I’ve been starting to experiment with having my phone number, email address, and a link to my LinkedIN page in my header instead of my address. I’m also trying to relocate, though I’m only 1.5 hours from where I’m searching.

    2. Holly*

      I think that’s a little strange – it’s definitely going to come up (I would actually see it being a point of interest like wow! You’re from Alaska!), and they’re going to wonder why OP can’t just come in for a quick interview if OP has a D.C. number. I’ve always been advised to just be clear right up top in the cover letter that you’re definitely relocating and why.

      1. Technology policy expert*

        I disagree strongly with this, too. Get the DC phone number now. For someone in the last weeks of college, it’s probably fair to say you’re not in DC, but in general, I would not affirmatively highlight information that shows you’re elsewhere. Leave out the Alaska/Pennsylvania address.

  24. I don't post often*

    OP1 & OP3– OP1 – My first job was with a micromanaging boss that expected his staff of 13 to report exactly how your employee is reporting. He was often in a different office. He did not have an email address, so we were to fax him updates. The fax machines in all offices hummed alllll day long. I’m 10 years away from that job. I just broke the urge to tell my manager every little thing about two years ago. I’ll never forget my first manager after that job giving me a look that said, “You know what to do, why aren’t you just doing it?” I’ve spoken with other co-workers from that first job (many of us worked there just out of college), and we all had to “retrain” our brains. I’d be curious to know if your employee worked in a similar environment. Not that it is helpful to you, but it might be something to keep in mind.

    OP3- There are organizations in DC that specifically offer short-term somewhat low cost housing to interns/ intern-like positions. Google “intern housing in DC”. I understand you aren’t an intern/ might not want an internship, but if you graduate without a job and really want to work in policy, interning in DC is a good way to get a job. You may be unpaid, but if you can find housing for the summer this is a good option. I did this, and several *cough cough* years later I’m still friends and network with the interns at met through my housing program. A great many graduates find jobs while interning in DC because they were in the right office at the right time, met someone at a cocktail hour, heard of a job opening through a friend,etc. I’m sure you know how fierce the competition is. If you want an entry level policy job, being in DC is the best way to be there. Summer is a great transition time. There is plenty of work to be done, but also many staffers expect interns to be in the city, and I think everyone is a bit more open to helping them find positions and networking.

    1. Clisby*

      A couple of the universities there will rent unused dorm space to summer interns.

    2. Technology policy expert*

      Ha, well, then again, I had the worst housing experience of my life in DC intern housing. Roommate, who was ostensibly from a Good School, was a serial sexual harrasser and (I am not making this up) literally broke into a house where there was a loud party going on, asked if “Melinda” was there, and used this as a pretext to hook up.

      My own preference if I were a recent grad would be to find a group of friends moving to DC and sublet something.

  25. Queen_of_Comms*

    Oooh, I had an employee just like OP #1. Every half hour, she was standing at my office door with a petty update. She was the kind of person who could have a conversation without any input from the other person, so I learned that acting disinterested and replying with answers no more complex than “Hm” wouldn’t work. I eventually had a conversation similar to the one Alison suggested. It curbed the behavior, but did not eliminate it.

    She eventually transferred to another department that sits in our suite. I see her doing the same thing to her new supervisor with renewed gusto.

  26. Cat*

    If I was from Alaska and looking for work in D.C., I’d look for places like Interior where being from Alaska gives you a certain cachet.

    1. Technology policy expert*

      This depends a little if OP wants a political appointment or a career civil service role. (It sounds like the former.) But congressional committees with oversight of public lands or energy or what not, yes.

  27. NicoleK*

    #1 Sometimes it’s a past experience with a micromanager. And sometimes the employee just needs and wants recognition, assurance, and validation all the time. It’s much easier to correct the behavior of an employee with a past micromanager.

  28. Bopper*

    Can you say “Oh, I am not saying you can’t listen to music…of course! But could you get some headphones? I can’t get to sleep.”

    or maybe get a White Noise App or Bose white noise earbuds.

    1. OP5*

      Yep that was what I said and he just said that the had these incredible speakers and was going to use them

  29. JSPA*

    In many places (unless laws have changed since this was in the news a few years ago) sports brackets and pools are formally illegal, are of dubious legality, or are legal can only be handled by licensed betting concerns.

    While it’s vanishingly rare for anybody to be prosecuted over this, and I don’t know if I’ve ever worked someplace where there wasn’t a pool for some sport, the big boss could very reasonably want no paper trail or email trail of their participation.

    Talk to the guy in person and take payment in cash.

    1. Drax*

      A lot of office leagues have a disclaimer you have to sign saying it’s not a formal betting pool, but an informal pool within friends which operates with no association to Company and no legal repercussion possible within the members yadda yadda yadda. But I am in Canada so it may be different in the states.

      Or at least my offices made us when money and sports were involved. They also were required to have at least one third women in order to proceed which was awesome because historically they’d assume the women weren’t interested but most of us knew more about sports then half the guys in the pool.

  30. No Mas Pantalones*

    #4 – I doubt you’ll get very far with being reimbursed, no matter how you pursue. In my 20+ years of experience, a lot of execs feel entitled to participate in activities without paying and/or are incredibly cheap with their own money. Due to what I’ve seen in my years (and I’ve seen a lot), I disagree with Alison. I think this dude is purposely dodging the payment. I also think you should accept that you’ll never see that $50.

    As for the upcoming season, you have a few options:
    1) Make it clear that participation requires payment up front. Make an excel with all prospective participants and categories for payment, step one (whatever that is), blah blah. Check off things as they come in. Make sure to include an updated copy on every group email to the league. Hang a copy in your office/cube. It’s a good way to be “organized” and “keep track of things” which is what you tell people when they balk at being rightly named and shamed.
    2) When the president expresses interest in joining again, tell him his fee is $100 this year, due to nonpayment of last year’s fees. Expect this to be met with indignation, which may or may not reflect in your ongoing treatment in your actual work-related job.
    4) Give up ownership. Tell the usual participants that you can’t manage this year. You don’t need to give a reason, but should someone demand one, I’ve got a lot of personal stuff going on right now. Then offer nothing more. Maybe someone takes it up, maybe someone doesn’t. Not your problem.
    5) End it. Don’t have one.

    And for the love of all that is holy, please do not approach the president’s admin to intervene to recover your loss (which is what it is; time to accept it). An admin’s job is to assist with company related tasks, not recover gambling debts. If you DO ask the admin, expect that item to take VERY low priority; like so low that it consistently remains as the bottom of the list until it eventually falls off altogether. The admin’s priority is the president; he’s above you in the food chain and she works for him. And if the admin is anything like me, she’ll never forget that you asked her to bring up something so wildly inappropriate with the man who has ownership of her yearly review and paycheck that it comes back to bite you–hard. Do not poke the three bears: IT, the receptionist, and the admin. We can make or break you.

    1. CM*

      If I were OP#4, I’d stop asking for now, but for next year I’d require that everyone pay upfront and tell the president his fee is $100, $50 from last year and $50 for this year. Don’t let them sign up until they have paid. You can do this in a matter-of-fact way without being adversarial — you must already be giving people details like, “Here’s how you sign up, do it by this date,” etc. so just add in “The fee is $50, here’s how you send it to me, and I’ll register you after I receive your fee. If you didn’t pay last year, the fee is $100 to cover both years.”

      1. JSPA*

        I like this. (Presumably OP actually enjoys the pool and the human interaction involved, and is not looking to get out of it.)

      1. No Mas Pantalones*

        :-) I’m too old and have been doing this too long to put up with this crap.

  31. LaDeeDa*

    #1 – Before telling her to stop giving constant updates, I would try to find out what her motivation is. Does she need lots of validation? Is she looking for guidance/reassurance that she is doing the right thing? Is she just trying to connect with you? Is she trying to sound like she is super busy and important? Maybe she wishes she had a team member to collaborate with. Maybe she just likes to hear herself talk. Once you understand the reasons for what she is doing, it will help you correct it in a way that is giving her something she needs.

  32. Alfonzo Mango*

    3. It is so much easier and cheaper to stay than to move and then have to go back. I think you best bet (though there is never a guarantee) is to rent as cheaply as possible, and try to make/continue your life on the East coast.

  33. DNDL*

    RE: Alaska,

    If it makes you feel better, my very very very small nonprofit in the DC area hired someone from Alaska about a year ago. We knew that meant that we would have to wait like a full two months before she could start since she had to move (including driving cars from Alaska to DC!), but we hired her anyway because she was the best person for the job.

    Depending on the size of the org, you may not get relocation reimbursement. Just throwing that out there–you might be funding an expensive move on your own. However, you will most likely find a job if you are the most qualified candidate. We were strapped for coverage, but still waited for the candidate best suited for the position!

  34. Sharkbait*

    #1 — I would also see if she thinks you WANT these updates. My current boss wants this kind of granular update and detail, and likes to be consulted on every small decision, even though he’s not actively micromanaging. (He is silently unhappy when I am not interrupting him with questions or updates 10-15 times a day.) It’s an odd style, but I know that when I eventually leave, it’s going to be hard to shake the habit of reporting every little thing I do, since I had to take 6 months to shake my former style of “ask for help when I need it, solve as many problems as I can on my own.”

  35. Oranges*

    #5) Make whomever’s responsible for him feel the pain. Music man sounds like he’s on a power trip and won’t change. His boss should feel the pain of this then. Use your sick leave because you had insomnia due to the music. Because it’s true.

    NOTHING will completely collapse because you do so. The work might get done shoddily but unless we’re talking about lives in danger then let it get done shoddily. This is a direct consequence of Music man’s boss not managing him. Which is their JOB.

    1. Oranges*

      PS. Yes this is kinda a nuclear option. But I have found that if I cover for people then nothing changes. If I pass the pain up the ladder then magic happens.

  36. Jamie*

    I’ve worked with a few people like that with one exception they really enjoyed collaborative work.

    I assumed their constant communication when working on individual assignments was related to that…not like they were doing that on purpose but they approached everything from a collaboration standpoint first.

    The exception had a micromanaging boss in her past and so she was erring on the side of oversharing because that was always required and was happy when could stop.

  37. DC/NY*

    OP 3 – I work in the policy space (formerly in DC, since relocated). I’m happy to chat with you to see if any of my networks might be helpful.

    1. OP3*

      Hi there! Thank you so much for the offer, this is super generous of you! What’s the best way for me to contact you?

      1. DC/NY*

        Hopefully you’re still checking this! shoot me an email – kmelegalerts at gmail

  38. Interviewer*

    #5 – My dad spent a summer on an oil rig, and told me about a team taking care of a bad boss, someone who made life awful for everyone by being a jerk and didn’t care about anyone else. We all enjoy stories of comeuppance in the updates here, but serving a bit of mob justice to this boss could result in losing both a job and a place to live. I’d try ear plugs, fans & white noise for a while.

    For some strange reason, I’m remembering the lawn maintenance company who showed up at 6:30 this morning to mow the neighbor’s yard. It’s supposed to rain later today, so I understand they wanted to get an early start, but 6:30 am is really early to fire up a commercial mower. Especially after I stayed up late bingewatching DS9 on Netflix. It was a painful wakeup call. Hmmm.

    Good luck, OP5!

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Could that even be illegally early? I know that in my city, construction noise is only allowed between certain (reasonable) hours.

  39. Brett*

    “Sick time is different from vacation time in that it’s intended as a safety net for times when you’re actually sick; that’s why it doesn’t typically get paid out when people leave.”

    Might be worth nothing that the public sector experience is the opposite. Vacation is typically not paid when people leave (PTO sometimes is), but sick time must be paid at its full current value, even if it was earned 40 years ago. Unused sick time can be placed into a 457(b) plan (as well as a 403(b)) at termination of employment as deferred income.

  40. Traveler Kate*

    OP2, I’m just left here wondering why don’t your company give part-timers vacation days? That’s just awful and if it did, this whole situation could’ve avoided. I can’t really say anything relating to this specific matter with those two specific coworkers, but some vacation time (which is proportionally less than full-time staff’s), would be something to consider in the future for part-time employees.

  41. Payroll person*

    OP2- it’s unusual for retroactive sick pay to happen when it’s further back than the calendar year or fiscal quarter, since it’s so far back. Technically the pay would trigger a second W2 for last year, creating the need for the company and the employee to resubmit their taxes. It’s pretty unlikely that the payroll folks will be able or willing to do that since this isn’t a ‘person wasn’t paid’ situation so much as a ‘person didn’t take advantage of a benefit over 8 months ago’ situation.

    Most companies have managers approve time sheets and you can usually enter sick leave for the employee, or ask your Payroll or HR team to help, when someone calls out sick. To keep yourself in good standing, only do so when they call off sick for scheduled shifts, and only for the time they were scheduled to work. You sound like you might be a newer manager, so know that if you feel you should do something it’s (like with the sick leave here) it’s better to ask at the time rather than not ask- worst case is the answer is no.

    It’s very sad that the US doesn’t offer paid vacation leave for all employees, and only recently has added paid sick leave in some states and cities. I don’t know where you’re located, or what your company policies are, but you may also want to review those things too, and make sure your part time staff understands the payroll and leave rules for your company. Maybe ask your HR or payroll person to come to a team meeting to answer questions? Sometimes we don’t know what our team doesn’t understand until they tell us.

  42. Commish*

    I’m fascinated by OP4, because there’s an underappreciated background discussion there to be had about the role of fantasy sports in an office setting in the first place.

    As a fantasy football enthusiast who has been playing in excess of 20 years at this point, I have strong opinions about the best way(s) to structure/lead/participate in a league — and some of those opinions are antithetical to the best way(s) to manage office relationships, because the whole enterprise has some level of conflict of interest to it. (e.g. Do I swindle the boss in a trade if I can get away with it because it makes my team better, just like I would competitors in any other league, or do I soft-pedal my efforts to win to avoid hurt feelings? Do we write a league constitution upfront to cover things like when payment is due, or does that turn a would-be morale-boosting communal activity into too serious an endeavor? Should a work league be a paid league in the first place? Should Gary in accounting who never sets his lineup be disinvited, or will that cause interoffice tension?)

    The point is, without even answering any of those questions, the purpose of the league’s existence has to be clarified in a way that would not be true if your office wasn’t institutionalizing a piece of outside entertainment for purposes of employee bonding — and whatever answer your office chooses to give will have a lot to do with how strenuously you should or should not push on recouping $50.

  43. Caramel & Cheddar*

    Re: #4 this won’t help for this year, but I’ve run a number of pools at work in the past and one of the things I’ve always done is make payment optional with the stipulation that if you didn’t give me your payment by a certain date, you wouldn’t receive the winnings if you won the pool. (The next highest ranking person who did pay would get the money instead.)

    I take the “payment optional” route because there are so many reasons someone might want to participate in a pool but may not be interested in paying for the enjoyment of doing so (e.g. it’s not in their budget, they have religious reasons, it removes the component that might feel like gambling, etc.). I think in the entire time I’ve had this approach, only two or three people have opted out of the paying, so it’s never been a deterrent to anyone and has also resulted in people participating where they may not have in the past.

    1. JSPA*

      Even more brilliant! And it gets rid of the creeps who prevail on people who know nothing about the sport to participate, because they want that extra money in the pool. Loathsome feeling of being rushed on the clear presumption that you’re both ignorant (true) and an idiot who won’t figure out what’s going down (hell no) and that you’ll probably go along to keep the peace and get them to shut up (yeah, sometimes).

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      This league is only for an inner circle though – the upper levels, and lower level people who they like enough to invite in, so it sounds like they actively want to limit participation from the get-go. Which is what makes stiffing the less well paid OP husband even more egregious.

  44. Purple Jello*

    #4 – How does this work: was the missing $50 paid out to the winner from your pocket? or is the winner still waiting for their last $50?

  45. km85*

    To LW #3 – I have relocated for work twice, once 1,500 miles and once 100.

    One thing that has helped me get these jobs is to state explicitly in my cover letter that I’m looking for a relocation opportunity.

    If you’re able to schedule a brief trip to Philadelphia, that would also REALLY help compensate for being non-local. Then in your cover letter, after saying you’re looking for a relocation opportunity, add, “and I will be in Philadelphia conducting my job search between [dates]. I would welcome the opportunity to interview with you if you are available during that time.” It shows that you’re really serious, because without any commitment from potential employers, you’re taking a huge amount of initiative.

    Good luck! Please submit an update in a few months!

  46. Nobody Nowhere*

    #3, could you sign up with a temp agency or get a part-time job that pays the rent while you search for a job in your field? I have the feeling that if you go back to Alaska you’re going to end up staying there.

  47. Panic*

    #4) I wouldn’t worry about bringing it up. Easiest solution is to just forget it for now and have him pay $100 this summer when the league starts collecting entry fees for next year. Also a good idea to implement a league-wide rule that anyone who hasn’t paid by week 2 of the season won’t be permitted to make any trades or moves until they’re in good financial standing. Or you could go heavy and not allow anyone to draft that hasn’t paid the entry fee. That should encourage everyone to pay up without specifically addressing any one person.

  48. Oh So Anon*

    LW #1: Another thing to think about, if it makes sense for your team, is to have some type of project tracking tool where the team can enter status updates about each of their projects. If part of the issue is that your employee is just really into minutae in a way that most people aren’t, this is a way of helping her feel like she’s doing her due diligence without unnecessarily taking up other people’s time.

  49. Working Mom Having It All*

    OP #3 – the main problem with using a Mailboxes Etc address (or friend’s address), getting a Google Voice number, or otherwise making it look like you are local to DC when you actually live in Alaska is … what are you going to do when you get an interview?

    The reason most companies don’t want to hire people who aren’t local for entry level jobs is that they’re usually looking to fill those jobs quickly and with a minimum of fuss. I’m currently interviewing for a job that’s not entry level, and I heard that I was progressing to an in-person interview on Friday for an interview scheduled for this morning. Unless you’re made out of money, how would you travel from Alaska to DC on basically no notice? What would happen if you got a second interview and needed to fly back to DC 2 or 3 weeks later? Needless to say, if you’ve been acting like you’re a DC local, the company isn’t going to pay to fly you out from Alaska. Nor are they likely to pay to relocate you if you get the job, or to schedule your start date a month or so out so that you have time to move. They’re going to want someone who, at maximum, has to give two weeks notice at their current job.

    The only thing you really have going for you as an entry level job candidate is flexibility. If you’re applying from Alaska while hoping employers think you’re really living in DC, you’ve just eliminated what is probably your only real transferable “skill”. While everyone else applying for the job still has that going for them.

  50. Light37*

    #3- As an Alaskan who moved to DC for work, I strongly recommend being down here when you job hunt. Alaska is willing to hire from Outside because we frequently have a dearth of candidates. The reverse is not the case, and being in the area makes it a lot easier, especially for an entry level position.
    As far as finding housing goes, do you know anyone who can do the legwork for you in checking places out? I did it for a friend who was coming down on sabbatical. Also, don’t overlook religious housing. Centro Maria DC, Rosary House, and Casa Sacri Cuori all offer housing for young working women, and I believe there are equivalents for men. I lived at Centro for six years, though I am neither Catholic nor Christian, and I had few to no problems on that score. I think the oddest thing that happened was being asked to write the Christmas play one year! I had a single room with shared bath, plus two meals a day. There are refrigerators on each floor where you can keep food, and they saved dinner for you if you asked them to.

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