employee’s boyfriend keeps making her late for work, seriously ill employee who’s making mistakes, and more

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

1. Employee’s boyfriend keeps making her late for work

I manage an employee, who does good work. She is dating a colleague in another division. This is fine in principle as our company has no policy on dating coworkers and they work in different departments. Over the past two months or so, my employee has been late for work nearly every day, by up to 20 minutes. I asked her about this in a one-on-one meeting and she got a bit flustered. It turned out she’d recently moved in with her boyfriend, she drives him into work as there is no public transport where they moved to, and “he’s bad at getting up in the morning.”

We work in a department where certain tasks have to be completed by certain times, so it’s important employees are on time. A few minutes late occasionally isn’t an issue but she’s consistently 10-15 minutes late, which means she’s rushing to get her work done, and it also seems unfair to her colleagues who arrive on time. She offers to make up the time after work, but by that point all her tasks are done, so it seems petty to force her to stay behind with nothing to do.

I really don’t know what to do here. Should I speak to her boyfriend? He’s a team leader (I think around the same seniority as me) so receives less scrutiny over his timekeeping. But it seems really weird to ask a colleague to get out of bed on time in the morning! I thought about asking her if she wanted to change her start time (and reshuffle the tasks within the department slightly) so she starts at 9:15, but then her boyfriend might also change his start time and they wouldn’t get in until 9:30. I really don’t want to seem like I’m interfering in their relationship. Do you have any advice?

Definitely do not talk to the boyfriend! That would be really inappropriate — like talking to him about keeping her up too late if she was coming into work tired. You need to deal with your employee directly, not her significant other! That doesn’t change just because he works at your company too.

The good news here is that when you talk to your employee, you don’t need to (and shouldn’t) get into the relationship stuff at all. You just need to tell her that she does need to be at work on time and that she can’t continue to be late. You can offer to change her start time if that won’t harm your team’s workflow. But from there, it’s up to her to figure out how to make that happen. Maybe it means she stops driving her boyfriend, maybe it means he gets up earlier, maybe it means they take a third person into their relationship who comes with a car — who knows. It’s none of your business! You just need to tell her the expectation and hold her to it.

Read an update to this letter here.

2. Managing a seriously ill employee who’s making mistakes

My team’s strongest performer is in the midst of a serious, life-changing health crisis, and this is causing issues with her usually-stellar performance. Typically, she requires little to no oversight or follow-up and exercises astute judgement. However, due to her stress during this time, I am finding that she is failing to follow standard operating procedures, sending redundant/repetitive emails about known issues, and finding issues that don’t exist or missing ones that do. (To be clear, this is being caused by stress, not by the medical condition itself — and she will admit as such and knows that she is somewhat distracted.) I am not concerned about this from a disciplinary standpoint like I would be if these kinds of mistakes were coming from a typical employee, but she does work with both internal and external clients and I am having to correct information that is sent to them, including broadly-sent communications that we have standard templates for, which she is not consistently using. I am also having to respond to the redundant emails and remind her that we have already discussed and resolved these issues, and let her know when I make corrections.

This feels like the type of micromanaging that I know she has bristled at from others in the past, and I normally relate with her more as an advisor for her higher-level problems, which is a relationship that has worked well for both of us. She responds well enough to the constructive feedback I’ve given in the past, but her high performance means that this has only needed to be sporadic. I do not want to add to her stress or make her feel beat down, but I am also concerned that these issues will get worse as her illness progresses, and I do think it is useful for her to see what she is missing so that she is aware of what to look out for and that she would want me to do so. How can I best navigate these concerns while still being considerate and compassionate during this difficult time?

Rather than just flagging each individual instance as it happens, sit down with her and talk about the broader pattern. Tell her this isn’t a disciplinary conversation but you’re seeing a pattern of mistakes and you want to figure out how you both need to manage her work differently during this period, and ask her to brainstorm with you about what might help. You should say explicitly, “I know in the past you’ve bristled at what feels like micromanagement, and normally you haven’t need a lot of oversight — but I want to be realistic that while you’re under this much stress, we need a different system. I don’t think we’ll need permanent changes, just something to get us through this period.”

It might be that you both realize from this conversation that the solution is mostly about (a) her being aware of the pattern and needing to be more vigilant than she normally would (including committing to using those templates, even if she didn’t need them in the past) and (b) the two of you feeling comfortable with changing the amount of oversight you give her during this period. But I’d also consider whether there are ways to lower her workload right now — which is something she might not realize she can ask for.

3. How do I determine my rate for freelance work for my current employer after I leave?

I gave close to four weeks notice at my nonprofit full-time job to coincide with the end of our fiscal year (also the date our employment contracts are up each year). One of the duties of my position is to generate end-of-fiscal-year fundraising reports and statistics, which can’t be done until the fiscal year is over. I didn’t want to leave my organization in a tough spot, so I offered to take on the statistics project and help with training during the month following my end date, with the caveat that I will need to work around my new schedule (not a new job, but my husband will switch to full-time work, and I’ll be at home taking care of some personal projects that are overdue in addition to shuttling our teen around to various part-time summer camps).

My boss would like me to take care of the project and maybe help with training. However, when the head of the organization contacted me about the arrangement, he offered to pay a prorated salary rate for this work (the same amount I receive per hour now without accounting for the value of the benefits I’ll be losing). He indicated that this is a typical arrangement and is how compensation for part-time work is calculated. However, I am viewing this additional project work as a short-term freelance arrangement and feel that I should be given a contract rate, since I will be paying for my own health insurance and will be responsible for self-employment taxes, etc.

I want to leave on good terms and don’t want to be seen as asking for something unreasonable but also don’t want to be treated unfairly. Is there a standard procedure for calculating a project work rate beyond the employment end date? I suggested looking at the amount listed on my contract as the “total compensation value” of my position (which includes the health insurance cost) and prorating that but was told that nobody does that.

Yes, because you won’t be getting benefits and will be responsible for your own payroll taxes, you should charge more than you were getting as an employee per hour. A common rule of thumb is to figure out what your salary as an employee broke down to hourly and then double it.

It sounds like your boss doesn’t realize this, so you could say something like, “I did some research online and spoke to other freelancers, and what I’ve found is that people generally charge at least twice what their hourly rate was as an employee, because freelancers are responsible for their own payroll taxes, which are significant, and don’t earn benefits. A lot of people suggest more than that, but I want to be thoughtful about your budget. So how about $X/hour?”

I’d suggest making X double your employee rate. But since you’re not trying to launch a freelance business and this is a one-time project and not ongoing work, there’s room in there to be more flexible with them if you want to — but I would not go as low as your employee rate, since that would be an effective pay cut (since covering your own payroll taxes will take out a chunk that’s not coming out currently). If he pushes back, you can point that out: “Sticking with my employee rate would mean doing the work for less money than I am now, given that I’ll be covering my own payroll taxes. I want to help but I can’t do it for less take-home pay than I earn now. I think $X is a fair rate, but I also understand if that means it won’t work out.”

4. Explaining why I’m resigning without a new job

I have been at my current place of employment for almost 10 years. Over the last three years, there has been a shift in culture and structure, which is still ongoing. I’m realizing that I will not be successful or happy with the organization, so I am actively looking elsewhere. I have been saving enough money since the beginning of the year, and I currently have about five months saved. If I don’t find anywhere else to work, I am perfectly fine leaving my current position in the fall, taking a month off to detox, and go work for a temp agency that specializes in my field for a time in order to gain more experience. (I’ve been looking at jobs and there are enough in the area that I live in that finding work won’t be a concern)

How do I explain why I’m leaving the organization without a new job lined up? My current boss and grandboss don’t understand why I would leave during this “exciting time” due to the restructure and the new software systems being implemented and think I should “wait it out” and see. Well, I do think the department will be fine after the restructuring, I just will be pigeonholed into the work I’m currently doing without being able to move elsewhere in the department. I am fine transitioning them to the new systems, then leaving afterwards. I have spoken to my boss and grandboss about this and have been told my concerns don’t have merit and I should stay put. If I do go with my plan of leaving after cleaning up my current projects, what should I tell my boss and grand boss without badmouthing them or leaving them with a bad impression?

Ha, well, they’re welcome to think you should stay put, but it’s not really their call. I would seriously consider, though, whether they’re trying to tell you that you’re wrong about being pigeonholed, and ask them to talk to you in concretes about exactly what your mobility will be after the reorg. If you’re leaving because you think you won’t have any and they know that you will, that’s worth a conversation.

But if that doesn’t change your mind, then when you’re ready to leave you can simply say, “I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve decided to move on. My last day will be (date).” If they press you about why you’d leave with nothing lined up, you can say, “I’ve been here 10 years and it’s time for me to move on, and I’m excited about taking on something new.” If they continue to push, you can say, “I appreciate that you want me to stay, but this is the right decision for me and it’s not something I’m open to changing” and then immediately change the subject to talking about how best to use your notice period.

Also, some unsolicited advice: A lot of jobs in your area doesn’t necessarily translate into you finding one before your five months of savings runs out — many people find their job searches take longer than that. So if you haven’t already, I’d start your job search now, or at least start talking to people in the field you want to move into about whether the temp work will provide you with the experience you need, and how easy it will be to get work once you do that (so that you avoid a situation where you’re qualified but still not getting hired in the time you’ve allowed yourself).

5. Handling the challenges of early pregnancy without telling my coworkers

My husband and I were recently thrilled to find out that I’m pregnant. While I’m still very happy and excited, I’ve since been experiencing all the worst symptoms at an increasing rate over the past few weeks. We have an open office plan at my company, and I spend the day frantically snacking, running to the bathroom, excusing myself for hiccups and burps, and practically gagging at the smells of coffee and food that folks bring into the office. I’ve also had to excuse myself for vague doctor’s appointments so much that one of our client contacts asked if I was okay.

It’s early enough that we haven’t told our extended family yet, so I certainly don’t feel comfortable telling my coworkers; I also have combined sick days and vacation time, so I’m loathe to spend PTO on morning sickness – that would add up way too fast. I’ve worked from home as much as possible, but I’m starting to sense some concern about how little I’m in the office. Alluding to a vague medical issue might cause unwarranted concern. Do you have any advice?

Given all that’s going on, your choices are really between disclosing the pregnancy or citing a vague medical issue. Since you’re not ready to announce it, go with the vague option. In order to fend off worry, you can say something like, “I’m dealing with a minor medical issue right now — nothing to worry about, but it means I have a series of doctor’s appointments and may work from home when my symptoms are acting up. I’ll be fine though — just need to get through this short-term.”

Even if you’re vaguer than that, some people will probably suspect you’re pregnant. That’s fine, as long as they’re polite and keep it to themselves. You’re just giving everyone plausible deniability — acknowledging that yes, you seem ill sometimes and you’re out of the office more often, and here is an explanation that we can be comfortable with for now.


{ 624 comments… read them below }

  1. Aphrodite*

    OP #1, her boyfriend will never be on time. I’m guessing but I’d say he’s probably late to parties, to dinner, everywhere because he views time as no big deal. It’s highly disrespectful to others but he likely doesn’t see it that way, more like “that’s just the way he is.” And she’s apparently bought into that

    If you want to move her time and it doesn’t affect others, as Alison said, why not. Except it is probable that he will be later still and you still won’t have solved the problem. Really, all you can do is require her to be on time–and if that means leaving on time without him so be it. But she will have to make that decision. I just know from experience that moving her hours won’t affect his lateness; he’ll just have an excuse to be even later.

    (That’s what I had to do to a former friend who defended her right to be up to an hour late regardless of how it affected others. Not “former.” I refuse to accept that and actually left her behind once when we were going together to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. She was furious. But she never changed and so we parted ways.)

    1. Kheldarson*

      I’m not entirely sure “bought into it” is right; I wonder at the age of the employee and wonder if having a “team leader” dating her isn’t throwing off her normal meter for the workplace.

      Either way, I do agree that OP’s solution here remains the same: hold the standard. The employee will have to figure out her relationship.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I agree that she probably hasn’t bought into it. She may just feel like it’s out of her control, so she’s resigned to going along with him.

        1. Zombeyonce*

          This is my life. My husband is chronically late and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to make him be on time. I grew up in a military family and lateness drives me crazy, but 10 years of trying every trick in the book has yet to find anything to make him on time. He is otherwise wonderful so I can forgive him for it, but damned if it doesn’t drive me insane (and he knows it). But that’s not an excuse I’d ever give to my employer.

          OP needs to pretend she’s never met the boyfriend and doesn’t know anything about him. This is the employee’s problem to solve and all OP needs to let them figure out the solution and hold them to whatever standard is necessary. They’ll find a way to fix it or they won’t and be disciplined for tardiness, as well as grow the resentment of their teammates who are picking up the slack. Either way, it’s the employee’s problem to handle it face the consequences.

          1. valentine*

            he’s bad at getting up in the morning
            This just isn’t good enough. The real issue is Employee refuses to leave on time.

            1. Clay on my apron*

              It certainly is a problem when you consistently prioritise giving another presumably capable and independent adult a lift to work, over arriving at your own job on time. And it might be as simple as framing it that way for the employee.

              1. Margaret*

                Absolutely. I’ve been in situations like that in my life, and it was often a product of me looking for the path with the least amount of conflict. If my manager doesn’t appear to mind that I’m late, and I can stay back and make up the time at the end of my shift by working late, then sure, I’d take that over a protracted fight with my boyfriend that I’m probably going to lose.

                Hopefully laying down clear expectations and boundaries with the employee will give her the kick in the pants she needs to make a system that works with her boyfriend- which will probably end up being her leaving him behind if he isn’t in the car at the time the car leaves the driveway. It’s amazing how many chronically late people manage to figure their nonsense out the minute *they* face real consequences.

                1. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

                  That was what in the end I had to do with my younger brother in high school. Worked wonders on him when he got in trouble with our parents for not being in the car to get a free ride to high school on time. Mom worked nights, it was explained to him he could be in the car when I was leaving at 645, or he could get up and catch the bus that left at 620. Mom and dad weren’t going to make a second run to the school, and were never going to provide a note excusing his tardiness.
                  Third time he wasn’t in the car was the “aha” moment for him.

                2. rando*

                  As a defense/comment from a chronically late person:

                  It genuinely is that I can’t make myself do it consistently unless there are consequences. I do my best, and I am almost always weirdly early or weirdly late. But if there are consequences, my ability to do it genuinely does switch. It’s not that I wasn’t trying before, and I can’t really explain it.

                  I’ve had similar difficulties with making myself do other things that I 1) want to do that are 2) necessary for me to live and 3) make me feel really sick and bad until I do them. So it’s not just a matter of a lack of respect– it really is an issue of executive function.

                  Therefore generally the right thing is to make there be a consequence. Leave without them if they aren’t on time, etc. That structure can help people who need it, even if it sucks to have to do that.

                3. AKchic*

                  M&M’s – that’s what we have to do with our teens.

                  We have a bus that picks the teens up at the corner at 6:40 every morning. It means the kids have to be out the door at 6:35 if they want to walk up the corner to meet it. Or, they can walk down three houses to get a ride with their friend at 6:50 and get a ride.
                  One of my kids has stomach issues due to hormone imbalances. He hates taking his meds, so a lot of days, it’s uncontrolled. He was 16 all last year, 6’1 and honestly, he’s at the age where I’m not going to pin him down and force-feed his meds to him. If he wants to spend hours throwing up because he didn’t want to take two pills at night and one in the morning, that’s his consequence. I reminded him and so did his apps.
                  I tell them I will not write passes or call in excuses if they miss either ride, and my husband (who goes to work after dropping off the elementary-aged kid) will not get out of bed early to drive them if they miss. They can walk the three miles up the mountain to get to school (gotta love Alaska, right?). Exceptions will be made for the following: car accidents, weather, and animal hazards (yeah, if a moose or bear has decided to block traffic, or there is an accident slowing the students, or a snowstorm slowing things down, I’ll call them in tardy – I’m not completely heartless).

                  They don’t like it, but they do get to school mostly on time.

                4. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

                  AK, my parents weren’t completely heartless either, and legitimate reasons would get a pass (my dad called in a pass for both brother and I when an alligator snapping turtle blocked the front door (it was FL and not far from a swamp, we had to watch for those and water moccasins), they just didn’t think his “I don’t care if I’m late to 9th grade orchestra” trumped my desire to not be late for 12th grade calculus. He got it all figured out by the end of first semester, and all in all is a pretty good guy now. At 14 we all need some nudges into growing up.
                  Best of luck getting the 16yo to figure it out.

              2. Lucy*

                It certainly is a problem when you consistently prioritise giving another presumably capable and independent adult a lift to work, over arriving at your own job on time.

                I think this is a great script for framing it for the employee. But I think you can cut it down further…

                It certainly is a problem when you consistently prioritise someone else a lift over arriving at your own job on time.

                If the employee was continually late because she was giving a lift to someone with no other transport, or to a dependant minor child, or or or, then it would have the same effect on the business and would still warrant a reminder that she has a responsibility to arrive at work on time regardless of her other obligations.

                1. Clay on my apron*

                  Agreed. I think your phrasing focuses on the business impact which would be the right way to communicate it. My way highlights that Employee needs to do some thinking about why she is making this choice. Less appropriate for a manager to say this.

                2. boo bot*

                  I went back and forth on this, because if I were advising the employee as a friend or something, I would want to emphasize that he really can can just figure his own stuff out – I’d bet that her thought process involves some degree of, “He doesn’t have a car, and if it weren’t for me he’d live close to public transit, so it’s my responsibility to get him places.” (which (a) it’s not, because he’s a capable adult – he got along without her up until he met her, and (b) even if it were, he could still solve this problem by getting up on time.)

                  BUT, you don’t want her to then come back with ten reasons why he’s actually NOT a capable and independent person who can figure out how to get to work on time. Then you end up arguing about that, which is the opposite of where you want to be.

                  So, yeah, ultimately I agree with this.

                3. Dontlikeunfairrules*

                  Exactly – the boyfriend shouldn’t even be a variable in the conversation. His name doesn’t need to be mentioned, from either side. It’s “you need to be to work on time.” and the response should be “OK, I apologize for it even becoming an issue you’re having to bring up.”

                  If she was late because she presses snooze on her morning alarm 5x or because she stops for coffee at the most crowded Starbucks, or because she likes to take the scenic route, it’s the same problem with the same thing to fix. I don’t care that they’re living together and can’t coordinate appropriately. That’s neither here nor there.

                4. Glitsy Gus*

                  @Dontlikeunfairrules I think this is it. I mean, when the employee first mentions it it’s OK, to give a little bit of a, “oh, haha, well, he needs to get on that, doesn’t he?” as a way to transition away from it, but ultimately it really doesn’t matter why. We all have things that can slow us down or cause issues, but as adults it’s part of our job to figure them out.

                  If giving her the extra ten minutes really would help out it’s a kind thing and overall probably good to do so, but yeah, if she’s still late everyday that’s her issue to figure out between her and her partner, not yours. She needs to be on time because her work deadlines require it. If she wants to keep the job something needs to change so she can get there on time. That’s the long and short of it.

              3. Lx in Canada*

                I have issues being on time (terrible executive function – I found out about it recently and I need to get evaluated for the disorder… ). I tried driving a friend to work occasionally to see if I could be on time even then. Nope, I just made him late, so I did not drive him anymore.

                Recently I got the option to change my start time to slightly later and that seems to be helping…

              4. Free Meerkats*

                For a short time after our admin person moved close to me (like a block and a half, and on my route to work) I gave her a ride to work. She was also chronically late, or at best rushing in at the stroke of 0730, totally frazzled. I told her up front that I wouldn’t be late for her, I’d pull into her driveway and wait until it was time to go. Then I’d go with her in the car or not. Third time I left without her, she decided it wasn’t worth it to her because she could leave 4 minutes later and usually make it to work on time.

                Problem solved.

              5. Kendra*

                Yeah; how did he get himself to work before they moved in together? Maybe he should go back to doing that, since in reality they have two different start times (9:00 am and “whenever”).

                I’m chronically late in the mornings myself (although the thought of being late to a meeting kicks my anxiety into high gear, so never on days when I know somebody’s waiting on me), and I sympathize with Boyfriend to an extent, but when you’re constantly making someone else late, too, you* need to make a change.

                *=”you” in this case definitely means, “the person making other people late,” not the collective “you.”

                1. Jennifer Thneed*

                  I think that he used public transit, and that they moved in together in a new place to both of them where there is no pubtrans, and he just assumed that his gf having a car would make up for that. And I wonder if the buses were really frequent where he was, or if having to catch a bus made him able to get out the door on time.

          2. Observer*

            OP needs to pretend she’s never met the boyfriend and doesn’t know anything about him. This is the employee’s problem to solve and all OP needs to let them figure out the solution and hold them to whatever standard is necessary.

            In fact I think that OP should have shut that down when the employee brought this up. How the employee deals with her BF / SO / Spouse is really not the OP’s problem.

            Personally, I would be tempted to point out that BF can drive himself to work in his own car. What did he do before they moved in together? But that would be a bad idea.

            1. Bee*

              From the way it’s phrased, I suspect the boyfriend used to live in a place where he COULD take public transit to work, so he doesn’t have a car.

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

                I actually got the impression that the female employee might have taken public transport before and is now reliant on the boyfriend and his car.

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

                  Sorry, never mind I reread it again and it says she drives him.

              2. AKchic*

                The boyfriend’s transportation arrangements aren’t any concern of LW’s, regardless of what they were before they moved in, or what they will be now. LW is managing his report. That’s it. What the report chooses to do in her relationship in order to mitigate her new chronic tardiness is her business. As long as she is no longer late to work and causing work delays or uneven work spread with her peers, this shouldn’t be a concern for LW.

          3. DollarStoreParty*

            Mine too. We’ve been married for 26 years, including several stints of working together. I leave without him, but he’s got his own car. From what I can gather the OP is nowhere near public transportation, and they might only have one car, but Uber and Lyft go everywhere, as do taxis. A couple of expensive rides to work and the boyfriend may make the effort to get out of bed and get out on time.

            1. schnauzerfan*

              What a very urban assumption. We just got Lyft in our city within the last year, and they most certainly don’t “go everywhere” no Uber either. No bus, no real taxi service either. But this isn’t OPs problem. I’d remind the employee that I needed her to work on time. It’s a requirement of the job. Remind her of the attendance policy and, more in sadness than anger, point out I would have no choice but to enforce whatever policy in place. If that means she can’t punch in more that x minutes late and loses a days pay? Or gets fired for chronic tardiness? Well maybe she can find work as a Lyft driver.

              Sorry snarky today. Waiting on a late co-worker. Not mine to discipline.

              1. blink14*

                I do have to agree with this – Uber, Lyft, etc is not available everywhere. If she’s not living in close proximity to even a bus station, then I suspect if a for hire vehicle could be expensive, not readily available, limited, etc.

                Perhaps part of the problem here is both the commute distance and the boyfriend being chronically late. Either way, it’s the employee’s responsibility to get to work on time, especially if they have time sensitive tasks.

              2. boo bot*

                If there’s no Lyft/Uber or taxi service, it kind of makes it *worse* on the boyfriend’s part – he’s putting her in a no-win situation: “be late to work or leave me alone and stranded.”

                She needs to leave him stranded.

              3. RabbitRabbit*

                … What do you mean, Lyft doesn’t “go everywhere” by you? If you can get a pickup, you can get dropped off.

                She and her boyfriend moved in together, and he used to take public transit to that same workplace before the move-in. It’s not too crazy to assume that a city with public transit might have Lyft/Uber/taxi access.

            2. TootsNYC*

              Or he can get a bicycle, or a motorcycle, or his own car, or ask a friend for a lift…

              I think the Uber/Lyft/taxi thing is just an example of “him finding some other way.”

          4. CC*

            My grandparents are like this–my grandfather hates being late, my grandmother will be late to her own funeral. They arrive to things separately. They’re very active in their church, for example, so my grandfather might leave early and meet my grandmother there at the same service. Now they actually go to different masses all together, my grandfather an early one, my grandmother a later one.

            It seems a bit silly, but it prevents everyone from driving the other crazy. I recommend it to anyone with a partner who is chronically late. Hopefully the employee can figure out a system like this.

          5. Jennifer Juniper*

            When I worked and was running late, I have bad panic attacks complete with wheezing, shaking, and crying. If that guy in letter #1 had been my boyfriend, I would have broken up with him.

      2. Clay on my apron*

        Agreed. He is a jerk for consistently making her late for work. She sounds like a pushover who can’t see that it’s HIS problem that he doesn’t like to get up in the morning. I think it’s a safe bet that she’s doing his laundry too.

          1. OhGee*

            She needs to leave his late butt at home a few times, or pretty soon she’s going to wake up and realize she’s his mommy, nurse and maid with nothing in return. I speak from experience.

            … but it’s not her boss’ job to tell her that, so I second those who urge LW to tell her direct report that she can no longer be late.

            1. RUKiddingMe*

              In between the first husband (after he died) and meeting the new husband I was with a guy for a while. “Ok sure I’ll wake you up. Not a problem.” I got really tired really quick of needing to make more than one attempt.

              Disclosure, wake me up, I get up, I expect the same from other adults.

              One day he was all annoyed that he’d slept three hours extra because I “didn’t wake him up.” Not my problem dude. “I did wake you up (oh yeeeaaahhh…he remembered me waking him up) but you expect me to come back every ten minutes like a fucking snooze button until you actually get up.” Nope, nope, nopity, nope, nope, nope.

              I was done with tat relationship anyway, but even if I wasn’t I wouldn’t keep going back. If Husband asks me to wake him up at X time, I do. He gets up. Occasionally he will say “can you let me sleep another 15/30 minutes” which is cool. He doesn’t however expect me to be some kind of cuckoo clock that keeps tweeting until he deigns to arise.

              1. Zephy*

                I get to play alarm clock for my bf on occasion (read: whenever we actually have to be somewhere before, oh, 9:30). He gets one sweet “time to get uuuup, my love!~” and then it’s “BOI GET TF OUT OF BED” but I can’t really sell it unless I’m genuinely mad at him and then I start off the day mad at him for no real reason. It’s not a great system.

                1. Federal Middle Manager*

                  Set an incredibly loud obnoxious alarm across the room. Then go into another room, put your headphones on and let him learn that he’d prefer to be in charge of his own waking routine.

                2. Zephy*

                  We’re out of nesting but this is a reply to Federal Middle Manager:

                  I mean, we already have a cat. I’m told that, on past occasions when I’ve been out of town for a few days without him, the cat is a very effective alarm clock.

        1. JM in England*

          Ultimately, the OP may be forced to tell their employee to choose between her job or her relationship. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that….

            1. Lance*

              Big time. The relationship is, ultimately, a non-factor for the OP; it’s just the reasoning their chronically late employee gave them. The only thing that does matter is the chronic lateness; that’s the only thing OP has standing to say anything about.

          1. Akcipitrokulo*

            Not quite. An ultimatum of choose between being late and your job (business needs do require her being there one time).

            If, in the background, that translates to relationship or job…. that’s down to her.

            Boss can only comment or enforce job related behaviours and consequences. Being late = risking job.

            (Note this isn’t saying if employee comes to you and asks for leeway in exceptional, temporary circumstances, you can’t consider this. But you cannot say BF or job.)

          2. Managed Chaos*

            I don’t think they will. Tell the employee the expectation regarding punctuality and let her be an adult and figure out how to make things work in her life.

          3. TootsNYC*

            yep, that’s overstepping.

            But the OP can say, “I do not want to have to make this a disciplinary issue. But I will, so you need to figure out how to handle this so it doesn’t get that far. I’d hate to have to lose you over tardiness when there is surely a simple solution.”

        2. Observer*

          That’s unkind and irrelevant.

          Their division of labor is no one’s business. The problem here is NOT that she’s driving him to work, but that she’s allowing him to make her late. That’s really the only legitimate thing the OP has any business considering.

            1. VictorianCowgirl*

              Experience does that sometimes.
              When you see a duck it’s ok to call it a duck.

              1. Lance*

                The only thing we have is that the boyfriend doesn’t like to get up, and the co-worker doesn’t want to just leave without him. That’s way too little info to make such assumptions out of.

              2. Not Me*

                Yes, but wisdom would warn you not to assume duck when you find a single down feather.

          1. Cordelia Vorkosigan*

            This. We literally don’t know anything about the boyfriend other than he’s chronically late and, now that she’s driving him to work, so is she. The obvious solution is for her to stop driving him to work and let him figure his own transportation situation out, and there’s nothing in the letter that would indicate that he would react badly to that. And as far as the OP is concerned, it doesn’t matter. She just needs her employee to come in on time.

            1. Federal Middle Manager*

              Also, we don’t know that he alone is chronically late. We know that THEY are chronically late. He might be over in his department telling everyone that his girlfriend causes him to be late all the time.

          2. Emily K*

            Thank you. It’s disturbing how quickly the internet jumps to DTMFA based on one negative trait that they assume without evidence is correlated with ten more.

          3. Kate R*

            Agreed. There is no reason to assume she’s even a pushover. It’s entirely possible that the employee didn’t think her tardiness was a big deal given that her boyfriend is also late, works for the same company, and it appears to not be a big deal for him. That’s why it’s important for the OP to be direct that this is A BIG DEAL, and the employee needs to figure out her own solution for fixing it. There’s no reason to assume anyone is being the jerk in this situation when we really don’t know what kind of communication is going on behind the scenes.

            1. CSam*

              So glad to see others jumping in to step on the brakes. I was the OP’s employee for 2 weeks last month when my car broke down and I had to carpool with my own boyfriend. Luckily I talked about it with my boss and I’m able to make up time by staying later, but it really was just a matter of my boyfriend being a “so I’m 10 minutes late to work, no biggie” kind of person, in a job where he can get away with that, and not being able to break the habit. He otherwise handles his s*** just fine without me needing to manage him at all.

              I can completely see why the problem would be exacerbated by working for the same organization – boyfriend could very well be telling his girlfriend not to worry, that Company X is chill with people coming to work a little late, and not realizing that her department works differently.

              1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

                But you *weren’t* OP’s employee – you weren’t anything like the OP’s employee – you were quite literally the opposite. You handled being late for a very short period professionally and PRIOR to the timeframe you knew you’d be late……

                I think if this was a short-term issue that OP’s employee tried getting ahead of in a professional manner (as you did), we wouldn’t be reading this letter in the first place.

              2. Jennifer Juniper*

                Then girlfriend needs to open her mouth and tell boyfriend that her department is not that way. If he doesn’t believer her, she takes the car and leaves his late ass to figure out how to get to work on his own.

        3. JokeyJules*

          All we know is that they are late and in a relationship, so let’s stick to that, please!

        4. Kat in VA*

          My husband tried that “Why didn’t you wake me up?” plaint when he was late for work because his alarm didn’t go off.

          I reminded him in no uncertain terms that I was not his mother, and getting his ass out of bed and to work on time was his responsibility and not mine.

      3. Jennifer Juniper*

        If my boyfriend was making me late for work every day, I’d have told him he’s on his own after day one! I hate being late, and someone else making me late for something as important as work would be unforgivable. I hope that guy’s irresponsibility doesn’t get the woman in trouble or fired.

        I also hope he’s not doing it on purpose to control her.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      I also suspect that a 15 minute later start time will mean that she’s 15 minutes late for that as well – 15 minutes extra sleep isn’t going to make getting up any easier. My other concern with changing the start time and shifting work around is if it’s seen as a perk by other employees – do her coworkers have the option to do the same thing for more convenient bus commute, for example.

      But the LW should definitely not bring the boyfriend into this. Make it clear that she needs to reliably be on time, and that this is a serious issue, and let her work it out with her boyfriend. Leaving him behind once or twice would certainly get the point across to him.

      1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

        The co-workers will see lateness being rewarded which is not a good look. Sure as anything, she will still rush in at the later time.

        1. SunnyD*

          She’s getting all her work done. Maybe they all need more flex time, with core work hours.

          1. Dankar*

            OP does say that her lateness already puts her coworkers behind. The others on the team have flex time (OP commented below that there’s a range in which they can officially start, but they have to adhere to that time every day), so I don’t think additional flexibility is possible.

            Honestly, the employee and her boyfriend need to find something else that works, whether that’s a second car, earlier leave time or whatever. And OP needs to make the consequences explicitly clear to the employee, since it sounds like this hasn’t been done yet.

          2. Yorick*

            She’s not getting the work done, the coworkers are rushing to do her tasks (OP says they have tasks that must be done at a certain time).

      2. The Original Stellaaaaa*

        The coworkers will see it as a perk granted due to her dating a higher-up at the company.

        1. Sarah N*

          This would be my concern. Even if it’s not your intention and you’d also grant a late start time due to someone’s partner making them late who didn’t work at the company (or for whatever other random reason), this will be the outward appearance. Also, what if other people start coming to you and saying “I also don’t like getting up early, can I schedule my shift to come in 10-15-20 minutes later?” If that’s not realistic, I don’t think it’s fair to grant it to someone solely on the basis that their romantic partner works at your company. Just a bad look all around.

          1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

            Abso – farking – lutely!!

            If I worked under OP with the late employee as an associate of similar hierarchy and I found out she was able to come in late because of her boyfriend and their commuting arrangements? Ummm, I’d be so annoyed and full of resentment. Resentment towards both the OP and the late employee.

      3. Jana*

        If I had a coworker who was consistently 15 minutes late every morning because her boyfriend was “bad at getting up in the morning”, and management’s corrective action was to push her start time back to accommodate her boyfriend’s lateness, I’d be annoyed. It wouldn’t just appear that the employee was receiving special treatment, she WOULD be getting special treatment.

        OP #1, your employee is late and it’s affecting her work. There are lots of times when an employer should be reasonable and understanding about occasional lateness (train was delayed, car broke down, dog needed emergency vet visit, kid was sick), but boyfriend being lazy is not one of those times. Your employee is an adult and needs to figure out how to get to work on time.

        1. Gerta*

          Precisely. Not to mention that it apparently doesn’t just affect her – it would mean shuffling other people’s work around as well, thereby inconveniencing them (at the very least in the short term while they adjust) for her totally avoidable tardiness. Which as others have noted, would probably continue to be a problem anyway.

        2. Managed Chaos*

          Yes, the “why” isn’t important when it is a pattern. It’s one thing to be understanding about things coming up, but patterns indicate that something needs to change. (Unless the pattern is something like “every winter, my employee is late more often than during the summer” and it’s weather related.)

          1. Works in IT*

            Eh, weather related delays can be mostly expected, and dealt with by leaving a bit earlier than usual.

            I’ve been late to work occasionally, once because I was expecting frost on my windshield and found inch thick ICE that had to be chopped off the car before it could be driven, once because the salt marsh on the way to work unexpectedly overflowed (apparently the water lines that normally supply water to the sprinklers for the farm by the salt marsh broke and raised the salt marsh level) over the road which forced me to turn around and go another way, and once because there was an excavator from a construction site going ten miles per hour on a 40 mile per hour road. There were lots of unhappy people that day.

            But that’s not a regular occurrence, because I leave early enough that most minor delays won’t affect me.

        3. Dust Bunny*

          This, exactly.

          Don’t shuffle her start time and tasks: Tell her that you need her here by X:00. It’s up to her how she makes that happen.

          I guarantee you all of your employees–including the ones who consistently start on time–would probably like to shuffle their start times and task deadlines if you asked them, but they’re not getting this accommodation, and she shouldn’t be getting it for something so ridiculous and preventable. It’s not a medical need–it’s a lazy boyfriend who could drive himself if he had to.

              1. Jennifer*

                I know. A lot of people seem to be confused about why he isn’t just driving himself and I was clarifying.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Then he needs to get up on time. Period. Or miss work. Or buy a car. Or effing walk, for all it’s anyone else’s responsibility.

              1. Jennifer*

                I agree that he just needs to get up on time.

                Just buying a car isn’t a possibility for everyone.

                I get that this guy isn’t making good choices right now but your tone is quite harsh for someone whose only offense is showing up to work late.

                1. Sacred Ground*

                  No, if it were just him getting to work late, it’s not deserving harsh judgement, it’s not even OP’s problem. His lateness is causing OP’s employee to be consistently late and may cause her to lose her job. That’s a big deal and he doesn’t seem to care. So that makes him a jerk, and harsh judgement of his inconsideration is appropriate. His lateness isn’t the offense, his causing HER lateness is.

                  And his ability to arrange another ride, take a bus or taxi, buy a car, train giant eagles to carry him on their backs, is utterly irrelevant. She needs to be at work on time. He can get his ass out of bed and ride with her or he can find another way.

                2. Jennifer*

                  @Sacred either way, there’s no need for harsh judgments. There are good people who struggle with being on time. There are jerks who are always on time. There is nowhere near enough information here to judge this guy’s character.

                3. Jennifer Juniper*

                  Being late is cause for being fired at quite a few jobs in the US. I am extremely angry with the boyfriend right now. At best, he is lazy and immature. At worst, he’s a controlling weenis who’s trying to get the late employee fired by being late on purpose.

          1. AKchic*

            And honestly, would this employee even be getting a consideration for a later start time if it weren’t for the fact that her boyfriend was a manager on the same level as the LW in another department? Let’s ask that question.

            If this were some random boyfriend working in a neighboring building with no connection to your company, would you consider changing your employee’s start time? If her boyfriend were another low-level employee in your company? Or is it because he’s a manager that you are considering the schedule change?
            I think that you’re hesitant to inconvenience another manager more than you’re hesitant to discipline your employee.

        4. lawschoolmorelikeblawschool*

          The LW said elsewhere in this comment thread that her employees have various start times, start times are often changed, and employees just need to be there at their designated start time. So the optics in this situation may not actually be that bad.

          1. TardyTardis*

            Unless the other workers who show up on time are having extra work because of the other employee’s chronic lateness. Be sure that the other employees know all about the boyfriend by now, too.

        5. Mimi Me*

          Many years ago when I was in college – as a commuter student – my city had record setting rainfall. The underground transit stations actually flooded to the point where the stairwells were filled with water. Three days in a row I didn’t make it to a class and I missed a test. I approached the teacher to ask if there was a way to make up the test and he made it clear that I couldn’t. I explained that I wasn’t able to make it to class because the train was literally flooded and not working. He glanced down at my legs and said, “Well the legs seem to be in working order. And there are buses and cabs and all manner of ways you could have gotten here. If your education was important to you then you would have been here. Others made it in. There’s no excuse.” It definitely shocked me but he was right. I hated that school and really looked for any opportunity not to attend class. Might be that the woman here doesn’t think her job is important enough to put as a priority over her boyfriend, especially if doing so makes things uncomfortable for her.

          1. Works in IT*

            That seems pretty cruel on the professor’s part. When Sandy hit, my college’s professors made allowances for people who couldn’t get to campus. Some of the roads were working, but just because roads work doesn’t mean you have the money for a cab, or for different public transportation than you usually use (since people pre pay for subway cards, just because you had the money to load onto the card doesn’t mean you also have the money to spend on public transportation once your money is on the card. Did he expect people to go without food so they can take a cab? That’s ignoring the very real fact that if there are people kayaking on your yard (or trees down, or major storm damage, but I like referencing the people kayaking because my group member sent us pictures) it is ridiculous to prioritize education over making sure your house doesn’t get infested with toxic mold!

            1. Louisa*

              I agree, that’s cruel and hugely unrealistic for a lot of people, myself included. At grad school, I was sent on an internship an office two hours outside the city where I was studying. The buses did not run out there that early in the morning. I didn’t drive and I didn’t have money for taxis. They essentially told me that was my problem. I dropped out of grad school within the week and was very, very worried that the world of work would be similarly uncaring. To this day, I’m surprised and relieved when work tell me “that’s ok, just get in when you can” if a problem comes up with my transport or wellbeing. But my workplace operates on the understanding that employees have lives and challenges that may affect their ability to arrive, and supports them in finding solutions that can work while allowing them to do their job.

              1. SunnyD*

                The dirty secret of universities is they care about undergrads and PhD students, and profit off head students.

            2. Lance*

              And just to add to that: that’s a big method of transport that’s been shot; a method of transport that lots of other people use. Thus, other methods of transport will be made more difficult by the sheer fact that more people will then need them. And even besides that, when someone’s main method of transport is out, I’d expect their mind not to be going straight toward other solutions, but to ‘oh no, what do I do now?’

            3. Yorick*

              It’s not necessarily cruel. I’d definitely work with a student who was having trouble getting to class, IF they got in touch with me right away. (Assuming the city still has power and phones). But if they missed the test 3 days after the big rain fall and then showed up and asked to take it, it’d be a different story.

              And that’s really not so different from work. The train floods on Monday and you can’t ride it to work til Thursday, so you don’t show up, you don’t contact your boss, and you miss a big thing you were supposed to do Wednesday? You might be fired. You’re certainly in some trouble if not.

              I don’t mean to be harsh to Mimi Me, just explaining the professor’s possible reasoning.

            4. Observer*

              In NYC at least all the means of public transportation are the same. So, if you have a transit card and the subway in your area is out of commission you most definitely can take the bus and vice versa. In the case of Sandy, the who subway system was affected at first, not just individual stations. But there was no way someone could claim that they don’t have the wherewithal to take the bus if they already had a transit card.

                1. Dontlikeunfairrules*

                  You seem to have very terse and immediate defensive reactions to many AAM commenters, often.

                  Just an observation, but it really jumped out at me today.

          2. Jennifer Juniper*

            Damn. That professor sounds like a world class jerk. He actually expected you to risk your life in a flood just for a class?

      4. Ginger*

        I’m in this situation right now with my employee. We work in a department where timeliness is not absolutely critical, but it is somewhat important to be on time most days. Our start time is 8:00 am and from the day she was hired, she had problems arriving on time due to a long commute, school drop-offs, etc. She would usually arrive by 8:20 – 8:30. Finally, I decided to just change her starting time to 8:30, even though that put more of a burden on me in the mornings. Now, she never arrives before 8:45. Yet when her start time was 8:00, she could get here by 8:30! She’s a good employee otherwise and I’m not going to terminate her over this, but it is somewhat frustrating.

      5. AKchic*

        Her coworkers will see it as “she was chronically late playing chauffer to her chronically-late-likes-to-sleep-in-manager-boyfriend-in-B-department so she now gets a later start time and doesn’t have to run all of these time sensitive reports, got her work redistributed as a result and *still* gets paid the same as us while we do more work now to cover for her”.
        And I can bet that once manager boyfriend sees that she isn’t having to rush so quickly in the morning, he’ll be a little less hurried to get out the door, so she’ll still be late to the new start time.

        This is some of the fall-out that happens when you have someone who doesn’t respect other people’s time (earlier in the week) is always late and feels entitled to do so. (Also read: my daily struggle with my mother, or the issues I have with my husband’s anxiety with time thanks to his mother)

    3. New Jack Karyn*

      He doesn’t even have to be late to everything! Just that he’s not required to be at work at the same time as LW’s report. She’s got a boyfriend problem; she has to make the decision to leave on time, regardless of whether he’s still in bed, in the shower, or walking out the door with her.
      LW should treat the timeliness issue as she would any other issue. If a workaround isn’t feasible, then it’s got to go to a discipline step.

    4. Less Bread More Taxes*

      I know a handful of couples who work together and they arrive to work separately for various reasons. Sadly if they only have one car between them and no public transportation, that’s not really an option for this employee. Not OP’s problem though.

      Ideally, the employee would simply tell her boyfriend she’s leaving on time, and then do that. If that means he has to call in sick or take an Uber, so be it. I guarantee enough times of doing that and he’d finally get it together and get his lift to work back.

      Also, if one person has a flexible start time and one doesn’t, you work on the schedule of the latter. There is no compromise. I wonder if the employee and her boyfriend discussed this beforehand or if she simply didn’t know the extent of his morning problem.

      1. RUKiddingMe*

        “Sadly if they only have one car between them and no public transportation, that’s not really an option for this employee.”

        Except how did he manage to get to work before she moved in with him?

        1. Myrin*

          She didn’t move into the place he’d already lived at before, they moved into an entirely new place together: “she drives him into work as there is no public transport where they moved to“.

          1. Ariaflame*

            Well these days there’s uber and all that sort of stuff. If he can’t be ready for when she leaves, he can organise his own ride at his own expense.

          2. RUKiddingMe*

            Yeah, so…still not her job to be his personal Uber. Maybe location/resources is something they should have taken into account. I mean what do we do if our one vehicle breaks down? How do we get to work then?

            1. Myrin*

              Huh? I didn’t say it’s her job to be his personal Uber (and in fact, I’m from a place where punctuality is very valued on a cultural level – I have literally zero interest in siding with the boyfriend here). I was simply giving an answer to what seemed to be implied in your comment – that nothing has changed for him other than that his girlfriend moved in with him and suddenly he can’t get to work anymore even though he presumably did just fine beforehand; I was merely pointing out that that’s not the case and there might indeed have been ways for him to get to work before which don’t exist now (public transport specifically).

            2. Valprehension*

              …I mean, it’s pretty common for people to rely on their one vehicle to get them to work without a back-up plan. Do you think everyone should own multiple vehicles, or what?

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          Long term they are going to have to figure out something other than girlfriend drives him everywhere. What if she’s sick one day? What if she has a family emergency? This guy needs a backup plan.

          1. Yorick*

            I don’t think we know that she’s driving him everywhere. Maybe it’s actually his car that they now share.

            1. Dust Bunny*

              Too many what-ifs being tossed around here.

              The bottom line is that she needs to be at work on time and he either needs to accommodate that or find his own way to get there.

          2. Jennifer*

            I didn’t get the impression that he didn’t drive at all, just that they share a car. My husband and I do too. Emergencies are rare but when they happen we figure it out.

      2. MJ*

        “Also, if one person has a flexible start time and one doesn’t, you work on the schedule of the latter. There is no compromise. ”

        I think this digs deeper into the inequality into the relationship.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          I do as well, and think it’s terribly disrespectful of him towards the employee. Although, further up-thread, this kind of speculation is getting a lot of push back. Maybe from those who haven’t seen it a million times, the same pattern with the same outcome.

          1. RUKiddingMe*

            It’s obvious but like you say, I’m one of the “seen it a million times” crowd. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            I think the pushback is because it’s not incredibly helpful for the OP. The OP can’t manage the employee’s relationship. Maybe it’s a factor and the BF is an ass, maybe the BF thinks that the employee has been told her time’s flexible too, who knows. But it’s not for the OP to manage, and it doesn’t change that the OP can and should sit the employee down and tell her that she needs to be on time going forwards, not 10-15 minutes late. If the employee keeps pushing the late BF as the issue, well, then the OP is going to have to remind the employee that her employment has nothing to do with the BF, and that her position still requires her to be on time.

            Speculating about the BF just isn’t beneficial to the actual question at hand, which is how to manage this employee, not how to manage the relationship.

      3. Artemesia*

        He can get an Uber if she can’t wait and be late. He can decide if that is worth it to him. I would be flexible if possible if this were a case of need e.g. her day care didn’t open in time for her to get to work at 8 on the dot or her elderly mother needed to be drive to dialysis regularly, but this is just lazy and whimpy of him and her.

        She needs to be told she needs to be on time and fired if she doesn’t. She managed before they moved in together; she can manage now if she needs to. And he can get a cab, a lyft or an uber or ride a bike or buy a second car if need be.

    5. Bree*

      I agree this is a boyfriend problem, and she needs to make it clear to him her work performance is suffering. If he doesn’t work to break his morning habits, he’s not respecting her and she can figure out what that means.

      In the meantime, though – the LW could move her start time and the employee could *not tell* her boyfriend it changed. Just as a band-aid solution.

      1. Lucy*

        I wonder though if she stops complaining about his lateness (because it is not currently an issue for her) he will get later and later.

        1. Traffic_Spiral*

          Yup. If she doesn’t spend 15 minutes nagging him, he doesn’t get out the door.

          1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            As someone who has been chronically late all their life (due to a sleep disorder + serious executive function disorders that long went undiagnosed), I can assure you that “nagging” does NOTHING to get me out the door. In fact, it spikes my anxiety SO severely that it makes me even later.
            I’m a woman, by the way.

            1. Lucy*

              Other posters have talked about how external influences can be helpful to them in overcoming their lateness (frequently as an answer to “why can you be on time for flights but not dinner?”). I was therefore wondering about the boyfriend: if he is currently using her urgency as a helpful external factor (albeit not early enough for her) and that urgency reduces, he may be even later in the morning, which won’t actually help.

              I mentioned upthread somewhere that I am punctual but married to chronically late so I do recognise the dynamic. I think nagging is often born of anxiety on this side too: thus being able to walk away and say “fine, take as long as you like, I’ll see you there” can relieve a great deal of stress for all parties.

              I think the commentariat is pretty much agreed that it isn’t up to LW to problem solve for the employee, who isn’t late because of the late boyfriend but because of the decisions she is making as a result. He may not need to change, if his situation suits him. Her situation does not suit her, so she needs to make a change, and not to her working hours.

      2. 5 month mommy*

        This is exactly what I was thinking—get her start time moved, but don’t say anything. But she’s probably not reading this!

      3. Dust Bunny*

        No, don’t change her start time. She needs to address this, not mess up everyone else’s schedule.

      4. TootsNYC*

        but the OP doesn’t WANT to change her start time–the tasks that need to be done have some time sensitivity to them.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Just because he’s late in the morning doesn’t necessarily mean he’s late all the time. I’m am one of those people who shows up early most of the time but I’m just not a morning person, so I have been known to show up late to work because I couldn’t get out of bed when (and here’s the important part here) it doesn’t affect my job negatively.

      Regardless, as Alison said this has nothing to do with boyfriend. OP needs to be at work on time period, end of story. It’s up to her to figure out how to make that happen, or be faced with disciplinary action.

    7. gecko*

      That’s a little harsh and a lot of extrapolation–this is probably just an agreement on transportation they made, and now they have to rework that as some consequences are coming due.

      There are plenty of people–my own personal partner one of them–who have significant trouble getting up in the morning and are not late otherwise, and for whom it’s not a matter of disrespect; it’s a matter of insomnia, or poor sleep, or any number of possible factors.

      On the partner’s side, it’s a matter of boundary-setting and recognition that this kind of thing is desperately hard to change. LW’s employee does need to have a talk with her boyfriend about separate transportation, but as you say, that’s her business, and the LW just needs to affirm that the employee’s start time is firm.

      1. Blue*

        Yep, I am extremely punctual…except for things that start before 9 am. It’s entirely possible that he’s like this all the time, and it’s also possible that it’s a getting-to-work or morning issue. But, critically, my jobs haven’t depended on me being there exactly on time, and my tendency to run 10 minutes late in the mornings doesn’t impact anyone else.

        Completely agree that OP needs to make clear to the employee that she needs to find a way to get in on time. It may not be super convenient, but that probably means separate transportation. I imagine she could also adjust her start time and just not tell the boyfriend so he doesn’t think he has 15 extra minutes in the morning, but that has its own issues.

    8. Stephanie*

      She is an adult, needs to get herself to work and needs to learn how to set boundaries to do it. It specifically says that SHE drives HIM to work, not vice versa. She can leave on time if she wants, she’s just refusing to take responsibility for herself. We have no idea what she has said to him about this issue, yet people are willing to decide he’s an irredeemable jerk for not managing her schedule for her.

    9. Dankar*

      I agree that this needs to be about the employee, not her relationship, but OP says that the boyfriend receives “less scrutiny over his timekeeping,” so he may not actually be late. He may have more flexibility than the employee, so she’s late, but he’s on-time for whatever his duties are. Which I would argue makes this more rude to his girlfriend, but that’s neither here nor there.

      Also, I am a chronically late person to work (in a job where I have that flexibility), and while I view time as no big deal in my personal life, I do make it a point to be on time to things that matter to my family/friends/coworkers. I honestly don’t know why taking advantage of offered flexibility and not prioritizing punctuality over ALL OTHER THINGS in one’s personal life is such a big freakin’ deal/red flag to strangers on the internet.

      1. VictorianCowgirl*

        The red flag is the employee’s inability to prioritize her punctuality over the fully grown boyfriend’s wishes to have a ride. OP has brought this up to the employee and it sounds as if nothing has changed. She knows it’s a problem and continues to allow him to make her late.

        It’s a red flag for several possible reasons. It feels a little bit silly having to type all these out since they seem so obvious but here goes:

        She’s always had a set start time and he is either willfully disrespecting that or unconsciously disrespecting it. Disrespect is a red flag, ESPECIALLY when it leads to possible loss of job. Would you ever do what the boyfriend is doing to someone you loved? Would you just assume she can be late because of you?

        She is unable to set boundaries with him. This could be because he pushes back in a way that makes her feel unable to (red flag for grooming). It could be because she has unhealthy boundaries due to her upbringing. Either way she is not prepared or mature enough to push back on him. That is not equal footing. This is a bright red flag combined with the disrespect that speaks of inequity that could lead to the *loss of her job*.

        Does this not seem so obvious? It’s strange to me.

        1. Dankar*

          OR she doesn’t realize it’s a big deal because the OP hasn’t flagged it for her seriously yet. If she doesn’t think it’s a big deal, then she probably hasn’t raised it with her boyfriend. They’re just blithely continuing on, assuming it’s not an issue. (Which is why Alison’s advise to make the issue very clear is spot-on.)

          When I said red-flag, I actually meant in the dealbreaker/friendship-ending way that is happening downthread, not in terms of domestic abuse. However, I’ve seen several controlling, abusive relationships in friends’ lives. I’ve also seen friends in fully functional relationships who couldn’t advocate for themselves due to prior family issues. In none of those situations did that abuse manifest in this way.

          I don’t make assumptions about strangers on the internet because a) I think horses, not zebras and b) it’s usually totally irrelevant to the question being asked, as it is here.

          1. Valprehension*

            I mean, she must now her work is time-sensitive. Surely she realizes some of her work is being done by her colleagues because she’s not there to do it. She’s literally not coming to work in time to do parts of her literal job – if she needs someone to tell her that’s a problem, that’s it’s own fresh new problem.

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            To be fair, to many of us the poor boundaries or abuse scenario is the horses. Different people’s lived experiences make them perceive things differently.

        2. Free Meerkats*

          But. That. Isn’t. The. OP’s. Problem.

          The OP’s problem is getting her employee to work on time. Period. All the rest of it it’s OP’s problem.

        3. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          BF vould also be a person who would just in time or only slightly late but because GF nags/pesters/screams at him so much about leaving on time in the morning he becomes anxious and ends up being even later because of it.
          They could have moved a far enough distance from work that it’s causing a lateness problem with GF that wasn’t obvious before, and she’s throwing BF under the bus as an excuse.
          Speculation like this is pointless and is totally irrelevant to OPs question.

    10. Lauren*

      OP needs to tell her that her job is on the line. Say it exactly like that. This needs to be clear and concise. Don’t sugar coat it. Her BF clearly isn’t listening to her, because her flustering shows that she prob has tried already and he totally ignores her – because he doesn’t have anyone tell him to be there at a specific time. But OP is her boss.

      – I understand that you commute together, but how you or he gets to work isn’t my concern.
      – I need you to start being here at 9 AM every day.
      – If that means leaving without him and he takes an uber or 8 buses, so be it.
      – Your job is on the line here. Be on time from now on.
      – Can you do this?

      1. TootsNYC*

        I would change this:

        – If that means leaving without him and he takes an uber or 8 buses, so be it.

        to this:
        – I don’t want to get into your personal travel arrangements, I don’t care what they are, and I don’t accept them as an excuse. Solve them in whatever way works for you.

    11. MommyMD*

      It’s definitely an entitlement mindset with the chronically late. My time is more important than yours. No matter what excuse they tell themselves or others. It’s bad behavior in both professional and personal worlds.

        1. doreen*

          There really aren’t too many options- and all the ones I can think of come down to “My time is more important than yours”. Maybe not consciously, maybe not intentionally- but still that’s what they all come down to. I had an interesting conversation with a chronically late person once- he said that he would often be ready to leave 10 or 20 minutes early and then start doing something and ended up being 10 or 20 minutes late. Someone asked him why he didn’t just leave when he was ready. He apparently was horrified at the thought of getting somewhere 10 or 20 minutes early and wasting that time while he waited for others. But he was not horrified at the thought of them waiting for him.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            Because, in the case of ADHD or other similar problems (and I’m not saying that the boyfriend has any of these), your brain plays tricks on you. That’s the very nature of the problem, having an unreliable brain.

            So, you think, Oh, I have five minutes, I can do this thing–but that turns into another thing, or it takes longer than five minutes, or or or. Or you know that you got from home to work in 25 minutes, so you tell yourself that you can leave 25 minutes before work starts–forgetting that you need to walk in, turn on the computer, etc.–or that the 25 minutes was best case, no traffic, a one time occurrence. Or you click into hyperfocus, and completely lose track of time. For hours.

            Again, I’m not saying that’s the case for the boyfriend, or for your acquaintance. But it *is* that way for lots of folks, and blanket statements such as MommyMD’s (here and elsewhere) are unkind and harmful. It’s not laziness, or being inconsiderate. It’s a disability.

            1. AKchic*

              It is a condition, but not one that always warrants a disability rating. People can modify their thinking, behaviors and patterns to adapt and overcome the symptoms of their ADHD. It sometimes takes a lot of effort, but honestly, we do not need to label all cases of ADHD a disability and write it off and give them a pass.
              We can give extra consideration, certainly, but not just a blanket pass.

              1. New Jack Karyn*

                I agree there shouldn’t be a blanket pass, and I apologize if I gave that impression. People (including myself) need to take responsibility for managing the condition. Someone elsewhere made the point that, if it is a condition of some kind, the person has to be making a reasonable effort to minimize its impact on others (as opposed to shrugging and saying Deal with it), and I think that’s fair.
                However, I’m super tired of every time lateness comes up, folks making blanket statements about the moral character of people who are chronically late. They’re lazy. They’re inconsiderate. They’re entitled children. These attitudes make it harder for people who are really suffering to recognize that they have a medical problem, and to get appropriate help.

                1. AKchic*

                  And right now, since we aren’t actually here to focus on the boyfriend manager’s issues, it doesn’t matter if he has a diagnosis or not. We are here to help the LW focus on his employee, who wasn’t a chronically late person until she started cohabitating with a chronically late person.
                  What she does to mitigate *her* tardiness is her own business. It’s up to the LW to make it clear that they will no longer tolerate her tardiness and that redistributing her work is no longer an option when she is late. She can figure out her personal life on her own and us playing armchair detective cum medical professionals isn’t going to help.

              2. spudnik*

                Also, please remember that not all cases of ADHD get diagnosed in youth. I literally just got diagnosed this year and I am in my upper 30s.

                Is it helpful to know? Yes. Does it fix years upon years upon years of trying to get my crap together? No, and nor does magically fix maladaptive habits I’ve developed.

    12. Michaela Westen*

      Being late can be disrespectful, but I’ve tended to be late since grade school and it was never intended as disrespect. It’s something I had/have trouble managing. Some people can manage their time and leave early. Some – like me – keep trying to do that and not quite getting there.
      I think the key for OP’s employee is whether the boyfriend is willing to try. If she is able to be always early/on time, she can teach him. I wish I had someone to help me with it! Then the question would be is he willing to work on it and do better? If not, that is disrespectful.
      There can also be health reasons – some people don’t feel well in the morning. In that case taking better care of himself might help, unless there’s an undiagnosed health problem.
      Of course none of this is the OP’s business – I just wanted to say it’s not always a sign of disrespect.

      1. TootsNYC*

        It may not be a sign of conscious disrespect–disrespect isn’t always intentional.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          Well, that taps into my bad parents and the bad examples they set, and respect was not included in those examples, definitely. But there was nothing specifically about being late. My mother always got flustered getting her and us out the door and I hated that stress, so I rebelled and refused to hurry.
          The thing is after I grew up and tried to hurry and be on time, I still had trouble. Some of it was pushing back against the clock. But when I identified that, and got a wake-up light alarm, and made a real honest effort to get up and out on time – it’s still hit or miss. It seems to be a combination of being slow in the morning, easily getting involved in what I’m doing and forgetting about time, and not having a good feel for how long things take. I’m much better – I’m not late every day and when I am, not more than 10 minutes unless there’s a train delay or something like that. I always make up the time and I’m very grateful my boss doesn’t mind. He loves my work. :)

    13. JSPA*

      There’s a lot of that to go around (and it’s not particularly gendered, though the consequences and the patterns around it, may be). But there are also a lot of people with sleep disturbances or unusual sleep patterns. (Some of it’s turning out to be genetic.) Or they may both have mistaken the situation for, “not a big deal.”

      If his boss is cool with it, and her boss (the OP) has only just said something for the first time, then it remains to be seen whether this is something that’s fixed by firmness; something that’s fixed by giving her an official 15 minute later start time; or if this is something that can’t be fixed so long as they’re driving together. Jumping the gun to call doom on the first two options at this point.

    14. Dontlikeunfairrules*

      Wait- do we know for sure that the boyfriend is even late to his job? If he’s able to do the hours he’s doing with no problem, why do we think he’s a habitually late person across the board?

      If they have different schedules then they can’t carpool, period. Unless the boyfriend is willing to be early.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        He’s not late to his job; his position has more flexibility about start time.

        It doesn’t matter whether he’s late. It matters to OP that his report is late to work, and that’s what she needs to address.

        1. Dontlikeunfairrules*


          But this entire thread of 140+ comments was based on the commenter’s theory of the boyfriend being a habitually late person who is never going to change and is probably late to everything.

          He’s not even late to his job, and even if he was, that’s neither here nor there.

          He shouldn’t even be part of the equation. The late employee needs to get to work on time, and if that means leaving the boyfriend home when she leaves for work, so be it. HE isn’t late. She is.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, it may help to reframe this as if you were dealing with disability accommodation under the ADA (regardless whether the ADA applies in this case).

    I think the goals for now are to: (1) compassionately let her know the pattern of problems is not sustainable; (2) gauge her current load/capacity in light of the unexpected medical issue; (3) provide a menu of potential solutions to address the pattern; (4) provide a menu of potential resources to support her; and (5) enlist her help in selecting specific solutions from the menu you’ve provided. So, for example, options could include changing her oversight levels, helping her come up with checklists / tracking, hiring a temp to cover some of her load, etc.

    With respect to accommodating her by identifying resources, I’d mention the possibility of taking intermittent FMLA leave, temporary disability coverage (if you provide that to your employees), working out a flex or WFH arrangement, schedule modifications, EAP, etc. She can decline to use those resources, but it may stress her out less if she knows that a reduction in workload, in this context, will not invite termination.

    1. triplehiccup*

      Specifically it might help if you change the workflow for external communications so that you approve them first. If you’re reading and correcting them anyway, you may as well do that before they’re sent instead of after.

    2. Feline*

      OP2, are you my manager, talking about me? I know you aren’t, because she wouldn’t think proactively like you are. Your question made me cry.

      Working with your employee on this isn’t micromanaging. It’s giving her room to breathe. Her instinct in the wake of such a life-changing event is to continue as much “normal” as she can, and that includes the workload she handled before the health crisis. The suggestions about FMLA options, etc. are good, but be aware that you’re suggesting she take (potentially) unpaid time off while she may have an also=stressful mountain of medical bills piled up at home due to her health crisis. That kept me going full-tilt longer than I should. Until a medical professional told me I had to ease up. Even then, I haven’t cut back as much as the doctor wanted. But just handing off the heaviest of the load made an enormous difference in how functional an employee I am.

      Your employee may feel more of a sense of relief than she admits if you can find a way to take some of her load for a while. If you can get her a temp, can you help by training the temp? Things that feel like adding work to her plate are going to feel bigger than normal when she’s under that kind of stress. Some of the colleagues promised to cross-train to help me are people I respect and like, but the idea of training them while continuing to meet my deadlines feels insurmountably stressful.

      Thanks for trying to help your employee gather her wits about her again. You get a gold star for this.

      1. LW #2*

        Luckily, the way our work is structured, there is already a fully cross-trained person ready to step in as needed. I think a big part is going to be convincing her to accept help from that person now, rather than waiting until she just can’t handle it anymore.

    3. Sara without an H*

      OP#2, have you talked with your HR people about this? At a minimum, your employee really needs to have paperwork in place for FMLA, whether she chooses to take it or not. FMLA can be taken intermittently, and in any case, it’s better to have the paperwork ready and not need it than to need it and not have it in place.

      Definitely take a look at her workload. Is there anything that can be delegated temporarily or just shoved to the back burner until her situation stabilizes? She sounds like the kind of hard driver who wants to just soldier through it all, but that’s obviously not going to work. Once she knows you have her back, that her situation isn’t going to be perceived as “weakness,” she may be more amenable to the kind of discussion Alison suggests.

      1. LW #2*

        HR and all legal/financial aspects are thoroughly handled. I love telling people about intermittent FMLA, it’s amazing how many people are not familiar with it!

        You are spot on about being a “hard driver who wants to just soldier through it all”. We have all been reminding her as concerned coworkers that she needs to be putting herself first throughout this.

    4. Harvey 6-3.5*

      In my workplace, two coworkers unfortunately had cancer. Both had chemo and the resultant “chemo brain” significantly effected the rate and quality of their work. One passed away and one is, thankfully, cancer free, and after several years, her work has returned to its previously stellar quality.

      So I don’t know if the concern is cancer, but if it is, “chemo brain” is definitely a real condition that had the impacts to my colleagues that you are describing. I agree with Princess above that the accomodations she describes would be great in that situation (and my management was very compassionate to the two employees, which made everything easier for everyone).

      1. TooTiredToThink*

        Yes, chemo-brain is seriously a thing. I also had a coworker deal with that too. Once I found out what chemo brain was I finally understood what was happening.

        1. Teapot lady*

          I have been working in cancer research for the past 3 years. Yes, chemo-brain is very very real and definitely not an excuse your employee is making (if that is indeed the case). I have spoken to patients who just had relatives visiting them all day in the hospital, and a few hours later, they don’t remember that anyone was there to visit them. It seriously messes up your memory and executive function in a way that would be very hard to describe to someone who hadn’t seen it. Just trying to provide some context if your employee is, in fact, dealing with a new cancer diagnosis.

      2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

        My mom was seriously affected by chemo brain, too. She’s recovered her short-term memory, but as she’s aged, she says it basically erased years of her life, she can no longer remember them. If you talk to her, there’s a good 15 year hole in her memories, from the 15 years or so before she had the chemo. They’re just…gone.

      3. TardyTardis*

        My husband had to retire from teaching chemistry due to chemo brain–he was beginning to worry about lab safety and how much time he was missing, too.

    5. Samwise*

      Exactly this. Speaking as someone who was in the same situation as your employee — this is so helpful, especially coming with a menu of specific options (but do include “what ideas do you have to help resolve X problem). My manager did all of this but did not have a ready set of options for me, and TBH my stress and distractedness was such that I couldn’t come up with options on my own. And I’m always one of those people who’s valued for going “here are twelve different ways to resolve this problem, ooo, we could try this nine things too”. Fortunately I had enough wherewithal to say to my manager, I just can’t come up with any solutions, I know this should be easy to figure out, but I just can’t, please make some suggestions for me, *that’s* what I need right now.

      And, thank you for being a compassionate and thoughtful manager.

    6. Cat Meowmy Admin*

      Just came here to say that I too am a bit emotional (in a good way), reading the heartfelt, compassionate comments by each of you – and especially to LW2 for being so considerate and helpful to your employee. This is a perfect example of true humanity from each of you. I wish you all the best.

    7. TootsNYC*

      I love this! So thorough, and covered many of the points I wanted to make.

      Especially do I like the idea of helping to create “crutches” that she may not have needed before. She could handle more, and so she may have relied on her brain for stuff. Now she can’t, and maybe she needs checklists, automated systems, shortcuts, etc.

  3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    #3 Are you certain they’re going to move you to a 1099 contract work? They should just keep you on payroll and reduce you to a temp-part time employee and pay the applicable taxes.

    When we have someone stay longer to wrap a position up, we don’t take them off payroll and change to a freelancer. So I’m wondering if that’s why your boss is talking about paying you at a prorated amount.

    1. hermit crab*

      Whoops, I should have refreshed before posting. :) I said essentially the same thing below.

    2. JT*

      You are correct; this is the arrangement our organization head offered, citing that this is how part-time salaries are typically determined, just as you have laid it out. However, in taking on this short-term work, I will be losing our family’s health coverage with the organization, which accounted for 1/3 the value of my overall compensation. Also, my understanding of part-time work is that it is an ongoing position (typically with pro-rated vacation/sick days), not a month-long agreement for specific project work. So my employer and I are coming at this from really different perspectives. That is why I need help!

    3. OP3*

      Hi there–thought I replied to your comment, but I don’t see my response listed, so I’ll try again! Yes, you are correct about the org’s thinking, but my compensation loses significant value when calculated this way, because 1/3 of my overall compensation is in the form of family health insurance that I will be losing. When resigning, I had offered to extend my full-time employment one more month to help with the transition if I could have a flexible schedule, since I’ll need to be helping out at home more. The org specified wanting me to keep the end date as is, but my boss said she also did want me to help with some project work beyond that date. She said the organization head would contact me about that arrangement, so I assumed we would negotiate a rate for that work, but he assumed they would treat me as part-time with no accounting for the loss of significant benefits. That just seemed unfair to me. Your thoughts?

      1. Silence Will Fall*

        If they’re interested in keeping you on the payroll (if you aren’t planning on doing more freelancing this year, may be the easiest route), would they consider extending your benefits?

        My dad recently transitioned out of a job. He spent three months working part time. They paid him an hourly rate based on his previous salary and also extended his benefits through that time.

      2. Lora*

        Eh, I think they are being a bit facetious with the whole “this will be your hourly rate,” because unless this is the first time EVER they’ve hired a freelancer/consultant (doubtful), they know better and are merely hoping to get you to work cheaply.

        Now, for the particular project they had in mind, you may not be able to argue for much more than whatever the market rate is for freelancers – which may well be less than what you make now after calculating taxes and insurance and whatnot. I make a LOT more in total compensation as an in-house employee than my colleagues working even for large, well-known, expensive contracting firms. But try to find out the market rate and compare what they want to pay you with that number.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          She just confirmed she wouldn’t be a freelancer in the setup they’re presenting.. so that’s why they’re not offering more do to self employment taxes. So they’re be being short sighted AF but dropping her to pay without including benefits cost but that’s about it.

        2. boo bot*

          I actually think that if they’re keeping you on as an employee it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to pay market freelance-rate, because payroll taxes are a big part of that (as far as I can figure I pay about double in taxes as a contractor what I would pay as an employee at the same salary).

          I would either figure out what the missing benefits are worth and add that, or just pick a number that would make you feel okay about doing the work, and not resentful that you’re being taken advantage of, and stick to that.

          (Also, the fact that they didn’t just keep you on full-time for another month to finish out the project just seems weird – like, seriously? They clearly need you!)

      3. Samwise*

        It’s unfair. If they want your time, effort, and expertise, they can pay what it’s worth. If you are ok going without the $, you are in a good position. Ask for what you are worth or something *close* to it. If they don’t want to pay it, then they can do without your time, effort, and expertise.

        It may be true that they’ve never done it this way before. So what? Just because others made a bad deal for themselves, doesn’t mean you have to.

      4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You’re doing them a favor, they’re looking at it poorly to not factor in the benefits cost and thinking you should be prorated on just wages.

        I agree the proper thing to do is just extending insurance through your end date’s months end. That’s how we handle it.

        Even if you only work part time hours, we wouldn’t knock someone off our insurance plan a month early. This exact thing happened to us when a person extended a month to help through onboarding their replacement. We only needed them full time for 2 weeks and then 20ish a week the last two. They were reduced to hourly and recieved benefits until the end.

        Honestly if they want to reduce you to less than your current over all compensation prorated, they’re taking advantage and I wouldn’t bother staying on at all. You did your best but they’re offering you peanuts. You don’t owe them this

      5. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s not “fairness” so much as what employer and employee can come to agree on, which is constrained both by business norms (and what they are proposing is not the norm) and what each side thinks they can get away with asking.

        I suspect naiveté over bad faith here, but their motivation isn’t that important. You gave them an easy solution and they didn’t take it; they’ve offered a solution heavily skewed to favor them and I’d advise not taking it… though as Alison says, this can be treated as more of a one-off set of circumstances than ongoing freelance work.

      6. Psyche*

        Since you are offering to stay on for a month as a favor to them, I think it is entirely reasonable for you to tell them that it won’t work for you. If they aren’t willing to raise the hourly rate, you can walk away. You offered to move your end date and they said no, so you aren’t leaving them in the lurch.

    4. MySherona*

      I know this is a slightly different situation, but in general, freelance rates should be three times your desired take-home rate. This is to account for 1/3 taxes, and 1/3 overhead. You may consider bumping it just a little if you are a freelancer who also wants to grow the business. That capital would presumably have to come out of the 1/3 overhead portion.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        That’s pretty much the standard for costing in general as well. Take the price of product (this case it’s hourly labor rate) and triple it. They do it with restaurants as well. Food cost x 3.

        It’s easier than drilling down into costs but requires a structured budget but when it’s just one person in the show, actual overhead is somewhat nonexistent.

      2. Penny Parker*

        I find it interesting (in a good way) that the 1/3 formula is used for free-lance work. I’ve been a self-employed antique dealer since I was a teen (was a relief-auctioneer at age 13) and we also work on the 1/3 formula — 1/3 for overhead; 1/3 for my cost of the item I am selling; and 1/3 for my profit. I wonder how universal this formula is. (and, having been self-employed all of my life I enjoy reading this blog and finding out how the corporate world works)

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          The formulas used for costing is pretty standardized, some will use another one or another structure because of what they’re selling, be that a physical product or a service being provided. You use your salary as your base if it’s a service you’re selling, you use the price of the product you purchased or created if it’s a physical item.

  4. Clay on my apron*

    OP2 you sound like a kind and compassionate boss. Alison’s advice is spot on. In addition to her suggestions, perhaps you could give your employee a few days off to focus on her health issues without having to juggle work at the same time.

  5. Kc89*

    #1 is infuriating

    Actually a friend of mine used to do that to her boyfriend, he was late every day to work because she couldn’t get up on time and it’s just like Jesus you’re an adult just GET UP

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          No, he didn’t have to. If he was driving, he can leave at 7:10 or whatever time is necessary.

        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Did he, though? I feel like folks feel they have to drive their partner because they’ve moved somewhere inaccessible or have one car for them both. But the girlfriend was able to get to work before they started dating, and I’m sure she can come up with a way to make it work. I think folks just feel trapped by the obligation of not leaving their partner in a lurch, but they forget that their partner is doing that exact same thing to them.

            1. Beatrice*

              If they absolutely need both incomes, he needs to get up and ready in time for her to make it to work on time, because her job could be at risk if he doesn’t. If that’s the situation they’re in, she needs to have that conversation with him and be very, very direct about it.

              And then maybe leave his derrière at home one morning, to make a point. If his job is such that he can arrive late and it doesn’t matter, he can probably withstand a sudden sick day and be okay. (And if not, all the more reason to get moving earlier.)

            2. Lance*

              I don’t follow this reasoning. They’re both independent adults; they’re not suddenly attached at the hip because they moved in together and work for the same company. There are always other possible options than driving together.

              1. JSPA*

                If one or both were previously near transit or close enough to Uber / Lyft, moving in together certainly can mean that the only affordable option is sharing a car.

                Letting him get in an hour late and short on cash a few times (after having had to Uber/Lyft) might well be curative, though. Their finances will handle that better than the loss of her job.

            3. quirkypants*

              No, if they absolutely need both incomes HE needs to get to get himself to work.

              She may choose to drive him because she’s a lovely person but HE is responsible for earning his income and everything else that goes along with that.

              1. JSPA*

                If their names are both on the lease, she’s potentially nearly as screwed as he is, if he loses his job. Mind you, he’s nearly as screwed as she is, if she loses hers, too.

            4. Observer*

              No. He either needs to figure out how to get up, they need to find another mode of transportation (which includes the possibility of a second car) or find another place to live.

            5. Dust Bunny*

              If they absolutely need both incomes, he can by god act like they need both incomes and figure out how to get up in the morning.

              I am not a morning person, but I need this job so, yeah, I get up at 5:00 and get myself together, no matter how much I don’t feel like doing it.

              1. Michaela Westen*

                Me too! 5:30. Well, I set the alarms for 5:30. Usually make it out of bed by 5:50.

                1. TootsNYC*

                  which brings up another point–OK, so he has trouble getting up. He can by god hustle himself out to the car as fast as possible.

                  On the days I grab some extra shut-eye, I don’t piddle around in the bathroom and I MOVE FAST!

            6. VictorianCowgirl*

              They’re not married. They’re choosing to cohabitate. Needing both incomes is moot.

          1. Samwise*

            Nah. Presumably the boyfriend got himself to work before he was dating the OP’s employee. He can do it again. But that’s for the employee to figure out, not the OP.

          2. Book Badger, Attorney-at-Claw*

            Either boyfriend took public transit before, or she did, and so were able to get to work independently, but that’s no longer an option for either of them. If it’s his car rather than hers, she might not be able to get to work without him. I’d suggest to the girlfriend that, if that’s the case, that she look into carpooling with coworkers instead.

    1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

      My first BF ran late all the time and he didn’t care that he was also making me late for work, he insisted that we leave together. It finally ended when I was reprimanded for being late all the time. I told him losing my job wasn’t worth waiting for him to get his act together.

          1. Works in IT*

            This is why the letter is making alarm bells ring in my head… but the employee is not the OP, so all we can do is advise the OP to make it clear to the employee that she needs to show up on time or there will be Consequences.

        1. sheworkshardforthemoney*

          Oh, it was. He had no respect for other peoples’ time and that became a deal breaker for me. I’m always early or on time and making people wait makes me cringe.

          1. MJ*

            So double power play. He deliberately made you late and he knew being late for anything upset you. Power over your ability to work and power over your feelings. Glad he’s an ex.

      1. wittyrepartee*

        Man, that’s messed up. I have trouble being on time for things, but I would also be mortified to make anyone else late.

    2. Marika*

      I understand this feeling of ‘you’re an adult, just get up’ – my spouse is not a good get-up-er. But, I’ve come to accept that one of the symptoms of his ADD is that waking up is like crawling out of a pit full of mud while someone shovels more on you – he literally has to fight his own neurochemistry to wake up, regardless of how much sleep he’s had. The ONLY thing that short-circuits this is panic. Our kid wails out of nowhere? He’s up like a shot. My brother calls at 1:30 in the morning because his wife has been taken to the hospital by ambulance? My guy is groggy as hell until he hears my brother’s tone and then he’s wide awake, the voice of calm and organizing everything. The alarm clock rings? Not a chance in hell. In the 24 years I’ve know him, no alarm has EVER worked for more than the 8-10 days it takes his brain to register it as ‘not emergency’.

      We have a variety of ‘hacks’, which I rotate mostly randomly, given that if there’s no pattern of combinations, his brain doesn’t have a ‘normal’ to latch on to. But the ’emergency alert’ thing isn’t all that good for him – his doc did blood work for something unrelated on an ’emergency awake’ morning and basically freaked out at him – told him he was farked if it looked like this regularly.

      One thing that has worked for us are Hue lights, programmed to come in at the same time every day and brighten slowly, but with random colours. This seems to be working better than most of our hacks, and it requires less work on my end.

      It’s not that he doesn’t WANT to get up… It’s just that his boot sequence is faulty.

      1. Grack*

        Agreed, I also lived with someone with adult ADHD and getting him out the door was a marathon. Eventually, my rule was, if you’re not ready by X time, I will leave without you. I was SO mad at being made late. I was made to have to leave without him too, but that was a better incentive than standing there fuming.

        Something about just seeing me get up and go would make it click in his head that he is LATE more than standing at the door tapping my foot and yelling him to hurry up. I think he had a lot of negative self talk, and so adding to the disapproval just mired him in more self-loathing, which slowed him down more.

        It took me a long time to figure that out. It is absolutely up to your employee to figure out how to handle that situation (and if she wants to) so all you can say is “You need to be here on time” and they can go to couple’s counseling or therapy if they need solutions.

        1. Marika*

          Yeah, we’re really lucky in that a) he’s in a job where his boss is less concerned with when he arrives and more concerned with ‘did the work get done’ – and bit do I know how rare that is – and b) he somehow has managed to make ‘get the kid to school on time’ something that he can do. I think it’s a case of ‘I will not allow my child to suffer for my issues’. When it comes to me? We basically agreed years ago that I leave when I have to… He either is ready or is on his own. It’s hard, as OP 1’s employee is going to have to learn, but I’m a teacher. If I’m late, 32 students suffer. My spouse vs my students? He’s the first one to say they win that one.

          1. LavaLamp*

            My mom was very ill through most of my childhood. Nothing woke her up, except. Me saying I was late for school.

            I struggle with a form of narcolepsy myself and sometimes waking up is like trying to climb out of a pool filled with honey. Sometimes it’s not as easy as just being able to do the thing no matter how much we want to. I have to strictly manage my sleep and set multiple alarms. Even then, sometimes I’m unable to get up to take my medication and end up ill with my dad or boyfriend getting me my medication and helping me.

          2. Jaybeetee*

            I had something similar happen to me. In short, I am essentially the female version of your husband. Also ADHD, same morning problems. There was a week or two a few years back when a friend picked up a substitute teaching gig right near a job where I was finishing a contract, so we carpooled. Even knowing it was important for him to not only be on time, but *early*, I just couldn’t pull it together. One day, I was around the corner from his place (meeting there) when he texted that he didn’t know where I was but he needed to go and he was just going to drive himself.

            I felt SO awful. And while for the rest of that carpool period I was never THAT late again – I can’t say I was ever early either. He was actually pretty chill about the whole thing, at least to my face – but I’ll mark we’ve never ride-shared to an early-morning event (work or otherwise) since.

            I know a lot of people say lateness is about lack of respect for other peoples’ time, but damn. I beat myself up so hard about that for so long. Years later, I still feel bad about it – it’s not that I didn’t respect his time, or that his job had different requirements from my somewhat more flexible office job. I knew. And whatever hump I can’t get over first thing in the morning, I couldn’t get over it then, either. If shame was going to fix this, I imagine it would have been fixed a few times over by now.

            1. Meh*

              Honest question, would ADD/ADHD or anti-anxiety medication make it easier for people who have it to wake up in the mornings? What about a strategy of if you know you have to leave the house at 8:00, to start trying to wake up super extra early, like setting alarms starting at 5:00 & continuing every 5 minutes so that by 7:00 you are actually able to wake up? Does going to bed extra late have something to do with it, or it happens even if you go to bed early? I have a family member who cannot be on time to anything to save her life, she was even late to her own wedding & made everyone wait buckets of time; one time I offered to drive her & some other family members to a fun run charity event but we had to leave the house very early, like 6:00 AM. I told her in no uncertain terms that if she she was late, we would absolutely leave without her & she got very angry but I didn’t care. We weren’t going to miss this event because she can never be on time. I know you say it’s not a matter of disrespect but I’d argue the person on the other end of your lateness may not see it that way. Not trying to shame, just stating a truth.

              1. Double A*

                Medication is complicated, so it make work for some people but sleep isn’t really the main thing it’s for (for ADD). Also, a lot of people take meds in the morning (since it’s a stimulant) so it’s not actually in your system to help you wake up. And you can’t just switch your sleep schedule on a whim– sure you can set your alarm 3 hours early, but you brain still keeps you up til 2:00am, then you’ve totally wrecked your sleep schedule.

                I am not a morning person but it’s just my internal clock, and as a teacher I have to be on time early in the morning (which is actually the #1 thing that’s made me wonder if teaching is sustainable for me in the long run…) and I make it work, though I can’t say I’m graceful about it. My husband has ADD and some other mental health issues and mostly the solution is to arrange your life to accommodate them, which means never making a regular early morning commitment. We’re lucky that he doesn’t have to have a job that requires that. But it’s just like any disability– you do what you need to accommodate it and are honest with other people about what you can and can’t do, and if that means you can’t be on time, or can’t be up reliably in the morning, then you rarely do things that require you to be!

                So in your example, you aunt was being a jerk even if she does have a medical reason for struggling.

              2. AKchic*

                Not really.
                You have to get up early enough to take it, be disciplined enough to take it as soon as you get up, and then it has to kick in.
                Depending on your type of ADHD and how the symptoms affect you, it may not help until you are out the door and halfway to work.

                Example: my 15 year old is an insomniac (thanks to my genetics) ADHD (both me and his dad’s genetics) and has anxiety (yay my genetics again). Being a teenager, he occasionally has sleepy days. Most mornings, he’s up before his alarm, but some days, yeah, he’ll wake up when the alarm or I wake him up. He is trained to get up and immediately take his morning meds. Because of his ADHD, we know not to make his mornings long, so he has about 35-40 minutes before he has to leave to go to school. He gets dressed, is supposed to eat (he rarely does because his meds depress his appetite and my family just isn’t big on eating first thing in the morning), make lunch (since he refuses to at night because he’s not hungry and doesn’t want to think about food for the next day), brush teeth, fix hair, etc. and grab his gear before leaving. His meds will kick in right around the time he’s leaving the house. Which is great because his meds will wear off as he’s getting home from school and if he has a lot of homework, he can take his fast-acting secondary dose to get through his homework.

                My other kids would need multiple proddings to get up out of bed in the morning because they love to sleep. Even if they are insomniacs, once they are asleep, they don’t want to wake back up. We pretty much have to drag them out of bed. Either we bring their meds to them, or have to walk with them to the bathroom to ensure they take their meds or they will forget and get a call from the school later in the morning begging us to bring a dose because they’ve already taken their emergency dose earlier in the week. No amount of reminders in their phone will get them to remember in their sleepy haze that they have a pill to take because they just aren’t “awake” enough to remember, and by the time they are… they will stall. “I can do it in a minute” and promptly forget because something else has their attention. They can’t have any electronics until they are walking out the door otherwise they will sit on the couch and hyper focus on the electronics. Trying to get any kind of routine instilled on them has been a lifelong battle that I have lost.

              3. Jaybeetee*

                I just saw this – not sure if you’ll come back and read or not. In my case, I do take meds now, but if anything, they’ve made my morning lateness worse – I seem to have that knock-on effect where I wind up with a burst of energy late at night (after the meds wear off), then often can’t fall asleep until midnight or later. And as others have said, it doesn’t kick in right away after taking it in the morning. And thus sleep through my first 2 morning alarms, etc… Of course, at the time this all happened with my friend, I hadn’t been diagnosed and wasn’t taking meds. I just figured I was a colossal f-up.

                I have attempted what you suggest, setting my alarms super early. It worked for a bit, but the effect wears off (as Marika describes with her husband, once your brain and body adjust to the “regime”, it becomes less effective). Part of my brain registers that it *is* early, ergo “I have time”, ergo back to sleep, or just quickly check one more thing on my phone, or… so far, the most effective thing for me has been a combination of alarms, including early ones, and a “sterile cockpit” bedroom (no devices in my room, or else I “quickly check one thing” first thing in the morning and surf until it’s time to leave for work).

                This might sound overwrought for a disorder that many view as a “universal excuse”, but I recall a friend of mine with bipolar talking about mental illness in general – how when she’s being destructive, she often *knows* it – but can’t seem to stop herself. She knows she’s being irrational, or manic, or what have you, but she perceives it as out of her control to stop in that moment. That’s how lateness and some other ADHD symptoms feel for me. Like, I could be in bed looking at my phone, thinking to myself, “I need to get up NOW.” And then… I just don’t? And then I scramble, and then I’m late, and then I beat myself up and promise to do it differently tomorrow – and that’s been going on for most of my adult life by now. In that sense, “Just get up earlier. Just do XYZ” is probably the functional equivalent of telling a binge-drinker to “just stop drinking so much.” The definition of mental illness seems to be, “I can’t NOT Do The Bad Thing, even if I know full well in the moment how bad it is.”

                1. Arts Akimbo*

                  This is the best explanation I have ever heard of it, Jaybeetee. Mental illness fights you, squirms and resists attempts to control it. It’s the work of a lifetime.

                2. Gazebo Slayer*

                  +1000. As a Late Person with a whole slew of other bad executive function issues and brain glitches, I absolutely concur!

              4. anon here*

                If someone could drop the half pill in my half-awake mouth and encourage me to swallow, then yes, I think so? About 15 minutes later?

                1. Arts Akimbo*

                  HAHA, yes, this!! Adderall and the like do nothing for the physical act of waking up in the morning, they only get you going after you’re already up.

                  Now where’s my pill-mouth-dropper and what’s their hourly rate?

                2. dawbs*

                  FWIW, for a while, I had an alarm that would go off and trained my half-asleep self to do the medical crap I needed done, turn off the alarm, and it sometimes kicked in for alarm 2.0.

            2. M&Ms Fix Lots of Problems*

              I totally agree with you. I think completely differently for people that have a medical reason for having trouble getting up in the morning vrs the lazy, world can’t start without me attitude to being late in the morning. The lazy people, yeah I will just leave you behind and you can figure out your own way to get to school/work. Medical reason that mornings are hard, let’s game plan and on a regular basis chat about what’s working and what need tinkering with. I think the reason why somebody is always late in the morning makes a huge difference in how much sympathy they get and how harsh the methods get fast.

      2. Former Hotel Worker*

        I can relate to this. I have a bunch of mental health stuff going on and I remember when I was in my 20s I would varied and continuous alarms to wake myself up, but would always wind up looking at the clock and doing bizarre, logic-defying, sleep-addled math in order to determine that I didn’t have to get up. And then eventually reality would snap back into focus and I was already late. Fortunately, my work situation meant that they just mostly put me on 2-10 shifts. Unfortunately this meant I never really solved the getting up problem and had no social life.

      3. Lucy*

        “boot sequence is faulty” is a very kind way of looking at it.

        But if your morning routine relies on a faulty boot sequence then you change your routine. If he’s in a role where timing is more flexible, that sounds like a great workaround for him. In the meantime she needs to find a workaround for herself which gets her to her job on time, just as if they worked completely different shifts at completely different workplaces. Presumably she managed her commute just fine before they were together.

        1. Marika*

          No question! As I said in my second comment, I leave without him if he’s not ready… OP 1’s report is going to have to learn to do that – and it’s not easy. There’s this little voice that says ‘eh, he’ll be ready in one minute, he knows it’s important for me, it’ll all work out’. He won’t; he does know, but it won’t make him ready; it rarely works out well.

          OP needs to make it really clear that X, Y and Z are the consequence of being late. She makes those clear to the only person she is concerned with: her report. Then, if the report fails to change her behaviour, OP follows through on X, Y and Z.

        2. VictorianCowgirl*

          Yes. We don’t know that the boyfriend has anything to blame other than his own inconsideration.

          I will say that this is eye-opening, I am ADHD and did NOT know that this dragging yourself through the mud to wake and get up is a common symptom. Interesting! This is so me.

          I will also say that I learned how to drag my ass out of bed and get to work on time because if I hadn’t I’d have been starving in the street. It hurts to do that, but really, come on.

      4. Kinder Teacher*

        This! This! A thousand times this! A painful thing about ADHD is that things that can seem simple but are in fact monumentally difficult, like being on time, can lead people to think the person with ADHD doesn’t respect their time or is just rude or lazy or immature or any combination of the above. I can and have slept through literally hours worth of alarms set simultaneously on my phone (charging in a different room), the Echo in the other room, and the sunrise alarm clock right by my bedside. I wake up hours after I meant or needed to and the phone is in bed with me with all alarms turned off. But I have never ever been late for an exam or a flight, something with a large amount of urgency built in, those times I am fully awake as soon as the first alarm goes off.

        Whether or not the employee’s boyfriend in Letter 1 has ADHD she needs to figure out how she is going to get herself to work on time, with or without him. But I cringe a little to see criticism of the boyfriend because if he does happen to have ADHD he’s may well be berating himself with that sentiment of “Getting up is simple, you are an adult, JUST DO IT!”

        1. Chip*

          If you are capable of getting up on time for an exam or flight, why can’t you apply the same motivation to work or other commitments?

          1. Former Hotel Worker*

            In my case, it’s because the adrenaline of the panic response stimulated by the “rare but urgent” scenario is enough to jolt me into a reasonable level of awareness. But a scenario that does not register as an emergency doesn’t excite the same chemical response and so my brain is too sluggish to recognise that I need to wake up. Changing the alarm often helps because the brain doesn’t recognise the stimulus and goes into panic mode because its new and strange and might be bad! But after a couple of weeks, the new alarm is old hat, and the brain stops panicking. No more adrenaline, no more waking up.

          2. hbc*

            Because your brain just works differently for those things. I have no problem getting up and have never slept through an alarm in my life, but if I’ve got a drop-dead must-get-up time, I helpfully start waking up in a panic every 15-30 minutes for 3 hours before the alarm. It doesn’t matter that I know for a fact that the risk of me missing the alarm is near zero (and that I’ve probably built in an hour of slack even if I did)–the lizard part of my brain is screaming at me that something important is going on.

            1. Dusty Bunny*

              ” I helpfully start waking up in a panic every 15-30 minutes for 3 hours before the alarm” — and here I thought that was just me. It’s actually a thing!

                1. EH*

                  Same. So annoying! Plus I’ll have trouble falling asleep because part of my brain is fretting that I didn’t set the alarm correctly or something.

              1. CupcakeCounter*

                I so very much have this. Have a trip coming up in August so I’m not planning on sleeping much the night before our flight.
                The winter trip flight doesn’t leave until 5pm so I am THRILLED about that

              2. Gazebo Slayer*

                Yeah, if I have an absolute deadline for something like that I tend to sleep really poorly out of anxiety. That’s not something tbat is sustainable on an everyday basis!

            1. Lili*

              I was about to say, I’ve missed a flight due to ADHD. I was so angry with myself, but Southwest was amazing and there was another flight leaving not too long after.

          3. Anononon*

            My roommate in college once had the idea to sleep in the testing room for one of her finals in college because she was so concerned about not being able to wake up.

            1. Arts Akimbo*

              A friend of mine slept fully dressed in the classroom doorway before his last final exam, with a note pinned to his jacket that said “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE WAKE ME!”

              Someone did. And when he entered the classroom, there were already six people seated. People who would have had to *step over his sleeping form* in order to get in.

              *sigh* College.

          4. Stephanie*

            Because that’s not how ADHD works. That’s like saying if someone can stand, they can walk.

          5. Lynca*

            Because it’s not actually motivation. It’s a fear response and you don’t want to hype up your life trying to make everything panic mode just to get a jolt of adrenaline your brain can function on.

            Not to say there isn’t something that you can do, there are plenty of strategies for people. It’s framing it as that the person has some sort of personal defect (you don’t try hard enough, i.e. motivation) that isn’t helpful. I’ve got motivation in spades- that doesn’t help my ADHD brain function.

          6. Pommette!*

            I used to be chronically late, but have since (with a lot of work and a lot of help) figured out how to deal with some of the root causes and fix the behaviour.

            To your question:

            – I made it on time to flights and exams by arriving absurdly early. Sleeping at the airport to make sure you catch that once a year 6 am flight is an option. Sleeping at work to make sure you make it to the once a week 8 am meeting isn’t.

            – I rallied help from friends and relatives. My mom would phone me and harass/pep-talk me out of the door for final exams. Asking her to do that every day would be a ridiculous imposition.

            – I have missed exams and flight departure times (but was saved by delays!).

          7. Jaz*

            The amount of energy it takes to be on time for those things is not sustainable on an every day level. Like most people can do an elaborate multi course dinner when they have people over but it’s not something they can do for dinner every night.

          8. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            Because inconsistency is the hallmark of ADD. I would highly recommend the book “Driven to Distraction” if you want to understand this better.

          9. KinderTeacher*

            If I could I would, but in the case of waking up it is not my conscious brain choosing to be more motivated by one thing than another. I wake up late with no memory of how I made it back in bed with all my alarms shut off. It is wildly frustrating that whatever level of my consciousness is operating when the alarms go off on a standard day doesn’t prioritize waking up if there isn’t the fear/adrenaline scenario of a flight, exam, etc. I will note my name is a bit out of date. I am in grad school currently so my schedule is entirely up to me. When I was actually in a classroom the panic of “if I don’t get to work on time, 30 five-year-olds will be in a room unsupervised” was enough to boot up my brain for the day. But “I would really like to wake up at X time because it is the schedule I would prefer tomorrow” is not enough. I will also note that “motivation” is a tricky word with ADHD. Difficulties with task initiation or completion have little to do with insufficient motivation and much more to do with insufficient/underdeveloped executive functioning skills.

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          The thing is – IF he has a legitimate medical or mental issue that makes it uncommonly hard to get up in the morning, then he is STILL a jerk because he moved to a place without public transportation and is expecting his girlfriend (who has a much more ridged start time than him) to get him to work in the morning, knowing historically he can’t get up on time. If you know you have serious struggles to get up, then you can’t make your girlfriend pay the price for that every single day. Honestly it sounds like he set this up so that she would be responsible for getting his butt out of bed.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            Yup. If he knows that he’s never out on time, it was a pretty bad idea for him to arrange things so that he’s dragging her down every morning.

          2. Zillah*

            It’s a real stretch to say that someone moved in with their significant other so they could make the SO late.

            1. New Jack Karyn*

              Yeah, that’s taking it too far. Best case scenario is that he’s ADHD or has something else medical going on, and hasn’t worked out his issues yet. Other options include him just being selfish and inconsiderate.

              There’s a long way from that to ‘Machiavellian manipulator who moved his girlfriend out to the suburbs so she could become his Mommy’.

            2. MusicWithRocksInIt*

              I’m not saying he moved in with her in order to make her late. I’m saying that at some point when they were planning the move they discussed choosing a place with no public transportation near by and decided they would drive to work together, and he let that happen knowing full well he has trouble getting up in the morning. His thought process could have been “Hey, since we are driving together girlfriend can help me get up on time! This will work out great”. He wasn’t out to ruin her life, he was just being selfish and hoping she would solve his problems for him, and didn’t care enough that it would be creating new problems for her.

              1. Not Sayin'*

                I had a manchild SO one time who expected me to be RESPONSIBLE for getting his butt out of bed in the morning. It wasn’t enough that I woke him — he tried to make it my fault if he rolled over and went back to sleep. Oh, the hell no!

              2. anon here*

                Was years before I realized that other people didn’t have similar problems. And more years, to figure out that mine had a medical component. I figured it was that hard for most people, and that I was somehow just lazy and failing for Being A Bad Person reasons. Plenty of people were glad to agree with that.

              3. Zillah*

                That’s certainly possible, but it’s a huge stretch to state it as the most likely scenario. IME, people who are chronically late are far more likely to be guilty of being overly optimistic about their ability to change than they are to be selfish in the calculated way you’re describing.

          3. That Would be a Good Band Name*

            As they are in different departments and he doesn’t have a hard start time, it’s possible he just simply doesn’t realize that she does have a hard start time. I say I work at 7a (my office’s typical start time), but we have flexibility so it’s not unusual to get there 15-20 minutes late (all of us do this, some more than others). So perhaps she’s said “my shift starts at X” and he assumes that since they work in the same place that it’s really X plus or minus 20 minutes like it is for him.

            1. KayDay*

              This is my guess as well. I think the girlfriend needs to first try explaining that her schedule is more rigid than his. I haven’t worked in any job with a hard start time since I graduated at most jobs people usually started anytime between 7.30 and 9.15, with most coming in 8.30 – 9. I think if I had a colleague who was worried about being “on-time” I’d think that someone told them incorrect info. (I had one job where I was told by my predecessor that the start time was 8.30, busted my non-morning-person-butt to get there and three months later found out that there was no fixed start time.)

          4. Sarah N*

            This. Regardless of what the issue is, they could have chosen an apartment near transit, gotten two cars, moved somewhere where they can walk or bike, whatever. Apparently both people were getting themselves to work before they moved in together, and presumably would both find a way to get to work if they break up. So it’s jerky to make life choices like setting things up to rely on your partner for a ride when you KNOW you’re not a morning on-time person.

        3. pleaset*

          If ADHD is a medical condition, then the person could be treating it with therapy or training or medicine or something. Or at least trying to.

          If they are not treating it or trying to treat it, and they were making me late, I’d be very mad. I’d think they actually don’t respect my time. Just having a medical condition is not an excuse if they are not trying to deal with the condition insofar as it affects other people negatively.

          1. Close Bracket*

            If only it were that easy. ADHD can be managed, but which symptoms can be managed and to what extent is highly variable. ADHD is a neurotype. You can’t cure it. Saying it can be treated is like saying cerebral palsy can be treated. Sure, there are interventions that can help, but at the end of the day, the person’s body/brain just work different. And that’s never going to change.

            1. pleaset*

              OK, I’ll change what I said, given that “there are interventions that can help.”

              If the person isn’t at least trying to find interventions to help, I’d get mad at them.

          2. JSPA*

            It’s “treatable” in much the same sense that, if you’re short, you can use a ladder. But using ladder doesn’t make you a tall person. It makes you a short person on a ladder. There are places you can’t put a ladder. There are times you don’t have a ladder. A ladder doesn’t change your proportions / make your arms longer / extend your reach to the sides. And you can fall off a ladder / ladders can break.

            (You realize ADD meds are amphetamines, right? There are legit risks even when they’re working right, as well as the problem of habituation. Nobody wants to end up living / writing Naked Lunch.)

            1. pleaset*

              You do realize I said “try”, right?

              “It’s “treatable” in much the same sense that, if you’re short, you can use a ladder. ”

              I read this and think – OK, so at least in some cases there are things that might help. So thanks for that info. If they tried some action and said “The ladder doesn’t work for X reason” OK. But if they don’t try and their behavior hurts me, I’d be mad. I think that’s reasonable.

              1. pleaset*

                A person with the condition wrote the following below BTW

                “I’m ADD. This is not insurmountable. Things that helped me over the years — knowing no one else was going to wake me up, that I would fail classes if i weren’t really awake, a hellish alarm clock on the other side of the room, and resetting my internal clock like I’d shifted time zones. And planning more sleep time.”

                Try. Obviously, those things might not work, but they have to try.

                1. Close Bracket*

                  I think you are putting a little too much weight on one person’s success story. To borrow a phrase from another form of neurodivergence, if you’ve met one person with ADD, you’ve met one person with ADD.

                  You definitely get to be mad about another person making you late, and you get to take whatever steps you need in order to stop being late. You just have to understand, and I don’t think you do, that they don’t have to try bc there is little reason to believe that what they try will be effective.

                2. New Jack Karyn*

                  To Close Bracket: I think pleaset is not being unreasonable. They’re saying that the person with the condition making life rough on their partner, roommate, boss, whoever, has the responsibility to make a good faith effort to minimize the impact of that. As someone with ADHD, I think that’s fair.
                  No one method is going to work for all people. Not all medications or dosages are going to be effective for everyone. It’s going to take some trial and error to find a workable system. It would be great if the partner/roommate/boss can find some grace while the person is figuring it out. But they have do have to try. We really do have to put in some effort.

      5. Myrin*

        I don’t think it’s particularly helpful for us to speculate whether the boyfriend has ADHD or some other mental health issue – I understand that you’re not doing that, Marika, just relaying your own experience, but this stuff always, always leads to huge derails.
        I also feel like it’s particularly unhelpful in this scenario because we’re not talking about OP or even OP’s partner but about OP’s report’s boyfriend and coworker (that’s thrice removed from us, basically) – if our advice is to not talk to boyfriend, our advice should most definitely also be to not diagnose the boyfriend.

        1. Marika*

          I understand it feels like a derailment, and I’m sorry it does. If this were a case of some random new boyfriend in the OP’s report’s life making the report late, I probably wouldn’t have said anything.

          But, and it’s a big one, OP works with the boyfriend, may have to interact with the boyfriend, and all the comments were ‘the guy is a lazy jerk’ type. That kind of tone can get into your head, and I wanted to offer OP a different perspective. I’m not trying to speculate on the BF’s neurochemistry; I’m just trying to offer the idea that the BF might not be a horrible person in the hope that the whole thing doesn’t taint any working relationship the OP might need to have with BF in the future.

          And honestly? The constant stream of ‘you can do this if you really want, you’re just lazy, what kind of adult can’t get up in the morning?’? It did a lot of damage to my spouse over the years. Not everyone knows it’s a common symptom of ADD; his first doctors certainly didn’t tell him. I hoped putting it out there might help some readers who might have the same issue, instead of more ‘you’re a failure if you can’t get up’ messaging.

          1. scorpysuit coryphefuss arterius*

            Thank you for this. Just about all of my favorite people are ADHD, and it can be rough seeing the old ‘they’re just lazy/disrespectful’ thing repeated over and over again.

            Sure, it’s on the employee to get to work on time. But we can also be a little more charitable and open-minded about other people rather than declaring them jerks based on just a tiny sliver or two of their lives.

          2. Arts Akimbo*

            +1 to this. Every mentally ill person I know has gotten the message that we’re just lazy and stupid pre-diagnosis.

      6. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I’m ADD. This is not insurmountable. Things that helped me over the years — knowing no one else was going to wake me up, that I would fail classes if i weren’t really awake, a hellish alarm clock on the other side of the room, and resetting my internal clock like I’d shifted time zones. And planning more sleep time.
        By the way, if he has extremely vivid dreams that he remembers and can’t shake, or if he snores, I suggest he talk to his dr about sleep apnea. My CPAP makes more difference to my being able to wake up than all the rest combined. .

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Not saying it’s EASY btw. Just that there’s a way to make a routine for ourselves…another trick is teaching the new pet that food comes from late-sleeper first thing in the am. Cats can be VERY effective.

          1. Ellex*

            As my cats apparently run on a clock that is approximately 10-15 minutes faster than my alarm clock, I can attest that there are few things as effective for getting you up as a cat that wants breakfast NOW.

            1. EH*

              I read a tip along these lines a bit ago – if you give your pet a treat every time you take your scheduled medication, they will hassle you to take your meds. Pets can be great for enforcing schedules. :)

      7. Mel*

        I had no idea this is a symptom of adult ADD. A friend’s husband is like this, can’t wake up, chronically late at all times, and he has an adult ADD diagnoses, but I don’t think they were told this is part of it, because they both seem bewildered by it.

      8. TheRedCoat*

        “It’s not that he doesn’t WANT to get up… It’s just that his boot sequence is faulty.”
        Thank you for putting into words what I feel every day. This will make it so much easier to explain!

      9. Zillah*

        This. I hate the way that conversations about lateness tend to devolve into character judgments and “it’s not that hard.” There’s a problem here; it can be a problem that needs to be addressed without calling people who are chronically late lazy, malicious, etc.

        I’m very happy for all the people it’s easy for to be on time; as with many other basics that most people find simple, not everyone is lucky enough to have that experience. It’s possible to talk about the impact without insulting a broad group of people, many of whom are not lazy, malicious, etc.

      10. Always late.*

        My husband also has ADHD, and this was our situation as well. He just couldn’t deviate from his routine at all even if we were late, regardless of what time he woke up. We missed a plane, lost some friends, I got reprimanded for lateness (I actually switched my start time 15 minutes later, and didn’t tell him), but the only thing that actually clued him in was when HE was reprimanded for lateness. I don’t think it was that he didn’t care, but it just didn’t register that his behaviour had an impact on me, and probably thought I was overreacting (he comes from a family with severe behaviour disorders), until it happened to him.

        We ended up doing some therapy around this because his “routines” were killing us.

        I have a really hard time with being late because my mother was ALWAYS late, and she always made me late, I needed to be driven into school in a different city due to the program I was in, and I would routinely be up to an HOUR late for school.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

          You bring up a good point, if she moves her start time back she shouldn’t tell him. Although this is probably not something the LW should tell her to do, unless they are more friendly with one another.

        2. pleaset*

          My partner is often late. Now when possible, I just leave if she’s not ready. I did it yesterday – I did not want to be late, so got to where we were supposed to myself. As it happened, I was 15 minutes early (subway was running well), so I waited outside until it was time to go in or she arrived – whichever came first. She got there just on time.

          Even when I can’t really leave without her, I do go out the apartment door. This seems to motivate her more.

        1. L.S. Cooper*

          I spend plenty of time kicking myself over it, and all it’s gotten me is depression and a completely ruined sense of self-worth. 0/10, would not recommend.

        2. Miss Eliza Tudor*

          This is a pretty unkind thing to say about people who have trouble waking up because their brains work differently. I’m sure it was meant as a joke, but as someone with ADHD, it came across really poorly to me.

        3. L.S. Cooper*

          This is exceptionally unkind. Maybe a swift kick in the ribs will make people think before making terrible “jokes”.

      11. MommyMD*

        Nope. I’m up with asthma half the night a lot. I feel like I’m in a coma come morning. Still have to get up. Everyone can have a reason they can’t get up. If you weren’t there and he would lose his job and income, he’d get up.

        1. Zillah*

          That’s awesome for you, but it doesn’t make it not really weird to make such a definitive and dismissive statement to someone you don’t even know (!) about their significant other’s health condition.

      12. Clay on my apron*

        I have ADHD and I’m not a morning person. I struggled for years to get out of bed and get to work on time. I was convinced that I couldn’t wake up unless my husband brought me tea. Drinking my tea before it went cold was my incentive to drag myself out of sleep.

        Two things changed. I started taking responsibility for getting myself up and I put some interventions in place for myself. My phone switches itself off at 10pm so that I can’t read “just one more blog post”. I have 2 alarms set, one 30 minutes after the other, after which I usually manage to get up. And I have a 3rd alarm which goes off when it’s time to leave the house.

      13. TootsNYC*

        I so love the light-based alarm clocks. They have been VERY effective.

        I didn’t know they came in colors; that’s interesting!

    3. MommyMD*

      I know. Getting up in the morning is something a grown adult can control. No one is special because they are tired in the morning and wish they could sleep. We all do.

      1. Louisa*

        I would strongly disagree. I struggled for years with this and frequently had my concerns dismissed by medical professionals for this very reason. I came to see myself as just lazy and useless. After almost 20 years, I finally gained the right combination of support and life circumstances to allow me to work through the issue. Yes, I still experience tiredness, and no I do not like getting up. But it is honestly a breeze compared to the feeling of utter sluggishness, disorientation, and helplessness I used to experience every morning as I would lie there mentally screaming at myself to just please, for the love of god, get up! I still get comments like “oh but everybody feels like that, right?” when I talk about this and honestly all I do now is laugh because I have experienced both, and one is nothing like the other. Age has nothing to do with it. The boyfriend in this case may have something far more complex going on, but that’s for him to discuss with his own supervisor, and any knock on effects involving the girlfriend would be between her and her supervisor.

        1. quirkypants*

          Your last point is essential here. There may be legitimate reasons for him being late or having trouble getting to work on time, but (a) he needs to be the one to handle that, and (b) his partner/girlfriend needs to take responsibility for herself. There may be consequences for her and she can’t use another adult’s medical issues to explain why she’s late daily.

          I don’t have a medical condition that causes me to be late (as far as I know) but I do have trouble leaving the house on time regularly. I have a position where it’s no big deal if I’m late 90% of the time. My partner needs to get to work on time so our solution is we don’t travel together. I can’t let my own disorganization and lack of motivation in the morning affect them. (On the odd morning when I need to be there on time, I am better at getting myself out of the house AND sometimes I give him and take an uber to work when I’m desperate… but again, that’s MY price to pay, not my partner’s)

        2. MommyMD*

          Extremely common. More people go through this than you know. When the consequences of not forcing yourself to get up are bad enough people get up. This obviously regards physically health people, not anyone with serious disease such as cancer, Parkinson’s, seriously uncontrolled diabetes or serious mental illness such as schizophrenia or suicidal depression.

          1. JSPA*

            You experience exhaustion that makes it hard to get up? Yes, THAT we’ve all experienced!

            That’s not actually what we’re talking about here, though.

            You’re awfully vehement about what other people’s experiences are! It’s well documented that people have died (whether in house fires or fox holes) because, no, there’s not necessarily an override for sleep. More commonly, some people continue to wet the bed into adulthood, or fall down the stairs trying to get out of bed while not fully awake.

          2. Zillah*

            You’re really invested on invalidating other people’s lived experiences here, and you don’t seem interested in what they’re actually saying about it. It’s really weird.

            1. Gazebo Slayer*

              Yes, but unfortunately typical of this poster, and unsurprising given her disgusting political views.

          3. Arts Akimbo*

            Run-of-the-mill depression can also do this. I don’t know why only “serious” mental illnesses are excused somehow when depression, bipolar, ADD and the like are, I guess, non-serious enough to get moral censure?

        3. Lalaroo*

          Yes, I so relate to your point about having experienced both! I have ADHD, and I have always, ALWAYS been late. I’ve been severely reprimanded for it, given written warnings, ruined references, etc. I really relate to the poster above who talks about the intense shame they felt about their lateness. The thing that literally changed my life was reading that my medication (Vyvanse) takes about two HOURS to kick in. I started setting an alarm across the room two hours before I actually need to wake up, and when it goes off I take my medicine.

          Suddenly I’m awake before my second alarm goes off two hours later! Suddenly I can get out of bed without wanting to cry because I’m so exhausted! Suddenly my tired brain isn’t making terrible decisions like sleeping for five more minutes ten times until I have zero chance of being on time!

          To be honest it makes me kind of angry now that I know what it’s like for normal people. Honestly, how dare people like Mommy MD call us lazy when we are doing the equivalent of a 5k carrying a sandbag while they jog a quarter mile? If you don’t have ADHD, you don’t know what it’s like to have ADHD, and you need to believe us when we say being lazy isn’t the problem.

          1. Arts Akimbo*

            That’s exactly what I felt like when I finally got diagnosed and medicated for my mental health condition– I felt angry knowing what it’s like for normal people, and how freaking easy they have it!

          2. Zillah*

            My ADHD medication literally feels like I’m putting glasses on my brain. Medication doesn’t make me not ADHD, but the difference is so huge, especially around executive functioning.

        4. KayDay*

          Even without any medical issues, you are so right that “everybody feels like that” is false. I remember going on vacation with a group of friends staying together in an apartment. It became really apparent how different people felt around bedtime and in the morning. I had one friend who just sprung out of bed and was out the door 15 minutes later to go pick up some breakfast. Others of us needed varying amounts of coffee and/or time to be ready to move. If we had hypothetically worked together (we did not) and had a fixed start time, I can guarantee that some people would struggle more than others, just due to their own internal clocks. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be on time, just that doing it would be a lot easier for some people than others.

      2. min*

        While I completely agree with the consensus that the boyfriend’s problem should not be the LW’s employee’s problem, I dispute your statement that a grown adult can control when they get up.

        For most of my adult life my body clock was out of sync with society and waking up on time was extraordinarily difficult. In my early 20s I would be woken up by my roommate banging on the wall because my clock radio was blaring at full blast next to my head and I was sleeping right through it.

        I would also turn my alarm off in my sleep with no memory of doing so. I tried to get around this by putting it at the end of my bed. I once woke up 3 hours late with the cord to the clock still between my toes because I had pulled the plug out of the wall with my foot while asleep.

        Luckily, this all suddenly stopped around the age of 40, but it definitely wasn’t something I was intentionally doing and it was always very distressing to me.

        1. Yellow*

          For the majority of adults, it is that simple. I don’t why commenters are assuming the boyfriend is neurodivergent is coming up with excuses on his behalf when there’s nothing in the letter to indicate that.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            It’s a reaction to the people knee-jerk saying that it’s so simple, Just get up!

          2. Grapey*

            Even if there were things in the letter to indicate that, it is not OP’s problem, nor should it be her employee’s problem.

          3. Name Required*

            People aren’t assuming the boyfriend is neurodivergent; they’re insulted by Kc89’s comment because they are neurodivergent, and expressing that by using boyfriend as a foil.

            A day doesn’t go by without someone in this comment’s section jumping to say, “Yeah, but what if he has adhd/autism/an invisible disability/illness like me?!?!” regardless of whether it derails the conversation or has zero impact on the advice to the OP. In this situation, it has definitely derailed the conversation and doesn’t change Alison’s advice to the OP at all.

            1. Double A*

              When people are saying unkind things that have created self-hating narratives for people who struggle with legitimate medical issues, I’d argue it’s not derailing to challenge those statements and provide a different perspective.

              Literally no one is saying “well maybe the boyfriend has ADHD, the boss should assume that and this shouldn’t be a problem!” The comments are responding to the unkind and unhelpful generalizations about people who wake up late all being lazy or jerks or not real adults or manipulative. Yeah, it’s derailing in that it doesn’t really matter for this particular letter, but speculating on the boyfriend’s character ALSO doesn’t matter while also hurting people who do have medical issues that aren’t understood by most people.

              1. Name Required*

                You would argue that it doesn’t derail the conversation to challenge those statements. My observation is that one or two people make a crappy comments that reflects poorly on them, and then 70 other people follow up to “challenge” those comments. Somewhere around comment 50 or so, it stops being advocacy and starts being virtue-signaling.

                1. New Jack Karyn*

                  Why not challenge the people saying crappy things? What do you mean by ‘virtue-signaling’?
                  People have speculated that the boyfriend might be abusive because he has trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Yeah, folks are gonna push back on that.

            2. Dahlia*

              That’s not exactly it.

              It’s like if someone in the comments went, “Wow, I really hate how people with dry skin look. They should fix that. I had dry skin once and put moisturizer on and it got better so anyone who doesn’t do that is lazy and ugly and a bad person.”

              And then others were like, “Uh, I have psorasis” or “Hey I have ezcema” or “Hey I’m allergic to 99% of moisturizers out there”.

              And then some people were like, “God, we weren’t talking about you, grow up,” and those others were just like, “…you just insulted me and I’m supposed to grow up?”

            3. JSPA*

              Not automatically hating on people (or not making ablist presumptions) would solve this problem before it starts.

        2. Eillah*

          Also, this kind of attitude is precisely what makes it so difficult for neuro-atypical people to:

          1. Identify that there is a problem
          2. Be able to talk to a doctor about it
          3. Have doctor listen and assist accordingly.

          1. VictorianCowgirl*

            This blog is not the cause nor the solution to that particular problem. We’re here to answer OP’s question and provide commentary and insight from our own experiences. Not to answer the world’s ills or take every single solitary oblique possibility into account when it doesn’t serve the OP’s answer.

            1. Eillah*

              Next time it’d be quicker to write “empathy isn’t a high priority for me” FYI.

            2. Double A*

              Okay then people should stop calling the boyfriend a lazy jerk, which is what the original comment in this thread said and is also totally irrelevant to the question asked.

              And this blog does serve to expose people to other people’s experience in the workplace; the the cause or ultimate solution for nothing, but it can be part of helping people understand each other.

              1. pleaset*

                Jerk is quite a judgment and I’m not sure I’d use that.

                Lazy is one possibility – the most likely one I’d think. That’s the simplest explanation, though illness and medical conditions are others that we should all be aware of and sympathetic to for sure.

                “How does it serve the OP to hear that her employee’s boyfriend is a lazy jerk over and over?”
                Well, if it’s true she should consider dumping him. I think it’s good to point that out if the OP doesn’t recognize it, and if (big IF) it’s true.

            3. General Ginger*

              How does it serve the OP to hear that her employee’s boyfriend is a lazy jerk over and over? Equally unhelpful.

            4. New Jack Karyn*

              If we’re here to answer OP’s question, then we can stop calling the boyfriend a lazy jerk and possible abuser. It’s getting pretty nasty in here.

              1. bonkerballs*

                Honestly, that’s pretty par for the course with this comment section whenever there’s a boyfriend involved.

            5. Gazebo Slayer*

              We’ve had a whole lot of people providing “commentary and insight from our own experiences,” but you and various others prefer to just steamroll over us and declare us manipulative, selfish, lazy, disrespectful, unworthy of relationships with other people, and generally worthless.

      3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        Fatigue is a real thing, and a symptom of a variety of chronic problems. When I finally concluded that caffeine wasn’t enough, my doctor didn’t say “you’re a grown adult, you’re not special because you have fatigue and executive function issues,” he said “let’s see what we can do to help you.”

        I realize I’m lucky there, because saying “I need a new doctor because the current one gave up after the insurance company vetoed this new medication and won’t prescribe a stimulant” is a good way to be labeled “drug-seeking,” as if there was something immoral about wanting medical help with my problems rather than being expected to pull myself up by my bootstraps, even by people who wouldn’t scorn someone for wanting pharmaceutical help with blood pressure or insulin.

      4. Not a morning person*

        Yeah, no. As others have commented, ADD/ADHD can make it insurmountably difficult to get up. Trust me, I don’t sleep in because it’s nice, it’s because I can’t help it. It is so frustrating, and it honestly brings me close to tears on a regular basis.

        That being said, I don’t let my inability to get up affect others if I can help it. And I don’t expect others to manage this for me. Having some compassion for the boyfriend is good, but ultimately this is something the girlfriend cannot (and shouldn’t) fix.

        1. Yellow*

          Why have compassion for a person who, as far was we know, does not suffer from any sort of disability? Chances are he’s just lazy and/or bad at managing time.

          1. Not a morning person*

            Very true! We don’t know what’s going on. But I always try to assume the best until proven otherwise. *shrug*

          2. New Jack Karyn*

            Because he’s a human being, and we don’t know his story. That’s why. I’m all for OP1 not mentioning the boyfriend at all when she talks with her report. I’m absolutely on Team She Leaves Without Him at 7:20.

            I’m not about ascribing negative characteristics to someone about whom we know very little, and what we *do* know might have a medical cause.

          3. Psyche*

            Why not? Having compassion doesn’t hurt anything and being judgmental doesn’t help. So why not choose to be kind?

              1. Eillah*

                And that’s not what anyone here is doing. They’re saying “this sounds similar to my experience as a non-neurotypical person, showing understanding can help for the following reasons.”

              2. Parenthetically*

                That’s an odd thing to say. It’s not indecent to compare experiences. I see a lot of people saying, “Yeah, this sounds like me with my ADD/ADHD/executive dysfunction, can we please not fly to assuming the boyfriend is Darth Vader and Voldemort and Patrick Bateman all rolled into one?”

              3. Close Bracket*

                Assuming disability isn’t compatible with decency? Why not? Is there something wrong with disability or neurodivergence that makes it indecent to suggest? What a line of thinking.

              4. New Jack Karyn*

                A decent person doesn’t rule out the possibility of disability. A decent person doesn’t imply that someone they don’t know is a lazy jerk and possibly an abuser because they have trouble getting out of bed in the morning.

          4. smoke tree*

            But this is going down the same rabbit hole as the LW–it really doesn’t matter to the LW or even to her employee what the boyfriend’s sleep and punctuality issues are, in this case. She just needs to get to work on time, with or without him. Since his job doesn’t require him to be on time, it seems to me the most sustainable solution is for him to have a backup transportation plan for when he’s running late. But it’s between the employee and the boyfriend to work that out.

        2. wittyrepartee*

          You know what’s fun? Having a panic attack upon waking up because you know you’ll be late but couldn’t fully wake up when the alarm went off.

      5. L.S. Cooper*

        You’re supposed to be a doctor? And have no sympathy for people with the myriad of medical conditions that make getting up in the morning more difficult than it is for other people?
        Sleep apnea? Narcolepsy? The whole basket of executive function disorders?

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          Woah, woah. We don’t know at all that the boyfriend has any of these and the numbers show he most likely doesn’t.

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            A) I’m not sure they do show that he most likely doesn’t.
            2) It doesn’t particularly matter. MommyMD’s post was unkind.

        2. pleaset*

          He might even be in a coma. Should he have to get himself out of a coma all by himself? That’s a pretty tall ask.

          He might be dead even. Not waking up at all. That’d be bad, but we can’t blame him for that.

          1. Dahlia*

            So if he doesn’t have a medical issue, we can’t be compassionate and kind to others around us? Weird flex, but okay.

        3. SunnyD*

          Typical comment from that person. I assume they’re from Maryland rather then a Medical Doctor, or something else, because one hopes an actual doctor wouldn’t be so ignorant.

          1. Gazebo Slayer*

            About 75% of her comments make me feel bad for her patients. (And possibly her children.)

      6. Errol*

        It isn’t that simple. I am neurotypical, no major health issues but my internal clock is messed the eff up from working shift work and varying schedules and staying up too much in my early 20’s that I am useless in the morning. Travel also can screw up your clock for months after, Day light savings time too. My internal clock still isn’t sure what planet I am on most of the time and there isn’t anything I can do about it.

        Some people just aren’t morning people and the mornings are a grind. Not everyone is on a rise with the sun schedule.

        I currently work at 630 in the morning, usually am about half hour late every single day which doesn’t matter at my work, I just work a bit later so it’s fine which is exactly the boyfriends set up. This is just an issue because SHE doesn’t have that flexibility. The LW should focus on her employee that needs to be on time and forget about the boyfriend.

    4. Isabelle*

      Waitbutwhy has some good posts on people who are always late and procrastination in general.
      Google “waitbutwhy procrastination”

      It helped me have a better understanding of people who are always late but I have to admit it still drives me crazy at times.

      1. Dusty Bunny*

        Lifelong procrastinator here. It is my personal cross to bear, and I frustrate myself on a regular basis with my bad habits. But here’s the thing — I easily get up in the morning, and I am rarely late for anything. I loathe being late. My mother was late for everything, and she was not a procrastinator in any way. Her MO was, “Let me do this one last thing before we get out the door.” And then we were late. Every time. The procrastinator’s motto is, “I’ll get around to it. Eventually.” So therefore I am not late. I am just confronted with the undone task when I arrive home. Every time.

    5. Observer*

      BF needed to figure out a better solution. That’s true. But as others have noted. “Just get up” is not always so simple for some people.

      Which is another good reason for the OP to stay out of that discussion.

  6. hermit crab*

    OP3: is the company actually going to be paying you as a freelancer/independent consultant? They may be assuming that they’ll just keep you on the payroll as part-time staff. That happened a lot at my former job – people dropped down to part time if they were, say, going back to school full-time but willing to put in a few hours a week on a particular project until it was done. They didn’t get benefits, but they were still W2 employees. Anyway, I wonder if this should be part of the conversation.

    1. OP3*

      I just replied to the previous similar comment but didn’t explicitly identify myself as OP3–still learning how the forum works! :) You are right, the organization wants to calculate this as a drop to part-time, but that seems wrong to me. In my understanding, part-time implies an ongoing position that includes not only pro-rated salary but also pro-rated vacation and sick time. This is a one-time arrangement beyond my effective resignation date for a specific set of projects. When my full-time employment ends, I will lose our family’s health insurance, which is 1/3 the value of my overall compensation. It is helpful to see that some commenters understand the org’s point of view, because I didn’t! The 2 methods of looking at this are very different, with significant ramifications for compensation. I am not trying to squeeze the org here but don’t want to offer this extra help if it’s not fairly compensated.

      1. Sara without an H*

        OP3, may I say how refreshing your attitude is? I can recall several letters to AAM from people who were essentially working for their former employers for nothing because they “didn’t want to let them down.”

        You’re thinking like a professional. Good luck on your negotiations.

        1. OP3*

          Thank you! It helps to have the affirmation from professionals on this forum, because I was starting to question my perspective based on the org head’s incredulous response. I am trying to keep it all above board and am willing to do this for a really reasonable rate but will not accept an arrangement that strikes me as unfair. I am also OK with walking away, even though I don’t want to leave the next person in the position in a tough spot.

          1. Not One of the Bronte Sisters*

            You’ve already offered to extend your exit date, and they’ve said no. If they’re unwilling to offer you fair compensation, including considering what the loss of benefits means to you, then that’s that. They are leaving themselves in a tough spot; that’s not on you.

      2. Ali G*

        It depends. If you drop below a certain number of hours you probably no longer qualify for benefits (which you would have lost regardless when you quit working for them) like PTO and health insurance. I actually might agree with your employer on this – since they are keeping you on payroll, just as part-time, if you don’t qualify for benefits anymore, they have no obligation to pay you more than your current rate for the work. Now, if you switched to a contractor, you definitely would want to do as Alison says because you will be paying your own payroll taxes, SS, etc.
        Look at it this way, if you didn’t offer to take on the project after you end date, you still would be paying for your own health insurance anyway. The company doesn’t have an obligation to pay you the value of your benefits beyond paying your taxes, if you no longer meet the minimum requirements to earn them.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Problem with paying her own insurance is most costs are relevant to your income. Having none means it’s lower than having some. So she’s losing out by quite a bit if they want to go this direction and play “no wiggle room, strict letter of the law” on “eligibility” of benefits.

          I too understand the policies all too well but this grey area is huge since they don’t need go reclassify FT to PT for such a temporary adjustment period.

          HR has a lot more flexibility than most are aware of because they choose not to go there, it’s not because they can’t.

        2. Psyche*

          I disagree. While she would be paying her own health insurance regardless of whether she did the part time work, she would also have more free time if she doesn’t do the part time work. So if the hourly rate is not worth her time, she should turn it down. The effective hourly compensation is lower without the benefits and the employer is the one who wants her to stay on part time for a month. It is on them to make it worthwhile for her to agree.

          1. Lance*

            Basically this. Sticking to the letter of the law is fine and all… but if we’re talking about ‘obligation’, OP, strictly speaking, has no real obligation to continue working after they leave. They are, in effect, doing the company a favor and making a nice gesture; it’s not great of the company to not compensate that accordingly.

          2. OP3*

            Thank you. That is exactly how I feel. The hourly compensation offered to me is only $21/hour, and 10 years ago I did freelance work for a minimum of $30/hour, so it’s really not an acceptable rate unless, as someone else suggested, they offered to keep me on part-time with continued health insurance for a month. As I mentioned elsewhere, the health insurance package made up 1/3 my overall compensation, so I’d be losing a lot of the value of my employment.

            1. Gerta*

              Having had similar (tense) negotiations with a former employer, I sympathise! They didn’t feel they could cope without me, yet it was amazing how when they looked at my actual hourly rate based on my salary and benefits at the time, they suddenly decided it was far too expensive, because that rate included unpaid overtime. I had to point out that when I was working 50-60 hours a week (on a contract that was nominally for 40 hours), not every one of those hours was realistically as productive as it could be – not least because I was often picking up things that could be done by more junior staff if they had had the time. Whereas treating me as a freelancer, they could choose to send me just the work that truly couldn’t be done by anyone else, and I would be 100% focussed on it for the few hours it took me to get it done.

              It was a shame, because it left a bit of a sour note at the end of what had basically been a very good relationship, but I wasn’t willing to be taken advantage of. They agreed to the rate, but barely used me after I left, which was totally fine by me because I’d moved on to other things and was only doing it as a favour to them anyway. Remember, if they need you more than you need them, you do have a strong position here.

  7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#1, please do not talk to the boyfriend—it would be a huge overreach and also won’t get you what you need/want. If your report were carpooling with another employee outside your chain and began to arrive late because of the other employee, you wouldn’t talk to the tardy-making employee. You’d expect that the report needs to figure out a transit plan that allows her to arrive on time, as other adults are required to do.

    In most cases (e.g., not caretaking, medical issues, bereavement, etc.), her reasons for being late don’t really matter. It’s her job to troubleshoot and come up with strategies to be on time. But the boyfriend is irrelevant for your purposes. Honestly, if I were chronically late because of my boyfriend and my boss talked to him about it, I would be livid and likely feel undermined and infantilized.

      1. EnfysNest*

        This is really unkind and inappropriate! Lots of people have similar advice to Alison’s, but hearing it in a new way or from another voice can be very helpful. PCBH’s posts consistently show good perspective and great explanations that are indeed very helpful. Please don’t treat other people this way.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          Oh, hey, I’m sorry! I agree with you and with PCBH.
          It’s a turn of phrase meaning ‘Yes! Perfect!’ I’d say to someone having an awesome game of badminton, “Man, you are *killing* it today!”

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      I want to know if boyfriend used to be on time to work, and how he got there. I get the impression that they both moved to a new place together, so maybe he was using public transit then? (OP’s employee says “there is no public transport where they moved to”.) But if he used to be late every day before the move, then that whole point is moot. The real issue is that he isn’t good at getting up on time, and that should not be OP’s employee’s problem.

      I also wonder if employee used to be late before they moved in together? Maybe they never spent the night together, so it didn’t come up? But “bad at getting up in the morning” is a cop-out for most adults. I feel badly for employee, feeling roped into this mess. She needs to leave on time for a few days and let him suffer the consequences.

      1. Zillah*

        The OP said that timekeeping is less of a thing for him because of seniority, so it seems like he might have been late before.

        IME, many people – maybe even a majority – who consistently struggle to get up in the morning and/or be on time for things have an actual reason for it and are not just doing it for the lolz.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          Totes agree that different people have different personal clocks, and some are early folks and others are late folks. (I’m in mixed marriage myself. I’m the morning person and my wife is the evening person. I’ve seen this in action.) And so maybe this employee has negotiated to be able to get in later, and now is struggling to get out of the house earlier to accommodate the girlfriend. And maybe he’s just a jerk who doesn’t care. Or maybe the girlfriend hasn’t felt able to say strongly that she needs to get to work on time, period. But she needs to learn how to say that, and he needs to learn to pay attention to others’ needs proactively. Especially when he’s relying on those others for transportation to work.

          So yes, anything is possible, but knowingly letting the girlfriend be late for work every day without trying to change something? That’s not the actions of an adult. He can get himself out of bed and sleep in the car if need be, but he needs to be more sensitive to how his actions are affecting his girlfriend’s work.

          1. Zillah*

            My point, though, is that it’s not always just about different clocks – while I agree with you about the end result, broad statements like “But “bad at getting up in the morning” is a cop-out for most adults” and “That’s not the actions of an adult” can come off as really hurtful to those of us who really struggle with this stuff. Having ADHD doesn’t make me not an adult – it means that there are thing that are necessary for adults that I really struggle with.

            I’m not saying that the boyfriend has ADHD – I don’t know, and it’s not the OP’s problem anyway – but your statements didn’t come off as just being about the boyfriend.

            1. Jennifer Thneed*

              Well, here’s the thing. I also have ADHD, and because I struggle with this stuff I have lots of empathy for the people who struggle, and very little for the people who make their struggles someone else’s problem. Because figuring out our own weaknesses and how to live with them or work around them is part of being an adult. So boyfriend can live with his own lateness and I have no issue with that, but he’s making it someone else’s problem and that’s not okay.

              I have struggled to get out the door on time, and I have run the 1 block to my bus-stop because I didn’t, and I have sometimes still missed my bus. I have done all these things and I live with that. But I don’t let that make OTHER people late, because that is just rude.

              1. Zillah*

                I’m not saying it’s okay that he’s making it someone else’s problem – I said that broad statements like “But “bad at getting up in the morning” is a cop-out for most adults” and “That’s not the actions of an adult” can come off as really hurtful to those of us who really struggle with this stuff.

                Whether or not you’ve struggled with the same things doesn’t change the impact of what you’re saying. One can be bad at something in a way that is a problem without it being a “cop out,” and whether one qualifies as an adult isn’t defined by where one is in the process of figuring out how to cope with their issues.

                I try hard not to make people late; sometimes, it happens anyway, especially in a social setting. I’ve put an enormous amount of time and effort into finding strategies to change that; it’s still a WIP. That doesn’t mean that I’m not an adult – if it does, somehow all of the responsibilities I have as an adult haven’t gotten the memo.

  8. Zombeyonce*

    OP #5, congratulations! Luckily this is a temporary problem and I’ll bet multiple people have figured out you’re pregnant but keep up the polite fiction that you’re not since you haven’t told them. I wouldn’t worry that people will worry about you for so many medical appointments; people are notoriously oblivious to the specifics of others’ absences while nervous that everyone is paying attention to theirs.

    Unless you make a big deal out of announcing being out or if you have a particularly important, outward-facing job, people just aren’t going to notice for the most part. We’re a self-centered lot.

    1. Jen S. 2.0*

      Mazel tov!

      Agree with this. People have probably guessed that you’re pregnant, but just haven’t commented (hopefully because the world at large is finally getting the hint that the contents of a person’s uterus are no one else’s business). After all, the goal of waiting to announce isn’t having no one ever make the leap that you’re pregnant. People do and will.

      I vote that you just make vague reference to a “minor medical thing,” and let the chips fall where they may. This will solve itself in a few weeks.

      1. Jasnah*

        Agreed. If a coworker was frequently absent, seemed unwell, etc. and then mentioned it was a “minor medical thing” I would think it’s either pregnancy or something similarly temporary or non-life-threatening that they were aware about, and not worry or try to pry. I would also feel reassured that the coworker was aware of their effect on the office (for example if I had to cover when she called out sick) and be much more understanding about that.

        If the coworker didn’t seem to notice that they seemed ill, I’d be concerned for their health as a fellow human, and concerned about the impact of their illness on the workplace as far as it affected me. But if I knew OP is handling it then I would genuinely feel I didn’t need to worry.

    2. Harper the Other One*

      Second this. I was working the cash office at a retail store when I was pregnant with my first and when I told my manager, he just shrugged and said “I wondered because you seemed a lot like my wife but I figured you’d tell us when you were ready if that’s what was going on.” But the vast majority of people, even those I interacted with every day, had no idea until I announced, even though I kept running to the break room or bath room!

      1. Lucy*

        Similarly, I was guessed by precisely one colleague, whose wife was coincidentally at a very similar stage of pregnancy at the time. Apparently what gave it away was how upset I was about a yogurt one day. That sent his preg-dar beeping!

        In an office of 50-ish people, nobody else had the time to notice how grey I was arriving each morning. Even the colleague who saw me vomit into a trash can assumed I was hungover.

      2. Cercis*

        The only time I’ve been able to accurately guess an early pregnancy was when I was also pregnant. The local morning news anchors had gotten married the year before and I noticed she was suddenly not always there, or she would start the show and then disappear. And I went to work and said “I’ll bet news anchor is pregnant” and my friends laughed, but then she announced it about 4 weeks later (while I was on maternity leave so I couldn’t say “told ya so”). FWIW – I would never discuss the potential pregnancy of someone I actually knew, that was a one off based on the conversation we were having at the time.

    3. IPukedThroughPregnancy*

      Yep, this.
      I was sick enough that I couldn’t hide it. Very, very sick. The first person who knew I was pregnant other than my husband and doctor was my boss. I was just under 5 weeks when I told him. A couple of things played into this:
      1) I *couldn’t* work as normal. I was puking 10-12 times per day until I got on the right combination of meds. I arranged to work from home. Much easier to work between puking if it’s at home.
      2) I 100% trust my boss. Like… more than my parents. I would have been fine telling him about a miscarriage if it got to that. I understand lots of people don’t have this type of relationship, but my boss never pried but was always supportive of medical stuff… so I knew it would be okay.
      It’s not totally crazy to tell your workplace early. I get why people don’t–I didn’t tell anyone other than my boss–but some people do tell very early and that’s okay.

      On the other side, my husband recently had a coworker who he was totally sure she was pregnant. He talked to me about it in a “I feel so bad for her! She seems to have it rough!” sort of way, but kept his mouth shut. Because that’s what polite people do. Most people are reasonable and polite.

      1. WorkinMom*

        I got pregnant about a month into a new job in a new state, but a few days after I found out my doctor told me I was most likely miscarrying. I decided to immediately tell my boss, who herself was the mother of two young children, because I thought if I was miscarrying that I might need to take a few days to myself which would otherwise seem strange so early at a new job. Happily, the pregnancy stuck but I was HORRIBLY sick for about 20 weeks and it was a huge relief to me that she knew. The rest of my coworkers didn’t know me well enough to know something was up, they just thought I was a quiet person and preferred to eat lunch by myself offsite (I could not step foot in the employee dining room with all the smells.) I’m sure when I get pregnant again everyone will guess pretty quickly but I don’t expect the news would leak.

        I hope you feel better soon! The first trimester is SO rough at work. The end of pregnancy gets rough again but at least by that point you appear very pregnant and you experience random acts of kindness and accommodation.

        1. Turtlewings*

          I’m so glad you didn’t miscarry after all! It’s lovely to hear about a happy ending. :) And it’s wonderful that your boss was so supportive.

        1. IPukedThroughPregnancy*

          Yep, she was, but she didn’t tell anyone for another couple of months.

      2. your favorite person*

        I had to do the same thing. I was vomiting and nausea from week 4 (through week 17ish, ugh) and I ended up telling my boss at week 6. I just wanted him to know why I was acting weird and I knew he wouldn’t tell anyone both because he has integrity and also because he handles a lot of our HR functions and takes that seriously.
        I had to also tell one of my co-workers earlier (I think I was 8 weeks) because I have a chronic illness and it seemed to them I was very sick but also playing it off and wasn’t being serious about my health. They are very conscientious about being ill around me, and so it looked to them like I was VERY SICK and not taking off the time to heal and rest. I told her because she was threatening to take me to the ER. I tend to think other folks just figured it out.

      3. Double A*

        I also told people at work pretty early because I worked an intense job where I couldn’t take breaks without someone covering me, and it was such a relief to know that people knew I needed extra support. But I loved my boss and coworkers and would also have been okay if they knew about a miscarriage.

        FWIW, if you’re not telling people because you don’t want to make *them* uncomfortable if it turns out you miscarry, I highly encourage you to really think about if that’s the best choice for you! Think about if you’d actually want people to provide you some compassion and accommodation in that situation, and if you think they would. You may not, you may want to keep it private, but I think a lot of people wait by default and I encourage people to really think about what they want in their individual situation. If you realize you’re okay with people knowing regardless of what happens, then you totally can tell people early, and it can take a weight off.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yes! Accommodation for you is so much more important than catering to your coworkers’ possible discomfort with the idea that pregnancies sometimes don’t go well. If it’s about protecting your own privacy… or heading off potential discrimination… then of course you have a right to keep it to yourself. But if it’s about protecting other people’s feelings regarding something that is so fundamentally about you and not them, you have no obligation to.

    4. Boredatwork*

      I didn’t have the morning sickness but I stopped drinking coffee, was eating every hour and had a ridiculous number of appointments between the doctor, and interviewing daycares.

      No one even noticed, trust me they’re not paying that close of attention.

    5. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      I had such bad morning sickness, but I was super lucky that no one ever caught me throwing up in the bathroom at work – but man it was close. I was trying all kinds of things that are supposed to help with it, but they are all so obvious! There were these pregnancy pop things you suck on that are supposed to help, but the wrappers have pregnancy pop written all over them, so I would open them in a drawer then stuff the wrappers in the bottom of my trash can. I also tried the wristbands you get for sea sickness, which there was no way I could explain away so I wore super long sleeves when it was warm out. Not to mention the employee BBQ where people were drinking and I took a drink, pretended to drink it, then poured it in the shrubs when no one was looking. I honestly lived like a neurotic sitcom character for three months, and probably if I hadn’t no one would have noticed at all.

    6. Eeyore's missing tail*

      Congratulations! Some people will probably figure it out, but you’ll be amazed at the number that either never figure it out (even when your about 30 weeks along and you thought everyone in the office knew) or figured it out but were too polite to say it.

      I will say that the people who figure it out may point out what gave it away to them. Some of my coworkers said that my whole attitude at work changed. I went from being anxious and sad (there were other factors involved) to being very calm. A few were joking that I must have started a new medication because the change was so pronounced. I must have hid my nausea well.

    7. Quinalla*

      I ended up telling my boss early on because I was literally falling asleep at my desk some days, but I could trust him to keep it confidential and so on, not everyone has a relationship where they can or they just don’t want to – also fine! I tend to be an open book, so I shared early with my family – right after the first Doc appt- but again a lot of women want to wait in case of early miscarriage. I intentionally did not want to wait to tell family on that as if I did miscarry, I wanted their support. I did wait to tell other coworkers until about 20 weeks when I finally started to show with my first. Our admin was starting to suspect, but my other coworkers were oblivious. I did tell my coworkers I was starting a new diet when I suddenly stopped drinking alcohol, so that was my not-telling-the-whole-truth moment.

      Pregnancy is weird I think in that some of the worst symptoms are when you aren’t showing and you tend to get the most sympathy when you are in the 2nd trimester when you start telling people when most people feel really great :)

      1. Double A*

        One of the great ironies of pregnancy is that when you feel the worst and probably actually need the most accommodation, you don’t look pregnant!

        I mean up until the end when you’re just so huge and tired.

    8. 2 Cents*

      Congratulations, OP5!

      Some things that helped me:
      —Peppermint anything. Like those brach’s red and white candies. Even chewing gum helped.
      —ginger ale. Ginger candies made me sick but a can of Schweppes was a daily thing.
      —Lemon/citrus anything
      —Tums (for the indigestion)
      —Having a small snack every hour. I wasn’t always hungry, but it was better than feeling nauseous because my stomach was empty and morning (all day!) sickness.
      —skittles or gummy bears. On my worst morning sickness days, sometimes that was all I could eat that wouldn’t immediately be seen again.

      If you trust your boss or supervisor enough, clueing them in might help your anxiety about it. I told my boss early on bc I knew he wouldn’t tell anyone else and I always got sick right before I had to leave in the morning. Plus, I had a second person running interference for me at the office. Once I did announce, half of my coworkers were surprised, the other half were like “I thought so!” But didn’t say anything.

    9. Dana B.S.*

      Fun fact: Gal Godot (Wonder Woman) was pregnant during the filming of Justice League (and later other films too). With Justice League, she didn’t want anyone to know and she drank from a jug of water with cut up ginger in it and some people probably just thought she was on a cleanse. Though she also had an assistant carry around a bucket for her and I think everyone figured it out eventually.

      I agree with anyone else who recommended picking a trusted coworker/supervisor and cluing them in. I think it can make your day so much easier if you’ve got a friend to help you through this!

    10. Emby*

      Congrats! I was in a similar boat, and was surprised by how few people picked up on it, and those that did kept their mouth shut.

      If you need some accommodations to make it through the day, then I would go with the vague medical issue and see if you can get them. But if you don’t, I wouldn’t even stress about it.

      Also, there are some amazing meds for morning sickness now– you should talk to your doctor about them. They really made a difference for me.

    11. Name Required*

      Same boat here, OP5! I’m 18 weeks pregnant and still dealing with the “morning sickness” that will never end. I was more sick in the beginning — like throwing up several times per hour during work days and barely able to stay at my desk — and when I was worried about managing that and my project load, I ended up telling my manager that I was dealing with a minor medical issue that my doctor and I were working on, and then immediately focusing the conversation on how that related to my work.

      I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to manage a full-time load, so I wanted to proactively talk about a plan for now and what I would do if I felt like I was starting to fall behind. My manager was 100% supportive, encouraged me to take sick days if I need them, reassured me that he has seen no impact on my work so far, and that if I felt like I was falling behind, the door was open for a positive conversation on how to manage it. It was such a relief to feel like I didn’t need to pretend like I felt fine, when I actually worried 100% of the day about throwing up on my coworkers.

      When I eventually did tell coworkers, some knew already and some were completely surprised — usually the folks that have either had multiple pregnancies, or are close to someone who has had multiple pregnancies, picked up that I wasn’t subsisting off Fresca and plain cheese pizza for fun.

    12. Arts Akimbo*

      The one person at my job who guessed that I was pregnant early on was my awesome supervisor, who had been pregnant eleven times. She was something of a subject matter expert! And she told no one. :)

    13. OP5*

      Hi all: OP5 here. First of all, thank you all for your supportive and thoughtful comments. They’ve really helped give me perspective. I think some context that may have been causing me to overreact is that this has all been happening leading up to a major client deadline – I think subconsciously I was worried that bringing it up would stress my teammates out even more.

      Now that the deadline has passed, I’m planning to tell them about a minor medical issue, as many of you have suggested. (My manager isn’t really involved in my day to day – we have a weird structure. #consultantlife) I wouldn’t mind being fully honest at this point, but we’re waiting on a doctor’s appointment in two weeks that will make me feel more comfortable sharing the news. I’m still feeling pretty crummy, but I’m working on coping strategies.

      Thanks again to Alison and all of you.

  9. PurpleMonster*

    I had a former boss who once said that a rule of thumb for setting contracting rates was to take your annual salary, take off the 000, and that’s your hourly rate. So $60,000 becomes $60/h. I’d argue that that’s probably still too low in a lot of cases, depending on what you do, but it might be a start.

    1. silverpie*

      That makes sense. Since a salary is often based on an approximate 2’000 hours, dividing it by 1’000 (which dropping three zeros does) will yield twice the hourly equivalent—the other rule of thumb.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      This works out and rounds up even.

      The long route is just salary ÷ 52 ÷ 40 = hourly. Then x 2.

      If you’re actually running a freelance business or in this case going to be taking on insurance costs, that or other overhead should be added on top of base wage.

  10. Grack*

    OP #5 I am a great pregnancy sleuth and often notice the symptoms before anyone announces. But I never, EVER say anything, until then. Not to anyone.

    It’s fine to say “I’ve been fighting a bug” or something like that. If someone asks if you’re pregnant, you are absolutely allowed to say “no” until you announce. Because they shouldn’t ask.

    If it helps, mention to your boss that you haven’t been feeling great, and you have some doctors appointments in the next few weeks and hopefully you’ll be back to yourself in a month or so.

    I get nauseated before the onset of a migraine, so I’m always sipping seltzer and nibbling crackers. I also get SO sick from smells at the time, so bad I can’t walk down certain aisles in the grocery store. I’m sure some people have guessed I’m pregnant. There are a lot of reasons for nausea, fatigue, and stomach sensitivity, but no one has ever asked if I was pregnant, or even why I’m feeling under the weather at all. With stomach stuff, it’s best not to get details.

    I hope you start feeling better soon!

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt*

      If you can say some of the medical appointments are the eye doctor or the dentist or something like that. Everyone need to do those things, and it will make people less likely to worry.

      1. writelhd*

        I have an insane number of medical appointments right now because I’m in physical therapy, and you’ve got to go a couple of times a week sometimes, and it’s for an “invisible” injury that I don’t always feel like getting into with various people. So I don’t know that doctors appointments alone really mean anything.

    2. RUKiddingMe*

      “If someone asks if you’re pregnant, you are absolutely allowed to say “no” until you announce. Because they shouldn’t ask.”


      OP you don’t owe this info to anyone. You will eventually need to tell your employer…when you are ready to talk about your maternity leave accommodations, but not before then.

  11. Jasnah*

    Honestly it’s been really helpful for me to see Alison’s frequent use of “set a clear expectation and let them worry about how they’re going to meet it.”

    It has really helped me step back in situations where I’m overinvolved and focus on what I want to get out of a situation, or what I need the other person to do, and think about how clearly I’ve communicated that. Sometimes people need help brainstorming how to solve a problem, but so often that part isn’t something I can help with–or I can only help Socratically, not by getting in the weeds.

    1. RUKiddingMe*

      As I live longer I become more and more grateful for my day saying to me early and often “not your business, stay out of it.” Of course he was talking about social not work and definitely not boss/employee situations, but it’s pretty easily adapted. My natural tendency to not over involve myself with other humans helps as well.

      As a “boss” I take the approach of “here is what I need, what do you plan to do to achieve it, what do you need from me in order to do the job you were hired to do…” I always make available all resources necessary.

      If someone has a personal issue, please let me know and tell me how I can help you. If it’s something we can do to make your life easier, something actually possible without shortchanging the business, I’m on board.

      Work/life balance … of every conceivable configuration … is sacrosanct to me. People not feeling like “well it’s my job or it’s my personal life” is their only choice makes for happier, more efficient staff, thus a positive effect for the business.

      I know though that ultimately I can only offer support, resources, etc. professionally or personally. I can’t do it for them.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Shortly after my brother married, I remember having a convo w/ my dad about whether bro. and wife were going to have children.

        And my dad said, “I have no idea–I haven’t asked him. It’s not my business, so I’m not ever going to ask him. And you shouldn’t either. He’ll tell us when he has something he wants to share.”

        (I knew not to ask him; I’d already intuitively picked that up. But it was very instructive. And I also sort of picked up that talking ABOUT it wasn’t all that cool either.)

        I had a list on my wall of “ways to show respect to your employees,” and the one I remember most is:

        Don’t fix it for them.

  12. Jen S. 2.0*

    LW 4, if you have decided you are leaving, stop ASKING your bosses whether you can leave.

    TELL them you’re resigning. Then stop discussing it.

    It’s like, *stands up* “I’m leaving.” “Why?” “Well, because —” “Eh, I think you should stay.” “Okay.” *sits*

    You’re oversharing your uncertainty and then letting yourself be talked out of your decision. You can resign for any reason or no reason. You can quit with or without a job. Your bosses don’t have to understand or be on board or think you’re right or not be inconvenienced for you to leave. Your opinion is the one that matters. You can just quit.

    I agree with Alison that five months is not very long, and you should get some real clarity about your longer-term job prospects, both at your current place and with your other possibilities. But that still doesn’t mean you have to stay in this job until your bosses decide your reasons are good enough to go.

    1. OP4*


      This is the OP4 writing in. Leaving without a job lined up is Plan B; Plan A is continuing to work, saving more money, and apply for jobs elsewhere. I’ve had a few interview since April, but nothing panned out. I do have a part time job on the side that will generate some income, but just enough to cover everything except health insurance and my rent.

      Another reason that I didn’t mention in my letter is that I’m going to leave is due to health reasons caused by stress. I’ve lost about 25 pounds over the last 2 months, developing stomach issues, and I’ve been sleeping more. I have been seeing someone about my stress, but a lot of my issues are coming from work related problems. My main stress is i have no back ups for my role. I have ask management if I can train someone on certain aspects of my work so if I’m on vacation or off for a period of time that is can get done, but I was declined ( even though management has talked about cross training workers for this reason. ) Due to this work, I have been looked over in promotions as well as lateral moves within the department. Management’s reasoning is that they don’t want to train a new hire in the work while I learn the new role.

      This is a common theme in our organization: we have one person handling payroll for 7,500 employees; she didn’t get a back up until two week before she went on maternity leave ( and lost her back up 9 months later).

      1. WS*

        I can see why they’re talking you out of leaving – they might not get someone else they can exploit as much as they exploit you!

      2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        No job is worth sacrificing your mental health. Think of it this way…they wouldn’t hesitate to let you go if it meant saving money for their bottom line – they would just dump your workload on someone else. So do what’s best for you. It’s ok to resign without a detailed explanation – you owe them nothing.

      3. Lance*

        Given these details especially, I’d very much second Alison’s advice to start job searching now. This clearly isn’t going to be worth it to you in the longer term; particularly after the reorg. Work for yourself, and work toward getting yourself something better sooner rather than later.

      4. Emily*

        That sounds really crappy, OP! I hope you find another position before you have to quit, but given this extra context I can certainly understand why leaving without something else lined up might make sense for your situation.

      5. WellRed*

        Gotta love those short sighted managers who think like this. They will get what they deserve.

      6. A CAD Monkey*

        Take it from someone who left a job with nothing lined up due to stress, you definitely need more than 5mo salary. I had about 1.5yrs worth saved and my job search took an additional 9mo after i left to land a new job. I had already been searching for about a year in a market with “plenty” of jobs.

        That said, the day after I quit, I woke up feeling like a 10 ton weight had been removed from my shoulders. It can and will get better.

      7. Delta Delta*

        Hi, OP4. Others are right – you should kick job searching into overdrive now because you never know how long it will take. I was in a very similar situation to the one you’re in. Things got toxic, and I started thinking of leaving. Then they got flaming-toxic and I knew I needed to leave but I assumed it wouldn’t be too hard to find new work. Then they got Chernobyl-toxic and I had to go and panicked because I had waited too long to find other work. I let things simmer for about 3 months and finally I gave notice without something lined up. In the meantime I had stopped sleeping, I didn’t eat well, I lost a lot of weight, and my hair started falling out. It was bad.

        I left without something lined up. Luckily I had saved quite a bit of money and between that and my spouse’s income we were able to keep afloat. Within about 60 days of leaving I had some work, which turned into a lot of work. Since I left, five other people have also left. One eventually flamed out and quit without a job lined up. She tried to quit twice and both times they talked her in to staying. The third time she said if she stayed she would have ended up hospitalized. I think she’s working at a Starbucks now, and is having literally the best time.

      8. nonymous*

        Since you’re experiencing medical symptoms, I’d suggest looking into getting classified for a short-term disability. This would let you tap into your sick leave (if you have a bank of unused hours) or make use of insurance as you transition away from this employer.

        While I agree with Alison’s advice about the traditional job hunt having turned into a longer slog than your letter anticipates, only you can determine when the physical symptoms are just too much. Unfortunately this kind of burnout can have a long-term detrimental impact on an individual’s career and finances, with little to no obvious effect to the toxic employer. One coping technique I’ll share is to keep in mind they have no backup for an essential function. If you legitimately need an extra day to finish a task, or need to eliminate some non-essential component of the task to meet deadlines, what are they going to do? Make someone else do it? There is only so much work that can be done in ten hours, and it is not your responsibility to accommodate under-staffing.

      9. RUKiddingMe*

        Oh wow. Get out of there. They are way taking advantage of you. Why wouldn’t they want you to stay? Ten years experience, dependable, not taking paid time off because there’s no one to back you up, hence they never have to pay you for time you aren’t there, no promotions or any kind of possibility for one…ever.

        Like Jen S. 2.0 said, stop asking them if you can leave and tell them you are leaving on ____ date period and then stop negotiating with them. Please read my earlier comment about saving money though… I do think working a while longer and saving as much as possible is prudent. You should also start your job search sooner rather than later and just tell anyone offering that you can start on ____ date, not before so that you can have that well earned respite time.

      10. Earthwalker*

        By all means leave if you want. It’s your say not theirs. But as Alison says, don’t underestimate the time it takes to get a new job. A lot of times a company that desperately needs an employee right today will take months grinding through their own internal bureaucracy to make it happen, all the while leaving an ideal employee – maybe someone like you – waiting and waiting.

      11. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

        OP4, are you me? I’m in a very similar boat – I’m planning on quitting with or without a job, and living off my savings + temp work if I need to, though I’m hoping to find a new job before I give my notice.

        Good luck! It’s a scary choice, but in an unhealthy work environment, it’s worth it.

      12. TootsNYC*

        I have ask management if I can train someone on certain aspects of my work so if I’m on vacation or off for a period of time that is can get done, but I was declined

        OK, maybe not payroll, but there are TONS of things that I would probably crosstrain someone on without ever asking.

        I’d just say, “Oh, hey–let me show you how to do this so I’m not the only one who knows.”

        It’s not my place to tell them HOW to do it, and I suppose “deciding how they spend their time” is not really my right either, but most people I’ve worked with have some spare minutes.

        And I’d document without asking for permission as well.

        Though that’s just me, and maybe I’ve never been in a position where it would have been a problem.

  13. MommyMD*

    Truthfully I’m taken way aback that you want to go to her boyfriend.

    Inform employee she has to be on time from now on or risk losing her position. How she does that is up to her. If she continually is chronically late, Fire her.

    Don’t complicate it with all the extraneous stuff.

    1. OP1*

      Hi, OP1 here! I really wanted to avoid speaking to the boyfriend and felt icky about the thought of it, so I’m really glad to hear Alison and all the commentators universally think it would be a terrible idea! I just wasn’t sure what else I could do. Taking all the relationship knowledge out of the equation and focusing on my employee’s need to be on time has really helped.

      If it were me, I’d drive off and leave him if he made me late :) But my employee is so nice, I’m not sure she would.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        I would caution you to take into account the perception that changing her start time will look like a reward for being late (as mentioned previously) and also a special perk because she’s dating someone above her in the hierarchy. She might be too nice to drive off without her boyfriend, but she needs to figure out how to deal with that because she will have to do that anyway if she gets fired from this job for being late.

        1. OP1*

          Yes, I appreciate the optics of that as well. There is a certain amount of flexibility around setting work schedules (e.g. I have employees whose start times range from 7:45 to 9:30) but once a schedule is agreed, they do need to make the effort to be on time.

          1. Green great dragon*

            That makes a difference I think. If others can adjust their schedule to some extent, makes sense to offer that to her. (I’m with everyone else who thinks it won’t actually help, but you never know. Perhaps she should fail to mention the change to her boyfriend?)

            1. valentine*

              Perhaps she should fail to mention the change to her boyfriend?
              That’s not sustainable and OP1 shouldn’t suggest it because it would devolve into brainstorming how to get Kevin in the car on time. Employee is already focused on Kevin as the problem, when she is.

              1. Laura H.*

                The problem is caused by the boyfriend factor.

                While employee is responsible for her actions, she’s also “responsible” for boyfriend transport. The two may be thought of as NEED TO DO BOTH, NO EXCEPTIONS by the employee, rather than as a would be nice.

                While the boyfriend issue should be left out- I do think you should acknowledge/ address that your employee isn’t being late just for kicks (that’s a different convo entirely.)

                It’s not just her problem. She needs to talk to boyfriend and to hash this stuff out so that she gets to work on time. I say offer suggestions if appropriate- treat her as the adult she is, but even the best of us get caught in decision paralysis and don’t always see the obvious solutions if there are any.

                Good luck OP!

            2. Rectilinear Propagation*

              Perhaps she should fail to mention the change to her boyfriend?

              I was going to make a comment saying this. LW1, it’s not up to you to suggest it but your employee doesn’t have to mention the changed start time in order to have the “I need you to do better” conversation with her boyfriend.

          2. Bagpuss*

            I think that’s exactly what you say to her – thatshe neds to be on time, that you are able to agree to her start time being varied to 9.15 or 9.30 (or whatever works with the time-sensitive things she needs to be doing) but that she needs to then actually stick to that tim.

            If she raises the issue of her boyriend then I think the answer is “That’s something you and he will need to work out. In terms of your job, you need to be on time. It’s not my business how you achieve that, but your personal life isn’t a good reason for consistenly poor time keping”

            (Of course, it’s not outside the realms of possibility that *she* may involve her boyffriend, or he may involve himself, in which case agian, stick to the “Iam not going to discuss another employee’s business with you” appraoch, but at that point, you probably also need to start to involve HR.

          3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Since others can adjust their start, this solution is on point.

            But you have to be willing to follow through with termination if she keeps failing afterwards. She may be “too nice” but that’s gotta cost her her job if you don’t want your staff shuffling their schedules due to their lazy partners that depend on them for a ride.

          4. NothingIsLittle*

            Per Alison’s usual recommendations, I would be explicitly clear that she cannot continue to be late if you have not yet been. No sugar coating, “Your job is in jeopardy if you cannot be on time 95% of the time/18 out of 20 days/insert other metrics here.” Of course, that’s assuming that it’s enough of a problem that you would take disciplinary measures if it continues.

            I work somewhere that commute problems are a good enough reason to be late, even if that ends up being most days, because there aren’t any duties that necessitate a precise start time. Based on your letter, it seems like she knows being late is a problem, but she might not realize how much of a problem it is and may think that her commute issues, even if they’re caused by her SO, are a sufficiant excuse for lateness.

          5. RUKiddingMe*

            What if…and I’m just throwing this out there (and it may already have been covered) you change her start time with the caveat that she needs to let the boyfriend think nothing’s changed (i.e. not tell him) so that she still arrives at the same time she is now instead of 15 minutes even more late because he knows it and will then stay in bed an additional 15 minutes?

            Like “here’s something I will do for you however you must not tell your boyfriend because I am doing this as a favor (or a better word) to help you not have an attendance issue. Since his getting out of bed on time is a problem, he needs to believe nothing’s changed. However if you start a pattern of coming in even later then we’re through here.”

            Or…again, better words.

            ::goes off to figure out how to make a cup of coffee::

            1. Observer*

              No. OP can offer to provide the flexibility. But it’s never a good idea to suggest treating another adult like a child (even if they are acting like one.) And it’s an even worse idea for the OP to involve themselves this much in their relationship.

              1. Name Required*

                Agreed. It would especially odd for OP to offer a work benefit only if her employee agreed to infantilize another adult at OP’s managerial level.

          6. Observer*

            So, you can offer her the flexibility as well. But that’s it.

            If she says “But Boyfriend” in any shape or form, you can (and should) be sympathetic, but you must be clear that she has to figure something out.

            It’s ok to offer some suggestions if she wants you to, but it is NOT your responsibility to come up with a solution. Don’t let anyone make it yours. And avoid any suggestion that essentials treating either of them like a child.

          7. Free Meerkats*

            once a schedule is agreed, they do need to make the effort to be on time.

            That’s soft language that will get you in trouble and dealing with the “But I am trying, he just won’t leave!” She doesn’t need to make the effort, she needs to be there on time except under rare, catastrophic circumstances.

        1. Susan*

          Agreed. The boyfriend is not in scope. If they boyfriend worked for another company, the problem would still be the same and the fix the same. OP needs to lay out expectations – worker needs to be on time (whatever time is set), or face consequences.

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      TBH, everywhere I’ve worked, and admittedly those workplaces were not paragons of functionality, it would be acceptable for a boss to go to a supervisor in another department and say, “Your demands on my employee are interfering with my ability to run my department effectively and they need to stop immediately.” The second supervisor would have to fall in line, or be in trouble himself.

      1. New Jack Karyn*

        Sure–but that’s about work stuff. Someone not turning items around quickly, or being obstructionist in other ways. This is about the report’s personal life, and it should be treated differently.

        1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

          Honestly, there would be close to zero hesitation to get on someone for personal stuff, too, if it was affecting work. We’ve had to do that in some cases, because it was a community org and interpersonal connections among staff were common. It might not be a Formal Professional Reprimand, but “Hey, I need Karen to be here at 9:30 and when she isn’t it’s disruptive to MY entire team. I don’t care about the details of your carpool but she needs to be on time for her shift in MY department.”

    3. RUKiddingMe*

      Yeah going to the boyfriend feels very paternalistic to me. He’s not in charge of her. I know it’s his getting out of bed issue but it is affecting OP’s employee, so it’s her issue with OP not his. Talking to him is so much like talking to “Daddy” about his “little girl’s” (i.e. child’s) classroom performance. Plus OP has no standing to talk to him about his getting out of bed issues.

      1. Clisby*

        The boyfriend is not the problem. Contrary to the title on the post, he is not making her late. She is making herself late. The OP says her employee is driving the boyfriend to work, which sounds to me like it’s her car. If I’m right, the boyfriend can be ready to leave for work when she leaves, or he can figure out some other way to get to work.

  14. Lucy*

    LW1 – I agree with everyone else that you ignore her domestic situation when you’re talking about her timekeeping. If she says “oh but I carpool with Kevin and he isn’t a morning person” then the fact you know Kevin is irrelevant and the fact Kevin is her boyfriend is irrelevant, and the answer is “what alternatives do you have for getting into work?”

    That said, I have a chronically-late spouse and I have simply learned not to rely on him for time-sensitive things. When we had a combined commute, the stress of constantly nearly (or actually) missing trains, being stuck waiting at stations in the dark, and so on actually made me ill. He is better now, though not actually punctual, but since 2010 I have had jobs which haven’t relied on him for transport in the slightest. If your rideshare/housemate/SO cannot be on time, then you have to decide to take back control of your timetable.

    The following isn’t LW’s problem to solve, but a related observation: if you do ditch your SO as a rideshare, they will likely be offended at least briefly. Blaming external forces softens the blow (“our team runs differently from yours and my job is at risk”) and allows the SO to accept the change without losing face. If on the other hand they double down and refuse to “let” you drive alone/catch an earlier bus/leave without them, that’s Not Cool. Being chronically late isn’t a deal breaker, but refusing to let your SO work around your chronic lateness might be.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Yup…When someone is always late, they’re sending a message that their time is more important than yours, regardless of intent. I wouldn’t put up with it either.

        1. Lucy*

          Yeeeeeeah, ok, but the nuance I was going for was “chronic lateness isn’t the dealbreaker: the attitude and behaviour surrounding it is”.

          So someone who is chronically late to meet you because they’re a RN in an ER and handover always slips and they always apologise when they do finally arrive – not dealbreaking lateness.

          Someone who is always late because they spend too long scrolling through Twitter half-dressed and tells you you’re uptight and just need to learn a bit of patience – dealbreaking lateness.

          Someone who is always late but tells you to go on without them and puts in 100% effort when they get there – not dealbreaking lateness.

          Someone who is always late but insists you wait for them and now you’re both late AND they start an argument about how they would have been on time except for something you did like brushing your teeth so they couldn’t get in the bathroom that had otherwise been totally vacant for nine hours – dealbreaking lateness.

          1. infopubs*

            Actually, a person who isn’t chronically late would grok that their handover often slips and wouldn’t commit to scheduling something right at end of shift. They’d say up front, “I’d love to have dinner, but my work is often unpredictable. Are you ok with waiting if this ends up being one of those days? Or would you rather have lunch on Saturday?” Punctual people think in terms of managing their time. That mindset is what seems to be missing with chronically late folks, for whatever reason. It drives me crazy, which is my problem, so I try to solve my problem by not relying on them being on time, ever. That’s a fine workaround for many friends, doesn’t work as well for co-workers, and is a deal breaker for a partner. YMMV.

            1. Traffic_Spiral*

              Yup. When you make your being late into someone else’s problem? Nope, shut it down.

              1. valentine*

                chronic lateness isn’t the dealbreaker: the attitude and behaviour surrounding it is
                For me, it’s the chronic lateness. I just can’t handle it. The details don’t matter in the least.

                “our team runs differently from yours and my job is at risk”
                This is actual issue. I don’t see how that’s softening or how or why the SO would need to save face.

            2. Zillah*

              Yes, time management is something that’s difficult for many people who are chronically late – it’s literally part of a disorder for which punctuality is often a problem.

          2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            Ditto to what infopubs said. If you have a job or small children (or anything unpredictable in your life), and think there’s a strong possibility that you will be late, then either makes plans with me that won’t leave me alone and waiting on you, or reschedule. It’s really just that simple. And if you are late, don’t make excuses or blame others. It’s not the server’s fault for being slow and making you stay longer at the restaurant, it’s your fault for not getting to the restaurant with enough to eat before meeting me (my friend actually used this as an excuse, when we were meeting for a movie).
            And as an aside, I don’t expect perfection. Shit happens and I accept that. But if you’re chronically late, making me wait for you as if I have all day and nothing better to do, that’s not ok.

      2. infopubs*

        Yup, me too. Fortunately, chronic lateness shows up early in a relationship and makes DTMA easier.

      3. Alfonzo Mango*

        Some people can love others even if they are chronically late.

        My little brother was much overdue and my mom still loves him

          1. Lucy*

            I was as late as possible to be born, and neurotically punctual thereafter.

            Spouse … the opposite. His birth is pretty much the only thing he’s ever been on time to.

            I arrived at our wedding first – very much not the cultural norm – and had to crouch down in the car while the driver went round the block and parked up out of sight.

    1. Feline*

      Maybe not a dealbreaker for her. It would be a dealbreaker for me. I have a prompt gene, and it’s incredibly stressful for me to be late, even for things where there aren’t consequences like missing a flight or losing a job. A chronically late SO would be consigning myself to a personal life of stress, and my health won’t hold up to that.

    2. Marthooh*

      “Being chronically late isn’t a deal breaker, but refusing to let your SO work around your chronic lateness might be.”

      In other words: being a slow starter or having ADD or even being just kind of lazy doesn’t make you a bad partner, but being a dick about it does. Oh yes.

      1. Double A*


        And frankly, ADHD probably is a deal breaker for a lot of people. If you are super punctilious and try to partner with someone who has ADHD who will never get better than “good enough” when it comes to timeliness or cleanliness… then you’re not going to be good partners. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be a jerk about it and vice versa.

        Fortunately for me I tend to love folks with ADHD (and ended up marrying one) so all the more for me.

    3. Casper Lives*

      I wanted to throw my support behind you – chronic lateness isn’t a dealbreaker for everyone!

      1. Dankar*

        Not for me either. Many of my friends come from other cultures where punctuality is not important (or even considered rude), while others are career road warriors whose internal clocks are often set to another time zone. Mine is wonky, too.

        Some of us agree to meet at a certain time and show up 30 minutes later (for personal, not professional things). Since I know that’s going to be the case, I show up late to match or bring a book. It doesn’t bother me in the slightest.

        1. Jasnah*

          This! Punctuality as a value is really culturally dependent. It’s important for work where OP is, but it’s not a universal dealbreaker in romantic relationships for everyone.

  15. RUKiddingMe*

    OP4: “…before your five months of savings runs out.”

    Pay attention to this! My husband broke his leg in February. We are at week 16 and he is only 50% fully healed. Good enough that the doctor told him yesterday that he can go back to work next week. That is a massive relief because even though we had a bunch of money saved, it’s been really rough. No less so than because we bought a new car on a Thursday and he broke his leg that following Monday which means on top of regular expenses we have had a car payment, that seemed perfectly fine on Thursday, less so on Monday, to make as well.

    Husband is a saver. He literally has the first dollar he ever made. I can’t be trusted with money…there, I said it… And, thank all the gods I don’t believe in that he is because given my own devices we’d be sleeping under a bridge by now. We’ve barely made it even though we had equal to six months’ worth of money put away and were very careful with our spending.

    1. OP4*

      Thank you for telling your story. I wasn’t feeling well for the past couple months, and I’m going to the doctor next week to see if its something else other then stress related. If its something else, I may stay longer then I had originally planned.

      1. Another worker bee*

        Another thing that occurred to me, OP4, is the timing of your plan, which would probably put you job-searching right as hiring dies down for the year. This may be a little industry dependent, but from my experience job searching from November – mid February is a bust – people are traveling around the holidays so even if the team really wants to hire someone, there aren’t enough people to spare to do the hiring, since this is happening across the board there is less turnover at that time of year, etc. Just something to consider

  16. Rectilinear Propagation*

    LW1 – I don’t really have any advice for you, Alison’s is spot on. I really want to give advice to your employee . As I said above, you shouldn’t suggest any of this to her. This is only relevant to you insofar as proving this is something she can solve.

    “he’s bad at getting up in the morning”

    Employee of LW1, if he can get up on time for a bus then he can get up on time for you. Inform him that you don’t have a flexible start time, that your manager has already had a ‘talk’ with you about it, and that you will be leaving for work on time from now on. If he’s just been having trouble adjusting then this should be enough to get him to try harder or do something different to get himself turned around. If he has to take a cab a few times before he does, that’s OK.

    If he is actually always late to everything then you may need to get used to leaving for things on time without him.

    LW#4 – You do not have to come up with a reason for quitting that your bosses agree with.

    There is an older letter from someone who said their boss wouldn’t “let them” quit and this is sounding like that. Employment doesn’t work like this: you do not need their permission or approval to leave. Furthermore, them not agreeing with your reasoning for quitting isn’t the same as them having a bad impression of you as an employee. If they are otherwise reasonable bosses and you’ve been doing good work then you don’t have to worry about a bad reference or a negative opinion. (If they’re generally unreasonable then nothing you can do will turn them into reasonable people anyway.)

    1. TootsNYC*

      Employment doesn’t work like this: you do not need their permission or approval to leave.

      Neither does a romantic relationship. Or a friendship.

      Whoever wants out, is out.

  17. Marcy Marketer*

    Op #3, this is one of the rare instances where I wouldn’t use Alison’s script. I personally would just respond with “I appreciate you starting this conversation about hourly pay! As we discussed, I would have to charge a bit more as a contract worker. My hourly rate for this work would be $X, and I estimate it will take me X hours. I understand if that’s out of your budget, but let me know if you’d like to move forward and I will send you a contract.”

    Don’t get into giving reasons why your rate should be higher, because you already have explained that and they said “that’s not done.” The fact is that this is your limited free time, you have to pay taxes and this is what you’re going to charge. If it works for them, great, if not, that’s ok too.

    1. OP3*

      Thanks. What I appreciate about both your and Alison’s advice is that they affirm my independent position in negotiating a rate for this work. I didn’t understand why the org would assume I would do this as if I were moving to part-time in the position, which would not be enough per hour to be worth it, even though I’d like to help. As part of my transition, I am looking at moving completely to freelance work starting in the fall, so all the tips on rate-setting will be helpful for future projects, too!

      1. Sara without an H*

        Hi, OP3 — Just a suggestion, if you get them to agree to hire you as a contract worker, be sure to follow up with your HR department about the necessary tax changes. I have a funny feeling that your manager might “forget.”

      2. Marcy Marketer*

        It is a bit awkward but hopefully if you are direct and firm they will change course. One quick note is that I thought you didn’t need their work and were just doing it to be nice. If you want to keep them as a client in the fall you can adjust the script to leave room to negotiate. Something like “Let me know if that fits your budget and we can discuss.”

        1. OP3*

          Sorry–to clarify–I wouldn’t be looking to freelance with this org in the fall but may set myself up as a freelance project manager for other nonprofit work, especially smaller nonprofits in our community that could use some help getting to the next level in their development. :)

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It’s rare to move a w2 employee to 1099 in this specific case. Unless you leave first and come back later. The belly to back of the transition part is what’s mucking it up. It’ll look odd on paper to suddenly have you as a contractor, it can throw an IRS flag.

        1. OP3*

          You’ve been so generous in sticking with this conversation, so just want to repeat for you what I mentioned above–I may be looking to transition to freelance work as a new career in the fall (not working for this organization but putting myself out there for other nonprofit work). Hope that clarifies things!

        2. OP3*

          Oops–I just realized what you are saying and that you’re suggesting they keep me classified as full-time for an extra month but give me the flexibility in schedule I need for my personal schedule while still doing the work they need. Got it. I had offered that before handing in my letter of resignation, in case they wanted me to extend my end date for a month in order to remain available for project work and training. But the org did not go with that. The two options offered to me in response were the one I listed here (the hourly wage with no accounting for loss of benefits) or a simple extension of my health insurance for one month with NO pay for hours worked. I didn’t mention the latter in my initial post, since I was more focused on what I saw as a freelance set-up and wanted to determine a suitable rate.

          1. Psyche*

            I’m pretty sure that the second option is illegal. I have never heard of someone being paid in health insurance before.

          2. Marcy Marketer*

            Wow that’s super sketch. Luckily you have all the power here since you are doing them a favor and you don’t need their work

          3. Sarah N*

            Ooof, that second option has got to be illegal?? Given this, it honestly sounds like your company is negotiating in bad faith here. I’d ask for either:
            1. Part time hours at your current rate but you keep your health insurance for the extra month, or
            2. Part time hours at whatever rate feels appropriate to you (but keeping in mind that they will be covering payroll taxes, workers comp, etc. under this scenario so it’s not exactly freelancing — you’d want to pick a number between a freelancing rate and your current salary).

            If they don’t want to pay, walk away.

  18. MuseumChick*

    OP 1, do not talk to the boyfriend. This issue, really, has nothing to do with him. It’s your employee’s responsibility to be on time, regardless of what he boyfriend does/does not do.

    I would sit her down and explain that being on time is a requirement of her job and if she continues to be late you will have to take action. That could mean shifting her time, or placing her on a PIP, etc. But it would be a kindness to her to be very straightforward here with her on what the consequences look like.

    If she pushes back by bringing up her boyfriend you could say something like, “I understand, however, it is still your responsibility to be here on time. Again, if this continues to be an issues I will have do to X or Y.”

  19. Temp*

    #1 – Don’t move her start time. One, she’ll just be later when the boyfriend decides that if she doesn’t start until 915, he can push that a little bit further to 930 as he already thinks 15 mins late daily is no big deal for her. Two, your other staff will see this person who is 15 mins late daily, leaving them to cover her time sensitive tasks getting rewarded/a perk for this rather than an improvement plan. This will kill morale and if she becomes even later, it will be even worse. You would have zero legs to stand on if the rest of the staff asked to have their start or finish time adjusted to accommodate their travel arrangements, gym class desires, or whatever else, as those things are no less valid reasons then ‘I shacked up with a supervisor who has lax/less need for timekeeping. You can’t make living with a manager the reason why this employee even appears to get preferential treatment.

    Don’t talk about her BF, that’s none of your business. Just tell her that she’s consistently late 5-15 minutes a day and you need that to stop. Tell her that as she is aware, she has tasks to do that must be done at 9am, 905am, 910am etc and you need her there to do them. Give her an improvement plan that spells out what you need – at her desk ready to do her work at 9am no later – and how long she has to manage that consistently before she has passed the plan. Tell her if she is still late going forward, she will fail the plan and be let go. Let her figure out how to deal with that with chronically late boyfriend. You can’t let the other staff think she can swan in whenever she wants because she’s living with a supervisor in another department.

    Also, this is a dick move on both their parts. My husband and I work in the same company, in the same room. He’s a supervisor, I’m just a staffer on a different contract but he’s still tangently in my chain of command. I would never allow him to make me late or use him as an excuse for my lateness or vise versa. We have to car share as there isn’t enough parking to take two cars but we work that out between us to suit our jobs and management. It’s not the company’s problem and as a responsible, respectable, conscientious employee I would never TRY to make it the company or team’s problem. That’s just not on. If you’re old enough to have a job, you’re old enough to manage that job! That means, calling in sick yourself if you’re sick. Calling your manager with an update if you’re running late. Attending the hours you’re supposed to attend. She needs to get her butt to her chair on time. How he manages that if he can’t drive and she’s already left is his issue and she needs to own up to that and start leaving him for dead if he can’t pull the grown up pants up and figure it out for himself. If he loves her he will not want her to lose her job over his inability to get in the shower 15 mins earlier!

  20. Alfonzo Mango*

    I feel like people are taking 1 way too seriously. OP/the manager needs to manage. The employee will adapt or be let go. Everyone loves to infer relationship troubles and dunk on boyfriends in this comment section, and it seems really toxic to me. People that are chronically late deserve love, and if two people are only just now dating and living together, it takes some time to get used to.

    Remember, it was the manager that wrote in, not the girlfriend.

    1. Marty*

      I agree. I thoroughly dislike lateness but the solution to this program is rather simple: leave at a different time than he does. If it spirals beyond that, deal with it at the time.

      I am often awake at 5AM and my spouse is up at 9AM. We have different workplace start expectations, so, we just do different morning routines and commutes. It really isn’t rocket science and there’s no need to infer anything beyond “leave at a different time than he does”.

      NOTE: I have severe adult ADHD and I extra clocks, alarms, and schedules post-it noted all over the place. My morning slug spouse does not. Some people just suck at getting up in the morning. Whatever’s up with the boyfriend shouldn’t factor in to this at all, it’s really not the business of the manager (and I think they know that).

      1. valentine*

        People that are chronically late deserve love
        Kevin’s not late; Employee is, and by choice.

    2. Zillah*

      Thiiiiiis. FFS.

      I kind of have to wonder whether people don’t realize that some of the people reading their comments have issues with punctuality and might feel attacked by broad statements about laziness and maliciousness. I’m always late – I’m not lazy or malicious, I have a medical condition that makes it not, in fact, easy or basic to be on time. Shockingly, people calling me lazy or malicious for most of my life does not make me more on time, though it does make me more anxious and depressed.

      It’s possible to make the point that punctuality is necessary without being a jerk about it.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Oh, I think plenty of people realize that but don’t care. Or consider it a plus.

    3. neeko*

      Agreed. The armchair diagnosing of the relationship and the personality types of people no one but the OP actually know is going off the rails.

    4. Glitsy Gus*

      Yeah, there is a lot of going on about how employee should just ditch him, or BF can fix it, or how much he sucks, which is irrelevant because that isn’t the manager’s question. The only way it factors in at all is because if she knows they moved in together, say, only a month or two ago, it could be a case of getting used to the new schedule/commute. It isn’t a great excuse, but it happens to the best of us and if it resolves itself quickly, there you go.

      If there is room to move her start time 15 minutes (which OP confirmed adjusting start times isn’t an unusual thing, but once it’s agreed on it’s set) and employee agrees it will give her the time she needs for her new commute, great. If she’s still late after that, well, that’s a problem and it’s the employee’s job to address it. End of story.

      BF has a flexible start time and she doesn’t. She has a car, he doesn’t. That’s their problem, not OP’s and the how and why of the emplyee’s codependency and the assholery of the BF aren’t part of the equation for this specific letter. Now, when employee writes in asking what to do about her slug-a-bed boyfriend who doesn’t have a set start time and always makes her late for work, only then does all of this becomes relevant.

  21. FYI*

    WHAT!? Don’t get into one. single. thing. about her relationship. The message is “you need to be on time,” period. How she does that is up to her, a fully-developed adult. Repeat as necessary. “You need to be on time.” Maybe throw in, “the work is time-oriented, so you need to be on time,” but that’s it.

    Trust that she can think for herself, that she has agency.

    It’s nuts to consider that one person, let alone a whole department, would orbit around some guy’s sleeping habits! Unreal! If her excuse were, “we got a new dog that needs walking,” would you talk to the dog? Help her find a dog-walker? No! These are adults who can manage themselves.

    1. Always late.*

      I would probably add the consequences of not being on time. “You need to be on time. if you are late again, you will be fired.” etc. Don’t pussyfoot around it. Do X or Y will happen. Be clear.

      1. Zillah*

        I agree re: adding the consequences, but I do want to point out that it doesn’t seem like there’s necessarily been a clear “you need to be on time” conversation yet – the OP says they mentioned it, but that’s not really the same thing. If that is the case, immediately escalating to “if you are late again, you will be fired” is really extreme and probably isn’t going to get the OP a more productive employee.

  22. Justin*

    (Sending my wife #5…)

    I really feel for the person in #2. I gather the same thing that Allison does, that she doesn’t know she can speak up. Best to really sit down and talk without condemnation. It may surprise her but I think it might take some of the internal pressure off. Good luck!

  23. Bibliovore*

    OP#2, I agree with Alison’s and Feline’s comments about potentially reducing her load for a bit, and about how wonderful it is that you’re paying attention to your employee’s crisis and trying to figure out how to help make this work.

    A major health crisis that didn’t itself affect my job performance required me to go on a medication for a few months that left me constantly exhausted—I was sleeping 10–12 hours a night and still always felt so tired that it was hard to keep my eyes open. I was very lucky and grateful to have an understanding boss and coworkers, because my work most definitely suffered from it.

    You didn’t mention how long this crisis might be expected to last, weeks vs. months vs. years; while time frames for health problems are rarely definite, that might affect how you choose to handle it. If your employee is likely to be like this for years, a change in duties might make more sense than, say, added time-off flexibility and giving her backup/shadow coverage as needed. Either way, I’m guessing she’s all too aware she’s making mistakes and will be glad of the gentle, open discussion on non-punitive ways to address it.

    One other thing: If your workplace offers any kind of crisis or stress support, you might remind her that’s an option or otherwise suggest some stress relief. That could be a minefield, as someone who doesn’t want to be micromanaged may hate input on managing their own stress, but a health crisis big enough to trigger the mistakes you mention can also make it hard to devote attention to other health needs.

  24. writelhd*

    I feel for#5, knowing that people are pregnancy sleuthing and may figure it out even if they aren’t going to say anything about it does just kind of make me uncomfortable and angry, and I don’t know why. I guess it just feels kind of invasive and I wish people would mind their own business even in their own heads about it. There are such a whole host of possible “minor health issues” that could exist though that aren’t that that I think that’s a decent approach.

    1. londonedit*

      I would never, ever comment or say anything to someone who hasn’t yet announced a pregnancy, but…I really seem to have this weird knack of suddenly being able to tell when someone’s pregnant. It isn’t even because of anything I can immediately point to – I mean, wondering if someone’s pregnant because they keep running to the loo or they’ve been to several doctors’ appointments is one thing, but with me I literally will be around someone one day, and a thought will pop into my head. ‘Ooh. They’re pregnant’. And my rational brain will be like ‘Eh? What? Where did THAT come from??’ but the rest of my brain will be going ‘Yup. Pregnant. Bet they are’. I’m not ‘pregnancy sleuthing’, it’s not something I remotely care about (I don’t want kids, have very little interest in pregnancy/babies, really don’t mind one way or another whether someone’s having a baby or not as long as they’re happy) but still my brain does this. And it’s always right.

      1. Traffic_Spiral*

        Yeah, it’s kinda like saying someone’s “hair sleuthing” because they noticed your new hair style. People sometimes notice things.

        1. londonedit*

          Absolutely – I’m sure my subconscious is picking up on a million little tiny signals that my conscious brain doesn’t notice until the subconscious beats it round the head with a big stick. Point is, even though I’m not one of those people (although I’m sure they do exist) who actively monitors every woman between the age of 20 and 45 for signs of pregnancy, my brain just figures it out at some point. No malice intended and I can’t help it!

      2. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

        I’m the same way – the last few I’ve sleuthed, I just randomly connected the dots out of nowhere – “wait, she was making weird comments about drinking tea, and suddenly started wearing that billowy jacket over all her clothes!”

        But I’m not telling ANYONE what I know – it’s not my place! Mostly, I just relish in my ability to figure it out for a bit, then hope my coworker’s excited, then move on. I never say anything to anyone until I’m 100% positive they’ve confirmed a pregnancy (I once saw a colleague in the gym, clearly like 7 months pregnant, but refused to say anything in our conversation about it, because I wasn’t sure she’d publicly acknowledged it.)

        The people who sleuth, then start making comments…those are the WORST. You don’t know if that pregnancy is wanted, or viable, people! Be quiet.

    2. Delta Delta*

      I was once “pregnancy sleuthed.” I wasn’t feeling well first thing in the A.M. for a week or so and scheduled a medical appointment for later that same week. Someone saw that on my calendar and busted out and congratulated me afterward. I had no idea why until she told me. Then I got to explain to her that I had a minor ulcer that I was treating and seeing a doctor for. She felt terrible and I felt weird.

    3. Parenthetically*

      Pregnancy sleuthing is SO GROSS for SO MANY REASONS. Everyone who does this must have been raised in the same damn barn. It’s Basic Manners 101 that the pregnant person is the one who brings up pregnancy and no one else.

  25. LaDeeDa*

    OP2 – I had an employee who was battling cancer, between the pain, the stress, and the medication she wasn’t able to perform at her super high-performing pace, and I was more than OK with that. I did have to have a really tough conversation with her and let her know she wasn’t performing like she used to, and no one expected her to, but herself. She hated hearing it, her position and work were really the last bit of her identity she was holding on to. It was really hard on her. I was very gentle with her and told her I needed her to work from home, and to stop working 14 hour days, and to take on some less high-profile projects and concentrate on her health. A lot of my motivation was to protect her reputation, I didn’t want anyone seeing her so frazzled and confused and emotional. She was really mad at me at the time, but later, once she was further into her recovery and not in as much pain or on as much medication she apologized to me. I knew all of the things she said and did were because of her health issues, and I didn’t take it personally.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      That was very kind of you, as a manager and as a person. Thank you for sharing this!

  26. Quickbeam*

    Re: #1…my gut tells me that if you offer to move EE’s hours later, her co-workers will get stuck with more of the early AM work. And that’s unfair. I realize a lot of people on this forum have flexible work hours but I don’t. If someone is late in my office the rest of us have to cover. So if on-timedness is important, I think shifting the hours is a bad plan.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      OP has confirmed others have staggered start times, so it’s not unfair to move her start time a smidgen to accommodate her late arrival.

      1. TheFacelessOldWomanWhoSecretlyLivesinYour House*

        As ong as all the others can move their previous times to something different, you mean. OP also mentioned in the letter that her tardiness affected other. In the comments, OP stated once a start time is fixed, it needs to be adhered to. So changing Tardy Employee to a later time should be offered to all the employees as Ms. Tardy gets to change her time.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          From what OP said in her comment others have changed their start times in the past, which leads me to believe it isn’t really uncommon or seen as an issue as long as it isn’t changing often.

  27. T*

    OP#2 definitely lower her workload. She is fortunate to have a conscientious boss who is aware of the problem and willing to help. I had thyroid cancer and when I returned to work after surgery my boss proceeded to dump more work on my plate. It was a really bad time personally and when I pushed back, she reacted by screaming at me in front of her boss and threatening to get HR involved if I didn’t do the work she assigned. My doctor had low balled my thyroid replacement medication and I could barely function, let alone do my normal work. I didn’t know it at the time but my TSH was dangerously high and I could have filed for disability for hypothyroidism. I ended up leaving for another job as soon as I could find one. Definitely filed under how not to treat employees.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Ugh. I’m so sorry your former boss is a crappy person who did that to you, and glad you’re doing better in terms of both health and employment.

  28. SB*

    Thanks Alison for the casual third partner mention, normalizing things like that is really nice :)

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I really liked that as well. It didn’t actually click what I read at first, I just went “oh, yeah, more hands on deck” and then had to double back to make sure I read it right.

    2. league.*

      Came here to say this. Absolutely love the normalizing of poly, even in a tiny way like this!

    3. Double A*

      Haha I loved that comment! I also really enjoyed imagining the boss offering that as a suggestion, if the OP decided to disregard the advice not to get involved in the relationship.

    4. Ella*

      As a polyam person, I actually found it a bit dismissive, as if you would start a poly relationship for the practical aspects of a second car. I know the intention was aiming to be more inclusive.

  29. Jaybeetee*

    LW1: I say this as the “chronically late” person who can’t get my ass out of bed on time ever for love or money. (ADHD, at this point I’m pretty good for things that happen later in the day, but being on time first thing in the morning seems to be my personal Everest that I’ve never figured out how to fix).

    It’s okay to tell her she needs to figure it out. If her job requires her to be there at a certain time, and his is more flexible, it’s okay to tell her regardless of what’s happening at home, she needs to be clocked in on time. She’ll have to figure it out with the bf, if he can haul himself out of bed, or if they start coming in separately, or whatever. But it does need to be made clear to her that she can’t keep doing what she’s doing.

    Bf may not realize that her start time is harder than his, and not realize that “a few minutes late” is a bigger deal for her. Or he may have a collection of rationalizations. Or he may feel bad, but I can attest that “feeling bad” doesn’t make me any more on time than anything else ever has. But Bf’s issues aren’t for you to deal with. If she needs to be there on time, she needs to figure out how to make that happen.

    1. Jaybeetee*

      Oh, and don’t move her start time later. I’ve tried that sort of thing myself, that way lies madness…

      1. Batgirl*

        I was actually thinking of setting her an earlier time. They’ll still be late but there’s more chance the work can still be done.

      2. Dankar*

        Amen. If anything, move her start time up. That’s what I did (mentally) for myself, and now I’m regularly only 5-10 minutes late.

    2. Casper Lives*

      I’m in the same boat (same diagnosis and all that). I don’t take jobs with no start time flexibility, and don’t carpool for this reason. The boyfriend isn’t LW1’s issue.

  30. Rainbow Roses*

    #1 Some posters are giving suggestions on how to get up earlier or how the boyfriend may have a medical issue. The reason doesn’t matter.
    It’s not the OP’s place to give suggestions or speculate on his medical situation to excuse her lateness. Her job is to make sure her workers get there and do their job on time (barring any emergencies).
    Are there any policies in place regarding lateness? If not, let her know it’s still unacceptable and there will be consequences if she continues to be late. It’s not fair to her coworkers to take up the slack and it will hold her back professionally (maybe even fired). Not to mention the respect of her coworkers.

    1. Koala dreams*

      Yes, a lot of the comments above are things that would be fine to say to a friend that is often late, depending on your relationship of course, but it would be over-stepping from a manager. As a manager, you need to keep to the work issues. If the employee tries to shift the conversation to talk about her relationship issues or anything else, you need to direct the conversation back to work. For the record I think it’s pretty common for people to feel the need to come up with an explanation when they did a mistake, it can be hard to realize as an employee that your manager don’t want to hear the full story, they just need to know if you can do the work going forward. That makes it extra important that the manager is prepared to steer the conversation in the right direction.

  31. Batgirl*

    OP1, I say this as former chronically late person; hard boundaries are essential when you’re dealing with this. You can’t give hard boundaries to the boyfriend, but you can give them to your staff member. She has no issue with lateness or timing so once it has been made clear to her that yes, it is a problem, and no, time can’t be made up then she has some choices to make. It will help her in her negotiations with her boyfriend to be able to cite the hard boundary that you have provided.

    It may be really, really hard for him and it’s easier to assume it’s not causing that much of an issue. Even she thinks time can be made up. So clear that up. I would say something like you need her to figure out her new commute and travel arrangements by x date and that if she doesn’t it is really going to affect her development and references (Even with the best will in the world, would you recommend her to another manager?) and that it is a discipline issue. You can say that you’re willing to be flexible with some arrangements (like an earlier time, or a later time, or working from home for part of the morning) but that she needs to stick to the arrangements she makes with you.

    1. Zillah*

      I would say something like you need her to figure out her new commute and travel arrangements by x date and that if she doesn’t it is really going to affect her development and references (Even with the best will in the world, would you recommend her to another manager?) and that it is a discipline issue. You can say that you’re willing to be flexible with some arrangements (like an earlier time, or a later time, or working from home for part of the morning) but that she needs to stick to the arrangements she makes with you.

      I love this. It clearly communicates the issue, and based on what OP1 said above, it seems like it’s in line with the way start times work in their department overall, so it wouldn’t be special treatment. It also gives the employee time to come up with an alternative.

    2. Glitsy Gus*

      This is a really great option here. I like that what you have here is sympathetic to the necessity for figuring out a new schedule when you move, but is really clear about the expectation that this is a very finite process that needs to get taken care of.

      I also think, rather than just offering to move her start time, talking about being open to being flexible where possible if it would help with her commute issue is key. If employee thinks an extra 15 minutes would make the difference for her, and she can proactively choose to make that adjustment, great, it’s good you have that flexibility. If, on the other hand, you just move it because, “well, that’s when you’re getting here…” then it really does open the door to getting there 15 minutes after the new start time.

  32. Jennifer*

    #1 Totally agree. It’s not the OP’s job to help this woman figure out how to get her grown boyfriend up earlier in the morning. If I were her, I’d just leave when it was time to leave and he’d have to get an Uber. I have a problem with this as well and knowing that the person giving me a ride was completely inflexible with the time they needed to leave would motivate me to get out the door. Part of me wishes it was her asking for advice :)

  33. Casper Lives*

    This is so far down that few people are going to read it. But I’ll say it anyway instead of commenting on individual things. There are several comments who abhor lateness to the point it makes them physically ill. That’s on them. As a chronically late person who manages to have friends, has had long-term partners, and good relationships with my family, it doesn’t make someone a “Motherf* assh*le” who doesn’t value others. I could say that people who are so uptight about time only care about themselves, but I don’t make sweeping judgments like that.

    1. Batgirl*

      I think people have the right to be bothered about lateness, or whatever truthfully bugs them, but there’s a difference between disliking a behaviour and making personal comments about an entire individual. If you just treat it as a behaviour you can say that you can’t hang with that, or that you’ll be leaving on time without them; perfectly fine choices!
      I do give side eye when people call the chronically late ‘inconsiderate’. Unless you’re a mind reader, you don’t know. Maybe all they do is consider it. That’s not a magic cure. People know what they find annoying; they don’t know other people’s motivations.

    2. Not Cool*

      You need to develop some compassion. There are plenty of people who struggle with this unwillingly for health reasons, not just “habits”.

      My spouse with life-long severe insomnia would love to be awake, healthy, and able to get up consistently in the morning. Instead he is exhausted, sickly, and (during the worst of it) has to give up driving for the safety of himself and others.

    3. Jennifer*

      People are so harsh about lateness and it’s so disheartening. I have the same issue and manage to have a spouse, friends, and maintained employment since I was a teenager. I’m thankful I have a job where it doesn’t matter as much. Being so uptight about time isn’t always needed.

    4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Chronic lateness in friends, family members, and loved ones is one thing, but employees or co-workers? Whole different story. One of the things about work is that our schedules and habits must conform to the needs and expectations of others. If I am a boss and have a role that needs someone to be on-site at X time and an employee is always late, you bet I am going to abhor them and probably eventually fire them unless there is a very compelling reason (e.g. disability, caregiving).

      1. Batgirl*

        Well, that really depends on the job. Lots of people with time issues choose flexible roles or non traditional jobs or being their own boss; or to work at hours where they can better handle punctuality (like night time roles).
        I don’t see why deciding that someone is not a good fit should involve personal abhorrence of them.

    5. Jaybeetee*

      Insulting people about it is no good, but even as I struggle with lateness, I respect that sometimes my issues end up interfering with other people’s plans, and that everyone has a limit. I, too, maintain friendships, family relationships, and (though not at present) relationships, even though I’m late to things.

      But you know, there’s late and there’s late. I’m often more in the 10-15 minutes end of the spectrum. I dated a guy for awhile who hailed from a culture that was lackadaisical about time and viewed punctuality as a colonial artefact. He could be a solid 45 minutes to an hour late or more, and if I got annoyed, he’d get defensive and just be like, “I had to work late, quit nagging me about it!” And in that position… I felt like he was being disrespectful and inconsiderate of my time and being kept waiting like that! With that in mind, I can see both sides. I dislike when people imply that anyone who runs late is an inconsiderate jerk – and I also dislike when people in my life are super late on a regular basis, and actually *are* inconsiderate jerks about it.

    6. Zillah*

      Thiiiis. I hate being late, but even when I’m trying really hard not to be, it keeps happening. For me, part of my ADHD is that there isn’t an identifiable reason that I’m running late, which means that it’s really hard to know how to fix it.

  34. House Tyrell*

    OP1- This is so frustrating! While I was between leases and didn’t have a car, I’d stay with my boyfriend who worked in the same building as me, but different departments obviously. He made me late ALL THE TIME because he was so slow in the mornings and his start time was flexible and he’d snooze a lot, even with me shaking him awake. It caused a lot of fights and the only thing that fixed the problem was my lease at a new place finally starting. (This of course was a sign that other problems in our relationship would soon arise.)

    Just from my experience the relationship won’t be sustainable anyway, but as her manager you shouldn’t get into that. Either offer her a later start time or tell her she HAS to be on time, no excuses. Hopefully that will spur him to respect her time and career and if not it will sort itself out I would hope.

    1. neeko*

      “the relationship won’t be sustainable anyway” People who are late are also capable of having relationships. Chronic lateness isn’t a rare thing and it’s not a big deal to everyone.

      1. Suspendersarecool*

        He may well see her career as a threat and be trying to get her fired so he can control her.

        1. House Tyrell*

          As someone who used to work in violence prevention, I know that abusers do this, but there is not enough information to make that accusation and I don’t think it’s appropriate to assume that. Some people are just late to things and that’s usually ok (I am never at work by 9am on the dot, I come in around (9:05-10, but also my job doesn’t care if we come in exactly on the dot or require that.) I wouldn’t call him an abuser, maybe just oblivious to how he’s making her late and how it’s impacting her job.

          Hopefully he’ll get better after a conversation.

      2. House Tyrell*

        I didn’t mean that in a people who are late can’t have relationships, I meant that if he keeps making her late to work and she gets in trouble for it then that won’t be sustainable! Especially if she brings it up and he doesn’t change the behavior. My bad for wording it poorly!

  35. Suspendersarecool*

    Seriously, has it occurred to nobody that the boyfriend may be deliberately making employee late as a form of control? LW needs to tell her very clearly that her boyfriend absolutely cannot be an excuse and her job is at stake.

    1. Lance*

      I’m sure some people have had some inklings of such a thought… but frankly, just this isn’t enough info to leap to it, it’s not a helpful line of thinking, and there’s no productive reason to bring it up.

    2. Delphine*

      What’s the point of hyperbolic speculation that assigns maliciousness to every possible situation?

    3. Rainbow Roses*

      No. Let’s not do this.

      We don’t know that. Let’s not speculate on what ifs and assign the worst. We don’t know these people.
      I know perfectly nice people who are always late. There are even posters here who admit to always being late.

    4. Observer*

      It’s occurred to people – and it’s actually been mentioned a few times in the comments.

      But the bottom line is that there is NOWHERE near enough information to even see this a LIKELY, and it is TOTALLY out of the OP’s domain.

    5. Zillah*

      Most people who are chronically late are not doing it to control or abuse others, and it’s really disturbing that you’re ascribing such sinister motives to them.

  36. austriak*

    OP#1 – It is great when managers are able to be flexible on things but you can’t always do that. You shouldn’t have to redo the whole workflow because an employee has punctuality issues and it is not a reasonable excuse that the boyfriend is not a morning person. I also do not think it is fair to the other employees. Their job is to perform the assigned tasks by certain deadlines. Tell the employee that and that they need to be at work on time. If they do not, hold them accountable in accordance with company policy. Adults need to be adults.

  37. JoAnna*

    OP #5, have you talked to your doctor about medication that might help with some nausea and vomiting? I’ve been pregnant 10 times and have six living children (and worked full-time throughout), and it wasn’t till baby number four (pregnancy #6) that I finally started taking medication to help with first trimester nausea & vomiting. I was kicking myself for not getting medication with my other pregnancies! I’ve used both Zofran and Diclegis.

    1. Double A*

      I really couldn’t do my job and be nauseous, and taking 12.5 mg of unisom each night was a godsend. When I took it, I wasn’t sick the next day (bonus, it helps you sleep). I highly recommend asking your doctor about it if you have morning sickness!

      1. atalanta0jess*

        YES. Unisom + B6 allowed me to function and is pretty darn mild as far as side effects/possible impacts on the ol’ fetus.

    2. Amy*

      If only the meds worked for everyone. I’m 9 weeks, wearing SeaBands, eating small meals of bland foods, sucking peppermint drops and ginger, taking Unisom, B6, Colace, Zofran, and Phenegran, and still throwing up and nauseated all day. I had to tell my boss this week because I was so obviously ill. I’m trying to keep it a secret from others for a few weeks, but undoubtedly someone will figure it out when they see how green I am.

      1. Dahlia*

        If you want to lie, you have my full permission to use the stomach bug I caught a couple years ago – I got sick everytime I ate for a solid 3 weeks and was constantly queasy.

  38. Howard Bannister*

    For Letter 3, I just got my paycheck today, so I took out the stub and read it over really quickly.

    And then tried to do the math. (this next bit gets boring, so you can just skip to the end unless you, like me, are interested in the steps)

    In addition to my regular pay I get paid time off. So I had to do a bit of math to work out the value of that time off over a year and add that in. (this always strikes me a bit funny the first time I do, to just add it as a cash value, but as a freelancer you don’t get paid when you don’t work, so you’re spreading the value of the time you’d take off over the time you work). Then they had the employer-paid benefits right there, which covered health insurance, life insurance (I’m not adding what I paid to that, as that portion is in my base pay rate). They don’t show payroll taxes there, but that’s on my W-2, so I used last year’s numbers for that. (take what I paid for for Medicare and SS, they’re on the hook for that, don’t add what I paid, again, that’s in my base pay rate already) And then I just guessed what they paid for unemployment insurance for me, because the formula is too complex to figure out.

    Bottom line!

    That came to 63% of my total gross pay. So, in my particular case, not quite doubling my pay, but if I were to just take work from my employer on a freelance basis at my current hourly rate, boy howdy, that’s a SHARP pay cut.

    And I’m sure there are other tangible benefits that I didn’t think of in this back of the envelope calculation. (what about the cost of providing my own equipment and office supplies, just for example?) (what about these bonuses I’ve been earning consistently the last few years — do I include them? Do I include every bonus I was theoretically eligible for, or only ones I got? Complex questions!) (and, hey, it looks like my state has at least two taxes on my employer that I’d be responsible for if freelancing that comes to about two hundred dollars a year–check for specific local taxes you might incur!)

    You can probably walk through exactly the same exercise with your paystub and last year’s W-2. It’s not perfect, but in about ten minutes you can figure out exactly how big of a pay cut you’re taking by just freelancing for the same hourly rate. It can be eyeopening!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Wait. Roll back. Your pay stubs don’t show payroll taxes? That’s not a legal paystub then…

      Medicare is 2.9% and Social Security is 12.4% [these are split in half for employer/employee if you’re employed. If you’re self employed, you pay the whole thing]

      Plus you get slapped in the face with a “self employed” tax of 12%.

      You’re really digging in deep with the breakdown here. The problem with overhead is that you don’t know what it’s going to be in the end, that’s why most freelancers just triple their salary rate. Double it and you pay off the taxes, triple it and you pay for the overhead of having insurance and supplies or equipment, etc. You build in a margin and cushion for that your laptop dies or you need a new printer or what have you.

      1. Jenny Next*

        “Plus you get slapped in the face with a “self employed” tax of 12%.”

        I’m self-employed, and I don’t have an extra tax. I have to pay my half of Medicare and Social Security (7.65%), which I’ve always done as an employee. And I have to pay the employer’s half (7.65%) as well.

        The employer half is tax-deductible, so in practice a couple of percentage points are shaved off depending on your combined federal and state tax bracket.

        I don’t begrudge the employer half, because to my way of thinking I’ve been implicitly paying it all along in the form of a (slightly) lower salary than I would get if there were no payroll taxes.

        In figuring one’s hourly rate, it’s also good to build in non-billable administrative time — creating and sending invoices, keeping track of payments, setting up and using an accounting system, and other things you don’t have to worry about as an employee. You usually can’t charge for this, but it’s work that has to be done.

        Bottom line: 2 to 2.5 times your employed hourly rate is solidly in the ballpark, especially if you can afford to walk away from work you don’t want.

    2. Jenny Next*

      I would definitely count bonuses, probably averaging over a number of years. That’s a legitimate part of a compensation package.

  39. Clementine*

    I may be reading into this, but I wonder if the OP worries that they will get in trouble from the employee’s relatively powerful boyfriend or his boss if he gets left at home due to lateness, and somehow the OP will be to blame. It may not be so simple as tell the employee she has to be there on time, given that context. Note: It would not be fair to blame the OP or the hapless girlfriend if the boyfriend gets left at home, but it could happen anyway.

    1. Observer*

      Well, he can’t be THAT powerful. The OP says he’s a “team leader” which is generally not THAT high up in the hierarchy. And they also don’t think that the BF is of higher seniority.

  40. From That Guy*

    #3 Post. I wish you luck with this however I do not think this is a win win situation, sorry. Your current salary has no bearing on your contract rate. Find out what other freelancers, consultants get for this work, do not base it upon you salary for all the reasons stated (lack of benefits, etc). Then, just tell him this is your hourly rate, paid weekly and you would be glad to start on such and such a date and then walk away from it. What bothers me is that they low-balled you right from the get go. Of course, I don’t know all the dynamics however being on this side of the table, non-employee side, I see things much differently. I also think for your mental health I would not go back and forth with them. Walking into a contract disappointed is no way to start, even for a one time shot.

    Again, I do wish you luck.

    1. OP3*

      Thanks so much for your good wishes. At first I felt upset by the unfairness of the proposed arrangement, but after all the great support on this forum, I am in a calmer state of mind and realize that my employer may have been really hasty in offering what seemed simple to him (switching me from FT to PT) without realizing the ramifications and how undesirable this situation would be for me. We don’t have an HR department, so the head of the org relies on the Business Manager for any issue involving finances, and the Business Manager’s role is to minimize expenses for the org. Nobody is looking at these arrangements from the employee perspective, which can be maddening, even if it is unintentional. Thanks to all who weighed in here, I feel empowered now to state the terms that would be acceptable for me to take on this work.

  41. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP #3: You gave a long, very generous notice period. You don’t owe them anything else. But out of the goodness of your heart, you offered to work as a consultant to provide additional transition support. So you should ask for a reasonable hourly consulting rate. You can use the 2x rule (which is easy), or do a more detailed calculation to come up with the rate. But it should not be $21! If it was me, I would definitely ask for double, at minimum! You don’t seem to need the money, so this is just a big FAVOR to your employer. Remember that–you are doing your employer a FAVOR by even making this offer. I wouldn’t even bother providing justification for your rate. If your employer won’t agree to your rate, walk away, politely, and tell your employer “I’m sorry we couldn’t come to an agreement on the consulting rate, but I will do my best ensure a smooth transition during my notice period.”

    I have been involved in putting this type of arrangement in place many times at work (corporate office environment) on behalf of the employer. I have *never* seen any former employee paid their salary rate for post-employment consulting services. It is always a higher hourly rate, in my experience.

    And by the way, since this was brought up in the other comments, I would not agree to switch to part-time employment. You need freedom and control of your schedule and workload, so a consulting relationship is the way to go.

    1. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Adding: Goes without saying that you should have a consulting agreement (contract) in place for this type of gig.

  42. DaddySocialWorkerBoss*

    Re Question 1: The question for me is whether the employee is still producing work on time at acceptable standards. The OP wrotee that the employee is late and “rushing” to get the work down. That doesn’t mean the work is subpar or late. So before I’d decide whether this merits being addressed I would consider those factors. If the work on time and of acceptable quality, there’s nothing to address IMO.

  43. Essess*

    If someone is deliberately making me late and it’s interfering with my job, then *I* am not going to continue to be the one who suffers the consequences. The tardy person should be dealing with repercussions of their actions, not me. So I would tell them the night before that I will be pulling out of the driveway in the morning at exactly x o’clock. If he is in the car, then he can go with me. If he is not, then he will need to find another way to work or use PTO to take the day off. He will need to deal with the job issues the result from his actions, not me. And stick to it! No little “just 1 more minute” excuses. He has to be in the car and ready to leave at that time or else he really doesn’t care about you and your job.

    1. Close Bracket*

      It’s probably not deliberate. The effect is the same, though, so leaving at x time whether that person is in the car or not is fair game.

      I wonder how OP’s employee’s boyfriend worked this before. Was the bus service at his old place so good that he could roll up to the bus stop whenever and still get to work within a 15 window? Or if the bus only comes every 30 min or every hour, does he have so much slack that he can be an hour late and that’s ok? I’ve been in both those situations.

      Maybe OP’s direct report will write in and ask for advice on getting to work on time when you give a ride to your boyfriend and he doesn’t get out of bed.

    2. Zillah*

      So since you’re not really addressing this to the OP specifically (who is the girlfriend’s boss, not the girlfriend) but as a much more general statement, I want to point out that while the solution you’re proposing is often the right one in this kind of scenario, your framing of “if you can’t do x you don’t care about me” is really not universal, and presenting it as such is really problematic. “I need you to do X” or “it’s a dealbreaker if you can’t do X” are totally fair. “If you don’t do X, you don’t care about me” is really manipulative. People don’t have things they struggle with changing at you.

  44. OP3*

    RESULTS: In case anyone is checking back here, I just want to thank all of you for your helpful advice. I made it clear that I could not accept the original proposal, then I came up with a reasonable hourly rate that I felt still retained my dignity and said it was the rate I could offer for any project work desired in the month following my end date. In fact, the head of the organization didn’t even discuss or negotiate; he came by my office to say it was approved and to sketch out what my supervisor told him she would want me to do. Honestly, I think he was so set on expediting the whole thing that he hadn’t even thought through the initial terms he had given me. This is a real downside to not having a dedicated HR person at our org! Anyway, thanks so much for all the professional guidance–it is much appreciated, and I learned a lot, too!

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