what should I say to an employee who’s requesting too much time off?

A reader writes:

I have a question about an employee who is requesting a lot of time off. This employee is considered auxiliary (works less than 20 hours per week), and her shifts are working evenings and weekends in healthcare. She typically works a regular schedule of Friday, Saturday, Sunday and a mix of evening shifts in there. She recently graduated and applied for a full-time job in the department, but due to an excessive number of call-outs in her past, we did not consider her for the position. Because she is part-time, she does not get PTO, but that doesn’t stop her from requesting time off (without pay) fairly often – approximately 2-3 shifts per month. Although her position description states that she should be available to cover in some instances of full-time employees taking time off, she rarely volunteers to cover shifts, and will sometimes only cover a shift for a full-time employee if they guarantee her that they will work for her.

She emailed me today asking for another auxiliary employee’s personal email, so that she could offer her all of her Sunday shifts in July, and in the same sentence asked to be off on three separate Saturdays in July. She then ended the email by asking for a raise, since she now has her degree (which is not required for her position). How do I address her email tactfully, telling her that it’s inappropriate to request to be off for over half of her shifts in a month, and that she hasn’t earned a raise?

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • My boss praises my work but won’t let me lead projects
  • My former manager wants me to host a product party for her
  • Should I offer to take on the cleaning work for my office for extra pay?
  • Why can’t I know what my disciplinary meeting will be about?

{ 237 comments… read them below }

  1. Rusty Shackelford

    #5: When asked what the discipline action was about, I was told to come to the meeting to find out.

    Wow. That seems like a jerk move.

    1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

      This feels so childish. “You should know why I am mad at you.” It is hardly conducive to a productive meeting. It isn’t even conducive to productive work, because now LW5 will be dwelling on the cause of the meeting instead of focusing on work.

    2. JW3

      I agree. A 7 year employee with a great track record who got “exceeds expectations” on performance reviews, a raise and was asked to work more was recently let go. He had no idea what was happening, was never told he had done something wrong, was never counseled/disciplined, just absolutely nothing. Got called to meeting and fired, was not told why, given a separation notice that stated “conduct” and perp-walked out of the building. He asked what he had done and they said just kept repeating “conduct”. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, who works here is floored. This employee was regularly complimented by coworkers and customers. I know have no respect for the managers that were part of that.

      1. I GOTS TO KNOW!

        I am not a llama, but doesn’t refusing to give a concrete reason open you up to some sticky stuff? I know most states are “at will” but if there is even the slightest indication that even a little bit of discrimination was involved here, refusing to explain the termination seems like covering for shadiness on the part of the company.

        I might be way off, but if I were an employee who was aware of this situation, it would really make me distrustful of my company.

        1. Engineer Girl

          The employee could file for unemployment and force the company to defend it. I’m fairly sure a generic “conduct” would be insufficient evidence.

        2. Peachkins

          Yeah, I’d be hiring an attorney. If you’re fired in my state you’re not eligible for unemployment benefits. Beyond the income loss though, I’d want to know the reason and have a chance to defend myself.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Fired for any reason?!

            My blue state, employee leaning state mind and heart just stopped for a split second. I assume this is Texas or an equally as “employers can do anything” state because most allow for benefits if you are terminated for anything other than gross misconduct or job abandonment.

            1. What's with Today, today?

              It’s not Texas. My boss fired someone recently with cause, contested his unemployment, and had to pay it anyway. It was a big ole’ deal. We are in Texas.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch

                Oooooh, I take back the Texas shade then. I’m just still really upset at any state that doesn’t require workers comp insurance :(

                1. Quickbeam

                  All states have work comp. A couple administer it themselves ( like Ohio) and benefits can vary widely….but they all have it.

                2. Former Employee

                  Per the site of Employers’ Insurance:

                  “Across the country, workers’ compensation is available to help protect businesses and employees, but it is not always required. Texas is unique in many ways, one of them being the state’s workers’ compensation insurance requirements. Business owners in Texas are not required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, because of its benefits to both employers and employees, a large percentage of the Texas workforce is covered by a workers’ compensation policy.”

                3. Little Tin Goddess

                  Workers compensation and unemployment benefits are two different things. WC are if an employee gets hurt in the job, it will pay for surgeries, doctors appts, etc. Unemployment benefits are if you get laid off, sometimes quit or are let go, it’s a % of your income from the state for a certain period of time.

            2. Lynca

              I’ve heard the “if you’re fired here you can’t get unemployment!” line around here too (very red, very southern, very at-will state).

              Which is not true. You could be denied for “misconduct” but the employer would still have to provide exactly what you did that was misconduct and have the DOL agree it meets their reasonableness standards in order for that to happen. You would also get the opportunity to contest it with your own evidence.

            3. TootsNYC

              “conduct” would be a reason.

              And some people use “fired” only for big reasons, and “let go” for performance issues.

            4. Peachkins

              I’m actually in Maryland. They have different categories you fall into depending on why you were fired, but all of them lead to either a temporary period where you will not receive benefits, or denial of benefits altogether. There is nothing stopping anyone from applying for benefits, but if the employer contests it, there is the potential for benefits to be cut off and you having to repay what was already paid out.

        3. The Man, Becky Lynch

          You don’t have to give any reason. Most places will just spit out something generic like that. Looking shady isn’t enough for a lawsuit to stick. You have to have the documentation or someone has to spew something out that they weren’t supposed to. Being shady is never enough, there’s nothing to unearth if nobody speaks and doesn’t write anything down.

          However if they want to fight unemployment, they’re going to give the real issue and then you can fight it. The great performance reviews and raise will work in the terminated person’s favor.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            Yup. Husband quit a job because his (new) manager said, “I don’t care about his religious practices or that he is fasting 20 hours a day for an entire month I will not let him get a snack at sundown. He needs to keep working.”

            That’s a direct quote which *I and three other people heard and signed sworn affidavits for. He only wanted five minutes.

            He’d always been accommodated by Previous Boss. New Boss knew all of that and never said otherwise. Plus…religious accommodation. There was no coverage issue. Just a dick boss.

            Husband quit on the spot, tossing his name badge at Boss in the process. It was kinda magical to watch. Boss said “he got fired for quitting.” Seriously it was on the transcript.

            He got the money. Boss wasn’t working there anymore like a week later…

            * I was there because I’d brought the snack in order that he could just eat quick without needing to get the food himself.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              Fired…for quitting? LOL what? I can only laugh because that POS doesn’t have a job there anymore. How awful.

      2. mark132

        I’m not saying this is the case here, but unless your management shared more, you only have his word on this. I’ve had people claim they were fired for no reason, and then you find out later there really was a very good reason.

        1. Lora

          THIS. They’re not gonna tell everyone they were the cause of the 34567823 GB of p0rn that crashed the server…

          1. mark132

            Sounds like an overachiever, sort of person you want to keep. ;-)

            (Being geek, I punched that number into Amazon S3 to see how much that much that would cost a month to store on S3. I came up with $7,259,806.03/month)

        2. Bunny

          Also don’t most companies have clearly defined offenses that result in immediate termination? There are likely ones that he would not want to admit to.

          1. RUKiddingMe

            Yeah. Or the boss could just wake up one morning and decide to fire someone “just because I can.” In an at will state, that’s legal.

        3. JW3

          I regularly worked with the person. He was always on time, flexible with his schedule to help when the department needed him, was cordial and professional with all the staff, including the managers, regularly received positive feedback and also received positive comments from the customers/guests. All of his coworker were positively STUNNED. He did file for unemployment and are awaiting the decision. He said that if they do deny it, he will request a hearing (or whatever it is you do when you are denied) to see if they will explain what is was he supposedly did that was a fireable offense. He has always been very honest and owned up to any mistakes he made.

          I just think it’s crazy that if you have an employee who is doing something wrong you just ignore it vs. addressing it. If he was doing something wrong, which I don’t believe, why do you not attempt to address it them, given that he was one of the best employees in the department? I have been here for 17 years and I am now quietly looking because I would hate to think I could be fired for “conduct” especially when I have no idea what “conduct” I engaged that could get me fired and no one would tell me. There were no write-ups or a PIP because that paperwork would have crossed my desk before being sent to HR.

            1. JW3

              I will if I hear anything else! If nothing else, I hope that he finds out what he supposedly did.

          1. mark132

            Again, I’m not saying this is the case for your coworker. I’ve just known people who’ve claimed they were fired for no reason, to find out there was a really good reason. And some things are an insta-fire, time card fraud comes to mind.

            1. JW3

              I understand. It’s just that this person is one of the most honest and laid-back people I have ever worked with and if he had done something, he would admit to it. That’s why is so baffling!

              1. Critical

                I doubt he would admit to time card fraud, embezzlement, or downloading illegal porn on company machines.

                1. JW3

                  He did not have access to the internet in his area to download porn.Hhis cash drawer was counted out by the manager every morning and every afternoon. He had no access to financial information or the accounting database to commit to embezzlement. We have an electronic time clock that you put your employee number in and it records your time in/out and that cannot be changed except by a manager. The manager also has to approve the time every pay period. There are also cameras everywhere except the bathroom so if he tried to have a friend clock him in, they would have been caught.

                  Bad things happen to good people all the time.

                2. Nea

                  Or being a complete bigot on a personal social media where his – or in the case I’m thinking, her – profile clearly stated where they worked for the company.

                  This was discovered while she was on vacation. Her desk was cleared and she was told to never return, even though her actual work was pretty good.

        4. Falling Diphthong

          I immediately thought of a sexual harassment complaint as one where they might want to line up their ducks, then tell the person the new working conditions, without giving them a chance to line up a defense about all the ways they were asking for it.

          Or more broadly “Chris has a problem with me? I’ll just corner Chris and we’ll work out this misunderstanding. There was no need for Chris to involve management.”

        5. Zombeyonce

          You may not believe me, but this same thing happened many years ago. I was fired from a job after never being reprimanded, being told I was doing well, and they wouldn’t tell me why they were firing me (per my contract they didn’t have to disclose a reason).

          My best guess to this day is that there was something untrue about me said by the office admins. Both had worked there forever and applied for my job and were very unpleasant toward me though I never complained. I really still have no idea 15 years later why I got fired. Luckily, they didn’t contest unemployment (though that would have made them explain the reason). It’s not an unheard of situation.

          1. mark132

            I hope I’m not coming off as too cynical, because I am certainly injustices like you and @JW3 have described happen. I’ve just had coworkers/acquaintances in the past whose firing wasn’t as unjust and they would have had me believe.

            1. Mongrel

              Yeah – we had one like that.

              We had a manager running an e-bay business out of their desk and on the work PC (would by cheap stuff then flip it), including using the franking machine to send parcels out. They also got caught consistently sleeping at their desk on camera.

              When I ran into them one lunchtime it was all “Lawyer says I have a strong case for unfair dismissal… going to sue… general badmouthing…” never knew what happened after that though.

        6. Working Mom Having It All

          Yeaaaaahhhhhh. “I don’t know what happened, they wouldn’t tell me anything, and then BAM! next thing I know I’m fired FOR NO REASON” is a top euphemism for sexual harrassment among people I know. Anytime I hear this, and it’s coming from a man who either supervises or teaches a large number of younger women, I assume there was a very good reason he was fired.

          1. JW3

            He did not supervise anyone. I am 100% sure it was not sexual harassment.

            That department really went downhill when the new manager came on board. They started to have higher than normal turnover within months of this new manager starting. But because they are married to someone whose parent works at the corporate office all their mismanagement is ignored. This is the same manager who went to hospital to “visit” a staff member who has just had a very difficult birth and has asked for no visitors. “I’m the boss- she won’t mind”- direct quote.

            I hear what you all are saying- there could be a reason that I don’t know , however, I really, really think this was one of those “he didn’t kiss my a$$” enough situations. He went above and beyond, did everything he was asked and would come in at a moment’s notice to cover if someone else called out. AND he was chronically ill- hypothyroidism, anxiety, IBS, acid reflux. He has to take 6 pills a day and he still outworked most of that department. But again, bad things happen to good people.

            1. DerJungerLudendorff

              Generally sexual harassers are quite good at hiding their behaviour and silencing victems though. It’s part of how they get away with it in the first place.

              Having said that, in your situation I would expect managment to at least give some general indication of why he was fired. “Conduct” is so broad as to be practically meaningless, and makes me suspect that management is up to some really shady behaviour themselves.

              1. JW3

                I think it is shady management behavior. I wish you all could meet this person and you would know that he is not a sexual harasser and a really good person. All of the females that worked with him liked him (as a person) and were not all hesitant to work with him. Most afternoons on the way out, the ladies would initiate a “goodbye” hug. He always did the half side hug or just a pat on the back.

                I just had some paperwork cross my desk this morning that they are going to hire for that position. It will be interesting to see who the candidates are.

      3. Phony Genius

        This is like an Alice in Wonderland trial. “Did the accused commit the crime of which he has been charged?” “Guilty!”

      4. Leela

        I used to field stuff like this all the time at a previous job; managers were adamant that they’d given clear feedback and how things would go for the employee if there was no improvement but if you pushed them to tell you exactly what went down that’s almost never the case.

        I think I’ve used this example here before but when I first started we had to let someone in IT go, and I was surprised because if you looked at their numbers, their closed tickets and track record were fantastic for the months leading up to the firing. Apparently the issue was that the employee had a habit of sighs, eye-rolls, and talking down to people for not knowing things about IT even if that wasn’t their field at all. The employee in question said that the only thing he was told were very causal “try to be as professional as possible” in regularly scheduled 1:1s that the manager had with everyone so the fact that there were meetings wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows for the employee. We asked the manager about it and he said “yeah! be as professional as possible, you know, so no sighs, no eyerolls and what not” and had just hoped that the employee would translate that into what he meant. This was unfortunately the rule, and not the exception, at almost every workplace I’ve been in.

        1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

          Managers should give clear feedback. But I also think that if you need to be TOLD not to roll your eyes at people, things are pretty bad…

      5. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

        Since they seem to be planning to tell the OP what the issue is at the meeting, this is a different situation.

      6. Joie De Vivre

        At a former employer, a good employee was termed for conduct. Turns out he had downloaded porn to his company computer. As far as I know, he didn’t admit to anyone why he’d been termed.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Jerk move is right.

      My favorite is when it’s cloaked not even as a disciplinary meeting but an impromptu “performance review” like the scuzzbucket that was my previous employer. I just woke up one day and got a Outlook request to this “Performance review” out of the blue. I knew it wasn’t anything good. Thankfully I also had an interview that day so lol sucked to be them a couple weeks later.

      People who do this are not people you want to be working for/with.

      1. London Calling

        My place did this to someone – walked into a meeting with her line manager to discuss her sales or lack of and the head of HR was there as well and she was out. Currently being tested through an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal. Not their first in the last year, either.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Yuck. I’m glad that you’re in a region that has recourse for the employee. My case is in the US, where there’s nothing you can do about it unless you’re union or off chance have a contract to fall back on.

    4. Engineer Girl

      This is odd. If there was an investigation, the employee would have a chance to defend herself and already know what it’s about.
      Since the employee doesn’t know, they can’t put together any rebuttal.

      1. Lora

        That’s probably the point. They don’t want the employee to know ahead of time, in case the employee decides to call a lawyer, call the union shop steward, file an official complaint of some sort. They want the employee blindsided.

        In some cases, depending on what it is, I don’t necessarily disagree with that – what if the employee did something that you at a bare minimum need to investigate while they are suspended from duty? Or what if the discipline is really being fired for cause? You wouldn’t want to give them a chance to destroy evidence or sabotage the workplace somehow.

        1. I haven’t had my coffee yet

          Exactly. There is logic here, it’s just very much not in the employee’s favour, or fair, or reasonable.

        2. Dagny

          I’ll do you one better: the discussion is about whether or not the person retaliated against a fellow employee who reported him/her to HR on a previous occasion, and HR does not want this person intimidating the other prior to the meeting.

          1. Falling Diphthong

            That’s what leapt to my mind. “Just tell me who complained, and I’ll convince them they were wrong to complain.”

        3. What's with Today, today?

          I have a friend who was working for a hospital during a contentious buyout. He made his new boss mad and was scheduled for a disciplinary review the next day, but their company policy was anyone who was in their notice period couldn’t be disciplined and would be allowed to work out the remainder of the notice period(barring theft or you murdered someone, drastic stuff). You could also give notice to any member senior staff. He gave his 6 weeks notice to a retiring senior staff member 30 minutes before the disciplinary review and they could do nothing to him. He drew six more weeks of pay and worked with a smile on his face while searching for a new job, which he started the Monday after his notice ended. He won.

    5. Amber T

      I read that incorrectly the first time – I thought they were invited to “testify” at someone else’s meeting, which I could see why it would make sense to not let them know what it’s for ahead of time. But yeah, for your own? Definite jerk move.

    6. Bunny

      I’ve never been disciplined by my boss and in fact my last performance review was glowing with a significant raise, however he has a tendency to call me into his office without explination and ask me to close the door which always fills me with compete dread, and it’s often not even about particularly sensitive matters and never been about my work or conduct.

      And the thing is he always seems genuinely surprised by my nervousness as these kinds of meetings happen fairly regularly and are never about the quality of my work or conduct. And at best I feel completely unprepared for these impromptu meetings because without know the subject beforehand it is difficult to be prepared for answers as I have a lot on my plate.

    7. Emma

      The answer to this question also depends where you are, in many parts of Europe you do have to be told in advance what the meeting is about, so you have a chance to prepare and think about your plan for improvement.

    8. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

      Maybe? If I was dealing with an employee prone to arguing or crying, I’d rather do so in a meeting room than the hallway.

      The phrasing is harsh, but since it isn’t verbatim, we probably shouldn’t read to much into it.

  2. I GOTS TO KNOW!

    For LW1, how some people are so out of touch with reality is amazing to me. Asking for a raise in the same breath as requesting half of your shifts off is incredible.

    Being tactful but truthful is a kindness here. She obviously isn’t aware of some workplace norms for part time / auxiliary folks and clearing that up for her will hopefully benefit her moving forward.

    1. MusicWithRocksInIt

      Seriously. This. I would never ask for a raise (in an e-mail?!?) at the same time as even asking for a half a day off. One thing does not go at the same time as the other.

    2. Mrs_helm

      I was wondering if a discussion of workplace norms would be in order as well. Because I recall a lot of behavior like this (tons of shift swapping) when I was in college working supermarket and sandwich shop jobs. Management basically didn’t care, as long as SOMEONE showed up for the shift.

      If that is what she’s used to, it may not have occurred to her how it looks, and that it is not appropriate at this workplace. I would explain that being hired for the Fri-Sat-Sun really means you expect her to work that specific shift, excepting the rare emergency. Then ask if she can do that, and see where the discussion goes…

      1. Kirsten

        This was my first thought as well. Very common in my college restaurant and retails jobs. She might not realize that isn’t the case here, especially if it’s part time shift work.

      2. Mel

        I think it’s that it’s for the medical/health field that makes the situation different. In my head I’m visualizing some sort of residential care situation where they want to give patients a kind of routine. There’s also a big concern about burnout, and potentially overtime or passing a legal work limit for full-time employees who pick up the shifts. (It also fits that maybe the employee now has a degree or certification, like going from a general patient aid, which lots of nursing students do, to specific care role.)
        Either way, the norm for the LW’s specific workplace is not that any warm body would do. It may be that the employee is new to this workforce and was used to prior places like restaurants or retail.

    3. designbot

      I wonder what they told her when they didn’t hire her full-time? That would’ve been the time to address this by saying “unfortunately the hiring committee wasn’t receptive to your application because of your attendance. Full time employees typically get X number of days off per year, and you take that amount off every two months, so it’s difficult to envision you being successful in a full time role.”

    4. NapkinThief

      I believe this comes from the extreme end of the Ask culture spectrum – yes, Fergusina, sometimes it does hurt to ask!

    5. The Phleb

      I have a co-worker who works one or two mornings a week and alternate Saturdays who is constantly asking people if they want her Saturday hours! This was the job when you were hired and you work SO few hours already…really? And she isn’t asking to trade…just if they would like her hours for OT.

      1. TootsNYC

        And that would be making me mad as a manager, because that’s why I created a part-time position–so I didn’t have to pay OT.

      2. LITJess

        Does your manager (or someone higher up) have to approve OT before you accept her shifts? I mean, this doesn’t even seem likely to work if that’s the case.

    6. Working Mom Having It All

      Based on the asking for a raise now that she’s completed her degree angle, I’m guessing this person is fairly new to the working world. Especially if she’s been part time because she was a full time student.

      1. LITJess

        Yes, it might be a kindness to sit her down and talk about workplace norms. When you’re hired to work nights and weekends, it sucks yes, but it’s what you agreed to. So don’t spend all your energy trying to get other staff to pick up your night/weekend shifts.

    7. Artemesia

      I would probably fire her if it was relatively easy to hire people part time in this type role. I know a fair number of people in medical roles who want to and do work part time.

    8. Light37

      I work as a substitute librarian. Part of the job is working extended hours in summer, and every Sunday. They’re understanding if you miss one or two, but if you blow off all of them? Nope.

  3. Kittymommy

    I was perusing old AAM posts the other day and was reading the first letter when it originally was asked. Very weird seeing it today!

  4. Celeste

    For LW#3, listen to The Dream podcast. It tells the whole history of MLM schemes. They’re so deceptive–it’s almost impossible to make money on them. It’s really galling how they absolutely prey on poor women.

    1. Snark

      One of their hotspots is military spouses. There’s an evil logic to it – a geographically concentrated group of (usually) women, typically moving to a new town every two years, often lonely because their friend group shifts every time a spouse gets deployed or relocated, often with some kids they wish had more playmates, often single-income households…

      1. mananana

        It INFURIATES me how these MLMs deceive their victims, and mil-spouses make such easy targets. It saddens me every time I see a friend get sucked into selling over-priced candles, oils, cosmetics, jewelry, etc. Last report I read said 97% of “boss-babes” lose money when they join those monstrosities.

    2. Oh no, not another Jennifer

      This was a GREAT podcast. My mom dabbled in one of those a few years ago. They had so many good examples of how people get sucked into the scheme.

    3. JM in England

      Can’t remember the source but remember reading somewhere that for an MLM scheme to actually work for all involved (ie make a profit), the number of subscribers needed would be abot 5-6 times the current world population!

      1. Artemesia

        One of my kids did a science project in elementary school at a time when chain letter type things were rampant among the kids. She demonstrated how quickly the thing ballooned to require more than the population of the world to be involved in order for you to get your promised beenie babies or whatever. It is surprisingly few rounds before things explode through the ceiling.

    4. SusanIvanova

      Another good resource is the reddit antiMLM sub – it’s full of people talking about how to push back when someone’s trying to recruit you, plus lots of snark on the more ridiculous schemes they try.

  5. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Do not offer to do the cleaning.

    Aside from the professional repercussions mentioned, it’s a huge liability to take on for both yourself and the company who allows you to do it. You won’t be insured like the agency they use now, if you’re hurt or something breaks, you’re on the hook for that since you’d be doing outside, contract work. I mean I guess they could run it through payroll as well but that’s going to lead to OT charges in the end and that’s rarely worth it for an employer.

    1. Camellia

      Not only that, but by doing this work your employer may not realize that the cleaning service isn’t doing it. Instead, you should bring it to their attention so they can hopefully deal with the cleaning service themselves.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        That’s a good point too.

        Whenever we notice something forgotten by our [admittedly bad] cleanings services, people tell me and I call the agency. They send someone over immediately to fix it.

        We’re cheap so we put up with a lot but I have had them just not clean bathrooms sometimes and that’s when we make the call. It usually fixes it for awhile at least.

    2. Smiling

      We actually have an employee who does this. It’s a guarded secret, as the work is done after hours. I was honestly against this because the employee is someone who I manage on certain projects and is a good work friend. But, like OP, the existing cleaning company wasn’t doing a great job, the employee offered, and the boss thought it was a great idea.

      It’s done on a 1099 basis, separate from payroll. The employee does a great job. I never have anything to complain about.

      However, it seems to have put the employee in the place of the person who has to clean everything, even during work hours–wash the dishes during the week (normally employee washes any dishes left in the sink over the weekends); someone spills coffee on the floor, employee cleans it up right away; and so on.

      Employee is a people-pleaser who doesn’t seem to care, so it’s up to the individual. However, I think for some of those in-the-know, it’s made the employee less of a professional and more of a person-Friday type.

      1. Choux

        My mom started doing this at her last job before she retired. She’d come in an hour early and clean the breakroom, and got paid her regular hourly wage. But she worked in a factory, so when her actual floor shift started, she was not available to come clean anything else up.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        It’s still dangerous liability wise for the company to allow it. It’s guarded also because if your liability insurance provider knew about it, it would cause a huge spike in rates.

        She’s not covered under WC if she’s hurt as a 1099. So if she slips and hurts herself while doing the floors, without anyone else there?! [triple yikes], it’s not worth it. It’s why cleaning services can be expensive.

        I’ve seen it happen countless times and always tell the people doing it that they’re gambling. Most of the times in the past, they spin the wheel.

        But as the employee, it’s also spinning the wheel. It’s never good to operate as a 1099 for spare cash unless it’s your only option and things are really extreme, since of course you have to pay for bills or medication. But if you’re doing it for pocket change or just an extra savings, that’s a risk I’d prefer people not take or at very least be educated in knowing the liability issues.

    3. Not Australian

      I actually did the office cleaning myself at one place where I worked … but only on a strictly temporary basis and because my boss knew I could do with the extra cash so he offered it to me. I used to come in every Saturday and clean the offices properly, and in between times the other staff would empty bins and wash coffee cups. That wasn’t to make up for a lousy contractor, though; our former cleaner retired, and it was a short-term expedient until we found somebody else. Maybe in a smaller organisation like ours it’s easier for people to take on multiple roles without it being misunderstood by others.

  6. pleaset

    On OP1 I have to ask how many shifts does she have per month?

    If it’s just 12 or 14, that’s a lot of requests for time off. If it’s 28 or 30, 2-3 does not seem like a lot to me. I have the high side of averge days off full-time for the US: about 24 per year, plus 10+ sick days. That’s basically three days off per month out of 21-22 working days.

    1. Psyche

      It says she is only working 20 hours a week and was specifically hired to cover weekends. She is now trying to get almost every weekend off in July. I don’t think it is wrong to want those weekends off, but it does seem like this isn’t the job for her.

    2. Dan

      You’re way more than “average” :D

      But yeah, I’ve long gotten the sense that companies who do not offer paid leave expect that the employees are Always Going to be There. Which isn’t quite right… paid leave or not, sometimes people don’t wan to/can’t be at work and need time away. And when one isn’t getting paid leave, there’s a reasonable expectation that if one doesn’t show up, one doesn’t get paid. So if one wants to forgo more pay than others, well so be it.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      The thing is, she wasn’t hired with the benefits that allow for sick time or vacation. It’s part of the gig when you take on a part time position. So it doesn’t matter if a full time employee is allotted 3 days a month, it’s not as disruptive to the workflow, since you’re supposedly having a backup. When the backup just can’t make it happen frequently enough, it’s a big problem.

      1. pleaset

        So whatever the situation when you start a job, that’s it? You should be really wary of asking for more?

        Got it.

        1. MusicWithRocksInIt

          You can ask for more when you prove you can handle what you already have. She didn’t get promoted to full time because they know they can’t rely on her. If she had pushed herself to work the weekend shifts she committed to, then she could have gotten a full time job and eventually moved away from weekend work. Someone has got to work weekend, and it’s not fair to the supervisors to constantly find someone to cover the shifts when they thought they had hired someone that would do them.

          1. Goya de la Mancha

            This. This employee has shown that she is not reliable nor a team player. There is no reason that her supervisors should entertain a full time job or a raise. No real reason she can’t ask I guess, but there’s few who would not laugh to themselves as they delete the email.

        2. Washi

          Well, if someone hires you specifically to work weekends then you probably should not ask for 7 weekend days off in one month.

        3. LGC

          That’s not what she said, though – the issue is that her taking off half her shifts and not covering others was causing problems.

          On top of that, she wasn’t performing to expectations. (Which were that she show up for her scheduled shifts.)

        4. fposte

          Right away? Yes, you should avoid asking for more. Your chance to get more was with the initial negotiation, if there was one; after that, you accepted the terms of the job. To be hired on those terms and then to immediately say “Actually, I don’t want to do what I agreed to” is a bad plan.

          Forever? No, and nobody’s saying that. But you’re not automatically entitled to growth or raises just from not quitting or getting fired, either.

        5. Jadelyn

          Oh, please. That’s a disingenuous oversimplification at best, and plain old shit-stirring at worst.

          An employee who performs their role well and, after doing that role for a good amount of time (I’d say a hard minimum of six months, preferably a year or more) can absolutely ask for more or different or what have you.

          But that’s not at all what’s being discussed here, and I suspect you know that.

          If you accept a particular job, knowing it’s part-time, and then expect to be given the kind of treatment reserved for full-time staff, you basically accepted the job under false pretenses. You told the employer, “yes, I will take this part-time job” and then you’re turning right around and saying “actually I don’t want it to be part-time, I want a full-time job instead”. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable of the employer to be irritated at the bait-and-switch of that.

    4. fposte

      The employee works @60 hours per month. If we’re talking 8 hour shifts, she’s asking to be gone for 16-24 hours out of those 60 hours. That’s 26-40%; that would be the equivalent of you taking 70-100 days off per year.

      I know it doesn’t scale that neatly–people don’t have smaller needs just because they’re working part-time, and often they’re working more than one part-time job at once. I also think the absence of PTO may mean she doesn’t have any sense of what an acceptable absence amount would be for her position, especially if she has ambitions for growth at that employer, and I hope the OP clued her in.

      But I can also understand finding that a lot of absence. And sometimes with somebody who’s just looking to pick up a few hours here and there they’re okay with the tradeoff of staying basically a second-string sub, but it sounds like this employee didn’t understand that she was sending one message with her attendance and another with her wishes for more pay and hours.

      1. pleaset

        “If we’re talking 8 hour shifts, ”

        I agree if it’s 8-hour shifts. Which is why I asked the number of shifts. If the shifts are four hours, and she’s working 30 a month, then the situation is quite different – 2 to 3 off per month seems reasonable to me.

        It IS probably 8-hourish shifts, but it’s not 100% clear so that’s why I asked.

        1. fposte

          Even if it’s 4 hour shifts, she’s calling off 20% of the time, which is close to what lucky ducks like you and I have for PTO, but it’s almost certainly not what her full-time compatriots have.

        2. MusicWithRocksInIt

          In healthcare, on weekends I would guess 12 hours shifts. Four is very very unlikely.

          1. sunny-dee

            No way the shifts are that long — the OP says she’s working 3 shifts but less than 20 hours per week. I’d guess 6 hours (maybe a half shift?)

          2. Sneaky Ninja for this one

            But I’m guessing she’s not a clinical worker, because it says her degree isn’t necessary. I’m guessing she’s support. Being in healthcare, support often works “normal” shifts of 8 hours, clinical is 12. Or more.

          3. Probably actually a hobbit

            Yes — 12 hour shifts are most likely — based on the job description, this is almost certainly some sort of nurse or other skilled healthcare tech type job; standard shift is 12 hours, particularly on weekends

      2. Bee

        Yeah, I do kind of suspect that because she’s taking the time unpaid, she doesn’t see the problem with taking as much as she wants. The problem is that SOMEONE has to cover the shift regardless, and if you’re skipping a quarter of your shifts, your schedule means nothing.

    5. Bee

      Five weeks of vacation isn’t the high side of average in the US, that’s HIGH. Taking off work three times every month is unusually frequent, especially when you’re part-time (unless she’s doing two-hour shifts there’s no way she’s taking 7 shifts a week in less than 20 hours) and even more so when someone else has to cover it.

      1. Antilles

        Yeah, in most industries and companies I’ve seen, getting 24 paid days of vacation plus sick leave is senior management/15+ years at the same company level of vacation.

        1. pleaset

          That’s me.

          Though even junior staff get the same amount where I work.

          In the industry in which I work 20 days plus 10ish or reasonable unlimited sick days is not rare.

      2. designbot

        Agreed, with sick time and holidays, that’s effectively being paid for 12 months when you only work 10. Not that I wouldn’t LOVE that situation, but let’s not pretend it’s normal.

    6. Emily K

      I think the number was closer to 12-14 since she is part-time and only 3 days a week.

      But I’d also quibble with your math above – it’s not usually expected that you’ll use your entire sick leave bank. I’d say that you get an average 2 days off a month plus you can call in whenever you’re sick, which sounds nitpicky but really is fundamentally different from 3 days off a month, because sick days are used sporadically, not regularly.

      Along the same lines, people also usually don’t just consistently miss X% of their shifts all year long so that it’s 2 days every month. It’s more typical for people to take a few or several days together once or twice a year, with odd days off here and there as their PTO allotment allows for, which means there are usually months when they don’t take any days off. The expectation is that any given week you are probably working your regular schedule – where I work project timelines absolutely take into account people’s vacations, but the timelines assume that aside from vacation, they’re getting 5 days of work a week out of everyone on the project team.

    7. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

      The OP describes her July requests off as “over half” of her shifts. Since 7 days off were mentioned (three Saturdays and all her Sunday shifts) that would put her probably at 12-13 shifts a month.

  7. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    #1 The script I would go with would be something like, “You’re an auxiliary employee who is hired for a Friday-Sunday regular shift, and to cover for full-time employees taking time off, and you want to call off for half your regular shifts in July? It doesn’t sound like you want to, or are able to work here any longer. I think we should discuss what day will be your last day.” Since she’s hardly working anyway, it won’t be such a hardship to replace her.

    1. JoJo

      It’s so easy for full-time workers with benefits to be dismissive of part-time workers who don’t get benefits or paid time off, have been getting an advanced degree while working Friday-Sunday shifts PLUS any of those nights that a full-time employee wants to take off (and they regularly are, see OP’s letter). I’m guessing she’s already applying and possibly even working elsewhere already.

      1. Psyche

        There is nothing wrong with not wanting to work weekends. However, if you are hired specifically to work weekends that job won’t work for you. I work 7 days a week. I don’t like coming in on the weekends, but I knew when I took the job that it was necessary. If I tried to take 3 out of 4 weekends off in a month it would cause a huge problem.

        1. Frank Doyle

          You work seven days a week between multiple jobs, or you work seven days a week at the same job? That seems hard to do long term without burning out!

          1. Working Mom Having It All

            I read it as being that she works a schedule where she could need to come in on any of the seven days of the week. Not that she never gets any days off.

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

        I’ve actually been the employee in a situation like this in college. I was an early morning custodian working 5-8 a.m. and after calling off too many times because it was too hard to get up early after staying up late, this is almost the exact conversation my supervisor had with me. I wasn’t able to do the job, and they need someone who can. It was a good learning experience about the requirements of employment and my responsibility.

        But, in the OP’s case, the employee has completed her degree at this point so that’s no longer an excuse for excessive absences. You assume she’s working somewhere else…I assume that she’s a young person taking a “Summer Break” due to the timing of this being all weekends in July and just after her graduation.

      3. Samwise

        I don’t think that’s what PayNo is suggesting here. The employee was hired to work weekends and to cover for other employees. She’s asking to take most of a month off (most of the weekends in July) and has been reluctant to cover. Which, fine, she can ask and she may have truly excellent reasons, but it doesn’t matter how good her reasons are, right? She’s not doing what she was hired to do and wants to do even less of it. OP has to have coverage for those weekends.

        The employee sounds young? and/or inexperienced? It would be a kindness for the OP to sit down with her and lay it out: ” you were hired to do X, in the past however many months you have not done this or that which you were hired to do, and you’ve asked for even more time off which is to say doing less of what you were hired to do. That creates problems for me (OP) and for you (employee): for me, because I need someone to cover weekends, and for you because this is hurting your professional reputation and making it less likely (unlikely?) that we will hire you for a full time position. We need to see you being reliable before we can even consider you for more hours/full time work/X and Y benefits”

      4. Critical

        She’s only covering other shifts when someone will take hers in exchange. There is no regular shifts PLUS extra going on here.

    2. Koala dreams

      I’m also thinking that, not because she is unreliable or in any way a bad employee, but because the job as described sounds designed for a person within a specific phase in life. For a high school or university student (who goes to school during weekdays) such a job might be great, but for a recent graduate who needs a full time job to be able to pay for student loans it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

      1. Slartibartfast

        It’s still something you should be doing in a reliable fashion while looking for full time work though. Some income is better than no income, and it would be easy to work in interviews around this schedule. I think that this is probably medical office staff trying to transition to clinical staff. But if you don’t want to work nights and weekends, clinical medicine is probably not for you.

  8. Antilles

    Ugh, I feel bad for #3’s situation. People trying to push MLM are horrible at accepting that “no” actually means “no” and it sucks in situations (like these) where you still do want the preserve the relationship.
    I’d honestly just roll with what she’s already said “I’ll get back to you if I find there’s any interest” – except that you intentionally don’t get back to her until she brings it up, then you just double-down on nope, nobody was interested, good luck but all of my friends and family said no.

    1. Goya de la Mancha

      My fave excuse is “oh I already have a rep, sorry! but if I ever need anything I will let you know.”

      So far this seems to be the path of least resistance for me and MLM-ers. Except for LulaRoe…that one was REALLY hard to avoid since they all had “different stock”.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        My RBF really helps with the “oh, no thanks.” I generally don’t get questioned after that. And if I do, I usually respond with “it’s just not for me, thanks.”

        (I tried the “oh already have a rep” thing before, and just got hounded on who it was and how much better that person was than whoever I have, yadda yadda, so I don’t like to give that opening any more.)

        1. pamela voorhees

          I would merge both of yours for a “no thanks, but I’ll let you know if I’m ever interested!” That way you’re not going to get trapped in either “You’ll like me as a supplier better” or generic “but whhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?” whining that it can feel rude to ignore (especially since this is someone who does you favors, and that you want to stay on good terms with!)

        2. Artemesia

          After a few excruciating ‘parties’ I learned decades ago to just say ‘oh I don’t do sales parties.’ Period. No explanation. I don’t lend my car either — not something I would discuss. Same with MLM sales parties.

  9. Dan

    Collectively, #1 (the person being asked about, not the OP) is a bit out of touch. But, breaking out the leave/attendance issues from everything else…

    I think the leave part is tricky. When a full time employee has paid leave, the implication is that you can take all of your paid leave without raising eyebrows (I know it doesn’t work like that everywhere, but bear with me) but going beyond that can be done but will be noticed. (There is such a thing as unpaid leave.)

    The thing with jobs that don’t have a designated leave allotment is that there’s no “bright line” with regard to how much time can be taken off. People working part time shift work with no benefits by definition are *not* making that employment the #1 thing in their life. The money is probably secondary to other things they have going on in their life.

    What caught my eye was the shift trade/shift coverage issue. I worked shift work for a few years across a couple of different jobs, and for the most part, management didn’t care who covered shifts as long as they were covered. One job actually had us sign a “shift trade/shift coverage” form so that there was no finger pointing about missed shifts. Sure, I can see how overtime can be an issue with these kinds of things, but by and large, covered shifts are covered shifts.

    With regard to the person covering others’ shifts (or not)… at my jobs, if you pissed people off and didn’t have friends, it became a bit harder to get your shifts covered. So it’s a two-way street. If you didn’t cover others shifts when they needed it, they wouldn’t cover yours. It worked itself out in the end.

    On the whole, though, I think OP would serve herself well if department-wide coverage policies were established. E.g., shift trades are cool, you can be out as much as you want if you can find coverage, and/or employees with no leave can be out X shifts per year without having to find coverage.

    1. AccidentalGardener

      I was thinking along similar lines. I’ve worked a couple of PT jobs where if a PT person requested a time off using accrued PTO and it was denied, they could swap shifts for coverage as long as it was in the same pay period e.g I’ll take your Tuesday from 8a-2p if you take my Sunday from 5p -11p . They could also skip the PTO request and just do the swap. It gave ppl flexibility and avoided confusion.

    2. designbot

      Right, which is why I think it would also be helpful for the OP to guide the employee a little bit by layout out for her that hey, full time employees get this much leave. This is how many days you take off per month. At this rate as a full time employee you would burn through all of your allotted leave in X months, and that’s been a big barrier to convincing people to hire you full time. That’s going to be something you she encounters at any full-time job, and it would be a service to help her understand it now.

      1. fhqwhgads

        Or even to just say to her, hey this job is different than some other part time jobs you may have had before. Some other companies may have an “as long as someone covers” policy, but we specifically hired you to work weekends and if that frequently doesn’t work for you, this isn’t the right job for you. She might genuinely not understand that she’s missing the boat.

  10. Not Today Satan

    #1 seems like a problem that could be solved by giving part-time workers PTO, accrued by hours worked. She sounds not great, but it’s hard to sympathize with an employer that doesn’t give PTO.

    1. Dan

      Yeah, and FTR, I’ve worked part time jobs that offered paid leave. So “part time” isn’t really an excuse for that.

    2. SarahKay

      Granted, I’m in the UK, so part-time workers have far more rights, but surely it’s not unreasonable to pro-rata leave allowances for part-timers?
      When I worked retail 15 years ago, all staff got four weeks’ leave – so for full time staff that meant 20 days, for Sunday staff that meant 4 days. Sorry, UK, so greater leave allowances as a rule, but presumably the principle is sound even for lower amounts of PTO?

      1. fposte

        I think most places that provide part-time workers with PTO in the U.S. do it that way.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        For a state with mandated sick time, it’s calculated by the hour. It breaks down to 1 hour for every 40 hours worked, so 20 hours would get 30 minutes a week.

        1. Jadelyn

          Some of the paid sick leave states also allow employers to front-load PTO at calendar year or work anniversary. California has like…4 different possible methods you can use.

          More generally speaking and to SarahKay’s point, not all employers offer pro-rated PTO to part-timers – some do, but it’s not universal at all. Or some offer it to higher-FTE part-timers (20 hrs/wk or more) but not those who only work under 20 hrs/wk. It depends on the employer’s policies, and relatively few places require employers to do anything at all, even for full-time EEs. Most workers are at the mercy of their employer when it comes to this stuff.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Oh yeah, we can front load it too but that is only if your PTO standards match or exceed the state standards. Which is why we opted to stop front loading, it’s too dicey but we’re production and our hours can vary drastically at times. So I was worried we’d run into an OT situation that would get us to a point where people weren’t getting all the applicable accrued time.

            But yeah, in my experience outside the law requiring it, part time work rarely has benefits, that’s part of the reason places use part time workers, why it’s cheaper for them over all.

    3. fposte

      I agree that it would be better for part-time employees (for all employees, really) to have PTO, but I don’t know that it would solve the OP’s situation: this is somebody who’s already fine with taking unpaid leave, so I doubt she’d take less leave if it were paid.

      1. Not Today Satan

        Everywhere I’ve worked with paid leave (including the part time jobs) had a rule where if you run out of PTO, you can request unpaid leave, but that basically it’d be a rare exception and the employer could say no. So I think it’d be better to have clear expectations set up like that than this loosey goosey non-policy.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          But there’s a difference between offering PTO & having a policy, which is what fposte is pointing out. Simply offering PTO isn’t going to change things – it’s having a clearly laid out policy for time off.

          1. Not Today Satan

            They could, but it would be cruel. A few days PTO would strike a better balance.

            1. fposte

              It’s actually pretty common for places to have expectations about how many shifts you can miss, whether you get PTO for them or not. So while I would be in favor for everybody to get PTO, I think it’s perfectly reasonable for the OP to have a stated expectation of how many shifts you can skip and stay in good standing–in fact, it’s a lot better to have that expectation clearly stated.

              1. Environmental Compliance

                Yeah….when I was part time, I don’t think I ever had a job where it wasn’t clearly stated that xx times of unexcused absences meant you had a write up or other disciplinary action. And for most, I didn’t get PTO. Usually this would be part of a handbook & stated directly in orientation. IIRC, most of them also differentiated between shifts you got someone to cover for you vs. shifts you just called out on. I really don’t think it’s out of line to expect someone to work the shifts they were hired for on a reliable basis, but you should 100% make it obvious what those expectations are.

      2. Environmental Compliance

        Yeah, I’m not sure offering money for leave would *decrease* the amount of leave being requested.

        (Also agreeing that part time employees should have PTO just like full time, just pro-rated as appropriate, but I agree with fposte that it’s really not a fix in this situation.)

    4. EPLawyer

      Why would this solve it? She was hired to work weekends. She wants Sundays off. PTO is not going to make her come in and work her shifts. It will just give her more reason to not come in. After all if she doesn’t mind not getting paid if she is not working, she is going to LOVE getting paid and not working.

      This person is not willing to do the job they were hired to do. They may think working weekends suck. But you know what, that’s the job. You don’t get the good hours until you prove yourself reliable. I’m with the person up above who said its time to transition this person out, not try to get her to be more reliable. The OP has a job too, making sure shifts are covered by the people hired to do their jobs. It just makes her job harder to expect her to be accomodating to someone who has not realized employment is a two way street.

  11. Ginger

    So she emails basically saying she’s taking half of the month off and in the same breath, wants a raise? Someone is clearly out of touch…

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I scoff more about the fact that she didnt’ just ask for a raise, despite needing to call off 1/3 of her scheduled shifts in a month but her reason is “I have a degree now”. In a field unrelated to her job. Good try…go get a job that degree pertains to and get paid more.

      1. fposte

        I don’t think it’s necessarily unrelated, just not required for the job qualifications; I’m thinking this is like an LPN who finished her associate’s or bachelor’s, perhaps with her eye on becoming an RN.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          That could be the case but even then, if you’re an LPN and finish your RN, you don’t say “Hey give me a raise because I have RN credentials now!”. You need to then be put into an RN position to get the pay increase that comes with it.

          The budgets wouldn’t work out well if you just hired RN’s for LPN spots at a higher rate because of their license status. You’d just get another LPN in there and cut costs that way.

      2. just a random teacher

        To be fair, there are a few fields were additional related degrees/coursework completed come with automatic pay bumps. In my state, k-12 public teaching jobs are like this. There’s a big chart with years of experience down the side and number of grad credits across the top, and your salary is where your row and column meet up. If you want a raise, you generally take more grad classes to advance to a new column since it’s easier than building a time machine to get to a new row.

        However, it sounds like this particular person isn’t in one of those jobs.

  12. Lx in Canada

    Am I the only one who saw the title to this post and immediately hustled to make sure their manager wasn’t talking about them…? I earn 1.25 days of sick leave per month and I call out about that much on average per month due to migraines (sometimes I go in late, sometimes I miss the whole day; it really all depends!). Always worried it’s too much, but my boss is aware of my migraine problem so hopefully she keeps giving me leeway! (This spring has literally been THE. WORST for migraines. Can the weather quit being bipolar already?!)

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      It depends on the job, honestly! [And solidarity fist bump on your issues with this weather, me too thankfully I’m not prone to migraine but it’s still unpleasant to put it nicely].

      Shift work means that someone has to be in that spot, patients don’t take a day off [since this employee is in healthcare, that’s why it’s huge]. Or if it’s a customer facing job, it could mean that phones aren’t being picked up and taken care if there’s nothing there to slide into that all-day kind of position in some businesses.

      However if you’re in a department/office that works at a different pace, a day or two a month is really nothing.

      I can miss a day just about any day, barring it’s not a payroll processing day [then in an emergency we have a backup but given the nature of the duty, we try never to go that route if it can be avoided]. I have easily rearranged my schedule because of family emergencies, the weather or other things that come up. However our production workers really put us in a bind and it’s a big issue if they’re constantly calling off because things don’t get done, there may or may not be enough hands on deck!

      If your boss isn’t worried about it, then try to take them for their word. But it’s stressful regardless, I know that’s easier said than done! But I would just keep checking in with the boss so they know that you’re aware that it’s a thing and that you appreciate their ability and willingness to not make a problem out of it.

    2. Jadelyn

      If you’re in the US and your employer is a covered one under FMLA, you might be eligible for intermittent FMLA leave. I’ve taken that in the past when my migraines were less in-control than they are now. It doesn’t pay, but it offers job protection to keep your boss from holding those absences against you.

      (Also adding my voice in weather-hating solidarity. My sinuses have been making me miserable the last couple months. Pick a season and stick with it, will you?)

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Y’all have no idea how much better it makes me feel that this weather pattern stuff is screwing with other people’s sinuses/heads because it’s been giving me massive panic attacks this last 6 weeks just not being “well”. The doctor was like “Yeah it’s a virus, it’s fine, lots of people are having this issue.” but it’s like “Are you placating me…I don’t know right now cuz braaaaaaaain braaaaaaaaain is misfiring all the time, I think maybe I’m dying and it’s actually a deep rooted neurological issue brewing.” smh.

  13. AnonyNurse

    So for #1 (which is old, I know): they want a person working in healthcare, with a degree (whether “required” or not), to work EVERY weekend evening. The shifts are apparently short, since they add up to < 20 hours/week. So let’s guess 6pm-midnight, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. You offer no PTO. No benefits. And just want her to keep coming for what are the 3 worst shifts, while having to find her own coverage and covering for full timers who presumably get paid time off. While she was a student, these may have been the only shifts she could work. And now that she’s finished school, she would like to not work every.single.weekend.evening. And you won’t interview her for a full time position.

    My question for her would be why does she still work for you. If you want a regular health care employee, treat her like one (FT hours, benefits, rotating weekends, shift differential). You are instead treating her like a PRN employee with a set schedule (???), and she’s acting like PRNs do. This is not the way scheduling works in good healthcare systems.

    1. Washi

      But that’s the schedule she was hired for, and if she wasn’t very reliable, why should they offer her a FT position?

      When I worked in hospice, we had nurses and social workers who just worked weekends and were hired specifically for that. It would have been a huge problem if they had started calling out half their shifts, because the whole point was to hire someone who wanted to work weekends and not have to regularly get the weekday folks to come in.

      Basically, you have to do a good job at what you were originally hired for in order to justify asking for more.

    2. Temperance

      She’s shown herself to be unreliable, though, which is why they didn’t interview her for the FT job. That makes sense to me. They want someone who they know will be there.

    3. Environmental Compliance

      Not saying that it’s not crappy to not have PTO as a part time staff member…. but I don’t see why they’d be obligated to interview her for a full time position with a history of calling out on a level higher than others in the same position. Also not disagreeing that it *does* suck to have to work every weekend, but that was part of the job from the start. If you can’t show up reliably to what you agreed to work, why would your employer be obligated to move you into a position that you would prefer more?

      1. Seifer

        Yeah, this is what’s getting me about the comments on this question. She agreed to the terms and conditions when she started and has demonstrated that she is unreliable at meeting them. Most businesses aren’t in the habit of rewarding people for failure to comply with a basic function of their jobs. We can talk about whether it’s terrible that she doesn’t get benefits or PTO (it is indeed terrible) but that’s not the point.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          I would feel a lot, lot more for this person if the terms & conditions had *changed* to be weekends only, or if she was promised something (full time?) based on getting a degree. But that doesn’t sound to be the case.

          It comes down to you were hired to do (xyz), you have shown you cannot reliably do (xyz), and now you’re asking to be moved up into (abc) even though you have not been able to do (xyz). It doesn’t matter that you’ve gotten a degree recently, or that (xyz) isn’t your favorite. It doesn’t necessarily matter what (xyz) is – this could be coordinating events, or making flyers, or babysitting toddlers…. if you forget to make the flyers, I’m not going to move you into a business card maker role just because you like it more. How would that make you remember to make the business cards any more than remembering to make the flyers?

        2. Falling Diphthong

          Most businesses aren’t in the habit of rewarding people for failure to comply with a basic function of their jobs.

          Well, there was the nonprofit that scolded the guy for faking membership numbers and then promoted him, at which point he promptly faked more membership numbers.

    4. Ori

      I have to agree. This reads like a manager who’s accustomed to treating part-timers like second-class citizens, and is appalled that this person isn’t kissing-their-feet grateful that she gets to work there. I get that LW1 may not have any control over how benefits work at their workplace, but blaming this on the employee is short-sighted. You get what you pay for, and if you refuse to give people benefits, you gotta count on getting the less-than-committed employees in return — because the hyper-competent, driven people are probably going to find a job that does treat them the way they deserve.

      1. Samwise

        I don’t get that attitude from the OP’s letter. I read it as, OP is frustrated that an employee does not want to actually work the hours that she agreed to work. If the employee doesn’t like the conditions of the job, then she doesn’t have to work there. And the employee does need to understand that if she doesn’t follow through on the conditions of the job, she’s unlikely to get a better job at that employer.

        “You get what you pay for, and if you refuse to give people benefits, you gotta count on getting the less-than-committed employees in return ” — very true, but the employee wants to work there fulltime (= more hours, benefits, etc); if she’s less-than-committed now, OP is quite reasonable in not wanting to offer something better.

        Of course, the OP can just say, No, we can’t let you off most of the month of July, because we need someone to cover those weekends. The employee can do with that what she will.

      2. Environmental Compliance

        The “getting what you pay for” concept goes both ways, though. Yes, you probably aren’t going to get passionate, really, really committed employees 100% of the time in a position that is part time with weekend shifts…but you aren’t going to be able to make a strong case that you can handle a full time position with better shifts if you aren’t reliable at your part time shifts. It’s like asking for more projects to manage when you can’t manage what you already have just because you like those other projects more.

      3. Kathleen_A

        I don’t think it’s either fair or kind to imply that the OP is a manager who treats “part-timers like second class citizens” and wants people to “kiss their feet.” And we’re supposed to be both fair and kind here when replying to OPs.

        Commenting rules: https://www.askamanager.org/how-to-comment

      4. Anonymeece

        I didn’t get that impression from OP’s letter at all, and quite frankly, that’s not even necessarily true.

        My team is almost entirely P/Ters with degrees, because it is a requirement of the job. There is no PTO (which is common throughout my state – I’ve never even heard of P/Ters getting PTO) and we are open 6 days a week, and during evenings during the week. While I understand that many are looking and will be moving on to a better job soon, they still manage to show up and do a good job when they are here. On top of that, the person agreed to work those shifts.

        There are some people out there who do prefer working evenings/weekends (I specifically requested those when I was P/T), so it’s not unreasonable to assume that someone who accepts a job asking for those either prefers them or is willing to take them until she can arrange for something better. And on top of that, again, the person agreed to those requirements. The OP presumably didn’t strong-arm the person into accepting.

        And it is not unreasonable to hold people to the requirements of the job, regardless. Sure, there will be high turnover if the requirements are ridiculous, but I don’t think in this case the requirements are ridiculous or out of line, and for another, it’s not like the person can throw his/her hands up and say, “Welp, that’s just the way it is! I realize my business is failing because no one shows up, but I can’t talk to the person about it!”. If it really is ridiculous, OP won’t be able to find another person for the job and OP can re-evaluate then, if, in fact, she has any control over that, which OP very well might not. If it’s not, then OP may lose one employee but will find another who fits better.

    5. sunny-dee

      Actually, yeah, sometimes good healthcare systems are going to schedule people to work weekends and nights because (believe it or not) they need someone who will work weekends and nights.

      1. Psyche

        It is also healthier to consistently work nights than to switch back and forth between days and nights. And a weekend job is perfect for people in school. It isn’t like consistently working those shifts is universally terrible, you just need to actually want that shift. It sounds like they are trying to ensure that by hiring explicitly for that shift instead of rotating it.

        1. fposte

          Yes, there are definitely people who *want* to work this kind of arrangement. It’s not just a consolation prize for failed full-timers.

          1. Environmental Compliance

            *raises hand*

            Weekend & evening work shifts are exactly how I got through college. It was a great set up for me. Did it suck when I was scheduled to work and missed events with friends? Yup. But the required shifts were clearly delineated when I started and that’s what I agreed to work, so that’s what I worked. Did I work it out occasionally to take a Saturday off & traded with someone? Heck yes. But not every weekend shift in one month.

            And then when I finished my degree and was able to do day shifts, I was moved unanimously into a full time day position, because I had demonstrated reliability & commitment.

          2. Myrin

            Exactly. Between my two part-time jobs, I work every weekend, every holiday, and every Wednesday. I originally started the Sunday+holidays gig because it was bound to by definition never interfere with my uni commitments but now that I’ve added the second job and been doing both for years, I can honestly say that I really like it and will probably have somewhat of a hard time going back to a more traditional schedule in a couple of years.

          3. Nerdling

            Seriously. That was how I arranged my schedule working through college, save for that really awful summer where I had two part-time jobs and virtually zero time off (I think I worked 14 straight days between the two at one point). Working weekend and evening shifts meant I could pay for my cell phone and rent without having to worry about what time I had classes scheduled. Did it suck not getting to go to all the same parties as my friends? Sometimes. But parties don’t put food on the table or minutes on the phone (now I feel old), whereas jobs do.

            1. Probably actually a hobbit

              I’m in healthcare and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve worked 14 straight days, many times even 19 straight without a day off.

        2. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy

          Also perfect for people who already have a full time job, with benefits. If you need more money, but don’t need insurance, since you already have it, you look for a weekend or evening job. In which case, those shifts aren’t the worst shifts, they are the shifts you have available.

    6. Myrin

      I mean, if you apply for and get hired to do the three worst shifts, it’s not unreasonable for your employer to want you to keep coming for those shifts.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I get the point that you’re often going to get more capable employees for better compensated jobs, but this is almost certainly not the OP’s only weekend part-timer, and her behavior stands out unfavorably among her peers; it may well be that the OP could get somebody more reliable than this in the position.

        But I also hope the OP had a heart to heart with her about how to get where she’s going, because the employee sounds like she had high hopes and some capacity for growth, given her getting her degree, but a helping of naïveté that was going to stand in her way.

        1. Falling Diphthong

          Yes, I can definitely see someone who doesn’t have a good sense of workplace norms, and thinks that they are following the rules to a better life (Get a degree! If you want something, ask–otherwise how will people know what you want?) with no sense of nuance or varying contexts to it. They might be able to learn, if someone they respect takes the trouble to lay it out for them. (Whether OP could be this person I don’t know.)

    7. Goya de la Mancha

      Well since the email with the raise included asking for another auxiliary staff member’s email address, I would guess that she’s not the only one working grunt on the staff roster.

    8. Psyche

      Now that she has a degree and is no longer in school, if she no longer wants to work weekends she should quit. The job is explicitly to cover weekends and doesn’t require her degree. Just not showing up is the worst way possible to handle it.

      1. paperpusher

        Yes, it sounds simply like an arrangement that’s no longer mutually beneficial.

        1. Environmental Compliance

          Yes – and unfortunately the employee isn’t handling it incredibly professionally. It would be a kindness to her to have a frank talk about expectations & how this impacts her professional reputation & chances at promotions.

          1. fposte

            Yes, totally agree. I can totally understand somebody hoping that this part-time job would be a foot in the door, and I can understand not wanting to fold your life around a part-time job commitment. But she’s not taking the right road here, and I don’t think she realizes that.

            1. Falling Diphthong

              I am very much picturing someone who was told “If you get your degree, then you will earn more money” and similar broadly true advice, that is not applicable uniformly to all situations.

    9. The Man, Becky Lynch

      This is typical for a schedule in healthcare in terms of long term care facilities.

      If she doens’t want to work for them, with that schedule, without benefits then she shouldn’t work there. This is a two way street. She took a cruddy job, with a cruddy schedule and now it’s time to do it or leave, it’s not hard.

      I think the manager just needs to replace her honestly. It’s hard to find part time staff, anywhere, it’s dealt with.

    10. Madeleine Matilda

      The OP said that they didn’t consider her for the job because of her record of excessive absences. OP and the health care company can certain use reliability as a criteria for hiring, Just because the employee earned her degree doesn’t automatically entitle her to a full-time job if she hasn’t shown her employer the skills or attributes they want in full time employees.

    11. Mr. Shark

      Right. She was hired to work those shifts, and she accepted the employment knowing she had to work those shifts. If suddenly she doesn’t want to, or wants basically a month off, then she is no longer doing the job she was hired for.

    12. Liza

      Yes, this strikes me as somebody who accepted the role because it was practical at the time, or because they needed the work and thought they could handle the rotten schedule, and then suddenly found they had no life. I understand her reliability is an issue, but she is working all the rotten shifts, and her attempts to move up to a more sensible schedule have been blasted by this attendance issue. That sounds like a vicious cycle.

      Also, you have a point regarding PTO. Without pro rata PTO there’s really no guideline for how many days off is sensible, so she’s probably just putting in for leave whenever she has plans. If this method is so problematic, why not put a little more structure in place around leave? Does a manager have to approve unpaid leave? Or are part timers just left to their own devices to find cover? If it’s the latter, it sounds like she’s playing by the rules and colleagues are willing to cover. If it’s the former, why is her leave being approved if management aren’t ok with it? There seems to me to be a systemic issue at work here rather than a rogue employee breaking the rules.

      I work similar hours as this person, and I get pro rata paid leave amounting to 17 days a year. And you can bet the majority of the days I take are the weekends!

      1. gwal

        This is similar to my thinking–if they’re unpaid days off and someone is covering the shift, maybe she doesn’t see them as days off as much as days she doesn’t work. The boss and the employee are not on the same page.

    13. fhqwhgads

      If she were hired for a variable schedule, but ended up always assigned the “worst shifts” I’d see your point, but it sounds like she was explicitly hired to work Fri-Sun, so she knew what she was getting into. Or she should’ve. It sounds like maybe she thought there was flexibility which is why she keeps trying to swap, when the employer didn’t intend for there to be flexibility. So all would benefit from being very explicit that the job she was hired for is Fri-Sun and if she’s not interested in that she’s not interested in this job. Maybe OP wasn’t as clear about this from the start as the letter makes it sound. Maybe the employee has good reason to be confused. But if it’s been stated plainly that this is a weekend job, she’s not getting the crap end of the stick here. She signed up for what she signed up for.

  14. Ali G

    #1 – I bet she has another part time gig that pays her more and she calls out on you when she can get shifts with that job. This is very common in healthcare fields when workers are paid hourly.

    1. LawLady

      Yeah, this is something I wish Alison would have addressed. If she’s missing work because of general unreliability or because she’s committed to lots of non-work things, that’s one thing. But if she’s missing work because she’s picking up shifts at another job, I can’t blame her. It’s possible that this is a dedicated employee who, if given full-time hours, would be totally reliable. But when you do shift work and juggle two jobs (which I’ve done), you end up looking flaky sometimes, because the two schedules just don’t mesh well.

  15. Kate the Great

    If the degree had been required for her position, she wouldn’t have gotten the job without it.

    1. Environmental Compliance

      That’s not entirely true – I’ve worked in places before that will hire on contingency of you finishing your (required) degree. However, in that case there was generally a contract of some sort signed – there’s a timeline in which to finish, and everyone has agreed upon the timeline, any add’l benefits, etc.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Some positions in healthcare specifically will hire you as a role with the understanding that you’re going to get certified/licensed. Since not all the work requires it and it can work towards school credit to have the job in place, if that makes sense?

      But the thing here is that she doesn’t have a job that requires a degree.

      She most likely took a part time gig with weekends so she could go to school for say business. And then just got her degree and is all “I have a business degree, give me a raise.” when the response is ‘this role doens’t require that degree or any degree, so no.”

    1. fposte

      Sometimes, but mostly not; most letters in general don’t get updates, and a lot of these are from the earlier days before they happened at all. If the algorithm is in a good mood, they’ll be linked in the “You may also like” list; otherwise you can use the search box to see if there’s an update.

  16. Alfonzo Mango

    1. I am so confused with this one. Why doesn’t she ask to get her shifts schedule? Why does she bother working there?

    Also, shouldn’t she get a raise if she finally has the qualifications needed for the role? Was she hired on without them on some sort of deal where once she got the degree, she would get the raise? That seems fine to me- but I agree she needs to figure out her schedule.

    1. paperpusher

      I suspect it’s more like she was hired to work a job that doesn’t require those qualifications and she’s now technically overqualified for the job, but there are also jobs in the department that she would now be qualified for. Maybe an LPN or PSW who now has a nursing degree?

    2. Myrin

      Also, shouldn’t she get a raise if she finally has the qualifications needed for the role?
      That’s explicitly not the case, though. OP writes “since she now has her degree (which is not required for her position)”.

  17. nnn

    For #3, if you’re struggling with scripting/framing, it might be useful to approach it the way you would if she offered you a part-time job in a new business she’s starting and you aren’t in the market for a part-time job.

    Something like “Sorry, my plate is already full and my obligations don’t allow me to help out with your business.”

    1. fposte

      I think it’s pretty reasonable in context, though–it’s talking about who the target audience is for these MLMs.

    2. That Girl From Quinn's House

      Yes, it makes sense. They target the gullible and the desperate, and then use a bunch of heavily gendered language to take advantage of the fact that many women are underemployed and financially strained as a direct result of caring for small children.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I agree that I’m not a fan of the phrasing because it seems like the step up from “dumb” or something, with the “low-information”, the way we have trouble trying to find a way to talk about the develop mentally delayed.

      “Vulnerable” is a better word to use. It goes for everyone, not just women. Young men get suckered into this kind of nonsense too because they’re desperate. Knives, timeshares, Amway, etc.

    4. Kal

      Would “gullible” or “naive” be better?

      I don’t have kids, but I get the impression that single moms tend to be extremely busy. Not having time to research + not knowing in detail how MLM schemes work (it’s shocking how many people don’t know what Ponzi/pyramid schemes are, and even those who do know may not be able to recognize one in the wild) + desperation = easy target. It really is a lack of information rather than a lack of intelligence that’s the problem. Smart people get conned all the time because being smart does not make you a repository for all knowledge. It may take you less time to learn than others, but you still have to spend time learning. Limited time = limited learning.

      1. Falling Diphthong

        I think “low information” and “naive” are interchangeable in practical terms. (Thinking of someone who didn’t understand what her new beau was going on about re accusing her of wanting to sleep with “Chad” (who’s Chad?) and her friends clued her in to the magic of incel code words.) Naive implies that the situation isn’t overly the person’s fault–they are young or inexperienced–and I could see it being thrown down as a defense, while “low information” would encompass all the reasons for not knowing a lot about some circumstance.

      2. FairPayFullBenefits

        I’m so surprised to hear that many people don’t know what MLMs are. Honestly, I never thought about that before, and took it for granted that most people understand what they are and would recognize the main companies. But, I guess that’s how they suck people in!

  18. lnelson in Tysons

    @#1
    I remember the days of working part time and taking time off. Depends on where you are are. Profession, not just location.
    As a cashier at a supermarket, there was a lot of shift trading. But sometimes people weren’t just there. I can’t answer for the full-timers. I do remember getting upset when I had to be out for a funeral which was out of town and my supervisor told me to get my priorities straight.
    Health care is something else. You really do need a certain amount of staff there.
    Also, what did you sign up for. One retail job, as it was a second job for me, I was mainly an evenings and weekend person. And those days got switched around quite a bit. Although I did seem to work every Sunday for awhile. When I wanted time off from that job, I had already gotten the time off approved from my main (full-time) place and pretty much just informed the retail place that I was going. Tickets bought, etc. Don’t think that they were thrilled but accepted it. This was all unpaid. Believe me I was glad when I switched jobs and got something better paying and I could give up the 2nd job.

  19. Karak

    Hahaha. “Our part-time, college-educated worker with no benefits works LITERALLY every weekend. This is a menial job that is likely incredibly mentally and physically taxing but also does not encourage real, intellectual engagement. If she was a full-time student, she gave every free moment to work or school. We refuse to give her a better position or a raise. Mysteriously, she seems unhappy, and desperate for free time. How do I tell her to grind yourself harder for this soulless institution?”

    God I hope she quits and you have to cover her shifts for months on end, you immeasurable tool.

    1. Falling Diphthong

      This is way out of bounds for the site rules. Also, your quotes do not appear in the letter, which rather undercuts them. And healthcare is full of college educated people who… (GASP!!!) work weekends, because hospital patients don’t check out at five pm on Friday. And while we do not know about this particular job, or how engaging the employee finds it, not all jobs are intellectually engaging and yet they still need to be done. Sometimes by college educated people.

      It is completely routine to hire someone to work weekends for things that need weekend coverage. If you can’t meet the expectations of your entry level job, then that organization is unlikely to promote you. If OP had written in that a part-time employee recently got her degree and quit for a better job, no one would consider that surprising. That’s not what the letter is about.

    2. MistOrMister

      I didn’t read the letter like that at all. The employee appears to work 3 days a week and has consistently called out to the point where they basically miss the equivalent of 1 week a month. That is excessive for anyone who doesn’t have some sort of agreement with their boss. The OP is absolutely right not to consider the employee for a full time position if she has a tendency to not show up on a regular basis. That is difficult enough to work with when the person is part time, but a full time position demands more accountability. And how in the world do you justify giving someone a raise when they are out for a quarter of the time they should be working??? And one has to asume the employee knew what schedule she was signed up for when she took the job. The argument that she works every weekend and thus has a right to be unhappy doesn’t hold water if that is what she signed up for!! If she was being scheduled unfairly that would be different, but nothing about this letter makes it seem as if that is the case.

  20. Ben

    Weingarten Rights: one of the reasons I am very grateful to have a union.

    “If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”

  21. A Penguin's Left Shoe

    My question re: #5 is, where does it all stop? I have several people on my team who would barrage me with a never ending stream of questions or arguments/defenses. If I set up a meeting it’s because I cannot do this with you right now (and also likely b/c I needed to reserve a private space to do it) and doing it via email or in the hall is not appropriate. At some point I have to stop the madness and go “we’ll discuss it in the meeting”, right?? Am I way off base?

    1. Mannheim Steamroller

      If you withhold information before the meeting, you give the appearance of being afraid to let your subordinate defend himself (possibly because you have already decided the outcome in advance and don’t want to risk the possibility of his presenting mitigating evidence).

    2. fposte

      You can say that at whatever point you want. Just because people ask questions doesn’t mean you have to answer them.

      Have you coached these staffers about this behavior?

Comments are closed.