talking about your period in a male-dominated office, telling candidates we don’t give raises, and more

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

1. How to talk about my period in a male-dominated office

I’m in my first “real” job after university, working in the male-dominated corporate office of a large-ish family business. My supervisor, his supervisor, and basically everyone I interact with (with the exception of the head of HR) are all men. There are a few women working in our call center, but we’re in different departments and don’t really interact. I haven’t experienced any sexism or seen any red flags that would suggest a sexist culture (apart from the lack of women).

Here is my issue. I get quite intense periods, to the point that I will have to head to the bathroom around every 40 minutes during that time of the month (my doctor is aware of this and there aren’t any health issues, just very annoying genetics). The result of this is that when I have my period, I end up being away from my desk a lot more than I’d like to be, and there are times my supervisor will come over to talk to me and I’m not there. Obviously a couple of bathroom breaks is fine, but I don’t want to look like I’m slacking off or deliberately avoiding work. I’m establishing a reputation as a hard worker — or at least trying to — and I really want to make a good impression. Calling out sick isn’t an option, and — when I’m not in the bathroom! — I can do my work just as well as any other time and have no trouble meeting daily deadlines. Do I need to address how often I’m away from my desk? And if so, how can I go about doing so without feeling incredibly awkward and embarrassed? For reference, I’m a young woman in my early 20s, and the men I work with are mostly in their 40s and 50s.

If your boss knows you as a hard worker and you’re getting your work done well and meeting your deadlines, it’s unlikely that sometimes not seeing you at your desk will make him think you’re a slacker, in the face of all the other evidence that you’re not.

There is a particular breed of bad manager who reacts badly to people not being at their desk whenever said manager goes looking for them, but those are the exception, not the rule. A decent boss who knows you’re getting your work done will figure you’re in the bathroom, getting coffee, meeting with someone, or so forth. It won’t be a big deal.

But if your boss ever does raise it, you can say something like, “I sometimes have a more frequent need for the bathroom” and shouldn’t need to get into details beyond that. Most managers are going to leave it there. If for some reason your manager doesn’t, then at that point there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Like many women, one week a month I will need to visit the bathroom more frequently than the rest of the time” and then staring at him coolly. (There’s also nothing wrong with spelling it out if you want to — “one week a month I will have my period and will be away from my desk more frequently than the rest of the time.” Either version works.)

2. Should I tell job candidates we don’t give raises anymore?

I’m in a serious work quandary, thanks to terrible HR decisions and a disconnected leadership team. I’ve worked at a nonprofit for nearly three years. Recently, they replaced merit increases with capped bonuses. We were at first hopeful that these were being introduced in addition to merit increases, but we found out that they are in fact replacements. I already received the maximum bonus for what felt like a pretty standard year, which means that minus a small cost of living increase, this will be the most money I will be making here, where it is also difficult to get promoted unless you’re replacing a supervisor, and I love mine and don’t want her to leave.

Obviously, I have concerns about this new policy for my own longevity and growth, and I’m trying to work with other staff to address this as a group. In the meantime, I’m concerned about my responsibility to new hires. I would never have thought to ask about this as a candidate. I’m hiring a new junior staff person, who will likely be a young woman given our field, and I want to be up-front about growth potential and the importance of salary history and generally supporting equitable pay and fair compensation for all employees. In that vein, I want to tell them about our policy. However, I’m also really concerned that we will lose top candidates and I desperately need to fill this position. How do I balance equity and transparency with hiring top talent? Can I, given this policy?

It’s a terrible policy, and it’s going to turn off good candidates, who will have other options (like accepting a job that doesn’t freeze their salary at the level they come in at). But I do think you need to be up-front with people about it, since it’s a significant factor in how their compensation will work, and people are actually likely to feel better about it if they know from the start rather than having it sprung on them afterwards.

Will it destroy your ability to fill the position? Probably not. You might lose top candidates, but you’ll probably find decent ones who are willing to take the job — they’ll just plan to only stay a couple of years max, so that they’re not as affected by it as they would be if they were there long-term.

Speaking of which: You shouldn’t stay there long-term either if you and your colleagues aren’t able to get the policy changed. A couple of years at the same salary isn’t a big deal, but after that you risk missing out on too much earning potential — especially if you’re in a state where it’s legal to ask about salary history when you’re looking for your next job.

3. The job I’m doing is different from what I thought I was hired for

I work for a wonderful organization with wonderful coworkers. Everything is great … except the job I do isn’t the job I applied to or want to do. My title is in line with my field but my job is not. There were over a dozen bullet points in my job description, one of which was “plan and coordinate logistics for meetings.” Event planning is not my expertise, so I was wary about taking on that responsibility, but during the interview process, the meeting planning element seemed limited. Now that I’m almost a half-year into the job, I’ve realized that it’s a huge amount of work. Planning for these events takes up the majority of my time, to the point that I have done little to no work in my actual field/what my title implies.

My boss and grandboss think I’m doing great work, and the positive feedback is nice to hear, but it’s not the work that I thought I would be doing. I feel like I was duped into this job, and I’m worried about how to move up in my field with my next job, since I’m not accomplishing anything in my field in this position. How do I talk to my manager about this? The office is a great work environment, and everyone works really hard to be good colleagues and managers. When I mentioned that I wasn’t prepared for the amount of event planning I was expected to do, my boss looked wounded. I don’t want to jeopardize the positive work environment, but I do want to get my career back on track.

Address it with your boss more directly. Sit down with her and say something like this: “I hoped to talk about the work allocation in my role. When I was being hired, event planning was one of more than a dozen responsibilities listed for the job. It isn’t my area of expertise, but I was happy to help out with it since the rest of the job focused on my areas of interest, like X and Y. But meeting planning has turned out to take up the majority of my time (if you can quantify this, like 80%, that’s even better) and I have little time to do the work I was most excited about. X and Y are really what I want to spend my time on professionally, so I’m hoping to get a sense from you of whether there’s any way to shift the role to more of what we talked about originally.”

If you hear that she’s sorry for any misunderstanding but this is the job, then you’ll have to decide if you still want it, knowing this isn’t likely to change. You can try saying something like, “I really love working here — the organization and the people are both great. Is there any possibility of me being able to carve out more room for X and Y so that I’m not getting too far afield from my long-term goals?” And who knows, maybe she’ll work with you on that! But if not, don’t be afraid to decide to move on — a positive work environment is great, but you need to be building a career in the areas you actually want to work in.

4. Should I make a job application PDF into a fillable form?

This question came up for me a few months ago when I was in the throes of a job search and now it has happened to my boyfriend who is looking. A potential employer sends a job application in PDF, but it’s not a fillable form.

If the applicant uses their knowledge of Adobe to make the form fillable, so it can be typed directly onto does that:
• Show initiative and ingenuity?
• Illustrate lack of ability to follow instructions?
• Make the potential employer think the applicants handwriting is bad and therefore is a ding on the applicant?
• Some other angle that you will elaborate on?

None of the above! They’re not thinking that deeply about it. At most it would show a bit of skill with Adobe (and it’s possible it could impress someone who didn’t realize that could be done), but it’s more likely not to make much of an impression either way.

5. Giving notice right before I leave for vacation

I have been job hunting for a long time now and fortunately I have a few interviews lined up. One of these interviews is a third round interview with my top choice and I am cautiously optimistic that I will receive an offer. Here’s the problem: I have 2.5 weeks of vacation booked for a month from now and I fear that my notice period may end up overlapping with my vacation time. This vacation time was approved a long time ago by management and it is a big trip to Europe that I have been planning for months. If I’m lucky enough to get an offer, can I give notice and then still go on my vacation if the dates overlap? Or would professional courtesy dictate that I return from vacation and work an additional two weeks?

So … this depends on your employer. It’s not uncommon to see rules against taking any vacation time during your notice period. Typically the reason for the notice period is for you to wrap up work and transition it to whoever will be covering it before your replacement is hired, so having you gone for a big chunk of it would be a problem. Some employers will work with you on this (especially if the trip will only overlap with your notice period for a few days) and others will consider it a big deal to give notice and then promptly disappear for the rest of your time there.

The best way to approach it is to acknowledge that the timing sucks. If the timing does end up with you needing to give notice very close to your trip, say something like this: “Obviously the timing here is terrible, since I have a long-planned trip to Europe planned for (dates). If this were a different trip, I’d offer to cancel it, but would lose a ton of money if I did it with this one. Ideally I’d love for my last day to be (date) so that I can start the new job right after that. I realize that’s not great from your end, but is there any way to make that work?”

If they say they really need you there to transition your work, so be it — but you can ask, and asking might also lead to a compromise (like that after your trip, you only return for one week rather than two, or so forth).

{ 389 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Please resist the temptation to give letter writer #1 medical advice or even product advice, which she’s not asking for. (I’ve removed some comments along those lines.) Thank you.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      OP says she’s already talked to her doctor. Forum policy is to trust that letter writers know their own situation better than we can from one letter.

      1. Wren*

        yes, but so many physicians are completely ignorant about what is really normal when it comes to menstruation. For example, many think menstrual pain is normal and will minimize and dismiss it, yet endometriosis is estimated to affect 1 in 10 menstruating people and sufferers usually go several years before being diagnosed even though it’s hardly a zebra.

        I agree we don’t want to over-run the comments with medical/product advice, but the idea that nothing is wrong with needing to deal with ones period every 40 minutes deserves another look.

        1. Environmental Compliance*

          *waves hand* Hi, I have endometriosis, had ridiculously painful & heavy periods, and it took 11 years & several doctors to get a diagnosis. Shout-out to the doctor who told me it was all in my head!

          Anyway – I don’t want to derail too badly. I do agree from a personal bias that maybe a second opinion would be helpful for the OP. But, from also past experience….you don’t need to make a Big Deal about it, but just be matter-of-fact. It’s worked well for me before. For those that don’t get it after 2-3 of the same explanation, I have found a simple & still matter of fact “yes, I know, my uterus just hates me, it happens” tends to shut up the conversation.

        2. Phoenix Programmer*

          Yes exactly, a pad an hour was the return to ER level after my miscarriage.

          So many doctors are just like – I dunno, you are a woman, so it’s probably fine.

          Planned Parenthood was the only provider who was able to help my MIL with her menopausal endometriosis. Everyone else was just like – well menopause is weird so….

        3. Observer*

          Exactly this.

          I saw one study that indicated that it takes women 4 years longer to get a diagnosis for the same conditions that men get diagnosed. And there is a recent study that it takes over 2 years and 3 or more different doctors to get a diagnosis of PCOS.

          And that’s only ONE condition that can be implicated in this kind of issue. With other conditions it can be even worse. And, there are plenty of OB/Gyns who don’t get it at all, either.

        4. Goldfinch*

          Meh. Some people are just like that. I spent 16 years seeing eight different doctors, had every test under the sun and two labroscopies, and all of them ruled out every feasible problem.

        5. AvonLady Barksdale*

          But if the point is that people aren’t listening to women and dismissing their concerns, the solution is certainly not to dismiss this woman’s (the LW’s) experience. She’s an adult. She has spoken to her physician and, for all we know, she’s exploring treatment options. She doesn’t need us, total Internet strangers, to tell her that She Is Wrong. She also doesn’t need to give us more information than she gave Alison if she would prefer not to do so.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            I personally don’t find it dismissive of the woman to say, hey just cause doc said this, you should know most docs get it wrong/dismiss/minimize. Here is my story.

  2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

    OP#2, I agree with Alison, and I think your underlying hunch that this needs to be disclosed is right. I just wanted to add to the “this policy is not ok and is going to place you and your coworkers in a compounded, economically precarious position” train. Absent a sizeable trust fund or equivalent, the lifetime costs of staying without a policy change are really dire. It may be that your employer has amazing benefits or other aspects of the compensation package that blunt the damage, but I suspect the policy won’t change until your organization realizes it’s going to face a retention problem.

    1. Massmatt*

      It is an absolutely disastrous policy that will soon increase turnover, driving away their best employees especially, and demoralizing the remainder. Unless funding is drying up (another warning sign) it shows incredibly poor judgment. Be honest with job candidates, you don’t want to lure people into someplace this awful under false presences of normalcy.

      1. Artemesia*

        I am still a bit resentful after over 40 years of the people at my first major employer post final degree who lied when I asked the right questions. This was before the internet and so it was harder to know what you needed to know about organizations. The result was the ship turned over — merged with another company and about have the departments were dismissed as redundant. They fired by department to avoid lawsuits and the insiders in top management made sure they were assigned to the right departments — this meant before the news came out some people with power shuffled into positions of security and shuffled some more qualified people with less power into departments being cut. I was in one of the departments that got cut. I asked the right questions– they lied. Tell applicants this VERY important fact. And begin a full scale job search yesterday.

    2. Is It Performance Art*

      In addition to a high turnover rate, that type of policy is bad for morale in general, especially if employees didn’t know about the policy until after they accepted the job. If you mention the policy upfront, you’re much more likely to end up hiring someone who is okay with the policy (you may still end up with someone who thought they’d be okay with it but changes their mind over time) and you’re not going to have to worry that the employee feels as if they’ve been had.

    3. SigneL*

      My initial reaction is, this nonprofit is not going to survive. It sounds like a desperate response to severe money problems. I’d start looking.

      1. SigneL*

        I would absolutely disclose this to job candidates. I think this is important information for them to know before they accept an offer.

      2. AVP*

        For whatever reason, this seems to be a trend and not as much of a warning sign as you’d think. A whole slew of my friends who work in different, huge, seriously-not-going-anywhere-high-endowment nonprofits in NYC were all alerted about similar policies in the past year. Seems in these local cases it’s a response to changing min wage and OT laws. [Obviously, they are all looking for new jobs.]

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          I’m confused – seems like changes in minimum wage would force salaries up, not encourage anyone to deliberately leave them stagnant.

          1. boo bot*

            Just a guess, but: even though they’re huge, high-endowment nonprofits, they’re paying a high proportion of their employees minimum wage and/or have a lot of low-paid, salaried employees they rely on to work unpaid overtime, which means that a substantive increase in the minimum wage or tightening of overtime laws doesn’t just increase costs, it wrecks their whole budget.

            So even though the organization as a whole might have the money to continue to give raises, they see a huge rise in labor costs just from meeting the new legal standard, and look to constrain future increases.

          2. vlookup*

            The minimum wage for exempt employees in NYC has increased substantially, so guessing that these employers are giving their exempt employees a raise to that threshold and then freezing their salaries there.

        2. Yikes*

          Or, it’s a trend because the nonprofit sector is flailing across the board, and is the canary in the mine. But I’m just a cynical Xennial, tbf.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        It’s definitely a sign of a nonprofit with cash flow problems or with a volatile funding stream. Regardless of the causes for those problems, they both raise concerns that the organization is operating on a margin so thin that it cannot tolerate or withstand relatively reasonable (and small) increases in its costs.

    4. DCGirl*

      Two jobs ago, I worked for an employer that capped raises when employees reached the top of their pay grade and gave bonuses for the difference. So, my last year there, when I was entitled to a 4% raise based on performance, I got a 1% raise to the top of the pay grade and a one-time check for the difference. Mind you, this was a company whose sole mission was to provide retirement plans to state and local government employees that talked about the benefits of compounding in your 401 plan every freaking minute of the day. HR was genuinely shocked when I cited this issue in my exit interview.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        Would you have received similar bonuses in the future if you’d stayed, or was that a one-time thing?

    5. Smithy*

      Here to cheer on all of this. Nonprofits really just hurt and keep their workforce uneducated by not being more transparent about these factors. My friend’s mother in law, a more experienced arts nonprofit person who was genuinely paid the same salary for ten years. When I replied in shock that she basically was getting a pay cut over the years, my friend responded that “the benefits were really good” and besides she wasn’t hurting because of some family money.

      Really bad actors like this also allow averagely behaving nonprofits to say “we pay better than most of our competitors”.

      Lastly – while it may hurt for some top candidates, hiring some B or C qualified staff happy to stay for 2-3 years in that model is far better than being on a cycle of replacing people leaving far sooner. It’s a bad system, OP don’t stay for long – but people take all sorts of “not perfect but fine” jobs for all kinds of reasons. Far better to take that openly than have a cluster of new employees who feel duped.

      1. Harvey 6-3.5*

        For federal govt employees who’ve reached the top of their grade, or are in higher level positions, many have had little or no pay raises for a number of years. Sometimes, it is a choice between a job you like and more money.

        1. Mike S*

          State employees, too. I’m at the top of my pay grade, and the only way I can get a raise is to switch jobs. (We do occasionally do cost of living increases.) The fact that I’m ineligible for a raise is factored into my yearly bonus, though.
          There’s also a big difference between “you’re not getting a raise, because you’re at the maximum salary for your position” and “you’re not getting a raise, because we don’t do them.”

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Agreed. I’m in a similar situation and the only reason it works for me is that I’m already paid at/above market rate for my situation so it’s not significantly affecting my earning potential for the time being.

            However, if I were just starting out and looking at relatively low salaries AND had no shot at a raise at Company X because of policy, I’d keep looking for a better opportunity.

        2. Smithy*

          From what I understand, a big difference with government work is the level of transparency with how pay bands/evaluation/raises work. Also, federal employees have a union to turn to should there be questions regarding how management is treating them. Therefore is someone is at the top of their band after 1 year or 10 – the employee is making an informed choice.

          Putting aside the points around unionizing – loads of nonprofits are not transparent around how their structure of evaluation/cost of living/merit increases/promotions work. While in some types of nonprofits this information is more transparent (possibly hospitals or academia) – for lots this information is not.

          1. Different Name for this*

            I work in a hospital which is owned by a corporation and is technically non-profit. This corporation is like most for-profit corps – they talk about transparency, fair pay, etc. while they keep trying to find ways to pay less and cut costs. Our CEO made headlines for his egregiously high salary.
            Ever since I entered the job market I’ve seen non-profits use their status as an excuse for low pay. At a hospital they have to pay enough to get competent employees, and I think that’s the only reason we’re getting relatively fair salaries.

        3. soon 2be former fed*

          It can take fifteen plus years to attain a step 10 level on the general schedule scale, where most feds are. Few people actually get there since they often get promoted to a higher grade before getting to the top of their current grade. The dollars overlap depending on what step you are, ie., a higher graded GS 13 can be making more than a lower graded GS 14. January cost of living raises apply to all, as do awards and bonuses (for those lucky enough to get them).

          Speaking as a thirty-two year fed.

          1. Harvey 6-3.5*

            But we’ve had a number of recent years without a cost of living raise (and some of us make it to the top of the pay scale faster than 15 years). 0% raises 2011-2013, 1% raises 2014-2017, and 1.4% raises the last two years.

      2. Jadelyn*

        I want to highlight this: “she wasn’t hurting because of some family money.”

        Because I work in a nonprofit, and we tout our internal salary cap (our wage ratio is kept somewhere around 5:1, compared to the average 70:1 in the for-profit world), but every single one of the top executive group has a spouse that makes more than they do or some kind of family support that lets them take the pay cut without feeling much, if any, drop in their standard of living. So, yay we cap executive salaries at 5x the lowest wage workers, how progressive of us…but the execs aren’t relying on their salaries the way our line staff are, which makes it not particularly comparable.

        And I get the sense that this happens not infrequently, in the nonprofit world.

    6. SheLooksFamiliar*

      NPOs hope to hire mission-driven associates, but usually don’t conflate ‘mission-driven’ with ‘willing to work with little reward beyond the mission.’ Sure, some employees may not *need* to work, but their efforts should be acknowledged and rewarded. That’s not unusual nor should it be treated that way. If their current organziation doesn’t appreciate them, well, mission-driven people can usually find another mission that needs and appreciates them.

      OP#2, I’m adding my 2 cents. Please let candidates know what they’re getting themselves into, and they can decide for themselves. No need to over-explain or defend or debate the policy. Just let them know what their compensation structure is, and leave it to them to decide. And document each decline due to this policy for your leadership team. They need to know what their decision is doing to your ability to hire and retain key talent.

    7. Bee Eye Ill*

      I work for a city government and this is mostly our policy. They used to pay a small bonus for every year that you worked, but that was cut off @ 10 years ago. They also used to pay extra for having degrees, but it was also cut off. The signal it sends is that they place no value in education or experience. I’ve got people in a job that have been there for over 10 years who have the same base salary as the guy I hired last year. It’s ridiculous. But yes, it needs to be made clear that growth opportunities are rare. Your boss might get mad at you for telling job candidates that.

    8. Mama Bear*

      A factor in leaving a past job was never getting a raise in 3 years, despite good reviews. The company did provide bonuses, but the other downside of just a bonus is that it is taxed differently than salary. I would have rather had the raise since I ended up taking home only about half the bonus. Because of the circumstances I probably would have taken the job anyway, but I agree that it’s a factor in long-term employment. People will see the job as a stepping stone vs a career investment. I think people need to know the raise/bonus structure upfront, when you are discussing salary.

      1. Goldfinch*

        the other downside of just a bonus is that it is taxed differently than salary. I would have rather had the raise since I ended up taking home only about half the bonus.

        This isn’t true. Bonuses are withheld differently than salary (in aggregate rather than by percentage), but the EOY total is still the same marginal tax rate. You get it back.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes, at least in the US that’s been my experience. I wasn’t in a job with regular bonuses, but my husband was – sometimes they over-withheld, sometimes they under-withheld, so that was unpredictable. Still, in the end, it was all treated as wage income.

        2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

          #2 – Well, in my experience, there have been “no raises”, “no money in the budget for raises” but when push comes to shove (rock star employee leaving for money) there somehow, somewhere – the money is found for a counter-offer.

          And having such a policy only sets the employee up to start looking for his next job. Or causes high turnover, which a management team might actually want, although I have never figured out why they would.

          1. Different Name for this*

            If they feel they’re paying their current people too much and want them to leave so they can hire entry-level people for less, that might be a reason.

    9. Venus*

      If someone is likely to not take the job because of the policy, then I expect they would start looking for another job within the first year of their employment if they were hired. Would the OP rather lose them during the hiring process, or when they decide to leave after a few months of training, which would also require another hiring process? Someone who can’t afford to work for the organization is not a good fit, and should know this before they are hired.

    10. Sara without an H*

      “But…The Mission! Don’t you care about Our Mission??? If you really cared about The Mission, you wouldn’t care if you were paid at all!!!”

      OP#2, yes, you are right, this policy stinks, and I wish you and your co-workers every success in your attempts to push back on it.

      Your question was whether to disclose this policy when interviewing new hires. Personally, I would. The smarter ones will ask the question up front, and you should, of course, answer truthfully. Candidates who are less sophisticated and/or desperate for a job may not ask, but will of course find out within a year and be very, very unhappy. You’ll have to shoulder the blame for that. So I recommend dealing with the issue before hiring.

      If you want to make your mangers especially uncomfortable, use your sweetest voice and ask them for guidance in explaining this policy to interview candidates.

      1. Jadelyn*

        And even if you’re not transparent with your prospective hires, eventually this policy is going to wind up on Glassdoor when some annoyed employee on their way out the door, who feels like they got misled, spills the beans to the world. Better to be transparent upfront.

    11. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I have a hunch that OP#2 works at a place I worked. They had people there for years without raises due to this policy, and they made a point of hiding this information from people until their probationary period was up.

    12. Dust Bunny*

      This is a grade-A BS policy and unless I were absolutely desperate for a job I would get up and walk out of an interview upon being told this. And probably flip you off as I drove away, for wasting my time. And I am not generally a bird-flipping kind of person.

    13. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

      This policy absolutely sucks, and the sudden change would make me question the health of the organization. That said… it’s also not uncommon. I work in higher ed (admin, not faculty) and it’s common knowledge that the only way to get a raise is to bring in an offer from somewhere else. We don’t even get bonuses!

    14. Horatio*

      The job I started a few years ago didn’t tell me there was a multi-year (with no end in sight) raise freeze (including cost of living raises) until AFTER I had already started. It was already an underpaid job and they sort of just threw that out at me during my first week. I felt really lied to.

      There’s also a high turnover rate here. Not saying it’s related, buuuuuut…

  3. Dragoning*

    OP5–my manager just gave notice in the beginning of July and had two weeks of vacation already booked. What he wound up doing was serving one week of notice before the vacation and one week after.

    But he didn’t have a firm start date when he gave notice, and his new job would’ve been in Europe and necessitated a move from the US, so they were understanding about needing a long notice period, obviously.

    Still, I wonder if you could explain this to the new company and have your start date pushed back.

    1. Mama Bear*

      I was thinking this as well. I am privy to the start dates of our new folks and routinely see that they have start dates that are far longer than the traditional 2 weeks. If the new gig can hold on a few extra weeks, maybe you can give your notice, go on the trip (explaining that it was already booked) and then come at the new job fresh. A lot of people take some time off between jobs knowing that their ability to take vacation will be impacted for a while.

      1. Canadian Attorney*

        Yes, try to do this. I think an employer will be much more willing to work with you if you can give longer notice that isn’t just “I’m quitting in two weeks and BTW will be spending those two weeks in Europe” because that means you aren’t taking the time to properly transition. This may be industry-specific, but I’ve changed jobs twice and each time I’ve ended up starting 4-5 weeks after the offer, even though the employer always tried the “can you start in two weeks” approach at first.

  4. Thankful for AAM*

    OP 4, I think they will not realize their form is not fillable and will wonder why others did it in pen and scanned. They wont even know you “fixed” it

    1. JSPA*

      I’d use the “annotate” function in preview, which takes no skill or coding at all. In fact, given how fiddly / buggy fillable forms can be, I’ll sometimes print them off to a “dead” PDF, and then type with annotate, before printing again to a non-modifiable form for submission, to ensure WYSIWYG. Is this…wrong???

      1. I coulda been a lawyer*

        I hope this still works for you. I can now annotate forms till the cows come home, but the annotations won’t print. And sometimes people send me annotated PDFs, and their annotations won’t print either.

        1. M. Albertine*

          In the print screen on the right hand side, there is a box “Comments & Forms”. Immediately under that, there is a drop down box. Make sure “Document and Mark ups” is selected. If it is only “Document” your annotations won’t print.

      2. Door Guy*

        Not for an application but for trying to get a vendor permit – I had to do basically the same thing. The 3rd party we had to deal with was being extremely picky on behalf of the end customer (I later found out that end customer doesn’t even know anything until 3rd party sends them the “all pre-requisites complete” notice) and they kept having problems with our Certificate of Insurance – we had MORE insurance than they were requiring but because one of the boxes (indicating just the basic policy) wasn’t checked they rejected it. Our insurance had to go through their chain of command and figure out how to properly document it so that one box was checked while still maintaining our actual policy, and they submitted it and….STILL REJECTED.

        I called in to the 3rd party, spend forever on hold just to talk to a rep who told me that the box still wasn’t checked, even though I was pulling the document up through THEIR SYSTEM to look at it and could see the checked box. I resubmitted from the digital copy I had been sent and they still couldn’t see it but the rep said she realized what was wrong and got it pushed through.

        1 week later and ANOTHER rejection. Call in and same song and dance with them claiming they couldn’t see the required check box filled. Again I was looking at the file pulled from their system where I could clearly see it. Finally, this guy figures out that because the insurance company had used an editable form, the edit wasn’t popping up. Printed, rescanned, and resubmitted and then they could see it and finally send off for final approval from end customer.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This. They may have been sent a copy provided by someone else.
      (And I couldn’t begin to count how many times I have had to explain to co-workers that a scan of a drawing is not good enough to insert into a manual, even if it does have the same extension as the CAD export.)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Not if it’s eg a .doc printed to .pdf (sob) – you have to identify the fields to be completed.

        I used to be the person in my office responsible for turning certain plain pdfs into type-into-able forms. I do not miss that task even though it was scarcely more than annual – government updated the form, we had to update our template.

        1. LunaLena*

          If you have Acrobat Pro, it’s actually a lot easier to turn PDFs into type-able forms. I get asked to do this occasionally at my job, and Acrobat has gotten good enough that it can often detect what areas need to be filled and does it automatically for me now. Usually all I have to do is double-check the fields, maybe add or remove a couple, and add check boxes if needed.

    3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      OP 4, they probably won’t care how you choose to fill it out, but I would recommend printing it and signing it, as they may require it and kick it back to you if it isn’t. We cannot accept applications that haven’t been signed. (We can accept scanned copies, but it has to be a “real” signature.)

      (Also, for the record, this wouldn’t reflect poorly on you if it was for us, it would just delay the process.)

  5. Engineer Girl*

    #4 – I guess I’m old school. I would have made a copy of the PDF, filled it in, scanned it, and sent it back to them.

    1. Zombie Unicorn*

      Not quite getting what you mean here. Do you mean you would print it out? Or that you would save a copy?

        1. Jemima Bond*

          Why would you need to copy the version you’ve printed out? Isn’t that just a waste of paper?
          Fwiw I would never submit a handwritten form; I would just assume I should send it in typed (and assume the form was formatted wrongly initially). Handwriting a job application seems…not part of the professional world to me. I’d expect it to be binned and/or some kindly worded feedback about that’s not what we do in grown-up jobs.

          1. Carlie*

            Except that if it’s not a fillable form to begin with, what do they expect? People to have typewriters? I would do the same as Engineer Girl – print, write in, scan, send the scan.

            1. Carlie*

              And there wouldn’t be a lot of handwriting in any case – those forms never leave enough room, so beyond name/contact info/job titles the answers are always “see attached” whether written by hand or typed.

            2. Asenath*

              I type the information in with “Add text” , save and send. If it’s a fillable form, I’ll usually use it as is, but some fillable forms I’ve encountered do odd things when you try to enter the information. There has been the occasional situation in which I’ve given up on a fillable form, printed and scanned a blank version, and typed in my information using Adobe.

            3. AnotherAlison*

              I add text to PDFs every day, without fillable forms. The PDF software we use is designed for reviewing and marking-up documents and drawings, and I’m used to having access to that type of software for ~10 years. I wouldn’t really think about this being an issue for people unless someone brought up that they didn’t have PDF editing software. Blind spot.

            4. JSPA*

              The default (free) PDF viewer on a mac allows you to type text “on” (rather than “in”) any document. Like annotating an image file in a jpeg or png viewer. Rather like apps that let you “float” some cute mask in front of your face, in pictures or video. And if you then print that PDF not as paper, but as a second PDF, the text annotations become an integral part of that file / image. I think most platforms have some such program? Or maybe I just assume so? There’s also a “capture and paste in your signature” function which can also be used for a hand-written date.

              For anything massively legal, I ask if they need a true hard copy signature on a paper version of the document. But if it’s not something that generally requires either a witness or notarization, a variety of e-signed versions are almost always acceptable, these days. It’s legal and standard for all sorts of medical and financial transactions and a wide variety of government forms, after all.

          2. Yorick*

            This seems overly harsh and it’s way out of the norm. Many job applications are meant to be handwritten, even when you’re an adult.

            1. JSPA*

              Really? Not even in hotel housekeeping casual dining, fast food and grocery stores, last I noticed (as a customer, when people walked in hoping to pick up an application).

              Default seems to be, “it’s all done electronically these days, go to the website, click on the employment link, fill in your information and hit submit.” I think I was told this was even true for the meatpacking plant 50 miles out of town (though I would not be entirely surprised if they accepted hard workers through whatever mechanism necessary, if they’re short-staffed.)

              Independent boutique stores around here either just take a resumé and cover letter or work through some third party service that’s electronic. I’m hard pressed to think when I last saw a written “form” application.

              1. Observer*

                Maybe not job applications – but LOTS of other “grown up” things. Have you looked at any government forms recently? I just pulled up a few (and not just in the US) and they are most definitely designed to be filled in by hand. Not only are they not fillable, but the have “features” like boxes for the individual letters of a name, or the individual numbers of a date.

                1. JSPA*

                  I do those with the same method described above, though. If you pick the right typeface and size and toss in spaces as needed, you hit the boxes.

                  Which is not to say that I’m in favor of there being no paper option! My last couple of Visa applications for foreign travel were 100% electronic. As a requirement.

                  It’s scary sending pix of your passport over government websites that are being flagged by your browser as violating every safety protocol, but the country no longer accepts a non-electronic initial submission. I’d feel the same way about applications for jobs that demand TMI up-front.

                2. Observer*

                  That’s all good and fine. But the point is that these things are INTENDED to be filled in by hand. Which means that condescendingly claiming that “adults” don’t fill in forms by hand if they want to be treated like adults ignores reality.

                  In some cases, it’s a lot of extra effort to put it. It’s ridiculous to look down on someone, much less toss their application, because they did the logical thing.

          3. Tinker*

            By contrast, I wouldn’t think anything of filling out a physical form by hand if one presented itself (though usually I expect a minimum of physical forms associated with work nowadays) but would consider “that’s not what we do in grown-up jobs” to be pretty far from the way one talks to people one is doing business with, barring fairly extreme circumstances.

            1. That Girl From Quinn's House*

              Also, a lot of people may not have the same professional software at home as they have access to at work. My work may pay for a license for each computer for a full software suite of professional software, but at home? I’m not paying for that.

          4. Observer*

            Wait, you send someone a form that was not designed to be filled in on computer and then you complain that someone actually manually filled the thing in? You expect people to have typewriters? Even in their heyday, typewrites were not that common of a household item. And now there are a lot of offices that don’t have typewriters any more.

            In FUNCTIONAL “grown up” jobs, we give people the tools to do the job the way we need it and we don’t look down on people who don’t happen to have bit of knowledge that doesn’t really affect their job function.

            I have staff who are REALLY good at their jobs and use their computers heavily, but who don’t know about typewriter mode – it’s not something they have ever used or needed. They absolutely know how to behave in “grown up jobs”.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              As an engineer I’m going to do the quickest easiest thing that will get me the job. If there is no ability to add text in the software then it’s by hand.
              All the other work is time consuming and wasteful. This is especially true for a single use application that will never be used again.
              Sometimes the best solution is brute force.

              1. Yorick*

                That’s what I think to. Adding functionality to a document is more time consuming than printing, filling out, and scanning

                1. Michaela Westen*

                  When I saw OP’s letter I thought she must be much better at adding that functionality than I would be. It would take me hours to figure it out, and I’m not exaggerating.

                2. pancakes*

                  I’m baffled by the idea that it’s less time-consuming to print a pdf and fill it in by hand than it is to make it fillable / add functionality. Making it fillable with the Adobe app is simply a matter of checking off a box when downloading it from an email. I work with pdfs a lot and do this on my phone all the time. The app can save your signature, too, so if that’s required there’s still no need to print it or scan it.

              2. Observer*

                Well, if you want a job with someone who expects people to kiss their feet for graciously giving the opportunity to work for them, it’s a good use of time. /sarc

                Most of the time I’ll still use the typewriter function if I can, because my handwriting is bad and it’s easier as well. But, that’s an individual judgement call and I can see why a lot of people would find it easier to just fill the thing in by hand.

                What I don’t understand is the people who are critical of that.

                1. Engineer Girl*

                  Not sure I understand?

                  I’m going to get to the product in the quickest, cheapest, easiest way. That’s very engineering like.

  6. A Cat Named Phil*

    Let’s stay on topic and not offer unsolicited advice on other people’s bodies. OP is under a doctor’s care.

    1. Hills to Die on*

      Not the same thing as giving advice on people’s bodies.

      I went through it and it helped me be able to function at work. This is not the same thing as telling her what kind of doctor she needs to see, or for what, or what she should eat, etc. It’s a product recommendation that helped me in a similar situation. Chill.

  7. MissGirl*

    Wow, letter five comes at an opportune time. I’m giving notice tomorrow and going on a planned vacation for two weeks starting next Friday. I let my interviewers know from my initial screen that this could push back my start time depending on when an offer came. I received the offer Monday and negotiated a start date of October 1st. This gives me a full week before my vacation and two weeks after to wrap up projects. I’ll post again tomorrow to let you know how my manager takes it.

    1. valentine*

      You could give notice at the end of your vacation. Or do you want to give them three weeks or have a week off between jobs?

      1. Just Elle*

        Yeah, I second this. What if they tell you not to bother coming back from vacation, and now you’re out 2 weeks worth of work?

        1. JSPA*

          That’s been covered before.

          If you give them the date of your last day date, and they tell you not to come in at some point before that date, they theoretically either have to pay you through that date or you get unemployment, as they’re “letting you go” for that period.

          Unless it’s a job where it’s normal for them to may or maybe not give you hours. Then they can just happen not to schedule you to work.

          1. Just Elle*

            Honestly, collecting unemployment for a 2 week period is such an absolute pain that I’d prefer to mitigate possible opportunities to need that in the first place. It’s really not guaranteed, and its unlikely to come through in the same timeframe that a normal paycheck would.

            That said, I’m coming from an industry where most people leave for a competitor and are escorted out of the building the second they give notice and basically treated like Bad People and would never get severance pay. So it may be that in other industries employees are treated better and my paranoia is unfounded.

            1. JSPA*

              Ah, yes, I can see that being a (special?) case (as in, I hope it’s special?*), where “worst case scenario has a workable answer if it comes to pass” is nowhere near good enough.

              *I’d guess those same industries are often haunted by non-disclosure agreements, so the rest of us may have no sense at all whether this is becoming the norm, or receding, as such policies tend to do, when employment is high, and people get irked at high-handed BS power moves. Of course, the water also recedes before a tsunami. : (

      2. MissGirl*

        I have a huge project that’s seasonal that is kicking off in September. They’ll need time to transition. I also have trust in my management they won’t want to push me out sooner. If the worst happened and they did, I have plenty of savings and could move up my start time.

        Someone else on our team gave three weeks with a week vacation in the middle and they handled it professionally.

        1. Rebecca*

          I think that’s key: “they handled it professionally”. It’s something for everyone to keep in mind when they give notice.

    2. MissGirl*

      Just gave my notice and managed not to full on out cry. I’m going to miss them and the work. They handled it very well. I’m working out a transition plan this week.

  8. MissGirl*

    I think she made a point of mentioning she’s under a doctor’s care and it’s genetic so we don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to internet diagnose someone.

    I wouldn’t mention it to your supervisor unless they notice it and comment on it. Chances are, you’re hyper aware of the time away from your desk, but they aren’t.

    1. Observer*

      I am not diagnosing anything. However, I know that doctors mess this up ALL THE TIME. In fact, they get it wrong more often than they get it right for most women. So the fact that she’s under a doctor’s care does not mean that she actually has been given a correct diagnosis.

      Nor does it mean that she has not gotten a correct diagnosis. All I am suggesting is that, given the abysmal track record of doctors, *IF* she has not already done so the OP should pursue this further.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        I don’t want to get further off topic, but your point is a good one. According to one survey of 1300 women, it took an average of 2 years and 3 doctors to be diagnosed with PCOS. Doctors are notorious for ignoring or downplaying women’s symptoms, especially those having to do with menstruation. I think it’s worth it to mention it to OP just in case they’re one of the many women not taken seriously. (And a genetic issues doesn’t necessarily translate to “unfixable and untreatable”.)

      2. JSPA*

        There is huge natural variation within the “normal” range.

        However, if she’s using tampons (or pads), she might want to try a couple of versions of cup, especially if she’s the only woman regularly using a particular bathroom (possible, depending who sits where and how many bathrooms there are, if there are no others in her department).

        Many women can leave them in for 12 hours, so even if she only gets, say, 2 or 3 hours use out of one, that takes the breaks down to a not-at-all-remarkable level. (She’d need to carry a water bottle for rinsing and returning within the stall, and perhaps a cloth that’s absorbant on one side and waterproof on the other, to work over, and an opaque, well-sealing bag in case of an oops or to put the cloth in. But if she has that heavy a flow, she’s probably already carrying quite some supplies and backups and “just in case” containment.) That’s if she wants to, of course; it’s also perfectly reasonable to go change out every 40 minutes if that’s a comfortable routine. If I were her age, I’d definitely see if I could go that (more “eco”) route.

        1. Hills to Die on*

          Yes – this is what I mean above about the menstrual disks. I had a job that required sitting through multiple, back-to-back meetings and it is just so much easier with a disk you could leave in for 12 hours (or, if you are like me, at least a couple of hours. But certainly more than 40 minutes at a time). Game changer.

        2. Observer*

          There is huge natural variation within the “normal” range.

          That’s true. But this level is way outside that range. The OP is clearly aware of this, but I want to clarify this for anyone who is reading this.

        3. JSPA*

          And then, some women go the “full year pill” option (no week off, no flow).

          Note that the period you get while on the pill is, hormonally-speaking, more like a triggered mini-miscarriage than a “regular” period; it serves no particular function except to feel that you’re approximating a normal pattern.

          continuous contraception / no period pills or mini pills are most commonly used for painful periods or for, say, astronauts or other women working in extreme conditions, not for heavy periods per se, but there’s no reason, so far as I know, that one can’t do it just by choice. Implants and hormonal IUD’s can also significantly reduce or even eliminate bleeding.

          Again, none of this is to say that OP SHOULD change her bodily functions for anyone’s purposes and goals except her own. And by definition, any hormonal intervention is biologically active, and as such, has the potential for side effects in some people (with both genetic and environmental components to that risk).

          Just pointing out how many option are now out there, as people often continue with whatever someone put them on when they first went in (or whatever their mother or older sister used), rather than considering additional options.

  9. Dan*


    Your first obligation is to your employer first and foremost, period.

    Given that, my first instinct is to tell you that if you’re not asked, you don’t tell. But… the counter point to that is if you don’t volunteer this information, you run the risk of higher than “average” turnover over time. If you’re up front about this, you definitely will drive off your top candidates, but may get a “second tier” candidate willing to stick with you for a few years.

    That said, AAM may be optimistic about how long someone may stick with you without a raise. At OldJob, for a variety of reasons, it took me three years to get my first raise. Meanwhile, my rent was creeping up 4-5% per year. I was told the second year that I was at the top of my pay band, and I wasn’t getting a raise until I got promoted. I did get promoted my third year, but had I not, I would have been Out Of There. They weren’t going to get another shot at it.

    As for the whole non-profit thing… when I left OldJob, I started at NewJob (go figure). NewJob is a non-profit. (Old job was a for-profit). In the 5 years I’ve been at NewJob, I’ve received a cumulative 40% increase in my pay. My comp at NewJob has been night and day different than OldJob.

    Please do not stick around at a non-profit that has crappy comp policies. That just helps management perpetuate the stereotype that non-profits can and should pay worth crap.

    1. Zombeyonce*

      the counter point to that is if you don’t volunteer this information, you run the risk of higher than “average” turnover over time.

      There’s also the risk that candidates will find out after a short period of time on the job and not only feel duped, but no longer trust OP because this information was withheld. That could be a big problem long before the turnover issue is noticed by higher-ups and make OP’s job a lot harder. It’ll make it to Glassdoor quickly enough and OP will not only have high turnover, but a dearth of qualified candidates because people often do their homework by searching for companies’ salary information.

      Not volunteering this information could be a huge mistake.

      1. JSPA*

        Maybe OP could salve their conscience by putting that information on GlassDoor, so that the candidates can do their due diligence. To be clear, not as a complaint, but as a statement of, “this is an unusual policy the company now uses. It is causing considerable discussion as people figure out whether it works for them or not, short-term or long-term.” Then it’s on the candidate to ask questions.

        After all, in theory, the site is supposed to be about creating transparency (not slagging your boss for firing you for smoking in the washroom).

        As a bonus, if multiple candidates ask questions about the pay and bonus structure and seem perturbed, or express dismay, that’s something concrete OP can take to the powers-that-be, about the fallout from the new policy. Because, somehow, the human psyche being what it is, the opinion of “the one that got away” too often outweighs the opinions of the actual people who show up and work for the organization every day.

    2. Anonomoose*

      So, if I were looking for a policy change here, I’d only tell candidates at the offer stage. A little unfair, it’s true. However, it’d let me collect data, so if our preferred candidate turns down the offer, well, hey, each of those rejections would get pushed higher up. Probably with a note to head of HR, asking what we can do to offer competitive compensation.

      (Or, y’know, you could always unionize, which would be a lot less passive aggressive)

    3. Massmatt*

      I hard disagree. If this is an official policy the OP is not obligated to keep it secret. It is so far out of line with employment norms that applicants can’t be expected to ask about it. “Oh yes, you’re paid in Monopoly money, you should have asked about that!”

      Covering this up to new prospects will damage her reputation when she needs to move on, which will hopefully be soon.

      1. Dan*

        So you “hard disagree” that OP’s first obligation is to her employer? That’s funny.

        To which I’d “hard disagree” that keeping mum (absent a direct question) would damage her reputation when she needs to move on. It’s not considered “standard” to spill the beans about an employer’s comp policy if not asked about it.

        As for the Monopoly money comment… in the USA, for a professional position, an offer letter will be sent, and the compensation will be specified, usually in USD, so I think it would be highly unlikely that someone get offered Monopoly money because they didn’t ask about the currency specifically.

        Now when one first gets a job, one doesn’t know any better so one takes what one gets. However, after one go at the merry-go-around, one starts to wise up to comp policies, and starts asking questions about pay ranges, where one falls in it, potential for advancement within it, and what not. I don’t think an employer owes a candidate an unsolicited “oh BTW, this is the absolute top of the range, you won’t get a raise until you’re promoted”. But if a candidate asks, “What’s the pay range/midpoint/etc for the position/level/grade/etc” then s/he can do what s/he wants with that information. I know the next time I move on, there’s no way I’m not asking that question. And anything but a straight answer helps me figure out where to rank that offer amongst the others that I will get.

        At my org, pay ranges for a position are rather wide, but promotions are hard to get. I’m certainly not volunteering the fact that promotions are hard to get absent a direct question, but I’m not going to lie either. If asked about promotions, I’d tell the truth — they ain’t easy and it’s going to be awhile.

        1. Mookie*

          Do the employers think this is a liability for them? If not, how is she harming them or any way shirking her obligation to them? If so, it’s up to them to make the policy attractive enough to retain their present employees and so that the LW and other managers like her can sell it to candidates. No employer is going to admit out loud that they expect their employees to lie by omission in these circumstances and lying will only precipitate more resignations and more people declining offers. If that’s their intention, they are welcome to it. Why you think the LW is all that’s standing between them and that outcome is unfathomable. It’s, of course, more efficient for everyone to weed out the applicants for whom this will be a deal breaker in either the short or long term.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            If management believes this policy is a great retention tool that will attract top talent and retain them, then OP should not be secretive about it. That’s showing your first loyalty is to upper management, and your shining belief in their wisdom.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Do the employers think this is a liability for them? If not, how is she harming them or any way shirking her obligation to them?


            “This thing we’re doing is perfectly normal and there’s nothing wrong with it.”
            “Fine. I’m going to tell applicants about it.”
            “HOW DARE YOU.”

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              This! If the policy is a great idea and they are delighted about this genius plan, there should be no issue with OP sharing it with candidates.

              If they need to be shady about it, that is telling them something.

            2. The New Wanderer*

              It’s not like the new hires aren’t going to find out at some point their first year, right? That’s just moving the problem from not being able to hire competitive candidates to not being able to retain competitive employees, leading to more attempts to hire and likely more information getting out via Glassdoor or similar about this policy.

              Be up front about this as part of the overall compensation discussion. That’s not violating an obligation to the employer, that’s giving the candidates truth about the offer – those two things don’t conflict and if they do, that’s not an employer who deserves employee loyalty.

              1. Rusty Shackelford*

                And not being able to retain the people you’ve hired is a lot more expensive and time-consuming than having a hard time hiring them in the first place.

          1. triplehiccup*

            Yes! And in that vain, if it’s a small field where reputation matters, you really don’t want to be hoodwinking candidates who might later be interviewing you, for example. Even if she proceeds as though her first loyalty is to her employer, I can see an argument for being upfront. The org will be worse off if someone accepts the job, finds out the policy a few months later, and then quits.

          2. Yorick*

            And when you’re in HR, your job gives you some obligation to the company’s employees, including prospective ones.

        2. BRR*

          For one’s obligation to their employer (I’m on team “first obligation is to yourself”), I think there’s an obligation to attract and retain top people. And while an employer doesn’t owe candidates this information, I would lump it into the overall compensation package information that often doesn’t get included early in the process but should be.

        3. snowglobe*

          Even *if* the first obligation is to the employer, I’d disagree that keeping silent about this policy is in the employer’s best interest. If you hire someone without disclosing something that is really going to negatively impact them, they will jump ship as soon as possible, and in the meantime will be (justifiably) angry about the deception. So you aren’t going to hire an employee that will actually be much help to the organization in the long run. Disclosing will eliminate many candidates, but you will eventually find someone who wants the job, and at least they won’t be angry while they are working there.

        4. Just Elle*

          If the company truly believes there is nothing wrong with the policy, then it is not being ‘disloyal’ to the company to share a policy it has. It’s not ‘tattling’ our ‘outing’ them if its a public policy they see as fair and reasonable. Its sharing objective information about the company and culture.

          There is, however, a huge difference between OP launching into a 30 minute speech about how she’s actively fighting the policy because its a Bad Idea for Reasons… and calmly stating “I wanted to highlight an unusual policy for you so it doesn’t catch you off guard should we get to the offer phase.” I think the latter is actually much more in line with Alison’s advice to discuss compensation earlier in the hiring process so that both company and candidate don’t waste their time. This is a key component of the compensation scheme for the company, not a dirty secret.

          FWIW, I work in manufacturing, where sometimes jobs have really bad or weird working conditions. Every company I’ve ever interviewed with that had such a condition made a point of taking me out for a tour very early in the interview process. It didn’t do either of us any favors for the company to pretend that I would not have a medium-high probability of getting hot tar in my hair on a daily basis. Because if it was really a deal breaker for me, it would have led to a LOT of employee dissatisfaction right out of the gate and that’s bad for business.

          SHOULD job candidates do a good job of interrogating job offers and generally being suspicious and willing to ask questions? Yes. Have we all fallen prey to bad job offers because we didn’t read between the lines well enough? Probably. But that’s not an excuse to purposely hoodwink candidates when you’re on the other side either. It doesn’t do the company any favors in the long run.

          1. Thoughts*

            Exactly this. I make sure to highlight all the downsides when interviewing because if it is going to be a problem it is better to know sooner rather than later. It has really helped us to make sure we hire people who will be happy and productive. I would rather an excellent candidate pass on the job than take it, be very unhappy and leave.

          2. JSPA*

            I enjoy the smell of hot tar. It falls in the same category for me as dark treacle and fresh dug dark earth and baking rye bread and hot,well-oiled machines working smoothly.

            Disclosure means you find a good match.

            In this case, maybe someone’s in it for the experience, less stress, a guaranteed 5 PM exit from the premises, good health benefits, paid volunteer days (or whatever else) more than for the money.

            You can still talk up the job and the employer and do your utmost to find THAT person, without hiding something that would be a negative for many people.

        5. Joielle*

          OP has an obligation to her employer, sure – but if this is the employer’s policy, then obviously they don’t think there’s anything wrong with it or anything to hide. Regardless of OP’s feelings on the policy, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be above-board about the compensation and raise/promotion potential. A good employer WANTS candidates to know exactly what they’re getting into.

        6. Yorick*

          It’s not “spilling the beans” to tell candidates what they need to know about the job you’re going to offer them.

        7. Fiberpunk*

          She’s not doing her employer any favors if she hides this and that causes constant turnover.

        8. Anony-the-mouse*

          Really?? I’m in the U.S. I’ve been working since the age of 14 and have worked plenty of professional positions. I’m 51 now. In all that time, I’ve received exactly 1 offer letter.

          1. Anony-the-mouse*

            And frankly, I have an obligation to myself and my employer equally. I work for them, but they’re not God. I’ll do what I think is best. That’s what they pay me for. And in this case, I wouldn’t withhold that information from a prospective client. Why should I? The company thinks it’s a good idea!

        9. Massmatt*

          Fortunately, a workplace that outright refuses to give raises is still abnormal in most fields, even nonprofits. I doubt most prospective employees would ask about the possibility of raises, assuming they come with tenure and growing competence and skill. As indeed they do in most sane workplaces.

          I have interviewed maybe 75 candidates over the years, no one has thought to ask “so, do you give raises?” And indeed I have never asked this question myself in an interview. It’s the norm, if a workplace takes itself out of the norm it should disclose this to candidates.

          Not saying anything about this policy unless asked will leave new employees feeling suckered into a terrible situation, telling them “well, you should have asked” really just adds to the insult.

          1. Just Elle*

            “Not saying anything about this policy unless asked will leave new employees feeling suckered into a terrible situation, telling them “well, you should have asked” really just adds to the insult.”


            You also made me think of how I would react if someone I interviewed asked tons of questions about “do you give raises”… honestly, I might wonder if they were leaving current employer over a bitter dispute where they thought they deserved a raise but in fact did not. I mean, maybe thats a completely unfair thing for me to wonder, but in general I don’t think its the best move to come across as deeply suspicious of promised benefits during an interview?

        10. Yorick*

          I think “you might find it hard to get a promotion here” is very different from “our organization has a policy against giving raises.”

        11. JSPA*

          “Failing to disclose a set-in-stone policy” is hardly something that’s owed to an employer. The employer benefits from having motivated employees who want to be there. Not people who feel tricked into the job.

          The sort of employer who wants to trick people into becoming employees by hiding material information is…well, I’ve been trying not to refer to any person, group of people, or even incorporated body made up of people as “garbage.” All the same, it’s a garbage-y attitude, and one that decent people should not participate in, either as employers or employees.

          That doesn’t mean you say, “this policy is garbage, because it doesn’t work for me.” (A “warning, run” is for situations that are outright dangerous, to people who would be at serious risk of something worse than a dissatisfying paycheck, down the road.) But “The company now does X rather than Y” is fair disclosure.

          It’s like someone thinking of dating someone you’ve known forever: “really smart, a total geek, doesn’t like to go out much, huge Dr. Who fan, committed vegan. You might actually be great for each other if those things work well for you.” Ideally you’re hoping to find a willing match, not a warm body that’s briefly trapped by a vague sense of social obligation.

      2. Liane*

        When your job duties include interviewing/hiring, part of the “obligation to your employer” is hiring competent people who have a good attitude and will stay with your company at least 2-3 years.

        You aren’t fulfilling this obligation if your hires, once they find out the salary policy the hard way, start slacking off, have less enthusiasm, & go back to job searching, after writing AAM about “how to explain looking for a new job after only a few months.” Then they leave, then they spread the word that Charities R Us has a terrible pay policy, and you cannot get minimally decent people to even apply.

    4. when the wolf comes home*

      You may or may not have your first obligation be to your employer, but you absolutely do not have an obligation to lie on behalf of your employer for their betterment and at the expense of other workers.

    5. Archaeopteryx*

      OP’s first obligation is to conduct themselves with integrity. Withholding such crucial information from candidates would be shady.

    6. That Girl From Quinn's House*

      I agree that OP should not volunteer the information because I have worked for employers like this. Once it gets out that OP is the reason why candidates are turning down offers- and someone WILL trace it back to her- she will face disciplinary action or find her job at risk.

      It is best for OP to do a job search, and post it on Glassdoor once she is safely employed elsewhere.

  10. RF*

    I’m confused by #4. Don’t most PDF readers let you add arbitrary text anywhere on a document, “fillable” or not? Or is that not common outside of Preview?

    1. Observer*

      The typewriter feature can be a bit weird. I’ve had “typewriter” text done in one reader disappear in another.

      1. JSPA*

        So print-to-pdf (with new name) once it’s filled. It’s much smaller and more reliable that way, anyway.

        1. Observer*

          Sure. Just check to make sure it comes up properly.

          I use print to pdf all the time and not just to deal with non-fillable PDFs

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            We have a recurrent compatibility issue with $GovernmentOffice which is solved by printing to pdf, then printing the resulting pdf to pdf. I have no idea why this works but +1 to checking your resulting pdf!!

    2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

      You can definitely do it if you have Acrobat or Preview. It can be a bit dicier if you only have Acrobat Reader.

    3. Willis*

      Yeah, this. I may think the typed-in answers looks neater than an application done with poor handwriting, but it wouldn’t make much of an impression beyond that. I likely wouldn’t notice or care if someone made it a fillable form.

      1. Darren*

        You’d also might just get a printed out version and have no way of knowing specifically what they did from the number of options to put text on such a document.

    4. Risha*

      Not the free versions, typically. And I don’t even have the paid version on my work machine, never mind my personal laptop.

      1. ScarletNumber*

        The current free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader DC allows the adding of text anywhere on the document.

  11. Observer*

    OP, are you getting proper cost of living increases? By proper, I mean in line with what you city is doing an at least matching the rate of inflation?

    That really does make a difference.

    1. MoopySwarpet*

      This. I think COL increases are all that some companies really give so not having merit raises isn’t really the same as not having raises. Also, since this is a new policy, there’s always the chance it will change again in the future. Personally, depending on the COL standard and the bonus structure, I would be happy with the arrangement.

  12. NPOQueen*

    OP5, if you are thinking you might get an offer for anything soon, start making transition documents now. It’ll be a lot easier to negotiate a shorter notice period if you are somewhat prepared beforehand. Document everything, organize your files, make it easy if you only had a week to leave instead of two.

  13. Jeff Goldblum*

    #2 – I think you should absolutely disclose it, and I actually don’t think you’ll lose out on top candidates, at least for this particular job. As a young woman in a junior level nonprofit job, knowing that there’s no potential for a raise wouldn’t have made a difference in my decision to accept the job I’m in. Junior level people pursuing a nonprofit career path, in my experience (both as one of those people and as a person surrounded by those people), don’t plan on staying in their position for more than a couple years. We show up, learn, do great work, get experience and accomplish things, and then in a couple years if there’s no upward mobility, we move on. I think it’ll be a much bigger problem for managerial or director level positions, because those are expected to be long term.

    # 1 – I am in a similar boat as you in terms of bathroom time during your period. My manager can see my desk from their desk and has never once questioned me about why I’m away from my desk/how often I’m away from my desk. I’ve never had to explain it or even point it out. As long as you’re making your deadlines and getting your work done well and on time, a good manager won’t be nickel-and-dimeing you about your bathroom breaks.

    1. KayDay*

      I quite agree with your comments on #2. At least in my area of the non-profit world, turn over (both people leaving and a lot of fixed term jobs ending) is very high, so plenty of people may not expect to work at the organisation for a year. So there still may be plenty of people who are good who are willing to take the job and leave when they need a bigger salary. However, support positions (finance, HR, IT, etc.) might be more difficult as the OP’s org would be competing for people who might otherwise work for a for-profit company where they could work for a while and get raises.

      1. Mae Fuller*

        I agree too. I’m in the UK so it might be different elsewhere, but non-profit jobs here in my experience have been tied to very specific funding streams so it’s not generally possible for the organisation to offer a pay rise mid-contract – they apply for a fixed amount of money to provide the role, and that’s it. It’s not great, but it’s fairly standard that the only way to get a raise is by being promoted.

    2. Kiwiii*

      for 2) I figure that as long as they’re clear that there IS a small cost of living raise and the possibility of a bonus, most junior level employees won’t mind as they’re not planning on staying for more than 2-5 years, and those who Might mind can factor it in.

      Honestly, I’m 25 and after floundering a little for the first year or so after college and then taking low-paying or short contract positions as I worked my way into social services/non-profit work, I’m finally in my first “oh this could be a career” job, and didn’t think to ask about how raises work at all (though I did ask for more money at the offer stage!)

      1. Clisby*

        I’m 65, and it still never occurs to me that someone right out of college would take a job with the thought that they’d be there more than 2 or 3 years. This is probably because my first career was journalism, where it was very common for people to switch jobs every 2 years or so – that was just how you progressed.

  14. Observer*

    #4 – I’m betting that an employer is not thinking into this. After all, would they that you can’t write if you used a typewriter to fill in the form?

    I’d try typewrite mode first – it’s a LOT easier. Also, if you have the software to actually turn this into a fillable form, that software also lets you just add whatever text you want. That’s also a lot easier than turning in into a fillable form.

    It’s probably print to PDF, though and send the final result.

  15. Temperance*

    LW1: if you have a day or so of intense period action, I don’t think you need to say anything. There’s a good chance he hasn’t noticed. This is especially true if you’re just popping in to change your tampon.

    1. MK*

      I agree. If this is happening a week each month, your boss might notice that he can’t find you at your desk half the time. But a day or two each month isn’t going to be noticeable.

    2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I wouldn’t say anything unless it’s brought up. I agree that probably nobody has noticed.

    3. Just Elle*

      I agree – I think this is just that common paranoia that people are noticing wayyyy more about you than they really are. Honestly even my cube mates, I wouldn’t notice habits like this.

      There is one time I can see this being a problem, which is sitting through hour meetings (which is really common in my company). But I have a story that will probably make you feel better if it does ever come out.
      I also worked in an extremely male dominated industry when I first graduated, so much so that there was no women’s bathroom in my building, I had to walk to the admin building. Anyway, one day, I noticed a ‘danger pants’ situation while sitting in a meeting with a VIP. I tried to gracefully scoot out of the room without interrupting anyone, but my boss was just genuinely perplexed about where I could be going and asked me. I blurted out “to handle a lady problem”. My poor boss (and VIP) was 10000x more embarrassed than I was and never again asked me where I was going again. It even became a bit of a running joke, after we’d gotten closer, where he would say “I’m not asking you where you’re going, but if its in the direction of the admin building can you bring back some paper?” Anyway point is, even if the worst does happen, its really not that bad.

      1. Johnny Tarr*

        The thought of there being no women’s bathroom in an entire BUILDING makes me want to set things on fire. That said, I’m glad your awkward situation turned into a funny story about a rather cool boss!

        1. Just Elle*

          On the bright side, I got a paid 15 minute round trip walk several times a day, lol. If only I’d had a fitbit back then…

        2. Massmatt*

          OMG yes it makes me think of the bathroom problems in Hidden Figures. Though there they had the delight of segregation on top of it all.

          1. Just Elle*

            Yes! I definitely had the Hunger Games solidarity fingers up during that scene. Not that my situation was even remotely as bad.

          2. anon for this*

            Too bad that scene in Hidden Figures was entirely fictional. In real life she just refused to make the trek and used the whites only bathroom. Still super powerful that she said screw it and quietly stood up to everyone.

      2. henrietta*

        The fact that male coworkers are embarrassed or cringey about periods makes me rageful. Get over it, fellows. I’m not bleeding *at* you.

        1. WellRed*

          Lots of people are cringey about bathroom stuff, not just periods and not just males. (woman here).

          1. Cranky Neighbot*

            Yep. I’m a woman, I’m comfortable on this subject, and it’s still kind of a conversational no-go.

            Also, accidentally prompting people to talk about those things would be embarrassing. Most people don’t want to push boundaries around this subject! I wouldn’t want someone like OP to feel they have to talk about something that personal.

          2. Close Bracket*

            Lots of people are cringy about a lot of things, but let’s not pretend that there does not exist a particularly gendered type of cringe regarding words like “handle a lady problem” that is different from the reaction to “I’m need to use the restroom,” despite the actual words in both instances being equally euphemistic.

            1. Baru Cormorant*

              I don’t think they’re equally euphemistic, one is “I’m going to the bathroom” and one is a euphemism for what you’re doing in there. OP could say “Nature calls” or “I need to go #2” which are also euphemisms but a bit more detailed. Or “handle a lady problem” which is gendered because… it’s about menstruation…

              There’s no need to give details about what you’ll do in the bathroom or why it will take a certain period of time. Just excuse yourself!

        2. Just Elle*

          To be clear, they weren’t embarrassed because periods. They were embarrassed that they accidentally asked a question that forced me into an awkward/personal response. More horrified like “I hadn’t realized that my question might force Elle to reveal her current menstrual status” than “I can’t believe Elle shared her feminine issue with us.”

      3. Clisby*

        Back in the early 70s, I was a university undergraduate and friendly with a woman who was in law school (she was one of a very few female law students there at the time). She told me once she quietly got up from a class to go to the bathroom – as she was leaving, the law professor asked, “Ms. X – why are you leaving?” She said, “I need to change my Tampax – is that OK?” Apparently, he never questioned her again.

    4. All comments will be deleted*

      It is unlikely that anyone is monitoring your bathroom breaks. I second the “need to know” basis of this discussion. And if you choose to have the discussion, it could be worse. I just had to explain to my boss why I needed a new chair, as one of the light blue chairs in our open space office has been unfortunately marked. On the plus side, no matter how late I arrive there is always an open desk/chair for me now.

    5. Bree*

      I also think it’s highly unlikely anyone would notice this – particularly as it’s only happening for a few days each month. It can help relieve these kinds of worries, sometimes, to get outside your own head a bit – do you notice the washroom habits of your colleagues, or how often they’re away from their desks? If you do notice, do you think poorly of them? Probably not, so treat yourself with the same generosity you would someone else!

      1. Meh*

        We’ve noticed. A coworker of ours has spent upwards of 1-2 hours in the bathroom practically every day since they first started work with us. When they’re not in the bathroom, they’re doing lots of other personal life business. They’re getting paid a full time salary for doing half time work, if that. It’s demoralizing and creates an unfair work environment.

          1. Meh*

            I was just answering the question of the poster above my reply, who asked “do you notice the washroom habits of your colleagues, or how often they’re away from their desks?” Yes, we notice, and yes, it’s bothersome when it’s a quarter of each day.

        1. Michaela Westen*

          There are medical conditions that can cause that much time in the bathroom. The other personal work could be demoralizing on its own.

          1. Meh*

            Yes, realized, and we’ve considered the employee could have a medical condition but have never asked them about it. I’m genuinely curious though, if it was a medical condition keeping them in the bathroom for up to two hrs every day, and they’re only doing 30 hrs of work each week instead of 40 as a result, then is it fair they still get a full-time salary and benefits? Wouldn’t it be more fair to apply for and use unpaid FMLA time for the time not worked than to get paid for the time in the restroom while they’re not working? If I’m feeling too bad to go into work, or I’m at work and start feeling bad, I use/take accrued sick leave hours. I don’t not work but then claim I did work so I can get paid normal work hours/time for it.

            1. Michaela Westen*

              If it was a temporary condition FMLA might make sense, but some of these conditions are chronic long-term, like IBS or Crohn’s disease.
              I studied IBS and it can go on for years, or even a person’s whole life. Sometimes changing diet or using meds can control it, sometimes not.
              In such a case, is the person only allowed to work part-time? Don’t they have to make a living too? I remember when I was learning about this, people posting about dealing with it at work. It’s not great for them either. Ideally this would be worked out with the employer.

            2. Lilysparrow*

              Sounds like that person needs a job that pays for results, not butt-in-seat time. If they produce full-time value for the employer, they should be paid accordingly.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I agree it’s probably not that noticeable since it’s a few days every few weeks. If someone is away more often a couple times it just makes me go “oop Betsy is extra busy today, I’ll circle back later then.” If it’s noticable they’re in the bathroom I just sympathize internally as someone without a gallbladder anymore, I’ve got days like that aside from when it’s my cycle.

      Men get the poops too, they’re not going to dig into specifics unless they’re meddlesome jackholes.

  16. Massmatt*

    #4 Some of your possibilities for employer reaction seem strange. How is filling out the form within Acrobat “failing to follow instructions”? Do the instructions say to print the form and fill it out with a #2 pencil? Likewise what employer is assuming a document being typed is because of poor handwriting? Honestly, that seems like grammar school.

    Unless the job is for a limner or calligrapher people are unlikely to care how a form is filled out as long as it’s legible.

    1. Observer*

      I was thinking this as well, and was wondering if my reaction was off base. At least I know I wasn’t the only on

      1. valentine*

        How is filling out the form within Acrobat “failing to follow instructions”?
        OP4 may think, “If they wanted it typed, they’d make it fillable.”

    2. Scarlet2*

      Yeah, I was really puzzled at the “hiding ad handwriting” argument. In this day and age, who needs to write anything by hand at work, except on a post-it?

      1. Pathfinder Ryder*

        Working in a hospital I saw a lot of handwritten patient notes, from nurses, social workers, doctors (mainly on drug charts)… They haven’t all moved to digital yet.

        1. Observer*

          Well, your typical form is not going to help much if you’re worrying about handwriting, since most forms that are meant to hand fill, specify PRINT as opposed to cursive.

        1. Lance*

          I’m curious, has there ever been a big need to in the past few decades? The only ‘cursive’ I even use or see is in signatures, and then I (and many others) go by the tenet to make it not necessarily legible anyway.

          1. Samwise*

            Work in academia, you’ll see plenty of cursive/handwritten work. And not just from students.

          2. wittyrepartee*

            I take my notes in a modified cursive. God forbid anyone else try to read it, it’s truly for my eyes only.

        2. Zephy*

          I was a math instructor in a previous life, and wrote “Nice job!” at the top of a student’s paper after grading it once, in mostly-cursive. Sure, some cursive letters look really different from their print counterparts (r, s, z, and capital Q come to mind), but the letters in “nice job” don’t. The student, a 9th grader, told me she couldn’t read it.

        3. Observer*

          Which really is not relevant to the issue at hand though. I know that there is an argument to be made about the value of reading and writing cursive, but even assuming that this is 100% and issue and that society needs to DO SOMETHING about it, the fact is that in most jobs people don’t handwrite stuff so most places really do not care about your handwriting.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        Most of my job is hand written, which is sort of a problem because my writing is not very good. But I do try.

  17. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    Question #4 reminds me of when I was in high school applying for a summer internship, circa 1999 or so, and my father was CERTAIN that the way I could stand out was to use a meticulously-formatted Word document (tweaking line heights and tabs just so) so that I could print onto the application instead of writing by hand. (We didn’t have a scanner, let alone Adobe products if they even existed like they do now, so these adjustments would have taken hours.) I had very neat handwriting and was equally certain that this internship wouldn’t give a damn, especially as it was at a science lab.

    In the end I hand wrote the form but told him I did it his way. I got the internship.

    1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      I did that with my college application forms, also circa 1999. One in particular had pages with the top corner cut off in increasing triangles so that the pages to fill out had readable titles/tabs down the package when the pages were in order, and I remember formatting my essay to accommodate the missing corner of the page.

  18. MarieMorgan*

    OP1- Agree with advice given but just wanted to add that if you are working with male colleagues who are 40 then presumably some have wives and daughters and will be aware of possible issues re periods/time of month.

    1. Sara without an H*

      This. It’s possible OP#1’s manager will look mildly uncomfortable if she mentions it, but given the age range, he’s undoubtedly aware that menstruation is a thing.

      And it may not even be an issue. OP#1 is aware, of course, that she’s visiting the restroom more during her periods, but is anyone else even paying attention? In a busy office, people come and go.

      1. MicroManagered*

        AND many men are so concerned about the possibility of having an awkward conversation about “lady problems” that I feel like they’re unlikely to even ask.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Spouse is heading for 40. We have only sons and I don’t menstruate much (many years on OCP). Although he understands the biological principles, I think he would be startled by the practicalities of an average period, let alone a heavy one.

        I am pretty certain he has the tact and discretion required not to stall or question someone who asserts they need to leave the room right now and I’m even more certain he wouldn’t notice how often a colleague left their seat.

      2. Different Name for This*

        I’m in DC, and there’s a congressman who believes that women can control when they get their periods at will (I don’t mean through medicine — so let’s not get into that thread). He believes women can “hold it” until they make it to the bathroom. He also thought tampons were for women to get sexually titillated during the day and wanted tampon dispensers banned from the women’s bathrooms. This congressman is NOT young.

        1. VictorianCowgirl*

          I just really think there should be an education floor and an IQ floor to be able to run for office.

        2. Also Different Name for this*

          Hi, I used the same user name as you above! Sorry! I needed more anonymity than my usual screen name.

    2. Mis_Mia*

      Adult men know what a period is even if they are single. And most are capable of hearing about them.

      LW1: no one will probably notice. If your boss checks in to make sure you are ok, or does want to know, just tell him.

    3. Gadget Hackwrench*

      They may even ask if you are ok, if you appear to be in pain. Happens to me when I’m having bad cramps. Usual response, “I’m good, it’s just my uterus trying to murder me. It does that.” I used to claim ‘stomach pain’ or even ‘cramps’ but that invariably wound up with guys, guys in their 40s who should know better, offering Pepto Bismal or some shit like that, since apparently to them “cramps” means diarrhea.

      1. Quill*

        My dad is good about offering “medical chocolate” and otherwise not asking unless I look like I’m having an ovary explode. (First time I had a cyst rupture the whole family thought my appendix had burst and we went to the emergency room, which apparently didn’t think to look anywhere except the appendix for problems?)

        Of course, my period comes with generalized pain. (Thanks, tendonitis!) So generally speaking anyone in my vicinity knows something has gone down.

      2. Dahlia*

        Hey, fun fact, for some of us cramps means both at the same time. Super fun fact. Love that fact.

    4. Louise*

      I’m the only full-time employee at my company that’s a woman (one part-timer is also female). My boss is late 50s, coworkers range from 24 to 40. One has a wife, the rest have girlfriends – they know what periods are, but I wouldn’t say they’re always sensitive to it. It’s sad.

  19. Akcipitrokulo*

    LW1… it’ll be fine. If they haven’t worked it oit, there may be a momentary embarrassment – on their side! – then done with.

    I did read heading and think “you need to explain on your cv that you had a period of working with men? oh….” :)

  20. Annie*

    Ugh, forms that can’t be filled in by computer (that have to be printed, hand written then scanned in drive me nuts. And they massively discriminate against disabled people.

    1. The New Wanderer*

      And don’t get me started on online forms that appear to let you fill in everything but they are secretly in read-only format so when you save, you’re saving the original blank form and NOT the one you spent an hour filling in!

      But to the OP’s point, do it if you like and it’s not any more effortful than print, fill, scan, send, but it probably won’t make you stand out.

    2. metageeky*

      That’s exactly what I was going to say. Providing a PDF to be filled out that is not a form is a violation of most accessibility policies such as the recently revised Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Higher education offices have to make these forms accessible to all potential fillers, which means supporting blind, low vision, and people who may issues filling out a form by hand.

  21. Flash Bristow*

    OP1, I’m sorry you find it awkward – you shouldn’t, it’s a natural thing! In your shoes, next time you’re popped into your boss’s office for another reason, I’d add “By the way – I’m sure you understand but every month I need to pop to the bathroom a bit more often [or “around every hour” or whatever works] – I can still get my work done fine, but if I’m not at my desk all the time I hope you can just pop back or drop me an email?”

    I doubt they’ll be obtuse but if they are, there’s no harm in saying just “that’s just how my monthly period works out”.

    There’s absolutely no need to be shy or awkward about it – half the population have the same situation, just that not everyone will need to go change quite as often. I wouldn’t announce it at a team meeting, but if you act calm and straightforward when you bring it up to your manager, they ought to respond in kind – job done.

    1. Freebird*

      I disagree with this advice. There’s no reason to bring it up unless she’s asked why she’s often away from her desk or gets the sense that her boss is concerned. Yes, having a period is “natural,” but that doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate topic for work, unless it’s causing a disruption in her job duties.

      1. Marmaduke*

        I agree. I liken it to a supervisor I once had who dealt with Crohn’s Disease. If she had to leave a meeting abruptly, she’d offer a succinct explanation—“I have a medical issue and sometimes need to make frequent sudden restroom trips”—before she stepped out. But bringing it up apropos of nothing would have made it a bigger deal than it had to be, and encouraged conversation that didn’t really need to be had (for example, unsolicited medical advice or intrusive questions).

      2. Joielle*

        Yeah… it’s not that it’s inappropriate to bring it up, exactly, just that it would seem weird to go to your boss and basically be like “I get my period every month!” I don’t think the OP should say anything unless it becomes an issue.

    2. Bagpuss*

      I don’t think OP needs to bring it up.
      I think that *if* her manager says anything or appears concerned about her being away from her desk too frequesntly then she can give thekind of short explanation Alison suggests, but it isnt something she needs to proactively bring up.
      While it’s correct that it is anything to be embarassed or ashamed about, it’s also not something that her manager needs to know about, unless there is any reason to think they have a concern.
      OP, your manager is probably far less aware than you are of how frequently you are away from your desk / in the bathroom, if your work is generally good they probably haven’t particualrly noticed that you areway a lot, thye are more likely to assume they just happened to miss you.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      I don’t think it’s necessary to bring it up at all unless the manager asks about it. This would be making a perfectly unremarkable thing into an issue. If they do ask you can go with the breezy “time of the month” or “just a little personal issue” comment and immediate subject change, but I doubt that anyone is noticing or timing these breaks.

    4. Guacamole Bob*

      This strikes me as overkill and making it a bigger deal than it would normally be.

      But then I realized I don’t know what kind of work OP does, and that might factor in a bit. OP doesn’t mention things like phone coverage, but I can see this being different if she’s an executive assistant or quick-turnaround (like an hour or two) work flows or if availability is otherwise super important.

      In my job I spend a good deal of time at my desk but I’m also up and about to meetings and to interact with coworkers around the building all day long. I maintain my own calendar and have a fair amount of freedom, and it would be deeply weird for my supervisor to even notice frequent bathroom trips, much less bring it up as an issue if my work wasn’t affected. This has been the case for most of my jobs, and I think is pretty typical for many office workers.

      But if the OP’s work flow is not like that, then there might be a reason to proactively raise it. If the reasons her supervisor stops by her desk are things like “A client needs this thing in the next 5 minutes” or “there’s a journalist on the phone with a deadline in half an hour” or “there’s a PR crisis unfolding on Twitter as we speak” and OP is nearly always at her desk unless she’s clocked out for a break, then I might follow this advice.

    5. BethDH*

      I wouldn’t bother. Honestly, I’d be more taken aback that a good employee thought I would be monitoring that than I would find it useful to have a heads up, unless she’s in a job where leaving her desk requires someone else to cover, which I think she would have mentioned.
      My guess is that being new to the role and relatively young, OP is worrying about overall impression and this is just one piece of that. Maybe she should ask her boss to give her some early feedback? AAM has talked before about not waiting till your annual review, even if you have to ask your manager proactively.
      I think she could say something like, “now that I’ve been in this role x time, could you give me some feedback on how I’m doing? Is there anything I should be doing differently?” If the boss has any concerns about how much she’s away from her desk, they would certainly mention it, and in a way that would let OP know whether it was an optics issue (not looking like she’s working hard) or a logistics issue (boss often needs something urgent at 10 am so if possible OP should avoid breaks right then).

    6. JSPA*

      Nope. Better to resolve to feel comfortable saying, “Yes, I have heavy periods” or “yes, I have heavy flow days” to the hypothetical man who’s not only clueless/underinformed about biology but tactless enough to enquire as to what is motivating bathroom trips.

      The female colleague who (at some risk to her own reputation for barriers) shares product or health tips that’ve been relevant to them, or tells you that if you ever need extra supplies, they always have some, or whatever) is another matter. Doesn’t matter if it’s a secretary or a CEO, women have been known to check in with other women since…well, forever, maybe?…out of solidarity.

      If you’re comfortable with your status quo, “Kind of you to offer support, but everything is fine, thanks” is returning that kindness. Even if it gets old, or you don’t like to know that anyone notices. (People who share a bathroom where the used products are jettisoned are more likely to notice. When one has one’s period, one’s sense of smell is dulled, RE drying blood and related scents. I know I notice when the in-stall disposal can is in heavy use.) And if there’s part of you that is open to additional suggestions from others who’ve been there, you can add, “I’ll think about it” or “yes, I’ve been through the options with my GP.” A lot of women have had experiences with heavy flow, whether during perimenopause, due to medical conditions, or genetics. And exactly none of us have lived long enough to try literally every mod that’s out there, be they devices, diet, pills, patches, flow managing options, etc.

    7. Willow*

      I would find it super, super weird if an employee popped in to let me know she was having her period. Unless she was asking to leave I guess. Even then, no reason to bring it up specifically.

      Or any other similarly private issue. No one pops in to say they go #2 every day for a few minutes longer than the other bathroom breaks.

      1. Jennifer Juniper*

        I would be seriously grossed out – and I’m a woman. I don’t need or want to know why someone’s in the bathroom longer than normal. As long as they get the work done, who cares?

        And if anyone came to me about this employee’s bathroom habits, I’d tell them to quit monitoring their colleague’s toilet habits and get back to work. Those people are seriously sick.

    8. VictorianCowgirl*

      I really don’t think she needs to announce her bodily functions. You wouldn’t say, oh sometimes I poop and pee, don’t worry about it. Why announce it at all? She can keep her privacy if she chooses. This is really strange to me also on the level that these men know how periods work. It’s awfully strange to think they don’t. I don’t get this at all.

  22. Jemima Bond*

    A handwritten application seems so weird to me. Is it really still a thing? I can imagine it in maybe casual retail/food service where they could be employing a younger/more casual workforce and recruiting a bit more “on the hoof”…but even if they think not everyone has a computer, the job centre would normally offer a solution including computer access/internet at the local library. But if they email you a soft copy document why would they think you can’t fill it out on a computer? Why would they want handwriting, do some companies have graphologists on staff lol?!?!
    Like I said upthread (it’s a bit nested) I would never submit a handwritten form unless specifically requested to do so (which would be a red flag for a crackpot company that wants to analyse my handwriting or some such nonsense) – I might enquire before sending it in typed, assuming the form was formatted wrongly initially so they could correct it. Handwriting a job application seems…not part of the professional world to me. I’d expect it to be binned and/or some kindly worded feedback about that’s not what we do in grown-up jobs.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        My friend had to do this for a large school district for a support job recently.

        Print out form. Hand fill out. Scan and email.

        Don’t assume every company has up to the minute software or decent to support to make things seemless. The school district knows the pdf isn’t formatted correctly. They don’t care.

      2. doreen*

        And other places. I work for a large state agency, and every time I get interviewed for a promotion, I must fill out the same application form as an external applicant would complete ( why, I don’t know). Someone, at some point in the last 15 years, could have revised the form either as a fillable PDF or a Word document ( as many other have been revised) but they did not. So they take a hard copy of the form and scan it to me – which I must then print and fill out by hand.

    1. Pretzelgirl*

      My large company receives hand written applications all the time. In fact when I interviewed they just handed me to the app to fill out in the waiting room. Many places still want an actual application on file.

    2. Lynn Marie*

      My business works with extremely large corporations whose names you would recognize and they all to some extent or another still require the printout, sign, scan, send process for routine contracts and agreements.

    3. Gaia*

      I’m really going to push back on your use of “grown up” jobs. Every job can be a grown up job if a grown up has that job. It’s incredibly classiest to suggest some jobs are not “grown up” – especially as that usually translates to service and labor jobs both of which are not immune to hard copy applications that get filled out by hand.

    4. Jadelyn*

      We just barely managed to wean our Chicago office off of hand-written application forms last year, after much contention. They only finally stopped after we instituted an “all applications MUST be in the online database, so if you take a paper application, you, hiring manager, need to go in and copy everything into the online application on the candidate’s behalf AND scan and send us the written application for their file” policy. When they started having to spend their own time copying info from the written form to the online form, they finally started giving candidates the online form directly.

      Which is all to say, you’d be AMAZED at how resistant some people can be about changing their ways. It has always been paper, thus it will always be paper, from now until the end of time, amen.

  23. Rebecca*

    #2 – the company I work for is for profit, and this is their policy. It wasn’t always that way; almost 10 years ago, the company I worked for was purchased by another company. Cost of living and merit increases stopped. I now earn about $1.00 more per hour than I did nearly 10 years ago. I stay because my pay rate was at the top end then, I have Cadillac health insurance, a 25 minute commute (at slowest times), and a reasonable work week of 40 hours, no more, no less, and a decent block of vacation time. We get a bonus in December, if profits warrant it, but it in no way makes up for yearly merit or cost of living increases. Every so often, as in years go by in between, an increase of 25 or 50 cents per hour might be given to certain workers, but that’s about it as far as I can tell.

    I don’t believe this is disclosed during the hiring process. We’ve ended up with a level of older employees and a revolving door of younger employees, who soon figure out that no COL increases or merit increases are forthcoming, so after they’re trained and have a year or so under their belts, they move on. This keeps labor costs down, but I don’t think the company realizes, or if they do realize, cares what will happen when the older level employees retire. Basically, we’re spending a lot of time training people who end up leaving within 2 years, and I don’t blame them! It’s a terrible policy, and one that I believe managers should push back on. But when it comes down to it, if the owners or board members won’t change it, this is what you have. If the candidate asks, you should tell them the truth, but don’t be surprised if you get candidates who are not exactly the level you want.

    1. Professional Merchandiser*

      Ugh. The company I work for doesn’t give raises, either. I didn’t realize that at first because my previous company had given raises every year (sometimes only twenty five cents an hour, but still…) Most merchandising companies don’t give raises every year so I didn’t think much when I didn’t get one the first year. I asked someone who had worked there a long time and she told me they gave raises every five years, and good ones at that. Well, I’ve been here seven years, and no raise at all. I finally asked my supervisor about this and she told me they give no raises at all, had stopped giving them 10 years ago. The clincher is, when they hire new people they start out at a dollar an hour more than current employees. Really kills incentive.

    2. Samwise*

      Yep! We’re at the mercy of the state legislature, although most years our division does have money to give to some people. Some years ago I got a very large bump (took on a batch of new duties, which I no longer do) and have had very few raises since then, outside the tiny across-the-board raises so very magnanimously tossed to us by the legislature. I make more than all but the top leadership in my department. I can walk to work, I have good health insurance, reasonable work hours, and, lately, a pretty flexible schedule (new leadership, yay!), I like my work and my colleagues. But we too get young people who just have to move on after a couple of years if they want a real raise. (Essentially we are training folks for the rest of the university.) It’s a real problem, because we are always hiring and training, and of course someone has to pick up their work while we hire.

    3. wittyrepartee*

      I thank the heavens for my union. They got us a 5% raise for the next 5 years, and some backpay with our last contract. It’s not what you’d get in the private sector, but it’s so nice to know that I can expect increases every year that slightly exceed what I’d need for a strict cost of living increase.

    4. Quiltrrr*

      Yep, I work at a for-profit company, and after I grumbled about my tiny raise, I was told that the raise is kept at half the cost of living increase, so that you would get a yearly cost of living increase, but take 2 years to do it. There’s a lot of turnover here too. I’m not at a level where I get bonuses (managers and higher), so I’m actively looking. And this is a company that isn’t hurting for money, either.

  24. Oregano*

    OP #1: If it’s ever brought up, you could also add, “Sometimes a medical problem flares up and needs frequent bathroom attention.” Then the cold stare Alison suggested. I find I have much better luck being taken seriously when it’s a “medical issue” instead of “period.”

    1. Essess*

      This exactly. I don’t understand why you need to give details to the boss about the reason for the bathroom breaks. It’s none of his business. You simply have a condition that occasionally requires more frequent bathroom breaks. If you think there’s been some eyebrow-raising about your absences then you can stop by his desk during one of those time frames and let him know you were concerned that he might have some concerns about you being away from your desk and that you wanted to make sure that he understood that you might be away from your desk more frequently for a couple days due to a minor medical condition but that you were making sure that you were still meeting your work tasks.

    2. Third or Nothing!*

      When I have to take a sick day or I’m just off my game due to my period, I tell my boss my chronic illness flared up. He doesn’t need a detailed back story about PCOS and endometriosis, he just needs to hear that I know I am not performing as well as I should but it’s a temporary thing and should resolve itself soon. If OP’s boss comments on her more frequent bathroom breaks, she could take that approach.

      1. Quill*

        Off topic but I didn’t know you could have PCOS & Endometriosis at once, how do you know when you’ve got both?

        (I understand if this is TMI/too personal but I am currently having issues with my previously well managed PCOS causing pain and inflammation throughout my body… and having a fairly disjointed latest two weeks at work because of it.)

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          The only way to definitively know if you have endo is a visual diagnosis done through laproscopy. You can totally have both. My gyno was in the process of diagnosing when I found out I was pregnant with my miracle baby. Surprise! There’s still a high likelihood that I have a mild case of endo due to my symptoms, but I don’t have an official diagnosis since we had to stop the process.

            1. Third or Nothing!*

              Thanks. Actually childbirth seems to have helped tremendously. So has cutting out dairy & sugar and increasing exercise. I actually only have terrible I-Have-To-Leave-Work-Due-To-This days a few times a year. No more curling up in the fetal position for 2-3 days at a time! Yay! At this point I don’t feel it’s worth it to try to get an official diagnosis – cost/benefit doesn’t work out now that I feel better.

    3. Alianora*

      I don’t think a cold stare is necessary right off the bat. Why not be matter-of-fact to start out? If you act like it isn’t a big deal, your supervisor might take his cue from you.

      I do think “medical issue” is useful wording in case the OP is uncomfortable alluding to periods directly.

    4. Consuela Schlepkiss*

      The cold stare part is unnecessary in a first conversation, I’d think. No problem has actually arisen, and this really seems to be about being prepped in case it becomes one. But even at that point, the line you give should be sufficient for a first conversation.

    5. Oh No She Di'int*

      Yeah, I’d be very surprised if any boss took this much beyond a sort of general observation of “I’ve noticed you haven’t been at your desk, is everything ok?” type of observation. Then some handwaving answer about having to go to the bathroom should be plenty.

      Speaking as a boss myself, I DO NOT want to hear about anyone’s period, their bowel movements, their urination, their phlegm, their mucus, their dandruff, or their gas. There’s nothing shameful about any of it, I just don’t need to know. Maybe it’s just me, but honestly, the vaguest hint of “needing the bathroom” would be plenty to stop my line of questioning dead in its tracks.

      1. Willow*

        Thank you! I had to formally request that my staff specifically not inform me of the details of their ailments when requesting time off. Just let me know you are not feeling well, unless there is a specific reason I need to know what it is. I don’t care, and I really don’t want to know.

        Same with doctors appointments! I don’t need to know your elderly mother in law is having a colonoscopy and you need to take her! I just need to know you wont be here…

    6. VictorianCowgirl*

      Or a simple “why do you ask?”. Because really, who would ask someone about their bathroom habits unless it was affecting their work??? And would a man be asked if he was sometimes using the bathroom more? I just think it’s really unnecessary and a bad precedent to set. There should still be privacy boundaries at work. Curiosity doesn’t give people the right to private medical information.

    7. Baru Cormorant*

      I’d just say “Sometimes I need to use the bathroom…” and let them fill in the blank why that might be. I don’t see the need to escalate unless they do.

  25. An informed opinion*

    I don’t believe that the comp policy you’re complaining about keeps your employer’s costs down. It costs employers 33% of a worker’s annual salary to hire a replacement if that worker leaves. In dollar figures, the replacement cost is $15,000 per person for an employee earning a median salary of $45,000 a year. That’s according to one source, but others confirm that churn costs employers money. The reasons that owners/board members insist on counterproductive policies like this boil down to emotion, and refusal to face inconvenient facts. I’m glad you recognize the problem, because you’re motivated to look for other jobs, and you have time to find them. Good luck!

  26. akiwiinlondon*

    OP #4

    I don’t think I’ve come across this in applications but I find any PDF form I’m expected to print, fill and scan is just too much effort now.
    We ran out of printer ink at home and haven’t replaced this as we print things so rarely – so I default to finding a way to type onto the PDF (and even figured out how to add a signature when it’s been needed).

    As Alison mentioned I doubt any employer is thinking too much either way on how you return the form so just do what’s easiest for you – but I’d suggest would you really want to work somewhere which took it as a negative if you worked around the lack of ‘form fill’ ? If they take you out of the running for something so trivial it’s probably a blessing.

    1. Joielle*

      Same! We moved into our current house almost 5 years ago and just… never hooked up the printer. It hasn’t been necessary since then and I’m sure the ink has long since dried up. Any employer that would look poorly on a candidate for avoiding printing something is living in the past.

    2. anon for this*

      I got rid of my printer during my last move thinking if I needed one I would just purchase a new one. Well, almost a year and I haven’t needed one yet. The few times I’ve needed to scan something I just use a scanner app on my phone and print to PDF works for anything I need to save.

  27. Samwise*

    Please don’t wait til the offer stage, especially if you’re counting on HR to reveal it — they may not! If I were your candidate, I’d be pretty po’d that I’d gotten all the way to the offer stage to discover that the offer was unacceptable and we could all have saved time by not going through with the interviewing. Even worse if I don’t find out til after I start working there; I am not going to look favorably on the manager who left out such an important piece of info. Why would you want a new employee who starts out feeling angry and aggrieved?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I agree. Don’t wait until the offer stage. At that point, applicants have invested time into the process, probably taken time off work if they’re currently employed, among other things. I’d be really annoyed if I found out there’s no raises given and the company waited until the offer stage to tell me.

  28. Joielle*

    I think you hit the nail on the head here – “if HR doesn’t think this is a shameful policy, I don’t see how I would get in trouble by disclosing.”

    If I were you, I’d try to bring it up earlier than the offer stage, maybe in one of the earlier interviews, when you’re talking about the role in general. I imagine you’d describe the major responsibilities of the role, your supervisory style, the vacation/sick policy, etc – so just add a brief sentence about the compensation policy there. “As you know, the salary for this position is X, we don’t give annual raises but we do have annual bonuses, which are based on performance and capped at X% of your salary.” (or whatever)

    If you do get flak about disclosing the policy, that would actually be a great opportunity to push back on it. Act confused about why you wouldn’t tell a candidate about a policy set by leadership. Make them say they’re worried about losing good candidates because of a bad policy.

    1. boo bot*

      “‘As you know, the salary for this position is X, we don’t give annual raises but we do have annual bonuses, which are based on performance and capped at X% of your salary.'”

      I think this phrasing is perfect. Tying it to the bonuses gives you some cover: it’s an… unusual feature of your compensation package so you’re explaining it! Definitely make management tell you not to say it, if that’s what they want – at the very least, you don’t have to proactively cover for them.

  29. TexasThunder*

    Re OP1, a simple “I need to visit the bathroom more periodically. Female stuff.” should cover it.

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      Nix the “female stuff”. Really none of their business. In fact I wouldn’t answer any questions about it at all. If they’re so crass to ask about someone using the bathroom a few more times a day a week out of the month, they can be met with a raised eyebrow. I really dislike OP feeling like she has to disclose something private just in case her boss is meddling or curious. It’s a bad precedent to set.

      OP, you don’t have to tell people about your personal bodily or medical situations at work.

      1. Never Been There, Never Done That*

        Given the gender ratio I think it is super important to not include the “female stuff.” Definitely none of there business and, I dunno, in brings in possible sexism when that is the last thing you want. If it was a mostly female office like the one I am in it would be fine.

  30. Amethystmoon*

    #5 We always have to make sure that someone is there to cover for us, and that they are aware we will be gone and are trained on any new tasks. We also have to get it approved by the manager ahead of time (though not drastically so, I had to take PTO for a couple of hours last winter because my car battery died and needed repairs). So it does definitely depend on your employer and their policies.

  31. Lily*

    We had this terrible older male teacher who would let people use the toilet during lessons “unless it is a female problem.” So, every time a girl asked to go to the toilet, he asked her whether it was “a female problem”, and if she answered yes, he’d let her go. I figured since I was female, any bathroom use would be to take care of “a female problem” and always answered accordingly. If he wants to ask embarassing questions in front of the whole class, it’s not me who is embarrassed by it.
    I found it terrible stupid. These were 15 to 17 y olds, they wouldn’t have wanted to go to the toilet during classes unless they really needed to. They were more likely to be ashamed in front of their classmates for having a “weak bladder” or other health stuff than to throw a party at the toilet. And nobody concentrates well when they need to use the bathroom. Better let them step out for 3 minutes.

    1. Jamie*

      That is unconscionable. I hope at some point parents complained and this was addressed by tptb.

      1. Lily*

        Nope. The parents were all busy complaining about the even more terrible stuff, like him throwing things at students and in at least two cass slapping a student. At least the second issue stopped after parents threatened legal action.

    2. VictorianCowgirl*

      Wow it’s good I never had this teacher. I was extremely anti-authoritarian. I would just leave and hash it out with the principal. Enough girls do that, and he has a problem.

    3. VlookupsAreMyLife*

      Unfortunately I, this is still the same for many students today. My high school kids get 3 bathroom passes per class for the ENTIRE year! Oh, and the passes can’t be used during the first or last 15 minutes of class. So, you’re supposed to go in the middle of a lecture?? That makes sense. Passing time between classes is only 5 minutes & the campus is HUGE!

  32. Elmyra Duff*

    I once had a really awful, terrible male manager pull me into his office to ask why I was in the bathroom four times in one day. Like, he straight up said, “What are you doing in there?” I told him I was having a heavy period, which came with diarrhea. He never questioned me again.

    Really, that job was just toxic and I would go in the bathroom to play Farmville so I didn’t sit in my cube and scream all day. ‍♀️

    1. Jamie*

      One, who the hell keeps track of how often others are in the bathroom? Unless it’s an individual bathroom and it’s always in use when you go to use it I cannot imagine mustering up the energy to care.

      Also…TIL that going to the bathroom 4x in one day is considered remarkable. I guess I’d be an outlier but that’s a totally normal number imo.

      1. Elmyra Duff*

        It was the kind of place where they monitored everyone for everything just so they could do shit like this. It was bizarre. The supervisor sat at the front of the room, noticed I had left four times, and then talked to the manager. I made a point to check in with the supervisor every time I had to leave the room for like a month after that. They eventually fired me, which was the best thing that ever happened to me there.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Also…TIL that going to the bathroom 4x in one day is considered remarkable.

        I mean, I can pee four times in a MORNING.

    2. Quill*

      Oh yeah, at toxic job I would regularly hide in the bathroom.

      Of course, anxiety came with intestinal complaints so…

    3. wittyrepartee*

      Yeah, this mystifies me too. I kind of assume that anyone who occasionally has days where they need to run to the bathroom a lot is just having a day where “something’s not right” *makes circular motions over stomach area*. Men and women occasionally have days where there’s just… a lot of pooping.

    4. Willow*

      That’s crazy. Is 4 times a day even out of line? I pee more than that in an average workday….

    5. Me*

      I’m a huge tea drinker, with the inevitable results. Invariably, in each job, my caffeine dependence comes up as a topic of conversation. I tell people that, just as a mathematician is a device that turns coffee into theorems, I turn tea into (work output). I make it very clear that copious tea drinking is pretty much a guarantee that I’m both happy and productive :).

      So, no, only 4 toilet breaks in a day? That would be the sign of my impending resignation.

  33. the_scientist*

    I wanted to respond to #3, because I found myself in a VERY similar position in my first job out of grad school. I was hired at a non-profit, working on a very small, grant-funded research team. I knew because of the size of the team that I’d be a “jack of all trades” of sorts, and that part of my role (as a Research Associate) would be handling things that would, in a larger organization, be handled by an administrative professional (organizing and scheduling meetings, credit card reconciliation, invoicing, etc.). Like OP #3, I quickly realized that meeting planning and coordination and other administrative work was taking up the bulk of my time, leaving me very little time to do the work that I was ostensibly hired to do, and that I went to grad school for. I did talk with my boss, and to her credit, she did her absolute best to try to carve out more time in my schedule for the more interesting work. But ultimately, I did have to move on to another job and another organization to find something that suited me long-term. I was able to find a much better position after about 1.5 years in my post-grad school job, and I’ve been moving up in that new company quite steadily ever since. So don’t be afraid to raise this with your boss, but also, keep those expectations reasonable, and don’t be afraid to do what’s best for your career.

    1. OP#3*

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I plan to talk to my boss soon, and I hope we can work something out. But I am also keeping an eye out on some job postings.

      1. Lynn Marie*

        Just maybe, IF she has hands on experience doing it, your boss may have suggestions about how you can streamline the event planning since it’s relatively new to you.I feel the same way about it – it’s not something I care to do, don’t think I’m particularly good at it, and it takes an enormous amount of time that people who have never done it don’t realize. I admire people who enjoy it and are good at it.

      2. Consultant Catie*

        OP#3, I was just thinking — is it possible that the meeting/event planning part of your job is intended to be a smaller percentage of your weekly tasks, but you’re spending too much time on it? In my experience in event and meeting planning, it can become a bit of a black hole for your time. It can be easy to spend all the available time on your plate checking, double checking, thinking of contingencies, and making each touch absolutely perfect. I wonder if you’re planning every meeting to the n’th degree, when you could be spending less time and effort on each event and still exceed expectations?

  34. (Mr.) Cajun2core*


    Speaking as a 51 year old male, I can tell you that the subtle comments may go over a man’s head. However, you can always use the phrase, “female issues” which I am sure most men will catch and quickly back away from.

    Hope this helps.

    1. VictorianCowgirl*

      Or not, because it’s none of anyone’s business. No one needs to be questioning their employee’s bathroom use unless it impacts their work on a regular basis, and no employee should feel they need to disclose private medical or bodily information to their boss.

  35. Harvey 6-3.5*

    I would adjust Alison’s script slightly. Rather than “cooly”, I would say it matter of factly, since it is simply a matter of fact. I also would leave it there with no further discussion needed, and simply repeat it if they aren’t hearing you. I would not explain further that it is not a medical problem, just a normal part of life, because really.

    1. Observer*

      Well, it’s actually NOT normal, whether there is a bigger problem or not. As @Phoenix Programmer notes, changing every hour is the level at which doctors and hospitals want you in the ER. The OP is changing even more often than that.

      From a work point of view I don’t think it’s a big deal, and should be handled matter of factly, though.

      1. Myrin*

        For what it’s worth, OP doesn’t say that these frequent bathroom trips are for changing her tampon/pad, just that her periods are “intense” and that that’s what prompts the need for the bathroom – I actually thought she might be dealing with diarrhoea or similar (which is incidentally the only period symptom I myself experience, too, which is why I chose it as an example, but it might be any kind of symptom).

        1. Observer*

          Still not normal.

          I would still be matter of fact about it, and leave it with no further explanation needed. Assuming anyone even noticed, which I suspect no one has.

  36. joriley*

    Alison, I don’t know if this might be a good Ask the Readers question or rather something for any open thread, but could we talk about what raises looks like at different places? My company gives a “merit” raise, where the top is usually about 2% per year. (I say “merit” in quotes because the difference between a high performer’s raise and a low performer’s raise is maybe $500.) I’ve been here for all of my post-college career, so I don’t really have anything to compare this to. Could we maybe do something similar to the “share your salary” posts that have come up before?

    1. WellRed*

      I would love something like this. Haven’t had a COLA increase (or any raise) in 8 years and all the advice is about negotiating merit raises or salary with job offers. I have no idea where to begin to make my case or how I should calculate the amount (assuming I am asked for a figure).

    2. Kiwiii*

      I think this is important, too! Until the job I started a few weeks ago, I’ve only had jobs with no/very minimal raises (2% or less at pretty low-paying jobs), and one was specifically COLA and applied to the entire pay-grade (in that everyone including those who had yet to be hired in the grade would get the new rate, which ended up being incredibly terrible for morale). I know that NewJob does both COLA and merit raises but I don’t know what to expect or what to ask for realistically or where to look.

    3. Never Been There, Never Done That*

      Excellent Idea, joriley. It has only been my reading AAM for the past two years that I learned that it’s not uncommon other places give raises, like real raises! Seriously, I have been at this non-profit for almost 20 years. When I started the pay seemed okay, there was a COLA and additional small raise (2% or so) the insurance was (and still is good) and you got six weeks of Earned Time the minute you started. Totally awesome, right? Well, I think I have just sunk into complacency over the years and not paid attention. The COLA and raises dried up about five years ago and since I can pay the bills and (obviously) don’t have a lot of ambition I was okay with it. The people I work with are like a second family in a good way, I can slip out early if my work is done and dress however I want. But over the past two years my eyes have opened and I am PISSED OFF because I could be making a lot more money elsewhere. (BTW I’m a nurse.) I am job hunting on the down low and getting the heck out as soon as I can. Man this topic hits home for me, sorry for rattling on.

  37. CM*

    OP#1: I definitely would not bring it up proactively, especially since 75% of the time you’re at your desk.

    OP#2: I would disclose this during the interview process even if the candidate doesn’t ask — I think it’s part of having a transparent conversation about salary. If they come work there and then learn they’ll never get a salary increase, they will feel blindsided and will leave sooner.

    OP#3: You can think it to yourself, but avoid using the word “duped” or otherwise implying you were misled when you talk to your boss. Your expectations didn’t match up with reality, but event planning was in your job description. And even if you were misled, saying so will put your boss on the defensive.

    OP#4: The employer will think “This person filled in the form.”

    OP #5, have fun in Europe!

    1. OP#3*

      Thanks for the comment, but it was my grandboss who actually used the word “duped.” She can be quite candid, which I appreciate!

  38. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

    Let the candidates know – some might be okay with this situation (spouse has a really good job and this is just extra cash, a lower income guarantees continued spousal support in the case of a divorced person, etc.).

    That said, I once worked for a firm that did not give out cost of living raises and this was not a non-profit (far from it: offices coast to coast with expansion before I left; and my first exposure to the open floor plan with NO cubicle walls).

    Still being rather new to the working world, I called up the Ministry of Labour and asked if that was legal: it was.

    On top of that, there was no formal review process either so no performance reviews. I once asked for a raise based on my performance and was told I was at the top of my pay scale, which was never published. Heck, they never posted internal job openings either.

    There was an annual Xmas bonus and employee of the month cash (if you were chosen) but that was it.

    After three years at the same pitiful salary, sad benefits and meagre vacation, I left for greener pastures. Thing was, this place had no problem keeping people. There was not that much turnover and plenty of folks got their five-year, ten-year and more anniversary gifts.

  39. Le Sigh*

    I agree with others. Don’t rely on HR (which it doesn’t sound like you can) and please tell them before the offer stage. I’m at mid-level manager stage and raises matter greatly to me. If I got all the way to the offer — having given out my references, taken time for 2-3 interviews (maybe more) and all the other work of interviewing — I would feel a bit sideswiped to find this out at the offer stage. This isn’t like finding out they offer 2 weeks vacation instead of 3 weeks — this is like finding out they offer no sick time or vacation (i.e., something the majority of jobs I’m looking at offer).

  40. Gabite*

    #4 – Ms. Green, your answer about over-thinking is pretty callous and confusing. It feels like every move one makes during the job application and interview process is an opportunity to make a good impression or to boof things up. The person who asked this question is obliviously a serious person who takes this process seriously. Your terse answer with no supporting evidence is unhelpful, but is it another way to look at it.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m not sure what you mean here, since I didn’t tell the OP she’s overthinking it (although I do think she is), nor did I think my answer was particularly terse. These are, by definition, short answer posts.

      I’m also not sure what supporting evidence you’re looking for. There are, as far as I know, no studies on this, only experience.

      1. metageeky*

        To support Allison here, there’s a good chance the hiring committee may never even see the PDF with the fields. The details may be entered into a database and the actual application form filed away for time eternal.

  41. Zin*

    In an environment where it’s possible to do this without risking significant repercussions:

    I’ve stopped catering to the “oh this is awkward” mentality over the years. People with certain organs have periods. It’s not a “medical issue”, it’s not weird, inappropriate or sensitive information. It’s a biological fact that roughly half the human species experiences. Call it what it is and move on. Expect others to get over it. If it’s somehow shocking or uncomfortable to them, know they’re the ones who are weird, not you.

    1. Willow*

      Nah… it would be pretty weird to bring up the fact that you were on your period to your boss without any reason to do so. Just because it is a normal experience for women doesn’t mean its normal professional conversation. Same reason you wouldn’t proactively tell your boss your going to be in the bathroom 30 mins because your feeling constipated today.

      And it does sound like a medical issue here. The OP mentions it is an hourly reprieve, and that her Dr. is aware etc. etc. Still don’t think there is any reason to proactively announce she is on her period though. I cant imagine ever questioning an employee who responded “in the restroom” to “where have you been?”

  42. tab*

    LW1 reminds me of time years ago when I was heading to the bathroom with my purse. My colleague and friend asked me, “Where are you going?” I answered, “To the bathroom.” He asked incredulously, “With your purse?” My deadpan response, “Yes, Jeff.” I could almost see the light bulb go on over his head when he said, “Ohhhhhh…” I laughed and said, “Not everyone knows Jeff, maybe you can put it in the company newsletter.” We had a good laugh, and that was the last time I took my purse to the bathroom. Good times.

  43. Jennifer*

    #1 Alison is right. Good managers aren’t going to care that a stellar employee needs extra breaks or isn’t at their desk every single time they stop by. If he hasn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t worry about it. If he ever does, I think Alison’s suggestion about being open about the fact that you need the bathroom more often during your period is the best way to go. If he’s a fiftyish man, I’m guessing he’ll drop it quickly because he doesn’t want to talk about it.

  44. Nicole*

    Can we please, pleeeease, cut it with the period shame? It’s a natural thing that roughly 50% of the population deals with and I’m pretty sure every living human being cares about at least one person who does, has, or will menstruate in their lifetime.
    We should be treating it as any other matter-of-fact temporary condition. “When I’m on period, I need to visit the bathroom more often” should be just as acceptable as something like “While my ankle is sprained I’ll have to take the elevator.”
    If it makes someone feel uncomfortable, too bad. They’re the weirdo who was watching your bathroom use in the first place.
    OP1 this isn’t directed specifically at you because it doesn’t seem like it’s been an issue, but in general this needs to change.

    1. Cranky Neighbot*

      I agree with you, and it’s also fine to have boundaries around discussing this.

      I’ve felt pressure to talk about things like this (and various other personal topics) to be a good feminist or whatever.

      Anyway, especially agreed here: “If it makes someone feel uncomfortable, too bad. They’re the weirdo who was watching your bathroom use in the first place.”

    2. Jennifer*

      It’s not “period shame” to just not necessarily want everyone at work knowing what’s going on in your pants. Some people are just more private about their periods and that’s okay too. I don’t really like the recent notion that if you aren’t loud and proud about your period every time it happens you are somehow ashamed.

    3. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      There are lot of things that I do in the bathroom that A) I don’t want to talk about, and B) I definitely don’t want to hear my coworkers talk about. Many of those things 100% of the population deals with. I will happily loan a tampon to whoever needs one and I don’t object to occasionally swapping war stories and tips with fellow sufferers if we aren’t overheard, but TMI is TMI.

    4. Willow*

      100% of the population shits. An unknown % at the office.

      Nearly 0% want to talk about it with their boss. None of this seems like “period shame” at all…

    5. VictorianCowgirl*

      It’s not shame, it’s discretion, the same as you wouldn’t announce you were going to the bathroom to have a bowel movement or announce that you sharted. Manners in society involve courteous discretion about bodily functions, and that’s ok, and it’s not out of shame.

      1. Astrid*

        I totally agree, but just once I would love to use the phrase “surfing the crimson wave.”

    6. Lilysparrow*

      I’ve been having periods long enough to feel like announcing your period is kind of like announcing that your belly button is an outie. Yep, you have standard-issue parts that do standard things. Congratulations.

      Nobody wants to hear about your belly button at work, either.

  45. Emmie*

    Call centers monitor OPs Aux time (unavailable time), call duration, inbound / outbound call volume, bounced calls, etc…. Her manager will identify an issue probably after looking at call metrics over time. He will deal with the problem by approaching it as a performance issue until OP raises the medical issue. I recommend that OP proactively reach out to her manager. She shouldn’t have to do this in a normal office environment, though call centers are a little different.
    I recommend OP approach her manager with some version of this: I have a medical issue that flares up periodically. It does not impact my ability to work, but it does require I take more frequent trips to the bathroom (or 4 ten minute breaks throughout those days.) I wanted to flag this for you now. Do you think I should go through an ADA accommodation request? Or is this something we can manage without that? In my assessment, this happens on five workdays a month, but I am fine the other 15 workdays.
    If your manager decides to handle this himself, I recommend following up with a “thank you for talking to me about this today. It was such a difficult topic to bring up to you, and you handled it well. I will take those breaks on the five days a month we talked about. If you ever have any issues, I can provide medical documentation, and go through the accommodations process.” You shouldn’t have to give him the warm and fuzzies, but it is a professional way to document OP’s conversation.

    1. Observer*

      The OP is not in a call center, though. What makes sense in that type of environment does not make sense in most other office type environments.

  46. Quill*

    No advice for OP 1, just sympathy, as my uterus also hates the world in general and me in specific.

    I’d reserve the explanation for if he needs to be told he’s being too nosy too. In the past I’ve had some luck (mostly with teachers, since my bosses were seldom that concerned with me needing more bathroom breaks) by just deadpan saying “don’t worry about it, it will be over by the end of the week and won’t happen again until next month,” or otherwise edging the line of “Any information I give you will very quickly verge into TMI.”

  47. Oh No She Di'int*

    #4 – So I am going to differ from the mainstream of responses here.

    I actually DO think that it potentially makes a positive impression to have turned the PDF into a fillable form. I don’t think that whether you do that or not is going to DETERMINE whether you get the job or not, but I do think that a thousand little things during the job application process can all add up to build up a good picture of yourself. Similarly, using a beautiful, well-typeset font on a resume is not enough IN ITSELF to get you a job, but it’s one small detail that helps increase your chances.

    In my business, we use a PDF contract form that we haven’t bothered to make into a fillable form. Not because we don’t know we can but because we have about 18 million more pressing things to take care of. Some of our vendors nevertheless figure out all kinds of ways to fill out the contract electronically. And yes, there is a little “bump” in how you view their efficiency and savviness. Are we going to fire the people that printed out the form, signed it, and scanned it? Of course not. But yes, the impression of those people is slightly different.

    I can imagine that this would make a bigger difference in a small business where the person receiving resumes is the person who’s actually going to make the hire. It might make less of a difference if it’s all going through 14 layers of bureaucracy anyway. Your mileage may vary.

  48. we're basically gods*

    LW1: If questioned once about why I don’t look good/am not showing up for something/keep going to the bathroom, I politely tell the person that I’m not feeling well. If I’m asked again, the rules of politeness have already been breached, and the person gets told exactly what’s going on with me.

  49. DataGirl*

    LW2, please tell the candidates. I was hired at a non-profit at less than I was making in a for-profit company- I took the job because I really needed to get out of a toxic workplace and the job seemed great. I assume just like everywhere else I’d ever worked, I’d get merit/col increases as time went on so the initial cut wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t until a year later when other people were getting col increases and I didn’t that my manager told me I was at the top of my ‘range’ and would never get a raise. I’m still mad about it and have been looking for a new job ever since. It’s probably going to be worse for them when they have to try and fill my position than if they had just gotten someone who would stick around from the beginning.

  50. morning glory*

    OP1, please do NOT follow Alison’s advice and say “Like many women, one week a month I will need to visit the bathroom more frequently than the rest of the time” and then stare at him coolly. I am really surprised and disappointed in this advice.

    1. There’s no reason to stare coolly at a manager who hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong other than fail to grasp your first sentence. It’s a weirdly hostile reaction that is also not going to lead to a positive outcome.

    2. This is not a common thing for a lot of women, it sounds like this is an outlier situation. You would be doing a disservice other women in this male-dominated workplace by implying they’ll also be away from their desks more frequently one week every month.

    Menstruation has sometimes been a basis of discrimination against women in the workplace. I think the best outcome for both you and the other women there would be to refer to it as a non-serious medical issue that will occasionally make you need to go to the restroom more.

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      I don’t usually disagree with the advice but in this case, I wouldn’t personally bring being a woman into it. “I have a health issue that occasionally keeps me away from my desk. It’s not very often and I’m working with a doctor on getting it resolved. Thanks for understanding.”

    2. Crooked Bird*

      I think you’re right that it’s somewhat of an outlier, and a lot of people are glossing over that. It’s not absolutely uncommon if I understand correctly, but it is actually “here’s something particular about me” rather than “here’s what periods are, dude.”

    3. Alianora*

      Honestly, I agree that this would come across as hostile.

      I think the script is ok without the cool stare, but I would rather just say “I need to use the bathroom more frequently because of a medical condition,” if the boss is squeamish or sexist, or in most workplaces I would just say, “I need to use the bathroom more frequently when I’m on my period.” I don’t think making allusions to female troubles is the ideal way to approach it.

      1. Oh No She Di'int*

        I think Alison is providing a script for an escalated case. But in fact, I think that an escalation is very unlikely. As I said upthread, I just don’t think most bosses are all that eager to get into the medical details of their employees. Most of us get enough of that information *without even asking for it* that we’re HAPPY to have someone just say, “Oh I’ve just been in the bathroom a lot but I’m fine” and leave it at that. That would be enough to make me back out of that conversation fast enough to leave skid marks.

    4. Liz*

      Thank you.
      I really disagreed with Allison’s advise to specifically call it out as “I’m on my period”.
      Not because of period shaming, just because of privacy and normal office boundaries.
      If you had another medical condition, how much would you be sharing with the people in your office? Would you get into diagnosis names and specific symptoms? Or would you just say “I have this medical condition and it’s creating some symptoms that I’m working on with my doctor”? (Which is what Allison advises for every other personal medical condition posters have asked about.)

  51. OP#5*

    Thank you for the advice Alison!

    I do think it’s reasonable to offer to serve out my notice period after my vacation if necessary. That said, I really don’t need to transition any work. I work in a team of 5 people who are all able to cover each other’s work. On top of that, there is only ever enough work to keep maybe 3 of us busy on any given day. So hopefully no prolonged/unique notice period will be necessary. That said, I’d still love to hear what the other readers think!

    1. Sloan Kittering*

      It can totally vary on industry, in some places this would be fine, in others a major faux pas. I even know of one org that has refused to let people take vacation that is scheduled during the notice period. They don’t have a lot of incentive to work with you once you’ve announced you’re leaving (which is one reason people wait to announce as long as they can). I hope it either won’t be an issue for the org, or you can delay your start time one way or another – sometimes the offer / negotiating takes longer than I think – so that it’s not an issue.

  52. AdAgencyChick*

    #5, if you’re made an offer, ask your new employer whether you can start later. If they say yes, give notice the day you return from your vacation.

    Lots of companies don’t allow PTO once someone has resigned, so you may find yourself having to take the time unpaid if you have to give notice before your vacation.

  53. OhBehave*

    OP 4
    I couldn’t care less how someone completes an application. For me, I only look at the resume and CV as they complete an application upon hire.
    I love when online forms can be fillable though.

  54. Ralph Wiggum*


    About a year ago, I was asked to take on a role outside of my experience and interests (working at a start-up where you fill in where you’re needed). It was definitely an adjustment for me. I’m used to being very confident in my abilities, but I was definitely out of my comfort zone in the role.

    My recommendation is to view it as an opportunity to broaden your skillset. Note that Alison’s advice to continue advocating for getting the work you enjoy still stands. Just get the most out of it while you’re there. Employees with a wide variety of backgrounds that can see things from multiple points of view and understand how different roles interact are very valuable.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      Broadening your skillset by learning how to do things you hate doing isn’t particularly valuable, though.

  55. empress_of_forever*

    LW 5 – please consider if you might be able to work out a longer notice period if an offer does get made that would make your notice period intersect with your vacation. Or, alternately, make a plan now to start getting stuff in order for a handoff. There’s no reason you can’t start writing/updating work instructions, making a checklist of tasks you have open or expect to still have open around your vacation (good idea anyway as prep for a 2.5 vacation). Any overlap will go down a lot better if it’s accompanied by “and here are the steps I’ve taken to make sure everything is ready to hand off at the end of the pre-vacation notice period”.

    You don’t owe your employer anything, certainly, but I had a coworker hand in notice 4 days before she went on an already booked vacation (and I, the person she was handing her work off to, was already booked on vacation for 3 of those remaining work days) and I am frankly still mad at her about it. 4 days gave her enough time to organize her notes but not to update them and I didn’t find out she’d given notice until the end of the one day we were both in the office, so I couldn’t even sit down with her to make my own notes. It didn’t exactly burn the bridge, but there’s definitely some charring around the edges, as far as I’m concerned, because I’m still taking the blame for her poor planning.

  56. Babysonfire*

    Can you share why? So far everyone has been really supportive. My team needs more support as our new fiscal year ramps up and I want someone strong to start with us then rather than have to play catch up months down the line. I’m also pregnant and would prefer to have months to train someone before I’m out on leave, so yeah, time is important here.

  57. Stephanie*

    OP 1: I wouldn’t bring it up. It’s just volunteering a bit too much information. If it’s really just one day a month, this shouldn’t be an issue–lots of things result in more frequent bathroom trips (antibiotics, food that doesn’t agree with you, etc). If your boss says you’re gone a lot, maybe just say it’s a medical issue.

    If you have flexible work from home, you could also try to work from home on those days. Sometimes when I have my period, I’m fine for the most part, but it can help to be able to WFH in sweatpants with a heating pad in close proximity to my own bathroom.

  58. to be married soon*

    Hello, here’s my actual twist on it. I’m getting married at the end of September in a destination wedding that I have already approved the time off with my current employer for about two and half weeks, with flights booked. I have a potential offer coming in the next few days. If it was a normal vacation I would just tell them. But since this would actually disclose my marital status, would there be any benefit/harm in telling them its for my wedding, or should I keep it vague that its a vacation, or “someone’s wedding”.

  59. metageeky*

    Just a little comment here, but when you present an inaccessible form for hiring, you’re giving the message that disabled people need not apply.

  60. Been In Events Before*

    OP #2: I would be extremely mad if that was not stated to me up front. However, I graduated during the recession and if you would’ve told me that I would never get a raise after making me an offer, I would’ve taken the job, stuck it out for a year or two and kept it moving. Is this a job where you can reasonably expect someone to use it as a “stepping stone” or are you expecting someone to stay longer?

    OP #3: Can I come help you? :D I would love to be doing the duties you don’t have an interest in. However, I really hope that you are able to focus your job on the duties that made you decide to take the job in the first place. Meeting/event planning is A LOT of work and it doesn’t surprise me that it’s taking up so much of your time. I hope that you end up staying at this wonderful organization but if you end up on another job search, I don’t think any interviewer would fault you for saying something along the lines of “They sold me one job and I ended up doing something completely unrelated.”

  61. HeyHowdyHi*


    I have a question about my current company’s pay scale. I felt inspired to discuss it after reading the story above regarding “lack of raises”. I work for a mid-size corporation in a big city with a low cost of living. Essentially, the majority of employees earn the same salary when they join the company. This is a fairly good salary for the city I live in. In order to “level up”, you take on more accounts and these accounts have a valuation. The higher value of the accounts, you will reach the next level faster. To reach from level 1 to level 3 can take between one to two years. In this time, your pay will increase by roughly $20,000. Once you hit level 3, your salary does not go up but you can earn a 1.5 percentage on each client account and it’s valuation. Essentially, you only earn bonuses from there on out. The client account can be worth anywhere from $1,000 to 1 million. I have mixed feelings about this but this job is only temporary because I plan to pursue a graduate degree while working at this job. Also, I do not work in sales. This is a full time position in tech industry.

  62. VictorianCowgirl*

    It sounds like your employer isn’t solvent, and is run terribly. Once you hit market rate, my advice would be to move on to another employer that’s run more sensibly and isn’t cash poor.

  63. A*

    OP# 1, I think Alison’s advice is spot on. I wouldn’t worry about it or bring it up unless it is brought to you as an issue. I go to the ladies room ~once an hour, usually just to get some steps in (unfortunately I’m not in a work environment/position where taking a stroll once an hour is acceptable). I have never had this brought up as an issue. The only exception I can think of is if you have extended meetings that run over an hour. In my experience/industry it is not common for people to get up and leave the room during a 1.5-2 hour meetings. When I do, I usually just make a joke about my small bladder if it doesn’t seem like I’ll be able sneak out unnoticed. It took me a long time to realize that I was the only one worried about it :)

  64. SarahBot*

    OP #3 – this is almost exactly the reason that I left my last job. I was hired as an Executive Assistant, but the bulk (75-85%) of my time at my last job was planning and executing events/parties. I got really good feedback on the work that I did on those events, but I really hated it.

    I had a really good dynamic and relationship with my boss, and we had several conversations along the lines of “I will definitely take this on and make it happen to the best of my ability, but this is not the kind of work that I’m best suited for or enjoy.” He was really understanding about it.

    Ultimately we had a conversation where I laid out that: 1) this company wasn’t going to stop having these events, or having less of them; 2) there aren’t any other roles / departments in the (pretty small) company that were better suited to taking on this work; 3) I don’t enjoy this type of work – therefore, I was leaving to get another job. He completely understood my reasons for leaving, and it made for a really good answer to the “why are you leaving your current job?” question.

  65. Workfromhome*

    #2 -If you know this to be fact (which appears you do) then you should disclose it when you reach the point of discussing compensation. Its a horrible policy and the best you can hope for is that you reveal the policy and get a bunch of good candidates turning you down and are able to feed this back to management that “Look we’ve had candidates specifically pull out because its not a market competitive policy” Then you’ll have your answer. It will either be “oh wow we need to change the policy” in which case things will change or it well be “Yeah you need to stop telling pep0ople about this its chasing them away” in which case you need to start looking fopr a new job.

    My former employer was brutal for this. They are quite well know and if you go on Glass door you’ll see multiple horrible reviews “they do not give raises” Everything people have said above happened

    They used to do yearly performance reviews and give “merit raises” which were actually just cost of living increases. Then one year they claimed that because a sister division did poorly that there would be no “merit increases”

    The next months after the review period a big client announced they would be leaving in 2 years so they climned that no more increases but if we signed an equal client they would put them back (even though there would be no impact for 2 years !
    Then they stopped having any annual reviews. Then some key people all bolted because they got higher offers from competitors and they gave a bunch of us “market adjustments” but still no more COL raises.
    Many people have been stuck at the same salary for years now. Their response was “Well if you work hard you can advance and get into a higher salary band that’s your increase” yet they cut left and right leaving no opportunities for advancement. Their turnover is atrocious now. Costs go up. if you cant afford raises you cant afford to be in business.

  66. Brett*

    OP #2
    My previous local government employer stopped cost of living increases in 1986 and merit increases in 2008 (and has no plan at this time to resume either one). At first it felt like an awkward conversation with applicants to discuss these policies (even though they were public record). After a while, we realized it was critical to let applicants know what they were getting into, because it encouraged them to negotiate for higher starting salaries.

    Which leads to an enormous issue old job had with this policy. Because your pay for your entire career is solely dependent on what you negotiate, it became a pretty ugly vehicle for pay discrimination. This was especially exacerbated because there were no promotional opportunities; the entry level position you might take straight out of college could be your same job title for an entire 40 year career. Since OP #2’s organizational seems to have the same limited promotional opportunities, it has the same vulnerability to discrimination, especially against women in former job.

    There was an executive manager in another department who was one of the few women in the organization at that level. I assisted her a lot with interviewing because of my technical interview skills. She had no qualms about explicitly laying out the entire compensation structure _and_ the resulting discrimination against women to every finalist. She wanted her applicants to negotiate as hard as possible to get as much money up front as possible.

    1. Workfromhome*

      Its great that you were at least honest up front but this kind of thing really blows me away. The impact this has on the quality of your staff is huge. If someone basically has the same salary for 10 years in a row you end up with anyone with any potential leaving for better pay. The people who stay are either on the end of their career and cant be bothered leaving, the poorest performers that have limited options to leave or in the very rare occasion someone who is just generally blasé about the job (maybe the don’t need to work and its convenient location) . There is very little chance that anyone who stays is going to invest any real amount of energy in the job. The productivity drain must be huge.
      I know the day they told me no more merit increases regardless of performance was the day I stopped giving a **** and started leaving my desk at 5 PM on the dot.

      1. Brett*

        What you describe is pretty much what happened. Everyone there now is either right out of college, very late career, or working very government specific roles where finding better options involves moving away (especially when combined with residency rules).

        The end of career gets much more complicated because of the financial hit of lost pensions. Even before the merit freeze, if you left after your 7th year, you were almost always losing money in the long run because of the amount of future pension income you lost. With the merit freeze, that mark is somewhere around year 12-15 now, so, of course, they moved pension vesting back to 10 years to make the lost pension hit even bigger and making the decision to leave very difficult from year 5 to year 10.

  67. Lilysparrow*

    OP1, please know that this is not something you need to proactively manage optics on, or discuss in detail. Zero obligation to go there.

    If a co-worker gives you any kind of grief about frequent bathroom trips, you are 100% fine to say, “it’s really weird that you’d be monitoring my bathroom usage.”

    If your manager brings it up, Alison’s scripts are fine. But remember that any manager who would bring it up is being oddly intrusive and overbearing in the first place. So keep that knowledge in the back of your mind when you respond, and don’t feel pressured to justify your completely normal humanity, just because someone is putting you on the spot.

    You’re fine. You are not the one being strange. Hopefully none of your coworkers or manager will choose to be strange either.

  68. LadyCop*

    #1 just pointing out…as a woman, that “period talk” isn’t something I spend any kind of time doing just because I have one…

    I realize OP has a specific concern about talking with a supervisor who is male…but I really don’t see what gender has to do with it. It’s a simple conversation.

    Lastly…in a field that’s roughly 85%-90% male here,and it has nothing to do with gender bias.

  69. nora*

    I work for a state agency, and we don’t get raises unless our state legislature approves it, even for merit. On the one hand it kind of sucks (I think they’ve approved two across-the-board increases in 15 years). On the other hand, our starting salaries are ridiculously high and our particular agency is unique in that division heads are empowered to give merit-based bonuses (three flat amounts, not percentages of existing salary) on an annual basis. I haven’t been there long enough to suss out how difficult it is to get a bonus but my ad hoc appraisals have so far been pretty good so fingers crossed.

  70. Elizabeth West*

    …there’s nothing wrong with saying, “Like many women, one week a month I will need to visit the bathroom more frequently than the rest of the time” and then staring at him coolly.

    lolololllll I absolutely love this.

  71. Big Biscuit*

    I’m wondering if the OP is overthinking the bathroom trips issue a little? I have a couple of medical issues that can keep me back and forth at certain times and nobody has ever said anything. I worked in retail management for years and one time, I was literally in the restroom for 90 minutes and nobody said a word. It even became a joke because I was apparently not as indispensable as I thought I was. I don’t know that I would bring it up unless a supervisor makes a comment or issue of it. Ironically, I think the people who notice those things are not as focused on their work as others.

  72. Groovymarlin*

    Re: question 4, this person is definitely over-thinking it. If a company sends you something electronically, and especially if they expect you to return it electronically, they don’t give a hoot how you fill it out. Also, this takes zero expertise with Adobe. When I get a PDF to complete that isn’t a fillable form, I open it up on DocHub and then use the text tool to insert my text, check boxes, sign, etc. There are multiple free tools that allow you to do this.

    1. Observer*

      It may take zero expertise with Adobe, but it takes some technology savvy – and possibly more effort than it’s worth.

      I rarely fill forms out by hand because of my setup and my handwriting. But making this an issue is a stupid thing for any employer to do except for jobs where this kind of tach savvy is a genuine job requirement.

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