my boss wants me to hire her friend, employee spends lunch driving for Uber, and more

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

1. My boss wants me to hire her friend

I am the hiring manager for a position I’m trying to fill. My boss is pressuring me to hire her friend from her previous employer. She has strong credentials, but she lives seven hours away from the organization in which I work and therefore wants to work remotely. I have reservations about all of this and have said so to my boss, but she keeps insisting that this person would be a powerhouse employee. I’ve told her that I realize she’s her friend and I’m sure she’s a strong performer, but I simply don’t feel her working remotely is the best set-up. Privately, I’m not thrilled to hire her friend because I foresee favoritism or other issues coming into play. I am thinking about discussing this with the HR director, who I have a good relationship with, but I feel like I’m snitching on my boss, which I really would rather not do.

Yeah, it’s not a great idea to hire your boss’s friend, especially when your boss has already shown she’s willing to press you to change your decisions when her friend is involved. There’s too much risk she’ll undermine other decisions you make in regard to this person if you hire her.

Do you have the sort of relationship with your boss where you can be candid about that? Ideally you’d say something like, “I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’d prefer to focus on other candidates. I want the person on-site because of XYZ. But to be transparent, I’d also be concerned about managing someone who’s a friend of my boss. I’d worry about the appearance of favoritism to others on the team or difficulties managing her when her original relationship is with you. I’ve heard too many horror stories about that dynamic! So my plan is to say no to Jane and focus on other candidates.” (If you have other strong candidates in the mix, mention that too — “I’ve got a couple of people I’m pretty excited about.”)

If you don’t feel comfortable saying that or don’t think she’s react well to it or sense she’ll try to strong-arm you no matter what you say, then yes, talk to HR about your concerns. When you do, tell them you’re also worried about tension with your boss if she realizes you went to them; they should be able to help you navigate that. (For example, they might suggest you say you sought hiring advice from them — which is appropriate and will be true — and this came up in the course of that conversation. That’s not snitching; that’s bouncing ideas off HR in one of their areas of expertise.)

2. Employee spends lunch hour driving for Uber

We have an employee who spends his lunch hour driving for DoorDash or Uber. He uses his own personal car, and it’s not a paid hour, so we can’t legally prohibit it. Yet we would like to discourage this since the lunch hour is for rest and recreation. How do we go about doing so?

Well, technically you could prohibit it; there’s no law preventing you from doing that. But you shouldn’t, unless you can see clear signs that it’s affecting his work. That hour is his time and he should be able to spend it however he wants — and there are lots of other ways people use their lunch hour that don’t leave them rested or relaxed (arguing with a spouse, doing homework for an online class, running errands).

Is it affecting his work or causing him to return late? If so, address that. Otherwise, he’s an adult and you should leave it alone.

3. Coworkers told people I was on vacation when I was actually in the hospital

I work at a nonprofit as part of a small staff supervising a large number of volunteers. A while back, I had to take more than a month off from work unexpectedly while I was hospitalized for bipolar disorder. Mental health advocacy is very important to me, and I am open about my experiences and diagnosis. My coworkers knew where I was, and my manager even visited me in the hospital, but when I came back to work, I was greeted by well-meaning volunteers asking, “How was your vacation?” Not only was that really awkward, it was also upsetting because I feel like being secretive about this kind of thing perpetuates stigma and goes against everything I value.

I understand my coworkers not wanting to violate my privacy by discussing my personal health information with volunteers, but is there a way for me to explicitly give my consent in advance for them to share at least the basics, if something like this comes up again? I’ve heard people make general announcements about staff who were taking time off for physical illnesses, surgery, etc. and I would be totally comfortable with that level of communication. Would it help for me to write something down? Is it even a reasonable ask to make, given that some people might feel uncomfortable talking about mental illness at all?

They just need to say you’re on medical leave. They shouldn’t get into the details beyond that, not because it’s mental health but because they wouldn’t need details about any health condition. (And it’s good to reinforce for people that they wouldn’t be expected to share their personal medical details either if they ended up needing medical leave.)

You could say to your manager, “It sounds like the office told volunteers I was on vacation, which of course isn’t true and has led to some awkward conversations with volunteers who were misinformed. If anything like this comes up again, I’d prefer people simply be told I’m on medical leave.”

4. How to answer “what are you looking for in a manager?”

There is one interview question that I stumble on every time it is asked, and I feel like there is just no good answer. How do I answer the question “what are you looking for in a manager?” For me, managers are almost always the reason why I am looking, and my current case is no exception.

I usually say something like, “I want a manager who manages like I do. I hire someone to do a job, and I expect them to do that job with little oversight. I like to be there to coach and mentor and to assist if they have issues. I am also fair and make every attempt to be transparent and address performance issues head-on.” But in my last interview, the interviewer ended up pushing to me say “I don’t like to be micromanaged.” I don’t — like I REALLY don’t. And that, along with my current manager’s utter lack of fairness and EQ, is why I am agressively looking. I am worried that I am coming off disgruntled but I feel that question is a no-win because what if I say something that ends up being the way they manage or feedback they have gotten in the past? How can I tackle this question better going forward?

Almost everyone who describes how they like to be managed mentions they don’t like to be micromanaged so you’re not saying anything shocking or controversial there! Plus, very few managers think they micromanage, even when they do. But even if you say it to a micromanager who’s self-aware enough to know they micromanage and so they don’t hire you as a result — that’s a good outcome, right? You’re leaving your current job to get away from a micromanager; screening out other micromanagers is exactly what you should be trying to do.

So your answer is more or less fine. The one quibble I have is with the “let people work with little oversight” part. Good managers do exercise oversight. They’re deeply involved in getting aligned on what outcomes you’re working toward and ensuring expectations are clear, they check in on progress as work is moving forward, and they course-correct when needed. I’d be alarmed if a manager told me they exercise little oversight — so it might be worth rethinking that wording.

But beyond that, talking honestly about what you want in a manager is how you screen out people you won’t work well with. If you get removed from the process because their style is at odds with yours, that’s exactly the outcome you want (assuming you’re looking for a really good match, not just any job).

5. Giving notice in a job where notice isn’t really needed

I fully understand the professional courtesy of offering at least a two-week notice when resigning and will be offering that when I leave, but I’m currently in a call center environment for a large company and I’m curious as to the actual business need for the notice period. When someone in my department leaves, there are no projects that need to be transferred, no ongoing work that needs to be wrapped up, and no job opening that needs to be posted (since we’re in a constant state of hiring anyway).

As far as I can tell, offering a two-week notice in an environment like this is really only about the courtesy aspect. Is there anything I’m missing here, any other reason for providing a two-week notice that just hasn’t occurred to me?

In the circumstances you describe, it sounds like it’s merely about convention and professional courtesy.

Typically the two-week notice period is for wrapping up loose ends, transitioning work, documenting where things stand, and answering any transition-related questions. It’s not even normally for hiring a replacement, since hiring someone and having them start typically takes more than two weeks.

If you’re not going to be doing any of that, then yep, it’s just about the fact that as a society we’ve somehow landed on two weeks as the professional amount of time to offer.

{ 456 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Regarding letter #2 — There’s nothing in the letter to indicate the employee is underpaid, so I ask that commenters not assume that’s the case (as that kind of assumption is frustrating to letter writers when it’s wrong). There are people who are paid quite fairly who still choose to work a second job because they want the additional income.

  2. Mid*

    #5 but also, know that most of those environments (retail, call center, anything with no need for notice) will end your employment far before the two weeks is up. And financially plan for that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes — make sure you know how they’ve handled notice periods in the past. If you’re working somewhere that has resigning employees leave before their notice period is up, you don’t owe them a full two week’s notice; in that case, it’s reasonable to look at how they’ve handled past resignations and plan your own timing accordingly.

      1. LW #5*

        Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about that. Despite its size, my company is still very much a start-up, and even outside of the customer service org the workforce is mostly young and mobile. People are constantly transitioning in and out of the business, and there’s a culture of expecting that people are still building their careers and won’t be here forever, so leadership is generally supportive when someone leaves. I don’t know of anyone that’s been frog-marched out of the building after giving notice, and my supervisor and manager are both arguing hard for me to stay (won’t happen, unless there’s some disaster with my background/reference check that’s still processing for the new job, but I appreciate the vote of confidence!).

        As an aside, thank you for answering my question, Alison! Glad to know my instincts were on track.

        1. Natalie*

          The only other thing I’d check is whether vacation payout is contingent on the notice period. That seems to be common in my area, at least, and if you do have vacation coming to you might as well collect it.

          1. LW #5*

            Good callout! I’m giving an appropriate notice period so that’s irrelevant for me, but the employee handbook does only says that accrued vacation time will be paid out upon termination of employment, so I think even people that quit with no notice would get their vacation paid out.

            1. Door Guy*

              I’d also think about the optics of the situation – not to your former job, but your new one.

              Whoever is hiring you doesn’t know about how things work in your current office, and are expecting you to need 2 weeks to put in notice before getting you started. If you’re currently working and still offering to start immediately, they have to wonder if you’ll put in notice for them when you eventually leave. While there are some employers who terminate your employment immediately when you put in notice, it is not universal and you can update them if that does happen (and not even always in the industries you’d think. My sister put in notice while working in advertising at a TV news station and her boss flipped out and ordered her out of the building. She had to get a manager from a different department to let her back into her office to get her belongings, and she never got a chance to update her clients, finish or pass on her projects, anything. She called HR after she got herself calmed down and got paid for the 2 weeks she’d put her notice in for plus her full vacation payout and a promise that her file would show she left on good terms.)

    2. Snuck*

      I’d suggest you give the two weeks notice if you ever want a reference…

      While there’s no projects to tie up etc… there are replacements to be sought, often scheduling is done to projected call volumes weeks in advance etc… they have counted your ‘bottom on seat’ and your caseload/call volume for the time… so for you to suddenly leave will cause them issues. Sure people are sick etc all the time, but that’s budgeted for too… leaving any employer in the lurch isn’t awesome.

      This said… are they the type to walk you out immediately? Will they pay out your notice period instead? Can they be flexible. Look to others that have left for other roles and use that to guide your judgement.

      1. Mel_05*

        Yeah, I don’t know about call centers, but in food service it is a *little* but about giving them time to find someone new.

        If you just leave when they’ve already been planning on you for coverage, your coworkers will end up pulling doubles with no notice.

        1. M. Albertine*

          That was my first question: how far in advance is the schedule made? It’s a lot easier to plan for you to be gone a couple weeks in the future than scrambling to back fill your shifts.

        2. Venus*

          It really depends on the workplace. In some call centres it would just mean the difference between a client waiting 15 minutes to talk with a real person, or 17, in which case there is little impact.

          1. LW #5*

            ^ This! My department is a couple hundred people, so having 1 additional person out isn’t actually going to affect anything. I’d also categorize scheduling/forecasting considerations as falling under the “convention/professional courtesy” umbrella for giving notice, moreso than an actual business need. Same with providing future references–that’s all about courtesy/reputation.

            All that said, I will be giving appropriate notice, as I mentioned in the original letter, so I was basically just wanting a gut check that there’s no actual business need for a notice period in a position like mine. And Alison seems to agree!

            1. Snuck*

              One person out mightn’t make a difference, but if there’s high turnover and people aren’t giving a standard amount of notice… there could easily be many people leaving at a time, particularly if there’s a cyclic nature to hiring or a demographic that is highly represented in the workforce (thinking of things like many university students who all come and go at semester times, or people who live in a highly rural workforce who also need to work seasonal work on their farms etc)

              Large call centres put a lot of effort into workforce planning, and yes, they budget resources planning for the odd person to be off or to leave without notice, but if it becomes the ‘norm’ for them they will get frustrated and that’s when there might be increasingly punitive or controlled reactions to people leaving. Consider the people you leave behind as much as your own needs – if you don’t need to leave in that way why would you?

              And… if it’s an early workforce job and you might need it as a reference… best not to leave them in the lurch.

              1. LW #5*

                If you notice (which you obviously haven’t), I’ve said multiple times that I will give a standard notice when it’s time. I’m not sure where so many commenters are getting the idea that I’m trying to just walk out and never come back–even in the original letter I clearly state that that’s not the case. While this is a call center job, it is not entry-level (we handle highly escalated cases) and I am not new to the workforce, so I’d appreciate the assumption of good faith that is part of AAM’s commenting guidelines.

                Turnover in my department is not abnormally high, the vast majority of people that have left do give an appropriate notice, and we do not have college students in my position; in fact, you couldn’t even be hired for my job without a college degree. There is no norm of bad behavior in my particular situation and no need for the company to be punitive. We’re even staffed to the level that we don’t have calls holding right now, and quite a bit of time between calls. I simply wanted to confirm my suspicions that giving a 2-week notice in an environment like this boils down to “because it’s the professional thing to do” since there’s no work that needs to be wrapped up.

                1. Door Guy*

                  It’s because you asked a hot-button question. I highly doubt there are very many people on here that haven’t been burned at work because someone called up and quit. Even at a fast food/retail level, it’s not considered to be a good or nice move, much less a professional one. Would it effect you professionally if you did leave with no notice? Likely not, but that doesn’t mean it should be done.

              2. Devil Fish*

                “Consider the people you leave behind as much as your own needs”

                This is unreasonable in any case, but it goes double for call center/food service/retail/etc. These are the kinds of jobs that exploit anyone who cares about how others are being treated and then punish “everyone” when the business has to make “hard choices” (like reversing all vacation approvals for next week because too many people “skipped work” during the blizzard or deciding to pay straight time instead of the originally promised doubletime for working on Xmas day because not enough people volunteered to work so now they’re voluntelling). There’s a reason the constant turnover is bog-standard in these industries and it starts at the top.

                “you might need it as a reference… best not to leave them in the lurch.”

                Every call center I’ve worked at has an explicit policy against giving references. HR will confirm dates of employment and that’s it. Anyone who gives a professional reference gets written up/potentially termed. (They say it’s something to do with avoiding potential lawsuits but I don’t understand how that makes sense.)

                1. tiffbunny*

                  The lawsuit thing is primarily California’s fault – it’s the only state where if you confirm that Former Employee X was a high performing Java Developer and provide details but fail to mention other relevant details (i.e. the 12 sexual harassment cases other employees raised against him), your company is now liable for issues he causes at New Company. I believe your company doesn’t even have to be based in Cali if either the employee was there at time of employment OR if the New Company is based there instead. (But IANAL!)

                  So, now every employer everywhere in the US thinks that justifies not giving references at all, or uses it as an excuse to avoid the hassle. Mainly the latter.

      2. Amy Farrah Fowler*

        Yeah, I was thinking in those environments, it might be more about making it easier on whoever is writing the schedule, so they know when you’ll be leaving and can adjust future weeks accordingly.

      3. Mid*

        I always give two weeks, but you should prepare for them to end your employment before that. So, be willing to work the two weeks but don’t be shocked if they don’t have you stay. I’ve been in the position where not getting those two weeks of wages was really painful

  3. KD*

    #2. An employee wanting to control what an employee does on an unpaid lunch break really rubs me the wrong way. It sounds like the employee may need the extra money, so perhaps if you gave that employee a raise, he could “rest and recreate” instead of having to engage in his side hustle.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I was also thinking about earning money – maybe to pay off student loans, maybe work toward a house, whatever! If this is the case then consider that financial freedom is restful.
      I also know people who enjoy driving and find it relaxing (I am not one of them).

      Some companies care if you take a second job. Are you one of them or no? If not, you can’t start deciding what lunch activities are worthy and which aren’t.

      1. Mel_05*

        It could be that, but I know an uber driver who does it just for fun! It’s my nightmare, but he LOVES meeting random strangers!

        1. annony*

          Some people also do better without down time in the middle of the day. Maybe he is one of those people who wants to be productive every minute he can. So long as it isn’t affecting his primary job, that should be his choice. I find that if I take too long of a break it snaps me out of work mode and it takes me a while to get back in the groove.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            I’m the same way! I started going to the gym on my lunch break and it really helps me stay in productive mode. Plus I’m more likely to get a workout in when it’s not at the end of a long day. Win-win!

            I’ve stopped going this week to recover from a race and it’s thrown me off so much. You can only go grocery shopping so many times, after all.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          While unconventional, I can see this as a novel way to research “What are jobs that exist?” by getting out and meeting a different cross-section of people.

          Whatever the reason, it should only matter to work if the second job impacts the primary job. It doesn’t matter if my mental image of lunch break is sitting in a park with a book and someone else’s is arguing in online fora that people are being wrong on the internet while a third person dons a cape and surveys the city from the roof of our building.

        3. LJay*

          Yeah one of my former teachers does this. He just recently retired, and I guess was bored being home all the time so he drives for Uber when he feels like it and enjoys meeting and talking to different people.

    2. Mme Defarge*

      yeah, so if it bothers you that your employee is working during their lunch hour, consider whether you are paying a reasonable wage.

      We can’t dismantle the gig economy we find ourselves in single-handedly, but sometimes there are ways to make a positive change.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t want to go too far down that road because there’s nothing in the letter to indicate he’s underpaid and that can quickly turn into speculation that’s frustrating for the letter writer if it doesn’t apply. There are people who are paid quite fairly who still choose to work a second job because they want the additional income.

        1. WonderingHowIGotIntoThis*

          More than just that – I took a second job for a bit, not because I needed the money, but because, while I excel at my “day” job and am very well compensated for it, it didn’t fulfil me completely on a personal level (think accountant with a second job working with small children). Because of the nature of the second job it wasn’t something that could be volunteered easily – so it was a second job.

          (I’ve moved industries since and this no longer applies)

          1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

            This is why I like volunteering! I enjoy doing something completely different from my day job, even if it’s just for a weekend event.

          2. Anonymousaurus Rex*

            Yes! I have a second job where I consult for my previous company. My current job pays far more than my previous position, but I actually enjoyed the work of my last position much more. I continue to consult because I like the work! The extra money is definitely a bonus, but I didn’t agree to the consulting arrangement because I’m not being paid adequately.

          3. Krakatoa*

            I get paid well in my primary job, I work a second job to help pay down some debts. I’m probably going to keep it even when the debts are gone (although with fewer hours, sure), just because I think it’s an interesting change of pace. It’s not necessarily an indictment on the employer

        2. Alexander*

          But that implies they want more money – if they can’t work the second job in that hour, the company could compensate. Or not, it is their choice – but that would most likely lead to resentment about the “lost” income, totally regardless if the pay for the main job is “fair” or not.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Bingo. I am paid very well. But I like money and I want more of it because money lets me do things that I enjoy. So I work a second job, and would continue to do (schedule permitting) even if my primary job gave me a raise equivalent to the money I make at my second job.

              1. Spreadsheets and Books*

                Agreed. In fact, I took a job a few months ago that was roughly equal to the amount I made at primary job plus the money I can pull in from my freelance business.

                Still work the freelance business on the side. Until my husband is done with residency, that won’t change. And even then, I may keep it going at a lower level.

              2. Autumnheart*

                Yep. I make a decent salary, but I had some expensive vet bills this year, and have been thinking about taking a gig-type job to get a little extra cash to pay that down. Something where I could set my own hours would be ideal.

              3. Sandan Librarian*

                I’m in a similar situation. I’ve been working three jobs for the past two years, and although I just accepted a job which pays more than I made last year with all three jobs put together, I plan to continue working at the other two simply because I enjoy the work and the opportunities for professional growth they afford me.

            2. Phoenix Programmer*

              Here’s the thing. A lot of market rates are too low and it’s diaengenous to suggest that it is “fair pay”.

              Geriatric physicians and teachers come to mind as examples where recruitment and retention are at an all time low, but market wages aren’t really going anywhere.

              At my job we have a low skill office job that is a nightmare to recruit and retain. They all have side hustles (Scentsy, cookware, etc). Our directors got upset about it and tried to ban a second job for these staff. I pushed for increased wages to discourage instead and got the BuT wE aRe PaYiNg ThEm FaIr MaRkEt response.

              So yeah, I think it is more then fair to suggest that op look at the wages. Is it enough to live on comfortably without a second job? If no and you dont want staff working two jobs then that’s your avenue regardless of the market wage.

              1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

                Hahaha yeah, there are definitely jobs where the wages don’t move as quickly as they should even IF there’s tight labor market for it. Admin and low-level operations roles are only now, within the past year or two, finding their wages going up, even though those roles are *really* hard to fill in a tight labor market. Because they’re perceived as low-level jobs, employers are like “ugh, I don’t want to pay the admin more than the analyst” even if they have 50 great applicants for the analyst job and zero great applicants for the admin job. People like to pretend that the market is what drives wages, but it’s just one piece in a myriad of factors!

              2. G*

                Oh noooooo, please don’t use MLM’s as a side hustle :( if more income is your goal, Scentsy is 100% not the way to go.

              3. Devil Fish*

                Were the directors upset and trying to discourage the “side hustles” because these employees were pitching their overpriced nonsense at work? MLMs aren’t profitable unless people are willing to use every scummy sales tactic that exists and I’m not okay with dealing with that noise at work, so good job if they were trying to choke off that avenue.

                Otherwise I agree with you that employers need to be willing to pay more than FaIr MaRkEt RaTe if they’re not happy with the quality of work and turnover they’re getting at that rate of pay.

            3. Alternative Person*

              Yeah, I’m paid pretty well but I work short term contracts here and there to keep my network fresh and maintain relationships with places that have been good to me.

              (Also the long-term economy isn’t looking great but that’s mostly adjacent.)

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            My job could give me all the money in the world and I still would pick up interesting side hustles if they crossed my path. There are a couple of things I am good at and enjoy doing that are not part of my job, but are also not the things you can do on a volunteer or hobby basis.

            1. prismo*

              I am the same! I always freelance a bit even when I’m working full-time in part because I get to do different things and I also really enjoy having some work that is just my own—no bosses, no office politics, just side projects I can do on my own time my own way. The extra cash of course is nice but it’s not my only motivation for continuing to do the work. (This is true even when I really enjoy my main job.)

          2. LawBee*

            The company is not under an obligation to compensate for the lost wages from a second job – especially if the employee is paid fairly, which we have zero information about. Driving for Uber an hour a day isn’t netting this person fat stacks of cash, so it’s probably more about having something to do for an hour. (I wonder if this is a place that discourages lunching at your desk, and he doesn’t enjoy the lunchroom?)

        3. JSPA*

          Or they want the distraction, or they don’t even enjoy “down time,” or they had a bet with a buddy, or it’s their excuse to themselves or to somebody else about why they’re taking the car instead of Transit, or they are gathering stories and experience for the Great American Novel, or they’re proving (or refuting) that driving for Uber is a reasonable career for their spouse / parent / sibling / child…

        4. Half-Caf Latte*

          I don’t know, and while i’m not trying to argue with your ruling here, I think this is a sandwiches situation. LW said – I have a problem with employee using break time to earn extra money. I think it’s fair to at least say – are you paying market rate, and by the way is paying for the lunch hour an option?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yep, it’s fair to ask that! What I asked people not do in the note at the top is not to assume the person is definitely underpaid, which is where the conversation was going when I made that ruling.

          2. Veronica*

            Whether it’s market rate or not, is it enough to live on? That’s the key question.
            Unfortunately market rate for some jobs is not. However, this employee could be driving because he’s paying off a large bill, or because he enjoys it.
            I get a good salary but I’m still strapped by paying off some medical bills… if I got a chance to make extra money I would take it!

        5. Close Bracket*

          There are people who are paid quite fairly for their industry and still need a second job bc their industry’s fair payment is still not very high.

        6. Toothless*

          *Raises hand* I am a software engineer who is definitely not underpaid in any definition of the word, and I work a Saturday job at a rock climbing gym for fun

        7. Seeking Second Childhood*

          One of the drivers in my area signed up to drive because they wanted their family’s wheelchair-accessible vehicle to help the community as well as their one family member who needed it. Side benefit of helping pay off the not-cheap custom vehicle I’m sure, but still altruistic.

      2. Jam Today*

        I am paid *extremely* well, and work a second job on Saturday mornings in the Summer and Fall because I love the work. Its retail, gets me outside in the summer, and gets me talking to the people in my community. The extra cash in hand is pretty nice, too, but its not the primary motivation. Maybe this guy just likes driving, likes meeting new people, and gets to do both and make some extra money while he does it.

    3. xtine*

      My thoughts, exactly. The letter writer might want to evaluate whether they’re paying employees what they’re worth if they’re side-hustling on their lunch break.

      On the other hand, who’s to say that driving isn’t fun for him? Maybe that is his recreation.

      1. PollyQ*

        I’m wondering what kind of work his “real” job is. If it’s all head-down, low-interaction desk work, he may enjoy getting out and actually talking to customers a little, getting to know the area a little more, etc.

        1. rudster*

          It’s quite possible. I had that kind of job for a while (mainly tied to my desk/computer), with a kind of a dotted line to the CEO as his assistant of sorts,. He would often entrust me with odd jobs that got me out of the office, such as picking up important clients at the airport or hotel, taking the company van to deliver trade show materials, etc. A lot of people might complain about being asked to do things that are “not their job”, but I figured that if the company wants to pay me my regular office drone salary to get out on the road on a nice, sunny day and spend a few hours driving and listening to NPR, who am I to complain?

          1. Quill*

            Back when my job from hell was treating me reasonably because I was new, I liked getting outside to run errands. I have seasonal affective disorder and the amount of time spent in a basement lab with no windows at that job was not good for me in the least.

            After things took a turn I kept running the errands as an excuse to not be around my coworkers!

          2. bluephone*

            In my previous role, I was an admin assistant mostly tied to the desk/phone/computer. I *loved* the random times I had to pick up something in another building on campus, drop off a contract at Finances, meet guests and visitors down in the lobby, etc. It was a nice little break from staring at Excel all day.

        2. Cookie Monster*

          My father in law moved for my mother in laws job a few years back. He was already retired. He took a job installing cable for fun, mainly so he could learn his way around and decide what area they wanted to eventually buy a house in. It seemed totally reasonable to me.

    4. Lucky black cat*

      I think people are being a bit unfair to this letter writer. It’s not egregious to be concerned that someone isn’t getting a rest break, especially if you live somewhere where you’re obliged to make sure they get some time off work.

            1. Snuck*

              I think it is reasonable to have some expectations about how a lunch HOUR is spent… if you plan to return to work… you will return to work… sober… clean/presentable to the standard the role requires… etc… there’s requirements for the job.

              If a person is tardy, or too unfocused on their return, or stressed etc… then asking them to spend that time more appropriately could be reasonable… we don’t have any real context here either way (for or against) to be able to judge.

              I would rather err on the side of thinking “The letter writer isn’t going to be such a busy body that they’d write in to an international employment advice column without there actually being a bit more of a problem to this” rather than the opposite…

              1. Yvette*

                “If a person is tardy, or too unfocused on their return, or stressed etc… then asking them to spend that time more appropriately could be reasonable… ” No, I think asking them not to return tardy, or too unfocused, or stressed etc… is reasonable, not trying to control how they spend their lunch hour.

              2. MK*

                I disagree. I don’t see why the OP wouldn’t mention an actual problem, if there was one, so it’s more reasonable to assume there isn’t.

              3. Purple Energy*

                lol half the letters published here are about situations that are not actually problems and Alison frequently tells letter writers to mind their own business.

              4. AnotherAlison*

                One coworker tells the story that they had had uber driver show up to take them to the airport at lunchtime, and then the driver wouldn’t do it because he was on lunch break and didn’t have time. This left my coworker scrambling to get another ride and get there in time. The airport is about 30 minutes, 1 hr round trip. So, I could see the OP having some legit concerns about this side gig interfering with the main job, but if her employee has proven that it doesn’t and he is managing it well, fine, let it go. Even if you’re in a place like mine where people schedule 12:00 meetings, it’s easy enough just to not drive that day.

              5. knead me seymour*

                It’s possible the LW just has a vague feeling that it’s weird or “not done” for someone to work a separate job during their work day. I can understand why someone might have that feeling and want to check in with a neutral party about whether it’s actually a problem.

                1. whingedrinking*

                  There was a letter a while ago where the LW’s coworker was working two jobs at the same time, as in doing remote work for one employer while being on the premises for the other. That one I did feel was a legitimate concern because while you’re on the clock, your employer expects first dibs on your time, and you can’t give top priority to two people.
                  This one, though, I don’t think is the same. If the employee were writing a novel that he planned to sell, we wouldn’t say “You can’t write on your lunchbreak”.

          1. MK*

            If you claim to have a vested interest in how your employee is spending their break, you should be paying for it. Otherwise, it’s none of your business, unless there is an actual problem, like they are returning late or dirty, etc.

            1. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

              Yes! And even returning “stressed” or “unrested” is outside of the empl0yer’s business. People are stressed and unrested all the time for a variety of reasons. My employer doesn’t get to tell me that I’m not allowed to do things on my own time that are stressful. If it impacts my work, then the impact on the work is the problem, not the stress itself, and not the source of the stress.

              1. Devil Fish*

                Maybe it’s because most of my employment experience is in customer service but it seems entirely reasonable for an employer to tell employees they shouldn’t appear stressed or unrested or otherwise less than fully able to do the job they’re being employed to do.

                I’m human, so obviously I’ve gone to work stressed and unrested before (I even went to work for a couple days high out of my mind on painkillers when I was told after a minor surgery that they decided I’d get less medical leave than I’d originally been promised) but it’s fine as long as none of that is affecting my ability to do my job to a reasonable degree. If it shows, that’s a write-up.

              2. Avasarala*

                Yeah sorry you should at least be able to fake being unstressed and well-rested, at least often enough that you can build up capital to get some slack for when you can’t help it. It’s not crazy to say “we’re paying you to work, you need to be able to work well during work hours.”

          2. JSPA*

            That’s too broad an assertion given that there are industries and contracts where paid breaks and paid lunch (above whatever the local minimum requirement may be) are a thing.

        1. Lucette Kensack*

          Yes, this is the right answer. Regardless of whether the employee I’d paid adequately already, if the employer wants to ensure that the employee uses their break time for rest, they should pay them for that break time.

          1. LawBee*

            but even then they can’t ensure that the employee isn’t going to go do something not restful or rejuvenating during that hour, paid or not. If I have to stand in line at the DMV during my lunch break, which I am paid for, I’m going to come back hella stressed and there’s nothing my boss can do about it.

            1. Devil Fish*

              It’s pretty typical to prohibit employees from leaving the work site during paid breaks (for liability reasons or something), so that would somewhat limit the scope of stressful activities you could get involved in during your paid lunch. :)

      1. Snuck*

        I feel similar…

        This is entirely dependent on the work type… some (like professional driving) jobs require set non-driver log book periods (at least in Australia, but I presume the US too given some of the reality TV I have seen).

        And some jobs are just hard work in one way or another… and a person might need decent recuperation,…

        But who judges that? Generally the employee… Unless there’s evidence to suggest that’s not wise… and maybe that’s what the letter writer is seeing?

        1. JustaTech*

          Exactly. There are some industries that, for safety reasons, require that employee actually *rest* on the breaks/ off shift. The example that comes to mind is the airline industry. Cabin crews (flight attendants and pilots) are required to have a certain number of hours of rest between shifts. I’m pretty sure that’s covered by a combination of company policy and government regulations (because Bad Things happened).


          It’s a limited set of job/industries that have rules like that (and more that could use limitations like that, but that’s OT), and it’s about safety.

          So unless the Uber-driving coworker is showing serious signs of being unable to work safely, I think LW’s got to let this go.

      2. Kendra*

        True, but telling people how to relax has an icky feel to it, at least to me. Assuming the employee’s not showing signs of fatigue or something else concerning, the employer should stay out of it.

        1. Avasarala*

          I’m not sure about the laws and conventions on this everywhere in the world, but it doesn’t strike me as that weird for an employer to discourage employees from moonlighting (ie literally working another job at night), running a lemonade stand during their lunch break, or other ways of engaging in business that rub up against this primary job. What if those business needs conflict with these? Is the employee taking an extra 15 min after clocking in to use the bathroom and eat lunch? What if they’re in an accident/injured as a result of that business?

          I agree it’s up to the employee to manage their own time and do as they please, but it seems to me similar to employer hesitancy to hiring someone with a long commute. It’s your business and if you think you can do it sure, but there’s a clear correlation between this action and burnout…

          1. Kendra*

            I can see why the employer would feel like they have a stake in this, but I feel like that’s less important than the employee’s right to live their life. You do not own your employees, and their free time is their own. If it’s not actually affecting their job performance (if they’re taking an extra 15 minutes, that’s clearly something to address, but only if it actually happens), stay out of it.

          2. EPLawyer*

            “What if they’re in an accident/injured as a result of that business?” What if they are in an accident/injured as a result of taking their required break and hit by a bus going across the street to the deli to grab lunch?

            Once you start speculating, you can see the horror stories in doing ANYTHING. Unless it is directly affecting the business, then what employees do on their own time is Not.The.Company’s.Business.

            If there is a conflict of interest, that can be addressed. If the person is continually returning late from lunch regardless of what they do on their lunch hour, that can be addressed. But just a general “oh we don’t want people working on their lunch hour for … reasons” is not a good look for the employer.

            1. BasicWitch*

              Haha, I actually did get hit by a car while on lunch break. I frequently hopped on my bike and went to a little cafe for lunch, and on this particular day a guy decided not to look when making a turn and sent me flying (I was mostly ok, just banged up, and my bike was pretty well trashed). So yeah: I was perfectly relaxed and happy during my rest break, and I still got hurt. Notably, workers comp didn’t cover me since I was off the clock anyways. Yeah, I missed work the rest of the day, but not because I was doing anything extreme or unwise on my break.

              Sometimes stuff just happens. I would’ve quit immediately if I was told I couldn’t leave the building for unpaid breaks, which is really the only way you could enforce your “business interests” during that time.

          3. Not Me*

            It’s one thing to limit outside work that is in conflict with the “first” job. Unless this employee works for Lyft though and is moonlighting at Uber it’s most likely not a conflict.

            It’s also not your business to decide how far of a commute is reasonable for your employees.

            1. CrookedLily*

              A LOT of drivers work for both Lyft and Uber. Not sure what those companies’ official stance is on it, but it’s extremely common and I’ve never seen anyone get in trouble for it.

              1. Devil Fish*

                You’re technically not supposed to be logged into and accepting fares for one while you’re driving for the other (as in driving an Uber fare to their destination while still logged in and accepting fares for Lyft at the same time) but people do it and rarely get caught.

                Also, most noncompetes are such an overreach they’re unenforceable, especially for “unskilled” jobs like Sandwich Artist, Call Center Pulse-Haver or Driver.

      3. VeryAnon*

        No. The only reason to spend your lunch hour working a dangerous, unregulated job is poverty. I’m actually angry that Alison said we couldn’t assume the worker was underpaid. Yeah, some people pick up bar shifts or whatever for a new extension. The only reason to be an Uber driver is desperation.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          No. I addressed this elsewhere on the page but there are tons of reasons people drive for Uber or Lyft and they’re not all desperation (for example: wanting to retire early, paying off loans faster, etc.).

          1. Purple Energy*

            Yes, plenty of people drive for Uber/Lyft just to make extra cash, but most of them are not doing it during their lunch hour of their regular job. The fact that he’s doing it during his lunch hour makes it sound like he is using every possible available hour he has which is an indicator of desperation. It can be true that he is being paid fairly in his regular job and also true that he is desperate for more money.

            1. annony*

              It could also be that he works in an area where a ton of people are using Uber/Lyft during lunch for short drives and he would rather keep his evenings free.

              1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

                Yup. At my previous job, we were in the middle of a bajillion restaurants. It wasn’t odd to order lunch through DoorDash/GrubHub/Seamless and have it be delivered by someone who worked at the company next door! It was a quick, easy way to make some extra cash.

              2. TootsNYC*

                I’d think that midday would be a GREAT time to do this! Especially lunchtime in the business district, which he is already in, because of work, as opposed to evenings when he might be based in a more residential area (less dense, etc.)

              3. Good Janet's Group Text*

                Bingo. Earlier this year, I had an office job where I had no desire to eat lunch with my coworkers. I went to a nearby library and did freelance writing work during my lunch hour. It was a change of pace from the work I was doing in the office, I got extra cash and work experience, and my evenings were free!

                I am wondering when the uber guy eats, though! I used to eat while writing, but it’s harder to do that while driving. Does he bring his lunch back to his desk?

                1. TardyTardis*

                  I usually spent half my lunch in the break room and the other half at the work computer (got permission for it, just in case, or would have brought in my laptop) whacking away at my latest novel (if I was really on a roll during NaNoWriMo, I could get a thousand words done).

            2. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              I’ve met a good number of Uber/Lyft drivers who started driving for Uber/Lyft because they wanted to qualify for the company’s auto lease/loan program, where drivers got preferential lease/loan terms. It helped a lot of people afford cars that they ordinarily wouldn’t be able to.

              1. Sacred Ground*

                It’s a way to get suckered into buying more car than they can afford, and to get upside down on that loan more quickly as they put 70k miles on their car in one year.

          2. starsaphire*

            We also really don’t have enough facts to make any sort of determination about finances here. If the LW had said, “And three other people on my staff are pushing MLMs and there are Avon catalogs everywhere,” then we could feasibly draw that conclusion. But there are no indications of that.

        2. nena cat*

          My ex drove for Lyft. He has a full time job making good money but enjoys having the extra cash and likes to drive. He’s not poor or desperate.

          1. annony*

            My husband is the same way. We can easily pay the bills but he likes getting extra “fun money”. He also loves having long stretches of down time, so he tends to cram as much work into as little time as possible. If he were in an area where there were enough requests, he would totally drive during his lunch hour just so he would have more free time later.

          2. AnotherAlison*

            I had a driver show up once in his BMW coming from his home in the nicest residential area near me. He was partnered in a business out-of-state where the company owned cars and hired drivers to drive rideshare. He was driving to test the market in our area. Many reasons to drive.

        3. Rita*

          This is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. You’re quite simply wrong.

          I have an office job, 40 hours a week, good salary, plenty of vacation time and goo benefits. I also drive for Uber 15-20 hours a week because the extra money means I am on schedule to pay off my student loans SO MUCH FASTER. That one thing will make an incalculable difference in my quality of life over the next decade. It’s absolutely worth it.

          I don’t NEED to drive and I’m far from desperate. I just saw an opportunity to make more money.

          1. Devil Fish*

            “That one thing will make an incalculable difference in my quality of life over the next decade.”

            I mean… this part really sounds like you do need the money though? There’s nothing shameful about having debt you need to pay off and it’s not a moral failing to need more money to pay that debt off faster (that’s how money works).

            You didn’t do anything wrong and you seem to be taking the comments weirdly personally to get this defensive about something you contradict in the middle of explaining it. I hope things work out okay! :)

        4. Snuck*

          I have a friend who is an exploration geologist in the midst of a major mining boom (ie he is on BIG bucks)…. he Ubers in his off weeks (fly in/out) as a way to clear the mortgage even faster “I’m just sitting around on my off week… might as well do somehting with my time while my wife is at work”.

          Lots of students here (in Australia) do it as a convenient in between casual job, as well as their part time jobs (and Austudy)… As do professional drivers between charter gigs (it’s not uncommon to have a vehicle with charter vehicle plates collect you) etc.

          1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

            This sounds about like my neighbor who is a firefighter. He worked 24 hours on, 48 hours off. In the days off he mowed lawns and trimmed trees. He said he didn’t like just sitting around, but doing those kinds of jobs meant he could still be home when his daughters got home from school. Win win!

        5. First Star on the Right*

          I’ve had plenty of Uber drivers who were doing it for reasons other than desperation- many of them did so because they just liked having some extra cash. One guy did it because he was retired, but bored, and he really liked striking up a conversation with all sorts of different people.

          I’m not sure whether you’re angry at poverty in general or have a specific bone to pick with Uber, but your attitude is pretty gross.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            When I lived in North Carolina, about 30% of my Uber drivers were retired and bored. I once had a driver in Florida who was retired and bored, and she loved Uber because she could drive when she wanted to and she never had to drive at night.

            1. kittymommy*

              Same where I’m at. While I’m sure that there are many who drive because they need to financially, a lot of drivers I have had where I live do so be cause either they are retired and bored and this helps them to stay active and meet people (I have heard a lot about how they don’t want to deal with all “the old farts in their retirement community who just want to golf and complain”) or the flexible hours work for their schedule.

            2. ThatGirl*

              I know a Chicago weatherman retired down to Florida and now drives for Uber just to a) keep busy and b) he loves meeting/talking to people – instead of just golfing all day he makes a little extra money.

            3. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

              I used Uber a lot when I came to western MA for work last month, and I think of the 20 or so Uber drivers I had, about 15 were in the ‘retired and bored’ category. They made my journeys from my hotel to the office and back SO INTERESTING because they were friendly, welcoming, chatty and genuinely lovely people to speak to. They clearly loved meeting people, and of course I was the Novelty British Person.

        6. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

          My friend once arranged for an Uber and was picked up in a brand new Tesla. That Uber driver was not desperate but had downtime during his retirement.

        7. Ico*

          I don’t know why some people get so emotionally invested in the gig economy being this terrible thing. For some people, it’s exactly what they want, and yes, I know some. Let them live their lives.

          1. rear mech*

            “I don’t know why some people get so emotionally invested in the gig economy being this terrible thing” The emotional aspect is because of personal experience, or because it is a terrible thing for our friends and family members who do these jobs. A friend was recently horribly injured while doing one of these jobs. He should have had workman’s comp, especially as someone who works 50-70 hours a week.

          2. ChimericalOne*

            I agree that “it’s absolutely awful and no one would do it unless they were desperate” is over the top. Still, the gig economy is pretty crappy — and even people who like it well enough would be better served if it was either truly aimed towards independent contractors or truly classifying them as employees.
            For example, I’ve been getting awful service from Lyft lately. When I first started taking Lyft, I’d get drivers who were actually good drivers: efficient, friendly, comfortable behind the wheel. They’d play music, ask if the temperature was okay, offer a bottle of water. Lately, all of my drivers have been terrible — parking blocks away because their GPS says “You’ve arrived,” even though they can see on the map that they’re not quite there; taking calls while they drive; asking questions like “Is it the North exit or the South one?” as we approach our exit (I don’t know the way — you’re the one with the app open!); heat cranked to stifling levels; radio off. It got to the point where I wondered if maybe my rider rating was low, such that I wasn’t getting good drivers anymore, so I actually emailed Lyft. (Nope, I have a perfect score.)
            If the gig economy was actually about giving a platform to independent contractors, drivers would be able to build up a reputation and customers would be able to pick drivers they knew they liked to request a pick-up. As it is, the star rating only lets you exclude the worst of the worst drivers — and only after you’ve experienced a bad ride (if you give someone 3 or fewer stars, you won’t be paired with them again). You can’t request particularly good drivers, save drivers as your “favorite” or “preferred” contractors, etc., and those drivers can’t build up a pool of customers who prefer them. All they can do is drive constantly & hope they’re in the right place at the right time to get tagged by the next request.
            It would be nice if one of the major rideshare apps really was contractor-oriented… Barring that, give workers protections like the employees they are.

            1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

              I was picked up recently in a shared Lyft ride on my way to the airport. There were 2 riders in the back already, but their luggage was small. I asked the driver to pop the trunk so I could put my suitcase in the back and they said no! I was like, ok…I guess your trunk is full…where do I put my suitcase? Those nice people in the back were trying to shift their bags around so I could fit mine, but I managed to squeeze it in between my legs in the front seat. Luckily it’s only a small carry on, but it IS a hard case. That was a very uncomfortable 30-minute ride, not only because my legs were pinned, but because the driver was very awkward about the whole thing.

              I hate to give low ratings, but if you’re going to accept rides taking people to the airport, you HAVE to have a place to put at least one or two pieces of luggage!

        8. That Would be a Good Band Name*

          I’m going to push back on this. I’m well compensated. I can’t drive for Uber/Lyft because I live in a small area where it doesn’t exist, but I’d do it in a heartbeat if I could. And my lunch hour would be a perfect time because I wouldn’t be cutting into my family time.

        9. CrookedLily*

          Wow, that’s a lot of hostility.

          I rode with a Lyft driver the other day who was a 72-year-old woman, retired, and driving because she hated retirement and needed a sense of purpose. She loves driving around and meeting new people, loves talking to people – seriously, she talked my ear off, but she was hilarious!

          Plenty of people enjoy these jobs. If I could drive I would honestly probably quit the rat race and do it myself. Don’t project your own prejudices onto the world.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Almost all the drivers I meet are either retired or military spouses who get bored hanging out with other retired people, military spouses, and people who do seasonal work (so, so many wild land firefighters and National Park Employees). Occasionally there will be a stay at home parent who wants some adult conversation while the kids are at school. I’m not sure if it is the market here or the times/places I travel, but I have yet to meet someone who drives full time.

        10. Perfectly Cromulent Name*

          No. I make good money, but have ambitious financial goals. I have a few small side hustles. I teach online classes for a community college, and sometimes grade papers or answer student emails over my lunch hour. But even when I’m not grading, my lunch hour is hardly “relaxing.” We don’t really have a break room, so I usually eat at my desk, then go run errands so I don’t have to do it after work. (Post office, grocery store, etc.)

        11. LJay*

          It’s really really not.

          My boyfriend drove for Uber for a bit and he is well compensated. He is just ambitious and likes money. He did it for a bit, even brought a nicer and larger car to be able to take UberXL and Uber Select fares. Then did it for awhile longer to pay off that car way ahead of schedule.

          Eventually he determined it wasn’t worth it and stopped (pay more in gas costs and wear-and-tear on vehicle than what he was making), and didn’t do any side-hustle for awhile. Now he’s on to something else.

        12. ClashRunner*

          Incorrect. I have a similar side gig that’s strictly for fun money. I’m not wealthy, but I’m a long way from poverty. No desperation here, friend.

        13. Uber fan*

          “The only reason to spend your lunch hour working a dangerous, unregulated job is poverty”

          This is idiotic. I’m a corporate lawyer. I’m also an Uber driver. I signed up because I enjoy doing something different for a couple of hours once or twice a month.

          And I wouldn’t call Ubering a “dangerous” job, either. I think you have an axe to grind against the company.

          1. Uber fan*

            Also, I should add that the lead investment banker at Morgan Stanley, which was the lead underwriter for Uber’s IPO, was also an Uber driver. It helped him to win the company’s business.

            1. Devil Fish*

              Are you saying I could become the lead investment banker of an evil financial corporation if I just take on a side hustle that will lose me money overall?! Wow, I guess it really can happen to anyone!

          2. Devil Fish*

            This is weirdly hostile. Do you uber stans have a Google alert set up so you can rush to defend your corporate overlord whenever someone criticizes it online or what?

    5. Language Lover*

      Maybe it’s about his salary but he also might just enjoy taking part in the Gig economy for some extra pocket money.

      I know a few people who do Uber/Lyft for extra money as a supplement to their regular jobs. Their jobs pay market rate but they want to earn a bit more. They like driving and this allows them to set their own schedule.

      So even if it did start out as a way to earn extra money because of a salary, if he finds he likes it, even a raise might not discourage him.

    6. TootsNYC*

      I really don’t like the employer’s deciding what lunch is “for”—that’s a little too “nanny” like for me.

      It’s for “not being at work” and “having time that’s under your control.”

      And for eating

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        I agree. I think the fact that he is technically at another job is clouding the matter. Running errands and resting are not the same thing. I spent my entire lunch hour at the bank last week because the computer system was malfunctioning. Not rested and clear headed when I got back. A few years ago I did physical therapy over lunch (and a bit more) I was not rested and relaxed. Gym time is not fun for me.
        If he spent every lunch hour driving to care for an invalid relative, he would not be rested and relaxed, but OP would not be writing this letter.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          OP didn’t say it seemed to be causing performance issues, though.

          I eat at my desk every day, which is frequently discouraged. But my desk is *my space* and I find it a lot more comfortable and relaxing to eat in my space than in the kitchenette or the conference room or my car. So if my boss decided I wasn’t relaxing enough on my lunch hour because I was eating at my desk, I’d be pretty miffed: Don’t tell me how to enjoy my time off.

    7. Dwight*

      Here’s my experience with Uber: you really need a solid few hours to make any decent money. When you start, you’ll likely have to drive 5-10 minutes to the first pick up. When you’re done that, if you’re lucky, you’ll pick up a new fare within a few minutes. At most I would expect two to three rides during that time, each earning about 5-10$ at most. If you get super lucky, might be 50$, and don’t forget, Uber doesn’t tax you at source, so there may be income tax implications later.

      They’re free to do what they want in my opinion, but this hardly seems like the solution to paying off debt. It’s more likely they just want to drive for a bit on their break, and this pays the gas. But one thing I’d have been worried about is accepting a ride, and the passenger changes the destination, and all of sudden you can’t get back to work on time, and they’re technically obligated to finish the ride. While you could cancel, 1 star ratings really really affect drivers, so they’re put in a bad spot. It depends on the city, but falling below a certain average, (usually around 4.7) get’s you a warning, then fired. A 1 star rating with the right wording could get you fired immediately too.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I was mostly wondering what kind of driving gigs they can pick up in an hour and be assured of getting back to work on time, aye.

        1. Quill*

          It’s possible that their work is near a major transportation hub, so they might be shuttling people from, say, a train station to an airport. Or just a downtown metro area with semi reasonable traffic.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I would guess you could have some regulars who work nearby and want to go get lunch. I actually think a lunch hour would be a great time to pick up a couple of fares.

          I have a friend who does this and he often drives for the same people at the same time of day/week because they’re coming home from work or running regular errands.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          You could totally do that with airport drop offs around where I work. Lots of hotels and the airport is a 5-10 minute drive, max 15 if the freeway is closed

        4. De Minimis*

          I work in a downtown area, and it’s common for people to use Lyft to get to/from meetings that are located several blocks away to where walking would be impractical. It’s also good because they don’t have to worry about parking.

          1. Dwight*

            The problem is that you don’t know which ones will take you 20 minutes out of town, and which ones a short little hop away. So when do you stop? 20 minute before? 10 minutes before? Anyways, I considered doing it during lunch, but the risk was too large of getting caught somewhere where I couldn’t get back to work. Plus, if I’m leaving straight from work, the risk of picking up a coworker was too high for my liking.

            I guess it works for this guy, I’m just not sure how, since after tax and costs, the actual profit in an hour would be about 10$. The only other way I’ve heard of combining work with rideshare, is to use it the exact way it was meant to be, which is you set the destination filter in the app to work or home, and you wait for a fare to go either way. That’s purely free money.

            1. Libby*

              I used to drive for Lyft/Uber, but haven’t for awhile. Both platforms had the ability to sort of set a zone for rides you were willing to take, so if you are in a busy downtown area and set a reasonable zone, you could pick up a couple of quick fares.
              (It was fun. I was saving money to fund a project, and driving helped me meet my goal faster.)

      2. TootsNYC*

        So maybe $30/day, times 5 = $150/week.

        I had a gig that paid me $125 a week, and when it went away, I noticed!

        1. TootsNYC*

          I was once going to pay my niece $25/week to take care of my elderly dad’s cat’s litter box, and I figured out that this would be more money than the 5¢/hour raise she was going to get at her job!

        2. Dwight*

          Well 30$ a day would be pre-tax, pre-cost. There’s gas, maintenance, depreciation, and the potential for an accident (for which Uber’s insurance is awful). Especially with falling Uber pay rates, I’d expect him to profit, 7-10$ from an hour, especially since he has the restrictions to get back to the office within the hour.

          But obviously it works, since he’s doing it, or maybe he likes doing this for little pay (or maybe he doesn’t realize how little money he’s actually making).

          1. Dwight*

            Remember to subtract tax, gas, increased insurance, increased maintenance, possible accidents. Your 7,200$ actually ends up being 2000$-3000$ at most.

      3. Laszlo Whitaker*

        Maybe he’s doing Uber Eats rather than regular Uber, since OP also mentioned Door Dash? If they’re near lots of restaurants and offices, it makes sense that he could get a few deliveries in at lunchtime.

    8. Phony Genius*

      It is possible that the employer could be worried about the optics of this. If several AAM commenters have assumed that the employee is underpaid, then the same assumption may be happening there. If the optics of this is causing people to believe the employer underpays their employees, they may want to shut this down.

      More importantly, if the employee’s regular job involves serious risk of injury if not focused, such as working heavy machinery, this would be a good reason to stop this. There are often regulations regarding the number of hours one may work doing certain tasks to prevent injuries due to fatigue. Using the lunch hour this way is like adding an hour of work every day, and the employee would not be properly rested. (I know the OP did not mention that the job involved anything like this, but it may be relevant to other readers.)

      1. J Kate*

        As other commenters have pointed out, there are many other activities on which people spend their lunch breaks that are far more stressful/less restful than Ubering. Unless they’re requiring employees to adhere to specific diet and nap schedule, I don’t know that the company has any authority to differentiate which activities are permitted or prohibited. Thus this argument lacks logical substance.
        The argument that it makes the company look bad if employees have part-time gigs is ridiculous as well. The company is not privy to an individual’s financial needs or status and salaries are not based on such but rather on the market (which makes sense because a company has to include salaries paid in its balance sheets and still must be profitable if the employees want to keep their jobs). For some competent, productive employees, this rate may not be enough for their personal financial situation. This is the responsibility of the individual to rectify, not the company, and is often solved with a part-time job. As individuals we have the freedom to make this choice whether our desire for more money stems from unexpected financial hardship or from a desire to save up to buy a nicer car or house. The personal choices of employees in this matter could potentially be based on any number of situations that they can in no way be considered a reflection on the company, rendering this argument invalid as well (and likely to cause a company to lose a good employee if additional funds are needed).

  4. Lena Clare*


    as a society we’ve somehow landed on two weeks as the professional amount of time to offer.

    In the UK the normally accepted notice period is a month, or more for jobs in the NHS, teaching profession, or senior leadership :)

    1. I don't know who I am*

      In Australia it’s the length of the pay period, if you’re paid fortnightly then it’s a fortnight, monthly then it’s a month etc.

      It’s interesting how different countries have different professional norms for these types of things

      1. Lena Clare*

        Yeah actually, for service jobs which are paid weekly that’s the case here too; I don’t know of any jobs which are routinely paid every fortnight though. I actually thought that was how it was done everywhere, but apparently not!
        It’s interesting how other countries have an accepted norm.

        1. On a pale mouse*

          Many jobs in the US pay every two weeks. At my first real job (a private university in Texas), exempt staff like me were paid semimonthly but I believe hourly people were paid biweekly. I think faculty may have been paid monthly. I had two exempt government jobs and I believe I was paid biweekly for both. Currently I’m in retail, non-exempt, and paid weekly.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            For more anecdata –

            As a fast food employee, we were paid weekly.

            As State Agency 1, paid biweekly, hourly.

            As Factory Floor Person, paid biweekly, hourly.

            As University 1, paid biweekly, hourly.

            As University 2, paid monthly, more salaried….it was a stipend.

            As State Agency 2, paid biweekly, hourly.

            As County Agency, paid biweekly, “exempt” that was really hourly.

            As Private Sector, paid biweekly, salaried true exempt. Our ‘factory floor’ hourly staff are also paid biweekly.

            1. Anonapots*

              For whatever reason (I’m sure there is one that’s interesting and historical), people who work in the grocery biz tend to get paid weekly.

      2. DiscoCat*

        In Germany for some positions/ industries the notice period for both parties is 3-6 months- also meant as a protection against willful firing. But it makes start date negotiations with potential employers tricky- who wants to wait 3 months for a new employee? You can negotate an early release from your contract by annulling it, but that is tricky and a mine field, both parties need to agree and sign a contract that annulls the previous contrcat (German bureaucracy…) Your employer can stiff you on pay, benefits, references. So you end up paying for a lawyer to negotiate for you.

        1. Bagpuss*

          In my industry in the UK, 3 months is standard and because it is standard, you know when you are recruiting that you will have to wait for the new hire to work their notice, so while sometimes people will look to leave early, it’s not normally what happens.

          The three month norm is for more senior staff-support staff generally have a 1 month notice period

      3. WS*

        Not necessarily – your award is often specific about this. It’s usually a week if you’ve been there less than a year, then two weeks, and senior positions a month or longer.

      4. Hey Karma, Over here.*

        Very interesting! I read Lena Clare and felt almost shocked. I’m in the US and I’m not an important cog in my corporate wheel. I can’t get my head around being a lame duck for a month.

        1. londonedit*

          The company I work for (UK) recently changed from a blanket three-month notice period for everyone to one month’s notice for junior roles and three months for senior roles. People in more junior jobs were raising it in their exit interviews because three months really isn’t usual for that type of role (it’s fairly common for more senior roles, or where the person has been at the company for several years) and it was causing problems when they were looking for new jobs outside the company. Having a one-month notice period for most roles really doesn’t cause a problem here, because it’s what’s expected everywhere. When you’re offered a job, the new employer will expect you to start in a month’s time. It gives your current employer plenty of time to hire your replacement, it means there’s often time for a few days’ or maybe a week’s in-person handover, and it means you have plenty of time to finish up whatever work you’re doing. No one really views it as being a ‘lame duck’ – in certain roles you might be put on paid ‘gardening’ leave for your notice period if there’s really no way you can carry on working (because your employer doesn’t want you hanging around for another month/three months potentially hearing about confidential future projects, for example) but generally you carry on working as normal for a couple of weeks, then maybe you do a bit of handover with your replacement, and/or write up handover notes and finish up any work that can be finished. From the opposite perspective, I can’t imagine how US employers manage to hire people within two weeks of an employee giving their notice. It just comes down to what the norms are in a particular country’s way of doing things.

          1. Veronica*

            U.S. employers usually don’t hire a replacement in two weeks. They make remaining staff cover while they take their time interviewing and hiring, then the first person doesn’t work out and leaves or is fired, then the whole process again, then other staff start leaving because they’re tired of being overworked… yes, the usual level of corporate competence and common sense…

            1. Nerfmobile*

              Yes, lots longer than two weeks to hire a new person, especially for professional specialist roles. I had a person resign in early July, gone before the end of the month. His replacement is starting on Monday, so that position has been empty for 4 months. And that’s pretty fast in my company/field.

      5. bluephone*

        US and my experience has been (although this was all with one university, but in different departments)
        non-exempt employee (i.e. eligible for OT pay), weekly paid: two weeks’ notice is the standard
        exempt employee (not eligible for OT pay), monthly paid: 4 week’s notice was standard but you could possibly do less if you and your manager felt that was best for all involved [grimacing emoji here]. You could also do a longer notice period depending on circumstances.

    2. Sc@rlettNZ*

      Same in NZ – a month is standard. Actually, my partner’s notice is 6 months (he’s a senior academic).

    3. just a random teacher*

      In the US, at least in public schools in my state, for teaching jobs it’s expected that you’ll stay on until the end of the school year outside of extreme cases. (If you’re getting fired in a non “also making the news” sort of way, that will also be a slow-motion firing effective the end of the school year on their part, even if that means the teacher is still working for months after being “fired”.)

      This both makes sense (changing teachers mid-year is hard) and makes it really hard to change jobs out of teaching, since you can really only job hunt seasonally without burning bridges.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          It’s a serious problem if you want to leave teaching, as it means you would generally need to leave the profession without a new job lined up. From September through June you’re locked into a contract. You can start a job between the end of June and whenever new contracts are signed (which will be before the next September). That’s a really narrow window for finding a new job.

          1. Thankful for AAM*

            I was unemployed for 9 months when I left teaching. I had to work through May and it took till February of the next year to find a job in a new field and to actually start (acceptance to start date was about 1 month). I passed up jobs that wanted start dates before May. It was frustrating.

            1. Quill*

              Same, my mom’s been looking for a job in a new location for six months now, she’s probably going to have to go back to teaching in the fall, meanwhile she’s starting working a desk at a ski resort starting after thanksgiving.

          2. Environmental Compliance*

            ^ this is what the struggle has been for my family & friends who teach (or used to).

        2. Quill*

          Leaving teaching is difficult because if you’re looking to leave at the end of a year you have a very short window between “here is my mid to late june available start times, potential jobs” and “It’s already July, why haven’t you signed your next years’ contract yet?” from your principal.

          My mom just did that last year.

    4. Anni*

      In Norway the norm is 3 months once you’re out of your probationary period (unless you work as a temp or contractor, then it’s either a month or just not renewing the contract). Often you can shorten it by using up remaining vacation days and saved overtime hours. Last time I switched jobs, I had four weeks vacation and one week of saved overtime hours that I used to cover the last five weeks.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Last time I switched jobs I ended up being paid double for a while, because OldJob insisted on my being present in the office for the entire office, and paid accrued PTO after that. For the first few weeks at NewJob I was therefore effectively being paid to be “on vacation” and being paid to be at work at the same time.

    5. Myrin*

      I think Alison specifically meant “American society”, not “humankind as a whole” (which, now that I think about it, is an interesting concept – are there customs innate to humans and not really dependent on culture? Hmm.). (I’m not asking this to start a derailing conversation about this right now, btw, but I think I’ll bring it up in the open thread!)

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        There are a few customs which appear to be innate to humans as they are found in every community (even those very isolated) – check out Donald E Brown’s “Human Universals” 1991.

        Sample relevant to AAM:

        – mediation of conflict
        – customary greetings
        – economic inequalities (and consciousness thereof)
        – biases in favour of in-groups
        – resistance to abuse of power

    6. M.*

      I’m in Poland. Over here, it’s usually a full calendar month, and if you are being let go, they give you the same amount of time.
      The pay period is also a month.

    7. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

      My husband has just resigned from his job, and his notice period is three months. For some of our directors, it’s six.

      1. SageMercurius*

        In my experience it depends on seniority as well. In the university I worked in, a Grade 1 employee (low end) could give two weeks. Grade 7 (head librarians and similar) had to give 6 months.

        1. Asenath*

          Our provincial (in Canada) legislation varies notice time by length of employment, ranging from none if you’ve worked less than 3 months to 6 weeks if you’ve worked 15 years or more, but I’m in a union, and everyone in my job category has to give two weeks notice. I gave more, but it wasn’t required. That’s from the worker to the employer; employers have the same general rules, but there are specific circumstances in which the employers can dismiss the employee immediately (refusal to obey legal orders, misconduct, etc). An employee can also legally leave without notice if the employer mistreats them, is in breach of contract, accepts pay in lieu of notice etc.

    8. Purple Energy*

      Given that fact that OP mentioned the 2-weeks notice convention, I think its safe to assume that OP is in the US and that Alison is specifically talking about US society.

      1. M.*

        I think people know that but it’s also interesting to find out about the way it’s handled elsewhere as the readership is international.

        1. Purple Energy*

          I think its pretty common knowledge though, especially around here where every single time notice periods are mentioned in a letter, someone feels the need to mention that notice periods are longer outside the US.

          1. I heart Paul Buchman*

            I thought it was interesting. I think it is important to mention regional/ international differences for two reasons.
            1) to benefit the ‘dominant’ group (here that’s Americans) by raising awareness that there are other options
            2) to benefit the people who otherwise feel invisible and forgotten
            I appreciate when Alison and commenters clarify they are talking US norms. It would be good if the site allowed for contextual clues such as not auto inserting z for s but Alison has decided not to allow that.

    9. LawBee*

      I would hate having to give a month’s notice, omg. Short-timer’s syndrome would set in on day two.

  5. PollyQ*

    #5 — even if there’s no specific work or knowledge that needs to be transferred, I’m sure someplace like a call center would appreciate the notice to help set schedules. But I agree with Mid & Alison — if you think they’re likely to cut you off earlier, they don’t deserve any advance notice.

    1. Leela*

      I worked at a call center and based on that experience would say call centers definitely don’t deserve any advanced notice, however it will make you a stronger candidate for the next place that has to call your previous employer and finds out you didn’t give two weeks

    2. SisterSpooky*

      Call center leader here-omg yes we need notice! The schedule has been written with the assumption you are there. Time off has been approved, training, meetings. If you give two weeks that gives more time for us to make the needed adjustments. We are a kind call center, we never push people out before their two weeks. The power of one is real and we need as much notice as we can get!

      1. Devil Fish*

        Also from a call center and this varies a lot. I agree the notice is super helpful and if the call center is run the way it sounds like yours is, and if you treat people well you definitely deserve it. Other call centers? Not so much. The call centers I’ve worked at either walked me immediately after I gave notice, changed my schedule during my notice as some kind of weird attempt at retaliation, turned off my badge so I couldn’t get into the building in the middle of my notice or continued scheduling me after my notice was up because the term paperwork didn’t get processed or something.

        Tl;dr: You know what kind of call center you work at. Give them as much consideration as they’re deserving of.

  6. Princesa Zelda*

    Having worked and managed in retail and food service, for both the most common professional way of quitting was to inform management that you would be working out the current schedule and giving them a letter of resignation to put in your employee file. This was usually handwritten during the conversation and said something like “Dear manager, my last day of work at Store will be Day. Signed, Name.” I always had people work out their schedule and just didn’t put them on the next one, so it wasn’t always 2 full weeks, and at one place it was less than 1 week. So be prepared financially for them to do that, as well. It’s probably what’s easiest for your manager, and what’s easiest for your manager is the most likely thing to happen.

    For the curious, the most common way of quitting unprofessionally was ghosting. We rarely got the uniform shirts back.

    1. On a pale mouse*

      I wish most people in my retail job did that! Most of them either ghost, or call just before a shift to announce that they’re no longer working for us. There are no projects to wrap up or any of that, but the problem is that it leaves us scrambling to get coverage for their shifts that have already been scheduled, which can be difficult, especially for the jobs fewer people are trained for. Especially, of course, for the shifts when they’ve called just before or just don’t show up.

      I’ve heard that some retail employers deal with this problem by requiring people to come in when called for an extra shift they weren’t scheduled for, regardless of what else they might be doing with their time off (even to the point that they can be fired if they refuse). I think that’s a horrible way to treat people, so I’m glad we don’t do that. But please don’t put your employer in that position of trying to cover your shifts if it’s difficult for them and you can avoid it.

      1. Mel_05*

        Yeah, it’s really rough in retail or food service. My husband manages a restaurant and when someone quits without notice it usually ruins the weeks of 3-4 people who end up covering the shifts.

        And while the employees get overtime for working 50-60 hours, my husband just sees his hourly wage shrink below what he pays his shift leads. We miss planned trips and family occassions because Tiffany decided that she would rather go to a concert than work and just quit.

        And if you think Tiffany is not a 28 year old, single mother of three, but an 18 year old college student… well, so did I the first few times.

      2. Quill*

        Treating people well and letting them know you won’t dump them that day if they mention that they’re going to quit is the best way for you to not get the retail or food service equivalent of a resignation via cod.

        1. knead me seymour*

          I’m sure this does make a difference, but considering that a lot of people consider retail and food service jobs to be disposable, and these industries have a disproportionate number of inexperienced workers, I think it’s bound to happen sometimes anyway.

          1. Devil Fish*

            “these industries have a disproportionate number of inexperienced workers,”

            Not anymore they don’t. The last time I got a retail job where my coworkers were new to working was about 10 years ago and most of the new workers were college students. Most of the managers I’ve worked for since then are actively resistant to hiring high school kids with no experience because they don’t want to deal with that level of inexperience (not realizing that people who can get better jobs will get better jobs, so they’ll be stuck with some drama unless they’re willing to treat people with respect).

        2. Princesa Zelda*

          I treated my people as well as I could, and it still happened. The vast majority of my employees still quit by ghosting if they weren’t either 1) moving on to another, usually “better” officey-type job and needed me as a reference, or 2) going to college and had mom and dad coach them through how to quit. And ghosting didn’t mean they wouldn’t get rehired — it was a very small town, so often we’d have to hire them back 8 months later because they were the only warm body applying to the position and we were constantly severely understaffed.

    2. Viva*

      Yep. I manage in this kind of environment, and I feel like we’re doing pretty good at the moment because both of the people who quit yesterday at least called in to say they wouldn’t be back and brought back their uniforms. We do schedule people to work out their full notice period, but tbh most people ghost us in their last three days and we expect it now.

    3. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      My son’s two first jobs were retail and we encouraged him to give proper notice with a clear end date based on scheduled shifts. It’s so much cleaner that way.

    4. boop the first*

      Ha! I’ve worked in a lot of ugly uniform shirts, but I’ve never worked anywhere that wanted the shirts back… aren’t they DANK? lol. They only ever give you one or two, and then expect you to wear them for a week at a time and for the entire length of your service. No paid laundry service. Even after the weekly washing (no in suite laundry), I had to stow them in the bathroom, they reeked so bad. I worked in one place for almost ten years… by the end of the notice period, my shirts went straight into the trash.

      1. AnonnyNon*

        It is possible to wash them between each shift, especially if you had two. Much easier if you have in-house laundry facilities, but even a hand-wash in the sink is possible.

        -signed, former fast-food worker who only ever has one uniform shirt and never ever wore it without washing it between shifts.

        1. Devil Fish*

          How nice for you. I couldn’t afford to run an extra load of laundry every other day at the time, especially on a food service wage, and the grease-stank never really washes out all the way (that’s the gross smell we all reeked of: the rancid fryer smell).

          One place I worked had a whole closet full of the uniform shirts in different sizes in the break room and a laundry bin in the closet too. You grabbed a clean shirt, wore it for your shift, then chucked it in the laundry bin. The restaurant did the laundry and kept the supply of clean shirts topped up. This is the right way.

          1. TardyTardis*

            At the tax place I worked at, we had costumes for the wavers outside to get people to come in. One of the wavers, nicknamed Semipro, had her own costume and made sure it was washed (and NOT stored in the same closet with all the others). We had a selection of street people working those jobs, and the waver wrangler washed the costumes once a week, but it was not fun opening that closet, I can tell you that.

  7. AnneMoliva ColeMuff*

    #2 is interesting. I don’t think the employer should get involved, but surely the logistics of it are unworkable. You’d only need one 30 minute fare to put you over your break – and that’s assuming you get your fare right at the start of your break.

    1. M.*

      Yes, that would be my concern as well.
      Even something like a minor accident – obviously that’s something that could happen during a normal lunch break as well but it’s far more likely if you are spending your break driving under time pressure every day.

      1. Observer*

        Well, in that case, people should not be allowed to move away from their desk during lunch. Because “a minor accident” is just as likely to happen if you’re running errands as if you are ubering.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      #2 loses me on the rest and recreation point. Plenty of people go to the gym or race home to let the dogs out (Who? Who? XD) during lunch, neither of which are creative or restful. Plenty of others work a second job during that time that you don’t care about or see (Amway, Doterra, Mary Kay). Lunch is not just for rest or recreation (or, um, eating); it’s the employee’s break to use as they see fit as long as it doesn’t affect the office.

      I get why this is irksome to LW2, but … if it’s not directly affecting you or your colleagues and business, you don’t have to like what he’s doing to need to butt out. This is a MYOB. The minute it affects your business, you can say something, but until then, pretend he’s running home to let the dogs out.

      1. Crivens!*

        I’d be more worried about Amway, doTERRA, or Mary Kay if I were an employer. Then I’d be concerned for my employee’s well being since all three of those are pyramid schemes.

        Note: still wouldn’t have the right as an employer to stop them of course.

        1. Devil Fish*

          You would have the right as an employer to stop them from attempting to recruit coworkers into their pyramid schemes on work premises, and I would hope you would do that (as a general public service).

      2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I sometimes side gig as a personal trainer for runners and book clients in my lunch break. I have a great salary, but I enjoy doing it and generally am going on a run or to the gym anyway during lunch.

    3. Jedi Squirrel*

      When you drive for these companies, you know ahead of time how long the ride will be. You know where the pick up is and where the drop-off point is. You don’t need to accept long rides. These are NOT taxis.

      1. Dwight*

        Unless something changed since I drove for Uber, you don’t know any of that information. All you know is the pick up location, the surge amount, the first name and approximate star rating of the passenger. If the ride is over a certain time amount (used to be 25 minutes or so, but I think that’s changed), there would be a note that it’s a long ride.

        You only find out once you start the ride where the destination is, and you’re dinged for cancelling a ride once you’ve started.

        1. Spencer Hastings*

          Interesting! I assumed that when you put in the address to request a ride, that would be shown to potential drivers. (Why else would they do it that way, I thought.) So it always surprised me that drivers would ask me where I was going — I only use it a few times a year, so I didn’t spend much time thinking about it. It all makes perfect sense now! :)

      2. Lyudie*

        That’s actually not the case, as I’ve been told by many drivers (for Lyft anyway, and I believe Uber is the same). They do not know where you are going until they pick you up.

        1. Kat in VA*

          I wondered about that myself. And it explains why, sometimes, when we set up an Uber, the rider will cancel a few minutes before arriving. We generally use Uber to go into DC for a hockey game or an evening event where we might be drinking. Which all sounds fine and good, but a trip from where I live into downtown DC is 50 minutes without traffic (haaa, I crack myself up). I think it would be better for the drivers to know where they’re going ahead of time so they can decide if the time commitment is worth the fare, rather than leave me hanging standing in my driveway in a ballgown and heels in mid-December. :(

    4. Dust Bunny*

      But running to the post office or the gym or whatever could also do this. Leaving the premises in any way could do this. Heck, *not* leaving the premises could do this–one of my coworkers was back late from lunch because he got stuck in an elevator. Right there in the building.

      1. EventPlannerGal*

        Right, but I think the chances of that happening increase significantly when you’re not just running to the gym, but spending *every lunch break* constantly driving to different places. Not saying that he shouldn’t be allowed to do this, but he would need to be keeping a really good eye on the clock to make it work.

        1. Observer*

          Eh. I call concern trolling. The variety of destinations really doesn’t change the likelihood of a minor accident.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            I’m not trolling. What I am doing is not agreeing with you. I’m sorry if you find that difficult.

            The number of things that could cause delays to someone who is spending all of every lunch break driving around all over the place isn’t limited to minor accidents – he could get an unexpectedly long fare as AnneMoliva pointed out, get caught in bad traffic, roadworks, diversions, take a wrong turn in an unfamiliar area, run out of gas, have car problems, have to spend ages dealing with a difficult customer, etc etc etc. The point isn’t the number of destinations. The point is that if he’s out driving every day, he will run into stuff like that more frequently than people running to the same deli they go to every day or occasionally going to the post office.

            Again, I don’t think he should be prevented from driving as it doesn’t sound like it is affecting his work and therefore is not his employer’s business. I just don’t think it’s some crazy assumption to think that this stuff might happen to him more often than someone getting stuck in the office elevator.

          2. Elsajeni*

            No, but driving for someone else rather than for yourself changes your ability to change plans. If I want to go to the post office on my lunch break and run into some kind of traffic issue or an unexpectedly long line or whatever, I could turn around and go to a different post office branch, or do my errands in a different order, or just bail entirely and head back to work. If I have a passenger who’s expecting me to get them to the train station, or a delivery order that someone’s waiting for, I don’t have the option of adjusting my plans in the same way — I’ve got to get to my destination one way or another before I can go back to the office. That’s the real timing issue here: you can’t always predict how long a driving gig is going to take, and once you’ve started on it, you’re committed. (But if the OP’s employee has figured out a way to manage it so he’s making it back on time, or if he’s in a position where it’s fine for him to take a longer lunch, then great! It’s not an issue!)

    5. Willis*

      I thought the same thing. I don’t think it’s any of the employer’s business, but I’m also surprised it’s worth it given the time frame. I suppose that would vary a good bit depending on how dense of an area the office was in and how long it takes to find and pick up that fare. But regardless, not the employers’ business so long as it’s contained within that lunch hour.

  8. Lucky black cat*

    #4 I would find this question tricky too, because it feels hard to be honest. I want my manager to value my ideas, involve me in change and support my professional development, but who doesn’t?

    1. CastIrony*

      I hope for an interviewer to ask me this question someday: I want a manager who respects me and will listen to me when I say, “I don’t want to work with this other person because they have shown that they do not want to work with me.”

      I also want a manager who has patience, is kind, and fair. I also want them to be willing to answer questions, which I ask more of than the normal person. But once I get the main concepts and we are both happy with it, I will do what they want while singing their praises in my head.

      1. Lucky black cat*

        I wouldn’t say that in an interview. Wow. You’d basically be telling them you get into interpersonal conflicts and drama.

        If I was your boss I might not listen to that either, frankly.

      2. Leela*

        CastIrony, I might phrase that more like “I want a manager who respects me and will listen to me when I bring up issues that are causing work problems instead of avoiding them”, if you say in an interivew “I don’t want to work with this other person because they have shown that they do not want to work with me”, that interviewer doesn’t have the context to know that you weren’t just being difficult! Even if you were 100% in the right and can back that, starting off like that creates a bunch of blanks that the interviewer will have to fill in themselves and they usually won’t do so generously as it’s on them if you turn out to be a problem hire. As much as possible, make it look like you want resolution!

        1. CastIrony*

          Oh, no! I wouldn’t say this exactly. I am just upset with my work life and was basically making a wish list.

          Thanks for calling me out, though.

          Perhaps I could say, “Although I work well with many personality types, I found out that I work best with people who take a more collaborative approach and understand that I like to make sure that I understand them correctly.”

    2. MissGirl*

      As someone who has sat on the other side of the desk, this question can be very enlightening. We had one candidate start bashing his current manager, and he was an internal hire. Not everyone says what you’d expect.

      OP, it’s not your words that may be the problem, it’s your tone. Even in the letter I could sense your frustration and anger. Practice this question until you can answer it with more neutrality. Take out the line about wanting a manager who manages how you would. Focus on the positive attributes you’re looking for.

      Remember in an interview, it’s not always about the words said but the feeling conveyed. Pay attention to how they communicate, not necessarily the words they say.

      1. Interviewing OP*

        You do bring up a good point that I’ve mulled over – it very well could be my tone but in this last case I’m not so sure. But what I do wonder is if I’m so unhappy it’s coming off overall in my interviews. I’m working on that with my therapist.

        I keep getting in these situations where I have terrible managers, or I end up with more experience than my manager due to me taking a step down from a senior-level position so I could go back to having a life. Long story short -I’m also working with my therapist on better sniffing out bad managers until such t8me as I either win the lottery or find a way to work for myself.

        But I do thank you for the feedback – and will try to be more cognizant of my tone in interviews.

      2. SheLooksFamiliar*

        ‘ Take out the line about wanting a manager who manages how you would. Focus on the positive attributes you’re looking for.’

        This stands out to me, in a good way. I’ve asked this of candidates – and have been asked this question, too. One of the best answers I ever got was from a candidate who said she was fortunate to have worked for several great managers, and she outlined the traits and methods they had in common. I liked her technique and used it successfully when I interviewed.

        1. LilyP*

          Plus, if you say that and then just list off a bunch of positive traits people might think you’re using the question as an “in” to sell your managerial skills instead of giving a thoughtful answer about what from your manager

      3. beanie gee*

        I like this approach. Interviewing people who come off clearly disgruntled with their current job or have past grievances doesn’t come off well as a first impression, even if you’ve got very legitimate reasons to be unhappy and looking.

        If someone were to ask me this question, I might say that I’m looking for a manager who trusts me to do my job, but will give me the support and resources when I need them. Someone who will support my professional development and give honest feedback so I can continue to get better.

      4. knead me seymour*

        One approach that might be helpful could be to think of the specific attributes that you appreciated in previous bosses–even phrasing it in that way comes across more positively. I think it’s easier to default to thinking of your worst bosses and trying to find the opposite, but that reactionary perspective doesn’t usually come across very well. This assumes that you have had some bosses, or bosses of bosses, who had good qualities, though.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      We ask a variation of this question: “What type of management and work atmosphere do you feel brings out your best performance?” What we are looking for is people who don’t need a whole lot of guidance from my boss (because she is rarely around), people who like a combination of independent and collaborative work, and folks that are OK with trial and error, rather than being told exactly what to do, since a lot of what we do is new and no one knows the best way to do it yet. I think if you ask this type of question, you need to have a clear idea of what answers work and don’t work for your group.

  9. Language Lover*

    LW #2

    Yet we would like to discourage this since the lunch hour is for rest and recreation.

    Instead of discouraging him for doing things you don’t consider restful or recreation, I would encourage you to keep a more open mind about what resting and recreation could look like for others. Perhaps your employee is like me. I’ve never liked lunch periods. I eat quickly and then I don’t know what to do with myself. I don’t forget I have to go back to work so I don’t really decompress during that time. I’m happier skipping them.

    I can see the appeal of driving an Uber or delivering food. It’s just an hour and I bet that time flies. It’s purposeful so it doesn’t feel like just waiting for lunch to be over. I’m also going to guess that it’s completely different than your employee’s regular duties so it probably does give his brain the work break you want him to have.

    It’s work but it’s not close to the same kind of work. It likely makes him use a different skill set. And he gets paid. Bonus.

    If it’s not affecting his work product, leave this alone.

    1. Less Bread More Taxes*

      Yes, this exactly! If you hate reading, is someone who reads not using their lunch hour appropriately by your definition? There are so many examples where what you think are relaxing or fun isn’t what your employees think are relaxing and fun.

      Aside from that though, there are a ton of people who use their lunch hours to run errands, make calls, arrange schedules with partners and family, etc. I wouldn’t consider any of that to be “restful” or “recreational”, but the lunch hour is when those things get done. I can’t imagine you would bar someone from trying to arrange daycare pickups with their spouse during lunch, so you can’t bar someone from doing any other activity (as long as it’s not affecting the person’s work).

      1. Edvard Lunch*

        This. Last summer, I used to use my lunch hour to call my health insurance, several days a week. I was fighting with them on a coverage issue that my doctor had screwed up, and they were only open during business hours. (I would call them from my car, away from the office.) I would much rather have been driving for uber than talking to my health insurance!

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I’m the same way.

      An awkward required hour “rest break” drives me up a wall. I don’t find mandatory “relaxation” helps me, I’m not a toddler, I don’t need to go down for a nap to make sure I make it through my work day.

      I drive to run errands all the time because my mind is still engaged with things to do. I don’t want to read or watch cartoons in the breakroom or whatever. That’s cool for the people who do. I find something else to do.

      I think it’s pretty cool he’s found a side gig. Some people really enjoy driving for Uber. It could be his socializing and relaxation in reality.

    3. RegBarclay*

      Same! I can’t relax during lunch anyway so I tend to eat and do things like pay bills at my desk (the cafeteria is far less restful than my desk!). My company allows some flex time and I was able to trade half my lunch hour to be able to come in half an hour later. I appreciate that, I can miss some of the morning rush hour and I have less time to kill at lunch.

    4. Green Goose*

      #2 hit a little too close to home for me. Years ago I worked at a school and we had an hour and ten-minute lunch and we had a gym in the building so I would use my lunch hour to go to the gym. I was always back in time. One day I was called into the owner/principal’s office and she said that they had instated a new rule that teachers could only be off-site for a total of 30 minutes during their breaks. It still makes me angry when I think about it today.

      And, I had paid six months upfront for my membership. Employers should not have any say in how employees are spending their break time unless they are doing something that directly impacts their work.

    5. Traveling Teacher*

      Exactly. If this employee is anything like my dad, he finds driving to be extremely calming and loves nothing more than being on the road! So, for him, driving IS “rest and recreation”!

  10. Lucky black cat*

    #3 If they didn’t know you were ok with them sharing that information, it was best for them not to – sure, you’re fine with it, but someone else might not be and that’s fine too (I’d call that being private rather than secretive).

    After all, advocacy means making choices and if you’re not there to choose, people should ideally do the least-worst thing – except not everyone will agree on what that is, so people might get it wrong.

    It sounds like one thing you could do is try to change the culture around what people say if someone has been off. “How was your vacation” is just a thing people say when they’ve not seen you, but maybe you could start a culture of saying more neutral things like “Good to see you, how are things going?”

    (As an aside, HIPAA only applies to medical professionals, so isn’t relevant here.)

    1. TootsNYC*

      But those of us not in fields governed legally by HIPPA are free to adopt its standards as our own

      In fact, HIPPA’s standards are really just good manners

      So the team can say, “she’s on medical leave.”

      If people pry, the reply should be, “oh, it’s good of you to care, but it’s not something deadly, just complicated. She’ll be back pretty soon.”

      To further prying, they say, “I like to be respectful about people’s medical things.”

      I don’t think that’s too much to ask of the rest of the staff

      1. Devil Fish*

        I don’t disagree with your main points but it’s a problem if you cite HIPAA regulations that don’t apply to you as the reason for doing it. There’s already a lot of misinformation about HIPAA/when it applies, I don’t see the benefit of adding to this confusion.

    2. McMonkeybean*

      Yeah, I think it’s very possible, even likely, that they just said “Jane will be out for a month” and the volunteers assumed vacation.

      I just told someone I hope he has a good week off then realized later I didn’t actually know for a fact he would be on vacation and not, like, sitting at his dying father’s bedside or something. He just said he’d be out and my brain decided that meant vacation.

      1. MatKnifeNinja*

        I wouldn’t even say medical leave, unless I was the manager.

        Guessing coworkers said “Will be gone/off for a month.”, and people read into it “vacation”.

        We had a coworker who was hospitalized for depression, (told us later), and all we could say is they were off on a LOA.

  11. designbot*

    #4, is what you are looking for autonomy or authorship? That’s something that’s important to me and I wouldn’t hesitate to say so.

    1. CastIrony*

      What is the difference, if I may ask?

      I am a person who likes to be autonomous, but works best with a patient manager who is approachable when I have questions or concerns.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’m not designbot but I would take that as autonomy meaning you can work at your own pace/according to your own preferences/manage your own schedule and workflow vs authorship meaning you get credit and take ownership of everything you do. They’re not mutually exclusive, though.

    2. Interviewing OP*

      actually it’s interesting you ask. In my current role my manager allows for almost no autonomy in a role where you should have quite a bit. Granted I work in a large org with an inordinate amount of bureaucracy, this role should have a decent amount of autonomy but my manager is such a control freak.

      For other reasons not relevant he is clearly threatened by me which was the reason I left my last manager. In that case I couldn’t help the fact that she was too busy out on the prowl following her divorce, so 8 got stuck doing her job – better.

      But I digress.

  12. Alianora*

    I’m not sure if #3’s coworkers actually said they were on vacation. If I’m not misreading, isn’t it possible they just said,”LW is out of the office until November” and the volunteers assumed it was a vacation?

    1. Avasarala*

      I had this thought as well. I’m not sure the employer necessarily made a mistake/the wrong call here. Better to say little than to overshare.

    2. Lily Rowan*

      Yeah, people always assume out of the office = vacation, unless they explicitly get information otherwise. I’ve seen a colleague have to be out for most of the summer on medical leave, and come back to multiple people saying, “It must be nice!” Yeah, not so much.

      1. CrookedLily*

        That is so weird to me. If someone was out for that long, my mind would not automatically go to “extended vacation”.

        1. Admin of Sys*

          It can depend on the environment. I’ve been at places where folks have stored up enough vacation to take the entirety of December off, and do so as a matter of course. A long break isn’t common, especially in America, but I know people who could take it if they wanted to.

  13. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


    Ha, this happened to me.

    I work remotely most of the time now & go into the office for meetings for a chunk of the midday a few times a week. One early afternoon I hailed a Lyft to go home and was picked up by….someone who works at my company. In the middle of the work day.

    It was jarring! And certainly not that comfortable for both of us as here I am in her personal car (riding in the front seat ’cause we’re like back is going to be too weird) and here she is driving up to my home (nice house! she says) and 100 shades of weird. (She only realized it was me after she picked up the ride so she would have had to cancel the ride to get out of it which left her with a split decision moment of yes/no)

    And, I had to decide what to do. I am a senior exec at the company. She is not in my line of report, but closely related to it. She runs a tiny thing, almost autonomously, with two reports and is located on my floor of the company. (Her tiny thing is the only thing on my floor that isn’t in my chain so she is *almost* in my chain, if that makes any sense. If I believed there was wrong doing and I didn’t say anything, I would be failing responsibility to the company.)

    It wasn’t exactly lunch hour, it was 2PM. She was coming back from lunch when she got a Lyft call and decided to take it. She’s given a lot of autonomy and, one of the things she chose to do with that autonomy was Lyft at 2PM. I arrived home with an ethical dilemma and here is where I landed:

    I kept it as an amusing story for personal parties and said or did nothing else.

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ She is a long time employee. She has a good reputation. Her area functions well as far as I know. Also, I am pretty sure that picking up senior management while Lyfting during the work day will curb future Lyfting during the work day.

    Or not. But end of the day, I just moved along.

    1. VeryAnon*

      How much do you pay her? I know Alison said we should assume the employee is underpaid but ffs, there’s really only one reason a person would take up a dangerous, unregulated side job that comes with serious personal risk – especially for women.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Here are some other reasons: wanting to pay off student loans faster, planning for early retirement, picking up extra cash because saving for a house … there are a ton.

        1. I Will Steal Your Pen*

          That is an excellent point. I make a great salary but like to pick up extra work for vacation or something. My student loans are like woah so without it I wouldn’t be able to drive to the next town over and stay at an econo lodge. But it’s hard to explain to my friends who know I make significantly more than they do.

      2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

        Oh GOOD LORD. She makes plenty of money. Her car is expensive and gorgeous.

        She is management!!

      3. Myrin*

        Why are you so insistent on this, even with multiple people here disagreeing with you with factual examples from their own lives?

        1. VeryAnon*

          Probably because ubering / lyft is an extremely risky way to make money, especially for women? If I made lots of money I wouldn’t risk my life for a couple of extra bucks. And before you accuse me of hyperbole; you’re letting unvetted strangers into your car, for very little money; female drivers have reported sexual harassment, assault and stalking; other drivers have reported carjackings and physical assault.

          Why would anyone with money risk their life for $10 an hour? It makes no sense.

          1. Myrin*

            You are still completely ignoring the multiple, actually existing, real people in this very comment section who are disagreeing with your take, though.
            There are many extremely dangerous jobs out there where people technically risk their lives every day and yet those jobs still get done and there are even people who enjoy them!
            I don’t want to deny your feelings or the very real facts about assault and stalking, but you’re stating as universal truth something that even in this thread doesn’t prove to be universal at all.

          2. Snuck*

            A quick Google tells me that the hourly rate for a security guard in the US is $11-12 an hour… with set hours, set conditions, and a boss…. vs doing Uber… at your own whim?

            No brainer to me… and a LOT less risk I’d say in driving people with confirmed accounts linked to their credit cards than standing out the front of a 7.11 at 10pm….

          3. First Star on the Right*

            sexual harassment, assault and stalking

            This happens to women everywhere. Frankly, I see being a female passenger as being scarier than a female driver. But even if I felt it was flipped, guess what? The women who decide to drive made a choice to do so. The way you’re talking about them takes away their agency and says you think you know better than they do. That’s totally uncool.

            1. kittymommy*

              +1000. Taking away another adult’s choice because one believes that the choice is unsafe (and assuming that they must not have a choice in the matter) is just mind-boggling to me. I make a lot of choices in my life that others don’t agree with. Guess what? I’m 44 years old and I don’t particularly care if they agree with it. And I get to do that.

              We don’t need to understand why someone does something, but we need to respect their right to do it for themselves.

            2. Jennifer*

              I don’t see how being a passenger is scarier…but either way I agree that it’s their choice. I don’t get it but do you.

              1. Amelia Pond*

                I see it as scarier because you aren’t in control of the car- if the driver decides he doesn’t want to take you home, he’s in control. There have been cases of this happening, ending with the woman being sexually assaulted or raped. Women have taken Ubers after drinking and sexually assaulted. Women who have been stalked because the driver now knew where they lived (while the passenger can’t know where the driver lives). If you’re the driver, you can stop and demand they get out. If they refuse, you can get out and flee. That’s just how I see it and I totally understand other people feel differently.

                1. Amelia Pond*

                  Ack, I didn’t mean to answer with my old account! I didn’t realize the field still had this ine logged…

          4. Thankful for AAM*

            I’m a librarian. Recently in my state, 2 librarians were murdered. It was related to enforcing the rules of the library and asking patrons to leave. I spend much of my day enforcing the rules and asking patrons to leave if they do not follow the rules.

            I have evidence that my job is risky, yet I do it.

            1. Jack Russell Terrier*

              Where is Security in your library? I’m a Historian (historical expert witness work). I live in DC and have been to various public libraries around the country where there are people in the library who are off their meds and / or clearly need help.

              There used to have a metal detector and x ray machine at the main DC library (now they have ‘you can only bring in a carry on size bag policy’. There was the start of a fracas in the Philadelphia public library a while back that security took care of as it was just kicking off.

              It’s well known you should not use the restroom in the main DC public library. I was in the Local History Reading Room at the Trenton public library a while back and the guy there gave me the key to to the staff loos as he didn’t think the public ones were safe.

              In my experience – libraries are not safe havens! I could go all philosophical about how we navigate / treat homeless people but right now, the reality is take refuge in the public library and I can’t blame them as such – there aren’t all that many options with weather. Yet some of them aren’t stable and this makes for the need for good security.

              Librares are

              1. SimplyTheBest*

                I have never been to a library where security was anything more than the librarians calling the police.

          5. Mel_05*

            Well, I wouldn’t do it, but I’m extremely risk-averse.

            I also think, if I was doing it, 2 pm sounds like a safer time of day. And, depending on where I lived, I would feel safer about it too.

            But then, some people just aren’t concerned about these things like I am. It’s a crazy world.

          6. Joielle*

            Women do lots and lots of risky things every day – that’s practically an inherent part of existing in society as a woman. Women have reported sexual harassment everywhere, all the time. This is not some feature of Lyft or Uber specifically. (Also I’m not sure how we got on the topic of women, since the OP’s employee is not a woman, but whatever.)

            Could you avoid some risk by not doing rideshare driving? Yeah, probably. You could also avoid some risk by never taking public transportation, or never going anywhere alone, or never speaking to a stranger, or having a taser in your hand at all times… but there are also risks to doing all of those things, so. Risk is unavoidable, people find different types of risk acceptable, and that’s ok.

          7. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Because we want to? I have driven for both Lyft and Uber when I have a slow weekend and there is a big event (e.g. Pride, various arts festivals). That $10-$25 and hour is $10-$25 and hour more than I make sitting around doing nothing and I find it kind of fun. Is there risk? Sure. But lots of things I like to do are risky and I don’t get paid for doing them.

          8. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Oh no! The little ladies out there risking their lives!?!

            Oh good grief.

            There’s very little data you back up your BS. Where are the news stories about these women being attacked let alone assaulted? The technology stores your personal information. They have a line directly to them if there’s harm done.

            Women drive long haul. Women work with heavy machinery. Women work as first responders. Women do what they want. Living life is a risk for everyone.

            Go live in a cave if you want but keep your hands off the rest of us with you’re misfortune of being irrational.

            1. Devil Fish*

              Did you try Google? Google has a lot of data to back up their BS actually, including the news stories you’re asking for.

              I totally agree with you that women should be able to do whatever we want and make whatever choices we want but pretending a job isn’t dangerous doesn’t give us more agency. The world is dangerous for women and recognizing that isn’t the same as mandating some kind of antiquated cloistered social division to “keep us safe” (also the jobs you listed are dangerous because they’re dangerous jobs which is a different kind of dangerous job than the kind that puts you in contact with potentially dangerous people (like any job where you primarily interact with people—I’ve had a gun pulled on me in retail ffs, it can happen anywhere)).

          9. SimplyTheBest*

            Okay? So don’t make that choice for yourself. Plenty of other people are telling you they’ve decided the risk is not nearly a severe as you think it is and do it for lots of reasons other than desperation. Why are you so desperate to cling to this untrue narrative?

      4. Engineer Girl*

        You keep stating that there is “only one reason” a person would take up a “dangerous unregulated side job”.

        Please Stop.

        There are multiple reasons people do this.

        It is not always dangerous – it is highly dependent on city.

        Please stop.

        1. VeryAnon*

          I’m removing this because you are ignoring facts stated by others and derailing the conversation, and I’m going to ask you to stop commenting on this post now. – Alison

          1. Engineer Girl*

            I have not romanticized the gig economy simply because I have not commented on it. Your statement is false and misleading.

            I am well aware of risk analysis because that was part of my job for years. I am probably more qualified to assess it than you are.

            I will also point out that you solve the wrong problem when you create fake facts. You do no one any good.

            STOP IT

          2. Case of the Mondays*

            I know you have already received tons of examples but I’ll give you one more. There is a retired judge in my city that drives for Uber. He is super wealthy. He gets his salary for life. The city has a major taxi shortage and a lot of bars. This has led to lots of people drunk driving. He considers it a public service to drive for Uber so people get home safely. He donates a lot of money to charity and I bet his Uber earnings go towards that.

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              I also asked him once why he didn’t just offer people free rides and he said no one wants to take a free ride from some old man but they will happily pay the same old man for a ride through the app. Makes sense!

        2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

          Seriously. This commentor is flat out wrong, not just off base, and I wonder the agenda.

          I live and work in the Jersey suburbs and Lyft for transportation, when not pooling with the family. I take Lyft everywhere. Over 50% of my drivers are women and many of my drivers are supplementing income to pay for vacations and Christmas funds. Some people drive Lyft full time. Some people as a part time job for necessary living because their regular income isn’t enough. It is all over the map! But many of my suburban neighbors drive Lyft because they want extra income for reasons that are none of my business.

          The vast majority of customers during the day are people who profile just like me. We are going to work, the store, doctor’s appointments. Local hospitals partner with Lyft and will arrange pay for Lyft rides for patients to come to and fro. Lyft has transformed transporation options for people who need options.

          It makes perfect sense to me that someone who likes driving (not me, obviously) would want to make say, extra vacation money, tooling around and driving neighbors to doctor’s appointments. That is one thing that some people do. Assuming people only drive Lyft for substance income is classist.

            1. Engineer Girl*

              Your statements are false.

              The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that fisherman is the most dangerous job.
              Taxi driver is the tenth most dangerous job.

              Please stop using fake facts.

            2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

              You are doing exactly what Alison has asked you not to do, and you persist.

              I assume your derailing and misinformed comments will be removed when Alison returns, so I am not going to respond to you any more.

              You are wrong.

            3. Engineer Girl*

              BTW. The other dangerous more jobs are logger, pilot/flight engineer (includes test pilots), refuse collectors, roofers, structural workers, farmers/ranchers, truck drivers, power/electrical workers.

              1. emmelemm*

                Pilots, really? My brother-in-law is a pilot. They tell us air travel is very safe!!!

                (I do get that you said it includes test pilots/presumably military pilots, which he was, but is now a passenger airline pilot.)

            4. Engineer Girl*

              According to OSHA taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to be murdered than “other workers”.

              You are mixing apples an oranges and creating false equivalencies.

              You should not be doing analysis.

              1. Snuck*

                Completely red herring fishing here… but it’d be interesting to look at WHY Taxi drivers are more likely to be murdered… What in their lives etc increases their murder risks… (and it’s not necessarily their job!)

                1. Asenath*

                  They’re carrying money and can be called to suitably isolated places. Or directed there once the armed robber/murdered gets in the car. Actually, in my part of the world, the murder rate, taxi drivers included, is pretty low, so all this dire warning stuff doesn’t apply. And we don’t have Uber or Lyft. But people take low-paying jobs for all kinds of reasons other than dire need. At my time of life, a lot of the people I know who do it either want to supplement a pension (that is, not desperate, but want to buy something extra) or can live quite happily on their pension, but are a bit bored, and want something more flexible than and not as hard on the feet as, say, retail work or a contract in their former field. Judging by the people who work the delivery services, a lot of them are the age of university or college students, don’t appear particularly broke, but, being students, can probably do with a bit of money from a job that can be scheduled around their classes.

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  Carrying large sums of cash in the middle of the night?

                  But the driver referenced was doing it at lunch hour. It’s possible that the person works midnights but unlikely. So different risks.

            5. Blackcat*

              The dangers of being a taxi driver/Uber driver are almost entirely related to the dangers of driving. Car accidents are a leading cause of death for people in driving jobs including truckers

            6. Colette*

              Many people do enjoy working. Money is part of it, but there’s also satisfaction in helping people, accomplishing goals, learning new skills, solving problems, and other aspects of work.

              Someone who likes driving might well decide to deliver food as a second job. And a job like the OP describes gives a lot of autonomy to the driver.

              (I suspect a lot of problems taxi drivers have happen when people are drunk, which is more likely late at night than at lunch hour.)

            7. pleaset*

              “Taxi Driving is the most dangerous profession in the USA and UK – you are over *20 times* more likely to die on the job as a taxi driver than in any other profession (according to the US government statistics).”

              I assumed that it is a dangerous profession, but when you added the “over 20 times” it became obvious you’re just making stuff up. No way.

              So I looked it up. Stop.

              1. Engineer Girl*

                If you google “taxi 20 times more likely” you will pull up an OSHA page where it states that taxi drivers are 20 times more likely to get murdered. This is a subset of getting killed. But VeryAnon treated both data sets as the same, which they are not. Other jobs have higher death rates.
                VeryAnon did find the statistic but misinterpreted it. They made a logical fallacy of treating two unequal things as equal.

                1. JKP*

                  Also “20 times more likely” doesn’t actually tell you what the real risk is. If other jobs have a murder risk of 0.01% (made up), then 20x more likely would still only be 0.2% risk. Lots of things sound really scary and really risky when they use this “X times more likely” formula.

                  I deal with this a lot with pregnant clients who get freaked out by studies that they have 100x the risk of Y happening because of X thing they ate or did. And then when I show them the actual study where the original risk is so miniscule that 100x that risk is still a tiny tiny risk.

                2. Engineer Girl*

                  From the OSHA site:
                  “The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) data indi- cates that annual homicide rates for taxi drivers (and chauffeurs) from 1998 to 2007 ranged from 9 per 100,000 workers, to 19. During that period the rate for all workers was at or below 0.5 per 100,000 workers. In other words, taxi drivers’ homicide rates were between 21 and 33 times higher than the national average for all workers.”

                  So there you go – as you said.

            8. UKDancer*

              I’ve checked the UK official statistics from the Health and Safety Executive and while the order fluctuates very slightly year on year, frequently the top 3 occupations in which one is likely to die on the job are agriculture, construction and manufacturing. The most common causes of death tend to involve falling from a height or contact with moving machinery.

              So similar to the US trends really in many ways.

              1. londonedit*

                Yeah, I was going to say farming in the UK is absolutely recognised as one of the most dangerous professions there is. Not taxi driving.

                1. UKDancer*

                  Yes, agriculture was the number 1 in 2018-19 (although occasionally in the past it’s been number 2 with construction overtaking it). None of which is particularly surprising.

                  Taxi driving doesn’t even feature in the top 10 although driving HGVs does.

      5. 2 Cents*

        As a woman, I cannot eyeroll at your comment enough. But I guess personally regulating the gig economy and what roles women *should* fill is your hill to die on.

    2. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

      BTW, I wouldn’t have had a dilemma if this were a non exempt employee using a defined and accountable lunch hour for whatever she chose to do. My dilemma came from the person being exempt. The optics of an exempt employee, with reports, Lyfting during the work day are not good. If I had disclosed, and the info had fallen to a couple of PTB, it would have caused a minor shitstorm, disproportionate to any actual problem.

      Which is why I fell to substituting my judgement for theirs. Which, was either right or wrong but I am okay with standing by my choice should it ever come to that.

      1. pancakes*

        Why make a point of telling people about it as an “amusing story” if your primary concern is optics, though?

        1. Beehoppy*

          Wakeen said they share the anecdote at personal parties so I am assuming outside of events that would be attended by others in the office.

          1. pancakes*

            I didn’t misread it, no. Even at a personal gathering where you know everyone present quite well, someone there could nonetheless be dating someone who works at your company, for example, or who chats with them at a community garden they both have allotments in, etc. “Personal” isn’t synonymous for “discretion guaranteed.”

            1. SimplyTheBest*

              That’s quite a leap. There is literally no chance anyone in my personal life would be connected to anyone in my work life. I’m sure that’s true of other people.

            1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*

              Don’t worry, I got this. I can assess the risk in my actual life without internet stranger help.

    3. TootsNYC*

      It wasn’t exactly lunch hour, it was 2PM. She was coming back from lunch when she got a Lyft call and decided to take it.

      Isn’t this what Lyft and Uber were originally intended as? They weren’t originally intended as a full-time taxi service; they were intended as ride-sharing solutions.
      Someone is already driving around, so they essentially “carpool with strangers.”

      1. Wakeens Teapots LTD*


        The part where I had to make a decision was that she was coming back to work and picked up a call that took her off again. I live pretty close so I only added maybe 25 minutes on to her time out of the office, but Lyft rides are a crap shoot. I don’t know how she is making her decisions about when she drives and how her in office time is managed and I chose to trust that she isn’t driving for Lyft for a couple of hours during the work day while her reports cover work.

        Don’t know. That’s the call I made.

  14. Myrin*

    #1, I think this part is key in Alison’s advice: “especially when your boss has already shown she’s willing to press you to change your decisions when her friend is involved”.
    It would be one thing if your boss had said ONCE “I see that Tangerina Wobbleton applied for the role you’re trying to fill; I wanted to let you know that she’s a friend from my time at my old employer and I can vouch for her reliability, knowledge, and outstanding output.”
    But that’s not what happened at all! She’s pressuring you and being unreasonable, already showing favouritism and not being objective – that doesn’t bode well for a professional working relationship between the three of you! So I’d definitely push back on this in whichever way feels most comfortable and most likely to be successful to you!

    1. can'tremembermyusername*

      OP1’s boss probably thinks she can be objective and doesn’t realise she is already showing she can’t. It reminds me of when I was a teenager and the teacher of one of my classes was the mother of one of my classmates and the teacher’s daughter got so much favouritism and preferential treatment. Her daughter wasn’t badly behaved, well no more than any other teenager, we were actually friends, but she often undid the top buttons on her shirt or took off her tie (this was a British private school with very strict uniform policies, as teenagers we were all guilty of breaking the policy at some time or other), when the teacher’s daughter got told to fix her uniform by another teacher, which was a common occurrence for most of us, her mother yelled “don’t yell at my daughter” across the playground, the mother was the only one yelling. I heard that mother teacher talking to the same teacher she yelled at about how she tried very hard to be professional and not show her daughter any favouritism. The other teacher was clearly biting her tongue.

      1. Clisby*

        Even if the OP’s boss could manage to be objective, creating the appearance of favoritism is a problem in itself.

      2. Quill*

        I got the opposite when my mom subbed for me: I had a real problem with reading in class (to be fair, fourth grade math is not exactly captivating) so when she subbed for my class she’d open up my desk and clean out all the library books before even starting!

        The only other… benefit, I guess (depended on the day) was that I was about as likely to have teachers tell my mom on me for minor infractions than to be sent to the principal’s office.

    2. Smithy*

      My worry on this take is that I could easily see how this letter could be written from the boss’ perspective.

      The boss could approach this from: “A role is open on my team that a former colleague would be perfect for – with extensive experience in x,y, and z and brings a collaborative and friendly approach to work – an incredible asset for the team. The position’s hiring manager is resistant to even an initial interview and I’m simply advocating for my direct report to consider a very strong candidate. I have more experience in hiring, and I’m concerned my direct report isn’t taking my advice around which resumes best fit this role and the team as a whole.”

      It’s completely true that former colleagues can become friends to the point of no longer being objective and showing inappropriate favoritism. However, based on larger organizational politics – I’d be careful. Lots of companies give “preferred candidate” status to recommendations made by current employee. Which can easily be interpreted as favoritism to a friend, but does have a professional distinction that lots of companies grant.

      I’m not saying the OP shouldn’t push back or that this boss in particular doesn’t have a history of preferential treatment to former colleagues in a way that’s worrisome. But I think that if the focus is made too much on this being the boss’ friend – the OP could open themselves up to being hosed by internal office politics.

  15. Kisses*

    #3, just know I commiserate. It is a very hard thing to deal with, and just when I’m good, it all comes down again. Best of luck. May we be more than our illnesses.

  16. DiscoCat*

    #4 My current boss is an unholy mix of hands- off and micromanaging, little to no supervision and communitaion, no support when I escalate to him (he once told me it was my job to handle an unresponsive partner, even though I’d been on it for 6 months). Meaning he has no clue what I do most of the time, but needs to green light a lot of stuff (he’s the responsible project cooridnator) so when I go to him with items for final decision making/ consent he starts doctoring around the little things he told me he expected my executive decision. E.g. A flyer for a conference- he starts quibbling about the colour of the fonts and wants red writing on cobalt blue background in font size 12 when all I need is his final ok regarding contant, in case there has been communication where I was out of the loop. GAH! Help!

    1. Mel_05*

      Yes, I’ve worked for someone similar.

      I’ve read that a lot of micro managers are like that. Totally unavailable for a lot if the time and then hella nit-picky on the inconsequential.

      I once spent an entire work day making 8 labels for internal gifts. They would be immediately thrown away once the gifts were recieved.

      A full day of redesigns.

    2. Interviewing OP*

      Woah. Had you not mention your boss was a project coordinator I was about to send out a group Skype to see who responded to my post. All my coworkers know I’m obsessed with this blog.


    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Best advice I ever read: give him something to find and “fix”, that you can easily remove once you get back to your desk.

      (And also tell him explicitly that you need him to check the content for any changes you don’t know about. Heck, if you can give him the content in plain text, it might be even better.)

  17. First Star on the Right*

    I wasn’t going to suggest he was underpaid, but that he may still need the money- maybe sudden medical bills, a significant other losing a job, something along those lines. Or not! I do very much dislike that people who are just doing it to bring in some extra cash get, as if they’re less deserving of that job. (If that’s not ok to say, I totally understand if this gets deleted!)

    1. Traveling Teacher*

      And some people just like to hustle! Nothing wrong with hard work, in my opinion. And, some people have a lot of dependents or budget issues that others would never know about–maybe he gives extra cash to family, donates it to a cause he finds important, pays off bonkers medical bills or student loans, saves up for kids’ college funds, or even just drives for the pleasure of driving! SO many possibilities here.

      When I had a salaried job, I also took up two extra side jobs because I had no kids and I was only on a two-year contract. I’m fairly frugal by nature and thought: why not earn extra cash in case something goes wrong and/or pay off my student loans quicker/save for that down payment? Normally, adjuncting was my next step, and the adjuncts for my city’s university only get paid 3x per year, so it was very, very important for me to build up a big safety net (and smart, in the end, because paperwork “difficulties” for the university’s accounting department meant that I had to wait 8 months to receive my first two payments for the first school year of adjuncting…! See also: why I quit adjuncting!)

  18. Catalyst*

    OP#4 – As someone who asks this question, just worded differently, I will tell you I want an honest answer. This question is really important to help me figure out if you and I will work well together. I’m not looking for someone to trash talk their previous bosses, just explain a bit about what worked for them and what didn’t without naming names. I have had potential employees tell me that they want a boss that will give them direction every day on what they should prioritize (note this was a position that was 90% repetitive daily) – I knew I did not have time for that, nor am I the type of manager who wants to do that after training is done – so they were out of the running. Their honesty was good for both sides – we were not a good fit for each other. Be honest in this answer without pointing fingers at anyone from the past and it will help you find the right manager for you.

    1. Project Manager*

      Yes. I was going to suggest the LW look up situational leadership. It sounds like LW4 prefers an L4 type of leader but keeps getting matched with natural L1s or L2s who haven’t learned to adjust.

      I wouldn’t suggest saying that exactly, as the interlocutor may not be familiar with the situational leadership model, but looking it up might give LW4 some language to help define what they want in a manager.

    2. Interviewing OP*

      I do want to make sure I clarify that I also seize up when this question is asked because I don’t want to come off as trash-talking my boss. Admittedly I waited too long to start looking elsewhere – when it was apparent o me a year ago that he was a micromanaging control freak with less experience than me I should’ve started looking.

      And I guess as a manager I don’t ask this question because I feel you manage different people and different situations differently. But perhaps I should consider it.

      And to Project Manager – I think I’ve heard of situational leadership – I’ll research it and add to my notes for next time.

      And as an aside – I am working with my therapist to make sure I don’t come off as disgruntled.

    3. Interviewing OP*

      I do want to clarify that another reason why I seize up when this question comes up is because I’m worried it’s going to come off as trash talking even though I don’t mention that this is my current situation.

      As a manager I’ve never asked this question because I feel like management is very situational. But perhaps I should reconsider.

      1. MissGirl*

        I would definitely ask it! I have wanted different types of management at different points in my career. It’s important to me to know what I’m getting as I weigh an offer.

        Focus on the positive attributes you’re looking for. Mention the good management you’ve seen. Tone is everything here.

      2. Leela*

        I’d ask! You might find that someone who looks like a great fit won’t be good for your team when they say they want a really hands-off manager but you know that due to the nature of the work you’ll need to be quite hands-on frequently (constantly shifting priorities or processes for example), or if they say that really want someone to look over their work and you know you won’t have time to do that. Most people won’t go quite that far but some will!

        I think the main issue with this question is a lot of interviewers ask it because they heard they should but they don’t ask specific, directed questions that help them feel out whether the response indicates they’ll be a good fit for the team or not, and a lot of them are happy to hear a really bland, canned answer that would apply to anyone across the board. Because of this, a lot of candidates will also gives really bland, canned answers that apply across the board. But I feel like I ran into that with Hiring Managers at old HR/Recruiting jobs a lot, not for this question but for all of them (Are you a lone wolf or team player? for example. Everyone’s going to give a bland response to that and it’s not phrased in such a way that they’ll get the information that they’re after)

    4. Jellyfish*

      I was asked this during an interview for my current job. I loved my then-boss but had to leave that job for unrelated reasons. Mostly, I talked about things she did that I liked. It turns out my current boss has a very similar management style, so that worked out. Still, I have a hunch the positive framing gave my candidacy a boost too.

  19. Bookworm*

    #2: I think some context that is missing is what kind of job you hired him for. Is it a desk job? Does he not talk to people?

    Setting aside financial considerations, he might be someone who just likes being out and about and he’s in this desk job. He may like the interaction with people (maybe he gets perks at the restaurants where he picks up food?).

    I also find it a little weird (more work?!) but for him, this may be more of a “break” because he gets to switch tasks into doing something completely different (or not, because again, it’s unclear what job he’s doing with you now).

  20. Cheryl*

    A coworker of mine buys houses and rents them out. He often spends his lunch hour on the phone dealing with different contractors and tenants. It’s not exactly the same – he doesn’t get paid by the hour like an Uber/Lyft driver – but he’s still using this lunch hour for a side business, which is his right. People are aware and no one ever stops him, probably because any kind of housing-related issue, even for a rental, doesn’t feel quite the same as another “job”.

    1. Asenath*

      As long as he does it on his lunch hour, that sounds fine. There were rumours in another branch of one place I worked that someone used to slip off during working hours to do house repairs/give estimates for repairs for his side job, and that’s going too far. As was the case of another employee – I think that’s before the courts because it involved using not only employer time but employer property on the side job. Doing your own work during lunch is OK I think, although it can look bad to some employers who have other ideas on what their employees should be doing during breaks.

      1. Cheryl*

        It’s a gray area for sure. What if you were selling your own house and doing repairs or buying material at lunch – there’s still a profit being made, theoretically. What if you sell stuff on Facebook Marketplace and make deliveries at lunch? Or sell via mail order and go to the post office to ship at lunch. Update listings on your phone? Is it worse when it’s physical things being dealt with? Seems like people see it that way but I don’t really think that’s a fair assessment.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      Wow! It isn’t really a ‘lunch break’ issue as such, but that’s really tone deaf of the co-worker to do this in earshot of colleagues who are (presumably) all at different stages on life, maybe would love to own even one house but can’t afford it, etc. It seems as gross to do this as it would to be on the phone to your stockbroker – “buy buy buy!!!”

      1. McMonkeybean*

        He can’t talk about houses he owns as investments because some other people don’t own houses? That seems like an unreasonable take.

        1. Caramel & Cheddar*

          House flippers / people buying just to be landlords are taking affordable stock out of the marketplace for people who are looking to rent/buy for their actual living accommodations rather than as a revenue stream. Given the increasing number of housing crises springing up in many cities (small and large), I don’t think it’s surprising that people would be put off by someone doing it out in the open at his job. I also don’t expect everyone to agree with that, given the varied comments section of the recent post where the landlord wanted to renovict her employee.

          1. Princesa Zelda*

            I mean, sure, but it’s his personal business. I’m put off by people who talk about the Fancy Cheese they bought at Fancy Grocery Store uptown when I can just barely afford fresh produce from the Discount Grocery Store, but it’s not any of my business that they’re cheese snobs and they weren’t talking to me anyway. I’m sure they’re put off by the amount of time I spend talking about whatever time period I’m deep-diving into at the moment and I’m sure my coworkers wish I would just! shut! up! about imperial Russia already, though they’re much too polite to say so.

            1. Executive Assistant to My Dog*

              You sound awesome. I would actually love to have a coworker talk at me about their deep dives into historical time periods.

          2. Scarlet2*

            100% agree with you on house flippers and people using housing as investment. But I still don’t think this person should refrain from talking about it at work.

        2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          Obviously I don’t know who the colleagues are in this particular person’s workplace or what’s their situation in life, but in the places I’ve worked there are people trapped in the “renting trap cycle” * who are inwardly dying a little bit more inside every time unearned wealth gets ‘flaunted’ like this.

          * (rents are expensive relative to overall cost of living / market salaries / etc in the particular location, so a lot of your income goes on rent, so you can’t put any significant amount away for a deposit / down payment on buying a place even though the mortgage payments would be more affordable if only you could get that deposit, and meanwhile ‘career landlords’ have the leverage and resources already to add more ‘stock’ to their ‘portfolio’ thus pushing would-be first time buyers even further out of the market)

          1. SimplyTheBest*

            No. This is ridiculous. I rent. I will probably never own my own home. Someone else talking about the homes they own or the houses their flipping around me is not “flaunting their wealth” nor am I dying inside at someone owning something I don’t.

            Censoring your every move because everyone around you may be in “different stages of life” is just not possible or needed. Should a pregnant woman not call her OB on her lunch break because of the women in menopause? Should an employee not mention the ballgame he attended with their dad over the weekend because of the older employees who have lost their parents? Let people live their lives.

      2. PollyQ*

        Why is that any “grosser” than someone driving an expensive car to work, or wearing expensive jewelry? Sure, it’d be rude if they were bragging about them, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with simply going about your business, including making personal phone calls, even if you’re more affluent than your colleagues.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

          It isn’t — the stockbroker was just an example, I would think it’s “gross” to drive an expensive car to work when you know others are struggling or to flaunt expensive jewelry also.

          As a general comment (not an attack on you personally!) I think the more-well-off have a bit of a moral responsibility towards the less-well-off not to rub their nose in situations that are just an accident of circumstance (happened to be born a few years earlier, inherited money, etc) rather than due to any actual skill or hard work on the well-off person’s part.

  21. Smithy*

    LW #1 – Given everything at play, I would be very mindful in laying out exactly why the role you’re hiring for should not be done 100% remotely with occasional visits to the office and X time onsite on boarding. My team recently when from a transition to allowing more and more work from home and expanding to feature a few 100% remote employees – and for our leadership the adjustment was really hard. Push back around ideas like “they’ll miss out on face time with peers/senior leaders” and “what if the CEO drops by?” were used very heavily to the point of making our team’s leadership seem out of touch.

    Even with the change of a lot more WFH – it has not translated into a lot of 100% remote employees. If I wanted to move my job to be 100% remote, I could personally come up with a number of reasons of why that would not be best practice. But I just think that it’s wise to be mindful of the specific reasons someone in the office on a weekly basis is an important criteria of the role. This will be particularly helpful if you are able to go back to your boss and say “I don’t want someone 100% remote because of A,B, and C” – and if you still get pushback and then need go to HR with worries that your boss’ favoritism are trumping the business case, the reasons will be more clear.

  22. RC Rascal*

    Regarding #1–for this one I would go to HR and ask for hiring assistance. Rather than share directly the concerns about Boss pressuring you to hire Friend, instead focus on the remote work aspect. HR may kill the deal right there for their own reasons, in which case problem solved. When you do this play a little dumb regarding the power dynamics issue this hire will likely make & see if HR picks this up on their own. If they have any level of competence they will. There is a good chance they will handle things with boss, or enlist boss’s boss in managing the situation. BTW your boss is showing poor judgment by pushing this agenda. Probably not the first time boss has shown poor judgement. HR & upper management maybe more likely to help you than you expect.

    1. Smithy*

      I agree with this approach. I also think it will be beneficial for the OP to strongly articulate the business case why this role is not best served being 100% remote.

      While I respect the OP’s position that the boss is pressuring her to hire this person due to personal reasons, I do want to flag that this a former coworker of the OP’s boss – not a neighbor, family member, or strictly a social connection. I think if the OP highlights too much the friend perspective to HR now, the OP’s boss could come back with saying “we were just friendly coworkers and I’m advocating for the hiring of a strong professional who’d greatly benefit the team.”

      However – if the job really should not be done 100% remotely – then lean on that and get HR’s support around not filling the role with a 100% remote colleague. I have a former coworker who I’m also friends with. I’ve flagged her name a few times at work as someone who’d be excellent for xyz roles should the develop. Do I like her and wish well for her over anonymous candidates? Sure – but I can also list off her incredibly impressive resume and articulate why she’d be a valuable organizational asset.

      All of this is to say why I think the OP may be best served taking an approach like this. Certainly the line between former coworker and friend can come to a point where a manager is bringing favoritism due to the friendship and not the work product. However, I think it can also be a lot fuzzier and give a manager a lot of “we were former coworkers” to hide behind.

      1. Sutemi*

        If the role is one that can be done remotely, I would also push to open the req again with that listed. If you open the application to everyone who can work remotely can you increase the quality of the applications you receive?

        1. Cats and Dogs*

          I find these all to be very useful perspectives. Good luck OP. Not a great position to be in either way.

  23. Cat Fan*

    Where is it written that lunch time is for rest and recreation? Many have us run errands, grocery shop, go to doctor’s appointments, pay bills and do other things that were trying to squeeze into the day over our lunch time. Why is this letter writer trying to micromanage the Uber driving employee? Does he demand that all of his employees cease the other activities that I mentioned? I suspect not.

    1. WellRed*

      To be fair, there are managers/employers who truly believe this is what lunch is for. However, it’s up to the employee to manage their lunch how they see fit.

  24. voyager1*

    4: I am not sure if anyone else has responded with this. But I read “little oversight” as another’s reference to not being or doing micromanaging. But I imagine in interviews people are hearing it the way AAM did and it is giving them pause.

    1. Interviewing OP*

      You are spot on – I’m trying to say I don’t micromanage and therefore I don’t like to be micromanaged. I think I’m associating micromanagement like the f-word for some reason.

      But having someone outside my head give me a different perspective I’m for sure going to revise my answer for the future.

      1. PSB*

        I think you could swap “little oversight” with “autonomy” and be just fine with the same answer overall.

  25. iantrovert (they/them)*

    Re: #2, Alison is spot-on about lack of awareness. I once got a new manager who asked what kind of manager I liked. I knew from conversations with people who had worked for him that he was an extreme micromanager, so I told him that in general, I understood my work, enjoyed solving problems when they did arise, and collaborated well with others to do so, which is why I found micromanagement unappealing. It was all I could do to keep a straight face when he spent the next thirty seconds talking about how much he hated micromanagers too. The rumors about his practical fondness for micromanagement proved true and I eventually moved on because I didn’t have the energy to both do my actual job well AND spend significant time managing up. It made me realize that clamping down like that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  26. Jedi Squirrel*

    LW #2: Some people like driving and meeting new people. It’s possible that driving Uber is the way your employee rests and recreates.

    If you don’t like it, pay him for his lunch hour and then you can dictate what he does then.

    1. CupcakeCounter*

      This is my brother-in-law. He LOVES to drive. When he moved to another state he planned on being an Uber driver while looking for a job as a way to make money and learn his new city and was really disappointed that he found a job in his field before he even moved. When a somewhat travel heavy position opened up he applied and gets to drive to customers a few times a month in a variety of company and rental vehicles. When it was time to buy a new car he knew exactly what he wanted.

  27. JRay*

    It actually doesn’t matter if the employer is paid or unpaid. If we provide our employees a hour of “free time”, it’s generally theirs to do with as they please.

    The only restriction I would advise in this case is that the employer prohibit pickups/deliveries to/from the office since that has the potential to blur the lines between who they are working for.

    When the work is legal, happening offsite, and not a conflict of interest, it’s none of the employer’s business.

    1. HR Ninja*

      Exactly. What’s the difference between driving for Uber and donating plasma for money? Not much in my opinion.

      1. Do I need a hard hat for this?*

        I would think most of the concern would be about whether they’re making it back on time. If they’re driving for Uber, how do they know a ride won’t take them across town? If they’re delivering food, what happens when the restaurant is way behind on orders and takes forever? If I was that employee I wouldn’t want to put myself in that position, but everyone thinks a little differently.

  28. CupcakeCounter*

    Alison’s advise about future explanations is perfect but for what do say to people who ask about your “vacation” you could probably say something along the lines of “Oh, it wasn’t actually a vacation, I was on medical leave, but I am definitely feeling a lot better than when I left”

  29. Extra Anonymous*

    I don’t know where else to write this, but I am really disappointed to read that Alison is partnering with Vice. Vice is trash. Clickbait journalism at its worst.

    1. LilacLily*

      if you don’t like Vice, don’t click on the ads and don’t visit their website. It’s that simple. but don’t judge Alison for it. That’s a really shitty thing to do.

      1. It's Me, Margaret*

        Nah. It’s reader feedback on an advice website that has comment sections (not a cult of personality). The person isn’t being hostile, they’re stating that they don’t respect the site she’s partnering with. Alison can do what she wants but it will have consequences with some readers.

    2. Purple Energy*

      Being disappointed seems a little inappropriate. She is not someone you know personally. She’s not a politician or anyone who has any really impact on your life. She’s a person who makes money from giving advice and she found a new way to do that. You’re not obligated to read it if you don’t like it.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        You can be disappointed in anyone, this is pretty over the top to start nitpicking people about not feeling disappointment. She’s disappointed, not saying she no longer “loves” Alison or some weird nonsense. Come on now.

        When you do maintain a brand like Alison does with her work, it’s completely acceptable to disappointed in their avenues and outlets. This is exactly why some people would avoid writing for somewhere like Vice. Of course Alison gets to make that decision herself and weigh her options. She’ll get more readership than she will lose in the end. But there are outlets out there that would do harm to writers reputations and it’s why many writers will use pseudonyms for different avenues.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I think it’s cool that she’s adding actual content with some substance to the platform. It’s not like she’s changing her style and going Tabloid Allison on us.

      Only seedy nonsense. He’s not pouring cups of pee. Boss jumps in sink and pisses right there in sink! What do you do?!

    4. not here*

      The post about the Vice column would be the place if you really feel the need to announce that. It’s off topic here.

    5. anony*

      I don’t know what the issue is with Vice. Media Bias Check rates them “high” for “for factual reporting based on proper sourcing.”

    6. Anonymous For This Comment and It Feels Good*

      Thank you anonymous person for letting the commentariat know you are disappointed that Alison writing under her real name on another website.

    7. the one with the banana*

      What exactly is your beef with Vice? This is so strange to me. It’s a mainstream respected web site.

  30. LilacLily*

    LW #4, I agree with Alison on the little oversight part. I imagine you probably never had a boss that isn’t a micromanager, so let me tell you my experience with a boss that excercized as little oversight over his employees as humanly possible.

    We were a team of four employees, and he was our only boss. Our job was to give IT support to users on-site (our main job) and set up new computers to exchange the old ones (something we had to do when we weren’t helping on-site users). Our boss always told us what we had to do and how, but he never assigned work to individuals in our team – he just looked at the end results.

    You know what that means, right? It meant that I and another employee were the ones who ended up setting up the great majority of the computers we received, and the other two slacked off as much as they could get away with (which was as much as they wanted). Our boss could check who was doing what on a day-to-day basis if he wanted because we had a ticketing system, but he never did, which meant that we were working twice as hard as our coworkers for no recognition.

    At first I sucked it up and did it because I knew people depended on us to receive these computers, but after our backlog was done with and the responsibility of setting up and delivering computers got passed on to a different department, my coworker and I were really tired of doing twice as much work as our other two coworkers and getting nothing for it. Eventually, a new project came up: we had to talk to 150 users and ask them to please either exchange their old computers or upgrade their OS. Our boss sent us a worksheet with the user list and told us to work on it. Okay.

    Can you guess how that turned out?

    Week after week our boss would bring up the project during our weekly meetings, annoyed because the number barely went down. “Why aren’t we doing anything about this?!”, he’d ask, and we’d all look at each other and think “but WHO is meant to do this? we know it’s us, but I’M not gonna do it if no one else will,” and so the project never moved along. After about a month and a half of this he finally sighed – deeply, if I may add – and said, “you guys are going to have me split this worksheet between the four of you, aren’t you?”

    Guess what??? The number PLUMMETED within a week. Suddenly everyone on the team had a clear vision of what they had to do, had a timeline for doing it, and more importantly, had a way to show their individual work and results. Finally the work was being done.

    I was one of the top performers in the team and it drove me up the walls that he refused to manage us properly. It was one of the many reasons I left that job. Do I want a boss who breathes down my neck and dictates what I must do every work minute of my day? No, of course not. But do I want a boss who does the bare minimum to oversee his department? Absolutely not. My old boss got away with it because we had a really light workload, and so the fact that half the team slacked off didn’t leave the top performers overworked, but it sure annoyed the hell out of the people who were picking up the slack.

    1. Interviewing OP*

      Oh lord….I hope you’re somewhere better now.

      I mentioned this above but I think I was equating oversight with micromanaging which is a mistake. And had I not gotten Alison’s input (as well as several commenters) I probably wouldn’t have realized it.

    2. Sparrow*

      I get that you were making a point, but this doesn’t sound like a great idea because it reflects poorly on all four of you, not just the slackers. Can I ask why you or the other high-achieving employee didn’t say, “Let’s divide the list by four; here’s your part,” and tell the boss how you were handling it? That way your coworkers expose themselves if they refuse to do their portion but you don’t get lumped in as part of the problem because you’re also refusing to do the work.

      1. PSB*

        Bingo. And why on earth not discuss your situation with your boss? Bosses aren’t omniscient. He may well have been a terrible boss, but he also may have thought he was giving you the autonomy to manage your own daily work. I’ve managed a few help desks and I generally never looked at the tickets daily either. That would have felt like micromanaging. The flip side of autonomy is being expected to take the initiative to resolve problems when they arise, either by addressing them directly or bringing them to the manager’s attention for help. As you’ve described it, your approach sounds a little more passive than what I’d hope for.

  31. Rex Manning*

    OP #2: I know a lot of other commenters have said this, but I’m extremely wary of any employer or manager who wants to “discourage” how I use my time off, whether that’s something as small as a lunch break or as big as my weekend or vacation time. Where do you draw the line? If you’re okay telling them how to spend their mid-day lunch break, are you also going to start telling them what they can and cannot do on the weekend? Or approving PTO based on their vacation plans and if it measures up to some “rest and recreation” standard you’ve set? Are you “discouraging” other employees who use their lunch break to work out or go for long runs? Exercise surely isn’t restful. Or what about if an employee is running errands, or to an appointment, or getting caught up on other personal tasks like homework or their taxes? Those aren’t recreation.

    They aren’t on company time, they aren’t being paid, and you have little to no say in what they decide to do. If you want to tell them how they should or shouldn’t be spending a lunch break, then you need to pay them for it. The end of the line here for me is that unless it’s affecting the employee’s performance, you need to mind your business.

    1. Dagny*

      Yes, yes they will do that. Suddenly it’s not okay if you’re limping a bit on Monday morning because you ran a marathon on Saturday, or it’s not okay if you want to use PTO to go to a charity dinner.

    2. Important Moi*

      I agree with this completely. I was looking for someone to gently articulate my thoughts. Nice job.

    3. emmelemm*

      Agree 100%, and yet we’ve even had letters where employers have nixed their employees getting strictly weekend second gigs. Unbelievable!

  32. Flash Bristow*

    Out of interest, why is it a two week notice period in the USA? It’s typically four in the UK, unless you’re on a temp contact which states or allows otherwise. Any idea why they differ?

    1. Purple Energy*

      US employment usually doesn’t involve a contract, which means that most people technically are not required to give any notice when they leave a job. However, as Alison mentioned, there is a general agreement that 2 weeks is an appropriate amount of time to handover your work to someone else or at least document your work.

    2. Close Bracket*

      I don’t think there is a reason. There is general agreement, as pointed out, but there is no reason behind that general agreement.

    3. Meißner Porcelain Teapot*

      I’m not entirely sure if this is why, but I think it stems from the pay period. I haven’t worked in the UK yet, but I am currently working in Ireland and my co-workers are from all over the world. Pretty much every job any of us Europeans ever held paid once a month, whereas my North American colleagues are used to getting paid every two weeks.

  33. That Would be a Good Band Name*

    #5 – I can’t speak to your personal situation, but I worked at a call center for 8 years. I saw people quit without notice that for (various) reasons wanted to come back later. They weren’t able to. I get the temptation to not give notice, but be aware that at some unforeseeable point, you may to be able to go back to an employer that is always hiring.

    1. Quill*

      My friend worked at one where some chick just walked out with her phone off the hook and a customer still on the line.

      … I could always assume the customer deserved it but that place was an INTENSE drama factory so it’s possible it wasn’t even about them.

    2. LW #5*

      Agreed that being eligible for re-hire is definitely a consideration on my side (which is why I’ll be giving an appropriate notice). That said, I’d say that goes back to the convention/professional courtesy angle as opposed to an actual business need. Seems like there isn’t a real business need for the notice period in my particular situation, especially since there are a couple hundred people in my department, so having 1 more person be out than was forecasted won’t actually have an impact on the workload.

  34. Dust Bunny*

    LW1 if you have a good relationship with HR and can count on them not to overreact, I would tell them that your boss is pressuring you to hire her friend, anyway. I think I would want them to know that she’s doing this, just as a general thing, even if it turns out not to be an issue this time, because it’s an across-the-board unprofessional thing to do.

  35. Tachy IT Lady*

    LW #2 – If you’re not providing a paid lunch hour, then please mind your own business. Simple as that :)

    1. my lunch break is paid*

      But let’s say it were a paid lunch hour? Can’t you still do what you want during that time, as long as you’re not using company resources or letting it affect your work?

  36. Rainbow Roses*

    #5 Call Center employees may not need to tie up loose ends but the company may need the time to figure out the schedule, hiring a replacement, etc.

  37. Dagny*

    #4: This is a perfect “compliment sandwich” opportunity. Start and end with positives, but put any deal-breakers in the middle.

    “I value managers who are upfront with expectations, act professionally, and support my professional development, and I strive to give them my absolute best. In a previous role, I had a manager who often said demeaning things about women, screamed when he was angry, micromanaged, and threw people under the bus for his own errors. That was a job I left because of bad management. When I interned, I had a fantastic manager: in addition to my normal work, he gave me high-level tasks to see how I would do, supported my professional development, and was always very professional. I was a 20-year-old college student and during crunch time, put in 60 hour weeks to support the company.”

    1. Filosofickle*

      That middle section reads really negatively to me! I’d hear that as badmouthing former bosses. Each one of those negatives could be flipped into something you seek in a manager — treats people fairly, calm in stressful situations, provides autonomy, and takes responsibility / holds self accountable. I still would not go into that much detail, and would especially skip the last one, but I’d focus on “what I seek” rather than “what I hate”.

      1. Dagny*

        You can condense it, cut a few parts out, etc., but if the current boss is a screamer or into throwing people under the bus, this is your opportunity to figure it out.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      But “compliment sandwiches” are also called “crap sandwiches” for a reason. They’re not a good practice, and someone who thinks so will also recognize one a mile away.

  38. Degen from Upcountry*

    As a call center scheduler I am glad to see letter writer #5’s answer. Losing even one employee in a call center really does affect the whole department, and it can take 2-6 weeks to train a replacement.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I think most people would be surprised at the amount of training a call center employee receives. It’s not just answering the phone!

  39. Triple Threat Diversity Hire*

    OP #4 – I wonder if you’d be more comfortable starting off with language like “supportive” vs. “directive” to articulate your point. To me it comes off as much less pointed to say “I prefer a manager who is supportive rather than directive so that I can exercise the decision-making power of my position and be accountable for those decisions” than to say “I dislike being micromanaged”. Even though a pushy interviewer might keep digging, someone who’s open to taking the hint would probably understand what you mean.

  40. Anon Here*

    #2 – There are two options here:

    A) The company starts paying people for their lunch hour and dictating how they spend the time. I think it would be fair to require people to rest if they’re being paid. Then it’s part of the full work day.

    B) The company stays out of it, at least for now.

    The company’s leadership should discuss the main concerns and then address it by company-wide policy. Individual employees should be left alone to manage their own time.

    1. ACDC*

      Agreed. I think policing people’s unpaid lunch hour is a slippery slope. Like what constitutes rest? Would I be allowed to go to the gym or is that considered the opposite of rest?

  41. ENFP in Texas*

    #2 – if it’s not impacting his work for you, it’s really none of your concern what he does with his breaks. Maybe he has consumer debt he’s working to pay off, and Uber is a side hustle to help reach that goal more quickly. Maybe he’s trying to earn some extra money for the holidays. Maybe he just enjoys doing it.

  42. Zach*

    #2- Good lord. The answer to “Hmm how can I stop this employee from having a second job at lunch” is pay them more. It baffles me when people wonder why people are picking up second jobs. It’s because you’re underpaying them.

    (I realize you may have no influence over that process at your job, but that’s the answer. If you have no ability to change that, then yes, let it go.)

    1. ACDC*

      There are a lot of comments higher up in the thread negating this. Also, Allison asked us not to assume that person is underpaid.

  43. Atalanta0jess*

    I haven’t read every single other comment, but I think the ones I’ve read, and also Alison’s reply, miss something about your quandry, LW #3. Or at least fail to address it in a way that feels to me like it respects your wishes around transparency. It sounds like you WANT to share that it’s a mental health hospitalization, for the purposes of destigmatizing, and using your story to help others. Obviously you could do that after the fact, but I also don’t see why you couldn’t give advanced permission in case this happens again. People who foresee a possible time away FREQUENTLY arrange for messaging to be sent out – e.g. maternity leaves, surgeries, cancer stuff, etc. I don’t see why you shouldn’t be allowed the same control of your narrative.

    I think that in line with the idea of WRAP, or mental health advanced directives, you could prepare a statement in advance and give your colleages/HR/whoever explicit direction to release that statement if you were out due to mental health reasons in the future. It might make people a little uncomfortable, but that’s their problem, because honestly it shouldn’t be any weirder than “out for a knee replacement!” (It might also become your problem, when they say weird things when you come back….but if you’re ok with dealing with that, then sally forth!)

    I work in MH, and have seen colleagues struggle to be able to share their own struggles, including keeping hospitalizations top secret. I have massive respect for your willingness to do so, I think it’s so helpful for every single one of us.

    1. Red Wheelbarrow*

      I agree with Atalanta0jess that the conversation about #3 doesn’t adequately address the LW’s desire to be open about her mental health issues in order to destigmatize mental illness. However, if another person is spreading the word on the LW’s behalf, I agree with Alison that it’s best for them to be somewhat vague (e.g., “medical leave”). One reason is that other co-workers with mental health issues, who might prefer to keep them private, could hear a more detailed report of the LW’s health as a sign that their own privacy around mental health is at risk. When the LW gets back, though, there’s nothing preventing her from sharing as much information as seems appropriate and comfortable to her.

      For what it’s worth, when I was hospitalized for depression a few years ago, I shared that information with my grad school adviser, my employer, and my freelance clients. There were details I chose not to share (e.g., suicidality, ECT treatment), but I gave them the basic picture. Luckily, they all responded with sympathy and understanding. It was definitely taking a risk, and I might not have done it in different circumstances. But I don’t regret it.

      1. Atalanta0jess*

        oooh, this is a good point. If you do ask work folks to share details, it might be best to prepare a statement like “jess has asked us to share that she is currently hospitalized due to her bipolar disorder.” So that everyone knows it was a requested-share, not a violating-share.

        Red Wheelbarrow, so glad folks around you responded kindly. I hope things are ok-er now.

      2. Letter Writer 3*

        That’s a good point about wanting others to feel comfortable that their privacy will be respected if they choose *not* to disclose. I think where I’m sitting right now is, my husband is aware of my wishes around disclosure if I should die by suicide, and otherwise I think explanations more specific than “she’s on medical leave” will have to wait until I can deliver them in person.

        I think part of why this was such a struggle this time in particular was because I did have ECT, and coming back to work as a manager with retrograde amnesia is its own special kind of hell. It frustrated me to tears to know that I had forgotten things that were important to my team, and in some cases even forgotten who they were, and to them it looked like I just didn’t care. Nobody can prepare you for that.

        1. Red Wheelbarrow*

          Much sympathy about the ECT after-effects, Letter Writer–that sounds really, really tough. And I can imagine how frustrating it would be to feel unable to clarify. I hope the forgetfulness recedes over time along with the symptoms.

          And yes, thanks, Atalanta0jess, I’m doing much better now–stable going on three years, thanks to good doctors, lithium, and luck!

  44. Third or Nothing!*

    OP#2: “Rest and recreation” mean different things to different people. I myself spend my lunch hour at the gym. I am most definitely not resting, but I feel more energized and ready to get stuff done after a workout, even though I’m sore. On my rest days, I go grocery shopping. I’ve found staying active in some way during the lunch hour is crucial to avoiding the afternoon slump.

  45. Spargle*

    Re #3: there’s also something to be said for giving more information than people want. While being told you were on vacation when you were hospitalized isn’t great, knowing it was a medical issue is all they need to know or probably even want to know. I volunteer at the local food bank and honestly – I don’t need to know about the mental or physical health situation of the full time employees, or the other volunteers. It’s not a stigma thing (I have anxiety myself) but it’s more information about them than I care to have.

  46. Leela*

    OP #1 dodge that bullet at all costs! It bothers me enough that your manager is pressuring you to hire a friend in general, but pressuring you to do so knowing that you feel remote work won’t be a good option for this team? She’s not thinking about what’s best for the business or who she’ll affect with this, and she’s not going to start thinking about those things once you’ve brought this person on board.

    I really agree with the suggestions that you go to HR about this, there are ways to phrase this that aren’t “my terrible boss is making me hire her friend, get me out of it” and as long as it’s not phrased like that you should be fine (if she’s reasonable, if you don’t have reason to believe that the company would throw you under the bus etc but in cases like that this isn’t the only problem here). If this hire doesn’t come back to bite you hard, it would be complete coincidence. It might shake out that way but the risk is way too high and it’s much easier to keep your manager’s friend off the team than it will be to remove that friend once they’re here if you need to.

    Your manager is sending some pretty strong red flags that she will get in the way of you doing your job when it comes to this person and I’d hate to see you wind up in a situation where you’re getting a talking to if you have to give constructive feedback because this person ran to your boss and your boss disagrees, based on Old Company. If this person has an issue with you and goes to grandboss – your boss – you run the risk of being extremely ganged up on and undermined here. Your nagging suspicions are correct here, don’t bring this person on!

  47. Bear*

    Concerning letter #1, if your boss wants it done, you get it done. HR is there to protect the company from you and should be seen at all times as taking the position of your employer.

    The only possible way out of this situation is to have hiring criteria that is scored and weighted. Apply weighting to the in office vs. remote category and score according to an objective index. Or, position the hire in a committee format with the same standards applied.

    At the end of the day it will be better for you to a)hire your bosses friend; and b)show that you followed an objective process that resulted in that outcome. Then, everyone is happy!

    1. pamplemousse*

      It’s not good for the company to hire a person who isn’t right for the role because they’re a personal friend of the LW’s boss, though. Preventing that outcome is a perfectly acceptable role for HR. One manager ≠ the entire company.

      1. Bear*

        Going to HR is a bad move and just makes it seem that the OP cannot handle her responsibility. OP has the option of telling the boss the the candidate will definitely be considered and then applying the same standards that all candidates will have. If it turns out the fit is there, problem solved. If not, then don’t make the hire. HR will lead to someone’s eventual resignation but it is too early to call who that party will be.

  48. Shay*

    3. As a manager, in this instance I would say, “Sally is on a leave of absence.” Specifying “medical” feels intrusive to me and it isn’t my place to share that a medical emergency has taken place. NOTE: I would say this if LW broke a leg – this is all medical to me and not for me to share.

  49. Buttons*

    Notice is relevant in a call center, they have some of the most detailed workforce management and scheduling processes I have ever seen. They look at time of day call volume and who is on vacation, # of employees likely to call in sick, and # shift employees. They typically plan out months in advance. By not giving notice it likely means someone else will be called in to cover that phone volume. It won’t kill them, but they do a lot of planning around it.

  50. Buttons*

    Once a week I spend my lunch hour with my compassionate care dog at the nearby Alzheimer unit within a nursing home. I come back on time, and it doesn’t affect my work, so how is this any different than driving for Uber? Leave the guy alone and MYOB.

  51. bonus4meplease*

    OP #4 here. I used most of AAM’s script and they countered with a signing bonus equivalent to the amount I would be receiving at my current employer! Thanks for everyone who weighed in on the matter, I’m quite satisfied with the result!

  52. DCBA*

    #5 – I manage a call center project, and while 2 weeks probably isn’t strictly necessary, please give some sort of notice! We have people who just start not no-call/no-showing, and refuse to tell a manager they’ve quit. We also have people who walk in at the start of their shift, hand over their badge, and walk right back out. Our project has overlapping schedules, so having someone on a shift abruptly not work leaves coverage short for a few hours.

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