my former employee lied to get a new job, paper turkeys, and more

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

1. My former employee lied to get a new job — should I do anything?

Recently I became aware that a former direct report of mine had landed a new job with a new employer. Kudos to him! But the job he got is well beyond his abilities and experience, by about 10 years. He jumped about three levels, to an equivalent level to mine. Curious, I checked out his LinkedIn and his professional site, and what I found is rather shocking. He has, in essence, made it sound like he was doing my job. He completely exaggerated his role and responsibilities and taken credit, not just for my work, but for all the work of his former coworkers.

I am no longer with the company where we worked together. He was fired from that job (like escorted from the building, fired) a few months after I left, for, among other things, malfeasance and insubordination. I was keeping him in check while I was his boss, but once I left, he went completely off the rails. His new boss was formerly an executive at the same company where we worked together, but he wouldn’t have been aware of this guy’s antics. I know his new boss, and so do many of his teammates.

Suffice it say, his former teammates are pretty disgusted with him, and some of them have talked about outing him to his new employer. It would be very easy for them to do so.

I’m no longer in that business sector, so this doesn’t impact me directly, and I’m pretty sure his unstable behavior is going to get him fired again. But I’m pretty insulted by what he did. Should I just let this play out? Should I drop him a note letting him know that I and his former teammates are on to him? Should I contact his boss?

It’s odd that his new boss knows you were this guy’s boss, used to work with you, and didn’t bother to contact you. Maybe since they’d worked at the same company, he assumed he already knew enough about him and didn’t realize how much he actually didn’t know.

Anyway, I’d leave this alone. It doesn’t affect you, and he sounds likely to implode at some point anyway. You might as well keep your hands clean. (I’d give a different answer if you’d said he was in a position to do real harm, such as working with vulnerable populations or, I don’t know, driving tanks.)

Definitely don’t send him a note saying you’re on to him! That could have unforeseen consequences, like him setting out to harm you professionally; there’s no point in taking that on just to mete out justice here.

2. We’re supposed to decorate paper turkeys with praise for our bosses

I know you have talked about not giving managers gifts/presents, but I’m looking for an opinion on this. Every Thanksgiving, our “party committee” does a thing where people decorate paper turkeys with words about how wonderful their managers are (supposedly anonymously but, yanno). It’s only in our department, not a company-wide thing.

Now, technically I am a manager and receive these turkeys (as well as the option to decorate my own for my managers, yay), but it makes me super uncomfortable. I don’t want my reports to feel like they need to tell me I’m a nice person or whatever this weird popularity contest is. On the other hand, it’s not a gift, it’s optional, and managers get a lot of shit, so I conceptually understand the appeal of some nice words. Thoughts?

Ick, yes. It sends a weird message to organize an activity where the whole point is for employees to praise the people who have power over them. And using paper turkeys to do it is a strangely juvenile touch. (I hope these are the ones where you trace your hand, per kindergarten turkey protocol.)

If your party committee wanted to put out cards and pens so people could write thank-you notes to anyone who has made their life easier this year, that would be fine. It’s the managers-only element of this that makes it feel off.

3. My coworker just took off Christmas of next year, so now no one else can

I work on a small team that does a critical business function. Between the 6-7 of us, everyone performs this function for a specific region and is cross-trained to perform it in a few of the others. When it comes to PTO, this means my boss will only approve one person for any given day to make sure we still have enough coverage in case someone also gets sick.

Due to the first come, first served nature of our system, I frequently get the short end off the stick for holiday PTO. I am unable to make solid family plans more than about a month in advance due to my family’s workplaces’ PTO/scheduling rules. This didn’t bother me when people were taking off the holidays in the spring and summer, but now I have had a coworker block off Christmas a full 13 months in advance. The fact that the people taking the time off are staying local and have local family, while I can’t visit my family without it having to be an overnight trip only makes me more (unjustly) resentful. For this year, I was able to speak with to my boss early and have work from home approved (possible for the job but rarely approved).

I don’t have a problem with giving planners the priority in general, but certain point it stops being fair or reasonable. I want to talk to my boss about modifying the PTO rules for holidays starting in 2020, but don’t want to go in without a good alternative. I was hoping you or the readers would have some good suggestions.

I don’t think your resentment is unjust. First come, first served systems for PTO often end up being unfair for exactly this kind of reason. And if only one person can be out on any given day, it’s pretty crappy of your coworker to block off all of Christmas time 13 months in advance, when no one else is likely thinking about it yet. (I mean, yes, she’s just working with the system she’s been given. But it’s not great.)

There are some suggestions here and here that you could consider proposing, like having everyone submit their first, second, and third choices for time off throughout the year and making sure everyone gets at least one of their picks. But I think the bigger issue is the rule that only one person can be out a time. That might work the rest of the year, but unless it’s truly essential for the work, it’s not a good plan for Christmas time, when loads of people want time off to spend with their families. Right now, if one person goes away for a week during the most desired vacation period of the year, no one else can have any time off then. That’s a bad system. Can you and your coworkers propose handling this time period differently (especially if workload is lower then, as it is for many businesses)?

That said, if your family doesn’t make plans until a month before, that’s a big constraint to work with and there might not be any system that works well for you (since you can’t reasonably ask your coworkers to hold off on reserving time until then). But there’s clearly a conversation to be had here with your team and with your manager about making this better even if it can’t be perfect.

4. Start date and losing a bonus at my current job

I just received a job offer and they’re hoping for me to start just a few weeks before my current firm hands out end-of-year bonuses. I was hoping that their proposed start date would fall in the new year, so I could earn my bonus at my current job and give my notice a few days to a week later (not the best, I know, but I worked for that bonus!).

I’m wondering if this is something I could mention as part of my salary counteroffer? That way, I would be much more willing to accept the earlier start date.

Yes, although I’d start by asking if you can adjust the start date, which might be their preference. Try this: “Ideally I’d like to stay in my current role through December in order to receive my bonus, which I expect to be $X. Would it be possible to set X as the start date instead? Or alternately, would you be able to increase the offer by $X so there’s no financial loss for me by starting with you earlier?”

5. Listing freelance writing work on a resume

I went freelance when I moved to a smaller city. It’s not always the best, but it’s allowed me to have a much higher salary than people who work locally in my industry. I’m a writer, and on any given week, I typically work with 3-4 different publications, but not every publication every week. I counted recently, and I’ve written for about 10 publications, with the number growing. I also do a pretty wide range, from copywriting to more reported features. I’ve also picked up some part-time, hourly work here and there, which is a great way to pay the bills. It often requires going through a short hiring process, or, at the very least, submitting a resume.

Until recently I didn’t have this work on my resume, but the gap is getting pretty wide and it’s weird to leave off the last eight months of work. But I have no idea how to represent it! I have done some googling and a lot of freelance recommendations seem like they are for people in a more perma-lance situation and recommend putting each job as a separate entry — but my past eight months of work would already fill up a page! I feel like ideally “Freelance Writer” would be one entry on my resume but I’m not so sure.

Yep, definitely don’t make these each their own separate entries. You should have one job called Freelance Writer, and this all goes under that umbrella. Then, where you’d normally have bullet points describing your work and accomplishments at that job, include the details of who you’re writing for and what you’re doing for them.

{ 386 comments… read them below }

  1. nnn*

    For #2, can you use your clout as a manager to suggest expanding it to praising anyone?

    Or you could lead by example, take a bunch of paper turkeys, and use them to praise every single one of your reports. (I wonder if that sentence has ever been uttered before in human history?)

    1. Avasarala*

      I like this. At least you can ask your direct reports not to praise you, but to praise anyone else who’s helped them, and you can tell your boss you’ll be doing the same/praising your reports.

    2. Mel_05*

      This is a good idea. At my office we have “shout outs” and anyone can write them for anyone and we post them in a hallway.

    3. LGC*

      I like this idea and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      I’d actually do both! And I’d say that it’s not just management that deserves appreciation, so that’s why.

      (I can actually see why they’re focusing on managers – it can feel really thankless. But also, compulsory public praise is not the solution!)

      1. GooseTracks*

        But the managers presumably are receiving thanks in the form of higher status, higher pay, (potentially) additional perks. They shouldn’t be demanding praise from the employees they supervise! If they need thanks, they should go to their own managers.

        1. LGC*

          That’s my point!

          Like, yeah, they’re getting higher pay and status (hopefully), which makes it look worse. But also…sometimes people do forget to give thanks, and sometimes it can feel like your team takes you for granted. And I know this makes me sound needy, but what really makes my day is when one of my employees appreciates something I’ve done.

          But again, LW2’s company is handling this extremely poorly. I feel a bit like it’s like Alison’s least favorite holiday – the sentiment is nice but the execution is extremely problematic.

    4. Anonymous, colleagues who read here will recognize it*

      We have a kudos section on our agenda for weekly (urgh) staff meetings — agenda is available a week in advance for updating. It’s nice because folks can get a shout-out for the little things that make a difference week to week, but aren’t at the level of annual evaluations. The supervisors use it to recognize the whole staff for pitching in on X or Y, others will recognize individuals. So far it has not been clique-y.

      1. Uranus Wars*

        One of the best exercises I had once was being required to come to a meeting with one nice thing to say about everyone. We had build up a lot of blame game/tension for no real reason on our team. I thought the idea was laughable.

        It ended up having a great outcome. We were doing a good job, hitting our goals as a department and our boss was great. But somehow the team didn’t feel appreciated by one another and this was a good reset for that. It was 20 years ago and I still remember it.

    5. AnotherAlison*

      These types of initiatives must be implemented by people whose Love Language is words of affirmation.

      We’ve never had to make paper turkeys to praise our management, but we did do monthly department shout-outs for a while. Some departments had shout-outs on their SharePoint pages. I have seen this mostly flop here. Not sure why, but I think it’s hard to remember outside the moment when someone went above and beyond, and some people’s “above and beyond” is someone else’s “just my job”.

      Personally, it doesn’t mean much to me. I have a counterpart who makes a big effort to say nice things about people (because I think he struggles with saying nice things about people). I tend to think, well, that’s better than nothing, but what I’d really like is for you to not call my team from 8 pm-7 am, or throw us under the bus at other times.

      1. CrookedLily*

        We have a scrolling space on our SharePoint site where any employee can submit a note of thanks to any other employee. It gets used every day. Some departments even hold monthly prize drawings for their members who have received notes in that month.

    6. Cascadia*

      We do gratitude week at my school where they put out gratitude note cards (just slips of paper) and you can write thank yous to anyone in the school, student, faculty or staff. Then the student council (who organizes the event) redistributes them to everyone. It’s a nice touch to be able to say “thank you, i appreciate you” to my colleagues and to get a few kudos back. I love that it’s totally optional and open for everyone.

    7. GooseTracks*

      That’s a good idea. We had this type of holiday well-wishes thing at a previous job, but everyone received a card with a compliment or nice thought from everyone else in the office. Demanding that employees complete an art project with anonymous praise for managers is weird on multiple levels.

    8. Sivina*

      Personally, I’d be opposed to this for two reasons:

      (1) Often this ritual praise substitute for real effort and recognition. Now, if it’s a supplement to a real program showing gratitude or real bonuses, that’s another story.

      (2) I celebrate Thanksgiving begrudgingly. I’m not a big fan of the whitewashed version that makes everyone but the First Nations feel warm fuzzies. It’s always been fraught in my family. ¾ of the family is WASP Americana and ¼ is from various nations that were here prior to white Europeans “discovering” (eye roll) the land.

      For both reasons, if someone put a praise Turkey on my desk, I’d be very unhappy with it. Because of the first reason, I’d be unhappy with any praise that was performative rather than substantive. I’d be unhappy withy anything turkey/pilgrim/American schoolhouse version of Thanksgiving. Mind you, I keep my position on the holiday largely to myself as trying to get mainstream American culture to decolonize the holiday is futile.

      Praise and appreciation can be performative, but it should never be exclusively performative.

      If the company wants to show real appreciation, it should flow laterally or downward, never upward and should be rooted in some substantive show such as $$$, time off, promotion, flexibility, benefits, etc.

      Yes, people like praise. Praise when in the think of it or shortly thereafter can be a good way of showing that you say and acknowledge someone’s efforts. This type of praise seems hollow and manipulative. Akin to canned air.

      1. JessaB*

        Thank you, I was trying to figure out how to say that the praise thing is bad enough but tying it to a Whitewashed Thanksgiving Paper Turkey narrative is just…ewww.

        Not to mention Paper Turkeys read as Kindercare kind of activities, they read as something children over about ten years old shouldn’t be involved in, it feels infantalising to me. In fact a ten year old in the US is in fourth or fifth grade depending on their birth month, it’s even too young for them to be doing. It’s really a pre-school, kindergarten/care kind of thing.

        TL;dr – Thanksgiving memes, meh; turkey activities are for little kids.

        1. Sivina*

          As a general rule, if it was done in US school classes in the 1950s, one might want to step back and think about how that reads today.

          I also agree it’s juvenile and infantilizing. I hadn’t thought of that, but you are correct. It’s something for children.

      2. Ico*

        Discover doesn’t mean you have to be the first person to ever see or do a thing. If I discover the joys of macrame, I’m not implying that I’m the first person to think of it, just that it’s new to me.

        1. winter*

          I’m fairly sure the issue being taken here isn’t a grammatical “who was first” but the violent colonization and genocide of native americans. And then turn it into a happy family holiday.

    9. TootsNYC*

      I think as a manger who is receiving those turkeys, you have credibility to speak up.
      You could suggest that only managers do them, for their direct reports. THAT would be an appropriate thing.

      And if you can’t get them to change it, YOU can do Turkeys of Praise for the people who work under you.
      You could even encourage your team to do them for one another. I don’t know if you could have them draw names and do a single Secret Turkey of Praise–that could be a little fun, finding something good to say about the person whose name you drew. And it would ensure that everyone got one from a colleague.

      1. Sivina*

        The only way this works for me is if everyone’s name goes into a hat. They draw, then a real turkey is given as a gift.

        Also, I think having it apply to everyone on the spot would be problematic. There are jerks and abusers who have steady jobs. Wakeen might not have anything positive to say about Fergus, the racist/sexist/unpleasant team-member he tolerates.

        This also brings to mind that one from a few weeks ago where the woman was going to work with her husband’s affair partner. Can you imagine drawing that name?

    10. That Girl Wears A Lot Of Pink*

      That’s what my office did for boss’s day. We used scrapbook paper to write notes to people in the office whose leadership style (if they aren’t a manager!) we admire. No one was required to participate, and it was a nice way to acknowledge our colleagues.

      1. That Girl Wears A Lot Of Pink*

        Oh, and we definitely have coloring-book turkeys in our kitchen because there are quite a few people here who like to do a little coloring during down time, but those are totally separate activities :-)

        1. SomethingCleverHere*

          Sorry, but yuck. Paper turkeys are so babyish, please don’t make your reports do this. I’d wonder why my boss felt like it was ok to infantilize me like this.

          1. That Girl Wears A Lot Of Pink*

            No one is made to spend 5 minutes during their break coloring. Materials were provided because my colleagues requested them this month.

    11. OP2*

      Ah, I wish I could, we have a system set up for individual praise regularly and quarterly. But last year when I pushed back a little I was told that I just don’t have to participate if I don’t want. To be fair though, I’ve managed to curtail some way worse things so…small victories?

      (Although I do like your idea of writing one for everyone. It’d out me at work if anyone reads this but might be worth it.)

      1. Warm Weighty Wrists*

        You can absolutely write one for everyone! You could frame it as “this has made me think about how everyone contributes on this team, so I wrote each of you a note about what I appreciate,” so it doesn’t have to be directly against the turkeys as they are now. In my experience, people really treasure notes like that, particularly if they aren’t compulsory.

    12. CanuckCat*

      We do this at my office’s bi-monthly all staff meeting; at the end of the meeting one or two staff members get highlighted for something great/exceptional they did that month and I think it’s almost always managers and directors doing the nominating.

  2. WS*

    LW 3 In a small company or customer-facing department, it’s pretty common for only one (maybe two) people to be allowed off at once, though. I haven’t had any time off around Christmas for about 20 years, which is fine because it’s not a big deal to me, but *someone* has to work if your industry is busy at that time of year.

    We deal with it by asking who is needing time off around busy periods, and making sure to rotate the schedule so that it’s not the same person every year. Some people want Christmas, some people want a summer holiday, some people have big family things at other times of year. It can be worked out but first come first served always sucks.

    1. JKP*

      But even if you rotate evenly between 7 people, that means that each person can only spend Christmas with their families once every 7 years.

      Usually on a holiday, most businesses reduce coverage. Whereas normally they would only allow one person to take the day off, on a holiday they might only require 2 people of the 7 to cover the holiday and let the rest have the day off.

      1. WS*

        I work in an area that gets a lot of summer tourism (Australia, so Christmas=summer) and also work in healthcare, so unfortunately it really is necessary to have coverage at all times from early December to the end of January – all the people who are having time off in other industries come visit us! So yes, staff only get a full Christmas day off every 5-6 years, but for most of the years where they work you do actually have Christmas morning or Christmas afternoon off because of how the shifts work. (I work 9-6 but that’s unusual). Without knowing the nature of LW 3’s workplace, it’s hard to say whether this is necessary or just the bosses being inflexible.

        1. Avasarala*

          Also I think the key thing is that who gets lucky rotates. It’s not always Janice who plans her vacations a year in advance, or Carlos who has seniority, or Jamal who has young kids.

          If you look at the business needs and conclude yes, we do need this level of coverage, it’s only fair to work out some kind of system, like you can only request max 6 months in advance except in special circumstances, and have a rotation for days everyone wants off like holidays (and you can only get 1 holiday day like the 25th and you gotta work the 26th, not 1 person gets a week and everyone works every day).

          1. Drago Cucina*

            This is what we do. No requests more than 6 months in advance and major holidays rotate. If there’s availability two weeks beforehand I’ll take the requests from those who had the holiday off the previous years. I’ve only had one person who really doesn’t like it. We suggested a few options: 1. Seniority by position, 2. Seniority by time, 3. Lottery. She didn’t like those because she knows she will be guaranteed Christmas week off every 2-3 years under our current system.

            The only other problem group has been grandparents who don’t understand that their grandchildren are now adults with full time jobs. I had one call me to complain and threatened that her granddaughter would quit. The granddaughter was appalled at the intrusive behavior.

            1. Shad*

              It can happen across industries, too (though without the calling someone else’s boss component). My mom works in healthcare and her sister works in government, and my aunt just couldn’t understand one year why my mom had to work on Christmas and why that was totally reasonable.
              Of course mom is also a big believer in the season, not the day, and happily reschedules the Christmas celebration for any time within about a month, so she’s also volunteered to take the Christmas shift over someone with little kids now that all of our family are teens to adults. (Which absolutely shouldn’t be mandatory, but it’s a nice thing when it comes freely from the person covering).

              1. JessaB*

                We have the advantage of my Armenian Orthodox sister, so we Celebrate Eastern Date Christmas also anyway, and if I couldn’t get 25 December off when I was working, I sure as heck could get January. In fact since we mostly did January anyway I made it a deal with management, I don’t even *ask* for 25th Dec and they give me 6-7 January.

                1. whingedrinking*

                  I consider myself fortunate to be happily partnered with someone who has a Jewish family, while mine is Christian. It means we never have to worry about whose family gets us for Christmas, since my in-laws have us for Hanukkah.

            2. Milk of Amnesia*

              I work in healthcare. For next year we had to submit our vacation starting the day after labour day this year. You never know if the person has a partner or family members that have different vacation picking times. So to me it is not in reasonable to request time that far in advance. Otherwise there is a chance that in a 2 person working household there is a great chance that vacations will not line up. Or as in my situation this year, our early February vacation is booked and paid for, but now we just wait to deal with the blow back if my partner does not get his approved because he starts picking towards the end of January. Otherwise the first 3 months of the year would have international travel blocked off for us due to higher, unaffordable rates for picking 2 weeks before we want to travel.

            3. What's with Today, today?*

              Yes! I work on-air in media, and personalities work all weekday holidays except Christmas. Which means I work Thanksgiving. In fact, the station I work for covers a massive event our town does each year the night before Thanksgiving and it is an all-hands-on-deck affair. My MIL gets angry with my husband and I every year because she plans a family Thanksgiving trip (with no input from anyone else) and can’t understand why we can’t ever come. We’ve had the same conversation every year for 10 years and she still can’t understand why I can’t take off the week of Thanksgiving. She doesn’t take into account my families plans either but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

          2. Clisby*

            Yes, if it’s really impossible to have more than one person off, then nobody should get two consecutive days during the in-demand holiday period. You can have Christmas Eve, or Christmas, or the day after Christmas. You can have New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

            1. Just Elle*

              But that doesn’t really work for people who have to travel. I’d rather have 2 consecutive days off half as frequently, than 1 day off every year. Of course it would be nice if people split it as 23-24 or 25-26 instead of taking 24-25, but that can be tricky because it means flying on a holiday.

            2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Agree with others that would make holiday travel pretty much pointless.

              I vaguely remember an OldJob having a policy where out of the three people on rotation, one would get Christmas to be on call (meaning Christmas and the whole week around it), the other Thanksgiving, the third one New Year (iirc). No one would get to be on call for more than one of those holidays on the same year. No one would be stuck with the same holiday two years in a row. It seemed to work pretty well.

            3. G*

              I don’t really think this addresses the main issue. One day off is not enough time for travel, especially when flying over a major holiday. IMO we should all just be kind and thoughtful of one another. One co-worker lives right down the street from their family and would prefer to have the week off? Another co-worker would also like that week, and their only family lives across country? Priority should be the latter co-worker since it’s the *only* way they’d be with family on the holidays.

              I know this, sadly, isn’t how it usually goes. But it blows my mind that people are so cut throat about this kind of thing. My first two years in the workforce I voluntarily worked all major holidays (literally didn’t see my family for two years) because I thought it was a nice thing to do, and I was paying my dues + allowing my co-workers to spend more time with their kids despite being local. Stopped that pretty quickly when I realized I was the only one thinking of others.

              Luckily I got that employer to move away from FCFS (instead they moved to full cross training to avoid such limited coverage options) by explaining to the owner that they’d need to be more accommodating moving forward if they wanted to attract other employees with formal education. I was the first to be hired with a degree, and like the statistical major of graduates, did not settle down in the immediate vicinity of my home town. It was the first time they had to think about how attracting more graduates = contending with the fact that they are more likely to not be from the area / need to travel to see family. It really drove home how ‘townie’ filled that industry was!

        2. Quickbeam*

          I’m a nurse with a long distance trip to family. Hospitals run 24/7 and Christmas/Yule was a blacked out time for any vacation. You might get a single shift off but never any vacation time. I tried to negotiate for once every 10 years and was told no. The only way out of this was to have a baby and be on maternity leave. We had a suspiciously high rate of December births amongst the staff! I actually quit over this issue.

          1. boop the first*

            Having a baby is a hilariously EXTREME way to take one holiday off. You’d never have another day off for the next 20 years, but dammit, Gramma’s bringing her secret recipe stuffing this year!

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              While I suspect that it was more of a “we are trying for a baby anyway, might as well make it a December date”, I admit I just choked on my lunch from trying not to laugh at this!

        3. tink*

          My aunt worked in healthcare and I believe where she worked rotated holidays? So in a group of 6 or so, 2 got off Thanksgiving, 2 and Christmas, and 2 at New Year’s, then a similar rotation for Memorial Day/4th of July/Labor Day. That way everyone got some time “during the holidays” even if it wasn’t a specific holiday.

      2. Jen S. 2.0*

        Re reducing coverage / 2 of 7: many of those businesses — the well-run ones, at least — also a) often allow people to volunteer for coverage, so people who aren’t particular about that holiday or don’t celebrate it often volunteer, and b) provide perks for those who DO work the day, like time and a half pay, bonuses, food, comp time, floating holidays, etc. The 2 who work can sometimes end up with a pretty sweet deal.

        1. WS*

          Yes – I am very heat-sensitive and don’t want to go anywhere or do anything in summer (which includes Christmas here) except come to my air-conditioned workplace. In return for working the days that the summer-lovers want off, I get my pick of days in winter!

        2. Curly sue*

          Yes, this. My (Jewish) brother works for a department that requires coverage, and he happily takes the Christmas and Easter shifts in return for days at the High Holidays and Passover. Diversity of staff can be helpful in more ways than the obvious.

        3. Just Elle*

          Yes. We used to work 12 hour shifts (instead of 8) AND make double time Christmas week. It wasn’t worth it to people with young families, but me, a fresh college grad with loads of student debt, was positively gleeful at the cash I made that week.

          1. JessaB*

            Yep, I said it above, my sister is Armenian Orthodox, I don’t ask for 23-26 December in any combination and they give me 6-7 January instead. Works out great.

        4. Elemeno P.*

          Yes, this. When I was a ride operator, there were rarely issues with holiday coverage because they paid us double and fed us on the major holidays. I loved working Thanksgiving and Christmas. People with little kids rarely had trouble getting the day off.

        5. The Cosmic Avenger*

          When I was younger, childless, and doing shift work, I used to volunteer to work all the holidays I could — as an atheist, I didn’t have any holidays I considered mandatory, and we got double and a half (time and a half plus comp time) for holidays! I lived close enough to my family that I could see them any day I had off.

          1. Shocked Pikachu*

            My first job in the US was an international phone operator. I never got to sign up to work on holidays because it was triple pay and those shift were taken almost immediately after they were posted ( usually by folks working the night shift since new sign up sheets were usually printed and set out by night manager around midnight)

        6. G*

          Ugh. I’m all for option B… but please not just food. Food is a nice perk for a lunchtime meeting, not sacrificing your ability to spend holidays with family.

      3. Senor Montoya*

        Well, yeah, if your office needs that level of coverage at Christmas, then that’s one of the requirements of the job. I can think of plenty of workplaces that need heavy coverage at that time: retail and hospitals are the most obvious. I worked for a large contractor early in my career — we closed on Christmas day but otherwise were quite busy at that time of year because our clientele had vacation time and it was a good time for them to get work done at their house because they were *there*. (Southern California, the weather was almost always excellent at that time of year for our workers.) It slowed down considerably in January and February, so most of us took vacation then.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        The idea of reduced coverage for holidays is limited to certain 9-5 office jobs. Plenty of medical professionals, retail/food service/tourism workers, utility workers, shipping companies, and travel/transit organizations see some of their busiest days around the holidays. The holidays can also be quite busy for the accounting divisions of companies that close their annual books with the calendar year.

        1. Choux*

          People that work in fundraising are also very busy! December 31st is the biggest day in fundraising of the whole year.

      5. Artemesia*

        There are a lot of professions where time off at Christmas is always difficult; I have a niece who is a fairly junior ER doc. She won’t be doing Christmas anytime soon. So her parents arrange a family get together for her, her husband and their kids at another time.

    2. I Heart JavaScript*

      I was an Executive Assistant before my career change and it was like this for us — only a couple of people could take vacation at any one time since there needed to be year-round coverage (outside of the actual holiday). I also worked retail in and just after college, which is nuts during the holidays. As a result, I got used to taking time off at other times of year. Early November? Perfect pre-Thanksgiving visit. Mid-January? Perfect post-Christmas/New Year’s visit. It also had the added benefit of cheaper flights home.

      I’m lucky that my parents and extended family were happy to celebrate away from the actual holiday. My dad worked in movie theaters after college (then as an attorney later) and they were used to having to work during the holidays. By the time I was old enough to be working and living on my own, it didn’t even phase them.

      My husband’s family, though, can never understand why we don’t spend every single holiday with them. They live on the opposite coast, we don’t even visit my much-closer family for most (if any) holidays, and they’re huge pains in the ass, but they expect us to schlep all that way, no matter how expensive, what our work situations are, or without a care for my family’s plans. They’ve never worked jobs where coverage matters, so they don’t understand (or pretend they don’t understand) that you can’t make it to every family event from 3000 miles away.

      So, my advice is to see if your family can be flexible on timing. You’ll save money in the long run (travel will be cheaper), you can usually go for longer (you won’t be trying to split coverage with other people), and it’ll be more relaxed (minimal performative holiday activities). Not every family will understand, but it’s worth a try.

      1. Quill*

        Yikes. When I was a kid, pretty much all the extended family was in the midwest, so the maximum travel time to any of them was about six hours… we could hit up dad’s side of the family for thanksgiving and make it to mom’s side by the time the pie came around. (Traditionally that side did thanksgiving as actual dinner, not 2 pm dinner, so they’d just started thinking about dessert by the time we got there.)

        Now that my parents are in mountain time, my brother, currently in california, and I are trying desperately to figure out how to get there for the same window over Christmas break.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          That’s frankly a terrible time for travel (air or road). It’s busy, it’s expensive, and the weather is unpredictable and often bad = you will spend way too much time stuck in traffic or stuck in an airport, waiting waiting waaaaaaaaaaaaiting. See if you can get the folks to agree to spring break…

          Many years ago, after it took us literally a day (24 hours) of often iffy travel to get back home from a midwestern visit with our at the time very young child, we declared that we would not be traveling over the winter holidays, except for the most exceptional reason (= wedding or funeral or parent on deathbed, literally that is the ONLY time we broke our rule). If people wanted to see us in November or December, we were delighted to host them. We would visit any time from March through October.

          1. Working with professionals*

            Our family also ended up making this rule when my brother and his husband got snowed in at the airport – for the second year in a row- and ended up paying thousands more for a non-vacation. So now we invite everyone for “Christmas in July” and get together when everyone has good weather to travel. It is also cheaper like Senor Montoya states. It has worked for several years for us.

          2. Quill*

            Problem is working it around my brother’s school schedule and my current status as a contract worker… at least I’ll get actual days off at christmas!

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Having to provide coverage definitely sucks for the workers, but there are ways to make the system fair and transparent.

      From what the OP says it sounds like they can function with two employees off, but the boss only approves one ‘in case someone is sick’, which seems a bit timid. After all, they’d have to figure out how to manage if two people called in sick. So my proposal would be

      – allow two people to be off on the big days. The risk of having someone call in sick is offset by general employee happiness.
      – poll people at the beginning of the year about what holidays they prefer off. Be sure to give the option to ask for other dates, as not everyone celebrates Christmas.
      – assign the dates so that each person can have at least one of Thanksgiving/New Year’s/Christmas off (assuming this is in the US).
      – if someone doesn’t get the holiday they want, they get top priority the next year.
      – new employees are low priority the first year, but on the same footing after that.

      That won’t help the OP’s scheduling requirements, but I don’t think they can have a system that ensures coverage, distributes the holidays fairly, but doesn’t involve scheduling well in advance. With the system above, the OP would at least get some holiday time off, which may or may not work with the rest of the family (as opposed to not getting time off at all).

      1. Avasarala*

        I like that. Also hiring a diverse workforce means you might get some employees that don’t celebrate some holidays and won’t mind working them, in exchange for days off elsewhere that your other employees don’t care about.

      2. LW3*

        I would say it’s less my boss being timid and more my team can handle 2 people being out, but it means certain daily tasks won’t happen and it adds a lot of stress to the rest of the team. At three would would actually potentially have people staying late and many more things would have to be left undone that day. I don’t actually mind this part of the policy, in makes sense for what our responsibilities are, but wanted to include for context.

        1. doreen*

          I have a similar situation – we have a rule that only 20% of a unit can be on leave at a time. I mostly follow that rule in that I will only approve 20% to be on vacation for a given week, but I will go over that for individual days. Because having three of five people out for a single day is to handle than having 2 on vacation for the week.

        2. A Simple Narwhal*

          Would it be ok to leave things undone on/around Christmas? Without knowing your role I don’t know if that would mean not as many TPS reports get done that day or if it means people literally might die, but if it’s a non-business/life critical role, not getting as much/everything done on a day most businesses close to allow more than one person time off at a time seems like an acceptable option.

          It might take some managing of the expectations of others (“we won’t be at full capacity on the holidays, please don’t expect anything other than maintenance tasks to be done on Christmas due to a reduce staff count”, “any requests due around Christmas must be submitted by 12/12”, etc) but it seems like a good trade off. And while maybe people won’t be super pumped about restrictive output around the holidays, they usually understand/get used to the fact that you are humans with holiday plans.

          Again, maybe none of this is possible, but it seems nuts to me that an organization that cannot function with 2 people out doesn’t have a back up option or call in people.

        3. Just Elle*

          One thing my old company did was change coverage to 12 hour shifts on the holidays (and pay double time for all 12 hours). I know it sounds even worse to work a long shift, but really it worked out better. More people got to take time off, and the people who stayed got a pretty sweet cash incentive. Plus we ran our 12-hour shifts 11-11, so people got either the morning or the evening with their family.

        4. blackcat*

          I’d push hard for paying double for those days. People will be less resentful about being really busy if they’re making a lot more money.

        5. boop the first*

          That really sucks that leaving things temporarily undone is such a no-go that everyone has to stress over it. Alternatively, you can choose not to stress over it and let the owner stress.

          Depending on the industry of course and assuming it’s not a socially essential service, the owner gets to choose when their business hours are. If they want to be “open” for capitalist reasons, then things-left-temporarily-undone is a consequence for making life less flexible for everyone else who doesn’t get to see any of this presumably incredible holiday time profits.

          I used to have a boss that would send us a letter after the holidays that read “Congratulations! This week we made an extra $15, 973 in profit!” Which is tone deaf as hell since everyone worked thrice as hard for the privilege of earning minimum wage.

          I think if a company is going to be hard about avoiding (again, TEMPORARY) low production, you should be getting something in exchange for that.

        6. Blunt Bunny*

          One thing that my work used to allow was swaps. So even if your holiday entitlement was used up you could have a coworker work your shift and you would work one for them. This works very well for last minute things or for days that are important for you but no one else at work like family birthday, anniversaries etc.
          Also I’m not sure how long your coworker has booked off when you say off for Xmas. That to me would mean usually the days in between xmas and new year if you don’t work weekends that is only 4 days off.

      3. Minocho*

        I worked a place that had a brutal on call schedule – you’d be on call for a full week, 24/7, and be expected to work full time too, once every six weeks or so.

        I got Christmas week my first year. I figured that I was low man on the totem pole, and I expected it.

        Second year, my boss was normally scheduled for Christmas week. I figured he’d refuse it and force one of us to do it. I was forced to take Christmas week my second year.

        My third year, a senior employee set up the schedule, and put me on Christmas week for third year in a row. I pushed back on that HARDCORE. I am NOT on call for third Christmas in a row!!! “But, I scheduled myself to be on call both Memorial Day and Labor Day! Someone has to take Christmas!” “I don’t care who takes Christmas, but you’re not giving it to me for third year. Find someone else.”

    4. Amethystmoon*

      I have a similar issue where my parents live out of town and it’s a half-day drive, so I generally would stay overnight to visit. I do work for a bigger company and our rule is that at least one person on the team must be present at all times, so usually people take turns at scheduling time off. I also have a must-do report on Fridays (so important that a previous person was fired for in part, not being able to be there to do it), so I rarely take any part of a Friday off. This leads to, for example, having to take Tuesday-Wednesday for Thanksgiving week, which is fine. Most of my coworkers want that Friday off anyway. But then what happens if you’re the one person working on a major holiday week, is there isn’t much work to be done anyway because everyone else has that day off.

      To me, it would be more fair to say there has to be some coverage, but not that only one person can take off. How many of you are there on the team? Maybe they can revise the rule so that a couple of people have to be there, but not everybody.

    5. mcr-red*

      Yeah we are a 24-7 business, and someone HAS to be here, though we do operate on an even smaller staff on weekends and the holiday day. Which is one reason I always roll my eyes at the memes that go around about how people aren’t going to shop on Thanksgiving so the mean old corporations should let the workers be home with their families (Retail workers: My daughter works retail. I do get it, believe me. But you are also far from the only people working on Thanksgiving).

      Our office works on volunteer basis for holidays, and usually someone will volunteer. For the longest time, I worked all holidays but Christmas so I could be sure to get Christmas off. And that’s ONE day. We are expected to be there Christmas eve, New year’s eve, the day after, etc. No vacations allowed near the holidays. I have negotiated to work a few half-days around the holiday because the workload is dead.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        I totally agree about the “not shopping on Thanksgiving” people. First of all, I work on the corporate side of retail now but was in the stores for years. When I was an hourly employee I always jumped at the chance to get holiday pay! And are those same people avoiding travel on holidays? Or not watching the news? Oh, they’re shopping online? Guess what, people still have to work to support the e-commerce sites.

        In some industries, working on/around the holidays is just part of the business and you know that going into it.

        1. Autumnheart*

          My people! I work in corporate retail too, in e-commerce. We’ve got full 24/7 coverage starting the week of Thanksgiving/Black Friday, with on-site coverage and WFH on-call coverage. It’s not terribly burdensome, but you basically need a damn good reason, and director approval, if you want to take vacation that week. Christmas, ironically, is much less busy because by then the site content is all built, and just has to be launched and babysat for inventory. There’s more flexibility for taking time off around Christmas and New Year’s. Still, though, there’s a cap on how many people in a given role can be out.

          I’m single without kids, and my family is local, so I typically let all my parent colleagues duke it out over who gets the “family” holidays, and I take my PTO at off-peak times. It works out.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Unless it’s a small manufacturing company. We’ve got problems but holidays are never one! I haven’t worked Christmas in 17 years.

      Just saying if anyone is interested in an industry that is holiday friendly outside of government/banking, they exist.

      1. ThatGirl*

        A lot of CPG and B2B/wholesale companies slow down around the holidays, with the possible exception of consumer-facing customer service. I worked at a wholesale workplace supply company for 9 years and it was almost always dead around Christmas; at my current company the customer service team is swamped right now but it’s pretty quiet for most other departments.

      2. Veronica*

        IME most office jobs have the major holidays off. I’ve worked in data and finance support since the 90’s and always closed on holidays. Not as many as banks though.
        Now I work in hospital administration and we’re required to take the 5 major holidays off. The people who work with patients don’t, of course, the hospital is still open.
        Thanksgiving Friday and Christmas week are dead in my office – there might be one or two people around, a doctor doing some paperwork and a staff person who ran out of PTO.

      3. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        We typically have a vacation freeze between Thanksgiving and New Year, but I haven’t ever worked on any of the holidays themselves. (crossing fingers that the trend continues). At an OldJob, people used to take the whole two weeks around Christmas and New Year off, as well as the entire Thanksgiving week – we cannot do it where I work now, but the holidays themselves are time off.

      4. MissBookworm*

        I work in the insurance industry (but not for a carrier). My department has 2 people right now who can do my job—me and my manager (we’re training a third, but he won’t be fully up to speed in time to cover everything). My manager and I are both scheduled to be off during the entire Christmas week. Our boss didn’t even blink. My work is important with numerous deadlines and other sensitive tasks, but not so important that it can’t wait until the 30th.

        She and I frequently take the same time off—usually just a day or half day, but the department (and the company) has survived without us. I understand that not every company can do the same.

    7. Mama Bear*

      If she’s already taking time off for next year, then I would bring it up to the manager. Your team has time to figure out how to handle it between now and then in a way that is fair and equitable. Most people want time off around the holidays and this current system leaves everyone else out in the cold in perpetuity if they are more reasonable about the timeframe of their requests. What we used to do was have everyone put in their preferences in November for holidays through Jan. Then the managers sorted out any issues, like half the staff wanting Dec. 23 when the client office was not closed. It also helped management schedule big meetings on days where most folks would be in the office.

      We do things like “Bear Christmas” which is anytime between Dec. 23 and NYD, but sometimes it is nice to get the family together ON the holiday.

    8. Adlib*

      Yeah, my dad always had to choose between working Thanksgiving or Christmas, and he always chose Thanksgiving to get Christmas off. We dealt with that by having family Thanksgiving on another weekend. It worked out really well for us as we could go visit other parts of the family the day of. I’m sure if it was the reverse, we would have done the same. I know it’s not fun for the employee, but the rest of our family didn’t mind working around it as long as we got to see him and spend that time. (He’s retired now.)

    9. Choux*

      Yep, my office also only allows one person on a team to be out at any given time (there are exceptions, of course, but you’re expected to check the calendar to see who’s already requested time off before you request your own to make sure there are no conflicts). We also have a blackout on vacations between November 15 and January 1. Some of the higher-up staff folks can work from home, but we’re all pretty much expected to be in the office all the time, and if someone does have some extenuating circumstance for taking time off, for sure no one else could. Basically if you want to travel any appreciable distance for Christmas, you would have to leave around 3 p.m. when the office closed on Christmas Eve and be back by 9 a.m. the day after Christmas. Or wait for those Christmases that fall on a Friday or Saturday.

  3. MK*

    OP1, the time to concern yourself with this guy was when he was your report. I find it mindboggling that you apparently didn’t document his behaviour and left your replacement at your former employer’s unaware that he was inheriting a problem employee, but now you seem willing to contact a company you never worked for to inform them of his deceit.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Whoa, that’s unfair. There’s nothing in the letter that indicates that. She says his behavior went off the rails after she left, and there’s nothing to indicate she didn’t fill in her replacement about anything she should have passed along.

      1. JR*

        I think MK might be reacting to the LW saying that she “kept a lid” on her report’s behavior. I initially thought she meant that she kept his behavior quiet, then realized she probably meant she kept him in check, so he wasn’t really a problem until she left. I wonder if MK thought she meant the former?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ah! I’m sure the OP means “keeping it controlled” from the context so I’m going to edit that piece of the letter so it doesn’t cause confusion/derailment.

      2. Tooona*

        OP1 here, I did document his behavior. He’d received a formal warning from me about his antics. When I departed he was already on his way to a PIP, and HR was fully aware. I did my due diligence. This was a new employer, who apparently did a pretty crappy reference check on their end.

        1. I Heart JavaScript*

          I think it was just a mis-read of how you worded it! “Kept a lid on his behavior” can mean “kept it from getting out of control by documenting, warning, coaching, etc.” or it can mean “hid it from others”. I understood what you meant (kept it from getting out of control), but the other meaning makes for a much different reading of the letter.

          As for advice: bad behavior/employees will out. Whether his former coworkers out him or his own behavior does, at some point his current employer will cut ties. You might get a phone call asking you about him once they catch on, you might not. But if he’s as big of a problem as your letter indicates, he’ll eventually land himself in hot water without any help from you. It’s not worth the possible reputation hit for you to go looking to jam him up, even if he deserves it.

        2. Engineer Girl*

          You did everything right it seems. The only thing left is to pop some popcorn.
          If he lied as badly as you indicate he’s going to implode spectacularly. If he doesn’t implode then he’s working for a toxic place that likes that sort of thing. In that case, the entire company will implode spectacularly.
          Stay out of if, keep your hands and reputation clean. If you touch it you’ll get dirty too.

        3. Avasarala*

          If you run into the contacts you have at that new company, and happen to mention “Hey, how’s Fergus doing these days? He really struggled as a Junior Llama Groomer, but somehow he snagged a Senior Llama Manager position at your company, right?”

          Otherwise don’t borrow trouble. Write speculative fanfic in your head/at happy hour with your teammates about how dramatically it’s going to blow up.

          1. EPLawyer*

            I wouldn’t even do that. Not my circus, not my monkeys. We got enough going on in our own lives without poking our noses into other company’s business. If they didn’t do their due diligence, that’s on them. Maybe next time they will.

            1. ChimericalOne*

              I’m not worried about the company, myself, but I hate the thought that this guy is going to have so many people *under* him, whose lives he’ll have so much power over. I’m honestly pretty surprised that people (incl. Alison) are framing this as, “The company failed to check, so the company will have to suffer for it.” I see it as, “The company failed to check, and now who knows how many people will suffer under an awful boss for who knows how long before he gets fired.” Alison says she’d answer differently if he was in a position to be dangerous, but IMO, he is: he’ll be dangerous to the workers under him, who he can now freely harass, demand unreasonable or unethical things of, and mismanage up until the point where one of them has the courage to report him (and possibly longer, if they’re not immediately believed).

              1. Iris Eyes*

                That’s an interesting point. I think the OP might consider if there is a risk of personal harm and what kind. If he was fired for say sexual or other harassment that might indeed be worth a conversation.

              2. Nita*

                This is where I land, too. This guy is going to impact a lot of people’s lives negatively. In OP’s shoes, I’d say something – not for the sake of revenge, but for the sake of saving this guy’s new coworkers a lot of aggravation.

          2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

            I agree with EPLawyer – no reason to stir the pot. Now if someone asked OP for her opinion on Fergus, then I would say be honest. But I wouldn’t start the conversation.

          3. Iris Eyes*

            He’s apparently trying to live by: “He who can achieve great things is not necessarily capable of small.” (Marcel Proust)

            He keeps failing at lower levels so that must mean he is destined for higher levels and greater things.

          4. Observer*

            Agree with the others. I wouldn’t do even that much.

            I get the temptation, but it’s really not a good look.

        4. MK*

          I did read the “kept a lid” comment to mean that you kept him contained but didn’t document his behavior and I also misread this

          “His new boss was formerly an executive at the same company where we worked together, but he wouldn’t have been aware of this guy’s antics.”

          I realise that by “new employer” you meant his current employer, who hired him after he got fired; somehow I read it as your replacement in the company you worked together.

          I apologize.

        5. Snow globe*

          Sounds like this willing be a good learning experience for the new company on why good reference checks are important.

          1. Lance*

            No kidding. It sounds like they didn’t do any real due diligence (he got fired to the point of being escorted out of one job, and now he’s being hired several levels above where he was at? did they even do reference checks at all), and both parties will reap what they sow: the company for lack of due diligence, and the former employee for quite certainly being in way out of his league.

            1. boop the first*

              Yeah, on one hand I’m thinking: where are these companies? I was literally begged to stay at my last job and now I can’t even get an interview for retail jobs and it’s been four months of silence.

              On the other hand, would I really want to work there?? hmmmmm

        6. Irinam*

          Frozen 2, watch it. I was understanding until this comment. I don’t understand the thoughts and not trying to be rude.

        7. DoGoodOrGetOutOfTheWay*

          OP1 – There are two kinds of evil in the world.

          One of them is seeing evil stuff being done, and taking bad advice to say nothing about it, because doing so will cost you less.

          “I’d give a different answer if you’d said he was in a position to do real harm,” AAM writes.

          Alison, you don’t call “real harm” the kinds of things this employee is overwhelmingly likely to do, now that his fraud has been bought, he has access to a much higher salary, his ego has been bolstered by his new web of lies? Do you really believe in your heart that this employee will do *anything* but harm?

          Not to mention how this person has leapfrogged over other actually-qualified applicants, busting their rears just to have him out-fraud them. In all the letters you’ve gotten, do you *really* think just looking the other way is a strategy works to make any workplace better?

          OP – I don’t claim to know the best course, but *please* do something. Do not let this go. Get this bad person the stain of suspicion he deserves. Someone who works hard deserves that job, not him.

  4. Vanilla Nice*

    LW #3, I can’t imagine how any employer with that PTO system that stupid thinks they’re going to maintain positive long-term morale. Unless you’re in a critical time-sensitive job (like an ER doctor or person who carries the nuclear weapons codes for the Federal government), that kind of rigidity seems totally unnecessary.

    I actually left a job earlier this year largely because of scheduling. It had less to do with PTO and more to do with how shifts were set, but it was a real morale killer there. I’m at an organization that’s much better at being humane about scheduling now.

    1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      A lot of small businesses operate this way. It’s why a lot of people hate small businesses.

      1. Quill*

        I once had a boss (small business, plenty of other warning signs) who would make us take our PTO days for either christmas eve or boxing day if that fell on a work day, even if he shut the business down those days. Only reason he didn’t make us take the day for black friday was because he was a big fan of buying things.

        1. Artemesia*

          I have experience with several small business each of which shut down between Christmas and New Years and gave employees a vacation for that time — paid. It didn’t count against their modest PTO bank. This is a great way to build morale — if you have to shut down at that time — give that time to employees.

      2. doreen*

        I can totally see why this would make people hate the idea of working for a small business- but I can’t see a way for small businesses to make everyone happy. Either a limited number of people ( which may be one or two for the whole business or one or two per department ) can have time off scheduled at any given time or the business can totally shut down for one or two popular vacation weeks ( which in one way or another is going to limit how much vacation time people have outside of those weeks).

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Only if it’s a service that’s critical… with 24hr coverage kind of thing.

        I’m getting whiplash from the idea small businesses are being thrown around here right now. Our industry frequently shuts down for a week or two for the December holidays.

        1. Leslie Knope*

          I’m with you on that one. I work for a teeny tiny business in construction – 3 people, including the owner. We don’t take “bank holidays” throughout the year. A lot of friends were surprised I had to work on Veteran’s Day, but our subcontractors want to work so we work. However, we get very generous time off around major holidays (4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas). If the office is closed around that time then we don’t have to take a vacation day. I’d much rather have that set up than worry about whether I get to take off on President’s Day.

        2. WellRed*

          Right? I”m taking a week off at Christmas. I am not the only one. We are 10 people. We have priorities and work life balance is one of them.

      4. boop the first*

        Indeed, working a skeleton crew is difficult so I’m wary. On the other hand, small businesses are more likely to be closed for weekends and/or holidays anyway so it’s a wash.

    2. chickaletta*

      Well, any department with end-of-month targets, and end-of-year targets, is probably going to put a kibosh on loads of people taking time off around the holidays. My former department had month-end targets to meet and if too many people took off during the holidays it meant that it was impossible to meet those targets – which get reported up the company ladder. So my manager, whose job it was to make sure her team meet those targets, had to manage holiday PTO tightly. It’s how it is. Christmas of course always falls at the end of the month and the end of the calendar year which has always created a conflict between work and time off for many people.

    3. Cascadia*

      Even so, hospitals and other organizations that need coverage have systems for fairly distributing time off that is not first-come, first-serve. You can have a lottery system, you can rotate holidays, you can do it by seniority, there’s many systems in place. Especially because there doesn’t seem to be a time cap on the requests that the coworker is doing, what’s to stop her from requesting all the Christmas days off for the next 5 years? This company needs to be a system in place. A job I worked at in college required coverage (working the front desk of the dorms). We divided up all of the school breaks and then everyone drew a number out of a hat. We all had to work one of the breaks, and number 1 got to pick which break they worked first, and then on down the line. It worked really well, and people who wanted to work winter break communicated that ahead of time. There are many many options out there.

  5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    OP1, I would just stay completely out of your former employee’s new job. It sounds like he had lots of issues that you did your best to manage (and seemingly successfully with regards to those antics impacts on others). Former employee may go out in a blaze again or they may have learned their lesson and shaped up. But I think you’ll probably just seem petty if you attempt to interfere at this point.

    On a side note, have to say I am underwhelmed by the reference checking and due diligence that the new employer did (unless the joint former supervisor turned new supervisor said I know former employee and we don’t need to do that step). This could really haunt them if there’s another crash and burn on the way, because you’d have to think the HR at the old job would have said at the least that former employee was fired for cause.

    1. Tooona*

      OP1 here – The reference check thing is what baffles me. If my report didn’t want to list anyone from our former employer, it’s a little suspicious, but not necessarily a deal-breaker. But not even an informal inquiry by the new boss? That’s just shoddy – and the new employer is one of the largest corporations in the world!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I can think of three ways he could have gotten around it.

        – He listed your former employer as his current employer (ie, lying about still working there), so the new job wouldn’t contact them under the general agreement that you don’t contact someone’s current employer.

        – He really, really lied, and generated fake reference contacts to divert the new job away from real references.

        – The new job didn’t bother checking references.

        I agree with others that you should make popcorn and stay out of it, unless your relationship with the current boss is close enough that they’d reasonably expect you to let them know.

        1. annony*

          Yep. If someone approaches you, feel free to be honest but it doesn’t really seem worth it to proactively search them out to inform them.

      2. Mel_05*

        It’s really surprising how seldom references are checked. I don’t think anyone has ever contacted mine. I just either get the job or I don’t.

        In my line of work there is more of an emphasis on the portfolio, but it still seems like they’d have questions for my references!

        1. Filosofickle*

          I just provided a reference for someone (also for a portfolio-based job). The reference check was basically a formality because they had already decided to hire the candidate, and I was the only reference they talked to. Okey dokey then. It surprising, and I think it reflects how much faith people put in their instincts.

          Those who are good at interviewing have a big advantage in this world! Sadly, I was never one of them. I’m a much better employee than interviewee.

      3. Antilles*

        I think you’re overestimating how much “reference checking” actually goes on. Based on my experiences and the comments I’ve seen at this site and others over the years, most companies seem to fall into one of these categories:
        (1) Literally never check references ever. Oh sure, it’s probably listed on the application form, but they don’t ever call anyone; might as well just be a blank page.
        (2) Only check references if you’re really in doubt about a candidate but still want to move forward anyways.
        (3) Decide whether or not to do a reference check on a case by case basis from gut feelings. So if a candidate does well in the interview, it just gets waved off.
        It certainly IS a shoddy practice and often not a great idea…but as far as I can tell, “no reference check whatsoever” is far more the norm than the exception.

        1. Kiwiii*

          I wonder if it varies in industries or regions maybe. My last few employers definitely contacted the references I provided, though I don’t know if they fished around and were thorough about contacting anyone else about their experience working with me.

      4. Mockingjay*

        Reference Check policy for a lot of companies these days is to only confirm dates of employment. Even if that wasn’t the case when OP1 worked there, it might be the policy in place now.

    2. HM MM*

      References are so subjective though. My last boss put me on a PIP for incompetence and being unprofessional. They said I lacked the critical thinking skills to do the job. I could see the writing on the wall and I made a lateral move to the exact same type of role, doing the exact same responsibilities in a company very similar to my old company (different culture, but same focus/industry). My first performance review here – I received the highest marks possible and was promoted (to a level above my previous manager) within a year.

      Last boss would give me a horrible reference. Current boss would give me a terrific reference. Who should my next boss believe?

      I’m not saying references shouldn’t be checked, but they shouldn’t be taken as gospel. Also maybe this guy’s company did check references from jobs prior to the one with the LW. The LWs company hired him, after all…

      1. knead me seymour*

        Presumably a thorough reference checker would both try to speak to a few references to tease out a pattern and dig into your previous boss’s complaints to see if they had any substance to them (and if they were consistent with what other references were saying). It sounds like your old boss was just petty, but it is possible that a reference checker could conclude that you struggled in that job, but your new job is more in line with the kind of work they want you to do, so that doesn’t bother them.

        This kind of nuanced approach takes more time, but in the long run it could save them from dealing with people like the employee in the letter.

        1. RC Rascal*

          Reference checker could just as easily hear about the PIP and strike the candidate. My hunch is that is the most likely outcome.

          1. HM MM*

            My hunch as well. I can’t imagine any hiring manager taking a risk on me (if she said anything remotely similar to what she put in my PIP) if they had any other decent candidates.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Oh I agree completely. My current boss checked all my references (I know because they told me they were contacted), and she said what she was looking for were patterns or trends. Overall what were they saying about me and my work ethic, my willingness to try things, to take feedback. I think with many fields this is the best way to go about reference checks – look for a big picture, and if you have one outlier how does everything else you collected about that candidate compare?

  6. AnneMoliva ColeMuff*

    I have a friend whose workplace leaves rostering to the frontline staff – they’re given an outline of how many people are required at any given time, and essentially told to sort if out amongst themselves.
    She will sometimes vent about one person trying to take advantage while putting someone else out. I’ll listen and sympathise, but every time I get SO angry at their management. What a very excellent way to ensure that no one gets a fair shake.

      1. SarahTheEntwife*

        It can work well in a small team where everyone gets along (that’s how we did it in my old department and we were almost always great about going “well, I took a lot of time off at Thanksgiving so I’ll give other people a first shot at the December dates” or whatever, and luckily we had a nice mix of holidays observed and people who wanted holiday pay more than time off or vice versa), but the minute it’s not working the manager needs to set up something more structured.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Yeah it works fine for my little team of 2. At least one of us needs to be here when the company is open, and when I’m out she has to cover my time sensitive reports, so we just run vacation days by each other before scheduling. This year I’ve got the whole week of Christmas off except for that Friday because she asked for a long weekend for New Years. It’ll feel weird to come in for one random work day but oh well.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        It’s the opposite of management! It’s abdication! [shakes fist at lazy managers] Even if there are situations where the employees work it out fairly and equitably, that’s despite, not because of, the manager(s).

      3. tink*

        “Figure it out yourselves and then update me” is only useful when people need to swap days/shifts imo. (That’s how my manager handles more last minute requests that aren’t emergencies, like someone winning tickets to a show or having loved ones drop into town unexpectedly.)

    1. MicrobioChic*

      My last job did that. Especially when they were trying to cut labor costs. They’d put a sign up on the door saying
      Monday: 2 people needed
      Tuesday: 3 people needed

      Etc. Third shift was a team of four, and we got very little paid time off so it was….. fun trying to work that out.

      Around 6 months after they started that bs they started getting really high turnover and now they can’t keep enough people to get the work done.

      Gee I wonder why.

      1. boop the first*

        This might be nice if it worked in the opposite direction: sign up sheet asking for which days OFF you’d prefer each week (in rank). I’m the kind of person who never asks for days off because of anxiety, and so I’ll never book any events for my side business which is why I haven’t gotten anywhere in the last decade.

    2. Half-Caf Latte*

      Self-Scheduling is pretty common in nursing.

      When done well:
      -There’s still oversight from leadership.
      -There are clear guidelines (ideally staff generated) around how the less desirable shifts are allocated, and who is moved to cover.
      -There’s a system to ensure everyone gets a turn to get their requests.
      -Holiday coverage is often spelled out years in advance, and black-out dates are posted.

  7. Dan*


    AAM, I’m going to push back on this statement pretty hard: “it’s pretty crappy of your coworker to reserve block off all of Christmas time 13 months in advance, when no one else is likely thinking about it yet.”

    You walk it back a bit in the next sentence, but no, this isn’t on the coworker, not even in the slightest. This is on management and their policies, full stop. Some people have the luxury of planning time off way in advance for whatever reason (and perhaps even a need for certain high demand activities, such as a holiday cruise), and some don’t. If coworker knows that far in advance he wants Xmas off, when should he put in his request? “Just” a year out? 9 months? 6 months?

    You acknowledge that coworker is just working within the system… he’s not an ass for doing so. Blame goes to the management for not having better policies.

    1. Avasarala*

      It’s also pretty tone-deaf to be on a team and play the system in a way that screws over your team, then shrug and say “well I got mine.” This is requesting off a popular holiday that everyone wants, not Game of Thrones.

      1. 'Tis Me*

        I dunno. If it’s a case of “my only child lives on the other side of the world, is currently expecting my first grandchild, and will be bringing the baby over then for the holiday! I’m happy to work all the other biggies but I don’t know when I’ll see them in person again, and not getting to spend a block of time with them. Their partner’s family lives a domestic flight away and they specifically want to see them the adjacent week of their visit, so it *has* to be that specific block…” I could see them both booking it off 13 months in advance and being slightly tone-deaf in gushing to their coworkers about how much they’re looking forward to it for that 13 months.

        But I’d also expect that coworker to generally not be too fussed about booking off a block around holidays, and for long-term colleagues to know that.

        1. Helena*

          Yep – somebody has to be off at Christmas, why shouldn’t it be Coworker A this year, who presumably has plans? As long as it rotates, I don’t see the issue with booking in advance if they need a block of time off for something specific.

          Of course LW would also be totally within their rights to book Christmas 2021 off now as well…

      2. Civilian Linetti*

        That’s not fair either.

        Its like everybody sitting back and saying they don’t want the last doughnut out of ‘politeness’ and are resentful of the person who comes along and eats it thinking that if somebody else wanted it they’d have eaten it already.

        I’ve had co-workers book Christmas off in extreme advance and nobody has been resentful because they had good reasons to do so – one was travelling to Australia (from the UK) for their first family Christmas since they emigrated, and the other was hosting relatives from the US and wanted to be off work to spend time with them. Just because LW3 knows this co-worker doesn’t travel for Christmas it doesn’t mean the co-worker doesn’t have people travelling to stay with him/her and they want to be around to see their guests.

        Because Christmas is a holiday everyone wants and you know that your workplace only allows one person off at a time it does mean that someone is going to get in quickly and book it off. It’s not a slight to the others and it’s not ‘I’m alright Jack’, if you hang back out of politeness and someone else gets what you wanted you can’t really complain. They’re not rude just because they got what you wanted, you should have spoken up.

            1. Fikly*

              If more than one person wants it, then it is and issue. There is a middle ground between everyone and one person. You’re purposely misinterpreting my comment.

              My point is, don’t assume everyone, regardless of religion, wants a given holiday off.

              1. ChimericalOne*

                I’m guessing Civilian Linetti interpreted your comment that way because they felt that you were purposefully misinterpreting theirs. They know quite well that not literally “everyone” wants Christmas off — it’s shorthand for “90%+ of people in the U.S. are going to want to not work on one of the biggest religious & secular holidays of the year.” If you’re going to nitpick, people are going to nitpick you back.

              2. Mockingjay*

                It’s a holiday everyone wants in the sense of common time off, because most companies offer Christmas as a paid holiday. It’s a lot easier to plan a family/friends gathering around Christmas, than say Veteran’s Day. (For example, my husband and I get V-day off; our children don’t.)

          1. Helena*

            Plenty of people don’t celebrate the Christian festival of Christmas, but it’s a big enough secular holiday that most people do still want time off then.

            I work with a lot of colleagues from India and Bangladesh, and most of them still want time off. Children are off school, sales are on in the shops, there are lots of reasons to take time off that aren’t celebrating the birth of baby Jesus. (They can also take leave for Eid, Diwali etc – I work in the UK health service where 6 weeks paid leave is the norm).

            1. Musereader*

              I had a Muslim co-worker who took all the days off over Christmas as it meant he could get maximum holiday with minimum amount of PTO, other co-worker was devout catholic and had an argument with him as he did not consider it a religious holiday and said he does not get his religious holidays off so why should she?.

              My (converted) Muslim sister took the most of December off as she was flying out to meet her inlaws in Pakistan and it was the cheapest time of the year for flights and they could take the most time off.

              OTOH I had a different Muslim Coworker who never took any time off over christmas as he wasn’t bothered about it.

              1. Sarah Simpson*

                I agree so much with this – I don’t need Christmas off, but I sure do like having to take only 3 days of vacation to get a whole week off!

          2. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

            90% of Americans celebrate Christmas, so I don’t think it’s more than slight hyperbole to say it’s a holiday “everybody” wants.

            1. Fikly*

              Removed. I take your point (particularly as a Jew who frequently rails against people describing Christmas as “secular” myself), but this is nitpicking and becoming derailing; please move on. – Alison

          3. Rugby*

            It’s not just about the holiday though. A lot of people who don’t celebrate Christmas want to take time off at the end of December because that’s when a lot of other people have time off and kids are out of school.

        1. Avasarala*

          I don’t think people are hanging back out of politeness, I think they just haven’t gotten to book stuff for Christmas 2020 yet when it’s November 2019. What happens when this person finds out that OP just now booked Christmas 2021? “Ya snooze ya lose”?

          If it’s an extreme situation, then you should acknowledge that you’re causing trouble for your colleagues and be generous elsewhere, like working other holidays, covering shifts, bringing in treats, etc.

          This is more like boss puts down a box of donuts and one is already missing–someone grabbed the only Boston Creme as soon as the box touched the table so they could make sure they got the best one. Now everyone else is stuck with white powder and plain donuts. Oh well, shoulda spoken up!

          1. Amtelope*

            So … people should wait for some arbitrary time before taking the “best doughnut”? If you’re the first person to choose, wouldn’t you take the thing you wanted most? I don’t get the manners you’re implying should exist here.

            1. Roscoe*

              Yeah, I’m not getting this either. Someone is getting the boston cream (I don’t even like them personally lol). But are you just supposed to wait for everyone else? The first person to get it isn’t wrong?

              1. CMart*

                As the vulture who rushes the doughnut box in order to see if there is a Boston Cream/grab it if there is only one, I will agree that it is absolutely self-serving behavior but disagree that it rises to the level of hurt feelings as unprecedentedly early holiday claiming.

                1. Avasarala*

                  Sure but that’s why it’s a metaphor…

                  If there’s one thing that is REALLY good that everyone wants, and you climb and step over your teammates to make sure you get it, that is selfish behavior and your teammates will perceive you as selfish. Maybe the rest of you all don’t need to get along with your colleagues (in case you need to ask them a favor, swap shifts, get their help or advice, ask them for a reference) but I think it’s important to read the atmosphere.

            2. Bawab*

              People don’t have to wait for an arbitrary time but they can be transparent and solicitous of negotiation. Let’s not be disingenuous here. The coworker asked for it off this early (two Christmases in advance!)because they *know* no one else is thinking about it this early. And they would be intercepting the boss at the office front door and taking that doughnut because they know everyone else would be to busy working to pounce on the boss within seconds.

              It would be not at all hard to email the team that you are looking to take that time off and see if anyone else wants it so that there can be negotiation.

              ” Hi All, I know it’s pretty early but I will need to be off for Christmas 2020 for family obligations. I would be happy to hang back for Thanksgiving this coming year and take myself out of the running for 2021, but I need to solidify these plans very early.”

      3. lobsterp0t*

        Yeah, agreed. I used to manage people who had opposite tendencies – last minute vs planning ahead. There was always tension about Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day so I just gave them advance notice I wouldn’t be approving those until after Halloween, and that at that point, it would be minimum staffing plus no one could have all three off.

        People whined still, but at least that way everyone got something. And it was still more than 6 weeks out for the advance planners.

        If someone had been wanting to take a Caribbean holiday then I’d still have checked with the team about plans and made sure no one had all three days and there were opportunities for equivalent leave!! FPTP is shitty in voting and in holiday booking.

      4. tangerineRose*

        I once worked with someone who took a day next to every holiday we had and took the most desirable day there. This meant that I couldn’t have any of those days. Frustrating. Maybe he wasn’t trying to grab all the “best” days first, but that’s sure what it looked like. Not something that endears one to their co-workers.

    2. Gaia*

      No, it is on both of them. Just because you can do something like this doesn’t mean you should. If they book it out one year should I book out years 2, 3, and 4?

      The PTO policy sucks but taking it to this extreme also sucks.

    3. D'Arcy*

      Blocking off the entire Christmas vacation period when you KNOW this bars any other employee from having any holiday days off makes you an asshole, system or no system.

      It’s like that letter a few years back where the employee with tons of seniority came in off schedule on the first business day of January and claimed the days before and after every single holiday for the entire year.

      1. Tallulah in the Sky*

        I also thought of that letter. But there’s a difference between booking every holiday and booking one. Also, with the system in place, it could be that this employee didn’t have Christmas off in years, and took proactive steps to have it this time. Yeah, it’s not great, it would be better if employees check with each other before booking big holidays. But the bigger problem here is the system, and that’s what OP should focus on.

        1. Rose*

          I think part of the question is, what is the employee thinking?

          Is this an employee who’s going “I missed out on Christmas for the last eight years because I never plan ahead, so THIS year I’m going to play WAY ahead”?

          Or is this an employee who’s going “You snooze, you lose, so what if I’m the only one who’s ever gotten to take it off because I’m the only one who plans this far ahead”?

          I’m a lot more sympathetic to the first employee than the second — because the second is being an ass, while the first is looking for a one-time thing. The question is also if this employee is planning on doing it every year or just once. Because I can understand really wanting a holiday when you haven’t had it in a while (then it’s a problem with the company and their coverage requirements), but if you always claim Christmas so early and no one else ever gets it… well, that’s a problem with both the company and the employee.

          The company and their policy is absolutely a problem. Whether the employee is or not depends on motivation, history, and attitude.

      2. KRM*

        Hard disagree. If this person knows for sure that family is traveling in for the Christmas period she took off, she’s making sure she has the time to spend with that family. The system sucks, she’s working within it, and she wants to be sure she doesn’t miss out on what might be something that only happens once every several years.

      3. Liz*

        I have to agree with this. My group is small; 3 people, me and my two bosses. So really only one of us can be out at any given time, although it has happened and we adapt. For years, my immediate boss took off the week between Christmas and NY; his wife teaches and his son was younger and out of school. My only immediate family was 8 hours away, so I would take the week leading up to Christmas, and come back the day after. And my boss was really great about working that day, knowing i would be driving back. I also, many times, worked from there as well.

        Then his boss decided she wanted in on the fun. And would block off that week my boss took, WELL in advance, with no plans set, just in case. My family since moved back closer to me so i don’t need time off then anymore, but he got screwed out of taking that time several years in a row. While he and i worked things out, she refused.

        now we have a new boss who is fine with two of us being out, etc. But i agree that when someone plans so far in advance, its kind of rude, policy or not, to assume no one else might want that time off.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I’m not sure why it seemed fair to you for your boss to get that week off for years and not her, but then unfair for that to switch for a while?

      4. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Mr Gumption’s family lives in Singapore and his parents, aunts, and uncles are too elderly to fly. If I worked at this employer you can bet your shorts I would book every Christmas as soon as I could because us seeing his family at Christmas is important to him and them. And odds are we have only a few years left to see them. My co-workers could have all the Thanksgivings, New Years, 4th of Julys, etc., but I would go out of my way to lock in every Christmas.

        1. lobsterp0t*

          I get this, living abroad as I do, but I still think it’s selfish in the extreme, especially if it is hardline without any discussion or negotiation.

        2. Shan*

          I mean, I definitely get the desire, but that’s still pretty rude. Having aging parents is not a situation that’s remotely unique to you. Not being willing to negotiate with your coworkers and maybe go at other times some years is very selfish behavior.

          1. CMart*

            This is honestly where the whole “I don’t need to be friendly with my coworkers, I’m here to work and don’t care about their lives and certainly don’t want them prying into mine” mentality that is often seen in this comment section breaks down.

            (Not saying DANGER above has that mentality! I don’t know their situation with their colleagues. Just speaking more generally here)

            Everyone has specific life circumstances that impact how they view holidays and what their needs and desires are. The best way for these things to work out is if people can work together and come to understandings. Maybe Fergus seems selfish for booking off all of Christmas week when he’s single and lives close to family but maybe this is likely the last year a non-local family member will be around to celebrate with. Maybe Waukeen has three little kids and everyone assumes he’d need that week off, but his spouse is an EMT and will be working over the holiday so they’re celebrating as a family in January.

            This always worked out well when I worked in the restaurant industry because we were all up in each other’s business. There were very few hurt feelings over holiday scheduling, because we talked to each other and cared about each other and did our best to make things fair. I would always offer to work both NYE and the opening shift of New Years Day so my friends could party if that meant I could have Thanksgiving off, since that is my family’s biggest holiday gathering.

            Of course you have your own interests at heart and no one will advocate for your needs better than you can, but things are so much more harmonious when people have an understanding of everyone’s motivations.

            1. Avasarala*


              AAM commenter strawman: I hate talking to my coworkers, they’re not my friends and I don’t want to make small talk or answer questions about my life.

              AAM commenter strawman: My coworkers should know and understand that I really need this time off because of my life circumstances. Their life circumstances are not as important.

    4. Willis*

      Yeah, this system is bad but I agree with you that the coworker isn’t the one that deserves the blame. Honestly, since only 1 person can be out on Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m surprised more people haven’t tried to claim 2020 holidays if they’re having to work them in 2019. I have a couple friends who have jobs that must be worked over holidays, and their offices seem to do some combination of requests and rotations for who is working the big ones. And it’s not odd for them to have that schedule several months in advance. OPs office could improve their system, but it sounds like it will also remain pretty unrealistic for OP to be able to make decisions about whether to take off major holidays only a month before.

      1. EPLawyer*

        I don’t think OP is making the decision to only book a month in advance because they just don’t plan. It’s a scheduling thing that involves the rest of the family. OP’s significant other could have a PTO policy where they can only ask for time off a month in advance. So that leaves OP unable to plan for 2021.

        I have the same problem. My husband gets 1 day a week off. They choose it the week before. WHY they can’t do the schedule for the whole month at least I have no clue. But it is what it is. However, I am setting hearings six months in advance. If he forgets to check with me for what day he should take off so we can be together, he might set it on a trial date. I can’t suddenly change my trial date to accomodate his lack of schedule.

        With only one person being able to be off, how do you consider your co-workers? Someone is always going to want the time off you want. Coworker A already blocked it off. But what if he waited 3 months and Coworker B had already blocked it off? Then Coworker A is mad instead of Coworker B. No matter who takes the holiday someone is going to miss out. Because the system is not set up to be fair.

        OP said up above that even if 2 people are out, daily stuff doesn’t get done. It sounds like more than the schedule is the problem.

        1. Willis*

          I get that there are reasons the OP can’t plan ahead, but my point is that even with a better PTO system and additional team members, it’s unlikely that the PTO schedule for major holidays is going to be decided only a month before.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Yeah… ‘hate the game, not the playa’ isn’t a 100% defense. If the rules allow you to be a dick, you should still try and look out for your fellow people.

      1. ChimericalOne*

        So… is the expectation that you should poll your coworkers before asking off for Christmas? Or is there an arbitrary amount of time you should wait before asking for off? If you’re a planner & you know your schedule 13 months out, I don’t see it as “being a dick” to request off for the time you need. I doubt this coworker was thinking, “Haha! I got there first.” They’re most likely thinking, “Oh, I’d better book this now if I really want it!”

        1. lobsterp0t*

          Yep, it is. Unless your job shuts down over Christmas, if there’s any form of “cover” needed then I think it’s extremely fair to check in with people or at least your manager and be flexible about getting some but not all of the days you want.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I am also puzzled. What was OP’s coworker supposed to do, send out a mass email saying “hey I’ll take next Christmas unless anyone wants it” so someone else would then go ahead and take it instead? If the same person takes Christmas off every year, then I agree, there’s a problem. Otherwise, it is what it is.

    6. Rebecca*

      I agree – this is on management at the company. It seems like this is the norm now – hire the fewest people possible, make it nearly impossible to take any meaningful time off, and then have stingy PTO and vacation policies. If this is a critical business function, what would happen if one of the 7 got a new job? Or had an accident and was out of the office for 2 months? Or longer? Or needed medical leave…or…any number of things? Would the remaining 6 be denied any time off? That would be a good way to lose more staff. To me, the OP’s situation is directly related to management policies and staffing issues, not that one person wants a specific date off so far ahead of time.

      1. EPLawyer*

        There you go. The set up is the problem. No place should be so short staffed that if more than one person is out daily tasks don’t get done and everyone else has so much to do they might have to work late. That is a staffing problem, not a holiday scheduling problem.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          Having been on that understaffed, critical team when someone quit / got badly sick, our manager’s answer was: no one else got vacation approved while we were understaffed. Except for the team lead, of course, who approved all the vacations.

          This actually lead to another person quitting as well :)

        2. Archaeopteryx*

          And unless they’re something firefighters-level essential, their employer should really just close down for a couple days.

      2. mcr-red*

        Would the remaining 6 be denied any time off?

        YEP. And the job market is so bad here, while we’d love to leave we can’t, due to spouses jobs being in this area, family obligations, etc.

    7. Policy Wonk*

      If the person requesting it off has school-age kids, the request probably goes in as soon as the school posts its calendar for the coming year. Thus the requester doesn’t need to scramble for day care. I agree the issue is with the system, not the requester who has to do what is in their best interests.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        To me, attitude would make a lot of difference. I worked (thankfully not for long) in a place with a system like this, and someone who booked all the Christmas holidays in advance was smug because, “Well, I have children, I NEED it.” Then someone else booked another holiday (I think Thanksgiving of the next year) and the smug mother was outraged, despite the fact that the second person had children as well and had followed the system the same way she had. “Why are you trying to deprive MY children of their mother???”

        So yeah, management is to blame for the system, but no one liked the smug co-worker who thought everyone in the world should privilege her children, either.

        1. lobsterp0t*

          Yep. Exactly this. We all need and want time off. And sometimes it is important to us that it is at a particular time of year.

      2. mcr-red*

        The scramble for day care on a holiday is a real thing. Having been a single mom, luckily my parents lived nearby so they could stay with the grandparents, but I can’t imagine trying to find childcare on Christmas day so I could go to work.

    8. Trout 'Waver*

      Fully disagree. If the system lets you be a dick, that doesn’t give you a free pass for being a dick. Talk it out with your team and come up with a team solution.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        But how is it being a dick? What would be a more fair thing for them to do? Someone is going to get that holiday and that means no one else is going to. What’s the difference between claiming it now and claiming it in June? The timing of this seems to me like they probably tried to get this Christmas off, weren’t able to, so then said okay I’ll see if I can get next Christmas off instead. That seems completely reasonable to me!

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          ***I have since seen below that the LW said this person has gotten Christmas off every year for the last few years which is obviously a very different story and they are definitely being a dick. But I still hold that given only the facts in the letter it’s not unreasonable for someone to book this far in advance if that’s how the system is set up and they want to make sure they get a holiday that they have not previously been getting.

          I think the manager is the bigger problem though. He should not be allowing the same person to get this same time off every year if everyone else would like a turn.

    9. Lehigh*

      I agree completely.

      It’s one thing if this person has a pattern of always or frequently doing this. But as a one-off? Someone was going to get it. It wasn’t going to be OP, since they can only schedule one month in advance. It’s not inherently better for someone to snatch it for themselves at 9 months than at 13. Maybe the coworker hasn’t had Christmas off in years, was feeling mopey, and thought, “Well, I can’t have it this year because Jane has it, but I could put in for next year’s.” What’s unreasonable about that?

    10. awesome*

      If you have a kid in a school system, it’s pretty obvious 13 (even 18, in some cases) months in advance what holidays your kid will have, and wanting to match that is reasonable. But yeah, the system itself is not ideal. If nothing else maybe get some PNR staff to fill in on major holidays, etc. If their city depends on six people doing this at any given time, having at least 10 people who know how to do it wouldn’t be a bad plan. What happens when there’s a flu outbreak? Or if someone quits?

    11. ThursdaysGeek*

      And perhaps not even an ass. My parents got married on Christmas eve, and next year will be their 70th anniversary. I don’t have the coverage issues as the OP, but I probably should plan now to take that off. There could be a really valid reason why the co-worker is planning now and that far in the future.

  8. Avasarala*

    #4 If you’re in a region/industry where year-end bonuses are common, it may also be common for workers to schedule their start date for after they get their bonus. My husband Arjun just negotiated this with his new job. It’s very standard in our area to have a large year-end bonus, so when he was negotiating with his new job, he was prepared for them to ask him to start ASAP. But they were very understanding when he suggested starting next year, and said this was a common request. So hopefully it won’t be a big deal for you either.

    1. Delta Delta*

      This is a good point. What if it’s an industry or business where the bonus is not a given? Would be very unfortunate for OP to stick around an extra few weeks to find out she was enrolled in a Jelly Of The Month Club in lieu of an actual bonus.

      1. Lauren*

        That is why AAM is specifically stating a dollar $$$$ amount. They need to hear $10,000 / $5,000 / $40,000 – none of which is chump change. You can’t not give the details. The details are what will get them to take OP seriously. Delaying the date or giving compensation allows for 2 options for new job to choose from. Neither of which are you backing down. You could even consider telling them (if they say no to both) that you’ll have to rethink whether you will accept then and that you will let them know first thing in the morning or something.

      2. Door Guy*

        Or if you find out that the bonus structure went from independent (based on your team’s metrics) to competitive (only the top 3 teams out of 28).

    2. MissGirl*

      Even without a bonus, I think companies are more understanding of a later start date this time of year. With vacations and holidays, people aren’t in the office to onboard and train.

    3. Door Guy*

      Always worth a shot. And sometimes those deadlines for qualifying are not the same as when they get paid out. We lost a very good employee when our location moved and he didn’t want his commute tripled. He got told, when he asked (after he was already gone), that his final day was 1 week too early and he forfeit his bonus (by someone at corporate).

      The bonus for my level was changed and altered the whole time I was in management with very poor communication on any payouts or qualifications. I left in March and still hadn’t gotten the bonus we were supposed to have gotten for the previous year. Asking around I found out they were going to get paid out in April when the yearly performance review raises went into effect. Got a nice surprise a few weeks into my new job when I got a direct deposit alert.

  9. Princesa Zelda*

    If the former employee in letter 1 *was* in a position to do real harm, what would be the best way to handle that? Would it be appropriate to let your contact know their new Tank Driving Specialist was a dumpster fire, or would it be better to contact HR or their direct manager (if your contact isn’t the direct manager)?

    1. Anon for this*

      I had to report someone in this situation once. I knew that they had medical qualifications but not at the level they claimed to have, but their place of employment was rural and so desperate to have someone that they basically took the first and only person who applied. I notified their professional board rather than the employer, there was an investigation and criminal charges.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      If that was the case here, I would recommend the other former co-workers who are still in the same field be the ones to report. To me they would feel more reasonable reporters than a former boss who has changed fields. Because they are still in the same field they have more emphasis on making sure their industry is seen in the best light.
      However if an investigation/questions come OP1’s direction I would honestly answer those questions.

  10. Civilian Linetti*

    LW3, I feel your frustration.

    Another way to work with this existing system is to address the short-notice planning of your friends and relatives. Just because they can’t book time off ahead of time shouldn’t be an impediment to you. I would just book your own PTO as close to the holiday, if not directly on the holiday, and let your family know that you are available for Family Christmas/Thanksgiving/Easter on such-and-such-a-date. Your plans are then set and it is up to your family to book their PTO according to their workplace’s rules.

    It’s frustrating to be caught between your workplace’s policy and your family’s workplace(s) policies, but the only thing within your power to control is your own PTO requests. You will never get a good pick of dates in your own workplace if you defer making a decision until your friends and family have made theirs at their own workplaces with a shorter PTO request system. Booking your time off and letting your loved ones know when you’re available at least puts you back in the driving seat.

    1. The Original Stellaaaaa*

      I wondered about this. What does it matter if her family can’t book time off far in advance? Christmas and thanksgiving are still going to be on the same days either way.

      1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Plenty of families celebrate the holidays on the days that aren’t actually the holidays. If you have a lot of people to coordinate, it may not happen on Christmas Day. Then when the kids start getting married they have to split their time between both families. This isn’t an issue of the OP not being able to book time off far in advance. This is an issue of crappy management and time off policies.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          As it is now OP, you can never be with your family because all plans are dependent on the family. Why not put in for the day you want off right now – – and let your family know what date you are available and perhaps they can schedule their PTO around you rather than you always having to schedule your days off around them.
          Or here’s another idea, why don’t you offer to host one of the holidays.

          1. LW3*

            To explain: I’m the child that moved away, so all my family is still in the same area while I only have an apartment so it is very impractical to have them come to me.

            We already don’t have Christmas on Christmas, I usually spend that with the in-laws(who are local to me). There is usually so wide window of when it could happen, that I would feel like a real dick if I blocked off the amount of time I need to.

            1. Third or Nothing!*

              Is there a specific reason why your family can’t plan more than a month in advance or are they just not planners in general? I have this issue with my in-laws. They want us to come visit but ask us only like 3 days in advance. I’ve had sooooooooo many conversations about how we have to juggle 2 other sets of parents and our own lives and we need more notice. I finally just said “OK then I guess we will just miss certain events.”

              1. Leslie Nielsen*

                I can see how it would be difficult for some families. My aunt works for a job where she only knows her schedule a week in advance, and if someone doesn’t show up for their shift, there still has to be coverage. We started having Thanksgiving later in the day to accommodate her schedule if she wasn’t given the day off, but even then sometimes she’ll show up 2 hours late because of someone else calling in “sick.” It makes me feel so bad for her…I’m trying to think of the last time she had dinner with us when it was served instead of having heated up leftovers. She’s a good sport, but I know she’s looking forward to retirement!

              2. LW3*

                One of my family members is in Healthcare, and finds out their schedule a month in advance. The holidays weeks(not just the days) are blackouts so we can’t plan till we know what they get for the big gathering.

                1. Third or Nothing!*

                  Ahhh yes that makes it a struggle to plan anything. How would they feel about doing a big family celebration in the off season, like early to mid January?

            2. Deelight*

              I sympathize so much with you, because I’m also The Child That Lives Far Away and also currently caught in some… kinda shitty feeling PTO situation (our boss asked people to put in their holiday requests while I was on vacation this summer, and by the time I was told once I got back it was followed up with “and you probably won’t get anything you ask for, because other people already requested their time” that has caused some… fairly significant upset on my end, especially since I found out a few weeks after that two close family members are ill enough that I’d really like to travel home to see them in case there’s not another chance).

              Your system for coverage stinks. I’m sorry you’re going through it. I think suggesting a rotating holiday system might help y’all out and reduce things like this happening. Sure, that means not everyone is going to Christmas, but as it stands now only one person is getting that holiday. Maybe with a Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year’s rotation y’all could still have the coverage AND be better able to plan?

            3. Kimberlee, No Longer Esq.*

              I think what’s being suggested is that you pick maybe a couple days that aren’t Christmas to request off, and then send that saying “I can make this work on Dec 13, 17th, or 28th. Let me know if you absolutely cannot make that work.” Not, like, requesting off every possible day that your family might decide to schedule things?

    2. Colette*

      Yes. And if it’s an in-demand day (like Christmas) and the OP’s family can’t get it off, she can likely un-request it and take another day instead.

    3. lobsterp0t*

      Yeah, I also will just flat out tell people in my family that if they want to see me, then I’m planning XYZ (I am the one coming from overseas) and they’ll usually manage to incorporate that into their late planning.

  11. Aggretsuko*

    My office just had a day where we left anonymous nice notes for anyone/everyone by their doors. It was much loved. Why can’t they do turkeys for everyone, if they must do turkeys?

    1. Yvette*

      Great idea! And no dictating who gives who(m?) a turkey! There should be a pile of turkeys for everyone to take and use.

    2. Autumnheart*

      I will say that I think “praise turkeys” has just as much meme potential as, say, bacon pants over on Carolyn Hax’s column.

  12. Fikly*

    As a manager, “because it makes me feel good,” should never be the only reason you do something, especially when it involves making the people you manage do something.

    1. OP2*

      To be honest, it doesn’t make me feel good. It makes me feel very, very uncomfortable. I mean generally I don’t handle praise well but this takes it to a whole nother ball game. I can tell my team is happy with me because they’re happy with their job and they trust me, I don’t need more than that.

  13. Jesicka309*

    Hang on, but OP 3 is getting special work from home privileges over Christmas! They said themselves that it’s rarely approved (so doubtful their coworkers got the same privilege?) So my view is that even if coworker A hadn’t booked 2020, the OP wouldnt be entitled to it anyway as they got special treatment this year. Imagine if you’re coworker B, C and D and you worked this year and last year and will work next year, schlepping in every day, while OP is griping about working from home over Christmas one year when they only applied a month out? The system is flawed but it seems like OP wants special treatment because their family lives far away and is disorganized which isn’t fair on everyone else who are presumably also waiting their turns.

    Previous jobs we’ve rotated Christmas coverage (rather than first come first segued) and it’s always worked well. You might only get Christmas every 6-7 years in a team of 6-7 people, but it’s really the only way to rotate fairly if everyone wants it off. Unless coworker who booked 2020 wasn’t up for a turn at Christmas that year, I actually don’t see a problem.

    1. LW3*

      My boss would have granted work from home to any other member with a similar need. I actually do less work from home then some of my coworkers and I am usually less likely to ask. The work from home thing is a company issue that my boss tries to give us flexibility on for important things. I mostly said that so people would be aware work from home isn’t the norm and is being given as a accommodation to a situation.

      The coworker who booked Christmas next year also got it this year and last year. However at least those years they at least waited for one holiday season to be over before booking the next.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Oh this is the real problem. The same person keeps booking the same holiday so no one else can have it. That is not fair. Even if it is the system, the Coworker needs to stop and think that otherrs might like Christmas off to. Also, again this is on management for not noticing the same guy has taken the holiday off for 3 years in a row. Management needs to tell him “Sorry buddy, someone else’s turn in 2020.”

        1. Archaeopteryx*

          Yes, our (medical) office is closed on Christmas, but the days surrounding it are a special class of PTO. You can’t request it off until a couple months before hand, and priority is given to people who didn’t have that exact holiday off last year. So you can’t just take Christmas every year, but you might be able to get Christmas-week days one year and Thanksgiving week the next. But just bogarting Christmas to one out of six people year after year is extremely unfair and requires more active management.

      2. Lehigh*

        Okay, sorry I didn’t see this before I posted my other comment! Yes, if it’s the same person every year that is both selfish of them and silly of management to let them.

      3. Lynn*

        With that added information, I am going to say that you have a coworker who is either oblivious to other people or just plain a jerk on this subject and you also have a company/department with a bad policy. I would be asking my manager if there was a way to make holiday distribution more fair, as allowing one person to monopolize a major holiday every year is bound to be making more than just you unhappy.

        I would also say that, even if the employer does something to make the distribution more fair, your ability to only schedule things a month out means that you will likely still not get what you want. It would not be any real improvement if they went from allowing people to monopolize holidays by booking so early to forcing them to wait until a month before the holiday.

      4. Ali*

        oh yeah that’s a massive problem. I was giving them the benefit of the doubt and thinking “Maybe they already know they have a family wedding on December 26th 2020 so want to make sure they’re able to be there”- but if they are the ONLY PERSON who EVER gets Christmas off, that’s so unfair. How on earth has your manager not said to them “Hey person, I can’t approve this as I need to give others the chance to book?”. The fairest thing if only ONE person can be off would be for everyone who wants Christmas off to pop their name into a hat, and then it be randomly drawn. Sure, it’s not great, and the same person may get it two years in a row, but it means that everyone at least has the same chance of getting to take it off, rather than whoever gets there first….

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          > the same person may get it two years in a row

          This year’s person doesn’t get to be in next year’s hat.

      5. Joielle*

        Yeah, that person is a jerk. It shouldn’t be necessary to come up with a whole policy just because one person doesn’t understand the concept of sharing, but apparently it is necessary in your office. Condolences!

      6. Mae*

        Why on earth is management allowing this person to get every Christmas off? It’s time for them to step up and make better rules around PTO. If only one person can be off on that holiday, it definitely needs to be rotated.

      7. ChimericalOne*

        Definitely should’ve included this in the OP! This makes a huge difference. I would definitely talk to your boss about a rotating schedule of major holidays, if I were you. (Esp. one where people can trade if they really want to.) This needs to be made more fair.

      8. Half-Caf Latte*

        I’m in healthcare, so not getting off at the holidays is part of the package.

        One very effective thing many healthcare orgs do is keep a log for the department, of whose “turn” it is to work the holiday this year, who worked the last several years, and who is due to work next year. It helps especially when there’s management turnover, and for “day of” staffing decisions. The manager should be doing a better job overseeing this, but since they aren’t, maybe you can propose a published rota/record to help make this more obvious?

      9. Plush Penguin*

        So, wait, the policy in your office is “Co-worker X gets Christmas off, and nobody else does?”

      10. Rose*

        Okay, that person is officially an ass. If only one persona can take it each year, then it cannot be the same person every year (unless no one else wants it, which is possible but not likely). It just can’t.

        My library is closed on Christmas Eve/Day, but I’ve chosen to never take the surrounding days off — we’re understaffed, I’m Jewish, I don’t have kids, and I’d rather take Thanksgiving anyway. So I make sure to request Thanksgiving week early and then just don’t take off days right around Christmas. It means I pretty much always end up working the weekends both before and after Christmas, but if that means I never have to work Thanksgiving weekend, I’ll take it. (Also, I have the benefit of being closed on Christmas Day, so I can still do Hanukkah that day when the rest of my family has off too.)

        But the year we were super understaffed (one of our full-timers had retired, another had gone to part-time and possibly quit by that point — I can’t remember, and a third was out for two months with a hip replacement), there was definitely a fight between the two remaining full-timers about Christmas week. It got worked out — but the way it got worked out was one of them agreed to work that week as long as he got the entire week off the next year, which I thought was fair.

        I get why your coworker wants it off, but at this point, everyone’s going to be mad at him more than the company.

      11. MCMonkeyBean*

        Ok that’s an extremely different situation and should have been the crux of your letter. The issue is not them booking this far in advance, the issue is that your manager is letting the same person take Christmas off every year.

  14. Asenath*

    Although my job isn’t coverage based and we get great time off at Christmas, some people with my employer do have to provide coverage, and time off over the Christmas period is highly desired. Leave is approved by the scheduling people but there are rules – no one gets both Christmas Day and New Years Day. Newbies might not get their first choice, but they get some time off. The rest of the time is split up according to requests and seniority. No decisions are made until all leave requests are received – a deadline is announced. It’s not a perfect system especially for junior people who want to travel but seems to generate fewer serious complaints than some other systems, like the one described.

  15. QCI*

    OP1 can be answered with a simple “Not your circus, not your monkeys”. Leave it alone, if he’s truly not fit for the job they’ll figure it out themselves.

  16. LW3*

    Thank you so much, those were the type of suggestions I was looking for.

    I feel that my resentment is unjust because I know it doesn’t matter if they take it now or next summer, it all comes out the same for what I can work with. I know I won’t be able to have good holiday PTO due to my circumstance, and it isn’t my teams fault. I Just also find it unfair on the overall for everyone which also rubs me wrong.

    To give a bit more detail, end of year is a very busy time for us as the company is in overdrive to meet its year end commitments. My team is the primary source for reports and other analytics as well as the bridge between our system and some client systems, so our role becomes even more critical.

    My boss has been trying to increase the size of the team, and has been transparent with us about how difficult a process that is being. They really are trying their best which is why I expect they will be receptive to trying a slightly different system.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Thanks for the clarification, although based on another comment I saw you make, your resentment is justified because the same person keeps taking Christmas off year after year. This is where management needs to get involved because if only 1 of you is allowed off per day, there needs to be a system in place to prevent that from happening.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Right. Just because someone REQUESTS Christmas every year doesn’t mean management has to GRANT it every year. Your co-worker is kind of a pill, but management is not stepping up — that’s an incredibly easy solution. Maybe they are not noticing — has this issue been brought to their attention?

        Since it’s 13 months out, I’m sure management has time to rescind their approval, yes? Maybe not, but it could be done.

    2. CmdrShepard4ever*

      LW3 could you ask for PTO for the week or two week window around xmas that you think your family might celebrate and then if you get a firm date, you could cut down your request to the days you actually want.

      For example request off Saturday December 18 through Sunday January 2nd 2021. Then once your family makes plans a month out for the weekend of December 18-19, you can cut down your request to to be Saturday December 18 to Sunday December 26, and let coworkers know you can cover for someone that second week, or vice versa.

      Also if your boss is unable/willing to change the policy you could get together with the rest of your coworkers (except for the one who has had xmas off 3 years in a row) decide among yourselves how you want to divide holidays (rotation/lottery/seniority) and create a list. Then you OP request xmas 2021, Jane requests xmas 2022, Joe xmas 2023, Julie xmas 2024, and Sam xmas 2025. This way you can block your annoying coworker from getting a holiday for the next 5/6 years.

  17. Shocked Pikachu*

    #1 – I admit it would bug the daylight out of me to know former report was taking credit for my work and for work of his coworkers. It would bug me real big time. But I agree with the advice to leave it alone. The risks vs benefits for LW ratio here don’t justify intervening.

  18. Shocked Pikachu*

    Paper compliment turkeys.

    I read story on FB (so I have no way of knowing of this true) about toxic workplace in which manager insisted on fixing issues by people leaving anonymous post it notes for each other. So somebody got box of stuffing, put a cartoon picture of turkey and post it with “get stuffed” on it and taped it to her door.

    Not helpful to LW but seeing the paper turkeys and complimenting boss I can get the visual out of my head.

    But personally, I think something like this can be nice gesture going from bosses “downward” or just done in general. If I came to work and there was a paper turkey on my office door with “you are gobble gobble great”, I would have a great chuckle. But then again, I should probably be not taken as any sort of indicator for office, or any other sort of norms.

    1. Close Bracket*

      lol, according to my Australian ex (and other Australians please chime in), “stuffed” is slang for either pregnant or, erm, in the act of getting so. Either meaning makes that box hysterical.

      (his American mother was at dinner at a neighbor’s house, and shocked her hosts by responding to an offer of seconds with, “Oh, no, thank you, I’m stuffed!”)

  19. JustMyImagination*

    LW4: I was in this position last year. I negotiated for a signing bonus that was equivalent to the year-end bonus I was expecting.

    1. bonus4meplease*

      That’s smart! I didn’t list that as a possible amendment to my offer, but maybe they’ll propose something along those lines… Still waiting to hear back.

  20. NYWeasel*

    With OP#1, besides doing harm to at risk clients, etc, I can see a very real chance that this person could harm their staff’s careers. I’ve known more than one liar who looks at management as an opportunity to make everyone else do the work while they sit back and surf the internet.

    The harm to their team comes from either creating a lousy enough environment that excellent employees end up derailing their own career progression by hastily jumping ship for the first opportunity that will get them away from the idiot or because they end up being used as a scapegoat for any criticism thrown at the idiot. Liars are usually pretty good at managing upwards and blaming others in a believable way for any issues that arise for long enough that a high performing team can be decimated before the real problem is brought to light. Meanwhile, the good employees are forced to take a detour that can potentially take years to recover from—either in terms of reputation (see the comments in yesterday’s letter about Newman), or in terms of responsibilities.

  21. No Tribble At All*

    OP#5, check your current company’s policy! And how speedy they are with bonuses. My company doesn’t pay out its end of the year bonus until March, because (a) they evaluate the year’s performance and do a % based on that and (b) they are super slow anyway. Multiple people I know did exactly that— held on til the end of the year, then scheduled their last day in February. HR took so long that they lost the bonus.

    1. CMart*

      Yes! I’m hoping they know when the bonuses get paid out and have taken this into consideration, but my company is similar to yours. Yes, you’ve earned that bonus by being an employee through the end of the year, but if you’re not employed on the date of payout (mid-Feb), you don’t get it.

  22. Linda's Sister*

    My niece married a Presbyterian ministerial student. I don’t think he will ever get Christmas off from work.

    1. Elizabeth Proctor*

      Many protestant churches have services on Christmas Eve, not on Christmas. The two Presbyterian churches I’ve attended as well as other denominations have followed that convention.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      So… LW #3 should take her lumps? Of course he won’t get Christmas off. That doesn’t mean the LW shouldn’t.

      1. FindThisVeryInteresting*

        I think that she was commiserating with those who can’t take off Christmas, not trying to diminish the desire of the OP to do so.

        It’s the same as those who commented above that they have family in healthcare, etc.

    3. Lily Rowan*

      My father was a minister, and did a Christmas Eve AND a Christmas morning service. Not many people came Christmas morning. One year, my mother asked who in the congregation was insisting on the Christmas morning service, and the answer was no one! My father just liked it! He did eventually stop doing it, after the year it was literally our family plus one other person.

      1. Close Bracket*

        I could see how a minister would like doing a Christmas morning service. I could also see how their spouse could not like it. :)

    4. Adultiest Adult*

      One of my relatives is a Catholic nun who has usually had major responsibilities on church holidays, including Christmas, and another is a (now retired) police officer who often had to work major holidays. In our family, holiday dinners are usually held late in the day, and neither of those family members was assigned a pivotal role that couldn’t be delayed or foregone entirely. You have to get creative, but we’ve managed for years.

  23. Elizabeth Proctor*

    I actually think the paper turkeys are a cute festive idea if your workplace is generally lighthearted. But I would agree that people should be invited to thank anyone, not limited to managers.

  24. Tinybutfierce*

    LW3: I’m not sure if something like this would work for your workplace, but my job has sorted out a system that works pretty well for holiday PTO with what sounds like somewhat similar business needs. My department (made of several separate teams of 10-12 folks) gets certain paid holidays off, but due to the nature of our work, only one person per team is allowed to use PTO the day immediately before/after a holiday, with one additional teammate allowed to take one of those days as well, provided that they don’t use PTO and instead make up the hours during the rest of the week as they choose. In order to keep things fair, we get opportunities to earn “raffle tickets” for those days before/after a holiday, which can be earned via high performance, participating in departmental/company-wide events, volunteering, etc. Then each team has their own drawing and whomever wants X day off can put in as many tickets as they want towards a specific holiday; I think my team raffled off our days for the rest of the year at the end of October, so it left plenty of time for folks to still plan travel and all. This is the first year we’ve done holiday PTO this way, but it seems like it’s working out pretty well so far! It keeps things pretty fair, since there’s no way anyone can “work” the first-come-first-served system like in your letter, and it seems like it’s been pretty well received all around.

    1. It's Me, Margaret*

      This sounds like a great idea (and takes a lot of pressure off management) as long as randomness doesn’t get the best of you. I could imagine folks with a lot of tickets or seniority getting irked if, by chance, a low performer or relative newbie got “good” holidays in the raffle a couple times in a row. Not something you can prevent in a random drawing.

    2. Joielle*

      And that sounds like a nightmare to me! What if someone REALLY wanted a particular holiday (for a legitimately important reason – family traveling from abroad, wedding the same weekend, traveling to see family, baby’s first Christmas, whatever) and put all their tickets in for that holiday, but someone else didn’t care much so tossed in one ticket, and the second person was randomly drawn? I’d be so upset if I was the first person. (Plus, I’m kind of an office party pooper and would be unhappy about having to participate in events to get better holiday chances… but maybe that’s not an issue for your particular group of coworkers.)

      Personally, I think the best solution is for everyone to rank their preferred holidays and make a rule that you can’t take the same holiday two years in a row or something. It’s more work for the boss to figure out who should get which days, but it seems more likely to get an outcome everyone can live with (or at least less likely to get an outcome someone can’t live with).

      1. Senor Montoya*

        the best solution is for everyone to rank their preferred holidays and make a rule that you can’t take the same holiday two years in a row or something.

        It’s not even that much work. I used to do our teaching schedule for 18 – 24 instructors, taking into account first and second choice of days/times/teach all on one day/teach multiple days/seniority/who got stuck with the least desirable slots last year/who had an external teaching partner and what was their schedule. We didn’t have any sort of planning software, I did it with a big calendar and stickies lol. Took me 90 minutes. I was transparent about the process, made sure it was clear how I prioritized, not too much grumbling.

    3. Mae*

      I don’t think that sound very fair, either. If everyone got the same number of tickets maybe, but it sounds like you have to do additional work to earn those tickets when PTO is part of your benefits (for those that get PTO). You should be doing your job anyway, but making people earn tickets by volunteering or participating in events seems unfair.

      1. Jennifer Thneed*

        It sounds to me like the tickets give you access to the desireable days, but it’s the same PTO bucket regardless.

  25. Roscoe*

    #3 I think you are mad at the wrong person here. She is with the rules she is given. For all you know, she may be planning a big trip next Christmas and just wanted to be sure she got the time. Just because she lives local doesn’t mean she can’t make other plans. It doesn’t sound like she is constantly doing this. But if your office lets her submit it 13 months in advance, while it seems excessive, that is your managers call and who you should be upset with. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  26. Delta Delta*

    #2 – With the paper turkeys – I’m also weirded out that praise is meant to be limited to managers. And while I’d normally agree that turkey-based praise ought to be open to everyone, there’s a real chance of people still being excluded. Maybe Jane is ultra-thoughtful and 10 people write nice turkeys to her. Maybe Lucinda is good at her job but isn’t outwardly friendly and she gets 2 turkeys. Then there’s Angus who isn’t any of those things and he gets no turkeys. Then it looks like a popularity contest more than the intent, which is to show thanks.

    Maybe the other way to do it would be for each person to write something for which they are thankful on a turkey and post the turkey. People can choose to say they are turkey-thankful to their benevolent leaders or whatever they choose.

  27. SilverA*

    #4 My previous employer was way late on paying out bonus last year due to new owners and general drama. I pushed off my new offer as long as possible waiting for an earned bonus I was counting on (I do understand the nature of bonus and have been burned before). But, success story, I was able to successfully negotiate 100% of my bonus be paid by my new employer. There were strings (paid out after 90 days, min 18 month commitment, etc). But I was able to leave my job, rather then waiting it out.
    It sounds like your company is more organized, but it doesn’t hurt to use the AAM script and try!

    1. bonus4meplease*

      I generally followed AAM’s script and am waiting to hear back! Curious to hear your experience about how you’ve been burned before in regards to bonus?!

  28. Larina*

    Op #1, Allison is right that you should just leave this be, but I completely understand the frustration. I had a former coworker who was literally fired for being terrible at following instructions and data entry, and his LinkedIn makes it out to be that he was a successful account manager at our company.

    This guy was also a total creep to every woman at our office, and the process of putting him on a PIP was like pulling teeth because he literally couldn’t fix his work. Sometimes I still get mad that he was probably able to leverage what he knew someone else did at our firm to get his next job.

    But he’s out of my life, and there’s nothing I could do that wouldn’t just be cruel. And while he was awful, I don’t think that warrants cruelty. Time will make the insult fade, and you can rest knowing you don’t have to work with him anymore.

  29. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    #1 – why do you and his former teammates care so much that he got this job? Sure it’s crazy, but if he’s not even close to being qualified for it, then he won’t last long. I’ve worked with plenty of people in my past who seem to get every job they apply for (even ones they’re not qualified for) because they’re good at BSing their way into it. I wouldn’t waste one more bit of energy on this idiot. As long as you didn’t lie for him as a reference, wash your hands of him and let it go. And if you’re still in touch with the former teammates of his, you should give them the same advice.

    1. Gulinga the Great*

      I think #1 is jealous that her coworker got on the fast track to a big promotion that it took a decade for her to achieve. That is what this is really about. His LinkedIn may have exaggerated his role but resumes do tend to embellish accomplishments and don’t add caveats that teamwork was involved.

      1. Gaia*

        Embellish or fluff language is really not the same as claiming you did duties that were done by the entire team and duties if someone three levels above you.

        It isn’t jealousy to be scandalized that someone would so blatantly lie. Especially a poor performer.

      2. Tooona*

        Op1 here – It’s really not jealousy, I promise. As I wrote, I’m not in that business sector anymore, I have moved on to bigger, better, and much better-paying opportunities. It’s taking sole credit for other people’s work that galls me, especially his teammates. I’m in a creative field and that sort of thing is really shady. Look, I even encourage a little “embellishment” on the part of my reports for the sake of burnishing their resumes, it’s the only way to move up sometimes. But what this guy did went way beyond embellishment.

        1. Leslie Nielsen*

          That reminds me of a former coworker of mine. He would tell me all about the great things he did at former jobs and how much all his clients and subcontractors just LOVED him. He was never a one-man-show at any of those jobs, but you wouldn’t know it from the way he talked. Plus, he wasn’t great in the role he had in my company! Even if I was annoyed, this situation didn’t rise to level of the your former employee! That one takes the cake.

          Hopefully people start to see through him soon. I’m glad you’ve moved on and up!

      3. Asenath*

        I didn’t read the letter that way. If a resume does “embellish” or “exaggerate” a role, that’s not at all the same thing as not mentioning that the rest of the team also contributed to the development of Gadget MK II. It’s well into the kind of lying and deception I certainly wouldn’t want in a co-worker or employee. I think OP is annoyed that he used her work and reputation in his deceit and, yes, she’s probably more annoyed because as a result that person got a better job than she has. Not jealous, though. The former co-worker is going to crash and burn as soon as his real skills are discovered, and I for one wouldn’t be jealous of someone in that situation. I do think it’s unnecessary to bring the lie to the attention of his employers. They’ll find out soon enough that he can’t do the work. And if OP needs to put her work on Project Gadget on her resume, she can do it, and in the unlikely event anyone thinks she’s the liar, she can provide references. But it sounds like she’s moved on professionally anyway,

      4. Senor Montoya*

        There’s a difference between “exaggerated his role” and “embellish accomplishments” and lied about job title, job duties, and (no doubt) conditions of his separation from the previous job.

        This person is a LIAR.

        I don’t see jealousy here, I see shock at the lying and concern about the damage the liar is likely doing at the new job.

        But that doesn’t mean LW1 should get involved unless there is real harm to people’s lives, such as pretending to be a doctor or, as Alison says, tank driver.

        1. Inspector Betrand*

          I don’t see anything in the letter that says he lied about a job title — only that he exaggerated his responsibilities and tool credit for team accomplishments. I can see the point above — most resume accomplishments are really the result of collaboration by multiple people, not lone wolf accomplishments.

          I also don’t see anything about forged credentials (e.g., claiming to hold a medical license).

          We have no idea whether the guy is going to crash and burn at his new job. He might rise to the occasion, he might not. None of this is for OP to sort out. OP wasn’t asked to provide a reference or vouch for him.

          And I don’t see why he’s obligated to disclose that he was on a PIP. A job search is a marketing exercise, not a disclosure exercise.

        2. tangerineRose*

          “I see shock at the lying and concern about the damage the liar is likely doing at the new job.” This!

      5. knead me seymour*

        Wow, that’s an uncharitable read! This goes way beyond embellishments–this guy was struggling in a junior role that he eventually got fired from, and claimed that he was working in the senior role and that all of team’s accomplishments were his own. Imagine if you used to manage a problem employee who got fired and then started taking credit for all of the work you and your team did.

    2. starsaphire*

      This can still hurt the former co-workers too, if any of them apply to the same big company (and LW1 is saying it’s a huge company).

      I’ve had it happen to me — a really poor performer from a parallel team with a similar title (Llama Cuddler vs Llama Groomer) jumped to another company as a full-on llama groomer, and a friend at that company later implied that they would never hire anyone from ExJob again because their llama groomers were so awful.

      Small town, small area, not a lot of llama companies. I actually had to move away to find work after getting laid off. No idea if it was this guy’s fault or not, but he sure didn’t help.

  30. Luna*

    #3 — I can see the problem with first come, first serve things… but it *is* a first come, first serve thing. In such a case, why not ask for Christmas off early, and then you can at least be sure that you would, in the case of the option arising, have the time off to go visit family. Or even do other things, if your family cannot get their own time-off for that slot. My only hope here is that your bosses are keeping a tally on who gets Christmas off for what year, just to ensure that one person doesn’t get Christmas off every year, and everyone gets their turn.

    1. Mae*

      LW 3 clarified in a comment that the person who booked 2020 is the same person who has booked this year and last year, so management is not doing a good on that. I agree with you that they should, but they don’t.

  31. Fabulous*

    #1 – Am I the only one who disagrees with #1? Depending on how well they know the new boss, I might err on the side of saying something, especially if they’re anything more than acquaintances. You don’t have to give the full details, but just hint to look closer at the guy.

    Something like, “I saw that you hired Benedict at Llamas, Inc. How’s he doing over there? I was just a little concerned since he was fired for cause and escorted from the building after I’d left. I trust he’s reevaluated his behavior since then, but I wanted to give you a heads up just in case.”

    1. Rugby*

      What purpose would that serve? To get the guy fired? It doesn’t benefit the OP and if he finds out that OP got him fired, he could retaliate. If he went of the rails at his last job, its probably only a matter of time before he does it again. It’s better to just let the situation work itself out.

      1. ChimericalOne*

        It doesn’t benefit OP personally, but it certainly helps out all the folks who would’ve had this jerk for a boss. And I honestly don’t see how he could retaliate, given that OP is out of the industry now (and he wouldn’t necessarily know it was this person vs. that who discovered him).

        1. Fabulous*

          Exactly this ^^^
          Personally, I want to help my friends. Anything I can do that will help them avoid trouble, I’m all over it.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            Yeah, except then he’d have to prove that the OP’s actions were wrongful, which is pretty difficult to do when OP’s actions would consist merely of exposing a significant falsehood.

    2. RC Rascal*

      I think it matters how well you know the new supervisor. I was in this situation once before–I learned a fellow alum/former neighbor/friendly acquaintance we will call Sansa who had hired a former co-worker of mine (Cersei) at her company, NewCo. Cersei had been fired when I worked with her. NewCo had biographies of all employees on their website–when I read it I saw Cersei had claimed experiences and job titles that didn’t exist at the company we had worked at together. Sansa was extremely grateful to get this information and launched an investigation that led to Cersei’s termination. What is relevant is that Sansa owned and founded NewCo, and did so with her and her father’s money. (Later, she had outside investors as well). I would never have called a stranger to alert them of this information. Due to my relationship with Sansa and knowledge of her funding arrangement for NewCo, I felt a responsibility to let her know.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      No don’t do that. If the guy is bad they’ll find out soon enough he’s not up to snuff.
      Anything else makes OP seem petty.

  32. Phoenix Programmer*

    #1 I think you need to take a hard look at your own culture on your team and stop worrying about this other person. According to your letter your team is so obsessed with someone they didn’t like who left their team that they found out what this person’s new role was at the company, looked at his LinkedIn to determine if they agreed with the role, and then looked up his professional website (whatever that is) and are now considering sending him a vague and threatening note! stating “we are on to you”.

    That is a lot of attention and negative energy directed at someone who’s not even on your team anymore. If I were a new member on your team and heard this sort of talk going on I would think I made a huge mistake and start looking to cut my losses.

    1. Tooona*

      Op1 here – I’m trying to keep some of the particulars vague, but this concerns creative work product. That’s why people are so worked up. I managed the full creative process for a portfolio of products, my report handled just the design aspect of one product in that portfolio. That’s why his teammates are so angry, and why I’m ticked off. Taking that degree of credit for other people’s creative work is way out of line.

      1. Phoenix Programmer*

        I agree taking credit for other people’s work is bad but my point is that new hires, network aqaintances, etc. are only going to have your word to go on and this degree of focus looks really bad.

        Probably you and your team are lovely, but to an outsider or new hire hearing all of this focus on someone who left looks bad. You don’t usually look justifiably upset but look unhealthily focused and invested.

        1. ChimericalOne*

          Disagree — it’s not just OP’s word. If OP says something to the new boss, one presumes that they’d do a little investigating, in which case it sounds like there are plenty of people willing to expose this guy for the jerk he is. There’s nothing “unhealthy” about being pissed that someone took credit for your work — esp. when it’s a whole bunch of (creative!) work.

          1. Phoenix Programmer*

            If that’s the case what good is a “We are on to you” note?

            If it’s an industry issue where this one industry would take a plagiarism accusation from former team members then that’s the way to go.

            But in most industries op and team comes off looking worse for wear with these behaviors.

      2. Creative_genius_loser*

        Way out of line! I’ve had this happen to my own work, and I can’t describe how irritated I am to hear that a similar situation is happening somewhere else, and people are actively discussing ways to minimize the social and moral “crimes” being committed by this guy.

        Karma can’t act as well if people who believe in doing the right thing stay quiet!

    2. voyager1*

      Yeah I am sort of in the same boat as this. The former employee has too much space in then LW’s head.

      I also want to point out a lot of jobs work with vulnerable populations. That seems like a pretty low bar for getting involved. I can see getting involved if there is some professional organization or board (like a doctor, lawyer or nurse). But if this job is lying about how good they are at HTML or something. Meh, got better things to worry about.

      1. ChimericalOne*

        Sounds more like this guy is saying he personally designed a very effective advertising campaign (like Coca-Cola’s classic Clydesdale Christmas ads) when he really just sourced the Clydesdales, thereby taking credit for a ton of people’s work. Honestly, I’d be ticked, too — I’d think most people would be.

        1. Senor Montoya*

          Tooona, is this at the level of plagiarism so to speak? in other words, violating known and important ethical and professional values of the industry?

          For instance, if someone got a job as a curriculum director at another school by representing themself as having developed curriculum for our program, when they had been a lecturer with little to no input into the content, then that’s a real serious breach and I personally would follow up. Because in this case it’s a violation of important ethical and professional values AND it potentially harms the reputation of the person who actually did the work.

          If it’s at that level, then I would find a way to follow up.

        2. P peace*

          You seem to miss what Phoenix p was saying. But additionally there are downsides to every field and reasons why sometimes people struggle to succeed in them. The field you are describing can be prone to people taking the wrong credit.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            Phoenix Programmer is talking about the team as if OP is still on it. OP’s not even in the industry anymore, so I don’t think they’re very concerned about what new members of their old team might think about their “attitude” towards this guy. Besides, as I said, I don’t think it seems obsessive (or unusual at all) for someone to Google an old coworker upon hearing that he had a new job and then — upon finding that he took credit for the whole team’s work, way beyond any normal kind of embellishment for the field, OP says — be rather annoyed. While a “we’re on to you” note is, I agree, useless (and a little childish), a heads up to his boss is not.

      2. NYWeasel*

        OP has clarified that this is a creative field, which explains why it is a huge issue.

        In most fields, if Bob exaggerates and says that he managed the entire teapot inventory system, and then gets hired to manage a coffee inventory system, it generally only reflects on him if he can/can’t do the work. Meanwhile, if you apply for work, your resume will be considered independent of his.

        In a creative field, if Bob says he created the entire Teapot marketing campaign when in reality you did, it’s going to muddy the waters for enough people that you’ll have issues being able to use that campaign in your portfolio for years. For example, so many people put the animated video for “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel on their reels, it became a negative, even if the artist had done significant work on it—people assessing the work were like “We see this so much, we can’t tell what anyone did, so if we don’t see anything else besides it, we’ll assume they are exaggerating.” At the studios I worked at, people were not hired or were let go if we discovered they claimed other people’s work as their own.

        1. Tooona*

          Op1 here – you hit the nail on the head. This is taking full credit for a large body of work created by a fully-integrated creative team. While these are giant, global companies, the business sectors in question are fairly small, and crossover between companies is pretty frequent. The employee’s new company was our primary competitor, so his fabrications will likely impact the credibility of our former team as it relates to any opportunities they might have at the new company.

          That said, as irritating as the situation is, I’m still inclined to stay quiet unless asked directly.

          1. ChimericalOne*

            You probably should’ve mentioned in the OP that it was creative work that will impact your old team’s credibility if they were to attempt to get hired at this same (global) company, where this is frequent crossover in this sector — I would think that this would change the answer. (Although perhaps I’m wrong — only Alison can really say.)

            Alison’s answer makes sense if this guy’s behavior is only a problem for his new company, or in fields where no one’s really checking who says they ran the Teapot Division from 2000-2010, but when it comes to large, recognizable creative projects, I don’t think it really makes sense at all to simply shrug at him taking credit for it.


          2. MissDisplaced*

            If creative work is involved, that does change the situation somewhat. Does this rise to the level of absolute plagiarism? If he’s, say, claiming he was the writer or director of a commercial versus merely being a contributor to the finished product, that’s a pretty serious breech. However, can you be certain he claimed that to get hired? Is it very clear-cut he plagiarized the work and have you proof of that?

            I’m just saying, you may not like the person, but it’s a very serious decision to go out of your way to get someone fired when you’re out of that industry. So, it’d better be over a serious breech of conduct. If in any way you’re not 100% positive it’s pure plagiarism, I’d stay out if it. It’s also possible his new company knows darn well the work was a team/department effort and hired him anyway. In which case (?) I guess he got lucky this time.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I also wonder about the possible plagiarism aspect of this knowing it’s a creative field. I’d say that makes me lean more towards reporting ex-employee – but I would say it would probably seem more credible (if it rose to a reporting plagiarism level) coming from the other co-workers that are still in the same industry. I think it honestly is more their reputations on the line than OP1’s.
              (Caveat to that is if OP1 would ever want to get back into the prior field, then possibly looking into it more vigorously wouldn’t be a bad idea just from the standpoint of protecting a reputation and portfolio of work.)

  33. Elena vasquez*

    We had the same situation as #1. We were a bit upset but left it alone as it didn’t affect us and wasn’t any of our business.

  34. Quill*

    #2 “Dear Tom, you really Spurred us to action this quarter and our customers have Flocked to your projects, especially the Caruncle protocol. Few people have the Gizzard to fully Strut their expertise in that area. You’re truly the Baste.

    – Jenny.”

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      “Thanks for helping us beat the Stuffing out of our competition. We’re riding the Gravy train now and Relish your ability to Slice right into the Meat of things. I Yam lucky to have you as a manager.”

  35. I'm A Little Teapot*

    #1 – Honestly, this problem will sort itself out. Either the guy will rise to the occasion and do wonderfully, or he won’t and the whole house of cards will come crashing down. At that point, if your industry is anything like mine, word will spread and he may be blacklisted before he even applies. Just stay out of it. You don’t need to do anything proactive, though if you get a call for reference, then be honest about what work he did for you, etc.

    1. Teapot Polisher*

      I must respectfully disagree! This guy sounds like the exact opposite of someone who will rise to the occasion. He sounds like someone who will lie and scam his way out of any responsibility.

      And even if he gets found out eventually, lots of industries, large and small, don’t handle it well when a wolf appears in the henhouse. People are just too trusting, so people like this end up steamrolling their way through.

      LW#1, don’t stay out of it! Reach out and “let it slip” to the new boss what you know. Think of all the people who have to work with this guy.

      1. Avasarala*

        Yeah how will word spread if OP & team keep quiet? I’d hate to work under this guy knowing he’d been marched out of his old job, his old coworkers knew about it and knew my grandboss and chose to say nothing because it wasn’t their problem.

  36. Phony Genius*

    Reading #2, I started having thoughts that this was either similar to a cult, or similar to practices I’ve heard of in some Asian companies where organized praise of the bosses is encouraged/mandatory. Either way, this is not good.

    (My vision of the paper turkeys is those store-bought ball-shaped paper turkey decorations that usually wear pilgrim hats that you hang from the ceiling.)

    1. OP2*

      Oh sadly, it’s more like full arts and crafts hand turkeys….

      I do make jokes about drinking the company Koolaid, but in reality our company just likes to think they’re a Google. So yeah, cult.

    2. Avasarala*

      What Asian companies are these? Asking from Asia, as I’ve never heard of this–praise is usually given less often in many Asian cultures.

  37. 4Sina*

    I can see why LW1 is so insulted, though. This guy is a crackpot who is just straight up taking credit for their work, so when he goes under, that work will be called into question. From an integrity and reputation standpoint, yeah, I’d be pretty ticked, too.

    1. 1234*

      That’s not necessarily the case. New Job could easily say “Crackpot might’ve been a great employee at Old Job but he’s not a good fit here” and leave it at that.

  38. Pennalynn Lott*

    I’m in a situation similar to #4 right now. New Employer (NE) has told me that they’d like for me to start early January. Current Employer (CE) runs on a fiscal year that ends Jan 31. To be eligible for the bonus, I have to still be employed through Jan 31. I’m pretty sure NE would be OK waiting for me to start on Feb 1.

    The really tricky part, though, is that reviews happen in February and bonuses are paid out in mid-March. I can’t find any documentation about what happens to employees if (1) they leave after Jan 31 but before reviews are done, or (2) the leave after reviews are finalized but before bonus checks are cut.

    Adding to the complexity is that CE changed their bonus payout rules this year to give managers a lot more flexibility in how much they award to each team member. So I could get anywhere from $1000 to $15,000, depending on my VP’s mood the day she allots the bonus money. I’m leaving the company because she is toxic af, so it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if she rated me “Needs Improvement”, gave me a $1000 spiff, and patted herself on the back for being so generous.

    1. Colette*

      It’s likely that they won’t pay out the bonus if you’re not there in mid-March (unless it is a bonus tied to sales or otherwise contractually obligated). So is the bonus worth letting NE go?

  39. Wing Leader*

    My office has first come-first serve for PTO, and I had one coworker that would book a huge vacation at Christmas time at the beginning of every year, so my company changed the policy on that. It’s still first come-first serve, but you cannot take a vacation at the same time that you did last year. So, if you had two weeks off at Christmas last year, then Christmas time is off the table for you and you have to pick a different time so someone else can have a crack at Christmas. We just started this last year so, we’ll see how effective it is.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      You can’t take vacation the same time every year? That’s so…awful. I have people with standing vacation times that aren’t at a time anyone else cares about. We’d have a riot on our hands there! Lots of family tradition kind of trips, annual events very specific to people. That’s a swift turn from one bad to a different bad.

      1. lobsterp0t*

        I interpreted this as being mainly about key holidays but yeah… if you take time at an unpopular time of year, and can’t keep that up, that would be mega frustrating

    2. Tim C.*

      Similar policy here. It is first-come, first serve. However if someone is to be denied time off, it will be the person who had that same time off last year. Our PTO can not be scheduled more than 1 year in advance. Some on staff will wait up and press the “submit” at 12:00 midnight.

  40. Lauren*

    #3 – Ok, let me get this straight. Even if you didn’t have first come, first serve – only 1 person can be out at a time. That means employee #6 and #7 are waiting 6 and 7 YEARS until their turn for Christmas off? That is ridiculous in this day and age. No one* stays at their job that long anymore, and this 1 at a time thing needs to be thought out again. Maybe do a split of 4 on / 4 off for holidays (if there are only 7 employees then the manager needs to step up and be part of the team covering to make this equitable).

    * – Please don’t ‘not all’ my comment. That isn’t helpful to ANY thread.

    1. Colette*

      It really depends on the industry and business – if the business legitimately needs 6 people to be there, that’s what it means. It may also mean that they need 0 people there on Christmas when they’re closed, but they need 6 people there the day before and after. But as long as that is clear when they’re hiring, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it.

      1. Lauren*

        No, and its possible most people accept thinking they won’t be there long enough to be penalized for too long. It just one of those things that make people quit though IF there isn’t a real business need for it (e.g. hospital / public safety). My assumption was standard office environment when reading #3.

        1. Joielle*

          I left my last job because of this! There was a crunch time that meant I could never, ever be out of the office at a particular time of the year. It was tied to a business need, and there was good flexibility at other times of the year, but it just wasn’t worth it to me to never be able to take a vacation at that time of year (which was usually 4-5 months, with 1-2 months before where taking vacation was hard but not impossible). Looking back, I’m honestly mad at myself that I stayed at that job as long as I did. It wasn’t worth it.

      2. Luna*

        One of the hotels I worked at told us we cannot take vacation time during the Oktoberfest or Christmas. On the one hand, I understand that because those are high seasons in hotels, especially this one being big and a budget one. On the other hand, I do find that insulting. Personally, I don’t care if I have to work on Dec 24th, when Germans celebrate Christmas, because my American household celebrates on the 25th. But I still found it off.

    2. Jedi Squirrel*

      I work with people who have been on the job for 15 or 20 years. It’s not uncommon in my field. But how long someone stays in the job is not the issue. The issue is that the same person could keep getting Christmas off year after year because management has created a system that allows that. Management needs to change their system.

  41. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    The only time we sit on PTO requests is when it’s a holiday. I’ve had people request next Christmas the day after returning from the current one. We let them know due to the rush we have to wait and see who else asks to figure it out. We take into account previous holidays taken and to an extent seniority. This first cone first serve shhht is for the lazy conflict avoidant management.

    I don’t fault your coworker a bit. Gaming an unfair system is what it is.

    Take Christmas off next time. And even if you can’t see your family, enjoy your day. They aren’t thinking of you when they’re snatching holidays. Stop being so thoughtful of them. Play the game you’re dealt if they refuse to budge on the dumb system.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*


        Seriously. This is like if your boat is leaking and you keep bailing it out then pointing it out, people go “No it’s fine, there’s no water in here…what leak?” Without a clear problem to solve, many will assume it’s not actually an issue worth visiting.

        Show them the water before you bail it out “See. This is leaky, how do we fix it?”

        Go and put in a request for the next 10 Christmas and 10 Thanksgivings and be all “well first come first serve…”

        It’s like how they had to stop the madness of people camping outside on black Friday sales. So they hand out tickets as people arrive so they can go home and stop sleeping on the GD streets. There are ways to handle things and it means changing and adapting!

  42. chickaletta*

    #3 – My former department only let one or two people off at a time as well, which created conflicts not just for Christmas and New Year’s but also any long holiday weekend throughout the year. Those of us with kids had to manage it even more (and don’t get me started on the grandmothers of the group who snatched up all the school holidays to take care of their grandkids, leaving the employees who were actual parents to find someone to watch their children on random school holidays like MLK. Sure, it’s their prerogative, but it caused a few eye rolls).

    Anyhow, this is how my manager finally fixed the problem:
    The team agreed to a lottery system for PTO. If you wanted a certain major holiday (identified ahead of time: spring break, easter, fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc…), you put in a request by 6 months before the holiday. 6 months before the holiday, the manager drew a name out of a hat and that person got the PTO. Once someone gets the holiday PTO, they cannot request any other holiday PTO for 12 months unless nobody else wants it. The group decided that 6 months out was fair because that gave people time to book plane tickets at a reasonable price and make plans with other friends and family if needed. Exceptions were made if something was really important, say you find out in October that your daughter is getting married on Dec 31 and someone already took PTO that day, our manager would still let you off because not to would be cruel. Our manager also encouraged the group to communicate and work with each other, so if someone already took PTO on a day you really need, she encouraged you to talk to the other person to see if they’d be willing to trade or something. Sometimes people could, sometimes they couldn’t. Most people got along and this system worked out fairly well given the circumstances.

  43. Todd*

    #4. The OP could also add on to the phrase “Delaying start date till the first of the year would add the benefit of simplifying taxes for both employer and employee since they wouldn’t have to do payroll taxes etc for a previous year when its only a week or two”.

    1. bonus4meplease*

      OP4 here – this is great advice! Unfortunately, I sent the email before reading this comment. Definitely good to know if this timing ever happens again in my career.

  44. Xandria*

    Letter #5. I have a similar resume, I work freelance and have for the last 7 years, which translates to a LOT of short gigs.

    I have it all under one ‘Stage Manager – Freelance’ section, and then I have a second page that I’ll submit that has the specifics of each job when I’m applying to something relevant (like another SM job where I know they really just want the list of people I’ve worked with), or if someone requests it. That second page isn’t a CV, it’s just as curated a my resume, I don’t list the one off day gigs, or the show I did in 2009 with a nobody name, but is still designed to grab peoples attention.

    It works well for me! Hopefully helpful to you!

  45. lobsterp0t*

    LW3, your coworker sounds like a turd. (Having read the follow up comments).

    I have a bit of TOIL to take and I’ve booked it for the week before our Christmas shutdown, but I’ve also made it really clear to the scheduling manager that if she’s stuck for staff in that week (maybe because others have tried to do the same) I’m flexible about it. It’s a weird balance between it being our busy time and also having to take it back by a certain date. But like, I wouldn’t be a smug asshole about it, or silently try to race others to the punch.

  46. CaptainCaveMan*

    RE #3 – As what Alison said, the issue isn’t that they booked it way in advance (hey…they might have a once in a lifetime event that they cannot miss) but that your company’s policy doesn’t allow more than one person to take time off. I understand that you are frustrated at not having a vacation booking window that prevents people from snagging certain dates way in advance that directly impact people like you, who do not have long range vacation scheduling. But stopping planners from planning reverses the issue and prevents them from living their lives in favor of letting you live yours. I’m not judging you for not being able to plan in advance, please don’t think that. Some people have lives where stuff is set up far ahead of time, others lives have a more compact “plan activity-do activity” set-up. Good companies won’t put policies that harshly restrict people’s ability to use their earned compensation and not allowing vacations to be booked further than 6 months (as an example) could be reasonably harsh. It’s better for a company to allow people to manage their lives and schedules and come up with a solution (including anticipating an issue and having a good solution waiting on the wings).

    Because you mentioned that you work in a critical function- I’m not even going to attempt to suggest that your company alter their policy to be more flexible or that your manager set up some kind of hybrid system that allows more than one person to be on vacation- they probably have an excellent reason for the, “We must be at 100% capability all the time or people will suffer if we fail them”. But is there a way to add extra resources to the staffing team…a contract position that can come in on holidays and/or peak season (if you have seasonality)? An added bonus to this is that if someone gets sick (or quits), you have a trained “pinch hitter” ready. Or can they allow a person to be on vacation and have a second person be on a “on vacation/on-call” where they can come in if something happens situation? I know that on December 26th, I am usually “off” but if my work called, I could easily come on for a few hours (or maybe conference in?). Same goes with Black Friday and New Years Day.

  47. BeeGee*

    LW #3 I feel for you, and I agree that hopefully you are able to work out a process that is a little more fair for everyone. At the same time, you might want to consider going to work at a larger company. I worked for two small companies, so I completely understand the frustration when there are limits to how many people could take off. Often as a junior worker without kids, I would be unable to take off or I would be guilted into working around major holidays. Plus part of my role included daily tasks which only one or two people were trained to do in my absence (and due to the industry, we had to have someone be able to complete these vital tasks during work hours). This is part of the reason I am looking to work for a larger firm, so that I don’t have to battle with these conflicts.

    But as another suggestion, as a childless and more junior employee (not sure if you are as well), if I couldn’t get days around Christmas or thanksgiving off, I could often negotiate getting days leading up to and after New Years Eve/Day, with it being more of a “younger person” celebration, especially if I could make the case to sacrifice prime Christmas PTO days so that a more senior member could spend time with family and children.

    Along the same note, maybe you can suggest limitations on taking PTO around major holidays? i.e. a person cannot take more than a week off (5 PTO days) in December so that at least two people can split the Christmas/New Year time block?

  48. Stevie J*

    For #3, we don’t allow any of our employees to request the major winter holidays off. If I receive one at any point, I just automatically decline it (now hold on…I’m not saying they don’t get holidays off. Hang in there with me.) At the end of September, we give everyone a ranking sheet with the five winter holidays listed on it (Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Day, New Year’s Eve & Day). They’re tasked with ranking each holiday as a 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, 4th choice, & 5th choice. We promise everyone will receive at least 2 of the 5 holidays off with the understanding that you may or may not receive your most preferred holidays off.
    It’s been pretty smooth since I started using this method as I’ve been able to accommodate everyone’s #1 request. The second request may or may not be that person’s #2 preference. But either way, each person received 2 holidays. So far it seems to work well. Of course I say that now and inevitably next year everyone will list one holiday as their #1 preference. But let’s hope that doesn’t happen!

  49. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    The link for LW3 reminded me that I wanted to ask for an update on the second linked letter (

    As far as advice, I’d definitely use some of the strategies mentioned in the other letters and you might look into a weighted seniority thing. Not total seniority because you don’t want the same people getting all of the holiday picks every year, but maybe a weight towards the more senior employees if they’ve not had that particular holiday off in X amount of time.

    I’m thinking of something I read (can’t remember where) where they had a rotation and some people would just quit before they had to work a holiday they didn’t want to, leaving the others holding the bag. Hopefully weighting it somehow would still give newcomers a chance to have some days off without penalizing the other staff if the turnover in the shorter-term staff is too high.

  50. LilySparrow*

    #5, if you have one or two long-term roles with their own titles at publications that are well-known locally or in a specific industry, I sometimes see that called out separately as line items above the general listing. Such as:

    Science Columnist (freelance), Metro Tribune, 2017-current.
    Provide regular weekly commentary on medical, environmental, and other science-related topics in the news.

    “Freelance Writer” with listings of less-relevant clients.

    1. LW 5*

      This is helpful, thank you! I think this is also good to keep in mind if I want to highlight specific recurring work for future job applications, like part-time copywriting, news writing, etc.

  51. BananaSalamander*

    I worked at a company with a similar “first come, first served” and only one person off per holiday policy, and no limits on how far out you could ask. So I reserved the next 20 Christmases off and made sure my coworkers knew it. That made them upset enough about how easily the policy could be misused that we banded together to force management to come up with some kind of rotation based on people’s priorities. I happily relinquished all the Christmases so they could go to whoever got them in a more fair division system.

    (And I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I actually ended up working all of them until I left that company. I just wanted to do something to galvanize the team into moving on a “this is how it’s always been” issue. They all really appreciated it afterward.)

  52. Shadowbelle*

    Jiminy, #2. Paper-freakin’-turkeys? That is the most juvenile thing I have ever heard of a company doing, and I work for a company that lets the admins put up cutesy posters announcing all the birthdays for the month.

    Where have all the grownups gone?
    Long time passing!
    Where have all the grownups gone?
    Long time ago.
    Where have all the grownups gone?
    Regressed to grade school, every one!
    When will they ever learn?
    When will they ever learn?

  53. official_office_mouse*

    LW1, please act to get this former co-worker fired!

    Without going into a long story, I worked with someone exactly like this in my first job out of college. He had started after me, but it didn’t take very many years for him to lie his way into a position far above mine. Suffice it to say, karma did not punish him!

    Please do us all a favour and let his boss know, since you know him. We have all been in the same position as those new co-workers of his, who will have to wait a year or two for him to get found out and fired. Save everyone some grief.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      This really isn’t OPs concern unless the manager contacts her. Unfortunate for his coworkers maybe that the company didn’t reference check.

    2. curiouserann*

      I might be in this situation now, with a boss that has made exaggerated claims about prior roles and contributions on past projects. A number of former coworkers of new boss have told me they think new boss is a sociopath. Yet, no one has done any of this on the record, because they want to be professional. I will suffer until new boss gets fired, new boss will use their current position to scam indefinitely at the expense of the institution, or I will jump ship ASAP.

      1. curiouserann*

        I guess I’m saying that I wish more people would figure the long-term collateral damage that comes with enabling cheats and liars into the personal cost-benefit framework. Allison said to say something if there’s a real risk to the public, but I don’t think the bar should be quite that high when deciding when and how to say something.

  54. Ck*

    Lw#4 – I’ve done this exact thing twice – once pushing the start date back about 4 months, and the next one by 3 months (this one via a recruiter). Start dates can be negotiated.

  55. Ico*

    I’m always surprised by the advice given to people like LW #1 to just “stay out of it”. When I’m in a situation where I have information that:
    – I know is truthful
    – I’m under no bond to keep confidential
    – the other party would very much like to know because it materially affects them
    why would I sit on it? It would be a kindness to his new employer to share what you know.

  56. OTRex*

    Re: #2, is your office a respectable business or an elementary school? I would never in a million years decorate a paper turkey for anyone at work except as joke.

    1. OP2*

      Respectable business. Like, Many Employees, Top of Our Industry, Business. That has nothing to do with children. (Except the children we hire…)

  57. OP2*

    OP2 here:

    Just a fun update for everyone: one of the coworkers (individual contributor, not manager) just came around saying these are due today and people need to fill them out and turn them in. Ah, so very “Optional.”

    And yes, we’re talking full on hand turkeys here. I can assure you it’s even better than you imagine.

  58. Princess Shrek*

    Oooooo, OP1, I feel ya! I have had several problem employees go on to bigger and better things that they absolutely were not qualified for. I’ll share one story.

    Sara was my direct report for over 2 years and did little to no work during that time. The entire time I suspected that she was having inappropriate relationships with clients and this was confirmed about a month before she left, when she showed up to an off-site conference hosted by the company and shared a hotel room with a top executive (no, she was not fired). Unsurprisingly, nothing was done by management. Sarah quit when she got a similar, but much better paying, job in a different industry. She was fired after about 6 months. Now she’s back to our industry and has a senior level position. She’s been there for less than a year.

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