do I have to share my extra shifts, playing a video of my boss while I work, and more

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

1. Do I have to share my extra shifts with coworkers who want some?

One department at my job is currently understaffed. In order to help, we have been offered overtime shifts that are premium over usual overtime. Several employees across several departments were asked if they were interested, and a few weeks later we were all offered these shifts at the same time (in the same group email). I was the second person to respond and I signed up for as many as fit into my schedule.

Now people who signed up late are complaining and are asking those of us with more to give them shifts to “share the wealth.” I think since we were sent first-come first-served with no stated limits, it wasn’t wrong of me to take more shifts and I don’t want to give any up. If it matters, none of the people asking for a switch are in my direct department and I have never (and probably will never) interact with them, so I’m not worried about it directly affecting my social-job situation. What do you think?

It would be both polite and kind to share some of the shifts. It’s pretty unfair that the first person who happened to see the email was able to take a disproportionate share of something many others would clearly like too. It’s sort of like taking all the brownies someone left for people in the kitchen because you just happened to get there first — but with more weight, because this involves pay.

It doesn’t sound like your employer plans to get involved, so you can hold on to all those shifts if you want to. But I’d be wary of assuming it will never come back to hinder you in some way. People get transferred, people get promoted, people show up in ways that you don’t anticipate. If you’re seen as the person who took way more than your share of something and refused to give any up, that can linger and make people less likely to help you out when they have an opportunity to make your life either easier or harder.

2. Is it OK to play a video of my boss while I work?

Recently I googled my boss to find a academic citation and the search results included a YouTube video. I clicked out of fascination and found a smartly edited talk he’d given. Since then, when I need to focus on a project I’ve been putting this video on. Back before we all started working from home, his voice was the office background, he’s a very chatty person, and hearing him talk helps put me in a work frame of mind. I certainly don’t plan on telling him or any coworkers about the video even though I doubt he’d mind his employees watching it (he’s been very open about his social media presence). It feels strange to keep looping it but it’s helping me get way more work done. Should I go back to trying other focus aids or is this a bit strange but ultimately harmless?

This is kind of sweet! You’re just recreating a bit of your office environment at home, and it’s actually really nice that your boss’s voice helps you focus rather than setting you on edge, as it would be with some managers.

I agree that I wouldn’t mention to people that you’re using it that way (it’s one of those things that’s harmless but could come across strangely in the telling), but there’s nothing wrong with continuing to do it if it helps you.

3. My company wants a resignation letter because I’m being promoted

I am writing because I was recently promoted within my current team after being in my position for about a year. I will have the same manager, same coworkers, slightly more responsibility, and more importantly, a higher salary. However, the essential functions of my job are staying the same — this is essentially just a raise! In the promotion process, I had to complete an online application and two interviews, even though I was verbally offered the position beforehand. It seemed a little bureaucratic, but I understood due to rules on internal promotions. I’ve now received an official offer letter.

However, now, my manager has asked me to submit a resignation letter from my former position. This seems so weird to me and everyone that I have brought it up with looks skeptical. Is this strange? What do I even begin to write in this letter? I asked my manager for guidance and she did not have any, except to say that they need it on file to process the promotion.

That’s extremely odd. You don’t typically formally resign from a position when you’re being promoted, and I’d be uneasy having a resignation letter on file. It’s probably fine (unless your company is really shady), but my worry would be that something goes wrong and you end up needing to collect unemployment and the company uses the letter to block that (since you generally can’t get unemployment if you resign). That would require them to be truly awful, of course, so unless you have reason to think they are, this is probably just a weird bureaucratic oddity … but I’d still be uneasy.

If I were you, I’d write it in a way that’s crystal clear about the situation. For example: “Thank you for promoting me to the X role with (company)! This letter is to confirm that upon beginning the new role, I will be moving from my position as Y into a position as X, while remaining in the Z department.” So it’s clear you’re not quitting the company and it can’t be spun that way.

And if they push, say, “I’m not comfortable saying I’m resigning when I’m not, but I’m happy to confirm that I’m accepting the promotion and leaving the old role for the new one.” If that’s not enough, check in with HR; it’s possible your manager has misunderstood the requirement in some way.

4. Can employer restrict what kinds of masks we wear when we’re off-duty but still on the premises?

I work at a world-famous medical center in the U.S. that is known for its strict and conservative dress code (for example, all outpatient providers must wear business formal suits but no brown suits because brown is unprofessional, and there are several pages of guidance in the dress code as to what constitutes an appropriate tie).

Since Covid hit, we are required to wear a personally-provided cloth mask (not a medical-grade mask, even if we bought it ourself elsewhere, to avoid the appearance that we are using hospital-provided masks for our own personal use) from the moment we exit our car until we arrive at our work area, at which time we switch to a medical-grade mask provided by the hospital. Makes sense, and I’m not questioning the fact that we have to wear masks for this time.

Initially, the rule was that, due to lack of supply of cloth masks, any mask would be acceptable, but now that masks are more available, the dress code has been updated to regulate the appearance of our personal masks. Some of the rules are reasonable: no offensive or obscene patterns or words. Others are not: only subtle patterns and muted colors, no sports teams. This is an employer that routinely takes disciplinary action for dress code violations and has taken action against employees for conduct outside of work.

For a non-exempt employee, can the employer dictate the appearance of a personally-provided mask while the employee is off the clock walking to and from their vehicle (technically company property)? Does this change if the employee is exempt? A lot of us have spent a decent amount of time and/or money on cloth masks and are not looking forward to having to make or buy more.

Yes, they can indeed mandate those restrictions while you’re on their property. It’s awfully heavy-handed but they can do it (at least in most states; it’s possible there’s some state exception I don’t know about — although if they’re legally disciplining you for off-duty conduct, your state probably isn’t an exception). That doesn’t change whether you’re exempt or non-exempt.

The thinking behind rules that govern what you do when you’re off-duty but on your company’s premises is that you’re still representing the company; customers (or in this case patients) may recognize you as an employee and not necessarily know you’re off-duty. But it’s unlikely that anyone is going to be scandalized by a bright color or a Patriots mask. My guess is that they don’t feel like arguing the fine points of what is and isn’t okay so they’re choosing instead to just lay down really broad rules and in the process being too heavy-handed.

5. Is Covid a good reason for explaining why I want to change roles?

I have been in customer service positions at a bank for around 25 years. For several years I have been kicking around applying for a back office position that I believe I would be well suited. A position was posted today.

Most days I love my current position, but Covid has really changed things. My husband is very high-risk and, although my state has had a mask mandate for months and we are expected to enforce it, at least half the customers come in with their noses exposed. Others try to enter without masks or take them off inside. I am totally worn out from trying to enforce the mandate, both because I desperately want to avoid the virus and because my employer can be fined for not enforcing it.

Is it acceptable to use that as a reason to apply to a back office job? Or should I come up with another reason? I truly have considered it for years. It just seems this is the kick in the butt I need to actually do it.

It’s a great reason to apply for the job, but it’s not the reason you should give them when you do. They want to hire someone who’s excited about the work itself, not someone who mostly wants to get away from something else.

You said you’ve been thinking about applying for this role for several years. If you’d applied a year ago, what would have been the draw? That’s what you should talk about now too.

{ 354 comments… read them below }

  1. CW*

    OP3 – I agree it’s odd. You are not resigning; you are still employed by the company but you are now at a higher position. So word it the way Alison said. Hopefully they don’t push back.

    BTW, congrats on your promotion!

    1. Artemesia*

      that one had my spidey senses tingling. I would definitely go with Alison’s wording — lay out what is happening, do not ‘resign’. I suspect someone is confused and wrong; I doubt if this is what actually has been done in this business in the past.

    2. damfino*

      I’d be concerned that the company now considers the person a ‘new hire’, with all benefits going back to zero. How does the ‘resignation’ impact PTO accrual, health care coverage, 401K vesting, etc.?

        1. Mookie*


          Unless the LW is operating under a contract, which I think they would have mentioned.

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Fourthed (if that’s a word). My first thought was “what happens to OP’s seniority? Does her PTO roll back to what a new hire gets?”

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Oh, I hadn’t even thought of that, but this is a valid concern. OP, instead of writing the letter, I’d actually request a meeting with HR. Let them know what your boss has asked you to do and ask them for clarification, and see if it seems like they’re going to roll back any of the seniority you’ve accrued in your time with the company.

      2. beach read*

        This! I didn’t stop to read on before posting, maybe this concern was addressed but this is a big red flag to resolve before resigning, even if it is just on paper. There are rules beyond the company itself that may come in to play with things like retirement, healthcare, etc…the wrong ”button” gets pushed and you could possibly have a problem on your hands. Also, Congrats on your promotion.

    3. Researchalatorlady*

      I had to submit a resignation letter to be promoted at my large university. Human Resources just required it to “close out” my employment in the first position on the books (so that they had a reason – I resigned – as I wasn’t laid off, fired, et cetera) so that they could initiate my employment in the second position. It makes sense in a strange bureaucratic way. I asked around and it was known to be common practice so I wrote a letter that said something like “In order to accept the offer of the position of X, I will be resigning as Y effective as of Date” and it was fine.

      1. J*

        This is also apparently standard procedure where I now work (non-profit), whereby HR needs the resignation letter on file to trigger recruitment to the position that is becoming vacant. I imagine to some extent this is linked to donor requirements and the need to exhaustively account for spending against every single budget line!

      2. SweetestCin*

        Same, but again, large university, and in a completely not-education-related department. I had to submit a resignation letter to close out the first position so that they could re-post it, as well as be eligible for the new position as I hadn’t been fired or demoted. I was coached that the letter was to read similar to what you said Researchalatorlady.

        Granted, I was going from an entry level position that had a firm timeframe and NO benefits whatsoever to an actual full-time position WITH benefits, so I’m not sure how that would play into things. The entry-level position was a known quantity, as it was for 11.5 months, 40 hours a week, and listed no benefits. The university considered it a separate job, but at the same time, if an outside employer were to call to confirm when I was at the university, they’d simply reply with the earliest hire date in the list.

      3. snowglobe*

        That still doesn’t really make sense, as when they are designing their system, they could easily include “internal transfer” (which would cover promotions as well as lateral moves) as an option. The fact that the only options to close out a position are laid off/fired/resigned, is the organization’s choice, not something that they have no power to change.

        1. EPLawyer*

          Exactly. Just because “the system” requires it doesn’t mean it makes sense. So “the system” runs things instead of people? Did Skynet take over?

          1. Captain Kirk*

            Well, the Peter Principle (the book) does talk about a subclass of people whose sole function is to maintain the bureaucracy, even when its requirements fly in the face of reality and common sense. Also witness a comment on this website where a married couple who worked for the same company and was going on a business trip together was told they couldn’t share a room because the company had a “no mixed-gender cohabitation” policy.

        2. Emilia Bedelia*

          As someone who works on such “system” projects:

          It is really not that easy. An update like that, which seems straightforward…. is not. If they are working with only out of the box software or if they don’t have a dedicated IT department that can make system updates like that, they might not have that option.

          If the decision is between “hire IT company for potentially expensive system update” vs “we have to do this weird step for the 1 person every year who gets promoted”, it might just make more sense to use the workaround. People underestimate how difficult, expensive, and time consuming it is to make changes to a computer system (and ironically, the worse the system is designed in the first place, the more annoying it is to change later).

          1. Quill*

            Yeah, once you bring in a computer, you accumulate workarounds and human error and imperfect understanding of the context… and they fossilize.

          2. Lynn*

            To second your point — I think a lot of companies that have been around a while (like most universities) have some very old tech; an update that might be easy or standard in a new platform could be very cumbersome in an old one.

            As an interesting aside to this — recently New Jersey had to ask for volunteers to work on its unemployment systems, because it’s a 61 year old coding language that most modern developers aren’t familiar with

            1. Dancing Otter*

              Good grief, COBOL programmers were coming out of retirement to work on Y2K! How many can be left who still have all their previous skills?

            2. TardyTardis*

              XKCD had a cartoon recently on all the digital superstructure we now have today depending on a brace which is a system maintained by someone in Nebraska for several decades…

          3. Anon, obvs.*

            …but asking people to resign when they are promoted is not normal, most “systems” do *not* require this, employers that do are going out of their way to chose systems that require it. Maybe a workaround for a terrible system is expensive—so let’s not buy such systems to begin with. “Oh well, the system requires entries to be made in Braille, and it’d just be too expensive to fix, so…” really isn’t a good way to run a business.

            I echo the concerns that this could come back to bite the OP not just regarding unemployment but also other benefits such as vacation time, retirement plan vesting, and health insurance.

            Don’t rely on verbal assurances that this is “just routine” or dissuaded by indignation that you would even SUGGEST that your benefits might be affected. They are asking for a resignation letter, you have a right to know what that does and does not affect re: your benefits, etc. Get it in writing, and make sure you save it.

            I worked for a large company that went through multiple buyouts, mergers, etc over the years.
            When I was laid off, the company tried to use incorrect dates for paying out the pension, unused vacation time, etc. fortunately I had saved all the relevant documentation or I would have been screwed out of at least 20k altogether.

          4. ALK*

            “The system” might require a document attachment on change of status, but there’s no way “the system” has an AI powerful enough to read the document and make a unilateral and incontrovertible decision on whether or not the document fulfills the legal requirements of a letter of resignation. The employer could simply upload an “internal hire” document if they wanted to – heck, the employer could upload a cake recipe – and “the system” would never know. The employer is asking for a resignation letter – and actually reading it to ensure it’s a legally valid resignation letter – solely because the employer wants a legally valid resignation letter.

            And even if the AI actually analyzed these letters and had unimpeachable authority to determine whether or not they were valid, what happens when someone *actually* resigns, but not in writing? Does “the system” continue paying them in perpetuity? Or, perhaps, when it benefits the employer, “the system” is easily bypassed?

        3. CB*

          Also work at a mid-size university, and we have a combination of the things mentioned in this thread. For a promotion within the *same department*, there is no letter/paperwork required from the employee. For an internal transfer to a different department, a resignation letter is required and is typically worded that the departure is “to accept another position at X University”.

          In our employee portal (connected to the back-end HR systems), we can see our position history with brief notes about each change. For example, a former position might have a note of “promo outside of department”, also reflecting the start and end date for each position. However, our benefits and employment verification system also track a “seniority date” (the first day you ever started working at the university).

        4. Yorick*

          Well, maybe back when it was created the IT person thought they didn’t need that, so didn’t put that option in despite being asked to, and now since they’ll have to use that same system for 10 more years they have to find a way to fit that situation in. This happens in my job, and we have like a 5 year lag on change requests.

      4. LW3*

        OP3 here. This is exactly my situation- I work for a small team within a large university and was told this is now a requirement in order to post my old position. We are also now working with new HR software that no one seems to understand. I essentially submitted what Allison said and made it very clear that I was only resigning in order to accept the promotion within the same team, but based on other comments, am now scared about unemployment/loss of benefits! I do trust my manager, who has assured me she will verify the solidity of the promotion (for which I already accepted the offer letter in the new weird HR system) before submitting the resignation, but now I’m wondering if that was a bad idea. For context, this is only about my third step up the corporate ladder and first promotion from this university, so I am fairly young and early in my career. I also am intending on going back to school within the next few years and eventually leaving this job and field (which my team is aware of). Benefits being reduced to new hire levels would not be the end of the world for me, especially considering the drastically higher salary in this new position, but still wouldn’t be great. Is there anyone with legal experience who can sort out where submitting this letter makes me vulnerable (with the knowledge that now, I’ve already submitted it!)

    4. Amethystmoon*

      That is kind of a red flag, or at least, an orange flag. I would ask HR first before doing it.

    5. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      It made my spider sense tingle. The only way I could see that slightly possible is if OP3 was working through an outsurcing company/agency and now is being “converted” to a proper employee.

    6. IrishMN*

      I was thinking it might also be good to start it out like, “Dear [Manager], per your request I am submitting this letter to confirm…” – just so that in the future if someone comes across it, it will be clear that the LW didn’t choose to do this weird thing of their own accord.

  2. CastIrony*

    Can someone explain the first letter to me? I understand that the extra shifts include extra pay on top of the regular overtime pay, but why would people who signed later be so upset?

    1. Blarg*

      Email goes out: these ten overtime shifts are available in the next month.

      OP signs up for 8 of them before most people have seen the email. OP gets 8 shifts of OT and most people don’t get any.

      1. Clewgarnet*

        My old employer would regularly have more work than could be done in the standard day, so there was almost always paid overtime available. Some staff worked 7am-3pm and others 10am-6pm. The ones who finished at 3pm used to snap up all the overtime because they were available to do it sooner.

        The 7am shift was the most desired anyway*, so throw in the additional overtime, and it caused a lot of bad feeling and friction within the team.

        Our manager eventually implemented a rule that overtime could only be worked after 6pm.

        * Our office was all hotdesking, without enough desks. People working the 10am shift would have real trouble finding somewhere to sit.

        1. Anon, obvs.*

          I worked at a call center somewhat like this, except the shifts were more extreme, running from 8am to 10pm. Early shifts were more desirable and so got more experienced employees, and almost all the managers of course scheduled themselves early. So after 5 or 6pm the level of experience really dropped off, and when irate callers asked for managers to speak to, there were few or none available. After 8pm was really amateur hour. It was a really crappy way to run the business, very demoralizing for the frontline workers who were really given a strong message that “We. Do. Not. Care” from the management. Typical call center turnover, I suppose.

      2. Spero*

        If the OP took 80% of the available shifts, I could see the point. However she says she was the second to respond so that first person must have taken some too (and technically, in the second round of requests after the first in person ask didn’t get enough takers). OP also says ‘those of us with more’ which implies others also have similar numbers of extra shifts to her own. If she took less than half the available shifts I don’t think they have a leg to stand on (ex, there were 40 extra shifts and she and 3 others each took 10, leaving 10 to be divided between the remaining staff).

        1. Blue*

          I read the letter as first they asked for who would be interested in working these shifts, then sent all those people an email. But there was only the one chance to actually claim shifts.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          But the first person may only have taken a couple of shifts rather than as many as s/he could fit in, and thus not caused hard feelings.

          This could have been avoided if the company had said, “If you’re interested, reply by X time and Y date” and then parsed the shifts out among everyone who replied.

          1. Alucius*

            Or simply say, “sign up for a a maximum of two (or whatever) so that everyone that wants to work the overtime has a chance.” If after 2-3 days there are still shifts left, those who want more can claim them.

      3. abcd*

        Playing devil’s advocate here, but what if the coworkers just don’t read their emails in an appropriate timeframe? I recall a situation where a manager sent an email to 20 people in her department and 2 people my department. She asked people to email her back to confirm they read the email. The only people that responded worked in my department. Not one of her own employees read the email. I get that it’s a training and management issue to insure people read their emails, but sometimes, people just don’t. Or they only look for what they deem important. Its possible the people complaining about losing OT opportunities didn’t read the email until after hearing people talk about it later or getting an email that said all OT was covered. Would you still advise the OP to give OT days to others who simply chose not to be “on their game” so to speak?

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          We only have what the OP has said in the email. OP replied second, it is logical to assume that at least some of the shafted coworkers also replied in what would be considered a reasonable time frame.

          If the OP was saying they got the most desirable three slots because they responded first or second, I would say that that is the reward for paying attention. They are saying they took a disproportionately large number of the slots, disproportionate to the point that some people got none. In this case, I would say give up a few of the shifts that are least desirable to you. You don’t HAVE to, but there is no need to be selfish here, either. Just because something won’t directly harm you doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea to do it just in the name of being a decent, team-player coworker.

          Really, management screwed this up. They should have said “OK, folks, 8 of you want OT, there are 20 shifts. Here’s the calendar, first come, first pick on two shifts. Any slots left tomorrow at noon are up for grabs to anyone who already has two.” instead of creating this free-for-all situation that was pretty much destined to cause resentment.

    2. Artemesia*

      they want the money? I would be really annoyed at my peers if the opportunity for extra money was snapped up by the people who first saw the email and I lost out because I was working and didn’t see it immediately. This is one that reeks of karma trap. If you were my peer who gommed onto all the extra pay opportunities leaving me out, it would be a cold day in hell before I did you any favors, recommended you for anything, covered your shift in a pinch or gave you a cupcake.

      It is also terrible management to allocate something like this only on FCFS. It is like letting someone who jumps on line at 12:01 on January 1 and signs up for vacation days on all the holidays for the year, leaving others to work Thanksgiving and Christmas. etc.

      1. Dan*

        “It is like letting someone who jumps on line at 12:01 on January 1 and signs up for vacation days on all the holidays for the year”

        I had a job similar to, but not exactly like that. This was a seniority driven position (non-union at my company, but commonly union at other places). Vacation bids were due the 15th of the month prior to the month in which you wanted to take the time off, and bids were awarded in seniority order. The truly sucky thing was that many of us were hourly part-time, and there was no actual rule that said you had to deduct the vacation on your time card when you took the time off. You just had to have enough accrued vacation to cover your leave request.

        So the senior part timers with other jobs always took the choice days for vacation, won the bids, and then just took the time unpaid so they always had vacation in the bank when they wanted it. This system drove me nuts, but I didn’t really blame my coworkers for playing the game when they didn’t write the rules.

      2. jason*

        Even if the op-ed gives up some of their shifts colleagues will be disgruntled. I would let things be as is. Op-ed can suggest that management include a response deadline going forward and not to delegate shifts until the deadline so its more fair.

        1. doreen*

          That’s fine as long as she understands that it may come back to bite her – there are lots of people like me and Artemesia who wouldn’t do anything optional for her in the future. Sure I’d be mad at management for allowing it to happen , but I’d be mad at the person who took all the shifts as well.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            This. Right now, OP doesn’t come into contact with these coworkers in a meaningful way. But none of us can predict what will happen in the future. So, say OP keeps all their overtime shifts and coworker Diana ends up not getting any. And then next year the company is restructured and Diana becomes a person OP relies on for a lot of their work tasks. Or Diana gets a different job, and somewhere down the line OP wants to interview with Diana’s company, where she’s in a position to tell people that in her experience OP’s not a great team player.

            OP’s welcome to burn those bridges if that’s what they decide they want to do, but they should know that losing the goodwill of their coworkers could come with unforeseen consequences.

            1. AKchic*

              This right here.
              OP shouldn’t be so quick or so willing to burn those bridges. In today’s market, nobody knows when they might need to utilize that bridge again.

          2. Glitsy Gus*

            Yes, this exactly.

            Management screwed up, but OP behaved selfishly to take advantage of the screw up. I have actually been in the shafted person’s position, and yeah, I wouldn’t do anything to help out my selfish co-worker that I didn’t absolutely have to. Even though we didn’t work together directly, you’d be surprised at the level of overlap that can happen.

        2. boo bot*

          Re: “Even if the op-ed gives up some of their shifts colleagues will be disgruntled.”

          I actually think giving up the shifts would pretty much resolve the issue. People will probably still be annoyed for a bit, but if they’re able to work an extra shift or two, and make the money that goes along with that, then the OP’s actions won’t have any lasting material affect on them. The annoyance will fade.

          If the OP hangs on to all the shifts, then they’ll be the person who took all the overtime, when everyone was in need of extra money. The impact will last, and so will the frustration.

          FWIW, my impression was that they did take enough shifts to disrupt the system – like, there were enough shifts for everyone to take at least one, and now there’s not.

          1. Yorick*

            I think people would be way less annoyed if OP gave up some shifts. If you get all the shifts and then give some up, you look like you just didn’t realize at first but you’re actually really considerate.

            1. Glitsy Gus*

              Exactly. Even if you keep 90% of what you originally claimed, you are still the good guy for realizing the situation and letting one or two shifts go.

      3. Junger*

        We’ve actually had letters from employers with that vacation system, and it caused all the drama and resentment you’d expect it to.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Yup – my mom’s employer is one of those places, and they get into fights every year. It’s ridiculous.

      4. Liz*

        That was my thought too; no different from someone glomming onto all the “good” vacation times. I worked in a job once where I was one of four admins in a corporate legal dept. I was last hired, so I got to “choose” my vacation last. At that point i had no money to go away, so my days off were just spent at home, or doing stuff, so i was flexible. The way it worked, we had a calendar where we put down time off we wanted. One of us, decided SHE was entitled to every summer friday off, effectively blocking the rest of us from taking a long weekend. I wasn’t too happy about that, but didn’t want to make waves. But it was kind of selfish.

        1. Rachael*

          We had an open calendar at my last job (a bank) and no seniority. I took vacation for a couple of days and came back to a calendar where one person took every Friday before a three day weekend and every Friday July-August off. I marched right into my bosses office and complained. I wouldn’t usually, but this meant that nobody else could have a long weekend when there was a bank holiday and nobody else could take a full week off of work in the summer (only one person at a time could take vacation).

          I mean, really. How selfish can you be? Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. That created a lot of resentment in the office that someone would even do that knowing they were messing up vacation for others.

          Like Alison said, if you do stuff like this people will remember in the future and not be as kind to you.

      5. Thistle Whistle*

        This kind of situation is often viewed as easiest for the organiser but not fair for everyone else (apart from those who by luck happen to be in the right place at the right time).

        A few years ago I was doing an online course from UK University. They released the weekly learning on a Monday morning at 8am GMT/BST. Unlike a lot of my classmates i was in work then so by the time I managed to download, read and work on the first assignments (Monday lunch) a handful of classmates were finished everything. Thats OK if your assignment was stand alone with everyone doing the same, but if (as was often the case) you were to pick from a finite list and discuss on a moderated discussion board you were left with the dregs that no one wanted.

        I did complain and ask if people could be told to hold off posting for 48 hours to allow everyone a chance to do their own work, but was told that was too complicated to administer and that I just needed to be faster off the mark.

      6. Quickbeam*

        “It is also terrible management to allocate something like this only on FCFS. It is like letting someone who jumps on line at 12:01 on January 1 and signs up for vacation days on all the holidays for the year, leaving others to work Thanksgiving and Christmas. etc.”

        I work with that person! She puts in for every summer Friday and all holidays. My manager had to step on it, hard.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Why are there people who have to be told not to take every crumb of any desirable item for themselves?

          1. New Jack Karyn*

            It’s not every crumb of every desirable item–it’s taking a bite out of every brownie and leaving the pile on the plate. “I didn’t take it all, there’s plenty left!”

            1. Glitsy Gus*

              yep. This is the best analogy. What? I left most of August. You can have Mon-Thursday of any week! It’s not MY problem you didn’t ask sooner.

      7. Quill*

        Yeah, when I worked in lab we used to compete for the occasional weekend assignment: you got paid to go in and do two hours of the easy lab stuff, like opening, documenting bacterial growth, moving cultures to the fridge at the exact right time, and shutting the lab down, and then you went out to lunch in the relatively more urban town that work was in.

        (And if you started a culture that needed to be pulled on sunday at any later than about 2pm people grumped at you unless you took the shift yourself, because that was both too early for having solid lunch and shopping plans, and too late for making dinner and nightlife plans when we had to be in before 8 the following morning…)

    3. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Overtime is paid extra in the US,generally 50% above the regular pay rate, and higher in cases like a national holiday.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        (Posted too soon sorry.)
        Many hourly employees see OT opportunity as a benefit.
        It’s the emotional equivalent to someone in a company with calendar-year vacation schedules logging in at 12:01am on January 1st to block out their vacation time all the major holidays.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      OP took a lot of shifts because they signed up first and others are unable to pick them up. The company should have regulated how many shifts people were allowed to sign up for and then if they didn’t have enough interest, asked a second time.

      1. Georgina Fredrika*

        yes, there def should have been a better system in place, but in the absence of a better system you don’t need to play Hunger Games with shifts.

        Especially when it seems like an unusual event so other employees were not necessarily savvy to the fact that they needed to open up their email the second it arrived in order to get one of those shifts.

        Seems like OP was aware they were unfairly benefitting by happening to open it second & decided to make the most of the unfair opportunity rather than hold back. Understandable I guess, but now people are complaining so is it really worth dealing with that and have people badmouth you as difficult to your boss?

    5. Janie4*

      Also, in environments where people can earn a lot of overtime when you’re understaffed, toxic workplaces will try to drive off new people hired so they won’t lose their overtime.

    6. DCGirl*

      For the same reason people are upset when someone signs up for all the good vacation days, i.e., around Christmas and Thanksgiving, and prevents other people from getting them.

    7. JJ*

      OP1, I get where you’re coming from, but you are causing real anxiety for your team members, and I would consider releasing a few shifts.

      My partner’s work operates this way for ALL shifts, and it has never made sense to me. If you snooze you lose; literally you might not work that week. Plus it seems like the employer is shooting themselves in the foot by letting whoever gets there first get the shifts, instead of scheduling people with the appropriate skills and experience for that week’s needs. It’s a great way to not build loyalty and make your employees always on edge about work/money and unable to really plan ahead. Oh the MANY times making social plans a week in advance has been met with “I’ll have to wait until the schedule is posted to know.” Irritating!

      OP’s employer should have divided the shifts equally and then let people swap to accommodate their schedules.

      1. Paulina*

        Unfortunately for some fill-in situations, it can be better for the employer to have a few people cover a lot rather than spread it around, since it reduces the disruption of bringing someone else in. That’s unlikely to be worth the hard feelings from those who miss out on the opportunity, however, and management may have underestimated how appealing they’d made the overtime.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          They are clearly unhappy about the situation, because they are complaining and asking to switch shifts. Especially given the current climate, if this was no biggie to them, they wouldn’t be complaining or asking OP not to hog all the shifts. While, no, OP didn’t say that Fergus had a panic attack over this, if this is a big enough deal OP is aware people they don’t really know are complaining, well, it’s reasonable to assume they also wanted the shifts for a reason.

      2. Flora*

        It’s not hard for a manager to post this kind of thing with something like, “no one take more than two shifts before [date/time] so everyone gets a chance at some. At that point it’s a free for all. If you take none by [date/time] it may be that you get none.”

    8. CastIrony*

      Thank you all for the insight. I work in retail, and as someone who is the first or second (Yay for family working at the same job!) to be called in to work for everyone who can’t make their shifts, I found it baffling that people would want to work extra shifts.

      I will have to remember this for someday.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Yeah, it can depend a little bit on the given situation. If everyone already has way too much work and spends way too much time on shift, OT isn’t always welcome. A lot of the time in offices, though, opportunities for OT don’t come around as often, so when it’s offered it’s really desirable.

    1. Carlie*

      I might be even more clear on the contingency and the chain leading to it – “At the directive of my manager (Name), I am submitting this notification that upon my assumption of position (X), I will no longer be in position (Y). In position Y, I will be keeping benefits accrued while in position Y including (vacation time, sick time, length of hire for priority, etc).” I would not use the word resignation at all.

      1. Colette*

        That would be strange to include, especially if you haven’t discussed it with anyone. You don’t get to dictate what your benefits are. (I fully expect you’d keep them – but you don’t get to decide that.)

        1. Annony*

          Yep. Instead of putting that in the “resignation” letter, get it in writing in the offer letter.

          1. Diahann Carroll*

            Yeah, that’s the best way to go. Putting that in the “resignation” letter may ruffle some feathers that OP just doesn’t want or need ruffled right now.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I like Carlie’s wording. Makes it clear you are doing a transfer, not resigning and being rehired and protects your seniority and benefits.

        I worked at one company that reduced its benefits. Current employees got to keep their existing benefits (leave, insurance, 401K match), while new hires were brought in under a cheaper package. We all lived in fear of being laid off when the contract expired and being rehired under the new contract with lesser benefits. It does happen.

  3. Beth*

    OP1: You don’t HAVE to give them up, it sounds like, but I think sharing is the right thing to do here. I’m betting that’s what you’d want someone else to do if they had happened to see the email first; it’s just luck that you happened to check it sooner than others, so don’t be a jerk about it. Start by taking roughly your fair share of the surplus (e.g. if there are 10 shifts and 5 people looking to take them, take ~2 shifts) and loop back later once others have had a chance to sign up to see if any extra shifts are still open.

    1. Angelinha*

      I think this depends on how many OP took! If, like someone suggested above, she took 80% of the available shifts, that’s a little much. But if she’s just one of several people who took a few shifts and now they’re all gone, that changes things for me.

      1. Washi*

        Yeah, if there are 30 shifts, 50 employees, and OP took 3, then I don’t think she has an obligation to only take her “share”, when many people wouldn’t get any shifts anyway. If she took 20 shifts, then yeah, that’s pretty different.

        She mentions “those of us who took more” so I would say that if OP’s share is roughly in line with what other people took (like if the first 10 each took 3 shifts) that puts her more in the clear than if she took waaaay more than even the other firstcomers. I mean, it’s still not fair exactly, but in that case, I would blame the company for setting it up this way more than the employees.

    2. Generic Name*

      I’m wondering what if there were more like 10 shifts available and 30 people. How much is the OP supposed to give up then? I’m not saying it is t right to spread the wealth, because it absolutely is, but I’d be concerned that people would hear you’re giving away some of your shifts and you’d have hordes of people asking and some would get disproportionately mad if you didn’t give them a shift or two. Maybe it’s a know your workplace thing. If people are known to be petty and vindictive tread carefully, but if people are generally reasonable, then you’re probably fine.

    3. JSPA*

      Also depends on your level of desperation. If those shifts make the difference on whether you lose the house / get evicted, you can mention that you have an issue you desperately need to get on top of. If you’re just more comfortable having more of a contingency fund, realize that some of the people who want shifts may be desperate. (Spouse out of work, health care costs, whatever.)

      It’s like the difference between hogging treats when you have no food at home and no money to buy, vs “yum, free brownies.”

    4. RecoveringSWO*

      Yeah, I had an on campus job that did this for extra shifts. My senior year, one student got a blackberry and was able to get email alerts on his phone while everyone else only had access computer access to email. He scooped up the vast majority of the extra shifts before management stepped in. We were definitely not happy about the disparity.

  4. Dan*


    “What do you think?”

    *I* think you you’ve made up your mind, so what I think probably doesn’t matter. If you’re not worried about blow back, why are you writing for advice?

    Unless you are worried about blow back…

    It’s generally not a good idea to knowingly piss off a bunch of your coworkers. AAM articulates many reasons why what may seem like you can duck now might come back and bite you later.

    I used to work as much OT as I could get my hands on back in my day. I’m not actually encouraging or discouraging you to give back shifts. If the money matters more to you than your perceived relationship impacts with your coworkers, by all means, take the money. But do so only if you’ve properly assessed your social-work risks in that regard. And let me just say that the longer I continue to work, the more I continue to be surprised about who moves into what role and what influence they can have over you. One of my bosses now used to be junior to me at a prior job, like 5 years before he became my boss. My response to him was, “good thing I was nice to you back then.”

    Best advice I every got on the first day at my current job was “play nice in the sandbox.” I’ve yet to encounter a situation where that was the wrong thing to do. Only you know what that means in the context of your question.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Also, the fact that the OP doesn’t have contact with the other coworkers is not necessarily a plus – it just means that their primary view of her is a very negative one, because they don’t have other interactions to compare it with.

      And yeah – I wouldn’t count on it not causing problems down the line. Transfers, promotions, social networks, complaining about it to someone who *does* have influence over the OP. It’s not just the people who wanted the shifts – it’s also the people they talk to who think that it was a crappy thing to do. We’ve seen letters on this forum from people who lost dearly wanted job opportunities because they treated someone badly, even though it was well in the past, or someone they thought didn’t matter.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I can understand wanting to work as many extra shifts as possible if times are tight and more money is needed, however I can also imagine in the future that OP1 becomes known in the company as “The selfish shift hogger” or words to that effect.

      2. Amaranth*

        That’s a good point, and if she has little to no contact with those departments, she probably won’t hear those reactions until griping is shared and perceptions are set.

    2. Viette*

      Yeah, this letter reads like the person writing has no intention of giving up the shifts. I don’t know why they’re asking. They want the shifts, they took the shifts. They don’t wanna give up the shifts.

      I think it really depends on the work environment and the OP’s situation, too. If it’s a culture where people are catty and harsh to each other and nobody helps anyone, it’s more understandable that the OP wouldn’t want to give up these shifts for the sake of a bunch of jerks who never do anything for them. Also, if they’re flat broke they you gotta make rent, then I’m not going to sit here and tell them that them have to share and good luck with their bills.

      If OP wants to build any kind of a reputation at this company and they can afford it, they should share. Those people over there in that other department may well know people in OP’s department. They may well be acquainted with people who are important in the OP’s current work environment. OP is making the decision to build a *bad* reputation with a particular group of people — it had better be worth it to them.

      1. agnes*

        yes. There is an adage–you can do whatever you want if you are prepared to accept the consequences. I think the consequences have been pretty clearly laid out by many others. OP, you don’t get to control how other people respond to you, you only get to control what you do. Choose accordingly.

      2. Ominous Adversary*

        They’re looking for validation that they are right and their co-workers are wrong. They want assurance that there won’t ever be any blowback for this.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      Yeah, OP sounds like they’re pretty set on keeping the shifts so I’m not sure what they’re looking for.

      I would also consider that even though the people actually asking for the shifts to be switched are in different departments, that doesn’t mean that people OP works directly with don’t have an opinion about it. There could easily be people in their department who lost out on shifts and are annoyed about it, but just not enough to make a fuss about it. Or they could be hearing about how OP is handling it and thinking “wow, I’m so glad I picked up some shifts before the shift hog over there hoovered up everything”, or “I can’t believe OP took so many shifts, my BFF Fergus in Production was really hoping for some overtime” or whatever. People talk to each other when you’re not around and are still forming opinions about you even if they’re not saying those opinions out loud, so I wouldn’t assume that just because the loudest people aren’t in your department it won’t affect your work life.

    4. Sara without an H*

      This is very good advice, although I’m a bit skeptical that OP#1 will take it. She does indeed sound as though she’s made up her mind and is just looking for validation.

      The problem, though, is that while friends come and go, enemies accumulate. As Dan says, playing nice in the sandbox is good long-term strategy.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      100%. In 2003 I was laid off and out of work for a year and a half. I got a job as a contractor and they told me it was temp to perm if I was a good fit. I got nothing but praise from my boss and my team, and my recruiter said they wanted to hire me full time. Since it was taking longer than I was being told, I started looking for another job. Word got back to my boss so he took me out for coffee with him and my recruiter. They told me that word had gotten to someone higher up that they were planning hiring me and she was trying to block it. I had worked on something with this woman ONCE, had no idea what I had done to piss her off, and here she was trying to keep me from being hired. So yes, you never know what can come back to bite you in the ass down the line.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Yes. Once they found out I was looking elsewhere they finally hired me. But then I got laid off from there a few years later…

    6. Iceberry*

      A more specific version of play nice in the sandbox that I heard early in my career was: be careful what toes you step on today, as they may be attached to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow. You really never know what the future holds, nothing good can come of a negative reputation.

    7. Glitsy Gus*

      I think this is a really great sum up here.

      Also, I don’t think you need to give up all, or even a majority of the shifts if you really need the money. But giving up even just one or two can go a long way to showing good faith in this situation. Not just in the sense of avoiding blow back, but also in the sense of down the road when you need someone to do you a solid, you have someone who remembers you doing one for them.

  5. Dan*


    On the weird scale where 1=totally normal, and 10=completely strange? This rates somewhere above a 9 if not a full on 10.

    The older I get, the more I have come to learn that paper trails exist for a reason, and when people say, “it’s standard, you don’t need to worry about it”, well, they’re full of it. They *will* haul it out when it’s in their favor, otherwise why bother?

    You need to figure out what’s really going on, and take AAM’s advice.

    1. Artemesia*

      So this. I have been burned by situations where something was NOT put in writing or something was put in writing (but just a formality — we have ALWAYS actually not held people to that). These are not times like other times for starters and so it is hard to make decisions as if things are stable. I would not want a document of resignation when I was promoted as I watch so many people continue to be getting laid off. CYA now more than ever.

    2. Junger*

      Agreed. Even if it is just a bureaucratic oddity, a malicious employer will haul it out when they think it benefits them.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yep. I keep CYA files for a reason. If they INSIST that you write this letter, do exactly what Alison said and make it 100% clear that you didn’t resign. The only time I’ve had to sign a letter when switching jobs was when it was a new offer letter. This makes no sense at all.

      1. Eether Eyether*

        I would also include a signature block at the bottom of the letter for your manager to countersign the letter Agreed:
        by: Signed by John Smith, Title
        And keep a copy of the letter that has both signatures!

    4. HR Exec Popping In*

      I agree this is very odd. It actually makes me wonder what industry the OP is in. It might be an organization that frequently deals with employment contracts or more formal “appointments”. At my company, which does not do contracts, we do have to “resigned” from officer positions if you take a non-officer position which I also think is odd, but our law dept requires it.

      I really can’t see anyway the employer can do anything evil with the “resignation from position” letter. All records, including their own HRIS system would show the employee did not resign from the company and was still employed so providing them with the letter is very low risk. It might be worthwhile to mention to HR that you found this to be very odd and unsettling and that after talking to colleagues at other companies it seems to be specific to only this company and then ask why. It might be that they are unaware of how peculiar this is.

  6. Suspicious*

    #3. Maybe I’m just more on edge about the possibility of layoffs because we have seen the mass wave of layoffs in the past few months, but I immediately thought this could be a sneaky way for an employer to say, after they have the letter in hand, “Oops, we have to restructure and actually won’t be able to create that position for which you’ve been promoted,” then because they have a resignation letter on file, they get out of paying unemployment, too.

    That would be really evil and bad faith, but I am lacking in trust these days.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I had the same thought. Known a few companies who’d think that was a very clever plan to reduce overhead.

      (One place, since gone under, initiated a program where people would register their interest in getting a different job in the firm…then use that list as defining ‘people who don’t really want their jobs’. Several firms of lawyers in the local area were kept very busy after that!)

      1. Usagi*

        I used to work for a huge global corporation, one of those brands that practically everyone in the world would recognize. During the pandemic, they decided to get rid of a HUGE department spanning the entire US and several sites in other countries. This meant several thousands of people’s jobs were suddenly at risk. Unfortunately for the corporation, this was for sure going to make news (and it did, you might be able to figure out what company I’m talking about if you’ve been keeping an eye out), so they needed a clever way to avoid any kind of public blowback.

        So they kept everyone, but put the vast majority of them in meaningless roles that didn’t match their pay — everyone kept their pay rates, meaning there are now former managers and former entry level people (and everyone in between) doing pretty much the exact same job, but for a huge difference in pay — and have nothing to do with their previous roles. Plus, the roles have these neigh impossible metrics to hit. This meant that everyone was super unhappy being in roles they didn’t sign up for, and were feeling the pressure to hit goals that they just plain couldn’t manage. So of course everyone is now looking to get out.

        The end result? Corporation gets to look like heroes for keeping everyone in these trying times, but also gets everyone to resign so they don’t have to pay unemployment. To make things even worse, I’ve heard from some contacts there that are higher up in the company that once enough people have resigned, they’ll then just get rid of the rest of the people altogether (essentially, they’re waiting for the number of remaining people to get low enough that paying unemployment wont be too bad, and the public wont notice).

        I’m so glad I got out before COVID. The way they let me go was sketchy too but I’m just going to look at the positives since it led to me getting into the industry I wanted to be in anyway, in a role that I enjoy.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      “It is very dangerous to believe people – I stopped doing that years ago.” Feels very appropriate here.
      (it’s from the Miss Marple series starring Joan Hickson. Don’t remember the name of the episode but it’s the one where a couple of newlyweds buy a house only for it to turn out that the wife who grew up in New Zealand actually used to live there briefly)

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      The current situation definitely justifies being on edge. I’ve been laid off twice in my career and have narrowly escaped 2 additional layoffs more recently, so there’s always a tiny part of me that worries if it’s going to happen again. In fact when this pandemic first hit, and my husband wasn’t sure what was going to happen with his job, I joked with my boss to please not fire me.

      But this is a very strange request. They’re either up to something as you mention, or their HR department doesn’t understand how things work. I would keep pushing back, and even meet with HR and ask WHY they need a “resignation” letter. If forced to write one, I’d stick to what Alison said and be SUPER careful in the wording.

  7. Mix Aimz*

    LW1 – Whoever was asking for overtime could have definitely organised it better. Instead of first come first serve, they could have taken names and split shifts accordingly. But that’s too much work, and as far as they’re concerned, they’ve got the shifts covered. However, I do think it should be shared but you don’t *have* to give any up.

    What I do know is people have long memories and fingers crossed it doesn’t come back to bite you in the butt!

    1. chersy*

      Right? I was thinking also the one who needed overtime could have organized it better such as limiting the OT slots to (for example) a maximum of two, and that’s on those who sign up.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Yes the company should have gotten involved. All they had to do was some basic math, and allow a certain number of shifts per person. And then let them know if there were more available it would be first come first serve. But like you said, the shifts are covered and that’s probably all they care about.

    3. Annony*

      It would have been easy to put a limit on how many shifts people could sign up for the first day and then make it unlimited the second day. The company really needs to revise how they do this. Overall I agree with you. The company designed their system this way and the OP took advantage of it. Are they allowed to do this? Yes. They just need to decide if it is worth getting a bad reputation.

  8. Bureaucracy City*

    I work for a large state university, aka bureaucracy city, and its standard practice for folks who are promoted into a new position (as opposed to a reclassification of their current job) to have to formally resign from their existing position. The promotion is a two-sided transaction in our payroll system, and we have to input a reason for terminating them from the old position. If we don’t have a resignation on file, we don’t have a justifiable reason for ending their old job. As long as there is no gap between their resignation letter in the old position and the offer letter for the new position, there is no break in service, impact to benefits, etc. Our HR folks advise and will request revised letters if needed to make sure folks don’t run into trouble.

    1. TooTiredToThink*

      While I find this practice very weird; the whole thing was ringing some bells – I am fairly positive I’ve heard of places doing similar in the past, and it really doesn’t surprise me that its academia.

    2. MK*

      Eh, why is not “promotion” a justifiable reason? Surely it would be simpler to amend this than request faux-resignation letters.

      1. Allonge*

        Exactly what I was thinking – is it not easier to add an option to the drop-down list in the System than giving everyone a heart attack about this? Of course once you have done it a couple of times, it must seem like nothing, but the first time?

        1. Insert Clever Name Here*

          From my experience customizing a system over the last two years for my company: their system may not be easily customizable (and IT may have bigger fish to fry) or they maxed out customizations available in other parts of the system that are more important than this one. I used to always think it was because no one chose to ask, but I’m learning the answer is one of those above 99 times out of 100.

          1. Colette*

            Or the system was built in 1982 and is held together with duct tape and chewing gum, and any change could take it out of service altogether.

          2. Allonge*

            Ok, fair enough – then to just use the resigned option without actually asking for a resignation letter? And if the sytem requires an uploaded file, have a standard pdf that says X was promoted to new post, this replaces resignation letter?

            I worked for 3-4 years in a planning system where we could not update the names of departments, and a huge reorganization happened. We made it work for a while!

        2. Yorick*

          No, it may not be easier to change the system. At my job, when we request a change to the drop-down list and it gets approved, it goes into a huge list of approved changes that our IT is about 5 years behind on. In the meantime, we have to figure out how to fit stuff into the existing system.

      2. Bluephone*

        Because [imagine music note emojis here] acadeeeeeeemiaaaaaaaaa! [/end music note emojis]
        A former admin assistant for a big university (who is also like 99 percent sure they know which medical center Letter 4 works for but doesn’t want to tie up the comment thread with guesses, out of respect for LW’s privacy and Alison’s sanity)

        TLDR: academia is weird, man :-/

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Your comment made me laugh out loud! My dad spent his whole career in academia in a relatively not ridiculous university and even then, there are stories…

      3. doreen*

        I’m just going to say it might depend on how the entity is organized. Technically, in a lot of ways , if leave one state agency and go to another one, I am still working for the same employer. I will get one W2 for the whole year , my paycheck comes from the same place etc. I don’t know if an actual resignation letter is required when a person is promoted into a different agency but it’s processed as a termination from one agency and a new hire in the other in many respects where “promotion ” as a reason wouldn’t make sense. ( email address , electronic timesheets and so on ). It doesn’t affect vacation , benefits etc as those go by the date you entered “state service”

          1. doreen*

            That’s the thing – it’s not really a transfer just like it’s not really a resignation . A transfer would be moving from one business unit to another in the same agency ( with or without a promotion) , and you will keep your email address, still use the same electronic timesheet , still log into the same network and so on. All of those things change when you change agencies.

    3. Amaranth*

      Would it cover OP better to put the reason for resignation as something like ‘as required to move into x position’?

    4. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Whoever designed that system needs to add an option of promoted for that field.

    5. Slinky*

      This also happens at the large state university I work for. It’s not a practice that makes a great deal of sense to me, but like you said, bureaucracy city. This seems to be a common practice in higher ed.

    6. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      My husband works for the government, and when he was promoted to his current manager position he had to “apply” for it. But he never had to write a resignation letter. Seems like a very unnecessary practice. You’re moving from one position to another within the same organization, you’re not leaving.

    7. Anya Last Nerve*

      A former colleague came from one of the Big 4 accounting firms and she had to resign her job to transition into a new role at the same company. It’s weird, but not unheard of.

  9. WFH with Cat*

    LW4, this is a truly minor point, but I’m completely flummoxed by your company not allowing brown suits “because brown is unprofessional.” How is a brown suit not professional? Are suits only professional if they are traditional colors of men’s suits — blue, gray, black? What about red or cream or, well, any other color a women’s suit might be? And do the suits have to be solid colors? What about or tweed, herringbone, plaid, houndstooth? Is the bias against brown somehow connected to the medical profession in particular?

    Like I say, a minor point, but … well, perhaps I’m still reeling a bit from the conversation about aqua walls and feel like I’ve now been tossed into Opposite World.

    1. Job Carousel*

      I’m pretty sure I’ve interviewed for a job at where OP #4 works, and if so, I can confirm witnessing the super formal dress code (I presume brown gives off a less formal connotation than black, navy, or gray suits, hence why it’s out of favor). I was personally taken aback by the level of formality, especially among female physicians who, at least on my interview day, seemed to all wear dresses, heels, several pieces of jewelry, full face makeup, and obviously coiffed hair. I think I was underdressed in my pantsuit, plain flats, and minimal jewelry. Doesn’t surprise me that they’re now mandating formal-looking cloth masks in staid colors.

      1. Alica*

        wow. I am so glad that my office doesn’t have a dress code! I’m working from home currently, but tbf the only difference that makes is I’m wearing slippers instead of sandals. The last time I wore makeup was my brother’s wedding as I was a bridesmaid – that was 6 years ago, I can’t imagine having to wear it every day.

        Also I have the feeling that my cat print and cupcake print masks would not meet their guidelines…

          1. Dasein9*

            Same for mine with a very bluntly stated political opinion! But even my plain orange one wouldn’t be okay? Weird.

        1. JustaTech*

          Nor my corgis-wearing-plague-doctor-masks on a pink background.

          Which is too bad because those corgis are adorbs!

      2. lilsheba*

        I will never understand strict and formal dress codes like that. What is the ever loving point? Especially on the mask thing. I’m sure my witch/halloween masks wouldn’t be “approved”. Thank god I work from home first of all, and not for a stuffy dress code kind of place to begin with. This is a hospital, why in the hell do you want women in makeup and heels? It’s just hinders the work.

        1. BlondeSpiders*

          As for myself, I would be quite scandalized by a Patriots face mask.

          – Signed, a diehard Seahawks fan.

    2. Mark Roth*

      Agreed. I would find it odd that a doctor is wearing a business suit anyway. But if s/he was, I wouldn’t really care what color it was.

      1. Mongrel*

        There have been a few studies that show ‘normal’ clothes and traditional white coats are infection reservoirs, with special disdain for ties (they flap and can potentially get in lots of stuff).
        Lightweight, easily replaceable clothes like scrubs are preferred for that reason

        1. Liz*

          That doesn’t surprise me! It also reminds me of a show I watched streaming, London Hospital. in the early 1900’s where the nurses wore long skirts, caps with trains, and blouses with balloon sleeves. The wards too had carpet etc. All i could think about was GERMS!!!!!

          1. Dasein9*

            I love that show! And the nurse uniforms had removable sleeves, but the nurses had to be sure to put their sleeves back on before a “man” saw them. “Man,” in this case, meaning “doctor.” Apparently, it was not scandalous to be sleeveless around male patients.

          2. Amy Sly*

            Interestingly enough, part of why women’s skirts started getting shorter in the early 20th century was growing awareness of germs and how the long skirts tracked all the filth from the streets into the house.

            It’s also the reason why bathrooms of that era were white tile and ceramic surfaces: you had to regularly clean it to keep it white.

          3. Artemesia*

            My mother trained as an RN in a hospital in the 30s and the outfits she wore took yards of material to make and of course hours to iron every week.

        2. UKDancer*

          Yes, my ex was in the medical field and he never wore suits on a normal day. The rule was “bare below the elbow” for infection control purposes. Apparently the NHS did studies that showed that this made sure people were better able to wash their hands.

          My ex and his colleagues mostly wore trousers and a tunic type top (I’m sure there’s a proper word for this) with short sleeves.

        3. On a pale mouse*

          Depending on the type of medicine someone does, that might still be fine for a lot of the time, i.e. if it’s not going to create more risk than non-medical people at their non-medical jobs. I would guess some of them are allowed to be in scrubs at appropriate times (like a new specialist I’m seeing, who wore a suit with white coat the first time I saw him but scrubs the second time, because he does surgery on Friday mornings). Although I’ve definitely wondered about that before. If had a practice where I spent my day seeing people who were likely to be there because they probably had something infectious, I would want to at least wear something machine washable.

          Then there’s right now. My regular primary care person always wears street clothes with white coat, but was wearing scrubs when I saw her in June, and I’m assuming that was because of covid 19. I hope LW’s employer is making allowances for that where appropriate. (I wonder what colors of scrubs they disallow, for people who do wear them? I confess I was a bit disconcerted by a nurse wearing black scrubs one time, even though I wouldn’t actually tell anyone they couldn’t, because I get it, I wear a lot of black too.)

          1. DarnTheMan*

            My BiL is like that – he’s an oncologist, so general patient-seeing garb for him is a dress shirt and tie with lab coat overtop. But all of his dress shirt are machine washable, just to be on the safe side (and all his lab coats get laundered by the hospital through their super sterilization system).

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’ve removed two comments speculating on the name of the employer. Letter writers generally do not want their employers identified here so please respect that, all!

      2. Panda Bandit*

        Unnecessary and impractical! I’m reminded of the time when one of my coworkers was in medical school and she told me a patient barfed on her shoes. Isn’t it better to wear something inexpensive and/or easy to clean because it’s likely to get all kinds of fluids on it?

      3. Liz*

        I found it through a quick google search; by googling the names of several VERY well known hospitals, and dress code.

      4. JustEm*

        As someone who did her intern year at this institution (in the least formal and least prestigious specialty), it is quite famous in all respects including for the dress code, and you can easily determine which place it is if you search. I’m sure the LW doesn’t want it listed here. The mask rules do not surprise me, at all.

      5. Anon For Now*

        After working for several hospitals, most have much stricter dress codes than typical work places. Some of this is practical in nature. It’s easier to say no open toed shoes for all staff than try and have to explain that open toed shoes aren’t appropriate in areas where patients are seen.

        Although I’ve yet to work in a place that is as nearly as strict as what the OP describes, but it doesn’t surprise me too much that there are hospitals out there that are that strict.

      6. Richard Hershberger*

        How many nationally famous hospitals are there? I can think of just two off the top of my head. (There are nationally famous universities that have hospitals connected with them, but that is different.) Google shows that my first guess was right, though the other is local to me and had it this dress code I would likely have heard about it.

    3. Jane*

      There’s an English class thing, “never wear brown in town”, that I wonder if this has its roots in. Even now, men working in finance in London get side-eyed for wearing brown shoes (I have actually heard people use brown shoes as a reason to denigrate someone). Basically, in the past for a certain class of men you’d wear brown shoes and tweeds at your country estate but not when “in town” (London).

      Dark navy or maybe dark grey suits are all that is acceptable when in the city. Black is for funerals. Pinstripe for barristers. Yes, it’s completely anachronistic, and yes I didn’t really believe it was a thing these days till I witnessed it. Oh, and it mostly only applies to men – women have their own minefield of unwritten dress codes.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Can confirm. When I worked in London it was for a place that mandated black suits. You’d be reprimanded for turning up in brown, blue, red…etc.

        (Was a pretty high paid job so fitting the dress code wasn’t an issue for staff purchasing clothes. Although I now have 10 black suits in my wardrobe I no longer have any use for)

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This kind of makes sense to me, in the way that the origin of the rule of not wearing white in the winter time make sense to me. I still won’t follow either rule (because my employer doesn’t care) but at least I understand where it came from.
        It might explain the fuss over Obama’s brown suit.

        1. MayLou*

          The cynic in me suspects the fuss was more to do with Obama’s brown skin than his brown suit…

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            Far safer to pin “Not One Of Us” on a sartorial choice than skin colour.

            But that’s what it is. In-group. Which doesn’t perpetuate privilege at aaaaaaall.

      3. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        Tangentially related: One of the social clubs I attend events at in the States (but am not a member because the dues alone are larger than my yearly rent) has a *very* specific dress code that spells out the exact line between business and business casual, because business casual is only permitted on certain days and for certain events. Brown anything (shoes, belt, etc) is really the general dividing line between at which something crosses the line into casual.

        They also, hilariously enough, only permit casual if you are literally on your way to get changed into more formal clothes. Because god forbid somebody see you in a pair of chinos while at the bar.

        1. WFH with Cat*


          And now I want to know the identity of this social club … not that I will have ever been there … might never even have heard about it but my curiosity is strong.

          1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

            Most of them have very stringent dress codes, but they’re the only one I’ve ever seen specifically lecture people on their website what formal wear, business formal, business casual, and casual is.

            Basically any social club in the DC-NYC-Boston corridor that’s older than the Ford Motor Company has a dress code in this realm, though.

      4. Jules the 3rd*

        I think it was Georgette Heyer who had a stylish London resident complain to a police detective that the officer who was following him was wearing a ‘blue suit with brown shoes’ and begged him to ask the officer to change shoes, which embarrassed the police enough to stop the observation. Might also have been Lord Peter Wimsey in a Sayers, but I can’t think of one where he was a suspect / being followed. This would have been back in the 30s or 40s.

          1. WFH with Cat*

            Was that “Strong Poison,” the one where he meets Harriet?

            (I’m in the US so maybe the titles are different.)

            Also, kudos for remembering which of the books it was! I’ve read them all many times, but wouldn’t have been able to answer that on a bet.

            1. WFH with Cat*

              *facepalm* Oh, I misunderstood. Ignore my question.

              Now I know I need to read some Georgette Heyer.

              (But there is a faint bell ringing Lord Peter’s name … I suppose it was Bunter at some point declining to allow him to wear brown somewhere.)

      5. WFH with Cat*

        Well, that makes sense, Jane. In terms of it being a traditional bias, that is, not that it makes sense in every situation/culture/workplace. Thanks for the insightful post.

        And I can just imagine the difficulties for women trying to thread that needle of perfectly “appropriate” apparel in all situations! Makes me think of the endless stream of articles about Kate Middleton’s (and the rest of the royals’) fashion choices.

    4. EventPlannerGal*

      At the level of formality they seem to be at, brown suits (or any “light” colour, eg tan, cream) are traditionally considered quite casual and appropriate for attending sports matches, spending time in the country, etc. I would guess that if this place sticks so closely to this type of rule, some tweeds/herringbone probably would not be acceptable (tweed also being considered a casual, hunting/shooting/fishing sort of material, same with heavily patterned fabrics except pinstripes). I would be interested to know if black suits are actually considered okay in this setting – IME under this type of dress code black suits are for funerals and waiters, and it would be a bit disconcerting to go to a medical appointment and see your doctor dressed like he’s about to give a eulogy.

      1. WFH with Cat*

        Good point about the tweeds, EventPlannerGirl. And I would have the same response to a doctor in a black suit. But … I’ve never actually seen/had a doctor wearing a suit during an appointment … I suppose any suit jacket is doffed in favor of the white coat.

    5. londonedit*

      Years and years ago I had a slightly disastrous interview with a company that was adjacent to my industry – the role was something that would use my skills, but wasn’t what I’d started my career doing (it was 2008, I’d been made redundant, I was going for any vaguely relevant interview I could get!) As I said, the interview itself wasn’t great, but the kicker was at the end, when the lead interviewer said ‘Oh…just one thing. You couldn’t have known, and it’s fine for an interview, but we have a set of corporate colours that employees need to adhere to. No patterns, and everyone needs to stick to black, blue, red and grey. I only mention it because we once forgot to say, and someone turned up on their first day in a purple blouse!’ (the last bit said as if that would have been the most embarrassing thing in the world). Their reasoning was that parts of the company had staff working in customer-facing roles, and as they all had to stick to wearing company colours, they’d made it a company-wide rule. But I thought it was absolutely bizarre (in my industry most people wear jeans to work, or casual clothes that give off a more ‘creative’ vibe, and there aren’t really dress codes beyond ‘don’t wear flip-flops or t-shirts with swear words on them’ so I was totally blindsided by the idea of a dress code that was as strict as only being able to wear four specific colours!)

      1. MK*

        It’s not a competely bizarre dress code, but it is a bizarre reaction. Most industries/companies/jobs/managers have their own cultures and quirks, and it’s not inappropriate to ask a new employee to conform, within reason. It is obnoxious, though, to act as if your own way is the one true way, and everyone who has different standards is a weirdo. Just state your expectations in a matter-of-fact tone and tell candidates that they will have to conform to them, if hired, so that thay can factor this into their decision.

        1. londonedit*

          It was completely bizarre to me because I’d never encountered anything like it before, but yeah, it was mainly the ‘OMG someone turned up in PURPLE and it was just the worst’ attitude that really put me off. It was like they’d all signed up for the company cult and couldn’t understand how anyone could act differently. It made me wonder how much of the rest of the working environment was subject to rules and regulations! The fact that they framed telling me about the corporate colour code around pointing out that the dress I’d worn for the interview wouldn’t be suitable also weirded me out, because it made me feel like I’d already done something wrong by turning up for interview in a dress with a green pattern.

          1. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Yeah, I agree it’s bizarre. A specific shade of blue is in my company’s logo and so you see a LOT of it in people’s wardrobes, but it’s only required if you’re doing a company-sponsored volunteer event (and then they provide the shirt for you to wear).

            1. soon to be former fed really*

              Yeah, companies with restricted colors should buy your work clothes like my DD’s company does.

              1. Carlie*

                Never wear a red shirt and tan pants when you go shopping at Target, unless you want everyone asking you where things are. Ask me how I know.

                1. DarnTheMan*

                  I learned a similar one when I used to work at a now-defunct amusement park (rhymes with Smontario Space) and went to a Best Buy after work – even though my blue work polo was a slightly lighter shade and I wore khaki, not black bottoms, it was like the polo was a beacon for everyone needing customer assistance.

                2. WFH with Cat*

                  Hey, I think you helped me find the salt and pepper shakers one day!

                  Yeah, sorry to say, I’ve bothered more than one customer in a red shirt at Target. Now, I pause and watch to see if they are working or shopping.

          2. Paulina*

            Framing it as “I only mention it because a previous new hire wasn’t a mindreader, how embarrassing” is quite bizarre. Yes, if you have an unusual dress code you do indeed need to tell the people you hire! And four colours is enough variation that it would be unreasonable to expect an interviewee to infer it from what they see employees wearing.

        2. KayDeeAye*

          I think if they want all employees to *be uniform*, they should *provide uniforms*. Because that totally sounds like a uniform to me.

        3. Richard Hershberger*

          I think we have a false dichotomy here. It is possible for something to be both common and bizarre.

      2. UKDancer*

        Wow, I’ve never worked anywhere that restrictive in the UK for dress code. I think that must be quite unusual.

        My company prefers people to wear a suit but doesn’t absolutely insist unless it’s for a high level meeting. I’ve never worked anywhere that told you what colour to wear in a white collar job.

        When I’ve worked in some jobs in the leisure sector over university vacations, we had a uniform and you wore it as part of the job.

        1. londonedit*

          Yeah, I’ve never encountered anything like it before or since. I get the logic, because if they’re making their customer-facing staff stick to four colours then OK, corporate branding, whatever, let’s extend it to everyone, but it struck me as very unusual. Uniforms, yes, fine for things like retail or front desk or other customer-facing roles or whatever, but not corporate colours that extend to every single department.

          1. UKDancer*

            Yes I mean in some cases I can see the logic of making everyone do the same thing. For example I’ve a friend working for Transport for London. Tube drivers are subject to random drug and alcohol tests so in the interests of fairness the same rule is applied to everyone in the organisation and you are told as much when you join. In the UK it’s fairly unusual to test people in white collar jobs in that way, more so than in the US I think.

            But they don’t make everyone in the organisation wear high visibility vests and a uniform or corporate insignias and colours because it would be daft making everyone dress the same when it’s not required. My friend was back office staff so she wore a suit.

          2. Jane*

            I missed in your first comment that they were making the entire company wear the corporate colours! That’s quite something!

            1. londonedit*

              I realise now I should have made that clearer! The role I interviewed for wasn’t customer facing in the slightest, it was an ordinary office job (can’t remember the exact job title but basically it was writing and editing company documents, totally back-office stuff!) but yes, everyone in the company could only wear those four set colours, whether you worked in the customer-facing part or not.

              1. Jane*

                I feel like the marketing team must hate that – so much effort in deciding on then getting everyone to use the exact right shades of the corporate branding, but then people can rock up in any shade of red…

    6. AnonoDoc*

      Said dress code runs to many pages, is extremely sexist, and includes many photo examples. It is indeed ridiculous.

      And one does have to wonder how often those suits are laundered.

      1. JustaTech*

        The laundered thing is the real problem. Most good suits and ties aren’t meant to go in a home washing machine, which means they don’t get cleaned more than once a week. For most people who wear suits that’s ok because the part that’s touching their skin is their socks, shirt and unders, which do get washed.

        But doctors encounter way more germs than most people, and those germs are on the *outside* of their clothes, so those suits and ties are just brimming with bacteria. Not to mention, at least for pediatricians, it’s a choking hazard (’cause kids like to grab things).

        At my private middle school all the men teachers were expected to wear ties, except the science teacher, after the third or fourth time he set his tie on fire in lab.

        1. AnonoDoc*

          There is a reason pediatricians wear bow ties :)

          But yes on the infection thing. It is a serious concern.

          And while I make a point of dressing in a way that is hopefully not distracting and shows respect for my patients, I refuse to work at any hospital whose dress code even prohibits fun socks!!! (yes, above referenced hospital system does, even in non-patient care areas)

    7. WellRed*

      Can we talk about the several pages of guidance for ties? Geez. Do they have any time to practice actual medicine?

        1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

          I once got Talked To at an event because of a paisley tie I was wearing.

          I honestly consider it an achievement.

        2. hufflepuff hobbit*

          It’s real — when I worked there, they specified that your hose had to match your skin tone — it was major news in our alumi group when that rule got discontinued two or three years ago.

          1. hufflepuff hobbit*

            had a co-worker who was cited (multiple times) for failing to wear hose under a PANTS SUIT

    8. memyselfandi*

      Earlier in the 20th century brown suits were considered appropriate only for casual situations and not business – think brown tweed. Definitely my father wore only black suits. Sports jackets were beige or patterned or tweed, but suits were solid and dark.

    9. Scotty_Smalls*

      Yeah, I come from working class family and the “brown is unprofessional” is really throwing me. They sound like snobs. I mean how many rules can you make up just for the fun of it? And I feel that the company should provide face masks if they want boring masks.

      1. doreen*

        I come from a working-class family , too. In my childhood, all the men in my grandparents’ generation wore at least a jacket and tie but usually a suit on Sundays and holidays. Thinking back, there were a lot of brown and puce suits and jackets – I can’t help but think that’s connected in some way to “brown is unprofessional”.

        1. Paulina*

          The restricted set of colours and styles considered “professional” may also be linked to the difficulty of keeping them clean and in proper shape (and getting a proper fit). Brown and/ or tweed is relatively forgiving, certainly far more so than black. Requiring special-purpose, difficult-to-take-care-of clothes enables wealth-based gatekeeping.

          1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

            +1. Black suiting fabric gets shiny from wear and tear as its fibres flatten.

      2. AnonoDoc*

        They are snobs, and they are proud of it, even though their dress code is out of the 1950s.

    10. Coco*

      My first employer had a similar dress code. Fortunately it changed a few years after I started (went from business formal to business casual). Colors for suits, shoes, socks were specified. A colleague got sent home for not wearing socks once. This was an IT consulting company.

      So glad jeans are fine in the office at my current employer.

    11. Helvetica*

      The Big Four accounting firms also have similar very strict dress codes, down to muted colours and no patterns, also for women. IIRC, their dress code says that you don’t have to only wear black but you can choose other, fun colours – like beige, navy and gray! So, these worlds do exist but they always feel extremely antiquated, I agree.

    12. Elizabeth I*

      My understanding (from a book my husband bought 10 years ago about how to dress for success) is that traditionally in England, brown toned suits or jackets were reserved for the country (as in – imagine a country squire in a brown tweed jacket with elbow patches ambling about a historic English manor). The book recommended that brown suits be used only in rural/recreational settings, while blue or gray suits were suitable for business, and black was reserved for formal occasions, such as weddings and funerals.

      Obviously this distinction doesn’t hold when you look at business in America today, but it was interesting to read about.

    13. pony tailed wonder*

      When I was younger, I used to read a fashion advice column in the newspaper called Dress for Success by John T. Molly. He used to survey businesses for their dress codes and wrote about it. I remember he hated bow ties except on tuxedos. If you go to amazon, a reviewer included some excerpts in their review. I wish there could be a more updated version of his column. It was interesting.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Me. Malloy actually did research. He showed pictures of the same individuals in different clothes, and had the study participants guess at their status or professions. The more casual the clothing, the lower the perceived status. For example, a woman in a conservative skirt suit might be judged a professional, a VP or AVP, perhaps; but if she took off her jacket (skirt and blouse, now), she would be perceived as a secretary or receptionist. (Yes, I know there are professional secretaries and receptionists, but these were his terms.) Suits also significantly out-scored dresses or coordinated separates.

        The book wasn’t meant to say what was or was not professional attire, but how different levels of formality were perceived.

        The bow tie didn’t seem to hold Senator Simon back noticeably.

        1. Parfait*

          Well, he didn’t win the presidency. Who knows, maybe if he’d worn standard ties all along, he would have won all the marbles.

    14. hufflepuff hobbit*

      I worked at this place and can confirm that the dress code is EXACTLY AS PRESENTED. I had a bright blue suit I wore to be rebellious

      1. AnonoDoc*

        Fluevogs are also used as an (expensive) sign of rebellion.

        Unless they have now been banned…

  10. Matt*

    #1 I think this is mainly management’s fault – whenever something like this comes up at my place (like on call duty), management sends out a link to an Excel sheet on a file and asks people to fill in their availability – and then the actual shifts are divided evenly. “First come first serve” doesn’t seem like a good principle here, except management wants to reward staff for reading their emails as quickly as possible …

    However if they really do it this way, then … yes, I’d give up some of the shifts, to second the other commenters.

    1. Julia*

      But does management want to reward staff that is glued to their email program? What about people who work in the field, or people who were on the phone with a customer, or people trying to concentrate on an important task? Being super quick to see emails isn’t exactly 100% correspondent to being an awesome employee.

      1. Lizzy May*

        Management isn’t looking to reward anyone. They just want the shifts filled by a body with the least amount of effort on their part. It’s bad management.

        1. The Grey Lady*

          Yeah, a lot of retail and food service places are run like this. They’ll let their staff kill each other over shifts without stepping in. They don’t care as long as somebody shows up to do the job.

      2. Glitsy Gus*

        Right, I was thinking this would suck for shift work- if you work the afternoon shift you are always SOL on this kind of thing.

  11. Language Lover*

    LW #1

    I feel for you. You’re in a tough position. There are some benefits to sharing the wealth but it’d be better if you worked with other people who signed up for a lot of shifts so the burden of spreading the wealth doesn’t solely fall on you.

    This really should have been done by your manager. Whenever I have a lot of desirable shifts, instead of taking the volunteers on a first come, first served basis (which is how I might do a sudden shift opening due to illness), I have everyone submit a request for shifts they’d like to work and try to be as equitable as possible in how I distribute them.

    If people are unhappy or think it’s unfair…oh well, that’s part of my burden as a manager. My reports don’t get paid to schedule and shouldn’t have to figure out what’s fair. Neither should you.

    1. Zoe*

      Exactly, OP1 can’t “fix” this situation and others did the same. They said first come first serve and got the shifts covered. I can see OP giving up 3 shifts let’s say and the mob braying that it’s not enough. Not his/her problem to fix.

      1. Friday afternoon fever*

        Well, we don’t know how many shifts were available and how many OP took. Regardless I would be very offended if any of my coworkers called my response to a bungled business process “the mob braying.” There are many people up or down thread who approach this with more empathy for both sides, that could be helpful for you to read

      2. The Grey Lady*

        Well, I would have a little more empathy for people who didn’t get to sign up until later. But I agree that this is really management’s fail and a crappy way to do it. What did they think was going to happen? Obviously everyone isn’t going to see the email at the exact same time.

  12. Observer*

    #1- In addition to what the others have said, not being a bit gracious here is highly likely to affect the way your actual team mates perceive you. Sure, they are not going to be mad at your per se, but it’s highly likely that they will see as someone who will never do anyone a favor, who will hog any benefits, and who will do what is not technically wrong even if it’s not very fair.

    That may not be fair, but it’s still likely to be how people see it, and that can hurt you down the road.

    1. Andy*

      They are going to be mad. They will however know it is not appropriate to show it directly. The two are much different.

  13. WoodswomanWrites*

    For #1, what jumps out is really poor management for this process. A much more fair system is needed. For example, an announcement that there are X number of shifts available, your preferences for extra shifts are due a week from today. Then management goes through the requests and assigns them based on what people requested, as close to equitably as possible.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      In an old workplace a sign up sheet for time off was posted every Monday morning in the breakroom. If you worked Mondays, it was great. But if you started later in the day or the week you were out of luck because the sheet was filled within hours by people who worked Mondays and had first access to it. The manager never understood why people were disgruntled. Their attitude was if you want time off then come into the workplace on Monday to request your time off.

    2. cncx*

      My mother worked as a nurse and one of the things she always told me is that making schedules is a skill set and some people just suck at them. Management could have definitely done better here!

      1. Bluephone*

        Yessss, so much yes! (Related to various healthcare professionals who have spent whole careers on shift schedules). OP1 could offer up a few shifts but really, their manager needs to take Scheduling 100 lessons. I’m pretty sure that “first come first serve is a BAD idea” is lesson 0.5 in that class.

    3. EventPlannerGal*

      The management probably just doesn’t care that much. So many employers offering shift-based work really don’t give a damn about this kind of thing, they just need the shift covered and let the employees fight it out for the good shifts. (Although if it’s that kind of workplace then not pissing off your colleagues is probably more important than OP thinks…)

  14. Springer Spaniel*

    #OP2: Your letter made me smile, because I found myself doing the same thing with a video of a former boss of mine. He used to be my line manager a few years ago when I was going through a very difficult, anxiety-ridden time, and his support really helped me back then. His voice has a calming effect on me so I did play a video featuring him in the background a couple times on a day when I had particularly bad anxiety. He’ll never know this (although we are now good friends and he wouldn’t mind!), but you know… it’s a hard time and if something like this helps you there’s no harm in it!

    1. Wakeen Teapots, LTD*

      Also made me smile. One of the sweetest things I have read here.

      Trying to imagine my employees doing the same. I’m thinking NAH :) but I’d find it very nice if so (as long as they weren’t outside in my shrubbery).

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I love it. It’s OP2’s ambient sound. (For me its a coffeeshop, because of all the hours spent studying in the college cafeteria between classes (free caffeine).
      I would suggest only one thing — can you play it on your personal device? Just in case IT gets asked to look at VPN usage.

      1. Rebecca in Dallas*

        Yes, I occasionally use an ambient noise app that has a coffee shop option, I love it for background work noise!

  15. Zoe*

    LW1. I disagree with most commenters. The shifts are yours to do what you want. The question is if you “give up” the shifts who decides who gets them? It sounds like there’s still not enough for everyone to be happy. I say it’s a pandemic and you never know what sh*t’s about to come, get the extra money while you can. Also, you say ‘us’ because I’m sure others who saw the email first did the same. Just know that while you were the lucky one this time, next time you may not be. Also, did you ask your boss her opinion? Might be a good check-in.

    1. David S.*

      I agree with this. It was on management to make sure that the extra shifts were given equally (either by limiting the number of shifts any one person could take or figuring out who was interested and then assigning them a shift). But since they decided to do it this way everyone had the same ability to do this. It seems like there were a lot more people who wanted shifts than shifts available so someone was always going to get upset. I don’t think there’s a real reason to give up any because unless you decide to give a shift to someone specific I assume they’ll just go up for grabs and the same sort of thing could play out. I definitely wouldn’t get involved with figuring out who is most worth of getting a shift as that would definitely involve upsetting someone.

      1. londonedit*

        Yes it’s management’s fault that they didn’t implement a fairer system in the first place, but I don’t think that’s any reason for OP1 to hog all the shifts now they understand how the system works. It’s basically saying ‘Well no one told me I couldn’t play this asshole move, so I’m going to play it anyway and screw the rest of you’. I mean, fine, if that’s what they want to do, but it really isn’t going to endear them to their colleagues.

      2. Observer*

        But since they decided to do it this way everyone had the same ability to do this.

        Not necessarily true. This went out in a group email, and there are always people who can’t get to emails of this sort the first minute they went out.

        And while of course it was on management to do things a bit more equitably, that’s not going to change the way the OP’s coworkers are going to see them.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I can see both sides. Management dropped the ball here because they just wanted the shifts covered with the least amount of work, and OP jumped at the opportunity to get extra shifts. But people don’t forget things like this. If OP truly doesn’t care about consequences with their co-workers down the line, then her “screw them, I got here first” attitude is fine.

    3. Colette*

      That’s like emptying the bin of ketchup packets at a fast food restaurant into a bag, taking them home, and refilling the ketchup bottle in your fridge. No one has directly said you can’t, but you’re taking advantage and inconveniencing others.

    4. WellRed*

      Yes the writer can keep all the shifts. Yes there’s a pandemic so grab all you can while you can! Too bad! Just remember: karma’s a bitch!

    5. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I kinda see it like the ‘first come first served’ way of booking leave. The first person to ask for say, a specific week in August gets it off, and if someone else comes along later and wants it then it’s perfectly ok to say no.

      Also, someone volunteering for lots of extra work might seriously need the money, or have other situations. This is why it’s not the worker’s place to sort out schedules etc. because you really do need someone who has the wider view of resource allocation to do all that. Your front line worker has no way of knowing the situations of everyone else.

      So, I think making someone feel like crud because they volunteered for extra work is really, really petty and also misdirected.

      1. Colette*

        But the person who was working on something critical and didn’t see the email until an hour later might also need money or have good reasons to be out of the house.

      2. Observer*

        The thing that people are going to remember is not that they volunteered for extra work, but that when it turned out that others turned out to have been cut out of the process, the OP refused to “share the wealth”.

        People talk a lot here about intent vs impact. Well that applies here to some extent. I’m sure the OP has good reason for wanting the extra cash. But what their coworkers are going to see it the impact on them and the rest of their coworkers.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          I’m assuming that there were like 20 extra shifts available and OP took around 5 or 6 which isn’t a major deal to me. Now if there were like 20 available and OP took all of them then my answer would change, because that is like trying to book every public holiday off as leave and never letting anyone else have them.

          So, I’m probably missing some information here.

          1. Zoe*

            No, people are just assuming. Knowing the percentage of shifts available vs. shifts he/she took is a key part though!

      3. Glitsy Gus*

        I see your point, but to use your example, this isn’t like asking for one week in August first, this is more like on 01Jan 12:01 am logging PTO for the week between Christmas and New Years, the week of Thanksgiving and the week of Fourth of July. Sure, it’s allowed, and yeah, you didn’t take Memorial Day or Labor Day because Becky was one second quicker on the draw there; but, hey, you left Columbus Day because you don’t need that weekend off anyway. It really isn’t fair and offices that work this way end up having a lot of resentment. That isn’t OP’s fault, Management should pay attention here and at least aim for equity when they can, but no one likes that guy who takes advantage of the bad situation.

        OP can take all the shifts if they want, but taking a very inequitable number might not be the best way to be a good team member in the long run. OP needs to weigh the pros and cons here, and it doesn’t really sound like they have realized all the potential cons.

  16. cncx*

    RE OP3 in a lot of the companies i work at (i live in a country where everyone has a contract) a resignation starts the counter at zero for vacation, pension, seniority… in fact at my current company i started in a try and hire/contract situation and was hired on as perm and i made them make my date of hire retroactive to when i started on contract. i would really ask them why they are doing this.

  17. Keymaster of Gozer*

    OP5: I have a similar fear now I’m out job hunting, in that I want to avoid anywhere that doesn’t take Covid seriously (I.e. doesn’t mandate masks worn properly, social distancing, infection tracking etc) but I can’t say to firms that ‘I want to make sure you’re not going to be an infection hotspot at any point’.

    Dressing up your needs works though: you’re not looking for a new job because your last place was full of typhoid marys, you’re looking for a more professional atmosphere. That sorta thing.

    Wish you all the best of luck, seriously. I can’t imagine how stressful it must be to be around people who aren’t wearing masks/not wearing them proper.

    1. LW 5*

      Thanks for the reply. I have seriously considered a switch for years but Monday set me really going. I quietly and politely asked a woman to put her mask back on and she did. A moment later snapped back “I am clean! What about you?!” I walked away, not taking her bait. Wanted to ask her how long she would be “clean” (and how did she know – does she get tested multiple times a day??) if she was around people all day inside without masks.

      1. On a pale mouse*

        I work in the grocery store and I feel you! My particular peeve is people who are trying but clearly not thinking, because they come up to my counter and then pull down the mask to talk to me. Grr, I get it, it’s hard to talk through some masks, but you are defeating the entire purpose!

      2. Herding Butterflies*

        LW5 not much to add here except a vote of support! I’m in a high stress job that Covid has made worse. I’m so burned out it’s not funny. So, like you, I’m looking to ‘step back’ and look for a lower-stress, back-of-house type of job in my industry so I can regain my sanity. Good luck with your application!

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I saw a guy at the pharmacy the other day who was yelling at the staff that he didn’t need a mask because he ‘had the right to not believe in viruses’ and my word did the cashier look terrified. Luckily the pharmacist stepped out and told the guy to go away and send someone else to get his prescriptions if he couldn’t behave.

        Frankly, front line staff need hazard pay. Lots of it. I don’t blame anybody for wanting to get out of the dangerous jobs (anything involving the general public in great numbers!).

        1. Observer*

          Poor cashier! I’m glad the pharmacist intervened.

          I was listening to a school head talking about all of the precautions they are taking in reopening. Most of their student body is coming back, but one parent expressed reservations because they were concerned about the mask mandate (they think that masks are a bad idea.) The principle sais (I’m paraphrasing) “I didn’t argue because you talk from here till the end of time and it not going to make difference. I just told them that these are the guidelines to the Health department and that’s what are going to have to do.”

          I don’t know what the parent did in the end, but I liked the approach of the principal. It takes a lot of the oxegyn out of the argument. Sure, it didn’t convince the parent that masks are a good idea, but nothing the principal was going to say was going to make a dent anyway.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I do like the ‘I don’t care about your personal opinions, these are the rules and we’re following them’ tactic. I’ve noticed some of our local schools taking that stance and did wonder if they’d had parents coming in trying to ‘debate’ matters.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              My child’s school has taken the approach of “if you do not wish to have your child wear a mask, we will place you in the online learning from home cohort” no ifs, ands, or butts.

              (They are providing a special mask for one grade – because the mask is required to allow a deaf member of the staff for that grade read lips of his students.)

        2. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

          I’m shocked (and happy) the pharmacist intervened. Usually I end up having to tell our patients to leave when they’re threatening us or being abusive.

          But yeah, that behavior is the norm now. I’ve been called every name in the book for just asking people if they have a mask when they come in without one (I’m in a state where they’re mandated inside businesses). One woman got right up in my face and yelled at me and her son pulled her away from me, thankfully, because I wanted to shove her away from me so badly.

          I’m at the point where I’m like “No mask, no service.” Like come on, y’all. We’ve been masking since MARCH. This is not a new mandate.

      4. Ellen Ripley*

        I work in retail and last week when I had to ask a woman and her son to wear masks, she replied “I’m not sick.” I think I managed a reply along the lines of “the executive order in our state doesn’t care,” but a) how do you know? and b) if you are, you better the heck not be in my store walking around with or without a mask.

        People, man.

        1. LW 5*

          Exactly. I am just enforcing state mandates and trying to keep myself, coworkers and clients well. I can’t tell you how many times I have come down with a cold or flu and had no clue where I got it . Don’t remember being around anyone “sick”. Obviously things are contagious before people are visibly unwell.

    2. FuzzFrogs*

      Previously Alison has told people who were trying to get out of toxic workplaces that, when asked the same in interviews, that they could say something very similar to your professional atmosphere point. I’m looking for a non-public job right now as well and was going to rely on a combination of that and a good ol’ “Well, things came up, so I’m looking for something new.”

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I left my previous firm due to the company directors being arrested for financial fraud, not paying me for months, and putting me in a position where I had to endure physical threats from clients. I’ve learnt to not say all that in interviews when asked why I left!

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          If what happened was at all public (in the sense that it was on the news/in the papers) it could also be a case of, well things are a bit chaotic at “X” firm.

          (Happened to a relative once – all they had to say was my last position was at company X, no one asked for a further explanation.)

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            It was a high court case in the end and I spent several weeks hiding from the press. Pretty high profile!

  18. Mx*

    1 In my job, we sometimes have extra shits offers on FCFS basis. I’ve never heard of anybody getting upset because someone else got the shifts before them. It happened to me a few times, I was disappointed but certainly not mad at the coworkers who got the shifts. Your coworkers are strange IMO.
    I don’t think there is any similarity with taking all the brownies. You don’t have to make any effort to get the brownies. But you have to make an effort to earn the money from the extra shifts. It’s not like you were just given extra money in exchange of nothing. You need a job, you take it when it is here. Don’t feel bad about it.

    1. doreen*

      Of course the coworkers could be strange, but think whether their their reaction also depends on how many shifts we’re talking about. It would be strange for them to be mad if there were three shifts and OP took two – not so strange if there were 40 shifts and OP and one other person took 35 of them.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      The amount of effort of working a shift versus eating brownies is not the point. It’s the fact that they’re being greedy.

    3. WellRed*

      If you are going to mangle the brownie analogy, I would argue then that the effort comparison should be to equate eating the brownie to the act of signing up for the shifts, not working the shifts.

    4. Mobius 1*

      So are we not going to address the darkly fortuitous nature of the typo in the first sentence, given the choice of analogy in the second paragraph?

  19. Ellena*

    LW 1 seriously, you should be looking a bit farther than that. Just because you do not expect any interaction with your colleagues NOW, that doesn’t mean they won’t happen, like Alison very well explained.
    And what happens once YOU need them to do you the kind of favor that you are declining now – and all that they have as a memory of you is “that selfish person who took all the overtime shifts back in Corona times and wouldn’t give any up despite being asked”? I personally wouldn’t do you any favors.
    Show solidarity, especially in those hard times for everyone.

  20. EventPlannerGal*

    OP1: you’re under no obligation to give up any of the shifts as you did follow the instructions, so in that sense you’re covered. I do think how this is going to come across depends a lot of how many shifts we’re talking – did you just sign up for a few more than expected, like, 8 out of 30 available shifts when everyone else would have taken 3 or 4? Or did you sign up for like 20-25 of 30 shifts? Or every single shift with a good time slot and leave everyone else with the shitty overnight shifts? It’s hard to say whether this is just a bit annoying or a real AH move as is, because it could go either way.

    I’m not sure if giving up any of the shifts will actually help at this point anyway, but I think you do need to be gracious about it. Your letter has kind of a “why are they complaining, I did nothing wrong and don’t care what they think” tone to it, which may make you look like a bit of an asshole – and even if the people kicking off about it are in different departments, people in your own department are still going to be forming their own opinions. If you decide to keep the shifts and get asked about it, I would try to aim for more of a “I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you guys hadn’t seen the email yet” (or whatever, insert your own pacifying excuse here) “I will need to work the shifts I signed up for but next time I’ll try not to jump the gun” type of vibe.

  21. Slinky*

    OP3, I’ve had to do this before, too. Although it seems odd, it’s highly likely to be a bureaucratic thing, as it was in my case. The letter I wrote was very similar to what Alison suggested, basically: “This letter is to confirm that I’ll be concluding my position as Jr. Llama Inspector on November 30, 2020 and beginning my new role as Sr. Llama Inspector on December 1, 2o20.” I never heard any comments on the letter; they just needed it for my HR file.

  22. Caroline Bowman*

    OP1, a lot hangs on exactly how fast you did respond, was it nanoseconds after the mail arrived, and also, did you seriously take virtually all the extra shifts or just a good proportion?

    If you didn’t respond within seconds, but rather in hours and took a good chunk but not all (as in, there are others who also took some), I’d say that *at most* you could maybe give back 20% of what you quite fairly took. NOT because it’s owed or you have done anything wrong at all, but just for good PR. That’s what I’d do, but then, perhaps money is a big and pressing concern for you at the moment and if that’s the case, then take what extra money you can while it’s going.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      I know right? I’d question the judgment of a supporter for a team that routinely gets caught cheating.

      1. Bostonian*

        Lol I came to say the same thing as justabot, and this is exactly what I’m referring to! And you might want to check out yourteamcheats dot com. ;-)

    2. Brooks Brothers Stan*

      If my doctor walked in wearing a Patriots mask I would instantly ask for a new one. #BillsMafia

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      There are several of my co-workers who are wearing sports team masks (mix of NFL and MLB). Other than a bit of ribbing, nobody has really cared as long as it is being worn correctly. However, we do have different rules for the customer facing staff than the back of the house staff (which my coworkers and I are for the duration).
      Those rules are just no masks with slogans/writing or with anything vulgar in the pattern.

      But – GO BRONCOS!

    4. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

      I’m not a football fan, so I’m not personally scandalized by Patriots masks. Yankees or Red Sox, though? That’s another story.
      -Orioles fan

      (LET’S GO O’S!)

  23. Harper the Other One*

    OP1 – commenters above have covered the team-related reasons why you might consider giving up some shifts. I’d like to take a different angle and talk about why that might be better for YOU. It sounds like your department is already working hard – from the way you phrase it these are maybe even extra overtime, on top of overtime you’re already doing. That is a LOT to take on and could easily start to affect your physical and emotional health (personally) and your work performance (professionally.)

    I say this from recent personal experience; I’m refraining and in November last year I took on extended hours in my current job plus coursework for my new field. That ended at the end of February and I am still recovering. I pushed myself really hard and I’m paying for it.

    Perhaps this doesn’t apply to you, but since nobody else has mentioned it, I wanted to make sure it was an aspect of the decision you were aware of.

  24. EPLawyer*

    #4 – I don’t find the need for masks to look professional odd. But then I’m a lawyer about to go back to court for only the second time since we re-opened. Anticipating this, when I was making a ton of fun masks to give away, I made a very plain, solid colored dark blue one. It goes with all my suits. because I tend to wear black/blue/gray. It is what it is. Law tends to conservatism. Because I want the court to focus on my case presentation NOT my cool mask.

    1. UKDancer*

      I think that makes sense. I mean I have a range of fun masks that I wear when I go to the shops or the hairdresser.

      I wouldn’t wear them for work because I want people to perceive me as focused and professional. I have 2 plain, smart masks that I would wear for work (a black one and a blue one).

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I agree. When I first read the letter, I was thinking the company was being unnecessarily strict with the dress code. And while I do think that “no brown” is a weird place to draw a line, the strict policies with the dress code are probably based on people pushing the boundaries, leading to the policies being very specific.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        Nah, this place is pretty well known, and there’s articles about how the dress code is the one set up 100+ years ago and basically unchanged, at least for men. It’s not about edge cases, they just don’t see this as an area worth changing.

    3. Delta Delta*

      I recently appeared personally in court before a couple different judges for some emergency stuff. One judge wore a mask with lovely green leaves and another wore a purple plaid mask. It occurred to me that it was no different than seeing the knot of a judge’s tie or collar of a blouse (there’s one who I see sometimes who wears a big floppy bow – we call her The Bow). None of them were outrageous and they all seemed in keeping with being professional but also slightly personalized.

      And you’re right – we on the other side of the table want to be focused on for our cases, not for our attire. I have a couple plain ones (for patterned clothing days) and a couple patterned masks for plain clothing days. But nothing flashy or printed or sports teams or anything like that.

    4. On a pale mouse*

      I don’t either, except I feel like there could be more latitude for masks that are only worn from car to office. Require them to be inoffensive, sure, but hot pink should be fine… I’m now wondering how many employees had to buy expensive new winter coats to work there, because I bet they’ve got rules on those too. (I have a coat with 3 colors on the outside and red plaid lining that even I think is ugly and I don’t know what I was thinking, and I can’t imagine it would be allowed at this place.)

    5. Lily Rowan*

      I think the key piece of the question is that it’s the requirement for when they are on-site but NOT working. When they are working, they have job-provided masks.

      So on that front, I think it’s basically the same as a rule that says you can’t work out over lunch and then walk through the hospital in your workout clothes.

    6. Elspeth Mcgillicuddy*

      It definitely isn’t surprising that a place with pages of tie standards and a disdain for brown suits would find happy puppy masks a bit declasse. They obviously fall wildly out of the aesthetic! Actually, I’m mildly surprised that they lowered their standards even when cloth masks weren’t widely available.

      Also, if you have paid for a wardrobe’s worth of suits, $20 worth of masks is hardly going to be the breaking point for your wallet.

      It’s a stupid rule, but not stupider than the rest of the dress code.

    7. DataSci*

      I’ve seen ads for coordinating tie / mask combos. I think at some workplaces (those that require ties) that could be a neat way of having a professional-looking mask without it being plain black. (I’ve been full-time WFH since early 2019, well before everyone was, so have no need for a “work mask” myself. Or a tie.)

      1. un-pleased*

        That sounds pretty snazzy. It would be fun to me to see who matches their masks and their ties.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’ve got a matching dress and mask, and a matching top and mask, and while I haven’t worn them in to work yet, I’m planning on it.

  25. LQ*

    #3 Maybe you’ve done this already, but ask someone in your company who has been promoted if this is standard policy. You said you’ve asked people but in this case asking folks who are in the situation you are in is what you want here.

    Where I work you can take a leave of absence from your old role while you go into your new one, which essentially holds onto your job as an open slot, which can be good or really bad for hiring. If you’re limited and can’t backfill your previous boss can’t put a new permanent person in until you give up your slot, so you have to relinquish your spot so the boss can backfill with a permanent person. This is gvt and union so a whole lot more rules and they are all written down, but not in a way that makes any sense. So my go to is always find someone who has done this thing and ask them.

  26. VanLH*

    OP4: I would really, really love to know the name of the institution that thinks brown suits are unprofessional and that the employee manual needs several pages to describe a professional tie. Somebody that works there has way too much time on their hands.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      I worked briefly as a temp for a company that had a very strange, overly particular dress code and things like acceptable ties had way too many words involved. It almost seemed like any time someone wore something that fell outside the letter of the code that upper management decided they didn’t like, they would add a line to the dress code that dealt with that very particular thing. It really was bizarre. I ended up just wearing black pants and a solid white, grey or black blouse every day I worked there. It was just the easiest way to avoid having it be an issue.

  27. Delta Delta*

    #4 – it seems like the easiest thing to do is to get a supply of plain, black (or navy) masks and then those are your “work masks” the same way you have work clothes and play clothes. For a place that has as strict a dress code as this place does, it doesn’t seem unusual that they’d want their employees to follow that while on premises. And it’s probably easier to say “plain, muted color” than to have to get into whether a particular pattern is okay while another isn’t. It may also help with patients to help know who works there and who doesn’t. A person who, even off duty, and has the overall appearance of someone who probably works there, might be able to help a lost patient or someone with a question.

    1. UKDancer*

      I think I’d probably just do this. While I consider this excessively detail obsessed by the company and don’t understand why they want to be so restrictive, I’m not sure I’d waste my capital arguing. I think there are other things I’d complain about rather than this. I tend to prefer to save my fire for the things that are really problematic.

      This is just irritating. I’d buy the masks and not argue.

      I would probably wear a plain mask for work anyway.

    2. EventPlannerGal*

      Agreed – it’s definitely a strict rule but if it’s in keeping with the rest of their dress code policies then shrug. Ideally I think you should have multiple cloth masks anyway so you can make sure you have clean ones to hand while the used ones are being washed, so it doesn’t seem like much of an imposition to ensure some of them are plain. (I know a lot of people here are big fans of novelty masks but having some plain ones seems like a sensible idea anyway.)

    3. Rachel in NYC*

      I have to wonder if this isn’t to limit issues with statement masks. A couple of retail companies have run into problems where they’ve come out and told employees- you can’t wear a BLM mask but other employees were allowed to other message masks- whether political or team support. It would have been simpler for the company to just say- all masks have to be solid color or small patterns (so then you don’t run into issues with large patterns like confederate flags or thin blue lines, etc…)

      It seems ridiculous but I get where the company is coming from.

      The brown suit thing is just strange.

      1. Observer*

        Please. You don’t have to insist on only dark colored solid masks to avoid this problem. All you need to say is “no words or logos”. Done.

    4. Asenath*

      And if you’re stuck – some masks are reversible. My first supply of re-usable masks came from a small business that was making as many as they could weekly and selling random colours/patterns rather than spend time filling specific requests. But, as they pointed out, one side was always plain, and you could easily use that as the outer side and the patterned side as the lining. However, not all the masks I bought were in muted colours – one is hot pink and one bright yellow. The rest would fit a strict code, being navy or black on one side. But to get back to the issue, I would expect that a place with a strict clothing code might well have a strict mask code, especially if they’re dealing a lot with people from outside the office, like a hospital would. In a situation where you can be seen as representing the employer to the public, the employer can be more strict. Me, now, I generally worked in back offices where no one cared what you wore, but I know there were other roles even with my employers.

      Just ordered a few spare masks because local rules will require them in all indoor public places (with some minor exceptions) Monday.

  28. Anonymous At a University*

    “ My guess is that they don’t feel like arguing the fine points of what is and isn’t okay so they’re choosing instead to just lay down really broad rules and in the process being too heavy-handed.”

    Dollars to doughnuts this is what’s going on. My employer has rules about cloth masks for employees on campus that basically say “plain colors or flowered patterns only, nothing else.” That just happened last week, and it happened because of a Zoom meeting where they announced the mask rules as “please be plain, no words or offensive patterns,” and got 15 questions in the Zoom chat almost immediately: “Who decides what’s obscene?” “What about my mask that looks like a cat mouth with blood dripping down it?” “I spent a lot of money for my mask with [naked celebrity] on it, I’m not giving that up!” “What about my mask that says ‘F- [community organization]? I really believe in that!” “Wearing any mask I like is part of my academic freedom!”

    It was ridiculous, and I think their new rule probably didn’t need to be so iron-clad, but I can see why it was. OP’s employer might have decided to just head things off at the pass.

    1. Rachel in NYC*

      rofl at “I spent a lot of money for my mask with [naked celebrity] on it, I’m not giving that up!”

      really? someone thought that was work appropriate?

      1. Let's Go Anon*

        It turned out when they clarified that it was a cartoon “celebrity,” so maybe they did honestly think it would be work appropriate. But yeah, someone naked hanging out on your face even if it’s animated naked body parts is really…something.

        1. Anonymous at a University*

          Whoops, these two comments in the thread with “Let’s Go Anon” were me! Forgot I still had that name typed in.

      2. TurtleIScream*

        A coworker of mine has a mask with specifically male body parts printed on it. There is no official dress code, so she feels secure in her ability to get away with it. The conversations around the appropriateness of such masks are…interesting.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer*

      My sister has one that says ‘if you can read this you’re too (expletive) close’ on it which I think is hilarious but she does realise it’s not work appropriate at all :)

      (Her 8 year old son’s skull faced mask is making me jealous though. I’d love to wear one of those to an interview…)

    3. KayEss*

      “Wearing any mask I like is part of my academic freedom!”

      Oof, war flashbacks to my time in a university marketing/communications department…

      1. Let's Go Anon*

        Our university administration has sometimes tried to get us to do things that were a violation of academic freedom, like saying we shouldn’t teach global warming as being real because it’s “controversial,” so I can see why people were trigger-happy. But no, wearing an obscene mask is not academic freedom.

      1. Anonymous at a University*

        I think because they’d already let essential employees who were working on the campus during the summer wear masks with flowered patterns, that was their “default not one solid color” example. Stripes would probably not get someone penalized, but they did warn people they weren’t going to argue back and forth about things like the naked celebrity mask.

  29. CupcakeCounter*

    These systems lead to so many problems…I have STORIES from when I was in college and worked a job with this type of system. End result was management had to institute a rule change and I lost my apartment.

  30. Deliliah*

    LW #1 – I’m one of the few people here who’s going to tell you to keep your shifts if you don’t mind any blowback from co-workers. I spent many years in environments where things were on a First Come, First Served basis. There was one spot where we had to sign up to cover holidays. I’d gotten screwed my first two years by not moving quickly enough/deigning to the senior employees and got stuck working Christmas. So when that list was posted, I snatched up Memorial Day and one of my senior coworkers bitched about how that was the day he ALWAYS covered. Welp, should have moved faster, my dude. I’m not covering Christmas again.

    My parents worked blue-collar jobs where vacations/overtime, etc were given on a FCFS basis, so it’s really all I’ve ever known. If you wanted something, you needed to grab it right then because there was always someone behind you who would grab it without a second thought.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I think this is where my opinion comes from too. I’ve encountered the ‘no you can’t book time off for your birthday because it’s during school holidays and all the parents got there first’ several times so had to resort to putting my request in the instant the holiday calendar was issued.

      But on the other side, if one person booked off all the public holidays because they got in first I’d call that selfish beyond belief. And I dunno where the OP actions fall on that scale.

    2. Annony*

      I think it really depends on how many extra she took. If we go back to the brownie analogy, if you get there first there is nothing wrong with taking the best brownie. But if you take five brownies it is going to cause ill will when some people get none.

      1. Colette*

        Or to use the vacation analogy, it’s the person who comes in on January 2 and books Dec. 20-31 off, as well as every other major holiday.

    3. biobotb*

      I don’t think your answer is really different from the majority of commenters’ answers. It seems to be a consensus that the LW isn’t obligated to give the shifts away, but shouldn’t be surprised if not being generous in this instance causes them problems later, which is totally in line with your advice not to give them back if they don’t care about blow-back.

  31. cwhf*

    I’ll just point out that anyone in the medical field knows exactly who that “world famous medical center in the US” with that specific dress code is. I know things are meant to be anonymous but unfortunately their dress code is somewhat unique.

  32. Lizy*

    #4 – I would just like to state for the record that the only acceptable sports face mask is the Chiefs as the reigning super bowl champs. (And with any luck and Mahomes not getting injured, the champs forevermore.)

    That is all.

  33. designbot*

    I’m a little late to the party, but OP3, I’d want to first get the promotion in writing! If it’s only been offered verbally, this is a chance to say well if we’re doing this so formally, then I would never resign one position until I had signed paperwork with the next job, so please send me that paperwork and then I’d be happy to reciprocate!

  34. Metadata minion*

    Same here. My office doesn’t tend to end up with this sort of thing, but if we had any recorded tutorials or something like that with my boss or coworkers’ voices on them, I might listen to them to make things feel slightly more normal.

  35. Bostonian*

    But it’s unlikely that anyone is going to be scandalized by a bright color or a Patriots mask.

    Of course this letter gets published on the day that the video footage gets thrown out in Robert Kraft’s prostitution case.

    On a more helpful note, I can’t say I’m surprised that a place with a strict dress code would extend that to the kind of masks employees would wear as they enter/leave work. Yes, it’s kind of a pain to have to potentially buy additional ones, but to me that seems part of the deal with a place that has a strict dress code, kind of like having to buy those nice clothes.

    Maybe if they’re OK with the plain disposable ones, they can provide some for the employees? My employer will provide a mask to anyone walking in who doesn’t have one, but I imagine the hospital would need more with more people.

    1. JustaTech*

      If the employer doesn’t want he staff wearing disposable masks outside of the building to avoid it looking like the staff is snitching essential PPE, I totally get that.
      But why not just supply everyone with two reusable masks in “approved” colors?
      Heck, why not supply everyone with reusable masks with the company logo? I tried to convince my company to do that a couple of months ago, but nothing came of it.

  36. Lucette Kensack*

    I had a major health crisis early this year and was a patient at the medical center in #4. I have to admit that the formal dress code worked on me. I was afraid, and had been bounced around my local hospital with no diagnosis for weeks, and finally landing at World Renowned Medical Center made me feel for the first time that I was going to be ok. The fanciness of the buildings (art collections to rival museums; pianists at work on gorgeous grand piano) and the formal dress of the doctors contributed to the sense that I was somewhere with the resources to take care of me. (And I was right! Thanks, head and neck surgeons!)

    1. WellRed*

      And yet, per the letter, the institution did not want to be seen as providing masks for employees. Which I don’t understand to begin with and now find unconscionable. But hey, pianists and the Mona Lisa!

      1. WellRed*

        Which is not to say there’s no value to professional dress. I still cringe to think of the physician assistant who took my blood while wearing what can best be described as a purple satin prairie dress.

      2. Lucette Kensack*

        Well, it sounds like they didn’t want to give the impression that they (or their staff) were using precious medical-grade masks for personal use. That makes sense.

        But, yeah, you’d think this could be an opportunity for some branding — give everyone a nice navy blue cloth mask with the logo on it. Even my nonprofit employer provided one (cloth, non-medical grade) mask for every employee. (On the other hand, this medical center — like most — had significant furloughs when they, overnight, canceled all of their elective procedures, so they were likely in resource-conservation mode.)

      3. biobotb*

        They didn’t want it to look like the employees are using medical-grade masks when not practicing medicine, thereby potentially taking away protective gear from a medical setting. The letter states that when employees arrive at work, they switch to a work-provided medical-grade mask, provided by the employer. The employee-provided cloths masks are only for wearing while arriving/leaving the workplace, not while at work.

  37. Anonymous at a University*

    OP 1, one thing to think of is how you would feel if you hadn’t been first on the jump and someone else got a lot of the shifts, then refused to share them when you asked for some. If you would feel that this is selfish, then your co-workers probably feel the same way. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to share the shifts, but be aware that resentment and a certain reputation can build even if you are just “looking out for number one.”

    1. Granger*

      Agree! OP could have signed up for a few and added a note or sent an email expressing an interest in additional shifts after others have had a chance to sign up.

  38. Anya*

    Do I have to share my extra shifts with coworkers who want some?
    If it were cupcakes and not shifts, would you still feel the same way? Don’t be greedy, it will bite you in the ass.

  39. korangeen*

    I was in a somewhat similar situation as LW3 once. In my case, in order to be promoted I had to switch to a different contracting company. But I was still doing essentially the same job, with the same people, in the same location. So it felt weird to have to write a resignation letter, when I wasn’t even so much as changing offices. I see in a different comment though that LW works at a university and presumably isn’t dealing with contracting companies, so that’s even weirder, but I guess it is what it is.

  40. Granger*

    #1 Call it karma or coincidence, but your line of thinking frequently comes back to bite the person in the butt! If karma gets her chance, it’s very likely one of those people will be your supervisor one day. It sounds ridiculous, right? I work in a large city in a broad industry and I have personally crossed paths with people I hadn’t given a second thought to in a decade countless times and so often they are now a co-worker or key client or the spouse of a key stakeholder.

    Sometimes burned bridges are unavoidable, but please consider avoiding doing so whenever possible – if for no other reason but for your own self-preservation. This situation is far less problematic, but the decision to take a huge number of the available shifts and doubling down on that decision by rationalizing not wanting to return some reminds me of the OP this prior post (below) in how this kind of “story” takes on a life of its own and it can become how you’re defined by others for a very long time.

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