employee’s girlfriend comes in every day, using sick time for doctor’s appointments, and more

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

1. Employee’s girlfriend comes in every day

I manage a small independent pharmacy. We recently brought on a young pharmacist. There are usually only three of us working. The pharmacist’s girlfriend works from home now, and since April she has been coming in every day to bring him lunch. At first it was fine, but they started to be very affectionate towards one another. They don’t necessarily make out but they will kiss multiple times, which is extremely audible. One morning they got into a fight, and when she brought him his lunch they decided to hash their fight out in the pharmacy.

They never do this in front of customers, but I finally put my foot down and asked him to not bring personal arguments into the work space and to limit his affection with his girlfriend. His reply was that he’s a human being and he doesn’t have enough time when he gets home to work things out. His solution to the affection is that he and his girlfriend walk outside. He does not get a lunch break because he has to be on the premises due to regulations, so he is on the clock when they go outside, usually for 15-20 minutes at a time. I’m second guessing myself that my decision to confront him didn’t get the point across.

Responding to a request not to engage in PDA at work with “I”m a human being!” is … interesting. Are you seeing other maturity/professionalism issues with this guy? It’s hard to think there aren’t more.

Anyway, if he doesn’t get a break the rest of the time, it’s not outrageous for him to go outside for 15-20 minutes once a day (assuming that doesn’t violate the regulations you mentioned), but presumably you’d want him to do that when there’s an opening for it in his workflow, not when his girlfriend happens to show up. If it’s causing workflow issues, violating regulations, or otherwise having a work impact, you should explain that and tell him you can’t allow it anymore or that he needs to time it differently.

But aside from that, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that he can’t visit with his girlfriend while he’s working (whether they’re fighting or not, since he’s already shown his judgment to be so bad and the visits have been disruptive) and that the kissing needs to stop (a single peck on the lips to say hello or goodbye is not worth intervening over, but more would be). Tell him this isn’t specific to your pharmacy, that these are norms he’d find in most workplaces, and that because it’s become disruptive, it can’t continue. If he seems disgruntled about that, I’d be pretty concerned about whether he’s mature enough for the job.

2. Should I ask my staff to use sick time for doctor’s appointments?

As a relatively new manager — and in the COVID pandemic, no less — I’m wondering about how to navigate sick time. Background: We’re currently 100% remote. I have weekly standing meetings with supervisees; apart from that, I don’t require details on what they’re doing through the day. Our workplace usually has a ton of rules and red tape, but things do feel more flexible while we’re remote.

When I know someone is at a doctor’s appointment for a few hours (they let me know, auto-responder on, meetings canceled, etc), is it appropriate to ask them to use sick time? They didn’t originally document it as such, and I’m sure made up their work in other ways, but I’m struggling to find the balance between flexibility in the current situation, and enforcing workplace rules.

Are they getting all their work done? Are they working flex hours, where it doesn’t matter if they’re away from 9-11 because they work a few extra hours later in the day or at night? Is your sense that they’re on top of their work and overall working the total number of hours you’d expect in a given week? Do they put in extra time when the work requires it? If those things are true, you shouldn’t ask them to use sick time for a few hours at the doctor. It’s counterproductive to nickel and dime people like that, and it will make them much less inclined to put in extra time when the work would benefit from it. (On the other hand, if those things aren’t true, that changes the equation.)

In general, you should err on the side of being generous with people, especially around things like sick leave, which you want to be there when they’re actually ill.

You’d also want to know what your workplace policies say about this. Some workplaces explicitly require people to use sick time for doctor’s appointments — but even then, managers often exercise discretion about it and especially if people are working more flexible hours these days because they’re at home.

3. Should I volunteer to be laid off?

My company announced today that we’d be having an unexpected round of layoffs due to a downturn in our industry that we aren’t expected to recover from any time soon. They told us what the severance package is and it’s VERY generous. Like, I-could-afford-to-not-work-for-a-year generous.

Here’s the thing: I’ve been job hunting. Due to industry volatility, I’d really like to switch industries entirely, maybe go back to school, or look into something else. Either way, I’ve been applying for jobs and am wanting out of my current industry if I can find something more stable that meets my needs.

Would I be completely bonkers to let my boss know that if he has to make cuts in our department and if it’s between me and someone else, I volunteer as Tribute? My boss is a very reasonable, kind, and supportive individual. I would have NEVER dreamed of doing this with my previous boss because the retaliation would have been abysmal, but my current boss genuinely wants what’s best for his employees and doesn’t take things personally.

Should I give him a heads-up that he’s going to lose me eventually either way, or should I not say anything just in case it affects things down the road?

You can indeed tell him that if it’s between you and someone else, you’d volunteer to be chosen. He might be grateful to hear it, or he might tell you he wouldn’t want to cut your position if he can avoid it. But don’t tell him he’s going to lose you eventually either way; that can backfire in ways you wouldn’t necessarily expect. (For example, you’re not laid off but you don’t get the same raise you might have otherwise received since they figure you’re not sticking around anyway, or you don’t get good projects, or so forth.)

4. My job wants to bring me back, but my kids are still at home

I live in California and was laid off as of July 17. I have a fifth grader and a three-month-old. My employer sent me an email on August 7 with a document offering me my job back as a temporary rehire at a somewhat same position at the same pay for a short-term employment through November 30.

I know that if I decline the temporary job, I will lose my unemployment insurance. I have two children who I am the primary caregiver for. My fifth grader’s school is doing online learning from home this new school year due to Covid. I cannot get daycare for my newborn due to Covid.

Is there anything I can do to decline the temporary position and still collect unemployment until I can safely get daycare for my children?

Yes! New unemployment regulations passed this spring make you eligible to collect unemployment if your child’s school or day care is closed because of the outbreak. Look at your state’s unemployment website for info, but you should remain eligible.

5. An applicant called my coworker’s mom

I don’t have a question, but I do have a story that I think highlights that there is some really bad job hunting advice out there.

My colleague and I co-manage our department, and we are currently conducting interviews for a couple of positions. We are guessing one of the applicants (who is a recent college graduate) used LinkedIn to figure out that my colleague is one of the hiring managers, so she looked up his contact information and called him. Only, she didn’t call him; the number she found was his mother’s house. She also figured out his work email and sent a message stating that his number online led to his mother’s phone, then followed by asking for an interview.

We screen our online applications ourselves, and her qualifications did not even match the job description. When he told her as much, she argued with him and asked for an interview again. Thankfully she backed off when he declined and directed her to some online resources that would help her learn more about our field.

I know it’s hard out there for new grads, especially now! I wish I could send a message to everyone who has been told to be aggressive with hiring managers and let them know that tactics like this are very off-putting. And they can make our mothers angry with us. :)

Oh nooooo. There is no reason for a job applicant ever to look up someone’s personal phone number and try to call them at home. Ever — not even if they’re at the finalist stages of the hiring process, and definitely not just to ask for an interview. Whoever is advising this resides in the “gumption” circle of hell.

{ 380 comments… read them below }

  1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    OP3, I twice volunteered to be laid off. Worked out well both times. The first time, I quickly lined up another job and banked the severance. The second time, I used the severance to support myself when I started my own company and left big corporate life (hence the “Escapee” in my name).

    YMMV, but taking the severance, even in these odd times, can be liberating.

    1. Artemesia*

      I know a couple of people in horrific college mergers who volunteered to be cut so that junior faculty could retain their jobs. If you would like the severance and know you plan to leave, it would be such a decent thing to volunteer. I agree that never tell them you plan to leave.

      1. Jayn*

        This is SOP for my husband’s employer, they ask for volunteers when they’re doing lay-offs. Usually they get people who want to retire soon anyways.

        1. londonedit*

          It’s usually what happens in the UK, too. As a first option companies will often ask for people to take voluntary redundancy, which can avoid the need to make people redundant who don’t want to or can’t afford to leave their jobs, as well as avoiding the whole drawn-out redundancy process. I have a friend who took voluntary redundancy because she knew that the length of time she’d worked for the company meant she’d get nearly a year’s salary as a redundancy package, and that meant she could move to a new city and spend time settling in while looking for a new job.

        2. Asenath*

          It’s what we called “the package”, meaning that when layoffs are coming, the employer will offer a “package” (extra payments etc), often intended for the more expensive employees. So you can be offered a package and then either accept it or reject it, depending on the terms.

    2. DisorderedMess*

      LW 1 – – Yeah, no. He’s got a shockingly bad grasp on workspace norms, and frankly I’d be skeptical of his judgment in other areas. Speaking as someone who works retail pharmacy, you can do so much better. There’s a glut of pharmacists on the job market right now, so you’re probably spoiled for choice. So many RPh’s who work for the big box chains would love to get out of there right now (The flu shot targets are utterly beyond belief this year).

      1. Aphrodite*

        I’d be interested in hearing more about the big box experience but I am especially interested in your final sentence, DM, because I don’t understand what you mean by it.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Pharmacist with a sales goal.
          One hopes the stores are aiming for % of customers vaccinated (even if at the doctor )…but I fear they’re going to simply for the ones at THIS store signed up by THIS pharmacist.
          (It’ll backfire–I’m sure im not the only one who hates pushy sales pitches enough to take my business elsewhere.)

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            Assigning sale goals to a medical professional of any sort is horrific, and ought to be illegal. I have left more than one dental practice because they were constantly trying to upsell me. I have never gotten that from my primary care provider, but I would walk out in a second if I did.

            1. Cindy Featherbottom*

              We agree with you, Richard. The whole concept is disgusting to the vast majority of pharmacists (and has been made illegal in a few choice areas). Our flu shot goal is outrageous this year. I honestly don’t know when I’m supposed to have time to fill prescriptions or the various other tasks I have to do….

              1. NewbieMD*

                Cindy, many times I have stood in line at the pharmacy and seen the well trained and highly educated pharmacists checking out customers’ merchandise and being yelled at people because of wait time and thought, “Why in the world would a pharmacist go to work at a place like CVS, Walgreens, etc.)

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I know someone whose spouse is a pharmacist at Walmart, and supposedly the money and benefits are outstanding.

                2. irene adler*

                  Second this.
                  There’s a Walmart near me with a pharmacist who is unfailingly polite to everyone-even those who yell/complain. Always smiling. She’s wonderful! I gotta believe she’s snitching a few of the happy pills to always be so chipper. And I would not blame her one bit for doing so.
                  (I’m sure she’s completely ethical and wouldn’t really do this. )

            2. Perpal*

              We have quality goals, and perhaps “RVU” (relative value unit) targets, but not sales goals. Makes a lot more sense. (though what RVUs are and what the targets are are extremely variable and may or may not make sense. But generally tires to account for things you do that add value and justify your salary, beyond just raw $$$ in)

              1. Perpal*

                “We” being physicians in academic practice in at least one area of the USA, anyway :P Sorry first comment was so unclear.

                1. NewbieMD*

                  I’m in my second year of an Orthopod residency and our attendings have warned us about the huge amount of non-clinical work being a doctor entails. Not looking forward to that part!

        2. DisorderedMess*

          RPh stands for pharmacists, and with increasingly ridiculous flu shot targets and constant staffing budget cuts the most experienced pharmacists are going independent or hospital. My store is expected to do 3060 flu shots this year. During the two highest target weeks, it averages out to one flu shot every fifteen minutes.

            1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

              It’s ridiculous too. Up until recently, my insurance only covered flu shots at the doctor’s office, not at the pharmacy. So I literally could not get the flu shot at the pharmacy no matter how many times they solicited me. Why should that reflect poorly on the pharmacist’s “sales target”? It is baffling.

              1. mrs__peel*

                A lot of people get them free at work, too (which is probably the most convenient way for most people, since you’re already there!) It IS ridiculous for the pharmacist to be penalized for that.

          1. Clisby*

            I’m curious – when a pharmacy has one of these sales goals, how do they solicit the customers/patients? I get my yearly flu shot at a (chain) pharmacy, and the most I’ve seen them do is put a sign outside saying something like “Flu shot available. No appointment necesssary.” It’s not like I go to pick up a prescription and they start trying to sell me a flu shot.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              In autumn, I normally get it as part of the routine.

              “Any questions for the pharmacist?”
              “Want to get a flu shot today?”
              “Cash or credit?”
              “Please sign here…”

              1. Environmental Compliance*

                Same here – any time I picked up a prescription, I was asked if I wanted to get a flu shot while I was there.

            2. Mary*

              I was at a drug store and browsing in an aisle during vax season one year and a pharmacist came up to me unsolicited and asked me if I wanted one. It felt very pushy. (I work at an MD office. I get my shot there, from an RN!)

        3. Pomona Sprout*

          I was going to ask about that, too. I’m hoping it doesn’t mean something like quotas for how many people you can “sell” flu shots to, but afraid that it does.

          Pleas elaborate, DisorderedMess!

      2. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

        Not just flu shots either. My store also has ridiculous targets for shingles, pneumonia, tdap, and “other” shots this year too.

        1. JSPA*

          Maybe they figure that with enough people distancing for covid-19, they might as well skip their regular shots because they won’t be exposed? Which is not great reasoning (unless you are secluded entirely). Covid-19 (at least, the current dominant form) is more droplet / aerosol transmissible than originally assumed, but less so than a number of other viruses. But I imagine the big boxes contract for numbers of doses months in advance.

    3. Bippity*

      “Volunteering” to be handed a life-changing huge sum of money is hardly an “I volunteer as Tribute” situation.

      It makes me uneasy to say, “If my company is going to hand someone a gigantic amount of money, and it’s between me and one other person, is it okay if I volunteer to accept the Scrooge McDuck-like pile of cash?”

      Like… who WOULDN’T want a gigantic pile of money? I appreciate that perhaps some people would turn down money to prioritise longer-term prospects, but when there’s an extremely large amount of money involved it’s reasonable to assume that most people would want and be desperate to be the one chosen.

      Nothing wrong with wanting the money, but acting like you’re doing something noble in “volunteering” to take the money leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      1. SarahKay*

        Speaking as someone who has just avoided being laid off, due to someone else volunteering to go, I’d be very grateful to OP taking that bullet for me – and indeed I was very grateful to the person who volunteered.
        My payout would have been nearly as good as OP’s – but in this extremely uncertain time I’d like to keep the job I have, thank you. My skills are pretty transferable, so I hope I’d be able to get something else in the time the payout would allow, but there are no guarantees, and the social safety net in the UK is currently a sick joke.

      2. Cambridge Comma*

        I think in this economy there is a not inconsiderable risk of being out of work for more than a year, and OP would be being compensated, if generously, for taking this risk. The ‘tribute’ part I would understand to be lighthearted, but also that it is what OP would say to her boss, to whom she has to pretend to be sad/reluctant to leave.

      3. Caaan Do!*

        I mean, she’s not though, she’s using a well known pop culture reference as a tongue in cheek shorthand to describe her situation. By putting her name forward off her own back she is literally volunteering, not “volunteering”.

        I say go for it and like everyone else is saying, keep it close to your chest that you’re planning on getting out either way. My husband is about to be made redundant (we’ve known about it for years, not COVID related), and his redundancy pay just about covers a BA degree in a whole new field he has come to realise he’s passionate about, and would offer good job opportunities upon graduation. Sometimes life gives you your favourite sweet treat instead of lemons, why not take opportunities where you can?

      4. Seeking Second Childhood*

        It’s volunteering to take a financial risk–there’s no guarantee OP will get the job she wants in that time frame. A friend was job hunting for THREE years, he survived on short-term contract positions without health insurance.

        1. Mel_05*

          Yeah, this is a situation that could be amazing or awful. It’s not a given that things will work out.

      5. Blarg*

        She also didn’t say it was “gigantic,” just that she could live off it for a year. Gigantic and “could stretch the amount over the course of a year without going hungry while trying to find another job” are different things. I stretched some paid out leave and very small savings out over six months last year. It wasn’t spectacular but I made the rent while I looked for a new job.

        OP, be sure you know the tax implications and that the amount you think you’d need is actually what you’re getting. Good luck!

      6. OP3*

        OP 3 here. I was being a bit cheeky with the Hunger Games reference; I don’t think anyone’s going to pay me on the back for my huge sacrifice or anything :D. However, I did want to say that my company has done this before with similar packages and most people I know wanted to keep their jobs. It’s going to be even more so now that our industry has tanked and no one’s hiring. My skills work across industries and I’ve also considered going back to school, so I don’t feel as worried about that. However, a lot of people would prefer to retain their jobs at the company.

        But, really, the Tribute thing was just me being funny. I don’t personally view this as a great sacrifice. However, a lot of people would, so my thinking is just that if it’s between me, who will be fine either way, and someone who doesn’t want to leave…pick me.

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          That’s the right attitude. If it’s good for you To leave, OP3, and bad for your co-workers if they leave, volunteering benefits all of you.

          Good luck!

        2. ThatGirl*

          I feel like at this point, most people use “I volunteer as Tribute!” as a jokey “yes please pick me for this actually-great situation” reference. Obviously in the book/movie it’s a serious thing, but I don’t see it used that way in real life. Most of us got it. :)

      7. EPLawyer*

        You might be getting a huge pile o’money but you are also losing out on health insurance. If you are the health insurance for your family, you can’t afford to be laid off, no matter how huge the severance. Because COBRA while theoretically available is unaffordable.

        1. Anchee*

          I took a severance package at the end of 2018 and it included health insurance for the term of my severance. No changes to coverage or my premium. It doesn’t necessarily mean you lose it.

      8. Esmeralda*

        Really? While this severance package is a lot of $ (and perhaps includes benefits? if insurance isn’t included, that can be a big bite out of the payout), OP would be out of a job in the worst economic recession in nearly a century, trying to find another job in a new industry (which could be risky in itself, if OP lacks experience). Versus keeping the current job, and continuing to look for a new position while employed.

        Taking the severance is not risk free. And it’s not very nice to impugn others’ motives.

      9. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Well, the biggest issue I can see is that in the US, health insurance is tied to employment. So if you are someone with any sort of chronic health condition (or a dependent who has a chronic health condition), being laid off will lose you benefits and I cannot imagine “a gigantic pile of money” big enough to offset that.

      10. kt*

        For a concrete example from my family, think of the airline industry. If you are thinking, eh, I enjoyed being a pilot/flight attendant/whatever but I’m thinking of moving into acting/technical writing/social media manager/spiritual advisorship… then a buyout makes sense. If you’re like, I love my job and I want to keep working in the industry long-term! then the buyout doesn’t make sense, because if you leave you lose your seniority. You may be willing to wait out some lean years in the industry so that five years from now you’re a senior person who can have three-day layovers in Bali.

      11. AngstyAdmin*

        Oh, boo on you. This is severance pay, not a golden ticket. No matter how good a deal it may seem to you, its only an option because it’s been determined to be an even better deal for them. Otherwise, they’d be setting themselves up for a mass exodus of their top-tier talent, aka Most Likely To Find Another Job Quickly Anyway.

      12. a good mouse*

        Also some people do like their jobs and wouldn’t be able to find something similar. Even if offered a years worth of severence, I wouldn’t give up my job if I could help it because it’s a hard industry to break into or get back into, especially since it’s been affected by COVID.

      13. JSPA*

        If other people agree, they can also volunteer. Not everyone wants the hole in their CV or another disruption in their life — not for a years’ severance, even.

    4. Hazel*

      @Escapee: Did you get the severance as a lump sum? I was laid off in April, and my old company was paying us as if we were still working (2x/month). I had to notify them when I got a new job so they could stop the payments. And fortunately, I started my new position about 2 weeks before the severance ran out.

      I took Alison’s advice on resume writing, cover letter writing, and interviewing. That made such a big difference in many ways, but the best part for me was the increase in confidence.

      1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

        Hazel, it worked differently each time. Company 1’s payment was a lump sum while Company 2 paid it out over time. Where my experience was different than yours was that the Company 2 payout needed to be completed without regard to my finding another job. Don’t know if that was contractual or due to local employment laws where I was based.

    5. juliebulie*

      Huh. I volunteered for a layoff once (while a mass layoff was in progress) and was scolded for insubordination.

      Maybe because I explained my reason for wanting to be laid off (an annual event for which I worked 60-80 hours a week for a month in preparation which was barely acknowledged with a thank you).

      Anyway, they didn’t like that and I got a new job soon afterward.

      1. juliebulie*

        And it wasn’t for a year’s worth of severance. But it was an applicant’s job market at the time.

    1. Cameron McCabe*

      Haha! Nice one!

      But I get the feeling it would only lead to more trouble. (“she argued with him and asked for an interview again…” apple – fall -far – tree…)

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Right? Applicant’s mom would show up in person at the office the next day armed with elementary school report cards and soccer trophies to show you exactly what you are missing out on by not interviewing their baby.

        1. Regular going Anon to protect the innocent*

          My MIL writes an annual letter to a private high school that did not select my SIL when she was 14 with a record of her achievements that year to let them know how wrong they were. My SIL is now 45.

          1. Sara without an H*

            Wow. The admissions staff at the high school probably find that hugely entertaining.

            1. HR Jeanne*

              I would wait for that update every year. Probably none of the people who rejected her are even there.

          2. Ashley*

            OMG If I worked at that school I would be looking forward to the letter’s arrival as if it were Christmas day!!! How insane is that LOL

              1. anonymous 5*

                I’m envisioning something like the dramatic reading of the “real breakup letter sent from a real person” (i.e. someone dramatic-read a middle schooler’s breakup note) that went around the interwebs a few years ago. ;)

            1. GreenDoor*

              I’m my office’s de facto historian so I’d’ve assembled them in a binder with a nice cover and introductory page explaining the backstory and everything.

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

            My dad once called my school and talked with the principal about me. At one point I could clearly hear something among the lines of “she’s a bit dumb, but a good kid overall”. Thanks, Dad.

            1. Anon to protect that teacher*

              My dad got dragged into a conference with the principal and the AP chemistry teacher at my high school during my sophomore year of college. The teacher was CONVINCED my brother had cheated somehow on the test (and two friends – it was a big meeting), and at the start the principal asked, “are you sure I can’t convince you this is a mistake?” to the teacher. She was convinced it was her duty to bust these boys (16 year olds) for “cheating”.

              My dad had been tutoring them after school one day a week because they were struggling with some of the content. He brought his professional licenses with him. Yup, they were getting tutored by a Chemical Engineer – of course they were going to get better grades than she was expecting. Oh, and the Principal knew of my dad and his profession – his ranch was right by a facility that had my dad’s name on it (waste water treatment plant for reuse purposes).

              That chemistry teacher wasn’t allowed to teach AP Chemistry the next year, they asked a different teacher who was willing to believe her students.

          4. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            Hahahaha, this is hilarious. Does she update it annually with new achievements?

          5. ampersand*

            Noooo! Seriously?! This is the best worst thing ever. I’m guessing if you know, then your SIL definitely knows? How does she even handle that?

            1. SarahKay*

              You’ve got to hope that it’s now reached the point for SIL where it’s just a good story to tell, along the lines of “You think your mother is bad?!? Let me tell you about mine….”

              1. ampersand*

                I hope the SIL gets to vet the letter every year before it goes out. “Mom, you forgot to mention that my llama got best in show at the llama grooming competition this year!”

          6. Alli525*

            I hope this isn’t an indication of a terrible MIL (and is just a weird quirk of hers) because this is amazing as an isolated incident. I’ve seen some hilariously deranged emails over the course of my career and I think I would, like Ashley commented above, wait for your MIL’s letter every year like Christmas.

            1. SeluciaMD*

              In fact, if there is any way at all this letter could be shared with the AAM commentariat each Christmas, that would be absolutely marvelous. I’ll pop the popcorn!

          7. bluephone*

            In high school, I applied for this fancy Ivy League school nearby and really wanted to go there, but they rejected me outright. Luckily, the school that I wound up at was most likely the better pick overall. Then, after graduating from said “backup,” I wound up working for that original fancy-pants place. And one of their reasons they’re such a popular employer is because they offer some really sweet tuition benefits for employees–including graduate school classes!

            So while I may have not been good enough to give them money in exchange for a humanities Bachelor’s degree, I was more than happy to let them pay for my humanities graduate degree over the course of like 6 years (I was taking only 1 or 2 classes per semester, some semesters off, to not exceed the benefit caps).

            Revenge is a dish best served while establishing your career :-)

  2. EPLawyer*

    I am trying to figure out why the young pharmacist in #1 doesn’t get a lunch break. Presumably he eats since his girlfriend brings his lunch. So what is that? Does he eat while sorting pills (eww), or talking to patients (double eww)?

    Yes you can clamp down on the PDA at work, and the personal relationship. but is there some way to give this guy a lunch? I find it hard to believe pharmacists don’t get a lunch break.

    1. Talia*

      Actually, judging by the pharmacists I know and the ones whose blogs I used to read, not getting a lunch break as a pharmacist is actually *extremely* common, especially at corporate pharmacies.

      1. Enough*

        I rarely see more than one pharmacist on duty at the one I normally use. The one across the street will have at least 2 but they have way more business.

      2. Diahann Carroll*

        Wow, that’s crazy. The pharmacists at my local Walgreens take a half hour break for lunch and have a sign that asks people to come back when their half hour is up (their lunch schedule is also clearly outlined on said sign and online).

        1. RabbitRabbit*

          It’s on our local Walgreens’a automated ‘pick up your scrip’ calls as well. I wonder if Walgreens got busted at some point and are now making a point to be obvious about it?

          1. Pharmgirl*

            It’s definitely a state law in some areas, and they may have opted for uniformity in all their stores.

          2. SeluciaMD*

            My understanding is that some areas are unionized and the Walgreens with those practices were forced to do so by union agreements – but it’s not company-wide. So those that do are a bit of a unicorn in the pharmacy business.

          3. Lizzo*

            The messaging probably has more to do with the fact that they don’t want people showing up during the scheduled lunch hour expecting to pick up their prescriptions, and all of us customers who only pick up prescriptions on occasion need to be “retrained” around this new schedule. I know I showed up during lunch hour at least twice during the first couple months of the new hours.

        2. ThatGirl*

          Same at our local Mariano’s (owned by Kroger) and Target (CVS pharmacy) – there are signs and it’s on the recording.

        3. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

          That’s a very new thing for most states. My pharmacists just started getting lunch breaks a month ago. Before that, they would work 8-12 hour shifts with no break.

          1. bluephone*

            Yeah I think it’s definitely regional and store-based (used to work in retail pharmacies, also related to retail pharmacists. Mix of big chains and independent stores). If Big Chain has slashed labor to the bone and only has one pharmacist on duty, then that pharmacist is not actually taking their break (#notallpharmacists yes I know). There may be a sign telling customers that the pharmacist is unavailable from 12 to 12:30 PM and the pharmacist may have even packed a granola bar in their lab coat. But if 25 new scrips come in at 11:58 PM, 5 customers walk up to the desk for a flu shot, an insurance problem, they think they’re due for a refill but they don’t remember the medicine, the prescribing doctor, why they take it, etc (so very common), they want someone to unlock the toothbrush case and the CVS floor staff are nowhere to be found, they’re on 5 high blood pressure meds and want to buy a box of the “behind the counter” sudafed, etc…that pharmacist isn’t going on a break anytime soon. Or at all.
            This is also assuming that the pharmacist has a technician and cashier on duty. In all likelihood they only have one or the other, at best.

            1. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

              That reminds me of the reason some helplines run by smaller UK charities close at 4pm. It’s because if the helpline closed at 5.30pm, there would inevitably be those incoming calls at 5.25 (when the staff are getting ready to grab their coats) for problems so complex it would take at least 90 minutes to understand the issue and discuss next steps.

        4. Lizzo*

          Same at our local Walgreens here, however the lunch breaks (scheduled, whole pharmacy shuts down) are relatively new…maybe as of early last year?

      3. Language Lover*

        That’s interesting. The corporate pharmacy I go to has a very clear sign at the drive thru and in-store walk-up window that the pharmacist is on lunch from 1:00 to 1:30. Period.

        It stays open and techs can hand out pre-filled orders but if you want something filled or need to talk to the pharmacist, it can’t be at that time.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Similar at ours – the shop part is still available for OTC painkillers and bandages or whatever, but for that protected and advertised half hour no actual pharmacying can be done.

        2. Mystery Bookworm*

          That’s what I’m used to as well. Does this vary state to state? Most of my experience would be in CA (and now in the UK, although my local chemist here has multiple staff so they’re open through lunch).

        3. Liane*

          The Walmart and Kroger pharmacies here do the same. Pharmacists are legally the only ones who can do certain important tasks–answer questions about prescribed drugs, check the counting done by the techs, so it makes sense.
          The Walmart ones are closed for anything related to prescriptions; they have a shield pulled down over the pharmacy counter windows. Both have those signs. Kroger also has signage that emergency drugs aren’t dispensed when there is no pharmacist. (In our state, pharmacists have limited prescribing ability, like a doctor’s office delays renewing a prescription where missing dosages is serious.)

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            That is brilliant. Something to keep in mind for the next political town hall.

        4. doreen*

          I suspect corporate pharmacists are more likely to get breaks than those in independent pharmacies. In my state, chains often have a sign that says “pharmacy dept within” . I thought it was odd and I looked into it – there are two ways to license a pharmacy. It can be an area of a store with locked gates ( “dept within”) or the whole store. If it’s the whole store, the entire store ( not just the pharmacy) must be closed when the pharmacist is not present.

          1. Pharmgirl*

            My experience has always been the opposite – so I find this letter odd. Every independent pharmacy I’ve worked at has been more generous the corporate chain ones, and I suspect the chain pharmacies that provide lunch breaks are doing so because of state law.

            1. doreen*

              Independent pharmacies in my experience rarely if ever have two pharmacists working at the same time. ( That might be different in your area) And since they don’t have the “pharmacy dept within” sign , or locked gates to separate the pharmacy form the rest of the store, the entire store (not just the pharmacy) would have to close for the pharmacist’s lunch break. Target may not have a problem closing the pharmacy counter for 30 min , but closing the entire store at an independent is a different issue . Although my state mandates meal breaks, there is a specific exception for a single-employee shift which includes not only shifts where there is a single employee working ( on employee at the gas station) , but also shifts where there is a single employee of a specific title ( one pharmacist even though there are other employees)

              1. Pharmgirl*

                Target pharmacies don’t close for their lunch breaks – the pharmacist just steps away. Tasks that can be done without a pharmacist are still competed, but those requiring a pharmacist – including selling a prescription – must wait. It would be similar in an independent pharmacy. They can remain open to sell OTC products, but not prescriptions. State regulations generally stipulate that if you step away you are confident in the security of the pharmacy area in the hands of your techs.

                It’s different in different areas of course – But all the independents I’ve worked at have been more staffed (pharmacist and tech) than the chains I’ve seen.

        5. PhyllisB*

          Our local Walmart closes their pharmacy from 1:30-2:00 for a lunch break. Same with our Winn Dixie pharmacy. Don’t know how CVS/Walgreen’s handles theirs, because I rarely shop there.

          1. paxfelis*

            Our local Walgreens just put up a sign saying the pharmacy was closed for lunch for half an hour. It startled me because it never occurred to me that a pharmacist having a lunch break wasn’t mandatory.

            1. Clisby*

              Ours does the same. It doesn’t mean the pharmacy is closed – there’s always a tech there who can give you an already-filled prescription. It just means the pharmacist isn’t there to answer questions, start filling new prescriptions, etc. (Or, for all I know, the pharmacist is somewhere in the back eating lunch and available in case of some emergency.)

              1. Diahann Carroll*

                See, and the one I go to, the techs aren’t even there – when they close, they close. The sign is put up on the counter and no one is available for you to speak with (and I say good for them).

        6. The Rural Juror*

          I wonder if it means they are on a lunch break, they’re just not allowed to leave the premises because of the rules. It’s one thing to say “You can’t take a break” and very different to say “Your break is from 1:00-1:30 and you’re welcome to use the employee lounge.”

          1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

            We ran into this when we employed minors in a different field. Our minors could not work alone: they had to have an employee in the same department the whole time they were working. Usually this wasn’t an issue because they were scheduled to work when a supervisor was present, or on a short shift where their adult buddy was also working a short shift and didn’t legally qualify for a meal break.

            But every once in awhile, we’d have a weird situation where a 17 year old was working a shift with a full-time employee working an 8 hour shift who had to go on break, and also the department supervisor was out sick that day, and we’d have to scramble to get that 30 minute meal break covered, and sometimes that meant telling the full-timer they couldn’t leave for their break. It sucked but that was the law.

      4. Eeeek*

        At both of the Walgreens I use they actually have a sign that says no pharmacist on during X time due to meal break. Maybe they should do something like that!

      5. DisorderedMess*

        At the store I work at for a big retail chain, the pharmacists grab lunch in bites in between verifying prescriptions. At mine, they work 13 hours straight and get out of the pharmacy for brief bathroom breaks and that’s it.

          1. WS*

            No break for pharmacists is legal in the UK – pharmacists have a specific exception. They are supposed to be paid extra for not having that brak, though.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            I’ve seen it in most independent and small pharmacies in the UK. While Boots might shut down the pharmacy for an hour, the small ones can’t afford to I guess.

            1. UKDancer*

              It depends. My local Boots has multiple pharmacists so they can take a break and cover each other. In contrast the small independent pharmacy has a break from 1-.1.30 so the pharmacist can have lunch. The shop still functions but you can’t get the prescriptions.

              I still prefer the small independent shop because I find the service better. The pharmacist also does travel vaccinations and he has the gentlest hands I’ve ever known. I hate injections but I would always go to him because I trust he won’t hurt me.

      6. yala*

        That’s wild. I can’t suss why people wouldn’t get a lunch break, even if you do have to stay on premises. Don’t you have to give employees a lunch break if they work a certain number of hours?

    2. Lioness*

      Not the pharmacist, but I’ve been in and currently in a position that doesn’t get a “lunch break”. The way it works for us, is that we don’t get an “uninterrupted 30 minute break”, however, we can still eat lunch during our downtime in the breakroom, we just can’t leave the building, and have to be ready to work if need be, I’ve been able to finish my lunch fine during downtime.

      It’s just if it’s not uninterrupted, and you can’t leave the building, you get paid during it (at least in my state, I don’t know labor laws in other areas or if this is federal.)

      1. Tech*

        We are extremely slow, he has plenty of time to eat, that’s never been an issue. It’s a nine hour shift and he will be the only pharmacist on duty, so due to regulations we asked if if nine hours would be okay to which he agreed. The lack of professionalism is the issue.

    3. Madam Scrub*

      Medications cannot be dispensed if the pharmacist is not on duty. My local Walgreens posts the hours of the lunch break because during that period of time, you cannot pick up prescriptions. OP1’s workplace has likely decided that rather than shutting down for a period of time, they just do not provide a lunch break.

    4. Anon 4 This*

      Hospital pharmacist here. I don’t get a lunch break either, because for the bulk of my shift, I am the only pharmacist on duty and legally, the technicians are not allowed to do anything without my approval. So yes, I do eat while I’m verifying orders and checking medications and all my other duties. In retail, it’s highly unusual for pharmacists to have an actual lunch break; some states require it, but most don’t.

    5. tired*

      In my pharmacy they pharmacist gets a 30 min lunch break but is not allowed to leave the premises (as we can not hand anything out if the pharmacist is not there).

      1. The Rural Juror*

        I use a small local pharmacy that happens to be neighbors with a deli sandwich shop in a strip of businesses. I grab lunch sometimes at that deli, and I’ll often see him sitting at the tables between the two businesses. This guy is the happiest pharmacist I think I’ve ever met (he seems to have a happy disposition in general). He’ll be out there at the table, munching on a sandwich, waving at his customers that recognize him. He’ll sit at the table closest to the pharmacy, which is actually right up against the window…so maybe he’s still technically on the premises. I see his technicians at the deli quite a bit, too. They’re lucky to have a little spot to go to that’s so convenient. Some of them even bring their own food but sit at the table (though the deli doesn’t seem to mind).

    6. KAZ2Y5*

      Hospital pharmacist here. This is one (of many) reasons I would never work retail again. The pharmacist cannot leave the pharmacy unattended and what makes a pharmacy unattended is defined by the state board. Some states would let you step outside your building or to the bathroom on the other end of the store and still let the pharmacy be open, but in other states you could get written up for that.
      It took a lot of pharmacists rebelling and lots of complaints for the large corporations to relent and close the pharmacy for 30 minutes/day so their one pharmacist on duty could have a break.
      So if they don’t get a lunch break they are scarfing their lunch down back in a corner and praying for a slow few minutes. And if they are busy (and starving) they are eating in between checking rx’s.

      1. EPLawyer*

        Just WOW. I am amazed at this. how to ensure screw ups happen. Yeah I miscounted Mrs. O’Leary’s blood pressure meds due to low blood sugar. Her blood pressure got out of whack, she was disoriented, forgot to bring in the bucket of milk and the lantern. Next thing you know, Chicago burned down.

        This is not a healthy situation. Plus if he can have a lunch break, maybe he will meet his GF elsewhere so she doesn’t have to bring his lunch to work. Two birds, one stone.

        1. Pharmgirl*

          Unfortunately this is the reality for many retails pharmacies – on top of more and more work and less support staff. Osco just laid off many pharmacists – so many stores where there were 2 pharmacists on duty have to do the same work with 1.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Let’s all remember that often doctors, especially in hospitals, don’t get meal breaks either.

          It’s just another epic failure for healthcare to take care of their own, even high ranking, employees.

          1. bluephone*

            And nurses :-( Like, yeah, the hospital policy and/or state law may *say* that they’re entitled to a 30-minute break during an 8-hour or 12-hour shift or whatever, but the actual reality is that there are 1-2 nurses (max) on a floor with 12-20 patients, the hospital hasn’t hired orderlies or CNAs (real orderlies and CNAs) since like 2011 because that CEO’s yacht won’t buy itself and if it’s night shift then there’s sure as heck no other support staff around. So who is checking patients’ vitals, doling out meds, dealing with family members, calling doctors for med orders, *lifting* patients (who are often combative), dealing with the ER turfing as many patients upstairs as possible because they don’t want these cases screwing up their own metrics, CHARTING ALL THE CHARTING, leaving messages for daytime shift support staff (i.e. social workers), calling the (totally a joke) security because a patient’s family member is threatening both nurses with a plastic knife they smuggled in, etc etc?? The 1 or 2 nurses on duty. And those nurses ain’t taking their 30 minutes at the cafeteria for a meal break :-(

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              And heaven forbid you get sick and need to call in, then all hell breaks loose, like you murdered someone’s family member in front of them. Unions even have built it in that you can be terminated if you don’t give a certain amount of notice before your shift. It’s an awful, archaic, barbaric system.

              And let’s not forget that hospitals are taking up collections to buy PPE during this pandemic because they don’t want to chew into their profits any further.

    7. Akcipitrokulo*

      This – isn’t it against the law not to have breaks?

      Even if not… isn’t it dangerous to be attended by a health professional who has worked all day without a break?

      1. Cindy Featherbottom*

        It varies from state to state. It’s not required in mine and we can only leave the pharmacy for X amount of time without having to close and lock it up (which is frowned upon). At one of my jobs, the shifts are 12 hours with no break. It’s a LONG and mentally draining day

      2. blackcat*

        Certain professions are exempt from all sorts of laws. Like you can pay teachers as little as you want–even below what works out to minimum wage–on a salary.

        1. The Grey Lady*

          Why? I understand why you can do that with restaurant staff, because allegedly their tips make up the rest of their pay. But what’s the logic with teachers?

          1. Clisby*

            Teachers’ pay can vary widely from state to state and from school district to school district, but I don’t know how common it would be for a teacher not to make minimum wage.

            In my school district (Charleston, SC) the lowest pay for a certified classroom teacher (bachelor’s degree, 0 years’ experience) is $38,897. That’s for 190 days of work, so a little over $204 per day. School day is 7 hours; I’m assuming a teacher works at least 9 hours a day when you take into account coming in early and staying late. That would be $22+ per hour. Yes, I know teachers work at night, on weekends, and during the summer to get ready for the next school year, but even if you cut that $22/hour in half, it’s well over minimum wage.

            Charleston is one of the wealthier school districts, so I looked a much poorer one to compare.

            Lowest pay for certified teacher: $36,241 Roughly $190/day, or (at 9 hours/day) $21+/hour.

            1. bluephone*

              Not a teacher but know a bunch (they’ve taught in various private or public schools, middle school and high school, etc). I’m guessing the salary can also vary by how well-off the school district is, and/or how strong your local teacher’s union is? The teacher’s unions around here are not to be trifled with–even the parents in the wealthiest districts are afraid of them. But I’ve heard horror stories about teachers with toothless unions, who are hung out to dry on like, every little thing.

              1. Carlie*

                I knew a teacher who qualified for welfare assistance while a full-time teacher. Definitely depends on the district.

            2. PhysicsTeacher*

              You’re looking at public schools. Private schools, especially religious ones, often pay fairly significantly less than public (but probably still more than minimum wage, at least for their contracted hours. Maybe not for the extra hours they most likely do).

        1. ampersand*

          This made me laugh, but agreed. This is one of those things you don’t want to think about for too long…

      3. HR Bee*

        Pharmacists would be considered Salaried, Exempt employees by the FLSA. Exempt employees are excluded from a stupid amount of laws: breaks, overtime, breastfeeding/pumping, etc… etc…

      4. NewbieMD*

        You’re describing my Orthopedic Surgery residency to a T! And it speaks to the awesomeness of Alison that I manage to squeeze in the time to never miss a column :)

      5. Woah*

        They aren’t even given bathroom breaks. A pharmacist friend switched to a significantly lower paying job in order to work for a pharmacy that gave bathroom and lunch breaks. After regular UTIs it was worth it for her.

      6. Swordspoint*

        Where I am (Ontario, Canada), pharmacists are exempt from the standard labour laws. So you can be scheduled to work your 8- or 10-:or 12-hour shift with no break. I typically work my 8-hour shift without eating anything— and I’ll maybe take one bathroom break, two if it’s quiet. If patients came to the pharmacy and the pharmacist was on a lunch break and unavailable to speak with them, people would lose their minds.
        I used to think we were valued healthcare professionals… I don’t anymore.

    8. Love and kisses*

      OP 1 – the regulations state you cannot operate or dispense without a pharmacist on site. If you choose not to have a backup plan (ie pay for another one to fill the gap) or if you choose not to have a half hour gap in the day when you don’t have a dispensing pharmacist and advertise to people not to come during this time, then this is on your business model, not on your pharmacist. (ie, if you are not prepared to take a financial hit for not dispensing for half an hour).

      It sounds annoying your end but it’s equally annoying for any human being that they get no break at all because the business owner is too cheap to either ask customers not to come for half an hour or to pay for a fill in during that time. If you had a business model that allowed a half an hour break or paid for a fill in then you probably wouldn’t be in this situation as your employee would have a designated time to sort his stuff out. Seems like you want to have your cake and eat it too.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I don’t think though that it excuses bringing their girlfriend in every day for smooches and/or fights. Maybe work out the cost of having the pharmacy shut down for a regular advertised 15-30 minute slot a couple of times a day (less impact on people wanting prescriptions if it’s a short closure) and also tell him that work is not for your love life. That’s what home is for. If you’ve got no time at home for your love life then that’s a balance you need to sort out yourself, not drag work into it.

        1. SeluciaMD*

          I mean, I agree with you – but I still think Love and Kisses point is well taken. I realize we don’t know what the financial position of this small pharmacy is, but it does seem that the solution proposed is reasonable (and humane). Because while “I’m a human being” isn’t justification for flouting business norms and boundaries, it’s a perfectly good justification for needing time to eat and go to the bathroom.

      2. Dust Bunny*

        It’s still not a reason for the guy to be fighting with or loudly smooching his girlfriend on the job, daily, though. I get a lunch break but rarely leave the building (there is nowhere to eat near my job) but there is no way I’d think it was OK to have my boyfriend come hang out for 20 minutes every day, even though I’m off the clock during lunch.

      3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        It’s probably unrealistic to have a “break” pharmacist that’s not a second person on the entire or a split shift. Who would agree to travel to the business to get paid for 30 minutes of work? I don’t think they’d be able to fill that kind of part-time job. It’s more realistic to shut the pharmacy down for 30 minutes which is why most follow that model if they are small and have lunch breaks.

    9. Pretzelgirl*

      I worked at Walgreens in college (granted this was like 15 years ago), but I believe the one I worked at, was large enough to have 2 pharmacists. So they just took turns taking a lunch.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I get my meds at a grocery store pharmacy and they always have at least two people there. It’s a chain with a reputation as a decent employer, though.

    10. Secret Squirrel*

      I work at a two-year college, not a pharmacy. For many decades, none of the faculty or staff got a lunch break, and it’s not illegal; there is no requirement that workers get a lunch in an 8-hour shift.

    11. kittymommy*

      When I was a pharmacy tech at a chain (this was in the 90’s) lunch breaks for the pharmacists were entirely dependent on how many we had there. Typically if it was a slow week or a weekend there was only one so the pharmacist ate in the back of the pharmacy. That way if we needed him to sign off on a script (that couldn’t wait) we could but he was also able to “hide” from customers.

    12. Pharmgirl*

      Pharmacist are considered exempt, and unless the state board requires it, many companies will not allow a lunch break. If there’s no pharmacist, there’s no one to take MD call ins or patient questions, prescriptions aren’t checked, and, depending on the state law, prescriptions can’t be sold. A lot of patient’s don’t like this, so to prevent losing business the company will try to make it impossible.

      I used to work for Target pharmacy, and they were one of the few that voluntarily provided breaks for their pharmacists. They automatically turned the phones off, and I had a full 30 minutes to myself. When CVS bought the Target pharmacies, they tried to go away with that. There was a lot of push back, but the lunches really only stuck in states where it was required. And even then you were highly discouraged from taking a full lunch. It’s always a working lunch where you can be interrupted at any time.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        My husband used to work for CVS (the mail-order Rx business), and they are TERRIBLE to their employees. I am not surprised at all to hear this.

        1. NewbieMD*

          I know that the one near me is perpetually understaffed. I hear other customers ranting and raving about how long it took them to answer the phone or to get an rx filled and how long the drive thru lane is and I feel so bad for the staff because I can see there just aren’t enough pharmacy employees for what needs to be done.

          1. bluephone*

            Oof yeah, CVS is notorious for grinding up new pharmacists and spitting them out to the point that the money is usually not worth the burnout (to say nothing of the fear of making a huge mistake that could kill a patient or get your license revoked).

    13. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It rings like the fact that convenience store employees, who are regularly the only ones there aren’t eligible for lunch breaks either.

      Since the pharmacist has the license, they have to be on the premises if they’re handing out meds due to the requirements.

      So that’s why some pharmacies have adopted a mid-day close to have a lunch break built in. Especially with the rush on pharmacies with the pandemic.

  3. Diahann Carroll*

    OP #3 – definitely volunteer to be laid off since the package is that good. Think about it – you’ll be able to continue your job search for nearly a year without having to worry about finding something, anything, because you need money, which means you’ll be able to thoroughly vet job offers and won’t just jump on the first opportunity that comes your way. You’ll also be well rested by the time you do find something new and can get a fresh, energized start.

    1. RB*

      I had a six-month severance at one point, so I waited until that was about to run out and started my unemployment claims. In all, I was unemployed for 7-8 months so I often got asked about that period during interviews. I always felt kind of lame saying, “well I had a generous severance package.” Some hiring managers even asked what I did with all that time off. I wished I had something impressive I could have said, like “painted the entire house, inside and out” or “hiked around Europe for six months” but I didn’t really have any good stories. I recommend being ready for this question in interviews if you end up being off work for several months.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yup. OP said she was thinking of going back to school – online classes are available and she may even have enough in the severance package to pay for a course or two while job searching.

      2. Forrest*

        I think employers who baulk at people who are out of work for a significant period in 2020-21 are going to look seriously out of touch.

      3. Zuzu*

        I work in recruiting, and when I ask about a resume gap, “a good severance package” is absolutely a valid answer in my book! Who wouldn’t enjoy time not working?? Usually the answer is something along the lines of the candidate had a nice severance package, was able to enjoy some time off, and is now focused on the job search. There are those people who travel the world, or finally renovate their kitchen, but if they lounged around eating bon bons for six months, good for them.

    2. MK*

      Except that the OP’s position might not be one of those scheduled for elimination, and if she volunteers she sends the message that she is looking to leave, which might mean she is the first to be laid off at a later round. There are risks. Also, I would make sure about the severance package, don’t rely on gossip about how generous it is.

      1. Bippity*

        It’s a bit crappy to screw over the other person, who presumably would be equally overjoyed at being offered an enormous pile of money, while acting like you’re performing some kind of noble sacrifice.

        1. Cambridge Comma*

          In this economy I don’t think anyone is thrilled about redundancy, no matter what the size of the payout.

          1. SarahKay*

            Not to mention that the information about the redundancy risks and payout package is being shared to all of OP’s co-workers. If by some chance the co-workers feel that they would rather a large payout now, they’re perfectly capable of volunteering to go themselves.
            OP#3 isn’t secretly stealing someone’s big chance here, and as I said in an earlier comment, I for one would be very grateful if a volunteer went instead of me.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              This. Many people would prefer to keep their jobs no matter how nice the reported severance package is (there’s no telling when you’d get a new job and their individual financial situation may not be as rosy as the OP’s to where the money would last a year). OP volunteering to be let go from a job she’s planning on leaving anyway instead of someone else is a kind and noble thing no matter if she also benefits from doing so. I mean, we don’t say that doctors aren’t heroes just because they also collect pretty sizable paychecks in exchange for their services.

              1. The Grey Lady*

                Agreed. It’s a nice thing for OP to do so that someone else who wants to keep their job can do so. And if others want to volunteer to be laid off, they can go for it as well. That way, those who want to keep their jobs can do so, and those who would rather leave now and have some money in the bank while they job search or do some online classes or whatever can do so. That’s a win-win to me.

          2. Venus*

            I’ve been through this, and those who were already looking to leave volunteered to take the package, and those who needed job security were relieved they kept their job. The generous severance package works well as a way of making layoffs not too painful, if the company is lucky and has enough volunteers.

        2. snowglobe*

          They are not screwing over the other person – anyone who would be overjoyed at getting the severance package has an equal opportunity to speak to their manager about their willingness to be laid off.

        3. OP3*

          Hey, Bippity, I responded to your other comment above as well, but I don’t think I’m performing some noble deed. The Tribute thing was a joke that I couldn’t have dreamed would be taken seriously. However, I know that everyone’s different and a LOT of people would prefer to keep their jobs. A package this large is awesome, but it will hardly last forever and excludes a lot of benefits people want like 401K marching, etc. And, besides, even if I do tell my boss, I’m not forcing his hand. If they do this the way they did last time, everyone gets let go on the same day, so I’m not cutting in line so to speak. If my position is needed, I’m not going to kick and scream that I wanted to go. But if he’s sitting there thinking, “It’s between OP3 and Andy and I just don’t know which one”, I could make that decision easier.

          Anyway, I would appreciate it if you stopped painting me as a wannabe martyr in the comments. I was just using a book reference that I thought was funny. I make jokes a lot IRL, so it bled out in my letter.

          1. Joielle*

            FWIW, I think Bippity was the only one who didn’t get the reference. Everyone else seems to understand that it’s a good thing to volunteer to be laid off if it works for you, so people who would prefer to keep their jobs can do so! Good on you, OP, I hope you get the severance package of your dreams and find the perfect job in a different industry.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            FWIW, I think “I volunteer as tribute” is pretty much used exclusively in tongue-in-cheek ways like you did. It would be very odd to use a pop culture reference like that in an actually very serious situation I think!!

            It also seems to me that a company that offers a generous severance package and announces it to the employees may do that specifically hoping to get some volunteers? I don’t really know how that stuff works but I know at my company when people are laid off they are weirdly secretive about the severance (which I assume means it isn’t great!). So while I would try not to come off too eager, I think it seems completely reasonable to suggest to your boss that if cuts are made in your department you wouldn’t be devastated if it was you.

        4. Colette*

          Most people don’t consider keeping their job to be being screwed over? A big pile of money (i.e. a year severance) is good, but some people don’t find a job in a year, even without factoring in the global pandemic. The OP has specific situations (i.e. going back to school/changing industries) that make it a better option for her than her coworkers. It’s unlikely they’d be overjoyed to lose their jobs.

        5. Rose*

          This is just so blatantly wrong. Not everyone would be happy to be laid off. I love my job, my boss, and the people I manage. I love our company, and it’s actually managed well. We are getting stock options that I think are going to be equal to my whole salary when we go public. Unless I was given about five years severance, I would be devistated to be laid off. Replacing a great job can take years and several tries. And many people are just risk averse. This is a crap time to be job hunting, and people worry about resume gaps.

        6. Washi*

          If another person wants to be laid off, they can volunteer too, and management can decide. It’s not a first come first serve thing.

          This is the first time I’ve seen NOT being laid off and getting to keep your job being described as “screwed over”!

        7. Clisby*

          I don’t see this as screwing over the other person – it might be that the OP volunteers and the employer declines, because the OP is more valuable to them than someone else .

          Maybe I’m wrong, but since they’ve announced there will be layoffs and what the severance package will be, I speculate that they’re indirectly inviting people to volunteer.

        8. biobotb*

          Please explain how the OP would be screwing anyone over? If having a job at that company is so terrible that one would feel “screwed over” by NOT getting laid off, nothing is stopping that person from just quitting. Or volunteering for the layoff themselves. Plus, just because the OP may volunteer for a layoff, doesn’t guarantee they’ll actually get laid off.

      2. Venus*

        If they are so critical that they aren’t laid off even when they volunteer, then LW likely won’t be laid off in a future round. It is a risk, yes, but in a well-run organization the risk is very low.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Thank you. If OP uses Alison’s wording when volunteering, she should be fine. And of course, I’m sure the OP knows to double check sources and make sure the severance package really is as generous as it’s being reported before volunteering to give up her job.

          1. OP3*

            The source is the company itself, so I should be good there. I’m still mulling over wording and whether I’ll even talk to him. My boss is really excellent and I know he won’t take it the wrong way; I’m just on the fence still.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              If your boss is great, if you do decide this is what you want, you could probably just lay your thoughts out on the table (without mentioning the whole you were already looking part). Report back and let us know what you decide!

              1. Anne of Green Gables*

                I agree, I’m not really seeing a downside to letting your supervisor, who you know is kind, know that you’d be ok if you need to be cut. It’s still their decision to make .

                Not quite the same situation, but in 2010 my employer laid off 1/3 of the employees. Those who were close to retirement were *really* upset that they were not given the chance/choice to retire early and by doing so lessen the overall number of people who were laid off.

                1. Clisby*

                  I can see that. When my father’s company was going through some financial struggles, before laying people off, they offered an early retirement package to older employees. My father was only 2 years out from retirement, and the package was good enough that he happily took it. I’m sure he’d have felt terrible if he had been kept on and younger people making less had been laid off. (Not that he was a saint or anything – I’m sure he wouldn’t have volunteered to retired 15 years early.)

            2. Sparkles McFadden*

              You’re being very careful and sensible. I’m sure you’ll make a sound decision.

              I did volunteer once. I was completely sure I’d thought everything through only to be told “No, you are in a critical position. You cannot volunteer.” Then we all pretended that never happened.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      I spent 4 months on gardening leave once (they paid me but I wasn’t allowed to enter the building) after volunteering for redundancy and spent it playing computer games and reading so many books. Still look back on it as one of my best times :)

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Another thing to keep in mind…a year sounds like a lot of time, but the first time I was laid off it took me a year and a half to find another job and that wasn’t during a pandemic. Not saying that’s the norm, but OP shouldn’t assume that everything will happily fall into place just because the severance would last for a year.

      1. Another freelancer*

        Agreed. Don’t get me wrong, the severance pay is incredibly generous (I got two weeks from my last job). However, it could take quite some time for OP to find something new, depending on the industry they want to work for, where they want to work, etc.

  4. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #5 – as AAM often says “Don’t listen to your parents as to job hunting”… this person probably is taking some bad advice from someone.

    Funny thing – a few weeks ago, I read a story of two people – young professionals, working side-by-side. I almost cried reading the article.

    One guy had lost his job – but due to networking – he knew someone at another place, he was hired within a week-10 days, etc. and never skipped a beat. His co-worker was still out after two months – but – her father was assisting her on resumes and cover letters. That’s OK – but – without a network, you’re behind the 8-ball.

    Young adults / recent grads may not have a network in place – so, on the hiring employer side of the desk, you’re going to see some odd things. Keep in mind that the applicant may be desperate, and desperation can lead to job-seeking tactics that might seem “properly aggressive” to the applicant but especially annoying to those entrusted with doing the hiring.

    1. MK*

      I can understand following bad advice out of desperation, what I don’t get is being obtuse about it. If you do something like looking up the hiring manager’s home phone number and when you call them they stonewall you or sound annoyed, what is the thinking behind arguing with them? No matter how desperate you are, you cannot believe you will intimidate a hiring manager into an interview.

      That being said, I think hiring managers should be more blunt about squashing these practices.I get they want to be kind, and it’s not always easy to respond correctly in the moment, but e.g. in the letter ‘s case it would be best to tell the candidate that any phone number she found online is not intended for candidates and she should use the channels required in the ad for hiring, not look up her application and tell her she isn’t qualified.

      1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

        “What is the thinking behind arguing with them?”

        Is this gumption article so out of touch? No, it’s the hiring manager who is wrong.

        1. No Sleep Till Hippo*

          Come for the gumption, stay for the Simpsons quotes. You’ve made my day, Brooks Brothers Stan.

          My first thought was, How appropriate that terrible gumption advice just never seems to quit.

      2. Luke G*

        That was my thought- If I was bold/desperate/inexperienced enough to try the “call the manager’s personal phone number” gambit, and THEN realized I had called his mother, I would be so mortified I’d probably try to forget that company ever existed. I would NOT then “helpfully” inform said manager that I was the one who bothered his mother and argue with his decisions. The call could charitably be described as a misguided attempt at being bold and standing out. The followup argument is the boggler.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

          Sure, but someone who thinks it’s okay to basically stalk a hiring manager is NOT going to be embarrassed at the fact that they actually called that person’s mother, which is why she doubled down and found his email and argued about the job.

        2. M*

          Same here. Even if in some desperate fever-induced moment, I had hunted down a hiring manager’s personal phone number and got his MOTHER, I might email him, but only to withdraw my candidacy. There’s just no coming back from that. I cannot fathom doing what that candidate did. I’d be too embarrassed.

        3. LunaLena*

          I think I can see this job seeker’s perspective, even though I completely disagree with it now. 15+ years ago, when I first entered the Adult World of Working, I remember seeing a lot of articles about Gumption and employers testing potential employees with trick questions. Many, many job sites had articles about how you have to be aggressive to show you really want the job, which will impress employers and show initiative. Some specifically mentioned finding out the hiring manager’s email and emailing your resume to them directly instead of going through the standard process – it would make you stand out, and show that you cared enough to do your research! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the job seeker in OP5’s story got this kind of advice x100.

          As for the trick questions, I specifically remember reading articles in Reader’s Digest and other credible sources that big companies like Microsoft often threw in “creative” questions to see how well a candidate could think on their feet. Or that they would deliberately leave in a few typos in the job ad to test a candidate’s attention to detail and willingness to point it out. If the job seeker in the story was given bad advice already, I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that, once she found out the number went to the wrong address, she thought a) it was a test and speaking up about it would mean she passed and would be granted an interview, or b) it was an honest mistake and the hiring manager would be so impressed that she found the mistake and was courageous enough to point it out they’d think “this is the kind of person I want on my team!” and grant them an interview. Option b is, unfortunately, substantiated by any number of TV shows and movies, which I personally think influence the way people act a lot more than they realize it does.

          I’m ashamed to say I followed and believed a lot of this advice back then. I had figured out that my parents’ advice was outdated but didn’t know where else to go for good career advice, and the articles I read made sense to me – if I could just stand out with gumption or some kind of gimmick, employers would take a closer look at my resume and see what a great candidate I am! Makes sense, right? I cringe now to think of some of the things I did, but it also reminds me that I too was once that young and dumb, and how easy it is to follow bad advice when you don’t have the experience to tell the good from the bad.

          Lastly, re the arguing, some people think that they can argue their way into anything. Again, unfortunately, this is substantiated by a large number of TV shows and movies, especially the ones where a character gives an improvised inspirational speech and immediately gets the crowd on their side. My husband is currently in college and says he sees this a lot with the traditional 18-22 year old students – they think that if they just argue with the professor and explain why they failed their test or didn’t do the assignment, their professor will change their grades (reminds of me of that old letter about the interns who tried to change their dress code, actually). They are genuinely surprised when it doesn’t work and don’t know how to cope with accepting the consequences of their actions. I’m not trying to throw an entire generation of people under the bus here, because I know not all young adults are like that and people like this exist everywhere and are of all ages, but I do wonder if there’s something in our culture that is subtly influencing more people to act like this.

          1. Sparkles McFadden*

            Sadly, the “gumption approach” doesn’t always go away with experience, and you really cannot do anything about the “Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer” people.

            I once had to fill a position for a technical support position that required in-depth knowledge of what the users did on a daily basis outside of using the software. (Think someone designing tools for a Llama Groomer to use.) HR did a screening and gave me several candidates. One was long time Llama Groomer Manager who had no technical experience whatsoever. I did include him in the process as the HR rep was so insistent, but was underwhelmed to say the least. The applicant attempted to evade the first technical question by handing me “letters of recommendation from important people in the industry.” The second technical question (a typical “Tell me about a time you dealt with this sort of issue” introductory question) was met with “I always had staff that did that for me. That would be too low level for someone like me to handle. I’d just have some staff member deal with it. Delegation is important.” The interview went downhill from there. I ended it by telling the candidate that he just did not have the technical skills the job required.

            The candidate sent an email to HR explaining how he’d had a “nice chat” with me but it “wasn’t like a real interview” because I was “so inexperienced.” (I had worked at the company for 26 years at that point, in management positions for 15 years, in that current spot for two years.) He then suggested I be demoted to the open position and he would gladly fill my spot. HR forwarded this to my boss, suggesting it might “make sense to make this change.” (!) My boss would be in on the second (final) interview with viable candidates, but I would write summaries of people I wasn’t scheduling for a second interview and why. So, when my boss received this email, he understood the situation and handled the HR rep. (The HR staff member ceased working for the company soon after. There were other odd events surrounding him.) The candidate received a formal letter of rejection from the head of HR.

            …and still, the candidate called me on a DAILY basis, explaining why the open position (now filled) was “the perfect job” for him and he was “the perfect candidate.” He left rambling messages (I stopped picking up after the first call.) He called my boss a couple of times. He sent emails with attached recommendations. He called other people in the industry and asked them to call me. I ended up giving a pile of information to building security and reception because I figured he’d just show up. (Yup.) This was someone with a long work history and he thought this was how to do things.

            When we posted a second opening, I logged daily emails and voice mails from him for at least two weeks.

            Another candidate screened out by HR contacted me directly to say “They said I didn’t have the right technical experience but I signed up for an online programming course last week so I am ready for the job now.” Oy.

      3. Smithy*

        Where I think a lot of job advice gets lost in translation is how concepts like “networks” work for people very early in their career. For young people who go to universities in places where they plan to live post-graduation – they may be well positioned to engage in traditional networking practices from their peers – seeking insight and advice via recently graduated friends and local alumni networks.

        But for students who’ve either returned to their hometowns, or desire to break into industries/cities in new locations – they may genuinely not have any great networking they can tap into. So pushing advice on networking, can easily result into inappropriate or useless actions.

        1. No Network To Speak Of*

          Where I grew up, networking* was not a thing. You got your job by having “gumption”. I never would have tried to get a hiring manager’s personal phone number, but I would have totally been the person who called once or twice a week to “check on my application”, because that’s how it used to be done. A lot of older folks that I know stay with their current employer for decades or even their whole career, so network(ing) never factored into their job search. I’m currently in year 18 with my current employer. There are a few issues here and there but overall I like my job, feel I am fairly compensated and have a decent amount of vacation tie.

          Just a different perspective from someone who would be jobless if I had to depend on networking.

          I didn’t even know what networking was until I was in my early 30’s.

  5. Diahann Carroll*

    OP #2 – don’t be that manager. I only ever worked for one firm that made people use sick time to go to doctor’s appointments, but that was because we were all non-exempt and had strict clock in and clock out schedules that were stringently enforced by HR. That place also had a ridiculous amount of turnover and is to this day notorious in my city for being a terrible place to work. If your HR department doesn’t have uber strict guidelines about flexing hours, even for non-exempt staff, then let people make up the time on another day(s). Otherwise, you’ll also start to see a mass exodus in the employees who have options.

    1. Rao*

      I don’t know what alternate reality work world AAM is providing advice from anymore. It’s 100 percent routine to have even exempt employees use sick time for an appointment with a doctor — THAT’S WHAT SICK TIME IS FOR.

      1. snowglobe*

        No it is not routine – I’ve never had to do that. I am exempt, and I work as many hours as needed to do my job. If I take off a couple of hours for a doctors appointment, I make it up sometime during the rest of the week. And as a manager, I’ve never expected people on my team to take sick leave for that either.

        1. WhatDayIsIt*

          This is wild to me! I absolutely take sick time for my doctor’s appointments as a non-exempt employee at a large org. We also have a really generous sick time plan. But I think exempt employees can get away with not clocking it if it’s less than two hours or something.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        I thought sick time was for when you’re sick?

        I’ve got loads of doctor appointments but I wouldn’t say I’m ‘ill’ when I go to them. In fact, most are to prevent me from being off work!

        1. Ann O'Nemity*

          I would say routine wellness visits, doctor appts, dentist appts, etc totally count as sick leave. Anything health related, really.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            That’s just totally bizarre. As in, no employer I’ve ever had had told me my doctor/hospital appointments count as sick leave. I mean, I would get penalised if I took more than x instances of sick leave per year and if my doctors appointments counted as that then I’d run past that limit within two months!

            Really not a good system if you’ve got a disability or chronic health issue. Would make it impossible for me to hold a job.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Your last paragraph is why a lot of managers don’t enforce those kinds of policies if they can help it (as well as the lack of sick leave many companies have). They’d wind up in some icky discrimination situation where the chronically ill is essentially being penalized for being so.

            2. Uranus Wars*

              I worked for one employer who required this – I was as salaried worker. I would try to make appointments over lunch but if they went over and I was a little late I’d have to take 15 minutes of PTO. It was bizarre-o. So what’d I do instead was schedule 2 doctors appointments on the same day and then take an entire sick day instead. I lived at the beach so I usually got a few hours on the shore!

              Everywhere else I have worked people just leave for appointments and trust you to be sensible about making up your time and no PTO. I will take it if I am going to be out half the day and know I’ll be completely out of touch, but now that I think about it my manager probably wouldn’t require it. I usually just put in the request but don’t tell him why, he very expressly does not want to know what we do with our time off. which I appreciate.

            3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              That’s the key here. Its NOT okay to penalize people for needing to take sick leave, that’s immoral and unethical nonsense.

              Those of us who require you to use your sick leave are doing it because we view it as just another bucket that you can utilize.

              In the laws enacted by states, appointments are included in applicable reason to use sick time. And again, you can’t be penalized for using your sick leave.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                I actually wish that was true here, the not penalised for sick leave thing. I lost a job once because I had more than 6 absences one year (I was in a car crash, then my disabilities flared) and they said that was too many.

          2. Ann O'Nemity*

            I think my comment mis-threaded. I agree, as I put below, that short absences shouldn’t require employees to take leave. But if it’s a half day or whole day, employees should be able to use sick time for it instead of vacation.

        2. Pescadero*

          We have separate time code categories:

          Sick – illness
          Sick – Preventative
          Sick – Family Care

      3. Night Vale Seems Good By Comparison*

        Many of us don’t even have separate sick leave anymore (I haven’t for years) and no one I know wants to use their precious PTO for appointments of only a few hours. Good employers understand that and let you make up the time.

        1. Mockingjay*

          Yep. I have combined PTO. I am professional exempt – but because we bill hours to a contract, I have to stay within 40 hours. Most of us make up time for 1 – 2 hour appointments; our supervisors are flexible about it. That allows us to save PTO for illnesses of longer duration or for (much needed right now) vacation.

        2. sunny-dee*

          Yeah. My HR system only lets you take PTO in 4 hour increments, so if I have a 1-2 hour appointment, it’s either take off half a day or make up the hours. I generally just make up the time in the evening.

          1. cyanste*

            Some of the organizations I’ve worked at have even moved to not taking half-days — you either take a full day PTO or flex the time that you’re off. We’re all salaried exempt, though, and typical sick time is rolled into PTO. We have “extended sick leave” but apparently that only kicks in after a certain number of days or some other medical reason…

      4. Diahann Carroll*

        No, it is not routine, which is why many people are balking at it. I’ve been salaried for the last six years – none of the companies I’ve worked for in that time period (four now) make salaried employees use sick time for appointments. Sick time is for when you’re actually too sick to work and can’t come in at all.

        1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

          On the opposite side of the spectrum, every place I’ve worked for the last six years had split PTO/sick time and every place by the employee handbook specified that you used sick time for medical appointments. However, every one of these places hasn’t *enforced* these policies unless employees were taking advantage of them. The only time I saw a crackdown happen (and it ended up affecting the entire department) was when an employee not only was stretching appointment times beyond credulity, while not making up for time lost.

          The norm I have seen and experienced is that most people didn’t even know that technically speaking they should be using sick time for appointments, but that managers didn’t care as long as your work was completed.

          1. Firecat*

            Same. I’ve only had one job nickel and dime my PTO like that and it led to all the things Alison said! (My company didn’t require this but my boss sucked). I was exempt.

            Wanted me to stay late? No.
            Wanted me to skip lunch? Nope.
            I finished the appointment early and could have gotten to work 45 minutes early? Nope. They subtracted PTO by the hour at that place no way am I working for free.

            Prior to this boss I was more them happy to stay late and help out, work through the occasional lunch, and if my Dr app finished early then great! I’d head on in and get more done earlier. But it’s a big nope from me to work uncompensated. I am not going to be “flexible” and stay late if the pendulum doesn’t swing both ways. You get what you give with me.

      5. CheeryO*

        It’s certainly routine in government, at least in my state. We have a bit more flexibility now that we’re remote, but it’s very much expected that you charge appointments to sick leave. (And we get plenty of it, so it’s really not a big deal.)

        1. OP2*

          I’m OP2, and we’re in a similar boat here. It’s expected to use sick time for doctor’s appointments, as annoying as that is. We also don’t do flex hours. I want to be flexible and a good boss, and also don’t want to get myself in trouble by going around official work policies.

          1. Anne of Green Gables*

            I am in a job where we are expected to take sick leave for Dr appointments, and it’s one of the approved uses for sick leave listed in our employee handbook. During non-covid time, approximately half my staff would use sick time for Dr/dentist and the other half would make up their time that week so they could save the sick time for later use. In my current job, I have done both, depending on my needs at that current time.

            Let me preface the rest by saying I am a rule-follower by nature.

            During Covid-times, while I am work-from-home, I have not taken sick leave for the Dr appointments I’ve had. I think there have been two, and I go to the dentist next month. While working from home, my work has spread into my home life in ways and times that it did not when I was not working in my dining room. I feel that I am definitely working more than enough extra time and effort to cover those appointments, and I would have no problem with the staff I supervise doing the same. Our work days look different right now, how we take leave should also be different.

          2. doreen*

            To be honest, if that’s the policy and your employees know the policy, I kind of wonder why they are letting you know. I mean, sure they need to put the auto-response on if they won’t be available for a full day, but is it necessary for a couple of hours? People do this sort of thing at my job all the time ( ask permission for something they know I can’t approve when if they had simply done it chances are I wouldn’t notice) and I always suspect that it’s done in hopes that it will cover them if they get caught. ( In fact it won’t, it just means I will get in trouble along with them)

          3. Ali G*

            Well you might not have the ability to let them be flexible if your policies don’t allow it. Is there any way you can look into changing the policy? Where I work, it’s generally accepted that you can flex time for appointments during the week, but if you are missing a big block of time, you should use sick leave. I have 2 annual appointments every year that have to be done M-F and they are a 45-1 hour drive away. On those days, because I often only work 2-3 hours and I don’t think I could in good faith “make it up” in one week, I use sick leave.
            We also have a generous policy (2 weeks a year that accumulates up to 60 days), so I feel like I have the time to use if needed.

          4. Perpal*

            I guess the question is, who is going to get you in trouble if you are flexible with your employees? I imagine the employees won’t complain; and if you end up with a problem employee focus on the problem (ie, work not getting done) rather than “too many doctors appts” or whatever.

        2. Governmint Condition*

          This is so standard in the government office where I work that some people are surprised to hear that the private sector often doesn’t require charging the time. Because we get so much sick time, this is a hardship for very few people. In those rare cases, arrangements are worked out as needed.

          In my office, most of us have accrued the limit of sick time, so we lose almost nothing by charging the time. For one appointment, you can earn all of the time back within 2-4 weeks.

        3. ampersand*

          Yes, the same has been true for me. I think using your accrued time for doctor’s appointments must be a government vs. non-government distinction. I’ve always had to, and most of my jobs have been state jobs.

        4. iliketoknit*

          Yes, I’m in government, and the whole point of having sick leave is that it’s what you use for doctor’s appointments. But we’re also very much expected to take official leave for any office-hours appointment, so if we didn’t use our sick leave, we’d have to take our annual leave, which would suck. We’re just not (generally) allowed to just take a couple of hours and make up for them later, without some kind of leave being involved. (That said, my office did institute some flexibility on this front – you can move your hours around a bit if you put it on our office calendar – but that policy has only been in place less than a year and I know it’s not universal.) But as CheeriO said, we get lots of sick leave, so it’s not usually an issue (having a kid or chronic illness can certainly eat into it, although there are ways to get extra leave donated to you). I was actually surprised to read that you shouldn’t expect people to use sick leave for doctor’s appointments, although it makes sense if you don’t get a lot of sick leave (and aren’t in a “account for every hour b/c taxpayers are paying for it” culture).

      6. The Other Dawn*

        I would say it’s dependent on the company and/or manager. I’ve been at companies where I was exempt and had to take PTO for a doctor’s appointment (so I don’t think it’s some weird anomaly), while other companies didn’t expect that. Or the company expected it, but the manager didn’t.

        I, as a manager, don’t expect any team member to use PTO for a doctor’s appointment unless they’re not able to make up the time so they can get paid for 40 hours (non-exempt; with exempt people, it all tends to even out).

      7. Colette*

        I’ve never had a job where I had to use sick time to go to the doctor (unless it was something like a weekly visit for physio).

      8. pbnj*

        We’re expected to either use sick time or make it up. Makes me miss my old managers who realized that the “company always wins overall” when it comes to exempt employees hours worked and just let you go.

      9. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

        Actually no, sick time is for when you’re sick. Do you get your teeth cleaned twice a year, and have a yearly physical? If you have an appointment that takes you away from work for an hour or 2, it doesn’t make sense to force people to use their sick leave. Sometimes I try and schedule all of my check up appointments on the same day and just take a full personal day off, but unless I think far enough ahead, that’s usually not possible. Plus most places I’ve worked don’t want you putting in for anything less than a half day off because it just doesn’t make sense. And if you nickle and dime everyone, you’re going to get the bare minimum out of them, and they’ll leave the second they have a chance.

      10. Lance*

        On the other end, though: flex time exists for a reason, and especially for many of those stuck working from home due to the pandemic, I’m sure they’d appreciate it a lot. As Alison says: the concerns are whether they’re getting their work done, hitting their deadlines, being reliable and communicating back in a decent time frame. If they need to take a few hours for an appointment, and don’t have anything time-critical during that time… I’m really not seeing the issue with just letting it pass, and not forcing them to use PTO.

      11. New Job So Much Better*

        It works that way lots of places. If we go to an appointment for an hour or 2, we just make that time up during the same week.

      12. ThatGirl*

        At my job, I have separate sick and vacation time. I am *allowed* to use sick time for dr’s appointments, but we are not *required* to – and I think that’s the best practice. If I would rather schedule appointments so I can just leave an hour early and make it up later, no problem, but if I have an afternoon full of stuff, I can also just take 4 sick hours and be done with it.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I should note that our sick time is use-it-or-lose-it; if I could bank it I might feel differently.

      13. Koalafied*

        My company’s approach to this is that sick time can only be taken in half-day increments. If an exempt employee is going to miss 2 hours of work or less, official policy is they do not use leave – they can either make up the time elsewhere or just ensure they’re getting their full week’s worth of work done, whichever is appropriate to the role. Between 2-5 hours you take a half-day, and over 5 hours you take a full day

        Many of us will schedule morning and afternoon appointments so that we only miss 2 hours or less. Others will schedule multiple appointments on one day if possible and take the full or half day to do them all. Others will take the full or half day and combine a doctor’s appointment with a bank trip or other errand easier to do in business hours.

        I personally am a big fan as it lets people have the flexibility to decide if they want to use leave or not.

      14. Oxford Comma*

        Even in the toxic job from hell, they let us go to the doctor without making up the time or charging it to sick or PTO.

      15. kt*

        The guidance at my job is that if it’s 2 hrs or less, time-shift, because we can only take PTO in 4-hour increments. I like this, because if it’s just a quick eye exam or dental appt I can make up the time in the morning or evening or even the weekend and not disrupt the rest of the day.

        Which is less convenient for my coworkers, me being out noon-1:30 or rescheduling an entire half-day’s worth of meetings? We’re people who do analysis on computers, not folks who call customers or cover the phones — I don’t know how they manage this and I hope it’s similarly respectful even though I’m sure it’s a different procedure.

      16. fhgwhgads*

        I think the difference is “are you permitted to use your sick time for appointments” yes, absolutely normal. As opposed to “if you step away for 2 hours for an appointment you MUST use sick time, you can’t just get the work done otherwise and call it a wash”. It’s the latter AAM was indicating is less common and not good when we’re talking exempt people.

      17. Clisby*

        Not when I was working (all exempt). Using sick time for a doctor’s appointment was definitely discouraged. Granted, I worked in fields (journalism, computer programming) where it was really easy to work a doctor’s appointment into a regular day. In my experience, sick time was for when you were sick – which did not include routine checkups, routine dental appointments, etc. Going to the doctor because I had a fever of 103 and was coughing? Going to the dentist because one of my teeth had broken off? Sure, those warranted taking sick time. Not the regular stuff.

      18. Third or Nothing!*

        I’ve only ever had to use sick time if the appointment was going to take up an entire morning or afternoon. An hour or two here or there? Not even a blip on my boss’s radar.

      19. Owlette*

        uhhhh, no that’s not what sick time is for. Sick time is for when you’re sick. When I have to go to the doctor for a couple hours one day, I just work a little bit extra throughout the week to get my 40 hours. I’m exempt, in the US.

        1. Observer*

          Actually, sick time is for anything health related. Not that you should have to take sick time for a short appointment, but it is perfectly legitimate to take sick time for a doctor’s appointment. Any workplace that forbids that is not a decent place to work.

          I’m pretty sure that in NY (and some other jurisdictions) employers are REQUIRED to allow you to take sick time for doctor’s appointments.

      20. Gumby*

        My work not only doesn’t require me to use sick time for medical appointments – they don’t *allow* us to do so. We only have full-day sick days. If you come in, work for 15 minutes, then feel ill and go home? You report the 15 minutes for the day. We’re salaried so it wouldn’t make a difference to our paychecks though it would affect the hourly rate we’d charge to the various projects for that pay period. It is a small company so if anyone did this repeatedly it would be noticed! It is not as easily taken advantage of as it might seem. And a normal appointment only makes me miss an hour or two of work which I inevitably (more than) make up for within the pay period.

        Though, frankly, some days I would welcome the chance to take a partial sick day. As it is, if I have a meeting that I can’t justify skipping I will work a full or almost-full day because I have to be there for the meeting when really I might have preferred to work 4 hours and nap the rest of the day. Usually these are insomnia-related incidences. Technically I *could* just do the meeting and skip out on anything else but I’d feel super guilty actually doing it. I would not feel guilty taking 4-hours off if I were using 4-hours of sick time.

        1. Gumby*

          Yes, I realize this is self-inflicted. Work and my manager would have no problem with me working a half day on occasion. I just… can’t.

      21. Anonymous Librarian*

        Depends on the organization. I’ve worked for public universities that required me to take sick or vacation time for any time away from work, even though I was exempt. I worked for a private research institution that didn’t require that and, in fact, only required me to use PTO of any kind for full days off.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Ummm … my employer (the US government) requires us to use sick leave for medical/dental appointments in addition to illness and sickness and people agree the benefits package is pretty great.

      There’s nothing wrong with this if a person gets a reasonable amount of sick leave.

      I disagree with Diahann Carroll’s statement very much.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        And that’s fine – as you see above, there is a divide between government and non-government jobs. If this works for you and your colleagues, great. But for many non-government employees, it doesn’t and people do leave companies over stingy sick leave policies (among other things). It’s something the OP should be mindful of.

      2. Newgovemployee*

        On the other hand, I’m also with the federal govt and my division lets us use flex hours for appointments. There is definitely some variability in how managers decide team policies.

        1. OP2*

          All of these insights are so helpful! We’re in a workplace similar to the government work described by commenters. The policy is to use sick leave for doctor’s appointments (it’s annoying, but the policy). Especially in this climate, though, seems like there’s some managerial flexibility that can be exercised.

          1. Governmint Condition*

            Would you be willing to tell us how much sick time you get? It would help us understand how reasonable this policy is. Where I work, we get 13 days per year and it carries over. You can accrue about 15 years worth before you hit the limit, if you’re never sick.

          2. Sparkles McFadden*

            When I worked in a corporation, we could take doctor’s appointments and then make up the time. The rule of thumb was that if something took half the day, then you’d take sick time.

            When I worked a civil service job, we used sick time. Once, I ran to a lab to get a blood test. That took fifteen minutes so I did it as part of my lunch break. We were allow four hours that wouldn’t be taken out of sick time for a mammogram.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      A couple hours? No problem. But if it stretches to a half day, then I’d put in sick time, or PTO in my case.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, the only time I’d use sick time when I’m not actually sick is if I’m going to be out most of the workday (and by most, I mean more than four hours, which is rare).

    4. KayDeeAye*

      In my entire (now quite lengthy!) career, I’ve almost never used sick time for a doctor’s appointment – and this with a series of employers who aren’t otherwise outstandingly flexible about time off, either. (Not bad, just not great.) The only exceptions have been when I’ve needed a half-day or more. Even then, it’s usually been my choice. I say to myself, “Hmm, the only available appointment is for 1 p.m., so rather than trying to race back to my desk afterwards to get in another hour’s work, I think I’ll just take a half sick day.”

      The thinking of my various employers has always been that this is just one of those accommodations you need to make because employees are human, humans need to get their teeth cleaned or get their mammograms taken, and it’s really difficult to do these things during non-work hours.

  6. Mark Roth*

    If I was looking to hire someone and they called my mother, my mother would probably start nagging me into hiring them. And then act like I personally embarrassed her whether I reject the candidate for calling my mother or for any other reason.

    1. Mighty Mouse*

      My mom might consider the same thing. She also thinks I should bring baked goods to my first day of work and gifts to my coworkers and their KIDS around the holidays. She was mighty upset I refused to buy a $25 gift for the kid of th assistant who was trying to sabotage me at work (straight out told my boss I was incompetent despite not being able to do the basics of her own job). She doesn’t pressure my brother to do this stuff and gets mad when I point out how gendered her advice is.
      Crazy enough she’s a professional with a high paying career for decades and doesn’t do ANYTHING like this herself.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      LOL, I’m so grateful my mother generally hates strangers who try to talk to her, so she’d be more pissed if I did hire someone who annoyed her with a call.

  7. Observer*

    I think that a candidate that pulled something like #5’s would get blacklisted at my employer. That’s just incredibly out of line.

  8. LGC*

    I like these letters. They’re a bit of a unicorn chaser after yesterday’s set.

    5 is wild – like, she called the manager’s MOM and still was like, “but yo can i get an interview?” She may not have the qualifications, but she certainly has the audacity.

    2 is pretty solid, although the rules might be stricter depending on whether they’re hourly or salaried. (Although if they’re hourly and can flex, let them!)

    4 – no advice, just wishing you the best of luck. Hopefully everything is looking up (except for the numbers) in your area of Cali – you don’t say where you’re from, but I know SoCal’s been rough lately.

    1 reminds me of when I’m walking down the street (or…like, in the office) and people are just loudly talking about VERY PRIVATE BUSINESS.

    3 makes me worry a little bit about how the severance packages will hold up, if the company is in financial trouble. I’d still say it’s worth it, just because LW3 is kind of out the door already, and it doesn’t seem like the company is going to collapse immediately, but that’s one thing to consider.

  9. nonee*

    Related to OP2:
    I just took a job without due diligence following a COVID layoff because it was *supposed* to be a short-term contract, but they were so desperate to get me that they upped the $ offer significantly and made it permanent. I didn’t want to turn them down for the permanent role because there may be no jobs still at the end of the contract period, and it has a few other attractive traits (location, hours, pay). Nope nope nope; my boss makes me make up the half-hour if my lunch goes over or I have a doctor’s appointment. She also doesn’t let me work late even if my head is right in the game on something and I desperately want to get it done. As a relatively senior non-management employee, who has managed people before and has managed my own time for the last 6 years or so, this is driving me batty and I am totally going to escape this place as soon as I can.

    Do not nickel and dime your employees!!

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This. Especially when many employers give as few as three to five days of sick leave a year. You’re pretty much guaranteeing that no one with a chronic illness or with children will stay long because who wants to waste the little sick time they have on doctors appointments? (And maybe that’s the point, I don’t know.)

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Intermittent FMLA is for just that sort of situation. A family member used it for chemotherapy once a week. They couldn’t criticize her for absenteeism. Admittedly, it would have been pretty unreasonable to write her up for getting cancer, but we’ve heard worse here.

        1. Diahann Carroll*

          Intermittent FMLA is determined by company policy wherever you work. My last two employers still said that employees had to use sick time while on intermittent leave in order to get paid for the hours you were out, but no one in management actually enforced that. In fact, my supervisor three companies ago spoke to HR and told them she thought it was gross that our official company policy was that people on intermittent FMLA would have to charge sick leave in order to be paid while out on appointments when everyone else in the company gets to flex their time for doctors appointments at their individual manager’s discretion – and HR agreed. Therefore, I didn’t have to use sick leave, I flexed my times and “made up” the hours I was out for my various medical appointments, and still got paid my entire salary.

          But if you work for a company that is closely following the letter of the law, I do not believe it is required that you be paid for FMLA time whether it’s taken in a lump period or intermittently, which again, makes it crucial to have ample amounts of sick time available to use in the event that you get really sick – sick enough to have to be out long-term and not just for a few hours here and there.

          1. Helen J*

            We get three (3) sick days per year. I easily use that every year. Now, we can use sick time in hour increments so if you have a doctor’s appointment and your doctor happens to be close to your employer, you can maybe use 2 hours . Vacation and personal days have to be used in half-day or whole-day increments, so if you are out of sick days, you have to use at least a half-day to go to the doctor.

            When I had to have surgery and had to request FMLA, they coded me as FMLA, but I had to use my vacation time in order to be paid. I asked if I could just use unpaid FMLA, but was told no, I had to use my paid time even though I was coded as using FMLA. Another employee had to have surgery but was allowed to use unpaid FMLA because they had a vacation planned for later in the year. Still don’t know how they managed to get that approved and yes, I’m still 0.01% upset about it.

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Yeah, your employer screwed up here by not being consistent with how they managed the intermittent leave. I truly hope my former company’s benefits coordinator talked to the head of her HR department to update our policy after her discussion with my supervisor because my supervisor was right – making people on intermittent FMLA use sick hours to be paid while allowing everyone else to flex hours at their manager’s discretion for doctors appointments is basically punishing sick people for being sick.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      “She also doesn’t let me work late even if my head is right in the game on something and I desperately want to get it done.”

      Well, at least she’s a stickler for following scheduled hours both ways. Too often I’ve seen managers routinely require tons of extra hours and availability, but then turn around and offer zero flexibility to the employee’s needs. Still, time type of time management would drive me batty!

      1. nonee*

        Yes, I appreciate that she’s definitely committed to the letter of making staff work their paid hours! She’s a very new manager and definitely new to managing anyone senior, so I hope she relaxes over time. I really like her and don’t actually want to leave so soon.

  10. ThePear8*

    Haha, “the ‘gumption’ circle of hell”, I’m stealing that phrase. There’s definitely some bad job advice that belongs there.

    1. Luke G*

      I don’t know, Damnation seems a steep price. Maybe “gumption” should be a circle of heck, where the darned sinners are given an endless list of tasks and are constantly interrupted by people coming in unannounced to hand them hard-copy resumes.

  11. Knitting Cat Lady*

    #1: Kissing is one of the things that triggers my misophonia something fierce. All mouth noises that aren’t talking or breathing are like that!

    And arguing with the SO on the job? Fucking hell, that is so much cringe.

  12. MistOrMister*

    How does being human mean not having enough time to handle things at home? I highly question the pharmacist’s maturity level and professionalism in OP 1’s letter, because that rebuttal makes no sense. It is 1000000% reasonable for anyone in any profession to be expected not to bring their relationship squabbles into the workplace, regardless of whether customers witness them. It blows my mind that he pushed back on being asked not to have fights at work. I guess there is a teeny chance that he is reasonable about everything else and his relationship with his girlfriend is his one blind spot. But I am more inclined to think that sort of attitude of he has to be able to do what he wants probably impacts other aspects of his job too.

    1. Thankful for AAM*

      I’d say that BECAUSE we are human, we can control our emotions and avoid bringing personal relationships and problems into the workplace.

    2. Jemima Bond*

      I interpreted it as, he can’t possibly be expected to go without a good wet snog when he sees his beloved because he’s a man and he has needs *eye roll*. And that if doesn’t finish having a row at home he obviously needs to bring it into work to finish. *eyes roll clean out of head and across floor*

    3. Washi*

      Yeah that line made me chuckle out loud! It’s a bold move to tell your boss that you don’t have enough time to fight at home and you need to do some of it at work.

    4. Alli525*

      Seriously – I was perhaps not the epitome of professionalism in college, and to this day I will never forget being sat down by my boss and told in no uncertain terms that, even on my lunch breaks, I couldn’t fight with my boyfriend over the phone anywhere near our office, indoors or outdoors in our little office park. That said, that moment of shame taught me a lifelong lesson, and it sounds like OP1’s employee needs a similar moment.

  13. andy*

    L1: Our local regulation require all employees to have half an hour a day for lunch. Is there really expectation that people will work 8 hours without eating lunch?

    1. Mighty Mouse*

      If you’re a “professional” in the US you’re supposed to turn into a robot without bodily functions. I’m not a pharmacist, but veterinarians are regularly expected to work without lunch or bathroom breaks. I had to nearly faint before they stopped scheduling my entire “lunch break” with surgery and house calls. With my hours at my last job I was making less than $20/hr AND got nickel and dimed about doctor appointments and sick time. It’s supposed to be that professionals can handle their own schedule, but many places take advantage as much as possible in a tight job market. Joke’s on them right now because the tables have turned and the abusive clinic owners are whining that associates are leaving private practice in droves.

      1. Andy*

        It is like … I dont want my pet being operated on by someone who did not eate nor had break for 7 hours. Nor drugs mixed for that matter.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Just want to let you now that doctors often operate for hours upon hours, like 8-12 hour surgeries happen…and nobody gets to duck out for a snacky snack.

    2. doreen*

      Even in jobs that don’t provide a lunch break, it doesn’t usually mean people don’t get to eat- it may mean they don’t get to leave the work area or that they may be interrupted. Additionally there may be exemptions to break laws for certain jobs , either by job title or as part of a more general exemption for a single-employee shift ( which can refer to a single employee in a specific job title- so that the pharmacist may not get a actual lunch break while the technicians do)

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Yes this – pharmacists don’t always get an official break, but you are allowed to eat / use the restroom. Unfortunately it may not be an uninterrupted break. However, most states do require that technicians take a break.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They can eat, they just don’t get a dictated lunch period. Most heath professionals survive off cafeteria food, so you can snatch something and stuff it in your mouth while you’re doing paperwork. Yes, it’s pretty awful but welcome to the over whelmed healthcare system.

  14. cncx*

    there are ways to kiss quietly and i hate people who have to slurp and smack and otherwise audibly kiss SO MUCH. It’s annoying, when i hear a slurp it’s like yes thank you now i know you are together…i feel like slurpy kisses are asking for attention and like- i don’t want to be part of their love life.

    more close to the question, i was going through a messy divorce and my ex husband loved to start crap with me at work to try to make me lose my job. Relationship stuff doesn’t belong at work and the only reason i stayed employed is because my then boss was an angel too good for this world.

    1. Scarlet2*

      Urgh, this, so much. I probably have some form of misophonia and mouth sounds are my main trigger.
      When someone is an adult who presumably has their own room somewhere, there’s really no excuse to “demonstrate” affection in front of everybody, especially at work…

      I also don’t believe for a minute that they “don’t have the time” to sort out their relationship after work. Sounds like the employee is seriously immature and/or has slightly exhibitionist tendencies.

    2. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes, you can kiss without popping or smacking or saying “mmmwah!”; some people kiss like they’re pretending to be Miss Piggy.

    3. Observer*

      Decent bosses also understand that you can’t always control someone like a (soon to be) ex-spouse. I’m sorry you went through that, and I’m glad you had a good boss.

      I would hope that even a non-angel boss would understand the difference between you being harrased by a bitter, nasty ex and an idiot willing engaging – loudly – in PDA.

    4. twig*

      cncx, I feel ya.

      My ex had a “talent” for calling/texting me at work to mess with me.

      He even showed up, without notice, to deliver his signed copy of the divorce papers. Then lectured me about how it was all my doing (the divorce). (and to be fair, the divorce WAS my doing — I couldn’t carry his lazy, controlling manipulative self anymore) I had to go hide in the bathroom and cry for a bit. But then I had a coworker notarize my signatures on the paperwork and delivered it and took myself out to lunch.

      But I did NOT have a productive afternoon at work.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      There’s no reason to ever make noises during kissing, for real. That’s some juvenile stuff that you do because you are acting something out in your head, which given their maturity shown in this letter, it fits right into their personalities.

      Same with lingering weird hugs and holding each other in public. Stop marking your territory, you insecure beasts!

  15. Regular going Anon to protect the innocent*

    My MIL writes an annual letter to a private high school that did not select my SIL when she was 14 with a record of her achievements that year to let them know how wrong they were. My SIL is now 45.

    1. Regular going Anon to protect the innocent*

      Whoops, that was supposed to nest under:

      Glitsy Gus*
      August 12, 2020 at 2:03 am
      Right? Applicant’s mom would show up in person at the office the next day armed with elementary school report cards and soccer trophies to show you exactly what you are missing out on by not interviewing their baby.

    2. Thankful for AAM*

      I bet she is a legend at the school and they look forward to the letters every year!

    3. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

      This is tragic, but it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I nominate this comment for the AAM Commentariat Hall of Fame. Just WOW.

      Does the SIL follow up every year with her own brief note apologizing for her mom? /facepalm/

    5. Gumby*

      If she really wants them to regret the decision, she should make sure her letter includes how much SIL donated to the school that she did end up attending.

  16. Forrest*

    #3, the WHOLE POINT of a generous severance package is to tempt people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in leaving into leaving. I am sure there are some employers evil enough to go, “Hey, we’ll give you $50k if you’ll go away– WHAT, you’re tempted? We will punish you for your disloyalty!” but it would be a deeply dysfunctional thing to do. In any kind of normal company, expressing an interest in a big severance package should be a pretty safe thing to do.

    That said, are you supposed to express an interest to your boss? When my organisation does redundancies, you contact HR confidentially and they will calculate and confirm your entitlement. They should then ask you to confirm your interest, and that would go to the decision-makers to decide if they can do without you, and if they decide to make you redundant, you will get the amount that HR have confirmed. Make sure you’ve properly understood the process, exactly what you would be entitled to, and the proper and formal way to express an interest. I don’t know how it works in the US but the way you describe it as basically sliding into your manager’s DMs sounds very exposed and ripe for abuse so check you’re following the proper procedures.

    (Not that our HR abided by their own rules when we had redundancies in my team last year, but it’s nice that the thought is there.)

    1. Luke G*

      I think a lot of that depends on how reliable your manager is. If layoffs were coming in my company and one of my direct reports let me know that their circumstances made it so they wouldn’t mind taking the layoff in exchange for the severance, I would consider that helpful data. There would be other factors at play, of course, but I would read it as “I understand this is coming and if it has to be someone from our team, I would be OK with it being me” rather than “I’m flakey or disinterested, and should be screwed with.” But then, I like to think I’m a manager who strives to do my best for my team and never punish them for giving me useful information about their plans- other managers would be a risk to tell, I’m sure.

    2. OP3*

      To clarify, these aren’t voluntary layoffs. The company is basically deciding what positions they really need and plugging people in, which I know because my manager is a part of the process. So, he’s actually a great person to go to. HR can’t make that decision at all. It’s just that, if there’s a spot and the choice is between me and someone else, I’m in a totally fine place to be let go for a variety of reasons.

      1. Luke G*

        Imagining myself in your boss’ shoes, I’d be somewhere between pleased and relieved depending on the situation. If you were a top performer and I couldn’t reasonably part with you, I’d be pleased that you were considering all options and trying to find the least-bad outcome. The more plausible a candidate you were for the layoff the more relieved I’d be- either because there was no real definite “best” choice based on data alone, or because YOU were the best choice and now I know you’re OK with it.

        Your boss’ mileage may vary.

  17. Insert Clever Name Here*

    On #2, would it change the answer if there was a very generous sick leave policy (separate from vacation)? I can take 6 weeks of sick leave at 100% pay and then another 18 weeks at 70% pay; if I go 6 months without taking a full day of sick leave, my bank of 100% pay hours refreshes (meaning I can use several hours a day here and there in that 6 month period but still get my hours refreshed).

    I recognize that’s likely not the scenario with LW, but I’m just curious.

    1. SarahKay*

      I’m salaried, and get similar sick-pay to you, and I’d be irked if my manager made me use sick-pay for something like that.
      I work the hours it takes to get my job done, which 99% of the time is to the benefit of my company; if they wouldn’t give some of that back in the form of a couple of hours for a doctor’s appointment then they (or the manager requiring it) clearly have no interest in maintaining an equitable working environment.
      In itself it wouldn’t make me job-search, but it’d certainly tip the balance towards me looking elsewhere.
      I’m fortunate enough that the opposite is true; I have an excellent manager who lets me manage my time and absolutely trusts that if I’ve had to go out for a couple of hours, for whatever reason, my work will get done and the company will get it’s money’s worth for my pay. That good manager contributes hugely to the fact that I’m happy in my job, with no plans to leave.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. I’m not using my sick leave for appointments (I currently have over two weeks banked), no matter how much time I have accrued, because I’m not “sick” in the sense of needing to be off for the day (or half day) and the lost time will be made up at a later date anyway.

      2. EPLawyer*

        THIS. Your company expects you to work extra hours when necessary because of things like loyalty and team player. but if you need a couple of hours for a doctor’s appointment, then the world has ended and you must be docked sick time OR make it up. When in all likelihood, as long as the work is getting done, it all comes out even in the end. But somehow, the company only wants it to work out in their favor. With a little positive balance on their side.

        Good people leave over this attitude.

    2. doreen*

      I have really generous sick leave and I still get annoyed about using sick leave for doctor’s appointments. Because although I am an exempt state government employee and I know there will always be requirements about how many hours I work, it doesn’t have to be the strict 37.5 hour week it currently is nor does it have to be as strictly scheduled as it is. There’s no reason I couldn’t work an extra hour on Thurs or start an hour early on Friday to make up for leaving early Friday – but if my manager allows me to , she’s taking a chance.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      No, it doesn’t matter how generous your sick leave is. As far as salaried employees go, a reasonable employer will recognize that some weeks you may work less than 40 hours, but will be willing to work over 40 when it’s crunch time. And if you nickle and dime every minute that someone is out, they won’t be as willing to put in that extra effort when it’s needed, and will be out the door as soon as another opportunity comes up.

  18. Former Pharm Techie*


    Just an FYI on pharmacy rules and laws.

    A licensed pharmacist must be present in the pharmacy at all times when the pharmacy is open. If the pharmacist is not present, the pharmacy must be vacated and closed. In supermarkets, this is done by closing gates. In independent pharmacies, they tend to not have gates because that is the main purpose of the store*. A pharmacist can step out momentarily to use the bathroom, work in an office that is within the building, eat lunch (again in the building), etc. Stepping outside for 15-20 minutes I would say breaking that law technically. However, besides that, prescriptions are needing to filled. A script cannot be given to the customer until the pharmacist has thoroughly checked it. Sure techs can fill it, but there are some areas where they cannot proceed with a pharmacist’s approval.

    Now it sounds like there are multiple pharmacists on at a time in this store so the place is always covered. But if it had to be just him, this is the situation he might be putting the store in. At least he would be in my state.

    1. Natalie*

      I don’t think LW#1 has multiple pharmacists – it would be an unusual small indie pharmacy that did these days. They might have 3 *employees*, but I think one is the pharmacist and the other two fill different positions.

      1. Former Pharm Techie*

        Usually 2 are on duty during the busy hours or on busy days. I say this from the area I am from.

        I’m not sure what the OP meant about only 3 of them working. Sometimes pharmacists manage their stores so the OP could also be a pharmacist.

      2. Pharmgirl*

        My experience has been that independent pharmacies are better staffed than corporate chain pharmacies, and it’s likely that the owner is also the pharmacy manager. It’s possible she’s not and the young pharmacist is truly the only RPh on duty – in which case he really can’t be leaving the building.

        1. Natalie*

          Hmmm, around me it always seems like they can only afford one pharmacist at a time, and the chains might (but often don’t) have 2.

          In any case, since the LW says the employee can’t take a lunch break due to regulations, it seems reasonable to assume he’s the only pharmacist.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        This is an interesting thread.

        Growing up I had a friend with a parent who was a pharmacist. Still is, they haven’t retired yet. They worked in a decent sized area, outside our direct community. And it was unheard of to staff two pharmacists at once. They’re too expensive. That’s why the chains have opted to do a closed lunch time in a lot of places because they’re not rotating by any means! So yeah…it’s wicked cool that some places will have two but I’m with you, it’s not the norm in lots of areas.

  19. Not So NewReader*

    For LW1, this might be a reach but I have to wonder why she comes in every day. In most retail jobs if an employee’s SO or fam member showed up every day that would be viewed in a circumspect manner. And the employee would be informed that the daily visits had to stop. Typically, TPTB would assume that the employee is passing merchandise out the store and SO/family member is assisting with that process. Since your place is a pharmacy I would think the rules would be enforced even more?

    Making matters worse, he oddly launches an offensive- defense when you try to talk with him. UH, HE is the person who is ACCOUNTABLE here. It’s up to HIM to make sure his actions are transparent. This feels like he could be redirecting your attention away from what is actually going on here. I think I would want to be knowing if the pill counts were correct in each bottle that went out. I’d probably be checking for skimming or some other nefarious activity.

    I was pretty naive years ago. I had a script with 2 refills. So I went for my first refill. When I got the refill, the bottle indicated there were NO refills left. Since I was sick and not thinking clearly, I never asked what happened. No, he did not double the quantity. I did get that far to figure out there were not extra pills in the bottle. It could have been a legit mistake or it could have been something else. I will never know.

    I hope I am so very wrong here, OP. But to me, the need for her to show up every day is a red flag. His response should have been, “OMG, I am sorry. It won’t happen again.” And his response was the furthermost thing from that. I have to wonder why.

    1. NerdyKris*

      I don’t think it’s a good idea to treat him as a potential thief. Stealing from a pharmacy is a bit harder than just handing off pills. They have controls and audits, and anything worth stealing is literally counted down to the last pill.

      It’s also not a great idea to accuse your employees of being thieves as a starting point for disciplinary issues.

      1. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

        That didn’t stop someone from stealing thousands of controlled medications (the ones counted down to the last pill) in my old store, unfortunately.

        1. Observer*

          True. And controls need to be place to prevent that. And actually properly implemented, not just in a checking the boxes way.

          But jumping from there to “he’s probably a thief” is not a smart move.

    2. WellRed*

      Eh, I think the girlfriend is likely just as immature as the boyfriend and they can’t bear to be apart. Or don’t trust each other. Theft is a pretty big leap.

    3. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that they’ve set up a drug selling ring, but it is 100% inappropriate that she shows up every day. If she just came in for 5 minutes to drop off his lunch that would be one thing. But she’s clearly there long enough for them to swap spit and argue and it needs to stop. Not to mention, we’re in the middle of a pandemic and those that are essential and have to be at work shouldn’t have unnecessary visitors on a daily basis. She’s working from home for a reason. The pharmacist sounds like a child.

          1. Environmental Compliance*

            That’s entirely possible, but that doesn’t exclude him from packing a lunch ahead of time anyway and bringing that in.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Does he have a place to stash the food? It sounds to me like someone who doesn’t have a breakroom, let alone a kitchen with a fridge. Or a locker to put personal items in.

          Lots of people don’t bring lunches though, I know a huge subset of humans who regularly source food from local eateries for various reasons. Sometimes it’s just because they hate leftovers and cold lunches remind them of leftovers *face desk*

    4. Pharmgirl*

      I’m assuming she’s not in the actual pharmacy portion of the store, just the store front / OTC section. I think it’s more likely that they’re just young. The OP said he’s a young pharmacist, and if he’s a new grad out of a 0-6 pharmacy school, he could be as young as 23, and I assume she’d be close in age. That’s quite young. Pharmacy school doesn’t give you many chances for working outside of pharmacy. You’re generally required to get 1600 hours or so during school in a pharmacy, but you’re still a student, and it’s generally part time. Clinical rotations are more about learning to be a pharmacist versus learning about the working world. This may very well be his first full experience as a working adult, and he may still be learning what’s appropriate.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*

      That is a really, really, really big leap. It sounds like she is showing up every day because she is working from home and they’re making the best of their new circumstances by trying to see each other more.

      That being said, presumably she is working from home because of Covid so it doesn’t seem like the wisest decision to be visiting a pharmacy every day which exposes herself to more people than necessary as well as exposing all those people to her.

      Given the pandemic and the immaturity shown so far I think it would be 100% reasonable to just straight up tell the employee that his girlfriend can’t come to hang out with him at work anymore.

    6. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yikes…retail is an ugly world, I’m forever glad to never have had to be a part of professionally.

      That’s abnormal to to not trust your employees to have visitors, who are respectful.

      Over the years I’ve had multiple couples who do this. I have one currently to be honest. They eat lunch together out front, even though they could use the breakroom if they’d like to.

      I had others who would regularly bring their spouses/partners lunch, we were all cordial and enjoyed seeing one another in passing. It seriously wasn’t suspicious at all.

      The protocols for pharmacies are very strict and hard to make it into a drug smuggling operation in this day and age. But yeah, prior it was different.

      I do agree that he responded awfully and is an immature person who shouldn’t be allowed to act out. But yeah, the other stuff, not so much.

  20. Policy Wonk*

    #2 – the Government has requirements for accounting for time, so when someone tells me they need to go to a Dr.’s appointment I ask up front – are you requesting leave time for this, or will you be making the time up later? (and if so, when?) Keeps things professional, gives the employee the choice. Benefit that when done by e-mail you have a record for the inevitable audit of time and attendance. YMMV depending on your employer’s rules/guidelines.

  21. I Herd the Cats*

    Re OP#2 — I’ve already done 90 minutes of work answering emails this morning and cleaning up a draft document, because I woke up early and it’s quiet, kids still in bed, and I did the same last night. You can’t really know exactly what hours are being worked, especially during COVID. Personally, I record sick leave on my timesheet whenever the absence is going to be long enough that I set up notifications that I’m not available — more than half a day, in general. I’d be irritated if I got the sense that my company was monitoring whether or not I was offline for 2 hours for a doctor’s appointment.

    1. OP2*

      Context: our workplace requires sick time for doctor’s appointments, and we don’t have flex time. From all of the helpful comments (yours included), seems like managerial flexibility in how/whether to enforce that can help temper a suboptimal workplace policy, especially while we’re all working remotely. From comments, seems like a guiding factor is whether or not an employee feels the work could be made up (4+ hours in a week, compared to 1-2 hours).

  22. Beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk-ox*

    #2: most companies I’ve worked for have allowed salaried employees to not use PTO for anything that takes less than half a day. I’m sure this would be different if someone was taking off every week, but for the occasional doctor’s appointment, this shouldn’t be an issue. If your employee is salary, there will be weeks when they work overtime as well. The whole point is that it all evens out in the end.

    I can tell you that working for a manager that nickels and dimes PTO is incredibly demoralizing and also makes the little rebel in me go, “Okay, you want me to work exactly 40 hours? I will work EXACTLY 40 hours. No overtime for you.” I don’t know that I’d do it, but I’d be tempted since my exempt status is apparently one-sided.

    1. OP2*

      These insights are all helpful. Our workplace policy is to use sick leave for doctor’s appointments of any duration, and we don’t have flex time. That said, managerial flexibility in whether to enforce those rules in the current context seems like the way forward.

  23. Not Elizabeth*

    #1: “I don’t have time to work out my relationship issues at home!”

    “OK, you’re fired. There, now you have all the time in the world.”

  24. Pharmgirl*

    What regulations prevent him from getting a lunch break? I know all states are different, but there’s generally been a push in the direction of providing lunches. If he’s not getting a lunch break because he’s the only pharmacist on duty and you can’t shut down, he really shouldn’t be leaving the premises either. If he’s not the only pharmacist, I highly doubt there’s a regulation preventing a lunch break if another pharmacist is available. Even if it’s a matter of pharmacist/tech ratios, lunch breaks are still allowed.

    As to the “I’m a human being” comment – has he ever worked in a chain pharmacy like CVS or Walgreens? Those are pretty notorious for not treating their staff like humans, and maybe it’s a holdover from that. It’s still an inappropriate comment – PDA isn’t really okay at any workplace and has nothing to do with people being human.

  25. Malty*

    LW5 I’m so curious where it says she stated the number was for their mother – everything about the vibe of the person including arguing back when told no makes me feel like it was a rebuke. ‘I called but YOU listed the wrong number.’ So inconsiderate of that hiring manager! I do feel for her though – hopefully she learns and will one day be super embarrassed by this.

  26. Spicy Tuna*

    #3, I tried this once and it didn’t work. My boss was required to cut one or two people from department. He knew who he had to cut – there were two underperformers. He was physically sick over it. I had been unhappy there for a while and had been planning on retiring anyway, so I offered myself up. He was horrified! It actually spurred him into action. He marched into the CFOs office and got her to agree to only cutting one person and then he immediately ripped the band aid off and let that one person go. On the one hand, I felt terrible because I felt like if I hadn’t said anything, my boss might have hemmed and hawed long enough that no one lost their job. On the other hand, my offering to go got him off of his rear end. In the end, if it were up to me, I would have let the other person go and not the one that he cut, but it wasn’t up to me.

  27. LogicalOne*

    #1. I would be prepared to let this guy go. Though some may say its admirable that it sounds like he’s valuing his relationship with his girlfriend over his job, it’s not mature or professional. Growing up, I’ve noticed that people who bring their boyfriend/girlfriend to work are the ones who leave not long after they start or end up getting let go. You could also stress social distancing and capacity and that you can’t have more people around than just the staff. If he’s arguing with his gf at work, makes you wonder how emotionally and generally mature he is. You may have to let him go soon. Sorry.

    #5. Going straight over the hiring manager and letting them know the applicant spoke with the manager’s mother is just wow. Makes you wonder how they would behave if they got the job. Would they go straight to corporate or whoever is the highest in command at your workplace if something happened that needed attention? You gotta feel bad for anyone trying to get a job during a pandemic. I can’t imagine the competition out there.

  28. employment lawyah*

    2. Should I ask my staff to use sick time for doctor’s appointments?
    Yes, IMO, as a rule. Sick time is not restricted to just when you’re “deathly ill and unable to come to work,” it is also for other medically-related things.

    Note that there are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, they should be using sick time when they’re out for medical reasons. On the other hand, you may need to be a bit more flexible for allowing medical schedules since you shouldn’t interfere w/ sick time. And if people are using up all of their sick time going to the doctor then you’ll need to address that either by giving more sick time or otherwise making the policy different.

    And of course, as AAM notes, you an always opt to ignore it. But if you’re allowing people to leave the office for hours without taking sick time or vacation time, you’re essentially imposing your very own, personal leave policy (where you are basically grating them “extra” unpaid time.) That’s fine, perfectly legal, but you may need to check w/ higher ups depending on your company.

  29. LDSang*

    #4: It sounds like you’ve already got a UI claim open with California’s Employment Development Department, which means that you are one of the lucky few to have survived a failing system. The information can be a bit difficult to find on the EDD site, but look at https://edd.ca.gov/about_edd/coronavirus-2019/faqs/unemployment.htm#returnWork, under the “School Closures and Childcare” heading. You’ll need to make it clear in your regular response to EDD that you had to turn down a job offer due to childcare issues, and it may (god forbid) require you having to connect with a living EDD rep. Either way, you are most likely covered. Best wishes to you in these challenging times.

  30. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    If anyone responds to “don’t do inappropriate things in the workplace” with “I’m a human being.” my response would be to force myself not to laugh in their face. Then they’d be told that I wasn’t questioning their species, I’m directing them to fix their behavior immediately or the next step will be more severe, leading up to termination if we can’t get on the same page.

    Telling someone to stop fighting with their girlfriend or preforming public displays of affection is some high-school mentality level basic rules. Be an adult and figure out your relationship struggles in a place you aren’t being paid to be a professional “human being”.

  31. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    OP1: As a customer, I would not be happy to see the pharmacy clerk–or anyone else–kissing their girlfriend in or near the store right now.

    When I went to the pharmacy today, both the employee who asked if he could help me find anything and the pharmacy clerk who checked me out were masked, as was I, and there was Plexiglass between me and the pharmacy clerk. Masking is required in stores in Massachusetts, but even if it’s not required where you are, I would not be happy to see anyone, and especially the pharmacist, casually taking their mask off. You may not be able to enforce a mask requirement for customers, but you can and should for pharmacy staff.

    That’s separate from the other ways that it’s unprofessional, but from over here I think you should sit him down, tell him that snogging, fights with his girlfriend, and hanging out without a mask are not appropriate at work, and that if he can’t accept that he can leave.

  32. Not Rebee*

    California OP, I hope you check into the new regulations carefully. I am also a Cali resident and I know that Newsom is only closing schools in counties that meet specific criteria. Whether your county meets the requirement for closure will literaly vary week to week, and I had not until this moment thought about what happens if your child is at home one week and at school the next and you are receiving UI benefits because they are at home. I sincerely hope your elegibility does not change week to week as a result.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Schools are only part of her issue though, her biggest issue here is daycares. Are they also lifting restrictions on daycares? Many have been put into chokeholds with the phase restrictions on how many kids they can even accept. And therefore aren’t accepting infants because they require more staff per child than the older age brackets.

  33. Observer*

    #1 -The fact that his girlfroend is bringing him lunch is no big deal. And if there is any way to let him take a lunch break, even if it’s inconvenient (the local Walgreens closes the actual pharmacy portion of the store for half an hour each day), that would be good. But, PDA and arguments with a SO at work are a total non-starter. And if you really CANNOT give him a lunch break a 15-20 minute disappearance is also a non-starter.

    So, tell him flat out that he can’t do this. Don’t “discuss” this and don’t let him argue. If he tries to argue, just tell him “This is not up for discussion or negotiation. This is what needs to happen.” And be willing to let him go if you need to. I would not jump straight to that, but you need to be able to say to him at some point “shape up or ship out”. Acting like a high school brat does not fly in a workplace. (Not in a lot of relationships, either, but that’s not your problem and you don’t want to go there with him.)

    He’s not in high school. And he really, really doesn’t need to be they guy who looks like a comic book character (I’ll post the ling in the response)

      1. Bowserkitty*

        Oh, so nostalgic!!!! I remember Richandamy were a nice example of what I never wanted to become.

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