boss gives hand-me-down clothes to staff, employee wants help cutting the vaccination line, and more

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

1. My boss offers expensive hand-me-down clothing to staff

I work at a smallish school, and our boss will bring in hand-me-down clothes/shoes a few times a year when she purges her closet. I find it uncomfortable for at least two reasons:

* Most of the staff are teachers, aides, and paras and the school principal’s salary is significantly more than the staff’s. Her hand-me-downs are often expensive and rarely worn items (“new boots, not worn”), which just emphasizes that she can buy expensive items and then hand them off to the poor slubs who work for her yet could never earn enough to buy the wardrobe items she owns. She calls it “her donation table.”

* She is petite and most of her items are small sizes. In a large group meeting, she will approach the other smaller-sized staff and direct them to her clothes. The rest of us are told that there are hats/scarves/bags.

This all seems inappropriate and unprofessional, and yet I do think there are some colleagues who are excited to get some free nice stuff, so I don’t know if it’s a buzzkill to bring it to HR.

Ooooh, yeah, it’s tone-deaf. I’m sure she thinks she’s doing a kind and generous thing, but it emphasizes the wealth disparity between her and her staff, will seem patronizing to some of them, and creates a weird divide with her playing Lady Bountiful on one side and everyone else on the other. And that’s before we even get into her publicly approaching people based on size (!).

She has a lot of other options for donating her unwanted items that wouldn’t come with this kind of baggage.

That said, it’s not something you need to bring to HR. Save your capital for other things; her obliviousness to the optics of this isn’t a problem you personally need to solve.

2. New employee wants help cutting the vaccination line

We just hired a new part-time, temporary employee who will start in August and teach for the fall semester. He is on the payroll in a way because he has filled out all of his paperwork, but won’t actually start being paid until he starts teaching in August. Note that he also has a full-time job doing something related to what he will be teaching.

He just emailed me to ask if he can be considered a “teacher” starting now, as teachers are currently being vaccinated against Covid in my state.

I feel like he won’t actually be a teacher until he starts teaching in August. On the other hand, the state isn’t actually verifying anyone’s information. I pre-registered last week, and just had to tick a box saying that I was teaching. (I’m in-person teaching a lab every day.) He can claim to be a teacher no matter what I say, and it doesn’t seem like the state is verifying anything with the university, so there’s no way for me to stop him.

Am I right to feel a little skeeved out by this? Any suggestions on what to respond beyond that he’ll be a teacher when he starts teaching? His class will almost certainly be 100% remote, also.

Yeah, I’d be uncomfortable too. Although in fairness, maybe he doesn’t see it as hoping to misrepresent his current work to get a slot he doesn’t qualify for yet — maybe he’s hoping it could somehow be legit? I don’t know. But I’d just let him know that you can’t classify him as a teacher until his work with you actually starts. If you want, you could add something like “especially given how scarce the vaccination slots still are for high-risk groups.”

3. Can I work a second job at my first job if things are slow?

I started a new full-time role with a small university about two months ago. There isn’t enough work for me to do — some days there’s one hour’s worth of work, occasionally a few more. I let my manager know that I had room for more, and he did give me some ideas of what else I could do, but that still won’t fill my time. The job is very much wait for something to come in, respond to it, check it off my list.

I’m looking into other positions (the pay is low) and I am seeing some part-time jobs that might be a good fit. If I were to have a second job, would it be unethical for me to work it during the hours I’m on the clock for my full-time job? It feels a little slimy to ask, so I’m leaning towards no, but I wanted your opinion. I am doing other things to fill my time, like taking classes, craft projects, etc.

This is one of those things where what’s logical doesn’t line up with what you should really do.

Logically, why shouldn’t you be able to do work for another job if you have nothing to do at your first job? If you can read or do craft projects, how does it harm your employer if you fill some of that craft time with unobtrusive work for a second job? In a strictly logical world, if it doesn’t harm them in any way, they shouldn’t care.

In reality, though, it’s a bad idea. Employers often react really badly to finding out that an employee has been doing paid work for someone else while they’re on the clock. It’s likely to make you look disengaged from your main job (which is silly if crafting is fine) and like you’re double-dipping. It can get you fired (even if there’s no official policy against it). There are some employers that are exceptions to this, but unless you know for sure that yours is one of them, do other things with that time.

4. I keep working unauthorized overtime

I have a problem that has followed me from job to job: I am an hourly worker who continuously (inadvertently) racks up unapproved overtime for taking short lunch breaks. I have always been allotted one hour and I try to take the full hour, but when my workload gets heavy I’ll come back a few minutes early. This has gotten much worse while I’ve been working from home. My partner and I work out of a one-bedroom apartment. He is exempt from lunch breaks. I have been finding myself unable to “turn off” for my full lunch hours. I received a warning email from HR today because I accumulated seven hours of overtime in January. How do I stop this workaholic habit once and for all?

I wouldn’t want an hour-long break either (I’d want to finish my work and be done with the workday sooner), but you can’t keep working overtime when you’ve been told to stop.

So first, can you see if your manager will approve you taking shorter lunch breaks if you also knock an equivalent amount of time off the start or end of your day? For example, could you take a half hour lunch and also end work a half hour early?

But if that’s not doable, then you … just need to stop. It’s disingenuous to tell yourself this is outside of your control. Set an alarm for the full hour, turn off your computer, and don’t go back to it until the alarm goes off. Read a book, take a walk, watch an hour-long show. By giving into your impulse to return to work early, you are taking money from your employer that you haven’t been authorized to take (because they legally must pay you for all time worked). People get fired for continuing to work unauthorized overtime after they’ve been warned, because you are taking money that has not been allotted to you.

By framing this as a workaholic habit, you’re letting yourself see it as something that’s good for your company — “I just can’t stop working so hard.” But it’s actually bad for your company, and it’s bad for you; it’s making you an untrustworthy employee who is essentially fining the company with your habit and who refuses simple directions. It’s not a good reputation to have.

5. Job applicants contact me on LinkedIn

I work in HR at a well-known national nonprofit in a pretty niche field. This means that whenever we have a job opening, I get a bunch of people who have applied for the job(s) adding me on LinkedIn, letting me know they’ve applied, and usually pretending to be interested in my background, asking if I have time to chat about the position or if I can connect them with the right person.

As is typical for large nonprofits, we are very busy. I don’t have time to chat with these strangers and, frankly, I don’t appreciate that they are seemingly trying to circumvent the hiring process by contacting me directly, especially because I’m rarely involved in the recruitment process. Is there some sort of disclaimer that would be appropriate to list on my LinkedIn profile explaining that if they’re contacting me for a position at the company, they should just apply on the website (like we’ve asked)? Or do I just have to suck it up and deal with these types of requests because on some level, that’s kind of the point of LinkedIn?

Including preemptive wording on your LinkedIn profile risks being off-putting to the occasional person who you might actually want to speak with, but there’s nothing wrong with having a form message that you copy and paste saying something like, “Because we get a high volume of interest in our openings, we’ve found that the best way to get to know people is to steer them toward the application process we’ve created. If you’ve applied, we’ll definitely take a look and someone will be in touch.” If you’d like, you can add, “In part, my response is governed by my need to ruthlessly triage the demands on my calendar right now!”

There’s really no obligation that you respond to this kind of message on LinkedIn at all, but for community relations purposes in a nonprofit context it’s generally better not to just ignore people. But having a form email can make pretty short work of this.

{ 494 comments… read them below }

  1. Sami*

    OP 2: I agree that this feels icky. And Alison’s advice is good.
    But be sure to talk to the principal (or whoever is in charge) to ask if it IS a good idea/necessary for the new hire to be fully vaccinated. It may not make a difference if they will be remote, but that status could change.

    1. Prof*

      OP2, in my state the teacher won’t be on the list even when he starts reaching if he’s remote. You have to be in person. That may be a good excuse too, depending on your state.

      “Oh, since you will be remote, you won’t qualify at all”

      1. Katrinka*

        On the other hand, some states won’t let a teacher return to in person until they are fully vaccinated. And I believe it can take up to two months for the antibodies to build up to “full immunity.” I would refer him to your local health department for guidance. They should be able to tell him when he needs to get the vaccine. Here in Maryland, they are not differentiating between teachers (and school staff who interact with students) who are fully remote and those who have been conducting part-time in-person classes, because it is the state’s goal to return to hybrid learning next month, with all teachers working from their classrooms in schools.

        1. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I think this is great advice – vaccine distribution is varying SO much by state and even region right now that going to the health department for guidance seems like the best idea.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            This was my thought as well. Direct him to whatever health agency is in charge of vaccine distribution, they will know the lost up to date rules for your area.

            1. Quill*

              Yeah, the entire thing has probably confused him and he’d be kicking himself if he found out he had been eligible but thought he wasn’t. Nothing wrong with checking, but he really needs to go right ot the source.

          2. Observer*

            It also speaks to the very real possibility that the teacher asked in good faith, rather than trying to cut in line.

            1. fhqwhgads*

              Yeah, where I am right now, the tier that includes teachers specifically includes unemployed and currently-remote teachers because if they were to get hired/things go back to in-person they’d want/need to be vaccinated before starting that. Given that it’s potentially a month between first and second dose, and then supposed to wait a month after the second to have full protection, and given the difficulty of getting appointments, it’s possible he’s just trying to be on top of it, rather than trying to gain an unearned advantage. I mean, I know August is well over two months from now, but this isn’t necessarily a sneaky thing.

            2. bluephone*

              Yeah, given how messed up the distribution is county-by-county (let alone state-by-state), I think this guy is just trying to make sure he doesn’t accidentally put his new job (or his health) in jeopardy by missing out on a vaccine window. I think it’s best if OP approaches it from that perspective than going right to “eww, he’s trying to cut in front of all these ER doctors from New York Presby, what a tool!”
              Hopefully the local health department is run by people with at least half a brain and can get him sorted!

      2. pleaset cheap rolls*

        No excuses are needed. The OP should just answer the person’t question accurately (perhaps checking with the principal, etc as Sami suggests), then move on. And unless that person begins to routinely try to “get over” on stuff, just ignore it. He asked, and the answer is no. That’s it.

    2. My Dear Wormwood*

      My first thought was that he wants to be fully vaccinated *by the time he starts teaching*. Which doesn’t seem particularly outrageous to me, and probably also good for the school. However, I’m viewing this from Australia, where Covid is very well controlled and someone skipping the vaccine line frowned upon but not exactly a life and death matter. I’m guessing this feels rather different in the US right now.

      1. Rebeck*

        Admittedly there is no queue at all in Australia right now, as we don’t even have the vaccine available, so no one has really had a chance to complain about jumping this queue. In other areas of life we Australians are known to complain quite a lot about so-called “queue jumping”.

      2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        This was my take on it, especially if there’s any chance he’ll have to start doing in person stuff as soon as he officially starts. Unless he’s really framing it as “can I call myself a teacher now to cut in line” I’d treat it as a request for clarification on when he needs to get it.

        In general I don’t have that much of a problem with people who might not meet the exact specifications getting a vaccine early if they happen to have a reason to be in a position to do that. I am fully aware that higher risk people are a priority but I think it’s inevitable that a certain percentage of people will end up getting it before they “deserve” to. Except for obviously horrible unethical behaviour like that Canadian couple, I find it hard to get outraged at edge cases like this. Ultimately the goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible and I think getting hung up on perfect rules compliance leads to wasted doses.

        1. H2*

          I agree. And we don’t know that he doesn’t have other risk factors.

          Honestly, I’m a professor in a school that is in person in a high-case state, and I think we’re looking at summer to get vaccinated, the way it’s going. We’re scheduling into April for 65+. If I was starting in the fall I would want to get on the list now just to make sure it gets done by august (if you wait until, say, June to get on the list you probably won’t have two shots by august). It’s going to take six months in many areas to get through essential workers.

          Y’all…the attitude in this commentariat is that being required to do anything in person is beyond unacceptably dangerous. Can you really say that if you were going to be required to possibly work in person in August (and I’m assuming that this is an adjunct, and no one really knows what the learning situation in the fall will be yet) that you wouldn’t ask about how to get on the list? Have some grace for those of us who do have to work face to face with people all day. It’s stressful. You can’t judge someone for wanting to take care of this now.

          1. TheseOldWings*

            I totally agree. It seems like a perfectly legitimate question to ask, because who knows how long it’s going to take to actually get the vaccine once he’s on the list? And he should absolutely be vaccinated by the time he begins his classes in August. Hopefully we will have a bunch of vaccine options by the summer and this won’t really be an issue, but it’s odd to me that people find this icky or act like he’s trying to cut in line.

          2. Sunflower*

            Thank you- I completely agree with you! I’m wondering if anyone saying this has tried to get a vaccine through a regular appointment? It seems like hospitals/schools/workplaces getting direct shipments aren’t having problems getting them but all the other people can’t get one at all. I am trying to get one for my dad(71, lung issues, essential airport worker) and at this point, all the pharmacies are just like ‘we don’t have anything, try again later’. If you think it’s as simple as you’re eligible and you sign up immediately after and wait patiently…that couldn’t be more wrong.

            This thing has been a mess. I have absolutely zero faith in the rollout and don’t blame anyone who is required to be in person for wanting to get this taken care of ASAP.

            1. Datalie*

              Try a federally qualified health center– HRSA is starting a direct vaccine allocation program for FQHCs with higher volumes of at-risk patient populations so access should be increasing in the next few weeks. (You can search Find a Health Center and use that site to locate one near you).

              1. Anon for this one.*

                I think one has to be a patient there already to access those. Not sure. The point is for those vaccines to reach the most vulnerable who don’t have transportation or have other reasons they can’t get the vaccine the traditional way. I don’t think everyone eligible can just show up there to get one.

            2. Boof*

              My husband (substitute teacher K-12) and mom in law (over 65) had to sit on a website madly hitting refresh to get an appt 6+ weeks out (and in my husband’s case, since he was later to the party out of confusion over the whole thing, still has to drive 2 hrs just for that appt)

            3. Self Employed*

              I am sorry about your father’s situation. That’s awful.

              Have you checked your county public health website for information on vaccine distribution? My county isn’t doing pharmacies AT ALL yet; just the county and some large medical systems (Kaiser etc.). However, they just switched to a “No Wrong Door” policy where anyone who qualifies can go to the county vaccination clinics even if they are patients at Kaiser or whatever. The vaccine allotments and appointment systems were just so badly effed up that it was keeping eligible people from being vaccinated.

              I don’t know if all states are giving county-level public health departments the last word on vaccination planning, but they’re probably the first place to look.

          3. Elizabeth*

            Exactly how I was thinking. I’d want him fully vaccinated before he starts teaching because the chain of exposure from schools is so incredible. And I’m in Canada – our numbers are lower per capita than the US, on average.

          4. Name (Required)*

            Well said. We can’t judge people who to choose to interact with others, but then also turn around and judge others that HAVE to interact with others at work for asking about when it’s their turn.

          5. Almost Empty Nester*

            Thank you! Starting to feel like I’m in the twilight zone over here! I would think it’s absolutely ok for him to ask about getting the vaccine as a teacher since he’s going to be one in August. Perhaps he didn’t know that most or all of his classes would be online? And who knows what the world will look like in August! Hell we don’t even know what it’s gonna look like in April at this point! I agree with you…let’s have some grace for him and don’t assume he’s hatching some nefarious plot to jump the vaccination line.

              1. UKDancer*

                This. Answer the question or direct him to the agency / department which can answer the question. I think I’d avoid getting drawn into your opinion of him for asking the question.

                I really don’t think there’s anything wrong in asking about whether someone can get the vaccine. I’m way down the list of people likely to get it and if I were doing a job which increased my chance of getting vaccinated, I’d certainly want to ask about it. If the answer was “no” that would be fine but I would want to ask the question.

              2. Weekend Please*

                Yes. This sounds like he was asking a question to try to clarify if he is in fact eligible, not like he is trying to cheat the system. Depending on the OP’s position it may be better to refer him to HR to sort it out. If he were trying to cheat he would simply sign up and say he was a teacher.

            1. Scarlet2*

              “Starting to feel like I’m in the twilight zone over here!”

              You and me both. I had no idea it was so potentially controversial to just *ask* if you can get a vaccine…

              1. Name Required*

                Third. We have no idea whether this person is high-risk and the distribution plan in the US has been all over the place. My husband has a heart condition and works in-person for a school system. He won’t qualify for a vaccine when teachers get them. I have lung scarring from previous acute reactions to respiratory viruses. Because I’m not 65+, a healthcare worker, or a teacher, I get to just cross my fingers and hope my toddler doesn’t bring COVID home from daycare OR quit my job. If my employer told me that I didn’t qualify for a vaccine, “especially given how scare the vaccination slots are for high-risk groups” … y’all I would lose it.

                1. Self Employed*

                  This is the situation in California. There’s a hashtag for it on Twitter, with people sharing stories like yours: #HighRiskCA (and people in other states are modifying it for their state, of course, if it applies).

            2. Paulina*

              Maybe he is trying to see if he can jump the line, and the wording does sound like it to me, if it hasn’t been too altered by the OP’s interpretation. But given that the categories and priorities are quite coarse, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other risk factors involved that should make him a priority but currently don’t. Best to just answer the question, based on a potential need to be fully vaccinated before classes start, and not worry about whether he’s pulling anything. I certainly wouldn’t rely on “almost certainly remote in fall” or similar because that could change with insufficient warning to get vaccinated, and bringing in new teachers that wouldn’t’ve been vaccinated earlier with the others has pitfalls depending on how future vaccination is organized.

          6. EventPlannerGal*

            I agree. Plans change so quickly these days – here in the U.K. it seemed like there was a new plan for schools and universities every other day. If I was in this guy’s position, I would not assume that being told in February that teaching will be virtual means that that’s going to be true in August, you know? It makes sense that he would be asking, IMO, and all he has done is ask.

          7. Librarian of SHIELD*

            I’m glad you said this, H2. The title for this question frames it as this guy wanting to cut ahead in line, but the letter says he just asked if he’s eligible to sign up now. I don’t think this is like the boss who was making his assistant try to get him a vaccination appointment when he’s not eligible. This is someone who is on the cusp of eligibility and asked a legitimate question about when the right time would be. I know the LW said his position is “almost certainly” going to be virtual in August, but as someone with a job that can’t be done remotely who’s been going in to the office every day since this all started, I can verify that “almost” has become the world’s most terrifying word. The number of things my library’s management team have assured us were “almost certainly” guaranteed have ALL fallen through. This guy is probably just anxious and doesn’t know, and I don’t like that the LW is assigning malicious intent here.

          8. Simonthegreywarden*

            Me, too — adjunct though, but our gov has repealed mask mandates so the deaths are about to skyrocket again. I don’t even know if there is a timeline. I’m teaching online for the first 8 weeks of the semester then am back to F2F. We can request synchronous zoom classes for fall but no guarantee they’ll go and as an adjunct I am not nearly as likely to get them. In either case I’m also a professional tutor and we’ve found that, while some things can be tutored via Zoom, others just have to be done face to face (especially when working with a population for whom English is not the primary language since I’m HoH and accents really throw me during online tutoring, and since many of our ESL female students also have a tendency to speak softly which, because there are so many who do it from the same region, I have to assume is somewhat culturally mediated).

            If I thought it would make a difference to request to be on a list, bet your ass I would do it. I have a preschooler with epilepsy and a parent who is a cancer survivor. My husband is an essential worker and my partner also works at a college though in a support role. Partner’s dad has a bad heart and COPD; husband’s parents are in great health but are older than my parents or Partner’s.

        2. meyer lemon*

          To be honest, even though their behaviour was so terrible, I find it hard to get too mad about that couple flying to the Yukon, because they were basically free advertising for the vaccine. Nothing broadcasts that something is valuable like rich people trying to break rules to get it.

          1. Case of the Mondays*

            That’s why I don’t judge the CEOs and politicians that got the vaccine as harshly as others. I think there were many people afraid of side effects but if they see the most highly paid c-suite exec getting the vaccine, they may feel it is safer for them too.

      3. Junior Dev*

        yes, now is a little early to get vaccinated, but it will be about 2.5 months between when I (qualified because I volunteer at a public health nonprofit, but I got vaccinated at the same location as teachers are using) first started trying to get the vaccine and will have the full level of immunity it confers.

        1) a bunch email of back-and-forth over paperwork and scheduling and all that which ate up about a week
        2) eventually getting an appointment scheduled about 2 weeks from when I called
        3) got first vaccine last weekend
        4) will get the second vaccine 2 and a half weeks from now
        5) and then it’s supposed to take several weeks for the vaccine to really kick in and be fully effective.

        So I think the reasonable response here is to tell him to check in about 4 months before he starts teaching and see what the process is like then, and try to actually schedule his first vaccine appointment 2 months before he starts. But he isn’t outrageously early given all that.

    3. PspspspspspsKitty*

      It doesn’t feel icky to me nor do I think he is “skipping the line” as the OP puts it. He’s supposed to start teaching full time in August. He needs to be vaccinated by then. Vaccine takes weeks to be effective. I just don’t see OP can guarantee that he’ll be vaccinated properly along with weeks it takes to build immunity if he waits. The local government may have more requirements like teaching in person vs long distant.

      1. "Angel_90"*

        I’m with you PspspspspspsKitty, I don’t think it’s icky.
        But since you feel that way, OP, I would keep in mind: He asked you to help him promote his own and others’ health. That’s very understandable ask. But also: you have a very easy way out; just give him a polite “no”. I would leave it at that. Not all matters are like it, but in this case: Live and let live.

      2. Treena*

        Except he’s not supposed to be teaching full time in August.

        “We just hired a new part-time, temporary employee,” and “His class will almost certainly be 100% remote, also.” This person is almost certainly an adjunct at a university, and will not be teaching in-person.

        But then again, I find the fact that teachers are being put ahead of actually vulnerable people is outrageous.

        1. LilPinkSock*

          Teachers are actually vulnerable, as many states are expecting educators to go back into classrooms—and we all know how schools are giant Petri dishes! It’s not outrageous for folks who educate and care for our kids to get their doses fairly early in the queue, and it’s not icky for this guy to ask if he qualifies.

        2. PspspspspspsKitty*

          I missed that line. But full time or not doesn’t matter. If OP can promise he won’t ever go in and the state guidelines are only in person teaching is vaccinated, then I can see a no.

          It’s still a great question. I don’t think he’s trying to do the line by asking it.

      3. Prof*

        It’s icky because there are teachers actually teaching in person right now who need to get vaccinated. He won’t be teaching until August and he will be remote…

        1. WellRed*

          Yes, this. Lots of people higher up, including health care on the list are still working and exposed NOW.

          1. Sunflower*

            There is no system ensuring that the vaccines are definitely going to those who need it now. There are lots of people who aren’t being exposed able to get the vaccine. There are also lots of essential workers being exposed who AREN’T able to get the vaccine now. My father is a 71 year old essential worker at the airport with lung issues. He can’t get an appointment- at all. Based on this, yea I’d be signing up to get the vaccine the minute I could because I could be waiting 6+ months from the day I’m told I can get it to the day I can actually find one.

            1. LilyP*

              The fact that there’s not very good systematic enforcement of priority means that individuals should be *more* thoughtful about their own risk level and avoid pushing for a slot they don’t 110% need right this second though, not just shrug and treat it like a free-for-all.

              1. Natalie*

                That’s not what people administering vaccination programs are saying, nor is simply asking if one is eligible at all pushy.

                1. Sunflower*

                  Yes! and people signing up are not getting shots right this second. As mentioned, people can not get an appointment- the ones who can aren’t able to get one for months. So if you wait until the time you need one, you’re not going to get it for months.

                  Regardless of eligibility, there is no way to determine at this time when you can expect to acquire a vaccine.

        2. bubbleon*

          My questions are 1) does he know he’ll be remote the entire time and 2) can you guarantee that for him now? If I were him and had tried to make sure I was fully vaccinated before the school year started, then found out that my “supposed to be online full time” class was actually going to involve some in person interaction, I’d be more than a little peeved that I’d been told to delay the process.

        3. PT*

          If you have a problem with that, though, you have a problem with your state health department’s eligibility guidelines, not the individual.

          It’s ridiculous to go around saying, “We need to get everyone vaccinated!” and then bully people who want to get vaccinated for being inadequately deserving of vaccine.

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            Shout it from the rooftops! The reason blue states are lagging behind certain red states in vaccine distribution (well, one of many possible and possibly nefarious reasons) is that blue states are pushing for perfectly equitable systems that ensure no one gets a vaccine before anyone more “deserving”. Red states are getting shots into arms. I’m a diehard liberal but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good here, and herd immunity protects us all.

            1. EchoGirl*

              I’d be more likely to lay a lot of this at the feet of population density and access issues, but I agree with the general idea of what you’re saying. Yes, we should try to prioritize, but at the end of the day, getting as many people vaccinated as possible is better than fewer people getting vaccinated (even if we’re not talking about a situation that ends up wasting unused doses, it’s still wasted time if you’re vaccinating fewer people in a day than you’re capable of) because everyone is nitpicking who gets to get it.

        4. meyer lemon*

          I imagine that the reason he wanted to check with the OP about it is that he wasn’t sure how eligibility worked and wanted to make sure he didn’t miss an opportunity. If he was truly trying to be nefarious and cut in line in front of someone with more need, why would he ask? It doesn’t sound like he needs official permission.

          If I were the OP, I would just refer him to whatever local heath authority resources would have more detail about eligibility for teachers. Whether he’s trying to cut the line or just wants answers, that should tell him what he needs to know.

      4. Natalie*

        Yeah, I’m not sure where “skipping the line” is even coming from? It sounds like he asked for some clarity about whether he’s considered a teacher now or not. The letter writer seems to be making a value judgment about whether or not he needs to be vaccinated, but I don’t see how that’s relevant. No one’s asking eligible groups to skip the vaccination if they work remotely or otherwise don’t “need” it and could wait longer.

        1. Washi*

          Yeah, I don’t really see the problem in asking politely. There are plenty of instances of vaccine prioritization being wonky and the general advice is to take a vaccine if you are offered it, because if you don’t, there’s no guarantee it will go to someone who needs it more. Everyone at my healthcare nonprofit, even administrative personnel, has been offered the vaccine now. I don’t know if a new temp onboarded tomorrow would qualify, but I wouldn’t judge them for asking.

          1. Mockingjay*

            My state has done a terrible job with vaccine rollout, so people ask these questions all the time. I don’t think he’s asking for special privilege, just where he fits in the queue.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Yup – the fact it was basically turned into 50 separate campaigns means that there is a ton of confusion over who qualifies and when. People blatantly acting like they are more important and are trying to jump the queue I will judge all day long – but someone who is just asking questions to try and understand the queue – they get Grace and answers because this has been quite the disorganized mess of a campaign.

              1. bluephone*

                Word to all of this. Pennsylvania initially restricted the vaccine to people above 75 with various health conditions but they weren’t swimming in available doses. THEN they opened that group up to *anyone* over 75, regardless of overall health, and some other groups that had originally been a lower priority. So of course the demand far outstrips the supply. Philadelphia in particular bungled its rollout by putting it all in the hands of 22 year olds with no public health/medical/science experience (literally) and then being all surprised pikachu face when it imploded. So now PA as a whole is like, 44th in the ranking for states that vaccinated their residents. Out of 50 states. 50 states that include states like Florida. Any public support Gov. Wolf had for how he’s handled COVID up until now has been totally decimated.
                So yeah, that’s what we’re dealing with in the U.S. and I don’t blame this dude for doing whatever he can to make sure his “i”s are dotted and his “t”s are crossed.

          2. Kalros, the mother of all thresher maws*

            Yeah, exactly – if he was intent on skipping the line he could just call himself a teacher without checking with anyone, I imagine he’s asking because he’s genuinely unsure how to proceed and what “counts.” There is a genuine need to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, and there is a lot of advice to the effect of “as soon as you can, get it,” so even if the answer is no, I wouldn’t assume he’s being a selfish prick.

            1. pleaset cheap rolls*

              THIS. He might be selfish, but we can’t determine that from one action, which might be perfectly innocuous.

            2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Yup – if he just asks, accepts the answer of not yet, and goes on his way without a fuss (or just an answer of can you let me know when I do qualify then), then you know all he was trying to do is be proactive while getting better informed.
              I would only judge if he is pushy about not accepting the answer he got.

          3. Tired of Covid-and People*

            The vaccine rollout process has been horrible. Priority should have been given to those most likely to get seriously ill or die, not those at theoretical risk. Remember, the virus has been out for a year, and other than in meatpacking plants, there have been no workplace outbreaks large enough to shut down operations. So no, a healthy 25 year old working in a hospital should not be ahead of a 65 year old with diabetes and heart disease just because of their place of employment. Unfortunately, black and native people have had much higher hospitalization and death rates, yet they are getting fewer vaccines. Vaccinating vulnerable people such as the homeless is almost an afterthought.

            It’s a cluster, and I almost feel like it’s every person for themselves, Hunger Games practically. I’m old and with co-morbidities, and was not happy to not be in the top priority group. It’s like telling us our lives are less valuable. Even when my group became eligible, appointments were still being taken mostly by the first group, and even scheduling an appointment was virtually impossible. The blame lies squarely on not using the Defense Production Act to make sufficient vaccine production a number one priority. I think the prior administration wanted the country to be weakened and in fear as a control tactic. Reprehensible.

            OP, I would tell them to follow their conscience. Non-worksite vaccine providers are not requiring verification of claims made when scheduling appointments. If he feels he is teacher-adjacent enough to take a vaccine at this time, that’s his judgement to make. You don’t have to help or encourage him. I appreciate that you are concerned about ethics.

            1. H2*

              The way the guidelines are makes sense because people who are being asked to work in person don’t exist in a bubble. I have a kid at home with a risk factor. Kids won’t be vaccinated for years, and he won’t be vaccinated possibly ever because he has a life-threatening allergy. So the fact that I am a relatively healthy middle-aged person is irrelevant. I’m at very high risk of getting covid, and therefore to spreading it to the people I live with (and my husband is also an essential worker, so then there’s the potential for spreading it to a bunch of people he works with…).

            2. Not playing your game anymore*

              For what it’s worth, things are getting better. At least in some places. I live in a state that’s been frequently held up as a terrible example on various media. Something, meat packing plant, something motorcycles… And several of my native friends basically have different groups begging to vaccinate them. One of the big health systems, IHS, the local tribal authorities. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad for them and will wait patiently till March, April, May or whenever for my own jab.

            3. Trolly*

              Um, it makes perfect sense to vaccinate the health care workers who have to take care of people who get sick – including you if you get sick? That benefits all of us. Staffing shortages have been real in health care . . .

            4. Observer*

              Remember, the virus has been out for a year, and other than in meatpacking plants, there have been no workplace outbreaks large enough to shut down operations.
              .
              >
              Unfortunately, black and native people have had much higher hospitalization and death rates, yet they are getting fewer vaccines

              One of the reasons is <people like you who are so full of their own righteousness that they don’t actually understand how this stuff works.

              It doesn’t matter if there have been workplace outbreaks large enough to shit a facility down. We KNOW that one of the highest predictors of illness and death is EXPOSURE. And a job with exposure to the public is one of the highest risk types of situations, whether or not there is a workplace event large enough to shut the place down!

              There is plenty of blame to go around. The reality is that many states have not managed to use all of the vaccines that they have! Of course, having more vaccines would be better, but there is no excuse for what’s happening in states like NY, where SUPPOSEDLY the concern is for equity and risk, but where the system seems to have been set up to make it as hard as possible for lower income / minority people to get an appointment. That’s probably not the actual intent, but the reality is that you need a LOT of resources to make this work and none of what’s wrong here is remotely difficult to see if you are paying attention.

              1. Self Employed*

                I was unhappy about the Stanford teaching hospital executives who never step foot in patient treatment areas of Stanford Hospital getting shots so the vaccine ran out before the Stanford residents intubating COVID patients could get it.

                But I’ve read enough first-person accounts from the folks treating COVID patients to know how bad their working conditions are (overwork, patients who often die on them, etc.) and the worry of wondering WHEN, not IF they will catch it and HOW BAD it will be is absolutely inhumane. They often get very severe cases because the viral load they get in the hospital is much higher than what someone gets going to church in person with a superspreader a few pews away. And as a practical matter, we don’t need our medical staff incapacitated (or quitting over the stress as some do) during a pandemic.

            5. clogerati*

              I’m confused by your assertion that there have been no workplace outbreaks large enough to shut down operations because that’s…not true? My workplace had to shut down for nearly a month because of an outbreak amongst our staff and I know of several other places that have (we’re in food and beverage). Are you talking about operations on a larger scale that affects supply chains, because there have also been huge disruptions because of outbreaks at that level.

            6. fhqwhgads*

              The priority isn’t “who is most likely to die if they get it”. It is “who is most likely to be frequently exposed to it, and thus others, and thus if they get it it will be spread more widely”. Beyond that it’s been “people who do things that society can’t function without”. Then people who, if they get it, are likely to die. Some places had to quicky rejigger their priority system because hospitals and/or ICUs were at 0% capacity. So in those cases, the elderly shot up the list (but not younger people with likely bad outcomes) because at the time, the people most likely to end up in hospital were people in that age group. So when the mandate is “make room in hospitals now” the priority shifts to “people most likely to end up in hospital if they get it”. Then once there’s breathing room on that front, they switch back to the exposure factor.
              I personally am very likely to have severe complications if I get it. But I also do not have to leave my house more than once a month, so it’s hard for me to logically argue the priority is wrong. Emotionally, I’d love to be higher on the list – as I was in the original plan – but it makes sense that I’m not anymore given the needs of society as a whole.

            7. Patty Mayonnaise*

              Along with what others have commented, I’ll add that a least some cities are prioritizing their unhoused populations – people in shelters, recovery programs, and other vulernable groups have been able to get the vaccine for a while now in my city.

              1. Self Employed*

                The jails and ICE facilities have been having terrible outbreaks because nobody can socially isolate (and I think a lot of guards are careless in their free time and get exposed). Some states have started vaccinating people in jails and prisons so of course there’s backlash about letting “criminals” have the vaccine. Well, they don’t have a choice to isolate, and if their crime didn’t have the death penalty, they shouldn’t die of COVID. (Our jail has mainly people who couldn’t make bail so technically they’re innocent before a trial finds guilt–even worse for them.)

            8. jojo*

              They can only make as much vaccine as they have facilities to produce. It must be a totally sterile environment and overseen by licensed persons. Look at all the contaminated testing supplies that came out. They made as much vaccine as they could considering they were basically starting from scratch.

            9. AntsOnMyTable*

              I completely disagree with you. People working in hospitals, with COVID patients, should absolutely get priority regardless of their risk of dying. First of all, a lot of the limiting factor in caring for patients have been LACK of STAFF and not lack of beds. You don’t want all the nurses and doctors getting sick. Also, those of us caring for COVID patients have been putting ourselves at risk more than any other worker out there. In my immediate family two of us have gotten COVID. Both of us are nurses working in the hospital. Outside of work we DO NOT interact with people it was completely from work.

              And just because we might not die (btw, one was hospitalized for 2 days and still can’t breathe properly) the complications from COVID are turning out to be pretty serious even for people who had mild cases.

              If that 65 year old with diabetes and heart disease can stay home then no – they don’t get to come in front of the healthcare worker who has close and constant exposure to COVID every time they work (often without adequate supplies).

          4. Sue3PO*

            Exactly. I’m a healthcare provider and I know from seeing colleagues who were more hesitant to get the vaccine that it’s not like boarding an airplane (where if your group is called but you just pulled everything out of your purse or something you can always board with the next group), it’s a window that’s open for a minute and then it’s hard to schedule once they’ve moved on to some other group. I’d absolutely advise anyone whose colleagues are getting vaccines to find out if they’re also on that list since it may be a while before it’s a possibility again.

        2. Scarlet2*

          Exactly. Here in Europe, the biggest concern I hear about is whether too many people will refuse to be vaccinated because they “distrust” the vaccine (even though I personally think the most pressing issue is getting enough vaccines to start with…). I’d say the more people get vaccinated, the better for everyone.
          And many people seem to assume that that guy will *for sure* be teaching remotely. In my country, teachers don’t know if they’ll be teaching remotely, in person or according to some hybrid model from one week to the next. So many things could change by August…

          1. H2*

            I think this is an important point, and I made it too—we have no idea what we’re going to be asked to do in the fall. Why wouldn’t you want to cover your bases?

          2. Homophone Hattie*

            Yes, exactly. It’s in a lot of people’s interests that schools be face-to-face sooner rather than later (and I don’t just mean that in an ominous way; many students are having a very hard time with remote learning). A lot of jurisdictions around the world have flip-flopped or changed their policies, often without particular regard for the safety of the staff or students.

          3. Allonge*

            This. Fraud should of course be discouraged, but let’s please not treat people wanting to or getting vaccinated like trash. If all goes well, in a few months the problem people will be those that don’t want the jab.

            1. Self Employed*

              My county already has a problem that 1/3 to 1/2 of the police, sheriffs, guards, and court staff are refusing the vaccine but still want to go to work in contact with the public and/or people under custody.

        3. MCMonkeybean*

          I agree it seems to me like he’s come at this with a “no harm in asking!” attitude. So if OP says, sorry I don’t think it works like that and the new hire says okay then I would not hold this against him.

          I also agree with others that he should get vaccinated before he starts in August so that the immunity is built up in time. But oh goodness I really hope that by June/July we’re at a point where we’re all signing up anyway…

      5. Nope.*

        Not to mention, all he did was ask. Did he push back when OP said no? Did he go and find a way to get it anyway? Did he mark “yes” on the form despite the OP’s answer? No. None of those things have happened. This guy is being assigned a whole lot of skeeviness and assumed malice (by others, not you!), and it’s disappointing to see.

        1. AndersonDarling*

          Mentioning the vaccination is such a trigger. I was on a call last week where people were joking about dressing up as seniors to get the vaccination and I got pissed hearing it. I had to remind myself that these people were JUST JOKING and were not going to put on a wig and sneak into a senior center. The conversation wasn’t appropriate, but I needed to recognize the context and reframe it.
          Asking when a teacher should get vaccinated is JUST A QUESTION, it is not an underhanded deceptive ploy to get a vaccination. It will be obvious if the conversation eventually crosses the line into gaming the system. But this is the same as asking when they will receive their laptop so they can begin work.

          1. Quill*

            NGL I am VERY jealous of the people getting vaccinated but hopefully not taking it out on anyone, mostly because I know that even if prioritization is messed up, absent extreme system manipulation most people are just getting it whenever they can, which does incrementally make things safer for the people around them.

      6. Ashley*

        1 st done, wait 3 weeks, wait another couple of weeks for full effect – He should be asking in May about sign ups for June not February where there are way to many people that are required to be in person with people everyday that can’t get the vaccine from teachers, to inmates, to grocery store workers. Those who aren’t dealing with daily in person requirements and don’t have major underlying health conditions need to sit back and wait.

        1. H2*

          Except in my area we are scheduling first shots more than two months out (and we haven’t even started scheduling essential workers, and once we start that we’ll probably be scheduling 3 months out), so February is the right time to ask, so that you can figure out the situation to call in March.

          1. bubbleon*

            +1 to this. If my county continues getting vaccines at the rate we have been, our current waiting list for 1A vaccines is 3 years long. They only email a small group of people next in line to schedule appointments when they have the vaccine in hand so they don’t have to cancel anyone who schedules months in advance. Depending on where he is, this could absolutely be the time to ask.

          2. Willis*

            Yeah, this. And depending on where he lives, it could take several weeks and multiple attempts just to be able to schedule an appointment that is another few weeks away. He could just be trying to plan for the fall, which would make sense if the school hasn’t guaranteed his class will be remote.

          3. Insert Clever Name Here*

            Absolutely this. I’m in a mid-level priority group because of my job, and have already been asked to register my intention to take the vaccine or not (I intend to get it) even though my company doesn’t even have them yet because of all the logistics involved in the company getting the vaccine, and then ultimately determining if enough people are vaccinated to safely go back to the office. If I ask for an update, it’s not because I’m trying to jump the line, it’s to determine “when do I need to schedule the time that I’m going to get in line.”

        2. Allonge*

          He is not asking OP to set up an appointment for him, he is asking if he is eligible! It’s called planning, also.

          We want people to be proactive about getting vaccinated. If everyone waits with even starting to figure out if they can get the vaccine until they are 100% sure it’s their turn, we will be still at home in ten years’ time.

        3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Well, if he just got hired I can see this being one of the many questions that a new hire might have about how things work at their new job. Even though they don’t expect that they will be in-person and they won’t even start until August it doesn’t seem outrageous to ask what the procedures are.

          Obviously if the tone was more like “now that I’m a teacher I demand to get a vaccine TODAY” that’s different. But merely asking whether he now qualifies to get a vaccine sooner is perfectly reasonable. To be honest if I had something like a new job that might make me eligible to get it sooner I’d be exploring it, too.

        4. LilPinkSock*

          Hi. My father is 72 with several comorbidities. By every guideline, he should be first in line to get his doses—but because of demand and his inability to attend one of the giant community clinics in his city, he was scheduled in January for…early April. He was told that despite his major underlying health conditions, he can just sit back and wait.

          For all we know, this new hire also has underlying health conditions, he’s simply asking where he can join the line, and he’s also content to sit back and wait. I don’t know why we’re so determined to ascribe malice to a reasonable question.

      7. Ace in the Hole*

        Additionally, he’s not trying to cut in line… he’s trying to find out where the line is! As OP points out, he doesn’t need any employer verification to claim that he’s a teacher. So if he really was trying to go out of turn presumably he’d just claim he was a teacher without asking. Instead he’s asking a (presumably knowledgeable) authority figure whether or not it IS appropriate.

        If the answer is no, say so – but don’t look down on him for asking.

    4. 123Rew*

      (Disclaimer: not in usa)
      It doesn’t seem icky to me. He will be a teacher in August and wats to be vaccinated by then. Asking if he is now entitled to vaccination time, it’s a fair enough question since it is unlear if they are entitled to it in July. But I don’t see this as cutting the line. Here the wait time between vaccinations is 12 weeks. I might get the vaccination by the end of 2021, but if I knew I was going to work with general public and my future collegues were getting their vaxx, I would ask.

    5. Akcipitrokulo*

      Don’t see as icky – I see it as someone wanting to be fully vaccinated before coming into contact with students.

      The answer may be no, but request makes sense.

    6. NYCProf*

      There’s nothing icky about someone who may be teaching in person in August asking vaccine eligibility now. As many have said, now is exactly when university professors need to be thinking about this so they have time to make an appointment and for immunity to build. Also, if any change is going to be made to a class (say, listing it as a remote course rather than possibly in-person) that decision should be made this spring when the catalogue goes live, and professors need to know if/when they are eligible for vaccination so they can advocate for themselves.

      Many university administrations have treated professors horribly during this crisis, and many have died. Adjuncts have particularly little power and I hope you are strongly advocating for adjuncts to be considered teachers months in advance of their start date so they can be vaccinated and have full immunity before the class starts on par with FT professors. And if you’re located in a state where educators aren’t eligible (or, as in many states, where college/university educators are in a lower eligibility band than k-12), I would hope no one is forced back into a classroom until they have a vaccine.

      Also, to folks suggesting contacting the health department, decisions about university level educators are wildly inconsistent. In my state (not NY, despite my username) the decision is made on the COUNTY level, and most counties have not issued any guidance. For many of us, there is literally no way to know if “educator” includes all college professors, just those teaching in person, or none of us. The fact that this person asked, rather than just checking the box, indicates quite a high level of ethical concern here given the level of uncertainty.

      I hope you respond that yes, he is an educator, if there is any chance he’ll be teaching in person come August. And if not, please don’t use shaming language about high-risk groups.

    7. KeepIt*

      I can’t………What is with these judgmental “he’s icky bc he asked a question” responses here. He asked a question. A perfectly reasonable answer would be “no, sorry you don’t qualify right now”. Why assume bad faith?

    8. joss*

      Keep in mind that, since this is a worldwide problem, vaccine shortage may well persist into Fall or possibly later. With the current vaccines available you would not want to exclude him from claiming to be a teacher after say mid June and possibly earlier depending on wait times. Currently it is 2 shots with 3 0r 4 weeks in between and after the second shot it takes 2 weeks for optimal effect. So you just need to count backwards

    9. ES*

      I am a receptionist in a medical office. I work with dozens of elderly people every day. When our practice was allowed vaccine appointments I asked my boss if my position counted as “patient facing” because I do work directly with patients, but I don’t provide medical care. I was told to get the shot, which has kept the practice and our patients safer. It wasn’t my intention to “cut the line” but to make sure I was following the correct process during a time where guidance is incredibly limited. It sounds to me like this new hire was doing the same and I’m astonished by how quickly people are to judge someone asking an honest question.

    10. Nesprin*

      This kerfuffle reminded me of “ask” vs “guess” culture- that some subcultures consider asking questions to be rude because they force the askee to say no (guess), vs. other subcultures that consider asking/saying no to be fine and consider being expected to guess the rules on what can be asked to be rude (ask). I am very much an “ask” type, an I’d consider his question to be fine, but I do understand that others might find it presumptuous to ask.

      1. Roci*

        I identify strongly with guess culture, but I don’t think the guy was wrong for asking. Guess culture relies on everyone understanding the policies and norms and being able to read the environment. So many arguments, even on this thread, boil down to, “Of COURSE he should know to wait, because [details about how the vaccine is rolled out locally]”. But then someone else responds with different regulations. So we’re all reading different atmospheres here.

        Guess culture is more like when meeting room was being noisy, and someone noticed that I kept glancing over at the room and got up to shut the door.

  2. PollyQ*

    #4 — If “because they’re going to fire you if you keep doing it” isn’t reason enough, think about it this way: How would you feel if you’d bought something online for a given price, but then they’d thrown something else in that you didn’t ask for, and then not only charged for it, but added a 50% fee on top. You would also have no possibility of declining the purchase or returning it. You’d be legally required to pay that bill. That’s what you’re doing to your employer.

    1. Snuck*

      There’s other things to consider in #4’s employment situation… not about their work, but the way it’s perceived. I cannot tell you the number of times I have, as a business efficiency expert, stepped into a team and there’s ALWAYS a couple of ‘tropes’. The person who is lazy but everyone likes. The person who gets lots done and it’s all got faults in it/not enough attention to detail. The person who hordes work and won’t allow others to do some of it even when directed, to the point that the entire workflow will collapse if they take time off. The person who always has to work longer, harder, more than others, always finishing other people’s tasks or taking on extra projects. The person who arrives late, leaves early, takes loads of leave but somehow always comes in with great results. I could go on…

      These people are ALL management ‘issues’ or ‘challenges’ of one kind or another depending on the work roles involved. When you are trying to manage work flow through a team you actually need to know what the work is, and where it flows/stops. All of these people affect the flow in different ways, and being a ‘workaholic’ is fabulous until you go on leave/have a baby/get too overworked and need to stop for a while. Suddenly the brakes are on, and management has to work out why work isn’t flowing anymore. What has happened? Why is there a bottle neck here, and project Y is never done on time anymore? If a workaholic leaves there’s usually a very poor understanding of just how many hours it takes to do the job and requirement to replace them can be very problematic because you think you are hiring for X but need X+Y to provide the same coverage. The close cousin of “workaholic” is “work hoarder” – the person who finds an indispensable widget point in the work process, becomes the only person doing it, and ALL WORK MUST GO THROUGH THEM. These people are even harder to manage, often you are dealing with stress/mental health challenges on top of the work bottle neck and you have to tread very carefully/lightly but still unwind the superglue/concrete bunker they have built around themselves, because you can’t have an entire workflow depending on the skills of a single person.

      A workaholic who is covering for lower performers on the team is also creating a situation where toxic or unpleasant work attitudes can abound. If you are always covering / picking up the work of Aimee, but Jane doesn’t get hte same pleasure, are you playing favourites? That causes a fresh cake of unhappiness!

      Beware the work aholic. The hoarder. The nice but lazy person. They all come at a price. It might be a price you are willing to pay, but you are best to be aware of it before you sign on.

      1. Snuck*

        I will add… business efficiency / improvement specialists are not brought into teams that are functioning well usually… so I have a biased view of the world.

        1. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

          There was actually a letter where someone was secretly working 16 hours/day and so gave management the impression that long and complex tasks could be completed within a business day. When the whole thing collapsed and a major project fell through it was… not pretty.
          To be fair, OP has not reached such extreme yet, but IME workaholics only get worse over time if they don’t actively try to set boundaries. It’s a very tricky mindset, because the more you do, the more you feel indispensable and work even more…

          1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

            I have a colleague who frequently works long hours (our labour laws are different so the company doesn’t pay for the overtime unless it’s pre-approved, but he’s not doing it for the overtime) and is also faster than the rest of us.

            Unfortunately it creates ridiculous expectations of how long the work should take, which means project budgets are unrealistic.

            It also makes the rest of us (mostly fairly high performing) look less capable.

            1. Anon for this one too*

              Ugh… I have a coworker (salaried) that works constantly. I think she regularly works 15 hour days. I absolutely refuse to work like that and it was never expected until she started doing it. Now I look “less than” compared to her because I work 10 hour days instead of 15. It’s infuriating.

        2. Firecat*

          I don’t see a problem with someone who comes in late, leaves early, and delivers stellar results. Honing in on this as a “problem” is a great way to have an effecienct worker leave your team. Especially of the work hoarder is on their te – what are they suppos d to do. Sit and pretend to be working to make everyone feel better?

          I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been put in a role where the prior person worked 50-60 hour weeks consistently and I am able to get it all done in 35 hours with fewer errors. Some people are just quick.

          1. A Simple Narwhal*

            It’s great if you have someone who is stellar at something, it’s a problem when management expects everyone to be able to deliver the same high quality in the same short amount of time and then gets mad when they can’t deliver. It’s great to be exceptional at something, it’s unfair to expect exceptionalism to be the norm and perfectly good to be failing.

            Though upon closer review I don’t think Snuck or PollyQ were saying anything against people who are just quick and still good at their jobs.

          2. Twenty Points for the Copier*

            I think it may be a problem in that it’s something that you need to be aware of, since any replacement may not be able to get the same results in the same number of hours.

          3. Smithy*

            I think this also depends on the broader nature of the work. While there are certainly a number of individual contributor jobs where their own work output is the primary feature – in my experience it’s often a case where those stellar results are tied to one highly important KPI/goal, and then are allowed to slide on all other softer duties.

            Examples can include skipping work like team member onboarding/training or doing it poorly. Having their attendance cause other teams to constantly be shuffling/reorganizing schedules – and cutting into their colleagues’ ability to be productive. However, because this person delivers on the high visibility KPI – those specific issues are often glossed over and therefore not necessarily able to be articulated.

      2. Knope Knope Knope*

        Yes this! I have long dealt with employees on various teams who think being available at all hours is a sign of a good attitude/dedication to the job–even if they aren’t requesting overtime. In reality, they are preventing us from developing scalable systems that upskill our entire company in the areas we support (part of my mandate), or obfuscating an important data point that I need to make a case for budget for additional headcount, efficiency tools etc. And as you point out, the whole system collapses when someone like this eventually takes their (deserved!) vacation time or burns out. I much, much, much prefer an honest and efficient employee to a “workaholic” every single time.

        1. Ama*

          Yes, I had a direct report who was one of our few non-exempt employees and it was really hard trying to get her to understand that if she checked her email and responded to something from home we had to pay her for that time, because so many of her coworkers who seemed to have similar positions (but were considered exempt due to a slight but important difference in their job duties), and did stuff like that all the time. Onne day when she laughed off my admonition not to send emails in her off hours, I finally realized she thought I was just being a “nice boss.” I immediately got serious and explained to her both that our employer could get in big trouble if she did work we didn’t pay her for and that if she was routinely needing overtime I needed to know that because it would let me make the case for more staff.

          Interestingly she ended up leaving for a job that was less rigidly structured in terms of hours (she was a night owl who really did prefer doing work outside of the traditional 9 to 5) but the rest of the time she was with us she didn’t do work that she didn’t report (and we only had to pay her overtime on a few occasions when we knew well in advance that it would happen).

          1. jojo*

            This. We are government contract. The janitorial company lost its contract a couple of years ago for both underpaying and having people work off the clock. So type of contract can have effect on things too.

      3. Nonny*

        Snuck, this is a really interesting perspective. How do you tell the difference between the workaholic who is doing it voluntarily and the workaholic who is being forced into it due to lack infrastructure, resources, management understanding what it takes to get the job done?

        When you work with teams, do you find yourself coaching management and staff equally or more one vs the other?

      4. BenAdminGeek*

        Oh man, I think I’ve been ALL of these at various earlier parts of my career…. I like to think I’ve improved.

      5. Lolly and the Adverbs*

        Smiling here because I think you just described my workplace. Previously, when my department had more people, we had the go-getter who everyone liked, but frequently had a plate full of work; there was the one who was frequently out, but really appreciated because they understood aspects of their job that previous people in the same position didn’t get; the other one who was frequently out, had major language barriers, failed to do assigned tasks, and was more apt to be found shopping for a house for their kids or looking at religious statues online then doing the tasks they were asked to do; and the one who worked when they wanted and didn’t work when they didn’t want to, and got away with it because they were related to the big boss. Then there was me, the senior most person in the department, with no real authority, more of a team lead type. I was the one who paid attention to all of it. Learned what I could even if technically wasn’t part of my job description. Became the one with the most vacation time available because I never felt I could take off because, more than likely, someone else (or maybe multiples of them) would be out of the office and their tasks would fall to me. There’s an unwritten policy about at least one of us needing to be in at all times, as much as possible.
        Now there’s fewer of us (less than a third) and my boss gets annoyed with me because they don’t know where things are or how they work, although they’ve had time in the past to learn but never bothered, and when they try to learn it’s like trying to teach an intern about the job. I still have the most amount of vacation, and have been craving a staycation for weeks, but I can’t because my relief person has family obligations coming up with undefined days that they’ll be needed. Last month was a major chore, with constant work. Now I can sit around doing nothing for most of the day and then get slammed with a project that keeps me busy all afternoon because the other department that we work with didn’t get their portion of the work done until the last minute.
        Workaholic, maybe, but it’s often just a much as the cast around me as it is me.
        If OP actually has that much work, wherein it’s actually necessary to put in that much effort, they need to discuss that fact with their boss.

      6. Anon Admin*

        Ooof, ouch. I’m somewhere between workaholic and work hoarder, though I’ve tried to fight it. The number of people I support has grown even though the way we count support hasn’t really (we count by office, but the sizes of the offices can fluctuate). I’ve also dedicated time to try to combat being a linchpin by creating docs that I pour my institutional knowledge into for those covering me when I’m out, but that only helps if they actually check it. (I do try to train them too, but some of it just doesn’t stick unless you’re doing it all the time, and they aren’t since it’s my job.)

      7. Self Employed*

        Good points, but I’m not sure if they apply to LW if the overtime they’re putting in is just half an hour or so. Were you just addressing the sort of humblebragging about being a workaholic?

    2. lailaaaaah*

      Also, if your workload is heavy enough that you feel regularly compelled to do overtime, that’s something you need to talk to your manager about, stat. Maybe nothing can be done, or maybe some things can be reprioritised, but there are definitely a bunch of ways you could go about resolving the issue that don’t involve you getting calls from HR for unauthorised overtime.

      1. yokozbornak*

        We have the unauthorized OT issue at my workplace because people skip lunch. Unfortunately, leaving early is not an option if someone misses lunch so they will get paid OT. The OP had 7 hours of time last month and probably doesn’t see this as a big deal, but now calculate what happens when one-third or one-half of a large workforce does this. It suddenly becomes hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime that is generally unnecessary. With the current economy, this could be the difference between the company being in the red or black this year which means it could eventually lead to lay-offs. The OP is being asked to stop for a reason and needs to listen. She may not see the big picture of why this is a problem, but someone does.

        1. AntsOnMyTable*

          Plus 7 hrs is a LOT. That isn’t just a few minutes. That is more than an hour and a half a week of OT so they are cutting their lunch by 15 minutes or more.

    3. Firecat*

      Except their are ways to avoid this, if the OP isn’t in California. Tell them to leave early Friday an equivalent amount to their OT. Dig into their workload together, authorize the OT if needed….

      Honestly there are a lot of management failures here and it’s disengenous of HR to focus in on this as solely an OP problem. I’ve worked at so many – NO OT – places that also assigned 45+ hours of work a week and came down hard on everyone not delivering. At each of these places working unpaid OT was common. Management would occasionally go on about – now we expect everyone to clock in for all hours worked be sure and do it! – but in the next breath complain about OT numbers.

      Now if OP had just said they want shorter lunches I’d feel differently but they made it clear it’s a workload issue.

      1. Natalie*

        They didn’t actually say it was solely a workload issue, and they mentioned this being a problem at all jobs and more of a problem since they’re working from home. That suggests to me that a significant factor is their own internal controls.

      2. hbc*

        Your experience is that management assigns too much work for a non-OT schedule, but my experience is that there is always more to do. A heavy workload for one of my employees means some lower priority things get dropped or are delivered late. They don’t just get to decide that it’s worth 1.5x their normal pay rate to get the stuff done.

        OP doesn’t yet have any evidence that the company will ding her for the work not completed in those seven hours, so she at least needs to follow the clear instructions until they prove themselves jerks.

      3. yokozbornak*

        The workload issue needs to become the issue of management, not the OP. If she can’t get the work done without OT, she needs to communicate that with her supervisor and ask for guidance.

      4. PT*

        “At each of these places working unpaid OT was common. ”

        Unpaid OT was expected at most places I have worked as well: it is important to read between the lines, when you’re given 50 hours of work and told to not clock any OT, what your boss is actually telling you to do.

      5. Not playing your game anymore*

        But that’s not always possible, or even reasonable. For us, it’s a coverage issue. Even in these wfh times. I need someone to open and someone to close (busiest 1/2 hours of the day are opening time and closing time) So I need you there at both ends of your shift and your working thru lunch really messes things up. It’s not a matter of powering thru your day, it’s being there to answer the phone at 4:30 and getting customers out and locking the doors by 5. Then when I look at your time card and you’ve already got 37 hours in by Friday morning and you want the afternoon off? So that means someone needs to cover your phone and email? Or I need to pay you overtime? Heck with that. In our case, you have a schedule because that’s when I need you.

        1. Yorick*

          Yeah, this is not a management problem. OP doesn’t want to take a full hour for lunch, and she needs to just get over it and do it anyway. Or at least adjust her schedule.

        2. Firecat*

          But you said it yourself. Deal with customers at 4:30 and close by 5. Customers are notorios for staying late. So if you declare as a manager – not my problem – then yeah you are the problem. You should be working with staff with OT issues to see where it is coming from. Not waiting until Friday, and making adjustments that meet the needs of the team. That’s a huge part of managing!

    4. LunaLena*

      I wish someone had explained this to me when I was young and new to the workforce. I didn’t really know what overtime was nor that it had to be authorized, much less that it could become an accounting issue. If something needed to be done, I treated it like a school assignment in that I had to work on it until it was done, and the company would pay for it. On the occasions where I did work overtime, the extra time was paid without a murmur, and no one ever told me why this was not being the good employee I thought I was being. It wasn’t until I was several years into my career and worked for a company that explicitly stated that no unauthorized overtime was allowed that it even occurred to me to wonder how the overtime affected the company’s budget.

  3. Daffy Duck*

    Upcoming teacher – I totally get that now is too early, but perhaps he can officially be counted as a teacher the month before school starts. Depending on the state you are in the general public may not be on the list come August. Getting the vaccine prior to student contact will likely save the school having to find a sub for several sick days also (one for the initial shot and possibly a couple after the booster).
    I’d really love for everyone to be vaccinated by June, but I am totally expecting not to be able to get vaccinated until September.

    1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      As far as I’m aware, I can’t go back and make changes on my state’s vaccine registration. Even if he isn’t teaching now, he will be and as noted, goodness knows if general public will be vaccinated by then. I’d be willing to think of it as part proactive, part self-preservation. It just doesn’t feel particularly outrageous to me.

      1. Sakuko*

        I was thinking that too. He might just want to make sure he’s vaccinated by August. Who knows how the state of vaccination will be by then and if you can just slip in later as a teacher and get a slot fast.

        1. JM60*

          Yup. If I were in his position, I’d want to ensure I was fully vaccinated before my start date. That means his first shot needs to be in July, and I doubt vaccines will be readily available to anyone who wants them by July.

          If I were in his position, I’d probably ask the same thing (or at least ask to be considered a teacher a few months early). I wouldn’t think of it as securing a spot in line, not jumping the line.

      2. Jane*

        If he will be in a classroom I’d help him get vaccinated in May or even April. It takes 6 weeks for the vaccine to be fully effective, and many vaccine sites are currently scheduling into March. If he won’t be in the classroom I’d gently decline, but probably not judge.

        I’m a medically high risk essential worker in an industry (transportation) that my state has just decided to ditch from the prioritization tiers completely. There’s nothing fair or clear-cut about any of this fiasco, at least not in my state.

        I’m far, far more understanding and forgiving of someone who wants to get vaccinated for a job they have not yet quite started than I am of someone who decided to go visit family for thanksgiving or is cavalier about keeping their mask over their nose consistently.

        1. Katrinka*

          My kids are in the current category for vaccines, and I registered them as soon as that group opened up, but I am still being told it could be April unless we get more vaccines per delivery. I’m the category after them, and it will probably be May-June before I get my shot(s).

          My 82yo mother finally got hers, her second shot is tomorrow. My 86yo father, in a nursing home and with multiple comorbidities, just had his second shot this past Saturday. This rollout is ridiculous.

          1. Greg*

            Feels like this is an appropriate point to note that this isn’t a rollout issue, it’s a supply issue. The rollouts would be much smoother if we could deliver 3M doses a day throughout the country instead of the 1.2M it has been sitting at. At this point there is no way to have this rollout be effective with just the lack of vaccine that is getting to the state level.

            1. Tired of Covid-and People*

              It’s a rollout issue too, as many doses received have not gone into arms, such as nursing home set-asides and unclaimed second doses. At least this is true in my state. Yes, the quantity of vaccine is insufficient and unpredictable, making it difficult for state and local health departments to allocate and schedule appointments. It’s an unfunny comedy of errors at all levels, in supposedly the most powerful and richest country on the planet. May we all survive until the end of this nightmare.

              1. Greg*

                Fair point – there was a great article in the NYT about a developer who came up with a better website for NYS after the initial website was literally unusable.

                I guess my larger point was that if there was enough supply we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. I just had a conversation with a co-worker who was complaining that prisoners were getting vaccinated and they didn’t “deserve” it as much as he did. It was pretty disgusting. I addressed it in the moment but I know that quite a few people feel the same way regardless of the facts of the situation.

                1. Observer*

                  At this point, you have a private entity that has managed to slap a front end on the mess of New York’s systems. However, they cannot fix the underlying problems, which means that it still can take DAYS to actually make an appointment. And it’s still not possible to get on the phone and just make an appointment. Every site has its own telephone number and there is no listing anywhere. And some sites don’t even allow you to make an appointment on the phone!

                  From what I’m hearing this is not a problem unique to New York.

                  It won’t matter how many doses New York is going to get if this mess doesn’t get cleaned up!

            2. Observer*

              It’s very much a roll out issue. New York is complaining that they are not getting as many doses as they can use. The reason? Well, they don’t tell you this, but it happened because NY was so far behind in utilization that stuff was sent elsewhere. And one of the reasons for this was this stupidity of being more concerned about keeping people from getting the vaccine “out of turn” than getting shots in arms.

              Of course, we need the manufacturers to ramp up production. But that’s a problem for them unless they know that they have where to ship it to, and that the doses can be used. And that’s just not happening. If we got our act together, the work the companies are doing to ramp up production will lead to more doses available. If we don’t get our act together it won’t matter if they ramp up production or not.

              1. EchoGirl*

                I also have it on pretty good authority that the manufacturers are already working on ramping up production (my husband works for a company that supplies manufacturing equipment). It’s just not the kind of thing you can do overnight, so it may be a little while before we see that make a significant change in the supply.

      3. Zoe*

        It’s not. He should get vaccinated as soon as he’s able. He’s going to be a teacher. There’s nothing to be “skeeved” about.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          What niggles at the back of my mind because OP is picking up a hint of something skeevy, is the outlier cases of extreme lies we’ve seen in the news to get vaccine. Like the exec who flew to a rural area and claimed to be working at a local convenience store.
          Those ruin my trust in people–is this person still going to be interested in teaching on top of his FT job AFTER getting vaccinated?

          1. Natalie*

            One of the things about outliers is you’re generally not supposed to draw patterns from their behavior, because it’s, you know, an outlier. Coming up with fan fiction like this guy is going to quit his job because he asked a fairly straightforward question is an odd choice.

        2. Tired of Covid-and People*

          Well, technically he’s going to be remotely teaching, so no additional exposure risk there.

          1. Esmeralda*

            Right now OP’s employer may be saying remote teaching is ok, but by August may switch to “well, numbers are down so it’s time to teach in person”. This fellow is being smart, in my book.

            And also, he *asked* if it was ok. He could have just gone and done it. Sounds to me like someone who is conscientious and has integrity and NOT skeevy

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      I would say have him get vaccinated now. Who knows what will happen in august. I’ve heard that some people who qualified for the first round (healthcare worker) was the ed away because now “were only vaccinating 65+ now and you don’t qualify”. From my understanding there was confusion at her employer, a small clinic or nursing home, and they weren’t able to get the vaccine for everyone. She was told to go to one of the hospitals. When she called she gave info and the person said she doesn’t qualify because they moved on from healthcare and started the next group.
      So I could see this happening for the teacher. “Oh why didn’t you get vaccinated in February”

        1. pancakes*

          Probably not, no. Consider that none of us know enough about this school / area to know how long teaching will remain remote. Many places in the US are planning to move to a hybrid of in-person and remote teaching, or fully in-person.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            This – he may be attempting to plan for when he is teaching in person or may prefer to teach in person. As long as he accepts gracefully any answer he gets about his place in the vaccine queue it’s not skeevey.

        2. Sandman*

          My kids are back in person, and about half the universities in my state have been in-person at least part of the year. Schools are pretty driven to get people back on campus; the letter-writer says “almost certainly remote” – and if we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that there’s no certainty in what will be happening in 6-8 months.

        3. Quill*

          No, because I’ve known educators, whatever his schedule is in February they will have changed it fifty times by August, and there’s no guarantee that they won’t change it again the second week of september, especially since with some people vaccinated I assume the push to go back to fully in-person teaching will be even stronger next fall than it was this one.

        4. Librarian of SHIELD*

          The LW’s description was that he would “almost certainly” be teaching remotely. It’s not certain that he’s not going to be interacting with students and other staff, and unless that “almost” can turn into a 100% unchangeable guarantee, it means nothing.

        5. Simonthegreywarden*

          As an educator/adjunct (which I assume this guy is, the position sounds similar), I don’t know for sure if I’ll be teaching a hybrid online/web class — like I did for 5-6 years before covid — a F2F with social distance (which I got dropped into quite suddenly this last semester even though I had been told I’d be online only), a synchronous Zoom class like I’m doing for 8 weeks now, or a 3hr night class like I will be doing after midterms. I’ve signed saying I’m on to teach in the summer and fall but don’t have class assignments yet, and won’t until closer to it. All of that can change at any time, and while I can submit a request for my classes to remain synchronous on Zoom, there’s no guarantee I’ll get that.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Over 10% of the US population already has their first dose, varying between 8-15% by state, according to Bloomberg. At the current rate, another 200 million doses, or 100 full vaccinations, will be be in arms by the beginning of June. And the number of people we are vaccinating is NOT at all static! It’s double today what is was a month ago. We should definitely be into “the general public is getting vaccinated” territory by June.

      I know this is a frustrating situation, but people are getting vaccinated, a whole lot of people and even more every day.

      1. Greg*

        Seeing reports that supply is on pace to outstrip demand by mid-March. Almost 50% of the adult population in the US is saying they won’t be getting the vaccine for any number of reasons, so anyone who wants to get vaccinated will likely be able to get it in April. Which is good and terrible all in the same sentence…

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I love your glass half full perspective. I’m the other way, so I just think of all the infections and deaths that will happen by June. Things are just not moving fast enough for me.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          I don’t disagree about all that will happen in the world between now and then, but in terms of the letter, if those numbers hold true, LW’s employee should be good to go sometime between April and June either way.

      3. merp*

        Unrelated to the letter so feel free to delete, but reading this gave my anxious brain a good reminder and a much-needed deep breath. Thank you.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I recommend finding a vaccination tracker and watching the numbers go up every day. It’s rather lovely.

          10 percent! Protection starts kicking in at 2 weeks after the first vaccination, so all those people will be enormously safer by the end of the month, if they aren’t already. And that is 10 percent of our most at risk and vulnerable-the people who would mostly be dying otherwise.

          All this in less than 2 months, including over Christmas.

          I’m not saying our vaccination program is going great, or that it isn’t hugely frustrating. But it is going, and it is picking up steam. Considering the scale and logistics, I’m not too terribly disappointed by our slowish start.

          I’d also remind people that well over a quarter of the world’s administered vaccines have gone into american arms.

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          I actually teared up a little. I’m high risk due to asthma and got my first dose about 3 weeks ago. My husband, who is also high risk, is still waiting for his. He’s been unemployed since he was laid off his aerospace welding job back in October but hasn’t been looking for another job because we have a TON of anti-maskers here, particularly in the more physically demanding jobs like welding. His benefits run out in May. It feels like a game of chicken right now between getting the shot in time and either skipping meals to make ends meet or risking his life to pay the bills.

          I really needed to read the above comment.

      4. sofar*

        Yep, I’m ready for everyone to stop quibbling over who “should” and “shouldn’t” be vaccinated. I had to catch myself the other day — a friend works for a pharma company that somehow got all its workers qualified for vaccination because the company provides vaccine-related equipment. Even my friend qualified, even though she’s in marketing and won’t be returning to the office until 2022 at the earliest. I bristled when she told me she’d preregistered. But, at the end of the day…we need everyone possible getting vaccinated enthusiastically.

        Another friend of mine is part of the logistics for the roll-out in my state. And, according to him, having a roster of eager people who are willing to drive to the vaccine location in the next hour (because a person who “should” have the vaccine is a no-show) is instrumental for making sure not a single dose goes bad. If the person who no-shows is a high-risk 85-year-old, then a lower-risk person who somehow qualified and can get there in 30 minutes is going to get it. You can’t spend several hours trying to find the next-highest-risk individual in line.

        1. Daffy Duck*

          This is an excellent point. We need as many people vaccinated as soon as possible. Slowing rollout to perfectly cover the first group before moving on to the second doesn’t help the long game. I completely understand the frustration of high-risk folks about accessibility, but that is a problem on the level of government preparation, not individuals.

        2. Self Employed*

          It makes sense that employees in the vaccine supply chain would get early access–you don’t want production slowed down because there’s an outbreak at a supplier to the vaccine industry.

    4. Arctic*

      A month before school is way too late. It can take six weeks just for the antibodies to be fully effective. And he may need two shots depending on the variant.

  4. Finland*

    #4: One thing you can do (if your employer doesn’t allow a shorter break) is to allocate your lunch hour to doing chores at home or running errands. I also consider myself to be a workaholic and I find it difficult to take long breaks. I have gotten away from work by either washing dishes, sweeping the floor, cleaning the kitchen/bathroom/bedroom, light grocery shopping or banking, etc. They’re short enough to keep your attention through to finishing, but long enough to take up enough time to distract you from work.

    1. Katrinka*

      I’d add to that to put your laptop away, so you’re not tempted to “just glance” through your email. And initially, maybe assign a specific task to each lunch period (like, that’s when you wash dishes or prep for dinner or do some cleaning). I also think the alarm clock is a great idea.

    2. Mary Richards*

      Another workaholic here! I had a hard time filling my hour-long break when I was in person and an even harder time when I was at home. I’ve filled it one of a few ways:
      1. TV. I watched all of Sons of Anarchy, one episode a day, over lunch breaks for months
      2. Cleaning. I have in-unit laundry, so I can do that, or find other cleaning projects
      3. Crafting/other stuff I always want to do but never seem to find the time to get to
      Just look at it as a free hour to use as you see fit and stop working!

      1. Deliliah*

        I’ve started taking lunch naps since working from home. Set my alarm, squeeze in 45 minutes of nap, perfection.

      2. Librarian of SHIELD*

        Option 4: Take a lunch time shower! My sibling who works from home has started showering at lunch instead of before work, and they tell me it’s really refreshing and helps them stay focused for the afternoon.

        1. HotSauce*

          This is a great idea! I shuffle for the shower in the morning with my husband, but a lunchtime shower could definitely refresh me for the afternoon.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Recovering workaholic here (time spent in a psychiatric ward last year got rid of most of it…) to agree to distract yourself.

      And all work devices or devices connected to work (work email on personal phone etc) get switched off, left in a drawer, put away. No ‘I’ll just keep the blackberry with me in case I get an urgent request’.

      Then I’ll go sew, read TVTropes for the browser narcotic it is, whatever. I even have a 1 hour egg timer – a really large sand amount falling is rather peaceful to watch too!

      And here’s the thing: once you do it for a while it really helps with stress levels. The ability to switch off from work is an immensely useful skill.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        And my iPad has just reminded me I have 32 separate AAM tabs open for ‘stories I’ll read later’. Going through AAM archives is a great way to kill a few hours (or days, or weeks….seriously Allison there is a LOT! :)

    4. Random Autistic Person*

      A quick workout is a good option too. It helps to loosen you up if you have the kind of job that involves sitting at a desk all day, and you definitely can’t work while planking or whatever.

    5. Uranus Wars*

      Second this suggestion! A light chore, reading or doing my grocery run can help immensely. I do this a few times a week and it has helped so much – especially on the days I physically go out to do curbside pick up at Target or the grocery store.

      If you’re in a walkable neighborhood sometimes just a 10-20 minute walk can clear my head – and the time it takes to get my shoes on/off helps kill some of that hour, too!

      My stress levels in general go way down and my productivity way up when I am intentional about taking a lunch – this has been true my entire working life.

    6. WindmillArms*

      When I started working from home, I did Lunch Walks. Just getting up and going outside for 30 minutes and ten taking a hot shower was such a great break. It helped me really switch off from work, and my afternoon slump was much better. Since the pandemic, I’ve dropped off on lunch walks and I miss them!

    7. Daisy-dog*

      Yes! It can still be productive time without getting yourself in trouble at work.

      When I was working out of the house, I had a hard time shutting down my productivity mode. I would run errands, get my car washed, go for walks, work-out when I had access to a gym, etc. It was really nice to not have any errands to run outside of work hours.

      At home, I have used the time to do some chores or take care of things like my taxes. Though I typically spend it enjoying my lunch and playing Animal Crossing.

  5. LGC*

    …so Alison, do you still have a sponsorship deal with thredUP? Because I think you might want to pass a referral code along to LW1…

    LW3 – The way I’d think about it is…for an hourly employee (which I’m assuming you are), they’re not paying for your service so much as your time. (Same goes if you’re salaried, although I feel like that’s somewhat more objectives-based.) The primary agreement is that they’re paying you to be available for x hours per day, y days per week.

    LW4 – Would you also mind enlisting your boyfriend? That is, would you mind having lunch with him every so often, since he sounds like a salaried employee and has the ability to take lunch whenever he wants? Just putting that out there as one of multiple options you have.

    I’ll also note: this can be a serious issue for your direct boss and even your company. I (a supervisor) have been reprimanded if my employees do unauthorized OT, and in my AR role, I just had to deal with a billing dispute because the timesheets we keep on our end (where employees mobile punch) didn’t exactly match the customer’s (manual) timesheets. One of our employees racked up about the same amount of OT per month as you did.

    (I’ll admit, I was annoyed that they were picky over a relatively small discrepancy – under 1% of the total invoice – and I explained that it’s unreasonable to expect people to punch out at exactly 8 hours perfectly every single day, albeit in more diplomatic language. But, you know, I still had to settle the discrepancy.)

    1. Katrinka*

      That’s because unions and government labor boards can come down really hard on companies for unpaid overtime, but departments/companies really do not have the budget for unauthorized overtime. At my last job, for instance, if I had worked 7 hours OT each month, that would have ended up eating the entire extra staffing budget for the year (that’s allocated for things like in-school PD for teachers, extra planning time for teachers who are heading up specific initiatives, etc). And would take up about 5% of the total school budget. Add in that if the school goes over budget, they have to make up the difference out of school activity funds (intended to benefit students, not individual staff members), and it can be a major problem.

    2. anonforthis*

      If you’re donating clothes, you can just ship a box of it to thredUP – they give you a shipping label for free! I just did this recently.

        1. anonforthis*

          You mean they didn’t send you a shipping label?

          I did it just last month. Maybe it’s worth trying again! Although they are behind on processing the items (sorting the items to resell and recycle) so I haven’t sold anything yet.

    1. Princess Flying Hedgehog*

      Agreed. Every 12 months, my university requires me to submit an “outside activities report,” where I have to report any outside income as well as any activity that in any way could in any way be a potential conflict of interest. And then my supervisor has to review it. And then a central university office reviews it. And I’m not faculty, I’m staff and in no way involved in research, and I’m still required to do this.
      OP3, if you’re looking to fill your time, seek out professional development opportunities and trainings offered by your institution. If your university has a subscription to LinkedIn Learning or something similar, you may want to see if it’s OK to do that on the clock. Or take advantage of university library resources. Learn new software, develop your skills! Clear any of this with your supervisor, first, of course, but there’s a ton you could do to fill up your time while your waiting for work to come in.

  6. Turanga Leela*

    For #1: Could you make it less icky by having a general “free stuff” table that others could contribute to? I’ve worked in a few offices where there was an informal “free table” where people would leave snacks and things they’d cleared out of their offices or homes. It was a lot of books and occasional weirder things, like suitcases and a punch bowl. There were some expensive things there (once I got someone’s mom’s old costume jewelry!), but because lots of people contributed and took things, there wasn’t a charity vibe.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      Yes, we had something like this at my workplace and it worked great. It was anonymous with who brought in what, and you could take whatever you liked at your convenience. Giveaway items including food, clothing, kitchen stuff, books, etc. The question is if the principal would be open to this kind of inclusive and anonymous process, or if she likes to personally preside over everything. If she wants to have that kind of visible power, that’s a real problem.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      We have a yearly free table at the traditional end of the school year. Anyone can contribute and anyone can take things. After a month all leftover items are donated to the local charities.

    3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I agree. It’s the benevolent ‘show’ that’s off-putting to me in this case.

      I wonder if you could suggest the school having a twice-yearly swap, or a free table, or something along those lines.

      Of course, the possible issue is that people use it as a dumping ground, so you’d have to set a policy around that.

      1. WellRed*

        I have yet to see anything like this that DOESNT turn into a dumping ground. Plus, someone gotta haul off the leftovers.

        1. Ashley*

          But this could have the added benefit of getting the whole practice to stop after a few months without addressing it with the principle in any way.

    4. GammaGirl1908*

      I belong to an organization that once a year has a big group swap.

      I’ve also done this a few times with friends, where we make a party out of it; everyone brings stuff to swap, we have snacks and cocktails and everyone gets to take what they want, and whatever’s left goes to Goodwill.

      If LW1 wanted to put in the effort of addressing the principal, she could suggest that others have items to give away as well, and perhaps they could organize a week where everyone brings in their items to swap on Monday, and everything left goes to Goodwill on Friday.

    5. Dr. Glowcat Twinklepuff*

      I was going to ask if it would be appropriate to have office “swap parties” or something like that! As I understand it, the problems are that it feels like charity and that many employees are left out because of their size, and maybe also that if you do pick something then you’ll feel pressured to use it often, to show the boss that you appreciated it (bleh!).
      To tell the truth, though, I would still feel weird wearing a coworker’s old clothes. It feels more a thing close friends do.

    6. Generic Name*

      This is a good idea. We had a ladies’ clothing exchange one evening after work. It was really enjoyable and not weird at all everyone contributed something and everyone came home with something. The leftovers that no one wanted got donated to charity.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Yes, we had a freecycle shelf out in the hallway of my last university department, and people from all over that particular college would put things on it. Sometimes cheap little tchotchkes and sometimes more valuable items. Some people would put snacks and little-free-pantry type items on there (ramen cups, cereal bars, etc). If something sat on there for more than a couple weeks or so, I’d sneak it into the trash (and I think a few other people did, as well). It was a good way to have a trade/exchange station without it seeming like any kind of charity.

    8. Willis*

      Yeah, I feel like there are a lot better ways this could be done. But, I guess the question to me is – is this really something the OP wants to spend their time/capital on addressing? For me, it probably wouldn’t be, unless it was a sizeable disruption or I knew some of my co-workers were really bothered by it or something like that. I probably wouldn’t bother with it for the occasional awkwardness of being asked if I’d like a second-hand scarf.

    9. anonforthis*

      My previous workplace actually had a clothing “resale” day where a bunch of employees brought in lightly used clothes and objects they wanted to give away, and the HR dept set up a shop in one of the offices, and people came in and took what they wanted throughout the week. Whatever was left at the end was donated to thredUp.

  7. not always right*

    OP number 1 re: Hand me down clothes. I personally don’t have any issue with this at all, especially since the clothes are gently or not even used. I have zero issues with getting free upscale clothing. Sadly, I am not petite, so I would be relegated to scarves and hand bags, but certainly would not mind a free high end bag. Having said that, I do understand your point of view. I really don’t think this is an HR matter, though. It’s one of those things that you just smile and say thanks but no thanks. I will say that if she was offering stained, out dated or torn items, I may not be so tolerant. LOL

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          I picked up a free jacket from work on Monday that was too snug in the hips, but fit my brother perfectly.

            1. LunaLena*

              Yes! The university I work for has a program where people can donate gently used business clothing, and students and alumni can come in and pick out clothes for free. This way students have access to clothing for interviews, internships, networking events etc without having to spend a ton of money. They would love to have a pile of high quality, barely used clothing.

    1. Juniper*

      Exactly — would it be better if the clothes were worn-out and shabby? I agree that the optics aren’t great, and it’s certainly not an idea I would even entertain. But if other people enjoy the free stuff, then the tone-deafness is secondary to other people getting nice, free clothing. (Also, a recurring topic on this site is that we’re never fully aware of someone else’s financial situation. I don’t doubt that there’s probably a big income disparity at play here. But that doesn’t have to be the sole reason for her ability to purchase expensive stuff, nor are her purchases necessarily an indictment of income inequality in education).

      1. Uranus Wars*

        I actually thought this angle. Agree an income disparity is almost certain, however having a lot of expensive things can also mean a boatload of debt, no savings, a spending problem, a keen eye for thrifting, a cycle of filling an empty void and purging her guilt away, etc.

        Disclaimer: I am also a recovering impulse shopper who has spent a decade digging herself out of a hole of debt from the buy – donate/give – buy again cycle when it comes to clothes and accessories.

        If other people enjoy it I would side with Alison and say don’t waste capital here. I would continue to say “thanks, but no thank you”.

        I am not sure how I feel about this for myself. I could probably go either way but in the end if I am not spending money and getting nice things I probably would let that trump anything else, too.

    2. Rachel*

      This was nuts because I didn’t write this, but the same happens to me. MY boss brings in hand-me-down clothing, and most of it is very high-end. I don’t work at a school, but now I am wondering if one of my co-workers wrote this and described the workplace as a school as a “blind.”

      In my case, I never participate because I just find it so odd. Plus, it would be weird to come to work in something my boss wore! But it seems like everyone else is always excited about the free stuff and rushes down to the area where it is placed so they can have first dibs on the “good stuff.” I am glad to know I am not the only one who finds this strange!

      1. Clisby*

        But even if someone thinks it feels weird to come to work wearing the boss’s former clothing – they could wear it somewhere else. Surely they don’t live at work. (I’ve never had a job where I wore upscale clothing, so if I benefited from this giveaway, I wouldn’t be wasting the clothes on work.)

    3. Delta Delta*

      I’ve been told my “scarf game is strong.” I would hover over that free table like a deranged drone and go bananas on the scarves. If I ultimately didn’t use or wear them, I’d consign or give them away.

      Having said this, I also think there’s a slightly icky feeling about all this. I do sort of wonder if the boss is maybe an expert at consigning or maybe gets things given to her that she doesn’t necessarily want or need.

      1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        I think the ick factor is because its a boss and not just a coworker. Most of my work closet came from the thrift shops and I got compliments on outfits all the time. So when I thinned thru stuff, I gave coworkers first dibs before hauling it back to the thrift. But I approached it as I have a bag of Size to Size and a few accessories at my desk if anyone wants to go thru them. Maybe I’d approach one or two coworkers who I knew particularly would like something I was getting rid of. “Hey Janet that red dress is in the bag if you are interested. Marsha the scarf you like is up for grabs too” But I wouldn’t generally single anyone out by size. And I always make sure to say “No thank you is an acceptable option”

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      The size issue definitely doesn’t make sense to me. What is she supposed to do, acquire plus size clothes for her plus size employees to wear? Let the petite employees lose out on cool clothes because it isn’t fair that they don’t fit everyone?

      1. A Simple Narwhal*

        It’s not that she’s bringing in petite clothes, it’s that she’s going to people, looking at their bodies, judging whether or not she deems them a certain size, and then tells them different things based on her view of their bodies. That’s the icky part.

        1. Clisby*

          This. And who knows, a larger-sized person might know a smaller-sized person (child, sister) the clothes would be perfect for.

          1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

            As a certified fat person I wouldn’t have a problem with saying to a colleague “Hey Sue, if you don’t want that jacket I’ll take it for my sister. It looks like her size and it’s exactly the kind of thing she would wear”. Or in a more general swap situation grabbing something that I think someone I know would like.

            I really wouldn’t get upset about someone observing my general body size and noticing that I’m probably not going to be able to wear something. It’s like noticing that I’m blonde or that I’m wearing a red shirt today. If they were being lewd or judgemental, that’s one thing, but merely observing my approximate size doesn’t strike me as especially icky or an inappropriate fixation on my body.

              1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

                I mean, I hate being fat and it makes me very unhappy. But someone else seeing the obvious fact that I am the size that I am is not in itself offensive, gross, or alarming any more than noticing that someone is a particular race, uses a wheelchair, has red hair, or whatever.

        2. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

          I also take no offense to this. It’s very obvious if someone is in the ballpark of your size or not. It doesn’t take a hard and judgement look to figure this out. Why pretend like it’s not obvious? I would find it strange for someone clearly not my size to suggest I check out their second hand clothes… Although I suppose she could be more tactful and just direct people generally to the goods, mention there are accessories, and let them sort out what fits and what doesn’t. Plus people could pick something up for a relative.

          Basically, it’s a bit lacking in tact, but I don’t think it rises to the level of offense.

        3. Ace in the Hole*

          I don’t think that’s “icky.” I’m a large person… it’s not a secret, nor is it something anyone has to scrutinize to figure out. Literally anyone who has looked at me even once would know I am not an extra-small anything. I would find it very strange and rather offputting if a coworker significantly different from me in size offered me their used clothes that I am obviously unable to wear.

          Presumably she’s not examining people to judge their exact measurements or approaching people to say “you look like a size 2, so you should take that red dress!” My interpretation was that she directs people who are in the same ballpark as her size to the clothes and everyone else to the items they might actually be able to use.

      2. Kiko*

        Agreed. I understand the sensitivities with wealth disparity being on display… but the sizing? Not at all. At my previous workplace, staff members frequently brought in beautiful clothing and shoes that would never fit me in a million years because I’m extremely petite (like I sometimes can’t fit into XXS petite). I think it would have been weirder for them to see if I wanted some of their M/L clothes than to just acknowledge we’re not the same size.

      3. Jennifer*

        Exactly. Is she supposed to offer the petite clothes to people that obviously won’t fit them? That would honestly be hurtful.

      4. EventPlannerGal*

        Re: approaching people, I almost wonder if the boss thinks she’s being tactful? It sounds like she’s telling everyone that there’s stuff available but only specifically mentioning the clothes to staff she thinks will be able to wear them. Maybe in her head she’s thinking that it would be worse to approach people who the clothes clearly will not fit and tell them there are clothes available that they can’t wear. (I suspect that OP’s letter in that situation would have been “my boss keeps taunting me by offering me expensive clothes that clearly won’t fit”.) Really it would be best to just not specify at all and just say “I’ve brought in some more things” or something general like that.

    5. Yennefer of Vengerberg*

      Ya, I also take no issue with this whole thing. The ones in your office benefitting from this probably see it as a nice perk of working with your boss. I wonder, are you partly annoyed because the items don’t fit you so it feels unfair in some way and you’d feel differently otherwise? (May be a total leap, and I only bring it up since you mention the petite size thing explicitly.)

      I actually don’t think it’s necessarily even a show of wealth… it’s more showing how this one person chooses to allocate their wealth. My good friend is basically broke, but always seems to manage to buy designer brands. He’s good at finding deals, but it’s still way more than I’d spend on clothes (although I earn twice as much as him). I happily accept his hand-me-downs :).

      1. mediamaven*

        Agreed with this. I’m a person that loves treating myself to designer stuff but I have an employee who likely makes a combined income of almost $300k with her husband. They are legit the most frugal people on the planet. They splurge on nothing ever. We make choices!

        1. Self Employed*

          One of my best friends is extremely frugal even though she and her husband are both engineers and she could afford fancy new stuff if she liked that kind of thing–which she doesn’t. Any time she tries to wear skirts at work, she ends up having to crawl around somewhere dusty doing things with cables.

    6. Archaeopteryx*

      Yes, this actually sounds pretty nice! And while there are other places she could donate her clothes, it’s probably nicer for her to know that they are going to people she knows and who will enjoy them. Sure it’s not great for her to be actually approaching people based on them being similarly petite to her, but you can definitely see why that makes sense in the boss’s mind. If she were 6’3”, she would probably approach other tall people and mention the clothes that might fit them.

      Basically I can see the objection in theory, but in practice this just seems like a nice way to score fun purses and scarves that I’m betting that most people really enjoy and that it doesn’t sound like anyone’s being forced to participate in. It definitely doesn’t seem to be worth complaining about to HR.

      1. Archaeopteryx*

        It basically reminds me of working with doctors who sometimes bring a nice hand me downs or buy lunch for the whole staff frequently, or donate generously to staff’s wedding presents or office raffle prizes. Does the fact that Dr. Jones can buy us 15 pizzas as a morale booster emphasize her wealth? Sure, I guess, but it’s still nice to get the benefit!

      2. CommanderBanana*

        Right? I’ve passed off clothing at work before because I have a few coworkers who are basically identical in size and height to me. I’m not trying to make someone not-my-size uncomfortable, and my size is just my size.

    7. I would love some free clothes*

      Agreed. I’m really failing to see an issue here. OP’s colleagues are thrilled to get clothes they couldn’t normally afford (or maybe they can, but choose to spend their money on other things), clothes are staying out of a landfill, and the gifter has made space in her closet. Also, since this is a school, aren’t salaries determined by the government? The principal doesn’t decide what the staff makes so it’s not like she’s purposely underpaying the staff and condescending to them by making up for with clothing.

    8. mediamaven*

      I understand the point of view as well, but I agree there are a lot of people who would love this. I have been known to bring in my fancy designer stuff and offer it to my staff and as far as I know no one felt the optics were poor. Most of my staff are in their 20s and I’m a mid-forties business owner. They know I’ve accumulated a lot more wealth and I’ve accomplished a lot so there’s nothing unfair about my having nicer things than they have just by way of age. As long as it’s not being presented as a gift I don’t think this is an issue. Just don’t take anything.

    9. CommanderBanana*

      I would be delighted to get someone else’s gently-used designer goodies. I don’t purchase new clothing (except things like underwear or stockings) because of the environmental impact, so everything I own is either secondhand or vintage.

      I’ve organized clothing swaps before, with any unclaimed clothing going to places like Dress for Success or other nonprofits that help women with free professional clothing and other assistance with finding jobs. My suggestion to OP1 would be just to not participate.

      I definitely understand the concerns about tone-deafness or exclusivity because of sizing, and if I were in the boss’s shoes I would not be doing this at work, but ultimately I think this is something the OP can safely ignore.

      I had a similar reaction to a previous job’s “social committee” wanting to bring in Weight Watchers, but since I was literally the only person in the group who had an issue with WW and everyone else wanted to do it, I just didn’t go to the WW activities.

    10. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      It would never occur to me to be offended by this sort of giveaway, and I’m plus-sized. Who cares? I guess I can see where some might feel that it highlights the income gap, but again, who cares? Yes, the director makes lot more money than you. And? I hate how the wealth gap has grown so exponentially over the last twenty years, but I would never presume that she’s doing this in a condescending way.

      Here’s how I see it: you can stand around feeling hurt because of your own perceptions; or you can accept the idea that she’s means to be nice by sharing, and join the fun.

      And as for some readers up there who talk about being fat and unhappy, I would suggest therapy to learn to accept yourself. If you can’t do that (money, schedule, just not into it), then at least go visit CaptainAwkward.com.

  8. a sound engineer*

    #3: Assuming you’re hourly, frame it as this: the company is paying you X amount hourly to be available for their company, not for someone else’s.

    I just came off a seasonal job that at times had me sitting alone my entire five-hour shift looking out a window just in case someone happened to walk by. Most shifts I saw a grand total of zero people. The most anyone in that position ever saw was 8, I think. Could I have sat and worked on my other part-time job every time I worked in that position? Yes. Would I have been fired if they had ever caught me doing that? No question.

      1. AJ*

        You mentioned you work at a university. I know some offer major discounts to full time staff, would taking one class be an option and then you could do your school work during your downtime at work? I worked part time for my university when I was in school and it was understood that we could spend downtime studying. At least you wouldn’t be as bored.

        1. op#3*

          I am taking some classes outside of the university; I’m considering taking some of the uni courses (could get a free masters degree!), but if I leave before I “work off” the degree then I have to pay back the tuition credit.

          1. Ashley*

            Just remember to check the rules of reading on the job (the bank letter writer from last week) and the beauty of the e-reader for hiding what you are actually reading.

      2. Kali*

        Also, working for a university (depending on how it’s funded) may get really sticky. I work for a city government and someone was doing this. It was seen as double-dipping and was actually given a full criminal investigation – charges weren’t filed in the end, but it was seen as theft of public money. Yikes. Some institutions really get in a twist about these things!

      3. JSPA*

        I do think you have the option of saying, “given how slow some hours are, would it be possible for me to consider my hours as being ‘on call and at your service at any and every moment,’ while also doing work on a side job that isn’t hourly, like writing or proofreading or illustration?” I’d add, “I understand it may not legally be allowed, but I wanted to ask about that, instead of assuming.”

        I really don’t think you can legitimately also (say) drive for a delivery service, or handle phones for two businesses. Nor can you do something that could present a conflict of interest (grant support for two org was brought up as an example recently).

        But there are a subset of jobs, and particularly, “by the piece” jobs, that create no intrinsic conflict.

        On a logical level, whether you craft and study during work hours at home, then edit or illustrate for money during non-work hours at home, or vice versa, should make no difference. (As someone who does a messy craft, it’s a lot easier to stop editing than it is to clean craft-stuff off my work surface.) And what if you gather up a pile of old crafts and sell then on Etsy or ebay? Can you then no longer craft at work?

        Basically, it’s not intrinsically offensive to raise the idea.

        However, it may be completely forbidden–and going in with that acknowledgement is going to emphasize that you’re not clueless about that.

        And the specific details matter. Anything you can’t put down, or that could tempt you to prioritize completing a project for job 2 instead of giving full attention to job 1, if all of a sudden you’re slammed throughout your hours, is a nonstarter.

  9. A*

    #2 – another commenter pointed this out above too, but are you sure he can get a vaccine after he starts teaching in August, or be able to change his registration then? Obviously an unanswerable question, but my point is it really doesn’t seem that egregious to ask about it when they’re starting on teachers and he will be a teacher soon

    1. A*

      And as the refrain goes, every person vaccinated helps bring the pandemic closer to an end. Now I’d never take one being 100% remote right now, but I don’t see the benefit in shaming people unless it was truly egregious (like the CEO? Who flew privately into a remote native community, did not quarantine, and pretended to be a local motel worker)

    2. Zoe*

      Who knows when he’ll be eligible if he waits. He has been hired to be a teacher, he is a teacher. The vaccine process takes awhile, 1) get an appointment 2) two shots 3) build immunity. Better he happens to be vaccinated “early” then gets caught up and f’ed later.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        This is my feeling too. And seeing if he can get vaccinated now as a teacher makes sense from the employer side too – what if the “almost certainly” remote role becomes in-person because all the other teachers are vaccinated, and they are out a teacher because this guy can’t get an appointment for three months? I think bringing this to the local health department for guidance (mentioned by someone else above) is a good idea.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Yep, this doesn’t sound like gaming the system as much as just being prepared. If you’re in an area where teachers are eligible for vaccines, he should get one BEFORE he needs to be in a classroom, just like every other teacher. If you’re 100% sure he’ll be remote that would be the reason for delaying his vaccine, not his start date.

  10. a sound engineer*

    #1: I’m not opposed to a general “free stuff” table, or even if the boss was only setting her fancy hardly-used unwanted clothing out (the optics of the situation aren’t great, I know, but that’s the boss’ problem). But I would feel incredibly uncomfortable if my boss was singling me and other smaller-sized staff out in group meetings to say “Hey Small Persons A, B and C I brought some stuff in, it’s on the table over there, go take a look” in front of everyone. And at a certain point, maybe a weird pressure to go and take something, regardless of whether I wanted to or not.

    1. EPLawyer*

      The power dynamics bother me. Are these folks REALLY excited about the free stuff (oh who I am kidding look at the fights over free food) or feeling they have to seem excited because its the boss? Then is there pressure to wear the stuff/use the bags in a conspicous way? Does she expect groveling thanks because you got a Michael Kors bag?

      It’s one thing to swap clothes among friends. It’s another when your boss is bringing in the stuff.

    2. ashie*

      I agree, the better way to handle this would be to put a box in the break room and let people take it if they want.

    3. Ann O'Nemity*

      The free stuff table is a good idea! I’m picturing a once or twice a year event, at the end of which any unclaimed items get donated. If a bunch of people were bringing things in it would solve the weird dynamics with the boss – both the income differential and the size targeting. And I think it would be an easy thing to suggest without insulting the boss.

    4. Ama*

      Yeah, I think that might be the real sticking point here — by directing people to the items she thinks are appropriate for them she’s fairly publicly dividing her employees by size, which is rocky ground. And tbh, why is she assuming someone has to be the exact size to want one of the clothing items? They could know someone who the item would be appropriate for or they could see an opportunity to upcycle an item into something else because it has nice fabric. My mom is a teacher and tends to have a very different style from her peers but she would often come home with a piece of clothing she thought I would like that a friend or coworker was giving away.

  11. Shhhh*

    LW 3 – in grad school, I had two jobs that involved staffing a desk or a chat queue. One of these jobs was always much slower than the other and I always considered double dipping by working a shift for both at once.

    What stopped me, though, was knowing that my work for both would suffer if the slower job had a particularly busy day. I figured it was bad enough that I had a split second negative visceral reaction when I would be working on homework and a query came in at the slower job. The pressure to do both jobs well at the same time would’ve been bad.

    1. NYWeasel*

      I’ve BTDT with having the FT job that pays the bills but was ridiculously slow work-wise, combined with freelance work that was my passion at the time but inconsistent. The universe had an uncanny ability to figure out when the slow job was going to get busy and inevitably and that’s right when big freelance jobs were due too. Assuming you’ve checked off all the boxes of asking for more work (and completing it!), pursuing development that benefits the current job (even if it also helps your future path), and making sure your workspace is immaculate, my recommendation is to consider tasks that are low profile and not deadline-driven. Some people have mentioned working on writing, and online classes that are flexible would be another good option, as would be learning software. In some offices, small handcrafts like needlework might be fine as well, but as has been pointed out, can sometimes have really bad optics. Basically don’t tie yourself down to anything that can’t be put aside if needed, and don’t compromise the first job in any manner—sometimes those steady gigs can help you make big transitions! At one job, I even convinced them to let me go PT for 4 months so I could take a job that led to my first career. My only headache with that was concealing the fact that my productivity never dropped even though my hours were 75% less, lol!

    2. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Yeah, the thing about doing crafts or reading during the less busy times at work is that you can stop those things when you suddenly get a task to do. If you have a deadline at a second job, you wouldn’t be able to stop as easily or without repercussions at one or both jobs.

  12. Cap Hiller*

    #2 – if there isn’t verification, does the future employer even need to get involved at all? They could just reply “you’d need to check with the state/county public health department on what your status is, they are making the guidelines and we’re not involved in that process.”

  13. L6orac6*

    #1 I understand why you don’t like this, you believe the boss thinks she’s doing people a big favour. But the clothes, accessories and shoes are barely worn or new, I myself would love it, I’m a plus size so only probably accessories for me. Having done Work for the Dole (unemployed people in Australia), for a few charities, most people donate quality clean washed clothes, the rest do not, some people are pigs – soiled, dirty, smell, ripped, stretched clothes, shoes and accessories. When the boss brings out her stuff just ignore it, go and do something else, please don’t spend anymore time on this.

    1. Fulana del Tal*

      Yes I really don’t see a problem with this. OP may not like but other do, why should her feelings trump their feelings. I don’t think this is tone deaf at all, I feel OP is bringing her own baggage into this situation. OP should just ignore this.

      1. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

        I agree and would also say OP needs to read the room on this before they go and try to stop it. Stopping free stuff for people doesn’t ever go over well, especially nice free stuff.

    2. MK*

      I don’t think the boss believes she is doing others a big favour: she is using this donation to justify her shopping problem. I am trying not to judge, and we all have bought things that turned out to be unsuitable, especially when money isn’t much of an issue to us, but having to purge your closet several times a year of multiple barely worn items? That’s someone who isn’t shopping rationally. Giving to her stuff is probably making her feel better about it than donating to charity would.

      1. Trude*

        Does it matter, though? The other employees are still getting the chance to get decent clothes for free. If the boss does have a shopping problem, that’s for her to solve.

      2. Metadata minion*

        If she can afford it, is it a problem? Some people really like clothes shopping. I am emphatically not one of them and usually buy new clothes when the old ones have actual holes in them, but purging a few things (maybe even things you ended up not really liking and so were never going to use) several times a year seems well within the scope of “clothes shopping is my pricy hobby”.

      3. Roscoe*

        I mean, that is a big reach. Who among us hasn’t purchased something that sat in our closet because it was never the “right” occasion. Hell, I’m a guy that doesn’t even shop a lot and I do it. Calling it a shopping problem is extreme. But even if your theory is true, that isn’t really your or OPs concern. If someone is getting these close, does it matter how they were gotten as long as its legal?

      4. Random Autistic Person*

        If she really does have a shopping addiction, she’s going to keep buying clothes regardless of whether anyone takes them or not. Someone may as well benefit.

      5. mediamaven*

        No you are definitely judging. Sometimes you buy something and it doesn’t fit and you get lazy and don’t return it.

    3. PT*

      I have heard that charities WANT poor quality fabrics, they sell them to fabric recyclers for cash. The clothes get turned into industrial rags, the charity gets money, win-win.

      1. Quill*

        This, like literally every other avenue of recycling, is highly dependent on the specific recycling scheme and charity. Depends on the sorting and reuse capacity of individual items.

        Generally speaking for clothes, still wearable and people won’t think it’s gross (so nix on stains, intimate garments) = good donation. For larger amounts of fabric (sheets, tablecloths) you may need to do your own legwork about how it can legitimately be recycled.

      2. Tired of Covid-and People*

        I’ve never heard this. But I don’t doubt that rag-worthy donations (I don’t get this, I never donate anything stained/torn/dirty) are recycled, which I approve of.

        Designer duds and accessories are normally sold on consignment, and if donated, claimed for a tax deduction (someone buying real designer stuff likely itemizes deductions). The overflow of regular stuff not sold in thrift shops are often sent overseas and dumped on developing countries, decimating their local clothing market. I hate this.

        In any case, I’m surprised this person is gifting everything, but I would say nothing. Not harming anyone, although a bit unusual. I’m plus sized, but I would be on those purses for sure.

  14. The other Madeline*

    I don’t consider #2 to be a line jumper necessarily. It may or may not be true of this person specifically but if teachers are in a special class in your state your school should have protocols to have new hires vaccinated so that maximum effectiveness aligns with start date

  15. LifeBeforeCorona*

    OP2. Because of limited vaccines here, there has been a lot of naming and shaming when friends and family jump the line for receiving vaccinations. The rationalization is that they have extra doses that may go to waste. It’s been a story on the national newscasts and even though it may seem logical to allow the vaccine line cuts it creates bad publicity that your workplace may not want. Several highly placed administrators have been forced to resign because of line jumping. Right now the appearance of fairness is very important because of the shortages.

    1. Treena*

      Removed this and the long argumentative, off-topic thread it led to. Treena, please step back from the comments on this one today. Thank you. – Alison

    2. le teacher*

      I have some family members who skipped the line. They used a business connection who was able to get them an appointment. I am sooo disgusted with them. I feel like my reaction is outsized and probably in response to month 11 of this pandemic, but still. Ugh.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          In the UK they have used their connections to win contracts (eg eight-figure contracts to supply PPE, which they then totally fail to do).

          In the grand scheme of things, an early vaccine is a very small cheat. I’d rather that people who think the rules don’t apply to them were less contagious than they are currently.

          /jaded
          /exhausted

      1. AlexandrinaVictoria*

        My sister-in-law does consulting work for a health care organization. Nothing in person. She showed up with her pay stub and got vaccinated. She would have been in the last group to get it, but took someone else’s place. The privilege is breathtaking.

    3. KeepIt*

      That doesn’t sound at all what’s happening in the letter – the person simply asked a question. Bullying people for inquiring about vaccination because you don’t deem them “worthy” is truly incredible

  16. Analyst Editor*

    LW1, it looks like your boss’s give-aways are bothering YOU, and not necessarily your co-workers, in which case framing it as a more general problem of optics is a bit disingenuous. I agree that it’s perhaps a little gauche; she should probably just save it for her relatives, friends, or Goodwill. But to run complaining to HR about it is beyond excessive, especially to soothe your own resentment.

    Because a principal is paid what they’re paid, and people spend their money how they spend it — a point reiterated often on this site; you can’t change these things, and resenting this surely doesn’t lead anywhere good.

    1. Allonge*

      And also – there is the common sense aspect of a petite person having petite sized clothes. I personally am definitely not petite and this aspect would not bother me that much – I know I am not going to fit into a slender person’s clothes, no duh!

      I guess if there is any sense of the boss wanting appreciation for this, that would make it an issue for me. Otherwise? Boss might not have similarly-sized friends or family, and other school staff might well appreciate getting high-quality clothes for free. Maybe a general free stuff table would work better?

    2. Colette*

      I don’t see a huge issue with the principal offering up clothes she’s no longer using – but I do think that tracking people down and offering stuff based on their size is not OK. It’s the difference between bringing in a box of doughnuts and putting them on a table in the staff room vs. going from person to person and offering them one.

      1. Kiko*

        But if her goal is to find her pre-loved items a new home, wouldn’t it make sense to target the people who are mostly likely to get the most benefit from it? I agree that this could be done in a more tactful way, but I understand where the principal is coming from.

        1. Colette*

          Not in a work environment where she is in a position of power. She could tell everyone “come help yourself to this stuff – I’m getting rid of it”, but she shouldn’t be pressuring people (which is what asking a subordinate individually is doing)

        2. mediamaven*

          I don’t necessarily think she’s doing the right thing by targeting certain people but I also agree with you. There are plenty of people who hoard free stuff (like shwag at a tradeshow) just because it’s free. I had an employee like that who would probably take my old underwear if I offered it. She took anything offered even old food. So the person maybe wants to avoid that? It’s not all that egregious.

      2. Willis*

        Yeah, this. Put the stuff in an unobtrusive spot and let people generally know it’s available to whoever would like it. People can judge for themselves whether they’re likely to fit in the principal’s old pants! Going person to person is weird, but I probably wouldn’t say anything to my boss about it if I were in OP’s shoes.

  17. Ethical Conundrums*

    For OP #2,

    I wouldn’t include “especially given how scarce the vaccination slots still are for high-risk groups” because your employee might have a medical condition or characteristic that puts him in a high-risk group and know very well how difficult getting an appointment is. Or he could be the caregiver for one.

    I understand the skeevy feelings because there has been skeeviness from the beginning with COVID. Ultimately, I’m going to argue for empathy for not only the urgency and fear many of us feel around COVID and the vaccine but also for the confusion that your employee may have been exposed to regarding the rollout. I’ve seen impassioned arguments for taking extra care to only vaccinate Phase 1 eligible people and impassioned arguments telling people not to pass up the getting vaccinated if presented an opportunity because there’s no guarantee that the dose you pass up will go to a more Phase 1 worthy person.

    I’d simply write him back and give him the nuances of who your area is vaccinating. For all you know, he might have heard they were vaccinating teachers on the news and doesn’t know more of the nuances such as it being meant for currently in-the-classroom teachers as opposed to those starting in August or those teaching remotely.

    1. LizM*

      I agree. My state has changed the priority list several times. I still can’t get a straight answer on what phase my essential government job puts me in, and whether I should go to the county where my job is or the county I live in. It is so frustrating. I would just reply back with factual info based on what you know.

    2. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      This was my thought, because my locality right now is kind of a bleep-show with regards to this. I *think* I’m in the bottom-most tiers for vaccination (rightly so) but if I couldn’t even get a phone call with guidelines about “what should I do now that I’ve had a positive Covid test” from our local Health Dept when I had it, suffice it to say that I’d be asking questions about vaccinations of a potential new employer in the hopes that just maybe they knew!

    3. blink14*

      Totally agree. My state has prioritized first responders, medical workers, and those over 75, but the next phase is all over the place. K-12 is separated out from in person higher ed, who end up being much later in the phase. Don’t even get me started how the medical groups are being split up – which is a huge concern for me personally.

      I actually have been “temporarily” living in another state now for so long due to Covid, that I’m considered a resident and will be trying to get the vaccine in that state because the medical conditions phase is more broad and will open earlier. I also may be able to get it through my employer. Getting the vaccine is vital to my my life. There are so many variances right now on people’s personal situations, I don’t think you can just assume this person is trying to cheat the system, and honestly, you should be happy that he at least wants to get it!

    4. KeepIt*

      I don’t understand why you need the high risk line either unless you really just want to sound sanctimonious. A simple “no, I’m sorry we can’t categorize you as a teacher yet, here are the health dept guidelines and we’ll keep you informed” would suffice.

  18. Detective Rosa Diaz*

    OP 1: I definitely understand the discomfort. I had a CEO who would AUCTION OFF old items (notably a gigantic TV because he had purchased an even larger TV!) and the money would go to charity but it still felt like “hey plebes, come bid for a chance at my giant ass TV”

    The principal shouldn’t really be doing this in a larger setting, it makes it even more uncomfortable that she’s sizing people up and directing them to a specific area (unclear if any of the commenters who think this is fine are fat – I am and trust me, it’s super uncomfortable!)

    What she should do is have an opt-in option and then set her things up and tell those people where it is.

    1. a sound engineer*

      Yeah, like I said above, I would probably be one of the staff who had a shot at the unwanted clothes, size-wise, and I would still find it extremely uncomfortable to be on the other side of the situation – being part of the group sized up and then directed to the old clothes in front of everyone else!

      1. Detective Rosa Diaz*

        Yes I feel like it’s weird all around! And uncomfortable for anyone who doesn’t want to be involved. Making it opt-in would solve any discomfort on all sides!

    2. Allonge*

      I am fat and I would be fine with this (trust me boss, I know I don’t fit in petite clothes), but I can see how it can be uncomfortable. General free stuff table would solve a lot of things though, so why not?

      1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

        I’m also fat and I wouldn’t be upset if the boss asked my clearly under size 10 colleague if they would be interested in this blouse, and didn’t mention it to me because we are obviously nowhere near the same size. It might be a bit stinging if they were really pointed about then offering me a bag because I’m clearly too fat for her nice clothes, but honestly I deal with that problem all the time. It’s just reality. I might even feel a little miffed if my thinner colleagues took all the accessories, too, so that I didn’t get a chance to get anything.

        But a more general swap might be better all around.

  19. LizM*

    OP 4, my organization tracks how much we spend on overtime. As a supervisor, I can be reprimanded if my team goes over our overtime budget without justification. Paying time and a half for work that should be getting done during the normal work day is not considered an efficient use of our resources. I would really question an employee’s judgment if she couldn’t manage her time to keep her hours under 40 a week on a consistent basis without clearing it with me.

  20. GalPal*

    Oof, I might be this gross person. I actually was referred to a great job recently at a massive company so I know a recruiter already has my resume. In my research however, I noticed one of the many many recruiters at the company also went to my very niche and specific school. I reached out to say hi, express my happiness at finding a fellow graduate, and explained the above situation. I guess I overstepped!

    Live and learn!

    1. Fiona*

      I don’t think you overstepped! It’s just the kind of thing where you have to assume you may not get a response.

    2. Deanna Troi*

      GalPal, I think your situation is different because you have something in common with them and you mentioned that. The fact that you both went to a niche school is a good reason to connect. You’re not gross!! The issue is with people who have no reason to reach out to her doing so just to try to circumvent the regular hiring process.

  21. Former call centre worker*

    #3, a job that only has an hour’s work for you a day doesn’t sound like a very safe job. Unless they have plans to get you doing more or the workload is very seasonal, what’s stopping them realising that they could merge that 1hr of work with someone else’s duties and eliminate your position?

    I have had a job where there was nothing to do for a few weeks a year (normally the person in the role would take any lieu time they’d built up from busier times of the year at that point, but I was covering for someone and not originally scheduled to still be there). It was demoralising and extremely boring and it was really hard to get my focus back afterwards. If it happened to me in a permanent job I’d be looking for another one.

    1. op#3*

      Valid point, and I am looking! I do think the job is relatively safe, as such things can be, as the prior person in the role was there for 10+ years and the role survived some restructuring due to Covid’s impact on finances.

      I am totally concerned about the impact on my overall work health– in terms of knowing that I CAN actually do stuff and do it well!

    2. I'm just here for the cats*

      It sounds like she’s working a desk type of thing. Like maybe IT help desk where you have to wait for ticket to come in. Some days can be super slow and others can be busy. Just depends

  22. Lupin*

    OP#1 is missing an opportunity; designer items can fetch a nice return at a consignment store, particularly when the initial investment is nothing. Supplement your income!

  23. Akcipitrokulo*

    OP2 – I can see one train of their logic that coukd be very valid.

    They are “almost certainly” going to be remote. That isn’t definitely going to be remote.

    So there is a chance they may have student/pupil contact.

    The vaccine takes a few weeks to be effective.

    I think it is a good idea for them to be fully covered before this – not just for them, but for their charges that they may be in contact with.

    So, while may not be possible nor advisable, and they are not at that priority, I’d not be skeeved out, but see it is a reasonable question.

    And as a parent, I’d want them jabbed before term started if possible.

    1. Gingerblue*

      That stood out to me too. So many schools have communicated really badly about whether they would be remote, or have changed course on remote/in person, sometimes with minimal notice. If I were this teacher, I’d at least like to start making a game plan for getting vaccinated before the school year, and I would absolutely not be putting any stock in what the school is claiming right now about being remote. August is eons away in pandemic terms; who the beck knows what we’ll actually be doing.

      I also wonder if that teaching-related job he has right now is in person, and exactly how teaching-adjacent it is.

      1. Gingerblue*

        I mean, I don’t like line jumpers either, but this guy just sounds like he’s asking some potentially reasonable questions.

        1. TurkeyLurkey*

          Agreed: I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that he wants to make sure he’s vaccinated before teaching in person. Whether or not “getting in line” now is the right thing to do now is hard to know, both because circumstances are different by location and how opaque the process is in a lot of places.

  24. Coffee Cup*

    I would love it so much if my boss regularly gave me barely used second hand clothes haha. Her loss my gain. But maybe I am alone in that, or it depends on how bad the pay disparity is.

    1. EventPlannerGal*

      You’re definitely not alone, I would be snatching these up! I get why the OP doesn’t like it but I think she should either suggest switching to a general free stuff table/regular giveaway day or leave it alone.

    2. Tuesday*

      I would love it too! I read this letter and thought that I would just be hoping those boots fit me. I’m used to the fact that my boss makes more than me, so I don’t think that would be an issue. I’d just be thinking, “yay, free stuff day!” I get that the OP is having a different experience with it, but her coworkers might be really enjoying it, so I think she kind of just has to try to look away.

      1. UKDancer*

        I would love free handbags / accessories. I don’t spend money on these things (being generally tight) and love a nice scarf. So while I’m probably the wrong size for the clothes, I’d be so up for anything else.

        I think if the co-workers are really enjoying this, OP risks making themself very unpopular trying to to stop it.

  25. a sound engineer*

    #4 – coming back from break “a few minutes early” accumulated you SEVEN HOURS in January alone? I think you are misrepresenting to yourself exactly how short you are cutting your breaks.

    1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      Also how does the company even know about the ‘overtime’ in order for HR to get involved – unless there’s something automatically tracking login/out times on a computer or something like that? If it’s being “submitted” in some way (like filling in a time sheet) it’s a bit more active than something that just happens to the OP..

      1. doreen*

        Yes – I’ve had people do this for a while and while they always said they were just waiting for rush hour be over or for a ride to arrive and didn’t want , there’s a reason I know they worked after I left. I would have never known one person stayed until 9 pm when she was scheduled until 6 except for the fact that she sent me an email at 9. Others put it right on the timesheet – which is supposed to be accurate, but my employer is also flexible enough that if you work 15 minutes extra on Monday, you can take it off on Tuesday. So I always wonder about those people who claim to work 15 minutes OT once or twice a week but can never come in 15 minutes late or leave 15 minutes early – I really don’t believe they can’t help themselves and aren’t looking for the OT, because I’d never even know they worked 15 minutes extra if they didn’t put it on their timesheet.

        1. doreen*

          If she’s working from home, there’s certainly no old-fashioned physical timeclock , of the type that had limitations on how many people could punch in or out at at time. (and the reason I used to wait 1-5 minutes on line to punch out). There is either going to be something where a person self-reports their time in and out or their hours worked or a system where your time is automatically tracked by log-in/out times – but I think for most people working at home who previously worked in an office , it’s going to be a self-repo

      2. Natalie*

        Presumably the OP is punching in and out when they start and finish work? This really doesn’t seem like a great mystery.

        1. Phony Genius*

          If you’re working from home, there’s usually no punching. They could be using log-in/log-out times. We don’t do this, so I often stay logged in during lunch. I don’t actually work during that time, but if I did, it’s self-reported, so I could work “off the clock” easily.

          If the working hours are self-reported, there’s a way out of this, but it requires lying about something that it would be hard to get caught at.

          For an extreme solution, hook your computer up to a timer that will turn off the power for an hour. (I’m not sure this is an option if you’re using battery power.) Remember to set a reminder to save your work 5 minutes before it kicks in.

          1. Natalie*

            I think you’re picturing a physical time clock, but software-based timekeeping systems (Kronos, et al) also have a punch function. Plenty of people who are working from home are also punching in and out, most places I’ve worked prefer that to filling out a sheet after the fact.

          2. comityoferrors*

            Yeah, the obvious answer here is Kronos. All hourly employees at my job (and at my last job, and at all my employees’ previous jobs) have to clock in and out, online, through Kronos. The system doesn’t track your log-in/log-out times.

            The downside is that you can lie about your time and keep working off the clock…but that’s really terrible practice for the employee and for the employer. The question of “how does the employer even know” is one that gives me anxiety at night sometimes. I can’t have eyes on my employees all the time, especially right now, and I know that they’re prone to workaholism, and I know that’s bad for their mental health *and* means we’re breaking the law, and and and…

            OP, definitely find other ways to occupy yourself outside of your office during your break! If you can recruit him to spend time with you doing non-work things during your lunch, at least occasionally, even better. But you need to get away from your computer for an hour one way or another.

    2. Retail Not Retail*

      Well, if the company rounds time to make clocking easier (I had one exact time job and it was so stressful!) coming in at :52 is 15 minutes of OT

    3. lazuli*

      Assuming a month is only four weeks for the purposes of making the math easier, that’s still only an average of 20min early from each break. And if their payroll software rounds up (our does), it could be less than that but being counted as 20min. For an hour-long lunch break, I can see that not feeling like a huge chunk of it. (She still needs to stop doing it, for all the reasons given.)

  26. jcarnall*

    2. I may be alone in this, but I don’t think it “feels icky” for a teacher to try to get vaccinated before term starts. That just sounds like practical sense, especially as it can take up to two months (as I think someone else has said) the antibodies to make you fully immune. Unless you have reason to think he’s only registering for this job in order to get the vaccination and he’ll ghost you once he’s done, I would agree to provide the evidence required that he will be a teacher in your employ when the new term starts.

    4. I too have an awful habit of cutting into my break with “just one more email” or “just finish this off”. You really do have to step away from the computer – get up on the dot and go. Set a timer on your phone for when you have to get back there, but even if you are only a metre away, at least be looking at something else.

    1. Richard*

      #2 I had the same thought. I’m also in the process of changing workplaces during this year, and I’d hate to think that asking about how that might affect my place in the vaccine list would brand me as “skeevy.”

    2. JSPA*

      Exactly. It’s not, “here’s your shot, now go get em, tiger.” With problems besetting the timing of second shots, I’d probably count two months, minimum.

      Also, schools (not necessarily yours, but others) have done considerable bait-and-switch (often under pressure from governors, legislatures, certain alumni and certain trustees as well as federal policy regarding foreign students) as far as whether teaching will be 100% remote, “mixed model” (partial in-person) or fully in-class.

      With all that in mind, I’d probably offer to try to classify him as “incoming teaching staff” by sometime in June at the latest. Unless, of course, he’s already legally that, now. In which case, even if it rankles, it’s not your job to put a spanner / monkey wrench in the works to slow things down. Militant utilitarianism or “acting as a self-deputized agent of Karma” are not a part of your job description.

      At the same time, feel free to take a chunk out of whatever default level of trust you’d normally accord to him as a new and unknown quantity in the workplace. Not forever, of course. He may have pressing reasons besides “I want.” But no harm to him build up trust, starting from the half-measure.

    3. TiffIf*

      Well, I agree that it doesn’t feel icky to want to vaccinate in advance of teaching in August, but to me that would mean pursuing vaccination around May/June not February. HOWEVER this greatly depends on your state and their vaccination rollout. If getting on a list NOW is what is needed to receive the vaccination in May/June then that’s fine.

      But this is REALLY state dependent.
      Right now in my state you can sign up for a vaccination appointment if you are over 70, a healthcare worker, a K-12 teacher, a first responder or a worker or resident in a long term care facility. Outside of those categories there is literally nowhere TO sign up for an appointment, no list to get on.
      The next group is those with high risk medical conditions and the registration list for those appointments which start March 1 is not open yet–it is projected to open later this month.

      1. TiffIf*

        *k-12 staff–not just teachers, but only applies to those currently in these positions, not projected to be.

  27. Hansel*

    Oof, LW4 – embrace your hour of lunch. I’ve really made the most of these during lockdown/WFH. Although my employer offers flexibility with starting later/finishing earlier, it is often hard to do due to the workflow and how meetings are scheduled so I really take my hour. I go make a nice lunch, enjoy it, which takes 15-30 minutes and for the remainder I use the opportunity to fold laundry or do a small chore to free up my evening or just watch a show/read a book/go for a loop around the neighbourhood with a podcast or good music. Sometimes I go run. Sometimes I do some stretching/yoga. Sometimes I go run an errand instead – use the hour to free up your evening/morning from other day to day things.

    It really is a good way to reset in the daytime and you get over the feeling of ‘I could be using this time to work’.

  28. Blended*

    I had a boss give me her old clothes… and I LOVED it. Every time she brought in stuff it wasn’t always a hit with me or my style, but I said thank you graciously and lucky me, I got some amazing pieces that are still my favourites. In that case it was just so generous of her and she really had grown out of the size which really fit me perfect.

  29. Treena*

    I’m really confused with everyone interpreting the new-hire teacher as working with children, full-time, etc.

    “We just hired a new part-time, temporary employee who will start in August and teach for the fall semester.”

    Literally everything about this tells me that this is a new adjunct working at a university, teaching a single class over a single semester. It also sounds like they can stay remote if not vaccinated in August. If the university will be requiring in-person teaching, sure. But until that has been communicated, there is no need to think there is a teaching-related need for vaccination at this point in the roll-out.

    To be frank, a lot of you saying you don’t see a problem with this sound a lot like potential line-jumpers.

    1. Allonge*

      Uh, that’s a bit over the top? The unversity scenario you present is possible, but there are other possibilities. It’s on the employer to make clear to him if he can teach online or not.

      The guy is not demanding anything, he asked if he fits in the teacher category – also most likely with an understanding that vaccinations take time to schedule and get effective. OP is perfectly entitled to say no.

      I don’t think there is anything wrong with asking the question. If that makes me a potential line-jumper, I can live with that. If he insists, or upon getting a no, resigns, than maybe his intentions are not very pure, but still no harm, no foul (except to OP, as they need to find another person to teach the class, that’s inconvenient, sure).

      1. Treena*

        I’m going off of what OP has said. That there is no need for any sort of validation from the school, he can claim he’s a teacher without anyone saying so. So him asking the question itself isn’t wrong–he probably got to that point in the form and didn’t know if he should check it.

        I’m talking about the commentators who are saying that he should qualify and take a spot. Commentators coming up with all sorts of reasons outside the scope of the letter that would “justify” him taking a spot. I’ve seen: he might be high-risk, a carer, teaching children, his current job might be in-person. All of those are not relevant. Is he currently teaching in-person? No. Does he have reason to believe he will be teaching in-person, either at all or anytime soon? No.

        He is simply not the type of teacher that this phase of roll-out is intended for. Vaccinations are for teachers who are being forced to work in-person by their institutions. If you have the option to remain remote, you should be taking that option unless there are circumstances that make teaching remote extremely difficult. For example, I know someone who teaches language to newly arrived foreigners. Her students can’t afford computers and remote learning via smartphone is nearly impossible.

        1. Natalie*

          I don’t know about your state, but mine isn’t going over every teacher’s day with a fine-toothed comb to see if they really really need it. Nor am I aware of any that are. You seem to have come up with your own rules that you’re applying here, and then getting mad at a stranger for not following them.

          1. Treena*

            There aren’t many official rules, of course. I’m also not making up rules, I’m applying ethics to decisions made within a poorly regulated system. Everyone wants to be vaccinated, not everyone can be vaccinated right away. You have to ask yourself if you really need it before others.

            And to be clear, I’m applying this globally and outside of the official “rules” –the same rules that allow rich countries to grab up all the vaccinations they want while poorer countries are left with scraps.

            My point is that no one is acknowledging this and the comment section seems to be unaware of how squicky that is.

            1. Natalie*

              You’re applying your ethical rules, which, incidentally, differ from what most medical ethicists have said. I don’t think the global vaccine situation or acknowledging the realities is actually helpful or relevant here. I guess if you want to be big mad about, no one can stop you, but no one had to join you either.

                1. Niffler*

                  This comment is really unkind – you have no idea whether someone’s life is “cushy” or if they’re “cashing in on the system” and it’s quite uncharitable to make those assumptions. I get you’re frustrated with the way vaccinations are being handled, but I think your anger is misdirected here.

          2. I'm just here for the cats*

            Same with my state. Soon anyone who works k-12 or university, including non accaedmic staff, can get the vaccine.
            I think we all need to stop the commentary on “who qualified” and calling people names such as “line jumpers” just for asking questions. He’s not demanding that he gets a vaccine. He is asking. I would refer him to cou ty health or health care facility to ask if he’s not starting u til august if he qualifies. Its really not something an employer can answer.

        2. Allonge*

          I know you are going off of what the OP said, again, I think your scenario is a valid possibility. But it’s one of many.

          And honestly, if I got a new teachin job this year, I would ask the vaccination question – it would come with the questions on will I be given a work laptop, any other WFH equipment, when does the school expect to go back to in-person etc. It’s part of the game now.

          You seem to be expecting people not even to ask until they are 100% sure they are eligible for vaccinations. I assume you will also expect that at that point everyone goes and immediately gets vaccinated post haste? We want people to be proactive about checking out their options and someone asking their new boss if it is possible or not does not hurt anyone.

        3. SomebodyElse*

          At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter if this one person gets the vaccine, I’d argue that it doesn’t matter who gets the vaccine and in which order* as long it rolls out and we reach the point of herd immunity.

          I’d suggest that the commentators here largely share that view to one extent or another which is why the comments are not the equivalent of pitchforks and torches about the OP’s coworker.

          *Once you get past the healthcare workers and nursing homes, they really should focus on the quickest and most efficient method and quit all of this 1.b.4.5 group first and then 1.b.4.5.a group next. Honestly, in most communities they should just do it by voting district and say OK… all those in district B eligible next tuesday, then we’re moving on the next and after that the next… so much time, effort, and money wasted and would allow for communities as a whole be targeted and start to build that herd immunity in localized areas (especially those in crowded inner cities and rural areas with harder to access health care).

          But alas, I’m not queen of the world and nobody consulted me in the rollout plan, so no need for me to get my knickers in a twist about who is getting a shot and when

          1. Scarlet2*

            This. Every vaccinated person gets us closer to the end goal, i.e. herd immunity.

            I’m a bit concerned when some commenters say they know people who don’t dare say they were vaccinated because they might be deemed “unworthy” by somebody, somewhere. There are already too many antivaxxers and covid deniers in the world, the last thing we need is for vaccination to become potentially “shameful”.

            1. SomebodyElse*

              It’s been a fascinating study in human behavior the last 12 months though. Let’s just say if the zombie apocalypse does break out, I’m not depending on my fellow survivor or gov’t to do the right thing… It seems that everyone has gone round the bend on this one in all extremes!

              Who would have thought that pro vacciners (yeah I just made that word up) would be lambasting people getting vaccines!

              1. Tired of Covid-and People*

                Pro-vaxxer, that’s me! Never is anybody getting the vaccine a bad thing, but sensible people have been scared for a year and now there’s variants. Knowing a vaccine is here but being told to wait for an undetermined amount of time to receive it is so frustrating. I love The Walking Dead and no, never depend on the government during any type of apocalypse, not in the US at least.

            2. Paris Geller*

              It’s. . . really something else. My boyfriend got his first covid vaccine last month. On the outside, he looks like a healthy 40-year-old, but he has high blood pressure and diabetes. Apparently a woman did berate him when he was coming out of the vaccination clinic.

              1. Tired of Covid-and People*

                Where I live, technically he wouldn’t be eligible yet. But there are always people minding the business of others, like judging if you look like you should have a handicapped placard or not. So annoying.

              2. Cvacs*

                The shaming is ridiculous. This is similar to my husband and I. On the outside he looks relatively healthy; but between his blood pressure and newfound heart issues he qualified and got his first vaccine. Similarly, I’ve had a significant weight gain over the years and underlying health issues that also had me qualify for the current grouping.

                Neither of us have said anything, because when I mentioned being able to schedule mine (mind you – it’s ran by the state and the only appointment site I was able to register for) I was shamed to all hell. That said, I did have a nurse friend tell me to not feel bad. I’m one less person in her ER with complications if I were to catch Covid. At my husbands appointment they were asking him if he knew anyone that could be there in the next half hour to get one because they had a large amount of no shows and didn’t want any going to waste.

          2. Tired of Covid-and People*

            Good sensible suggestion. Are you planning on running for office? LOL. Even in nursing homes there are those who didn’t want the vaccine (yeah, I know), so doses were set aside for nothing. No way should folks clamoring for the vaccine have to wait while local governments figure out how to reallocate unwanted doses.

        4. H2*

          Again, what?!?! I’m an adjunct professor, and the majority of US universities are in person at least part of the time. I expect that by August that will be even more the case. Our students are also adults (who contract and spread covid at adult rates), and ones who do NOT as a group tend to make super decisions around social distancing, etc. Without knowing any more about this, you are putting all the ills of a complex and frustrating situation on one person here. A person signed up to teach at a university in the fall is at high risk of contracting covid. Period. The rollout is slow, and asking a question now isn’t out of line. Period. Even a young, healthy adjunct (who, btw, doesn’t get health care from that role) may not want to risk bringing covid home and spreading it.

          1. Quill*

            Agreed, except that students appear to be doing no worse about the pandemic realities than the university policymakers who know the most likely scenarios for half baked young adult strangers living on top of each other in dorm shoeboxes with shared showers etc, and still chose to push for on-campus. :/

              1. Quill*

                Yeah, like… I’m well aware the brain isn’t baked yet but when it comes to a full dorm of students, only one of them has to be irresponsible for this to end poorly, when it comes to university officials… we expect them to have been selected for their responsibility.

    2. Roscoe*

      You sound a bit judgmental here.

      Even if he is part time, who is to say what will be decided come August. If he has to go into buildings or anything, I think him being vaccinated is fine.

      I think people like you are being very black and white on how you are measuring who “deserves” to get this vaccine. I’m not jumping a line. But if I’m somehow offered a vaccine, I have no problem taking it either.

    3. OP#2*

      This is exactly correct. It’s someone coming in as an adjunct for one class in the fall. He has a full-time job in a company in our field, with probably a 6-figure salary, and he’s teaching the class to “give back to the community” and for the prestige, as our pitiful stipends for adjunct teaching simply wouldn’t be worth it. He’ll be working maybe 6 hours a week for us in the fall. There’s some pressure from the University to have labs in person, but if he wanted to teach fully remote, that would be OK.

      There was an air of, “Hey, I’m now a “teacher” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), do you think I can get on the list for vaccinations?” that just rubbed me the wrong way a little. I was wondering if I was being too sensitive.

      I should also note that vaccine roll out in my state and county has been particularly bad. Even if he does report himself as teaching in higher ed, there’s no guarantee that he’d get the vaccine before August, anyway.

      1. Nope.*

        What was his reaction when you told him no? That’s going to tell me a lot more about him than any vibe there was about the initial question, to be honest.

      2. Treena*

        Thank you for providing this clarification. I’ve met people like this, it was pretty easy to spot. If I were you, I would put the condescending remark in my reply, but that’s a personal call. I don’t think you’re being too sensitive at all.

      3. pleaset cheap rolls*

        “full-time job in a company in our field, with probably a 6-figure salary”
        Oh that’s a problem. Side eye is ready.

        “There’s some pressure from the University to have labs in person”
        Wait, maybe I should hold off on the side eye….

        “but if he wanted to teach fully remote”
        ….no, side eye ready again.

        Let’s get more details so we can judge him for asking a question. Please, dish.

        1. Self Employed*

          If I were teaching as a guest at a university during the pandemic I would definitely factor in “am I going to regret this because I caught COVID?” so unless OP thinks he only signed up as an excuse to get a vaccine earlier it still doesn’t seem unreasonable.

          If it’s a class that should really have a lab and he’s willing to teach the lab if he’s vaccinated, that seems like a good tradeoff rather than saying “well, we don’t want you to feel unsafe about teaching a lab so we can just have you be 100% remote” and the students basically get cheated out of hands-on lab practice.

          I’m a STEM graduate and labs are so incredibly valuable for learning.

      4. H2*

        So, please do consider that you are being too sensitive.

        I teach some labs, and actually they are the worst of all of my student interactions. And it’s highly, highly likely that they will not be remote. Even if classes are remote, students are often coming in for labs. You just can’t do microbiology, or physics, or chemistry or whatever from home in any kind of truly meaningful way. In labs, students are moving around, talking, leaning over each other, asking me questions that require me to show them something on their paper or microscope or whatever. Lectures aren’t nearly as problematic as labs.

        I think you should encourage him to look into getting on the registry now, to be honest. If for no other reason than that if he should end up needing to quarantine in the fall, it’s a huge pain in the neck to get someone to cover for him! Or he could get covid somewhere else and spread it to his students, who won’t be vaccinated by then. There are other logistical reasons why people required to work in person should be vaccinated.

      5. H2*

        I want to also say that this is the spirit of how adjunct faculty should be used (as opposed to the abusive system that is ends up often being). It’s truly a great experience for students, for a number of reasons, to have industry professionals teaching some classes. I’m in engineering and the fact is that the vast majority of engineering faculty has zero practical engineering experience, but we’re teaching students who will overwhelmingly be practicing engineers. So having a class taught by an expert practicing engineer is a huge boon. It seems from your language that you don’t like him or don’t think he’s doing this for the right reasons (the use of quotation marks). But you’re right that the pay isn’t why he’s doing it, and it truly does help the students in a unique way. Maybe he’s talked with recent grads who have expressed that it would have been helpful to them. (Sorry to be off topic, but I think it’s important to address the fact that it seems the OP is just rubbed wrong by this person).

        1. Boof*

          Yes. Academics can be very… self-worshiping. Students are best served by having some folks outside say what it’s like in other fields. I’m getting a really unpleasant vibe from LW2. Their adjunct may not want to work with them for long.

        2. OP#2*

          No, actually, I do like him and I think he’s teaching for us for the right reasons, and our program is very proud of our industry connections. About half of our classes are taught by adjuncts with other full-time jobs, and clearly not for the money! I didn’t mean to sound sarcastic, but I did want to point out that this isn’t some poor, starving adjunct who has to teach in person to survive.

          He seems like a very nice guy, which is why the tone of his question sort of startled me a bit.

      6. KeepIt*

        Honestly, OP2, it sounds like you might have some unconscious biases against this person and are therefore automatically assumed bad faith. Also you could’ve simply answered the question with “no, sorry we can’t categorize you as that yet, we’ll keep you informed”. It’s not your job to control his behavior re: the vaccine after that point.

      7. Boof*

        You sound like a big fan of this guy! Are they really so much of a pompous ass that you think it should influence your decision to certify them as eligible for the vaccine or not? (ok, that’s a rhetorical question – please try to separate your feelings about someone who is offering to work for a pittance, maybe out of a misplaced savior complex maybe not, with whether or not they are part of the current vaccination strategy)

      8. EventPlannerGal*

        Apologies if this is off-base or if you’re just very frustrated or similar, but honestly, it sounds like you just straight-up don’t like the guy. His salary and reasons for taking the job and so on don’t really have anything to do with the situation at hand – will he be teaching? Will it be in person? That’s pretty much it. He just asked the question, and really I think if there’s any uncertainty or pressure from the university at all then it’s a legitimate question, but you can just tell him no. But I think given your description of him, you probably should think about whether your opinion of him is affecting your interpretation of his tone.

        1. Myrin*

          Apart from the fact that OP said that she actually did find him very likeable – which you couldn’t possibly have seen since she posted that after you posted this comment, but I did want to point it out -, this feels a bit like a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation for OP in regards to the comments – people speculate, ask questions, and hypothesise, and then an OP comes in to provide more context and promptly gets criticised for being off-topic when she really only reacted to what commenters are wondering all over the threads.

          1. EventPlannerGal*

            Hmm, I don’t really agree. I don’t think anybody was asking about his salary or his reasons for taking the job or anything like that – the main thing which people have been asking about throughout is just whether he’s going to be teaching in person or not. The fact that he gets paid six figures just really isn’t relevant and I don’t think that’s a damned-if-you-do thing to say.

      9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

        That nuance that changes things a little, but ultimately I think the thing to do is just treat it like a straightforward question. It might have been a poor attempt at a joke, but I’d just give him the current information and try to ignore your own feelings about it. Unless he starts being pushy about it I don’t think it’s a big deal because he’s still just asking about it.

    4. pleaset cheap rolls*

      It’s not jumping a line if you ask a question and follow the answer. Frankly, if he’s allowed to get the vaccine based on truthful information he shares, he’s not jumping a line.

      If the rules say teachers of all types in any accredited institution can get the vaccine, with no requirements/questions about how he teaches (in-person, virtual, etc) then he’s not jumping the line. He’s following the rules.

      “But until that has been communicated, there is no need to think there is a teaching-related need for vaccination at this point in the roll-out.” Everyone should be vaccinated. Everyone has a need to be vaccinated.

      There is nothing wrong with trying to get vaccinated, following the rules laid out by public health officials in a truthful and open manner. If those rules are wrong, have at it with them.

  30. Bookworm*

    #5: Thanks for asking this question and thanks to Alison for the reply. I’ll admit to have done this on Facebook (yeah yeah) because I was way less experienced about job hunting and all that. Of course, it didn’t go well.

    No answer at all is also totally up to you but I’d bet wording like this about being unable to reply would help cut down the inquiries, at least a little bit.

    1. OP5*

      Thanks, Bookworm. We all make mistakes as we learn how to operate in the professional world. I really don’t want to be rude, and would prefer to respond in case this person does end up being my colleague, so I’m taking Alison’s advice!

      1. Stamps_and_things*

        OP5, I’m not sure if this helps, but I’ve been told to ALWAYS contact the job poster directly UNLESS there’s a disclaimer on the job posting that reads something along the lines of “due to us expecting a high volume of applicants — no phone calls or inquires please” some go as far as to say that a phone call or personal inquiry will disqualify your application. But unless the application has that, I think most people are told they’re SUPPOSED to contact you (or the job poster) directly through LinkedIn. Perhaps you could go the “contacting us directly will disqualify you” route if this is a serious issue for you– plus it filters out people who haven’t read the application completely.

        1. HobJopping*

          I don’t understand this recommendation – as a hiring manager myself I echo OP5’s issues, it’s invasive, feels as though they are trying to circumvent the process, and most importantly, responding to these notes adds work to my plate. I am hiring in order to offload responsibilities, not gain more.

          The process is apply => get screened => get interviewed, so not sure where these LinkedIn notes fall into that, and if they do, how would they sway me either way?

          1. Stamps_and_things*

            I think it’s bad advice that a TON of people get. My guess is that the LinkedIn easy apply buttons have a lot to do with this issue. When you click easy apply- it often doesn’t allow you to submit a cover letter- so the response is to send the cover letter directly to the job poster. (Not the right response to be sure, but perhaps the intuitive and common one). Not to mention, LinkedIn actually prompts you to submit a message to the job poster. Once you click apply, an automated message actually pops ups addressed to the person who posted it saying “I’m interested in this position bla bla bla.” I’m certainly not saying it’s right– I’m just saying I can’t blame people for thinking that’s the expectation. Especially when career counselors are telling them to do so (I work in higher ed) and LinkedIn specifically prompts them to as well. :/

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          It’s bad advice — but also, the OP isn’t even involved in hiring for these positions. They’re just contacting her because she happens to work at the same org.

  31. Brett*

    #2
    Since it sounds like this is the United States, and this person is a university teacher and not a K-12 teacher, there is a distinct possibility he is not eligible anyway. Less than half of state consider higher ed as teachers.

    In a completely frustrating loophole, my wife teaches at a university in a neighboring state, but teaches ages 3-17. In the state we live, she would be eligible to get vaccinated right now if she taught in our state. Since she teaches out of state though, she it not considered a teacher in this state. In the state where she works, she is not considered a teacher (because she is not K-12) and will not be eligible until the general population is eligible.

    1. WellRed*

      I don’t think it’s bad for the teacher to ask but I don’t understand where all the contortions are coming from in the comments. If he’s not eligible now, and others who are eligible now are still waiting, then he’s…not eligible. At least in my state, vaccine eligibility does not take into account how long it takes to be fully effective so “let’s just get you in now.” (I do not, however, rant and rave when others get it when they shouldn’t. I’ll get my turn eventually.) there’s a shortage.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This is where I come down. He is not a teacher NOW. We have people who are expected back in the classroom around students NOW who can’t get the shot. For someone who is not going to start until August to try to get one of the incredibly few slots is jumping the line.

        1. pleaset cheap rolls*

          It’s not jumping the line if he follows the rules. If the rules say he can be in the line, then he’s by definition not jumping.

      2. Boof*

        The point is if you wait until he is actively teaching to certify him then he isn’t immune when he is interacting with students and it may be a long time before he can get a vaccine appt – hard to say what vaccines will look like by summer though. Right now appts are filling up through march.

      3. Brett*

        There’s a lot of confusion though about who is or is not a teacher, especially with higher ed, because the state rules are so varied.
        I added the example of my wife because it shows how strangely complicated the rules are. Her job is to teach children age 3-18 in an academic subject at a public school. But neither the state where she lives nor the state where she works considers her to be a teacher.
        (And since I posted that this morning, we just found out that our home state has changed rules and no longer considers any higher ed employees to be teachers anyway, regardless of where they teach or what ages they teach.)

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      Your wife’s situation is confusing. Is she teaching at regular school that is on the grounds of a university?

  32. Roscoe*

    #1. This is definitely dependent on the person. I’m not saying how you should feel, but it wouldn’t bother me at all. Mainly because, the way some people see it, is that if they are donating it anyway (especially things that haven’t actually been used) why not let people you know have the first pick. Also, as a former teacher myself, I think being upset about the “wealth disparity” is a bit misguided. Not saying it doesn’t exist, but administrators typically need a lot more school (IE investment in time and money) before they are able to have those roles. I get that many administrators are bad, I had my share, but they did work their way up and do more schooling to earn that money. Also, as far as the size thing, I’m a guy, so maybe its not as big of a deal. But knowing what people are around your size or not isn’t some secret, its something anyone with eyes can see. Now, maybe if something ran a size bigger or smaller, she wants to let people know. But I don’t see it as commenting on someones body as much as just being realistic. If I have some unworn shoes or a hoodie, I can easily look around and see who may or may not fit. But, I agree with Alison, this isn’t HR worthy, because it seems like others do like it. It is something you just need to ignore.

    #2 If I give this person the benefit of the doubt, maybe he is just trying to even get an appointment. I’m in a state near the bottom of the pack (Illinois). Even people who are currently in the groups able to get vaccinated aren’t able to secure appointments until late March or April right now. If he is starting in August, and believes he is elligible (which again, even if teachers are, he may think because of his job he is) it may just be not wanting to wait until then to even be able to secure an appointment, which is fair if he will be in a higher risk setting. You don’t have to do it, but I’m trying to not assume malice here.

  33. Ubi Caritas*

    OP3: can you ask your supervisor what else you could be doing? (If not your supervisor, maybe someone else doing a similar job?) This happened to me at my last job – there wasn’t quite enough work to keep me busy, so I asked what else I could be doing, which led to a number of very interesting projects and ultimately a promotion.

  34. Silly Goose*

    Regarding the “teacher” I DO think it would be reasonable for the person to say they are a teacher 4-6 weeks before classes start… Because it is in the best interest of everyone if they get vaccinated before actually arriving in the classroom rather than after the official start date. I’m assuming two doses and some wait time to get the first one.

    Obviously, that is in no way the same as six months before hand when there are higher risk people AND actual current classroom teachers who need the vaccine.

    1. high school teacher*

      This is my conclusion as well. It comes down to the actual need. Right now we are arguably at the worst of the vaccine rollout – systems are still a mess, there is a general shortage, we still have not vaccinated the most high risk groups. So since he isn’t teaching until August, I don’t think he NEEDS it right now. I don’t fault him for asking and I don’t think it is shady – trust me, I know plenty of people who have straight up just skipped the line or lied or used connections to get a shot, so at least he just asked – but the answer should be to wait.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      If I were this OP I’d be inclined to say what I’d stated here: I can’t sign off that you are a teacher until X date because of reason Y, although when I got my vaccine they were not validating teacher status with the University.

      Is there anywhere he can explain with more nuance than just “I’m a teacher”? It seems likely that anyone applying common sense would see that this is a valid request and not a “line jumping opportunity”.

      Btw, I don’t know a great deal about ‘lab’ work but what I do know is that hands-on lab experience is considered very valuable and, as a corollary to that, some ‘distance learning’ programs in subjects that are traditionally lab-heavy do come under criticism for not having enough practical component. So I think if it can be done safely it’s likely that there is value in doing the labs ‘in-person’ even if a case could be made (and approved) for working remotely.

  35. high school teacher*

    LW 2 – Interesting situation. When I read this, I thought of the situation as follows:

    He is not teaching until August, so realistically he does not need the vaccine right now. He would need it probably in July since, at least with the current two dose vaccines, the overall vaccination process can take roughly a month to complete.

    Things change daily right now regarding vaccinations. Meaning, we could very well have a viable third vaccine shipped out this March (J&J, and even others). By late spring/early summer we could have WAY more vaccine accessibility, even creeping up to a level in which anyone in the general public is able to get a vaccine.

    Thus, my conclusion – I don’t fault this new teacher whatsoever for asking. However, since he does not NEED the vaccine right now, I don’t think the employer has to get him designated and in the system. Employer should reach out in June/July and ask his vaccination status, and then proceed from there.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      Almost everyone needs the vaccine right now. Some need it more than others.

      I’m not trying to get it now – not eligible yet. But as soon as I am I will.

  36. KayZee*

    #4, so what’s the deal? How do you report your hours? Do you literally clock in and clock out? Are you taking calls all day and is there a system that shows when you are available?

    I mean, you’re not supposed to give away free work and all, but risking your job by reporting unauthorized overtime while you’re working from home doesn’t make much sense to me.

    1. twocents*

      Working overtime and then lying about it by not putting it on your timecard is also liable to get LW fired. They should take Alison’s suggestions, and find a way to either reduce their lunch break or just follow instructions.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Q: Is it illegal as an hourly person (I’m genuinely asking the question, not with any agenda) to work hours off the clock and then not report them? (Of course, I get that you could be fired even if it isn’t illegal!) Or is it only illegal for an employer to not pay for the hours worked, knowing that they had been?

        i.e. … is the *employee* working off the books doing something illegal themselves?

        Rightly or wrongly (mostly wrongly, but I can think of situations that justify it) I can understand the situation of working overtime off the books in order to “get the job done” etc. The question could be asked – if the employer doesn’t “know” about it (via a time sheet or electronic clocking in/out system like the ‘Kronos’ one that Natalie described in a comment above) how can they be expected to pay… I’m sure it’s clear where this line of argument is going. I know there are a lot of ‘unwritten’ (of course) implicit instructions to clock off and then still get the work done, although I expect the words “work unpaid overtime” (or equivalent) never get stated. By that logic the employer has been ‘told’ (by means of the time sheet or whatever) that the hours were actually X rather than Y..

        I think this may be a UK/US cultural/legal difference thing, because in the UK when I had jobs that were, not necessarily “hourly” but overtime was payable by agreement, there were points where we had deadlines to meet and the only way that deadline was going to get met was by doing overtime… A lot of the people would take this “well, I’ll stay but only if I’m being paid for it” but some were more work-product-driven and took an attitude that was more like “I’ll stay and complete it and then we can agree afterwards if the overtime will be payable” (you know, when we’d actually delivered the thing to the customer and received the money for it!) I had this argument with people quite often…

        1. comityoferrors*

          In the US if an employee is working overtime, even if you don’t know it, you owe them money for overtime. Not just their hourly rate, but 1.5x their hourly rate. That’s been pretty clear in my HR trainings, at least (NB: I’m in California, which has stricter laws around worker’s rights in general.)

          How can they be expected to pay? Manage your employees and keep track of what work they’re doing, at what rate, and when. *SHRUG* If there’s an urgent deadline for a project, I’ll also be online/on-site and can see who is on and working (we use Teams system-wide so that’s an easy way to check.) We also have many very serious conversations about not working secretive off-the-clock OT, underlining how very, very illegal it is for us to not pay them for that time.

          I know some places in the US are terrible about this and will set completely unrealistic deadlines but refuse to authorize OT. I can kinda see the impetus to work secret unpaid OT in those cases. But my team knows that they can contact me if work can’t be done by the deadline, and I’ll either approve the OT with no questions asked, step in to help myself, or push the deadline back…and they still work secret off-the-clock OT. I do not understand it.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            Thanks! Yeah, as good management of course people ought to be on top of what their teams are doing and (depending on the work) accessible to the team during the deadline push… sometimes there are just situations out of the norm.

            Here’s one from my own experience: I was fairly junior at the time (not entry level but probably just a step above that) and my usual hours were 9-5, it was a place where lots of people including management left on the dot. My immediate manager was more of a “team lead” type (not meant in a disparaging way, but more like your manager has 6 months longer tenure and earns 50p more per hour than you do) and managers above that were totally disengaged and inaccessible as a rule.

            So, at about 5.30 this particular day (and often) I was still in the office because I’d stopped work at 5 (genuinely) but was hanging around using the computer for personal stuff or whatever (which was allowed) as my home internet sucked. On this day I got a call at 5.30 or so from an ‘account manager’ type regarding an urgent need they had for a client presentation tomorrow. We were aware of the presentation as we had had to provide some materials already for this, but in putting together the powerpoint/sales materials she discovered that she needed some additional data in order to successfully make the pitch. So what do you do? “sorry, I can’t help you as I am off the clock and overtime has to be authorised in advance?” no of course, you try to get hold of your manager but when you inevitably can’t (as I couldn’t) you make the split second decision to stay late and do the work, because of awareness of the bigger picture vs grubbing over a couple of hours of overtime.

            Later on, (in the same company but years later and I was a manager) I think my team members thought I was “bogarting” the overtime or not sharing it out fairly, because invariably there was late evening and weekend work coming up to deadlines and, yes, I “hogged” it all myself rather than share it out, but from my perspective it wasn’t paid, I didn’t want to push that obligation off onto them so I took it on myself instead! (and even if it was paid, would have taken them 3x longer to complete so wouldn’t be efficient anyway).

            I think what’s interesting is that a time sheet (or similar thing) is understood as presenting a “statement of fact”, in that if someone leaves work early, puts on their time sheet that they left at the ‘correct’ time / gets someone to clock out for them later / etc, this is a statement of what happened and as such, if you’ve claimed you worked hours you didn’t then it is time sheet fraud (rightly so) because the employer relies on the statement of fact … but in the case of working more hours than stated, there is no ‘fraud’ aspect but somehow the employer ought to know that “when I said I worked 9-5 I actually worked 9-7.30” which doesn’t seem to make sense.

            @comityoferrors, I wonder if you have ever brought up the ‘secret’ OT with your team? Have you asked why they do it, or let on that you know? (Actually how do you know?)

        2. Seven If You Count Bad John*

          As I understand it, she’s free to do what she likes, but in doing so she’s putting the company in legal jeopardy, and they don’t have to tolerate that. I think it comes from the fact that the regulatory agencies who watch this stuff know that wage theft through unpaid OT is incredibly common, and often overt (as in the boss literally tells you to clock out but keep working). So they remove the ability for the company to say “If it’s not on the time card it didn’t happen.” So yeah, a little weird–it’s not illegal for her to work extra but it is illegal for them to not pay her for it.

          And yeah, she probably is required to punch in and out–we use Kronos here too, and if there’s a question they can definitely compare the activity logs to the time punches. The situation you describe with jobs that “are not necessarily hourly” doesn’t apply here–she’s hourly, she needs to work the shift as assigned. In any case, they clearly DO know, because she’s being explicitly told to knock it off–and if she doesn’t, she can indeed be fired for insubordination, and that’s totally legit in the US.

        3. Natalie*

          To answer your first question as I don’t think it was covered, only the employer can get in legal trouble for off-the-clock work. An employee who works without reporting it can’t be fined or otherwise punished by the government themselves.

  37. pretzelgirl*

    OP2- I don’t fault him at all for asking now. Our district just vaccinated all their teachers last week. If he waits until the summer there may not be a time for him to be vaccinated. Even if the school district says no, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  38. KateM*

    #3 – Crafting is fine, Alison said. But what if OP crafts for money? Or reads a book about which she will later write a paid review, or makes notes for her own new book, or even just THINKS about things she could turn into money later (yes, the student exercises that I thought of while lying down in dark room, nursing, I’m looking at you)? Where does the line go?

    1. mythopoeia*

      I’d imagine the line has to do with whether OP is free to pick up and put down the other work at a moment’s notice. Everything you outlined is something where OP is freelance/in charge of their own work and is a task OP could stop doing instantly if work for their main job came in. If OP takes a part-time remote job elsewhere, and is accountable to a second outside boss, they will have more difficulty always prioritizing tasks for job #1 over job #2.

      1. MCMonkeybean*

        Yes, I agree. It’s about who has dibs on your time I think. If two bosses think they have the ability to ask you to do something at 10:00 am (or whatever time) then that’s a problem.

        1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

          I’d imagine the line has to do with whether OP is free to pick up and put down the other work at a moment’s notice. Everything you outlined is something where OP is freelance/in charge of their own work and is a task OP could stop doing instantly if work for their main job came in.

          It’s about who has dibs on your time I think.

          Hmm, I’m not sure that’s the crux of the distinction. I have a “self-employed” business (I genuinely do, but for the sake of anonymity here let’s say I make both “generic” and “custom” (commissioned with specific requirements) llama-themed snow globes and sell them on Etsy).

          So, could I work on the self-employed llama-snow-globe business while in a “slow period”? … Well, what’s entailed in this self employed business. Some of my tasks could be:
          – corresponding with customers about their bespoke snow globe requirements
          – researching snow globe trends for the 2021 holiday gift season
          – researching and purchasing snow globe making materials from suppliers
          – photographing example and custom snow globes I have made already (for marketing purposes)
          – creating and updating Etsy listings
          – background work such as accounting/tax records, speaking with the delivery company to find out what’s happened to my snow globe because the customer reported it hadn’t arrived after 2 weeks, etc etc.

          Any or all of those tasks aren’t dependent on being done on a particular schedule (I mean, obviously there’s a reasonable window of time in which I need to respond to a customer but it isn’t drop-everything-else urgent). As such I could be (e.g.) reading the various ‘influencers’ blogs etc and finding out that rose gold is the glitter colour everyone has to have this year…. but I could be diverted from that at any time by a work task for my main job that needs to be done.

          Does that mean it’s ok to do any or all of the above tasks while on the clock for another company? I’d say it is a pretty categorical ‘no’ to all of them!

          I think the distinction is probably more like “who directly benefits from the time being spent?” And if the person/entity paying for the time, and the person/entity directly benefiting from it are commercial and different then it’s a problem.

          Where this is less clear to me is where ‘I personally’ (rather than “my business”) benefit from the alternate work. For example if my area in the company is Llama Grooming (and the company is a full-service Llama Management place dealing with vaccinating, training, grooming, feeding and pet-sitting(!) Llamas) and I want to study something that would be a pivot into a new field such as Dog Grooming. In that case studying Dog Grooming would benefit me (as I could potentially set myself up as an independent Dog Groomer) but not my company, as they are and intend to be fully Llama focused and do not deal with Dogs at all.

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            As a concrete example of studying “Dog Grooming” as a “Llama Groomer” for anyone familiar with the technology, since I am in the tech field. It’s like if the company is in the business of developing websites for customers using the Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP (LAMP) stack and I am studying Windows/.NET website development which the company doesn’t do and doesn’t intend to pivot into, or they have built their environment with AWS (Amazon Web Services) exclusively but I am studying Google Cloud to pivot into that.

      2. KateM*

        Yes, so if thw second job was a job where OP would get a bunch of stuff to do by next morning 10 am and that’s all interaction they have, and doesn’t matter if it gets done between 10-11 am previous day or 10-11 pm at night, then it would be fine?

  39. Dust Bunny*

    Overtime: I’m hourly and working from home part of the time. On days I work from home I tend to take short lunch breaks because I don’t need the whole hour. But then I log off early at the end of the day. Unless you have to be online for set hours, this should be easy to solve. Actually, even if you do have to be online for set hours, this should be easy to solve–set an alarm to let you know when you need to go back and then read or take a nap or do something else that occupies a longer stretch of time.

  40. Dust Bunny*

    OP2: This makes me uncomfortable, but I’d also like to point out that the fact that somebody doesn’t qualify for a vaccine first doesn’t mean that it’s clear-cut that it’s best for them to wait until the bitter end. I’m decades away from 65 and have no health conditions but I live with my parents, who are both over seventy, and my mother is a transplant recipient who is permanently immunosuppressed. I’m working from home part of the time but the nature of my job is that I have to go in part of the week to pick up more work to do (this cannot be done remotely). My job is a lot more safe about this than most, but if it weren’t . . . if I brought COVID home it would be very hard to isolate enough in the same house to keep my parents from getting it, and I can’t afford weeks at a hotel. It’s pretty much a guarantee that it would kill my mother, if not both of them.

    I would guess some of these young whippersnappers who are trying to “jump the line” actually have older or sicker relatives who are relying on them for things.

    I plan to wait my turn, but I don’t think this is a black-and-white thing.

    1. Kesnit*

      I’m in a similar situation. My wife and I live with her parents. Her father has serious respiratory issues. We live in one state and I work in another. The state where we live is doing a really bad job of getting vaccines out. (I didn’t figure out until last week how to even try to sign my FiL up for the shot and he isn’t on the list yet.) The state where I work is doing a better job, and several of my co-workers have volunteered at vaccine clinics in order to get the shot. (Our job puts us in the next category, though a lot of people in our job classification in this area have already gotten the vaccine.) My wife and I have volunteered for 2 clinics; we were declined the first time and are still awaiting an answer on the second.

      I would never forgive myself if I infected my FiL.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        We’re all registered on our county wait list but it’s a county that includes one of the ten largest cities in the US. They’re focusing on over-75s right now, which still doesn’t include Mom and Dad. I’m hoping that Mom, at least, will be a priority because of her other health issues, but it’s going to be a long time before I qualify. The questionnaire on the registration page didn’t ask if you live with people who are in higher-risk categories.

    2. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Yeah this is the situation with my only daughter who I rely upon. There have been two Covid0 cases in her office (very crappy company, Covid-wise), but thankfully she hasn’t caught it. But it has interfered with her ability to do things for me. She’s considered last priority in my state. I hope the new administration ramps vaccine production way up, and new vaccines get approved so this waiting game can end for all.

  41. Elliott*

    #4: Not everyone feels this way, but I find that being able to step aside from work for an hour and not be available really helps me deal with stress and avoid feeling overworked. I also like knowing that I can count on having a little time during the day to run an errand if I need to to.

  42. Dana Lynne*

    I may be an outlier but I would be beyond delighted if someone at my work was giving away beautiful hardly worn clothes in my size. Free stuff! Cool!

    And come on; it’s no secret principals make more than teachers. Or maybe their spouse has a truly high paying job and that’s where some of the luxury is coming from. Or maybe this person just loves great clothes and buys them instead of new cars or eating out. Who knows.

    But this comes from my childhood, when we loved getting hand me downs and had a circle of families where about once a month someone would bring by “The Give Away Bag”. It was so fun! To this day my mother and aunt hand clothes around. My aunt is a clothes horse and happens to be my size. And after my mom retired, I got ALL HER WORK WARDROBE. I didn’t have to shop for years.

    In fact this habit of having a giveaway bag may be why I am always kind of background peeved when I actually have to shop! I hate shopping! Don’t the free clothes just magically appear in a trash bag on the porch? LOL.

    1. Quill*

      I know, I haaaaaate being significantly larger than my mom these days. There used to be a lot of sweaters flying back and forth as we dealt with “oh, this is back in” and “If I have to wear a modern tshirt that is practically see-through one more time…”

  43. MrsPeaches*

    LW #1 – I get why it feels icky. Perhaps you could suggest she donate the items to Dress for Success or a similar nonprofit. Just keep it lighthearted (“I just learned about a wonderful nonprofit that provides clothing for women seeking employment, I bet they would be thrilled to received donations like this!”) and don’t get into the ickyness. Definitely don’t go to HR.

  44. mythopoeia*

    #3: Alison’s and everyone else’s advice here is correct. I would add that what is true a few months into your job may not be true a year in. Once you have more capital built up at your job and know the people you work with better, you will have more latitude. Taking a part-time job for a second outside boss would still be a no-go, but you might have more room in the gray areas to do things like freelance or volunteer work. I looked for/did a lot of freelance work in my down time after I had spent a year at a job where I had nowhere near enough work to do, it was clear that would not change, and I had pursued all the obvious professional development routes. (I also was working from home, so there was no one to walk by and notice my screen.)

  45. Y'all Come Back Now, Ya Hear?*

    OP 2: I am a middle school teacher in the rural US. I’m in the next phase to be vaccinated – and I’ve been teaching in person with 100 students since September. If we had already hired a teacher for this coming August, I would 100% want them to get vaccinated with the rest of us in this upcoming phase. It makes it safer for our students in August and easier when someone isn’t required to be out for 10 days post-exposure.

    A few weeks ago, we got a phone call – my husband and I had signed up on a ‘just in case’ stand by list and they had one vaccine left from an appointment that no-showed on a Saturday. Could we get there in 23 minutes before it timed out? Yes, yes, we could. I asked my husband to get it – he wouldn’t be on the list for months and I have an appointment in a few weeks. He was the last vaccine that day – they were pulling things down behind our car. I don’t want him to get sick but it was also strategic on my part – if he’s less likely to get it, I’m less likely to have to isolate due to exposure or a positive test, and my students be without a teacher for 10 to 20 days.

  46. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    #5 – I don’t agree with Alison’s response on this one.

    My LinkedIn profile represents me in a professional capacity, not me as an employee of my company. I use it to further my career interests (keep an eye on the job market, stay in touch with others who have shared professional interests, follow developments in my field).

    It’s possible to set up your profile so that only people who have your email address can connect with you. Yes, you’ll miss out on some valid connections, but it might be worth stemming the flow of messages that are not relevant to your career interests.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As I said in the response, it’s generally fine to ignore those messages … but if you work in a community oriented nonprofit there’s also usually a desire for people to not feel completely ignored by a rep of the org.

    2. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

      I was thinking the same thing but didn’t reply with it because I couldn’t articulate it, but that’s exactly the distinction — the Linked In profile, while it’s about the professional world rather than, e.g., “what Harry Potter villain are you” etc etc, is you representing yourself in your own capacity, rather than the capacity of “HR Manager of Acme Corp”.

      Obviously you’re unofficially a representative of the company (as is everyone who links themselves with their employer in any public forum) in that if you went off on an unprofessional sweary rant on Linked In it would reflect badly on your employer …. but still, as yourself. Same as if you wear an identifiable work uniform, go somewhere else for your lunch and although you are recognised as an employee of X, you aren’t there in your capacity representing X.

      I found that the “email address” option blocks too many legit contacts (because I often accept connection requests from friends-of-friends and recruiters in a genuine networking capacity and they would not know my email address). I would actually be more inclined to put some wording (as the OP suggested!) about “For opportunities at Acme Corp please reach out via our website ……. or email (generic address like Recruiting at AcmeCorp) and any individual messages regarding recruitment won’t be responded to”, worded more nicely of course :-)

  47. Just Another HR Pro*

    OP 5 – I work in HR as well. IMO this kind of comes with the territory. It sucks but I just go with it since it is my lot in life for the profession I am in.

    But again – I TOTALLY get it.

  48. Lilyofthefield*

    How do we know that he is not at high risk? Just because he is not elderly does not mean that he is not high risk. The trend to gatekeep vaccinations and other people’s healthcare management is becoming rather alarming, as it could far too easily veer right into illegal monitoring and violation of the ADA.

      1. Boof*

        My state isn’t opening up the vaccine to “high risk” health conditions until next week; so far vaccination has been based entirely on age and occupation status; the emphasis being on trying to stop the spread among essential workers.
        It’s tempting to think high risk people should be the priority but in some ways those who aren’t high risk are the biggest potential spreaders. Also the bad PR pieces when people who are at high risk predictably have problems at some point after getting vaccinated, because they are at high risk of problems and then the vaccine is blamed without cause – silly yes but it’s already happening.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        In many places “high risk due to medical reasons” are prioritized after teachers. If I were a teacher I could get vaccinated in two weeks. My medical reasons probably won’t qualify me for at least two more months.

        1. Colette*

          Yeah. That’s the way it is, though, and if he doesn’t qualify unless he’s a teacher, he doesn’t qualify since he won’t be a teacher for another 6 months.

          I can understand wanting the vaccine – I’d love to get it – but wanting to be vaccinated based on a job you won’t have for 1/2 a year is sketchy.

        2. Self Employed*

          Where I live, the Governor took high risk medical conditions off the priority list. You get vaccinated with your age group–since they assume everyone with a high risk condition is elderly.

          Not so true for BIPOC people who often have asthma starting in childhood, as well as early diabetes and high blood pressure. A study showed that of people who had in-home care, the group most likely to die of COVID after lung cancer survivors were people with intellectual disabilities and other developmental disabilities. And who wants to beat cancer in childhood only to catch COVID and die as a young adult because you were still more susceptible but had to wait until the 16-20 group was eligible?

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Uh, no. High-risk in and of itself is not an eligible category. There is absolutely no illegal monitoring (whatever that is),or ADA violations here.

      1. Self Employed*

        High-risk is an eligible category in some states–I believe Governor Cuomo just added this in New York. (It is in Australia too, but they don’t have vaccines yet and most parts of the continent are COVID-free, so not as big a deal there.

      2. Third or Nothing!*

        It’s an eligible category in Texas. I ended up in Group 1B due to my asthma. My husband is in it for serious upper respiratory issues.

  49. blink14*

    OP #4 – take the hour and make it part of your routine. You can do all kinds of things in that time period while working from home beyond just eating lunch – a quick errand, meal prep, catching up on bills, reading a book, even watching TV. I’ve always had an hour lunch break as a full time employee, and I couldn’t live without it! It’s the time I need to take a mental break, whether working from the office or at home.

    Also, some employers will not allow you to skip your lunch break , regardless of the reason. At my old job, you had to take your lunch break, mainly because the company didn’t want anyone working through that hour and then trying to leave early. Occasionally, if I had an appointment, my boss would sometimes let me work through lunch to make up the time, but even that was frowned upon. So I made it work to my advantage. We were in a pretty small office suite in a larger building, so I would physically leave the suite for a full hour, find a place to sit and have lunch and then I would read or go my phone, go for a short walk, etc.

    In a way, this actually cemented the idea to me that if you have a schedule break time, no matter how long or short, you need to take it. Your company is offering this free time built into your schedule, and in many states for hourly employees its mandated by law, don’t give them MORE time if you aren’t benefitting from it! My boss worked through her lunch break every day when we were in the office, and I’m sure she does now working from home. If she took just 15-20 minutes to actually stop working, eat lunch, and go back to work, it wouldn’t actually “add” more time to her day, because she was already working an hour or two more every day, on a salary, with no overtime. It wasn’t like she worked through lunch and then left early, most days she worked more hours than scheduled.

  50. Jennifer*

    #1 I would take the clothes if they fit me. Beautiful, designer, gently worn clothes that I don’t have to pay for. Yay me! This definitely isn’t worth going to HR over. Do people accept the clothes? Has anyone expressed to you privately that they feel uncomfortable? This may be a case of trying to save people from a situation when they don’t really need saving.

    1. Jean*

      Yeah, this OP is framing something that bothers her on a personal pet peeve level as a work problem. It’s not. It’s just something she needs to get over, IMO.

  51. Dr of Laboratoria*

    OP#2 – I think the most you can say to this new hire is that you cannot classify him as a teach until the term starts. I would not add anything about the scarcity of vaccines. It’s not your responsibility to say yes or no to someone about getting the vaccine. The qualifications for who gets the vaccine and who doesn’t is up to your state. And if they are not verifying information, that’s not your problem to solve.

    You have no idea if this person has a reason to get vaccinated early without being invasive about their private like (as other’s pointed out above – what if they have have an underlying condition, but because they are young, they don’t qualify? What if they have someone at home who is at risk but won’t be able to get their vaccine until well into the summer?).

    Since I work for a hospital system, I was offered the vaccine starting December 2020. I work in a lab, with some patient contact, but not anywhere near a nurse or a doctor. I was going to wait until February or March to give others the chance first. HOWEVER… my husband made the excellent point that he won’t be eligible for the vaccine until the end of the year since he’s a healthy adult. And my children are too young to get it. And we don’t live near any family. So if we both go down with COVID, how are we going to take care of our kids? So, since my hospital was offering it, I took it.

    Again, it’s not up to you to decide who gets it. All you can reply to this person is that unfortunately, you cannot qualify this person as a teacher until August.

    1. Richard*

      Yeah, I know a lot of health care workers in this boat, who don’t feel like “front-line” workers, but took the vaccine because a) it was offered, b) vaccinated people are good for society, and c) it will make their family life a little less vulnerable. It’s good that people are being careful about giving priority to the neediest people, but we shouldn’t be discouraging apparent edge cases from getting vaccinated, unless, of course, distributing the vaccine is literally your job.

  52. Me*

    #2 Don’t be sure there isn’t verification. In my county in Maryland you can fill out the form saying you are in whatever group you’d like. But you have to bring proof when you go to your appointment. If you aren’t in the current age group or have evidence that you are a first responder, healthcare worker or educator, you will be turned away and your appointment forfeited.

    1. Tired of Covid-and People*

      Grocery store vaccinators aren’t asking for proof where I live, don’t know about county sites. Proof is baked into worksite vaccinations. Forfeiting an appointment is risky as the vaccine must be used after thawing.

  53. B Wayne*

    LW#4: Following and continuously makes this a trend and is not inadvertent. My advice: “Alexa, set timer for one hour.” AND STICK TO IT! A little more OT and I would bet somebody is either going to send you “home” w/o pay for a day to make up the difference or find someone a little more cognizant of work hours.

  54. employment lawyah*

    1. My boss offers expensive hand-me-down clothing to staff
    Odd. Reject it or ignore it, if not possible.

    2. New employee wants help cutting the vaccination line
    Neither answer seems right.

    If he isn’t teaching now, he shouldn’t get vaccinated now. But if he’s teaching in the fall, he should get vaccinated BEFORE he starts, not WHEN he starts. It’s at least a 4-week deadline between shots (and they currently think longer is better) plus a two-week followup to build immunity.

    Assuming he’ll be doing in person work, put him on the list in June.

    3. Can I work a second job at my first job if things are slow?
    No, no, no. You will get fired for this at almost any job.

    You are “paid to be available,” and even if you have free time, you should only be doing free-time stuff which isn’t interfering w/ your obligations.

    However, if you have a LOT of free time, you might suggest the obvious: Take a class in a skill which will be useful. Even “getting really good at Word styles” can be great.

    4. I keep working unauthorized overtime
    Invest your prior extra-OT-earnings in an apple watch, talk to Siri “Set a timer for 60 minutes” and use the watch.

    Otherwise you will get fired.

    5. Job applicants contact me on LinkedIn
    Well, that is literally what Linkedin is FOR, so like Alison says you’ll just have to form-letter them.

    1. employment lawyah*

      Class-taking tips:
      1) Look around. Do the busiest people do a lot of ___? Does the company routinely hire people do do ___ and it’s something lower-level? Do you hear people grumbling about ___, which would be a problem you could solve if you had some training?

      2) Identify options on your own. In-person (on your campus)? Remote synchronous, which would tie you up for class? Remote asynchronous? Just watching some YuTube videos and learning from a book?

      3) Present three to four options. Explain why:
      “I think the most useful is ___ because ___. But that would require ___. As a tradeoff, I could have more flexibility for classes if I did ___, which might be somewhat less useful but still handy. At the least I would like permission to install ___ program and would like the company to buy me these two books. this will let me learn ___.”

    2. Boof*

      re #2 – yes exactly! Certify your teacher in june if that means they will be immune by August / when they start teaching.

  55. RagingADHD*

    The clothing thing is weird and awkward because of the context. If peers wanted to do a closet swap, or if one had a bigger clothing budget, higher household income, etc, it wouldn’t be odd at all. Or a group swap, as mentioned upthread.

    Or if an exec did this with their PA, it would be less odd.

    But with a large group of direct reports, it’s not appropriate to do this privately/directly because of the appearance of favoritism. And the one-way “donation table” thing is just …yeah, tone-deaf is a good word for it. It’s not like putting out a plate of cookies for everyone to share — these are secondhand clothes.

    At the same time, the LW seems to have taken umbrage to this a lot more than the situation warrants. It’s not a personal insult, and it’s not abusive or discriminatory. It’s just weird and awkward.

  56. GS*

    #5 – I had a very similar role previously and I’d usually responded with like thanks so much for reaching out, happy to answer questions about x via messenger (if they said they had questions). We are only able to consider applicants that have applied directly to the role and a recruiter will reach out should it be a fit – wishing you all the best!

    It is very irksome but I also dealt with more junior hiring, so the 50 – 100 messages/adds I’d get every month it felt nicer to give them something – most never reply or have a truly dull question like “what do you like about the culture” or whatever.

    It was only the people looking for full time roles that I didn’t work on that got snippy.

  57. Jennifer*

    I guess what is still irking me a bit about #1 is the assumption that everything in the world has to include everyone and if it doesn’t it’s somehow offensive. I’m what I guess you would describe as mid-sized, so I would definitely not fit the boss’s clothes, but if she gave them to someone who would, she isn’t being mean to me. Sometimes you just have to look at something, shrug, and go on with your day. We seem to be losing that ability.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Yeah, I teach some seminars on the environmental impact of clothing production (spoiler: it’s bad!) and how to reduce your impact, and part of that is purchasing secondhand clothing, and someone inevitably jumps up to tell me how it’s very privileged to assume that someone has access to thrift & secondhand stores / can find clothing in their size / etc..

      And yes, that is true, but that doesn’t mean that buying secondhand clothing is off the table for everyone because it isn’t an option for everyone as a way to reduce your environmental impact.

  58. Boof*

    OP 2 – my husband is a part time sub who isn’t teaching in person specifically because of covid. I encouraged him to sign up and get the vaccine as part of the occupation group because he WILL teach in person once he is vaccinated.
    Similarly, I think the priority should be on making sure your workforce is vaccinated / immune by the time they start interacting with students to protect the students and their families.
    Technically we will say he is immune 2 weeks after the 2nd dose of the RNA vaccines, but if you read the studies the infection rate drops off about 2 weeks after the first dose.
    It’s questionable whether the vaccine will be available to everyone by August; but maybe it will. Vaccines slots are also scheduling out a month and a half in my area, and that only if one’s willing to drive a few hours for it.
    I think you should keep an eye on that and if your sub doesn’t have a vaccine slot by, say, June, consider certifying them as a teacher so they can be immunized by August. Hopefully.

  59. Regular Human Accountant*

    I’m in a similar boat to LW3; I have a well-paying job that only requires a few hours of actual work per week, and doesn’t stretch my brain at all. I’ve requested more work, consistently volunteer to do new things, but for now it is what it is. I feel guilty complaining about it! But at the same time, I’m bored nearly witless. I have decided to pursue a certification that I should have gotten years ago; it will require taking some classes online which will keep me busy during my work downtime, and at the end of the year I should be able to look for a new job that will pay what I’m making now but be more of a challenge.

  60. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

    Re OP1.

    I’m guessing this is a cultural thing because (like potlucks) the Workplace Table of Freebies is a thing that just does not happen where I live (not in the US obviously).

    I’d be really interested to hear from commenters who are also not in the US. Is this common where you live?

    1. UKDancer*

      In the UK and not really. My company has a bookcase on one floor and people can leave books there when they’ve finished them. As a lot of people commute by public transport, people often read books on the way in and out and leave them on the shelf when finished.

      The other thing that people tend to bring in and leave is vegetables if they’re growing them. I’ve a colleague with an allotment who brings in courgettes, spuds etc and leaves them for anyone who wants them and some others have taken to doing the same. I am sorry we missed it with the move to remote working last year because his veg are so good.

      People don’t tend to leave a lot of freebies / upmarket clothes but I wish they did.

    2. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’ve worked in places in the UK where books were common, and the bathrooms had miscellaneous personal care stuff like lotion and perfume in them that people had brought in. Never clothes, though.

  61. Kotow*

    #1: Oh awkward! I will say, I’m extremely petite and didn’t grow up with a lot of money but we had family friends with a daughter around my size who loved to spend all of her money on designer clothes. Most of my wardrobe came from her! I’d totally jump to the front of the line for the donation table because it’s such a frustrating experience being sized out at every store because clothes just aren’t made that small. But yeah, it’s one thing to do that privately (such as “where do you get your clothes, I can never find clothes that fit properly in stores” and the free wardrobe develops naturally) and another to make an announcement about it in front of everyone! But it sounds more like “tone deaf manager” than extremely inappropriate behavior.

  62. Lucia Pacciola*

    #2 – I don’t think it’s ever too early to vaccinate. Why *not* get an incoming teacher vaccinated as soon as possible? What possible benefit to him, you, or your community is there by making him wait?

    If there were a real shortage of doses for Phase 1a, I could see telling him to hold off. But my understanding is that this is not the case. He’s on the payroll. Put him on the list. Make one more small step towards normalcy.

  63. Former NPO CEO*

    Oh, dear. I had a staffer who was losing weight. I gave her some very nice clothes that no longer fit me, barely worn. I meant well. My bad.

    1. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      Did you go up to her in a meeting and loudly say “hey, now that you’re not so huge you might be able to wear these old rags!” while forcing them into her unwilling hands? Or threaten her job if she didn’t wear them to work? No? Then it’s fine.

  64. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    LW2: The intent of offering access to the vaccine to your industry group is to ensure that you have sufficient workforce to reopen (or stay open). Even though he’s not teaching now, he will be in a relatively short time frame, and that’s what’s important. I’m running a vaccine site now and wouldn’t even blink an eye at having this person vaccinated.

    1. Self Employed*

      Thank you for giving an expert opinion as an actual vaccine site runner! The rest of us are just armchair quarterbacking.

  65. Roscoe*

    What I’ve learned from this board as well as reddit, is any talk of the vaccine brings out some VERY strong opinions.

    But what I hope people remember, is to not be mad at each other, be mad at the system. Most of the US has bungled the vaccine rollout. But unless someone did something extremely unethical, don’t judge them for getting a vaccine before someone you think is more deserving. Any vaccines people get is progress.

  66. Maggie*

    Overtime OP- Keep doing this only if you want to get fired. We can, will, and have fired people simply for doing this (after repeated warnings). They were “shocked” and idk why since we told them over and over again to stop doing it or they’d get fired.

  67. Coverage Associate*

    Am I the only one having trouble donating clothes locally? Lots of organizations stopped taking non-cash donations in March. I have clothes, food and household items waiting for the end of the pandemic.

    1. Natalie*

      Not especially. I guess I was under the impression that everyone got the memo that they don’t really need to worry about surfaces?

      You could try freecycle/Buy Nothing/Craigslist type groups.

      1. Filosofickle*

        In my area the problem isn’t surfaces — it’s being overwhelmed with donations. Our Goodwill-type donation sites are technically open, but they are drowning in donations from everyone’s closet pandemic clean-outs. Sites stop accepting regularly and are placing serious limits on what any one person can bring in at a time. That plus fewer people shopping in the stores means they’re just backed up with piles of stuff.

        My household items are mostly going through Buy Nothing. Clothes ended up in a for-profit metal bin (way out in the exurbs, the ones near me are always jammed) after weeks of not finding a place to take them. I’m intentionally not going through any more closets / cabinets until it’s easier to donate.

    2. StudentA*

      Yes, I’m having the same experience in my area. Most organizations get dumped with clothes I guess. I don’t know why else they don’t want them.

  68. Jay*

    LW#1 and Alison. I understand the whole “if one person is uncomfortable it needs to stop” mentality but I would check with your co workers and see how they feel about this. Instead of having it stop, maybe a more discreet way of doing it? I for one would love if my boss did this and actually would be upset at whoever stopped it.

  69. W&H Lady*

    LW#4- You’re lucky disciplinary action hasn’t been taken against you by your employer. Unpaid OT leaves an employer open to lawsuits and regulatory actions. Even though they are paying for your use of overtime currently, if you do that too many times they can certainly fire you over the issue. (So maybe consider it more of a condition of employment than an option unless your employer is *REAL* chill with paying you extra for overtime).

    Also, Alison didn’t mention this, but in some states and municipalities (in the US) break times are specifically mandated to be taken within a certain time block of the shift so the employer doesn’t have the flexibility to move parts of a break time to the end of the day, even if the employee wanted it. This would be especially true if LW#4 had a 30 minute lunch break instead of an hour. Because LW#4 has an hour though, the employer could likely just let them take a 30 minute lunch break and move the rest of it to the end of the day without repercussion, but the LW would still have to strictly take off early and not work until the end of “normal” business hours in order to avoid veering into overtime.

    Signed, a State Wage & Hour Lady

  70. Health care worker*

    Letter writer #2 or the new teacher may have phrased the question badly. If you know you don’t qualify now, don’t ask for a vaccine. But if someone thinks they might qualify, asking IF they can get in line isn’t rude. Unless they yell or get belligerent with someone who says “No, not yet.” I desperately want to see teachers get vaccinated so they can safely go to to work and kids can safely go back to school. I hate that so many kids are suffering from zoom fatigue and isolated from their teachers and friends. Many parents are more than ready for in-person learning to open up as long as it’s safe. Also, if he’s teaching in August, he needs to start asking now to ensure he gets appointments for both doses before school starts. My mom’s over 75 and getting her an appointment took much longer than I realized it would. Everything in my area is booked out pretty far or isn’t accepting more appointments for now.

    All that being said – Depending on where you live, your health insurance, your health, work, age, and whatever other factors they are using to base how they want people to queue up, you may not know exactly how they are determining who gets to line up now. Yes, it sucks. No, it’s not fare. The clinic I’m at keeps getting jerked around on how many vaccines we’ll get and when. We got told 500 a week, then 200, then 300, then that any of our patients who went to the hospital instead of the clinic has their shot taken out of our allotment. They keep yo-yoing the age availability and health accommodations to account for the fluctuations in the number of vaccines we anticipate vs what we actually get vs how many patients in which age/health group have made appointments. On top of all that, they have to make sure they will have enough second doses available.

    So, Yep, it’s a mess. But shots in arms are victories! I keep trying to focus on the positive despite the world feeling like it’s falling apart.

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