company sent us PayDay candy as “appreciation,” manager discouraged me from getting vaccinated, and more

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

1. We received Pay Day candy bars in our crappy appreciation boxes

This week is Employee Appreciation Week. My company announced that they’d be sending gift boxes to all employees in lieu of the usual in-person events. The boxes arrived today, and it was anti-climactic: a random assortment of company-branded goods and one PayDay candy bar.

I’m assuming the PayDay bar is a tasteless joke, considering that the company offers very little aside from base salaries. We had a great year even with the pandemic (increasing size and profit, saving on office space and employee events), but they still cut our already unimpressive annual bonuses in December. Our benefits are below average. The “gifts” of company merch are likely swag leftovers that they’d rather give away than relocate to a new office (items vary between boxes, so it doesn’t seem planned).

This is especially frustrating because our CEO is very vocal on blogs and media platforms about treating your employees well. I don’t feel that the company is taking care of me at all, and they’re bragging about how good we have it.

In short: Getting a PayDay bar feels icky, like they’re reminding us to be grateful for a paycheck. The company is doing very well and the success is not getting passed down to us employees. Do I just let this go, or is it worth clarifying the “joke” with HR?

I’m guessing the PayDay candy bar was indeed someone’s idea of a joke, but you’re right that it’s tasteless — and it’s a little cruel, too. Employers shouldn’t joke about employees’ pay, and definitely not in a year when they’ve already cut bonuses. It would have been better to just skip these packages altogether.

But is it worth saying something? Eh. One one hand, if I were a decision-maker in your company, I’d want to hear about how this landed. On the other hand, it sounds like there are much bigger problems there. I’d save your capital for something else.

2. My boss discouraged me from getting vaccinated

I’m eligible to receive the COVID vaccine. When I let my manager know that I’d be out of the office for the appointment, she had a surprising response. She listed misinformation about the vaccine’s safety and told me that the vaccine can cause miscarriages (the way she worded it implied she thought I was eventually going to have children … I’m not even pregnant!).

On the day I received the vaccine, she made similar comments again to me in person, with more myths about the vaccine that have been debunked. I didn’t say anything to her. I shrugged.

I have lost too many people from COVID, and I’m not only getting the vaccine for myself — I’m getting it for those around me. I haven’t told this to my manager, and she never asked. I do not think that she has been affected by it.

My manager has said many things that have rubbed me the wrong way in the past, but I can’t seem to shake this off. Is it worth speaking to someone about this — a coworker even?

Good lord. If you have HR, it’s definitely worth telling them your boss is discouraging employees from getting the vaccine and providing misinformation about it. Assuming your employer is not itself deluded about Covid, they’ll likely want to know this … if for no other reason than that it’s in their business interests to have people vaccinated, but hopefully they also don’t want their managers pushing health misinformation on people.

3. Can I ask people I know to put in a good word for me when I apply at their companies?

I’ve been unemployed for almost a year, and I’ve gotten frightfully few interviews. (I’ve had my resume checked out by a career coach and another resume expert, and my career coach has checked out some of my cover letters – plus I read your site for cover letter advice). My industry has just been hit really hard by Covid.

I’ve always gotten jobs through personal connections, and I was wondering if I knew someone at a company I was applying to, if it is considered okay to ask them to “put in the good word” for me (no pressure, obviously).

I ask because I tried this recently. A friend of mine who I have worked with and run into socially off and on for about eight years worked at a company I was applying to. We worked well together, he has invited me and my partner to his house for parties, and I assume he has nothing but good will towards me. However, when I sent him a low-key email asking if he might be able to put in a good word, he never replied. Was it so highly inappropriate? I’m very embarrassed if so, but I can’t tell if this silence was an isolated incident.

Now, there is another job opening I am about to apply to, where a different acquaintance that I know from previous work/social life is in a senior role there. (Like the above, this person is not in my first layer of friends, but once removed. We have a positive work history together). I have the instinct to reach out to him, but now I’m skittish. Is this even something people do? Am I trying too hard? I just feel like my resume isn’t getting seen.

Yes, this is a thing people do! Personally I prefer it to be framed more like, “If you think I might be the right fit, I’d be grateful if you’d mention it to the hiring manager.” That allows for the possibility that they might rather not … maybe because you’ve never worked together so they can’t vouch for your work, or they’re already pushing a different candidate, or they don’t think you’re the right match for the job, or so forth.

Another softer way to approach it is not to request that they put in a good word, but instead to say something like, “I wanted to let you know I applied to the X role on your team. Would you be able to make sure they see my resume?” Once the person is alerted that you’ve applied, they’ll usually put in a good word on their own if they think you’d be a good candidate.

4. Can I ask for a later start date so I have time off after graduation?

I’m a student currently working a part-time co-op. I’m in my last semester before graduation and at my last 1:1 with my manager, we discussed putting a full-time offer on the table and he said he would be pursuing getting me one. If that does pan out and I receive an offer to go full-time at my current company, how acceptable would it be to negotiate a later start date for, say, a month off?

I’m completely exhausted from working non-stop for four years straight. I’ve been a full-time student, taken summer and winter classes, worked internships and part-time jobs, been involved in extracurriculars, got everything turned on its head halfway through thanks to Covid, among just personal things, and I’m so exhausted. I’m really, really wanting to finally be able to take a proper vacation when I graduate because I can’t remember the last time I truly had a break and didn’t do any work. Would it look unreasonable to ask for a start date about a month after graduating so I can try and rest just a little from the last four years, or is that too long? What is and isn’t reasonable to ask for here?

Nope, that’s not unreasonable at all. People do that all the time! Three months would (often) be too much (although not in every case), but one month shouldn’t be a big deal. Sometimes there are exceptions to that, like if they need you at a training class that only happens twice a year or if there’s a key project you’d need to start right away, but they’ll tell you if that’s the case and it won’t be outrageous that you asked.

You could say it like this: “Would we be able to set my start date for one month after my co-op role ends? I’ve got some things I need to take care of right after graduation, but could start on June 15 if that works for you.”

Read an update to this letter here

5. Working from another state when you’re working remotely

My company is fully remote right now and has been since March 2020. I’m not aware of any plans to go back to an office; we gave up the lease on our old office space.

As a remote worker, what is the obligation/etiquette around alerting your employer if you plan to be away from your primary residence for a period of time, while still working normal hours? For example, say I live in San Francisco but would like to go stay with family in Miami for a month. I would absolutely plan to work full-time, during the normal hours my company is open, on Pacific Time. How do I approach this with an employer? Will it look like I am trying to slack off and take vacation? Is there any other reason an employer might not like this?

P.S. I am aware of the risks of leisure travel during COVID. We would be taking precautions, quarantining, getting tested, etc. I am more curious if there is another reason an employer might object to this.

In theory, as long as you’re working the same hours and have the same availability to your colleagues, an employer shouldn’t object to this. In reality, they sometimes do because they assume you’ll be vacationing more than working. But if you’re a conscientious employee with a good track record, it’s often pretty easy to negotiate this kind of thing. (And frankly, some people just choose not to mention it, figuring that it won’t affect the employer in any way.)

That said, be aware that some employers have very restrictive rules about working from another state, even temporarily, out of concern over creating business nexus. (If your employee has employees in other states, it can create nexus in that state, meaning they have to charge sales tax to customers there, pay taxes there, and comply with that state’s employment laws.) Typically that doesn’t happen from a few weeks of vacationing somewhere, but some companies are being ultra cautious about it right now and have told employees they can’t work from out of state, period.

{ 352 comments… read them below }

  1. Bilateralrope*

    For LW2, I’d also consider treating it like any other time you’ve got a coworker (especially one above you) going around telling people to skip safety procedures. For me, that would escalate along a different path to HR complaints, but I don’t know what the health and safety laws are like where the letter writer is.

    So if I get a coworker like that, I’d probably be contacting HR and our health and safety committee.

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Yes, I wonder if this manager’s spreading misinformation about the vaccine could be a potential liability issue for the company.

      1. allathian*

        Indeed. I agree with Alison, HR should be told about this. It’s not just a matter of spreading misinformation, either. Even if the company itself has a less than stellar track record about Covid, it’s still inappropriate for a boss to concern themselves with an employee’s health-related decisions, unless getting a vaccine or a drug test is a condition of employment. Most functional companies would intervene if a manager started pushing a favorite diet on employees, for example. This is no different.

        1. Anna*

          I had an anti-vaxx boss, and apart from anything else they make you feel shit. I needed to leave an hour early to take my daughter to get her HPV vaccination and I never heard the end of it. The power imbalance (plus this was a team of four, three of which were his family) made it hard to push back. Definitely go to HR, your health decisions are zero business of hers.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I would be surprised if there were a liability issue, unless OP works in a health care setting or somewhere where the manager would normally be someone from whom it was reasonable to get, and follow, medical advice.

        That set, it’s totally inappropriate and I agree that it should be reported to HR, because she is spreading misinformation and discouraging employees from getting appropriate medical treatment.

        And while they may not be able to prevent her voicing her opinion (whoever ill-informed) about the vaccine, they should be able to address the issue of her interfering with other employees choices and seeking to prevent you from getting life-saving treatment.

        1. yala*

          i want to say technically you can get in trouble for giving medical advice, but it would have to have been phrased very specifically

        2. Observer*

          I would be surprised if there were a liability issue, unless OP works in a health care setting or somewhere where the manager would normally be someone from whom it was reasonable to get, and follow, medical advice.

          I think that the thing I would worry about, liability wise, is not about medical malpractice as much as the supervisor effectively interfering with the employee’s ability to get appropriate healthcare and interfering with the employee following appropriate safety protocol.

          I could also see it as being a real potential PR nightmare.

          1. Bagpuss*

            Absolutely a PR nightmare!

            I was trying to think how there could be liability and struggling, since she has no power to prevent OP getting their jab and no reasonable expectation that OP would follow the bosses ‘medical’ advice, bit it isn’t my field and I’m in a different jurisdiction anyway..

            1. Artemesia*

              By discouraging vaccinations she is increasing the likelihood that some people will fail to do so and make the workplace unsafe.

              1. LW2*

                That’s exactly what I was thinking! It just makes it more difficult for the company if there’s a higher risk of spread. Vaccinated employees very much help this.

          2. LW2*

            Yeah. I was super, super excited to get the vaccine, and when I saw their comments I felt deflated, even though I knew getting vaccinated was the right move.

        1. AKchic*

          This. We need to stop softening the language. Misinformation is when I tell people I had a “little sugar” today, when in fact I ate 2 poptarts and drank a soda for breakfast (so far), because it’s a little sugar *to me*.
          Spreading lies about Covid and the vaccine aren’t misinformation or myths. They are lies that can be easily disproven, should be discouraged from being spread (much like Covid itself), and the person(s) who share in such lie-telling should be side-eyed for being either so gullible or so willfully malicious as to harm others/perpetuate the continuation of a pandemic. This isn’t a harmless conspiracy theory like “Big Foot stole my socks when I went camping”, this was an attempt to shame/prevent a coworker/community member from getting medical care.

        2. Evan Þ.*

          Myself, I prefer to restrict “lies” to wrong things said by someone who knows they’re wrong.

          If he mistakenly believes them, that’s still bad, but a different sort of badness.

    2. LW2*

      Thank you for this insight! I think the next big step that will take courage, for me, is going to HR.

  2. Wellesley*

    Sending support and love to LW#4 as a fellow graduating college student who can’t remember the last time they went four days without doing work. The thought of that sweet month after graduation before starting a job might be the only thing moving me forward right now.

    1. Willis*

      As a 40 year-old who worked during grad school and immediately after without any between-job breaks since, I really encourage you both to take that time off after school if you can! The break after finishing college was the last I’ve had without any school/work responsibilities hanging over my head and those couple months live on ever so gloriously in my memory!!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Yes, please take the time! I did ask and I was told no, but then they started a new group of trainees three months after I started. I am still a little bit cranky about that – I could have had a summer off – after working as a lifeguard every summer since I was 15 – with the knowledge of financial security.

        1. profe*

          Holy moly, the two months between finishing grad school/getting a job and said job actual starting were the most freeing of my life. A summer vacation not spent working, but with the security of a future paycheck? Golden.

      2. Hello Sweetie!*

        I agree! When I got my first job out of college, my boss wanted me to start as soon as possible so I would have overlap with her current employee who was leaving for graduate school. So I graduated, went to my grandmothers birthday party and then packed my car and drove 10 hours. Started work the day after just wiped.

        And in the end I didn’t need that much overlap – I could have started a month later and still had plenty of time to learn the basics.

        Take the month to decompress!

      3. Third or Nothing!*

        I graduated college a decade ago on a Saturday and was at my new job on Monday. Haven’t stopped working since. One of my regrets from that time is not taking at least a week or two to rest and just do some fun things like take a random road trip to see silly roadside attractions in my state or whatever.

        1. Cat Tree*

          I graduated college in the late 00’s, and this was before ACA. My mom had excellent health insurance through her job, so I was covered until my 23rd birthday. I graduated three days after my 23rd birthday and started a full time job a week later. I was really worried during that gap that I’d have a serious car accident and end up in a bad financial situation before I even started working. And I moved to a different state for that job so it was more risky.

          Now that people can be covered on a parent’s plan until 26 or buy health insurance on the marketplace, the whole calculation is different. I probably would have taken a month break if I could. But, I accepted my job offer 4 months before graduation and immediately felt senioritis, so I guess I got somewhat of a break anyway.

          1. Cat Tree*

            I also want to add that starting work was almost like a vacation for me. At entry level, I never had to take work home so when I was done for the day, I was just done and had evenings to myself. I was so used to studying and doing projects on weekends and evenings that it was actually like a break for me.

            1. M. Albertine*

              Oh yes, I remember this, too! It was SO FREEING to be able to leave work at work and not having the next paper or whatever hanging over my head.

              That being said, I got to take three months between graduating and starting my job and it was glorious.

              1. The Rural Juror*

                That’s how I felt when I finally quit my bartending job after landing a full-time role (shortly after graduating). I kept working my service industry job for a while to pay off some debt and save up money, but working 60+ hours a week was KILLING ME. When I went down to working 40 hours a week and having time off in the evenings…it felt like a whole new life!

                1. Uranus Wars*

                  I bartended thru college and for about 10 years as a 2nd job.

                  When I quit I almost went back to bartending! It took me awhile to get used to all the free time and not feel lazy! I do not encourage anyone to do this and say to the OP: take the month off, it will probably be the last full month you are in control of your own schedule for a very very long time.

            2. Third or Nothing!*

              I do remember that feeling! It was SO NICE to just unplug after 5 PM and do whatever I wanted. I really could have used a real break, though. I am 31 years old and have worked nonstop since age 17. I get vacations and stuff as part of my benefits but they’ve always been eaten up by family obligations.

    2. Rocket Woman*

      I 100% suggest taking the time off! I felt much the same – full course load, 2 part time jobs, and extracurriculars during the semester, with grueling internships every summer. I got a full time offer from my last internship, and set my start date for 2 months off – 5+ weeks of which I spent travelling (which I realize isn’t practical right now due to Covid). I still had a month off after I returned, which gave me much needed time to do nothing for a few weeks, and then move cross country and be fully settled before starting my job. Those 2 months off were the best decision I ever made.

      Take the time!

    3. the cat's ass*

      Totally! I did PT grad school with a mix of 3 PT jobs that continued until i relocated due to hub’s work. After that i had to job hunt but ended up having 2 glorious months off to do that and explore my new neighborhood. Wishing you a rejuvenating time off, LW#4!

    4. Kes*

      Yeah, I did just this when I graduated – actually I got a job early in the summer and asked to start in September and they agreed. I was in a co-op program with no summers off, and I haven’t had a summer off since I started working, so I’m definitely glad I took the time when I could

    5. NotAnotherManager!*

      I typically have a small group of recent-graduate sprint hires, and we assume that they need at least a month off between graduation and start to relax, relocate, and get settled in before starting work. We have sometimes moved the standard start date back a week to accommodate people as we prefer to have them all start at the same time. It would be harder to do an end-of-summer start, but mid-to-late June seems to work pretty well for most grads.

    6. EuroTraveler*

      My family had a several-weeks-long overseas trip planned for the summer after I graduated university – I think it was in July, and I was thinking to start my job in August, right afterwards. My new manager wanted me to start earlier so I negotiated to start in June and then take 2-3 weeks off (unpaid of course) approximately 4 weeks after I started. My coworkers good-naturedly gave me a hard time “haha, taking several weeks off already?” and I look really fondly with my time at that department, having spent 10+ years with the company.

    7. Mid*

      I did it—I graduated in 2019 and took a month off to just…breathe mostly. I slept a lot. I went for walks in the park. Binged all the Netflix shows I’d been missing out on because I was working 50+ hours a week while in school full time. I didn’t do anything strenuous or academic. It was wonderful, and absolutely necessary for me to start off my job on a good foot. If I didn’t have that time to rest, I would not have been able to be a halfway decent employee.

      So, good luck! And I hope you have a wonderful graduation and a wonderful break!

    8. LW4*

      Thank you! Much love and support to you as well!

      And thank you so much everyone for the kind and supportive responses and for sharing your experiences – I do have a happy update to share! I received a verbal offer from my manager right before Allison ran my letter, and I decided to take the opportunity to ask about start date. We agreed on a date that will give me almost exactly a month off after graduation!

      I’m really looking forward to that month off. I love travel but since COVID is still probably going to be a thing, I’m hoping maybe to just take a road trip with my family (socially distanced of course, probably lots of outdoorsy places/hiking spots I’ve wanted to visit for a long time). Either way, I’m excited to be able to catch my breath and not have any responsibilities so I’ll be ready when I start my new job!

  3. Anon For This*

    LW#1, at a preschool where I worked (accredited program and families paid a lot), the Payday sounds similar to our teacher appreciation week stuff. We got cheesy stuff but they tried to make it a mix of useful (notebook, beverage) and enjoyable (candy). As someone who has worked in nonprofits and childcare, the bar has not been set high.
    It seems like whatever they did would have come off cheap after they cut your bonuses. I mean, gift cards would have been better, right? But I’m guessing you still would have been thinking about the bonuses.

    1. Jam Today*

      At the elementary school where my mother taught, they all got keychains one year. KEYCHAINS. They gathered them up into a big envelope and sent them back.

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        My mother was a nurse. One year the hospital gave them cheap blankets as a Christmas gift. The “Blankets for Babies” donation bin was full of navy fleece blankets that year.

        1. Nothing clever to say*

          The only thing my workplace has ever given us for Christmas is an email with a wintery jpg copy/pasted from Google images and permission to wear jeans on Christmas Eve. So I get not wanting the blanket, but it’s better than nothing at all.

      2. profe*

        The PTA at my school has been laying it on real thick this year, for obvious reasons. Like, thanks for the candy bar, but I’d still rather be teaching virtually during a gd pandemic!

    2. yala*

      I remember my teachers in gradeschool getting, like, a large posterboard “card” with candy in place of relevant words. Payday being a specific one. But I think that was maybe a PTA thing, not something the actual employers gave them in place of a bonus.

      Reminds me of my brother who went into work during the freeze week when other folks quit, worked double shifts taking care of 60 dogs (3x their usual number) out doors in the freeze…their boss brought in a couple boxes of girl scout cookies for everyone to split.
      Like, hell, a $20 gift card to target would’ve been something. The cookies were just enough to be insulting.

      (He’s got a better job now)

      1. KaciHall*

        My Christmas bonus one year was a $10 Butterball grocery check. I pointed out to the HR department that some you needed a valid license or ID to use it, there were probably a lot of our employees who got no benefit out of it. I REALLY hope they changed but I left before the next EOY.

        I still have the check. I’m pretty sure the hassle of using it would outweigh the ten bucks I would save.

        1. yala*

          what can you even get with $10? Half a turkey?

          (I mean, we don’t get Christmas bonuses at all. But there’s usually a luncheon. This year we got a cafeteria voucher because of covid)

      2. boop the first*

        Knowing that teachers have to drop so much personal money on supplies and room decor, it shouldn’t be difficult to think of something other than candy and keychains. Hmmm something… hmmm…. what could they possibly need…

      3. nonegiven*

        Wasn’t that the show Dead Like Me where Millie/George got a Payday bar with her first paycheck?

    3. Tangerina Warbleworth*

      Presumably your company checked their records prior to sending out the Pay Day bars to see if any employees have peanut allergies?

      I mean, Jeebus. That’s basically wishing anaphylactic shock on some employees. It’s not only insulting and tone-deaf, it’s a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  4. Somi*

    Employee Appreciation Week is kinda cringe tbh. I think giving away gift boxes of company merch is okay but come on, HR has to know most employees would feel more appreciated with a monetary bonus or a day off.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      It’s one of those things that is neutral or kind of nice when you’re actually being treated well, but insulting when you’re poorly paid or badly treated. If they actually, genuinely appreciated their employees they wouldn’t be cutting bonuses while making increased profits. And the company could have given away un-needed swag without out referencing employee appreciation week.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, absolutely. As it is, it just feels like they’re adding insult to injury here.

      2. CoveredInBees*

        Yeah. I worked at a place that tried to pass off FMLA leave as their own generosity. Our employee appreciation events were being forced to cram ourselves in the tiny break room (most people usually ate at their desks or outside the building) to eat our OWN food and get a lapel pin that no one wanted. Twice a year.

        Almost no one in the organization (with nearly 1,000 employees) wore clothes with lapels, especially those who had to wear a uniform and couldn’t wear those pins on them. Every time someone moved desks or started there, they could expect a drawer full of clunky nearly-identical pins that no one wanted.

        1. Bluesboy*

          Yes, it’s really annoying when companies try to pass off legally obligatory things as generosity.

          Where I work, your annual salary is divided into thirteen installments, not twelve (by law). You get one per month, and an extra one in December. An ex-boss would take the extra one’s payslip around the office in December and expect us to thank her for giving us a ‘Christmas bonus’. Err…no, that’s money directly from my salary, earned throughout the year. It’s MY money! But you had to give her gushing thank you’s or she would react badly and it just wasn’t worth the hassle…

      3. EPLawyer*

        Very much so. If the company were decent, the Payday candy bar would have been hilarious or maybe neutral. but because the company CUT BONUSES, it just came off as tone deaf.

      4. straws*

        Yeah this sounds like someone started out with “we should do an appreciation week! It worked out great for [company that treats their employees well]!” and didn’t bother to consider that hey – we DON’T treat our employees well.

        1. Truth-ish*

          Probably because it never occurred to them that they don’t treat their employees well!
          People stay for years, we didn’t lay anyone off, and when I, the CEO, directly ask the employees if they love working here they all say yes…we must be GREAT!

      5. KHB*

        “It’s one of those things that is neutral or kind of nice when you’re actually being treated well, but insulting when you’re poorly paid or badly treated.”

        I think the same could be said of any employee-appreciation effort, actually. The difference between underpaid and fairly paid (or overworked and fairly worked) is going to dwarf the magnitude of just about anything they give you.

        I remember one year my team was understaffed by 20% because senior management refused to let us fill a vacant position. So we were all running in circles scrambling to keep up with the work when the COO came around to give us all $1000 bonus checks “as a token of their appreciation” (and also because we had a giant year-end surplus from, you know, not hiring enough people to do all the work). $1000 is certainly not nothing – and in the nonprofit world, it’s kind of a lot – but it still felt like a slap in the face compared to all the extra work we were doing.

        If you want to appreciate your employees, pay them fairly and give them the resources they need to do their jobs well – or if for some reason that’s not possible, be transparent with them about why. All else is a distraction.

    2. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My workplace recently did a company swag gift. They ordered different styles, colours and sizes for people to try on and choose from before placing the order. It felt much better than receiving a generic one size fits all t-shirt.

      1. CorruptedbyCoffee*

        A few years ago, our company decided to get us a gift to celebrate employee appreciation week. It was a single container of silly putty. It had to be shared among all the people who worked there, so it needed to stay in the break room.

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          LOL – that actually sounds like a satire.

          I could see that as a Better Off Ted episode.

          1. dawbs*

            My job is at a…’gift shop’ type location. We sell toys and souveniers to field trips and families and the like. I focus on toys. Awesome, amazing toys plus educational toys, plus weird stuff. (and an undeniable pile of crappy toys that broke on the drive home).

            Pre-covid, we had a new putty display and it had a spot for a sample to be out. Fun! Except…ew.
            One of my coworkers decided the liquid glass (clear) putty sample would be cool to show off. ANd it was for the less than 1 week before it became liquid smoked glass because of the amount of hand-filth trapped in it. *shudder* (I mean, I still PLAYED with it, obviously. Because I am an adult working in a toy store. But it eventually got to be to much even for me and I threw the dang thing away)
            We still have that display but there is a permanently empty ‘sample’ well.

        2. meyer lemon*

          Okay, this one swings right around back into greatness. If I worked there, I would have made the silly putty a little break room throne.

      2. Anon100*

        Same at my company – we got to choose from a variety of types of jackets/coats/outerwear, and surprise surprise, they even included *women’s* sizes and styles! Considering that we’re a heavily male-dominated STEM field, I greatly appreciated them including women’s sizing, since I’m a petite woman.

        I acknowledge that I’m lucky in a way – my current employer isn’t always the best, but we did get a company swag gift and decent bonuses (4-figures) this year. I feel bad for LW1 and their coworkers – plus, what if someone was allergic to peanuts? It’s a joke that could go very wrong very fast.

      3. BadWolf*

        Our product did that a couple years ago — they ordered windbreakers, but they ordered sample sizes in both “unisex” and “ladies” cuts so we could try on sizes and fits and order what we wanted. Felt a lot better than “Here’s your choice of L or XL.” Was it a bit of a hassle for the person ordering? I’m sure it was. Did I appreciate the effort, sure did.

        1. LifeBeforeCorona*

          Our order coordinator was a very petite person so they understood the value of the right size and trying things on before ordering.

      4. Bree*

        As our holiday gift this year my org gave us really high-quality hoodies, tastefully branded, where we got to choose our size and colour. We’re all working remotely and every virtual meeting of more than six people definitely features at least two of us wearing those hoodies. We’re all basically living in them. Total sleeper hit.

    3. Suzy Q*

      I might inquire about this box by asking if it was misdirected and perhaps meant for an advertiser or vendor. Passive-aggressive? Yes. But that box is an insult.

    4. Bree*

      We got a $5 Starbucks gift card…and an extra day off. Don’t know why they bothered with the gift cards to be honest, but everyone was genuinely pretty pumped about the day off.

      I don’t know that this will be an every year thing – we work in the health sector and this was framed as recognition of how hard we’ve been pushing during the pandemic. But it was good, alongside a thoughtful note from the CEO.

      1. yala*

        Eh, a nice cup of coffee is a pleasant enough surprise, I guess. But if it hadn’t come with an extra day off that would’ve been insulting.

        1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

          Eh, a nice cup of coffee is a pleasant enough surprise, I guess. But if it hadn’t come with an extra day off that would’ve been insulting.

          Eh, a day off (that I either won’t get to take or that will generate more than 8 hours of work for me when I return) is a pleasant enough surprise, I guess. In theory. But if it hadn’t come with a cup of coffee, that would’ve been insulting.

      2. Librarian1*

        Yeah, the giftcard by itself would be meh (and honestly it still seems meh because it’s only $5), but days off are great. My employer gave us 2 or 3 extra days off last year for mental health days and we have another one coming up in about 2 months and I’m really excited about it.

      3. UKDancer*

        Maybe they liked the idea of you having coffee on your day off? I know this year one of the things I’ve missed about working from home during lockdown is a hazelnut latte from Starbucks as there’s not one near me. I guess it’s a nice gesture.

        I think it’s a lovely idea giving people the day off

        1. Bree*

          Yeah, not complaining about the gift card! There was just a whole process to claim it and they framed it as a “surprise” that was coming to our inboxes, so it seemed like unnecessary hype given the day off was the real star of the show. Plus we’re still only supposed to be leaving the house for essential reasons here, and a whole bunch of Starbucks locations recently closed. But still, a nice gesture!

      4. JxB1000*

        I work for the public sector where any kind of gift to employees is almost impossible. Even something like a retirement cake is funded by collections from those in the department. I also manage some conferences where speaker THANK YOU gifts are very difficult to justify.

        From both experiences: a $5 (or $10) Starbucks giftcard is one of the very few things one can purchase inexpensively that is fairly universal and comes across as a token of appreciation. Any other $5 gift card would be practically useless and pretty much an insult. No, it’s not much of a gift, but it’s basically treating someone to a cup of coffee. And yes, I know – depending what you order – it might not even cover a fancy coffee. I’m just providing my input on why they are so popular.

    5. AnonForThis*

      I work for a not-for-profit hospital. Normally we get a free lunch and some branded merch or something. It’s nice but nothing outrageous.

      I didn’t expect much this year, especially as at the start of the pandemic, all the upper level management (C-suite etc) took significant paycuts to help cut costs and retain staff. They’ve been extremely clear about things like lost revenue, expenses for cleaning/PPE, and so on.

      This year there was a free treat, and a very lovely email sent out with heartfelt thanks for how everyone worked above and beyond. And at the end of the email was the statement how a bonus check (a few hundred dollars) would be going out to all staff, even part-timers.

      The social media video thanking employees was the cherry on top. Warmed my heart.

    6. Chinook*

      I am always shocked at how badky it is done because it can be done well for a similair cost. I just spent 2 weeks ivering my mother’s store (both employees on non-covid medical leve) and we got an orde for 45 gift baskets for a local non-profit for their employees and volunteers. They gave us a budget per basket (they splurged at $75 but we coukdnhave gone as low as $20 and done something) and we put them together (it took 2 weeks, but we were short people). They supported a local business and didn’t patronize their people. You can’t tell me that this type of thing isn’t possible in the city if someone cared enough to look.

  5. New Mom*

    For #5, I’ve been curious about this too. It almost seems like a situation where it would be better to not say anything and then ask for forgiveness later if necessary?

      1. Artemesia*

        I know lots of people who spent a couple of months in Paris and continue working part of that time. I would be interested in someone legally knowledgeable opining about temporary work out of state which seems to me is different from moving residency out of state. Lots of people work on extended vacations without moving to those locations. I would not think you could move to another state without clearing it with the job, but temporary moves might not create legal issues.

        1. PollyQ*

          Yes, I don’t know whether there are legal issues. It’s just that if there do turn out to be some, ‘forgiveness’ might be harder to find.

        2. AcademiaNut*

          Internationally it can get tricky, depending on the visa requirements of the other country (eg, if you came into the country on a tourist visa, but are actually working).

          It’s also worth noting that just because people sometimes do it, it doesn’t mean that it’s legal, or sanctioned by they company. It might just mean that they haven’t gotten caught. So if you’re going the forgiveness rather than permission route, you have to do it with the full knowledge and acceptance that if you’re found out, you may be fired and/or end up in legal or immigration trouble, and possibly burn bridges with your former employer.

          1. WS*

            It can also be a problem if you’re taking (or accessing) confidential information from another country.

            1. kbrew*

              This. Man, I wish I didn’t work with super-confidential information, because I would totally be working from another country.

          2. Brad Fitt*

            It is my understanding (and what I’m able to find on state and federal employment law sites supports this) that any paid work done in another state needs to be reported as income earned in the state in which the work was done, regardless of your state of residence. The employer could notice if they ever have reason to check your IP, which they probably won’t, but it’s something to be aware of especially if you use SharePoint or other shared databases to do a majority of your work.

            (Personally, I’ve done freelance work out of state and out of country when I needed to do a few hours of work when I wasn’t at home and I think I legally should have filed taxes saying that I’d done that but it would have been high effort/low benefit/unlikely to be found out so I didn’t bother.)

            1. TWW*

              Surely there must be exceptions for business travelers? In various jobs, I’ve traveled all over the US and to several other countries manning trade shows and conducting training workshops. I’ve never been asked to provide the HR/payroll dept. a record, for instance, of how many days I worked in each state I visited.

              1. CDM*

                Nope. Over the past two years my spouse has had income taxes withheld in MA and GA for four days and two days of business meetings. Fortunately, most of their business travel is to FL, where it’s a non-issue. (no income tax) At some point (four or five states) the company offers assistance with filing state returns.

                I’m sure plenty of employers are either not aware that they are required to withhold in other states for business travel or betting that they won’t get caught.

                1. Nessun*

                  Agree with CDM. The example I’ve seen from my work with personal tax is hockey players – they are Canadian residents, travel to the US for games, and have to declare income/submit a tax return in every state they play a game. Makes for a huge stack of US returns come tax season (depending on how much ice time they get).

        3. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Malpractice insurance (for social workers, therapists, nurses, etc.) can often have restrictions against telework. If OP is in such a field, she should know and check before chancing it.

          I imagine there are other little caveats depending on industry – curious to know if others have them.

          1. HannahS*

            In medicine (in Canada, at least), you can work remotely, but both you and the patient need to physically be in the province in which you hold a license, unless it’s a special arrangement (like, being affiliated with a hospital outreach program that offers remote care to communities in a northern territory).

            1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

              Good point – I should have specified. Telework across state or country lines, not telework altogether. Mine is similiar – I need to be working from where I am registered and my clients need to be based in the area where I’m registered (although they can meet with me while traveling).

        4. Dilly*

          It varies a lot from state to state. And it’s not just an issue for the employer: individuals who work even one day in New York (say they fly in for a meeting) are supposed to file a non-resident return for NY. I think other states aren’t as strict I’m sure (and in the OP’s case Florida doesn’t have income tax so shouldn’t be an issue), but it’s not just the employer who should be concerned.

            1. Name (Required)*

              I guess it shouldn’t surprise me that is a rule New York has, but in a previous world where people flew all over (states, internationally) for site visits, work trips, or meetings, it seems like all of these short-term trips could never be tracked the way these government rules want them to be.

              I get that there may be issues if you relocate temporarily for weeks at a time, but I cannot imagine how anyone could be in complete compliance before this based on the site visits, meetings, etc. that used to be common for people to travel to (including day trips).

              1. baseballfan*

                I work for an accounting firm and we have to report our time, not only the hours and applicable clients it is charged to, but the location also, for exactly this reason. They need to know where people are working so they can comply with applicable tax law.

                1. Name (Required)*

                  Now I am more curious about this. I knew the long-term issues.

                  But now I can’t stop wondering about day trips and site visits.

                2. Jacob of Ruth*

                  @LQ I believe it is for the highly paid professional athletes that come into the state and play a game. Even one day would be a lot of salary.

                3. Hillary*

                  @Name (Required) It’s the difference between meeting and working – it makes more sense if you think about it in terms of what visa you would or wouldn’t need for international. As an American I can go to the Schengen area without a visa if I’m going for meetings or factory tours. But I would need a work visa if I was going there to run a department, even temporarily. Accounting firms like baseballfan’s are usually at the client’s site to perform audits or do other things that are clearly work.

                  How it happens depends on both the company’s setup/policies and the individual’s risk aversion. In practice states mostly let it slide for people outside the top 5% of earners (except NY and possibly CA).

                4. Name (Required)*

                  It doesn’t let me reply to @Hillary below for some reason, but yes, that explanation helps clarify above and could explain why I’ve never run into/across that issue.

                5. Name (Required)*

                  Oh now it was where I wanted it. I don’t understand this site’s commenting system sometimes. lol

            2. LQ*

              How would anyone know that you fraudulently filed tax returns? Audits.
              I mean you CAN lie to the government and commit fraud, but at some point you’re deciding that you’re going to chance it and commit tax fraud so yeah…I don’t think it’s a good idea to encourage fraud on this site.

            3. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Does the job require any remote access to IT systems? A VPN, maybe? Or a remote desktop session? If so, the employer can see where the employee is connecting from.

            4. MCMonkeybean*

              A lot of the time probably no one would know, but personally I don’t think that’s a great reason to commit tax fraud. And while most people would probably get away with it, you never know if you are going to end up being one of the ones who gets found out through an audit or some other reason (like one I saw mentioned below where someone was asked to come to the office and had to confess why they couldn’t).

          1. Kevin Sours*

            Is that actually enforced? California is the same way but it’s about as much enforced as the “use tax” on goods purchased online. Mostly it’s there for high paid entertainers of various stripes where it’s pretty obvious that they did the work and enough money to be worth checking up on. (It’s also to prevent people from living in NYC while maintaining a legal residence in Texas).

            Certainly when I had meetings in New York it never once crossed my mind to file it on my taxes.

            1. Disabled anon*

              A friend of mine lives in Nevada but occasionally sells her wares at craft shows and science fiction conventions in California. Collecting CA sales tax and paying it isn’t a problem, but apparently if you pass some limit of days worked in CA she would be liable for CA income tax on her entire income–not just the earnings at the shows here–because NV doesn’t have state income tax so CA calls dibs on “any income not taxed by another state.” I presume this is so big companies can’t just evade state income taxes by being headquartered in NV or other no-income-tax states but when you apply it to an artist it just seems petty and overreaching.

        5. LQ*

          It depends on the work and the company and the like.

          I work in government and you are not –by law– allowed to do any work on our system or for our program outside the US at all. (This law was set up to stop the government from outsourcing work overseas, some other government agencies may have similar laws for other reasons.) And this includes all the vendors and contractors too. I think people think that they’d know if this kind f law applied to them but I’m always surprised at people who don’t know. (And more strangely the union folks who are the ones who got the law in in the first place who don’t know and vehemently object to them being asked to follow this law.)

          There are also laws around reporting wages for tax purposes. Interestingly because these laws vary by state the conservative thing to do is just say no because you can’t keep up on tax law changes in all of the states you could possibly be required to report in. Becoming an expert in your tax law in one state, and becoming expert in tax law in 50 is a very different thing. So even if it’s ok to work for 2 weeks in a state, that doesn’t mean your employer has to let you, and it honestly doesn’t mean they should let you. Deciding that your company, especially if it’s a small company or a single state company needs to suddenly become experts on tax law in all the states where all the employees may want to at some point work is a big burden and everyone wants “fair” so NOPE is a pretty reasonable answer from employers on this.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        Yeah, when I requested a (permanent) move out of state a few months after covid hit, I checked with my HR rep before making the case to my bosses. I’m really glad I did, too, not only because I knew I was in the clear with legal/tax stuff, but also because my HR rep gave me a lot of helpful advice about how this kind of request had worked with other folks in the past, etc. I already had a good relationship with HR, though, so YMMV depending on how lovely and competent OP’s HR department is.

    1. turquoisecow*

      I work remotely and my husband (used to) travel for his job across country. I went with him a couple of times and worked from there. The first time I mentioned it to my boss, but since it wasn’t an issue I didn’t bother subsequently.

      However, I work part time, didn’t have any meetings to attend, and don’t need to have things done in a specific time range. So if my boss sent me a request at 9am Eastern and I didn’t get to it until 9am pacific (or a little later even) this was no issue. But if someone travels to another time zone and has a faster turnaround time or meetings to attend, it might be harder to manage.

      Also, this was only for a week, not a month like OP is doing. In that case I could see a manager being skeptical the employee would be as productive.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, time differences are worth considering. If a company is based locally and has a culture of scheduling quick chats in the next two hours, or having AM meetings, you’ll be using captial if you push back against that.

    2. Crowley*

      We’ve been told recently that in no circumstances are we allowed to take our laptops with us while going abroad, unless a business case is agreed for it by security beforehand. This could also be an issue (I’m in Europe, I feel like traveling between states is kind of equivalent?).

      1. Southern academic*

        Eh, that’ll vary by industry of course but typically bringing your laptop from one state to another wouldn’t be a security risk in the same way that taking it abroad would be. This is likely because individual states don’t have customs and border control from other states. Legal issues are likelier to be the more common and thornier concern.

          1. Southern Academic*

            I know that, having travelled abroad. I was trying to get at what Person from the Resume echoes below. Traveling between states in the US is a really different thing than traveling between actual countries in the EU, even if it *feels* the same in some respects.

        1. AnalystintheUK*

          In my experience this is mostly to do with risk of losing the laptop/laptop being stolen – as Ayanimea points out, the Schengen area means no border checks in most of Europe. It seems to come down to non-work related travel = more risk of loss

          1. Self Employed*

            Or the company’s insurance will pay for lost/stolen company laptops on company travel but not personal travel.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        No. Travelling between states is not equivalent of travelling between EU countries. US states have their own laws and regulations which can be quite different from each other, but it’s not a foreign country with diplomacy, immigration, statecraft, and spying on each other. Even if the EU has eased and hidden a lot of that away, it is still there in the background with countries negotiating agreements to make things easier to move among the EU countries.

    3. Hmm*

      You should be really careful and check, though. We got a stern email reminding people if they are out of the state for more than 2 weeks, it causes tax issues for the university. Also, some companies can track your location via software. I would recommend airing on the side of caution to be honest.

      1. Momma Bear*

        I agree. It’s one thing to work say in Virginia for an office located in DC (it’s kind of a blob of a Metro area) but it’s something else to work in VA for a company based in CA. I got laid off due to tax nexus issues like that several years ago. Working remote for a month needs to be discussed with the company first.

        1. Librarian1*

          @Momma Bear, right because DC, MD, and VA all have tax reciprocity agreements with each other, so you pay taxes in the state where you live. I’m sure other similar metro areas have these types of agreements (I’d be surprised if NY, CT, and NJ didn’t have that, for example), but you can’t just assume that. Plus states that aren’t next to each other probably don’t have reciprocity because there’s no need to.

      2. Quickbeam*

        I had a remote coworker secretly move to Hawaii while ceding her home in my state to family. Work only found out when the family member wasn’t home and mail was returned to the company. She had been hard to get a hold of directly and the time differences made it too unwieldly. She was fired.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      I work for the US government so it’s a bit different, but I cannot bring bring any government IT equipment into a foreign country – at least the computer. I think a government phone with email might be included, but I don’t have one so I don’t know that specifics. It’s very clear guidance.

      The telework guidance is also clear that I need to tell them where I will work from (the address) so I’m not supposed go to work from a coffee shop for change or work from a vacation without permission.

      The LW needs to decide what he wants to try to get away with and what he wants to ask about. The law is convoluted and confusing but specific and hasn’t changed to address all the telework options. If you work in a different state, you fall under that state’s laws for a period of time for taxes and your company might too (nexus). This applies to a vacation in your home country. Working from another country is a whole other can of worms with immigration, work visas and I wouldn’t recommend doing that with confirming it with your company.

    5. Rachel in NYC*

      I live and work in NY. And spent about 2 months in TN earlier this year (and am talking about doing it again before going back to the office.)

      My employer had no concerns. That said, my office has allowed an employee to permanently WFH from another state before. It didn’t work for our office but that had nothing to do with her being in another state.

    6. Librarian1*

      Yeah, my company has said that we can’t permanently move out of the general area we live in (where employees usually live in one of 5 different states, although most of us live in one of 3), but as far as I know, there’s no ban on temporarily relocating as long as our permanent address is still local. My manager and I have both spent significant amounts of time (I spent 5 weeks, she spent about 2 months I think) out of state visiting relatives and it wasn’t an issue.

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      Nah, if you go and work in a state we’re not registered to do business in for months and create a tax nexus for us that’s going to cost the finance department thousands of dollars to deal with, there’s not likely to be much forgiveness.

    8. Helen Knows the Owner*

      The situation has nothing to do with the comfort level of your boss/company, it’s all very much about tax implications. That being said, it’s only a month and while it’s most likely not legal ,the likelihood of you getting caught or in trouble is quite low. So if I was you, I would just do it, work the same hours and not say anything.

      I worked for a BigLaw firm that had people traveling between states to our NYC office all the time. I was not a billing employee and as far as I know, nonbillable employees never filed taxes in NY and I was never asked to report that I was working NYC when I was- which was a lot. It was definitely not legal but the firm didn’t seem to think it was an issue- mind you, there was also tons of paper trails of expensed flights and train tickets so to give some perspective about how the concern level probably varies from company to company.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Tax implications for law firms are worse, too, because it’s not just the company filing corporate taxes, it’s every single equity partner filing a tax return with the state. (It’s not a matter of the employees filing taxes in the state, it’s the company filing corporate taxes in the state for work performed there. Some jurisdictions also have tax reciprocity – DC/MD/VA all have this. I work in DC but pay taxes to my state of residence.) The way my former firm handled this is that there was a location box in the time entry system, and you had to enter the state from which you performed the work so they could report the revenue properly by state (or country, if you were abroad).

    9. MassMatt*

      This is very industry-specific. In finance, you need to be licensed in both your own state where you do business and the state where your customer resides. Trying to sneak around those rules (and in some cases, laws) would be a very big deal. But in most cases it doesn’t matter where you are so long as the work gets done.

    10. Dr Rat*

      Literally, when I log in to work for the day on a phone app, there is a box to check off to say if I am working in another state on that day. If I signed in that I was in my state but was actually in another state, I could be terminated immediately for cause. The whole “nexus” thing is very real.

      For example, I’m in California, and although I am licensed in every state, Cali is considered my PRIMARY license state, with the others as secondary. A few years ago, I helped out in another state for a month and apparently a lot had to be done on the back end of that to keep my company compliant for taxes, state licensing boards, etc. Also, as others have mentioned, the confidentiality of the work matters. We have had people fired for having work laptops in their cars stolen because we are required to keep any work laptops in our homes or physically with us (unless passing through airport security, etc.) If you’re working at Starbucks and you need to go to the bathroom, you’ve got to take that laptop with you. So – a lot of variation from industry to industry, and company to company. But in my company, you would not get forgiveness for this – you would get fired. And yes, we use a VPN, so the company could absolutely tell if we were in a different location.

  6. A Person*

    For #3 I don’t know your industry, but I would actually expect you to reach out before applying rather than after! Many companies I’ve worked for have referral programs so I’d want to be the one to put in the referral.

    1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      It might depend on the type of employment, and where the friend is in the hierarchy. At the not-for-profit where I worked, a word from a board member would be good, but anything coming from below a division head would have made our HR person laugh.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        That sounds like a very odd and dismissive HR person. Personal recommendations from good employees who know what’s required to succeed in a role are more commonly seen as a useful thing (not merely referrals, where they’re just passing someone’s application along, but actual recommendations where they can vouch for someone’s work).

        1. Forrest*

          How does this work with regard to cultural diversity and equality? This wouldn’t be entertained in the public sector in the UK because it’s seen as exactly the kind of thing that leads to culturally homogenous workplaces full of white men who recommended each other. I’m always quite surprised when I see it recommended here because I’d see it very much as part of a crony-ist way of working that is going to reward, “this young chap reminds me of me at my age!” thinking.

          1. mreasy*

            I agree that if not balanced against other factors, including the benefits of a diverse workforce, employee recommendations could contribute to homogeneity. But a good recruiting team/HR dept will keep that in mind.

          2. Lady Meyneth*

            That’s the thing, it only becomes an issue with companies that already are diversity nightmares and potentially full of bigots.

            For one thing, at good places, there should already be a diverse bunch of people. And since referrals are supposed to be mostly for ex-coworkers and such, for whose work you can vouch, you’d think (hope!) your employees have worked with people of different cultures/races/genders/social status before, and aren’t bigoted enough to think only those exactly like them are good workers.

            You’re right that it’s not perfect. And we’re still a long way from diversity in most places, so referring does become an issue. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing in itself, and it’s up to each company how much weight they put on it.

            1. Forrest*

              Hm– don’t think I share your optimism about this! I think the evidence is that a workplace doesn’t have to be full of obvious bigots to be perpetuating inequalities and structural oppression. It’s quite enough to have well-meaning people who aren’t actively combatting their own ingrained biases and prejudices.

              1. Observer*

                Up to a point.

                Part of what good HR should be doing with both referrals and official reference checking is to figure out what they actually hearing. Is this a matter of “this person reminds me of myself at that age” vs “I find this person’s work is excellent”. And also whether what they are hearing is code for “this person fit / did not fit my stereotypes” vs something more grounded in reality.

            2. OtterB*

              “at good places, there should already be a diverse bunch of people”

              Yes, and if I were job hunting I would certainly keep this in mind. But it says that if the company is not already diverse, there’s no point in them trying to improve, and that’s wrong.

              Agreed with mreasy above that it needs to be balanced with other considerations – you don’t want to hire only cronies of your existing staff, even if that existing staff is already diverse. But as a plus for someone who’s a strong candidate otherwise, it makes sense.

              It also highlights the importance of programs that help make connections for people from groups underrepresented in the workplace. Internships, mentoring, etc. – that is how a field can avoid having recommendations=homogeneity.

              1. Spearmint*

                I also think this is different for entry-level versus more senior positions. Relying on recommendations forestry level folks may just lead to hiring people with connections, as people new to their career won’t have a long track record and so you’re hiring based on potential. For more senior roles, though, all candidates will be experienced and should have networks. Doesn’t mean you should rely on recommendations alone even for senior positions, but it seems less problematic as part of the process of done right.

              2. Observer*

                You don’t want to hire only cronies of your existing staff, even if that existing staff is already diverse. But as a plus for someone who’s a strong candidate otherwise, it makes sense.

                This. It’s also worth finding out what negatives people might know about.

                It also highlights the importance of programs that help make connections for people from groups underrepresented in the workplace. Internships, mentoring, etc. – that is how a field can avoid having recommendations=homogeneity

                That’s a REALLY good point. These programs serve many purposes, but this certainly makes a lot of sense.

          3. twocents*

            I think it tends to get balanced out because no good company will hire on any one person’s recommendation. If Joe is not a good candidate on his own (or just sucks at interviewing), then it doesn’t matter if an internal employee has said that Joe is a good worker.

            I’d only see it mattering if there were two external candidates with similar qualifications and interviewed similarly, so the only thing putting one over the other is that Wakeen is somewhat of a known quantity, thanks to the internal voucher.

            1. Forrest*

              That’s kind of exactly the situation I’m thinking about, though. If you just have one situation where you have two good candidates and one just has the edge because they’re an insider or they’ve been vouched for or they’re known to someone in the organisation, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if it’s happening repeatedly and supported as part of the process, that’s exactly how it ends up as a cultural and structural problem.

              1. twocents*

                I might be biased because I work for such a large company, but the odds that someone I know well enough to risk vouching for their work is applying for a position where I know the hiring manager well enough that they’d care what I have to say are so minimal. It has literally never come up in my 10 years with the company.

              2. Observer*

                it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if it’s happening repeatedly and supported as part of the process, that’s exactly how it ends up as a cultural and structural problem.

                That’s far from being the universal case. And the idea that employers should ignore solid information is not wise either. Ultimately it also does nothing to really foster inclusion and diversity.

          4. Sandi*

            Depends on how you do the recommendations. In our STEM workplace there is a need for more women and minorities in senior management. When a recent spot opened up, I sent an email to both a senior minority and the person who is departing, and asked the minority manager to let the departing manager know if there are any good women or minority junior managers that would be good candidates so that they can be encouraged to apply. In theory any senior manager could make this recommendation, but at this time the minority manager is working with a lot of junior managers and is best placed to identify someone who is good but might not yet appreciate that they could be a senior manager. All candidates would be treated equally during the process, but in the initial search for options we want to encourage more diverse candidates to apply. And that is best done by having seniors encourage good minority juniors.

          5. Ace in the Hole*

            I’m in the public sector in the US. Official policy in most public employers is that hiring decisions must be based only on information gathered through the organization’s standard hiring process (application materials, reference checks, interviews, etc) for exactly the reasons you state.

            Unofficially, personal recommendations and reputation do carry weight and it’s not against the law to give or receive them. And while there is a serious danger of it leading to a homogeneous workplace, it can go both ways. I’m pretty sure these kind of recommendations have opened doors for me in a career that is generally not accessible to people of my gender (only 1% of workers in the field are women). People who might otherwise dismiss my candidacy because they are subconsciously biased against women are more likely to consider me seriously if someone they respect puts in a good word.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          It suggests to me a culture where employing someone is regarded as an act of patronage, like in the old machine politics days. People are hired on the basis of how much pull they can bring to the hiring process, not on how well they can do the job. No one below division head carries any pull, so their opinions are irrelevant.

          1. Spearmint*

            Hiring managers have such limited information about candidates, even in a well-structured search and interview process, that a recommendation from someone who knows an applicants work is really valuable.

          2. MassMatt*

            I can see your point, and there are certainly places where this patronage is rife. But at the same time, isn’t this what a network is for, and if someone knows you and your work well enough to recommend you, isn’t that useful info for the person hiring?

            There’s a medium between having an employer refuse any network input and only seeking to employ people related to Boss Tweed.

            1. Richard Hershberger*

              I’m not critiquing the use of recommendations. I am critiquing using recommendations only if the person giving the recommendation is senior enough. That tells me that the perceived value of the recommendation is not in assessing the candidate’s abilities.

        3. Bagpuss*

          Yes, I wouldn’t expect a board member to necessarily have a better understanding than a peer, and just as I would always ask our receptionists what they thought of a candidate who came for interview, I would be interested in a recommendation from someone relatively junior as while they might not be able to speak to the person’s knowledge / expertise thy can speak about what they were like to work with/for , and their technical knowledge and expertise are things you can look at in your recruiting and interviewing process.

          I am in the UK and we welcome referrals from staff members – we had one which didn’t work out too well (the staff member who had worked for this person in a previous job recommended them, and it turns out they are good at the job – their technical knowledge is excellent, but they are really bad at following directions and procedures, which is a problem. However, the other staff referrals we’ve had, where someone was taken on, have been very successful.
          There’s no bar on who can make a recommendation. We find it teds to be younger and more junior staff members, possibly because we tend to have fairly low turnover so they are more likely to have worked elsewhere recently and to know people who may be suitable

        4. Quickbeam*

          My large, august company welcomes recommendations and referrals. However they do expect and honest appraisal and if you refer a dud to them, you’ll never hear the end of it.

      2. MK*

        Your HR person is a fool. A board member might well be a lot less likely to be able to speak about the candidate’s suitability than someone who worked with them at the same level.

        That being said, of course someone might not be well positioned to recommend a candidate. Hiring at my organization happens at a very high level and I am too removed from the people who influence the decisions for my opinion to carry much weight, so I am not really able to help anyone that way.

      3. Smithy*

        In the nonprofits I’ve worked at, it’s actually been the other way around. A recommendation from a board member is almost seen like a recommendation from a donor – where it’s required to take the interview but no one wants to and really doesn’t want to hire the person.

        That being said, I do think questions about whether or not someone is able to put in a good worth keeping in mind. I once had someone call about a job opening on another team, and I just kept on having to say “that team and I actually don’t have a good working relationship,who knows what impact I’d have on your candidacy – but it might be bad.”

        I don’t think it hurts to ask, but I do think including soft language helps in case someone doesn’t want to for reasons that may or may not have anything to do with the individual asking.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Yes, at my previous employer I could earn around $2000 equivalent if my recommendation led to a hire lasting at least six months. If I actually wanted to recommend you, I’d far rather have done so before your application than after!

    3. Van Wilder*

      I was going to say the same thing. I would appreciate the chance to get the referral bonus.

  7. Artemesia*

    5. I know several young people who have moved home for a month or two just to have time with their folks during this time when we can’t travel. My oldest friend whose son has been living with his girlfriends parents during COVID in California spent a month with his girlfriend at his Mom’s house to have a chance to spend time with her; they both did their jobs from her place. It was a joy all around. We have a friend whose London based daughter and DC based daughter spent extended time in Chicago with them and another whose daughter who works in Florida did the same, all of them continuing their work. This is happening a lot right now and I would approach it assuming it is okay unless your company has a clear policy that it is a problem. When it is temporary, it might be different than if you were actually a resident of another state.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      The rules related to having an employee in another state and the creation of a nexus vary state by state, so I think asking before moving out of jurisdiction (unless your organization has a clear telework policy that allows it) would be helpful.

      My employer is DC-based with no other locations and, having never dealt with remote workers before, didn’t realize that some of the folks who were not firmly settled in the area had decided to go “home” for the pandemic. There was grace because we didn’t tell them specifically not to do it, but once we figured out it was happening, there was a scramble to figure out where everyone was and determine if any of them needed to be dealt with. People who were just visiting for a few weeks were no problem; people who were staying months and starting to bump up against the standard of legal residency created problems.

      I mean, bless him, my guy who went to the West Coast was getting up at the crack of dawn to work DC hours and we didn’t realize that he was in Oregon, but, once we did, we had a problem with payroll/finance because we’re not in business in Oregon.

      1. KaciHall*

        I think Oregon is one of the bad ones to have employees in, too, due to specific state rules on overtime that are didn’t than most states. I think, anyway, it’s been a long while since I dealt with that sort of HR thing.

        1. Ace in the Hole*

          Same with California. In CA, overtime is determined both by hours worked per week (over 40/week) AND hours worked per day (over 8/day, regardless of how many hours are worked the rest of the week), as well as some oddities like if you work seven days in the same work week day seven automatically counts as overtime. There are also stricter rules about breaks than a lot of states have.

    2. turquoisecow*

      My husband’s stepsister and her husband have both been working from home over the past year and also have been traveling. Feeling cramped in their NYC apartment, they took to the road and have spent weeks at a time in various AirBnBs, traveling down to Florida and staying in multiple locations over the course of a few months, and only now slowly making their way back north. She works for a university which definitely does not operate in multiple states and they are fine with her doing this, and he works for one of the large tech companies which I think has offices all over.

  8. HelloHello*

    LW 5: I’ve been remote for about four years now, and pre-pandemic semi-frequently would work from other states when visiting family. Unless I was going to be working on a different time zone or needed time off to travel, I never mentioned it to my employer and it never caused any issues. Obviously this might vary by employer, but I do think it’s a fairly common approach.

    1. allathian*

      Yeah. I think the takeout from this is that it’s better to be safe than sorry and to discuss things with the employer.

    2. Willis*

      I agree with this, but would add that pre-pandemic I never did any video calls, so no one would have any way to know where I was. Over the last year, I’ve mentioned to people when I would be working somewhere else beforehand cause they’d be able to tell on a Zoom anyway. For the couple people I manager, I don’t care where they’re working, but we’re a pretty small and laid back company. I could see other bosses getting annoyed by not being asked, especially if they’re the type that don’t like WFH to start with.

      1. Gan Ainm*

        Zoom backgrounds are an easy way around that if you don’t want questions. I use it all the time because the only place for me to work is a very central part of my house / living room / kitchen and I don’t want people to see my entire house or if it’s messy. It’s just easier to always have the background up.

    3. Remote Employer - Reg Poster*

      For our organization, working remotely from another state creates issues. It requires that we set up business entities, payroll options, tax, workers compensation, medical benefits, comply with local laws (like break periods, and overtime), etc… Working internationally creates more challenges like complying with work visas and privacy laws. We allow for short-term work away from a person’s home location, but not more than a month.

      I raise this because HR employees may have a responsibility to share this risk and create a policy. Many first-time remote employers may not have thought about this, or are less concerned with other location’s rules. These location considerations are our primary concern as an organization. Your employer may have these concerns too, and it isn’t arbitrary.

      1. blink14*

        Can you elaborate on why you need to do that? Is it industry specific, state specific, etc?

        I’ve been remote the past year, in another state from my office, but my permanent address as remained the same and is in the same state as my organization. Something I’m investigating for the future is potentially remaining 100% remote, but with the ability to work from multiple places.

        1. Sam*

          I mean, you’re basically committing tax fraud? Well, you and your company are collaborating to do so, but still.

          1. blink14*

            In this case, it has been due to the pandemic. Prior to Covid, I worked remote a few days a month, living in a state with regular commuters from 3 other states. There are millions of people doing this, so it’s a legitimate question that isn’t well explained anywhere. A lot of it is dependent on the state or industry.

            1. LQ*

              But the laws around paying taxes didn’t change due to the pandemic. Employers still need to report wages in the state in which the work is done. You can want the law to be different (I mean, it would likely be that then it would be out of the state the employer was hq in and then no employer would hq in CA because they have so much more protections for employees) but it’s still the law that employers have to report wages in the states that employees work.

              I’m kind of shocked at all the people who are like I don’t like that this law means I can’t do the thing I want to do so I’m going to ignore it.

              1. blink14*

                This is my point though – that it’s not “common” knowledge to most people. So this is helpful!

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              If your organization is in a location where they have workers in other, specific states, that’s easy to deal with. I work in DC, and most of our employees are in DC, Maryland, or Virginia. We’re set up as a business entity in all three jurisdictions and have all the bureaucracy set up so that our folks can work from home in those places.

              The pandemic has introduced locations outside of our geographic area in which we’re not set up to do business and having people work from those locations for months on end creates liability and tax issues. The law has not caught up with the current situation, and we can’t just ignore it, which means figuring out where people are, how long they’re staying, and if we need to establish a business relationship with the state. If it’s expensive/onerous, as some states are, and we’ve got one entry-level employee there, we’re not going to do that. If it’s a low-hassle state or we’ve got multiple people working there, we’re going to take care of the business end.

              1. blink14*

                Thank you! This helpful. My organization is global and is set up within multiple states within the US. And maybe that’s why I haven’t really heard about this through work, but this really isn’t something many people know a lot about either.

                1. NotAnotherManager!*

                  To be fair, a number of single-office or regional employers are encountering this for the first time as well and playing a little bit of catch-up. If you’ve always been an in-person business, you’ve not had to contemplate how to deal with people who suddenly live in a state 300 miles away until this past year.

                  Immediate, massive WFH is entirely new for our organization, and, while I think we made the turn better than most, the implications of Bob moving to Oregon was not on our roadmap/radar for something to check on until it actually happened.

                2. Hillary*

                  Your global org is probably set up for all 50 states already – the software that big orgs use is almost always set up with tax nexus for every state and Canadian province. Plus they’re more likely to have sales people living all over the place.

                  As someone mentioned above, the real challenge comes when you start running into residency rules. I live in a Midwestern state where a lot of snowbirds like to claim Florida or Texas residency to reduce their income taxes – you can bet they get audited to confirm their actual residency. There’s a in the news because Derek Chauvin has been charged with felony tax evasion for just that reason.

        2. Person from the Resume*

          It is how employment laws works in every state in the US. If you perform work in a state you are subject to that state’s tax laws.

          Are you filing taxes as a resident of “another state” or your permanent address? If you haven’t changed the state where you file your taxes for the period of time you are in “another state”, you are basically committing tax fraud. Your company needs to pay your state taxes withholding to “another state” for the period you into “another state.” They need to follow “another state’s” employment laws for you or they are breaking the law themselves.

          The law hasn’t caught up with the rapid increase in WFH and the ability to work from anywhere. People and companies are getting away with it, but they are not within tax, and employment regulations and laws.

          1. MassMatt*

            The problem is that most people assumed they were only going to be working from home for a few weeks, which became a couple months, and then finally it’s been a year and counting. This is a unique situation, basically unprecedented. Unemployment tax withholding has really not been on anyone’s list of priorities. Calling this tax fraud seems excessive.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              Depending on the state law, if you work a day in that state you should file. Companies should have HR that at least understands that if they do not know the specifics. And they should have scrambled to figure out if they could allow folks to work from another state and tell people that they needed to notify the company if that was happening.

              If you prefer tax screwup to tax fraud, fine. Ignorance of laws and regulations that your company should be aware of, though, doesn’t exempt you from following them.

              1. MassMatt*

                If you prefer to call people frauds when they were simply trying to continue working without, you know, dying, during an unprecedented epidemic, fine.

                Concern over which state is collecting unemployment taxes at a time like this seems like a grossly misplaced priority, akin to pulling over an ambulance for a broken tail light.

                1. Person from the Resume*

                  OMG, MassMatt, I don’t effing care what you do. But your company might care a lot if they wind up having to pay fines or change the way they operate because of where you worked without permission.

                  I am certainly not asking anyone to risk their lives to work during COVID, but most folks live in the same state that they work so working from home is not causing a tax implication.

                  Just be aware of the law and take the necessary actions to stay within it. It’s not like any of this is brand new law. Whoever does the accounting and pay for a company knows this info.

                2. A*

                  What? The laws haven’t changed – so regardless of whether you think it should be a top priority it is still necessary to avoid being liable. Employers can choose to ignore that, sure, but it doesn’t change the risk involved.

                  Pointing that FACT out is not akin to supporting employers expecting their employees to put their lives and wellness on the line (I can’t believe I just had to write that sentence).

          2. Librarian1*

            This isn’t entirely true, though. Many states have reciprocity agreements where you pay taxes in the state where you work, not where you live (and maybe vice versa). In the DC area, MD, VA, and DC have these agreements, so if you live in DC and work in VA, for example, you only pay DC income taxes.

          3. Loredena Frisealach*

            The rules vary a *lot* though and are definitely time based in many/most cases! I work as a consultant, and the last company I worked for sent us all over the US. Typically it was just for a few weeks at a time at most, and we continued to have our pay recorded as being in the state we resided. The problem was with long-term assignments. They’d start us out as above, and then when we reached a certain threshold (I don’t recall how many weeks) we’d be reclassified. This is especially fun when you end up filing taxes for three states! Plus of course that random pay period where Illinois had a credit (overpay) and Michigan a big payment (catch up) and they don’t have the same tax rate…

            In our case it was also complicated by the fact that only a few clients had us on-site for 5 days, it was more typical to fly in Monday morning and return Thursday night. Payroll definitely handled all of this on our behalf though, we didn’t have to know the rules.

        3. LQ*

          I can speak with confidence to unemployment taxes which are about the state the employee is doing the work. It’s not about your “permanent address” and it’s not about which industry. It’s if you are covered by unemployment insurance you need to be accurate with that. Or your employer does or they can get a pretty substantial fine for letting you do it. This would be discovered if you applied for unemployment in the state you did the work, unless you decided to also lie to the unemployment program about where you worked.

        4. Remote Employer - Reg Poster*

          Of course. It’s not necessarily industry specific. It can be state specific, county specific, and even city specific.

          Others have discussed the consequences to the employee, but there are consequences to the employer for not monitoring an employee’s location. The level of business activity that triggers doing business in a state, county, or city varies by location. It likely also varies by time. In many cases, employees working remotely from a state for one day do not trigger state, city, or county laws. Yet, a company with employees working in a new location may be required to by in-state taxes, and required to register to do business. Additionally, the company must monitor city, state, and county laws in those locations. There are two notable exceptions – Wisconsin and Michigan – which recently passed regulations stating that the state government was the purveyor of employment laws; however, cities, counties, and states often pass employment laws impacting operations. Those vary from required sick days, domestic violence leave, overtime requirements, minimum wage, ban the box rules (which do not apply to current employees), Colorado’s salary band job posting requirements (applies to sourcing talent and promotions), training requirements (sexual harassment, and others), etc . . .

          As companies have a remote workforce, they need to contemplate whether the organization wants to subject itself to laws in another state. We all know about California’s unique employment rules, particularly around overtime, and – recently – independent contractors. Monitoring that can be time-consuming, but worthwhile if a company wants to expand its access to qualified talent or increase employment retention.

      2. Vice Principal of HR*

        Yes, yes, yes…I have been the primary person in my company dealing with this and its an absolute nightmare. It’s one thing if someone was spending a couple of weeks somewhere else but our employees are permanently moving to states where we do not have physical presence. Because my company refuses to deal with this and put out a proactive statement, we’ve just been dealing with each move, nightmare by nightmare without thinking about how we will have to recall all of these people when we go back to the office. Letting people working remotely and change their permanent addresses can cause HUGE compliance issues that many companies are ignoring.

        1. Remote Employer - Reg Poster*

          Your company is frustrating, and terrible. Calling employees back to the office will be a nightmare. I am so sorry about your workload and situation here.

        2. Alexis Rose*

          At least your company is aware of it and has a person–you–tackling it. I am sorry it is such a nightmare for you though.

          I have talked to many people who seem totally, blissfully unaware that there could be any issues. They told me they were going to work from Other State and I asked if their company had a nexus there–blank looks. Our state has no income tax–I asked how they would feel about paying income tax to Other State, so basically receiving a lower take-home pay for the same work. More blank looks.

          There will be a reckoning with this, and companies that have started to tackle it already will not be the ones suffering from it.

  9. Bob*

    ” CEO is very vocal on blogs and media platforms about treating your employees well.”
    An anonymous response or glassdoor reviews have been known to happen ;)

    1. Medusa*

      Ugh. I wish I could do that, but even in my 600-person organization, I’m pretty sure they’d know it was me.

      1. Bob*

        You don’t give yourself away in details, you create a new login with a generic name and make a generic comment that applies to most if not all employees.

        If everyone got the PayDay candy and is underpaid and knows there was excellent profits then you will have anonymity. Admit to nothing, if you are ever asked (if its gossipy everyone will be asked and not just you) then say you don’t know anything which is what everyone else will also say.

        It also comes down to your ability to put on a poker face.

        1. Brad Fitt*

          I would be very tempted to find a blog the CEO had written about fairly compensating and recognizing employees (specifically, go looking for that topic on purpose) and leave a comment like “Wow, these are some really thoughtful ideas, and you’re right that employee recognition needs to be part of a good overall compensation strategy! Not like the last place I worked where they thought they could make up the pay gap by giving us a Payday candy bar! LOL”

          PS the Payday candy bar is not personally identifying no matter how clever whoever came up with it thought they were being: I also worked at a place where they handed out those candy bars but it was to celebrate raising our pay when the minimum wage went up. >_<

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      Maybe it’s just me, but the CEO being vocal on the internet about treating employees well would be a red flag to me, with a distinct air of protesting too much. This is in much the same way that I am skeptical of businesses that flaunt Christianity and/or patriotism. I reflexively wonder what they need to prove. Show, don’t tell.

      1. DyneinWalking*

        I wonder how specific the CEO is. It’s easy to just post about generic concepts like “work/life balance”, “fair pay” and such, but by themselves these don’t mean anything because they don’t have hard definitions attached.
        Time for life, not just work, sure – but how much time? Enough pay, sure – but how much is enough?
        It’s great (for people like the CEO) because you can throw around these buzzwords without committing to anything.

        Now, if you mention not just the concepts but your definitions of them as well, that is another matter:
        “We believe in paying our employees fairly, so we pay x% above market rate and do profit sharing at y% of the income” gives you the necessary data to tell for yourself if they are truly committed to fair pay or not.

      2. yala*

        Getting shades of early Pixar and all the tv spots about how Cool And Chill the place was to work, usually touted loudest by Lassester.

  10. Beth Jacobs*

    PayDay candy was marketed as a meal replacement during the Great Depression. The peanuts were supposed to make it more nutritious than other candy bars.
    So the least charitable interpretation is: We don’t pay you enough to afford actual meals but here’s some peanuts.
    I’m sure the company didn’t mean it, but the way you show true appreciation is pay, benefits and a good working environment. If a candy bar is the peak of your generosity all year, then yikes!

    1. Anon for this.*

      An ex got me hooked on PayDay bars (they are very common in his semi-rural area, but I’d never seen one where I live – occasionally see them now that I know to look for them, but they are sold at very few places here) and frankly it is one of my favorites. I did not know the history of it.

      Our employer gave us, as our employee appreciation day gift, an extra 10% employee discount on goods sold at their stores, with the usual restrictions applying, so we appear to be a notch below a candy bar on the employee appreciation gift scale. But I agree that a box of merch that would’ve otherwise been discarded and a single candy bar is not a great gift, especially if it’s replacing well-liked in-person activities.

    2. Spicy Tuna*

      I worked for an airline and after 9/11, we were working around the clock (I was in an office based position). We pushed super hard and created a top notch budget. Our boss had flown to HQ to present and he our team were given incredible accolades by the C-level execs. He was so excited and he called us all to tell us the good news. Then he said, “We will be having a special celebration lunch, so start thinking about where you want to go”. WHOHOO, great! Then he said, “But pick carefully because you guys have to pay for it”. We had literally just had our pay cut, concurrent with a gigantic increase in workload. We discussed amongst ourselves and told him that we would prefer time off. Nope, not gonna happen. He did arrange for us to have a picnic lunch at a park outside (bring your own food, of course). We all agreed to bring the saddest, most economical lunches, like canned tuna on crackers, and PB&J sandwiches.

        1. Spicy Tuna*

          I left that job shortly thereafter and worked for a few years at a different company. When I was ready to move on, I got a fantastic job that was an ENORMOUS upgrade in all aspects of work. I learned after I started that my new boss had interviewed my old boss (he of the picnic lunch) and took a pass on him.

      1. turquoisecow*

        At an old job, whenever we all busted ass on a big project against a deadline, staying late or whatnot, the boss would promise to buy us all lunch.

        He never did.

    3. yala*

      I didn’t know that, but I’ve definitely used them as such on days where I could only grab lunch out of a vending machine. They’re nowhere on my top candy bar list, but since it’s about 50% peanuts, I figured it would at least have protein (and the sugar rush of caramel)

  11. Elle by the sea*

    In my family the tradition is to buy snacks on payday. When I found out as an adult that the PayDay bar exists, I started buying one my pay day. But if your company doesn’t treat you well in terms of salary, it isn’t a joke in good taste.

  12. NearlyGrad*

    LW #4. I just got my grad job offer! I finish uni mid June and I asked not to start until September. I felt so awkward asking not to start in July but they were really understanding! They’ll have had the same experience and especially at the moment, the need to unwind is pretty well respected!

    Don’t overthink it. You deserve some time off to relax and your employer will want you to start not already on the verge of burnout!

    1. LW4*

      Thank you! I am really looking forward to being able to take a break. And congrats to you as well on your job offer!

  13. agnes*

    After reading so many letters to AAM about workplace issues, it’s no wonder people like remote work!

    1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      Definitely! Working remotely makes it easier to keep people who hinder us at arms length and let’s us actually do our jobs! The people who insist upon in-person interaction as a badge of honor are, frankly, ridiculous.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        One thing that never failed to blow my mind when reading updates throughout 2020 was how many of them boiled down to “Thanks to our team now working from home, the (insert insurmountable workplace problem) has now gone away on its own.” Like, wow, we really made each other’s lives hell just by being crammed into an office together for 8-10 hours every day.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          Not to mention, “since everyone at my employer is now WFH, my (chronic symptoms) are reduced/mitigated and the long-requested (accommodations) have all suddenly been met”.

          1. Third or Nothing!*

            Oh hey that’s me! I used to have to take 1 sick day every 5 weeks on average, but last year once I went remote I barely used any sick leave at all.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              At our office, we had some of us in two-person offices/three-wall cubes, and then something like 60% of the department had all been moved to a large open area that used to be a call center, “to promote collaboration”. In Jan-Feb of 2020, a mystery bug (that some suspect may have been early Covid) blew through the office. Don’t recall catching it myself, but it pretty much emptied the open area. Everyone got it, and everyone who did get it was out for a week, with a high fever and low energy, unable to work even from home. So much for collaboration.

              1. Third or Nothing!*

                Uggggggggggggggggh what is it with completely open floor plans? I have such a hard time concentrating with all that noise. As for catching bugs, I happen to have a fantastic immune system and almost never catch communicable diseases, but my chronic illness flares up on a very predictable basis. It’s always bad enough that I can’t work because it hurts to sit upright. That is not an issue when working from home, though! Surprise surprise, I’m more than able to work through a flare up if I can get comfy and have access to all my home remedies. I think I took about half the amount of days I’d usually take last year because I was able to continue working through the more easily manageable flares.

          2. Smithy*

            I was recently talking to my boss about this in regards to my ‘work hygiene’ – and while my industry was never going to offer a WFH stipend, investing in the ergonomic chair, key board, SAD lamp, air purifier, etc etc – my work space really does cater to my precise needs.

            In the future I do hope full time/majority remote staff will get WFH stipends, but spending the money on items that ultimately enhanced my own living space was a different investment consideration. Not to mention, as someone who works better with music – I now get to do so without wearing ear buds.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              I can have smelly or messy foods for lunch!!! Sounds like a minor thing, but I was investing a lot of time, energy, and thought into planning a week of office-friendly lunches, shopping for them every weekend, meal-prepping them every Sunday… No longer an issue.

              1. Smithy*

                I no longer have to specifically plan for lunches! I make my plans for food for the week, but then can really adjust day-of based around what I want to eat and when.

                In humanitarian response, a lot of effort/energy went into proving that if you provided those in need of humanitarian assistance with money instead of items (i.e. food, clothing, medicine, shelter, etc.), people were better able to obtain what they needed and also the programs were cheaper. Applying the same thing to work spaces seems like a no brainer for industries that can shift to a high number of staff being remote 75%+ of the time. The money spent on a certain sized office, office furniture, coffee, tissues etc. etc. could go into relatively modest signing bonuses + annual compensation that it’s hard to see employees not buying exactly what they want to create the most bespoke work environment that people want.

  14. James*

    LW #3: That’s basically how I got my current job. My wife worked for the company and put in a recommendation. I don’t think I ever actually put in an application, in fact.

    It helped in a few ways. Obviously having an insider on my side helped. And I knew the stuff they don’t tell you in the interviews (not that they hid anything, it’s just that interviews don’t–can’t–convey the whole company culture). The company–and especially the people I’d be working with–also had information about me that wouldn’t be available in interviews. They were able to ask my wife about me, and my wife had told stories during office chit-chat. Basically, both my coworkers and I were able to determine I’d be a good fit before I ever set foot in for the interview.

    A friend of a friend can’t provide as much of that, but any data is useful here, on both sides.

    Oh, and there’s sometimes money involved. My company offers a certain amount for referrals from employees. Not much–like $200 or somethin–but it’s a nice perk if you can get it. It also pretty clearly demonstrates that it’s acceptable. Large companies are insanely risk-averse when it comes to money and paying people!

    I’d say go for it, and good luck!

  15. Never Nicky*

    OP #1

    I’m in the UK, so wasn’t aware of the bar, but now that I know it has peanuts – triple yikes.

    It’s tone deaf, but also a liability in waiting.

    I’m allergic to peanuts, something which developed as an adult and is getting worse over time. An office full of people opening and eating these bars, even spread over the day, would leave me red faced and tingling, at best.

    1. Rusty Shackelford*

      That was my first thought. The concept is rude enough, but also, PEANUTS. If I were going to give everyone candy, I’d go with something nut-free, at least. But then, if I were giving candy in lieu of a bonus, I probably wouldn’t think of that.

      (Question… would just a plain classic Hershey’s chocolate bar be safe? Or do they carry a warning about not being manufactured in a nut-free facility?)

      1. Cat Tree*

        The “big 7” allergies in the US includes milk, so chocolate in general is risky. Of course, people can be allergic to anything and you’ll never find a food that works for everyone. But my general threshold is the 7 that are the most common. I *think* milk allergies tend to not be severe enough that exposure through air or touch would cause anaphylaxis so at least the person could safely throw it away.

        1. JustaTech*

          Back when we had a vending machine at work (since replaced with an “honor bar”) I pointed out that literally every single chocolate item in the machine also had either peanuts (M&Ms, Snickers) or almonds (Hershey’s with almonds). (Or wasn’t really chocolate, like Twix, which is a cookie.)

          We had several folks with peanut allergies working there at the time and the response was “they can’t eat chocolate anyway.”

          All our vending machine options were pretty questionable: at one point, as a joke, someone requested Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper, to the point that it was half of the options on the machine. Then he left, and they all just sat there while everything else ran out, for months until I was able to find out who ordered the soda for the machine.

        2. Third or Nothing!*

          It’s less common, but milk allergies totally can be that severe. I believe any allergy can, it’s just that some tend to be more intense than others for more people. I’m very lucky in that mine only result in severe GI distress and hormone imbalances.

          Also there are currently 8 allergens the FDA requires listed on food labels (the “top 8”): milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, and soy. Just thought you ought to know. No shade on your comment; allergy info and research always seems to be changing. There’s even a push in the allergy community to add sesame to the list since it’s become so common. So who knows, maybe in a few years there will be a Top 9.

          1. Loredena Frisealach*

            I wish they’d add corn! It’s a surprisingly common allergy, and the ingredient is present in so very many forms it can be very difficult to check for it.

            1. Self Employed*

              I know someone with a corn allergy and she has the same problem with labels. Apparently the Corn Industry Lobby has managed to “persuade” the FDA or whoever mandates allergy labeling that it’s not a sufficiently common allergy to bother including corn on the Top X Allergens (even though it probably is).

          2. Cat Tree*

            Thanks for the update. I think I was mentally combining fish and shellfish, but those really aren’t the same thing.

      2. Truth-ish*

        Andes Mints and Tooties Rolls are the two candies that were always safe for my friend’s son to eat. All of us kept a stay for when he was around so he never felt left out.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          As a person with several food allergies: thank you. Thank you so much. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been unable to eat anything at a party, employee appreciation event, or other social event. It may be a small thing for you (or maybe not – IDK how much trouble it is for you to acquire and keep these candies) but it really is huge to us.

        2. JustaTech*

          I love that Tootsie Rolls are most-allergens-free because it means I have an excuse to get a big bag every Halloween (to offer to kids who might have allergies). And then I have a big bag of my favorite candy!

  16. Millennial, destroyer of retail*

    I work in healthcare, which has no end of “XYZ role” appreciation days/weeks/months. Pre-covid these were usually celebrated by some breakroom treats, or branded swag, or small gift cards passed out by supervisors which are all fine and good.

    Recently I’ve seen a trend that I just cannot wrap my head around. Last month had a “resident physician appreciation day” and multiple people at different institutions were talking about the same thing. A piece of poster board with a message written on it, but with some words replaced by fun-sized candy bars. Think, “You’re our favorite *Smarties* who we appreciate from *Mars* to back. I hope you can *take 5* today to relax or read something that makes you *snickers.*” I’ve seen multiple of these things for different occasions and it just seems like a way to do something without really doing something. Keep in mind these were the *only* thing people got, it wasn’t like a part of a gift box or something.

    I can’t really articulate why the idea rubs me the wrong way, but it seems like such a chintzy cop out to give someone a third rate father’s day gift idea when they work 50-80 hours a week for your organization.

    1. WellRed*

      When I hear about stuff like this, I just think, “someone entry/low level in marketing/HR/whatever” has too much time on their hands.

      1. LQ*

        I think this is often what it is. Or someone higher up says “we should do something” and then it gets assigned to someone who “likes stuff like that” (usually a woman which is it’s own problematic thing) who then does something like this. I think that it should rarely be taken as an aggressive insult because it’s usually just one person who got assigned the task but isn’t quite sure what to do and so they look around on pintrest and find something and then do that thing. I don’t think that this is usually done by the CEO which would be strange anyway, but by some entry level person trying to do something nice and missing.

        There have been some really good thoughtful questions here about what to do and the answers are way more hard and complicated than someone who is an entry level person with a budget of a few hundred dollars can do. But that entry level person keeps getting assigned the task. I wish that there were more good advice for that person rather than just a PayDay bar is insulting. The CEO is never going to hear that and feel bad but that entry level person will and they don’t deserve that either.

    2. Hello from Academia*

      This is something I used to see the teachers do for each other at my school in the oughts. Kind of endearing in a primary school setting, it would seem strange to see it at an office or other job.

      1. yala*

        Yeah, that’s what the whole Payday thing reminded me of in the first place. Seeing it in a hospital context? Whuff.

        (Or honestly, any context where it comes from someone who signs your checks and isn’t a fellow coworker)

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I think though that, especially in the US, anything that k-12 teachers do for each other or their students is coming from their own pockets and not the school’s budget. Who knows, in some of these employee appreciation gifts people keep posting about, I can see a manager wanting to do Something for their people, but having it all come from their own almost empty pocket.

    3. Salt & Vinegar Chips*

      Some poor intern or low level employee got tasked with this job and no budget. I was the girl that got stuck doing something Similar once. I say girl because I was 16 and it was me and 2 others 16 year olds doing a high school internship and our boss was tasked with getting something for the workers to let them know the boss cared, but with a budget of $100 to appreciate 40 people. We made notes to each worker and bought cupcakes and candy to set out in the break room. They all hated it, the boss thought it was cheap (really though what were we going to get for $2.50 a person) and blamed us for spending the thank you money on cupcakes.

      1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        He wanted you to hand over 2.50 in cash? Or maybe a 2.50 gift card? I think you definitely made a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, and I’m sorry everyone was rude about it.

    4. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      So, like something you would get in a gift bag with the chocolate bars, but without the gift bag and the chocolate bars?

      1. Millennial, destroyer of retail*

        Oh the fun sized candy bars were tacked on the card. But yes. I personally blame Pinterest. But then again, I blame that site for a lot of things.

        1. yala*

          Nah, this was a thing WELL before Pintrest. Or the internet.

          It was at least full sized bars when i was a kid tho

    5. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Holy cow, and this is a gift to healthcare workers in a pandemic. Certainly they deserve a far better token of appreciation than a bunch of Halloween candy taped to a board.

      1. James*

        The funny thing is the Halloween candy would have been better without the board. Still not good, and still insulting, but at least they’d have the candy!

  17. Bookworm*

    LW3: Been there, gone through that. Some people are terrible at this (I’ve had people say that they are happy to help and tell me they don’t know anyone in X company or industry or no replies like yours) so I felt your letter a lot.

  18. Blisskrieg*

    #3–You mention you sent a “low key” email and didn’t get a response. It sounds like you did not follow up. What you were asking is such a normal thing to do, and given your 8-year acquaintenceship with the person, I’m wondering if they didn’t get the email? that was my first thought. This is not a random person that you’ve met once and were badgering on Linkedin–this is someone with whom you have quite a history. If I received a request like that, in most instances I’d be thrilled to help.

    1. elizelizeliz*

      Or maybe they did what i would be likely to do, which is read the email and mean to go back to it and respond to say “Totally, will do!,” but then forget to either return to the email or pass it on at work. I am someone who really appreciates a follow-up email, especially to non-work messages, because sometimes things slip through the cracks but i want to be helpful!

    2. Blue*

      Or they got it and just didn’t retain it. Especially in COVID-times, my task management and short-term recall is completely shot. If I get a request and don’t write it down on my one notepad where I write Things down, there is a maybe 30 percent chance that it’s happening; if I get an email like this from a friendly acquaintance, I may not rush over to the notepad, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to help! It just means my brain is more broken than usual right now and I’d welcome a follow up.

    3. Allonge*

      There are quite a few reasons why somebody would not be able to do as asked, some of them benign (we don’t do recommendations at this company) some quite embarrassing to explain (hiring manager hates my guts / you don’t have a chance).

      A fair number of people would just not respond instead of going into details – because they don’t have the time, they are conflct avoidant, they forgot in 5 minutes etc.

    4. Artemesia*

      If you asks a favor like this and don’t get a response, ‘following up’ sounds like nagging or harassing if the person is not positioned to help or wishes to help.

      1. Sugaree*

        That’s why I ask, then apply, then let them know I applied. ;) It builds in a legit follow up step for me, in case they have forgotten, etc.

    5. CCSF*

      “I’m wondering if they didn’t get the email?”

      This is what I was thinking as well. I send the emails with read receipts or (more recently) just used Facebook Messenger because it will show you when they’ve opened the message. FB may not be “professional” but for folks who have moved jobs or may not use the same email address I had from 8 years ago, it worked like a charm.

  19. Madeleine Matilda*

    #5 – I’m on the side of letting your boss know if he is reasonable and flexible. A reasonable boss won’t care unless it somehow creates a liability for your employer. Twice during the pandemic one of the people I supervise has asked to spend 1-2 months working in another state due to pressing family needs. He asked me if it would be OK, my boss and I said yes. I have another person I supervise who has been taking time off periodically to help care for her parent in another state. I have told her that if she would prefer to work even part-time while with her parent that we could make it work. I suggested this not to keep her working, but so she could save her leave.

  20. blink14*

    OP #5 – I’ve also been fully remote since last March, I work for a university. The university is planning to be open as normal in the fall – many students are back on campus now – but the city our main campus is in still has heavy office capacity restrictions.

    For a variety of reasons, I have lived most of the past year in another state with my family, and have been working remotely the entire time. My boss and their boss are aware of this, but we’ve never had to report our location or anything like that, so no one is tracking this officially. And am definitely not the only one, there are people who are permanently relocated to another state, staying long term on the opposite coast, bouncing from place to place. I think as fall draws closer, obviously these scenarios will dwindle, but even my job I’m being told will likely be remote at least 1-2 days a week once everyone is back.

    The best thing you can do is remain consistent, no matter where you are. Keep to your normal hours and routines as best as possible, so that there is a smooth transition no matter where you are working. Depending on your industry, it’s going to be a bigger deal for some, lesser for others. In the case of academia, it doesn’t seem to matter, but we’re not selling a product, I’m not involved in anything like legal counsel or major financial transactions, so a lot of my work really can be done from anywhere.

  21. NewYork*

    I am a CPA. A lot of people are responding to LW5 with what they think is reasonable. Tax enforcement does not work that way. As AAM said, employers have legitimate concerns about this. Some employers have given employees a list of what states they can relocate to (presumably where they are already filing).

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Thank you for weighing in! This is exactly what our finance folks told us, and we did get a list of acceptable states for the reason you mention – we already have a business relationship with that state. There are real ramifications for having someone working full-time from another jurisdiction, even if they are not a “legal resident” of the state. It doesn’t matter if someone thinks it’s reasonable or that it should/shouldn’t work that way, that’s what the law is, and we’re not willing to pay penalties so someone can stealth work in Arkansas.

    2. Kimmy Schmidt*

      Do you have any recommendations on where to find this information? I’ve seen so many articles like “beware, you might have to pay extra taxes if you worked in a different state”, but I don’t know how to find the specifics of what each state allows.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        If you google “paying taxes in two states”, there is some base information. You’ll get something more specific if you search for the states you’re interested in – typically, the state’s department of taxation/revenue website will provide additional info. A number of adjacent states have reciprocity agreements, which means that you only have to pay taxes in your state of residence, too.

    3. LilyP*

      I’m curious, do you know what is the actual technical legal time minimum attached to that? If you work from another state, say, for one single day, does that trigger tax liability in that state? For a week? What about interstate business travel for meetings or conferences or whatnot, is there a specific exception for those?

      1. fhqwhgads*

        The answer varies by state. So what’s true for Massachusetts may not be for, say, Arizona.

      2. higheredrefugee*

        That varies by state. Creating the nexus of additional employee relations, contract, and torts obligations and liabilities is also a huge concern for employers, beyond tax and economic development implications.

    4. JessicaTate*

      Exactly. This is also a reason that I keep thinking small-business-minded legislators could stand to think about dealing with this patchwork. I’ve heard a lot of opining about how companies can now hire and have staff working from anywhere, but this complicated taxation and employment law system is a major barrier to that fantasy. It’s all well and good for big corps with a nexus in every state. But it’s a bigger headache for small and medium-sized companies the more their team is spread out.

      Logistically, we would have no problem with a fully remote team, hiring the best talent wherever they may be located (and opening up opportunities to more job-seekers). But the state laws and taxes makes that far less realistic. Our powers-that-be would totally ask our CPA about how much of a headache it will be to deal with having an employee in State X before we’d consider that hire.

    5. Loredena Frisealach*

      Yes, it’s messy, and the LW should definitely ask! I’m preparing to relocate to another state – initially I’ll probably snowbird it, but at some point it will be a permanent switch, so I definitely pinged my manager! Fortunately though we do not have an office there we do have one permanent employee so it should be fine (and we use paychex for payroll which minimizes the impact on our internal payroll team) but I knew enough to ask, not everyone does!

  22. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*


    “when I sent him a low-key email asking if he might be able to put in a good word, he never replied. Was it so highly inappropriate? I’m very embarrassed if so, but I can’t tell if this silence was an isolated incident.”

    It wasn’t inappropriate at all, but there are lots of reasons why he might not have been in a position to recommend you.

    Off the top of my head,

    – He doesn’t have the political capital or standing to recommend someone
    – He’s not happy there
    – He has a bad working relationship with that manager or team
    – He couldn’t figure out who the hiring manager was
    – He found out the position had been filled
    He wasn’t sure whether it would be a good fit for you
    – It was too junior / senior for you
    – He already recommended someone else
    – He planned to apply himself

    Of course, he should have responded to you to let you know.

    1. James*

      To add to your list:

      –He could also be busy, and the email simply got buried. Not ideal, but it happens.
      –He could have done it and not said anything.

    2. Cat Tree*

      Or it’s just a huge company and he doesn’t actually know the hiring manager. I work at a place with 7,000 employees on site (pre-covid). People constantly ask me if I know their friend who also works there. I stopped trying to explain and now just politely say I don’t know that person but will keep a look out.

      1. Weekend Please*

        That’s what I thought. I have recommended people to my boss before, but it’s a big company. If someone was applying to another department my recommendation would be meaningless.

      2. Smithy*

        I do think that lack of capital is just a huge reason why people can’t help and also aren’t necessarily eager to follow up. Essentially the person is only left with the opportunity to give you the thumbs up and say “best of luck!”

        I do think that reaching out before an application is submitted does provide the person to give more general input on the organization and any advice on how to put together the strongest application possible. Those are more concrete points a person can give genuine advice on and then a more graceful way to either offer putting in a good word, or side stepping that.

    3. cncx*

      i’m definitely the type to do the reccomendation then forget to tell the person i did it

      but also too, sometimes politics in offices are tricky, he may not have the political standing or capital to recommend someone but he also may not want to risk the capital he has if he tells someone things like, he’s unhappy, it’s a bad team and so on, either.

      so ITA with you he should have responded but like, i can think of legit reasons why not that aren’t all bad

  23. AndersonDarling*

    #3 Are you assuming that your contact has more influence than they really do? Would your request require them to send a chain of emails to find out which recruiter is handling the application and then track down the hiring manager, and then learn about the role so they know how to pitch you to the hiring manager?
    I’ve worked in little companies where this kind of request would be easy to fulfill because I knew the role and the hiring manager, and I’ve also been harassed by lovely friends who assumed that because I worked at a company that I would automatically know about a role, who to contact, and how to sell them. When you’re a grunt worker at a company of 5,000, there isn’t anything you can do with this type of request.
    Also…the contact may know the job you are applying for is terrible and they don’t have a way to communicate it. So ignoring your request is the best way to save you.

    1. Weekend Please*

      I think that there are a lot of possible scenarios where ignoring the email isn’t due to being offended by being asked. It could be that it was sent to an old account he doesn’t check often, the job sucks, he has confidential information that shows OP won’t get hired, while he liked OP he doesn’t feel that this job would be the right fit, ect. Or he could have recommended him but forgot to respond to the email.

  24. MsClaw*

    LW2 — I an so sorry you’re dealing with this. It’s definitely worth reporting, though probably unlikely to go anywhere. I would say, in the future, do not share any medical details with this person. Like, when you go for your second dose just say you have a medical appointment or even just ‘an appointment’. Unless your workplace is giving you a specific charge code for covid-related stuff so she needs to know the specific reason you’re out, it’s better to just avoid this subject with this particular lunatic.

    1. OP2*

      Thank you! I was unsure if it was something even worth mentioning to anyone else. It’s funny you mentioned not sharing medical details/appointments. I had debated even telling her about the first vaccine, but I wanted to convey that it was a medical appointment I definitely couldn’t miss…lesson learned.

      1. Self Employed*

        With 99.9% of the people I know, “I can’t miss my COVID shot” would be an excellent reason to clear the decks for you to take off the time. But I know a couple of antivaxxers and yeah, they’d want to bend your ear about how bad vaccines are etc. (and it would all be disinformation they’ve believed).

  25. WantonSeedStitch*

    LW#3, I have had folks I know apply for jobs in my workplace before. What I find they usually ask me is if I know anyone in the department where they’re applying, and if I can give them any advice on applying. If I do, I let them know. If I do know anyone there, I tend to give them a heads-up that my friend is applying, and ask them to keep an eye out for their resume. I always add anything I can think of that might be helpful for the person, too, whether that’s “they have been working in this field for a long time and have a great skillset in X,” or just something about their personality and how I feel like they’d be a good fit in the office environment. I don’t try to hype stuff I don’t know, but if I can think of something nice to say, I will.

  26. Person from the Resume*

    LW#4: Yes. You can. That is incredibly reasonable. You are probably in a bit of a different boat since you are already an employee and moving to a new job, but IDK if you CO-OP has a contracted end date. Your CO-OP might could end a week or two before graduation too. That is something that would make sense anytime but especially if you don’t get that job and are trying to finish final exams and projects, pack up and move, and celebrate your graduation.

    Also a different boat because you’re a new graduate interviewing and new graduates have a definite can’t start [before graduation date].

    It is reasonable for a company to expect to an new hire to take 2 weeks or longer from accepting the job until starting because of the US standard of “two week notice.” One month is within reason. Given that your job and role would be changing it’s likely that they can handle the gap unless there’s something specific during that time period.

    Some companies (particularly large ones) may prefer to start new employees at the beginning of the pay period to onboard all the new people at once and that it’s easier for them not to add new employees in the middle of a pay period.

    Long story, short: One month is reasonable. Asking for it is fine and should have no repercussions for you. They’re unlikely to say no, but they do you can choose to accept or not.

  27. SummerBee*

    LW #5, we just had a similar situation but with working from another country, which it turns out is strictly prohibited for us, but in talking about it I learned that working from another state might not be covered under your company’s Workers Comp insurance. If they don’t carry the right kind of coverage, it could cause all sorts of liability issues. Since it depends on your specific employer and their current coverage, it’s best to check with them.

  28. Teacher (Lack of) Appreciation*

    Oh, LW#1…I wanted to ask if you were in K12 education because this sounds an awful lot like our “Teacher Appreciation Week” which ironically (or perhaps not?) always falls during state mandated testing.
    I work in a Title I school with no union and no PTA. So, we are often forced to “appreciate ourselves” as I like to say. Admin will ask all of us who have clubs/organizations to “do something.” This something is often us spending club money to go buy some awful trinket like a “100 Million” bar and slapping it on cardstock with some trite message.
    Admin will open the purse to buy a terrible lunch (think subway sandwiches, but cut into bite size pieces) as their day to “treat” the teachers.
    I honestly wish they would just do nothing. It’s insulting at this point.

    Oddly, we always have tons of money to buy frivolities like fancy nameplates for the office staff, decorations for the foyer no one uses at the moment, but never any money to do something meaningful.

    1. Cheluzal*

      They mentioned Christmas bonus. I’ve never known any school system to give a bonus at Christmas. I’ve never gotten a bonus and we always get little stuff like candy so I guess I just don’t see this as a big deal, especially to escalate to HR!

  29. Essess*

    For letter #3, you might want to reach out to someone you know in the company BEFORE you submit your resume. Some companies give good bonuses to an employee if they refer someone to apply. So you could reach out to your contact and tell them that you are planning to apply at their company and ask them if their company offers them referral bonuses and if so would they like you to use them for the referral so they can get the benefit. This gives them an even bigger incentive to assist you and be a reference. My company gives a $2000-$5000 bonus for a referral if they hire the person so you better believe I would be thrilled to be contacted by someone I knew if they wanted to apply using me as a reference.

  30. ATX*

    #5 – I would be inclined to not say anything! If they happen to ask – (for example, if you have a video call and you’re not in your usual location) I would just say “I’m visiting family.”

    I’ve been wanting to do this throughout the pandemic but my husband and I don’t feel comfortable flying yet. I’m currently one week remote and one week in the office. Would be amazing to spend a week or so working in Costa Rica, with the view of the ocean, sloths, monkeys, and toucans :)

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      As Alison noted, a week isn’t likely to create an issue. It’s when people are relocating to different states for extended periods of time that cause business/tax problems. If I find out someone’s lied to me, though, that creates a trust issue and is a different problem.

    2. It's me*

      The only reason this is not a good idea is for tax purposes. If you are working enough in a different state, you can create nexus for your company and they become liable for sales tax, use tax, income tax, etc. if they are not already filing those taxes in that state where you are working. Of course each state has different rules but a lot of time payroll in a state will create that nexus. Unfortunately as a tax person myself I have run into issues where we should have been filing in a state but didn’t know and then have to pay back taxes and penalties, interest, etc.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Woah! I’d be flexible about working in another state for a week or so. I would not work in a foreign country. That’s a larger tax/legal nightmare which brings the necessity for work VISAs into it.

      1. JustaTech*

        I had a friend who went to Ireland for work for a couple of months, and the restrictions on his visa were kind of intense. Like, he could train and supervise and take meetings, but he could not write a single line of code.

        My spouse’s company is based out of California (but he lives and works in another state). If he’s in CA for work for more than I think 3 or 4 days (travel excluded) then he has to pay CA tax on the income he earns in that time. I think 2020 will be the only year he doesn’t hit the minimum.

        Depending on the state you’re traveling to, and where your company has a business presence, the rules are different, and might also vary depending on what you’re doing (meetings and training *may* be different than doing your regular work duties).

    4. Dr Rat*

      I posted above, but at my company, literally working even one day out of state without notifying the company that you are doing so creates huge problems for the company and is grounds for immediate termination for cause. And we use a VPN, so yes, this would get caught. So much depends on your industry, any licenses you have, etc., on top of the whole “nexus” issues for taxes. So “if they happen to ask” – I would lose my job. Not worth it!

  31. Allonge*

    Hi LW1, so – I think that you may be at BEC level with this company, from your reaction to the ‘present’. For me, the lesson would be to try and find another job instead of I need to talk to HR.

    If the gift is a joke, it’s certainly tasteless, but anyone who is in a reasonable place can just shrug and throw it away if it annoys them. I don’t think you reacted wrong, or should ahve appreciated it more or anything lke that, it just seems to be a sign of your general dissatisfaction there.

    I hope you manage to find a better job!

    1. Artemesia*

      This. If the bonuses had gone out then people would have seen this as a minor day brightener. That it is essentially substituting for the bonus makes is annoying. When you get to this point always a good idea to up the job search and see if there is anything better out there.

    2. Person from the Resume*

      Absolutely this. The employee appreciation gift was tone deaf, but your big problem is We had a great year even with the pandemic (increasing size and profit, saving on office space and employee events), but they still cut our already unimpressive annual bonuses in December. Our benefits are below average.

      You should at least be pressing for an explanation why your already small bonus was cut even though your company made more this year. WTH??? And the fact that your benefits are below average when you company is making increased profits.

    3. PayDay*

      #1 here! Thanks for your reply. I had to look up the term “BEC” and I’m a big fan already.

      I’ll admit that I’m coming in hot. It’s not solely money; I feel like company policies don’t demonstrate that they care about employees. For example, I had several family members have near-death COVID experiences, severe enough that I checked our bereavement leave policies. If any of them passed, I would have to request permission for unpaid leave and present proof from a funeral home. (The company gives two days leave for “immediate family” only.) Thank goodness they survived, but it still weighed on me.

      In fairness, policies are still above the legal minimum. I recognize that the gift box was meant in good will and still cost the company. It’s hard to argue that “above the minimum” does not necessarily equal “good.”

      1. Allonge*

        Hi, so unpaid bereavement leave sucks (altough I understand from various posts here that two days is not excessively low in the US – it’s not meant to cover the grieving period, more the logistics that need to be done).

        But this is actually a good example for something that is worth mentioning to HR – especially these days it would mean a lot for a lot of people to have paid bereavement leave or a few more days if it’s unpaid maybe? That could make a real difference. As opposed to ‘you gave us the wrong type of candy’. Which, I get that is not your point but it would be heard like that by a lot of people.

        I am so glad to hear your family members got better!

    4. boop the first*

      I also suspect that this kind of thing would go over better if they were just given without fanfare or warning, like a surprise box of (well, junk) just showed up at the door one day.

      It’s when it comes with a huge pat on their own back and a quirky title (employee appreciation WEEK) that you start to question its sincerity. I had a workplace that gave us a pizza party to tell us that we all got fifteen cent raises, expecting whoops and hollers. What it really does is confuse people and make the whole thing feel like a grift.

    5. MCMonkeybean*

      Highly disagree–“BEC” is when perfectly reasonable things bother you. This is not a reasonable thing for the company to have done. Giving a PayDay bar after cutting bonuses is objectively insulting, and announcing a gift that turns out to be likely unwanted branded junk that happened to be lying around is also pretty galling.

  32. NewYork*

    ATX — I cannot disagree more with lying to an employer. If they do not ask, you are not obliged to answer, but if people answer you should be honest.

  33. Not Me*

    Lots of comments on here about ignoring the law just because it’s annoying. I’m a little surprised that’s being accepted as an option. Lying to your employer and committing tax fraud could both be very costly choices.

    1. LQ*

      Very strong agree. Individuals and companies can get in trouble for this. And your company would be fully in the right for firing you for refusing to comply with their rules so that they can follow labor, employment, and tax laws.

      Let’s lie, commit tax fraud, and make sure that our employer does too is a weird stance from the commentariat here.

    2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      Someone I know had to fire a team member who changed his remote location without notifying the employer and suddenly exposed them, unwittingly, to complicated legal consequences.

      It came to light when the the employee was asked to come into the office at short notice, and couldn’t get a flight in time, so had to confess.

      1. TiffIf*

        I was involved in one interview a few months ago where the candidate had moved from MA to UT without informing his employer and his employer was starting their return to office plan so he needed to get a new job. All sorts of alarm bells went off in my head at that.

    3. Alexis Rose*

      Very much agree!

      Not only is it illegal and unethical to lie and evade taxes, I have seen this kind of thing–small noncompliance with annoying laws–snowball into larger ethical issues because it fuels of a culture of noncompliance and duplicity.

      A Former Boss played very fast and loose with this kind of thing, and it turned into classifying employees as contractors to save money, paying well below minimum wage, lying to prospective employees about their workload and hours, and falsifying results when we couldn’t meet our contractual obligations to customers. No, not everyone will let things snowball like this, but a culture of ignoring the law for personal gain has consequences.

      New Boss who took care to meet all legal obligations was such a breath of fresh air.

      1. LQ*

        Yes! People seem to be saying that it’s ok to break this law because the employee wants to break this law so the company should let them. But that’s not how this works and you don’t want a company who is like “well it’s totally fine to let employees break the law when they WANT to” this is why even if you agree to work unpaid overtime if you are hourly nonexempt you can’t. And you can’t waive your right to unemployment. And you can’t waive lots of your own rights around other things too. Because then you create a situation where the employer just tells you to do that because they are your employer.

        It’s not ok to break the law because it’s convenient for you right now and seriously why are we having to say that that’s not ok.

        1. Alexis Rose*

          Yes. These laws do actually exist for a reason. This is not a case of like, civil disobedience to an unfair system or something. Those cases may exist but most of the time when the I see the law broken at work it is a combination of ignorance and personal gain.

    4. TiffIf*

      Yup–I’m quite surprised by how much “I/a friend/a relative has been working from a different state for the past x months/year and its all fine!” is just being accepted at face value. Just because you/they haven’t been caught and there haven’t been consequences yet, doesn’t mean everything is fine. Even if you don’t get caught you are still creating a liability to your company. And possibly committing tax fraud, and shooting yourself in the foot if you had to file for workers comp or unemployment.

      About 6 months ago my company sent around an email saying basically if you’ve moved while working remotely and you aren’t in one of these listed states where we have a nexus, you need to contact HR ASAP.

  34. Catalyst*

    LW1 – Payday bar aside, as I do agree that that is a tasteless joke and ignoring the smaller bonuses – the company swag may have been an attempt to provide employees with something without it being taxable (to you). My company discussed this at one point because they were giving out cash to people to go get something for themselves in the early days of Covid but it had to be taxed based on the Canadian tax laws. A way around that is to give the same thing to everyone that isn’t considered cash (gift cards are considered cash). Luckily they took the advice of the people who said it wouldn’t go over well and people would prefer the taxed cash, but I did understand their reasoning for thinking about sending company swag. Just a thought.

  35. Jessica Fletcher*

    Pre-covid, my employer used to have dessert trucks (ice cream, crepes) onsite for Employee Appreciation Day. It was great. Everyone would go outside, have a nice break to chat, have a delicious dessert. Everyone loved it.

    This year, they apparently gave department heads a choice as to whether their teams would get a mailed gift. My department head said no. Unbeknownst to us, we weren’t going to receive anything at all. Then, another dept we work closely with announced their gift bags at a joint meeting. So there was a mad scramble to get *something* for those of us who knew about the gift bags, were originally excluded, but now had heard about them.

    My last minute gift bag included: a branded fleece headband (it is too warm to wear this), 2 lollipops, and 2 Hersheys chocolates (the tiny size).

    My company earned a record profit last year. It’s an essential business, so it never had to close. It cut promotions to save money, but no executives took pay cuts. Many teams went fully remote, so the company saves on that.

    I also learned that my boss’s boss lives in a $2 mil mansion and spent most of lockdown at his vacation home. This is the guy who said we couldn’t have gift bags.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I don’t understand giving department heads a choice in a company-wide gift nor declining that for one’s team – surely they must have expected employees to talk to one another and hear about this? That seems like just asking for HR complaints. (Also, as a department head myself, WTF? I am thrilled when someone wants to recognize my team. They’re fantastic and have been real troupers throughout a terrible situation, and I will take any acknowledgement/advantage available for them.)

      Come to think of it, the last time there was a staff appreciation event since we went virtual, I got a notification, not an ask – like “FYI, we are sending X to each member of your team and it should arrive by Y”.

      1. JustaTech*

        At my company some teams have had little gift bags sent to their homes and little parties (over Zoom), but that’s all come out of their department’s budget. Even so, and even knowing that they’re having a much harder time with WFH than my department (personality differences), it stings a tiny bit.

        (Not mad at them, just lightly irked at my leadership, who keeps doing “pizza parties” in the building.)

  36. Delta Delta*

    #1 – the PayDay thing strikes me as an idea someone had that might have been cute but fell flat. Had it been part of something more substantial or the bonuses not been cut, people might have laughed. Strikes me like Lucille Bluth saying, “it’s 1 banana, Michael, how much could it cost? Ten dollars?” That kind of tone-deaf.

  37. bopper*

    #4: My warning to you: See if there is any rules on when you accrue vacation days. I wanted some time off too so I asked for a July 15 start date. They said fine. I was getting bored, so I asked if we could move it to June 30. They said sure…and I am so glad I did because I accrued a week of vacation that year by starting before July 1.

  38. mh_ccl*

    Re LW #1. I wouldn’t say that a Payday is tasteless. It’s kind of peanut-y with caramel.

    ….I’ll just see myself out.

    1. Radio Girl*

      I love Payday candy bars! In fact, they are my favorite.

      Frankly, I’ve worked for companies that would have done something like this and thought nothing of it. It’s chintzy.

  39. boop the first*

    2. It’s no wonder it’s still pulling on you, it would be really hard to just ignore a person who is venting harmful conspiracy theories (and in possibly a misogynistic way, too. Do men get warned about carrying placenta-exploding proteins? I doubt it, but why not? It makes just as much nonsense). You’re haunted by the ghost on the stairs, now. But now, she thinks you’re a safe person to conspire with, so an opportunity to actually respond well will likely pop up at any time.

    1. LW2*

      Boop the first, your comment made me feel so validated. The last couple of weeks at work have been a little rough because of this issue. Thank you. And I agree! I’ve been trying to think of how to respond to them if they do make another comment.

  40. Trombones Geants*

    We switched payroll companies last year, and the new company sent us 300 (roughly the number of people in the workforce) Payday bars to give out with the first checks on the new system. Someone in marketing must have thought it was a cute idea.

    1. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

      But that IS cute, because it’s more than expected. Getting one (with some random branded junk) when you’ve been promised an Employee Appreciation gift box … not so much.

  41. Old Cynic*

    Re LW5: I’m in San Francisco and my household is taking 2 weeks at a cabin in Tahoe next month. One of my housemates has worked from home since September. He mentioned this trip to his boss and the boss told him he couldn’t go with us. The housemate doesn’t ski or anything so would have the cabin to themselves during the workday. Ridiculous!

    1. JustaTech*

      If you’re on the California side that does seem slightly unreasonable. If you’re staying on the Nevada side, then you get into the tax law stuff (discussed extensively up-thread). If your housemate didn’t say what part of Tahoe he’s be in then his boss might have assumed Nevada and that’s why the boss said no.

      Also, when most people think “cabin in the woods” they don’t think “reliable high speed internet”, even though that’s pretty common these days.

      1. Dr Rat*

        Yeah, first thing I thought of was “same state or not?” Second thing was “Internet connection?” But if the work is at all confidential, the boss also may not have felt great about moving company equipment, laptop, etc., to a vacation spot where multiple people will be in and out. And is probably worried about partying, exposure to COVID, a million other things. So “strict” boss? Maybe. But “ridiculous?” Oh, come on.

  42. Faith the twilight slayer*

    LW 1, we have a table in our building that’s basically a “take it if you want it” kinda thing. I would have thrown that candy bar right on it. And what about allergies? I have had a similar experience and I am beside myself with rage on your behalf. Probably irrationally so, but feeling slighted is not out of order here.

  43. Atlantic Beach Pie*

    LW1, not only is the Payday bar in very poor taste (pun intended), but I’m flashing back to the letter from last year from the employee with nut allergies being harassed with candy by coworkers! If the company is more than a few dozen people, chances are that one of the employees has a nut allergy or lives with someone who does.

  44. aett*

    I’m just surprised there isn’t a single Community reference in these comments. The Dean dressed up as a giant PayDay bar and improvised a rap to apologize to his teachers for not having their paychecks on time!

  45. MCMonkeybean*

    For LW3–I totally understand the anxiety when you get radio silence on an email like that, but I think the most likely scenario is that he either missed the email or read it and then forgot about it. Maybe he didn’t feel enormously invested in the role or in you as a candidate, but I think there is a pretty much 0% chance that he read the email and thought “wow, so inappropriate that they asked me that.” You definitely don’t have any reason to be embarrassed. It’s a totally normal request and is generally a “no harm in asking” situation as long as you are polite, make it clear that you understand if they don’t want to do it or feel that they can, and don’t be pushy about it.

    For LW4–It sounds like this is not so much them actively trying to fill an opening, but rather that they like you and are looking to keep you around. If I’m understanding that right then I think that’s pretty much the best position you can be in to ask for a later start date! I think it’s another “no harm in asking” situation. I like Alison’s wording about needing some time to take care of things, and they don’t need to know if most of what you need to take care of is having some time to rest and decompress. (Though I’m sure most reasonable people would understand that, I think Alison’s wording comes across more professionally).

  46. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW2: Not only don’t the vaccines cause miscarriage, there’s now evidence that they protect both the mother AND her baby! You’re wise to listen to your doctor and not to people with off-the-wall fears. Oh, and who asked HER to give you medical advice anyway?! Sheesh!

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