my manager is annoyed with my days off, missing work because “something came up,” and more

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

1. My manager is annoyed that I keep getting Saturdays off

I work on a production line. It is difficult for me to work Saturdays as my wife works a weekend shift and childcare is hard to find on the weekends. My job is supposed to be (and was when I was hired 10 years ago) Monday through Friday, but over several years they have added 10-15 Saturdays a year.

I discovered three years ago that if I look at our company’s warehouse shipping/receiving database, which I have access to through the intranet to order parts for my line, I can see what Saturdays we are working weeks in advance. If I see an outbound shipment for the item my line makes on a Saturday, it means we will be scheduled for production that Saturday.

We are required to request vacation at least two weeks in advance of the day(s) we want off. So when I see a Saturday work day, two weeks and one day ahead of it I request that Friday off (then you also get Saturday off as it isn’t a normal scheduled work day) and have always gotten it off. The production schedule our team sees is only one week out, too late to request a vacation day if you see we are working a Saturday and want it off.

My supervisor discovered that I haven’t worked a Saturday in three years and has been tracking my vacation requests and put it together that if I request a Friday off, two weeks later we are working a Saturday. She asked (several times) how I know when we are working a Saturday and I say “lucky guess.” I can tell that this REALLY irritates her.

I found out through my brother-in-law, who works in IT for the same company, that my supervisor put in a request for them to review my computer history as she felt I was accessing “inappropriate“ content. Of course they found nothing and my brother-in-law’s boss was somewhat pissed when he found out why my supervisor wanted this done and wasted a bunch of their hours going through my computer files.

My supervisor is now hanging around my work station a whole lot more; she is always walking by and stopping to “check in.” I caught her hiding behind another machine near mine so she could see what was up on my computer screen. She has also asked me to stay logged in under my name to save time when she occasionally covers for me for my breaks (to check my search history?) and of course I don’t as it is against company policy. I now access the outbound page when I know she is at a staff meeting.

It has become frustrating with her constantly hovering over/around me. She is my supervisor so I guess she can but it is making me very nervous being constantly watched. I really don’t want to give up my “secret” as then everybody will do what I am doing and I will start working Saturdays. Can I file a harassment claim against my boss for her actions? Other thoughts?

No, this isn’t harassment in the legal sense (that would need to be based on your race, sex, religion, disability, or other protected class). But it is bad management. If she wants to require you to work some Saturdays, she just needs to tell you that you need to work some Saturdays. If she doesn’t trust you to do that without oversight, she could stop approving your Friday-off requests, since she’s figured out that they’re tied to the Saturdays you want off. I’m not sure why she’s not doing that and instead is spending all this time lurking around you.

On your side, though, wouldn’t it make sense to just talk to her about the Saturday work requirement? Ideally from the start you would have explained that you were hired to work weekdays, have child care commitments on the weekends, and aren’t available to work on Saturdays. It’s going to be harder to do that now because it sounds like it’s turned into a battle of wills between the two of you, but at some point she’s going to figure out a way to block what you’ve been doing, and then you’ll have to have that conversation anyway (or find an alternative for weekend child care).

2. New employee missed fourth day of work, saying “something came up”

I had a new employee start on a Tuesday. That Friday, I woke up to a text from my new hire from the night before, saying that she would not be in on Friday, that something had come up and she would see me on Monday.

This is an in-person job in a corporate environment. It is my first time managing within a corporate environment; my previous management stints were in an environment with labor conditions and expectations that would not fly in a well-run corporate setting. But in my former life, to call off meant you were literally dying or in jail and you would divulge that when you called (I don’t like or agree with this). I fully respect a person’s right to take a sick day and I feel nobody is obligated to share personal details, but I also don’t feel like “something came up” quite cuts it. Especially on what would be your fourth day on the job.

I’m looking for some guidance on where to set my expectations (regardless of this person working out or not). Am I out of line to feel “something came up” feels inadequate when calling out?

You’re not wrong! “Something came up” is strangely cavalier. “I’m sick” or “I have a family emergency” (without giving details beyond that) would both be fine, but “something came up” sounds like it could be “my sister called and I feel like talking to her” or “someone invited me to play tetherball.” It also sounds like she doesn’t think calling out on her fourth day of work is a big deal, when that’s normally something people would really try to avoid unless they truly couldn’t.

“Something came up” might be fine from a longer-time employee who had a track record of reliability (although it would still be kind of weird), but it’s pretty alarming from someone in their first week.

3. Other managers say I should answer calls on my days off

I am a new supervisor (one year) with my state government (but have over 25 years of service with them). The other supervisors in my department feel the need to coach me and told me that even on my days off, I should let my employees know that I am available to them. When I attempted to set boundaries by saying that when I am off, I am usually with my grandchildren, one supervisor responded that she has 10 grandchildren and still makes herself available when she is with them. Well, good for her. I earned every minute of my vacation time and have a full, rich life outside of work. I feel that I am entitled to time off as anyone else is. Am I really expected to answer emails and my phone on my day off? We are not a health care facility and not first responders. We are office workers.

In theory, no, you shouldn’t be expected to answer emails and calls on your days off unless something is genuinely an emergency (in which case, dealing with that is indeed part of many management jobs). But in reality, the expectations around this can vary greatly from office to office. If your office culture is that supervisors are expected to do that, there might be a price for refusing (in terms of perception, promotions, etc.). You might decide you don’t care about that price, which is your prerogative! Or you might look around and realize there won’t be much of a price to be paid at all.

But if you’re unsure, talking to your own manager about it is a good place to start. She’ll be able to give you a better sense of how against-the-grain it would be there to protect your days off, and how it might affect you if you hold firm. (For the record, I support you in holding firm! But your office culture is what will dictate how much of an issue it might be.)

4. I didn’t correct people’s mispronunciation of my name while interviewing

I’ve been through a multi-stage interview process consisting of short one-on-one interviews with various people from the organisation and I’m expecting to hear a final decision next week. I have a fairly common (or at least not rare) first name but it’s pronounced in an uncommon way. Each interviewer I’ve talked to pronounced my name the standard way and because of a mix of my own nerves, fast-paced interviews and the interviewers not pausing to ask if they’re pronouncing it right (which makes sense since my pronunciation of my name isn’t common), I never corrected them. Obviously if I don’t get the position it won’t be a problem, but in case I do, what’s the best way to bring it up? I don’t want to look like I assumed I wouldn’t be working with them or like I’m not proactive. To be fair, in this case I wasn’t proactive about this and that’s something I’ll bear in mind for future interviews and just correct the pronunciation up-front — but in this case how could I bring it up as with as little awkwardness as possible?

It won’t be a big deal at all. On your first day as you’re introducing yourself/being introduced, you’ll just say, “Actually, it’s ‘Lu-CHEE-a,’ not ‘Lu-SEE-a.’” No one is likely to read anything into the fact that you didn’t correct them while you were interviewing. They probably won’t even remember if they used your name with you and if they do, they’ll just figure you don’t bother to correct people every time in every situation, if they even think about it at all (which they likely won’t!). They’re not going to think, “Wow, she must have assumed she wouldn’t end up working with us” or “what a slacker approach to her own name.” No one will think about any of this as much as yourself are!

But if anyone does say something like, “Oh, you should have told us earlier,” you can always say, “It’s mispronounced so often that sometimes I don’t even bother to correct it, but since we’re working together now I wanted to make sure you knew how to say it.”

5. I had a great interview — but they’re still “actively recruiting”

I just finished a final round interview, and I thought it went well (they even asked me about my hobbies, which I saw as a good sign). However, the day after my final interview, I was looking through my email and received a “LinkedIn Job Alerts” notification. I saw the company on the list and that they were still “actively recruiting.” Does this mean that I messed up the last round and will not be hired? In the same vein, if a company reposts a job on a job board after a interview, is it safe to assume that they’re not considering me?

Nope, it means nothing at all. It’s very normal for a company to keep their job postings active until they’ve made an offer and had it accepted. Plus, this was only the day after your interview! It’s very likely that they haven’t made a hiring decision yet and they might still have other candidates to interview. But even if they left the meeting with you thinking, “Wow, that’s the one for sure, cancel all the other interviews,” they’re still not going to have taken down the listing within a day. There are references to check, decisions to finalize, paperwork to do, offers to put together — and then they need to wait to see if you even accept it. It’s very normal to keep ads active during that time.

{ 912 comments… read them below }

  1. Maybe it’s just me*

    Allison re: letter 1. I agree that the manager should simply stop approving the days off but isn’t OP also wrong here? OP has found a loophole and is benefiting with no thought to fellow team members. OP isn’t the only employee with childcare issues – why should they insist on being exempted while everyone else is picking up the slack? The way they are going about this just seems unethical.

    Plus brother in law in IT shouldn’t be giving out info on an investigation. In my organization both sets of behavior would be considered unethical and up for performance management.

    1. Kiwiapple*

      +1. OP is definitely not entirely faultless and this could be investigated if OP is ‘discovered’. Certainly the OP should have a conversation with their manager citing childcare issues – and also their spouse, to see if one or two shifts on Saturdays could be taken off to allow OP 1 to work the odd Saturday during the year.
      Clearly the manager smells something fishy – and that’s because it is. It’s only a matter of time before they discover what’s going on and OP could be out the door (or at the very least, this ‘secret’ access removed from them).

      1. allathian*

        It sounds almost like LW1’s spouse is only working on the weekend and LW is working during the week. If that’s truly the case, then I’m not sure asking them to take a Saturday off would be appropriate.

        That said, if everyone else is working a few Saturdays a week, then the LW should do so, too, or else negotiate with their boss so they don’t have to do so, due to childcare issues. But going behind the manager’s back to cheat the system is unethical, and could potentially cost the LW their job. Just because the LW was hired 10 years ago to only work Monday to Friday means nothing. It’s different where I am, but in the US employers can pretty much unilaterally change working conditions for employees at any time (unless there’s a union), and there’s nothing much employers can do about that, except quit if the new conditions don’t suit. Of course it’s more difficult if it’s a smaller town with maybe one big industrial facility.

        That said, I find it really hard to believe that it would be so impossible to find childcare for the weekend. I bet the LW would find a way to do that if the alternative was to get fired.

        1. Kiwiapple*

          I’ve worked weekend jobs and you still get leave to take (but am not in US).

          1. MsSolo (UK)*

            My understanding is that you do, but potentially it’s very low (if you get two weeks for working five days a week, you’d get 4 days for working two days a week), you’re going to want to save them for if the kids’ birthdays fall on a weekend, actually going on holiday, and being off sick, of course.

          2. Yorick*

            Sure, but if you work only weekend days, you probably can’t take off 10-15 Saturdays a year.

          3. Shad*

            My experience with part time jobs (in the US) is that they’re generally fine with you taking time, but that time will not be paid. So it could very easily be a financial issue.

          4. Pickled Limes*

            In the US, most part time jobs are hourly and employers are not required to offer any form of paid leave. Some states require paid sick leave for part timers, but it usually accrues really slowly and it would only cover actual illness. So if an employee who only works two days a week takes one of those days off, their week’s pay would be cut in half. A lot of families wouldn’t be able to afford that.

        2. JM60*

          or else negotiate with their boss so they don’t have to do so, due to childcare issues

          It sounds like he originally negotiated that (though it possibly wasn’t motivated by childcare at the time) and the company reneged on that agreement. Between the two parties, that seems to be the biggest ‘sin’ here (though using this loophole as a workaround for the employer reneging on the M-F only agreement isn’t great).

          It does sound like he needs to somehow re-negotiate the M-F workweek that he already negotiated.

          1. Myrin*

            I don’t think OP originally negotiated anything – she says “My job is supposed to be (and was when I was hired 10 years ago) Monday through Friday” which means that, well, this was just a regular job being worked Monday through Friday, no specific negotiation required.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I agree. OP was hired 10 years ago to work Monday through Friday; however, the company can change that at any time and they did three years ago. OP needs to decide if they still want the job with these terms since this is what the job is now.

              1. Daisy*

                Obviously companies CAN do whatever shitty things they want. I think changing from 100% M-F to working every 4th or 5th Saturday is a pretty big change, and this thing about keeping the schedule secret to the last minute is really weird. I don’t blame OP at all and don’t think they’re doing anything wrong.

                1. LTL*

                  I’d normally agree with this, but expecting no changes in work requirements in a decade is kind of extreme. If the LW had been there less than a year, I’d be more understanding.

                2. Sal*

                  I agree with this. I got hired for a regular lawyer job (I thought) and found out after the fact that there were frequent night and weekend full eight-hour shifts–avoiding them was largely a matter of depending on the irregular goodwill of a colleague. They 100% should have disclosed this during the interview process and didn’t (typical “don’t you already know how things are done in [large east coast city]” attitude IMO, taken to the nth degree). I left that job five years ago and am STILL MAD.

                3. TootsNYC*

                  this thing about keeping the schedule secret to the last minute is really weird.

                  I agree.
                  What a decent manager would do is to plot out those Saturdays with as much notice as possible, supervise the days off, etc., so that the load is spread evenly in the department (or use a no-work Saturday to reward high performers), and give employees as much notice as possible to arrange weekend childcare. (maybe even suggest employees create buddy-system childcare for one another)

                  I think the OP should get really strategic here. Find out about an upcoming Saturday, and use the notice to arrange childcare somehow.

                  Then alternate, roughly–take a Friday off here and there, and arrange childcare for a few.

                4. MusicWithRocksIn*

                  I agree. The thing that bothered me most here wasn’t the OP’s action – but the fact that the company knew what weeks they would need Saturday workers up to three weeks in advance but were waiting for a week before to tell anyone. I would hate to work Saturdays, but I would be super angry that someone was waiting until the last second to tell me that I was working a Saturday.

              2. Inca*

                But, perhaps companies just shouldn’t change that at any time. There’s enough unhealthy workload as is, five days of work ought to be enough. Pay people enough to live, give them enough time and time off to live and thrive. We have grown too accustomed to companies putting all those demands on people. OP wants to be with their family, and they deserve to be. Frankly, it’s probably allready quite a toll to not have that much overlap with their spouse.
                (I have seen a family ‘function’ based on minimal contact and basically timesharing their home, but it’s not healthy at all.)

                It shouldn’t be so normal.

                (And yeah, their coworkers are a bit in the loss. That sucks. But one employee is only going to change so much of it. I do support unionizing and vocalizing for good workers’ rights and weekends off, but in the mean time… Capitalism has pitted anyone against each other and this is not between coworkers but between a worker and a system that places heavy demands on anyone, and this is pretty far down the list on actual unethical behavior to me. Someone doesn’t want to work weekends, and I’d say they have every right not to want that.)

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Agreed and adding: The company could have just started telling people to work Saturdays in one-on-one conversations. In other words, there was no meeting, no announcement, and Saturdays just crept in as an assumed expectation. “Here, read my mind. You now know that you have to work Saturdays.”

              My thinking is the boss is acting covertly BECAUSE OP is acting covertly. People can respond to what they see in a similar manner. People who game the system are going to get watched to see what they are doing.

              I suspect at the very bottom of all this is that OP knows if they confront the boss then things will come to a head- they will have to work Saturdays or seek employment elsewhere. IF I were in this situation, I’d tell myself that I am hanging on to this job by a thread and that thread can break at anytime. If I have to go through all this mess to keep a job, the job isn’t really mine to keep anyway. It’s all an illusion and a huge bunch of unnecessary stress.

              I think that the thing that grabs me- don’t we each carry enough stress right now??? Either confront a problem like this with the boss or just move on.

              One more thought: OP’s coworkers are ticked as all get out about this and they are probably nagging the boss to do something. I have been that ticked coworker.

              1. Lucille B.*

                “I think that the thing that grabs me- don’t we each carry enough stress right now??? Either confront a problem like this with the boss or just move on.”

                Yes please! Add another instance to the pile of Alison being correct to tell people to communicate.

              2. Sal*

                I love the trust in the free market for workers evinced here, but I have not had, at any point in my professional life, enough luck in finding a new job that I could reasonably on purpose choose to bring things to a head, with the possibility that it could lead to my termination or even an “amicable” agreement to move on. It may take them two weeks to replace me, and they’ll do me a solid by stretching that out to three months, but the last time I knew I was changing jobs, it took me about 4-6 months to even get an interview (and I started looking early). The time before that, we were moving, and I had six months of advance notice, and couldn’t get a job. We moved and I was unemployed (and then underemployed) for another 2-3 months. And I think I’m pretty employable!

                1. NACSACJACK*

                  This! I once was brave enough in a small meeting to state exactly that. “QUIT! Get a job somewhere else. The market is awesome!” Someone graciously pointed out to the group that I was in IT. Three years later, Y2K was done. Four years later, the tech bubble burst. Four and half years later, 9/11 and 11 years later, the Great Recession happened. And I’m still at5 the same company doing the same stuff because I am too valuable doing what I do to gain any new skills and do the new stuff. :( As we get older, it gets harder to leave a job because we are tied down and have no one to cover our back.

              3. Worldwalker*

                Yeah. I doubt if *anyone* wants to work Saturdays, so they’re probably getting pretty ticked that the OP never has to do any of it and they have to do all of it. The OP is being so smug about what they’ve “scored” for themself but hasn’t given a thought for their co-workers who are getting shafted.

                1. Krabby*

                  I was thinking this too. It’s also not clear if their access to the order requests is due to special privileges. I’d be pissed about this regardless, but doubly so if the person was in a manager/supervisor type position.

                  On top of that, it’s not a one day holiday this person is taking! They’re taking a Friday off, which then becomes two days because the Saturday isn’t a regularly scheduled day. That means that in essence, this person is getting TWO days off for the price of one, on top of never having to work a Saturday. That is supremely unfair.

                  I think this company should be incentivizing weekend work (that’s what we do, and we get tons of volunteers because people want double time) but I also think that OP 1 is being a total jerk about this loophole. I would be shocked to learn that this complaint didn’t originally stem from one or more of his co-workers.

                2. pope suburban*

                  Exactly this. I understand that OP has commitments and very probably budget constraints like…well, the vast majority of us! I strongly support flexibility in work and I wish our culture here in the States was at all inclined to see employees as people. That said, I have been in the position of OP’s coworkers and that is also not great. I have commitments and budget constraints, and maybe even things I would like to do that recharge me when I am not normally scheduled to be working. Always being the one to pick up that slack, with no reciprocity from colleagues/the company, is exhausting. It burns me out. It’s making me look for jobs right now. OP is shifting a pretty big burden to others without considering how they might feel, or that they are people with lives like him. He’s not a total villain, but he’s not acting very well either. Honesty, communication, and a willingness to help others are going to go a long way here, but it might take a while to get things fully course-corrected.

                3. quill*

                  Yes – the company needs to be honest that saturday work is a regular thing, and give as much advanced notice as possible, but OP needs to realize that if the group is rotating saturdays, that means that everyone will get some saturdays. And then everyone can plan ahead for the schedule or make formal negotiations about why they will not be in on a saturday.

              4. Pickled Limes*

                I agree, it’s very likely that OP1’s coworkers are feeling extremely resentful. The person I dislike the most at my current office is the one who makes the schedule, because they’ve decided they only work 4 Saturdays a year while the rest of us work 12-18. There’s no reason for it, they just hate working Saturdays and since they’re in charge of the schedule, they give themselves as few as possible while the rest of us have to take extra to make up the difference. The resentment is strong.

                1. NotJane*

                  Yes, and when this comes to a head – which it almost certainly will, given that the boss is now snooping around – the accumulated resentment will likely come back to bite OP in the you-know-what.

                  The real question is, are the short term gains worth the long term consequences?

            3. kittymommy*

              This and it’s also possible that they did negotiate it and has since had manager(s) change over time. The new one may have no clue about the arrangement.

              I just don’t understand why the LW just doesn’t talk with her. Between the “gaming the system” loophole, sneaky manager, and sharing investigation info IT brother-in-law, nobody looks good here.

              1. Madeleine Matilda*

                I don’t think the manager is handling this correctly, but she isn’t the one being sneaky here. She asked OP directly and he lied when he said “lucky guess” which she knew was a lie. Now all the subsequent things she did to catch him out are over the top. Presumably she knows when the Saturday work is coming and she can tell him that she will not be able to approve any leave requests adjacent to a Saturday work day.

                1. Rusty Shackelford*

                  Well, she *is* still being sneaky, though. She’s investigating the OP’s IT habits, she’s apparently snooping around trying to see what he’s looking at on his computer… the OP is not being honest, but I don’t think the manager is either.

                  I do wonder if she knows when the Saturday work is coming. The OP figured out the pattern, but maybe she hasn’t, somehow? Because if she did know, she could easily refuse to approve his Friday vacation requests if she wanted him to work on Saturdays.

                2. kittymommy*

                  By sneaky I meant more in a physical way. Hiding behind machines to sneak a peak at a computer screen reminds me of sneakiness from a Scooby-Doo villian.

                3. Empress Matilda*

                  Yeah, there’s a lot of drama on both sides here. But I have a real problem with the tone of OP’s letter. “I’ve been systematically getting out of assigned work for three years, and I used my personal relationship with IT to find out that my manager has launched an investigation into my behaviour. Can I file a harassment claim against her?”

                  Come on, dude. You cannot seriously be this clueless. Of course your manager wants to know what’s going on! Sure there are better ways for her to find out, but you’re not going to get any leverage by shifting the focus to her. It’s your behaviour that is at issue here, not hers.

                4. Arvolin*

                  Someone in this relationship really should be the adult (both of them would be ideal), and that’s the manager’s responsibility.

            4. JM60*

              Even if the M-F schedule wasn’t negotiated by the OP, it sounds like it at least was part of the original agreement between him and his employer, and his employer changing that is a big deal. Plenty of people don’t negotiate their salary, but it’s still part of the original agreement, and changing it in the employer’s favor after the fact without an extremely good reason is still crappy.

              1. Public Sector Manager*

                I think you’re reading a lot into this. The OP’s job is still Monday through Friday. But now production has increased to where the production team needs to come in on 10-15 Saturdays a year to move out additional product, and the OP only needs to come in when products in his production line are being sent out. OP doesn’t say if he’s on salary or not, but if not, then the OP would also be getting overtime for working on a Saturday.

                The OP isn’t getting dumped on.

          2. Sparkles McFadden*

            I read it that LW accepted a M-F job and then, years later, Saturdays were added due to changes in manufacturing/delivery schedules.

            The time to negotiate the Saturdays off was when that change was made. Since the LW found a way around doing so, I don’t think anyone one in management will be too motivated to negotiate now.

            The manager is handling this in a terribly unprofessional way, but the LW had to know that someone would catch on sooner or later. I am surprised it took three years. I am quite sure his coworkers have had discussions about how LW never seems to work on Saturdays…and maybe some of them asked the manager that question.

            1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

              Better late than never.

              It’s not too late for the company to change the policy that taking Friday off doesn’t automatically get you out of Saturday.
              It’s not too late for the company to start paying extra for the Saturday shifts. Many people, even those with kids, would take that deal.
              It’s not too late for the company to start giving EVERYONE two weeks or more notice, so at least they can plan better for it.
              It’s not too late for the manager to flat out ask the LW what is going on, not take his evasion as an answer, and fire them if they keep playing these games.
              It’s not too late for LW to flat out say they can’t work Saturdays. It’s not too late for their manager to say that working their share of Saturdays is a requirement of the job. Either one of them can ask if it makes sense to continue with LW’s employment in this position.

              1. Krabby*

                Yes! As much as I feel the OP is really in the wrong here, this is also a huge problem from the company. It’s not good to be doing this to employees without compensation or notice.

              2. Happy Lurker*

                Yes!!
                Seriously – one week notice that you have to work an extra day – that stinks on so many levels.

              3. quill*

                Yes. There’s some sneakieness here, but the company started it by not being transparent and allowing people to plan ahead for their working saturdays. OP shouldn’t be leaving their coworkers holding the bag, but if everyone had time to reschedule saturday commitments to begin with, the problem would go away for everyone.

        3. ap*

          “But going behind the manager’s back to cheat the system is unethical”

          “in the US employers can pretty much unilaterally change working conditions for employees at any time”
          … which of these things is *actually* unethical?

          OP isn’t cheating anything. OP is using logic and foresight and maximizing vacation days. Plus the employer schedules these Saturday work days with one week notice, when they could actually give employees more time to plan for it. But someone (manager?) doesn’t care enough or isn’t organized enough to be that considerate to their employees.

          I can see that LW1 could share with other employees, but the fact that they aren’t is due to having to how an unfair system is set up, not a situation LW1 created.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I’d go with unfair on this one. OP’s cohorts know and think of OP as a person who does not do their share of Saturdays.
            I had a cohort who did not show up for work every Tuesday. Well, it turned out that she went off with her BF on Tuesdays. There’s more to this story but the bosses never caught on. Those of us who worked with this person, caught on fairly fast.

            1. twocents*

              I was thinking the same. It may have taken the sup 3 years to notice, but I bet his coworkers noticed year 1.

            2. Not So Super-visor*

              This was my thought as well. More than likely Supervisor is fielding complaints from OP’s coworkers about why OP never has to work a Saturday. Depending on how many people they let off at a time and the fact that this has been going on for 3 years, it’s possible that there are some coworkers who have never gotten the opportunity to have a working Saturday off because OP always requests them.

            3. Roscoe*

              Well, the difference though is OP is taking their own PTO in order to not do it. This isn’t just “they aren’t showing up” or calling in sick. They are actively taking PTO, which the other coworkers have as well.

              One thing that isn’t clear to me, that MAY change my opinion, is whether only one person can take that day off at a time. If 5 people could take that Friday/Saturday combo off, but they just aren’t, thats not on OP. But, if only 1 person is allowed to, that is a bit different.

              I had a job once where I was (at the time) one of the few people in my department who was from the city we lived in (I was in my early 20s). Most people would go home around the holidays, so they saved their PTO up for that. We had a use it or lose it policy, so I didn’t need a bunch of time off, so I took every Friday off in November and December. People got, IMO, unfairly mad at me because they had to cover. It didn’t matter that I’d be covering for them while they were out those weeks (which in fairness wouldn’t be much work), but they saw me taking a bunch of Fridays off in a row as “wrong” somehow.

              Sometimes people don’t look at their own situation to really compare it. In this case, OP probably can’t take any long stretches of time off because they are using 15-16 PTO days a year off to not work saturdays, whereas his colleagues can take 3 weeks off in a row if they want.

              1. Yorick*

                They need people there on Saturdays, so they’re only going to let one or a couple of people be off on a certain day. OP’s coworkers don’t even know they’re gonna be asked to work Saturday until it’s too late to take PTO. So OP is really screwing over their coworkers by not doing their fair share of Saturday work.

                1. Roscoe*

                  No, management is screwing over the coworkers by not being proactive about telling people when coverage is needed on a Saturday. If OP has access to this info, others do too.

                2. Rusty Shackelford*

                  I agree with Roscoe. Management knows when a Saturday shift is coming up, and (deliberately?) doesn’t disclose that information until it’s too late for employees to request off. Dishonesty begets dishonesty.

                3. LunaLena*

                  From the letter: “I discovered three years ago that if I look at our company’s warehouse shipping/receiving database, which I have access to through the intranet to order parts for my line, I can see what Saturdays we are working weeks in advance.”

                  It sounds like not everyone has access to that info, but OP does because part of their duties include ordering parts.

                4. kitryan*

                  While the OP is enjoying an advantage over their coworkers due to their workaround vacation requests, as Rosco and Rusty are noting, the first thing that is screwing people over is the company not allowing people enough notice to either request off or to arrange coverage for their weekend responsibilities, when the company clearly knows enough in advance to do so. The company is the first unfair actor here. If they did announce it, then people could openly request time off and their requests could be approved or denied as per policy and this whole thing would be moot.
                  Now, it’s valid to note that issues w/Saturday work would have been best raised when the intermittent Saturday shifts began and that OP has a possible perception issue w/their coworkers as not pulling their weight and that the battle of wills w/the supervisor is not sustainable – since the OP is the one who wrote in, and we can’t tell the company that they’re in the wrong.

                5. Keener*

                  YES! This was my immediate reaction. Why is management giving employees less than 2 weeks notice when they have to work a Saturday and employees are accepting this? If Saturday isn’t my normally scheduled day, but I need to work an occasional one, I am going to be far happier about it if I know as far in advance as possible (absolute min 4 weeks). That way I can make sure I don’t schedule my dad’s birthday BBQ with 20 relative, or I sign my kid up for some all day activity/arrange a sleepover at the grandparents for my kids, etc.

                  If the OP is only getting 2 weeks notice I can see how the simplest solution is to just take the day off.

                6. The Rules are Made Up*

                  OP is not a manager making schedules, that is not their problem. Management decided that employees would only know they were working a Saturday with a week’s notice knowing it’s too late for them to take off. The OP is requesting PTO, which they have a right to do, which is being approved. IMO besides just not being upfront about not being able to work Saturdays OP isn’t really doing anything wrong here besides winning a game their employer made up.

                7. nonegiven*

                  The company could give everyone notice when they would be working Saturday, so they could make arrangements for child care or whatever might be going on for them.

                  The company could also say no one can have that Friday off for business reasons. But no they don’t do that, they just ruin everyone’s weekend with inadequate notice.

              2. Pickled Limes*

                If the situation is “X amount of work must take place on June 19th” and the coworker who was supposed to help me do that work doesn’t show up on June 19th, the fact that they’re using PTO is not going to make me feel better. Because X amount of work still needs to be done, and now we have one less person helping us do it. So, on paper, yeah. They’re taking PTO. But don’t expect coworkers to feel all warm and fuzzy about it.

              3. me*

                The OP is requesting time off on the last possible day they can, two weeks and one day in advance, to get approved. So if only 1 person can take that Friday off, OP is giving the others the opportunity to do so first. This is very different than booking all the good vacation days for the year on January 1.

                1. Miss Curmudgeonly*

                  I read it differently. They request at that time because they think doing it earlier might tip someone off, who would then request it as well (and maybe only one person can have that time off? also unclear if days off requests are first-come-first-served). By the time it’s approved and on the schedule as a day off, it’s too late for anyone else to request that day off, because it’s within the 2-weeks-before-the-date timeframe.

            4. Dust Bunny*

              Yeah, I had a supervisee who was told in no uncertain terms that her shifts would include two Saturdays a month, and assured us that this would not be a problem . . . but then immediately started calling in “sick” on all her Saturdays. So we were always a) slammed and b) short-staffed. We fired her when she called in to say she just couldn’t make it (she didn’t even claim to be sick) from a town four hours away.

            5. SheLooksFamiliar*

              I bet OP’s coworkers very quickly saw a pattern: ‘Ever notice how OP doesn’t work on the Saturdays when her production line is running?’ Now her boss sees a problem, maybe because she got complaints.

              Maybe the OP didn’t create the loophole, but she is taking full advantage of it. It could cost her the goodwill of her team, and ruin her credibility with her boss. If she can’t work weekends, she should have a talk with her boss, not play games with the system.

            6. StressedButOkay*

              Oh my goodness, yes. I had a colleague who managed to call out sick nearly every other Monday, leaving me holding the bag for our shared duties. Our managers never did anything about it. Regardless of if OP’s doing right by them, they aren’t doing right by their colleagues.

              Their boss is still acting really weird about and should just have a talk with them about expectations regarding Saturday shifts. But OP is leaving a lot of their colleagues holding the bag.

          2. Snow Globe*

            The OP is cheating their coworkers, who have to work more than their “share” of Saturdays, because the OP won’t.

            1. Roscoe*

              Is this the case though? From what I can gather from the letter (and its possible I misread it though), they just expect EVERYONE to work saturdays when these things pop up. So whether or not OP was there, everyone else would still be working that Saturday.

              1. Yorick*

                Either way, they’re having to pick up the slack for OP who is NEVER there to help.

                1. Roscoe*

                  And if they take PTO days, OP has to pick up slack for them too, correct? If its a coverage issue, again, that is on mnagement.

                2. Julia*

                  Roscoe – You have a really good point and honestly I see both sides of this, but I do think there’s something a little different about calling out every single Saturday. Nobody wants to work on Saturday – it’s not a normal working day for these employees and it sounds like they’ve already worked a full week. It is an especially dismal assignment, so it’s not exactly just like any other PTO day. There is an element of unfairness if one coworker always misses the worst workdays.

                  That said, yes, it’s on management to either take care of the coverage issue or make Saturdays a clear condition of employment.

                3. Pickled Limes*

                  Roscoe, I think you’re ignoring the fact that it’s possible for two people two be wrong at the same time.

                  On AITA, one of the possible judgments is Everybody Sucks Here. That’s the verdict I’d give on this situation. Yes. The company’s system is bad. I have seen zero people arguing that it’s good. It’s not. But the OP’s weird decision to check back channels and request vacation days instead of just sitting down with their boss and talking about the issues that would make Saturday shifts a hardship for their family is ALSO bad. It’s the equivalent of a teenager calling the high school and pretending to be their parent to get themself out of trouble. It’s immature, and it’s not even the most efficient or effective way for OP to get the work arrangement that would work out best for their family.

                4. Roscoe*

                  I’m very familiar with AITA. And let me say, I don’t think that is a subreddit to be emulated. It is one of the worst places on reddit, which says a lot

                5. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                  Roscoe, what any of any of us might personally think of AITA is not at issue here. I think Pickled Limes just made a good point: that there are situations where no one is completely blameless and everyone involved sucks at least a little. You don’t have to be a fan of AITA to know that can happen.

                  I happen to agree with Pickled Limes that there are no perfect angels here.

              2. Not So Super-visor*

                In most manufacturing situations, they can only allow so many people on PTO (usually a set # or % of the total people working on that line) with a little wiggle room in case someone calls in sick. If OP is taking up the PTO slots first because they have advanced intel, then yes, they’re cheating their coworkers out of the opportunity to request a working Saturday off. Honestly, this is mostly the workplace’s fault — if they’d be upfront about which Saturdays that they expect to work (even if they get a head of schedule and cancel the Saturday) then everyone would have a fair shot at requesting PTO or being on a rotation schedule.

                1. Arvolin*

                  That isn’t really applicable here. Suppose I plan a week’s vacation. I’m going to ask for the time off long before OP would know whether to ask for it off or not. If I don’t have anything planned in advance, due to the screwy way the company does this I can’t request PTO.

                  If Saturday is a regular all-hands-on-deck workday, then OP is making his coworkers work more on Saturday, but that would be the case when OP took any time off. The problem then is not that OP has special access, but that they give two days of vacation for the price of one. If management has a reduced crew, then OP is causing some coworkers to work more Saturdays, and that is something to be annoyed by.

              3. identifying remarks removed*

                I’m pretty sure that if the rest of OP’s coworkers knew about the Saturday schedule at the same time as the OP does then at least one or two of them would also be putting in leave requests to avoid working Saturdays. But they don’t have any choice because they aren’t notified until 1 week ahead – which is too late for them to request leave.

                Neither management nor OP come out of this well.

              4. Public Sector Manager*

                The way I’m reading the letter is that the company works 10-15 Saturdays a year, but the OP and the OP’s team only have to go in when the OP’s production line is being sent out. So if OP is in teapots, and llama shears are going out on Saturday, no one from OP’s team has to go.

                That being said, the OP is sticking it to their coworkers, who all know that the OP gets to skip every working Saturday. It also sounds like the OP only has the information about which Saturdays are a workday because of access to a system that every employee might not have access to.

                I wouldn’t want to work for OP’s supervisor, nor would I want to work with OP. I think they are perfect for each other.

                1. Koalafied*

                  Ahh, this would make a little more sense to me. I admit that I burst out laughing unintentionally when I got to “…found out I haven’t worked a Saturday in three years,” because up to that point in the letter I’d been assuming this was a more recent and/or occasional thing. If their team only does, for instance, three Saturdays a year, then it seems a little less ridiculous for OP to be using this hack about every ~4 months for the past 3 years, vs the sitcom-level hilarity of using it almost once a month for 3 years.

            2. ap*

              I get the impression from the letter that the entire team is scheduled for these Saturday production days, not that only a few people are assigned. Perhaps it is telling that LW1 doesn’t mention coworkers.

              In either case, if others are having to cover slack, that is still a fault of the system, and can be made more fair across the board by management.

            3. Nanani*

              OP isn’t cheating them. The company that changed the hours on everyone (assuming the other workers don’t have an explicit agreement to work saturdays) is in the wrong.

              1. In my shell*

                It’s not wrong, it’s a business reality. Things change and companies have to change too which affects the employees. I’m sure the company would rather have all of the work fit into 5 days of payroll instead of 6!

              2. virago*

                “The company that changed the hours on everyone … is in the wrong.”

                And notice that OP isn’t sharing their One Weird Trick to Never Working Saturdays with “everyone” — that is, their co-workers.

                As Koalafied pointed out, OP mentioned in their question that they haven’t worked a Saturday in three damn years.

                OP is all about making life easier for OP.

                And when this One Weird Trick blows up in OP’s face, no one is going to have OP’s back.

                Because I can guarantee that OP’s co-workers resent the hell out of OP after three years of looking around every Saturday and saying, “How come we’re here but OP is NEVER here on Saturdays?”

          3. EPLawyer*

            Oh he knows what he is doing is shady. He called it a secret. he doesn’t want others to know because then they would do it too and he would have to work some Saturdays. So he is fine with using the loophole solely for himself. He is fine with his coworkers having to work Saturdays even though they may have committments too. Then he complains his boss is harassig him by trying to figure out how he manages to never work a Saturday.

            I can just imagine what working with this guy on a daily basis must be like.

            1. learnedthehardway*

              I don’t think it’s shady – the OP is just smart enough to figure out how to make the company maintain the agreement they had with him from the beginning of his employment.

              The company has never had a formal conversation with him to inform him that the condition of his employment has changed – WHY should he be obligated to do so?

              If his manager has a problem with it, SHE should bring it up and tell him that the expectation is that he will work some Saturdays. That will give him the obligation to then respond that he can or can’t do this.

              I’ve said the same thing to my spouse, who manages a team, and who gets frustrated that one employee won’t work Saturdays ever. I point out to them that they hired the worker with full understanding that the worker does not work on weekends, full stop, and were very upfront about this when hired. So my spouse has no right to feel that the person isn’t pulling their weight. If they wanted someone to work weekends, then they should have hired someone who was willing to do so!

              1. Julia*

                “The company has never had a formal conversation with him to inform him that the condition of his employment has changed”

                I’m not sure this is true; I don’t think we have that information. LW only said “over several years they have added 10-15 Saturdays a year”; he didn’t say “without explanation”. It seems possible that they talked to the employees about that – “hey, you’ll need to come in this Saturday”, or “hey, we’ll need to start adding occasional Saturdays”.

              2. Not a Blossom*

                I don’t get where everyone is getting “the conditions changed without explanation.” It’s not in the letter.

                And here’s the thing: It’s the company’s right to do that. It might suck for people, but they can do it. The OP then had 3 choices: try to negotiate not working Saturdays, work the Saturdays, or quit. Instead, he chose to be sneaky and screw over his coworkers.

                The company absolutely should be giving everyone an earlier head’s up about who is working which Saturdays, but that doesn’t make what the OP is doing any less terrible. If I were one of his coworkers, I’d be livid.

            2. Emily*

              Agreed EPLawyer, LW knows full well what they are doing is not completely on the up and up, it’s also unfair to their co-workers. Though the way the manager is behaving is not at all ppropriate either, and frankly makes me wonder about the culture at this workplace.

          4. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

            Hard agree. There’s a weird trap, in the US particularly, where we’re supposed to be loyal to our fellow employees by letting the boss exploit us all equally hard – but the actual ethical thing to do by fellow employees here would be unionize/push back in a group on the Saturday work requirement/push for some kind of childcare stipend for weekend work/etc. that actually solves the problem and puts the burden of the extended hours back on the people actually profiting from the extended hours. Not sucking it up and suffering because everyone else is suffering too.

            1. Marion Cotesworth-Haye*

              Sure — but the OP hasn’t tried banding together with their coworkers here. They’re perfectly happy for someone to work that shift, as long as it isn’t them, and perfectly happy to keep information from their coworkers that might level the playing field.

              1. Yorick*

                Exactly. OP didn’t share this secret so everyone could benefit. He specifically doesn’t want anyone else to know because then he would have to work some of the Saturdays instead of taking them all off and leaving his coworkers to finish all the work by themselves. OP is not behaving like a team player.

                1. Emily*

                  “OP is not behaving like a team player.” Exactly! I’m frankly dismayed by the amount of comments here who see nothing wrong with what OP is doing. OP’s manager is wrong, but so is OP. OP doesn’t care about if their co-workers have to work Saturdays or not, all they care about is that they don’t have to. OP would likely have had better luck if they had banded together with their co-workers when the working on Saturdays issue first came up to try and figure out a way to make working on Saturdays fair for everyone, but instead OP has decided to only look out for themselves, and I can almost guarantee you that OP’s co-workers have noticed that OP has conveniently never worked a Saturday.

            2. Kiki*

              Right! I don’t feel like the solution here is for LW to start taking Saturday shifts even though it is deeply inconvenient for them. Management could be doing more to ensure that Saturday shifts are less inconvenient for employees: paying a higher wage to make the shift more desirable or offset childcare costs, letting employees know about shifts more than a week in advance, figuring out a system where employees can request certain Saturdays off well in advance without digging into PTO, giving a day off to everyone who picks up a Saturday, etc.

              At every company I’ve worked for where occasional weekend work was a thing, they did something to sweeten the deal enough that there was always a cohort of folks actively interested in working on the weekend.

              1. Yorick*

                Management doesn’t know OP has this conflict for Saturday work though, because he just started tricking them into letting him not work Saturdays instead of talking to them about the issue.

                1. Julia*

                  I think the deception is emblematic of a bigger issue we often see with AAM letters: people don’t like to talk to their boss when they have some conflict that will mean they can’t work. I think the feeling is that the boss will just say “well, you need to work or you’re fired”, and then the employee is out of a job.

                  Of course, sometimes managers actually aren’t that unreasonable and employees are just wrongly assuming there would be no flexibility if they spoke up. But in this case, this manager seems unreasonable. (Sneaking around the computers instead of talking to him?) So OP may be correct in his assumption that if he’d asked her, he’d just have gotten a flat no. He probably didn’t want to risk his job. That is no small consideration.

                2. Krabby*

                  @Julia, I don’t think that’s fair. She DID ask him about it and he lied (“I got lucky”).

                  What is she supposed to do? He’s clearly getting the information from somewhere. Is it a senior staff member playing favourites? Does he have some level of system access he’s not supposed to have (which could let him see other confidential stuff)? He’s so cagey about it, I’d have to assume the info was coming from somewhere really bad that he shouldn’t have.

                3. Julia*

                  @Krabby: A reasonable employer would’ve asked him “Seems like you’re calling out a lot the day before a working Saturday. I do need people here regularly on Saturdays. Is there a reason you prefer not to work that day?”

                  Instead, she asked “where are you getting your info?” That’s not the important issue, and focusing on that issue really does imply that she thinks using your company-issued PTO to avoid Saturdays is shirking work – which implies she’d shut down a reasonable conversation about not working Saturdays.

                4. Krabby*

                  @Julia, Maybe it’s because I work in a company that deals heavily with data security, but to me the bigger issue would be how he’s getting this info, so that’s the angle I was thinking of.

                  That said, you are 100% right. If the issue is really just her wanting to be able to shut down his time off requests without having to do her job and have a conversation with him where she sets down some ground rules… That’s a really bad approach, haha.

                5. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

                  It’s reasonable to expect that everyone finds weekend work a potential conflict unless they were specifically hired for weekend work, which we know the OP was not.

                6. meyer lemon*

                  Then again, the totally bizarre way the OP’s boss has chosen to confront them might suggest something about how this workplace operates as a whole. I’d need to know more details about the whole setup before condemning the OP for this workaround. But regardless, it does seem to have a limited shelf life.

          5. LTL*

            Yes, the employer should be giving the employees more advanced notice. But frankly, that doesn’t seem to be something the OP wants. If everyone has advance notice, then multiple people will be vying to take the day off which is exactly what he’s been glad to avoid. OP is knowingly preventing any other member of his team from taking Saturday off.

            I think it would have been reasonable for the team to ask the company for more advance notice. But any request OP makes at this point will have very little weight now. My advice to them would be to start job hunting and/or find a way to start working Saturdays.

          6. Worldwalker*

            Being able to change working conditions without notice is unfair, but it’s not unethical. Doing something underhanded to make your co-workers work all the Saturdays instead of you working any of them is unethical. (AND unfair to those co-workers, who would like to have their Saturdays off, too)

            1. Empress Matilda*

              This. Even if it’s not technically against the rules – it’s certainly selfish. Does OP really think he’s the only one for whom Saturdays would be inconvenient? Obviously not, because he has taken great pains to hide this information about getting out of Saturday shifts. OP knows full well that he’s taking advantage of a loophole and screwing his co-workers in the process.

              And now, instead of owning up to his behaviour of the past THREE YEARS, he’s trying to shift blame to the boss for the way she’s trying to manage it. This is the problem I have here. Obviously there’s a problem in the system that needs to be fixed, and obviously the boss isn’t handling it super well. But OP is using all that as a diversion from his own unethical behaviour, and refusing to take any responsibility for his own actions. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, folks…

            2. WindmillArms*

              >Being able to change working conditions without notice is unfair, but it’s not unethical.

              It is absolutely unethical. It may be legal, but that’s not the same thing.

            3. Starbuck*

              “the employer schedules these Saturday work days with one week notice, when they could actually give employees more time to plan for it”

              This IS unethical, and in some states, maybe even illegal where schedules are required to be provided two weeks in advance (I am sure their are loopholes or something for “urgent unforeseen business needs” or whatever).

            4. Alpacas Are Not Dairy Animals*

              See, that’s exactly the shift in responsibility that creeps in. The OP isn’t “making” their coworkers work all the Saturdays – the employer is. The OP merely escaped the cattle drive.

            5. The Rules are Made Up*

              They aren’t making their coworkers do anything. They’d be working whether or not the OP is. Management is making them work those Saturday’s not OP. And management isn’t even giving OP’s coworkers the option to take off if they want to. People are acting like OP and management share 50/50 blame when it’s really like 20/80. OP isn’t conveniently calling out sick every Saturday shift. They’re using their contracted PTO. Scheduling issues are a management issue.

              1. virago*

                As other people have commented, it would *suck* for OP if the boss and management *did* get their act together regarding scheduling and gave everyone in the office advance notice about the Saturdays that people have to work.

                Then OP would have to compete for those Saturdays off with their co-workers, who might also have have to provide child care at home or would just like a Saturday off once in a while.

                The way things work now, scheduling is dysfunctional, OP knows the One Weird Trick to figuring out which Saturdays to take vacation, and OP’s co-workers wonder Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is going on because *they* have to work Saturdays and OP doesn’t.

          7. TootsNYC*

            Plus the employer schedules these Saturday work days with one week notice, when they could actually give employees more time to plan for it.

            And could set up schedules in advance so that the OP’s system wouldn’t work anymore, because the manager could say, “I can’t give you July 23 off, because I need you to work on Saturday, the 24th. Sorry.”

          8. Starbuck*

            “the employer schedules these Saturday work days with one week notice, when they could actually give employees more time to plan for it”

            Yeah, I agree that this is way worse than anything OP is doing. Are they acting selfishly? Sure, it’s only a system that can work if they keep it a secret for themselves and their coworkers don’t get the benefit. But why doesn’t the person who’s approving their vacation requests have the knowledge ahead of time of which Saturdays will be work days? That’s the company’s poor management, they could solve this problem themselves but aren’t bothering for some reason.

        4. Anonforthisone*

          You are correct that currently, the law favors employers to a ridiculous degree (I would argue). They are perfectly within their rights to change schedules and demand that 15 weeks out of the year you work 6 days a week. There are very few things that are off limits to their demands, it seems, when it comes to what they are legally allowed to do. Many employers even do things they are not legally allowed to do, knowing that your chance of fighting back against them is likely to be small.

          The solution to this is of course to unionize and support politicians with strong labor rights positions. But if your workplace doesn’t unionize (or your union turns out to be useless) or the politicians don’t care to change the laws… is the only solution to accept whatever garbage hand we are dealt?

          Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this guy is handling this well and if I was his coworker, I would be super pissed that he somehow never has to work on a weekend while I am forced to come in. But OP has found a loophole and is capitalizing on it, and that is something employers do all the time… maybe I am just feeling disillusioned today, but I’m kind of glad to see an employee beating the system for once, instead of being beaten by it.

          1. Worldwalker*

            Employers don’t capitalize on loopholes. The rules are written to favor them — they don’t need to. It’s not a loophole; it’s what the loophole is in!

          2. virago*

            I could see my way clear to cheering OP on *if* OP were sharing the wealth — letting other people at work know when Saturday work was coming up so other people could take advantage of this loophole, too.

            But OP is relishing having a benefit that nobody else gets. Sounds like an asshole manager to me, frankly.

        5. Paperdill*

          “That said, I find it really hard to believe that it would be so impossible to find childcare for the weekend. I bet the LW would find a way to do that if the alternative was to get fired.”

          Yes, finding appropriate childcare on a weekend can be incredibly hard and can often mean the difference between having a job and not having one.
          Your comment has angered me so much I can’t even form a proper sentence. Just….ugh!

      2. Darren*

        Well the access isn’t secret, it’s necessary information for work. It just so happens that because he can see incoming/outgoing orders relating to his line (to ensure that he doesn’t double order a part for example, and can order the parts he needs to fulfill those orders which he may need to order weeks in advance) those outgoing orders that are scheduled for a Saturday make it obvious that a given Saturday is a workday. So they aren’t going to be able to remove the access as it’s strictly necessary access for work it’s just it also implies other things.

        I imagine the failure to reject the requests is that there is a policy (similar to the one that gives you Saturday off if you request Friday off) where by the manager doesn’t have full discretion to reject requests and a single day off with more than 2 weeks notice is a very reasonable request so they have no grounds to reject it. After all if they had full discretion they’d just say once they realise Saturday is a work day “oh turns out Saturday is a work day you’ll have to come in as it’s your turn to work it, if it doesn’t make sense for you to have the Friday off anymore I understand and we can cancel or reschedule it.” the policies are no doubt what are tying the managers hands and no doubt causing their frustration.

        I don’t see this ending well (for anyone involved) but I suspect the issue is more with them trying to schedule work on a Saturday but not doing so with a system that enforces fairness. i.e. always rostering some people for Saturday and if they get lucky then they don’t have to do anything if not they end up dealing with it, this would easily provide the ability to prevent avoiding a Saturday. You can take any other day off you want but your rostered Saturday is your rostered Saturday if work comes up that day you are responsible for handling it. Instead they’ve gone with a policy whereby anyone with enough information can indefinitely avoid Saturday work.

        1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

          This a million times.

          The manager sounds clueless, like she’s surprised when those Saturday shifts roll around, instead of planning for them and expecting them. Certainly she has access to the same information that OP does.

          OP’s numbers indicate it’s at least one Saturday a month, which is normal enough that she ought to have a rota worked out by now.

          1. Roscoe*

            Yes, the manager more than likely has access to this info, she just isn’t using it. Similarly, (and I acknowledge, I don’t know the manufacturing industry), couldn’t they as a company just decide to standardize that this will happen every 3rd Saturday and form a rotation that way? It seems the company likes to use the “we didn’t know WHEN it would happen” excuse to exploit their employees, instead of planning ahead. I can’t be mad at OP for looking out for himself here.

            1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

              Eh, the ability of the company to standardize it is highly dependent on where they fall in the manufacturing process, and what their agreements with their clients.

              For example, when I worked in a lens factory, they had a client who only needed a few dozen sets of parts at a time, and didn’t need them until the assemblies the lenses were going in were manufactured. That client paid a premium to be promised that they would be inserted into the manufacturing line up when they called to say everything else was going right with their supply chain, and they’d need those parts within 10 days. Usually that meant overtime and a Saturday working day for people in part of the process, as we didn’t exactly have much spare downtime in our processes.

              1. IndustriousLabRat*

                Exactly this. Coincidentally, I’m in manufacturing and one of our commonly seen bits n bobs is lens retaining rings, AND we are currently having some dramedy over Saturdays.

                For years, those who were hungry for overtime came in on Saturdays. Sometimes more, sometimes fewer; they would just let the supervisor know availability, the supervisor would look at the incoming shelf and say, “cool see you at 630”, and everyone would stay as long or short as it took to push through a project. It went SHOCKINGLY smoothly, for as long as I can remember. Only very rarely, like the end of the fiscal year, would anyone who didn’t WANT overtime have to come in. And we never had issues with too little staffing to run. The guys who like overtime, REALLY like overtime and would happily stay until every piece was finished. Also, our QMS accreditation body [somehow] never batted an eye at our laissez-faire setup.

                Then someone decided to formalize weekend overtime into a set schedule of on/off weekends, with spreadsheets and A Plan and required overtime for folks who could decline it previously. It has thrown the whole system for a loop. Childcare conflicts are popping up like daisies after the rain, people are missing their kids’ baseball games, the resentment at positions exempt from mandatory overtime is bristling, and the folks who loved them some sweet sweet overtime and now can only get half of it, are grumpy. Add to this the fact that being Manufacturing, the length of the Saturday workday, or even whether one will be required, is STILL highly unpredictable- it worked better when the system was; not having a system lol.

                My two cents is that if a plant’s HR is going to expect people to work weekends, it needs to be honest up front about how often is *required* vs how often would be *appreciated*, and what times of the year are non-negotiable and should be blocked off months in advance (such as Fiscal Closing). And to consider extending the promise of generous overtime allowances (or a high cap, whatever one wants to call it) to those who have demonstrated reliability.

                Here, both the LW and his company need to improve their communication- but the LW is really not acting in a way that I would respect if one of my coworkers started pulling that kind of game. I fear that boat has floated. He should acknowledge with whatever grace he can scrape together that this isn’t working out; it was a good run of avoiding Saturdays, it’s about to come to a screeching halt, and things are going to get look-for-a-new-job level awkward. I can only imagine the uncomfortable conversations with the other line workers on the first Saturday back after a long and poorly explained avoidance.

                1. LabTechNoMore*

                  A key difference between your scenario and OP’s is overtime pay for the weekend shifts. (It could be that that’s a given and OP just omitted it, but it’s not stated one way or the other in the letter.)

                  The commentators above criticizing OP are applying a double standard: Either the weekend shifts are exactly the same as the weekday shifts – meaning they are paid at the same rate and PTO can be used exactly as it would for any other shift – or weekend shifts are explicitly less desirable shifts, in which case management needs to offset the people wanting to take PTO during these shifts by compensating at a higher rate.

                  OP is well within their right to take PTO as they want, and if that creates a problem for the manager/team then they need to step up and offset the inconvenience of working weekends with better pay.

          2. Smithy*

            This is what I was thinking. Additionally – without knowing how many vacation days the OP gets a year – using 10-15 days a year to avoid the Saturday shift is a lot to me. I get that the value of a rota is that regardless working weekends aren’t desired, but forever using a vacation day to avoid them also seems like a fairly high price.

            1. Roscoe*

              Yep, I posted this earlier. By doing this, likely OP can never take 2 weeks off in a row, which many of his colleagues can. If that, for him, is a fair enough trade off, then I don’t see why others don’t see it that way too

              1. Smithy*

                Absolutely. If the childcare needs in question are highly specialized, it may be that this is a true need. However, I have to imagine that the OP is essentially leaving money on the table and this is far more a matter of personal preference.

                Ultimately, I wouldn’t prefer to have the majority of my vacation spread out as a number of long weekends – but I also don’t see this the same as someone taking off time around highly desired holidays. The OP is requesting this time 2 weeks and 1 day in advance, so if others were planning to request that time off for other vacations it’s not really robbing them of that opportunity.

                If these types of weekend shifts are happening this regularly and causing this much strife and malcontent with staff – that’s an issue way above what the OP is doing.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Exactly. Lets say the next Saturday that needs to be worked is June 26. No one is stopping ANYONE from requesting June 25 off right now. But, if on Friday, OP sees that June 26 is a day that will be a shipment, and he requests it off, its not like someone who wanted it off was denied. They never asked for it, so OP took it since it was available. The fact is, the company is making it so they are telling people too late for others to request it off. But OP isn’t stopping anyone from taking that day off at any point.

              2. KAZ2Y5*

                I apologize if this posts twice – my phone can not handle this site when there are so many comments. Anyway…the other employees don’t even know that the choice of never working Saturday if you are ok with no long vacation is even an option. If I worked with someone who always seemed to get out of any extra work that everyone else had to do, I would be mad at them too.

            2. Not a Blossom*

              Although technically, by doing it this way, he’s doubling his number of vacation days because those Fridays are getting him out of Saturdays too.

        2. The Rules are Made Up*

          Thank you! I feel like a lot of people are focusing on the leaves and not the trees. OP isn’t accessing anything they aren’t allowed to access. They just put 2 and 2 together and found out when Saturday work days would come up. Their job created this (ridiculous) system and OP’s boss is doing all this sneaking around hiding behind machines and trying to trick them into leaving their computer logged in to catch them instead of focusing on the actual issue (if there is one).

          If this boss had written in the advice would likely be, what is your actual problem? Is it that Saturday’s are short staffed and you need this employee there? If so, say that. But it looks like it just annoys her that OP gamed the system. And if that’s the case then they should change the system.

      3. Asenath*

        OP was originally hired for M-F, and the Saturdays were added later. There’s no mention of management saying at the time that from then on, Saturdays were required. Ideally, OP should have mentioned the original arrangement at the time the Saturday shifts began, but now I think it’s going to be necessary to do so – at a disadvantage, because the manager has figured out that somehow he’s taking them anyway, and she doesn’t seem to think he was hire for M-F.

        1. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

          I don’t understand why everyone is focused this narrative where the employer didn’t tell everyone Saturdays would be required. We are only getting the story from LW’s point of view and that may very well just be one of the details they left out.

          1. TeamPfizer*

            I feel like it is very likely that this is one of those frog in a pot situations, where it started with a “we need everyone to come in and work Saturday this ONE time” and it slowly started escalating from there to more and more Saturdays a year. Chances are OP was okay with it as a one time thing where she could get Grandma to watch the kiddos for the day, but that type of childcare is harder to maintain long term, and he is right, it’s hard to find childcare on the weekend outside of Grandma or Aunt Karen or whatever. Which makes what the company is doing doubly bad, because not only are they giving not enough notice for people to request the Saturday off for legitimate reasons, they are definitely not giving people with child care needs enough time to secure it when necessary. The company needs to start giving as much notice as possible of when these Saturdays are going to happen, which is more than they are giving now because they presumably have access to the same information as OP, and then schedule as few people as is possible for those days if everyone was originally hired to be M-F and these Saturdays are still looked at as being “as needed”.

            1. PT*

              This happened to one of my bosses. She had a F/T job with standard business hours and some outside of business hours coverage. But she also had kids and a spouse who worked in healthcare, so if she got called in while he was at work outside of daycare hours, she had to scramble to find someone else to cover for her. Eventually it all came to a head when the place was short staffed and she got fired for not having 24/7 availability.

      4. Putting the “pro” in “procrastinate”*

        I’m a little surprised that Alison doesn’t say anything about the OP’s lying in response to a direct question from the manager. I know manufacturing is a different work culture, but if I asked one of my reports a specific and direct question (“how did you learn X”), and later found out the answer had been not just an evasion but an outright lie, I’d be … well, surprised, to put it mildly.

        I understand why OP doesn’t want to work Saturdays, but it does seem to be part of the job, and developing a secret system to avoid doing so and then lying about it when asked directly seems like a pretty crappy way to treat one’s teammates. Not that the manager is behaving super-great here, either — like I said, it might just be a different culture from the tech-office culture I’m used to.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And this happens, we can end up with bosses or management that are just not professional. We have choices about how we respond to this.
          OP could have addressed it head on: “Will there be an announcement that Saturdays are mandatory now? Will the announcement include an outline of how the rotation will work? Can we have advanced notice so we can cover childcare, elder-care or whatever else we having going on at home?”
          Not everyone can do this but I would do this in a meeting in front of everyone. These are legit questions.

          Conversely, OP has had all this time to job hunt. If OP knows that this is a losing battle about Saturdays then OP could look elsewhere for work or maybe (long shot) find a child care option. (The latter does not fall down from the sky, I understand that. So this is said with a “leaving no stone unturned” approach to the problem. I’d rather do that, than deal with the drama OP is dealing with.)

          1. Julia*

            “Will there be an announcement that Saturdays are mandatory now?”

            “No announcement; you are just expected to work them.”

            “Will the announcement include an outline of how the rotation will work?”

            “No.”

            “Can we have advanced notice so we can cover childcare, elder-care or whatever else we having going on at home?”

            “No.”

            The reason he didn’t ask these questions is that he thinks he knows the answers: “this is the deal, work Saturdays or you’re out”. It is worth noting that he knows his workplace better than we do, so he may be right that asking wouldn’t have accomplished anything.

            1. Simply the best*

              Okay…but he didn’t know the answers. The answer very well could have been “hmm, that’s a good point, let’s see what we can do to make this fair for everyone.” But now he has a boss that’s gunning for him and who, when they figure out how OP is getting out of Saturday work, has cause to fire him after he lied to their face instead of working with him to find a solution.

              1. Julia*

                That’s true! The issue is that if the answer is “no”, he may be running a risk by even asking. The boss may see him as less committed, or may be on high alert to strategies by him to get out of working Saturdays. Or may let him go because he can’t work Saturdays. It’s a risk assessment.

              2. TyphoidMary*

                I have definitely been labeled a trouble-maker at work for asking those kinds of questions; I still ask them, of course, but let’s just say I understand why so many employees are reluctant to even inquire about better labor practices.

              3. Sunny*

                Yeah, I think everyone is doing this man a disservice to not mention that he is in danger of being let go. His supervisor already seems to be looking for excuses.

        2. Person from the Resume*

          YES!

          LW1 “started” an adversarial relationship at least in relation to this issue by lying. And it’s a syupid lie too because he’s not “just lucky.” But there’s quite possibly a long ongoing adversarial relationship. The LW lied when he said he was lucky and he lied because he knows he’s gaming the system.

          He’s worried if anyone else finds out his secret, he’ll have to start working Saturdays again presumably because they beat him to taking the time off. Frankly that would be fair as I don’t imagine he’s the only worker that would like to not work these Saturdays or who’s life and family plans are disrupted by having to work Saturdays which they find out about less than 2 weeks in advance.

          Neither the LW or the manager are right in this situation.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          I donno. I sort of feel like it’s absurd/incompetent that the supervisor doesn’t already know how this could be figured out? They shouldn’t have had to ask. I mean, I’m not pro-lying, but at the same time, it’s verrrrrrrry surprising to me the supervisor didn’t immediately realize how one could easily accomplish this. So I guess there’s a vicious part of the back of my brain that sorta feels like, if incompetent boss is incompetent, that’s their problem.

          1. EPLawyer*

            Just because the boss is incompetent does not excuse lying to them. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

            1. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

              I’m not even sure the boss is necessarily incompetent. It’s not uncommon for bosses not to know every operational detail of what workers do; it doesn’t necessarily mean they are incompetent. Again, I acknowledge that there are different cultures in different industries, but I expect my reports to be more familiar with the ins and outs of stuff they do every day and that I do only rarely if at all. And I expect that if I say something that reflects a misunderstanding of those details, they will explain to me why I’m wrong — not hide the details from me for the purpose of manipulation.

              Now, I still don’t think the boss is in the right here with all the sneaking around and surveillance — if I thought one of my reports was being sneaky and dishonest, I would ask about it directly. But I can’t see giving an OP a pass on lying to the boss here just because the boss didn’t think of some operational detail that OP knew about.

              1. Simply the best*

                Agree. My boss has no idea how to do my job. Because it’s not her job. She has access to the databases and information that I have access to, but because she doesn’t use them, she wouldn’t know how to find all the information that I have access to. This in no way makes her incompetent.

          2. NotJane*

            “So I guess there’s a vicious part of the back of my brain that sorta feels like, if incompetent boss is incompetent, that’s their problem.”

            I’d be more inclined to agree with this if OP and the supervisor were the only two parties involved (although I’d still argue that it would have been much wiser and more efficient to bring up the childcare issues way back when the Saturdays were first added to the schedule).

            But it’s not just OP vs. their boss. What about OP’s coworkers and team members? It’s hard to imagine they’re not having to pick up the slack to some degree, or at the very least feeling (justifiably, imo) resentful that in 3 years, OP has somehow managed to never work a Saturday. I think it’s fair to assume that being scheduled to work on a Saturday, with such short notice, creates similar scheduling headaches and inconvenience for some/all of OP’s coworkers, yet they still manage to show up for their 1 Saturday/month. And that’s with one week less notice than OP has, and after the PTO request window has closed.

            Yes, OP is working within the parameters of the company’s policy (flawed though it might be), so I suppose they’re not *technically* doing anything *wrong* by gaming the system. But from a moral/ethical standpoint, especially with regard to how it affects fellow employees and coworkers, what they’re doing really rubs me the wrong way. OP could use their knowledge of the system to advocate for more equitable distribution of Saturdays amongst the whole team, for example, but instead they’re hoarding that knowledge for their own benefit and don’t seem particularly concerned with how that might affect others.

            This strikes me as a very, “I’ve got mine, screw you,” mentality, which I find rather unappealing. Add to that the ease with which OP lied to their supervisor, and pride they seem to feel for discovering this loophole and “getting one over”, so to speak, on their boss (and, collaterally, their coworkers), and a picture starts to emerge of who OP is as a person. While this strategy might net results in the short term, it’s not likely to engender the kind of goodwill and trust that are necessary to succeed in the long term (and that goes for professional and personal relationships).

            Ultimately, either someone in the company is going to figure out the loophole and close it, or the supervisor is going to stop approving OP’s PTO on Fridays (or both). And then what? That’s the real question OP should be asking. “How do I find childcare on short notice once my employer figures out how I’ve been scheming their PTO policies for 3 years?”

            And my answer to that would be: Take all of the time and energy you’ve been putting into the scheming and redirect it towards finding childcare for 1 day/month.

        4. Rusty Shackelford*

          I don’t disagree with this, but I also see that the company knows when a Saturday shift will be required, and doesn’t announce it until it’s too late for anyone to request off. So I don’t think they’re doing anything to inspire honesty in their employees.

      5. pancakes*

        Investigated how? The supervisor has already had an IT team spend hours reviewing OP’s computer, and has been lurking around watching OP. If they wanted to escalate the investigatory work that’s already been done they can’t crawl into OP’s mind and analyze OP’s thought process about whether or not to communicate the loophole to other team members. I can see why people might think it’s a bit unethical for OP to keep their knowledge of the loophole to themselves, but there isn’t going to be an investigation of whether or not the employer considers that unethical. It’s a matter of opinion, and it’s not an opinion the employer has any reason whatsoever to delve into.

        I agree with Alison’s advice that OP should’ve talked to the supervisor about working Saturdays from the very beginning, and is almost certainly going to have to talk to them at some point.

        1. Corel*

          This leads me to think that the manager is not the brightest bulb. I mean – it should be really simple to look at what someone has access to as part of their job and infer what they can infer. If the OP’s manager has gone to these kind of lengths playing super spy and they still can’t figure it out? Yipes. And it took them three years to catch this pattern? They must be thick as a brick.

          And honestly, that combo of paranoid and dull-witted probably goes a long way to explaining why the surprise Saturdays, at a week’s notice, with no extra incentives are happening. There are a gazillion better, easier ways to handle that. But manufacturing and warehouse middle ranks are kind of infested with swinging-cod “respect my authoritah” types who are capable of getting trapped for a month inside a large paper bag.

          I’m a bad person, I guess, but I’m cheering the OP on. Good story, dude!

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Yeah, all my empathy for this supervisor is used up when it took them three years to cotton on that something may be amiss, and instead of telling LW1 “Hey, you can’t keep skipping Saturdays, these requests will be denied.” they’ve decided to play Inspector Gadget.

            I was a little surprised LW1 wasn’t being accused of witchcraft.

          2. Happy Lurker*

            I have a friend who’s prior employer also required everyone to work random Saturdays. About 10-15 each year. Wanna bet which ones they are…take a quick look at the US federal holidays. Those are the Saturdays they work. Monday holidays, you get to work Saturday. Oh, look you had Thursday off for Thanksgiving, come on in on Friday AND Saturday. NO OVERTIME. The company is having a serious issue keeping good help. Happy 4th of July, you get to work the following Saturday. It negates the holiday!
            As people noted above OP probably has 10 long weekends a year instead of 2 sold weeks off. OP probably has the better deal if their employer is anything like my friends.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              At my old job, if we got a weekday off, we were right back in there the Saturday after to make up production. Everyone hated it. They too struggled to keep good help.

        2. Lecturer*

          I wish people would stop calling it a loophole! Finding a loophole rather than going through the usual position of dealing with management is inexcusable. I’m not going to remove money from people’s bank account ‘just because I found a loophole’

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think analyzing the workplace parts-ordering schedule to ascertain when weekend work will be required is at all comparable to stealing money out of someone’s bank account. Not calling this a loophole wouldn’t make that an apt comparison.

      6. Momma Bear*

        Way back when OP first started getting scheduled for weekends was when the conversation should have happened, at the very least extra head’s up to secure childcare. Many daycares do not operate on weekends and not everyone has a relative that could help. If there was no discussion when the schedule changed, that’s on the company/manager.

        I don’t blame OP for exploiting a loophole via PTO request (and approval – the manager is accepting them!), but I do think that this is not going to be sustainable much longer. The manager is onto them and is actively trying to track them. I think the manager is ridiculous and it should never have gotten to this point of cat and mouse games. But that said, I do think OP needs to discuss their unavailability with the manager. Maybe next time say something like, “If I did have to work a Saturday, it would be a hardship because of childcare” and propose some sort of workaround, not just for OP, but anyone who may need a head’s up about a Saturday. Sounds like to everyone else it’s a surprise and it shouldn’t be. There’s a company to worker disconnect.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed, OP found a loophole that lets them game the system. I’m not as fully worked up, it sounds as if they took their job because it was a weekday only job – and now the weekends are being added. They took a weekday only job to accommodate childcare.

      I will agree though that the department manager here is acting in a way that is not going to win them any friends at all – hence the IT dept blabbing about what was up.

      I just don’t predict this ending well for anyone involved.

      1. Maybe it’s just me*

        The IT person who babbled is letter writer’s brother in law. While I agree the manager isn’t handling this the right way, I don’t think the manager’s actions would have changed the IT person’s response.

        Also organization needs change so if letter writer can’t work on Saturdays then they need to explore their options such as having a discussion with their family etc.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          Guess I was thinking the BIL wasn’t involved in the data scrubbing/combing and found out because manager blabbed to BIL in the first place.

          I did say I don’t think this ends well for anyone though. None of this passes the sniff test as some others are putting it. There really does seem to be an immense amount of sneaking around to avoid a conversation (unless OP tried to have a conversation when this first came up and was shot down immediately).

      2. Snow Globe*

        I’m thinking of this from the perspective of the LW’s coworkers. If I was working a Saturday every other month and one of my coworkers hadn’t worked a Saturday in 3 years, I’d be pissed – at the LW. It’s not clear if the coworkers have figured out what the manager has figured out, but they will soon enough, and it won’t be pleasant for the LW.

        1. pancakes*

          Surely a lot of people would be pissed off about that, but it would be pretty pointless to stew in it. Everyone who doesn’t want to work Saturdays should be talking to higher-ups about not wanting to work Saturdays. The letter writer is not the right person to have those conversations with. Benefiting from this loophole doesn’t make them responsible for scheduling.

          1. twocents*

            That there exists a loophole that LW had special access to exploit (given that he orders parts and it doesn’t sound like all his coworkers do) is very likely to result in coworkers being mad at him and the company. A breezy “well that’s pointless for them” isn’t going to make LW’s work environment more pleasant.

            1. pancakes*

              The LW isn’t keeping any of their coworkers from putting in vacation requests for the Saturdays they don’t want to work, and isn’t keeping them from having conversations about scheduling with higher-ups. I don’t doubt that a number of them would be inclined to spin their wheels seething at the LW rather than doing any of those things because that’s how a lot of people are, but that’s their choice as well. I’m just saying it wouldn’t be a good choice.

              1. EPLawyer*

                This is like the coworker who because of seniority managed to snag all the days before and after holidays. So everyone else had to work. Here OP has an advantage no one else has — advance notice of the Saturdays being worked. So he can get his request in. Everyone else is SOL because they don’t get advance notice. OP specifically said he doesn’t want coworkers finding out because then they would do it too, i.e. a level playing field.

                You wanna bet if OP ever needs a break from a coworker, he isn’t getting one. Then will complain about how his coworkers are so unfair, they help others out but not him when he needs it.

                1. pancakes*

                  I don’t at all disagree that OP’s coworkers aren’t going to be inclined to give them a break in any way. The coworkers should nonetheless be asking higher-ups for advance notice about Saturdays, not counting on someone to find a loophole and clue them in on it.

                2. Nicotene*

                  That was the letter I thought of also. There was someone who booked all the “best” holidays immediately leaving none for the coworkers; the process by which they did this was technically legit, but Alison still said they shouldn’t do that. OP is actually a little worse since he’s abusing access to a system that presumably others don’t even have.

                  Note that I’m sympathetic to OP and actually surprised the company hasn’t created a better and more fair system here.

              2. Person from the Resume*

                The LW has advanced knowledge they don’t have. They need to put in leave FOR FRIDAY 2 weeks in advance. (They can’t put in a request for Saturday at all since it is not a normal work day.) They don’t know that they will be required to work a Saturday until less than 2 weeks out so by then it already too late.

                The LW is keeping the advanced knowledge to himself so he can use it for his own gain.

                1. Roscoe*

                  Do we know for sure that none of the other employees have access to this information? I don’t know that its clear. They may not have put 2 and 2 together to figure out the pattern, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have access to the same knowledge. They may just not be using it.

                2. So they all rolled over and one fell out*

                  LW specifically states that the rest of the team doesn’t have access to the info further than 1 week out (too late to put in a vacation request).

                3. LaylaV*

                  Exactly. Essentially, OP’s co-workers need to put in a PTO request for ALL Fridays before ALL Saturdays they have an important, unmissable event. Since, unlike OP, they don’t know which Saturdays those are, I imagine they would potentially burn through PTO pretty quickly making sure they don’t miss kids’ birthdays, sports tournaments, etc. Not only that, but most of those Fridays would probably be unnecessary, as the majority of Saturdays are actually off. People saying that OP is choosing a smattering of Fridays for PTO while his co-workers have the option to have two weeks of PTO are flat-out wrong; without OP’s advance information, his co-workers actually need to take off MORE Fridays than OP does.

              3. Sparkles McFadden*

                But the LW isn’t putting in for the Saturdays off. The LW is putting in for Fridays off based on production schedule information that other coworkers might not be able to access. I get that it’s a clever idea, but LW’s coworkers will not be pleased. I wouldn’t be surprised if the manager started looking at things based on discussions with the coworkers.

              4. Not a Blossom*

                “The LW isn’t keeping any of their coworkers from putting in vacation requests for the Saturdays they don’t want to work.” Except we don’t know how many people are required to work, so those requests might be turned down if they aren’t weeks early. Haven’t you ever had something random but important pop up where you’d like to be able to request off just a couple days in advance?

                1. PhysicsTeacher*

                  Per the letter, vacation requests have to be in 2 weeks in advance or they will not be approved. LW #1 is putting in their requests 2 weeks and 1 day in advance. They are literally doing it the latest possible while still getting it approved. If anyone puts in a request a couple days in advance, it will be denied by management no matter what LW does. So they really aren’t preventing any of their coworkers from taking any particular days off.

              5. KAZ2Y5*

                The coworkers have no idea which Saturdays (or Fridays) they even need to request off to not have to work on a random Saturday. LW is the only one who knows in time. Management and the LW are both acting crappy and the other coworkers are the ones stuck with it.

          2. MissBaudelaire*

            I agree. If you don’t want to work Saturdays, you should be taking it up with your supervisor, not scowling and scoffing because someone else doesn’t work Saturdays. LW1 doesn’t write the schedule, didn’t make the policy about not telling everyone in time to request it off if need be. That was all higher ups.

            I am sure and certain that coworkers have gone to the Supervisor and said “But LW1 doesn’t woooooork!” instead of worrying about themselves. Supervisor is working on trying to bust LW1 instead of taking it to *her* higher ups to get a roster or work out a policy about ‘if that’s your Saturday, you’re working it, no cuts no buts no coconuts’.

            What was it we learned in school? Worry about yourself? Instead of getting upset because LW1 is using his vacation time and found a loophole, get upset that it’s apparently a suprise! Saturday, not on a roster, and they’re just shrugging at you about it.

            1. LTL*

              I’m wondering what LW’s relationship with her team is like beyond this. I agree that their colleagues should be going to the higher ups.

              LW wants this information to stay hidden so that she can take Saturdays off without competition with her team members for the PTO days. LW’s team doesn’t know this, all they know is that she never works Saturdays, so one could argue that ire towards the LW would be misplaced (I don’t personally agree with that but can see the logic). However, the fact that LW is doing this makes me wonder if she has a general tendency to focus on herself over others which her team has picked up on. In which case, ire towards her would be more justified.

              Also, if LW is taking Saturdays off, his teammates are probably picking up the slack in his absence.

              1. pancakes*

                If one person focusing on their own preferences can throw everyone else’s schedule off, management has designed a bad scheduling system and it should be changed. It isn’t LW’s job to make it fairer for everyone.

                Commenter Forrest put this very well in an earlier comment below: “You’re asking a worker to show more consideration for their colleagues than the employer does, despite the fact that the employer has far more power and far more options in this situation.”

                1. LTL*

                  No, I’m not. Management has messed up big time. But management isn’t the one who wrote in, so I can’t provide them with feedback.

                  Management should care more. They bear more responsibility but that doesn’t mean LW bears none.

                2. Name Required*

                  Not only to show more consideration for their colleagues than the company does, but to also prioritize his coworkers over his family. It’s ridiculous. OP, keep on keeping on.

              2. MissBaudelaire*

                And they might be mad about it, LW1 doesn’t say, so I admit that I am speculating.

                And LW1 might have a tendency to focus on themselves. …Although, there was another comment here that resonated with me. Doing something miserable just because everyone else has to do this miserable thing isn’t actually fixing the problem. (I am paraphrasing.) And I don’t know that I feel like it’s the employee’s job to make their lives significantly more difficult for ‘the team’.

                We’re saying they’re probably picking up slack, but we don’t know. We don’t know if they have enough so that if someone is taking PTO, they do or don’t have to stay longer or someone got called in or what have you. That is all speculation.

                If someone is getting denied PTO because LW1 is taking it, I do feel it is up to the management to go “Hey, LW, you’ve had all these Saturdays off, so it just isn’t your turn. Request denied.” and if it goes by seniority and LW has more seniority, that is their policy. I don’t agree with it, I also didn’t write that policy and don’t work there.

                The real problem is they’re posting it so late that no one is supposed to be able to get PTO. And they’re doing that to be sketchy and then pearl clutching when they think someone else is being sketchy.

                And on that note, if LW1’s coworkers don’t like them… you aren’t required to like your coworkers. Really! You don’t have to! It’s okay if you don’t! I’m sure that it will bite LW1 in the butt sometime if they don’t, and that’s the risk that LW1 has to take. If they’re fine with that, then they are.

            2. Been There*

              I would be fine working some Saturdays if all my coworkers are working some Saturdays. But I would be very angry at the one coworker who found a way to not work any Saturdays at all, because that is just not collegial.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                Why would you be angry at that coworker and not management for letting that happen?

                1. LunaLena*

                  Why not both? Personally I think both management and OP are in the wrong here, but I think it’s likely management simply has not thought this through (and since no one seems to have complained, probably assume all is well), whereas OP is deliberately choosing to take advantage and trying to keep it that way for their own personal gain.

                2. MCL*

                  Both. Everyone sucks here. Management for their sucky system, OP for exploiting the benefits of something they have access to (unclear if others do) and thus getting advantages that others on their team don’t have, and then lying about it instead of having a real conversation about making scheduling changes that could benefit everyone.

            3. virago*

              OP’s co-workers have grounds to be pissed that OP never works Saturdays *and* that Saturday work is a surprise.

              I hope OP’s co-workers *do* start asking for more advance notice of Saturday work. I presume that only a certain number of people can take PTO on a given day — now OP will have to compete for those days off, which means that having a brother-in-law who works in the IT department won’t be OP’s ace in the hole anymore.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                He wasn’t getting that hint that he might work a Saturday from his BIL. It was because he had to do certain ordering of parts/materials for his job. BIL just told him that Spy Lady Supervisor requested to know what he was looking at, probably to see if he was tapping into things he wasn’t meant to.

        2. Roscoe*

          Why would you be pissed at them and not management though? Management is approving these Fridays off. And he is taking his earned PTO. It seems to me the person to be mad at is management for not having better foresight to just staff people regularly on Saturdays, and possibly giving them Monday’s off too or something like that, as opposed to just saying to everyone “surprise, you have to work next Saturday!”.

          This is the problem with American work forces. We get mad at each other for figuring out ways around bad policies, instead of management for enacting bad policies.

          1. MissBaudelaire*

            Seriously. Be angry at management for not sorting it out over three years.

            When we all blame each other instead of management, we play into their hands. And that works out perfectly for them and perpetuates shitty policies.

          2. GothicBee*

            Agreed! This is so clearly a management problem, especially when you consider how the manager is handling the situation with the LW. LW may not be taking the hit with their coworkers, but that’s hardly something I blame them for.

        3. EmKay*

          Sure, but…. so? I’m not about to make my life more difficult (childcare, half weekends, all of it) for my coworkers. Mayyyybe I’d do it for my employer…..

          ….. if they paid me enough. This is not the case for OP.

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

          I think in the coworkers’ position (given the info in the letter) my thought process would be something like this: “OP hasn’t worked a Saturday in 3 years – how are they able to always predict in advance when it will be (or are they just not being required to work them) – we only get told a week in advance – someone must know further in advance than that, and is tipping off OP.”

          I read it that OPs ‘scope’ (in terms of access to this system) is just to enter orders for components, but the system itself allows viewing of shipment dates etc (which OP doesn’t need to use as part of their actual job). Probably someone else like a production planner uses that functionality but the access control isn’t “granular” like that. Outbound shipments (which OP is using to figure this out) are not part of the scope of their job — this was pretty much explicitly stated. I’m leaning towards “OP misusing access” actually and the co-workers probably have figured out the OP is on to ‘something’ but perhaps if they are not doing parts ordering they don’t know what other information that system has available in it.

          Unclear if the manager knows about that either – it seems more likely to me that OP ‘discovered’ this by digging around rather than this being openly known.

    3. BuildMeUp*

      I agree. The boss is acting bizarrely, but the level of secrecy and planning the OP has gone to rather than just have a conversation is not great.

      1. Rachel*

        Honestly though, I think I would do the same if I were the boss! OP is gaslighting her: there is no statistical way that he just happened to take off every Friday before a working Saturday, so the OP is lying about SOMETHING. Her being suspicious and doing everything in her power to figure out what the heck is going on is completely warranted!

        I respect the OP’s hustle and would absolutely look for the same opportunity were I in his shoes, but I also wouldn’t be so weirded-out if my manager was suspicious of me when I am acting on the sly to get out of work for years.

        1. River Song*

          I assumed the boss thinks OP is hacking into something they aren’t suppose to be able to see, which is why boss got IT involved and is lurking watching. Maybe not a great way to handle it, but sort of understandable?

          1. John Smith*

            I don’t think it’s understandable at all. This manager has wasted corporate time on a witch hunt, snooping around and even asking an employee to leave themselves logged on so she can access his account? The last one alone is enough for a dismissal where I live. I’ve come across this type of person many a time (and work with a few). This manager isn’t fit to be one.

            1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

              That varies, depending on the type of work. When I was still working, my computer had the main public service email address for our department. If I wasn’t in the office, whether it was a break, lunch, a sick day, or vacation, my co-worker or our supervisor needed to check my computer for incoming emails. It would have been grounds for dismissal (or at least a write-up) if I had deliberately logged out and made that computer inaccessible.

              1. IT Manager*

                That’s still terrible practice by your employer.

                Modern email systems have shared mailboxes where every authorised user can log in as themselves, but still access the shared mailbox to do what they need to do.

                By requiring someone stay logged in when they’re not there – you’ve given up any accountability. If IT prove “user abc123 did sackable thing X”, but user abc123 is on holiday – you have no idea who was responsible.

                1. allathian*

                  Yeah. I work for the government, although not in the US. Getting someone fired for performance-related reasons is very difficult by US standards. But one of the grounds for at least immediate suspension without pay pending an investigation is leaving your computer accessible by other people. You can avoid getting fired if there are extenuating circumstances, like coercion from someone higher up in the org chart. Asking to use someone else’s login is similarly grounds for suspension without pay.

                  But we’re supposed to lock our computers whenever we let them out of our sight.

                2. PT*

                  And a lot of companies don’t use modern systems like that. They have crappy IT policies where the Front Desk computer has common user FrontDesk with a common email frontdesk@porridgeco.com shared by 25 employees and everyone in the llama department is using the database login of Nicky123 even though Nicky left four years ago because IT has been ignoring the help tickets to create new accounts for two years because they have a policy that only salaried employees can have a database login but the llama department’s employees are all hourly due to some weird quirk in the budget and IT says that the llama department has to restructure their budget before they can have database logins, but Great-Grandboss won’t restructure the budget and also doesn’t have enough pull with IT to get the logins so everyone is just using Nicky123.

              2. Rusty Shackelford*

                It *does not* vary here. The LW says leaving his computer unlocked, with him logged in, is against the company’s policy.

            2. Czhorat*

              But… OP really DID lie about how they know when they’re assigned Saturday.

              It’s not a “witch hunt” if there IS real – even if minor – malfeasance. If OP doesn’t work Saturdays that means someone else has to.

              Is the manager handling it perfectly? Not at all. Is the OP a liar? In this case yes.

              It’s hard to manage people you can’t trust.

              1. Nicotene*

                Yeah, the manager ASKED OP how they know; OP lied. So the manager logically suspects that OP is doing something shady. They should have focused on approaching this a different way but it’s not a “witch hunt.”

            3. hbc*

              She’s going about it terribly, but this is no witch hunt–the employee is lying to her face about what he’s doing to bypass the fair assignment of work.

            4. Not So NewReader*

              I agree. Even if the manager’s hands are tied in terms of how she can respond, she can gather examples of what is happening and go to her boss to talk it over and plan a course of formal action.

              I had a problem with several people just taking random time off suddenly. I announced that we would be tracking (paper trail) time off requests even if it was just an hour or two in the middle of the day. I know this sounds horrible, but the situation was out of control and we were NOT denying the requests. My bosses forced me to announce this new plan. I added my own words where I said, “If you take time off really think about it and really ask yourself do I need this time or can I find another workaround.” I also talked about being fair to one’s cohorts. (The amount of people taking time off was crazy high.)

              Well the requests dropped, although we still had some requests. Because there was such a huge change in behavior across the group we never did anything with the tracking. We kept insisting on using paper requests but the requests all sat in a drawer and ignored. We never went back to the former problem.

            5. MissBaudelaire*

              The ‘leave yourself logged in’ made me uncomfortable. What if the manager did something sketchy and it was on LW1’s account? Then he looks shady. That’s why we weren’t meant to have people working on our register when I worked retail.

              1. John Smith*

                Exactly, but I suspect the manager wouldn’t do that – she’d be looking for evidence to support whatever is going on in her head.

                Just reading some replies to my comment above….what the OP did/said was not ideal, but I bet they’re in that situation because of, frankly, a really crap manager. I’d suggest the managers’ actions are indicative of why the OP has not been able/willing to address the issue of weekend working directly from the start. Any decent manager would have just sat down with the OP and have a an open, constructive conversation and try to work something out rather than go on….yes….a witch hunt (or drumhead, if you prefer)

            6. Canadian Yankee*

              The manager might have been engaged in a witch hunt, but only because OP essentially said, “I am a witch who can magically predict the future.”

              1. pancakes*

                It’s not magic at all, though! It’s quite simple. The questions are why management wants to keep people in the dark about it, and why aren’t OP’s coworkers asking for more advance notice.

                1. Insert Clever Name Here*

                  Do we know OP’s coworker’s AREN’T asking for advance notice? Do we know they haven’t asked and been told “sorry y’all, we don’t have the ability to tell you until week of”? If that’s in the letter, I missed it.

                  My management doesn’t know our systems as well as I do, and I assume that’s the case for most places, so it seems solidly in the realm of possibility that the management hasn’t figured out that you can predict the Saturday work date by checking a seemingly unrelated date.

                2. Sparkles McFadden*

                  Yes, management should be more transparent here and should be arranging things fairly. Everyone should have the same information and have the same opportunity to request time off. I’d certainly say that if the manager had written in, and say she’s acting unprofessionally.

                  But..the manager didn’t write in. The LW who wrote in is the guy who is about to get caught using information his coworkers might not be able to access (we can’t tell from the letter) and the LW asked “How can I get my manager to stop harassing me without telling everyone else what I’ve been doing because I don’t want them to get the Saturdays off too?” Thus the advice is: “Arrange child care because you’re about to get found out.” The smart thing to do would be for LW to use his method to arrange for child care in advance and just stop asking for the Fridays off. That might not help because the manager doesn’t trust the LW now.

            7. Momma Bear*

              Many companies have an explicit policy of logging out or locking your computer when you leave your desk and it can be a fireable offense not to do so. The boss might prefer to have OP logged in for their own snooping but if I were OP, I’d log off. Otherwise it’s compounding the access issue of giving someone else their login/allowing someone whatever network permissions they’ve been given by IT. And boss might set up OP for worse than is actually going on.

              All of which boils down to Management doesn’t trust OP and OP doesn’t trust Management. It’s a game of chicken. Who is going to blink first?

        2. Bilateralrope*

          If I was managing OP, I wouldn’t be snooping around. I’d give OP a simple choice: Tell me how OP is predicting those Saturdays in advance or face disciplinary action.

          That should deal with the problem much quicker.

          1. LavaLamp*

            Disciplinary action for what though? If it was that big of a deal, just deny the vacation requests.

            1. Bilateralrope*

              For refusing to honestly answer work related questions from the manager.

              For concealing information management needs to fix a problem with the running of the business.

              Sure, denying the leave requests will work for OP. But when one employee is somehow accessing information that management doesn’t think they should have, the obvious question is: Who else will be able to access what other information by the same method ?

              1. LavaLamp*

                But this is info the OP actually needs for their job. It’s not nefarious hacking into anything.

              2. EmKay*

                “Tell me how you’ve been gaming the system or you are fired”

                That’s not going to work out well.

          2. WoodswomanWrites*

            I completely agree with this. The letter writer directly lied when the manager asked how they managed to avoid working a Saturday in three years. I think that everyone involved in this situation is not managing it well. There’s an inequitable system for Saturday work, the manager is sneaking around, and the letter writer lied in response to a direct question from their supervisor.

            1. Klio*

              They didn’t lie. Their lucky guess it’s just based on better information. There could be delays or speed ups after all so the Saturday date could move to Friday or Monday.

              They apparently want an on call system but don’t want to pay for it. So the Saturday requests are all on short order instead of a fixed schedule throughout the year. I wonder what they are paying for the Saturday work and whether they pay at all.

              We have an on call system, my manager has to inform us at least one month ahead of any weekend we have to be available and potentially come in (if we have come to in, we get paid our hourly rate, if we just keep ourself available, we get a flat fee, and not just coming in because you feel like it, you have to be requested to come in for a business reason). Fortunately we draw up a plan a lot longer in advance, so unless something unexpected comes up you can make long term arrangements.

              1. Xavier Desmond*

                But the OP did lie. Their manager asked how they were managing not to work Saturdays and they said they were just lucky when this is untrue

                1. Klio*

                  They were lucky that the information they have access to is a very good prediction of the future. Not all systems are that good.

                2. Myrin*

                  @Klio, I really don’t think it helps the OP any to frame it the way you’re doing.

                  This is not the case of a “lucky guess” by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked in production but at least where I am, the types of “speed ups” or “delays” you’re imagining simply aren’t a thing unless, IDK, the factory burns down (a situation I actually encountered with a supplier two years ago).

                  Let’s say OP’s team produces funny llama hats. Those are somewhat elaborate such that only one can be made per day, but they do take less than one full work day to be produced, meaning that if you start working on them in the morning, they will be ready to be shipped in the afternoon. So when OP can see on her company’s intranet that a shipment from her company to Llama Clown School is scheduled for Saturday, that necessarily means that her production line will have to work that Saturday. Because funny llama hats are always made the same day they get shipped out.

                  There is no guessing involved. There is no luck involved. It’s how that kind of thing works.

                3. hbc*

                  Klio, calling this a “lucky guess” is like a kid saying, “someone gave me this cookie” because he gave it to himself when he took it from the jar. I’d be ticked if an employee was bypassing the obvious intention of this system, on the fence about firing them for the lie, and they’d be gone the minute they tried to defend “lucky guess” as anything but obfuscation.

                4. Roscoe*

                  I mean, they lied in the sense that they didn’t give all the information. But it really is a lucky guess.

                  I’ve learned how to predict certain things my boss is going to do after working for them long enough. But, I don’t know for a fact that those things are going to happen, even if I can guess with some sense of certainty.

                  So it isn’t a “completely random” lucky guess, but he also doesn’t know 100% for a fact that this will make work on saturday necessary either. Yes, its semantics, but I think its more seeing a pattern and saying “well, there is a good chance this will happen this day, so I’m going to avoid it”.

                5. calonkat*

                  Myrin, my big problem with this situation is that management has access to the SAME information as OP, they could announce 2 weeks in advance when a Saturday workday was coming up to allow people to get childcare arranged etc, and disallow vacation those days. This is incredibly bad planning to treat the future as unknowable when they do KNOW what is coming up.

                6. Myrin*

                  @calonkat, I don’t quite know why this is addressed at me because I actually agree with you completely and I don’t think I said anything to the contrary. My comment was specifically a response to Klio’s “well, OP is only guessing”, not the company’s (very bad) handling of literally everything about this situation.

                7. Chris too*

                  Myron, I’m going to disagree with you a bit – I’ve spent time working on, or with work scheduled around, a production line and the time things would take wasn’t necessarily predictable. I think the difference is whether the inputs are manufactured or biological.

              2. ceiswyn*

                That is not the generally understood meaning of ‘lucky guess’, and more importantly, however you slice it, the OP is clearly refusing to provide the information the manager requested and is entitled to.

                If you are splitting logical hairs with your manager at work in order to avoid giving them the information you know they want, you are DOING IT WRONG.

                What the OP is trying to do: hide information from her manager because she doesn’t want her manager to know how she is evading the manager’s scheduling. This is not ethical.
                What the OP has achieved: making her manager think that she is doing something even more unethical.

                No part of this is a good idea in the long term.

                1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

                  I’m sorry, where in the OP’s employment contract does it state management is entitled to knowing their thought processes?

                  Oh, right, they don’t have one, so it doesn’t.

                  Everyone needs to get off the high horse of “management has a right to get an answer simply because they asked”. We see that abused far too much here (managers asking about finances, family issues, etc).

                2. ceiswyn*

                  @Cthulhu’s Librarian
                  The manager didn’t really ask the OP about their thought processes, though. The manager asked the OP how they were getting information about work events. The manager is entitled to know that.

              3. ap*

                yes! this organization is terrible to its employees regarding Saturday work. Having the regular practice be that you only find out you’re scheduled too late to request it off is horrible. What if you’ve got a family trip? A family’s birthday party? Booked your kids’ dental appointments? How you can even reasonably join a rec league or take a Saturday college class if you never know when you’re going to have to miss it?

                The employer has it within their power to change this situation, either with an oncall schedule or by planning and communicating better. I don’t fault the employee for using their smarts to navigate such a one sided system.

                1. Klio*

                  I suspect the employer is keeping the whole you have to work Saturdays thing as an informal thing. If they formalized it, they’d probably have to pay more for it. Which is also the reason that supervisor can’t come out and say Work Saturday. Saturday is not supposed to be a workday at that company, they have to rely on someone agreeing to come in. It’s just that it’s been going on so long that everybody forgot that Saturday is not actually a workday.

                2. MissBaudelaire*

                  +1

                  If they want people on Saturdays, I can get it. Don’t be so funky about scheduling people. There’s no need to wink and giggle. If you need people on Saturdays, have a meeting, write a schedule for it, and that’s that on that.

                  I was a part time employee at my last job, amongst four. Part timers had to work on Saturdays and some Sundays, depending how backed up we were. Fine. Except my boss made promises to the others and not me, so I worked two Saturdays a month and they did not.

                  I ended up reading my union contract, it said a part timer only had to work twenty hours a week. I was allowed to restrict my schedule to that. So I did. He needed me during the week otherwise he didn’t have enough people on the floor, so I never had to work a Saturday again. I found a ‘loophole’. I didn’t care.

                3. pancakes*

                  It’s not actually informal at all if the employees have been working on Saturdays, though. Even if the employer isn’t having them clock in or keep timesheets or paying them for Saturdays, there will be other evidence that they have in fact been working Saturdays, even if it’s “only” a pile of testimony to that effect from employees and a pile of electricity bills showing the production line in use.

                4. iambriandammit*

                  Welcome to manufacturing.

                  It’s amazing to me how many people just don’t understand manufacturing here. First, OPs boss is not a manager, she’s a supervisor. She makes sure all the jobs are covered at the beginning of shift, keeps attendance, makes sure people get bathroom breaks (because the job doesn’t stop just because you need to go to the bathroom), and answers to an Actual manager (capital A because I don’t really mean actual) when there’s a problem. There is no trust between the two, and no, I am not telling you how I know what you should damn well know yourself.

                  The trust issues run both ways. This is shown by the fact the company clearly knows weeks in advance they are working Saturdays and won’t tell them until… the place I worked would post Saturdays on the Wednesday prior sometimes, even though their suppliers absolutely had to know several weeks ahead. Someone above mentioned what if you arrange time with your family/, or have a class? But that’s the point, they want you off balance and in their pocket. They will treat workers like children, and in response grown adults will respond in kind.

                  Welcome to a truly dysfunctional work environment.

                5. pancakes*

                  Brian, why don’t the workers unionize in situations like that? Of course the employer wants them in its pocket, but they don’t have to consent to climb in it.

                6. iambriandammit*

                  Pancake (I’m can’t seem to reply directly to you). That was a union shop I was talking about, one of the big 3 automotive companies. I would bet the OP was a union shop too. There’s a very us vs. them attitude in union shops that I read in the OPs letter.

          3. Not So NewReader*

            Yep, agreeing with you Bilateralrope. I think I’d go with, “Since your Friday off requests always land next to a Saturday you have to work, going forward I am denying all Friday off requests from you. I don’t need to know how you are doing this. What I actually need is for you to carry your share of the workload which includes Saturdays. Since you have not worked a Saturday in x time, you have had more than your share of Saturdays off and all further requests will be denied.”

            OP can’t be the only one dealing with care-giving conflicts and other conflicts. I am not sure why OP’s childcare concerns tops Bob’s or Jane’s or Sue’s childcare concerns.

            1. traffic_spiral*

              I agree. If it’s actually an issue, the manager should deal with it head on – not try this “School Principal From Ferris Bueller” nonsense. I suspect (like others have mentioned) that the manager (and the company in general) is trying to screw their employees out of proper “on call” compensation but still get them to be on call. That’s why she can’t just come out and say “you need to be available saturdays,” because then she’d have to pay him for it.

              So, yeah. No sympathy for the boss, she both sucks at being a decent person and sucks at being a competent bad guy.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                Precisely.

                The company wants to milk the system about being on call, and LW1 found a way around it.

          4. Spero*

            I agree with this. When the OP claimed luck, the responsible thing for the manager to do would have been to respond, “Frankly I don’t believe it’s just luck. The pattern is too strong here. I believe you have accessed some information that tells you the Saturdays in advance, and if you can’t explain that to me I’m going to have to assume your access was inappropriate and proceed on that assumption. Also, the next Friday off request you put in will be denied if it’s a day we have Saturday work. This pattern will not continue either way, but it’s up to you whether you come clean or this taints the trust I previously had in you.”

            The OP’s answer was evasive. It was the manager’s choice to respond to evasiveness with evasiveness of her own, rather than by assertively confronting that evasiveness. Now it’s gotten to a ridiculous level when it could have just been ‘a difficult conversation’ moment.

            1. Paulina*

              OP’s talking about their work supervisor, though, and it doesn’t seem like this person has the ability to do many of these other things being suggested, like deny leave requests, see the same systems that OP can, push back to upper management about how Saturdays are and aren’t announced, etc. It sounds like she’s just another employee who has supervisory authority when the work is being done, so she doesn’t have the level of management control needed to sort this out. She just knows that when she shows up to run a Saturday shift, OP is always off. She might have a chance of figuring this out if she thought about what makes OP and the aspects of his job unique, but it doesn’t seem like she’s considered that.

              Wonder if she reads AAM.

          5. John Smith*

            Honestly, I think OP deserves a promotion. If the OP’s figuring this thing out – seemingly management are oblivious of how the organisation works – OP may be better off in another role that will benefit herself as well as the organisation. Really….. This manager is toxic. She doesn’t even understand how the organisation works. And I’m surrounded by enough toxic managers to recognise one.

            1. virago*

              OP didn’t figure it out — her brother in law, who works in the IT Department, clued her in. That’s … not exactly an achievement on OP’s part.

              And OP is already benefiting herself. *Only* herself. It’s her co-workers who are getting the shaft.

              I might be cheering OP on if she were sharing the information about Saturday work with her co-workers, but she’s not. She’s keeping the gold to herself. Not exactly solidarity-minded!

              1. Emily*

                Exactly, virago. OP is not just hurting their manager/employer, they are hurting their co-workers who have to pick up their slack. Given the behavior of OP and their manager, this seems like a toxic work place. Someone asked why the workers don’t just unionize, but it’s not a simple process and not always possible.

        3. Analyst Editor*

          “Gaslighting” is a bit of a strong term for this. Manager:s qu we stion was a loaded one; seems like she felt her like her authority was being undermined, or her pride wounded that an employee got something for nothing without her approval through slyness, and wants to punish him for it, regardless of work outcome. Regardless of the ethics of the original trick he’d be a “simpleton”, as they say, to answer that question truthfully.

          1. ceiswyn*

            The manager’s question was a legitimate one, and if the OP had answered truthfully they could have enabled the manager to plan and schedule better for everyone.

            What the OP has actually done is lie to their manager in a way that would lead ANY reasonable person to believe they’re trying to conceal illegitimate activities.

            The manager isn’t handling it well, but OP is reaping the results of their own acts.

        4. nonbinary writer*

          I’ve seen a lot of misuses of “gaslighting” but this is one of the biggest stretches I’ve seen — gaslighting is a type of abuse that involves a person intentionally messing with someone’s sense of reality with the intention of making someone doubt their own senses so that further manipulation and control is possibe. This is garden variety deception at most, which is not gaslighting and using that word diminishes its ability to describe actual abuse.

          1. Foof*

            Yeah lying can be part of gaslighting but any and all lying is not the same as gaslighting or the word pretty much loses most meaning.

          2. EventPlannerGal*

            Yep – sometimes I feel like it’s a losing battle and the term is going to go the same way as “emotional labour”, but not every incident of lying is gaslighting! I don’t know if people genuinely don’t know what the word was supposed to describe or if they just think that calling things gaslighting when they’re not will make people pay more attention, but it’s not helpful either way.

          3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah, the manager is not starting to doubt her own sanity, she knows very well OP is gaming the system somehow, she just hasn’t cottoned on to it yet.

          4. Rachel*

            While I agree with you that the word gaslighting is often misused, I used it thoughtfully here: the boss said “I am sure something is going on” and the OP invalidated that both by lying and by reacting like the boss was crazy to be asking, and then crazy to not accept the lie.

            Which is also why the boss is acting crazy in response, in order to “prove” that what she knows is true is true.

          5. Springtime*

            I often find myself pointing out that the term is an allusion to the 1938 play “Gaslight,” which was made into two movies. I recommend the 1944 version starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Joseph Cotten. Maybe not as good as Shakespeare for building your vocabulary of allusions, but still a solid classic film.

        5. Roscoe*

          Eh, I don’t think its understandable.

          My first thought with this was Principal Rooney from Ferris Bueller. Yes, he was annoyed that Ferris took a lot of days off. Yes, Ferris was lying. But the lengths he went to in order to catch him were just WAY over the top. The manager is having IT scrub his computer and hiding behind a machine? Its too much.

        6. LTL*

          Gaslighting is an abusive tactic of manipulation that’s based on a repetitive pattern. It does not apply to this letter. Gaslighting is not a synonym for lying.

          1. Rachel*

            While I don’t think this is abusive, I do think this is manipulation and a pattern. It’s not just the lie, its the repeating of the lie, and then the play of innocence after.

        7. GothicBee*

          This is not gaslighting. You can call it lying, but it’s not gaslighting.

          Anyway, I also wouldn’t be weirded out if my manager was suspicious of me in this situation. But I would be weirded out if they were hiding behind computers to try snooping on me and asking me to stay logged in against company policy (so they can presumably look through my browsing history).

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

        the level of secrecy and planning the OP has gone to rather than just have a conversation

        But if they had the conversation, the boss would be able to ‘make’ OP work those Saturdays (or make it a condition of their continued employment) which isn’t the outcome OP wants! I don’t think their motive is “avoiding a difficult conversation” but rather “avoiding that potential outcome”…

        1. ceiswyn*

          At this point, the OP is likely to instead gain the outcome of being fired – not for avoiding working Saturdays, but for lying to their manager and otherwise clearly demonstrating that they cannot be trusted.

          Is that an outcome OP wants?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The problem comes in where OP cohorts would like to have Saturdays off also. And OP’s cohorts are looking at childcare issues and other at home issues because of having to work Saturdays.

          I get it- no one wants to work Saturdays. No one. And it sounds like management was very sloppy perhaps manipulative in the way they worked Saturdays into a mandatory thing. That does not mean that OP gets to have poor behavior also. When we stoop to the level of turkeys– we become a turkey also. OP’s cohorts know full well that something is up and it is probably a point of constant conversation.

          1. Myrin*

            I get it- no one wants to work Saturdays. No one.

            I do, actually. I’ve been working weekends since my first job and I much prefer it to working Monday through Friday. Which is another reason it might’ve been actually fruitful for OP to come clean from the beginning – there might be someone like me working with her who’d gladly take over for her (although it sounds like her whole shift needs to be there but who knows). I wouldn’t be willing to do that anymore after these shenanigans, though.

        3. pancakes*

          Not necessarily – if the boss wants to make OP work those Saturdays why couldn’t OP then escalate the matter to the boss’s boss and HR? “I was hired to work Mondays through Fridays and will need some consistency or advance notice to arrange childcare if I work Saturdays” is an entirely reasonable request to make. If it’s not accepted it’s not accepted, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen at some point either way.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            yes, it should have happened right when Saturday work first became a thing.

        4. LTL*

          Well yes, lying is generally considered unacceptable even when it’s beneficial for the liar.

        5. BuildMeUp*

          The fact that it may result in an outcome the OP doesn’t want does not make it okay for them to game the system and lie.

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

            Yes, I totally agree! I was just thinking how it is from the OPs perspective and what their motive might be.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, the OP is using their computer access to the shipping database to figure out when Saturdays are scheduled, and using that knowledge to game the vacation system. If the employer figures out what they’ve been doing, they could be upset, and quite legitimately so, and it could affect the OP’s employment.

      It does sound like there’s a lot of sneaking around on all sides, rather than addressing things head on. I will say that the needs of a business can legitimately change over ten years, so the fact that OP was hired for Monday to Friday doesn’t mean that the job will forever after be weekend-work free. But the management should discuss this directly and make it clear that it’s no longer optional.

      My personal sniff test when it comes to ‘tricks’ like this – the difference between an effective hack or cool trick, and taking unfair advantage – is whether other people knowing about it would spoil things. In this case, yes, it probably would. If the managers knew about it, they would take away the Friday/Saturday vacation exemption, either for the OP specifically, or for everyone, or they’d deny vacation their requests as needed. If the other employees had access to it, it could end up that no-one was available to work Saturdays, and again, the management would move to close the loophole.

      1. Rachel*

        “It does sound like there’s a lot of sneaking around on all sides, rather than addressing things head on.”

        It seems like the boss at least tried to address it head on? “She asked (several times) how I know when we are working a Saturday and I say “lucky guess.””

        As Alison advised, yes, the boss potentially has some other options, but she has asked a direct question repeatedly and seems to feel she is out of options.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Ah, I missed that. Yeah, the OP has outright lied about what they’re doing, which increases the likelihood of getting fired if they figure it out. So the manager’s next step would be to turn down the vacation requests when they’re on Fridays.

          Honestly, I think the OP needs to start working most of the required Saturdays, or to figure out what they’re going to do if they get fired.

          1. Cambridge Comma*

            I think OP should look for another job. I think it’s gone too far to resolve well.

            1. Abyssal*

              Agreed. I can’t see any realistic way to have this resolve into a sane working relationship, or even stabilize at the current level of dysfunction.

          2. The Other Dawn*

            If this was my employee and I found out they’d been gaming the system for three years rather than having a conversation about the issue with working Saturdays and how to resolve it–either by being exempt from Saturdays, working less of them, needing more advanced notice for childcare, etc.–and then lying about it (“lucky guess”) on top of that, I’d be looking to fire them. I can’t trust someone like that, so why would I want them working for me?

            I’m not giving a complete pass on the manager’s behavior, though, although the suspicion is justified. But sneaking around to spy on OP from behind a machine and asking them to stay logged on while they’re on break (I’m sure IT would love that one) isn’t the right way to handle it.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              This is a great example here of how management’s poor behavior helps to extract poor behavior from employees. And like a rolling snowball this story just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

              1. traffic_spiral*

                Yup. If the management wasn’t a bunch of jerks that were ruining everyone’s weekends without paying proper compensation, this wouldn’t be an issue.

                1. Beth Jacobs*

                  There’s no mention of how much they’re getting paid for Saturdays in the post. “Without proper compensation” is just fanfiction.

                2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

                  (running out of nests but this is in reply to Beth Jacobs)
                  Since the Saturdays are an informal arrangement (despite very formal delivery dates logged into the system well in advance), I’m pretty sure nothing will have been negotiated along the lines of extra pay. Staff just get told a week in advance that they’ll be working on Saturday. It’s announced when it’s too late for them to ask for Friday and Saturday off, which is nasty, and probably the tipping point that led to OP seizing their chance to game the system. Had the company let staff know about Saturday work in advance, giving everyone plenty of time to organise childcare, and telling them they’d be paid double for their time, they would have felt happy about hiring a baby sitter, in that they’d still have plenty more money left after the sitter had been paid.
                  Management might think that announcing in advance which Saturdays would be worked would have everyone working out which excuse to provide for that day, again, if they paid double, people would be lining up for the privilege of working Saturdays.
                  I think it’s pretty safe to assume there are none of the usual perks of working on a Saturday.
                  I’m also not very impressed that the manager hasn’t tumbled as to how OP works out which Saturdays will be worked, does she not use or know of that database too?

                3. Beth Jacobs*

                  Again, the “informal arrangement” is a creation of the comments. All the post says is that the Saturdays weren’t a thing in 2011, but that they’ve been added and are now are on the production schedule. If the workers weren’t getting paid, that would be clear cut illegal and a completely different question altogether. There’s absolutely zero indication of that in the post.

                  We don’t know if OP’s supervisor’s job is to order parts like the OP does. She straight out asked him where he was getting this info before everyone else, and he just lied. If OP wasn’t a barefaced liar, everyone could have advance notice.

            2. Percysowner*

              The child care argument fall apart a bit with the OP. If, they have 2 weeks notice so they can take the day off, they also have 2 weeks to find childcare for that Saturday. The OP is taking the most convenient way for THEM, but with 2 week notice, they the “hard to find childcare” is less defensible. Check with relatives, ask neighborhood teenagers, see if friend can have them play over, coordinate with a coworker to watch their kids when they have to work on a Saturday that the LW doesn’t. Having notice that you need childcare is a lot different from having it dropp.ed on you unexpectedly or even with shorter notice. The LW is really hurting their coworkers as much, if not more than his manager.

              1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                The problem is most employees are only getting five days notice. If you’ve got other family in the area maybe you can in a pinch work out child care in five days. But if you’re like me and no family in the area five days isn’t a lot of time to get coverage (especially is spouse works every Saturday).

                1. Yorick*

                  Yes, the short notice is not good – but OP is finding out about the Saturdays at least 2 weeks before

              2. The Other Dawn*

                “If, they have 2 weeks notice so they can take the day off, they also have 2 weeks to find childcare for that Saturday.”

                Exactly. I don’t see in the letter where OP used that time to attempt to arrange childcare and work a few Saturdays. And OP now knows some Saturdays are a requirement so they need to decide if they still want to stay at the job with the new-ish terms.

        2. pancakes*

          Why isn’t denying the letter writer’s vacation requests an option for the boss?

          1. LTL*

            From some of the other comments in this thread, a supervisor in manufacturing may not have the power to deny vacation days.

            1. pancakes*

              Why couldn’t they ask whoever does have that power to exercise it if they feel like they’ve run out of options themself, then? It’s very unlikely the supervisor has no options whatsoever besides lurking around watching the letter writer.

              1. MissBaudelaire*

                I agree. If supervisor smells something fishy/realized that this is problematic and they can’t do anything, it’s their job to take it to someone who can.

                1. Momma Bear*

                  Agreed. Someone is approving these requests and that is someone who has some control here. I also wonder if the supervisor herself doesn’t know how to read the schedule/predict the future and is feeling hamstrung by her own manager. Which is not OP’s problem but could explain some of the weird behavior.

                  I also agree with someone farther up the page who said that OP is not the only one with access to this information and the company could give people advanced notice to get childcare, etc. If the company has the means to inform but isn’t, it begs the question why. Company could say “no requests will be approved for x day for y team. You will be working that Saturday.”

          2. LunaLena*

            Deny them based on what, though? AAM tends to advocate granting days off if there isn’t a specific reason not to, if only to make employees feel safe requesting days off. Maybe the OP’s company does the same. Frankly I think this is why the supervisor is hanging around and trying to catch OP in the act – if they can prove OP is getting advance notice illicitly, they would have grounds to deny OP’s vacation requests.

            They can’t deny OP based on “well what if someone else wants to take that day off” because only OP knows in advance to take that day off, no one else knows to request time off at that point in time. They also can’t deny based on “well that means you’d miss Saturday again as well” because they might not know that that particular Saturday is a work day in advance either.

            I heartily agree that management has set up an extremely bad system here, but short of saying “we suspect you’re lying and gaming the system” I don’t see what they could say to deny the requests unless the supervisor comes up with definite proof that OP is unfairly getting advance info.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              It was my understanding that a request for PTO was always that–a request. You might get it, you might not. Depends on if they can spare you.

              Do I think that some managers deny just for the pure fun of it? Probably.

              The real issue here is that no one else can take PTO for that Saturday because the company isn’t telling everyone in the time frame to do that, and I don’t believe that’s an oopsie doodle on the part of the company. They’d have to field people taking in PTO and then be put in the uncomfortable position of denying it/granting it/actually making a policy about it/deciding to have people on call if they really aren’t sure when an order will need to be filled.

              It isn’t unheard of to have black out dates. It isn’t unheard of to have leave denied because they can’t spare you. It isn’t unheard for shifts to be mandatory, no PTO granted. And this could all actually be a policy if the company was being upfront about their Saturdays, but three years in, they’ve decided to be cagey about it.

              LW isn’t taking something away from everyone else by using their PTO. The company is by not telling people in time.

        3. tamarack and fireweed*

          This is hardly head-on, or at least, it’s not going nearly as deeply as it should.

          The whole mess came about because there has been mission creep in the work week distribution, in a way that makes the job less compatible with the LW’s needs. So the LW, and possibly other co-workers, has found a sneaky & clever way of gaming the system to their advantage.

          Clearly some of the initial responsibility is in management’s lap: Rather than setting out clear expectations and putting into place an as fair and transparent a system as possible they have just cavalierly let things deteriorate. Apparently planning further ahead is possible – the LW is doing it, and employees are going to be a lot happier if they get a heads-up early on. If for some Saturday work creates significant hardships, employers have tools to balance those out – maybe some would be happy to work on a Saturday if it came with extra compensation, extra time off or some other perk.

          Of course as-is, the LW has chosen to go a path that is only viable in the short term and that short term is now up. This relationship might sour further, so keeping on the lookout for other jobs would be a smart thing to do. If the LW isn’t too worried about the deterioration, I’d suggest going to the boss and laying the whole problems around Saturday work out – maybe even as a group.

      2. Nicotene*

        And in reality OP has shown that they can’t be trusted to use their access to this system for only what they require workwise; they are also using it to mess around with scheduling and screw up the shifts for their personal gain. They should probably be shut out of this system and someone else given the task of ordering parts or whatever.

        Do I think the company is more at fault, yes, but this is the most efficient solution for the manager.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          The more I think about it, the more I agree with this. If they LW can’t be trusted, that’s fine. Then they need to either let them go or move them somewhere without access to this information.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Right — obviously this is not quite the same thing, but we’re generally familiar with the idea that someone could have access to something legitimately, but use that access inappropriately, in contexts like medical records and school records, right? In this case, there’s not a privacy violation or anything like that, but the OP is using access that they have for one reason, to do something unrelated to that reason, that’s not part of their actual work, and that gives them an advantage over other workers. I’m sympathetic to the OP — especially about the short notice they’re being given for this Saturday work, which seems practically designed to screw up people’s childcare and family situations — but it does actually sound like they’re misusing their access to this system, and it’s not crazy for the manager to try to figure out what’s going on (even if some of her methods of “investigation” are also inappropriate).

          1. LabTechNoMore*

            Even “misusing access” is a stretch. OP’s schedule is most certainly under their purview. It’s not improper to ascertain when this particular manufacturing part will be coming in to figure out their schedule.

    5. First time listener, long time caller*

      Not only that, but he’s transparently lying to his supervisor and is either enjoying it or is annoyed that it bothers her that he is lying.

      1. Rachel*

        Yes! I think this my irritation to the letter: why is the OP so upset that she is irritated when he repeatedly lies to her?

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

          … Because OP seems to think they’ve discovered a ‘legit’ loophole – a kind of “OP discovered one weird trick to know if they’ll be working next Saturday! Managers hate them!” sort of situation – but doesn’t want to give up the secret as that would result in putting a stop to the loophole. Meanwhile the boss (rightly IMO) senses something a bit sus and keeps asking about it. OP wanted the situation to continue indefinitely so understandably (from their perspective) is irritated that the manager keeps bringing it up!

      2. The Other Dawn*

        And “lucky guess” really isn’t the clever lie OP might think it is. “Lucky guess”, at least in my opinion, is basically broadcasting that you’re lying. “I know something you don’t know!”

        1. TreeHillGrass*

          Yes, “coincidence” would be a much smarter answer. Lucky guess implies purposefully trying for that specific Saturday as they are doing.

    6. BRR*

      I’m not standing behind anybody’s behavior here. If the manager wants the lw to work a Saturday, she needs to be more direct (something more direct than “how do you know when you’re working a Saturday”).

      Replying “lucky guess” feels a bit adversarial to me though. It sounds like the job duties have changed a bit which happens and it would be better to have spoken up then this backdoor solution. The more I think about it the more it feels like a powder keg waiting to explode. I don’t think anybody is handling this professionally.

      “Can I file a harassment claim” isn’t the question for this situation.I would also guess other people would like a Saturday off but I’m not sure about the staffing needs. And is this leaving everyone else short handed if you take off?

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I do agree that OP is not innocent here. However, since they ask for their Friday+thereforeSaturday off at least two weeks in advance, and the manager approves it, the manager does always have plenty of time to sort out coverage.
        They can even plan further ahead: “looks like we’ll be working Saturday because OP has taken Friday off” LOL.

        1. TreeHillGrass*

          Yes there’s a strange lack of ability to take the thinking to the next level on both sides here

    7. Llama face!*

      Yeah, I agree. If this were on AITA I’d be giving it an ESH (everybody sucks here). It’s not just about the passive aggressiveness between OP1 and their boss, which is bad enough, but that what OP1 is doing is something that benefits themselves at their coworker’s expenses. If OP1 can’t work any Saturdays, then they need to have that conversation with their boss and take the risk that it is incompatible with their employer’s needs. With the way they are going about it the consequences might take longer to hit them but they will almost certainly end up with worse results (either Saturdays made mandatory or losing their job) and will also have removed any possibility of a good reference. Frankly, I can’t see any employer wanting to deal with this kind of game-playing long term and that doesn’t make for great job security. OP1, you are not doing yourself any favours with your current actions.

      1. Nicotene*

        I totally sympathize with OP and also if I were a manager I would never hire OP if I knew this about them. It’s not at all the behavior of someone I want on my staff.

        1. Roscoe*

          At the same time, if I knew this information about the manager, this isn’t the type of person I’d want to work for.

    8. Lily*

      The problem would be easily solvable if they got advanced notice for working saturdays as it generally should be. One week before for weekend work is incredibly unaware to the employees’ scheduled and I don’t blame OP for acting as they do.

      1. Everdene*

        I agree completely. The current system means the whole team never knows if they are working a Saturday more than a week in advance unless they have worked out the rota. This must make out of work planning a nightmare. (‘Should we go away for your birthday next weekend?’ ‘Sounds great but I may or may not have to work.) I’m sure a lot of problems here could be solved by identifying Saturdays further in advance and offering an incentive to work them.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          The problem is if you want to guarantee the Saturday off for a wedding, birthday party, family gathering, special event, you have to schedule the previous Friday off that you don’t necessarily need, but the system requires anyone who works on Friday to show on Saturday on the 25-30% of Saturdays that they do work.

          The company brings it on themselves, but the LW is being unfair because they are not the only one who doesn’t want to work Saturdays.

        2. Nicotene*

          Yes this system sounds terrible. They could assign staffs to cover a certain number of weekends per year at least, so you have advanced knowledge of which Saturdays you may or may not have to work; that is the basic minimum of reasonableness. Don’t get me started on the point that you should incentivize Saturdays with extra $$ for those who want to work, or hire extra workers to cover the additional hours – stupid capitalism.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Childcare can be difficult at the best of times, but WEEKENDS are worse and SHORT NOTICE is worse, so if LW is getting a double hit then I can see why they’d look for a solution. This ain’t it, though.

        1. Delta Delta*

          Using his system, though, it isn’t short notice. Using LW’s intel, he can schedule daycare/play dates/grandparent time/etc several weeks out.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            He’s only getting two weeks’ notice because he’s gaming the system. He says he would otherwise only get one week maximum – which is what the rest of the team have to manage with. It’s not sustainable.

            1. Person from the Resume*

              He’s getting more than 2 weeks notice. He’s putting in PTO at the last opportunity 2 week + 1 day, but he sees that it is coming even further in advance.

            2. Not a Blossom*

              But if he were using the knowledge he got from gaming the system to find childcare in advance instead of taking time off, everyone would be better off. He could even discuss with the supervisor or manager whether everyone should know this; however, even if he kept it to himself, he wouldn’t be screwing over his colleagues so much and wouldn’t have potentially put his job in jeopardy. Instead, he just decided to skip this responsibility for THREE YEARS.

          2. Nicotene*

            True good point. If OP wants to stick it to the man, he could at least use his knowledge to better prepare for Saturdays he will work. That is still valuable and reasonable, and I wouldn’t fault him at all for that.

            1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

              And he could let his colleagues know so that everyone can plan ahead too, they could even work a roster for Saturdays so everyone gets some off.

      3. hbc*

        I am 100% with you there. The system knows they need to work the weekend at least two weeks in advance, so there’s no reason that everyone shouldn’t know this.

        1. ceiswyn*

          And if OP had explained how THEY were figuring it out, everyone could know in advance. But they lied instead.

          1. EPLawyer*

            They don’t want everyone to know. Because then he would have to compete for Saturdays off with everyone else. He wants HIS Saturdays and screw everyone else.

      4. MissBaudelaire*

        Exactly! Instead of laying the blame at LW1’s feet, it should be laid at the company’s feet.

        If all his coworkers are getting worked up about him not working a Saturday, they should also be getting worked up about the fact the schedule is a mystery. I had a boss who would post the schedule late as per company policy and then disappear for the days so he didn’t have to rewrite it for changes.

      5. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        This part of the issue seems especially obnoxious on the company’s side. They are wasting an easy opportunity to let their employees know further in advance of an upcoming Saturday shift. That’s a jerk move.

      6. Shan*

        Yeah, I understand that what OP is doing isn’t great, but I absolutely think the company is the bigger offender here. Not giving people time to book off if required is a completely garbage policy that intentionally keeps employees in a constant state of uncertainty.

    9. The Prettiest Curse*

      So, in theory it’s okay to find a way to screw your employer if they screwed you, which – let me be clear – they did. In practice, your solution should: 1) Not screw your colleagues and 2) Not screw your future self.
      Unless 100% of your other colleagues signed up to work Saturdays when they started the job, you are screwing them by never working Saturdays. (FYI, I’m writing this as someone who had to work a lot of Saturdays in my old job, sometimes at short notice, and didn’t enjoy it.) Many of them no doubt have family commitments or other things they need to do on a Saturday.
      More importantly, you screwed your future self by never working a Saturday. Not working a Saturday is 3 years just looks strange and if your boss hadn’t been tipped off, someone would have eventually realised that it couldn’t be a coincidence. If you had worked 2 or 3 Saturdays a year, it would have looked a lot less strange and made it a lot more difficult for anyone to prove what you were doing. Yes, arranging childcare is a total pain and expensive if you don’t have friends or family who can help – but I imagine it would have been a lot less of a pain and a lot less expensive than potentially losing your job, which is how this could end up.

      1. Pennyworth*

        LW1 is also in a much better position to arrange Saturday childcare because he has weeks of advance notice of working Saturdays while his co-workers only have a single week. I am disliking this selfishness more and more.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, ideally everyone who needed to work Saturdays would have plenty of advance notice to arrange childcare or anything else. And if LW#1 was using the extra advance notice to arrange childcare, probable nobody would care unless they were booking up the only babysitter in town. But using knowledge your colleagues don’t have to make them do something that you’re supposed to do but don’t want to do …. it’s not a great look.

          1. Allonge*

            And it would be totally reasonable to go to boss and ask ‘look, it seems to me that the company does have the information on when people will be scheduled for Saturday work much sooner than we are told. Can we do something about this? Same week is major pain, and if we got two weeks notice it would make things easier’.

            Or if the system is hopeless, still discuss your personal situation insead of clever tricks.

            And if you use clever tricks, don’t accuse your boss of harassment if they try to figure out what’s up.

            1. Quinalla*

              Agreed, the company is being awful here, but instead of being sneaky let everyone you work with know what is up so all are able to schedule their time better.

              And does your manager not know what Saturdays are going to be work days? If not, this could have been a great opportunity to get them on your side against the higher ups that have implemented this crappy system. At this point, that is likely a lost cause…

              1. CmdrShepard4ever*

                This is where I think OP messed up. I think the supervisor either does not have access to the information OP has due to the supervisor’s position, or the supervisor does have access but since it is not their job they don’t really have a need to look at the system that OP uses to figure out Saturday working days.

                OP could have banded together told all the other employees, I really think we will have to work this coming Saturday in two weeks, everyone should request the Friday before off. If everyone did that it would either force the company to admit they know the Saturday will be a work day, or deny a lot of people’s time off request with out a reason.

                I do think OP is being shady, while they might have access to they system they are using that access to obtain info the company does not want them having access to. I think it is similar to someone from HR having access to everyone’s reviews/salary history for their job, but going out of their way to access everyone’s info for their own curiosity.

        2. TreeHillGrass*

          The other employees may be better able to afford childcare which it sounds like the OP can’t. Manufacturing wages aren’t high and paying a sitter might totally negate those days’ wages, wages which are needed.

    10. Eden*

      This is where I am. No sympathy for the management who doesn’t let people know more than a week ahead of time if they’ll need to work Saturday! But OP isn’t acting with much solidarity to their fellow workers. I get it, childcare is a nightmare, but just OP probably isn’t the only person with problems. If it were possible to get rid of this ridiculous secret scheduling that would be better than OP gaming the system but leaving other workers out. Maybe speaking out as a group would help.

      1. Bilateralrope*

        OP could have helped everyone by revealing this trick to the supervisor sooner. Two weeks notice is plenty of time for the supervisor to ask for people to volunteer for the Saturday work, then assign people if they aren’t enough volunteers.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          Oh, this is an extremely good point. If OP had shown the supervisor, everyone would be in a better position.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Right on! Just tell the boss how to figure this out so everyone can make their childcare plans or whatever it is they need to do.

        3. Person from the Resume*

          BUT It sounds like, though, everyone who worked on Friday also works Saturday. It does not sound like a short crew works Saturday. It sounds like everyone works on Saturday except those who already were scheduled off (which no doubt has a limit on how many of the drew can be off on a single day.)

          Your plan for volunteers falls flat when only 1-2 can be off and you need 90% of team to volunteer.

    11. Roci*

      Agreed. ESH.
      The manager should just deny the requests for Fridays off or talk to OP directly and force them to work Saturdays.
      OP is being selfish and unethical: making their teammates work Saturdays so they don’t have to, using information they have access to for work to gain an unfair advantage in the vacation system, and on top of that straight-up lying to their boss.
      OP’s brother-in-law also shouldn’t be giving information on an investigation.

      I find it a little ridiculous that OP doesn’t like being watched closely for suspicious behavior, which they themselves admit they’re doing!
      The easy and ethical way out of this is to suck it up and work Saturdays sometimes like everyone else.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        Ethical, yes. Easy, hmm. Under Plague rules where I live, childcare has become a lot more complicated. And maybe the then-toddler is now school age and can’t access the same day-care options.

        The whole thing is a mess.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          Right? I remember paying for a weekend baby sitter. Weekend premiums, if you could even find a sitter who wanted to work a Saturday. There were times that I paid so much of the money I earned that day to the sitter, it wasn’t even worth it to come in.

        2. Colette*

          But people do work Saturday, and they find childcare to do so. The OP doesn’t want to bother, so he’s gaming the system.

          1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            I think it’s much easier to find Saturday childcare if it’s regular. If you’re getting less than a week’s notice of irregular Saturdays, that’s harder.

            This assumes they are using commercial childcare rather than family favours, mind you.

            1. Colette*

              True, but licensed childcare is not the only option. Teenage/young adult babysitters exist.

              1. Guacamole Bob*

                For many people, yes. Any kinds of special needs can make this very very challenging, though.

                And even without special needs it can be a challenge. My twins are now in early elementary and I’ll happily leave them with a semi-random reliable teenager who knows how to call the fire department if needed, but when they were infants and toddlers they were enough of a handful that I wouldn’t leave them with anyone who didn’t have real experience caring for multiple young children at a time. Caring for two infants left me in tears often enough that I wasn’t willing to just hand them off to any willing person over the age of 13. Even when they were preschoolers they ran circles around our high school neighbor when she babysat for a couple of hours – 9ish hours to cover full work day would have been a disaster.

                Being picky is a privilege, I recognize, and if it’s a choice between the neighborhood teenager and getting fired then you do what you have to do, but it’s not always as easy as “hire a local teenager!”

              2. Em*

                When I was fifteen, I worked Saturdays babysitting three kids whose parents worked together — the kids were roughly the same age and got on well, so they figured it made sense to pay a single babysitter rather than everyone getting one. We spent days at the park, library, wherever*. Not a great solution right now because plague, but it worked pretty well for all involved. I’d be willing to bet there are teens advertising babysitting services on grocery store bulletin boards in a lot of places.

                *Caveat that we lived in a very nice suburb — mileage as to available activities may vary.

                1. MissBaudelaire*

                  There are significantly fewer teenage baby sitters in my area because fast food/retail is hurting for people and they keep offering higher wages. So unless you can afford to offer more than that, you’re probably SOL on that department. Especially because in LW1’s situation you aren’t employing them every single Saturday, it’s sporadic and random.

              3. Claire*

                Wow, it sounds like LW is expected to do a whole bunch of bending – working Saturdays, using whatever childcare he can get – for the employer’s convenience when he’s found a way to avoid it so far and the employer doesn’t even have the decency to announce Saturday workdays in advance. I’m one of many workers using unlicensed childcare and I’m glad it exists or else I couldn’t work, but it’s not so simple as just getting a local teenager in many situations and I absolutely understand why LW has decided to use his PTO this way instead.

                1. MissBaudelaire*

                  Yeah, I’m a little surprised people are calling LW1 unethical, a poor team player, harmful to his team.

                  Seems to me that management should have figured out way earlier than three years in he wasn’t working Saturdays and sorted out denying those requests if it was such a big deal.

            2. Momma Bear*

              Right. If I had to find a weekend sitter on a week’s notice, I’d struggle and my kid might need to be with someone in a pinch vs someone good. I had a hard time finding sitters for date nights sometimes, and that I could change or cancel. We don’t have a lot of teens who want to babysit around me.

              OP is solving the babysitter problem by throwing PTO at it.

      2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Given that he negotiated Mon-Fri only ten years ago, his kids probably don’t need much supervision any more either! (unless they have ten and counting)

          1. Claire*

            There’s just so many things we can’t possibly know about LW’s wife’s work situation and their childcare situation and assuming there’s absolutely a route other than using LW’s vacation days to cover the Saturdays is a stretch. Now, if I were LW I’d work the occasional Saturday so no one would notice the pattern, but if I can’t swing that then yeah, do what works.

            1. MissBaudelaire*

              Totally agreed.

              I would have tried to sort something else out if I was LW. But I’m not, and there are details here that aren’t known. They’ve been doing what works for their family. It’s silly to say “Just hire a teenager/figure it out/worry about your coworkers.”

    12. Amaranth*

      OP has apparently extrapolated workload from information they legitimately access, but it baffles me they started playing games with the manager to the point it now sounds much more clandestine and shady. The manager is going along with the silliness instead of just saying OP has to work a fair share of weekends. OP probably would have had more standing to negotiate weekdays only or to work rare weekends if they hadn’t made this confrontational. BIL was actually out of line, in giving information on an internal security matter, and as a manager I’d discipline them at the very least.

      1. WS*

        A much easier thing to do would be to say “It’s clear when a Saturday is coming up, why can’t you let us know two weeks ahead?”

      2. Tau*

        The manager is going along with the silliness instead of just saying OP has to work a fair share of weekends.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason it’s blown up like this is because now “OP isn’t working Saturdays” has become the lesser issue compared to “OP clearly has access to information they shouldn’t, how?” Like, given that the manager doesn’t know about the fact that it’s possible to extrapolate this information, given that no Saturdays in three years is extremely unlikely to be luck, and given that OP lied when asked about it (it wasn’t a “lucky guess”), the only explanation manager has is that he’s doing something involving getting unauthorized access to data he shouldn’t be allowed to see. That’s a huge data security problem! Who knows what else they might be able to see! At that point the schedule thing almost becomes an afterthought.

        1. Czhorat*

          There’s also the other problem that if the employ lies about this then they could lie about something else.

          You now have an employee you don’t think you can trust.

        2. Teapot supervisor*

          Was also thinking this. The sheer degree of silliness here makes me think it’s not about ‘not working Saturdays’ anymore (or possibly never was given all the holiday requests are approved and it might not even be the manager in the question who is responsible approving them anyway). It almost sounds like manager is thinking LW1 is getting access to info they shouldn’t – coyly answering ‘lucky guess’ when asked how they know when to take holiday is not exactly going to put manager’s mind at ease, after all.

          1. Amaranth*

            I agree, the manager is trying to be a detective here though and trying to catch OP ‘in the act’ instead of just saying “Aside from you needing to work your fair share of weekends, you’ve made it sound like you are getting access to data you shouldn’t have. We need you to explain this so we aren’t looking for security issues in your department or others.” OP seems to miss the fact that trying to be clever means their manager doesn’t trust them – and that’s a BAD THING.

            1. Czhorat*

              Yes – and he lied to the manager’s face, so the manager is RIGHT to not trust him.

              Imagine never getting the benefit of any doubt. That’ll hurt you down the road.

    13. Czhorat*

      I understand OP’s frustration, but the self-righteousness here is apparent if they look at it from the outside. They are essentially outraged that the boss thinks they’re lieing in a different way than they actually ARE lieing.

      Once someone founds out, OP will have to deal with the fact that their boss – rightly – now thinks them untrustworthy. It’s hard to put that toothpaste back into the tube.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        OMG now I’m imagining OP getting toothpaste all over the monitor showing the database with the info about Saturday deliveries – back off there OP!

    14. londonedit*

      I agree. The system sounds awful (I’d hate to find out with a week’s notice that I suddenly have to work on a Saturday) and I’d also be annoyed if a job I signed up for as Monday-Friday suddenly involved weekend work.

      But at the same time, the OP is totally ‘gaming the system’ and I don’t think it’s fair that they haven’t worked a single Saturday when their colleagues have. I expect plenty of other people aren’t thrilled with the late-notice Saturdays, but they get on with it because that’s what the job involves (even if it didn’t three years ago, it does now). Meanwhile OP is cheerfully booking holiday to get themselves out of working. I understand their reasoning, and I understand that childcare is difficult, but if I was their colleague and I found out they’d been getting out of working weekends for three years, I’d be really annoyed.

    15. Weekend Please*

      I agree. The OP lied about how they are figuring out which days to request off. That feels really shady. However the manager is going about this all wrong. They should simply start announcing which Saturdays are going to be scheduled to work as soon as they know about it. That way the OP looses their advantage and everyone has an equal chance of taking that Friday/Saturday off. Everyone at this company seems to be oddly secretive.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        The manager doesn’t know any earlier than the LW’s coworkers. The LW knows before the manager!

        The LW’s manager is not senior and privy to advance notice either. The LW’s manager has also been working the Saturdays that the LW took off.

      2. June*

        Manager can start denying some of the requests for Fridays off. Too much of a pattern to get out of working Saturday when it’s a job requirement. Had OP worked at least a few Saturdays they may not have gotten caught, but they pushed it by doing it for years. No one is that “lucky”.

    16. LifeBeforeCorona*

      I’m ambivalent about LW’s actions. I worked in an academic setting and the calendar for the school year events was public. If you checked it you could see that when big events were happening. Local charities and fundraising events used our location because it had free parking and lots of outdoor space to hold events. For example, October 35 is Tour The Campus Day which meant hundreds of kids on site. We had a manager who never looked at the calendar so their first notice was when dozens of kids starting flooding in. We were always unprepared and literally run out of supplies by the end of the day. So whenever I saw a big event, I took that day off and someone else could pick up the shifts. It was a union job so the hours were always filled, someone always wanted extra hours. I did mention several times to the manager that Big Event would be happening as a heads up but they always ignored it. Really, the signage is all around the campus and yet you are surprised to see dozens of yellow school buses in the parking lot. So my takeaway is that the manager should be looking ahead to see when a Saturday shift is necessary and figure out that’s why the LW can avoid them.

      1. ecnaseener*

        That’s not really the same situation at all? You’re talking about publicly available info that your boss chose to ignore, but your coworkers presumably could use just like you did. And if asked how you knew when to request off, presumably you wouldn’t say “lucky guess.”

        1. June*

          Yes. Lucky guess is a straight out lie. Boss will catch on and feel lied to. Not good.

    17. Sleepless*

      In my field, working some Saturdays is almost universal. And almost universally hated. Everybody has spouses who are off that day, kids’ sports they need to attend, etc. Doing your part of the Saturday shifts is a necessary part of the deal. Asking to just not work Saturdays would be frowned upon. If I found out one of my coworkers had found a secret way to game the system, I’d be really angry.

      1. PersephoneUnderground*

        This is pretty different thought- those are all important but optional things. Caring for your child because your spouse is *at work* not off is more an obligation than a nice to have. Yes, the LW could probably manage childcare sometimes but missing a little league game doesn’t cost money the way that does. I think LW is being a little selfish but also rational here in defending time off they really need. LW is afraid that if their coworkers knew they’d start taking the time for less obligatory things because of course they want to go to little league, leaving the LW stuck having to go in with no childcare (in which case I suppose they or spouse would have to call out of work last minute, possible because of Covid to literally have none available) or a huge bill.

        I still think the company should just be reasonable about the whole thing, but it’s clear LW doesn’t trust their company to hear their real concerns or they probably would have approached them about a Saturday exception in the first place. I can’t really fault LW for not trusting their company here- they know the place, we don’t.

        Unionizing to get a fair hearing for workers concerns (like short notice Saturday shifts with no way to book off! Wtf?) would be a good idea here, as well as just addressing the problem directly before it all devolves since this is looking unsustainable at this point.

        1. Yorick*

          I get that LW needs those days off. But the answer is to talk to your manager about it and get a new job if they can’t guarantee you won’t have to work. What they are doing is inappropriate.

        2. Not a Blossom*

          Except that we don’t know whether the other employees also have childcare issues or financial hardships or whatever. That’s not stated anywhere, so it’s also possible that the colleagues have the same problems the OP does without a way to avoid the Saturday work.

    18. Not So NewReader*

      For OP1, just because there are so many replies here already.

      You have been at this job for 10 years. Any job I have been at that long (and there were 3) I saw massive changes in the job during that time. Most of the changes were for the better but some where just plain bad, bad news.

      To me, the longer a person stays at a job the more likely it will be that the job is not what they signed on for initially. Jobs change, sometimes they change wildly. Your response to change here is concerning to me. I understand your boss has poor behavior all over the place here. Your unwillingness to take pro-active steps on YOUR OWN behalf is not a good thing. Yeah, the bosses failed you. But you built yourself a little prison here by not trying to advocate for yourself.
      It’s kind of wild to me, because childcare is a very common and much acknowledged issue. It’s not like you are hiding something that should not be seen. Perhaps you are concerned that you will end up really angry. Well, if that is the case then you need to carefully plan your discussion with the boss, what you want vs what you need out of the discussion and you need to carefully plan how you will handle worst case scenario.
      This is not a waste of time. I have not had a job yet where a difficult conversation was optional. Learn how to have difficult conversations and learn how to work with/talk with people who are — umm– not at their professional best. This is a skill you will use over and over during your work life.

    19. Adam*

      I am 110% behind the OP here. Their employer is behaving far worse by 1) changing the conditions of employment, 2) never giving them a way to take time off on a Saturday and 3) giving them no notice that they will have to work so that they could plan accordingly.

      The OP is not doing anything against the rules here. They’re not sneaking around – they are using information that is legitimately available to them. And they are under no moral or ethical obligation to tell their manager anything about it.

      While this sucks for the OP’s team members, that is on the company for exploiting them, not on the OP for avoiding being exploited. No ethical company would operate this way.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        OP began sneaking around when they said “lucky guess” in response to the manager’s question instead of “in this screen it’s clear we’re going to be working on Saturday since that’s when the outgoing order is scheduled.”

        OP’s company may well be unethical, but I don’t know that we can say that for certain from the information presented. It’s understandable that management doesn’t have the intimate knowledge of the system that the OP does — isn’t this the case at most companies? I wouldn’t be surprised if management at OP’s company legitimately doesn’t realize they could give more than a week’s notice to employees by looking at the outbound shipment dates. OP sucks for not flagging that for everyone.

        1. Adam*

          Again, the OP is under no ethical or moral obligation to answer that question. Just like if the OP were looking for another job and their employer asked them if they were, they wouldn’t need to answer that truthfully either.

          And I would be incredibly surprised if management at OP’s company didn’t design their one week notice for Saturdays on purpose so as to avoid people taking it off. That seems far, far more likely to me than an oversight, especially considering that the OP works on a production line. The most likely outcome if the OP came forward with this information is that they would just close the loophole and then neither the OP nor their coworkers would have any chance at taking that time off.

          1. Filosofickle*

            I am surprised by the amount of pushback on the lying part. I guess I’m a little more morally flexible on that! The comparison to lying about an interview is, IMO, the right one. Many employees will say they have a medical appointment when it’s actually an interview or say they have a “family emergency” where family means their cat and the boss wouldn’t accept a pet as a valid reason to call off. Some people would say lying is always always wrong. I don’t agree.

          2. BuildMeUp*

            I’m not sure how “ethical or moral obligation” got involved here… The vast majority of things we do at work are for business reasons, and/or because our bosses have asked us to, not because we have some great outside principle guiding us. That’s not a valid argument here.

      2. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I do agree with point number 3 that not giving enough advance notice is something the company is doing badly. The company should give everyone as much notice as possible for when Saturday will be a work day. But point number 1 conditions of employment change all the time it is, OP has been in this job for 10 years it is crazy to think the job will be the exact same as when they started, at this point it has been going on for three years it is not a new change, OP knows this is part of the job now and they need to decide if this is something they can deal with. Point number 2 the company does give people a way to take time off on Saturday by requesting off the Friday before the way OP is doing, so if other coworkers know they have a can’t miss event on Saturday 2 months from now, they can put in PTO for the Friday before and be guaranteed they won’t work that Saturday, that leads to two options, that Saturday no one works, so the employee wastes a PTO kinda because they still end up being off on the Friday, or the company does work on Saturday but the employee does not go in.

        I also wonder if due to jobs/positions being disconnected from others, not many people in the company know the pattern of when Saturdays will be required. So that maybe a lower level person the schedules shipping/receiving knows 2/4 weeks in advance a client request a certain product on Saturday and they schedule it in the system the shipping/receiving person does not realize or even know that a Saturday shipment requires a Saturday production work day? So they schedule it but don’t think to raise it with other so they can give the production line a heads up. But had OP disclosed their secret it could help everyone by knowing when Saturday work will be required.

      3. Not a Blossom*

        Just because the employer is bad doesn’t mean the OP isn’t ALSO bad. Also, “never giving hem a way to take time off on a Saturday” is a bit hyperbolic, given that the OP said they had to work 10 to 15 Saturdays per year and there are 52 weeks in a year.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        We don’t have to be on one side or the other.
        We don’t have to pick whose behavior was worse.

        The overall goal is to help OP keep their job. If OP keeps going as they have been, I don’t think this job is going to last much longer. Look at the outcome OP is getting just based on their actions so far. Some one used to say to me, “If you want what you keep getting then keep doing what you have been doing.”

    20. JelloStaples*

      I would be very annoyed if a coworker constantly found a way to avoid Saturdays and the rest of us were stuck.

    21. June*

      I think it is shady and lying about it can backfire. Id just try and arrange childcare. It’s also not fair to the rest of the team who are working Saturdays. Boss will catch on. Already has. Just needs to know exactly how. In no way is this close to harassment. When she does put it together, it’s going to look bad because OP straight out lied. And she will put it together.

    22. Lecturer*

      I don’t know why they can’t figure out how he does it? It shouldn’t be difficult. OP you have lucked out for over a decade, time to start doing your fair share

      1. virago*

        Well, they asked OP directly and OP said, “Lucky guess.”

        Meaning: OP lied.

        Time to pull your weight or look for another job, OP.

        (I’d love to see the update on this one.)

    23. Beth*

      Yes, this is a mess all around. The company shouldn’t be adding Saturdays to the work week without checking in with employees and having an actual discussion about availability; if they are going to require it, they need to be clear and upfront that it’s a requirement now, and they need to give adequate notice such that people can find childcare and other needs, not spring it on people with less than 2 weeks’ notice. That said, OP shouldn’t be using a loophole to dodge those Saturdays instead of having an actual discussion about it; OP’s manager shouldn’t be using this skulk-around-and-spy method of handling OP’s loophole; and when handed this investigation, OP’s brother-in-law shouldn’t have passed the details along to him. No one is coming out looking good here.

    24. In my shell*

      @Maybe it’s just me
      Totally agree – I just kept thinking about OP’s co-workers either working extra Saturdays or having to do more work because of this loophole. That sucks. A LOT.

      OP also seems condescending and smug about outsmarting the system and the boss and I suspect that has a lot to do with why it “REALLY irritates her”.

      YES about BIL! Right?! I was surprised Alison didn’t mention that aspect and how that puts BIL at risk.

      1. In my shell*

        Also, as I read the post, I just kept thinking about how far and wide this website’s reach is (based on the salary survey!) and how karmically beautiful it would be if boss saw the column with the details of how OP was doing this. The situation is specific enough and topic hot enough that it isn’t unrealistic that it could find its way to her.

        Sorry, OP. What you’re doing is extremely crappy.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        OP has really shot themselves in the foot in terms of their relationships with people at work. I fully expect that people will start reporting OP for every thing they can think of because they are so ticked off. Yeah, this can get worse. It can get way worse.

        OP, you could have gotten a group of parents and other caregivers together and approached the bosses as a group and asked for help so that this Saturday issue is sustainable for everyone. I get that you feel you would not have been heard, that is why you gather several like-minded people then request a meeting.

    25. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      yeah, I think a big part of the problem here is that, at this point, the manager has discovered that OP has not worked a single Saturday in three years, which really is not fair to the team. If they had worked at least some of those Saturdays, it might not be as big of an issue. Also, I think the manager is put off that OP clearly lied and said they were just lucky in guessing which Saturdays they would be working. That is really not appropriate of OP. As for OP thinking that if they let the manager know their method, everyone would use it … well, that would level the playing ground at least. I am sure OP is not the only one who has to deal with childcare or other issues due to working on occasional Saturdays. And while I think that the manager is being ridiculous in trying to spy on OP, OP’s dishonesty is what caused this issue. They needed to come clean when called out.

      Right now, the manager needs to sit OP down and tell them that they are required to work Saturdays sometimes and manager is going to stop allowing OP to game the leave system to get out of it since OP is imposing on team members.

      As for the question of why the manager is not simply rejecting the leave requests – there may be company policies that require all leave requests be approved first come first serve and the manager is not in a position to refuse. But I think the manager would be better served speaking to her manager or to HR or anyone in charge to allow an exception to the policy since OP is abusing the system.

    26. Astro*

      Agreed. And something about his letter wreaks like he and his brother-in-law think it’s funny he outsmarted his manager. That, and he admitted he directly lied to his supervisor (saying “lucky guess”). I wonder if this isn’t the only suspicious thing he has done, leading to the additional inquiries/lurking.

    27. Astro*

      Alos, when he does this, does that mean that he’s forcing another coworker to cover his Saturday shift? So someone is doing 20-30 Saturdays?

    28. Anonymous Hippo*

      I was more concerned with the ethics of the company knowing they needed Saturday work way in advance but refusing to tell anyone until after it was too late for them to schedule off.

  2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    OP2 – “something came up” would never fly any of the places I have worked. My current job asks you to leave the following information when calling off:
    1. Your Name
    2. Contact phone (in case they need to call you back)
    3. Manager’s name
    4. Type of leave (sick or vacation)
    5. General symptoms (if sick – added during Covid to try and prevent Covid from spreading in the office)
    I know this wouldn’t work everywhere, but works well in our office.

    OP3, Gov’t (whether state or federal) can be a little different than the corporate world. I would say check the handbook, job description, and with your manager. I think total – the world is going to end emergencies – yeah you probably do need to respond, it’s part of being a manager. Checking those resources can help you figure out what your dept. considers a “the world is ending” level emergency.

    1. MGW*

      The only thing with general symptoms I don’t like is that if someone is dealing with a chronic illness (mental or physical) it could sound like it’s forcing them to disclose medical information they otherwise wouldn’t. I suppose they could always lie about it though.

      1. Allonge*

        Yes, what we did was:
        – give an estimate of when you will be back (e.g. tomorrow, couple of days, at least a week, ten doctors don’t know so no clue)
        – for COVID – report COVID suspicion if you have been in the office in the last two weeks (and don’t go there in the next two, duh!)

      2. Juniper*

        It doesn’t even have to be chronic illness though, symptoms are private medical information and shouldn’t have to be shared with an employer. As a workaround for COVID, the form could simply ask if they have any symptoms, and list them in a sidebar.

      3. Audrey Puffins*

        I can see why you’d add it during this pandemic, but I think “possible Covid symptoms, getting checked out” or “not Covid-related, don’t worry!” is about the max that anyone should be expected to offer.

        1. Bagpuss*

          Yes, it would be much more reasonable to have these as the options , if that’s what you actually need to know.

          We currently ask about Covid because of letting other staff know, and also where someone is isolating due to Covid it makes a difference to how soon someone can start to receive Statutory sick Pay, and whether it can be reclaimed from the government, so we need to know, but asking about symptoms generally seems really intrusive and inappropriate.
          (I mean, if one of my employees is off due to a stomach bug the last thing I want is details of their symptoms, and if they are off because of a whole lot of other things, from mental health issues to early miscarriage to really embarrassing accident, then expecting them to give details is unkind to them and again, probably much more than I want to know about)

          We do ask whether people have an idea of when they may be back, as obviously that can be relevant to how their work is dealt with

      4. Beth*

        It sounds like this was added for COVID. If it’s as simple as “Do you have these COVID-like symptoms, yes or no?” then I think it’s fine. If it’s asking people to list their symptoms more broadly, then I’d have concerns that it might create a culture within the company where it’s normalized for employees to feel like they have to share medical details, which obviously wouldn’t be ideal.

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      If I had to disclose symptoms (srsly, wtf?), I would say “I got my period and I’m bleeding like a damn stuck pig” in the hope it would embarrass management enough to eliminate that requirement.

      1. WS*

        At my workplace you only have to disclose symptoms if they’re on the COVID checklist, the other option is “a medical condition” which is nicely generic.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Since I learned from this site about possible over intrusive health questions, my planned go to response is, “I have something wrong with my vagina.”

      3. Rainy*

        “I’m a little under the weather” is the farthest I want to go, but if you push me, I’ll absolutely tell you that (for example) they changed the ingredients on something I ate and I’m going to be going double-dragon for the next day and a half due to Stealth Turmeric.

        If someone said to me, two days after starting a new job “I won’t be in, something came up” I’m going to assume they’re sparing my sensibilities and don’t want to tell me they got food poisoning.

    3. LifeBeforeCorona*

      If it is a govt job, generally you have to fill out a leave form and there isn’t space for “something came up”. That’s my experience at least. I recall the Ice Storm of 98 and a special code was created because people weren’t sick or on vacation, they just literally couldn’t get to work and in some cases for a few weeks.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m both gov’t and healthcare adjacent, so yeah, rules are a touch different from the general corporate world.

        And unfortunately half of my shift got COVID – from somebody who came in symptomatic and lied – its not a perfect system, but nothing can be. I’ve heard inklings that we’re going back to the prior “be back blah” system soon.

    4. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      By general symptoms manager is asking more like: stomach, headache, etc. not an in depth description. In the before times all they wanted was think I’ll be back on blah (with reminder that if it’s more than three days consecutively a dr’s note is needed). They’ve started talking about going back to that now that our area is hopefully on the downswing from Covid.
      We also have access to a separate sick bank just for COVID/possible Covid so manager wanted to know which sick bank to use.

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        It’s still an inappropriate question. If they’re concerned about COVID, it could be a yes/no “are you experiencing any of the following COVID symptoms” checkbox.

        1. Green great dragon*

          We also report general symptoms. I think there’s 8 or 9 (pre-covid) – respiratory (cold/flu), respiratory (other), back pain, other pain – that sort of level. I think they use them to track causes at the aggregate to see whether they need to order better chairs or remind people to keep their flu at home.

    5. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      You should be pushing back on asking about symptoms. COVID reporting was one thing, but that should absolutely not be a permanent part of your policies.

    6. Momma Bear*

      I agree – the “something came up” is not something you can use as a brand new employee. You need more context. I’d have a sit down with the person on Monday to talk about expectations for time off.

    7. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Honestly, I work for a government agency and most government agencies allow you to be completely off the clock when you are on leave (though you may need to set up coverage, but managers can do that). After all, most government jobs rely on their benefits, such as ample leave time, flexibility, healthcare coverage, etc., to make up for the fact that they cannot compete in the private sector with regard to pay. I think checking the handbook is a good idea. I cannot imagine my managers being ok with an expectation that they be answering work calls or emails while they are off. We have three in the office, and when one is out, another is designated as the person to go to (so when my boss is out, I go to the other manager of a different team but in my department, or to my boss’s boss).

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I agree that a supervisor/manager’s leave days are different from after-hours or regular off days. A designated substitute can and should be assigned to act when the leader is on leave. That substitute can brief the leader on actions taken when the leader returns from leave.

        Unfortunately, my company also has a ridiculously broad span of control for salaried managers. It’s a wonder if anything gets communicated back to the absent leader. The middle managers generally work until burned out, then it becomes someone else’s responsibility.

  3. D3*

    “Something came up” can sometimes be shorthand for “It’s really complicated and emotional and I cannot even try to explain succinctly right now.”
    I know I’ve used it that way when my sister (who lived with us at the time) was having a mental health breakdown and we were trying to get her into residential care before she harmed herself. My husband and I were debating an involuntary hold (if we could even do that, we never figured that out.) when I realized I was already 30 min late for work. I knew boss was in a meeting so I just sent a text “Won’t be in today, something came up, talk later.” Ended up in the ER. (and she’s doing well now, it was a turning point)
    When I returned to the office I was under a lot less stress and able to explain in just a few sentences. My boss understood.
    I get where that might be more acceptable as an established employee, but also a new employee may not know how much is safe to reveal, either.
    I’m inclined to recommend that you follow up with her on her return and see what she says.

    1. Working mom*

      I came here to say something similar. “Something came up” for me would be “I’m dealing with something personal and confidential but I just started this job and I don’t want you to make judgements about me before you know me.”

      I can also say that while it looks bad go take a day off in your first week (even first month), transitioning in jobs can complicated your life and especially if it’s a complicated situation you’re not gonna get into it at a new job. That’s how I read it at least.

      1. Joan Rivers*

        “Family emergency” is the phrase here. And as brutal as they can be, they can’t be ongoing and repeated w/o a conversation and resolution.

    2. lyonite*

      I get where you’re coming from, but four days into a new job it’s just not going to cut it. “Family crisis” or “unexpected personal situation” would be better for communicating the (necessary, in this situation) seriousness, while still being sufficiently vague.

      1. Kate*

        +1
        The wording matters. “Family emergency” is very different than “something came up.”

      2. Allonge*

        Yes, there are options between something came up and a full explanation. I am sick, family member is sick and I need to care for them, family emergency works better.

        And yes, manager should follow up – also the employee can be proactive about it, e.g. sorry about Friday, X happened (still no need for a lot of details), is there a process for reporting sick/etc? Long term, I would care more about the follow-up than the exact words chosen in an emergency.

      3. Me*

        It doesn’t matter. There are more appropriate phrasings that can convey the same meaning. It’s actually a kindness to explain to the employee how they come off: it’s such a easily fixable thing, but it can harm their professional development if it’s not fixed.

      4. D3*

        But my WHOLE POINT is that sometimes in a crisis, people should not be expected to make sure they have the exact right wording that takes into account all kinds of factors like newness in the job.
        My WHOLE POINT is that people who are new to the job ALSO deserve the benefit of the doubt and some grace if they don’t word things in the way that you think would “cut it”
        Hold off on deciding that they did something wrong until you have a chance to follow up.
        Why new people are undeserving of grace is something that “doesn’t cut it” for me. Humans are humans. We all deserve kindness and some understanding, no matter how long we’ve been on the job.

        1. SoloKid*

          It’s just a fact new employees won’t be treated the same as someone who has a years long track record of reliability.

          The kindness and understanding should be in that they GET a follow up, and also an explanation that they should say something along the lines of “it’s a crisis/emergency” if they want it to be treated as such in the future.

          1. OhNo*

            Agreed, this is where the kindness and understanding come in for this employee. Let them know that “something came up” is not considered an appropriate explanation in this workplace, give them some examples of what language would be more acceptable, and give them a chance to explain.

            This behavior isn’t “fire them immediately” territory, but I would definitely consider it to be “conversation about professional expectations in this workplace” territory.

          2. D3*

            Doesn’t have to be “a fact” – just takes kindness to change that.
            And I’m advocating for kindness that equally applies to new and established employees.
            Not sure why that’s so controversial. Or why people think new employees deserve less kindness.

            1. Allonge*

              Come on, of course it is fact. We are allowed to treat employees differently based on how they perform. Negative actions have negative consequences – in this case, a discussion on how this is not an appropriate way to call in, because it is really bad communication.

              Also: not informing people that they did something incompatible with workplace norms is not kindness.

          3. Amaranth*

            If the employee is new to the company or new to the workforce in general they might just need to know what proper procedure is. I’ve gone to jobs where the rule is ‘if you’re going to be out sick, make sure you call in’ without a lot of direction. Some offices assume that everyone has a basic standard.

        2. Empress Matilda*

          100% with you on this. I’ve been in the same position – in my case the “something” was a huge stupid fight with my boyfriend. It took way too long to resolve, and it left me too emotionally drained to come up with the exact right words to say to my new boss. I couldn’t say somebody was sick because nobody was, I couldn’t say family emergency because it wasn’t, and I couldn’t tell the truth because it sounds juvenile and also my boss might think I’m in an abusive relationship. And obviously I had to call and say *something,* because not-calling would have been even worse. Hence, “something came up.”

          My boss wanted to know two things – was I alright, and was this “something” likely to come up again. Both very reasonable questions (to which the answers were yes and no respectively.)

          Obviously if it becomes an ongoing problem, you deal with it as such. But if it’s a one-off – meh. Even new people sometimes have stupid things happen, and there’s room for a certain amount of grace even if the person doesn’t have a long track record at that job.

          1. Allonge*

            The phrase ‘I am not feeling well’ was invented for this.

            But even if you say you are sick and it stands for ‘…of fights like this’, it’s conveying more specific information than ‘something came up’.

            I am not saying that people who say something came up are bad, horrible, no good people who should be fired. As you can see here though, it’s incredibly easy to take it the wrong way.

            1. Empress Matilda*

              It’s definitely not ideal, and I think most people understand that. But my point is that sometimes not-ideal things happen, even in people’s first week on a new job.

              Just because something isn’t ideal, doesn’t necessarily mean we have to Do Something About It. There’s no harm in letting this one go. Either it’s part of a pattern or it’s not – and either way it will become clear very soon. If it’s a pattern, deal with it as a pattern; if it really is a one-off, then it’s already over and done with.

              1. Allonge*

                Depends on what you mean by Doing Something. It’s better for everyone if OP discusses ‘how to call in sick/take a personal day’ with their new report instead of waiting for patterns to evolve.

                That is all that I think needs to happen, and that is not a bad thing – it’s a pretty important discussion to have at the beginning of employment, for everyone.

                1. Amaranth*

                  I think you’re right, that there doesn’t need to be *more* than that, though it should be addressed. It doesn’t need to be a Big Thing, maybe the employee was just overwhelmed at the moment and got stuck between honesty and privacy.

      1. Carla K.*

        It’s not that we don’t see that is possible. It’s that it’s still inappropriate even so. “Family emergency” is the phrase you are looking for in this set of circumstances. You don’t need to give a full accounting of the details, you just need to not seem cavalier and unprofessional.

        1. Bostonian*

          Right. And if in the moment “something came up” is all you can get out, it should be followed up later with something more concrete (family emergency, my dog died, I went to ER but am OK now, etc.)

          1. Weekend Please*

            Exactly. Coming from someone who has a good track record for being reliable and having good judgement, “something came up” does convey that it was an emergency. Coming from someone new, it really doesn’t convey that it is an emergency vs. something like “I got unexpected concert tickets.”

      2. Juniper*

        People seem to see this just fine — at least no comment is arguing that there could be no legitimate reason she might have for taking off. But the way it’s phrased doesn’t easily lend itself to the more generous interpretation — “something came up” comes across as a breezy, offhand comment to get out of something, not an acknowledgement of the seriousness of calling in 4 days into a new job.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          This is what I’m thinking. An employee you have experience with (and know their leave patterns) – something came up can slide in the moment because you know them. From a person you don’t know yet it can be weird because you don’t yet know them well enough to know if it’s an emergency or just “I couldn’t see coming to work today.”

        2. Simply the best*

          Exactly. “Something came up” is a white lie you tell to get out of a social engagement you don’t want to go to. It absolutely does not convey “I’m dealing with an emergency and don’t have the emotional capacity to tell you more.”

        3. JustaTech*

          Right, it’s not that the statement is vague, it’s that the new person isn’t acknowledging that it’s serious to call out 4 days into a new job. If the text had said “really sorry, something came up and I won’t make it in on Friday, but I’ll be in on Monday”, that’s still conveying the same vagueness about *why* the new person won’t be in, but also that the new person understands that this is out of the norm.

          (In my experience “something came up” is reserved for minor things, but it’s possible that in other areas “something came up” can also cover more serious/large issues.)

      3. hbc*

        Well, here’s the thing: If the employee comes back on Monday and says, “Sorry, my BIL left a suicide note and went missing and we were all in panic mode*,” then I doubt OP is going to be scolding her for not phrasing it just right. But if it’s something less than a life and death emergency, the employee really has to balance out how hard it is to talk about versus the fact that they’re leaving doubts in the mind of a manager who doesn’t know them well yet. You probably won’t be fired for being the person who just had one unexplained day off in their first week, but you might be if you’re the person who had the day and is taking longer to learn the systems, or who had that day plus a totally-never-happens-I-swear childcare emergency.

        The main problem is, the person who says “Something came up” for an emergency they don’t want to talk about sounds identical to the person who says, “Something came up” for a chance to go to a Tiger’s game. If a manager’s known you a year, they probably know which you are, but a week? They just can’t tell.

        *True example from my life, so I know how big, emotional things can come up at any time.

        1. LTL*

          YMMV but in my experience, the people who’d skip work to go to a Tiger’s game (in their first week, no less) would be perfectly happy to make something up if they felt “something came up” would make them look sketchy.

      4. Cat Lover*

        Disagree.

        “Something came up” could also be “I’m hungover” or something similar.

        Using your words as an adult and practicing open communication is a skill that has to be developed.

    3. Observer*

      The thing is that someone can just as easily say “I have an emergency” which indicates that this is something SERIOUS and not something that could have reasonably been planned for.

      Now, if you already have a track record it doesn’t really matter – your boss knows that if you are sending such a curt message after you normally start, that “something” must be pretty big. But with an essentially unknown person, there is no way to know that.

      1. Willis*

        I agree with you that slightly different wording could really improve the delivery of this message. But, I’d also leave the door open for the possibility that OP’s employee did have an emergency and worded it poorly and was not, in fact, playing tetherball. That leniency may be in part because I misunderstood the title of that post to mean the employee was vaguely absent for four days so when it was only one, it seemed like much less of a big deal.

        I’d also say that the explanation “something came up” would be fine with me from a more tenured employee who had a good track record. You have sick days/personal days and are allowed to use them w/out giving an explanation. In fact we moved a meeting today because my colleague had something personal come up at the last minute. I don’t know what and didn’t really think twice about that.

        1. Colette*

          It’s entirely possible that the OP’s employee did have an emergency they had to deal with – but “something came up” doesn’t convey that, and it’s legitimate that the OP is concerned. “I’m sick”, “A pipe burst and I have to let the plumber in”, “I have a family emergency” all convey that it’s truly something important.

        2. Observer*

          ut, I’d also leave the door open for the possibility that OP’s employee did have an emergency and worded it poorly and was not, in fact, playing tetherball.

          Sure that’s possible. But there is no reason to assume that it’s the most probable explanation. Also, the OP doesn’t indicate that the employee actually DID come back with an explanation on Monday – and also they did not indicate that there would be more information forthcoming.

          It’s still possible that the employee had a genuine and legitimate emergency. But it’s not possible to say that they are not cavalier about the impact.

        3. Teapot supervisor*

          Agreed. If I were OP2, I think I’d file this away in my ‘things I know about this person’ mind folder for the time being.

          If they come in on day five, apologising and explaining there was a really big emergency and they were in a rush to deal with it, write it off as an unfortunate choice of words when under pressure. If you carry on working with them, they turn out alright but they sometimes don’t come across as professional as they might do, then talk to them about wording choice and how to frame things in a work setting. If you carry on working with them and other things strikes you as being a bit cavalier, then maybe the talk you want to be having with them is that, actually, you do need to take your job seriously. And if ‘something comes up’ for them on day seven, day nine, day ten and then you never here from them again, remember the wording so you have an amusing tale to chip in with when people start talking about their nightmare hires.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Bingo. I’d be saying to myself, “Okay that’s ONE.

            I started a job. In week number 6 I fell of a motorcycle at 60 mph. Fortunately (??) cohorts saw me in the ER so they knew my call off was legit. I was super worried about my job even though I was covered in enough gauze to make me look like a walking mummy. (I did not know I had been seen in the ER.) I got a family member to drive me to my workplace (I could not drive). I hobbled in. I could tell I looked bad because of the horror on my boss’ face. (Road rash does that.) I sat down with the boss and talked with him. I let him know that I wanted to see him in person to make sure he understood *I want my job*.

            He was super kind. He thanked me profusely for coming into see him. He said he understood what a huge effort it was just to walk into the building and walk to his office. He understood that I really meant it when I said I wanted my job. He told me not to worry and just focus on healing.

            I went home and slept for the rest of the day. I was out of work for 6 weeks.

            It is very much worth the effort to have that chat with the employer. Hopefully the employee would initiate such a conversation. IF they did not, it might be worthwhile for the boss to say something about the importance of showing up.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        I think, for me, it doesn’t imply emergency, but something serious. For some reason it’s flagging as ‘funeral’ in the back of my mind (I assume someone I’ve heard it used for that at some point), so under the circumstances I’m thinking it’s a significant event they’ve already agreed to before they got this job, that they hadn’t realised clashed with work before they started. It may be something rather more fun than a funeral! Which might be why they don’t want to admit to “Oh, I forgot to request off in advance my fourth day for my sister’s baby shower, but I’m hosting so I can’t not be there”.

    4. Toptoast*

      Same; I’m a little stunned at the level of strong feeling against “something came up.” I’ve been at my current employer for seven years, current job for like seven months, and I’ve used “something came up” when saying “emergency” felt disingenuous and the whole story felt too complicated to get into. Like my non-tech-savvy elderly parents were targeted by a scammer and I felt like I needed to drop everything and drive the 30 miles to their house to make sure their computer and banking information was actually secure (I tried helping them over the phone and couldn’t, and couldn’t concentrate on a single work-related thing until I knew they were all right). I called it an “emergency” to one coworker, and it made me feel like a liar because their concern was too extreme for what the situation actually was and it then felt weird to say “no, no, everything’s fine, I just had to take care of something.” Whereas I told my manager “something came up I have to take care of” and she didn’t even blink — and since she wasn’t primed to think “emergency: meteor, death, massive loss of blood,” I didn’t have to spend a week making vague, evasive-sounding statements because there was no real emergency to describe.

      Being four days into the job and having to take off isn’t great, but I’m just not seeing the red flag everyone else is.

      1. londonedit*

        I don’t think it’s a red flag, but I do think ‘something came up’ has a vague, shoulder-shrugging, ‘meh, not a big deal’ feeling to it. I think context is everything – I’m several years into my job, I’m known to be reliable, I have a good relationship with my boss, and I think if I sent my boss a message tomorrow saying ‘Something’s come up, sorry, won’t be in today’ then they’d take it at face value, they’d probably worry that something actually was quite seriously wrong (because I’ve never called in sick with such an abrupt message before) and they’d probably respond with ‘Hope everything’s OK, see you soon’. But if I’d only been at the job for three days, and on the fourth day I just sent a message saying ‘Something’s come up, won’t be in’, then that looks really flaky. That early on, you’re an unknown quantity and you haven’t built up any capital – for all your boss knows, you could be bunking off to go to the beach, you could be ghosting the job altogether, they just have no idea. There’s no need to go into great detail, but I think some acknowledgement of the fact that it’s not great would go a long way – even ‘I’m so sorry, I know it’s my first week but something urgent has come up and I won’t be able to make it to work today, I’ll plan to be in tomorrow but will of course let you know if anything changes’ would go some way to reassuring the boss that their employee isn’t going to be skipping work every week.

        1. Tau*

          even ‘I’m so sorry, I know it’s my first week but something urgent has come up and I won’t be able to make it to work today, I’ll plan to be in tomorrow but will of course let you know if anything changes’ would go some way to reassuring the boss that their employee isn’t going to be skipping work every week.

          I was going to make this point. You don’t even have to give any extra information, you can even use the “something came up” phrasing, you just have to somehow communicate to the manager “I am aware that this is unprofessional, may leave you in the lurch, and that since I’ve just started it will raise red flags. Please know this is an exceptional situation and not something I would typically do.” If you don’t provide that, immediately if you can or as soon as possible if not, that’s a real breach of professional norms that… well, is more likely to be seen in someone who’s just blowing off work because than in a conscientious hard-working individual who through terrible luck experienced a crisis four days into their new job.

      2. Washi*

        I would probably call that an urgent family matter.

        Basically, the issue to me is that “something came up” is what you say when bailing on happy hour. And once you’ve established yourself at a workplace and know the norms for unexpected time off, you can be that casual, but it’s just not a smart move 4 days into a job. Whatever the wording is, it should convey “I understand it is a big deal to miss work in these circumstances but what is going on in my life is an even bigger deal.”

        That said, I would absolutely cut someone some slack if they used imperfect wording in the moment but explained later it was a family emergency and a one-off.

      3. ecnaseener*

        I think “something came up” is ok for an ordinary day that’s not especially important for you to be there. Your fourth day on the job is not that — you really do need to make it clear that you aren’t being cavalier about missing it, just like you would if you had to miss an important event.

      4. Allonge*

        I think it’s a red flag in this case because it shows that the person has no understanding of office norms.

        I am in the European Union, we have GDPR and all kinds of protections for personal data. I am a known factor (almost ten years here), reliable, I know my boss etc. ‘Something came up’ would never cut it – my boss would probably call me to make sure I have not been kidnapped.

        Also, for me ‘scammer targeting IT-challenged parents, financials at risk’ IS an emergency. Not all emergencies involve blood.

        1. Observer*

          Also, for me ‘scammer targeting IT-challenged parents, financials at risk’ IS an emergency. Not all emergencies involve blood.

          I agree.

      5. Observer*

        Same; I’m a little stunned at the level of strong feeling against “something came up.”

        And I’m a bit shocked at how dismissive people are being at a significant failure to communicate. You have a track record, so people know that when you say “something came up” you mean “something significant and serious that needs immediate attention, but not life threatening” even if they are not specifically thinking that. A new hire simply doesn’t have that kind of standing.

        And there are SO many ways that this person could have been better communicated without getting into details. Even just “I’m so sorry to do this in my first week, but something really urgent came up.” is totally different. Or even just adding the words “really urgent”. Still not 100% but it does indicate the most important thing – that the employee understands that you don’t just not show up less than a week into your new job unless you NEED to be out.

      6. rachel in nyc*

        But I think that’s to some degree the point. If you work someplace where you can’t just take off, your situation with your parents would still qualify as a ‘family emergency’- same as my supervisor needing to urgently deal with family legal matters or someone needing to watch their sick kid.

        And you can say ‘something came up’ because you’ve been there- you are conveying it’s an emergency.

        But 4 days in? ‘Something came up’ could be anything from ‘I got a call back for my dream job’ to ‘someone is dead.’ I think most people are going to assume it’s the first.

        1. Toptoast*

          I just don’t follow why the meaning of “something came up” would change.

          If the person is reliable, you’re going to find out. And if they’re unreliable, you’re going to find out. It seems crazy to ascribe so much to a simple turn of phrase that many people obviously interpret so differently.

          1. Allonge*

            The meaning does not change (there is no meaning, this is placeholder text).

            You get extended grace based on years of experience of being reliable. If someone has a history of not being reliable, the assumption will go the other way.

            With zero experience, there is no way to fill in the blank. It’s bad communication for everyone!

      7. Cat Lover*

        I feel the opposite.

        I think a lot of adults are allergic to communicating with each other, and other adults try to make excuses for it.

        1. Observer*

          I think a lot of adults are allergic to communicating with each other, and other adults try to make excuses for it.

          Why make excuses for failure to communicate? Refusal and / or inability to communicate reasonably is at the core of a huge amount of trouble and dysfunction. In this context, the probability is high that the person is either cavalier about their responsibilities or communicates poorly enough to be a problem.

          1. Cat Lover*

            Yep, that’s what I’m saying. OP #1 decided to game the system instead of having a conversation.

      8. elle*

        Now that I have been in my job a year and am working totally independently in a job with very hands-off management, I agree that it would be just fine to say “something came up” — my boss knows I have my responsibilities under control and trusts my judgement that if I need to handle something outside work I’m only doing what’s necessary to handle it. She may or may not ever ask for follow-up info. although I would naturally tell her about it when I had the chance because that’s just my personality. If it were any time in my first few months, though, this would have come across *really* strangely. It’s just very different when a person is brand new and not working at all independently yet, and hasn’t built up any reserve of trust.

      9. Not So NewReader*

        At least saying the part about “that I had to take care of” opens the conversation a tiny bit. I could say something like, “Are things okay now? Do you need something?” A couple more words give a supervisor something to go on.

    5. Person from the Resume*

      You can use almost the exact same phrase and convey that you are not cavalier about missing work by saying

      – An emergency came up.
      – A family/personal emergency came up.
      – Something urgent came up.
      – Something that I must deal with today came up.

      “Something” is extremely vague and is used by people to mean emergencies and fun opportunities. A new hire is an unknown quantity so using it on what should be her 4th day is suspicious. When you’re still working on making a good first impression, being vague is not the way to go. If it is urgent or an emergency she could say that without going into details.

      1. Elenna*

        Or even “something came up” but add “I know it’s my first week, I’m really sorry, it’s just not possible for me to come in today”. Still vague phrasing but it at least makes it clear that the employee isn’t just being flaky.

      2. Toptoast*

        And if she was really flaking off, she could also say, “I’m so sorry; I have a migraine and I can’t come in.” If you’re going to be suspicious of calling out in the first week, why does it matter why the person’s calling out?

        Really the point I, and others, are trying to make is that not everyone 1) ascribes the same meaning to a phrase, 2) has any idea that others are ascribing a certain very cavalier meaning to it. I had no idea some people thought it was so cavalier until I read these comments. A truly flaky person will show their true colors… or learn to take advantage of a manager who never questions “I have a migraine” but becomes the KGB at “Something came up.” I just wouldn’t take it so deeply at this point.

        1. OhNo*

          Because the language they use gives some insight into how seriously they take the job. Someone who ducks out for fun times in their first week but recognizes that that is not okay in a professional environment might make up a lie. Someone who ducks out for fun times in their first week but doesn’t recognize that as a problem might just say “something came up”.

          When you have no context for who a person is or how they behave in a professional environment, every little interaction counts. Every comment is another data point in your understanding of them, this is just one for the negative column. From my perspective, it seemed like the LW was just checking to see what their response should be.

        2. Yorick*

          Well, to be honest, I’d rather work with someone who at least understands office norms enough to lie about the reason they’re taking the day off. There are people who are always super cavalier about showing up or getting their stuff done and working with those people is hard.

        3. meyer lemon*

          A major feature of this site is that it provides information so that workers can make choices that are in their best interest. Don’t you think it’s useful information to know that if you say “Something came up” to a new boss who doesn’t know you well, there’s a good chance it will make a bad impression? No one is saying the employee is a terrible person for using this phrasing, just that it probably isn’t going to serve them well.

          If they were truly in the middle of a crisis and weren’t able to finesse their language, I think a reasonable manager will be understanding if they explain that in broad terms when they return to the office.

      1. Toptoast*

        Yes, I would have, because until today I had no idea this was shorthand for “I don’t care about anything but myself” :p

        Perhaps local culture plays a bigger role in the meaning of words than people are giving credit for here, too. It seems like two groups here, the group that assumes it means “no big deal, I’m just not feeling it today” and the group that assumes it means “a serious non-emergency situation I don’t feel like getting into right now.” After all, what’s preventing a flaky person from saying “I HAVE A SERIOUS EMERGENCY” and then going to the bar? I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt, and when there are so many possible meanings, not to pin such an exact and damning interpretation on someone without evidence that they’re flaking off.

        1. Cat Lover*

          Right, but as people are saying, that’s a willing lack of communication. It’s an active choice not to give any details.

          Also, a huge part of this is that the employee in question is a new hire. There is no rapport there.

        2. Chantel*

          “I prefer to give the benefit of the doubt, and when there are so many possible meanings, not to pin such an exact and damning interpretation on someone without evidence that they’re flaking off.”

          Four days in and calling in without anything other than “Something came up” IS evidence of ‘flaking off.’ The employee should have said (by telephone) what others have noted: “Something has come up unexpectedly and I won’t be in today. Having just started my position, I realize this is an unusual request, but I can assure you I must take the day off. I’ll fill you in when I am able to.”

          Sometimes, we owe details. Not weeds details, but something other than “I’m out!” Given the awful advice of career counselors as noted fairly frequently in this blog, I wonder if people new to the workforce are being told that privacy matters above all else, and no explanation necessary/required for calling out, no matter when or for whatever reason. Because what counselors should be saying is that calling out after only a few days into a job can create doubt, when it needn’t, with proper explanations.

          It’s depressing to see the leniency people expect, when they’ve not done much, if anything, to earn it.

        3. sacados*

          I think the “something came up” wording can still work, but it needs to be paired with an acknowledgement that your first week on the job is not a great time to do this.
          Something like “I understand how this may look/I normally would never take off like this during my first week, but something came up and I am not able to be in on Friday.”
          Even just that goes a long way to show that the employee understands that just casually taking a day off in your first week of work is generally Not Done — which is the most important part here.
          I totally agree with you about giving the employee the benefit of the doubt, so this just means that OP needs to have a talk with her on Monday to find out more and kindly educate her around the norms about this kind of thing (if it’s an honest “new to the office world and just doesn’t yet know how this stuff works” kind of mistake). Or potentially the convo shows OP that the employee really did decide to ditch work on a whim, in which case it’s an important data point to keep a closer eye on the employee and see if they are going to work out in the position.

    6. Jennifer*

      I feel like if they hired this employee for a reason, they interviewed well and they did their due diligence checkeing references and no red flags came up about calling out too much, then give the employee the benefit of the doubt and give them a chance to go forward. Transitioning into a new job is hard, there may have been issues with child/elder care or even something needed at her old job that no one else could do.

    7. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      Yeah, I think it is only ok if you have that rapport with your boss though, not on the fourth day. To me, it sounded very flippant and not the way to address a last minute “request” for leave. I am with Alison on this one!

    8. SnappinTerrapin*

      Calling off should be a conversation, not a text or email. This ensures the message is received and that permission is granted. This cuts down on miscommunication, and ensures the manager has a reasonable opportunity to make alternate arrangements.

      I know that life happens, often at inopportune times, and the circumstances are sometimes awkward and embarrassing. Even so, “something came up” is too vague and cavalier, especially n-in the early stages of employment. “Family emergency” and “illness” don’t have to be explained in excruciating detail. The caller’s tone of voice will give the manager some insight into the urgency of the need.

      If an employee wants a manager to be compassionate and considerate, it is incumbent on the employee to put forth some effort to enable the manager to figure out how to manage to balance the employee’s emergency against the responsibility to get the team’s job done. That requires communication, not an ipso facto demand to accommodate an unspecified demand for time off on short notice.

  4. morni*

    #2 new employee went full vague in the disclosing reasons for not going to work spectrum. When tenured employees say that, it usually implies that the manager is also already somewhat aware what might have gone on.

    “Oh, Evie usually took days off due to childcare/pet/doctor’s appointment, could be that again.” or “Evie recently mentioned she got a new dog, that might be it.”

  5. D3*

    OP1: Your manager’s level of sneaking around matches your level of sneakiness. Pot, meet kettle.
    Just talk to your manager. And maybe work some Saturdays so you coworkers are not stuck doing it ALL. That’s not a great look, either.

    1. Well...*

      I don’t want to encourage dishonesty, but if I were OP and I were committed to the lie, I would just bite the bullet and work a random Saturday. Then the whole lucky story would be more plausible. Plus the advanced notice would help with organizing child care.

      1. Jo*

        Yeah, I thought this too. If the employee only took some Saturdays off rather than all of them, they would be more likely to be able to carry on. They might have to start working Saturdays anyway if management clamps down on them taking Fridays off before the Saturday shift. Having said that, the employer isn’t helping the situation by only giving a week’s notice. If they gave more notice, OP and others might have more chance of arranging childcare or rearranging other Saturday commitments.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          yeah, I think the part where OP used the information to not work any Saturdays for three years is a huge issue and why OP got called out on it. OP could have used this information to arrange childcare and then requested leave on those occasions where none would be available, and the situation might not have ever been noticed. But never working a Saturday and also obviously lying when asked about how they knew when the work would be scheduled … yeah, bad move on OP’s part.

        1. WellRed*

          I thought the OP would say they found a way to take oh, half the Saturdays off or something. But they haven’t worked a Saturday in THREE years! That’s shocking to me that they did that.

          1. Washi*

            Yeah, I have a certain respect for gaming the system but you can’t do this and then be shocked and outraged that someone (belatedly IMO) figured it out.

      2. Generic Name*

        Honestly, this is probably the most helpful advice for the OP on here. Everyone is clutching their pearls over the OP’s deception. While I agree that OP shouldn’t have lied to their manager’s face, I can totally understand why they acted this way. Many workplaces have a very workers versus management environment, where each sees the other as the enemy, and I guess I have a soft spot for the underdog. The OP has taken a shitty system and figured out how beat it! Like why can’t management tell workers 3 weeks in advance when they’ll need to work a Saturday? OP surely can’t be the only one whose life is severely disrupted by having to work a Saturday in quite short notice.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          It’s too late. The LW mysteriously managed to work no Saturdays for 3 years, gets found out, and suddenly starts working the next few Saturdays? It’s still very obvious what’s been going on.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            But if the problem was that the LW never works Saturdays, then the problem is solved, and the supervisor can move on.

            1. Simply the best*

              Eh, one problem is solved. But OP’s straight lie to their boss’s face (and “lucky guess” isn’t just any lie, it’s a very pointed “I’m lying to your face and both of us know it” lie) has probably created quite another problem.

            2. Amaranth*

              What OP should have done is said ‘oh, its always been obvious from the delivery schedule, I figured if it was a problem, my requests wouldn’t have been approved. I really can’t work weekends.’ The fact they were hired for weekdays-only was a discussion they should have had three years ago.

            3. BuildMeUp*

              It seems like at this point the problem is that the supervisor thinks the OP is doing something shady and has access to info they shouldn’t have, because the OP lied when the supervisor asked them about it. Unfortunately, working a Saturday isn’t going to solve that problem.

    2. Monty & Millie's Mom*

      Yeah, if the OP is the only one who orders parts for the line, then the coworkers may not even have the chance to put 2 and 2 together to do the same thing, and that’s not really a level playing field. OP can act as self-righteous as s/he wants, but seriously dude, you know it’s hinky, so either deal with your supervisor’s bad behavior as a result of your own, or be the adult here and talk about it, or just work a Saturday or two, or let your entire production line know about the loophole so they can do the same thing, or take turns, or something less icky than you are doing.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        Thing is OP doesn’t want to let anyone else know in case they start asking for Saturdays too, so that means other people have access to this info.

    3. Red Swedish Fish*

      This, I can’t say much because this triggers my anger from having to work weekends for the boss’s nephew who had Frat responsibilities and could not work Friday nights or Saturdays at all (he monitored the keg on Friday parties and Saturday was for hangovers). But 3 years of no Saturdays when your co-workers have had to because they didn’t have the same access is such a a jerk move.

    4. Ins mom*

      OP said 10-15 times a year. I’d take an occasional one to smooth things over with coworkers also it should be possible to arrange occasional Saturday child care

  6. Bob*

    What’s unethical? LW1 is using PTO they accrued and requesting leave based on information they properly have access to so they can take care of their family responsibilities. PTO isn’t a loophole.

    It’s up to the employer to deny LW1’s leave requests if they’re causing hardship for others (and there’s no indication that they actually are or that LW1 doesn’t care about the coworkers…. that’s just an assumption).

    1. Anononon*

      I’m not sure if I would call it unethical, but it is super sketchy when OP deliberately lies to their boss about how they always get Saturdays off.

      1. Bob*

        This is fair criticism of LW1. This is a mis-nested comment so the “unethical” is responding directly to another comment.

      2. Pikachu*

        Yeah, the lying is what soured me on this. If it comes to light, this blip of dishonesty could create a much bigger problem with the company not trusting OP with access to information.

        1. Weekend Please*

          I agree. That is exactly where the problem comes in. I don’t think anything was wrong until he lied about how he was figuring out which days to take off.

      3. one more scientist*

        Yet, is it really lying to say “lucky guess”? OP noticed a correlation between delivery days and production work. But they are not actually seeing the work schedule, they are just assuming that Saturday delivery=Saturday work. Maybe it’s more like an educated guess, but the bottom line is that OP really doesn’t know for sure what the work schedule will be. So far they have been correct, but things could change.

        1. BRR*

          yes it really is lying to say lucky guess. “If I see an outbound shipment for the item my line makes on a Saturday, it means we will be scheduled for production that Saturday.” That’s not an educated guess, that’s stating it as fact.

          1. Darren*

            The item could theoretically be produced on Friday and merely shipped on Saturday. It’s just historically that it seems that if there is an item scheduled for outbound shipment Saturday it is highly unlikely it’ll actually be completed Friday and thus will require someone to work Saturday to handle it.

            Interestingly with this employee taking the Friday off it’s probably increased the likelihood that Saturday work is required for the Saturday shipment, which would actually be less likely if they went with a fair scheduling mechanism.

            1. Anononon*

              Is it really necessary to go down the hypothetical rabbit hole? OP has had a 100% success rate for the past three years. I think we’re a bit beyond “lucky guess”.

            2. virago*

              What’s with the fanfiction here? If OP is really clairvoyant, then they should quit and tell fortunes and make $1 million a year. Otherwise, I think it’s safe to assume that OP is lying.

        2. Your Local Password Resetter*

          Yes. If you have reliable information that lets you consistently predict something, you’re not guessing.

          OP was deliberately hiding what they were doing, which looks really sketchy.

        3. Smithy*

          I’m with this view – as well as the notion that so often it’s easier to blame individual workers than management. This company has a situation where it now has semi-regular Saturdays and the management has done nothing to review how scheduling and hiring of that team is done to regulate the process.

          It may be that the OP’s supervisor is also not being looped in by management and given more opportunity to rethink scheduling. Instead of having that discussion with management, the OP’s supervisor is focusing their energy on one employee’s schedule.

          Also – I’m going to assume that working Saturdays likely comes with overtime and/or other financial value add where the OP may be burning through the majority if not at least half of their PTO just to not work Saturdays. That’s really a rather high price and certainly not the same as finding ways to be constantly scheduling sick days.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            One more point against management: they know which Saturdays will be production days weeks in advance, otherwise they wouldn’t be scheduled as shipping days. But they’re only giving employees five days warning that they’ll have to work that Saturday. That’s a pretty crummy thing to do.

            OP isn’t the only one being sneaky here.

            1. Smithy*

              Sneaky policies result in sneaky behavior.

              The OP may or may not be beloved by his coworkers, but unless I’m wildly off on this pay structure – staff working these Saturdays is getting paid OT? There are very often people that would be thrilled to have as much OT as possible, even if working Saturdays results in some grumbling. No different than working Mondays….

              There just have to be better ways to approach this.

            2. virago*

              If you read the rest of the comments, the hierarchy in manufacturing means that OP’s boss doesn’t actually have a hell of a lot of power. It’s one of those godawful jobs with a lot of responsibility but very little authority. (Kind of like being a manager at McDonald’s.) I doubt that OP’s manager is the one who’s signing off on not giving everyone notice of Saturday work.

              And OP isn’t doing a whole lot to promote openness and transparency and to help other people who work there. Instead of going to their co-workers and saying, “It sucks that we never know when we have to work Saturdays. What can we do about it?” OP figured out this One Weird Trick and now is freaked out that they might get called on it.

        1. OhNo*

          The fact that they only give out employee schedules a week in advance also leaves me biased on the LW’s side. It’s hard to plan things like childcare and family obligations with only a week of notice, and the fact that this company does that as a matter of course is pretty disrespectful of their employees’ lives outside of work.

          (Having worked in retail and other environments that do schedules week-to-week, I get why they might have to do that logistically. But it still sucks for employees, and I wouldn’t blame the employees for doing what they must to be able to plan further in advance.)

          1. Momma Bear*

            A week in advance but they want PTO requests 2 weeks in advance, so they’re trying to lock in people with no choice.

        2. BuildMeUp*

          I think the manager has gone way over the top, but I also think part of that is the OP’s fault for lying. Instead of coming clean, they told what is probably an obvious lie. If I were the manager, I would assume the lying meant that the OP is figuring out the schedule by doing something they shouldn’t be, which does warrant an investigation.

    2. Well...*

      Yes, it’s “cheating” a very strangely constructed system that should be able to adjust itself to be more fair but continues not to. It’s hard to tell who’s at fault wrt fair division of work, but when it’s ambiguous I lean towards blaming management.

      1. Forrest*

        Yeah, I feel enormously sympathy for LW1 here. The employer has changed the working pattern on them, childcare IS a nightmare, and frankly I think it’s up to employers to make sure this kind of weirdly adversarial relationship never develops, especially in lower-paid jobs where your staff don’t have a huge number of other options.

        1. Colette*

          The employer changed the days of work 7 hours after the OP started the job, and 3 years ago. If the OP had an infant when he started, that child is now 10. And he’s had 3 years to find childcare.

            1. Forrest*

              Or his child is 4, born right before they changed the hours– so many possibilities!

          1. ?*

            Where are you getting that the employer changed the days of work “7 hours after the OP started the job”? It says over the course of several years in the letter

    3. MK*

      When the OP took this job, they never had to work weekends. Three years ago that changed, which is a thing that happens if you stay in a job 10 years. Obviously the OP doesn’t have a contract about not working Saturdays, and it’s not even clear if they communicated to the company that no weekend work is a requirement for them. Instead of looking into childcare options or asking for an expemption from weekend work or even looking for another job, they figured out a way to get out of it by requesting leave. By doing this they are shirking part of the job duties and probably offloading it on their coworkers. By the way, the whole description of when Saturday work happens suggests to me there is an actual business need for a team to do so, not a random whim of the employer.

      Technically the OP isn’t breaking any rules, but they are behaving in an underhand manner (I don’t know that I would call it unethical, that’s a strong word). On the other hand, their manager is also not breaking any rules either, and the OP is seriously annoyed. I am thinking it’s karma: they sneaked around to get put of doing part of their job and are rewarded with a paranoid manager who sneaks around trying to find out what’s going on.

      1. Well...*

        Yea this is such a weird situation. OP may be shirking his duties, but the only reason that’s working is because management is shirking their duties to make sure Saturdays off are being given fairly.

        I guess I would feel crappy doing that to my coworkers if I were OP, but like management should have stepped in so long ago. It takes minimal effort to correct this problem and instead management is behaving very strangely.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        I have so many questions!

        Is the Saturday work overtime? Are they being paid overtime?

        At most places, taking a Friday vacation day does not automatically mean you’d also get Saturday off too IF that day is commonly worked (think retail).

        Are other employees not allowed to take weekends off because OP is booking them all in advance? Because if so, you’re being really sucky OP.

        And finally, while I get this workaround initially, OP says it’s been THREE YEARS! That’s more than enough time to find other childcare options or have your wife adjust her hours, or to talk to management about equitably breaking up the Saturday crew or alternating people, or days off if there is Saturday orders. I understand sometimes there is a lot of pressure to work weekends, but if employees don’t like it there are other solutions to be had.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          The system sucks.
          – Saturday is not a normal work day so you can’t request Saturday off in the PTO system.
          – If you happen to request Friday off and it is approved, you are also off on Saturday if we happen to work Saturday. (The same crew who worked Friday must work Saturday.)

          You must request PTO two weeks in advance, but you don’t find out about a Saturday work day until less than two weeks out so you can’t request a Friday off to get the Saturday off without chancing that that Saturday is not a work day … unless you’re the LW who’s found loophole that you only have access to because of your special role. Not even the LW’s manager gets advance notice of the work Saturdays, and I bet they are one of the ones working nearly every Saturday work day.

        2. Lizzy May*

          If I understand the system properly, other employees can’t book weekends off independent of what the OP is doing.

          -All employees must book time off at least two weeks in advance of the requested day
          -Employees only find out about Saturday work the week before they must work even though someone above them should know weeks in advance based on what the OP is seeing on the intranet

          So even if the OP was working Saturdays, everyone else would be stuck with Saturdays too because they aren’t given enough warning about the work to book it off. The OP isn’t playing totally fair lying to his supervisor but the company is way worse by setting up a system that denies employees the opportunity to secure any Saturdays off.

    4. Lola Banks*

      Agreed. OP is using PTO. If there are grounds to deny the vacation requests, their boss should deny them.

      Otherwise, let it go.

      If it’s that big of a deal, the real solution would be for this employer to improve the “employees must work on random, unpredictable weekends on short notice” scenario.

    5. English, not American*

      They’re using their PTO to get two days’ leave for the price of one at the expense of their coworkers. How is that not unethical?

      1. STG*

        The whole Saturday off if you have Friday off deal is part of their policies though. You can’t fault them for the ‘leave for price of one’ either.

        I think they are letting their coworkers down but I’ve got zero ethical issue with a person following company policies regarding PTO.

        1. English, not American*

          Just because something is allowed by a poorly constructed system doesn’t make it ethical. Exploiting a loophole that others don’t have access to in order to gain something at the expense of those others certainly meets my bar for unethical.

          1. Claire*

            Who’s expense is it at? We haven’t heard about coworkers, only the supervisor. I don’t know how familiar you are with manufacturing in the US, but at several plants near my hometown they have sent people home from production lines last minute with reduced or no pay because of supply shortages. Employees can’t even count on a reliable 40 hours pay, so I’m not too worried about them using their PTO in accordance with policy but somehow “hurts” management.

          2. Lizzy May*

            The problem is the employer has set up a system where other employees couldn’t book a Saturday off even if OP worked. Not telling people about the Saturdays until the week of when the policy is you have to book time off two weeks before is a garbage system and the employer almost certainly knows it but are happy to benefit from it.
            The only way other employees could know would be if the OP shared the info he gained from the loophole and I doubt the employer would be a fan of that move either.

          3. STG*

            I don’t see how it’s unethical to use a policy created by the company regarding Friday also giving Saturday off. I don’t even see how ethics even comes into it.

            Now, how he’s going about it, well that’s a bit questionable but the point that he gets ‘two for one’ isn’t an ethical question.

          4. Massive Dynamic*

            What about the ethics of the company adding Saturdays a few years ago to put more $$ in the owner’s pocket without setting up a proper system for existing staff to handle it, work out scheduling, adding staff, etc. They’re the ones who think their staff exists in some sort of stasis every Saturday unless they’re summoned in.

            I’m team OP all the way here. At the same time, OP, this isn’t good for you in the long run. Get out, get to a different company where you’ll have set days again, and build up your PTO to take a real vacation.

    6. MicroManagered*

      Because they’re using their PTO and the info that they have access to, to manipulate the scheduling system in their favor. I’m sure OP1 has access to the delivery system for a business purpose, not for planning their vacation days in a way that leaves their coworkers with ALL of the less desirable shifts.

    7. CRM*

      I agree that this is the company’s responsibility. If they don’t want this to happen, then they should mandate that employees work at least X number of Saturdays every quarter/year/whatever time period. This is how many M-F jobs with weekend call shifts are set up. I do think that OP is being a little selfish, but the fact that the loophole exists in the first place is more of an issue than the fact that OP is using it.

      1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        I don’t think OP is necessarily wrong for finding a system to avoid working Saturdays and using it. But it obviously isn’t something management would be ok with if they knew it. OP had a good run for three years, but now the jig is up. OP might have managed to make the whole system work longer if he had worked at least a few of those Saturdays, at least five a year. But where he really screwed up is in lying when called out on it. Saying it was just luck was a BAD idea. It clearly was nothing to do with luck, and manager is right to be angry about that (though stalking OP’s computer usage is ridiculous … better to stop approving leave on Saturdays for OP – this might not be an option if there is a policy of first come, first serve leave request approval), or flat out telling OP that he must work at least X numbers of Saturdays a year.

        However, I also think that whatever OP is looking at to figure out when they are working Saturdays is something the manager does not know about or know to look at, so the manager may not know more than a week in advance when the team had to work on a Saturday. I think the manager needs to simply stop approving leave requests from OP or talk to upper management or HR about what they can do to ensure that OP cannot continue to game the system. Yes, the company needs to handle this. But OP has made a huge mess of this and handled it very poorly.

    8. Indisch Blau*

      Something that hasn’t been mentioned yet as far as I can tell: If employees who don’t have OP’s advanced knowledge need a Saturday off, they’re forced to take the Friday as well, in order to guarantee the Saturday. Say I’m invited to a local wedding (i.e. no travel required). Then a Saturday shift is scheduled and I’m screwed. I’d try to avoid this happening by requesting the Friday and using PTO that I don’t really need.

      1. sacados*

        My read was that it’s because of the “two weeks in advance” rule. Theoretically OP could go to their boss today and say “I’d like July 10 off,” but that doesn’t work in practice because the response would be “Oh, but that’s a Saturday, I don’t know if we’ll need to work that day.” So instead, OP is requesting the 9th off, knowing that will cover Saturday as well.
        Whereas another employee might have a local wedding to go to on the 10th, but they wouldn’t find out about needing to work that day until one week beforehand, and therefore too short notice to be “allowed” to request time off.
        Which I think goes to show how this system is flawed in general — I mean, what *does* happen in that instance?? It can’t be that rare of an occurrence– unless all the employees are just “on call” for all Saturdays and know they can never count on any plans that day …. which seems very unrealistic.

        1. Indisch Blau*

          If I got an invitation in March for a wedding on July 3 or bought baseball tickets or whatever, I would put in my request for July 2 as soon as I rsvped yes (or paid for the tickets) just to make sure I had the Saturday off and possibly “wasting” my PTO. And I would not be happy about it.

    9. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

      It’s gaming a system at the expense of coworkers. And it is one thing to do it, but OP was dumb to not work any of the Saturdays, because once the manager caught on, there was no way OP could effectively deny they had a system like that in place. And once called out on it, OP should have explained that they looked at this system and saw when they would be working Saturdays, rather than lie and say they were lucky. Three years without working a Saturday is really obviously not a case of luck! So that was a great way to cause a major problem with the manager.

      Also, I assume there must be a policy where leave has to be approved on a first come, first serve basis until it reaches a point where approving more leave will be leaving the unit short-staffed. Otherwise, denying OP’s requests for Saturdays off would be the obvious solution to the issue. But I admit that I am speculating on the leave approval issue.

    10. Astro*

      It seems like they are using PTO to get 2 days off instead of one, while his coworkers work extra.

  7. L6orac6*

    #2 Was this person attending an interview? As most people are likely to be applying for a number of jobs at the same time, this person could of been waiting to hear from them and maybe they did. This might of been the preferred job they had applied for, rather than the one they’ve already started at.

    1. ZSD*

      This is what I thought as well. They have an interview for a job they’d prefer, and they might be about to quit their new job with little to no notice.

      1. pancakes*

        That might be, but it still doesn’t make sense for the employee to be so vague about not coming in. There’s no advantage whatsoever to saying “something came up” rather than something more professional (“I’m sorry for such short notice but I’m having a family emergency,” etc.). Wanting another job and actually being offered another job are two very different things.

  8. Hosta*

    Letter #4, it will be fine if you use Alison’s script. If your new job has you do an introductory email or has an internal directory you can put the correct pronunciation in those places. My company recently added the ability to include an audio file of us saying our names and it is so handy.

    There may be a person who feels horrible about mispronouncing your name and makes a small scene. If you act like it was no big deal they’ll get over it. If they disagree with you about the pronunciation of your name “I use ” said flatly usually works for me.

    It is pretty common to not correct the pronunciation of your name in an interview. I have a very unusual name that includes the same vowel pronounced two different ways and a sound not common in English. I don’t bother correcting people’s pronunciation unless there’s a good chance we’ll interact regularly. The “that’s an unusual name” and “I know someone with that name but they pronounce it ” conversations got old before I graduated high school. In an interview I’d much rather discuss my accomplishments and skills than how I ended up with my name.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, very well put. Trying to correct the pronunciation of your name might label you as “difficult” in the eyes of interviewers and count against you in hiring. That said, once you start working at a new job, it’s a different matter. Everyone should make a genuine effort to pronounce everyone’s name correctly, but I do think that if your name contains phonemes that are uncommon in the language you speak at work, expecting everyone to pronounce it as a native might be too much to ask. Adults have varying abilities to learn phonemes they weren’t exposed to as children. For example, I’m pretty much tone deaf, and with all the will in the world there’s no way I’ll be able to pronounce names in tonal languages like a native speaker.

      I’m bilingual from birth and have a name that’s common in both languages, but pronounced differently in each. It’s also one of the most common names in the Western world, and versions of it exist in pretty much every European language and in the Middle-East. So I got used to people pronouncing my name differently from birth, depending on their language. Heck, *I* pronounce it differently depending on the language I’m speaking.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Let’s not repeat that kind of thing here — correcting the pronunciation of your name will not label you as “difficult” with any but the most ridiculous interviewer.

      2. BRR*

        For the being labeled difficult part, it’s really not a big deal to correct someone when you’re meeting for the first time and I highly doubt you’d be labeled difficult. If someone has only read your name and not heard it, it’s perfectly normal to just say “oh it’s AHn-drea (for Andrea, this was the only example my insomnia brain could think of).”

        Or if someone is going to label you difficult for this, which again isn’t that likely, remember interviewing is a two-way street and would you want to work for someone who labels you difficult for stating how to say your name?

        1. allathian*

          Fair points. I don’t think you’d be labeled as “difficult” if you mention it once or twice in a straightforward manner, “oh, by the way, I pronounce my name “shawra”, not “sarah”. Any reasonable person would take their cue from that. But it’s important to be straightforward, and not give any smidgen of an impression of “you’re doing it wrong, how dare you.” That’s unlikely to go down well.

          The point about interviewing being a two-way street is a good one. To be fair, a large proportion of those who are likely to be exposed to being misnamed are also members of disadvantaged groups who may not have the luxury of turning down a job they’re offered.

      3. Roci*

        I don’t think a single bilingual person expects monolingual speakers to pronounce their name like a native speaker. Everyone I know, including myself, has a list of “acceptable approximates”. It’s much more common to correct people to one of the “acceptable approximates.” For example, “It’s ho-ZAY, not JO-see” or “It’s Ah-oh-kee, not ay-OH-kee”.

        1. amoeba*

          I mean, I pronounce my own name differently in each language – saying it the German way really disrupts the flow and feels awkward in English or French. Also other people’s names, and in my (multilingual) circle that’s pretty much how everybody does it.
          (But then I’ve also completely given up correcting people actually mispronouncing it – I’m not even bothered anymore and just answer to all the possible variants)

          1. NotLikeThat*

            I came here to say this. My name is pronounced differently than people expect, and correcting everyone got tiresome many years ago.
            Also, in my experience, people who say “Why didn’t you correct me?!?” are the same ones that will mispronounce it again the next day. It’s just not worth it. I know you’re talking to me, and I know the odds are good you’ll do it again, and I’m over it. Don’t scold me for not correcting you every time.
            Worth noting: My children have extremely short and simple names, due to my dealing with this all my life. I wonder if they will in turn give their children “interesting” names after a lifetime of having “boring” ones. ;)

          2. Tau*

            Same. I’m not pulling out the German R in the middle of an English conversation – talk about crossing wires. I sure am not expecting a monolingual English speaker to manage one! I work in an extremely international company and I think that’s how everyone does it; if we all insisted on absolutely correct native-language pronunciation of each other’s names nobody would be able to talk to each other at all.

            At the same time, I think a lot of people will go for an Anglicisation of the native pronunciation, especially if the name doesn’t exist in English, instead of full-on treating this like a native word. Ex what Roci said about José wanting to be ho-ZAY and not JO-see. I think it’s fair to want a specific pronunciation that isn’t the one that’d be obvious from the spelling if it fits into English phonology.

          3. Ana Gram*

            I do this too. If I’m speaking Spanish, I use the Spanish version of my name. Saying my name in my flat Virginia accent just sounds jarring and odd in the midst of a Spanish sentence.

        2. ellex42*

          I have a coworker who I worked with for nearly a year before finding out nearly all of us were pronouncing one of the vowels in her name wrong (think long A vs. short A, or British pronunciation of taco: “TACK-oh” vs. American: “TAH-coh”). But as English isn’t her first language, she figured it was just our American accents.

          We all apologized and corrected ourselves (with varying degrees of success, I’m afraid), but she said to her ears, it didn’t sound like we were pronouncing it wrong, as such – just that we were pronouncing it with an accent.

    2. Office Chinchilla*

      I went to college with a woman named Phoebe, pronounced “fo-AY-bay.” I was thinking of her while reading this letter, because people are very confident that they are pronouncing it correctly when they’re completely wrong, so correcting them sometimes gets a defensive reaction. We had one teacher proudly tell us on the first day that if you correct how he pronounces your name, he’ll write it phonetically in the student list so it would never happen again! When he got to her and she told him how to pronounce it, he looked sadly at his list and said, “it IS phonetic. I’m just going to be wrong when I say your name for a while.” (Also, we were in college, so a lot of people assumed she was just being creative/difficult about her name. Nope, that’s what her parents named her and called her. One of our classmates was Jenni4, so it’s not like no one was creative about their name, but she wasn’t one of them.)

  9. Maggie*

    LOL every time I hear “something came up”, I think about Greg saying it in the Brady Bunch Movies

  10. jm*

    i’m with everyone saying LW 1 is also wrong. you sound really blasé about leaving your teammates in the lurch 1-2x a month.

    1. LavaLamp*

      Are they though? If they’ve requested a vacation two weeks in advance everyone can plan. I’d like to know if anyone does have to cover for them, before I can make that judgement.

    2. Forrest*

      It’s a system where they have to request leave and have it approved two weeks in advance. Of there’s a coverage issue, that’s on management!

      It’s also frankly ridiculous that nobody except OP has even noticed that they could give their staff more than two weeks’ notice of the need to work a Saturday simply by looking at the order sheet. With some decent planning by management, they could have this in the diary several weeks in advance and staff it properly and fairly.

      1. Monty & Millie's Mom*

        It’s definitely a problem w/ management, but from what I understood of the letter, the LW is the one who has access to the system to order the parts, so the coworkers may not have that access, which means it’s not really a level playing field. It’s the sneakiness for me – the LW could have handled this way better, and while I’m not saying everyone has to just accept crappy management, there are better ways of dealing with it. Plus, the LW has lots of advance notice that the coworkers don’t, so I’m guessing they could scrounge up child care every once in awhile, with that much notice. So the LW is just being sneaky and selfish, and sure, that’s their right, but it’s just icky.

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          OP doesn’t want to let others know in case they do the same as them, so I reckon the others do have that access. It’s just that OP spent some time doodling around on the database and saw that stuff was planned further ahead than what management were letting on.

    3. D'Euly*

      Management is blase enough to deliberately give their staff one week’s notice when they could easily give more, which is much more problematic.

      1. Seriously*

        This! As a child of a parent who has the same issues – doesn’t know if she is working the weekend until Thursday and doesn’t know if she has to work late on any given day until she returns from lunch is ridiculous! Employers need to realize employees have families. I find it hard to believe the need to work late or weekends arises that last minute!

        1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

          Yeah. A friend of mine negotiated being given advance warning of any times they might have to work at the weekend. Their work was pretty predictable – accounting – so they were told months in advance. The colleagues who hadn’t thought to ask about that were told just a few days in advance.

      2. MissBaudelaire*

        This part.

        My last job, sometimes we all got mandated for a Saturday because we were behind. Okey dokey. They could look around on Wednesday and know if we were behind enough to need a Saturday. The boss never, ever would. He would wait until fifteen minutes before clock out on Friday. Many of us said several times if we had a little more notice, we’d be more likely to volunteer since we would know.

        His reasoning? “If you know you’re working Saturday you won’t work as hard!” Or… or… orrrrrr…. We would work faster to make that Saturday need shorter or possibly eliminate it.

        Talk about tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.

        When employers try and be shady and shifty, they get shady and shifty employees. I don’t know why this is a surprise. And I would argue that I don’t feel LW was shifty.

        1. Chantel*

          >Talk about tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.

          So much wisdom in one small sentence!

    4. Roscoe*

      I’m not clear the specifics here. Is everyone having to work on saturday? If so, OP taking it off or not doesn’t really matter. Whereas if only a couple of people have to work each saturday, then he isn’t being in the rotation fairly. But if I take off Friday’s consistently, and all of my colleagues are expected to work and would have to do so whether I’m there or not, me not being there isn’t leaving them in the lurch.

      1. Cassie*

        It might be where they would ideally have everyone working on a Saturday, but they can manage with 1 or 2 people off.
        So only 2 people can book that day off OP is consistently getting that time off.

        Much like with booking days off around holiday periods in most office there’s an unspoken (or spoken) rule of ‘fairness’ around who gets time off when. It seems like OP is breaking that rule.

        1. Roscoe*

          Here is the problem with your logic, the company is purposely not telling people they’d have to work saturdays until its too late for them to take it off.

          No one is being denied that day off. If OP didn’t take it off, they couldn’t have gotten it off anyway. And if they had requested it off anyway, I don’t think they would be affected.

    5. Nanani*

      Nope. The management is in the wrong. Not just the one trying to “catch” OP but the system as a whole. It’s crappy and it’s not OP1’s fault for making the best of it.

    6. Mid*

      They sound blasè about lying and using access to information no one else does, but they aren’t leaving anyone in the lurch. They are giving more notice than the workers are getting for their Saturday shifts, which is a company issue. OP1 is in the wrong here, but they aren’t leaving anyone in the lurch.

  11. Dodubln*

    LW #2- I had a similar experience a few years ago with a new hire. This was a healthcare job, not corporate. Great interview, great resume, great references. Everything checked out perfectly with her. Her first week, she had two scheduled days she couldn’t work, at the last minute. She had to lend her car to her boyfriend (Uber, anyone?), and then had to babysit her niece. I, like an idiot, was the “understanding boss”, and said no problem, we will cover the shifts. Then I got an email from her on the Friday night of her first week, saying she was in the ER with the flu, and couldn’t come in for her next shift, which was that Saturday morning. Again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt, and just thought she was having a really bad week, and told her to get better soon, and let me know ASAP when she would be able to return to work. By the following Wednesday, I had heard nothing from her, so I reached out to her via phone/email. Crickets. Reached out to her again on Friday. Crickets. At that point, my grand-boss said to fire her, so I did, via voicemail/email. And miraculously, she responded to my email, saying she hadn’t gotten ANY of my previous emails/voicemails asking for updates on how she was doing, and couldn’t understand why we were firing her! This whole situation bothers me to this day. I know I was “had”, but it was the first time I had been “had” in 25 years at my job as a hiring manager/boss, and it strangely hurt, and still does. All I can say in the end is that if you haven’t let this employee go, you probably should. Because what they did is just not acceptable, and is probably a sign of further BS to come.

    1. Cat Tree*

      If you were “had”, so what? So the employee was employed for a couple of days longer than she would have been otherwise. I don’t think you need to feel bad this. Your instinct to be understanding was correct, and it was a really tiny price to pay that would have been hugely beneficial for a person who legitimately just had a bad week. It’s definitely not worth overcompensating and becoming more strict about this.

      1. Me*

        Your impulse to be kind and understanding is a good impulse and a valuabe attribute. it doesn’t need to be thrown away or cause shame. It just needs to be balanced with some caution.

        Also, think of the reverse scenario: if it turned out she really was at ER, it would be a lot worse to not have given her the benefit of the doubt.

        1. Teapot supervisor*

          +1 I joined team ‘benefit of the doubt’ after a friend told me about an experience of a peer of his, who we’re going to call Fergus. Fergus had hired a contractor, Jane, to work on a big project for him. Except Jane and Fergus never worked together because Jane didn’t show up on her first day and didn’t answer her phone or emails. When my friend asked Fergus how the project went, he was turning the air blue with how unreliable Jane was, talking about how he’d never forgive her for bailing on his project like that and how he was going to tell everybody he met about how unprofessional she was.

          A few weeks later, my friend bumps into Bob, who works in the same industry and my friend knows happens to have worked a lot with Jane. Friend mentions Fergus’s experience with Jane. Bob goes very quiet, before explaining Jane was in a car crash on the way to that job and, while she’s ultimately on the mend, it was a real ‘fight for life’ situation for a while and she’s not going to be working for at least a few months.

          Obviously YMMV but I feel like I’d rather give somebody a second chance they didn’t deserve than be cursing their name to all and sundry while they’re facing a full-on emergency!

          1. Jaid*

            So someone told Bob what happened, but they couldn’t have been asked to reach out to Fergus as well?

            I have much sympathy for Jane, but it sounds weird.

            1. Teapot supervisor*

              My understanding is the timeline went something like: car crash – small amount of time – friend speaks to Fergus – much larger amount of time