our babysitter ghosted us and now works at my office, replacing a beloved employee who died, and more

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

1. Executive’s daughter ghosted us on babysitting without being paid and now she works here

About a year ago, the wife of an executive in my company, upon hearing I had a young child, suggested my wife and I could hire her 25-year-old daughter for part-time babysitting/nanny work. We agreed to give it a try and would pay the daughter at the end of the week. The first two days were okay, but the third day, she never showed up. My wife texted the daughter and then called her but never got a response. Finally, my wife texted several times to ask what we already owed and where to send a check but still never received a reply.

I later learned that it is a common occurrence with this executive’s daughter. She doesn’t regularly work but occasionally her mom will sign her up for some odd job which she’ll do until she loses interest. I tried talking to her mother directly about arranging payment, but she made it clear that it was completely between my wife and me and her daughter and that she would have nothing to do with it. I let it go because I didn’t even know how many hours were owed. This was a year ago, and I never saw the executive’s daughter again until now, when she’s gotten a job as an office assistant at my company. I also learned that she married and is in desperate need of money — i.e., her brother had to pay for getting her wedding dress adjusted because she came up short at the store. Should I attempt to bring up paying her again?

Can you and your wife estimate what she earned with the two days of work she did for you? It might not be exact, but you must have a rough idea of how many hours she worked? Ideally you’d just write a check for that amount and hand it to her, saying, “We weren’t able to figure out how to get this to you last year and we’ve really been wanting to pay you for your work! This should get us square.” That way you dispense with any back and forth about what’s owed, especially since she’s likely to feel embarrassed about ghosting you, which could lead her to tell you not to worry about paying her at all. In fact, if you have a way to just leave it on her desk in an envelope, with a short note saying something similar, that could be the easiest way for all.

And ugh, reading between the lines here, these are either very frustrated parents who are unsuccessfully trying to find a way to get their adult daughter to work, or excessively involved parents who have inadvertently enabled her in not working. But either way, they shouldn’t be asking colleagues to hire her when they know she’s unreliable.

2. Replacing a beloved employee who died

Earlier this year, an employee of mine (my only current direct report) suddenly and unexpectedly passed away (not from Covid). He was excellent at his job and extremely well-liked by the rest of our department. His partner also works in our department.

We are currently interviewing for someone to fill the now-empty role. At what point (if ever) is it appropriate to relay any of this to the candidates? So far, no one has asked why the job is open. While folks in the department are wonderful people for the most part, I have no idea whether any leftover resentment, awkwardness, or other weirdness may happen when our new person starts their job. There is some interaction between this position and the partner’s position, so I’d like to give the new person a heads-up on that level, at some point.

I don’t want to make things weird, but want to give the future/new employee an appropriate level of information so they can integrate well into the department. How do I go about this?

Yeah, you don’t want someone walking into this difficult situation unprepared and having to figure it out on their own. Be up-front with job candidates, at least once you have finalists: “The reason this position is open is a sad one: the person who used to be in this role passed away unexpectedly earlier this year. I want to be up-front with you that there might be some painful dynamics around that when you start; he was well-liked and it’s of course been hard. His partner works here as well, and you’ll have some interaction with them. I’ll be working to support you in the role, but I wouldn’t want you to come in without knowing that these are unusual circumstances that we’re all working to adjust to.”

A thoughtful candidate will have questions about what you expect that adjustment to look like, so make sure you really give some thought ahead of time to what it likely will look like. It’s understandable for things to be a little awkward or subdued when the new person starts, but if you think there will be noticeable resentment, that’s something you’d need to talk with your team about ahead of time (or at least be prepared to address immediately if it happens) because it’s got to be clear to everyone that that won’t work. (You need to be careful to avoid a situation like this, where a team made it impossible to keep any replacement for a colleague who had died.)

Read an update to this letter here.

3. I referred a friend for a job but HR wants them for a different role

I referred a good friend for a specific open position in my department, and my friend would be a great fit for the role. My manager is thrilled and looking forward to interviewing them.

However, now that the interview process has started, HR began pushing for them to fill a high turnover customer service position because my friend doesn’t have experience in our field. I understand why this happened, but I’m still really angry considering my friend has decades of work experience and this job would be too low for them.

If my friend is hired, I would receive a referral bonus. However, do I have grounds to talk to HR about them interviewing my friend for the other job because of how it would affect my referral bonus? What else can I do? I don’t want to interfere but I don’t want my friend to get screwed out of the opportunity I helped them apply for.

The first thing is to back way off mentally, because you sound too emotionally involved! “Really angry” is too strong of a reaction for the situation — your friend isn’t entitled to a job there, and if there are stronger candidates, it makes sense that your employer would focus on those instead, especially if candidates for this role normally are expected to have experience. Has your manager reviewed your friend’s resume and does she think she’d be a strong candidate (as opposed to “sure, I’d be happy to talk with her”)? If so, she should tell HR that she considers the person a strong candidate and plans to interview them for the first job. But if your manager doesn’t feel that strongly about it, that’s really her call to make.

If that happens, your friend isn’t being “screwed out of a job.” She’s competing against other candidates, and being referred is no guarantee of being hired. You can vouch for her work to your boss (if indeed you really can vouch for her work — not just that she’s a good friend), but beyond that you’ve got to let the process play out. You can’t act as your friend’s agent in the process or you’ll look like you have a conflict of interest.

4. My job fired me and then said I could return

Am I wrong for not wanting to return to work? I have been recently tardy to work most days and got a verbal warning I had to sign. That’s fine and understandable, and I was given a period of time to correct my behavior and told the company has a three-step process of verbal warning, written warning, and then final warning. But I was late again today and instead of being given a written warning, I was fired an hour after I got in, during the middle of the work day. I was very upset as I packed my belongings to leave with no warning. However, after I asked for my employee records to file for unemployment, they realized they had violated company policy and and now they want me to return to work with a warning. Am I wrong for not wanting to go back?

I can see why you don’t want to go back after they fired you and then said, “oops, never mind”! I’d ask yourself two questions. First, can you financially afford not to go back? If not, it probably makes sense to go back but actively job search. Second, what’s going on with all the lateness, and can you address whatever’s behind it? Because if not, then you’re just delaying the day of reckoning by a small amount but you’re going to end up in the same spot again pretty soon. And you risk it being an issue with a new job too, so it would be a kindness to yourself to figure out what you can do to get it under control. (Although if it’s something like “this job is two hours away and I have to be there at 6 a.m., maybe it won’t be an issue with the next one.)

But if you can afford not to go back and it’s clear this isn’t going to work out anyway, one option is to say, “I appreciate you offering, but I’ve realized it’s not the right fit for me right now.” (That said, be aware that doing that might make you ineligible to collect unemployment … but being fired for chronic lateness also could make you ineligible in a lot of states. Either way, it’s worth looking into before you decide.)

5. How often should I try to add LinkedIn recommendations?

I’m a business analyst and I work as a contractor for different clients. I’m trying to build my LinkedIn profile slowly. I want to add recommendations from different people I’ve worked with. How often should I add a recommendation to my profile without making it seem like I’m trying too hard or overdoing it?

I wouldn’t put much energy into it at all! Most hiring managers don’t put much weight on LinkedIn recommendations for all the reasons here. It’s fine to try to round up two or three, but it doesn’t usually make sense to spend time trying to generate more than that (and you don’t need to worry about spacing out those two or three; it really doesn’t matter!).

{ 251 comments… read them below }

  1. Shawna*

    Regarding #2, I had a similar experience at the end of 2019. I work with kids with disabilities and their families, so first I had to tell these families that he had passed (tactfully, on an as needed basis) then hire a new staff to fill his position. She was quite young, but handled it like a champ, but then left for greener pastures after just a few months, so I had hire yet another staff.

    It’s been an awkward and sad transition. I wish the OP the best in this tough time. I wish I could tell you what worked or didn’t, but honestly COVID did us a favor by giving everyone something else to think about.

    1. LW #2*

      Thank you for sharing.

      I’m sure that hiring someone new is going to stir up all kinds of feelings (both in myself and the rest of the department). Working through them professionally and supporting the new staff member are high on my priority list.

      1. quill*

        Yeah, as a reply to the above… Expect that there might be turnover. Reasonable turnover, but sometimes filling the place of someone whose death came as a tragic shock will be hard on a new hire even if everyone thought they were prepared. It’s possible that New Hire’s eventual role in the company will be as “someone who professionally filled a gap and allowed collective grief to dim, but has left.”

        1. LW #2*

          This is important to keep in mind, for sure. If the new person doesn’t stay forever, that’s okay.

      2. Wonderer*

        I think it’s important to talk with the whole team ahead of time to make sure they are all on board with a replacement – but it’s really important to present this to them as a Replacement Llama Wrangler and not a Replacement Beloved Steve.

        1. Observer*

          but it’s really important to present this to them as a Replacement Llama Wrangler and not a Replacement Beloved Steve.

          Yes. This is extremely important!

        2. LW #2*

          We have definitely done that (in an abstract way) but will reinforce it once new hire is announced. Thank you!

        3. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

          Especially given the way the group in the linked example behaved!

          LW2, is there anything in the job or company description that would lead people to think this is a newly created position? Perhaps it is because I am a loyal AAM reader, but it really surprises me no one has asked why the position is open yet. I ask that question pretty early in the interview process, normally. If you don’t get an in with a question about why the position is open, definitely use the script provided to let folks know. I wouldn’t want to come into this situation unaware of the dynamics.

          As an aside, does anyone know if there was ever an update to the linked example of a team that didn’t handle replacement well?

          1. LW #2*

            Nothing (to my eye) makes this seem like a new position to me, so apparently it just hasn’t come up? (Granted, we’ve completed only a single interview thus far, so perhaps the other candidates will ask).

      3. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

        My best friend replaced someone who died very tragically, and she has spoke before about being appreciative that she knew that he had died and was beloved before she started, so she could be sensitive about how she spoke about any past work she discovered or had questions about and so she understood why her colleagues were a little sensitive at first. The fact that you care enough to be thinking about this means you’re starting off on the right foot – just make sure they know what to expect on day one if their new team is still grieving!

    2. Cheshire Cat*

      A beloved colleague in my department died very suddenly a year or so pre-COVID. The managers decided to wait 2-3 months before advertising her position, which meant it was 5 or 6 months before her replacement was hired and started working. This gave us all time to grieve, which was really helpful. (You may not be able to wait that long, of course).

      Some other things that helped in our case were that her unique responsibilities were redistributed to the rest of us—partly so they wouldn’t be dropped during the transition—and the job description was rewritten to include different skills; and also the new person was assigned a different desk. Together it all made us all feel that our colleague’s memory was respected.

      Kudos to you for thinking through this now! I realize that what worked in my department may not work for you, though.

  2. ENFP in Texas*

    OP#1 – You made a good-faith effort to pay her what was owed a year ago. The ball is in her court to approach you, and if she doesn’t then it’s her loss. You don’t need to reach out to her at all.

    Besides, she probably won’t be there that long, anyway.

    1. LifeBeforeCorona*

      My thoughts exactly. She seems to really need money, but I would still be inclined to see if she reaches out to the OP especially since she owes them an apology for the ghosting.

      1. traffic_spiral*

        Eeh… given the example of “her brother had to pay for getting her wedding dress adjusted because she came up short at the store,” I’d say her situation isn’t so much “needs money” as it is “refuses to pay her own way because family is still picking up her slack.”

        Right now she’s not chasing OP for money because she’d have to face them and have a conversation of “yeah, I screwed up,” and she doesn’t want to do that when it’s easier to just whine at family for money. As such, the current situation is win-win. OP gets some free babysitting, and daughter gets to avoid facing up to her own bad behavior. I mean, it’s not a win for the rest of daughter’s family, but that is thoroughly not your circus or monkeys.

        Let it lie.

        1. Sara*

          I agree. Not being able to pay for a fancy wedding is not the same thing as not being able to afford groceries or housing. Plenty of people with financial constraints would choose a less expensive dress/something that can be worn off the rack without alterations. I did! My wedding was still lovely and more importantly my marriage is strong! Fancy wedding clothes are not a necessity.

          I do also think a good faith effort was made to pay for the hours, and it’s fine to just let it be and remove yourself from ALLLLLLLLLLLLLL the drama. Even if you did pay for those hours, let’s say 2 8-hour days at $20 an hour — $320 is not going to fundamentally change her financial situation in the long term. If she does ask for the money down the road, I also think it is right to pay for it. But no need to hunt her down to do it.

        2. meyer lemon*

          This is kind of a maximally uncharitable reading of the daughter. It’s possible that she is lazy and entitled, but it is also possible that she’s struggling and deeply embarrassed and not handling things well. I would want to pay her for the time she worked, and I think that if the LW can do that in a way that allows the daughter to save face as much as possible, that would be a kindness.

          1. LPUK*

            I agree with you! It costs nothing to think more kindly of people – we never really know what is going on in their lives

    2. AKchic*

      That’s my thinking.

      OP1 made good faith efforts a year ago. The woman actively refused to communicate in order to receive money (who avoids being *given* money they earned?) all while leaving you in a lurch.
      If she wanted to be paid, she should have returned your calls and texts a year ago. At this point, she can kick rocks. She should have billed you in a timely manner. Her money problems are just that – hers.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Eh, she performed labor for the OP and they owe her payment for that. If she weren’t appearing right in their office, I’d say the OP has satisfied their obligation to try to get payment to her, but now that she’s right there, the ethical thing is to pay her the money she earned. Ghosting them doesn’t change that.

      1. JohannaCabal*

        Plus, while she may not care right now, she may make a bigger deal about it later, especially if her family cuts her off. This could easily become a legal nightmare that would also entangle her mother as well.

        1. Sara*

          Seriously? Off-the-books babysitting of which there is almost certainly no record for at most 16 hours??? This is not going to become a legal nightmare.

        2. Observer*

          Legal nightmare? How?

          Especially since the OP actually DID try to pay her. And if the daughter DOES decide that she “desperately” needs the money, all she’s going to need to do is ask to be paid. There is just no way she can turn this into a “legal” nightmare. Not for the OP, CERTAINLY not for her mother (and Mom is not the OP’s responsability anyway.)

    4. nnn*

      Although, if OP does take the initiative of paying her, that’s an opportunity to have your company executive see you as painstakingly diligent and ethical.

      1. Czhorat*

        And more to the point, to *be* painstakingly diligent and ethical. You look yourself in the mirror every morning; it’s best if you can respect the person looking back at you.

        It’s the right thing to do. Full stop.

        That should be enough.

        1. Empress Ki*

          OP has already tried to contact babysitter to pay her so there’s nothing unethical here from their part.
          It’s the babysitter who has acted unethically by just ghosting OP.

          1. Observer*

            The babysitter is unethical. That doesn’t make it ethical for the OP to not take the opportunity that fell into their lap to pay for work that was done.

            I agree that they had no obligation to chase her. But she is RIGHT THERE. That does change things.

        2. OhNo*

          Agreed. As easy as it would be to ignore it and not pay her, there’s really no reason NOT to. She’s easily accessible, the OP and their spouse can easily estimate how much they owe, and if they can drop it on her desk with a note there won’t even be any uncomfortable conversation.

          The only reason not to pay her now is as “payback” for getting ghosted, which is a silly reason not to do the right thing.

      2. Super Duper*

        This is the smart move. Just pay her, close the loop for good, and then you never have to wonder if it’s going to come back to you with the executive having heard a garbled version of the story where you owe his daughter money.

    5. KoolMan*

      Believe me your attitude is a bigger problem than you think. It never hurts to be ethical/nice in the way you treat others. You never know when the shoe is on the other foot.

      Besides, she probably won’t be there that long, anyway. – Don’t judge people without the proper details either. You don’t know the full story.

        1. IL JimP*

          seems like they did throw up their hands but the person showed up basically in their face lol

        2. Aquawoman*

          Agree. I wouldn’t fault a person who tried and gave up and didn’t reopen it now, but I do think it shows a special level of integrity.

    6. Lacey*

      I’d thought this question was going to be about how awkward it was to have her in the office, not how to pay her. But, it is very contentious of the OP to want to pay her anyway and that’s not a bad thing on their part.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Many people’s phones like to get the bit in their digital teeth and offer helpful variations to the words typed.

        2. Lacey*

          Indeed. Generally you can safely assume that sort of slip-up is a typo or auto-correct.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’m a technical writer with a proofreading and copy editing background period but I have gone so far as to tell people to ignore they’re / there / their in internet comments comma because so many of us now use speech to text and the AI interfaced just isn’t that good period new line parenthesis I’ve left all that crap in as a demonstration period parenthesis

            1. Bostonian*

              You win the internet!

              I cringe every time I hear my husband compose an email with speech to text- not only because of the deliberate speaking style to try to make it work, but all the sighs and complaining when he has to go in and edit!

    7. MassMatt*

      I hate the situation where someone (especially someone higher up than you, or married to someone who is) recommends you hire a friend or relative, yet when things go south it becomes “that’s between YOU TWO”. Well, if it hadn’t been for you, Mrs. helpful helpypants, I wouldn’t have hired your drifter daughter to begin with. Thank you very little!

      1. I'm just here for the cats*

        I wonder what the parent would have done if the LW had estimated the costs owed and handed them the check. “Hey, I can’t get a hold of your daughter to pay her. Can you give her this?” Would they have said, “No that’s between you two?”

    8. mark132*

      I’d pay her the money in this situation, though not for the executive’s daughter sake, but for the OP. If for no other reason but to be able to know I did the right thing. I paid my debts.

    9. RJ*

      +1. You fulfilled your obligation and don’t need to be chasing her around with your wallet. If she asks, fine, you can pay if you want (but even then I would personally scoff at this point).

  3. Juli G.*

    OP1 – you are a very kind person. I would be very upset in your shoes, having a unreliable person referred to me. It’s a good reminder to me about the importance of kindness.

    1. Enor*

      ‘Very upset’ seems like an overreaction. It’s not ideal, but things happen. And it’s just a privately arranged baby sitting job, not a big deal really.

      1. Ariaflame*

        Well, it depends on what they had to miss out on because the sitter failed to show up as promised.

        1. Enor*

          Eh, if they’d missed a significant life event as a result, it probably would have coloured the letter.

          Unreliability is just an unfortunate occasional fact of privately arranging babysitters. The fact that the OP doesn’t seem ‘very upset’ reflects a pretty rational response to the situation that many people would have.

          1. Colette*

            Thinking you have child care and having to scramble at the last minute is annoying at best, possibly life changing at worst (i.e. someone has to quit their job or is fired for not showing up). It’s OK to be upset about that – particularly because it doesn’t sound like something unexpected happened, she just didn’t show up.

      2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        I’m sure it seemed like a big deal at the time to the parent who was still waiting for the babysitter to arrive so they could leave. I could understand being very upset with someone who put you through hours of wondering if they’d been in a horrific accident, or were just running late when they decided to no-show instead of contacting you.

        1. Enor*

          Well the OP doesn’t sound ‘very upset’. I wouldn’t be either. It’s not ideal, but it’s just one of those things. Like the OP, many people would just shrug, work to pay the babysitter for the days they did turn up and move on.

          If you’re the sort of person who gets ‘very upset’ by life stuff, it’s probably best that you shell out for an agency.

          1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

            Agreed, OP doesn’t mention being upset about it, yet expressing their upset was also not the purpose of their letter. And that’s cool to know that it wouldn’t have upset you. But it’s not appropriate to tell Juli G that they are “overreacting” based on how you alone would feel in the same situation, which – while just as valid – isn’t indicative of how everyone would or should feel about it.

      3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        As a young mother, if the babysitter ghosted me it would have been disastrous! It’s maybe not OP’s case, but I had no family to help out. I’d have had to take my child along (and he would have prevented me from getting any work done) or else just stay at home and miss a day’s work while frantically trying to find a replacement. Not showing up could be a reason to fire me, so yes it’s a serious problem.

      4. Kelle*

        Why are you defending the ghosting babysitter? It is a big deal and it’s totally appropriate to be very upset about it.

        1. Enor*

          Except I’m not defending the babysitter. It isn’t ideal, as I have said. Just seems to me to be a really weird overreaction to be ‘very upset’ one year later and a bit odd to imply that the OP is being excessively kind by rolling with the punches.

          1. Kelle*

            It’s way more than just not ideal. It was a daily babysitting/nanny job and she suddenly abandoned it. That can cause a huge problem for the parents to miss work or other obligations and scramble to find a new care provider. I don’t get why you’re downplaying it.

            1. WellRed*

              The point of the letter is “how do I pay her.” That’s it. Upset? Not upset? Doesn’t matter. It’s not what OP asked.

            2. Pretzelgirl*

              As a parent of 3 young kids this would have caused a huge headache for us. This isnt just someone not showing up for a date night. If this person committed to being the caregiver during the day while the parents worked it would have been a nightmare. Not only did they not have care for the 2 days she no showed, they also had to find ANOTHER care giver or day care to replace her. It could have meant weeks of missed work, while finding another solution. Please don’t downplay others situations.

      5. Tara*

        Ehh, I mean, it sounds like OP wanted a babysitter, but the babysitter’s parent wanted to treat OP like a babysitter for her own kid. I’d probably be pretty annoyed at a colleague referring someone unreliable to look after my vulnerable, small children (if I had them).

      6. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A year ago was covid closures for schools & daycare.
        The relief of finding a solution that let’s me keep working, followed by a no-show from my day care would indeed have been very upsetting at the time!

  4. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    OP3 – I agree with Alison’s advice to back off a bit emotionally… and I totally understand feeling frustrated on behalf of your friend. If I applied to a job that I don’t qualify for, understandable. But if I was then offered an interview for an entry-level position, I’d feel a little insulted. But let them talk to your friend, and let your friend decide if they want to pursue the opportunity or not. Good luck!

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      OP3 sounds like they think an employee referral is a total in for that job, but I’m not sure it works that way.

      Sure, it’s a point in the applicant’s favor, but they’re not being cheated out of anything or lied to or screwed over or treated disrespectfully or if they don’t get the job, even if they had an employee referral. It carries some weight, but it doesn’t carry as much weight as this person seems to think it does.

      They still have merely applied, and need to cross all the other hurdles before receiving a job offer, which may never come.

    2. MK*

      The only problem I can see with this situation is that, with the candidate not having expierience and HR is pushing for them to be offered another job than the one they applied for, the hiring manager might mentally overlook them as “they are being slotted for another position with us”.

      OP might do well to warn her friend about this. Then the friend can decide how they want to handle their career: if they are absolutely not interested for the other position, they can make that clear and take their chances with the job they applied, but they might be interested, who knows, or want to keep their options open. But OP, don’t present the situation as “HR is trying to screw you over” (which is a weird take, they are just offering her another job), and certainly don’t meddle with her application. It’s not your place to reject the other job for your friend preemptively, especially since there is no guarantee they will be hired in your department.

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

      I think she does ‘qualify’ for it, in the sense that the hiring manager presumably knows what her background is, and is “thrilled” to be interviewing her.

      I think what seems to have happened here is HR have this revolving door customer service position with high turnover, need people to fill it, rigidly apply rules about what someone who’s a “fit” or “not a fit” looks like in terms of background experience etc and need to hire “butts in seats” for this customer service role. Not that I’m saying anyone can do a customer service role – they can’t and that may be part of the reason for the high turnover.

      How did LW find out that HR are pushing for this? Through the manager?

      In the manager’s position I would be unhappy with HR if they did this and tried to decide for me what kind of candidate I was looking for.

      I would bring this up with the manager if at all. Pragmatically you (LW) will not get anywhere with HR.

      1. Susie Q*

        This. HR doesn’t always know the inner workings of every team and what person might be qualified for a position.

      2. Sparkles McFadden*

        LW shouldn’t get involved in the process at all. The candidate should contact the hiring manager and ask what the situation is. HR has different priorities and will, indeed, try to reroute someone to a position with high turnaround. If the hiring manager truly wants to hire the referred candidate, the hiring manager will work that out.

    4. NoviceManagerGuy*

      When I get an employee referral and the employee seems really invested and pushy about the candidate, that’s a red flag for me. LW3 needs to back off for everyone’s sake.

    5. Detective Amy Santiago*

      I’ll be honest, if I was the hiring manager and had an employee push hard for a specific referral, that would make me less inclined to hire that person.

      1. meyer lemon*

        Yes, this might be a little unfair to the LW, but I’d be concerned that if they’re getting this emotionally invested already, they might struggle to have any professional boundaries with the friend once they were working together.

    6. Sara*

      I think the only way I would get involved here is to make sure the friend is aware that the job they’re being interviewed for is high turnover and below their experience level — as depending on how HR approaches it, I could imagine that not being totally clear to the friend. If the friend still wants the job (maybe because they’re unemployed and really need something to tide them over with income while they look for something more appropriate), then that should be their choice and something you stay out of. But they should know all the facts about the job.

    7. Graflex01867*

      I feel like there are two separate issues going on here. I agree that OPs recommendation of their friend is not a promise that they will be considered for, or automatically hired for the position.

      I feel like it’s a totally separate issue that the company is pushing a high-turnover sales-like job on them. If I go out on a limb and stretch to apply for something I’m not fully qualified for, just tell me you’re not interested and well both move on. Just because I don’t have the specific experience you want doesn’t mean I can only answer a phone. (Maybe I’m reading too much into this specific case, but I feel like it’s fairly regular topic on how to make hiring better for both sides.)

    8. Momma Bear*

      Once you refer someone, it’s out of your hands. I had someone apply at my suggestion, but I’m not sure they even got an interview. I can’t control that. I agree that OP3 needs to just let the chips fall at this point. I agree – Friend needs to decide if the offer is good for them – or not.

      1. Super Duper*

        Agreed. HR may be acting crappily, but that’s not LW’s business, and they’re only going to hurt their friend’s chances of getting any job at this company by interfering. Leave it alone and let the friend make their own employment decisions.

  5. Chc34*

    For LW3, I wonder if the LW’s referral bonus would be lower for the other position and if that’s part of where the emotional response is coming from. At my last company, we received a certain bonus if we referred someone for an exempt position and a lower (I believe it was about half) bonus if it was for a non-exempt position.

    1. Ori*

      I think she’s embarrassed. If I recommended a professional contact with years of experience for a senior role and my company did this, I’d be *mortified*.

      It’s one thing to reject an experienced, senior candidate who isn’t a good fit. It’s another thing to effectively tell that candidate that they’re so unqualified that the only thing they can hope for is an entry level role.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        OP3 wrote, though, that “my friend doesn’t have experience in our field. I understand why this happened, but I’m still really angry considering my friend has decades of work experience and this job would be too low for them.”

        So the friend has decades of work experience . . . but not in this field? I mean, I have decades of work experience but if you hired me for, uh, interior design or something I would expect to start over since I’ve never done that before.

        So maybe the OP wasn’t entirely realistic about the friend’s prospects in the first place.

        1. rachel in nyc*

          Or it could be that the friend’s work experience would transfer really well to this field but that isn’t obvious if you haven’t worked in the field so OP and the hiring manager see the potential in the friend but HR doesn’t.

          That’s my optimistic take cuz I agree OP3 is way too emotionally involved- on the other hand, I probably wouldn’t suggest 95% of my friends for a job where I work because I wouldn’t want to chance the job or the friendship.

          1. Smithy*

            That’s what I was thinking. I work in nonprofit fundraising, and certainly if HR wants to look at it narrowly (raising from X kinds of donors for Y kinds of work) – that’s possible. But it’s also not uncommon to see a fundraising team looking to fill roles with someone more experience in the corporate world. Seeing someone who’s spent decades in estate planning or wealth management going into planned giving isn’t uncommon. There are also other corporate to nonprofit partnerships transitions that I’ve seen and aren’t quite as easy to identify.

            I do wonder if this is a case where HR thinks they’re essentially safeguarding from cronyism. It may be that the transferable skills really are far more disparate than the OP is assessing or that the hiring manager might need to talk to HR about what qualified applicants actually look like. Because if this is an example of a candidate that the hiring manager wants to speak with and is getting screened out – that means that overall a weaker talent pool is being put together.

          2. MissBaudelaire*

            That last part. My job offers recruiting bonuses, and I would not ever take them up on it. If things go sour, I don’t want that coming back on me from anyone.

            I have heard way too many horror stories about that kind of thing.

            I understand OP3’s frustration, and it sounds like there’s a disconnect between management and HR, and that is crummy. It isn’t OP3’s role to fix it all, though. You make a recommendation, that’s all you can do. Out of your hands at that point.

        2. Athena*

          I think it’s more likely that OP’s friend has applicable skills or relevant experience but in a different field. People hire outside the industry sometimes so it’s worth it to apply for a position even if your experience isn’t in the same field. But it looks like HR didn’t see it that way in this case.

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

      I read it not that LW is emotionally involved because of the bonus, particularly, but rather – wondering whether she has ‘standing’ to bring this up with HR *because* she is directly involved in the situation in some sense because it impacts the referral bonus (to which the answer is no!), in a way that she wouldn’t be directly involved/impacted if she had just referred someone and there was no referral scheme.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Same here–I read it as trying to find a business-related answer to “why is it your business?”

    3. Observer*

      referral bonus would be lower for the other position and if that’s part of where the emotional response is coming from

      I don’t think that there can be any real doubt.

      The OP DOES say that “it would affect my referral bonus“. That’s the reason they want to use with HR – but they couldn’t use that as a reason if it did not actually affect their bonus.

  6. Lioness*


    This just seems odd to me. She started babysitting without a discussion of the pay rate?

    She definitely could have handle it better but I also have to think how often do her parents volunteer her to do things without running it by her?

    I sympathize with her a bit as while not in the same situation I’ve had my parents volunteer me for others and when I did have work, they’d forget that i did.

    1. Chas*

      Given they said they don’t know how many hours were owed, I thought the issue wasn’t that they didn’t discuss a pay rate, but that they din’t know how long she actually watched the children for.

      Although that seems just as bizarre to me, since how do you not know how many hours you left your kids with someone over 2 particular days? So maybe it was an issue of the sitter not expecting the job to take as much time per day as it ended up taking.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        One easy solution — two parent family, and our OP didn’t work from home during covid so doesn’t know the exact hours.
        Second–after a year, the family had discarded the paperwork.

        1. I'm just here for the cats*

          That was my understanding too. Especially if one child comes home at different time. When I babysat I would get paid per kid. So I would get $10/hour for the baby and when the older kid came home from school I would get $20/ hour. Add in that maybe the parents don’t get home at the same time each day or kids have after school activities on some days and it can get complicated, especially a year later

      2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

        It might have been that they agreed on $X per week (pretty common in babysitter/nannie circles) and then when she only worked 2 days weren’t sure how to par it down. Logic says take $X and divide by # of days she should of worked then times that by what she actually did. But if you had a really irregular schedule they might not be sure how to divide it up. I know several companys where employees worked a very long shift on Mondays but shorter shifts the rest of the week.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I thought it was going to be a young teenager–that’s when my mom would volunteer me to babysit.

      Having this happen with someone in her 20s is sad in different ways. I would say “No Mom” and then not show up, but I can see this sort of half-hearted struggle dragging out in some families. I’ll hazard that what changed between showing up for two days of sitting and scrambling now was an end to parental financial bailouts.

    3. Observer*

      I sympathize with her a bit as while not in the same situation I’ve had my parents volunteer me for others and when I did have work, they’d forget that i did.

      I sympathize with you. But EVEN IF this is what the parents did, that doesn’t excuse Daughter. If she had never showed up the first day I would say that it might not have been well handled, but I really would not blame her. But if she showed up, she had all the opportunity in the world to tell them that she’s not coming back. Just not showing up and not bothering to even answer a text is waaaay out of line.

  7. Jess*

    Me reading the heading for #1: Gosh we all do things awkwardly as teenagers, don’t we? So this girl foster them years ago and now she’s an adult who surely feels mortified and….oh. Oh no.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Whoops thanks! It was right before bedtime and my sleepy eyes missed the first bit.

    1. Lacey*

      Haha, that was my reaction too. I’m also totally perplexed at her avoiding people who want to pay her. When I was a teenager my biggest problem was that employers would “forget” to pay me and I was too shy to push for it!

      1. Come On Eileen*

        SAME! I did a similar three-days babysitting job for a neighbor when I was like 14 or 15. The mom told me they’d pay me on the last day, then on the last day the dad is the first one home, pays me for just that one day, and says “thanks, see ya later!” At 14 I didn’t know how to speak up and say “actually you owe me for all three days” so I just walked home. An hour or two later, the mom rang my doorbell with a fistful of cash and sheepishly told me her husband didn’t know they owed me for the previous days. It was the best ending possible for this 14-year-old.

      2. Lizzy May*

        Shame-spirals. She ghosted them and feels bad about it so doesn’t want to interact with them at all as a result because then she might have to own up to ghosting in the first place. It’s not healthy and it’s not mature but I do think it’s very common.

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          It is very common. You’re right, it isn’t healthy, mature, and in many ways it just isn’t acceptable behavior. It is common though, and a lot of people tolerate it when they ought not to.

      3. EmmaPoet*

        As a young adult who house sat, I had to learn how to chase down people who didn’t pay me on time. Not fun, but over the years I’ve developed a spine about it and at this point all of my clients pay me up front.

        My father once told me, “No one will ever care as much as you do about you getting paid,” and that was definitely a phrase I learned to live by when there have been issues with paychecks.

  8. Cant remember my old name*

    LW#3 I’d recommend backing all the way off. As in, maybe don’t bring it up again at all. They have her resume and contact info and your rec. Your job is done. Your continued advocacy will read very much as “hire my friend for this role because she’s my friend” or “because I want my bonus.”

    (Side note: I’m not loving the incentive structure around this referral bonus because I think it encourages too much attachment like we are seeing here)

    1. Batgirl*

      I agree with the too much attachment vibe. At first I was thinking.. are you in love with this friend?! It’s just a job application! They may get it – they may not. If OP is going to be their friend-agent, they possibly shouldn’t work together at all.

    2. Naomi*

      That’s true–OP asks if they have standing to intervene in the hiring process because of the referral bonus, but I think it actually gives them less standing. Because, whether or not this was OP’s motive, the referral bonus creates a conflict of interest where OP is incentivized to want their friend hired regardless of whether the friend is the best candidate.

      1. Self Employed*

        My landlord had a bunch of reviews on Glassdoor that basically say “This company needs to stop hiring people via referral bonuses because the employees who are not good at their jobs refer their friends who are unqualified AND THEY GET HIRED. At least they could ignore referrals from people who can’t or won’t do good work.”

  9. LavaLamp*

    Regarding OP3 – I applied once for a position with experience in X software and the company wanted to interview me for a position that was. . . essentially an admin/janitor. Nothing wrong with either of the positions but it drives me nuts that they try to push roles that people are overqualified for on to them. Why does that even happen?

    I do suggest letting it go; there isn’t a ton you can do, but I get why you’re miffed. I was too.

    1. I'm just here for the cats*

      I found it odd that because they LW’s friend doesnt have experience in that field that the HR figures they need to go to an entry role in customer service. As someone else said customer service is not for everyone. I wonder if that HR is so clueless on what is needed with the role, just sees that the person doesnt have X experience and figures they can’t do the job. And they are so overwhelemed by the amount of turnover in the CS role that they’re just trying to put anyone into that role.

      If the manager is truly excited about the LW’s friend I would maybe ask the manager about HR.

    2. MCMonkeybean*

      Yeah, it does seem odd. I’ve had before where I applied for like an accounting position on one team and they wanted to put me on an accounting position for a different team instead. But HR pushing to put them in something so completely different as an entry-level customer service roll is just so odd. I can’t imagine many candidates would be willing to interview for something so wildly different than what they applied for.

  10. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

    OP2: It’s not specifically what you asked (and Alison please delete if this is a useless derail), but something you may want to consider well in advance of the replacement starting is to slowly start removing the obvious visual reminders of your former employee, little by little. Maybe you already have, but just wanted to mention it because hiring timelines are generally still shorter than grief timelines, and the appearance of forced convergence between the two is where the situation could become difficult for the new employee.

    One of the hardest things when you lose a coworker is walking into work and seeing Their Desk, empty. Seeing a new person in there, just going about their job and seemingly callously taking over that ‘memorialised’ space can be really confronting. But if you can introduce gradual changes ahead of time, it’ll slowly help your department to stop seeing it as His Spot, without appearing insensitive.

    Is it possible to rearrange some office furniture, change the setup of his old desk, or have someone else move there and the new employee sit elsewhere? Just thinking if you can place them in a neutral space, rather than in His Space, it’ll lessen the chances of the new employee becoming the unwitting target for any of those difficult emotions your team are still processing.

    I’m sorry for your loss, OP.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I remember this being suggested in the comments in the linked post where “Jane’s” old team were driving out anyone hired to fill that post. The other suggestion at the time, which might also work here, was not referring to it as “X’s old job” but using “the llama groomer job” instead.

      1. LW #2*

        We are definitely doing this. The job has shifted slightly over time, so we’ve adjusted the job title and duties, and are definitely NOT hiring for ‘Wakeen’s Replacement’

        1. LC*

          It’s interesting you add this extra detail, because I was going to comment on a similar, but slightly different, situation that I’m in. With this though, it’s very similar to me.

          About a month ago, I started a new job. It isn’t really filling an exiting role, but it is taking the place of a previous role, with a different title, some job duties that the previous role didn’t do, and missing some of the previous job duties that have been moved to a different role. So I’m not just straight up a replacement, but my job wouldn’t exist if this previous role were still filled.

          It wasn’t quite so sudden for this person, they’d had cancer for about a year and knew this was going to happen at some point, but no one thought it would happen yet. This person had been with the company for 20+ years and was beloved by everyone. Had the go-to-their-kids-weddings-and-vacation-together-with-spouses kind of friendships.

          When interviewing, I was told that this was a kind of reworking of a previous role where they had lost that employee. Specifically said “lost,” which I took to mean they had just moved to another company or something, but the way they said it wasn’t inaccurate. I found out more about a week in, when one of his best friends was teaching me some things and mentioned him and did the “do you know what happened?” kind of thing. He kept it brief and didn’t make a huge deal of it to me, but it was obvious the hole that this employee had left, both personally and professionally.

          Overall, I’m okay with how they handled it. If they’d told me sooner, I would have been okay with that too, but it never felt like they were hiding something or that they were keeping information from me that would have helped me do my job. If that were the case, I wouldn’t be happy about it (I’d get it, but I wouldn’t like it).

          Particularly because this employee’s spouse works at the company, I think you should tell the new person sooner than I was told. At the very least before they walk in for the first day, but I think the final interview or the offer stage would be better.

          I’m so sorry for the loss for you, your office, and their spouse.

    2. anon for this*

      I second this – because it’s kind and thoughtful and would prevent the new hire from stumbling unawares into sensitive territory (which might make them feel awful, too). I have *been* the new hire in almost exactly this situation, with an additional wrinkle: my predecessor was the originator of their role, and one of the longest-working employees, so nobody else in the company knew enough about their belongings or filing system (I use the term VERY loosely) to touch anything because I ‘might need it later’. This left me with decades worth of supplies, manuals, and digital files that took *years* to fully sort through. I learned to run ‘uncertain’ or personal-seeming items by the one other colleague who had worked longest with my predecessor because they could recognize things that were sentimental and would inform me without judgment, whereas everyone else (boss included) tended to just get really uncomfortable and prevaricate.

      I understood their position, and had even met my predecessor once – but only very briefly. It was incredibly stressful to feel like I was surrounded by an emotional minefield that I had to walk through every time I needed to find or edit materials.

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Yes I seem to remember that was suggested in the previous case Alison linked to: the other employees viewed the desk as a kind of shrine and the new replacement wasn’t allowed to change anything. A few physical changes, and any shifts in responsibility that would make sense, so that the new hire won’t be stepping directly into the shoes of the much loved deceased employee.

      1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

        Avoiding having to step directly into their shoes is exactly it. The less you can make it seem like the new hire is an exact replacement, the easier it will be for them to integrate into the team because they get a chance to be seen for who they are rather than just being seen as who they are not.

        In addition to desks, it’s also worth considering if they had a usual spot at the lunch or meeting table, a regular informal office role (eg: in social events), and also particular systems and processes they may have created. Those can all carry a shrine-like attachment too, so try to avoid slotting the new employee into those if at all possible.

        1. LW #2*

          He created a lot of systems and processes. Such is the nature of this job. The new person will have to (by definition) use, update and maintain them. Fortunately, only he and I had much ‘ownership’ over those processes so for the most part it’ll just be me needing to sort through any feelings of shrine-ery.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        I’ve never had a colleague pass away while still employed, but I find that in general shifting a few responsibilities around helps reduce the “but Jane used to do it this way!” reactions. Sometimes the role is pretty set and it’s not feasible, but sometimes a new hire can bring a slightly different skill set or take a different set of projects or what have you.

    4. NinaBee*

      Maybe setting up a little memorial spot on a wall might also help to deflect attention away from the desk area/Jane’s usual spots. Maybe in a kitchen or by a nice window, so people have somewhere to direct their grief physically. Even if it’s a photo or a plaque, with a space for a vase or little trinkets people might want to leave. Not sure if that would be overstepping the boundaries of workplace norms though. People react to grief in different ways. Perhaps some of the anger or hostility was the denial stage (not wanting things to change because it might mean accepting she’s gone or that it would lead to ‘forgetting’ her etc).

      1. Anne of Green Gables*

        There was a comment in the linked post that an office with outdoor space adjacent to their lunchroom added a bench in honor of their deceased coworker. If there is outdoor space, this could be a nice way to honor them.

        1. UKDancer*

          I’ve worked somewhere in the past where we did this. One of our colleagues died unexpectedly so the company paid for a bench in the park near work where he regularly went running in his lunchbreak. I thought it was quite a nice gesture and it meant he wasn’t forgotten and those who wanted to sit on his bench and think of him could do so.

          I think it’s nice to have some form of memorial for someone people cared for.

        1. Esmeralda*

          I’m sure that’s just a word oops. How about memorial? Remembrance?

          A beloved dean who had formerly been our program director died a few years ago. It was crushing — the campus had what they thought would be a small “honoring the life” ceremony — it was packed, out the door crowded. Anyway, we put up a plaque in the hallway with our various awards and named a small scholarship for them; others in the division did similar things. It’s nice for those of us who knew them to feel they are not forgotten (and that maybe WE won’t be forgotten), and a sign of respect and gratitude to the person for their dedication to the job.

          As Whitman says, The living remained and suffered.

          Something in remembrance helps ease the suffering of the living…

        2. Jack Straw*

          My reaction as well — I had visions of the shrines along the side of the highway but in the hallway or at reception. Maybe chip in to get a plaque and plant a nice tree outside or purchase a plant that sits in a common area instead.

      2. Keymaster of Gozer*

        We have a small piece of artwork in one of the meeting rooms (crocheted by one of the admin team) with a tiny plaque under it ‘in memory of ax’

        X died from Covid last year, at age 32 and from what I gather it was very sudden and shocking (I joined after that). The team got time off to grieve, there was a kind of email thread of people sharing their fond memories and the position was filled about 3 months after they died.

        I think the team has been very welcoming to the new person – they knew they were coming into a role that had been vacated by a death and had been warned. Generally there’s been no ‘don’t touch X’s work’ as far as I can see.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          Oh and X’s friend at work moved into their vacated desk – so the new person didn’t sit there.

        2. UKDancer*

          That’s rather lovely that someone crocheted a memorial.

          In my experience it’s quite good to give people a time and a place to mourn their colleague. If you don’t then it can take over other things and get a bit overwhelming for people, especially if it’s someone they were especially fond of. Having a memorial or a bench respects the loss people feel but means it’s appropriately contained and reduces the likelihood of people feeling that their colleague is being forgotten.

          Someone can go to the bench, look at the art etc and remember their colleague, then get on with things.

          Having support options such as an employee assistance programme for people who are affected emotionally is also a good thing in my opinion.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            It’s an absolutely gorgeous crocheted phoenix – apparently X had several tattoos of them and adored them.

            From what I know I think the entire software test team was given several days off, paid, to come to terms with it. I chat to their manager occasionally and he says he couldn’t in all seriousness feel up to working himself after having to break that news to the others.

      3. Aitch Arr*

        We name conference rooms after employees who have passed away.

        The conference room has a photo of that person, with a memory book that people can write in if they like.

    5. raven_smiles*

      OP2 – sorry for your loss. It’s challenging to navigate grief in general, but I think navigating it at work has other nuances that aren’t often discussed.

      One thing you could do is ask the team who worked closely with the person who passed away if someone wants to move into that desk. It helps that desk “remain special” while not being memorialized per se. It also helps the new hire not to have to navigate sitting at someone’s desk that has so much meaning.

      1. LW #2*

        This is very helpful, thank you. As we start to shift back to the office in our hybrid work model, this could be a useful thing to think about.

    6. HahaLala*

      This is great advice.
      A few years ago, my office lost a coworker to a long cancer battle. He was well liked, and I think we’ve settled on a happy medium of honoring his memory but not dwelling on the loss.

      He hadn’t been in the office for a month or so before he passed, so the bosses and his wife cleared out his personal things over the weekend when they could have more freedom to talk and sort through things without disturbing others.

      A week or so later another coworker, who knew him well, took over his cubical. This felt natural, since they’d worked closely on several projects, and since the cube has a window if felt like an upgrade for the other coworker. The new hire a few months later took that coworkers old desk. The new hire was taking a new position, not taking “John’s old job” so that helped with the awkwardness.

      We have a framed photo (company headshot) of our colleague in one of the conference rooms. It’s on a shelf with several different books, award plaques, random decorations and projects photos. It’s just noticeable enough that it makes me smile, but it wouldn’t stick out to any clients or people that didn’t know him. For the first few interviews after, their tour of the office included a stop in the conference room to go over some company history and highlights, and to briefly mention the coworker who passed. I liked how casual it was for the potential hires— it gave them the information without putting them on the spot too much.

      For OP2, I think the best thing is to realize that there will be some awkwardness, but it will be better if you can take on the awkwardness yourself, instead of pushing it off to the new hire or the current staff. If you address things head on and have respectful, uncomfortable conversations then you can make things work.

    7. LW #2*

      That is very thoughtful. Thank you. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.

      I do know that ‘his’ space has definitely been de-personalized. Desks have historically been at a bit of a premium but with our newly promised ‘hybrid’ schedules, perhaps having this person sit somewhere else could be a possibility. We have been mostly remote for the last year, so once folks start coming back to work, seeing the space for the first time (whether with a new person in it or not) will likely be a jolt.

    8. Marzipan Shepherdess*

      Excellent ideas, all of them! Even if the new employee’s colleagues don’t go all-out to drive her away for taking their late colleague’s job (cf “Jane’s job”), it’s a difficult situation for her to walk into. And yes, having new furnishings for her will cut down on the emotional impact of seeing someone else at their late colleague’s desk.

      I hope that the partner of the late employee is being extra support by management, too. This must be a very painful time for the partner, and hopefully everyone recognizes this and responds to it with understanding.

      1. LW #2*

        To your second paragraph–Definitely so. We have been as supportive as we can be with regular check ins, letting her take things at her own speed, and keeping her informed of (but not involved in) the hiring process.

        1. Aitch Arr*

          Does your employer have an EAP?

          In addition to being a good resource for the spouse/partner, they are a good resource for you and your team.

    9. Annika Hansen*

      That is great advice!. We lost a beloved co-worker suddenly. Her desk was in a desirable location, but no one wanted to take it. I think re-arranging the space is a great idea. Or whatever you can do to make it look a little different. We eventually had someone new to our organization in a completely different role take the desk.

    10. No one calls me that*

      This is so true. After my supervisor passed away unexpectedly about 15 years ago, another department needed a spare desk for a new hire, so he ended up at that desk. This person wasn’t even acting as Replacement Supervisor, and he was very nice, but the knee-jerk reaction of “What is this PERSON doing at Supervisor’s desk?!” was so strong for a while. I hope I managed to hide it, but I may not have.

    11. Momma Bear*

      Probably by this point the partner has removed personal effects, but I also like the idea of making it a clean slate so that the coworkers can get used to the idea. We lost a coworker to a heart attack very suddenly a few years back. Something my company did was take the opportunity to make a few other office moves so it wasn’t so glaring that there was Someone New in THAT office.

    12. EmmaPoet*

      This is very good advice. I worked in a small special library where we lost a dear friend and coworker, and honestly, it really helped that by the time it came to hire a new person, we were being moved to a new area and in a temporary location. We never felt like, gee, New Person is at Wakeen’s desk and we can’t forget Wakeen, since we were in different spots to begin with and there wasn’t “Wakeen’s desk.” Shifting things around so it doesn’t become a shrine is a solid plan.

  11. Annie*

    Lw4, is your job one where you need to be there on time, such as a receptionist position, if so then constantly being late is not great and certainly could be a fireable offence.
    however if it’s not, then I believe your organisation is simply engaging in presenteeism, if your work quality has not suffered due to your latenesses then The company has got no basis to complain, though I appreciate you, yourself are not in the best place position to judge that.
    I think as flexible working becomes much more prevalent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees will start to realise that actually a lot of the time schedule set for them by management are not practical or usable, the work could be done just as easily in three hours as it could in six, and starting and finishing times could be a thing of the past.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Managers/employers have the right to require people to be at work at a certain time, whether it’s a coverage-based position or not, and have a right to fire people who can’t or won’t comply. While coverage is usually the reason, either because it’s customer-facing or shift work, it could also be that they start meetings at a certain time, or have training, or something else going on that requires people to be there on time.

      I’m struck by OP’s seemingly laidback attitude towards the lateness that has now cost them their job. Without any context there’s no way to know if it’s due to a long commute, just not being about to get up and going, or what. And we have no idea what the industry is. Sounds like OP should try a find a job where they have more flexibility if that’s possible.

      1. Washi*

        I assumed the OP didn’t think it was relevant why they were late and didn’t included in the letter. Also, there are a number of people who have had it drilled into them that giving a reason/context is “making excuses” and therefore they should only admit fault but be extremely vague about the circumstances, which can definitely come across as cavalier. Hopefully if the OP had a medical issue or some temporary life circumstance causing the lateness, they did communicate that to the managers and at least try to negotiate an accommodation!

        But I agree with you that there are a lot of jobs where being late is not ok and the OP themselves doesn’t dispute that the corrective action was warranted (though again, this letter is very bare bones as to the details.) And it doesn’t really change Alison’s advice, which is very good.

        1. MCMonkeybean*

          I do think they need to rethink the relevance–only because if they know they are likely to continue being late then there is definitely no reason to return to work only to be fired again a couple days later.

      2. John Smith*

        The OP isn’t writing in about their lateness and asking for advice on it – they’re asking about something else and presumably have not come here to be castigated or having to do a mea culpa to readers for something their not actually asking advice for – this isn’t a courtroom or investigation. Alison has done the LW a service by mentioning the lateness and hopefully the LW will take that on board.

      3. Observer*

        ’m struck by OP’s seemingly laidback attitude towards the lateness that has now cost them their job.

        I didn’t read it as laid back, but as seeing as irrelevant to the question they were asking. If you notice, they don’t complain about the warning. In fact they explicitly say that it’s “fine and understandable”. The thing they complain about is being fired on the spot – in contravention of the company policy that they had been told about.

        It’s a legitimate complaint.

        I do agree with Alison that the OP needs to figure out what’s with the tardiness. But, it still is legitimate for them to be upset at how the company handled it.

    2. BRR*

      While I agree some employers/managers are needlessly sticklers for time, I don’t think it’s particularly helpful advice for the lw to argue that being on time doesn’t matter (if that applies).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This. It might make sense for someone to look for an office that doesn’t have this mentality. But if you’re at the bottom of the hierarchy and they’ve already fired you once for it, I don’t think “But my arrival time shouldn’t matter!” is going to have the slightest impact on those gearing up to fire you correctly next time.

      2. Allison*

        Exactly. Being chronically late when you know your employer expects punctuality isn’t going to be an effective protest – it’ll frustrate you as much as it frustrates them, and ultimately, they’ll just fire you and find someone else who can be on time. Best move to make is finding a job where they don’t care when you come in as long as you’re doing your work, you’re responsive to your coworkers, and you’re on time for meetings.

    3. EPLawyer*

      Whether the company is engaging in butts in seats for valid reasons is irrelevant. The company has made it clear that being on time is their policy. LW needs to adhere to it or find another job. Also, how late is LW is they got fired “in the middle of the day” after being there “an hour.” Coming in at 9:15 ONCE IN A WHILE is one thing, when you are expected to be there at 9. Strolling in at 10 or 11 on a regular basis is quite another. Also attitude towards lateness can be a problem. Oh so sorry, my alarm didn’t go off today, I have to double check it is working properly so it doesn’t happen again goes a long way towards getting lateness overlooked. A shrug and an Oh Well I’m here now is not going to be overlooked, no matter WHAT the policy on timeliness is.

    4. Cj*

      I’m a CPA who works a ton of hours during tax season, and less in the off season, so it balances out. But if on the regular your work can easily be done in 3 hours instead of six, than if you were my employee I’d be making your position part-time, or giving you more work to do.

      1. Malarkey01*

        Yeah I think this is a common misconception about exempt employees and the concept of “as long as you get your work done we’re flexible”. That means that if you get wrapped up 30 minutes early on occasion you can call it a day or if you need to come in late on Monday but can still get through everything by staying a little late Tuesday everything’s okay. When you have someone consistently “done” with all their work well before the expected normal work hours they need to expand their duties because that’s not a full time job.

    5. Observer*

      however if it’s not, then I believe your organisation is simply engaging in presenteeism, if your work quality has not suffered due to your latenesses then The company has got no basis to complain

      This is a supremely unhelpful thing to say to the OP. In this context it really does not matter if the OP really “needs” to be on time or not. The company has made it abundantly clear what their expectation is, and the OP needs to decide if they can live with it. But they don’t get to decide that they can just ignore that. The company DOES have basis to complain when someone decides to do that.

      You also don’t know why the company is taking that tack. I’m a big believer in flexibility. But I do understand that there are situations where even though a job is not necessarily coverage based where timeliness can make a difference.

      1. Annie*

        Well the company did make it clear what their expectations were initially, as the letter says the OP was expecting a written warning but instead got fired, then bought back on when the company realised they’d stepped in it.
        it also shows the huge power disparity here as well, does someone being late a couple of times deserve to lose their job?
        And what recourse then for the company which doesn’t follow its own policies, yet expects employees to follow them.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          does someone being late a couple of times deserve to lose their job?

          By the OPs own admission they have recently been tardy “most days” which would indicate that it’s been more than a couple of days. And as others have pointed out the fact that the day they were fired was (again my their own admission) in the middle of their work day, an hour after they got in, would indicate that this isn’t just a matter of being a few minutes late but rather an hour or more late. I think that’s deserving of being fired if they’ve been spoken to about it. Obviously their company has specific protocol which was missed (and that’s not great for the company) but I also don’t think the company is in the wrong for enforcing punctuality and dismissing someone who is unable to adhere to their rules.

          1. TrainerGirl*

            OP said that they’d “recently been tardy most days”. That makes me wonder what is recently…the last week, two weeks, etc. The company isn’t wrong to enforce punctuality, but they’re wrong if they have a published verbal-written-final warning system and didn’t abide by it in OP’s case.

    6. Meep*

      I work for a company where the managers just show up whenever. It lead to one guy thinking he could show up whenever. When they hired someone new, one of the managers got it in her head that the new employee would see his behavior and would think it was acceptable. So rather than changing HIS before he went after our new hire for not being there at 7:50 AM. This manager would come in and hide in a dark office trying to catch this new employee for not being there even if I hadn’t even gotten in yet. It was a mess. Luckily it stopped because of the pandemic. I am sure sexism causally played a part as the said manager is massively sexist and the new employee was female, though.

    7. RB*

      Hey LW 4, my sympathies! I was late ALL THE TIME when I had hourly jobs. One way I managed it was to tell myself that five minutes late was ok but 10 minutes late was too much. Then I was careful not to push past my self-established limit, and to try to keep it to two or three minutes. If I walked in two or three minutes late but was ready to immediately start work, then it was usually fine. People came to accept that about me, so that was nice, but that may not be your situation. I could somehow never manage to be early, so it’s good I found jobs later on where it didn’t matter so much.

      1. TrainerGirl*

        OP, I can totally relate. In my first post-college job, I was fired for being late one time. I was a contractor at the time, and by the time I’d made it to my agency (they were right down the street), the manager had called and asked them to send me back. She’d fired me because she was upset that morning and was having a bad day. I wish I’d walked out of that place, because it turned out that firing people on a whim was a habitual practice. It gave me a case of OCD for quite some time after that, where I’d get up 20+ times/night to check the alarm clock. Luckily, I was only there for about a year when my whole team was let go. Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a new job where people were sane.

  12. Impossible*

    Slightly off topic but I wish the OP of the letter that Alison linked in question 2 would have come to give an update. I really want to know how that story ended

    1. rubble*

      I thought they had and went looking for it! perhaps I’m misremembering a similar situation where there was an update

  13. Dragon_Dreamer*

    Actually, OP maybe in the best position right now to collect UC! They were “fired with cause” BUT can prove the company violated their own policies, AND the company has marked them “re-hireable!”

    That is EXACTLY how I got Unemployment after the bent metal fastener “fired” me by claiming that a customer had overheard me being rude to another customer on the phone. (On a day I didn’t even work. The real reason was they didn’t want anymore full time non-managers.) They shot themselves in the foot with that plan by making it clear I was marked as “re-hirable.” Generally, most states assume that if you were fired “for cause,” you are NOT re-hireable by that company.

    You might have to go to a few hearings, OP, but there’s a good chance the company shot themselves in the foot here, too.

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      … except that the company has retracted the firing because they realised their error. So if OP still doesn’t come back, it’s on OP, it’s their decision, making it tantamount to resigning surely?

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

        can they really “retract” a firing though? They can offer them their job back, but the firing still happened. This isn’t first grade, there are no take-backs. If I rage quit and then “retract” it tomorrow, my company doesn’t have to let me come back, and I can’t decide that if they won’t let me retract it that they fired me.

    2. doreen*

      Your situation was a bit different – sure , they will have trouble if they say they fired you for being rude but yet have you as “re-hirable” . The OPs problem is a little different- they fired her, realized they violated their own policy and offered to rehire her. There’s a decent chance that unemployment will deem her either to have quit or to have turned down a job she was offered and in most places either of those situations are ineligible. She might qualify – but it’s by no means certain and she should take that uncertainty into account when deciding what to do.

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        While they did make the “re-hireable” part clear during the firing meeting, the bent fastener did try to claim I’d turned down reemployment with them during one of the hearings.

        They’d offered again a week aftet the firing and I turned them down. The judge asked them why I should want to return where I’d been shoved out, and if it was “with cause,” firing me indicated they should have wanted nothing more to do with me. By turning around and trying to get me back so quickly, it showed they’d acted in bad faith.

        1. Slutty Toes*

          Okay, I’ll be the one to ask what “bent fastener” is supposed to be clever shorthand for.

    3. Mannheim Steamroller*

      What did your company say when you asked to be PAID for the day of the supposed “incident”? (If they insist that it actually happened, then you must have been working that day and should be paid. Refusing to pay you means admitting that the “incident” never actually happened.)

      1. Dragon_dreamer*

        I didn’t, but I should have. I demanded a copy of the call recording at the first hearing, surely they hadn’t fired me based on hearsay!

        Of course they couldn’t produce one, the store lines are unrecorded. No proof, therefore I successfully argued the call had never happened.

  14. Dr. Meredith*

    Removed this and a lengthy thread about language that followed because it’s not useful to the LWs and becoming derailing. This isn’t the place for a debate about the site style guide on pronouns, although feel free to raise it on an open thread if you’d like. – Alison

  15. KoolMan*

    #OP5 Don’t even bother, it is worthless and people who put too much impetus on LinkedIn recommendation need to evaluate themselves. I have worked with people who have questionable work ethics but their LinkedIn recommendation portray them as experts and saintly.

    1. Sun Tzu*

      OP5: have these people write you a letter recommendation instead. A few lines praising your work with their name, title, company and how they can be contacted (email/phone) will suffice.

      LinkedIn is overrated.

    2. Kate*

      I think LinkedIn recommendations are a bit more of a thing if you’re self-employed – prospective clients often do just want at-a-glance indication that you really do the work you say you do. Although they’re still not as useful as longer endorsements you can put on your website – I’d put more energy into asking clients for those. (I’m an analyst who used to freelance).

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I dunno. I used to outsource work to freelancers. The flakiest ones, those who ghosted me or sent in shoddy work, are the ones with the most recommendations on LI. So I wouldn’t trust that in the least.

        I have samples of my work on a translation portal. Otherwise, the best way to determine whether I’m the right freelancer for you is to send me a little job. If I produce good work within the deadline, you can send bigger jobs. If you pay me promptly for the little job, I’ll accept the bigger ones. With freelancers, it works both ways, that’s why we’re free.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I’m self-employed and initially gathered some with this intent. I’ve figured out that no one actually reads them – or my LI at all, really — but I do still collect because it’s an easy(ish) mechanism to gather nice words to repurpose for my site or other marketing usage.

        I wonder if we’re using “recommendation” to mean different things. The ones I call recommendations on LI are short paragraphs, plenty long for my site. Too long! Are you perhaps you are thinking of the endorsements, those little click-to-confirm a skill things? Those are entirely useless IMO.

        1. Ak*

          OP here, I was talking about the short paragraphs people write about your work. That skill thing is pretty useless IMO too. I do like the idea of repurposing the words and using it elsewhere. Thank you!

    3. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I would go as far as to say that the people I see with the most recommendations on LI are the very people who flaked out on me when I was trying to outsource work!

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Funny how that works. I know a lot of iffy contractors/freelancers. When I read their LI recommendations, I roll my eyes a bit. OTOH, contractors who are in constant demand and do great work don’t usually have lots of LI recommendations.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I specifically remember from earlier rounds people who were puzzled over Linked In recommendations for random things. Or who knew those were from their friends joking around and so endorsing their skills at cake decoration and brain surgery.

  16. Sunshine*

    Q2- I was brought in as a contractor for a similar situation. The one I reported to was close friends with the deceased and she was well loved so it was always a touchy topic. We had to always close the door when talking about the person as it could cause tears. And it was a challenge pulling out information when you didn’t know who still had strong emotions.
    I also didn’t sit at that person’s desk. They began to ease people into the transition by having temporary staff sit at the deceased’s old desk. It was definitely difficult.
    Finding a resource for the new hire who isn’t emotionally attached to the situation would be good and being upfront during interviewing about the situation and once you have a new hire about the reactions the team is having is important.

    1. LW #2*

      Thanks for sharing this. I want to support the new person as best I can, so hearing about experiences from others is definitely helping with ideas on how to navigate this.

  17. WellRed*

    OP 1. Just generously estimate what you owe, pay it and be done. Not sure why you didn’t do it at the time. Honestly, reading the headline I thought this gonna be a much more fraught situation. Don’t hire the relatives of coworkers etc.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      They probably didn’t have any contact information other than a phone number (now ignored) and knowing where to find her mom (who insisted that it was nothing to do with her).

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      They didn’t have a way to get them the money the first time. It says in the letter the mom said payment was between the two of them and wouldn’t help. Not sure how they would have taken care of it at the time

    3. Allonge*

      This was brought up above, but ‘about a year ago’ is pandemic time when a lot of people were desperate for childcare and normal considerations like ‘don’t hire coworkers’ relatives’ did not have a lot of priority over ‘any solution, please’.

    4. Wry*

      I think the LW made it fairly clear that they tried multiple times through multiple channels to get in touch with the babysitter and were unable to. I’m guessing they didn’t even have her address to mail a check—and considering the babysitter only worked for two days and then ghosted, I’m guessing LW thought they had plenty of time to work out the logistics of payment and weren’t expecting the situation to come to an abrupt halt.

      Personally, I think it’s pretty absurd that the executive’s wife volunteered her daughter for this, but then when the LW went back to the wife to get help figuring out how to pay her, the wife basically threw up her hands and said don’t involve me. She’s the only reason this arrangement happened in the first place! I’m sure she and her daughter were/are both embarrassed about how this played out, but the executive’s wife could have easily provided her daughter’s address. Then everyone could have put it behind them.

      LW, I think Alison’s advice is good. Estimate the correct payment as best you can, write a check, and hand it to the daughter in person. Likely she won’t be expecting it so you can just cheerfully hand it off and then bolt without getting into any sort of back-and-forth about what happened.

    5. Misquoted*

      I thought, based on the headline, that the babysitter had been hired to replace a beloved coworker who had passed. I’m relieved to find that it wasn’t quite that fraught.

  18. Naomi*

    OP1: Oh dear. Normally it would be a good thing that an employee’s mother refused to get involved in a matter of payment… but I can’t help thinking the mother at least owed an apology for recommending her daughter when she knew she was unreliable. And now the daughter is working with OP, who knows her as someone who ghosted a previous job–and since OP has heard about this being a pattern, I can’t help wondering if the daughter has worked for (and flaked out on) other of her new colleagues. I don’t see this ending well.

    1. Naomi*

      Also, while OP doesn’t mention feeling pressured to hire the daughter, I don’t love the power dynamic of “hey, person who works for my spouse, you should hire our child!” The mother should have been more conscientious that this might make it both hard to say no and awkward to complain if (as happened) it went wrong.

  19. blackcatlady*

    OP #1: please come back and give us an update for how long the daughter lasted in the job. I’m betting less than a month. On the serious side, I wonder if she has undiagnosed ADHD. Something isn’t quite right that she begins jobs and bails out in short order.

    1. Observer*

      Ug. Please don’t start with diagnoses here. We have absolutely no information to say anything halfway intelligent on the matter.

      As it is all you are doing is spreading misinformation. ADHD does not necessarily mean flaking out on jobs, and flaking out on jobs does not necessarily mean ADHD. I can see that happening, but there are SO many other things that it could be that just jumping in and making that link is really not right.

    2. AnonInCanada*

      That, or an entitlement complex whereby she goes for a few days to pacify her mother, then bails, and expects mommy to look after her. I know this isn’t the venue for this, but I think this daughter needs a dose of reality.

  20. Delta Delta*

    #2 – My husband was hired into a position where the previous person had died. Because of certain licensing timelines, he couldn’t start for about 4 months after the person’s death, which seemed to help, but didn’t remove all the weirdness. When he got there he was shown to that person’s office, which hadn’t been touched at all, except to collect/clean up client files and papers. He felt odd going in, since it seemed the people in the office sort of expected him to be the prior person. The oddest part was that the person who died had a very distinctive office decoration on the wall (think, something like a giant mounted shark), and they never took it down. Eventually the person’s spouse finally came in and asked to have it back, and also wondered why they hadn’t offered.

    1. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      I feel like that’s kind of unfair to the new person to put the onus on them to essentially.. deconstruct a shrine to the deceased staff member? While I understand that it’s a really rough time, and packing away their personal effects can make the loss feel more real and final, the office really should ensure they pack up his stuff, either contact or put aside the personal items for his partner/relations, and let the new person start with at least a physically clean slate.
      It’s hard enough feeling like an unwelcome or inadequate replacement, being literally surrounded by your predecessor’s belongings is just a whole extra level of “you don’t belong here”.

      1. Wry*

        Agreed. The company should have reached out to the spouse about the things left in the office, and if they weren’t able to get in touch, they should have shipped the personal effects to the person’s home. A new hire should be provided a clean office with no personal effects left in it, regardless of the reason for the previous employee’s departure. I’m sure most people aren’t prepared for how to handle an employee/coworker dying, but when you get to the point where months have passed and you’re preparing that person’s office for a new hire to come in, it’s appropriate to revert to regular business procedure.

      2. EmmaPoet*

        Yes, that’s really awkward for the new employee. They have to figure out how to function in a work environment where they are, perhaps subconsciously, expected to be Late Beloved Employee. Having found myself in a similar position (though fortunately the person had retired rather than died) it was really hard when they expected me to be Orit 2.0, and I couldn’t be since she’d been there thirty years and I was brand new.

  21. Erin*

    I think I would approach the ghosting childcare situation exactly as Alison described. As the person who employed her services for a few days, I would want her to be compensated. Also, she probably feels really awkward about approaching the LW. I mean, “hey I ghosted your fam, but you haven’t paid me” is a little awkward. Be the hero in this situation and just write her a check/Venmo her an estimated amount with a little note “Hey, this is for the childcare that you did for us a while back. I’m sorry I am just getting to it now. I hope all is well!” And be at ease that you paid your former employee.

    No need to speculate about her financials or her job history. Just fair payment for services performed.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      If I were the person who did the ghosting I would absolutely feel too awkward to approach OP for payment! Heck, I’d probably be so embarrassed by my behavior that I would refuse payment

  22. JohannaCabal*

    LW4. I’ve never heard of something like this happening. Are you in the U.S.? I ask because most states are at-will, meaning you can still be fired even if there is a specific company process that has to be followed. This sounds more like whoever fired you didn’t follow the company’s policies for termination and is more concerned about “getting in trouble” with their management and/or HR. Feels very damage-controlish to me.

    1. Wry*

      I think that a lot of companies are cautious about following their own documented policies for firings in order to avoid potential discrimination lawsuits. Even in at-will states where the law doesn’t protect against firing without cause, going through a clear procedure with documentation can protect the company against accusations that they fired someone for a discriminatory way, which is illegal. Re-hiring the person does feel extreme and a bit weird, especially since it sounds like LW was on the way to being fired anyway with their pattern of lateness, but it seems like whoever carried out the firing messed up by not following policy and the company feels this is the best way to cover its bases.

    2. My Boss is Dumber than Yours*

      As hinted at above, even in at will states you can’t have different standards for policy based on protected class. If the employer regularly follows their company policy on lateness for white
      men, but summarily fires women and BIPOC employers for lateness outside their documented procedures, they can (and should) be found to be engaging in discriminatory practices. Even though there is no legally protected right to the three-step process the company laid out for OP4, once they begin engaging it for some employees it absolutely can become a protected right for others if it can be shown that it is being primarily used to the benefit or detriment of a protected class.

      But, really, OP4… be on time more. Chronic lateness is a choice, and not a good one.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        When I first started reading I did not see where the letter was going because it mentioned a “verbal warning” OP “signed”, so I thought they were going to say that turned out to be their written warning (or the boss thought it was) since otherwise, how is there anything to sign? So I was surprised the outcome was “oops we messed up our process”. The process is weird to begin with.

    3. Julie*

      I had this happen at an office I worked at. We were government and had strict policies for PIPs that weren’t followed. Our boss was an elected official who had no management training and had no idea when he fired her. She actually chose to come back but both sides tried to play a game of chicken, one having a rigid PIP and another having an attitude of “I will do exactly what is in the PIP and nothing more so go ahead and fire me, I dare you.” It was definitely where no one wanted to be sued which is why she was immediately brought back and fully compensated for the days off.

      Either way, it was shitty to be her coworker and in a poorly managed office so I left for a place where I could rely on literally anyone.

    4. MCMonkeybean*

      I don’t think they were worried it was *illegal* to fire them, just that they were trying to follow policy.

    5. Pickled Limes*

      There’s a difference between being fired for any reason and being fired in any way. If a company has a written procedure for employee discipline and termination and they fire someone without following the policy, they’re still opening themselves up to a wrongful termination lawsuit. It would be wrongful not because the employee was fired for the wrong reason, but was fired in the wrong way.

  23. Tussy*

    LW1, bless you for writing in about wanting to the best way to pay her for her work, you seem like a really empathetic and kind person. All the best to you!

  24. Hydrangea McDuff*

    LW2– The opportunity for me to move into my current position came about because of a death. In my case I knew that up front, because I had a different role within a totally different part of our organization, and I didn’t replace the person directly—my boss moved up into their role and I was hired for what had been my boss’s position. I could write a very long comment about all the things I learned about joining a team when there’s been such a profound loss, but I’ll try to sum up :)

    It will be doing your new employee a kindness to have a private conversation letting them know the context around what your team has experienced and guiding them through conversations, especially if you are continuing to experience your own grief. It allowed me to think through how I would answer questions like “how did you get interested in this role?”, when truly I knew about the job because of the death of the colleague. Or how to balance saying “I’m so excited for this opportunity,” which was true, but could also look callous.

    It was also helpful for my boss to give me quiet heads up about things like anniversaries of the loss, or projects that were particularly important to the team member who passed away and that might bring emotional reactions from our team. I also stepped back and worked to be my most empathetic self, while still being confident that I was joining the team as myself, with my own strengths, and I could honor the previous colleague in lots of small ways while still asserting myself and building my professional reputation within the role. (I read A LOT of Ask A Manager!)

    In my team’s case, we are now to the point where the grief is not so fresh, and we can say things like “I wonder what advice so and so would have given us on this project if they were here?” and there is some peace.

    Another note, if this is a possibility, is to see if your team could meet with a counselor to talk through some of these things before the new hire starts, with an eye toward: we all will miss Colleague and continue to grieve for them, and how are we going to welcome New Hire to our team?

    1. LW #2*

      Thank you for this perspective. We had a session with our EAP folks shortly after the loss, but could consider something before/as the new person is onboarded as well.

  25. Analyst Editor*

    I don’t understand why the response for LW3 is so harsh to LW. LW3 isn’t saying they’re entitled to the referral bonus, or that their friend is entitled to the better position. In fact, it’s in LW3’s interests for the friend to get the high-turnover position, because then he gets the referral bonus for sure.

    Now, as far as what to do, the advice is right: LW can’t do anything; this is a battle that the hiring manager, which I guess is your manager, has to fight, if he wants to interview this candidate and HR is pressuring him not to.

    But LW3’s emotions aren’t misplaced entirely. HR is liable to act in HR’s best interests, according to their internal targets and incentives – which might well mean filling a high-turnover understaffed position with any candidate that comes in, regardless of what would be best for YOUR department, YOUR team, and of course the candidate.
    At issue here is HR, which appears to be out of line and exerting pressure on a hiring process that should be led by the hiring manager for the position.

    1. Observer*

      . LW3 isn’t saying . . . that their friend is entitled to the better position.

      Yes they are. They say “I don’t want my friend to get screwed out of the opportunity” You can only get “screwed out” of something you are entitled to.

  26. MMMMMmmmmMMM*

    for OP#2: My partner was promoted from within as the person to replace someone who had passed from COVID. I don’t believe he was told explicitly that the previous person had passed away (its a massive company), but had found out from conversations. That said, nobody has been cold or mean to him for taking the place of the coworker who passed. If you have a reasonable team, they should be able to adjust.

  27. Sorry for your loss*

    OP2, I have a suggestion, you can see if this works for you.
    – Divide the well-loved-dead-person’s job into few parts and split it among existing employees who know the work … They might be happy to do it as they are helping taking his memories forward.
    – Take some of the work from existing employees and give it to the new person
    – Plan the new person’s arrival such that the division of labour from step 1 is well in advance and then your team will be happy to see new guy come and take over some of their existing work
    – I like the idea someone posted above to change the seating arrangements such that no one has to sit on that spot. Put a cabinet or printer there…

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      That’s really creative, but it’s a massive reorg to avoid an emotional reaction that could be dealt with instead of sidestepped/may not even occur.

    2. Observer*

      This is way overkill. It’s a lot of work (especially not filling a position for that long), and it may not even be practical or possible. It CERTAINLY should not be necessary. People can, should, and DO adjust to this kind of thing in a reasonably healthy environment. Not that they forget the person who passed. But they adjust to a new person taking on the work role.

  28. I should really pick a name*

    I hope I’m not the only one who read the headline as a single, very complicated letter XD

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

      That would be an interesting letter indeed. lol

    2. Katie*

      I’m imagining a screwball workplace comedy where the beloved, deceased employee sticks around and gives the babysitter career advice, called “The Ghoster and the Ghost.”

  29. Lauren19*

    LW2 I’m so so sorry you’re going through this. I lost an employee a few years ago who was tenured in the role and very well liked within our team and by the cross functional groups she supported. One thing we did was restructure the role a little so it wasn’t a clean backfill. We didn’t want any comparisons or even worse ‘the new Jane’. If that’s an option at all I’d look at what responsibilities you can move around.

    1. LW #2*

      Not too much we can shuffle, but the scope of the job has changed over time such that it’s been reclassified to a different job title. That and specifically being conscious to not hire for “Wakeen’s replacement” will hopefully help moving forward.

  30. It's the little things*

    OP#2 – I’ve been the person hired into a role where the previous incumbent was a well liked colleague who passed unexpectedly. I was told after I asked why the position was open (just as a regular interview question) and it was very helpful to know. Even if you aren’t doing it with any bad intentions, often when you take a new job you end up making some changes based on your own style. I had colleagues who wanted to memorialize the way he did things because he was never going to be able to make the changes himself and it was tough. Going in with that knowledge helped me be more prepared and I worked with my manager to determine the best way to explain why those things made sense and were not a direct attack on their former colleague. Took a bit but it was fine after a while, but I would want to know that before I had to make a decision on taking a job in the future.

  31. Cheesesteak in Paradise*


    I can’t believe how many commentators are saying just don’t pay for the two days of babysitting because she went AWOL and it’s “just” babysitting.

    For one thing, that’s illegal. Sure, it’s off the books babysitting but an employer is still required to document wages and report them to the government. The truly correct thing for an AWOL employee would be to send the money to the state unclaimed money office. Absent that (which I know doesn’t really happen), this person has both an ethical and a legal obligation to pay for hours worked. There’s no way it’s “impossible” to figure out how much – either pay for weekly wage/projected days x 2 days or pay hourly. When in doubt, round up.

    It’s not ethical or legal to withhold earned income for hours worked to punish someone for going AWOL. For crying out loud, folks…

    1. Lifelong student*

      An individual has no obligation to document and reported occasional casual labor in one’s home to the government. A business does have more reporting requirements. Individuals also do not have escheat responsibilities.

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        Actually you do -it’s called the nanny tax. I doubt this individual met the threshold (in the US) of $2,100 per year or $1,000 per quarter. But it’s not true you never have to document casual employees in your home to the government.

        Also, whether it’s casual or not (or subject to unclaimed property laws), you missed the bigger point that it’s unethical and illegal (though unlikely to be caught or enforced, I agree) to not pay an employee for hours worked. I think our ethical standards should be higher than “how likely am I to be caught.” The LW admits they owe this person money so the LW needs to pay.

        1. Sara*

          This is FAR below the requirements for the nanny tax. Unless they were somehow intending to pay this person $125 an hour, which seems pretty unlikely!

          I think it’s fine to hand over a check if OP wants, but honestly at some point when you try over and over to contact someone who is choosing not to respond to you, it becomes harassment. Maybe the babysitter is embarassed about the whole situation and would rather just not talk aobut it instead of getting the money? It sounds like there were attempts to contact her multiple times which she MADE THE CHOICE to ignore. Sometimes the ethical thing to do is to allow people to choose not to have contact with us, for whatever their reasons.

          1. GothicBee*

            The babysitter is now literally working with the LW, which means the LW can easily pay her for the time. If the babysitter had remained AWOL, I’d agree that there’s no obligation to hunt her down just to deliver the check (assuming they didn’t have an address to send it to or anything).

            And it’s not ethical to not pay someone for hours worked at a job you hired them for. If someone is hired for a job and then says they don’t want payment, that’s literally one situation where you do have an obligation to ignore their objections and give them the money unless it’s literally physically impossible to do so. Whether they use the money/cash the check/whatever is up to them.

        2. Observer*

          I think you are way overstating the case. I don’t believe that there is any legal issue here at all. As for the ethics of the case, the OP did not, and is not, “withholding” pay. They made several efforts to pay the babysitter, so it’s really unfair to frame it that way.

          I do think that the fact that the daughter has now shown up at the company does change things a bit. Enough that I agree that it’s the right thing for them to just give her the money. But it they didn’t ask about it, I would still not call it “withholding” her pay.

  32. Observer*

    #2 – Please read the link that Alison posted. That’s an extreme case, but something to keep in the back of your mind.

    The thing you need to keep in the foreground of your mind is an absolute expectation that staff will treat the new hire properly. Awkwardness, some sadness etc. is ok. Resentment is NOT. You need to communicate to staff in a way the says that OF COURSE people are going to be reasonable and try to be kind (and that absolutely mean exactly zero resentment.) And then you keep your eyes open and nip any chowing of resentment or other inappropriate behavior in the bud.

    People get to feel what they feel, and you don’t want to even try to police that. But what they SAY and what they DO are things that you do have standing to regulate. And they do NOT get to express resentment or mistreat a new colleague.

    1. LW #2*

      Yep. I’m a long-time reader so remember that letter well–it is partially what spurred me to write in in the first place.

      The rest of the department (and this team in and of themselves) are very reasonable, very conscientious folks, so I’m not worried about any overt or purposeful misbehavior–mostly I just want everyone to be aware and sensitive to the situation so no one get’s accidentally steam-rolled in one direction or the other.

  33. Dorothy*

    Re: #4, the fact that you were fired “in the middle of the day” which was also “an hour after [you] got in” suggests a fairly INTENSE level of lateness. As in hours, not minutes.
    Combine that with your mention that it’s been “most days” and you were already warned, and it doesn’t look great even if your employer was in the wrong for violating procedure.
    I wonder if perhaps you would you better at a job with a drastically different shift time? Or if there’s some other structure that could work better for you? Because right now, this just looks like you’re postponing the inevitable.

  34. Allison*

    #4, it sounds like you and this job aren’t a fit. You didn’t mention why you’re late most days, or how late you are, so I’m not sure if you just need a position with slightly more flexible hours, like they want you there 8:30ish to 5ish but they won’t yell at you if you’re actually showing up at 8:35 or so as long as your work is being done and you’re present in meetings; or if you need to find a new job that’s either closer to home or has a later start time, that you can feasibly get to on time most days.

    I get that sometimes our mornings go sideways, sometimes traffic is worse than usual, and trains break down from time to time, and as much as I hate unnecessary strictness around start times, IF your employer states “we need you starting work at this exact time every day” and you’re always showing up 10-15 minutes after that, you gotta figure that job isn’t gonna work out long term.

  35. Betsy S*

    LW#3 – you say “My manager is thrilled and looking forward to interviewing them” so I think it is OK to mention to the manager, in a neutral tone, that your friend has been offered an interview for this other role. But, you can’t push or complain in any way about it – beyond what you’ve already said, that you think your friend will be an asset. That’s up to the hiring manager, if they want to push HR.

    Hiring managers and HR are not always in complete sync on hiring requirements – especially in my area of tech. So, it’s not a bad thing to let the hiring manager know when there’s a good candidate, but it has to always be couched in terms of what is good for the *department*.

  36. SchuylerSeestra*

    LW 2: So the very first role I filled as an internal recruiter was a replacement for a beloved colleague who passed away. She was in a bad motercyle accident. Initially the role was supposed to be temp while she recovered, but unfortunately she took an unexpected turn for the worse. My manager gave me heads up when he learned she was being taken off life support.

    It was traumatic to say the least. I was torn on telling candidates the reason role had opened. Ultimately i realized they would find out if hired, but kept things somewhat vague

  37. Friyay*

    Re: #1…I was that person. I quit a fast food job in high school after two days. It was something I thought was awful and couldn’t handle (apparently I’m only suited for white collar jobs, ha) and I did NOT want to come get a check for those two days because I was embarrassed and certainly didn’t feel like facing the managers was worth the money I got from those two days, much less that I deserved it. Eventually I was pressured so much to pick up the check by the managers and other fellow high school students that also worked there that I did but I definitely would have preferred to let it go. Consider that the person may actually prefer that it all disappeared rather than deal with it.

  38. Anonymous Today*

    OP #3: HR is looking at the “big picture”, as in what jobs does the company need filled ASAP. The opening in OP’s dept. may not be the highest priority. That’s why the OP’s manager needs to advocate for her dept.

  39. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    #3 – “bait and switch”. Your friends is seeking a job in one area but they want to put her in a call center – which is generally, a lousy job with no future. In fact, taking such a job could HURT her career because no one will hire her for anything else. If it were my friend, I’d say RUN LIKE HELL. I advised my godchild not to take a job like that, even though her mother insisted she should — because her mother wanted her close to home. I, and others explained the perils of accepting a dead end job. She landed as an admin assistant at a financial firm… that never would have happened if she took a job in “the looney bin”.

    #4 – they probably realized that they went against the company handbook. They may want you to come back so they can complete the cycle. If you can afford not to go back, don’t. You’re right, you sense something stinks. It probably does.

Comments are closed.