employer wouldn’t give me paid time off for Covid, my job won’t let me quit, and more

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

1. My new employer wouldn’t give me paid time off to recover from Covid

I started a new job a few months ago and it seemed to be going alright and my supervisor seemed to be happy with my work.

Well, I recently came down with Covid (one of the rare breakthrough cases — lucky me). I let my supervisor know, explaining I’d need a few days off to sleep it off before I’m able to work again. (It’s a WFH job, so the two weeks isolation wouldn’t directly interfere with work.)

Despite being salaried and having benefits, I was told that since I have only worked there for two months, I’ve only accrued two days of PTO (one sick, one vacation) but our flex time allows me to work when I’m feeling well enough to do so, or I could always take unpaid days off if I needed more than two days off for Covid. In other words, I was told my options were essentially to work through it or get a cut in my pay.

Needless to say, I was mad at this turn of events. The next day, I told my supervisor that I was angry over not getting any more sick leave during a global pandemic, and I still needed more time off. They recommended I schedule an appointment with HR to discuss my options, as “it’s murky.”

I reiterated that I need time off, meaning I will not be available for appointments with HR or otherwise, and will not be available. I stated I would be taking the remainder of the week off to recover from Covid, and that if they could not accommodate my sick leave then to consider this my resignation, effective immediately.

Some additional context here: this is a university hospital for a public institution. My job is decidedly back-office. I would have been happy to try and salvage the situation, but don’t really see the point if they’re going to make every sick leave 100x worse with their bureaucratic pandora’s box layered with maudlin well wishes. I’m struggling to interpret this as anything other than, “They are very, very wrong and I’m definitely less wrong.” So I guess my question is, on a scale of 1 to Cheap Ass Rolls, how in the wrong am I here?

On the 1 to Cheap Ass Rolls scale (as explained here) … you’re nowhere near Cheap Ass Rolls. This employer sucks for not working with you to find a solution so that you wouldn’t be stuck taking unpaid leave to deal with Covid. And they’re a hospital! A good employer would have at least offered to advance you some leave. A good manager would have offered to talk to HR on your behalf, not suggested you make an appointment with them when you were already out sick.

That said, you probably reacted more heatedly than you had to. Your conclusion that they’d make every future sick leave difficult probably isn’t correct; it’s more likely that they’re just extremely rigid but that it would have gone differently if you’d had more accrued leave. Unfortunately a lot of companies are rigid about not letting people take leave they don’t have; it’s Covid that makes this different.

It does seem like you moved pretty quickly to announcing you’d quit over it; ideally I would have liked you to at least have talked to your manager and/or HR once you were feeling better. But you get to decide that you don’t like what this says about your employer and you get to quit over it if you want to.

2. My job won’t let me quit

I recently got into an argument with my second job, and I want to know if I handled it correctly. The second job is a babysitting service and had been an easy second job. I picked it during school breaks to supplement my primary job as a substitute teacher and then as a teacher’s aide. The arrangement had been great, and then they were bought.

Suddenly, I needed to work for them in the hours I was needed in my primary job. I was expected to respond to jobs with 5 minutes rather than 1-2 hours. Jobs were rescinded if I didn’t respond within 2 hours even if they came in late at night. Maximum driving distrance was raised to 25 miles. I realized I could not meet the new demands without putting my primary job in jeopardy so I sent a letter explaining my reasons for leaving. I had assumed it was over, but they did not accept my resignation. Instead, they said they’re making an exception for me not being available every week and they’re no longer requiring me to take the further away jobs. Do I have to accept this, or can I say “no”?

Following that, they removed me from being auto-assigned to jobs and now need to respond when I see something in my availability. While this means I won’t be in the awkward position of my phone ringing at work it does mean a few extra steps to getting sitting jobs, plus now I can’t work for a different company or for tutoring because I’m still their employee. I’m also worried I set myself up for retaliation and may now be fired rather than amicably quit due to new demands.

Should I just grit my teeth and continue to work for this company since it seems my only other option is to get fired? Should I just quietly quit by no longer asking for jobs? Should I just work for them during school breaks and weekends as was the original agreement?

What, no! They can’t force you to remain employed by them. And I doubt that’s their intent — it sounds like they just misunderstood and thought they were solving the problems you had with the scheduling.

Contact the person there who you tried to resign to and say this: “I appreciate your willingness to be flexible, but the job no longer works with my schedule and I am resigning, effective (date). Can you please remove me from the system?”

That should be the end of it. If for some reason it’s not, you could send a certified letter informing them that you resigned on (date) but are still being contacted and need to be formally removed from their employment. Keep a copy of that letter and the delivery confirmation for your own records in case they later claim you never quit. But it’s unlikely that you’ll need to do that once you clarify that you are in fact resigning.

You absolutely do not need to continue working from this company just because they haven’t removed you!

3. My coworker changed my hotel without telling me

I am headed to another state tomorrow for a work trip. I had my hotel reservation pre-arranged and had selected my hotel because of its amenities. A coworker who is based in the state I am visiting just sent me an email saying she saying she had changed my hotel to one she believes is better. (She contacted our administrative folks to have them cancel the original hotel, then contacted her friend who works at her preferred hotel to get a reservation. She forwarded me the confirmation number for the new reservation. She is friends with the owners of the replacement hotel.) Should I say something to this coworker?

WTF, that’s an overstep! Yes, say something to her. For example: “I picked my hotel for specific reasons. Can you please change it back ASAP?” (Or, if you don’t trust that she’ll change it back or are worried she won’t do it in time, change that last sentence to: “I’m going to change it back right away.”) If there’s any chance this could happen again (or even if there’s not), add, “Please check with me before changing anything like this in the future.”

You might also talk to the person who changed your reservation at her request so they know not to let other people change your travel arrangements without checking with you first.

4. Docking pay for a vacation when you still worked 39 hours that week

Recently my wife, who is a salaried nurse working for a small company, took a one-week vacation. She started her vacation on a Friday after she had already worked 39 hours. (This was the plan.) Yesterday when she went back to work, HR informed her they were docking her one day of pay because she did not work a five-day week even though she put in the hours. Is this legal?

Nope. The specific reason why it’s illegal will depend on whether she’s exempt or non-exempt (nurses can be either). If she’s exempt, they can’t dock her pay for any week in which she works part of the week (except in a few limited circumstances, like if she’s working a partial week when she starts or leaves the job). If she’s non-exempt, they have to pay her for all hours worked, so they would owe her for the 39 hours she worked that week. They could dock her one hour if she normally works a 40-hour week, but not a full day.

Either way, it’s illegal.

{ 576 comments… read them below }

  1. Prefer my pets*


    I would like to express my gratitude on behalf of those who can’t for whatever reason quit jobs on the spot when employers suck. The only way crappy policies change is when they start to cost the employer…and turnover is incredibly expensive for skilled positions.

    1. Fran Fine*

      This. Who knows – maybe OP’s quitting will inspire someone in the administration to review and update the leave policy given the unusual times we’re in.

    2. None*

      I have to agree. I need to leave my job, for my own mental and physical health, and I just feel like I can’t without another job.

    3. Generic Name*

      I agree. I think it’s particularly egregious that a hospital is being so draconian about their sick time rules. It on,y encourages people to come to work sick or else risk losing pay.

    4. High Score!*

      I had to have emergency surgery shortly after starting a job one time. I had to use all my PTO for that year for recovery. Paying sick leave should be standard. People can’t help getting sick sometimes.
      So, yes, thank you for your reaction!

      1. ninenine*

        I totally understand what you are saying, but I’ve also worked with people who are “sick” the second they have a sick day accrued. (Also, I work in an industry where coverage is vital.) There needs to be some flexibility, but let’s not pretend employees always act with integrity either.

          1. PT*

            If you’ve accrued sick time under the California Paid Sick Time Law for workers whose companies otherwise don’t issue sick time, it’s paid out of state funds, not PTO, so it’s actually fraud to misuse that time when you are not ill. (And, for any other US states who copied that law after it was implemented.)

            That’s the only situation I can think of where you can’t do that.

            1. Serenity*

              The CA law requires employers to pay that sick pay – much like they are required to pay a minimum wage. The employer doesn’t get to opt out, and taxpayers are not picking up the tab. OTOH, there is a employee-paid tax deduction for disability coverage which is administered by the State. But that is a different benefit that has been in place for many decades.

          2. ninenine*

            Of course sick leave is their benefit to use. That isn’t the issue. High Score! said that paying sick leave (presumably when someone is really sick) should be standard. While I agree, the problem is that sick leave can be abused, or used as simply a day off. Therefore, businesses feel they need to put some limits on sick leave.

            Nothing I said should be construed to imply that sick benefits shouldn’t be used. However, if that employee I mentioned really did get sick, he would not have had any sick leave, and I would have a hard time feeling sympathy for him.

            1. pancakes*

              Personal sympathy shouldn’t have anything to do with the matter. Just about any universal program or benefit can be abused in some way. Trying to assess whether or not people using a particular benefit seem worthy of sympathy isn’t a good way to assess how much abuse is taking place.

            2. Chantel*

              How is using sick leave for a personal day abusing the benefit? Sometimes, I just need a mental break from work and take a day of sick leave to de-stress. A person doesn’t have to be sneezing to appropriately take a day of sick leave from work.

        1. SpaceySteph*

          If the issue is with a single employee not using their sick leave appropriately that should be addressed with the employee. If the issue is with not having enough coverage available because one employee gets unexpectedly sick, that should be addressed through staffing because sickness is unfortunately a part of life.

          Neither of these should drive draconian global policies on sick leave usage.

        2. Autumnheart*

          I know employees who run right out and spend money the second they get their paycheck, too! Shameful!

            1. Rach*

              There is a shortage of teachers and subs. This is unfortunate. Sometimes there is no one to cover a class and they have to be split up and moved to other classes or multiple teachers cover during their break. Or my mom has even been responsible for the class next to hers as well as her own (adjoining classrooms so she can sorta supervise both with the doors open). Or in extreme cases, the school has to close because of shortages. All unfortunate but also, not the fault of any one teacher taking PTO or sick days

            2. Batgirl*

              The teaching profession is set up with way too much solo responsibility and pressure. Don’t think that happened accidentally. Every job should be arranged around a team mentality with plenty of flexibility for sick leave.

          1. DrMrsC*

            This is a pretty unrealistic expectation across the board for healthcare right now. I think it may be too easy to apply what may be reasonable expectations in other industries to this scenario. My department of 40 in a rural setting went down for 2 weeks when 15 tested positive for COVID within 3 days last year. How do you plan backup for something like that? The policy mentioned by OP is fairly standard right now for hospital environments. Ours is – you get COVID from an at work exposure, you’re covered without using benefit time. You test positive otherwise, and you use benefit time or can opt to take it unpaid. Part of the rationale is to not incentivize careless behavior outside of work and so that we are stretched even thinner. It sounds callous, but it happens far too often. In some places we are completely overwhelmed by sheer volumes of patients. In others, we are short because staff if going elsewhere to either help or chase the enormous, desperation bonuses/hazard pay. For us short staffing is not a simple matter of poor planning. Whether you are a front line clinical care provider or back office employee, the provision of healthcare and all of the people who support it are FINITE RESOURCES.

            1. Anon for this one*

              So let me get this straight:

              * Employee A gets COVID from their asymptomatic kid who brought it home from school.

              * Presymptomatic Employee A chats with Employee B, who catches it from them.

              Employee B doesn’t have to use sick leave, but Employee A does? There are many reasons other than “careless” behavior why someone could catch COVID outside of work. Basing the use of benefit time on vaccination status would seem to be a far fairer incentive than ‘you are irresponsible enough to have kids under the age of 12 so we will throw you under the bus’.

              This is not even getting into the burden of proof issue – do you have regular mandated testing so you can prove that A had no contact at work with anyone who tested positive before they did, and thus you get to shame them?

              1. Old and Don’t Care*

                Well, if you fall and break your leg at work, that’s workers’ comp and you don’t have to use your sick time. If you fall and break your leg at home, you do. I don’t know why having to use sick time if you are sick with Covid is so egregious. I don’t love framing it as being careless or not, but I don’t see a problem with treating work acquired illness differently than non-work acquired.

                1. artifex*

                  It’s different because you have no way to prove where COVID was acquired. If you fall at work and break your leg, it is obvious when and how the fracture was sustained. You can sometimes make a really good guess as to where you probably got exposed to COVID but there is NO way to be certain.

            2. pancakes*

              I’d think a key part of planning backup in that scenario would be having an arrangement with at least one of the traveling nurse agencies and at least one of the locum tenens agencies.

                1. ShanShan*

                  Where on Earth are my massive medical bills going, then?

                  That money is living someone’s pocket. Maybe it’s time for hospital administrators to take a pay cut for once instead of sucking low level employees dry to subsidize their salaries.

                2. pancakes*

                  Exactly what ShanShan said. If leadership can’t figure out how to run an adequately staffed hospital, it’s time for them to exit the business. The US spends more money on healthcare than any other wealthy country, and we get worse and less care than any other. There are many lessons to be learned from how other places make it work. There’s an the 11-part series on WFAE dot org that looks like a good place to start catching up on this. Part 5 is about administrative costs.

            3. Fierce Jindo*

              But you incentivize hiding mild Covid to not lose paid time. And coming to work with it.

              MUCH worse, in my opinion

        3. PayRaven*

          Well, then they shorted themselves a sick day for when they “actually” get sick later. I don’t see the problem. It’s accrued, it’s theirs to use.

        4. winter*

          I manage a team that needs coverage. If one of them can’t become sick without hurting the coverage, I didn’t do my job.

        5. Fierce Jindo*

          Sometimes they might be scheduling medical appointments that were needed for a while but they had to delay until they had sick days.

      2. une autre Cassandra*

        In like 2009 a new hire at my then-job barely survived a truly horrific, life-changing car accident. She hadn’t been with us long enough for her health insurance so HR suggested we throw a spaghetti dinner to raise funds on her behalf. I think about that all the time.

        1. Rach*

          Isn’t it just awful? My husband’s co-worker’s wife went into pre-term labor maybe 45 days after the co-worker started. The wife and the baby almost died. The baby was in the NICU for months. Their company has a rule you can only miss 2 days in your first 90 days. His manager told him he could take the 2 days but he needed to be back after that or he’d be let go. That haunts me.

    5. MCMonkeyBean*


      The method was maaaayyyybe the tiniest bit overdramatic, but in a completely warranted way. So I say if you can afford to quit this job then I hope this makes them think about taking another look at their policies.

      It seems like in OP’s case it really only affected OP since they were working from home, but if they are a hospital then they presumably have people working in-person as well. This policy just encourages those people to show up to work even if they might have Covid and it needs to be changed ASAP!!

    6. Starbuck*

      Yes, kudos to LW1! If they’re able to handle quitting and finding a new job, then yes absolutely crappy sick leave policies are a legit reason to leave. Employers deserve to have more people quit over stuff like this.

    7. chilledcoyote*

      I thought the CARES act required employers to offer 2 weeks paid leave for people with covid or to take care of a family member who contracted covid. Is that over??

    8. Jennifer Juniper*


      Since your employer is a hospital, they would be in VERY hot water if it got out they were giving their employees a hard time for taking sick leave due to a positive covid diagnosis.

      1. ex Hospital Admin*

        They wouldn’t I can pretty much guarantee this is most University Hospital systems across the US.

      2. AntsOnMyTable*

        They weren’t saying the LW couldn’t take the time off just that they couldn’t do it paid. I work for a hospital network and pretty much after they implemented masks to be worn at all time getting paid leave for having COVID went by the wayside. People were allowed to go into negative PTO for the first year but that was about it.

    9. raincoaster*


      It says she’s allowed to work from home. I bet if she’d said, “Okay, I will see you tomorrow at 8am and will work the rest of the ten day Covid period in the office” they’d have found a way to work around this ridiculous policy.

      1. ShanShan*

        That’s incredibly optimistic. They’d more likely just let her come and throw her under the bus when something went wrong

        Why do you think the US consistently has the worst COVID numbers in the world? It’s not because we have weaker immune systems. It’s because our employment culture is evil.

  2. TaraGreen*

    #1 – you did get a little more heated a little faster than I probably would have but you know what – we’re in the middle of the pandemic that never ends (yes it goes on and on my friends), and you’re working for a hospital (!) that doesn’t seem to be taking the situation of your break through case with the due seriousness it requires. So I get it and agree with Alison – this is not a cheap ass rolls situation by any means.

    #2 – This is not indentured servitude, you have not signed a contract, and there is nothing holding you at this job but you RN. Having left jobs before I know it can feel unsettling to leave a position, that is making active efforts to keep you there – but there are other tutoring/babysitting jobs out there.

    3. Is there any reason your co-worker thinks they have the right/power to change your accomodations like this? This is very strange! Also the fact that she’s friends with the owner of the replacement hotel takes this from strange and overbearing to ethically questionable super fast.

    4. Your wife’s employer is a schmuck. And, from Allison’s feedback, an illegal schmuck. Sounds like it might be time for your spouse to politely and firmly reintroduce them to the concept of employees’ rights (such as they are in the US)

    1. Not Australian*

      “the fact that she’s friends with the owner of the replacement hotel takes this from strange and overbearing to ethically questionable super fast”

      This was where my mind went. In many organisations procurement is tightly-regulated to avoid staff getting kickbacks from suppliers, and since OP’s organisation has ‘administrative folks’ they may also have rules to prevent this happening. I think pure bafflement is OP’s best tactic here: “*Why* were my arrangements changed? I didn’t ask for that and was happy with what I’d chosen.”

      At the very least the colleague was interfering in something that didn’t concern them. At worst, it has the potential to be viewed as fraud.

      1. allathian*

        Fraud? Possibly, but ethically questionable, certainly. And I wonder if the coworker is getting any kickbacks from the friend as a “commission” for getting them more business?

        In any case, I’m surprised that the admins agreed to the change without talking to the LW first.

        1. Candi*

          My money is coworker made it sound like she talked to OP already, whether unintentionally or on purpose.

          This is why you double check even when someone says that!

        2. Farrah Sahara*

          My immediate thought is that the coworker who changed the reservation is getting some kind of perk from the hotel friend: a referral fee, gift card, or rewards points, i.e. “helping” each other.

        3. Rach*

          This kind of thing is definitely not allowed at my company. They go over similar situations (co-worker’s family or friend owns x, they can’t even recommend them for a contract with the company). Imight not be a large enough transaction to matter but it is definitely something I would side eye and talk to my manager about. And if it was a convention where multiple rooms were booked for multiple nights, it would 100% be a conflict of interest and not allowed.

      2. Mockingjay*

        I’d be sure to let management know about the colleague’s friendship with the owner, which led to a completely unnecessary change. Let them take it from there.

        Ugh. Work travel can be difficult; picking a hotel that’s comfortable for you goes a long way to smoothing the experience. Hope OP can change the reservation.

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            And if it’s not the same price, that’s not OP’s fault and their employer should still pay the higher rate. They’re the ones who canceled OP’s reservation without their approval, so if there’s a price increase, they should pay it.

      3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        The coworker had OP’s admin cancel the reservation THEN made a new reservation. What if friend wasn’t able to pull it off? OP would’ve been without a reservation.
        And ethically dubious? Yes. There’s a reason coworker did not run this by OP first and that reason is surely not, “I didn’t want to bother you with details.”

        1. Database Developer Dude*

          Is the co-worker in any way, shape, or form in the supervisory chain over the OP? If not, this is much more of an overreach than it seems.

          1. LW3*

            LW3 here, she is a part time employee in a different department, while I am a full time employee, and am in an elevated staff position.

            1. Candi*

              I mentioned this letter to a friend who works as an EA. (Public Sector, a couple steps down from boss of bosses.)

              She says she would have checked with you, refused to make the change, and then read the coworker the riot act due to the financial procedures that Must Be Followed involving travel.

      4. MCMonkeyBean*

        It doesn’t sound like fraud, but it does seem like there could be some kickbacks involved. I’m very curious to know if she does this regularly every time an employee stays in that area. If she’s getting some kind of commission or something out of directing coworkers to this hotel that is definitely extremely unethical!

        And if there are no kickbacks and she’s just extremely enthusiastic about this hotel and wants everyone to stay there, it’s still way inappropriate and not okay!

        1. Zelda*

          This. Even if the coworker is not getting a monetary or material kickback, steering the company’s business to that hotel because it benefits the coworker’s friend is majorly Not Okay. The company’s business needs to go where it most benefits the company, and in this case LW3 in their capacity as the company’s agent, NOT to individuals’ cronies.

      5. AKchic*

        A very pointed “I did not ask you to cancel my original reservations. Can you please direct me to the supervisor who asked you to change my reservations in favor of your friend’s hotel without consulting me? Thanks”
        Cc’ing the appropriate finance department personnel and supervisor(s) will escalate, but I think it’s warranted. This seems questionable at best; stepping on a coworker’s toes, questioning their judgement/decisions and then reversing their decisions; but at worst, it has a distinct air of favoritism (cronyism?), poor ethics, untrustworthiness, poor impulse control…

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      #1–I think getting heated much faster is the norm if you’re too sick to work and give zero fucks about how the company is willing to let you work in the middle of the night to accommodate your getting ill in a pandemic.

    3. Nanani*

      Even if #2 did sign a contract, you can still quit jobs. A contract can have penalities for leaving early but it can’t prevent you quitting.

      1. Momma Bear*

        OP#2 – agreed. Be really clear that your last day is X. When you submit a resignation, don’t leave wiggle room. You may not have and they saw it anyway. And always keep a copy for yourself.

    4. Observer*

      Also the fact that she’s friends with the owner of the replacement hotel takes this from strange and overbearing to ethically questionable super fast.

      Very much this.

  3. Forrest Gumption*

    #1 – check your state and federal laws around sick leave and COVID. They may be legally required to give you paid sick days until you are well enough to work again.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        There is indeed a federal law requiring paid sick leave for COVID, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Details are on the US Department of Labor website.

      2. Anon-mama*

        While it expired, some employers opted to continue it through September 30 and would receive tax credits. Thanking my lucky stars mine did, as we’ve gone through two exposure quarantines for my kids in the past two months. If OP’s company did that, HR would have to tell him.

        I’m sorry OP. I hope you feel better soon, and find something better soon.

      3. Forrest Gumption*

        It’s true that the federal law expired, but where I live (California), there is a state law that applies to companies with more than 25 employees. I’m sure other states have them too.

    1. OrangeSage*

      OSHA actually has something now about payment for covid in their covid 19 healthcare ETS. From their website: The ETS was officially filed in the Office of the Federal Register on June 17, 2021, and it became effective when it was published on June 21, 2021.

  4. vho842*

    Welcome to education. Teachers have to take whatever personal leave granted by their district’s contract if needing to quarantine or a positive case.
    And if they are a parent and the same scenario happens to their child and they have to be a caretaker for them, that same leave bucket must be used.

    1. Flower necklace*

      Actually, I’m a teacher working in a US public school system and we were specifically told that we would get an extra two weeks of leave if we were vaccinated and got a breakthrough infection.

      1. Stacy*

        I’m jealous. Once the federal COVID leave expired, my school district didn’t offer anything besides taking your own sick days or unpaid days if you didn’t have enough days banked.

        1. Flower necklace*

          Sorry to hear that! I think their reasoning is that most of the teachers are vaccinated and breakthrough infections are relatively rare, so it doesn’t cost them much to offer it.

          1. Thursdaysgeek*

            I don’t think breakthrough cases are that rare, unless I’m misunderstanding the term. I’ve known several people (in a small set) who were fully vaccinated and then got Covid. Or does the term mean someone who had covid, then got vaccinated fully, and then got it again?

            1. SpaceySteph*

              Breakthrough cases are rare and the fact that you know several people who got one doesn’t change that. Most data is showing less than 1% of vaccinated individuals have subsequently been diagnosed with covid, which even assuming a sizable undercount due to higher likelihood of being asymptomatic, is still pretty rare.

              This leave policy may even have convinced some people to get vaccinated, which is a good thing for society and a smart move for the employer as giving an employee a few days off to recover from a mild breakthrough covid infection is much better than them ending up severely ill or dead.

              1. Thursdaysgeek*

                In our church of about 50, we’ve had 6 breakthrough cases in the last 2 months, and none spreading within that group, except for spouses. One came from a family member (number 7 I know of) who was also vaccinated, from a care giver that I really hope was vaccinated. I know that randomness requires groups as well, that this could still fall within that 1% you’re citing, but that is high enough that I’m no longer considering vaccination as a protection from spreading it. It should keep me out of the hospital, and that is very important (for both me and the overworked hospital staff), but I’m still masking and taking precautions to protect other people.

                And ‘mild’ for those people has been described as the sickest they’ve ever been. Only one has been hospitalized, and the ones that are recovering are all thankful to the vaccine.

                1. Darsynia*

                  You can flip a coin and get a cluster of all Tails in a row, but that doesn’t change the overall chances of getting Tails. It’s just an outlier.

          1. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

            kids who then go home and spread it to their parents and extended family, especially in the cases of multigenerational households as is common with BIPOC. and not to mention their colleagues. such a horrible policy.

          2. Stacy*

            My district just talks around that issue. Usually it’s “if you follow all the precautions you won’t get it” which isn’t really how that works

    2. Humble Schoolmarm*

      My district, although it has made some epically dubious decisions lately(exploiting a contract loop hole to keep some teachers from having any prep time until February, any one?) does have quarantine leave so you can stay home if instructed by public health without eating up your sick time (no personal days here either).

    3. Midwest Teacher*

      Yep. A coworker’s child was recently sick and missed a couple days of school waiting for a covid test result to come back (negative, yay!). She called our HR department to see what leave was available, and was told that she needed to pull from her regular sick leave. She was also told that even if her child did have covid, unless she was sick herself or needed to provide care for the child, she did not need to take off work herself. So, even though someone in her household potentially had covid, she was expected to continue going to work every day. Oh, and we’re in a state without a mask mandate!

  5. BonzaSonza*

    OP #3 – having a co-worker change your existing booking into a hotel owned by friends of hers is Not Cool.

    I work in a heavily regulated industry, and this is colouring my opinion, but in my company that would probably trigger an enquiry into whether anti-corruption guidelines had been followed, such as independent vendor selection rules and whether the personal relationship was disclosed upfront.

    There’s also the question of how she was able to change a booking that was not in her name, and why the admin team followed her instructions without informing you of the changes to YOUR booking.

    If nothing else, I’d be emailing the admin team asking them to check and future changes whey you before actioning them, which is a reasonable request.

      1. UKDancer*

        Definitely when I used to visit a particular city regularly I usually stayed with one particular hotel because I like the breakfast and they often upgraded my room for being a regular customer. I would not be pleased if someone decided to change my reservation without asking.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The co-worker will have some excuse like being able to share transit…but even if I’m playing with an auto correct error. That’s cheesy.
          I hope OP is/was able to switch back to the hotel that had the amenities needed.

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            I know, they want to share transit and be joined at the hip. And when you’re with the type of people who insist on sharing transit, etc, you usually have to defer to what they want to do when they want to do it. Never mind what is convenient for you (because that makes you a non-team player). When I travel, I want to be able to have some level of autonomy and not have to hold hands with my coworkers the whole time.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          Aside: when I was a kid having dinner at a restaurant with my mom she ordered hot tea. She was distracted and added milk after putting lemon in it. She asked the waitress to replace it, apologizing and saying what my mind heard as “it became turtle tea” which made sense, because the clumps of milk made the tea look like a turtle shell.

        3. Frankie*

          I would say no longer near cheap ass roll, considering she was sick at that time, but closer to that end than to 1, yes.

      2. Ama*

        Unless the colleague who changed OP’s reservation was her manager, it’s actually pretty bad of the admin staff to change the hotel without checking back with OP first (unless the colleague lied and said “oh, I’ve already talked to OP and she’s fine with it.”) There’s a ton of privacy issues here (not to mention the giant red flag of the colleague knowing the owners of the other hotel — that would raise all kinds of potential conflict issues in my sector).

        Not a lot makes me really mad at work, but someone being presumptuous enough to change plans I had made without even talking to me would be one of them. I would be going to both the colleague’s manager (because as mentioned above, there is a potential huge conflict of interest ethics breach here by the rules of my sector) and the manager of the admin staff (where I would be more polite but would point out that they really need to have a policy that only the traveling employee or an approved assistant can make travel plans for that employee).

        1. MissBaudelaire*

          That was what stuck out to me. Colleagues can randomly change someone else’s reservation? With no one checking with the person the reservation was for? Uh… I… Uh… What?

        2. MsSolo (UK)*

          I’m pretty certain when we did GDPR training at work “changing a colleague’s reservation claiming they gave you permission” was specifically listed as one of the issues with poor data privacy!

        3. fhqwhgads*

          Yeah, unless the Changer is OP’s manager or manager’s manager, etc, OR that person is normally responsible for travel arrangements for that dept, it makes no sense why the admins would even make the change on her say-so.

    1. lmhilty@comcast.net*

      I would like to know how the co-worker even knew where the LW was staying. It’s reasonable to assume the co-worker knew LW was going to her office, but where did she get the info about the hotel? Did the admin group give it to her? That is also not a good thing.

      1. Lexie*

        Maybe she’s responsible for OP’s transportation while at that location, in that case she would have to be aware of the OP’s hotel.

        1. ceiswyn*

          OK, someone needs to have a serious talk to your admin team, then. They shouldn’t be giving out information to random colleagues who ask, and they definitely shouldn’t be changing it on the say-so of some random colleague who SAYS there’s a good reason.

          I’d be going to the admin team myself with an expression of innocent bemusement about how all these unwanted changes happened. Someone needs to give them a massive kick, but it probably shouldn’t be you…

        2. Candi*

          Holy frap.

          Admins have a lot of information at hand, but the only people who need to know what they know are those who have permission to know what they know. Those admins need some serious training or retraining.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      As someone who in the before times had a spouse who traveled a lot – to them the only time it was okay for the admins (who were the travel company liaisons if you were in an airplane) to change his hotel reservation was if after he left they heard from other people he was meeting that outranked him and they wanted Hotel X instead of his preferred Hotel Y. Same went if before you left someone else from his company who outranked him got added to the trip and had a different preference. Otherwise, the Admins never would just change a hotel reservation.

    3. High Score!*

      At my company, I would be expected to report this as an ethics violation. Also if I didn’t report it then I could be held as liable as the coworker who thinks it’s ok to book everyone at her friend’s hotel.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Ohhh heck yes! I just finished taking the annual compliance training at my work, and you’re right, this is a clear conflict of interest situation, that according to my training needs to be reported (and they provided several ways of doing so.)

    4. cmcinnyc*

      I thought of that, too. That would get an automatic inquiry where I work. A third party can change your reservation (and in the case of admins, it’s the job), but to a place owned by friends??? I would mention that when you talk to the people who took this coworker’s word that the reservation should be changed. If it was me, I would be upset to hear that.

    5. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

      WTF?? It was not your coworker’s place to change your hotel reservation, or to ask anyone else to change it for you. That was absolutely unacceptable of them. I think you should just change it back and then tell her to never do that again. Also ask the admin to never change your travel arrangements without checking with you first.

      This coworker needs to stay in her own lane. She sounds just like Self-Appointed Hall Monitor I worked with at ex-job. Busybody people like that need to get a life and mind their own business. At ex-job, one of the admins (not Self-Appointed Hall Monitor) used to change our travel plans if they found something cheaper. It was their job to do that (it was THAT kind of company) but I made it clear that I chose my flights and hotels carefully and within the company’s travel policy and she was not to change my plans.

      It’s one thing for a local colleague to make helpful suggestions based on their knowledge of the area. Quite another to just go and change your plans without checking with you first, for any reason. I hope you rip her a new one! :)

    1. njd*

      [yesterday was National Joke Day…]
      A Priest, a Minister and a rabbit walked into a bar. The bartender asks, “What can I do for you?”
      the rabbit replies, “Don’t ask me, I’m only here because of autocorrect.”

      That is my sympathy reply to all who have to correct their autocorrects here.

      1. Batty Twerp*

        The Autocorrect Rabbit is one of my favourite jokes. Thanks for reminding me of it during a bit of a stressful day.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I also like the one variation on it where they walk into a blood donation center and the rabbit says “I believe I’m a Type O.”

        1. Corporate Lawyer*

          HAHAHAHA! That’s awesome and thank heaven I had just swallowed my coffee, or else it would be all over my keyboard right now.

        2. Artemesia*

          I remember actually when that happened and the family actually was reportedly amused and charmed by all the autocorrect jokes about his passing.

          1. Benny*

            What? There actually IS an inventor of autocorrect? Surely the inventors are a bunch of algorithm developers and such? I thought “the creator of autocorrect has died…” is the opening of a whole bunch of jokes, sort of like knock knock who’s there.

    2. Chantel*

      Could we make auto-reply jokes a Saturday thread? Will be thinking of this to perhaps start one because I love these!

  6. Sopranohannah*

    Why is workplace #4 being so petty about one hour in one of the hardest positions to fill? Do they want to be one of the the companies in my inbox that are having to offer $4000/week for temp contracts? I’d encourage your wife to start looking for something else. Nursing has kind of sucked the last couple of years. There’s no reason to stay with an employer that makes it worse by valuing you so little.

        1. Sopranohannah*

          I’ve seen the pay for travel nurses @ $4000/week. You’d likely be working crazy hours on a ICU/PCU, but even on less critical areas I’ve seen around 30% increases from pre-COVID rates to keep up with demand.

      1. Ella*

        Not impossible, they were having to get temporary midwives in to cover shifts at my mum’s hospital. If they worked a full week, their earnings would’ve come to the equivalent of 3600USD.

      2. pieforbreakfast*

        I get emails every day offering travel contracts at $125/hr and a $30,000 hiring bonus. This would be for a limited time but I could make in a month what I make in a year.

      3. Xenia*

        Locums/traveling medical staff get paid a lot more than full time for many of the same reasons that a freelancer has a higher upfront cost per hour; no benefits and self-employment taxes. That’s before you get into paying for very skilled or undesireable work.

    1. Eat My Squirrel*

      I’m hoping LW 4’s HR meant they are docking her a full day of VACATION TIME and it’s all a huge misunderstanding. To be fair, forcing people to use PTO in full day increments also sucks, but it would suck less.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

      This is an example of WHY there is a RN shortage. Administrators pull this crap all the time.

      1. Annika Hansen*

        My sister was a nurse at a hospital in Alabama. I couldn’t believe all the shit like this that she had to put up with. The pay was significantly lower than what she could have gotten in the Midwest, too.

        1. Anon Supervisor*

          Also, she could be a member of a very strong and supportive union if she was in my part of the Midwest.

        2. Candi*

          I hear so much crap about what medical personnel go through in Alabama. One stunt I heard about a few years ago chased off a specialist pediatrician (don’t remember the specialty), who was the only one who practiced that specialty in three rural counties. And her doctor GP husband went with her.

  7. PinaColada*

    I don’t think Covid LW is “in the wrong” but I do think they are overreacting in a way that likely hurts them more than anyone. They are upset about the policy due to loss in pay, so their solution is to…quit immediately? With nothing else lined up? And thereby completely lose their pay? Unless they are certain they can immediately get a new job, this does not help their situation.

    So yeah, not “cheap ass rolls” level irrational, but definitely “cutting off your nose to spite your face” level irrational.

    1. PinaColada*

      Also…wait. You have medical benefits at this job? And you have COVID? I mean…what? You’re going to quit immediately? Okay I know most of the really bad cases right now are in unvaccinated folks…but please don’t immediately quit your job with medical benefits just because you are worried about losing a few days pay! If you really want to fob them off, fine, line up a new job and then quit without notice I guess. But yeah this does not seem rational to me!

      1. Hapax Legomenon*

        It’s about the employer’s cavalier attitude toward employee health and well-being much more than a few days of pay. LW sounds like someone who is in the enviable situation of not being excessively desperate for a job that pays a decent wage and provides benefits. (I don’t see that they specify they have medical benefits, although a salaried job probably does–but “benefits” here could just mean sick and vacation leave, if LW elected not to enroll in their employer’s health insurance plan.) I certainly couldn’t quit my job with nothing lined up, but LW doesn’t seem to regret their actions the way they would if they live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to lose a few days of pay.

        1. Clorinda*

          I would guess that a great many married people are covered under their spouse’s insurance, for example. My husband and I both work for employers that provide family coverage, and the whole family is under my insurance because it’s much cheaper, so if he suddenly up and quit, insurance wouldn’t be part of his mental calculation. LW could be in a situation like that.

      2. Alice*

        I mean, presumably OP knows whether she needs the job and the medical benefits from it.
        I didn’t read it as “OP quit because of losing pay” but as “OP quit because she realizes a very rigid culture and a manager who doesn’t go to bat for their team with HR is not an environment where she wants to work long term, and OP has enough options to leave.” Would that more people had such autonomy.

    2. Allonge*

      Yes, the reason for getting angry is 100% more legit than the cheap ass rolls situation – but it’s just as unproductive.

      I’ve found it more useful to check your workplace policies (preferably before getting hired, but that is of course not necessarily possible) and decide on whether or not they are compatible with how you want to work.

      Getting Big Mad when they are applied to you is… well, it can sound good in theory and movies and can get you to bad places in real life.

      1. ShanShan*

        There’s nothing unproductive about causing your employer serious inconvenience over a horrible policy.

        I doubt OP is going to have much trouble finding a new job. Hospitals are desperate for staff right now. Her employer, on the other hand, is going to have a very difficult and expensive time replacing her. And maybe next time they won’t be penny wise and pound foolish with their employees.

        I’m sure it would be more convenient for her employer if OP played their degrading little game,scoured the company handbook for loopholes, pleaded with HR, and basically allowed them to keep doing what they’re doing with no repercussions, but I wouldn’t call it productive. Not if her goal is to actually change something and not just secure an exception for herself.

    3. COVID Rage LW*

      The over-reaction is a fair critique. As far as what’s rational, though – I was being instructed more sick leave wasn’t possible, yet I wasn’t able to do work. Rationally speaking, those two options weren’t congruent: either I have covid, or I work a job that won’t accommodate my covid. And I unwittingly chose the former.

      I was either going to spend my sick leave taking a crash course in large university leave policy and begging multiple stakeholders for more time off (i.e. de facto doing work), or removing the giant stressor so that I could actually focus on my health. This is actually my second time having covid (first was March 2020), so I’m definitely testing my luck with getting long covid, so that also informed my thinking regarding leave policy and future illness.

      1. Teapot Repair Technician*

        I don’t think it is an overreaction since it resulted in exactly what you need: unlimited time to recover.

        And when you are healthy enough to apply for jobs again, that last job was short enough that you can leave it off your resume. You also know to make sure your next employer offers sufficient sick leave.

        1. PinaColada*

          Unlimited time to recover…without pay. When they were worried about 2-3 days without pay. And now they have to job search while recovering from Covid.

          1. ten four*

            This seems unnecessarily scoldy! Presumably the LW was well aware of these consequences when they decided to quit, and chose to anyway. Some people do indeed have the ability to walk away from jobs, and in a situation like this one I think they are doing a service for people who can’t.

            This is actually coming up at my job right now: we have a client who treats our teams terribly but that brings in absolute buckets of money. I’m literally meeting with our big boss this week to explain that 30% of the hundred+ people assigned to this client have left the company, and that most of that 30% were our most senior and difficult to hire people.

            Those people are demonstrating that the cost/benefit analysis of treating your team badly doesn’t always work in the company’s favor and with any luck their choice will help me improve the lives of the people still with us.

            1. PinaColada*

              It’s not scoldy. I’m just emphasizing what the letter writer emphasized in the first place. The letter writer was emphasizing wanting unlimited time to recover, they were emphasizing that they wouldn’t get paid for 3 (!) days. That to me seemed to be the source of their outrage, and they asked if their response to quit with nothing lined up was overreactive. So I personally don’t think it’s a productive response to say “Hey, good on you! Now you have exactly what you wanted, all the time in the world to recover!” when that’s not even what they said they were most concerned about.

              1. ShanShan*

                They’re concerned about the cruelty of the policy and the attitude it represents, not the three days pay.

              2. Lab Boss*

                We don’t know that LW was upset about the pay because they were in desperate need of the money. From a purely practical sense I’ve got plenty of savings and could go a good while without income if needed. The loss of 3 days’ pay wouldn’t hurt me in any immediate sense, but if I felt my company was being excessively rigid to the point it would cost me 3 days pay I’d be livid. Not strictly over the loss of the money, but over the mindset and the system. In a health care setting I’m willing to bet the employer has asked for a TON of flexibility from employees, but isn’t willing to be flexible back. I wouldn’t have quit on the spot but can’t fault OP for doing it, as long as they’re financially stable.

          2. twocents*

            Zactly. If LW has so much money that it doesn’t matter if they’re employed or not, then cool for them, but then I don’t know why three unpaid days were that upsetting in the first place.

            1. Alice*

              Like Alison says when talking about interviews — money is not the only factor that makes a good fit between an employee and employer. I’m getting the impression that it’s not the three unpaid days that were so upsetting, but the rigidity and the “you’ll have to sort it out in a bureaucracy which you don’t yet know, on your own, while you’re sick” attitude.

          3. Teapot Repair Technician*

            The “without pay” part was going to happen either way.

            And while searching for another job after recovering isn’t great, returning to an inhumane employer after recovering is arguably worse.

          4. A Wall*

            I don’t get why so many people in the comments here are upset that someone who had the option to quit when they didn’t like the polices at a new job went ahead and did so. You’re not required to stay at any job for any reason, even if it was as stupid as cheap ass rolls. And on top of that, are we not constantly on here telling people to take policies like this into consideration when evaluating taking, leaving, or staying at a job? She got a new job, saw how they apply their leave policy, saw her management unwilling to help her figure it out while she was too ill to do so well on her own, and said, ok, then I don’t want to take this job after all. Whether you’d have done the same thing or not is really immaterial to whether it’s a bad decision, and since the only person who could possibly be harmed by it is the LW and she is not concerned, I don’t know why anyone’s reaction would be to wag their finger at her and tell her she’s doing something objectively crappy here.

            1. PinaColada*

              It’s not scoldy. I’m just emphasizing what the letter writer emphasized in the first place. The letter writer was emphasizing wanting unlimited time to recover, they were emphasizing that they wouldn’t get paid for 3 (!) days. That to me seemed to be the source of their outrage, and they asked if their response to quit with nothing lined up was overreactive. So I personally don’t think it’s a productive response to say “Hey, good on you! Now you have exactly what you wanted, all the time in the world to recover!” when that’s not even what they said they were most concerned about.

            2. PinaColada*

              Sorry looks like my answer to someone else reposted. I’m not upset lol. I’m just answering the LWs question “was this irrational”. To me, yes.

      2. A Wall*

        As someone who’s spent most of their career in hospitals, I know what they’re like and I don’t think you’re being over the top. It is impossible to take any kind of leave, but especially sick leave, with the way hospital administrators run things, there is always immense pressure to work when sick (even when you’re in person) and you get dramatically over-penalized when you refuse. Even if you’re administrative and not immediately essential, it’s the same thing always. I have seen one bout of illness or one short FMLA leave destroy multiple people’s careers over the years. Why do you think hospitals are hemorrhaging staff left and right now? We’re sick of all of this.

        So yeah, I get why people think this is a huge leap on your part, but as someone who’s got experience in where you’re coming from, I know why you’d do it. They always do a super slow accrual to make it so you never have paid time off and then pitch a fit when you have to take unpaid leave anyway because you need to be away because you are ill. They act like you not having the paid time available means you’re magically not incapacitated or contagious, so taking the leave is insubordination. It’s the same crap every time. Good luck to you, I hope things work out.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          So much for human health, eh? How ironic. They are in the health care biz.

          A family member was a nurse. She said that her work load was so heavy that she frequently did not use the restroom when she needed to. This lead to kidney problems later on in life. She pointed out that her nurse-friends also reported similar issues.

          It’s disgusting how the employees are treated. The crying shame is that it’s so fixable.

          1. Pure Snark*

            Health care providers (doctors, nurses, etc.) are in the health care biz.

            The bureaucrats are in the health care denial biz and it’s part of why our system is so messed up.

            1. Artemesia*

              Perfectly said. US health care spends huge amounts of its resources precisely on ‘denial of care’. It is the primary focus of health insurance; who can forget the woman with breast cancer denied coverage because she didn’t report that she had had acne as a teen on her health history. For what we spend we could have the excellent health care of Germany or France — but instead we have strong interest pressures from pharma, hospitals and insurance companies to maintain a system that enriches some at the expense of the health of everyone else.

            2. A Wall*

              That’s exactly it. None of the folks making these polices are within a mile of patient care, and they make a point to stay physically separated from all the sick people and staff that provide the actual services. The administrators have their own separate wings with separate entrances or entirely separate buildings, all with their own nicer amenities, than the folks actually dealing with caring for anyone’s health.

          2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            I once had a friend want to recommend me for an open position on their team in the office of a large hospital. Friend called me to gush about the benefits. “And we get 28 days PTO a year as new hires”

            Me: “wow is that calendar days or business days”
            Friend: “business days no worries. (pause) Of course, this includes the holidays, as well as the personal and sick days. All in one bucket.”
            Me. (does the math) “Still a good amount of PTO.”
            Friend: “Of course, you start with 0 hours and then accrue your PTO with every paycheck.”
            Me: “hmm the first few months will suck, especially if I get sick, but okay I guess?”
            Friend: “Yeah we had a problem with a guy here last year. He started right before Thanksgiving, and was supposed to take six days off right away, for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. Everyone is required to take these days off as the offices are closed. But he did not have any PTO to take. His manager worked something out in the end.”
            Me: (suddenly not as interested in the job)
            Also me (talk to friends later, find out that this is a standard PTO policy at hospitals. I’m… speechless. I thought hospital workers deserved all the perks and then some, for how hard they work and what they do. Instead they are required to go negative on PTO right after they start?! what the heck is wrong with us as a society)

            1. Teapot Repair Technician*

              I work in tech and manufacturing and this has been the policy at many of my employers. Forcing employees to use PTO (or take unpaid leave) when the “offices are closed” between Christmas and New Year’s is especially common and annoying.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                Yikes, looks like I’ve been unusually lucky in my career so far. And I thought I’ve worked at a few places with really bad PTO policies (one had no paid time off at all in the first 12 months, not even sick. The other, you got 2 personal and 3 sick days in your first six months there, and an additional week PTO in the second six months. Then at your first anniversary you got two weeks PTO plus personal plus sick), but none of mine forced people to go negative or otherwise jump through hoops for the holidays that they had no choice but to take.

              2. Loredena Frisealach*

                I left a previous employer (major consulting firm) soon after they implemented this. I generally took that time off anyway, but it was really hard on younger employees with less vacation time – especially since often they were being forced to use all of their PTO for a religious holiday not their own. It was just one more way that the company was treating their consultants worse as they tried to reduce costs prior to spinning off that piece of the company.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              My job doesn’t have the greatest PTO policy, but at least holiday days are separate and given automatically on the holiday. Lumping them into PTO makes zero sense if they’re required to be taken on those specific days.

              1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

                I can kind of see it why hospitals would have this policy, because for obvious reasons a hospital should be open every day of the year. But to then close the office and tell the people working in the office that they *have* to take these days off, earns an eye roll from me.

            3. A Wall*

              Yep, this is how it has been at every hospital I have worked at. You have to use the big PTO bucket to be paid for holidays where your area is closed, and it’s all accrued very slowly. So every month you earn a day and change, and the next bank holiday zaps it away again.

              The place I was at the longest, it was typical for almost everyone in the support staff to put in special requests to work on holidays so they would not have their pay docked. You’d go behind the clinic at like 4pm on Christmas Eve and every single admin and scheduler and etc would be at their desk working like usual because they could not afford to take the day off.

        2. MissBaudelaire*

          Not to mention getting scolded for being there while sick, even though you don’t have PTO and will get written up if you don’t go…

      3. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

        I’ve worked adjacent to the medical field (was a virologist) and yeah, their sick leave policies could use a little work in general.

        I think taking an action that puts your physical AND mental health first is to be applauded frankly. I know I’m in a minority but I’ve got no patience, at all, for people or companies who still can’t understand this virus.

        Companies with lousy sick leave policies or lousy covid protocols are generally rubbish companies overall.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Basically I’m saying in your position I’d have done the same thing. Probably with a lot of swearing too (this is a fault of mine I am working on – I do have a temper).

          1. COVID Rage LW*

            We’re definitely on the same page here. The reason I told my boss I was angry is because the other option involved expressing that anger in caps lock and vicious insults. Seemed like the least unprofessional option.

            1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

              Yup, been there. Although I am doing a lot of work to not mention my anger again in the workplace because it did kinda blow up in my face once. I’ve used the word ‘disappointed’ a LOT instead.

              Covid has made a lot of that work backslide though. On that topic I…find it very hard to keep calm.

            2. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

              I had a non-covid respiratory infection recently and I also WFH for a state dept. Told my boss not even to expect me on the computer for at least a few days.(ended up being 3) Even if I felt well enough to set up and type, the brain fog from the cold meds would make me absolutely worthless. So I can’t imagine a boss telling someone with Covid to just work flexible hours. Yeah I would of burnt that bridge too and planted landmines around the rubble.

              1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

                Memories of the time my boss told me that I could go home with a migraine but he expected me to work from home the rest of the day. Err, no, ain’t gonna happen.

                (I get the horrible 2 days being sick, horrendous pain, light sensitivity and a good day after with the migraine hangover)

            3. quill*

              I’m just speechless at the implications this has for the in person staff, i.e. those with highest exposure and most chance of infecting anyone else.

      4. Person from the Resume*

        Actually they weren’t going to fire if you if you didn’t work which is a more terrible choice they could have forced on you. They said you could take the time unpaid, but you still had a job when you returned. Instead you quit and immediately were unpaid.

        I think your response was an extreme overreaction. Since this is a “large university hospital at a public institution,” your PTO and sick leave policy is no doubt very clear and well-documented and also very rigid. I bet they don’t have much/any leeway in granting extra paid days off. This is unfortunately, but at certain places the rules are the rules. I’ve always worked for the federal government; you don’t get to not follow the policies. They’re following their rules. You knew or could have found out about leave accrual policies when you started; it would be described in your benefits. You didn’t care about the policy until it impacted you personally. Perhaps you expected that something could be worked out if needed, but what you wanted was impossible.

        If you could quit with no no job lined up, I also think you have afforded to to take those days unpaid. Quitting the way you did made a point at least to the people like your boss and coworkers in a lurch, but it is unlikely to change the long entrenched policies of “large university hospital at a public institution” (unless you are somehow the straw that broke the camels back).

      5. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Reading this, I think you made the better choice You told your manager you had Covid. Your manager said you need to work. You were unable to work. You only had the job a few months. Since the manager was so rigid, I think this could have gone in PIP or worse, job abandonment territory. And then you’d be fired.
        Bottom line, this job was not going to work out. You just ripped off the band aid.

        1. Colette*

          No, the manager said she could take unpaid leave. The thing with large institutions is that the decisions about things like leave are not made by individual managers.

          It would have been nice if the manager had said something like “Take the time you need to recover. I’ll warn you that you only have 2 days of leave accrued, so some of it may have to be unpaid, but we can work out the details with HR when you’re back.”

          But if she can’t authorize additional paid leave (which she almost certainly can’t), warning the OP that it might have to be unpaid was the right thing to do.

          1. Frankie*

            Yes, this. I dont get why people are ignoring that LW was offered the choice to take an unpaid leave. Isn’t that par for the course for most businesses? In my observation, it is only the exceptional companies that are offering COVID leave. LW’s company is clearly not among them but they sound, well, normal.

            1. Jenn*

              I think the point is that the LW hadn’t been there very long and this was their first interaction with their employer about leave. They could have taken unpaid leave and come back to a job, but they would run into the issue of terrible leave policies the very next time they were sick or had a family emergency or whatever else happens. It was about needing this specific time to get well, but it’s pretty clear that it was also a decision to cut losses at a job that wasn’t going to work out long term.

              1. Frankie*

                But they weren’t terrible? They were typical. The situation would have improved with time because LW would have accrued leaves then.

                1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

                  But the LW no longer wanted to work there, and “improved with time” doesn’t matter in this instance. Alison is right, there were many better ways this could have been handled by the company in the moment and if it’s a deal breaker for the OP, it’s a deal breaker. No one is obligated to accept treatment from employers that they find objectionable, and just because that objectionable treatment is “typical” doesn’t mean it’s okay or that the OP should just stay if they don’t have to.

                2. Colette*

                  @I WORKED on a Hellmouth – of course the LW can quit if she finds the conditions unacceptable – but they aren’t out of the norm, and it’s important for her to know that so that she can screen for different conditions in her next job.

                  I’m not actually sure they were unreasonable conditions – they were bad for the OP in this situation, but a new hire who gets sick with an illness that ranges from almost unnoticable to severe and asks for the rest of the week off without knowing how the illness was going to play out in her case isn’t in the best position. If she’d taken her two paid days and then requested more time, it might have played out differently.

                3. Been There Seen That*

                  Agreeing with Petty and Hellmouth. OP you did good for yourself. You saw a giant red flag (for you) and you bailed to take care of yourself.

                  Of course you would have been more eloquent…if you weren’t sick as a dog. Nothing like the hospital system – kick you when you are down and kick you again when you get back up.

                  OP take care of yourself, get well and I hope your next job is so much better!

                4. Librarian of SHIELD*

                  Typical and terrible aren’t opposites, though. The fact that this is typical *is* terrible. We’re entering a phase where employees in a lot of sectors are pushing back against these kinds of “typical” mistreatments, and I’m incredibly glad it’s happening, so I think OP’s choice here was a good one.

                5. Candi*

                  Reply to I WORKED on a Hellmouth:

                  I think part of the problem with the current world is putting up with negative/hurtful things because they’re “typical”, common, happen all the time, are part of the status quo, instead of speaking up and saying, “no, this is wrong.”

            2. Librarian of SHIELD*

              LW is allowed to take a moral stand for their own values, whether or not they’re values people in this comment section agree with. LW’s personal morality is that people who are sick should receive paid sick leave, particularly during a global pandemic where anyone could get sick at any time, and they chose not to continue working for an organization that doesn’t share their values. It doesn’t matter if that’s the decision random internet strangers would have made in that situation. They made the choice that was right for them and I think that’s a very good thing.

              1. Frankie*

                Of course. I guess terrible is a relative term and if OP thinks the workplace policy and the manager was terrible to warrant quitting, that is well within her right.
                She literally *did* ask for a judgment on how wrong she was, though, and that’s why people are voicing out dis/agreements. It won’t change anything but judgments are exactly what she asked for.

      6. hbc*

        “I was being instructed more sick leave wasn’t possible, yet I wasn’t able to do work. Rationally speaking, those two options weren’t congruent….”

        I don’t think they’re really in conflict. Anywhere you work, it is possible to be sick for longer than the amount of paid leave you have available to you. We can debate the ethics and merits of how much time should be offered at what point in your employment, and most employers have treated Covid as a special case for very good reasons, but having to take unpaid leave when you’re too sick to work is not that unusual.

        I dunno, I guess I would chalk this up to Big Inflexible System not being great for your personal situation this one time. (As someone who has worked in those and in Squishy Small Companies, there are advantages and disadvantages.) Our leave policies might be pretty screwed up in this country overall, but I don’t find it outrageous to…not get paid on days when you don’t do work and have exhausted the paid leave that was accrued exactly as promised. Not great, but not bad either.

          1. Rusty Shackelford*

            If you’re referring to this particular letter, the LW had a WFH job, so wouldn’t be in the position to infect anyone. But in general, yeah.

          2. hbc*

            They very well might have different options for people who will have patient contact. It sounds like they have rules about how soon you can come back to work after a Covid exposure or infection, and a lot of places distinguish between “we’re not letting you come to work” and “you’re allowed to work should you feel up to it.”

      7. PinaColada*

        Yeah, I hear you. That’s so frustrating. But no…I don’t think those were the only two options? You said they authorized you to have the Leave unpaid, which, although sucky, would still result in you having a job to return to while you looked for something new. (And potentially medical benefits for any long-Covid issues while you look for another job).

        So yeah, unless it was truly only about “the principle of the thing” and you don’t need the paycheck (which I suspect is unlikely based on your anger about it), then I do not think it was in your best interest to quit on-the-spot over this. But I’m sorry you were in this situation, it’s definitely gross!

        All that to say, did you end up quitting? Are you still there?

        1. COVID Rage LW*

          Any other option involving staying employed with them entailed doing work while I wasn’t able to, in order to figure out what my leave options were. After sending the positive test result to my boss and telling them I’ll be out sick the next few days, I basically spent the rest of the morning responding to emails and phone calls. I assumed even taking the unpaid leave would involve more administrative work.

          I needed to call the Employee Health department to tell the, I was sick, so I did. They needed to follow up with a call from a nurse. My supervisor kept asking exactly how many days I would need (since I only have two banked) while repeatedly bringing up the WFH Flex Time policies, and how how I could work when I’m up for it, or take unpaid leave, or otherwise I’ll need to see HR to figure out my options. After my two days were up I needed to check in with my boss again to tell them I still wasn’t able to work, resulting in even more unhelpful followup emails reiterating that I can use my flex hours (work while sick) or otherwise go to HR to figure out my next steps.

          There was no scenario in which my employed time off didn’t involve doing work while incapacitated. If I’m calling out sick, that means I am not able to work. Spending another day on carrying out administrative work on behalf of my employer wasn’t an option.

            1. ceiswyn*

              “I assumed even taking the unpaid leave would involve more administrative work.”

              Based on the description of the amount of administrative work they had to do WHILE SICK in order to take the sick leave they had accrued, I suspect they were probably right.

          1. PinaColada*

            Gotcha. Okay this makes more sense to me. I was reading it as you were really concerned about losing out on the pay, which is why I didn’t think it was a good choice to quit without something else lined up.

            Now I better understand the full score of the situation and it sounds like you were at your wits end with their poor process, which I can empathize with.

          2. Daisy-dog*

            I am curious as to if this work was needed *at that time*. When was the payroll deadline? Unless the payroll deadline was at the same time that all this was happening, then you might have been able to wait a few days to sort out the options with HR. Your manager should have done that of course, but regardless it isn’t always something that needs to be handled immediately. And even if you were paid a smaller paycheck, that could be corrected on a future paycheck.

          3. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

            That’s an utterly excessive spiral of bureaucracy to then be told that you get to do it again but to not get paid in round 2. That you didn’t go the Caps Lock email method is an impressive show of restraint.

          4. Green great dragon*

            Ah, I understand better now. I do wonder what would have happened if you’d just said ‘OK’ to the unpaid leave and then not done any admin followup until you were back at work – maybe just texted boss to say ‘still not well’ and then disengaged. But as we said to your co-letter-writer – if leaving is the right thing for you, then you get to leave.

          5. Dasein9*


            The part people are just not taking into consideration in these replies is that LW was sick.

            With Covid-19.

            With an illness that exhausts one and makes one unable to think clearly.

            The employer’s expectation that Covid Rage LW undertake all these administrative tasks while ill with Covid-19 was unreasonable.

            Covid Rage LW, I hope you are in a position that made this not financially devastating and that you’re recovering well.

          6. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            To summarise, hope I got this right, your employer was saying you couldn’t be off sick without doing a load of work from home. Work you weren’t able to do because,y’know, you were sick!

            You’re well out of there mate.

          7. CoffeePlease*

            This is a terrible employer, even if it’s typical of the industry. I think quitting was a very reasonable action. It’s on the activist side, but I don’t see it as irrational.

      8. Frankie*

        I’m lucky my workplace offers automatic 14 day leave for covid cases, but if a patient takes more than 14 days to recover, he will need to use his accrued sick leave or leave without pay.

        Ideally, all employers would offer a COVID leave but your company’s policy doesn’t sound egregious to me. Employees can take a few days of leave without pay and then work from home when you can. It’s not ideal and certainly uncharitable for a healthcare institution but it sounds fair enough to me.

      9. KatieP*

        It’s a tricky situation, as someone who works for a large, public higher-ed institution. Our leave accruals aren’t set by the institution, they’re set at the state government level, and nothing is likely to change until the voters force a change in the state government.
        OTOH, my husband works for a company that put a full year of PTO in his account on the day he was hired. A company with that type of leave policy may be a better fit for you.

      10. MCMonkeyBean*

        Dang, you already had it *and* are vaccinated and still got it again!? That is so unlucky. I think most of us would maybe not be at our most logical and/or emotional best in that situation so assuming that quitting this job didn’t put you in a bad spot financially then this random internet stranger is fully on board with your decision if that counts for anything. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you find a job with better policies!

        1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Agreed. To have your body pummelled by Covid twice is enough to make anyone feel exhausted beyond belief. And expecting someone to work through it…is daft.

          I hope they get better soon and find a much better job at a place that takes this seriously.

      11. une autre Cassandra*

        Honestly, if it’s not a major hardship for you to be suddenly out of work, then I’m glad you did this. I think any employer that isn’t bending over backwards to be safe and accommodating during COVID needs to really feel the consequences of being subpar in this area. I hope they learn something and institute an official policy of more flexibility during the pandemic.

    4. Sangamo Girl*

      I think LW #1 gets a fair bit of extra grace for COVID. If I was in that situation, I would be sick AND so deep an anxiety spiral about being sick with COVID, I’m sure I would say and do things that were completely out of character. Good luck with everything LW#1, you are in my thoughts.

    5. PT*

      People who are feeling sick, are not always perfectly rational, either.

      It is often hard to be rational when you feel really crappy. So companies that have policies that treat sick employees like garbage are very likely to get overreactions in the first place, because they’re expecting someone to stay calm under fire when they’re already frayed from illness. (And there is documented evidence that COVID causes neurological, cognitive, and mood changes. It may be uniquely hard to stay calm when ill with COVID, depending on where it’s settled in your system.)

  8. KayEss*

    OP#1, I’m very sorry for your sucky situation… but also very pleased that your letter let me re-live cheap-ass rolls. What a legend.

    1. Marion Ravenwood*

      I had never read the origin of the cheap ass rolls before. That was a fun way to spend my Friday lunch break!

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Just came in here to say the same thing. Thank you, LW1. May your rolls all be Hawaiian.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        I had never read Cheap Ass Rolls, and I had to take a moment and stare at the screen for a few minutes.

        I never knew people got so heated about rolls.

  9. Qwetry*

    I don’t think LW1 could have gotten COVID from her employment if, as she says, she works entirely from home.

      1. Hapax Legomenon*

        Alison’s reply originally had a parenthetical noting that the LW could have caught Covid at their workplace. That would make a refusal to work with LW on sick leave an even worse position to for them to take. However, unless LW meant the job CAN BE fully work-from-home rather than IS fully work-from-home(and therefore she was coming to work before), that wouldn’t be the case in this situation.

  10. Edwina*

    For some reason I had NEVER SEEN Cheap-Ass Rolls, and was delighted to take the journey, especially with the long sidebar about beignets. Definitely memorable!!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      At this point, King’s Hawaiian may as well start advertising with Alison! I bet I’m not the only reader to try them because of this. (I eat them for desert tbh!)

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Weekend free for all: products we’ve discovered thru AAM followed by: Hanukkah balls, cheap ass rolls and guacamole Bob: terms phrases we never knew we needed until AAM.

          1. EvilQueenRegina*

            Chocolate teapots is actually a common enough expression in the UK, as in “So and so is about as much use as a chocolate teapot!”, so I knew that one before, but I’ll add llama groomers and “I will confront you by Wednesday of next week”.

            1. Xenia*

              I’m hoping that “inform you of my intention to flounce” gets added from this week’s letter about the employee who filed his intention to quit.

    2. I edit everything*

      I wonder what happened with that letter writer. I hope they found some peace and a lower stress way to move through life.

      1. Doug Judy*

        Yes. I’m sure we’ll never get an update of what happened. But they’ll live forever in AAM Lore. I’d like to think they eventually went to work for King’s Hawaiian so they’d never encounter the trauma of cheap ass rolls again.

    3. Marion Ravenwood*

      I hadn’t either and it was a very enjoyable way to spend my lunch break.

      I am also now searching for bakeries in London that do beignets, because I really want to try some and for obvious reasons won’t be going to New Orleans any time soon unfortunately.

    4. Been There Seen That*

      I vaguely remember cheap ass rolls, but distinctly remember the beignets discussion. So much so, that I purchased them at the first opportunity.

    5. Epsilon Delta*

      I had to google Hawaiian rolls. I was picturing like, I don’t know, a sushi-style roll featuring pineapple and other tropical fruits, and then coworker bringing like ham and pickle rolls or something. Then I look it up and realize it was a blow up about store bought dinner rolls! Whole extra layer for me.

      Thank you OP for asking for a rating on a scale of 1 to Cheap Ass Rolls, and no, you are nowhere near Cheap Ass Rolls level!

      1. Splendid Colors*

        I made fruit sushi for a potluck where the theme was “food that isn’t what it looks like.”

        I cooked sushi rice and stirred in sweetened coconut milk after cooking (instead of sweet/salty rice vinegar). It could be handled like sushi rice but tasted like coconut rice dessert.

        For “fish” I thinly sliced ripe red papaya.

        For “wasabi” I flavored/tinted some cream cheese frosting with pandan extract and green/yellow food coloring.

        I assembled bite-size sushi that looked very convincing on a buffet table–but they were little dessert bites. They were a big hit! It was definitely a cousin of mango with coconut rice.

  11. Drizzle Cake*

    #1 I think there’s been some focus on the excitement of doing a rage-quit and you’re therefore not getting the best advice here. Does your employer suck? Yes. Was it wise to say you were angry? Nope. You’re talking as if anger is an obvious reaction (‘needless to say, I was mad’) but, well, you can be right or you can negotiate at work when you need to.

    1. misspiggy*

      LW’s point was that she was sick, so couldn’t talk to HR. The manager refusing to go to bat for her was a very bad sign in that regard.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Adding we don’t know what else has gone on. If I find myself- really angry/upset, I know that I stayed at the job too long and let too much crap slide, hence the build up in emotions. It could very well be that OP tied a knot in the end of the rope a while ago, and this situation broke the knot.

      2. Humble Schoolmarm*

        I think we also have to keep in mind that OP was actively sick with Covid when this all happened. Maybe this is a me thing and not universal, but when I’m sick (even common cold sick) I have no bandwidth for the kind of strategic thinking (what argument is most likely to be convincing and how can I phrase it?) that OP would need. I’m not sure we should judge the wisdom of her actions without considering this.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          I’m definitely looking at it through my own personal Covid lens – the mental fog was about the only symptom I actually had while I was ill with it. Think “wait…1+1=2? Really? You sure? I can’t quite…”.

          LW #1 – that place is full of bees. I hope you’re recovering well.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          *raises hand*

          Cancer. (Now in remission.) No bandwidth. Completely get this.

          Some people can afford to quit with nothing lined up. Pissing people off with your inflexible policy so that they instantly quit is a risk.

      3. hbc*

        I think the manager would be going out on a pretty big limb here by going to bat for OP. This is a big org and we aren’t in the beginning of the pandemic where everyone was flailing and trying to figure out new policy. So he’d be asking for his bosses to give preferential treatment to an employee with two whole months on the job.

        1. anonymous73*

          It’s not preferential treatment though. Managers and companies need to stop being stuck on “the rules” and be human. COVID affects different people in different ways but one of the symptoms is utter and complete exhaustion. I don’t care if OP had been there 2 months or 2 years, unless she had given them reason to believe she was faking it, it was up to the manager to try and work something out with her and not be so damn rigid.

          1. Frankie*

            Ideally, yes, but my experience in government says otherwise. The manager doesn’t make the rules. Nor does he have any influence on it.
            Rules in the government surrounding compensation packages including leave benefits are very rigid.

          2. Puzzler*

            They weren’t super rigid though? They told her what the policy was and said she could take unpaid leave.

            1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

              Yeah and then she was supposed to be on the phone and filling out paperwork for a good part of the day, two days after having done the same for her paid sick leave, all of it while being sick with Covid.

              I had friends who’ve had it about as bad as OP’s description sounds (not bad enough to be in the hospital, but not able to really get out of bed at home). Some had low oxygen and were literally unable to think straight. Paperwork and meetings with HR would’ve been out of the question.

              And no, this has not been the policy anywhere I’ve worked. The most strict requirement I’ve seen for taking sick time was, you had to roll out of bed for long enough to log into the system and add a sick day request. Most places, you’d just call or message your boss, then go back to being sick.

            2. Yorick*

              Unpaid leave or flex time, so she could take off the time and then make it up after! OP didn’t want to deal with administrative stuff while sick, but I think it’s pretty reasonable for a manager to want to know how long you think you’ll be out. So OP could have said, “I’m gonna plan to take off at least the rest of this week (or whatever), and after using my 2 sick days I’ll take the rest unpaid. But if I feel better early, I’ll get in touch with you about coming back early.” That seems perfectly reasonable and not like too much administrative work to do while sick.

              1. COVID Rage LW*

                Different kind of flex time. It was emphasized our flex time was intended for short intervals (e.g. taking an hour for a mid-day appointment and working longer the next day). I actually offered to make up the hours in my first email, but they clarified the limitations of flex time. And how I could still work while sick using Flex Time (because Flex Time allows me work at any hour of the day!).

                1. MCMonkeyBean*

                  OH MY GOSH that is so much worse even than it sounded in your letter. Just to be clear–you’re saying that they were not indicating you could work more like in the next couple of weeks, but rather that you could do something like work at 7pm tomorrow if you were feeling too ill at 3pm today?? Am I reading that right???

            3. MCMonkeyBean*

              Sticking to that policy during a global pandemic *is* super rigid. And is a good way to make sure you have people showing up to work sick with covid and spreading it to others, so it’s also short-sighed and frankly very stupid.

              At my job, I was encouraged to go into negative PTO my first year for no reason other than they wanted to make sure I got a good vacation in at the end of the year before our busy season started in January and I hadn’t accrued very much yet since I started in June.

              It would not cost them anything to find some flexibility with employees who are sick right now. And expecting people who are sick to spend their “time off” dealing with emails and HR to try to figure out how to get more time off is highly unreasonable.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Exjob would let you go 40 hours negative into PTO (paid) but after that, it was unpaid, and you had to re-accrue those hours. I thought it was pretty generous, at least compared to what I was used to. Obviously, I don’t know what they did for COVID, but quite a few people there worked from home anyway. They already had a policy that if you had a fever they did not want you coming in.

                Everything in your last paragraph–spot on.

            4. anonymous73*

              Being unwilling to work with someone is being rigid. They basically said “here are the rules and we can’t break them.”

            5. Splendid Colors*

              The manager could’ve taken charge of all the HR paperwork, though, so OP didn’t need to try to do that with COVID brain fog and exhaustion. My impression was that the manager’s “well, YOU need to work this out with HR right now, while you’re sick” was the cherry on the “why can’t I get paid leave” sundae.

          3. hbc*

            If you’re getting an exception to the policy, it’s preferential treatment.

            I mean, I suppose they might have a written policy that allows “you can take more than your available paid leave if a manager appeals on your behalf,” but essentially you’re declaring that this is a special exception worth making. I’ve been the person speaking up for a salary advance for the employee who then doesn’t work the full work week–it can eat up your political capital.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              It shouldn’t be preferential treatment because they should be offering exceptions to everyone. That’s the whole point. Their policy sucks and it needs to change.

            2. anonymous73*

              It’s only preferential treatment, if you’re the only one having an exception made for you and they are unwilling to treat everyone else in the same way if they’re ever in a similar situation.

            3. tamarack and fireweed*

              It shouldn’t be an exception to the policy. If the policy says that someone who has just called in sick is expected to spend time and effort sorting through bureaucracy to figure out the exact modalities for taking the exact right kind of leave, that’s a bad policy. It should not apply to anyone.

              And a manager going to bat for an employee about bureaucratic nonsense and overly restrictive leave policies isn’t some sort of optional extra. It’s literally part of what I consider core responsibilities of the manager. This manager didn’t do that. The LW could afford to quit over it. Hopefully, the manager will get into trouble for it, as it would have almost certainly be vastly cheaper for the employer to work with the employee rather than having to rehire for the position.

      4. Benny*

        Yeah, like, what if the LW was in a traffic accident and was unconscious or something that really made them unable to go to HR – they would dock their pay for weeks to recover? It sounds like, yes? That is truly horrendous. I thought short term disability insurance cover this kind of thing, but then looked it up, it’s only mandatory in California, New York and a couple of other places. This is really terrible.

        1. Candi*

          Thing is, when I look back on many of the bad workplace stories on here, of those that mentioning getting and using sick leave…

          We’ve had bad bosses call and yell.

          We had that one guy that came and banged on OP’s trailer, leaving dents.

          We’ve had bosses who checked on social media and asked friends/family/coworkers if the OPs were “really” sick.

          We’ve had ones who’ve demanded that OPs come in when they were too sick to speak.

          We have ones where people could only call in, and only during restricted hours.

          But I can’t remember a single one where a person had to deal with multiple days of paperwork or bureaucracy while they were sick in order to get paid for a sudden-onset illness with a usually-definable end. And that was when there wasn’t a pandemic.

          The closest were stories were bosses who said OPs wouldn’t get paid while they were sick, but they could fill out the paperwork to argue the point and possibly get the time paid when they got back. Not fun, but the option was there. And again, there wasn’t a pandemic going on.

          (Now, wanting the OPs to work while sick at home -happens far too often. But those are usually presented as demands, not “happy happy joy joy you can still get your work done!” which is the impression I’m getting from LW #1’s comments.)

    2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      I agree with rage quit is bad. I see OP quitting as less rage quit, more, “I cannot work because I’m sick. My boss wants me to work. This probably won’t end well for me, so I’ll end it now.”

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I agree. It’s a logical no-bandwidth move. Pile on when someone can’t take any more, and they will quit.

      2. EPLawyer*

        But the boss wasn’t actually asking them to work. to avoid unpaid leave they said they could work when they felt like it. OP rejected that. Then boss said well you need to talk to HR, which is probably the policy. OP decided that was work too and wasn’t going to do it. Except that is not work. It’s probably one phone call.

        When my sister died suddenly (not Covid) at the end of August, the morning we were getting on a plane to go be with family, I was doing his paperwork for bereavement leave. He was willing to take the time to support me unpaid but his normally sucky company was all No, family is important fill out this paper so you can be paid. My bandwith was pretty damn limited ( negotiating the airport was not pretty in my state of mind), but I still mustered the ability to do it.

        Also the talk with HR could have occurred AFTER she felt better. To suddenly quit because you had to make one more phone call was a bit of an over the top reaction. Not cheap ass rolls over reaction but definitely heading there.

        1. Brooks Brothers Stan*

          I am really happy you have decided because in your own personal situation that you had the bandwidth to do something that means everyone in every situation ever has the bandwidth to do things.

        2. COVID Rage LW*

          OP decided that was work too and wasn’t going to do it. Except that is not work. It’s probably one phone call.

          Calling out sick the first time (for the two days of leave I actually had) was an entire process that took several hours of back and forth, multiple emails to several different department heads and phone calls to Employee Health. It was an entire morning of administrative work. While also getting “Your health is the most important thing!” and “Let me know if you need anything from me!” from the same people suggesting I just work through the covid. Also the odd email from a team lead wondering why I skipped our weekly meeting because no one actually passed along the message that I would be out.

          1. Broadway Duchess*

            I kind of understand this. It’s not always a one phone call thing. I work in healthcare (admin), had been working from home 90% prior to COVID closures and when I got it in July 2020, just reporting it was a whole thing. I spoke to my director, great. Then I needed to change my online daily symptom list, okay, fine. Then I needed a coaching call with a nurse, which turned out to be DAILY. And I was going to have to use PTO for it! Because of the PTO thing, I decided to work from home most of that time and it was brutal. I turned out to be a long-hauler and trying to get support for that is non-existent. I understand how being sick and facing that type of work results in a “screw it, I’m out” result.

            1. COVID Rage LW*

              I turned out to be a long-hauler and trying to get support for that is non-existent.

              I’m sorry to hear you’re having to navigate this with an unsupportive workplace. I hope we get this complication cured – it affects so many people!

              Getting long covid or other complications is one of my biggest fears right now. I was already using up all of my leave (and thensome) on covid, and because it’s a breakthrough case my supervisor (an MD) didn’t seem convinced that I needed the time off, stating that these cases are usually mild. My coming down with covid was a hard sell to them, despite it being a thoroughly researched illness with unambiguous lab tests.

              So what will be waiting for me at work if I develop any complications from this unnecessarily stressful covid episode? I’d be going back to work with a zero leave balance and a newly minted, much less well understood chronic disability – how well would that go over with my demoralizingly skeptical supervisor? And with the PTO accrual rate, it will be Christmas before I have another two days of PTO, so navigating employer policies to gett actual care for complications would be its own separate job.

        3. Joielle*

          Yeah – I really sympathize with having to deal with bureaucracy while sick, but in my experience, you just have to let people know what’s going on with you and deal with the formalities later. I just recently helped my husband start FMLA while he was completely incapable of working and I took care of a lot of things that he couldn’t do. But if I wasn’t there, he could have sent an email to his boss, CCed HR, and said “At my doctor’s instruction, I am out sick for at least one week. I am physically unable to respond to emails or phone calls in that time. I will follow up with you on [DATE]. I apologize for the inconvenience.” The OP could have added something like “I plan to take unpaid leave for any time beyond my allotted sick days.”

          You have to deal with the paperwork once you get back, but they can’t force you to pick up the phone while you’re too sick to do it. I guess if the OP is concerned that their boss is SO over the top awful that they would have been fired for that, then sure, quit. But I think the boss was honestly doing their best and didn’t know what to offer aside from “if you need something other than the standard policy, talk to HR.”

          1. Librarian of SHIELD*

            The OP has mentioned in multiple comments that their employer wasn’t going to allow them to take care of the administrative paperwork later, it was something HR expected them to be handling right then, as they were sick and should have been resting.

          2. FridayFriyay*

            Surely you can recognize that your own experience is not universal? The LW has explained in multiple comments the amount of administrative work they were asked to do at the time they called out.

            1. Joielle*

              Yeah, I’m just saying, the employer is not going to come to the LW’s house and hold the phone up to their head and force them to make the call. They can be *asked* to do administrative work, but not *forced* to do administrative work. I think it’s really really unlikely that they would be fired for not handling it perfectly.

              And even in that absolute worst case scenario, they would be fired and have no income or health insurance. And the LW quit, so they ensured that they have no income or health insurance. I don’t really see how that’s better.

              I can only assume the LW doesn’t need to work for money – in which case, go ahead and stick it to them! But it’s sort of a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face situation.

        1. Splendid Colors*

          She considered “do adminstrative red tape with HR while sick” equivalent to working. It may not be “productive” or get her job tasks done, but it definitely needs the same level of brainpower.

      3. Pharmgirl*

        They weren’t actually making her work though – just saying that she didn’t have more than 2 days of leave and would need to take additional time unpaid. Which sucks, I get it. But she still would have had medical benefits and a job to come back to. As Alison mentioned she could have talked to Hr when she returned and who knows, they may have worked something out. The manager should have definitely talked to Hr on her behalf, but since they weren’t looped in at all, I think it was worth talking to them before quitting.

  12. Akcipitrokulo*

    LW1 – You are right they shouls accomodate covid cases better… but sounds like that is what manager was trying to do? That they don’t have authority to go against policy, so suggested HR?

    It may have been wiser to hear HR out. They may have been willing to make an exception for you. And you could still have quit if theydidn’t.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      I’m wondering if their institution might have a policy that managers can’t go to HR on behalf of an employee out of a desire to protect the employees. Obviously if you feel like crap that’s not ideal but in this case it’s an employee who’s well enough to tell her manager to take the job and shove it, and not an employee intubated/etc.

      The assumption that being told that your options are currently WFH while sick, unpaid leave, or see if HR can help, will automatically mean that any future sick leave taking is a bureaucratic nightmare is… a lot.

      1. Benny*

        I posted above too because I really want to understand – if you’re unconscious in hospital and can’t go to HR, what happens? If you don’t have sick leave you just… Don’t get paid, and go broke? My state mandates disability insurance, but if you don’t have that, what on earth do people do? Surely that can’t be right?

        1. pancakes*

          On a study that came out last year:

          “. . . medical debt and housing instability often go hand in hand. In a new University of Washington study of people experiencing homelessness in King County, unpaid medical bills were their primary source of debt, and that debt extended their period of homelessness by an average of two years.

          ‘So many people have lost their jobs, and then they lose their health insurance. They may not be able to pay even small medical bills or co-pays and still have rent or mortgage payments. If they get sick with coronavirus, or some other medical condition, this can be the perfect storm that puts people out on the street and increases the time they spend there,’ said Jessica Bielenberg, who conducted the study for her master’s thesis from the UW School of Public Health.

          The study was published June 8 [2020] in the journal Inquiry: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing.”

    2. Colette*

      And the OP could have taken the time off that she needed and then talked with HR to figure it out in retrospect.

      (I’m also questioning why she immediately needed the rest of the week off. Yes, she was sick, but a lot of times you don’t know how you’re going to feel the next day, let alone 2+ days. It’s possible she could have taken the 2 days she had and then reevaluated whether working part of the time made sense.)

      1. logicbutton*

        That can be true, but I’d trust LW to know what they needed. With this deadly pandemic disease where a “mild case” is only defined as one that doesn’t require hospitalization and many people with “mild cases” describe it as the sickest they’ve ever been in their life, it wouldn’t surprise me if they were very confident that two days wouldn’t be enough.

      2. ceiswyn*

        I’ve never had Covid, but I’ve had the ‘flu a lot. When I’m unable to get out of bed and mildly hallucinating, I may not be sick enough to need medical care but I sure as heck know I’m not going to be working again in two days.

        And I would DEFINITELY not be up to doing a bunch of paperwork and negotiating with HR, so if anyone expected me to that would be a quit-worthy red flag.

  13. Candi*

    Okay, my first reaction was, “Wait, an “is it legal?” question where it is illegal?” But then, back when I first found AAM, there were a lot of “is it legal?” where the answer was “it’s sucky, unethical, likely immoral, but it’s legal.”

    I’m wondering if #3 should talk to their manager about this, particularly if this coworker already has a habit of overstepping. Even aside from the unethical behavior of canceling OP’s booking -and did she imply, however unintentionally, to the admin team she’d already talked to OP?- and rebooking OP at a place where coworker’s friends with one of the workers.

    As for #2, OP, please see Alison’s reply and comments to “update: my boss tapes people’s mouths shut during meetings”. You put in your notice and that’s it. They can’t make you stay.

    (And for initial horror, see “https://www.askamanager.org/2020/02/my-boss-tapes-peoples-mouths-shut-during-meetings.html”)

    1. Chidi-Janet & The Tarantula Squids*

      I don’t live in the US and we have a similar setup. I accrue 10 days sick/personal/carers leave per year, counted from my first day on the job, and it rolls over each year. (Separate balance to my 20 days annual leave accrual).
      If I were to get sick a month after commencing with my employer, I’d only have a day or so of sick leave and a couple of days annual leave accrued to use.
      Hopefully my employer would be willing to work out a solution if I got the ‘flu or something, but I’m much better off having worked for the company for more than 2 years.

      1. Chidi-Janet & The Tarantula Squids*

        Sorry Alison, just saw you removed the initial comment. Feel free to remove mine as well.

    2. Phony Genius*

      Alison, this happens often enough that I’m surprised you haven’t added it to the commenting rules.

  14. Green great dragon*

    #2 yes, you can quit. Or you can stay on the books and only pick up the jobs you want. You can only check for jobs on the days you want to work, and not even look at it on other days. It’s up to you!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And OP can take a different temp job whether or not they like it. (When I temped, I signed up with 2 agencies. They both knew it.)

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        I am curious about OP’s statement: I can’t sign up with other agencies.
        Did you sign a non compete contract? If so, doubt it is binding, it’s a temp agency. You can register with every temp agency.
        They can’t keep you from working.

    2. Julia*

      “It’s up to you” is a really important message for you, LW 2. Not least because I think anyone thinks “they didn’t accept my resignation so I can’t quit, I’m being forced to work here” has some serious misapprehensions about the nature of their relationship with their employer. Your employer isn’t king of your life. Quitting is one of those things you get to do without any negotiation. It’s unusual to react the way you did, so I’d look at whether there are other situations (at work or otherwise) where you believe you don’t have the power to change your own situation and have to await approval from others.

      1. I wish I were Tiffany Aching's friend*

        I’m currently in a contract where one of the other contractors wasn’t doing well with the work and they eventually ended the contract early and are now doing something more suited to their skill-set. But they kept saying “I tried to quit and they wouldn’t let me” and “I quit like 4 times and they wouldn’t let me”. (I think what happened is that they said something like “this isn’t working and I’d like to just end the contract early” and then they got talked into staying on BUT they kept talking like they had said the words “I quit” and were told “nope, not allowed”.) So I kept telling them they get to quit, free country, even with no notice, yes they might burn a bridge with that agency but there’s zillions of agencies and honestly? I don’t know if they ever believed me. And I hope our project manager learned the lesson of “a missing person is less bad than a person who does crappy work either thru bad attitude or lack of skills” but I don’t know about that either.

  15. Teapotcleaner*

    Dear letter writer one, I sympathize with you recovering at home is no joke. I have tested positive for breakthrough COVID-19 this week also. I will be paid through COVID-19 sick leave that’s in place until the 30th of this month. I can’t believe your employer requires you to work through it. The diagnosis itself took a toll on my mental health and after that I slept hardcore while fighting off the symptoms. Aside from that I have recently learned that my boss told my team leads I have covid and word has most likely got around. If you can afford to leave the job then best of luck. Maybe there can be a state disability program to reimburse you for being ill.

  16. Office know it all*

    #2 – friendly reminder that you could quit just because they changed the coffee brand in the break room! You can quit over anything. All that happened is you said you were quitting because X, Y, Z and they tried to retain you by offering A, B, C. And honestly, good on them! But, no, you don’t have to stay just because they offered accommodations.

    #3 – talk to the admin first requesting that they change it back ASAP and explain that they should not change your travel plans without your approval. Then notify your manager that your coworker is unethically funneling reservations to their friends, if this is a city your company travels to often. They seem super sketchy and manipulative since they tried to frame it as doing you a favor. If it’s a one time trip, I’d skip that last step and just put your coworker on notice that they need to stay in their lane and leave your travel arrangements to you.

    1. Observer*

      Then notify your manager that your coworker is unethically funneling reservations to their friends, if this is a city your company travels to often. They seem super sketchy and manipulative since they tried to frame it as doing you a favor. If it’s a one time trip, I’d skip that last step

      I think it’s necessary to let someone know anyway. Because this is likely to be the tip of an iceberg. There are a number of things wrong with what the coworker did, and all of them are things that an employer needs to be very concerned about, and most of which the OP needs to be concerned about.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Definitely, if not just for the sheer gall, but also for procurement/conflict of interest rules other commenters have mentioned.

      2. Kyrielle*

        Even if it’s *not* the tip of the iceberg, if this happened to me and I was aware that the company was owned by their friend, *I* would be in violation of the ethics rules if I didn’t report them. The company will figure out / decide whether it’s a bigger situation, and how to handle it. (MAYBE if this is the first incident they’re aware of, and an investigation didn’t turn up any other altered reservations, it MIGHT just be a “don’t ever do this again” to the co-worker along with close monitoring, and updated instructions to whatever admins let this happen. Maybe.)

        But nope nope nope, I have a lot of people I work with that I like quite a bit, but I have never worked with anyone that I would “cover for” by letting this drop quietly – that’s my career and standing on the line too, as well as the company’s money and image.

        1. Observer*

          Agreed. Those rules are in place because you have no real way to know if it is or is not the tip of an iceberg. If it’s not, hopefully the investigation will pick that up. But (very faint) possibility that it’s just a true one off is not something that anyone should be expected to take the risk of not reporting.

  17. Myrin*

    #3, I fully agree with Alison’s WTF reaction but I actually don’t quite agree with the actual advice!

    It seems much more prudent to me to contact the administrative folks first, not only because they’re apparently in charge of bookings and probably have no horse in this race so are unlikely to try and convince you to stay with the new hotel after all, but also to give them a piece of your mind because honestly, what?!

    Like, why do they think it’s okay for someone to change reservations on behalf of someone else? They really shouldn’t be doing that! Even if your coworker said she had talked to you and for whatever reason you couldn’t request the change yourself, the admins really should be checking back with you first before changing anything! I’m so aghast by this, honestly.

    Obviously you can take different routes here – being bewildered (because who wouldn’t be!) or being annoyed and stern (again, who wouldn’t be!) or a combination of both, depending on what fits your personality and your relationship with these people best. But I really think it needs to be made crystal clear that this is Not Okay.

    The reason I’m suggesting this course of action is because 1. you probably can’t trust someone who specifically goes out of her way to change an already existing plan into something that suits her better to actually do what you’ve asked of her but more importantly 2. asking her to change the reservation makes it seem like she somehow has a legitimate claim over this transaction when in fact, it has nothing to do with her at all and she really shouldn’t have been involved in the first place so it doesn’t seem right to me to then involve her even more.

    But yes, OP, absolutely do talk to your coworker! Again, you can be bewildered or angry or both. I’d personally also want to know what on earth she’s been thinking but even if you don’t care, I feel like it’s important to make it very clear to her that she hugely overstepped for no apparent reason and that you won’t accept it.

    Geez, I don’t know why but as you can probably tell, this letter really grinds my gears. I’m angry just thinking about it!

    1. Trillian*

      I’m with you, both on the suggestion to cut out the coworker and go directly to admin and the reaction to her action. Other people arranging my affairs to suit themselves is a definite Hot Button for me. Going directly to admin should put you back in the driver’s seat. They can contact the other hotel and cancel the booking. And they can put a note in your file if they need to that you need to be checked with before any changes are made.

      1. Trillian*

        Sorry, pre coffee. I have two “yous” in that paragraph, commentator and OF. Should not comment before brain completes booting.

      2. Momma Bear*

        I would also start with the Admins who changed it without talking to the OP. I would no longer feel like I could trust the Admins not to go behind my back and change things about my future accommodations or travel plans and that can get reallllly problematic quickly. Depending on their response I might not go all hellfire on them, but I’d definitely want them to understand my position and not do it again.

        I would then also be clear with the coworker that you chose the hotel you did for good reason, you do not appreciate it being changed, you are actively working to correct it and you do not want coworker to handle your reservations in the future. If this is part of coworker’s job for some reason and they balk at being told this wasn’t acceptable, I’d loop in their boss, frankly. What if it was a flight that was chosen because of the departure location or time? Or what if the hotel was chosen because there’s a convenient shuttle? I’d be really ticked at everyone involved in changing it.

    2. EventPlannerGal*

      Personally I wouldn’t start with giving the admins “a piece of my mind” – bewildered, sure, OP should definitely ask how this happened, but OP doesn’t know what her colleague said to them to get them to change the booking. She could have lied to them, pressured them, who knows. From experience it really really really sucks to be stuck in the middle of a conflict like this, and ultimately the person at fault is the colleague who got them to change the booking – I would start there rather than taking out their annoyance on the admins.

      1. OMG!*

        Agreed. Try to start by giving them the benefit of the doubt. They will probably be booking for OP in the future, so giving them a chance to explain, and then staying stern but professional is the way to go with them. Now with the coworker in the other city? Well, you still have to be professional, but after everything is changed back, they’d definitely know how I felt about the situation.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        Yeah – be matter of fact or bewildered either the admins – it’s not fair to drag them into the middle of your squabble with coworker in the other city.
        Also, check politely and see if they can give you a copy of the travel policy – could be there are changes (just enacted or coming) that you aren’t aware of but they know all about. Spouse found out about a hotel brand loosing accepted status with old company this way.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          I agree with being matter of fact in dealing with them–but it would not be dragging them into anything. They put themselves square in the middle of it when they agreed to change OP’s reservation!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Yeah, often admins have to do as they’re told and the lines on who gets to do that can be blurry. I’m thinking in this case the coworker probably served them a platter of bullshit as well.

            2. MCMonkeyBean*

              I don’t know what? The fact that they changed the reservation is… a fact. Whatever happened, they are already involved. Therefore OP would not be making them involved.

              1. Observer*

                No. Depending on what they were told and what the normal process is, they could really be peripheral players. Obviously, they need to be told that what CW was not correct, but they are not necessarily the people who need to be primarily addressed.

                1. ceiswyn*

                  ‘What they were told’ is irrelevant, though. The fact that people lie is why they shouldn’t be changing one person’s items on another person’s say-so – whatever they said to make it happen!

                  The reason not to go in guns blazing is because it’s counterproductive, not because it’s unreasonable.

                  (The only way in which the admins’ actions could be valid is if they were asked to change OP’s reservation by a senior person who actually had that power. But telling an equal-to-junior colleague what it was and then changing it at their asking without checking with OP or maybe their manager is something that should literally never happen. Changing someone else’s stuff should not be a reward for coming up with a good lie.)

          1. Mina, The Company Prom Queen*

            I agree with this. OP wouldn’t be dragging them into anything. The busybody coworker already did that and they already changed OP’s reservation without checking with OP first.

      3. radfordblue*

        I can see how it would suck to be in this situation as the admin, but I can’t see any way that it would be valid to change someone’s travel plans without consulting them first. Yes, the colleague was overstepping and might have been very insistent or even bullying, but the admin’s next step should be checking with OP, period. Being stern and annoyed with the admin is perfectly valid here, since they objectively failed to do their job correctly and need to know to do better in the future.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          As I said, we don’t know what exactly this coworker said to the admins to get them to change the booking. There is literally nothing to be lost by opening with a level-headed “why did you guys change my booking without checking with me first?”, and who knows what the answer might be. Honestly, I think the desire to vent annoyance on administrative staff before going to the person who actually instructed them is an ugly trait in any situation.

          1. ceiswyn*

            Things that should not be the admins’ responsibility: deciding whether a colleague’s lie is good enough to let them access someone else’s stuff.

      4. Observer*

        Personally I wouldn’t start with giving the admins “a piece of my mind” – bewildered, sure, OP should definitely ask how this happened, but OP doesn’t know what her colleague said to them to get them to change the booking.

        Yes. Do NOT start with a piece of your mind – you are not going to get anywhere fast. Start with a straight up question about how and why this happened. Given that you don’t know what actually happened, what they were told, and what normal (even if unwritten) procedures are, they could really not be at fault.

        Once you have that information, you can calibrate your response. But, if nothing else, keep in mind that these people can make your life VERY miserable while staying within the rules, or make your life MUCH easier. And if you start by blasting them, you are far more likely to get the former than the latter.

        1. EventPlannerGal*

          Well, it’s not really about living in fear of some sort of administrative vengeance, it’s about having respect for your colleagues and interacting with them in a professional manner. I don’t think “giving them a piece of your mind” is something that belongs in a professional interaction between working adults, and certainly not over a hotel reservation. But yes, absolutely, just ask the question! It’s so easy!

          1. Observer*

            it’s about having respect for your colleagues and interacting with them in a professional manner. I don’t think “giving them a piece of your mind” is something that belongs in a professional interaction between working adults,

            I agree. My point is that even if someone simply can’t see that (perhaps because they are so infuriated), they should remember that treating people reasonably also often pays direct dividends.

      5. Myrin*

        Okay, apparently “giving someone a piece of one’s mind” has a more aggressive connotation than what I meant to convey – I’m not a native English speaker and honestly didn’t think too carefully about which exact idiom to use here. I stand by the rest of my comment, though.

        1. Analytical Tree Hugger*

          Ah, that makes sense!

          Yes, at least in U.S. English, that phrase comes with a strong sense of scolding and reprimand (maybe even a bit of outrage and indigination).

          Language…so many nuances, so little time to learn them all.

          And yes, I agree with your advice to talk with the admins directly is smart.

        2. ceiswyn*

          It’s one of those phrases where the actual meaning is more than the sum of the words. Giving someone a piece of your mind, the phrase, is always used to mean giving a righteous scolding.

        3. Candi*

          It’s often a politer version of “chew them a new one”.

          Have you seen a TV or movie scene where one person is leaning over another’s desk, scolding them, talking in a loud voice or yelling, body language aggressive and confrontational? Often going on and on, not letting anyone else get a word in?

          That’s the image that “gave them a piece of my mind”, etc., is meant to convey.

    3. Heidi*

      Well, the OP’s question was whether or not they should say something to the overstepping co-worker, so that may be why the answer was primarily about that. But yes, I agree that asking the admins to change the reservation back is the first step. That should hopefully lead them to understand that something wasn’t right about the original change.

      I also found that this coworker irritated me way more than the ones in the other letters. What a presumptuous jerk.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I’m fascinated by how this bit of gumption is so small scale. Like the coworker imagines that OP will write THE Yahoo review that ensures her friends’ hotel’s success and so this totally made sense in her head.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Doesn’t even have to be a real kickback, in some ways. There’s a very definite sort of person who would do this, planning to eventually hold the unasked for assistance over their friend.

          1. Green great dragon*

            Or she could just be doing it to do a friend a favour. She still doesn’t get to alter a co-workers booking.

            1. Candi*

              It will come back, next coworker’s friend doesn’t want to do something for the coworker.

              “But I sent you customers and never asked for aaannnyyyything back!”

      1. Hiring Mgr*

        I was giving the benefit of the doubt on motive and thinking the friend’s hotel was like a five star luxury resort that she had gotten for the same price as the original.. But even so, it’s a ridiculous overstep to just do so without asking.. And that probably wasn’t the reason anyway

    5. Rusty Shackelford*

      Even if your coworker said she had talked to you and for whatever reason you couldn’t request the change yourself, the admins really should be checking back with you first before changing anything!

      And if she somehow convinced them you were on board with this, they definitely should have confirmed *after.* “I changed your travel arrangements as requested, Cersei said she’d provide the information for your new reservation.”

  18. AvonLady Barksdale*

    #3: reasons, schmeasons, this is Not Cool. When I travel I prefer certain hotels and I choose them carefully. I’m not bound by any regulations or even policies beyond price– I can book what works for me. And I would be so mad. It’s not even that deep– “Hey, co-worker, I chose my hotel for a reason. Don’t do stuff like that.”

    I tend to soften my language, pull the “I appreciate your concern, but …” and everything, but in this case, a simple “no thanks, wtf?” is all that’s warranted.

    And yes, ask admin to check with you first. I’ve had situations where I changed reservations with an admin on behalf of me and someone else, so I don’t think it’s a major violation of privacy, just requires a heads-up about your preferences.

    1. Alexander Graham Yell*

      Exactly this. Hotel selection is something I take really seriously and only leave it up to somebody else if I am the most junior person in the group. Our policy is really flexible and I have strong preferences in terms of chain, distance from the client site, amenities, and length of time there. If somebody just changed that willy-nilly? Absolutely not.

      That said, if somebody else will be booking for me I’d want to be able to give them my preferences and request a heads up from them directly (ideally before a change is made so that I can let them know if there was something factored in to that specific booking that they didn’t realize – at one point I had to coordinate with another vendor and that influenced my hotel selection. Changing that without letting me know would have impacted the client and so I would have wanted to be able to make my case before any changes could be made).

  19. Puzzled*

    LW 1. I am genuinely puzzled by the reactions to the first question writer. As far as I know, employers in America aren’t even obligated to offer any paid leave. LW 1 knew the PTO policies from the get go and indeed was offered options – take whatever PTO accrued and then either come back to work or take more unpaid time off. I agree, it sucks, but this is how America works. Millions of people work without any PTO whatsoever. Nothing that happened here was illegal or unreasonable. Do people who comment here all have jobs that offer much more generous benefits? Obviously everyone can quit for any reason, but I would argue that it’s very hard to find an employer who would easily grant PTO not earned on demand.

    1. RabbitRabbit*

      Having worked in hospitals for years, I kind of get it and kind of don’t. I absolutely understand accruing PTO over time, been there done that – at one position I was hired in November and ended up with some unpaid holidays and working a lot of holiday-adjacent days that year.

      Possibly LW1’s manager should have gone to bat with HR instead of just suggesting they contact HR. However, it could be that it’s the policy that HR is never never never going to talk to a manager instead of the employee over something like this.

      I think the main issue might be that a hospital is being rigid about sick leave during a pandemic. I agree that’s not where we should be right now, but on the other hand I don’t think a lot of places have been very flexible in their thinking right now when other issues have been pressing. I work for a place where you can donate hours to a pool for cases like this, and the other employee has to apply for the assistance.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just because this is how America works does not mean it’s fair or ethical. OP is not the only one who left their job. I am seeing news articles of hospitals crying because a percentage of their employees just left. One article I saw talked about a hospital that no longer offers x or y because the staff who did x and y quit. (Consider I only let myself read the news for 5-10 minutes per day because that is all the negativity I can hack. To see so many articles in that limited time is stunning to me.)

      There are many human service organizations in the US who are not humane to their own employees. And this is well discussed here in the US. IF they genuine believed in their mission to aid human health, they would start with their own employees. Credibility. Their walk should match their talk and it doesn’t.

    3. mreasy*

      On the contrary, I have never had an employer who wouldn’t allow me to take sick leave before accrual and “pay it off” as time goes on. I’ve had some be flexible about vacation time, as well. It’s what a good employer who wants to keep employees does.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        This ^. There is nothing unusual about accommodating employees. And telling people too sick to take meetings that they need to have a meeting with HR is not how they do it.

        1. WulfInTheForest*

          I’ve worked at 4 different employers (all in higher education) and literally none of them allow you to take leave in advance. Maybe it just depends on what field you work in, but if you’re on a lower rung of the ladder, AKA making 70k or less a year, it’s much less likely you can take flex leave in my experience.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            LW3’s employer was a hospital in a large public university, so they had all the problems of medical employers, universities, and government, all in one place. It’s a nasty combo of stingy leave policies (two days total over two months???) and an inflexibility that may be required by law. If LW3’s state doesn’t allow advance sick time, for example, then it’s just not an option. There’s no room for flexibility, either by the manager or the university, probably. It sucks, but that’s government work for you.

            1. pancakes*

              I’m not aware of any state or city that prohibits offering that. The fact that not all of them require employers to offer that or to offer paid sick leave doesn’t mean it’s illegal to offer in the rest.

              1. L.H. Puttgrass*

                It depends on what you mean by “that.” If you’re talking about whether employers can offer paid sick leave, then of course that’s not illegal. But letting an employee take paid days off when they’ve run out of PTO, and other options aren’t available?* Yes, that’s often illegal. It’s called time card fraud, and public-sector employers take that kind of thing very seriously. Public-sector managers often have exactly as much flexibility as the employer gives them, but absolutely none after that, and the penalty for doing it could actually be criminal charges.

                *By “other options,” I mean things like advance leave, leave donations, etc.

                1. pancakes*

                  Yes, by “that” I meant “advance sick time.” Offering an employee an advance on the time off available to them is not inherently fraud. Fraud involves deception. If a public sector manager does not have the authority to offer that and offers it anyhow, then yes, that is obviously a problem, but that’s a different situation than a state prohibiting any advance of sick time. Also, fraud can result in civil or criminal charges. Which is appropriate depends on the circumstances and the jurisdiction. It’s a bit over-the-top to suggest it always involves potential jail time. The way you describe this, it seems like you are thinking of it as being on par with identity fraud, whereby the manager would be impersonating someone with more authority than they in fact have. That isn’t necessarily how overstepping their discretion or authority would be treated.

                2. L.H. Puttgrass*

                  “If a public sector manager does not have the authority to offer that and offers it anyhow . . .”

                  Then yup, when it involves a public employee, that’s fraud. It’s definitely fraud at the federal level, and probably at many state and local levels, too. It can and has resulted in criminal charges. Not always, obviously, but it’s not unheard of, either.

                  The fraud comes from falsifying the time sheet—i.e., receiving public money based on claiming time worked that wasn’t actually worked. The employee could be on the hook for falsely certifying a time card, and the manager could be on the hook for encouraging doing so. The most relevant federal statute is 18 U.S.C. § 641 (theft of public money). Lots of states have similar statutes.

                  Would the manager and employee actually face criminal charges if the manager told an employee who was out of PTO to take the time off anyway and report the time as worked? Maybe not, but I’m confident that it would not work out well for either the manager or the employee if it’s discovered, and in many jurisdictions criminal prosecution would definitely be a possibility. And you never want to be in the position of hoping the local prosecutor doesn’t think this is worth their time.

                3. pancakes*

                  I think you are misunderstanding what I’m trying to say, and I don’t believe emphasizing the possibility of jail time is a good way to interject much-needed nuance into conversation, but this is becoming derailing.

      2. Sleet Feet*

        Exactly! There are so many solutions to this.

        Borrow ahead and from your PTO. The boss lays you as if you are in the office then you use your PTO as you accrue it while you work.

        Flex the schedule. Let the new employee work off the hours over the next month if they would like.

        A combination of the two.

        A pto gifting policy. Ask if anyone is willing to do ate their accrued PTO for the new Covid employee.

        Getting all beicratic and – it’s you work or you don’t get paid is a callous and stupid approach. I guarantee that’s how they treat future absences and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out the op had only 4 weeks of PTO which was supposed to beused on holidays, their sick leave, and their vacation for the year as well.

        1. Colette*

          Some of those are illegal, and all of them depend on whether the organizaiton is set up to do them. A low-level manager is not in a position to set up a PTO gifting policy, or allow people to go into the negative on their PTOs if the organization doesn’t have those policies.

          1. Sleet Feet*

            Flexing the schedule is only illegal if you are non exempt. PTO gifting is legal regardless of exempt status, as is borrowing ahead from a PTO bank.

            1. Colette*

              But if the organization doesn’t allow PTO gifting or a PTO bank, a low-level manager can’t start it. There’s logistical reasons why they might not do this (e.g. the software doesn’t handle it and they don’t have budget to change that; they want people to take their PTO and allowing them to gift it means some people won’t take vacation).

      3. Rusty Shackelford*

        But this is literally not possible at some employers. A large bureaucratic organization can’t just do that. Not saying it’s a bad idea, but if existing systems don’t allow for it, no one’s going to say “let’s reprogram our huge and expensive time & leave system in the next couple of days so Jane doesn’t have to take unpaid leave.”

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Oh, and this is a university hospital? Yeah, even more likely that it just can’t be done. Rail against the people who make those policies, if you want, but not against the supervisor who has absolutely no choice but to follow them.

          1. RabbitRabbit*

            Especially a public university hospital. You start really getting into a world of legal issues there.

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            I can see this, but then it’s on the manager to be very clear on the policies. Not to tell someone too sick to handle meetings that they will need to take a meeting with HR to discuss unknown, possibly nonexistent, alternatives.

            1. Rusty Shackelford*

              The manager basically said “I can’t do anything about this, but you can take it up with HR,” which was probably all they could do.

                1. tra la la*

                  Because then it gets into a game of “telephone” where the manager is stuck in the middle. HR is going to have a better sense of what the options are because this kind of thing is their bread and butter. I wouldn’t expect my manager to know what was possible, and in fact I’ve seen several situations where a manager has given someone much more rigid information about this kind of thing when there actually was more flexibility. In a case like this, I’d much rather talk with HR because I’d expect them to know more about how to work the system (if it’s even possible to work the situation). A public university hospital is going to be the mothership of bureaucracy — I’d much rather talk with the people who I’d expect to know how to operate that bureaucracy.

    4. anonymous73*

      It’s called being human and not being so rigid that you can’t grant an exception. I’ve been there. New to the job for a few months, medical emergency, needed a week off but didn’t have it to take. They worked it out with me and I never had to take time without pay.

      1. Colette*

        A manager who grants leave they’re not authorized to grant could easily get fired. Some places have more flexibility; large organizations often don’t.

      2. pancakes*

        This isn’t a matter of granting someone an exemption, though – it’s about confirming whether they will or will not be paid for the time off. Wanting them to be paid and having the authority to promise them pay or promise seeing to it that they do in fact get paid are two very different things.

        1. anonymous73*

          She just started the job. Even though her willingness to quit likely means she has the financial means to do so doesn’t mean everyone does. In fact a few days of unpaid leave could break some people.

        2. ceiswyn*

          Unpaid leave that the LW would have to have a meeting with HR to take – while too ill to work – and flex time that basically pans out to ‘if you’re too ill to work 9-5 you can work 7-11 and 1-5 instead’ :(

    5. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯*

      With a few exceptions where the government has mandated it (DC passed a paid sick leave law a couple of years ago, for example) American companies are not obligated to offer paid leave of any kind.

      And American workers are not obligated to keep working for companies that have shitty policies, either! If they want to retain workers and not have them quit like OP, then they should figure it out.

      1. Paris Geller*

        I’m surprised by how many people think OP 1 over-reacted. It sounds like just figuring out taking *unpaid* leave would be a nightmare — they mention in the comments how they had to spend half a day on various phone calls with various departments just to call in sick. I don’t know how many people in the comments have had covid, but one symptom is definitely that fatigue/brain fog someone else has mentioned, even if you had a mild case. I had covid last July and my case wasn’t that bad (not symptom free, but by no means anywhere close to needing a hospital), but the lack of being able to think clearly was the worst symptom. I wouldn’t have been able to take on that administrative work of having to call different departments either. I could barely think straight enough to call the pharmacy to authorize my boyfriend to pick up my meds.

        People keep mentioning that if the OP didn’t want unpaid leave, they’re in possibly worst shape financially because now they have no job, but . . . they’re in healthcare! I know they’re not front facing staff but there are a hundred news articles about how healthcare workers are leaving in droves, mostly front facing staff but back end as well. I don’t think they’re going to have any trouble finding another job.

        1. Colette*

          Based on the details the OP provided in the comments, it seems like the employer made the process unnecessarily complex and they were unreasonable about it. But those details weren’t in the letter.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        For real, what companies are legally obligated to offer should not be the bar! And telling you about a shitty policy in advance doesn’t suddenly make it not shitty. And it’s reasonable for an employee to think that the shitty policy might not be an issue until it suddenly is, and then they have to make a decision based on what’s best for them.

    6. tamarack and fireweed*

      Insofar as this is “how America works”, being able to leave your job with very little notice and formality is *also* how America works.

      The employer had many options to soften the impact of even a mediocre-to-crappy-if-common leave policy and handle the situation with respect and care. They didn’t. The LW gets to leave over that.

  20. Puzzler*

    Am I the only one confused about the response to OP 1? This company has a very common accrued PTO policy. Why should they make an exception for it for COVID specifically? Yes, getting it can suck, but so can getting all kinds of other things (and this person is vaccinated). If they make an exception here, it seems to me they also need to make an exception for the flu and plenty of other things that could put you out for a couple days, and they don’t want to open that can of worms.
    (I’m not defending the company’s policy, I hate accrued PTO policies, I’m just not clear why they’re terrible for not making an exception for a COVID case).

    1. doreen*

      I agree that doesn’t make sense make sense to expect a COVID exception to the leave policy, because in this particular situation, there’s no difference between COVID and any other short term illness including non-contagious conditions. It’s not like the company wants to encourage the OP to stay home when she’s sick – she’s already working from home. It’s not like they wouldn’t allow her to come to work for X days after she tested positive- she was already working from home. Plenty of employers ( even ones who are generous with leave overall ) are not going to make exceptions for someone who has worked there two months.

      And TBH, the OP may not have helped herself when she told the supervisor that she would need a “few days to sleep it off”. That definitely sounds like you might need extra sleep , you might have difficulty getting to work at a certain time – but it doesn’t necessarily say ” I have such a bad case of COVID that I cannot work at all”. Because there are indeed people who have mild cases of COVID that don’t prevent them from working – and if an employer is going to make an exception to their leave policy , it’s going to be for someone who is so sick they cannot work.

    2. Greige*

      Yeah, I’m confused, too. I agree with Alison that employers should allow negative PTO or sick leave when necessary and that the manager should have advocated for OP, but when contagiousness isn’t an issue, I’m not sure what makes Covid more worthy of accommodation than any other illness or emergency.

      1. Momma Bear*

        There was a brief time of mandated allowed leave for COVID but most of that has expired since the end of last year. We are also now on “use your PTO but we’ll let you go into the red so you don’t plague everyone.” If someone can WFH, they are permitted to do so, even if it’s only part of their absence.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I agree.

      I also think the assumption that the boss could make a unilateral exception to established policy is a problem. Why should he put his job in jeopardy for the LW to get around policy? At big institutions, you can’t just bend the rules with no repercussions.

    4. Sleet Feet*

      Covid should absolutely be an exception, just like cancer, a car accident, or a family death among others.

      In general you can’t be callous and unaccomdationg and then baulk that people treat you they way you treat them. You can sputter – but our policies! – all you want but people can and will think you are a terrible employer.

      And even if this is a company that rarely deviate from policy, the boss should have taken on the stress during that time and did the leg work to try and make this work for their staff. To he boss should have met with HTheR and got options, not told OP to do it. The fact that boss’ response was – here’s the policy you meet with HR iand figure ist out – os a sign that they don’t support their employees.

      Because after all if they expect you to meet with HR to discuss options about pay and figure out your benefits by yourself while you have Covid it’s safe to assume that the boss will do the same when you have another emergency or critical illness.

      1. WulfInTheForest*

        I think the difference is, Covid can last for as little as a week or two. The majority of people are asymptomatic or have mild cases, and so unless you say “I’m in the hospital for Covid”, most employers will shrug it off as “not a big deal” basically. Also, I don’t think FMLA covers Covid the same way it does with cancer or major issues like car accidents, unless your Covid case causes major medical issues.

        So, just….this is the norm here. Especially when OP already works from home, which is already a boon most employers don’t offer.

        1. Puzzler*

          Yeah, most places have disability as a separate thing if you’re out for a week or more (I think it’s required in some states?)

        2. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

          Whoa, wait, what? Um. Hi. I currently work in HR at a state agency in the US–home of the Inflexible Bureaucratic Red Tape–and we definitely do NOT “shrug off” non-hospitalized cased of Covid as “not a big deal.” At all. That is NOT a norm.

          1. WulfInTheForest*

            Idk, maybe it’s just the norm where I live and work then (FL), because both my employers this past year have basically said “okay stay home for two weeks unpaid” or even just “if you’re vaccinated you dont have to quarantine anymore unless you actually test positive” etc.

        3. Sleet Feet*

          And some people can work through cancer. And some people can come back to work a few days after giving birth.

          It doesn’t mean they are not serious deadly illnesses or medical events. The OP said they made it clear they were too sick to work and meet. The fact that the bosses response was – shrugs figure it out yourself – is a sign they are not supportive.

        4. MCMonkeyBean*

          Asymptomatic people can still spread covid. This is why not being flexible during a pandemic is extremely stupid. It means you are basically encouraging sick employees to come to work if they can’t afford to take unpaid leave, and then those employees spread it to others and dumbass policies like that is part of why we are *still* dealing with this pandemic.

          If OP can afford to quit over those polices then I’m glad they did and I hope the hospital reconsiders things in the future.

          1. WulfInTheForest*

            Yes, I am aware. I’m saying that employers (in my experience) have not been flexible the way OP was expecting them to be.

        5. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Oh heck no, we do not shrug off *any* case of Covid. I don’t regard any case as mild and not worth worrying about.

          (I had a friend, perfectly healthy, got Covid and seemed to be just a low grade fever. She was dead a week later. Another friend is suffering from long term effects from her infection that weren’t obvious at first. So maybe I’m paranoid but I’d never count news of a Covid infection as anything but serious)

          1. I WORKED on a Hellmouth*

            You’re not paranoid. I’ve been processing non-stop Covid leave for our employees, and death separations as well. I’ve had time keepers call me to say that they can’t get employee signatures for things because the employee in question was just put on a ventilator. I’ve had coworkers be out for over a month and unable to work full days after they come back. You’re not paranoid, there are just some shockingly callous people in this thread.

      2. Cj*

        In the cases you mention that should be exceptions, in most cases you would be required to use up your leave and then take unpaid FMLA, especially if it is a large organization that *does* stick to it’s policies. OP was offered unpaid leave, they weren’t trying to force her to work.

        1. Candi*

          Two things, though.

          LW1’s been responding, and they were making her do all the work to deal with her being unable to work while she was sick. It took her half a day just to call in sick.

          The manager repeatedly pushed “flex time” so she could work while she sick, which in their definition means if you’re sleeping at noon because you’re sick, that means you log in at 3 pm instead.

          Except anyone’s who has had covid will tell you that. is. not. possible. Even with a mild case. Even a mild case knocks your brain for a foggy loop.

          And she got similar messages from several people, who combined “take care of your health” with “you need to really get your work done”.

    5. Frankie*

      I think there absolutely should be a separate accommodation for covid considering the present state of things. My workplace already instituted automatic leave for COVID.

      However, I disagree that the manager was unfair. He doesnt make the policies.

    6. Blue Eagle*

      I agree with you. Can someone please explain why the LW should get a special exception after only being there 2 months? I had to work a full six months at an exempt job before I got even one day of PTO (including sick days) otherwise they were unpaid.
      There are millions of job in America where if you don’t work you don’t get paid. The LW sounds very entitled (mostly because it wasn’t just that the LW was upset but because the LW quit over it). Talk about entitled.

      1. Paris Geller*

        So because other workplaces have worst policies the OP is entitled?

        We know the state of sick leave in the US is horrible, and for once an OP is an a position where it sounds like they can do something about it for their own situation and comments are calling them short-sighted and entitled?

        Also: “Can someone please explain why the LW should get a special exception after only being there 2 months?”
        Maybe because we’re in the middle of a deadly pandemic that has killed 1 in 500 Americans and OP was sick with the virus that has killed them and needed to recover?

        It’s not that LW should get a special exception — it’s that the policy is bad and it was worth the OP quitting over. Obviously there are many who in that situation wouldn’t be in the financial place to quit but that doesn’t mean OP shouldn’t.

        1. Puzzler*

          Yeah I think we agree that the policy is unideal, but Allison also seems to feel that the workplace owed her a special exception, which is where we seem to disagree.

          1. pancakes*

            I don’t think “special” is at all accurate here. It’s an emotive word and I see the appeal of using it, but what Alison said in her answer (and what many of us are echoing in the comments) was, “This employer sucks for not working with you to find a solution so that you wouldn’t be stuck taking unpaid leave to deal with Covid.” If you think employers should only try to discourage the spread of a deadly virus in “special” circumstances, or if the employee at issue is “special,” I don’t know what to say other than point out that that would continue to result in a lot of people dying needlessly early deaths. Many of us think trying to reduce the number of needlessly early deaths is something that should be routine, as a matter of public health, not just in special circumstances.

      2. MCMonkeyBean*

        Guess what–your company sucked too! That doesn’t mean this one doesn’t! Just because you had to put up with crappy PTO policies doesn’t mean everyone should.

      3. Tinker*

        I’ve seen a lot of things called “entitled” in my day, but I still find it completely wild to see the bar set at deciding to quit. To me that is an expectation that hits about at the basic definition of a ‘job’ — that one is paid, and that one is able to quit.

        It seems like for a while, and oddly enough particularly over this tail end of the pandemic, that it’s become more normalized that employers have leverage to make all manner of demands of their employees — if I were inclined to use the word ‘entitled’, I’d use it for this. I even recently saw a company that had put up a billboard by the highway advertising for jobs literally with the text “STOP BEING LAZY!!!!!” in red letters, for what looks to be a retail or warehouse job. Given that virtually every window I pass has a help wanted sign in it, almost all of which are respectfully phrased and many of which are actively trying to sell the job, I wonder how well that attitude is going to work out for the people who have it going forward.

        1. Scarlet2*

          Yeah, I’m really puzzled by the people screaming “entitlement” because someone can afford to quit a job…
          I wish more people were in a position to walk out of jobs that have crappy policies, it would improve working conditions for everyone. It’s amazing how many people seem to internalize ideas like “it’s also crappy elsewhere so it’s ‘normal'” and “wanting better working conditions is ‘entitled'”.
          Unless it’s the old “it was bad for me so it needs to be bad for everyone else too”?

    7. Observer*

      Why should they make an exception for it for COVID specifically?

      Because there is a pandemic on and we want to make sure that people are not incentivized to do things that can further the spread. That’s a fairly simple public policy issue here. This is ESPECIALLY true for a health care system.

      1. Puzzler*

        OP works from home — Alison’s response would make complete sense if she worked a job that could not be done from home.

          1. Puzzler*

            Right, we agree that the policy is bad. The question here is whether, given that it is their policy, OP specifically was owed an exception to that policy.

            1. Tinker*

              If policies are sacrosanct, maybe the solution to this dilemma is that OP has a policy that they will resign if they don’t get sick leave when they are sick. Oh no, so sorry, it’s policy.

              1. Puzzler*

                Because we’re not discussing whether the company’s policy is bad — we all agree on that. The question at hand is whether the manager is horrible for not fighting tooth and nail to get his employee an exemption to the policy (which the manager almost certianly doesn’t have the power to change).

                1. pancakes*

                  I don’t agree that that should be the question at hand. What anyone feels about this particular manager as an individual is immaterial. A better question: How should other employers that are in a similar situation handle it?

    8. MeepMeep*

      Why make an exception for COVID? Um, because forcing people to come to work with COVID is part of what’s fueling this pandemic in the first place? And forcing people who work in a HOSPITAL, of all places, to come to work with COVID is going to result in God knows how many extra and unnecessary deaths?

  21. Forkeater*

    I’m confused by letter 1. How did they know they were going to need a certain number of sick days ahead of time? My spouse has a few coworkers who experienced breakthrough covid, they all work from home, their symptoms were mild and they were able to work through it. I’ve never asked for sick time ahead of time, you can feel bad one day and be better the next. I feel the request, and reaction, were very bizarre.

    1. Asenath*

      For me, whether I say I’m staying home sick today, or saying I’m taking 2 days off because I am sick depends entirely on how sick I feel, and how quickly I think the illness will clear up (often based on previous attacks, if I’m talking about a common virus). I don’t make that call for more than three days, because most places I’ve worked require a doctor’s note for more than 3 consecutive days (or a lot of non-consecutive days), and then the doctor says how long I need to be off.

    2. Question Mark*

      I agree with you. This is one of those letters where I thought Alison is going to let the LW have it for being wildly out of touch, demanding and entitled. Boy, was I wrong! I’m just confused why LW said they need a few days off and the employer was able to accommodate 2 days off due to accrued time, then employee got mad and said they are now taking the rest of the week and announced they would be quitting if employer could not accommodate it. They demanded to be paid for un-earned time off and refused to even have a conversation with HR to discuss options after only being employed there for 2 months. I rarely, if ever, have disagreed with Alison’s response on anything but this one got me due to the sense of entitlement from LW.

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      That LW mentioned in another comment this is the second time she’s had covid, which probably gave her some perspective (although getting covid pre and post vaccine is a different experience, so she may not have needed as much time as she originally thought). Ultimately it sounds to me like she had the luxury of options and decided this was a deal breaker for her, and that’s a situation I both envy and support!

    4. Tuckerman*

      I wondered this, too. Though I have asthma, so I would probably err on the side of planning to take a couple days off to rest. In hopes that would prevent an asthma flare up.

    5. Red Swedish Fish*

      Same, I feel for the OP but the reality is working from home to get a week off when you don’t know how sick you are going to be all week and have no time does seem out of place. Especially in a hospital setting, where sick leave is already not accommodated well. It sounds like someone coming from a different industry coming in to the hospital/healthcare/health insurance world.

    6. hola my peeps*

      I agree with this. When I’m sick, I work when I can and take leave when I can’t but never say, “I’m sick today so I’m going to need the rest of the week off.” Take it day by day.

      1. londonedit*

        Maybe it’s because I’ve never worked anywhere with very limited sick leave, but I’ve definitely said ‘I’m going to need to take the rest of this week off’. Sometimes it’s ‘I’m not feeling well – I won’t be in today but I’ll try to come in tomorrow’, sometimes it’s ‘I actually think this is proper flu – I can’t see myself being well enough to come to work this week but I’ll let you know how I feel on Friday’ or whatever. And I’ve had managers who have said ‘Stay at home and rest, don’t come back until Monday’. And then there’s the good practice of staying off work for 48 hours after you’ve had any sort of stomach bug. So there have definitely been times when I’ve put a date on my return to the office, even for something relatively minor.

        1. Ella*

          I agree, if you’re going to be ill, isn’t it better that you just go and take the time to get better, rather than being mediocre and sickly for longer whilst you try to push through? I don’t get why they need to accrue the sick days when illness doesn’t work on a per month basis. LW could easily use half their allowance now and not need to take a day for another two years.

        2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

          Very much agreed. I’ve definitely said ‘I won’t be back in for at least a week’ before.

      2. Annie Moose*

        Yeah, I’ve occasionally been like “I’ll probably need tomorrow off too” but it’s hard to know how an illness is going to shake out until you actually go through it. There’s been times I was horrifically sick, like can’t-get-out-of-bed sick one day and totally fine the next; there’s been days where a seemingly low-grade thing kept me home for a week. Covid isn’t significantly different in that regard; there is no standard “this is how it goes for everyone” pattern.

        To me, it’d make sense to be like “hey, I definitely need to take today and tomorrow off, and depending on how I’m feeling, maybe the rest of the week”, but I guess I don’t quite understand the “I MUST have the entire rest of the week off” approach.

        I feel that LW may have been mad at that point and therefore was saying the rest of the week to assert a boundary, perhaps? But if so, that’s not an advisable way to deal with the situation, IMO…

    7. Paris Geller*

      I don’t think it’s that uncommon to know, depending on how sick you are, that you’ll need more than a day or two. I’ve definitely been sick enough (last time I had the flu) to know there was pretty much no way I was going to be in that week, and it was way easier to take the rest of the wake as PTO than have to wake up and call in every day just to reiterate that hey, I still feel like a garbage truck ran me over twice.

    8. Tinker*

      It doesn’t seem that odd to me. Sometimes an illness or injury is of the sort where one can take it day by day, but there are also cases where the natural course of the condition is pretty clearly incompatible with the hope that tomorrow will be significantly different — if I break a finger today, it’s pretty bananapants to give airtime to the notion of waiting and seeing if it’s still broken tomorrow. A breakthrough case of COVID is perhaps on the border between “day by day” and “minimum six weeks before considering a return to activity”, but it doesn’t strike me as being plainly unreasonable to predict multiple days of unavailability.

      Personally, the way I approach that situation is to be up-front and realistic in my communication in the same way I would be to anyone else, and the same way I would regarding the availability of other resources. If a machine is broken and the parts to repair it will be delivered in six weeks, then that’s what I’m going to tell the people who need the machine. If I’m broken and have been advised by people who ought to know that it will take six weeks for me to not be broken, then that’s what I’m going to tell people who need me. It does no favors to pretend otherwise, because people need to make decisions based on that information.

      To be clear is to be kind.

    9. Ariaflame*

      And this whole ‘you should work even when you’re sick’ attitude is why people don’t get to recuperate or rest and why they then take more time to get well.

  22. Bookworm*

    #1: Perhaps you reacted too quickly but I’m honestly appalled that they were that inflexible about it. Hello, global pandemic?! Even breakthrough cases aren’t exactly fun rides–maybe you’re not hospitalized but I had a co-worker who also had a breakthrough case and she said it came and went and she had to take a day here and there (she worked anyway even though our boss told her to take it easy/take time off but that’s another convo).

    You did what was best for you. Discuss this with HR? A whole meeting while you’re sick?! What is wrong with people?? I’m sorry that happened to you and wishing you the best of luck.

  23. Anon From Here*

    Re LW#3: She contacted our administrative folks to have them cancel the original hotel, then contacted her friend who works at her preferred hotel to get a reservation

    Sounds like the new hotel is in Kickback City, to me.

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Agree!! Friends with the owners? She’s helping route customers to their hotel for some reason.

      1. The OTHER other*

        That reason might well just be friendship, but it’s still both terrible for her to do to the coworker and ethically dubious at best.

  24. Blisskrieg*

    I did wonder if LW1 might have a contract? I know we don’t do those (much) in the states but occasionally we see posts or comments that mention it’s more common in other countries. Of course, the LW didn’t specify that–however, I thought perhaps they are in a country where it’s common enough that they didn’t think to mention it.

  25. agnes*

    Refusing to give people paid leave when they have covid is just encouraging people to hide their infection status and perhaps infect others. If this is an exempt employee the craziest thing about it is that it doesn’t actually cost the organization any more actual $$ to provide the leave—-the person’s salary is already budgeted. Any burden to the organization is simply the lost work product of the employee, not the dollars paid. And most employees are so grateful to be treated like a human being they will probably make up the work!

    And then, docking an essential worker whose skills are in short supply a day’s pay for a 1 hour deficiency is so ridiculous as to defy any logic.

    I said a little prayer of gratitude for the organization I work for.

  26. Feral Fairy*

    I think that LW1 is right to be frustrated by the leave policy during COVID, but it sounds like they were given the opportunity to talk to HR and negotiate something different and they refused. The supervisor probably has no control over the PTO issue- in my experience, that’s handled by payroll. I get that when you’re sick the last thing you want to do is have a conversation with HR, but at a large employer like a hospital that’s probably the only way to get around those policies.

    1. Dr B Crusher*

      But they didn’t refuse. If they’re sick they’re sick. It’s unreasonable to expect someone on sick leave to sort that out while they’re on sick leave. By definition they are too sick to work (which meeting with HR is).

      The response from the manager should have been ‘take your sick leave, we’ll sort it out when you get back, hope you feel better soon’.

      1. WulfInTheForest*

        Is it really that unreasonable? I’ve had to do this at several different companies, so it seems to be the “usual” practice around here.

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Yes. What is the point of even taking “sick time” if you have to spend all of it dealing with your work on how to get the sick time????

      2. Frankie*

        I didn’t understand it as absolutely have a meeting with HR now. Maybe LW could have talked to HR after the leave for her options? I’m thankful my workplace lets us sort out our sick leaves, paid or unpaid, upon return.

      3. A*

        Perhaps that would be the case in a world where missed pay isn’t important! In the kind of system OP describes, their boss probably has no say in the policies/exemptions. HR is literally the only option at most large hospitals. I read it as boss is encouraging OP to talk to HR otherwise their only option is unpaid leave. If OP doesn’t want to deal with it until they feel better… Do that! Let the phone go to voicemail, set your out of office replies, deal with it when you feel up to it

      4. not that kind of Doctor*

        Yeah, this would kind of be the default for me. I got sick this summer, emailed the boss saying, “I have a fever, back later,” and logged off for 3 days. (Not covid, fortunately.) In the LW’s position I probably would have not even seen all the follow up emails until much later. I’d be in a much better position to fill out paperwork and wrangle exceptions at that point too. Easier to ask forgiveness than permission I guess?

        Obviously there’s a risk of everything coming back “no” and getting handed a bunch of unpaid time off but you’d still be in a much better position to fight it when you’re not actually sick anymore.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a manager in a large healthcare system — this, exactly. I have zero ability to go outside the allotted PTO buckets or to overrule the system when it says “Oops, sorry, that person is out of PTO, no dice,” even if HR/payroll has authorized some sort of exception – (a) they would have to do something about it on their end if they did, and (b) I’ve never heard of them doing it, because when we have 35,000 employees, they’re super stringent about being consistent in how policies are applied and not making exceptions. So it’s not that I wouldn’t WANT to help one of my team members out, but there’s literally nothing I could do for them, other than direct them to HR as the only folks who even maybe COULD do anything for them.

    3. Starbuck*

      “they were given the opportunity to talk to HR and negotiate something different and they refused.”

      Yes, because they were sick and couldn’t work, and so didn’t want to (or weren’t able to) do all the work that was required by the company’s process to get time off work.

      Sounds like they were in a Catch-22 to me – Oh, you’re too sick to work? OK, do all this work now to be able to get time off from working. Ridiculous!

  27. Asenath*

    LW 3: I would NOT tell your co-worker to change the reservation back. I’d change it back myself, tell her that I’d done so and tell her (perhaps this bit could be thinly disguised as a request) that she should not change any of my arrangements without checking with you first. Then I’d go to the admin, provide her with the new information, explain that your co-worker had made the changes without consulting you, and asking her to check with you if she gets any requests for changes in your travel arrangements.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. I would change it back myself and that has nothing to do with not trusting the cohort. It has everything to do with making a statement about crossing a boundary line. The cohort would then see, “Oh, if I change NSNR’s reservations then she will just go and change it back. I guess I should not waste my time doing that.”

      To the cohort I would say, “Hmmm. So this person is your friend? I am not comfortable here. This feels like a situation where I could be using company funds to line a friend’s pockets. I do not want to be accused to funneling business to another company just based on a friendship. So I moved my reservation back to where I had it. Going forward, please do not change my reservations again.”

    2. Observer*

      Yes, I would change it back myself. I mean why would you trust her to do it? She’s already over-stepped in a big way.

  28. Boof*

    I’m going to say at this point don’t think covid should get special exceptions over other things (like the flu) but agree employers ought to have learned by now to stop tying to force employees working while sick. Even working from home. Also agree the manager was making the situation unnecessarily difficult for someone who is already sick.

  29. Not So NewReader*

    OP 2. There is no where that you cannot resign if you want to resign. Please don’t let anyone make you think you can never leave. That is simply NOT true. You have an aggressive employer who is overstepping. Follow Alison’s instructions. Do what you have to do to get off their email list or anything else that connects you to them digitally. Go about your life. It sounds like you have other better choices in the pipeline, I hope you pursue those opportunities and forget this place.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I did think that this employer is less aggressive than other bosses who refused to accept an employees resignation., but agree no employer can force you to continue to work for them after you quit.

      It actually seems like the employer tried to accommodate the LW’s issues with the new system mentioned in her resignation letter not realizing that she was now ready to move on no matter what.

      1. Antilles*

        The last paragraph is how I read it – the employer interpreted it as “I want to leave because of X, Y, and Z” and figured that fixing those items would make OP want to stay.
        Maybe the employer misinterpreted, maybe OP’s phrasing wasn’t clear, maybe it’s a mix of both…but it seems up for grabs enough that it could be a simple wires-crossed rather than the employer being aggressive and refusing to take no for an answer.

      2. MsSolo (UK)*

        I think the fact it’s a babysitting service is giving me “you have to persuade me that we should break up” bad boyfriend vibes. It’s an organisation that’s used to dealing with predominantly younger, inexperienced employees. Any explanation as to why OP is leaving is seen as an opening to argue that they shouldn’t.

    2. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t see it as overstepping. It looks like the employer is just trying to retain the employee. It’s the LW who’s interpreted it as them not being able to resign.

      1. LW2*

        I may have taken some bad advice and left room open for staying. Although it wasn’t my intention, it seems that’s how they interpreted it. I’m not sure how to quit without sounding silly and hysterical. They solved my reasons for quitting. I’m still not interested in making it work, though.

        1. Allonge*

          The only reason you need to quit is wanting to quit. Don’t justify beyond that! Practice saying ‘my last day is X. I am not able to work beyond that.’ Nothing silly and hyterical in that.

  30. ecnaseener*

    At the intersection of #1 and #5: If LW1 is exempt (they’re salaried so I’m guessing yes) then isn’t it illegal for their absence to be “unpaid” unless it’s a whole week?

    1. doreen*

      It falls under an excception –

      An employer may make a deduction from an exempt employee’s salary for the employee’s full day absences due to sickness provided the deduction is made in accordance with a bona fide plan, policy or practice of providing wage replacement benefits for such absences. Deductions may also be made for the exempt employee’s full day absences due to sickness before the employee has qualified for the plan, policy or practice or after the employee has exhausted the leave allowance under the plan.

  31. twocents*

    LW#1: The older I get, the more I do the “is this ACTUALLY worth it to me?” calculation.

    In this case, either way, you are estimating needing a week off.

    In Scenario 1, you get two paid days, three unpaid days, and you can argue with HR when you recover to get those three days paid. If you lose the argument, you still got paid two days, you still have your benefits (insurance, etc.) and you’re still employed.

    In Scenario 2, you get paid zero days. You now have no benefits. You can’t spend the time looking for new jobs (because if you felt well enough to put in the required effort for that, you’d presumably just work the three days). If you end up one of the really unlucky ones, you’re also risking being out a lot of money with health bills.

    Maybe you’re so wealthy that you’re able to quit on the principle of the matter: you should get paid for that time, so eff you! In which case, many kudos to you and your financial situation! But for me, this would be jeopardizing my financial stability just to win an argument.

    1. Frankie*

      Yes, this, I’m really not a fan of the flounce some people espouse. I didbmy share of fantasizing about rage quitting or giving comebacks to my manager when I worked in a toxic workplace, but I leave them in my fantasies. I am in a good workplace now but I do envy LW1 her luxury of quitting in the middle of this pandemic.

    2. Candi*

      LW 1’s been responding in the comments. The situation is much more ridiculous than outlined in the initial letter.

      She had to be on the phone all morning just to call in sick.

      They insisted she had to have a phone meeting with HR before she recovered to sort out what was possible, instead of an answer we’ve seen on here a few times: “We can’t pay you now, talk to HR when you’re better and we’ll see what we can do.”

  32. I'm just here for the cats!*

    #3 after talking with the person thatvchang s the hotel reservation I would also talk to your boss, or whoever is in charge of travel expenses.

    What if you’re needed specifoc room accomodations that the coworker didn’t know about. What if she did this to someone who was handicapped or had some type of disability. I don’t stay in hotels much but the last time I booked one there was an option for rooms for people who our deaf. I think they had phones that it up, tv with closed captioning all ready activated (because every tv is different and some can be a pain to turn CC on) and things like that. What if she changes a hotel room not knowing someone is deaf? So many hearing aids now are really small and discreet she might not realize this.
    There’s also people who may have mobility issues and would need grab bars for bathroom and such. Not that hey have a wheelchair bit just because it’s easier because they have weak muscled or whatever but you would’nt know, especially of you don’t work with them directly.

    This is a big issue and it needs to be addressed. I’m not even getting into the whole her friend works at the other hotel thing.

  33. Koala dreams*

    #1 Well, I would have said I’m too I’ll to keep discussing, logged off, and contacted HR when I felt better. I don’t see the logic in negotiating with the manager, but refusing to negotiate with HR in this situation. If you didn’t want to negotiate, why argue with the manager in the first place? It’s very common in large, bureaucratic organizations that you need to contact HR for anything related to benefits.

    Of course, in the ideal situation the organisation would have a better sick leave policy from the beginning, but that’s a different issue.

    #2 You got a counter offer, and you turned it down. Good for you! If you are unhappy, you’d risk becoming bitter with the job if you stay on. Better to quit and look for a more suitable extra job.

  34. B Wayne*

    LW#1: “don’t really see the point if they’re going to make every sick leave 100x worse with their bureaucratic pandora’s box layered with maudlin well wishes”. Reading this a few times just thrilled me. A little and in a nice way. It seems so literary and poetic. Sometimes the Brits come up with a interesting line but this was poetry. Best of Luck!

  35. Sleet Feet*

    #1 Having quit a hospital in 2020 you were 100% correct and made the right call.

    The fact that the hospital didn’t have an option for Covid accomodations of newer employees, and they expected you to make up time, meet with HR, or take unpaid time off is exactly how they were going to treat all your illnesses. If you didn’t “work around” the illness you can bet they would have hinted about other employees who make it work.

    It’s hospitals like this who have nurses working the ER trying to give someone CPR with 100 degree fever. It’s dangerous for patients (and yeah as WFH infection is not a concern, however of they can’t accommodate a WFH staff I doubt they do anything different for on site staff).

    1. Boof*

      Yep it’s bunk – when I was a resident I was fevering and coughing my lungs out and had to work a call shift (this is the longest shift with the most complex patients) because “coverage is already covering maternity leave” (what? that’s… not usually an unexpected thing that should take up all emergency coverage). I felt delirious and had no idea if I was putting in orders correctly by the end, was fantasizing about being able to use our patient’s nebulizers, and coughed for a month after and my chief had the gall to look perplexed and suggest I see a doctor (we are doctors; what the hell is a doc going to do for a postviral lingering cough? I didn’t need abx I needed to have rested that night and probably a few more). When I was senior I was way more protective of my residents and would just cover myself if it came to that and deal.
      Then as a doc, I was in the ED due to bleeding from an (early) miscarriage until 2am or so, dragged myeslf into clinic the next am at 7 wondering if I was going to pass out. In that case at least I have a wonderful mentor who was willing to cover (and I felt obliged to notify) but it would have been basically giving someone with a full clinic that day already a second clinic to cover on the fly, so I was going to do my best to try. I did make it.

      IDK at least for my case it’s hard to find a second subspecialist to cover on the fly and most of my patients seeing aren’t things that are easily covered by someone else (or my midlevel would be seeing them) but the policy around other staff can be redic and pushed back on.

      1. Sleet Feet*

        With regards to your last paragraph they way to approach that is to have more doctors then the minimum needed for that specialty in your area. A.K.A staffing redundancy. Or if it’s a rare enough issue where the 1 doctor already doesn’t have a full patient load you partner with a regional clinic/hospital for coverage. Rotating who goes to which hospitals etc. There are so many approaches. Don’t ever believe when they say you working through a lung expelling cough or heavy miscarriage bleeding is the only way.

          1. Starbuck*

            For one, quit charging people hundreds of thousands of dollars to learn how to be doctors (I know, I dream big). Maybe we can also cut out the 100-hour work weeks as part of the learning process too.

            Practically, you’re right, it’s probably not easy (or maybe even possible) to get that level of staffing right now.

            1. Splendid Colors*

              The medical school system is set up to maintain a shortage of doctors. I guess we don’t want hordes of doctors working as baristas because they can’t find a place to practice medicine, but there’s a lot of room for training *enough doctors to maintain coverage for sick leave* before we get to the “doctors driving cabs because there’s a surplus and nobody will hire doctors” stage.

              There’s a HUGE surplus of biology-related PhDs… if med school wasn’t so expensive and difficult (100-hr weeks etc.) maybe some of them could go to med school (if they’re interested in dealing with sick people).

              1. Candi*

                There’s caps on admissions of medical students (not always the universities’ fault) and on residencies (not always the hospitals’ fault).

                It’s one place where sorting through the legal, regulatory, and institutional restrictions and discarding the useless ones, instead of keeping them all in the name of “they’ve been there forever, they must be right” (not joking) would be a good idea.

  36. AndersonDarling*

    #1 I wanted to clarify PTO policies at healthcare systems. From the outside you may expect that they would allow lots of PTO and there would be a lot of flexibility, but it is exactly the opposite. I worked for 2 healthcare systems and the PTO offered was terrible, and their systems are insanely rigid. It’s an employer with thousands of employees, and they need a PTO policy that encompanses all employees including nurses, office workers, doctors, techs, food service, environmental services, transporters, and all the rest. One policy is used for 9-5 office workers and the 12 hour shift workers. Everything has the be fair for everyone in every position. And they have to remove any opportunity for employees to start a job, use up a bunch of paid time off, and then quit.
    The manager would have absolutely no chance of getting the OP a PTO exception.

    1. PSU RN*

      Can confirm. Also, nurses are expected to come to work sick by coworkers and management, unless you are actively dying.

    2. Sleet Feet*

      I hope you realize that it’s this attitude and rigid approach to PTO that led to many of our peers dieing of Covid and spreading it to our coworkers and patients.

      It’s an utter bullshit approach to PTO. The fact that it is common in healthcare doesn’t mean it’s OK.

      Hospitals love to talk about how they couldn’t possibly afford to have a compassionate and flexible approach to PTO, but I worked in the finance department of a hospital. The number of – good ol boy – doctors getting 80k bonuses in a bogus Medical-Business leadership scheme could twice over cover the labor cost to have redundancy on the floors and a humane PTO policy. These doctors were getting paid a 1.0FTE doctor contract while carrying a 0.25 FTE patient load, and they didn’t even bother to attend the business meeting they were getting paid 80K bonuses for.

      The people making surr you rail against any pushback to the bad policy because it’s not fair to accommodate your cancer, Covid, miscarriage, what have you, when their are because their are busy nurses dieing on their feet on the floor are definitely the ones benefiting from this approach.

      Also my previous boss moved to a health system where the nurses are unionized and they manage to pay nurses, staff appropriately, and have generous PTO without bankrupting despite having the same Medicare rates as the rest of the country. What they do have is less waste and overhead at the top.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        To clarify, I’m just sharing knowledge. I didn’t make the policy, I worked at hospitals and had to make due with the PTO policy that existed.

        1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

          Have you considered unionizing? If these policies are so onerous and ridiculous, the whole point of your union is to advocate for them to be changed and rendered into something more palatable for yourself and your bargaining unit

          I am amazed to hear this is so widespread among the field, given that most of the nurses I know are outspoken about belonging to unions.

          1. Koala dreams*

            Unions in these kind of professions often rely on sharing information and finding allies, since many classic union strategies, for example a strike, aren’t possible.

            1. pancakes*

              Thousands of nurses in the US have gone on strike during the pandemic. There have been strikes in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Worcester Massachusetts, for starters. I’ll link to an article about it in a separate reply.

          2. Candi*

            The only argument I have with that is some unions have terrible reputations. So I’d advise researching existing ones carefully, and making their own union if need be.

            A new or young union is also less likely to suffer the overload of bureaucracy at the top that I see as a problem with many older ones.

  37. Not a lioness*

    LW #1 – In my area companies will allow unpaid time off, but will not advance PTO or sick time. That’s because if you take the extra time and then quit, they cannot get the money back.
    I’m sorry you got a breakthrough case and wish you a quick recovery.

  38. Merci Dee*

    LW #2

    As we’ve said here a number of times, jobs are a lot like relationships. It takes both sides to agree to start one, but only one side to end it. Breaking up from a relationship or a job doesn’t require a consensus between both parties.

    It does seem like there might have been some confusion on the employer’s side, so clarify that you were resigning instead of looking for solutions, and keep on moving.

  39. anonymous73*

    #1 – Your manager and company were being 100% unreasonable and I don’t agree with those saying you overreacted because you decided you would rather resign than work it out. I started a job in the late 90s and a few months had to have my gall bladder removed and be out for a week. I don’t remember the details, but I do remember my manager being a human being, understanding about the situation, and not having to take leave without pay. I don’t care what “the rules” are, it’s called being human and making an exception, especially since we’re in the middle of a pandemic.
    #3 – Yes I would be mad at the co-worker, but I would have a much bigger problem with the admin who thought it was okay to change YOUR hotel reservation because somebody else told them to. You need to have a chat with both parties and make sure it never happens again. Even if you chose an unauthorized hotel, someone should have contacted YOU and let you make the change.

    1. Nikki*

      Agreed on #1. If my employer did this it would be a huge red flag for me. If they’re inflexible on this they’ll be inflexible in other ways. I think it’s totally fair for OP to decide this is their hill to die on. IMO, it’s behavior like this from companies that is causing the “labor shortage.” People are fed up with inhumane, punitive labor practices and those who have better options are taking them.

      1. Candi*

        People need to pay attention to history. I’m thinking about how the bubonic plague wiped out a chunk of Europe’s population and reduced the workforce. People started going where the better employers and opportunities were.

  40. Mary Anne Spier*

    #2 happened to me! I was working at The Disney Store after school in my third year of teaching, just trying to get some extra cash to cover such luxuries as car insurance and the electric bill. I got a raise going into my fourth year when my contract went from part-time to full-time (the part-time thing was such a joke but I’ll get into that another time) so I didn’t need to work at the mall anymore.

    I gave my two weeks notice and my manager said no, because we were going into “back to school” season and she needed me. I was kind of a pushover and said fine, three weeks instead of two. Then she said she didn’t want to lose someone before the holidays so she was keeping me on. I told her I couldn’t do that and she wouldn’t listen so she kept scheduling me. So I stopped showing up after my end date. I ignored it when they called to ask why I wasn’t coming in. BECAUSE I QUIT.
    So then they fired me. I went back in one more time to pick up my last check and drop off my costume (it’s a uniform but it’s Disney so the shirt and name tag are considered a costume) and I was told that I had been terminated for job abandonment. I was also told that I was reported to the corporate office so now if I ever want to work at one of the theme parks I will be automatically disqualified.
    Great. I just wanted to go. Also I’m pretty sure I could still work at a theme park if I wanted to. Maybe I should apply just to see. ;)

    1. I've Escaped Cubicle Land*

      I worked for a retail change that did their schedules 2 weeks at a time. I turned in a 2 week notice but it wasn’t on whatever day of the week that their 2 week schedule started. New 2 week schedule comes out and they have me working past my cut of date. I pointed it out to the scheduler and they tried to give me the “well its on the schedule so you have to work it” line. Umm no. My last day is X and I will not work or be responsible for finding coverage for any days after X. Flat out straight up told this to the manager. I work my last day. 2 days later I get a call about why aren’t I at work yet by the shift lead. BECAUSE I STOPPED WORKING FOR YOU WITH A FULL 2 WEEK NOTICE DAYS AGO and yes Manager was aware. Click.

    2. Esmae*

      Ha, I had a retail manager do the same thing. My coworker handed in her two weeks’ notice on paper, and he threw it in the trash and kept putting her on the schedule. Two weeks later, she just stopped showing up. Nobody was surprised but him!

      After I left, I had to stop shopping there because if he saw me in the store, he’d start trying to convince me to pick up a shift that weekend.

  41. Jean*

    If anyone – ANYONE – went behind my back and CHANGED MY HOTEL RESERVATION for any reason short of “The cops found 12 mummified bodies in the laundry room of your hotel this morning,” heads would roll.

    1. Cthulhu's Librarian*

      I would think “found bodies” was a sufficient reason – the age and state of their desiccation wouldn’t really matter to me. But I guess we each have our own thresholds.

          1. quill*

            I mean, in the real world, human remains related artifact smuggling might be more likely to have effects that spill over onto the hotel guests than a murder investigation?

    2. Bean Counter Extraordinaire*

      I think I’d be more concerned about freshly, uh, departed bodies, than ones so old they mummified!

      1. Bilateralrope*

        Fresh bodies means they died recently. That only speaks to the crime rate in the area.

        Mummified bodies meant they have been there for a while and nobody noticed. That speaks to the quality of of the hotel staff. If they failed to notice dead bodies for that long, what else are they doing badly ?

  42. Quickbeam*

    Re: #1….I know everyone thinks “It’s a hospital!” but as an RN who has worked in 8 different hospitals I can say that hospitals are the absolute worst at issues of PTO and sick time. I’ve been told to “come in anyway” with pneumonia and then asked to work a double shift. I once had a patient break a finger of mine and when I was in the emergency room the unit called down to hurry it up and get me back to the floor.

    Your experience is absolutely what I have encountered in hospitals settings, including those with a University tie in.

    1. irene adler*

      “come in anyway”? What, are they trying to generate more business? I kid.

      I worked in a medical testing lab and they took illness seriously. The policy was, if one was sick, one could take up to 3 CONSECUTIVE days off to recover. The three days was counted as one absence. If one tried to make it in on the second day, and then called in sick the day after that, that was counted as two absences and the supervisor would give a little reminder: “we want you to stay home and get well. Don’t be a martyr and try to come in too soon. You’ll just spread your germs to everyone else and they will all get sick. WE DO NOT WANT THAT.”

      So the norm when ill was to just stay out for three days. Management planned for this as well.

    2. Loredena Frisealach*

      My SIL, a doctor who specializes in a niche area, couldn’t take the abuse during this pandemic any longer and after months of attempting to get staffing issues remedied by hospital management announced her retirement. Her hospital didn’t believe she would truly leave until the day their house sold. Having lost her without a replacement, there is an entire subset of hospital care that they are no longer accredited for. Hospitals are the worst, it seems.

  43. Missy*

    I assumed OP1’s policy was such that she could make up the hours during the same pay period. That is what my office leave time is like (although we also have a ton of annual leave, because the government can’t pay $$ but can pay in benefits). So, for example, if she needed to take off 4 days to recover she could use the two leave days and then could make up the additional 16 hours either by working a weekend, or working a little over 90 minutes longer for each day for two weeks. (It helps that I get paid once a month so it is easier to make up that time during the same pay period, an extra hour here and there).

    If it is a public institution then it can be much harder for them to make exceptions for special cases. Well, I shouldn’t say that, it is possible, but it can the lead to accusations of preferential treatment. And with the way Covid is politicized in much of the country, having policy allowing extra time off for Covid as opposed to other conditions could end up being a giant political mess. But that is one of the differences between working for a public or private sector employer. Public sector jobs often have much more bureaucracy for a lot of reasons, but they also have certain protections that private sector jobs don’t. It’s a trade off.

    1. Candi*

      LW1 replied elsewhere. Their ex-work’s idea of flex time is “work later the same day”. That’s it.

      From what I can tell, it was the sheer disregard for their well-being that was part of the problem, paying lip-service to “you need to care for your health” while saying she needed to get her work done and the manager going on about how “flex time” meant she could work while sick. It taking half a day to just call in sick likely didn’t help.

  44. Purple Cat*

    Oh man, LW1. Was it an “over-reaction” on your part? Yeah, probably, but totally understandable in today’s environment. We all have our triggers and our breaking points and you found yours. It definitely wasn’t the same scale as cheap ass rolls.

    My company (which sounds like it might be an anomaly) allows people to borrow against both sick AND vacation time. So while same here you wouldn’t have accrued the time off yet, you could just sign a simple form to borrow the time and deal with it later. Sorry your company is so inflexible. I hope you feel better quickly and find a better employer soon.

  45. Jennifer Strange*

    OP2, just out of curiosity are there any exceptions the org could have made for you that would have made it possible for you to stay? I ask because it sounds like you did enjoy working there up until they made these changes and it’s possible you could have negotiated an arrangement with them that would have reduced those hardships if you so wanted.

    To be clear, if you want to leave the company, by all means you have that right! But based on their response it sounds like they would have been open to talking through issues if you would have preferred to go that route. Just something to keep in mind as you continue in your career. You won’t always get everything you want (or even anything you want!) but it can’t hurt to inquire. The worst they can do is say no, and then you can figure out from there what your best options are.

    1. WellRed*

      I wondered that too. It sounds like OP wanted to quit because it didn’t work with their schedule, etc. it sound like the company response was to remove those obstacles.

  46. Phony Genius*

    Related to #1, I am seeing employers who want to encourage vaccination starting to change their policies towards COVID where they will no longer grant free leave to employees who are infected. However, some employers are not making a distinction between unvaccinated cases and breakthrough cases, making those with breakthrough cases feel like they’re being punished.
    Heck, I live where anti-vaxxers are treated as outcasts. Unfortunately, some people who get breakthrough cases are immediately assumed to be anti-vaxxers, possibly lying about their vaccine status. One of my own co-workers is going through this now, having recovered from a bad breakthrough case.

    1. Anonymous Hippo*

      My company had unlimited PTO for covid related issues (quarantine or actual illness). About a month ago they changed it to unlimited PTO for covid ONLY if you’ve been vaccinated. Which I thought was a pretty good move.

      1. Fierce Jindo*

        Until it means one of your unvaccinated coworkers comes to work sick because they know they won’t get Covid leave…

  47. AngryOwl*

    I feel like LW1 probably knows whether they can handle the money lost by quitting better than we can. If they are able to take the loss, I don’t blame them at all for not wanting to do the runaround while knocked down by Covid (search their responses and you’ll see it’s not as easy as “just take unpaid time”).

    I wish more people were able to quit when employers show policies that are, while common, are unethical.

  48. RussianInTeaxs*

    Letter #3, changed reservations. Due to your coworker being friends with the replacement hotel owner, can it be possibly a kickback? It sounds shady, and potentially problematic.

  49. employment lawyah*

    1. My new employer wouldn’t give me paid time off to recover from Covid
    Quit if you want, but be aware you may have protection under state law. Some states have special rules for Covid sick leave; call a lawyer first.

    2. My job won’t let me quit
    Lol. That’s a new one.

    No, they cannot “prevent you from quitting.” Given their performance I’d skip straight to a written record.

    3. My coworker changed my hotel without telling me
    I would be even a bit more blunt:”I chose that hotel on my own, for my own reasons. You seem to think you could override my choice without the courtesy of asking first. Can you explain why you thought that was appropriate?”:

    4. Docking pay for a vacation when you still worked 39 hours that week
    Nope. Call a lawyer!

    1. Liz E.*

      In regards to #4, would it be legal for her employer to require her to use 1 hour of PTO to make the 40 hour work week? This is what my office’s policy is for exempt employees. If we have a slow week and don’t make 40 hours, the required number of hours to get us to 40 is deducted from our PTO bank. I am not in nursing but am an exempt employee (I’m in the engineering field). The threat has been made that if we don’t agree to use PTO, our pay will be docked. It has never come to this because on the rare occasions when this happens we have agreed to use PTO. Thanks!

  50. Spearmint*

    #1 – Alison said COVID makes this different, but I’m no so sure. I’d be just as outraged if I couldn’t take time off because I had the flu.

    1. CatPerson*

      Exactly. This kind of policy encourages people to work while sick, and that’s how colds and flu spread within a workplace! I was just as worried about getting a cold after returning to the office as I was about getting covid. You would think that these kinds of policies would disappear after 2020, but apparently not.

      1. Mental Lentil*

        I completely agree. We really do prioritize the wrong things, and it starts in school when we start giving out awards for perfect attendance. School is important, but things come up occasionally that take precedence—illness, funerals, family events, etc.

        When I see somebody being lauded for working 30 years and never missing a day of work, I just get sad thinking about all the stuff they missed out on.

        1. CatPerson*

          That’s a good point–I didn’t even think of the attendance awards but you’re absolutely right! For my part, while *saying* that they did not want us to work if sick, they also said we disapprove of working from home. But we have a PTO bank which is used for both vacation and sick, so instead of working from home the informal policy encouraged spread of flu and colds in the workplace–who wants to use PTO for a cold? Dumb.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        This is why I’m overjoyed at the prospect of masking being a thing at work when someone (or me) has to work with a cold or whatever. I plan to do it FOREVER and I don’t care what anyone says.

    2. Mental Lentil*

      The difference is that we are in a major health crisis (i.e., a global pandemic) due to COVID. Even if employers had normally rigid rules, they should relax them a bit in the case of COVID.

      But I agree—if you are in the US, most workplace sick leave policies absolutely suck.

  51. Essess*

    When I had it, I didn’t have the strength to hold a phone. I couldn’t follow any verbal sentence said to me that was over 5 words. At that point, I couldn’t remember the first part of the sentence. It was literally impossible for me to speak to my HR on a phone. I was so fortunate that I was able to send out an email (which took me almost half an hour to type 1 paragraph) and they immediately created a short-term leave and HR told me that they would talk to me in a few days after I had enough strength to talk.

    1. Essess*

      Total nesting fail… this was supposed to nest under the person that couldn’t understand why OP couldn’t handle making the calls to HR.

  52. Abogado Avocado*

    #1 and everyone who’s outraged by this situation: I agree this is totally unfair. It also is totally legal. Thus, when you are offered a job, please read the benefits package before you accept. Many employers disallow paid days off during the initial probationary period, which for a lot of US employers is 90 days. That is, I regret to say, entirely legal. However, there is no law that says you can’t negotiate paid days off during your probationary period — and, as Alison reminds us, the more we negotiate, the more employers will understand that this practice is not supportive of families and those who are take that as normal.

    For those of you who are in a probationary period and didn’t negotiate paid days off, there is no law that says you can’t try to do that when you are in a situation like LW #1. I’ve had friends with breakthrough cases of COVID and I totally get why LW #1 didn’t feel well enough to speak to HR. However, if you need paid days off during the probationary period and you’re able to do so, talk to your manager and, if needed, HR. and make your case. I know of situations where management has made paid days off happen in these situations, but first someone had to negotiate.

  53. Elizabeth West*

    3. My coworker changed my hotel without telling me

    Maybe it’s a sore point for me because I hate when people do stuff that directly affects me without telling me, but this one pisses me off. You don’t take it on yourself to change people’s lodging because your friend works for another hotel. If the coworker thinks her friend’s hotel might be better for these work trips, she can suggest it to the company. But to change the reservation? I mean, WTF?

    There could be other reasons an employee would book a preferred hotel besides amenities—security, accessibility, location, points, etc. I don’t know if this will cost the company anything, but it should definitely be brought to someone’s attention to0 make sure this person or any other coworkers can’t just jack up a reservation like that.

  54. Mstr*

    For LW 2, the babysitting service — don’t do anything else!! STOP. You now have the luxury of simply not picking up any jobs (and if you don’t they’ll probably remove you from the system eventually).

    If you for some reason DO want to babysit … need extra cash, slow period at your regular job, whatever, you can easily pick up a gig. Enjoy this freedom. If you never pick up another babysitting job, congrats you effectively quit. If you do want the work, congratulations it’s available to you.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I am curious how the initial letter was worded. If it was just kind of “Oh I’m afraid this won’t work for me because of XYZ” then they might not have taken it as an official resignation. So if you haven’t already sent a very explicit resignation letter that says you can’t work for them any longer and your final date will be X–then I would make sure to do that now before just not responding anymore.

  55. Ray Gillette*

    LW2, I think where you went wrong was putting too much detail into a resignation letter, and they interpreted it as a negotiation to save your job rather than you informing them that you’re leaving. I’d tell them “Sorry if I wasn’t clear earlier – that was a resignation letter, and my last day will be (date).”

    1. I should really pick a name*

      I don’t think they went wrong there.
      Another person might have seen the proposed accommodations as a reason to stay.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yeah, this was functionally a counter-offer. LW2 can choose to accept it, or say, “No, thanks for trying to fix it, but I’m still leaving and would like to be removed from the system.”

  56. MissBaudelaire*

    LW 2, tell them again, no, you’ve quit, best of luck to them and do whatever you want. Sign on with other agencies, and if they say “This place says you’re still working…” produce the email where you’ve quit.

  57. SpaceySteph*

    I just want to thank OP1 for the reminder about Cheap Ass Rolls. That was a fun walk down memory lane.

    This leave policy is very crappy. I wouldn’t have quit over it because I need my job. But if you are in the situation where you can quit your new job without second thought because of a crappy policy then sure, go ahead… stick it to the man!

  58. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    LW #2 – the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution repealed slavery in this country on December 6, 1865 (not “Juneteenth” as is often and mistakenly assumed). But read it.

    This means that you CAN quit a job. At one place I worked, a manager would throw a tantrum and rip up someone’s resignation letter. The solution was = rewrite it, submit it to corporate HR/personnel, explaining that he did attempt to deliver a resignation letter to his manager, Mr. Boye Iamajerk, and he tore it up in an angry outburst. he did send it registered mail/return receipt.

    And suffixed it with = “It was my intent to resign with the traditional two-week notice period. However, given the contentious (and contemptuous) management actions, I have been advised by counsel to make this resignation effective immediately.”

    Sure, they’ll back the manager officially. But he’s in trouble.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I was going to refer to it as the 19th century failed “South Carolina Exit.” This is exactly where my mind went.

      On point, if ever a job deserved ghosting and abandonment, I think we’ve found it.

  59. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    I re-read the Cheap Ass Rolls post and comments and have been laughing all morning. Thanks for that! Did we ever get an update from the Kings Hawaiian OP? I’d love to read that too! lol lol lol

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I don’t think the CAR OP is ever coming back here with an update. I know I wouldn’t (except possibly to say “I don’t know what the heck I was thinking when I wrote this, I was going through a rough time in my life, but I am better now and couldn’t care less even if everyone in my office brings some variation of rolls to the next potluck”)

  60. Girasol*

    4) So the nurse knows that she’s owed seven or eight hours of pay. She goes to HR and tells them, and perhaps they say, “Oh, my, we didn’t know! Here you go!” But more likely they say, “You can complain all you want but this is Company Policy that applies to everyone and it stands.” Does she sue for it, start job hunting, or just make a point of never taking off an hour early for vacation while watching to see if this sort of nonsense is a one-off or a pattern?

    1. Tinker*

      “Unfortunately, in this state it’s the law that employees must be paid for all hours worked within X days of the end of the pay period, which in this case was Y — if there’s some policy otherwise, it’s good that you know now so that you can correct the problem before a serious issue arises. When can I expect to see the payment post?”

      After that, it sure would suck for the company if they had a consistent and even documented practice of doing this thing, and then the department of labor found out by way of someone filing a wage claim.

    2. Candi*

      It can be company policy all they want. Company policy can’t override federal and state law, even if Luxottica Group S.p.A. would prefer that (so they didn’t have to stay below the monopoly line).

      Federal law is people MUST be paid, and paid within a reasonable time. State laws defines “reasonable” within that state, but is never more than 30 days at the most.

  61. First time listener, long time caller*

    #1 — you’re way more justified in being angry, but you’re reacting exactly the way Cheap Ass Rolls did. So: same reaction, more justified. I’d put you at an 8. Why wouldn’t you spend 10 minutes having a call with HR? There’s at least a decent chance that they’d give you what you want given that your supervisor said it’s “murky.” Also, surely you know that the combination of “university” and “hospital” means terrible bureaucracy. I guess if you don’t want to work somewhere with that, then quitting is the right decision, but geesh!

    1. Scarlet2*

      Well, they already needed to spend half a day just informing the employer about the sick leave so I really doubt a call with HR would have taken “10 minutes”…
      I really, really don’t understand why so many people are outraged that someone quit a job. If more people could afford to quit jobs that have crappy policies, working conditions would drastically improve for everyone.
      Unless you feel it’s important for employers to be able to treat their employees like crap?

  62. First time listener, long time caller*

    #3 — you should say something to your travel department’s supervisor. What your co-worker did stinks, but it shouldn’t be possible for her to do that (unless she’s your boss).

  63. First time listener, long time caller*

    #4 — Alison may be right. But if she’s non-exempt and her normal work wee is 9.75 hours/day for five days, then “docking” her one day (or, more accurately, not paying her for the hours she didn’t work) is totally legal.

    1. Candi*

      According to what 4 said, they are trying to dock her for the whole day when she worked all but one hour of it. That’s not legal.

  64. Jessica Fletcher*

    A former employer used to dock my pay like that, even though I was salaried and exempt. I didn’t know it was illegal at the time. I did call the state DOL when it happened once. First someone told they couldn’t do that. Then a different person said they could. I didn’t know I could do anything beyond calling, so it continued to happen for two years until I escaped that toxic environment.

  65. Disabled trans lesbian*

    OP1, assuming you could afford to quit, I’m with you on this issue. The COVID pandemic requires flexibility and willingness to accommodate ill people, and it sounds like your former employer had none of that.
    And to the commentariat: I’m genuinely shocked to see so many people being callous and, frankly, cruel. I had thought AAM’s commentariat to be kinder and wiser.

    1. Candi*

      The ones that shock me most are the ones where their comments can be summed up as “it’s fine because it’s common”.

      I have a whole list of things that were part of societies down through the ages, very common in those societies, and they were and are NOT fine.

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