paratransit is making me look like a slacker, paying back training costs when we leave, and more

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

1. Is paratransit making me look like a slacker?

I take paratransit, which is (rightly) notorious for not being on schedule. I’m given a 20-minute window during which they will pick me up but they frequently come before or after it. Usually, this is just an annoyance that means I get home much later than expected, sometimes it’s a bit more inconvenient like when it came at 8:30 am for a pickup window that I thought started at 8:45 but the driver said actually started at 8:55 (which makes it even more baffling!) on a day I started work at 10 am. But today was the worst of all because they came so early to pick me up from work that I had to LEAVE WORK 10 MINUTES EARLY.

I feel so awful and embarrassed. Everyone at work was nice about it (because they’re nice people) but I feel like it was really wrong of me. I’m trying so hard to show that I’m a good worker even though I’m disabled and stuff like this makes me feel like I have more and more to overcome in order to show that. I’m new to this job and I want people to like me and my work and not worry that doing a task with me (assignments shift each hour) means they’re going to have to pick up a bunch of slack.

Is there anything I can do to reassure my coworkers (and myself, I guess) that I’m not a slacker? I apologized to my supervisors briefly in-person and later in email (it wasn’t an email just to apologize, just a brief mention in one about something else). I don’t want to be the person who makes everyone comfortable by apologizing too much, especially since I can’t guarantee that this sort of thing won’t happen again, and I’m not sure what else to do.

This is almost certainly fine! You’ve explained the situation to your managers, and it’s clear that it’s outside of your control and disability-related.

To be clear, “outside of your control” wouldn’t always be enough on its own. If you drove yourself and were late because you hit traffic every day, it would be reasonable for your boss to tell you to leave for work earlier. But in the vast majority of jobs, some flexibility on arrival/departure times would be a reasonable accommodation for someone with a disability who’s dependent on paratransit — reasonable accommodation in both the legal sense and the common-sense sense. Having to leave 10 minutes early for a reason like this isn’t a big deal!

Assuming you’ve had the big-picture talk with your boss explaining that paratransit’s schedule is unreliable, this should be fine (or they will let you know if it’s ever an issue). You could explain it to coworkers too if you’d like them to have that context. From there, there’s nothing to feel awful or embarrassed about, and you definitely don’t need to keep apologizing. (If paratransit ever causes a real problem — like you’re late for something you really needed to be there for — it would make sense to have a separate conversation about that, but definitely not for routine work days like you described.) You’re not a slacker, and people you work with will see from your work that you’re not a slacker. Please don’t keep worrying!

Read an update to this letter here

2. Should we have to pay back training costs when we leave?

I work for a large organization and our CIO is looking into having us pay back training if we leave the company within X amount of time afterwards. The details have not been worked out and she’s in talks with HR and Legal. My view is no, uh uh. Any training that I receive benefits the company while I am working. End stop. If I had received training that benefited myself and my previous organization before I left to come to my new organization, would the new organization pay the old organization back? No, they would not. I’m not sure how often this has happened and I’m sure there are plenty of people who knew they were going to quit but asked for training anyway, but what is that percent? We all know how long a job search can take and it would not be good to stop getting training when you don’t know when/if you will leave.

What are your thoughts on having to pay back training you receive if you leave within a certain amount of time after receiving the training? There’s been no indication that this would only apply to training that we ourselves request; as far as I know, it would apply to training the company asks us to take too.

If this is for all trainings, even trainings your employer asks you to take, this is a ridiculous policy.

Your CIO might be thinking of tuition reimbursement programs, where companies pay for someone’s college or grad school classes but require repayment if the person leaves before X amount of time passes afterwards. But if your company wants to use repayment clauses for  more routine trainings (a half-day class on fundraising, say, or a day on a new software) — and especially for trainings they ask you to take — that’s wildly out of sync with normal business practices. It’s also going to discourage people from getting any training since, even if they have no plans to leave the company, who would want to be on the hook for the costs if their circumstances change and they do end up leaving?

Developing employees’ skills is a normal thing for businesses to invest in because it helps the employer by bringing stronger expertise into the company. Your company is asking for a situation where their workers’ skills stagnate. It’s incredibly short-sighted.

3. I think my team was dishonest while I was away

I’m pretty disappointed. I returned to work last week after a 16-week maternity leave. I stayed pretty disconnected from work issues (especially since this was unpaid FMLA) but stayed in touch with my team on some personal updates.

One of my reports got married at the courthouse during the work week and moved houses later that week. She took NO time off and was even clocked in during her vows. Another one traveled to visit family for a week but only took one sick day. These instances occurred several weeks ago, and I noticed randomly when I was training for our new payroll system. They are both hourly employees in an office environment. They both have several PTO hours in the bank.

How serious is this? Because I was not working at the time, is this something I should bring up? I will admit, I’m taking it personally, maybe more than I should. I feel like a level of trust has been broken, but I’m feeling unprepared with how to handle on my first full week back at work.

If they intentionally logged hours that they weren’t actually working, that’s timecard fraud and very serious. You should bring it up; it doesn’t matter that you were out at the time.

But don’t accuse them right off the bat, since there could be more to it than you know. For example, could your employee who traveled to visit family have been working remotely that week, if her job is one where that’s possible? Or, if your employee who got married actually got stuck with a big project that week and worked awful hours around her wedding, you don’t want to go in accusing her of lying, if that’s not what happened. Or since it’s a new payroll system, it’s possible what you’re seeing is a mistake made by people learning a new system. So start by explaining what you noticed and ask what happened. Listen to what they say before you conclude anything.

But if it does turn out that they intentionally reported hours they didn’t work so they’d get paid for work they didn’t do, that’s a very big deal.

4. Our resigning director wants severance payments

I am on the board of a nonprofit. Our executive director and founder is resigning from the organization. We are in a strong cash position (thankfully). They have communicated with the board that they expect us to offer a severance agreement, including a period of compensation and/or benefits after they stop working. If we had asked for their resignation, that would make sense to me, but the resignation is voluntary (and frankly the board was and still is upset about the decision, even though they gave us about six months’ notice and, given our strategic plan/plans for reorganization, the timing makes sense).

What is the norm here? I am tempted to offer modest financial severance but a more robust benefits severance, i.e. letting them stay on our healthcare for several months but not paying a ton of cash out of pocket. But I also know that if we were a small business (instead of a nonprofit), I would feel differently about how much cash we offered, and it feels wrong to discount the right amount of severance just because we’re in the nonprofit sector — work is work.

Severance is not generally a thing when people resign, only when they’re fired or laid off. When employers offer severance, it’s (a) to help cushion the blow of involuntary job loss and (b) in exchange for signing a legal document agreeing not to disparage the company and releasing them from any future legal claims. (That’s not because the employer necessarily thinks it did something wrong, but they’re providing free money that they have no legal obligation to offer, and it’s generally considered reasonable for them to ask for something in exchange. Legal releases have become standard with severance.)

Offering resigning employees severance isn’t typically done. It’s not about being a nonprofit — for-profit businesses don’t do it either. But being a nonprofit does obligate you to be particularly responsible with your donors’ money, and I’d question this use of it (and your funders might too).

But you could certainly ask your ED what her thinking is and see what she says. If she’s asking for it in exchange for that longer notice period, that would make more sense than just “I should get a goodbye package when I leave.”

5. Should I check in with an employer a week after an interview?

I have just come to what I think is the end of a month-long interview process. There was a phone screen, three-person Zoom panel, writing prompt sample, and finally an interview with a client (the position is in consulting and would be working heavily with this client). The last interview was one week ago, and at the end of the interview they said they were planning on moving quickly with next steps. Since this interview included the client, I didn’t follow up in the moment with questions about what those next steps would be or specifics on timing. I also happened to be doing that interview while on vacation, out of the country. Later that day, I sent an email thanking them for the opportunity to meet with the client and better understand that partnership and explaining that I would still be out of the country for the next few days and the best way to reach me would be by email. I didn’t receive a response to that email and I haven’t heard anything else.

I know there were other candidates in the final round and believe that I was the last to interview. My feeling is that they have probably decided to move forward with another candidate and maybe they are waiting to let me know until the negotiations are complete with their first choice. That’s really hard to admit because I’ve never made it this far in an interview process and not landed the job, talk about a knock to my self esteem! But I’m wondering if there is any value in me reaching out again to check in, although I’m not really sure what there is to gain or what I would even say. Perhaps express my interest again just ask if they have an update? What do you suggest?

I wouldn’t assume you’re not getting an offer just because it’s been a week! A week is nothing at all in hiring. (But I also wouldn’t ever assume you are getting an offer. You can be an excellent finalist who doesn’t get the offer for all kinds of reasons that shouldn’t knock your self esteem.)

It’s also too early to push for some kind of response from the employer. Give it two weeks total — 10 days if you really can’t help yourself — and then it’s fine to email saying something like, “I realized I didn’t know your timeline for next steps and would be grateful if you can give me a sense of it.”

In general, don’t contact an employer just to check in with no real reason or reiterate your interest so soon after an interview (there’s no need for it; they know you’re interested because you just completed a four-step hiring process). But it’s fine to inquire about their timeline after more time has gone by, since they didn’t tell you that earlier. Once you do, though, the ball is in their court and the best thing you can do is to put it out of your mind and let it be a pleasant surprise if they contact you.

{ 321 comments… read them below }

  1. Ms Frizzle*

    I worked for several years with someone who used paratransit, and our whole staff understood about the unreliable timing. The only time it was even a minor issue was when it was running very late and people were worried about her having to wait long past her normal hours, but everyone knew it was out of her control. I suspect OP 1’s coworkers are the similar. We just wished it was a better option, there have been a lot of issues with para transit in our city and it’s been a real problem.

    1. Genau*

      I took para transit for a time after a broken leg, and if I needed to be on time for an important meeting, the company paid for an Uber (something they did regularly for execs but never for lowly assistants like me). If that kind of thing is part of the company culture and would work for LW, they could ask if there’s budget for an occasional expensed taxi/rideshare.

      1. WS*

        +1, this is what my workplace did with an employee who needed to use paratransit (which is appalling) for just over a year. She wasn’t normally required to be perfectly on time, or to make it up, but the few times she was needed in person first thing in the morning, the company paid for a taxi, as there’s no Uber in our area yet. She was very self-conscious about the constant hassle and delays, but her manager kept assuring her that we knew it was out of her control and she was not blamed or held accountable for their constant failures.

      2. Gumby*

        That is if Uber/taxi is an option. It is not for some people. (I have a friend who suffered a T2/T3 injury. She uses a powered wheelchair that doesn’t fold up or anything so Uber is not an option. Fortunately, in her case, she is able to work out of her home office.)

        1. Kal*

          Some areas (like where I am) have rules that require taxi services to have a certain number of accessible vehicles (i.e. vans with a chairlift and things like that). Which is a major benefit off taxis over services like Uber. But unfortunately, those services can be just as unreliable as paratransit, so even that might not be a useful option unless the company has an existing relationship with the taxi company where the company stands to lose significant business if they don’t make sure an appropriate vehicle is available and on time.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            I was at an event where someone in a powered wheelchair had arrived in an accessible Uber van but had a problem getting home the same way. The first Uber driver couldn’t figure out how to get her powered wheelchair to fit in the van and told her she needed to call Uber and get them to send a bigger van.

            She called, and another van eventually arrived. The same exact model as the other one.

            But this driver knew the trick for how to do a 3-point turn or something so the chair would go right into the place with the anchors for it.

            The whole process probably took about 45 minutes or more, but it was also a busy night downtown with a local sports game going on.

    2. OP #1*

      I appreciate hearing this coworker perspective. I don’t have a good sense of how much the average person knows/thinks about paratransit and I’m not sure whether I over- or under-explain it to people.

      1. WellRed*

        I feel like probably more than you know have at least a vague knowledge of paratransit and it’s challenges. When you said they were early picking you up, I thought it was going to be an hour early or something. 10 minutes wouldn’t even register for me.

        1. OP #1*

          That’s good to know. I used to work somewhere that was very strict about time and where leaving 10 minutes early would be a pretty big deal so I think I’m having some trouble recalibrating.

          1. banoffee pie*

            Yeah I’m not sure if we call it paratransit in the UK, but I know the type of thing you’re talking about, and I’ve heard it can be unreliable. I think a lot of people would/should know that. Try not to worry too much :)

          2. ThatGirl*

            Most places I’ve worked, 10 minutes is not a big deal, even if it’s somewhere that otherwise needs people in/out at certain times — traffic happens, life happens, even standard-issue public transit can be unreliable. I had a coworker once who had to leave by a certain time to catch the last train of the night, even if the newspaper wasn’t done — it was fine, we didn’t want him to be stranded so the rest of us finished up without him if absolutely necessary.

          3. lilsheba*

            My last job would not have accepted leaving 10 minutes early, they micro managed time down to the second and if you left 10 minutes early you were penalized….so I can understand that!

          4. monnah*

            OP #1 – I came here to say that in most work places (where coverage/end-of-day-closing is not an issue) leaving 10 minutes early occasionally is well within professional norms (particularly given that you often leave much later, when paratransit is late, right?). I was going to suggest that it might be helpful to examine why this 10 minutes worried you so much – but if you’ve come from a workplace with unusual rules around time this is likely why you’re so worried, in which case – yes it’s time (see what I did there?) to recalibrate.

          5. Starbuck*

            For another anecdata point – even as someone who doesn’t use it or have someone close to me or a coworker use it, I’m well aware of how whimsical the schedule/timing can be. And at my workplace, someone leaving 10 minutes early to accommodate a shared ride wouldn’t even register, but we’re very much a results/achievements culture rather than a ‘whose butt is in their seat the longest’ culture.

      2. Colette*

        I’ve never used paratransit, but I’m aware that it’s not terribly reliable. If a colleague used it and had to leave a few minutes early as a result, I’d think nothing of it.

        1. Lacey*

          Same. Ten minutes is not a big deal at any of the offices I’ve worked in recently. And even at jobs where timeliness was a big. freaking. deal. they would have made exceptions for paratransit.

      3. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I live in a city where even regular public transit is terribly unreliable and traffic even more so (it took a global pandemic to fix our traffic problems). My office, full of good people, was always just fine and understandable when there were transportation issues. Sounds like your office is also full of good people so I’m sure they don’t mind either but simply share your frustrations at how terrible paratransit is.

      4. JB*

        I wasn’t aware of paratransit until I read your letter. From that perspective, I’ll say that I’ve had colleagues in the past who weren’t reliably in/out at a certain time for reasons beyond their control, and I’ve never seen them poorly for it. If they’re getting their work done reliably while they’re there, and as long as their ‘whoops sorry I have to leave early’ days don’t all conspicuously fall on a Friday, I don’t really give it any further thought.

        In some positions it might hold you back a bit, though, in that your boss might not be able to assign you projects or roles that absolutely require your presence at a certain time. You might find you don’t want your career to grow in that direction anyway (personally, I’ve worked hard to get into a job where it genuinely doesn’t matter when I show up and leave as long as I get my work done) but if it’s something you DO want to do, you’ll want to proactively address with your boss that you’d like the opportunity to take on this project and to discuss solutions to get there reliably on time when it’s absolutely necessary. (Some people have mentioned Uber…I have to say, a friend of mine is relying on Uber to get to and from work right now and it is honestly not any more reliable for him, but YMMV and I understand it depends heavily on where you are located.)

        1. ophelia*

          Yeah, on that last point, depending on OP’s location, the company may suggest they use a car service. It would be slightly more expensive (unless there is a corporate account) but the ability to schedule rides in advance makes it more reliable for things like important meetings when you absolutely need to be on time.

        2. Dahlia*

          An Uber might be worse because OP is disabled – if they use a wheelchair, say, wheelchair accessible Ubers are harder to get. And I know a lot of service dog handlers who have Ubers constantly (illegally) cancel on them.

      5. MCMonkeyBean*

        If it helps at all, I had not ever heard the term paratransit until reading this post but I understood the concept and the issue of having to rely on someone else’s timing right away–so I am sure even if any of your coworkers were not familiar before they probably still understand!

        It’s also a pretty common theme around here that unless there are very specific coverage needs or some other purpose where it absolutely matters what time people arrive and leave, good companies should pretty much always be flexible with their employees on things like this. Your particular situation may be unique in your company but I’m sure many of your coworkers have other things going on in their lives that may require similar flexibility at some point! I know you’re new and want to make a good impression, but in general someone occasionally arriving or leaving 10 minutes off shouldn’t be a big thing.

        1. Elenna*

          Yeah, this. I hadn’t heard of paratransit before either but the concept of “OP needs someone else to drive them, often that someone else is not on time” isn’t exactly hard to understand.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            If it were just OP’s personal carpool buddy, though, it would be reasonable to wonder why they keep carpooling with someone who can’t get them to work on time or wait for them to clock out at the end of the day sometimes.

            Paratransit schedules are unreliable because they’re picking up and dropping off multiple passengers at different locations.

      6. PolarVortex*

        Don’t worry about it, and don’t feel like you have to overexplain. You can treat this in a breezy “ah paratransit is the worst when it comes to following a schedule, I’ll have to leave now”.

        We all have coworkers who need to leave at atypical times for various reasons: bus schedule running wonky due to snow, kid schedules which are notorious for changing last minute, their dog ate through their door. Part of being a coworker is understanding that life happens. I’ve never begrudged a coworker having to work around crappy transit issues or crappy scheduling issues with daycares, because I know they work hard and they’re going understand when I need to bolt 10 mins early to make an appointment.

        I hope you can be kind to yourself over the stress over this. We can all be stressed when transit doesn’t work our way – and believe me I have heard and had the full spectrum of reactions when it comes to public transit during winter. It’s just a bit more regular stress for you, which honestly sucks.

      7. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

        Don’t hold back on making a noise with your paratransit agency, city councilor, and federal lawmakers. Communities should WANT people with disabilities to work, which includes getting there and back in a timely manner!

        1. Nanani*

          Paratransit isn’t a luxury or a chauffeur, it’s a necessity for people to get to their jobs.
          They should stick to a schedule at least within what local traffic allows, just like a taxi service. It’s worth making noise.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yes, please keep a log, too, if you can. Years ago, I worked on a lawsuit against a paratransit service that had been contracted out to a truly horrible provider. Being late wasn’t remotely the worst of it. The best evidence we got was from people who’d kept records of their requests, what time their ride actually got there, and if there were any issues with the ride (driver mocking the passenger, getting dropped off a mile from one’s home, refusing to lower a ramp all the way to the ground, etc. – wish I were making this up). Part of the settlement, in addition to compensation to affected riders, was that the contractor lost the contract entirely.

          1. Splendid Colors*

            We had a terrible paratransit operator, but all the complaints people made didn’t bother the transit district. What lost them the contract was when an audit showed they had been defrauding the transit district–I think part of it was claiming more passenger trips than they had actually transported.

      8. Your Local Password Resetter*

        I never heard of paratransit before, but it’s clearly not something the disabled person can control. So if their unreliability caused problems I definitely wouldn’t hold it against my colleague, and actually be sympathetic to all the annoyances they would have to deal with.

      9. WantonSeedStitch*

        I think if you live in an area where people often use public transportation, it’s VERY understandable. We’ve all had stories of the train/bus/subway being hideously unreliable, and explaining that paratransit is like that but worse makes perfect sense. And frankly, speaking as a manager, your letter is pretty much what I would consider a textbook example of “reasonable accomodation,” as in, it’s pretty much exactly what I would use if I were trying to describe what a workplace accomodation for a disability might look like.

    3. Grace*

      I used to drive for my city’s ride service. From the driver’s perspective, this is also a nightmare–this letter gave me flashbacks to all the time someone on my bus was late for work or an appointment. I always felt terrible about it. When the service worked it was great, but often we were given a manifest of stops that were physically impossible to complete in the allotted time, and if we waited too long for one person (or a toddler threw a 15-minute tantrum about getting into a car seat, or we ran into construction, etc) it would throw the whole schedule off. I thought this would be a low-stress job and a fun way to get to know a new city, but it turned out to be VERY STRESSFUL and emotionally draining! The constant delays were very upsetting for the riders, who would be rightfully pissed off about it, but working within the system didn’t give me a way to get everyone there on time despite trying very hard and doing my best.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I just wrote the same thing below about my friend’s job driving for one. Your schedulers seem to assume you all have magic carpets/faster than light travel!

      2. OP #1*

        That sounds super frustrating and stressful, Grace. I definitely don’t hold delays against the drivers–I know they don’t have that much control over the schedules (and we’re all town employees so I feel a bit of solidarity with them on that front).

    4. vampiremelinda*

      I work for a local Transit Authority. Check with your cities transit authority and see about their rideshare program. Where I work, if you are part of a rideshare and you need an emergency ride home, there are vouchers you can use to get a taxi. I would also check your options for Non Emergency Medical Transport (NEMT) with whoever handles your paratransit services. NEMT services are normally handled by smaller medical transport companies and might be a little more ridged compared to paratransit. Good Luck!

      1. AnnieG*

        NEMT is for rides to medical appointments only (doctor visits, picking up prescriptions, etc.) Getting rides to other places is fraud.

        A Writer Who Just Finished a 4-month, 43-document NEMT Project

    5. Momma Bear*

      I personally give people a little slack when I know they’re using public transit at all. Just this week WMATA pulled 60% of its cars off the tracks and the delays are well beyond the average commuter’s ability to predict. I would just simply say you take paratransit and sometimes it causes schedule changes. 10 mins here and there is not a big deal if you are not customer facing and no one needs to take over for you when you leave. Just go and don’t worry.

    6. Catgirl*

      It’s the worst. Paratransit drops off our wheelchair-using employee early in the morning. Our office is on a high floor and the elevators in our building are always breaking down, and there have been times when he’s been stuck in the lobby for HOURS waiting for someone to come fix them.

  2. Hazel*

    RE: #2 – Back in the day, I worked for a technical training company, and they had a program where in exchange for multi-day training, time off to study for certification exams, and the cost of the exams, I signed a contract saying that I would stay and teach certification classes for at least year after I was certified. I stayed for the year, but I left about six months after that. The program was completely voluntary, and you had to apply for it. I don’t remember exactly what happened if you didn’t stay, but I do think it involved some sort of reimbursement for their costs. I’m not sure if they ever actually asked anyone who left before the year was up to pay them back.

    1. Yvette*

      The difference there is that you acquired a desirable and transferable skill possibly even more desirable and transferable than a degree.

      1. RJ*

        And you also knew the terms of the arrangement up front. If the company in this scenario wants to go back and enforce this on people who never would have taken the money for the training if they knew they had to stay, that’s pretty gross.

        1. Momma Bear*

          This. I actually skipped asking my old company for a certification class because I didn’t think I would be around for another 3 years after the course. If they’d trained me on something required for my job and then later reached back to get their money, I’d be irritated. That should be known before you set foot in the classroom. If this whole training thing has no end date – say you took it the first year and then 5 years later quit – then that is smarmy as well.

  3. NotSoPerfectCoordinator*

    1 – I’m disabled and can’t drive because of it (albeit I’m using the fixed bus system). I’ve found that as long as you’re doing your work and generally have a good rapport with your coworkers and managers, those 10 minutes are nothing in the eyes of everyone around you.

    I know it’s hard working with a disability and feeling like you have to keep up with every little aspect, but remember to practice self-compassion. We’re honestly our harshest critics. It’s not your fault you have a disability and you’re doing the best you can with the resources you have.

    1. LilyP*

      those 10 minutes are nothing in the eyes of everyone around you

      Seriously, even if your co-worker did have to cover for you, ten minutes is just an absolute nothing amount of time. That’s like, a long bathroom break. That’s the amount of time many people spend getting their stuff together and their coat on to leave at the end of the day normally. There are people who will spend more than ten minutes telling you about their cats when they should be working.

      1. turquoisecow*

        Yeah, definitely. As long as you’re focused on your work and doing a good job while you’re there, people won’t care about ten minutes at the end of the day. Especially if it’s something out of your control.

      2. rudster*

        Well, unless you worked at my former employer – the micromanaging grandboss decided to cut down on the (nonexistent) tardiness problem, and all of a sudden everyone started getting cards every week with warnings showing that they had swiped in the door at 8.02 or 8.03 every day instead of 8.00. Of course, the vast majority of people were exempt employees and hardly anyone ever left before 6 pm (working hours were until 5) and most people worked through lunch.

      3. OP #1*

        Thank you, this is helpful to keep in mind. Funnily enough, I was thinking about this letter (sent a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling considerably more mortified) just yesterday when I left my desk 8min early to go to the bathroom and check my mail before I left (pretty normal if you’re done with stuff). It put into perspective what a relatively insignificant amount of time it is.

        1. BelleMorte*

          As someone who is also disabled and needs a lot of accommodations for accessibility, I get the feeling that you need to “prove” you are the best employee ever, to help them justify all the hoops that are required. Also that you might feel that you are scrutinized more because you stand out. The fact is you are an employee just like anyone else and doing your best is all they can ask.

          I do recommend that you communicate your concerns with para-transit to your supervisor and document it in writing with them as a work-related accommodation. So if anyone ever does complain, it’s already in your file as an approved accommodation.

      4. some dude*

        I know this isn’t the same thing, but my office all uses public transportation and about once a week someone will be late because of an issue with a bus or train. There will be a system wide meltdown or a cross-county bus just not showing up because a driver called in sick. We all understand that the employee cannot help or predict that there will be a huge issue, and it is beyond their ability to predict. Same with coming late because of an accident.

    2. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

      After I first developed epilepsy I was banned from driving for a while (I’m seizure free for long enough now to hold a driving license again – thank you meds!) and because of my physical disabilities had to *try* and rely on the dial a ride service to get to work.

      Gods what a shambles. Underfunded, late, sometimes didn’t show up. Hated it. Hated calling my boss in tears to say I’d be an hour late.

      Luckily I had a manager who to this day I’d take a pay cut to work for. He basically said that it’s not my fault, that I’m obviously making all the effort I can to get to work and since Star Trek transports are a way off it’s not something I can change.

      It’s like being told you need to use a wheelchair and then the only one you’re given having a wheel that sticks at random times, or falls off. You’re doing the best you can with a very unreliable aid and I’m sure your coworkers know that.

      1. OP #1*

        Shambles indeed–I totally get it and I wish we didn’t have this shared experience, haha.

        I do look forward to the days of Star Trek transports.

        1. OP #1*

          And as it happens, one of the wheels on my chair did (partially) break the other day so that’s probably not helping my general stress level re: disability.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer (she/her)*

            Oh mate, I’m sorry :( having a mobility aid crap out on you is stress that nobody needs ever.

            (I’ve got a spinal injury and walking is….at best hit and miss on canes)

            Many hopes for Star Trek technology!

    3. Tuesday*

      Well said. And yes, I think it’s very unlikely that people are going to be concerned about 10 minutes here and there. People often have to leave work a little early for various reasons – most coworkers are happy to roll with it.

    4. OP #1*

      Thank you for this kind comment. Being disabled can be so exhausting–and that’s just on the admin/management side of things, not even including the actual physical effects of disability!

        1. Not a Dr*

          I just want to say you are so polite and thoughtful in these comments I am sure your co-workers think the same in real life. When I was going through cancer testing I had to leave work for appointments a lot, and my co-workers thanked me for being so present and getting all my work done while dealing with that. If your co-workers are averagely nice people they will see that you are thoughtful, making sure there are minimal interruptions, and that you get your work done. They should not see any big issue.

      1. Sharpieees*

        I’d give some serious side eye to any co-worker who DID complain about another co-worker arriving late/leaving early because of this. It reflects badly on the complainer, NOT the person relying on these rides.

        1. Blomma*

          My regular physical disabilities don’t interfere with driving too much, but I broke my right ankle and was unable to drive for 6 months. I had to rely on rides from either my mom or a family friend and due to their work schedules I was rarely in the office 8-5. At least one of my coworkers was not pleased and rolled their eyes one day and asked why I couldn’t just take an Uber to/from work. I thought, are you going to pay $50 per day for me to do that, because I certainly can’t. There absolutely are coworkers who get annoyed by this issue and it 100% reflects on them and not the disabled person doing their best.

          1. Former_Employee*

            If you’d been unable to drive for a week, I could see someone thinking that calling for a ride wouldn’t be a big deal even though that short a period could be too costly for many. After all, $250 is a lot of money for most people.

            Calling for a ride every work day for 6 months would cost a fortune at $50 a day. That calculates out to around $6,000!

            That coworker was a twit!

            1. Blomma*

              Yeah, I was not impressed by their attitude. Fortunately management was fine with the accommodations I needed. I spent the first 3 months using a very heavy knee scooter that was tricky to fold up. I would have had to hope that a Uber/Lyft driver would be able-bodied enough themselves in order to get the darn thing into their car since I couldn’t lift it and hop on one leg! There’s no way a ride share service would have been a functional option for my needs.

    5. twocents*

      Completely agree. It’s far more likely to become a thing if LW1 is constantly apologizing for it.

      Disability aside, people have to leave early and come in late for various reasons. As long as your boss knows, and you’re very “I’m doing what I’m supposed to” about it, the odds of someone noticing, much less commenting on it, aren’t great.

      Assuming you’re at a good company that is. You may still have the Hall Monitor at your job, but at a good company, tbh, as long as whatever you’re doing doesn’t cause problems for me, it’s none of my business.

  4. Black Horse Dancing*

    For #4, tons of CEOs get huge severance packages/golden parachutes when they ‘resign’ or agree to leave. I can see the ED and founder expecting something because they founded the non profit. Not saying it has to be done but I understand why they may ask.

    1. Shecoat*

      This. It is very, very common. The guy is a founder. I would say is more uncommon than the opposite. Generally organizations want the founder to part in good ways.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        When I was at a non-profit, the founder retired and received his salary for 3 years after leaving then he received half his salary for another 2 years. The idea was that he would still be going to events and promoting the mission, but that didn’t happen. He was handed half a mil $ over 5 years to travel and live the good life.
        I’m sure our donors would have lost their bricks if they knew their donations were going right into the CEO’s pocket.

        1. Boof*

          See, you hear about chicanery in the so-called non-profit world and this is the sort of stuff that rankles. Yes i think non profit workers should be paid decently but this seems excessive.

          1. Your Local Password Resetter*

            I’ll bet the rank and file was paid below market salary in the name of the mission though.

            1. Boof*

              Right? Exploit the peons, pay the founders on par with for-profits (I’m listening to the white saviors canadaland podcast and ooooooooh so bad!!)

        2. Smithy*

          I think that very often when this happens with the founder of a nonprofit, it’s very often because they have strong relationships with donors where there’s an expectation that they will help transition those donors to remain with the new leadership of the organization. That may be through more formal engagement and stewardship, but I can also see the benefit of just not actively poaching or badmouthing.

          And for many many nonprofits….half a million dollars over 5 years to budget for a version of a “donor stewardship consultancy” wouldn’t be outrageous.

          No doubt on the inside of any given nonprofit and any given former CEO, I can see this being very very insulting and frustrating. But in theory, I can see why this might be done and how it could done respectfully.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        I do think “founder” is the key word in this letter. This isn’t just someone who was hired as director, it’s the person who created the non-profit in the first place. They’re probably the public face of the organization. So this is different from a normal CEO wanting to quit and get paid for it.

        But I’m still not sure what I think of it. The founder asking for a severance package when they resign isn’t quite as ridiculous to me as a hired CEO doing it, but it’s still a bit odd. I guess the details matter. Is the director retiring, or just quitting to go do something else? Are they basically asking a ransom to stay on fox the extra six months? How much will the organization be hurt by the founder’s departure? How much would the founder be involved after they leave? I guess I could fanfic a situation in which it’s not completely over-the-top insane to give the founder a lovely parting gift…but it’s still darned weird.

        1. Nonprofiteer*

          One common factor in these situations is that when the founder was founding the organization, it was often with low/no pay. Even when the founder becomes the CEO and is quite well paid, has retirement benefits, etc., the founder and the board can have feelings of some debt being owed. It’s awful nonsense, but it happens.

          If the founder truly has some role to play in continuity and donor relations, they can move to a different, formal role and get paid a reasonable amount for it. Provided they have the maturity to handle this well – I’ve seen it happen!

    2. Wendy*

      Usually that’s when they’re asked to resign, though, not when they instigate the split themselves.

    3. MK*

      When CEOs “resign” or agree to leave, it’s basically a secret firing: the company wants to get rid of them, but don’t want the bad PR or a lawsuit, so they offer them an incentive to pretend they left voluntarily. Also, I have the impression that, even in the US, employees on that level might have employment contracts, and the payout is because of its terms.

      I really don’t think it’s common for a founder to receive severance on resigning from the org, just because they are a founder. Usually it’s part of a takeover, where once again they are paid to leave quietly, or something like a buyout of their interest in the company. I am baffled by someone who founded a non-profit and is now asking for donations to be used to give them a good buy gift. I wonder if they were pressured to give six months notice, and they are this as a reward for that.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I wonder if this guy thinks he’s entitled to a severance on quitting because so many well-known CEO’s got severances on “resignation” when it was really a secret firing. Most CEO types aren’t that naive, but if this person is a founder of a small organization that grew big, he might genuinely be clueless about how this works.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          That’s how it read to me: he’s asking for severance because he thinks it’s a thing, not realizing that he genuinely resigned – so it is not a thing, while those others were permitted to resign (in lieu of being sacked).

    4. Wings*

      I think there are two varieties: a) they were asked to resign and in exchange they get a severance or b) they have a non-compete and they can’t start their next job until x months so their gardening leave is paid for. Even CEOs don’t get severance when they leave on their own accord “just because”.

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        3rd variety – during an acquisition or merger, they were asked to stay for a long transition period, knowing their role would eventually be eliminated. The severance is the incentive to not leave early

        1. just a random teacher*

          Over in k-12 education-land (which is a deeply weird place – among other things, we’ll fire people effective four months from now and expect you to keep working like nothing is wrong in the meantime), it’s pretty normal to offer bonuses for putting in your notice by x date so that the school district gets the benefit of hiring during the “hiring season” (since there is a definite yearly process of musical chairs that starts at a certain point, and theoretically the best candidates get hired early on in the timeline so there’s an advantage to knowing in February that you’ll have an opening in the fall), so the idea of severance in exchange for long notice also makes some sense to me. However, in absence of something like a formal incentive program open to all resignees, I’d expect that to be something negotiated during the resignation process rather than after.

          In another field, I know my dad offered to stick around an extra few months before retiring so he could be the one laid off from his team when a specific contract ended in a few months if they didn’t get it again in contract negotiations (and get the much nicer layoff package likely coming to that person rather than just regular retirement), but his company turned him down. Conveniently, that meant he was retired and available to work as a contractor for the company on the other side of that contract during those re-negotiations…pretty sure they would have been better off all around had they gone with his “stick around until the inevitable layoff” plan.

    5. Beth*

      I think there’s a big difference in norms between a CEO agreeing to leave/being bought out/’resigning’ upon threat of being fired, versus a CEO genuinely resigning for their own purposes and on their own timeline. If the company wants the head gone but doesn’t want a fuss, paying them off makes a kind of sense. If the company wants the head to stay, though, why would they pay them to leave?

      1. Corporate Lawyer*

        True, but even so, and picking up on the theme of other comments in this thread, it would be extremely unusual for a contractual severance arrangement to include severance for a completely voluntary resignation, i.e., a resignation that’s entirely due to the executive’s choice, not because the company/board is pushing her out or because something about her job has changed dramatically to her detriment (such as a major demotion).

    6. Darsynia*

      Our school’s superintendent was forced to resign because of gross incompetence and actual misuse of city funds and left with a year’s salary due to his contract: 400,000 dollars.

      That being said, that was due to his contract! Does the person resigning have anything in their contract about severance?

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        I suspect there was a strong desire to avoid a court case that might expose the incompetence of anyone who failed to notice this was going on.

  5. Wendy Darling*

    My company just rolled out a “retention incentive plan” that is a budget to spend on training with a requirement to pay it back if we leave within a year. Thus ensuring that I will not use it because using it would interfere with my goal of getting the heck out of the kind of place that would use such a policy. (Also it’s not even that much money.)

    1. allathian*

      Yeah, I don’t blame you. That said, I completed a certificate about 18 months ago that my employer paid for (a few hundred euros), and that I’d have to reimburse if I quit within two years. The sum is low enough that I figured I’d be able to absorb the cost if that happened. But then, I have great benefits otherwise and no wish to leave currently, so it didn’t really figure in my calculations.

      For bigger sums, it’s different. A friend of mine’s an accounting executive, and when she did her CPA-equivalent and got headhunted within the payback period, and her new employer paid the old one the outstanding fee. If they’d paid her an equivalent hiring bonus, it would just have meant higher taxes for her.

      1. Hazel*

        By the time you leave, your company may forget or “forget” about trying to get you to pay them back for the training.

      2. Lady Meyneth*

        Yeah, an old job paid for a big expensive certification I wanted, and the agreement was I’d stay 18 months after getting it. I had no intention of leaving, so it wasn’t really a factor, but I asked that they put in I’d only have to pay back the proportional value for the months remaining, mostly on principle.

        As it turned out, leadership changed about a year later, and the place became so freaking horrible, I’d have paid anything to get out. I was very grateful to have that clause when I left.

    2. Beth*

      Yep. It’s one thing if it’s an official accreditation or degree program–the employee can bring those with them and continue to benefit from them with another employer, so it at least makes some sense for the cost to follow them as well if they don’t stay long enough for it to pay off for their current employer.

      But smaller things that don’t have durable value to the employee, I’m sorry, those costs are sunk and shouldn’t be passed on. I worked for a place once that gave us like $50/year to put towards professional development (the theory was to put it towards e.g. buying a book, not paying for a course), and then they wanted us to potentially pay that back if we left too soon! It was so stingy, it left such a bad taste in my mouth.

      1. Willis*

        Lol, paying back a $50 book…that’s terrible. Well, maybe if you left before you had a chance to read the whole thing, you could just give them the book and pro-rate the knowledge for the chapters you did get through. Seriously though, that’s worse than just not having any professional development at all.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’m envisioning some company wanting you to pay them back for, like, the mandatory yearly “don’t sexually harass people, it’s against the law” training. That’s valuable information you’ll take with you to your next job!

    3. singlemaltgirl*

      we often apply for a jobs grant to help offset some of the more expensive training programs that employees request. as part of that grant, employees are required to stay on for a min. of a year or we have to pay the govt back so the employee would need to pay us back. this relates to programs that are $500+.

      for training that’s just a day or two here or there or that’s mandated by the org, we consider that money invested in the employee that we want to retain and there’s no ‘take backs’. lol.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I suspect someone in management earnestly believes that if they implement this plan their retention will go through the roof. Rather than training crater.

    5. Observer*

      would interfere with my goal of getting the heck out of the kind of place that would use such a policy.

      Is this budget for training that gives you skills / accreditation that you can take elsewhere or for training on workplace specific stuff? Because if it’s the former and it’s truly voluntary, I don’t think it’s such a terrible policy.

    6. Meep*

      My work /could/ pay for my Master’s degree and I would only have to stay for a year after the last class, but I knew if I let them I would never hear the end of it about how I was given MY degree by the VP and without HER I wouldn’t have it. God forbid I actually earned it myself. That way when she tries to claim credit for my degree, I can remind her she had absolutely no part in it. I didn’t even use “Company money” (aka money I earned… for working…) to fund it as far as she needs to know.

      And yes, she has done it before. She claimed that SHE paid for a guy’s Ph.D. because he was employed as a contractor while getting it and told everyone that “we” were taking a graduate class that I signed up, paid for, and took all by myself. The satisfaction of knowing she cannot claim the glory for any of the work and none of the financial responsibility is worth it to me. So when she asks, I tell her my grandparents are supporting it (they are but as cheerleaders) and refuse to tell her anything about the classes I am taking.

      It is really insane, tbh.

    7. Someone*

      Dumb employer: “what if we invest training and then the trained people leave”
      Response: “what if we don’t train them and they stay”

  6. JT*

    LW1 – this is not a you problem. This is a systemic problem. I have a coworker who regularly gets one-hour windows, both to and from work. It’s absolutely awful, and one not likely to get fixed because, sadly, almost no one who doesn’t use the service knows or cares about it.

    1. turquoisecow*

      Yeah my brother took paratransit to his job. There’s a forty minute window for the bus to arrive but they will only wait like 5 or 10 minutes for you to get to them. This meant he had to be keeping an eye out for the bus long before it showed up. Sometimes he got to work ridiculously early and sometimes he got home really late, and sometimes he had to leave work early. Thankfully his job was understanding, and it was only part time, but I really feel bad for anyone who has to use it to be somewhere that’s more time sensitive.

      It’s better than nothing but it’s a terrible system. I’m kind of glad to hear that it sounds like it’s terrible everywhere!

      1. turquoisecow*

        Oh, and if you miss the bus, you get counted as a no-show, and after a certain number of those you get suspended. So not only do you not have a ride that day, you might not have a ride for awhile after that!

      2. Willis*

        I often talk with folks that use paratransit in places throughout the country as part of my work, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of somewhere that doesn’t have pretty wide pick up windows like that. I feel for the OP…on top of the inconvenient transportation option, they have to deal with navigating its impact on their work hours too. But I think most reasonable co-workers and bosses would be totally fine and understanding about the adjustments to your schedule because of paratransit. It’s 100% not your fault and you’re the one having deal with the annoying system! Sending supportive vibes to the OP and hoping it gets easier to navigate once people are accustomed to there sometimes being small adjustments schedule-wise.

        1. SoloKid*

          That makes “sense” from a scheduling POV – a 40 minute arrival window is what allows four other passengers to have 10 minutes to come out. It sounds like a very frustrating system to be sure.

      3. OP #1*

        Oof, yeah, that sounds particularly bad. Here it’s a 20 min window and I think they theoretically will wait for you for 3 min but the expectation is that you have to be ready/waiting/visible from the street at the start of your window.

        1. Former_Employee*

          Wow, 3 whole minutes! Of course, I’m being sarcastic.

          It’s as if they have somehow “forgotten” that the whole reason for their existence is that they are to transport disabled people. Who gives someone in a wheelchair or trying to navigate on crutches 3 minuets to get out to the pickup location?

          I think that even the car service people give at least 5 minutes.

    2. OP #1*

      > It’s absolutely awful, and one not likely to get fixed because, sadly, almost no one who doesn’t use the service knows or cares about it.

      True, unfortunately. And wow, I feel for your coworker–1-hour windows are just terrible.

    3. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      It’s not just a systemic problem. It’s a global problem. I’m reading this on the other side of the world and recognize similar problems with our system. It would be interesting to know if AAM readers know about any country in the world where this kind of service actually works reliably!

      1. doreen*

        It works reliably in some places/situations where a vehicle is sent to pick up an individual person. My mother uses paratransit, and typically she is picked up by a car that is transporting only her, and the rides are mostly on time. But any type of shared ride service, whether it’s paratransit or a school/camp bus is going to have a wide window – if three people are being picked up before me and the driver has to wait five minutes for each, that adds 15 minutes to my pickup time. And you can’t completely avoid having that window by giving me a later pickup time, because then the driver will be early if the earlier three stops don’t require any waiting.

      2. Sandi*

        I am so thankful that my city made regular transit wheelchair accessible about 20 years ago. Paratransit is still available, and just as unreliable, but the wheelchair users and other disabled folks that I know are taking regular transit and it is much less stressful. The paratransit users that I now know are retired, and are better able to tolerate time changes. And I also recall that those with a regular schedule, i.e. work every day at 9am to 5pm, would have a smaller window as they could be scheduled as a priority.

        Paratransit scheduling is unreliable, and I would expect anyone’s coworkers to be understanding!

        1. OP #1*

          In my case, though the regular buses have wheelchair ramps/securement areas, there are no accessible routes to bus stops near either my house or my workplace (long distances over steep hills that I can’t safely navigate in my wheelchair–as in, my front wheels start to lift up/tip backward because it’s so steep).

      3. Observer*

        The only paratransit systems that work reliably in the sense of tight pickup windows are the ones that use individual cars for people. The minute you start dealing with larger vehicles, even relatively small 16 passenger vans, you wind up with an enormous amount of variability. It can’t really be helped. @doreen explains this pretty well.

        One thing that seems to have helped a LITTLE is the systems that have started working with people’s smart phones to provide alerts. The idea being that if you send someone an alert 5 minutes before the van gets there they can wait in a reasonable space, but get out the door and be waiting for the van when it gets there. Most people try to be cooperative, so it does cut down on the delays a bit.

  7. S.O.P.*

    There are several week-long courses that our staff (big four accounting firm) take as professional development, which we pay for, including registration fees, travel, hotel, meals…it’s always several thousand per person. It’s written into everyone’s offer letter that this is paid by the firm, and if you leave within X months you have to pay back the cost, prorated depending on how many months you’ve been with us. It’s standard, and when people leave before that period is over, their new firm usually covers the amount we clawback. It’s a known part of doing business; we benefit from them taking the training, so if they leave and take that training with them when they haven’t been with us long, then their new employer assumes the responsibility for that cost basically. We’ve hit a number of months that defines full value for the cost of the training, after which we don’t clawback, and that’s what goes in the offer letter. (IIRC X=24 months currently)

    1. annabel*

      yes, it’s written into our employment agreements (commercial real estate appraisal) that funds reimbursed for CE will be clawed back (pro-rated) if the employee leaves within 12 months of the reimbursement. it’s my understanding that’s standard for the industry

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I obtained a certification, which was not essential for my job but is a nice added bonus. If I leave within a certain period, I have to reimburse the company 50% of the cost and I had to sign an agreement confirming this.

    2. Thistle Whistle*

      Yup every decent sized company I’ve worked for has the same. Doesn’t cover the small/standard training everyone does (Excel/security awareness/compliance)or anything compulsory (your std 20+ hours of annual financial services joy).

      But for any professional qualification course that gets you letters after your name, you have to sign on the dotted line and be prepared to pay part back (on a sliding scale) if you leave within 12/18/24 months. It’s so you don’t get qualified with one companies support then run off to the opposition. Totally standard and to be expected.

      Basically anyone in a professional regulated job that wants an extra qualification. Seen it bring applied for additional accountancy, tax, HR, IT (new language), engineering, quantity surveying qualifications. And, of course, the all conquering MBA.
      People either build it into the calculation about how long to stay at a company, or ask the new company if they will help with the payback (more common if they are more junior, if you are senior you generally have to pay back yourself).

      1. Aphra*

        Yep, here in England this is absolutely standard. It’s been a clause in every contract I’ve had and is common in the private, public and charity sectors (I’ve worked in all three). As others have said, stuff like onboarding or annual internal compliance training, health and safety would be excluded but professional or academic qualifications the employer paid for would be included, so if you leave within six months you repay 100% but the percentage reduces over time. The only variation I’ve seen is for Continuous Professional Development (CPD, I was in law but all professions here have similar requirements) where, in the private and charity sectors, CPD fees were not reclaimed but were in the public sector. I imagine that’s because it’s the public’s cash!

    3. BasketcaseNZ*

      My husbands last role had similar. He was in IT.
      If it was just a one or two day course locally, then all costs were covered.
      But he did several professional certifications that required travel for a series of training courses, then more travel for exams. The professional equivalent of a doctorate degree, basically.
      THOSE came with a claw back.
      And yes, his current firm paid off the last of the claw back when he left, but we were prepared to do it if needed as well.

  8. Eric*

    #3, it is also possible that your boss or whomever filled in for you while on leave told them to record it this way for dinner reason.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, I’d probably ask the person who was filling in for me and see what the story was. I could think of a bunch of possible explanations. (Wouldn’t OP’s stand in notice people inexplicably absent for multiple days? They would anywhere I’ve worked in but maybe not in a big office.)

      If they really did submit timesheets claiming they were working when they were not, that’s a pretty big deal. It would definitely impact their trustworthiness, although the OP’s phrasing about taking it personally seems off. It’s a legitimate business issue that the company should be concerned about, not a friend doing you wrong.

    2. PT*

      Yes I was thinking of this. I had a boss where I was hourly and had paper timesheets. I scrupulously filled my timesheets in correctly. Monday In punch, out punch to add up to 8 hours. Tuesday 8 hours PTO, etc. etc. And then when I left, I got a MASSIVE payout of PTO.

      It turned out my boss did not know how to input PTO and deduct it from someone’s bank, so he’d just put you down for 8 hours every day regardless of how many hours you actually worked.

      I also had some bosses do this- have people punched in when they were not working- because we “weren’t allowed to pay” for certain kinds of work (they were supposed to “do it off the clock”) So to make sure people got paid for their work which is the law, the boss would do a manual override on their digital timecard and put them down for hours on a day they were off. So they would get paid AND the Big Boss wouldn’t notice the extra hours on payroll.

    3. Orange You Glad*

      Yea at my company a manager will occasionally give someone time off “off the books” for various reasons. A family hardship or a major life event like a wedding are both examples of times I’ve seen managers give flexibility and extra hours that don’t have to come out of the PTO bank.
      I would verify with whoever approved the timesheets first before accusing anyone of anything.

    4. Ama*

      That’s where I would start too — I assume someone was responsible for approving this time sheet while OP was out, so ask them.

      I have also been at an employer where a new payroll system was put in and was a MASSIVE failure initially — it wasn’t configured properly and people would enter hours that would get attributed to the wrong employee entirely, supervisors had the wrong employees assigned to them, people with hours that needed to be approved by two different departments were almost impossible to untangle, etc. Hopefully that isn’t what is happening here but I wouldn’t rule it out until you are sure.

    5. OP3*

      I probably should have clarified in my letter that the employee who got married approved the team’s timecards. When I left, she got access to manually adjusting the times (instead of clocking in and out). She can’t approve her own timecard, so the employee who traveled approved hers.

      1. Just Another Manager*

        Oooh, this sounds very fishy. Are those two employees the only ones who have inconsistent records? If so, I’d definitely be concerned about them taking advantage of that access.

  9. Monarch*

    Let it go. You definitely sound like you’re taking it personally, like your best friends betrayed you. You weren’t there. You weren’t in office and you haven’t mentioned any business problems as a result of what your staff may or may not have done, so let it go and start fresh. What benefit will you gain from this?

    1. PollyQ*

      Would you say that if they stole hundreds or thousands of dollars of property or cash from the employer? If they committed time card fraud, it’s exactly the same thing. It also means that the employees are capable of lying about serious matters, which is the kind of behavior that can crop up elsewhere. It could also be a morale issue if honest employees know about the cheating and see that nothing was done about it.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      As a manager, she has a professional obligation to look into it if it looks like people may have been falsifying timecards while she was out. Looking the other way would be negligent.

      1. InMyBones*

        Wouldn’t it actually be on the person who was managing the employees while LW was on FMLA though?

        I don’t know how this specific company works but someone had to approve my timecards when I was an hourly employee (it usually got pushed up to grandboss if my bosses role was vacant)

        1. Need More Sunshine*

          It would, but that doesn’t remove the obligation that OP has as a manager, especially since this happened on her team.

          1. Phony Genius*

            Yes, but that fill-in manager is somebody else the OP should talk to before passing judgement.

            If it turns out that all of their suspicions are correct, then that indicates a pattern of behavior within that team. The OP would then have to do some serious thinking about why multiple members of their team felt comfortable enough to do this, and what changes to make to prevent it from being repeated.

            1. Observer*

              That’s true. But also very different from “let it go” and “no big deal”.

              The OP needs to do all of this investigating.

    3. Allonge*

      Well, it’s LW3’s job as a manager to clear this up, so it’s not really a good idea to just let it go. It would be great if the personal betrayal element would be dealt with separately from the work issues, because even if it was time card fraud*, it’s really not a comment on LW3, her manager skills or anything really. So that part really needs to go.

      But there may be an issue here and because of the emotional aspect, it’s really better for everyone if OP clears it up, with the caveat from Alison.

      *We have a new timesheet system. It gives you all kinds of warnings about the bandwidth and core hours. A lot of people reverted to registering 9-5 even if they start at 7. IT is working on it, but still.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        ::shakes fist at an hourly tracking system we used at OldJob:: Stupid thing couldn’t even figure out that exempt people were tracking hours for certain jobs and that we didn’t get OT for starting before 8 a.m. nor for an extra long day. But we had to use the system. (We were truly exempt professionals)

    4. John Smith*

      What? Someone got married on works time and this should be let go? Even if the OP were feeling left out (and there’s nothing to say she is), it’s irrelevant. Unless they literally ran to the wedding and back in 20 minutes or so, forgot to clock out but made the time up later, they’re just taking the Mick. Sounds like a case of when the cat’s away…

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        LOL, my best friend quite literally did this, including forgetting to clock out. They both worked near the courthouse and popped out, got married, and both went back to work. They’d been living together for 13 years and had already bought a house and the marriage was for health insurance

    5. Beth*

      You’re right that OP shouldn’t take it personally, but wrong about how OP should handle it. OP is the manager responsible for this team; they can’t just overlook time card fraud, even if it happened while they were out of office. They shouldn’t take it personally in the sense that they shouldn’t feel personally betrayed by their employees or bring a lot of intense emotion to this conversation–but they definitely need to follow up, ask what happened, get the timecard records set straight if they were indeed off, and adjust their trust in their employees accordingly.

    6. rudster*

      But the employees have “several hours” of PTO in the bank. Did she mean days? How stingy is this company with PTO? Depending on geography, several hours might not even be enough for a single appointment or errand.

      1. All the words*

        I have “several hours” of PTO to use by the end of the year. About two week’s worth. When I look at our time reporting system it shows total hours, not days. It’s just semantics.

      2. Nancy*

        My PTO is listed as hours, not days, because we accrue it each week. Still plenty of PTO.

        It’s just the way it is set up.

      3. Rayray*

        This is a little pedantic. Most workplaces give PTO in hour amounts. I might have 100 hours in my bank, and I’d usually just keep that in mind, 100 hours, rather than calculating that it’s 12 and a half days.

      4. doreen*

        Even if someone has only 10 hours of PTO left , it doesn’t mean the company is stingy. They could get 300 hours of PTO a year and still have only 10 available today.

      5. OP3*

        To clarify… yes, I meant days. Both employees have more than two weeks of PTO remaining for the year. This does not include Sick Leave.

    7. NerdyKris*

      It’s literally the manager’s job to deal with this. And the business problem is that they’re stealing from the company. Are you thinking LW is a coworker and not in a supervisory position over them? Because this isn’t a lunch break, this was in one instance an entire week’s pay.

    8. Observer*

      Let it go

      Absolutely NOT. This is a big deal, and the OP should mist definitely not let this go.

      You definitely sound like you’re taking it personally, like your best friends betrayed you.

      Sure, they shouldn’t take it PERSONALLY. But that doesn’t make it ok.

      you haven’t mentioned any business problems as a result of what your staff may or may not have done

      So? According to this, the OP should not do anything if they suspect someone is stealing money until a bill can’t get paid because there is “no business problem”. But theft, is theft and lying is lying. *IF* the employee actually lied about their time to get paid for work they didn’t do, that’s time theft and lying. Either there is already a problem – just one that no one knows about YET, or the company is being set up for major problems, because liars are a major risk for any company.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Besides the fraud issue, if these are errors due to the new system, and LW ignores it, guess what happens next week and the week after? More and more errors that become progressively harder to find and fix.

      They have to learn to use the system correctly at some point, and this could be an important indicator that the training wasn’t thorough enough.

    10. TrainerGirl*

      If they were really out and not working, it’s serious. Timecard fraud can get you fired from many companies. I dealt with a long-term fraud situation at a past job, and the only reason the employee wasn’t terminated is that the supervisors and managers didn’t report it because they didn’t want to admit they hadn’t noticed this employee was taking 6+ weeks of vacation every year (when they only had 4). If it was a situation where they’d been working super long hours because of a project or deadline, there might be more room for letting it go. But I assume that OP would know if that was the case.

  10. 10 min is nothing.*

    #1 – I can imagine absolutely no situation where I would (assuming I even noticed ten minutes) hold it against either an employee or peer having to leave early due to the timing of their ride (paratransit or otherwise, really). Unless they had a habit of coming late, leaving early, taking excessive breaks, AND (the “and” is actually big part here) sucking at their job. If you were new-ish, worked hard, and were good at your job, I probably wouldn’t even notice. If I did notice I definitely wouldn’t care.

    I appreciate that you don’t want people to judge you because of a disability, but honestly, I wouldn’t worry about it all!

    1. Rayray*

      I agree. I genuinely do think most people aren’t lying that close of attention and even if they do notice, they understand that you need to go when you need to go.

      Many workplaces do have THAT person who takes it upon theirselves to supervise others but we don’t like that person :)

    2. Sharon*

      I agree it shouldn’t be a problem, but if it is, can you ask paratransit to wait 10 minutes? Do you have to leave the minute they pull up? Would they leave without you? I can think of lots of reasons people wouldn’t be ready to leave earlier than the time requested – what if you were in a client meeting, or grocery shopping, or at the doctor…?

      1. Dahlia*

        “can you ask paratransit to wait 10 minutes?”

        Probably not.

        “Do you have to leave the minute they pull up?”

        They actually probably want her outside waiting, ideally.

        “Would they leave without you?”

        Yes and if it happens enough, they’ll just stop coming for her at all.

      2. FridayFriyay*

        They will not wait. If you repeatedly do not make the time they arrive (even if they are very early or very late) they will stop scheduling you. Yes, it’s a messed up system but it is the only option for a lot of disabled folks.

  11. Wendy*

    LW5 – the other advantage of waiting is IF you weren’t their top choice candidate, and their top choice gets a job offer but then turns them down, you don’t put them in an awkward position if they want to turn around and then offer the job to you. It may not be smart business but it’s understandable psychology for an HR person to send you a polite “thanks for checking up but we don’t want you” email, find out that they might be willing to hire you after all, and just give the offer to the other back-up candidate because they just told you no and it would be awkward to rescind that.

    1. I need cheesecake*

      What a strange comment… Who does this?! Who sends a rejection before they are ready, or doesn’t hire a good candidate because of, what, pride?

      I’ve hired a previously rejected candidate after another role opened up. It wasn’t awkward – it was nice to offer a job to a candidate I’d been sorry to be unable to hire.

      Job hunting isn’t like falling in love. You can have multiple great candidates and wish you could hire more of them.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Agreed with cheesecake, any competent hiring person would NOT reject a candidate who was still in the running as a 2nd/3rd choice. First choices turn down offers all the time.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        Yep! And rejected 2nd and 3rd choices are generally good candidates who have options and will take another offer when rejected.

      2. Hiring Mgr*

        I took Wendy’s comment to mean that if the LW pestered the employer, employer might get annoyed and just reject them at that time. Otherwise it wouldn’t be such a big issue to send an email about it

    3. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      I’d expect that letter from HR to look more like:

      “Thank you for your continued interest, but we have not made a firm decision regarding this role yet. We will contact you shortly when we know more”

      Anything else before the first choice candidate has accepted *and* been vetted (completion of any required background checks, etc) would be premature. In this job market you don’t want to scare off your second or even third choice just in case.

    4. Clisby*

      I don’t understand why HR would send the message “thanks for checking but we don’t want you.” If the company hasn’t yet nailed down another hire, why not say “thanks for checking but we’re still in the hiring process?”

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        The latter is generally how our internal recruiters would handle it – if we do not have an accepted offer, we’re certainly not rejecting viable candidates just because they checked in.

  12. I need cheesecake*

    #2 This will discourage any talent from joining your company – has the CIO even considered this aspect?

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        But the some it discourages are likely to be people who have enough options to see that other companies aren’t doing this and know their worth enough to make it a dealbreaker.

        Practices that turn away talent are how we end up with high unemployment alongside employers complaining that no one wants to work.

        1. anonymous73*

          In my 25 year career, every single one of the companies I have worked for has done this. I’m not saying I’ve worked for all the companies, but I see no issue with it. If OP is talking about any and all training then yes that’s ridiculous. But it’s not unreasonable to expect someone who received money to obtain a certification or higher degree to pay back the money if they bolt right after they received it. They want their investment to benefit the company (at least for a short amount of time).

  13. John Smith*

    #2 very common for employers to have these clauses, but they usually refer to professional, high academic or vocational qualifications. It’s reasonable for them to benefit from the investment they’ve made in you. (My employer is renowned for funding qualification training for new staff who, 2 years after qualification, move on to less dysfunctional and better paying employers).

    If it’s a half day training course “How To Make MS Teams Less Sufferable: An Introduction” (though that would take a few months), or “How To Create Graphs In Excel” then no you wouldn’t except that to be repaid if you left. Same for continuous professional development courses that are part of the role and are expected to be undertaken.

    1. Grey Coder*

      Most places I’ve worked have similar policies. For CurrentJob, if it’s a formal course leading to a recognized qualification, you pay back 100% if you leave within a year and 50% within 2 years. For PreviousJob, it was based on the cost of the training — reimbursement kicked in for training that cost more than £1000 or so. So think a weeklong professional course, not the 2 hour Introduction to Llama Safety. Reimbursement policies seem reasonable to me in the context of a bigger investment.

      1. IndustriousLabRat*

        Yup, that’s pretty typical in my experience as well. At my employer, a 2-year evening program leading to a certification from an accredited state technical college = 2 years on the Payback Clock. I was delighted to get into the program and loan them my soul as collateral! But all the random OSHA and [insert required license here] Training Contact Hours and DOT and whatnot? NOPE. Fully paid by the company, done on the clock, no payback required. I look at it as; the company needs whoever is in the position to have certain paperwork to maintain it/be compliant, and a lot of these trainings have a short shelf-life. Trainings or education leading to a higher level of qualification, transferrable, and part of the employee’s permanent CV/transcript? Totally worth a committing to a payback period. After all, the qualification is strengthened by actual documented time using it!

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      Yeah. OldJob had a fund where you could request training – managers would remind you each year to have a look and see if there was anything you wanted. You had to justify why business would benefit, and agree to pay back if you left wuthin a year, and I think that was reasonable because it was voluntary, they were paying for your time off, and it was ones that you wanted. One year I did 2 5-day courses, plus exams, and got professional qualifications that cost over 6 grand to company.

      1. Akcipitrokulo*

        To be clear – training company required wasn’t recouped. It was personal development you requested that was.

    3. UKDancer*

      Same here. My company makes a distinction between those 1 day courses and online things which are not repayable and the expensive courses, such as MBAs or academic qualifications. If you agree with them that they’ll fund an expensive course of study like an MBA you’re expected to stay a certain amount of time afterwards.

      if you do the 1 day type courses in IT or project management then that’s just part of staff development so there’s no way they’d expect repayment.

      1. EastmanHoldings*

        Same here.

        I work for a community mental health agency that received a grant to train our therapists in a non-essential but “high value” therapy technique–something the population we serve wouldn’t otherwise be able to access.

        Within a year, every therapist who received the training left our agency to go into private practice, where the technique was a centerpiece of their practices. Meanwhile, we lost the ability to offer it at all to our clients. Lessons learned.

      2. Clisby*

        That was my experience as well. It was not *entirely* based on cost – even costly training didn’t have to be paid back if the company required it. (An example would be when my company adopted Oracle as its standard relational database, and required the whole database group and multiple programmers to take the training. Having that training could make an employee more valuable during a subsequent job hunt, but it’s not like the employee had any choice about taking the training.)

    4. SCORMHacker*

      At my old job, it didn’t matter what the context was of the training, but if it cost over $1000 you had to sign an agreement that if you left within a year you would have to pay back the cost, and they wouldn’t pay for it if you didn’t sign that agreement.

    5. Batty Twerp*

      Is there a “How To Make MS Teams Less Insufferable”? I’d gladly pay for that one out of pocket!

      But yeah, professional or vocational qualifications are very much transferable and highly desirable by *other companies*, so it make sense for the current company to reap at least some of its investment before the employee leaves. My company has an 18 month clause in it’s training policy. They also pay for my professional exams (on an expenses basis). But I paid for my FAW requalification because that’s something I can also use outside of work (I volunteer at events with several others) so my company has no claim on that training.

  14. Bamcheeks*

    They have communicated with the board that they expect us to offer a severance agreement, including a period of compensation and/or benefits after they stop working

    Oh wow let’s all start doing this!

    1. Artemesia*

      yeah no. Maybe offer 3 mos health care coverage as this transition is difficult, but it is misuse of donor funds to give someone a golden parachute. He is obviously of the ‘doesn’t hurt to try’ persuasion but unless it is in his contract or the agency has offered this to retirees in the past, just ‘no’ ‘that would not be an appropriate use of donor funds.’

      1. bamcheeks*

        I was being sarcastic, tbh– it’s such an outrageous request! It’s bad enough when senior people who have turned out to be terrible at their jobs get paid huge sums to go away quietly, but at least you can see the trade-off there. The idea that you’re also entitled to be kept in the style to which you’ve become accustomed even after you’ve voluntarily stopped working just makes me laugh.

        1. Beth Jacobs*

          Exactly. It’s like if I told my company that I’m retiring 40 years early but expect them to continue paying salary and benefits through 2063.

    2. Lab Boss*

      I feel like this is the employee-side version of the company from a recent letter that said “if we offer you a job it’s expected you’ll accept.” Where are these people getting the absolute gall to just state the absurd expectations as though they are a guarantee?

      1. Beth Jacobs*

        Or today’s letter where the LW was shocked that her direct report wasn’t willing to continue working at Company unless she got paid.

        Employment is a pretty easy concept: you trade work for money. It’s ridiculous to assume you can get one without the other.

  15. I need cheesecake*

    #1 Decent people don’t judge each other on difficult circumstances outside their control – and you shouldn’t judge yourself on that either. The answer to whether or not you are a ‘slacker’ doesn’t lie in whether you are at the mercy of uncontrollably unreliable transport, so it’s ok to stop looking for it there yourself.

    In general I would say it’s the rest of the time that matters – like if you are competent, cooperative and helpful to work with. But also, you’re new! Learning a new job can be exhausting. Trying to overly compensate by showing you’re a good worker sounds pretty exhausting.

    When you’re new, and when you’re disabled, it can feel tricky that the people you need support from – to succeed, to get accommodations or flexibility – are also people you’re trying to impress. But try to remember that you won’t be the only person with anything that needs to be worked around, unless it’s a tiny company. It can feel like it’s just you! But it’s unlikely to be a whole company of people perfectly working their hours and only you having any issue – there will almost certainly be people with childcare issues or medical appointments.

    Maybe it’s worth looking at how tasks are assigned and communicated, in case there’s a system that would work better. Like if people email and wait for a reply, maybe that’s not the best way. And make sure you leave clear information about what you’re doing and where you’re up to, if that’s relevant.

    I also just want to acknowledge that, yes, you do have more to overcome, you and I and anyone else who has extra barriers in their way due to being disabled, that life can be harder and more exhausting and that this isn’t fair. None of this is fair, and it also isn’t your fault or a reflection on your productivity.

    1. OP #1*

      Thank you for this kind and compassionate comment, cheesecake (and for this excellent alliterative opportunity :))

      In particular, I will try to keep your third/middle paragraph in mind.

  16. I need cheesecake*

    #5 “ I’m not really sure what there is to gain or what I would even say”

    Exactly, and this is why you should wait. I know it’s hard not to hear back! But they won’t forget to hire you. And if you haven’t been successful, emailing them isn’t going to change that. So there isn’t really anything to gain.

    A week really isn’t long even though it feels like an age to you. All it takes is one urgent project, or one person who’s away, or whatever. You didn’t need to ask about their timeline – the answer to this almost never plays out in reality. It’s understandable to want to know next steps but you don’t need to know – you’ll hear about them if they happen. Certainty can feel really comforting, even if it’s false, but I’m afraid you can’t fix the current uncertainty – try to put it out of your mind and move on.

    Signed, someone who got their job offer 6 weeks late

    1. concur*

      LW 5 – Nobody likes waiting, and 1 week is not a huge amount of time in the grand scheme of things. However, if you are interested in the job, I’ve had success letting the recruiter know I remain interested and look forward to hearing from them whenever a hiring decision is made if I’m not getting a response beyond 1 week after the expected time the interviewer provided. Even if you are not selected, they will remember you are anticipating to know either way. IF you are really keen and otherwise informed on the compensation, you could even be cheeky enough to say – I’d accept without hesitation if you offered it to me. Fortune favors the bold. Best of luck.

    2. BRR*

      This is where I land on the issue every time someone asks about it. As everyone has said, a week isn’t that long for hiring. It’s completely possible they didn’t even interview the other finalists until a week after your interview.

      But even if it’s been longer than a week. I still think don’t reach out (unless it’s something like you have another offer but this employer is your first choice). In an ideal world employers would give you a timeline and always adhere to it but that’s just not how things work. Assume you didn’t get the job and move on mentally.

  17. Green great dragon*

    LW3 – who was covering for you while you were away? Ask them first. And if they can’t explain it, get them to give all the timecards a hard look, and back you up if necessary when you have the conversations.

    1. AndersonDarling*

      I was wondering if there was another manager or director that stepped in and they were being generous by allowing the team to not clock their PTO. If the team reported to a VP or high ranking executive, then I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a wink-wink “You guys are working so hard! Don’t worry about clocking out for your wedding! It’s our gift to you!” agreement.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I could totally see this. Hourly staff at my old job often were allowed to do this for the occasional long lunch or important personal event that was 1-2 hrs.

        1. LinuxSystemsGuy*

          Even a day would not be totally unreasonable if their was some kind of unofficial “comp time” arrangement with a senior manager. “Hey BrideToBe I know you’re getting married next week, if you just stick around an extra hour or hour and half all this week, we’ll call it even”.

          I’m technically exempt, my position doesn’t get overtime or anything, but we use “hours” to track time for vacation and sick time purposes. My boss regularly rewards unexpected weekend time and on call stuff with a half day or day off at another time.

      2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And this is a very good argument in favor of checking in with whoever was covering for you while you were out. Was there an arrangement worked out for them to just this once flex a scheduled day or telework (assuming the job responsibilities allowed for that) that they forgot to mention to you?

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      Agreed. Seems like the fill-in manager would be the first person to talk to; then LW would know whether further action is needed.

  18. yuppers*

    Re OP#3, I agree with Alison that you need to make sure that there is actually a problem here before you come to any final conclusions and start making any accusations.

    New payroll systems are notoriously glitchy, and the employees themselves may not even have made the entires in question. They may also have worked extra hours to more than make up for their absences around the ceremony and the house move, and/or they may actually think their PTO has been used for that time when it hasn’t. (That is, that they believe the PTO has been entered into the system when it hasn’t been.)

    Also, if they’ve done long hours unpaid, and/or gone above and beyond during the pandemic, and/or taken pay cuts or been furloughed or anything like that, I think you need to cut them some slack.

    1. Grey Coder*

      Agree, we changed payroll/HR systems and a) things got lost in the transfer, and b) there was a period of time where management said “don’t book any time off because the system is moving”. Bad planning or bad system design, but there it was.

    2. Karou*

      I’m thinking it’s a system issue as well and LW3 should check that first. Two people committing time card fraud when they’ve openly been away from work seems unlikely (or they’re very inept criminals). The PTO system my own company uses is notoriously terrible for calculating how many days off we have left and not counting PTO taken.

      1. EPLawyer*

        My husband’s company granted him bereavement leave when my sister died (still not sure how you get bereavement leave for a sister in law but whatever). Except for SOME odd reasons they input the total he would be paid under the hours of bereavement leave instead of just putting the hours in. That was going to be a big check that week. Fortunately they caught it before it was actually issued. Although it meant no paycheck that week while they sorted it out.

        It would be odd for 2 employees to be so blatant. So start from the presumption its a system glitch and go from there. If you find out its time card fraud after all, deal with it appropriately. If its not, well a glitch was caught in the system that is necessary to know.

        1. Daisy-dog*

          Many bereavement policies do actually include in-laws of close family: parents, siblings, children, grandparents.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Bereavement leave where I work is your family and also your spouse’s family, as you will likely have to take off time to support your spouse when they loose a family member.

    3. doreen*

      I’m not sure it’s a system issue – but I don’t think two employees both suddenly became dishonest while the OP was on leave. I wonder if (at least in part) it’s not about getting paid for hours they didn’t work but rather moving hours around to get around some other issue. In a previous position (where I supervised people who worked at different locations) , I would pretty often run into employees whose time sheets were as far I knew accurate regarding the number of hours worked , but not regarding which days/times they were worked. For example, they would work 15 hours on Tuesday and report 7.5 hours Tuesday and 7.5 hours Wed ( to get around the 5 day workweek requirement) . Or they would report that they worked 8-4 on Tuesday when they actually worked 4-midnight on Tuesday. Courthouse weddings don’t necessarily take long, and I’ve heard enough people say ” We got married on our lunch hour” to believe it happens sometimes.

      1. EPLawyer*

        My concern would be the COMPANY was moving hours around to avoid paying overtime. If they are hourly, then if you worked 15 hours on Tuesday, depending on your state law you should be paid OT for anything over 8 even if you haven’t hit 14 yet. By saying 7.5 on Tuesday and 7.5 on Wednesday you are avoiding the OT. Which might be fraud of a different sort.

    4. Snappity*

      I JUST had this happen at my job – lots of changes in our org and my new leader called me in to her office because it looked like I had taken NO PTO for the year, and I definitely had. I had just looked up my used PTO dates for an unrelated reason that day, and saw them all, so I knew it was a reporting thing. Once a different report was selected or something it was all set, you could see all the dates. Before accusing, I would look into what else it could be (mine may have been related to being handed off to a new leader mid-year, with an extended leave, could that be a reason? Was someone else approving PTO?) before accusing your team of fraud.

    5. Observer*

      Also, if they’ve done long hours unpaid, and/or gone above and beyond during the pandemic, and/or taken pay cuts or been furloughed or anything like that, I think you need to cut them some slack.

      Yes and no. If they’ve worked any hours unpaid, they DEFINITELY. And then you need to stop that practice IMMEDIATELY. If they’ve taken a pay cut, no. They still can’t be allowed to lie about how much time they worked to get extra money.

    6. Man from the North*

      >I agree with Alison that you need to make sure that there is actually a problem here before you come to any final conclusions and start making any accusations.

      Bingo. This is a measure-twice, cut-once situation. Go in half-cocked accusing people, and it could do irreparable damage to your reputation as a manager (as it should). When you’re going to accuse someone (especially two people) of something like this, you need to be damned sure you’re right.

  19. Caroline Bowman*

    OP1 is a salutory reminder of the privilege I take for granted, of (more or less!) having the means at my disposal to go where I want, when I want.
    My husband works with a person who is paraplegic. It was as the result of an accident when he was a young man and the first thing his parents did was to pay an extortionate amount to get him a modified car. It’s a small car, nothing remotely fancy or special to look at, but it’s modified that he can safely and legally drive it and retrieve / pack his shopping and wheelchair under his own steam. The privilege of full independence is something I take for granted and I am 10000% certain that no one in their right mind would ever think of OP1 as a slacker or somehow remiss. You’re doing your best with the tools you have at hand and no more can be asked of you. I know it’s hard when you are naturally a punctual and diligent person, but this is one burden you may safely put down. Please try and mentally adjust to the fact that A/ you are doing brilliantly and B/ no one reasonable or sane would blame you for occasionally tardiness.

  20. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    LW1 – another thing to consider is it sounds very like you are early as often as you are late. If you are worried about the optics (though genuinely Alison is 100% correct and no reasonable person would think you are slacking) then you could talk to management about a more formal flexibility arrangement if a fixed-hours schedule doesn’t work. Clearly that depends on your role, coverage, etc, as well as the working hours/overtime laws in place where you are, but it might give you some peace of mind if you make a point of starting as soon as you arrive or working right up to the point where the paratransit arrives.

  21. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    LW1 – I agree no one should hold this against you. I also wanted to chime in that you mention “tasks shift every hour”. I don’t know exactly what that means but if you are really concerned, you could request a heavy task load in the middle of the day and lighter on both ends so that you know your main work tasks will fall during “safe” hours.

    1. OP #1*

      Yeah, I wasn’t totally sure how to explain the schedule stuff (I kind of want to stay anonymous though it might already be obvious if any of my managers were to read this) but I guess the relevant thing is that I do a bunch of different kinds of tasks and there is a bit of a time/shift element–as in, I can’t totally flex my schedule or start working early if I get there early–but it’s not super strict.

      I have thought about trying to organize my schedule such that I have an easier-to-leave task at the end of my workday, but I think it might be more trouble than it’s worth. Might be something to consider if problems persist, though.

    2. Coenobita*

      Yep, that made me think of my library job, where you’re on the front desk for an hour, then in the back doing discharge and answering the phone for an hour, then roaming around pulling holds for an hour, etc. If someone needs to hurry to get the bus or whatever, the supervisor just makes sure they aren’t on the front desk right at the end of their shift. No problem!

  22. Mel*

    #2 is pretty common in healthcare. Many places now say “sign on for X dollars for X years” and if you leave prior to that contract ending, you have to pay a portion of it back to recoup those training funds.
    In fact, there’s a giant corporation who is known to sue to acquire those funds…it’s a known problem in my world that employees don’t have enough power to fight back on.

  23. Coco*

    My mother has epilepsy. Although she has (thankfully) been seizure free for many years, her doctor agrees she should never drive again. The suburb she lives in discontinued their fixed route bus system in favor of an “on demand” service that runs via an app. This service is very similar to Paratranist and has a lot of the same problems. The service starts booking rides 12 hours in advance, and if you don’t book ASAP, they will tell you the schedule is full for the day. Oddly enough they always seem to overbook. She has waited up to an hour for her ride. Occasionally the app will automatically cancel her ride for no reason whatsoever. Customer service is not helpful. It’s been 6 months and they still can’t “work out the bugs”. Winter is quickly approaching and I imagine this problem will get much worse as we live in a very snowy area. My mom is not “technically” or legally disabled and this isn’t paratransit (just crappy public transit). So her employer has been less then thrilled.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      Consider reporting this to the US Department of Transportation office of civil rights. When the service is so bad it’s basically nonexistent, that can venture into unlawful territory.

      1. Coco*

        It’s a private transportation company. Neither run, nor regulated by state or local government. I imagine they have to follow DOT safety requirements. I don’t think “unreliable” would be something the DOT could address. Perhaps I am wrong though.

    2. bamcheeks*

      fwiw, this would definitely meet the description of disabled in UK law. I don’t know whether that is true in your country or whether changes anything about her entitlement, but that’s a very narrow definition of disability if epilepsy which prevents you driving isn’t included!

      1. doreen*

        I’m not going to say that epilepsy isn’t a disability or can’t be a disability – but eligibility for paratransit in the US typically requires that a person be unable to use the general public transportation . For example, they can’t walk to the bus stop, or manage the stairs to the train station or can’t tolerate heat or cold while waiting for the bus or train ( and if it’s the heat/cold thing, the person might be eligible based on the temperature on that particular day.) And the paratransit service only has to provide the level of service that public transportation provides – if the buses stop running at midnight , so can the paratransit. If people taking regular public transit can only book their rides 12 hours before and might be told there isn’t any room , then it’s perfectly legal for that to happen to paratransit riders. It seems that Coco’s mother’s suburb provides the same service to everyone, disabled or not , so it’s unlikely that it will be found to be discriminatory.

        1. Observer*

          That’s true. But it could very well matter in term’s her discussion with her employers. Because if you live in an area with terrible transit, employers will often expect you to get a car and drive – and in many situations that’s not an unreasonable expectation. But Coco’s mom can’t do that. And that, to some extent, is the issue that she could talk to them about.

    3. Aquawoman*

      Are you sure she’s not legally disabled? The definition I’ve always heard is a medical condition that impacts major life activities, and I think driving is a major life activity.

      1. Sea Anemone*

        There’s not really any such thing as “legally disabled,” at least not in the US. That is, you don’t go in front a judge, provide proof that a major life activity is impacted, and get a Disability Affidavit. It’s more that if you need an accommodation for a service based on disability, you need to provide proof, and the standard of proof varies depending on what kind of service you are requesting. For example, requesting an accommodation at work for flexible start/stop times requires a doctor to affirm that you have a disability that requires the use of paratransit. OTOH, applying for medical disability payments requires significant documentation and a lawyer to show that there is no job you can do with or without more training.

        Plus, driving is not a major life activity. Going from place to place might be considered a major life activity, but driving is not. Lots of people don’t drive.

        1. Observer*

          Plus, driving is not a major life activity. Going from place to place might be considered a major life activity, but driving is not. Lots of people don’t drive.

          That doesn’t necessarily make it not a life activity – in places without decent public transportation, the inability to drive affects basic mobility. That’s a life activity.

    4. Observer*

      My mom is not “technically” or legally disabled

      I’m not sure why you would say that. She has a medical condition which seems to be interfering with an “activity of daily life”.

      1. Coco*

        My mom is 65 and hasn’t had a seizure in 30 years. She stopped taking seizure medication about 10 years go. She could probably legally get a drivers license. But her doctor is against it, just in case. She hasn’t driven since she was in high school. She’s pretty set in her ways, plus I honestly don’t think she could manage it.

  24. OP #1*

    Hello, paratransit OP here. Thank you Alison for answering my question and all the folks who have commented so far.

    Alison, I like the idea of doing a big-picture conversation and wish I had done one earlier on. I’ve explained aspects of the paratransit system in bits and bobs over time, so at this point, I feel like a big-picture conversation would feel a bit repetitive. I think it would have been most effective to do a big-picture conversation early on and then move on from the topic, so that’s something to consider for the future. For now, I think I’m going to try to move on (I want to be known for something other than disability/adjustments/answering endless Qs about my wheelchair!!) and just bring it up if/when more serious issues happen.

    A few people have noted that 10 minutes is not a big deal. I commented above that yesterday I left my desk 8 minutes early to do a couple of things before I left (which is pretty normal/common/fine) and thought back to this letter/incident. I think I felt so humiliated by this (the event I wrote about) because it felt like once again my disability/bad accessibility was putting me on the spot and making me look bad. Reading through these comments helped put that amount of time in perspective. Hopefully, that will make it easier to deal with next time this happens.

    Another thing that might be relevant is that I had a previous workplace that was *very* strict about time (leaving 10 minutes early would have gotten me a warning, three times and it’s a write-up) and while my current job is much more relaxed I don’t have a solid sense of what is reasonable or standard in this regard.

    1. Lab Boss*

      It’s easy for all of us to say 10 minutes is no big deal because any of us would be *choosing* to leave 10 minutes early, even if it was for an emergency. You had no choice, and having that agency taken away is absolutely an understandable reason to feel unhappy about it. With any luck your new workplace will treat you with professional understanding and give you a bit of grace about things out of your control :)

    2. Another Random Internet Person*

      This doesn’t resolve the issue but I do want to note that it’s awful you’re put into this position in the first place. I often wish we could choose where our tax money goes, as I’d happily support paying into properly funded accessibility resources.

  25. Just Somebody*

    #2 – As already mentioned, this is a pretty standard clause. I’m in school for a career change and my company won’t give me the reimbursement until the program is finished and then I have to stay a year after. However, about a month ago I became unhappy and wanted to start a job search. I haven’t even had interviews yet so there’s no worries at the moment, but believe me I’m starting to freak out about what will happen if I don’t get a promotion and get an offer elsewhere before the year is up once I get the reimbursement, and will I burn a bridge with Current Job.

    I was very happy at my current job when I went for the reimbursement, so it’s kind of like a “go figure this is happening to me now” type of thing. Of course maybe I will get promoted and this will end up being moot….

    1. Colette*

      It’s only standard for things like university programs, or perhaps professional certifications. If you do a one-day training on something for work, it’s very much outside of the norm to require repayment.

  26. mdv*

    LW #1 – if you are in the United States, almost every paratransit agency in the country (except the one I run, LOL) adheres to the ADA mandated 30-minute window — which means up to 15 minutes before or after your scheduled pick-up time. 20 minutes is an unusual number, and I would double check that the policies of the transit agency actually say that, and that it isn’t just something the service provider, or dispatcher/scheduler/driver if not contracted out, has decided in their mind is better. (The employees of our contracted service provider make up their own things sometimes, not realizing that they are violating federal law when they do — very frustrating!)

    At the very least, send in a written complaint detailing the times when it was outside the window, so that a manager can check what is going on. Maybe they just got there early? But maybe there is something else going on that the manager needs to figure out / know about.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Are you sure that’s the federal requirement? The resource Alison linked to says ADA requires a much bigger window:

      The ride must come within one hour of the requested time. (For example, if you request a pick-up at 8 a.m., the paratransit service must arrive no earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 9 a.m.)

      Maybe your state has a more strict law?

      1. mdv*

        The actual language of the federal law specifies the 30-minute window for actual arrival of the vehicle. The 2-hour window is for reasonable accommodations, i.e. if they don’t have space available at the time you requested, they must schedule you within the one hour before/after … and then, the 30 minute arrival window is keyed off of THAT time.

    2. Camellia*

      I had never heard of paratransit so I followed the link provided, and it says within one hour, EITHER WAY, as I’ve quoted below. That’s a TWO HOUR window, not the ADA-mandated thirty minute window that you mention in your comment. Do you know why this is so different?

      “The ride must come within one hour of the requested time. (For example, if you request a pick-up at 8 a.m., the paratransit service must arrive no earlier than 7 a.m. and no later than 9 a.m.).:

      1. Miss Mississippi*

        The ride must be SCHEDULED within one hour of the requested time. (e.g. If you ask for a 9:00 am pick up, you must be offered a pick up time between 8:00 am – 10:00 am.)

        The pick up window is the time the ride arrives. If the pick up window is 15 minutes +/- and the pick up time is 9:15 am, the ride will arrive between 9:00 am – 9:30 am.

    3. OP #1*

      Hmm, that’s interesting. The paratransit here definitely says a 20-minute window (I just checked the website to be sure) but they also say that you need to be ready to go 5 minutes before the window (which seems a bit odd–isn’t the purpose of a window to tell you when you need to be ready to go?)

      Sometimes I have considered making a fuss (to the town that runs it, to be clear, not to the individual drivers/frontline workers–I don’t know how much info/control they have and I would never get mad at support workers) but I truly don’t have reason to think it would make a difference and I suspect it would just be a lot of wasted time/effort/stress on my part. I realize that’s probably an unsatisfying response–I know people like to cheer people on as they do something about something–but I think it’s the best choice for me right now.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I have a friend who drives for paratransit and definitely none of this is on them. They get assigned too many rides to possibly complete in a day because the agency assumes cancellations (which are not actually all that common overall) and ridiculously short estimates of time between stops (apparently in the agency’s world traffic is always like 2 am on a Sunday). For the drivers it is also incredibly frustrating and they often feel like they are always doing a bad job because they are so often off schedule, but it is quite literally impossible to stay on schedule without a teleporter. The system is jacked up here because it is private agencies basically milking every penny possible out of Medicare and Medicaid by cutting the costs to the detriment of clients and employees.

        1. mdv*

          That may be true in some agencies, but is not something you can expect in all agencies. In our local paratransit service, the service provider must schedule all the rides they can accomplish with capacity, but they also allow people to add rides into open windows of time on a space available basis.

          1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

            Oh yeah, definitely. I’m sure it varies by jurisdiction. I was speaking specifically to my state where they privatized the whole paratransit system and quality fell off a cliff, employee turnover shot through the roof, and the private equity firms that bought the companies are the only ones who are happy. I should have been more clear that my comment was in reference to where I live.

      2. mdv*

        OP #1 – if you’d like to get knowledgeable input from someone not in your own area, I will let Alison know that she can share my contact info with you!

  27. anonymous73*

    #2 – it depends on the type of training. If it’s something that is offered and available to everyone in the company (or relevant employees depending on the type of training), then it shouldn’t have to be reimbursed. But if you’re pursuing a certification or a degree, that will not only benefit your current company, but also help you long term, then yes it’s common to have to pay it back if you leave right away after it’s obtained.
    #3 – I would leave it alone. It sounds like you’re making a lot of assumptions and it’s not really any of your business. Are you perhaps feeling like all eyes are on you because you took your time off and didn’t work (like you’re supposed to do) and these others had big life events and chose to work during the events instead of taking time off? Regardless of the reason, unless you know facts first hand AND those facts point to illegal behavior, let it go.
    #5 – I know it’s torture waiting to hear about a job (I was laid off for 9 months recently and it drove me up a wall), but if you’ve never been on the other end of hiring, it’s hard to understand why it takes so long sometimes. There are so many reasons there could be a delay, and while yes they could be ghosting you, don’t assume this after only a week.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Your point to #3 has been discussed above, but this person is the manager. It is their business. They would get in trouble for being negligent about possible fraud.

    2. anonymous73*

      Just realized after reading other comments that #3 is the manager. Oops. Please ignore my comment.

    3. Aquawoman*

      Please tell me I’m misreading your comment re #3 and you didn’t say that people should work rather than taking maternity leave. As someone who’s been married twice and given birth once, I can assure you these are not equivalent life events in terms of the need for time off.

      1. bamcheeks*

        I think it’s “you took time off (you’re supposed to take time off)” rather than “you didn’t work (you’re supposed to work)”. But I agree it’s ambiguous and I had to read it twice to work it out!

      2. anonymous73*

        Yes you are misreading it, and if you read my other comment I missed the fact that she is the manager, so my comment is moot. And I never said getting married was the same as giving birth, but thanks for reading a lot of things I didn’t say into my comment. Wow.

  28. Me*

    LW# just to add to the chorus, I nor anyone I work with would even think to have an issue with you because the transportation you rely on operates unpredictably and totally out of your control.

    Please take it to heart – no one is faulting you. No one cares about the 10 minutes. No one thinks it’s a failing on your part.

    All that said, I would file a complaint every single time it’s late. A few minutes is one thing. An occasional unpredictable delay is one thing. Consistently showing up wildly off schedule is not and they should be doing something about it.

  29. Above My Paygrade*

    re: OP#1 and Paratransit – Who knows, maybe your coworkers’ experience of seeing a capable co-worker subject to the whims of unreliable paratransit will make them all fervent supporters of universal design and full funding of accessible transit?

    Probably not.

    Is your employer big enough that HR has any disability expertise? Have you had conversations about disability framed as laying out needed accommodations? If you start to get any looks from supervisors, might you formalize that you have “flexible scheduling due to paratransit timing” as an accommodation (or adjustment, if you’re in the UK?) .

    The thing is, EVERYONE gets “accommodations” so they can work, we just don’t call them accommodations for most requests. They’re just “Good employers are flexible to help good employees be productive and healthy.” Remember that every time you start feeling guilty about YOUR accommodation!

    1. OP #1*

      > maybe your coworkers’ experience of seeing a capable co-worker subject to the whims of unreliable paratransit will make them all fervent supporters of universal design and full funding of accessible transit?

      We can hope!

      > Is your employer big enough that HR has any disability expertise? Have you had conversations about disability framed as laying out needed accommodations?

      Yes and yes, though so far it’s been less formal (working with managers on adjustments rather than the HR process/documentation). I’m a public sector worker so HR is in a totally different building across town and I haven’t had much contact with them, but it might be a good idea to get this documented as a formal thing.

      >The thing is, EVERYONE gets “accommodations” so they can work, we just don’t call them accommodations for most requests. They’re just “Good employers are flexible to help good employees be productive and healthy.” Remember that every time you start feeling guilty about YOUR accommodation!

      This is a really good point, and I will keep it in mind.

      Thank you for your comment!

  30. Skl*

    LW4 & Allison: Negotiating severance even when you quit is a thing. Read Financial Samurai and others.

    1. Pterodactylate*

      Except Financial Samurai is an investing blog and this is a career/management/employment-focused advice column. Just because financial samurai posted about people negotiating severances in order to have more money for investing doesn’t mean that it doesn’t reflect poorly on the person and their future career to ask for money in exchange for quitting/not doing work.

      1. Pterodactylate*

        Lol I just read the financial samurai post about his wife negotiating her severance and yeah if you’re doing early retirement sure you have nothing to lose (unless it doesn’t come through and then you’re in an even worse position) but otherwise that’s a heck of a way to burn every bridge around you career-wise. What a wacky site that is!

  31. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    #2 – I like Alison’s answer, but with one small carve-out.

    Companies who invest in migrating to a large ERP system (SAP, Oracle, etc) often get a number of their staff trained for configuration, customization, integration, and operations. This is months of training, side-by-side work with the vendor implementation team, etc. And then almost immediately after they are trained, they get poached by consultants who offer 100%+ increases in salary.

    I think it’s reasonable for an employer to institute some kind of payback scheme for situations like this, because not only are they out lots of money for the training, but they also got very little benefit from it, and their plans for getting the ERP off the ground are destroyed if all the in-house staff who are supposed to manage the system leave.

    1. Colette*

      Would the employer be OK if their staff refused the training because they didn’t want to pay it back?

      1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

        If they all refuse, then the company ponies up the money for the consultants – probably costs more, probably puts the jobs of some of those employees at risk. But at least the project that the entire organization is going to rely on gets done.

        1. Colette*

          So how does that benefit the employer?

          Frankly, if my company were implementing a new system and told me they’d only train me on it if I agreed to pay back the cost of the training, I’d find a new job. That’s very out of the norm.

        2. louvella*

          Do you think there would be consequences for people refusing? That would be my concern! I would never say yes to training that I would have to pay my employer back for, but I would be afraid there would be consequences.

          1. Whimsical Gadfly*

            It was a condition for hiring at one job my husband had, so sometimes at least there would be consequences.

    2. bamcheeks*

      this seems like a terrible way to meet that end, to be honest!

      If acquiring the accreditation means you can command 100% more by changing job, the company needs to start paying existing employees 100% more when they complete the accreditation, or something close to it. If the gap is really that big, half your staff are going to eat the costs of leaving– even if the cost of training is literally the same as someone’s annual income, the staff who leave for that higher paid job will be better off in their second year of that new job, and if the company has to hire replacements on the same open market they’re going to be paying the higher rate AND they’ve paid for the training AND they’ve lost all that institutional knowledge AND paid the costs of hiring AND whatever admin fees is involved in chasing up the staff who’ve left to get the costs paid back.

      If the outcome you want is, “We pay existing staff to get the accreditation and they stay and work for us”, relying on them paying back the training costs if they leave seems like a mathematically bad way to go about it!

  32. JohannaCabal*

    In every city I’ve worked in, the paratransit services have sucked (one was notoriously bad and the local paper did an investigative series on it that also found numerous incidents of drivers harming passengers with cognitive disabilities).

    I can also imagine that it’s gotten worse due to driver shortages (see recent reports about school bus driver shortages). Honestly, I’m generally skeptical about automated driving but paratransit is one area that I’m looking forward to seeing automated (I have MS so this is something I think about quite a bit although my mobility is currently fine but who knows about the future).

    1. mdv*

      Accessibility is an area where the potential for future automated driver-less vehicles will eventually be incredible, if it can be made to work!

  33. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    LW#1’s situation is a reason why ALL of us should support and advocate for better transit for everyone in their communities. As a worker with a disability, I dread having to be in a similar situation, but am fortunate and privileged to be able to work from home.

  34. Carol the happy elf*

    Not only that, if another coworker shows snark, your teammates can shut it down for you, and be happy to do it.
    (I had a time where my choices for a work-look were scarves, bald, or a cheesy wig. A transfer between areas exposed me to some unkind comments behind my back. My coworkers went to thrift shops and bought cheap wigs, had them cleaned and “styled”, and wore those hot, scratchy things all week.
    I felt safe there. One male coworker also brought in his late wife’s prosthetic bras, and “chicken cutlets” in several sizes, which can seem like a problem, but in those days prosthetics weren’t covered at all. You were supposed to be grateful to be alive….)

    1. Carol the happy elf*

      Edit: the wigged coworkers were being supportive; they weren’t the one commenting rudely. And “Jonathan”, who had just lost his wife a year earlier, hadn’t been able to get rid of her things. He brought a large box of her things, including beautiful blouses that disguised the “issues”. We didn’t wear street clothes at work, so it had been painfully obvious that “Lefty” had left the building. Supervisors had let me wear a sweater with ruffles, but still.

      We all will come to disability in the end; for some of us it comes earlier and lasts longer. When we’re given a chance, most people will have empathy, really, and that’s a powerful emotion that brings us together as a majority.

  35. irene adler*

    IMHO, I find there’s nothing to be gained from checking in with an employer post-interview. They will just blow sunshine up your skirt, so to speak.
    First, when I’ve waited 3-4 weeks after the final interview to check in, they tell me they are still in the hiring process. AND- without exception-they tell me that I’m definitely still ‘in the running’ for the position. Which gets my hopes up.

    This is followed by complete radio silence 90% of the time. The other 10% immediately issue a rejection email.
    (sometimes followed by a survey to rate my experience with the hiring process. They say it is anonymous. I doubt that. )

    They will reach out to the candidate they wish to pursue.

    1. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      It’s regrettably like dating. If your phone’s not buzzing, they’re just not that into you. Next!

  36. Missouri Girl in LA*

    #1. I read all the comments about paratransit service and, while none surprised me, I’m still appalled. I’m trying to figure out the best way to address and encourage people but it seems as though my explanation falls short (and, like a post from yesterday, I will ramble). Caveat: I’ve been in the transit business for 25+ years, working for large and small agencies in the US.

    In the US, paratransit services are operated by a public entity. Whether it’s a city-run transit system, a regional system, or a human services provider. The actual provider may be a private entity but it’s over seen by the public agency. It is also a shared-ride system (meaning you aren’t guaranteed to be in the vehicle by yourself). As much as I even hate to say this, we have a huge issue in the US-people who do not understand transit in general, why it is needed, and why it needs to be funded properly. Most of the funds go to capacity on highways and roads (which just encourages more) and people believe that riding a bus is “bad”. Do not get me wrong-I drive an SUV because I train dogs, but if I could figure out how to get a bus from where I live to where work, I’d be on it. my point…several thoughts. 1. Does the agency that operates paratransit have a citizen advisory committee-type system where there are representatives of the disabled community on the committee? If so, there’s an outlet. 2. Have you spoken to the agency’s manager of ADA/paratransit services/chief operations officer? 3. Can you ride a regular bus? In the US, buses must have a wheelchair lifts/ramps. 4. Can you find an ally with the agency’s board or staff member? Or within the community? 5. Last resort (and, as a staffer, the one thing I personally dred) Congressional delegation. Not state reps or senators but the US delegation. I might have some more ideas, but this is what I have right now.

    Not knowing where you’re at and what the agency in charge may be, I can’t say much more. I will say this (and this is fact and not to make excuses). All transit agencies, in the US, are facing driver shortages and parts issues. Serious driver shortages. We face funding issues constantly. We are accused of mismanaging funds all the time. We are under fire. Some of it is legit; a lot of it is not.

    You have a legitimate issue but I will leave everybody with this: it costs about $65-$90/hour to provide paratransit services and generally the fare runs from $1.75-$3.25 (average span). Costs are very high (and no, Uber and Lyft are not the answer but that’s a discussion for another day).

    I will try to monitor this particular thread. I wish there was a way to share an email address if people have honest questions. I am a transit nerd and activist and I believe in educating and helping people understand what I do. Unfortunately, many times, it just denigrates into something else. I believe in transit because I know it does make such a difference in millions of peoples’ lives throughout the world. We need it. Bottom line. We need it.

    1. OP #1*

      This is a long comment and I’m probably not going to be able to respond to everything you brought up but here are a couple of notes:

      –I talked about this a bit above, but raising any kind of complaint requires a fair bit of time/energy/stress that I’m just not in a position to devote to this issue. I understand that this may be frustrating or sound defeatist. I actually don’t view this as a pessimistic position (I’m a pretty optimistic person!); rather, it’s me making a choice to preserve my energy and wellbeing for other things. I am involved in a fair bit of disability advocacy, but I’ve learned to be strategic about where to put my efforts–and I don’t feel that this is the place I can be effective.

      –In my case, though the regular buses have wheelchair ramps/securement areas, there are no accessible routes to/from bus stops near either my house or my workplace (long distances over steep hills that I can’t safely navigate in my wheelchair–as in, my front wheels start to lift up/tip backward because it’s so steep).

      –Also (and I don’t think it’s that relevant to this discussion but it might be interesting to a self-described transit nerd) the paratransit in my town, and indeed all public transit, is free. I guess it’s maybe a bit relevant in that I might be even more annoyed by the schedule stuff if I were paying for it!

    2. Me*

      Just adding that there are elected officials responsible well below the congressional level. In my county its the County Executive and County Council.

    3. OyHiOh*

      Four years ago, the head of our city transit system came up with a long term strategic and comprehensive plan for city, school, and paratransport services. He’s been trying ever since to get city council to agree to implementing the plan.

      Two weeks ago, at a city council candidate forum, one of our young bright leaders (who has since dropped out of the race after being appointed to an executive director position that would have put him in conflict with city council duties) told a brief story about being asked a question about city transit and not knowing the answer. “But I know who would know the answer, so I called up the Transit office and do you know, there’s a plan for A, B, and C . . . ” This was extremely embarrassing to two seated council members at the same forum, running for reelection, who had to admit that they somehow didn’t know this plan existed.

      Sometimes, our elected officials need to get out of the way of their department heads and let the people who really do know their subject matter get it done.

    4. mdv*

      Hello, fellow transit nerd! I help operate a transit system in your region of origin (not the same state, but a neighboring one), and this is a topic I am always down to discuss! I sent Alison an email approving her to give out my info on this topic… if you are interested in connecting, please reach out to her to get it!

  37. Software Engineer*

    I have only seen people who resigned getting paid after they stopped working when it’s a non-compete issue… basically ‘we don’t want you to start working for our competitors until three months so your insider info gets stale, stay home and we’ll pay you.’

    In Germany this is what they do, they can’t just leave you out in the cold and say they’ll sue you if you go work for X. There’ a required three month notice period and for people who they’re worried about in relation to non-compete they tell them to go home and enjoy the paid time off

  38. Observer*

    #1 – Please reach out to the management of your paratransit provider and see what they can do. They are NOT supposed to be this flaky about pickup times.

    Find out who funds and oversees them and see what it would take to kick it upstairs if they can’t help you.

    My sympathies – what they are SUPPOSED to do and what they ACTUALLY do are not always the same and it’s often not easy to get this stuff corrected. But most people understand this.

  39. Meagan*

    OP 1, I feel your pain. I’ve worked at jobs where my paratransit use was frowned upon (these were also the sorts of jobs that required precise punctuality for no operationally logical reason, it was mostly a gocha thing), but for the most part, reasonable managers and coworkers will respond with compassion. They know it’s not your fault, they see you waiting around for ages to go home at night, so they know you’re an unlucky user of a service that was designed with the core idea that disabled people never need to be anywhere on time. Be gentle with yourself. As long as you’ve explained how the system works to your team and your manager, I don’t think you have anything to worry about.

  40. LibraryLady*

    FWIW, I used to work with someone who was disabled and couldn’t drive, he relied on a similar system, plus friends and family to get him to and from work. Occasionally the same thing happened to him, he would have to leave a few minutes early. Literally no one cared. He was a fantastic employee, it wasn’t worth it to anyone to make a big deal over the fact that he occasionally had to clock out a few minutes early.

  41. Abogado Avocado*

    LW#1: Please don’t stress about paratransit’s untimeliness reflecting on you. I’ve worked with users of paratransit and its untimeliness is a constant issue, I suspect, in virtually every place it operates. Every manager I’ve ever worked with understands that if the paratransit users were in control, their buses and vans would probably arrive ahead of time, let alone on time!

    Once, when one of my co-workers was apologizing for paratransit having made them late again, of course our management said it wasn’t within their control and not to worry, and was there anything management could do. And my co-worker said, “You know, it could be helpful at the next round of budget hearings (for the transit agency) if our office could submit a letter stating that more funding for para-transit is necessary because the service is rarely on time and that impacts those who rely on paratransit.” It really was a brilliant idea and the office did it, which helped get a smidgen more funding for the paratransit service.

    You don’t need to be an activist if you don’t want to be, so please don’t take this story as compelling anything on your part. My point only is that if more employers whose employees use paratransit advocated for the service, I suspect timeliness and funding would be less of an issue.

  42. Mia*

    For #2, when I was in my second job just out of college, my manager was so pissed at me leaving she tried to get me to pay for training she sent me to since it hadn’t been a year since I had taken it. She threw a hissy fit and then brought me into her office and told me companies expect me to stick around for at least a year after they pay for training. She had lost three of her employees in a short period of time and put in my performance review that I wasn’t happy so she wasn’t the best manager.

  43. MelonHelen*

    LW3, this is what I would assume happened if this happened at my office. Our pto requests and accruals are tracked electronically. An employee who wants to schedule time off goes into this system to request it on a calendar tied to the system. When that’s done, the request gets sent to their boss, who has to okay it. Only then is it entered to pay out, and noted on the calendar. The confirmation ok gets sent to the employee as an email.

    But the pto requests ONLY go to the person’s boss. If this happened at my office, I would assume that switching the permissions to Temporary Boss forgot to be done before you went on leave. Meaning any requests an employee makes gets sent to your account and basically stays in limbo. At some point this would have been realized, and likely what would be done is an agreement made to stay clocked in for part or most of the day so they could be paid, and (if they are long time employees), it would just be considered a one off due to unusual circumstances. But everyone in my department is salary, and I *think* you said your employees were hourly. That wouldn’t fly in that case.

    So don’t make assumptions, ask.

  44. OP #1*

    Another update: in a move perhaps best described as “thematically appropriate” paratransit came more than 20 min before the window to take me to work this afternoon.

    I’m trying to keep in mind the pickup windows others on here have talked about that are quite a bit longer than the service here, and also it’s not as bad going to work early than leaving early. But it’s still tough (and of COURSE it happens the day this letter publishes).

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Sounds so frustrating.

      But remember … this early trip to the office means you can build up a few extra minutes in your mental tally, so leaving early on another day won’t feel so egregious.

  45. Mimmy*

    I’m a paratransit user and I completely understand the concerns about having to leave early as well as all the other hiccups that seem inherent with the service.

    I haven’t set foot on paratransit since March of 2020, but what I used to do was try to schedule my pickup windows to and from work so that I’m not too late for work and, at the end of the day, my return ride isn’t before when the daytime staff can leave. It’s a real balancing act, though, because sometimes I’m either ungodly early or super late to work, or I’m left waiting at work well past my pickup window.

    I stress out in the mornings because I teach in a voc rehab program and I’m the only instructor of my discipline. So when I’m running late, I panic. Thankfully, many other staff at my facility are also paratransit users, including my supervisor, so they get it. Doesn’t make it any easier though.

    I know problems with paratransit exist pretty much everywhere but the agency you lose can be a bit soul-crushing. It’s one thing when you’re stuck in traffic in your own car or on a fixed-route bus. It’s another when your paratransit driver’s route is scheduled so nonsensically that you’re on the vehicle for well over an hour before getting to your destination, which by the way, is only 10-15 minutes from home!

    In short, just do the best you can with the scheduling, be the best you can be at your job, and all should go smoothly.

  46. glitter writer*

    LW5 — my organization has left a candidate hanging for three weeks after a final interview just now. We did, in fact, have another candidate we liked slightly better, and offered them the job, but they took a week to consider it and then turned us down, so we’re excited to be able to offer it to the second candidate. They were also very good, and I hope they take our offer! So it taking a while is not necessarily a bad sign for you, even if they do have other candidates they like. Although I’m sorry it’s frustrating.

    (I once waited a month after a final interview to find out I’d gotten a position; the hiring manager was out of the country for three weeks. Oops.)

  47. TiredMama*

    LW 4. Also check with whoever the temp manager was at the time. Maybe they made some agreement with the employees that you do not know about it. As an employee, it feels pretty crappy when a manager comes to you implying a problem when you had approval or direction from another higher up.

  48. Alexis Rosay*

    Re the paratransit, it sounds like it will all even out over time. If you were consistently arriving late and leaving early that wouldn’t be great, but it sounds like you’ll have other days where you could work past 5pm or start a few minutes early.

    Plus, the amount of time we’re talking here would be reasonable even if the reason were in your control, as long as it wasn’t a consistent pattern of arriving late/leaving early. You could easily leave 10 min early because you have to make it to an appointment and as long as your job isn’t coverage-based, that sounds extremely normal.

  49. AngelicGamer, the Visually Impared Peep*

    OP 1, as a disabled person, I have given up on paratransit. I have started using Uber exclusively and I do not have any issues. Mind you, I am a legally blind individual and I do not have the issues that others due via wheelchair use. But paratransit is not going to change and, sadly, you need to look into your options if your boss / company is not going to give you flexibility.

    1. OP #1*

      Ugh, I’m sorry to hear that. I used Lyft a bit in a previous place I lived, though with a wheelchair it can be pretty difficult to find a vehicle that can take my chair (and then there’s the issue of someone without experience handling my chair… eek!) In the town I live in now there aren’t very many Uber/Lyft drivers and the good thing about paratransit (and all public transit) is that it’s free, so for now I think that’s my best bet.

      I’m able to get rides from roommates sometimes, but it’s pretty dependent on my schedule lining up with theirs (I work part-time, they’re full-time) so for now I’m focusing on organizing stuff such that I can carpool like that more often.

  50. LilyP*

    I also wanna say for OP#1, sadly you probably will encounter some people in your professional life that will be unreasonable, rude, petty, or judgemental about these kinds of minor inconveniences and will try to make them about your disability or about disabled people in general. I hope this comment thread helps set you up to see that as something about *them*, and them using random mishaps as cover to mouth off about their ableist prejudices, and not anything you did wrong or could’ve prevented.

  51. Paisley*

    OP#5 – Alison is right. Sometimes the HR person (or hiring manager) is swamped and things get away from them. I just got back from vacation and need to setup some interviews and the applicants know that they were supposed to hear this week. I am so swamped I haven’t even gotten close to seeting up those interviews, so they probably think they didn’t make the cut. I don’t even have time to send them an email saying things will be a little delayed. I got back, my boss had all these fires we had to put out (i.e. I had to put out) and I haven’t even had a chance to look at the file with the resumes of the shortlist. It sucks, but it’s reality.

    I hope you hear soon!

  52. DH*

    #2 – This actually is not unusual. I’ve worked a couple of different place where you had a pro-rated payback for training if you left the company w/in a certain amount of time following the training. Usually the training was a multi day training held in a different state (or city) and so involved airfare, hotel, meals, transportation and cost of training. if you have an employee who takes advantage of that training and then leaves the company soon after – who exactly is getting the benefit of the training? certainly not the company that paid for it.

  53. Ana Ng*

    So, is there an opportunity for a reliable paratransit company, or is paratransit unreliable by nature due to not knowing how long it will take to unload/load that day’s passengers?

    1. Whimsical Gadfly*

      More like underfunded and understaffed and still designed on tbe assumption that disabled people only leave the house to go a doctor’s appointment and have no actual responsibilities…

  54. Former_Employee*

    OP #1: I understand how you feel. Even though I am not a paratransit user, I do use public transportation. As is commonly noted, “stuff happens”. Some people are part of a van pool arrangement and must be ready to go in the AM and PM when the van arrives, regardless of whatever else is going on, which means they may have to leave an afternoon meeting so they don’t miss their ride.

    I guess what I’m saying is that there are so many reasons why people end up getting in late or leaving early and often those reasons are not in their control. And none of those people are disabled or have to rely on paratransit.

    Unless all of your management and coworkers are a bunch of (fill in the blank with a nasty word), I doubt that anyone will be less than understanding.

    Enjoy your new job and take deep breaths.

  55. Whimsical Gadfly*

    My late husband signed one of those pay-back-the-training deals when he was first out of nursing school in 2015. The hospital was doing that with all new hires and it was basically their onboarding training that they were charging for.

    He was forgiven it when he was pushed out of his position (I think he had a good case against them and this was their way of recognizing it). It was clearly a way to trap employees.

  56. Thursdaysgeek*

    #2 reminds me of a fellow student who went to work for EDS (owned by Ross Perot) after graduation in the mid-80s. They had to take very expensive training, and would have to pay it back if they were fired or left. They would also be fired if they discussed their salary with anyone. I just googled it, to make sure I was recalling correctly – it was up to $9000 they were potentially on the hook, for 2-3 years. It sounded like a terrible idea to my very young ears, and wasn’t something I considered, even though it took me a few years to find a job using my degree.

  57. MoonSun*

    OP#1: have you thought about requesting remote flexibility as an ADA accommodation? If you could work from home even for just a few days a week, it could save you so much frustration.

    I’ve asked for something similar, whenever my company returns to the office.

  58. Worker bee*

    LW #3, I would ask those team members what happened before jumping to conclusions. I don’t know how your company tracks hourly employees, but my company has nearly everyone in the company clock in and clock out using a biometric hand reader, which is notoriously glitchy, at least with my company.

    I’m generally really good about not forgetting to clock in and out, but several months ago, something happened and HR/Payroll came to me to ask (jokingly) if I had actually worked 97 hours straight. I was logging in and out, but it wasn’t registering that with payroll. ​And more than once I’ve been distracted on a Friday and completely forgot to clock out, though those are situations where I emailed HR on Monday.

    If this is a case of hourly employees that don’t clock in and out, I think you should address it with them and ask what happened. They may have a very reasonable explanation about what happened and hostility or accusations from a boss that’s been gone 16 weeks might be upsetting. (NOTE: I am in no way saying you shouldn’t have taken maternity leave; just saying in your absence, whoever might be supervising your team might have had different expectations.)

    And just to explain a bit further my note above, several years ago, I approached IT about the possibility of working from home during bad winter weather. I was just simply asking about logistics and they were laid out. I then asked HR if this was a possibility (at that time, my area of the city didn’t get salted or plowed at all and I’ve had one minor accident and almost got t-boned twice, just trying to get out of my neighborhood). IT said it was fine, HR signed off on it, so I thought I had covered my bases.

    One wintery day, I get a call from the big boss. He asked me where I was and flat out told me “we don’t do work from home here.” I said I had asked and received permission, but that didn’t matter; what mattered was my butt in a seat. The next time we had bad weather, my 15 minute commute took 1.5 hours and I arrived to 3 texts and a phone call from people in the office, wondering about me. HR was one and she was astounded I was there and was dumbfounded when she found out why.

    I’m not saying this is the case, but I would ask your employees if they had made arrangements with other people in charge before accusing them of anything.

  59. Sarah*

    As far as paratransit, as a disabled person myself (who thus far hasn’t used paratransit but who has had to leave early for appointments and things), the best advice I ever got was not to draw attention to it. Not because you should have to hide anything, but because frankly it is no one else’s business. And unfortunately also because people do discriminate so the fewer chances they have to do so, the better. I would look heavily to office norms on this one. If people are regularly late to the extent you are, you should definitely inform your manager, but I wouldn’t say a word about paratransit to anyone else. It shouldn’t be this hard, though.

  60. Chalk Dusted Facsimile*

    Here in Chicago, there are cab vouchers available to paratransit users — a bit limited (can’t use them when booking a cab online with a service like Curb), but much more reliable in terms of scheduling. They cover the first $n of each trip, up to a value that makes them adequate for getting around the same part of the city but that won’t cover going cross town.

    It might be worth looking into whether your locale does something similar.

  61. Jessica Fletcher*

    2 – Ask them to pay you back for your degree, since you paid for it and they’re the ones who benefit.

  62. Shelly Swank*

    OP #1: One of the basic requirements of having a job is having reliable transportation. It’s also a basic job function to get to work on time and to stay for the entire time that you are scheduled. If someone is unable to perform the basic job function of arriving on time and leaving on time, then perhaps that person isn’t suitable for the job. This can be overcome by scheduling the ride to work for an earlier time to ensure that you arrive at work at the appropriate time, and schedule the end-of-day ride for a little later so that it doesn’t show up too early. For instance, if the workday ends at 5:30, set the pickup for 6 pm. If the workday begins at 8 am and the ride takes an hour (or could take as long as an hour), maybe set the pickup for 6:30 am, and take a book and a thermos of coffee to kill the time if you get there early. It’s up to you to figure out how to get to work on time.

    Able bodied people have to adjust if they are using public transit because their car broke down and isn’t repairable. An able bodied person or non-driver doesn’t get an accommodation for tardiness if a fixed route bus or cab/Uber doesn’t show up. Able bodied people are expected to be ready to take an earlier bus if their bus arrival times aren’t reliable. Why should it be any different for a paratransit user just because they have a “disability”? Just call for an earlier pickup and if you get to work early, sit and drink coffee and read a book. Stop using your disability and paratransit “issues” as an excuse.

    From the EEOC: “Does the ADA require that employers exempt an employee with a disability from time and attendance requirements?”

    Although the ADA may require an employer to modify its time and attendance requirements as a reasonable accommodation (absent undue hardship), employers need not completely exempt an employee from time and attendance requirements, grant open-ended schedules (e.g., the ability to arrive or leave whenever the employee’s disability necessitates), or accept irregular, unreliable attendance. Employers generally do not have to accommodate repeated instances of tardiness or absenteeism that occur with some frequency, over an extended period of time and often without advance notice. The chronic, frequent, and unpredictable nature of such absences may put a strain on the employer’s operations for a variety of reasons, such as the following:

    -an inability to ensure a sufficient number of employees to accomplish the work required;
    -a failure to meet work goals or to serve customers/clients adequately;
    a need to shift work to other employees, thus preventing them from doing their own work or imposing significant additional burdens on them;
    -incurring significant additional costs when other employees work overtime or when temporary workers must be hired.

    Under these or similar circumstances, an employee who is chronically, frequently, and unpredictably absent may not be able to perform one or more essential functions of the job, or the employer may be able to demonstrate that any accommodation would impose an undue hardship, thus rendering the employee unqualified

  63. What OpSec*

    2 – When I was working for the Air Force there were a number of programs that required starting in until a certain time. For instance, we were required to check if someone had enough time left on an enlistment in order to use tuition assistance. If they left early voluntarily, then they were to pay it back proportionally. ROTC scholarships or USAFA required 4 year payback. Air Battle Managers and Navigators (who had 1.5-2 years of training) required paying 8 back. (Apparently the FAA and airlines liked us for managing Air operations?) Pilots, who airlines LOVE to poach, require a 10 year commitment. Those are all INTENSE training programs. However, a comm troop working on Security Plus typically doesn’t earn a payback requirement. So… take that for what you will in the public sector?

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