I apply for remote jobs … and then it turns out they’re not remote

A reader writes:

I’m currently applying for jobs and have a combination of skills that seems quite wanted where I live. Therefore, I don’t worry so much about finding a job I can do well and pays a salary I could comfortably live off. But I do worry about finding the right job where I’m challenged and able to acquire new skills and that also pays well. And one of the most important things for me is that it has to be remote for 95% of the time. I have no issues going into work for the initial training period and any important team meetings, team outings, one-on-ones with a manager or senior manager, etc., but other than that I would want to work from home.

I’ve experienced during my last job that even when working fully remotely, it’s completely possible to feel like a team and help each other, stay communicative, and be very productive. Communication is maybe a bit less spontaneous than in an office, but when you do decide to have a meeting, it’s because you really need one, not because it’s just office policy to have regular meetings. There’s also no superfluous chatter or distractions.

Now that I’m job hunting again, I’m contacted every day by companies and recruiters on LinkedIn, where my profile states the type of role I’m looking for and that I’m looking for a full-time 100% remote job. I don’t want to sound ungrateful for the attention, but I’m unhappy that I get baited so often with jobs that are presented as remote and are not really that.

I’m now in talks with an exciting company that sells a service that is entirely up my street. The role seems very exciting. When the internal recruiter contacted me, the first thing I said was, “It sounds great, but is it remote? Otherwise it’s not what I’m looking for.” She checked internally and told me that it was possible to work entirely remotely. Now I’m about to have my third interview with them (tomorrow) and the company has hinted that I’d need to be in the office twice a week. I can’t see why they would have gone ahead with my application knowing this, as it’s wasting both their time and mine!

At which point should I be coming back to this issue? During the next interview? Or, in the scenario that they offer me the job, in the negotiation stage when also discussing salary, benefits, etc.?

Can and should I have the remote working put in my contract? Would that help, or can the company still revoke any agreement on this issue? (I work in the UK so the law there would apply.)

And what can I further do to avoid these situations? When contacted for this last job, I was 100% clear from the start but even so, I still seem to have applied to a role that is hybrid and not fully remote! And this is the umpteenth time!

Yeah, I don’t know why companies do this and it happens all the time.

Part of it is that they’re not thinking through what they’ll really require: A recruiter asks the hiring manager what they’d think about someone being fully remote and the hiring manager gives a vague answer without stopping to think through whether they’ll really be okay with it. Or they (wrongly) assume that you won’t really insist on being fully remote and will be willing to come in some of the time. Or they genuinely were open to full-time remote at the start of the hiring process but since then their company is making moves to bring people back on site, and they don’t think to proactively update you about that change.

It’s not even just bad communications in response to people like you who specifically ask about remote work from the start. Some companies are explicitly advertising their jobs as remote, right there in the ad, but then expecting/requiring people to be on-site some of the time. It’s maddening — and it makes no sense since, as you point out, they’re just wasting their own time with candidates who won’t be willing/able to accept the job under those terms.

As for your questions: Now that you’re hearing hints that you’d need to be in the office twice a week, don’t just let that go until you have an offer (unless you’re willing to go through the rest of the interview process for a job that might be the opposite of what you’re looking for). Bring it up in the next contact: “I want to clarify the requirement for on-site work in this role. I’d explained to Jane when she first contacted me that I’m looking for a role that’s 100% remote outside of the initial training and then occasional important meetings. It sounds like you might want this person in the office more than that. Can you clarify what’s needed so we can be sure we’re on the same page?”

Bring it up again once you have the offer to confirm, in writing, that the role is fully remote except for XYZ exceptions.

Be aware, though, that nothing can guarantee the job will stay permanently remote. I can’t speak to UK law at all, but in the U.S. a company can change jobs from remote to on-site at any time, even if you confirmed it in writing (unless you have a different arrangement written into a contract, but the vast majority of U.S. workers don’t have contracts). Putting it in writing gives some protection against miscommunications and the likelihood that your manager will change her mind your second week on the job … but there’s no real protection if the company changes its mind down the road. (It could be entirely different in the UK though, particularly since y’all generally do have contracts. It’s a country-specific question I can’t answer.)

As for avoiding it in the future … you’re doing everything you should be doing. You’re addressing it up-front and being clear from the start. There’s not much more you can do about companies jerking you around.

{ 331 comments… read them below }

  1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    I might try to drop the word “permanently” in your communications, to make it clear that this is “remote forever” and not “remote until COVID is done.”

    1. Liam*

      A friend of mine did something similar much earlier in the pandemic to ensure that it was understood they wanted to be remote permanently. Unlike this post however the employer seemed happy to oblige – as it turns out, people have been more productive while remote in their work. Who would have thought

      1. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

        Agreed. I find that I’m more productive working remotely. Communication and feeling like I’m part of the team is not an issue. We recently had a meeting where most people traveled to the office to be there in person while others participated remotely. You would not believe some of the people talking as if they were super virtuous for preferring to work in the office and be there in person, as if it’s a character flaw to prefer to work remotely.

    2. MK*

      I would go further with the strong wording: “this is a deal breaker for me” “I am not going to accept a role that isn’t remote” etc. Since the OP is set on what she wants, there is no reason not to be blunt. And don’t let recruiters get away with fudging like “it is possible to work entirely remotely”. It being possible doesn’t make the job remote.

      1. Anastasia Beaverhousen*

        I’d also make it clear that if you’re asked to come into the office regularly in the future, you will leave (if that’s the case). The companies that put this in their ad and then bait and switch after hire, they’re just hoping you’ll accept it once they think they’ve boxed you in.

        1. AnonEMoose*

          This honestly reminds me of the boundary testing would-be abusers tend to engage in.

          1. Nelliebelle1197*

            There is literally zero comparison between an abuser and this. It is really making me uncomfortable that you went there.

      2. Karia*

        I was recently job hunting, and specifically said to recruiters, “I am only looking for remote, or perhaps hybrid within 15 miles.” I stopped working with external recruiters because not one of them were honest with me and I got tired of wasting my time.

    3. NYWeasel*

      Exactly. Our company positions have been listed as “remote” but now they’re shifting to a hybrid system. They always intended to make this shift back once the pandemic eased, but when things were 100% remote, they would describe them that way in the listings. Then it was up to HR to explain “Remote for now, hybrid in the future.” I can see how that detail can either be forgotten by HR or the recruiter and/or overlooked by the candidate.

      1. Nanani*

        That’s quite possible, especially if listings are being reposted without looking too close, or if the places where things are listed have non-obvious categories or something.

        However in OP’s particular case, they are at the interview stage and talking to real humans so the grace period for misunderstandings is kinda closed.

    4. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I think I would also be specific that she only intends to commute into an office once a month, or quarter, or year…or how many days “occasionally” might mean. They might think “for training” is a weekly thing, forever; some jobs are committed to continual professional development.

      1. Super Duper*

        Yes! I’m fully remote with a flexible monthly “onsite day.” I can skip it if I need to, but the expectation is that I’m able and willing to show up in person once a month. That feels “occasional” to me, but it’s a vague term. LW should specify what actually works for them and not leave it up to interpretation.

    5. MusicWithRocksIn*

      If this job doesn’t work out, I would definitely use that in the fist interview going forward. “Just so we are on the same page, I am looking for a job that is 100% remote Permanently and am not interested in anything that will transition to hybrid, does that sound like this position to you?.” Get that out of the way as soon as you have a change to ask questions in the first interview. Clearly your skills are in demand, best thing to do is be totally clear with them so they don’t have a chance to play coy games with you later. Honestly I think a lot of these places know that remote work is attractive to job seekers, but don’t actually want people to work remote and are trying to get away with a bate and switch.

  2. Trek*

    One other note, if you require your employees to live within a certain area or state even if working remote state that in the ad. I’ve applied for jobs and found out that I am not in the required area/state even though I’m one state over.

    1. StarHunter*

      I am running into that all.the.time. Remote job sounds great, oh wait, it’s LOCAL remote. It was getting so bad I emailed Idealist (looking for nonprofit jobs) that they need to add a local remote option as it was getting aggravating clicking on all these jobs only to discover you needed to live nearby. They actually emailed back and said the developers were looking into it.

      1. Sloanicote*

        “Local remote” is common in my field (nonprofits) – orgs don’t want to maintain office space but they want to be able to have folks come in for meetings/events with some regularity, and of course there’s roles that are mostly in the field or community. My boss is very wedded to having people come together in person semi-regularity, which I think is a bit funny as we live in an EXTREMELY expensive city and can’t afford good salaries. They could find great people at their price points if they would hire much further out from the urban area – but then we wouldn’t be able to have happy hours … (sigh).

        1. cardigarden*

          There’s also (US-centric) tax reasons for it. My company is set up to have remote employees based in some states but not others because Company has to be a registered employer in whatever state a remote worker lives in.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Yeah it’s extremely complicated to have employees working remote in multiple states, and small nonprofits don’t always have the resources to keep up with it.

            1. Working Hypothesis*

              Well, there are some pretty simple ways to get around it, but they cost money. A lot of companies these days use services which act as the employer of record and do nothing but handle the taxes and employment law paperwork for a whole bunch of states or countries, so that their client companies can hire in any of them. But like any other business service, you do have to set this up in advance, and you do have to pay them for it.

                1. Underrated Pear*

                  I don’t know – I’m sure there ARE shady places, but this is not uncommon for people working for a US company but living in Canada.

                2. Working Hypothesis*

                  There may be shady ones but there are also entirely legitimate ones. Basically, they have a legal presence in each of the areas in which they help people hire. They know what the law requires there, and they are set up to file taxes there. So they act, in essence, as contracting services — they hire the employee but assign them to work for your company, for which you pay a fee. Then, because they’re the official employer, they’re responsible for compliance with all laws, taxes, etc. It’s not much different from using a local contracting service, except that there is usually no intent to be easily able to fire, so it doesn’t have the kind of temporary, unstable feel that contracting sometimes does. It just means the company you work for doesn’t need to be the one handling all the paperwork, and that’s a kind of service a lot of companies use in one form or another.

                3. rosyglasses*

                  It’s not shady, nor a scam. They are called PEOs, and alot of small companies that can’t afford the staff for full HR/Admin/Compliance will often partner with them in order to offer a fuller suite of options for their teams.

          2. Alan*

            My company also cited varying tax laws in explaining why people had to live close by, but recently that seems to have gone away. I suspect that some critical subset of people said they would be leaving and the company caved.

            1. cardigarden*

              That wouldn’t be surprising. We got a map of “here are the [number] states we’re now authorized to work in!” but for all staff classified as hybrid or onsite, we have to live within the regional understanding of “reasonable commuting distance from the office”.

          3. Aang*

            I know that’s why my mood sized company only allows remote work in states they have physical offices in. You’d need a large HR or you’d have to outsource to make it work to have employees in every state, between taxes, insurance and state specific labor laws having employees in all 50 states gets very complicated very quickly.

            1. This is a name, I guess*

              When we hire remote employees, we hire all states except California, New York, Chicago (rest of IL is okay), and I think Denver? Those areas have very specific labor laws that would be too difficult for our agency to comply with. We don’t have enough HR staff to manage the differentials.

          4. alienor*

            I don’t think it’s as hard as some companies make it out to be. My current employer wasn’t registered in the state I live in when I got hired as a remote employee, and I was worried, but they said “no problem.” Turns out it’s actually a form and a $100 filing fee–may be different from state to state, but it’s not the huge burden I’d imagined.

            1. AcademiaNut*

              It’s not so much the registering as needing to be compliant with labour laws in the state the employee is living in, which means HR that knows what the laws in the relevant states are, and making sure that they are followed. That can involve different leave policies, different overtime policies, whether they need to pay out vacation, requirements for accommodation, definition of protected classes and illegal discrimination….

              1. rosyglasses*

                yep – it’s a raging headache as an HR department of 1 or 2 to keep up – not just with state laws and compliance but local cities, counties, municipalities all have tax requirements and specific laws governing everything from sick leave to transit taxes. It’s a bear to keep up with and a reason we are in limited states as well.

      2. Remote Please!*

        I’ve seen that and whatever, it’s fine. The weird one I’m running into as I’m looking for remote or mostly remote work is Fully remote *unless you live in the area.* I live in a major city of our state, and several big companies are advertising “Remote unless you live within x miles of an office!” and I’m all…ugh. Because I want to be remote, and it’s going to be pretty hard to not be close to one of their major offices. So. Annoying.

        1. Zweisatz*

          Yeah I keep bouncing between looking far away so they don’t ask me to come in VS. looking locally because I don’t want to go to training 5 h away.

    2. Sloanicote*

      Yeah, potential employees wouldn’t always know it, but businesses can have restrictions on which states they’re able to employ people in. If the employment laws are different/expense greater one state over, they may not be willing to employ someone – particularly just one person – from that state.

    3. Sleepless in Cincinnati*

      I work for a state agency that requires all workers to be residents of the state. I’ve seen that for county agencies too. Some of my coworkers (sadly, not me) are 100% remote, but the rule is you can’t shape state policies if you don’t have a stake in their implementation. Or something like that.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Okay, usually I don’t like this kind of local restriction, but in the case of state policy makers I can kind of see the point.

      2. Sal*

        My job has a city limits residency requirement. A lot of my professional peers do not have the desire to continually rent but also don’t have the money to buy in our city rather than in one of the suburban areas/small towns close enough to commute from. I think residency requirements do increase a sense of stakeholding and can be important (I felt a disconnect in NYC when I worked in one borough and lived in another–one was “where bad things happened” and the other was “home”), but it can also put real limits on the ability of an org to attract and keep talented and valuable employees.

        1. Yeah, nah*

          I think then it becomes a question of what the org thinks brings value — for them, someone with a real sense of stakes in the area who sees it as their community could very well be more valuable than a person who doesn’t have that, but has a particular skill set. Skills can be learned/taught.

    4. Jora Malli*

      And I really don’t even think those jobs should be in the remote category at all. If I can’t do it from where I live, it’s not truly remote, and the job search websites don’t usually have the option for me to limit out remote jobs with a residency requirement I don’t meet.

      1. Sloanicote*

        Yeah I think there’s a distinction between working “from home” – meaning there is no office or no requirement to come into the office – and “remote” wherein you can work from anywhere. Right now those terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        Sounds like what you want to see is a distinction between “remote” and “telework”.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          My org has that. “Remote” means literally work anywhere while “telework” means “within 100 mile radius of office and “hybrid” means “live within the distance you’d be willing to commute at least 1-2 times a month”. Most of the jobs can be done in-person as well, so are open to remote and local candidates. Alas we are struggling to get HR to remember to put the exact definitions in the ads they post on places like Indeed and Glassdoor, but at least they are included in the position descriptions on our website (don’t ask me why they don’t just copy the text from our site to others, none of us can figure it out either)

      3. Sea Anemone*

        I’m sure it’s frustrating not being able to filter out jobs with residency requirements, but it’s not true at all that remote jobs are not remote if they have residency requirements. For example, if you have to live in Pennsylvania (to pick a state at random), and the company’s address is in Allentown, then employees doing their job from where they live in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Bellefonte are all remote.

    5. LikesToSwear*

      The recruiters at my employer have specific wording they are supposed to use when talking to an applicant. But, we are also adding new states that people are allowed to work remote from. So it’s not always as easy as “must live in one of these states”.

      Ideally, yes, job ads should include that information though. Especially if there are states a company just flat out will not establish a nexus in.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, employers, please make sure the location for that particular job is accurate! Don’t say New York when the worker needs to be in or near your Florida office. I’ve seen that for jobs here as well as my target area, and it’s annoying.

      I don’t bother with ads that say “local only” or “City/State] residents strongly preferred.” I can’t relocate until I find work, so I will need to start from here. But I do appreciate when they post that. It means I can self-select out and don’t waste anyone’s time, including mine.

    7. 15 Pieces of Flair*

      Co-signed. In 2016 I accepted an offer to be a remote-based contractor for Google. The contractor had an extensive and somewhat invasive background check process, collecting a ton of personal information before I could start. On the first day I showed up at a Google office for onboarding and training with the other contractors in my group. After lunch we were filling out paperwork and had to provide our driver’s licenses. The Google employee looked at my license and asked if I still lived in [neighboring state]. I was then sent home in the middle of the day without further instruction. While I never received a clear explanation, it became obvious that the contractor was only authorized to hire people from the state where the Google office is located.

      The contractor (ZeroChaos) already had my home address on multiple different forms and knew from the first interview that I lived in a neighboring state. They never apologized or followed up with an explanation. As a result of accepting and immediately losing this job (which would have offered health insurance through the contractor), I missed the enrollment window for marketplace insurance that year. This situation also interrupted my job search and was extremely demoralizing. I’ve never had such a terrible experience with a contractor before or since.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        That’s odd, since ZeroChaos (then WorkforceLogiq, now ProUnlimited) is nation-wide and even global.

        1. Very Social*

          If they failed to live up to their ZeroChaos name as spectacularly in other ways as they did for 15 Pieces of Flair, well, no wonder they kept changing their name.

    8. Karia*

      Yes. “It’s totally remote! Except you’ll be required to provide regular workshops in a county 200 miles away.”

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Well, technically, that would meet a reasonable definition of “remote,” even though it’s not WFH.

        1. Karia*

          I’m pretty sure that having to travel 200 miles every week does not meet a ‘reasonable definition of remote’.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            Well, it’s clearly remote from *something*. In this case, it’s remote from both the office AND your house, so they’ve doubled up!

  3. bamcheeks*

    Can and should I have the remote working put in my contract? Would that help, or can the company still revoke any agreement on this issue? (I work in the UK so the law there would apply.)

    UK person, not a lawyer but worked for a trade union and got asked this– one of the things your contract must state is your main place of work. (This is important for things like whether you or your employer should pay for any travel to another business site or to client sites.) If you are genuinely a home-worker and not hybrid, your employer should be willing to put that in a contract and any change to that would be a significant contractual change and mean they have to go through the usual protections.

    That said, my experience of this was pre-pandemic, and with the switch to so much hybrid working, there probably isn’t any case law yet on what happens if you’re a hybrid worker and the company changes the amount of time you’re expected to come into the office. That’s something no-one can answer yet!

    1. LDN Layabout*

      Also important for tax purposes, choosing to work from home isn’t covered for tax relief, being told to work from home by an employer is (although I assume that would be covered by your tax code).

      1. MsSolo UK*

        It’s worth saying, for US readers, most UK employees don’t submit annual tax returns unless they have a reason to believe they’ve been over/under taxed (like their tax code was wrong, or they have multiple sources of income), so the tax implications are on the employer to manage.

          1. KateM*

            Not in UK, but when I do submit one, I log into the government site, check the form prefilled with my tax data, and click “ok”. Fine, maybe I add some educational or medical deductions, but how much I have earned and how much tax paid is all there.

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              In the UK most people don’t even have to do this.

              The only time I’ve ever had to do a tax return was the year I got married and moved several hundred miles, so my tax affairs looked weird. I submitted about two pages of paperwork and got a £700 cheque (check).

            2. allathian*

              I’m in Finland, and the same thing applies to me. I also get a tax deduction of 900 euros for “having a home office” for as long as I WFH for at least 50 percent of the days I’m working. It decreases incrementally from that. It’s also on your conscience, you don’t have to submit any proof of how much you actually work from home.

              There’s a similar deduction for travel to and from the office, but for occasional travel to the office it’s not worth claiming, because the lower threshold for claiming commute costs is 700 euros, and if I commute only a few times a month, my annual commute cost is less than that.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            It’s possible there are, but that it doesn’t make sense to bother claiming them till it gets above a certain fairly high threshold (or even that they just don’t kick in at all until it gets above a certain fairly high threshold).

          2. Mostly Managing*

            In the UK, there’s no tax deduction for charitable giving.
            What you can do, is “covenant” with the charity that you are going to give a certain amount, and then the charity can claim the tax too!

            Different country, very different system

            1. London Lass*

              Sounds like you are referring to Gift Aid. There is no requirement to commit to give any particular amount, all you need to do it certify when you donate that you are a UK taxpayer. Then the charity can claim an extra amount equivalent to the Basic Rate of income tax on top of your donation.

              If you pay Basic Rate only, you don’t benefit personally. But if you pay more, you can claim the difference in your own tax return.

          3. DistantAudacity*

            In Norway, where you do the «login and verify» ( if you feel like it – you don’t have to submit) charity giving is reported in by the charitable donations, so it gets included. If you have any that qualifies that has not been reported I’m sure there is a form to fill out.

          4. London Lass*

            There are, but only if you earn enough to pay higher rate tax, which isn’t the case for most people. If you are a higher earner and give a significant amount, it can be worth filling out a tax return to claim it. That said, people with more money are also more likely to need to fill out a return because they may have multiple sources of income – e.g. rental income, investments, etc.

          5. Teapot Wrangler*

            No, not really. We have GiftAid which means the charity can claim more money if you’re a taxpayer but that’s the main thing and you don’t get more from it.

            You can claim relief on, for example, uniforms, professional memberships but you wouldn’t generally need to fill out a tax return until you became an Additional Rate taxpayer (highest rate of income tax) as it is all managed by your taxcode

    2. ThinkQuicker*

      Seconding the point of read the contract carefully. (Not a lawyer etc. etc. but just my experience with employment contracts) It may say your main location is “x” but that the company can require you to work from “a different location from time to time and may at its discretion nominate a different location on giving reasonable notice” (or words to that effect). You’d want the contract to say that your main location is “remote” and that the company cannot require you to work from a different location for more than “x” days per year and you’d want to try and remove any clause about company requiring you to work from a different location permanently entirely. You’ll know how serious they are about the remote position if they allow those contract changes. If they don’t they likely are saying “yes for now but not in the future”.

    3. Annisele*

      I’m also in the UK, also not a lawyer, and I agree with this.

      The other thing is that in the UK you can be fired for essentially no reason within the first two years of employment. I don’t think it’s quite the same as the US “at will” concept, but I’m not sure it’s materially different. It’s not quite as bad as I’ve made out – you can’t be fired _because_ of a protected characteristic like sex, pregnancy or disability, and you can’t be fired because of things like raising health and safety concerns or being a trade union member – but you can certainly be fired _while_ being one of those things. Any non idiot employer will of course say that you were fired for poor performance rather than because you were pregnant – and proving otherwise won’t be easier (or necessarily get you much compensation if you do prove it).

      That means OP could likely be fired pretty quickly because the remote thing just wasn’t working out. I doubt that would be unlawful, but I haven’t seen any case law on it yet.

      If the employer just changed and demanded that the role be done in the office, I guess it would depend on whether the employment tribunal saw the “in office” role as a new one or not – and if it was a new one, was it a suitable alternative to the remote one? But again, even if OP won that argument I doubt the compensation would be much.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I’d not heard of the 2 year thing, which law governs that? I thought it was more commonly 6 months or a year probation, specified in contract.

        I’m about to shift from working from home as a covid measure, to working from home permanently, as I’ve made a statutory flexible working request (I’m moving 300 miles away). You have to have worked somewhere for 26 weeks before you can make a request and they can say no if there are reasonable business grounds for refusing. Once my new contract goes into effect, my employer will cover my travel costs if they ask me to come to the office more more 4 times a year. I’m pretty happy about this, before covid I’d have had to just find a new job when I moved.

        1. Annisele*

          The two year thing is about the qualifying period to claim unfair dismissal (though on checking, it’s not two years in the whole of the UK; NI is different). I’ll post a link in another comment – not sure if Alison will allow it – but if you google “uk employment protection two year” you’ll likely find something.

            1. London Calling*

              Yes, but you have to have worked for the employer for 2 years or more to be able to CLAIM unfair dismissal. If you have worked for less than 2 years you have no rights to challenge a dismissal at all.

              1. File Herder*

                Unless you have been dismissed for an automatically unfair reason. If that is the case then you are protected from day 1. Those automatically unfair reasons include but are not limited to asserting a statutory right (such as expecting to actually get paid for doing your job, or asking for written terms and conditions, i.e. contract, or wanting an accurate written payslip with all of the information required by law, or asking to be paid the full minimum wage), maternity, making a public information disclosure, acting in your capacity as a trade union official, reporting a health and safety issue, etc. Employers with good legal teams do not generally make these mistakes, or at least don’t make them in a provable way.

                If you are discriminated against for a characteristic that is protected under the Equality Act 2010, the dismissal itself is not necessarily unfair with less than two years service, but it *can* be a discriminatory act, and thus the subject of a discrimination claim under the EA 2010.

                (I am not a lawyer. If you want more detail about this stuff the Acas website and the relevant areas on gov.uk are a good place to start. If you want the deep dive into the law then Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal decisions are available online. Some of them are entertaining and educational reading even if you’re not a lawyer, and when I run out of AAM I sometimes head over there for my employment related amusement and edification.)

        2. Karia*

          Probation is often 1-3 months, during which you can be let go for any reason. UK employees get a *lot* more protections after two years, including severance pay – I had one shady employer make me redundant at the 23 month mark, then attempt to get me to stay on as a freelancer.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, similar in Finland. Except that it works both ways, during probation, an employee is also free to leave with no notice. Here notice periods of 1 or 2 months are common (and can be up to 6 months for executives), although employees are rarely required to work all that time. It’s mainly to ensure that employers don’t need to pay out incurred annual holiday (vacation) time, and normally you’re free to start working for your new employer even while you’re still on contract to the old one but on vacation. Overlapping employment periods are very common.

            Non-competes exist, but they’re rarely enforceable. There’s also a law that requires employers to pay full severance for the entire period that the non-compete covers, if it is enforceable. This is to ensure that non-competes only apply to employees who have access to sensitive information.

        3. Sarah*

          It used to be a 1 year period, but it got extended to two years a while back. It surprises me how many people don’t know if this. It also means that (bar anything in your contract), you don’t trigger redundancy pay for the first two years of employment.

          https://www.gov.uk/dismissal states the 2 year period toward the end.

      2. Kate*

        Employers are usually allowed to enforce reasonable changes of workplace. So if OP lived within an hour’s drive of the office and the employer decided to move their contracted place of work to the office, that would probably fly. If it was the other end of the country, that would probably count as redundancy. But then you’re still out of a job, of course.

        In practice, I doubt many companies are going to be motivated do that kind of funny business with a highly skilled, in demand, fairly senior employee who’s negotiated home working in their contract. I know people like that who have this (since pre COVID) with no problems. Op’s problem is more likely to be getting to that stage.

      3. Teapot Wrangler*

        If you could argue that the job requirement had changed, it could be redundancy but it might be a difficult argument unless something substantial happened…

    4. perstreperous*

      I am saying to people “get it written in the contract”. Anyone can say “100% remote” then have it not written in the contract and start hedging and reneging.

      Our roles are not 100% remote and there is a base office stated on the contract. So the first thing I say at interviews is that people are required to come in 50% of the time and that could be reverted to 100% as the contract states a base office. Are you OK with that?

      We have “lost” a few people at that point, which is all for the better as the legal position is literally said up front.

      (Perhaps the company might realise the magnitude of those “losses” and stop hedging its bets by basing all remote work on sand).

    5. Arthenonyma*

      Ditto not a lawyer, but the language I would expect in a non-fully-remote position would be to state the place of work (the office) and then something about remote/home working “at manager’s discretion” or something similar. So you’d want to watch out for that – if this is supposed to be a fully remote position you’d want that stated definitively.

      Also worth noting that a lot of contracts in UK may be for limited time – 1 year, 2 years and so on – even though the position is intended to be permanent. It depends on the type of work, but every full time position I ever held was on the basis of I got a 1 year contract, then another on the next year, etc. Partly because I was working at an academic institution with Budget Concerns every year, I think. So that would be another thing to keep an eye on – if the contract is for a fixed period, check the new one for that language too.

      1. allathian*

        Similar in Finland, although with a few exceptions, successive fixed-term contracts are treated as indefinite after the 4th or 5th one, after which the employee can claim constructive dismissal if the contract isn’t renewed, so employers have learned to be more careful.

    6. TechWorker*

      Yes, it makes a huge difference whether they insist on the contract saying the place of work is the office (in which case them saying ‘you can work remotely 3 days a week’ is not guaranteed to change) or whether your contract specifies remote, in which case if they try to force you in you have much more standing to say that’s not what’s in the contract. I think if they really pushed for it it then ends up equivalent to a change of place of work and if you left over it potential grounds for redundancy (IANAL but had similar ish stuff come up during acquisition)… but I think the main advantage is just having it in the contract in the first place probably means they’re less likely to go back on their word.

      Saying all of that, my partner has signed a full remote contract (U.K.) and his manager is already making noises about how it might be good for him to be in more. He is currently going in ~1-2 days during training/ramp up and diligently expensing the train ticket every time ;).

      1. bamcheeks*

        When I worked from home (for a union) I literally expensed everything when I was out of the house— taxi, train, breakfast, lunch, the lot!

    7. Magenta*

      I’m in the UK, we worked remote during the pandemic and were supposed to be going back to the office a few months back while I’m on maternity leave.

      They decided to close that office, the choices were permanently remote, permanently in the head office in London with no extra money to cover the higher cost of living and travel, or leave the company.

      When I pointed out the higher costs of heating, electricity and broadband as well as the need for office space and furniture required for going permanently remote and the amount of money they were saving in rent, utilities etc, I was told they would look into it. They never got back to me on that and I just got a change of location document through by email.

  4. Robert E.O. Speedwagon*

    And companies wonder why nobody is bothering applying to their jobs. Sigh.

    1. The OTHER Other*

      There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about new hires ghosting their employers. Most of the employers were restaurants, hotels, and security companies. Most of these jobs could not be done remotely but I kept wondering “what are you paying them” and of course the article did not get into that at all. Given the political leanings of the WSJ I was expecting some “people just don’t want to work anymore” slant but to be fair that was absent also.

      I have to wonder how many people take these jobs, or at least go through the interviews, and bail when they get better offers that allow real remote work? And whether the employers/hiring managers will ever wise up?

      1. Your Local Password Resetter*

        Low salary sounds like a very safe bet.
        Those industries also tend to have pretty bad hours with lots of weekend and night work, which probably doesn’t help their case when better offers come along.

        1. Nanani*

          This and perhaps random scheduling. I don’t know about hotels and security but restaurants (at least of certain kinds) are kinda notorious for inconsitent shifts, not respecting other commitments while not giving full time hours, expecting people to find their own coverage for time off, etc.
          Workers are taking much less shit.

      2. Working Hypothesis*

        It doesn’t surprise me to see a middle of the road article from the WSJ. It would surprise me to see a middle of the road editorial. The Journal’s reporting staff hasn’t for a long time been anywhere near as right wing as their editorial department is.

        I used to know the man who ran their editorial department and made it into what it is. He was a nice guy personally, but one of the most extreme conservatives of his time (which admittedly would make him a centrist if he were alive these days). He built that department into a right wing powerhouse, but because he never had any authority over the rest of the paper and the people who did were much further toward the center, he considered it all complete lefty stuff. He’s been gone for a decade or so, but it hasn’t changed much, because the people he hired have hired those who followed them, etc. And they all look for ideology first. But the reporting staff doesn’t.

  5. Raboot*

    I would probably drop out if it were me. Even if you get permission to stay 100% remote and it doesn’t get yanked, that’s clearly not how they operate. 100% remote when everyone is remote is very different from 100% remote when everyone else is in the office 2-5 times a day. You *will* be left out of certain things, even with the best intentions, and unless your manager is super on board I’d doubt their ability to fairly evaluate you.

    1. Colette*

      This is a really good point. Being the only one remote is much different from having everyone remote.

    2. MissGirl*

      That was my thought as well. I would only accept a remote job at a company if a good chunk of their workforce is also remote.

      1. sookie st james*

        I’m one of only 2-3 perma-remote people at my company (the rest of my team are hybrid, other teams are full time in office) Fortunately, we have a culture of Very Online work style (e.g. all meetings via zoom, project discussions over slack group chats) which makes it easy for me to contribute to the work and connect the the team, but other companies might not have these structures in place and you could find yourself joining zoom meetings daily where everyone else is in a big conference room and you’re the small face on a laptop, unable to see/hear everyone/be heard. I would screen for this in the upcoming interview – how do they manage workflow & collaboration, how do the experiences of remote employees differ from in-office ones (the best answer wouldn’t be ‘they’re the same!’ bc that would be a lie, but honesty about the differences and the systems they have in place to accommodate online collaboration.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s the way it was at Exjob. Although I went into the office daily, my entire team worked remotely 90% of the time. But my cube was located near a couple of other teams who worked mostly onsite. They would invite me to their food days, etc. so even though my team was rarely in the office, I still got to do office stuff.

          These are excellent questions to ask because if OP is the only remote worker, it’s easy to forget about them if the company’s not used to WFH.

      2. Alexis Rosay*

        Agreed. I think it also depends on how desirable your skills are and how much power you’ll have in the company–it sounds like OP has a very in-demand skill set and may be fine even if the company were primarily in person.

        However, for anyone in a low-to-average position of power, remote work can put you in a serious disadvantage when others are working in person.

        How do I know? I used to work in-person managing an off-site team. It was a constant fight to get the other in-person workers to value the work of these offsite team members.

    3. Harper the Other One*

      This is a very good point. My last job was a small org where we all worked remotely but the two other primary people were the founders, who were husband and wife. They OFTEN forgot that they had had extensive conversations about something changing and never actually looped me in. My current role is 100% remote with no one in proximity to one another and communication is very different.

    4. Filosofickle*

      A main reason I took my current job is that my whole team is permanently remote (and the larger company was already embracing remote/hybrid before Covid). Some places might let me work remote but I’d be at a disadvantage if I’m an exception, but here I’m confident it won’t be rescinded and I won’t be left out. It’s an important distinction.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Depends on the job. When I started this position, I was the only remote employee and everyone else was in the office 5 days/week and I never felt excluded or forgotten. My bigger issue is that I keep getting added to things I really don’t need to be a part of in the name of inclusion. My role is working with local organizations in my region on a project being funded and managed by some of the folks in the main office so I really don’t need to be included in ALL the meetings about return to work, although I appreciate being thought such a integral part of the team that they want to share their pain with me.

      1. BubbleTea*

        I agree it depends. A lot of UK employers have spent a lot of time with mandatory WFH during covid lockdowns and developed ways to make that more effective (mine never really reopened, even now we have max 1/3 of the previous number in the office and usually more like 1/10).

        I do know some of our new staff have found it a bit tricky. I did my best to be very available on Teams to them before I went on maternity leave, and will do so again when we get our next batch of new starters.

  6. The Original K.*

    I want remote in my next role too and I’m thinking of targeting companies that have always been remote, or ones that have openly said they are now fully remote, to avoid this. I had a coworker at a former employer who was told her role was remote. Her boss reneged in her first or second week. She lived 60 miles away. She quit.

    1. Lizy*

      I don’t blame you, but I wouldn’t limit yourself just to fully-remote. There are many companies that have fully-remote positions as well as in-office positions. My company is “fully remote” but we do have a small HQ office that’s staffed in-person. I had applied to another company that is not at all fully remote, but they have fully remote positions throughout the US. (I have a contact at that company that is pretty up-there on the hierarchy, so can comfortably say it’s not just a “we say this but don’t really mean it” thing.)

      1. The Original K.*

        True. I guess I want an org with an established precedent for remote work – like, even if there are some in-office roles, I want to be sure that MY role was, is, and will be remote.

      2. Sabrina*

        In my case, it helped to be clear that I lived in the opposite coast. My company has both on person and fully remote employees, and throughout the interview process I stressed that I lived on the west coast so fully remote is the only option that would work for me. So I guess you could apply to companies that are nowhere near you?

    2. alienor*

      I had a coworker who lived 80ish miles from the office and had a written agreement that they could work remote 3x a week (this was pre-Covid when even hybrid schedules were uncommon). Sure enough, after a while they started getting pressured to come in full-time, and shortly after that they left. They were a former employee who had been asked to come back for a specific role, and had only agreed on the condition that they wouldn’t have to commute every day, so they very understandably felt like they’d been duped.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Wow, talk about shooting yourself in the foot! So the company needed that person’s skills enough to beg them to return… and now they don’t have the skills anyhow, and they’ve burnt the bridge so they won’t be able to get them back that way, either. Way to go, company.

    3. Karia*

      I eventually took a role at a fully remote company. They have a solid remote training programme, occasional in person events and are happy to chat socially to a non irritating level. The last time I was this relaxed at a job was never.

    4. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      That boss was an idiot who cost his company a lot of money (since hiring and onboarding both use people’s time). I hope someone in the higher levels of management has noticed.

      1. The Original K.*

        This was a few years ago and I’m no longer there. The rules around remote work at that employer were basically nonexistent. It was at the discretion of your boss and everybody’s boss did different things. My bosses (I had four in three years, there was a lot of turnover) all approved of remote work and you didn’t have to ask if you were going to take it. Our positions weren’t remote by design but if you wanted to work from home because snow was expected or you needed to wait for the plumber, it was not an issue to do that. There were other departments that weren’t allowed to work from home ever, full stop.

  7. Amber Rose*

    Could be a bit of push and pull. You’re pushing for full remote, and they’re pushing back, seeing if they can get you hybrid. That doesn’t mean they won’t concede to full remote though, it just means they’re seeing what they can get away with. It’s not a total write off until you try out Alison’s script.

    It’s not right, or reasonable, but it’s so common that there’s probably no escaping it. Just another mark on the “frustrating things about job hunting” list.

    1. Sloanicote*

      Yeah I almost think this is a new negotiating factor just like salary. You’d like them to pay you more and they’d no doubt prefer to pay you less so you both make some noises and scratch the dirt for a while before you either come to an agreement – or not. Probably better not to bring a lot of emotions into it honestly.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Could be they just define fully remote differently. Fully remote as in — well yes you don’t need permission to work from home, you just do it as long as you are in the office twice a week, we don’t care what days it is.


      could be bait and switch. They know people are looking for remote work, the companies figures they can dazzle prospects with how wonderful working for them is, that the candidate will just dump that silly old notion about fully remote work. SPOILER ALERT: You aren’t that awsome and no the candidates won’t.

      1. anonymous73*

        I think it’s option 2. If fully remote does not mean WFH every single day then it needs to be defined in the description. It’s bait and switch. That’s why they don’t put salaries in the job description. They figure they can put on their best face and razzle dazzle you into thinking it’s the best company ever! while paying you below market and making you come in 2/5 of every week under their definition of “fully remote”.

      2. NNN222*

        That second one is what it feels like, especially with many job listing sites now have a filtering option for remote jobs. If most of their potential employees are selecting the remote option, their listing isn’t even being seen so they lie or fudge the truth and hope they’ll get their listing in front of someone who is actually fine with coming to the office. The thing is, even if I could be happy with hybrid or fully in-office given the right employer, starting the process out with a lie isn’t the way to convince me of it.

        1. AnonMom*

          Or it could be that the job was posted by someone who saw “remote” and thought “yes, this job is remote 3 days a week so we want to be upfront that it is not 100% in the office” and checks that box. They may have been entirely up front in their intentions there and it is just a misunderstanding on both sides. Not everything is malicious.

          1. anonymous73*

            Every job site I use has 3 options – on site, remote or hybrid. Remote does not mean “some days in the office”. I also get a bunch of emails from recruiters that all say “remote” at the top, but once you read through it, you see that it’s on location. Yes mistakes can happen, but checking “remote” when you really mean “hybrid” is not a misunderstanding.

      3. Working Hypothesis*

        I’m sorry, but the first is not actually a definition of “fully remote,” it’s just a lie. What you’re describing is “flexible hybrid,” but it’s just not a remote job. Remote jobs don’t have you come in to the office more than once in a blue moon… period.

        My own standard criterion for defining a job as remote is “Do they want me in the office more often than it would be reasonable to ask me to get on an intercontinental airplane?” I get that sometimes you can’t actually work from another continent even if the job *is* fully remote because of tax law, time zones, etc… but if the *timing* of how often they want me in the office isn’t roughly equal to what it would be if I were working from another continent, I don’t see the job as remote. (I do get that there can be some reasonable differences of opinion on this, and that other people could still legitimately call a job remote with, say, a once-a-month meeting they want you to attend. I just don’t think there’s any way that two days a week is within the range.)

        1. A Wall*

          You’re correct, but like EPLawyer I have also seen a lot of companies lately consider “fully remote” to mean “able to work remote a lot of the time” even if it means you have to be onsite multiple days every single week. And I don’t think they’re intentionally lying (well, some of them definitely are), I think it’s due to the way some people think about remote work as an exception that is not as functional as working in an office. So they’re like, well yeah, you’re fully remote because you’re remote all the time that it makes sense to be. But obviously you have to be in the office for these meetings, and to get face time with these people, and for this and for that and etc, because those kinds of things simply must always be done face to face. In their mind there’s no functional way for a job to be truly literally 100% remote, so they really don’t see “fully remote” and “in the office half the time anyway” as actually being very contradictory statements.

          And a lot of people see the inconvenience in the exact opposite way around as you and I do: having a meeting over video, to them, is doing more work and going out of your way to do something differently, whereas just coming in is the simple default. So if you have to choose one or the other, you’d obviously do the easier one, which is obviously to meet in person. Doesn’t occur to them in the least that this is going to be an issue to a lot of people, and/or they think anyone who has an issue is being entitled and unreasonable because they are asking for the more onerous option.

          And then there are people who are just lying. But even those folks, I don’t think they feel like it’s as big of a lie as it really is, because of the above. They think there’s just a teeny space between fully remote and hybrid, when it’s actually a gulf.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I suspect you’re right, but it’s a really depressing thought how many people are wearing that kind of blinders.

          2. Karia*

            Everyone is the hero of their own story, and everyone thinks their views / requirements are completely reasonable. Most of us let our personal, solipsistic viewpoints be tempered by outside views, statistics, etc. But not everyone.

      4. Karia*

        It’s pretty much two. Everyone knows that ‘fully remote’ means… at home. Two days a week in the office is hybrid. And hybrid is fine. Likely preferable for some. I just don’t understand what they think they’re going to gain by misrepresenting it.

    3. Nanani*

      But it’s still a giant waste of time and they are shooting themselves in the foot by not being upfront.

    4. Snow Globe*

      See, that would still be a red flag for me. If they are trying to negotiate more time in the office, that means they don’t really want employees working from home and will only offer it when forced to. I’d be looking for a company that is genuinely supportive of remote work.

      1. Unaccountably*

        Sooo many red flags. If they’ll misrepresent themselves in something like this, they’ll misrepresent themselves (or flat-out lie) about other things too.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      I think that, even if they agree to make the position fully remote, they will always revisit the idea of hybrid. Saying you allow people to “work remotely” is the latest version of saying a place has “flex-time.”

    6. BongoFury*

      I see what you mean about them pushing back. But if they’re unhappy with you being remote, just know going into it they’ll probably evaluate you different than other “flexible/hybrid” employees that don’t push back.

  8. true in advertising*

    A person currently working for me applied for a job (at my suggestion) that was advertised as “fully remote possible”. It is in a location where they do not wish to live and they have excelled under remote conditions. They got an offer, but now the hirer is making an issue out of remote work. I understand that remote work may not be the ideal situation for all jobs, but this job was advertised on our field’s major list serv as fully remote possible. So frustrating.

    1. WellRed*

      I hate splitting language hairs but I think “possible” should be taken skeptically for this reason. OP also got a “possible.” Sure, it’s possible, anything is possible.

  9. JH*

    In the US, you tend not to have contracts??? I’m in the UK, like OP, and that’s mind-blowing to me.

    How do you know what the rules are around things like pay reviews, working hours, leave, and notice periods?

    1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

      Your employer tells you what those rules are. And then they change them on a whim.

      Source: am living and working in the dystopian hellscape called America.

      1. Dragonfly7*

        Yes. My working hours, especially, can change at any time, and there are no regular pay reviews.

      2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It’s not entirely that bad, but your leverage mainly comes from your savings, transferable job skills, and how tight the labor market is. Often your only true trump card is your willingness to walk out the door and let the employer try to replace you.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Which means that our system favors the elite and privileged who have all these things. Funny how that works.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            I would say it favors the prepared, with an agreeing nod that ability to prepare is skewed by, but not dictated by, various intersections of privileges.

            It’s certainly not a perfect system, but it’s not quite the Slavery and Serfdom it’s oft compared to.

            1. Your Local Password Resetter*

              It does directly favor a lot of privilige though. When you don’t have a social safety net and your personal savings are dictated by many things out of your control, there is only so much you can actually do about it.
              Getting lucky and being born in the priviliged groups is by far the easiest way to get ahead and get a good life in America.

      3. Dasein9*

        Yep. And access to health care is tied to employment, so there’s a lot of pressure to just accept what the employer dishes out.

      4. NaoNao*

        Well, we do have state and federal laws around work hours, leave, etc–and those are not subject to the whims of the employer. It doesn’t cover all the things a contract might, but the idea is that a contract has a downside for an employee–it can have clauses like “you must give 4 weeks notice” (which I think is common in the UK and other countries) that could be a bit of a hardship.

        1. Teapot Wrangler*

          Giving notice isn’t a hardship – just a norm. As most people have to give 1 -3 months notice, people work with that expectation. It is also mutual so your employer would need to give you three months notice or three months pay in lieu of notice so you have time to find a new job.

        2. Media Monkey*

          not really – as it’s expected, everyone works around it. we normally ask early on in the process what notice period people have (and if we are replacing a departing employee they likely have a similar notice period).

    2. The Original K.*

      Sometimes there are employee handbooks, sometimes those things are in offer letters, sometimes you operate via norms. In some industries if you give notice you’ll be walked out that day (e.g. financial services) so you know to have all your ducks in a row on the day you want to be your last. In some, two weeks’ notice is standard. But yes, non-union American workers (which is the majority of American workers) are very vulnerable. The good thing is that the tide is turning and employees are realizing that “at will” works both ways.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Remember that you’ll get an employee handbook, sign something that says you read and agree with it, will be expected to follow it, but this is somehow not a contract of employment (and will explicitly say so) and will not be binding on your employer.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some of it is enshrined in law — like overtime pay for certain job categories or required breaks. Everything else is up to your employer, and can generally be changed at any time (although employers need to balance that against what it takes to attract and retain good employees, as well as what the norms are in your field).

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Alison, can you try occasionally to help make Americans more conscious of just how screwed up this arrangement is by the standards of almost everywhere else in the civilized world? I think one reason we put up with it instead of pushing to change the law is that most of us genuinely don’t know that it’s not done elsewhere, or that it’s unreasonable by the standards of anyone except Americans who’ve been indoctrinated to tolerate it. I know that you have encouraged unionization before, even though you’re a manager and it’s not necessarily in your best interests as such for workers to unionize… can you please go a little further and help make Americans aware that having all the terms of their employment dangling from their employer’s whim is not simply a natural condition that everyone has to accept?

        1. Arthenonyma*

          Oh, this is interesting to read, given that we’ve just had a couple of posts with a lot of commenters complaining about non-US people commenting on things like vacation time… I know a lot of people here see it as boasting or superiority but my own experience (UK) is that I have to bite back the impulse to comment on it when comes up for precisely this reason – it feels like so many US workers don’t even recognise how unreasonable it seems to people not part of their system.

          (Though I actually think the irritation on those comments is a basic “long-time commenter vs casual drive-by reader” problem – people who’ve been here for a while DO know this stuff and are understandable irritated to see it brought up like it’s a brand new concept over and over, whilst the people just reading their very first AAM article are often genuinely shocked by US norms…)

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Yeah, I do think that the US vs other countries benefits discussion gets incredibly tiresome. I have seen this dynamic on other discussion boards and one thing that does seem to help is having a commenting FAQ or more general commenting guidelines for specific topics.
            This is a very well-moderated board, but I think that topic guidelines might help some of the comment threads on controversial topics to be a bit less heated. Unfortunately, people generally don’t get any nicer if they start off annoyed that X topic has been brought up for the 800th time.

          2. Maple*

            I don’t think anyone object to non-US people commenting on things like vacation time. I think the irritation have more to do with the fact that a lot of times it’s obvious that the commenters are NOT genuinely shocked, but are just using it as an opportunity to crap on the US and try to convince Americans that they are better than us. That’s what happened yesterday with the conversation about vacation. The letter wasn’t even about not having enough vacation time, but some non-US commenters brought that up anyway so they could tell us how *baffled* they are about it.

            1. Arthenonyma*

              So, respectfully, I disagree with your interpretation of those comments. I don’t disagree that people were bringing it up needlessly on that post – but what I saw there was exactly what I just described, this thing where you’re sitting there as a non-US citizen, watching all these people talk about 5 days of vacation per year like they think that’s generous, and there is absolutely a desire to grab someone by the shoulders and shout “HOLY SHIT DO YOU REALISE THIS IS NOT NORMAL?” Were people using that letter as an excuse to do that? Yes, and I was rolling my eyes tbh – but where you’re seeing “oh they think they’re better than us”, I’m seeing people trying clumsily to help others advocate for themselves.

              For the record, I still think people should knock it off, permanently. The potential “benefit” of empowering someone via one internet comment is so low as to be negligible and it happens so often of course it’s annoying. I just really, really disagree with this “oh the non-Americans think they’re so much better than us” take that I keep seeing.

              1. Paolo*

                Where are you seeing people talk about their 5 days of vacation per year like they think that’s generous? When Americans talk about only having 5 days of leave, it’s almost always in the context of it not being enough. I’ve been reading AAM for years and I don’t think I have ever seen a letter or comment where I thought to myself, “this poor, brainwashed American doesn’t know that 5 days isn’t enough leave and they need to be educated.”

                The assumptions that we don’t realize what the problems are, or that we need help advocating for ourselves, or we need to be “empowered” by some European are, frankly, insulting. Americans understand the problems far better than Europeans ever will.

                1. Working Hypothesis*

                  I’m American, and I wish I thought you were right. I do think that Americans usually recognize that they, individually, are not treated well. But I’ve seen a far too frequent total lack of awareness that there can be any other way to be treated than the range that’s commonly available within the American system.

                  So, for example, somebody with five days of vacation will know perfectly well that they should be getting more. But they think in terms of getting a whole two or three weeks due to the generosity of some employer’s policy, because that’s the best they’re used to seeing within their personal range of experience. That’s the best that happens in the world they’ve known. The idea that there could be several weeks’ minimum leave enshrined in law doesn’t even occur to them as one of the possibilities, let alone as the *standard* model, from which the one they live in is an extreme outlier.

                  So yes, I do think we need to learn more about how things are done in the world beyond our borders. Maybe the learned commentariat here already knows this stuff, but a huge percentage of the American work force does not. Just because you’re aware of the problem doesn’t mean you have a clue what solutions are even possible, let alone being used on a regular basis elsewhere.

          3. Emmy Noether*

            I’ve written and deleted a few posts comparing worker’s rights and healthcare where I am to the US because upon re-read, they came across as braggy.

            I think there is legitimate value in comparing how different systems work, to see what is possible (and to take the wind out of the sails of those predicting immediate economic collapse if anything changed). It shouldn’t be condescending or faux-shocked though, I can see why that doesn’t land well. And it should be actually informational.

        2. anon for this*

          Some of this is absolutely messed up, but it’s also about culture and tradeoffs. The US enshrines rugged individualism, in general in Europe the focus has been more on collectivism. The US was created in reaction to Great Britain, but Europe is the home of nationalism. Collectivism in Europe was forged in the crucible of two world wars, in part deliberately engineered to defuse toxic nationalism after WWII. Both are cracking right now under aging populations, cultural diversity (not actually new, but “other” populations are much more visible now), and accelerating change. Not always in a good way, American individualism is being replaced by us-versus-them collectivism that can be very dangerous. Remember a lot of unions started to keep “those people” out of “our jobs.” Some of the unions in my line of work still operate that way.

          The protections in some European countries are fantastic if you get them, but many workers don’t. Zero hour contracts are common in the UK, minority unemployment is absurdly high in many countries because collective responsibilities only apply to white people, etc, etc etc. It’s not a panacea.

          I work for a global company, and I know my experience colors my preferences, but I mostly prefer the US setup. There are tradeoffs with everywhere – the US pays the most, EU has the most vacation, HK has the most holidays, India has the longest statutory notice period. It’s the easiest to fire someone in the US, but it’s also the easiest place to get a new job (i’m not saying it’s easy, just easier on average).

        3. Maple*

          I slightly disagree with you. I think most Americans are very, very aware of the problems of employment in the US, especially the problems they experience personally. I don’t like the implementation that we’ve all been brainwashed into accepting things that are bad for us. That’s a huge oversimplification. There’s been a very public conversation about this for a while, especially since the pandemic started. So I don’t think there’s a need for raising awareness about how screwed up things are, but I do think its worthwhile to raise awareness about how people can change things- resources for unionizing, how to advocate to congressional reps, how to take action at the local level, etc.

          1. Working Hypothesis*

            I agree that Americans are usually very aware of the problems. What I don’t see very much is an awareness of how wide the range of possible solutions is. There really has been a consistent attempt to brainwash Americans into believing that the entire economy will collapse if we did X thing, whether X thing is to finance healthcare on a national basis, or to provide better protection against firing at will, or to guarantee paid parental leave (which we eventually got, to a very minimal degree, and it didn’t — but it was still being predicted right up till the moment it happened), or to bring the minimum wage in line with the rise in costs from the time it was implemented, or to raise taxes on the wealthy to a point that can pay for a robust social safety net.

            None of these EVER actually crash the economy, and there are many, many economies elsewhere which do all of them, and thrive. The times when we actually do one of them, it often *improves* the local economy, as when some local areas and states raised the minimum wage to $15/hour and disaster was predicted. But the same politicians and “news” broadcasters continue predicting disaster, and an awful lot of Americans believe them, and fear taking the chance.

            I think if more of us had personal experience with how things worked in countries which did the things we’re taught can’t be done, we’d be less easy to brainwash. But with oceans between us and all but two neighbors, it can be difficult to go find out on our own. So, for those of us who don’t travel internationally, how else do we learn that the fears we’re being fed are so much BS, except to hear from those who live in the places which do what we’re told is impossible?

        4. Insert Clever Name Here*

          I wonder if this type of thing would work better as a post than as a discussion in the comments. Then at least it could be something easily sharable, like “see this post where Alison discussed differences in benefits among several countries.”

          1. Cdn Acct*

            I think that’s a fantastic idea. It would make it much easier to cut short comment threads repeating things, and would likely be a lot more thorough comparison and organized as well!

        5. Teapot Wrangler*

          The unions not including management thing is something I struggle to get my head round in the US. In the UK, anyone can be part of the union from shopfloor to CEO…

        6. Jack Bruce*

          I’m a day late to this topic but really, we KNOW so many of us know but are not able to walk out or strike. So please don’t assume Americans reading this just don’t do this cause they’re unaware. It starts to sound high-handed after hearing it so often.

    4. Amber Rose*

      Canada is the same. The rules are in the employee handbook, or word of mouth if your company really sucks, and subject to change whenever they feel like. As for pay reviews, there’s a reason Alison has to advise so many people to push for raises and such. I went 6 years without a single review at the job I’m in now.

      On the plus side, notice periods are a courtesy not a rule. So if I need to get out fast, I can.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I’m Canadian and I have a contract, though some stuff is in the contract and some is in the employee handbook.
        My contract specifies the notice period.
        For context: I’m a software developer.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            Maybe industry or region specific?
            Just about every job I’ve had has had one.

    5. Don*

      Someday when you want to feel bad for us, google up “employment at-will” and allot some time to wonder (as I often do) why stuff here isn’t constantly being set on fire.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        The answer I’ve come up with when I have also wondered about this is: because most people are reasonable most of the time. Sure, legally my manager could fire me for wearing a green shirt or any number of other petty and ridiculous reasons. But then they would have to lead a team with an unfilled position and/or start the hiring process to replace me and the momentary power trip isn’t worth the hassle of the consequences (again, for most managers).

        1. bamcheeks*

          What this is means in practice is that the system works most of the time for most people with privilege and the power to change it, and most of the people who get screwed over by it do not have privilege or the power to change it.

          (FTR this is not a uniquely US problem, UK employers have found plenty of ways to get around the legal requirement for a contract for most jobs where employees don’t have the power or skills to pushback, and our union protections seem to be incredibly weak compared to the US.)

          1. The Prettiest Curse*

            Agreed, we have plenty of unethical, exploitative employers in the UK even though we (mostly) have contracts – the most recent example being P&O Ferries. And things are not going to get any better now that the government has failed to bring forward a new employment rights bill that they’ve been promising since 2019.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        why stuff here isn’t being constantly set on fire

        Oh, I imagine that’s coming. :P

      3. dz*

        I lurk on r/legaladvice and SOOO many Americans think we have way more legal protections than we actually do. People are constantly baffled at how narrowly “wrongful termination” is defined. Like, their boss fired them for a mistake their coworker actually made, and they think that was an illegal firing and they can sue and get a bunch of money. Nope.

        1. Media Monkey*

          and the fact (often misunderstood and clarified by alison regularly) that a hostile workplace isn’t just one where people are mean to you!

    6. CatCat*

      It’s pretty much the wild west here. Some things are dictated by law like when you are entitled to overtime compensation and some leave is protected (though unpaid). There are federal and state laws governing these things. State laws vary state-to-state. Otherwise, it is mostly up to the parties involved. Notice periods are not a requirement. Like if I want to quit today, I can go ahead and do that with no notice (this would be seen as a serious faux pas though absent extenuating services) and if my employer wants to let me go to day, they can go ahead and do that (not a serious faux pas on their part to give no paid notice period though… yes, there is an imbalance between employers and employees here).

      1. Sloanicote*

        Yeah I think there’s some business norms/conventions at play rather than having everything enshrined in contract – and of course there’s a lot of pitfalls to that approach.

        1. Varthema*

          Not unlike a lot of norms surrounding the president and how s/he should behave – we learned from 2016-2020 how many of those things were just “how things are done” and not put in writing anywhere!

    7. WillowSunstar*

      Most companies have written policies about such things, and they’re located either in a hard copy, electronic copy on the internal web site, or both. However, companies have a tendency to change their minds about their policies when they get a new CEO, which can happen every few years or even more frequently in some industries.

      Also, if a company gets bought out, all bets are off on what the new policies will be. They can change to be more like the bigger company who acquired the smaller company or change both company’s policies.

      That being said, you can opt to do contract work as a temporary employee/contractor, but that tends to lead to job instability. Also at many companies, if you’re a contractor, you get treated like a second-class citizen. I temped for the first decade of my career.

    8. doreen*

      There are policies and handbooks and offer letters that will give information about such things – but in the absence of a contract, those rules can be changed going forward by the employer with no negotiation.

    9. Hlao-roo*

      Working hours and annual leave are usually specified in the offer letter.

      Pay review information is sometimes in a company handbook or similar company policy document. Some companies review pay regularly, some do not.

      The standard, culturally accepted notice period in the US is two weeks. Some places explicitly request more, and this is usually stated in company handbooks.

      Offer letters and company policies are not binding like a contract is. But while employers legally can change working hours, leave, salary, etc. they usually don’t because employees would leave. The general employment system in the US is absolutely lacking in some areas, but it works for most people most of the time.

      1. Bow Ties Are Cool*

        Mmm…full-time versus part-time, and “standard office hours” (as in, we are “open” 8-5) are usually in the offer letter, but actual working hours (particularly when you’re salaried) are not. I’ve worked places where full-time was 8-5 Monday-Friday, and places where it was 8-5 Monday-Friday, and also we expect you to take your laptop home and put in another 20 hours on evenings and weekends. Generally the latter during recessions when they knew you’d have a hard time finding something else…

        1. Hlao-roo*

          That’s true, there are plenty of times where working hours are not in the offer letter. Sometimes they are discussed/confirmed in the process of interviewing or accepting the offer, other times you learn when you show up for the first day of the job! Definitely a system with a lot of room for improvement.

    10. No_woman_an_island*

      Google ‘at will employment’ and have a good laugh at the expense of me and my fellow Americans.

      1. No_woman_an_island*

        Sorry, wasn’t trying to copy anyone. Hadn’t yet seen the above comment saying the same when I posted.

    11. MK*

      Keep in mind that the reason contracts are common in countries with stronger labour laws is that a lot of the things specified in your contract are legally mandated or upheld by the courts. We have contracts that state where we work in my country, but even if we didn’t, legal precedent states an employer cannot arbitrarily change the location. Employers have little reason to resist contracts in these circumstances.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        A lot of the standard text is mandated anyway, yes. But there can also be stuff that benefits the employer too, such as longer notice periods. It’s a two-way contract binding both parties, after all.

        Also, it being harder to fire people and courts being friendlier to employees means it’s more in the interest of the employer to have everything in writing, signed, to be able to prove things.

        Also also, by now it’s just in the culture. People would think it’s a scam if there wasn’t one.

    12. Person from the Resume*

      Generally large companies don’t tend to change things on a whim, and they can’t just keep removing benefits without the good employees with options quitting. They usually document leave benefits in handbooks, policy, and tracking systems and that rarely changes. When it does, it’s a big deal. However companies did this during COVID and blamed loss of income from COVID so it’s not impossible.

      Pay reviews and notice periods are not often enshrined in policy. From what I can tell in US regular/annual pay reviews are not a standard thing. And notice period is generally 2 weeks notice by profesisonal convention but not enforced by anything. The company can make your last day earlier than you want. You can stop working there earlier than they want, but they only have a legit complaint about your professionalism if it’s less than 2 weeks.

      What recently happened to some people I know is that their smaller (but not small) tech compnay was acquired by a larger tech company with more bureaucracy and they lost the option to work a standard compressed schedule of 9 hour work day with every other friday off. The larger company with more bureaucracy didn’t allow the compressed schedule option. The people who lost the compressed schedule are bummed.

    13. Generic Name*

      That is correct. We typically have employee manuals, but the company can update those basically whenever. I can get fired at any time for any reason or no reason at all (as long as the reason isn’t illegal). The flip side is I can quit whenever I want. Of course, access to health care is tied to employment, so it’s to a person’s great disadvantage to quit their job with nothing lined up. I have no idea why anyone would voluntarily move here, honestly.

      1. Wintermute*

        I’m thinking of moving to the US (but still within my company). It would be on US terms so I’d lose the sigificant protections I have in my German contract and labor laws – but I have a strong safety net in that I can get back into the German healthcare system and my savings would comfortably tide me over until I retire in 10 years. Also my skills are in high demand so I’d probably get a job with a few calls, either as an employee or freelancer.
        But that’s obviously a special case; most people don’t have that luxury.

      2. Beans*

        I voluntarily moved to the US from a small European country and I’m glad I did. I completely understand that the US does a terrible job of supporting people in low wage jobs and if I were a low wage worker, I would rather be in Europe, but as a middle class person with education and somewhat in-demand skills, I prefer working in the US for a lot of reasons (higher salaries, lower taxes, more job opportunities). In practice, I don’t see any difference between having a contract and having an employee handbook. They both serve the same purpose.

        1. Name (Required)*

          Not really – employee handbooks can be changed at any time and are not a guarantee of anything.

        2. Clobberin' Time*

          A contract is a legally binding agreement. An employee handbook is an informational document. They’re very different things. A lot of employees find this out the hard way.

          Many people think an employee handbook has some legal effect because they’re asked to sign something saying they’ve read it. All that means is that the employer is creating a paper trail that you read the handbook and know what’s in it, so you can’t later say you had no idea that a particular rule or policy existed.

          1. Beans*

            Yes, employers can certainly change employee handbooks, but there are also plenty of crappy employers in my home country that will try their best the bend the rules of an employment contract and sometimes they get away with it. I was just saying as someone who has experienced both systems, I find that they really aren’t that different in practice.

            1. Clobberin' Time*

              In the US, both in practice and in law, an employee handbook and a contract are very different things. A handbook is a one-sided document that doesn’t bind the employer to anything. A contract is a legally binding agreement, which is one reason they are very unusual in the US for employment.

          2. Jora Malli*

            And usually that “I have read the handbook” affidavit we sign also contains a paragraph about how policies are subject to change at any time.

            1. The Prettiest Curse*

              Not sure if this is different under California law or if my employers just had good practices, but when I was working there, we had to sign a new page to indicate that we accepted any major changes to the employee handbook.

              1. Clobberin' Time*

                That’s so your employer has a record that you were aware of the things in the employee handbook, and you can’t later claim that they made changes after the last time you signed such that you weren’t aware of those changes.

        3. Emmy Noether*

          From my perspective, it’s sort of like insurance: as long as nothing bad happens, it’s “better” to not pay it and have more money, but if the shit hits the fan, I’ll be glad for it.

          So sure, I could move to the US and have a higher standard of living, and it would quite likely be completely fine. But I’d rather have that safety net of knowing that if I got seriously sick, or became disabled, or invested my retirement money unwisely, I wouldn’t be completely fucked.

      3. Kyrielle*

        Heck, it’s still to your disadvantage to leave *with* something lined up if you have any expensive ongoing healthcare needs. Your new company’s policy will be new to you, and you’ll start all over with meeting the deductible and max out-of-pocket. Not so bad with HMOs, not too bad with the better PPOs, but pretty terrible with some of the high-deductible plans. (My current coverage for myself and my children has a $4000 deductible and $11000 max OOP. Now imagine switching employers mid-year and starting over again with another, similar plan. Yuck.)

    14. Esmeralda*

      Hahahaha, bless your heart!

      It’s the US of A. Land of the free, home of the employer can F you up pretty much however they want. A union contract will help, but is not rock solid.

      Sending you greetings from a so-called right to work state, where I’m a state employee, no union and none likely in my lifetime. God bless Starbucks and Amazon workers, may they succeed with their union organizing in this state.

    15. Lacky*

      Is it really that mind-blowing that different countries have different ways of doing things? The US is hardly the only country that doesn’t do employment contracts.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Well if you’re not used to something it seems weird. Yesterday I was freaked out by blood pancakes simply because that’s not the way I was raised

        1. Elizabeth West*

          *googles* 0_O
          I’ve eaten and enjoyed black pudding but that is pretty different.

    16. Never Nicky*

      It’s interesting you all mention company handbooks.

      In the UK, in my experience, company handbooks and policies explicitly say that they are NOT part of the contract of employment.

      This does give flexibility to change policies on a whim (or with some thought, depending on employer!) – for example, dress codes, safeguarding, IT usage but your contract cannot be changed without your consent.

      And you must, by law, receive your contract within 13 weeks of starting employment.

      To go back to OP and remote working though – I worked remotely (and was the only employee doing so) for five years before the pandemic, even though my contract said my main place of work was the office. So even if it’s not standard practice, it can be done. BUT – I now have a contract that reflects my remote status. So much is changing in the organisation that having it in writing gives me piece of mind.

      1. bamcheeks*

        That’s exactly the point— the company handbook represents policies and practice, but is not legally binding and can be changed unilaterally by the employer, AIUI.

    17. bluephone*

      It’s called at-will employment and is not really a “whaaaaa??? so crazy!!!!” phenomenon. It does allow the employee to be like, “you know what? I’m out” without a lot of strings.

      Being born and raised in the U.S., I think employment contracts for anything besides like, an acting job (or book publishing deal) is SUPER weird and I’d seriously side-eye my (US born and bred) company if they were suddenly trying to make us all sign *contracts* in exchange for our paychecks.

      1. Emmy Noether*

        I also learned about it on this very site and still think it’s pretty crazy.

      2. Eyes Kiwami*

        Sincere question, what strings back hold an employee with a contract who quits?

        I work under a contract, and I can still terminate my contract and quit at any time, because it’s not slavery… I have to give notice in principle but there’s nothing forcing me to return to the company. Some workers on fixed term contracts may have some penalties for breaking the contract early, but not on general work contracts. Do other countries have limitations on when an employee can quit?

      3. Testerbert*

        In the UK, while notice periods are present in most/all employment contracts, if you walk off the job and refuse to work your notice period, your former employer can only recover costs from you by a) taking you to court and b) can only recover costs in excess of what they would’ve had to pay for you to do the work.

        That means that if your employer had to hire a temp in who was paid £5 an hour over your rate of pay, they’d have to go through all the time & effort of going to court, just to retrieve that £5 an hour. I don’t believe any other costs (such as, you know, lawyers) are recoverable in such cases, so most businesses just shrug and move along. It would only be a factor for very highly paid, specialised work, but the power dynamics at that point are very different.

    18. EventPlannerGal*

      This stuff always makes me wonder if my (UK) contract is somehow unusual! My contract is a piece of A4 that outlines the very basic stuff (this is your job title, this is where/when you will do it, you will get paid this much, your notice period is this long), and then I also have a giant employee handbook with all the details about annual reviews, dress codes, confidentiality policies, anti-bribery, all that stuff. They’re definitely two different documents and I think the contract has some language about my employment being subject to the terms laid out in the employee handbook. I’m curious if in the US the set-up is something like that, or if you just get the handbook and that’s it?

      1. Generic Name*

        We get an offer letter that typically outlines job title and rate of pay. It’s not really seen as legally binding. They can literally change everything about the offer the day you show up, and your only recourse is to quit/find another job and then quit. (I’m sure you’ve seen the letters here where folks show up to a job thinking it would be one thing but it turns out it’s different and what do they do?)

    19. Nancy*

      It’s in the employment handbook and your offer letter. Things are explained to you during orientation. You can access the handbook at any time. All policy at my company has the date it was updated and the vast majority have dates over 10 years ago. Some updates occur because the law changes.

      And ‘at-will’ employment works both ways. It allows employees to leave whenever they want for any reason.

      1. TechWorker*

        On your last point, I would say the contract mostly protects the employee in most cases. Yes, you might technically have a month notice period but if you had some awful personal emergency or some really bad situation at work, then it’s mostly not in the employers interest to enforce it. Maybe they would if you were very senior and valuable but most of the time U.K. folks can very much also ‘leave whenever they want and for any reason’.

        1. TechWorker*

          Sorry, with the critical difference being your employer generally can’t let you go tomorrow unless it’s gross misconduct, so you get at least some period of notice that your income is gone.

      2. bamcheeks*

        Contracts don’t prevent an employee leaving in the UK. Obviously some very senior people will have contracts with long notice periods but it’s not really possible for an employer to enforce that legally if the employee really wants to leave.

      3. Kevin Sours*

        Except it’s amazing how salty employers get when somebody actually does that.

    20. Making up names is hard*

      I’m in this US. Most of my jobs have been no contract nor written agreement. About to start a new job that has a written agreement/offer letter that both parties are signing. However, it does not count legally as a contract though it would help if managers change and I want to keep things that I negotiated when hired. However, as Alison says, employer actually can decide to change any of that any time with no notice, just like I can quit at any time with no notice.

      I have also been a “contractor” which is someone who is basically self-emloyed that a company hires for a specific task or project. There actually is a contract in that case with stipulations like penalties for late payments. But contractors are notoriously mistreated and mis-categorized, and don’t get the perks or protections of actually being an employee. It’s more like being an outside consultant.

    21. TechWorker*

      I think it also makes a difference that U.K. employment law is stronger to start with – and also that not all the things in your contract are in all U.K. contracts. I’m 100% sure mine doesn’t include anything about pay review, because they ‘paused’ those during the pandemic. And ‘zero hours’ contracts are very much a thing.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yes, zero hours contracts are terrible. We guarantee you 0 hours of work per week, but we also won’t let you work for anyone else. Ugh.

    22. Student*

      “How do you know what the rules are around things like pay reviews, working hours, leave, and notice periods?”

      Pay reviews are per company, are often not transparent to workers, and often just don’t exist. I’d bet pay reviews are a thing for less than 10% of US workers. When you want to change your pay rate, you change your job or ask for a raise at your current job.

      Working hours have a couple laws that vary by where you live. They are also broadly unenforced laws, though. In some jobs, your manager tells you the hours, and they can vary weekly. Some jobs (a minority of them) have very little enforcement of hours, if you’re getting your workload done. In jobs where hours are critical, there’s generally some way to track them electronically, either by time sheets and an accompanying time sheet policy, or physical cards that you use to clock in, or just by management supervision and tracking.

      Leave varies by job. There are a couple types of rare leave that are legally required, but it’s mostly up to the company. You ask about it before you agree to the job, usually. Many jobs have no paid leave; you trade hours with your co-workers to get whatever leave you need, or you ask for unpaid leave. Two weeks is standard in white-collar jobs.

      There are no notice period requirements when there is no contract. The convention is to give 2 weeks notice before you quit in most jobs across the country, with exceptions. No-shows are common in high-turnover jobs, and the only recourse is for the manager to give you a bad reference if somebody asks. Jobs are generally not required to give you notice that you’re getting either fired or laid off, with some exceptions.

  10. Critical Rolls*

    This made me think of the recent letter about a company that didn’t bother writing separate job descriptions for a bunch of positions, instead choosing to post a single wrong description with a bunch of skills and hope they somehow got good candidates for several jobs out of it. HOW does this happen? HOW can all these human beings have so little understanding of other human beings? “This is important to me.” “Okay, we’re not going to figure that out, or maybe actively mislead you. I’m sure that will be fine. This is a good use of everyone’s time.”

    1. Hlao-roo*

      That post was a very “penny-wise, pound-foolish” situation. “We’ll save three hours by only writing one generalist job description instead of four separate posting for the four different, specialized roles we need, then waste weeks interviewing people who are interested in generalist positions and scratch our heads wondering where all the specialists are.” I’m as baffled by it as you are, Critical Rolls.

      (“my family member says it’s bad to withdraw from a hiring process even if I know I don’t want the job” for those who missed it.)

    2. bamcheeks*

      Yes, I can really understand employers liking someone’s CV and *not being sure* whether fully remote work will be possible, since it might depend on the exact skill set or going to bat for it against senior management or how strong the other candidates are or what the strategic priorities might look like in a year’s time— but you can just be upfront about that, and let the candidate decide how much time they want to invest! It’s the same with companies that don’t want to share salary information upfront. It’s your own time you’re wasting too, and why would you not want to not do that if it’s eminently possible? Why the hinting rather than straight up asking?

      1. Karia*

        I had a situation where one of the hiring managers obviously liked me and put me forward for two vacancies at the company, but in both cases the other one balked at remote work. It was great that they were keen on my candidacy, but if it wasn’t an option, I wish they’d just been upfront.

  11. Not a Spawn of Satan*

    What I ended up doing was focusing on companies that were entirely remote

  12. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I would not spend a lot of time on a company or role where this was continually in question. There are plenty of companies out there that know how to manage remote teams well while doing great work. Go find them.

  13. UK-dweller in probably same industry as OP*

    Just to clarify, almost all jobs in the UK will have a contract, and this contract will usually also contain the (minimum or expected) hours and expectation for remote vs onsite.

  14. LDN Layabout*

    Homeworking should absolutely be explicitly noted in your contract if you’re UK based (ignoring Covid as a rule because that was just a mess and a big ask for companies to update their contracts for temporary measures).

    This is something you need to look out for 100% with wanting to be remote except for a few exceptions, if you’re hybrid working your contract is more likely to state you’re based in X office or similar, and it’s the internal documentation that will state how many days a week or % of your time should be spent in office.

  15. Dona Florinda*

    I think some companies are still stuck in the mindset that candidates should grateful for getting an offer and therefore should be willing to budge. Hopefully the employer’s market we’re currently experiencing will help with that.

    1. Zweisatz*

      That was my feeling as well with some of my recent interviews. It depends on the people in the interview and their recent experiences with hiring, probably, but I think some of them don’t have a realistic idea yet of what they need to offer to be truly attractive.

  16. KHB*

    Is this company compensating its recruiters based on the number of candidates they pull in, regardless of whether the candidates actually end up taking a job with the company? Or is the recruiter hoping you’ll take the job without actually discussing the remote/on-site requirements with the hiring manager, so that by the time you find out the hiring manager can’t give you what the recruiter promised, the recruiter will have already gotten their bonus?

    It seems like there are so many letters about recruiters making promises that the company can’t follow through on, and I can’t help but wonder whether it’s really all genuine miscommunication, or whether there’s some deliberate deception going on by people working at cross purposes.

    1. Karia*

      I think it’s a lot of wishful thinking. I was as blunt as was possible (while still being polite) and I still had multiple recruiters put me forward for hybrid / in office vacancies. I think it was the recruiter thinking, “Hopefully the company / candidate will budge and I will still get my commission!”

  17. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    As an employer, I am always astonished by this. It’s hard enough in a normal hiring environment to hire someone in my industry. In this economy? You waste your own time interviewing candidates who will turn down any offer once the truth comes out. You also burn your credibility with your own employees. It’s ridiculous.

  18. ijustworkhere*

    Sometimes it seems employers have learned nothing. They sent people home, work got done, most people liked the new set up, and yet at first opportunity they are insisting on returning to the old ways of working. I think the next couple of years are going to be very chaotic for employers who can’t understand the “new normal.”

    I applaud all of you who are standing up for yourselves. I’m a woman of an earlier generation and we were too afraid of getting booted out of the workforce to insist on decent, reasonable expectations in the workplace. Most job protections didn’t even exist yet.

    For example, I went back to work when my first child was 5 days old due to the ultimatum— “Either you or your resignation letter needs to be here on Monday–your choice.” Thank god for my mother and MIL.

    Glad to see you all refusing to roll over!

    1. Just stoppin' by to chat*

      5 days old?! Oh no. So sorry you felt the pressure to do that, and shame on everyone that put you in that position. I bet they all said they were “Pro-Family” and yet clearly that does not extend to your newborn that needed time to bond with their own mother! Thank you for laying the groundwork for people like to be a working mother, but still have time to be with our families.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      And the most annoying thing is, at least to me, that people got the work done remotely even while 1) having children at home without separate childcare; 2) having to supervise said children’s remote schooling; 3) having a partner or spouse also working from home, sometimes IN THE SAME ROOM; and 4) in the face of existential dread, pestilence, and death.

      Most of these things do not apply to normal work-from-home circumstances. Imagine how well people can do it without all this!

  19. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    It’s called “bait and switch”. It can be work conditions, job title, pay and bonuses, and career development — they talk one thing to get you in the door, and then when it’s “game time”, to use an NBA expression, all of a sudden things aren’t as they were supposed to be.

    1. Karia*

      The weirdest part is that employers who pull this are always the ones who are *outraged* when employees inevitably leave after 1-2 years when the job was significantly misrepresented.

  20. Essentially Cheesy*

    I think the job seeker’s requirement for 95+% remote work needs to communicated over a loudspeaker from the very first step in the process – and that it’s not a negotiable point.

    Here in the US – it would be very hit-or-miss. I work in the office portion of a manufacturing facility and it would not work for my position. Corporate office? Yes more likely.

  21. animaniactoo*

    Yes, bring it up immediately. In addition to the things Alison listed, it may have been pie-in-the-sky and they’re hoping that once you’re further along in the process, you will feel committed to continuing even after they change the rules. It’s okay to reject that hope for them. Quickly and without wasting any more of your own time.

  22. Billy from Madison*

    What we have here is yet another example of companies (possibly) trying to screw potential employees over by promising them something they never intend to keep. They know people are naturally resistant to change, especially jobs due to financial anxiety/security. Seems like they are just trying to reel OP in with no intention of this being 100% remote in the future. Makes my blood boil, y’all. Good luck, OP! I would run!

  23. Richard Hershberger*

    Why do companies do this? Just spit-balling, but my guess is that sometimes they really want it to be in-office, at least part of the time, but would budge for a dream hire. The claim that the job is remote is a marketing position, until the actual negotiations commence. The move to talking about hybrid is a negotiating position, but they might agree to fully remote if pushed.

    Another possibility: Often, I suspect, the employer regards “remote work” as boilerplate blather. It is the hot new jargon, so they put it in the ad right after “fast paced environment.” But they regard it as puffery, not a serious description of the job.

    Then there are the outright liars. Why do this? For the same reason that salespeople will flagrantly lie to initiate a discussion. They need to have that discussion to close the deal, so they will do whatever it takes to make that discussion happen.

      1. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

        “Hot New Boilerplate Blather” would be a great title for a workplace memoir.

    1. Arthenonyma*

      I think there’s a slightly softer version of the salesperson mindset as well, which is sort of like the creative writer mindset of “no-one is looking at my content, I’ll just tweak the description a bit to make it closer to the popular stuff, and then when they get reading they’ll realise they like it even though it wasn’t what they were looking for!” In this case it would be a feeling that “remote work” is the trendy vibe and they’re missing out on good candidates who are being (to their minds) too picky – if they can just get them in the door, those candidates will realise that they do want to do this job non-remote after all!!

      (Both the content creators and the hiring managers are misunderstanding/misinterpreting how much value the searcher is placing on that criterion, as well as over-estimating just how special and great their thing is and how people will definitely love it if they get through the door, rather than turning around and walking out because it’s not what they actually want.)

    2. Jules the First*

      Or it’s someone like me, where I have absolutely no problem hiring someone 100% remote (and would in a heartbeat for the right candidate), but because my immediate boss is deeply anti-wfh and I will have to go over her when I get approval to make that remote offer, a lot of the people my candidates talk with throughout the hiring process will talk about the job on the assumption that it is two days hybrid.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Then you need to coordinate your messaging better with the people your candidates talk to along the way, or you’ll lose out on a lot of good candidates who won’t put up with that.

    3. LilyP*

      I think there can also be an element of self-delusion about the uniquenes/attractiveness of their culture, like well this person might *think* they want remote work, but once they meet our team and see how special and collaborative and fun we are of course they’ll *want* to come into the office to Experience The Culture twice a week!

  24. nnn*

    Reminds me of this screenshot of a job ad I saw circulating recently, where the header said it was remote, and then the body text said it’s 100% on-site – without even deigning to mention what city it’s located in!

    Literally what do employers expect to happen??

    1. Working Hypothesis*

      They *expect* you’ll be so grateful for the chance to work with them that you’ll put up with anything. Then they’re genuinely shocked and outraged when that isn’t what happens.

  25. Lucky*

    I was hired to a fully remote position recently and when I met my manager to pick up my IT equipment she mentioned, while introducing me to a higher up, that I would probably have to start coming into the office for one day a week. I decided to ignore it as I felt she was testing the waters. It was never brought up again. I would have found a new job and quit asap. That was not a good first impression for me. I don’t know why they pull this stuff. There is absolutely no reason for me to sit in an office.

  26. Aggresuko*

    This sounds like what an online friend told me about recruiters: she said “don’t bother me unless it’s a remote job” and the recruiter said “they’re all back in person these days, get with the times.”

    Also, recruiters sound really terrible to me from what I’ve heard–it sounds like they promise all kinds of BS that the actual job won’t deliver on.

    1. WindmillArms*

      LMAO at “get with the times” meaning “go back to working in person.” Absolutely not, recruiter!

      1. The Original K.*

        I saw a recruiter post on LinkedIn that when an employer posts that they’re bringing their employees back to the office, she swoops in and poaches them for her fully remote roles and she’s been very successful.

        1. VP of Monitoring Employees’ LinkedIn and Indeed Profiles*

          I’ve seen that as a tweet…

          “Every time a competitor mentions return to office, our recruiters reach out to their people. We’ve hired 15+ of their engineers in the last 2 months.”

    2. Karia*

      I don’t think i’ve *ever* had a good experience with an external recruiter. I’m sure good ones exist, but mine have been uniformly negative.

  27. Lizy*

    It’s annoying and obnoxious. Trying to find a fully-remote gig is way worse than trying to find a “regular” job. Weeding through them is absolutely the worst part and definitely the most time-consuming. I don’t understand why companies won’t just be up-front about it! I’ve got to believe they hate weeding through applications that don’t meet their qualifications as much as job-seekers hate weeding through job postings…

    Anywho – stay in there. Remote jobs do exist! I found one last fall and have been at NewJob for about 6 months now. I love it. We’ve saved so much money because I’m not driving anywhere nor slinking off to grab a quick bite to eat somewhere, and that was before gas prices went obnoxious.

    It’s a pain. I’m sorry.

    1. KR*

      Agreed! Don’t lose hope OP! I searched for so long and I found a fully remote gig in my industry FINALLY. I am manifesting it in my mind for OP that they are going to get the perfect job offer.

  28. McS*

    In a small and rapidly growing company, especially one that can’t hire fast enough, a role may be tailored to a candidate. If I really need 2 full time people and half the work would be remote, the half I think you would fit may be 90% remote, or 10% remote. I try to be as transparent about that as possible from the beginning though, and proactively keep the candidate up to date if it seems their strengths fit with on site tasks any more than I might have suggested earlier. But in reality, part of the hiring process is sometimes finding a fit for a good candidate and the manager doesn’t always know from the initial resume read how much remote v onsite that fit will be.

  29. CoveredinBees*

    As for the recruiters, many just do a quick search for people with a specific skill or credential and write to everyone. I haven’t been an attorney for nearly a decade and I don’t have anything even vaguely relating to Arabic on my profile. Still, I recently was contacted for a bilingual (English-Arabic) attorney position well outside of my experience that would be “a perfect fit for your skills.” They wanted someone to handle corporate day-to-day things and I was a prosecutor and not in “white collar” related stuff.

    There may be some who are taking the time to read your profile and, not having any 100% remote jobs, don’t contact you. It’s hard to know who you aren’t hearing from.

  30. ArcticCounsel*

    This is really frustrating. This happened to me – I had even indicated that our household plan was to move close to the work location, but that we would need some time to transition. But the work was supposed to be remote.

    It turns out I was much more experienced than they’d realized and that was the primary reason for rejecting me, but they also threw in that they were looking at people living locally. Then what’s the point?

  31. anonymous73*

    If going in 2 days per week is a deal breaker for you, there’s no need to waste anyone’s time (including your own). Contact the recruiter before the interview and let them know. Tell them that your working remotely is non negotiable (and be up front from the beginning about this) and you want to withdraw from consideration. Unfortunately I see it all the time – the old bait and switch. They figure if they can get you in they can convince you to change your mind.

    I constantly get emails from recruiters and 95% of them fall into one of the following categories: 1. the role is for something I no longer do and am no longer qualified for (like when I was a developer almost 20 years ago), 2. the role is for something I’m not qualified for at all and if anyone had bothered to actually READ my resume instead of relying on a computer program to find a few key words they would know that, or 3. It says it’s remote at the top, but when you read the entirety of the job description it’s on site and not even local to me. If it’s wildly out of touch, I mark it as spam. Otherwise I ignore it because it’s not worth my time. I had one recently that sounded good – emailed back and asked the salary range. They replied with a number I was happy with so I asked details about it being full time remote. They didn’t respond again – I’m guessing they realized that the job wasn’t what I was looking for and stopped communication. I refuse to give them my time if they can’t provide pertinent info about the job.

  32. Carbovore*

    This happens all the time on the flipside as well–employers explicitly stating that a job will not have telework privileges and employees going ham about it once they’ve accepted the job.

    I have one example happening in the office right now that’s a nightmare. I made sure our posting said explicitly this was an in-person job, I stated it outright in emails where I requested interviews from applicants (People often skim postings so I want to make doubly sure before wasting time–I often have a lot of withdrawals at this point), I brought it up in the committee interview again and made sure the candidate understood, and I also brought it up while negotiating their hire and onboarding them.

    And what happened? From day one, the guy has fought against the policy and basically starts personnel insanity every two weeks, wishing to argue policy.

    I just wish both sides would be up front with eachother. I want an employee who will be happy to work at the job presented to them just as I am sure they don’t want to waste their time interviewing somewhere that misrepresented the position! It’s so frustrating, I wish people wouldn’t play with eachother like this.

    1. Karia*

      I had a similar situation years ago where an employee asked for flexible / remote work. The company was *extremely* rigid on hours, with zero flexibility even for very senior employees, did not offer remote work *at all*, and the person who requested it was lazy, incompetent and on the verge of being let go. It was just so odd.

      1. Carbovore*

        Yes, I didn’t mention the *other* issues with this particular employee that’s really making his case unsympathetic. I should also mention that I work in higher ed and the overall university has set the rules for telework. My unit in particular is only permitted to let employees telework one day a week (depending on the position and its ability to work remotely) and even there, employees have to have one year of service for the privilege. Lots of people are very grumbly about the lack of remote work but rules is rules. I am at least very transparent with people and let them know up front.

        This guy, like I said, is really not making us want to give him any overtures anyway. He has been with us just a couple months and has already asked:

        – When can I re-negotiate my salary (As it was, we had to get an above base request for what he wanted when we hired him. I fought the hiring official hard on this… I was pointing out even then to not hire this person as their expectations were already not in line with us. But the pandemic has made some hiring officials desperate.)
        – Can I work weekends and nights instead? And not come in the office? (No.)
        – I’ve burned all my leave. Can I telework? I don’t want to come in. (No.)

        It’s sad how the few rotten apples really spoil privileges for others.

    2. Working Hypothesis*

      Unfortunately, it’s the most reality-resistant members of both sides who demand exceptions. They’re usually not great in general, and they’re also usually the ones who don’t see anything wrong with crap tactics like this.

      Even if a company might be able to tempt me into doing more in-person time for them than I really want to — and usually, the companies which ask it aren’t the most tempting in other ways anyhow — they sure aren’t going to get me to reconsider my position by pulling a bait and switch on me. That just convinces me that these are people I wouldn’t ever want to work with, even if they suddenly agreed to everything I had requested, including the location.

      Likewise, a really great candidate might convince me, if I’m the hiring manager, that it’s worth making an exception to our in-person policy assuming the role is one which can actually be done from home. But 1) those aren’t usually the ones who ask; it’s usually the mediocre ones who ask, because the great ones who want to work from home just go get a company which doesn’t have an in-person position they talk about up front to begin with. And 2) even if I might otherwise consider it for them, I am much less likely to if they’ve accepted the job stating clearly that they’re okay with the rules and then immediately petitioning to change them.

      That’s just acting in bad faith. No matter who does it.

  33. Ari*

    This happened to me with a job that was advertised as remote but turned out they were looking for someone to relocate to NEW ZEALAND. Honestly a few years ago I might have considered it but was not going to move my family to the other side of the world for a random product manager job.

    1. Sad Desk Salad*

      I had something similar where the job was a really good opportunity but they wanted me to move to Switzerland. I honestly thought about it. I’ve wanted to move to Switzerland for years! If it were just the wife, we could’ve maybe made it work, but the three elderly cats would not have handled the trip well. Plus–what if the job, however good of an opportunity it is, doesn’t pan out, and suddenly I’m unemployable in a foreign country and have to navigate a move back to the US without a job? Too risky.

      1. DataGirl*

        The opposite happened to my husband, company moved 3 managers to the US from Germany, then 9 months later the company was bought out and everyone laid off. Luckily I’m a US citizen so he was able to stay with me sponsoring his Visa as opposed to an employer doing it, but if I hadn’t been a citizen we’d have had to move our entire family back to Europe on our own dime. That’s what the other two guys did- they were single so it wasn’t as horrible for them but the expense of moving an entire family internationally is not something we could have handled.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Moving internationally is so expensive, not to mention stressful! It’s incredibly crappy that your husband’s company messed him around like that. It’s not like relocating to a different part of the same country, FFS.

  34. Quickbeam*

    Newly retired, worked for a company that *hated* remote work and only allowed it under very dire circumstances. Completely anxious the whole pandemic about getting butts back in the cubes. 2 years work from home a huge success albeit with corporate whines every week about how empty the corporate headquarter/palace was without everyone.

    Now they require 2-3 days a week in the office, must include Monday and Friday. I retired instead. No way I could tolerate that again.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      gah, insisting that it include Monday and Friday is just annoying. When I was gearing up to come back from a year and a half of remote work, Monday was the next-to-the last day I added back into my office schedule, and Friday was the last day.

      1. Aggresuko*

        My office requires us to be in twice a week (constantly changing as to what days, of course) and we have to do one Friday and one Monday per month. I actually take most to all of the Fridays because I’m the one in-town person and otherwise the rest of them have a sloggy commute home.

        “But Mondays and Fridays are important!” they say, sigh.

        1. CoveredinBees*

          I have a suspicion that there is no real reason it NEEDS to be Mondays and Fridays other than they say so.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I think they’re just saying it bc they think people are somehow “cheating” by enjoying a long weekend? I did enjoy the soft start to the week by wfh on Mondays, and already being home at end of day on Friday, but I was still actually working. I think some of these bosses or companies suspect that people aren’t working?

      2. Richard Hershberger*

        I am reminded of the old Dilbert cartoon where the pointy-haired boss complains that fully 40% of all sick days are taken on a Monday or a Friday!

    2. Oakwood*

      They want you to be in the office Monday and Friday because they fear you will take a long weekend.

      Proof that they really don’t believe people who WFH are really working.

    3. Teapot Wrangler*

      Urgh. I don’t mind some of them but working in the office on Mondays should not be obligatory!

  35. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    I started fully remote in late 2019 so was able to experience working with a team where I was the only remote employee. I took to remote work like a duck to water, and I’m never going back to an office full time so the bait-and-switch would piss me off to no end. Since 2000, even when I was in an office we did all of our meetings with over the phone or video and all of us would take them at our desks since 75-90% of the participants were from different orgs and we all wanted to share screens, so I’m good at developing rapport remotely and find spontaneous communication easy. For my work, I’m not going back into an office because there is quite literally no work related reason to do so.

  36. Re*

    I pay for a FlexJobs subscription – it’s great to know those postings have been vetted.

  37. RaeofSunshine*

    I’ve been seeing this bait-and-switch on LinkedIn ads! The title of the post will be like “Senior Buyer III (remote)” and will be in the filter for remote work in the LinkedIn search. Once you actually scroll through the entire ad however, at the veryyy bottom there will be a disclaimer that says “Hybrid work 2 days/week” or even just “This role not eligible for remote work” and it’s SO FRUSTRATING.

    1. irene adler*

      I’m wondering if companies see a distinct difference between “remote” and “100% remote”.

      In which case, the job ad ought to define the terms of “remote”. For example: 1/week onsite.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Do they just think they get more eyes on the ad from putting the word “Remote” in there, and that’s all they care about?

      1. DataGirl*

        I may be a cynic but I think so, yes. They know a lot of people want to be remote now, many more than before the pandemic, so they think they can get more people looking at their posting by listing it as remote. It’s a total bait and switch.

  38. Meow*

    What about applying for companies in a different state? There’s always the small chance they’ll suddenly say you need to relocate (wasn’t there a letter like that on here once?) but applying for a job where it is impossible for you to ever be on-site will make it much more difficult for them to try to negotiate you into hybrid.

  39. Emilia*

    I was trying to post a job that is partly remote (ie only required onsite once or twice a week) and there was no such option in the UI. It was fully onsite, or remote, I couldn’t put hybrid or flex or anything. So in my case I specified it in the job description but it occurs to me, this could lead to misleading job posts.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Agreed… but there should still be an option for it the way it really is. If there isn’t one, the right thing to do is to call it in person, but there is no real excuse for why job listings sites don’t have a hybrid work category by now.

  40. Also in the UK*

    When you do get a role, your contract should state your usual place of work. So if your role is 100% remote, your contract should state you’re a home worker, and if they wanted to change that they’d have to change your contract (which I believe, but could be wrong, they can’t force you to do). You’ll probably find that the default contract your get either doesn’t mention location, or has you pegged to an office, so you’d definitely want to make sure your contract states you’re a home worker.

    I’m recruiting at the moment and our job ads specify a location. When asked about it in interviews, I explain to candiates that our company’s policy is hybrid working (1-2 days a week in the office), explaining what that means and looks like in practice currently, but am very explicit that although I can’t see it happening, your contract will have you based in a specific location 5 days a week, and the business can change its hybrid working policy at any time.

  41. LizJennings81*

    I am feeling this question today! I just got an offer from a place that seemed ideal in terms of role and challenge for my career path. Confirmed it was a remote team during interviews. Offer comes in and now they’re telling me that the head office will require people to come in 60 percent of the week starting in the next few months. As heartbreaking as it was, I turned it down. My situation right now isn’t great, but remote work is a solid thing (we were going to be allowed remote 3 days/week *pre*-pandemic).

  42. Harried HR*

    Our jobs are Hybrid…2 WFH 3 Office.

    The posting are listed as hybrid,

    Qualifying question “this is a X City based job can you reliably commute or are you willing to relocate”

    We STILL get applicants from the other side of the country looking for 100% Remote…

    Read – The – Job – Posting !!!!!

    End Rant

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      If I loved the role and company, I’d still probably send my résumé in on the off chance you decide to scale back the hybrid requirement to get more/better candidates.

      Prospective employees really don’t know if you’re asking for the moon and stars because you truly need astronauts, or because it’s trendy, or just because you can.

    2. Carbovore*

      I feel your pain, the positions I post pretty much say in-person, no ability to telework because where I work, telework is very limited and privileged, only offered after one year of service.

      I’ve built in more steps in my search process because inevitably, we get tons of applicants who are spamming and either a) didn’t catch it in the posting or b) did, and figure they’ll convince you during the process to let them work remotely.

      When I reach out to schedule interviews now, I often have in my email a sort of small summary about the things I expect people to withdraw over. No teleworking, no visa sponsorship, COVID vaccines required, etc. There’s always a few people who withdraw from consideration after a real person reiterates it to them in email.

      Sadly still…. I encounter people who actually get hired and then want to fight about policy and start issues over it, after they were made fully aware. Wastes so much time.

  43. Elle Kay*

    1. Put it in your cover letter if you’re not already doing so
    2. Drop the “95%” remote language. You want 100% remote after training and some meetings
    3. Don’t trust the recruiter. Their job is to recruit you and some will bend the truth. Ask to confirm in your first interview.
    4. Use specifics: A lot of the miscommunication could be attributed to different definitions of “remote.” In one job “remote” might be 100%-forever-remote and in another there might be an in-built assumption that you’ll always come in on Mondays for team meeting.

    1. Re*

      There’s another word for your scenario in number 4 …. “Hybrid.” It has a universally accepted meaning that everyone who’s not being intentionally stupid understands.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      3. Don’t trust the recruiter. Their job is to recruit you and some will bend the truth. Ask to confirm in your first interview.

      This is a big one. I asked about a background check and what it would cover on my last job, since it was contracting for the government. Recruiter told me it was a simple background check and nothing more.

      Wrong!! It was a “public trust clearance”, invasive, time consuming, and something I know I can’t pass due to reasons. So, I tried it anyway. Because of my disability they couldn’t even get good fingerprints! Sure enough, I didn’t pass and now I’m looking again.

      I still don’t know whether the recruiter was BSing me or whether the client changed their requirements shortly after I was hired.

  44. Lobsterman*

    My experience is that companies are simply lying about the job being remote in the first place and planning a bait-and-switch from go. I have no idea why they think this will work.

    1. Other Alice*

      Same reason why people lie on dating websites… They think they’re so awesome that once you get to know them you’ll understand the error of your ways in being so picky to begin with. The annoying part is that sometimes it works, thanks to our lizard brains and sunken costs! It’s a lot harder to refuse an offer, especially after you’ve taken the time to do multiple interviews, than to just not apply.

  45. Karia*

    When I was job hunting this happened *so many times*. I’d tell a recruiter I was looking for remote and find out at interview that they’re actually planning to go back to the office full time. I’d be told in the first and second interview that remote was fine then be rejected in the third because I wasn’t willing to travel to the office three days a week (90 min journey, each way, in one case). I’d open a remote vacancy and they’d admit in the fine print that it was actually hybrid. One careers website, *80%* of the remote vacancies were actually hybrid.

    Please, companies, just stop wasting everybody’s time.

  46. Hosta*

    I could see this happening at my company. Company policy is hybrid with full remote only in special cases. But many managers are open to full remote for exceptional candidates. If they’re interviewing candidates that would be in person and candidates that are full remote I can see some of the interviewers getting confused. Clarifying, with the recruiter or the hiring manager (or both) seems wise, but I wouldn’t necessarily read too much into it. I have to remind myself to talk about the office as optional since I actually like going in.

  47. Dragonfly7*

    The oddest thing I’ve seen advertised as remote so far was a cook for a pizza place. Umm…is it really that easy to click the wrong button?

  48. Elizabeth West*

    I’ve been trying to leverage a remote start to get out of state. I want to move, and I want to be onsite or hybrid after I move. I’m extremely blunt about that in my cover letter, on LinkedIn, and in interviews. I like going into the office and I like having the option to stay home if there’s two feet of snow or I might have COVID but feel well enough to work on the sofa. It worked very well at my last company, so I know it can and does and I have experience with it.

    If companies are open to being/staying hybrid, they should really consider applicants who are willing to relocate and could begin training/orientation online. Especially now, with all the bonkers legislating that’s been going on. It’s difficult to do that until you have a job in hand.

    But ffs, don’t lie about it. And please post the salary in the ad. Moving from, say, Oklahoma to New York is a big jump in COL. Not knowing what you’ll need to work with makes it much harder to plan and wastes everyone’s time.

  49. Taxidermybobcat*

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned or not (didn’t read all the comments) but I’d try to avoid this by applying pretty strictly to companies that advertise having a fully remote workforce and a clearly stated policy. There are a bunch of them, and it would help avoid the “surprise — we’re hybrid!” thing at the third interview.

    1. Taxidermybobcat*

      Also, if the COMPANY is remote, not just the role, they’re more likely to have figured out how that works, and less likely to penalize you for being the one person on the team, or the one department, that gets special “remote privileges” when everyone else is required to be in office. My hubby works for a company that’s been full time remote for a while and is international, and that’s their work model. They give him a stipend to set up equipment, etc, and they’re actually based in the UK. Whereas I work for a company that required in person prior to covid, lets us continue to work remotely now, but doesn’t provide an equipment stipend, and is still trying to figure out the hybrid thing. So your odds are better looking out for a tech company with the remote policy already in place and the benefits you want, imo.

      1. Love to WFH*

        Working remotely with people who are in the office is not fun. Working with everyone remote is vastly superior.

  50. Ria*

    It very much depends on the state. I think California is probably the worst, but I ran into headaches at my 100% remote since before the pandemic job because HR in Virginia had no idea how to handle New York’s disabilty and paid family leave. My employer had been paying into it appropriately, just no clue how to fill out the paperwork or where to send it.

  51. Love to WFH*

    My understanding was that my job was 100% remote, but then I found out that before the pandemic, they’d fly people in for get-togethers periodically. Now some of the top managers have have gotten together and are saying how great it was. Some people have met up at work conferences and really enjoyed it, except for the ones who got COVID.

    A company-wide event has been scheduled for this summer, but they haven’t released any details yet. We’d be flying in from all over the world for a week. Complete super-spreader event. It is ‘optional’, so I’m not going. They haven’t released any details about what the safety protocols will be, or how they’ll handle people who get sick and can’t get on a plane to go home until they recover and test negative.

  52. Curmudgeon in California*

    This has been a big problem for me.
    One place I interviewed, almost got hired, then they said “Oh, you’re local? That means you need to come in to the (open plan) office two days a week.” I was irritated. Yeah, I could, but if I do, I risk my health, and the life of my immune compromised roommate. Because covid is not over, the infections are ramping up, and even vaccinated people are getting it and being knocked on their butts for two weeks.

    Spending two out of five days in an open plan germ pit wearing an N95 mask, unable to eat or drink, just so some bigwig can see me in my seat and feel powerful? No thanks. It would cut my productivity on those days to nearly zero.

    Important meeting once a quarter, or even once a month? Sure, I can come in for a few hours. But just like I’ve reduced my shopping trips to every other week I need to stay away from open plans too. Too many people, too many aerosols and droplets, too much risk for very little reward.

    I feel that too many of these companies have decided that covid is “over” so everything should magically return to like it was before, with crowded open plan disease incubators, limited sick time, and butts-in-seats management. It’s like they don’t actually care for employee’s lives at all.

  53. KR*

    When I was job searching I noticed a lot of jobs would have the remote filter on them, but if you read down the job description it would include things like sorting mail and filing and whatever that is generally an in-office type of thing. And then you read a little more and it turns out the 100% remote job that is showing up for me several thousand miles away is actually for someone they want in a hybrid role in the city their office is located in. I read one where they listed in office duties but neglected to list what city the office was – on a job that was listed as 100% remote! I think it’s one of the new buzz words people have been putting on their job listings to attract attention when what they really mean is, we want you in the office at least part of the time but you’ll have a laptop so you can theoretically work from home. Ugh

  54. Teapot Wrangler*

    Definitely get it in writing and then make sure it is in your contract too. You should check that your usual place of work is listed as your home and also have something specifically written in about default working from home with occasional travel into the office. Might also be worth clarifying who will be paying for any trips into the office – the default for HMRC and other purposes is that travel from your usual place of work is an employer expense so if you’re willing to pay worth flagging.

  55. Media Monkey*

    i’m in the UK and we work on a hybrid home/ office model (3 days in the office, 2 at home). this is relatively typical for the industry we work in. we also use a lot of recruiters (as well as direct ads, linked in and we have a new in-house recruiter) and we do find that despite knowing that we will never offer fully remote or WFH jobs recruiters still send people to us knowing that that’s what they want. external recruiters often don’t listen, especially when there is a shortage of candidates and they just want to send you people to keep their numbers up! it’s a time waste on all sides!

    Howeever from a contract POV i would get remote work written into your contract (alongside working hours etc). i wouldn’t leave it to goodwill! if they want to change it they would need to get you to sign a new contract.

  56. Testerbert*

    Regarding UK stuff: if you’ve gotten remote working written into your contract (as in, your official workplace is your home, not a company office), you’ve got a reasonably strong hand to push back against being ‘forced’ into the office. You can start playing around with working hours (you can’t claim hours for travelling to your ‘normal’ place of work, but if you are directed to work at a different location you can), you can claim expenses for any additional costs imposed by requiring you to come into the office (travel expenses, food costs etc, but expect pushback on anything other than travel), and so on.

    Don’t forget to *insist* on having a full DSE (Display Screen Equipment) evaluation done for your workspace in the office, with that space set aside *exclusively* for your use (as anyone who uses that desk/equipment may change how it is set up, and therefore cause you harm). That goes for chairs, monitors, desk height/layout, the works. After all, if it is so important for you to be physically there, they won’t be expecting you to hotdesk, right?

    Ultimately, if they insist on you being hybrid rather than remote after-the-fact, they can change your contract, but you can argue that they are making you redundant. Just be prepared for them possibly deciding to dismiss you if you push the matter, as unless you’ve worked at an organisation for two years they can just say it isn’t working out and there’s perishingly little you can do about it.

  57. parsley*

    I’ve seen ads that are tagged remote in places like Reed so they come up in searches for remote jobs, and then state in the text of the ad that it’s a full-time onsite role with no remote work whatsoever. It’s so irritating because it shows that employers/recruiters know that remote work makes a job more appealing and attracts more candidates, but they don’t actually want to go to the effort of managing remote workers.

  58. Lurker*

    I work for a company that is hiring remotely – fully remote, full stop. I hate that companies pull this bait and switch crap that makes it harder for us to recruit.

  59. Barnaby the Scribbler*

    I work as a tech writer and over the last year, I’ve gotten a lot of LinkedIn messages from both external headhunters and people at the HR team at the companies themselves. And I often find that a lot of the time, the more they reach you to you on LinkedIn, the worse the company is because they need good people and they can’t rely on people applying to them. This isn’t always the case. There are plenty of exceptions. But that does seem to be the trend. So I’d say just make sure your search settings on LinkedIn are for remote only and focus on applying more than receiving cold-call-style emails. Also, Indeed’s remote-only settings seem to stink. So I would use LinkedIn or flexjobs if you can afford it.

  60. Avalon Angel*

    I’m seeing a lot of fear in the disability community (of which I am a member). When so many workplaces went fully remote and the Great Resignation happened, it was a boon for people with disabilities. Suddenly, they were getting far more offers! And no grousing about WFH!

    But now, more companies are doing a hybrid or even fully on-site model, and those once-plentiful offers are drying up fast. For those already working, they feel a fight coming on and it’s not good.

    Yes, the ADA protects you, and yes, you can ask for accommodations. But in the real world, they just find a different reason to fire you or not hire you in the first place.

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