company will offer paternity leave but not maternity leave, intern makes nearly as much as me, and more

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

1. My company is creating a paternity leave policy, but has no maternity leave

I need a sanity check to see if i’m justified in feeling so outraged. My (Fortune 500) company recently announced that they are implementing a paternity leave policy this fall. Sounds great and progressive, right? Well, it would be, except that THE COMPANY DOES NOT CURRENTLY HAVE A MATERNITY LEAVE POLICY.

We don’t have details yet about the new policy, but even if it’s unpaid, it’s additional time off that men are entitled to that women are not. The company is big enough that we’re covered by FMLA and short-term disability will pay 100% of salary for 6-8 weeks after birth. The company touts their “maternity” leave policy on sustainability reports, etc. but there is no actual policy other than federally mandated FMLA that men are also eligible for. Why do they need an additional policy? Is this even legal? I’m hoping they actually mean an all-encompassing parental leave, but that’s not how it’s been presented so far. How are they so out of touch? Is there anything I can do?

They cannot legally offer men time off for parenthood that they don’t also offer to women. If that’s really what they’re planning, it’s both outrageous and illegal … in fact it’s so illegal that I’ve got to think that’s not the plan, and whatever they are planning has just been communicated badly so far. My guess is that they’re either formalizing a policy that gives new fathers the same leave that new mothers currently receive, or they’re revamping parental leave for everyone and including paternity leave this time.

You can definitely ask for clarification on what’s being planned, and whether they’re expanding maternity benefits too. And since it’s a big company, you might have a women’s ERG you could reach out to as well — they may have more information or be interested in speaking up as a group.

2. My intern makes nearly as much as me

I’ve been with my current employer for about 12 years, getting satisfactory raises/promotions along the way. We’ve recently made a full-time job offer to an intern who has a similar graduate degree to me, and whose only work experience in our field is the few months they’ve been with us as an intern. The intern reports to me, so I was involved in approving her employment, etc. In this process, I’ve learned that her salary as a full-time employee will be almost as much as my current salary! Although I know it’s a job seekers’ market right now, I’m still frustrated by this. Should I use this information to negotiate with my boss for a higher salary?

Yes yes yes.

There’s a thing going on right now where employers are having to pay more to attract new hires, which is throwing older employees’ salaries out of whack. Employers don’t want to adjust everyone’s salaries because that could be hugely expensive and they think the market could go back down at any time … but that’s creating big inequities where people are getting paid wildly varying amounts for the same work (or in your case, barely more for presumably contributing at a much higher level than a new, more junior hire).

3. My office ignored my birthday

Today’s my birthday. No one at work seems aware, and no one acknowledged it, although I know there’s a list of birthdays somewhere, which used to be used to plan monthly celebrations. Those fell off since the pandemic, and now it seems my department only celebrates the birthdays they happen to think of. Maybe it wouldn’t have stung so much if the office wasn’t still full of balloons from someone’s birthday last week. Maybe it wouldn’t have stung so much if I hadn’t spent my holiday weekend working, and didn’t know that I’d have to spend the night of my birthday working, too. Usually I have no problem working nights or weekends when necessary, and I get a lot of (much appreciated) flexibility in return, and my boss and coworkers are excellent and generous in many ways. But I’m feeling really left out and unappreciated right now.

I’d like to suggest that we return to the monthly celebrations so that things are more structured and inclusive, but I’m struggling to come up with a way to phrase it that doesn’t feel so much like swallowing my pride and being really vulnerable in a way that I’m not really comfortable with at work.

Please do! This is a problem that a good manager would want to know about. If you’re going to do office birthday celebrations (or anniversary celebrations or so forth), you have to have a system for ensuring everyone is celebrated when it’s their turn, or people understandably end up hurt and demoralized. Of course it stings! It feels like you’re not as noticed or appreciated, and that no one cares enough to make the effort for you that they make for others. Often that’s very much not the actual explanation — it’s more likely that the person who tracks birthdays was out or stretched too thin, or it’s an administrative error, etc. — but of course it leaves people feeling that way.

The easiest way to frame it is to make it about everyone, not just you — “Hey, can we get back to monthly birthday celebrations? We missed mine last week and it made me realize that we are probably missing other people’s too since we don’t have an organized system anymore.”

4. Employer is raising health insurance costs by 345%

My company just announced they’re raising the employee contribution for our health care plan by 345%. The changes take affect in 30 days. Is this normal? Do I have any options here (besides going without healthcare or getting a new job)? I feel like everyone at my company is going to ask for raises to cover this increase, which would negate any cost savings they’d get from raising employee contributions.

No, that’s really high! Insurance costs do go up every year, but not by 345%. The average increase in 2022 is projected to be around 5%. Either something very unusual is going on with your plan (any chance your employer is self-insured and pushing the cost of that onto employees?) or your employer is shifting a significant portion of the costs to you that they used to cover.

You can try pushing back with a group of your coworkers — I’m sure you’re not the only one reeling at the increase — but if your employer won’t budge, then yeah, moving to another job would be the only real option.

5. Rejections six months after applying

This is less of an advice question and more wondering if something I’ve encountered is somehow becoming normal. I was job hunting last November-December. In the last week, I’ve gotten two rejection emails for jobs I applied to back in November. I’m all for companies not ghosting applicants, but sending a rejection six months later almost seems worse. Is this becoming a trend of some kind? Are they just doing it because they forgot or did it take that long to fill the position?

It’s not a new trend — it’s a weird thing that has happened occasionally for a while. (But it understandably seems like a trend because it happened to you twice in one week!) Sometimes it’s because it took the employer a while to fill the position and they don’t send rejections until someone accepts their offer (or even until that person starts the job). Sometimes it’s because someone looked at their applicant tracking system, realized they never closed out the rejections for position X, and pushed a button to send them without thinking about how late they’re going to be (or just figures it’s better to send them late than never). Sometimes the hiring was put on hold in the interim and now it’s restarting, so they’re finally processing candidates who normally would have been processed months ago.

{ 627 comments… read them below }

  1. Cold and Tired*

    #4: as an additional note, assuming you’re American, your 2022 rates should have been locked in already for the year. Most insurance cycles are April 1-March 30. So they shouldn’t actually be able to change the rates on the insurance side (unless this is an older letter from March). I don’t know enough about the legalities of what companies are required do when they make insurance changes and if they’re allowed to do something this big mid year when you presumably aren’t able to get insurance anywhere else on short notice (since I don’t think this would be the “changing job, getting married, having child” life event that normally allows you to make mid year changes), but it might be worth looking into.

    1. Willis*

      That’s not universal. Ours begins mid-year, which would match the OPs schedule of resetting in July (assuming the letter is relatively recent).

      1. Nelliebelle1197*

        I have never had an insurance schedule like that in 25 years of professional work. This is not universal and companies run their own benefits schedules, not insurance companies.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Also resetting in July.

        But the company stretched and shuffled and the rate will not go up this year, much less quadruple.

      3. Lucy P*

        We used to have a December 1st renewal date (it’s just when we happened to start the plan). After ACA set in, the insurer told us that we would have to switch to a January 1 renewal. That was back in 2018, I believe.

        On another note, what happened to the bill they were supposed to pass that made you eligible for marketplace insurance and subsidies if your workplace insurance was unaffordable?

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

        Same. Our new coverage year begins with the start of our fiscal year July 1, but the open enrollment period, and therefore the announcement of changes, happens in February. Academia here so maybe that is the difference.

        1. Ridiculous Penguin*

          Also academia. Year resets in July, open enrollment is April and May.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            Ours too. My partner’s benefits (software industry) reset Jan 1st.

    2. Blomma*

      Not necessarily. I work for an insurance brokerage (not in the employee benefits dept.) and the majority of our clients have January 1 renewal dates. (That’s also when our own plan renews.) But clients have renewal dates throughout the year. I don’t work in that type of insurance but I would think that rate increases would only happen at renewal. It isn’t clear from the letter if this an increase at renewal or midterm.

      1. Cold and Tired*

        Fair! I think I’ve just always personally had spring renewals at my insurers across multiple different insurance companies.

        So then I’d agree – if this is your annual renewal, you might not have much luck pushing back, and i don’t know if there’s anyway to move to a plan via the healthcare marketplace at this point. And I do empathize if that’s the case – my parents have insane premiums and even more insane deductibles but have little choice in the matter. You may simply just be another person caught in the abomination that is the US health care insurance system.

        1. Annony*

          If this is the renewal period for their insurance then they will be able to pick up a marketplace plan if they do not choose the employer insurance. Loss of coverage is a qualifying event.

          1. HoundMom*

            I am an insurance broker and I have clients renew literally every single month of the year. The majority of plans are on July 1 and January 1 dates, but policy years are standardly 12 months (though short years are permitted by law).

            There are groups that no carrier wants — the ACA requires carriers to submit quotes but not quotes that anyone wants to pay. In all my years (25+), I have never seen a rate renewal go up by 345%, but I guess it could happen.

            Contribution structure is not necessarily related to premium increases. Did your employer decide to change the subsidies for the different family tiers? Or, change the number of family tiers — all of that can create chaos on the contribution rates.

            1. It Me*

              The last part about the amount thr employer is covering was my first thought as to why the increase is so huge. Perhaps the employer used to cover 95% and now dropped it back to the legal minimum (50% in many states). This could certainly account for a big increase. Or perhaps they were covering part of spouse/dependent coverage and are now choosing not to cover at all.

    3. PollyQ*

      It’s true that they can’t just change it willy-nilly, but not at all true that everyone’s coverage runs those dates. I’ve never worked anywhere that didn’t have it start Jan. 1.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Ours is December 1. Even health care providers can be caught off guard. After one billing snafu I push them to check dates every year.

        1. alienor*

          Same for me at the last two companies I’ve worked for. Open enrollment happens throughout November, then everything goes into effect Jan. 1.

    4. Insurance Q&A*

      I’m wondering if the employer is changing the employee cost without the plan premium (what the insurance company charges the company) actually changing.

      Also. Most employers whose plans start in July are schools, which makes this even worse in my mind.

      Ugh. OP4, I’m so sorry this is happening to you. No matter the circumstances, it’s Really Not Ok.

      1. Plain Jane*

        Yep, my husband works for a technical school and our insurance renews in July. It always catches me off guard.

      2. Justme, The OG*

        I work for a state university and we renew in November for January and then our cost can increase at the fiscal year start in July. It’s ridiculous.

      3. Jora Malli*

        That was my thought too. With an increase that big, it seems like the employer wants to stop contributing to premiums.

      4. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        My wife works for a school and the way her insurance works is that each employee gets a fixed amount (e.g. $870) towards insurance. Then they can choose from a wide variety of health insurance plans, and decide whether to cover their spouse and/or children. If they only cover themselves on a cheap plan, they will have money left over (which they don’t get paid out or anything). If they cover spouse and kids on a Cadillac plan, most of that difference will come out of their pocket. If LW4’s plan works like that, it’s definitely possible that they had a $880 plan, the $870 fixed amount didn’t change, the plan went up 5% or $44 per month, but the entire increase fell on the employee, increasing their costs 340%!

        1. Gumby*

          Yep. I assume that we’re not talking about a $20 contribution increasing to $70 because that wouldn’t quite fit the tone of the letter. But just saying “345%!!!!” doesn’t tell us much unless we know what the starting amount was. At least order of magnitude.

          Salary/ earnings also add useful context. Going from paying $1 to paying $3.45 is probably not a big deal for the majority of workers even though it is a 345% increase. An increase from $50 to $170 (also a ~345% increase) will cause hardship for some, but may not be as concerning for higher earners who likely have more room to absorb that type of increase. But going from $250 to $863 is likely to cause significant hardship for most.

    5. Cat Lover*

      I work at a doctor’s office and have seen hundreds of insurance plans, and at least in my area, 90% of people have calendar year plans, including myself. Next most popular are July-June plans (usually teachers). I don’t see many April-March plans.

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

        My spouse works in a school system and their plans start Oct 1st. I think they chose that date to give time for everyone coming back in September to make their open enrollment choices.

        1. White Squirrel*

          My spouse doesn’t work for a school but a smaller company and their plans renew in October. It’s always a little bizarre.

      2. NervousNellie*

        That plan would make sense for the hospitality business in some places, especially if you know that most people will pop off the plan in August or September when the summer season ends.

    6. gyratory_circus*

      I work for one of the Huge American Health Insurance Companies, and while it’s most common for a group to renew on 1/1 or 7/1, there are surprising number of groups whose annual renewal happens at the beginning of other months. That could be due to when a company/group is first started, or if they have a big change in the number of employees that moves them from one category to another (ie groups over 50 employees are handled differently than groups below 50), or a number of other reasons. And IMO it can better for the group to have their renewal documents processed at a slower time of the year, when there’s not the frantic push to get a million things done all at once.

    7. Cookie Lady*

      Yup, I work for a Girl Scout council and we run our health plan on the GS membership year, which is Oct 1 to Sept 30. We find out any changes in mid to late August.

    8. Zephy*

      My insurance plan year runs October 1-September 30 and our annual re-up period corresponds to the Marketplace’s Open Enrollment period.

      1. Zephy*

        Edit to add: and the insurance plan we offer to our students (university) runs August-July.

    9. Need More Sunshine*

      I worked at an employee benefits insurance broker up until recently. As long as they give at least 30 days notice, they can indeed make a change like this, though any broker worth their salt would strongly discourage such a huge change that doesn’t benefit the employees!

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Remember when companies wouldn’t issue policies to employers who didn’t cover the employee premium 100%?

        Good times.

    10. LinuxSystemsGuy*

      So I’m curious about what the 345% increase means in real terms. I pay $12 a week as my employee contribution to my healthcare. A 345% increase would be noticeable, but probably not mind blowing for most employees (certainly some early career or lower skill employees would notice it more than me, but an extra $30 a week before taxes is something most people can at least adjust to). I have worked at places where the employee contribution is much higher already though.

      If I the starting place is already high, say it’s $30 a week now, that 345% is correspondingly much bigger. Now your looking at nearly a $75 increase on top of an already higher premium. That would be enough to have a large impact on me, let alone someone who makes a half or a third of what I do.

      I mean, don’t get me wrong, it sucks to see a large increase in benefits costs no matter what, but absolute numbers mean more than percentages.

      1. Not always right*

        Before medicare, my monthly insurance premiums were $750 for single coverage. Family plans were $1,290. Count your blessings and consider yourself very fortunate

      2. D*

        I pay about 70 bucks a month. That would be over 200 bucks a month increase! That’s nearly my food budget!

      3. Anonariffic*

        We just finished open enrollment for my (local government) job last month and they sent out info sheets with details on all the plan options: employee contributions ranged from $32 per biweekly pay for a single person with a high deductible plan up to $263 per pay for a family copay plan.

        1. Blomma*

          I kind of wonder if the large increase has to do with the plan available to the LW at renewal having changed. My employer previously offered us a high deductible plan for a lower premium or a lower deductible w/ copays plan for a higher premium. They paid a portion of the premium in both cases. Last year they did away with the high deductible plan and only offered the low deductible plan but the premium was lower than previous years. I was always on the more expensive plan so I liked the premium reduction, but I had a coworker who’d always had the high deductible plan and he was unhappy about his new premium. I think his premium doubled (maybe tripled with his wife included).

      4. doreen*

        Yes, percentages don’t always tell the whole story. My premium was about $125/wk for family coverage so a 345% increase would have made a big difference – but my son literally pays 95 cents a week for optional coverage (and would pay nothing if he didn’t have the optional coverage). Not such a big difference in that case.

      5. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

        I would bet a dozen donuts what happened is that the plan cost went up 5 or 10%, but the employer passed most or all of that increase on to employees.

      6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        I’ve paid anything from $0.00 (yep) or $25/paycheck before taxes for myself and two dependents, to something like $300/paycheck for myself, spouse, and dependents. A 345% increase in the first case would not be great, but I’d survive. A 345% increase from $300 to something like $1350 per two weeks would probably make me opt out and see what’s available on the marketplace. It would also look a lot like the employer shifting all 100% of the costs to the employees.

      7. fhqwhgads*

        Yeah. I immediately wondered if what happened was, say, the plan rates actually went up some reasonablish amount, but still higher than average and at the sametime, the employer decided to flip-flop the employer vs employee contribution. So like, fake example, employer used to pay 75% of the premium and employee paid %25. Now it’s the other way around and the overall cost went up. Something like that.

      8. OP4*

        OP4 here – this is a good point! In terms of dollars, I currently pay $82/month for me and my spouse and our new contribution is $256/month. And it’s for the exact same PPO plan we’re on. My employer is rolling out a new HSA plan option along with this increase to the PPO plan.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yeah, sadly, that’s… not unheard of. I was paying $50/mo for myself and children and I knew that the day of reckoning would eventually come and my premiums would go up, because $50 was just too damn good to last. Sure enough, after a management change, the premium became something around $150 (don’t remember the exact number, it was three years ago). And then a year later, same new management was “oh wait a minute, yall’s premiums are still too low” and it became $400 for myself and dependents. $82 was generous and I am not surprised that someone in the leadership of your company saw it as a, ahem, good way to cut costs. Sad, but at least it’s not as bad as going from $500 to $1800.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          Aha! So your employer is raising the increase in the employee share of the PPO premium to encourage people to go on the (I’m guessing High-Deductible) HSA plan.

          Sneaky. :(

        3. HR Red Pro*

          I’ve been working in employee benefits for 15+ years. I’ve found that PPOs are becoming so expensive that many companies are having to stop offering them. It might not be that your company is passing a lot of costs on to the employees – it is also probably that the PPO is just increasing in cost quite a bit. (Or maybe your company absorbed a lot more of the increase last year, for example.)

          1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

            Ahh, that explains what I’ve seen, both at my workplace and at a company I interviewed with last year – PPOs remaining in place, but going high-deductible. I thought our new deductible of something like $3500 for myself and a dependent, was unreasonably high. Then I applied to that other company, that is a health insurance company and has its employees on its own plans, and theirs was almost twice that. A close friend that was an executive there, told me that the switch to high deductible was presented to the employees as “encouraging healthy lifestyles” (what does that even mean? how’s not being able to afford to see a Dr unless you’re seriously ill or injured, healthy? who can tell) But I bet the reality is that even their own plan is now costing a lot more to them. My other friends are reporting the same changes at their jobs. Apparently the industry standard for a high-deductible plan is $8500 (for a family plan?)

            Curious – what are companies now offering instead of PPOs? I had an HMO for a year back in the 00s and it was a royal pain. One of my children ended up not getting the care he needed (being evaluated for, diagnosed with, and seeing a therapist for, autism – what was then called Aspergers – because his pediatrician refused to give a referral and I couldn’t get him any of the help he needed without a referral from his PCP. Finally got the Dx and the therapy, which helped enormously, but it took a year.) I didn’t like it when all of my healthcare was in the hands of one person, who could veto any help I needed without any explanation. Really hope we aren’t going back to that. I’ll take a high deductible over that any day.

    11. Shiba Dad*

      My current employer’s insurance period starts January 1st. I have had July 1st and August 1st in the past.

    12. Just Tired.*

      Sorry, Cold and Tired, your info’s not correct. Companies can run their year on whatever cycle the choose, for the most part. You’re correct that mid year changes of the insurance company’s premiums is most likely a contracted rate.

    13. fhqwhgads*

      I’ve always seen open enrollment at work align with my employers’ fiscal years, which vary widely. Never heard of there being anything special about April.

    14. Cranky-saurus*

      I worked for a company 2019-2020 that had the worst of all possible combinations for insurance. First off, my employee paid premium for 2 adults was $345/week. Yes, per *week*. Roughly $18k/year before ever actually seeing a doctor. There were slightly cheaper plans, but despite deductibles over $3k, they weren’t officially HDHP plans, so not HSA eligible.
      Plus the plan renewal was September-August, but the deductible reset was still calendar year. I stayed on my COBRA from my prior job as long as I could before switching to that insurance because it was actually cheaper (and yes, marketplace offerings were similarly priced once I accounted for my work insurance being pre-tax). I was so happy when my spouse got a new job that had great benefits, and even happier when I left that awful company.
      Lesson learned—always get the details on benefits…

    15. Selina Luna*

      I work as a teacher, and my district always starts making changes in October, with the changes due no later than November 15th, and then these changes don’t actually start to change paychecks until January 10th (always the first paycheck of the year). I have worked in a school district where they make the changes beginning in the summer, but springtime would be extremely unusual.

  2. MaraJade*

    #3: I feel your pain! My birthday was last week and one coworker told me happy birthday and gave me a small gift, otherwise it went completely unacknowledged at work. Which wouldn’t sting so much if everyone else hadn’t gotten a party/a cake/the works for their birthdays

    1. Glitterati*

      LW 3 and Mara I’m sorry they missed you. I can empathise. Many years ago I went all out for my manager and a few colleagues who loved celebrating and would’ve been devastated if they’d been ignored. I arranged baby and bridal showers, birthdays etc with presents, decorations, games. When it came to my wedding I didn’t even get a ‘congratulations’ from anyone in my office, let alone a card. I’ve never felt so disliked before. It still stings 10 years later if I think about it.

    2. No cake for you*

      We didn’t tend to office birthday parties, but the Boss’s favourite got a little party – cake and bubbly. When the birthday boy mentioned a famous person who he shared a birthday with, I said “oh you also share it with another famous person – and me”. I put down the cake and walked out of the room. Yes, boss held a birthday party for his favourite and I, who shared the same birthday, was ignored. It would have been more painful if not for the fact the boss was an idiot.

      1. L-squared*

        That sucks. It also seems like you were taking things out on the wrong person there. The favorite did nothing wrong, but it sounds like you were angry at him.

        1. Cringing 24/7*

          That was honestly my thought too, but I hope I’m misinterpreting how passive-aggressive that action sounded. I’m terrible with dates and I don’t know any of my coworkers’ birthdays (I almost forgot MY OWN this year), but my boss ensures that each birthday is celebrated. If yours doesn’t, please don’t take it out on your coworkers, No Cake.

          1. Lydia*

            If you see that only your birthday is being celebrated and nobody else’s is, and you participate in that and don’t speak up, you’re complicit in being a crappy human.

            1. L-squared*

              I mean, that is assuming the other person knew something was happening in advance. But I don’t expect someone to, in the middle of their celebration, to take a moral stand about why its not happening for others. There is maybe a time for that later, but not in the moment. All it would do is make it awkward for everyone. I also don’t know that, if its the boss making that decision, it makes you a crappy human.

            2. Cringing 24/7*

              Okay, but we have no evidence that this person was aware that anybody else’s birthday was that day until they were told *in that moment*, so your example of what makes a human crappy in your opinion doesn’t necessarily match up with what we’ve been told happened. Also, even if I knew someone’s birthday was coming up along with mine, if I didn’t actively plan that celebration, I’d have no way of knowing until the party whether or not that person was being celebrated. Would I go tell the planner that someone was missed? Yes. But would it be my fault or would I be complicit? Not even at all.

      2. Chilipepper Attitude*

        Something similar happened to me, every year; but not as bad as the boss doing it. My department shared a workroom with another department. They were very into parties and always invited all depts to them. They were not very tech savvy so often asked me to create signs for the parties. The main party planner shared my birthday. Since she was the party planner, others in her team planned hers.

        She always loudly and kindly started saying a week before our birthday, isn’t it so amazing, chilipepper and I share a birthday! And everyone would join in and be amazed. And I would help make the signs for her birthday. And every time, they would not acknowledge it was my birthday too. The party planner would always say, happy birthday chilipepper! but the others would ignore me all day. Like I did not need my name on the cake or the sign but a simple, oh, let’s sing or at least say happy birthday chilipepper would have been nice. I’m not doing it justice here but it was very clear it was not my party.

        1. mlem*

          I wonder if, in their heads, they expected her to arrange *every* party except her own and thought *she* was falling down by not planning a separate party for you *on the same day as her birthday* or something? That’s still quite rude of them.

    3. Mother Trucker*

      My department does monthly birthday celebrations, but my team is always left out because we work in a different room than the others. It has become conical with us at this point, we just celebrate each other’s days individually.

    4. Rainy Cumbria*

      My colleagues forgot my birthday in 2021. A couple of days later I got some cake in the mail, I thought they had remembered after all but no – it was for my work anniversary. I changed jobs since, and enough time has passed now that I find it funny.

      1. Sally*

        Cake in the mail? How does that work? My birthday was yesterday, and I ordered cupcakes in my grocery delivery for myself, but I didn’t know cake could be mailed. Like, a whole cake? Or a big slice? In case you can’t tell, I love cake!

        1. NaoNao*

          One can go online and order a cake to be delivered locally—usually from a local bakery near the recipient. I assume they package up a cake either frozen or very chilled and hand-deliver locally, not by mail :)

          1. ThatGirl*

            There are bakeries and companies that ship frozen cakes by mail – Milkbar comes to mind. Usually by FedEx/UPS and with dry ice.

          2. Carol the happy elf*

            My favorite florist works with her sister, the manager at a bakery. They’ve put together a package that includes the streamers and baloons, too. The cake and flowers are delivered the afternoon of the day before unless it’s a surprise package. Ordered for the entire year, monthly payment. They also have monthly party plans that include every name on the one cake. (Mary, 29th, John 14th, Sue 17th, etc.) Our office likes cake, too, so we go with the day of or the Friday before. There’s a single gift card for something he/she likes, and a free day off. With pay, to be taken at the right time. Our skier, for example, has an August birthday, gets a ski pass good for next December-April, and a day off too. He takes those days seriously.
            We all get those cards, days off, and cake and ice cream. Twenty-one candles only, the boss too.

        2. Rainy Cumbria*

          I love cake too! It was a box of individually wrapped brownies. When I make brownies I normally eat them quite quickly, I had no idea that they keep well enough to send them by mail :-D

        3. Phony Genius*

          I remember when the Cake of the Month club was a popular thing. They literally mailed you a whole cake every month. I think it was usually a bundt cake of a season-appropriate flavor, and probably vacuum-packed.

    5. Lea*

      Trying to make celebrations equal is so hard…

      I always take my birthday off and don’t worry about it but years ago someone put them all on our calendars so I only miss people who started after

      1. Charlotte*

        I take mine off too. Also I have no interest in having my coworkers sing to me, buy me presents, or get me a cake. That’s just not their role in my life.

        1. Lily Rowan*

          Yeah, I never work on my birthday (and most jobs have had it as a day off for unrelated reasons (haha)), so I don’t think about birthdays as a thing to do at work. As a result, I never remember to do anything for anyone’s birthday, but I do try to delegate it to someone else if it’s an office where that’s a thing.

        2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          I started taking mine off recently. Before that, I would dodge the birthday organizer person’s repeated requests for sharing when my birthday was (after initially telling them that I didn’t want mine celebrated), but taking the whole day off solves the entire problem of being the person of honor at a cringey work party(? if you can call everyone awkwardly standing around for 5 min waiting for their slice of cake a party) that no one wanted to be in.

          An OldJob did a cake and “month birthdays” once a month and I liked that. No one is being thrust into the spotlight, and there’s cake.

        3. JustAnotherKate*

          Totally! It always seems forced to me; I get along fine with my coworkers, but they’re not my family or my friends. (I actually don’t celebrate my birthday anyway — I don’t like aging, I don’t like attention and I’m trying not to eat sugar, so it seems a little pointless.)

      2. TrainerGirl*

        One of the things I love about my new job is that you have some choices for floating holidays. One of the options is to take your birthday or service anniversary day off, which I think is great.

    6. Snow Globe*

      I can’t help but wonder if the reason the other employee’s birthday was remembered was that the other employee told people about it. Most people don’t remember coworkers’ birthdays or bother looking at a calendar (unless that is specifically their thing to track), but a lot of people talk about their own upcoming birthdays, which will prompt others to do something. If the LW never mentions their birthday is coming up, it would be pretty surprising if anyone knew. (IOW it’s not personal, LW)

      1. L-squared*

        This is what I was thinking. Some people in my office discuss all their birthday plans, others never mention it. If people aren’t monitoring that calendar, its very easy to just not know.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Yes! This is the thing. I used to work at a very small office where we did everyone’s birthday – but we pretty much did them because everyone brought up their own birthday in a “So, for my birthday next month my husband is taking me to that fancy place downtown” kind of way, and the rest of us would go, ‘Oh hey, lets plan to get a pizza for Lizzie’s bday!’. But we had one girl that started who never brought it up until the day after. ‘For my birthday yesterday we went to X’ and after we missed her birthday two years in a row we had to stop doing it for everyone because we felt awful keeping on doing birthdays when we had missed her, but if she even gave us a day’s notice we could have organized something. Pretty much every other place I’ve worked we will go out to lunch with whoever’s birthday it is, but again only if they actually bring it up.

        1. I should really pick a name*

          Did she anyone ask if she was disappointed that she didn’t have a birthday celebration at work?

        2. doreen*

          If I had worked at a place where mentioning what I was going to do on my upcoming birthday resulted in a party , I would have made certain to never mention birthday plans until after they happened ( if at all) . Anyone who assumed that I would be upset because my birthday was skipped would have been incorrect.

        3. Pomegranate*

          I think in this case it’s ok to organize something a day or few later. Like “hi everyone, turns out it was Jane’s birthday on Monday, let’s go out for lunch on Friday to celebrate” or “let’s gather in the lunch room at 10am on Thursday to have some cake”. Most adults are not fussed about the specific day. And from those that say how stung they were about not being acknowledged, they would not feel that way if someone realized a day late and organized some celebration afterwards to mark the occasion. That’s an honest oversight and trying to correct it, rather than feeling snubbed (even if it was an honest oversight to begin with).

      3. Dust Bunny*

        Yeah, I only vaguely know my coworkers’ birthdays, after 10+ years of working together, and then only because they occasionally mention them. My workplace does birthday emails and cards but that’s all (which is fine. HR spearheads these). If they didn’t talk about them I wouldn’t remember until the birthday email popped up. I don’t expect them to remember mine, either.

      4. Mianaai*

        Even having a filled-out birthday calendar isn’t a guarantee of comparable celebration levels for those who like to celebrate. As context: I’m pretty ambivalent on birthday celebrations personally but if they’re a regular thing that’s celebrated in the office, I’d like to be included at least for a round of cupcakes or something. At my previous position, we had a shared birthday calendar and I put my birthday on it, and since my birthday coincided with a large conference that the whole office was going to, people made a huuuuge deal about it. There was even a mnemonic (Mianaai will be 30 on the 30th type of thing) and I was repeatedly assured that something Big was being planned as a surprise, so I wasn’t “supposed to” plan anything myself for celebrating during the conference. Of course, my birthday rolls around and *everyone* has forgotten? or made other plans? or something? And I didn’t even get a single teammate wishing me “happy birthday” in the hall let alone the sort of Big Celebration that was promised.

        It stung, a lot. I would have been happy to just plan something small for myself like a reservation at a nice restaurant or something, and I didn’t even get that since there was a promise of some sort of celebration for the group that was supposed to be a surprise. I think birthday calendars can work, but they still require a level of organization that’s consistent for everyone beyond just “we’ll organize a big party, but only for the people we like, if it’s convenient, if we remember”

        1. Just Another Cog*

          Yeah, this reminds me of school and the kids who had summer/school holiday birthdays. They would be celebrated as a group before the end of the semester or school year. I hated the whole office birthday celebration thing. Retired now, but at my last office it just got out of hand. One very pushy coworker would do the gift purchase and then “bill” everyone $10-20 for their share. The company would buy a cake and lunch for everyone. Just too over the top.

          Sorry for your dud birthday, Minanaai. Especially since your coworkers hyped up the surprise. Probably didn’t mean to forget you, but it was still thoughtless.

          1. Just Another Cog*

            Sorry, should have clarified a bit about school kids getting at least their summer birthdays acknowledged. Sorry yours wasn’t Mianaai.

            1. Mianaai*

              No worries… my birthday is actually also a summer birthday so I’m honestly pretty used to having my birthday forgotten/ignored. Mostly I was frustrated that it was forgotten *after* the tracking calendar was put in place *and* I opted into it *and* people had just spent like two weeks obsessing over it as the office gossip du jour.

      5. Office Lobster DJ*

        Definitely could be this. Or the person bringing in the cupcakes and whatnot isn’t acting in an official capacity, per se, they just heard/knew the person’s birthday was coming up and ran with it.

        That said, I’m all for fairness and OP suggesting the return to monthly celebrations.

    7. Mockingjay*

      “I’d like to suggest that we return to the monthly celebrations so that things are more structured and inclusive”

      Who will be tasked to arrange everything? Something simple like a monthly cake delivered by the bakery? Balloons and cards organized and signed? Are gifts required? Potluck or luncheon out? Balance the activities against the effort needed to pull the celebration together and who has to do it.

      Consider that not everyone wants their birthday acknowledged. I prefer to celebrate mine privately at home. But my company publishes the month’s Birthday names on the company intranet, so I get Birthday wishes I have to respond to, cake I don’t want, and have even been dragged to lunch by a manager when I just wanted my sandwich. Even after I politely requested that the day not be mentioned.

      Not trying to be a curmudgeon. Just make sure all your department are on board with this idea and that it’s planned well enough to minimize effort to execute.

      1. Nelliebelle1197*

        I feel the same way and never understand adults who get all bent out of shape over this – especially since there is no way to know why one birthday was celebrated and one was not. Well, except for LW above whose boss was an idiot.

        1. Lacey*

          I do and I don’t.

          On the one hand, it doesn’t matter to me at all if my coworkers acknowledge my birthday. As an adult, it is mostly an excuse to go out for a nice dessert with friends.

          On the other hand, even feeling that way, I did resent that for more favored coworkers there was an extravaganza with extravagant gifts and a time to talk about how wonderful the coworkers was. And for the less favored, there was cake, quickly eaten, and then a return to work.

          It’s not about the birthday at that point. Just the feeling of being ignored or unappreciated.

          1. pancakes*

            It can be hard to make sure all celebrations are equal. Those discrepancies are a pretty good reason to not celebrate birthdays at work as a general rule, I think, or to make them inherently non-personal – a cake once a month for everyone would be ok.

            1. Mockingjay*

              I’ve posted before about a prior company that ordered a sheet cake once a month, then did a PA announcement: “Birthday cake is in the lobby! Anyone who has a birthday this month and wants some and anyone else who wishes to join them, go get a piece.”

              It was perfect. No muss, but ‘fuss’ (acknowledgement) and cake for those who wanted it. No gifts, no cards required, just well wishes and a quick snack.

              1. Lydia*

                I worked at a place that did this and it was great. Monthly cake (except if by some weird coincidence, a month had no birthdays) and everyone felt acknowledged. Downside was they always managed to include the one person in our department who was Jehovah’s Witness on the list. SHE DOES NOT CELEBRATE. PLEASE STOP INCLUDING HER.

                1. Cringing 24/7*

                  Ugh, that’s frustrating. I’d be 100% encouraging her to go to HR about it (if y’all had HR), because it’s absolutely unacceptable behavior on the employer’s part to make this mistake more than once.

                2. Lydia*

                  @I should really pick a name She was very conscientious and I’m sure she did and at some point just gave up, because she was also very accommodating to people who didn’t quite understand her faith.

              2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

                The place I work did a variant of this on the department level (before we went remote). We got a mix of different types of cookies or brownies as well as pre made cups of fruit salad (we had vegan coworkers, and Dept manager was emphatic about finding a way to include every coworker), and the first Friday of the month was Birthday day for the month. The manager even found a vegan bakery to get a cookie tray for the months where one of the vegan employees had a birthday. Super predictable and low key.

                Now that we’re remote he sends out an email (no names) celebrating all employees who have a birthday in the month.

              3. turquoisecow*

                This is what my old company did, or at least my department. Once a month we got together in the afternoon to celebrate anyone who had a birthday that month. Usually the VP would briefly acknowledge the birthday people, and there was a rotating volunteer list who brought in snacks. We’d also often play a trivia game or something like that. It was all 100% optional and sometimes people would stop in and grab a cake and then go back to work if they were busy, or not come at all.

                Sometimes people would bring in cupcakes or whatever for their actual day, but for the most part the celebration was confined to once a month and it was equal for everyone.

                I usually take the day off for my birthday anyway.

            2. I should really pick a name*

              Is it hard?

              The last company I worked for made it pretty simple.
              The week before anyone’s birthday:
              “Would you like cupcakes? If so, what kind?”
              Then on the birthday, there were cupcakes.

              1. pancakes*

                That’s not hard, no. The idea that no one should be discernibly more popular than anyone else is the underlying idea of some comments here, and that is hard, if not impossible, to pull off.

              2. QuickerBooks*

                Agree. This is what my company does. And we change our Zoom backgrounds to something festive. People can then opt in or out of that if they wish. Otherwise there are no big acknowledgments, no signs, no cards. It is equally modest for everyone.

                1. I should really pick a name*

                  Yes, but I’m addressing someone’s suggestion that making celebrations equal is difficult.
                  The CEO got cupcakes. The newest hire got cupcakes. The person who didn’t want anything got nothing.

                2. Lydia*

                  Often (and I know it’s not always), there is an administrative assistant who handles things like this as part of their job, so it’s not a weird floating requirement that someone has to pick up.

              3. doreen*

                If birthday celebrations are an official thing , and it’s part of someone’s job to know if there when there are birthdays and ask about cupcakes, then no, it’s not hard. But I’ve never worked anywhere like that. Everywhere I’ve worked, birthday and all other celebrations are organized by co-workers on a voluntary basis – and that always means that there’s a chance someone will not have one. Maybe because people forgot that birthday , or didn’t have enough time after the announcement of another event to plan something ( someone announces their retirement two days before their last day at work) – and sometimes because the birthday person is that one person who literally doesn’t get along with anyone else in the office. There’s no way to avoid that unless all office celebrations are banned.

            3. LilPinkSock*

              That’s what we did at my last company. A cake for the birthdays of the month, a little get-together mid-morning to socialize and have a snack, and that was it! We did have a few people opt out of their month (one was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness, and a couple just didn’t want to celebrate) and it was no big deal.

        2. Jackalope*

          This comes up every time that birthday celebrations at work are mentioned in this website. Can we just acknowledge that people have different feelings about their birthdays and respect that for everyone? For some adults their birthday is either no big deal or actively something they dislike, and they don’t want to celebrate it (or don’t want to celebrate at work). For others it is indeed something special and important and they DO want to celebrate, including with coworkers. It’s not immature for an adult to want to celebrate at work, and it’s not curmudgeonly for an adult not to want to celebrate at work. Could we all just respect that everyone feels differently about this, and not indicate that there is something wrong with people who feel differently than us?

          1. quill*

            One of the reasons why I like the monthly cake roundup is that if you know it’s coming you can just ask the organizer to leave your name off the email if you don’t want to celebrate.

        3. Guin*

          Completely agree. I think birthdays should NEVER be celebrated at work, in any way, shape, or form. A birthday is a personal thing! If the bday person wants to make a big deal about it, they should do it off-work and not drag all the drama into the office. Presumably people in offices are adults, not 6-year-olds who cry about balloons.

          1. Maggie*

            I don’t care if my bday is celebrated one way or the other but just curious – what’s so personal about them?

          2. LilPinkSock*

            Is it “drama” to enjoy have a slice of cake once a month with the people in the next cube?

        4. Autumnheart*

          My office has an informal “The celebrant brings the treats” policy, and frankly I think that’s best. There’s too much opportunity for inequity if the company is the one running the show, because it’s too easy to forget people, play favorites, get a gluten cake for the gluten-free employee or an ice cream cake for the vegan, and generally cause ill feeling or low morale with an unforced error.

          Having the celebrant decide how and if they want to celebrate just makes it easier to avoid those issues.

      2. Spicy Tuna*

        I am 100% with you. Adults making a big deal about their birthday just seems really silly. Most places I’ve worked would have a monthly celebration, which I always skipped.

      3. Colette*

        I don’t expect my birthday to be celebrated at work, but if everyone else’s birthday is celebrated and mine isn’t, I’d be hurt – and that’s the problem the OP is trying to solve. Of course people who truly don’t want to have a celebration should be able to opt out, but celebrating individual birthdays is an easy way to make people unhappy (often the person who does most of the organizing for everyone else). You either have to celebrate everyone (except those who opt out) or no one.

        1. anonymous73*

          I understand the “celebrate everyone or no one” concept, but why would you be hurt? Are the people you work with your friends? If not, why do you care so much? I’m not trying to be mean, but once you reach adulthood if you get upset when your birthday is missed by a group of acquaintances, you may want to try and figure out WHY it bothers you so much. My best friends of 45+ years forgot to wish me a happy birthday last year. She realized it a day later an apologized profusely about it. It wasn’t a big deal – in fact I thought it was funny. Life happens and people get busy and once you reach adulthood, it’s really just another day.

          1. Lizzy May*

            It’s really just another day for you. For other people, their birthday is important and there’s nothing wrong with that. For some, a small acknowledgement of their birthday matters and it does hurt to feel left out. Most of us spend a huge chunk of our life working so when you’re skipped over in that environment, it can matter even if the people skipping you over aren’t your very best friends in the world. They are still a huge part of your social interactions and for many people it does hurt to feel like you aren’t seen or aren’t valued the same way others in the same group are.

            1. Maggie*

              Well said! If everyone else is being recognized for something, and you’re the one whose not that feels bad. I’m fairly lukewarm about work birthdays but would appreciate something small such as a free coffee or just a “happy birthday”. I celebrate my birthday every year because I love myself and the world is hard enough! Let’s find a reason to celebrate ourselves and be happy. Why the heck not?

              1. Maggie*

                Obviously everyone has their prefs, and if you don’t wanna celebrate that’s cool too! Maybe that’s how you love yourself, by keeping it chill and not making a big deal of it. Great! But just because we’re adults doesn’t mean it’s required to be just another day.

          2. Antilles*

            I think the key here is the part of OP’s post where they talk about working nights and weekends, having to work late on their birthday, etc…and then the company turns around and apparently forgets OP even exists immediately after going all out for Jim’s birthday. It’s just a bit of a slap in the face.

          3. Colette*

            Because if everyone else is recognized and you’re not, that’s hurtful. It’s not complicated.

            1. mandatory anon*

              Seems some are using the birthday debate to feel superior about not celebrating birthdays.

              1. TrainerGirl*

                Yep, it’s similar to the folks who boast about “my wedding was the most amazing ever and only cost $10!!!” statements that folks like to fling around. My thought is…do what you want…celebrate how you want. Different things are valid.

          4. Colette*

            Think about this another way. Someone on your team brings in cookies (or $5 gift cards), and gives one to everyone on the team except you. How would you feel?

            1. anonymous73*

              I wouldn’t let a non-gesture from an acquaintance hurt me. Even if it was a friend I would assume something legitimate happened and that’s why they missed me. I don’t allow insignificant things live in my head rent free.

              1. Cringing 24/7*

                But in OP’s case, this isn’t as much a non-gesture from an acquaintance as it is their official workplace going out of its way to recognize an event for some employees and not recognize that same event for other employees. People can react to that in a wide range such as feeling nothing about it to feeling overtly ignored and unappreciated. I, personally, don’t care if my work celebrates my birthday, BUT I haven’t told them this, and if they were to celebrate everyone’s but mine, I’d have to wonder – why did my boss act so carefully to remember everyone else’s birthday but not mine? So, it’s not about the birthday at that point, it’s about wondering why you’ve been treated differently.

              2. Lydia*

                I really dislike comments like this. They’re judgmental and superior-sounding, as if a person having an emotional reaction to something is a personality flaw or something. Hurray for you. You are above common human emotion and can move on with your day as if nothing has happened. Here’s your trophy.

              3. Colette*

                So you wouldn’t, at least momentarily, think “how come everyone else got that and I didn’t”? I don’t believe you.

                No one is suggesting that you should be mad for months if someone forgets your birthday. But patterns of stuff like that are important.

              4. Gothic Bee*

                There’s a big difference between a “non-gesture” and leaving someone out (whether deliberately or not). Plus there’s a greater expectation that a workplace adhere to some measure of equal treatment for all workers. It’s really not weird for someone to feel hurt by being treated differently than their coworkers.

          5. Elder Millennial*

            I do not care about work anniversaries, but if all my colleagues would get theirs recognized and mine would be ignored, I would still feel left out.

            It’s about not being included, not necessarily about the birthday.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              THIS RIGHT HERE!

              It’s not the what – it’s that aparently the company can’t be bothered to include everybody for whatever reason. Being left out hurts.

            2. Soprani*

              100% YES! My former boss went out of her way to wish my coworkers happy birthday and happy work anniversary, but never recognized mine. It was an indication that she didn’t feel connected to me which showed in many other subtle ways. This is one of the reasons why she is my former boss. The subtle signs eventually morphed into not-so-subtle red flags.

            3. turquoisecow*


              I don’t care about work anniversaries at all but if everyone else’s was acknowledged, even with just an email “thanks Bob for being here for 2 years,” and I didn’t, it would feel as though my work anniversary and my existence and my work is not important in the way that everyone else’s is.

          6. MCMonkeyBean*

            People are allowed to have different feelings than you. It’s great that you can brush those things off easily, but it is also super normal to feel neglected when no one acknowledges you for something while surrounded by the balloons leftover from acknowledging someone else. It probably wasn’t intentional and it probably doesn’t mean anything about how they feel about OP, but if you truly can’t understand why a person would feel slighted even in scenarios where they know logically no one was trying to snub them then you may want to try to figure out WHY.

            1. anonymous73*

              They didn’t say they felt “slighted”, they said they felt “hurt”. There’s a difference.

          7. Lydia*

            Thank you for telling other adults how they should and shouldn’t feel about something. It is a very adult thing to do.

          8. HannahS*

            It’s hurtful for a workplace to say, “We celebrate everyone for this arbitrary thing…except for you.” It’s exclusionary. Workplace milestones (the five-year certificate, the fifteen-year watch) are also arbitrary, time-based celebrations that have nothing to do with a person’s inherent value AND it would be pretty hurtful if they did that for everyone except for one person. If a workplace decides that they are going to make a gesture (however arbitrary) to show that they value their employee, they have to understand that leaving someone out says, “We don’t value you.”

          9. Lenora Rose*

            How exactly is being hurt at “I see them going all out for Joan, Jim, Janice, Jean, and Jorts, (and politely reminding everyone Jenny doesn’t celebrate for religious purposes since hers was accidentally noted on the calendar), but then they completely passed me over…” a hard thing to understand?

        2. MusicWithRocksIn*

          I mean, did the company buy the balloons and cake, or did Glinda from Accounting buy the balloons and cake because Elphaba from IT is her BFF? I think there’s a big difference if birthdays are officially organized by the company or people are just doing stuff for their friends?

          1. Colette*

            Sure, but if 90% of the team are friends and celebrate each other’s birthdays, they should include the other 10% or they’re making a decision to exclude them.

            1. Anya Last Nerve*

              It’s work, though, not kindergarten. Work can’t tell me that I am not allowed to make a big deal for my friend’s bday if I don’t also make a big deal for Bob’s bday when I barely work with Bob and I don’t enjoy working with him.

              I am not a big bday celebrator at all but I’ve noticed in the past that while other people may get big happy hours when they leave a job, I don’t get them. But I also am not great about hosting or attending happy hours for other people, so it makes sense and it’s not something I feel I should be hurt over unless I want to change my behaviors (and I don’t).

              1. Colette*

                If one person has a birthday celebration for one other person, it’s not a problem. But when it’s a culture of celebrating peoples’ birthdays, a clique excluding people is a work problem.

              2. Cringing 24/7*

                Work can tell you exactly this, though. Not in your personal life *outside* of work, but it is the prerogative of the employer to be able to say, “We’re limiting birthday celebrations in the office to one vanilla cake and one green balloon only, even if it’s brought in by others and not provided by the workplace.” Now, is that overly parental? Yes. But, as Colette’s statement implies, these sort of interpersonal celebrations being done in an office (as opposed to you being able to do almost entirely whatever you want with your work friends outside of the office) can easily get (or appear) cliquish and also just as easily appear discriminatory in a legal sense, because who is more likely to be closer friends and want to celebrate these sorts of things with each other? People with a lot in common. And this can optically look like people of one or similar races, ages, sexualities, et cetera.

                1. Gothic Bee*

                  This!! Even if it’s unintentional this kind of thing can lead to discriminatory practices, which is why it can be in the best interest of the workplace to have some sort of standard birthday celebration/acknowledgement so that it’s at least understood anything outside of that is done on a personal level.

              3. Emmy Noether*

                Well, part of the purpose of those rules in kindergarten is to teach children that excusion can be hurtful, so that they will hopefully grow up to be adults that try not to be exclusionary of their own volition, without there needing to be a rule.

        3. SoFresh&SoClean*

          Exactly. I don’t care about my birthday. I don’t care if I get a party, but I do care if everyone gets one and I don’t, because the message is that I matter less than the other people, and it puts me in the awkward place of either telling them they forgot me or keeping my mouth shut and getting hit with the same pang of disappointment every year when it happens again.

          And it does matter in a corporate situation. People react to you the way they see the company reacting to you. If the company thinks you’re forgettable, then people start to act that way. I’ve seen excellent employees totally destroyed because their manager puts out the impression that they are “less than” in some way. Just like I’ve seen terrible employees get promoted because someone likes them.

      4. Birthday signer*

        I couldn’t agree more! I worked at a small office where the owner made everyone sign a card and then go to the person’s desk to sign Happy Birthday to them. In an office of 27 people this got old very very quickly, not to mention awkward! Most people hated it but nobody could get out of if since the owner loved it. Ugh I was happy when I left and never had to do this again.

      5. Jackalope*

        So, to answer your practical question: I know at my job we had (pre-pandemic) a group who had volunteered for that to be their responsibility. They also solicited a list of birthdays from everyone in the office who wanted to participate in birthday celebrations and anyone who didn’t could just quietly not sign up and stay out of it. Everyone who wanted to participate got to put down a kind of dessert they wanted and then there would be a happy birthday song for them the morning of, the dessert in question, and some years (depending on who led the group) some balloons. Anyone who wanted to participate also paid a small amount of dues for the year and that’s where the money for the food/balloons came from.

      6. 2 Cents*

        I interned at a place where the 1st of the month (or close to it), a treat was brought in for the whole small office. The office manager had a budget and made the arrangements. One month it was cupcakes, another cookies—by far the best month was when Cold Stone came in to make our own creations. But whether you decided to divulge your birthday was in that given month was your own decision or even to partake, many seemed to enjoy the treat, it gave many a chance to socialize in an otherwise distributed office and it was an excuse to “celebrate.”

      7. MsClaw*

        Most of the offices I’ve worked in have had a monthly ‘cake day’ where like the Wednesday closest to the 15th is the day the admin orders a cake in the breakroom. There’s no organized event, no singing, no cards, no list of who has a birthday that month. It’s not really a birthday event so much as an excuse for cake, which is fine by me.

        I personally would find it really jarring to have my coworkers make a big deal of my birthday. I mean, I’m not going to get bent out of shape if someone wishes me a happy birthday but I certainly don’t expect it.

      8. Enginarian (Canada)*

        I have absolutely no wish to have my birthday acknowledged. But my bff and her family live for birthday celebrations.

      9. louvella*

        I don’t care about my birthday being acknowledged at work, however, I did once work at a place where everyone’s birthday was acknowledged in a big way, including birthdays shortly before mine, and mine was not acknowledged whatsoever. Perfectly happy with workplaces where birthdays are not a thing, but that still sucked.

      10. WantonSeedStitch*

        When my office was working in person, we would do a monthly office cupcake party, with cupcakes bought by the admin for the big boss, and that’s it. We would sing a generic happy birthday, and the big boss would ask if anyone had a birthday that month and wanted to share that info. If you didn’t want to, you didn’t have to. But we got cupcakes once a month, and that was nice.

      11. Kella*

        A lot of these considerations that you’ve mentioned are framed as if they’ve never done things like this before but OP says they used to celebrate everyone’s birthday prior to the pandemic. And it’s really not on OP to figure out these details. OP is flagging one thing: Currently, the way birthdays are celebrated in the office is not structured or formalized and it’s leading to inconsistency and exclusion. It’s up to management to determine whether it’s still feasible to celebrate everyone’s birthday, how to manage that, and if it’s not feasible, to ask for the individual celebrations to stop so that no one is left out.

      12. tamarack and fireweed*

        Yeah, I have hardly every worked anywhere where birthdays were even acknowledged (except by people who happened to know, like sometimes my manager or immediate co-workers), and if they are/were, then it’s of the order of a shout-out at the daily meeting, Slack-emoji fireworks (“hey it’s tamarack’s birthday, yay! happy birthday!” – less than 1 min altogether), or someone (90% of the cases, the person whose birthday it is) bringing cookies. I *would* expect that birthday people are exempted from particularly unpleasant, unscheduled stay-late events if at all possible, and be let go home first if not.

        My guess is that the cause of the stinging is the differential in appreciation, together with stress at work.

    8. High Score!*

      It seems weird to celebrate birthdays at work. That’s something for family and friends. Or company wishes a happy birthday to those who don’t opt out, but that’s it.

      1. Lucy P*

        Just remember that some people have little to no family or friends outside of the workplace. Assuming they like celebrating milestones, an acknowledgement at work may be one of the few times someone will say “Happy Birthday” during their day.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I’ve been that person. The way I was brought up to solve it is to bring in cookies on my birthday, which results in getting birthday wishes.

    9. Sara without an H*

      After reading this thread, I’m more than ever convinced that people fall into two camps regarding birthdays. One group loves birthday celebrations as evidence that they are seen and appreciated by the people around them. The other group thinks birthdays are for children. If you drew a Venn diagram of this pattern, you’d see two non-overlapping circles.

      The problem here, I think, is that OP’s firm seems to be celebrating employee birthdays at random, after years of having a monthly celebration. It doesn’t sound as though it’s personal, more probably the admin who organized it all retired or left the firm. So if birthdays are important enough to OP to take the matter up with management, Alison’s script is a good way to go.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        I fall into the “I’m indifferent to having my birthday acknowledged but will always say yes to cake” camp

        1. Dust Bunny*

          Same. I like birthdays but I was never, even as a kid, a big party person. Plus my birthday is on a holiday that usually involves people getting together with their own families, so my childhood friends were often not available on the actual day. I don’t think birthdays are only for children but I also have a very low bar for what can be considered celebratory.

        2. Maggie*

          Same here! I will celebrate it later with my husband regardless so I don’t need anything from work but I’m not like… rejecting overtures of cake! I’m accepting those!

    10. Aggretsuko*

      I feel similarly about my workaversary, which is a huge one and was completely ignored by upper management at the large staff meeting. My manager gave me my goodies, but there was no public acknowledgement and much as I don’t like my job, it’s a miracle I’ve survived it this long and I kinda wanted that shoutout and I even canceled a medical appointment when it was scheduled months ago and then they moved the meeting to the appointment time. (I still haven’t been able to reschedule either.).

      However, I really don’t want to be all whiny and complainy (to upper upper management, no less!) and actually SAY something about it and make people feel rude and embarrassed for forgetting me, especially since my name is mud around here as is as anyway. I wanted them to pick it up without my having to speak up and say something and call attention to myself as A Problem (AGAIN).

    11. Me!*

      I like getting a day off for my birthday. Except in 2013, when my present was getting my poor little car crunched by someone who ran a red light when I was on my way to buy shoes.*

      OldExjob always did a monthly cake, a birthday card (only for office people), and I sent out an email. For floor personnel, I printed the email out and put it on the bulletin board. I would look online to find pictures of crazy cakes to make the email fun, but after the job grew toxic, I stopped caring.

      *He’s all right now; after $4500 of body work, you can’t tell anything ever happened.

    12. Lucy P*

      I’m a big believer in celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries. I tried so much to make a recent anniversary for a coworker a great day that my SO jokingly told me I had CCD (Compulsive Celebration Disorder).

      I’ve had enough birthdays when either no one knew about it or it was forgotten. Or, I have a coworker whose birthday is the day before mine. They would get gifts from other coworkers and I got nothing. So I know if feels like absolute crap when you’re forgotten.

      Whatever can be done to make sure that no one is missed is a great idea.

    13. Flash Packet*

      From the moment I said, “Hello,” our department admin has disliked me. I have no idea why and I honestly don’t care.

      She puts up streamers on people’s cubes for their birthdays and sends out a department-wide email with a Happy Birthday gif tailored to that person (dancing cats for a cat lover, for instance).

      Me? Nothing.

      I was hoping to add up the years where she conveniently forgot my birthday but last year I was on the phone with my manager late in the afternoon on the day of my birthday and said something about my plans for a birthday dinner that evening. He panicked because there hadn’t been a “Happy Birthday, Flash!” email from the admin first thing that morning. I guess it took him awhile to reach her (or to convince her) but she eventually sent the email at a few minutes before 5:00 PM, the usual end of our workday.

      I’m actually kind of bummed that he strong-armed her into it. I’m not a fan of office birthday celebrations anyway, so I had been happy to be left out.

      If offices are going to acknowledge birthdays, it really should be a monthly thing that’s more of a team-building social break (“Hey everybody, come get some cake!”) instead of singling out individuals.

      1. Lydia*

        But yours is exactly why it should just be a policy one way or the other. An admin shouldn’t get to decide to celebrate everyone’s except that one person they decided they don’t like, and your manager should be aware enough to have a conversation about it being for everyone or no one, or the monthly thing so one person’s bad attitude can’t be targeted on one person.

    14. KatieP*

      I like the mothly birthday cake, with a list of names and birthdates. As someone whose birthday coincides with a major US holiday, I’ve learned to walk it off when it gets forgotten – most of the time.

      My previous employer was very toxic and had some obvious favorites, including the person with a birthday the day before mine, and the person with a birthday the day after mine, one of whom shared a boss with me. They didn’t like me pointing out their uneven treatment of staff.

    15. Reluctant Mezzo*

      The problem with mentioning the monthly birthday celebration will be that this employee will have to run it. Not sure if that’s what they want.

    16. LittleMarshmallow*

      It’s so sad when people feel left out. I hope I never contributed to that for someone.

      By my work though, we do a monthly ice cream for that month’s birthdays and sometimes the people whose birthday it was tries to hide. We are a bunch of nerdy introverts that just want our monthly ice cream without a lot of fanfare! It’s glorious really.

  3. June*

    I think it depends on what you’re paying now towards your insurance. If you’re paying $75 and it jumps to $258 that’s still fairly reasonable. I do think they should have given you more notice.

    1. Willis*

      Yeah, like your math shows it’s probably within the ballpark for normal insurance costs overall, but a case where the employer is shifting a lot of the payment to employees. Which is not unheard of, but an overall reduction in compensation sucks and more notice would have been good.

    2. Double A*

      Yeah, this letter is kind of hard to respond to without numbers. It sucks to suddenly be paying a lot more for health insurance, but if you’re now paying $300-400 a month, it may be hard to find any other job that does you much better than that. If you’re paying $1000 a month now, then maybe you should start looking.

      I had a union teaching job and my share for a family was over $700. We actually just got a plan for my daughter on the healthcare exchange because it was cheaper than adding her to my insurance.

      1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

        Wait $400??? I hope that’s for a family and not an individual plan! My most expensive single plan was like $85 (not including the HSA Withdrawl).

        1. Rose*

          I pay over $500/month for my individual plan – my employer covers $550/month. Granted it is a “good” plan (not that any plans are really that good…)

          1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

            I sure hope that there are no copays or out of pocket costs and that every medication and doctor is approved. I cannot fathom paying so much just for insurance. Granted I live in lower cost of living states but still!

            1. Rose*

              Hahaha I wish! In network deductible is $1000, out of network think is $3000. Dr visit copay is $40; specialist is $75. Some things are covered and don’t count towards the deductible at least – like primary care visits, screenings like mammograms, etc. My doctor network is pretty extensive – I can’t recall a time recently where a doctor did not accept my insurance.

        2. Howard Bannister*

          So, that does sound pretty high… but I did some googling, and about one-third of the people working for smaller companies (and I couldn’t find a definition — depending how you define it it’s either one third or two thirds of the workforce) pay the full premium themselves.

          Which would on average be higher than 400/month.

          (this is based on Kaiser’s surveys on the subject–lots of links on this, which would get me thrown in moderation, but you can google and see some of this)

          So if you’ve always worked for larger companies (like me) that sounds absurd, but is actually not out of line with the experience of a lot of people.

    3. BRR*

      That’s not a fairly reasonable amount if you’ve been paying $75. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to the LW to debate what an ok amount to pay is based off what typical employee contributions are when no matter which way you look at the numbers it’s a huge salary cut.

      1. TechWorker*

        Not to nitpick but that’s actually not true – we have the info that contributions go up by 345% but no info about how much money that is compared to their salary – it could be a huge salary cut or it could be a small one. No one likes salary cuts at any level ofc.

        1. BRR*

          It’s still a substantially larger amount percentage wise than the lw was paying before. If the lw is earning $100k a year and goes from paying $289 a year to $1,000, I still don’t think it’s helpful to say “well it’s only a $711 increase for you, that’s not a lot of money for you so it’s fine.”

          1. Blue*

            Nobody’s arguing that it’s not a larger percentage- clearly a 345% increase is large- but having a sense of how much other companies are having employees pay for insurance is definitely helpful for OP to know whether it would be better elsewhere. Having that kind of extra context is not a bad thing.

          2. L.H. Puttgrass*

            The thing is, you can describe that $289 to $1,000 increase for someone making $100k as a a 345% increase, a $711/year increase, or an increase of 0.7% in the amount of salary spent on health insurance costs. Some of those numbers sound scarier than others.

            June’s point is valid: you can’t necessarily judge based on percentage increases. If health insurance goes from $5/month to $25/month, that’s a 500% increase—but either amount would still be really low for employees of most U.S. companies. And the extra $20 doesn’t seem like that much more money in absolute terms, either.

            You can’t know if a percentage increase is “substantially larger” in absolute terms unless you know the starting. I think it’s safe to assume that LW4 doesn’t have an unusually low health insurance contribution, but we don’t know that from the letter.

            1. RB*

              I assumed the $289 example was a monthly cost, not a yearly cost. It would be a really good deal if that was for a full year.

        2. ThatGirl*

          In any big company, there are likely to be a range of salaries – so it may not feel like a big hit for the top earners, but it may be a big one for people who are only making, say, $45k a year. And I don’t know about you, but everywhere I’ve worked the premiums have been the same for everyone regardless of salary.

        3. Yorick*

          This is true. When I got married and added my husband to my insurance, it sounded like a family plan was gonna be $100 or so more (I don’t remember exactly now). But because it’s pretax my take home pay only went down about $10.

    4. me*

      Are you kidding me? You have to be pretty financially secure for a $200/month increase in expenses to not be a big deal. Also, I’ve NEVER had a job where the insurance cost anywhere near $300-400/month for one person. That’s like half a rent payment. I know a lot of people are being extorted by our healthcare system but let’s not dismiss OP’s situation.

      1. Venus*

        Rent here is $2500, so $200 isn’t a big change. Any added expense would be unwelcome, of course, but numbers and a bit of context would be helpful. Premiums could have gone from $25 to $110 or $5 to $22

        1. Fae Kamen*

          I don’t understand why people insist on their opinions that $X is “not that much” or “not a big change.” You must know that for many people, high rents are a struggle—indeed the main cause of many households’ financial struggle. Just because $200 is substantially less than rent doesn’t mean it’s not significant.

      2. Recruiter*

        For additional context, $300-400 being half of a rent payment (I haven’t paid $800 in rent since like 2015 when I had a roommate) would be a dream to me and most people I know, and I’m not in a super high cost of living area.

        1. me*

          The Midwest. Granted, I’ve owned a condo for 3 years, so that doesn’t take into account the recent bubble.

      3. Anya Last Nerve*

        I’ve worked at several large national companies and health insurance for me alone has always been $400-500/month. It would be hard to get it down to $300 unless I had an extremely high deductible and no dental or vision.

      4. fhqwhgads*

        I took that comment as meaning $200/month for insurance is not huge, not that jump/extra expense isn’t significant to any particular person’s budget.

    5. ASW*

      I’m not sure I think $75 to $258 is reasonable, but I do agree with the sentiment that it depends on the dollar amounts, not just the percentage. I currently pay nothing for my insurance. I paid $5 at my previous job. A 345% increase to that would be $22.25. Not a big deal, especially when my employer is still paying several hundred a month for their portion. Of course, I doubt the OP would have bothered writing in because she suddenly had to pay $20 for insurance, but I still can’t really judge the employer based on just a percentage.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        It’s not. That would be a massive financial hit for me, and for a lot of people.

        1. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

          Right? Suddenly paying $150 more a month could be catastrophic. Especially right now when the prices of other necessities are rising, too.

      2. Gothic Bee*

        Yeah, I mean this does hugely depend on pay and current cost. I pay about $75 a paycheck for insurance and get paid hourly (around $17 an hour). A jump like that would be rough. Assuming these are monthly payments not per paycheck, a $75 to $258 jump would still be over $2k per year, that’s a lot for most people.

    6. mlem*

      Yeah, years ago my company went from paying 95% of our premium to 85%, which meant our personal contribution tripled … but it’s still currently under $150 a month for an individual plan. Some people are right on the edge and any extra amount can really hurt, but I agree that percentage alone doesn’t tell enough of the story.

    7. AnastaziaD*

      Yes, more context on dollar amounts is needed to form an opinion about this increase. It’s possible OP was paying unusually low premiums for coverage and employer is moving more towards prevalent practice.

    8. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      While that may be a fairly typical amount to pay for insurance, it’s a $2000 pay cut at a time a COLA would be +8%. That’s not reasonable IMO.

    9. MCMonkeyBean*

      Big no on that from me. That’s still a paycut of over $2k per year and could take an enormous chunk out of someone’s monthly grocery budget…

    10. Brett*

      I was thinking about the use of percentages. I had an old plan that jump from $5/month to $30/month. That’s technically a 500% increase, but still was ultimately still a great employee share (and was for employees who were making more than $60k/year with cost sharing for employees making less than that).

    11. Lydia*

      See, that doesn’t feel like a reasonable increase at all to me. That can have a serious impact on other parts of your budget.

    12. Jack Bruce*

      If my premium jumped to $200-300/mo when I was single and was paid $40k/year, that would have definitely be unreasonable. I can’t recall having an insurance premium under $75/mo since the early 2000s. All our premiums are same across the board every place I’ve worked, no sliding scale for how much you make. It’s interesting to see how much it varies- but however you look at it, this much of an increase is ridiculous.

  4. Tom*

    I hope correspondant #3 is able to reinstate birthdays again, and maybe gets a belated treat from their coworkers! Acknowledgement is really important, especially when you’re overworked.

    At the same time it reminds me of a toxic place I worked where birthdays were a huge deal. As someone who prefers not to acknowledge their birthday – being under the spotlight is very unpleasant for me – it felt like it became a bizarre battle of wills between me and the Birthday Enforcers. They got hold of my file to find out when my birthday was because I had politely demurred when asked, saying I’d rather not celebrate it. And on the day I had to be gracious at a fancy lunch.
    After a few years of this I complained to my manager about. She explained to me that my birthday wasn’t about me, but belonged to everyone. And something about how if I didn’t share personal things my workplace wasn’t getting the ‘whole me’.
    So yes to fun acknowledgements of staff, but please let people opt out without comment!

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      That is awful. We consider people’s birthdays to be personal information and always check for permission before creating the monthly birthdays list.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        My Dept manager was the organizer and person paying for the treat to do a monthly b-day celebration. The only people he asked about were the couple of vegan coworkers – and then it was just what month should I go to “bakery d’vegan” instead of Costco to get the treats*? So there weren’t names on anything, and his announcement was along the lines of “I hope if you are part of this months birthdays you have an enjoyable birthday.” He was super low-key.

        But now we are remote, so no more Friday cookies/brownies. He still does an email along the lines of his previous announcement though (still with no names).

        *he always made sure to have cups of fresh chopped fruit at every Birthday Friday as well. He has been good about doing everything he can to include everybody.

    2. AS87*

      “My birthday wasn’t about me, but belonged to everyone.”
      So I believe that is supposed to be…the exact opposite?
      As someone who does not like celebrating their birthday at work, I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        “ my birthday wasn’t about me, but belonged to everyone.”

        Wait, what?

        1. Clorinda*

          Everyone wants cake. Everyone gets cake on someone’s birthday. Therefore, everyone wants to celebrate AS87’s birthday so they all get cake.
          Solution: cake once a month, “happy birthday to all our August birthday people,” and everyone gets cake.
          I teach in a seven person department and we have birthday cake once a month during our department meeting, just to be sure we don’t miss anyone.

    3. Frally*

      Your birthday belongs to everyone???? OMG. Sounds like someone looks forward to those birthday cakes every month and can’t stand the thought of missing one! Ridiculous.

      1. Astoria*

        Exactly! This kind of thing is why I prefer a monthly birthday and/or work anniversary celebration for in- office work. No lopsided celebrations, accidentally forgetting someone, etc.

        I wouldn’t mind doing the same for remote work – a single “Happy June Birthday/Anniversary to [list of those who choose such acknowledgment] “ chat post.

      2. pancakes*

        It is ridiculous. I don’t have strong feelings about not celebrating mine, but if I overheard something like that at work I’d be very tempted to get very private about it!

    4. Irish Teacher*

      “After a few years of this I complained to my manager about. She explained to me that my birthday wasn’t about me, but belonged to everyone. And something about how if I didn’t share personal things my workplace wasn’t getting the ‘whole me’.”

      That is ridiculous. How could somebody’s birthday “belong to everyone.” That sounds like “we wanted a celebration, your birthday made a good excuse and we don’t care how you feel about it.”

      1. JustaTech*

        This sounds so much like that recent EECO settlement where the employee really, really, really didn’t want a birthday celebration because it triggered panic attacks, the boss said “too bad”, the employee had a panic attack and left, then the next day the boss call them in to yell at them for leaving, the employee had *another* panic attack and then the boss fired them for “being dangerous” for having a panic attack.

        The whole thing was just bizarre and cruel, and could have been completely avoided by either 1) letting the person not go to the birthday thing or 2) doing a monthly birthday thing and not requiring anyone to go.

    5. Zaphod Beeblebrox*

      They’re not getting the “whole you”?
      There’s 168 hours in a week – they (presumably) pay you for a fraction of them.
      Damn right they don’t get the “whole you”!

    6. Triplestep*

      My stance on adult birthday celebrations *in general* (not just at work) is that I tolerate them. I don’t mean milestone birthdays – I get those – I mean random, mid-decade, “oh wow, you’re turning twenty-something?” birthdays. I don’t know when it became commonplace to recognize every single adult year. I agree being acknowledged at work is important, but for work accomplishments and perhaps big personal milestones.

      Certainly if the office culture is to recognize birthdays, people should not be left out unless they prefer to be. And I do go along with these kinds of things at work – I don’t protest on principle! Scanning the comments here I can see I’m in the minority, but I’m still commenting because I know I’m not alone; If someone suggests to a manager that birthdays be celebrated at work, and that manager looks at adult birthdays the same way I do, that person might end up being seen as lacking maturity. Just seemed worth mentioning.

      1. Jackalope*

        This seems like a good opportunity to rethink your stance, then. It’s fine if you don’t like to celebrate YOUR birthday, but it’s wrong to assume that other adults wanting to celebrate theirs are immature.

        1. Lydia*

          Yeah, that whole “immature” narrative is starting to wear on me. People get to feel differently about low stake things without being judged for it.

          1. Triplestep*

            If by “being judged” you mean “others will have an opinion”, sorry – people DO get to feel however they feel, but it’s too much to ask that others won’t have an opinion. People with opinions get to feel how they feel, too.

            Of course others don’t need to EXPRESS that opinion, but they can hardly help forming it nonetheless. Frame it any way you like, but having the information that not everyone places great emphasis on adult birthdays – and might see someone doing so at work as “lacking maturity” – is valuable information.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              I have sympathy for your opinion (without entirely sharing it), but I just want to point out that “they can hardly help forming it” is really really not correct, and more to the point, less than entirely what’s expected in a community. If multiple people who you respect point out that a certain opinion is crap (think of discriminatory opinions “[group X members] tend to be lazy/slovenly/…” or pet peeves about spelling or whatever) then it’s time to work on oneself to stop having this opinion.

              Opinions aren’t immovable pieces of mental furniture that you are just passively settled with. Your opinions are constructed by yourself and are subject to examination, critical thinking, quality control, ethical review etc.

              1. Triplestep*

                Unless we are talking about solicited opinions, “can hardly help forming it” is absolutely correct. It’s a visceral response. What one DOES with that response CAN be helped. Do you apply a filter? Do you act on a negative opinion in any way? The answers should be “yes” and “no” respectively.

                This does not apply to solicited opinions – that’s completely different. If you came to me at work and said “Where should we go to lunch for the team meeting?” or “which t-shirt do you like better, red or blue?” I may not have a strong opinion. If you came to me at work sulking because no one had said “Happy Birthday” to you (and we did not have a culture of celebrating birthdays, so this is not a matter of being singled out) then I’d think that was a silly thing to be upset about. I might wonder why you were not more concerned with your work, or a project I needed help with, or whatever. That would be a visceral response. I don’t need to tell you “Oh, grow up!” but I might be thinking it.

                If multiple people I respect point out a certain opinion is crap, then of course I’d re-visit it. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

                1. Lydia*

                  Hello. Having an opinion that birthdays don’t matter that much TO YOU is perfectly valid. Having an opinion that birthdays don’t matter and people who think they do are immature is actually something you can easily just sidestep and keep quiet about if it’s so innate to you that your whole body reacts viscerally. You don’t think celebrating your birthday at work is necessary? Congratulations! You think I’m immature because I like to? You’re a jerk.

                2. Triplestep*

                  @Lydia. You seem determined to be insulted by what I wrote, so I don’t know that it will do much good to point out (again!) that I don’t share this opinion at work. I shared it HERE so people would know there are folks who roll their eyes over forced office birthday celebrations. I think that is valuable information. *shrug*.

                  BTW the word “visceral” doesn’t mean what you think it does.

                3. tamarack and fireweed*

                  Well, it was what I was talking about.

                  And what we were definitely not talking about is the commenters’ (or your) opinion about birthdays – that’s a one-step process that engages only you. What you’re saying is how it works for these. Chocolate or strawberry ice cream? Dessert or cheese? Birthday parties or restraint/privacy? No filter needed here. Visceral is fine.

                  But when the opinion is about people, a filter is totally appropriate. I don’t think I have a single opinion regarding value judgements about people that has not gone through review and filters. Yes, I think certain types of people (based on behavior that impacts others, not based on group membership or meaningless preferences of the type above) are ridiculous, childish, or even much worse. But these are all *considered* opinions that, if I chose to make them public, I’m happy to justify.

        2. Triplestep*

          When someone expresses an opinion that she knows to be widely held but not often articulated, it’s wise to simply make a mental note of it. No one is saying you have to like it or agree, but it’s valuable information nonetheless.

          1. Jackalope*

            I’m afraid that mostly what it tells me is that the person who’s making that judgment call is, in this area at least, a bit of a jerk, or at least thoughtless in a way that is unkind towards the people around them. Birthdays are widely considered in the US at least to be an important day. It’s not something that matters to everyone, and obviously there are people who don’t want to celebrate them for a number of reasons. But considering that a day that is known to be important to many in our culture shouldn’t be, and it’s “immature” to care about it? That’s a jerk call, and acting on it to treat someone else differently because their birthday is important to them when they’re over 21 isn’t cool. I would also 100% support someone who didn’t want to celebrate their birthdays, and think that likewise they shouldn’t be considered in the wrong for not wanting to celebrate. But this just seems unkind and not warranted.

            1. Triplestep*

              You’ve misunderstood. When I wrote “When someone expresses an opinion …” and I was referring to the fact that I had shared an opinion HERE. I wasn’t saying I go around opining about how frivolous it is for adults to celebrate, mid-decade, non-milestone birthdays with colleagues at work. Actually I said the opposite. I expressed an opinion HERE because I know that I am not alone in participating in these one-off office birthday celebrations while believing them to be a bit silly.

              What you do with that information is up to you. I’d file it away for future reference (which is what my reply said, essentially.) Or, you know, take nothing from it but offense.

              1. tamarack and fireweed*

                What seems to be at least partially responsible for the pushback you’re getting is that what you’re saying is kinda hard to pin down. Sure, I can think of birthday celebrations at works as “a bit silly” – but that’s not a negative judgement in my book. It’s more like having a sense of humor about my own weaknesses or indulgences. “Lacking a sense of maturity” however is a *seriously* negative judgement. And it’s about a person, while “a bit silly” is about an action. Having an opinion about a co-worker that they’re “lacking a sense of maturity”, for something as minor as their enjoyment of birthday parties, is totally a jerk move (whether you say it or only think it). Saying, with a friendly wave, something like “oh, I tend to think of birthday parties of work as a little bit silly, but hey, we all enjoy a bit of silliness at one point” is not.

                And I looked at the comment above, and you did indeed bring up saying so at work, so please don’t now pretend that this didn’t come from you.

                1. Triplestep*

                  Nope, never said I talk about this at work. The only references to that here were by others. As if someone who finds celebrating birthdays at work silly MUST be vocalizing and harping on it. I also suspect people are bristling at the idea that they might have celebrated their office birthdays with colleagues whose hearts weren’t actually in it.

      2. HoHumDrum*

        I always find this so weird. Who truly is opposed to getting an opportunity to do something nice with loved ones? I feel like there really aren’t enough celebrations of little milestones, especially if you’re not on the marriage and having children track. You turned another year older? Let’s celebrate! You got a good performance review? Let’s celebrate! Finally got your puppy house trained? Let’s celebrate!

        Life is short, it’s nice to have excuses to spread love while we still can.

        1. JustaTech*

          Honestly, given the state of the world the past few years, there *is* something to celebrate about living another year.

          At my work we do e-cards (no waste, no fuss, no wandering around asking people to sign) and before COVID we did cake. Maybe we’ll do cake again. On the list of easy morale boosts, cake (without singing!) is pretty high up.

        2. Maggie*

          I strongly agree! The world is ugly enough, I’m going to have fun and do little things to enjoy life and try to share that with other people. If they aren’t interested, no problem.

        3. Triplestep*

          So the assumption is because I don’t love random birthdays at work, I am opposed to doing something nice with loved ones? That’s quite a leap!

          Maybe the assumption should be that I enjoy doing things with those near and dear and don’t need a made up reason to do it, like “random birthday.”

      3. cardigarden*

        Birthdays, done well and equitably, can be a great morale booster. One of the good things ToxicExJob did was get a really nice cake for the monthly all-staff meeting to celebrate that month’s birthdays. A slice of double-chocolate cake and some extra time away from my desk (beyond just the all-staff) frankly did A LOT to make things a smidge more tolerable, at least for that day. I agree with Jackalope and you should probably rethink your stance re perceptions of maturity.

      4. Maggie*

        I don’t know when “it changed” but celebrating in some way each year has always been commonplace for myself and friends (early 30s). Frankly at the places I’ve worked if someone was like “when did we start celebrating adults? This is immature” they would be seen as really negative and stodgy which could affect their reputation as well.

        1. Triplestep*

          But you read where I said I don’t opt out of celebrations, right? You don’t even have to have read any of my replies – it’s in the comment you’re actually replying to above. No one is talking about *saying* “when did we start celebrating adults? This is immature”.

          1. Lydia*

            Generally, when people react to your comment in a way that doesn’t seem to be in the way it was intended, instead of doubling down and making it everyone else’s fault, you could step back and consider, just maybe, what you said came across as judgmental and rude.

            1. Triplestep*

              No people are very much reacting to my comment the way I thought they would. I posted to let people know there are folks who outwardly go along with office birthday parties, but think they kind of silly and definitely unnecessary. I knew this was an opinion that was somewhat common, but rarely articulated so I thought it would help people to know that seeking attention on your birthday (or for peoples birthdays) might get you the side-eye at work.

              What I did NOT expect was:
              – People telling me I should not say this at work (I said I don’t. It’s in my first comment)
              – People telling me folks get to feel what they feel without judgement … except me. My feelings can and should be judged.
              – People telling me I should just go along with parties (I said I do. It’s in my first comment)
              – People telling me that my whole body reacts viscerally to the idea of birthday parties at work (lol!)
              – People being so pissed they break the commenting rules rules and call me a jerk (oh wait that was just you!)

              tl:dr I expected people to disagree with me. I did NOT expect people to add a whole bunch of stuff I never said nor implied just to disagree with me MORE!

              1. Batgirl*

                Yeah, I have read the heated defense of birthdays at work along here, with quite a lot of amazement. I don’t even dislike or disagree with work birthdays; There’s definitely an argument for not excluding people, certainly an argument for birthdays being good morale because lots of people like them. Also, I get that there’s no point in being the fun police. Equally though, I have kind of had the sneaking suspicion that lots of people must work in places with lots of time to spare, and enough organisational people to see to the little things ( which is a good thing, but a very particular type of culture). In a lot of workplaces the work is piling up and I can definitely see some managers, their hair on fire, looking at a person who is requesting birthday admin as though they don’t have great prioritisation instincts. I would actually kind of like my birthday to be well marked (getting the day off, definitely wins), but in most places it’s going to be half hearted, impersonal, rushed, under resourced or funded by staff and yeah…resented. I would like to forgo my current workplaces only birthday plan which is of being sang at, in meetings. I would like to stop singing at others too.

              2. Lydia*

                This would be what I’m talking about when I said doubling down. People aren’t reacting to you saying you don’t think it’s fun to celebrate them; they’re reacting to you implying people are silly for doing it. Whether or not you said people ARE silly, the implication is that they are. That is what they’re reacting to.

                And if we’re doing this, visceral comes from viscera, hunty. You know, the goopy stuff inside you?

                1. Triplestep*

                  What exactly do you see as “doubling down”? I think it is silly to continue to want personalized birthday attention as an adult in the workplace. That is my opinion. I own it. I have no issue whatsoever with people not liking my opinion – I knew people wouldn’t. I posted so that if people think birthday attention at work is a universally well-liked thing, they should know that, well … it’s not. Perhaps the manager they approach about it feels the way I do. Maybe she’s got more important things to think about.

                  I realize people don’t like when someone has a strong opinion and is also totally OK with others not liking that opinion. So I’m not sure what you see as “doubling down”. Just because I hold an unpopular opinion doesn’t mean I have to let it stand when people put words in my mouth, or suggest I’m lying when I say I don’t talk about this at work, or (the best one yet) accuse me of having a physical reaction to the mere mention of an office birthday celebration! Setting the record straight isn’t doubling down.

    7. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Well, if it’s not about me, I guess I don’t have to show up! Problem solved! /sarcasm.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        For real, I’d react to that nonsense by taking the birthday off and telling everyone “I will be out tomorrow, but please don’t let that stop you from enjoying my birthday, which belongs to all of you. Happy my birthday, everyone!”

    8. Me!*


      There was one person at OldExjob who did not want to acknowledge his. I therefore did nothing. People have many reasons (other than religious) for not wanting that kind of attention—maybe the birthday is traumatic somehow, or they’re uncomfortable with everyone making a fuss over them.

      What a terrible manager. Your work is supposed to get your work and that is all.

    9. WantonSeedStitch*

      Yikes. What would they have done if you were a practicing Jehovah’s Witness and your religion prevented you from celebrating birthdays?

    10. OtterB*

      The “whole you” includes being a person who doesn’t like to celebrate their birthday publicly. You tried to give them the whole you, and they didn’t want it.

      This is, of course, ridiculous.

      We used to have a cake at our staff meeting nearest the person’s birthday, flavor chosen by the birthday person. When the staff size increased enough that that was no longer feasible, we went to cupcakes once a month celebrating all the staff birthdays that month.

      Then, of course, pandemic.

    11. Kit*

      I would absolutely have informed her that if the workplace wanted the ‘whole me,’ they would get the part of me that hates being the center of attention and sulks through it rather than feigning graciousness. Call it anything but “Kit’s Birthday Lunch!!!1!!!eleventy” and don’t mention me except as a member of the department, and I’ll enjoy the food just like everyone else.

      Glad you’re out of there!

    12. Petty Betty*

      I don’t celebrate my birthday, either. I had a job that did a monthly birthday potluck and for a while, I was the only birthday in that month. I knew that it wasn’t about me, but an excuse to have a monthly potluck. Then someone else came in who shared a birthday with me. I said she could celebrate for the both of us.

  5. Marnix*

    Whenever the subject of celebrations of birthdays at work comes up, it generally falls into two camps: those who can’t stand it (legit attitude) and those who don’t (also legit).
    Personally, I’m all for it. Some of my favorite coworkers are not. Easy enough to have people decide for themselves if they’d like a small celebration (a card passed around, balloon tied to their chair, monthly cake, whatever). Or to be completely skipped. Both decisions are valid.
    To skip someone who like
    a little acknowledgment deserves one. To be skipped makes for really sore feelings – that can be easily rectified. Someone needs to be put in charge of following the list of peoples’ preferences.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, you need to ask employees if they would like birthday acknowledgements, rather than automatically doing it, because some people hate it, and some people don’t celebrate for religious reasons. I’ve worked places where the traditional was to bring in doughnuts on your own birthday, which gives both a skipping and making sure it’s celebrated option (gov’t employer, so there was no official budget allowed for this sort of thing).

      1. Mid*

        That’s my favorite policy. Or let the birthday person pick the treat on the company dime, if there is a birthday budget. Otherwise having a monthly “birthday” thing can work well if your company/department is big enough to have multiple birthdays in every month, because if not, it’s just a birthday celebration for one person who may or may not want it.

        1. Threeve*

          I think my office does it perfectly: they ask if you mind your birthday being celebrated (are you cool with a card, a celebration or both? we usually do both but it’s up to you) and once a month they have cupcakes or pastries or something to celebrate all of that month’s birthdays. The birthday people are acknowledged but not really singled out, and everyone mostly just stands around chatting. After I was hired, the joke was “you couldn’t be a September? We don’t have a September yet.” It’s really just an excuse for a nice snack break.

          1. JustaTech*

            This sounds great. My former coworker and I shared a birthday and aside from being a bit odd she was pleased because she always took her birthday off (wasn’t into the celebration) and now I could stand for both of us (because my stance is cake? yes please!) and no one would complain they weren’t getting cake.

      2. Fed-o*

        I like this option. From the perspective of the boss in a large government office, a) we don’t proactively celebrate or acknowledge or even know about birthdays, because they are PII–totally up to an individual if they say anything about them at all; and b) no food budget at all, so cakes and other celebratory foods come out of my pocket. Every few months I’ll buy something, but it’s for 70 people and that’s adds up. I’m relieved, frankly, that we aren’t in the business of having to keep track of every person’s birthday.

      3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        That is what my last in office job did. During your first week someone would send you a spreadsheet to opt-in or out of the monthly birthday celebrations and list preferred snacks/flavors and any allergies/food restrictions. It seemed to go pretty smoothly and was the only place I ever got my favorite treat for my birthday (berries and cream)

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

        Agreed. Ask and respect people’s preferences. I’m one who doesn’t want to celebrate my birthday or work anniversary — I’ll tolerate a card that’s SIGNED, but please stop feeling the need to write a personal note; it feels (and reads) like a high school yearbook “You’re so rad, stay cool!” But I’m happy to celebrate other’s birthdays if they want to and it’s not awkwardly forced upon them.

    2. Hazel*

      At my last company, your manager would decorate your office the night before your birthday. There would be flowers or some small gift along with all of the decorations. I was really looking forward to this, and when I came to the office on my birthday, I was so disappointed because there was nothing. I don’t think they did it any more after that, but it would have been much better if we were informed it was stopping because then I wouldn’t have felt forgotten and crappy about it.

    3. ThatGirl*

      In general, I think people should be treated equally around birthdays across an office – with the ability to opt out if you really hate celebrating it.

      I had a boss years ago who was a Jehovah’s Witness, and she didn’t celebrate her birthday, which was totally fine — except she made a big deal about telling everyone when it was so they would make sure to NOT CELEBRATE IT wink wink.

        1. ThatGirl*

          She secretly wanted people to make just the right amount of fuss over her. She was…. weird.

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      Sometimes, the pro-celebration people steamroller over the anti-celebration people because “Of course you want this!” So you’re forced into a celebration you find embarrassing and irritating, and lectures on how you’re wrong for hating the thing you hate and you should be happy. (Obviously, I’m in the “I hate this and my birthday is none of your business” camp.)

      But…giving birthday acknowledgments selectively is worse. It’s not just dismissive of other people’s feelings, it’s purposefully exclusionary. It should be either blanket monthly celebrations or a spread-sheet that lets the celebrants choose if they’re in or out.

  6. IT Guy*

    #1 – FMLA and 8 weeks short term disability is the existing maternity policy. My guess is they are extending it to Men also to make it equal. My company did that about 5 years ago and then extended it to 16 weeks 3 years ago.

    1. Cherry Sours*

      Men are already permitted to take FMLA after the birth a baby or adoption of a child. This is federal law, and nothing new.

      1. IT Guy*

        Yes, but the short term disability is their maternity/paternity plan. It essentially makes the time off paid.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          My presumption is that men also have access to short-term disability. Just not (in the lifetime of most companies) for birth of a child.

          If an *additional* paternity policy is created that only men have access to then that’s discriminatory.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          If what they’re now offering paid leave to male parents, and paid leave to female parents who give birth, that leaves out non-male, non-gestational parents entirely. They only get unpaid leave. Not good.

      2. Snow Globe*

        FMLA does not require time off to be paid. The change is that now time off for paternity leave or adoption leave will be paid, while leave for employees who have given birth has always been paid.

    2. Susie Q*

      I doubt they are expanding short-term disability because men (typically) are not the ones who give birth. Giving birth is a medical event which is why the person who gives birth can occasionally get short-term disability. The non birthing person does not go through the same medical event and therefore would not qualify for short term disability.

      1. Generic Name*

        Exactly. There is no “disability” leave for the non-birth parent to take because they did not just go through an incredibly physically taxing process making it impossible to work for a few weeks.

      2. RagingADHD*

        They may be enacting some policy that would provide the equivalent for non-birthgiving and adoptive parents.

        1. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

          Yeah, but that is a problem because if the man gets fully paid paternity leave without having to use disability and the woman has to use up a portion of her disability to get the same benefit, that is discriminatory. If the men cannot use the disability and are given another option, the women need an option for the same amount of paid time without using disability coverage.

      3. IT Guy*

        I think some people are stuck on the word disability in short-term disability leave. Depending on how it is set up it is not only used if you have a disability, but if a family member or you have an event. Our plan is self-funded by the company and includes maternity, paternity, adoption, etc. You acquire a child, you get 16 weeks of leave paid through the short-term disability program.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          Look, if the plan they had for short-term disability already included life events including paternity and adoption then there would be no need and no loud announcement to create a paternity plan. So I’m not sure how you come to the assumption that the LW’s does.

          They have a plan in place to cover a birthing mother’s full or close-to-full salary for a short moment of physical healing. That’s very far from a reasonable 6, 9, 12 or 15 month maternity or parental leave. The company could very well create a parental leave, to be taken by either parent, independent and in addition of the bit set aside for the medical needs of a healing body.

      4. Accountant*

        Assuming the company pays the short term disability premium, I don’t think there’s any reason they couldn’t create their own parental leave policy and fund it with short term disability when that is applicable. Provided all parents are being offered equal leave terms.

    3. TPS reporter*

      Benefit of the doubt that they are giving paternity equal time so the non birthing parent can help out their partner during the birth parent’s short term disability and FMLA.

      1. tamarack and fireweed*

        Benefit? That would be quite unacceptable in my mind, given the measly 8 weeks (or less) that the birthing parent is already afforded.

        We are supposed to give benefit of the doubt to the LW BTW.

        1. Disco Janet*

          The “BTW” seems pretty unnecessary since even Alison suggests that the LW may have misunderstood, since what they’re reporting is so unusual.

          1. tamarack and fireweed*

            There are multiple other people who report similar provisions, and the LW has since returned and confirms that they reported correctly.

            Also, Alison suggesting that the LW may have misunderstood doesn’t release the commenters from the rule to comment assuming that the LWs report their situation in good faith.

    4. Binky*

      I’m stuck on the fact that if they’re giving men paid parental leave, but relying solely on STD for women, they’re going to leave out non-birthing mothers.

      Hopefully this is just a miscommunication issue.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        YES. Using short term disability as the maternity leave policy is inadequate because not all mothers birth their child. Hopefully this is going to be a comprehensive *parental* leave policy and someone had a massive typo in the communication.

    5. Cj*

      But what about a lesbian couple that has a child? The birth parent would get the 8 weeks of short term disability, but their female partner would get nothing? If they’re calling it paternaty leave, it would seem that way.

    6. #1 OP*

      Everyone is eligible for FMLA leave after the birth of a child. If they have a qualifying medical event, they are also eligible for Short term disability. This company does not have a maternity leave policy. Enacting a “paternity” leave policy (whether paid or not) without an equivalent maternity leave or parental leave policy is horribly unequal. It’s a whole bucket of leave time that (at least as communicated so far) men are entitled to that women are not.

      1. Silence Will Fall*

        Is it maybe a vocabulary error? Confusing paternal leave (if there’s a baby, you get leave) with paternity leave (fathers only)?

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          I was confused, but now I think maybe you meant “parental” and not “paternal”? (And maybe that’s exactly the same mistake in play with LW’s employer.)

          1. Silence Will Fall*


            I even double checked to make sure I used the right word and my brain just auto-corrected the wrong one.

      2. Ann O'Nemity*

        Does your short term disability plan include paternal leave? My current company’s policy only covers mothers who gave birth. (Prudential, btw.)

        1. Accountant*

          I don’t think any short term disability policy covers a parent who didn’t give birth. By definition they only cover medical/physical events that leave someone unable to work, they don’t include bonding leave (hence 8weeks for a c-section and 6 weeks for vaginal birth).

          1. IT Guy*

            My company’s short term disability covers 16 weeks for birthing mother, father, and if adopting.

      3. commonsensesometimesmakessense*

        Yeah, if the men get to get 8 weeks fully paid without using up any of their short term disability benefits, but the women are only getting the 8 weeks paid by using the disability benefit, that is not legal or acceptable.

  7. Seal*

    #5 – This isn’t a new trend; the same thing happened to me 15 years ago when I was fresh out of library school. I applied for a librarian position in April, didn’t hear back from the university, and kept applying elsewhere. A few months later, I saw an announcement on a listserv that the job I had applied for had been filled (this job was in a particular niche of librarianship, so it was not uncommon for new hires to be announced on national listserv). In December – a full 8 MONTHS after I had applied for the first job and 4 months after the person they hired started work – I finally received a rejection letter. Still rolling my eyes at that one!

    1. Sherm*

      It happened to me in the late 90s. I got a rejection phone call from a guy I never met, months after I had interviewed. I normally aim to be very diplomatic, but I was so confused I just said “Uh…that was months ago.”

    2. Wordnerd*

      I applied for a job as a writing tutor at a community college in 2015, right after I finished grad school and was looking for tutoring gigs to supplement adjuncting.
      Then in 2016, I got a full-time job as a writing center coordinator, supervising writing tutors.
      Then in 2017, I got a rejection from the position from 2015, letting me know I wasn’t qualified to be a writing tutor.

    3. Shhh*

      I’ve gotten rejections from library jobs a full year or more after applying. Now that I’ve been on a few search committees, I see how it happens. At least my institution, we start the process intending to have it take 3 months or so depending on the academic calendar, but then it’s hard to get meetings on everyone’s calendars and maybe someone gets sick and a bunch of rescheduling has to take place and maybe the pool’s not as strong as we hoped and maybe candidates we really like dropped out and it’s back to the drawing bored and then an administrator retires or takes a new job so now things are slowed down while we figure that out and then wham there’s a hiring freeze and now a year’s gone by and we made an offer and it was accepted and now we can send out rejections because we don’t reject anyone until that offer is signed.

      I was on a search committee from this past November – February. We sped through the process and the offer was signed at the end of February. Another job that got posted at the same time just announced their hire, which means they just did rejections…three months after us. I’ve only ever worked in academic libraries so I can’t speak for other industries, but I’m guessing at least some of the challenges are similar. And I wish we could let more people who we know we’re not going to hire know earlier on, but unfortunately our policy is to send out rejections at the end of the process.

      1. Hanani*

        I’m also in academia, and I’ve also had rejections over a year later. I also had one memorable experience of getting a “we’d like to schedule you for a first-round interview” email TWO YEARS after I applied. It was not a mistake, I asked.

      2. Cascadia*

        Yup – I work in a k-12 private school and hiring can totally take that long! We’ve had a position open since January that we are just now offering a job to in June for lots of different reasons. It’s not ideal for us, but also not unheard of. They generally don’t send rejection letters until the job offer has been signed and accepted by a new person, so there are definitely people who applied for the job in January and have heard nothing. I don’t agree with this way of doing things, but it’s not unheard of. A fast hiring process in schools is generally 2-3 months, so a slow process would be much longer.

        1. Lydia*

          Way back in the way back times, I had a summer job working for a federal department that was prepping to be audited. The department was in charge of all civilian hirings on a naval base and one of the requirements was a complete file on each applicant that included a rejection letter. My job, until I got so bored I stopped doing it and the auditors came, was to write rejection letters for each unhired applicant and insert them into the file. Mountains of files. So. Many. Boxes. What I’m saying is at one point in the late ’80s/early ’90s there were a lot of people who applied for federal positions who never heard back ever, but had letters in files that said they did.

    4. Little beans*

      I’ll be honest, 6 months is not even that long at my organization. It is typical not to close a recruitment until the new hire has accepted the position and signed paperwork, and it is not unusual for that to take six months. A fast recruitment would be 2-3 months but many people are not fast. I’ve seen recruitment take up to a year.

      1. Cthulhu’s Librarian*

        Out of curiosity, is your organization open about how long the process takes with applicants? What about having the new person train with who they are replacing x does that ever happen with that long of a timeline? I find these sorts of long timelines fascinating.

    5. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Mr. Gumption got a job offer from a certain 3 letter acronym a full 3 years after finishing the entire application process, including background checks. He had been in his new job for 1.5 years with another agency that only took half the time (but still 1.5 years)

    6. Bongofury*

      I applied for a job at my company. It was even a step down pay wise but it would have been moving into a more interesting position and I was bored. I interviewed and heard nothing. A month later I saw an announcement that they hired someone else internally. It was a slap in the face that I wasn’t important enough to send a quick “you didn’t get it” when I work with that interviewing manager almost daily, but I let it go.
      18 months later they had another position open, and out of nowhere that manager emails me and says “Oh hey, I forgot to tell you I didn’t hire you for that job. You can apply for the open job now but I wouldn’t bother, the decision would be the same. Let me know if you want to apply again.”
      Yeah, I think I’ll pass working for that guy.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Good call – I think I worked for That Guy and he’s the primary reason I left for a better job.

        I once got rejected from a summer internship within a reasonable timeframe, and then rejected again the following summer despite not applying a second time. I guess they really did keep applicant info on file.

    7. Me!*

      Yeah, this has happened to me in every one of my job searches. Not often; most of the time, I just get ghosted. But it does happen.

      Funny enough, after I started at Exjob, I received two phone calls from employers I’d applied to months before, who now wanted to talk to me. The work equivalent of having people want to date you after you find a partner, I guess.

    8. Dragon_Dreamer*

      I just got rejected for grad school. I applied in December. Last year I was rejected in mid-July.

    9. tamarack and fireweed*

      Yeah, I was smiling because for staff positions in academia – especially fully budgeted positions, not temporary hires out of external grant funds – it’s actually pretty common. Not ideal, not pleasant, but a reflection of a hiring setup that has too many constraints, too few people, or is otherwise overcomplicated.

      What can also happen is that you hear back 6 months after you interviewed with a job offer… Happened to me.

  8. Beth*

    LW3, it sounds like this stings extra hard because conditions are pretty bad at your work right now. You’re working late, you’re working holidays, you’re working late on your birthday? And then they forget to acknowledge your birthday, even though someone else’s celebratory decor is still around, so clearly some people’s birthdays are seen as worth celebrating? Of course you feel underappreciated.

    I think it’s a good idea to suggest returning to a more systemic birthday policy. Alison is right that it’s probably oversight rather than an intentional snub, and it’s not at all weird or vulnerable to point out that the current system isn’t working (especially if you use the phrasing about not wanting to miss others’). But I also think maybe it’s time to push back on your work hours somewhat. I’m not saying never work late–you say you get flexibility in exchange, and that’s legit–but the fact that you thought it was worth mentioning here, in a list of things that make you feel unappreciated, suggests to me that it’s getting burdensome and needs to rebalance.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree. I can’t tell from the letter, but OP did you push back on working on your birthday at all? It’s likely they didn’t realize it was your birthday if you didn’t say anything so what would have happened if you’d said “I need to leave at 5:30 because I have dinner plans for my birthday, can I finish this up tomorrow?” or something like that.

    2. Kella*

      I thought the same thing about the bit about working late on their birthday. It wasn’t clear to me if getting your birthday off or something similar has ever been a thing employees have been granted, or if that’s something you’d have to request off specifically. Typically, just working late on your birthday isn’t enough to cause this kind of resentment, which I think points to a much larger problem of work not being fairly compensated and/or acknowledged. This may be an instance of, “The missed birthday isn’t the problem, it’s the symptom.”

  9. MK*

    #1, the only sane explanation I can think of is that by paternity leave they mean something that in my country is called birth leave: fathers (and I would hope all non-birthing parents) get a few days after the birth to handle the paperwork and legalities of a new human and help out the mother (get her home from the hospital, do lat minutes shopping etc).

    1. Kate*

      Yes, I work in international benefits and this would be my guess – where maternity provision is treated as primarily a short term disability issue (ie leave to physically recover from childbirth), it’s not uncommon to give the type of couple of days’ leave around the birth, as you describe, to fathers (either as a statutory requirement or something large employers typically offer).

      I agree with OP that it’s not an impressive look for a Fortune 500 company to be bragging about adding this if thats what this is and they’re continuing to offer the US bare minimum ‘maternity leave’ (ie FMLA plus STD), but then the US is famously awful on in this area. Paternity leave is law in some less wealthy countries, and countries like Spain are superseding it with proper equal parental leave.

    2. PPD Yay*

      My company does the same thing. I reached out to HR about the disconnect between our otherwise excellent benefits (10% 401k match, good insurance, etc) and then just no maternity leave at all. They wrote back “what do you mean no maternity leave? We have 12 weeks of FMLA?” I was like !^&*@%#^&!!&5`1, That would be like calling the company’s social security contributions our retirement benefits. It’s the federally mandated MINIMUM required. I get really fired up that some dude can break his arm, get 4 months of leave where he’s just hanging out, in some minor inconvenience due to a cast, but otherwise totally fine to relax and heal, and that gets FULLY COVERED by short term disability, but I have a baby, am nursing, not sleeping, get mastitis (like a literal dairy beast), hormonal impacts ranging from intense to full on post-partum depression, and it’s SIX WEEKS. What on earth am I supposed to do with a 6 week old tiny dumpling that is not yet fully vaccinated while I’m away 40 hours a week? I personally had a stay at home spouse, but for the company to be so dense about the fact that STD does NOT COVER all of the needs for a true maternity leave…grrrr. Also, my company enacted a 2 week parental leave like it was some sort of leader in progressive benefits. Two weeks is somewhat nice for a non-birthing parent. It’s…. a drop in the bucket of what a birthing mom needs.

      1. JustaTech*

        My company offers 6 weeks paid maternity leave (doesn’t even discuss FMLA, or the fact that my state says it’s 12 weeks paid, 16 weeks total), and 2 weeks “parental” leave for non-birthing parents, including adoptive parents. As though that’s enough time to bind with a new child!

        But that’s more than what is required for one of the states we have a site in, so it’s a “good” leave policy.

      2. Münchner Kindl*

        New ILO agreement Nr. 183 is for 14 (fourteen) weeks of maternity leave (

        Of course USA has not ratified that agreement.

        EU also has general minimum of 14 weeks, raised to 18 weeks, then to 20 weeks.

        Maternity protection in EU starts at six weeks before (calculated) birth date, then 8 weeks after actual birth.

        Parental leave is seperate and can be split between parents, or both taking a leave for the first 6 months (because of the stress of nursing and not enough sleep) then one parent goes back to work full-time, or both do part-time. Paid parent money is for 14 months (from birth of the child) in my country.

    3. WS*

      Yeah, even in my country which only recently adopted paid maternity leave, there’s partner leave as well. Not restricted by gender.

  10. Yellow*

    LW3 did you tell people? Not some years ago on a list that’s fallen out of disuse, but in the lead up to your birthday did you tell people it was coming up?

    If you want colleagues to organise something for your birthday you need to give them a heads up in advance. This is especially true if you aren’t particularly close to anyone who would know to organise it.

    Having to work on your birthday sucks, but also did you say anything? You can’t expect your boss to just remember that it’s your birthday. You need to say – sorry I really can’t do tonight heading out with my family to celebrate my birthday!

    Monthly general celebrations are great. Definitely try to bring those back (as optional), but don’t be too upset that nobody remembered your birthday. It’s often the case that others get remembered because they remember to tell people.

    1. Allonge*

      I was also thinking that a ‘I know there’s a list of birthdays somewhere’ is not a foolproof solution. I don’t mean to be dismissive of OP3, this sucks in general, but I am also in a situation where the culture used to be that birthday person would bring a cake or whatever in on their b-day, so everyone was ‘responsible’ for their own celebration or not. Then COVID came, we were all sent home and the first year we did flower deliveries for birthdays as a teambuilding measure. Second year, that stopped. Now our team admin, who did have the birthday list, retired, and we have quite a few new people who are not that keen on even sharing their birthday dates (but also never saw the stage where people brought cake in for themselves).

      This does not make it ok that OP3 was ignored when others are celebrated! I just wanted to illustrate that there are very natural ways that ‘a list of birthdays somewhere’ does not work after three years. OP, go ahead and talk to your manager, if they have any sense at all they will pick this up as soon as possible.

    2. Sean*

      I was thinking this too. The birthday list “used to be used to plan monthly celebrations”, so it has clearly fallen into disuse in more recent times.

      Is it possible that, in light of the list having gone AWOL, last week’s birthday person simply publicised their birthday in the week leading up to the big day to ensure there would be a celebration. Maybe they mentioned it to one or two close colleagues, who then arranged for balloons, cards etc?

      LW3, did you do the same, only for your day to be knowingly snubbed? Or is it only now, after the event, that you’re making them aware?

      The former is one thing; but if it’s the latter then it seems like an unintentional oversight where no malice is intended.

      Moral of the story is to speak up ahead of time rather than stay quiet until after the fact. Especially if you know that the list is/was ‘somewhere’ and is hidden in the mess left when the pandemic turned normal office life on its head.

    3. Kella*

      I think what OP 3 is reflecting is that prior to the pandemic, you didn’t *have* to tell anyone that your birthday was coming up, it was on the schedule to be celebrated by default. And now it’s not clear how anyone gets their birthday celebrated. It’s entirely possible that other people had their birthday celebrated because they were vocal about it, but if that’s the case, that needs to be the standard communicated across the board: If you want a birthday celebration, notify [person] with [x] amount of notice. If OP wasn’t aware that the folks whose birthdays were celebrated had to ask for it, and nobody had to ask for it in the past, it makes perfect sense that OP would default to not asking.

  11. Lucida*

    The birthday one reminded me of some drama I accidentally caused with my birthday this year that makes me chuckle at the politics of office birthdays. Back story is that I dislike the spotlight, am the only April birthday in our office (late April at that) and last year the social committee launched office eCard birthday celebrations on mine without having told the office (or me) of the new birthday initiative. With most of us back in the office, eCards have been replaced by an in-office birthday board and cupcakes for anyone in attendance.
    So with April approaching I asked my friend/social committee member if it would be alright for them to celebrate me with the May birthdays to make it easier for them to organize while reducing the spotlight on me, specifically. Well, apparently this caused an uproar with the social committee who felt “confused” about what I wanted/how to handle it. I reiterated that I was happy to be celebrated with my colleagues with May birthdays. My birthday came and went without a repeat of the major office fanfare of last year (a few personal notes only) and I thought all was sorted. Well, then, a week after my actual birthday, the May birthdays were celebrated but mine was left out altogether. Color me confused! It seems the social committee interpreted my wish to not be spotlighted as not wanting to be celebrated at all and simply left me out of the whole ordeal.
    I just laugh now but wow. I never knew office birthdays could be so fraught!

    1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I think the social committee at your office was as confused as I am by your request.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        What is so confusing about “I’m the only April birthday so if you want to lump me in with the May folks that’s cool”?

      2. Just Your Everyday Crone*

        I read this as meaning “not confused at all, but claiming to be confused because they didn’t like it.” People very often complain about “process” when they don’t like the outcome, no matter how much process there is.

        1. Sal*

          This is basically how “substantive due process” got started. (And I say that as an enormous fan of substantive due process. :) )

    2. Myrin*

      I continuously have to scratch my head about some people’s… well, comprehension of things in general. Your request – which it was! It wasn’t even a demand or anything! You asked if it would be okay and they could’ve said no! – seems reasonable and practical to me and as a committee member, I would really and especially appreciate the thought that this would be one less thing for us to organise.

      1. Delta Delta*

        People use “I’m confused” to mask saying “you’re bucking the trend and I don’t like it so I’m going to say I can’t comprehend it.”

    3. BookishMiss*

      Hahaha this reminds me of when I started at my current job and had to literally argue with people about how I Do Not Want My Birthday Acknowledged. I’ve had to do that a few times since, including standing up in a meeting about how the leadership want to send everyone Extra Special Birthday Goodies to explain that not everyone celebrates their birthday, and that there are a variety of reasons, so either don’t do it at all or find a way to make it equitable. Talk about confused. I wish I’d brought popcorn.

      My current boss is great about it. She just told me to pick a day to be BookishMiss Day, she’ll drop a cookie on my desk, and leave it at that.

      1. anonymous73*

        When I got married, I gathered my co-worker friends in a circle and made them swear that they would not allow a work shower to be thrown for me. I told them if it happened, I would turn around and walk out of the room. I do NOT like to be the center of attention, my friends were coming to the wedding and (outside of work) shower and I didn’t need a separate celebration with people at work. Thankfully they had my back and no work shower was thrown.

        1. Tehanu*

          I learned my lesson in my first year of work – kept asking why a colleague didn’t want her birthday acknowledged (it’s fun, c’mon, why not, etc. etc.). She was supremely patient with eager young me, until she finally said “I don’t want a celebration of the day my mom died”. (her mother passed away when my coworker was an adult, but on her birthday). I was mortified I pushed her into that. Sometimes people have reasons and they do not owe me an explanation.

        2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Two of my coworkers asked us to swear an oath that we do nothing for their pregnancies because both were dealing with intrusive and overbearing family and in-laws and work was their escape hatch from baby related stuff. We complied with gusto

      2. bishbah*

        My large, corporate HR system won’t share your birthday information with anyone without your explicit opt-in, at which point your name gets included in an email that may or may not go out to everyone within the month in which it occurs. I had a coworker who was Jehovah’s Witness, and while she gladly helped with room setup when we used to put out cake and cookies and whatnot (pre-COVID), she would then completely disappear. And her name was certainly not on any of the lists.

    4. High Score!*

      Birthday parties are personal and mostly for children and we are trying to incorporate them into the office culture, of course there’s going to be a lot of drama.

      1. HoHumDrum*

        Birthday parties are personal and for anyone who wants them. If you’ve made it through another year of life and want to recognize that it’s always valid.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I think you’re assuming the reason was “to celebrate Lucida” when it was “to provide a reason to order cupcakes in April.”

      Few things on this site have been pounded into me more thoroughly than that you DO NOT mess with the office’s expectations of free simple carbohydrates. People who could easily buy themselves several bagels a day will die on the molehill of Third Tuesday Of The Month Bagel Array.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        I agree. We used to have a monthly “cake day” and there would basically just be like a powerpoint slide with a list of who had birthdays that month while we all at cake. A request like that would just get rid of one of the monthly cake days I guess (which are also used to do things like welcome new hires or make announcements on a big team) and then they would probably just use the same powerpoint slide from the previous year if there hadn’t been any changes and no one would remember to add the skipped birthday to it.

        I’m sure it felt like asking for them to do less organizing, but changing a process like that is really asking for *more* organizing and I’m not surprised it fell through the cracks.

        1. tamarack and fireweed*

          I think monthly cake days are fine and would be a fine solution. We have semi-regular bring-your-own brunches, snack breaks (snacks provided) and ice cream socials, and if they were taken as the opportunity to announce and give a shout-out to recent birthdays (plus for example other achievements) that would be super-ok (with consent of the birthday person). If there is no birthday person, there’s at least still cake.

  12. Mary*

    #1 Our company brought out very progressive paid leave policy for miscarriage and fertility treatment (for both partners) last year. We are in Europe. It was a great move, very well received. But for me it shone a light on our crappy family death policy. The only difference was one was written 50 years ago and never updated, and the other was written in 2021. HR were like oh yeah you are right, but did nothing because they get great kudos for new policies but just eye rolling for finally updating out of date & out of touch policies.

    I am guessing your company is the same. Someone has been tasked with creating a new paternity leave policy but never even thought about the maternity leave. Because one is new and shiny and they will get great for it and they never reflect if it throws a light on an older policy.

    1. anonymous73*

      But there isn’t a maternity leave policy…that’s the problem. And no, FMLA and STD don’t count as they’re available to EVERYONE.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      There may also be some reverse sexism at work. Like a guy working at OP’s place had a baby and his wife, working elsewhere, got generous maternity leave on full pay, and the guy thought, this isn’t fair and immediately demanded paternity leave at work, and the guy in HR who had to deal with it didn’t realise that there wasn’t a maternity leave policy for women because who ever thinks about women?

      1. Yorick*

        This isn’t reverse sexism. This is just regular old sexism. Men have always been more celebrated for having kids than women, the ones who actually give birth.

        1. Jessica Fletcher*

          Right, reverse sexism, like reverse racism, is not real. And that’s not the term they’re looking for anyway.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            Yeah you’re right, I wasn’t being clear there. I meant “a feeling of reverse sexism at play”, meaning the guy in question *felt* that there was some reverse sexism in that he didn’t have paternity leave. Of course what actually goes down is absolute blatant sexism. Because of course reverse sexism is just sexism, I agree totally with you!

  13. Asenath*

    I don’t bother celebrating my birthday (although in my last job I did agree to participate in the low-key birthdays), but if a workplace is going to acknowledge birthdays at all, they need to do it for everyone who doesn’t specifically opt out. This might be just a glitch in the changing arrangements involved in moving back to the office, but even so it should be mentioned. OP is probably not the only one left off whatever the current birthday list is.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I wonder if there’s some broad “Candidates told us how much they hate being ghosted” realization, and so someone is going through and sending the emails to every applicant they ghosted in the last year. Trying to quash “ACME corp will ghost you” on job discussion boards.

    2. Petty Betty*

      I got an email last week rejecting me for a job I applied to 17 months ago. I guess they *finally* filled the position, because I know that it hadn’t been filled a month ago (a friend who works in the office and recommended me had mentioned it in passing). They were being extremely picky, because I was qualified for two different positions and interviewed for both, and have only received one rejection letter (finally) so far.

    1. Scout Finch*

      Maternity leave is NOT required in the US. If the employer is required to adhere to FMLA, 12 weeks of UNPAID maternity leave is the benefit.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        If the employer is required to provide FMLA, and if the employee is personally eligible, and if the employee hasn’t already needed to use their FMLA for something like a complicated pregnancy. Also, if the parents work for the same employer, they only get 12 weeks combined, instead of 12 weeks each. And it’s perfectly legal to require the employee to use up all their PTO as part of the FMLA period, leaving them with no sick leave for after they come back to work.

        1. Scout Finch*

          Thank you for expanding & clarifying. I was so dumbfounded, I just wanted to get the main point across.

          You did a much better job of explaining the intricacies.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Assuming the company meets the 50-employee within 75 miles threshold to require FMLA.

    2. T horton*

      When you say that companies must legally provide maternity leave, what law are referring to? Is it FMLA?

      1. T horton*

        Because if you are, then you are misinformed. FMLA is the Family and Leave Act. It requires companies of 50 or more employees to provide up to 12 weeks unpaid that covers circumstances such as brith/adoption of a child, bereavement, caring for a sick family member, etc. LW1 stated that their company offers this and nothing else. Now they are discussing a new policy that is being described as Paternity leave, leave specifically for fathers to take for a new child. If the new is indeed only for fathers, and no extra leave is being offered to mothers, then LW1 isn’t overreacting. The policy would be illegal as it would be gender discrimination.
        Like Alison said, more than likely, it is a miscommunication on what the new policy is.

        1. Perfectly Particular*

          Can someone expand on the (il)legality of different leave amounts for men and women? Our company, also Fortune 500, has parental leave for all new dads and adoptive moms, and more than double that amount of leave for birth moms. Is this also an issue?

          1. I should really pick a name*

            Not sure how it’s handled in the US, but in Canada, maternity leave and parental leave are two distinct types of leave.

            Maternity leave is for someone who is missing work because they’re pregnant or recently gave birth.
            Parental leave is for the parents of a newborn or newly adopted child and can be shared between the parents however they decide.

          2. Nelliebelle1197*

            Because birth moms just spent nine months growing an actual person and that is a little more intense physically intense than adopting or being a father. In no universe should birth mothers lose that time for the sake of equity with non- birth parents.

            1. Amy*

              Agreed. Bonding was important during my maternity leave but so was having time for my 3rd degree tear to heal.

          3. PostalMixup*

            At my company, the birthing parent gets 8 weeks short term disability to recover from childbirth. That is the case whether the employee delivers their own child, or chooses to place that child for adoption. It’s not intended as “bonding,” but as a medical leave. Parents of any gender get five weeks of parental leave for bonding and caregiving. In effect, mothers get 13 weeks, and fathers get 5 weeks.

            1. Charlotte*

              Yes this. There’s a difference between the medical leave for giving birth and the parental leave for bonding. The parental leave for bonding needs to be equal for any gender parent.

    3. Maggie*

      Please link the law requiring companies to give maternity leave then. Maternity leave is absolutely not legally required in the US. Unpaid FMLA protects your job at companies with more than 50 employees and if you’ve worked there more than a year. But companies in the US are not required to give a single day of maternity leave, paid or not, if the person doesn’t qualify for FMLA (and if the state does not have a law stricter than the standard that requires it. For example there is no guaranteed paid sick leave in the USA but Illinois requires 5 days so they have a law stricter than the standard.)

      1. Banana*

        In the US, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act also requires them to offer the same accommodation for pregnancy related leave that they would for any other kind of medical need. So if Janice and Roger don’t meet the requirements for FMLA but Roger gets time off to recover from a car accident, Janice has to be accommodated similarly for her maternity leave. And the Pregnancy Discrimination Act applies to companies that employ at least 15 people, with no distance limitation or time of service limiters, so it covers a lot of gaps FMLA doesn’t.

    4. TransmascJourno*

      That’s clearly not what’s happening here. From the letter:

      “The company is big enough that we’re covered by FMLA and short-term disability will pay 100% of salary for 6-8 weeks after birth. The company touts their ‘maternity’ leave policy on sustainability reports, etc. but there is no actual policy other than federally mandated FMLA that men are also eligible for.”

      Aside from that, neither one or the other—or a conflagration of both — is in any way an actual maternity/parental policy leave. To more or less overtly claim that the OP is uninformed is not only egregiously inaccurate, but wholly unkind.

    5. justkiddingnot*

      I feel like someone just mixed up or used the wrong word and said paternity leave when they meant paternal leave.

      1. Cassandra Mortmain*

        I agree about the likelihood of a word mix-up. There’s a much greater chance that it’s labeled wrong than there is an actual policy giving more leave to new fathers than new mothers. This is a high level of outrage for something that they don’t know any details about yet – and it seems to me that they could easily ask for clarification from someone at work before bringing it to the internet.

      2. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

        I am guessing this is it. My current company and my new one both have parental leave as it’s gender neutral term. I can see how paternal and parental could get mixed up, but they have different meanings. OP 1 should definitely clarify.

      3. Antilles*

        That was my immediate thought too.
        And if OP wants to ask for clarification, that’d probably be the smart way to initially approach it. Don’t go in with outrage and or anger, but instead treat it like it’s a totally innocent and honest mistake, “wait, you mean parental leave for either gender, right?”.
        IF it turns out that actually do mean fathers-only, then you start pushing hard to fix it, but it’s likely that it’s a simple poor-choice of words.

    6. anonymous73*

      FMLA is NOT maternity leave. And in my 25+ years of working professionally, I have never worked for a company that has had a maternity leave policy because it is not a legal obligation to provide one. So no, the OP is not overreacting. I’m hoping it’s just a matter of poor communication on the company’s part, because to not have a maternity leave policy and create one for paternity leave is another level of bullshit that I have yet to witness. And I say this as a woman who has never and will never have the need to use maternity leave in my lifetime.

    7. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      The entire advice is to get more information, so I don’t know what other “pushback” you want. I don’t know how google is going to give LW information that is not available.

  14. Blarg*

    I started my current job in June 2020. Has been applying to a bunch of fed jobs up til then.

    Got my most recent rejection about two weeks ago — 23 months after applying.

    1. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Oh, yes. Fed jobs are renowned for sending rejections a really long time after the application (or, for that matter, sending “are you still interested in the job?” queries months later). But 23 months is the longest I’ve ever heard of! I wonder if the HR department got a new person who decided to clear a queue all at once.

      1. AdequateArchaeologist*

        I think my friend was listed as “under consideration” for like 3 years for a seasonal position with the Bureau of Land Management. When they finally changed her status to “rejected” or whatever language they use, she was like “yeah, no shit”.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Mr. Gumption got an acceptance 3 years after finishing the application and interview process. All the jobs he applied to needed a security clearance so took a long time for all of them, but 3 years was impressive.

      2. Me!*

        I gave up on federal jobs. The only one I ever got a timely response on was an editor job for FEMA in 2018 or so (yeah, I know). It was not posted through USAJOBS and was only a two-year stint; I wanted it because it would have given me experience I could take elsewhere. In hindsight, it’s probably good that I didn’t get it.

        Now I wouldn’t want a short term limit on a job or to have it subject to election vagaries.

      3. Hamburke*

        My husband got a formal rejection 18 months after he interviewed (which was 4 months after he applied) for a fed job. He’d gotten a new job, had been there nearly a year and had pulled his candidacy once he settled in. He’d been working for the state before that so not new to the slower pace of government, but this was molasses slow.

  15. Other Alice*

    #3 brings back memories. The first year after graduation, my birthday happened to coincide with the last day at my internship. I brought cake. As I was cutting the cake, my manager called me into a meeting and let me know they would not be extending an offer. In hindsight it was a bullet dodged but at the time I was extra gutted that it had happened on my birthday of all days. I guess that’s why I’m not big on celebrating my birthday at work and prefer to take my birthday off if I can.

    It is crappy that they’re celebrating only the birthdays they remember. I think it’s worth to go back to the old birthday list, or even better make a new one so people who’d rather not have a celebration can opt out.

  16. UKgreen*

    I was horrified to learn last week that a colleague had just sent out rejections for a job she was recruiting to in early April. But SIX MONTHS… ugh!

    1. Alianora*

      Why would you be horrified by that? That’s not an unusual timeline.

      Even six months isn’t that weird. I don’t understand why people get so worked up about these things.

      1. mlem*

        Seriously. A year or two for a non-federal, non-clearance job might be a bit eyebrow-raising, but a matter of months? Hiring is slow! A response is better than none!

      2. roxie*

        I agree.
        Hiring is a bear. Working through 100+ applicants, multi-round interviews, having to deal with scheduling the internal hiring committee ands the candidate at a time when every week someone is out for covid or some other reason. All on top of our actual jobs. And yet managers can’t win unless we operate on a very specific and unspoken timeline that the candidate wants? Give m a break. You’d be mad if ghosted but also being told no isn’t good either? Get over yourself.

      3. Beany*

        If I thought I had no hope of getting the job, then it doesn’t really matter when I receive an official PFO. But if I think I might be in the running, you’re keeping me hanging. Unnecessary wait without information == stress and uncertainty.

  17. NYWeasel*

    OP3: You’re getting a lot of responses regarding the birthday omission, so I thought I’d respond to the other part of your letter. From what you’ve written, part of what stung so much this year is how much “extra” you’re giving at the office right now.

    First, the hard truth is that no one will ever understand the exact stress/pain working late causes you better than you. I consider myself a compassionate manager and I don’t want my staff working extra hours, but when they do, I have no way to understand whether they did it because they wanted to or because they felt obligated to. And my manager has less understanding than me, and my grand boss even less than her. So this is a point where it serves you best to learn how to manage upwards.

    Now, a once in a blue moon late night or two isn’t a big deal. Getting ready for a yearly event or putting forward a brand new proposal to the boss may require a little extra oomph to pull it together. But the way you describe your work makes it sound like there’s too much work for you to handle in your standard hours so you feel obligated to work late to tackle it.

    Well, I’m here from the future to explain why this is a terrible pattern to establish. Too much work indicates a managerial issue, which can be anything from being unwilling to push back on stakeholders to not supervising your team well enough (ie if the problem is you mishandling your workload then a good manager should dig into it with you to identify that). When you take on the solution at your level, you aren’t curing the root cause, so guess what! The problem won’t go away—it usually gets worse until you want to quit.

    So here’s my suggestions on how to deal with the high workload:
    *Give yourself a reality check: Are you handling a higher or lower load than your coworkers? Are you goofing off and having to make up time or are you frantic every day trying to get everything done.
    *Use the same reality check on your boss: Is she open to helping you with crunches or is she someone who throws work over the wall and just tells you to “Get it done!”?
    *Assuming you’re at max capacity based on step 1, your goal is to achieve a do-able prioritization. Depending on step 2, your boss may be open to it or may be framing it as a “you” problem even when it isn’t. Here’s the thing—working longer hours will NEVER solve the root cause and will never give upper management visibility to the need to either say no to some projects or hire more staff to handle it. If your boss is open to working with you, it becomes a simple discussion of “If I focus on the TeaCo work, I won’t have time for the Llamas Inc tasks. How do you want to handle this?” If you can suggest solutions that’s good too—“I think we could hold off on the Llamas Inc deliverables until next week when Jane can help me, if you’re ok with letting it sit a little longer.”

    If your boss is the type to give you grief, then you need to make it more firm. “I will not be able to work on both projects this week.” and if your boss tries to demand that you put in extra hours to handle it, firmly state that you’ve already fully taken into account what you’re able to deliver, and this is it.* A slightly reasonable boss may see the logic of “If we don’t make it clear to our grand boss that we’re understaffed, we’ll never dig out of this hole.” It’s unsustainable to constantly give up your personal time for a job that feels entitled to your every waking hour, so if establishing these boundaries feels scary, keep in mind that you’ll burn out sooner or later so you might as well establish some healthy habits before that happens.

    *I realize that in some fields (accounting, medicine, etc) there’s a cultural expectation that you give unhealthy amounts of time to your job. I’m assuming this isn’t the case here, because I feel you would have shared that context. The field I come from also had an expectation in the day that we would work 100 hour weeks for our salary, and 30 years later I see no benefits to having put up with it…but I’m still dealing with the physical impacts of prioritizing work to such an unhealthy degree. So I personally would recommend setting these boundaries in those fields too…but I acknowledge that it may be a mandatory hazing that needs to be endured if you want to stay in that field. I would hope though that anyone going into those fields understands the sacrifices up front and chooses them willingly.

    1. BookishMiss*

      I love everything about this comment, and am grateful to you for making it. LW and everyone else, please please please do this review for yourselves.

      I had to have this conversation with myself and my (previous) manager recently because of my workload and hours, which… well. I ended up moving into a new position shortly thereafter, but the thought exercise was extremely valuable when having transition conversations with my new manager.

      I’ve also committed to going through this yearly, even if it ends up only being a thought exercise and doesn’t lead to an actual conversation. It’ll help me keep my head on straight.

    2. anonymous73*

      I love everything about this. A few jobs ago I was pushed into an App Support position for a new application we had launched, and it was just myself and 1 help desk analyst tackling all the tickets. We had a constant flow of tickets and were drowning. I would work an extra 3-4 hours each night and more on the weekends (from home but still) – nobody asked me to do this, but I felt like if I didn’t get rid of a bunch of tickets after hours we would never dig out of the hole. It got to the point that some of the managers were trying to push a change through that was about to make my job harder and one day I finally lost it. My manager had no idea how many hours I was working because I never told her. Shortly after that she hired 3 contractors to help us with the ticket queue. Even if your manager is checking in on you regularly, they won’t necessarily know how you’re doing unless you tell them.

      1. QuickerBooks*

        Even if your manager is checking in on you regularly, they won’t necessarily know how you’re doing unless you tell them.

        I want to hire airplanes and skywrite this around the world!

        As a manager, I earnestly do my best to find out how people are doing, how much work they are putting in, etc. without prying into people’s personal lives. Usually this goes fine. But occasionally an employee will not only not reveal extra work they’ve been doing, but will actively hide it. But there is no way for me know unless you tell me!

        Unfortunately a minority of these cases end in a blow-up of some sort. Employees get pushed to the brink and “can’t take it anymore”. It can be disorienting and disheartening for everyone.

    3. Susie Q*

      Also make sure you are not making yourself do more work than you need. I have a team member who consistently makes more work for herself. Part of our job is giving demonstrations of our software to customers. We have standard canned demos that we give to 90% of our customers. The remaining 10% are our VIP customers who get custom demos (this is based on the customer organization and seniority of the person in the meeting i.e. C suite versus analyst). One of our team members refuses to use canned demos even when instructed and takes time to build custom demos for every customer. Therefore she ends up working a lot and complaining a lot. Despite getting specific feedback to stop creating custom demos. It’s very frustrating for myself (her boss) and her other team members. She actually carries a smaller number of customers because of this. Which is frustrating to me and the team but I have no authority and my boss, the director, puts strong limits on what I can and can not say.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        You need to bring this to your boss in business terms i.e. she carries a smaller number of customers due to this and this has ‘X’ business impact.

          1. QuickerBooks*

            I understand how frustrating this type of situation is. I have something similar at my job. I have no restrictions on what I can and can’t say to the employee in my scenario. However, in my case the problem is that our workflow is such that I often don’t know about all the unnecessary “custom” solutions until after the fact. (And if I go in and pre-emptively decide which ones need to be custom and which don’t, then I am essentially doing their job.)

            In my case, the fact is that this employee simply likes doing the custom widgets more. I suspect it makes them feel more important(?).

            No answers for you; it’s a tough nut to crack.

    4. A Simple Narwhal*

      This is a wonderful comment. And I agree, the missed birthday is a red herring for what else is really going on – LW3 is feeling overworked and underappreciated. Relatively small slights feel infinitely larger or more important/insulting when it’s yet another thing sloshed onto the garbage bucket, so it’s important to focus more on the large items filling it up rather than the small things piled on top.

      Because even if they threw LW3 a parade, it wouldn’t fix all the nights and weekends they’re already working.

    5. Kella*

      Fully agree, especially this line: “First, the hard truth is that no one will ever understand the exact stress/pain working late causes you better than you.”

      As someone who has a long history of bending over backward for everyone else, it took me a long time to understand that just because it was obvious to *me* that I was overworked and underappreciated doesn’t mean it was obvious to everyone outside of my own head. Of course, it’s wonderful when someone notices you and reflects you accurately without you having to say anything. But it’s just not a guarantee that it’ll happen. So, if you’ve never communicated that you’re doing too much or that you need more in return, it is much more likely that no one else will be aware that you’re doing too much and/or not receiving enough in return.

      All of this is different of course if you *have* tried to communicate and encountered a lot of resistance or if your manager has made it clear that they don’t listen to this kind of thing. Usually what that means is that the problems aren’t likely to be fixed, and you need to decide if a birthday celebration would really be enough to make up for those problems indefinitely.

    6. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      I work in one of those fields that has an expectation of long thankless hours and unreasonable turn-around times. In some jobs, trying these totally logical and reasonable tactics just gets a dismissive shrug and “Figure out how to get it all done”. I try reason on my boss all the time, to no avail. I quantify the workload, I try prioritization, I say we need more staff, I say we need to set reasonable expectations given the limited staff. None of it works. I receive constant complaints about how the work isn’t getting done fast enough, yet the company will not hire more employees to do more work faster. I don’t have a magic wand. It’s a no-win situation, when you are treated like a bottomless well of labor.

  18. Lady_Lessa*

    With all of the challenges of birthday celebrations, I like what my previous employer did. Everyone brings in munchies for their own birthday, and then sends an email out (if necessary) where they are.

    1. UKgreen*

      Yeah, we do this. ‘Hi guys – there are some doughnuts in the kitchen to celebrate my birthday. Help yourself!’ And in response a flurry of ‘thanks, happy b’day’ and a few folk swinging by the desk with a mouthful of sugary treat to mumble the same! Works great, no fuss.

      1. UKDancer*

        We do this as well. Maybe it’s more of a UK thing? I’ve never worked anywhere that celebrated birthdays on a corporate level. In all my companies it’s been up to the individual to bring something in or not. Some people make a big thing with large amounts of krispy kreme doughnuts and others prefer not to do anything at all. Either approach is fine. One chap refuses to celebrate his birthday but always brings something in on a date that is significant to him for other reasons.

        Sometimes if it’s a milestone birthday a group of people might do something for a colleague but that’s unusual.

        1. londonedit*

          Yep, I agree. I’ve never worked anywhere that celebrated birthdays on a level that involved anyone apart from the person’s direct colleagues (well, apart from the company that only had 15 employees anyway). Where I currently work, pre-Covid the culture was that someone in your immediate department would send round a card to the people you work closely with, and then on your birthday/the nearest day you’d have a little get-together where people would bring their cups of tea and you’d open the card and your manager would probably have been out to M&S and got a Colin the Caterpillar cake for everyone to share with their tea. Nothing major, no big scene, just a tea break with extra chat and cake. I’ve also worked in companies where people brought their own cake/treats to share – again, with immediate colleagues or as a ‘Brought a tin of biscuits in as it’s my birthday – help yourself!’ thing. If someone doesn’t want to celebrate their birthday, it’s not a big deal. Some people will invite colleagues out for lunch (everyone pays their own way) or for after-work drinks (same deal) but not everyone will do that and no one minds either way. If it’s a milestone birthday there will probably be a collection as well as a card, but again, no pressure on anyone to chip in.

    2. Bagpuss*

      This is how it works where I am. It lets everyone decide for themselves whether they want to mark their birthday, and those who do get to choose what they bring in so can budget.

    3. Alexis Rosay*

      That’s really nice. I have also felt stung in the past by my birthday being “missed”. I love that this give control back to the person who is celebrating, rather than hoping/dreading to be celebrated.

  19. items*

    The ACA is an option. Normally it’s not a better deal than employee-provided health insurance but L4’s situation might be different

    1. Generic Name*

      I came here to say this. In my state, the exchange is incredibly well-run. It’s easy to view and compare plans without creating a login or anything. My husband gets his health insurance that is cheaper and comparable coverage to my employer-sponsored plan. I would be on the exchange myself if it were too expensive to get it through my company.

    2. mythopoeia*

      Yes! LW4 should know that they absolutely have options other than employer-provided coverage or nothing. They may still decide that an ACA plan/their state’s marketplace isn’t worth it after checking the plans out, but that option is there and they should look into it. If it’s overwhelming, there are “navigators” for each state’s insurance exchange whose job it is to help people get enrolled, and I believe they are usually free.

      As others mentioned, “loss of coverage” from your old health insurance is a qualifying event, and I *think* that applies to if you don’t renew the coverage your employer offers. The application probably will ask you about whether your employer offered coverage, but I think that affects what subsidies you are eligible for, not whether you are eligible for the insurance in the first place.

    3. Verde*

      Re. #4: Can we please just STOP tying medical coverage to employment now? It’s the absolute worst and our resulting system of inequity in coverage, wildly varied costs, and having to change your entire care team if you change employers and/or if your employer picks a new insurance company (usually cost-driven) is insane. The amount of time, mental energy, and money that both employers and employees end up spending on this is nutterpants. Imagine if companies didn’t administrate benefits, we all just had care, and creepy corporate wellness programs went away. A gal can dream.

      1. JustaTech*

        It’s such a weird hold over from the government mandated “no raises” thing during WWII, where salaries were frozen (for some reason, the class didn’t cover that part) so companies offered “perks” instead, including the reasonably-new idea of health insurance.

        And then there’s the whole “fear of Communism means no single-payer” thing on top of it.

  20. Lorax*

    #5 I can speak to this from a hiring perspective… because I just sent out several 6-month late rejections, and am currently agonizing over whether to send out others.

    In my case, two things happened: (1) While hiring for a brand new position, three other people put in their resignations. We’re a small nonprofit, and my role is one of those finance/operations/administration/HR catch-all positions, so when people leave, I’m left back-filling their positions (if the positions are revenue generating — like a grants manager or fundraiser) while simultaneously running the hiring process. I have no time. I was working until 1 am last night and am being held together with coffee and deep breathing. So A LOT has fallen by the wayside as I’m triaging. (2) In addition to handling the workload of the resigning staff themselves, the recent spate of resignations also prompted us to review our entire staffing structure, which meant reevaluating and rewriting the original position we were hiring for, as well as reevaluating and rewriting several other positions. (In spite of my current state, we *want* to be a good employer and not burn people out, which means we need to make significant changes.) From the time I got initial applications, until today, the position has morphed into something much more senior. I realize that it would have been ideal to send candidates updates about the process along the way — that *was* my intention — but, again, I’m barely stringing everything along as-is.

    Obviously the best case scenario is to just send people information in a timely manner, but when that’s not possible, or when that doesn’t happen for whatever reason, I guess I’m interested in what the second-best scenario is: would people prefer to get a 6-month late rejection that explains the whole situation? Or would people prefer not to be bothered at that point? Asking because I potentially have 30+ more emails to send!

    1. JM in England*

      I would send the rejections.

      Even though most (if not all) applicants will have probably moved on by now, for some receiving one now rather than never can help give a sense of closure.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, there will likely be someone who doesn’t like the decision either way but I think people being upset with too much communication is better than people being upset with not enough communication. At least the former people know for sure the door is really closed. Sometimes people who never hear back might be left with lingering doubts like “what if they reached out but it got caught in my spam filter” or something so at least you can provide those people with closure.

        1. JM in England*

          When I haven’t received important emails in the expected timeframe, my spam folder is the first place I check. Whilst closing on a house purchase, my email client suddenly decided (for reasons unknown) that my mortgage broker’s email address was spam!

    2. Jellyfish*

      An email that briefly acknowledges the time gap might be helpful. It doesn’t need to be detailed or personalized, but a note along the lines of “you applied for this job we posted X months ago. After an unexpectedly long search process….” and then into the form rejection.
      That would seem like less of a slap in the face. No one likes rejection, but it is a particularly weird feeling to get one after the company has obviously already moved on.

      1. Me!*

        ^^This. If it took an inordinately long time, I’d want to know; that would make me feel less like an afterthought. Plus it would tell me that the long period was unusual, which might influence my desire to apply again someday.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I’d also say send them. But maybe include a sorry this took so long, we had major changes that delayed the entire search process. We appreciate your patience.

    4. ecnaseener*

      Agreed with other commenters, I would go with a brief apology for the delay but no detailed explanation.

    5. tamarack and fireweed*

      I would send them. And add a sentence or two that shows you understand that how late they are. Mention the date that they applied on (at least Month+Year), “our hiring cycle has finally concluded”, “we appreciate your patience and apologize for the lateness of this notice”. No explanations about the constraints/workload on *your* side – that’s not something the rejected candidate needs to expend emotional energy on.

      Even if a candidate scoffs at that it’s still better than being ghosted.

    6. InsertNameHere*

      I’d prefer the rejection with the explanation. It doesn’t have to be super detailed, but it would be helpful to know that there is a new, similar position open AND that I was rejected just because of restructuring. Without the explanation, I’m unlikely to even look to see that there is a new position. Or if I do, I might not apply because it was similar to the position I was already “rejected” from.

  21. Rui*

    On #3, I can definitely resonate.

    I left my last job in a large professional services firm last December, and I was the only one in the office on my last day. Not a physical or virtual leaving card in sight, let alone a nice departing lunch, gift or collection, which other colleagues left before me usually get (and I have always contributed towards).

    Granted it was before the odfical office reopening just after The pandemic, so I do understand the zero office presence. But it definitely stung that nobody (not even my direct manager and the bzuiness line partner) bothered to organise at least a leaving card.

    To think that I was one of the top revenue-generating principal consultants in the team and this was what I got for departure, it’s sure demoralising to say the least.

    1. London Calling*

      I had the same experience on my last day early last year, but all I can say about the parting gift is be grateful you didn’t get one. I looked at mine and though ‘what in the name of all that’s holy was going through your mind when you thought this was a) a suitable gift to mark someone’s leaving and b) that it in any way represented my interests or was something I’d use?’

      FTR it was an apron with a slogan (never wear aprons and hate clothes with slogans) and a book of historic articles and pictures of a newspaper I’ve never read in my life. I genuinely wished they hadn’t bothered rather than make it so obvious that they’d put no thought into it at all. I still can’t work out if there was some subliminal message there.

    2. Nelliebelle1197*

      As a manager with mostly hybrid or virtual employees now who used to be in the office, I will say it is awkward to know what to do. My beloved assistant moved on to greener pastures recently. She moved an hour and half away during the pandemic. I met her halfway and we had lunch and I gave her a gift card for Uncommon Goods. But everyone else on our larger team felt completely awkward!

      1. London Calling*

        I have to say a large and expensive bunch of flowers and a bottle of wine would have done it for me very nicely. The gift I did get was so bizarrely not me I wondered about exactly what impression they had of me over the years we worked together.

        1. UKDancer*

          We usually go for M&S or John Lewis vouchers as they’re easy to use, have something for most tastes and if all else fails can be used in the supermarket. I think in terms of presents sometimes it’s better not to be too imaginative because you risk getting something completely wrong.

          1. London Calling*

            We were handed out JL vouchers at Christmas every year so have no idea why they didn’t go for that option as the safest one. Anyway, the charity shop benefited.

        2. Rui*

          To me it’s less about the gift itself but more about acknowledgement and goodwill. I have spent the last 4 years working 12 hours plus per day (normal in the financial consulting industry) for this job, a leaving card with former colleagues’ well wishes doesn’t seem too much to ask for.

          1. Nelliebelle1197*

            Of course not! I was just letting you know it might not be personal but a matter of panic and awkwardness. My staff and I are part of a larger executive team and we would all at least have gone to lunch or sat down with snacks or at least passed around a card in the Before Times. With Senior Assistant 90 minutes away and the whole staff hybrid we all felt awkward and no one really knew what to do. My point is that it may not have been personal or even an over site but the result of so much turmoil over the last two years that no one is quite getting how to get back to certain norms. Even my boss who has been doing this for 50 years suddenly morphed into Valiant Prince Awkward and did not know how to handle a remote departure in a hybrid office!

        3. Not Australian*

          I timed leaving one job very carefully, and was actually booked on a flight to the other side of the world on the afternoon of the day I finished (I worked mornings only). *I made this known* so that nobody would try to arrange a ‘boozy lunch’ or anything to celebrate my last day. What did they do? They turned up with a huge bunch of flowers, and I wasn’t even going home; my DH was meeting me with my luggage and taking me direct to the airport – he wasn’t travelling with me. I accepted the flowers gracefully, took them when I left, and asked DH to drop them off with my daughter-in-law after he’d deposited me at the airport. Then I wrote a very polite ‘thank you’ note saying how much I’d enjoyed the forty-five minutes in which I’d had the pleasure of their company…

  22. Susan Calvin*

    #5, I’ll admit that I caused that type of confusion occasionally – we were hiring for multiple openings in the same role, and pretty much continuously interviewing in bursts for a year or so. During that time there were a couple applicants that ended up in the “maybe” pile, that I couldn’t bear to outright reject, but didn’t ever quite make the cut either. Now every few months or so I’d clear out that pile, but there was no way to do that without our application tracking system sending out form rejections, so I hope it wasn’t too much like salt in the wound…

  23. L-squared*

    #3 I’m sorry that happened. Just curious, who typically handles birthday celebrations? Is it management? A specific team? Just whoever thinks about it? I can definitely see it being one of those things that, during covid, kind of became no ones actual job, and now its the people’s work friends who are closest to them handling it. I don’t know if that makes it better, but maybe its a more understandable thing if you can’t say “our admin did X” and look at it as no one was really paying attention, and the ones that do get noticed are more the exception.

  24. Darcy*

    OP4 – I’m wondering if your employer has decided to offer “employee only” coverage and pass the additional costs of family coverage onto the employee. It’s a stinky thing to do on short notice, but not an uncommon policy.

  25. My 2 cents*

    #4 there are nondiscrimination requirements enacted under ACA that would seem to prohibit such a huge increase in premiums. Also, for the plan to remain qualified, the premiums must be deemed affordable, which currently is 9.61% of income. Since 30 days notice was provided, this appears to be a mid-year change rather rather than open enrollment. However, if the plan is deemed unaffordable, it would be a life event allowing a change to an alternative plan, including the marketplace.

    1. QuickerBooks*

      Per LW’s letter, we don’t know that the premiums have increased that much (or at all), only that LW’s contribution has increased. It’s actually a bit tough to respond without actual numbers, but it’s possible, for example, that LW’s share just went from $25 to $86–or something along those lines. We also don’t have enough information to know what the percentage of LW’s salary this constitutes.

  26. Amy*

    My company (Fortune 1000) does two types of leave:

    – 2 weeks bonding. This is all parents and starts from either birth or adoption
    – 10 weeks paid from Short-term disability. This is only for the birth parent
    – option for half pay for 4 more weeks

    So I had my 2 weeks of bonding time and then my 10 weeks of short term disability started. So when bonding /parental leave was added (maybe 5 years ago), I benefited additional from it. It wasn’t just for non-birth parents.

    1. ecnaseener*

      Let’s hope that’s what the LW’s company is offering, but if so they shouldn’t call it paternity leave.

      1. Amy*

        It’s colloquially called paternity leave when fathers use it at my company. “Bonding leave” hasn’t quite caught on. With a Fortune 500 company, I’d guess the LW just got the messages mixed. State laws factor heavily in the maternity policies of large national companies. I doubt it’s as described.

    2. Irish girl*

      My company has 2 weeks parental leave for everyone. We also have seperate 2 weeks FMLA leave, but cant combine FMLA leave and parental leave together unless your baby has something really bad happen and you didnt take the full 12 weeks FMLA.

      the birth parent gets coverage under our short term disability. its 6 or 8 weeks depending and full pay. Then you are required to take 5 days PTO before you can take time off without pay. So with my last kid, i got paid 6, then 2 then 1 week for a total of 9. Went 3 without pay. Now my state has family leave and i woul have been able to get part of my salary for the last 3 weeks as there is a max cap per week on that. But others in my company outside of my state wouldnt get that additional pay which is disappointing.

  27. Art3mis*

    #3 I had a job that ignored my birthday. They celebrated everyone else’s. Passed around a card for everyone. But not me. Didn’t acknowledge it at all. Less than a week later they passed around a card for someone that didn’t even work there any more. A good manager would want to know, but I did not have good managers.

    1. Cocafonix*

      I would have been grateful to be passed by for any reason. But that’s just me. Sounds like there are worse issues at your workplace though.

  28. calvin blick*

    #2 – I definitely feel your pain. A couple of years ago I had about five years experience and was training a chatty new grad right out of college, and he told me his salary was about $1,500 less than mine…but with a $1,500 signing bonus. I’m still upset about that because I was doing a ton of work that wasn’t in my job description, as well as doing more work that was in my job description than people getting paid much more than me. The guy I was training decided he didn’t really want to do that job after all and stopped working 15 months in, but he only put in his notice 18 months later, meaning there were about three months where his job duties just didn’t get done so the rest of the team (meaning largely me) had to clean up the mess.

    In fairness…the guy that offered the new grad that salary did eventually fight to get me (and others) a decent raise, but I didn’t know that at the time and it REALLY stung.

    1. Cmdr Shepard*

      I feel like I have a slightly similar issue, when I started working I was being paid a certain amount above minimum wage. Lets say minimum wage +$5, over the years I have gotten raises, but the minimum wage has been increased so that even with all my raises I am still at minimum wage+$5. From a certain perspective compared to the minimum wage it has stayed the same. If when I started I was worth $5 above the minimum wage after several years and gaining much more experience I would think I would be worth more than the same $5 above the minimum wage.

  29. Lawyera*

    OP 1, I worked at a company that only followed the bare minimum FMLA / disability, and then one year announced they were going to offer paid family leave… of one week. Then a colleague went to ask HR about the policy because she was expecting, and they said it was only for fathers because mothers already got disability. She brought it up to the head of HR, then the general counsel, who responded, essentially, with “wtf no we’re not doing that, it’s for all parents.” Hopefully someone higher up will realize that your company’s policy is similarly illegal, if that’s what they’re actually planning to do, and remedy it!

  30. A workplace millenial*

    A previous employer did what #1 is talking about — and it cause a lot of understandable outrage but was considered legal, surprisingly. Or at least, they did it without legal consequence and just withstood the internal complaints.

    Their argument when pressed (we were a union shop so had more ability to push back than some other workplaces) was that it didn’t matter what the various leaves were called, it mattered how it worked in implementation. So women got (at the time) 8 weeks of leave paid at 100% of salary. And before the addition of “paternity” leave, men got nothing. The new program gave men 2 weeks of leave paid at 100% of salary. So while they were called different things, women got 8 weeks and men got 2 weeks. They argued the only difference was where the money to pay for the leave came from — women were paid through the company’s disability/leave insurance and men were paid essentially the same way vacation is, through regular payroll.

    That said – it was bad for morale. And I actually found it was most enraging for early Gen-X or Boomer-age women (of which I am not one) who felt like they had to fight for any paid maternity leave (and most were well past the child-producing years) and now men were getting something they didn’t even have. I’m not entirely sure why there was a generational split – it may have just been my workplace. But most of the millenials (of which I am) and late Gen-Xers kind of shrugged that it was just semantics and not an actual instance of discrimination.

    1. Anonarama*

      I’d actually be really mad about that. I had an extremely complicated birth sitch and the first 6 weeks of my short term disability period was straight up physical recovery from multiple open abdominal surgeries. I work for a company that “stacks” parental leave on after STD for birth and that period was so different.

    2. R*

      “So women got (at the time) 8 weeks of leave paid at 100% of salary.”

      So, what you are most likely referring to is called Short Term Disability, and anyone (male or female) is eligible to take it when they have a major medical event that prevents them from working. A man who underwent major surgery would absolutely be able to use Short Term Disability for that, just like a woman who gave birth qualifies for it because birth is a dangerous and complicated medical event, from which it takes a minimum of 6 weeks to recover.

      Things were already equal before they added an additional benefit (i.e. paid paternity leave) for new fathers. That’s why it was bad for moral – it actually was discrimination, not just semantics.

    3. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      FMLA and short-term disability is not the same as maternity leave. FMLA just means that the job is held for the employee. It is not required to be paid and covers a wide amount of issues, which can be used by men or women. There is a cap of 12 weeks/ year which means that if a mother took FMLA at any other time during the year she would not get the full 12 weeks after baby is born.

      STD is also available to both men and women and is an insurance that covers the employee’s salary while they are unable to work due to health issues. I’ve worked places where you have to sign up for STD and pay a monthly premium before you can use it. So if someone had to have surgery and would be out for 6 weeks they would be covered by FMLA and they would be paid by STD

      While FMLA covers adoption STD does not.

      If the policy is truly only for new fathers, regardless if it is paid time off or not, it is quite illegal and unfair because they are allowing a leave based solely on gender.

      1. InsertNameHere*

        I have worked for companies where STD only covered 60%. So when the company added a 100% parental leave policy, it meant the company chipped in the other 40% for birthing parents (and 100% for non-birthing parents). I’m wondering if LW1’s company’s current maternity leave policy is similar, where the company is making up the difference, but maybe LW1 doesn’t realize STD isn’t already at 100%.

    4. KatieP*

      I’d be really ticked if I had to use FMLA leave and my male colleague didn’t. The easy solution: give everyone 2 weeks parental leave in addition to their FMLA.

      1. Klackender*

        FMLA and std can work together though on the same leave. At my company the time away is covered by FMLA and short term disability is how you get paid.

    5. Ann O'Nemity*

      Thanks to “A Workplace Millennial” for presenting a plausible example of what’s happening to LW #1. I could totally imagine a company wanting to extend some kind of paid leave to fathers, but thinking that mothers were already covered through short term disability.

  31. Darkwing Duck*

    OP’s #1 and #4 are why healthcare shouldn’t be tied to employment and why benefits must be both government-mandated and government-supplied like the rest of developed civilizations…

      1. Darkwing Duck*

        I would happily pay what I pay now in insurance premiums every month just to have full, comprehensive healthcare. The only reason healthcare is so expensive is that there’s an insurance company in the middle trying to maximize profit and minimize spending to get to that profit goal.

  32. CathyA*

    OP4 – the Affordable Care Act (aka ACA, Obamacare,, the exchange) has an affordability threshhold built in. Although anyone can buy insurance through the exchange, usually someone who has an offer of employer coverage cannot get a subsidy for such a plan. However, if the cost of “employee only” coverage would exceed 9.61% of your income for the entire year, then your employer’s insurance is considered unaffordable and you are eligible for subsidies. If you think your costs might be in that range, you should start at and look at the plans offered in your state. Do contact a broker who can help you with this. It’s free, and in my state they’re listed right on the exchange’s website.

    Unfortunately, this may not help for 2022 since you’ll only have half the year at the higher premium, but it’s something to start thinking about now for 2023. You might also run into the “family glitch” if you have a partner or children who are covered on your plan — that’s where the plan is deemed affordable because it is for you, even though it might not be if your dependents were counted. The current administration is trying to fix that, but I’m not sure how far along they’ve gotten.

    1. Sharkzle*

      ^^^^ SECOND THIS!!

      After starting a new job and realizing the benefits were awful and expensive, I compared them to what the state was offering. The ACA plans in that state were much more affordable with better coverage than what my employer offered so I ended up going with that instead. Again, your eligibility will depend on which state you’re in and your individual situation but it’s a great choice if it’s available.

      Also want to plug ACA plans over COBRA. Yes, you’ll have to switch insurance, but you’ll pay a fraction of the cost compared to COBRA. Again, check eligibility since I’m not sure how it works in every state but wanted to throw it out there!

    2. ijvi'jnvvmemer;l*

      Definitely do not contact a broker. Brokers are NOT required to contract with all insurers in your area, and therefore are NOT required to show you all the plans available to you. Brokers aren’t acting in your interest. They’re acting in their own financial interest, because they only get paid if you enroll in one of their contracted plans, even if it’s too expensive or bad coverage or doesn’t cover your doctors/prescriptions. Brokers generally don’t know all the rules and all the options. They’re literally paid by the health insurance companies. They aren’t worried about you or your family.

      You should go to, as some others have also recommended. Depending on your state, you may be directed to a “state based Exchange/Marketplace” run by your state, or you may stay on The site will tell you. If you’re on, go to Get Local Help, then choose the first option, Search for Local Help. Enter your zip code, and search for Navigators or Assisters (not brokers or agents). Navigators and Assisters are trained to provide FREE, UNBIASED assistance to look at all your health coverage options. They’re advocates for the people, and they’re legally not allowed to accept money or perks from insurance companies.

      I strongly, strongly recommend not working with a broker. I’ve seen them ruin people’s applications, really mess up people’s lives, and then they won’t help you clean it up because that’s not profitable for them. Don’t help them make money!

      Also don’t google “health insurance [your state],” which will probably bring up a bunch of ads and unreliable websites. There are a lot of scams out there.

      1. FridayFriyay*

        Strongly agree with this comment. The initial comment was spot on except the broker recommendation. I work in this field and a major part of my job includes combing through hundreds of stories of people who were misled into the wrong type of coverage (often resulting in massive medical debt) because of bad advice from brokers. Health insurance navigators are who you want for this purpose.

  33. Oakwood*

    Men can have babies too you know.

    Maybe the company realized they didn’t have a specific policy addressing when a man gives birth, so they quickly created one, not realizing it was different than the policy for other genders.

    The policies should be brought in line so they are the same regardless of the gender of the person giving birth (male, female, bigender, trigender, agender, pangender, genderfluid, etc). Everybody has the right to health care when they are giving birth, regardless of their gender.

    1. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      Certainly men who give birth should be treated the same as women who give birth, but I very much doubt that that is what they mean by a new paternity leave policy.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, if the company were as progressive as this, they wouldn’t use gendered language to refer to a type of leave.

      2. Irish girl*

        Men who give birth would get short term disability, no gender test required. Birth is birth.

    2. Popinki(she/her)*

      The higher-ups at Fortune 500 companies don’t tend to be particularly woke. If they were wanting to acknowledge that people other than cis-women can give birth, they could have called it “birth parent leave” or something else that leaves gender out entirely. That would be wonderful since all people giving birth SHOULD have equal consideration regarding leave and healthcare, but unfortunately that’s still a pipe dream in lots of places.

      Taking the OP at their word, this just sounds like more “but what about the (cis) meeeeeeeen” whining that happens whenever women’s rights or LGBTQ+ rights comes up.

    3. Raboot*

      There’s a zero percent chance that this is the case given the actual details in the letter. This isn’t a place that had paid leave for “women who give borth” who has some kind of benefit to expand to trans men. And if a company were progressive enough to do something like that they wouldn’t call it “paternity leave” and leave it at that. Progressive policies honestly have no room for the words “paternity leave unless it’s part of “paternity leave/marernity leave” combos etc.

      1. Raboot*

        Hit enter too soon – because a truly progressive policy wanting to be inclusive of lgbt employees would use “birthing” and “non-birthing” or similar. Not because fathers don’t need leave.

        1. Shallow Sky*

          Yep. The place my dad works (one of the very large tech companies, statistically speaking you’re probably reading this comment using one of their products) has it separated as something like “leave for birthing a child” and “leave for adding someone to your family”. You get the birthing leave if you physically birthed a child, regardless of gender; you get the adding-to-family leave if you had a baby, or if your spouse had a baby, or if you adopted a kid, or any of the other situations where you have a child in your household that you didn’t before. I think they stack but I’m not certain; definitely birthing leave is much longer, because it just takes a lot longer to recover physically from that experience. They do not call it maternity/paternity leave, because someone in HR would have lost their mind trying to figure out how to handle queer parenthood (if the employee is a woman, but her wife is the one having the baby, does she get maternity leave or paternity leave? how about a pregnant trans man?) within the first day. If they’re calling it maternity/paternity leave, they’re already not in tune with pregnant guys as a going concern.

  34. Sara without an H*

    Hi, OP#2 — It’s called “salary compression,” and it’s the bane of the higher education industry, among others. While it’s unpleasant, please don’t take it personally. Do what you would normally do to support a request for a raise: document your achievements and contributions to the company. See if you can assemble some information on the market rate for jobs like yours. Then make an appointment with your boss to discuss adjusting your salary to reflect both your seniority and your responsibilities and contributions.

    And if you can’t make your boss see reason…well, all that documentation will be useful in updating your resume as you look for another position.

    1. kiki*

      It’s hard not to take it personally! I completely understand how the phenomenon occurs, but it is insulting to be paid the same as an intern when you have years of experience and then have to *justify* a raise to your boss. If I went to my boss and said, “Hey, due to salary compression, it looks like I’m being paid the same as the new intern” and boss reacted by immediately apologizing and giving significant bump, I wouldn’t be insulted. Having to put together a bunch of docs full of things my boss should actively be aware of, then listen to them say, “Oh, we normally cap raises at 5% when there’s no promotion, so you should be really happy with 7%!” …it’s just demoralizing.

      Maybe other companies are better about it, but I’ve always found trying to fight pay compression to be a trap– it’s been a lot easier to find a new job that will pay me even more with out batting an eye.

      1. SomebodyElse*

        I think it depends… my company was great about it in my situation. From start to finish this was my interaction…

        Me to Boss: So yeah we just sent an offer to Wakeen. We offered near the top of the budgeted range. Just a heads up we’re starting to get into compression territory.
        Boss: Huh? Compression? Yeah, between me and Wakeen. Something to keep an eye on when the budget planning cycle comes around.
        6 months later…
        Boss: So your merit increase is 4% and we did a salary adjustment for you going forward of $X. You were right about that compression

    2. Critical Rolls*

      I about halfway agree with you. In typical cases of compression, though, the impact shouldn’t be extending from interns to people who have 12 years with a company and have been progressing in responsibility, wage, and title.

      It’s more typical that a company’s wage floor gets raised (going from $15 to $16 from example) and now you’ve got to deal with Jr Lama Wranglers who had been making $15, Lead Jr Lama Wranglers who had been making $15.50, and Senior Lead Jr Lama Wranglers who were making $16. There needs to be an articulated plan for it.

  35. StudentA*

    I have to push back as a reader on Letter 1. Alison, why bother with a letter with so much missing info? Wouldn’t it have been more helpful to ask the LW to check first and report back with the official language used by HR and make sure she understands fully what it is she’s actually asking? It seems all this letter is actually doing is rousing people up with a sensationalist title. As a work blog, wouldn’t it have been better to present the problem most accurately in order to help people?

    1. Colette*

      Many letters have missing info, and it’s pretty disrespectful to assume the OP doesn’t know what she’s asking.

      1. StudentA*

        Alison’s response is clear that the OP may have misunderstood. Plus, missing info is one thing, but this is missing info that she be in writing in the form of an announcement that she could easily get clarification on before not being sure if she should be angry or not.

      2. Amy*

        LW says the company doesn’t have a maternity leave policy. But 8 weeks paid IS a maternity leave policy. Many / most American employees who offer paid leave run it via a 3rd party STD insurance program. Companies are not required to offer this for maternity benefits

        So yes, I think it’s possible there is some confusion.

        1. Colette*

          It sounds like their policy is FMLA, and that the company/insurance pays at 100% (which isn’t required for FMLA, but the company may do for all FMLA leave).

          If someone ends up on bed rest while pregnant (or gets pregnant after having surgery earlier in the year), do they still get maternity leave? It sure doesn’t sound like it. So the company might have a “we pay you while you’re on FMLA” policy that sometimes applies to people who have given birth, but they may not have an (additional) maternity policy.

          1. Amy*

            I took 12 weeks of paid bedrest + 12 weeks of paid maternity leave. For a total of 24 paid weeks. This was 5 days of PTO + 11 weeks Long Term Disability before the birth + 2 weeks parental bonding + 10 weeks Short Term Disability.

            If my spouse were at my company, he or she (gender is irrelevant to the program) would have received 2 weeks parental bonding.

            This stuff is complicated. I didn’t fully understand it myself before I got pregnant and had a 30 minute call with HR and got all the form.

            But there are many different buckets in large companies and the LW may find they don’t currently have all the information.

    2. anonnie*

      I feel it serves a helpful function by reminding people that when something that sounds this terrible on the surface they should seek more info. The OP isn’t the only one that applies to.

    3. JustMyImagination*

      Or maybe it’s good advice that when you hear something policy-related at work that seems illegal, the first step is to reach out and clarify.

    4. RagingADHD*

      More helpful, yes. But also much less likely to get vehement responses or get shared on social media.

    5. FalsePositive*

      It seems like a good lesson to share. Does the message sound bananas? Check back in for confirmation for any new work policy that seems weird or incorrect. People aren’t perfect. Sometimes it’s a mistake, sometimes it’s oblivious and needs pushback, sometimes it’s really the plan.

    6. sb51*

      Perhaps because Alison did want to show an example of how to look for more information and how to cautiously inquire/escalate something that could be poor wording (in which case it’s still important that it get escalated so the big announcement uses the right wording) or could be a real issue?

  36. C in the Hood*

    Regarding 1, 2 & 4: Employers, stuff like this is why “people don’t want to work anymore”. Or, worded more accurately, “people don’t want to work in companies like that anymore.”

  37. Dr. Rebecca*

    …it is our year of 2-0-2-2 and the number of comments implying that LW1 is some form of “hysterical” (without, of course, using that word) is not zero. *smh*

    1. KRM*

      Given that several commenters themselves have mistyped “paternal” for “parental”, the advice that OP needs to reach out to HR and clarify is the best way forward. If HR says “oh no that’s a terrible typo we’re so sorry, we’ll send out a correction”…then OP has indeed gotten worked up over nothing. If they say it’s indeed paternal leave, but they consider the 8 weeks STD salary covered to be their maternity leave policy, then again, OP doesn’t really have a quibble (not getting into how using the STD is open to everyone. Many companies have a ‘maternity leave’ policy that consists of using one’s STD policy to cover salary, and some companies top up the STD coverage to 100% themselves. It is what it is and I’m not here to debate that particular point).
      OP, clarify first, and remember that if they do have a structure in place to make getting the short term disability payments easy when one gives birth…that is a maternity leave. Even if it’s not formally CALLED maternity leave. It at least acknowledges and covers the time. So just check and make sure what it is you’re getting outraged about.

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        Thank you for proving my point by turning a *POTENTIAL* misreading by the OP into a HUGE DEAL.

        1. Disco Janet*

          Uhhh I think you’re kinda going against your point there, actually. Three words in all caps with stars around one in a single sentence seems pretty over the top. It also completely dismissed the actual point being made by KRM even though they wrote out a detailed explanation of their thoughts. You’re not contributing to the discussion with this kind of comment – just stirring the pot.

    2. Kitty*

      Oh, c’mon. Don’t make this about unfairly accusing people of hysteria. Commenters are just pointing out that is far more likely that someone in OP’s company used the term paternal leave rather than parental leave and that maybe it would be wise to get more information before getting outraged about it. I honestly don’t understand why so many letter writers and commenters here seem to look for opportunities to be outraged by every perceived transgression before getting the full context. It must be exhausting to go through life like that.

        1. Churlish Gambino*

          But Dr. Rebecca, the whole point is that we don’t know if this is indeed a case of rampant corporate sexism or a simple but harrowing typo. Yes, we are supposed to take letter-writers at their word, but there is enough plausible deniability here that the LW should have gone to HR for clarification first — and indeed, I wish this had been a letter where Alison wrote back first to ask the LW to make sure what they wrote is actually what’s happening.

          Alison talks all the time about “saving capital” for things that really matter. Outrage should be meted out the same way. Let’s make sure this is actually something to be outraged about first before expending any more emotional energy on it.

    3. #1 OP*

      I am the LW in #1 and have absolutely asked all these questions to my HR department who responds with lines similar to “we’ll keep giving details as we have them” and “thanks we’ll look into that” or ignore questions completely. I reached out to Alison as a sanity check exactly as i noted since no one i’ve reached out to at my own company seems to be thinking about this or willing to give any clarification and i wanted to see if I was indeed overreacting if the policy is enacted as a PATERNITY leave policy which is exactly how it’s been presented.

      Also, i’m very well-versed in leave policies and what they can be used for. STD is not maternity leave. It’s medical leave. It’s great that my company offers that. Men also get to use that for medical events.

      1. Amy*

        The term maternity leave is fairly amorphous. People use it to describe a variety of types of leaves – paid and unpaid. But a fully paid 8 week plan via STD is very commonly described as a maternity leave.

        And it’s a bit different than when men or women take STD for other purposes.There’s no medical requirement beyond giving birth. A person who broke a leg wouldn’t automatically be granted 8 paid weeks without a compelling medical reason for each week. If you feel 100% 3 weeks after giving birth, you don’t have to return 5 weeks early. If you’re up and running 3 weeks after a different type of medical event, you probably will need to return.

        A sensible additional policy on top of the 8 weeks, would be an amount of time for all parents, including the birth parent and the birth parent’s partner be that person male or female. Then being able to stack those. I’d be very surprised if this leave was restricted to men (and not lesbian partners?) and would very quickly run afoul of laws especially in more progressive states. Fortune 500 companies with offices and employees in multiple states usually craft these policies quite carefully. Ours has changed several times based on laws coming out of CA and NY

        1. emmers*

          Just of note, most STD polices are not fully paid 8 weeks. They are partial paid 6 weeks and sometimes partial paid 8 weeks for c sections. Usually 65-70% of your usual rate. Additionally many companies have frozen STD rates which means that they pull your hourly rate and FTE status from the prior year regardless of your current hourly rate or changed to full time if applicable.

          1. emmers*

            oh and there is a waiting period for STD so its usually just 4-5 weeks of partial pay.

          2. Amy*

            That’s going to depend on the policy the employer has set up with the insurer. Mine was 10 weeks of STD + 2 weeks bonding for a total of 12 paid. No waiting period.

            There was an additional option of 4 at 1/2 pay.

            Other policies will provide significantly less. The most valuable resource to me was the combination of speaking to the company’s HR + the STD insurance company to understand the full picture.

          3. Aitch Arr*

            As usual, it depends.

            At my current company (we are self-funded for STD), employees are eligible on day 1. STD covers base salary at ​​varying levels depending on length of service, ranging from 60% for 4 weeks at during the first year to 100% for 13 weeks after 5 years of service. Employees can also supplement with vacation/sick time to get to 100% if they choose to or with state paid leave if applicable.

      2. Klackender*

        I hope that when the details get released that it is in fact a parental leave that all parents can take. I work for a giant retailer and our maternity leave is 10 weeks at 100% pay covered by FMLA and state leave buckets and a type of STD for pay. We also have 6 weeks paid that any parent can take within the first year after birth/adoption. When I had my daughter I was able to take 16 weeks.

      3. T horton*

        Thank you for providing this information. I don’t think you are overreacting because it sounds like when you asked for clarification of a shrug or being ignored. And that is concerning. Again I’m hoping it’s a miscommunication and they meant parental.

          1. Disco Janet*

            Did you read Alison’s response? She asks the same thing. But apparently we’re only going to get fired up with comments that ask literally the same question.

            1. Jennifer Strange*

              Alison didn’t imply that the OP was being hysterical, though. That’s Dr. Rebecca’s main complaint.

      4. Churlish Gambino*

        It would have been good to include that you asked your HR dept. clarifying questions in your original letter, but honestly…I don’t know what kind of answer you were expecting from Alison when you yourself have so little details on this new policy.

        It sounds like right now, the only path forward is to wait for HR to release the full details as they said they would. If it ends up being as you say, find like-minded people in your company and push back as a group, file a complaint with the DoL (or your country’s equivalent if you’re not in the US) and/or start job-searching.

    4. Accountant*

      If you hear hoofbeats, probably assume horses and not zebras.

      The chance that a Fortune 500 company has crafted a blatantly illegal parental leave policy and distributed the details of that policy via all-staff email is a lot lower than the chances that someone is miscommunicating here.

      1. Dr. Rebecca*

        Did you read what they OP wrote in the comment literally 9 comments above you, or nah?

        1. Dr. Rebecca*

          Also, the whole “big important companies don’t do illegal stuff in public” is put paid by Amazon telling all of their employees to not use “salary,” “union,” “vote,” or “strike” in emails. A Fortune 500 company will do exactly what most other companies do in these types of situations; whatever they can get away with.

        2. Raboot*

          OP reply was posted a mere 13 minutes before their comment. Let’s not castigate people for not refreshing before every comment just in case OP has recently commented.

          1. Dr. Rebecca*

            By my time stamps, OP posted 2 HOURS before their comment. Accountant’s post: 2:23pm. OP’s post: 12:10 pm. No refreshing needed.

            1. Dr. Rebecca*

              Also, if people are going to go postal (pun intended) over what they *think* the OP read, and what they *assume* wasn’t asked, things the commenters are expressly asked not to do, castigation is well in order.

              1. Disco Janet*

                Okay, so just to be clear here, your argument is that calling a woman hysterical is bad, but castigation for someone asking the same questions as Alison is perfectly okay?

                This is ridiculous.

        3. Disco Janet*

          The part where she said they didn’t answer her question? (Pretty typical at a Fortune 500 company – whoever she contacted may not even have been sure if it was a mistake or not.)

  38. Applesauced*

    I wonder is no 1 is a poorly worded – could this be a “parental” leave that they mistakenly are calling “paternity” since the thought-to-be-non-gendered-catch-all defaults to male?

    1. NeedRain47*

      This was my take too- it’s entirely likely that someone used the wrong word and meant parental. Impossible to tell if it was a biased error or simply a careless one without knowing that the policy will consist of.

    2. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      Paternal and Parental share their first and last letters and vowel sounds. The consonantal sounds are all the same, just out-of-order. I’d find no surprise in seeing them conflated.

      Mute points get argued.
      Work comes down the pipe.
      Overachievers try to nip issues in the butt.
      My work is organized in a cue.
      My work is also organized in a que.
      Company announcements tend to bury the lead.
      My peers like to play “If I was the manager…”
      One former peer quit because the company wouldn’t pay them biweekly.

      I see English get mangled frequently if not continuously, so I would (echo the advice of others above to) rule that out first. Hanlon’s razor and all…

      1. fhqwhgads*

        If the company said “paternal” when they meant “parental”, easy to deduce may have been a typo.
        If the company said “paternity” when they meant “parental”, could still be a mistake/wrong word sitch, but reads much more WTF because it’s nowhere near as obvious that a word may have been swapped.
        Put another way, in the first case, I’d immediately jump to “wait is that the wrong word” but in the second, I’d feel like I might be reaching (with a sprinkling of extra hope) when suggesting the issue might be a word swap.

    3. Aitch Arr*

      I think that’s likely.

      I recently updated our fka maternity and paternity leave policies to use ‘child bearing’ and ‘non-childbearing’ parent language.

  39. Wendy*

    Regarding letter number 3

    I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic at the end of 2021. My doctor put me on a lifestyle diet to get my blood sugar levels down to normal. Part of my lifestyle diet is watching how much sugar I intake every day. Anything high in sugar I need to avoid. So, that means no sugary desserts like birthday cake or cupcakes and so on.

    Luckily I brought my blood sugar levels down to normal in April of this year.

    So, for my birthday a signed card is best.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      Yes I can see the point if someone is bringing in a cake just for you and it’s not something being shared. But it sounds like the OP wants to do a monthly birthday celebration like they used to do. This would be where everyone who has a birthday that month gets a card (or whatever) and then a cake or other treats are brought in at the end of the month to celebrate everyone’s birthdays. If there are other people why can’t their be treats just because you can’t to partake

      1. Phony Genius*

        I think there’s a difference between a cake that one of the co-workers can’t eat, and a cake that one of the “guests of honor” can’t eat. This gets really complicated for the monthly birthday events, where you may have a half dozen birthday people, each with their own needs.

    2. louvella*

      When I worked at a workplace that made a big deal of birthdays, there was always a treat chosen for the person with the birthday with their particular preferences/needs in mind. So when it was my boss’s birthday, the “treat” was string cheese because he was on a low carb diet.

      But they forgot my birthday, so I didn’t get to experience that…

      1. Wendy*

        I was half awake when I posted my first reply, but yes, your response is the point I was trying to make

        Not every employee can eat sugary cake, cookies or a cupcake due to their dietary restrictions

        That does not mean that I do not want anyone to have a sugary treat on my birthday

        Just that you *general you* may need to find an alternative sugary treat for an employee who has a dietary restriction

  40. NeedRain47*

    LW#3, In addition to finding a way to make sure those that want their birthday recognized get that, please also consider that not everyone wants their coworkers to celebrate their birthday and let people have a way to opt out. It can turn into another forced social thing that some of us dread. (previous job did a once a month celebration for birthdays, which was plenty.)

  41. Defining gravity*

    There is no way on God’s green earth that a large, Fortune 500 company was like “paternity leave YES maternity leave HELL NO” and this is the first that anyone is hearing about it. I really hope LW1 writes back to say that they mis-read “parental” as “paternity”, whoops, sorry for flying off the handle and writing into a random website in a froth instead of talking to HR or just re-reading the office emails!

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      This is surprisingly aggressive. We are supposed to take LW’s at their word.

      I think it’s more likely that someone who made the announcement used the words Paternity instead of Parental.

      1. Parental leave*

        Agree. When my company rolled out parental leave, my CEO told me we were adding 4 weeks of fully paid “paternity” leave and he needed me to communicate it. I was internally fuming when he said that because I was trying to get pregnant and had already calculated how much I’d lose with STD paying 60% of my salary and then using every bit of PTO I had left to cover the rest (our maternity leave was just FMLA and STD, no additional paid time). Our HR rep joined the meeting late and she corrected him, saying it was parental leave for birthing and non-birthing parents. In all the meetings leading up to it, he had heard parental and conflated it with paternity.

    2. Just a thought*

      Totally could be. I had an employee once email me about the baby they were expecting and asked about fraternity leave! :)

    3. Clobberin' Time*

      I hope you are right. But this kind of policy also smacks of somebody in the C-suites wanting to take time off for the arrival of his new baby, but not wanting to extend similar benefits to the proles. Can’t have all those ladies getting pregnant and taking leave on the company dime.

      1. #1 OP*

        Truthfully, this is how it feels to me. Men at my company have been asking about paternity leave for years and it was our Sr VP of HR who made the announcement about paternity leave being instated this fall. Other c-suite members have made comments in all-employee meetings about how difficult/unfair it is to ask people to cover for extended leave situations as well. They truly seem out of touch. I wanted to know if i even had a leg to stand on if I were to make this a bigger deal at work. I hope I don’t need to and that it was a language mistake, but I truly don’t believe that it was.

        1. Critical Rolls*

          You mean you understand the context of your work setting and didn’t just overheat your lady brain? STOP THE PRESSES! (I also hope it’s a parental/paternal typo issue and not something worse. Good luck, OP.)

        2. Nameless in Customer Service*

          Thank you for updating. I wish commenters had given you the benefit of the doubt that you have good reason to be suspicious at this particular company and didn’t just throw a tizzy with your tiny lady brain (*sigh*) but it’s good to have the explicit information.

        3. Gothic Bee*

          Yeah, I mean this just sounds incredibly sexist and I really hope it gets resolved fairly and quickly for you!! I was really confused by how many people thought you’d just misunderstood it because it really isn’t that hard to believe unfortunately.

      2. AnonymousReader*

        This made me laugh because it’s sadly true. My company got acquired and *coincidently* male straight managers and above all had children within a year of the announcement. As a young female report, I naively thought maybe something was in the water. Turns out they (either had inside knowledge or found out through the grapevine) that our inclusive parental leave (regardless of gender or if they gave birth or not) was going to be downgraded to New Company’s gendered birth leave. All those non birth men weren’t going to miss out on their parental leave! Most cashed in on their parental leave, used the time to job hunt, and left soon after they came back.

    4. Critical Rolls*

      Was is necessary to be that rude, dismissive and “she overreacted, got super emotional, and reacted impulsively in an illogical way” while telling LW that she definitely is not experiencing sexism?

    5. Gothic Bee*

      This is incredibly dismissive (and sexist). We’re supposed to take LW’s at their word and this kind of thing really isn’t that hard to believe.

    6. Myrin*

      Are you one of the people who already got their comments removed because they were being condescending to this OP, wearing a different hat? Because I’m finding myself really perplexed as to why there are apparently multiple people who can’t fathom someone would write into an advice column to ask for advice or who think this OP for some reason must be half illiterate or too dumb to understand the news she receives from her employer. Good lord.

    7. ACanadian*

      How incredibly rude. Your response reeks of sexism. The LW has confirmed that she HAS NOT misread or misunderstood the communication she is receiving from her company. We should take her at her word.

  42. Bookworm*

    #1: I also have to agree that it has to be some sort of mistake, because there would be significant consequences, if only for media/social media, etc. (a Fortune 500 company???). Do hope it really is and it’s a mistype or it’s an actual revamp of the entire parental policy, etc.

    #5: Agree, sadly it’s not new. It has happened less often in recent times for me but it hasn’t been unusual for me to assume I was ghosted only to get a rejection months (maybe not 6?) later. I hate it, it frustrates me. Even if I didn’t care for the job, closure would be nice. It grates me when companies even do it clearly after they’ve hired a candidate (ie, maybe days or even weeks after). Like, let your candidates have closure and let them move on. No, a candidate doesn’t have to wait but it’s a nice courtesy to at least let them know when you said you would.

  43. Becca*

    I think people might be imagining them using the male coded word as neutral or encompassing both, the way ‘he’ has sometimes been used.

    1. R*

      This! Or maybe somebody meant to write “parental” but accidentally wrote “paternal” ….the words look super similar and are even anagrams of each other.

      Personally, I’d just wait on this until the actual details of the policy are announced. If it turns out to be discriminatory, you can address it at that point.

      1. Student*

        Must be nice to work someplace that sends out policy details to everyone.

        Anywhere I’ve worked, HR policies like this are something you have to reach out to HR about, or ask your manager to talk to HR. They are more likely to give you a verbal summary of the policy than to hand you a written policy. They do this deliberately to make it harder to challenge the policy itself, or to challenge the inevitable exemptions to the policy that they give out to favored employees.

  44. Grace*

    LW #5, I got rejected from a job recently – 3 years after I applied. I had to look up the company again because I had completely forgotten what they were.

    They’re a big contractor, so I think they might have just gotten around to their backlog, but I can’t imagine they actually looked at my resume because I definitely had an “estimated complete date of June 2019” line in there.

  45. A Kate*

    Probably an unpopular opinion, but re: #3, I don’t think offices should be celebrating anyone’s birthday. I do agree with Alison that if you’re going to celebrate some, you should celebrate all, but in a company with more than, say, 15 people, the whole thing starts to feel kind of untenable logistically as well as a bit silly. Colleagues aren’t (required to be, or necessarily) friends, so why should they do an in-office celebration? Colleagues who ARE real friends will surely celebrate outside of work, so there’s no real loss.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found that workplaces I’ve been in that push personal celebrations tend to fall down on the job when it comes time to offer actual job benefits, decent pay raises, and elements of workplace culture that make an outsized difference to the people working there. Birthday parties feel a lot to me like ping-pong tables and fancy snacks–fine, I guess, but very easily mismanaged (as is the case in the letter) and often used as highly visible band-aids to distract from bigger issues that matter more in the long run.

  46. dealing with dragons*

    Wanted to chime in to point out to OP 1 that their “federally mandated FMLA” leave is actually quite generous. Federal mandate is that it is unpaid, so getting 100% of salary for 6-8 weeks is amazing. For reference, my STD was 60% of my salary, and just that year my company had instated a four week parental leave of 100% pay. Prior to 2020 all that my company offered was the actual federally mandated 12 weeks unpaid FMLA with STD on top, as well as any accrued PTO, of which we get 15-25 days based on tenure.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      The problem is that Short term disability is NOT maternity leave. It pays you for not being able to work because of medical issues and anyone can use it. Just because it can be used by mothers doesn’t mean it is a maternity leave.

      I think we need to get rid of the whole maternity/paternity thing. It should be parental leave and X amount is covered regardless if you are the birth parent or not and can be used with FMLA and STD.

      For example, let’s say the parental leave is 2 weeks paid (without using sick leave or other vacation). Which isn’t actually a lot and should be more but its a nice round number.

      A Mother would get 2 weeks paid time off. Could be used before the birth of the baby or for extra bonding time. Then 12 weeks of STD because FMLA only covers 12 weeks a year. The 12 weeks is not just time to bond with baby. The 12 weeks is to help your body heal from a major life threatening medical situation.

      A father would be allowed to take the 2 weeks paid for bonding and helping his partner with initial recovery. He could take more time via FMLA but would not be paid.

      Another (better) option would be that if anyone is using FMLA because of the birth/ adoption of a child, regardless if they are the birth parent or not, they can be paid for the 12 weeks.

    2. #1 OP*

      I’m not disputing that 6-8 weeks at full pay is generous, it absolutely is (compared to many others in the US!) But it’s also not “maternity leave” and is available to anyone for any qualifying medical reason. I’m not even trying to fight that we need a more comprehensive maternity leave policy or anything. But adding a paternity leave benefit as described so far is making available a benefit for men that women are not entitled to when our current “maternity” leave is actually available to everyone.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Some companies explicitly DO NOT have a maternity leave, as pregnancy is considered to be part of Medical Leave. Some advocates fought for this, so that giving birth would be under the same umbrella (and treated the same) as cancer or breaking a limb. Perhaps some professional HR/benefits types could comment here.

      2. dealing with dragons*

        for sure! your letter made it sound like you thought the STD + FMLA was the bare minimum when it is, in fact, not. I wanted to clear it up in case anyone was wondering.

        The four weeks my company does was added specifically for parental leave, which is really nice. I still ended up taking two weeks unpaid, but that’s better than 12 weeks unpaid!

  47. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

    FMLA and short-term disability is not the same as maternity leave. FMLA just means that the job is held for the employee. It is not required to be paid and covers a wide amount of issues, which can be used by men or women. There is a cap of 12 weeks/ year which means that if a mother took FMLA at any other time during the year she would not get the full 12 weeks after baby is born.

    STD is also available to both men and women and is an insurance that covers the employee’s salary while they are unable to work due to health issues. I’ve worked places where you have to sign up for STD and pay a monthly premium before you can use it. So if someone had to have surgery and would be out for 6 weeks they would be covered by FMLA and they would be paid by STD

    While FMLA covers adoption STD does not.

    If the policy is truly only for new fathers, regardless if it is paid time off or not, it is quite illegal and unfair because they are allowing a leave based solely on gender.

  48. Margaret*

    Letter #1: It sounds like someone’s spellcheck autocorrected “parental” to “paternal” or maybe fat-fingered? They’re the same set of letters, so it might have just been a miss-type.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Dyslexia will work well as another cause. (I have a mild case of it, and had issues with confusing the two. That’s why I like the term “Family Leave”.

  49. Orange+You+Glad*

    Birthdays at work – I generally prefer not to celebrate them at work. I have a lot of weird hangups around my birthday that stem from childhood/young adulthood that I would rather not have to deal with at work.
    For years I had a boss that would plan something for every employee’s birthday (there were only 4 of us) like a cake or going out for ice cream. Except for me. Every year my birthday was ignored. I only recently learned that my boss’ wedding anniversary is the same day as my birthday so he never remembers since his focus that time of year is on celebrating his marriage.
    I proposed we just put everyone’s bdays in our shared calendar so we can wish them well on their birthday and leave it at that.

  50. Retired Lady*

    I worked for two different retailers over 45 years. One was January- December, the other was July -June. I just had insurance for myself and there was usually a yearly increase but nothing huge. The only time I remember a big increase it was for people on the family plans.

  51. Perveen Mistry*

    Maternity leave: FMLA doesn’t require paid leave, so if you are getting 6-8 weeks off at 100% of salary, newsflash, you are getting maternity leave.

    1. Pocket Mouse*

      The paid 6-8 weeks here is short-term disability, for physical recovery from either a vaginal (6 weeks) or C-section (8 weeks) birth. Surrogates or people placing the child/children for adoption would get this because it is related to medical needs, just like anyone is not giving birth is eligible to receive it for their own medical needs. It comes from the short-term disability insurance plan and is not paid by the employer; it is not a maternity leave benefit offered by the employer. Other commenters have covered this pretty thoroughly above.

      1. Amy*

        It depends on the company and plan.

        STD policies can be fully paid by the employer, partially paid by the employer or fully paid by the employee.

        1. Pocket Mouse*

          I meant the money that the employee receives during the 6-8 weeks of disability due to childbirth comes from the insurer, not the employer.

  52. Churlish Gambino*

    The amount of birthday drama at some workplaces is unbelievable. Just buy a cake at the end of every month when there are birthdays and do a catch-all celebration. People who want their b-day to be acknowledged can take part and people who want to opt-out, do.

    I don’t say this to diminish your feelings, LW, but I would just keep in mind that there seems to be more to your own bday woes than just the not-remembering. It sounds like you’re also doing a lot of extra-mile work at the same time, which makes the oversight sting more. If this is something that matters to you, I think Alison’s script works well. People can be weird about other people bringing up their own birthdays, so her wording is great for not making it entirely about you. But at the same time, I’d explore whether this is just about your birthday or about other ways that you may be feeling overlooked.

  53. CJ*

    re #5: I know it’s cold comfort, but I’m used the the university application rodeo and have a lot of friends in civil service circus. For those areas, six months is _prompt!_

  54. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    LW2, I’d be super annoyed about this, too and it is definitely worth having some conversations about.

    I mean, the fact that it’s a job-seekers market should also mean that companies who want to keep their experienced staff also have to pay for it. Of course, historically, it seems like a lot of companies haven’t been very willing to do any adjustments to their compensation policies when existing staff raise the issue of someone new making as much as or more than them. I would hope that the Great Resignation would change things for companies. But who knows? Maybe some of them will continue to be short-sighted enough to decide it’s better to be constantly replacing experienced staff with newbies instead of paying existing staff wages consistent with the market.

    1. OP2*

      I really wish employers would do the right thing, and not make it the employees’ responsibility to ensure they are being paid fairly.

  55. River*

    #3. What do you think could be the reason your office forgot or “forgot”? Have you hinted at some point over time that you’re not into birthdays? Are you someone that doesn’t like to celebrate birthdays or other special occasions? Do you not want to be reminded of your age? I’m just curious. I truly hope your workplace didn’t intentionally forget and have turned birthday’s into a popularity thing. I will say this about my own workplace and it seems like the most vocal people get the most attention so you’re not alone on that if that’s the case. But please do speak up and try to be casual about it. I don’t have any verbiage you can use (I know that’s not helpful), but as what was mentioned, don’t sound desperate. If you’re still at your workplace come next year, I hope they don’t forget and I hope they don’t make your birthday a huge deal compared to everyone else’s (because for me that would be like I’m getting special sensitive treatment). I would want my day to be on the same level as everyone else’s.
    Anyway, hope that helped and a HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY!! :D

  56. NobodyHasTimeForThis*

    #4 – that is a huge increase, but also, when was the last increase? I got kind of hosed by switching from my husbands plan to mine last year, just in time for a big increase this year. But (accurately) the company defended it because they had not raised employee rates in 5 years while their costs had increased greatly.

    #5 – depends on the industry. The expectation is that all applications move faster than they do. Some industries are glacially slow and it can take 6 months to be hired.

  57. Keith*

    Percentages can hide impacts. Is letter writer going from say $10 per pay to $34.5 per pay or $100 per pay to $345 per pay? The first isn’t necessarily unreasonable compared to the second.

  58. Elspeth*

    My birthday always gets forgotten at work. This has been the case for my last three managers. It definitely makes me feel a little demoralized and disrespected. It probably shouldn’t, as I don’t make a big deal out of my birthday in my personal life, but I’m a long-time employee and sometimes it feels like they think they don’t have to do anything to make me feel appreciated because “hey, she’s not going anywhere, she’s been here forever.” More likely it is just that my manager doesn’t value/prioritize birthdays, and he has a lot of direct reports to keep track of. But I put my direct reports’ birthdays on my calendar set to recur yearly and its pretty quick and painless. I work in a different office than my manager, so that adds to the fact that my coworkers get their birthdays recognized but there is no one above me in my office to remember mine.

  59. Lizzie*

    I got invited to interview for a position I had applied for a year and a half after applying. It’s insanity.

  60. Klackender*

    Letter 1: I work for a very large retailer and our maternity leave is 10 weeks paid for 100% but when you look at it in detail in our HR portal it displays as FMLA and state leave and is paid for by a type of short term disability. We also have parental leave of 6 weeks that is company paid that all parents can take after a birth or adoption (within the calendar year). Most mothers take the continuous 16 weeks. I wonder if this change isn’t being pitched at a paternal leave but it’s also something mothers can access?

  61. Ann O'Nemity*

    #5 Applicant tracking systems can have all sorts of automated workflows set up. HR or the hiring manager could be routinely cleaning up positions in the system and triggering form emails.

  62. Hurt Feelings*

    It really hurts with things are not applied fairly across an organization (for those that want to participate). I worked at a place where only the favorites got the ‘special’ stuff… birthday cards, wedding and baby showers.. heck, even the favorites were the ones that got sympathy cards passed around for everyone to sign for them. I signed cards for someone’s ‘aunts, sister’s brother’s favorite hairstylist’ who died but I had deaths of immediate family that were completely ignored. It was over 10 years ago that I left that place and it still hurts a tiny bit.

  63. Scandinavian Vacationer*

    Some companies explicitly DO NOT have a maternity leave, as pregnancy is considered to be part of Medical Leave. Some advocates fought for this, so that giving birth would be under the same umbrella (and treated the same) as cancer or breaking a limb. Perhaps some professional HR/benefits types could comment here.

    1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

      I’m not HR but I find this very limiting. For one thing you can only use 12 weeks of FMLA per year. The amount of FMLA doesn’t change if another medical condition is added on. So for example if someone has medical issues where they have FMLA normally, whatever they have used so far for the year will be taken out of their leave if the have a child.

      So for example Jane has a medical condition and she has FMLA for that medical condition. She’s already had to take 4 weeks. But once the baby is born she will only get 8 weeks because she has used the 4 weeks for her ‘normal’ medical leave.

      I’m so glad we have an actual legal policy (FMLA) so that mothers can’t lose their job just for being out, And I’m glad it works for other medical or family reasons as well. But I really wish the united states would have an actual family leave where it was JUST for birth/adoption of new child and that it was separate from FMLA.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        I mean, yeah, Jane will only get 8 weeks of FMLA / job protected leave, but that doesn’t mean her employer won’t allow her to be out for longer on a non-FMLA disability/medical leave.

      2. Fish girl*

        I had a coworker who found out she had a large ovarian tumor during one of her pregnancy scans. She could only take 6 weeks of FMLA when her baby was born, because she had to save the other 6 weeks of FMLA for abdominal surgery 2 months later to remove the tumor (which fortunately turned out to be non-cancerous). While I’m glad it exists, FMLA is not a substitute for parental leave.

  64. SheSellsShells*

    Ahhhhhhhh, birthday celebrations. They can be a nice break for a little camaraderie and relaxation or they can be utterly humiliating.

    My first “real” job was in a place where they celebrated every person’s birthday with individual parties. Think fancy decorated cakes from a bakery: decorated with chocolate-dipped strawberries for Jane, a surfer cake for Fergus, and a cowboy theme for Pat. The conference room would be decorated and we’d have a nice half-hour break.

    My birthday is in September. At the beginning of August, Bossman mentioned that we needed to set a spending limit on birthday parties. There was one Aug. birthday and the cake was lovely. At the time, I was the only person with a Sept. birthday, so I was excited to see what my cake would look like. It was a plain, single-layer sheet cake from a grocery store, served in the break room, no party vibe, no decorations, no FUN. In October, Bossman must have forgotten about his spending limit because three parties — with fancy cakes in the conference room — were held.

    The second year, the exact same thing happened. Everyone else got fancy cakes, I got bad cake in the break room. I have no idea why Bossman (apparently?) hated me but it was one of the last straws before I found a new job.

  65. Ash*

    Just give people a paid day off on their birthday (not part of their regular PTO). That way, people who don’t want anyone to know their birthday can just say they’re out for the day. And no one gets a cake or celebration because they’re out hopefully doing something fun.

  66. Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii*

    If no one needs maternity leave right now it may be tactically sound to let them create the paternity leave then get an employment lawyer involved. This will make it harder to rollback the paternity leave so they don’t have to offer maternity leave. Being a Fortune 500 company the bad press when the shtf would then be on your side.

  67. Sometimes supervisor*

    #5 If it makes you feel better, I’ve recently (as in, within the last two years) had two job rejections about 4-6 months after I “applied” where I withdrew from the process. They were both jobs which sounded like a good step up from my current role so I decided to check them out.

    First one, I did a telephone interview, discovered the job was very much not as advertised, so when they messaged to set up a second interview, I messaged back to withdraw my application. Got a message about 6 weeks after that from somebody else at the company to ask if I was still interested so, again, messaged them to say thank but, no, I wasn’t. Then, several months later, got a rejection email.

    Second one I didn’t even apply! I started an application on the company’s website but, while researching the role and the firm, came across a number of not-quite-red flags but enough of them to make it a dealbreaker. Decided not to finish the process. Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when, several months down the line, I got a rejection email.

    So that’s kind of all to say I think it’s just a glitch in the system sometimes. Like somebody goes “Well, we’ve filled the role – better press the button in the HR system to say we’re done” and the system just spews out the email, whether it’s appropriate to or not.

  68. Ignored Birthday Girl*

    I once worked over 3 years for a grade-a jerk who owned 3 hotel/bars, one of which also had a very popular and successful restaurant. I worked in the bar straight evenings 6pm – 3pm (or later) so one year, I requested the night of my birthday off as my husband wanted to take me out of our very small town for the night. I don’t normally give a crap about my birthday so had never previously requested it off. Boss denied the request as he had booked some entertainment for the bar that particular date and there were no staff members at our location who could singlehandedly care for the volume of customers that I could. He wanted to save money by only scheduling one staff member for the event instead of two. Okay, fine, I get it.

    Night of the event, the boss and 3 staff members from the other 2 (out of town) locations show up at our location. Boss has balloons, helium tank, decorations, paper plates /forks /napkins etc and has me start getting everything set up. Set up for what you ask? Why, for the birthday celebration for the other 3 staff members who birthdays were that month. Yes, my boss played favorites all the time and yes, I in fact worked a birthday celebration for OTHER staff members ON MY ACTUAL BIRTHDAY. He didn’t even have the decency to include my name on the cake. The cake I cut, plated and distributed. When I mentioned that it was a little fucked up that he excluded me, he rolled his eyes and walked away. Did I mention he was a jerk?

  69. Cocafonix*

    Beyond the “opt-in vs. opt-out” camps, I find celebrating birthdays at the office very cringy for adults. Birthday parties are for children and family. Work anniversaries, major accomplishments, promotions, retirement, are all great celebrations to have at work. They are work related. I’ll happily opt-in for work related celebrations, team building activities, org sponsored volunteering and such. But for me, office sanctioned birthday parties, baby parades, singing telegrams, valentines flowers are all inappropriate for most work environments, though I’ve seen them all. Have a friend at work and want to celebrate their day? Take them out for lunch. I’ve had good luck over the years to work with good people who accept that some folks opt-out, even if they are firmly opt-in themselves.

  70. Employee at job*

    I’ve gotten that a few times. I guess maybe it’s better than ghosting, maybe? I figure that it takes a long time for them to interview and hire a candidate and so many things can happen during that process like the candidate declines the offer. So maybe they wait that entire time before sending official emails to the people who applied, even if that’s months ago? Maybe? That’s just a theory.

  71. AnonyMouse*

    LW #3 – they didn’t ignore your birthday, the probably just didn’t know or remember it was your birthday. Wither way, it’s not really realistic to expect your employer to remember your birthday unless you work at an insanely small company. That’s more something that’s reserved for your friends and family.

    If people remembering your birthday is just your personal quirk though, prime your coworkers ahead of time.

    Ex. 1
    “What did you do this weekend?”
    “Well, I tried to make reservations for my birthday dinner next week but the restaurants were all crazy booked up!”

    Ex. 2
    “Can we schedule a meeting for June 5th?”
    “Sure, but I have to leave by 5 – my birthday dinner is at 6.”

  72. InsertNameHere*

    For LW1, I’m really hoping that they are implementing parental leave (for parents of any gender) and just misspoke/mistakenly thought “paternity” is a gender neutral term. Also hoping that since there is paternity leave, it includes all kinds of non-birthing parents (like adoptive/foster parents). Framing it as “paternity” leave can definitely be alienating to adoptive parents who aren’t men.

  73. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    OP#3: I have spent years trying to get employers to treat my birthday as personal, PRIVATE information, and stop disclosing my birthday to all employees. I have no objection to a monthly, group birthday celebration for employees who want to participate, but I want to opt out. I don’t want my birthday posted on the internet, or announced in a company meeting, or written on a white board hanging in the hallway. Employers overstep on this. No other personal information is disseminated this way.

    1. Cocafonix*

      I’d be just as incensed as you on this. Where I live, this violates the privacy act.

  74. Lumos*

    Op #5, I recently got a rejection letter for a job I had applied to 3 years ago. I was very confused, especially since this was actually the second time they’d sent me the rejection letter. I’m assuming it was some sort of system error but it was super odd to get another one for a job I hadn’t thought about since 2019.

  75. KRsrch*

    #5: I’m horrified to admit that I was one of those managers who sent out a rejection FAR later than I should have. We were working with a recruitment agency to fill a position in August, then I went on medical leave immediately after we made an offer. I made the (very wrong) assumption that the recruiters would send rejections. Fast forward to January, I had another open position, so logged into our hiring platform, and saw 50 non-rejected applications staring me in the face. I felt horrible that they were still in there and never had that closure! I’m not even sure everyone I interviewed was officially rejected in August… And, to make matters worse, I had to reject all of them to clear them out of my “current applicants” list for the new position.

  76. Kristobel*

    #2 (intern making as much as you) – we just hired someone to report to me, and they make $10k less than I do. Which shouldn’t bother me, but it really does. And I know it’s because I’ve been at my job for a long time and have just been getting merit increases (3%) for the last 4 years, and I’ve probably left a lot of money on the table by never leaving. I have great benefits, so that helps, but it still stings.

    #3 (birthday) – this is why I always take my birthday off. I know that’s lucky I have the days to do so, but I would much rather sit at home than be at work! The few times I did work no one acknowledged it and it was so sad.

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