updates: new hire isn’t trying to move, employee wants bereavement leave for her dog, and more

It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager! All this week and next, I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are four updates from past letter-writers.

There will be more posts than usual this week, so keep checking back throughout the day.

1. New hire doesn’t seem to be trying that hard to move, after agreeing to (#3 at the link)

Thank you for answering my question! I don’t think I used your precise wording in the end, but I went for something close. At first their response was along the lines of ‘well I can’t give any date because I don’t know when I’ll find something’, but after a bit more conversation they concluded that flat hunting would be easier if they stayed in the area a week to search. (I made it clear they could do viewings during the day if need be). They came up for a week, found a flat, and moved in one week before some key training was started, for which they’ve happily been in every day. I don’t know how long it would have taken without the prod from me – but a good outcome :)

I particularly enjoyed the wide range of comments, which went from “just give them a date and fire them if need be, they probably don’t want to move” to “they could have all manner of reasons for not moving, and does the job even need to be in the office!!?” Happy to report it was much less dramatic in the end!

2. Employee wants bereavement leave for her dog

Your advice helped a lot.

The employee who requested the bereavement leave ended up accepting our suggestion without any issues. I think there was a lot of emotion and shock involved.

I didn’t say anything about this to anybody. However, evidently somebody did, because this issue spread throughout the company. It was like that telephone game from when I was a kid, the story got distorted. People also took sides. My boss said it would eventually blow over without us doing anything. Which is what happened, but it was rather intense!

3. Should I warn our terrible managers that most of our team is about to leave? (first update here)

Alison, I did it! I don’t know if this is classified as an update or good news or all of the above, but I write to you from the desk of a brand new job! To be fair, I’m only 10 days in, but it is amazing how fast my mental health has improved since I put in my notice at Awful Toxic Job.

After several months of pushing myself to a breaking point, 2 things happened within about an hour of each other:
• I had a “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment where I was disinvited from a major planning meeting of a project I had been spearheading for months.
• I read a post on Reddit that said (paraphrasing here), “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but just because you got your degree in *specific thing OP does* doesn’t mean you need to stay in *specific field* forever. You have valuable skills, and any employer would be lucky to have you.”
It felt like the clashing of worlds, and I suddenly didn’t feel tied to my industry anymore. 700 tons were lifted off my shoulders, and I started applying to jobs that sounded fun where I thought I’d excel. I got creative with my references and used peers I worked on projects with as references (did I mention I’ve only had one professional job ever? I didn’t have a lot of choices re: references.). I had two interviews and started this new job 3 weeks later. My interviewers later told me that they could tell I’d enjoy the new job which was just as important as having applicable skills. Did I mention I negotiated for a 50% raise?

Now I’m struggling with strong imposter syndrome, but I’m deliriously happy and engaged at work every day.

I also want to take this chance to tell someone that may need to hear it that you can quit your job, go rogue, and find something better. You still have value even if you leave your field. You don’t owe your job or your field anything more than what you have already given them. You can leave with grace, and the people that are happy for you are worth keeping around, and the people that are bitter about it, you are better off without. We are all cheering for you.

4. Was this interviewer’s suggestion a trap? (#5 at the link)

Thanks for responding to my letter about not overthinking a hiring manager suggesting a different role for me at the same time I’m applying to the job on their team.

The original role did fail to materialize, and while I followed through and applied to the other role suggested it didn’t pan out either. But a few weeks later, the company reached out to me again with another option and I’m delighted to say it worked out! It’s true what they say: third time’s a charm! The new job is very different from both of the other positions I applied, and I’m looking forward to learning and growing with my new team mates once the background check finally clears!

Thank you very much to you and to your readers who also weighed in on my paranoia. It was super helpful to get perspectives outside of my own circle!

{ 60 comments… read them below }

  1. Lea*

    #1 sounds like they were procrastinating on a big task which I completely relate to lol.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I appreciated that it wasn’t either of the drastic ends–just someone needing an extra push to finally Do The Thing.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Congrats to OP#3! I’m happy to hear you’re at a new job, and proud that you left your old industry.

      Every so often, a LW here writes something along the lines of “my workplace is toxic but I can’t leave because I work in a niche industry” and I always hope they realize the specific industry isn’t worth the toxicity. Glad you were able to figure that out and move on!

      1. OP3*

        It’s a really hard mental leap, but once I did it, it seemed so obvious. I’m now spreading the message of choosing yourself over a workplace.

  2. Spreadsheets and Books*

    My company’s bereavement policy allows for 2 weeks of leave for family, extended family, and friends who are like family, and explicitly states pets are included (US company, NYC area). I can’t imagine anyone taking it, but it’s permitted.

    1. Lea*

      That is kind of great! Loss of a pet is more distracting and emotional than loss of an elderly great aunt or what have you sometimes

      1. Catsx4*

        Agree! I have a kitty who I have has been with me since I was 19. I am 40 now and although she is going strong at 21, I know it will be much harder on me than losing 2 grandparents was

      2. KM*

        Totally agree! I recently lost my dog of 15 years and it’s been much harder than losing grandparents or other more remote yet still close family members has been. On a completely different (and significantly lighter) note, am I the only one who has been excitedly checking these updates in hopes that we will finally get an update from Cheap Ass Rolls?

        1. Hlao-roo*

          In case you missed it, search for “a coworker of the cheap-ass rolls legend speaks out” posted on December 8, 2021. Not a direct update from the original letter writer, but from a commenter who suspects the Cheap Ass Rolls LW was their coworker.

      3. Dust Bunny*

        My two cats should, knock on wood, have many years left but I already know I’ll be crushed when I lose them. I think only losing my mom will be worse.

    2. giraffecat*

      That sounds like a good policy. It acknolwedges that people may have different needs. I could foresee the need to take bereavement leave for a pet in some circumstances and for some people. I also love that your policy includes friends that are like family. Not everyone has family or is close to their family, but may have friends that are their chosen family.

      1. LittleDoctor*

        I have zero family but I do have three much older adult friends who I’m very close with. If they die I plan to straight up just tell me job they were my parents.

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

      That’s an amazing policy for bereavement! Just from a logistics standpoint, even in the death of a pet, there are things that must be done, and having the time to do them without using PTO can be a big relief in the grief process.

    4. MEH Squared*

      This is a great policy. I love my cat more than i do most of the humans related to me. I just read most of the comments on the original post and was thinking how a blanket bucket of bereavement leave (say that ten times fast) would mitigate a lot of the objections raised.

    5. Rainbow*

      I think that’s fantastic tbh. Speaking as a person who has a strong relationship with my pets and chooses not to have a family. My pets are legitimately slightly famous in my field of work! I have never taken bereavement leave. But I think the need for it might vary more with what needs to be done than how close the deceased was to you, to be slightly blunt. When my close auntie died during lockdown, I had no reason to take time off because I couldn’t even attend her funeral. If it weren’t lockdown, I would have taken leave.

    6. Zombeyonce*

      That’s an amazing policy! And here I am, at a company that is refusing to up our immediate family bereavement from 2 days to 5.

      1. JelloStapler*

        In cases like this I always wonder what their reasoning is- do they think there will suddenly be an avalanche of deceased relatives so people can take a vacation?

        1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

          And if they think a beraved employee will be actually useful at work after two days. I mean, some are but most would be incredibly mentally and emotionally distracted – what good is that for any company??

    7. CoveredinBees*

      The polar opposite of one place I worked where bereavement leave was 2 days and only if the deceased was a parent, legal spouse (ie long-term unmarried partners not included), or child. You could also get two days for a grandparent IF you submitted proof that you lived with them for a specified amount of time (I think it was many many years).

      1. Antilles*

        The 2 days is pretty stingy, but from what I can tell, it does seem like there’s a lot of places where the bereavement leave is very explicitly limited to parents, spouses, and children. I think most of the places I’ve worked at have had similarly clear policies.
        That said, from both my personal experience and what I’ve heard from a number of friends/family, bereavement leave is typically treated *much* more loosely than the written policy would indicate – if your managers are reasonable people, they aren’t sitting there “well actually our leave policy says” when you’re dealing with someone passing away.

          1. Antilles*

            In most of the places I’ve worked at, the official answer based on the policy would be “yes, you’re out of luck”…but the unofficial answer by your manager would be “ignore the handbook, just take the bereavement leave anyways, I’ll square things on my end”.

    8. Fedpants*

      When my grandfather died I took two days off to be with my mom, but the whole family dynamic with complex. But when my dog died I took a week off because I couldn’t stop with ugly crying. A couple years later when an employee’s cat died (age 21, had him since he was a wee bottle fed orphan), I was like “if you’re here to be distracted that’s fine, but if you’re here for obligation to the mission or because you don’t have enough leave, someone else can run that report, and let’s just code this unscheduled telework.”

    9. LittleDoctor*

      That’s nice how inclusive they are. I was orphaned at a very early age and had no extended family; I was literally a street child growing up. I have friends who I’m close to, but if any of them died I wouldn’t get bereavement leave even though the only approximation of family I have.

    10. allathian*

      Generally, bereavement leave is intended for organizing/attending the funeral and dealing with the bureaucracy following a death. No employer can expect a person whose spouse (child, parent, other close relative, or chosen family member) has died to be done mourning after two weeks. It can be a life-changing event. Most people who have suffered a traumatic loss like that will tell you that they’ll never get over it, and they’ll mourn the loss in some form for the rest of their life, but that life does go on, and eventually they adapt to their new normal.

      With pets, it’s different, because the paperwork for dealing with a pet death is pretty minimal. That said, for some people the emotional impact of a pet’s death can be far greater than that of any human being, even if people who decide to keep pets generally understand that they’re going to outlive their pets.

      We need to understand as a society that everyone deals with death and grief in their own way, that there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

  3. Lana Kane*

    I would love to hear what happened at OP3’s toxic job when they quit, because it’s my favorite kind of schadenfreude.

    1. OP3*

      They’re currently hiring, and my projects and people were left stagnant. I’m already hearing complaints from back channels.

      I’m just as curious as you are to see how it all goes.

      As far as my notice went, some people were very surprised and others were surprised I lasted as long as I did. Just goes to show, I suppose.

  4. 2 Cents*

    OP #3 It’s easy to teach skills, but impossible to teach enthusiasm. So tell the imposter syndrome to go away! So happy for you!

    1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      YES and there are programmes to validate professional experience when you don’t have a diploma in that field too. I did one, and was all but handed a Master’s degree on a plate, going from nothing but A levels to a certificate equivalent to five years’ hard studying at uni, simply on the strength of my professional experience. It was truly uplifting, and gave me the impetus to strike out on my own as a freelancer rather than remaining in a stultifying job with no prospects for a pay rise or promotion.

  5. Another Chris*

    OP#3, I hope you have left an extensive negative GlassDoor review of your former division!

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

    #2 Update makes me a little sad…the story spreading and getting distorted, people taking sides. It may have “blown over” but I bet there was still long-term damage done to the poor bereaved employee — either their reputation or their relationship with coworkers. Just because people stop talking doesn’t mean they forget.

  7. hayling*

    Glad LW4’s situation worked out. I think this is more common than we think. A friend applied for a job that was a stretch for her, and while she didn’t get the job, they liked her and invited her to apply for a different role. Like LW4, she was a little taken aback, but I assured her it was a good thing. She got the role and starts soon!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I’m actually working through this right now – a candidate applied for a job they’re honestly not qualified for, but their skills matched a second, so we interviewed them for that job (told them in advance which position we were bringing them in for to ensure they were interested). It turns out they don’t quite have the right fit for that, BUT they would be great for a role that I am preparing to post and I’ve already circulated their resume to one of the key hiring people. Maybe the candidate will think we’re odd for moving them around, but they have a lot of strong attributes/skills and seemed like a team player – if I can get them into a position that’s a good fit with their skills, I hope that’d be a win on both sides.

  8. Purple Cat*

    Happy to report it was much less dramatic in the end!

    We definitely get caught up in the dramatics on this site (naturally), but truly, usually the solutions are reasonable and not dramatic. Glad it worked out well!

  9. Sophia*

    #2 was interesting reading the comments. I lost for 14 year old cat in February and I still cry over her some nights. She and I were incredibly close. I can say honestly that no loss has ever hurt as much as loosing her and the only one that might hurt more is that of my husband.

    1. anonforthis*


      Maybe I’m straight up a psychopath, but my three children were murdered in a genocide along with my parents and brother. (I survived and moved to Canada.) I actively miss my cat, who I was supposed to be allowed to emigrate with but who was forcibly taken from me at the border, much more than I miss any of them. She slept on my pillow every night and she lapped water out of my hand. Her loss broke and still breaks my heart more than any of my children’s.

      1. Wisteria*

        I am sorry for all of your losses. You are not a psychopath. The people who took your cat from you after you lost your family are the psychopaths.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      My last dog has been gone for almost ten years now and I still miss her. I shouldn’t–she was a rescue, we spoiled her terribly and luxuriously, and she lived to be ancient, but I somehow still feel like we could have made her life better.

      I have two rescued and horribly spoiled cats now and, yes, I’ll be heartbroken when I eventually lose them.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Our dog died in December – we knew it was his last day late that morning; I was working from home and when I told my manager she immediately told me to just close my laptop and forget about doing any more work that day. It was actually shortly before Christmas and I was already going to be off the rest of that week, but otherwise I definitely would have needed at LEAST some more WFH time to ugly cry in my sweats before facing people.

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      We lost our 17-year-old cat over two years ago now (and his brother five before that), and I miss them every day. Definitely more than some family members who were less than stellar human beings. I took some PTO after losing both of them. With the more recent one, I sent my team a message to let them know that he’d died and that I could not talk about it at work and not to ask – they knew he was ill, and I didn’t want to face the questions my kind and empathetic coworkers would ask.

  10. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    I love update season. happy sigh Especially when the updates are great for the letter writers!

  11. Jules the 3rd*

    Love to see all the positive updates, and ya know, this is an amazing group of people.

  12. I Wore Pants Today*

    LW3 … Yes to moving industries! Look at your skills, not just your experience in a certain sector. I’m a journalist by education, but now I’m a pretty good data analyst. You wouldn’t think writing=math, but I know where to find answers, not just how to find them. Oh, and attention to detail, communication skills, etc., etc.

  13. CeeBee*

    just saying… there really should be some kind of bereavement leave for your pet. I was a mess after my beloved Max passed away. I took one day- but 3 would have been better. Not really focused on the work at the time.

    1. not realing feeling like i wanna get lit*

      I took a week last summer when my (very elderly, had him since college) dog passed away and my boss is still annoyed about it. She made a passive aggressive comment when I got a cat a few months later, basically like “well make sure you keep this one healthy so you can keep coming to work.”

      Let people decide for themselves when they need to use their bereavement leave! Companies trying to tell people when they’re allowed to grieve and need time off is so needlessly controlling.

  14. Al who is that Al*

    #3 – You did the right thing!
    I did a degree in Geology, worked on the Oilrigs, moved career to Lab rat, did MSc in Manufacturing, moved career into Project Engineering for a cable company, moved career into IT and Manufacturing Software, moved career into Teaching in a Prison and gained Education qualification, went to teach at a College and am now working for a Defense Software company because of my security clearance.

  15. not realing feeling like i wanna get lit*

    Why can’t employees just decide who is close enough to them for them to need to use bereavement leave? Human or animal? If an employee is out of PTO hours for the moment and their dog dies…oh well? Come into the office and make sure you don’t look sad? It’s not a human so too bad?

  16. Leaving and Scared*

    LW3 – I super needed to hear that. I might have cried. Thank you and so happy for you.

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