my coworker falsely reported a colleague, candidates changing their minds after accepting an offer, and more

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

1. My coworker reported a colleague for injuring a client, but it wasn’t true

I work in an office that serves a vulnerable population in their homes. My coworkers Jane and Anna have repeatedly butted heads over the past few months about basically everything. Jane is generally very unpleasant and demanding, which may be coloring my perception. We are very much a team environment where no one can do their jobs without the support of the team. Jane seems to think her clients are the only ones and should take precedence. She has been spoken to about her tone and behavior multiple times.

A few weeks ago, Jane reported to my boss that a client had bruises after Anna and a third coworker physically assisted her. Jane was not a witness. My boss spoke with the client’s family, Anna, and the third coworker. It was determined there was no intentional harm to the patient, she bruises easily, and the family said it may have even been something they caused. Anna will get additional training around lift assistance. Case closed. Jane then filed a report with our corporate parent, accusing Anna of injuring a patient. Anna was immediately suspended pending an investigation. It took less than 24 hours to determine Anna did nothing wrong and should be reinstated. It was also determined that Jane, based on things she said when interviewed, had made the report in retaliation for her ongoing personal issues with Anna. HR and Compliance advised my boss to essentially manage Jane out with weekly meetings about her behavior. Shouldn’t false/retaliatory reporting get someone fired immediately?


When you say they advised your boss to manage Jane out with weekly meetings, what exactly does that mean? Do they mean pressure her to leave on her own? If so, that’s ridiculous — and it’s always bad management. If someone needs to go, you need to tell them to go, not wait for them to leave on their own (which they may never do, and it will be prolonged and painful for everyone involved, and it’s an utter dereliction of a manager’s duty). Or do they mean that your manager should follow an internal policy that will take many meetings but will end with Jane being fired? If so, that’s far more than is necessary; making a false report as retaliation against someone is egregious enough that it’s not PIP territory, but rather “fire immediately” territory. So either way their handling of this is bizarre, but one way would be worse than the other.

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2. Interviewers who quote a lower salary range than they listed in the ad

I’m interviewing for jobs and I’m puzzled by the discrepancy between the salary posted and the salary conveyed in the actual interview. The range posted would be, say, $50-80,000. At the interview, they would say $50,000-$55,000.

My current expectation for roles is at $75-80,000, so in theory these posts look within range, but then the interviews end up lasting only five minutes, ending once we get to the salary part.

Is it weird to say “but your posting said $80,000” or is that too pushy? Or can I say “I’m still interested in the role and would like to discuss further?” and hope they’ll offer a higher salary?

Yeah, that’s a huge waste of applicants’ time — and of the interviewer’s time too, because they’re going to have people applying who aren’t willing to work for the salary they’re offering. It’s possible that what’s listed in the ad is the salary band for the role, without mentioning that everyone starts at the bottom of it, but either way it’s deceptive and disrespectful of people’s time.

I would not just continue in the process hoping they’ll offer a higher salary when they just told you they won’t. But you can say, “We may be too far apart then. Your ad said $50-80,000, and I’d be looking for the higher end of that.” If they dance around it and don’t give you a straight answer, you can push for clarity by saying, “I’d be looking for $75-80,000. Does it make sense to keep talking or is that prohibitive on your end?”

3. Candidates changing their mind after accepting an offer

I’m a recruiter at a software company, and I’m hoping for a reality check on a new trend I’m seeing. Usually, a candidate signs their offer, works through their notice period of two to four weeks at their current employer, and then starts here on the planned date. I’ve been recruiting for about three years now, and that’s what happens 99% of the time. Until a few months ago, it was VERY rare for a candidate to sign an offer with us, and then back out to either stay where they are or go somewhere else. Like it only happened to me about twice over 2+ years.

In the past three or four months, however, I’ve had half a dozen candidates bail after signing an offer. I know it’s not a legally binding agreement, but it’s still poor form, unprofessional, and a great way to burn bridges — largely because it’s massively inconvenient for us to count on someone showing up, plan for their onboarding, and reject all our other candidates, only to have to start all over again (are candidates aware of this? I know it’s just the cost of doing business but it sucks). So I guess my question is: Am I wrong? Is this more normal than I thought? Or is something changing in ~the market~ and we should just start to expect this? What’s going on?

It’s the market. Most likely, people are getting a better offer in between when they accept yours and when they’re scheduled to start. (Alternately, it’s possible that it’s something about your company — how’s your reputation? are people hearing bad things and getting spooked? — but it’s much more likely that it’s just the market.)

I agree that it’s massively inconvenient, but you also can’t expect people to turn down better jobs/more money if they’re on offer … and it sounds like right now, they’re on offer for a lot of your candidates. If you haven’t already, it’s worth revisiting the current market to make sure your salaries and benefits are competitive. (Even when you’re competitive with the market, you can still run into this — but that’s the first thing I’d look at.)

4. Inviting employees to social events and contacting them when they’re on leave

I like to think I establish healthy boundaries at work. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on this so you can tell me if I’m actually just a grump.

We had several employees take parental leave this year, and at one point we had four women out at the same time. We’re not a huge company, and the vibes are definitely “we’re like a family” (I know). When these employees were on leave, they were routinely invited to more casual, team building-type meetings (all virtual). We also had one employee leave the company during this time, and they were virtually invited to his goodbye party (only one of the four women actually attended). There were also many instances of “this recurring meeting falls on a holiday so I’m going to ask (employee on leave) to change it,” which I guess is less problematic if you genuinely don’t have control over the meeting, but it still frustrated me.

I’ve never taken leave to have a baby or for any other reason, so I may just not understand … but is this normal? Even though the meetings were obviously not for actual work or in person, I feel like the last thing I’d want to do is log on to zoom and hang out with my coworkers virtually.

As far as I know, none of the women were pressured to attend, but even getting an invite would bother me! And when we had the goodbye party, I was asked by a couple of higher-ups, “Is Rhaenyra coming?” since we work closely together and I guess they thought maybe we were in contact during her leave? We weren’t!

I would maybe not care as much about this, but there’s been some other weirdness that makes it worse, specifically regarding these new mothers and their (lack of) accommodations.

It’s not that unusual for someone to choose to attend a purely social work event while on parental leave. As long as it’s really voluntary and not the result of pressure to be there, that’s okay! Some people like continuing to feel connected to their teams in a social way, don’t want to miss saying goodbye to a colleague they liked, etc. (But since you used the term “team-building,” if any of these events were more classic team-building stuff rather than purely social get-togethers, then no — people on leave would not normally attend those. Some of us would have a baby solely to get out of attending those.)

Contacting people on maternity leave to change meetings (!!) is not okay (nor is any other work request). Your office should be able to come up with a workaround that doesn’t involve contacting someone who’s out, just as they’d have to figure it out if the person were unreachable in the hospital. The problem is that they’re not viewing maternity leave as that same level of “do not disturb.”

5. Can your company urge you to vote for a political candidate?

The company my husband works for was founded by the family of the wife of a current candidate for the U.S. Senate. The entire C-suite and most of the employees are very conservative politically. I’ve already asked my husband to keep quiet about being a member of the opposite political party, as I know that political affiliation is not a protected class.

The president of the company sent out an email that basically says they “strongly urge” all employees to vote for their in-law for the Senate. My husband thinks this is illegal; I think it’s a bad idea, but legal.

You’re correct: bad idea but legal. Private employers can indeed urge employees to vote a certain way. They can’t explicitly threaten employees’ jobs over it, but they can urge you all they want. Some states do have additional restrictions; for example, New Jersey prohibits employers from requiring workers to listen to the employer’s political opinions, and a handful of other states forbid employers from posting notices saying that they will shut down if a particular candidate wins.

{ 471 comments… read them below }

  1. nonee*

    “Some of us would have a baby purely to get out of attending those.”

    Well, I almost choked on my iced coffee, but you’re certainly not wrong.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      I’ll admit, I’ve never minded work “team-building” days – then again, I’ve never worked for somewhere that did terrible ones. I’d probably have been willing to attend a zoom social meeting with co-workers while on maternity leave, too, because that’s such a low-investment event – come if the baby’s quiet, mute or leave if the baby is screaming, and you don’t even have to leave your house. If I missed my co-workers, I’d probably consider it. I totally get why some other people wouldn’t, though!

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        I also would not be surprised if those employees are attending to stay in the loop and stay on people’s radar. We’ve all heard stories of people (and this goes double for women on mat leave) coming back to work after however many months out of the office to learn that they’ve missed something critical that means their job is now on the line.

        1. pandop*

          In the UK you are allowed up to 10 keep in touch days during parental leave. Not everyone uses any, let alone all, of them – but I know that one of my colleagues used one to join us on a training away day about new directions in our field.

          1. MsSolo UK*

            I was thinking of KIT days – most people in our team use them to attend the Christmas party! I used mine as half days to bring in a bit of extra money after my paid leave ended but before I was ready to go back.

          2. Lost academic*

            I’m going out on a limb to assume the OP is American, so that leave is likely to be 12 weeks, or less, and not typically paid or paid fully. 10 days out of 60 is a lot. If I had a UK kind of leave length I wouldn’t really mind that much!

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              And UK has paid parental leave, which is not required in the US. I’d be irked if I was on unpaid leave and getting pinged for work stuff, but if I was paid it wouldn’t bother me to do it 1-2x in 2 months

            2. Christmas Cactus*

              Not sure it is already noted below, if the event is anything other than purely social, it is a violation of FMLA regulations to ask someone absent on FML to participate.

              The regulations allow minimal contact to occur if there is a need to contact the employee for info or equipment that cannot be otherwise be obtained. An example might be to find files or documents, get a calendar of appointments, or product samples/displays. Even those requests are best handled through HR. Employers have lost a number of EEOC determinations and lawsuits (some with big damage awards) for what was deemed the performance of work when an employee was on FML.

      2. Serenity*

        You never had my last supervisor. Mandatory Fun was mandatory for our 8 person team, unless you were the one man. And on our (genuinely crap, barely livable for the area) salaries, supervisor decided we would do a $30/ person activity. Grandboss nearly had coronary upon finding out after the fact, but as it’s government, there was no money to reimburse.

    2. Mainly Lurking (UK)*

      After a team-building day at one workplace, where I had a two-month notice period, I genuinely gave myself a ten-month deadline to find a new job so that I wouldn’t have to go through that again. I was SO relieved to be able to meet my deadline!

    3. SarahKay*

      In my previous company there used to be a program for would-be top-level leaders to apply to. It ran once a year, and would accept about 20 people each year and they’d spend a week doing team-building, the whole while working and sleeping outside, digging their own latrines, etc, although at least this was in the UK countryside, so no serious dangers. It was my idea of hell, but thankfully I never aspired to the top levels of leadership so never felt the need to apply.

      One day I was chatting to one of the managers who told me she’d just been accepted on this program. “Oh”, I said, “wow, congratulations” while thinking something more like ‘Golly! better you than me.’

      She followed that up with “And better still, I’ve just found out I’m pregnant, so I don’t have to go!”

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      Reminds me of Shirley Jackson’s essay where she says that the cynical say having a third baby is due to a mother willing to do anything for two quiet weeks in the hospital!

      1. Frida*

        Not going to lie, I definitely met some women who had a third baby to extend their SAHM time a little bit longer. Once #2 went to preschool or kindergarten, their husbands started to make noises about full-time work, and apparently for some couples reproduction is preferable to … other kinds of communication.

        (No shade to SAHMs! It’s reasonable to see having young school-age kids as a very hands-on parenting time, too, even if they’re in school.)

    1. Double A*

      1) In my experience with teachers union, no union business will ever touch your work email or phone. It all goes to your personal.

      2) You have to opt into paying into the political arm of your union.

      3) It makes perfect sense for a union to support specific candidates and policies that align with the interests of their members (though of course their members aren’t totally a monolith, they still collectively bargain and vote on specific issues).

      4) Because of the Janus Supreme Court decision, you can now entirely opt out of the union (while still benefiting from their organizing efforts!).

      1. Double A*

        5) Unlike your private employer, your union does not have firing authority over you and you have the same rights and protections as everyone else in the union.

      2. StephChi*

        As a member of a teachers union, all of this is true. All union business is conducted outside of work hours and on personal email. You are not obliged to pay into the union PAC, it’s a totally separate fund. No one will know if you don’t vote for the candidates endorsed by the union, because they’ll never ask people for that information.

        As for #4, we call people who leave the union but continue to benefit from it “freeloaders,” because that’s what they are. Janus was designed specifically to gut unions. The assumption was that, once people weren’t obligated to be a member that most people would leave, and the union would then lose most of their dues. However, at least in my union, that’s not how it worked out. Out of our 25,000 members, only about 25 opted out.

    2. Heidi*

      But presumably they won’t know who you actually voted for, so it’s not like there would be any consequences for not following their voting recommendations, would there?

      1. Despachito*

        This is what I am thinking, while I still find the situation (of anyone, but especially someone who has power over your employment, forcing you how to vote) immoral and if it is not illegal, I wonder why.

        I hope your husband can vote whomever he wants without the employer knowing, and tell the employer whatever he wants to. But again I find the employer’s practices deeply immoral

      2. OP #5*

        They won’t know who he voted for, but party affiliation is public, so it’s not hard to guess which candidate he voted for.

          1. londonedit*

            How does this work? You have to declare who you vote for? Where I live you don’t need to be a member of a political party in order to vote in local or general elections – you just need to be eligible to vote and on the electoral roll. And no one asks who you voted for (well, apart from the odd canvasser outside the polling station trying to gauge which way the result might go, but there’s no obligation to tell them) and it certainly isn’t a matter of public record.

            1. One of the Annes*

              In states that require it, you have to declare your party to vote in the primary. If you’re of one party, you can only vote in the primary for that party. And in at least some states (e.g., Texas), your party declaration is public.

              1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

                Yep. I’m registered Independent because I just am not a joiner of any kind, but for all intents and purposes I am a Democratic voter. In AZ, we can vote in any primary but we need to pick a primary to vote in which is part of the public record. No one knows who I voted for, but they will know which primary I voted in.

                1. Sandi*

                  I have been tempted to vote for leadership candidates of my least favored party to try and avoid the worst options, although haven’t yet done it. Some years it is very tempting.

                2. Mid*

                  I was registered as Independent for a while, but that just meant that I got political spam calls from *all* candidates, which was obnoxious, and no amount of opting out got those calls to end until I switched my affiliation to one party. I really dislike that this information is public.

                3. Evan Þ*

                  @Mid, did that actually work? I’ve been getting spam mail from both parties for a while, since I’ve voted in both primaries at different times.

                  (Not that I mind it that much, but it’s still a mild annoyance. The occasional text spam is worse, though, but I don’t know where that came from.)

                4. The Engineer*

                  In my state the republican party has a ‘closed’ primary so independents/unaffiliated cannot vote in it.

              2. dawbs*

                yup, my husband declared 30 years ago when he registered (we now have open primaries) and now we can’t figure out how to “undeclare” him.

                which mostly means i want to burn down my mailbox on the regular.

                1. Lydia*

                  Yep. The only reason I joined a political party was so I could vote in the primary. Closed primaries are obnoxious and there’s no reason to have them.

                2. Here we go again*

                  I hate political flyers in the mail. I hate all junk mail. But political mail most of all, especially junk mail telling me how environmentally conscience they are. Please just save the money on this garbage and plant a tree, everyone likes trees.
                  The internet has made all junk mail obsolete, and just plain garbage.

                3. Hannah Lee*

                  In my state (Mass) you can vote in either party’s primary and it doesn’t change your registration. You just ask for the ballot when you show up at the polls (or request it on your form requesting mail-in ballots.) So I’ve been unenrolled for years. (you use to have to declare a party affiliation and then contact your local city clerk or other voting official to declare yourself unaffiliated)

                  But unfortunately, the does not cut down on the junk mail. Being unaffiliated just leads to every party thinking you’re one of theirs and sending all kinds of stuff. At least for hard copy US mail. For email, I just get emails from the campaigns I’ve contributed to, or from others of the same party. On my phone I get zero, because I never put my mobile phone on any of that stuff. (one weird thing, though, is my sister is constantly getting texts on her mobile # addressed *to me* from both parties …we’ve never shared a cell phone, we haven’t shared an address for years, I never give out her cell # for anything. So we have no idea how that happened or if it’s even “official” spam ie truly from the organizations it claims to be from)

                4. Rivakonneva*

                  This is for Hannah Lee. :)

                  I chose a party when I was 18, and have stuck with it. I’ve voted in every major election since then, and quite a few minor ones. My state makes that knowledge public, and I get junk mail from both parties on a regular basis. I also get spam texts from both sides, despite the fact that I don’t give out my cell phone number to anyone other than family. Blocking callers does no good to stop it, and when I complained to the DNC list they reminded me it does not apply to political candidates. :(

              3. whingedrinking*

                Similarly, in Canada, each party chooses their own leader, and all the major parties require you to be a registered member before you’re allowed to participate. It got to the point during one NDP leadership race that any time my phone rang, if it displayed an out-of-province number, I would pick up, say, “I’m voting for Peggy Nash”, and hang up.

            2. Lost academic*

              It probably means that anyone can request the voter party registration rolls from whatever agency handles it. You don’t have to register with a party, but some states have closed primaries so it’s a disincentive for some to not choose an option

              1. londonedit*

                I’m realising I know absolutely nothing about the US electoral system – I don’t even know what a primary is! Here when there’s a general election you just turn up at the polling station on election day and vote for the person you want to be your Member of Parliament (MP) and then the party with the most MPs is the one in power (and the leader of that party is the Prime Minister). As long as you’re on the electoral roll you can vote for whoever you want on the day and no one knows who you’ve voted for (or indeed you’re perfectly entitled to spoil your ballot paper or not turn up to vote at all).

                1. WantonSeedStitch*

                  A primary election is held to determine which candidate a particular party will field in the general election. Each party only fields one candidate in the general election. But you might have several candidates competing for that slot, so in the primary, you vote for which one you want in the general election. You can only vote in one party’s primary. In some places, you have to be registered to vote as a member of that party in order to vote in the primary.. In others, you just say which primary ballot you want and you can vote, without having to be registered as a member of any party.

                  Voting in a certain party’s primary election doesn’t mean you have to vote for that party’s candidate in the general election. Also, in cases where there’s an incumbent running for re-election, it’s fairly common for that person’s party NOT to have a primary, and to just field that candidate in the general election.

                2. Sylvan*

                  So this information is going to be mostly useless to you, but it might make news coverage of US Presidential elections make a little more sense?

                  Less than a year before election day, you’ll see like half a dozen people campaigning as Democrats and half a dozen campaigning as Republicans. But by election day, there is only one Democrat competing against one Republican. Maybe one third-party or independent person on the ballot, too, but usually not.

                  Primary elections are the elections that make that happen. Each party has an election to determine who their candidate for President will be. And we do this to choose our parties’ candidates for a variety of positions, not only President.

                3. Adereterial*

                  It’s broadly the equivalent of paid up party members being able to select the next leader of whichever party they’ve joined, in UK terms. Conservative members selecting Liz Truss over Rishi Sunak, or half a million people paying a pittance so they could vote for Jeremy Corbyn in that leadership race, for example.

                  Just… public. Very public.

                  Frankly it makes an absolute mockery of the secret ballot, if I’m honest, which was a very hard won right.

                4. Caramel & Cheddar*

                  There are “primaries” in the parliamentary system as well (not sure if you’re from the UK, Canada, Australia, etc.), they’re just not nearly as big and well advertised as the ones in the US. Every party has to have some method of determining the people they put forward for election in each constituency, and it will involve joining a party and then voting for one of the options.

                  The main difference is that if you join a party to participate in this pre-election candidate selection process, your party affiliation isn’t going to show up on the list when you go to vote.

                5. Adereterial*

                  Also to add – Unions do this in the UK, too – it’s almost always Labour. In fact, if you’re a member of an affiliated union some of your dues go to the Labour Party unless you opt out.

              2. Richard Hershberger*

                It can also produce reverse incentives. I am a true RINO. The Republican primary is the relevant election in my county for anything local. The local politicians are mostly Main Street Republicans, whom I disagree with on many, many issues, but who understand that someone needs to fix the potholes and that good public schools are generally desirable. But there is a substantial MAGA faction (I am so old I remember when they were called Tea Partiers). We had a county commissioner who would ride around the countryside on his hog to give talks about how sustainability is a UN plot to take away our freedoms. I am not making this up. He was one of five commissioners. When a second one got elected, I started to worry. That was peak crazy so far, but it could easily come back. So I figure my primary vote to keep those guys out is more important than my vote would be in the Democratic primary.

                1. Lydia*

                  There’s a bigger push to focus on local elections than the national ones for just this reason. Almost every one of your Congressional delegates started out in local politics. Stop them at home before they become a bigger problem.

                2. Hannah Lee*

                  There was one of those on the primary ballot for my district in the state legislature. Like the guy was at the Jan 6 insurrection riot and his public comments exist entirely within a quadrant chart with one axis being Degree of Idiocy (idiotic or extremely idiotic) and the other being Degree of Offensive Bigoted Fascism (kind of offensive/bigoted/fascist or extremely offensive/bigoted/fascist)

                  I was so relieved when he did not win the primary, while also being horrified at the number of votes he DID manage to get.

                3. Bryce*

                  Growing up we called this the “who’s not an idiot” vote. My hometown had a lot of government interaction (national laboratory) and was small enough that we usually knew folks who had worked with candidates both local and national and could say whether they actually did their jobs or just wanted to be important people. For example my dad’s ringing endorsement of one Secretary of Energy was “he asks smart questions, not questions that make him sound smart.”

                4. Imtheone*

                  Agree! The primary is significant in my area because the Democratic candidate always wins, So the primary vote is the only way to influence who is elected locally-for town offices, county offices,in the State House, and as representatives in the US House of Representatives (part of Congress).

            3. I should really pick a name*

              Very short version: In some states in the US, you need to register with a party. This doesn’t obligate you to vote for the party in an election.

              1. NervousHoolelya*

                If you live in a closed primary state, you are obligated to vote only within your registered party in the primary election. My parents are unaffiliated in Pennsylvania, and they don’t get to vote in primaries. In general elections, though, any voter can vote for any candidate.

            4. Hats Are Great*

              In my state, whether you pulled a D or R ballot in the primary is public info, although you do not have to be a MEMBER of either party and you can vote in whatever primary you want to.

              One year I pulled an R ballot because there were no D races on the primary that mattered, but our sheriff election was basically being decided by the R primary and mattered a LOT. Ten freakin’ years of GOP mailings, so irritating.

            5. MCMonkeyBean*

              In my state you register with a party, and you can look up voter registration with name, birth year and county of residence. I think it’s mostly meant to look up your own registration which is useful to make sure you registration is active, find out where you are supposed to go to vote, and you can also see exactly what your ballot will look like and who is on it.

              But I may have also used it to look up a couple of teachers in high school and I may have looked up the CEO of my current company once…

    3. Jackalope*

      In addition, while at least in the US the unions are more likely to go one direction on political party than another (because one party tends to be pro-union and the other tends to be against), their measuring stick is: will this benefit our employees? They will back candidates of either side as long as they favor labor issues.

      1. JSPA*

        Sometimes including when they have pre-bargained away their support to an incumbent for specific votes, or for being broadly much better on union issues than the norm of their party.

        What then happens when there’s a candidate on the other side who’s far, far better (at least on paper)? Answer: individual locals will commonly then support the “better on issues” candidate, while the state or national union supports the incumbent.

        Though there’s also the case where some broad hot button issue (make your own list here) or home-town connections leads certain locals to endorse in conflict to a higher-level endorsement.

        When a challenger has a long, long long list of local union endorsements (but not national), that tends to signal that the national cut a deal with the incumbent.

        Same sorts of things happen within the two major political parties, when you look at county-level endorsements in the primary, vs state-level endorsements. Occasionally, even with large issues-focused nonprofits that have longstanding, largely-independent local groups (notably if those groups have their own small associated PACs).

    4. Well...*

      Most unions do this, because unions are organizations with specific activism goals to advance workers’ rights. Union power comes from direct political action: strikes and protests. Getting out the vote is completely in line with the nature of their work. The idea that unions should stay out of politics is woefully at odds with the whole history of the labor movement.

      Unions that represent employees whose salaries are determined/influenced by elected officials (public school teachers, perhaps?) would be straight-up not doing their jobs if they didn’t try to get out the vote.

    5. Artemesia*

      Big difference between your boss telling you whom to vote for and the union that supports your political interest BUT also doesn’t employ you. The boss’s pressure is a threat to your livelihood.

    6. kmd*

      I worked in Oil & Gas, and i can tell you, quarterly team meetings almost always involved a statement of “If you want this industry to continue, you know who to vote for…” Made me sick.

      But not as sick as the requests that we donate part of our salary to our company’s PAC.

      1. Summer*

        Ugh – a company PAC? That they wanted you to donate to?? Gross.

        And, for the record, working for a place like LW5 is my idea of hell. I’m on the opposite end of the political spectrum and I would never be able to skate by and keep my opinions to myself in a place like that. I would straight up need to find a different job.

  2. coffee*

    It’s so hard to get better benefits and/or a payrise once you start with a company that I understand why people are making the calculation that it’s worth burning the bridge.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      It’s not necessarily even burning a bridge, either – sure, they can’t apply with you right away again (at least, not without a lot of groveling), but five or ten years down the road you probably won’t remember them. Over the course of a whole career, that’s not a huge deal, especially in an industry that has a wide variety of potential employers!

      1. coffee*

        Good point! Even five years on, everyone who interviewed you might well be gone or in a different role.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Shoot, I backed out of an offer once and 5ish years later they reached out to recruit me. No one involved in the process was the same as the first go-round despite the role being almost the same, just a Senior level

      2. Smithy*

        Absolutely this.

        If the OP was writing from the federal government or another incredibly bureaucratic and relatively stable employer – I could see a case where someone who signs and no shows gets labeled as “do not hire” in a manner that could actually last for some time. Or more likely for smaller employers where the chance of someone specifically holding onto the memory for a while might be higher. But across private/public hiring circles, I’d imagine that the combination of turnover and time….5 years would be a lifetime at many places.

        1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          Hell, if a candidate guts out a government hiring process (usually slow) it is generally a person who wants the job, with the exception of roles that need security clearance. Mr. Gumption was contacted for a job offer from the FBI 3 years after applying and he’d already been at his agency for 1.5 years.

          1. Smithy*

            That makes complete sense!

            But yeah – I think those super slow bureaucracies also have greater understanding that more of this happens. That all being said, I do think that I do get why this makes some people more keen to hire via networks/connections. If someone from my genuine professional network (and not a thinner via LinkedIn vague alumni tie), I support getting hired at my employer and during the 4 weeks when they sign and are supposed to start they back out – I’m going to be highly unlikely to vouch for them strongly again.

            As someone older-wiser, I’m not going to be mad or let anyone think I should feel as though I’ve been made to look “bad”. If the other opportunity is fantastic or truly better for their family, no one should decline just because it will momentarily be uncomfortable for me. And hey, it may put them in a place to help me out in the future – so again, let’s not blow up our networks over these inconveniences. However, if they’re looking for a job down the road where I work….I’m going to be more measured in my vouching for them and won’t put my neck out so far. Because there are some people who take this stuff very seriously and personally, I’m going to be careful about the capital I expend.

      3. Birb*

        I’m surprised they’re not at least getting an email that says “I would love to work for you but have received an offer that is X and have to consider taking it.” and trying to negotiate salary.

        1. Just Another Zebra*

          Because sometimes it isn’t salary. Sometimes it’s driving distance, or flexibility, or PTO offered, or 401k matching, or any number of things that may not be tangibly negotiable.

          Sometimes it’s also they heard negative feedback about the company from a present or former employee, or they have just changed their mind. It happens.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          Hmmm, I’m open to being convinced otherwise but I think trying to renegotiate after signing an offer feels honestly worse than backing out entirely.

          1. Ellie*

            Yes me too, its bad form to revisit what you already agreed to. Also, if the company didn’t give a great offer to begin with, but can suddenly now go higher, do you really want to work for them anyway? Your future increases are likely to be limited.

      4. Ellie*

        I’d only consider it a bridge burned if they ghosted on their first day. If they rang and withdrew anytime before the morning of their start date, I can’t see it being held against them. We just had a new graduate do this to us, I’m certain if they rang up and asked to be reconsidered, we’d still hire them.

    2. tg33*

      The OP in the letter says they have only seen two cases of candidates changing their mind in 2+years. That is really a very short time in recruiting, I have seen the job market change a lot over the years, but it seems to take 6 to 10 years for the market to change around.

      I’m also influenced by the fact that the company I work for once recruited people, then after a crisis (but after people had signed offers and given notice at their old work), they cancelled the job offers. Everyone working here was horrified, but it was legal and there was nothing an ordinary worker could do. I have not heard of this before or since (and I’ve been here well over 20 years) but all kinds of odd things are possible.

      1. Skippy*

        I received an offer from an organization in a different state. After getting everything in writing, my husband and I gave our notice, bought a house, and packed up everything we owned to move — only for the organization to contact me a week before I was supposed to start to tell me they’d eliminated the position.

        When the tables are turned companies can miss me with their complaints.

          1. Potatoes for all!*

            And it’s been happening a lot recently in tech, which the OP mentions they’re in — if companies are giving “zero days notice” in revoking offers, I’m not at all surprised the cultural norm is changing for employees as well.

            It’s often particularly devastating who were relying on the offer for visa sponsorship

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Seriously. If companies can renege on signed offer letters employees can too. People can miss me with the “burned bridges” thing when companies do it to employees all. The. Time.

        2. coffee*

          Yeah for sure! It’s a two way street.

          You have to put yourself first, not a complete stranger at a job you applied for.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      And the LW is hiring for a software company, so their workers were in demand before the recent pandemic changes in the labor market. Top it off, the LW is now probably competing with every software company within 2-3 time zones since remote work has become so common. Add in that companies have been known to retract offers at the last minute and it is a perfect storm for the LW

  3. TrixM*

    Political affiliation is not a “protected class” in the US?

    I know you all must be sick of us foreigners going omg! about your legal quirks – I mean, we all have them, to be fair – but I’m honestly gobsmacked at that one.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      No. Where is it a protected class?

      You don’t have to tell anyone which party you’re registered with, which party you support, or who you voted for so it’s easy enough to keep it close to your vest.

    2. Xantar*

      It actually makes complete sense though. The protected classes in US law are generally traits that are inherent to us and which we generally have no control over. Things like our race, gender, and age. It’s considered unfair to discriminate against someone for something they can’t help.

      But your political affiliation is not something you are born with. Plus it’s something you can change quite easily if you choose to.

      (Whether religion really counts as an inherent trait that should make it a protected class is a more nuanced debate which would open up a whole can of worms, so I’ll just say it’s an active topic for philosophers)

    3. Observer*

      Political affiliation is not a “protected class” in the US?

      I know you all must be sick of us foreigners going omg! about your legal quirks – I mean, we all have them, to be fair – but I’m honestly gobsmacked at that one.

      Why? In a country that allows any and all political affiliations except ones that advocate literally overthrowing the government via illegal means or other explicitly illegal things – and then you actually have to prove that that’s what they want – you need to be able to distance yourself from that.

      *I* am gobsmacked that apparently in some countries being convicted of a violent crime is not sufficient reason to fire someone who works with other people. I certainly do not want my employer to be forced to employ a Nazi.

  4. Eric*

    fun fact regarding #5, in most states employers are prohibited from being your “assistant” and accompanying you into the voting booth to help you cast your ballot, unless you are blind.

    1. Tinkerbell*

      There’s a whole mess of different laws about this that vary state by state, to help protect people in situations like “elderly person whose caretaker fills out the vote for them” or “overbearing husband who wants to ensure his wife votes the way he tells her to.” Not all the laws are equally applied or equally effective, sadly.

      1. Lilith*

        It’s easy to find out political party registration if you want. Mention to your husband to be careful.

        1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

          Denying on what state one lives in, that might or might not be the case. In Illinois, where I live, you do not declare a political affiliation when you register to vote (there’s not even a way to do this). We have open primaries, so it’s not information anyone needs to know.

          I think we’re in the minority on this, but I don’t think we’re the only ones.

          1. Lady_Lessa*

            Ohio also has open primaries, but if a person votes a specific party in one, then it is assumed that is their party for the next one. As a poll worker, I make it part of my conversation to repeat the requested party as I am handing the voter their ballot. It’s much easier to correct it and give them the correct ballot at that stage.

            And as a registered voter, I can see all of the ballots at the Board of Elections website, not just my own (primary)

            1. Texan In Exile*

              Wisconsin has open primaries. All parties are listed on one ballot, so I (a pollworker) don’t have to ask the voter which party. I just have to remind her that she can vote for candidates in one party only. If a voter selects candidates from more than one party, the ballot is invalidated. (I think this would be noted in the ballot reader and the voter would be allowed to vote again if she wanted to.)

              Anyhow, I don’t think any of this information is publicly available – I don’t see how it could be.

              HOWEVER. Campaign contributions are publicly available. So if someone wants to do the work, she can find out who you’ve donated money to and discern your leanings that way.

              1. Lydia*

                There was one year I looked up my neighbors (I was in graduate school and only living there temporarily, so I wasn’t that invested) and it was kind of interesting to see who people were supporting. I haven’t done it since because I decided I don’t want to know that much about them.

          2. RabbitRabbit*

            Side note that speaking from experience in Illinois elections, it is publicly-available information what party ballot you select at a primary election.

          3. Hello Dahlia*

            Missouri has open primaries too. Only election judges (I’m one) have to declare a party so voting locations are staffed as bipartisan.

            1. Tony T*

              In Georgia, these is no pre-ordained party affiliation. At the Primaries, I ask for the “other” party’s ballot so I can stack the deck with more-easily-defeatable candidates, think “MTG” and “HW”. In November the ballot is non-partisan.

                1. Hannah Lee*

                  Yeah, part timer, I’m completely with you.

                  “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”

          4. Clisby*

            South Carolina is like that, too. People do not register by party. Now, the state elections department keeps information on voters – including whether they’ve voted in the most recent Democratic or Republican primary. Any registered voter can buy that information (or some of it). However, while declaring a political affiliation might indicate how someone would vote, the mere fact that someone voted in a Republican/Democratic primary might be no indication at all of how they’d vote in the general election. I mostly vote for Democratic candidates, but SC is such an overwhelmingly Republican state that sometimes if I don’t vote in the Republican primary, I might have no choice of candidates for important races; so sometimes I pick the Republican primary (can’t vote in both). For example, in 2012 we didn’t have a Democratic presidential primary, because nobody was opposing Obama. So I voted in the Republican primary. If anyone deduced from that fact that I was going to vote for Obama’s Republican opponent, they were dead wrong.

          5. ThatGirl*

            Ironically though I just sent my little card in to the county clerk for permanent vote by mail, and I had to declare which party I wanted primary ballots for. I’m sure it could be changed or I could go vote in person if I wanted to, but that’s effectively declaring political affiliation.

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

            Wisconsin and Minnesota are like this too. In primary you can only vote for one party and if you vote for multiple then the ballot is thrown out. But you do not register with one party and as far as I know it’s not registered anywhere.

            I actually find it really odd that some states are not like this. In states where you register your party does your ballot only have that party then (both primary and non primary elections)?

            1. Hlao-roo*

              My current state has open primaries, so you can vote in any primary election regardless of party affiliation. Unlike Wisconsin and Minnesota, there is a primary ballot for each party. The primary ballot for the Teapot Party only has Teapot Party candidates on it and the ballot for the Llama Party only has Llama Party candidates on it. At the polls (or when requesting a mail-in ballot), the voter is asked “are you voting in the Teapot Primary or the Llama Primary?” and then the voter is given the relevant ballot.

              For general elections, all voters receive the same ballot that has all of the candidates on it, just like in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

            2. Just a Name*

              I am in Kentucky. When I vote in a primary, the poll worker sees my voter registration when I sign in, which included the party I am selected (I could change this if I wished) and hands me that ballot. In a general election there is only one ballot. My son is registered independent and does not get to vote in primary elections.

        2. Zephy*

          They probably already know. Like you said, it’s not a hard piece of information to come by; someone in the C-suite probably already has a list.

      2. JSPA*

        In states with closed primaries, political affiliation is (and pretty much has to be) public.

        Likewise, most of people’s voting records are generally available on request, or upon paying a modest fee (that is, which elections they voted in, and perhaps the mode of voting–in person vs absentee–not who they voted for, of course, which is theoretically completely walled off from the rest of the voting data).

        That said, if you’re (say) the caretaker of a building in an industrial sector, or otherwise the only person in your ward/district to vote; or the only one to vote absentee; or literally everyone in your district votes the same way in one of the races, then your vote (while officially secret) is determinable from the evidence.

        1. Koalafied*

          It’s also a thing in states with closed primaries for some people to register as a member of one of the parties specifically so they can vote in the primary, not because they really align with the party. Either they’re an independent who knows there isn’t going to be a third party candidate on the ballot so they register for one of the two major parties; or they live in a “safe state” where the candidate who wins the dominant party’s primary is 99% likely to become the winner in the general, making the other party’s primary the more influential race to vote in; or in some cases they try to elect the opposition candidate in the primary that they think will be easier for their real party to defeat in the general.

          1. Texan In Exile*

            Exactly. I have voted in the primary of the party I did not agree with simply because it was the party that was going to win. There were six candidates in the primary and I wanted some voice in who was elected, even though I didn’t want any of them elected at all! I wanted to pick the least bad option.

        2. Bagpuss*

          I find this fascinating, as, as a non-US person the idea of having to register with a party to be able to vote is quite strange (Here, everyoneon the elctoral roll is eligable to vote – households get sent out a form to complte to record who lives there and is eligable to vote, it shows the current record so you either add anyone who has turned 18 or moved in, and delete anyonewho has died r moved out, bu it’s not connected to policital party or affiliation.

          Each policital party has it’s own rules on membership and which things that determines – so for instance, the rules on how the party leader is decided is detmined by the rules of the party, as arethings like how candidates to stand for election are selected (subject tothe overriding national legal requirements)

          But you don’t have to have, or declare, anyu kind of political affiliation to vote.

          Here, political affiliation isn’t a protected class but as philosphical beliefs can beunderthe same provisions that protect religious beliefs – so (for instnace) being a emember of the Communist PArty would not be protected but a philosophical belief in Socialism / Communism could be.

          Protection for belief also requires that the”belief must also be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not affect other people’s fundamental rights” so extreme and discriminatory political views suc as a belief in White supremacy, would not be protected .

          1. sb51*

            You don’t need to declare a party to vote in the general election.

            You may, depending on state, need to declare a party to vote in the party (i.e. the primary) election. (And in some states where you don’t have to pre-declare your party, choosing to vote in that party’s primary may “declare” you for next time.)

            But the party/primary elections are handled by the same government machinery as the general elections, which I think is the “weird” part compared to other countries — instead of having to go to something separate, your town/county/state elections system handles the party primaries. And individual state rules that significantly affect the party primaries (must declare a party or just declare at the time you walk up to the desk if voting in the party primary), no party primaries at all and a multi-candidate election, top-vote-wins vs instant-runoff/ranked-choice, etc) are decided by the states, so it looks very different in different states even if you’re choosing a national candidate (i.e. the presidential primaries).

            1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

              Yes, that is the surprising part. When political parties in my country are choosing someone they have to organise the votes themselves. Do the parties pay for the primaries? Elections are expensive and it doesn’t seem right that it should come out of the public purse.

        3. Sylvan*

          Yep! I want to add something here, which is that when our voting records are public, our personal ballots aren’t.

          You can see that I’m not registered with either party and I choose Democratic ballots during primaries. You can make a lot of accurate guesses about who I’ve voted for, but you can’t actually see whether I did or not.

          1. Clisby*

            Oh, yes, *how* you voted isn’t recorded in the public information.

            I once helped a neighbor running for city council by taking the CD database for his council district, importing it into Excel, and creating mailing labels. Public information included name, address, date of birth, race, gender, whether a voter voted in the most recent primary (R/D), whether they voted in the last general election, and maybe some others. It did not show SSN, driver’s license number, or how anybody voted.

    2. Minnesota*

      In Minnesota, you can bring someone to help you vote; they can be anyone except an agent of your employer or your union.

      (Voters who are blind could of course get help from someone who’s not their employer; they could also use the accessible voting machine or get help from an election worker.)

      1. JSPA*

        Yes! Often (interestingly) the judge of elections is also barred from being picked as a designated “behind the screen” helper. In some places, that may extend to other polling place workers as well. And in some places, you need to sign a statement attesting to why you need help, and the identity and address of your helper.

    3. Here we go again*

      It’s usually one person who can assist you to fill out a ballot or a parent with a small child. My mom used to take me to vote. I take my son. Last time I didn’t like any candidates for school board so I asked my son who I should write in. I voted for Yoda.

  5. Lab Lady*

    Dumb question to someone who knows more than me.

    Would a ‘solution’ to OP #3 be offering a ‘contract’.

    I mean, employees can be laid off for any number of reasons, even if they haven’t actually started yet, for any number of business reasons. (It’s bad form, but I think we’ve had a letter or two about that here not so long ago). So it’s not unreasonable (but again bad form) that employees also have the ability to make ‘business decisions’.

    The thing is — contracts are an employment model that do exist (not a lawyer). I’ve committed to my employer, my employer has committed to me — for better or for worse, for the term of the contract (with protocols to negotiate breaking the contract clearly marked). I’m pretty sure employers don’t go the contract model of the time because they like the flexibility — and typically they hold the lions share of the power. That flexibility is theoretically a two way street though — and right now there is traffic flow in both directions.

    1. Observer*

      The OP’s problem would absolutely be solved by the use of a contract. But the thing is that their employer will absolutely not go that rout. Why? Because, as you note, they go both ways and the employer doesn’t want to be held to the same standard they want to hold employees to.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      To make it even vaguely appealing to the candidate, the company would have to offer something in return – employee promises to not quit during the contract, but the employe promises not to let them go or decrease salary or benefits during the contract. I strongly suspect employers are not going to want to make a comparable commitment. The other issue is that if someone breaks a contract, the employer would have to be willing to take them to court for damages. Preparing to onboard someone is expensive, but so is hiring lawyers. You’d also need to get any contract vetted by an employment lawyer to make sure it is actually enforceable – lots of employers require employees to sign non competes that aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

      FWIW, I’ve spent most of my adult working life with a formal contract, and none of them prevented me from bailing before the job started, or quitting once I’m there. My employer is also able to fire me, it just takes more work and might involve a significant severance if they do it outside of the contract period and it’s not for gross misconduct. I might need to give a minimum notice, in turn, and be responsible for paying back moving allowances if I quit before a certain point.

      1. Antilles*

        To make it even vaguely appealing to the candidate, the company would have to offer something in return – employee promises to not quit during the contract, but the employee promises not to let them go or decrease salary or benefits during the contract.
        I’d guess you need to offer the candidates even more than that (e.g., higher-than-normal salary). OP is in a competitive industry where contracts aren’t a thing. So a lot of candidates very well might look at this and say “if you’re going to ask me to lock in for a year (unlike all the other offers I have/could get), then I expect to be getting a premium for giving up my flexibility.”.

      2. The Person from the Resume*

        IDK. I think most companies do go into an offer not intending to “decrease salary or benefits” while a person is employed. Most comapnies won’t decrease although they may hold steady and thereby the value of the salary and benefits decrease as inflation rises. And most companies don’t intend to fire people for no cause or lay off a bunch of employees. Lay offs are often accompanied by some form of severence anyway.

        It depends on the company, but most would say they meet that bare minimum. In the US for a contract you might have to offer more than that to make a binding contract worthwhile. But the contract must have some kind of out for failure to performance, misconduct.

        I don’t think the problem in the US is lack of a contract, and I don’t think contracts would solve employment problems. A very, very small number of people are hired and then told not to start.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yes! At-will employment is what we have in the absence of contracts, but it doesn’t negate contracts when they exist. Every state except Montana has at-will employment, but there are still functioning employment contracts in those states — for example, think of freelance contracts or the rare industries/jobs that do use contracts.

        1. Anon For This*

          So that’s confusing to me because I’m currently working a time-limited contract but was told it’s also at-will, meaning I or the employer can back out at any time. Is that not really a contract then, just the potential length of the job?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Is there an actual contract laying out binding terms for you and the employer (which both parties signed and which includes the circumstances under which your employment can be terminated, and lists a specific time period) or something more like an offer letter where they lay out the details of your employment (which is what most U.S. workers have and isn’t considered a contract)? I’m guessing it might be more the latter but hard to say without knowing more about what’s in it!

            Confusingly, in the U.S. when people refer to “contract positions” or “time-limited contracts” it often means “a job intended to last X months” rather than “a job with a formal employment contract.”

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Also, for non-U.S. readers who are often baffled when this comes up and who want to know how you know/agree on your salary, hours, etc. when most of us here don’t have contracts — it’s typically laid out in the job offer, along with benefits, etc. And then federal and state laws govern the rest (things like overtime, minimum pay frequency, etc.).

              1. Phryne*

                I had wondered about that, thank you for explaining.
                (in my country it is actually illegal to work without a contract as this also connects to taxes, social insurance and pensions as well as rights and duties towards the employer)

            2. L.H. Puttgrass*

              Sometimes with “contract positions” there is is a contract, it’s not just with the employee. I had a gig many many years ago as a contract employee for Company X, but I was paid by Staffing Agency Y. I had no contract with either company, but there was definitely a formal contract between Company X and Staffing Agency Y.

              1. Person from the Resume*

                Yes. In the federal government has contracts with many companies. Those companies employe people who are referred to contractors within the government to distinguish them from the federal employees. Those contractors employees are unlikely to have a actual contract themselves; the legally binding contract is between the government and the company.

    3. Plumbum*

      I highly doubt it. In the UK employment contracts are absolutely standard, with defined notice periods etc. You can still sign one and pull out before starting the job. Or pull out two days into the job to accept a different offer.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        My employment contract specifically says that no party can cancel before the start date (which was about two months in the future due to my notice period/garden leave).
        This is a fairly standard clause in German contracts.
        During my 6 months probation period (standard for senior professional jobs and the maximum alowed by law), either party could cancel with 2 weeks notice, afterwards it’s from 6 weeks to 3 months depending in tenure.
        So if I had received a better offer in the meantime, I’d still have to show up for two weeks, or negotiate to mutually agree to an early cancellation.

        1. TechWorker*

          Right – I agree with Plumbum – it sounds like German contract are a bit stricter but what employer would want someone working for them for 2 weeks (or even a month, which is fairly standard notice period during probation here), who’s then going to quit again? Maybe for some jobs that’s not a total waste of time but in software it generally is and the employer would be better off just breaking the contract and starting the hiring process again.

          Contracts are great in many ways but they’re not magic and people are still allowed to quit!

        2. amoeba*

          Yeah, but then in Germany (and Switzerland, and probably the rest of Europe as well), we also have long notice periods anyway, so waiting an additional two weeks would probably not be a problem for the other employer. It definitely still happens – get a better offer after you signed the contract for the first one, then quit immediately on the first day of employment. Not considered good style, sure, definitely also burning bridges, but not really much of a problem legally. Although I guess it’s psychologically harder to bail when you’ve already signed and have to go through the whole process of quitting…

          And because it was mentioned below: here it’s really normal to sign the contract quite a while before you start. Actually, the usual advice is to never quit your current position until you’ve signed your new contract – and as notice periods are usually 3+ months in my field, you normally sign at least 3-4 months before you actually start.

          1. Tau*

            I was also thinking about the psychological difficulty. It’s one thing if you get a better offer after signing the first one and go “OK I guess I’ll just renege” and not have to deal with it after the awkward letting them know part, it’s another if you know you’ll have the contract hanging over you for months and need to work two weeks and get onboarded and meet all the new colleagues etc. at the place you’re planning to bail on. I imagine a lot of people would balk at that.

        3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

          I like this model. In the US contacts are not common, so if an employer offered me something like this they’d move up in my estimation. I love clearly outlined expectations and processes

    4. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Honestly, this is one area where the US gets knocked on a lot…but having worked and lived abroad, I’m not convinced it’s as good a solution as people want it to be.

      Contracts are….a very blunt instrument. And while they mitigate some risks they often create some others.

      IMO employees would be far better served by gaining more systemic and social support, and companies like OP’s will be better served by looking closely at their culture, their offers and and screening processes.

      1. Malarkey01*

        I agree with this. I’ve done a study of employment contracts (grantee it’s about 18 years old now) and it was split about 50/50 whether it benefited the employee or employer and that could vary a lot by market and market conditions. There’s a real lack of flexibility for workers and they tend to be less beneficial to those that have less experience negotiating which historically have been women and POC.

        1. Lokifan*

          that makes sense. Personally I’d prefer a contract but then I’m British, so it’s what I’m used to. and I’ve almost always been on zero-hours contracts, which completely fuck over the worker, so there can def be ways for contracts to be legally required but not protect your hours/pay.

      2. Lilo*

        I’ll add, no court is going to order specific performance in this kind of case (for very good reason). You’d have to have specific monetary damages and then litigation would cost you. I don’t really think it’s that good of a fix.

      3. The OTHER other*

        Other down sides to contracts and other provisions that make it difficult to fire workers are that it is more difficult to get rid of bad workers, and that it makes employers more reluctant to hire.

    5. JSPA*

      This is an excellent point. And contracts can be written with various “outs” for either party (I’m sure the rest of the world would have useful models for this.

      Spitballing, I’d assume various probationary periods with partial severence; significant severance on the employer breaking the contract…forfeit of vacation day and bonus payout for employees breaking the contract before a specified date (barring certain life-events, or with gaps allowed for illness, pregnancy, etc)?

      I know we don’t normally solicit “how we do things in other countries” feedback.

      But if a huge number employers and also their current employees are suffering (as seems to be the case) and if there’s a useful model from elsewhere in the world that might meet the needs of both employers and employees, perhaps we could have a dedicated thread on “work contracts around the world, what works well here and what’s considered onerous” (from both the manager and the employee point of view)?

    6. tg33*

      I work in a country where contracts are standard (I also haven’t changed jobs in decades, so I am not up to date), contracts are usually signed on your first day at work (I think) so it does nothing to mitigate either the employer or employee changing their minds before the offer and start date. Also, for the probation period (3 months / 6 months??) either employer or employee can back out of the contract with little notice.

      1. Eyes Kiwami*

        Same. Countries with contracts usually have probation periods and you sign on the first day or so, so people can still back out/no show.

    7. Koala dreams*

      Employment contracts typically describe the terms of employment, including notice period, but they don’t stop employers from doing layoffs or employees from quitting. Maybe the contract says that if the employee quits they must pay back any sign-on bonus and if the employer does layoffs they must pay a certain amount of severance.

      If the employees quit before starting, a contract can either not make a difference, or they can be an annoyance if the employee needs to work the notice period and the employer pay for it.

    8. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      Surely contracts would have to include a probationary period during which all parties can terminate without reason?

  6. Observer*

    #3 – candidates bailing

    but it’s still poor form, unprofessional, and a great way to burn bridges — largely because it’s massively inconvenient for us to count on someone showing up, plan for their onboarding, and reject all our other candidates, only to have to start all over again

    This issues for the employer are all true. But do employers think about the bridges THEY are burning when they do the exact same thing to a (prospective) employee? Because when an employer does this to an employee, it’s generally MORE that “massively inconvenient”. It’s generally a massive blow that could take years to overcome. And even a process that makes this a higher possibility, such as not doing necessary reference checking or background checks till AFTER the offer, is a massive burden for the prospective employee and fundamentally disrespectful.

    In a market where the power differential is not as high as it has historically been, it’s not surprising that some employees are saying that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

    But also, see if you can find out why people are bailing. It might give you the information you need to get the company to make appropriate changes.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      How often does an employer revoke a formal offer once it has been signed? Because the two times I’ve seen that happen, it resulted in lawsuits from the employee and in both cases, the employee won. Maybe this happens more often than I am aware of, but it’s not something I’ve seen much in the fields that I have worked in.

      1. Allonge*

        The two are not mutually exclusive – losing a lawsuit is unpleasant but still may be worth it in some cases for a company (I assume they are required to pay compensation, not forced to employ the person). It can be a price to pay for going with something different so late in the process.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Taking a lawsuit is also unpleasant, and that’s a large enough deterrent for most ordinary people.

      2. Testerbert*

        From my understanding, in the US most ‘formal offers’ are not a contract per se, just a letter detailing the terms of employment (pay, hours, other important details). As such, there isn’t any consequence for the employer revoking the offer, unless the employee had been induced to move or incur some other costs related to the offer (ie. company gave offer, employee relocated to the area on the basis of the job). In such a case they *might* be able to seek damages but it is not guaranteed.

      3. Llama Llama*

        Granted it was small stakes, but I most definitely was offered a job at a pretzel store as a teenager and they pulled the offer (because the girl didn’t leave?). So obviously since I have an example from 20 years ago, the answer is all the time.

        PS: I did feel like they burned bridges with me and I never ate at that pretzel place again (or much? It was 20 years ago).

        1. Texan In Exile*

          If you will give me the company name, I will also never eat there again in solidarity.

          1. The OTHER other*

            I have unknowingly been boycotting all pretzel places for decades, my sense of solidarity is THAT strong!

      4. Mockingjay*

        It’s happened to me! Twice. The first time was with a large aerospace corporation. I had accepted verbally, had received prelim paperwork, but had not yet given notice at Current Job. Aerospace Corp. implemented a hiring freeze (restructuring, bad quarter profit – I don’t remember exactly why) so my offer was pulled.

        Second time, federal contractor. During the interview, the prospective manager indicated that she had recently transferred from the commercial side of the house. I probed during the interview to make sure she understood contracting and queried several times explicitly whether this was a contingent offer, because I would only accept a position on a funded contract. Her assistant manager (who would be my daily supervisor and had plenty of experience on the federal program) asserted that the contract was in place.

        They flat-out lied. It was a contingent position and they didn’t win the contract. So I had the dubious pleasure of asking my current boss if I could keep my job, when I had given him notice only hours before. He did, but guess who was let go six months later during a round of layoffs?

        So yeah, I get walking away before you start, if you find something better, or steadier, or kinder…it’s not personal, it’s business.

        1. Government Contractor*

          They LIED about the contingent status of the position?! I hope that contracting company went out of business.

      5. J*

        My workplace revoked every single offer in March of 2020 and they fired most of their hires/promotions in 2020 pre-pandemic. It was absolutely awful. And they were a law firm with employment lawyers so they knew they’d crush anyone with legal bills if they tried to fight back. I was one of the people affected since I’d had a recent promotion and suddenly my years of service meant nothing, just like their word. So I have no problem pushing that attitude back to employers. I have to look out for myself because no one else will.

      6. RC+Rascal*

        It happens, especially during tight economic times. When I was in B-School it happened a lot.

        When I was first out of college I was working retail at the mall and had a co-worker for precisely this reason. She accepted another job, gave notice to her current employer, and the new employer revoked the offer. Old job would not take her back. She had no choice in the short term but work at the mall.

      7. glitter writer*

        Several major, very large tech companies you’ve heard of rescinded scads of offers in the first three quarters of this year because someone sneezed on the stock market and everyone freaked out. It was a very bad look for all those companies but it’s not going to hurt them in the long run with candidates because they’re so big and so high profile.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          “Someone sneezed on the stock market” is such a perfect way of putting it. I refuse to look at stock market movement in increments smaller than 6 months.

    2. Snow Globe*

      It’s far less common for an employer to revoke an offer than the other way around. And, yes, it is crappy, but it is not something that *most* employers do on the regular.

      1. Observer*

        What is your basis for this assertion?

        It’s not like employees do this on the regular either, the OP’s complaint notwithstanding.

        1. Lydia*

          This isn’t a representative sample, but there have been a few letters to Alison about it that she’s responded to. It sucks, it’s crap, and it happens, although I doubt it’s common.

    3. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      In anything grant funded all the damn time. Award came in at a lower amount, award didn’t happen period, scope of work changed, externally applied hiring freezes for political purposes meaning the grant money gets returned and the governor/county board/mayor gets to look cool for cutting waste by cutting positions the state/county/city even though they never were paying for the positions, etc.

      1. SQL Coder Cat*

        My first professional job was in public medical research. After 18 months I found out I was employed under a grant that had not been renewed. Every research job I could find in my city turned out to be funded under contracts with less than 2 years guaranteed funding. I ended up leaving research, because I couldn’t handle that kind of instability.

    4. Kyrielle*

      And even a process that makes this a higher possibility, such as not doing necessary reference checking or background checks till AFTER the offer, is a massive burden for the prospective employee and fundamentally disrespectful.

      Yup. When I accepted my current job, I signed an offer contingent on background check, and I told them up front and in how I signed it that my start date would be the Monday after two weeks after they cleared the contingency, because I was not giving notice until they cleared the contingency.

      Which they were fine with, and it worked out for everyone. But there are ways to handle such things well!

  7. RedinSC*

    LW3, I just had this happen for the first time. He accepted the offer and then a week before he was going to start, backed out.

    Like you said, it’s a pain in the butt. And now we start the whole process over, because we also didn’t have a lot of great candidates for this one, either.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      That’s a good point; I think if you also don’t have a lot of great candidates that’s a clear sign something is going on marketwise with supply and demand. I wonder if OP would have written in if they had a strong number two just waiting there in the wings.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        I’m betting no. If you had a slate of good candidates you’d just shrug and work down the list.

        1. RedinSC*

          The only real problem there is if you had already sent the thanks but no thanks, we went with another candidate messages.

          We had 3 weeks between accepting the offer and starting the job, and 2 week shad already gone by. So, who knows if any of the other candidates would still have been available, etc.

  8. FlyingAce*

    #4 – while I was on maternity leave last year, I was very happy to be invited to (and attend) my department’s holiday gathering (breakfast at a nice restaurant). Granted, it was towards the end of my leave; if it had been earlier, I would have likely skipped it (but would still have appreciated the invitation).

    I would *not* have been thrilled to be contacted for work-related stuff such as being asked to change meetings, though – they need to cut that out.

    1. Certaintroublemaker*

      Yeah, I don’t get the meeting thing at all. Just everyone decline the meeting on the holiday. If they want to hold it on a different day, an admin or whoever will chair can send out an invite for an ad hoc meeting on the replacement day. It’s not some arcane art that only the person on leave can accomplish.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Yeah, this looks like the person on leave was chairing or organizing the recurring meeting, so noone else could change it.
        For plannable absences, they should have transferred the organizer role to someone else (either outright orby cancelling the meeting and creating a new one).

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Yeah. I didn’t attend, but was appreciative of being invited to the holiday brunch while I was on mat leave.

      And I remember a colleague of mine once coming from her leave to attend a retirement party for someone she had worked with many years; I think in this case inviting her is the polite thing to do.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Yeah, for purely social events, like a holiday party or retirement party, a lot of people would really appreciate getting an invite, even if they’re on leave.

      I wouldn’t offer invitations to work-themed team building events, and the requests to do work tasks like change a meeting are just bizarre – someone else should have that responsibility when they are on leave.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        With many types of leave, and especially maternity, someone might be thrilled for the opportunity to talk to other adults.

    4. amoeba*

      I’ve actually heard friends on maternity leave complain and feel left out for not being invited for stuff like holiday or farewell parties – and would probably feel the same way!

      1. Sylvan*

        I’ve heard that, too. Even if they don’t end up attending, an invitation would help them feel included.

      2. snarkfox*

        Honestly, part of the reason I’m childfree is because I don’t think I can handle the way society strips women of their identities as soon as they birth a child. If anything, I’d think it’d be rude to exclude someone just because they had a baby. Like, they’re not dead or incapacitated! They’re still a person who might want to attend a social event, whether it’s work related or not. I think the reminder that you’re a human with your own needs and other roles besides “mommy” seems incredibly important to mental health postpartum. Even if you can’t make it–it’s nice to be invited.

        1. JustaTech*

          Well, depending on how recently you gave birth and how it went you really might be incapacitated/healing.

          I’ve already told my work that I won’t be attending any of our holiday events (I’m on the committee so they really wanted to sign me up for everything), because I have no idea what I will be up for (physically/mentally/emotionally/logistically) and honestly the last few years our holiday party hasn’t been worth the effort to attend.

          My work is strictly no-contact (you’re locked out of your email and the corporate network), which I’m guessing means that if anyone actually needs me they’ll use my personal email. (I was kind of hoping to have just enough access to delete emails, but I’d rather have a thousand emails than give my VP the ability to pester me.)

    5. Bagpuss*

      Yes, I would think that invitations to purely social events or inclusion in mailings which were for something like a newsletter where it includs things like news abotu new joiners / people retiring etc would be reaonable, but anything which involved you in carrying out a work function, however minor, wouldn’t

    6. learnedthehardway*

      Agreed – when I was on leave, I appreciated being invited to events, and that there was no pressure to attend them. It felt like my manager and team were keeping me in mind.

      I wouldn’t mind having been asked the odd question, if it was a business necessity, but would not have been happy about being asked to do work.

    7. MsClaw*

      ”even getting an invite would bother me!” is a bit overboard.
      1. It’s not unusual for ‘Bob is retiring, join us for punch and pie’ type invites to go to everyone in the office/group/etc regardless of who’s in or out of the office.
      2. OP may not care, but if Layla has worked with Bob for 6 years, she might feel really slighted to not get the invite to his send off, even if she isn’t up for a party given she’s home with a 4-week-old.
      3. It is *incredibly easy* to ignore such emails if you’re not interested, especially if you’re not coming into the office.

      The meetings thing is dumb but my guess is that they are using outlook or something similar where only the author can change the meeting. We run into this a lot when people are out or leave and then we have some sort of recurring invite that everyone has to delete off their calendars.

      1. Vinessa*

        OP may not care, but if Layla has worked with Bob for 6 years, she might feel really slighted to not get the invite to his send off, even if she isn’t up for a party given she’s home with a 4-week-old.

        I think this is key. The OP is letting her own lack of interest in these events cloud the issue, even though there’s concrete proof that at least one person on leave is indeed interested.

        It makes more sense to invite everyone and let people opt-out rather than assume certain people aren’t interested and exclude them.

    8. glitter writer*

      Yeah, when I was on maternity leave with my first, several years ago, my team invited me out for a social lunch about six weeks in, so they could meet the baby and so I could get out of the house and see grown-ups. (Most of them had children and knew what maternity leave was like.) It was perfect: low key, only 90 minutes out of the house, including the drive there and back, so it wasn’t hard to nurse before and after. I appreciated that a lot.

    9. snoopythedog*

      I was sad not to be invited to my team’s holiday party/event/zoom/whatever last winter when I was on maternity leave. In the future, if I have more children, I’ll make it clear to my boss that I’d love to get social invites while on leave. Here in Canada, you really aren’t supposed to contact your employee when they are out on parental leave and I think my company was really trying to respect that (even though I reached out with a few friendly emails).

  9. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

    #2 – most of my experience is public sector (and not US), but my institution has to post the full salary band, and our software doesn’t allow amending it. BUT, we won’t hire externally above the mid-point, and have an entire structure about how it should take a new person four years to reach the mid-point (which is usually about 40-45% of the way up the band, which are generally ~25-30k wide, except at the highest levels). But we also don’t tell anyone that, so there’s a huge advantage to know someone on the inside – otherwise you’re looking at bands that don’t reflect what you might get paid. It’s for sure an annoyance both ways, but for us, there’s nothing that can be done. If you’re applying to public sector, it might be worth trying to dig around to find out more before putting the effort into applying, or searching your network for someone who can explain the norms/rules.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      This is not uncommon in US public sector jobs as well. When I worked in State Government, we were obligated to list the Grade of the job, but the grade was NOT the starting salary. The starting salary was the bottom 5 steps of the grade. Most grades were a range of 30 to 50K, so huge. Anyway, this caused no end of confusion, so we started posting the equivalent hourly pay to attempt to clarify the system, but that still caused confusion. People would see the grade and think that the hourly pay was too low, based on the grade, even though the hourly range was more accurate.

      1. doreen*

        I’m confused – when you say you had to list the grade of the job, do you mean you had to list that the job was Grade 10 and the salary range was 30-50K or something else? I can see people who are unfamiliar with the system thinking that they will start at the high end of the range even if that never happens – but I don’t get what you mean by “people would see the grade and think the hourly pay was too low”

        1. Ellis Bell*

          People generally see what they want to see, so if they sae “30-50k” posted, and they liked the high end of that range, they would internalise as truth the idea: “I can make 50k at this job”. Then, when they see the hourly rate for the 30k post, they think “That’s definitely an error because 50k doesn’t work out as that hourly”. They are not going to do the extra “aha” thinking of “Oh they must be starting at 30k”.

        2. The Rafters*

          Someone from the outside would make the lower amount. If it’s a promotional opportunity for an existing employee, the range would be higher. Existing employee may already be making more than the low range of the upgrade due to length of time in their current grade. Government won’t pay an employee less for a promotion, so they have to offer an amount at least equal to, if not more than their current pay. The person starting from the outside should expect the lower amount, an existing employee can expect to be paid a higher amount. It can be confusing to an outsider (or insider for that matter), so I hope I explained it clearly.

          1. Chilipepper Attitude*

            At my city job, the pay would go down to the lower, “starting” portion of the pay band. So you could get a promotion and be paid less than you were in the lower ranked position!

            1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

              Same at my state and county jobs. One place had the added twist that internal candidates could only make 5% more if they promoted so some would make less than the bottom of the new position’s band. External candidates could negotiate to a degree within the band, so a ton of people would quit and then apply for the promotion position if they could gut out the 90 day wait time to become “external”. Yes, it was as inefficient as it sounds

    2. GammaGirl1908*

      I work for the US federal government, and in my observation, this is the case. There is a salary band, and there do exist circumstances under which you can start close to the top of it, but almost universally, if you are coming in externally, those circumstances will not be occurring. A GS-13 step 9/10 moving from agency to agency to another GS-13 job will get the top of the GS-13 salary band. In almost no other case do you start at the top of the GS-13 band.

      So, you need to be a federal employee already AND already be almost or actually at that same salary level to get that salary. Someone coming in from outside can’t create those same circumstances, so even though that number exists and is possible, it’s almost impossible if you are coming in from the private sector. They may advertise the job to the outside world as $81,000-105,000, but special circumstances have to exist for you to hit the $105,000.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Does your pay escalate towards the top of that band if you stay in the job, though? Because that’s what “£35-43k” means to me in the UK public sector— you’ll probably start at £35k, but you’ll move up that scale until you top out at £43k+cost of living increases in about 5 years. It’s a knowing that it’s a range for the whole job, not a range for a starting salary.

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Yes. Being a step 9 or 10 means you’ve been in that job for several years already. You likely started at a step 1, and now, many years later, you’re at step 9.

          An outside person seeing the pay range might assume that they could make a case for coming close to $105,000 with private sector experience or education, but pretty much the only way to get close to the top of the pay scale is to work your way there in this job or a similar one in the government.

        2. Tau*

          Huh. My natural assumption when I see a range posted is that it is possible for someone hired for this position to get anywhere within the range. Stuff like promotion opportunities, the salary band, etc. is something that can be discussed in the interview but is less important than the immediate “how much could I be earning?” So seeing a range in the posting and then being told it’s only possible to get the bottom would come across as actively deceptive.

          Of course, I’m in a field where it’s common for people to only stay two years or even less at a given job. In that context salary band info is really not that helpful anyway.

          1. Sylvan*

            That’s what I thought, too! I haven’t seen opportunities for higher pay through raises lumped into the salary information in job listings. Sometimes they’re described separately, which is good to see, but usually they’re not included at all.

          2. Mid*

            When a see a range for non-government jobs, that’s my assumption as well. If I see a range listed for a job that isn’t clearly a government position, and therefore graded, I would assume the entire range is what I could make from the day of hiring.

            I do appreciate the slight trend I’ve been seeing for both government and non-government jobs that say “Hiring range is $XX-YY, and we intend to hire at $XX-XY” which is a nice amount of transparency and lets people know that while $YY is possible, it’s unlikely.

          3. The OTHER Other*

            I agree, the job posting should list the salary someone hired will actually likely make, not what some hypothetical unicorn candidate with 10 years of experience in the job already MIGHT make, or what you MIGHT a make after several years working there. Likewise, if you have different salary bands for internal and external hires, differentiate that in the postings. Presumably these jobs are being posted externally—post the actual salary an external hire would likely get, and leave your secret internal hire salary band to your intranet, employee newsletters, emails from HR, etc.

            1. bamcheeks*

              With public sector jobs it’s not so much what you MIGHT earn after several years, but what you WILL earn. Every job is graded across about 5-6 salary spine points, and you move up one spine point every year until you reach the top for your grade. (Generally, the points themselves move up around 1-3% a year for inflation too, although we’ve been well behind inflation since the Tories came to power.) So I know that I’ll start on £35k, go up to £36.5k after a year, then £38k, £39.5, and top out at £42k after six years and can either sit on £42k (+inflation) until I retire or apply for a job at the next grade up.

              Since all universities have the same pay spine but don’t grade jobs in exactly the same way, it also means I can look at comparable jobs at other universities and see how it fits across the pay spine. I couldn’t do that if it just said £35k because I wouldn’t be able to see where that sat in the broader pay spine.

        3. just some guy*

          This is also how it works in the Australian public sector – just about the only time you’d start above the bottom of the range is to avoid a pay cut if you were transferring from another government job, but you automatically progress towards the top of the range (can be anywhere from 1-5 years or so, depending on the agency and the level).

          BTW – for Australia at least, you can get detailed info on public service pay and conditions by searching on the agency name plus “enterprise agreement”. For instance, here’s the info on Treasury:

          So for instance, somebody who started in Treasury at APS4 (grad positions are typically APS3 or 4) in June 2021 would seen the position advertised as “$70842-74548”.

          They would start out at APS4.1, earning $70842; in November 2022 that goes up to $72188 (general increase for inflation). After their first year or so, they would move up to APS4.2, now making $75964.

          Higher-level positions may have more pay points, so taking longer to reach the top of the range, but it’s still a guaranteed progression barring unusual circumstances.

      2. L.H. Puttgrass*

        “A GS-13 step 9/10 moving from agency to agency to another GS-13 job will get the top of the GS-13 salary band. In almost no other case do you start at the top of the GS-13 band.”

        I don’t think it’s quite as rare as that. Agencies can use what’s called a “superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority” to start a new employee at higher than the bottom step of the grade. It happens a lot with lawyers moving from BigLaw into government, for example, where even GS-15/10 is less than half what they’d be making as a firm.

        Agencies can choose whether or not to use this flexibility. Some will negotiate starting step, some won’t. But for anyone considering moving from the private sector to federal government, it’s definitely worth asking if the starting step is negotiable (BTW, do this before accepting the final offer. Once you’ve started work as a fed, you can’t negotiate salary anymore).

        1. GammaGirl1908*

          Yes, which is why I said almost. It’s possible under certain circumstances to start above a step 1, which is exactly what I said, and I gave one example.

          But it’s unlikely. Everyone’s not a lawyer, and lawyers going from BigLaw to government isn’t everyone. Those are special circumstances that don’t occur for most people (and even everyone in that circumstance doesn’t get a step increase).

          Average Joes coming in from Average Joe-land, which is most people, aren’t going to get that level of HR gymnastics. Most people who see a federal government salary range saying $85,000-105,000 are starting at $85,000.

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            Given the number of lawyers in the federal government (we’re everywhere!), it’s far from “almost impossible,” though. And it’s not just lawyers. Basically, if you’re in the private sector, moving into government, and making more than step 1 of the grade, it’s at least worth asking if it’s possible to start at a higher step.

            I say this because lots of people who get offered federal government jobs don’t even know that it’s possible to negotiate a higher step, so “forget it, it almost never happens” is (1) not actually all that helpful, since it would discourage people from at least asking, and (2) wrong (depending on the agency).

      3. to varying degrees*

        When I worked for local government it was the same understanding, The range for that position title was, regardless of experience, education, whatever, that position only paid a salary up to what was listed. If you got hired at that highest amount, you either had to move to a different job or the position had to be re-classified to a different position/description title in a different pay grade. Otherwise, the person caps out and that’s it.

      4. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        “…those circumstances will not be occurring.” LOL . Beautiful turn of phrase, GammaGirl.

    3. Chilipepper Attitude*

      “It’s possible that what’s listed in the ad is the salary band for the role, without mentioning that everyone starts at the bottom of it, but either way it’s deceptive and disrespectful of people’s time.“

      This is the case for my (former) city job. Because of this, we lost candidates at the last step of hiring all the time. Even internal hires only got the low end of the band as the starting salary. So when candidates tried to negotiate salary, they were told no, starting salary is x, that range is the pay band. This was intended to create equity to avoid those with better negotiating skills getting higher salaries than others; I’m not sure it did anything but lose us skilled workers! And unlike the UK commenter here, you will not move up the very broad band very quickly.

    4. Library_Lady*

      I was coming here to say this! I’m in local government in the US, but I have to list the entire salary range for that position/grade when posting. At least I do have the option of also listing a *hiring* range, which I usually put as the “low-to-mid” numbers, though I know I can’t realistically hire about the lowest number unless there’s major extenuating circumstances.

    5. doreen*

      I worked for both a city and a state government, and in both, nearly everyone hired from the outside started and the bottom of the salary band. But there were exceptions based on the job and/or the candidate – for example, someone being promoted was guaranteed a certain percentage for each grade they were promoted, so someone being promoted from a grade 21 to a grade 24 would start somewhere in the middle of the range. If an agency couldn’t find an attorney willing to work as an administrative law judge for $88K, they might get approval to hire someone at a higher salary within the range.

    6. seeeeeps*

      This was my assumption. At my public institution, salary ranges aren’t in the posting, but the grade is posted and then you have to google for the public listing of the correlating pay band. I’ve had many an external person think they were going to negotiate for the top third of the pay band (or higher) either not realizing that was the lifetime maximum for the position or not believing it applies to them.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That seems weird to me, outside of gov’t positions. I wish there was a paragraph in the job description explaining it, I guess, because it wouldn’t be intuitive to me. That said, in my nonprofit experience, organizations sometimes list ranges that they would only offer to “a unicorn” but would probably never give to an actual candidate in front of them. So if OP hasn’t already had a better-paying more senior role than the one they’re interviewing, $55K may indeed be what the org was willing to pay them, even if the job description goes up to $80K in theory. It’s crappy.

        1. seeeeeps*

          Public uni, so state gov’t adjacent. I tell as many people as I can how it works, having been on both sides of negotiations. Drives me crazy.

          Our pay bands recently went up and a few positions moved up pay grades, but now I’m seeing even more subjective restrictions from HR within the ranges. Used to be you could go to the top of the first third no questions asked, but now they’re coming back with “their PhD doesn’t mean anything without REAL work experience, sry” making it really difficult to be competitive.

          1. Indubitably Delicious*

            Also at a public university, and I will spare you my current rant about pay bands, but definitely a similar situation. And when I was hired (into the merit system) 15ish years ago, I was told they couldn’t advance my starting pay for a master’s degree because there were apparently too many other clerk-typists with master’s degrees.

    7. Clobberin' Time*

      but for us, there’s nothing that can be done

      Surely there is something which could be done, namely being transparent with candidates about what the salary band really means, instead of keeping quiet and letting a select few find out from insiders?

  10. Strawberry House*

    Where I am parental leave up to a year is legally guaranteed, with the right to request an extension to 2 years. Some parents taking a longer period of leave want to completely break contact, but in my industry most opt for maintaining a level of involvement. Workplaces that block (mostly women) from accessing work systems while on parental leave significantly disrupt their careers (in my industry).

    I wouldn’t remove colleagues on leave from invites or mailing lists unless I knew they were not interested in knowing about things. Even if they don’t come, they may want to know that Maeve is leaving and have the option of coming if they wanted.

    For the calendar issue, I don’t see anything wrong with asking them to give ownership of the meetings to someone else. If they aren’t checking their emails they won’t see it, if they are it’s simple to give someone else control.

    1. Vinessa*

      Agreed on the part about the mailing lists. If the LW is thinking that people on leave should be removed from mailing lists for the duration of their leave so they don’t get any group emails, that’s probably not a realistic expectation unless you only have a handful of people on these lists and can ensure that the employees will be added back on when they return from leave.

      1. Empress Ki*

        I don’t understand how they receive these emails though. Assuming this mailing list uses work email, not personal email, all they have do do is not check their work emails until they are back from leave. Unless they are expected to check their work email while on leave, which is totally unreasonable.

        1. doreen*

          It might not be an email list – I retired in January 2022 and in July , I was surprised to receive a snail-mailed letter from my former employer. Prior to 2020, there was an all-day meeting for everyone at my level and above, followed by a BBQ. Of course, it wasn’t held in 2020 and 2021 but when they resumed holding it, they invited everyone who had retired since the last one to attend. At the same job, retired and transferred coworkers who were no longer on emailing lists were notified of social events taking place in their former office by friends who had their personal contact info.

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Some companies completely disable employee email accounts while they are on leave for medical/parental leave, pretty much any reason beyond regular PTO/vacation.

    2. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      If there’s an IT team, or whoever administers their email system, they have the powers to move/cancel meetings as well.

      1. LittleMarshmallow*

        It feels unnecessarily cumbersome to go through IT for that…. Just leave the old invite alone and appoint someone to temporarily manage it on a separate invite, like whoever leads the meeting in the absence of the meeting owner. Why on earth is it necessary to contact someone on leave to move a recurring meeting that lands on a holiday once or involve IT…

    3. Mangled Metaphor*

      In the UK we have KIT days, or Keep In Touch days, where the parent on leave comes in to work (or remotes on, or whatever) for a day to catch up with their team and to keep them in the loop prior to their full return. These are typically towards the end of the person’s maternity leave (since paternity leave is typically much shorter (sigh)) and while they are considered to be “working”, it’s usually limited to short meetings where they are given updates about any changes that will affect them on their full return, or answering a few pressing emails. Not team working events, not project work. Nothing that will take longer than 8 hours to complete from start to finish (since KIT days do not have to be consecutive).

      1. Yellow+Flotsam*

        That’s an awesome idea. Making them formal would also help manage workloads, provide a transition back into the office, and cover OHS issues.

        1. Mangled Metaphor*

          Oh, paternity leave is also entitled to KIT days, but they aren’t often used because the leave is often that much shorter.

          That said, my coworker just took three months paternity and used three KIT days (one per month) because he needed to read and sign off a specific mid-monthly report (it wasn’t worth reassigning the approval process since he agreed and wanted the KITs). This was the *only* thing he did apart from clearing his inbox of the company-wide engagement emails (“get ready for Halloween/Christmas”; “here’s this week’s canteen menu”, etc.) to make his full return to work less overwhelming.

          1. LittleMarshmallow*

            If people really find this beneficial then great, but to me this practice smacks of lacking boundaries. Why can’t the employer just allow for some transition days when they get back instead of having days where people work on their leave?

            1. Mangled Metaphor*

              It’s optional. I’m not sure about the paternity leave, but every woman on maternity I’ve worked with has jumped at the chance for a grown up conversation that wasn’t exclusively about their baby for the first time in nearly twelve months.
              Maybe that says more about the women I work with…

              Many people also coordinate their KIT days with their child’s tester days at nursery.

              And I know one woman who took all her KIT days at the end, pretty much as you describe, so she did three weeks of three days before a final week off and then returning at 0.75 FTE.

              1. UKDancer*

                Same. All of my staff who have had babies have been delighted to come in for KIT days and been fairly proactive on the issue of when they wanted to take them so they coincided with the office party and nursery days.

                But they are optional. If someone said they didn’t want them that would be fine but in my experience all the women did.

      2. Empress Ki*

        I live in the UK. I never heard of that. When my co-workers went on maternity leave, we haven’t heard of them for nearly one year.

        1. MsSolo UK*

          It’s possible they’re happening out of sight – just employee/manager meetings – or that your employer isn’t making its employees aware they’re entitled to them (you get paid for KIT days, so once your maternity pay has finished they’re definitely worth taking). It may also be that most of your coworkers just aren’t fussed; if the role doesn’t change very much, of if this isn’t their first maternity leave, people are often less likely to take them.

          1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

            They are only taken by agreement of both the employee and company, though, so one can’t just unilaterally decide to take a “KIT” day.

            Interestingly they are limited to a max of 10 and taking in excess of that can bring company paid maternity to an end!

    4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      If they are using Outlook/Exchange, there is no official way to change ownership of a meeting. It’s strange that the email/calendar system most widely usedin the corporate world can’t do this, but there you go (I’d blame it on complacency for having a near-monopoly for way too long).
      You can change ownership of the whole calendar, or end the old meeting series early (change the end date to now) and have the new owner create a new series.

      1. The Rafters*

        True you can’t change meeting ownership, but you can change permissions so that another person can make changes to your meetings. There are different levels for that too. 2 of my coworkers have full access to my calendar, though I can mark some things personal so no one else can see what’s on that time slot except for me. I have the same access to their schedules.

  11. Language Lover*

    lw #3

    This happened to us recently where we had two people quit/not start for a role we had open. I understand why it happened for each of them but it was difficult.

    I don’t understand what you mean by “start over?” Yes, we had rejected all of our candidates when we hired the first person. But when the employees quit or changed their minds, we just reached out to our second choice and eventually our third. Did you not have good second or third options?

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      At my workplace (and others I know), once the offer letter is signed, the job officially closes. If the candidate rejects the offer, you can go to the second choice, third, etc. So, if a person bails after signing the letter, you have to reopen the position and start from scratch. You can invite the candidates who were finalists before to reapply, but you still have to go through the whole process again. This is bound by Union hiring rules. It is super frustrating.

      1. Roland*

        Sounds very frustrating and also silly. But OP is in software so it’s incredibly unlikely a union is involved. They might have silly rules but if so they should advocate to get rid of them and the company should be ae to do that.

        1. AnonArchivist*

          Often these sorts of systems are designed to protect Union members. Like the job has to first reopen to Union and then gets to reopen to the general public, so they don’t have much incentive to change them. At least, this is how it worked when I worked in City Gov many years ago.

      2. seeeeeps*

        Yes, we would have to do this, too. And I would be not pleased, because even if my #2 choice was like “YES ABSOLUTELY!” they would have to resubmit their app in a process that will take at least a month (two weeks at the earliest, but the way things have been moving within our system lately…can you tell I’m bitter??).

        That said, if they got a better offer I’d be merely frustrated with life in general, not mad AT them.

        1. Observer*

          Well, that’s on the company, not the almost employee. It’s not their responsibility to ensure that a potential employer is not negatively affected by the rules that a company chooses to put in place.

    2. Observer*

      But when the employees quit or changed their minds, we just reached out to our second choice and eventually our third. Did you not have good second or third options?

      That’s a really good question, and one that the OP should really think about. Because if they are doing this much hiring without any of their positions having a single decent second choice, something is off. It may not be something the company can do anything about. On the other hand, it could be that the reason they don’t have a good second choice is related to the reason so many people are bailing.

  12. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    With OP 1, I’m wondering if there is a union involved? My spouse once worked at a unionized place, and a retaliatory complaint was also made. Because of the union there was a very specific process to follow when someone needed to be let go.

    And yes, even the union was glad to be rid of that guy once he was gone, but the process was there to protect all employees, not just the popular ones.

    1. Warrior princess Xena*

      I am 95% certain that even if it is a union business there is a clause in there about deliberate misreporting and/or fraud. This isn’t just “Jane and Anna are having a disagreement over which color of pen to use and Jane is annoying everyone”. This is “Jane has put Anna’s profession and the health and safety of patients at risk by deliberately filing a false report and has since admitted to it”. I’d be curious to hear from union administrators but from what I know there is an abbreviated process in place for firing people who are actively dangerous

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        In the case with my spouse the complaint could have lead to the loss of a required license – so it was definitely severe. The process was there to ensure that the complaint truly was retaliatory in nature and not a very poorly time but legitimate complaint. Spouse was called as a witness in the process, not one of the involved parties.

      2. Yellow+Flotsam*

        My guess is you still need to have an investigation, and demonstrate that it actually was a false complaint.

        Observing bruises and reporting that they could have been due to a colleague is something workers are encouraged to do. A workplace would need to be very careful of how they handled that and ensured that it doesn’t lead to the perception that if you report a colleague you will be sacked.

        1. bamcheeks*

          But if they can suspend Anna whilst they investigated reports of bruising (sounds like good practice!), you’d assume the same would apply to reports of false reports.

          The process LW has described doesn’t sound like an investigation, but a behaviour management process, which is usually about establishing and documenting poor performance where none of it arises to the level of instant dismissal. That seem pretty casual for something as serious as lying about patient safety!

          1. JSPA*

            There’s real risk in making “reported bruises” any sort of problem, even when it’s coupled with, “throwing shade at someone I distrust and hate.”

            I can see a situation where they think, “Jane convinced herself that the bruises were caused by Anna. She also believed that people locally were covering for Anna because people like Anna, and hate her. Even if that belief was deeply colored by her broader dislike of Anna, and Jane’s combattive nature–even if she straight-out admitted that she reported it because she thinks Anna is evil and incompetent, not because the bruises were in-and-of-themselves very remarkable–we don’t want to make ‘insistent reporting of bruises’ a firing offense.”

            Protecting patients is paramount, after all, and Jane’s main fault is over-identifying with her patients and being insistent on their behalf. That’s what puts this in a different class from most of the other “instant firing” offenses.

            Compare a situation where someone actually is the sole person who is working up to code in an otherwise careless and lax workplace. They despise the behavior of their coworkers, they distrust and deplore the management, and they escalate complaints, because they’re willing to escalate anything that might bring the level of dysfunction to the notice of someone with the power to do something. If you were a computer doing the analysis, that situation and this situation would look pretty much identical.

            To be clear, i’m not saying that’s what’s happening here. I’m saying that you need procedures that allow for this scenario, and the cost of those procedures is that you don’t instantly fire Jane.

            1. bamcheeks*

              I don’t know if you’re disagreeing with me or not! I think the evidence of potentially malicious and dishonest behaviour here is “It was also determined that Jane, based on things she said when interviewed, had made the report in retaliation for her ongoing personal issues with Anna”, not the report itself.

              “Made a safety report in good faith that was investigated and no major concerns were identified” shouldn’t be a disciplinary action, completely agree with you there. “Said things that suggested the safety report was not made in good faith and may have been malicious” is serious enough to warrant suspension and investigation, IMO, and doesn’t preclude the outcome “I made the report in good faith because my beef with Anna made me think it wouldn’t be taken seriously at a local level”.

              1. Ellis Bell*

                Going just by things said is not a smoking gun of Jane’s guilt though, more of a “definite concern”. Places where you want people to report harm really, really do not want to get a reputation for firing and bullying whistle-blowers. Even the optics of such a thing can create danger. It’s better to do more due dilligence and see if the issue between Jane and Anna is because of Jane being petty or an issue of professional concern about Anna. Even if you’re pretty sure what a close look will reveal, it makes sense to do it.

                1. Office Lobster DJ*

                  I agree. “Only doing her job -whistleblower fired over deep concern for patients!” would be a heck of a story, and one that could do real harm to the company.

                  Internally, I wouldn’t expect every employee in the company to know the whole story (or, who knows, Jane may even have sympathizers). As you said, even a hint of those optics is not good. I don’t fault the company for taking a little more time to do things a certain way.

                2. bamcheeks*

                  “Suspended pending an investigation” is pretty common in healthcare, though. It’s horribly stressful for an individual, and you don’t want to do it lightly, but when there’s an issue that affects safety or probity it’s not unusual for someone to be suspended (on pay) whilst an investigation is carried out and a decision is made.

              2. SomebodyElse*

                I think it’s both! In this case it could very well be that Jane filed a malicious complaint at the same time it’s also true that the company needs to be careful about the optics of an instant fire scenario that may scare off future reports that aren’t malicious.

                Remember, not everyone is going to have all the details so someone may see Jane getting fired after hearing she made a complaint to corporate after local management didn’t do anything to Anna. Later that employee finds themselves needing to advocate for a patient in a similar, but non malicious capacity and hesitates or doesn’t follow through because they remember (or heard 2nd/3rd hand) about Jane being fired after reporting an incident that local management had already investigated.

                The OP seems to have a lot of details about this, but does everyone have the same details?

                Whatever happens the management and corporate team needs to be careful about how this is viewed and what impressions/perceptions are left with others who may be watching all of this from the sidelines without the full story.

                1. bamcheeks*

                  I am slightly confused by this conversation because I’ve said “suspended pending investigation” three times and there are three different people responding to say, “it would be very bad optics to fire someone for making a report!”

                  Suspension and firing are *really* different things to me. Since LW mentioned Anna being suspended pending an investigation, I assumed it meant the same thing in the US as it does where I am. But is it actually not the same thing and suspension would be tantamount to firing someone in the US?

                2. Ellis Bell*

                  Yes Bamcheeks, but that suspension would still be in the context of being punished for being a whistleblower. They need to *investigate* something else, something that is nothing to do with her raising a concern, then fire her for that non-whistleblowing reason.

                3. Doreen*

                  No, “suspended” means the same thing in the US as you mean, but firing is always a potential outcome of a “suspension pending investigation”. People won’t typically be “suspended pending investigation” for behavior that would only result in a suspension if the investigation proved that it happened – suspended pending investigation usually means it’s dangerous in some way to have that person working while the investigation happens. Someone might be suspended pending investigation if they are accused of assaulting someone – but not usually if the accusation is about falsifying records of time worked. And that means firing is almost always a possibility when the investigation is complete.

                4. bamcheeks*

                  Hm, that’s interesting– I think most times I have encountered suspension, it has been a genuine “we don’t know what the outcome will be, but the alleged offence is serious enough that we don’t want you working whilst we figure it out in case you do more harm”. Making a retaliatory report on a safety issue would meet that standard, I would have thought– it calls into question someone’s probity and their commitment to patient safety.

                5. Aitch Arr*

                  I disagree with Doreen, at least from a healthcare perspective.

                  I worked in healthcare for almost 10 years (large hospital systems) and with any employee relations or safety investigation, the employee would be put on a paid leave pending investigation.

              3. JSPA*

                I’m saying that someone can be motivated by a mixture of malice and good faith; and that (malice-warped) good faith is a thing, too.

                It’s a continuum.

                At one end, theres the person who loves their coworkers, and is horribly shocked to have to report that someone they value and treasure has unaccountably done something wrong. Zero malice; 100% good faith.

                At the other end, there’s someone who makes up an event that didn’t even happen, to frame a hated co-worker. (Those are not bruises, they’re ink stains.) 100% premeditated malice, 0% good faith.

                And in the middle, there are the increasingly messy cases.

                Ever been somewhere, where you feel that your coworkers are screwups, and you feel they feel you’re a screwup, and everything is fraught? Channel that, and consider the following scenarios:

                Someone’s judgement is colored by being at BEC level with a coworker they don’t like.

                Someone has a warped level of risk assessment.

                Someone is paranoid.

                Someone believes that if they see bruises and don’t accuse someone else, they themselves will be accused.

                These can be independent, or multiple of them can be in play. At which point, the employer has to decide:

                Is it better to encourage people to report, even if their views are quite possibly warped by personal animus / professional distrust? Or is it better to quash reports, unless everyone feels deep respect for everyone else? IMO, the second option is more problematic. Dangerous workplaces are also emotionally-poisoned workplaces. Theres no disinterested onlooker.

                Does Jane assume Anna’s a screw up because Jane hates Anna “just because”? Does Jane hate Anna because she’s seen Anna screw up in ways that hurt patients? A bit of both?

                If Jane thinks (perhaps with some justification) that Anna is careless (note that Anna WAS sent for additional training!), but Jane also feels that “Anna is a waste of oxygen and a bad human being and I hate her perfume and she microwaves sardines”–how do you apportion the causality? All of it, together, is why a Jane will report an Anna.

                Finding elements of bad faith is more expexcted than not; and an element of bad faith does not mean that only bad faith was involved.

                Furthermore, “this must be reported” can be done in good faith, while “it must have been Anna” can be done in bad faith.

        2. ecnaseener*

          LW said there was an investigation which found both that Anna wasn’t at fault and that Jane’s complaint was retaliatory. So the investigation is all done, unless I’m misreading it and LW just meant that the first investigation uncovered sufficient cause for a second investigation.

      3. linger*

        It could be a little more subtle than the “false report” of the headline, because Jane started with no information about the cause of the injuries, other than the conclusions of the internal investigation. The company’s response is consistent with viewing the situation as follows: “Jane made an external complaint which was consistent with injuries observed to the patient, but not with results of an internal investigation, which Jane did not trust … because she doesn’t trust Anna or anyone else at this company”. This does not necessarily rise to the level of malicious or deliberately false reporting, so the company still has to tread very carefully around the optics of being seen to fire a whistleblower. However, it does indicate a very high level of bad faith assumed by Jane, which if it cannot be corrected should see Jane “managed out”.

  13. Nadine Fisher*

    Re #4. I know of a very large law firm that (pre-Covid) hosted monthly morning teas, for people on long-term leave- parental, illness, injury. They included an update on all the complex, ongoing cases the firm was handling, as well as office news/ gossip. There was no pressure to attend, but those who did really appreciated it, personally and professionally.

    1. Anon in Aotearoa*

      Oh my, I would have LOVED that. I know it’s not for everyone, but I felt so isolated from my professional self when I was on parental leave (nine months, twice). My company cut off my email and didn’t contact me in any way, for the whole duration. Even after I’d said to them after the first time that I wanted to stay in contact the next time.

    2. J*

      I love that idea. I previously worked for a large law firm and basically only people who had strong social connections would get updates during their leave. We had a support staff parental leave policy where those people were especially harmed by coming back to all brand new updates and no connection to even let them know things like managing partner announced retirement and such. I could definitely see the advantage, especially as firms are looking to alumni programs for similar updates.

    3. JustaTech*

      That would be really nice, though I don’t think my company is nearly large enough to make that work (I think it’s likely we go whole quarters with no one off on long-term leave).

      I’ll talk to my coworkers about keeping me in the loop (informally) on the big important stuff while I’m out.

    4. Anon for this one*

      I’m not sure how “no pressure” and “appreciated it professionally” can both be true. If it’s professionally helpful, then there’s pressure to attend – your career will suffer without it! I’m coming at this from the “illness/injury” side rather than the “parental” side – my son is adopted and I got basically no parental leave (had to negotiate even to take unpaid leave, since I was at a small company at the time that didn’t have to do FMLA), but am currently about two weeks away from needing short-term disability for medical treatments. I would be FURIOUS if I suffered professionally because I couldn’t come in for tea. You can’t have “this is optional, but will help you professionally” without having “This is optional, but will hurt you professionally if you don’t go”.

  14. Vinessa*

    For #4, did the higher-ups just forget that the employee was on leave, or maybe didn’t even know? I’m in a department of about 40 people, and my director and SVP have definitely asked us where employees on leave are. It’s not that they think the employees are skipping events or falling down on the job—they just don’t have everyone’s absences at top of mind.

    Assuming that you told the higher-ups that she was on leave and they accepted that, I don’t see that as as a boundary violation, just forgetfulness.

  15. Allonge*

    LW4 – in my experience there were plenty of young mothers who were happy to attend an optional work-related thing as it was a chance to meet other adults and get out of the fairly closed-in all-baby-all-the-time months for a bit. If this happens no more than once a month, and you get an email you are free to delete/ignore, or better yet you can opt out from, it’s no biggie.

    For changing a meeting request(!!!) is a whole other thing – even if it’s a meeting wiht externals, one can explain that Andie is off with a baby, obviously we don’t have a meeting on 4 July and Laurie sent you the replacement meeting. For internals only, please decline the original meeting request and accept the one Laurie just sent. This is 100% more concerning as there are easy workarounds*, so it shows that negative amounts of care were taken not to have to contact someone on leave.

    *Yes, I am sure there is one special system where the thing I just proposed does not work. Something else will. Also, send recurrent meeting invites from shared mailboxes so this does not happen.

    1. Empress Matilda*

      >>Also, send recurrent meeting invites from shared mailboxes so this does not happen.

      Unrelated to the OP’s question, but I *really* wish Outlook would get on board with the idea of multiple people “owning” meeting requests! It happens all the time, that the person who set the meeting is not available for some reason, and the only way to change it is for everybody to decline the original request and somebody else sends a new one.

      It’s not the biggest work problem in the world, but it’s also a pretty common one. And it can’t be that hard to fix, can it? Either “all internal invitees” should have the ability to change the meeting, or they could create a designated invitee type who has that ability. So I create a meeting where Amy, Jake, and Rosa are “regular” attendees, and Charles is a “designated” attendee who can modify the meeting request if I suddenly win the lottery and move to Tahiti. I’m not an IT person, but I feel like this can’t be very hard!

      /end Monday morning rant

      1. seeeeeps*

        +1. This just happened to me a couple of weeks ago (I knew I couldn’t, but the person who originally owned the meeting and was delighted to be getting rid of it was surprised and rather displeased I needed them to make updates for me)

      2. JustaTech*

        It is funny how hard it is to change a meeting in Outlook if the “owner” isn’t available. I had a monthly happy hour on my calendar for years and years after the VP who set it up left, because he didn’t cancel it when he quit, and our admin didn’t have the ability to delete it. (Then I discovered that I could delete it for myself, so at least it was off my calendar, but it was still a silly situation.)

        1. LittleMarshmallow*

          It is silly, but the answer is usually just to have everyone decline it like you did. That essentially deletes it.

    2. Beany*

      I wish Outlook/Teams wouldn’t cancel a meeting and recreate it every time I add a recipient to it, or adjust any little detail. The amount of unnecessary automated e-mails and confusion caused is insane.

  16. Kate, short for Bob*

    #5 from the UK it’s wild that the party standing behind the guy who’s standing by seditionists is still called conservative – but then our “conservatives” are crashing our economy based on a book that the author has said they’ve missed the whole point of so I guess I just have stop expecting words to mean things ¯⁠\⁠_⁠(⁠ツ⁠)⁠_⁠/⁠¯

  17. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP1 (false report about injuring a patient) – yes, almost certainly, Jane should be fired for this. However there is a little feeling in the back of my mind that the ‘nuclear option of going to the HQ about something that had already been investigated… what does it mean? Despite her unpleasantness is there any possibility that Jane has been pressured into backing down? And I’d like to know what’s the nature of the conflict between her and Anna. It may be that Anna’s own behaviour needs investigating as well.

    It is interesting that Jane’s been spoken to a few times about her behaviour and attitude, with seemingly no attempt (that I can make out from the letter) to get to the root cause. There’s almost always a root cause.

    1. Despachito*

      This is a bit of what I am thinking too.

      I remember several cases when an employee of a home for seniors complained of bad behaviour of other employees towards their clients, was bullied and then fired, and after several years it came out she was right.

      And another case of a teacher molesting his student, and the only one who noticed and reported it was a non-popular fellow teacher, and the fact she was not popular contributed to her concerns being dismissed. That she was right was revealed years later and much more damage to the student was done.

      This said, I assume from OP’s letter that Jane/Anne’s client really had bruises, the cause of which was unclear. So it was not something Jane made up completely but could have genuinely thought it was Anne causing it.

      I absolutely do not think people should be punished/retaliated against if they report a suspicion which then shows unfounded. I think it is an awful practice which will make people hesitate whether to report something if they are not 100% sure it is happening, and even then, because of the cases that have been swept under the rug despite being true.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      My suspicion is that the company is worried (and I think with good reason) about discouraging people from reporting suspicions. If people hear “Jane got fired because she reported that a client had bruises on them after an encounter with Anna and it turned out Anna did nothing,” then people are likely to be worried about reporting concerns themselves in case they would be fired if mistaken.

      I realise a mistake is different from a deliberate false report, but firstly are we 100% sure Jane DID know for sure that Anna had not harmed the client? Could she have just overreacted? And secondly, even if it IS 100% sure and there is evidence of this, I can see that the company would be afraid of people only hearing part of the story and being afraid of reporting themselves or even hearing the whole story and thinking, “what if somebody THINKS my report is malicious? Could I be fired?”

      This is a real concern when working with vulnerable populations. Things have to be investigated and getting the balance right between putting people’s careers at risk and overlooking possible abuse can be difficult.

      Given that Anna got further training, I also wonder is it possible she DID do something slightly wrong? Not morally wrong or abusive but is it possible she wasn’t fully following procedures or taking shortcuts?

      1. LW1*

        I should have clarified that Anna and the other employee who was there both received training. This patient is difficult to move and always requires two people. The family wasn’t sure when the bruises appeared and/or how.

    3. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I’m wondering if Jane’s advocacy is in the form of being very abrupt with coworkers on the same level as herself while being both condescending to and monopolizing of the time for colleagues under her level. So almost an “I don’t care if they are helping someone else, my patient needs what they need and should always have it immediately” attitude.

      Sounds like this is possibly a skilled inpatient rehab or long term nursing facility. So you don’t want to set us a situation where others are afraid to report things gone wrong, even if accidentally, but you also want to quash malicious reports just to get other coworkers in trouble.

    4. JKateM*

      Where I live it’s illegal to retaliate in any way against an employee who makes a “good faith” report of abuse. So if I were HR in this situation I would be hesitant to fire Jane even if I believed the report was made for nefarious reasons, unless there was some objective evidence of that. All someone has to have in order to makeaa good faith report is “suspicion.” Most likely it would be concluded that the bruises on the client amounted to reasonable suspicion (regardless of any personal issues between Anna and Jane.) And the second report would be seen as going to the next level if those suspicions were not resolved.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        I think the thing that’s in question is whether it was in good faith. She reported it. It was investigated. It was deemed unfounded. And then she reported it again up the chain; it sounds like not with any additional context to suggest reason for “please take a second look”. The family was pushing for another look. On the first review they said the bruises might’ve already been there. It sounds like Jane knew the results of the first investigation? But she escalated anyway. That’s what makes it seem retaliatory.

    5. Observer*

      It is interesting that Jane’s been spoken to a few times about her behaviour and attitude, with seemingly no attempt (that I can make out from the letter) to get to the root cause. There’s almost always a root cause.

      Yes, but it’s not always about the employer or colleagues.

      Keep in mind that the OP did mention that when the original report was made, the organization did investigate and they did decide to provide more training to Anna. So it’s not like that are just brushing Jane off.

      1. JustaTech*

        Right! A report was made, the situation investigated (family was talked to) and corrective actions were set in place (Anna got more training). It was only *after* all that when Jane submitted her report, after Anna and the third coworker had been cleared.
        It’s the sequence of events that make’s Jane’s report to HQ look more like intentional false reporting.
        Now, it’s possible that Jane didn’t know about the investigation, findings and outcome and could have thought the whole thing was swept under the rug. But if that was the case, why would Jane have only reported Anna and not also the third coworker?

  18. bamcheeks*

    >> HR and Compliance advised my boss to essentially manage Jane out with weekly meetings about her behavior

    How do you know this, LW? This is very dodgy advice from HR, but it’s even weirder if they are telling Jane’s co-workers that that’s the plan!

    1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      You’re right – I initially read it that the OP was a team lead of some sort (supervisor/manager/senior etc) but actually it sounds like she’s a peer of Jane and Anna! So I think either OP has been told specifically by the boss, or somehow everyone (except Jane presumably) knows… neither of those are good and it sounds like HR is pretty crap actually (unclear whether HR is part of the ‘parent’ company, or a local HR). Even if Jane is quite unpleasant – it’s mismanagement in itself to talk about a potential disciplinary process for her to all of her team! No wonder relationships are bad.

      1. LW1*

        LW 1 here, I’m my boss’s assistant and I process hr paperwork for the corporate parent. No true local hr at our company. Technically a peer, but completely removed from the clinical side of the business.

        1. Storm in a teacup*

          Hi LW1
          Based on this it seems there are 2 alternatives:
          1. HR isn’t great at ensuring person is fired for a fireable offence
          2. If it was about patient safety, even if proven that the clinician was false whistleblowing they probably want to be super clear that she is being fired for her disruptive behaviour, not linked to any patient issues. To do this I guess they’ve asked the supervisor to collect enough documentation to make it clear so there is no potential push back or legal recourse from the employee

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Your number two is my suspicion as well. Jane has probably been a less than great coworker for a while, but corporate wants to put some distance between the twin complaints, the firing if/when it comes is about Jane’s behavior towards he coworkers, not the complaint filed about Anna.
            It may also be the company wanting to dodge a lawsuit alleging whistleblower retaliation.

          2. Lizzianna*

            #2 is my suspicion. I would want to be 100% clear Jane isn’t being fired as retaliation for a whistleblower complaint. It may be that those weekly meetings are to set expectations and start the documentation process to support firing her in a few weeks/months.

            Lots of people make reports to HR or management because they don’t like their coworkers. That doesn’t always mean the reports are false. Depending on exactly what Jane said to reveal that the report was personally motivated, it may not be as clear cut as LW1 has heard through the grapevine. A good lawyer could spin Jane’s story into “the local office blew me off so I took it to corporate and then I got fired.” If I were Jane’s supervisor, I’d want to have my ducks in a row before taking formal action.

        2. MissM*

          Having been in a similar office setting before where the assistant filed routine HR paperwork, non-routine items like discipline/firings were handed directed by the location’s ED because of the sensitive nature. Employees should have some protections from having peers know about their situation.

  19. TeapotNinja*

    LW2, if I had free time and needed the interview practice, I’d use these companies for interview practice, and as salary negotiating practice. As a bonus I’d be wasting their time in the process.

  20. Frustrated Freelancer*

    I’m from the UK and so many of my reactions to posts here are ‘that’s *not* illegal?!’. Like, things are pretty awful here on terf island, but at least political views are protected here!

    1. bamcheeks*

      I don’t think they are? The Equality Act protects “religions and beliefs” and there is recent case law to say that “a philosophical belief” includes transphobic beliefs (the Maya Forstater case.) But that’s really new, and not how the EA has been interpreted in the past– the Citizens’ Advice Bureau guidance on equality law has an example of how belief in a racial superiority would *not* be a protected belief because it’s not compatible with the rights of others.

      I think it’s a pretty murky area at the moment, and the whole concept of equality law is under attack from transphobes and their allies, but I think it would be a stretch to say political beliefs are protected characteristics.

      1. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, a quick google said “philosophical belief” can be protected but political belief is not. I’m not sure what exactly the dividing line is there; perhaps the political beliefs are meant to cover opinions around specific legislation while philosophical belief is meant to indicate overarching values?

        1. bamcheeks*

          That’s one of the things the recent decision in Forstater v Center for Global Development Europe addressed. They found that “gender critical” beliefs are a protected philosophical belief, and AFAIK that was the first time such a thing has been tested. I’m not entirely clear on whether an employment tribunal creates formal legal precedent the same way a court case does, but the question of exactly how a philosophical / political belief is protected and what that means in terms of actual rights at work is probably going to get tested more and more over the next few years as part of the delightful culture war the right are using to cover up their lack of anything else.
          (not a lawyer, just a depressed queer watching terfs chip away at women’s and LGBT and children’s rights.)

            1. UKDancer*

              Fundamentally that’s for the court to decide whether it’s a “system of belief” which is “worthy of respect in a democratic society and not affecting other peoples’ fundamental rights.” It would be taken on a case by case basis in individual employment tribunals I’d expect.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Yes, this is correct.There needs to be a belief or system of belief, which can include philiophical as well as religious beliefs, AND the belief must also be “worthy of respect in a democratic society and not affect other people’s fundamental rights.”

        So being a party member is not protected, but belief in a particular political philosophy can be. (Although things like White Supremacy would fail the ‘worthy of respect’ test and the ” not breaching others fundemental rights” one)

    2. I Would Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      Um, I’m not sure that they are? I’m American but I live and work here and my understanding is political affiliations aren’t protected.

      And honestly, while I believe the US has many issues, IMO this isn’t really one of them. It’s really difficult/expensive to meaningfully enforce these protections and what is a “political belief” can be a nuanced distinction. I’m not sure that kicking it to the courts is a good way of solving discrimination that can happen around that.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, looking from Ireland (and I honestly don’t know what the rules here are about political beliefs, which are…weird in Ireland anyway), I can understand the logic about political beliefs because honestly, I can see problems either way. On one hand, it would be unjust for a Fine Gael supporting boss to fire an employee who supported Fianna Fáil or Sinn Féin or whoever, but on the other, I CAN see issues like a pro-life advocate working in a medical role where abortions are one of the procedures provided or somebody with connections to the more controversial parties supporting Irish unification working for the Gardaí (police), as some of those parties are rumoured to have links with some of the terrorist organisations. (I am using Irish examples because I know I’ll get something wrong if I try to use American or English examples, but I have no doubt that issues of those kind exist in other countries; I know the abortion one is a big issue in the US as well.)

        1. Jessica*

          With the abortion example you might be getting into the territory where it’s not beliefs only at stake, but actual job duties. This comes up in the US in insane ways. Like, you can believe whatever you want, but if your religious beliefs don’t allow you to fill my legal birth control prescription, then pharmacy is not the career for you.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Stirctly they aren’t, in that membership of a politcal party is not protected. However, since the prtection is about beliefs / philosophical views, tht can include policitl beliefs. The belief must also be worthy of respect in a democratic society and not affect other people’s fundamental rights, which si wy a belief in something such as White supremacy isn’t protected. In the Forstater case IIRC the issue over the extent to which the trasnphobic ‘gender critcal’ views were or were no ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’ was one of the issues where the appeal came to a different view than the original tribunal.

      So (for instance) being a member of the Labour Party or Communist Party would not be protected, but a philosophical belief in Socialism / Communism could. Being a Nazi wouldnt be because of the requirement for the belief to be worthy of protection in a democratic society.

    4. Cat Tree*

      Please read above. This point has already been brought up and doesn’t need to be re-hashed.

    5. Tau*

      In the past, US commentators have pushed back against comments like this saying they’re frustrating and unhelpful. I do sympathise with getting culture shock from reading AAM, but I also really do see where they’re coming from. Like it or not this is the system they live in, and having a bunch of Europeans talking about how awful they think it is and how much better they have it isn’t exactly particularly helpful to someone trying to navigate it, you know? These days I try to only do the “in Germany we do things differently!” thing when I feel like it brings in a useful perspective even for US-focused conversation or when it’s not clear whether OP is in the US.

      1. Bubbles*

        There’s also is implication/assumption that the way things are done in Europe is always better than the way things are done in the US, which is just naive. Many European countries have serious problems that don’t get discussed as much as US problems.

        1. Tau*

          Also true, and I’m sorry if I came off sounding otherwise! I mean, there are some completely off-the-wall bonkers things about the way Germany does employment… but since this blog has a US focus they’re really never particularly on-topic. “Wow, you mean the US doesn’t have federally organized tithing?” or “Wait, you mean your referral system isn’t based on referral letters written in a strange double-speak impenetrable to the layperson and only understood by HR professionals?” is just as unhelpfully derailing as “what do you mean that’s legal over there?”, and I don’t think there are enough German commentators and definitely not enough German OPs to manage an actual discussion about that stuff. So it never really comes up.

          1. Kali*

            Huh. I actually think the international perspective would be very interesting. Obviously not in a condescending “the US is so backwards” kind of way, but just discussing whether there actually IS a better way. It’s not obvious in my opinion. I have lived on multiple continents and there are almost always cons and pros. Free speech vs preventing discrimination, making it really difficult to fire bad employees vs making it too easy for firms to fire good employees…. Etc.
            I think we should just all keep it respectful. I have been surprised how AAM has become nastier in recent years. No need for commentators to put down other people’s sincere opinions.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        These days I try to only do the “in Germany we do things differently!” thing when I feel like it brings in a useful perspective even for US-focused conversation or when it’s not clear whether OP is in the US.

        FWIW, I’m in the US and I appreciate these comments from people in other countries (like the discussion of Keeping In Touch days in the UK that’s going on upthread)!

        1. Indubitably Delicious*

          Very much the same — I’m in the US, and enjoy the cross-cultural employment information I get from this site (even when it includes critique of our systems). Not trying to speak for the rest of the commentariat, just for myself.

    6. Troublemaker*

      Political views are not protected in the UK. Even political facts are not protected; it’s not legal to point out that the king was unelected, that Northern Ireland is a colony, etc.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Is it actually illegal? Or just unpopular with that one cop?

        Since 9/11, in the US, a lot of people have been told that they couldn’t take photographs of the outsides of public buildings, but it is not illegal to do so.

        Random security guards might say it is (as a way of cutting off arguments) and they might even believe it is, but it’s not. Cops might even say it is, but it’s still not illegal.

        In fact, it’s specifically a constitional right, according to the ACLU:

        1. UKDancer*

          It’s perfectly legal to point out that the king is not elected and being a republican probably would be protected philosophical belief as defined by the law. People got into trouble with the police for demonstrating during the king’s movements around the country and the police were fairly well criticised for over-reacting and being unduly heavy handed. They’ll probably take a more nuanced approach in the coronation movements as a result.

          I’d always identify as a republican and have never had any problems.

          I’d also say there’s a difference between philosophical beliefs which the courts have held are protected in an employment context and what people generally might think of them. It’s perfectly possible for a belief to be legally protected but still quite unpopular with the general public.

      2. Bagpuss*

        It’s perfectly legal to point out that the king is unelected. It’s also perfectly legal to state that Ireland was/is a colony.
        There was a lot of criticism of the heavyhanded policing of protesters relating to the first, and the police backed down.
        The men who assaulted the guy who heckled prince Andrew in Edinburgh have been arrested and are being charged with assault.
        The current government is trying to make laws which will limit rights to protet which is a major concern, but right now the things you mention are perfecctly legal.

  21. Roland*

    #3, does your company use any pressure tactics for recruiting? I’m a dev and last time I job searched, the job I wanted had a partially exploding offer where the sign on bonus (not a very generous one compared to top employers) would be yanked if I didn’t sign that day, or maybe the following one. The rest of the offer was good so I signed and am working there, but I had another interview scheduled that day with company B and if I’d liked them more I wouldn’t have felt bad backing out of A’s offer when I’d been pressured to sign quickly.

    The irony is, they probably use those pressure tactics BECAUSE they worry about losing good candidates. But imo it has the opposite effect.

    1. Purple Penguin*

      I was thinking something similar – if there’s a short time between the interview and the offer and a fast deadline on the offer “get this signed and returned to us by 5pm” that can turn into someone having their resume out, having a few interviews scheduled, and still be getting offers back after it’s signed. At my remarkably inefficient company that’s not much of a problem, in fact we’ve got a 3-4 week delay “offer contingent on background check” before anything gets signed for real. But with that much time for contemplation, we don’t usually get people backing out at the last minute.

  22. Despachito*

    OP 1 – on second thought, Jane did not FALSELY report Anna, at least in the first case – the client did have bruises and they did happen after Anna and the other employee manipulated the client.

    Whether it was Anna’s/the other employee’s (where are they in all this? they were not accused although they did the same thing as Anna) fault is another matter, but I’d think it is a perfectly normal thing to report.

    The “managing out” part seems very weird to me, and perhaps a sign there is a lot going on under the surface. I’d not jump at the conclusion “Jane is the bad one” in this.

    1. Humble Schoolmarm*

      A third possibility is that HR is worried that Jane will take her accusations to social media if quickly fired. I can imagine an abusive caseworker coverup story could do some real damage to the company if it went viral.

    2. LW1*

      That’s actually part of how this came to be viewed as a retaliatory issue. Two people were there, but only Anna was reported. Good faith reporting is always important in my field, but this was already reported and dealt with appropriately on a local level. At least Jane had good timing because corporate compliance was making an onsite visit, which allowed the situation to be addressed quickly.

      1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        > good timing because corporate compliance was making an onsite visit

        I expect she saw the opportunity and took it, more than that it was a coincidence.

      2. June bug*

        That doesn’t necessarily mean it was malicious. Maybe Jane has seen Anna take risky shortcuts, but not the other coworker, and knowing the impact of a report, was hesitant to throw them both under the bus. Did Jane actually lie and say only Anna was there? I’m not seeing that Jane definitively did anything wrong from what’s in the letter. I would love to know what she said that indicated retaliation. And BTW, I would need hard evidence of retaliation, not just suggestions, before firing a whistleblower (immediately or HR’s plan).

    3. Ginger Pet Lady*

      The FALSELY reporting was the second report.
      Bruises were noticed and reported. That’s fine, no issues there.
      An investigation happened and the employee was cleared. Jane was informed of this outcome.
      Jane then went and made a SECOND report after she knew the result of the investigation.
      This is the part that is a problem.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I think it’s being viewed as retaliation by Jane because she made a second report about Anna (and now with extra information we know there were more employees involved when the bruising happened; the fact that only Anna is reported is, well Odd to me). The First report doesn’t bother me, and feels very fair from a patient safety standpoint (and also an employee standpoint as well – you don’t want an employee hurt trying to solo move a patient who really needs two people to be moved).
        Like the above poster it’s the Second report that bugs me.

  23. Luna*

    LW1 – Falsely reporting someone should lead to Jane being fired. If not, Anna could actually sue her for defamation or for the false report, overall. This is not a case of ‘managing someone out’.
    And as for the client with bruises, as someone with a clotting disorder, I can say that bruises can very easily form. Even just leaning too hard against something can lead to a noticeable bruise appearing.

    LW3 – This is where my European difference comes through. In my case, if you take up a job offer and then sign a contract mentioning your start date, it is legally binding. And if you change your mind, you do still have the mandatory two weeks notice period that is common during probationary periods. I dunno, maybe it’s because I never got a second offer close to having gotten a first one, but if you are potentially waiting for a very soon answer from a second place, do not agree to work at the first place before hand.
    I wouldn’t say this burns bridges, but I do think it looks flakey…

    LW4 – I am confused by the employee on leave should be the one to change the date of a recurring meeting. Unless the meeting involves them directly, they should not be in charge of doing anything with that, they are on leave. They are not working for you at the moment.

    LW5 – Acknowledge the email has arrived, but continue to do what your conviction tells you to do in regards to whom to vote for. I dunno about the US, but in Germany, it’s technically not allowed to ask people whom they are voting for.

    1. Despachito*

      Re OP1 – how can you distinguish a false accusation (ie completely fabricated) from an accusation based on real facts (the bruising did happen after Anna’s involvement) although it proves untrue?

      Although the first one should definitely be punished, the second one shouldn’t because who would report real harm if they could face repercussions for it?

      (Perhaps the problem is the wording – I can see a difference in claiming “when I visited the client on X date, I noticed they had large bruises” and “when I visited the client on X date, I noticed they had large bruises and I am certain Anna did it”)

      1. bamcheeks*

        The letter says that it was determined that Jane had made the report in retaliation “based on things she said when interviewed”. If Jane said something that made it clear this was retaliation, then it’s reasonable to proceed on that basis.

        What I’m extremely unclear on is how LW knows any of this– like, if this *is* an accurate account rather than “slightly changed details to cover anonymity”, the bigger question to me is how LW knows any of it because aalllll of this should be entirely confidential and if the boss really is chatting to Anna and LW about what’s going on in confidential meetings with Jane, Jane could probably sue the pants of them even if she started out 100% in the wrong.

          1. bamcheeks*

            Sorry, sue is probably the wrong word– take a grievance or a formal complaint would be more appropriate.

            In the UK, if you are involved in a disciplinary process, that’s usually confidential. If your manager discussed the details of the disciplinary process with your peers or spoke about it publicly, you’d have grounds for a complaint against them. It wouldn’t nullify the disciplinary process, but it could mean you’d be entitled to compensation if it went to tribunal.

            LW has since clarified that she’s admin support for the boss and knows the details that way, rather than being a direct peer of Jane and Anna, so it’s not quite the situation I was envisaging, however!

          2. Parenthesis Dude*

            You can’t retaliate against a whistleblower reporting an issue in good faith. It may be the case that the company itself feels that the reporting was in bad faith, but a judge may disagree with the company.

        1. The Rafters*

          LW said she’s admin support for the boss. We admins often possess info that most other employees don’t have simply due to the nature of the work — not because someone is being too chatty.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            And she’s also said as the Boss’s admin she handles a lot of the local HR functions. Sounds like she may know more than she wants and is trying to protect everyone involved as much as is warranted.

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

          The OP mentions in another thread that she is her manager’s assistant and helps with HR type of stuff so that is why she knows the details. They are on the same level peer wise, meaning they’re not a supervisor, but does not do anything clinical.

      2. Bagpuss*

        I think in this case, she repoted and it was investigated, including talking to the witness and the client’sfamily, and it was after that that Jane then made a further report, so at that point she was saying (as I understand it)
        “I wasn’t there and didn’t see it, but despite the people who were having said this was not down to Anna, I amreporting it as somethnak Anna did”

        I agree that in this type of jb it’s very difficult to balance the need to allow and encourage people to report genuine concerns or issues with the need to discipline those who make false or malicious ones.

        I wonder whether that’s why Jane is not being sacked immediately.

        1. Sylvan*

          That was also my read on it.

          It sounds like Jane and Anna provide in-home medical care, so Jane might not have been fired immediately because her manager needs time to find a replacement and transition Jane’s clients to them.

  24. Inamorata*

    The initial report to the manager is one thing – it’s at least vaguely possible Jane genuinely thought that Anna was responsible, and so that should be taken seriously. But that led to an investigation and a determination that Anna was not at fault. The subsequent report to the corporate parent body is the false report, as the issue had already been investigated and decided, and Jane has furthermore admitted making the allegation as retaliation. That is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable, and should be grounds for dismissal in any functional organisation. There is no conclusion being jumped to here – it is being drawn from clear evidence (based on Jane’s own admission, even!).

    1. June bug*

      I disagree. If Jane believed a real safety issue was being covered up, reporting to corporate would have been absolutely appropriate.

      1. June bug*

        Did she admit that?

        It was also determined that Jane, based on things she said when interviewed,

        Who determined that? What things did she say? I think if it was that cut and dry, the letter would say so instead of dancing around it.

    2. Kali*

      I wonder if Jane didn’t think the local level handled it right, so filed a 2nd report? Is it possible she thought her local management was too cozy with Anna and she needed to reach a higher level of authority to get it investigated properly? LW says somewhere that the family of the patient didn’t actually know where the patient got bruised. If Jane was convinced Anna often handles patients too roughly, she might actually have believed that Anna was dangerous. In the second investigation, did Jane really say, in so many words, “I wanted to get revenge on Anna”? That seems highly unlikely even if it were true. This is to say, I’m not surprised the company isn’t firing Jane immediately, it’s a bit too murky.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I wonder if what happened is during the second investigation it got out this was already looked into, and corporate decided they needed to talk with Jane and find out why she filed a second complaint. Especially if the second investigation came to the same conclusion as the first one did.

        So while they are talking about it Jane says something, ambiguous but not nice about Anna. So they don’t have clear proof of anything, but want the local manager to keep an eye on the situation? Could the local manager maybe be interpreting that request as manage Jane out?

  25. Irish Teacher*

    LW3, this comes up a good deal in teaching, when A LOT of the offers are in a very short period of time (June to August/early September) and it is very usual to be waiting for replies from numerous schools at the same time. The advice I see online (from teachers to each other) is always that people should do what is right for them. Taking a maternity leave when you are offered a full year (that could lead to a permanent job) just because you accepted that offer first isn’t a good idea, even if it means a school has to readvertise shortly before the start of the school year.

    I am guessing the jobs you are advertising are full-time and likely permanent, so issues like getting a full-time offer after accepting part-time roles or getting a long term offer after accepting a substitution position wouldn’t apply, but they may still have been offered something with a shorter commute or something that pays better or their dream job. I don’t think it’s unprofessional to take the job that is best for them.

    I will also say that personally speaking, I wouldn’t be too worried about burning a bridge (I WOULD feel guilty about causing inconvenience) because assuming this is a job that is likely to be permanent, well, once I have a job, I probably won’t be looking for something else. I know you never know what is down the line and perhaps I would hate the job or an awesome opportunity might come up or I might need to move for personal reasons, but…I wouldn’t go into a job thinking “what if I want to leave sometime?” The odds are it would be years down the line anyway and the management would likely have changed and it wouldn’t make sense to turn down a job I want now on the off-chance that otherwise I might not get a job I want in 10 or 20 years time. Plus, even if I do want to leave at some point, the odds of there being a vacancy I want at specific company is unlikely. In my case, there are 800 secondary schools in Ireland. Even if for some reason, I DID want to leave my current school, the idea that one of those 800 might be less likely to employ me makes little difference to my job search. Just to point out why this may not be much of an issue for applicants.

    LW4, I would actually feel a little left out if I wasn’t invited to social events when I was on leave. I have never been on maternity leave but when I was recovering from an operation, I actually both did a course the principal was asking people to do (it was a two-hour online thing and I figured I had the time) and contributed to an appeal for a commemoration of a couple of our past students who played a large part in the Irish War of Independence (which was 100 years ago at that time). Not the same as social events, but I liked being included in the information about those things, even though I am pretty sure nobody expected me to do the former at least.

    We have a teacher who has been out for about 5 or 6 years, on maternity leave, then carer’s leave, then career breaks, because her child has a disability and she hasn’t been able to work since he was born. She always comes to our Christmas parties and I suspect she would be hurt not to be invited just because she’s on leave at the moment.

    I would especially think people would want to be invited to a goodbye party. They are still the person’s colleagues and might still want to say goodbye to them.

    1. bamcheeks*

      This is interesting because the advice to newly qualified teachers in the UK is that you will be offered a job on the same day that you’ve interviewed and that you really should accept or reject it that day, and that it would be very bad for your reputation to accept and then change your mind. I pushed back on this (as a university careers adviser) when I was told it by lecturers in the Education department because it’s so wildly out of sync with the rest of the job market, but was told this is just how it is.

      So you’ve got new, inexperienced teachers taking the first job offered to them without any time to reflect on whether this is the right school for them — and then everyone is terribly surprised when they leave the profession after a couple of years!

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I would imagine it has to do with the difference in numbers applying for teaching positions. While there IS a teacher shortage in certain subjects here (Irish and Physics largely), there are other subjects where a school could get 100s of applications for a job (a primary school once made national news for getting 1,000 applications), so it’s generally not difficult to find somebody else at short notice (unless the subject is something like Irish, in which case, yeah, it gets tricky).

        We also don’t necessarily get offers on the same day. Each school has its own procedures there. I once had a principal tell me he’d phone me the next day and…not phone me for 3 or 4 days, apologising and saying he couldn’t find my phone number (yes, that WAS a warning sign for how disorganised that school was in general) and I guess that makes a difference too as another school could have interviewed me and offered me a job in that intervening period. While that was just…that school, it isn’t unusual for a school to take a number of days to contact references, etc.

        1. bamcheeks*

          Yeah, it just seems like one of those very circular things– we have a shortage because so many people leave the profession, let’s force new teachers to make a decision in two hours flat and see if that helps, oh no, it doesn’t. Just a really broken system perpetuating itself!

      2. Lellow*

        A small mitigation is that you’re strongly encouraged by all your tutors on teaching courses to get a school tour *before* writing your application – this is really normal, they’ll take you around and provide some children and other teachers to chat to. Then you do your application, then have the interview and test lesson several days later. So you get to preload some of your decision-making, and be able to think in advance what you want to find out in the interview etc.

    2. WellRed*

      At one point is she no lingered considered on leave but actually doesn’t work there any more?

      1. Irish Teacher*

        I’m…actually not sure. There are limits (partly because of politicians who were retaining teaching jobs while being in goverment, just in case they lost their seats. I think the maximum for a career break is five years, but she was on maternity leave for 6 months to a year and I think she may have taken carer’s leave as well, so she probably hasn’t used up the five years of career break yet (just checked and the maximum length of a career break is 5 years at one go and up to 10 across a career, so I would guess they could possibly even fudge things to get the full ten, if necessary). This is a very specific situation though, so likely to get more leeway than one might in toher situations.

  26. Oh Snap!*

    #2: I’ve seen this too, specifically with Target in CO. a huge range of jobs all had the same range posted (roughly 75k to 150k). There is no way that coincidentally happened to be the actual range for the 10 different roles I searched through once I noticed it. Pretty sure companies are just posting a huge range so they don’t have to disclose the actual salary.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      That could be. In my search earlier this year a few places had the range of something like $65K-$135k. When I got to the phone screen they highest they could go was $75k. I wasn’t expecting top of that, but wouldn’t have applied had I known it was only $75k.

      1. Alice*

        Not sure if it is the case here, but what about the case where a salary range is really wide because the employer is open to candidates with a range of, say, 2-10 years of experience? With the top end of the range only for the most senior candidates. Meaning that the range is very broad but an individual candidate’s range is generally smaller unless they really outperform on interviews. That’s how my company does things, at least.

        1. Qwerty*

          Does the job description say “2-10yrs experience” or “2+yrs experience”? If they are able to state the skill range they are looking for within the job requirements, it would help candidates guess where they fall within the salary range. Another useful thing is splitting the skills into at least two candidates: required and recommended (some also have a third “nice to have” for more rare skills).

          I have also seen companies posting notes at the bottom of the job description explicitly saying that where a candidate falls in the range depends on relevant experience, or that it covers junior, mid, and senior positions.

    2. KRM*

      But each job could be accepting applicants who have a huge range of experience, thus the range in salary. I’ve seen that happen when a (science) job is posted and the employer would consider anyone from a BS with 1-3 years to an MS with 10+ years, because they have many job levels to fill that fit the same general description (and honestly science jobs are often quite vaguely worded because of this–a department might need to hire 5 scientists all with the same general description but different day to day based on experience). Of course the way to deal with this is to say to the person immediately “because you have X experience, the part of the salary range you’d be eligible for is the low/mid/high end, so we’re on the same page about expectations”

    3. Generic+Name*

      Sounds like Target is trying to get around Colorado state law requiring employers to post pay information in job postings. Not cool, Target.

      1. RC+Rascal*

        That was my thought as well.

        “We are prepared to pay between $1 and $1,000,000 a year. We are compliant and the job applicant knows nothing!” Cue Mr. Burns muttering “Excellent”.

  27. Nutella and banana on toast*

    #3 You need to also check on your end your companies onboarding policies. This year several co-workers were trying to jump to other companies but the hoops after the offer was signed were not being executed well and the fear of no job was too much. This included a drug test notification with 24 hours to comply that was sent from an unknown email that went to spam, a background check that was incomplete after 2 weeks (they had a bankruptcy that was 11 months out from discharge) and they couldn’t put in their notice, issues with providing pictures that were acceptable of the person and their passport for a WFH job. Changing jobs is stressful for everyone and some of us can’t quit a job when the new job isn’t on the ball.

  28. Margaret Snow*

    Accidentally posted this in the wrong thread just now.

    LW #1’s letter about Jane needing to be “managed out” puts me in mind of all the times we have had a “difficult” coworker who qualified for firing but the organization was trying to avoid being sued, defamed, or whatever else no-one in management felt like they wanted to deal with as retaliation for the firing.

    If they have a clear, strong, legally supportable case to fire Jane, they should fire her. Their response makes me think either they may not, or Jane has a history of being so troublesome but just walking the line, that they fear she will sue if let go.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I sort of suspect they believe she DID make the accusation in bad faith and want rid of her, but are worried about the optics of firing her and the impact it might have on people making allegations in the future. I do understand it because if people heard “Jane made an allegation against Anna and it turned out Anna was innocent so Jane got fired,” people might be worried about reporting suspicions for fear they are wrong and in a job like that, you want to ensure people are comfortable making reports.

      I’m not saying this is the right decision but I can see them thinking, “if we fire Jane, it could make people fear reporting suspicions unless they are absolutely certain and somebody who is genuinely abusing a client could get away with it, so can we find a way to get Jane to leave on her own?”

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        I’m wondering if something ambiguous but ugly came out of Jane’s mouth about Anna to corporate when they talked about the second investigation. I would hope that corporate would be looking into what two identical complaints were files, especially if both complaints came to the same result of clearing Anna of wrongdoing.

        So there is a possibility that Jane has been a pain for a while, she didn’t get what she wanted in complaining about Anna, and then was just a hint of smoke level honest with corporate about what happened. So there’s lots of indirect evidence, but no smoking gun. In that case more oversight (though I don’t know about weekly meetings) is probably in order.

    2. Sylvan*

      I think so, too, but I’m guessing that firing a caregiver immediately results in having a lot of clients without a caregiver and needing to find coverage immediately. They might be taking a while to get rid of Jane because they need to transition her clients to someone new.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        That is also a very good point. We don’t know LW’s field, but I imagine most caregiving professions are stretched very thin right now. Jane needs to go, but the clients can’t be the ones to pay the price.

    3. Elan Morin Tedronai*

      Is it possible that “Manage Jane out” could just be “Ask Jane to resign,” or “Recommend Jane for termination to HR?” Some companies I’ve heard of have strict management boundaries such that only 1 or 2 levels above the employee have hiring/firing power.

  29. Dinwar*

    #4: Think of it in the reverse. If you cut these women out of work events entirely, would that be problematic? For my part, I would say yes–it would send the message that once you have a baby, you’re out.

    Also, something worth considering: Babies are a lot of stress. Lack of sleep, constantly needing to care for a tiny human that is incapable of caring for itself, the physical trauma the mother experiences, the hormonal firestorm that mothers and many fathers experience…I’ve been through it three times, and it’s overwhelming. The parents may consider a work event worth attending merely to get away for a few hours. It’s hard to justify caring for yourself when you have a newborn. But if it’s an event someone else scheduled, and in our culture especially if it’s for work (not saying it’s right or wrong, just saying it’s true), new parents can more easily justify hiring a babysitter or dropping the baby off with the new grandparents for a few hours and getting away. Time for one’s self is a psychological necessity in these circumstances, but is notoriously difficult to come by.

    Without knowing a great deal more than is possible about the parents’ private lives and psychology it’s impossible to really know what’s best for them. Default to assuming they are adults and have a good handle on it. Make sure you’re not pressuring them to attend, but make sure you’re also not pressuring them NOT to attend. Warm acceptance of whatever choice they make is the right way to go.

    And just ignore the recurring meetings. If everyone knows they are on leave no one will expect them to show up. If they do, great! If not, great! But pretty much anything that’s the result of automated systems can be ignored.

  30. Hiring Mgr*

    Sounds like there’s alot of second/third hand stuff in #1 so not sure what happened exactly, but I did have to lol a bit at management’s strategy for getting rid of Jane: “Weekly meetings ’til she quits!”

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      The letter writer has joined us, with additional information. The screen name is “LW1” and they are HR adjacent.

      I consider Anna to be lucky that corporate was dropping by about the same time that Jane was reporting her to the main office, so that she didn’t lose that much work time and money.

  31. Qwerty*

    OP3 – This has been a growing trend in software that I’ve seen with regularity since 2018, so it isn’t just the current market. I see this happen the most often at places with super fast recruitment processes that don’t allow a candidate to assess their options. Things like 24 or 48hr windows to accept the offer or having <2weeks from application to accepted offer. My theory is it started with candidates accepting the first offer they receive while still in the interview process for other companies. However it has evolved to people continuing to apply to jobs after accepting an offer, because they can use the offer from your company to leverage a better deal if a second offer comes in. The place I worked at that could rush a candidate through the entire process in a week also had the highest rate of people not showing up on their first day or quitting during their first month when something better came along.

    Some steps you can take on your end is to be transparent about the length of your interview process and be flexible on a candidate's schedule. A decade ago, it was normal for me to get an offer with a week to think it over and *be asked if that timeline worked*. This allowed me to say if I was in the final stage with company B. I've had offer deadlines extended based on this so that I could choose between the two companies when I had offer from both. (Plus I could tell Company B that I had a pending offer from Company A and get sped up in B's process)

  32. Spearmint*

    “ I agree that it’s massively inconvenient, but you also can’t expect people to turn down better jobs/more money if they’re on offer … and it sounds like right now, they’re on offer for a lot of your candidates.”

    Alison, it’s interesting you write this because in the past you’ve come down pretty hard on people who continue interviewing after reviving an offer. Have you changed your views on this? Would you recommend candidates continue interviewing between accepting an offer and starting a job to keep their options open?

    1. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

      Weird comment. There’s nothing here to indicate that anyone is still interviewing after receiving an offer. Many job seekers are going through multiple interview processes simultaneously. Also I’d be curious to see links to where Alison has “come down hard” on anyone continuing to interview after receiving an offer from one company.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree – this doesn’t strike me as accurate, devoid of context.

        There’s a difference between continuing to interview and being in the offer stage for multiple places at once. Also there is no indication that another job is the reason they bailed! Which Alison covers pretty directly.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        I found one letter: “should I keep interviewing after I already accepted a job offer?” from September 25, 2013.

        Alison’s advice was to NOT go to the other interviews, and she discussed the problems with interviewing after accepting an offer from a different company. I don’t know if I would classify her response as “coming down pretty hard” on the OP, but that’s just my opinion.

        1. Spearmint*

          Also “can I back out of my new job if I get a better offer?” from July 5, 2010, where she wrote:

          “ And now, most controversially, let’s talk about the impact on your employer. After you made a commitment to them, they took you at your word. They invested time and money in preparing for you and training you. They’ve planned work around the assumption that you’ll be there. And they’ve turned loose their other candidates. They’ll probably need to start the hiring process all over again with those back-up candidates gone, which means losing more time and more money, plus the opportunity cost of having the position open far longer.

          At a large company, maybe this is easily absorbed. But I can tell you from seeing it firsthand that at smaller organizations, it causes real harm, so I strongly recommend factoring in the size of the organization.”

          1. Nancy*

            Based on what she has said since then I’d guess her stance has changed since she wrote that 12 years ago!

          2. Wants Green Things*

            Those are 9 and 12 year old letters. Practically none of the advice given back then will hold up in today’s market. And, surprisingly, people are allowed to change their opinions after 9 and 12 years.

    2. KRM*

      It’s not that candidates are *continuing* to interview after they get/accept the offer, but that they’re likely ‘in process’ with other places. If I am interviewing with Company A and Company P at the same time, and A makes an offer, and P isn’t sure about their timelines, I might accept A and sign. And then surprise, P comes in a week later with an offer that’s better, and I liked them more during the interview stage! It would be foolish of me to turn down P if their offer is better, so I turn around and tell A “thanks but no thanks”. People interview with lots of places because no job is a guarantee, as we see all the time on this site, so lots of candidates are going to have lots of jobs they’re looking at, and sometimes the timings just don’t work out with being able to have all your offers at once and pick from them.

      1. Qwerty*

        The OP says they are in software – people are definitely continuing to interview in that industry. Not just finishing up an interview process, but also continue applying to new jobs. Multiple people have admitted doing it to me and I’ve also been told how foolish I am for not continue to job search after I accept an offer.

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          I’m in tech – Sysadmin/DevOps. When I’m job hunting I get nervous if I don’t have at least five companies in my pipeline. When I accepted my last job, I had to notify something like three others companies that I wouldn’t be moving forward, including the one that screwed up their technical test environment then acted like I was an idiot when I pointed it out.

  33. WantonSeedStitch*

    I liked getting an invitation to the virtual holiday party for my office while I was on maternity leave. It was at the height of the pandemic pre-vaccines, and I was basically trapped in a house with my husband and a newborn, with very little social interaction. I sincerely like the people I work with, so I had fun chatting with them on Zoom that day. I also enjoyed the free lunch delivery courtesy of a Doordash gift card from the office for everyone as a way of supplying food for a party where everyone was in their own home!

  34. Part timer*

    Sometimes the only way that people can report their abusive husband to the police is to frame someone else for something, and firing that person for that really isn’t fair.

    1. Dr. Rebecca*

      …there’s no evidence from the letter that that’s what was going on, so this comment feels very out of place…

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I think this comment is a callback to the “my employee set up a false fraud investigation … because she was being abused and wanted the police” post from 2017. I agree that the situations are drastically different between that letter and letter #1 today.

        1. Observer*

          True, but even there plenty of people didn’t think it would unfair to fire the person who framed another person.

          1. Eldritch Office Worker*

            Funnily we used “Jane” in that letter too.

            There was a lot in that letter – Mary’s life and reputation was ruined, Jane was able to set up a false fraud in the first place, the integrity of the company was put at risk…so much that I can’t imagine keeping her where she was and in that role.

            I can’t think of a scenario where setting someone else up would be a good option, but it’s very possible that there might be more forgivable outcomes depending on the circumstances.

            People stuck in bad situations can be desperate but I push back strongly on the premise in this original comment that throwing someone else under the bus is ever the only option.

            1. Bubba*

              Agreed. I don’t see how throwing someone under the bus was really the ONLY option in that other LW’s case either. I sympathize that she made a bad choice in a desperate situation but, it was still a very bad choice that ended up hurting an innocent person.

              1. KoiFeeder*

                It may have seemed like the safest or least harmful option. I can see the logic, although it’s somewhat tortured in the process. I still don’t think it was a good choice, just that I can see a possibility for how it happened.

  35. Michelle Smith*

    LW3 says “I know it’s not a legally binding agreement, but it’s still poor form, unprofessional, and a great way to burn bridges — largely because it’s massively inconvenient for us to count on someone showing up, plan for their onboarding, and reject all our other candidates, only to have to start all over again (are candidates aware of this? I know it’s just the cost of doing business but it sucks).”

    Candidates are aware and they do not care. You need to reevaluate what your expectations are. Candidates do not have to care about your business or how much time it takes you to find a new candidate when you prematurely rejected everyone else without building enough rapport with your second and third choices to reach back out to them and make an offer when the first candidate fell through. Why should your workload or business costs matter to a stranger who doesn’t work there, exactly? Especially when, on the other side, candidates are being laid off before/right after starting or having offers pulled because those businesses didn’t plan ahead and ended up not being able to afford the new hires. This stuff works both ways and candidates are finally wising up and realizing that they do not owe loyalty to corporations, only to themselves and their families. It’s actually inspiring to see.

    Unless you are in a small, niche industry where everyone knows everyone else, the chances that candidate will be applying to a job posting you’re managing in the future or will experience any negative repercussions for backing out of the deal are extremely slim. Take Alison’s advice absolutely, but you’ll be doing yourself a lot of favors if you stop taking this personally and reevaluate how you source for these positions. That second choice you rejected when your first signed the offer might still be looking a week or two later when you get the email from the first choice rejecting you. How receptive they’ll be to your outreach will depend on how you treated them during the process, including how you left things off during your last communication. Did you send a hugely impersonal automated email from your ATS telling them they weren’t good enough for you? Or did you reach out and apologize that you are not making an offer, tell them that it was a difficult choice, and ask if you can keep them in mind in case a role opens up in the next few weeks? I’ve had both situations happen to me, and ended up eventually working for a place that treated me the way I described second.

    1. Generic+Name*

      This right here. I’d wager that most people who back out of a job offer aren’t doing gleefully with the intent to annoy you. They probably feel bad that it is inconveniencing you, but you really can’t expect a person to care more about a company they don’t work at than themselves. Companies have been acting like mercenaries for as long as I can remember. The days when getting a good job right out of school that you could work at for 35 years and then retire with a nice pension are gone. It’s frankly ridiculous that companies expect this level of loyalty from employees when companies dumped how they treated workers decades ago.

    2. CharlieBrown*

      you’ll be doing yourself a lot of favors if you stop taking this personally and reevaluate how you source for these positions.

      Oh gosh, this.

      Hiring a candidate is a business decision.

      Accepting or rejecting a job is also a business decision, but it’s also a life decision. These candidates have far more on the line than your company does. If something better comes along, they are perfectly within their rights to accept it and pull out of the offer you made.

    3. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Yep, absolutely. This is a business transaction on both ends, you need to treat people with respect but you also need to depersonalize your own responses. I promise someone who’s job searching, their main objective is to find a job that suits them. Your business needs are not even on their list of concerns.

    4. Esmeralda*

      Sometimes you have to close the posting (state university here) — if a candidate accepts an offer and signs off on taking it, the posting is CLOSED. Closed. Done. Over with. It is an Ex-Posting. It has ceased to exist. It is no more.

      We could have fabulous rapport with our other candidates and it would mean NOTHING. We cannot call them up and offer them the job in this situation. We have to repost the freakin job — well, we have to get PERMISSION to repost the job. Then we are starting from scratch. Now, I can contact those fabulous candidates and tell them what’s up, but they have to go through the whole process again. Because it’s a new job posting.

      Hiring in higher ed suuuuuuccckkkksss.

      1. Observer*

        And none of this is the responsibility of the person who you interviewed. They don’t have the faintest shred of obligation to make sure that your processes don’t come back to bite you.

        1. linger*

          It can’t even be nailed to the perch!
          (In my own org’s process, even the wording of the job posting must be put back out for review: it can’t be automatically reposted as is.)

  36. Sara without an H*

    OP#3, nothing is what it was three years ago. Nothing, including the job market and hiring expectations. Candidates who are actively looking probably have more than one offer pending and, if another firm comes in with a more attractive offer after they’ve signed on with you, they’ll take the other offer. The job market is churning, inflation is still a thing, and you can’t blame people for looking out for their own interests.

    That said, take a look at what you’re offering. Assuming your salaries and benefits are competitive in your local market, what else would make your offers attractive? We’ve heard a lot here at AAM from people who really want some flexibility in scheduling, the opportunity to work remotely at least some of the time, and opportunities for professional development. You don’t say what industry you’re in, but take a hard look at what you’re offering besides salary and try to find things that would appeal to the people you want to hire. (Hint: It isn’t free snacks and foosball tables.)

    Oh, and take a look at your Glassdoor reviews, while you’re at it, and look for patterns. An occasional bad review won’t sink you, but a series of bad reviews will scare people off.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Nothing is like it was three years ago and it will never be again.

      Even if the market swings back in favor of the employers, people have experienced a once-in-a-lifetime global tragedy, they’ve been stuck at home, they’ve seen how quickly businesses can collapse and how they’ll be treated when push comes to shove. The most common new question I’m seeing is “how did you accommodate employees during the pandemic”. The relationship with work has changed, newer generations who aren’t interested in the old way are taking over the workforce, and employers need to figure that out.

      1. Philosophia*

        People also saw “how quickly businesses can collapse and how they’ll be treated when push comes to shove” in the Great Recession. One of the reasons manufacturers, for instance, have trouble filing jobs is that every time they lay off employees wholesale, many of those who are laid off go and get themselves trained for more nearly secure employment.

    2. tg33*

      Yep. I think the OP is in software. AFAIR in the late 90’s people were moving jobs in software every 6 months to a year, with a big increase in pay each time. Then in 2001 came the dot com burst bubble, and the 9/11 effects. Followed in 2008 by the general economy collapse. Now things have changed again, and they will change after this too.

      1. Eldritch Office Worker*

        Software/IT seems like an extremely volatile industry from someone who only peripherally interacts with it. People seem to move often and good talent seems very in demand.

  37. Mehitabel*

    Re: LW#5. Just to clarify/add some information: If the employer is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, it is clearly and emphatically against the law for them to in any way support or endorse any candidate for office, either internally to their employees, or publicly. Any tax-exempt organization who does this stands to lose their tax exemption if they are reported for doing so. (This includes churches, by the way, so when you see/hear about pastors getting up in their pulpits and tell their congregations how to vote, they are breaking the law).

  38. Software Engineer*

    On the false report one I’m guessing they’re being cautious about fitting her because the story could easily be spun as “I reported potential abuse and was fired for it”…. It would obviously be very bad to retaliate against people for GOOD FAITH reporting even if they turned it to be incorrect

    But the good faith part is important! If she admits to doing it maliciously then you’d want to CYA but obviously get rid of her. But I would work closely with HR on dotting your Is and crossing your Ts because it sounds like a delicate situation

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      I think that one indication is that it is malicious is that only the woman that Jane has problems with was reported.

      Both workers were given retraining in how to lift and manage the patient, which is how it should have been.

  39. Nancy*

    #4: They probably just use a department distribution list, so anyone on vacation or leave will get the invite. Not a big deal, the person can decline or ignore it if they don’t want to attend.

    For work-related emails, make sure everyone knows who is overseeing things while the coworker is on leave. The coworker on leave can also set an automatic reply that lists the name of the person to contact. People forget.

  40. MicroManagered*

    OP3 I recently had a series of unpleasant conversations with my boss about this. It was months ago and I am still pissed at her about it…

    I needed to hire for an open position and she forced me to put the “company pay band” for the position on my posting (which was like 58-77k) even though nobody in the position makes over 60 and there was a 0% chance of any candidate receiving an offer over 60.

    We had so many applicants who were looking for 65-70k, right in the middle of the posted range, who wasted their time completing the application.

  41. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – “Managing people out” isn’t a good business practice, but I’m guessing that management has realized that replacing Jane immediately is going to result in the business being unable to provide services to Jane’s clients. They have probably told your manager to closely manage Jane while they look for someone to replace her.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      That struck me as odd, as well. I mean, there are lots of employers out there. It’s not like OP is the only job in town, as they are discovering to their dismay.

      OP definitely needs to reframe their position in relationship to the general job market.

  42. madge*

    OP #2, I work for a state-funded university, and although we’re required to list the full range (which generally spans $30-50k) we very rarely pay more than $8k over the lowest number. It’s so frustrating even as someone applying for internal positions; I feel your pain.

    If you’re applying anywhere publicly funded, it’s worth it to google the name plus “salary”; our paper publishes everyone’s salary every year. We’re having a terrible time hiring right now but who knows if it’s that, our recent and very visible battle over losing 25% of our PTO, or the fact that our leaders think “up to two days per week” is VERY generous for WFH. I wish I was joking.

    1. Mid*

      I’ve seen a lot of postings for government positions/state funded positions that list the range as well as the intended hiring range. It usually looks something like:
      Position Grade/Title: XYZ
      Salary Range: $30-$50k
      Intended Starting Salary: $30-$38k

      I think this is a good way to help manage expectations for people and follow both the letter and the spirit of the rules, especially when the range is really wide. I’ll see postings that have basically word-for-word identical job duties listed for very different grades, and the knowing the intended salary helps me figure out if I’m the level they’re actually looking for. When things are listed at for a range of GS9-13, knowing the intended hiring level can help people figure out if they’re qualified for what they’re really looking for, not just what they’re required to list.

      I think the biggest range I saw for a government position was $45k-$145k, not a typo, because it was listed for hiring in multiple grades, but was intended to hire at the $45-$60k range and a GS9-10, so the posting reflected that. (I’m guessing slightly at the numbers, but you get the gist.) People could possibly be hired for a far higher grade, but it’s always helpful to know what the intention is, especially when you have to include a lot of generic information in postings.

      1. madge*

        The “Intended Salary” band would be so helpful but we either can’t or won’t list it. We have one open now that’s $50k-85k and the target salary is $53k. They’ll go to $56k if they have to; otherwise, it will stay open.

        The way our raises are structured, a person could work in the same role for 10+ years and never even hit the middle of a small range (say, $60k-80k). One of our leaders lamented that her hands were tied and “the only way to get a real raise here is to leave and come back”.

        I’ve considered applying to federal jobs in a year or two, so your salary explanation is really helpful, thank you!

  43. Acey*

    > Private employers can indeed urge employees to vote a certain way.

    As implied by the above statement, note that government employers in many states cannot urge employees to vote a certain way. The logic behind this is because the government IS the employer, the incumbent would have undue advantage. In addition, public employees may be forbidden from engaging in any sort of campaigning or even discussing elections when on company time.

  44. cactus lady*

    This isn’t exactly the same, I went to a work party not long after I had a major surgery and was out on medical leave, it was nice to get out of the house to be social (it can be easy to turn into a shut-in when you’re on medical leave). I think it also impressed upon my colleagues that they really SHOULDN’T call me even if they were tempted to because I’d be completely useless. Ha!

    1. Pikachu*

      I went to a few work social events after having surgery, too. It wasn’t a very extended leave but I was separated from my now-ex-husband with no family in the area. My coworkers were my primary social contacts at the time.

      I physically couldn’t work, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to be around people.

  45. Parenthesis Dude*

    OP #1: Just because your company thinks that the good faith complaint was retaliatory doesn’t mean that it will be seen that way by a judge. And even if your company does win, who wants to be sued?

  46. Ann O'Nemity*

    For #2, it’s possible that the position just isn’t budgeted for the higher ends of the established salary band. But if that’s the case, then the job ad should reflect it! Starting salary: $50-55k; Salary band: $45-85k.

    It’s also possible that the hiring manager looked at OP’s education and experience and then lowered the salary range accordingly. And if that’s the case, then the hiring manager should just say so. “Your education and experience are at the lower end of the preferred qualifications for this role so the starting salary would be $50-55k. Are you comfortable with that range?”

  47. Pikachu*

    #3 – it continually baffles me that employers somehow think the laws of supply and demand, which drive our entire economy, somehow do not apply to labor.

    Human beings have one chance at being alive on this planet. If that means taking a better job last minute, why would they spend one second feeling bad about it? For employers, it’s a business problem. For workers, it’s a life choice that affects where they live, where their kids go to school, how much time they get to spend with family, all the things that make up real life and make it worth living. Unfortunately in the US, your job determines whether you can go to the doctor.

    Like sorry you have to recruit again but my rent went up $400 this year and you won’t budge $5k on salary so bye

    I also don’t think burning bridges is much of a thing anymore, not in a global work environment and certainly not in software. I sat through 6 demos out of 12 possible specialized management software choices for my industry recently, and those were only the ones that integrated with my current systems. There are at least 20 more. Anyone could easily burn 9 bridges by bailing on last minute offers and have plenty of employers left to choose from in this industry alone, let alone going to work anywhere else on the planet.

  48. Fabulous*

    #2 – I totally identify with you; I sort of got bait and switched with my current job. Range of $48-74k was posted, I was looking for $68-75k (with $68k being industry average, and me having been “in the industry” for almost 5 years). After all was said and done, I was offered the job at $60k. What a blow! I was super up front in the beginning as well stating my salary expectations, so this was especially disheartening. I accepted it anyway, but, UGH, we shouldn’t have to go through all of that; workplaces need to be realistic with what they put out there.

  49. MissM*

    LW#4, we have employees with upcoming parental leave end their meeting series and a new organizer send out invites for the projected time out, then they send out a new series when they return.

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

      Yeah in outlook if you block time i think it can say something like cancel all meetings during this time or something and that’s what should have happened and whoever was taking over it would have rescheduled with the client.

  50. Flash Packet*

    Re letter #3: I did this with not one but two companies when I graduated with my Master’s in 2019.

    I had a bunch of interviews with maybe 7 or 8 companies over a span of 60 days, all for positions that would start in a month or so (after I graduated). I was 52 at the time and interviewing for entry-level and one-level-up-from-entry positions. Ageism is real and I was worried about getting a job at all. So when the first offer from one of my top three picks came in for $50K, I accepted.

    Then I got an offer from one of my other top picks for $58K. I accepted.

    A few days later, before I’d worked up the courage to tell Job #1 that I had to back out, I got an offer from my third top pick for a $75K base plus $10K signing bonus plus 25% annual bonus. It was a Godfather offer. I would have been an idiot to turn down Job #3 out of loyalty for either Job #1 or Job #2.

    Job1 and Job2 were disappointed, of course, but the hiring managers (and their bosses) all said that they’d make the same decision if they were in my shoes.

    Hilariously, Job3 turned out to be a House Full of Evil Bees and, right as I was brushing off my resume at the 9-month mark, Job2 called me and said they had a Senior position available that paid more than highly-paid Job2.

    So I ended up working at Job2 after all. I’m still there and I love it.

    The lesson from all this is: The market declared that someone with my skillset was worth muuuuuch more than $50K. Had Job1 come in with a number close to Job3, I wouldn’t have backed out of their offer.

    So, OP3, double-check what you’re offering to whom. Cohorts from my graduating class were both happy and fortunate to get those $50K jobs because they had zero prior work experience. Not so much for someone with lots of experience.

  51. Lizzianna*

    #4, I just got done with my maternity leave. I appreciated being invited to some of the social events. It was nice to get out of the house. Had we not been in the middle of a pandemic with an unvaccinated infant, I would have loved to have bring the baby too. One of my favorite employees left for another job while I was on leave, I would have been sad had I not had the opportunity to go to her going away lunch to say goodbye.

    But I felt free to decline, or even just ignore and “not see” the invite. If there was a lot of pressure to attend, I may feel differently.

  52. LW4*

    LW4 here. You all have made me realize I simply do not like most of my coworkers so thank you for that.

    (And thanks for the insight on the email issue. These were external emails with clients and the person on leave as the organizer of the meeting series, btw. Great point that either IT should’ve been able to switch or that it should’ve been switched to a new organizer prior to leave.)

  53. Vito*

    Re #5. A number of years ago there was a timeshare company down here whose founder told their employees that if a certain Presidental candidate (a POC) was elected then he was shutting down the company. Well, his candidate LOST and the company is still around. Checkout “The queen of Versailles ” if you want to see the family and how HUMBLY they live.

  54. Starbuck*

    “You’re correct: bad idea but legal. Private employers can indeed urge employees to vote a certain way. They can’t explicitly threaten employees’ jobs over it”

    Honestly I am surprised, is this a federal protection that employers can’t say “we’ll fire you if you don’t vote for X?” I didn’t think we had even that level of protection from employers in the US. Is the issue just about how they’ ask you to prove that – by showing a photo of your ballot? Is that the actually illegal part?

    1. Clobberin' Time*

      Employers can and do threaten employees’ jobs, they just do it indirectly. “If Candidate X is elected, we’ll have to close the business and you’ll all be out of jobs” is plenty of threat.

  55. blood orange*

    OP #2 As an alternate possibility, it may also be that the entire range is posted, but they’re placing you within their range based on your resume. For instance, if they’re open to two different candidates, one with X qualifications which would put that candidate at the lower half of the band, and another with Y qualifications which would put them at the higher half of the band. In that scenario, they may place candidates within the band based on their qualifications on paper (this is especially true if you first meet with someone who is not the ultimate decision maker, like HR).

    If this is what’s happening, they’re obviously placing you in a different part of the band than what you’d be looking for, so there’s still a misalignment.

  56. CoveredinBees*

    #1 The OP talks about assisting clients and lifts, so I’m guessing that this is some sort of medical care role (RN, CNA, etc). That sector is stretched beyond thin so I wouldn’t be surprised if they aren’t firing but for the most egregious things.

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