updates: I was promised summer hours but it’s frowned upon to use them, and more

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past. Here are three updates from past letter-writers.

1. I was promised summer hours — but it’s frowned upon to use them

The update is a wild one. Within my first year at this company, my manager wanted to take on a huge, special project and asked me if I’d step up as interim manager for a few months. I did, and after some time passed, my performance proved to be better than his. People even joked about it with him (“thanks for giving her your job, she’s so much better at it than you were”) and I think it made him pretty bitter. When his project ended, he was offered a department manager role in another department and accepted it. My interim management role was offered to me on a permanent basis and I accepted.

Over time, it became glaringly obvious that my former boss (now peer) was a narcissistic bully and, well, he’s no longer with the company. As it turns out, he was driving most of the negativity around “Summer Fridays” because he believed he was better than the rest of the “slackers” in the company. With him out of the picture, things are much more peaceful. The rest of the management team is laid back and works well together. We all greatly appreciate our Summer Friday benefit, and we take full advantage with no guilt! Of course I encourage my direct reports to do the same. And since the pandemic has brought a lot more flexibility into the work world, our HR manager is even pushing for year-round “Flex Fridays.” It’s a happy update!

2. I tried to resign, my boss cried, and I agreed to stay

I was so glad when you answered my letter, and when all the commenters also supported me in my decision. Unfortunately, it took me a few more tries to grow enough of a spine to cut ties with my old boss. I went back to her and said, look, August 1st will have to be my last day. At first she said okay, but then when the end of July rolled around, it became, “can you come in next Friday just to show me how to do XYZ?” And then “can you come in the Friday after that to take pictures of ABC for the website, edit the photos, and put them on a flash drive for me?” And then “well, we’re having a special sale on BlahBlah for Black Friday, maybe you can work that Friday and Saturday?” So I had tried to lay down a boundary, and she kept pushing it.

I finally had to say in an email, so I couldn’t get any pushback, “look, I have to be done and focus on my studies, seriously. I recommend you hire someone else, because I will not be available.” She threw another mini-fit when I went in to hand over my keys to the store, but I just had to endure that, and now it’s over! I feel much happier and lighter now that I no longer have to worry about this other job and this boss continuing to push my boundaries. And my studies are going great, as well, which they would not have been if I’d had to keep on with this job. I would have been going crazy.

And guess what, she did NOT close her business, she DID find someone else to hire, and now she says she will NOT retire next year but plans to keep going for two to three years more! Sounds like I didn’t cause a catastrophe after all.

3. I paid for transit benefits I never received (#4 at the link)

Armed with external confirmation that, no, it’s actually not unreasonable to expect my benefits, it took no fewer than 3 additional conversations with my supervisor to get any sort of resolution. I could not get my boss (THE GENERAL COUNSEL) to grasp that it didn’t matter that the org wasn’t doing anything untoward with my money, the issue was that it was MY MONEY AND THEY STILL HAD IT 2 YEARS LATER WITH NOTHING TO SHOW FOR IT.

Finally in SEPTEMBER I got a call from one of the HR people who said I could get back on transit, but that there wouldn’t be an announcement about it so I had to tell the people I saw in the office that it was available again. So just this week, I got 2 months of transit, only one month of which will be coming out of future paychecks.

Sorry to be shouty in places but I still don’t get it.

{ 21 comments… read them below }

  1. The+Real+Persephone+Mongoose*

    #3 – I don’t get it either! When we went into WFH due to COVID, I had an auto deduction from my paycheck that went on my badge so I could pay for meals at the campus cafeterias. A couple months into lockdown, it became obvious that we were not returning to the office any time soon. Corp sent out an email about the meal funds deductions recommending that anyone who had it consider temporarily suspending their deductions and IF we wanted a refund for our current balances on our cards, the company that managed the funds would be sending out instructions and would cut a check right off. Which they did. This deduction should have worked that way. You should have been offered a refund or elect to leave it there until it could be used. Should have been up to you.

    1. eeeek*

      Similar experience, here – at my uni, when it became evident that those of us who had opted to pay for on-campus parking permits through payroll deduction were not going to use that benefit in 20-21, we were allowed to cancel permits and opt into the “flex” system (pay as you reduced rates, if less than 51% time in a week). I opted to flex, and got a refund for time not parked while campus was on lockdown. So I had parking if I needed it (I did). They also factored in whether people would lose their place in line for 21-22 permits, if/when campus reopened.
      Geez. Smart people can figure this out and be fair, can’t they?

  2. Tio*

    “And guess what, she did NOT close her business, she DID find someone else to hire, and now she says she will NOT retire next year but plans to keep going for two to three years more! Sounds like I didn’t cause a catastrophe after all.”

    That is the siren song of these people – almost never does the loss of a employee result in a business collapsing, and if it does, t wasn’t well run in the first place! It’s a guilt and manipulation tactic designed to prey on you. Good for you for pushing through, even if it took a few tries.

    1. Be kind, rewind*

      I love that the OP included this last bit. So many people needlessly feel guilty about leaving jobs (even without the boss being the one putting on the pressure and claiming everything will fall apart). This is a good reminder that, yes, they’ll find a way without you.

  3. Dawn*

    LW3: Maybe speak with a lawyer at this point. This isn’t the same as “retain a lawyer” but a quick note from them – and I think they owe you interest on this too although IANAL – would surely get the company to actually start doing something.

  4. MigraineMonth*

    LW1, I was amazed that people would joke “thanks for giving her your job, she’s so much better at it than you were”. That’s… an interesting corporate culture. Especially since he was planning to go back to management.

    So glad you’re doing great as a manager and no longer working for the guy who tried to steal your benefits!

    1. I am Emily's failing memory*

      For real, it’s not a joke so much as it’s just an insult said to someone’s face while laughing.

    2. RabbitRabbit*

      I’m expecting it was maybe same-level managerial staff (possibly in different but interacting departments) with no power to oust the grouch and with no love for his managerial style. That’s the only way I could imagine not getting repercussions for saying stuff like that.

      1. LW#1*

        Yes, you’re correct about that. He was miserable to deal with – harsh and unyielding. And he told his fair share of “jokes” that were actually insults. I’ll admit that we could stand to be more professional around here, but he did kind of deserve it.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Ugh, so sorry you had to work for/with that guy and so glad he is gone and that you’re a better boss than he was. Your update certainly was wild!

        2. ScruffyInternHerder*

          ::snicker:: We have two states of professionalism here, internal and external.

          Internal, as you can possibly guess by me saying that there’s a definite split, is approximately as professional as a pre-teen who finds farts to be high comedy sprinkled with a teenager who’s learning how to curse appropriately.

          External, you wouldn’t recognize us if you were used to our internal professional selves.

          (This is pretty typical in my industry)

  5. Sotired*

    LW3. The rules for using transit money during the pandemic (when many people stopped commuting) were confusing. The IRS did not issue any Notices on this quickly. Not blaming anyone, but as a CPA it was ugly

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      As another CPA, the rules for ANYTHING related to pandemic-related closures, money transfers, or (God help us all) government grants to places that had never received govt funding in their lives were ugly.

      I’ve been buried in modified single audits all year related to FY2020 and I have no doubt that FY2021 years will be worse.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Covid benefits were not taxable by the feds but were by the state I live in–at first, the state said ‘well maybe we’ll adjust your refund’ when people protested about it, but later just fell silent and we all knew they had decided to keep the money.

        Our state’s taxes have some other bizarre features, but that was the only one related to covid that I remember.

  6. HeadBangerz*

    I’m glad #3 finally got access to their transit funds again (and hopefully a refund on any unallocated funds is in progress!), but I don’t understand why it has somehow become their responsibility to inform the rest of the team that this benefit has returned, rather than HR.

    1. Ina Lummick*

      This is probably where I’d whack out an @everyone email. (And not to accuse people of stealing headphones, which has just happened the past week…)

  7. HooDoll*

    I managed this at my last org and the issue was that the transit agency took our money already so we didn’t have the money to give back to the employees and we had to first see if that was gonna happen. After it was clear the transit agency had no urgency to figure this out, we just gave people the money back and assumed as a company we’d have to eat it as one of many Covid era sunk costs. The OP’s company should have given it back after a few months.

  8. Cherry*

    #2 ugh, I really feel for you! Honestly, she sounds like there’s a ton of red flags around working with her. An old manager of mine stormed out of the room when I resigned, and it has coloured my perception of the whole large corporation since tbh.

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